Hosting a Dinner Party in Times of Uncertainty

dinner party

 

As I have transverse times of uncertainty – where so many things in my life felt in complete disarray & no immediate end seemed to be anywhere in sight – I have found these 3 things have always helped me pull up a seat to each new day and joyfully feast on what is served.

(1) The Guest List: You must decide and prioritize what “voices” get a seat at today’s dinner party. You cannot pull up a chair beside a chaotic blend of unfiltered opinions and expect to maintain a sense of peace about where things are heading. Opening Facebook to take in your “staying informed” scroll is like inviting a world of toddlers to your dinner party. It will leave you over informed & distracted and you can only be attentive to so many conversations in a day. The wee most vulnerable hours of the day for me are reserved for conversations and prayer with God. A Reminder to myself of the innate truths I have come to believe and discover through my faith walk. It’s like an anchor for my day rooting me to the belief that things may toss me about in the waves today but I am tethered to something bigger and need not fear. I have been adding what I hope to be helpful content to socials but I myself am not consuming the content in a mindless scroll. The important world announcements find there way to me – I do not need to go out and seek them. There are more important guest I need to seek out to be present in today. It’s time to edit the guest list and be selective over who and what voices get a seat at your table.

 

(2) Setting the Table with Gratitude. The quickest way to turn the mood of a table right side up is gratitude. Filling our heads with everything we are missing only draws attention to the black hole that is sucking all the joy out of the room. We do not know what tomorrow will bring and no guessing will change it. The only thing we have immediate control over is the minutes right in front of us. This is the perfect time to learn the daily habit  of gratitude. Centring our spirit around thankfulness invites Joy to take a seat at the table. Joy is different than happy. Joy brings a sense of peace even in times of worry or uncertainty. You can still be sad and in mourning but Joy allows you to smile amongst the tears. It’s a massively powerful guest to make room for at the daily table. Joy is best summoned with thankfulness. Not thankfulness for the ornate standout items like the centre piece in the middle of the table but when we can find thankfulness over the most simplest things like the table itself, the guests on your right and left, the clean water being served, the heated room and shelter over your head. Even thankfulness to live in a country where going bankrupt is an option!! Joy will attend any party with guests willing to submerge themselves in attentive and deliberate simple thankfulness.

(3) To Serve Not to Be Served. When you are selective in who gets a seat at the table and purposeful to set the table with gratitude inviting Joy to your daily rhythms it makes you something the world is always in need of – which is available. It means when you take a seat at the daily table you notice when your guests cups are empty and you have the presence to stand up and help fill the empty cups of your neighbours. Purpose lived out in service to the world ushers in a double portion of Joy. Instead of being inwardly consumed with all that you are missing your eyes are open to a world around you where your deliberate presence and service can make a difference. It’s much better to live a life more aware of the empty toilet paper roll in the guest bathroom rather than your own en-suite. You begin to realize there are only a handful of things in this lifetime that really matter. Your presence & service at the dinner party. Positioning your heart and soul to be present to serve rather then to be served.

It’s not an easy practise hosting a daily dinner party in the midst of uncertainty but it is worth it.  Through prayer and petition I have come to learn God is generous when we openly ask and seek for daily guidance. Everyday another table is set before us. We get to decide, are we going to pull up a seat to be served OR position our hearts and minds to be of service to the guests seated amongst us.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr

The Real Virus Behind The Toilet Paper Apocalypse

toilet

I feel like the richest man in the world.

Why?

Last week we bought the gigantic pack of toilet paper that lasts us for months at Walmart and apparently this week ushered in the toilet paper apocalypse.

However I must admit for a split second I almost got wrapped up in the panic and I know a good majority of you did too. A text from a friend with a picture of the empty toilet paper shelves at our local superstore had my mind rushing.  I had to teach a class and could not squeeze in a visit to the grocery store to grab my stash and besides it seems like it was already too late. Earlier that morning I had seen something about empty shelves in Australia and it seems like the word was out and I missed the boat.

Oh how pervasive is FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) in our current culture & how alarmingly quickly FOMO spreads and how irrational it can make us.

For all we know some very clever toilet paper marketing companies sat back and looked at the irrational media generated pandemonium surrounding the corona virus and thought – hmmmmm – how can we get in on this?

