Speaking Out About Parkland – “Making Sense of Life” Special Edition

Guns in America

We have a problem in America. In fact, of all the countries in the world, the United States has the most pronounced evidence of this situation. And, yes, it involves guns, but that’s not the complete problem, nor is banning all guns tomorrow the perfect solution.

First, our children and the adults dedicated to educating and protecting them are being repeatedly, savagely, and willingly gunned down with malice, forethought, and intricate planning. And, second, as a society, Americans have been complacent in our actions to prevent the re-occurrence of recent events.

This writing is not to oppose guns. I hold a unique position in life which most of my readers do not:  I have shot guns and know how to use one; and, I have been shot in the face during a mugging. But this is not about my experience or about outlawing anyone’s constitutional right to own a firearm.

There are two reasons for my message today, and both come via my local high school of which my husband, Kevin, is a department head and educator.

First, one of Kevin’s former students wrote this poignant thought:

According to our Congress, the AR-15 that was used to kill 17 people (to date) at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has a “constitutional right” to exist. That same Congress, however, has also made it clear that health care for the injured, as well as mental health care for the survivors, their friends, and their families is a “privilege.”

It doesn’t take a high degree of education to understand the disparity and how utterly ludicrous this is.

Second, there is a suggestion that could be implemented in your local schools that could reduce or eliminate more murders the next time this happens. (I’m not being pessimistic here. Without a radical change, which doesn’t seem likely in the immediate future, tragedies like this will continue.)

Our local high school has a very specific protocol for fire alarms. Drills are announced in advance; teachers, administrators, students, staff, and parents know the day and the time of all scheduled drills. If an unscheduled fire alarm goes off, the principal makes an announcement immediately over the loud speakers indicating that there is an emergency requiring evacuation as instructed. Without that announcement, each class room is locked by the instructors, window shades drawn, and students gathered safely.

People often ask, What can I do? Knowing these procedures means you CAN do something. Contact the school districts in your area. Find out what procedures they have in place in such circumstances. If guidelines and protocol don’t exist, work to make sure you get them designed and implemented.

This blog and my work continue to be about “Making Sense of Life.” In this regard, no one can make the available to or used by the general public. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States speaks clearly about the right to bear arms, and I don’t dispute that. But, nowhere in that document does it indicate citizens have a right to own and use weapons of mass destruction. The AR-15 is designed to be just that:  A weapon of mass destruction of human life.

Our President, our Vice President, and the many members of Congress whose campaigns are well-funded by the National Rifle Association would like us to believe this most recent shooting and others like it must be stopped by addressing mental health issues. This is utter nonsense, unfounded in its assertion, cannot be backed up with reliable research or facts, and speaks to just how desperate our current government is to hold onto its self-serving, anti-democratic, and privileged positions.

If you don’t know who Ben Dickmann is, you might want to click on the link below. “He's a ‘responsible, highly trained gun owner,’ [who] doesn't see a need for the average person to own the powerful firearm [referring to his AR-57, a variant of the AR-15].” Click here to see what his background is, why that’s significant to the most recent shooting, what he’s done, and how others can follow suit.

Speak out. Dialogue with others. Act, instead of reacting. Don’t wait for leaders. We must be the leaders we seek.

Terry Drew Karanen © 2018

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Pick a Side!

Are You Your Labels?

How are you personally dealing with the polarization going on in the world? Have you noticed how if we are for one thing that we are often expected to be against something else?

There are those who still believe we live in a black/white, gay/straight, right/wrong, yes/no world. The world has never been that way, although the ideal does give one a false sense of security. It a sign of longing for a past that never really existed:  Play by the rules and you are guaranteed to succeed.

The problem with that thinking is nothing is guaranteed. The only constant in the universe is change. And, humans are a species of contradictions.

Being pro-life doesn’t necessarily mean one is totally against abortion in all cases. Being a feminist doesn’t mean one hates men. We love to categorize people for our convenience and may even be proud of the labels we’ve given ourselves. But social media and life in general in the twenty-first century have opened up our private lives to public record. If we are talking the talk, but not walking the way, eventually someone is going to call us out for it.

