Seven Spheres of Life: Relationships

At the restaurant yesterday, I asked for a Mango drink. Mango nectar and water. It was delicious.

As I sipped it, I began thinking about some of my favorite people. They qualify as delicious also. Without them my life would be less.

Naturally, I also thought briefly of some other relationships I have had. Bitter. Distasteful. Spit-it-out bad.


We have many kinds of realtionships.
Recreation team members
Church friends
Drinking buddies
Club members

And there are acquaintances – people you know casually, but don’t spend social time with.

How can I look at a relationship to determine if it is Mango delicious, or Spit-it-out harmful?

Do you remember anyone teaching you how to make friends? I don’t. Mr Rogers may have for lots of people. I grew up without TV.

I did learn the Biblical injunction: if you want friends you must be friendly.

In my mid-twenties I got divorced. Suddenly the social group that I had considered ‘friends’ were unfriendly. I don’t remember getting unfriendly. But, I was no longer included in the invites.

I worked for the church, I socialized with church members. It would be pretty accurate to say that I had no close friends outside of work and church.

No, don’t feel sad for me.

I learned a lot. I matured a lot.

Looking back at the experiences surrounding the divorce, I began to recognize some clues that should have warned me about the unhealthy relationships that wove around in my life.

Let’s focus on the positive qualities of a healthy relationship. By understanding healthy relationships, unhealthy ones will become obvious.

Maslow wrote about human needs and developed what is known as “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” an ordered list of five things that humans must have. Click here to study this topic.

Relationships occupy the middle position, right after Physical needs and Safety needs.

Good Relationships are the anchor points that enable us to feel good about ourselves and achieve our full potential.

Friends help us move into the Fifth Level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, where we are empowered to reach our full potential.

But it’s an obvious point that some relationships make us have negative feelings about ourselves and drag us away from “self-actualization” or, reaching for the stars.

How do I go about measuring a relationship to see if it is diminishing me or elevating me?

A real evaluation will involve writing.

Just thinking about it probably won’t accomplish the goal.

Start by making a list of your friends and acquaintances – a written list.

Then look at and think about each individual and your relationship with him or her. Take notes.

There are some simple, straight-forward ways to get a true picture of a relationship.

How do I feel about myself and my goals for myself after spending time with _____? (Fill in the blank with a name.) Be honest with yourself. Just get the feeling.

Feelings can be more accurate than logic.

A person may be connected to many parts of your work or personal life. But the relationship may be bad for you.

Don’t look at family connections right now. If you are in a committed relationship, and you are questioning whether it is healthy, evaluate your contribution to the relationship and determine what You can do to make it better.

Some times an unhealthy friendship can be turned around when you work on being the friend the other person needs.

It’s okay to change.

It’s okay to inspire others to change.

Friendships involve Giving and Taking. Both parties need to do both – Give and Take.

A person who only takes from you will drain you, and leave little for you to give yourself.

Evaluate your role. Are you balanced? Giver and Taker?

There are quizzes online that you can take to evaluate relationships. Most of them have to do with romantic relationships.

A good relationship has certain qualities:
Respect – mutual, both directions
Acceptance – of individuality, of differences
Communication – open, as equals
Self-control – emotional and physical
Value places value on your personal goals

Think about a friend. Take one of the ingredients from the list of qualities and assign a value between Negative 5 and Positive 5 for how that person demonstrates Respect for you.

Then take the next quality and evaluate. (I have a form in the Worksheet to help with this.)

Relationship Sphere Worksheet

The hard part might be what you need to do when you realize that a relationship is damaging you.

You can try to communicate with the person and ask him or her to change. But my experiences have caused me to believe that there are people who are takers, and they don’t see a need to change.

Sometimes there really is only one choice: end the relationship. Move that person to the Acquaintance List.

I’d love to hear your comments on this post. Positive or negative. How could I make the post better?

Thank you for reading.


For the first time in 18 months I find myself on Tuesday with no finished article written for my blog. I will recover.

I’m questioning my message. My passion stated early in the process was “to share my Elder Wisdom”. I became convinced that the niche was too broad to really be a niche and attract followers/readers.

I changed my focus to Reaching One’s Goals in Life.

I began working on the idea of Goals within the Seven Spheres of Life.

This week was for the Relationships Sphere.

The message and worksheet are not ready for publication.

There was still no rush to join my group of readers.

