Looking Towards the Future, While Creating it


I took this photo while attending graduate school as a single parent. As I captured the moment, I recall thinking about how big he was getting, without realizing I would one day look at this picture and see how small he really was. Persistence, perseverance, how people treat us and how we choose to respond speaks power to building character. I was laying a path, and for that I am grateful. Experience is a powerful teacher.

Looking towards the future while creating it

Temporary | What Short Term Things Have Lasting Effects?


What you seek, is seeking you. – Rumi

Temporary things: Mobile phones, the next promotion, people, expectations, certainty, uncertainty, a second, minute or hour.  Whether it is a fleeting moment we experience or an object we admire, what we think about, how we feel, or the people we interact with each day, everything is temporary. So what are the things we consider short-term, that have lasting effects?

Riding the waves of leadership by Kakie FitzsimmonsWe live in an era of distraction,  where the media is enticing us of the “need” to pursue materialistic things. Temporary, inanimate objects that we can’t take with us at the end of this life. And so, these distractions continue to build up and are eventually forgotten.  But what about the real value that comes with being fully present for the people in our lives.

So where do we look to find happiness? Sometimes we are chasing that next great thing or goal just around the corner with the mentality; “If I could just get there, life will be perfect.” But perhaps when we get there, it doesn’t have the answers we seek or we don’t feel the euphoria we believed it would provide. Kind of like the quote at the beginning of this post. The answers are not external.

I love the art of photography and have for years. There is something about stopping for a moment to capture the miracle of beauty often overlooked, and then sharing it.  The picture in this post was taken at Venice Beach in California. I love how the drops individually sparkle as the waves crashed upon the rocks along with the meditative sounds that accompany it. While many would argue this photo is temporary, others could enjoy its beauty for years. I look at it and remember the joy of the experience and creating moments with my family. Thanks for visiting my blog, feel free to leave any comments below.

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Pedestrians Designed for Walking


I love taking original photos and then using tools in Photoshop to create what I refer to as a form of Digital Impressionism. Especially when they are taken in urban settings which include the pictures in this post.

I took the first shot at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, which inspires wonder through the power of art.

The topic today is Pedestrian as in designed for walking, or walkers, which are the definitions I am using for this week’s post.
The second picture I took downtown Minneapolis during the first snow. In the distance, you can see two pedestrian footbridges of many, which connect 80 full city blocks and over 11 miles.  They are part of what many who work downtown enjoy, especial
We walk to visit people, to go shopping, to meetings and to see art
Sometimes we walk to clear our minds which often helps us find a fresh perspective
When working in urban settings, people take lunch to get out of the office, to talk, to watch or to be pedestrians
Walking is a great tool when we want to be alone with our thoughts and to think through processes
It also can be known as great cardio, depending on the pace of your gait
When was the last time you went on a walk for the sole purpose of walking, even if you didn’t want to?
Do you remember how good you felt when it was done?
If you do, please share. Perhaps leaving your comments below will motivate someone else to step out on faith.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

Waiting and Getting to the Point


I’m sitting here letting my fingers mindlessly hit the keys to help me think through the topic of this post and the accompanying photo. It may take a while to get to the point, which oddly enough, usually comes at just the right time, even when it doesn’t feel like it. We can’t quite articulate when it happens because it can leave us feeling stuck, which is never fun.

The red traffic light reflecting on the street due to rain indicates we are WAITING for something. Regardless of what we wait for, we hope the value is received (tangible or intangible) in exchange for the wait.  With the increased use of technology, we have data at our fingertips while we do some of the waiting, and it doesn’t hurt that our society is obsessed with the need to look busy. And there are different kinds of waiting depending on our mission. In the city, we wait in traffic, for elevators, in line for coffee or a meal, for a bus or a train to arrive. Another kind of waiting is when we over-complicate deciding to decide to take action on something.

Other times we may wait on more significant things to occur which we could not have predicted such as a phone call, an answer, a revelation, truth, running into or reaching out to the right person at the perfect time. Somewhere lingering, we know this waiting will validate all of the hard work we have invested because we acquired and used tools that have taught us along the way. Something just around the corner is going to come to fruition.

And after the waiting is done, we will look back and realize that it has been part of a larger plan that has needed to unfold in its own time. All we had to do is trust the process and keep pushing forward to the best of our ability.

So since we can’t always “rush” waiting, it is up to us to decide how we use our time. Waiting has a purpose, even when we hate it. It teaches us patience, reminds us of our perseverance and makes us grateful for faith in ourselves and others.

Thanks for visiting my blog, if you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment below or share it with others. Have a great week!