Conservative and liberals can embrace parts of the opposing ideology when it suits them. Several years ago one of the Popes lamented the “cafeteria Catholicism” practice by Americans – in other words, taking from the religion what works for them personally instead of embracing everything, comfortable or not. But such an approach to religion has been around since religion began; only we just talk more about it now.

We are frequently much different in our thinking and how we live our lives than what other people assume. It comes down to judgment, primarily judgment of others. However, it also speaks to how, when, and what we express on issues currently unfolding in our lives.

There is, however, a way around all of this:  Communication. By listening to understand, instead of listening only for the opportunity to criticize an opposing viewpoint, we open the door to dialog. We might even stand to learn something in the process, not only about an issue, but about ourselves as well.

Would you be willing, starting today, to put aside your preconceived notions the next time you hear something you immediately judge as outrageous, unbelievable, or distasteful? Could we all seek to understand more and criticize less?

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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They Aren’t Going to Like This

Can You Stand Up to Criticism?

Are you feeling more like a leader in life? In my blog two weeks ago I opened a conversation that we ought to have with ourselves:  Am I willing to be a leader? How’s that going for you?

There’s a truly inspirational speaker who I very much enjoy hearing, particularly because he challenges me to be a better, stronger, and more focused leader. Seth Godin is a remarkable author and several books and champion of new ideas. This week I’m sharing a quote from his book, “Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us.”

So the challenge, as you contemplate your next opportunity to be boring or remarkable, is to answer these two questions:  “If I get criticized for this, will I suffer any measurable impact? Will I lose my job, get hit upside the head with a softball bat, or lose important friendships?” If the only side effect of the criticism is that you will feel bad about the criticism, then you have to compare that bad feeling with the benefits you’ll get from actually doing something worth doing.

Leadership, like so many other qualities, begins within our own consciousness. We can’t be leaders in the world, in our communities, or in our families if we can’t lead ourselves. What does that look like?

It means that we must be willing to succeed. Does that sound like a no-brainer? It isn’t. Do you know why people fail at projects, ideas, and even relationships? It isn’t the fear of failure.

It’s the fear of success.

Why would we fear success? We fear success because it’s something that may have eluded us for years. We all know failure. We know what it feels like not to get ahead, to be single when we’d like to find a mate, to have a no-where job, or be unable to balance the checkbook. The enticement of failure is that it’s familiar. Our egos love the familiar because they know how to react from our history.

Change scares the crap out of our ego, even if it’s a good thing! Thomas Troward wrote that principle is not bound by precedent. In other words, just because something’s always worked out one way in the past doesn’t mean it has to be that way in the future. The criticism that Godin wrote about can come from within us as well as from others. It’s up to us to go for it, whatever “it” is, and be willing to accept the good that comes from our success.

Consider this week how you might be allowing actual, perceived, or expected criticism to stop you from leading the life you want. The universe will conspire for our good – but we have to open our consciousness to accept those blessings. Go for it!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2018 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Don’t Tell Me What to Do!

You Know You Should …

Do you like to be told what you should or shouldn’t be doing? I don’t. People often try to be helpful by finding solutions for us. It’s not usually as helpful as they’d like to believe.

I bring up “shoulding” because perhaps you’ve noticed how some people will often compliment you on an accomplishment and then, without even taking a breath, proceed to tell you how you should have done it. I find that amazing – almost entertaining – at least most of the time. The rest of the time I find it downright annoying.

One of the most difficult things to experience is criticism from others, even if those attacks are couched in a compliment. It’s at these times that we must dodge and deflect. If we allow others to throw us off balance we can lose sight of our own vision and our goals.

What dodging and defecting unnecessary criticism can do is strengthen our resolve and shore up the core foundations of our beliefs. If we are not careful we can get caught up in the negative attacks. We often find such attacks are based on the person’s own insecurities or feelings of inadequacy.

In the midst of that, however, is the infuriating fact that regardless of the person’s intent (conscious or subconscious), the poor “should-er” might just have an idea we ought to consider! Like I said, it’s somewhat infuriating. It’s a lot like your ex or your mother-in-law calling you on your stuff. You get the picture and it’s not pretty.

