What do you do for recreation?

Recreation time is something we learn to value as little children. It is that time when we can “re”-create; meaning we can go out to play and have fun. Every culture in the world knows the meaning of recreation time. Doctors and scientists tell us how important it is for adults as well as children to have recreation time. It is an essential time for growth and development. We actually re-create ourselves. How do we do this? By using recreation time to pursue other interests, by being less goal oriented and by exploring things that have no immediate payoff. Recreation is doing things just for the fun of doing them without expectation of gain or reward.

As the world becomes more global and more competitive, perhaps we all need more recreation time both at work and at home. The fifteen minute break time you get at work is not the same as recreation time. That brief respite is designed to prevent you from having a nervous or physical break down. It is not nearly enough time to help you to recreate. Organizations pay lip service to the idea of growth and development but provide hardly enough time for it to happen. Colleges are one of the few institutions that give paid sabbaticals. I have often thought sabbaticals should be mandatory for all institutions both profit and non-profit. Imagine, if you could get paid to take off for a year. You could use this time to attend classes, go on vacation, pursue new hobbies or learn some new skills. Why should a company pay for you to have time off? The simple answer is because new skills and training will benefit the company. Ideally what helps any of us become better people will help our society and our economy. This is taking a long term view of growth which is not widely recognized in organizations. Many companies refuse to reimburse for tuition and schooling unless it is directly related to the present job. This is taking the short view of life.

Well, enough writing for now. It is time for me to re-create. What are you going to do today for recreation? How much time each day do you allow for recreation? Can you say that you have fun each and every day of the week? Why not? What would it take to change your life to have more fun? When do you propose to start? How many people do you know who started a career or a business based on something that they once did for fun? Why not get paid to do what you think is fun? Maybe you can put the joy and creativity in your career that you found in your hobby. Why should work not be fun? Why can’t fun be work?

Can you say "Thank God Its Monday? Why Not?

Monday seems to be the day of the week that people hate the most. It is the beginning of the work week for many of us. We mostly think about the difficulties and problems that lie before us. Few people wake up on Monday morning feeling like they do on a weekend or vacation day. I try to make my Mondays different. I start out each Monday with the following reflection: “I give thanks for this new day and a new start. I give thanks for my health and for my friends and for my family and for my wife.” Monday is special for me because it is a new opportunity. It is a chance for a fresh start. It is my “Groundhog Day.”

Regardless of what went wrong last week or the mistakes I made, my reflection reminds me that this is a new week and a chance to start over. I could easily succumb to the negative thoughts about Monday but my reflection reminds me what I wonderful day it really is. It reminds me of my blessings and that today is a new start. Why start off the week with a down feeling? Life is a series of opportunities that are presented to us each day. The time I have on Monday is no different than the time I have on Saturday or Sunday. I choose my life by the choices I make with the time I have. So do you. There are no Mondays or Saturdays; these are only labels that we put on time and the great cycle of life. These labels are simply conveniences and instead we turn them into traps. We have Mondays, Hump-days, TGIF days, work-days and holidays. Each of these days is what you make out of them. Each one is a potential to live a new life and to have a new beginning.

Do you see Mondays as a day to dislike or can you see Mondays as a springboard to a new beginning and a new life? Which way would you rather see Monday? What would make your life a new beginning this Monday? It is your choice! Read the book Thank God its Monday” for a new way of thinking about life.

What does party time mean to us?

The day after Thanksgiving! Specials, up-early, out with your siblings, bargains galore. The day has become a sort of party for many of us who love shopping or just an excuse for an adventure. Speaking of partys, wow, how we all love parties. Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y all have one thing in common. They all love parties. I have a party to go to! It’s a wedding party, a dinner party, an office party, a graduation party, a birthday party, a Halloween party, a holiday party, or just a plain old party. I have to get ready for the party. What will I wear? How will I look? What time should I arrive? What should I bring? What should I say when I get there? Will so and so be there? Questions, anxiety, propriety and tradition all fill our minds when we think of going to a party. Yet, few of us will refuse a party invitation unless we have an even better party to go to.

