Archive | March 2013

A COURAGE TOUCHSTONE FOR ENCOURAGING YOUR DREAMS



Courage Art by Krista“You’re nuts.”
Has anyone ever told you that?

 

That’s what a bookbinder said when I described my vision for producing The Twelve Gifts of Birth book. After listening to how I wanted to bring my manuscript into the world with full-color illustrations, high-quality paper, a hard cover, and a die-cut that would offer a “peak-through” from one page to the next, he first said nothing. He just fanned through the pages of my primitive, hand-made “mock-up” and shook his head.

 

“You’re nuts, lady,” he then said. “There is no way you can do this. Your book will have to retail for at least, oh $40. Maybe $45. And no one is going to pay that much for this little gift book!”

 

The business owner went on to advise me to cut back on the features I wanted and to scale back my vision, way back.

 

“You might want to… not produce this book at all,” he said. “It’s pretty simple, not much text here. I hate to discourage you, but I think this project might be a waste of money.”  

 

I could hardly leave the premises fast enough. And yet I could barely walk, due to the way my knees were shaking.  My hands were shaking too. My whole body was trembling, in fact, with shock, hurt, fear, disappointment, confusion.

 

Just as I got into my car and pulled the door shut, the light sprinkling of rain I had driven through on the way to that meeting burst into a heavy downpour. While rivulets of water streamed down the front window and around my car, tears flowed down my cheeks. Not trusting myself to drive with poor visibility due to the conditions both outside and inside my car, I sat in the parking lot and waited for the storm to pass.

 

Am I nuts? I thought. I questioned the feasibility of my dream and my visions for it. And, as I did, the “weather” within me matched the weather outside, dark and dreary.

 

And then, out of the blue, an image of a humble, yellow building appeared in my mind. I recognized it as one of the laboratories where Thomas Edison had conducted experiments. The historic structure was not far from my childhood home in New Jersey.  During my teen years, I had driven by it many times. It always seemed to call for my attention. Often, when I passed it, I wondered about the actual day-to-day work that had been done there. What discoveries had been made? What failed attempts had happened there? What disappointments and frustrations had been experienced?

 

And, with the image of that little lab in mind, I wondered how many people had said “Your nuts!” to Thomas Edison in some shape or form.

 

I reminded myself that my meeting with the bookbinder was simply an exploratory step on my publishing journey. I did not yet know the exact steps I needed to take to make my dream a reality. However, I felt certain that small steps would eventually bring me to my goal, even if some of those steps seemed to be missteps. Clearly, having my books bound at that business was not going to be part of my publishing plan. That was actually a good thing to know. That was a gain I had made that day.

 

The best gain, however, was being filled again with courage, even more courage than I had previously felt. I resolved that day, even if I heard again and again that I was “nuts” or “unrealistic,” I would continue to take steps toward my dream. With renewed and deepened courage, I felt certain I would reach my goal, just as Thomas Edison eventually found the right filament to create the electric light bulb.

 

Fifteen years after my exploratory visit with that bookbinder, The Twelve Gifts of Birth and subsequent series is approaching one million books beautifully made, reasonably priced, and sold successfully. It turns out: there was a way. The idea was do-able.

 

How are you feeling about your dream? Have you ever gotten to the point where it looks impossible?

 

Consider what Thomas Edison said: “Nearly every person who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it seems impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”

 

He also said, “If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” And, “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”

 

Might Thomas Edison–his example and his words–be a courage touchstone for you too?

 

Blessings for all your dreams. May you be deeply en-couraged!

GOOD NEWS? BAD NEWS? SEEING WITH HOPE AND FAITH

"Things are always changing. Hold hope."

“It is hard to tell our bad luck from our good luck sometimes.”

                                                         – Merle Shain

 

Situations that first seem “bad” can turn out to be “good” in some way. By the same token, sometimes situations that seem positive may turn out to give us challenges. 

 

One of my touchstones for hope and faith is a Chinese story that offers wisdom about this:

 

           

            Long ago there was a farmer who lost his favorite horse. Besides helping the farmer with his work, the mare was like a friend. One day she wandered away. The old man searched but couldn’t find her. His neighbors went out to look too. When the horse could not be found, the neighbors tried to console the farmer. “We are sorry that this bad fortune happened to you,” they said.

 

            The farmer smiled and replied, “Thank you for helping me search for my horse and for your condolences, but we shall see. Bad fortune? Who knows? Things are always changing.”

