The Fortuitous Life of Chance

A dog found with his mouth taped shut has officially made his debut as a deputy for a Florida Sheriff’s Office.

Chance, a Florida Cur who was found wandering with his mouth taped shut, made his first appearance Saturday as a deputy for the Lee County Sheriff’s Office during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new roller skating center in Fort Meyers.

“Deputy Chance accompanied Sheriff Carmine Marceno and spent the early part of Saturday greeting friends in attendance,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.

From there, Chance went to a teen driver challenge being hosted by the sheriff’s office.

“When asked to describe his first day on duty, Deputy Chance stated, ‘ruff,’” the sheriff’s office said.

The Sheriff’s Office said Chance is serving as a “Pets on Patrol Spokes-dog” for the agency’s Community Relations Bureau when he’s not residing at home with his “official” adopted parents.

Next Time Someone Asks Why Police Need a Chaplain?


Most people that those involved in law enforcement have very unique demands placed upon them.  Officers endure a physically strenuous job, not found in the everyday workplace. Mentally, the job is difficult in the vast amount of pain, hurt, immorality, and violence that officers deal with on a daily basis.  

Between divorce rates, officer deaths, and the longevity of officers, the statistics can paint a bleak picture of a profession whose main goal is to provide peace.  

A law enforcement chaplain has the opportunity to provide a context in which officers can cope with the distinctive aspects of the job they feel that they are called to.  

Whether paid or voluntary, a well-trained chaplain can have a profound impact on the longevity of officers’ careers and the quality of their personal relationships.  Just as an officer is sworn to serve the community, a chaplain’s goal is to serve the officers, staff and community that they represent.  

Here are six specific ways a chaplain can benefit your department, by allowing those who protect and serve the community to be served as well.

Ministry of Presence

Having the presence of the chaplain around the department gives a context for trust to be developed.  Chaplains regularly visit the department for personal contact with law enforcement personnel and staff.  The chaplain can also be present by sitting in on role calls and taking part in training exercises.  One of my first memories as a chaplain was watching a fellow chaplain play the “hostage” during some SWAT training exercises.  This allowed him to not only serve the team practically, but also to build trusting relationships and establish credibility.

Counseling

It seems when officers are at their best, they are seeing the worst in humanity.  Unfortunately, the reality is that close personal relationships of officers can suffer because of the resulting stress. As trust is built between chaplains and officers, opportunities will arise to provide counseling.  These opportunities can happen very intentionally when an officer might come to a chaplain for personal counseling or help in a certain area of life. But, it can also happen very naturally in a squad car, at the gym, or sitting in the patrol room between shifts.  Having someone who is trained to listen well can be an invaluable tool in helping officers debrief, and process the things that they come across in their day-to-day work.

Emergency Services

When emergencies arise, countless opportunities are available for the chaplain to serve.  Whether it’s arriving at the scene of an accident and helping to re-direct traffic or providing pastoral care in intense situations, the chaplain can be an extra set of hands that can help support many different roles. Helping officers when fatalities occur can also be a tremendous service to the department. 

When officers have to make notification to a family that a loved one has died, having a chaplain present affords the family an additional level of care that sometimes officers aren’t equipped for.  The chaplain can stay and pray with the family and offer counsel as to how to proceed with the various steps needed in dealing with funeral homes, churches, etc. These are services most officers simply do not have the time to offer and having a compassionate and knowledgeable chaplain can greatly help a grieving family through the initial steps of dealing with that trauma. Additionally, it can relieve the officer’s burden of “wishing he/she could do more.” This is one role that departments will find indispensable once they see the support it brings to their officers and the people of their community.

Religious Services

If a department is interested or open to having faith-related activities, then chaplains can help to provide a context for those to take place.  Chaplains can conduct worship services and bible studies as needed.  They can also offer invocations and benedictions at academy graduations, memorial services, award ceremonies, and also other civic or social events as they are requested. If your department operates a jail, then a chaplain has an additional realm of influence.  Often, inmates will request time with a chaplain for counseling.  Also, a chaplain can be the liaison and coordinator for other faith organizations that want to perform services in the jail. 

