Podcast Episode – Envy

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Click here to listen!

Transcription:

I’ll begin today’s conversation starter with a look at biblical scripture

I’ll be reading from James 3:14-17 it reads

Life just isn’t what I thought it would be

Have you said this to yourself before?

Have you said it recently?

Many of us survey our lives and think to ourselves- wow this just isn’t where I thought I’d be

Years prior we’d had such high hopes for the future thinking surely in “this stage” in my life I’ll be here….

We envision life’s attainment of romantic relationships as being a key player to fulfilling our inner most desires to love and be loved

And certainly the grass is greener years up the unforeseen road…

We think if I can only get “there” instead of “here” then maybe just maybe life will feel less numb.

But why do we do this?

Why do we use reverse nostalgia as a means of a picture perfect life?

Is it because if we have nothing to look forward to then what’s the point of living?

Thus our lives then become but meager monotonous routines of wake up…eat…work…sleep…wake up eat…work sleep…wake up eat…facebook post…sleep.

For some of us it isn’t the future but the actual past that we compare our current life to and think to ourselves “boy things just aren’t what they used to be”

Why does my life have to be this way??? Why does it feel like I got the short end of the stick with this life and these set of circumstances…

In other words…It’s not fair!

(Pause)

That’s generally our inner cry and/or temper tantrum that we act out internally when we feel pain over our lives and see someone else’s success.

In one word this is called envy….or discontentment

For the most part some of us do a good job of hiding envy, others…well….not so much.

If we are honest, most of our bitterness is directed against God, because we feel God is the One who is ultimately in control of having given more to others than to us.

However, this accusation is often mistakenly rooted in a mis-understanding of God’s resources…which are lavishly boundless and extravagantly plentiful.

You see envy impedes our fruitfulness in Christ and to some degree it obstructs God-desired blessings upon us.

James 3:14-17 gives us a gut check on this reality of envy. It also details how envy and self-seeking work hand in hand.

Envy is generated from a self-seeking heart of personal ambition and because of our sin nature, we are internally motivated by selfish ambitions.

In some… envy festers inside as a quiet comparing of ourselves with others.

What may start off as a small seed, if it is harbored and nursed, will eventually grow into a spirit of murder and robbery for ultimately it wants to kill and then apprehend the coveted possession for itself.

What’s interesting about envy, however, is people don’t see the price you may have paid for whatever it is they are envying.

They only see the dividends.

When they see you being given something they desire and have been working towards, they don’t understand what it is you may have endured or have been sowing in secret, so their first response is envy.

See envy is an issue of the heart and it is not seen until a situation calls it forth.

God’s most common method of revealing our tendencies to envy is to pour out blessings on someone we know.

When your neighbor is “winning,” you can still pray for thim with energy and sincerity. Even when the blessing of God has yet to materialize in your life.

See promotions test our authenticity to love….If you’ve been unemployed for a while and someone that you know that you feel is less deserving of getting a job… gets one before you….will you love and not envy?

When you’ve struggled to find the spouse of your dreams but you see couples publicly displaying affection and loving on each other….will you still bless and not curse?

When we envy what God has sovereignly given another we despise that which has been given to us.

See the truth is that God does not design us similarly and from our point of view equally; but instead designs us on criteria other than what we want. See each persons “frame” or body isn’t built to handle the level of responsibility of managing a specific talent, destiny or purpose.

So forcing yourself to be who you were not designed to be will break you.

Each person’s level of skill has nothing to do with the amount of God’s love for them. Until we come to the realization that God loves us exactly the way we are because God made us precisely the way God wants us to be, then we will always envy.

The sneaky thing about envy is that it never wants to be discovered. Therefore it generates a noble zeal that deflects all eyes onto a secondary issue. Some of us cloak our envy in an appearance of just cause, but as we all know it doesn’t take a super spiritual person to discern whether someone is being envious.

One of the most effective things we can do to deal with envy is simply admit its existence.

We must take ownership of envy before God; dealing with it forcefully and immediately.

Since envy loves to disguise and hide, it can sometimes operate in our hearts for months and even years without us even being aware of it.

Yet God has ways of bringing those hidden areas to the surface, so we can see them.

When trials come in and the fire in our lives set ablaze, the impurities rise to the surface where things like envy can be identified. Once we see the issues, it’s crucial that we repent and do business with God.

