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LifeCraft – The Art of Meaning in the Everyday

Life is not a puzzle to be solved but a series of projects to accomplish the best we can

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LifeCraft–The Art of Meaning in the Everyday by Forest Church is an insightful book and offers an array of ideas worth contemplating. Forest is the son of the late Senator Frank Church of Idaho.

To a greater or lesser degree everyone shares most or all of the following characteristics. These include:

* Self conscious about their appearance
* Feeling guilty about things that they have done or have failed to do
* Sometimes have a hard time accepting themselves or forgiving others
* Have secrets which they feel may betray them at any moment
* Fail in ways that matter to themselves and to their loved ones …despite others successes.
* Feel stressful, as if happiness is fleeting.
* Worry about aging or concerned with dying
* Have been betrayed
* Wonder what is the meaning of life.

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Religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die. Knowing that we are going to die, we question what life means.

“When I get anxious or depressed, as I do from time to time,” he says, “it is usually because I am focusing on a single part of my life that has gone awry. I loss my peripheral vision.”

Not a Puzzle to Be Solved

Life is not a puzzle to be solved but a series of projects to accomplish the best we can. It is not a work in progress but a series of works in progress. Lifecraft embraces living and dying, loving and losing, failing well, recovering, and coping.

“Because my father was not afraid to die, he was not afraid to live. He did not spend his life, as so many of us do, little by little until it was gone. He gave it away to others. He invested in things that would ennoble and outlast him.”

What would you put in your own time capsule? Would you put in a hundred dollar bill? A book or letters? A diamond broach? A pressed flower? A set of instructions? A picture, a drawing? Whatever it is, it all reflects you.

Tuning Our Voices

What are five things for which you hope to be remembered? To answer this, fully tap the present and the past, and consider moments when you were or are most fully present. Don’t try to impress or be clever. Strip off the layers of pretense, so often born of insecurity.

Think about your project. Which ones matter? Go to the finest places in your heart.

Even before it is an act of self-expression, prayer is an act of empathy. Prayer involves listening — it is the discipline of listening. Discipline and prayer mean much the same thing. The Latin root for discipline means to listen.

A disciple is one who listens; we listen when we pray. And simply by listening, how much we gain. From broken melody we move to harmony; we resolve our dissonance into consonance; we tune our voices to the key of the cosmos.

The Wonder of It All

If the length of time that the galaxy has been existence were a distance of 200 miles, only the last 8 inches would represent humankind’s time on this planet. Fixating on the last 8 inches of history, as opposed to the first 200 miles yields skewed results. Those of us with 200-mile parallax vision are more aware of our ignorance than those–equally ignorant–with an 8-inch view.

  • Enthusiasm: being filled with God.
  • Ecstasy: standing outside of one’s self.
  • Empathy: being within another.

Ecstasy seems a selfish word but it is not. When we stand outside of ourselves, we connect with something larger and more all embracing. To lose ourselves in something other than ourselves is ecstasy. It’s impossible to experience ecstasy while lost in self-absorption; ecstasy liberates us from the one thing least conducive to the art of meaning. To practice Lifecraft well, you must stand outside yourself.

Minutes and Meaning

A drowning man sees his entire life pass before his eyes in about one minute. Take the next minute of your life to pretend that you’re drowning and are about to die. No more options, no more projects. One minute is all that you have left. Your entire life is about to pass before your eyes. Close them. What do you see?

A minute is a long time. Had you been ready, you might have been able to fill it more thoughtfully, but that’s the way death works. Nothing will change all the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years that slip by unconsciously before we fall through the trap door on the way to death.

What gives our lives meaning? Kindness, forgiveness, generosity, enthusiasm, ecstasy, empathy. Above all love, given and received. For any of these things, one minute is not a bad start. Invest a few of your remaining minutes in saving your life before you actually lose it.

Turn the Page

If you are stuck at some point in your life, my suggestion is this: turn the page. Sure, you will miss something. I understand that. Sometimes however, trying to find something that you know you have missed delays you from discovering things that await you. Action, new characters, a turn in the plot. So, turn the page.

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Education

‘Anti-Racists’ are Racist: Do Not Apologize for Being White

‘Anti-racists’ claim that whites, by virtue of their skin color, are detrimental to society

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Ibram X. Kendri, the bigoted professor from Boston University and director of their Center for Antiracist Research, says that whiteness is a problem for all of society, indeed for the entire globe. Who knew?!

Kendri, who was included in Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, seemingly knows a lot about white people. In fact, he professes to know about every white person in America if not all over the world.

Me? I’m one of those people who merely gets up every day, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, eats a decent breakfast, and goes to work. I had no inkling that in the U.S. and other western nations white people like me had been “socialized to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white.” How naive I have been all these years!

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Now I discover that to be “less white” is a virtue! It requires one to be “less oppressive, less arrogant, less certain, less defensive, less ignorant,” and, more humble, more willing to listen, more willing to believe, and, get this, “to break with the apathy” that white people like me exhibit and “to break with white solidarity.”

Woke Institutions and Brainwashed Authors

White solidarity? Darn, nobody told me about this. Thank goodness it’s all become so clear thanks to enlightened (white) authors such as Robin DiAngelo, who wrote the thoroughly racist and condescending book White Fragility, and thanks to companies such as Coca-Cola which have the foresight to impose programs for its white employees, to be less white.