In addition, I’ve had a number of technical problems recently that have perplexed me and sapped my energies:

my RSS feed disappeared;
my Mailchimp account quit working with the Sign-Up pop-up/link;
several hundred readers visited my site with no new subscribers enrolled;
my attempts to engage an expert in WordPress and podcast have so far been unproductive.

Made me question my message.

Covered me in discouragement.

I shall return.

Achieving Your Goals In an Onion Way

Success, at its heart, isn’t complicated. But defining success seems to be squishy.

Many people write about success, but emphasize different paths to reach the destination.

(PDF and Audio of the posts are now reserved for Subscribers to my blog. Click on the Join link on the left side Menu, enter your first name and your email address. You will receive an email verification request. PDF and Audio links are included in the weekly email.)

Many claim to be experts on the topic, but disagree on what it actually looks like when you arrive.

Does money equate with success?

Is freedom the measure that counts?

How does traveling the world fit in?

I look back at my 50 years as an educator and see Success.

I didn’t get rich. I didn’t always have the freedom to do as I wished. I traveled little of the world.

I don’t regret my career path. I don’t see it as less than what I should have achieved.

Food might help to illustrate some features of success.

Stop right now and remember the best meal you’ve ever eaten.

What made it great?

I would venture to predict that you know friends who would not consider your meal to be even acceptable. What makes the difference between their taste and yours?

Your taste buds revel as they bathe in the juices and flavors and textures of cuisine that you have experienced by choice and opportunity.

My choices and opportunities have been different from yours. But my description of one of my meals as ‘exquisite cuisine’ is just as true – for me.

It all depends on the personal choice and definition.

So it is with success.

My definition may not match yours, but my joy as I achieve, is real and complete.

The definition, the expectation, determines the quality of achievement.

Achieving the goal that you defined produces great satisfaction in the accomplishment.

The most satifying Successes are layered – like an Onion.

I have loved writing since my early teen years. I wrote poetry and short stories and essays, but dreamed that one day I would write and publish a novel.

I created a definition of success many years ago that invloved being a published author.

I achieved that goal a few months ago. I achieved success – based on reaching that goal.

What next?

You know that it doesn’t take long before the thrill of achieving wears off, and you’re casting about for something else to challenge you. A new goal is needed so a new journey can begin.

For myself, I have embarked on a journey of Onion Goals.

The outer layer of the Onion is a short-term goal. One that I can reach soon enough that the anticipation of the reward keeps me working.


My weekly blog could equate to the first layer of my Onion.

But, one can write and publish a blog within one week. The mind needs more complex goals than that.

Publishing my first novel was a second layer. I already had the rough draft written by hand. Typing, editing, proofing and publishing with Kindle Direct Publishing stretched out for several weeks, but is now completed. That success still feels good.

Other layers of my Onion involve: publishing a Learning Podcast; writing Book 2 and Book 3 of my novel; creating a showcase website for my Nature Photography; a Teacher Skills member website offering CEUs around the theme of Excellence in Education.

As I accomplish one onion layer, I define the next layer to continue the challenge with a new goal.

I did not set this as my goal, but, I am now Manager of the Social Media outreach of my local church. This makes use of my photography skills, refreshes my video editing skills, and forces me to work on my social persona.

I also teach an adult Bible study class each week. These were not intentionally defined in the layers of my Onion Vision, but God has His ways.

Success, you see, is not a final destination. It is a journey. Sometimes it’s a short, straight drive. Sometimes there are valuable, scenic stops throughout the trip at learning stations.

Victory Celebration locations are also important to arrange and manage.

While my definition of success is different from yours, we probably have common portions within the Big Picture. I have three wonderful children and an amazing wife who persists in loving me. Those alone certainly qualify as Achieved Success.

In a variation on the Haiku style of poetry ( 5 – 12 – 7 ) a poem:

Life is like an onion:

It holds the nuances of savory goodness;

Sometimes it makes you cry.

Reach out to me through the Comments or the email options. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thank you for reading.

Choose and Decide plus Knowledge

My girlfriend had just broken up with me. I was lonely.

I fell in with a small group who seemed to be having fun.

Their nickname for me was Shnook. Yeah, I know… I shoulda known better.

But, I didn’t. My bases of knowledge and experience had not acquired what I needed to meet this situation.

PDF of this post:  Choose Decide Knowledge

Audio of this post:

As I look back at this time in my life, I realize I was socially awkward. I had been sheltered from the reality that there are people “out there” who will use the lonely, inexperienced person for sport. I guess it makes them feel superior, or somehow feeds their ego.

