Have you ever heard of a Charity for Time?

Have you ever thought about the idea of a “charity” for time? What would one of these be like if one did exist? We have charities for people who are down on their money and charitable organizations that provide meals and other non-profit services. What if we had charities for people who needed time? I suppose when people volunteer their time as for Habitat for Humanity, it is a form of time charity. Wikipedia has the following to say about the word charity:

“The word “charity” entered the English language through the Old French word “charité” which was derived from the Latin “caritas”. Originally, in Latin the word caritas meant preciousness, dearness, high price. From this, in Christian theology, caritas became the standard Latin translation for the Greek word agapē, meaning an unlimited loving-kindness to all others.”

The thoughts contained in this definition are very beautiful: Preciousness, dearness, kindness, can you think of any better words to describe a donation of ones time. Sometimes, we hear the word “pro-bono” applied to a donation of time by lawyers and consultants. Again, in Wikipedia we find the following:

“Pro-bono publico (often shortened to pro bono) is a phrase derived from Latin meaning “for the public good”. It is used to designate legal or other professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment.”

We can find many examples of people and organizations volunteering their time through some form of official channel, but we still do not find structured “charities for time” where anyone can go who needs time. A time charity could either lend you time or ask you to replace any time borrowed with a commitment of your own time at a later date. If you simply needed your lawn cut and did not have time to do it, you would call the “time charity” and say “I need some time.” The exchange would not involve money, but rather a simple donation or exchange of time later. In a society where time is so short and precious, it would be interesting to see some group who could coordinate on a large scale the donations of time.

Have you ever needed time and not had enough money to buy help? Would you volunteer to be a member of a time charity if you could repay the time given later? Can you think of anything better to donate than time? Is money as good a donation as time? Do you volunteer your time now as well as your money to help others?

Why do Americans score so poorly in the time spent on their children?

Parenting time is increasingly scarce in today’s world. With global competition fueling longer working hours and dual career families, it becomes very difficult to find the time to spend with our children. Parenting time (as the experts suggest) should be quality time and this means more than just sitting in front of a TV or a movie with our children. It means interacting with them in a meaningful way.

The definition of a parent is someone who begets or gives birth to a child or someone who is the guardian of a child and looks out for their best interests. Part of a child’s best interests comes from regular interaction with a parent, teacher or role model. Parents teach children by example the lessons they need to be successful in life. Much of this takes place vicariously but some takes place in the form of stories, lessons, lectures, sayings, family traditions and family interaction. Some recent studies have cast doubts on the quality of life for children being raised in the U.S. and Great Britain. A UNICEF study of 21 of the most highly developed countries in the world rated the quality of life for children in the U.S as next to last. Only Great Britain scored worse. How is it that in the most powerful and most economically developed nation in the world, children can not find a good place to grow up? Are we all so busy that we have no time for our children? Is work and growing an economy only done at the expense of the young?

The report noted: “Where Britain and America really score badly, however, is in the categories of relationships and risky behavior. British and American children apparently spend less time (and eat fewer meals) with their parents, compared with the other countries, and seem to be somewhat less happy with their friends and in school (The Economist, Feb 14th 2007). The evidence suggests then that time is the most critical variable. However, how can we have time for our kids, when we are too busy earning money to spend on them? It is a bit of a paradox. American children probably have more toys than any children in the world. The UNICEF study suggests it is not toys they want but time.

Do you spend time with you children each day? Do you make sure you have quality time with your children and meaningful interaction? Are you a role model for your children or do you teach them to “do as I say and not as I do?” Do you think your children will grow up and want to be the same kind of parent you were for them? If not, why not?

Are you a hero? What is a hero?

No time for heroes- In an article by Bernie Reeves (May 2001), he writes: “Yet, even the most decorated veterans of the World War II era make it clear that they did not set out to become heroes, they just did their job. Heroes, it seems, are not born but created by events. And the events have to be interpreted in the right light to qualify for hero creation.” We have seen periods in history where heroes were laughed at as romantic fools and other periods where the lack of heroes was bemoaned. Since 911, it seems that we are on the upswing, with heroism being lauded practically daily in the news or TV media. We have seen anti-heroes, superheroes, cowards who become heroes and people for whom heroism is a part of their daily job. At one point, a hero was anyone who risked their life to save others when they were under no obligation to do so. We did not think of a hero or heroine as someone “just” doing their job. Today though, doctors, soldiers, nurses, fire-people and police are all hailed as heroes. There was a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson called “Richard Cory” in which everyone admired and envied the dapper and suave Mr. Cory.

