Four Life Lessons Taught by a Pair of Jeans

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Recently I put on an old pair of jeans that used to be my favorite! They were by a brand I have worn for over twenty years, and always appeared to be great quality. Changes in the brand became noticeable after they were sold to a huge department chain five years ago.

Love these jeans

A few years ago, I revisited a boutique that has had a reputation of selling quality clothing since 1947. They had a sell on their jeans and I bought some of them, and wouldn’t you know, they fit fabulously! So those all became my go to jeans. Fast forward to the present. I put on my old favorite jeans, and they were so ill-fitted. I could not believe it. The seams weren’t straight, which I vaguely remember being an issue in the past, but I would always fix them throughout the day. They were also extremely high watered. (I love anklet pants, but these were borderline “Steve Urkel-ish”.

Lookin good

I began to wonder when had these pants changed for me, and reluctantly put them in a bag to take to Goodwill. This brings me to the Four Life Lessons Taught by a Pair of Jeans.

Four Life Lessons

Lesson 1 – Great Fit

There may be a time when the friends you have, the organization(s) you belong to, the place of your employment, the products you use and the clothes you wear, are a great fit!

When you started with the friends, you all had certain things in common, and fun together. When you first joined the organization(s), it had so much meaning. When you started your position, you were full of purpose and excited about all of the potential opportunities that awaited. When you first used the products or wore the clothes, they seemed perfect.

It is totally natural to feel good about something when you first start it and even more common to keep it around if it is a good fit for you at the time.

Lesson 2 – Perception

To perceive, is to interpret things by our senses instead of at face value. Do not get me wrong, we need to be able to see if something is a good for us, but sometimes going only by what we see, can cause us to ignore minor defects that will become obvious in the long run.

A good example of this is when the Pharisees had conspired against Jesus, and planned to ask him a question in order to catch him off guard. The Bible said that Jesus “perceived their thoughts” and ended up being the one to catch them off guard with his response. If you want to read more about that it is in the Book of Luke chapter 5.

We can think something is a good fit, and it very well may be, but also be open to perception. Make sure to pay attention and not ignore what you may not see with the naked eye.

Lesson 3 – Change and Transition

You may be loyal to a certain brand, relationship, organization(s), place of employment, or location, but you must remain open to the possibility of change and transition.

Change and transition allows you to have the option of being flexible. Flexibility is the keyword. If you are open to change, then even if you are loyal to the brand, the relationship, organization(s), and position, you will be able to see things objectively and perceive whether or not it is time to transition to something different.

Transition

Lesson 4 – Making Room

Most of us are pretty good about going through our old jeans, clothing, and household goods. We end up putting what we no longer need into a bag and donating it. Why? To trim down clutter, and make more room/space. We may need to observe all areas of our lives and see if it is still a good fit for us. If it is, and you know it is where you need to be and what you need to be doing; in theory, continue wearing your old pair of jeans!

If you evaluate the areas of your life and determine it no longer fits who you are, and that you may need to be doing something else; it could be time to open the doors of change and transition.

It is my hope that the Four Life Lessons Taught by a Pair of Jeans, benefit you as much as it did me.

Jeans and Life Lessons

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Launch Into the Deep and Cast Your Net

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

It is human nature for us to want to do things our own way because ultimately, we believe we know what is best for us. This is especially the case in our area of expertises. Did you know that sometimes, even an expert could still use some help?

This reminds me of Simon Peter. He was a Professional Fisherman, who had been doing it most of his life. He knew the proper weather conditions for fishing, and the proven techniques to use in order to catch fish. One day, he was out on his boat with Jesus, on the Lake of Gennesaret, also know as the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus had been teaching from his boat most of the day. After he finished teaching, he told Simon Peter to launch out into the deep, and cast his net.

Simon Peter was a little exasperated by the directive, and replied that he had already been working all night and caught nothing. He also could have been a little upset because he was a Professional Fisherman by trade, while Jesus was a Carpenter. Not to mention, there had been large crowds around most of the day, so the fish were probably scared away.

*Important Point* Have you ever been in this predicament? Felt as though you had been working diligently for, or towards something, only to receive nothing in return? If you have, then you understand how annoying it is for someone, who seemingly knows less than you about the subject, tells you to keep continue trying. If someone is telling you that right now, you have two choices. You can continue trying, or give up. Which one will you choose?

