16 January 2018      

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Be an Original
Regina Brett

Anything You Want
tom walsh

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I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of nuclear destruction.  I believe that the unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The greatest friend of truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.

Charles Caleb Colton

We all get 24 hours a day.  It's the only fair thing;
it's the only thing that's equal.  It's up to us as to
what we do with those 24 hours.

Sam Huff

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



The Navajo have a prayer:

May I walk with Beauty before me.
May I walk with Beauty behind me.
May I walk with Beauty above me.
May I walk with Beauty below me.
May I walk with Beauty all around me.
As I walk the Beauty way.

What is this beauty that the Navajo seek?  It is what pulls us toward life.  It is what calls to us when we despair, seduces us into opening again and again to the possibility of love and laughter.  It is the physical manifestation of the Mystery--God, Spirit, the Divine--that surrounds and beckons to us every day of our lives.  It is life that chooses life.  The Navajo prayer expresses our souls' desire to recognize and receive beauty, knowing that as we do so we become co-creators of this beauty, of that which urges, "Live."

Many spiritual paths--both traditional and New Age--posit a hierarchy of beauty.  If they give any recognition to the sacred as it is manifest physically, such acknowledgment is confined to the nonhuman natural world and relegated to a status below that of the "purer" beauty of the human spirit or mind.  Often, being in physical form is seen as a trial, a burden to be endured, a time to learn vital lessons for the time when we can escape the limitations of our bodies and graduate to the "higher" metaphysical afterlife.

I don't know what happens when we die.  But I do know what happens when we live with this separation of spirit and matter.  Beauty becomes merely physical packaging, and those with power define what is pleasing based on profitability and subjective preferences.  It is easy to become cynical about how the marketplace has used our desire for beauty to sell us a narrow version of what cannot be bought or sold.  We know the costs of this:  eating disorders, self-hatred, endless striving for physical perfection.  It's tempting to protect ourselves from this manipulation by devaluing the physical as meaningless or less important than the emotional, mental, and spiritual.  But this perpetuates the split that is so familiar.  This separation of spirit and matter leaves us with a spirituality that lacks the vitality and fire of the physical, and expressions of our creativity and sexuality are cut off from the depths of our hearts and meaning of our souls. . . .

Seeing beauty is not about narrowing our vision, designating only some of its manifestations as worthy.  It means expanding our definition of beauty, suspending our judgments, and appreciating both the quiet joy of riding a bicycle along the lake and the raunchy glee of driving a cherry-red sports car that hugs the open highway.  It means accepting the truth of being a middle-aged woman as it is reflected in both the lines and sagging muscles of my face and belly and the shine of my eyes. . . .

Tell me, can you see beauty?  Can you let it renew your commitment to life, every day?  I don't want to wait for death to be near us to receive beauty in my life.  I want to be awed every day by the truth--pretty or painful--and let it open me to the beauty that surrounds me and draws me deeper and deeper into my own life.

More on beauty


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Be an Original
Regina Brett

The best graduation speeches are short.  Few people remember long speeches.  The Gettysburg Address was two minutes long.  The other guy who talked for two hours?  Few remember the message Edward Everett gave that day.

Lincoln was either humble or naive to say, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here."  We've never forgotten those words posted next to his monument in Washington, D.C., that end with "that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

I don't remember who spoke at my high school graduation or my two college graduations.  I've given a commencement address to a high school, to a college, and to a police academy.  When I consulted what other great speakers had said, most of them urged graduates to follow their own path, quoting Henry David Thoreau, who wrote about marching to the beat of a different drummer.

How do you follow your own path?

You let life prune you.  The job you don't want could lead to the career you do want.  The lover you longed for but who didn't stick around may enable you to find the perfect mate at the next dinner party.  Rejection is a necessary part of the pruning process.  Before I graduated from college, I sent out 30 resumes and got 30 rejection letters back.  The painful process of elimination led me to the only door left open, the journalism job at a small paper that jump-started my career.

Never say never.  The job you don't want could lead to the career you do want.

I told myself I'd never write government news and business news.  Too boring, too stiff, too dry.  My first job?  Covering city hall for the Lorain Journal in Lorain, Ohio.  My next job?  Covering business for the Beacon Journal in Akron.  Wrong job, but the right place.

Expand the box.  Instead of waiting for your boss to give you a title and job description, give yourself your own title and grow into it.  Don't say, "I'm just a (fill in the blank)."  Act as if you are more.  Meet your boss's agenda first, but always meet your agenda, too.  Rather than wait for your new lover to say "I love you" first, why don't you take the chance?  Take risks and love first.

