29 December  2015      

Hello, and welcome to our last issue of this year!  We've had a wonderful
year, and we truly do appreciate your presence with us over the last twelve
months.  We hope that you end your year well, and that your next year is
one of the best years you've ever had!

 Self-Esteem Basics
John Marks Templeton

 A Letter to Two Sons
Og Mandino

Strategies for Starting Your New Year Well
tom walsh

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What the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year.

Vern McLellan

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

Melody Beattie

Life belongs to the living, and those who live must be prepared for changes.

unattributed

If you don't like something, change it.  If you can't change it, change your attitude.  Don't complain.

Maya Angelou

  

Self-Esteem Basics
John Marks Templeton

Self-esteem is an issue that receives a lot of attention in many areas.  Perhaps that is because in today's world of communication, we know that reasonable self-esteem has much to do with one's overall happiness in life and that it is important for our achievement and success.  Low self-esteem has been shown by various psychological studies to be a key factor in a wide range of emotional problems.  So what is self-esteem?  It includes the beliefs and attitudes we hold towards ourselves, in thought, feeling, words, and actions--both consciously and subconsciously--and the expressions in our lives that those mental responses engender.  Self-esteem plays this key role in our life because thought and faith are creative.

Because self-esteem is so very much a part of our mental attitude, the basics for strengthening this part of ourselves can begin with the awareness that we have the power to direct our mind as we choose.  Let's look at some techniques we can work with that can help us strengthen our own self-esteem.

1.  Develop Your Spiritual Nature.  You can find your rightful place in the world when you give up your belief that it is hidden from you or that you are unworthy of success.  Believe that the Spirit of God is within you and that the light of his presence reveals the way to you.

2.  Think Positively!  Decide to develop a positive sense of who and what you are by translating negative thoughts and feelings into more positive or neutral alternatives.  Remember, you tend to become what you think.

3.  Value Your Emotional Nature as you would a faithful friend and servant.  Use your feelings to enhance growth, express love, facilitate communication, empower action, visualize your goals, and strengthen your capacity to live fully each day.  Respect your feelings and be understanding and supportive and a good friend to yourself as well as others.

4.  Review and Release Negative Past Programming. Confucius said "Settle one difficulty and you keep a hundred away."  Let go of feelings of guilt through the power of forgiving yourself and others.  Be aware that habits are not something that you are but something you do.  Those that are less than positive can be released, if that is your desire.  The decision to change a habit is conscious, and your ability to change a habit relates to your skill in mastering your own subconscious mind.

5.  Re-evaluate where you presently are according to your own highest sense of what is true, helpful, and productive.  Believe that peace exists within you and that you don't need to get caught up in the turbulence of others or of outer circumstances.  Build your faith with the following "bricks" of repeated belief:

*  you are filled with amazing life and health
*  you have plenty for all your real needs and desires
*  you are infolded in divine love
*  you are being awakened to infinite joy and usefulness, and the light of God within is your source of inspiration and guidance.

Now, rest for a while in contemplation of these things and write your thoughts, feelings, awarenesses, and experiences of inner promptings in your journal.  God bless you.
  
  

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A Letter to Two Sons
Og Mandino

Dear Dana and Matthew,

It's Christmas Eve, and I have retreated to the room which your mother calls Dad's Word Factory.

For the last few hours, in my own fumbling way, I have tried to help your mother wrap your Christmas toys, and they have now been placed under our tree to await your morning onslaught.  Funny, but each year I tease mother about the care with which she wraps each package, for we know how little boys handle pretty ribbons and paper, but she still treats each gift as if it contained gold bars, and maybe they do hold something just as valuable--our love for both of you.

When I finished my duties downstairs, I came up to your room and stood between your beds, barely able to see your faces in the soft glow of the night-light.  From below I could hear, just faintly, Christmas carols from the kitchen radio.

Suddenly, and without realizing it, I was on my knees--driven there, I guess, by my doubts and fears that I'm not the father I should be.  Now, I don't expect either of you to understand this letter, and the odds are great that you will never see it, but I wonder if we have given you the gifts that really count.

Have we taught you to count your blessings, not only so that you will appreciate what you have but so that you will want to do something for those who have not?

Have we taught you to be color-blind, so that you can look at a black, yellow, red, or brown child and see only a friend?

Have we taught you to love your country and to remember the thousands of other boys who gave their lives so that you can sleep in warmth and freedom?

Have we taught you to respect the laws and to understand that if you do not agree with them, you work to change them but you never disobey them?

Have we taught you to pray--and to pray only for guidance, because God can help you solve any problem if you let him?

Have we taught you never to quit in anything you do, for if you persist, you will eventually win?

Have we taught you to share--not only your possessions but also yourself, without any thought of acknowledgment or publicity?

Have we taught you that the world is really a beautiful place, filled with beautiful people, in spite of what you see on television?

Have we taught you that you can be anything you want to be--if you are willing to pay the price to reach your goals?