Wedding / Funerals

Occasionally, the chaplain is asked to perform weddings and funerals by the officers and their families.  This is due, in large part, because often the chaplain is the only minister with whom law enforcement can relate.  As opportunities arise, the chaplain responds to the needs of the department as an opportunity for ministry and witness.

Specialized Training

Chaplains participate in basic law enforcement training.  Whether it’s training for departmental procedures, weapons training, or patrol stops, chaplains can take in training alongside their officers.  Chaplains can sometimes even become training resource for personnel in the department.  A great example of this is a chaplain-led training specifically for spouses of incoming rookie officers.  This training helps identify the unique aspects of the job their significant other is embarking on and offers tools and insight as to what to expect going into this profession.

Freedom from Fear and Regret

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves…regret for the past and fear of the future.”  ~ Fulton Ourslear

When the end of life comes we will not regret the business deals that didn’t work out, sales that weren’t made, or final exams we didn’t ace.  We will regret the squandered opportunities.  We will suffer the most from our failure to devote enough time to our loved ones.  We will regret our lack of attention to a skinned knee.  We will long to have the moment back when our words of criticism bruised a heart.

I have found that healing begins when we take action here and now. The way to eliminate regrets from the past and to dispel the fear of the future is to fully evaluate what really matters and pay attention to it. We will put an end to the endless repetition of mistakes by unshackling ourselves from the past and freeing ourselves from the future.  We can start by putting first things first. 

The present moment is when to make that extra effort. All we have to do is more fully avail ourselves to those important people in our lives.  Another phone call, a written card, or any added gesture that proclaims our love will wash away fear and regret as we go forward.  By making time and freely giving our gifts of love, we will discover that our resources are unlimited.  This is the next right thing to do.  Nothing is more important.

Power Words: Finding Your Credo

CREDO:  a sentence or two that conveys the operating principle that guides your daily life.


Working with members of the law enforcement community, Author Rabbi Cary Friedman and Phillip LeConte, co-founder of the Police Chaplain Project created THE CREDO PROJECT, special educational initiative dedicated unlocking the power of CREDO in daily life.

Why CREDO?

  • We believe that writing a personal credo can have enormous implications for members of the law enforcement community. We believe the simple act of writing down the thing you live by, can give it power, the kind that will profoundly impact the way you live each day.

SOME TIPS

Your CREDO should contain actionable behaviors, not fancy words, not beliefs. This is about what you do each day.

  • Take some time to reflect before you commit pen to paper.
  • Keep it real. Make it your own.

Download the Guide Below to get started.

http://chaplainusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/writing-Your-CREDO.pdf

Understanding & Taking Action

Life’s journey is full of fantastic and memorable moments as well as hardship, and frustrations. Often we feel unable to see where our next step should be. We may be facing challenges and issues, which appear to be overwhelming and where we are unable to see a solution.  The solution is to become a person of action.

Here is the method of ACTION that I have been using in practice and in lectures since 1990. This powerful little presentation has several videos.  It should easily take up a full 50 minute class period.

For Student Resource Officers; Helping Students Discover Strengths of Character which Lead to Real Action

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.” ~ Richard Bach (Author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull)

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a story of Action.  It is a little book for everyone who yearns to fly higher and is determined not to scuffle along following the footsteps of others. It is about the courage to follow your own heart.

Jonathan is tired of the boring life in his sea-gull clan. So he begins to experiment with new, always more daring flying techniques. He finds that Action is different than acting.  The ways of his flock which seem so dull are not for him.  Since he doesn’t fit in, the elders banish him from the clan. So he sets out to discover the world beyond the horizon in a quest for wisdom.

Like Jonathan, if we are to live fully, we must resolve to find our own passions and choose follow them every day.  This is what Real Action is all about.

Becoming a Person of ACTION

“What will you do to change the world for the better today?” ~ Eunice Shriver

This question was posed by the parents of Maria Shriver and her four siblings at the breakfast table every morning.  Each of the kids had to have an answer to the question and each of them was expected to explain how they carried out their mission at the dinner table that night.  What a tall order.  Of course, the result was that all five children grew up to be people of Action.  They are admired for their dedication and continual contributions to our country and our world.  Wouldn’t you like to become a person of Real Action too?

