LET IT BEGIN… WITH EACH OF US!

 

Ruth went to her mail box on Christmas Eve, and there was only one letter. She picked it up and looked at it before opening, but then she looked at the envelope again. There was no stamp, no postmark, only her name and address. She read the letter:
Dear Ruth:

I’m going to be in your neighborhood this Christmas and I’d like to stop by for a visit.

Love Always,
Jesus

Ruth’s hands were shaking as she placed the letter on the table. “Why would the Lord want to visit me? I’m nobody special. I don’t have anything to offer.” With that thought, Ruth remembered her empty kitchen cabinets.

“Oh my goodness, I really don’t have anything to offer. It’s already Christmas Eve and the stores will be closing. I’ll have to run down out and buy something for dinner right away.” She reached for her purse and counted out its contents. Five dollars and forty cents.

“Well, I can get some bread and cold cuts, at least.” She threw on her coat and hurried out the door. A loaf of French bread, a half-pound of sliced turkey, and a carton of milk…leaving Ruth with grand total of twelve cents to last her until next week. Nonetheless, she felt good as she headed home, her meager offerings of a Christmas dinner tucked under her arm.

“Hey lady, can you help us, lady?” Ruth had been so absorbed in her dinner plans, she hadn’t even noticed two figures huddled in the alleyway. A man and a woman, both of them dressed in little more than rags.

“Look lady, I ain’t got a job, ya know, and my wife and I have been living here on the street, and, well, now it’s getting cold and we’re getting kinda hungry and, well, it’s Christmas Eve, if you could help us, lady, we’d really appreciate it.”

Ruth looked at them both. They were dirty, they smelled bad and, frankly, she was certain that they could get some kind of work if they really wanted to.

“Sir, I’d like to help you, but I’m a poor woman myself. All I have is a few cold cuts and some bread, and I’m having an important guest for Christmas and I was planning on serving that to Him.”

“Yeah, well, okay lady, I understand. Thanks anyway”. The man put his arm around the woman’s shoulders, turned and headed back into the alley as a gentle snow began to fall. As she watched them leave, Ruth felt a familiar twinge in her heart.

“Sir, wait!” The couple stopped and turned as she ran down the alley after them. Look, why don’t you take this food. I’ll figure out something else to serve my guest.” She handed the man her grocery bag.

“Thank you lady. Thank you very much!” “Yes, thank you!”

Ruth could see now that the woman was shivering.

“You know, I’ve got another coat at home. Here, why don’t you take this one.” Ruth unbuttoned her jacket and slipped it over the woman’s shoulders. Then smiling, she turned and walked back to the street …. without her coat and with nothing to serve her guest.

“Thank you lady! Thank you very much! …. and Merry Christmas!”

Ruth was chilled by the time she reached her front door, and worried too. The Lord was coming to visit and she didn’t have anything to offer Him. She fumbled through her purse for the door key. But as she did, she noticed another envelope in her mailbox.

“That’s odd. The mailman doesn’t usually deliver on Christmas Eve.”

She took the envelope out of the box and opened it.

Dear Ruth:

It was so good to see you again. Thank you for the lovely Christmas dinner. And thank you, too, for the beautiful coat.

Love Always,
Jesus

The air was still cold, and the snow was falling even harder, but even without her coat, Ruth no longer noticed.    Let us all be Ruth this Holiday Season!

FORGET FLORENCE

Positive Thinking, Even When You Don’t Want To… WORKS!

When you become angry, your thoughts turn negative and as a result, your anger increases. Your negative thoughts keep that anger going.

So, try applying a little bit of positive thinking can help reduce or even eliminate that anger. Of course, this may not always be easy when you’re angry for a reason, but it is actually very simple. Positive thinking can really help you manage that anger and even get you into a much better mood.

Positive thinking can become habitual and turn into a way of life. I try to practice this even when things get overbearing.

It is very helpful in making you feel happier and better about yourself and your life. Many thoughts are naturally negative, but if you can retaliate against those negative thoughts with positive ones, it will greatly affect your overall wellness.

If you can start to change your thoughts now, it can also change how you think when you feel angry. Try thinking of positive aspects of your life, your body, your friends, your family, your job, and anything else you can think of. Consider everything and write down your positive thoughts.

If something happens and you feel angry, try reading over all that you have written down and and think on it.

Instead of negative thoughts or verbally snapping at another, you may be encouraged to write down your thoughts when you’re angry and keep a journal. Write it, forget it; say it, regret it!