 

            A few weeks later the horse returned. With her walked a strong stallion. 

 

            “Good fortune!” said the neighbors.

 

            “The farmer again said, “We shall see.”

 

            In time the mare gave birth to a foal.  “Good fortune!” said the neighbors.

 

            The farmer simply smiled.

 

            A few months later, the man’s son broke his leg while trying to ride the untamed young horse.

 

            “Oh, bad fortune!” said the neighbors.

 

            “We shall see,” said the farmer.

 

            The son’s leg soon began to heal. 

 

            “Good fortune,” said the neighbors. 

 

            The farmer smiled. 

 

            In time the son walked again but with a slight limp.

            “Oh, too bad.  Bad fortune,” said the neighbors.

 

            “We shall see,” said the farmer, smiling, of course. 

 

            A year later a terrible war began. Most young men were called to serve. Many never returned. Because the farmer’s son walked with a limp, he was considered unfit to be a soldier.  He stayed on the farm and survived to live a long life.    

 

May we trust what is unfolding.      

MINING WISELY FOR WEALTH, WELL-BEING, AND INNER STRENGTH

 

Sun for mining strength blogHave you ever wished that corporations and countries would somehow help bring about greater health, wealth, well-being, and harmony on this planet by using the earth’s resources more wisely? Do you ever wonder: When we will begin mining the power of waves, the wind, and the sun?

 

 

While we wait for that, we can each be mining the resources and the wealth within us. What wealth? The strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom, love, and faith that is in our core. When we draw these resources into our daily lives, we are enriched while we enrich the world around us. And to do this there is no cost of investment, no special equipment needed, no licensing required. 

 

We can all mine our inner resources using intention, willingness, and commitment. It’s time to realize the power of these resources…“realize” as in recognize and see them and “realize” as in make them real and manifested. 

 

Start with strength. Consider using the quotes and questions (from the book Touchstones: Stories for Living The Twelve Gifts) below as a way to tap in, increase the flow of your inner strength, and bring that strength into all that you do.

 

 “When you look back over your life and see how much you’ve had to face… it’s interesting to try and pinpoint the first time… you had to reach inside yourself and pull out strength you didn’t know you had.”   –Loretta Lynn 

 

               If I’m afraid, it doesn’t mean that I’m not brave.

               And if I doubt, it doesn’t mean that I’ve lost faith.

               And if I fall, if doesn’t mean I can’t go on.

               And if I cry, it doesn’t mean that I’m not strong. 

                –Jana Stanfield & Karen Taylor-Good, Doesn’t Mean That I’m Not Strong, from Brave Faith

 

For Reflection, Journaling, and Discussion

Do you consider yourself to be a “strong” person? Why?

How have you used strength? Start by recalling a particular time when you called upon strength. Was it to face a challenge? To complete a project? To follow a dream? To be present in a situation? Remember that strength takes many forms, such as will, resolve, determination, and perseverance; and it can be brought into all aspects of our lives.

What stirs a feeling of empowerment in you?

From what activities do you draw strength? Walking? Meditating? Dancing? Swimming? Talking with a friend? Playing rousing music? Prayer? What forms? There are many ways to pray.

Into what situations and areas of your life would you like more strength to flow?

 

 

THINKING OF YOU: CARING AS A FORM OF PRAYER

 

birthday flowers

“If, instead of a gem or even a flower,
we should cast a gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend,
that would be giving as the angels give.” – George Macdonald

 

 

Coming across this quote today stirred in me a memory of a study on prayer that I heard about many years ago.

 

 

In 1969 in Salem, Oregon, an organization known as Spindrift conducted a series of experiments involving seeds and prayer. First, two groups of rye seeds were planted in identical conditions. One group was prayed for and one was not. The prayed-for group grew better, with taller seedlings and more shoots. In further experiments, the researchers applied prayer to “seeds in crisis.” Salt was added to the watering can to stress the seeds as they tried to grow. The seeds that were watered with salt water and were prayed for grew higher then the healthy seeds that were not prayed for. They also grew taller than the prayed for seeds that received fresh water. The experiments were repeated with various types of seeds, and the results were consistent: Seedlings facing adversity and receiving prayer thrived.

 

Since I first heard about The Spindrift Study, I’ve often thought about how we are like those little seedlings with salt water poured upon them. In some form, we all have adversity rained upon us. We can grow greater Continue reading