29 May 2018      

Good day, and thank you for being here with us on this day,
in this week!

See It through
Christopher Kimball

A Bigger Life
Lisa Holba

Playing God
tom walsh

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Happiness grows at our own firesides,
and is not to be picked in strangers' gardens.

Douglas Jerrold

Sometimes, I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry.  It merely astonishes me.  How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company?  It's beyond me.

Zora Neale Hurston

I have made a pact with my tongue,
not to speak when my heart is disturbed.

Francis de Sales

See It through (an excerpt)
Christopher Kimball

When I was ten, I got a summer job with a local dairy farmer, helping out with the afternoon milking as well as with haying, fixing equipment, and feeding and watering the horses.  My first day started with an instruction to go out and bring in a cow with her newborn calf.  The rest of the herd was already in the barn for the afternoon milking.  I went out to the back pasture and soon found the wayward cow, horns long and untrimmed, standing protectively in front of her three-day-old.  This wasn't the first time I had been around cows, but I was used to slow-moving, docile beasts.  The kind I knew might step on your foot if you weren't careful, but they weren't mean or aggressive.

Knowing that I was being watched from the barn, I hitched up my pants and went right after her, confident that a slap on the rump and a few throaty "git-along" sounds would soon get the job done.  When I was about thirty feet away, she lowered her massive horns and pawed the ground like a dyspeptic Texas longhorn.  Then she came right after me.

Luck was with me since the barbed wire fence was nearby, and I scrambled under it like a crab scuffling out of reach of a net, finding myself in a dense patch of milkweed and thistle.  I looked up and saw her huge head, red eyes bulging out of massive bony sockets, a long ropy string of drool hanging from her lips.

For the next twenty minutes, I scooted out from the safety of the fence, made a series of wild herding movements with my arms, and then ran like crazy for safety.  We finally worked our way around the perimeter of the pasture, the cow chasing me back to the great red barn.  There the farmer, wearing a faded green cap and just the hint of a grin, came to my aid.  He grabbed a thick leather milking strap, gave the cow a couple of good whacks, and she turned toward the barn, submissive and defeated.  Somehow that farmer kept from laughing in the face of my utter humiliation, but that story is still told in our town, some thirty-five years later, since it so clearly defines what it means to be a Vermonter.

Yet for most folks these days, being a Vermonter has lost its meaning--like the lyrics to "Yankee Doodle Dandy," which no longer have the ring of familiarity.  When one talks of persistence or thrift, these terms have little resonance in the modern vernacular.  Confronted with a difficult, seemingly impossible task, an old-time Vermonter would simply settle in for the long haul.  There was simply no alternative.  New England farmers led a parsimonious life.  If something broke, one had to repair it, since a new model was either not available or too expensive.  And in the face of tragedy, Vermonters were always steadfast, never wavering in their conviction or inner sense of self-worth.  One could do a lot worse than to live by the rules of the farm, no one person rising above the others, no pressing need to develop the inner self.  Hidden desires are often best left hidden, our darker, more self-serving impulses sweated out in the hot July sun, our souls bleached white and pure through hard work.

So when your turn comes to bring in the cow and the calf, don't flinch from the assignment.  Run for cover if you must--I know I did--but stick to it.  Keep coming back to the task at hand, no matter how impossible it may seem at the time.  The old farmer watching you from the barn is looking for no more than persistence, the outcome being secondary to matters of character.  Resist the temptation to turn tail and run for the barn. See it through and life will be your friend, bestowing riches at every turn.


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A Bigger Life
Lisa Holba

We’ve all felt the tug at our hearts at one time or another--that emptiness from deep inside telling us we want something more from this life.  Sometimes we move beyond it by putting our fears aside and claiming our heart’s desire.  Other times we continue to disguise our true identity and build layer upon layer of illusions and untruths about who we really are.  It’s on this very bargaining table that we lose sight of the beauty in our uniqueness.  We come to believe we’re not worthy of all the greatness our heart and soul yearns to enjoy.

For many of us, outer experiences and influences play a heavy part in determining our direction and to some degree, even our self-worth.  Seamlessly our original visions become shaped, molded and minimized. A good example of this is when you watch a young child at play.  They have a curious energy about them.  They laugh a lot, breathe in the adventure of life and explore the things they want to.  They know no limits.  Anything is possible in the eyes of a child.  They dream big dreams and they believe.  They always believe!

But, as we grow into life, we slowly lose the child in us.  We allow the “good opinion of others” to cast a shadow on both our dreams and our capabilities.

The reality is we are the experts on our life and no one knows what’s best for us.  Only we do!  The authentic power to do anything we want lies within us.  Sadly, we neglect this important piece of child-like wisdom and step down from the many opportunities life has to offers us.  Our internal conversation goes something like:  What would they think?  What if I fail?  Who am I to deserve this?