In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us with that we were in his place,

And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Dr. Ossian Sweet, (1905-1960) an African American man who stood up for what he believed and was a hero by any stretch of the imagination said: “I have to die a man or live a coward.” Dr. Sweet tried his hand at politics, running four times and losing each time. He married his childhood sweetheart but divorced and remarried; the second also ending in divorce. In 1960, after years of ill health and depression, he was found dead, a bullet through his head and a revolver in his hand. It is tough work being a hero.

We admire heroes and heroines and the world is a better place because of them. We each wonder in our hearts when we hear about some heroic episode what we would have done. Would we have just stood there watching or would we have run into the burning house, jumped into the icy pond or charged the raging bull. I hope that our world will always have a time for heroes and heroines and not make a mockery of their bravery by downgrading it to merely living. People who become heroes and heroines may not be any different from the rest of us, but in that one second where they act and behave differently and thereby challenge the status quo, it forever puts them in a new league. They may never be able to live up to the expectations that attend their heroism but we should all be forever grateful to them for those few seconds of action. Heroes and heroines show us a world that could be when selfishness and greed are cast aside for love and loyalty.

Where do heroes/heroines get the time? Where do they get the courage? How many of us would risk our lives for an idea, for someone we did not know, for a principle that most people would hate us for upholding? Are we all heroes for going about our daily lives and trying to live the best we can? Or should the label be reserved for those special men and women who put their lives on the line at a time when most of the rest of the world will just stand by watching?

What about stages for time as we age?

Autumn – We have talked about fall and autumn as seasons and what that brings, but what about the autumn of our lives? When does that start? What would the seasons of our lives bring us? The winter, summer, spring and fall of life. In terms of years, lest us say that spring is 0-25, summer is 25-50, fall is 50-75 and winter is 75-100? If so, I am right in the center of the fall of my life. Will the fall of life be anything like the fall season? Will my skin change color and my hair fall out? I think my hair fell out about 25 years ago, sometime in my summer.

Physically, my body is not getting any better and my joints and muscles ache a whole lot more than they used to. Emotionally, I am now more stable, less volatile, more predictable, and less anxious about life. Spiritually, I can see more value in peace, harmony and the various virtues such as love, humility, patience and kindness. I would like to say that I feel more satisfied with myself in these areas and less prone to attack or defend myself against perceived slights. Are these conditions consistent with the autumn of our lives?

Where is the Piagetian scale for what happens to us after 25 years of age? Piaget described the following stages of development:

1.Sensor-motor stage: from birth to age 2 years (children experience the world through movement and senses and learn object permanence)

2.Preoperational stage: from ages 2 to 7 (acquisition of motor skills)

3.Concrete operational stage: from ages 7 to 11 (children begin to think logically about concrete events)

4.Formal operational stage: after age 11 (development of abstract reasoning.

Thats it folks! There are no stages for us as we grow through the summer, autumn and winter of our lives! Here is an opportunity for a new scale. It could even lead to a book on “The Stages of Aging.” Perhaps, the autumn and winter of our lives have similar crisis points that we all share in common in terms of spiritual, emotional, mental and physical development. I suspect there are common stages we will all progress through and that our developmental stages do not end at age 11 or even age 25.

We will all continue to face new challenges and new opportunities for growth.The autumn of our lives will see us cast off some of the old and used leafs and prepare for new growth that will inevitably come. What season of life are you in? What leafs do you need to get rid of? What new growth do you think awaits you?

I have to make up some time today. Can we really make up time?

Making up time! It’s very frustrating to try and make up time. We try to make up time when we have spent too much time on one task and then have several other tasks to complete. Like a game of follow the leader, we rush to make up time just as when we get too far behind the leader. If you have ever ridden in a group of motorcycles, you know this phenomenon very well. The farther you get behind the pack, the faster you must go to catch up. If you are a slower rider, you alternate between getting behind and then hurrying to catch up again to the pack. For many of us, life can seem like a big game of “catch up” because we are forever getting behind and having to catch up again. Can we make up the time we have lost?

