Archive for July, 2013

Making Our Dreams Come True

July 17, 2013

I’m continually seeking more practical and more usable assistance for all who love and are in the process of raising our children, and as I searched through several pieces last evening I found a statement by a man who many know as an Entertainment Genius to give me a helping hand – Walt Disney.  Yep, that Walt Disney, who gave us several theme parks in this world – parks which entertain many visitors the year around.  So, what would this genius suggest that children need as they grow into adulthood?  Read his words and then I’ll expand just a bit:

“Somehow I can’t believe that there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.” -Walt Disney

The four ‘C’s’!  Makes sense to me!  Probably as important as the three ‘R’s’ – and modern research suggests, maybe even more important!

     1) Curiosity: Children are born curious, and in some places – in some cases – we do our best to stamp that out of them and force them into situations where they become like everyone else.  When we attend t0 the acts of curiosity demonstrated by our children, they tend to duplicate those creative activities. Some of you will remember the little story about the five year old boy was asked to draw a tree, and he drew ‘his tree’ – all covered with reds and oranges and yellows and many other colors.  When the teacher saw ‘his tree’ she said that wasn’t a tree at all and recommended that he make a trunk of grey/brown and with all of the leaves green.  And, he did!  And, by the end of his first year in school, he had been turned into everyone else his age – ‘trunk grey/brown’ and leaves green – just like all the other kids! Boring!

     2) Courage: So, we need to give our children the ability to confront: a. fear, b. pain, c. danger, d. uncertainty, and/or e. intimidation.  Our words can serve as encouragement in this area, but in reality children need to have experiences of their own to test their ability to face hardship, death, and acting appropriately when faced with typical moral questions. To shield children from these learning experiences is to handicap them in many ways, and, of course, we never want to expose children to those experiences we deem beyond their ability to conquer.  Are they going to fall short from time to time? – absolutely.  We might want to follow the advice I received from a colleague at the University of Wyoming while studying there:  “I want my children to stub their toes without breaking their legs!”  The presence and availability of a helping hand here will be essential to the child’s  growing with courage.

     3) Constancy: Living things find comfort and safety in knowing what will happen when.  My pets need have confidence that they will be fed at a certain time and in a certain place.  They’ll need to know there is a constant bedtime and a time arise.  And, our children also thrive on knowing what to expect when certain things are coming toward them.  Constancy becomes security!

     4) Confidence: If you’ve walked along with me at all during these chats, you won’t be surprised to hear me say that this might be the most important of these four ‘C’s’!  The basis of self- esteem and so many other positive qualities lie squarely in the knowledge expressed in these words:  “I CAN DO IT!”  and “I CAN DO IT BY MYSELF!”  Letting kids try new things and then struggle toward mastery is essential in this area!  They’ll skin their knees, they’ll tip over again and again, they’ll fall and fall again, they’ll get tired before they become skilled.  And, they will learn to ride that two-wheel bicycle.  And, do you know that you’ll never need to force them to practice this?  You’ll eventually need to call them away from this activity and into the house to eat their meals.  And, no sooner will the food be gone, they will be once again gaining this skill and the confidence in knowing – “I can do it myself!” 

Learning to ride the two-wheeler can provide the template for learning many other things, and our children will have the confidence to face anything which comes their way!

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On Being Gentle!

July 13, 2013

On Being Gentle!    

I’ve always liked the word ‘Gentle’!  I suppose I learned to appreciate gentleness in modeling behaviors after my father.  This man seldom raised his voice, demonstrated strength beyond belief as he faced the blows life dealt him, and, even though he was very physically strong, he never raised his hand in anger at any of his six children even though there must have been times when he was tempted.  With four children already born, and another on the way, he was drafted into service to our country.  He never left the continental US, but was away for nearly two years during WWII.  Now he was home, he saw the birth of a sixth child, and just as it seemed he could just live without trauma in his life, within six hours on a summer evening, his wife died of a coronary thrombosis.  Struggling to keep his family together, Dad worked diligently on the construction jobs and at home, and fatigue contributed to his getting a respiratory disease. He was given the ‘miracle drug’, penicillin, only to discover that he was allergic and nearly lost his life.  And, through it all, he remained a ‘gentle’ person.

