The “Free Range” Solution

This is the third part of my posts about a “free-range humans” meme. The previous posts are

Today, I’m going to have the audacity to suggest a possible solution.


Part of the problem is a hyper-focus on self.

As we have moved into a more modern world, we have become more focused on personal comfort and safety. While this is a sign of progress, it is also an Achilles heel. We have the luxury of becoming very self-focused and very irritated when someone trespasses our comfort zone. This has even extended into our parenting to a large degree.

Also, a focus on personal comfort makes it easier to stop thinking about the well-being of others. We isolate ourselves into our own little world, worry about our own problems, and miss opportunities to reach out to others. We let “somebody else” do that. Sometimes, we even expect everyone else to think about us, too.

Ok,  I admit that this is an overly simplified view. Reality is much more complex, but I feel confident enough that it applies enough that I’m going to move forward.

We can be part of the solution if we are willing to work and change.

I don’t believe in changing the government to change our culture. I think we will be more successful if we change our culture first because the government is a reflection of our culture.

So, I’d like to propose a four-part solution to the Free-Range Human problem:

  1. Return to personal integrity. As long as we are looking for ways to “get away” with something, willing to shortchange someone else for our own benefit, or retaliate because we believe that we have been wronged, we will continue to add to an environment that looks to bring in the government with its regulations as the “big guns” to protect themselves.
  2. Respond when you have the ability. In “Response-ability” I shared a video that challenges the viewer to consider that that if you have the ability, you need to respond. Waiting for someone else, whatever our excuse, allows people to fall through the cracks and creates more of the hopelessness and despair that has lead to so much tragedy in recent years.
  3. Stop and think before trying to ask the government to step in. Can the government really make a positive difference? Would this problem be better handled closer to home in a grass-roots initiative? Is it worth having a bigger government with more regulation and more taxes? The government doesn’t always make things all better. It might actually be better to live with some risk!
  4. Encourage others to step up with integrity and compassion. One person can’t stop a flood, and sometimes, all of our combined powers can’t stop the flood, either. But, together we can limit the damage and rebuild.

Have you been following this short series? What are your thoughts about being free-range humans on a tax farm? What ideas do you have for solving the tough problems that are facing our society today?



It’s a New Year. So What?


In two days, 2018 will begin. Some people will be glad to see 2017 go and are making plans for 2018 to be their best year ever. Some people had a great 2017 and aren’t all that excited about a new year. Some really don’t care one way or another.

Why make such a big deal about turning a page in a calendar?

In truth, we don’t have to. I normally don’t.

However, with the right mindset and attitude, using a date on the calendar can help us mark a turning point in our lives. We can begin to make progress to improve ourselves and establish new habits that will enrich our lives.

Here’s the process I use:

  1. Identify my guiding principles: What are my real values? What is my true purpose in the world? How do I want people to remember me after I have passed away? Any goal I set has to be in line with my values and my personal purpose, or it will fail.
  2. Identify who I want to be: I have found it is always more positive to move toward something I want rather than to try to remove something I don’t want. Adding good to my life will overwhelm and displace the bad.
  3. Break my goals into smaller steps: And then break those steps down into smaller steps. I need to make sure that each step is manageable and reasonably easy to accomplish.
  4. Work on one step at a time: I have a tendency to try to accomplish as much as possible as soon as possible. It’s a recipe for burnout. Relax and focus on one step of the journey at the time so that you can savor each success.
  5. Keep some sort of record: Whether it’s a journal, a note in a calendar, or a vlog, having a record of my progress helps me keep going as I establish new habits and create a new and better comfort zone for my life.

Do you set resolutions? Do you keep them? How do you achieve personal progress and growth? Comment!

Why Write this Blog?


Last week, I wrote about the changes that have been occurring in my life, and how they might affect my blog. The biggest influence and piece of wisdom that I keep encountering as I blaze a new trail in my life is to understand why I am doing what I am doing. The personal benefits are numerous, but the one that relates to this blog is that knowing my purpose for writing will help me develop a consistent message.

So, I spent the week tossing the why questions around in my mind. I realized that my goal is to help people. My idea of help is NOT some fluffy, feel-good affirmation that tells you you’re ok when you’re really a jerk that’s messing up your life and the lives of the people closest to you. To me, that’s like trying to put an adhesive bandage over a cut artery.

No, life is messy. It’s hard. Life questions rarely have easy answers. And, just when you think that you’ve found your answers, you find that there are people out there who have a totally different view of things and see things so differently from you that you wonder if you’re even from the same species. (Something I actually love about humanity, by the way!)

In the end, I type my thoughts and opinions up every week with the hope that I help someone somewhere see things in a way that gives them the courage to carry on, fortitude to keep trying to solve their problems, and perspective to live without causing harm to others.

That’s why I write this blog.

