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Stand Up Scout

“Having influence is not about elevating self, but about lifting others!”  ~Sheri Dew

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In our lives, we meet new and interesting people every day … of course not lately with this “Stay at Home” order. I believe, there are certain people who make an impact on us, affecting us for the rest of our lives. Every one of you has by now encountered at least one person who has impacted your life.  This would be someone who is outside of your family who made a difference.  I have a specific person who made a difference in my life along time ago when I was going through a very difficult time.  As a nineteen year old, a gentleman from my church, who lived about an hour away, was there for me when I had left home for a few months.  Knowing that I was extremely lonely and emotionally suffering, he visited me weekly to let me know that I was a “Child of God” with so much potential.  He built me up in so many ways, not because of any church assignment he had, but because he cared about people around him.  He moved from North Carolina many years ago and I never got to tell him thank you … but he changed my life.  I can look at my children and grandchildren and can name a coach or mentor that had a major impact on who they became.  My son Paul’s swim coach, John Richards, was not only a coach but a friend and mentor.  My granddaughter Katie’s soccer coach, Coach Leshaun Jenkins, was also a mentor and friend … teaching her about life off the soccer field.

Bob J's – To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) - STACK | JB Hi-Fi

Of all the characters that I’ve “met” through books and movies, one character always stands out as someone that I want to be like. That is Atticus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird” … one of my very favorite books! He was just an ordinary man from a very small town, like mine, who had a positive effect on those around them. I cry every time I read or watch the minister in the balcony say “Stand up Scout … Mr. Finch is passing.”   Everyone should want to be like Atticus!  He is a symbol of what is good, honest, and wise. When the story of our town is written, wouldn’t it be great if each of us were included as someone who symbolized those things? I’m quite sure if the story included Atticus’ childhood, it would read that he probably emulated someone who had been an influence in his life. It is simply amazing how everything around us shapes and carves our character. One person can make a huge difference in your life whereas ten people altogether might never change you.

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This photo is from one of the times I have tried to “be the one” … to help my community.  At Thanksgiving my family and I work the first half of the day at our local Community Homeless Outreach Shelter.  It is one of my most cherished times during the year … serving meals to others.  I do this to not only serve, but to Honor Sister Mary Anne, an example to our community on helping others. So, what’s my point today.  Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others… It is the only thing.” People look at what you do, more than listen to what you say. To be a positive influence, you must live the life you’d like to see others live.   Bottom line … You never know who you are influencing for good!  I bet each of you are someone’s shining example and influence right now!  I had a shining example to follow … my good friend Kathy Munday, who fought cancer for 13 years, after being given 6 months to live. She never gave up … and lived a full life of service while extremely ill and not feeling well. I never got to tell her that she became my shining example. She passed away several years before I was diagnosed with cancer. I followed her example and continue today. Whether we know it or not, we are all making a difference.  But during this specific time in our lives right now, being ordered to shelter at home, how can we make a difference?

In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Andrew Carnegie notes that one of the most powerful ways to influence another person is to make them feel important, and show that you care. During the last year, my church began what we call a ministering program.  Each member began to do as the Savior did in ministering to all.   Ministering is Christlike caring for others and helping meet their spiritual and temporal needs.  We are  the Savior’s other “good Samaritans” on earth.  Even though we are in our own homes, we can still reach out to others and check on our friends.  During the last week I have enjoyed calling friends and asking how their toilet paper supply is holding up.  It’s a good way to start a conversation.  A call can really cheer someone up that is at home dealing with all sorts of new problems.  You don’t even have to call … send them a special message on your computer.  We all need each other to get us through this horrible pandemic that is taking its toil on so many.  We don’t have to be sick with the corona-virus because it is affecting all parts of our lives … work … food … protective gear … and yes, even toilet paper!

The Good Samaritan

So, my challenge to you this week is: Pay attention to those around you.  Deliver sincere messages  of cheer to others who need encouraging words. By focusing on this, you are sure to bring out the best in those around you, including yourself! Now more than ever the world really needs caring, positive influences to make it a better place for each of us to live … to make each day brighter.  This “stay at home” directive is really hard on seniors … they miss their families. It’s hard on caregivers … having to be home without help 24/7. It’s hard on parents having to occupy their children’s mind and energy all day … and provide education too. It’s hard on families having to live without steady income … stuck at home not knowing where to look for help. Be someone that makes a positive difference! Call, email, write notes … listen to their words and tones. Let’s not just settle on spreading light … let’s be the mirror that reflects it too! Be the one!

Just Saying …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Having Influence is not about elevating self, but about Lifting Others!”  ~Sheri Dew

In our lives, we meet new and interesting people every day … of course not lately with this “Stay at Home” order. I believe, there are certain people who make an impact on us, affecting us for the rest of our lives. Every one of you has by now encountered at least one person who has impacted your life.  This would be someone who is outside of your family who made a difference.  I have a specific person who made a difference in my life along time ago when I was going through a very difficult time.  As a nineteen years old, a gentleman from my church, who lived about an hour away, was there for me when I had left home for a few months.  Knowing that I was extremely lonely and emotionally suffering, he visited me weekly to let me know that I was a “Child of God” with so much potential.  He built me up in so many ways, not because of any church assignment he had, but because he cared about people around him.  He moved from North Carolina many years ago and I never got to tell him thank you … but he changed my life.  I can look at my children and grandchildren and can name a coach or mentor that had a major inpact on who they became or are becoming.  My son Paul’s swim coach, John Richards, was not only a coach but a friend and mentor.  My granddaughter Katie’s soccer coach, Coach Leshaun Jenkins, was also a mentor and friend, teaching her about life outside of the soccer field.

