July 20, 2014 § 2 Comments
Sometimes, while Willis worked a mindless task in a field of wheat, he’d make things up. Like how he might go about building a rocket ship or how to carve a baseball bat that would send a ball farther. He’d try to figure out how things worked – anything. He wanted to know what made things go; what made them tick, whir, move fast or move slow. How a kernel of wheat turned into one of his Mama’s fine loaves of bread.
Sometimes, though, he’d get tired and he’d just be there, grimy and hot in the sun, looking at this enormous piece of land he had to tend, and just like any young boy, he’d feel overwhelmed. And he’d think, ‘I’ll never get this done. I’ll never get to do anything else. Ever. I’ll be here in this field for the rest of my life, until the cows come home and go back and come home again’. And that’s how he felt today.
Seeing Will slumped unproductively, his father came by and said, “Son, you’ve just got to take it one windrow at a time, is all. It won’t be so bad.”
“But there are so many rows Dad! I’ll never get it done!”
“Willis, you will get it done and you’ll do it right. I don’t want to hear you complainin’.”
Sheepishly, Will replied with an obedient “Yes, Dad.”
After a pause, Charles sat down next to Will. He looked at him harshly. Took a deep breath. And then, in a kinder tone, Charles said “Alright. Listen now. Hear what I’ve got to say. I’m gonna tell you this, and you think about it while you work. So listen.
When you stand here and look out ‘cross this big ol’ field, you see there’s lots and lots and lots of ground you’ve got to work. It looks like it’s near impossible and it’s too much for you to do. Yes, now I know it’s big. But I tell you son, if you stop looking at how big it is, and just start right in with what’s right there in front of your eyes ~ right here, under your feet ~ and you just take care of that one spot, well right away you’ll be done with that spot and you’ll be movin’ on to the next one. Pretty soon you’ll have a whole row done. And then it won’t look quite so big anymore. If you just look at one of these rows, instead of all of them at once, you won’t get so tired before you’ve even got started. You’re only tired thinking about it, and then nothin’ gets done and it’s still just as big as before.
Now I want you to remember that, because there ain’t nothin’ in life that’s so big it can’t be done if you just start from right where you are and don’t get scared off by the size of it.
All you’ve got to do is one windrow at a time. That’s all you got to think about right now. Just this one. That’s right. Now, go on.”
Charles stood, walked away, then over his shoulder he added, “And Willis? You just might build that rocket ship one day. It might even be the best rocket ship ever made, because you’re gonna build it one piece at a time.”
© Patricia Saxton, from “The Story”
July 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
proactively punctuating life with the plausible, powerful possibilities of positive thought presented through a plethora of “P’s”.
– ♥ –
There are moments ~ sometimes big and unmistakable, sometimes just pinpoints in time ~ where we step through a portal from one world into another; from old to new, from shadow to light, from closed to open, from veiled to aware, from childhood to maturity.
Passages are inevitable. Still, we sometimes have the choice to walk through or stay behind, and we have minds and hearts to guide us towards those that are good and right and to turn away from those that are not.
And so, whether figuratively or literally, for the better or even the temporarily or seemingly worse, we find keys, turn knobs, open doors, step through. With little outward fanfare, and often imperceptibly, we learn, we grow, and are forever changed. And our experience here becomes all the richer.
(see our ongoing Plethora of P’s here)
July 13, 2014 § 6 Comments
It’s been days. I can’t get this song out of my head. Granted, I haven’t given it a big shove, but thought that by now it’d at least be quieter. But no. Not so. So I’m going with it.
The point could be, after all, that if you want some fun, say o bla di bla da. The point is that life goes on. The point is that when things feel too heavy, you just might need to lighten up. Maybe even veer towards the silly. Maybe, just maybe, head towards outrageous happiness. And there you have it.
But there could even be a little more to it.
I went for a bike ride this morning. It’s been a few years, I will admit – the reason being that each year I found that my tires were flat, and with the best of intentions I’d get the bike a tune-up, but then I’d opt for a swim or a run or a game of tennis. I don’t know why; I used to bike all day long when I was a kid. And sure, I’m not a kid anymore, but the truth is I probably wasn’t as interested as I once was. But this year, I was determined.
