Posts Tagged ‘freedom

04
Jun
15

We’re All Doing Time Just in Different Places

the-broken-chain1Every speaker dreams of a captive audience, but this past Tuesday I got the experience of a lifetime. I spoke to a group of prison inmates who were graduating from a LIFE course which is a prison ministry started years ago by Pennsylvania Governor George Leader. And while they may not be moving anywhere physically, they desired to move spiritually, which is the only journey in life that truly matters.

When I found out that they were “lifers” I was immediately perplexed by the juxtaposition before me. Here were bright, smiling faces looking at me ready to learn and grow, yet the reality was they were sentenced to a life behind bars as a consequence of their actions.  Being a good publisher, I brought them a book as a graduation gift: It’s All About Jesus: Three Bestselling Authors, One Dynamic Savior. The lead volunteer asked me to talk a little about the book and for the next five minutes I emotionally shared the content. Now I’ve had to take a moment behind the microphone before, but this was different. There was no way I was going to regain composure nor did I want to. Composure was not what was appropriate; vulnerability was.

I assured them my tears came from a place of extreme gratitude and that I was profoundly humbled to share the book my father and I worked on just before his passing in 2008. My father had spent his life sharing with so many disadvantaged people from all walks of life that their lives truly had a purpose, that they were special and loved, and that all their past mistakes and pain could be washed away. I imagined him beside me as each of the inmates proudly came forward to accept their certificate and be recognized.

Someone once asked my father how he could adjust from speaking to pastors in the morning to prisons in the afternoon to sales executives at night. His reply: “It’s easy; we’re all doing time just in different places.” The truth of this was never more clear to me than it was that night. I saw with my own eyes the redemptive power of the blood of Christ. I have seen many people come to the Lord, but never those who had made such radical, life-altering decisions. I never had a group that was so confined and shackled physically yet so unrestrained and alive spiritually.

I shared with them that life on the other side of the fence was not all that rosy for many of us; that we as a nation are becoming increasingly divided and hostile towards one another; that the desire for one man to enslave another was rampant across the globe and that evil revealed itself in all nations; that so many who had every opportunity in the world chose instead to exist in the prisons of their closed minds and hardened hearts, not willing to evolve and learn and live a life of service.

The individuals before me realized they were responsible for their actions. There was no vocalization of blame or hostility. They seemed at peace with what had transpired yet strove to find meaning in their lifetime behind bars. So who’s living a richer life? The “free” man who has every opportunity in the world but sees himself as either a victim to avoid responsibility for his own path, or so entitled that he does not have to be of service to others? Or the one who made a life-altering mistake yet chose to not let it define him?

The parable of The Sheep Thief tells the story of two young men several hundred years ago who were caught stealing sheep in a small Italian Village. Justice was swift and included branding the letter “ST” on each of their foreheads so all would know that they were in the presence of a “Sheep Thief.” One young man was determined to run from his past, moving from village to village, lying, hiding from his past. He died years later, broke and alone. The second young man sought to make amends for his transgressions and stayed in the village where the crime had been committed. He worked hard and earned enough money to pay back the man whose sheep he had stolen. He lived a life of service to the community. Many years later a visitor asked the shopkeeper why the old man had “ST” tattooed on his forehead.  The shopkeeper replied, “It stands for Saint.”

dead-peopleMy father used to quip that many of us are walking around dead long before we’re buried; but thank God he made it so we don’t stink ‘til we’re put in the ground. Truer words were never spoken. Never, ever forget: life’s not about where you start; it’s about where you finish.  It’s one long journey of going from jammed to justified, from limbo to liberated, and from restrained to resurrected. Our actions may imprison us physically, but the redemptive blood of Christ can truly set us free.

03
Jul
13

TGIF! Thank God I’m Free!!

FREEDOM Flag 3I am a happy person by nature. I am also strong and tolerant. That means I tend to attract those who are, as well as those who are not. Unfortunately, on planet Earth, the latter outnumber the former, so you do the math. While some people create drama, my life seemed destined to attract it.

I became aware of this as a young girl when my father called me a “weirdo magnet.”  So, after a half century of hearing thousands of bitches, complaints, whines, and excuses, I am turning that channel off.  I am finally free to be me, and just in time for Independence Day!!

Freedom from everyone’s expectations!

I am free because I am finally doing exactly what I should with my life. No more chasing other people’s ideas of what a good job is, no more going into jobs to fix what others should have corrected years ago. Why, even my father didn’t ask me to come back and run the family business on his death bed. He knew it had to be my choice alone. I also no longer expect bosses to be fair and ethical. I know that, while there are some who are, there are many more who aren’t. I no longer have to deal with them. I am free to make as much money as I want to give to organizations that I know will make the world a better place.

Freedom from everyone’s drama!

