You are what you read…hear…

A few years ago, I realized that I was starting my days in a less-than-positive mood. I couldn’t figure out why. I’d have slept well…it would be a beautiful morning…and I would feel “Blah” (or worse). I couldn’t figure out what the problem was.

I wake up to a clock radio, and was waking up to the news. Hmmm….

So I decided to try an experiment. The easiest thing to change in my morning start was what I was listening to. I changed from listening to the news to listening to a CD–classical music, movie themes, hymns…it varies. It worked. My morning mood made a 180-degree change.

I still get my news fix–but now it comes when I’ve had a chance to get the day off to a more positive start.

So I’m thinking it’s time to try another experiment.

If you’ve been following my blog for very long, you know that I’m a book addict…with eclectic tastes. If it looks interesting, I’ll at least pick it up and start it–and if it gets my hooked, I’ll finish it! I usually have several books going…on by the bathtub, one by my bed, one in the bathroom, one in the living room, and one on my tablet. Maybe more than that, but at least those.

I’ve noticed again that my mood has been on a bit of a downer. So I got to looking at the books I’ve been reading. Hmmm…. Wonder if there just might be any correlation?? They were good books…but they dealt with the dark side of life.

I’ve realized that when I read a book like Pure Joy by Danielle Steel (about life with dogs), my mood shifted dramatically. The same happens when I read books by Richard Rohr. Even when I read A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal (this month’s Book of the Month)–a memoir of his surviving Auschwitz as a 10-year-old–my mood was still good. Why? I began to realize they were books of hope. They don’t sugar-coat life, but they look at the positives in life.

So…

I think it’s time to make some changes. What I read…what I hear…they do impact what I think and how I feel. Lesson learned…!

Getting 10,000 steps…

Periodically I think I really need to focus on getting 10,000 steps a day. There have been numerous reports that say that is the ideal number for maintaining good health. I’ve worn a pedometer at different times to track how well I’m doing…and when I was working, it seemed easier to get closer to that magic number. I could take steps instead of elevators…I could go to people’s offices rather than just call or send an email…and I had  short walk to and from work every day.

Then I retired…and things changed. When I put my pedometer on, sometimes I was lucky to get 2,000 steps.

Then things changed again. I started babysitting our granddaughter. At first that was easy–it was mostly hold her, feed, change, and rock her. But no more!

Anara and RascalNow–at about 10 months–it’s still feed, rock, and change her. But it’s also chase her! She’s working on walking–can walk holding onto furniture or fingers…and sometimes takes a step or two by herself. But her crawling! Who knew that crawling could be so fast?!?! And steps…oh, they are SO attractive!

We sometimes go to the Community of Christ Temple for the Daily Prayer for Peace. She seems to love that experience…but it’s also changing. She’s still quiet–mostly–but she wants to explore. So we are finding time before and after to do some of that.

On the days that I have her, I don’t think I’m really having any trouble getting 10,000 steps! Maybe they should call grandparent babysitting something more like grandma’s exercise time!

Graduation

It’s graduation time in the US. Lots of young people ending one phase of life and beginning another. Lots of excitement…lots of nervousness…lots of wondering what lies ahead. There are lots of graduation speeches–full of advice. They’re not always listened to with as much attention perhaps as the speaker would like–it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the moment…and to wonder if the speaker really knows anything about our own desires, hopes, circumstances.

So I started wondering. My first college graduation was many years ago. I don’t remember who the speakers were or anything about what they said. But I also love science fiction–and so I thought: If I could go back in time to see my younger self at those graduation ceremonies, what message would I give myself? Here’s what I wish I had known then:

  • Don’t settle for “safe.” Listen to your heart and dream big.
  • Take one or two of those dreams that really resonate with you–and make them goals. Don’t just say “Someday I’m going to…”, but decide what it will take to make them come to pass–and set a timeline for each step.
  • Don’t be afraid of failing. Each failure brings knowledge. It doesn’t mean YOU are a failure; it just means that you’ve learned something that doesn’t work for you.
  • Be willing to listen to those you disagree with. That’s part of maturity, and you may also be surprised by what you learn from them.
  • Compromise is not a dirty word. Don’t compromise on your values, but do be willing to give and take in order for everyone to work together.
  • Trust in someone/something bigger than yourself–whatever name you give that Source.
  • Love yourself.
  • Take time to really look around your world, to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. When you see that beauty, you will also appreciate your responsibility to be a wise steward of that creation so that it will be there for your children and grandchildren.
  • Things aren’t important. People are.

So, graduates…whether you’re graduating from high school, college (for the first, second, or third time!), or whether you’re simply graduating from one stage of life into another…good luck! Enjoy life–and God bless.

 

Words have power

Do you remember the childhood rhyme that goes like this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? I do…but the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize that the rhyme has it backwards. Words can hurt…sometimes more than sticks and stones.

What we say has power–power to heal or power to inflict severe (and lasting) damage and to divide. We don’t have to look far to find out the truth of that.

We can look sometimes within our own families. How do we speak to our children? Do we tell them they’re valued? that they can become whatever they want? Or do we tell them they’re stupid? that they’re dumb? Those tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

I’ve been reading a couple of books recently on World War II and the Holocaust–and part of what helped make that possible was the use of words. They were used to separate people…the Jews became “the other”…”subhuman”…and once they were no longer seen as human beings, as people of worth, it became easier to identify them as enemies of the state, as “something” that needed to be destroyed for the good of the country.

It’s easy to look at that and think that in the United States, we would never be part of a situation like that. But let’s not kid ourselves. I grew up during Vietnam–and I remember hearing the Vietnamese described using racially negative words. Again, that made it easier to see them as “the other”–as of less value than we ourselves. And we are still struggling with the residue of another time in our history when we saw people who were different from us as “subhuman.” I can remember hearing racial slurs being considered an acceptable part of speech when referring to African-Americans…and seeing horrible pictures of lynchings…of dogs being turned on teenagers…of fire hoses being directed at peaceful protesters…of people standing with guns to keep out those who wanted a decent education.

We’re still doing it–dividing people into “us” and “them.” They’re different from us and we don’t understand them…nor do we seem to want to try to understand them. It doesn’t matter who the “them” is–it’s anyone who doesn’t look like us…who doesn’t act like us…whose sexual orientation is different from what is seen as “normal”…whose differs with us politically…who doesn’t speak the same language or practice the same religion we do…

“There exists, for everyone, a sentence – a series of words – that has the power to destroy you. Another sentence exists, another series of words, that could heal you. If you’re lucky you will get the second, but you can be certain of getting the first.”
― Philip K. Dick, VALIS

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could make sure everyone gets the second sentence? I wonder what our world would be like then…