You see, I’d fractured my spine last November (right, not fun) and it took several months before I even felt ready to get back to my lap swims. Now that it’s summer, I want to run. I see others running and I think, “I’ll go for a run, too!” But something tells me that would be a huge mistake… same for tennis. So (mini lightbulb moment) I brought out the bike, got a tune-up and rode it. And I’ll ride again. You can’t keep a good girl down, or something like that.
So I’m pedaling along, enjoying the sun, the summer breeze, feeling the burn (having not ridden in a while!), when all of a sudden, I’m aware of the song playing merrily in my head – yet again. “Happy ever after in the market place, Desmond lets the children lend a hand…” Seriously? You’re still here?
But I thought, you know, this is good. It’s reminding me that you do what you can. I can’t run but I can bike. I can do that swervy thing with the handle bars and wheels, and I can coast down a hill, and go off road. I could even sing at the top of my lungs if I wanted to, all at the same time….la la how the life goes on.
Outrageous? Not quite. But sometimes we all need a little ob-la-di ob-la-da. Some simple. Some silly. A little bit of hey I can do this, so I will! That’s all I’m saying. (And I hope you enjoy some for yourself!)
How’s your Outrageous Happiness going?
July 10, 2014 § 2 Comments
Distractions abound. Pictures. Ads. Videos. A constant hum of information. Noise.
Everywhere you go. Millions of people glued to their phones, checking messages, emails, texts, loading pictures to their social media favorites. Where is the luxury of time to ponder private thoughts or digest what’s being delivered virtually non-stop, 24/7/365?
And it’s not just our kids. Granted, they seem more obsessed, but it’s us, too. The adults. How many times when we’re with someone are we put in second place to an incoming call or text? How many nuances are missed, how many moments?
As a breed, we’re plugged in. But are we tuned in, or tuned out?
I, too, love the access. I love knowing I can reach loved ones at any time. I love the ability to seamlessly promote a business, to reacquaint with old friends, to make new ones around the world, to write this blog so that anyone on the planet might read it. I like the ease and unobtrusiveness of a text message. I like that I can shop without fighting crowds. I like finding information quickly. There’s some really cool, inspiring stuff out there. It’s a marvel. It’s a blessing and a curse. All of that.
But what starches my shorts about all this is not just that as a people we are “being distracted” and seemingly succumbing to it quite happily, but that “being present” is being threatened. The art of listening. The richness of conversation. The act of undivided attention.
Yet ~ I see glimmers of hope in the rise of things like meditation and yoga practices. It tells me that people don’t want to lose touch with their core. They want to slow down the “go go go”. They don’t necessarily want to be tethered to an electronic source, as much as it’s become almost essential.
I also find hope in the fact that there are still people who read books; and based on the sheer number of blogs out there, the realization that people still want to write. There’s a hunger to be heard, a desire to share.
And I think ~ I think ~ that within all the technological wonder, despite distractions, the “quick fix” and the instant everything, and even as some seem to be more awake and others falling asleep ~ there’s a real thirst for what’s genuine. For the organic. For the painting done with hand and brush. For the acoustic. For the face to face. The touch and feel. The messy. The unscheduled. The engaged. The spontaneous. The uninterrupted. For the very humanness of being human.
Let’s not forget! (What was that? Oh, sorry, just kidding…)
July 3, 2014 § Leave a comment
(Note: I realized when I finished writing that this is a bit of a rant. Not a full-on, seething kind of rant; more a tempered one. Regardless, you’ve been warned, so bear with me ~ or not!)
I love my country. It’s home. Much of it is stunningly beautiful. It represents freedom, liberty, and opportunity; and comes with an intense desire to better oneself, to help others lift themselves up, to lend a hand when needed. We’re hard-workers with a fierce independent streak. (We’ve also got, in my opinion, the world’s best plumbing. Not to be sneered at!)
Sure, I may stray to my British and Scottish roots now and then, via my ridiculous love for tea or my way of slipping in and out of accents, or appreciating a certain dry humour (see? oops, that would be humor). I sometimes long for the large, open piazza’s found in European cities, and the marvel of living alongside history reaching back thousands of years instead of hundreds. Still, I’m glad to call America home. We’ve made our share of mistakes, but we are a good and generous people born from all around the world.
