It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

THE HOMETOWN BATTLEFIELD (Video & Song)

A Navy friend of mine sent me this song and video with the encouragement that it be passed on and shared. In just days it drew over a million hits.

Canadian J P Cormier has done an excellent tribute here to returning veterans that struggle with PTSD. There’s nothing else I can add to his message, other than ask you to please take a moment out of your busy day to experience it fully. –JDS

Advertisements

November 29, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Anxiety and Depression, Communication, Compassion, Counselors, courage, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, patriotism, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress, veterans | , , , | Leave a comment

Managing Anger (OURS)

In the years before I retired, I wrote scores of articles on topics related to my work as a psychologist. This morning, I was on the internet reading an article that caught my interest. I didn’t realize until I got near the end of it that I WROTE IT! It’s probably one of the shortest ones I’ve ever written, but some messages don’t take a lot of words.

…………………………………………………………

Too often, the difficulties that come between parents and their defiant children can be reduced quickly by the parents, although it’s not easy. One of these difficulties is anger, an emotion that throws up more road blocks to relationships than anything else.

Stopped by a Tree
I receive a lot of email from parents. Anger at their children is a common tone. I’ve also seen it in my office. Anger is extremely counterproductive to the process of healing and the re-establishment of a working relationship. Anger verifies and often “feeds” the defiant behavior of children and teens, making it worse.

I understand the anger; I can identify with it as a parent. But anger is like a huge tree that has fallen onto a railroad track. It’s going to stop trains in both directions. All progress comes to a halt until someone gets the tree off the track. Who’s going to move the tree? A parent can wait on a defiant youngster to move it. Good luck on that one.

Resolving Anger
Psychologist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len teaches about “limits” that exist between individuals and serve to choke out the relationship. (Limits, and how to manage them, is a central theme in my last book, The Changing Behavior Book.) Staying angry is one huge limit. Here are three components of resolving anger (and other limits as well) I complied after learning of Dr. Hew Len’s work:

1. True peace and change begin with me. Anger ultimately destroys the vessel that carries it. Although anger has short-term benefits, it produces devastating long-term pain and difficulty. No one should wait for others to ease their anger.

2. I cannot pass of in blame what is my responsibility to change. This takes a ton of courage and self-examination, but it’s so powerful.

3. I must clear away (clean) the limits that exist between me and others. In other words, it takes more than recognizing the limits are there and that I created many of them; I must take the active step to remove as many of them as I can.

Reference: Vitale, J., Hew Len, I., Zero limits. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2007.

October 31, 2018 Posted by | anger, Communication, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Bother? (Dr. James Sutton)

The great lyricist Oscar Hammerstein accepted the invitation of a friend to take a plane ride around New York Harbor in a small two-seater. The trip included a flight right over the Statue of Liberty. They flew so close, in fact, that the two clearly saw the top of Lady Liberty’s head.

What they saw amazed them. Every lock and every braid of hair on the top of her head was perfectly formed, detailed and polished. It was every bit as complete as the rest of her face, arms, body and gown.

Hammerstein and his friend came to the same conclusion in almost the same instant. The Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886, before there were airplanes. Who would ever see the top of her head, so why would anyone bother to finish that part of the sculpture rising over three hundred feet above sea level?

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the creature of the statue, could very easily have saved months of toil and much expense by cutting corners on the part of the statue that no one would ever see, anyway. He elected, however, to leave nothing unfinished.

In staying true to his task, he left us with two legacies: the Statue of Liberty and a model for taking pride in a job well-done.

(Source: “The Spellbinder’s Gift” by Og Mandino; New York: Ballantine Books, 1995)

Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the creature of the statue, could very easily have saved months of toil and much expense by cutting corners on the part of the statue that no one would ever see, anyway. He elected, however, to leave nothing unfinished.

In staying true to his task, he left us with two legacies: the Statue of Liberty and a model for taking pride in a job well-done.

(Source: “The Spellbinder’s Gift” by Og Mandino; New York: Ballantine Books, 1995)

October 13, 2018 Posted by | Communication, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Judging George was Wrong! (Dr. James Sutton)

JUDGING GEORGE WAS WRONG!

I recently finished reading the biography of George Stephenson; he perfected the steam locomotive and really started the railroad as an industry. The reason why we don’t hear much about him is because it took place first in England.

