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Beautiful

Stephanie Nielson is a blogger who had a tragic accident several years ago.  Her ability to see the good and parent optomistically even in her very difficult resultant experiences is amazing to me.  Today I looked at her blog and I thought that what she shared was meaningful and I wanted to share it here.  Every morning when her daughter wakes up she tells her to
“Remember that your heart is the most beautiful thing about you and 
if your heart is beautiful, then everything else in your life will follow.”
Though this is relevant to boys and girls alike, I think little girls especially need many messages as they grow that help them anchor to the beauty within.  This strikes me as a really good place to start.
If you’re interested in hearing more from Stephanie Nielson, visit her website at http://www.nieniedialogues.com/
Have a great day!
Cause it makes me happy...

Glad

book

My Grandma Celesta never was a big movie-watcher, but the movie Pollyanna somehow made the cut (along with 1 or 2 others) for her tiny movie collection.  I have a clear memory of watching it with Grandma and Grandpa in the upstairs of their farmhouse as a little girl (maybe I remember it clearly because watching a movie with Grandma was  rare!).  So when I came across the book Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter recently at the library, it was a no-brainer to bring it home and browse to see which of my avid readers would enjoy it the most.

As I paged through the book, I decided that it would be a perfect read-aloud book to enjoy with my 10-year-old son.  As much as I thought he’d enjoy it, I was just as anxious to see how the story compared with the movie since I had never read it.

Though I started reading it with my oldest, my second son joined us after only a few chapters and all three of us really enjoyed the read (and the movie night that followed!).

If you haven’t read it, go pick it up at your library and don’t finish reading this post until you have returned your library book (so you avoid a $17 library fine that I just paid…).  I don’t want to spoil it for you because it was such a delightful read.  If you have read it, or don’t plan on reading it, here’s what I loved the most about it.

Pollyanna’s sunny, optomistic attitude is a focal point in the book.  Her Dad, who passed away before the book began, taught her to play a game: in any given situation, find something to be glad about.  The more bleak the situation looks, the better the game gets.  Throughout the book, we watch Pollyanna find the bright side of many situations, and teach others “the game”.  At the end of the story, Pollyanna is partially paralysed (as a result of an accident) and it looks as if she will never walk again.  For the first time in the story, she cannot find a thing to be glad about.

Pollyanna has been living with an aunt (Aunt Polly), who has been cold an distant toward her.  Among other requests, Aunt Polly has clearly told Pollyanna that she doesn’t want her to talk about her father, and therefore made it impossible for Pollyanna to share with her aunt how to play the glad game (since it has everything to do with her father).

At the end of the book, the town-folk have heard about the accident causing the paralysis, and one by one come to the house to ask Aunt Polly to relay a message to Pollyanna.  Each one of them share the way that Pollyanna’s cheerful attitude has impacted them for good, and express their hope that if Aunt Polly shares how Pollyanna has helped them, perhaps that would make her glad.  Aunt Polly is amazed as she listens to one person after another talk about this little girl changing their very lives with her ability to find the good.

After the visitors have all left, Aunt Polly marvels at what she has just heard and slowly, thoughtfully makes her way upstairs where her niece is resting.  The next scene involves Aunt Polly sharing a tearful conversation with Pollyanna.  Finally Pollyanna is able to share with her aunt “the game”.  Aunt Polly who has been cold and unfeeling most of the time Pollyanna has been with her (though we have seen her changing gradually through the second half of the book), softens dramatically.  Aunt Polly starts to look for the good with Pollyanna, and as a result, Pollyanna finds something to be glad about: the injury caused Aunt Polly to open up and love her.  This was the thing Pollyanna had longed for above all else.

I was so touched by those last few chapters of the book.  Do you ever wonder if you can make a difference in the world since you are just one person?  Does your contribution matter?  Pollyanna proves that one person can make an enormous difference; and not in some huge, humanitarian-project, world-peace kind of way; just by being herself, just looking for the good around her, Pollyanna had a transformative effect on those who came into her circle of influence.

So…be YOU today- and find something to be glad about!