We seldom ask what it means to party as we assume we know. Nevertheless, we all have a very different idea of what “party-time” means. Some of us see it as a chance to drink and eat. Some of us see it as a chance to meet and mingle with the other sex. Some of use see it as chance to network and refresh our business contacts. Some of us see it as a chance to show off our new status or accomplishments. All of us have different associations of what party-time means.

Traditionally, a party is a time to celebrate and join together with others in a socially relaxed setting. In more modern times, business has been added as a legitimate element of parties. We now have Amway Parties, Tupperware Parties and Lingerie Parties. Most often we find women going to these. Have you ever wondered why we don’t have these house parties for men? Of course, men have stag parties and bachelor parties, but women now have bachelorette parties. Maybe men get enough of their business done on the golf course. What is your favorite type of party? Why? What is the best party you have ever gone to? If you could design the greatest party in the world, how would it look? Who would you invite? Where would you have it? How long would it last? Can I come?

What is the meaning of Thankgiving?

Holiday time or Holy-Day time? Each year I wonder what time people are really celebrating. Christmas becomes X-Mass, holy-days become holidays, days of remembrance become good days to host a backyard barbecue. Where it the soul in our bodies? Where is the spirit in our natures? Is time off meant to be simply another day to watch the “big game.” Are holy-days meant to be spent shopping? Is Santa Claus a Christian because he gives toys to tots? Was that Christ’s message, to spend Christmas roasting chestnuts round an open fire singing Jingle Bell Rock?

It’s not my intentions to sound like a Grinch or to “cast stones” at sinners. We all need time to relax and we all need time for fun and games. However, when do we say enough? What about the meaning of the time that we are granted. Do we simply see our time off as a holiday or do we embrace this gift as a time to remember our dead, our veterans, our special leaders and those they helped pave the way for us. These “holidays” we are given each year, whether in remembrance of a religious or civic event should not pass by without our taking the time to remember what their true meaning is.

This Thanksgiving, will you take the time to say a prayer of thanks, will you ask all present to thank God or whomever or whatever you believe in for the gifts and the life you are living? This year, I will ask all present at my Thanksgiving table to take a minute to express what they are thankful for in their lives; then we will dive in on the turkey, stuffing, and dressing. Do you know a prayer of thanks? What is your favorite prayer?

What is the significance of the Apocalypse?

The Apocalypse- the end of the world, the coming of judgment day, the day of reckoning! The word Apocalypse has held a series of ominous meanings for hundreds of years now. It is not unusual to hear some “fire and brimstone” TV evangelist telling us that this day is coming very soon.

“The term was first used among Hellenistic Jews to refer to a number of writings which depicted the future state of the world in a parabolic way (e.g. Apocalypse of Baruch). The whole class is now commonly known as ‘Apocalyptic literature’. However, the Apocalypse technically refers to the unveiling of God, and not to the destruction of the world, just of our preconceptions” (Wikipedia).

The writing of the Apocalypse that comes to mind for many Christians is the last book of the New Testament. This is the Apocalypse of John or the Book of Revelation. The book is a somewhat mystical treatise on the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Much as with the writings of the prophet Nostradamus, people are able to read many things into this work. It is often invoked to imply the damnation of the world as we now know it because the world is full of sinners and they will need to be purged before the rest of us can go to heaven. In the Book of Revelation, John writes: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end… But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

There is a deeper message here that can be implied regardless of your faith or religion. This message is that we all need to keep our houses in better order, because we never know when the end, our end is near. I would give long odds that I will meet my end, many decades before the world comes to its end. Looked at this way, the Apocalypse that is coming will be mine. Will I be ready to meet my last days? Will you be able to face your final moments on earth knowing that you were kind and charitable to all people? If you had to be judged today, would you be found guilty or innocent? Is your house in order? Would you be ready and able to meet your maker today?

Does history keep repeating itself?

Let’s think a little more about the idea that there is nothing new under the sun. If so, does history repeat itself and is Heraclitus wrong when he says that “we never step in the same river twice?” There seems to be considerable evidence on both sides. Santayana said that: “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” and Hegel said that: “What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” Both Hegel and Santayana imply that history keeps repeating itself because of the folly of humans. We do not learn from putting our hand in the fire so we keep getting burned as we put our hand back in the fire. The constant wars between people would seem to validate this rather negative view of humans.

