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How Discovering Famous Sayings On Life Changed One Man’s Entire Life Totally January 10, 2012

Posted by rengawman in life.
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It was many years in the past when I was extremely depressed about life. I didn’t possess any good things to talk about. I was alone and I didn’t have a decent occupation. I was overweight and didn’t wear refined clothing. I merely stopped caring about life. I was very unfortunate and livid about my new situation. I seriously asked when I could fancy life again. I sincerely expected to be unfortunate for the remainder of my life.

Nonetheless my life altered radically when I turned thirty-three years old. I was searching in my grandma’s basement looking for a Holiday decoration. As I searched in her junk I found an old tome termed Famous Quotes About Life. I threw it to the floor with the rest of the rubbish. However there was something distinguished about this book so I began to read it.

I read throughout the tome that afternoon while sitting in the basement. I felt energy and enthusiasm for the first time in months. I discovered quotations by such famous figures as Abe Lincoln and Plato. I liked quotes by lesser known dudes such as C.S. Lewis and even females as Jane Austen. These famous dudes and females truly understood the joys and sorrows in life. yet they all agreed that a man should never stop loving life. A man can never give up and stop believing that life is worth living.

I sat and stared at that wall of the cellar for about ten moments. Then, I stood up and walked up the stairs to the restroom. I looked in the looking glass and started to cry. I couldn’t believe the guy I had become. I was fat and livid and possessed no occupation. I examined my dirty face and stopped my crying. Then I began laughing. I didn’t want to live as the person I’d known for 33 years. I desired to live as the dudes and women whose famous life quotes inspired me that morning.

I left the house of grandmother and ran to my house. I was sweating and breathing heavy but awfully excited. I took a bath and combed my hair. I quit my lousy career at Walmart. I cleaned my apartment and threw all of the unhealthy food in the bin. At the exact bit I made a vow that I was going to have a brand new life. I wasn’t going to live as a fat livid loser, but as a new person. I was going to be glad. I was going to have joy thanks to those famous quotes about life.

Since that day I have altered my life completely. I now am going to college. I have lost twenty kilos and now have numerous friends. I also possess a girlfriend who loves me quite much. We see each other each day and are engaged to be married. I can’t believe how wonderful my life has become. While I know that it isn’t because I discovered the tome of famous life quotes I conclude that those famous quotes about life inspired me to become a better man.

The writer writes on particular themes but has a special joy for finding famous life quotes that he is able to share with other people.


First Date Suggestions: Dating Suggestions and Tips for the Man Going Out with a Woman for the First Time October 18, 2011

Posted by rengawman in life.
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You called her for a date, and she replied yes, and now the first date is upon you, with all of its pressures, and confusions. This, of course, will set the stage for the rest of the relationship. It is here where you have to put all of your goods on the table, where you put your best foot forward, and where you try to indicate your value to the young lady. The first date can make or break you, young man… no pressure though!

And truly said. You should not believe any pressure. That sounds completely unsimilar of what you assume you might feel, with the exception of as long as you do some basic planning, and keep your thinking in check, your date with the young woman will be excellent.

First date suggestions:

First of all, this girl you are about to take out should not be the only girl you are dating. Do not put all your eggs into one basket. There is an inclination called “cast your nets wide,” and if you do this, any and every time you go out you have will have a lot less pressure. What do we mean by this? When you are “dating” someone that means you are no committed to them in any way shape or form. That includes your first date that is coming up. If you are not in a committed relationship you should be dating, or at least have the ability to date quite a few women. That way, if this goes south, it isn’t a big deal, because you have a lot more first dates lined up. The less aim attention at you put, the better it will go because you are so laid-back!

advice #2 Have an idea!

You need to come up with the plan, my man. Unfortunately for you, it is your task to demonstrate worth. Women are attracted to high goodness males, make evident your quality. So you want to prepare in a way that will maximize your value in her eyes. choose the restaurant, don’t leave it up to her. Don’t pay for your grub with coupons, that can wait for marriage. Coupons are indicators that you are cheap, which is a low worth exhibition.

When you prepare your first date, leave nothing to chance- appearing to be in control of your situation means that you have high quality. That is not to say you shouldn’t be adaptable- you are in control, not controlling. For examples if a movie is in the plan, great, but don’t force her to watch something that she doesn’t want to. Letting her pick the movie is a great establish of adaptability.

Having an anticipate will relax you, and give you a sense of value in her eyes as a leader.

First date advice #3 Touching her.
OK she is good looking. You want to touch her, except it makes you flustered. Remember, brother, touching should be minimal, but you need to do it. apropos touchingis important to declare your interest, and set you up for more close touching if the relationship goes well. So make physical contact her the way you might touch a family member. A minor touch on the arm or elbow on a first date is appropriate- and if she is walking through the door, you may place your hand on her back to guide her. If she seems to pull away or seem annoyed pull back—- WAAAY back. We will cover why in First datetip #4.

First Date suggestion #4

We talked above about how it is your obligation to establish high worth- because women are attracted to high quality males. The other important thing to recollect is that women similarly like to feel safe and sound and secure. So that means don’t do anything disturbing, if you are can’t be funny, be interesting, and make her feel safe and secure. The second a woman doesn’t feel safe and sound and secure, is the moment at which your chances of a second date are going by the wayside. So that means you need to stay relaxed, cool, and self-assured on your first dateso that she feels free from harm and secure around you.

There are other ideas for a first date, but these are a great start. The most important thing you can bear in mindis to have things in place so you don’t have to judge about what you are supposed to do next- and also, make sure that this first date of yours isn’t the concentrate of your life- if you have a lot of fish in the nets, it is ok if one jumps out every so often!

The Author is a relationship guru, journalist, and public speaker. They have had many great teachers in life, and continues to assist people form, repair, improve, and grow relationships! They have advice about going on: a first date as well as saying Love !

Keep your Focus January 19, 2008

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
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Diversity is death… that is a saying that I heard once at a conference a few months ago. lack of Focus is dangerous… It got me to thinking about a professor I knew in Rome. I can’t remember her name (which is probably a good thing) but I knew that she taught philosophy in English to a few English speaking students in town. I never had her myself as a teacher, but met her in a coffee bar in one of the universities I attended in Rome.