Of all the characters that I’ve “met” through books and movies, one character always stands out as someone that I want to be like. That is Attacus Finch from “To Kill a Mockingbird” … one of my very favorite books! He was just an ordinary man from a very small town, like mine, who had a positive effect on those around them. I cry every time I read or watch the minister in the balcony say “Stand up Scout … Mr. Finch is passing.”   Everyone should want to be like Attacus!  He is a symbol of what is good, honest, and wise. When the story of our town is written, wouldn’t it be great if each of us were included as someone who symbolizes those things? I’m quite sure if the story included Attacus’ childhood, it would read that he probably emulated someone who he had been an influence in his life. It is simply amazing how everything around us shapes and carves our character. One person can make a huge difference in your life whereas ten people all together might never change you.

So what’s my point today.  Nobel Peace Prize winning Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others… It is the only thing.” People look at what you do more than listen to what you say. To be a positive influence, you must live the life you’d like to see others live.   Bottom line … You never know who you are influencing for good!  I bet each of you are someone’s shining example and influence right now!  I had a shining example to follow … my good friend Kathy Munday, who fought cancer for 13 years after being given a 6 months to live cancer diagnosis. She never gave up … and lived a full life while extremely ill and not feeling well. I never got to tell her either that she became my shining example. She passed away several years before I was diagnosed myself with cancer. I followed her example and continue today. Whether we know it or not, we each are making a difference.  But during this specific time on our lives right now, being ordered to shelter at home, how can we make a difference?  We can!

In his book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Andrew Carnegie notes that one of the most powerful ways to influence another person is to make him feel important, and that you care. During the last year my church began what we call a ministering program.  Each member began to do as the Savior did in ministering to all.   Ministering is Christlike caring for others and helping meet their spiritual and temporal needs.  Even though we are in our own homes, we can still reach out to others, to check on our friends.  During the last week I have enjoyed calling, not only fellow members, but my  friends, asking how their toilet paper supply is holding up.  It’s a good way to start a conversation.  A call can really cheer someone up that is at home dealing with all sorts of new problems.  You don’t even have to call … send them a special message on your computer.  We all need each other to get us through this horrible pandemic that is taking its toil on so many.  We don’t have to be sick with the corona-virus because it is affecting all parts of our lives … work … food … protective gear … and yes, even toilet paper!

So my challenge to you this week is: Pay attention to those around you and outside of your home.  Deliver sincere messages to others who also need encouraging words … especially those elderly and alone. By focusing on this, you are sure to bring out the best in those around you, including yourself! Now more than ever the world really needs caring, positive influences to make it a better place for each of us to live … to make each day brighter.  Be someone that makes the positive difference! Let’s not just settle on spreading light … let’s be the mirror that reflects it too!

Just Saying …

Think About Living!

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Life sure seems upside down lately. This dang corona-virus  has complicated everyone’s life.  I’ve been sheltering at home for one week … I miss my part-time job at our local Community College. Now the government has asked us to shelter in place for the next 30 days.  It’s hard to stay focused on living every day to its fullest.  But we can … if we focus on the “right stuff.”

Several years ago I attended church with my son Paul, who lives in Wilmington.  At the service, an  eighty-nine-year -old lady briefly spoke and shared with us her story about her recent hip replacement. The surgery went well but after she went home she experienced some life-threatening complications and ended up having an additional emergency surgery. She said she realized it was serious when they took her to surgery at 4:00 in the morning. She was doing wonderful at the time I heard her speak and looked amazing for her age! She related how a few days after the surgery she was in a lot of pain and quite sick in the middle of one night and all she could think about was that she might be dying. Then as clear as a bell in her quiet room she heard the words in her mind … “Think about living!”   From that night on she says that she thinks about living. She made me laugh when telling of the nurses coming into her room to take her for a walk … which she did not want to do and only wanted to yell “NO” … but the words came again … “Think about living!” So with their help, she got out of the bed and walked the hospital halls. When they would return to her room they would ask “Do you want to sit in your chair for a while?” She related she just wanted to get back into bed, but the words came again …“Think about living!” So into the chair she sat!   I thought … WOW! If this eighty-nine year old woman can still focus on living, then surely we all can!

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Everyone knows that I love using metaphors! Forrest Gump told us that “Life is like a box of chocolates!”   I like to think of “Life as a Puzzle.” My life so far has been one of those tricky 1,000 piece puzzles. When I began my puzzle, I came up with a plan on how to put it together and then started on my journey. I began thinking about living. The pieces were all very small and looked alike. So at first, I found myself trying to force certain pieces into the wrong position or place. Even though they appeared as if they should fit, they just weren’t meant for that space. It would be so easy to just pick up a pair of scissors and snip – snip – snip in order to make it fit. Yes, it would be easy that way to solve my puzzle, however then my finished puzzle would definitely not look anything like it is supposed to. It certainly wouldn’t be the beautiful picture it should be.

