19 September 2017      

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The Secret of Life (an excerpt)
Regina Brett

Attachment (an excerpt)
Iyanla Vanzant

More Bison Ahead
tom walsh

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In the family it is said Gabe "doesn't notice much--his head is in the clouds."  He accepts this criticism as complimentary:  "In the clouds?  Oh, thank you.  I try."

Laura Cunningham

They are wise people who do not grieve for the things which they have not, but rejoice for those which they have.

Epictetus

Here I am, fifty-eight, and I still
don't know what I'm going
to be when I grow up.

Peter Drucker

  
The Secret of Life (an excerpt)
Regina Brett

People used to turn to spiritual directors for the answer to life.  Lately they've been turning to life coaches.  My money is on the monks who say that the secret is to find God in the present moment.  If you do that, you'll discover the secret of life is no secret.

It's a baggy pair of overalls.  Poems by Mary Oliver and Billy Collins.  Music by Louis Armstrong.  Chocolate by Godiva.

It's listening with both ears.  Asking someone to dance.  Driving with the top down.  Loving the reflection in the mirror.  Waiting up for your parents.  Giving everyone a chance.  Not counting strikes or foul balls.  Not keeping score.  The cool side of the pillow.

The secret of life is knowing no one gets out of here alive.  Loving every minute.  Carrying a spare.  Remembering to check your oil.  Wearing cotton.  Knowing when to let go.  Holding a newborn.  Laughing when you're happy.  Crying when you're sad.  Getting out of the way.  Leaving notes in a lunch box.  Daring to be different.

Having no regrets.  Loving God regardless.  Making peace with dandelions.

Having friends who are computer literate.  Charging less than expected.  Loving a child.  Complimenting your boss.  Smiling at customers.  Teaching someone to spell.  Making cookies from scratch.

Showing up with flowers.  Reading the funny pages.  Skipping class.  Starting with dessert.  Wearing red underwear.  Burning the good candles.  Never growing up.  Never growing old.  Country line dancing.  A squeaky porch swing.  Saturday morning cartoons.

The secret of life is forgetting what you were mad about.  Toasting the newlyweds.  Speaking up for yourself.  Praying for others.  Playing peekaboo with a baby.  Flipping the mattress.  Hiring a maid.  Wearing comfortable shoes.  Knowing the mail carrier's name.  Letting traffic into your lane.  Singing Christmas carols in July.  Taking walks that go nowhere.  Watching Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire dance.

Thick chocolate milk shakes.  Twelve-step meetings.  Decaf after 8 p.m.  Trips to the ocean.  Merry-go-rounds.  A swimsuit you can bend over in.  SPF 30 sunscreen.  A warm of gloves.  Group therapy.  Bubble baths by candlelight.  Flannel pajamas.  A pack of 64 crayons.  A song in your heart.

Obeying the speed limit.  Returning what you borrow.  Pruning your apple trees.  Leaving big tips.  Paying bills on time.  Not getting bees mad.  Honoring your wedding vows.  Performing somersaults in the front yard.  Thanking a teacher.  Getting on your knees to pray.  Being persistent.  Ordering takeout.  Letting your employees leave early.

The secret of life is rolling down hills.  Having grass fights.  Singing in the rain.  Receiving real letters written in cursive.  Knowing where all the birds' nests are.  Leaving spiderwebs alone.  Asking stupid questions.  Wishing on falling stars.  Never going to bed angry.  Asking for help.

Butterfly kisses.  Winnie-the-Pooh.  Campfire songs.  Open sunroofs.  Rides in the country.  New socks.  Tire swings.  Recess.  A bowl of cereal before bed.  Fireworks.  A good novel on the nightstand.  Drive-in movies.  The Serenity Prayer.  Someone to confide in.  A fat, juicy peach.  Teddy bears with one eye. . . .

The secret of life is no secret.  It's sprinkled all over your life.  It's celebrating what already is.  Right here.  Right now.  All around you.
 
 

Through a collection of inspirational essays, Regina shares lessons that will help people make a difference in the world around them. The lessons come from Regina's life experience and from the lives of others, especially those she has met in her 24 years as a journalist. Each chapter is a lesson that can stand alone, but together they form a handbook for seeing the miracle of change everywhere.

   

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Attachment (an excerpt)
Iyanla Vanzant

When you are attached to the way things are, it is very difficult to put your faith in anything else.  You do not trust yourself to risk experiencing anything other than what you already know.  You do not trust life to bring you the results or rewards you desire.  You do not trust that you can and will handle whatever comes your way.  Without trust, there can be no faith.  Without faith, you will hold on to what you know.  In the process, you will not be making any progress.

Attachment is another way of saying, "I don't have faith in anything else!  I know what this is!  I can handle this!"  You want to control your experiences and your responses.  You see, rather than fight with you for control, life will send you into the pit of stagnation.  This can be extremely painful!

Attachment reflects a lack of faith in your ability to learn.  Learning takes place three ways.  You learn by force.  You learn by choice.  You learn by being forced to make a choice.  When you are attached to what you know or what you can control, chances are you will be forced to make a choice.  You can choose to stay attached and be stagnated in pain and confusion.  Or you can let go in faith that your next experience will be exactly what you need, but did not know you needed.

Until today, you may have been holding on, attached to the way things are.  Just for today, open your heart to the possibility that there is something great waiting for you.  Let go of anything or anyone you are attached to, in faith that you will be pleasantly surprised.

