Are you restless? Is this a good thing, or not?

Is restlessness something we should embrace, or is it an indication of some unresolved issues?

Restlessness is not to be confused with anxiety, although anxiety could be described as the flip side of being restless.  Restlessness could be described as the opposite of complacency.

I was gently chided by more than one person that being restless is not a “fruit of the Spirit.”  I was reminded that it was the Apostle Paul who wrote “godliness with contentment is great gain,” and on another occasion he wrote “whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content,” thereby holding himself up as the exemplar for us to follow.

My carnal nature fights with such admonitions.  I argue that it is the type A personalities that are the achievers.  Is it not those that are restless in spirit that we turn to for the energy and enthusiasm to bulldoze life’s obstacles?

I’ve spent many an hour in the barn with the cows.  I’ve observed how they contentedly chew their cud as they are let their milk down while the milker drones on, with not a care in the world, perfectly at peace with themselves.  There are many people that are blessed with the character traits of ruminants and I admire them.  We need more of them.  It is a good thing there are more of them in the world, than there are of us.

But is there not a place for those of us who rise up daily with the weight of the world on our shoulders, those of us with the DNA of a hunter looking to bring home the venison?  Some would say this is an indication of unresolved issues, of a disturbed childhood, indications of a guilty conscience, or of not being at peace with one’s Maker. Continue reading

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Amish taking care of Amish

An Amish family wading in the Gulf, Sarasota, Florida. Used by permission from Sherry Gore, publisher and photographer.

compliments of Randy Fath, photographer.

As many of you know, we live in the heart of the world’s largest Amish-Mennonite community.  We don’t have to travel to visit one of the most beautiful places in the world.  We live in it.

Over the years I have developed a deep respect for my Amish neighbors, having worked alongside them, and lived with them, for 40 years.  I could write 100 blogs on my experiences of living with the Amish, all of which would cast these folks in a favorable light.

A fact that is little known among the “English” (the term used to describe non-Amish) is that the Amish church takes care of its members that get into financial trouble.  They will do everything they can to prevent a financial melt down.

There was much to-do about Monroe Beachy, the Amish investor from Sugarcreek, Ohio that got in over his head recently.  The New York Times wrote an extensive article on the troubles he got into, investing millions of dollars for his neighbors, and eventually losing much of it.  The church wanted to work with Mr. Beachy and resolve his financial problems within the church, but the courts would not allow it.  The church can’t be faulted for attempting to prevent the legal action that was taken.

For the past 25 years I have been closely acquainted and friends with an Amish business that unwittingly got themselves into serious financial difficulties.  Because of my unique relationship with the family, I was afforded an insider’s perspective on how the Amish church goes into action in such a situation.

Four leaders from the Amish church were appointed to work alongside the family experiencing financial difficulty.  One of the four was a church leader (not sure if he was a deacon, preacher, or bishop).  The other three were men who had extensive experience in running either their own businesses, or managing businesses for others.  It was the job of this committee to get this business and family back onto firm footing. Continue reading

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Looking down through the middle of the store. Notice the chalk signage in the foreground, and all kinds of interesting objects hanging from the rafters.

There is a reason that airline pilots are coerced into hanging it up once they reach retirement age.  There’s a reason basketball players clean out their lockers before they turn 40.

As we age, our skills decline, if not our verbosity.

There is always a new generation moving in that is quick to lap the generation preceding it.

A couple of our guests relaxing in our oak swivel, glide, and rocking arm chairs with the chalk-painted wall in the background. Faux chalk frames outline the wall art, and the end table with the kitty is drawn onto the wall (not visible in this shot) with chalk between the two chairs.

Knowing and accepting that enables me to embrace the improvements that the next generation of designers is bringing to our retail operation.

Not only the signage, but also two of the most prominent walls in the store, have been converted to erasable chalk-colored paint.  Who would have thunk it.  Mass marketing signage has been replaced with creative, free-form, calligraphy.  The two large walls have been embellished with chalk drawings: faux frames along with two dimensional sketches of end tables with a putty cat sitting under it.

The 1000 origami birds of various sizes and colors hanging from one of the arches.

They’ve brought in fertilized chicken eggs and an incubator.  The incubator not only warms the eggs, but also rotates them every two hours just the way a hen would.  They then hooked up a webcam so everyone can watch the chicks hatch during Easter week.  If I would have thought of that, I certainly wouldn’t have known how to implement it. Continue reading

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The Upside and Downside of Facebook

I resisted opening up a Facebook account.  I was concerned that with my addictive tendencies, it might be like crack.  I wasn’t all wrong.

A couple of years ago, after much prodding, I finally relented.  My arguments for not doing so were that I did not have time for such distractions, I had a job to do, I needed to be productive, I wasn’t a stand up comedian or entertainer, and FB simply distracted from my core competencies.

My criticisms of FB were based on a lack of understanding of how it worked and what could be accomplished using it.  It wasn’t long before I started to get it.  Now here I am writing a blog about it.

I have drawn a number of personal observations on what I perceive to be the weaknesses and strengths of Facebook.

I do not use Facebook to address controversial, polarizing issues.  It simply leads to flame wars.  If you love to live in the eye of a hurricane, then discussing your personal convictions on sexual abuse on Facebook is for you.  I’ve been lured into conversations on this subject, was defriended and then friended by a number of people multiple times, everyone’s blood pressure went through the roof, resulting in threats of multiple lawsuits (none were directed at me that I was aware of).  Not a pretty picture. Continue reading

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Life is a transition from cradle to grave.  We are born dying.

