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The British relay team had worked diligently honing their skills for the 2012 summer Olympics.
The four members of the team were considered some of the fastest in the world. One aspect of the relay race, the passing of the baton, had been rehearsed and rehearsed. The criticalness of the ‘pass’ could not be over emphasized. In the relay race one runner comes to the end of his/her ‘leg’ of the race and begins to run tandem with the next runner for a period of time until the baton has been passed.
It was with great anticipation as the stadium spectators stood to their feet to view this very exciting event. At the end of the first ‘leg’, there was a gasping of breath and the onlookers could not believe what had happened. The first runner failed to make a smooth transfer of the baton to the runner. The baton had been dropped and the team lost valuable time resulting in their failure to finish in a winning position. I use this illustration as a means of emphasizing what I consider to be a dropping of the baton when it comes to our society of millenniums (ages 30 and below).
In our society there are two curricula; a formal curriculum usually taught in school and a second informal curriculum taught at home. In a genderless society both parents must carry the baton, however, traditionally MOM carried the baton with the hidden curriculum. It was mom who reminded us of the basics, put your napkin in your lap, sit up straight, get your elbows off the table, don’t play with your food, don’t interrupt when someone is talking, wait to eat until everyone is seated, and so on. The big one was, wait to start eating until everyone has been seated. It’s mom who, more often than not, is the enforcer. The one who can control the situation with that ‘look.’ But most importantly it is the positive example she sets for her children that makes the difference. It is the same stuff she learned from her mother and her mother from her mother.
Our freedom seems to impede our baton passing. What ever happened to those ‘lady’ lessons that all young girls learned? Use proper table manners, sit up straight, grace with style, gentle, community minded, honest, nurturers, and my favorite, being a good cook.
When the race of those teen years is over what will your children be doing? They will be doing the things you have taught them. When they step on that college campus or in the world of work it will be the core values, i.e baton, you have taught that will guide them.
Mom, Dad, I encourage you to have a family meeting and make a list of all the things you do in your daily lives that represent social etiquette, respect and responsibility. Some will be best taught with Dad carrying the Baton. Some will be best taught with Mom carrying the baton. In any case they are the values you want your children to possess when they leave your home. Remember, the four R’s of a happy home. Rules and Regulations without Relationships lead to Rebellion. Don’t drop the baton. If the baton has been dropped, pick it up.
The garden spot was adjacent to our house and lay waiting for the magical moment when planting would start. My dad had made it clear we would begin the process on “Good Friday.” “Why Good Friday, Dad?” His reply was less than scientific and not filled with agricultural insight. “ We’ve always done it that way.” Besides, “the nights are warmer after Easter and the seeds come up quicker.” Therefore, in my bare feet holding a cloth pouch which mother had sewn and filled with seeds she had saved from the previous year’s harvest, I set about following the rows Dad had laid out by dropping the seeds at a prescribed distance, albeit …a half stride or a full stride apart. After the seeds were in place I mastered a technique whereby I could walk down the row with a foot on each side and push the dirt over the seed. It was the original ‘boot scoot and boogie.’
As a young boy I enjoyed playing in the freshly-plowed ground. You worked hard and you waited. I can vividly remember examining the plants as they brought fourth the beginnings of vegetables. Then we would wait some more. Not everything we plant comes to fruition on our timetable. And then there is the possibility, for unknown reasons, the plants don’t grow, the tomatoes don’t produce, the broccoli flowered and failed, the corn had beautiful stalks with no corn. All of these events happened and we could not do anything about it. Nature teaches us many lessons and sometimes the most valuable one is patience.
More current is the fact Ruby arrived at out house after her extended trip to South America. She left last October after storing up for the long flight. I find it interesting her global positioning system (GPS) guides her over the long trip while I get lost in Atlanta. It is probably because Ruby’s GPS was given to her by God and mine was given to me by the Ford Motor Company. Equally as significant as Ruby the humming bird’s arrival is the activity surrounding the recent bird house I placed in the backyard.
The birdhouse was primarily ornamental and was attached with a small chain and hung from a limb. It moved with the wind and at times turned complete circles. But there he was…..a beautiful blue bird sitting for a long period observing the bird house. Finally, he decided to enter the house. I waited anxiously to see if he could still fly after being in the house with its movement. But exit he did and departed. Didn’t expect to see him again. Not only did he return but he brought his wife who after careful observation entered the house. After her tour I was expecting the crew from “fixer uppers” to arrive, but apparently she decided to take it “as is.”
