Covered: Unmasking The Tricks To Wearing A Mask in Public

C.V.maskThose of you old enough will remember an early television show called the Lone Ranger. He had several distinctive trademarks including his amazing white horse, silver bullets (one of which he’d leave behind after getting the bad guys) and a pretty classy mask. And at the end of every show, someone would typically ask, “Who was that masked man?”

Few knew but they’d then mention the silver bullet they’d discovered he had left. Was that a cool show or what?

As I now walk through public settings a little more frequently, I find myself looking over my shoulder asking a similar question, I wonder who that masked lady (or man) was. I think I might know her (or him). It’s not easy to recognize people now, even those we know well, when we can only see their eyes.

And to be honest, it’s rather sad, isn’t it, to have this distance put between us and those around us. We can’t see the smiles or looks that affirm. If anything we worry more about getting too close and being removed from the store because we broke the rules.

Hopefully, the masks will go before too long. At least down the road, the majority won’t be wearing one everywhere they go. But until then here are a few suggestions for making mask wearing a little less threatening and depressing.

One, don’t quit interacting with people. Yes, we have to keep our distance but you don’t need a megaphone to talk to someone six feet away. It’s Coronavirus, not Corona-voiceless! There are no laws against still talking to one another in a relaxed, positive way, even though we may need to speak up more than usual. “What? You’ve seen a mouse? Oh, you’re going to clean the house.”

Two, smile with your eyes. And in reality, that means smile like normal and your eyes will automatically reveal your pleasant demeanor. No, it’s not the same as seeing a full face – eyes, nose and big grin – but it’s better than giving off all seriousness, all the time, twenty four hours a day.

Third, be positive with the rest of your body. You can walk briskly, dance, shuffle, hum, sing, snap your fingers or become a mime. (Okay, skip that last one, unless your first name is Marcel). Too many people are still walking around as though their mayor just announced that the quarantine has been extended to the year the Detroit Lions win the Super Bowl. (Friends in Michigan – too much?)

My point is that we probably need to be willing to wear a mask for a little while yet depending upon our personal situation. But we can have some fun and bring a little joy to others while we’re still somewhat faceless.

And after you’ve helped make someone’s day and perhaps improved yours, it would be really cool if . . . yeah, you left a silver bullet laying around.

Maybe Instead of Just Save More We Could Also “Savor” More?

Savor

A number of years ago we had a cute, little Shih Tzu named Sadie. Recently, we got a near lookalike, a Shorky, named Sasha. They have a number of things in common including color, running style, personality, etc. We even sometimes call Sasha “Sadie” by mistake though we’re getting better.

However, there’s one trait that is clearly prominent and probably true of many dog breeds. When they get a treat or even their regular food, they just gulp it down and are in many cases immediately ready for the next one. I used to always say to Sadie and now repeat the same to Sasha, “You know, you really need to savor more.”

Of course, they have no idea what I’m talking about and probably won’t change, but what I in jest hope they’ll do is enjoy their treats and food a little longer, not eat them quite so fast and embrace the moment so to speak. But with dogs, that’s not going to happen, is it?

I wonder though if WE don’t need to do that more. You know, stop and enjoy our moments, some which are repeated often, but some we may never have quite like that again. I could list hundreds, if not thousands, of potential moments worth enjoying, but they will vary from person to person, family to family, household to household, even culture to culture.

But there are some general times and places to look for our moments and perhaps work at savoring them, enjoying them and not running for the next thing.

Think about savoring when:

A. You’re one-on-one with someone special, someone you love, someone you’ll miss when they’re gone.

B. You’re making a memory doing something out of the ordinary: a special road trip, climbing a mountain, completing a bucket list, having a mystery fun night, serving others.

C.  You get to watch them doing what they love, enjoying it and their skills to the fullest, feeling alive as they do it.

D.  You are alone, have quiet surroundings all to yourself, can actually feel your heart beat and find yourself thinking and dreaming and wondering in ways you never do in normal life.

E.  You are doing not what you were forced to do, but what you were made to do.  There’s little more fulfilling and thrilling than using the skills, talents and resources you’ve been given to do something that truly matters.