Choose one

Simon Peter decided to try again, and replied saying, “Nevertheless, at your word, I will let down the net.” Choosing to believe Jesus’s word, created an opportunity of abundance. Simon Peter ended up catching so many fish in the net, that it started to break! He had to solicit help from their partners in a neighboring boat. Each boat became so full, they almost began to sink!

Because Simon Peter chose to ignore the obvious and listen to Jesus’s word, he was rewarded with catching so many fish that he couldn’t contain it all. Simon Peter believed the word and not his circumstances.

*Take Away* We can work very hard, and for a long time without ever seeing results, but when Jesus directs our work, the results will be inevitable!

Wellness Tip: Eat and Drink more antioxidants, they protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food or when you’re exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation. Foods high in antioxidants.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Hypocrite Meter

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

When you hear the word “hypocrite” many images may come to mind. A scheming actor on a soap opera, a politician, or world leader. What does not come to mind is probably the word theater. Yes, I said theater! I remember my surprise learning this information, first semester of my Freshman year in college. Would you believe my first (out of three) declared major in college was Theater? I was quite determined to be on broadway. Starting as a ten year old, I took ballet, tap, and jazz, and as a teenager acted in a few local productions. I got an agent, and I thought I was on my way, lol.

After first semester, I decided to give up on my broadway dreams, be content on the cheer and dance team in college, and change my major again, lol.

I digress, back to the topic at hand, hypocrites. The word hypocrite, simply stands for actor or stage player.

The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks. (merriam-webster.com)

In the past, this word stood for pretense on the stage because ultimately actors were behaving as different characters. It did not gain a negative connotation until the early 1700s, 500 years after its’ original use. When it is heard now, we see it as a person who acts contrary to their beliefs and feelings depending on who they are around.

Anyone who says peer pressure is only a K-12 situation, needs to think again. Peer pressure still exist among adults as well.

Four Examples of Adult Peer Pressure

Friendship – You have a person who you consider a friend or decent individual, but if the group or certain person does not like that person, you feel pressured to start disliking them as well.

Praying over your meal – You have always said grace over your food, but when with certain people, you feel pressured not to do so.

Lifestyle Choices – You uphold certain values that may be perceived as primitive, but when around certain people you feel ashamed of those values and do not want to talk about them in fear of what others would think.

Hobbies – You like doing certain things, but when around certain people you clam up about it, because of being teased before.

These things actually happen in adulthood, and can produce hypocrites if not careful.

Solution

The solution to these issues is to be content.

Be Content

Be content in your choices of friendship – If you are friends with a person, it is for reasons that others may not understand and is between you and that person. If the friendship is true, do not allow other opinions to sway yours.

Be content with your values – If you have conservative values, be proud of that. The people around you will understand if they truly respect you. If made to feel uncomfortable because of your values, consider changing your surroundings.

Be content with lifestyle choices – If you have decided to live according to a certain creed, it was probably for a reason. Do not compromise that for anyone.

Be content with your hobbies – If certain activities bring you happiness, enjoy it! People may not understand why you enjoy it, but our differences are what makes things interesting.

Reflection

Where are you on the Hypocrite Meter?

We have the ability to reflect on our lives, see flaws, and change our behavior. We do not have to behave contrary to our belief system and feelings. We can become people of integrity which is the opposite of a hypocrite.

Being a person of integrity means we reflect on the outside, what is on the inside. Like an integer, we can be whole and complete. We are not perfect, but as the scripture says:

The Challenge

I would like to issue a challenge to myself and others.

Going forward, stop entertaining people that make you feel the need to wear a mask, in order to appease them.

Be yourself. If they do not like it, it is ok. God can and will place like-minded people in your life. Bad company corrupt good character. ~1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not become a hypocrite at the pressure of so-called associates or friends. If they do not like who you are without the mask, they certainly will not care for you with the mask.

Be content. Life is too short to continue worrying about how others feel about you. Spend more energy and time helping those who appreciate it. Do not cast your pearls before swine. This will be the topic of my next post.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Adjust Adapt: Bloom Anywhere

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

There are several plants that beat the odds by growing in tough conditions. The conditions could include freezing and hot temperatures. As human beings, we have the ability to adjust and adapt to our environments so that we can grow, or become dry, unresponsive and wither away.

Whether you are in a windy, dry or rainy environment, you can still grow as if you were planted in fertile soil.

Conditions

Think of your environment. Is it adding or subtracting from you? If your answer is adding that is really good, but if it is subtracting, you-can-still-grow.