A flurry of activity surrounded the bird house with the two birds, who marry for life, busy carrying straw and other items constructing a nest that a graduate of Georgia Tech would be proud to claim. In short order mother was staying home and the incubation process began. Dad sat outside on guard and occasionally changed places with the expecting mother while she took a break.
God did it again it’s Spring.
I sat with amusement listening as the Superintendent of Schools presented his rationale for changing the opening time of school from 7:45a.m to 8:30 a.m. “The students are coming to school tired and lacking of sleep.” He reinforced his argument by quoting several articles which supported his argument to change the time of school opening. I had to pinch myself to be sure I was fully ‘awake’ and hearing the argument correctly.
How vivid is my memory when young boys and girls were awakened ‘by the rooster’s crow’ to tend to the farm animals and other chores on the farm before catching that early morning bus for the 8:00 opening of school. The same work habits were repeated in the afternoon. If perchance you played sports and had after school practice the entire process was extended into the late afternoon. Could it be the current generation is suffering from the lack of sleep because they are not going to bed early enough. Duh!! Or, could it be they are addicted and can’t go to sleep because they need a fix?
It is alarming when I read the growing number of youth and adults who are suffering from a obsessive compulsive disorder to the stand point of becoming addicted. A decade after smart-phones were introduced into our lives, research suggests our digital habits are triggering behavioral addictions in 40% of digital users. Digital addiction is no different from other types of addiction in that it scratches a psychological itch. It is an action you return to in the short term that you enjoy and strongly want, but diminishes your long-term well-being.
All of us have seen the full blown version of digital addiction. The constant e-mail checker who can’t engage with their family over a meal, the video game fanatic who mostly stops eating and sleeping to play for days at a time, and the constant ‘staying in touch’ provided by the Iphone crowd. The ultimate is the family or couple who go to a restaurant and never speak but spend their time on the Iphone.
Wanting feedback is what gets some people hooked. Psychologically we feel a ‘high’ when someone is interested in something we have said. Unlike heroin addicts who avoid drugs to stay clean, digital addicts can’t fully escape a wired world.
My advice to the Superintendent who wanted to start school later, at the next PTA meeting or school gathering let parents take a pledge to place all Iphones, Ipads and similar devices on the kitchen table before going to bed. Create sacred parts of the day that are screen free—start with dinnertime and expand from there. Your goal is to reach a point where you will not be craving a “digital fix.’ This is an addiction with far reaching ramifications and must be stopped
The World Wide Webb and its instant library, WEB MD and the monthly accounting of abnormalities that impact us, coupled with my love of research has made me a shade tree guru of geriatrics. Frequently I am asked if I am a medical doctor to which I reply ‘no’ . I quickly remember my mother after attending my graduation where I received my doctorate, being asked, “what kind of doctor is he?” to which she replied, “he is one that doesn’t do anything.” This being said, I find myself making inferences and observations without adequate information and even prescribing …….. However……….
It is my observation that a strange phenomenon occurs to most married couples that I have labeled ‘the wall.’ Somewhere between the child’s first tooth and the youngest daughter’s graduation they lose each other. It is like a tangled ball of string with stubborn knots. There is a slow unraveling.
Sometimes the wife lays awake at night trying to figure out who she is while the husband lays beside her snoring like a hibernating bear completely oblivious the winter of their lives is approaching. Slowly, the wall between them rises, cemented by the mortar of indifference.
Rapidly the couple try to find themselves. The wife enrolls in a course of her liking and the husband begins to have meetings with the ‘fellows.’ Inside, each is complaining about the insensitivity of the other. Each has begun to climb inside a ‘tomb’ and love begins to die.
When love dies, it is not in a moment of angry battle, nor when fiery bodies lose their heat. It lies exhausted at the bottom of a wall it could not scale.
A man was walking in a wilderness. He became lost and was unable to find his way out. Another man met him. “Sir, I am lost, can you show me the way out of this wilderness?” “No said the stranger, “I cannot show you the way out of the wilderness, but maybe if If walk with you, we can find it together.”
