"Monday 5 Things" with D. Paul Graham


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Photo: D. Paul Graham

Monday 5 Things…..Shaped…..

We are full-on into a new chapter of yet another year. My melancholic mindset that happens each year around this time gets mixed with the joy and anticipation of a blank canvas for a new year. I have spent countless hours the past few weeks looking at scanned photographs of times long past. Some images are crystal clear, bright and in focus; others are grainy, dusty, murky and out of focus. Sort of like the memories. Today’s M5T considers what molds us, what shapes us, what prepares us, and what builds on who we really are.

1. Firsts

Whether gains or losses, these first foundational moments that we experience so often shape our lives. Your first friend. The pain felt the first time someone close to you dies. Losing your virginity. The first time you realized your purpose and passion in life…and the time you finally believed in both enough to center your life around such purpose. Your first apartment, house, first job. Your first love. The first time you understood what it meant to love. Your first time driving, first time flying a plane. The first time you remember a gut-wrenching laugh or the first time you remember sobbing in utter despair. The first time you created something that was from your mind, with your hands.

2. Defining Moments

Pivotal moments in life. Some small, some huge. Those moments where we have to face, accept, and then push through adversity. Coming face to face with suppressed abuse, hurts, fears, and letting them go. Saying no. Saying yes. Making decisions that will hurt others, but you know you need to make. Defining and living your core values, the essence of who you want to be. Marriage. Divorce. Births. Deaths. That moment when you decisively and purposefully start working toward your goals and dreams.

3. Relationships

Family, friends and coworkers all shape our lives. Those relationships can be positive or negative, can build-up or destroy, can be safe or toxic. All bring out emotions of joy and anger, peace and frustration, trust and love. Our relationships can be balanced or off-kilter. Relationships can mold our opinions and points of view. They can move mindsets from “me” to “us”. Our strongest relationships are the most honest in giving and receiving. Our most healthy relationships shape and build our self-esteem, belief in ourselves, and are a path to self-expression.

4. Faith vs Religion

Understanding the difference between the two can shape our world view. Religion is man reaching for God. Faith is God reaching for man. Faith says, “I’ve sinned, and I can be forgiven.” Religion says “you have to earn your forgiveness.” Faith can be questioned, challenged and survive doubts and crisis’. Religion leaves no room for such challenges. Religion is ritual, man-made rules and organizations, most of which ultimately get screwed up by man. Faith is belief, a trust, and a confidence in the unseen.

5. Life Lessons

Lessons that life throws our way shape us, change us, and make us adapt and correct. Those lessons shape our lives, teaching us to live intentionally, to learn how to be humble in success, and how to embrace what we learn from failures. Life is full of opportunities, gained and lost; some immediately recognized, others unseen until later. Life lessons can make us emotionally hard or gentle. They can move us to decide to love or hate, to communicate or to shut down, to wallow in sorrow, or to pick ourselves up and start again. Life lessons shape by closing some doors and opening others. Life is full of risks and choices. Your life is ultimately shaped by the responsibility you take for those choices.

Here’s to a week of embracing what has shaped you, to new firsts, healthy relationships, and accepting life’s lessons.

© 2019 D. Paul Graham, all rights reserved.

D. Paul Graham is passionate about people, culture, photography and business. He has embraced his wanderlust with his travels around the globe and is at peace with his need for spirited drives in all things automotive.

You can find M5T each Monday here on www.southmag.com and by friending D. Paul Graham on Facebook. Paul is also a contributing photographer to South Magazine. His photographic work can be found on Instagram @dpgraham and at www.imageGRAHAM.com. Your feedback is always welcome. Email Paul at dpg@imagegraham.com