Conditions and Solutions to Promoting Growth:

Cloudy Conditions

In a cloudy environment, there is a lot of confusion and shade. Do not let it drain you. The solution is to take plenty of notes, have thick skin, and be willing to ask questions. In cloudy conditions, if you stop complaining, and worrying about others; you could focus on finding resources and gaining understanding.

Windy Conditions

In a windy environment, things are ever-changing. One minute things seem to be a one way, and another minute, it is different. Change happens, but when it becomes a habit, it can be a tough. A solution to surviving in this environment is to be flexible and resilient. Do not fraternize with people who continuously complain about the changes, and never offer solutions. It can be tempting to listen, but in the end, valuable time will be wasted, and you will not grow.

Rainy Conditions

In a rainy environment, there is a lot of criticism. Think of the ole adage don’t rain on my parade. That is exactly what occurs in this environment. When a new idea, or possible suggestion is presented, it gets rained on. One solution to this issue is to choose not to be offended, realize that all criticism is not meant to be harmful; some of it actually comes from a good place. Another solution before sharing an idea, is to have a visual of some sort, a presentation or a graphic organizer. This may assist in helping those on the receiving end understand the idea better, and promote growth.

Dry Conditions

In a dry environment, there is not much movement. Resources dry up, and things become stagnant. During this time, people begin to complain about not having what they need in order to make things happen. The solution is to stop focusing on what is not there, and become innovative with what is there. Certain people flourish in a dry environment because they do not allow their present conditions to dictate their actions or outcomes.

All of these conditions play an important role. It takes the adverse conditions of rain (criticism), wind (change), cloud (confusion/shade) and dry (stagnant), to make the flower bloom. We are no different than the flower.

Reflect

Where are you right now? Are you under inauspicious conditions? The good news is that the conditions, do not have to hinder your growth. There is still a chance for you to receive favorable things in an unfavorable environment.

As long as you do not allow the toxicity of complainers to overtake your mind, and stay focus on the solutions provided; growth is inevitable. The only difference in good and bad environments, are the words and actions of the people around you. Stay solid, and the environment around you will either change, or you may be placed inside another one.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Double-Minded Island

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I am back from my hiatus on Double-Minded Island. Double-Minded Island is an Island shaped like a hand and is a place people end up who are in the valley of decisions.

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On the island, as I was reflecting about life and where I wanted to go from this point, a memory of a time come to mind. It was a little over 12 years ago when I had been applying to different alternative teaching programs around the U.S. and internationally. It was a very confusing time. I had been praying for clarification because every opportunity that came appeared to be a good idea, but as we know, not everything that is “good” is of “God.”

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One day, I was visiting an old building that I used to rent for a business I owned. The new owners had made the building into a used bookstore that I frequented from time to time. As I stood in line to purchase a book, a man came behind me that looked like a character from a Canterbury Tales novel, beard and all.

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As I was standing in line, taking my wallet out for payment, the gentleman behind me asked about a picture in my wallet of a family member. After providing some insight about that family member, he went on to ask me had I been trying to make a decision about moving lately? I was surprised because I had been trying to decide on whether or not to move. He told me to hold out my hand, he wanted to use it as an analogy. He held up my pointer finger and said, “This is your who, the middle finger is your what, the ring finger is your when, the pinky finger is your where and your thumb finger is your why.” He went on to say, “Never make a decision to do anything, unless the why makes sense. The why functions like your thumb and without it, you won’t grip very well, or hold on to anything for long.” He told me praying about it will help me make sound decisions.” Afterwards I thanked him, and he mentioned he had to go walk to the store up the road to get medicine for his wife. It was super cold outside that day, as it was mid-October, so I was surprised he was walking. After I paid, I went outside to make sure he was ok and there was no sign of him anywhere.

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I got into my car and sat there thinking at how much God must really care to send a stranger to tell me something like that when I really needed hear it. As I prayed and reflected on the positions I vacillated between, I thought about my hands, my fingers and my why. As I did this, things became much clearer. I began to ask myself, “Why do I really want to go to these places?” I began to realize a lot of the why behind me going was not for me, but for others.

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We end up on Double-Minded Island because of discontentment. Discontentment usually comes from comparing ourselves to others. It can start small, walking by someone and noticing their designer watch or bag. Surfing through Instagram, FB, or Twitter, and seeing smiling faces on vacations in nice restaurants, waterskiing and so on. It could even come from chatting with a friend and hearing about a really great experience they’ve recently had. All of these happenings could lead to discontentment and unhappiness in our own lives.

