Saturday, June 30, 2007

A CHOICE FOR PEACE

Market congestion - “Whether he is an artist or not, the photographer is a joyous sensualist, for the simple reason that the eye traffics in feelings, not in thoughts.”

Photographer Nick Ut received a Pulitzer Prize for a dramatic war-time picture taken in Viet Nam. You may remember seeing it. The picture shows a little girl in agony walking naked down a country road amongst other weeping children. Dark smoke hangs heavily in the sky behind the
fleeing group. The child's arms are painfully outstretched and her face is contorted in an expression of terror and misery. A Napalm bomb, dropped on her village, seared off the little girl's clothing and severely burned her skin.

The date is June 8, 1972. The child, Kim Phuc, was carried by Nick to a truck and transported to an area hospital. She cried over and over, "Non'g Qu'a. Non'g Qu'a," which means "Too hot! Too hot!"

Kim hovered between life and death. She required 17 different surgical operations and months of rehabilitation. Today, she lives in Canada and has become an important spokesperson on issues of peace. "Pain never disappears," Kim says. "You just learn how to deal with it."

In 1996 she was asked to say a few words at the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington D.C. Kim talked about forgiving those people who were responsible for all the misery and suffering inflicted that tragic day. She said, "Even if I could talk face to face with the pilot who dropped the bombs, I would tell him we cannot change history but we should try to do good things for the present and for the future to promote peace." It was a message of forgiveness. She knew that her acts of reconciliation were the bricks that could pave the only true road to peace.

Kim could easily spend the rest of her life blaming others for her suffering. She could have grown up a bitter and resentful woman. Instead, she made a courageous choice - a choice for peace.

It's a choice none of us can escape.

From Lifesupport.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A LAUGHING MATTER

Messy cables on the floor - “Beginnings are always messy”

According to psychologist William James, we do not laugh because we are happy. But rather, we are happy because we laugh. The happiest people alive are those who know how to laugh often and well.

In his book A TOUCH OF WONDER, Arthur Gordon tells of a friend of his who knew about laughter. Though deaf and almost blind, he went right on working, laughing and making the most of his life.

One Christmas season Arthur and his friend entered a crowded drugstore. On the back of the door was a mirror, visible when the door was closed. As they turned to leave, Arthur's friend saw his reflection in the mirror. He thought the door must be open and that the figure he dimly viewed before him was a customer attempting to enter the store. He stepped aside and, naturally, so did the image. He moved forward again and once more met himself. Again he retreated.

By now an uneasy hush had fallen on the spectators. No one quite knew what to do or say. But on his third advance the man realized that he was facing a mirror. "Why," he cried, "it's only me!" He made a grand bow. "Good to see you, old boy! Merry Christmas!" The whole store exploded in delighted laughter.

And why not? Here was a man who knew how to laugh at himself! He accepted his problems and limitations with a grace and humor that was contagious.

We're given the power of laughter, not only to laugh AT things, but to laugh things OFF. We'll always know difficulties and we will never be without our share of troubles, but the happy person learns how to laugh most of them off. And that's the reason they're happy -- it's a laughing matter!

From Lifesupport.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

JUST DO SOMETHING

Marine rescue radar transponder - “What we do not see, what most of us never suspect of existing, is the silent but irresistible power which comes to the rescue of those who fight on in the face of discouragement.” Photo©TSAI

I once stopped behind several cars in an intersection. The winter weather was icy cold and a strong artic wind blew relentlessly. Ahead of me a young woman stood alongside the street rubbing her bare hands together and dancing in place to keep warm. Beside her rested a sign that read, "I have a baby and no food." She was obviously crying, likely from the pain of the cold wind.

Homeless and unemployed people are a common sight in many of our larger cities, and most motorists drive by without offering assistance. They have no doubt been taught that giving money fosters a dependent lifestyle, or the ready cash may be used to purchase alcohol or another substance rather than the food it was intended for. Like me, they may have been taught that one should give to a local charity or through one's church, as these institutions can help those in need far more effectively.

This, of course, is true, but I am reminded of the college students who encountered a homeless man on the sidewalk. One of the students took a couple of dollars from his wallet and handed it to the unfortunate stranger. His friend commented, "Why did you do that? He's just going to spend it on booze or drugs." The student answered, "Yeah...like we're not!"

As I waited for the light to turn, I felt conflicted about that young woman. Whether or not I should give money, she was obviously in need. And whether or not she actually had a baby really didn't seem to matter. I gave up guessing people's motives and analyzing their stories long ago. It was cold. She was cold. And she obviously felt she had to be there.

What should I do? Give her money? What was best?

As I wrestled with these questions, the window rolled down from the car in front of me and a hand shot out holding a warm pair of gloves. The driver took her own gloves off and gave them to the shivering woman. I saw the young woman mouth the words "Thank you" as a broad smile lit up her face.

As I debated, somebody else helped. As I hesitated, somebody else acted. As I tried to decide the BEST way to assist, somebody else just did what she could. As I did nothing, she did something.

I made myself a pledge that day to always do SOMETHING. Whether it is big or small, just do something. Something is almost always better than nothing!

Educator Leo Buscaglia said, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." Don't underestimate what you CAN do! Each of us can do something, and the something you do may be more important than you'll ever know.

From Lifesupport.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

ECHOES OF KIND WORDS

Fingerprint security access terminal - “Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming.”

A little boy said to his father, "Let's play darts. I'll throw the darts and you say, `Wonderful!' "

Here is a boy who was not afraid to ask for the encouragement he needs. Maybe we all have something to learn from him!

Inspirational author and educator, Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, relates a story about the devastating effects of discouragement. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the famous 19th Century poet and artist, was once approached by an elderly man who asked him to look at a few of his sketches and drawings. The gentleman wanted to know if the artist thought they were of any value.

As gently as possible, Rossetti told the man that the sketches were of no value and showed little talent. He apologized for the harsh assessment but said that he believed he should be honest.