When there’s a challenge in front of me, I actually do strive to find the right answer, particularly something related to numbers. I will collaborate on occasion, but most of the time I prefer to figure out things for myself, aided by the “all-knowing” Internet.

Am I arrogant, oppressive,  defensive, or ignorant? No one has ever brought this up. Being white, however, I guess I can’t help it! I don’t seek to inhibit the success of others, but I’m now informed that by virtue of my skin color I am detrimental to society. Mea culpa!

The Anti-Racist Racists

With Coca-Cola and other organizations teaching white people to be less white, I’m wondering, will the sequel be how Asians can be less yellow and Indians can be less brown? In America, both groups seem to excel academically. Perhaps only domineering Caucasians, particularly 60+ white males like me, however, are the ones upsetting the apple cart all over society.

Was I given a free pass for the last 40 years? I mean, all the while nobody mentioned my whiteness as a social and cultural problem. My black friends from Little League, high school, various hiking groups, and other groups around town haven’t said squat. So, up ’til now, presumably, I was doing okay. Perhaps they’ve merely been nice to me while whispering behind my back.

Heeding the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought our common goal was to live in harmony and to reach a state of color blindness where people were judged by the content of their character and not by their skin color. Hmmm…  I guess that is no longer in play.

I’m wondering, what would MLK conclude about today? Would he speak up against the propensity of the Left to define everybody else by class, sex, or race? Would he be opposed to pitting young against old, rich against poor, black against white, rural against urban, male against female, and all the other phony dichotomies that the Left relentlessly promulgates each day?

Absurd From the Get-Go

Imagine the unending uproar if someone drew up a list of how hundreds of millions of black people all over the world could become “less black.” The  absurdity of regarding all white people, hundreds of millions of them, as having a general set of characteristics, let alone having those characteristics be detrimental to society, is the grand facade of the ages.

How long will “woke” organizations maintain this illusion? Have they been coerced to the point where they’re afraid to say, “This is ridiculous, and needs to stop now”? [Actually, they have been coerced.] Will decades pass before we see the end of this malarkey?

I do not apologize for being a white person, just as no person of color has to apologize for their ethnic background, skin color, race, or religion. If you’re a good citizen who respects the rights of others, that, my friend, is sufficient.

Morgan Freeman, who played God in the movie Bruce Almighty, wishes we would do away with Black History month and merely have history. Freeman also wants us to stop regarding individuals as black and white and simply let people be people. Amen to that.

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Life

Finding Meaning in Daily Activities, Even Now

You are creating your life every day; every choice you make determines the quality of your life

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If you’re like me, each day you shudder to think what new, nation-destroying ploy, or blunder, the Biden administration will foist upon us next. In our own lives, nevertheless, while awaiting November 2022 and the chance to take back the Senate and House, we have the opportunity to find meaning nearly each day.

In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings, Rachel Remen tells a story about a doctor who had to deliver a baby in the hallway of the emergency room area. He had delivered other babies but not like this. While swabbing the baby’s face, she opened her eyes and looked right at him: he was the first person she had ever seen.

This experience changed the doctor’s way of proceeding. He regarded this as sacred moment. He remembered why he chose this line of work. He felt validated. His cynicism fell away. He became more invigorated, more inspired, and started to interact with more of his patients and his co-workers. Soon, he was invited to events he had never participated in before. His whole world opened up.

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Now, he seeks such moments constantly.

A Capacity that Builds

Finding meaning is a capacity that we build, like a muscle. When you first started in your current career position, finding meaning was not an issue. You were excited. There was so much you wanted to do. You had all kinds of plan. Then, years passed.

Little by little you became jaded perhaps. Why did I choose this line of work? Why can’t I find competent help? Why are customer or clients so demanding?

It is possible, even now in this time of turmoil, to reinvent yourself on the job, to rediscover what initially attracted you to this profession and what the current possibilities might be. Sometimes the re-awakening is triggered by attending a conference or convention, taking a course, reading a vital book, or spending time with a colleague or peer.

Goodbye to Yesterday

Today and the days that follow do not have to be extensions of what came before. You do not have to proceed into the future looking through a rear view mirror. A world of choices awaits, even if in the same old position you’ve been holding down for years.

Will you make new choices? And what will drive those choices?

Discovering or rediscovering meaning is about getting clear on what’s most important to you and aligning your choices with those priorities. It’s about living and working with intention instead of operating on autopilot or by default, where one day looks exactly like the next.

So, What Matters Right Now?

Start by identifying what’s most important to you …today, not what was important five, ten, or 20 years. Is it creativity, or perhaps collaboration? Maybe it’s impact or flexibility?

Next, identify what professional – and this might be different than your current profession! – and personal goals align with those priorities. What does living or working more creativity look like? If, say, collaboration matters to you, how can you incorporate more collaboration into the work you do?

From here, you’ll want to pinpoint actions or choices that support those goals. Where are your current choices in or out of alignment with what you’ve identified as most important? What new, more intentional choices can you make?

Each and Every Day

Consider this: You are creating your life every day. Every choice you make, action or inaction, determines the quality of your life. If not now, when: Making the choice to live and work with intention and in alignment is the key to cultivating a life of meaning and fulfillment.

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