Archive | September 2012

A LESSON FROM WALT DISNEY: KEEP GOOD IDEAS ALIVE!

Dream Builders

During a reent visit to Disney World, I visited the “One Man’s Dream” exhibit and watched a film about the life of Walt Disney.

 

Despite many failures, Mr. Disney stayed faithful to his dreams and not only built an enormously successful business empire; he continues to bring joy into the world and to so many people, even after his death.

For me the main take-away message from that film was: Cherish imagination and inspiration. Nourish good ideas. Don’t let then die.

 

Coincidently, the day after that Disney World visit, I came across a feature about Disney World engineering feats on Modern Marvels on the History Channel.

 

Again the main take-away message for me was: Keep good ideas alive! The episode even referred to “Keep good ideas alive” being a kind of mantra at Disney.

 

When I heard that, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to work in an environment that fostered that philosophy!” And then I realized how each and every one of us can do that for ourselves. We can honor our good ideas, nourish them like little seedlings, and help them grow.

 

We can. And we must, I think.

 

It’s my belief that we are all meant to be “Imagineers,” whether or not we have any work affiliation with Disney. We all have the gift of imagination. We all get inspired with ideas. Not every thought is a good idea, of course. We do have to distinguish and discern.

 

But we all do get good ideas. The especially good ideas are the ones that can help make the world a better place, not necessarily in a big Disney-like way. Although, who knows where a seemingly-small good idea may lead? Consider how the Disney empire began with a drawing of one little mouse.

 

The best good ideas come through our hearts as well as our heads. What good ideas have been gifted to you? Is there something nudging at you now as you read this, asking for your attention?

 

Besides keeping alive the ideas that use our particular expression of talent, let’s keep alive good ideas for the world. For example, let’s keep alive the idea that every man, woman, and child on the planet can have their basic needs met. Imagine every person having shelter, food, water, clothing, an education and health care…basic well-being.

 

What a good idea! A GREAT idea! And it IS possible!

 

Let’s not let naysayers and “bad” news mongers lead us into thinking we are foolish to dream or that we are doomed.

 

Let’s keep good ideas alive! Let’s help make them grow. How? Begin by visualizing good ideas as real. Nourish them in your mind and heart. See good ideas for the world and your own personal good ideas coming into reality. And each time you see it, say “Thank you.”

 

 

NO MATTER WHAT WE FACE TODAY, WE CAN SEE BEAUTY

dead tree lying downIn 1943, at age 29, Etty Hillesum was sent with her family to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Like Anne Frank, Etty kept a diary. In it, she writes about the beauty she sees and the compassion she feels for humanity.

 

I like to hold in my mind an image of Etty as she describes herself “standing in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on earth, my eyes raised towards heaven, tears running down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude.”

 

Gratitude! This young woman is living in a death camp and expressing gratitude for the beauty she sees.

 

In my mind’s eye, I try to picture young Etty–malnourished, perhaps abused and bruised–and yet appreciating the goodness and beauty of life. In my imagination, I stand by her side, and I wonder: What might she be appreciating in the moment? Is it something in nature? Does she see a purple wildflower pushing its way through parched soil? Has she spotted a deer in the distance? Has she heard the lilting call of a bird to its mate? Might the formation of clouds in the sky above offer a lovely sight to behold? Or, might a happy memory be uplifting her?

 

Any or all of those things, at times, may have stirred gratitude and joy in Etty’s heart. However, I sense in her a capacity and a commitment to seeing beauty, and expressing beauty, no matter what. In fact, she also wrote, “I know what may lie in wait for us…And yet I find life beautiful and meaningful.”

 

Etty’s perspective leads me to think: “Surely, no matter what I face today, I too can find life beautiful.”

 

                (From TOUCHSTONES: STORIES FOR LIVING THE TWELVE GIFTS)

  

FAITH: MAY YOU BELIEVE

Have you ever received a touching letter that literally fell apart because you read it so many times?

 

I got such a letter from my daughter, Krista, back in 1987, when she was a junior in high school.

  

My husband, our two daughters, and I had caught the first plane out from western New York that would get us to New Jersey, where my mom had been hospitalized after experiencing a stroke.