One of the main ways God helps us to work through envy is through a weaning process similar to what parents force children through. This involves withholding from the child what they desire which in turn forcibly changes their appetite.

In weaning us, God withholds what we want in order to change our desires.

A weaned child is one who has allowed their parents to shape their appetites.

When our hearts are set upon lofty, ambitious desires that are too profound for us, God withholds from us the very things we desire.

At first we’re frustrated because we’re convinced our high aspirations are part of the God-given purpose to which we are called. Our frustration turns to anger… and then to heartache.

Throughout the entire process… if another person attains what we wanted, envy crouches at our door. If the Lord withholds from us long enough, eventually… just maybe…we will stop craving the thing we once desired. Once our hearts are settled in the portion God has given us we are said to be weaned.

While it may feel as if God is our opponent during this weaning process, there is a nearness that somehow clutches us closer to God’s assuring love. It is in this assurance that we are empowered to overcome the ambition-driven envy of our hearts and come to rest in God’s love.

It is also here for which we find clarity and peace in our lives. As James tells us that where envy and self-seeking exist confusion is there.

But when we rest in the providence of God we find peace and mercy towards ourselves and others.

For godliness with contentment is great gain.

Recommended book: Envy -by David Gibson

Banff or Lake Louise -which one takes the prize?

Definitely Lake Louise!

Although I’d say they each have their own unique characteristics. Certainly less of a hassle to get to is Banff park; although it’s still a two hour drive from the city of Calgary and it’s accompanied airport.

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Banff however offers a bit more parking options and accessibility than Lake Louise. Having said this, you still need to get to either location when they first open as it does not take long for the park to fill up with visitors; especially Lake Louise. If you do not get to the park within the first two hours, chances are you either will park at the offsite parking lots (free) that will bus you in on traditional school buses or you will have to try another day (if even those parking lots are full)! The ride from the offsite parking lot is about 15-20 min each way and there is a cut off period for the last bus of the day. So make sure you pay attention to the announcement of when this is – if you choose this route. I elected to take this option as opposed to trying my luck at parking inside the Lake Louise grounds as I had already spent the morning at Banff and heard from fellow travelers their issues with getting into the park after 3pm. Not knowing that Lake Louise is another 45-60 minutes north of Banff – I decided to b-line out of Banff and speed my way up there in hopes I wouldn’t be denied entry (if the park reaches capacity, then they turn people away for the day). Thankfully, I made it in time and it certainly helped that I was visiting on the tail end of high season so the crowds were not as bad.

Unfortunately, it was an overcast day, however, I was told that I was still in luck that day because it was the first day the snow had melted on some of the mountain caps and there was a clearer line of sight for a few of the mountains. Even though the sun was not shining on the lake you could still see the turquoise color emanating from the surface.

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Certainly still a sight to see. It was a bit chilly to do much activity on the lake for my liking so I went inside and ate lunch at the adjacent Chateau. I sat at the bar, ordered a tomato bisque soup and gazed out the glass windows that put the majestic mountains on display. Certainly an option to do, but not a make or break experience. There are many picturesque places to walk around and capture the beauty of Lake Louise.

Banff is not too shabby itself as it has plenty of forestry and mountaineering vibes to it as well. Much more of a small town feel it hosts: shops, museums, hotels, and restaurants. Bring your walking shoes as it is much more easily navigated on foot. Especially as the crowds pick up. You can easily spend the day at Banff alone and check out the many shops and museums. Or you could spend your time relaxing in the serenity of the many trails and park benches.

The walk to the cave and basin site is for those looking for a good exercise. Driving there is an option, although you risk losing your parking space in the heart of the city if you decide to do this. The cave and basin site is about a 5 out of 10. You would hope the cave would reward you with a bit more of an “ah” factor from the hike you just trekked to get there. But instead it’s rancid smell deters you from staying too long nearby. But don’t leave just yet…take the stairs to the top of the building and walk around the upper deck for the real (scenic) reward.

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All in all, the drive to either location is stunning. You’ll want to factor in more time to stop, pull over and take pictures just on the drive alone. Either destination will reward you with nature’s finest so buckle up and head on up to the beautiful rolling mountain town of Banff and Lake Louise.

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*Bonus travel tip – if you’re into magnets don’t buy them at either location…believe it or not the Calgary airport has a much better selection and price.