You see savoring slows us down, helps our memories, renews our souls, quiets our anxieties and gives us hope for more. It can also help us appreciate what we have and grow in thankfulness, not entitlement. Our savoring may not rub off on our animals but it can affect our kids, too, helping them appreciate the blessings they have instead of getting bored and running on to the next fun thing.
Try a little more savoring in your world today. You’ll need a little extra free time, but you’ll wonder why you didn’t starting doing this more a long time ago!

Some Components For Our New Normal?

newnormalIf you haven’t heard a reporter, government official, friend or family member talk about a new normal, you’ve probably spent most of this quarantine time in bed under the covers. We’re being told daily that we will be living with some sort of remade way of life after the worst of the pandemic is over.

And those who suggest an altered lifestyle are probably right in several ways. In fact, there are a few things I hope will be more the norm in our culture during the upcoming weeks, months and years.

We do need to be a bit careful about this reality, however. For one thing, if we’re growing at all, then there should be some individual change taking place all the time. Every day should be a taste of a new normal. These changes will hopefully not be something we’ve never done before but add life and excitement to our existence here.

Second, let’s be cautious about what the ideal new normal will look like. Lots of people have their own agenda about how everyone should think, act and feel. However, we don’t all have to be the same to have a healthy, vibrant, thriving culture. As writer and speaker, Patsy Clermont suggested, normal is simply a setting on your dryer.

I do wish for a few things in our new, refined and improved society though if we get there. I’m confident that each of these changes can be expressed in myriad ways and that we don’t have to all act alike to implement them. Nonetheless, they would be be a huge improvement in my opinion.

First, I hope our new normal includes a boatload more of respect for one another. By respect I don’t mean agreeing on everything. No, respect is more about speaking kindly to and listening with interest to those who may disagree with us. I hope that leaders, no matter the party, media types, celebrities and the public in general, will actually affirm others with whom they disagree by how they treat them, speak of them and even compliment them.

Enough of the phony, one-way tolerance that so many promote and exemplify today under the guise of diversity and caring. Respect needs to be a two-way street in spite of our differences.

Second, I hope the new normal will slow people down. Too many families live as though they are on a runaway train that can’t be stopped. The quarantine certainly slowed most of our locomotives down, but the question will be whether we’ve come to enjoy and cherish this new pace or not. Did our time with family, friends and perhaps God really mean that much, so much that we would sacrifice some of our accomplishments and other have-to’s to keep it.

What if meals, even in restaurants, were just a little bit longer? What if more books, puzzles and games appeared at home, ones that families, couples and kids played together? What if real vacations, not ones tied to a job, were taken, memories made and special moments cherished?

Third, I hope that the new normal will make serving others a higher priority. Millions of dollars and people have been given to help others during the Coronavirus months. It’s been exciting to see people creatively finding ways to give rather than take. And of course, many people do that kind of thing year round, virus or not.

But could we see the sharing priority stepped up so that going through this together as many of the public service announcements have suggested is happening all the time, everywhere, in ways and amounts we’ve never seen before. What if life was less about ME and more about WE?

You may have your own wishes for the new normal. If so, don’t just talk about them. Start them, do them, model them, live them. We could find that 2020, this year certainly to remember, brought about healthy, healing changes that our kids and grandkids will be talking about for decades. Now that would be a new normal.

Can A Virus Help Us “See” Better? Perhaps.

eyeexam

Yesterday my wife and I got outdoors (socially distancing, of course) by going to beautiful Cataract Falls, an hour or so southwest of Indianapolis, with our daughter and her four boys. It was a gorgeous day and the falls were a highlight for us all.

However, as we were leaving the area we saw a sign advertising a local church. And as one might expect the church name started with the word Cataract. I’ll use a fictitious name to make my point because my comments have nothing to do with that church or any particular church. Let’s for now call our virtual church Cataract Community Church.

What is a cataract? Here’s a valid definition from online: A medical condition in which the lens of the eye becomes progressively opaque, resulting in blurred vision.

Knowing about cataracts since I also have two in process, my reaction to seeing the name of the church near the falls was, “Hmm, I wonder how many other churches SHOULD have the word ‘cataract’ at the beginning of their name?”

Why? Because their vision too has become clouded, blurred and they’ve lost sight of why their church is in existence. Instead of being a light to those around them, a source of hope, provision and care for the hurting and inspiration for those who passionately follow their God, they only see themselves.