When the plane leaves the gate late, will it make up enough time in flight to get us to our next flight or appointment on time? Can I make up the time I lost this morning by driving a little faster or taking a shortcut to work? What can I cut out or cut down on today to make up the time I need for that project that is due Monday? We are constantly trying to figure out how to make up time. What if you had a big box of “make up time?” Whenever you got behind, instead of rushing and strategizing, you would only need to go to your box of “make up time” and take out how much you needed. It would sure make our lives less crazy.

I wonder how many days “making up” time takes off our lives in terms of added stress and worry. What if you said: “The hell with making up time, I will resolve never to worry about making up time again?” This could be harder to stick to than a diet. Maybe such a resolution would help, maybe it would not. It might just create another source of stress in your life. Nevertheless, I think it helps to look at the “cost” of making up time. It is never free.

Are you continually making up time in your daily life? Does it create stress and panic for you? How could you manage your life so that you did not need to make up so much time? What would be different about your life if you did?

How can we help our children avoid our mistakes?

“Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flow the days, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.” If you have seen the play or movie “Fiddler on the Roof” you are familiar with this song. I recently went to a wedding where they used this song as part of the ceremony. It is a very poignant song that brings reflection to our lives and our children’s lives. The words tell the story of growth, aging, change and separation. Tevye wonders as all parents do:

What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?

If only our children would follow our advice and heed the lessons we have tried to teach them. We want to help them to avoid the errors we have made and keep them safe from the pain and disappointments we have faced. We might be able to do this if we could stop time, keep them home with us and never let them grow up, but that is not to be. We know in our hearts that our children, like ourselves, must find their own way and suffer their own mistakes. They must go out and face the world. We must watch as they grow older and hope that we have prepared them to avoid at least some of the many traps we fell into.

The happy part of Tevye’s song is also the sad part. We must watch as they grow from children to adults and separate from us by finding their own lives. All things change and all things stay the same. Our children are a reflection of us and yet they are unique. As time passes, they will become more like us and yet they will also become less like us. Their histories will become their own and their destinies will follow very different paths then those we chose or perhaps hoped they would choose. We know that eventually they will face tears and that is the hardest part for us to accept. Would there was someway to protect them from that, but it is not to be. Life brings both joy and sorrow and we are yoked together with our children in these events. For better or worse, their joys and sufferings will be our joys and sufferings.

What words of wisdom do you want your children to follow? What teachings that you gave them were the most important? What do you most hope they will listen to in the years ahead? What do you wish you could go back and change? Perhaps it is not too late. We can always keep trying to make a difference in the lives of our loved ones. Sometimes we will succeed. You only fail when you quit trying.

The secret to never running out of time!

I ran out of time today. How many times have you run out of time when you were not even running? The clock seems to be relentless. No matter how fast or how slow we run, the clock just keeps going at its steady inexorable pace. It never falters or stumbles. We get sidetracked, delayed, circumvented, lost, confused, ignored, blocked and snowed in but the clock just keeps on ticking. I run out of time several times each day. If only we could turn the clock back when we needed to or slow it down somehow. But the clock is relentless and it holds us to whatever schedule is in our heads. I have to get to school soon and I only have twenty minutes but five things to do first. I have to get to work but I only have 45 minutes and I have to stop for gas. Can I make it? Will I run out of time?

Is there a secret to not running out of time? What if I buy the latest book on time management? Will it help me to find ways to avoid running out of time? Is there anyone who never runs out of time? Am I a hero or fool for trying to beat the clock as much as I do. If I could only get one more task done! Can I do it? Probably not, but I will try anyway. Oops, I just ran out of time, got to go to school now. Can you finish this for me? Can you tell the world how to avoid running out of time? Do you have time to help me? No! You just ran out of time too?

1001 ways to beat time!

Beating time: what does it mean when we say that we are going to beat time? Is beating time like beating a dead horse, like beating notes, or like beating the competition? Can we beat time? Is time the ultimate chess player or poker player? The one gamester in the world who cannot be beaten? Is time the grandmaster of life?

What if I told you about a secret book: “One Thousand and One Ways to Beat Time” that I am writing? Would you want to rush out to buy it? Perhaps you would not need it. You may think you are already beating time when you multi-task. Are you more efficient and attentive when you try to do two or more things at the same time? Do you think people who drive and talk on their cell phones are safer drivers? Are they beating time? How about the drivers that weave in an out of traffic on a busy day; do you think they are beating time? My favorite people are the tailgaters who seem to ignore the fact that there are multiple other drivers in front of me and we are all doing more than the speed limit already.

