Spirited Communication

Tag: choices

Getting Untangled

This week I brought in my Christmas decorations from outside my home and the power cords and timers that I used to light them at the appropriate time. I only had a short time to do that and so I piled the decorations, cords and timers on a workbench in my garage.

Today I finished packing the decorations and cords. When I looked at one 100-ft. power cord, I saw it was a tangled mess.

The cord was still functional; if I plugged it in it would provide power to whatever I plugged into the other end. But because it was tangled, it was more difficult to use. It couldn’t stretch to the distance that it was made to reach.

Isn’t that like us when we get tangled up in emotional and spiritual dilemmas? We can’t stretch ourselves to think and do some things that we are made to tackle.

Just like I had to work to untangle the power cord, we sometimes have to untangle our hurts, habits and hangups with the help of friends, family or professionals.

I felt so much better when the power cord was neatly wrapped around the holder. If you’re feeling tangled up today, use your faith, friends and family to begin loosening whatever is entangling you.

An uncluttered home, mind and soul is so freeing!

New Day, New Year

This is the view that I captured this morning from my daughter’s kitchen window in Tucson, AZ. What a magnificent image that captures the awe and excitement of the new year.

Regardless of whether or not you set resolutions for 2024, each day will bring opportunities and challenges, beauty and sorrow, activity and rest.

I’ve recently had a spiritual boost by joining a Christian church that brings a powerful worship experience and relevant sermons soaked in biblical truth. My 2024 will include intentional effort to walk closer with my Lord and to appreciate His many blessings, including sunrises and sunsets.

Happy New Day and New Year!

Reducing Emotional and/or Spiritual Clutter

Emotional and/or spiritual clutter isn't as apparent as physical clutter, but they can be even more harmful.

Emotional and/or spiritual clutter isn’t as apparent as physical clutter, but it can be even more harmful.

I shared seven tips for reducing physical clutter in my previous post. As I said in that post, it is easier to hide clutter when it is emotional or spiritual in nature. It also is a more complex matter than is reducing physical clutter such as straightening a closet or desktop.

Physical clutter is an undeniable reality to most of us. Even hoarders can be convinced that their chosen lifestyle needs to change.

That isn’t necessarily the case with people experiencing emotional or spiritual clutter. Emotional and spiritual clutter can lead to negative and damaging behavioral choices, but it isn’t always clear that someone’s struggles are rooted in emotional or spiritual clutter.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, clutter is “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”

Emotional and spiritual clutter can impede movement or reduce effectiveness of one’s career or entire life. Think about friends or coworkers you have known over the years who seemed to “sabotage” relationships or jobs. They may have had an overabundance of emotional clutter that overwhelmed them and led to their acting irrationally or inappropriately.

Don’t get me wrong: I know that we all are emotional beings, and can have a momentary emotional “meltdown.” I’ve had plenty of them! I’m suggesting that we all gauge our level of emotional clutter, through self-examination and feedback from trusted individuals such as friends, family, or a counselor. We want to look at the possibility that we are impeding our growth and effectiveness because of emotional clutter.

Spiritual clutter is more difficult to discuss here, because my audience includes people who identify as Atheist, Evangelical Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Humanist, Wicca, Agnostic and Whatever They Read This Week.

Someone who doesn’t have or accept spiritual beliefs won’t see the need to remove spiritual clutter from their lives. Most of us, however, have considered questions such as,

  • “Where did all matter come from?”
  • “Do we have a spirit, a soul, an essence that continues after our bodies die?”
  • “Is there one or more divine beings that created and rule the universe?”
  • “Why do evil, death and decay exist—and can they be reversed or eliminated?”

Spiritual clutter occurs when someone allows their thoughts and minds to be filled with scattered thoughts that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.” To me, that would include people who spend way too much time reading, talking and thinking about the many religions and belief systems known to mankind–without ever weeding out those that don’t make sense, or demand belief without evidence of believability.