And most important, have we taught you how to love?  I know you both tell us that you love us, and we tell you that we love you, but it's easy for us to love each other.  What we hope is that you learn to love everyone--and that is the hardest job you will ever have--until you learn the secret, and the secret is so simple.  All you must remember is that hate grows out of fear.  If you are afraid someone is going to beat you in a fight, you immediately begin to hate him.  When you grow older, if you are afraid someone is going to steal your job, your girl, or your business, you immediately begin to hate.  Without that fear there will never be hate, and without hate it is easy to love.

Our toughest task, then, your mother's and mine, is to help both of you grow up without fear--and this we promise to do with every bit of our ability.  Every child is a miracle, so you are both miracles--and there is no room for fear or hate in a miracle.

I prayed before I left your darkened room--and I was there so long that my eyes had become adjusted to the faint light and I could see both your faces.  Because of this special night I could only look at you, my boys, and think of another tiny boy who slept on this night for the first time, nearly two thousand years ago.  He was not as warm as you, his bed was not as comfortable as yours, and his poor mother and father were frightened and alone in a strange town.

Yet I wouldn't be here in your room tonight, and thinking these thoughts, if it had not been for that small boy--and I cannot help but wonder what his dad was thinking as he looked down on his sleeping face.  If it is not sacrilegious, I want you both to know that I envy that other father, for he gave his son the gifts I hope we can give to you.

One more thing.  Children forget quickly, so you don't even talk about Grandpa Teddy anymore.  You say "He's dead" when someone asks you or mentions his name.  But the last time we saw Grandpa Teddy was as we were driving away from his house two years ago.  Just as we were leaving, he leaned in our car window and said to me, "Drive carefully, you've got a mighty precious cargo in the back."

Only later, after he was gone from us, did I remember his remark--and now I think of it again and remember all my boyhood Christmases when, no matter how tough the times, there was always a gift under the Christmas tree for his boys.

You are both, indeed, my precious cargo--and I pray to God that he helps me to guide you to manhood and that he allows me the luxury of hanging around long enough to see you reach it.

Merry Christmas my sons,

Dad

  
  

This new book is a special gift to all his friends, old and new, a book they may cherish above all the rest. Secrets for Success and Happiness is Og's beautifully written journal, an intimate record of his innermost thoughts and feelings, the heartwarming events of his day-to-day life. Og weaves his secrets of success into the fabric of his life and the pages of this book. He shares anecdotes, both sad and funny, and his feelings about his fan mail and the people he meets. And when trouble comes to him, he shares that, too.  Living with Og and listening to his thoughts as the rich days unfold, we once again find the sheer joy of wondering what tomorrow will bring, and the courage never to look back on yesterday.

   

   

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The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year.  It is
that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new
backbone, new ears, and new eyes.  Unless a particular person made
New Year resolutions, he or she would make no resolutions.  Unless one
starts afresh about things, that person will certainly do nothing effective.

G.K. Chesterton

   

 

Strategies for Starting Your Year Well
(and Keeping It Going Well)

Another new year is almost upon us, and we're in a short period of time when we often start thinking about what kinds of changes we'd like to see in our lives--and what kinds of changes we would have to make in our behavior and our thoughts in order to make those life changes come to be.  Each year we have this opportunity to step back and observe our own lives, to think about the things that we have done and haven't done, and then adjust our lives so that we may be a bit happier or more fulfilled in the year that's coming.

But how do we do this?  Traditionally, there has long been the practice of making New Year's resolutions, which are promises that we make to ourselves about changes that we plan to make--we can lose weight, take those classes, write that novel, be nicer to animals, or whatever else we feel would make our lives better and make us better people.  But resolutions, as we all know, tend to fall by the wayside.  We give up on that diet the first time we see a piece of cheesecake, because once we cheat that first time, we abandon the promise altogether.

   

Every new year people make resolutions to change
aspects of themselves they believe are negative.
A majority of people revert back to how they were
before and feel like failures.  This year I challenge you
to a new resolution.  I challenge you to just be yourself.

Aisha Elderwyn

   
There are, though, ways that we can make the new year better for us.  There is no magic formula and it isn't always easy, but if we really do want to make changes in the coming year, we can do so.  It takes a bit of effort and it definitely requires vigilance and follow-up, but it can be done.

For me, such a process involves writing things down--that's just the way I learn and think the best.  For making changes and improvements in my life, I find it important to write down first what I think isn't going well (I haven't spent as much time on my novel as I've wanted to) without getting into a self-bashing session.  This list is usually fairly short, because I do realize that I try my best at what I do, and if I'm falling short, it's not a crime against humanity, but just something that needs to be adjusted.

Then I write down goals for the coming year.  I want to take a good vacation in the summer, I want to volunteer more time with charity organizations in my town, I want to run a 50-mile race in less than eight hours--whatever comes to mind.  Once I do that, it's important to winnow the list down to the few that are most important to me as a person.  For example, volunteering time is more important to me in the long run than my time in any race, and the amount of training I would need for that race would seriously diminish the amount of time available to me for volunteering, so my revised list would include the volunteering but not the race.  I'll definitely still run it, but I won't worry about time at all.

