Resolution, Smezsolution…………….

Grace-for-all

Grace-for-all (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is a movement afoot that will change the face of New Year’s resolutions forever if it is taken seriously. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the same old, same old resolutions. The revolution of the resolution takes the stance that we find one word that defines what we want to achieve and use that as our resolution. I love this approach.

When I heard about this new way of looking at resolutions, the first word that popped into my mind was “grace”. I think that it covers everything I want to achieve, be, and defines how I want to be treated. The following quotes (from brainyquote.com) illustrate just how wide the scope is that grace embraces:

1. “Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. From that divine tear and from that human smile is derived the grace of present civilization.” ~ Victor Hugo

2. “Courage is grace under pressure.” ~Ernest Hemingway

3. “Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. “Grace has been defined as the outward expression of the inward harmony of the soul.~ William Hazlitt

5. “Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.” ~Walter Scott

6. “Grace is available for each of us every day – our spiritual daily bread – but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

7. “But – but the greatest way to witness is by walking that straight and narrow and also realizing that you’re going to mess up. That’s what grace is for. We’re going to fall, but we’ve got to get back up. And you’ve got to improve. And that’s what I’m all about.”  ~ Tim Tebow

And if that is not convincing enough of grace’s versatility—here are just some of the definitions of Grace in the Encarta Dictionary: generosity of spirit—a capacity to tolerate, accommodate or forgive people; a short prayer of thanks to God said before….a meal; pleasant and admirable quality or characteristic; elegance, beauty and smoothness of form or movement; dignified, polite, decent behaviour; in Christianity the infinite love, mercy, favour and goodwill shown to humankind by God.

And I will end with some wisdom from Anne Lamont: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace – only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.

What would your one word resolution be for 2014?

Published in: on January 2, 2014 at 12:06 pm  Comments (26)  
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Three Years Ago……

Walden Pond

Walden Pond (Photo credit: bluebirdsandteapots)

While cleaning up my office work area I found my 2010 daybook and in the front I had written some words that Ralph Waldo Emerson penned one day, when I like to think he was being pensive….looking at life, what makes it up, what makes it worthwhile, and what the real definition of Success is…..

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or redeemed social conditions; to know that even one life has breathed easer because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

If ever there were words to live by, it is these.

I must have been on an Emerson bend in 2010, because just above his words on success, I have written another quote from him: “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”  So simply put, now to put those thoughts into action……………

Apparently I was trying to encourage myself lo those three years ago, because I have taped to the front inside cover of my daybook my horoscope for the year—which still hopefully applies:

Taurus: There is nothing you cannot achieve if you stick to your principles and plans. An offer or suggestion made will help you determine what you really want to achieve. You’ll be surprised by the response you get from a proposal you make.

Whoever wrote those words for all those born between April 20 and May 20 was wise. They may not have gleaned this wisdom from the stars, but put a general theory to work: give them hope and some rope.

And lastly, at the top of the inside cover, I have quoted Theodore Roethke and I am sure at the time what he said hit a high note with me: “Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.” As I read that quote today, it is not clear to me what I may have been thinking in 2010, but in 2013 it means that the cryptic critic does not win the day—the person who opens themselves up to life finds the treasures and secrets it has to offer.

What was I thinking three years ago? I am not sure—but the words I wrote into my daybook then are just as valuable today—daresay in a different way.

What words do you live by (or, as in my case, try to live by?)

Would You Invite These Guys to Your Party?

Snifter

Snifter (Photo credit: fixedgear)

Professor Eric G.Wilson, author of the book “Against Happiness” theorizes that to foster a society of total happiness is to concoct a culture of fear; that mirth gives away our courage; that we relinquish our hearts for contentment; and our “blissed out culture”  ignores sadness and feelings.”

Methinks the prof is a little too tightly wound and would not be a great deal of fun at a party. In fact he would probably eschew partying for a little morose get together to talk politics and chew on his cigar.

I think the esteemed Ralph Waldo Emerson is a little more balanced in his assessment of finding bliss. He said,  “I compared notes with one of my friends who expects everything of the universe and is disappointed when anything is less than the best, and I found that I begin at the other extreme, expecting nothing, and am always full of thanks for moderate goods…”

So while Ralph might not be the life of the party, he would at least participate, and would brandish his brandy snifter with aplomb.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge said, “The thirsty man knows water more keenly than the sated one.” But once having known thirst, one has to admit that being sated is a much more blissful state.

Sam would be at the party too, but he would add a little scotch to his water, no rocks.

So, of these three, who would you invite to your party?

 

~ FOUR ~

New Beginning

New Beginning (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The countdown begins. This is the fourth day before a New Year, but like Emerson I do not believe that turning the calendar over to a  new year means everything will be fresh and new. We are given that chance every day.

We  like to have deadlines and celebrations and new beginnings. I understand that. But Tuesday, despite the fact that it will be January 1, 2013 will be just another day. But it will be just another day to make it “the best day of the year.”