“Hey I know, grab your phones lets spread FOMO 14 times the speed of the actual virus making its tour around the world and cash in on the panic. All we have to do is capitalize on the fear and make people feel like they are missing out on something – that will ignite and spread like a wild fire.”

So they head on over to a few monster stores in their area and moved all the hoards of “more than enough” toilet paper off the shelves and starting taking pictures of the empty shelves and posting them on socials highlighted with the little scared screaming hands on it’s face emoji.

Why in an emergency would toilet paper be the item needed – we can all agree a confusing and completely irrational strategy in a “state of emergency” However people got in their cars, rushed to the stores, waited in lines, posted their pictures out of fear they were going to be left toilet paperless.

What is more pervasive, damaging, deceptive, and deadly than any virus will ever be? What lives around the corners of every minute, huddle in the motives of a good majority of our daily actions everyday?

FEAR.  It a massively powerful, irrational and often manipulated emotion & we can so easily and unconsciously turn the keys to that vehicle over to the daily headline.

So yeah let’s wash our hands “like we just finished cutting jalapeños and need to remove our contacts” but more importantly let’s examine the fear that can so mindlessly drive our daily decisions and actions. Fear can so easily make us a commodity to be sold and bought in our current culture and fear steals more lives right from under our noses every day of every year since the beginning of time. We are all guilty of being a carrier of fear. The empty toilet paper shelves are a evidence of a greater more pervasive killer that knows no borders.

“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important”

Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Learning to Cease.

cease

For the entirety of my life I have heard from people that have seen me out and about.  They all say the same thing.  “I saw you the other day.  You look like you were in a hurry.  I was trying to get your attention but you were too focused.”

Is there such a thing as being too focused?  I think the answer is yes.

We can so easily get focused on a multitude of consuming thoughts.  Our mobile natured lives have made it possible to always be connected to busy.  Any moment of any day we can be doing something in the name of “productivity” We have become accustom to an onslaught of continuous “stimulation” Even our mindless unconscious scrolling on our phones while in a line is a testimate of our addiction to activity & “noise”

Jen (my wife) and I have been working to practise Shabbat – a jewish tradition of resting on the 7th day. I love that the word literally means to cease.  We have made it our JOB to rest one day a week. For a 24 hour period we go dark on our phones.  We do not run errands, or complete  tasks around the house. We cease. We pray. We practise thankfulness. We play board games. We read. We attempt to nap. There was a magical moment when after tobogganing and watching a family movie Jen the four kids and I actually napped simultaneously (it was like a Christmas miracle seriously)

Is our Shabbat practise perfect? NO. It is actually a lot of work to learn how to rest.  I found myself reading parenting books and personal development and felt convicted that I was feeding my desire to “use the time wisely” So I decided I needed to do something I had not done in ages and read a fictional book.  In fact the book I picked up Jen had purchased for me more than 7 years ago!!!!! Jen is just as guilty and has found herself organizing her homeschool cupboard or mopping the floor or even just in conversations surrounding decisions we needed to make.  Our old habits die hard and after a weekend away to do a training and another weekend with a kids function and helping a friend we found ourselves falling back into not observing the day of rest.  Its like gravity we actively have to fight the pull back to habits we have patterned into our lives for years.

The thing I have loved about practising Shabbat is the pour over into the other 6 days of the week. We are recognizing rhythms and spaces in our day to day lives that could lend themselves to “rest” I have been slowing down my walk, lifting my head up, nodding and saying hi to strangers. I have even been consciously taking deep breathes smelling the season in the air, looking at the sky or mountain views, leaving my phone in my pocket or on my desk or in the car.  I worked really hard one day to just sit and sip my coffee at Starbucks like a weird person of the past in a land before smart phones.

The problem is our old habits are so pervasive and our culture so easily grabs a hold of us.  I caught myself this past two weeks slipping back into the HUSTLE habits.  As I passed a women on the sidewalk at lightning speed and got stopped by the changing light at the intersection I whipped out my cell phone tapped the email icon, waited for it to refresh (“any new junk mail yet?) tapped the facebook logo, hit the red notifications button, scrolled through some insta-stories – then realized the light had turned and the strolling women had past me. “Hmmm here you are again Ira.”  I said to myself. Slipped my phone into my pocket, slowed my pace and took a deep breath, glanced over and noticed the sun was shining gloriously on the mountains across the lake a block from where I was sucked back into being frantically preoccupied with productive “busy” noise.