Here is an acronym that could help you to become that person of Real Action who lives up to his or her potential and makes a difference in the world.  I hope that it guides you as you grow toward who it is you dream of becoming.

A ~ Affirmation.  An affirmation opens the door. It’s a beginning point on the path to change. Fundamentally, you’re saying to your subconscious mind: “I am taking responsibility. I am aware that there is something I can do to change.” When I talk about doing affirmations, I mean consciously choosing words that will either help eliminate something from your life or help create something new in your life. There is a great book called Affirmations: Words with PowerIt is well worth a read.   How do affirmations work?

  • They motivate.
  • They keep the mind focused on the goal.
  • They influence the subconscious mind and activate its powers.
  • They change the way you think and behave, and this can bring you into contact with new people, who can help you with your goals.

Positive affirmation statements make you feel positive, energetic and active, and therefore, put you in a better position to transform your inner and external worlds.  Here are some examples:

  1. I am loved.
  2. I listen to my heart.
  3. I am safe.
  4. I have lots of friends who love me.
  5. My dreams are coming true.
  6. I am helpful.
  7. I am friendly.
  8. Every problem has an answer.
  9. I am kind.

The idea of affirmation is to choose to think positive and happy thoughts.  If you are to become a person of Action you must make this choice.  Nobody can do it for you.  Your life won’t turn around overnight, but if you’re consistent and make the choice on a daily basis to think thoughts that make you feel good, you’ll definitely make positive changes in every area of your life.

Affirmation cannot be selfish.  It requires that you pass it on by addressing the good things that you see in another person.  It is much more than a compliment which says something nice about the outsides of a person.  Affirmation is the process of addressing the insides of someone.  We are talking about changing the way that we see someone and offering this perspective to the other.  (Example: A compliment says something like…”You did a great job at the swim meet” an affirmation says “You really are a star!”)

C ~ Courageous Compassion.

In the face of cruelty, we will choose compassion

Action requires courage.  But courage alone is not enough.  I have found that Courage, Compassion, and Persistence cannot be separated. For when these three team up something amazing will always follow. They are at the foundation of a fearless heart.

So what does that all mean.  Simply, courageous courage is a special inner strength that motivates you to help others despite the consequences. Dr. Michele Borba, Educational Psychologist, explains this in her book, UnSelfie, Why Empathic Kids Succeed In Our All-About-Me World.  Courageous Compassionate kids have good morals and will always take the risk of standing up for what is right.  She says, “Morally courageous teens are true UnSelfies: quiet, unsung heroes who don’t expect accolades and trophies, but act on their concern for others out of beliefs.”

Dr. Susan David gives a great TED talk about emotional courage (or courageous compassion).

People who are courageously compassionate are kind…even towards people who hurt them…for it is so much easier to inflict anger and judgment than to stop and consider what might be causing the harmful actions and behaviors of others.  Martin Luther King, Jr. once told us, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This is compassion.  This is courage.  This is the spirit we want to embody.  When young people are persistent in their courage and compassion, they will empower other teens.  You can build a world through the action of your compassionate courage in which you can thrive.

T ~ Trustworthiness.

“The highest levels of influence are reached when generosity and trustworthiness surround your behavior.”  ~ Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Being trustworthy is the third character asset of Real Action. Trustworthy people keep their word and honor their commitments. It feels great when somebody says “I trust you.” Have you ever thought about how you get someone’s trust? You can’t just tell them you are trustworthy. Trust is earned one trustworthy deed at a time, but it can be lost very quickly.

Trustworthiness means:

  • Being reliable by doing what you say you’ll do
  • Doing the next right thing by living up to your values
  • Being loyal by sticking with your friends
  • Being honest by telling the truth even if no one else is doing it
  • Not deceiving, cheating or stealing

This quality of trustworthiness is complicated but it is essential to meaningful relationships, long-lasting friendships, and successful associations in school and in the workplace.  Spend some time thinking about how trust is earned and why it is so important and then write a paragraph about one of these questions:

  • How do you know when you can trust someone?
  • What part does trust play in your relationships with your friends and family? How would these relationships be affected if you found out someone was lying to you?
  • Can you imagine starting a friendship with someone you didn’t trust? What would that be like?
  • What are the benefits of being a trustworthy person? How do you benefit from the trustworthiness of others?
  • What does trusting somebody mean?
  • What do you look for in someone so you know you can trust him/her?
  • What makes a person trustworthy?