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Like a puzzle, life can sometimes seem like a big mess .. I know everyone agrees since we are all trying to deal with this national crisis. But when it’s finally put together (or the crisis is over), it looks awesome! Just because it becomes a bit hard or difficult to solve at times, we can’t just stop and throw it all away. In order to see the complete picture, we need to stick to it until the puzzle is completely finished! In other words, we can’t stop living because we don’t like pieces of our life that we can’t immediately figure out where they’re supposed to fit into out life’s picture. We need to simply keep an eye on the big picture and continue searching for where each puzzle piece fits. We need to keep going, to keep living, and trust that in the end it will all come together perfectly. We must “think about living!” We must continue to put the pieces together until we see the bigger picture appear before our eyes, until it becomes our life’s masterpiece.

Eleanor Roosevelt said it best “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

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Back in the 1930’s there was a young man from a very poor village in Ethiopia. He didn’t have much in life except for his God-given ability to run long distances. He could run and run and never seemed to get tired. He didn’t even have shoes to run in, but that didn’t stop him. He ran everywhere all the time. One day someone encouraged him to try out for the Olympics. His family and the people in his village believed in him, so they sold anything they could spare to raise money,  including goats and chickens. With that money, he trained, tried out, and made it to the 1936 Olympics in Germany.

There he was at the race, ready for the gun to go off. After running for miles and miles on dusty roads with no shoes, a well laid out track with top-of-the-line running shoes would be no problem. Then, “Pow!”, the race was off. One by one, runners started to fall behind him, and he found himself at the front of the pack. But less than 1/4 the way in, his new shoes proved too much to get used to and he twisted his ankle and fell. Striking his knee on the pavement, he opened up a pretty good gash. But he got back up and kept running. The pain grew, and the blood flowed. His paced slowed until one by one the runners he had passed started to pass him. He ran slower and slower until he couldn’t even see the runners ahead of him anymore.  When the crowd thought all the runners had finished, the stadium cleared quickly. One lone reporter who was left behind to pack up his equipment was startled to see this young man hobble into the arena. He watched him with his blood-soaked shoe round the track, and painfully limp across the finish line. Consumed by curiosity, the reported rushed over to the young runner to find out what happened. After hearing his story, he asked him why in the world he didn’t just stop running. He almost chastised him about the permanent damage likely caused to his leg because he wouldn’t stop. The young Ethiopian with his face smeared with sweat and pain looked the reporter in the eyes and said “Sir, my family and my village did not sacrifice so much for me that I might only start this race. They did it so I could finish the race. And that is why I could not stop.”

I could preach a sermon on that illustration alone … But instead I’ll just say this: Pain is temporary, but quitting lasts forever. Please remember that!  Finishing takes faith, and God is with you until the end. Read: 2 Timothy 4:7-8 :  “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  Remember the words of Jim Valvano that I stated a few weeks ago … “Never Give Up!”

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I will end with my go-to words from Jeffrey R. Holland.  I listen to this man’s video on never give up at least every other week.  These words give me hope for a better tomorrow when all seems lost.  It turns my thinking around to more hope and faith.

“Don’t give up. Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead . You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

Yep … Life is a puzzle and you really do have the very last piece in your possession! Let’s “Think about Living!” …  even though we are all quarantined at home for the next 30 days … let’s find joy in the moment  And let’s enjoy our life and time together!

Just saying …

Barefoot and Unprepared

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These past few weeks has been a bit interesting … this coronavirus is scary.  Everyone is asking “Are you prepared?”

To start off I’m going to tell you one of my sister Cathy’s favorite story.  She was a lover of sports.  She would not be happy today with all the canceled sporting events  … especially the basketball tournaments.  When she heard this story given by Howard W. Hunter at a conference … she fell in love with it and told it often.  The story tells of a quarterback on the football team of a small, rural high school. This young man managed to make the team, but it was clear that he was not going to be all-state or all-American. In fact, he was the fourth of four quarterbacks.  By the last game of the season, he had never been called into a game, and he had given up all hope of playing. During the final game of the year he decided to relax and enjoy himself, so he pulled off his shoes, wrapped himself in a blanket, and settled down on the bench to watch his buddies play.

Midway through the game he heard the coach shout his name. He was startled and wondered if he had been mistaken. Then the coach called again, “Hey, you! Get in there and move the ball!”  What should he do? He wanted to say, “Wait, coach, while I put on my shoes.” But instead, he made straight for the huddle, his stocking feet conspicuous to the players, the spectators, and the coach.

Being called into the game made him very nervous and he was confused as he called his first play, and by the time he took the snap from center, he had forgotten which play he had called. While his teammates moved to the right, he went left, where he was swallowed up in the snarl of onrushing linemen.  No one expected him to make a touchdown. Even running the wrong way was understandable. But there was no excuse for a quarterback without shoes. No excuse for a quarterback not ready to help his team to success!