It is an issue of balance. If we can hear criticism constructively and objectively we will become more confident and often find some fine tuning of our actions that we can do to accelerate the progression toward our goals. After a while we’ll be able to hear the words, pick what we can use and cast away the rest. Now that’s power.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2012, 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.

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Let It Go

Does It Really Make a Difference?

Have you found yourself watching someone’s mouth move, but not being able to be interested in the nonsense you’re hearing? I do my best to be engaged and concerned when someone is relating a story to me. Really I do! But there are times, and I know you’ve been there, when I just look at the person and say, “And, you’re telling me this because…?”

Sometimes we just need to vent. I get that. My friend, Nancy, and I used to have an agreement that I could call to bitch about anything I wanted for exactly five minutes. No more. She would cut me off at five minutes, done or not. Well, I might not have thought I was done, but Nancy was and that was that.

At some point it behooves us to take a deep breath and say, “Does it really make a difference?” We may be terribly upset about the way someone has treated us. Or perhaps someone has walked away from a commitment she or he has made to us or to our organization. It’s done. It’s over. We can pick up the pieces and get on with our life, or we can whine, scream and moan. Why would we choose the latter?

You see, the simple truth is that some people bless us by coming into our lives and some people bless us by leaving. This works personally, professionally and in our communities or organizations. Ever notice how some people can leave a group or relationship with dignity, class and mutual respect, while other people have to make everyone wrong, create havoc and basically re-define what it means to be a raging drama queen?

We don’t have to be the latter. We also don’t have to be affected by someone who chooses to wear that badge. Know that in the universal scheme of things, all is progressing exactly as it should. It may not look pretty at the moment, but when the dust settles the right people will be involved and the perfect outcome will be assured. By feeding the drama with our crazed upset we are only continuing to strengthen the psychic bond we wish to severe.

Take time this week to let go of the drama of change and embrace the flow of peace in your life. The people that leave us are making room for the people who want to be with us. And so it is!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

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Copyright © 2011, 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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“Do Something, Even If It’s Wrong!”

Living By Default

Have you ever found yourself nearly paralyzed with indecision because you couldn’t figure out what to do? It’s possible to have this happen when we become so overwhelmed with possibilities, or the domino effect of a choice that we – in hindsight – realize wasn’t a wise move.

My Grandma Esther used to say, “Do something, Terry, even if it’s wrong!” It was her way of expressing frustration with my indecisiveness as a child. (Over 20 “Estherisms” are discussed in detail in my new book, “From the Trailer Park to the Pulpit” – look for it soon!) Looking back over my life I can see how I missed out on opportunities because I lacked the confidence to depend on my own intuition.

We are the best source of council when we must make a decision. True, having wise counselors, be they trained professionals or trusted friend can be invaluable. Most of the time we know exactly what must be done, though we are afraid of the fallout. Those results can range from the mild disapproval of friends to societal outrage at our actions.

I heard Marie Forleo say one time that when we don’t make decisions we’re “living by default.” There are a number of problems with living this way, but here are two reasons why some people live by default for most of their lives. First, they don’t want to take responsibility if things go south. Second, if things do go south they get to blame someone. That’s living in fear or blame.

What a positively yucky (for lack of a better, more academic word) way to live one’s life!

This concept was once stated as, “Not choosing is choosing.” By not making our own decisions we are choosing to allow others to do so. It’s like the person who says they don’t care which restaurant at which to have dinner, but then complains about the choice someone else makes. Ridiculous, not to speak of annoying.

And yet, haven’t we all done that at one time or another? Perhaps today you’ll make the decision to no longer “live by default.” Even if our decisions don’t pan out the way we expect them to, we have the knowledge that we can choose again. A mistake, a missed opportunity, or whatever we want to call it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

It means we can choose again. And this time, when we do choose, we’ll be making decisions with the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to see our situation through to a more desirable conclusion.

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Isn’t It About Time?

When Will You Start Living the Life You Want?