Becoming a person of Real Action requires that you become trustworthy and stay trustworthy.  If people don’t trust us, nothing we do will be respected.

I ~ Involvement.

“You were saved not by work, but for work. Do it till all is done. By your Inventions, Innovations, Initiatives, Improvements, Involvements, Imaginations, Information, Interventions and Inspirations… Go the extra mile and dare to do it.”  ~ Israelmore Ayivor

The way to become a person of Real Action is to jump in and get involved in something you think might be important in your community.  Being involved in the will help you become independent, develop new skills, and will really help others too.

Here are 10 easy ways to volunteer without making any long-term commitments from TeenLife:

  1. Search your closet to find items in good condition that you’ve outgrown or don’t wear anymore. Take them to your local GoodwillSalvation Army, or shelter. It’s also work a call to schools and shelters in your area—most plan several clothing drives throughout the year.
  2. Pick up some non-perishables to donate to your local food bank.
  3. Certain shelters, fire departments, and foster parent organizations, alongside organizations like Fashion Delivers, welcome new or slightly used toys and stuffed animals. Whether you have a horde of Beanie Babies collecting dust in your closet, or you have some spare time to pick a bundle up, this is a quick and easy way to spread a little joy.
  4. Buy some prints from a local nonprofitthat empowers young artists. Your room looks great; teens in your community get to develop their talents. A true win-win.
  5. For your next birthday, ask that people give donations to a charity of your choice instead of gifts. When you drop off the donations, ask about volunteer opportunities.
  6. Send a package or cards to deployed troops, veterans, wounded soldiers or first-responders through organizations like the NROTCor Project Gratitude.
  7. Create or join a campaign through DoSomething.org. You can choose the cause, the amount of time you have available and the type of service in which you want to participate (donations, face-to-face, events, taking a stand, etc.). For example, you can work to stop friends from texting and driving; raise awareness about domestic violence; or create activity books for children in hospitals. DoSomething is a great way to volunteer on your own schedule, at your own pace, and flex your creative muscles while you’re at it.
  8. Collect children’s books and other reading materials for shelters, libraries and schools, then ask if they need volunteer readers.
  9. You know how everyone always says “write a letter to your senator?” Write a letter to your senator. Find out when your senators or representatives are holding public meetings; attend them. It’s one of the easiest ways to make sure the issues you care about get to the ears of the people who can fix them. If this develops into a passion, consider attending a social justice summer programthat shows you how to add power to advocacy.
  10. Offer to rake leaves, shovel the driveway, or do housework for someone in need. It sounds a little Norman Rockwell, but it’s a great way to volunteer without even leaving your block. And people, it turns out, are pretty interesting! You might discover something fascinating about your neighbor or unearth a network of connections that was quite literally just around the corner.

Nothing is going to happen unless you make it happen.  Make some time and get involved.  Start today.

O ~ Optimism and Owning Your Victories.

“Look for small victories and build on that. Each small victory, even if it is just getting up five minutes earlier, gives you confidence. You realize that these little victories make you feel great, and you keep going.” ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger 

You can only be effective as a person of Real Action if you give yourself proper credit.  This requires a sense of optimism that comes from owning your victories.  Every time you make progress toward your goal the building blocks for success are being laid.  Understanding that each step forward should be recognized is essential.  You need to recognize your strengths and contributions…otherwise you are missing the whole point.

You can give yourself more energy and increase your passion if you pat yourself on the back once in a while.  Remember the commercial about the kid who thought he could be the greatest hitter in the world? His optimism led him to ACTION.  This is the big idea.  Never let the heaviness of a task in front of you weigh you down.  You can do it.

Optimism is the conviction that things will work out well in the end. This character trait is the touchstone of resilience and is essential if you want to succeed.  The world needs more optimists. And people who are optimists have better lives. Research shows that people who believe they are going to succeed (optimists) are in fact more able to do so. They are less likely to get depressed, get fewer illnesses, have longer relationships, and live longer.

