Tim Cusack's Blog
Tag Archives: relationships

DEATH, THE GREAT MOTIVATOR

 

Life is Short

“Some people die at age 25 & aren’t buried until 75.”  Benjamin Franklin

Are you shocked? You shouldn’t be…..for two reasons: 1.) I write about ideas like this; 2.) You ARE going to die.

Why don’t we use death more as a motivator? It’s the ultimate energizer. It’s the one thing that is for sure. You can’t rely on any other aspect of life that is a 100% guarantee beside death.

Don’t deny it. Use it to your advantage. If you believe in God, you’re good, and you ask for your sins to be forgiven, then you have heaven waiting after you die. But, once again – NO GUARANTEES you’ll get in!! Let’s say you do get the green light, and God is standing next to you watching a replay of your life. Do you think you’ll see a few missed opportunities? Could you have had more laughs, enjoyed family and friends more, played with your kids, your dog or cat, a little more? Could you have gotten a little crazier at times (not in sinful ways), just wilder. Could you have helped more people, especially those you didn’t know? God loves that!

Let’s say you don’t believe in God, and there’s no afterlife – nothing. You believe life is a one-shot deal. One and done. Painful, like March Madness. You atheists should really be living it up. I don’t mean in a nasty, mean way like robbing a bank, stealing a car, or running people over, because your one and done will be spent in prison. I mean going ballistic with adventure!

Buddhists, you get to come back.

All of us can use death as a motivator to be more spontaneous, more fabulous, more out there. To remind each other of how precious life is, we can change our parting words such as: “See you later,” or “Take care,” or “Nice seeing you.” Why don’t we enhance and motivate by reminding each other that life is short. Our parting words could be, “Remember you could be dead soon,” or “Death is forever,” or maybe “I hope you have a peaceful death.” “Thanks, good seeing you too, and thanks for the reminder.”

In the book, Tuesdays with Morrie, Morrie says, “Our Culture doesn’t encourage us to think about such things (death) until you’re about to die. We’re wrapped up in egotistical things: career, money, cars, trillions of little high-jacks. When do you take time to stand back and really look at your life? Ask – Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing? Who knows, maybe you will begin to live your life – the one you want. Maybe you’ll become happier, healthier, more…what?” Motivated.

P.S. No fish were injured or mistreated in this post.

I Dare You to Give This Gift

Sharing Love

Sharing Love

I love “Funeral Talk.”   You know, those lovely words we share about the person we care enough of to show up at their funeral and say: He was so great. She always had a smile. He was so fun to be around. She would do anything for you.

Here’s the ‘DARE’ gift – tell the person that you appreciate what they mean to you while they’re still ALIVE! Not only are you giving them a gift of purpose, meaning, and significance; you’re also incorporating what Viktor Frankl’s calls “logotherapy.”

In “Man’s search for Meaning in Life,” Viktor Frankl says, “It’s inherently human to crave knowing we’ve made a difference. By telling those in your life the difference they’ve made, you’ve fed one of the most essential needs of the human spirit.” Not only does this benefit those you share with, but you’re strengthening your own emotional capability.

A few days ago, I held the hand of my neighbor, Julie, who has been a blessing to me and my family for 17 years. I knew she was close to death, so I spoke to her from my heart. I told her, “If I straighten up my act, we’ll be neighbors again sometime.” She smiled, and left earth the next day. I’m still here with my memories, knowing I told her the difference she made in my life. I dared myself to tell her, so I could live without regrets.

Brené Brown is in the Top 10 TED talks with over 17 million hits. Why? Because Brené touches a very sensitive nerve when she broaches the topic of shame and vulnerability. She would say that we struggle with vulnerability because our shame of being vulnerable inhibits us from telling those in our life what they mean to us.

Instead, Brené says, “We numb those emotions with food, material goods, drugs – anything to avoid being emotionally vulnerable.”

So I DARE YOU this holiday season (or any season) to give a priceless gift, one of ultimate vulnerability and meaning. Tell the people in your life the difference they’ve made. Tell them their importance to you, and the role they play in your life. By doing so, you’re giving two gifts: one to them and one to yourself.