I was startled to hear how badly she spoke English- I knew she taught in English, and as I tried to strike up a conversation with her, her english just seemed to get worse and worse. Her accent wasn’t quite Italian, and it wasn’t quite German, nor could you say it was Spanish or French. I couldn’t figure this lady out really, even though her blond hair gave her away as something of the Teutonic variety.

Me fail English? That’s un-possible!

I asked her if it would be better that we spoke in Italian, as I figured maybe since she lived in town, her Italian would be better than her English. Just about anything would have been better than her English. So we switched gears into Italian, and I was started to find that her Italian was just as bad as her English. Finally, we switched into some broken Spanish (my Spanish was rusty at this point) and again, I was amazed to find that I spoke better Spanish than she did!

It turns out that she spoke 8 lanuages! And none of them well! I asked where she was from and she said Germany, but that her German wasn’t even all that good. I asked her what she spoke well, and she replied that English and Italian were her two best languages. She had apparently moved around a lot as a kid, and picked up a bit of everything as she moved.

I guess we can all be like that at times- Jack of all trades, master of none. But it is an expectation in our culture that we multitask- that we keep as many plates spinning as we possibly can without letting any of them fall. And there are plenty of people who are waiting for our plates to fall! The expectation is that we are supposed to be good at everything we do- be good soccer moms and executives- be good dads and football coaches- be members of the church and work and community- have a thousand friends who we write thousands of Christmas cards to. It can be maddening I tell ya!

But I often think of that professor in Rome- she couldn’t really speak any language well, and our conversation turned into a mismash of English, Spanish, and Italian. If we lose our focus, we will certainly be destroyed, simply because we can’t keep all those plates spinning at once.

Um… what a strange passtime

I once had a similar experience- I once took 22 credit hours one semester in college- studying 3 lanuages (Latin, Greek, and Spanish) in addition to all the philosophy credits I was expected to take. I didn’t learn any of those languages well, and I would have to say that by the end of the semester it was even hard to get my English straight! (I remember my friend jabbing me with a friendly insult, and all I could do was stare at him, because no coherent English words were going to come out.)

If we lose our focus and diversify our life so much that we spread ourselves thin, all we are going to be able to do is to stare at someone when they need a response. The same is true in our professional occupation as well- McDonald’s used to have good hamburgers, until they spread out into salads and chicken and cookies and all the other things that they do. If they focused on being the number one hamburger maker, maybe it wouldn’t turn my stomach so bad when someone suggests it as a nice pit stop on a trip.

Yuck… sorry Ronald

We can simply keep pulling the lever and hope for a jackpot- the reason slot machines work is because it is hard to take three diverse things and line them up!

So the solution is that we need to streamline our lives a little- understand what is important to us so that we can be a good focused person, and help the people around us. That means saying “NO” sometimes- that means drawing and keeping our boundaries with people and with ourselves. It means cutting out the fat and not sticking too many “irons in the fire.”

There are five areas of our life that we need to maintain- Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical, Professional, and Social. Those are the five necessary components to being a happy person, and yet we have to prioritize even those areas. Setting short term easily attainable goals in each of these areas, and cutting out the fat when necessary will make us a well rounded person. Even then, there are times in which one of these will take president over the others. We have to make sure that we are maintaining a balance in all of our lives.

Think of it like food- when I get a plate of food I might have a piece of meat, a potato, and a vegitable. Rarely do I try and eat all three at once- I like to enjoy the individual flavor of each- to mix them takes away from the flavor of each part of the meal. In the end we have to know where to quit and when to say yes. I would recommend a book by Seth Godin called “The Dip.” You can find his blog here: http://www.typepad.com/t/trackback/2123/17470696

If we stop trying to spin 10 plates, it may be easier to spin 5- now we just have to decide which plates to stop from spinning.

The Big Red Button (Accepting the Consequences of our Actions, the 5th Duck) January 3, 2008

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
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Recently, that is, in the last few years, Staples, the paper and office supply company, had an advertising campaign where whenever someone pushed a big red “Easy Button,” office supplies would magically drop from the ceiling.  Whenever I see those commercials, and the big read button, I curl up into a ball and fall on the floor.  Maybe I even cry a little bit.  See, I have a thing for giant red buttons… PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). 

When I was about 12 years old, my Dad got transferred with IBM from our lush, expansive, peaceful, serene, and tranquil farm in Elida, Ohio, to the big bustling city of Dallas- Ft. Worth Texas, where IBM had its education center, and a hub for a big portion of its computer network.

I’ve Been Moved

Routinely, I would go to work with my Dad, and I would either spend hours playing with hole punches and staplers, or he would set me up at a computer where I could enter the world of computer role playing games, like Space Quest, or King’s Quest, which were popular at the time.  World of WarCraft has nothing on King’s Quest III if you ask me.

One of these times, we were in the big mainframe room at one of the centers in Irving, Texas, where the IBM education center was.  This room was expansive- so much so that if you threw a baseball, I doubt you could get it from one side of the room to the other.  OK, I can’t throw a baseball from home plate to first base, but you get the point! 

 This room was filled with huge mainframes, tape machines, terminals, and always had these gigantic air conditioners on keeping the whole place nice and cool.  My dad found me a workstation and I began to solve the puzzle which was King’s Quest IV.  I didn’t like that one because you had to be a girl, unlike the previous couple of King’s Quests, but I was content to play it anyway.

I got into the game, and began to realize that I needed to go to the bathroom.  I waited for as long as I could, and the pain told me that we had a critical situation brewing.  So I went over to my Dad and told him of my dilemma.  He pointed out that the bathrooms were around the corner outside of yonder door (pointing to yonder door).  He told me that when I wanted to get back in, I had to push the button beside the door (which was probably some kind of door bell.)

I had to go to the bathroom so badly that my brain was floating, and some of the instructions that he had given me may have been misinterpreted… so I walked over to the door and saw a button.  All I could remember was to push the button.  The button was large, and red, and had a plastic cover over it… kind of like the kind used to launch nukes in a movie.

I shrugged my shoulders and lifted the plastic cover, and pushed the big red button.  All of sudden, the lights in the big room went off, as did all the computers, as well as the air conditioners, terminals, coffee pots, Ferris wheels etc.  I had pushed the emergency cut off switch for the room.  Not only that room, but three of the buildings it was connected to.

All I remember is my Dad looking up in horror and asking me what I did. 