Perspective Around Corners


What kinds of images and emotions do corners evoke in you? They come in many shapes, sizes and with different meanings. Some of us have our own secret little corner of the world, a special place that brings peace and serenity when we think about it.

As children, we played Kings in the Corner with our grandparents. And it was there we learned that we can actually laugh and win something when we play games with other wise people, no matter how old they are.

Some kids have a designated time-out corner where they hate to go. Until later in life when they realize it was a coping mechanism that taught them the significance of stepping out or away when things feel chaotic and disorderly.

Some students may think about their study corners which could be at kitchen tables, in coffee shops or libraries.

For those who are curious explorers, a corner is an adventure just ahead of us that we can’t wait to go around and discover what is next.

To artists or architects, corners are a series of vertical lines that give texture, come together, or expand out; a room, a street, a literal or rhetorical place.

Some might argue corners are something we are backed into, as in feeling cornered with nowhere to go. Other times, corners take us around bends that result in self-reflection, letting go, learning, change, and growth.

Corners also represent places we can emerge out of or go around.  The truth is, corners have many meanings. They give us choices in more ways than we can imagine because we live in a world full of endless possibilities. Mysteries and Miracles.

Thanks for visiting my blog – can you think of other meanings about corners? Please leave a comment below. and if you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it with others.  This post was inspired by the weekly photo challenge: Corners – share a photo that plays on any of the word’s many meanings.

Unusual? or Not? You Decide: Weekly Photo Challenge


Last week the theme for the weekly photo challenge was “Unusual.” I got around to posting this theme with “unusually” late timing, but that’s okay, I’m posting it anyway. 🙂 This photo consists of brightly colored balloons at a parade. I used the “Ocean Ripple” filter effect in Photoshop to create something I think looks delightful.

I love words. The ability to choose one, think about what it means and the different ways it gets used. With this week’s theme, it occurred to me that, often, what seems unusual to one person, could be perfectly normal to someone else.

That is how it is meant to be because even in the flaws, there is detail and beauty we often overlook. Think about a world where everyone, openly and unconditionally accepted the unusual in others. How often do we intentionally seek to understand another perspective without judgment? How often do we encourage others to do the same?

Years ago I had a friend who said he believed he finally found the answer to defining ‘normal.’  “Normal is the setting on your dryer,” he would say.

Exactly…..

Something to think about.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with others. Have a great week and thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to leave a thought, question or note below.

Moving Forward, Conversations about Social Justice, Remembering #PhilandoCastile One Year Later


July 14th, 2016 the line and the wait was long to get into the doors at the Cathedral of St. Paul before the funeral of Philando Castile.  There are no words for what it was like to go in and walk past the body of this man I watched take his last breaths in real-time on the internet.

Laying someone to rest does not make the pain go away. Over the past couple of years, we continue to hear crowds chanting; “No Justice, No Peace.” But what is justice? What is it supposed to look like? If we examine the synonyms for the word, it seems to lead to more questions about what has happened. Here are a few that came to mind.

  • Is there anything fair about what happened here? No
  • Was impartiality exercised in any part of this situation? There are many who would say no
  • Did it feel like the way this played out was done objectively? There are many who would say no
  • What about principles regarding the distinction between right and wrong,  or good and bad behavior?
  • Where is the morality in all of it?
  • Are the voices of the people crying out about continued injustice we witness in our communities being heard? Most would say no

It is too much repetition, people are traumatized, and tired. Yet still, we press forward. I am passionate about service, community and social justice. In conversations, it is okay to agree to disagree on points of view, and when we engage in civil conversations, it can provide new perspectives and insights for all participating in dialogue.

Philando Castile’s death was one of many events that led to the Women’s March in February of 2017, when women all over the world came together in what could be considered the greatest movement in the history of the world to speak out about treating ALL people fairly, including:

  • Refugees
  • Undocumented workers
  • People of all faiths
  • The GLBTQ community
  • Women’s
  • Black, and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)

Building bridges, not walls pulls communities together, one person at a time, one conversation at a time. Mutual understanding can put us on the road to mutual understanding and healing. Aren’t we all better when we seek to understand, asking others to tell us more about their perspective?

In July of 2016, I wrote a post that was a poem and a prayer for Philando Castile and his family titled:

“Look Up: What Was Entrusted to you? Pay Attention.”

As a tribute, I invite you to share it with others and ask what they think about it.

Perhaps it could be a constructive tool as we continue to lift the Castile Family and others like his up in prayer.

Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

People as Transition | Social Justice and Bridging Communities One Year Later


After Philando Castile was killed in Saint Paul, Minnesota, many people were called to action because they saw no other option. It was the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Who said; “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'”

We can agree that where there is no justice, it is just us,” people coming together in a grassroots effort for a greater good, one person at a time is just part of the solution. Often, we feel a call to action, but aren’t sure where to start. Conversations can be one area of focus, but with so many varying points of view, many may not be willing to engage.

I came across a source published in The Harvard Business Review called How to Have Difficult Conversations When You Don’t Like Conflict, which seems to offer some good suggestions.

Learning how to have civil conversations when there are differing viewpoints is a step towards the call. Curiosity combined with active listening are important skills. Seeking to understand how people come to conclusions about these types of occurrences is a great start. We also have to learn to accept others where they are without casting judgment.

Imagine all the possibilities if each of us did a few things to get involved. What can you do to play your part? Below are a few examples to consider that might help pave a path forward.

Ways to support social justice initiatives in meaningful ways:
  1. Educate yourself about a specific movements, or for words you aren’t clear about
  2. Visit the Social Justice Resource Center website
  3. Community action: be a volunteer or join a nonprofit board
  4. Seek to understand. Listen to alternative points of view
  5. Visit Change.org/petitions to see if there are petitions to sign that support your principles and values
  6. Seek the information about the generational trauma that exists in the lives of the Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)  communities.
  7. Call government representatives, ask them where they stand on these issues
  8. What questions can you ask others to engage in dialogue if they are open?

No matter how big or small, these are the things that could be done collectively to make a difference. That is how we bridge communities. It’s all about fellowship and remember that we can’t do it alone. Let us forge ahead with these thoughts and continue to lift the family of #PhilandoCastile and others like his, like ours, up in prayer.

Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

Justice and”Just Us.” Remembering #PhilandoCastile


….“equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air: we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.”   -Maya Angelou

A year ago my friend, Alberto Monserrate, was continuously posting a video that I could not ignore. She called him ‘Sir’‘ while her boyfriend,  Philando Castile, was groaning and taking his last breaths. She could not console him, nor could she explain what was happening to her four-year-old daughter in the back seat. Even I could not process what I was seeing right away. But I do remember the feeling of disbelief and the questions spinning in my head.

  • How could this happen?
  • Why wasn’t someone coming to help?
  • Why was he pointing the gun in her direction?
  • Where was the compassion for this couple and their child?
  • Why was no medical assistance provided immediately?
  • Why did the police officer fire SEVEN times?
  • Where is the humanity we assume should happen in a situation like this?

No one was coming to his aid and I still can’t grasp it. I have written blog posts about unjust violence in the past. But this time, it happened so close to home in my city and presented a view that directly has an impact on me and my family in ways I can’t even begin to explain.  

BlackLivesMatterPhilandoCastile

To honor the memory of Philando Castile, my next few blog posts will have pictures I took during the two weeks following his death, where many came together to bridge the injustice that could not be ignored or understood. 

People felt called to action and gathered to mourn, grieve, and to try to make sense of what happened. Incidents like this have occurred for a long time, with dialogue has been circulating for years in Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities. What is new is technology provides the tools to film and be streamed to social media.

How many more times will we see this repeated in the media before action is taken? The idea of brushing it under the rug with the hope it will go away is no longer an option. We should cease the antiquated idea; “If we don’t name it, it can’t exist.” Uncomfortable conversations about the “undiscussables” are necessary to move towards healing.

It won’t feel normal at first. Practicing a new narrative until it feels familiar will mean being open to controversy without defensiveness. Everyone matters and has a voice. At the end of the day, people want to feel seen, heard, regardless of their perspective.

There can be beauty when we agree to disagree without being combative because when different ideas come together, it creates new knowledge, and that is a good thing.

Here are ways to support social justice initiatives in meaningful ways:
  1. Educate yourself about a specific movements, or for words you aren’t clear about
  2. Community action: be a volunteer or join a nonprofit board
  3. Seek to understand. Listen to alternative points of view
  4. Visit Change.org/petitions to see if there are petitions to sign that support your principles and values
  5. Seek the information about the generational trauma that exists in the lives of the Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)  communities.

It starts with one individual, because community is at the core of how we come together. Let’s remember that as we continue to lift our families, communities and other families who face social injustice up in spirit and prayer.

Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

Expressing a Reflective Shine


This week over at the Daily Post, Nancy Thanki begins by asking: “Have you ever walked past something bright that caught your eye, but when you turn around, there’s seemingly nothing there?” The theme for this Photo Challenge is Shine.” This past week, I was blessed to share another very special sunset with my family. Nancy’s post caused me to reflect, and realize that sometimes the shine we walk past without shine-in-moments-with-familynoticing, is present moments spent with those we love.

