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When I was in the sixth grade, the teacher asked the class, “If you could be anything you wanted to be, what would you be?”  I instantly shot my hand in the air (I was obnoxious like that), and shouted out:  “A saloon hall girl!”  The kid next to me yelled out, “Outlaw!”  The teacher rolled her eyes and sighed in disgust.  She was aiming for answers like fireman and doctor.  She was trying to teach us that we could reach whatever goals we could dream up.  Unfortunately for her, she failed to take into account that as children our dreams are as yet uncensored.  When we play make-believe as children, our imaginations have not yet been completely imprisoned by the mores and “good” values of the culture we are raised in.  As children, the possibilities really are endless.

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“…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”  William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Hamlet was a dreary guy to be around.  He had it all:  he was the Prince of Denmark, which means he had money and power.  His life was full of potential.  Plus, he had the love of the beautiful Ophelia.  Anyone else in his position might have been very grateful to be so fortuitously placed in life.  But not Hamlet.  Hamlet was chronically depressed and whined and moaned about everything.   From the outside looking in, Hamlet’s life seemed pretty cushy; but from his point of view, Denmark was a prison, and “a goodly one,” at that.  Like I said, Hamlet was a real drag.  Do you know people like that? Just being around them can suck the life out of you; a few minutes in their presence and any good feelings you had begin to grow mold and rot.

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Fully accept what already is, and suddenly you have it all. Ralph Marston

One of the biggest hurdles to keeping a consistent attitude of gratitude is our constant desire for something better than what we already have.   Rather than focus on how blessed we are to have what we have and to be where we are, we tend to see what isn’t perfect about our situation and dwell on that, instead.  With thinking like that, we quickly become dissatisfied with things that just a short time ago delighted us.

I see it quite often in my twenty-something daughter.  Last year she relocated to Florida to start over anew.  She had become dissatisfied with her life in South Carolina, and being the good mommy I helped her drive the U-Haul down and gave her my couch to sleep on while she worked it all out.  For a few weeks, she was absolutely thrilled to be out of her previous situation, and had lots of hope for her future.  But soon I began to notice a pattern with her:  first, the couch wasn’t good enough.  “I’m used to my own house, mother.  I can’t sleep  on a couch … I need my own room.”   I gave her half my closet space:  “I can’t fit all my stuff in this tiny closet!”  I gave up my sewing desk so she could have a desk to work at:  “There’s not enough light, and this desk is too small.”  I bought her a truck so she could work, and possibly buy some stuff that would please her:  “I can’t drive a truck this color!”  Well, you get the picture.

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