When I got home Jen and I had been having the same thoughts, we need to prioritize and honour that day of rest.

 

Slow down and enjoy life.  It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” Eddie Cantor.

Hardwired for the BHAG : My Struggles With The Hustle

Neon Green Futuristic Twitch Banner

I know we were made to dream BIG & we are capable of doing BIG things.

Try this.

Gather a group of people and give them the task of talking about a dream vacation with all limits removed.

There are no financial barriers or restrictions.

Go anywhere.

Anytime.

With anyone.

Where are you going to go?

Who are you going to go with?

What are you going to do?

Then stand back and watch the energy and conversations in the room escalate to a fever pitch. As groups share without restrictions on what is possible the air becomes contagious. The possibilities begin to stack on top of each other. As one dream is shared another is inspired and the territory of the dreams in the room keep expanding. There is such a strong sense and sound of LIFE in a room full of people dreaming BIG.  It is the same as the energy I have felt on a flight that is heading to Hawaii as opposed to a commuter flight full of business travellers. People are just friendlier, more polite, more forgiving, more available, more present to the moment and life.

So here has been my struggle.  Boarding a daily flight to destination Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) but riding there with a commuter flight vibe.  I spent a lot of time as 2019 closed out looking back over the past year(s). The GOLD contained in looking back is you can honestly re-evaluate the emotions and mindsets that drove the past years behaviours but with distance and a lot greater perspective.

My conclusion was in 2020 I will DO LESS, so HE can MOVE more. I believe my life has been dominated by a pervasive HUSTLE and my identity can dangerously get wrapped up in my work and accomplishments. Wrestling God for the controls instead of resting in a greater all knowing scheme that my human mind cannot even begin to comprehend. For many years I have been taking on more than I was meant to bear, all while  being encouraged and applauded by the daily onslaught of our “HUSTLE while others sleep” culture.

So I started asking myself “how has that been working for me or the world at large around me?”

The answer.

It’s not.

So I am in the midst of a new season wrestling with the gravity that pulls me daily back to how I have always done things and the need for consistent reminders to do LESS.

I started this year with 3 books that say it all.

(1) Atomic Habits By James Clear all about focusing on the small daily habits that can have remarkable impact when stacked upon across a year.

(2) To Hell With The Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent and Overconnected World By Jefferson Bethke

(3) The Ruthless Elimination Of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World. By John Mark Cormer

Writing or journaling helps me organize my thoughts so as I navigate the lessons being learned I thought I would hold myself accountable to it by blogging my thoughts. I also know what connects us humans is our shared struggle and my hope is the words and lessons shared may inspire or help someone else with the same struggles.

SUBSCRIBE for future BLOGS HERE.

RE-WRITE YOUR ANTHEM

MUSICI am so thankful for music and what it does to the mind and in turn the body.  It has a way of firing us up and turning our attitudes around.  With some mighty goals set for my year ahead I know getting my head right (especially on the days that I do not feel like it) is paramount to accomplishing a goal.  I love the Jim Rohn quote

“For things to change you have to change. For things to get better you have to get better.”

Moving to a NEW point requires us to re-write and wire the anthem we play about ourselves in our head daily.  That is going to take some work, some repetition. Having a plan is not good enough (it is important) but it is not enough.  Accomplishment is reserved for those who execute the well thought out plan.  The plan may change as you go because through execution you gain wisdom and insight but no amount of thinking about it will provide the same results as DOING it!!!

When I do not feel like it I default to prayer, worship music, and high energy tunes with lyrics that reinforce the right mindset.  I may even get crazy and jump up and down and shout out loud and then use that Mel Robbins 5 second rule and count down from 5 and execute.

5…4….3…2…1… do it…get to work.

My current get your assets moving tunes to help reenforce the anthem I am declaring over the next year can be found below.

Run Run – The Rivals 

Make Way – Aloe Blacc (ego aside on this one – I want to make an IMPACT – leave a legacy)

High Hopes – Panic! At the Disco

Multiplied – NEED TO BREATH

Could Have Been Me – The Struts 

Get Your Hopes Up – Josh Baldwin

You Can’t Stop Me – Andy Mineo

What tunes are fuelling your anthem over the coming year???