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Are you prepared?  Are you prepared to help yourself? But the bigger question is:  Are you prepared to help others?  Are you ready to pass the ball of life and make a difference?  Recently I have been thinking about my life and the things I have done, things I have not done, things I’m prepared for and the things I am not prepared for.  Am I prepared?  I have decided that when I finally depart from this life and I arrive at the pearly gates that  I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautiful tailored clothes with my hair expertly set and with long perfectly manicured fingernails. That is definitely NOT me!  I want to pedal up to the pearly gates on a beat up three-wheel old bicycle (not sure I can balance myself on two wheels anymore), with a basket of things to share with others.  I want to be wearing a pair of grass stained worn-out shoes from playing with my great-grand kids on their swing set.  I want there to be a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.  I want there to be a little dirt under my fingernails from helping my family plant a garden.  I want there to be children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of family and friends on my shoulders.  I want my Heavenly Father to know that I was really here and that I really lived. I want to be wearing my life’s shoes! Each one of us has to realize that if we are going to really be here and make a different in this world and really live, it is absolute essential that we do not lose hope and we look to our Heavenly Father for support, guidance and love.  That means … Not losing hope…. Not getting discouraged…. Not giving up!  Keeping our shoes on so we are prepared! And … Serving others!

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This is one of my favorite paintings. The artist is James Christensen who titled this painting “Hold to the Rod.”  The man in this painting is trying to hold onto so many worldly possessions that he cannot let go and grab hold of the rod for fear of losing something. The rod represents divine guidance. He is looking at the rod, but doesn’t have the belief and faith to let go of those material things and be guided to the more important things.

I have found that while riding on the bike that we call life, we tend to collect things that make us feel safer and better about ourselves … comfortable enough that we walk around barefooted.  Even though these things are mere material possessions, they tend to give us a superficial sense of security.  It is only by holding fast to our own beliefs that we can navigate our life with confidence and be prepared for whatever is placed before us.

I am reminded of a speech that I heard presented by Dieter F. Uchtdorf. He began the speech recounting an experience he once had moving a grand piano from one room to another.  He related how a group of men were trying to move a grand piano from a church chapel to an adjoining cultural hall for a musical event. None were professional movers and the task of getting that very heavy piano through the chapel and into the cultural hall seemed nearly impossible. Everybody knew that this task required not only physical strength but also careful coordination. Each man had his own idea of how the piano should be move, but not one could keep the piano balanced correctly. They re-positioned the men several times by strength, height, and age — but nothing worked.  As they stood around the piano, uncertain of what to do next, one of the men spoke up. He said, “Stand close together and lift where you stand.” Together they lifted that piano and moved it successfully. The dictionary defines the word “lift” as “to raise to a higher position or level.”

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At the present, we live in a world full of scary things.  I’m terrified about getting this coronavirus … I am definitely a prime candidate to die from this virus.  I keep asking myself if I have prepared enough.  Thankfully I belong to a church that has all ways taught its members to be prepared.  Yes … I have plenty of “toilet paper”, meds and food! I even have a supply of hospital masks left over from chemo.   In Dexter (my Tahoe) I have my 72 hour backpack that has 50 items to help in any type of emergency.  I use items from it all the time to help myself or others. Need a band-aid … I got it!  Need a rope … I got it!  Need a flashlight … I got it!  Need a hatchet … yep … got that too!  There was this Pilot Club member from the western part of the state who also had a 72 hour pack in her car.  We used to sit with each other and try to out-do each other with new items.  I learned a lot from her … a real survivalist.

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I love this photo … even very strong sturdy trees help each other!  So let me ask:  Are you prepared to help yourself and to help others.  Can you lift yourself and then lift others.  Life is what we make of it and it sure is better with “lifters” around to pitch in and help!  Lifters with shoes on … ready to help our team of family and friends.  I challenge you to take the “7 Minutes to Lift 7 People up This Week” challenge.  You may have to let go of some of those things holding you back … but it will bless you and give you so much happiness this week.  Each day this week, reach out to someone you know who needs a little lift to win this game of life … family, friends, co-workers, peers.  Make the commitment with me to make a difference in someone else’s life and then watch what happens in your own life.  You and whomever you reach out to will feel much better and be lifted up!

Remember “be prepared, keep those shoes on” so you will be ready to “lift where you stand!”

Just saying ….

Choices Matter

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“The decisions we make, individually and personally, become the fabric of our lives. That fabric will be beautiful or ugly according to the threads of which it is woven.”  ~Gordon B. Hinckley

 

There is a true story about a man named Joseph Henry.  I read it once, can’t remember where, but jotted notes down in my journal to use later.  It’s a rather strange story about his childhood.  His grandmother paid a cobbler to make him a pair of shoes.  The cobbler measured his feet and told Joseph that he could choose between two styles:  a rounded toe or a square toe.  Little Joseph could not decide which one he liked better.  It seemed to be such a huge decision to him because they would be his only pair of shoes for a long time.  The cobbler allowed him to take a couple of days to make up his mind.  Day after day, Joseph went into the shop … sometimes three or four time a day!  Each time he looked over the cobbler’s shoes and tried to decide.  He continued to procrastinate.  He wanted to make up his mind, but he just couldn’t decide.  Finally, one day he went into the shop and the cobbler handed him a parcel wrapped in brown paper.  His new shoes!  He raced home.  He tore off the wrapping and found a beautiful pair of leather shoes … one with a rounded toe and the other with a square tow!

We are all made up from the choices we make!  Joseph Henry learned a difficult lesson about decisions:  If we don’t make them ourselves, others will make them for us.  A wise man named Quentin Cook said that “many choices are not inherently evil, but if they absorb all of our time and keep us from the best choices, then they become insidious.”  Either of Joseph Henry’s choices would not have been wrong … but the fact that he couldn’t make up his mind and letting someone else decide was wrong.  The choices you make and the decisions you make have a long lasting impact on your life. They make you special and different from others, they make a distinction between you and everyone else. 