I still had to go to the bathroom, so my Dad walked me down to the bathroom where I stayed for the next couple of hours.  You would be surprised at how much flushing toilets can entertain you after awhile.

To this day when I see big red buttons, I feel nervous and anxious like I did that day.  Shortly after, IBM issued a memo that family members were not to be in the building.  Luckily, it was a Sunday, so it didn’t disrupt commerce too much, although several guys had to be called in to reboot the buildings I had shut down.  (Dad didn’t get fired by the way, although he came awfully close.)

Whether we mean it or not, choose or not, intend it or not, we have to learn to live with the consequences of our own actions and choices.  As creatures of free will, we are given the ability to make hundreds of big and small choices every day, one choice affecting the next.  In our culture, it is very easy to try and escape the consequences of our own choices.  That is a choice in itself, and eventually, we will have to face up, one way or another, to the choices that we have made.

It is impossible to escape consequences.  We can’t simply wait for things to work themselves out, as inactivity and indecision is itself a choice that we make.  Living with the consequences of our actions can have both positive and negative effects.  However, we are not ever bound and determined by choices we have made in the past.  That is just because we made a choice that got us here, or into a particular situation, or set of circumstances or consequences, doesn’t mean that we have to make those same decisions in the future.

Nor does it mean that we have to be determined by the consequences of other people’s actions.  What it means is that we must take responsibility for every choice we make, both good and bad, active and inactive, and work within the particular outcomes of each choice.

I didn’t mean to push the wrong button that day, but I did.  I had to accept and live with the potential consequences of that action.  I could have either faced them, or run away from them, but either way they would have caught up with me.

It is easy in our culture to try and run from consequences.  We have a lot of means at our disposal for doing that- drugs, alcohol, work, titles, uniforms, relationships.  Using these things to try and hide from consequences will only lead to more dire consequences in the future.  The key here, as I mentioned above, is acceptance.  Accepting what we have done in the past, understanding where it has brought us, and attempting to make better, more educated choices in the future.

There is a reason this is the last “duck,” that we need to put in a row- simply because it is the duck that is the culmination of the other 4 “ducks” that came before it.  If we understand our self worth, if we understand our need and fulfill our ability to love and be loved, if we defend ourselves, and deal with our own inner confusion, the consequences in every area of our life will be good, more or less.  We will be able to handle any consequence that comes along because it is itself the consequence of putting our ducks in a row.

If we don’t put those other 4 “ducks” in a row, we will have other consequences to deal with- being unhealthy- being scattered- never taking responsibility for our actions and trying to correct ourselves and stay on course.

This requires a lot of work to “keep our ducks in a row.”  Constant work, but the consequences of that work, of self examination, of proper love of self and neighbor, will itself lead us into good healthy decisions and consequences.  So what we have to do is to accept where we have been, and use it as a jumping off point for where we would like to be.

Are your ducks in a row?  Do you understand your worth?  Do you love yourself and others?  Can you defend yourself in a proper way?  Where does your inner confusion lie?  Do you accept the fact that you are where you are because of choices you have made?  I know that personally, I have only been putting my ducks in a row in the last couple of years, and it requires a lot of constant work and vigilance.  The consequences are worth it though.

Stuck in a Car Wash! (Dealing with Inner Confusion) January 1, 2008

Posted by rengawman in cars, Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy, Theology.
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Oh this is a great story…

Last year, during a cold snap in February, the roads were covered with salt, which meant my car, Lucy, was also covered in salt.  So on my way home from a friend’s house late one night I was concerned for Lucy and the many layers of salt she had on her, and before acrewing a new layer, I figured I would give her a quick run through the car wash.

Now I understand the absurdity of the idea of washing my car in below freezing temperatures, with salt coating the roads, and having to avoid the army of salt trucks I saw on the way home, but for some reason it seemed like a good idea. So I went to one of those “touchless” car wash, put my credit card in, the door opened and I pulled in, business as usual. The car wash ended and I am sure Lucy looked nice and clean. When it came time to leave, the garage door in front of me wouldn’t open, and the one I came through was closed… so basically, I was trapped. I got out and pushed the emergency release button, and the door was still shut.   Frozen solid!

I was trapped…
I was trapped… there was no door to the outside for humans either, and since I have not experienced the resurrection, and I am not GOB or David Copperfield (the fictional character nor the magician) I could not walk through the walls, and I felt a certain sense of dread come over me… Plus, inside the touchless carwash there is always water shooting from all directions, so to get out of my car was like walking through an obstacle course of water. At one point I was standing there thinking about what to do for a minute, when I realized that one of the streams of water was hitting the upper part of my right leg which I didn’t feel for about 30 seconds, as the water was also warm… I don’t have to tell you what that looked like… or felt like, as the water was very warm. Plus there was steam everywhere which fogged up my glasses. I was in a bad position. I did begin to laugh at this point, and realized how funny the situation was. THEN I moved out of the way of the stream of water. HA!!!There was also no phone number posted to call, plus it was 10:30 at night. Anyway, I walked over to the other adjoining carwash chamber (great descriptive word there) (reminds me of the carbon freezing chamber from Star Wars), and I hit the release button for the garage door and that one opened. Instantly the steam increased 3 fold as it contacted the arctic air outside, and I must have looked like an alien emerging from the belly of the space ship.

Too bad nobody was there to see it. So it’s cold wet and steamy, and my pant leg was drenched but I had my sweet freedom. Except Lucy herself was still trapped. I called a number that I finally found and left a message for “Greg.” Greg never got back to me, so I went back into the car wash, backed Lucy up to the back door, went around and bought another car wash, which opened up the back door and I backed her out into the cold, again in the midst of all is steam, Lucy emerged. Great story huh?

There were moments while I was trapped in that steamy mixture of cold air and hot water that I just didn’t know what I was going to do.  I was terrified at moments that I was going to have to spend the night in the middle of the car wash.  Did I call 911?  If I did, was it enough of an emergency and would I get in trouble?  Worse yet, would the cops get there and just laugh at me?  Talk about inner confusion!  I was at my wits end!  There were seemingly a thousand options that I could have pursued in securing my freedom, and none of them seemed adequate.  Plus, once one door opened (literally!) all the other ones in front of me were still closed.