As a Christian, I believe that God is manifested in three equal, distinct parts—one of which is a Spirit. I believe that the Spirit indwells believers and can provide guidance and understanding. No, I do not have scientific evidence that this is true. I say it to show why some people seem to be able to cut through the clutter of spiritual questions. We have help.

Consider reducing your spiritual clutter by taking time to list out your beliefs, and stop investigating religions or belief systems that don’t bring you a sense of peace, or that just don’t make sense.


7 Tips To Reduce Physical Clutter

In my previous post, I suggested that we look for ways to remove clutter from our lives. That clutter could be physical, emotional, spiritual, or some combination of them all.

Knowing that this will be easier said than done for some of us, I’m allocating the next couple of posts to specific tips for reducing clutter.

Today, let’s take a look at physical clutter.

We may be able to hide emotional and spiritual clutter from people around us, but physical clutter tends to stand out. Unless we keep people away from our desk and surrounding office space, closets, garage and basement storage area, we WILL be found out.

A close family member and his spouse continue to rebuff my suggestions that they invite me to visit with them at their home. He is clear about the reason: they have too much “stuff” scattered throughout their home, and he doesn’t want to:

  • Clean and organize it
  • Deal with the reaction of visitors like me, if we would see the “mess.”

When I point my finger at my relative, I absolutely have three fingers pointed back at me. My wife and kids have commented several times regarding the number of boxes and bags that I have filled with notes and reference material for books and other projects that have not yet been completed (or started, in many cases).
Here are tips that I’ve found helpful, as I’ve begun to remove physical clutter from my home and workplace:

  1. Admit that you have a clutter problem. Because most people don’t spend time seeking out individuals who might require an intervention from a clutter issue, face reality if more than one person comments about the clutter in your workplace, car or home. Accept that your clutter is particularly noticeable—and that you probably could benefit from reducing it.Ask yourself: ”Would I feel less stressed and more efficient if I were to reduce the clutter in my life?”
  2. Get help—from an “accountability buddy.” At a minimum, you will achieve more if you ask someone to serve as an objective voice of reason and accountability. As you begin to decide what to keep and remove, this buddy will keep you focused and help with difficult decisions. The accountability buddy also will provide encouragement as you achieve small successes that you might not otherwise consider worth celebrating.
  3. Take it one step, one closet, one box at a time. I began my decluttering project recently by emptying one of the many bags that I have stored in my home office and basement storage area. I put aside a few items that were important and useful, threw away or shred many documents that were unnecessary, and made digital memories of items that I want to remember, but don’t need to keep.
  4. Digitize! I have accumulated a great number of trophies, certificates and knickknacks from my participation in professional organizations including Toastmasters and the International Association of Business Communicators—as well as from work-related conferences, workshops and promotional events. I’ve begun to scan the documents that I want to remember (drawings made by my kids when they were preteens are particularly valuable to me). I use my iPhone or a digital camera to photograph bulky items such as trophies. Then I either find a place that accepts those items (like the Nationwide Trophy Recycling Program), or I dispose of them.
  5. Donate. In addition to old trophies, look at other items to donate to worthy causes.
  6. Organize. Once you have cleared a shelf, a closet or a desktop, only put back items that are necessary, and be intentional about how you use that space, so that you aren’t tempted to put something there that doesn’t maintain the space’s primary purpose.
  7. Repeat. Understand that reducing physical clutter is not a one-time event. It is a daily necessity. Use discretion as you make choices regarding whether to bring new items into your work or living spaces.

Have you used any techniques for reducing physical clutter? I’d love to hear them. Either comment here or send me an email.

Next post: Reducing emotional and spiritual clutter

As Part of ‘Spring Cleaning,’ Remove Clutter

Physical, emotional and spiritual clutter can take a toll on us!

Physical, emotional and spiritual clutter can take a toll on us!

“It’s interesting to see that people had so much clutter even thousands of years ago. The only way to get rid of it all was to bury it, and then some archaeologist went and dug it all up.”
― Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington

What would an archeologist dig up 1,000 years from now if he or she found your home or office?

