1 May 2018      

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Growth That Starts from Thinking
Eleanor Roosevelt

The Best Methods for Clearing Things away
Tiki Kustenmacher

Child-like, Not Childish
tom walsh

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Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.

John Lubbock

Don't play for safety.  It's the most dangerous
thing in the world.

Hugh Walpole

Success is not measured by how well you fulfill the expectations of others, but by how honestly you live up to your own expectations.

Linda Principe


Growth That Starts from Thinking
Eleanor Roosevelt

It seems to me a very difficult thing to put into words the beliefs we hold and what they make you do in your life.  I think I was fortunate because I grew up in a family where there was a very deep religious feeling.  I don't think it was spoken of a great deal.  It was more or less taken for granted that everybody held certain beliefs and needed certain reinforcement of their own strength and that that came through your belief in God and your knowledge of prayer.

But as I grew older I questioned a great many of the things that I knew very well my grandmother who brought me up had taken for granted.  And I think I might have been quite a difficult person to live with if it hadn't been for the fact that my husband once said it didn't do you any harm to learn those things, so why not let your children learn them?  When they grow up, they'll think things out for themselves.

And that gave me a feeling that perhaps that's what we all had to do--think out for ourselves what we could believe and how we could live by it.  And so I came to the conclusion that you had to use this life to develop the very best that you could develop.

I don't know whether I believe in a future life.  I believe that all that you go through here must have some value; therefore, there must be some reason.  And there must be some "going on."  How exactly that happens, I've never been able to decide.

There is a future--that I'm sure of.  But how, that I don't know.  And I came to feel that it didn't really matter very much because whatever the future held, you'd have to face it when you came to it, just as whatever life holds, you have to face it in exactly the same way.  And the important thing was that you never let down doing the best that you were able to do--it might be poor because you might not have very much within you to give, or to help other people with, or to live your life with.  But as long as you did the very best that you were able to do, then that was what you were put here to do, and that was what you were accomplishing by being here.

And so I have tried to follow that out--and not to worry about the future or what was going to happen.  I think I am pretty much a fatalist.  You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.

more on acceptance


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The Best Methods for Clearing Things away
Tiki Kustenmacher

We are surrounded by chaos, ruled by the dragons of anarchy.  That's how the ancient Babylonians saw the world.  In this primordial mess, there is a tiny air bubble--the earth we live on.  But if we're not careful, the chaos can invade everywhere again.

An idea that describes our everyday experience very well is that order is not a natural phenomenon.  Chaos is the norm and we have to fight it every day.  You could say that, according to Murphy's Law, any disorder that could possibly occur will occur.

A home where nothing is left lying around and where you could eat off the floor does not make for a simple life, because you spend so much time cleaning.  It can even become a source of stress ("Don't bring any more guests who don't want to take their shoes off!").  Tidying up and cleaning can become an unhealthy obsession that can become the center of your life.

Simplicity means finding the golden mean between chaos and obsession:  accepting a certain degree of disorder with an easygoing attitude but not giving in to the demons of chaos.

No One Is Born Messy

An excessive tendency to keep things is not a basic personality characteristic like being left-handed or having red hair.  Many people describe themselves as messy and consider it to be a permanent trait.  However, it is a proven fact that messiness is only a temporary condition, in some ways comparable to a slight obsession.

Every obsession is a search and every search has a healthy core:  often people want to do something for others with their passion for collecting things or they have had a drastic experience of deficiency in their past.  The only thing to do here is to be honest with ourselves about this tendency toward obsession and to work consistently to bring it down to a reasonable level, with help from someone else if necessary.

Begin with Small Steps

It's better to deal with one drawer or one shelf section each day than to undertake some gigantic challenge ("totally clear out the cellar," "spring-cleaning of all wardrobes").  Divide the work up into easily digestible sections.  Otherwise you will lose heart and the chaos will be bigger than you again.

Select one self-contained unit to begin with.  A unit could be one drawer, one shelf, one filing tray, one box, or one pencil holder (you know, that thing where you put all kinds of odds and ends).  What never works is "tidy up a shelf from left to right" or "keep on restoring a bit of order in a drawer."

Start with something that you can clear up completely in two to three hours:  the herbs and spices shelf in the kitchen, a drawer in your desk, or the socks section of your wardrobe.  The procedure then consists of five steps:

1.  All or nothing.  Clear everything out of the relevant unit (shelf, drawer, cupboard shelf).

2.  Make it shine.  Clean the empty unit till it sparkles and take pleasure in the fact that it's soon going to look really nice.