Recently I met a lady I had not seen in many years. Her immediate response to me was, “you haven’t changed a bit. You look just like you did the last time I saw you.” Thinking silently, I said to myself, “she has a severe problem with her eyesight!” I am old and I have numerous wrinkles on my face. However, my observation of my friend was quite different. She did not have a wrinkle on her forehead or other parts of her face. In fact she looked as if her ‘ponytail’ was too tight. I thought she looked considerably better before the obvious facelift.
In my youth, I recall the conversations of people my current age. These conversations revolved around ‘aches’ and ‘pains’ or what medications they were taking. I can vividly remember declaring that I would not go down the same conversational path. This path is a tough one not to enter. It is fraught with danger to your well being. Let me explain.
My thoughts came as a result of my background in psychology but more readily from a daily devotion as I was reading Psalm 92:14, ….”they will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh….”
As often as I can I visit my 92 year old brother who is in an independent living facility. The residents run the gamut with their daily attitudes. Many are negative and grouchy and you can become tired just being in their presence. There is another attitude within the same group that is characterized by aliveness, smiles, engaging. You immediately become energized by their presence. From these two illustrations, I readily promote an attitude of positiveness to eliminate wrinkles.
The same Psalm previously quoted also says……’proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night……..” A wonderful approach for the aging. It goes like this: I proclaim and declare I will not say anything negative today about anyone. Begin each day with this plan of action and at evening prior to going to bed review your thoughts and plan for the next day. Don’t become a recluse, stay active. Don’t shun trips, gatherings or places that you feel are for ‘older’ people. Don’t deny your age.
It is wonderful to be young, with
clear sight, acute hearing, elastic
step, pulses drumming to the march
of exhilarating health. But old age
has glories that youth cannot know. It
is a blessed old age indeed if it ends
brightly at evening time.
As a young child a myth circulated throughout the community concerning a ‘boogie man’. It seems the boogie man only made his/her entry at night and only in households where there were children. Signs of this mysterious phenomenon were cracking noises inside the house, leaves and limbs on trees close to the house and other unexplainable happenings. It appeared parents had a sixth sense and knew when the boogie man was close. Parents notified their “awake” children with a warning such as “you better go to sleep or the boogie man is going to get you.” “You better stop that noise or the boogie man is going to get you.” Many nights I would lay awake listening for this mystical thing/person. There was one thing that made me unafraid and that was the light shining underneath my doorway. As long as I could see the light I was okay and not afraid. I am told many children had to go to sleep with a light on in their room.
We have just concluded one of the greatest celebrations, i.e. Christmas, we have in our annual calendar. By now, Christmas trees have been removed, wreaths stored away and the many ornaments, including a multitude of lights, are safely in place awaiting next year’s celebration. The celebration is silent……………..we cannot let it remain silent nor can we turn off the light.
We have a current day ‘boogie man.”……… Mass shootings are no longer a rare occurrence. The relentless reporting of wide spread sexual harassment dominates the news. Atheists are hell-bent on eradicating any mention of God. Drug addiction is at epidemic proportions. The possibility of nuclear war is closer than ever. These are only the tip of the iceberg….Did someone cut the light out?
My biggest concern is a culture drifting toward darkness. Negativism abounds. if you are not sure of what I mean watch the news broadcast or other media outlets. Your psyche is filled with darkness and if your viewpoint is negative your whole body and ‘being’ will be full of darkness. Beware, it is a boogie man that will consume you and the light inside of you will become darkness. This leads to an outlook on life. If your eye is healthy (what you see and hear) your whole body will be healthy. If your eye is bad (what you see and hear) your whole body will be filled with darkness. The eye is the lamp of the body. (Matthew 6:22).
The shot had good trajectory but with a slight hook. Hitting in the fairway it rolled into the rough and high grass. My partner and I started the search, and at a distance I could see a ball. “I’ve got it,” I said with a sigh of relief. Reaching for the ball I could see inscribed on the cover was the word ‘MOJO.’ “MOJO,” I have never heard of it.” “What kind of ball is this?” “Somebody lost their MOJO.”
“Have you lost your MOJO?” Over the years I have heard the term used almost in jest. “The team has lost its Mojo.” “We need to get our mojo working together.” “Man, he has got the MOJO.” Each of these statements can be defined by whatever definition you want to give it. The dictionary defines ‘mojo’ as charm, personal magic, power that allows someone to be very effective, successful. Let’s ask the question again, “have you lost your mojo?”