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Here’s another short story on choosing whether to decide or give up.  Its a kid’s fable and I’m not sure where it came from, but I love the moral of the story. One hot day, a thirsty crow flew all over the fields looking for water. For a long time, he could not find any. He began feeling very weak, and almost lost all hope. Suddenly, he saw a water jug sitting below the tree. He flew straight down to see if there was any water inside. Yes, he could see some water inside the jug! The crow tried to push his head into the jug. Sadly, he found that the neck of the jug was too narrow. Then he tried to push the jug over to tilt for the water to flow out, but the jug was too heavy. The crow thought hard for a while. Then, looking around it, he saw some pebbles. Suddenly he had a good idea. He started picking up the pebbles one by one, dropping each one into the jug. As more and more pebbles filled the jug, the water level kept rising. Soon it was high enough for the crow to drink. His plan had worked because he did not give up!

If we think and work hard enough, we can find solutions to any situation or problem that we might be facing. The crow didn’t give up on his problem and neither should we.  He pondered it and came up with a plan, and then carried that plan out. Your life is a series of choices you have made so far. You will live with those choices for the rest of your life — and believe me when I say this, the rest of your life can be a pretty long period. Whether you feel it immediately or not, your life is being shaped by the choices you are making right now … today and tomorrow. We can’t undo the past, but we can always learn from it. Our choices are the building blocks of our lives and despite all the mistakes we make, a new day brings with itself new opportunities and a whole new world of choices. 

We all have goals and dreams. I probably have way too many!  We all want something we don’t currently have. If we want to achieve our goals, we need to grab our lives by the horns and make the tough decisions to get what we want. These decisions and choices will allow us to achieve our goals.

Tough Decisions Ahead Road Sign

Next time you have to make a decision … no matter how big or small it is, make a choice. Let me shout that again … MAKE A CHOICE! Choose the option that puts you one step closer to achieving your dreams and the future you want to build. Quoting Stephen Covey from his book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”:  “We are the creative force of our life, and through our own decisions rather than our conditions, if we carefully learn to do certain things, we can accomplish those goals.”

I have had to make some really big decisions in my own lifetime.  I am sorry to say that many of my choices were not too smart.  I am happy to say that when I used the right powers for help in my decisions,  I always made the right choice.  Study … prayer … then decide.  My hubby Ken used to tell me that in making important choices and decisions to use that method.  To study it out, to pray about your decision and then decide to do it.  He would say that if the decision was right I would know it in my heart … I would feel peace.  If I kept doubting my decision, then I would know that I had made the wrong decision and to back up and start again.  This has always worked for me.  I always followed his three steps and if my heart kept debating, then I began my decision making again. This important lesson and wisdom sure kept me from making some really stupid choices and bad decisions!

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For instances, some of my decisions were: Getting married and having children … That was an easy one.  Working mom or stay at home mom … a harder choice because of finances but staying home was the right decision.  Moving Ken’s business from downtown to our backyard building … also a tough decision knowing clients would be coming to our home … but a right financial decision to move to our own building.  Going to work after Ken passed away … Opps, the kids made that decision for me and made me go to work.  Actually it was the best decision for my health and emotional well being.  Thanks kids.  My decision between being treated for cancer in Tarboro or Duke Cancer Center … I chose Duke because of the aggressive cancer type I had and their world class doctors.  Proof of the right decision … I defied the odds and am still here going on 8 years after diagnosis.  These are some of the choices I have had to made.  I’m not going to list all the wrong decisions because I don’t want you to laugh at all my dumb choices.  I do want you to see that by making your own choices you can effect your life for the good.  You just need to figure out what’s best and then do it.  Isn’t that what Nike says … Just Do It! … great advice.

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I love this quote by Thomas S. Monson:  “It has been said by one, years ago, that history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives.  Our lives will depend upon the decisions which we make – for decisions determine our destiny.”  WOW … yes our choices do determine our destiny … strong thoughts!

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Now for one of my favorite stories. Its Aesop Fable, “The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey.” A father and were to journey to the city marketplace and sell a donkey for winter provisions. As they started to town, the father rode the donkey. In the first village, the villagers said, “What an inconsiderate man, riding the donkey and making his son walk!” So the father got off the donkey and let his son ride.  In the next town, the people whispered, “What an inconsiderate boy, riding the donkey and making his father walk!”

In frustration, the father climbed on the donkey; and father and son rode the donkey, only to have the people in the next town declare, “How inconsiderate of the man and the boy to overload their beast of burden and treat him in such an inhumane manner!” In compliance with the dissident voices and mocking fingers, the father and son both got off the donkey to relieve the animal’s burden, only to have the next group of onlookers say, “Can you imagine a man and a boy being so stupid as to not even use their beast of burden for what it was created!”

Then, in anger and total desperation, having tried to please all those who offered advice, the father and son both rode the donkey until it collapsed. The donkey had to be carried to the marketplace and could not be sold. The people in the marketplace scoffed, “Who wants a worthless donkey that can’t even walk into the city!”