Pass this post on to someone, if you think it would help you say the words you need to say.

Renée Zellweger and Dysmorphia

old young face side by side

Last week if someone had said to you, “Go into a room of a hundred people and find Renée Zellweger.”  Could you do it?  I’m not sure I could.  The first thought I had when I saw Renée’s new look was, “That’s not her….is it?”  Then I thought, “Will she act differently?  Talk differently?  Be less pouty?”  The biggest question is why?  A personal crisis, something to do?  Or is it about holding on to youth and beauty?

These thoughts were caused by dysmorphia, a deformity or abnormality in the shape or size of a specific part of the body.  In this case her face.

What freaks me out (just a little) is knowing that her old face is still behind the new one.  Full disclosure:  I’ve fantasized about how I would change my face – nose job, eye lift and a little lip enlargement, costing roughly $30,000 worth.  I could easily change my face by driving a new car worth that much!  It would be much less painful and a lot faster, and folks could recognize ‘Tim’ driving that new car.

According to Nancy Etcoff, an evolutionary psychologist at Harvard and author of “Survival of the Prettiest,” our faces are tightly packed with important biological information.  She reports that “we are face virtuosos.  We can discern one face from thousands, even millions of other faces.”

Our relationship with others is held in the individual’s face.  Our faces communicate our tribe, our emotions, our moods, our essences.  If my wife changed her face as much as Zellweger did, I would feel like I was having an affair at first.  Eventually I would want back the person I married.  A little fixing here and there is cool – as long as I can recognize the face in a room of strangers.

“If age is denied, soul becomes lost in an inappropriate clinging to youth.” Thomas Moore

SIMPLY CARING

boys in prision

Call it a random act of kindness or helping others or making a difference – it’s all CARING.

In December 2012 at a Tim Horton’s drive-through, a customer paid the tab for the car behind in line. That act of caring started a chain reaction that lasted three hours; 226 cars paid for the car behind them. Each customer was so moved by being cared for that they, in turn, cared for someone else.

A mother who lost her 8 year-old daughter to a rare cancer in 2009, created Milan’s Miracle Fund, a nonprofit that supports research on pediatric cancer. This mother didn’t have to create a foundation. Her daughter is gone. She cares about children she doesn’t know who have cancer, as well as their families and all the people affected by their cancer.

Research shows that being witness to an act of caring is a powerful stimulant for our own health and well-being. Recently I watched an elderly woman sit for hours next to her dying friend, holding her hand, feeding her and caring for her. It’s a comforting thought to have someone willing to care for you at the end of life. We will all be there at some point.

Caring may save your life….really?

Is this ‘caring’ stuff that powerful? I interviewed young men, ages 17 to 21, who were serving two years to life in prison for having killed, robbed, led gangs, and sold drugs. During these interviews I asked, “Why did you do this?” The most common answer was “I didn’t care.” I then asked, “When did you stop caring?” The answer, “When I was no longer cared for.” (At $70.7 billion annual cost of incarceration in the U.S. – not caring adds up.)

Yes, caring could save your life. So, the next time you lend a hand, help someone out, or give your time and money, why are you doing it? Because you CARE.

Office Romance: To Do or Not To Do

Love in the Officew?

Love in the Office?

Most of you are aware of Don Draper’s (Madmen) sexual antics in the 1960’s work place. What does today’s office romance look like?

A ProVault.com study found that 40% of workers have had an office romance. A recent survey of 8000 workers by CareerBuilder.com found that 4 out of 10 employees have dated someone at work. Not fair, but women are seen in a more negative light than men when it comes to workplace romance. Often, women are seen as using an office relationship to get ahead. If you’re thinking of making moves on someone at work, here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pro: You spend time together and have common topics to talk about.

Con: An office romance can generate gossip and distrust.

Pro: Most workers indicated they do not mind seeing a romance develop between two unmarried colleagues.

Con: While workplace romances may seem harmless, they can in fact lead to serious problems, such as co-workers taking sides and an awkward work environment.

Pro: Office romances can make going to work more exciting and something to look forward to.

Con: Office romances can lead to some type of sexual harassment or accusations of sexual harassment.

Pro: It’s possible to meet your future spouse at or through work.

