Who is Writing the Story of Your Life?

Today I thought we’d get some inspiration from the March-born writer John Irving.  

“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.”

“With every book, you go back to school. You become a student. You become an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes.”

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

“Half my life is an act of revision.”

“I sometimes think that what I do as a writer is make a kind of colouring book, where all the lines are there, and then you put in the colour.”

“The building of the architecture of a novel – the craft of it – is something I never tire of.”

“I write very quickly; I rewrite very slowly. It takes me nearly as long to rewrite a book as it does to get the first draft. I can write more quickly than I can read.”

As I was perusing these quotes and many other bites of insight from him, I was reminded about some important facts of life that we don’t always consider or want to consider.  Sometimes life is more about the distance, enduring and doing the work to see life through.  Life isn’t perfect and that’s something that not only keeps it interesting for us all, but also keeps us thinking, growing and discovering.  It’s really hard to get bored when every day is a new adventure or requires you to be more creative and patient after the events of the previous day.  If life really is like a coloring book, then you’ve got the opportunity to do whatever you want with the colors.  You can color your trees purple, bananas pink, dogs green and sun blue.  You can start your day when and where you want as long as you’ve got enough drive to make it happen.  What story will your life tell today?

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Stopping in the Journey

This month started off with World Book Day on the first Thursday of the month. Personally I’m a big reader and have great respect for authors. They’ve brought the ideas that are in their heads, taken the experiences they’ve had and put the things they’ve seen on paper, which is a lot harder to do than it sounds. As I sit here listening to snow fall off tree branches from the first significant snowfall I’ve seen in quite a few years a poem came to mind that I heard as a child. It’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. It’s a great story poem and shares some wisdom too.

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

I love a good story and really appreciate how Robert Frost has taken the time to set the stage and really makes us feel like we’re there, but without the cold! I really appreciate that the person has taken the time to really notice what’s going on around them. I know that horses travel much slower than we do in cars so it’s easier to really take things in that are going on around us, but even in our regular lives we’re power walking, thinking of where we’re heading, talking on the phone or doing something, and as good as we are at multitasking it’s just not easy to really take in this kind of detail without stopping and looking.

But the poem ends with a reminder to both the person telling the poem and the reader that there are miles to go yet. It’s a challenge and an encouragement that the journey isn’t over yet. So if the journey you’re on seems to be a little longer than you were thinking and you’re getting tired, don’t give up yet. Maybe it’s the perfect time to stop and take a moment and look at the world around you.

Earth Day Wisdom

Yesterday was Earth Day, I hope you spent some time in nature or made time to help nature.  Since Earth Day is really about all of us coming together to support the world we all share, I thought I’d share a few quotes about the earth with you today.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”  John Muir

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”  Gandhi

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachel Carson

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.”  Einstein

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”  Henry David Thoreau

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”  Walt Whitman

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”  Lady Bird Johnson

“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

“He that plants trees loves others beside himself.”  Thomas Fuller

“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

“Man is still the greatest miracle and the greatest problem on this earth.”  David Sarnoff

“Dear old world…You are very lovely, And I am glad to be alive in you.”  Lucy Maud Montgomery

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein

“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”  Karle Wilson Baker

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”  Khalil Gibran

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

Lessons of the Seasons

I don’t usually like to share things from people who are anonymous, because it takes away some of the meaning for me (can you even really call it a “quote” if you can’t quote someone about it?). I know that on particularly divisive topics people may not want to or be able to reveal their identities, but for the most part there’s no reason not to share your name and take credit for your wise words. But as we finish out this month’s look at seasons, I was touched by this quote:

“Better late than never, but never late is better.
You can’t change the past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about the future.
Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
Time is the cruelest teacher: she first gives the test, then teaches the lesson.
If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.
All good things must come to an end; but some bad things can continue forever.
Time wastes our bodies and our wits, but we waste time, so we are quits.
Don’t count every hour in the day, make every hour in the day count.
Time is like a handful of sand: the tighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through your fingers.”
Author Unknown

You don’t know what tomorrow will bring, you don’t know if you’ll make it to tomorrow, let alone next season or next summer. It’s up to each of us to choose to make the most out of each and every day. You can’t get back the days that have passed, you can only live in the days that are here and yet to come. What will you do with the summer that stretches before you?

Remembering Maya Angelou

Last week another brave and amazing woman finished her journey on earth.  I will share thoughts on her and some of the things she’s said in future blog posts, but today I felt that the most appropriate way to honor Maya would be to share some of her words with you (if you have a favorite Maya Angelou quote that isn’t shared here I invite you to share it in the comments too).

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.
Nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”

“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you?’ have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully.”

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

“While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.”

“What is a fear of living? It’s being preeminently afraid of dying. It is not doing what you came here to do, out of timidity and spinelessness. The antidote is to take full responsibility for yourself – for the time you take up and the space you occupy. If you don’t know what you’re here to do, then just do some good.”

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

“Love life. Engage in it. Give it all you’ve got. Love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over, what you put into it.”

The Guarantee of Right Now

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”  Oprah Winfrey

Life doesn’t make many guarantees for us anymore.  We could be hit by a crazy senior citizen driver, eat bad food or fly on an airplane.  There’s no way to guarantee life, and there never really has been.  We’ve never been given a guarantee of living here on earth.  We may have a guarantee of the next life from God, but there’s no guarantee on today or tomorrow, no matter how healthy we are or how hard we try to stay alive.

If you’ve read the book of Ecclesiastes you know the conclusion reached early on was that life is meaningless.  I beg to disagree: life is only meaningless if you don’t do anything with it and don’t live the life you’ve been given.  It may not be possible or smart to seize every moment and live each day to extremes, but most of us don’t do the most with our lives that we could.  Oprah also said:

“I don’t think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.”

Not everyone will be as successful as Oprah, but we certainly can be more successful than we are simply by being more responsible for our lives.  Being responsible includes taking big actions when called for, and knowing when taking a day off is the right thing to do.  If you aren’t responsible for yourself you will find out pretty quickly that no one else will be either.  I can’t make you be successful or happy if you don’t want to be and/or aren’t willing to put forward the effort.

What will you choose to do with today?

Bright Ideas from Benjamin Franklin

One of the great men of America, Benjamin Franklin, celebrates his birthday in January, January 17 to be precise.  As I was looking for some inspiration to share with you, I found too many good bits of wisdom to only choose one (for now anyway, I may share more on them individually in the future).  So here are some of the wise sayings of Ben Franklin:

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”