17 May  2016      

Good day, and welcome to the newest Tuesday in our lives!  We hope that this
day and this week find you to be in good health and high spirits, and that you're
able to make the absolute most of the time you've been given this week in your life!

 Two Lives
Joseph M. Marshall III

Taking Your Fun Every Day as You
Do Your Work      Orison Swett Marden

The Risk, or the Easy Way Out?
tom walsh

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If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.
Angels whisper to a person when one goes for a walk.

Raymond Inmon

The successful person is the individual who forms the habit
of doing what the failing person doesn't like to do.

Donald Riggs

Who builds a church within their hearts
And takes it with them everywhere
Is holier far than they whose church
Is but a one-day house of prayer.

Morris Abel Beer

  

Two Lives
Joseph M. Marshall III

Two women, no longer young, sat together and talked about the lives they had lived.  The first woman had married young and raised several children.  She and her husband had worked hard to have a home and provide for their family.  They had spent their lives in that home in a valley along a river.  Neither of them traveled very far from their valley.  As time went by, their children grew and eventually had children of their own.  But all the years of hard work had finally taken their toll on her husband, and he died.

The second woman, on the other hand, had married a man who was an important official.  His duties took him away from home to far and distant places.  She frequently traveled with her husband, and therefore saw many different lands and people from different backgrounds.  Although her house was filled with treasures from those faraway places, there were no children.  Her husband wanted none, afraid they would hamper his career, and she acquiesced.

So as the two women talked, a question arose in each of their minds.  Why couldn't things have been different?  It troubled each of them that they might have been able to live a different life, and didn't.  Unable to find answers, they decided to speak with a very old woman known for her wisdom and kindness.

The old woman listened to the two women as they told the stories of their lives, and their questions about what might have been.  She was not surprised as she listened to them describe their lives, the dreams realized and unfulfilled.  When they finished, she reached into a closet and withdrew two woven wool blankets, identically plain and gray.  She gave a blanket to each woman.  Then she gave them needles and many spools of different-colored thread.

"Decorate your blankets, each of you," the old woman instructed.  "When you have finished, bring them to me, and then we will talk again."

The two women were a little puzzled, but they did as the old woman bid them.

Many days later the two women returned with their blankets.  Each had decorated one entire side of her blanket.  The old woman was pleased.

"Let us look at your blankets," she said, and hung them on a wall.

"Well,  well," she chuckled, "just as I thought.  Though all I said was to decorate your blankets, each of you has told the story of your life."

Indeed they had.

On the first woman's blanket was a series of scenes, vignettes of her life.  First there was a man and a woman, then babies and children, and children grown into adults with babies of their own.  A man and a woman tilling the Earth and bringing in the harvest; a house standing near a river in a valley beneath a wide sky.  She had used almost every color from the spools of thread; vibrant greens, bright blues, fiery reds, glowing yellows, soothing lavenders, and soft oranges.

The second woman had used the same colors as well, though understandably, the vignettes of her life were different.  On her blanket were pictures of trains and ships, and desert lands, mountain ridges, and great cities, and people with various styles of clothing, and animals of different shapes and sizes.

"You came to me and asked if your lives should have been different.  I believe you have answered your own question, each of you.  Both of your lives could have been different,  if you had made other choices; if you had turned left instead of right, if you had said 'no' instead of 'yes.'  If the lives you lived were unacceptable and you were truly unhappy with them, you would have told the story of your lives as you wished they could have been.  Yet you told them as they were.  You could have changed your stories but you did not.  Now you can think about the choices you make from this moment on."

The two women took their blankets home, and each of them found a wall in her house to hang them.  Every morning each woman awoke and looked at her blanket and faced the day with a smile.  Every evening each looked at her blanket, and whispered a prayer of thanksgiving.

And if you were to ever visit them and see their blankets, chances are you would be drawn to the images and the colors, and not notice the blankets were gray underneath.
   
   

From best-selling Native American
writer Joseph M. Marshall III
comes an inspirational guide
deeply rooted in Lakota
spirituality.

When a young manís father
dies, he turns to his sagacious
grandfather for comfort. Together
they sit underneath the familyís
cottonwood tree, and the grandfather
shares his perspective on life, the
perseverance it requires, and the
pleasure and pain of the journey.

 
   

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Taking Your Fun Every Day as You Do Your Work
Orison Swett Marden

Ten things are necessary for happiness in this life, the first being a good digestion, and the other nine,--money; so at least it is said by our modern philosophers. Yet the author of "A Gentle Life" speaks more truly in saying that the Divine creation includes thousands of superfluous joys which are totally unnecessary to the bare support of life.

He alone is the happy man who has learned to extract happiness, not from ideal conditions, but from the actual ones about him. The man who has mastered the secret will not wait for ideal surroundings; he will not wait until next year, next decade, until he gets rich, until he can travel abroad, until he can afford to surround himself with works of the great masters; but he will make the most out of life to-day, where he is.

"Why thus longing, thus forever sighing,
     
For the far-off, unattained and dim,
While the beautiful, all round thee lying,
      Offers up its low, perpetual hymn?