Con: Office romances can lead to careers being derailed as well as charges of favoritism, including overlooking shoddy work.

Our biological drives, attraction and lust can be extremely powerful and can easily overwhelm job titles, income and promotions. In the heat of the moment you may need a jolt to the rational mind like a photo of a loved one, a list of career goals or just a reminder of your credit card statement, mortgage or car loan.

Top 10 Jobs Where Workers Are Likely To Have a Fling (from the Huffington Post)

10. Planning and Expediting Clerks

9. Database Administrators

8. Food Service Managers

7. Automotive Technicians

6. Industrial Machinery Works

5. Occupational Health and Safety Specialists

4. Stock Clerks

3. Welders

2. Cooks

1. Artists (Sweet, I’m finally #1 in something!)

Two Folders

Two Folders with Two Perspectives on Life

Two Folders with Two Perspectives on Life

An observation of living life with two folders:

One folder is filled with information we’ve accumulated to navigate our intellectual and skill-based needs. This folder is filled with facts, theories and data that satisfies our need to be knowledgeable. We have multiple degrees, licenses and certifications to authenticate our ability to perform certain tasks and especially to prove to others that we’re smart. We know lots of information, and we have a bulging folder to prove it!

The other folder contains our meaning in life – all things that we hold dear and close to our hearts and souls. This folder is absent of any institutional, signed documents. It holds our emotional attachments to those we love and to those who are no longer with us. It’s filled with momentary glimpses of tears of joy and sadness. The only documentation of this emotional truth comes from within. There is no formal, external certification. It can’t be purchased, or studied, or graded.

I’ve discovered while working with hospice and those with serious unexpected health issues that the meaning folder is the only one that really matters. Some people can’t find this folder. Perhaps it didn’t seem important. Or, if they do possess it, it’s very meager.

Yet, others possess a folder overflowing with meaningful moments that have been collected, cherished and remembered…forever and ever. Amen.

May your folder of information and intellectual pursuits be filled and organized to meet your needs.

AND,

May your folder of meaning be readily available and easily found when you find yourself in need of your purpose, your greatness and the difference you make in the lives of others.

Surfing the Waves of Life

Surfing Life

Surfing Life:  Ups and Downs

We humans are mostly water. We can’t live without it. Maybe that’s why we’re drawn to it.

I’m sitting on my surfboard, legs dangling in the water. My eyes are open, looking to find the ideal, oncoming wave to ride back to shore. Every wave is unique, and we all see the them differently according to our distinct perspectives and ability to ride. Unlike other balancing activities, such as snowboarding or skateboarding, surfing is riding on liquid, ever changing, constantly evolving, unpredictable.

A lot like life.

We’re constantly looking for the next wave, evaluating, waiting for the right one, trying to predict if we’re able to ride it, stay on it. We sit, we see the wave coming….our parents aging, our kids growing up. Our jobs ending or new ones beginning. Babies born, loved ones die. Marriages, divorces, successes, failures. Our lives passing with time, rolling by.

The waves of life.

Just like surfing, we sometimes get up and successfully ride a wave of life, fully balanced. It feels so good, so fulfilling. Other times we fall, brutally pummeled by the weight and brute force of the wave. Yet, we lay our bellies back on the board and paddle out, knowing the nature of what we face is ambiguous, challenging, and unpredictable, yet worth the effort, worth the energy and strength to experience a moment of life that feels so good.

My Five Step Commencement Address for All of Us

Diplomas of Life

Diplomas of Life

I know a “commencement address” can be cliche, but if you could find space in your heart to listen to people older than you, you may discover it benefits your soul and your mind.

  1. It’s okay to STOP, and enjoy spontaneous interactions and conversations with people – totally unplanned, unrehearsed and without an agenda. These interactions are some of the most memorable and life enhancing.
  2. Don’t waste mental energy on what others think about you. Most likely no one is talking or thinking about you. People are extremely busy worrying about their own lives and drama.
  3. Try sometime to just listen to someone without judgment or opinion, with good eye contact, head nods and an occasional ‘wow’ or ‘really’ or ‘tell me more about that.” If you listen, you’ll hear the human condition.
  4. Be mindful and have fun. Enjoy each day. Enjoy eating and drinking. Enjoy exercise. Enjoy shopping or whatever it is you’re doing.
  5. It’s natural to think about death. It compels you to think about your current life, what you’re doing with it and where you are going.

