Saturday, December 31, 2011

Predicting 2012

Are you frightened? Have you heard about the predictions for 2012?  Some folks believe a non-technical Y2K kind of world-wide event will occur this year. If you remember Y2K, the transition from 1999 to 2000, caused quite a stir among companies and agencies. Businesses launched expensive efforts to ensure that computer systems continued to function properly with the new year’s arrival.  IT experts feared computers would incorrectly interpret the switchover from ’99 to ’00 and wreak havoc with our financial investments, systems and operations. Nothing catastrophic happened back then, but now here we go again with new predictions for the coming year.    
It’s a little different this time. According to certain people and the ancient Mayans, a change is on the agenda for 2012. Actually, before we attribute the scare to the Mayans, let’s review how they’re connected to the hype. It seems that a part of the Mayan culture’s calendar, which covers over five thousand years, ends at 2012. So, some people think that this ending signifies the end of time and our planet’s demise. Is there a leap in logic here? Has this ever happened to you? After working for long periods of time on a colossal project, at a certain point, you just want it to end. Here’s my take: The Mayans grew bored with calendar-making, they put an easier system in place and moved on to completing their pyramids, or some other fascinating project. Like kids with toys at Christmas, when the fun ends, it's time to move on. Apparently everyone has an opinion about 2012. Listen to a more serious comment on the 2012 hullabaloo: 
I guess we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens this year. Maybe there won’t be a catastrophic earthquake or a planet crashing into earth, but I know someone will graduate, get married, find a job, start a family, start a business, travel or create a new invention.  What are your public or personal predictions for 2012?                        

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's the Small Stuff?

As I sat at a stop light on a multi-lane road, the light changed from red to green. A millisecond later, one driver beeped the car horn. Was that for me? What’d I do wrong? That’s what I would have thought years ago when I first started driving. Back then a parallel parking spot used to send me hunting for a “regular” space. Okay, it still does. But the point is now, with years of experience under my belt, whenever I hear a car horn beep while I’m driving, I think, “Hold your horses. You should’ve left home earlier!”   
If you talk with anyone sixty years and older, I believe they’ll tell you that the things they worried about decades ago pale in comparison to the issues that occupy their thoughts today. It’s interesting how knowledge and experience change our perspectives. Sometimes it’s a matter of focusing on the big picture.
One of our kids chose to replicate Neptune for a science project, and I learned that it’s approximately seventeen times the earth’s mass. I’m always fascinated by the solar system and our position in it. We always seem to discover something new things in space. This video provides us with a fresh perspective on life and our universe:

If you’re feeling insignificant, be encouraged! Despite the minuscule blip of space we occupy in the universe, we still have big jobs to tackle, like creating lasting legacies through parenting, teaching and role modeling. As you pass on the wisdom you’ve learned over the years, what small stuff would you advise a young adult not to sweat?        

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Gift of Giving

I enjoy hearing about the charitable giving that happens during this time of the year. Up north, a man decided to give away hundreds of dollars to various individuals he met on the street; one mother of six children received six hundred dollars.  Another news story told how several people put solid gold bars and diamond rings in the Salvation Army buckets. Don’t we all feel more charitable at Christmas? Watch this little boy get into the spirit of giving:

Ooops, I hope that wasn’t a tear-jerker for you—it was for me. I remember seeing scenes similar to that while riding through Mexico on a bus tour to the ancient ruins and the beach. We didn’t stop—poverty wasn’t on the agenda that day.  I’m not suggesting that we give away all of our Christmas gifts, we can plan to do that next year.  I am suggesting that we play Santa. Small gestures don’t go unnoticed. How about paying the toll for the person behind you or tipping the harried waiter who didn’t serve your food, but dealt with a demanding customer? I know you’ll think up some really special ways to play Santa this season. Share with us what you would like to do.          

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Behold The Past

During this time of the year we become nostalgic about past Christmases. We fondly recall our favorite gift and reminisce over the wonderful hours spent with friends and family.
Years ago, I taught a teen class. The lesson focused on living each moment to the fullest. We talked about how older adults sometimes idealize their high school memories and behave as though the best years have passed. I wonder at what point those adults concluded that their high school years were the best ones. Was it after family responsibilities piled up? In light of a job and bill-paying, I can understand why your high school experience might very well seem like paradise.
As a child, while playing school, I wrote in red crayon on our yellow dining room wallpaper while correcting an imaginary student’s class paper. It was an accident but back then, as I stared at that red mark I remember thinking, “If only I could go back in time…” I felt the weighty truth of how some mistakes cannot be undone and how time marches forward, no turning back. Fortunately, I managed to get off with a stern warning. We can’t change the past, but our tomorrows are a different story. Check out this inspiring video about a man who has plans for the future:

Now there’s a story that might cause us to ponder the possibility of time travel. Be careful going under the sink. 
If you could travel back in time, which wonderful moment would you (re-)celebrate?                      

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Real Deal

Have you noticed how people and situations seem normal and ordinary at first glance? People mosey about their daily activities, kids go to school and parents go to work. But upon closer examination, you’ll find that everything is not as it appears.
Watch how things unfold. Every so often packages show up at your door only to be whisked away from the light of day and tucked into a nook or cranny. Look around. You may find a box or two stuffed in a rarely used closet, under a bed or stashed in the basement. Day by day the house percolates with more and more packages, shopping bags, wrapping paper and ribbons, (don’t forget tape) all in preparation for Christmas.
Just prior to roasting and hosting for holiday gatherings, we go public by adorning our homes with decorations, inside and out. Suddenly, there’s an explosion of color: twinkling lights, glimmering candles and a beautiful tree placed just right. If you’re not in the holiday mood, you will be after hearing the carols play over and over and over. When a smile plays at the corner of your mouth—you’ve caught the Christmas spirit!
Since the kids in our family are older, they understand the real deal about Santa. You know, the inside scoop about how ordinary men wear the red outfit, listen to gift requests and shake the donation bell—Santa can’t be everywhere at once.    
How do store managers decide which candidates will make good Santas? Do managers ask to hear a ho, ho, ho or do candidates take personality tests? On the surface many Santas look the part, but somehow I doubt store management expected this riveting performance.

Wow. No one expects a boogie-woogie Santa. He must be an impersonator. I’m sure you’ve experienced your share of fakes and phonies and can spot something genuine when you see it. What’s authentic? Who or what is the real deal?