They’re largely focused on keeping traditions, maintaining the status quo, propping up their preferences and guarding against any hint of change lest it take them down the Devil’s slippery slope. They don’t grow, reach out or change anything with the goal of being attractive to those who are merely seeking, wondering and hoping for more.

In fact, those same actions could be said of everyday people like us who have had their personal eyesight impeded somehow.

The good news is that this Coronavirus mess and tragedy could be the stimulus for those groups and/or people in general to finally see that church and life done the old way won’t necessarily work anymore. Maybe the cataracts will be removed and people will “see” that they don’t have to throw out the main things, the unchangeable tenets, their foundational beliefs to be more caring, interested and flexible people whether at church, work, school or at home.

Eyes could be opened to possibilities that were hidden before. Have you ever seen a video where a small child or handicapped adult got their hearing or sight for the first time? The look on their face is priceless. It’s as though a whole new world has been opened to them and it has. But that world was there all along. They just couldn’t or wouldn’t experience it.

The same is true with the church and those who make up that institution or others like it. There is a world out there that needs us to be Jesus to them, to model His life, be loving like He was and still is and show others that there is hope both in this life and in eternity to come.

But it won’t happen for some without surgery to remove the cataracts that have clouded our vision. There’s much to see as we climb through life. Don’t miss it because you weren’t willing to get an “I” exam.

It’s A Plexiglas Life These Days

Plexiglas

For years, many banks have added thick glass partitions between the tellers and customers for security and safety purposes. Those mini-walls are no doubt bullet proof but also add a barrier that at least can deter a would-be robber or other person desiring to do harm or take advantage.

But just today I went to our local big box grocery and discovered new plexiglas shields at the checkout register as well. I’d already seen them in other settings as you no doubt have too. Obviously, the goal is to avoid dangerous contact that could lead to Coronavirus spread or infecting.

My hunch is that those shields may be here to stay. As they say, we’re going to be living in a new normal. And we could argue that these shields are helpful or not helpful, that our rights are being infringed on or caution is more important. We could protest, elect not to go to certain stores whose requirements seem too stringent.

But maybe, as I’ve referred to in other communication,  it’s wiser to get off the Why questions and deal more with the How. How are we going to respond to things like more plexiglas in our world and find wise ways to make the best of it and have it work to our advantage.

It’s for another blog post, but too many people, a lot of them famous, powerful individuals, spend all their time whining and do very little shining by serving, helping and contributing the the solutions.

So, here are a few suggestions for those of us impacted by the plexiglas expansion in our culture, the barriers that could threaten our connecting and community if we don’t respond well.

First, let’s make a greater effort to TALK with purpose through the plexiglas. Those barriers might muffle our voices a little but can’t stop our words. So why not greet the person on the other side a little more kindly, with a bit more interest and with something positive to say. I haven’t seen a barrier yet that says SILENCE PLEASE WHEN APPROACHING THE GLASS.

Second, remember that most of these barriers aren’t there to keep you and me out. They’re not there to limit crime. They’re there to lower grime, germs, viruses. Treat them the way you did when scanners first came out (if you’re old enough to remember that). They were a real pain, the check-out people didn’t know how to use them, some did, some didn’t. Now we can’t live without them. And remember that the people on the other side are learning to adjust, too.

Third, take more advantage of the connecting opportunities you do have – at home, church, work, your neighborhood, community events. Yes, all that is returning slowly but nobody’s taking down the fence in their yard and putting in plexiglas, are they? (Well, some government leaders and movie stars probably are, but who cares? Too much, too soon?)

We’re blessed, we have much to be thankful for in spite of the tragic losses, challenges and setbacks we’ve all faced. But we still have each other, we’ve made it because of other people and there’s not substance that has the right to keep us apart. Including plexiglas.

For Those Of You Just Arriving at Never Quit Climbing! Welcome

 

Never quit climbing!

Hi there,

Some of you are just finding out about Never Quit Climbing. Others are returning. And I owe some of you an apology or at least an explanation about the slow but steady journey of NQC.

A few of you expected more after signing up and you weren’t wrong in doing so. However, in the middle of setting up my website (with the help of a talented, adult daughter), I wrote my book by the same name.

That project made it harder to give much credible time to the NQC site and those following. I promise to do better.

So thanks for checking us out. I hope you’ll find the resources, blog and other links helpful whether you’re just curious, a granite climber or facing your own personal Everest.