What would a counselor dig up if he or she talked with you about the physical, emotional and/or spiritual “clutter” currently in your life?

Use today as an opportunity to begin to remove clutter from your life.

“A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar.”
― Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty

Blog Closed Today Due to an Empty Tomb

Easter cross display at Joy MG_2503

A nun prays during the service at the Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was attacked with grenades by militants almost three years ago, in Garissa, Kenya Sunday, April 5, 2015. Easter Sunday's ceremony was laden with emotion for the several hundred members of Garissa's Christian minority, which is fearful following the recent attack on Garissa University College by al-Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamic extremist group, who singled out Christians for killing, though al-Shabab has a long record of killing Muslims over the years. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

A nun prays during the service at the Our Lady of Consolation Church, which was attacked with grenades by militants almost three years ago, in Garissa, Kenya Sunday, April 5, 2015. Easter Sunday’s ceremony was laden with emotion for the several hundred members of Garissa’s Christian minority, which is fearful following the recent attack on Garissa University College by al-Shabab, a Somalia-based Islamic extremist group, who singled out Christians for killing, though al-Shabab has a long record of killing Muslims over the years. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

We’re celebrating Easter (Resurrection) Sunday today, and no message that I could write would be as important as the message that came about 2,000 years ago from an empty tomb.

That message can bring hope, even in times of terrible suffering and injustice, such as the massacre on Friday in Kenya.

I hope that you today are safe and enjoying the company of friends, family or caring strangers!

Helpful Reader Gets a Free Plug

My thanks to freelance writer Hyrum Taffer (@HyrumTaffer on Twitter, who emailed to tell me that one of the links on an archived post of mine needed to be updated.

Hyrum then politely asked me to consider including a link to an infographic that provides data regarding teen drug use and the value of parental awareness. The broken link in my original post was to the DARE project, another teen drug awareness site.

When you come across broken links in sites you visit (and you will!), rather than ignore them, consider whether informing the site’s owner might open an opportunity for you to connect with a person, site or message that could benefit you or others.

'Have the Conversation' graphic


If Your Communications Just Blow, Here’s How to Make Them Really Suck

Keep reading to get to the sucky part!

Communication channels and methods continue to evolve, but the organizations where I have worked continue to rely heavily on the “blow” process, where information is pushed out to audiences. However, this cascade method is ineffective for several reasons:

  1. Lack of Engagement: Like a lecture from a parent, push communications tend to be one-sided. The audience receives information but has no opportunity to interact or provide feedback. The audience too often quickly becomes disinterested and ignores the message.
  2. Relevance: Information pushed to large groups can’t usually be tailored to individual preferences or needs. This shotgun approach hinders the message from resonating with every recipient.
  3. Information Overload: Please stop listening for a moment to the pings, chimes and assorted alert noises that are coming from your phone, laptop, smart watch and Alexa to acknowledge that people are bombarded with information. Push communications contribute to information overload, making your message just one more noisy nuisance.

That’s why push communications just blow!

Pull communications, on the other hand, can revolutionize the way we interact with audiences, particularly through social media, messaging and collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack. Here’s how:

  1. Engagement: Pull communications “suck them in” to your messages. By attracting attention through compelling content, individuals actively choose to engage. This two-way dialogue flows through comments, likes, retweets and shares, creating a more engaged audience.
  2. Relevance and Personalization: Pull methods rely on providing content that is relevant to the audience’s interests. Individuals seek out your messages because they find value in the information being shared. Algorithms on social media platforms can tailor content to their preferences and increase the relevance and impact of your message.
  3. Virality and Reach: Who doesn’t want to be an influencer of some sort? Engaging content that sparks interaction goes viral. When people share your posts, your reach extends beyond the initial audience. Effective pull communications leverage the network effect and the results can be exponentially strong.
  4. Feedback and Adaptation: Pull communications allow for instant feedback. By monitoring how audiences interact with your content, you can adapt your strategies in real-time to better meet their needs and preferences. This iterative process keeps your communication dynamic and responsive.