The cops would have laughed at me…

I think this is a great analogy to how a lot of people view life.  They are in situations which baffle them- really it isn’t the situation that baffles them, rather it is their own interior confusion that makes life-situations baffling to most people.

All of us deal to some extent with inner confusion.  A lot of us like to avoid it because it makes us feel uncomfortable in our own skin.  We are sort of like that car wash in some ways- like the water that was squirting in all directions, clouding up the cold air with steam, so we are often a flurry of emotions, thoughts, fears, rationalizations, and any number of things that “fog up” our interior “lenses,” and prevent us from understanding who we really are, and what we need to do.

Inner confusion

Dealing with this confusion is a basic human need.  All of us get stuck in the car wash from time to time.  Maybe we can relate to my little foible in the car wash last year- we know we are stuck in the steam and the sprays of water, closed behind doors that won’t open due to our choices or circumstances, and we are too embarrassed or afraid to ask for help.  I was afraid to call the police to get help because I figured they would laugh at me.  Maybe some of us are ashamed about our own inner confusion and rather than seek help and be ridiculed or hurt, we prefer to spend the night in the chaos of our own “inner carwash.”

Eventually, I took the time that night to think my way out of the carwash, and if we take the time, calm down, and really begin to look at our inner confusion, both the causes and the effects, we may just figure out a way to free ourselves from the bondage of our own inner confusion.  That takes work- it also invariably requires another person, or people to help us.

The first requirement is a relationship with a Higher Power.  God made us, he can help us to figure out what is going on inside of us.  He can calm us and give us a new perspective on our own inner confusion.  Really we are wonderfully designed, and what seems like chaos to us is actually working properly.  Going back to our carwash, the streams of water, the steam, and all the other elements of the confusion car wash told me that everything was working properly!  It just seemed confusing to me!  Once I figured out the glitch, I was free in a matter of minutes.  Often what seems confusion to us is confusing because of a matter of perspective.  God has the ultimate perspective on how we are supposed to work.  Unlike “Greg” at the car wash, when we call on him he will come and help us fix the problem.  We have to call Him first though.

Second, we need a community of support.  Maybe that is family, maybe it isn’t.  Maybe it is friends or a support group.  The first step to managing the seemingly unmanageable inner confusion we all face is admitting that we might have a problem, or a glitch in the mechanism.  Once we do that we can go to people that can help us.

As I have mentioned in other blogs, you can’t see your own face without a mirror.  We need someone outside of ourselves to be vulnerable to- both human and divine, that can help us sort out our inner confusion.  This is an ongoing process if we want to be happy and free.

Of course, there are inappropriate ways to deal with inner confusion as well- avoidance behaviors that try and suppress the inner confusion we all face- Drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, or any number of things.  These things not only are ineffective against suppressing our inner confusion, they make it worse.

In the end of the day, we simply need to make sure that we are rigorously honest with ourselves, our friends who we trust, and with God.  We need to be humble enough to make that call when we need to when we are stuck in some situation, even when fear is telling us not to, or we are afraid of being hurt or made fun of.  Only then can we begin to sort out that inner confusion which at one point or another, plagues us all.

American Gladiators are Back!!!!! (The Third Duck: Defending yourself) December 28, 2007

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
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This is the third in a series about “Getting your Ducks in a Row.” 

Thank goodness for this writer’s strike, because it is bringing back one of the greatest TV shows to ever grace the screen: American Gladiators.

Back in the 80’s I remember sitting through horrible episodes of Saturday Night Live (ok they weren’t as bad as some of them now) just to watch American Gladiators.  I am not sure why the show ever went off the air, other than the fact that they messed with some of the more popular games, eliminating some of them all together, or replacing them with goofy substitutes that they thought would liven things up.  I mean, who liked that stupid swinging one anyway?  That was just dumb if you ask me.


It was a great concept- average Americans- Americans just like you or me taking on buff, steroid induced machines in some really physically challenging competitions.  Well, some of them were physically challenging anyway.  Like the Eliminator at the end of every show, or the one where they had to out-clime one of those buff Gladiators on a climbing wall.  It was great competition as the Gladiator, who was always in much better shape than the opponent scaled the wall like Spider-man to pull down his contender. 

There were games though that required almost no physical prowess whatsoever.  I can’t remember the name of it, but one of the games gave the Gladiator a high powered gun that shot tennis balls at the contender.  The contender had to hit a target just above the Gladiator’s head to win, using only tennis balls thrown by his arm. (OK he had some weapons of his own, but they never seemed to have great aim.)  The Gladiator would just sit up there and fire tennis balls at mach 5 at the contender’s head.  Now that is good TV.

Unfair advantage…

Sadly, the original Gladiators Zap, Laser, Gemini, Mitch, and Sneezy, (I may have some of those names wrong) got canceled and had to go back to working at Pay-less, as the most buff shoe salesmen ever.  They faded into obscurity, only to be seen in re-runs.

Now they are bringing back the Gladiators thanks to the writer’s strike, and the world will be a better place.  Once again we get to see average American’s get the crap beat out of them by over juiced men and women… I hope congress doesn’t ask THEM about steroid use…

Still, you have to give those average athletes credit… I would never want to go against a person who calls themselves Viper or Ice.  They often stood up against these big people and defended themselves well.  My favorite event by far was the pugel-sticks, where they stood up on big pedestals with giant cue-tips and attacked each other.  It was great.

Nobody stood there and took it though- they defended themselves, even if unsuccessfully, they still had to learn somehow along the line how to defend themselves.  This is the third “duck” in the series of 5 ducks that I mentioned in a previous post.

One of our basic human needs is to learn how to defend ourselves.  That can be hard to do- there are a lot of people that get into situations that prevent them from learning how to do this- how to defend themselves physically, emotionally, or psychologically.  It seems that they are going up against someone much more scary than any American Gladiator could ever be- be it a parent, a spouse, a family member, or even a boss.

Some people think that in order for people to love them, or in order to love someone (the second “duck”) that means that they have to let someone roll over them.  That is not the case- each one of us needs to learn how to defend ourselves, in order that we might love ourselves and others.  Being rolled over is not a loving thing to do for anyone.

