Why Networking is Important

Photo: Autumn Pine – A square artistic photograph of the changing colors of a pine tree at Autumn in Midwest America – Square Color Photograph Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella

Why balancing your relationships online and offline is important in life, and how it can create more and positive impact.

On my social media channels I usually don’t post a picture directly, like many other artists do, along with sales jargon or a call to action. Rather, I share a blog post with the picture, or some copy that tells about the details of the subject photographed. In other words, social media, I think, as Seth Godin says, is used when something is working, not a tactic that causes it to work.

This blog, for example, is another platform that helps much with (my) networking, as well as a place that fosters the big fish theory: By engaging with the smallest viable audience, you gain the reputation and trust you need to move to ever bigger audiences. People usually know, like, and trust who they have developed relationships with.

And this is what I do on social media (presently on MeWe and GETTR), by just engaging in conversations and not worry about what happens next.

The best way I know to explain this is from when I was the executive director for my local Chamber of Commerce until a few years ago, how we’d have events for members to develop relationships and network, and how many of them saw this as opportunity to hand out their business cards to talk about what they do.

However, the members who created the most business were interested in the mission of the Chamber and helped out with the different committees, not worrying about what’s in it for them. Because when you get to working with other people on projects for the community, you get to know them as well.

So, when networking either online or off line, it is best to just give of yourself and your interests for the benefit of others. Do not worry about what you get out of it.

That when you develop relationships others get to know you, they start talking to others about the person that you are, and the quality of your talents. What happens then is word spreads about what you do and how you help people.

Yes, this can take weeks or years. However, you probably know more people who are spending years on social media and at social events who are not making any difference with relationships or sales.

Compare this to the big fish who spend years concentrating on each person in front of them, in the moment, and making a positive difference in the lives of others, helping solve their problems.

The Climate of Our Lives

Photo: Autumn Leaves and Raindrops – Raindrop patterns on a Autumn leaf – Image processed in-camera Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella

“Prayer is to our soul what rain is to the soil. Fertilize the soil ever so richly, it will remain barren unless fed by frequent rains.”

~ Saint John Vianney

There has been a lot of talk lately, even from the pope, about global warming. How some say the climate change is in a state of emergency, and how others have a different opinion. Though both sides of the camp agree that the earth is warming up, and that it is best to be nice to it, global warming or not.

As much as all of this is important, I think the state of emergency in America is not as much about the climate of our environment, but more about the climate of our lives. We need to invest more time in the silence of listening to our own voice instead of others, say, on social media and the like, and being an positive example to others in our lives.

More specifically, American’s need to all do a better job at embracing the Constitution and the Ten Commandments. Many people today in our culture have made themselves their own God, we turn to each other for answers that only God can provide. And if you watch the news or social media with a keen eye, you will see there are movements like pro-abortion, gay pride, or gun control to name a few, who are just a small group of the masses making it look like everyone agrees.

It goes back to the saying the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The business model of social networks has replaced the simple act of being in community. The solution I think is how we often place people and things before God, often without realizing it. We put our happiness into the hands of other people – our spouse, our friends, or our children, or co-workers, the government.

Yet, this always falls flat because another person can never fulfill the deepest desires of our hearts. No matter how much you love your spouse or children. When we have God at the center of our lives and every relationship, those human relationships will be right-ordered and bring even more joy to our lives.

A priest I know said that he often wil tell new couples that he is helping to prepare for marriage, “Your future spouse cannot fulfill your deepest desires. Only God can.” Put God first in your individual lives and in your marriage and then your love will be taken to a new level. As each of you grows closer to Jesus, you will grow closer to one another.

If you talk to the people in prison ministry, they will tell you most inmates, and mass shooters, come from a home where they didn’t have a father as a positive influence in their lives. Too many of us depend on the government to solve our problems, like creating a law so everyone can have a gun, instead of doing the deep work of loving through example those in our lives on how to do the right thing. Instead we have sports figures creating confusion about how to (not) respect the American flag and kneeling for the Cross.