Podcast Episode – What Does it Mean to “Eat Well?”

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Click here to listen!

Transcription:

How many times have you heard someone say…you know I “eat good” or she eat’s so well I don’t understand why she got sick. Well the case for what is “good” has been, is and will forever be up for debate. With the myriad of the latest and greatest diets or themed food crazes its no wonder people have a subjective view of what their eating habits are. Atkins, Keto, South Beach, Vegan, Pescatarian, Vegetarian, and the oh so popular and prevalent SAD diet. SAD diet you ask? What is that? It’s the Standard American Diet that includes heavy processed, pre-packaged and fast-foods. Many of us at one point in our lives indulged heavily into this standard of eating. Why – well because it was convenient and it tasted delicious. The SAD diet is instantly gratifying; and loaded with all of our favorite chemically induced flavors it knows how to hit the crave spot with a capital S. For others though, the SAD diet has not been a part of their lives, but I dare say that those individuals are few and far between. Most people who grew up here in the States have dipped into the SAD diet at some point in their lives because it is so readily available and so engrained into our cultural activities.

But there is a reason it is called SAD…because after you gorge on that delicious (and sometimes not so delicious) meal you immediately feel sad; on all ends of the spectrum. Both emotionally, mentally, and physically. Regret. Ugh. For many shaking their heads going I feel none of these things after I eat my SAD diet, it’s most likely because you have become so acclimated to it that your body delays and lowers any immediate knee-jerk reactions. Trust me though – the effects are coming. So many diseases that quote un quote pop up in our lives have been marinating and compounding for years based on our food decisions. And I can almost guarantee that no one has been able to live a completely perfect and disciplined lifestyle since birth. So for people to say oh I eat good or that person eats well is really like trying to determine the inner motivations of ones heart. Largely impossible. One can only do so much to determine the behavioral origins based on the limited amount of data that you see/experience from that person. No one has a cumulative detailed look into one’s daily food intake. Most of us are just getting snapshots. We don’t know the many times a person drinks water, soda, or coffee to the detail let alone the many hidden snacks or pieces of candy a person might have popped into their mouths. What we see is an overview of that persons eating habits and make our decisions based on that.

Having said this, I do believe we can formulate a high-level synopsis of whether or not someone has shown their eating habits to be predominantly “good.” Meaning, if a person drinks sodas all the time, eats pasta, burgers and french fries and little to no vegetables then yes one could surmise that this person doesn’t “eat well.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say they just came from the doctor’s and got a negative report about their health and they first thing they do is say “well I eat pretty good so I don’t understand.” I think to myself- goodness when?? Because from what I’ve seen you’ve shown me a diet of mainly processed foods or a meat, bread and potato lifestyle. I mean who are you foolin? Who are you trying to convince me or yourself? Because I’m clearly not convinced that you eat well at all. But I’ll sit here and nod because trying to point out to you the things I’ve seen you eat will be met with defense after defense after defense. But I digress….

So my take on what it means to “eat good” or well pertains to the universal agreement that unprocessed/raw fruits and vegetables are the predominant (70-90%) food intake. We can sit here and argue for days about anything else including meat, dairy and bread/grains as to whether or not those foods should be included into what it looks like to “eat well.” For the purposes of this statement I am focusing in on chemically un-tampered fruits and vegetables. Having a lifestyle that predominantly engages in eating these foods to me is what it means to “eat good.” I’ll further clarify that people can think they are doing this, but have no understanding of food quality. Meaning, they will eat iceberg lettuce filled meals, or canned vegetables that are loaded with sodium filled preservatives and think they’re eating good. Also those pre-package syrup based fruit cups, slim fast type drinks, or sugary dried fruit snacks are just a few items that are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are the biggest tricksters on the market. This, I believe, is the hardest part of determining what it means to “eat well.” Because so many people don’t agree and/or have an understanding of the origins of our foods. Also, it is difficult to purely eat well because unless you grow your own food from farm to table without the use of harsh chemicals – relying on our groceries to provide us with unadulterated food items (including fruits and vegetables) is becoming more and more of a crap shoot.