"Happy the man, and happy he alone,
      He who can call to-day his own;
He who, secure within himself, can say:
      'To-morrow, do thy worst, for I have lived to-day!'"

Paradise is here or nowhere: you must take your joy with you or you will never find it.

It is after business hours, not in them, that we break down. We must, like Philip Armour, turn the key on business when we leave it, and at once unlock the doors of some wholesome recreation. Dr. Lyman Beecher used to divert himself with a violin. He had a regular system of what he called "unwinding," thus relieving the great strain put upon him.

"A man," says Dr. Johnson, "should spend part of his time with the laughers."

Humor was Lincoln's life-preserver, as it has been of thousands of others. "If it were not for this," he used to say, "I should die." His jests and quaint stories lighted the gloom of dark hours of national peril.

"Next to virtue," said Agnes Strickland, "the fun in this world is what we can least spare."

"When the harness is off," said Judge Haliburton, "a critter likes to kick up his heels."

"I have fun from morning till night," said the editor Charles A. Dana to a friend who was growing prematurely old. "Do you read novels, and play billiards, and walk a great deal?"

Gladstone early formed a habit of looking on the bright side of things, and never lost a moment's sleep by worrying about public business.

There are many out-of-door sports, and the very presence of nature is to many a great joy. How true it is that, if we are cheerful and contented, all nature smiles with us,--the air seems more balmy, the sky more clear, the earth has a brighter green, the trees have a richer foliage, the flowers are more fragrant, the birds sing more sweetly, and the sun, moon, and stars all appear more beautiful. "It is a grand thing to live, to open the eyes in the morning and look out upon the world, to drink in the pure air and enjoy the sweet sunshine, to feel the pulse bound, and the being thrill with the consciousness of strength and power in every nerve; it is a good thing simply to be alive, and it is a good world we live in, in spite of the abuse we are fond of giving it."

"I love to hear the bee sing amid the blossoms sunny;
To me his drowsy melody is sweeter than his honey:
      For, while the shades are shifting
        Along the path to noon,
      My happy brain goes drifting
        To dreamland on his tune.

"I love to hear the wind blow amid the blushing petals,
And when a fragile flower falls, to watch it as it settles;
      And view each leaflet falling
        Upon the emerald turf,
      With idle mind recalling
        The bubbles on the surf.

"I love to lie upon the grass, and let my glances wander
Earthward and skyward there; while peacefully I ponder
      How much of purest pleasure
        Earth holds for his delight
      Who takes life's cup to measure
        Naught but its blessings bright."

Upon every side of us are to be found what one has happily called--UNWORKED JOY MINES.  And he who goes "prospecting" to see what he can daily discover is a wise man, training his eye to see beauty in everything and everywhere.

"One ought, every day," says Goethe, "at least to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words." And if this be good for one's self, why not try the song, the poem, the picture, and the good words, on some one else?

Shall music and poetry die out of you while you are struggling for that which can never enrich the character, nor add to the soul's worth? Shall a disciplined imagination fill the mind with beautiful pictures? He who has intellectual resources to fall back upon will not lack for daily recreation most wholesome.

It was a remark of Archbishop Whately that we ought not only to cultivate the cornfields of the mind, but the pleasure-grounds also. A well-balanced life is a cheerful life; a happy union of fine qualities and unruffled temper, a clear judgment, and well-proportioned faculties.

In a corner of his desk, Lincoln kept a copy of the latest humorous work; and it was frequently his habit, when fatigued, annoyed, or depressed, to take this up, and read a chapter with great relief. Clean, sensible wit, or sheer nonsense,--anything to provoke mirth and make a man jollier,--this, too, is a gift from Heaven.

In the world of books, what is grand and inspiring may easily become a part of every man's life. A fondness for good literature, for good fiction, for travel, for history, and for biography,--what is better than this?
   

   

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The transition from rebellion to acceptance has an extremely important
consequence. . . in which we start seeing life as a training school,
to teach us what we need to learn.

Piero Ferrucci

   

 

The Risk, or the Easy Way out?

Sometimes I see things very clearly.  Sometimes this is a curse.  It becomes a curse when I find myself facing the dilemma:  do I say something about what I see, or do I stay quiet?  It's a very strong dilemma, because usually after I weigh the pros and cons, the right thing seems to be to say something, and that almost always brings repercussions, even if I'm simply telling the truth.  Many people don't want to hear the truth, though, for it complicates their lives. 

Here's an example:  somebody is conducting training for the people in your office.  The trainer is unprepared, ineffective, and basically wasting everyone's time.  You see this, and it frustrates you to know that everyone's wasting their time and not really learning anything that would be helpful to them in their jobs.

Do you say anything?  If you're fortunate, you'll have a boss or supervisor who's willing to listen and actually do something about it.  But most of us aren't fortunate, and we have bosses or supervisors who don't want to do anything about such a problem because to do so would mean them sticking their necks out and doing more work trying to deal with the problem.  Besides, the company has already paid for the training, so let's just sit through it like good little boys and girls and then go back to our jobs.

