Friday, April 29, 2005

Good Bye, Elise

Tonight we are honoring and celebrating the life of great lady.... Elise Moss. She passed away peacefully Tuesday night after a very long battle with cancer.

She was one of the associate ministers at Trinity United Methodist Church in Huntsville. And even though I did not know her as a personal friend, as a co-worker I saw her spunk, her dedication, her love for people and her deep committment to the work she did.

She lived her faith and she was not afraid to speak up for what she believed in.

And for me, she was instrumental in creating my miracle trip to Lithuania. (Read the story.) And I am eternally grateful.

The only thing I regret is that I never formally said thank you..... I never wrote that Thank You Card.

And unfortunately, that's just one of many thank you's I've never written.... even though I write them a million times in my head and in my heart, something in me is very resistant - and perhaps a little rebellious - about actually sitting down and writing them...... could have something to do with all the birthday and Christmas cards that I was forced to write as a child... who suffered with extreme writer's block!

Elise, I hope you knew how thrilled and excited I was about the trip.... and how grateful I was for your part in making it happen!

Guess all I can do now is let this be a lesson to me....

Here's to continuing the Journey... learning to be more outward and intentional in expressing my gratitude, and celebrating the life of a great woman, Elise Moss.


Friday, April 22, 2005

Life Path # 3

Another personality quiz..... (sorry, it's an adiction!) Found this one to be about 95% accurate!

Your Life Path Number Is 3
Your Life Path is one that emphasizes expression, sociability, and creativity as the lesson to be learned in this life.

You are among the entertainers of the world, bright, effervescent, sparkling people with very optimistic attitudes.

You possess the most exceptional creative skills: normally in the verbal realm, writing, speaking, acting, or similar endeavors.

The lesson to be learned with a 3 life path is that of achievement through expression.

The bright side of this path stresses harmony, beauty and pleasures; of sharing your creative talents with the world. Capturing your capability in creative self- expression is the highest level of attainment for this life path.

You are warm and friendly, a good conversationalist, social and open.

A good conversationalist both from the standpoint of being a delight to listen to, but even more importantly, one who has the ability to listen to others.

You are always a welcome addition to any social situation and know how to make others feel at home.

Your reative imagination is present, if sometimes latent, as you may not be moved to develop your talent.

Your approach to life tends to be exceedingly positive, and your disposition is almost surely sunny and open-hearted.

You effectively cope with all of the many setbacks that occur in life and readily bounce back for more.

It is usually easy for you to deal with problems because you can freely admit the existence of problems without letting them get you down.

You have good manners and seem to be very conscious of other people's feelings and emotions.

Life is generally lived to the fullest, often without much worry about tomorrow.

You are not very good at handling money because of a general lack of concern about it.

You spend it when you have it and don't when you don't.

On the negative side, a 3 may be so delighted with the joy of living that the life becomes frivolous and superficial.

You may scatter your abilities and express little sense of purpose.

You can be an enigma, for no apparent reason you may become moody and tend to retreat.

Escapist tendencies are not uncommon with the 3 life path, and you find it very hard to settle into one place or one position.

Guard against being critical of others, impatient, intolerant, or overly optimistic.

Typically, the life path 3 gives an above-average ability in some art form.

This can encompass painting, interior decorating, landscaping, crafts, writing, music, or the stage, or all of the above.

You are apt to be a happy, inspired person, constantly seeking the stimuli of similar people.

Your exuberant nature can take you far, especially if you are ever able to focus your energies and talents.

Here's to continuing the Journey... understanding myself better and trying hard to stay focused!


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Master of Self

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.
- Lao Tzu

When you shouldn't... knowing you can, but deciding not to....

When you should... not wanting to, but doing it anyway....

When you're unsure... listening to that Inner Voice of Wisdom and following through.....

That's where I want to be! A Master of Self.... Calm, centered, non-reactive, guided from within, in control of my emotions... at peace.

In the world but not of it.

Attributed to Jesus, John 17:14-15 and also a Sufi saying.

Here's a quote from an interesting discussion of this concept:

So the saying isn't "not of the world," it is "in the world but not of it." "In the world" means not meditating on some mountain, not living in a monastery. You're actually living the life of the world. Your life is an adventure, and whatever you are doing in the world is not an end in itself, but the process, a crucible for melting the gold from the ore."

