Is Technology turning us into Robots? Are we losing that Human Touch?

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My parents believed that television was the culprit. “Your children are watching too much T.V.” they said to me. “They’re going to turn into little machines.” But did I listen to them anymore than the kids of today listen to their parent’s concerns?

Some of you may not remember the “slide rule;” (a manual calculating device, now largely obsolete, consisting of two rulers marked with graduated logarithmic scales, one sliding inside the other) used long before computers became laptops and then hand-held devices and smart phones. My husband used a slide rule in college. Both students and teachers thought it was the crème’ de la crème’ in mathematical tools; but how quickly things change.

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When I started out as a freelance writer, I used a Smith Corona and up to six sheets of carbon paper for needed copies. What used to take several days or even weeks to complete now takes only a few hours. My first draft was usually hand-written. When I finally learned how to use a computer, the process of writing took far less time so I began charging by the project rather than by the hour.

My grandfather was a blacksmith who shoed local horses until the advent of automobiles made his job obsolete. He then made wrought iron fences and decorative housing materials. Advancement in science and technology always makes someone’s job vanish.

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Research and biogenetics are advancing so rapidly that today people are being replaced by machines. It’s become the way of the world. Because of the danger in terrorist attacks, robots now approach suspects or their belongings to save the life of the police officers. Robots are being used to defuse bombs, and to find terrorists and wipe them out. They are used in warfare and will soon surpass human beings in intelligence and physical capability.

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What was once only a plot devised in someone’s imagination is now becoming reality. Man’s farfetched imagination is already at work in laboratories across the world. Some predict that machines will replace humans or become an integrated part of their future; half man, half machine. We are seeing this already as transplants for body parts are becoming a daily occurrence in the medical community and returning veterans receive metallic parts that can move and act like their fleshy counterparts.

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Will science ever be able to replicate emotions and personality? I hope not. The Bible says “God is love.” We are created in God’s image therefore love is a Godly emotion. Many people and most scientists think that one day they will be able to create life, not only replicate what God has already done. When that time comes, what will life be like?

Some researchers are experimenting by combining animal and plant cells with human DNA hoping to create a super human being who can sense danger like most animals can. What causes dogs and birds to sense a Tsunami or earthquake and flee for safety long before humans are even aware of the risk? Will this mixture of combined cells eventually become an ungodly conglomeration of half human, half animal entities?

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What will all this mean for human beings? As we head feet first into the future, how can we hold onto our values and beliefs? What is the anchor to your soul that keeps your life stable and strong?

If you don’t have someone or something to ground you to truth how will you make choices in this complex world in which we find ourselves? Can artificial intelligence make our decisions for us? Can the power of the human heart to heal, to comfort, to safeguard the God within us be replaced? When the lines of truth blur how will we be able to tell right from wrong and good from evil? Perplexing questions to ponder in the near future.

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Find your Anchor, believe in yourself and Go!

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Do you long for a constant; something that stays the same and never falters or waivers? Forget about it. Unless you’re talking about God who is omnipotent and eternal, everything else in life is in a state of flux and is ever changing. Without an anchor for your soul, it is easy to flounder.

Other people or circumstances may sabotage your efforts, but most of the time; you are your own worst enemy. And it is fear that goads you. Where does this deep-seated fear come from? Look to your own insecurities. A low self-esteem diminishes trust in yourself and others. Feeling insecure increases your sense of aloneness.

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When you face your demons and doubts head on, that puts you back in the driver’s seat and in control of your present and your future. Live life on your terms not on someone else’s.

If the talents and skills of others intimidate you, compete with yourself instead. Do something better or differently than you did yesterday. Surpass yourself in stamina or creativity. Accomplish a difficult task at long last. Take a different course and see what happens. Surprise yourself in a good way. Stick to a plan and see it through. It’s not a race against the unknown it’s a race against you yourself. What others do doesn’t matter. Beating your own record, now that’s something to smile about.

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I speak from experience. I’ve taught myself many new and unusual skills. My goal has always been to see if I could. Was I capable of learning how to sew, to crochet, to knit, to quilt, to write, to paint, to get paid for what I do? Then I took it a step further. Was I able to interview people, research unknown places and topics and overcome my own fears and insecurity? The answer was yes!

I didn’t do it all at once. I battled one new skill at a time. I discovered what was, for me, lasting, and what was merely a whim. Once I mastered one craft or art, I moved onto the next. Each time I succeeded, I added another notch to my self-esteem belt. I did my homework. I was sometimes still working at my computer until two or three in the morning. I wasn’t competing with anyone else, only me.

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I put myself out there. I dared to think that if someone else could brave the turf, so to speak, why not me? I networked. I made connections. I found myself working as a consultant and being paid to write training and education materials. I used my imagination to craft children’s stories, articles, and educational film scripts. I ventured into illustration and never looked back.

As a commercial once quipped: “I’ve come a long way baby” from the shy backward girl of my youth. I did it by proving to myself first that I could. When rejection came (and still does), I keep on going. If I feel good about what I’ve done and what I’ve created, I figure someone else will, too.

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Some of the very things that were rejected by so-called experts have been the very projects that have sold and appealed to others. What that taught me is to trust my gut and “stick to my guns.” And I’m telling you now, if I can do it, you can, too.

Learn to Recognize an Opportunity Before it Gets Away

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“Serena Shines” Pastel drawing on Bristol 11×14, matted and ready for framing.