The visitor was disappointed but asked the artist if he could take a look at just a few more, which were all done by a young art student. Rossetti looked over the second batch of sketches and immediately became enthusiastic over the talent they revealed. "These," he said, "oh, these are good." He went on to say that the young student shows much promise and should be given every help and encouragement, as he may have a great future if he will study and work hard.

The old man was deeply moved. Rossetti asked, "Who is this fine, young artist? Your son?"

"No," replied the visitor sadly. "It is I - forty years ago. If only I had heard your praise then. For you see, I became discouraged and gave up too soon."

Mother Teresa wisely said, "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." Sometimes it may be enough to just say, "Wonderful!"

From Lifesupport.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

THE GADGET THAT GETS ME STARTED

Vacuum packed mushrooms - “If you want greater prosperity in your life, start forming a vacuum to receive it.”

A funny story has it that, late one night, a party-goer decided it would be best to walk home. He found a shortcut through a poorly lit cemetery and, in the darkness, stumbled into an open grave.

He tried to climb out but the walls were too slippery. Again and again he fell back into the grave. Finally, in exhaustion, he settled in a corner to wait for sunlight.

A few minutes later another man cutting through the cemetery fell victim to the same grave. He, too, tried desperately to climb and claw his way out, and he was equally unsuccessful.

As he was about to give up in hopeless resignation, he heard a voice from the darkness of his pit: "You'll never get out of here."

He did!

He just needed the proper motivation. And in this case, a shot of fear did the trick. But when it comes to finding the motivation to accomplish most worthwhile things, his example is the exception.

I am learning that the best motivation, whether we want to accomplish a task, go back to school, start something new or kick a habit, usually comes from the inside. To be successful, we must want to do it. Others may certainly help to encourage or to "pump us up," but, in the end, we will usually succeed only if we have the desire.

Dorothy Heller illustrates this with an all-too-true poem:

I spent a fortune
On a trampoline,
A stationary bike
And a rowing machine
Complete with gadgets
To read my pulse,
And gadgets to prove
My progress results,
And others to show
The miles I've charted –
But they left off the gadget
To get me started!

Of course they left it off! The gadget to get us started lies within. And the best part is...since you already own it, you can use it anytime you want.

Today?

From Lifesupport.

Monday, June 25, 2007

TIME TO REST

Twi the dog taking a nap - “No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap.”

It has been said that the amount of sleep required by the average person is just five minutes more! Too many of us are chronically sleep-deprived. Late to bed and early to rise. And it costs us dearly.

Dr. Dean Ornish wrote a bestselling book called STRESS, DIET AND YOUR HEART. It was a good book. In it he talks about how to manage stress, how diet promotes a health life and why proper stress management and good diet affects ones heart.

He should have been on top of the world. He had just turned forty. He was fit and healthy. STRESS, DIET AND YOUR HEART soared to the top of The New York Times bestseller list. So what was the problem? Where was the joy and fulfillment he so desperately wanted?

He was working more than 80 hours a week, what with speaking, promoting his book and working, and he was exhausted. A wake-up call came in a conversation with a flight attendant. Ornish had just barely made it in time for his flight and he collapsed into his seat. A flight attendant noticed his frazzled state. She remarked, "You look harried."

"I feel harried," he admitted.

The attendant tried to encourage him. She said, "I just read a book that might help! She said she highly recommended it. It was a book called STRESS, DIET AND YOUR HEART. She told him that it had some wonderful stress-management techniques that he might try.

At that point Dr. Ornish decided to make the changes he so desperately needed.

(From "Why Being Happy Keeps You Healthy," by Dean Ornish, M.D., "Family Circle," April 1, 1998)

We need lots of rest. These bodies are beautiful creations. They run practically on peanuts and, when well cared for, they can serve us splendidly for many years. But when neglected they run down like an unwound clock.

Sir John Lubbock once said this about relaxation: "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."

Is it time to rest?

From Lifesupport.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

ENJOYING WHAT YOU DO!

Door status indicator - “The manager accepts the status quo; the leader challenges it.”

Plato said that work should be play. Some airline employees have taken his injunction seriously. After landing, one flight attendant announced, "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

As a plane touched down and was slowing to a stop at Washington National, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"

One pilot made this weather announcement: "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they'll try to have them fixed before we arrive."

"As you exit the plane," a flight attendant said, "please make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

And passengers heard this just as they were to exit the aircraft: "Last one off the plane must clean it."

To enjoy your work more, it helps to put some play in what you do. But what if you don't like your work? Can you find something to do you enjoy?

Authors Doug Hall and David Wecker tell the story of Ken Davis, a man who found a simple way to enjoy his work (MAKING THE COURAGE CONNECTION; Fireside Books, 1997). Ken just couldn't find his occupational niche. He worked at a variety of jobs and disliked them all. While Ken was working as a door salesman, he noticed that at least half of his customers had malfunctioning doorbells. And suddenly, Ken's life career became clear. He opened his own doorbell repair service.

Ken's wife laughed when she first heard his idea. When she realized he was serious, she cried. Whoever heard of making a living repairing doorbells? But Ken is making a comfortable living at his unique job, and he's happier than he's ever been. Ken didn't enjoy what he was doing, so he is now doing what he enjoys.

"The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else," Earl Nightingale asserts. "Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember, jobs are owned by the company; you own your career!"

No matter where you work, you work for yourself! With a little creativity and imagination, your work can seem less like drudgery and more like play. And wouldn't you really rather have it that way?

From Lifesupport.

Friday, June 22, 2007

NO CRYSTAL BALL

Golden bronze horse statue - “Silence may be golden, but can you think of a better way to entertain someone than to listen to him?”

When Jeanne Calment turned 120 years old, she was asked what her view of the future was. "Very brief," she responded.