And another:

When we are secure with our daily activities at a soul level, knowing that we are following the highest path that we know, we can be assured that blessings will follow and our earthly needs will be met. When, in fear, we do things our soul cringes at, we lose blessings and it creates a self-perpetuating cycle. We feel we must do "it" in order to survive and we receive less blessings and have more survival issues and so on and on it goes.

Here's to continuing the Journey.... listening... becoming a Master of Self.... living in this world, but not of it.


Monday, April 18, 2005

Can't See the Forest for the Trees

Life is busy.... very busy.

And often when I'm in the middle of it, trying to keep focused, I tend to negate what I have done and only look at the long list of what's next.

It's like being in the middle of a forest and only seeing the trees.

So on this beautiful, clear, sunny Monday morning, I thought I'd take a step back and look at the forest....

Here's some things on my plate.... and the progress I made last week:
  • end-of-the-year program for the Children's Choir Program Sunday afternoon; I've been filling-in for the last three weeks after the director resigned. The kids were awesome!
  • decided for sure how I wanted my summer teaching schedule to be and made a calendar of events
  • wrote up info about a beginners piano camp I'm teaching this summer and created a brochure, business card, webpage and on-line registration form for it. (Piano Camp 2005)
  • still working on a newsletter for parents and students updating them on end-of-the-year and summer schedule; getting the camp info completed was a sub-project in this
  • sent a request to students and parents for testimonials to use in my marketing materials
  • have memorized all my lines for Smoke on the Mountain and have been "off book" for the past two rehearsals
  • can play all the songs for the show from memory and know my vocal part on them
  • almost have all the lyrics to the songs memorized
  • accompanied 11.5 hours of students at UAH preparing for recitals and juries (A "jury" is the musician's equivilant of a final exam. They perform the songs they've been working on all semester for a "jury" of faculty members)
  • taught 14 lessons (piano, organ, or composition)
  • went to two outside performances that some of my students were involved in
  • had two coaching sessions with clients
  • had my own voice coaching session with a colleague
  • and many more things..... but I'm now out of time to list them
.... got to go get ready for today!

Here's to continuing the Journey.... taking care of the "trees" while enjoying the "forest"!


Thursday, April 14, 2005

We are Responsible for What We Are

We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.
-Swami Vivekananda, Daily Hindu Wisdom

The guiding mantra in a Dale Carnegie training I took many years ago was, “If you act enthusiastic, you’ll be enthusiastic!” I’ve heard dozens of variations on this actions-change-feelings philosophy throughout the years.

Actions do change feelings. Physical activity helps clear the mind too. I can’t count how many times I’ve been paralyzed by inertia, but when I finally got myself up and moving, whatever problem I’d been stuck on seemed to solve itself. Within minutes sometimes, I’d get a flash of insight or a big ‘aha’ solution to the problem.

Basically, when you get your body moving, the blood gets flowing, you start breathing deeper and the next thing you know, you’ve got a whole different mental outlook!

… whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.

Deep down, we know how to act. We know what’s best for us. But for some reason, we tend to disbelieve that inner wisdom unless it’s told to us from someone else. At least that’s true for me.

The other morning, I was thinking about my finances and wondering what would be the best strategy to get some credit cards paid off quickly. I wished there was someone I could go talk to and get advice.

I’d gotten a late start on my getting-ready routine that morning and only had a few minutes left to get my hair started when the phone rang. I typically don’t answer it when I’m running this late, but when I saw it was from a bank, I answered it, thinking well, maybe this is an answer to my prayer.

The lady on the other end was soliciting a credit card with a 1.9% interest rate. I told her that I might be interested, but that I didn’t have time to talk to her right then. She persisted, saying that the application would only take a few minutes.

Well, at that moment, I had about five minutes left to finish my hair, which would give me 30 minutes to run two errands before my appointment in a relatively leisure, unhurried fashion.

Long story short – I gave her my last five minutes, which made me rushed, pissed and late for my appointment. PLUS in the middle of the “application” I realized that this offer really would not be in my best interest.

So, looking back, I did not trust my inner wisdom to use that last five minutes in a way that would be best for me.

We have the power to make ourselves.

I believe that “power” refers to our inner wisdom. Because it is we, us, you, me… who ultimately decides how to act.

What this scenario helped me realize was that I DO know what is right for me…. And if I listen closely enough, I will either know how best to solve my financial situation or I will be guided to a true helper.