The father and son had failed in their goal of selling the donkey and had no money to buy the winter provisions they needed in order to survive.  Think about it for a moment … how much different the outcome would have been if the father and son had had a plan to follow and then made to choice to follow that plan.  The choice would have been so easy.

At times, making the right choices can be simple. At other times, it is truly a big struggle. But through it all, you can find comfort in knowing that you can summon support and comfort from a loving Heavenly Father to help you in making your decisions. He is intimately concerned with your welfare, and He seeks to give you blessings overflowing with guidance to make the right choices.

Just do it!  Just saying …

Baloney Sandwiches Again!

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You can be wise and happy …. or stupid and miserableThe choice is yours!”   ~Gordon B. Hinckley

Let me start by relating a story I once heard … I do not know who wrote it or told it … but I love this story and it’s wisdom!  To begin … Yes, I love fried baloney sandwiches … especially at the beach … Thinking about them brings back memories of growing up and having to take my lunch to school each day! I actually hated baloney sandwiches then.

The Story:  Two construction workers were taking a lunch break and opened up their lunch boxes. One of them looked inside his box and said, “Not baloney sandwiches again! I can’t believe it. I hate baloney.  This is the third time this week I’ve had a baloney sandwich. I can’t stand baloney!”  The other construction worker looked at the co-worker and said, “Why don’t you just ask your wife to make you something different?”  He replied, “I don’t have a wife. I made these baloney sandwiches myself.”

Why is it that the very things that we complain about the most or don’t like about our lives are the things that we put there ourselves.  I know that I do.  I complain about having a messy over-loaded closet … when the remedy is to organize it myself. I complain about no snacks in the house … when I am free to go to the grocery store.  I complain about working every day …. oh … no … I don’t complain about that because I’m so thankful to have something that gets me up and out each day!  Really I love my job.  OK… back to baloney and complaining!  I complain about not seeing my kids enough … when I know it’s a two way street and I can get in my car and drive to visit them.  We complain about many things that we can control.  This is especially true about our attitudes … something that we also have the capacity to control, but so often choose not to.

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We all understand the need to be more positive and have a happier attitude … there are a gazillion books written on the subject.  We even have bible scriptures that teaches and encourages us “to be made new in the attitude of your minds.”  (Ephesians 4:23)  So why do we so often choose to carry around the same old attitudes that have let us down over the years. 

The solution really is simple … We CAN stop packing baloney sandwiches for ourselves and start the process of developing new attitudes that will assist us in our daily lives … to develop attitudes that do not hold us back.  Our attitude can either be our best friends or it can be our worst enemy. I believe my attitude is the biggest determinant to my quality of life … a happy life.  It’s about making the mental shift in attitude that will allow you to power through whatever life throws at you.  Think about it … if you are in a bad mood and something annoying happens … it puts you in what I call the “watch out explosion coming” category.  But if you try your best to be happy .. and something annoying happens … it’s much easier to deal with.  Check out this cartoon … It’s so true … look for the positive … sit in the good seats.

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I’m in no way trying to trivialize life’s tribulations. Let’s face it; some of us have a great deal of pain to deal with. I sure have had plenty to deal with in my short lifetime (yes I consider myself young).   However, it is essential for your well-being that you understand that these circumstances, events or situations are not the final word on your quality of life … no matter how bad it appears. It’s how you respond to them and the fear and other negative emotions they produce that make the difference. And more than anything, it’s about a shift in attitude that will allow you to power through whatever life throws at you. In fact, it’s all about attitude. It’s always been about attitude. And always will be about attitude.

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I love this photo of my great-grandson Henry and the difference in what attitude means. These photos were taken about a minutes apart.  Some days I bet photos resembling these could be taken of me!  Unlike my Henry (who really doesn’t understand life yet) … we are in control of our attitude.

You know what kind of attitude I’m talking about? The kind that no matter the severity of the situation, you not only bounce back, but you thrive with a determination and confidence that defy the odds against you.

Do you want to know how to acquire that kind of attitude? Here’s an analogy that I read from a book by Steve Rizzo using cats as a teaching point.  Observe a cat, any cat. Our family has a cat … it’s actually belongs and lives with my granddaughter Maggie … but we all consider it our cat.  His name is Asha.  OK back to the cat story.  Go ahead observe your cat. Just watch them. They strut around the house, as if they’re God’s gift to the animal kingdom. I swear, if cats could talk, we would hear, “Meow! Meow! Ba-Da-Bing! Meow!”   Our Asha sleeps anywhere he wants and dares us to move him. Yep … Meow! Meow! Ba-Da-Bing! Meow! If you fold clothes on the bed and walk away for five minutes … when you go back Asha has made that nice pile of folded clothes his comfy bed.  Ba-Da-Bing!

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Have you ever wondered why it is said that cats have nine lives? Because they have resilience; they bounce back. Nothing seems to affect them. Once I was brushing Asha (he didn’t like it) and he actually fell off the counter trying to avoid me.  He land on his feet and look at me as if to say, “What? I meant to do that!” and then walk away. “Ba-Da-Bing! Meow!”  Resilience!  Bounced back!