Some people learn how to defend themselves inappropriately too.  Some people turn to addictions to insulate themselves from their own emotions or fears.  Drugs, alcohol, shopping, sex, food or whatever you want to put in that list (because you can be addicted to just about anything or anyone) is a quick and easy alternative to actually standing up to what we fear and defending ourselves in a healthy and appropriate way.  In the end, those quick fixes that we use for self defense end up isolating us from others and ourselves, they prevent us from loving or being loved, they add to our confusion, and diminish our self worth.

Another unhealthy way to defend ourselves is to try and control the situation- to roll over other people so that they cannot hurt us, or to try and manipulate situations so that we are always king of the mountain.  Ultimately to roll over other people to defend ourselves is also self defeating for the same reason that addictions are.  Basically, you begin to isolate yourself from other people as they come to fear you and your attitude and reactions to things. 

The King of the Mountain is always lonely

Defending ourselves does not mean to isolate with addictions, or to try and control every single situation by rolling over people.  In the end, it is more damaging to do either, and you will end up alone, fearful, and angry at the world.  I have seen it happen in people’s lives.

How do we properly defend ourselves?  I believe the key is in setting healthy boundaries and then keeping them. 

If we have someone in our lives that is toxic or dangerous to us, we have a right to set our own boundaries with that person.  That doesn’t mean imposing boundaries on them (that probably wouldn’t work anyway) but it means that if we have a toxic person in our lives, we choose when to see them or not, the setting and the circumstance.

That means that defending ourselves is to not put ourselves into a situation that we will get hurt by.  It means knowing ourselves well enough to set boundaries that are healthy, not exclusive, and it also means uttering the most difficult word: “No.”

Setting boundaries means saying no to some things.  Loving someone doesn’t mean you always say yes to every desire that they have.  Loving someone sometimes means you have to say no- it sometimes means that setting a boundary means that for their own good you have to put some distance between them and you.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them, but what it means is that you love them enough to protect both yourself and them.


You don’t even necessarily have to tell difficult people about your boundaries- it is you that has to keep them, not the other person.  That may mean removing yourself from a dangerous or abusive situation.  That may require you to ask for help in order to preserve yourself.

Really defending yourself and loving yourself aren’t too different.  It would be silly for that contender in American Gladiators to just stand there and take a beating from someone twice his size.  We, like that contender, have a right to healthy self preservation- to say no- and to make sure that we are in an environment that is happy and healthy. 

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The Real Moulin Rouge in Paris (The second duck, to love and to be loved) December 27, 2007

Posted by rengawman in humor, Humor with a point, life, travel.
Tags: , , , , , ,

A Humorous Story :

A few years ago, of of my favorite movies came to the big screen: Moulin Rouge.  Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, and even that short guy that plays the creepy clown in Spawn was in it.  Man, as if clowns weren’t creepy enough, he had to go and play an even creepier clown in that Spawn movie.  Frankly, I just find John Leguizamo creepy, whether he is dressed as a clown or not.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Moulin Rouge is about a burlesque house in Paris, France, near Mon Martres.  Mon Martres was famous, and still is, for many things, amoung the most notable are the artists.  Like many houses of ill repute, Moulin Rouge enjoyed a considerable amount of success for its time, which was about the turn of the 20th century.  The movie itself was about a particularly famous actress falling in love with a penniless writer.  There was a lot of singing involved, particularly of songs by Sting.

Anyway, I loved the movie, and around the time Moulin Rouge (the movie) was reaching the heights of its own popularity, I was taking a trip to France to see Paris.  We saw all the sites in that fair city, including the top of Mon Martres, and the glorious Sacre Coeur church that sits on top of it.  We ate a nice lunch, and saw some of the artists that hung around doing portraits of people.

Sacre Coeur, Paris

I was with my friend, lets call him Mitch (to protect the innocent).  Mitch had been having a tough week as they had lost his luggage in our trip from Rome to Paris.  All he had to wear was the clothes that he traveled in.  The airline was nice enough to give him a toothbrush though.

So Mitch and I finished lunch and looked into the guide book for the next thing to see.  It turns out that St. Ignatius of Loyola had founded the Society of Jesus on that very mountain, so we strolled down Mon Martres, faithfully following our guide book to the street where the church was built. Since we both attended a Jesuit school in Rome, we figured that we had to pay our respects. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon so it was locked.

Disappointed we looked into our guide book for something else to do, and lo and behold, the Moulin Rouge was just down the street and around the corner!  I told Mitch that we had to go since I was rather enamored by the movie Moulin Rouge, and it would be silly to miss.  He seemed hesitant.  He never told me why but I was about to find out.

Now, something should have told me this was a bad idea, but images of Nicole Kidman were dancing through my head.  That something was that two older gentlemen, dressed as two older women, were standing at the end of the street waving at us.  Their faces looked like melted candles.  I pointed at them and said to Mitch, “hey look at those two.”  They waved back, and said hello to us.  I thought it was funny.  Mitch did not. 

I think we may have seen Dame Edna- melty face

That didn’t deter me though, as we took a left at the elderly cross dressers and went further down the mountain.  My face was buried in the book trying to make sure we were going the right direction.  We got to the bottom of the hill and turned right.  Mitch immediately let out a rather loud, oh no!  I looked up, and there it was.  More neon than I had ever seen in my life: we were in the red light district of Paris.

Mitch was scared.  I was frankly scared.  I have never been in a more disturbing place in my life.  It was all around us, like we had walked through the closet in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but instead of appearing in Narnia, we appeared in a much scarier place.  Mitch told me that we should get out of here… I tried to act calm and I told him that there was a subway stop about a block ahead, conveniently placed right in front of the Moulin Rouge.

As we walked, there were people (fully clothed) standing in front of the various… establishments… trying to get us into the door.  I was trying to play it off as if it wasn’t disturbing, but Mitch wasn’t doing so well.  I said to him, “Mitch, they aren’t going to attack us!”  At that very moment, one of the door people grabbed Mitch by the arm, dragging him toward the door, and said- “You come with me sweety!”

Mitch let out a groan of terror.  I started laughing.  It was too much really.

So I fought off the door person, and we shuffled down what seemed to be the never ending block toward the Moulin Rouge.  I looked up, and there it was.  No Nicole Kidman, no Ewan McGregor- no creepy John Leguizamo.  Just a neon covered Red Windmill spinning in the afternoon sun.  It was still a burlesque house.  The guide book seemed to leave that whole part off of its description.