Don't you wish the future were clear? It is usually hazy, at best. A lonely frog called a psychic hotline. "You will meet a beautiful young woman who will want to learn all about you," the psychic advisor told him.

"Where will I meet her?" he asked. "Down by the old mill stream?"

"No," she said. "In biology class."

I received a postcard from a psychic advisor once. It said that if I call a 900 number, she would lead me through a hazy future to clarity and happiness. That sounded great! But when I turned the card over I noticed that it was addressed to the wrong house. We had moved from that old address several months earlier.

I thought that perhaps she was better with the future than the present. And I couldn't help but wonder, if she doesn't even know where I am, how can she know where I am going?

I believe it was Mahatma Gandhi who said so well, "The future depends on what we do in the present." And Thomas Carlyle put it like this:
"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." What I do today will shape what tomorrow looks like.

I don't need a crystal ball -- I only need to live well now. My future will take care of itself.

From Lifesupport.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

VOLUNTEER VICTIMS

Garden birds statues for sale - “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.”

It's a great temptation to volunteer as a victim. Do you know that we sign up for that job?

A man who dined regularly in his favorite restaurant complained about the bread. It wasn't fair, he emphasized, that other restaurants served lots of bread. But here he gets only one piece.

So the next time he came in, they served him four pieces. He still complained it wasn't enough.

On his next visit his server brought him a dozen pieces of bread. The man still complained.

For his next visit they put a large basket of bread on the table. But still he complained. "The other restaurants give all the bread you can eat."

They decided to be ready for him the next day. They had an enormous loaf of bread prepared. It was six feet long and two feet wide. Four people carried the loaf to his table. They plopped it down in front of him. It took up half the table and hung over both sides. The chef stood back, pleased with himself, to see how the customer would react.

He looked over the loaf and commented, "So, we're back to one piece again, are we?"

Like this man, we volunteer to be victims, but in more subtle ways. We believe life is unfair, people are untrustworthy and we are getting a bad shake. We think everyone should know just how terrible things are and we feel obliged to tell them.

The problem is, life sometimes is unfair and we can be victimized. But the greater truth is, people can decide whether they are victims or are victors. They can feel helpless and miserable, or they can try to feel strong. Happy people have learned that they cannot always control their circumstances, but they can often control how they will respond.

Lewis Dunning said, "What life means to us is determined not so much by what life brings to us as by the attitude we bring to life; not so much by what happens to us as by our reaction to what happens."

You were born to be a victor! You were meant to be happy! Will you claim your birthright today?

From Lifesupport.

Greetings to all Lifesigners (my very important readers!). I will be traveling for work till Sunday so I might not be able to update Lifesigns Life Quotes as often as usual. I will try to post whenever the opportunity opens up. Thanks so much for all your support!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

NOT "SKEERED OF DYIN'"

Policewomen relaxing by the beach - “The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.”

Economist Jeremy Gluck speculated on US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's epitaph. He decided it would probably read something like this: "I am guardedly optimistic about the next world, but remain cognizant of the downside risk."

Though many people feel at peace about their own eventual death, others are concerned about the possible "downside risk." One of humankind's greatest fears is around death and the process of dying. Like the song "Old Man River" says:

"Ah gits weary an' sick of tryin'.
"Ah'm tired of liven' an' skeered of dyin'."

Some people believe that the most basic of human fears is the fear of death. "Skeered of dyin'." Maybe you feel it, too.

In his later years, John Quincy Adams once remarked, "I inhabit a weak, frail, decayed tenement battered by the winds and broken in on by the storms, and from all I can learn, the landlord does not intend to repair."

Though he may have held out no hope that he would not die, he approached his own death with acceptance and a remarkable lack of concern.

When the elderly statesman fast approached his 80th birthday, he succinctly related his philosophy of death. The occasion happened as he hobbled down the street one day in his favorite city of Boston, leaning heavily on a cane, and a friend suddenly approached and slapped him on the shoulder.

"Well, how's John Quincy Adams this morning?" the friend inquired.

The old man turned slowly, smiled and replied, "Fine, sir, fine! But this old tenement that John Quincy lives in is not so good. The underpinning is about to fall away. The thatch is all gone off the roof, and the windows are so dim John Quincy can hardly see out anymore. As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise me if, before the winter's over, he had to move out. But as for John Quincy Adams, he never was better...never was better!"

I have spent much of my life around death. I have sat with people as they died. I have listened to others relate near-death experiences. I have studied theology and am aware of what scriptures and religions say about life and death. And I have come to the conclusion that death is not to be feared. Moreover, when it is time for me to move out of this tenement in which I am housed, I will to look forward to it joyfully. I will say, "I never was better...never was better!"

Who is ready to live who is not ready to die?

From Lifesupport.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

WHEN WORDS STING

Red ant closeup - “An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.”

A funny story tells of a hostess making final arrangements for an elaborate reception. "Nora," she said to her veteran servant, "for the first half-hour I want you to stand at the drawing room door and call the guests' names as they arrive."

Nora's face lit up. "Thank you, ma'am," she replied. "I've been wanting to do that to some of your friends for the last twenty years."

Maybe we can relate, but either manners or fear of losing a job kept us from saying what we felt at the time. Often better to do as Napoleon Hill suggests: "If you must slander someone, don't speak it - but write it - write it in the sand, near the waters edge!"

Criticism is not to be confused with evaluation. We would do well to have our performance evaluated from time to time. None of us is beyond improvement. But hurtful and self-serving criticism, often spoken out of anger or vindictiveness, creates irreparable damage in a relationship. From time to time, we each feel its sting.

Phillips Brooks, over a century ago, used to pray for the grace to both rise above criticisms as well as to resist firing them back. "Oh, God," he prayed, "give the strength to live another day. Keep me from losing faith in people. Keep me sweet and sound, in spite of occasional ingratitude and meanness. Above all, keep me from giving little stings, and minding them."