And I want to hear from you. Let me know your ideas, thoughts, helpful hints and links. We’ll pass them on. I hope you’ll read Never Quit Climbing, too, or pass it on to others. In fact, you can link free of charge to chapter 1 (the eBook layout) NQC Chapter 1.

I look forward to connecting with you more in the days ahead. If you already subscribed to NQC click Never Quit Climbing website. Thanks!

 

Virus Time Can Equal Teaching Time

069c7536-dad8-4ac5-8d01-f9ac791f2ed4I’m worried about Millenials these days. No, not because of the Coronavirus or other potential health risks, though those are serious concerns. I’m worried that many Millennials and other young adults seem to think they are entitled to keep living their life with all its benefits, freedoms, perks and luxuries no matter how that may impact others.

One of the premier examples of late is the hoards of kids who seemed to ignore the warnings of the government, health agencies and basic logic and head to the nation’s beaches for Spring Break. Leaders in Florida and other states in warm climates this time of year had to legislate the closing of many beaches or at least make it illegal to be there.

Some left. Some didn’t and won’t.

Now, don’t take this wrong. I’m not suggesting that all college to thirty-five-year-olds don’t care about others, make bad decisions or live an entitled life. But there are too many who do that and more to not worry. Why? Well, first of all, their misguided selfishness can hurt others especially in the middle of a pandemic. This has been discussed and documented far beyond what I might add here.

But second, a healthy, free, democratic republic can’t last with the majority believing life is all about them. And someday, probably after I’m gone, if things don’t change our whole culture could be run by an entitled majority who will vote, make laws, lead companies and oversee homes convinced that the social solar system revolves around them.

The one nation under God part of our Pledge of Allegiance, already straying from the under God  part, will likely become, My nation under Me, if not in print, then in principle.

That’s why our challenges with this deadly sickness needs to become a reality check, a teaching time, a maturing for us all no doubt, but especially for the young who live every day as though the streets, the stores, the food, the restaurants, the jobs, the government and more is for the most part about them.

Hopefully, we’re all discovering how blessed we’ve been in America, that unity wins out over selfishness and that we really can’t go through tough times alone or with only our agenda in our back pocket. Unity doesn’t mean we must all agree. And even more so, it doesn’t mean that you agree with me even though I don’t agree with you. That’s a common flaw in what is commonly labeled progressive thinking.

It’s not progressive at all. It’s merely one-way intolerance.

No, unity means that we at least try, even with our sometimes opposing views, to put people first and attempt to find the best ideas, the best wisdom that values, protects and grows people. It’s that kind of thinking that makes countries great, communities strong and families impactful.

It’s time for us all to sit back and think about our part in making that happen. We’ve certainly got the time.

 

 

It’s Often The Little Things That Cause The Big Ones

photography of a woman sitting on the chair listening to music
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Are you bored yet? Those of you whose families are pretty much relegated to being home most of the time may be running out of ideas to keep things exciting and avoid a mutiny of the ship.

And while we’ll all probably have moments when we’re out of ideas, tempers flare and we long for some new ideas, let me suggest a few little things that might help. I like the little phrase in the New Testament (Philippians 1) that says, We’re all in this together.  That IS true whether we like it or not.

So what are some of the little things?

Let me start with the kids. They can clean their room, make their bed, organize their closets, not as punishment but as a way to help out and take pressure off mom or dad. They can learn to cook something or do laundry. That might take a little extra parental effort at first but it might be time of them to learn some practical skills anyway.

As a family little things can be telling stories, sharing dreams or discussing things we’ve always wanted to do. Do we know each others’ favorites? Make a game out of it. Play the old “Hangman” game or some board game instead of a video one. Make something together such as cards to take to a nursing or assisted living home. Many of those people can’t have visitors right now. Just call and get permission to bring them by.

Make a video together of a story, song, sketch or discussion. These are pretty easy to do on cell phones without much other equipment plus you can add sound effects, music, etc. Then watch it together later.

Surprises are fun, too. A little treat brought home just because, staying up late to watch TV together, finding You Tube videos that everyone would enjoy, playing a group of songs that fit the category or favorite for everyone in the family. You can easily stream those – just ask your kids how to do it if you don’t know.

Finally, little things can include words. They may seem small but telling your family members that they are loved, that you are proud of them, that you see a great future for them will be remembered even if not welcomed, per se, at the moment.

