Laugh. A Lot.

15 07 2017

“Keep laughing.  As long as you’re laughing you have hope.”

(Moe Howard)

Happy Saturday friends!

 

Suggested Resources:

The Three Stooges: The Ultimate Collection

Moe Howard and the 3 Stooges: The Pictorial Biography of the Wildest Trio in the History of American Entertainment (Moe Howard)

 

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A Little Light Reading

8 07 2017

“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

(Groucho Marx)

 

Happy Saturday friends!

 

Suggested Resources:

Groucho and Me (Groucho Marx)

“A Night at the Opera” (The Marx Brothers)

 

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Declare Your Independence!

4 07 2017

It is the 4th of July.  The sun is out, the weather balmy.  A holiday from work for many of us.  Naturally, our thoughts turn to independence.  Here in the United States, it is Independence Day, when we celebrate the founding of our nation.

The birth of our republic involved a declaration of colonial independence from England and King George III.  Taxation without representation was one of the catalysts.  There were others.  The history is well-known.  No need to recite here.

What does it mean to really be “independent”? (Here we are reminded of Hermie and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer striking out on their own.  “We’re IN-DE-PEND-ENT!”)

Independence might also be called “undependence” or “nondependence.”  The underlying theme is standing on one’s own, not relying on others for certain things, being personally responsible.  In many areas of our lives this is a good and healthy thing, a mark of maturity and emotional stability.  Personal responsibility is not enjoying good press but it’s still the soundest approach to life there is.

Here are some healthy declarations of independence.  You can add your own (please!):

  • I am responsible for my happiness in life or lack of it. I will not blame others if my life is not the one I’d hoped for and want.
  • I am responsible for my choices. After all, I made them.  People and situations may have influenced me, but in almost, if not all, situations where I needed to make a choice, I did not have a gun to my head.
  • I can improve my lot in life. Ultimately, I am not dependent on others.  If I don’t like my job, I can find another.
  • I don’t have to accept the biases of the broadcast and print media, of either the Left or the Right. I can—and must—do my own homework and think for myself.
  • I don’t need to be owned by the zeitgeist, with its irresponsibility and blame-shifting and constant need to be made much of. The story of Echo and Narcissus should be writ large again in our land.  Were that the case, there would, at the least, be way less selfies plastered all over the net.
  • I can handle losing the approval, even of those closest to me, if I’m being true to my values, conscience and identity. Rejection, while unpleasant, is survivable.

Questions:

  • Are you quick to take responsibility for your life—your choices, successes, failures? Or do you blame others (“you made me this way”)?
  • What areas of your life are passive—meaning you’re depending on someone else when you shouldn’t? Where have you been responsible and independent?  If you take charge of your failures, you have the right to take credit for your successes.

Suggested Resources:

The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (Jack Canfield)

Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor E. Frankl)

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Stephen R. Covey)

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Lessons From Rudolph (Our Beloved Red-Nosed Reindeer)

27 11 2013

rudolphtherednosedreindeer01Last night was sacred at our house.  At 8:00, time officially stood still.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer made his annual appearance.  Other things can wait while you enjoy this Christmas classic and others.  There’s always tomorrow….

We’re all kids at heart even if we’re fifty.  Or a hundred.  (My mother still calls every year to remind me when it’s going to be shown.)  The program’s graphic technology—claymation—will never stand up to today’s incredible CGI.  But it’s not supposed to.  Made in 1964 and untweaked, it retains its charm.  Back to a simpler time.

Here’s what Rudolph teaches us:

  • Unique gifts have a purpose.  Rudolph’s shiny nose makes for embarrassment for his career-minded father as well as the butt of jokes from his peers.  But in the end, Rudolph’s gift saves Christmas.
  • Bucks love does (boys love to show off for girls).  “Cuuuuutttttteeeee! She said I’m cute.!”  Our women bring out the best in us and, like Rudolph, help us to fly.
  • Bumbles bounce.  Yukon Cornelius tames the Abominable with the help of Hermie the erstwhile dentist.  Defanged, this bully is reformed and becomes a help to the North Pole community rather than a menace.  There is hope for bullies.  Just ask the Bumble.
  • You can’t run away from your problems.  Rudolph leaves home, fleeing his family, difficulty and his destiny.  After a long journey in far away places, he heads back home to embrace his life, rescuing his family in the process.  Problems are better faced than fled from.
  • There’s a place for us misfits and ragamuffins.  After Rudolph leaves home, he and his friends journey to the Island of Misfit Toys.  A sad place for toys that “don’t quite measure up.”  But when Rudolph saves Christmas by leading Santa’s team, his first stop is to pick up the misfits and find homes for them.  There’s a place for us with all our brokenness, foibles and idiosyncrasies.

Well, enough for now.  Did you watch it?!

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“Remember Who You Are….”

14 07 2013

Rafiki-Simba-(The_Lion_King)This world has always needed leaders.  Men and women aware of both the time and need into which they were born and live.  The grace to lead well is given to some more than others.  Today, in some ways like no other time that has preceded it, the world is looking for leaders.  Individuals who will show the way.  Who will stand up, even while feeling afraid, and give direction, security, competence and solace.