3.  The magic three.  Divide the contents (now lying on the ground) into three heaps:

*  Wonderful.  Anything that is really useful and in good working order goes into the pile with this name.  You put it where it belongs.  But be critical:  it must be really wonderful and have proved its worth.  Ideally, it will be something that also has an emotional element--something that you like and use with pleasure.  Here are a couple of proven ways of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.  Have I used it even once in the last two years?  If it were stolen, would I replace it?  If you find more than one of something (e.g., five pencils, two local telephone directories), select the best one and put the others into one of the next two categories.

*  Real trash.  This heap is for everything that is broken or superfluous or that hasn't been used for at least one year.  The things in this heap should be sorted into recyclable material and residual waste and then disposed of properly.  You could even make a box for a garage or yard sale if you have the time and inclination for this method of disposal or if you know someone to whom you can delegate this task.  But do make a firm promise:  anything that isn't sold the first time will be thrown away!

*  Question mark.  If the decision about what is waste and what is wonderful is difficult, the thing lands in the "question mark" heap.  These things are packed in a box (with a label indicating the contents!) and taken to the cellar, attic, or garage for storage.  Look through these boxes every six months.  You'll be amazed what has been resolved in the meantime and how many things can be thrown out effortlessly.  Things that have not been used for a whole year are automatically reclassified as waste.

Another method for moving toward throwing things away is the odds-and-ends drawer.  Reserve at least one drawer in every other room for "junk."  This is where you put everything that doesn't fit into any category.  But don't pick a large drawer for it; use it to throw away 80% of those odds and ends with a clean conscience because it turns out that nobody needs them anymore.

4.  Like with like.  Put small things together into boxes and other containers.  In self-help groups for messy people, all conceivable types of containers are very popular, as well as partitions for drawers.  Only with such sorting measures do you have a chance of lasting success with tidying up.  Put the remaining things away again and mark new containers in large, clear writing.

5.  Hooray!  Take pleasure in the island of tidiness you have created--and don't grumble about how much is still to be done.  Trust:  in the same way that disorder has gradually spread into your home or on your desk, order can grow from the new beginning you've made.

More on simplicity


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Be the one who nurtures and builds.  Be the one who has an
understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the
best in people.  Leave people better than you found them.

Marvin J. Ashton



Child-Like, Not Childish

There's absolutely nothing wrong with being child-like.  In fact, it could be one of the indications that you're living a healthier life than many of the people you know, for you're looking at the world in ways that allow you to feel the magic and wonder of all that's around you, rather than becoming jaded and bored and taking everything for granted.  We all have an inner child, though it's not exactly what we think it may be.  We face a danger when we think that the inner child is a childish part of ourselves that doesn't understand responsibility and that isn't able to comprehend many of the more complicated aspects of our lives, like paying bills and maintaining relationships and keeping promises.

But that's not what the inner child is.  We have an inner child because we were once children ourselves.  We have an inner twenty-year-old because we were once twenty years old.  The younger part of ourselves don't just die because we move on to being older--we repress them and reject them because somehow we've become "more sophisticated," "more intelligent," or "more worldly."  The truth is, though, that by rejecting all that we were as children, we're pushing out of our lives many attributes such as frankness, wonder, openness, and sincerity, for we feel that those attributes don't help us much as adults, when we have to "fight" for everything that we get and when we start to see life as a constant battle rather than as a wonderful experience full of wonderful things.


In my soul, I am still that small child
who did not care about anything else
but the beautiful colors of a rainbow.

Papiha Ghosh

When we "grow up," we stop being that small child who can stare at a rainbow with a sense of wonder.  Instead, we may glance at a rainbow now and not think about it at all, other than to notice that it's there.  If we let our inner child respond to the rainbow, though, we're going to look at it with wonder, asking ourselves "How is that possible?"  Because even though we may know the scientific explanation of how rainbows come to be, the fact is that they still defy logic in their beauty, their brilliance, and their sheer size.

Somewhere and somehow, we start to believe that logic and information are the most important things in life.  We start to try to figure everything out, even the miraculous, and we start to memorize things like statistics for athletes and historical names and dates.  We start to communicate by sharing what we saw on television, or talking about the latest song or movie.  We stop talking about the things and the people around us--which were the most fascinating things for us when we were children.

And that's how many people want things to be.  If I know every fact there is to know about a football team, chances are good that I'll be buying tickets to the games and all the merchandise I can afford.  If I'm focused on a movie or television series, I'll be sure to go see the movie or watch every episode of the series, and advertisers and marketers will be happy.  The people who make money when we spend it want that child inside of us to go dormant because that child would be completely satisfied sitting in a chair and watching the rain come down.  That child would be happy with a nice walk in the evening, noticing the trees and the flowers and the birds.  And there's no profit for anyone in that--except for our own spirits.

Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves,
and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever
explaining things to them.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

There is a negative side to childhood, of course.  There are temper tantrums, there's the "it's not fair" way of looking at the world, there's the unwillingness to share things. . . there are many things about being childish that aren't part of living a full and happy life.  That's just the way things are.  We need to make sure that we never see our inner child as being those things, for they are born out of fear and worry, not out of love and hope.  So many kids are brought up to fear losing things, to fear abandonment, to fear punishment, that their behaviors reflect their fear more than they reflect their nature.

And of course, some kids just throw tantrums.

If I want to be child-like, though, I'm not going to act in these childish ways, and I'm not going to adopt all of the supposedly adult-like ways that I'm expected to adopt by the society in which I live.  Instead, I'm going to try to look at the world with new eyes every day.  I'm going to look at things that I've seen over and over again with new eyes, and see it as if I haven't seen it before.  I'm going to do something I want to do without having to try to explain why I want to do it.  I'll open up the freezer and have some ice cream in the morning without feeling a need to explain why.  I'll skip a few steps on my way to work, without having to tell anyone the reasons.  I'll pick up some crayons and some paper and make some really cool drawings, and I won't need to explain them to any adults who want to know "What's that a picture of?"

And I'll be interested in other people and in animals and plants and bugs.  I'll ask many more questions than I'll answer.  I'll listen to answers without arguing or correcting.  And I'll accept other people just as they are, without judging them based on some artificial criteria that, when all is said and done, make little real sense at all.  I'll look them in the eye and I'll enjoy their company, even if they say things I disagree with.  And my acceptance won't be conditional, because they're human beings just as I am, so why wouldn't I accept them?

The real you is still a little child who never grew up.
Sometimes that little child comes out when you are
having fun or playing, when you feel happy, when you
are painting, or writing poetry, or playing the piano, or
expressing yourself in some way.  These are the happiest
moments of your life--when the real you comes out,
when you don't care about the past and you don't
worry about the future.  You are childlike.

Don Miguel Ruiz

That's the heart of the inner child, and that child is in you just as it's in me.  One of the advantages of being adults is that we can access that inner child and let it surface without the fears that a child would feel.  We can appreciate the beauty of a flower without the fear of losing it--and thus the need to pluck it.  On the other hand, though, we have a hard time drawing with crayons without the fear of someone judging the quality of our work, and we think too much about whether someone's right or wrong when we're talking to other people to really listen just to learn what someone else thinks or knows.  Our goal, of course, is to find a balance between letting that inner child surface and affect our lives in positive ways and maintaining many of the important things that we've learned in our long journey to being adults.

It's not very difficult, though.  That child wants to come out, and will do so once you give it a chance.  Just look for it, listen for it, feel for it.  And the next time you see a box of crayons, use it--or buy it and then put it to use.  Another big advantage of being an adult is that you don't have to wait for any adults to buy you things now, so use that fact as well as you can!

More on the inner child.


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If you do not pour water on your plant, what will happen?  It will slowly wither and die.  Our habits will also slowly wither and die away if we do not give them an opportunity to manifest.  You need not fight to stop a habit.  Just don’t give it an opportunity to repeat itself.

Swami Satchidananda

No matter what may be one's nationality, sex, age, philosophy, or religion, everyone wishes either to become or remain happy.  Hence definitions of happiness are interesting.  One of the best was given in my senior year at college by President Timothy Dwight.  "The happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts."

This definition places happiness where it belongs--within and not without.  The principle of happiness should be like the principle of virtue:  it should not be dependent upon things, but be a part of personality.

If the happiest person is the person who thinks the most interesting thoughts, we are bound to grow happier as we advance in years, because our minds have more and more interesting thoughts.  A well-ordered life is like climbing a tower; the view halfway up is better than the view from the base, and it steadily becomes finer as the horizon expands.

William Lyon Phelps


There are no secrets of success.  Success is doing the
things you know you should do.  Success is not doing
the things you know you shouldn’t do.  Success is not
limited to any one area of your life.  It encompasses
all the facets of your relationships:  as parent, as wife
or husband, as citizen, neighbor, worker and all of the
others.  Success is not confined to any one part of your
personality but is related to the development of all the
parts:  body, mind, heart and spirit.  It is making
the most of your total self.

Wilferd A. Peterson




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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