At the end of the day those of us without the ability or access to grow our own foods are at the mercy of manufacturing. Thus, we can make our best attempt at choosing the right combination of foods based on our physical needs for preventative disease and present healthcare. We can focus in on a lifestyle of moderation with a predominant eating behavior focused on raw fruits and vegetables. At the end of the day, that to me is the best shot at being able to say how well one eats. Not necessarily the outcome, because we are all going to die…but how, when and the quality of your death (not affected by an accident/tragic situation) is the true underlying reason or starting point for even determining what it means to “eat well.”

What’s it like to be an Airbnb Experience Host

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It’s pretty cool so far!

I just launched a new mobile city private tour in the city of Atlanta. So far I’ve met a few individuals from Canada and England who were new to visiting the city and didn’t know where to start. I was able to share with them the go to tourist spots, the art, music and film culture that this city is known for.

Atlanta has hosted just about every major sporting event during my lifetime. I’m pretty sure they will continue to host landmark events, conferences and iconic shows over the next few decades to come. This city has a rich history in not only hosting major events, but also in it’s cultural influence from a political and civil rights standpoint.

 

In the tour I take guest to the following benchmark Atlanta destinations:

Mercedes Benz Stadium -Home of Super Bowl 2019

Centennial Olympic Park – Home of the 1996 Olympics

State Farm Arena – (formerly Phillips Arena) Home of the 2003 NBA All Star Game

CNN center

World of Coca-Cola

Georgia Aquarium

College Football Hall of Fame Museum

Center for Civil Rights Museum

Turner Broadcasting Headquarters

The Varsity – The World’s Largest Drive-in Restaurant

Fox Theatre

Jimmy Carter Presidential Center

Martin Luther King Jr. Home & National Historic Site

*And a few other bonus locations (pending time and guest desires)

 

I’m excited about this launch and invite you to be a part of it!

I’ve turned my passion for cross cultural engagement and tourism and extensive knowledge of the city of Atlanta into an Atlanta Mobile City Private Tour, which I’m listing as an experience on Airbnb.

Please also share this with anyone in your network who might be interested and traveling to the city of Atlanta.

You can view and book the experience here!

 

Is it Lie-bear-ria or Lee-bear-ria…my take on Liberia, Costa Rica

Well it’s the latter! Lee-bearria …the whole time I kept saying Lie-bearria only to hear the locals say the i like an e.

Okay now that we’ve settled that…what’s it all about? Well, located on the Pacific Northwest side of the country it’s best know for it’s ocean high tides and volcanic parks. Sort of an oxymoron, it hosts both dry and wet natural habitats that contain a myriad of accompanied species.

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Rincon de la Vieja National Park contains one of Costa Rica’s most active volcano’s along with steaming fumaroles, mini-geysers and bubbling volcanic mud pits. This dry tropical forest is home to more than 300 bird species and other animals like armadillos, iguanas, snakes, spider monkeys and more. If you choose to walk through the park self-guided, make sure you keep something handy in case you encounter a snake. Thankfully my travel mate, myself and my tour guide did not, but we were certainly warned :).

The park also features tons of ficus trees and winding trails, but to me the ultimate park must see is the adjacent Oropendula Waterfall. Although bit of a hike down a few tight and windy dirt roads and one way bridge, once you arrive you will see that it was all worth it. This 82 foot (25 meter) waterfall boast a bright turquoise pool in the canyon of the Rio Blanco. And YES you must jump off the side of the rock into the heart of the pool in order to feel the magic of it all. Don’t worry…. I did it …and I survived to write about it lol. The water is so refreshingly crisp that you could spend hours just hanging out in there if there wasn’t a crowd waiting for you to exit.

If you choose not to partake in the waterfall magic and simply want to ride the waves head on over to Tamarindo beach. While it technically is not in the town of Liberia, its access is closer to this airport than San Jose.

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There isn’t much to do in the downtown area of Liberia from a tourist standpoint, so I recommend staying in Tamarindo if you decide to check out that side of Costa Rica. Downtown Liberia is bustling with local businesses that cater to local people. After walking around the center square and streets it definitely was not repeat worthy.

Tamarindo on the other hand caters to the expat and serendipitous traveler. With local souvenir shops, restaurants and beachside excursions it certainly offers a bit more of the “vacation life.” Good luck haggling at the souvenir shops as the owners don’t budge much on their prices (which are not cheap). I bought a hammock for $30 and that was the end of my shopping. Restaurants are equally pricey so be prepared to drop a good $15-25 bucks on a meal; especially at the beachside restaurants.