(Did you know the first trains didn’t run on tracks, but rather cast iron plates laid out on the ground. The heavy locomotives kept breaking the plates. Cast iron rails were a little better, but all that improved with the Bessemer process for making rails and bridges out of steel.)

One day a business associate of Stephenson accused him of not being a Christian. It was a challenge that drew Stephenson’s full ire, although some might say that his response seemed to verify the accusation. In any case, that particular confrontation got me to thinking.

As a kid growing up, I was taught two things that were as absolute as I could imagine at the time. One was that it was a terrible, terrible thing ever to tell a lie. Things like murder weren’t even on my radar, so in my young mind lying was the worst possible thing a person could do.

The other thing was that we never know completely what’s on the mind and heart and in the intent of others. Certainly, their behaviors give us a lot of clues; our whole legal system is built on what people DO, not what they THINK. (Otherwise, we’d ALL be in a heap of trouble!)

When it comes to judging and evaluating what others think, intend and believe … well, that’s God’s specialty. And, as far as I’m concerned, He’s the ONLY one that can do it accurately and righteously.

Just of few of my thoughts for the moment. I’ll send them to you on George’s train.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Law & Justice, Parents | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Few Thoughts on Courage and Patriotism (Dr. James Sutton)

Since John McCain passed away last Saturday, I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts of my respect for him, but really couldn’t put them into words. I’m still struggling with it, I suppose.

Especially as a Vietnam vet, I was always moved by what he and the other POWs went through during their captivity in Hanoi for all those years. But it took on new meaning to me when Bobbie and I became friends with retired Navy Captain Jerry Coffee. We met as members of the National Speakers Association.

Jerry was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for seven years and nine days. His book on that experience (“Beyond Survival,” published by Putnam), and what he learned from it, was a real eye-opener. Jerry has shared his story from the platform, but, more than that, his message always became personal to everyone in the audience. As he shared many, many times, “We all face adversity at some point; how we handle it matters.”

While in prison in North Vietnam, the POWs followed the chain of command. This was strongly against prison rules, so the senior officers had to be discrete while setting policy and issuing orders. Because of their seniority, these men were set aside for additional punishment.

One of them was Brigadier General Robbie Risner, the most senior POW at the Hanoi Hilton. He was a celebrated hero and top ace in Korea; he had been featured on the cover of Time magazine. That bought him a lot of pain and misery in prison, including ten months of solitary confinement in complete and total darkness. (He later said he held on to his sanity by exercising.)

The highest ranking naval officer was Vice Admiral James Stockdale. He and his wife, Sybil, wrote a book about their experiences at the time, “In Love and War.” It was made into a movie; James Woods played Stockdale.

Stockdale set a model for resistance. On one occasion, when told he would be interviewed by a film crew the next morning, he beat his face with a wooden stool until he was so disfigured he could not be used for that propaganda film. In defiance of the severe and sometimes fatal torture POWs were receiving, he inflicted a near-mortal wound on himself. He was revived by the enemy before he bled to death, but he had made his point. Things weren’t exactly easy for POWs after that, but the treatment of prisoners did improve. Stockdale ultimately was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Gerald Ford. Fitting.

I realize that, in all his years of service, McCain’s five and a half years in captivity were but a small part of what he stood for and accomplished. But I do believe experiences like those five and a half years can serve to help us discern who we are and guide us to a purpose that can live long after we are gone.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Communication, Compassion, courage, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, patriotism, Resilience, Self-esteem, veterans | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Message of Encouragement (Dr. James Sutton)

A friend from Austin, Texas, Jim Gentil, sent me this in his weekly message of encouragement. It touched my heart; perhaps it will touch yours, also.

To me, the message here is that, if we are caring, loving people, we should make it a point to be aware of what we have accomplished, be mindful of that work on ourselves still needing to be done, and grateful for the Guidance that has lifted us from where we once were.

This is shared as an old southern American slave’s prayer. The grammar might not be the best, but the message has never been clearer.

“Lawd, I ain’t what I ought to be, and I ain’t what I’m agoin’ to be. But I give thanks that I ain’t what I used to be.”