Jealousy-quote

I am glad I had that memory after my hiatus to Double-Minded Island because it reminded me the importance of knowing my why behind each decision I make. If you are trying to decide between a decision, and end up on Double-Minded Island and remember:

Pointer Finger – Who

Middle Finger – What

Ring Finger – When

Pinky Finger – Where

Thumb Finger – WHY

This will get you back on the Boat of Contentment, which is a much joyful and peaceful place. I leave you with these last words of encouragement.

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Rejoicing in Trials

James 1: 6-8

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Wellness Tip:  Take vitamins. If you feel like you aren’t getting the nutrition you need from your diet, don’t hesitate to supplement it with specific vitamins to stay healthy and illness free.

Life is too precious to remain stuck in an unpleasant story, so go ahead and close that story book and began a new one.” ~Dr. Kamina Fitzgerald

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

No Fishing in the Sea of Forgetfulness

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Over a year ago, I wrote a post about the Spirit of Anti-Progress. If you would like to read it, there will be a link at the end of this post.

Another enemy of progress that I would like to focus on is self-condemnation. The root word of condemnation is condemn. The definition is below:

Key words that stood out from the definition are:

Disapproval

Punishment

Criticize

Castigate

These are severe words that have a negative connotation attached to them. Imagine if you constantly subjected yourself to self-disapproval, self-punishment, self-criticism and self-castigation. How far would you go physically, mentally or spiritually?

Progression IS

Progression is seeing a goal in front of you, kicking the ball into the direction of the goal, and scoring! Progression is seeing the goal, missing sometimes, but doing your best to win the game. Progression is also taking the strategies learned from your losses, and using them to play better the next time.

Progression IS NOT

Progression is not entertaining self-loathing thoughts on a regular basis. Progression is not telling yourself that you are incompetent every other second because you made a mistake. Progression is not perfection.

The failures of yesterday happened either by accident, or on purpose. The failures may have been the result of something out of your control. The good news is that it does not have to define who you are today, or what you will do from this point on. Everyone has made mistakes in their past, even done or said things they were ashamed of; the key is to not allow the feeling to carry on into the next day.

There are two encouraging scriptures I would like to share: The first passage points out that when God forgives sin, He no longer remembers it, and the second passage says that God cast all of our sins into the depths of the sea. This occurs whenever we repent of our wrong-doing. The Sea of Forgetfulness is a metaphor relating to these two passages of scripture.

Hebrews 8:12 (KJV) 
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 

Micah 7:19 (KJV) 
19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 

These passages should bring us comfort because if God forgets our transgressions after we repent to him, why should we continue to condemn ourselves over them?

It is toxic to repeatedly play negative thoughts about your past, yourself and others.

Toxic Thoughts

Allowing negativity in your mind will eventually brew an environment of anti-progress. Why? Because in order to progress, you have to be in the mind frame of goal setting, and developing steps towards those goals. Continuous thoughts about things that have gone wrong yesterday, is an enemy to progress.

Takeaways

Get out of your head. (Stop letting your imagination run away from you, not everyone is against you. Sometimes you may be wrong about your conclusions of another person. Do not let your negative self-talk, conversations rule your mind so much that you lose sight of what is happening in the world around you.)

Monitor what you put in your ear and eye gate. (In the age of Social Media, we have to be aware that most of what is displayed is negative, or meant to invoke a negative response. Be mindful of what you read, listen to and watch. If it does not add to you, it may be taking away something valuable.)

Do not dwell on past failures. (Learn from them, and carry on.)

Surround yourself with people who support/build, instead of tearing down. (You have heard of the ole English Proverb, Birds of a feather flock together. It is only ok to keep people in your close friend circle if you all are planning to fly in the same direction. Otherwise, politely keep them in the outer courts.)

We all have failed at something, but that does not mean we have to remain at Camp Failure. Stop the self-condemnation, you have too much to accomplish in your life to focus on yesterday. It is time to start thinking about your next steps right now!

When I was a teacher, I remember having students compare and contrast SMART Goals vs the Regular Goals, and it was a game changer for them. Try using it towards your next goal, it will make a huge difference.

SMART Goals

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Wellness Tip:

Get enough sleep (and wake up with water)

The body restores itself and regenerates naturally when we sleep. Wake up with water. Your liver works hard at night! Rehydrate in the morning (before having coffee) with one to two glasses of warm lemon water.

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. “ ~Pele

Relevant Post

Energy Level Check: Is There an Emotional Vampire in Your Life?