Have a walk around the beach and explore the neighboring estuary. Take a boat tour on the estuary and learn about the crazy stories of alligators eating people who tried to swim in it. Then when you are done you can sit beachside and watch the sunset and listen to the local Mariachi band. A few things to note, there are no leash laws so there are many roaming dogs. Additionally, the tide gets pretty high and rough quickly so if you’re wanting some beach action (and you’re not a surfer), I’d recommend going earlier in the day.

Overall, Liberia itself doesn’t offer much from a city standpoint, it’s airport is much more expensive to fly into because it is nearer to the beaches on the Pacific side of the country (where many of the resorts are housed). Many of the locals deterred us from going/staying there and hanging out in the “Playa” beach areas because the ocean water was not well taken care of (i.e. polluted with trash and oil dumping). I took their word for it and decided on Tamarindo. The only downside of this part of Costa Rica for me was the lack of greenery and rainforest vegetation. I was told this is located more on the east side of the country – thus my hopes and dreams of seeing any toucans were dashed. So if you’re looking for any of the aforementioned experiences then the surrounding Liberia area is the ticket for you.

 

 

 

Podcast Episode – Travel 101: How Technology has Affected Travel

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Click here to listen!

Transcription:

The technology boom has given humanity some amazing advances. Simultaneously, it has affected some of our most primitive forms of interaction. Particularly our native communication channels such as verbal and nonverbal speech. You may be wondering what this has anything to do with travel. Well, throughout my recent travels around SE Asia, I noticed in 5 out of the 6 countries I visited that everyone’s head was in one direction: down.

They were all looking at some electronic device everywhere I turned. As I walked through the streets taking in the sights, smells and sounds I was eager to get a sense of the local people and their specific cultural interaction with each other. What I found instead was the same non-descript and sterile body language influenced by one thing: electronic distraction. I began to realize that while I had enjoyed the benefits of using technology to book an affordable flight and bnb in a new country – I realized this same technology stripped away much of my anticipated organic experience with a new culture.

Each time I rode the buses and trains and scanned the audience for any sign of cultural nuance- I found very little. I began to wonder how my travels may have been different say 15-20 years ago. If I would have seen how a mother interacted with her child on the train in Malaysia instead a device occupying the child’s attention. Or how two friends converse in Auckland about their jobs on the bus after coming from work instead of scrolling through Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, this post is not a full bash against technology – as I believe technology has brought people together in its own unique and often cost effective ways. Yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring to light some of its effects that often go unnoticed.

At the end of the day, we should use technology to interact with people not avoid people to interact with technology. So the next time you travel – remember while it’s good to stay connected (Wifi) the real enriching connection is the human interaction in the direction of (eyes) up.

Podcast Episode – A Hostile Culture: Being Able to Agree to Disagree

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Click here to listen!

Transcription:

You’ve seen the talk shows. You know guest A argues with guest B or host 1 gets into a heated debate with host 2. It’s become today’s norm when we look at television to see two people arguing profusely to get their point across. Some people thrive on this. They love the argumentative showdown. The more hostility the better! It feeds their cravings to be in a verbal battle to see if they can win at all cost. I don’t know about you but I am not one of those people. I do not get excited at the opportunity to jump into a verbal tussle. I’d rather have peace and simply talk with you. Now don’t get me wrong, I have been guilty a time or two with being triggered to engage in a yell match. Trust me when it was all said and done -I’ve regretted every moment of it. I hate that feeling. It does nothing to edify me or solve anything for that matter. Yet, some people still ascribe to this behavior because they don’t know any other way. Maybe this type of communication was modeled to them in their households growing up. So they’ve taken on the mantle as “normal” behavior and applied it to most situations that involve conflict or difference. Maybe they’ve cultivated this can’t tell me nothin stance as they been out in the world trying to make it in a hostile environment such as the military or some other setting where they’ve had to watch out for themselves. Whatever the case is there are some people who simply feel more comfortable always being on the verbal defense with a great deal of hostility.