Optimists see opportunity in unlikely places. Without a dose of optimism, we’d never try anything new, and our lives would remain forever stuck in the same place.

Here are 5 ways for you to become more of an optimist.

  1. Before You Go to Sleep at Night, Think About What Things Went Well During the Day. That pesky little voice who lives in our subconscious minds will go over the last thoughts we had before going to sleep.  This inspires our dreams and even influences how we think and feel when we wake up in the morning. So spend a few minutes reviewing everything that went right for you that day. What did you enjoy? What felt affirming? This habit will help you program positive thoughts and images into your minds for the night. You might even have a better sleep and awake more ready to face the day.
  2. Start Every New Day by Focusing on Your Goals and Positive Expectations. As soon as you wake up, start thinking about what you want to accomplish with the expectation that it will actually happen. Visualize your goals.  Think about yourself at the end of the day having achieved everything on your list and more. Spend a couple of minutes repeating long-term goals to yourself.  You are on the way to accomplishing your mission and your purpose in life right now.
  3. Practice Gratitude. The most successful optimists never forget what they have to be thankful for. While striving to reach our goals and achieve more, it’s important to feel grateful for what we have in the present. I keep a gratitude notebook where I record at least 10 things that I’m grateful for. It helps me keep positive and gives me comfort knowing that I have a wonderful foundation to build on every day–no matter what happens.
  4. Always Look for Solutions First. Every time a problem shows up we have a choice to make. Where are we going to focus our thoughts and efforts? Optimists don’t waste time looking for people to blame or worrying about the details of the problem or the issue. They just start hunting for solutions.
  5. Surround Yourself with Optimists. Optimistic people don’t have the time to hang out with negative people. Those people zap our energy. It’s like being around Eeyore.  Find positive-minded, motivated people to be with. Bounce ideas off one another. You’ll soon find out that optimists attract other optimists.  These are the people who will offer you support and encouragement which will boost your own optimism.

Owning your victories and being an optimist will help make you a person of Real Action.  It allows us to believe that the future will be better than the past. We will look forward to what’s coming next with excitement and anticipation.

N ~ No Negative Thinking.

We just covered owning your victories and optimism.  But the ‘N’ in ACTION is just as important.  All of us have negative and self-defeating thoughts.  They bring us down and clip our wings making it impossible to soar to new heights! The truth is that we just do not have time for this thinking and self-talk. Very little good can happen when we are sitting in a mud puddle.

Here is a cool little poem by Walter Wintle that always helps me put negative thoughts in perspective:

“If you think you are beaten, you are

If you think you dare not, you don’t,

If you like to win, but you think you can’t

It is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost

For out of the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will

It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before

You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or late the man who wins

Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”

The problem with self-talk is that when you hear it, you act as if it were true. The best way to get rid of negative thinking and negative self-though is to confront it.  A great way to do that is with a three step process called NED… Notice it, Externalize it, and Dispute it (NED). You can teach yourself  the NED process:

Notice Negative self-talk. The first thing you have to do is realize that you are putting yourself down or telling yourself you can’t.  One thing I do when I notice I’m doing it is to playfully wag my finger at it in my brain.

Externalize it. Treat it as if it were said by an external person whose mission in life is to make you miserable. (Some kids actually call him by the name NED.)

Dispute it in the same way you would an external person. We generally have the skill of disputing other people when they make false accusations, and we can learn to do so with ourselves as well.

Tony Teegarden has shared a video in which he shows how to get rid of negative self-talk once and for all with a simple question to ask yourself, “Would you talk that way to a five-year-old?”  Not a bad approach to adopt for any of us.

So, stop beating yourself up.  Get rid of negative thinking.  Get busy with positive Real Action.

Conclusion

We are living in a world where inaction and passive action are ruling the day for lots of people.  Folks are huddled around screens and staying inside now more than ever.  Let’s all take the Jonathan Livingston Seagull challenge.  Let’s never be satisfied with what the flock is doing.  Let’s become people who soar.  Let’s become people of Real Action.

