Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Decisions

Decide to live humbly. It will make it easier when life decides to humble you.

Decide to live simply. You'll be ready when the simple pleasures are all you have.

Decide to live boldly. You'll attract other bold people who'll shore you up if your boldness fades.

Decide to share lavishly. What you share with those who need it will enrich you both.

Decide to leave quietly. You're more likely to hear if someone asks you to stay!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Suffering or the Lack of It

The idea of embracing suffering vexes me.

I've had a blessed life. Couple it with a problem-solving personality that tries to fix challenges (as opposed to passively embracing the MINOR sufferings I've experienced), and I often worry I'm running away from suffering.

Driving to an appointment the other day, there was an old broadcast of a Mother Angelica show where someone asked her to address the fact that saints so often wrote of taking on suffering for its redemptive value while we live in a society that constantly markets to us about eliminating suffering in our lives.

Her response was wonderful, "Very few of us are saints."

She went on to say that when she has a headache, she reaches for the aspirin bottle. And if those aspirin don't work, she takes some more. Only then, if the headache hasn't subsided, does she tell herself God must have some other plan at work.

What a helpful point of view.

We're meant to be acting in our lives, and there's redemptive value in the struggle of dealing with challenges while also being open to God's will in our lives.

That makes me feel a whole lot better.

Blessings,
Mike

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Many of you know my dad entered the hospital in early April. Three surgeries, four ICU stays, a life flight to Kansas City (followed by an ambulance ride back to Hays), and several weeks in rehab later, he was released Friday after 70 days.

Through the incredible prayers of many people, the indefatigable support of my mom, and his indomitable positive spirit, he's alive today, with something still to prove.

There were many ups and downs during his hospitalization. One 24 hour period stands out.

On Mother's Day, I headed to Hays when he returned to ICU with a blood clot in his lung. The ICU doctor pulled me aside and asked if I understood how serious Dad's condition was. I assured him I did. And even though it was ostensibly her day, I don't think I wished my mom Happy Mother's Day until 9 o'clock Sunday night.

Back at home, I laid in bed, making myself cry for the emotional release needed for the days ahead. I thought about what I'd learned from my dad and all the things he'd been and done in his life. And I got the idea for the piece below.

As I've told a number of people, when I went back to the hospital the next morning at 8 a.m., Dad was unconscious and on a ventilator; I feared the worst. At the 10 a.m. visit, he was alert and nearly squeezed my hand off; suddenly my tears from the night before turned to tears of joy. By the 8 p.m. visit, he was off the ventilator and watching "Dancing with the Stars."
That's my dad, and I'm so glad he's out of the hospital for Father's Day to be able to read this post.

I love you Mom and Dad!


My Dad

My dad is my dad.
He's a son, a husband, and a big brother to many - whether or not he's older or even a sibling.
He's a Kansan.
He's a friend.
He's a partner with Jesus.
He is loved by so many people.

My dad is a barber. He's a salesman, broadcaster, TV celebrity, and announcer. He's a chef and restaurateur. He's a board member and advisor.

My dad is an electrician, plumber, mechanic, gardener, carpenter, house painter, collector, comedian, impressionist, and artist.
I've seen him fix all kinds of things for people.
For those in genuine need, he's a bank, a financier, and investor.
Hard working and strategic; a solver and critic.
He has a distinctive personality. He's a learner and advice giver.
My dad is tech savvy, following me into blogging and tweeting.
He's incredibly proud of his son.

My dad's a positive thinker and struggling. He's sweet and rebellious.
A coach and cheerleader, with a cantankerous, opposing voice.
He loves sports; hates athletic ineptitude. That's why he's a frustrated golfer and Kansas City sports fan.
He's demanding and a loving, supportive man; big hearted and skeptical.
He's a confidant who is inquisitive (at times nosy), and doesn't take any bullshit from anyone.
He is infirmed, and he looms large.

My dad is a rock, a fighter, and seemingly to me, invincible.
My dad is my dad.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are We Addicted to Technology?

There was a show today on EWTN, the Catholic TV network, about our societal attraction (addiction?) to technology. "Faith & Culture" featured an interview with Eric Brende, the author or "Better Off - Flipping the Switch on Technology," about his 18 month stay among a strict religious community that eschewed not only technology, but any type of electricity or motorized devices.

As a kid, Brende's father bought one of the first word processors. He noticed that while these new devices were being billed as time savers, his father became increasingly tied to the device. Later in a graduate program at MIT, Brende described himself as going against the grain in looking at the challenge of technology, particularly its tendency to remove humans from nature and interpersonal interactions.

A convert to Catholicism at 22, he began thinking more intently about the Church's admonitions against the unintended impacts of technology, particularly Pope Paul VI's societal warnings offered in Humane Vitae.

After marrying, the newlyweds moved to a rural community to farm in an environment with no electricity, motorized tools, or indoor plumbing. Despite the utter lack of technology, Brende characterized their life as more leisurely. His contention, addressed in the book about their 18 month experience, is that technology compartmentalizes activities and increases time pressures.

One example? Mowing with a push mower addresses functional aspect of mowing and creates an opportunity for exercise. A technologically advanced self-propelled mower however, only gets the lawn mowed. The person mowing, having completed the chore with no real exertion, is then compelled to drive to a gym to exercise. He also cited barn raisings as another example; both the functional need of building a barn and the societal dimension of neighbors interacting and bonding are satisfied.

