Dadisms 2019

Dadisms 2019

Dadisms 2019

I want to start by thanking the many readers of this column who, in response to my request over the last two weeks, have sent me their favorite Dadisms. As you will see below, the collective wisdom of these fathers and grandfathers is quite expansive. 
   As much as I loved receiving the Dadisms, what I enjoyed, even more, was reading the stories that readers shared about their fathers and grandfathers. Sometimes it was a story that provided the context for the Dadism that was shared. Other times, the memory of what their fathers had said to them brought forth a flood of touching and even funny memories they wanted to share. Many thanked me for sparking their memories and the opportunity to share their stories.
   Of course, not everyone is fortunate to have had a loving father. Several readers shared that the words they most remembered their fathers sharing with them, were hurtful, and at times, even abusive. It broke my heart to read what was shared, while at the same time, I was inspired by how many wrote that they had or are currently engaging in the real work it takes to heal and transcend deep hurt from one's childhood.
   This made me aware again that words have the power to lift less the people in our lives, as well as the power to hurt them. Clearly, the quote, "People won't always remember what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel," is true both positively and negatively. Our words are that important.
   As we pause to remember our fathers, grandfathers, and the other important men in our lives this Father's Day, may we also pause to reflect on the effect that our words have on the people we love, and pledge to use words that lift up, rather than tear down. Our fathers would be proud.

Here are the Dadisms that readers shared. Enjoy. 

"And so it goes."

"You can do anything you put your mind to."

"Always treat others the way you would want to be treated, and never ever let me see or hear you treat your mother badly."

"Don't let that cut you" (He was referring to farm implements. But I came to take it as being careful in all walks of life.

"Shut the door... we're not air conditioning the outside." and "Shut the door... we're not heating the outside.”

"Whatever you do, don't ever get old."

"Life is not a spectator sport."

"All parents are amateurs."

"Never spend your money in an establishment that disrespects you."

"Just do it, get done and be through with it."

"What did your mom say?"

"Never mistreat or disrespect a woman." 

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

"The only difference between me and him is I shaved today."

"Go easy."

"Rub it off."

"I've got five million dollars upstairs" was a line my grandfather always used, whenever we would be talking about wealth.  Of course, he meant the five children he had (my dad and his siblings).

"The best way to lose friends is to borrow money from them."

"Honey, this too shall pass."

"Never turn down an interview."

"If you have to look at the prices, you shouldn't be eating there."

"You have no idea how lucky you are."

"Family first." 

"Those who speak, don't always do. Those who do, don't always speak."

"I don't understand how people cannot believe in God when they look at a sunset."

"Yesterday is a canceled check. Tomorrow a promissory note. Today is cash."  

"A short pencil is better than a long memory."

"You can always find something good to say about every person. And if you can't, you shouldn't say anything at all!"

"Use your better judgment next time."

"I'm not sleeping, I'm just resting my eyes."

"I'm very proud of all you've done but take time to have fun in life too!"

"You don't need to tell anyone how good you are. If it's true, others will know."

"Everything in moderation, including moderation!"

"A little dirt never hurt anyone."

"I think about what I have, not what I don't have."

"Attitude is everything".

"Always, remember how much I love you."

And Happy Father's Day to all the Dads who are reading this!


P.S. It's not too late to share your own Dadisms and to discuss this column. We post the Weekly Words of Wellness column on our Living Compass Facebook page each Friday morning and readers are encouraged to share their thoughts there. You can visit our Facebook page by clicking  HERE. Scroll down to find today's column and share your Dadisms and other thoughts in the comments section.  

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Sacred Spaces

Sacred Spaces

Sacred Spaces

        All religious traditions emphasize the importance of sacred spaces, places set aside as holy and used for worship, prayer, meditation, and rituals. Christians have churches, Jews have synagogues, Muslims have mosques, and Buddhists and Hindus have temples, and other religions have theirs as well.  

    Sacred spaces are not, however, limited to the places set aside by those who participate in organized religion. Most of us can probably identify several places that are sacred for us, places where we like to return to connect with the spiritual world, and that which means the most to us in life. 