So, what does it mean to be a ‘gentle’ person?  This person would be kindly, amiable, not severe, rough, or violent, mild.  In today’s competitive world where the most aggressive and the most ambitious seem to have forsaken gentleness in favor of ‘win at all costs’. or ‘nice guys finish last’, or ‘I’ll get mine, now you try to get yours’, we are tempted to cloak ourselves in the armor necessary to survive and we build walls around ourselves to protect us from real or imagined dangers.  Sometimes if we listen carefully we almost hear the popular voices saying, “Gentleness is Weakness!”  We see the strong person cry or demonstrate sadness and we join the chorus of voices which indicate some weakness in those people.  And, even though many have learned in their religious lives the words – ‘. . blessed are the meek,’ or ‘. . blessed are the merciful’, or ‘ . . blessed are the peacemakers’, we seem to act in accordance with an entirely different values orientation.  We ask ourselves if we can afford to lend a helping hand to someone less fortunate and risk being thought to be a ‘softie’.  We ask ourselves if we can cry beside the parents who have just lost children in some horrific tragedy? Can we stand beside the aggressive, bullying, ambitious population with the confidence that our gentleness will prevail and will eventually serve us well?  Can we even find a way to be gentle to those who do not seem to be so?

Each of us in our own way has to decide the pathway which best suits our needs and we will  be known by those close to us by our behavior.  Han Suyin, a Chinese-born author best known for her 1952 book A Many Splendored Thing assures us that “There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness.”  And none of us needs to accept that as truth unless we can place gentleness in our own lives and live the life of a gentle person.  Many times in my lifetime, I’ve been reminded that the human being may be the only living thing that has the ability of ‘self-examination’.  We have the ability to have our eye at the eyepiece and our ‘selves’ on the examination slide – we can look at ourselves in special ways.  And, based on what we see in ourselves, we – every one of us – has the choice and the ability to make changes in what we observe.  

So, now, as you look at yourself, what do you see?  A person who is kindly, amiable, not severe, rough, or violent,  and mild?   Would others looking at you see you in that same way?  Would you like to be known as a ‘gentle’ person?  In making that very personal decision, you might remember an advertisement that appeared in almost every magazine circulated throughout the ’90’s – an advertisement for Nicholson Files.  The tag line in these ads was ‘Tough, But, Oh So Gentle’!  Over many years the files of the Nicholson File Company have been used in the workplaces of America and many hands have skillfully used these files to finish beautiful pieces made of wood as well as metal.  Just as these files that have lasted through the years and are regarded by many as the ‘Premier’ file available, you, too, can live on into tomorrow with a reputation of being ‘Tough, But, Oh So Gentle’.  

Ready to give that a try???

Are You Sure?

July 8, 2013

  In my reading today I found a quote by Bertrand Russell that ignited some thoughts and I hope you’ll take a look at this and share your response to it!

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certainof themselves and wiser people so full of doubts.”  -Bertrand Russell

    As a growing boy I enjoyed reading and found many thoughts that caused me to form views of the world and the people in it.  I can still recall being really enthused about some ‘new’ idea, sharing it with my wise father, and hearing him say something like:  ‘Hmm!  I’ll have to think about that!’  I can still almost recreate the feeling of impatience I had with his response.  I thought, “Well, for goodness sakes – this seems so obvious to me, why can’t he see that.’  Years later I realized that my view was filled with the certainty of inexperience and his was based on a world of experience  – experience which caused him to doubt – experience that I could not have had at these tender ages.

    Years later I heard a speaker say:  “The people discovered a recurring problem in the workplace and they sent leaders to talk to one of the newest workers who was young and just starting his life in the world of work and with this company.  The ‘solution’ he offered was filled with certainty and the statement that if ‘ . . they (the top administrators) would only do this and that the problem would be solved’.  Another group of people went to the CEO of the company, described the problem, and heard the CEO offer this statement, ‘I really don’t know what the answer is.’  And, many came away with the conclusion that the newbie knew more about running the business than the CEO.”

    The voice of wisdom suggests that the newest employee might not be aware of all of the possibilities presented by the inquisitors and the CEO couldn’t come to a concrete solution filled with certainty until he had considered many things beyond the knowledge of the innocent new employee.

    I’m wondering this morning if there are times in my life even today when I’m absolutely sure of a pathway toward solutions of problems and I later discover that I really didn’t have enough information to come to that certainty.