Love the work in progress that you are right now:  You aren't a finished product.  You are constantly evolving.  Honor the great design of the Master.  Uncover the blueprint of your soul.  Be creative.  Daring.  Outlandish.  Outrageous.  Be an original.  Be you.  I remember hearing about a man who was so enamored by the work of Mother Teresa that he wrote her often about coming to Calcutta to make her work his life's work.  One day he finally got a letter back.  Her words stunned him:  "Find your own Calcutta."

Create your own map.  Instead of finding your place in the world, design one.  Don't use someone else's map.  The problem with maps (besides the fact that you can never fold them back up) is that they will only take you to where someone else has already been.  That's why there is no map for the rest of your life.  Plus, maps are too conservative.  There are no exclamation points on a map.

Don't go to Notre Dame just because everyone in your family went there if your heart is set on Georgetown.  Don't go to college if your real dream is to work on the railroad and you've heard that whistle blowing in your heart ever since you were a child.  Don't stay in the small town you grew up in and work at your family's business if your heart's desire is to be onstage in New York or in a director's chair in Hollywood.

When you run out of a map, use a compass.  We each have one.  It's inside of you.  It points to your true north, the place designed for you alone, to your heart's desire, to that spot God designed for you alone.  Consult it whenever you feel lost.

Listen to yourself.  Silence the voices all around you.  People will come by and shake the snow globe that is your world.  A critical comment, some idle gossip, a slammed door, and the snow starts swirling.  Be calm, be quiet.  Let it all swirl.  It will all settle and you'll discover that the treasure inside remains steadfast and strong.

There's a true place for everyone.  Yours doesn't belong to anyone else.  


Free Wallpaper!  Just click below
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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you
didn't do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail
away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade wind in your sails.
Explore.  Dream.  Discover.




Anything You Want

I'm constantly surprised when I hear people claim limitations in the world.  At school meetings, I regularly hear people say things like, "Society doesn't allow us to say things like that," or "You can't do that in today's world."  We start to look at the ways that "society" (whatever that is) "limits" us, and we accept as fact those limitations and never do anything to work past them.  Usually, it has to do with negative things that human beings tend to do, such as using racial slurs or harming other people, and the common conception is that these things just "can't be done."

This isn't true, though.  As human beings, we can do whatever we desire to do--as long as we're willing to face the consequences of doing so.  I can use any racial slur that I want if I'm willing to hurt and offend someone else.  The fact is that I'm not willing to hurt other people in that way, so I don't use racial slurs.

The fact is, though, that nobody is preventing me from doing so.

Legally speaking, of course, there are certain things that are or have been prohibited for certain groups of people.  Women couldn't vote for many, many years in our country, and in some places in the world, they still can't.  In that situation, human beings really are keeping other human beings from doing something.

On the other hand, there are laws about driving and age that are designed for public safety that keep young people from driving.  Or do they?  The simple fact is, of course, that a 12-year-old can get into a car and drive it whenever he or she wants--that person just needs to be aware that they will face consequences if they're caught doing so.  The same with drinking laws--any 16-year-old can (and very often does) drink whatever he or she wants; it's only when they get caught doing so that they face social consequences.


There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done, there are thousands
to prophesy failure.  There are thousands to point out to you, one by
one, the dangers that await to assail you.  But just buckle in with a bit
of a grin, just take off your coat and go to it; just start to sing as
you tackle the thing that "cannot be done," and you'll do it.

Edgar Guest

This dynamic concerns me because I so often hear students talking about what they "can" and "can't" do in the world because of things they've been taught by their parents, teachers, and fellow students.  Very often, they're saying that certain things are impossible--and they talk themselves into not even trying them because of their perception of the impossibility.  Many of these are positive things, such as starting their own businesses, becoming dancers or artists or musicians, or even going to college.  Often, those beliefs of impossibility are based on their ethnicity--"This town won't elect a Mexican to the town council," or "People of my race just don't get into that profession."

I know a lot of people who have been on the planet longer than others, and they see their age as a huge limitation--"no one will hire someone my age."  "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."  "I'll never get this new technology, so I'm not even going to try."

In all of these cases, we allow our perception of the world and how the people of the world see us to limit what we're willing to try to do for ourselves.  You may be right--this company may not want to hire someone your age.  But what's keeping you from applying anyway?  What obstacle is in your way that keeps you from putting your name and experience out there?  If you don't do so because you're convinced that you won't get hired before you ever find out if that's a true belief or not, then the only obstacle in the way is you and your beliefs.

