Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Many Faces of Courage

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow" ~ Mary-Anne Rademacher So true, more often than not I believe this is the case. There are many words for courage. I looked it up in the dictionary and came up with the following: bravery, fearlessness, nerve, audacity, boldness, grit, gallantry, guts, spunk, moxie, balls, valor, determination. And then I began to think of how many situations life presents us with every day where we have the opportunity to respond with everything we've got, in a courageous way. For example. Choosing to do things our way when the world is telling us to do something different, takes guts. Telling the truth in spite of the consequences, takes nerve. Never giving up on your dream, even when things appear to be hopeless, takes determination. Doing the right thing, taking the high road, when it doesn't always feel comfortable, takes valor. Believing in yourself when no one else does, takes balls. Sharing yourself with the world in an honest, authentic and even vulnerable way, takes spunk. Walking out on a limb, doing something you're really afraid to do, with your knees knocking and your hands sweating, takes fearlessness. Being proud of who you are in spite of the fact that others think you're different or weird or even crazy, takes audacity. Offering your gifts to the world, and doing it with everything you've got, in every way you know how, takes boldness. Giving the other person the benefit of the doubt when you know you are right, takes gallantry. Believing you are gorgeous, brilliant, talented, amazing and acting accordingly, takes moxie. Choosing to keep your commitment to yourself and do the work you promised you would do every day, takes grit. Opening your heart again even though you may have been betrayed, let down, even abandoned, takes bravery. So my dear friends, where in your life today will you be bold, audacious, spunky, balsy, fearless, brave, daring, gallant or determined and what are you waiting for? Take care and have a courageous day. By Veronica Hay

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What Special Someday Are We Saving For?

My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister's bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package. "This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite: silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached. "Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion." He took the slip from me and put it on the bed with the other clothes we were taking to the mortician. His hands lingered on the soft material for a moment. Then he slammed the drawer shut and turned to me. "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion." I remembered those words through the funeral and the days that followed when I helped him and my niece attend to all the sad chores that follow an unexpected death. I thought about them on the plane returning to California from the Midwestern town where my sister's family lives. I thought about all the things that she hadn't seen or heard or done. I thought about the things that she had done without realizing that they were special. I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them. I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event--such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom. I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for a small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends. "Someday" and "one of these days" are fighting a losing battle to stay in my vocabulary. If it's worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now. I'm not sure what my sister would have done had she known that she wouldn't be here for the tomorrow we all take for granted. I think she would have called family members and a few close friends. She might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think she would have gone out for a Chinese dinner, her favorite food. I'm guessing--I'll never know. It's those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew that my hours were limited. Angry because I put off seeing good friends whom I was going to get in touch with--someday. Angry because I hadn't written certain letters that I intended to write--one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn't tell my husband and daughter often enough how much I truly love them. I'm trying very hard not to put off, hold back or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes I tell myself that this is a special occasion. Ann Wells

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Personal Reflections - It’s About The People

These days I find that I don’t bother to read the colorful ads in the Sunday newspaper. I also don’t have the desire to wander through the mall or the fancy furniture stores to see what lovely things they have that I may want. When I was a young bride, I wanted all the fun, glitzy stuff, like fancy china, sterling silverware, a big house and a cool car. I forget why I wanted them. I think it may have had something to do with insecurity and the wish to “keep up with” our friends or society’s expectations. Over the years I’ve lost that desire, and now I have no need to acquire things just for the sake of having them. Now my focus is to have a fun, safe, comfortable place for people to gather and enjoy each other. The focus is on the relationships, not the stuff. The bottom line is that it’s always about the people. Family, friends, colleagues and the world community are what life is about. I can have all the wealth in the world, but if I don’t share love, respect and time with others, I have nothing. So this month I’m reflecting on what’s really important to me. It’s always the people, and my goal every day is to show love, caring and compassion, and put more thought, time and energy into reinforcing those connections. How about you? Sandra Abell

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Juggle Balls

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit and you're keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls - family, health, friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life. How? * Don't undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special. * Don't set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you. * Don't take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless. * Don't let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live ALL the days of your life. * Don't give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying. * Don't be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us each together. * Don't be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave. * Don't shut love out of your life by saying it's impossible to find. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings. * Don't run through life so fast that you forget not only where you've been, but also where you are going. * Don't forget that a person's greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated. *Don't be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily. * Don't use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way. Brian Dyson

Saturday, October 27, 2012

How Do You Love? 

Yesterday I broke a crystal vase that was important to me. Someone I love gave it to me, and I was really upset with my clumsiness. My husband, seeing my distress, was soothing and calm, and said, "Let me see what I can do with this." While I continued to rant at myself, he quietly took the pieces away, worked his magic and made it like new again. When he brought it back to me his face was filled with sweetness, and it occurred to me that this repaired vase was a gift of love. I began thinking about all the ways he shows me he loves me. Words are nice, but his actions speak volumes, and I'm so very blessed to have him in my life. I then thought of a woman I know who complains that her husband and children don't love her. She says they never say it, and she feels that nobody cares. However, when I look at her family I realize that there is a lot of love being given. She just doesn't recognize it so doesn't know how to receive it. When her husband goes to work at a job he doesn't like, so that she can do what she wants, which is stay home and raise the children, that's a gift of love. When her adolescent son offers to pick up something at the store so she won't have to pack up the smaller kids to go out, that is his way of telling her he loves her. Love is all around us, but we're often like my friend who expects it to come in a specific form. When it doesn't, we miss it and feel unloved. So this month I'm reflecting on being aware of ALL the ways people show me love, and being happy to receive it in whatever form it's given. How about you? Sandra Abell