How do you handle opportunity?  Are you afraid of the challenge? Do you drag your feet and dither around until you eventually get rejected by default?

You say you want to be successful, but sometimes your actions prove otherwise. Do you believe in your ability to follow through and complete a project or job? Sometimes when a break presents itself, you may have an anxiety attack wondering whether you’ll be able to fulfill the expectations of others.

Every prospect, every chance must be faced with confidence and pride. You are trained, educated and skilled. Don’t go limp when someone makes you an offer and hands you the prize or at least a bridge to the next great thing. Take it! You have to act like a pro in order to become one. You must believe in yourself before anyone else will.

“The Cook” acrylic on canvas 11×14

I gained my experience through volunteer work. It gave me a chance to go public long before I felt ready. I could gauge the viewer’s interest and the audience’s reaction. I wrote scripts for youth events and churches, painted scenery for plays and pageants, and even wrote a script for one that was presented for more than three years in the community all for free.

My first real art show took place many years after my initial education. My life had taken several twists and turns, and I’d had to give up my dreams in order to obtain health benefits for my family. You probably know what it’s like. We’ve all been there at some time or another.

I set up my display at a popular shopping mall early in the morning. I had no more than finished, when two women came out of nowhere to make an offer on one of my Norwegian scenes. Neither of them spoke English, but I surmised that they wanted to make a purchase, but had no cash. Off they went to get some, or so I deduced.

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“Vikeholmen Lighthouse” Skudeneshavn, Norway, 16×20 acrylic on canvas.

I wasn’t sure what just happened, so I kept the painting on display. It seemed like almost an hour had passed before they finally returned. They looked disappointed that I hadn’t saved the painting for them or tucked it away. They paid in cash and then took the canvas. I never understood a word they said.

Looking back, I’ve often wondered if they were angels sent to save me from myself. Their presence has lived on in my memory, and given me confidence whenever I get wobbly knees or a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

We are on this earth to thrive, to have joy, and to make others happy in the process. When we do our part, God does his. Our job is to follow through and take advantage of the stepping stones that are given to us. We may never reach the heights we longed for, but at least we know we tried. Our best may never be good enough, but it’s all we have to give.

Gratitude is our way of giving back and paves the way for future opportunities and blessings. An old saying goes “Don’t look a Gift Horse in the mouth.” Better yet, when you receive an unexpected gift show appreciation. Sadly, many people chalk it up to good luck, happenstance or fate, and they miss the miraculous unfolding of a greater plan of which they are a part.

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“Skudeneshavn, Norway, Harbor” oil on canvas SOLD, but prints are available.

Here are some “Rules for Recognition”:  An opportunity . . .

  1. Gives you a chance to show what you can do.
  2. Enhances your credibility.
  3. Helps you gain experience and adds “credits” to your CVA.
  4. Provides a legitimate reference for your work.
  5. May lead to other networking opportunities.
  6. Develops poise, control and self-awareness.
  7. Helps secure your trajectory to success.
  8. Enables you to establish your reputation as an artist.

Next time “opportunity comes knocking,” don’t just open the door. Receive the gift with open arms and embrace the moment!

When all you have left is a “Wing and a Prayer”

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“Vikeholmen Lighthouse” Norway, acrylic on canvas

Most of us have been there. We’ve gotten by on little or nothing and all we have is hope and a prayer to pull us through.  Life is never a straight line. It’s more like a roller coaster. We don’t suddenly “arrive.” We struggle to find our footing, and we reach for the strongholds that will pull us upward.

Sometimes our fingernails scrape against dirt and grime. Our hearts get broken. We become battered and bruised within and without. This is the turning point where many fall by the wayside. It’s the crucial “trial by fire” that determines what we’re made of; either we keep going in spite of all, or we become simply a lost player in the game of life.

Those who keep putting one foot in front of the other and slog along do so because they must. To give up is not in their vocabulary or their souls. They never allow quitting or giving up to enter their minds. Experience has taught them that nothing is permanent. Change is inevitable. They accept what they have no control over. They know that at the end of a storm there’s a rainbow. They believe in the cliché “there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

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“Beach Buddies” mixed media on canvas

Those who don’t make it either haven’t experienced this transient state or they’ve not only lost confidence in themselves, but in life itself. Without hope we die, and yet all around us there is reason for optimism if we but open our eyes. After every harsh winter there is spring. It has been so since the beginning of time. Following a bitter dark night of the soul, there is always morning in all its glorious splendor and promise.

People eschew the Bible, but the Word of God is resplendent with truth and wisdom. When fear grips us with terror, these words can give us hope: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

When we’re sailing over unknown terrain and in uncharted waters (at least for us), we must not give up! Who’s to say that in the next hour or twenty-four things will change. A need will be met. The answer to our pain will be whispered softly in a forgotten refrain or in an answer to prayer to give us courage.

There are dark evil forces in the world and there are those of goodness and light. The former pulls us downward and instills fear in our hearts; the other renders peace and comfort. Why would we look anywhere else when we’re in need of solace and calm?

Music can call us out of ourselves and lift us to higher ground. It can keep dark thoughts at bay and help us overcome our weaknesses.

The beautiful Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

The psalmist said in Psalm 121:1-2 “I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help; my help comes from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

Why do we scoff or turn our backs on the very thing which could give us strength? Reach out my friends. His love is real!

The Museum “Love will Find You”