What Makes You Unique; Creating Six-Word Memoirs

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Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only six words. His response was this;

“For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”

Back in November 2006, SMITH Magazine asked readers to send in their own Six-Word Memoirs. They were meant to be short life stories which would be shared in the publication.  So many people responded that the Six-Word Memoir project formed and grew wings.  Stories have ranged from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”).

The Six-Word Memoir project has become a global phenomenon and a bestselling book series. Six-Word Memoirs have been featured in hundreds of media outlets from NPR to The New Yorker and covered on tens of thousands of blogs.  Hundreds of thousands of people have shared their own short life story as well as in classrooms, churches, and at live Six-Word “slams” across the world.

I have used the Six-Word Memoir project in counseling groups and as an interactive presentation for over a decade.  Initially, I used it as an icebreaker but soon it became a powerful tool to inspire and encourage conversations which get to the bottom of how kids (and adults for that matter) are experiencing their lives.  They disclose in six words what might have been impossible otherwise.

Larry Smith recently published a book called Things Don’t Have to be Complicated: Illustrated Six-Word Memoirs by Students Making Sense of the World, published with TED Books, a division of the TED Conference.  It would be a great resource for any School Resource Officer who will be making presentations to student groups (both small and large).

Kind of Group:            Experiential

Group Size:                 4 to Classroom Size

Purpose of Group:     Team building; Community building; Relationship building; Developing individual insight;

This is how it works:

  1. Write your own Six-Word Memoir or story on the black board or white board.
  2. When the kids have settled in, read the words to them and ask what they might think the story means.
  3. Ask the group this question; “Can you tell your life story in six words?” Provide examples of memoirs. Some people ask the kids to add drawings to illustrate them.

Other examples are:

  • Not quite what I was planning
  • My life made my therapist laugh
  • The psychic said I’d be richer
  • Bad brakes discovered at high speeds
  • My happily ever after is now
  1. Ask the kids to create their own Six-Word Memoir. Allow about ten minutes.  They can sign their names or leave the work anonymous. Some folks have kids make a Six-Word YouTube video.
  • Your Life. Six Words.

    Six Word Memoirs written by my seventh grade students at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Middle School during my student teaching experience.

 Steps to writing a Six-Word Memoir (Student Directions)

  1. Instruct the kids saying: “To narrow down your memoir to six words…start with many”
  2. Start with a list. Take three minutes to write as many words as you can about yourself.  List things you like, things you think and things you feel. Don’t worry about spelling. Don’t erase or cross out.  Go for quantity. Just write. (examples; friend, happy, silly, hip-hop, sleepy, bored, band nerd, jock, secrets, girls, girls, girls, dinosaurs…)
  3. Now circle two or three words that stand out for you.  The ones you could say more about. (example from the list; silly, bored, girls)
  4. Pick one of the three and freewrite about it. In other words, just start writing about it…Whatever comes to your mind.  Don’t stop writing for about two minutes. (an example of freewrite; “I love to get silly and make people laugh.  Sometimes I do it in class and get in trouble but I don’t care. One time I fell out of my seat when I tipped it backward and hit my head on Gina’s desk.  Everyone went hysterical.  I could be a comedian.  It makes people like me”.
  5. Simplify and synthesize the Freewrite. (example from above; My topic is “silly”.  My idea is “Being silly makes me happy and popular no matter what the consequences are”).
  6. Develop my Six-Word Memoir: “Silliness is crazy. Love me yet?”
  7. Now ask if anyone wants to share their memoir.
  8. Process and seek feedback from the group on any of the shared memoirs with their permission
  9. Congratulate the kids on their work and collect the papers completed by students. Then pick three or more of the collected memoirs and read them. If they have been signed ask the student for permission to read before doing so. Process as in step 6.
  10. Close the group by offering to meet with anyone who wants to talk about their memoir. Lighten the mood with a Six-Word Closing like;
  • This was cool. See ya later
  • Be a star. You already shine

There is a lot that can be done with the memoirs you will collect.  By all means keep them. One thing is certain.  Everyone will have been uplifted and will have gained some insight.