A good antidote when words sting.

From Lifesupport.

Monday, June 18, 2007

FINDING YOUR NOTE

Computer technical workshop - “The imagination is literally the workshop wherein are fashioned all plans created by man.”

A short story by William Saroyan is titled "The Man Whose Wife's Hair Was Too Long But Whose Understanding of Music Was Too Short." If you think the title strange, listen to this:
In the story, a husband plays the cello and never changes notes. He just continues to repeat the same note without variation.

His wife is driven to distraction and finally protests: "Why do you play the same note over and over and over again? Other cellists play different notes."

"Other cellists play different notes," her husband replies, "because they are trying to find the right one. I've found mine."

I'm thankful I don't live with a person like him.... But he does touch on a universal truth. There is something beautiful about finding your note in life. We sometimes call it finding your purpose or discovering what you were meant to do or be.

Philosopher James Allen advised, "Above all be of single aim; have a legitimate and useful purpose, and devote yourself unreservedly to it." It's about cause and effect. A life without cause is a life without effect. Or put another way, a person not devoted to a cause will have little effect on the world. It begins with finding the right note.

I like the way Helen Keller said it: "Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose."

Are you finding your note?

From Lifesupport.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ACT AS IF

Giant ship propeller fins - “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.”

What final result are you trying to achieve?

In the mid-1950s, a flamboyant, but un­known, American pianist had dreams of perform­ing in the Hollywood Bowl. He gathered some money, rented the Hollywood Bowl on an off night, showed up wearing a tuxedo and played a full concert on a grand piano to absolutely no audience at all.

Except that the hall was empty, he lived his dream. Then he kept building on that dream until, four years later to the very night, Liberace per­formed at the Hollywood Bowl before a capacity, standing-room-only crowd.

Several years prior, it was Harry Emerson Fosdick who voiced a new thought about self­-trans­formation. He said, "Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind's eye and you will be drawn toward it. Picture your­self vividly as de­feated and that alone will make victory impossible. Picture yourself vividly as win­ning and that alone will contribute immeas­urably to success. Great liv­ing starts with a pic­ture, held in your imagination of what you would like to do or be."

Liberace had one major goal at first -- the Hollywood Bowl. He held that picture in his mind, then acted as if he had already achieved it, and it came to pass. These are two necessary steps to achieving any result, regardless how big or small: hold a picture of the dream in your mind and act as if it were already so.

It is especially true in the area of self-trans­formation. Whether you want to over­come shyness, kick a habit, find a fulfilling rela­tionship or achieve a long-held dream, the process is the same. Picture it in your mind then act as if you were al­ready self-confident, as if you were already free from the habit, or as if you were per­fectly capable of growing that relation­ship. Don't be surprised if the results are remark­able!

From Lifesupport.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND

Government dental assistant relaxing on the job - “You can't teach people to be lazy - either they have it, or they don't.”

Most people report that they do not usually feel confident. But exciting things can happen when we actually believe in ourselves. Here is a man who believed in his own ability even as a boy, and that confidence helped shape his adult life.

At the turn of the last century, a young boy quit school to help with the family expenses. When he was fifteen, he became interested in automobiles and worked in a garage. He subscribed to a correspondence home study course on automobiles and, after a long day in the garage, studied at the kitchen table by lamplight.

When he felt ready, he walked into the Frayer-Miller Automobile Company of Columbus, Ohio. When Mr. Frayer noticed him, he asked, "Well, what do you want?"

"I just thought I'd tell you I'm coming to work here tomorrow morning," the boy replied.

"Oh! Who hired you?"

"Nobody yet, but I'll be on the job in the morning. If I'm not worth anything, you can fire me." (Try that in TODAY'S market!)

Early the next morning the young man returned to the plant. Noticing the floor was thick with metal shavings and accumulated dirt and grease, the boy got a broom and shovel and set to work cleaning the place.

Because of his self-confidence and work ethic, Eddie Rickenbacker's future was predictable. He went on to excel in many fields, including automobile racing, piloting World War 1 planes and founding what was to become one of America's largest airline companies - Eastern Airlines.

There is no magic bullet to instantly become a self-confident person. But it begins with one of the most important relationships in your life - your relationship with yourself. People who become more confident habitually encourage themselves. They become their own best friend.

Rob Bremer asks the question, "If you had a friend who talked to you like you sometimes talk to yourself, would you continue to hang around with that person?" If the answer is "Yes!" you are on the track to becoming more self-assured.

Without confidence, you are not likely to move far in the direction of your dreams. But become your own best friend and almost anything will be possible.

From Lifesupport.

Friday, June 15, 2007

BEFORE BLASTING OFF

Clutter in the office - “The past is never there when you try to go back. It exists, but only in memory. To pretend otherwise is to invite a mess.”

Lorraine Hansberry wrote a play called, "A Raisin in the Sun." In that play a sister is com­pletely out of patience with her brother. He has been so dis­gusting in her eyes that she never again wants anything to do with him.

But her mother is wise. She tells her daugh­ter that the time to love somebody is not when they have done well and made things easy for everyone. The time to love somebody is when "he's at his low­est and can't believe in himself 'cause the world done whipped him so."

She is telling her daughter that there is a time to patiently bear with another. And especially when that other is hard to love and angry because "the world done whipped him so."

Patiently bearing with another is not the same as allowing yourself to be abused. There is certainly a time to say, "No," especially when some­one's behavior is destructive. But there is also a time for understanding and patience. It has been said that patience is the ability to count down before blasting off. And an old Chinese prov­erb has it that if you continually grind a bar of iron, you can make a nee­dle of it. All it takes is patience.

If there is a time to call it quits, is there also a time for patient understanding? Is there someone who may need you to bear with them a little longer?

From Lifesupport.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

LETTING GO OF SUCCESS

Red fish in glass aquarium - “When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain”

I want to make the most of every day. And, like most people, I've
discovered that the best way to do it is to let go of past failures.

