13 September  2016      

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 In Control? (an excerpt)
Lee Lipsenthal

Never Too Old
Zig Ziglar

Some Days
tom walsh

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I have always been delighted at the prospect of
a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.

J.B. Priestley

Happy the people, and happy they alone,
who can call today their own; They who are secure within can say, tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

John Dryden

Overstraining is the enemy of accomplishment.  Calm strength that arises from a deep and inexhaustible source is what brings success.

Rabindranath Tagore

You will succeed best when you put the restless,
anxious side of affairs out of mind, and allow
the restful side to live in your thoughts.

Margaret Stowe


In Control?  (an excerpt)
Lee Lipsenthal

Why do we need to feel that we are in control?  It's simple.  For most people, control equals a perception of safety.  Think back to our cave-dwelling ancestors and thunder:  If we understand it, we can control it; if we can control it, it won't hurt us.  We use the same kind of magical thinking about our health:  If I can control all of my risk factors for disease, I won't get sick.  Unfortunately, this is a fallacy.  We all know people who lived healthy lives and died young, and we all know people who smoked heavily and ate poorly and lived to a ripe old age.

Let me tell you a story that is based on an old Chinese tale.  A sixty-year-old man who has never owned a car wins a new car in a fund-raising lottery.  All his friends tell him how lucky he is because now he can visit his kids more often and go to the market or movies whenever he wants.  His only response is "Lucky?  Maybe yes, maybe no."  A few weeks later, he has an accident in the new car and ends up in the hospital.  His friends tell him that this is a tragedy, that he should never have driven and how unlucky it was that he won the new car.  His response is, "Unlucky?  Maybe yes, maybe no."  While he is in the hospital, there is an electrical fire in his house.  If he had been there, he surely would have died.  His friends tell him how lucky he is to have been in the hospital and that he will recover from the accident but that he would be dead if he had been at home.  His response is, "Lucky?  Maybe yes, maybe no."

This story can go on forever, but the important message is that we really don't know what the long-term outcome of any event or choice will be.  We base choices on our imagined projections of outcomes.  In doing so we may hedge our bets on the basis of past experience, but we really don't know what will happen.  How many great ideas and how many business plans fail?

How much control do we actually have in the big picture of our lives?  I would say very little, if any.  This can be either disturbing or liberating.  It is disturbing and scary if lack of control makes you feel unsafe or if fear prevents you from taking risks and trying new things.  It squashes creativity and prevents you from living fully.

However, having no control can be liberating if you relax and accept this concept.  Living life this way leads to wonder and curiosity; it is the basis of creativity and personal growth.  This also decreases fear of death, as death is not within our control.  It is the ultimate unknown.  Just live life, do your best, and enjoy the moments that life brings.

I am not suggesting that you throw all caution to the wind and just walk around saying, "I have no control."  Societal and moral rules were created to enhance our capacities to live together and minimize harm to others.  After all, I am not ruling out the idea of heaven and hell, so hedge your bets in the direction that feels right to you.

I do know that the more in touch we are with the one-self and the more detached we become from the day-to-day self of worrying, the more open we can be to change and creativity.  The more you can accept this, the less fear you will have.

If you can accept this lack of control, you can accept anything that arises and accept that it may be good or bad and you won't know for some time to come, if ever.  Therefore, nothing begins to appear as bad.  Life, as Helen Keller said, can be a "daring adventure," and all events can become learning experiences.

You get to choose the world you want to live in.  It can be a house of fear and constriction or a house of mystery and creativity.  Do you choose anger or compassion about your frailties and the frailties of others?  In your world will it be the fear of death or the joy of life?  It is that simple.

The power of those beliefs was tested in July 2009, when Lee was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. As Lee and his wife, Kathy, navigated his diagnosis, illness, and treatment, he discovered that he did not fear death, and that even as he was facing his own mortality, he felt more fully alive than ever before.  Deeply inspiring, Enjoy Every Sandwich distills everything Lee learned about how we find meaning, purpose, and peace in our lives.