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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Life Is A Banquet

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“In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” ~ Gordon B. Hinckley

The warm showers and new life offered up to us from Mother Earth, provided by a loving God, are reason enough to celebrate.  We take ourselves way, way, way too seriously.  There is joy and humor to be found all around us, yet so often we trudge along with heavy hearts, one-track minds and narrowed tunnel vision.  We are so darned self-absorbed and preoccupied that we miss the whole thing.  Political correctness stifles the laugh that stirs in our bellies.  We fret excessively about offending…or being inappropriate. 

Springtime reminds us to begin anew, to put aside our old worn out worry, hurry and hate that we drag around from the winter chill.  There is plenty enough time to pick it back up if we so desire.  Now is the time for merriment.

The thought of former Chicago Cubs third baseman, Ron Santo pops into my head when I think about finding joy in every moment.  Here was a guy with every reason in the world to be a martyr and carry resentment.  He had juvenile diabetes and it was the serious kind.  There was never a doubt that the progression of the disease would take him out one day.  Despite the gloomy prognosis, he played the game of baseball with a flourish.  He was known for jumping up in the air and clicking his heels at Wrigley displaying his great exuberance for life.

“Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death. Live! Live! Live!” ~ Auntie Mame (1958) with Rosalind Russell

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He found delight and humor in the Curse of The Cubs when a black cat circled him on third base one day in 1969.  He was funny, charming and delightful as the WGN announcer despite losing both of his legs later in life.  Ronny taught us that we all have trouble and afflictions…but that we should never let them get us down.  Nobody ever deserved being in the Baseball Hall of Fame more than Ron Santo.

We have more than enough reason to have LOTS of fun despite our hard times.  Let go and have a good belly laugh today!  Life is too short to be glum.

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Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

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Mindfulness For Everyday Peace; How meditation, prayer and contemplation are shaping our world

by Robert Kenneth Jones

The practice of Mindfulness is moving the nation along a path to gentle revolution. 

I recently watched the 2017 documentary ‘Mindfulness Goes Mainstream’ from PBS and learned that the transformative influence of mindfulness along with Centering Prayer, yoga and other disciplined practices is spreading throughout our country. This has been brewing for a long time but is now emerging as a proven way for relieving stress, offering tools for pain management and providing techniques for increasing focus while improving productivity.

Mindfulness has been embraced by America’s biggest corporations, the Armed Services, police departments, and our school systems.  Evidence-based studies conclude that it is having a positive effect on personal health. It should be no surprise that these methods once limited to Eastern religions and old hippies are now being embraced by millions of ordinary people who are trying to survive an increasingly complex and hectic world.

So what is mindfulness anyway?

My personal experiences with it have led me to the following explanation; Mindfulness is a psychological state of heightened moment-to-moment awareness through specific practices and disciplines such as meditation and contemplative prayer.  It is about achieving a state of mind that is centered in the present and devoid of judgment (the past) and worry (the future).

Most of us begin to feel like we are spending our whole lives trying to get by. This realization seeps into consciousness somewhere around age 40.  You start to develop uneasiness about the secret desperation that you have been hiding for so long. The things that were so important yesterday seem shallow and meaningless today.  You look fine on the outside but are crumbling on the inside.  You just know there has to be a better way to live more fully. This is when turning to mindfulness is so useful. Andy Puddicombe, the co-founder of Headspace, a digital health platform, describes the transformative power of doing just that by devoting only ten minutes a day simply by being mindful and experiencing the present moment.

Mindfulness in the Workplace

Corporations such as General Mills, Aetna, Target and Google are using mindfulness to improve innovative thinking, communication skills and more appropriate reactions to stress.  They have built extensive programs to foster mindful practices among employees and have seen benefits and improvements in employee health, productivity and job satisfaction. Leadership courses have been developed which use mindfulness as the touchstone of success.

Mindfulness in the Military

The United States Marines are embracing mindfulness and report remarkable results. Marines who took an eight-week course in the basics of mindfulness recovered from stress faster following an intense training session that replicated battlefield conditions. Four platoons underwent the standard training regimen to prepare for combat. Members of the other four additionally received eight weeks of mindfulness-based mind fitness training. This consisted of 20 hours of classroom time plus homework: Participants were asked to complete “at least 30 minutes of daily mindfulness and self-regulation exercises.”