We can save time by doing things smarter and more efficiently but is that beating time? The clock just keeps on ticking and ticking. What if I took a baseball bat to my clocks and beat the living daylights out of all of them? Would that be beating time or just killing time? Nothing seems to really define this idea of “beating” time. Somehow, time always seems to win. Death is the one inevitability in all of our lives. Rich or poor, genius or idiot, educated or uneducated, holy or unholy, we all have our deaths marked in a ledger someplace and no one has beat time yet.

What does it mean to you to beat time? Do you ever beat time? If so, please send me an email telling me how you do it. I would like to add your idea to my UPCOMING book: “One Thousand and One Ways to Beat Time.” At least then, I would have one idea to add to this book.

Are you racing from one thing to another? Can we beat the clock?

Racing the clock seems to be a common occurrence in our world today. We are all familiar with this phrase. In the movies, the hero or heroine race against time as the bomb ticks down or the villains’ ultimatum gets closer. Often lives are at stake and the race has a critical dimension. Solve the puzzle or the bomb goes off! In the Da Vinci code, the hero and heroine race from one puzzle to another as an assortment of evil characters race after them. The drama comes from the clock ticking down as we race madly from one moment to another.

In our daily lives, we may be racing from one event to another. We feel the same stress and have the same pressures without any real catastrophe awaiting us. We race to work, we race home, we race to school, we race to complete our projects on time, we race to the movies, we race to the game and then we race to get to bed before it is too late, only to get up in the morning to start racing the clock again.

For many of us our lives are one big race. Why do we do this? Why incur the stress and anxiety of racing the clock? Do we really enjoy this kind of race? Have we become habituated to “racing the clock?” Is it so common for us that we don’t know how to live our lives without the pressure or experience of this race? Do we really enjoy these races? Do these races provide vicarious excitement for an otherwise dull or boring life? Are we forever doomed to be racing the clock? Heaven forbid! Heaven forbid!

There must be a way out of these rat races. What do you think it is? How can you get out of your races? Can you pick and choose the races you enter? Which ones cost you stress and give you no payback? Which ones are fun and are worth the run? Who makes the choice whether you run or not? Think about it today and look at the races you entered against the clock. Which ones are really worth the running? Who won you or the clock?

Have you ever thought about useful a Calendar can be?

Calendars are one of the most interesting ways that we mark time. Calendars can tell us the past, the present and the future. I keep three calendars in our house besides those on my desktop computers. There is something about a physical calendar with its pictures and permanence that computer programs seem to lack. Granted, there are many virtues to Outlook and other software calendar programs. However, I still like to put my post-it notes on one calendar, mark my bills on another calendar and on the third calendar, I mark the time and type of exercise that I have done each day. At the end of the month, I sum my bills and my exercise time and put them in an Excel spreadsheet. I use these various tools as a way of tracking and keeping on track with the most important things in my life.

My calendar with post-it notes is almost a duplicate of my desktop calendar but I still like to look at this calendar each day. With the post it notes, it is very easy to simply take an appointment with me or move it to another day. My “post it notes” calendar helps me keep track of what I want to do now and in the future. I put appointments, planned trips, ideas for things to do and future vacations on this calendar. Thus, while two calendars track things I have done, my third calendar tracks things I will do. Each year, I love to go out and buy interesting calendars. I usually buy three or sometimes four calendars as I like turning them each month and seeing the new pictures or sometimes the information that is on calendars. This year I have a Lonely Planets travel calendar, a fantasy calendar by Luis Royo and a calendar with pictures of butterflies. The Lonely Planet calendar has over 200 pictures of different places and countries and provides a way to dream about new places to visit and see.

My calendars are a very active part of my life and I don’t mind spending thirty or forty dollars on them each year. I can also deduct some of them as a business expense. Calendars can be depressing if all they do is mark the passing of time. Calendars can be very helpful when we are counting the days to the beginning of a new event or something we are eagerly looking forward to. Do you have a calendar? How do you use your calendars? Do they help you to manage your life, look forward to exciting times or simply mark the passing of days?

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