The phrase; “be where you are” is a simple reminder that one of the greatest treasures we can give others and ourselves, is the grace of being fully present together. “Be where you are;” is an expression worth repeating in writing, out loud, in prayer and meditation, to ourselves and others. We live in a culture of instant gratification. It is easy to get caught up in believing we have to be constantly moving, thinking or talking. Give yourself permission to be immersed in silence. It is okay to slow down, just roll with it and see where it takes you.

Nancy ends her post by asking “Has the sunshine or any other light source caused you to stop because it’s highlighting something you didn’t notice before?”  As I look back at this photo, I’m grateful for that moment, the people in my life and this moment.

How about you? What is your shine? Let’s keep this conversation going, if you enjoyed it, share it with others. Please leave a comment or thought below and thank you for visiting my blog.

Look Up: What Was Entrusted To You? Pay Attention


Philando Castile The System Is Broken
This blog post was inspired by “The Weekly Photo Challenge
Look up and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted?” -Jeremiah 3.2
A Prayer and a Poem for #PhilandoCastile & Family

Look up and notice

with open minds and open hearts
Put yourself in the shoes of an opposing view
Pay attention and listen to those sharing their reality
They have something to say. Their experiences are real.
Their voices matter. They are suffering in despair
They deserve to feel heard. To be heard.

Are you listening?

Because when someone says “I am hurting
The only appropriate response is; “Tell me more, I am listening
Be patient; consider that the first story may not be the whole picture
Be open to new information, in a world full of endless possibilities
These things together will expand minds, hearts and our world

Look up and look around

We continue to see repeated patterns we know exist
Minimizing them torments our intelligence
The idea “if we don’t name it, it can’t exist” is excruciating denial
Inaction leaves us feeling stuck in perpetual wait
What are these patterns trying to tell us?
They are saying that idly standing by is no longer enough
They are directing us to take a stand and to do something
They are making it clear that we have so much more to learn from one another
When different views come together, they merge to create new knowledge, and that is a good thing. I have never known a time when we didn’t need ideas to continue to evolve

Entrust: to give someone the responsibility of doing something or of caring for someone or something  (Merriam-Webster)

  • Police officers are given the responsibility of protecting people, property and the law
  • Humanity is given the responsibility of being kind and compassionate to one another

Look Up2Lookup:  Today, Philando Castile, who was killed last week in Minnesota by a police officer, will be laid to rest.

Castile is not the first and sadly, will not be the last. The greater good in society happens as we work towards coming together and leaving our differences behind.

Pray for these families, because they are our families. Our families are hurting.

Pray for parents of young black men and women, who are faced with presenting a complex yet balanced view about systemic injustice, because the dialogue can be confusing for many. May they be given the words to adequately conduct constructive discourse in a loving manner so that it leads all of us towards the right solution, together. It is time to set our differences aside because we owe it to ourselves, and one another.

I want to hear from you. Thank you for visiting my blog, please feel free to leave a comment below, or, if you prefer to ask some questions confidentially, let me know and I will be happy to respect your privacy and respond one to one.

Sparkles, S’mores and Land that I Love | Happy 4th of July


Smores Fourth of July NostalgiaI love the Fourth of July (or Fourch of Guly as I said when I was little), it makes me feel a bit nostalgic. One of my first 4th of July parades I remember being sad because I wasn’t fast enough at getting candy and I’m sure there were one or two thoughtful kids & parents who saw that and walked over to make sure I had some. Then there was the first parade I was in with my sister where we both wore costumes and tap shoes from dance lessons. My mom told us to march holding our batons with one hand lifting them straight up and down with each step and of course, we thought it was a great idea.

As we grew older, we were blessed enough to spend the first two weeks of July up north with my dad and dear friends at Crane Lake in Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian Border. The only way to get to the cabin was by boat. Imagine hauling 3-5 adults, 5-7 kids and a dog, 2 weeks worth of food, clothing and fresh water for drinking. Sometimes it would take 2-3 trips and the boat would be so heavy the waterline was about a foot below the top. While we did have a short wave radio to hear the closest weather reports and listen to the international time, we did not have phones or television and we actually learned to appreciate that.

It was there we explored the chain of lakes where water is so clear you can look 15+ feet straight down and see the bottom. We learned how to water ski, responsibly shoot guns at targets, become great fishers and use a filet knife to clean and prepare our catch. At night, my dad would bring Crane Lakeout his guitar and we sang songs together around the fire, roasted marshmallows for S’mores and later hear the cracking and snapping of the fresh burning wood. Some evenings we would go out “on the rock” and enjoy the sunset, seen in the picture to the right. I would close my eyes and take in the fresh smell of the Norway Pine trees and burning fire. I would listen to the water lapping up on the shore, loons, seagulls or a boat humming in the distance. It was heaven on earth.