After you’ve calmed down, it’s a good idea to read what you have written and then write down positive words to get your flow going back into a positive direction. Positive thinking can really help you if you believe that it will, but you have to try it! Then, track your results and as you see improvements you’ll start to believe in the power of positive thinking.

Stress is a major cause of anger. If you can learn to deal with your stress in a healthy way, you’ll be able to keep the anger away.

Try relaxing a little bit more and doing things that make you happy. If you love relaxing on the couch and watching a movie, make time to do that. If you love taking walks, then make that a priority. If you can learn to control your stress, do things you love, and be grateful for the good in your life, you will not feel as angry in those difficult times.

Learn how to be positive and apply positive thinking everyday: you’ll reap the rewards and enjoy life a lot more.
I am sure of it!

GUIDING the NEXT GENERATION(S): in the home, at school, on the job, and BEYOND!

I try to keep up with many of my former students’ lives.  Over the years, I have taught so many; I’d like to say I remember them all, but that would be a lie.  I do remember all of those with “promise” and all of those with “struggles” as they took most of my attention and heart during the time I had them in the classroom. It’s impossible for me  to say who touched me the most.  Was it the ones that had so much potential, and actually went on to accomplish great things after they left me, or the ones who had overcome great odds and just getting them to come to school and eventually graduate high school had been a feat in itself?   I honestly can’t say.

In today’s high-tech society it is easy to follow their progress… or lack of.  Often they contact me themselves, my own email address has been the same since AOL’s inception and my students have  many times told me… “It’s so you, Ms. Brown!”  For that reason alone, I will always keep it.

Lately, it has not been difficult to track them down on the Internet. Sometimes, it’s through one of the conventional Social Connectors: i.e.  Facebook, Twitter, or now they tell me to Instagram them, whatever.  I also Google them and see what’s going on with them good… or bad.

AND…every once in a while, I am sent a news article that delights me or causes me concern.  Technology makes us all connected… good and bad news.

It was one of the latter, that has been consuming most of my thinking the past few days.  I was forwarded  news  about one of the students that had held so much promise. He was gifted academically, a wonderful athlete, a leader in his class, and was ultimately accepted into one of the most prestigious universities in the Northeast.  He has now been out of college for quite a few years. The article read that He had just been sentenced to prison for the next decade of his life… on drug related charges.  It took my breath away.  How had this happened?

His proverbial fall from grace not only astounded me, but made me cry.  He was a student that had passed through my life and yet, I felt like I had failed him.  I can’t even imagine the raw emotions his family must be having. The feelings must run the full reign from anger, sadness, failure, and shame… then back to anger!  I know that’s what I felt anyway.

How dare he throw his life away like that!   Life is about CHOICE and with each and every positive choice we make we define who we are. What I couldn’t get my mind around was how selfish this young man had been.  He had thought of no one but himself with his destructive actions.  Hadn’t he seen that?  Where had he “learned” that he could do whatever he wanted to and not be accountable?

When we are given gifts and/or talents in our individual journeys, during this time on Earth, and we throw them away… we are being disrespectful not only to our Creator, but to all who love, nurture, and take care of us.  It is  hard for me to reflect on the number of young people who come from really difficult backgrounds and home lives and do go on to make the world a better place for those who will follow them.  There are many of those, but many “choose” to go the wrong way too.  This was not the first former student who had chosen a destructive path in their lives.

It is then that I wondered with guilt if Society, as a whole, has just been too easy on America’s youth and young adults in the past two decades!  I am the first to acknowledge that there are many wonderful young people, but have we lost something that used to be present years ago, by giving too much and asking too little of them.

When do they stop asking for: cars, trips, and parents to “bail them out”  when they get into legal and/or financial trouble.   It appears that WE  have created THE generation of “entitlement” in our country. There is an unspoken ME, among many of them, that is so troubling.  We love them so much that we honestly believe the way to make them love us back is to always: give, forgive, and ignore their negative choices.

Perhaps, we adults/parents, and nervous, law-suit concerned employers, are the selfish and needy ones.  It is difficult to have our  children not “love us” or even dislike us from time to time.  What I’m professing is that being  good parents, ( bosses, coaches and educators as well), requires a strong backbone.  Being strong parents is necessary and we must be consistent, even when the “children” get older.