Mitch was ready to go, as was I.  The subway entrance was just a few feet away when I saw it- a candy stand.  I walked over and bought some gummy bears.  I got a bag full and then we got on the subway to whereever we ended up next.  I came to find Mitch wasn’t real happy with our adventure, but he eventually forgave me, as it was an honest mistake.

The Point:

There was a constant theme that went through the entire movie of Moulin Rouge- the Penniless writer, played by Ewan McGregor, came to Paris, not only to write, but to fall in love.  The constant theme throughout the movie was that there is nothing greater in this world, than to love and to be loved.  That brings us to the second duck that my spiritual director told me about last week.  It is absolutely on the money.  Of course, once Ewan McGregor expresses publicly his love for Nicole Kidman’s character, she dies of teburculosis.  I am sorry if I spoiled the ending for you… you had 7 years to watch it.

This is a fundamental human need that we have though- to love and to be loved.  Some people have a hard time with some aspects of this “duck” for various reasons. 

There are some people that are easy to love.  Some people that when we see them, it brightens our day, and it makes us feel good.  There are others, however, that are not so easy to love- sometimes it is a friend, or a co-worker, or a member of the family.  Love is not always an easy thing to do, but love is what we are made for.  As I have said in other posts, we are made in the image and likeness of God, which means that we have free will, and second, we have the ability to enter into relationships.  These culminate in love- love is the choice of willing the good of another person.

Sometimes willing the good of another person means that we have to give them up.  Sometimes it means doing something, or not doing something, that we might not want to do in order that we do what is best for our neighbor.  Love is very very difficult, but we have a need to love because it takes us out of ourselves, and is the basis for every relationship that we have, from friendship to family or even co-workers.  Love at least should be the basis for those relationships.  Love turns us away from ourselves, and improves the other person by letting them become the best that they can be.  Love hurts sometimes too- real love does, because it involved risk and sacrifice.  Risk that our gift of self may be rejected or mis-understood, and sacrifice, which is at the core of loving others- doing what is right for them and best for them, even if it is tough to do.

Believe it or not though, I believe that loving others is the harder of the two.  Accepting love is really hard for some people to do, because they don’t think they are worthy, or they have never really been loved.  Accepting love means admitting that you need love- it also involves risk- the risk of letting someone know you, and exposing what is in the deepest parts of your heart.  See, you can’t love what you don’t know, so often we reject love to protect those things in our hearts that we think are unlovable. 

This is what shame is- our whole culture is based around shame for a good part- shame is the belief that there is something unlovable about me- something we are embarrassed to show.   People who are abused often feel this- not only do they not let other people love them, but they have a hard time loving themselves.  Being loved involves even more of a risk than loving someone else, simply because in order to be loved you have to be open and honest with yourself and others in order for them to love you.

That is where God comes into the picture.  He loves us unconditionally.  There is nothing we can do to lose that lose, and nothing we need do to earn it.  God knows us better than we know ourselves, and always does what is best for us.  Sometimes that means saying no to us as well.  The key and the goal is to begin to see ourselves as God sees us- to let Him love us, so that we might imitate that toward ourselves and others.

There is no amount of shame that God cannot love away if we let Him.  Then we ourselves can be loved, and in turn, go out and love others- finding out what they need and their greatest good and willing that.  This fulfills who we are as human beings, allowing us to freely enter into a loving relationship with God, ourselves, and other human beings.

More Important than The Bible- Opinion and Truth December 21, 2007

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, life, Motivation.

I found Waldo… he is strangely alone…

Do you remember those pesky magic eye puzzles that were all the rage ten or fifteen years ago?  About the same time as we were trying to find that stupid Waldo guy (who apparently liked to hang out in large crowds… I can relate) every single mall had a kiosk where they sold these stupid magic eye puzzles.

To the naked eye, it looked like a Jackson Pollock painting- a hodgepodge (love that word) of colors sort of splattered onto a poster.  Apparently, if you stared at this thing long enough, crossed your eyes, stood on your head, and had a few drinks, the image would change and you would see a farm-scape or a sailboat, or Waldo, in 3D appear before your very eyes.  It just so happened that the next kiosk over sold little bottles of Advil and eye drops, because not only did you have a headache from staring at these stupid posters, but your eyes dried out because you had to hold them open for so long trying to figure out if it was a monkey or a baseball bat that magically appeared out of the mixture of colors and textures.  These stupid things were just as popular back then as hyper-color t-shirts.  (Yea… remember those?  If you touched them they changed color because of the heat in your hand.  Until you washed them once.  I am sure we were all poisoned by those shirts somehow.  Maybe that is how we could see that magic eye puzzle- the hyper color t-shirts were making us hallucinate.)

I have to admit trying out these magic eye puzzles myself the first time.  I walked by the kiosk and saw people just staring into the collection of various eye puzzles, and decided to join the herd.  3 hours later, I think I saw a camel in a space suit pop out in 3D.

It is the Mona Lisa… you see it don’t you?

There were always three types of people at these kiosks- the people that would walk up and look into the magic eye puzzle and instantly yell out (as if any of us cared) “I SEE IT!!  IT IS A SUNSET IN TOKYO IN JUNE!”  Others, grumbling, also loud enough for people to hear, “I just can’t see it, it is just a bunch of colors running together… I just can’t see it… are you sure that’s there?”  The third type of person was the type that felt sorry for the second type of guy who couldn’t see the dolphin jumping out of a bowl of spaghettio’s and would help out assuring the incapable person- “It’ll be alright- just relax- let your eyes cross- don’t you see the dolphin?  He’s right over there!”

This one is meaningless… they just made this one to mess with us.

I think that the most entertaining feature of the magic eye puzzle was not the magic eye puzzle itself, but watching the people stare for minutes at a time into what looked like a child’s finger painting. 

I know the feelin’ buddy.

I did eventually see the images pop out of the posters, and it was neat, but I wonder if there was anything there at all, or if I was just buying into the hype of the magic eye puzzle.  Maybe there was something there and maybe there wasn’t- was it my own perception, or was I borrowing the perception from my neighbor who gleefully “got it?”

Here is an interesting fact I heard recently- up to 90% (90%!!!!) of our perceptions are borrowed from other people.

I will let that sink in for just a minute.

It’s like Homer Simpson once said- 42% of statistics are made up on the spot, but only 12% of people know that.  Sometimes we trust in the perceptions of others more than we know.