So I celebrate the 4th of July with pride and gladness. It is, to me, the land of the free and the home of the brave.
But I am worried for us. Maybe it’s always been so ~ the way each generation worries about its youth ~ to be concerned about where the country is headed. Maybe it’s because news outlets and social media make everything so much more “in your face”; things we might have been oblivious to before. But maybe it’s valid to worry. There’s an awful lot on the table.
I have felt, for quite some time, a greater and greater divide growing amongst us ~ a divide which is proliferated by the media and polished off by our politicians (or maybe it’s the other way around). I find it extremely disturbing. It’s us or them, left or right, right or wrong, with each side cock sure of their stance. It becomes Righteous. Zealous. Fearful. Even Hateful.
These are highly charged times, igniting harsh debate – debates that are often shot down before they begin, because folks are so convinced of this or that, which of course doesn’t encourage intelligent conversation but instead shoves ideas aside where they stew with electric-like fervor.
I keep pretty mum on this kind of topic unless with trusted friends, and will most likely revert to that after this post. (This blog is a no-politics zone. Even this may too much!) But I will say that I feel we’re being manipulated on a grand scale. Before you shake your head yes, or even no, let’s remember we really don’t know – and if it’s true, we don’t know by whom or for what. We have our theories, we have bits and pieces of a massive puzzle, but I’m telling you this; it has not felt right ~ at all ~ and continues to feel worse. I’ll also say that ignorance can be bliss! But I worry that that bliss could find us in a place no one fathomed if we don’t pay attention.
I’m not talking about the emotional hot buttons that are used with increasingly rampancy as tools of persuasion, or to get votes or that turn you against your neighbor or family member who may feel otherwise. I’m not talking about who has what material thing when someone else does not. I’m talking about the grander element of personal freedom, and aspirations, and achieving greatness of your own accord in a country governed by leaders with principles who want to see you ~ and all of us as a whole ~ succeed, who will keep the roads and bridges in shape, and will fight with conviction and courage to uphold our freedoms.
So, with that larger picture in mind, this means reading articles from all points of view. Listening to opinions from all points of view. Watching news from all points of view. And it means you read, you listen and you watch, directly. Dig a little. Don’t base what “you hear” on what others say “they heard”. It’s all too easy. It’s all too convenient. It’s all too messy. And we’re all too busy being distracted by a million things, some worthy, some truly not at all.
This isn’t about specifics right here. I just ask that we be present and use our own fine brains. It can be a little tricky, because there’s “power in numbers” but there’s also “crowd mentality” where others are thinking for you. So I say, don’t be a voice in a chorus of voices unless you’ve done your due diligence. If you care about your freedom, as I care about mine; if you love this country, flaws and all, for all its glory, for all its beauty, for all its people; for all our hopes and dreams, for our children’s hopes and dreams ~ you will pay attention. Don’t let the magnificence that is the United States – that place you call home, that place that let’s you speak your mind and stand up for what you believe in and walk in protest and that sends every child to school and has kept us safe from harm ~ don’t let it slip away or be whisked or whittled away right in front of our eyes. Don’t submit to letting someone else make your decisions, or tell you that you can’t succeed without them or that someone knows what’s best for your child or what you can eat or not eat. Don’t even go there.
We are not the sins of our fathers, any more than Italians are all plundering Julius Caeser’s. We have lived and learned, and will keep on doing so. And right here and now is where we go from. Yes, there’s a co-mingling of deception, evasion and truth and it’s hard to take it all in, much less figure it out. And it’s all moving fast. This is the world of 10-minutes-ago being yesterday’s news. But yesterday’s news can have ramifications that last much, much longer. Pay attention!
Split or no split, division or no division, we’re still all in this together. And I believe that at the end of the day we all want basically the same freedom, liberty and justice for all. Please don’t fall asleep at the reality-show, America. Celebrate our birthday with joy and fireworks and commitment. If you think we should be like some other country, you can live there. If you live here and like it here, we may just have to fight to keep it strong.
p.s.: One thing that has kept me from falling into complete dread, came from watching the movie “Lincoln”. I was amazed at the contentious fighting, back-stabbing, hateful and divisive rhetoric between parties. Then again, we were in the middle of a civil war. And maybe those in positions of leadership have always been and will always be angry, aggressive and self-serving. Still, I’d rather pay attention than blindly follow. Maybe it’s just my genetic disposition (I am rather independently minded!) but I hope we’ll all keep our eyes and ears open.