There can be no copping out because it’s easier to say “Yes,” or “I’ll get you out of it,” or “Here’s the money for…,” saying”No!” is difficult, but often the only right thing to do.    However, with this said America’s youth in the end accountable for their own screw ups! There are always consequences for bad choices and always have been. They did not consult with us when they had unprotected sex, bought and used drugs/alcohol illegally, ran up credit cards, or dropped out of school.  We need to recognize that they can learn from their mistakes.  We did.

We can not cure the problem(s) of our country’s upcoming generations, but we sure can start fixing our own mistakes in how we love them and guide them in positive directions.

Right now, we can, and must, start by being stronger parents/adults and bosses/supervisors ourselves.   Give our children less and speak up about any negative choices in their lives when seen necessary.  Counsel, wisely and compassionately, employees when they are heading in the wrong direction at work and personally.  Being strong and caring for others is not a negative thing; caring for others is the right thing both for them and others.  Perhaps, it is the only thing to save Society as it is now.

WHAT IS EACH OF US THANKFUL FOR?

Keep a DIARY of Thanks

I found this exercise in a book on Zen living; it’s one of my favorites. Just take a notebook and start writing down the things you’re grateful for. Start with the obvious and work from there.  Easy, huh?  This exercise can be done in the morning, at night, or on the job. ( The Boss might even find you in an improved mood… good for everyone.)

Be grateful for having food, water and a roof above your head. Simple, right? If you woke up at 5 A.M. and couldn’t  go back to sleep, be grateful for getting to see the sunrise. If you’re facing a challenge, be grateful for the opportunity to learn from it.  I can’t help but learn something new all the time. Life is full of challenges and each one is a personal growth opportunity.

You don’t have to write every day, but make sure you open your journal several times a week. It can be very easy to indulge in self-pity, blame, and anger, but appreciating what you have will help you stay positive. There is nothing better than being positive and happy with what we each have been Blessed with.  We each have been given so much in Life; it’s different for each of us.

Things Get Better

When you’re struggling, grieving, or suffering from heartache… the pain can feel unbearable. Even in everyday life, the weight of a little things can be heavy indeed.  But always remember the Proverb: “This too shall pass.” Your negative feelings won’t last forever.  I have learned from experience that there really is a light at the end of every tunnel.  It might not happen today or tomorrow, but you’ll feel better eventually.

When you understand and accept the tumultuous nature of life, it’s a lot easier to stay calm and relaxed – even in the hardest of times.

Mental List of Awesomeness

Having healthy self-esteem keeps anxiety at bay, improves personal relationships, and encourages optimism. If you don’t appreciate yourself enough – or are feeling down – try making a mental list of “awesome” stuff you’ve done recently.  Today, I… “went for a walk instead of watching TV,”  “helped a friend,” “made an excellent presentation at work.” You get the idea!  Make a written list if you want and don’t be modest!

You’ll find that, as you go over your good/healthy actions (which also are A-W-E-S-O-M-E) and choices, you start to feel great about yourself.  It’s hard not to when you remind yourself how amazing you are!  Hey, if we’re not going to cheer ourselves on… then who?

What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

It’s easy to become worried over the little things: the human mind can blow things way, way out of proportion. I personally am guilty of that. To stop that from happening, always ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen?

Chances are, “The worst” isn’t that bad. You’ll still be fine if you don’t ace tomorrow’s presentation/ test. You may get into an argument with your significant other, but usually there’s a meeting of the minds and things actually improve in the relationship.

Sure, it would be better if things went according to plan, but sometimes they just don’t. When you’re no longer afraid of any outcome, you can focus on having fun and getting things done. Don’t wind yourself up for no reason!

Reach Out and Help Someone

We live in a culture that encourages self-centeredness. Even our buzzwords:  self-help, self-promotion, self-esteem  reflect our obsession.  But if you want to really feel great… then try giving to someone else!

Donate a few dollars to charity; it can change someone’s life. Pick up trash on your walk at home or on the beach; it’s respect for Nature and fellow Man… and everyone wins. Call a long spoken to friend or relative, if even for a few minutes; it will make his/her week. Buy food for a local Food Bank.

Simple, simple things mean so much.

It takes very little to help someone out. When you make a big difference with just a few minutes – or dollars – you’ll always remember how important and amazing you are. And with an attitude like that, it’s hard to be anything but positive!

CHANGING THINGS FOR THE BETTER… Try It!