Once this is done, and I have a good idea of the concrete things I most hope to accomplish next year, it's time for a "passion" list, a "no-limits" list.  What am I the most passionate about?  What would I do with the next year if there were no limits on time or money or resources?  This list helps us to dream--because dreaming is an important part of who we are as human beings, and it's important that we allow ourselves to dream as much as possible.  What you more than likely will find on your dream list, though, is something that's actually possible if you make only a few minor changes.
    

We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going
to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called
Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.

Edith Lovejoy Pierce

    
Many people will tell you that it's important to enlist the help of a trusted person to keep you on track, to help to remind you of your promises and your desire to stick to them.  While this can be a very effective way to stay focused on your goals, I personally don't consider it to be extremely important.  To me, it's much more important to keep my goals visible so that I can see them regularly; perhaps I'll post them on the refrigerator door on a piece of very bright-colored paper.  And if they're personal, I may simply write "Goal Number Two" on the paper without any details--as soon as I see the sheet, I know what it means.

Asking someone else to help in some cases could put extra pressure on another person that he or she doesn't really want to deal with.  And think of this--you haven't exercised in a week though your goal was to do so every day.  How easy is it to rationalize your behavior by telling yourself that "he didn't remind me"?  You don't want to fall into that pattern.

The main strategy that I would suggest, though, is to be realistic.  It's very easy to make goals that can't be kept, or even that shouldn't be kept--if your goal is to not miss a single day of work next year and you come down with a bad cold, is it worth the risk of infecting all of your co-workers and getting even sicker yourself just to meet a goal?  Definitely not.  Should your goal be to start working as a welder if you have no training at all in the field?  On the other hand, improving your cooking skills by attempting one new dish a week is possible--and by the end of the year, you'll have tried 52 new dishes, and that experience really can't help but make you a better cook.
   

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!

William Arthur Ward

   
The most important strategy of all, though, is this:  Once you've made your lists and set your goals, you must keep in mind that life is a day-by-day process, not a series of results.  If your goal is to become kinder and more compassionate, then you must make an effort every day to be so.  If your goal is to be more forgiving, then you must focus each day on forgiving people their trespasses and letting go of your own resentments.  One way to do this is to write a set of goals for each day and commit yourself to reviewing them each morning.  For example, you might write, "Today I will be kind and generous and loving, and I will write one page of my novel."  If you read this each morning to remind yourself of what's important here and now today, then you'll increase your chances of actually fulfilling the goal.

Of course, the most important advice of all is to be yourself, follow your dreams, and explore your passions.  At the new year, though, we tend to take stock of just how little we've been doing these things, and we try to promise ourselves that we'll do them more next year--but we don't always come through on those promises.

Our goal, then, is not just to set the goals for ourselves, but to make sure that we follow through on them; not just to make promises about our futures, but to make decisions each day that will help us to fulfill those promises all year long.

   
More on the new year.

   

One of the most important elements
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We find by losing.  We hold fast by letting go.  We become something new by ceasing to be something old.  This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery.  I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need to know, and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing.  God knows.  That is all that matters.

Frederick Buechner

  

On Letting Go
Robert Paul Gilles

To "let go" does not mean to stop caring. 
It means I can't do it for someone else.

To "let go" is not to cut myself off. 
It's the realization that I can't control another.

To "let go" is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another. 
It's to make the most of myself.

To "let go" is not to care for, but to care about.

To "let go" is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To "let go" is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

To "let go" is not to be in the middle, arranging all the outcomes, 
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept.

To "let go" is not to nag, scold, or argue, but instead
to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires, 
but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.

To "let go" is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

To "let go" is to fear less and to love more.

(from his book Thoughts of the dreampoet : vol. 1.)

   
  

Life is short.  Each year passes more quickly than the previous one.  It’s
easy to deny yourself many of life’s simple pleasures because you want
to be practical.  Forget about practical and decide instead to become a
joy collector.  Always be on the lookout for gifts without ribbons.  God
is strewing them across your path right now.  His gifts come tagged with
a note:  “Life can be wonderful.  Do your best not to miss it!”  Enjoy what
it is before it isn’t anymore. . . . Dare to slip on a pair of bunny slippers
once in a while!  Surprise yourself!  Enjoy the little things because one
day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things!

Barbara Johnson

    

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A new way of reading has been here for a while now.  And while we still love our books, if you're like many people, you get tired of lugging around the books that sometimes weigh more than anything else we carry.  Imagine carrying hundreds of books--novels, self-help, history, travel, you name it--and reading them comfortably on a no-glare screen, setting things like text size to your own preferences.  It's a great experience, and it's available to us now for less than the cost of ten books.  And there are plenty of free books to download, especially timeless classics--you can easily get enough free books to pay for the Kindle.  Give yourself the gift of wonderful literature that you can easily bring with you, wherever you go!

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