Thanksgiving and Gratitude

I was having a conversation with a close friend the other night and she shared with me the story of an uncle who passed away from cancer this past summer. As I listened to story after story I couldn’t help but notice the impact his life had made on hers. But it didn’t end there; sprinkled in each story was tales of how other family members lives were touched in similar ways. Over and over I heard, “you just can’t comprehend how special he made everyone feel, each in our own individual unique way” or “when I was with him it made me feel so important every time I saw him.” As I was driving home, that conversation caused me to pause and take inventory of the people in my life, past and present, who left similar marks on my life.

The thing I love about Thanksgiving is the fact that the only exchange which takes place is the exchange of stories in the midst of sharing our time with friends and loved ones. So before settling into your Thanksgiving routine this week, the food and the football, I challenge you to take a similar inventory of those who left a mark on your life, and to do it prior to Thursday.

-Who is the person or persons who impacted your life in such a way that it left such a mark on your life that you now feel compelled to share it with them?  

-And if they are no longer with you, is there someone close to them whose Thanksgiving would be so much more meaningful, and may be even a little less painful,  if you shared with them the difference that their loved one made in your life?

-What’s stopping you?

Remember that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive their first brutal winter in New England. So in that tradition….please don’t won’t let this Thanksgiving pass without sharing your appreciation to those who made a difference in your life. And I do hope you will leave a comment below about the person or persons whose life impacted yours so everyone who reads this post share in honoring them this Thanksgiving.

I’ll be the one to start in the comment section, but I also want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you who have visited Leveraging Life the last four months. I know your world is a busy place, so for you to spare a moment or two and read what I post is something I value greatly.

So I thank each and every one of you and hope you have a Safe and Gratitude filled Thanksgiving!

~Tom

trusting God period

I hope you’ll stop back by on Wednesday as I put the Christmas twist on Worship Wednesday.

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The 5 “F’s” – Family

                                          FAMILY                                 FINANCES

                                                             FAITH

                                  FITNESS                                FRIENDS

Of the 5F’s, which was outlined in a previous post The Next 25, Faith is the one which supports the other four and sustains the balance of the structure called life. That being said, the one I want to lead with is Family. While the significance is obvious, Family is the one “F” where compromises are easily justified, yet the consequences can last a lifetime.  

Bob Balestri © istockphoto

As I glance in my rear-view mirror covering my First 25, I see a guy whose life was consumed by what I did and not who I was. My focus and concern had everything to do with my professional significance and little to do with relational relevance within my own family. While I wasn’t totally disconnected and made all the important dates, birthdays, anniversaries, etc., my involvement in those impromptu family events (most people consider key) was almost non-existent. And when someone approaches life in that fashion an interesting phenomenon surfaces; turn down enough invitations and invitations stop being extended. 

No one specifically set out exclude me, but the prevailing feeling was why bother we know what Tom’s answer will be “he has to work”, which translates “we know where Tom’s heart is.” Ouch! 

“your windshield is bigger than your rear-view mirror for a reason”

Jim Jurica © istockphoto

The view I have in my windshield comes from a change of heart and focus which began when I found myself living in a nursing home in the midst of a health crisis. It was during that two-month period when it dawned on me, that no one from work was calling much less visiting. In my eyes where I had invested the most I expected the most, a visit or at the least a call. But the encouragement and support I received in that time of uncertainty came from the group who came second to my career, my family and closest of friends who are like family. This life lesson taught me that not getting the Family component of the 5F’s can carry a cost that no amount of money can repay because what is the value of time spent with loved ones.    

And it was in that moment of clarity I vowed never to confuse sacrificing for my family with investing in my family in terms of time.    

It comes down to a commitment  

You either talk about it, or like Nike says, you Just Do It; and while what I’ve outline below seems so basic, I simply first had to make sure I understood the difference in investing in vs. sacrificing for family and was prepared to be completely intentional in my commitment to them.   

-You have to guard your time with your family because everyone else  will try to shortchange it – Learn how to say no

-A conscious investment of time is being with them, being off work with the laptop open answering emails is the same as being in the office with a better view – Engage and Interact.     

-Instill a closed-door policy – when you close the front door of your home you must make sure work stays on the other side of the door, what you leave on the doorstep will be there the next time you leave for work.

-Give permission to them to call you out if you come up short in some cycles or seasons…..Don’t take it personally, remember this was something you committed to!

Next up is Friends and the role they play in your 5F’s

~Tom

trusting God period

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Saying Sayonara Facebook Style

Photo Credit iStock Photograpy © Matthew Palmer

On Twitter you follow, on Facebook you become friends, but what happens when there is a split, when there is a falling out? Do you do as Steve Martin once said,

“I break with thee, I break with thee, and throw dog poop on their shoes!”

In the modern internet era that may mean unfollowing” someone on Twitter andunfriending them on Facebook, or combination of you’re connected in multiple areas. This may occur from a real world falling out, or just because of an oversaturation of meaningless of status updates or tweets you’re tired of seeing.

Which leads to an interesting question are the “rules” for dissolving an online “connection/friendship” different than dissolving them in the real world?

Some Facts

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution recently reported on a University of Colorado study done by Christopher Sibona and Steven Walczak, where they surveyed social media online participants and they has concluded that Facebook users are more inclined to unfriend someone online than in real life.

One of the interesting things about unfriending is the most real-world friendships either blow-up or fade away,” said Sibona, “But on Facebook, users actively make the decision to unfriend, and people often don’t know why or what’s happened in the relationship.”

This is partial list what their study identified as some of the top reasons someone might be unfriended:

-Posting too frequently (hour by hour potty training updates get old quick)

-Posturing sensitive topics like politics, religion, or controversial issues (left of right may not sit right with all)

-Real life falling out (let’s be friends after a split doesn’t mean you can have a front row seat to my life now)

-Your Filter is way too broad (rude, crude, and lewd is just as unsettling online as it is around the dinner table)

 This new world has created an entirely new vocabulary that didn’t exist a few short years ago and a term like “unfriending” became the New Oxford Dictionary’s new word of the year for 2009.

Personally I think the sheer fact Facebook added a feature to block Farmville and Mafia wars from appearing in the news feed allowed for many an online “friendship” to remain intact…..whether that’s good or bad is still up for discussion. 

Have you felt tension in deciding who to “friend” on Facebook?

Have you unfriended any one on Facebook?

You have anything you would add to the list of reasons you might say sayonara to someone?

~Tom

trusting God period

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