Look around you and you’ll see three kinds of people.  There are those who hate their life and work, and complain bitterly, those who just tolerate their life and work and see it as their “lot in life,” and finally, those who love their life and work, and relish it. That’s because it’s their “life’s-work.”  The third category is a small subset of all professionals world-wide, but this group stands out because these are often the people who change the world for the better.  They never stop trying to improve the lives of others… no matter how small the change.

In my work as a writer, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with people who’ve made a true and measurable impact in the world.  Each and every time I have met and written about them, it has been an honor.  However, among this group of what I shall call “influencers” there are also many everyday people who have found a special niche in which they’ve contributed at the highest level.

It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch.  Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above their circumstances (and often their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.

I have become aware that there are often similar key behaviors that set them apart from others.

They dedicate themselves to what gives their own life meaning and purpose.

Many people  don’t believe in meaning and purpose as something to pursue in their own life.  While others believe in a life purpose, but won’t take the risk to identify or honor it. Those with positive influence feel otherwise.

They have found that there is a purpose to their life and that purpose usually involves some aspect of turning their “gifts” into a message or using what they’ve learned (often the hard way) as a means of being of service to others.

People with a sense of purpose are driven, focused, committed, and light up a room.  They are unable to be deterred or distracted from what they believe is the reason they’re on this planet at this particular time. This sense of meaning and purpose gives them inexhaustible drive and offers guideposts to follow along the path.

They commit to continually bettering themselves.

People who impact the world for the better know that they are not perfect. They understand how their knowledge isn’t “complete.”  There are always going to be gaps, biases, limitations, and prejudices.  But… they keep at it anyway; they are inexhaustible!

People who positively shape the world come from a “beginner’s mind” and a loving, compassionate heart — with an openness to see, learn, and experience new things on the way to being a better “servant” to others.

 They engage with people in open and honest ways.

Those with huge positive influence understand the power of relationships, connection, and engaging with the world openly. They’re not afraid to get “out there”  connecting with others, sharing their knowledge and talents, offering their authentic and often contrary viewpoints and opinions.  They know that positive, supportive, and authentic relationships are the necessary building blocks to anything and everything they want to achieve.

 They invest time and energy not in what is “wrong,” but rather in what “can be.”

The people I’ve  interviewed who’ve made a positive impact on Society, don’t settle for conformity. When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the issue, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions. They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted. They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live.

They spread what they know.

We’ve all met  “experts” who keep their knowledge secret, close to the vest. They’re afraid to let it out for fear someone will steal it or make money on their ideas. This is the opposite of the positive influencer’s mindset. Those who make a true positive difference can’t help but share and teach what they’ve learned. They don’t see their knowledge as just some commodity to sell… they see it as information that has to be shared with the world for its betterment.  They live the universal principle: “The more you give, the more you get.”

 They use their power and influence well.

Sadly, it’s a common occurrence in the world… and Politics of late... to witness power and influence being wielded as a weapon. It hurts and destroys. Positive influencers use their power well and wisely. Those who impact the world for the better are careful and wise with their words, actions, and behaviors. They operate with open heart and care deeply about their leadership, communication,  and the influence they have on others. They take it seriously, as a special honor and responsibility not to be flaunted or misused. They understand their special role, and accept it with grace, compassion, and care.

Here’s to all of us changing the world for the better.  No task is too small.

FACING TOUGH CHALLENGES: IN LIFE AND ON THE JOB!

Some CHALLENGES become difficult to overcome, especially when the odds are stacked against us. Going against all odds, is something we’re capable of doing.  However, to overcome challenges you need to have that never quit attitude in your own life and psyche. If you develop it… you’ll overcome quite a bit.  I am sure of it.

Motivate yourself. Say, YES I CAN.

The challenge should bring out the best of you in this situation.  Slow it down, think that process though… completely. Develop that confidence by saying there’s no way you’re going to fail at this. If you develop that mindset, you’ll get it done.

Stay calm and cool headed when you’re facing serious troubles and problems in personal life as well as on the job. You have to collect yourself and calm down. You can’t panic your way through it.  Take a deep breath, relax, and slow down. Think things through calmly.  Then, and only then, move forward.

Let failure fuel you in a positive way.  Most people will avoid any challenge because they’re scared of failing.  Running from a challenge(s) IS failing!   Everyone fails at times. It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts.  It’s how many times you get up in life that matters. You’ve heard that, right?  Believe it!  If you fail the first, second, or third time, don’t give up.  Pick yourself up and learn from why you’ve failed. Move on in a positive direction.