While some thrive on hostile confrontation, others I would gather to say do not like conflict or having to engage in confrontation. In fact, it is most likely that these people shrink up and actually avoid conflict. Yet, little to they know (or maybe they do and they refuse to change it) that the conflict is still there ruminating. Particularly on the inside – as inner conflict grows and festers into other passive aggressive behaviors with the offender. Neither way, in my opinion is in the right. The hostile yeller or the avoidant. So how can we personally develop a passionate calmness to have and articulate a difference of opinion without “losing it” and becoming hostile? (Which by the way recognizing that you are being hostile is the first step towards overcoming this barrier- some people just refuse to admit they are coming across as hostile. You’ve heard the rebuttals – angry whose angry? I’m not angry (in their Incredible Hulk voice) How can we express our inner offense or difference without attacking the other person we are interacting with? I would like to take the three step approach to offer up some solutions. While this list is not exhaustive, it is a start for those who are truly seeking to cultivate a less hostile environment within conflict resolution. Number one: find your late night dj voice and will your way to use it. Oh boy this one is probably the catalyst for the other two items I’ll mention. If you don’t know what a “late night dj voice” is – turn on the local radio station after 11pm and listen to the disc jockey’s tone, volume and pace of voice. It’s soothing, it’s calming, and it’s also clear as the night. They are not in a rush to offload a ton of information. Their pace is thoughtful and concise. It puts the listener in a reflective mode and instantly causes them to relax and intake. This is the first barrier to entry when cultivating communication that may be opposing.

Secondly, work on your vocabulary and self awareness. You can listen to my other podcast on self-awareness to learn more about that. But the more that you find what it is that is truly bothering you or causing you to trip up in a situation, the more you can effectively communicate that to the other individual. Now I also mentioned working on your vocabulary, because the wider your repertoire is of the oxford vernacular the closer you get to closing the gap and pinpointing the exact word (or set of words) that match the feeling you are trying to express. This helps create a less hostile engagement, because words hurt despite what the sticks and stones say. And the more you express accurate depictions of how you feel using a wider array of words beside the easy cop-out of cuss words and the like, the greater you are to accomplishing what you really want. And that is having the other person truly know how you feel. Your true feelings get lost in the cultural blunders of cuss words and colloquialisms. When you can articulately express yourself in a manner that does not utilize these language art forms that’s when you’ve truly begin to “win.” Finally, the third component to this is removing assumption by giving the other person the consideration of well-meaning intent. Now I know this one is probably the hardest of them all to do because some people are just awful. Their mean-spirited and nasty natured. So this one will require a large dose of vulnerability and humility. You’re going to have to swallow that pride in order to effectively engage in this one.

I read a book by Brene Brown and in it she mentions a story of a time when she and her husband went swimming in a lake. I’ll paraphrase the story for time purposes, but when they were at the lake she felt like her husband did not recognize that she was what I’ll say as “having a moment” in the water. She was a bit panicked while her husband was just frolicking over on the other end to her completely unaware of her breakdown. When they got out of the water, she confronted her husband about it accusing him of not being there for her and it caused a pretty big rift in their interactions with each other for a short while after that. She later realized that there was a different way she could have handled it. Instead of taking the attack method, she could have used a different approach. She calls this approach “the story that I’m making up” or the “the story that I’ve created is.” This approach not only dismantles the attack but it opens the door for quicker and more intimate engagement with the other person. It gets you closer to resolution and many times faster too. Again, this approach is difficult because it requires a level of maturity, poise and resolve to say you know what let me not be quick to condemn but let me be slow to wrath. Let me serve the other person with consideration and discard the hostility. Even if that person disagrees with you will at least done your part in effectively communicating your true feelings.

Conflict is tough. Heck simple communication is even tougher. But we don’t have to go about it in a hostile way. We don’t have to get our panties in a wad and create a unnecessarily combative society where we sensationalize every bit of our communication with each other. When there is a tough topic at hand, we can go about it with a calm resolve by presenting our views and stances on the matter and if the other vehemently disagrees. We can simply agree to disagree and move on. No need to be-labor the point and try and combatively convince the other to see things your way. Simply tap out like the WWF wrestlers and exit the ring with your dignity in tact. No need to fight useless battles with keyboard ninjas. No need to clapback on social media for the sake of setting the record straight. While I don’t endorse any politics on this podcast, I’ll say this: like Michelle Obama says when they go low you go high. We call all do our part with creating a less hostile culture when we learn to effectively communicate with one another.