A good friend of mine had a sign over his desk that read: “There are no mistakes, only lessons to be learned.” I loved his optimistic and hopeful view that we can learn from our mistakes and continue to see life as one big educational experience. Nevertheless, there are an abundance of people who do not want to go to school or who think that once they have finished school, they will never need to pick up a book again.

Marx once said that “religion was the opiate of the masses.” Today, it seems that sports are the opiate of the masses. Millions of people watch TV daily to view basketball, soccer, football, golf, tennis, hockey, baseball, and NASCAR racing. How many of these same people will watch any political debates, documentaries, the History Channel or take a class again in some new subject or language? How many will care enough to learn about the politicians who make decisions over their lives? How many will bother to learn the “statistics” of the candidates the same way they learn the stats on their favorite players? We complain about our politicians as being unreliable and weak, but how many of us blame ourselves for the government we get? I once heard it said that “people get the government they deserve.” If most of us would rather watch the latest football game, should we really condemn the mediocrity of the politicians we elect?

What have you done lately to take part in your government? How much effort do you spend on learning about the people running for office? Do you spend money on campaign contributions or do you just let the “big shots” fund the candidates? What are you doing to help stop history from repeating itself?

What is really new in the world?

Time and time again! We make the same mistakes over and over again. We say that history repeats itself. Styles return and fashions go in cycles. Some of us believe we will be born again and others believe in reincarnation. The same people give us the same headaches time and time again. Is there anything new under the sun or is life simply one big process of recycling? What does it mean to be new or different? When we think we are being unique, are we simply copying an earlier style or idea? Who among us has had an idea that has never been thought of before? We have here the makings of an age old argument wherein there are those who believe that there is nothing new under the sun and those who like Heraclitus (535 BC) say “we never step in the same river twice.” The Chinese invented an early form of vaccination four thousand years ago and the Romans had an early form of air conditioning. Are old ideas simply recycled and modernized to be labeled like the “New Improved Tide.” We all know it is the same old Tide, with a new package.

On the other hand, how could we be living in the world today if not due to brand spanking new ideas? Satellites, automobiles, computers, cell phones, blogs, and myriad other products and services did not exist more than 100 years ago. How could these all be simply old ideas recycled? This question forces us to think about the definitions of new and old. New ideas surely stem from old ideas and many ideas were first thought of hundreds if not thousands of years ago. However, it is one thing to think of an idea and another thing to bring it to fruition. Many of the products and services we have today would not have been possible even decades ago. They would not have had the supply, production, distribution or technology to create the products and services we so casually enjoy today. No, I say give the old it’s due but today is not the past. I agree with Heraclitus, “You never step in the same river twice.”

What is one thing that you feel is truly new in your life? What is one thing different about your life from anyone else’s in your family? What is something that you think is unique about today’s world that differentiates it from the world of your ancestors? Do you think we are making progress in the world, staying in the same place or falling behind?

Day 309:

What if Saturdays did not exist?

Saturday is the day that many of wait for all week long. It is the first day of our weekend. It is the day we are free to play, work in the yard, take the motorcycle for a spin, go fishing, camping, hiking or take a trip. Saturday is a mini-vacation. We get fifty two Saturdays a year and we wish we had more. Did you know that fewer people were born on Saturdays than on other days? One study showed that “Weekend births (around 8000 per day) are significantly lower than weekday births (about 11,000 to 12,000 per day). I believe it is because we don’t like to do scheduled things on Saturday. It is our day of rest. It is our day of play. It is our day to do whatever we want to do. Even on Sunday, our legitimate day of rest, we may have obligations like going to church or visiting relatives. However, Saturday, we are free to do whatever we want to do. (Unless of course, we are one of the unfortunates who have to work overtime or work on the weekend.)

Little Richard had a hit song called “Rip It Up.” The lyrics went like this:

“Saturday night and I just got paid
I’m a fool about my money, don’t try to save.
My heart says “go go, have a time”
Saturday night and I’m feeling’ fine.”