I recently went through one more transition.  After 36 years, I no longer go to work at the same job I held for all those years, although it hasn’t affected the time I get up each morning.

What it has affected is my umbilical connection to my notebook.  It has become more indispensable to me than my wallet, my cell phone, my false teeth, or my Bible.

Did I mention my Bible is on my Kindle on my MacBook Air?  The version I have is The Message by Eugene Peterson.  The Bible I carry to church, however, is the King James that I’ve owned since 1964.

Interestingly enough, I’ve not worked up the nerve to carry my notebook to church.  I would get more than eye rolls and cynical sideways glances if I did, although I notice at least two of my fellow members take notes on their smart phones (at least that is what they claim they are doing.)

My notebook is the first thing I pick up each morning, and it is the last thing I set aside each night.

I used to get my news through newspapers and magazines.  No longer.  I have what’s called an RSS news feed.  Every morning I scroll through articles from newspapers and blogs from all over the world.

I’ve been an insatiable bibliophile all my life, but I no longer read books.  I read Kindle downloads from Amazon on my notebook.  (My apologies to all my friends who own bookstores.) Continue reading

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It is not possible to lead by hiding under a rock.  To lead you must be visible.  You live under the klieg lights of public scrutiny.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart.  It is not for the doubting.  It is for those who are willing to risk failure to accomplish greatness.

Leaders are constantly on parade.  They have an audience that is scrutinizing their every move.  A follower’s ability to emulate the leader will enhance their ability to ingratiate themselves within the organization, to be recognized by management, and to successfully move upward.

The cues from a leader are not difficult to pick up.  They are displayed in multiple ways:  the way they walk, dress, speak, write, what they drive, how they drive, the people they associate with,  and how they treat others.

Do they park in a reserved space just for them, or do they park with everyone else?  Do they put their pants (or skirt) on one leg at a time, or do they jump into them? Continue reading

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There are few things in life more precious, and yet so fragile, as a personal sense of direction, so meaningful and yet so elusive as a purpose driven life.  With it, life is bountiful and rewarding.  Without it, one flops around like a fish out of water

I would know.  In my early twenties, over a two year span, I held twelve different jobs, (I can still sequentially list them) all in different towns and cities in three separate provinces in Western Canada.  More than once, I moved before receiving my first check.  I didn’t have a mailbox or an address.  My mail was delivered General Delivery, often forwarded from one post office to the next attempting to catch up with me.  Some pay-roll checks never did.

I was miserable beyond description, working hard to find my sea legs, deluding myself into thinking that around the next corner I would discover my nirvana, not recognizing that no matter how hard I tried to leave my baggage behind, unlike American Airlines, it always showed up.

It was not until I was 30, married, and with a one-year-old daughter, that I discovered what it was that energized me:  the pedestrian, non-glamorous life of working in the business world.  It stoked my fire and that was what mattered.  I found the right bus, and the right seat on the bus.  The ride has not always been smooth, and since then, on occasion, I’ve lost my raison d’être, but thankfully I’ve always managed to rediscover God’s ordained plan for me. Continue reading

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A person who leads through warmth rather than wrath.

A person who is secure in their own skin, is not emotionally needy, nor in constant need of affirmation.

A person who tolerates fools gladly, who has the patience to deal with the obtuse and the incompetent.  A person who is kind.

A person who is not afraid to change their mind when presented with new information, who fears bigotry, yet is not fickle.

A person who would rather deflect recognition to those that enabled them rather than bask in the glory as if they, and they alone, were able to be so successful.  A person who is a team player, and inept at blowing their own horn.

A person who is complimentary, rather than critical, and manages to draw out the best in others through verbal encouragement and tangible affirmation.

A person who places a higher priority on inner beauty, rather than outer. Continue reading

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Extroverts are Overrated.

The folks grabbing the attention are seldom the shy, quiet, introverts that think three times before they speak.  Hardly!  It is more the likes of the winning Charlie Sheen,  or the Kardashians who marry and divorce as a publicity stunt, the Lady Gagas, and even Madonna, who in her 50’s, managed to worm her way back into the headlines at the Superbowl, later referred to as the pinnacle of her career.  Some pinnacle!

Extroverts, such as myself, who suffer from an excessive sense of self-importance, have convinced ourselves that our influence and self-worth is somehow tied to how many contacts we have in our e-mail list, how many friends we have on FB, how many followers on Twitter, how many likes we get on our comments, how cute, witty, and flip we can be in an attempt to convince everyone of our obvious intelligence.  Those that lean in and are a part of the conversation are the like-minded extroverts, the ones that stir the pot while attempting to cover the disdain we have for the voyeurs and the skulkers that lurk on the sidelines. Continue reading

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Jeremy Lin – no fifteen minutes in the spotlight.

Jeremy with his family, 1989

Jeremy Lin is the real deal.  Whether referred to as LinSanity, LinCredible, or LinDerella, he is more than living up to the billing.  Even Spike Lee was wearing a Knick’s jersey with the number 17 while court-side Sunday afternoon.

Thanks to yesterday’s nationally broadcast game on ABC between the New York Knicks and the Dallas Mavericks, Jeremy Lin was granted the platform to show the world his stuff.

It was a few scant hours after one employee from ESPN was terminated and another suspended after a racial slur was directed at Jeremy, an American born Chinese, wondering about his “chink in the armor” following his first loss since becoming a starter. Continue reading

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