The Marines were assessed at the beginning and end of the eight-week program, and again a week or so later after they completed a highly stressful, day-long training exercise at a special facility designed to replicate combat conditions. This training required them to respond to an enemy ambush.

Afterward, 54 Marines who had undergone mindfulness training and 53 who did not undergo a series of medical tests. They revealed that the heart and breathing rates of the mindful Marines returned to normal faster than those of the control group members. Brain scans on a subset of 40 Marines also found differences between the two groups. Focusing on several parts of the brain implicated in cognitive control and emotion regulation, the researchers found exposure to emotional faces produced less activation. There is a reason to believe that this method of strengthening mental and emotional resilience will even reduce to incidence of PTSD for veterans.

Mindfulness in the Law Enforcement

Law enforcement officers and first responders have been engaging in mindfulness programs and practices for about ten years.  In a pilot study conducted by Oregon police officer Richard Goerling and Michael Christopher of Pacific University, officers who learned mindfulness skills reported “significant improvement in self-reported mindfulness, resilience, police and perceived stress, burnout, emotional intelligence, difficulties with emotion regulation, mental health, physical health, anger, fatigue, and sleep disturbance.” This echoes some of the research from an earlier study, which found that police officers who went through mindfulness training experienced less depression in their first year of service. This approach is certainly preparing LEO’s and first responders with better ways to handle their emotional stressors in an era where they face increasing violence every day.

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Our public and private schools are using mindfulness practices to help students deal with stress, the threat of gun violence, bullying, and classroom restlessness.  Two different studies were done by Cheryl Desmond, Ph.D., and Laurie Hanich, Ph.D., of middle school children who had taken the “Wellness Works in Schools” mindfulness-based course showed significant gains in self-regulation and executive function.

Discipline problems become teachable moments for kids who have learned how to use mindfulness.  Dennie Doran, head of the Upper School at the Nantucket New School and a teacher there has been at the school for nine years.  She definitely sees a “before” and “after” effect since they began teaching mindfulness. “We have a common language from the 3-year-olds to the 14-year-olds. ‘Was that a mindful decision?’ ‘Did you think about your choice?’ ‘Stop and take a breath.’ So that by the time the lower school gets to the upper school we’re dealing with teachable moments instead of discipline problems. They’re learning self-awareness and then making choices based on that self-awareness.”

Perhaps we are entering a new age in schools not rooted in hardening or softening them but in helping students and teachers to find deeper and more meaningful connections with self and others.


A few of the many benefits of Mindfulness:

Pope Francis relates to mindfulness and Centering Prayer as “serene attentiveness” which approaches life by being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full.  He reminds Christians that “Jesus taught this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or when seeing the rich young man and knowing his restlessness, he looked at him with love.  He was completely present to everyone and to everything, and in this way; he showed us the way to overcome that unhealthy anxiety which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers.”

Mindfulness at Home

I have found that mindfulness enables me to experience every moment.  There is an ever-present opportunity to step into a moment and find peace.  I have grown in deeper, loving awareness of the wonders of creation and in my connectedness with other people.  I don’t live in the past or worry about the future (for the most part…I’m working on it). Gradually, I have come to believe in the truth of The Serenity Prayer and that we are all here, on earth, in the peaceful presence of the Creator. Thanks at least in part to mindfulness. So, get quiet, sit up straight, close your eyes…now take a deep breath in and let it out.  There.  You are on your way to practicing mindfulness.

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash


Robert Kenneth Jones is an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse.

In a career spanning over four decades, his work helping people recover from childhood abuse and addiction has earned him the respect of his peers.

His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Is it time we embrace ‘digital volunteerism’ in a disaster?

Despite highly specialized and capable emergency management systems, ordinary citizens are usually first on the scene in an emergency or disaster and remain long after official services have ceased.

However, in most developed countries, emergency and disaster management often views outsiders as a nuisance or liability, and their efforts are often undervalued.
Given increasing disaster risk worldwide, it is likely that ‘informal’ volunteers will provide much of the additional surge capacity required to respond to more frequent emergencies and disasters in the future.

This excellent resource from the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction considers the role of informal volunteers in emergency and disaster management.

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