If we listened to our intellect, we'd never have a love affair.  We'd never
have a friendship.  We'd never go into business, because we'd be cynical.
Well, that's nonsense.  You've got to jump off cliffs all the time
and build your wings on the way down.

Ray Bradbury

It's simply a question of limiting our own potential because of our beliefs and perceptions.  We spend much of our time thinking worrying about how other people see us, what they think of us, how they judge us.

Usually, we don't want to cause harm to other people or to do things that would make us pariahs in our own communities.  So we avoid doing certain things that would cause that to happen.

But we also want to be protected against other people who don't care about how much harm they cause, either physically, spiritually, or emotionally.  That's why there are laws against such things as hate speech, sexual assault, and murder, among many other things.  We always have to keep in mind, though, that there actually are people who truly don't care about the harm they cause others as long as they receive some sort of personal gratification for their actions.  These are the people who cause much harm in our societies, and it's that harm that we're trying to avoid and prevent when we make laws "prohibiting" certain actions.

The truth of the matter is that very often, the law isn't the reason that many people don't do many things they feel the urge to do--the threat of punishment after the action is the true motivation behind a person not committing certain acts.

What stops people from trying new things and taking new risks?
They keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting that
they will get different results.  Their ideas and habits keep them in
the same restricted path, like the polar bear at the zoo who was
tethered when first placed in his enclosure, since it wasn’t finished
and there was the danger that he might escape.  After the enclosure
was completed, he was freed of the tether, but he continued to pace
in the same restricted area.  Similarly, we sometimes do ineffective
things over and over again, and view things the same way over and
over again, and therefore stay stuck where we don’t
want to be (and don’t have to be, I might add).

Bill O’Hanlon

So is my point that we all should just do whatever we feel the urge to do whenever the urge hits us?  Of course not.  But it is important to make sure that we realize the full extent of actions that are available to us, and to make decisions about which ones we're willing to take and which ones we're not.  I'm willing to speak out against an injustice, even if doing so makes people angry at me or makes me unpopular.  I'm not willing to use hate speech to make a point--any point--because I know that the harm from my speech will outweigh any value that might result from the speech.  And that's harm to other people and to me.  I'm not willing to harm others for my own gain.

I'm also willing to take a risk when I've considered the consequences of both failing and succeeding and found them to be worth that risk.  I'm willing to take on a new responsibility when I know that it won't compromise my ability to fulfill my current responsibilities, and when I know that it will be worth my time.

I can do anything I want to.  Sometimes taking a huge risk may mean that I spend several months living on almost no money at all--but I can still do it (and have done so).

Let's not let "society" tell us what's right for us.  Many of society's rules are very important for protecting people and keeping order, but many other ways that societal norms tend to limit us can be harmful to us.  Look at the possible consequences, make sure that you're not going to harm someone else just for your own gain, then make a decision one way or another--that's really the only way that we're going to turn our lives into extraordinary lives.

More on risk.




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Being busy does not always
mean real work.  The object of
all work is production or accomplishment
and to either of these ends there
must be forethought, system, planning,
intelligence, and honest
purpose, as well as perspiration.
Seeming to do is not doing.

Thomas Alva Edison

Wherever You Are, Be There
Jim Rohn

One of the major reasons why we fail to find happiness or to create a unique lifestyle is because we have not yet mastered the art of being.

While we are home our thoughts are still absorbed with solving the challenges we face at the office. And when we are at the office we find ourselves worrying about problems at home.

We go through the day without really listening to what others are saying to us. We may be hearing the words, but we aren't absorbing the message.

As we go through the day we find ourselves focusing on past experiences or future possibilities. We are so involved in yesterday and tomorrow that we never even notice that today is slipping by.

We go through the day rather than getting something from the day. We are everywhere at any given moment in time except living in that moment in time.

Lifestyle is learning to be wherever you are. It is developing a unique focus on the current moment, and drawing from it all of the substance and wealth of experience and emotions that it has to offer. Lifestyle is taking time to watch a sunset. Lifestyle is listening to silence. Lifestyle is capturing each moment so that it becomes a new part of what we are and of what we are in the process of becoming. Lifestyle is not something we do; it is something we experience. And until we learn to be there, we will never master the art of living well.


People talk about the middle of the road as though it were unacceptable.
Actually, all human problems, excepting morals, come into the gray areas.
Things are not all black and white.  There have to be compromises.
The middle of the road is all of the usable surface.
The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.

Dwight D. Eisenhower




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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