Try some of your own little things with your family this week. Chances are someday they will be big ones that are remembered for a long time. They could also help fight the boredom factor that may be around for a few more weeks.

Sailing the 7 C’s During These Turbulent Days.

Here’s a summary of 7 things I highlighted in my Monday, FB Live video that we might consider as we wait out the Coronavirus and its stranglehold on our country and world right now. If you haven’t figured it out by now, they all start with the letter C.

  1. Calm down. Take a breath and and a break from the all the hype, angst, and real challenges coming our way. Don’t spend a lot of time reading all the posts online. Find the best sources possible and learn from them. Keep your sense of humor next to your seriousness about the situation.
  2. Commit only to next steps. I’m a mountain guy so I’ve learned that the way up a mountain is one part of the trailhead at a time. Focus on what you need to do next, not the summit.
  3. Connect. Of course, start with your family. Spend time talking, playing games, planning a trip for the future, learning about each other. Call up someone you haven’t seen or talked to for years. See how they’re doing
  4. Be Creative. If you’re facing financial or school challenges, sit down and think through creative options. There are ideas and solutions out there but sometimes we have to find ones that work for us.
  5. Care. There are likely people nearby who need groceries or other supplies picked up for them. Some may need money. Offer to help and be their transportation.
  6. Get Caught Up. You might be behind on your budget, cleaning, diet, taxes, whatever. Use this time to fix even one of the things on your behind list.
  7. Correct. Now might also be the time you can straighten out something that’s not working such as your schedule, spending habits, eating habits, etc

And one more C that can affect them all. Call on God. Pray. Each of these areas need His guidance so ask for it.

Rudeness: A New Entitlement

1800521-rude-man-theater-al-1543_b8ff502f022990bc77c4f7c1df257b5e.fit-760wMy wife and I went to a concert the other night featuring one of our favorite groups. I’m not going to mention the group name because they weren’t the problem and are not the focus of this post.

But though we had looked forward to this concert for months, had great seats and happily sacrificed to pay for the tickets, we left early. The problem? The rudeness of much of the crowd there.

Scores of people around us had too much to drink and didn’t care how the effects of their indulging impacted anyone else. They felt free to distract, disturb and embarrass themselves and others around them. Four women right behind us laughed hysterically most of the night as they boldly and loudly shared their stories of bedding various men and engaging in other sexual escapades.

Several people left barely ten minutes into the concert because of rowdy patrons near them who felt they could yell whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. They even complained to the support staff. I don’t know if they did anything or not.

Other rudeness showed in those who felt like the entire concert and all the seats had been provided for only them. For example, many in the front rows remained standing even when most of the audience was sitting, blocking the view of at least several rows of people behind them.

We were sitting on the aisle as one inebriated couple kept coming in and out every ten minutes before and during the concert to go somewhere and back. Not once did they say “excuse me” or “sorry for all the disturbances” as we stood up for them one more time.

From coming late into the concert to pushing and shoving their way into lines, the rudeness of many was unmistakable and sad. And let me be clear, concerts should be fun, happy times with lots of opportunity to stand, clap, sing and whatever. I attended some pretty wild concerts in the 70’s and continue to enjoy a fun night of music.

But this was different. There was a selfish ugliness to the actions I’m referring to. I saw t some a few months ago at another outdoor event where a mom and daughter stood the entire time again even when the rest of the audience took time to sit. When asked if they would sit down at times so they could see, the two women turned and berated the people who they were blocking stating quite loudly that they could do whatever the hell they wanted.

I see similar rudeness in the way people drive, get offended if someone goes ahead of them in the drive thru or don’t go fast enough for them. People are rude when someone disagrees with their point of view but then cry foul when it goes the other way.

Since when was rudeness made into a virtue? I know we can’t change the culture but we can make sure we don’t change with it for the worse. We can model a different way and speak out when the rude and crude seem to win the day. We can teach our kids and grand-kids to hold to a higher standard. Even when still  having fun people can be respectful and kind to others. Let’s commit to modeling that.

Paying for a ticket doesn’t entitle us to spoil someone’s else’s enjoyment. In fact, most of the world doesn’t get to do much of what we do and appreciate here anyway. Seems like if thankfulness guided our actions instead of selfishness, everyone at these events would have a better time. What do you think?