  
  

Whatever has been going on in your mind, your life, or your heart can stop—right now, if that is truly what you desire. However, you must be willing to “do a new thing.” You must spend a little time, each day, in devotion to the truth about yourself and your life. You must make a conscious approach to what you think, what you feel, and what you do. Devotion will clear up misconceptions that may have obscured your vision until today!

   

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There are two worlds: the world that we can measure with line and rule,
and the world that we can feel with our hearts and imagination.

Leigh Hunt

   

 

More Bison Ahead

We've lived near Yellowstone National Park for several years now, which means, of course, that we've made a lot of trips to visit in the recent past.  We tend to avoid the place in the summer, but every once in a while we end up having to drive through it in the more crowded times.  A couple of weeks ago we ended up having to be there on Labor Day weekend, and it wasn't pleasant.

Mostly, the unpleasantness comes from people making awful decisions.  It's very crowded and congested, but people still decide to stop in the middle of the road just to look at an animal--no matter how much of a dangerous situation they create with their vehicle.  You'll find roads entirely blocked off because someone wants a snapshot of a bison or an elk, and they're fine with stopping wherever they want, no matter what the risk to others.

   
But this time through I noticed something fascinating.  As we were driving westward through the Lamar Valley, we saw hundreds of bison.  They were everywhere.  And because there were so many of them, the people watching them weren't creating any sort of dangerous situations with their vehicles.

A few miles later, though, we came across a horrible traffic situation--caused because people were parked half-way into the road just to look at a single, solitary bison that was sitting on the ground next to the road.  Cars trying to get by had to squeeze through a narrow passage that was only allowing one direction of traffic at a time.  It was truly ridiculous.

I understand people wanting to see wildlife.  It's a wonderful experience in a lot of ways.  But stopping that way causes a situation that's good for no one, and very dangerous--both to people in vehicles and animals all around.  And it is quite illegal to stop where there are no pull-outs--the Park Service makes it very clear that it's not legal to do so.
    
But what struck me most on that day was the fact that these people were creating such a dangerous situation over a single bison when just a few miles down the road there were hundreds more to be seen.  "Keep going," I wanted to tell them.  "There are many more ahead!"

And I started thinking about whether I do this in my life.  How often do I get so caught up in one thing that I like that I don't even think that if I were to leave it and move on with things, I might find even more of that same thing up ahead?  How often do I spend my time looking at that single bison because I'm scared that if I don't do so, I won't see any bison at all?

And that does happen in the park--there are days when there are no bison to be seen at all, no elk or deer to be experienced.  They're just elsewhere.  And that can be rather disappointing.  So if you do see one, you want to make sure you get a good long look at it.

But we can get stuck in jobs that are unpleasant because we don't trust that life has another job for us somewhere up ahead.  We can get stuck in destructive relationships because we don't trust that there's someone else for us somewhere in our future.  We can end up living in a place that isn't good for us because we don't think there's a better place available for us.  We settle for the place we live in and we pull over and park, not realizing that if we're patient and we keep looking, there will be something else out there.
   
We had the advantage of driving from east to west through the park, so we saw the very large herds first.  The people driving in the opposite direction saw the lone bison first, and they overreacted, causing major traffic problems and a very dangerous situation.  If there had been places to pull over safely and park, there would have been no danger at all, but that wasn't the case where they were.  Sometimes, it's better to deprive ourselves of a certain opportunity because it's not good for us or for other people.  Sometimes we need to drive on and not cause that traffic tie-up, and trust that life will have something nice for us in the future.  And if it's not another bison, it may be an elk or a fox or a deer--but it will be at a place where it's safe to pull over and see them without putting other people's lives or safety in danger or disrupting traffic in general.

   
More on perspective.

   

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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Sometimes during the day, I consciously focus on some ordinary object and allow myself a momentary "paying-attention."  This paying-attention gives meaning to my life.  I don't know who it was, but someone said that careful attention paid to anything is a window into the universe.  Pausing to think this way, even for a brief moment, is very important.  It gives quality to my day.

Robert Fulghum

  
Most of us play it safe by putting our needs aside when faced with the possibility of feeling guilty, disappointing others, or facing conflict of some kind.  At home you may abdicate your need for support with the kids to keep peace with the spouse, letting your resentment build over time.  At work you may allow a complaining coworker to keep draining your energy to avoid confrontation--and end up hating your job.  Or you may go right back to saying yes to family members who give you a hard time to avoid their emotional rejection, only to feel frustrated by the lack of quality time that you have for yourself.  We work hard to manage the perceptions of others, ignoring our own needs, and in the end we surrender the very thing that will allow us to live authentic, meaningful lives--our power.
   We have been trained to surrender our power early in life.  Each of us has been taught to live by the rules imposed on us in both subtle and not so subtle ways by generations of parental influences, societal demands, religious expectations, and educational training.

Cheryl Richardson
Stand Up for Your Life
   

  

If you can approach the world's complexities, both its glories and its horrors,
with an attitude of humble curiosity, acknowledging that however deeply you
have seen, you have only scratched the surface, you will find worlds within
worlds, beauties you could not heretofore imagine, and your own mundane
preoccupations will shrink to proper size, not all that
important in the greater scheme of things.

Daniel C. Dennett
Breaking the Spell

    

  

   

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