Simplify the problem or challenge you’re facing. Break it down into steps; then work your way to the top of it. You have to work from the bottom up. Work through each step of the process of overcoming this particular challenge. However, it all starts by breaking it  into steps. As you get through each step, you develop more confidence that you can get it done…  you will.

Maintain being positive and confident. Overcoming a challenge, you have to believe you can really do it. You have to find out all the ways you can overcome it and put it to full use and effort. People overcome all kinds of challenges everyday. I believe that challenges aren’t nearly as hard as presented… most the time.  It’s our own mental limitation(s) that’s the difficult part. When you get into the mind frame of doing it… mentally,  then you’ll actually be able to do it. Get strong!

Think the best, not the worst, possible outcome. What can really be the worst thing that happens if you don’t overcome this challenge? Do you lose something extremely valuable? Are you afraid you’ll be mocked?  Are you afraid of being labeled a failure? The most successful people have been labeled these things at one point or another.  How do you think they overcome challenges in their life?  They’ve been through the process of not doing it before.  BUT… instead of staying defeated, they used these parts of their own lives to become who (what) they are today.

Learn from watching sports… especially Pro Sports.  Sports are a great way to watch, learn, and understand how to overcome challenges. We, as viewers, get to see in these pressure situations… then watch as the team overcomes the challenges.  Sports for us, are a way to experience and witness that anything is possible. Yes, anything is possible!

We are given this opportunity each and every day to not only accept challenges in LIFE, but to rise and succeed as we deal with them.  LIVE BOLDLY!

FACING TOUGH CHALLENGES: IN LIFE AND ON THE JOB!

Some CHALLENGES become difficult to overcome, especially when the odds are stacked against us. Going against all odds, is something we’re capable of doing.  However, to overcome challenges you need to have that never quit attitude in your own life and psyche. If you develop it… you’ll overcome quite a bit.  I am sure of it.

Motivate yourself. Say, YES I CAN.

The challenge should bring out the best of you in this situation.  Slow it down, think that process though… completely. Develop that confidence by saying there’s no way you’re going to fail at this. If you develop that mindset, you’ll get it done.

Stay calm and cool headed when you’re facing serious troubles and problems in personal life as well as on the job. You have to collect yourself and calm down. You can’t panic your way through it.  Take a deep breath, relax, and slow down. Think things through calmly.  Then, and only then, move forward.

Let failure fuel you in a positive way.  Most people will avoid any challenge because they’re scared of failing.  Running from a challenge(s) IS failing!   Everyone fails at times. It’s not how many times you get knocked down that counts.  It’s how many times you get up in life that matters. You’ve heard that, right?  Believe it!  If you fail the first, second, or third time, don’t give up.  Pick yourself up and learn from why you’ve failed. Move on in a positive direction.

Simplify the problem or challenge you’re facing. Break it down into steps; then work your way to the top of it. You have to work from the bottom up. Work through each step of the process of overcoming this particular challenge. However, it all starts by breaking it  into steps. As you get through each step, you develop more confidence that you can get it done…  you will.

Maintain being positive and confident. Overcoming a challenge, you have to believe you can really do it. You have to find out all the ways you can overcome it and put it to full use and effort. People overcome all kinds of challenges everyday. I believe that challenges aren’t nearly as hard as presented… most the time.  It’s our own mental limitation(s) that’s the difficult part. When you get into the mind frame of doing it… mentally,  then you’ll actually be able to do it. Get strong!

Think the best, not the worst, possible outcome. What can really be the worst thing that happens if you don’t overcome this challenge? Do you lose something extremely valuable? Are you afraid you’ll be mocked?  Are you afraid of being labeled a failure? The most successful people have been labeled these things at one point or another.  How do you think they overcome challenges in their life?  They’ve been through the process of not doing it before.  BUT… instead of staying defeated, they used these parts of their own lives to become who (what) they are today.

Learn from watching sports… especially Pro Sports.  Sports are a great way to watch, learn, and understand how to overcome challenges. We, as viewers, get to see in these pressure situations… then watch as the team overcomes the challenges.  Sports for us, are a way to experience and witness that anything is possible. Yes, anything is possible!

We are given this opportunity each and every day to not only accept challenges in LIFE, but to rise and succeed as we deal with them.  LIVE BOLDLY!