Monday, Again?

IMG_3477I receive regular updates for my computer.  I don’t ask, they simply show up.  Which is nice, because if it were up to me, I wouldn’t remember to check and install these needed additions to my system.

They require that I close down my system and await the software.  Sometimes it takes a matter of seconds to receive the newest version.  Other times, it takes many, many minutes.

The updates are an effort to fix bugs, plug holes and protect my equipment and information.  They are designed to increase performance and decrease problems.

My computer is similar to my own heart and mind.  In truth, we all need to update our internal software from time to time.  Too often, we ignore the need to check our mental programs that run from day to day.  We don’t question our words, our thoughts, our actions.  We simply turn on at the beginning of the day and run the same programs we’ve been using for many years.

Some of us run the same mental operating system that we had in place when we left high school.  We aren’t any different from the 18 year old who walked across the high school stage to receive a diploma.  We still party hard, live hard, and look hard.

Others ran an upgrade when our first child was born. Suddenly, a small life needed us to step up our game and our prior way of operating wasn’t going to work.

A few of us made the change to a newer version during a major life event like the death of a parent or spouse.

Even with these occasional upgrades, our mental security still has gaps, bugs, flaws and we need to run a scan from time to time to ensure optimum performance.

For instance, how are you responding to your coworkers and friends?  Are you receiving their input with grace and charm?  Or are you failing to listen, quickly reacting without understanding all the situation?

What about your children?  When they enter the room, are you turning off the TV, the radio, the mental processes that run constantly in your mind?  Do you talk to them when they are present or is the background noise of your life drowning out the more important conversations that need to occur?

Does your spouse need your attention?

Does your dog need a walk?

Do you think more negative thoughts than positive?

What is the condition of your mind and heart?  Is it time for an upgrade?

Perhaps it is time for a internal check, a system scan, a review of your operating system.  Perhaps it is time to upgrade to a new and better you.

For some, it will take only a quick check.  For others, it might demand an entire re-boot.

Either way, I bet it’s time to upgrade to a new you.

 

A Little Fixer-Upper

IMG00066My wife and I play a little game.  We look for houses that might be interesting to buy.  We’re never serious, we just point out homes that have “For Sale” signs in their front yard.  As we note their sign, we also determine whether or not we would be interested in moving into the home.  These decisions are based on several important factors, including location, style of home, the materials used in construction, and the effort needed to make them livable.

Some homes require a touch of paint or some concrete work to make them habitable.  Several are beyond repair.  Occasionally we view a home that might work as-is, but this is a rare occurrence.

Sometimes we drive through very nice neighborhoods; perfect neighborhoods, with beautiful tree-lined streets, boasting  million-dollar homes.  Its on these drives that my funny, funny wife will point out the window and say, “There’s a little fixer-upper.”  And we just Laaaaaugh!

Last night a friend of ours mentioned buying into one of the newest ideas in home ownership:  No or Low Maintenance Homes.  In case you’ve never heard of these, allow me to explain.  If you are smart enough to move your worldly belongings into one of these fashionable dwellings, you benefit from the fact that you will never have to mow the yard, weed the flowerbeds, shovel the walks or paint the walls.  You don’t have to repair the roof, replace the siding or point-tuck the bricks.  This is the kind of living every home owner dreams of, right?

But here’s the rub:  There is no such thing as a no maintenance home.  Every home, every single one, requires maintenance.  The marketing department for these abodes has done a great job in convincing you that it is the perfect home when, in reality, these residences are just like every other.  The difference is that someone else does the maintenance.  Someone else mows the yard, pulls the weeds, paints the walls.  The work is still required.  The difference is that the effort is someone else’s.

Maintenance is reality, whether you or someone else is doing the work.  It’s true of homes and its true of the reset of life.

Plants need watered, tended and trimmed.

Dogs need walked, groomed and loved.

Cars need gassed up, oil changed, and tuned.

Kids need food, clothes, shelter, money, more food and more clothes, more money…Actually, the kids’ list is endless.

There’s no way around it.  Everyone and everything needs maintenance.

If you wake up tomorrow (and I hope you do), you will need maintenance.  If you are like me, the first thing you do in the morning is to shuffle to the bathroom.  Maintenance.  Fix your morning coffee and eat a quick breakfast.  Maintenance.  Shower and shave.  Maintenance.  Everything we do is designed to maintain the bodies we inhabit, the homes in which we live, and the families we love.

Stop the maintenance and you won’t last long.  Ignore the maintenance and the domicile declines.  Increase the attention to the maintenance and the quality of the residence improves.

It’s true with your body, your family or that little fixer-upper you call home.

Turning…Older

Close the box is a dice game in which you must roll the perfect combination to "close" all the numbers on your side.
Close the Box is a dice game in which you must roll the perfect combination to “close” all the numbers on your side.  It hardly ever happens.

I’m starting to come to a realization about life:  It’s one big Crap Shoot.

I don’t mean this in a negative way.  I mean that, in truth, life is nothing more than a roll of the dice.  You can be happy and healthy one minute and in the toss of the cubes, your life changes dramatically.  You can be working hard, paying your bills, involved in your community and then you get fired, laid off, injured, or sick.

You can plant seeds in the garden and the odds are that something will grow, but it isn’t a 100% guarantee.

You can teach your children to be responsible but their actions, ultimately are their own and you have no control.

You can keep your yard perfectly groomed but it doesn’t prevent the city from digging a ditch through your fescue.

Life is a Crap Shoot.  You roll the dice every morning that you wake up.  The outcome is out of your hands…But how you respond to the fall of the dice is another story entirely!

Four years ago, after standing in the sandwich line for 20 minutes, I blew up at the woman behind the counter when she informed me that they don’t sell half wrap sandwiches.  I ranted and raved.  I stormed away.  I made a scene.  In short, I was an ass.  Don’t ask why.  I have no idea why I acted that way.  I can venture a guess:  Stress, Frustration, Fatigue.  Any number of reasons come to mind:  Stupidity, Immaturity, Evil.

In what was the least important part of my day, I threw a temper tantrum.  I pouted like a four-year-old because they only sold WHOLE wraps and not HALF wraps.  The dice fell wrong.  Big deal.  But I reacted in a manner that was beyond inappropriate.  I hate to think how I would have acted if it had been something important!

But here’s the rub.  I knew I was wrong.  I knew that my actions were out of line.  And so the next day, I stood in line for another 20 minutes.  Not to order a sandwich, whole or otherwise, but to apologize.  It was an awkward moment for me but there was no way I would ever be able to face that woman, and all my co-workers, if I didn’t take responsibility for my actions and my reactions.

And here’s the best part of the story.  To this day, Caroline (the sandwich maker) and I greet one another with a smile and a hug whenever we see one another.  She calls me Darlin’ and Hon.  I just call her Caroline.  But occasionally will break out into my own version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” from across the lunch room.  We talk about her vacations and she asks about my day.  I am interested in her sore back and her love of NASCAR and she is happy to see me when I enter her line.  The other day I wandered through the cafeteria just to wish her a happy weekend.

My initial reaction on the horrible day four years ago?  Ridiculous.

My second-thought reaction four years ago and every day since?  Redemptive.

The dice are going to fall.  Someday, it’s going to be something that matters and the roll will not favor you.  A bad diagnosis, a pink slip, a burst water pipe, hurtful revelations, whispered secrets.  How you react is much more important that the final count on the dice.

Perhaps I’ve learned that much in 49 years.  Perhaps.