For the purpose of this writing I am centering my thoughts to the older generation, usually defined as over the age of 60. I hasten to add I have never thought of myself as old. However, as I observe my fellow geriatrics I observe most of the individuals in this group have one major concern……they have lost their MOJO! Secondly, the observations do not appear to be caused by external pressures , conflicts, problems or perceived failures, but by the internal responses to these pressures. To which, I have to ask, “are we our own enemy to the aging process or losing our MOJO?”
As a student and a professional in the area of human behavior, careful consideration is given to the aging process. From this less than pure research the following recommendations are made to assist in regaining your Mojo.
Become a Whole Person: The composition of each of us is tri-dimensional in the shape of an equilateral triangle…Body, Mind, and Spirit. All three must be addressed in order to have a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Writers such as C.S. Lewis firmly believe the base of the triangle is the Spirit and the other two, body and mind, grow in direct relationship to the connectivity of the spirit. Therefore, the base of the triangle is the spiritual dimension. In Lewis’ book Mere Christianity he clearly indicates there are some issues we cannot solve in and of ourselves but require direct assistance from God. Therefore, the first recommendation in maintaining your MOJO is to have an ongoing relationship with God. The key word is relationship.
“create an atmosphere of health and wholeness in your family”
Clean Out Your Inbox: We shouldn’t feel enslaved to the desktop or smartphone notifications, and constantly checking e-mails. Our Facebook and e-mails hold messages ranging from today’s recipes to the latest football score. A clear inbox increases flexibility and allows for you to be present in the present with the ability to respond accordingly. These tools can easily cease to be tools and become addictions robbing your mental health and your MOJO.
“our growth depends not on how many experiences we devour, but how many we digest.”
Take a Staycation: We all need to look forward to something. A staycation is where you stay home but go someplace within a short distance during each day. Your spouse,or a special friend have breakfast or lunch in that cafe you always wanted to visit. Find that “Hallmark” town and just browse. Visit a historical spot or museum. If you enjoy people, as I do, sit on the park bench and “people watch.” Today get your annual calendar and set aside a series of ‘staycations’ for the coming year. You can call them MOJO days.
“The important thing is somehow to begin………”
Three resolutions to help put the MOJO back in your life. Remember, SPEND YOUR LIFE LIVING. Happy New Year!!!
Sitting atop a hill the church glistened in the sunlight. There had not been any announcement, visiting hours or other communication indicating there was to be a funeral this day. However, in the back side of the cemetery was a solitary tent with chairs as if a funeral was expected.
Long before the appointed hour cars began to arrive and arrive they did, in record numbers.
It was only a few days before when my friend had been taken to the hospital for acute heart congestion. In short time it became evident the death angel had arrived. With family gathered at the bedside quietly singing the great old gospel Amazing Grace, and as his wife kissed him, my friend slipped off into eternity. All who were present; doctors, technicians, nurses who were witnessing the scene were filled with tears and emotion.
Several weeks earlier my friend and I had breakfast together. It was here he shared his thoughts about the impending events. “Gary, I am tired.” and “I am not afraid of dying…. “I know where I am going and I look forward to it.” On this occasion, as before, he and I engaged in some deep theological and philosophical discussions. It would be the last of such discussions. I shall never forget our talk centering on what it takes to have a successful life. His comments were: “It is relatively simple with only three things God requires of us.” First, stand for what is just……always do what is right…… it is never wrong to do what is right.” Secondly, love mercy…have a forgiving spirit. Thirdly, walk humbly with God….. have fellowship with Him and one another. (Micah 6:8 paraphrased). These were the three principles that governed my friend’s everyday life.
Herbert, my friend, and I had spent our formative years in school and as teenagers worked in many differ venues together. We spent time hunting wild game and did our fair amount of ‘cruisin.’ Although time and distance separated us in our adult life, we were always able to “pick up” where we left off.
In keeping with my friend’s wishes, it was a funeral without any sermons, eulogies or speeches, just simple reflections on a life well lived. A church yard filled to overflowing with very adjective you can think of describing this giant of a man….My Friend. It is no doubt we will see each other again and pick up where we left off…….