Enjoy your musings and wonderment on the meaning of life. You will visit this frequently. Go forth and be good people. If I don’t see you before, I’ll see you on the other side.

Amen,
Tim

“Being considerate of others will take your children further in life than any college degree.” Marian Wright Edelman

 

GRACE TRUMPS DIRT

plant out of dirt

I know how it feels when someone says something rude, offensive or derogatory. For a few seconds you’re stunned. In those moments of being shocked by belligerent words lays an opportunity to take a breath and recall a definition of grace – “Treating people better than they deserve to be treated.”

The most common emotional reactions to verbal attacks are: anger, hate, disgust, bitterness, etc. However, with a little grace, you don’t need to go there.

We had just moved in to our new home. I was digging in the front lawn when our next door neighbor came by, looked down at my project and said, “Look at that damn dirt.” I said, “Excuse me?” She responded, “Look at that damn dirt; that dirt is no good!” In a state of awe I said, “You don’t like my dirt?” “Well, it’s no damn good,” she replied.

In my head, my inner voice was fighting over the response I would choose to answer this attack on my new expensive purchase of dirt. It was in that moment of internal conflict that it occurred to me if this woman doesn’t like my dirt, how many other things does she dislike or hate. And, if someone has lots of hate, then they probably hold lots of pain. So, I chose ‘grace.’ I said, “Well, it’s the only dirt I have. I’m stuck with it.”

As time passed, we slowly became friends with our neighbor. She was living alone. She lost her first husband and love of her life in World War II, was divorced from her second husband, and had a son in Florida. The strongest tragedy was the emotional trauma of her daughter no longer being a part of her life due to a long-ago unresolved disagreement (What would their relationship be today had grace been involved?).

Now, 17 years later, we still talk with her (she lives in Florida near her son). This winter, as she turned 93, she called and told us that we had helped her at a very difficult time in her life. It all began with ‘my damn dirt’ and ended with grace.

A personal attack is typically connected to some type of anger, pain or sorrow. A healthy response to these emotions may be some kind of grace.

You don’t know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.” Poet, Miller Williams

The Risk of Investing Emotionally

investingwithbaby

What are the close relationships in your life worth? If I offered you a hundred thousand dollars not to spend time with someone you love, would you take it? What about ten million dollars? If you answered, “yes,” good luck with your money. If “no,” well, you’ve demonstrated how important relationships are, didn’t you? To me relationships are worth so much more than any amount of money.

If I gave you ten million dollars, you would probably give a little away, spend a little and invest the rest (At least that’s what I would do!). It’s the same with how we ‘spend’ our emotion with loved ones. I love introducing close friends to other people (giving away). I ask for help from those close to me (spending). I send spontaneous emails/voice-mails/texts and give gifts…that is I try to tell those I care about what they mean to me (investing).

In this new year I suggest taking some risks with the people closest to you and growing the value of those relationships. Just like investing money, some risks work out and some don’t.

My daughter Isabel, age 17, is a high school senior looking forward to college. For the past two years, she’s spent more and more time in her bedroom, online, texting, doing homework or reading. That’s all good and normal, but it means that I see less of her. The reality is that I want to see more of her, knowing she’s moving out in a matter of months. It was hard to take the risk and speak these feelings out loud. What if my words pushed her away? I took the risk anyway, voiced my concern of the heart, and told her I miss seeing her around the house. I pointed out that she could do most of her activities in the common space with the rest of us. Since then, she has, bringing more joy to me than any amount of money ever could.

There is always risk with investing financially or emotionally. Sometimes the risk doesn’t pay off. This past year it seems I lost a friend of thirty years because I was being honest with a disappointment in our communication. The risk is always there when it come to high value items and relationships. But as the old saying goes: “It’s better to try and fail than to fail to even try.”

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Tim has launched WorkTribe Dynamics to help companies understand their employees so they can be empowered to succeed. Would you like to learn more?

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