I am ready for something new, something exciting, some new resolutions—but I am ready today. I do not have to wait for a few more days—I can make resolutions today if I want to; and break them tomorrow. I do not need a specific date to start a new exercise regimen, lose 5 pounds, or determine to cook healthier. I can do that today. On December 29th.

What do you think? Do we have to wait for the 1st and a New Year to begin anew? Or do you think Emerson is right—we should make today the “best day in the year”?

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm  Comments (56)  
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~ Tour of My House In Words ~

Cover of sheet music for "Home! Sweet Hom...

Cover of sheet music for “Home Sweet Home”. Words by H.R. Bishop & John Howard Payne, music by   H.R. Bishop, Chicago: McKinley Music Co.1914 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I have a sign that says “Dreams…do come true” casually propped up on a bookshelf in my office. On the bulletin board over my desk is a handwritten note that says ~ “Everything you want is just outside of your comfort zone.” It is attributed to Robert Allen–I do not know who Robert Allen is, but I like what he said.

Over the doorway of the staircase that leads to our second floor is a quilted homespun sign with this message: “A clean house is the sign of a life misspent.” Suffice to say that I have not misspent my life, at least in the clean house category.

Above the door leading from the kitchen to the dining room is another sign. It demands in bold letters ~ “Give Me the Coffee and No One Gets Hurt.”

Upstairs in the bathroom is yet another sign. It is one that my husband chose and says: “Changing the toilet paper does not cause brain damage”. He loves this sign. No one pays any attention to it though.

Tucked into my bookshelf in my bedroom is another note–printed this time in black ink. The words are those of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  I read it almost every night before I go to bed–it says:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day: you shall begin it well and serenely….”

So much for a tour of my house. Do you have any signs hanging in your home or handwritten notes tucked away?

fall

Cover to 1893 edition of Ramona by Helen Hunt ...

Cover to 1893 edition of Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a repeat of a post that appeared in this blog last September–the difference is, last September I had about ten followers and now I have 363–so I have edited it and am posting it again.

It is now or never. Actually, it is now, or wait another year. It is the last few days of September and if I am to use the poem, aptly called “September Poem” by Helen Hunt Jackson, I had better get to it. Hard to believe it is the end of September, with October banging on the door. This is my favourite time of year. Many consider fall the harbinger to winter,  but it is a time those of us not prone to look beyond our noses, enjoy.

Many of the things mentioned in Ms. Jackson’s poetic tribute to September are felt in October. So for your reading pleasure, and without much further ado, I present

“September Poem”

The golden rod is yellow; the corn is turning brown,

The trees in apple orchards–with fruit are bending down;

The gentian’s bluest fringes are curling in the sun;

In dusty pods the milkweed–its hidden silk has spun;

The sedges flaunt their harvest in every meadow nook,

And asters by the brookside make asters in the brook;

From dewy lanes at morning the grapes’ sweet odour rise;

At noon the roads all flutter with yellow butterflies—

By all these lovely tokens, September days are here,

With summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.

Admit it, does this poem, (if you are of a certain age) not take you back to the days of grammar school when we were forced to learn a certain number of lines of poetry in order to pass our language course? I remember sitting in at recess and noon hours when I was in grade four learning line upon line of poetry, to be recited to the teacher before being allowed to go outside.

I hated memorizing poetry—but things that rhymed were much easier to remember than prose poems. If I had been acquainted with Ms. Jackson, this would have been a poem I would have chosen to memorize—although for the life of me, I do not know what a gentian is, or what sedges are, but that can be remedied by a quick Google.

Okay I am back from Googling (and I must say a good time was had by all). Here is my report: Gentians are a pretty flower-like plant, and sedges are kind of a grass. I guess from the context of the poem, you get that idea, but I just wanted to make sure.

A little background:

Born in 1831 in Massachusetts, Helen Hunt Jackson lived until 1885 and was described as “the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly individual woman of her time”. If even one of those little descriptions were allotted to me, I would be happy. She also had some pretty noteworthy friends: Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Now wouldn’t that be a dinner party you would not mind attending?

September Rose

September Rose (Photo credit: Arlo Bates)

Published in: on September 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm  Comments (21)  
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Quote of the Day # 2

~Success~

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

Grave of Ralph Waldo Emerson at Sleepy Hollow ...

Grave of Ralph Waldo Emerson at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

English: Signature of U.S. author Ralph Waldo ...

English: Signature of U.S. author Ralph Waldo Emerson. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Published in: on July 26, 2012 at 2:06 pm  Comments (23)  
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Fall By Any Other Name

September

September (Photo credit: Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi)

This  just as easily describes October as September, at least in my neck of the woods:

 It is now or never. Actually, it is now, or wait for a year. It is the last week in September and if I am to use the poem, aptly called “September Poem” by Helen Hunt Jackson, I had better get to it. Hard to believe it is the end of September, with October banging on the door. This is my favourite time of year, though spoiled for many as the harbinger to winter, it is a time those of us not prone to look beyond our noses, enjoy.