Here’s to continuing the Journey…. listening, knowing and taking action steps toward the future we want.


Monday, April 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dad

Oops.... Except that it's not on April 11th, it's April 16th!

For some reason, I've always gotten Dad's birthday mixed up with Anita North's birthday. It's Anita who was born on April 11. Dad was born on April 16.

This all might make a lot more sense if Anita and I had been friends all these years. But I haven't seen her since grade school, though I may have run into her once during highschool. Back in third grade, though, we along with Mary Ann, were quite a threesome.

It's funny the things we remember from childhood and the things we don't.

Oh well, at least Dad got his present early this year! Usually I run the mental birth date debate in my head to it's completion, taking too long to finally remember that Dad's is on the 16th, and end up missing them both! But this year - this morning- I went straight into reaction mode and.... well all I can say is, "thank God for 1-800-flowers!"

Here's to continuing the Journey... and remembering birthdays... sooner or later!


Saturday, April 09, 2005

Getting Older... In Sweden

Apparently, I'm getting older... fast!

A couple of months ago I took the What Age Do You Act? quiz at Blogthings and discovered I'm 28. I took it again today just for fun, and found out that I've notched myself up into the next decade!

You Are 32 Years Old


Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Any method of self-discovery fascinates me. I love any and
all types of personality tests! So, when I found the chance to discover my Inner European, how could I resist! (Especially, when I didn't even realize I had one!)

Your Inner European is Swedish!

Relaxed and peaceful.

You like to kick back and enjoy life.

Here's to continuing the Journey.... and learning more about who you are!


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

How to Behave in an Elevator

  1. Face forward.
  2. Fold hands in front.
  3. Do not make eye contact.
  4. Watch the numbers.
  5. Don't talk to anyone you don't know.
  6. Stop talking with anyone you do know when anyone you don't know enters the elevator.
  7. Avoid brushing bodies.
- Layne Longfellow

No one ever said to me, "Now, Becky. This is how you ride an elevator." But somehow I got the message.

And even knowing from experience that when I get on an elevator and push the number for the floor I'm going to, the elevator will dutifully stop on that floor and open the door for me. I know there's really no need to WATCH the numbers to make sure it happens.

Yet I find myself doing it instinctively.

I also tend to stop talking to someone I know - even if we're in the elevator alone. This is mostly because I'm concentrating so hard on watching those numbers to make sure they're moving in the correct direction!

Several years ago in downtown Atlanta, while taking a paralegal course in a large multi-story building, a childhood friend, whom I had not seen in about 20 years, put his hand on my shoulder in a crowded elevator I'd just gotten on. I turned my head to look in the direction of the hand and did the jaw-drop, eyes-wide-open expression of pleasant surprise.

However, while I was speechlessly fighting the "rules" in my head (face forward, no eye contact, watch the numbers, don't talk) the 10 second window of opportunity to reconnect was over. The door opened to his floor and he walked out of the elevator.... and I never saw him again.

An opportunity to connect with another human being lost. I wonder how many other opporunities I've missed and not even realized it.... all because of social conditioning....

Some rules ARE made to be broken.

Here's to continuing the Journey... breaking the rules of social convention and having the audacity to connect with another person... no matter where I am!


Friday, April 01, 2005

Dare to Be the Fool

Happy New Year... I mean... Happy April Fool's Day!

Back before the Gregorian calendar became the official calendar, April 1st was considered to be the first day of the year. But everybody didn't get the word right away, or either refused to believe it entirely. These "traditionalists" continued to celebrate the New Year's Day on April 1 instead of January 1, and the "modernists" would make fun of them by sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to get them to believe something that was not true. (Find out more history here: April Fools Day)

The April edition of my newsletter, Create a Happy 'Tude, is about getting out of the "comfort zone". That habitual place of seeming safety we tend to stay in because we don't want to feel "uncomfortable" or look "foolish."

For starters, I invite my readers to go beyond the usual, 'comfortable' meaning of the word "fool" - and think deeper. What if the "fool" represents a carefree spirit able to step out into the unknown - i.e. out of their comfort zone - without fear or caution.... Like the little boy in The Emperor's New Clothes who, in childlike wisdom, spoke up and said, "Hey wait a minute, I'm not buying all this polite adult comfort zone stuff. The guy is prancing around in his 'birthday suit'!"

Here's to continuing the Journey.... speaking up, speaking out.... daring to be the fool!