We party on Saturday like there will be no tomorrow. We rip it up before we have to return to work on Monday. Wikipedia says that “Saturday is the seventh day of the week, between Friday and Sunday (the first day), and represents the death of the weekly cycle before its rebirth on Sunday. It retains its Roman origin in English which is of the Roman god of agriculture Saturn.” Apparently, the Sabbath was changed by the Roman Catholic Church from Saturday to Sunday so that we now see Sunday as the last day of the week. We are free to party and play on Saturday since we can rest up on Sunday.

Nevertheless, we don’t consider our Saturday exertions to be work. Perhaps, since we are free to choose what we do, it does not feel like work to spend the day gardening or working on the car or house or just partying. Many people work harder on Saturday then they do the rest of the week. I have friends who can hardly wait for Saturday to come so that they can take a long canoe trip, a hundred mile bike ride or run a marathon. They regard such activities as fun and play. It seems to all come down to how much we are in control of what we do. When others tell us what to do and when to do it, it is work. When we are in control and can do things on our own schedule, it is play.

How much control do you have over your time and activities? Do you feel like you make most of the decisions regarding how your time is spent? Do you feel like others make most of the decisions for you? How much of your time and life do you control? How could you take more control of your time?

What if you only had 24 hours to live?

Twenty four hours to live! Sounds like a movie. But what if you woke up this morning and some inner voice told you that you had only twenty four hours to live. You knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this would be your last day on earth. You would not wake up to see another day. Few mortals know the time and means of their death so would you be blessed or cursed?

Let’s assume that you were going to expire painlessly in your sleep and that you were not presently sick or infirmed, but you had only 24 hours to live. This is a very difficult thing to imagine. However, what would you do with your time? Would you still get ready for work? Would you call all of your loved ones and say good-bye? Would you head down to the local casino and spend your last dollar?

You would not have enough time to go on that trip you dreamed about but you would have more than enough time to reflect on your life. What could or should you have done with it? Is it too late to ask this question? Is it irrelevant now? Perhaps not! Perhaps, you could still make a difference in the world with your last 24 hours. Perhaps, you could feel that your life really mattered. Well, after thinking about this, would the knowledge of your death be a curse or a blessing? Do you feel that your life matters now? If not, why wait until it is too late?

What does November mean to you?

Well, I am now snowbirding in AZ but I still feel I should talk about November in Minnesota. Especially after I just missed the second largest snowstorm in the last 20years in Minnesota. I am also late in talking about November but it still seems appropriate. I guess you could say better late than never. So here is my take on November.

November is the month that winter really begins in Minnesota. The song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot always lurks in my mind during November. I can hear the following refrain from his song whenever the wind blows strong:

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they call ‘Gitche Gumee’.
Superior, they said, never gives up her dead
When the gales of November come early!

“November is the eleventh and penultimate month of the year in the Gregorian calendar and one of four Gregorian months with the length of 30 days. In Latin, novem means “nine”. November was also the ninth month in the Roman calendar until a month less winter period was divided between January and February” (Wikipedia).
November is when our leaves have all gone, fall is over and we expectantly wait the coming snow. Our November days alternate between gray and gloomy with strong winds and an occasional burst of weak sunshine. It is as if the weather gods are building up to heap winter upon us but they haven’t yet quite got the steam for an all out winter storm. The lakes are not fully frozen, the paths have little snowfall and the woods are bleak and dreary looking. Not too many people choose November in Minnesota as their favorite month. The storms we get send you inside with a cold beating rain that is no fun to be caught in. But for a few degrees, a November storm could have been a real blizzard. No snow means no skiing and no snowmobiling. It has not been cold long enough for the ice to be deep enough for ice skating or ice fishing.

What to do in November in Minnesota is a puzzling question. If you are smart, you will build a fire, find a good book, get a hot chocolate, throw a blanket over yourself and resign yourself to five months of winter. With enough firewood, hot chocolate and books, you can make it through another winter in Minnesota. Of course, you still have Thanksgiving and the seasons holidays to look forward to. Thanksgiving marks the gateway to the shopping and holiday season. No matter how cold and how much snow there is, you will need to get outside to find the best bargains and put the holiday season in order. Start practicing your snow driving skills so you can be ready for the midnight madness sales. Or you can just camp in front of the TV set until you hear the first Robins with their song of spring.

What do you like and dislike about November? What are your associations with this month? How do you get through November? What is the most important or fun thing that you have ever done in November?

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