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Never Too Old
Zig Ziglar

George Dawson was born on January 18, 1898.  He was just eight years old when he had his first job and twelve when "his daddy rented him out to a white man."  His brothers and sisters learned to read at a school "for colored children."  George didn't get to go to school because he was the oldest child and and had to work.  He married in 1926 and was a father in 1927.  He held a variety of odd jobs including chopping wood, working in a sawmill, and building levees.  He laid ties for the railroad in east Texas, swept floors, cleaned houses, and for most of his working life ran machines that pasteurized milk at Oak Farms Dairy.

George got by without reading for ninety-eight years and simply trusted people who paid his wages and his wife who read the bills.  In 1996 at age ninety-eight, George Dawson decided he was tired of fishing and it was time to read.  When his teacher started him with six letters, he interrupted him and said, "No, son, I want to see all of them so I can put them together."  He learned his ABCs in just a day and a half and moved on to phonics, breaking the words into pieces and sounding out the parts.  He impatiently said, "No, son, I want to say something that makes sense."  For four hours every day, Monday through Friday, the determined man sat in the same seat in the second row.

At the end of the first month he could write his name, and after almost two years, he could read at a third-grade level.  He read the Scriptures aloud at Holiness of God if they asked him.  He's now over one hundred, but he's still excited about life and still learning.

Everyone should take a lesson from George Dawson:  keep learning, and you'll live longer and have more fun on the trip.  Not only that, but psychiatrist Smiley Blanton says he has never met a senile person, regardless of age, who did three things:  (1) stayed active physically, (2) continued to grow mentally, and (3) developed a genuine interest in other people.  Doing these things will enable you to maintain your mental capabilities, regardless of age.  Psychiatrist Frank Minirth agrees with the observation that Alzheimer's is a disease, but senility, in most cases, is the result of a long series of poor choices.  Choose to read, learn, and grow, and your life will truly be richer and more rewarding.

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God's presence. . . is an inner experience that never changes.
It's a relationship that's there all the time, even when we're
not paying attention to it.  Perhaps the Infinite holds us to Itself
in the same way the earth does.  Like gravity, if it ever stopped
we would know it instantly.  But it never does.

Rachel Naomi Remen



Some Days

Some days I feel quite useless,
And some days I feel quite strong;
Tuesday I feel that nothing goes right,
Then Wednesday will come along.

Some days are meant for joyful noise,
On others, I search for peace at home;
On one day, I'll want the touch of friends,
The next I'll just want to be alone.

If I could just know what each day brings,
I might not have so much fear inside
That I might be wasting my precious time,
That life may be passing me by.

Some days, I'll feel alone and scared,
But some days I'll be quite brave;
One day, I'll live my life full and fun,
And one day, I'll find my grave.

I want to let each day be its own,
And let it give to me what it will.
I need to accept what each day brings,
And not try to bend it to my will.

But if things seem too dark and cold,
I need to look for joy and light;
For not all things that my days bring
Are beautiful and right.

Some days are what they need to be,
Some days need effort so I see
The loveliness the world gives me,
The joy, the wonder, the magical--
The flowers, sun, and trees,
The smiles that you share with me.


How we spend our days is,
of course, how we spend our lives.

Annie Dillard

I suppose the idea of "some days" isn't exactly original, but it's rather new for me.  When I was trying to think about something to write about for this issue, the first two lines of this rather ordinary poem came to me, so I decided to go with it.  There's a big part of me inside that wants to return to writing poetry--I haven't done so for years--and perhaps some days are meant for poems.

But the idea of the poem is very important to me.  I know that the inspiration for the poem is quite real--I attended a cross-country meet with a group of kids that I've been working with yesterday, and it was a strange combination of memories and new experiences, feeling rather useless and enjoying the atmosphere.  In sports, I've always been a coach; with this group, I'm simply a volunteer helping out.  As a coach, I found the meets to be much different for me than yesterday's experience as an onlooker who really didn't have anything to do there on that day but watch.