I was unprepared to choose well and decide for my best interests, because I was ignorant in social experience – lacking in knowledge – and because my loneliness ruled my decisions.

And it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that this happened in college. I have not Friended any of those classmates on FaceBook. Recalling this time causes me to shrivel into myself, maybe like a cucumber being soaked in brine to turn it into a pickle.

(I have no cucumber-to-pickle first hand experience. But this explains my brain response image as I write about this.)

The twin giants Decide and Choose enable us to be masters of our own destiny.

Babies have the infant stages of Decide already in their brains. Their automatic response to discomfort is – Cry. In response to certain uncomfortable stimuli, they speak in the cry language in an effort to bring relief. When their efforts bring results, a stimulus-response pattern is created.

One of the goals of growing up is that we learn of other options than temper-tantrum to negotiate the relief we want.

Which reveals the third giant in the trilogy: Knowledge.

In every situation there are multiple options (choices) available. Knowledge enables us to decide which choice to make so that we achieve the desired goal with the least amount of discomfort and delay.

A child is endowed with Choose and Decide abilities. Their choices and decisions are often faulty, though, because their foundation of Knowledge is lacking.

Be careful to build a stable foundation of knowledge for yourself and in your children and grandchildren, so that choosing and deciding do not lead to problems and failures. Learn from your own past – and others – so you can avoid problems that arise from ignorance.

Experience is often not the best source of Knowledge. It takes time to experience all the possible ways to fail in order to determine the best way to achieve success.

Read books.

Study other peoples’ stories – it’s called History.

Read the Instruction manual before attempting to assemble by trial and error.

Hire a mentor or tutor or coach.

Ask your parents and grandparents to share their stories with you. Then avoid their mistakes.

Build your base of knowledge from reputable authors and verified sources.

Don’t base your knowledge on what you find on Facebook, Twitter, or even News Organization’s websites.

Be careful – selective – with what you put into your brain.

Way back when computers were new it was common to hear the expression GIGO. Garbage In : Garbage Out.

A computer can work only with the programming that is put into it. If the program has garbage in it, the results of running the program will be Garbage Out.

Our brains have many similarities to computers. This GIGO characteristic is one similarfity.

Our ability to make best decisions and choices is completely dependent on the knowledge program that is used to make the selection. Our Knowledge Program is written by the Knowledge and Experiences we store in memory.

Choose to be the Best You Possible. Choose Your Best. Do Your Best.

Fortunately for humans, we can create new knowledge that over-writes old, bad knowledge-code. The remnants (artifacts) of the bad code remain in our brains, but we can strengthen the new experiences through repetition, so old code is defeated when it tries to rule.

“As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7

We think about the stuff that we feed our brains: music, games, TV, movies, books.

To change your brain, change what you’re feeding it. Stop the flow of Garbage In. That will cut off the flow of Garbage Out.

Hollywood does not have the knowledge or the answers that will make your choices and decisions better. Hollywood is entertainment. They want to make you laugh and cry and shudder in fright. But most of all they want your money and your mind.

Sports are also for entertainment. Neither Hollywood nor Sports are real life.


People and organizations will use trickery to gain control of your thoughts, your choices, your mind, your money.

You were created with the abilities of Choice, Decision, and Knowledge so that you could prepare for the Future.

The Future is coming – faster than you can imagine. You are reading this part of the sentence in what is the future to when you started reading.

The Future involves God. Only He knows the Future. Only He can take our present – our Right-Now – and make it ready for Eternity.

Decide to learn more about the God Who holds Eternity in His hands.

Read the Instruction manual He has provided – The Holy Bible.

Find a mentor and a community support group – church.

Contact me if you need help with these steps. Eldon @


Write to me. Did this article help you? How could I have made it better?

Use the Comments option below this post, or email me: eldon @

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Thank you for reading.

What Values are in the Why?

Every decision that has ever been made, began with a Why.

Every action that has ever been taken, began with a Why.

PDF: What Values are in the Why

Audio of this post:

Sometimes we are unaware of the Why.
Sometimes we misunderstand the motivating Why.
Sometimes we deny the real Why.

Yet, there is always a Why.

To be more clear, there are always Whys. Seldom is there a single Why.

Whys can be either simple or complex.

Example of a Simple Why:

I shave in the evening. Why? I want my wife to snuggle with me. It’s gonna be dark, she won’t see my face. By morning my beard will have sprouted again. What’s the use? Snuggle is more likely when I have a clean-shaved face.