I am free because I no longer allow myself to engage in drama with others, including family members. I just give the old stormtrooper’s wave-off, “Move along, nothing to listen to here.” This may seem harsh, but the true cruelty is when you allow people to continuously wallow in their own self pity and poor self esteem. It’s like the old Nik Kershaw song, “You gotta be cruel to be kind in the right measure.” Emotional vampires don’t care about getting advice from you; they just want to suck the life out of you. Pull out the garlic cloves and holy water and tell them to be gone!!

Freedom from everyone’s manipulation!

I am free because I am true to myself and my beliefs. I don’t get drawn into arguments anymore. I don’t fall prey to subtle forms of manipulation such as false praise or subtle digs. I follow my principles even if they are unpopular, or they cost me a neighbor, an author, a boyfriend, or even a family member. We all die alone and in the end, the only person we have to answer to is God. Don’t believe? Then don’t you worry about it. And don’t try and bring me down because I have faith and you don’t.

You know you’re on the right track when you’re uninterested in looking back. The quieter you become the more you can hear. Know what you believe, and why you believe what you believe, so you can get to the heart of what believing is really all about.

10
Aug
12

I lived life and all I got was this lousy T Shirt! Or, Failure Is an Option

If no one is responsible for the consequences of their mistakes or can claim victory for their successes, what’s the point of living? We may as well be drones, our lives flown pilotless as we live off the labors of others.

We no longer have high expectations. We give medals for participation. Eighty percent of the work is still done by twenty percent of the workforce. There are industries that penalize workers who complete tasks too efficiently. More people go on disability than payroll. We are told that debt will strangle us into servitude yet students are allowed to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars of academic debt, and our country keeps printing money it can’t afford to spend.

Whether you agree with it or not, the man who does what needs to be done without being told draws the most wages, unless he’s on the government dole where his pay is guaranteed. Now, however, we are having a national discussion about whether or not the man who draws the most wages needs to give those wages back to those who haven’t earned them.

We are failing to continuously inspire the work ethic that instills greatness in others. Initiative has become a dirty word. Life should be lived tremendously as one triumphant pageant after another, not as a spectator sport. Yet everything now being taught seems to focus on patting oneself on the back for just existing while waiting for your next check to come.

As the Good Book says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  You can’t be a leader if you don’t have vision. The very price of leadership is vision, which is simply seeing what needs to be done and doing it, without having to be told and without the expectation of reward or accolade. Just doing what needs to be done, period.

Over two hundred years ago, Alexander Fraser Tytler is said to have described the cycle of democracy which typically spanned 200 years: “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

“Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; from dependence back again to bondage.”

So where are we? When the dependents outnumber the independents, dictatorship is not far behind.

 

11
Jul
12

coming out of the corporate closet

Not too many years ago I worked for a company as a project manager. I worked tirelessly to please the customer, promote those that worked the hardest on my team, and deal with people and issues that were counterproductive to our mission. On my appraisal that year, my supervisor put a single word under the section designated for areas of improvement: Passion. He went on to explain that I had too much of it.

I was stunned on so many different levels but first and foremost that my desire to uphold the spirit, integrity and intent of our contract was held in a negative light by corporate. Apparently, too much passion to do the right thing and excel can actually be a bad thing in some people’s eyes. It was then that I finally decided to come out of the corporate closet.

Sure, I had had these cultural “rubs” with previous bosses, one even told me when I was in the military that I made decisions too quickly (hadn’t I gone through five years of military academies to learn how to do that?). In fact, it happened so regularly that I finally went to my father and asked “Why do those in positions of authority view it as a threat when someone is working their hardest for the good of the entity?”

His answer was simple, but one I never forgot. “You can work for yourself or you can work for someone else”, he said. “As long as you work for someone else, this is going to happen.” I was blown away! Surely there had to be some organizations out there that valued order, structure, and integrity? And that’s when it hit me. Organizations, churches, governments and families have no inherent good or evil. It’s a matter of the people running them. As my father said, “There’s never been a monument in a park dedicated to a committee.”

Bureaucracies especially shun any kind of boat-rocking, change-inducing innovation because they are creatures of habit and those who get their paychecks there have done so for decades. I should know; I worked in the biggest and best of them, coming from the military, to Fortune 500, to government contractors.

Let’s face it, I was a refugee, I just wasn’t ready to admit it. I was never going to be able to enact lasting change on these behemoths. I had to come out of the closet and call myself what I really was: an entrepreneur. Once I owned up to it, I felt so liberated! So free! So creative! So in-my-own-element!!! I had gone the engineering route because that’s where “the money was”, and as a champion of doing the right thing I thought other organizations would be a haven for me. Boy was I wrong. I was like a fish out of water.