As a teacher, some days I feel on, some days I feel off.  On the down days, teaching is difficult and it's hard to find motivation and fulfillment.  On the good days, everything clicks and the motivation comes naturally and it's incredibly fulfilling to be a teacher.  It's the same in my family life and in my friendships and in other work that I do, such as creating and maintaining this website.

No one else can decide for any of us what we'll feel or
think about the day.  We have the power to be as
content or as discontent as we make up
our minds to be.


I find that my main interest is to recognize what each day brings and to roll with it, to flow with it, to accept it for what it is and let that be my reality without trying to fight it.  If a day brings grief, then grief is what I need to experience; if it brings hope, then I'll spend the day feeling hopeful.  From both experiences, I can learn much about myself and life.

The danger, of course, is that my moods interfere, and that I'll do something to interfere with what the day brings.  I may be afraid of our financial situation, and then I'll bring worry to the day, and I'll spend that day being stressed out and frantic.  And that day wasn't necessarily meant to be a stressful day--but I've lost the message of the day because I've brought the stress with me into it.

On those days, it's important that I recognize what's going on and do what I can to figure out what's going wrong and to do something about it.  I may need to discuss the situation with someone or I may need to take a deep breath or three and pay attention to my current moment rather than my fears; I may need to read a special book or poem that helps me to re-focus my mind and my thoughts so that I can approach the day in a more positive way.

No matter what happens or does not happen, what comes
or does not come, resolve that you will extract from every
experience of the day something good, something that will
make you wiser and show you how to make
fewer mistakes tomorrow.

Orison Swett Marden

Some days are meant for writing; some days are meant for reading.  Some days are meant to spend with friends; some days are meant to spend alone.  All days bring magic and wonder and beautiful things to us, so no matter what kind of day we find ourselves in, it's important that we pay attention to what's around us and appreciate all that's there, whether we find ourselves in a weak day or a strong day, a brave day or a day full of trepidation. 

More on today.


One of the most important elements
of living life fully is awareness-- awareness of our surroundings, of other people and their motives and fears and desires, of the things that affect us most in our lives, both positively and negatively. In the twelve years of livinglifefully.com's existence, this essay series has been a mainstay of the weekly e-zine--a series that has explored not just the things that exist and that happen around us, but also our reactions to those things. The first five years of the column are now available exclusively on Kindle.



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Success or failure depends more
upon attitude than upon capacity.
Successful people act as though
they have accomplished or are
enjoying something.  Soon it
becomes a reality. Act, look, feel
successful, conduct yourself
accordingly, and you will be
amazed at the positive results.

Dupree Jordan


How then, do we come in contact with ourselves?  Number one, by becoming aware.  Isn't that a nice word--aware?  It kind of hits you right where it matters, doesn't it?  To be aware.  To be aware of everything.  To be aware of life.  To be aware of growth, to be aware of death, to be aware of beauty, to be aware of people, flowers, trees.  Open your mind and begin to see and feel!  Begin to experience, and don't be ashamed of it!  Touch, feel, chew, as you never have before.  Keep growing!  Keep consistently growing. Every moment that you do, you change.  Open your mind, open your heart, open your arms, take it all in.  You can keep taking and taking and taking, and what is, never runs out.  There's always more.  The more that you see in a tree, the more that there is to see.  You hear a Beethoven sonata, and it leads you to infinity.  Pick up a book of poetry, and it leads you to beauty.  You love one person, and that love leads you to hundreds.  Keep growing.

Leo Buscaglia


I have never been bored an hour in my life.  I get up every morning wondering what
new strange glamorous thing is going to happen and it happens at fairly regular intervals.
Lady Luck has been good to me and I fancy she has been good to everyone.  Only some
people are dour, and when she gives them the come hither with her eyes, they look
down or turn away and lift an eyebrow.  But me, I give her the wink and away we go.

William Allen White


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