Some people refuse to admit or see the contradiction in their argument even when you’ve clearly pointed it out to them. I believe they often refuse to do this because admitting what they said earlier that opposes what they just said makes them appear wrong or “found out.” Like aha gotcha! These people do not like to be discovered in this way so they use verbal gymnastics to weasel their way out of a corner in efforts to “clarify” what they are trying to say. A solid and secure individual who is in conversation with a person like this will first recognize this trait in the other person and then gracefully concede the matter at hand because they know trying to get the other person to recognize the contradiction is futile and a waste of words, energy and time.

My Take on the State of the Travel Industry

As someone who has had the opportunity to travel for more than 20 years, I’ve seen the evolution of the modern travel industry first hand.

I’ve seen how the travel industry (air, cruise, hotel) has lowered the barrier of entry from a price standpoint to allow more people the opportunity to participate. While this is a great offering that is becoming more available to the global society, it’s expansion is also showing signs of serious side effects. Effects, that I can only hope are being addressed by industry suppliers.

The air industry, in my opinion, is showing the greatest signs of an impending collapse. Major airport hubs are becoming more and more packed during off-peak travel times. No longer can you expect the airport to be empty at 5:30am in the morning on a Tuesday. In fact, off-peak is becoming a thing of the past due to the number of routes being jammed packed into the capacity planning of airliners. While their are certainly less crowded times than others, I’ve seen where this has become fewer and far between. The airline operation has truly evolved into a 24/7/365 business.

With the travel industry’s inclusion of technological automation and the “do-it-yourself scan,” on-site support to match the growing number of travelers is dwindling in droves. This, I believe, is causing an even greater jam in the system as one of two things oftentimes happen. Either the scan machine does not “read or work” or the users do not know how to navigate/operate to complete the task they need to (especially in an efficient amount of time which does not hold up the line of people waiting to use the machine). So travelers jockey for the attention of the single worker assigned to that area; which often causes additional frustration for both the traveler and the airline worker.

Corporations in the travel industry are doing what corporations do best. Making policies that only support their bottom line. If their product is truly “people” then their recognition of these growing issues would begin to reflect them.

The other day, I was discussing several issues surrounding air travel with a close relative and I mentioned to them that I felt like the air industry was getting too packed and that eventually there would be some sort of major collapse because of it. I mentioned to this person the need for serious reform as it pertains to the boarding process, flight schedules and connections. I suggested that either the boarding process be extended to allow more time or that the size of the planes decreased so that the process could be more efficient. The other individual also mentioned that airliners should board from the back of the plane to the front, but I quickly reminded them that this would cause a major revenue hit to airliners as they market “priority boarding” as a desirable purchase item. Additionally, boarding from the back would only work with assigned seating, as individuals flying on airliners that offer “open seating” would never willing choose the back of the plane. There were other alternatives and solutions that were discussed as it pertained to the boarding process (carry on bag issues) and overall air travel experience. All in all though, there was a mutual agreement that reform needed to take place. As the rise in what should be simple processes have become time wasting and frustrating complex issues. Because of this many people like myself love to travel, but HATE the flying experience.

Air travel is not the only one bubbling up with an agglomeration of issues. Major news outlets have reported on several stories over the past few years about the rise in tourism – also known as overtourism. In my opinion, overtourism is comparable to climate change. Many people are providing evidence of it’s real life affects, but very few people are taking it seriously.

Elizabeth Becker talks about the effects of overtourism in her 2013 publication Overbooked. She highlights how the cruise line industry, which is largely unregulated, has shown it’s greatest impact on our environment and it’s workers. Many liners have below minimum wage paid staff and their high volumes of gas emissions are disrupting sea creatures as they barrel through underwater marine life with their enormous propellers. I wrote about my first hand experience of this in my blogpost How Global Warming Affected My First Trip to Alaska.

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The environmental effects though are not just as a result of cruise ships, as foot traffic to new found destinations have also shown it’s impact to places that have historically had fewer tourist. New Zealand is one of these places and they are doing their best to respond to the rise in interested visitor’s over the past decade by imposing a tourist tax on newcomer’s to the island.

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Between the Louvre workers striking due to overcrowding and everyone vying for that picturesque photo to post on social media the state of the travel industry is unstable at best.

I am always one to promote travel and tourism because I recognize how rich of an experience it is for the global body, however I also recognize that the travel industry has become more and more volatile and there is need for serious reform. I’m also not trying to be a doom and gloom kind of person, but it’s difficult to leave to not talk about issues I hope to see resolved for an industry I care about so much about.