I’m a maverick! I loathe lazy people who just sit at their desks and delegate! I can’t stand unethical vendors or low-ball bidders! I despise managers who won’t make a decision! I knew I had to make a change. So at the beginning of the great recession and housing downturn of ’08, three months after my father died, I decided to walk away from my previous lifestyle and come out of the closet.

I used to think that “engineering project manager for a space technology division” was a sexy title. It’s nothing compared to small business owner, publisher, writer and speaker!  I used to think launching fighter aircraft was pretty cool. Try sharing and thinking with people intent on changing themselves and then the world. This is what I was made for. The only one I’ve got to worry about painting a target on my back is the kitten I just found when she jumps on the back of my chair to grab my pony tail.

The feeling of dread for the coming week on a Sunday night used to be palpable; now I’m so tired of being happy it’s wearing me out! I no longer count the days until vacation and then cry each time I fly home; who needs vacation when work is more fun than fun! I was so ill-informed I actually thought big companies and huge government bureaucracies made the economy run. Boy was I ignorant! It’s all about the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses that is the backbone of our economy and the only way to be truly free.

One of my best friends recently called me. He had been hired by the government a year earlier and was realizing that it’s the “same s*%#, different day”, forget about the “guaranteed pension, job security, and lifelong health benefits”. You see, he’s a closet entrepreneur like I am, so he’ll never truly be happy until he’s allowed to fully express himself with his God-given talents and creativity. So for all you others dealing with your own identity crisis, take the plunge and declare it loud and clear.

I have no regrets about my previous professional lives. I never would have discovered what I truly was had I not gone in their closets and tried on their garbs. And I’m proud to share my story today to let others know it is okay to come out of the corporate closet, claim your own professional identity, and live life on your own terms. As Tom Petty said, “You don’t have to live like a refugee”.

28
Jun
12

Are you freer than you were four years ago?

The Fourth of July. A time when we celebrate our independence as a nation. It is a time for us to celebrate our patriotism, our freedom from oppression, and our love of all things individual. Our freedom and our democracy with which we have been blessed are direct products of the sheer determination of our forefathers who worked to establish the United States of America as a free country.

Freedom of choice?

We have a choice to be wealthy or poor. We have the choice to live a healthy lifestyle or an unhealthy one. We have a choice to be agnostic or religious. We each have every opportunity to live our lives as we see fit. Equal opportunity does not guarantee equal outcome. Those who achieve more are vilified, unless they are in sports or the entertainment industry. If you have ever run a business and not had to fire someone, lay someone off, or get hauled to  court, I’m not sure you even showed up for work.

Are we even in the business of celebrating the individual? Seems anybody that is different than what we think, what we earn, and what we look like is the enemy. Differences have come to reflect “evil”. We are less united as a nation; partisan politics has made our common bond a distant memory.

I can remember the first time I saw the Borg on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It still scares the bejesus out of me, the thought of a huge hive where any bit of individualism has been assimilated into one collective consciousness. But as we give our individual freedoms to a collective bureaucracy, this is exactly what is happening to us.

Free to disagree?

I shied away from the debate club as a teen because I could never vehemently argue one side of an argument. I could always see the other person’s point of view. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” If you listen to the news, or read the blogs, we have no first-rate minds. And they definitely don’t want you to have a first-rate mind either. You can tell by the tone and spin in their “investigative” journalism. That’s not news, that’s entertainment.

Have a different set of morals than me? I’ll coil up and bite you by spreading venomous lies and hissing vulgarities about you. I’ll make you and your family a parody on comedy sketches so everyone can laugh at how ignorant you are. And yet we are busy wringing our hands over the escalating problem of childhood bullying, refusing to acknowledge that they are direct reflections of the adults in, or out, of their lives.

I used to love the days when I could carry on a discussion with someone who had a completely different viewpoint than myself without it degenerating into snide tones, and unsubstantiated quips. Don’t agree with me? You must be phobic, an idiot, a pathetic loser, or just a jackass. Sounds real grown up, doesn’t it?

Do we have to tolerate fools gladly?

During my time in the military, I lived in many different countries. There are governments that do not respect individual freedoms, liberties, or the basic equalities that we take for granted in America. I, like every other service member, took an oath to defend these rights against all enemies, foreign and domestic. 

With the influx of foreign nationals into our country, we see that some of these intolerances have made their way onto our soil. Some groups demand that we respect their laws and religious ideals, but refuse to respect those of others. Their way is the only way so your freedom of choice is dictated by them.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali said, “Tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.” Tolerating others’ injustices to basic human rights isn’t respecting another nation’s sovereignty or religious beliefs, it’s just wrong.

This Fourth of July remember, while we are still free to do so, that we truly must live free or die; that if we’re all thinking alike, nobody is thinking; and that suffering fools gladly is madness.




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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