July 2, 2014 § 4 Comments
Seeing as the Outrageous Happiness Experiment has just kicked off, thought I’d check in with a quick update.
As if on cue, life decided to throw some curve balls ~ or, because it’s not uncommon for life to do that, maybe I’m just aware of them in a slightly different way. That doesn’t make them any more fun, but now that I’m consciously armed with an unrelenting turn-lemons-into-lemonade approach, I’m thinking I might be handling them with less angst. And less angst = more happy.
And yet, when staring down a sidetrack that clearly did not feed my happiness quotient, I almost went off course. I felt somehow responsible, put myself down, and got a little stuck there. But I rallied. It was yet another lesson learned (gotta love those lessons…) In fact, just this morning, I felt my super powers kicking in. (You have them too. It’s where you’re strongest, and truest. You’re lifted up.)
Here’s the thing though, before they kicked in, I sat down and had a serious conversation with the Universe. And I made sure to not just talk, but listen.
You might talk to God, you might talk to Divine Intelligence, or to your Higher Self, your Spirit Guides, your Mother or Father, sister or brother, a trusted friend. Guidance is available in many forms, and none of us, no matter how wise or experienced or content, is outside the realm of needing some now and then. In the process it’s key that you listen; you have to hear not only what you’re saying and thinking, but what you’re hearing in reply. Then listen to your heart and find what’s true. (And then, don your cape.)
How’s your Outrageous Happiness going?
June 29, 2014 § 5 Comments
Everybody’s doing it. Consciously or not ~ we’re all trying to be happy.
Joy. Delight. Contentment. Love, peace and harmony. It’s a basic urge, in varying degrees of intensity depending on our genetic makeup, manifesting in different ways, but it’s there. Elusive. Sneaky. Not completely reliable.
So, this is a test. I’m calling it the “Outrageous Happiness Experiment”.
It started after a friend gave me a book. (Ah, the power of the written word in action, yet again!) It’s the true and rather amazing account of the extraordinary life of Tracy Evans*, a physician’s assistant who decides to follow God wherever He leads; Tracy calls it “radical faith”.
Towards the end of this adventurous read, feeling both uplifted and somewhat inadequate, I had an inspiration; something I could apply to my own life: why not radical happiness? Kind of like positive thinking on steroids. Because at the root of positive thought lies a certain amount of faith, and trust, and hope. And if you know anything about me by now (whether you know me personally, or have read my posts for a while), it’s that I’m a staunch optimist and a huge, huge, believer in the power of thought to shape both ourselves and our world.
Being a staunch optimist doesn’t necessarily mean wearing rose-colored glasses – I readily admit to the stray string of curses when a driver cuts someone off, or the random rage about the digitally over-stimulated age we live in. I also confess that after watching half an hour of the news, the cynic in me comes roaring to the surface, feeling helplessly disturbed by the nature of the human beast ~ or more to the point, the ones that make headlines. Just the mention of it, my blood can start to boil – with nowhere to flow to.
So I go back, as I always must do, to what I can do in my world, and what each of us can do for our little corners of the planet, period. If everyone paid attention to honoring positive values by living them, what a better place the world would be. (Reminiscent of my 52 Weeks of Peace message.) In the face of the madness of the world at large, throwing bucket loads of good stuff at it seems the only sane route ~ not to mention, a pretty potent force.
So that’s where I go. I bring out the pen, the paper, or play a tune on the piano to bring the boiling blood back to normal temps. Tend some flowers. Slow down. Do something nice for a stranger. Practice what I preach. Watch my thoughts. Bend my mind to the sun, open my heart to light and more light.
And yet, even with the best of intentions, challenges to our happiness quotient, our “positive thinking” efforts and our spiritual well-being, can pop up like militant weeds after a spring rain, threatening to overrun our mind’s well-tended garden. The usual culprits like setbacks with money and health can hit you right between the eyes without an ounce of compassion. Just making air-travel plans these days can launch an onset of anxiety. And yep, other people, even (or especially) those we love, can take our mood on a quick virtual trip to an emotional amusement park ride.
No one said life would be easy.