As I have grown older, I find that I am given strength and grace to lead.  I don’t, however,  have grace to cower, shrink away, idle away the hours and live for me.  My agenda.  My plans for a content life without taking those who know me into account.  “My World and Welcome to It” is a fine motto for a ‘60’s TV sitcom.  But it ill becomes a leader, who is supposed to embody–to one degree or another–selflessness.  Sacrifice.  It’s not about me.  Nor about you.

I’ve been struck over and over again by the children’s movie The Lion King.  One scene in particular.  Simba, heir to Mufasa and kingship of the Pride Lands, has run away from his home and sphere after the death of his father.  Afraid.  He takes up a worry-less, footloose-and-fancy-free existence.  Hakuna Matata.  No worries.

But the call of leadership niggles at him.  His father appears to him in a dream and says, “Simba, remember who you are!”  Simba is afraid.  His dad is dead.  His uncle Scar, who killed Mufasa and is now ruling the deteriorating Pride Lands, intimidates him.

With the help of Rafiki, the sage mandrill, Simba gets his mojo back.  He is a leader and has royal blood in him.  He cannot escape the role of destiny except at the peril of those counting on him.

So he returns to the Pride Lands.  There he overthrows the illegitimate ruler, corrupt Uncle Scar.  And assumes his rightful throne upon Pride Rock.

People are counting on you.  And you have what it takes to bring order, peace, direction and security to those who are watching you.  And looking to you.  Remember who you are….

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“Remember Who You Are….”

27 04 2012

This world has always needed leaders.  Men and women aware of both the time and need into which they were born and live.  The grace to lead well is given to some more than others.  Today, in some ways like no other time that has preceded it, the world is looking for leaders.  Individuals who will show the way.  Who will stand up, even while feeling afraid, and give direction, security, competence and solace.

As I have grown older, I find that I am given strength and grace to lead.  I don’t, however, have grace to cower, shrink away, idle away the hours and live for me.  My agenda.  My plans for a content life without taking those who know me into account.  “My World and Welcome to It” is a fine motto for a ‘60’s TV sitcom.  But it ill becomes a leader, who is supposed to embody–to one degree or another–selflessness.  Sacrifice.  It’s not about me.  Nor about you.

I’ve been struck over and over again by the children’s movie The Lion King.  One scene in particular.  Simba, heir to Mufasa and kingship of the Pride Lands, has run away from his home and sphere after the death of his father.  Afraid.  He takes up a worry-less, footloose-and-fancy-free existence.  Hakuna Matata.  No worries.

But the call of leadership niggles at him.  His father appears to him in a dream and says, “Simba, remember who you are!”  Simba is afraid.  His dad is dead.  His uncle Scar, who killed Mufasa and is now ruling the deteriorating Pride Lands, intimidates him.

With the help of Rafiki, the sage mandrill, Simba gets his mojo back.  He is a leader and has royal blood in him.  He cannot escape the role of destiny except at the peril of those counting on him.

So he returns to the Pride Lands.  There he overthrows the illegitimate ruler, corrupt Uncle Scar.  And assumes his rightful throne upon Pride Rock.

People are counting on you.  And you have what it takes to bring order, peace, direction and security to those who are watching you.  And looking to you.  Remember who you are….

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Lighten Up!

31 03 2012

The best advice I ever received came from an eighty-four year old spitfire named Helen Easterly.  We worked together in the summer of 1987 in northern Ontario near Hudson Bay.  We happened to be part of a team of missionaries bringing the Gospel to a remote region amongst the Cree people.

Grandma Easterly—as she became known to me after she “adopted” me—had terminal cancer at the time.  Yet, she had more energy than gals sixty years her junior as she worked amongst the Cree children.  She had lived an adventurous life ministering all over the world with lots of remarkable ministries.  She was vibrant, humorous and kinetic as she stared death in the face.

Some months later, I was about to get married.  Grandma Easterly sent Kath and I a very nice card with this advice:

“Don’t take yourselves too seriously.  Learn to laugh at yourselves.”

I’ve many besetting sins.  One of them is I tend to be way too serious.  (Kath doesn’t have this problem.) Those who know me well are no doubt chuckling, Wow Christian, you’re just now figuring that out?

Easy now.  Some of us are slow.

And thick.

So I thought I’d pass on a few tips to help my friends who trip over the same banana peel:

  • Listen to jazz.  Really.  Leonard Bernstein once said, “Jazz is real play.”  When I listen to jazz, I chill out. Always. Music affects the mood more than you can imagine.
  • Realize that you alone can’t fix the world.  You’re one in about seven billion inhabitants on this planet.  Do what you can where you can and then let it be.  If everybody just did a little in their own orbits, things would be a lot better in the world.
  • Exercise.  Free and legal high.  Endorphins.  You will feel better.  Trust me on this.
  • Watch films with Robin Williams in it.  For tougher cases, break out the Three Stooges.
  • Read Dilbert.  Just do it.
  • Smile.  It’s proven that deliberately smiling makes you feel better, not just those who look at your mug.

Now lighten up!

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