 Many of the things mentioned in Ms. Jackson’s poetic tribute to September are felt in October. So for your reading pleasure, and without much further ado, I present “September Poem”:

The golden rod is yellow; the corn is turning brown
The trees in apple orchards–with fruit are bending down;
The gentian’s bluest fringes are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed–its hidden silk has spun;
The sedges flaunt their harvest in every meadow nook,
And asters by the brookside make asters in the brook;
From dewy lanes at morning the grapes’ sweet odour rise;
At noon the roads all flutter with yellow butterflies—
By all these lovely tokens, September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.

Helen Hunt Jackson

Helen Hunt Jackson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Admit it, does this poem, (if you are of a certain age) not take you back to the days of grammar school when we were forced to learn a certain number of lines of poetry in order to pass our language course. I remember sitting in at recess and noon hours when I was in grade four learning line upon line of poetry, to be recited to the teacher before being allowed to go outside. I hated memorizing poetry—but things that rhymed were much easier than prose poems. If I had been acquainted with Ms. Jackson, this would have been a poem I would have chosen to memorize—although for the life of me, I do not know what a gentian is, or what sedges are, but that can be remedied by a quick Google.

 Okay, I am back—gentians are a pretty flower-like plant, and sedges are a kind of grass (no, landscaping is obviously not my calling). I guess from the context of the poem, you get that idea, but I just wanted to make sure. I like the feeling the poem conjures, whether it is about September or not does not matter, it “feels” like a fall or “sweater weather” poem.

 Born in 1831 in Massachusetts, Helen Hunt Jackson lived until 1885 and was described as “the most brilliant, impetuous and thoroughly individual woman of her time”. If even one of those little descriptions were allotted to me, I would be happy.

 I did take a little licence with her poem, as it is really a five stanza, four line poem, but somehow I do not think this thoroughly individual woman would mind. Friends with Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, she had bigger fish to contend  with in her lifetime than this wretched but admiring columnist.

 We still have at least six weeks of “autumn cheer” ahead of us (keep your fingers crossed), and though late fall does not boast all the “lovely tokens” of September days, we can keep them vividly in mind during November’s greyness and December’s snow.

Published in: on October 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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I Learn Therefore I Am

“A genius! For thirty-seven years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” ~ Pablo Sarasate, Spanish composer and violinist

Picked up a book on the weekend called “Study Smarter, Not Harder” by Kevin Paul.  Now, I was not really looking for a book of this genre—but it sort of made itself known to me while I was looking through a stack of books in the reference section of the bookstore I was “visiting”. (I don’t just go to bookstores or the library, I visit them—I feel at home among books).  

My youngest son is entering second year at college, and he has asked me the same question on numerous occasions: “how do I study?” Now, of course you are thinking, the kid got to second year in college—he must know how to study. And he does, but he does not feel his methods are totally effective. He thinks that there must be a better way—a way where he learns, not painlessly (though true learning should not be painful), but in a better and more effectual way. (Yes, I have told him to turn off his music when he studies). This book kind of “popped out” at me (ever notice things have a habit of doing that—sometimes life just hands you what you need, even if you did not know you needed it) so I sat down and looked through it to see if it was worth buying.

As I was flipping through it, I came to a section called, “You Can Learn Anything”. Well, I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure there are a few doors shut (and locked) to me, such as quantum physics and brain surgery—but I was willing to give this chapter a chance. After all, if it didn’t convince me, would it convince my son? The author made a rather outrageous statement. Unequivocally he stated: “You are a genius”. According to Paul, “Acquiring a language and walking are two of the most complex activities in which humans engage.” (This is good news—I can talk and walk–sometimes at the same time!) He goes on to say that “it is not yet possible to get enough computing power to synthesize these basic human achievements. It takes a very sophisticated learning capability to achieve language and walking”. Research also shows that “even driving a car takes more brain power than piloting the lunar excursion modual that landed on the moon.”

Spanish composer and violinist of note, Pablo Sarasate made an astute observation in his statement that his genius took “practice”, which illustrates that untapped, genius is undiscovered. Paul believes that we need tap into our genius, and he provides some pretty good information about our three brains: the reptilian or most primitive part of our brain and home to our famous “fight or flight” response to danger—which is our safety and survival instinct, to the limbic brain, which is where our emotions live. Then there is the cortical brain—or our “thinking” brain, where we reason, set goals, make plans, develop language and “conceive abstractly”.
Paul is convinced that we all have “the same brain capacity and potential as Einstein or da Vinci” and geniuses can be “made.” I don’t know about you, but I find this all very comforting. And although I picked this book up for my son, I am going to give it a thorough read through (as opposed to my original thought of just perusing it superficially and handing it over with the simple instruction: Read It).
The author says that if spending countless hours in front of the television can lower your IQ, then it just follows that by heeding his advice, your IQ can be “coached into the positive.” He answers the question of “why should I bother” by saying that “being a successful learner is no longer a matter of choice or mere preference. It is a necessity in order to survive and thrive in the ‘information age’.” And he says “it is never too late to increase your intelligence”. That is good news for those of us no longer in school, but still involved in the process of never ending learning.

“Common sense is genius dressed up in working clothes.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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