But that's not all. One can never fully enjoy today while dwelling too
much on past successes, either. People never succeed while resting
comfortably on their laurels
. As Ivern Ball has said, "The past should
be a springboard, not a hammock." The fact is, sometimes our successes
hold us back more than our failures!

I once heard a story about the actor Clark Gable. A friend paid Gable
a visit one afternoon at the actor's home. She brought along her small
son, who amused himself by playing with toy cars on the floor. He
pretended he was racing those cars around a great track, which in
reality was an imaginary circle around a golden statuette. The small
statue the boy played with was actually the Oscar Clark Gable won for
his performance in the 1934 movie It Happened One Night.

When his mother told him the time had come to leave, the little boy
asked the actor, "Can I have this?" pointing to the Oscar.

"Sure," he smiled. "It's yours."

The horrified mother objected. "Put that back immediately!"

Giving the child the golden statue, Clark Gable said, "Having the
Oscar around doesn't mean anything to me; earning it does." The actor
seemed to know that past success could be a comfortable hammock upon
which he may be tempted to rest, rather than a springboard launching
him to the next level.

Biblical wisdom says, "Do not cling to events of the past or dwell on
what happened long ago." You may have learned to let go of past
failures and mistakes in order to free the present. But will you
loosen your grip on past successes and achievements in order to free
the future? Will your past be a springboard or a restful hammock?

"I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past,"
said Thomas Jefferson. I agree. After all, the future, not the past,
is where the rest of your life will be lived.

From Lifesupport.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

IN FOCUS


Diamond bracelet - “Quarrels are the dowry which married folk bring one another

Bracelet and photo courtesy of TSAI

In reading a mortality chart, I discovered something truly amazing. A great number of people die each year from a disease I had never heard of! Of course, there was the predictable number who died of heart attacks, cancer, stroke, accidents and the like, but at the bottom of the chart was one that surprised me. It was called "miscellaneous." Appar­ently, a large number of people die of "miscellane­ous" every year!

I think I understand why. I suffer from "mis­cel­­laneous" when I go in too many directions at once. When I am scattered, the disease begins to take over. Soon my self-esteem is affected and I feel as if I'm doing nothing important. Flitting here and there, I have no overriding pur­pose and I feel as if my life is spinning out of con­trol. It must be a terrible way to die!

However, I believe there is a cure for the disease. It's called "focus." A focused person is one who knows what is important and follows the path. She may have many interests, but one calling. A fo­cused person hears one voice more clearly than the others...and follows. Some call it pursuing a mis­sion. Some call it knowing your purpose. Others call it being centered. Whatever it is called, a
fo­cused life can be meaningful and happy.

Not every path should be followed, and not every goal should become a life's calling. But a truly worthy focus can raise a life from mediocrity and save it from a slow death by miscellaneous.

Are you in focus?

From Lifesupport.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

LOOKING FOR DIAMONDS

Yellow toy sports car - “Perhaps what we sometimes call "genius" is simply a refusal to altogether let go of childhood imagination.”

Albert Einstein said "In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." Once discovered, such opportunities are like valuable diamonds hidden in the sand.

When I was a church pastor, a man stopped by my office to see me. He held out his hand and in it was a small, plastic gem stone. "I stepped on this gem stone when I was leaving church last Sunday," he explained. "It became lodged in the sole of my shoe. You had spoken about how we are surrounded by diamonds -- we only need to recognize them. I put the plastic stone in my pocket to remind me to recognize the "diamonds" that I need.

"I have been trying to sell my business. On Monday morning, a man stopped by who seemed interested in purchasing my stock. I thought, 'Here's my diamond - don't let it get away!' I sold the entire stock to him by noon.

"Now," he said through a broad smile, "my next diamond is to find a new job!"

Not long afterward, he did find his new job. And he resolved to keep his gem stone with him from then on as a reminder to look for diamonds in every situation.

Richard DeVos is accurate when he points out, "This is an exciting world. It is cram-packed with opportunity. Great moments wait around every corner." Those moments are diamonds that, if
left unrecognized, will be forever lost.

Are you looking for diamonds every day? If not, you may easily pass them by!

Perhaps there is a diamond of opportunity hidden in that difficulty you're experiencing now.

From Lifesupport.

Monday, June 11, 2007

FIRE IN THE HEART

Ship propeller rotor engine maintenance - “Why hope to live a long life if we're only going to fill it with self-absorption, body maintenance, and image repair? When we die, do we want people to exclaim 'She looked ten years younger,' or do we want them to say 'She lived a great life'?”

The teacher quizzed her class: "He drove straight to his goal. He looked neither to the right nor to the left, but pressed forward, moved by a definite purpose. Neither friend nor foe could delay him, nor turn him from his course. All who crossed his path did so at their own peril. What would you call such a man?"

A student replied, "A truck driver!"

If he is a truck driver, he is likely a successful truck driver, for anyone who pursues a vision with such passion is sure to be a success.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel got it right when he said:

"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."

Nothing will kill a dream or douse the fire of a good idea more quickly than indifference. To whatever endeavor you commit yourself, be on guard primarily against that spirit-quenching attitude of apathy.

At what do you wish to succeed? A project? A job? A relationship? A personal mission? A financial goal? A life purpose? "Each one of us has a fire in our heart for something," says Mary Lou Retton. "It's our goal in life to find it and keep it lit."

In order to succeed greatly, one must care greatly. For indifference is no match against a well-attended fire in the heart.

From Lifesupport.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

LIVING FROM YOUR HEART

Disassembled laptop computer - “A thunderstorm is God's way of saying you spend too much time in front of the computer”

Confucius said, "To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue; these five are gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness." Sincerity and earnestness are vital components of character. Part of it is to simply say what you mean and mean what you say!

"I adore you," the young man said to his girl. "I need you; I can't live without you; I love you."