The fiber of our country, and the Constitution, is to embrace the Judeo – Christian beliefs. When we choose to not rule out the Ten Commandments, by living them, all else will fall into place. Yes we can have freedom of religion, after we don’t rule out the beliefs that founded this country. Again, the reason everything is falling apart is because the ones making all the noise lack structure, and don’t respect the structure already in place.

As much as you hear about the latest scandal in the Catholic church, people are flocking to the church all over the world because they lack structure in their lives. The Catholic Mass and the Catholic Sacraments provide structure. One priest abuse is too many, but you would think the whole church is full of abusive priests, when it is a small, small group. I would suspect about the same percentage of parents who abuse their own children.

This all goes back to how we need to have a heart for others before ourselves, and to seek the causes of the problems in our in our own lives and work to correct it. We need a return to making prayer, and dependence on God, as the foundation of our being. If you talk with people who work in hospice or cancer, they will attest to the positive difference, and healing experience, from people who have prayer in their lives.

Let us start by praying for our country, and for our world, every morning when we wake up to a new day, please pray for me, and know that I am praying for all of you.

My post here today is a bit longer than usual, so sorry for the rant. I just think this needs to be said. This is my opinion, and I don’t mean that I have all the answers.

Keep Your Focus

Photo: Weeds – Square Sepia Photograph Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella – Note: This image has intentional soft focus.

Sometimes weeds are beautiful to look at, other times can grow so much when not cut back they can choke out flowers and other landscape growing around them.

In life, weeds are the distractions and noise that keep us from doing the deep work that we are called to do.

In our spiritual lives, weeds are the things that keep us from God. When you give God the place to speak, He has a lot to say.

All of this to say, that we need weeds in our lives to help us keep our focus, and the fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good ones.

The World Is A Great Gift

Photo: The World Is A Great Gift – weather illuminated clouds above the trees. – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

As I rise up to each passing new day, as with the passing of the clouds, I’m not only thankful for the gift of the beauty of this world, but also thankful to God the giver of this gift.

To fully appreciate this, I think we need to make time for solitude: A state in which you spend time alone, or with God, in thought and free from the input from other minds or interactions (such as listening to the news, podcasts, or reading books).

Because we live in a war torn world shows how we can easily take this world for granted. Solitude, when kept in balance, can keep things in right perspective.

How To Beat The System

Photo: Sunset on the Ranch – Copyright 2012 Frank J Casella

Back in the day when I started to drive a car, the police were in the beginning phase of using radars to detect the speed you were driving. What followed was the radar detectors so that you would know if you were in the vicinity of the radar.

Well, over the years there has been this back and forth of new radars or detectors as the signals kept getting upgraded. So I recall asking my late father at the time what this is all about. He told me not to worry about it .. that the best way to beat the system was to simply drive the speed limit.

This way there is no reason for the radar or the detector, because we are following the laws or the rules. But, there is something in us as humans that is competitive, or something. Today you might compare this to digital communications, and privacy and security with search engines, browsers, and email.

Enter the Vivaldi browser: “In a world where what we read online is being monitored, stored, and sold to advertisers, Vivaldi Feed Reader is a breath of fresh air. Skip the algorithms and create a private news feed of the latest content from your favorite sources.”

Short of the long, We are PAYING, with our data, to use these services. But we still consider them to be free, which makes us very lenient on them when we get poor value.”

The only way it seems to stay out from under the radar is to stay off the platforms as much as possible, at least for now. Privacy and security is not something you should have to pay for on the free internet.

Truth and Transparency

Photo: Truth and Transparency Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

The best way to build trust with others, is to be truthful with transparency.

When we rationalize, or cloud things over because we are afraid how others will respond to us, then are we being true to ourselves?

If we don’t know who we are, then how can we expect to be transparent with others, to trust the person they think we are.

Resolving Conflicts

Light and Wood Monochrome – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella. Sometimes, it is important to seek for grace though the darkness, before we can experience elegance from the Light.

The start of strife is like the opening of a dam;
check a quarrel before it bursts forth!

Proverbs 17:14

The arguer insist on his own way.

A conflict resolver looks for a resolution instead of trying to win an argument.

Love means looking out for the other persons interest.

Unresolved conflicts stand as barriers to unity, whether it be friendships, co-workers, politics, or a marriage, etc.