Done correctly, your communications will pull an audience magnetically!

How to Pull It Off

  1. Create Compelling Content: Your content needs to capture attention right from the headline. My headline was intentionally startling. It got you to read this post, didn’t it? Of course once you were sucked in, the actual message needed to deliver to keep you engaged. Do that through the use of interesting hooks, visuals and storytelling.
  2. Encourage Interaction: Make it easy for your audience to engage with your content. Ask questions, invite comments and encourage shares.
  3. Use Multiple Platforms: Reach your audience where they are. Experiment by posting to various social media platforms and collaboration sites, tailoring your content to fit the context of each platform.
  4. Monitor and Adapt: Keep track of engagement metrics and be willing to pivot your strategy based on the feedback and interaction you receive.

The Role of Creativity

No matter how you choose to communicate, creativity is key. A boring message is going to be boring unless delivered with a creative touch. Communication is part art and part science. You can take lessons on how to paint beautiful word pictures, but you may be better off hiring a creative communication professional with proven success in turning dreck into verbal pearls.

Reach out to me or leave a comment if you would like to discuss this further—especially if you are ready to leave behind communications that just blow.

Another Sober Celebrity Bites the Dust


GQ: Are you sober these days?
Bruce Willis: I had been sober [for a while]. But once I realized that I wasn’t gonna run myself off the pier of life with alcohol, drinking vodka out of the bottle every day… I have wine now, mostly when I eat.

With the recent news that actor Bruce Willis has decided that two decades of sobriety was enough, and that he now can handle wine with meals, I thought about a post I wrote about putting people on pedastals. The point that can help you in your communications is that your decisions affect your “public brand,” and you usually will benefit by having someone to act as a filter/gatekeeper/trusted advisor when you are planning to publish anything that might be sensitive or open to criticism.

In the case of Bruce Willis, online articles that detailed his deliberate decision to end his sobriety—and then tell the world through GQ—resulted in a flood of comments from recovering alcoholics, who felt that Willis was sadly delusional if he believed that an alcoholic could successfully drink again.

Here’s what I wrote in a post on my Commakazi Speek blog, titled, “We tend to fall off of pedestals and soap boxes.” Just add Bruce’s name to the list!

I don’t know whether Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana), Tom Cruise or the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. are familiar with any 12-Step Program, but they could benefit from some helpful guidance offered by those programs.

Most of the well-known 12-Step Programs (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous) operate under a set of principles known as the Twelve Traditions. Number 11 states, “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” Number 12 states, “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

My friends who taught me about 12-Step Programs said Traditions 11 and 12 protect both the individual and the 12-Step Program as a whole. They protect the individual because they discourage a member of the program from being “put on a pedestal” and becoming known as an “expert” on addictions or compulsive behavior in the media. That media spotlight could bring pressure that might, in combination with a failure to “work the program,” prove detrimental to the member. The traditions protect the 12-Step Program because it won’t be linked in the public’s mind with the failure of any individual member.

Take an example of a celebrity who goes on a media tour, stating that he or she is an alcoholic, but has stopped drinking thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous. If that celebrity later drinks, and that is reported in the media, some other active alcoholic might say, “I guess that A.A. Program doesn’t work.” Regardless of the fact that millions of people have successfully found and maintained sobriety through the A.A. Program, this person sees the failure of one famous person as representing the effectiveness of an entire program.

When 15-year-old Miley professes her Christianity–then agrees to be photographed in a sexually-tinged pose, she falls off the pedestal. When Rev. Wright engages in a clash of religion, politics and race, he stumbles from his soap box. When Tom Cruise appears irrational, then attacks someone for trying to retain rationality, he slides off of the pedestal and upsets the soap box.

No one is perfect, of course. None of us on a bad day would want to be held up to the media spotlight. When circumstances or good fortune, or old-fashioned hard work culminate in media attention, those 12-Step Traditions can be helpful in maintaining our perspective, and the reputation of the organizations or movements we hold dear.

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