Observe the next time you stop yourself from doing something that scares (yet excites) you.  I’m sure you’ll have a brilliant excuse as to why you shouldn’t go for it but make no mistake there is a tape being played, deep within the recesses of your mind.  These debilitating thoughts will play over and over again and hold you back in life until you acknowledge what’s going on and choose to re-write your “script."

If we don’t come to recognize when we’re allowing self-limiting behaviour to guide us, we’ll continue to operate from a place of smallness.  And it’s in this place that we don’t grow from our experiences but instead, we’re held captive by them.

As the saying goes, “if you tell a lie long enough you’ll eventually start to believe it."  This also applies to any false illusions you have about yourself.

What if you looked in the mirror saw only beauty?  And decided to love the person staring back at you, unconditionally?  What if you focused on all of your natural gifts and chose to make this life extraordinary?  …Starting today, right now, you began living your life on your own terms?   Never settling for anything less than everything to you?  How different would your life be?

Too many of us die in our 20’s and are buried in our 80’s.  We forget to take the time, daily, to plant seeds of passion in our lives.  To chase our dreams and dare to grow beyond our false illusions about whom we really are.  We get caught up in the cycle that I like to call, creative sabotage where we find (creative) ways to undermine our abilities, underestimate our potential and convince ourselves that we’re not worthy, capable or ready for the life we could have.

Respected researcher Ivan Yefremov has confirmed, "we could, without difficulty, learn 40 languages, memorize a set of encyclopedias from A to Z and complete the required courses of dozens of colleges."

Amazing isn’t it?  We don’t even come close to utilizing our abilities and potential.

It is from a place of love and appreciation for the unique and special person you are that I say the following words to you:

This is your life.  It’s the only one you’re given.  Look for opportunities to grow and don’t be discouraged in your efforts to do so.  Make daily deposits of love, passion and gratitude in your life and choose to be on the cutting edge of your destiny.  Take some risks.  Uncover the child in you.  Focus on your strengths, collect your history of broken pieces and re-create your dreams.  Yes, your dreams!  Because they matter and you are worthy!

There comes a moment when you must break free and make a stand for who you really are.  That moment is now.  A bigger life is only a choice away!

*  *  *

Lisa Holba was the founder of Dream It-Do It, and a Personal and Career Coach.

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Maria Montessori



Playing God

There's an interesting and tragic story about something that happened at the Grand Canyon many years ago.  It seemed that a man named James Owens "was hired in 1906 by the Forest Service to serve as game warden in the Grand Canyon Game Reserve on the Kaibab Plateau."  At the time, species such as deer were considered "good," while predatory species such as mountain lions were considered to be "undesirable."

To make a long story short, over the next decade Owens killed, by his own count, 532 mountain lions.  And the deer population boomed, reaching about 100,000 in the next few years.  Unfortunately, the area couldn't sustain that many deer, and during one harsh winter, thousands upon thousands of deer starved to death.  Owens' efforts resulted in hundreds dead mountain lions--who were just doing what mountain lions do to survive--and thousands of deer who died in one of the worst ways possible.  His efforts to "help" the deer by imposing his own will over the way that life functioned in this area had truly terrible results.

This is almost always what happens when we try to impose our will and desires into the lives of others.  When we see something and think that we somehow know better how it should be, and then try to make it that way, we tend to be playing God, trying to create circumstances that to us are optimal--even though to others they may be horrible.

While we don't all go out killing mountain lions to protect the "helpless" deer, we do find ourselves in situations in which we have similar choices to make.  Perhaps a son or daughter is having problems at school, and we see exactly what should be done to solve those problems.  So instead of teaching our child methods of dealing with his or her own problems, we take the reins and try to solve the problem ourselves.  (And the chances are good that the problem was more in the perceptions than in the actual situations.)

There's a great deal of value in watching situations play out versus trying to impose our will and try to make them turn out how we want them to.  If we can take a step back and try to understand the forces at play, we can learn a lot about the forces at work and how valuable they might be to us if we can learn how they work and the results that they have.

Of course, there are times when it's necessary to impose our will--but only if we're in positions that allow us to do so in an authentic way.  If a department in a company is ineffective or destructive, it's up to the leaders in that company to step in and "fix" things if the entire company is to remain healthy.  If a body has a broken bone or a cancerous area, then a doctor can surely set the bone or remove the cancerous tissue.  Letting things go in those situations most probably would lead to worse situations in the very near future.

But if someone has robbed my home, it's better to let the police handle the issue than to go out myself and dispense "justice."  If I don't like the job that someone else is doing but I'm not in a position of authority, then it's probably best that I let things be (unless that person is harming others, of course).  There may be elements of that person's job about which I'm unaware that make it seem like he or she is doing poorly.