So when it comes to a world view- a cosmology as the philosophers like to coin it, a lot of our views come from what other people have told us.  I think that is what Nietzsche was talking about when he was talking about his “will to power.”  The will to power is the ability to impose our own perception onto the people around us.  It works- just watch the news.  They are imposing their views on us all the time, and I am even tempted to believe it simply because it is easier to believe them than to do the research on my own.  I don’t have the time, the resources or the energy to do that.

Perception is a tricky thing.  As I have mentioned in past posts, there are as many perceptions as there are people- if I am looking at this chair, and so are you, we may be seeing the chair differently- I may think it is red, and you may think it is violet.  Perceptions, whether given or borrowed, are never 100% accurate.  That is where communication comes in, in order that we may cut through what is mere opinion to the objective truth underneath.  Life is constantly about that- it is a constant battle that I think a lot people really don’t engage in too well because it is a lot of work.  Rather they would just rather accept the perceptions of others- culture, media, or what have you.

The rose colored glasses of opinion.

What is more important than the chair in our above example is not the chair necessarily, but our perception and our interpretation of the chair.

In a like manner, when we talk about theology, more specifically the Bible, it really isn’t the Bible that is important these days, but it is MY personal interpretation of the Bible that is important.  You can really interpret the Bible in any way you want- a great example that I like to use is the whole slavery issue in the history of the United States- the abolishionists used the Bible to go against slavery, while the south used it to support slavery.

So when it comes down to it these days, what is more important than the Bible, or the Koran, or the Torah, or the Big Book in this culture, is our personal interpretation of the book- I can interpret those books to mean whatever I want them to mean- or whatever someone has told me to interpret them as.  In order to interpret the Bible in the proper way we would need to go back to the original intention of the author (and the Spirit that inspired that author) and begin from there for a proper and true interpretation.  Otherwise the snake handlers are just as justified to handle snakes as any of the mainstream religions.

It is a fine line between figuring out the truth and separating it from mere opinion or perception.  As I said, this is probably the work of our lives, because the intellect seeks the truth.  I do not think that there is a simple answer to this problem, as it goes back to the radical individualism of our modern western culture.  Truth is out there though, it is simply not a matter of perception, but finding the truth requires us in some sense to question the perceptions that we have, the perceptions that others have, and to find the truth that underlies it all.  That doesn’t mean that a generally accepted perception isn’t necessarily true, but we should deeply question EVERYTHING in our search for what is true and what is merely opinion.

There are two philosophers that come to mind here that I think would be important to mention.  The first is Francis Bacon, and the other is Martin Heidegger.  Both of these guys were advocates of what I am talking about- Bacon said that we have preconceived “idols” of the marketplace- accepted notions that were given to us by our upbringing and inculturation that we accept as truth.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t true, but that we need to toss them out every so often to test them to find which is true, and which is simply an “idol.”  Heidegger on the other hand advocates a similar plan- that is to “step into the clearing of being,” in other words like a forest to step into a clearing that the sun (being) is unobscured by the trees of perception and opinion.

The “clearing” of being

Only when we step into the clearing of being, and get rid of the idols of the marketplace, can we begin to compare our own and others perceptions of things- including things like religious texts like the Bible, the the truth.

I remember my first day in philosophy class ten years ago- we studied… I think it was the Phaedo by Plato (I could be wrong on the title of that one)- the whole thing centered on the difference between mere opinion and truth.  Its conclusion was that opinion can be true, but isn’t necessarily true, and it is our task- really our deepest desire- to separate opinion from what is objectively true.  That’s about as hard sometimes as seeing those pecky pictures in the magic eye posters.

At the end of the day, finding truth is sort of like picking Waldo out of one of those “Where’s Waldo” pictures.  There are a lot of things that LOOK like Waldo that are not, just like there are things that APPEAR true which are not.  We can never be content with a look a like to the truth, just like we are not done with our search until we find Waldo, or see the 3D image in the magic eye poster.

Where’s Waldo?  Where is the truth?

Thermostat in my Car December 21, 2007

Posted by rengawman in cars, Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy.
Tags: , ,

A wise man once said- “Walk right side of road, squished like grape.  Walk left side of road, squished like grape.  Walk middle of road, you safe.”  That wise man:  Mr. Myiagi from the Karate Kid series.  He could also beat up guys half his age and twice his size- AND catch flies with chopsticks.  Which go great, by the way, with a little soy sauce and Cantonese rice.

He could render a man, or a fly, unconscious in 10 seconds with those chopsticks.

 It is funny- I have never been the kind of guy to walk down the middle, although I am certainly learning.  I am a guy that if I do something, I want to do it all the way and absolutely- giving everything I am and have to a particular pursuit.  Sometimes that has worked out for me- like in school or in work, and other times it hasn’t worked out so well for me like eating that has plagued me in my past.

He even makes standing in the street look cool.

A great analogy for who I am, and I suspect who a lot of people are is the thermostat in my car.  If it is hot outside, I always put the air-conditioner on full blast, fan all the way up, knob turned all the way to the cold side of the dial.  I love getting it so cold in my car that you can see your breathe and draw things on the frosted glass of the car.  Personally, I don’t think there is anything better than getting out of a cold car into a hot day. 

Ahhh… summertime.

Once it does get too cold for the yeti (or bigfoot as he is commonly known in West Virgina, according to my friend Doug Ondeck) I don’t merely turn the thermostat down- nope, I turn the fan all the way off.  Then when it gets hot again, I turn the fan all the way on full blast.  There isn’t a lot of middle ground with me.

What the dashboard of my car looks like- it is red like Knight Rider (3rd reference)


 The same thing happens when it is cold outside.  My car, the coolest car ever in the world, has a remote starter on it.  So what I do is I start the car, making sure that the heat is all the way in the red part of the dial, and the fan is on 4.  Then I set a lump of dough on the seat, and by the time I get out there, the car is so hot it can cook the lump of dough into bread.  Who doesn’t like fresh bread on their way to work?  I know I do.  Then I usually turn the heat all the way off.  Not much middle ground there either.

OK I don’t turn up the thermostat quite this high.


I guess Mr. Myagi is right though.  I notice that I have done a lot of things like that in my life.  Some have said that it is an all or none proposition with me.  I suspect that there is a little area in everyone’s life where it is all or none, or there is a lot of excess. 