It’s also curious, this life business. Just when you think you’ve got more character than you thought possible, along comes more character-building opportunity! …. And so it goes, and keeps on going, and we keep living and learning and growing and changing until our proverbial time is up.
And since I figure I have a long time before my number is called, I want to live it well! I also figure a lot of that is up to me. It suppose it could be in the stars. It might already be planned out, pre-destined. Heck, it could be luck of the draw. But on the chance I have some say in all this, I might as well take the reins in whatever way I feel I can.
So who’s in? For a year, I’m gonna give it my best shot, and invite you to do the same. I’m going to give my positive thinking practice a hefty dose of adrenalin, each and every morning. Supplements throughout the day as needed. The key here is going overboard. Crazy optimism. Being outrageously positive.
An aside: Just this morning I was put to the test. You know, kinda like when your happy place plummets from a 9 to a 2 in under a minute. I thought, oh the hell with it. Who am I kidding with this “Outrageous Happiness” idea. Isn’t it enough just managing daily life sometimes? How will I sustain a radical level of positivity?
Then I thought, well this is just perfect, isn’t it? Any time is perfect. And at any time we might trip up. It’s (of course) what we do with that stumble. The point isn’t to walk around with a smile plastered to your face or pretend bad things don’t happen, or that as a human being, you don’t have ups and downs and a whole array of complex emotions at any given time. The point is to observe, and find a point of light to move forward from.
Personally, this has been a very weird year so far. Lots of transition, some dramatic shifting going on. The best way I can sum it up is to say that at some points I feel absolutely certain I’m supposed to toss up my hands and say, “Okay Universe, have at it. Whatever it is you have planned for me here, I’ll try to get out of the way so you can do your wonderful thing.”
Can’t say I know how it’ll play out, but approaching it with a ridiculously happy intention seems like a good idea. It’ll be interesting to look back a year from now, and see where the experiment has led ~ or if it’s really not in my hands at all.
The world is a mess. What better time to shake things up with some unexpected happy? If you want to try an “outrageous happiness” commitment in your life, too, I’d love to have you join me. Let’s get this party started! How amazing can we be?!
Stay tuned. Positive, possibly outrageous, updates to follow.
* The book about Tracy Evans is called Outrageous Courage: What God Can Do with Raw Obedience and Radical Faith. Not a sugar-coated do-good story, but a page-turning real life account of adventure and unabashed zeal. She is truly an exceptional being.
June 22, 2014 § 2 Comments
We woke to a flock of flamingos; their bright pink elegance gracing our lawn. The fact that they’re plastic did nothing to dampen our spirits. In fact, they’re quite tidy and don’t make much noise, so all in all, make for pretty good companions.
They came to mark a passage. It’s graduation season and the Saxton household is having its turn. Bitter and sweet, hopeful and reminiscent, a time when as a parent you just have to figure you did the best you could as your child prepares to leave childhood behind, to stray from the nest and walk a new path. The page turns, a new chapter starts, adventure awaits.
And so, like the flamingo, you hope their legs carry them well. That they’ll let their true colors shine, and brighten any landscape they cross. That they’ll know when to graze, know when to fly. That they mingle with right people in right places at right times. Make friends. Be safe. Be wise. Stand strong. And discover their own brave, shiny wings for their dreams to soar.
June 15, 2014 § Leave a comment
How to change a tire. How to balance a checkbook. How to pack a suitcase efficiently. That at one time a slide rule could solve almost any homework problem.
He taught me that weeds are best pulled close to the ground when the soil is damp and the moon is waning. Almost anything can be recycled and remade. Material things are overrated. Contribute something positive. Try to leave the world a better place for your having been there. Nothing is more meaningful than family and nothing more beautiful than the earth.
My father showed me practicality, patience and perseverance. He showed me modesty and humility. Loyalty. Honesty. Standing up for what you believe in.
He gave me his long legs and his sensible disposition. He gave me a weakness for potatoes, and all things fresh from the garden. He did not, however, give me his creative math genius, nor his pension for saving old nails ~ but I’m pretty sure if you looked in the dictionary for the meaning of the word “integrity”, you’d find his name. And for that alone I am eternally grateful.
Here’s to all the fathers who teach even half of this stuff. You are more important than you may know.