She pushed him aside saying, "John ... I don't want to get serious."

John replied, "Who's serious?"

Like Tennessee Williams might say, he had all the sincerity of a bird hunter's whistle. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say is vital, but there is another important part to living a genuine and whole life: that is to LIVE what you say. Make your actions and your words the same. Living what you say is at the heart of sincerity.

Louis (Satchmo) Armstrong was a superb jazz musician who also knew how to entertain. Satchmo used to say that what he played was life. He believed that his whole life, soul and spirit was to blow that horn. When he made music, it came from his heart. And it spoke to our hearts. Any life can be great when it is lived fully and sincerely from the heart.

Let your whole life, your whole soul and your whole spirit sing in harmony. It is a matter of saying what you live and living what you say. For when your words harmonize with your actions, you are living from the best part you -- from your heart. And the sincerity of your life will forever touch the hearts of others.

From Lifesupport.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

WHAT IS LOVE?

Iron cast safe - “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that 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 winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Diane Ackerman said, "Everyone admits that love is wonderful and necessary, yet no one agrees on just what it is." Over the years, I have been learning what it is.

When I first got married, I wanted to show my love to my new wife. I was drawn to romantic stories like one from the time of Oliver Cromwell in England where a young soldier had been tried in military court and sentenced to death. He was to be shot at the "ringing of the curfew bell." His fiancée climbed up into the bell tower. Several hours before curfew time and tied herself to bell's huge clapper. At curfew time, when only muted sounds came out of the bell tower, Cromwell demanded to know why the bell was not ringing. His soldiers went to investigate and found the young woman cut and bleeding from being knocked back and forth against the great bell. They brought her down, and, the story goes, Cromwell was so impressed with her willingness to suffer in this way on behalf of someone she loved that he dismissed the soldier saying, "Curfew shall not ring tonight."

That must be love, I thought! That was the kind of commitment I needed to make! I wanted to give my all. To tie myself to the bell for her. To die, if necessary, for her. To sacrifice myself on the altar of true love! I wanted her to know that I'd give it all up for her.

But she never wanted me to die for her. Never! Clean the toilets, maybe, but never die. My commitment was to be shown in household chores! (I read that an exhaustive study showed that no woman ever shot her husband while he was doing dishes. What a relief. Washing dishes may lack inspiration, but it says "I love you" better than roses...)

I was never called upon to tie myself to the bell. But I was still called upon to show my love - in little ways, mostly.

I was needed to comfort her before we were married when the doctor told her she could never have children; to hold her hand and tell her I wanted her more than I wanted a family.

I was called upon to sit by her hospital bed after surgery and encourage her.

I was called upon to hold her after her father died and let her cry.

I was also called upon to carve out alone time with her as often as possible and to make sure my plans included her as well as me.

I was never needed to prove my undying love through a glorious act of self-sacrifice. It was something I was required to do in little ways, through one small act of kindness at a time.

And that, I've learned, is love.

From Lifesupport.

Friday, June 8, 2007

MY REALITY IS VIRTUAL!

EPIRB: Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon - “A mother's happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.”

Someone once quipped, "A lot of my reality is virtual!" Whether or not you can say the same thing, I find it is true that a lot of my reality is the way I perceive it. Let me explain what I mean with a true story.

In the "Journal of the American Medical Association," Dr. Paul Ruskin demonstrated how our perception of reality (not actually what is going on, but how we perceive it) determines how we feel about it. While teaching a class on the psychological aspects of aging, he read the following case to his students:

"The patient neither speaks nor comprehends the spoken word. Sometimes she babbles incoherently for hours on end. She is disoriented about person, place, and time. She does, however, respond to her name. I have worked with her for the past six months, but she still shows complete disregard for her physical appearance and makes no effort to assist her own care. She must be fed, bathed, and clothed by others. Because she has no teeth, her food must be pureed. Her shirt is usually soiled from almost incessant drooling. She does not walk. Her sleep pattern is erratic. Often she wakes in the middle of the night, and her screaming awakens others. Most of the time she is friendly and happy, but several times a day she gets quite agitated without apparent cause. Then she wails until someone comes to comfort her."

After presenting the case, Dr. Ruskin asked his students how they would like caring for this person. Most of them said they would not like it at all. He then said that he believed he would especially enjoy it and thought that they might, also. He passed a picture of the patient around for his puzzled students to see. It was his six-month-old daughter!

Most of the students had already made up their minds that they would not like caring for such a patient. But the age of the patient, rather than the actual duties, made the task seem fun and enjoyable! When they thought the task might be fun, they were positive about it, though their reaction just moments before was quite negative.

You and I have numerous tasks ahead. How will you look at them today? As pleasant or unpleasant? As chores or as fun? When you think you may actually enjoy them - you probably will!

From Lifesupport.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

AFRAID TO ASK

Marine navigational compass - “History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.”

We used to play spin the bottle when I was a kid," says comedy writer Gene Perret. "A girl would spin the bottle, and if the bottle pointed to you when it stopped, the girl could either kiss you or give you a nickel. By the time I was 14, I owned my own home."

Rejection is hard to take. Especially when it comes from someone you know. Or don't know.

Football coach Bum Phillips once said, "There's only two kinds of coaches -- them that's been fired and them that's about to be fired." Now there is an occupation that is familiar with rejection!

Few things hold people back more than the fear of rejection. They don't ask for what they need because the answer may be no. They don't ask their boss for a raise or for more time off. They don't ask for help from people they do not know well. They are afraid to be the first to say, "I love you." They don't ask for a better deal or a lower interest rate. They don't submit that manuscript to be considered for publishing. In short, they don't let their wants and needs be known, for fear of being turned away.

But the wonderful truth is this: If you can accept NO for an answer, you can ask for anything!" When it is okay to be rejected, you can fearlessly ask for whatever you need.