We almost never have the "whole story."  James Owens did not have the research available to him that showed the important dynamics that predatory species add to ecosystems, and because he decided to play God and try to eradicate a species without knowing much about the importance of predation, he also ended up causing the painful, miserable deaths of the very deer that he thought he was protecting.

Personally, I hope to learn from Owens' mistakes.  The next time that I feel compelled to impose my will on a situation, I'm going to sit back and ask myself if I know the whole story, and if I can truly foresee all of the potential consequences of my meddling.  I'm also going to ask myself if I'm truly in a position that justifies the imposition of my will, or if I would be much better off letting people devise their own strategies for dealing with their problems and then letting them do so.

(The information about James Owens comes from Best Easy Day Hikes:  Grand Canyon, by Ron Adkison.)



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They who will live for others
shall have great troubles,
but they shall seem to them small.
They who will live for themselves
shall have small troubles,
but they shall seem to them great.

William R. Inge

Three Cavaliers
An excerpt:

     Hector didn’t reply for several very long moments.  Jason felt him searching, looking for something that could explain one person to another person.
     “When I was fourteen,” Hector finally started, “two years before my father died, Ana Maria came home from school and she was crying very hard.  She said that a little boy had hit her and spit on her and called her names like ‘spic’ and ‘wetback,’ names that I had been called a few times but which did not bother me all that much.  They bothered my sister, though, and my mother took her in her arms and comforted her.  As she held her there, I couldn’t imagine a more peaceful sight, for my mother was the very picture of peace and calm and love.  The sunlight was coming in through the window from behind her, and I remember sitting on the couch and watching them, feeling that deep sense of peace myself, loving my mother more than ever.  In a few minutes my sister had cried herself to sleep in her arms, and my mother brought her very gently to the couch and lay her down on it, whispering to her the whole time.  She kneeled down next to my sleeping sister and kissed her on the forehead, and I could see in her eyes all of the peace that she had just caused Ana to feel.
     “Then she stood up and turned to me and I almost yelled out in fear, because her eyes were now filled with an anger such as I had never seen before.  ‘I need you to watch Ana Maria,’ she told me, and her voice which had just been filled with peace and calm and loving words was now filled with a rage that matched that in her eyes.  ‘I am going to that school and I am going to find out who could do such a thing to my daughter, and why nobody did anything about it.’
     “I was speechless.  I watched in awe as she went calmly to the closet and got a sweater, then came over to me and kissed me on the forehead.  I was even a bit afraid because she seemed like a bomb about to explode, but when she touched me I felt none of her anger at all, only love.  I knew that if my father had been that angry, he would be yelling very loudly and even throwing things around the room, but my mother was completely in control of herself.  I think it was the control that gave me the most fear.  I could see just how much anger she had, but if I had not known her as my mother I would not have seen it at all.  I was afraid for the people at the school as she went out the front door.  I watched her through the window as she walked away, and I could see the energy and tension that she walked with.  I felt that I should call my father and tell him, or call the school and warn them all to leave before she got there, but I was only fourteen, so of course I did nothing.
     “She came back almost two hours later, and I could see that she was satisfied with what she had accomplished.  She never spoke another word of the incident to me, or even to my sister, but I knew on that day that if I ever needed anyone to support me in any way, my mother would be there for me with all of her heart and soul.  I could not imagine anyone standing up against that kind of anger without being very, very afraid of what might happen.  And she seemed to have no fear of anything, especially when her children were involved.
     “In a store once, I dropped a jar of pickles that I was carrying for her.  A man from the store was standing very near to me, and he turned around and saw what had happened.  He said, ‘That was a very stupid thing to do.’
     “’Don’t you ever talk to my son that way!’ my mother said immediately.  ‘Everyone has dropped something in their lives, and I will not allow you to insult my son for a simple mistake.’  I thought we were in trouble for sure, but the man backed down. ‘I’m sorry, ma’am,’ he said.  ‘I meant nothing by it.’
     “’If there is no meaning behind the words,’ my mother answered, ‘then perhaps they should not be said at all.”  I have always remembered those words.  They were full of wisdom—I recognized that, even then.  My mother was a simple woman with very little schooling, but she was a very wise woman.”
     “She sounds it,” Jason said.  “She sounds like a very marvelous woman.”
     “Of course she was marvelous.  She was a saint.  I told you that.”  Hector sounded surprised that Jason could have forgotten such a thing.
     “Right—you’re right.  Sorry about that.  I forgot.”

Three Cavaliers
Alone in his car heading west, it's easy for Jason to feel sorry for himself and mad at the world.  But then he gives a ride to Hector and learns life isn't as negative as we sometimes see it.  The friendship between this young man and his 70-year-old passenger is an inspiring story of love and of dealing with obstacles in life.  It's a story that you'll treasure long after you've finished reading.
You can read the first chapter here.


The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is
a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy
is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy.
Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

John W. Gardner




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