Monday, March 21, 2011

Truly Living Our Life - Some Quotes

People are like stained-glass windows.

They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,

but when the darkness sets in,

their true beauty is revealed

only if there is a light from within.

~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross ~


If there were ever a time to dare, to make a difference,

to embark on something worth doing,

it is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily,

but for something that tugs at your heart,

something that's your aspiration,

something that's your dream.

You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.

Have fun.

Dig deep.


Dream big.


When you come to the edge of all the light you have,

and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown,

faith is knowing one of two things will happen:

There will be something solid to stand on,

or you will be taught how to fly.

~ Patrick Overton ~


The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur

when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.

For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort,

that we are likely to step out of our ruts

and start searching for different ways

or truer answers.

~ M. Scott Peck ~
(More to be added as I search.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Understanding and Accountability

There is a very fine line between understanding a problem and then making excuses for why the problem exists.

As a teacher, I always wanted to know if students had learning issues. SLD, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, processing/ordering/ visual/ auditory, etc. If you want a child to succeed, you must know their needs so you can use the best strategies to facilitate learning.  Did I require less quantity and quality sometimes for one student than I did for the majority? Yes. I expected what I thought was reasonable and doable for that student, at that time. But sometimes, a student would refuse to put forth the effort to learn, no matter what I did. Did he fail? Yes. Did I fail? I don't think so. Learning requires participation from both parties.

Traveling life's road, we owe it to ourselves to look at our own issues; not only for ourselves, but for those we love. Thankfully, there are educators along the way to help us. Friends, family, counselors, books, internet.... can all be part of the process. But we must be willing to explore our issues. And this often means exposing ourselves to painful realities of who we are or have become.

Alcoholism runs rampant through both sides of my family. That is a fact that I have been keenly aware of all of my life. I am very sensitive to my own enjoyment of wine, beer, and other types of alcoholic beverages. My guard has always been up.

But there are other traits and tendencies I have found wandering through my family tree as well. Traits that were not so obvious, but could bring you to your knees just as readily as alcohol - and did. Depression, other addictive behaviors, lack of focus/drive, the 'somewhere over the rainbow' syndrome. They are all sprouts on my tree.

The longer I live, the more I am sure that God doesn't expect us to be perfect. But He does expect us to learn from our mistakes. He expects us to do the best we possibly can with what He has given us. It goes back to being aware and putting forth effort. Being aware of what His expectations are; putting forth the effort to make changes that need to be made.  I believe that He will hold me accountable for how I lived my life. So, can I not do so as well?  I must continue the process, until my time runs out.

I know that God loves me. He loves me enough to hold me accountable for who I am and how I live out my time here on earth. I'm glad He doesn't make excuses for me... I want to get past my faults and failings and be a blessing to those I love.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Little Things

As I reflect on my early years, I think about why I was such a happy kid. (My late teens not withstanding!) I really had a carefree existance. Free from worry; free from meanness; free from sarcasm; free to be me. As I got older, I realized that not all kids were as fortunate as I was. Even within my extended family, some of my cousins dealt with harshness and sarcasm during the whole of their growing-up years. I'm not sure that they have ever recovered from it either. To think of living your whole life and never feeling truly happy is probably one of the worst, if not the worst, thing I can think of. The one thing I am sure of is that happiness comes from the little things in life. Yes, we need to have a few of those take-your-breath-away happy times. But true happiness comes when your daily routine brings you joy.

This morning, as I was ironing Drew's pants and shirt, I realized how I enjoyed doing this particular thing for him. If I were ironing for myself, it would be just another tedious thing like putting on makeup or fixing my hair so I wouldn't scare people. Fixing Ray's first cup of coffee and taking it to him in bed makes me happy. It also makes me happy that he does the same for me. When he cleans up the kitchen after I have been cooking and/or working all day. This makes me joyous.  Remembering not to put fingerprints on the car that he so lovingly cleans, makes me happy. Love can make tedious things enjoyable at best, and tolerable at worst. Just small, ordinary, and sometimes silly efforts can make such a difference for others and yourself.

My parents were not complainers. And they were strict. They expected us to do what we were told and heaven forbid that we would ever talk back to them. They spanked us when we weren't minding if that was the only way to get our attention. The worst spanking I ever got was when my mother told my father that I talked back to her and did not do as I was told. I was about eight, and I never got another spanking after that. Honestly, I think it hurt him more (well maybe as much) as it did me. My younger sisters got fewer spankings when they got to be school age than I did. I imagine that, by then, my parents had decided that other methods were better than spanking. We always knew that they loved us though, even when they didn't say it all the time. All of us girls raised our children very much the same way, except we say "I love you " constantly. I think my parents would approve.

Life is hard. But thank goodness, not all of the time. If you look at your life and all you see is hardship, boredom, defeat, unfulfillment, regret; you will be miserable. There is not one person on this earth who has a life devoid of any of those things. The difference is in your perspective. The glass being half full or half empty metaphor has been used to death, but it does get the point across. You must choose to be happy. You must get outside of yourself and love making other people happy.

I am a genuinely solitary person. When I was growing up, my favorite things were to go exploring by myself or climb a tree and let my imagination run wild. I was never really comfortable with lots of people around. But, I did learn to be happy in groups as I got older when it became obvious that I was not going to be a nun or run away and be a hermit.  Kind of ironic that I became a teacher; last thing I ever wanted to do growing up; surrounded by groups of teenagers from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon, for 34 years. And for the most part, I was very happy during my teaching career. Remarkable!

Building happiness:
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

"The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular reason for being so except that they are so."

William Ralph Inge