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My family are definitely dog lovers … we have about eight dogs between all family members.  Of course my favorite is my dog “Captain Jack” (he will be 15 years old this year) … he definitely has my heart.  Think about it … have you ever told a cat to go fetch something? It just sits there and gives you another one of those looks. “Hey, let’s get something straight. I don’t do fetch. You want something, you tell your best friend Jack (my dog) to get it. I’m busy. The bottom line is this: Cats live on their own terms. Nobody tells them what to do. They defy the odds. All of us could use that same kind of attitude!  Resilience!  Bouncing back!

There’s a story about two brothers who appeared on a talk show. Again I don’t know what show or when … just read it on the internet.  The first brother came out and told his story. He was divorced, broke, unemployed, angry about life, unable to control his emotions and had problems with alcohol abuse. When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have?  My father was an abusive alcoholic and I was destined to turn out like this, it’s all his fault!”

Then the second brother came out. He was a successful businessman with a happy marriage and smiling kids.  He lived in a beautiful house, was well-respected in his local church and was a fun guy to be around. When asked why he thought he was this way he responded, “What choice do I have?  My father was an abusive alcoholic and I didn’t want to turn out like him, so I focused on improving myself and becoming the best person I could be.”

I grew up with a very dysfunctional family.  My father committed suicide when I was 11 years old … which turned my family upside down.  After that my family had so many ups and downs.  Many extended family considered us not family anymore.  At some point in my growing up I decided that my family would not define me, my future family, or the choices I made.  I wanted better than I had.  I began to understand that we were not meant to be defined by our circumstances but by our choices regarding these circumstances.  No matter how hard we try, we can’t control what happens to us, but we can choose our attitude and our emotions.  We’ve always have the power to choose, we just need to exercise that choice.  Sometimes those choices are hard … but so worthwhile!

Life is difficult … I can’t lie about that. But if you are like me, sometimes you make it more difficult by focusing only on the burdens.  But life is not all sorrow.  We just need to focus on all of life’s blessings that surround us.  I have found so many blessings to be thankful even in the worst parts of my life.  Remember that with every burden comes the hope of happiness. If we realize that life includes the good and the bad, enjoyment and heartache, pleasure and pain, we might be less likely to feel disheartened when all is not ideal.

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Every morning I remind myself of how blessed I am … to pull my head out of my behind and look around at the beauty that this world has to offer me. Things are never perfect. I accept that.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t find joy and appreciate what I do have. I do have plenty to be thankful for.  As I struggle to carry my own burdens, I try to focus on living with hope … which is a very powerful trait. Realizing that our loving Heavenly Father will not send us more than we can handle.  Life if a test!  It is accepting the fact that all is not perfect but having the strength to show the world that it will not rob me of my joy or my happiness.  No more baloney sandwiches for me!

Just saying …

 

Be a Happifier!

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“The happiest people I know are NOT those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in the pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments.”     ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Sometimes we are so busy we do not take time to be grateful and be happy.

It is easy to be thankful for sunshine, for laughter, for colorful flowers, and even rain.  Too many times, we fail to think past the obvious.  We are so caught up in our busy schedules and we feel over-whelmed by our sometimes failures that we forget just how much there is in life to be grateful for and to be happy about.

My sister Cathy was known to be a “happifier” … that was her motto!  She loved making people happy.  If you did something for her … you could depend on her doing something to make you happy and show you how grateful she was.  Her funeral was highlighted with many stories of her efforts to make her family and friends happy.  It didn’t stop there … she wanted to make every man or woman on the street that she didn’t know happy too! Her legacy is so positive.  Her grand-children have tattoos to remember Cathy and her legacy of being and making others happy. What an awesome reminder to be happy, make others happy, and to remember my sister!

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Who DOESN’T want to live a healthy and happy life … I think the answer just might be “nobody.” So what are the differences between happy and unhappy people? What is the secret to a happy life? Is it love? Is it money? Is it a big house and fancy car? Is it a important career? Well guess what … I believe simply put, your thoughts have a more powerful effect on your happiness than you might think.

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To illustrate my thoughts … would each of you look around the room you are in and find all the things you can that are blue. Now everyone close your eyes … no cheating.  Now think of the things you saw that were reddish. If you could not think of anything you saw that was reddish was it because you were intent on looking for blue that you did not even notice the beautiful reddish things.

Happiness works much the same way.  When we focus on what we do not have or our problems, soon that is all we can see.  What does this lead to: discontentment, being whiny, unsatisfied and definitely unhappy.  When we focus on our many beautiful reddish things too … the smaller amazing blessings, we become more and more aware of them.  This leads to be more content, grateful and happier.

Life is definitely too short to sit around and wait naively for perfect moments.  Thinking that happiness is going to fall right out of the sky, or walk into our lives is just NOT going to happen.  Being happy is a daily decision and requires commitment.  We must stop looking for happiness and start living happiness.

So today I have a two simple tips for you, for living a happier and healthier life.  It’s about first, choosing to be happy … then thinking about how to be happy!

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#1 Stop Negative Thinking.  A negative mind will never give you a positive life. Stop thoughts that are limiting and self-defeating like “I can’t do that“ or “I’m not good enough.” Don’t believe everything that you think. Negative thinking is unhelpful and will hold you back from achieving your goals and greater self-confidence. Replace negative thoughts with words that are positive and motivating. In the beginning, it may be difficult, but the more you repeatedly send positive messages to yourself, the better and happier you will feel.  I love the quote from Lisa Hayes:  “Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.”  Stop that half-empty things right now!