The greeks defined virtue as the golden mean- walking down the middle of the road, not too much one way, or too much to the other but virtue is found in the middle- in moderation.  That is something I am actually learning about in my life right now.  You can in fact have too much of a good thing.

I think we should take the European view of life.  If you ever eat in France you know that their portions are never big- it is just enough to get a taste, and not enough of anything to fill you up (except for that one Christmas dinner I ate there.  That is another blog).  Here in the States when you go to a restaurant the portions are so big, you usually need to get carried out on a stretcher!  Thanks a lot Cheesecake Factory!

Typical meal at the Cheesecake Factory


That is how life should be I guess.  We should try and set the dial to something that is consistent- not too hot, not too cold.

I am actually trying to do that in my life right now.  I notice that when I am in the car, the fan is on about 2 or 3 (out of 4) and the knob is set at a comfortable quarter point, never too hot or cold.  I am trying to learn how to walk down the middle of the road so I don’t get squashed like a grape.

Maybe you have something that is a little extreme in your life.  The way that we move back into the center is to do it slowly and consistently.  It is funny how when you work on one virtue, they are all connected and when you find the golden mean in one area of your life, you find it in others.

Peeking Duck- Self Worth December 21, 2007

Posted by rengawman in Humor with a point, life, Motivation, philosophy, Theology.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

As I mentioned in previous posts, actually, about 3 days ago, I mentioned my fondness for Chinese food.  Usually when I go into Chinese restaurants, the entrees that I order always have some similar elements: They are chickeny, the contain some kind of nut, and they are spicy.  Every so often though, I like to order duck, as it is a nice change of pace from my nut-chicken-spicy combo that I usually get.

The only reason I wrote that above paragraph was so that the title of this post might at least have some reference to Peking Duck, often served in Asian restaurants.  I did that so that the pun I used in the title might also have a reference.  Other than that, the above paragraph has absolutely no purpose in this blog.  Thank you for reading.

Anyway, as I mentioned yesterday, I was visiting my spiritual director from Toledo.  A great Jesuit who I got to know in Rome 7 years ago when he was the director of spiritual formation at the North American College.  When I arrived in Rome, tired, smelly from the flight, and covered in ketchup (that is another story) they shoved us into the refectory for our first Italian meal.  My now spiritual director was at my table, and was the first people I ate with in that city.  I remember him making bruschetta (pronounced Bru-sk-ett-a) out of the bread on the table when he toasted it an poured cheese and olive oil on it.  He was a good salad maker as I recall as well.  Beyond that, I really never knew him until I got a friend’s ordination a few year ago in Michigan, and he offered to be my Spiritual Director.  He has stuck with me in these last years in thick and thin- he has been a real blessing to me, and I am sure others who have struggled through the years.

I was covered in Ketchup the day I arrived in Rome… mmm … ketchup

One of the things we talked about this week was, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, getting my ducks in a row.  Those crazy ducks.

The first of the five ducks, or psychological needs that we have to wrangle up, is that of self worth.  Man have I struggled with that.  Where do we get our self worth?  How do we find it?  What are the sorts of things that prevent us from realizing our self worth?

Primarily, as I have mentioned in previous posts, we are made in the image and likeness of God, which has two implications by nature.  One is that we have free will, or we should have it, and second is that we are capable of entering into relationship with other people. (See my post on the Trinity and its interior relationship if you need material to put you to sleep).  Free will and the ability to enter into relationship culminates in love.  Love, as my director tells me, is willing the good of another.  I always say that love is a choice, not a feeling, so even if it hurts, we have to do what is the greatest good for ourselves, our communities, and our neighbors.

That being made in the image and likeness of God is what primarily gives us our self worth.  No other creature, not dogs or angels, can claim to be made in God’s image and likeness.  They cannot express free will, or enter into relationships in love the way that we can.

The problem is that we have a hard time perceiving that we are made in that image and likeness.  The primary cause of that: Sin.  Now, I am not going to go into depth here about sin, but I already have in this post here.

Sin primarily detracts from the beauty and worth of every person, not because it destroys the fact that we are in the image and likeness of God, but because it tarnishes it like a mirror can get tarnished, making it difficult to see our reflection of God’s divine nature.  When we sin, in any of the stages, our instant reaction is like the of Adam and Eve’s- we see that we are naked, and we are ashamed of ourselves, heck, we even become ashamed of the fact that we are not living up to the image and likeness of God in which we were created.  That leads us to do what they did- they cover themselves- they cover their nature.

So it is sin that detracts from us seeing our self worth- that dignity that we have been made in God’s image and likeness- each and every person.  From the greatest saint, to the greatest murderer, nothing can take that image and likeness to God away from us, but sin can make it harder for us to see.

So we are constantly having to rediscover our self worth- we really do need to have this duck in a row if we are going to get the others in line.  We want to know we are worth while, and we will, without a doubt, seek some kind of validation of that self worth, or we will try to cover it like Adam and Eve, and we will be ashamed of something that is so beuatifually created by God.

Some of the ways that we try and find validation is through relationships.  That is ok if the relationship is healthy.  Often though we seek people that we relate to, or are similar to, in order that we might validate ourselves in them.  Sometimes that means multiple marriages, sexual partners, remaining in abusive situations, or any number of things.  There are people that constantly seek the validation that only God can give to them.

There are ways of covering it up too.  People who are ashamed of themselves cannot face or accept that they are worthwhile and try to cover their nature with booze, or drugs, or shapping, eating, jobs, uniforms, or any number of potential addicitions that are out there.  We can even be addicted to people or ideologies!

In the end if we truly want to find our self worth, we have to “peek” (ahh there is my title reference) into ourselves- take the good with the bad, and see that underneith it all, we still have that beauty and that dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God, despite the fact that we are a bit tarnished at times by our choices to turn away from the inherent dignity that is in each person.

The other way to find self worth requires a bit of spirituality I think.  We need to see ourselves as God sees us.  He doesn’t require us to be handsome or smart or funny or have a great job or a great car or any number of things that give us validation in our culture.  Rather, he loves just because we exist.  Unconditionally.  Whether we love Him back or not.  That is the ultimate validation of our self worth.

Once we begin to realize that we have self worth, it directs us toward putting our second duck in a row, which I will talk about tomorrow- the need to love and to be loved.