Tell me what you think about the state of the travel industry in the comments below.

 

Podcast Episode – Don’t Judge Me!

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Click here to listen!

Transcription:

Don’t judge me! We hear and sometimes ourselves say this phrase heavily in our everyday vernacular. Culture has swept this word up and ran with it in a hash tag frenzy. But have you ever stopped to think about what saying this phrase truly means? Or have you just blindly adopted its mantra as your personal defense mechanism for everything “out of the ordinary” or socially unacceptable? Today’s podcast will challenge the cultural use of this phrase from a linguistics viewpoint. First, lets extract the word judge from the phrase, as it is the key term in this phrase. What does the word judge mean? In it’s most basic definition, the word judge simply means to decide. Now I don’t know about you, but I decide or make decisions about everything everyday. There is not a moment where I’m not deciding or making an estimate about something. I would gather to say that you, being a human being, do the same as well. Thus being “non-judgmental” is not humanly possible because even when we don’t make a decision we by default are still making a decision to not make a decision. Let that sink in for a moment.

Now when I make these decisions, the decision can either be a favorable or not so favorable decision or judgement. Based upon this neutrality of action, we can conclude that the word in and of itself does not automatically hold to a negative connotation. When a judge in a courthouse declares a judgement to the plaintiff, that verdict can either be a good and favorable judgement or unfavorable. If it is good, do you think the plaintiff would illicit a shout “don’t judge me!” Absolutely not, they would instead scream out “judge me! Oh please make judgment!”

Unfortunately, what we have done in society is transposed the word judge for condemn. We’ve removed its neutrality and ascribed a negative trait to it. Additionally, we have positioned ourselves and/or cultural norms as the standard of goodness and made them the “just judge.”

For believers in Jesus, biblical scripture points to God as the only true and good Just Judge. Warning us that there is a present and future reality where God is and will judge (or make a decision) regarding our beliefs and actions. The standard of judgement will be based on both the criteria established in the written text and through the revealing of God’s self through the established creation. Based on one’s response to either of the two, there is and will be a decision made regarding their eternal spirit being after crossing over in death. The judgement can either be good and favorable (i.e. spending eternity in paradise with Jesus/God) or unfavorable (i.e. spending eternal separation from Jesus/God).

Having established that God is the ultimate and only true Just Judge, we are admonished to check ourselves when we operate using our abilities to judge. Since we are made in the image of God, we have this ability to judge or decide. Thus it is not wrong of you to exercise this and judge people, yourself or external things. In fact, there are several passages in scripture that implore us to “judge rightly:”

Proverbs 31:9 encourages us to “open [our] mouth[s], judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

John 7:24 gives us tips on how to exercise this it says “do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

Matthew 7:1-5 reminds us of the power of utilizing our abilities to judge it says “judge not, that you be not judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eyes, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

And Romans 2:1-3 states, “therefore you have no excuse, o [person], every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, [o person] you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself – that you will escape the judgment of God?

What these passages are saying is that yes you have an ability to judge or make a decision about people, but because you are blinded to your own faults and short comings you are warned not to make yourself the standard of righteousness. Because no one is righteous or operating in perfection. In fact true righteousness is when one first seeks to admit their shortcomings (not in a false humility way) and serve God and people through humble love. Theologian Martin Luther puts it this way in his book Commentary on Romans:

“The righteous invariably try to see their own faults and overlook those of others. Again, they are eager to recognize the good things in others and to disregard those of their own. On the other hand the unrighteousness look for good in themselves and for evil in others.”

This is invariably due to both people’s addiction to goodness and self-righteousness. Creating themselves and their life rules as the standard.

Because we know the heart is desperately wicked and who can trust or know if we have to exercise humble caution even when we think we maybe be judging rightly. At the end of the day, no one is without blame. In exercising our ability to judge/make decisions about ourselves and others we can first take a look at the person in the mirror and take the “plank out of our eyes.” Even when we feel we have done a decent job of removing that plank (or fault of ours) we can still operate in love and humility to our fellow persons when we encourage them to do the same (i.e. take the speck out of their eyes).

This is obviously tough work – easier said than done. At the very least though we can begin exercising this new thought pattern of what it means to judge or use our best judgement. Let’s move away from the culturally influenced phrase and begin reclaiming this key part of our everyday lives.