#2 Be Grateful.  Gratitude is an attitude and a way of living that has been shown to have many benefits in terms of health and happiness. Feeling and expressing gratitude, instead of wanting more and more, turns our mental focus to the good and happy things in life. Which will create more things to be grateful for. I have a “Gratitude Journal” that I try to write in daily.  I only write positive things.  When I feeling down or sad, I go back and read my journal and realized how blessed I am even with daily trials and problems.  As you awake each morning, give thanks for your blessings and the life that you do have. Life is a gift, never forget that.

The best quote ever by an unknown author:  “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything … they just make the best of everything they have.”  OK … become a happifier too!

Just saying …

Charlie Brown Inspired

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“Never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker!” … Charlie Brown  

Several weeks ago during one of our church services, a tidbit of wisdom struck my thoughts. OK, maybe I wasn’t paying attention as I should have been.  But it occurred to me that if we were to slow down our lives, we would be able see Heavenly Father’s purpose for our life more clearly. I don’t know about you, but many time I find myself speeding through life only trying to “eat, drink and be merry”! My true belief is that the purpose of my life is not just to be happy (which sometimes can in itself be hard)  … life is to be useful, to be compassionate, to be honorable and to be of service to other. The scriptures tell me and my Savior instructs me to strive for a life that makes a difference in not only my life but others as well … that I lived and lived well according to his words!

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My post today comes from the daily comic strip ‘Peanuts’ … which if we pay attention to, can often teach us. Every day, the whole Charlie Brown gang provides laugh-out-loud moments while at the same time offering daily inspiration and lessons on life. Let me share today with you two of the leadership lessons I have found from Good Ole Charlie.

  1. Persistence wins out. Charlie Brown often loses … he fails at much, but he never gives up. For instances, even though he knew Lucy was going to pull the football away before he could kick it…. Even though he knew the tree was going to eat his kite… Even though he knew his team would lose the ball game … he always kept on trying. I know it’s hard to be rejected … it’s hard to feel you don’t matter. We MUST keep knocking on doors of opportunity no matter how many are slammed shut.

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I love this photo.  Even though the tree had fallen … it persisted and continued to thrive!  We too can do this!

I know that I have mentioned this several times over the years, but Jeffrey R. Holland’s short video gives me more hope on NOT giving up.  Here’s part of his words.  “Don’t give up … Don’t you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead—a lot of it. You keep your chin up. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”  When I feeling a bit down or out of sorts, I always go to this video … it gives me hope and peace.  In case you want to watch it, you can find it at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nczw6xHJ0I   It’s worth the 4 plus minutes of your time.

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I can’t leave my persistence part without mentioning past N.C. State Coach Jim Valvano! That’s me standing by his statue on NC State’s Campus.  I will never forget the speech he gave at the ESPY awards ceremony when he was honored by being awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on March 4, 1993.  Quoting Coach Valvano:  “There are 86,400 seconds in a day. It’s up to you to decide what to do with them. Don’t give up, don’t ever give up. Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.”

If you give up on your hopes and dreams, you will not live the unique life you were meant to live … a life that Heavenly Father created you for. If you believe that you can succeed, and do not listen to those who says otherwise, with persistence, discipline and faith in yourself you will reach and travel far in this life. Quoting Dr. Seuss: “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”  Let try to be more like Charlie Brown!

  1. It’s what you think of yourself that matters most. You know that Linus has carried a security blanket for years and his friends laugh at him. They also laugh at him because he believed in the ‘Great Pumpkin.’ Pigpen was a walking cloud of dust and dirt and was often regarded as unkindly. Both characters, however, were always proud of themselves and believed they were as good as anybody else — and they were right.

Lucille Ball said it best:  “Love yourself and everything falls in line.”  So how do we accomplish this?  The first thing we need to do is let go of what we can’t control.  That’s a mouthful and is really hard to do.  Everyone wants everyone to like us.  Too many times we fall into the trap of believing that if I could just do and say all the right things, then people would like me.  Why do we put this pressure on ourselves?  The thing is, we can’t control what others think of us or how they experience life.  We … I repeat … we are responsible for our own actions and intentions.  I myself am trying really hard to focus more of my time and energy on living in a way that reflects my own personal values instead of trying to control what other people think of me.  The only person we really should be trying to impress is our Heavenly Father and he has given us plenty of instructions on how to live!

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Quoting Diane Von Furstenberg:  “You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”  Loving our self and taking care of our self, can bring miracles into our lives!  Let’s learn to love our self. Let’s think of our self enough to take the actions required for our happiness. Who in the world needs our drama-filled past? Let’s love our self enough to move on, remember that we too matter, and be happy. Have an unshakable faith in yourself to become everything you want to be.”  In other words:  Stand tall, walk tall … you are a child of a loving Heavenly Father! You are meant to be right where you are at this moment in time!

I follow the blog of Greg Trimble, from California … he is one of my favorite bloggers.  In his latest blog posting he said: “The only thing we can do is try to be our best selves and let others think what they may. But… when we’re being our best self, we need to be our best self for ourselves and not because we want others to be impressed by our best self.”  Very profound statement!

I have a wonderful idea … Let’s be more like Charlie Brown …being persistent and loving our self!

Just saying ….

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