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Passion and Purpose

DSC00589If you’ve been on the music section of my website, you’ve seen these two words, passion and purpose, in a quote by a long-time family friend, Joey Reyes Owen: “Isn’t it a joy when your passion and your purpose collide?”  This week I found another quote that ties together these two words:

When the Lord wishes to direct his people,” hymn composer and choir director Evan Stephens reflected, “his favorite mode of procedure seems to be not so much to thunder his commands from the mountains of clouds.” Far more often, in Stephens’s experience, “some quiet, unknown man or woman is unconsciously attuned into a fit instrument for the work.” First, “an intense desire is in some simple, natural way created in the person to accomplish something.” When a person’s individual passions and efforts match the Lord’s purposes, “more and more grows the desire and the joy in the labors of pursuit; more and more dawns upon their vision the possibilities” until “through the fruits of the labors of these inspired persons a people are found to have attained, to a more or less perfect degree, that particular goal and purpose desired by the Lord.”

(Evan Stephens, “M.I.A. in Music,” Improvement Era, vol. 28, no. 8 (June 1925), 730)

When individual passions match the Lord’s purposes- that’s where the magic happens!

TTFN!

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What the world needs

“Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.  Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

~Quote by Howard Thurman, quoted in the book “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown

This has been on my quote wall for at least a year.  I think this month I just started living it.  And you know what?  It’s way more fun to live this way!

Tell Me a Story...

Daylilies

cropped-daylily.jpg

What do you think of daylilies?  If you were to rank your top 5 favorite flowers, would the daylily make the cut?  It didn’t used to be all that spectacular for me- but it has recently become my favorite flower.

Last week I had a conversation with a friend who was patiently hearing me out about my most recent crisis.  After rehearsing a vocal musical number with a group of wonderful ladies, my voice was almost completely gone.  I went to tell my three boys (who were in an adjoining room) that it was time to go and my voice sounded croaky and weak.  I went in excited and thought it was a great opportunity to work on technique and figure out how to get that illusive vibrato to “work” that I hadn’t yet mastered.  I went home sure that something was completely and beyond-repair wrong with my voice.  Did I not use my diaphragm correctly?  Was I forcing the vibrato?  More likely I just never was any good at singing in the first place.  You guessed it- I was in the middle of an anxiety spiral.

After a gush of tears and a good night’s rest, I was able to see it for what it was.  My friend listened patiently later that week as I told her my story.  She replied that she could relate, and then asked this question:  “What is it that you love about singing?”  Perhaps it was the simplicity that startled me.  Asking myself that question over the next week surfaced some unanticipated thoughts- deep-seated fears and beliefs that I hadn’t even known were there.  The strongest (obviously distorted) thought that surfaced had to do with the fact that my voice would never be worth sharing until I figured out the vibrato.

It became apparent to me that in order to get back to what I loved about singing, I had to let go of these distorted thoughts and accept what my voice sounds like right now;  not what it will sound like with vibrato, or what it should sound like with the right support.  And suddenly I knew that I had discovered something important.

As I processed these thoughts in a quiet moment, I unexpectedly came across a painting.  Across a rich forest green background of trees and foliage was painted a field of daylilies in brilliant orange.  It took me back to my childhood home- the farm house.  You see, when my Grandma- a master gardener- moved out of the farmhouse, she left her beautiful flowers in our care.  As a busy family of seven we found it difficult to find the time (and priority?) that she did to care for the flowers.  I remember one particular instance (there may have been several) where my dad joked, “The only flower we can keep alive is daylilies.  So….we’re going to do daylilies!”  And we did.  I’m hoping to dig out a photo of the daylilies that my parents planted all along our front deck at some future point to show you.  They were beautiful.

In the moment I saw the painting, the thought that came to my mind was clear: “So…do daylilies.”  Who cares if you can’t make roses grow right now.  Don’t throw away the dream of what you want in the future.  You’ll get there.  But for this moment, right now, whatever you CAN do, do that!  And do a lot of it.  Do it your best, and do it in the way that only you can.  So there you are.  Acceptance.  And do you know what?  I really LOVE singing again.

Woah!  Condense the message, add a melody, fill in the accompaniment, and this could be a song!  Hmmm…

Stay tuned…