  

When we arrived at the hospital, I asked about my mom’s prognosis. Her doctor shook his head and lowered his eyes, avoiding mine.

  

“What are you telling me, doctor?” I asked.

 

“It was massive,” he said. “You should prepare yourself.”

 

But my mom survived that night. And another. And another. And, it started to look like it might not yet be my mom’s time to die. Her chances for a meaningful recovery were minimal, however, according to the medical team.

 

Nevertheless, after a few more days, my husband and daughters planned to fly home and return to work and school, while I planned to stay with my mom and be at her side as much as the hospital permitted.

 

It was then, before my family left for Newark Airport, that Krista presented me with a letter, hand-written on a sheet of loose-leaf paper.

 

In among her encouraging words, she had woven three scriptural verses. I wish I still had that letter. But between my tear drops, the oil from my fingers, and the many openings and re-foldings, the paper on which the letter was written simply fell apart.

 

However, the thoughts, the love, and the faith poured into it–they became a permanent part of my mind, heart, and soul, as did those verses.

 

In fact, I have been reading them every day since then. When the paper began to tear, I copied the verses Krista had chosen to quote for me.

 

I’ve read them so many times–close to 10,000 now–and through so many times, including when I faced a form of cancer for which I was told, “There is no cure,” that these quotes, along with the memory of daughter’s letter, are among my most valued touchstones for building inner strength.

 

I share the verses here because I want to encourage others, as my daughter did for me, to remain mindful of faith, and all of life’s gifts, in the midst of all things, especially when circumstances seem dismal. (Over theyears, I modified the third quote, as led by my heart.)

 

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Heb 11:1

 

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” – Heb 10:35

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, with hope and joy and gratitude, present all your issues, dreams and desires to God.” – Phil 4:6

 

By the way, my mom pulled through. As time passed, her healing progressed. In less than two years, she recovered fully. In fact, in many ways she was more healthy and active than she had been before the stroke.

 

Faith: May you believe.

SPIRITUAL SPINACH

 

plate of raw spinach

During the time my mom faced cancer, there was a day when I felt so emotionally overwhelmed and energy depleted that, instead of helping my parents, as I had traveled to their home to do, I wanted to open the back door from their kitchen and run and run until I could run no more.

 

Instead of running, I stood still, closed my eyes, inhaled, and whispered, “Strength.” Literally, I called for it. And with grace, it came, immediately and with a force so full that it startled me.

 

If you were to ask me to describe what that was like, I would ask if you ever watched a Popeye cartoon. Similar to how that character was transformed after eating a can of spinach, ready to take on the world, I felt completely energized–physically, mentally, and emotionally. I was ready to take on everything that was my world at the time–which was to shop, cook, clean, and be lovingly present for my parents.

 

I often think back to the experience of that day.

 

I also think back to those Popeye cartoons. Although I probably wouldn’t have used these exact words back then, I used to wonder, “When is Popeye going to get it?! He needs to eat spinach all the time?! Every day so that he is always ready!”

 

Perhaps that was the lesson that children were supposed to get as we watched the cartoon series and saw that spinach needing-spinach eating scenario episode after episode: Popeye needed to eat spinach in order to be strong! Maybe we were supposed to want to eat spinach, or at least our vegetables, in order to be strong in our little bodies.

 

At this stage in my life, I realize that I need to nurture myself every day with “spiritual spinach.” I need to be strong on all levels.

 

Like it was for Popeye, it’s wise for us to always be “ready” to face whatever comes our way. Being nourished in this way strengthens our sense of self-worth too.

 

What might be spiritual spinach for you?

 

For me it’s inspirational quotes, affirmations, uplifting music, prayer, and meditation. It’s also being playful and pausing throughout the day to express gratitude.

 

Spiritual spinach can also be hiking, walking the dog, gardening, or bird watching.

 

What nuggets of inspiration might you consume to stay strong? Or what might you do each day to refill your inner strength tank and keep all the forms of strength flowing through you?

 

Consider identifying that for yourself and making a commitment to nourish yourself daily with “spiritual spinach” so that you are “ready” to take on “whatever”.