How’s life? Are you having a good day? Was this past week what you wanted it to be? And, how’s next week shaping up?

For far too many people, Monday through Friday is the penance they pay to have a weekend. The Wednesday “Hump Day” gets them halfway through, Thursday is anticipatory, and eventually “Thank God, It’s Friday!” arrives.

Drinkers drink away the weekend and weekend warriors try to do too much all at once, barely remembering even the good times. Parents, most of whom both work a regular job in addition to caring for a home and family, must juggle precious little time between unfinished errands, chores, kids (if they have any), and each other.

“Yeah,” some might say, “But that’s life! All my friends have the same thing.” Fine. If that’s what they want, but do you? When Monday rolls around are you excited about getting back to your career? If not, wouldn’t you love to?

If we aren’t enjoying our lives to the fullest then it might be we’re not really living. It may look like we’re living, but in actuality all we’re doing is going through the motions of living.

Here’s what I think living looks like:

  • Having a career or job that’s the mission allowing us to fulfill our vision;
  • Trusting that our body is healthy, strong, and vital;
  • Being in the company of loving, like-minded people, and perhaps in unique relationships that are joyful; and,
  • Seeing that our finances are secure, bills are paid, and there’s always plenty of money to share, spend, and save.

This might also be the definition of prosperity. It’s close to what a New Thought leader used to say. I’m paraphrasing, but it was something to the effect that prosperity was the ability to go where we want to go, do what we want to do, with people we want to be with, and in the style in which we’d like to do it.

Now THAT’S living! We don’t have to be the people followed around by the paparazzi, or have billions in the bank to pay for expensive cars and homes. All we have to do is trust in the Source of our good. Never question the channel of that good coming to you abundant amounts.

Are you willing to up-the-ante on your life today? Decide what you want and go for it. There is no time for indecision. Dr. Raymond Charles Barker told us that:

Indecision is actually the individual’s decision to fail.

Let go of indecision right now. Embrace a more powerful you and decide to be happy, healthy, and abundant. If you need help doing that, click on the link below!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Just Who Do You Think YOU Are?

It’s Time To Be Yourself

Do you get criticized by others for thinking and acting “outside the box?” I wouldn’t be surprised. I certainly do. And, like attracts like!

I remember years ago being just about ready to walk out the door when my roommate asked, “You’re not going out in THAT, are you?” (Okay, granted, it was the 80s and I wouldn’t be caught DEAD wearing that today if I still had it, which I don’t, but I digress…) I gave him a blank stare. That’s always a good comeback when someone asks a stupid question.

He followed his original query with, “What makes you think you can wear that?” My answer, again with a blank stare was, “Because I can!” Admittedly, I “may” have had a slight bit of attitude in the delivery, and I “suspect” I may have raised at least one eyebrow when responding, since at his height he’d never have been able to pull off and over-sized, turquoise shirt with tails and a metallic vest. (I warned you. I was the 80s …)

Levity aside, you’ll probably admit that the opinions of others may have very well stopped you from doing what you wanted to do at some point. You might not have even suspected a particular person, but were afraid of some kind of reprisal or criticism about your appearance, conduct, or idea.

There are lots of reasons why we let people stop us from doing things. We think we’re too old, or too young; not good enough; untrained; inexperienced; or, playing out of our league. But each of us has a particular gift in the way we live life and express ourselves. Abraham Maslov is quoted as saying:

No great deed, private or public, has ever been undertaken in a bliss of certainty.

If we wait around to live our lives until we have everyone’s approval the only thing being said will be, “S/He looks so natural lying there in that beautiful coffin.”

It’s time to up the ante on being you. We don’t have to be outrageous for the sake of being outrageous. In fact, sometimes being ourselves may mean that we are calm when others are excited. Give us and the entire world the pleasure of seeing you for the unique and magnificent expression of Spirit in human form. We need you … just as you are!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Are You Responsible for the World?

Saving the World by Saving Ourselves

Do you sometimes feeling responsible for solving problems, issues, or conditions that have little or nothing to do with you? If so, you’re not alone.