If we don’t find a way to meet in the middle, we become enemies instead of teammates.

So, stop trying to win an argument, and start trying to understand each other.

Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.

Philippians 2: 3-4

Letting Go To Grow

Photo: Magnificence in the Sky – Square Color Landscape Art Photograph Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella – A magnificent cloud show illuminated by the sunrise, above the silhouetted trees. This image was softened a bit for presentation.

The more we hold on to, the less we give away.

The more we give away, the less we have to hold on to.

Letting go teaches us there is more to life, than just ourselves.

When we give ourselves away, it teaches us how to grow.

The Cure For Feeling Alone

Photo: ‘Remember You Are Precious‘ – Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella – “ When you are feeling lonely, when you feel unwanted, when you feel sick and forgotten, remember you are precious to Him.” — Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

It is normal for all of us to feel lonely at times, and sometimes wonder if life is worth living. To lose site of our gifts and abilities, and purpose.

The good news is there is a cure for this. It is to use the gifts that we are given, to then give back to others. Gifts are meant to be shared.

When you reach out and give, always thinking of others before yourself, a tricky thing happens — that is LOVE – wanting the best for the other person without expecting anything in return.

Whether you are a good listener, a person who provides a service, in the military or first responder to provide for community or country, a parent or teacher to impact lives and minds, making crafts or cooking, touching or hugging, and the many other ways to make a positive difference in the world, you see your value when you thrive on giving.

Author Gary Chapman calls this The Five Love LanguagesWords of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch – whether it’s in a friendship or marriage, work relationships, parenting, or in the community, the idea is to first know and share your love language, then learn to identify and meet others with their love language.

Many times we mostly feel alone when we have an unmet emotional need. When you go out and give to others, this is the best way to find your gifts, abilities, and purpose. …. The best way to find a friend is to be one.

The Benefits Of Being In Community

Photo: ‘Color Birdbath with Flowers’ – Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella: A red and yellow bird bath with purple flowers. and peeling paint.

When I saw this birdbath today, I not only noticed the textures and colors, but also thought about how birds are in community. A birdbath is like the community swimming pool. If you will.

With social media relevant today, why does it seem so many people say they are lonely? It is because our bodies are designed to have interaction with each other, to laugh with and touch each other. The power if a smile is priceless. Yet, there is so much of our society that works towards individualism, pulling us apart.

For example at my church here in America are a number of interest groups, like for youth, or scripture study, or expectant mothers, yet when we worship it is everyone together in community.

If you are into newsletters and mailing lists like I am, you are aware that you can now segment your subscribers into category lists. However, with the mailing lists that I manage, I keep everyone together in community. So that means I have separate categories in one email, and everyone gets (sent) it, they just look at the sections of the newsletter that interests them.

I think that community is where we grow by learning from each other. When we share our differences with each other we learn more (or ask questions) about ourselves. So to pull this all together, the birdbath is a symbol of nature, that God created birds to bath themselves not only to be clean but to have community … there is much in nature us humans can learn from.

Every Life Has A Story

Fog covers city skyscrapers down Michigan Avenue during the morning commute in Chicago Illinois.
Photo: ‘Chicago City Fog’ – Square Color Photo Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella – Fog covers city skyscrapers down Michigan Avenue during the morning commute in Chicago Illinois.

When I look at all the people in the world, I not only see them as a person, but see the story of their lives.

Because it is about stories that make us the people who we are.

I believe that integrity is the main element that we measure each other.

n. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.
n. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.
n. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

*From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

Integrity helps us to evaluate our own life, and get a better look at the impact that we are having on this world.

The more you are grateful for what you have, the more you will have to be grateful for.

Zig Ziglar

Stop and take a good look at your life. Are you where you are meant to be?

Are you doing the right thing?

Are you on the best track for you?

Every life – every person – has a story.

What is your story?

The Online Meeting Axiom

Photo: ‘Searching for Dawn‘ Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella – The morning sun peeks through the trees behind a fence.

In the past year that the COVID pandemic has spread around the world, online conference video chats have become more the norm than the exception they were. And all of these platforms it seems have had to make improvements to their technology to meet the demand.