Even worse, whenever you decide to make a complaint, valid or not, you run the risk of being seen as not a "team player."  You run the risk of being labeled a whiner or complainer.  Now, there are people who do whine or complain a lot, but there are also people who, when they see something wrong, feel a moral and ethical imperative to try to do something to right the wrong, even if that's just by bringing it to the attention of someone who should be able to do something about it.

I go through this all the time.  Very often, I'll weigh the pros and cons and decide not to say anything at all, for the potential positive results simply aren't strong enough to balance out the potential negative results.

Other times, though, I have to be like Atticus Finch, who tells his children that he defended Tom Robinson because it was the right thing to do, and if he didn't do so, he wouldn't have been able to hold his head high and ask his kids to be true to their own morals.  I know that if I don't say anything, I won't be able to live with myself if I don't say something.  I know that I would become a hypocrite or a liar if I stay silent, and then, no matter what the outcome, I say what I know to be right.

Such an action is not without its negative results.  When we point out flaws, people tend to feel threatened, and they tend to react defensively.  Sometimes they'll insult you to make your argument seem less valid in their eyes--after all, if they can talk down to you, then what does your opinion or voice matter?  Other times, they'll criticize you in order to discredit who you are and what you say.  If they're insecure enough, they may even make personal attacks to try to harm you.  None of these results are all that great, but what is the alternative?

It's quite simple--the alternative is to go on in your life knowing that when something needed to be said, you didn't have the courage to say it.  When change needed to be made for the good of others, you didn't have the courage to work for that change.  And if I'm to live my life fully, I simply can't go through my days having allowed something wrong to continue.  How many people live lives filled with regret because of an action that they didn't take, or a decision that they didn't make?

I just watched a school administrator listen to someone tell him that a man with psychotic tendencies had threatened a student in the school, and his response was to do nothing.  Kids still went out to recess, nothing changed at all except that the front door was locked.  Thankfully, nothing happened.  I know that in his position, I never would have made the same decision to do nothing, for I would rather other people look at me as if I were a fool for overreacting, then to have to live my life in regret for having neglected to act.  He dodged a bullet, and he'll just shrug and say, "See, I was right--nothing happened."

I'm sure that there are many people at many schools that have suffered violent attacks who wish that they could say that.

In my life, I want to make the decisions that are always for the good of the many, even if they put me in awkward situations.  I'd rather be fired from a job for airing an important grievance than continue to work under wrongful conditions, for then I'm dealing with the conditions and the knowledge that I let cowardice overrule my good judgment.  And then what kind of life will I be leading?

   
More on expectations.

   

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The lessons of great men and
women are lost unless they
reinforce upon our minds
the highest demands which
we make upon ourselves;
they are lost unless they
drive our sluggish wills
forward in the direction
of their highest ideas.


Jane Addams

  
Look at life through the windshield, not the rearview mirror.

My sister Barbara tried to teach me this lesson more than twenty years ago.  At the time, she was planning her wedding under what I can only describe as bittersweet circumstances.  On the one hand, my sister was about to realize a life-long dream:  at age thirty-eight, she was about to marry the man she had been in love with since they were teenagers.  On the other, she had just been diagnosed with colon cancer. . . .

"What good would it do to be angry, Patsy?" she said gently.  "I can't change the past and I can't control the future.  I can, however, make the most of the present.  Shot and I are together now.  At this moment.  And, if you think about it, this moment is all any of us really has."

The ability to live fully in the moment--in the time and place we are right now--is one of the greatest secrets I know of living joyfully.  Because once you grasp it, freedom is very close.  You stop worrying about the past and stressing out about the future.  Enjoying life--not agonizing about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow--becomes your priority.  Your days become a gift, not a grind.

Patti LaBelle

While ideas such as discipline and focus are
undeniably important, so is the idea of having fun.
With a small amount of effort, we can extract
all the fun and joy out of most parts of our lives--
our relationships, our work, even our leisure time.
We can put so many restrictions and should's on
everything we do that our very lives become dull, 
overly ponderous, and routine.  Before long, we find
ourselves living up to a set of rules--and we're not
certain where the rules came from or whose they are.
Let yourself go.  Have a little fun with life.  Or, have
a lot of fun with life.  If you've spent years being
extremely disciplined, reliable, and somber, maybe
part of achieving balance is having a decade of fun.

Melody Beattie

   
  

Everybody avoids the company of those who are always grumbling, who are
full of "ifs" and "buts," and "I told you so's."  We like the people who always
look toward the sun, whether it shines or not.  It is the cheerful, hopeful people
we go to for sympathy and assistance; not the carping, gloomy critics,--who always
think it is going to rain, and that we are going to have a terribly hot
summer, or a fearful thunder-storm, or who are forever complaining of hard
times and their hard lot.  It is the bright, cheerful, hopeful, contented people
who makes their ways, who are respected and admired.
Gloom and depression not only take much out of life, but detract greatly
from the chances of winning success.  It is the bright and cheerful
spirit that wins the final triumph.

Orison Swett Marden

    

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