Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Childhood Memories, Good or Bad?

I am temporarily living in the childhood home I grew up in because I'm caring for my mother who is ill. Every night when I go for a walk, I pass the park where we used to play ball when it was an old vacant lot. There is a beautiful new house on a site that used to have a deep dirt depression in it where my cousins and I would to ride our bikes--our own dirt bike trail with jumps.
I traverse the jagged old brick wall next door to my house where my cousins lived. We spent hours playing on that wall, seeing who could make the loudest sound with a leaf whistle.
Blowing a leaf whistle

Some of my childhood memories are pleasant, some are not. What I choose to remember is important. If I remember only the sad or hard times, I'm cheating myself of the positive energy that can surround me. I'm denying myself the love and goodness that is part of my life.

I am grateful for the tough times when I got my finger caught in a do-it-yourself cement mixer, skinned my knees on my roller skates, and knocked my permanent front teeth, trying out my new bike. I gained character from those events, and they will always be part of my life. 

Is it possible for me to live through the dark times, learn the lessons they present me, and move on to the light? The answer for me is yes.
Here's how:
1.         Remember the good in your life.
2.         Add the depth of character that comes from the hard times.  
3.          Look inside yourself for the wisdom you've gained from living.
4.         Take time for reflection.

Each day as I meditate in the early morning hours before my mind is cluttered with the day, I spend a few minutes remembering positive childhood memories like sitting on the bank of the river fishing, watching the river float lazily by, or hanging over the old tree swing, just thinking. Spending a little time with my memories gives that child that I was happiness and peace before I begin my day.
Fishing on the Teton River
Hanging over the old tree swing

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

'No' Only Means 'Next'

I just returned from a wonderful writing conference where bestselling author, Dian Thomas, and another well-published friend, Carolyn Campbell, conducted a workshop. Their motivational theme was, "'No' Only Means 'Next.'" Their premise was that if you receive a rejection for a manuscript, you don't spend time feeling discouraged or sorry for yourself, you just send it off to the next place.

I love this positive attitude and I think it applies to all of life. Sometimes our dreams and goals are not possible to fulfill, so rather than being discouraged, we just go on to the next dream or goal we have.
Sometimes the 'No' comes from outside us, like a rejected manuscript. But other times it comes from within us as we set our priorities.

A dear friend has a goal to finish a manuscript about historic Spain. But life has gotten in her way. Her husband has a pressing project that he needs her help with. She has chosen to work with him right now, putting a 'No' on her writing project for now. She told me, "Sometimes I just ache inside to write my story. My characters keep calling to me, and it's hard to put them off." 

I have a goal to give service to my church, but right now my mother is ill with cancer, and I have chosen to spend these last days with her. What a blessing this is in my life. My service goal is not forgotten, and some days I long to fill it, but my time right now belongs to my mother. 

As parents, we have all put a 'No' on some of our own goals to enjoy our children while they are young.

When you bump up against the 'No's in your life, don't let them discourage you. Look for the 'Next's. They will always appear and bless your life with the gifts you need right now.

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