Yet, some of them have become more popular than others even though they may not be the best. For example, the first two on the scene years ago were FreeConferenceCall in 2001 and Skype in 2003, which I use more than the others. I usually can’t have a call without someone asking why we’re not on Zoom or Teams, etc.

I get it, the quality axiom is at work here: ‘Kleenex’ means tissues, ‘Weber’ means grills, ‘Google’ means search engine, and so on … so now does Zoom mean online video meeting? The other argument is to use the platform that everyone is familiar with so it is easier to use. The answer to this one is the more you use something, the more you become familiar with it.

The truth I see is that, in searching for the light, all of these platforms work the same and have similar issues, and the variables happen based on what equipment or internet connection you have. So you find two of them that best meet your needs and make it work for you.

Because, just like with soda pop I like ‘RC’, even though ‘Coke’ or ‘Pepsi’ are more popular doesn’t mean they are the best.

The Best Use of Our Time

Photo: ‘Silence From The Sky’ Copyright 2018 Frank J Casella

Sometimes photography will see elements in the sky that the human eye does not.

Sometimes reflections in the water see elements in the sky that photography does not.

Sometimes the silent moments help us to reflect life more clearly.

Many people tell me how much they are afraid of silence. I have been there too at times. We busy ourselves just to avoid the silence in our lives. Yet, silence is really the best use of our time.

It is where we find the answers to our problems, our dreams, our true needs, and ourselves. It could be ten minutes, or a few hours, but spending time in silent thought has shown our true selves come to the surface through all the noise, and help us to become our best self.

Yes, you sometimes have to work through the ugliness to see light, yet it is through our struggles that we become stronger in finding our true self. This is why I find scheduling in my calendar silent time each day can be best use of my time … and yours.

There is a common lesson to spend one hour a day in silence, for sixty days. Many people in the end find the results mind blowing … pun intended. Give it a try, one day at a time.

Don’t be afraid of silence. FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

I Want to be Free

Photo: ‘Freedom in the Wetlands Brush – Silver‘ Copyright 2021 Frank J Casella

It seems just about everywhere you look these days people are saying they want to be free, or they want their freedoms. But, I’m wondering if everyone has the same meaning of what freedom is?

n. The condition of not being in prison or captivity.
n. The condition of being free of restraints, especially the ability to act without control or interference by another or by circumstance.
(From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

For example, my parents raised me and my siblings with the idea that every person has a right to their opinion, but they do not have a right to their own facts, or truth.

Freedom has a connection to truth, just like rules determine freedoms. In other words, when we treat others with respect then they in turn would treat us with respect. On the other hand, if we feel the freedom to treat others without respect we’re not going to get as far as if we used kindness.

I get it, sometimes we just want to go off the usual path and do something we are not allowed, or experience something because we can, but not because we should or that it is the right thing to do. I believe there is a time for everything when put into right perspective.

Integrity gives you real freedom because you have nothing to fear since you have nothing to hide.

Zig Ziglar

If you do what you need to do when you need to do it, then the day will come when you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.

Zog Ziglar

True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.

Saint John Paul II

Forgiveness and Obedience

Photo: ‘Where Have You Been‘ Copyright 2016 Frank J CasellaThe moon hides behind the clouds of the morning sky in the forest.

I think these words are both simple yet profound, because they are easy to understand and agree with, yet not so easy to live:

Forgiveness is releasing the other person from the debt that they owe you. Forgiveness does not mean that what they did was permissible. It does not mean that you must be their best friend. It does not mean that you even must address the person directly. Forgiveness is freeing your heart to live and love in the measure God created you.

Obedience can have a negative connotation in our culture today because everyone wants to be “free”. We interpret freedom as doing what we want to do. In the spiritual life, freedom comes when we are obedient to God’s will. Obedience comes from a Latin word which means “to listen”. When we listen to God’s voice and are obedient to Him, we find true freedom … Sin can be defined as “I want what I want right now.” Holiness can be defined as “I want what God wants when He wants it.” Obedience to God leads to holiness, which in turn leads to happiness, which we all seek.

Our lives are a work in progress.