    What makes a place sacred? Some of the common characteristics of such places are natural beauty, peacefulness, places made holy by the sacrifices people have made there (did you notice how often articles about D-Day this week referred to the “hallowed grounds” of the beaches of Normandy?), and places where special memories have been made—often having shared them with friends or loved ones.

   When I recently did an internet search of places people commonly hold to be sacred, I found a variety of responses. The list included theaters, art museums, libraries, colleges and universities, concert and sports venues, childhood homes and vacation spots, gardens, mountains, lakes, rivers, beaches, cottages, national parks, hiking trails, and forests. The places were as varied as the people sharing their responses.

  Sacred spaces are on my mind because I am writing this week’s column in what, for me, is such a place—Door County, Wisconsin, a peninsula found between the western shore of Lake Michigan and the eastern shore of Green Bay. The combination of water, farms, parks, nature, biking, good friends, a beautiful historic church, and the overall slower pace of life have drawn me back here year after year. My cup is filled and my soul restored each year that I am able to spend a few weeks here in the beauty it offers. Every aspect of my wellness is watered here—spiritual, relational, physical, emotional, and vocational. 

What places help you to be in touch with that which is most sacred for you?

What places water your soul and restore your well-being? 

How will you be sure to make time to visit those places this summer?  

PS: If you have never been to Door County, you can get a small glimpse of its beauty in the photo above that I took this week. It is of a sunset we enjoyed just this week, while out for an evening bike ride. 

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Honor the Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

Honor the Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

Honor the Space Between No Longer and Not Yet

     This is the time of year when it is common for me to get phone calls from parents of graduating high school seniors.  While the details are different with each of these calls, there is one common theme to them all. The parents want to know why when graduation should be such a happy occasion, they are seeing such high levels of stress in their high school senior. "One moment, my son/daughter is on top of the world, and the next they are in the depths of worry and despair. Are these mood swings normal?" I explain that what their son or daughter is experiencing is indeed normal and to be expected, and that the reason it is so is because their son or daughter is currently in a liminal space. The word liminal comes from the Latin word limens, which means "limit or threshold." Author and theologian Richard Rohr defines the liminal space that is experienced when we go through a significant transition this way, "It is when you have left, or are about to leave, the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else.  It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run...anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing." Ancient cultures referred to liminal space as a "crazy time," which seems to be exactly what the parents I spoke to on the phone this week were witnessing.

   All cultures have rites of passage ceremonies to mark liminal transitions. For example, in addition to graduations, there are rites of passages throughout our lives for weddings, funerals, quinceañeras, and baby naming or baptism ceremonies. Liminal transitions also occur in many other ways that are not always marked by official ceremonies. Starting or leaving a job, moving, retirement, beginning or ending a relationship, or a significant change in one's health are all examples of liminal transitions.

   There are two essential factors all people need when they find themselves in a liminal space: spirituality and community. These two factors will provide direction and support in the midst of this vulnerable, "crazy" time. Spirituality is what defines "true north" for us all the time, but especially in times of transition. It is what defines and grounds our core values and beliefs, and may or may not be connected to a religious faith. Community is our network of friends and family, the people we can turn to when we need support.

   This is why all rites of passage ceremonies, including graduations, involve both a time for reflection and inspiration (spirituality) and a way for the community to jointly celebrate the important life transition that is being marked. The community gathers to both celebrate and support and show commitment to the person who is crossing the critical threshold, as they move from some kind of previous "normal" to a  new and yet undefined "normal." So if you receive an invitation to a graduation party this year  know that it is actually a gathering to acknowledge a young person's passage through a liminal space, and you now know the importance of showing up and offering your encouragement and support.

   We are all wise to remember the words that are written in the photograph above, no matter what type of transition we, or someone we love, are going through: "Honor the space between no longer and not yet.”

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Our Need to Remember

Our Need to Remember

Our Need to Remember

  This past weekend my wife and I were in Washington DC leading a training for people who will be using our Living Compass wellness resources in their communities. We had limited free time, but were determined to get to one particular memorial, one that had opened since our last visit to the DC area, the World War II Memorial.  

   My father served in the Navy during World War II and at the age of twenty-one was on one of the first landing craft vehicles to land on Utah Beach on D-Day. In his later years (he died in 2011 at the age of eighty-eight) he often talked of his friends who died around him that fateful day, wondering why he had survived and had lived a long life while their lives had been cut short.