Global news has made us far more aware of concerning and often tragic situations that deserve considering. But do they all merit our personal action? No.

We can’t do everything and we can’t make everything better for all people. Yes, there are those who preach you can have anything you desire and do everything you want. In fact, they are correct, except that one very significant and important factor is missing in that equation:

We don’t get something for nothing.

We may debate and disagree on whether or not we can have everything we want. But we can, perhaps, agree on this one thing:  It’s nearly impossible to have everything we want simultaneously. A woman can’t be pregnant and not pregnant. A man can’t be married and single at the same time, though Lord knows enough of us try … ahem.

To have what we want means we must make choices. It isn’t a Divine Being above refusing to grant our wishes that stops us from getting what we want. Rather, it’s that we aren’t willing to make the choices necessary to have our desires, wants, and even needs fulfilled.

So how do we achieve true happiness and do our part to make the world a better place to live? I the words of Joseph Campbell, who said:

We’re not on our journey to save the world, but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.

Is it time to be what the world or your friends and family might call “a little selfish” in your decisions and actions? I know so many people who tell me they want to write or be life coaches. Yet they don’t ever write or their lives don’t reflect they are practicing what they claim to want to teach to others.

Starting right this minute, embrace a newly-found desire to take care of yourself. Be the very best version of you in a vital, exciting, vibrant, and outstanding way that you’ve never before experienced. In doing so, you’ll start saving the world in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Live your life with the magnificence that only you can to re-vitalize the entire planet!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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Schläger Schmläger

Refuse to Compare Yourself to Others

How much do you compare yourself to others? If you’re anything like me, probably more than you would like to admit.

Why do we use precious energy to put our lives side-to-side with someone else? What’s behind this very common need we have to relate our accomplishments to that of our friends? Who really cares if someone else’s business or projects get bigger accolades and profits than ours if we happy with who we are and what we’re doing?

And yet, we do. At some point almost all of us feel less than, inferior to friends, or people we consider more successful than us. Much of this nonsense is just that:  Nonsense. Being more concerned about what other people are doing instead of focusing on our own goals is fueled by advertisers and marketers whose job it is to make is feel we or our businesses lack something. Of course, the product they’re hawking is exactly what we need. In fact, we MUST have it!

“But WAIT! There’s MORE!”

“Act NOW! This offer will NEVER be repeated!”

“Don’t miss out!”

“Don’t be the LAST person you know to take advantage of this VITAL opportunity!”

Advertiser and shysters love exclamation points.

Nonsense. That’s all it is. Nonsense. One of my favorite guides, Marie Forleo (@MarieForleo) calls this “Compareschläger.” This potent action is like the intoxicating liqueur, Goldschläger, a Swiss cinnamon schnapps, with very thin, yet visible flakes of gold floating in it.

Forleo says, “Compareschlägering is when we compare ourselves or our work with others and their work.” Like its alcoholic counterpart, it’s lethal – as anyone can testify who’s had too many shots can testify based on the way they felt the next day.

Compareschläger, like Goldschläger, is expense. We are spending time on something we can do little if anything about, instead of investing time in bettering ourselves or honing our business decisions. Like those little gold flakes, the promises of success or veneer of the public display of affluence are tempting and sparkly. It doesn’t mean they are desirable or that we need them.

Do not allow yourself to be sidetracked with comparing your success, your looks, your house, your relationship, your job/career, or anything else to others. If you admire someone, ask them to mentor you. If your idea of happiness seems evident in the lives of others, figure out what you can do to receive those blessings, instead of lamenting your apparent lack in the shadow of what others already enjoy.

To achieve contentment and peace in our life we must decide what it is we want, work toward that, and avoid the comparison game. A great question we can ask is, “How much closer to my goals and the life I want will I be if I spent as much time visualizing the good, instead of wailing about how s/he has what I lack?”

The answer is that we’d be a lot closer to that happiness and be relating far less to this piece.

Visualize and work toward what you want! It’s yours to receive!

In Spirit, Truth and Playfulness,
Terry

Copyright © 2017 Terry Drew Karanen. All rights reserved.
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