So, for the most part, the posts will continue next week and probably feel a lot like “business as usual.” I hope you find useful thoughts to ponder and apply!

Highly Effective People?

Effective-PeopleBecause of my workaholic tendencies, I have been enamored with the idea of being “effective,” “productive,” and “successful” for as long as I can remember. It hasn’t brought the contentment that I once thought it would.

So, when I ran across this phrase in a book title recently, I began to wonder. Did I miss the boat? Is there something about effectiveness that fascinates the highly-driven? Is this just a cultural thing? Is being effective a practice that I should avoid?

What I have experienced so far is that I filled every minute of productivity that I created with something else “important” that “needed” to be done.


I decided to check some definitions:

“successful in producing a desired or intended result”

This was the first entry, which means it’s the most commonly used meaning of the word. This is how my workaholism interprets effectiveness. Make things happen. Control events. Produce more than anyone else. This is the definition that has driven me most of my life, but hasn’t produced the things I truly desired.

“fulfilling a specified function in fact, though not formally acknowledged as such”

To me, this definition has possibilities. It calls for self-reflection before action. What is my “function” in life? The more I mature, the more I’m convinced it’s relationships. If I want to leave a legacy, it’s not going to be in my job titles, the size of my bank accounts, or the number of belongings I can accumulate. My legacy is going to be in the difference I made for the good in the lives of the people I touched.

Maybe there’s a chance for me to be an effective person, after all.

Shaping my Vision


As I was writing about learning to follow my vision last week, I realized that just as important as following a vision is how I choose to shape that vision. The shape of my vision I follow completely controls who I become. So, what factors have shaped mine?

One of my biggest characteristics is the need to make a difference and to help others. It probably shows more than I think — after all, I chose teaching as my life’s career, and I’m writing a blog trying to help people think about the choices they make in life. It’s also important to me that I not hurt other people. I know I make mistakes, and have hurt people in the past, but I never want to start out with the intent of harm or of not caring if I inflict harm.

Some of the questions I have answered as I’ve searched for my life vision are

  1. What legacy will I leave behind?
  2. What effect will I have on others and the world around me?
  3. Does my life have meaning and purpose?
  4. Am I living up to my potential?
  5. What does a great life really look like to me?
  6. Am I creating or consuming?
  7. When do I really feel alive?

These really helped me focus on what is important to me.

Now, I’m challenging you to ask yourself some deep questions and create your own vision — on purpose, with purpose.

Learning to Follow my Vision


Looking back through my life, I guess I have always been a doer. Sitting around doing little to nothing has pretty much always been torture to me. It would seem like I should be world-famous, but I’m not. There is nothing about my life that quakifies me to stand out from the crowd. As I’ve gained some maturity, I’ve reflected on what happened.

I think the answer may be deceptively simple. While I learned the value of hard work, spending time accomplishing things, and even learned perseverance. What I never learned was that achieving a vision requires focus. I also never learned that focus means ignoring any hint of FOMO.

The clues are finally coming together, and it’s not too late for me. Here’s what my experiences have taught me so far, and I hope you’ll find them helpful, as well.

  • Choose your vision carefully. Dreams are great, but I’ve found that I generally only see the good I want, and miss the “yin and yang” that is inherent in real life. If I want to be filthy rich, then I also want to spend a lot of time worrying about my money. If I want to become incredibly famous, then I will find it hard to go anywhere and have “off” time — there’s a good chance I’ll be recognized anywhere I go, and that will cut into my opportunities to recharge by being alone. If I want to be  a famous author, I’m going to have to spend a lot of time alone with my computer instead of hanging out with friends. There will be a downside to anything I pursue — the question is whether or not I really want to live with it!
  • To choose is to renounce — and that’s ok! I encountered the first half of this thought in graduate school while I was learning to write music that could be played by young children. Somehow, the second part didn’t click. As I adopted the philosophy, I simply started trying to create new methods for getting more done with time that was becoming increasingly limited. I was driving myself crazy. Only later in life did I truly realize that if I am happy with my choices, it’s not so important what I have renouneced.
  • Ignorning FOMO is easier said than done. The world is full of wonderful opportunities. I have found it normal to want to try them out, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. The problem is whne I stop honoring those things that bring me the most joy because I’m trying so hard to make sure that I’m having all of the experiences and doing all of things that everyone else is — just in case I miss out on something better. I will be wearing myself without feeling the joy. So, I have now adopted the principle of trying out those things that intrigue me while devoting the bigger portion of my time to the things that I consider are essential to me being me.

While I’m not perfect at it (I still spend too much time on work and not enough time creating), I now focus my vision. I still get distracted, but I draw myself back in by ranking my “new goal” against the path that has been most constant in my life. Will I ever become a household name? Maybe, but probably not. Does it matter so much anymore? Nope.

In sharpening my focus, I ended up finding me.