After fourth of July celebrations in the small town across the water, we would take the boat to the middle of the lake, cut the engine, watch the fireworks and have rich conversations about freedom, life or whatever was on our minds. It was there we discovered breathtaking views where stars are so clear you could see them sparkle right down to the horizon. In a good year, we could see the northern lights dance, displaying colors of green, blue and red.

I’m grateful for the people and all of those memories we created together. It shaped me in growing a deeper appreciation for this land where we live. Today, I think about so many people around the world who don’t have the same choices we do. At the same time,  we can not forget those who have gone before us and those still fighting for our freedom because they have laid much of the groundwork for us.

I also will not forget that there is still more work that needs to be done.

Regardless, I celebrate the fact that we are so fortunate to be citizens in a country where we have the freedom to express ourselves, choose to practice our faith, celebrate diversity, practice servant leadership,  be educated and to make a difference in the lives of others.

Wishing you a very happy Fourth of July. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about how this day has shaped you. Please share below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Time: Stop, Travel, Escape, Feel, Release | Weekly Photo Challenge



|  How to stop time:  kiss.  |  How to travel in time:  read.  

|  How to escape time:  music.  |  How to feel time:  write.

| How to release time:  breathe.


 MATT HAIG; REASONS TO STAY ALIVE

 How to stop time: Kiss

AKiss

anotherkiss copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to travel in time: Read

A-book_edited-1

READ

 

 

How to escape time: Music

piano2_edited-1

Dance

Piano2.1

 

 

 

 

 

How to feel time: Write

Write_edited-1

How to release time: Breathe

Breathe copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post was inspired by Lignum Graco who asks us to show him time as part of The Weekly Photo Challenge over at The Daily Post. Please feel free to leave any comments below and thanks for visiting my blog!

Circles of Meaning


Once in a while, I like participating in the “Weekly Photo Challenge” over at The Daily Post. A new meme comes out each Friday and I think about the proposed topic. I wonder what I could say about it and what my readers will be interested in as well. This week, Cheri asks us to let a shape, a circle, inspire us.

Circles Change Management Business TimeI took this picture at the James J. Hill Business Library because it had a certain old world charm that grabbed my attention. I like the concept of time as it relates to the evolution of knowledge throughout the ages.

Circles have been used metaphorically since the beginning of history. In many cultures, they represent unity, enlightenment, divinity, and protection. At first glance, a circle can seem simple, yet they are one of the most common and universal signs used throughout the history of the world.

Circles have symbolic use in divinity: For example, with Taoism, the Yin Circles of Concern Influence Change ControlYang image embodies two forces in the universe that are opposites that balance one another. Hinduism uses the Dharma Chakra to represent the wheel of law that leads to enlightenment. Artists have used halos in Christianity and Buddhism to symbolize light and holiness. Paganism circles exemplified supernatural forces, and in ancient times Celtics stood inside of circles for protection. Read more of this post

Interpretations for Gathering


GatheringOver at The Daily Post, the theme for this week’s weekly photo challenge is posed by Krista, who asks us to document a gathering and share our interpretation of it.

Consider the different ways we can think about the word; Gathering as in material things we can see and touch. Gathering as in knowledge or information we get from various sources. Gathering as in symbolic ritual like celebrations or at places of worship. Gathering as in shared experiences like school plays or concerts. Gathering as in complex systems, where everything is related to everything else. Many may argue that there are interdependencies and that we can’t refer to one type of gathering without taking into account all the others.

Regardless of the kind of “gathering” we refer to, each person gets to decide which definition (singularly and collectively) is the most important to them.

In life, we gather things that we don’t get to take with us when we leave this world.

At work, we gather reports and data. We gather at meetings or to network.

In change management, gatherings are significant because they are considered as a type of symbolic ritual that can help bring a group of people together and move them through transition, from one stage to another.

In communities, we gather to celebrate, to educate, to worship, to grieve, and to share experiences.

Mentally we gather knowledge and information.

Emotionally we gather our thoughts.

At home, we gather as families to make sense of this world. We come together to teach, learn, share, grieve, grow, pray, laugh and to love. We create memories and meaningful experiences that leave legacies.

Do your organizations use the concept of “gathering” as a symbolic tool to move people through change? My wish for you; may your gatherings bring significance to whatever is important in your personal and professional lives.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for visiting my blog!