It is also true that you will not receive if you do not ask. So don't be afraid to ask! All they can say is NO! And you may be surprised at the number of people willing to help. They were waiting to be asked.

What do you need to ask for today?

From Lifesupport.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

SETTING YOUR OUTLOOK

Cooperative work - “No employer today is independent of those about him. He cannot succeed alone, no matter how great his ability or capital. Business today is more than ever a question of cooperation.”

A man who fell off a skyscraper was heard to say as he passed the 12th floor, "So far, so good!" One might say he was an optimist.

I believe in optimism. I believe that there is great power in an optimistic attitude, especially when it is grounded in reality.

The late Brian Johnston, a well-known British broadcaster, demonstrated the power of an optimistic outlook. He delighted millions of listeners with his radio programs. He was also a top-class cricket commentator and enthusiast for the game. He once said, "I am a great optimist. Every time I go to a cricket match, I think it is going to be the best game I have ever seen. Of course, it never is, but what pleasure it gives me in anticipation!"

Is he simply playing silly mind games? I don't think so. Imagine how much more we might enjoy a meal, a book, an outing, a concert, a holiday -- if we think these just may be the best we have ever experienced! A strong, positive outlook can make all the difference.

The poet writes:

"One ship sails east, the other west
On the self-same winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails and not the gales
That determines the way she goes."

Set your mental outlook to always expect the best. You will often get exactly what you expect! And even if you don't, you will still get to enjoy the pleasure of anticipation.

From Lifesupport.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

THINGS OF VALUE

Hornbill decor statue - “Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

You've heard the question asked, "If your home were on fire, what you try to save?" Most people answer that they would rescue people and pets and as many photographs and memories as possible.

The question we faced was similar. We were forced to consider, "If we have to evacuate our home, what should we take with us?" Or, put another way, which of our possessions could we live without?

Our area was just a few miles from largest wildfire in Colorado's history. We were on "evacuation alert." If we got the call to evacuate, we would have to grab whatever we could save and leave immediately.

We packed suitcases with a few clothes and toiletries and set them by the door. Though these things were not valuable, time was. We moved the computers ... I made a living with my computer. We cleared out books we sold from our home office. Those books represented our livelihood. We packed financial records - who wants to hassle with the government for years over missing documents?

Now, what else? We snatched family pictures from the walls and packed scrapbooks in boxes. These were truly valuable and could not be replaced. I grabbed a few sentimental objects from my childhood and stuffed them in a box.

Then we took a hard look at all that remained. There was a lamp that belonged to my great grandmother. A piano my wife Bev learned to play when she was a little girl. A hutch that belonged to her grandmother. A large rug we spent months saving for and bought for our mountain home. Bedroom furniture we wanted to pass down to our children someday. There were handmade quilts and gifts from dear friends and family. It was impractical to move everything from our home and store them for an indefinite time. Some important items would have to stay behind.

I never thought that my "things" meant much to me. I prided myself in believing that I would never let myself get attached to possessions, for things of the spirit were all that truly mattered. But these particular "things" pulled within. Those "worthless" coins and memorabilia from my childhood - what was that about? The furniture we inherited or grew up with - why did it call out to me so? Or that rug we bought together? Or the many items that decorated our house given to us by friends and family over the years?

The answer, of course, is that these things represented our love as a couple and a family. They also signified all of those people over the years we have loved and who loved us. And each had stories to tell. They told of all we'd been through together and where we were headed. They spoke in the voices of generations past - parents and grandparents.

We could not take the piano, but we could visualize how Bev, as a baby, learned to walk clutching the edge of that piano bench. We smelled the "old" and pleasant scents of grandparents' homes as we heard the wind-up clock chime or ran our fingers over a mahogany hutch we refinished years ago. We were flooded with memories as we gazed upon items given to us by cherished friends over a lifetime.

Some of these possessions of a life told stories about the people who first owned them. Stories of how they faced hardship together, how they raised their children and how they lived their lives. These "things" were not just things - they were memories, no less valuable than the photographs. They told stories about where we'd been, where we presently were and where we were going. They told stories of friends, of family and of love.

Most of our memories would be left in the house if it burned - we'd never have enough time to save the furnishings. And looking around at all we might lose, I found it difficult to say good-bye. But strangely, I also felt fortunate that I had been surrounded with objects that tell such warm and wonderful stories. Valuable objects; perhaps not in the world's eyes, but valuable nevertheless. The worth of all these things would never be measured on a ledger sheet. Though they were possessions, they were still things of the heart.

Someone wisely said, "There are people so poor that the only thing they have is money." And now I know. I am indeed rich. I am rich in friends and family. Rich in memories. Rich in everything that has ever really mattered to me. I am wealthier than I ever believed possible.

It took a fire to teach me.

From Lifesupport.

Monday, June 4, 2007

THERE IS MORE IN YOU THAN YOU KNOW

Iron cast pipeline - “No matter how carefully you plan your goals, they will never be more than pipe dreams unless you pursue them with gusto.”

Not many people realize that President Calvin Coolidge did not always live in the White House. As Vice-President, he became President upon the death of Warren G. Harding. Mrs. Harding continued to live in the White House for a time, so the Coolidges remained where they had been living - in the third-floor suite of the nearby Willard Hotel.

Once in the middle of the night, the new President awoke to see an intruder going through his clothes. He watched as the thief first removed a wallet, then unhooked a watch chain. Coolidge calmly spoke up from the darkness: "About that watch, I wish you wouldn't take that."

The startled man, gaining his voice, asked, "Why?"

Coolidge answered, "I don't mean the watch and chain, only the charm. I'm very fond of that charm. It means a great deal to me. Take it near the window and read what is engraved on the back of it."

The burglar read: "Presented to Calvin Coolidge, Speaker of the House, by the Massachusetts General Court." And now he was more surprised!

"Are you President Coolidge?" he asked. He evidently did not think he'd find the President sleeping in a hotel!