Example of a Complex Why:

I’m writing this article/post. Why? I have made a decision to operate a blog. I can’t have a blog unless I write posts.

After reading and studying, and trying different frequencies of writing, I chose a once-weekly schedule – Tuesday mornings.

In order to have time for research, reviewing, editing, finding or creating a photo companion that fits the post, uploading to my website, check of appearance, SEO, scheduling for publication – even Thursday is late.

I’m home-alone on Thursday mornings. Perfect writing opportunity.

If I run into obstacles, I still have the week-end. If I wait until Monday, whatever I have will have to be used.

I’ve made a public commitment to my readers, my family, myself, my former students, my Facebook Friends – myself.

I know, I already listed me. But a personal promise is weightier than some others. True to myself is BIG.

This endeavor is my opportunity to pass on to another generation, to another audience, to my legacy – what I have learned, how I have learned, from what I have learned – my life speaking from the podium of a technological classroom, pulpit, stage, radio broadcast.

What if – unknown to me – somewhere, someone is in desperate need of the ideas, instruction, promises – hope that I create with my life and my efforts. I may never know. But I can dream. I can create. I can offer my 70 years of partnering with life. Listening, watching, experiencing, continuing to run the race, falling, stumbling, standing up again, gaining knowledge and understanding and wisdom. Elder Wisdom.

If it is not shared, if it is hoarded, if it remains silent, it is gone when I am gone.

Why used to be straight-forward.

“That’s the way the Roberts men do.”
“That’s the way it’s always been done.”
“Because I said so.”
“So you can eat supper.”

And the thing gets done.

Hoe 5 acres of corn.
Harvest 5 acres of cucumbers for the pickle factory.
Walk 3 miles to school.

Because it had to be done.

Tired? Of course!
Hungry? You bet!
Did that matter? No!

Sometimes it was about what not to do.
“Don’t touch my radio!”
I didn’t. Why? Because Dad said not to.

Some decisions are made because it is the most practical option.
Some Whys satisfy an emotional need.
Some Whys gratify an ambition.
Some Whys are directly connected to a talent or skill that you have developed.

There are good Whys:
Charity, Compassion, Love, Citizenship, to make something better for yourself or someone else, to earn money to meet personal and family needs…

There are bad Whys:
Greed, Selfishness, Revenge, Hate…

Good Whys produce good emotional results.

Whys always come from a value system deep inside a person.

Those values have settled in over the years of growing up and getting educated. Home, school, church, and government combine to promote certain values within society.

Justice, Liberty, the Rule of Law. Those are values at the very core of American society.

Core Values operate best when they are known, when they are spelled out.

But, even when they are not knowingly part of decision-making, they still are present and involved.

There are many websites and services that will assist you to discover your Core Values.

Core Values Link 1 Here.            Core Values Link 2 Here.

Know your Core Values and use them to simplify decision-making.

You probably will have 4 or 5 in your list.

Make a poster of the list and put one in your home and where you work.
You will eventually have them memorized just from frequency of use.

When you have a decision to make, check your Core Values and evaluate the options. Stay true to your values.

After your Core Value list is completed, list your whys for a particular decision or option.
Attach one or more of your Core Values to each Why. Keep a written Journal of this process.

If you are married or have a family, include them in this process.

Knowing your Core Values is still important – maybe more so than in times past.

When you make a decision based on Core Values and someone (like a child) asks Why? You have a concrete answer – your Core Value.

My Core Values are:

Worship – I answer to a Higher Power for the use of my talents and opportunities.
Excellence – Do it to the best of my ability or don’t do it at all.
Integrity – Live the principles I profess. Do what I say I will do.
Respect – Treat others as I wish to be treated. Value life. Be compassionate.
Teamwork – Be an active member of the team; recognize the team’s accomplishments.
Innovation – Find and use new ways, new ideas, new knowledge.
Joy – Life is good, embrace it; focus on the good, the beautiful.
Service – Do for others who need help.

I applied my Core Values in the decisions I made in the Complex Why narrative above. If you are unsure how each provides guidance in my examples, send me a Comment or email.


Let me know if this article makes you think.

Do you think it is important to know your personal core values?

What impact would it have on a business if its core values were posted for all customers to see?

Send your list of core values to me. Comment about your experiences in deciding on your list.

Is there a Personal Development topic that you would like for me to research and write about?

Perhaps you would like to guest post on my blog. If so, contact me eldon @

Comment or email me to let me know your response to this post.