Brende now lives in St. Louis, in the city's urban center. While it might appear in contrast to a rural existence, he cited his family's ability to get around by walking or biking and the proximity to neighbors in similar situations as creating interpersonal dimensions that don't happen as readily in the suburbs or even many rural areas. His family home schools, and Brende earns a living making soap and driving a bike taxi primarily in and around St. Louis Cardinals baseball games.

His suggestions for people wanting to start to shake ties to technology include walking or biking to work, home schooling, and eliminating or at least minimizing watching TV or working on the computer to increase the time for genuine, personal interaction.

A challenging message, yet one that certainly rings true. My time away from this blog has been a result of some new family responsibilities emerging in the past few months. I can't ignore, however, the time spent developing new presentations and Twittering as drains reducing my time for personal reflection and aligning my life to what's important. It's something I'll definitely be working on in the coming months.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

3 Lessons from Today

  • Don't email your response to an angry email. Call or talk directly to the person who sent it. Ask them to help you understand the issues that concern them. Listen intently. It works.
  • Try to take risks on people who display determination. Even if they fall short in some areas, their tenacity has all kinds of potential to create something rewarding.
  • Become comfortable with the intriguing and unexpected twists in life God sends you that you could never anticipate or engineer yourself. Pray for the peace to accept and appreciate them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Quote for the Day

Great quote from Fr. Andrew Apostoli on EWTN this afternoon: "God may not come when we want him, but he's never late."

What a great message to contemplate in thinking about His presence in our lives!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Make Your Case

Today's first reading at mass was the story of the golden calf from Exodus. After the Israelites had worshiped the idol, God was planning to inflict his wrath upon them. He relented because Moses made a convincing case for why he shouldn't do it.

Quire incredible.

So next time your boss plans to do something that doesn't make sense or is wrong, think about Moses. If he was able to make a convincing case to God, surely you can put together some basic facts and logic to sway your management's point of view!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Servant Leadership

Today's gospel reading was about servant leadership.

It's a fascinating concept, particularly for those who feel as if they don't get rewarded in the workplace with promotions into the types of positions they "rightly" deserve.

At the heart of servant leadership is the idea that those who seek to lead must serve. And since all of us can serve one another, leadership is open to everyone.

It's just that its price is WAY too high for so many people.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of Lent. This is a time for, among other things, more intense prayer. In light of that, here's a creativity prayer I wrote last year. Invest a few moments today to ask for a potentially new source of help for your creativity to enliven and inspire others.

Lord,

Thank you for creation itself and the incredible gifts and talents you so generously entrust to me. May I appreciate and develop these talents, always recognizing that they come from you and remain yours.

Guide me in using them for the benefit of everyone that I touch, so that they may be more aware of your creative presence and develop the creativity entrusted to them for the good of others.

Help me also to use your talents to bring a creative spark and new possibilities to your world, living out my call to be an integral part of your creative force. Amen.


Copyright 2008, Mike Brown

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Pre-Lenten Reflection

It's been most of the month with no posts. That wasn't intentional; just reflects a lot of things going on right now.

Lent starts on Wednesday, so it's a time to think about what's keeping me from getting closer to God. It's challenging that a lot of the factors standing in the way of writing here during February are the same ones I wrestle with as we enter Lent.

Specifically, spending more time on Twitter to reach a wider audience is one of the things to work through and resolve in the next few days.

As I do that, here are a few ideas I first shared on Twitter that are relevant for Aligning Your Life's Work:
  • I watched Fr. Mitch Pacwa recently. One of his messages was that you can't separate your spiritual life from how you conduct yourself in all other aspects of your life.
  • Do you perform at a stronger level when you boss is around? Don't. You should be performing at that level all the time.
  • Are you deliberately looking for and sharing good news with the people you work with? Maybe you should!
  • Being kind and spreading hopefulness are both talents. Use these talents today!
Let's pray for each other to have a truly profound Lenten season.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hopefulness

Today is a day of hope for so many in our country.

We’ve been through difficult times in the past few years and so any significant change, someone with a new perspective and new words, can create this sense of hopefulness. And for many reasons, there is validity to that hope, since groups in genuine need that have been ignored by the outgoing administration will likely get more attention and concern.

Just as God would want us to take care of our brothers and sisters.

The challenge is that under the new administration, other groups will now move out of favor; groups that can’t stand up for themselves and be represented. These groups, often those at the beginning and end of life, will now be under even greater attack.

Just as God would not want us to do to our brothers and sisters.

It’s simply unfortunate that under our political system, we’ve cultivated an environment where it’s nearly impossible to find a candidate in either major party that clearly represents positions that stand up for protecting and bettering all people. As such, we’re left picking and choosing among greater and lesser degrees of evil when we vote.

I’m excited by today’s hopefulness and would love to see the sentiment and prospects of our country turn around. Maybe the best way to accomplish that now is to turn to prayer for the protection and betterment of all our brothers and sisters in the face of campaign rhetoric and political belief systems that don’t support such a view.

I’m hoping that’s what God wants us to do.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How Has Your Week Been?

How has your week been?

Looking back over the past few days, it’s incredible to think about the positive impact of:
  • A kind word from a co-worker in a holiday card
  • Hearing from someone I hadn’t talked to in several years
  • Talking with someone who is genuinely hopeful about 2009
  • Someone I love providing moral support
  • Eating a home-cooked meal
  • Having a mentor and friend who really understands what’s going on
  • Receiving a thank you email from someone who has taught me so much

All of these have helped make this a wonderful week, and I’m humbled to be the beneficiary of all of them.

Think about it. Any of us could do these same things for others.

So here’s the bigger question -

How has the week been for those around you?