   Visiting the World War II was, not surprisingly, an emotional experience for me, as it clearly was for the others who were there. Each state has a memorial column and wreath (see the photo of the World War II Memorial with the quote above), and so we made our way to the Pennsylvania column, as my Dad had entered World War II just after graduating from high school in Pittsburgh. We had a moment of silence and prayer and gave thanks for his service, and especially remembered all of those whom he knew, along with hundreds of thousands of others who gave their lives in the service of our country during that war, and in others.  

  The same evening we visited the World War II Memorial, we also visited the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The word “memorial”  comes from the same root at the word “remember,” and the presence of these various memorials in Washington, DC speaks of our collective need as a nation to remember the formative events in our history. 

   The act of remembering is as important in each of our personal lives as it is in the history of our nation. Memory is the foundation of culture and identity, and our enhanced capacity for memory is what separates us from all other living creatures. Identity is rooted in knowing and remembering our origin and history, whether it be that of an individual, a family, an institution, a country, or a religion.  And identity and meaning are strengthened when we gather and share our stories.

   This connection between memory, identity, and meaning is the reason we as a nation will once again celebrate Memorial Day this Monday. On Memorial Day, we remember and honor those who have given their lives in service to our country, and we honor the fact that our collective identity today is rooted in their sacrifice. As Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, said, “Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.”

    While I affirm the wisdom of “living in the present moment” and not getting “stuck in the past,” I also know that we can become “stuck in the present’ when we fail to remember how much our present, our identity, and our culture are all shaped by our history. Memorial Day weekend provides us with the perfect chance to balance both the present and the past. And so as we gather for fun with friends and family, let’s also make time to remember and give thanks for those who have gone before us, shaping our lives today.

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     If you have ever been to a live orchestra performance, you know that there is always a profound pause when a performance of a musical piece concludes, just before the audience begins to applaud. The pause seems to be a collective opportunity for everyone to fully absorb the beauty they have just experienced before expressing their appreciation.

   Last week a nine-year-old boy created a magical moment at Boston Symphony Hall at the conclusion of the Handel and Haydn Society's performance of Mozart's "Masonic Funeral Music." He filled the pause at the end of the performance with a spontaneous "Wow!" that was loud enough for the 2,500 people in attendance to hear. The audience laughed in recognition of his expressing precisely what they were all feeling, and then broke out in applause.  

   This boy's "Wow!" became a viral sensation as a recording of the moment spread across social media. If you haven't heard the recording, and to get the full effect of this moment, I highly recommend you listen to at --it will just take a minute.

   This inspirational moment would have been beautiful in and of itself if that was the whole story. But it turns out there was more to the story that makes the moment even more moving.  

   The orchestra so loved the spontaneous expression of appreciation that they put requests out on social media in hopes of finding who had expressed such enthusiasm for their performance.  It was soon learned that a boy named Ronan Mattin, who had attended the concert with his grandfather, was the one who had made the exclamation of "Wow!" They also learned that what had occurred was all the more remarkable, because as the grandfather shared, Ronan is on the autism spectrum and rarely speaks. 

   My response to this story is, well....., "Wow!"  It has served as a reminder that there are moments of astonishment all around us at all times if we are willing to pay attention.

   Inspired by young Ronan Mattin, I'd like to share a few of my recent "Wow!" moments. 

   Watching my grandson learn to read. 

   Listening to a woman courageously talk about her struggles with addiction, as she seeks to recover and restart her life. 

   Awakening to the songbirds, present for just a few weeks as they migrate through our area this time of year, as they salute the early dawn. 

   Listening to a story of Vietnam Vets sharing their memories in anticipation of a traveling version of the Vietnam Wall that is coming to our community soon.

   Watching Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo as he effortlessly glides down the lane to make another seemingly impossible shot.

   How about you? What "Wow!" moments have you noticed recently? If you are like me, you may find that they are easy to miss or take for granted.

   And this is precisely why I am grateful for a nine-year-old boy's reminder not just to notice them, but to celebrate them out loud whenever and wherever possible. 

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