The school bell has rung and class is now in session,

When you hear the word “vampire” the images that may come to mind is Barnabas Collins from “Dark Shadows” or

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Edward Cullen from “Twilight”

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I have come to inform you that vampires are quite real, maybe not in the sense of these characters, but when it comes to certain individuals we have in our lives, they could very well be Emotional Vampires and if they are, you need to run the other way, fast!

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Now in order to run from the Emotional Vampires, you will need to be able to recognize them. So, I will list six ways to identify these horrible creatures.

1. Emotionally Draining – The first thing you will noticed about this type of individual is
how emotionally and physically drained you feel after being in their company. I am not talking about the occasional time when a particular family member or friend share their issues with you, and you feel slightly tired after listening to them. I am talking about the individual who does it the emotional vampire way. Instead of sharing a small problem, they constantly bombard you with a plethora of them, while sucking you dry of advice and emotional responses ALL-THE-TIME.

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You may ask, “What is wrong with doing this? Plenty of people do this, even I do this!” That is not what I am referring to. I am talking about feeling like your head is literally spinning after you have finished a conversation with them. #abnormalfeeling

  1. Negativity Overload – After the conversation is long over with the emotional vampire in your life, you still experience this nagging negativity hangover. It is like taking a Benadryl too late before bed and waking up feeling a groggy brain-fog, after-affect. You probably did not realize until now, but that cloud of negativity was not coming from you; it was actually coming from the words of that emotional vampire you have been surrounding yourself with.
  2. You feel much better when they are not around – Picture yourself listening to the individual, while listening to them you feel bad, after listening to them you still feel gloomy. It isn’t until you have gone a few days, weeks or months, without talking/listening to this individual that you start to feel somewhat normal again. This is because while conversing with them, they not only unload a lot of negativity on you; they also tend to not actively listen to anything you have to say. So, going on a detox from this individual may show you just how good life could be without them. Go ahead and press the “Reset” button, for lighter and happier times ahead. #letitgo #frozenstyle
  3. Simplicity goes out the Window – Another sign of an emotional vampire is when having, what you believe to be, a simple conversation with them, ends up leaving you in a ball of confusion.                                                                                                8EB71179-F9AB-4CDB-AD8C-05A6757D8F51_4_5005_cWhat starts out as a simple statement, ends with the emotional vampire taking things completely out of context; leaving you disoriented and wondering what in the Sam Hill went wrong. Communication gaps happen, yes, but in the case of the emotional vampire, they are inevitable because the vampire is usually busy being negative, playing mind games, refusing to give straight answers or being overly defensive of their “uncalled for” behavior. This is definitely a trait that you should be on the lookout for because simplicity is certainly a thing of the past with them. #byebyesimplicity
  1. They make you feel deflated – These emotional vampires tend to deflate everyone around them. They cannot stand to see anyone thriving in anything because they are debbie-downers and want to make others feel that way too. A true friend would like for you to be happy and celebrate with you when things are good, and comfort you when things are bad. An emotional vampire does the complete opposite, covertly; they do not bring comfort; nor do they celebrate you. They only do it if it serves themselves in some form or fashion. Most of the time they appear to only “tolerate” you being in their lives. They are really not into you or what you have going on but keep you around for their own purposes. So, ask yourself again, why do you entertain such a person? Inquiring minds would like to know.
  2. You have a sneaky suspicion the friendship isn’t quite real – With emotional vampires, they only put up with you because a) they need a sounding-board b) they need someone to put down so that they can feel better about themselves c) they need emotional responses to what they are saying [in these cases they will have multiple people they run to for this because your response alone will not be enough] d) they need your energy to empower themselves. Notice how all of these reasons are about them and not the friendship? This is normally the case with these creatures, I mean, emotional vampires. Once they get the energy and attention they crave, you will be out of sight and out of their narrow minds, until they need another energy fix again.

What to do if you have been bitten by an emotional vampire:

1. Establish the no contact rule, this is important because they are sly creatures and can usually lure you back into the friendship before you have time to think about it. Cutting ties will allow you to get back to emotional freedom sooner than later.

2. Do not try to reason with emotional vampires, it will not work. You will just become tangled up again in their web of deceit.

3. If you work with the person in a common organization, separate yourself and only deal with them professionally. Do not meet up for dinner or talk on the phone. Keep everything strictly work related, and at work only.

4. Develop a support system of people who care about you, and who are willing to talk and actively listen. This marks a healthy relationship. Now go forth and be a Vampire Slayer!

 

Wellness Tip: Clear conscious. Do not be afraid to say you are sorry and to forgive.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~William A. Ward

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

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