"Yes, I am, and I don't want you to take that charm," he said. Then he asked, "Why, Son, are you doing this?"

The young man explained that he and a friend traveled to Washington during their college break. They spent all of their money and had no money to pay the hotel bill or pay for train passage back to school. "If you don't mind," he said, "I'll just take the wallet."

Coolidge did mind. He knew he had about $80 in his wallet. So he said, "How much will it take to pay your hotel bill and get you and your friend back to the campus? Sit down and let's talk this over."

Coolidge added up the room rate and two rail tickets. It came to $32. That may not sound like much now, but it was a considerable sum then. "I'll give you the $32 as a loan," the President said, "and I expect you to pay me back."

The youth thanked him. Coolidge then advised him to leave by the same window he used to enter the room, as secret service agents were sure to be patrolling the hallway. As the young man climbed out, Coolidge left him with this admonition: "Son, you're a nice boy. You are better than you are acting. You are starting down the wrong road. Just remember who you are."

It wasn't until after the death of Mrs. Coolidge in 1957 that this story was allowed to come out. It was first published in the "Los Angeles Times." And most interesting of all is that the President's notes show that the young man was indeed better than he was acting. He repaid the $32 loan in full.

Kurt Hahn, the founder of Outward Bound, said this: "There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps, for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less."

From Lifesupport.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

USE YOUR GREATEST POWER

Aasics nimbus sport shoes - “Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”

"Becoming aware of my character defects leads me naturally to the next step of blaming my parents," one woman quips.

Benjamin Franklin didn't feel that way. Becoming aware of his character defects led him to something quite remarkable. He exercised what author J. Martin Kohe calls YOUR GREATEST POWER (1955 & 2005) -- your power to choose.

Franklin noticed that he had difficulty getting along with people. He tended to argue too much. He had trouble making and keeping friends. So he made a choice. He chose to examine his own personality and make a list of what he considered undesirable personality traits. (It's not known if other people helped him make this list.)

It was New Year's Day. Franklin finished his list of personality traits he wanted to change. He identified 13 character flaws and determined to work on each one for a week. He did this for an entire year and finally checked each trait off his list.

Benjamin Franklin developed one of the finest personalities in America. People looked up to him and admired him. When the colonies needed help from France, they sent Franklin. The French liked him and gave him what he wanted.

Suppose Franklin had chosen to go through life without using his greatest power -- his power to choose. Suppose he reasoned that there was really nothing he could do about himself. Would France have supported the colonies? The history of the world may have been significantly different.

One good wish changes nothing. But one good decision changes everything. Your power to choose, to make a good decision, spells the difference between wishing and making those wishes come true.

Do you need to exercise your greatest power? Your power to choose can never be taken from you. It can be neglected. It can be ignored. But if used, it can make all the difference. Use your greatest power and, whether or not you change history, you will certainly change your future.

From Lifesupport.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

REGULAR MAINTENANCE

Castle by the river - "A man's house is his wife's castle."

A Kansas cyclone hit a farmhouse just before dawn one morning. It lifted the roof off, picked up the beds on which a farmer and his wife slept, and set them down gently in the next county.

The wife began to cry.

"Don't be scared, Mary," her husband comforted. "We're not hurt."

Mary continued to cry. "I'm not scared," she responded between sobs. "I'm happy … 'cause this is the first time in 14 years we've been out together."

I find that little things, such as too little time and attention, will hurt an intimate relationship (marriage, parent-child, or close friendships) more than anything else. We can usually get through the times of crisis; it's neglect that often destroys closeness and intimacy.

In his book The Romance Factor, Alan Loy McGinnis says the longer we postpone maintenance, the faster the rate of deterioration. He writes this: "I see that principle operating in families every day. Many couples who have come to my office with their marriages in shreds did not start fighting about unsolvable problems. Their marriages were not suffering from major malfunctions, but merely from a series of small deteriorations that a little adjusting and tightening could have corrected. But people had lost interest and had turned their attention to other things: children; careers; tennis; decorating their homes."

I don't know of anything of value that does not require time, attention and lots of maintenance! In one week's time I once worked on two plumbing problems at home, caulked bathroom tile, replaced a heating element on the dryer and another on the stove. At the same time my car needed two new tires, windshield wipers, a battery, new brakes and a starter motor.

But everything of value requires maintenance. And I am in trouble when my home or automobile receives more attention than my closest relationships. Even if a marriage is made in heaven, the maintenance must be done on earth.

Mother Teresa said, "The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." Lack of regular maintenance will turn your valuable relationship from an ideal into an ordeal. But daily maintenance – spending enough time, listening and touching, laughing and caring – will keep you close. And isn't that what you're hungering for?

From Lifesupport.

Friday, June 1, 2007

EVERYTHING COUNTS

Blue tranquil landscape - "One of the best act of man is to build to coexist and supplement mother nature's beauty."

African-American poet Countee Cullen spent the summer of his eighth year in Baltimore, Maryland. Shortly after he arrived he noticed a little white boy staring at him. Countee smiled, but the little boy did not smile back. Instead, he stuck out his tongue and called him a "nigger."

Cullen later wrote a poem that included his recollection of the summer when he was eight. In it, he says this:

"I saw the whole of Baltimore from May until September. Of everything that happened there that's all I can remember."

As years wore on, the little white child most likely forgot the episode. He was never aware of the pain he inflicted on a little eight-year-old boy. But the truth is...everything counts. Everything. Everything we do and everything we say. Everything helps or hurts; everything adds to or takes away from someone else.

Educator and writer Leo Buscaglia put it like this: "The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we pass through this world. There will most likely be no tickertape parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will appreciate our compassion, our encouragement, who will need our unique talents. Someone who will live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. It's overwhelming to consider the continuous opportunities there are to make our love felt."

It's overwhelming to consider what might happen when we truly believe that...everything counts.

From Lifesupport.

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