Amen.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , | Leave a comment

2%-The Winner’s Edge (Dr. James Sutton)

It’s post time at the track. The sun is shining warmly and a soft breeze wanders through the crowd. The air is charged with anticipation: a million-dollar purse is on the line.

The horses settle in the gate. The starter pauses, then …

“And they’re off!”

The jockeys work for position as the thoroughbreds take the first turn mid billows of dust. The pack thins as they approach the second turn.

In the final stretch it’s a two-horse race. Neck and neck they approach the wire. Man and mount strain for that final burst that creates a winner.

PHOTO FINISH

It’s a photo finish. The winning horse gets a million dollars. (Actually the owner of the horse gets the cash; I suppose the horse gets an extra ration of oats or something.) Second place takes home $100,000.

On this day, as evaluated by the assigned purses, the winner of the race is ten times more valuable than the second-place horse.

Question: Is the winner ten times smarter, stronger and faster than the $100,000 animal?

Of course not! Okay, then what really separated first place from second?

Inches. That’s all; just a few inches.

THE 2% DIFFERENCE

Do inches make a difference? Apparently they do in a horse race.

And in life as well. There are many times when success in life is very much like a horse race. The difference between a marginally successful individual and the one who hits it big is often that inch or two at the wire.

Translated into effort, the difference is only 2%. Research has indicated, over and over again, that just 2% more desire, enthusiasm and effort can bring ten times the results.

So what percentage of the population will ever realize the benefits of the 2% edge? You guessed it; about 2% (or less).

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

What about you? Can you crank it up just 2% more? You don’t have to win by five lengths, three lengths or even one length.

Just a nose is enough.###

July 28, 2018 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, confidence, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Trouble Tree (Dr. James Sutton)

The truth is, some folks manage their troubles and problems better than others. Here’s a short story about one person’s way of not spreading his troubles on his family. It makes a great point regarding how we could exercise a similar skill, if we really cared to do it. Thanks to Jim Gentil of Austin, Texas, for sharing this powerful little story with me many years ago.

………………………

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a very rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, then his electric saw quit. As if that wasn’t enough, his ancient pickup truck refused to start.

When I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree and touched the tips of the branches with both hands.

As he opened the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles as he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Later, he walked me to my car. When we passed the tree, my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen earlier.

“Oh, that’s my Trouble Tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing is for sure: troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then, in the morning, I pick them up again.

“Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there ain’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.” ###

July 13, 2018 Posted by | anger, Anxiety and Depression, Communication, Counselors, Difficult Child, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Success Strategies | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE FOUR FREEDOMS (Dr. James Sutton)

In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin Roosevelt shared a vision of four freedoms that should be for all people everywhere. They were Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. That address, thereafter referred to as The Four Freedoms Speech, was given on the sixth of January. Before the year was out, of course, we were at war.

A 47-year-old father of three in Arlington, Vermont, was so moved by President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech that he wanted to paint them. His name was Norman Rockwell.

He put together some sketches and approached the US Government about sponsoring the paintings as an encouragement to all Americans and to help the war effort. Unfortunately, he discovered that the Wheels of Progress in Washington, DC, often get bogged down in red tape … lots of red tape.

He waited and waited for a definitive word … he never got it. He then approached the publishers of The Saturday Evening Post. They thought it was a great plan, and things moved quickly from there.

The (1) first painting, Freedom of Speech, appeared on the Post’s cover on February 20th, 1943. A week later, (2) February 27th, Freedom of Worship appeared on the cover. (3) Freedom from Want appeared on March 6th, followed by (4) Freedom from Fear on March 13th, 1943.

The positive response to The Four Freedoms paintings was overwhelming, so much, in fact, that the government finally got excited about it. With the permissions of Rockwell and the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, publisher of the Post, posters were made of the Four Freedoms and the paintings went on tour to share them with the public and to raise much-needed funds for the war. $133 million dollars were raised. Adjusted to 2018 currency, that comes to just over one billion, nine hundred and forty million dollars. And it all began as a dab paint on a canvas.

Norman Rockwell passed away in 1978, but the paintings of The Four Freedoms have become a national treasure. They have been on tour a number of times, and, starting last month, June of 2018, and through October of 2020, they are on tour again in major cities across the country. The paintings will also be displayed in a WWII memorial museum in Normandy, France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It will be the first time they have ever left the United States.

Here’s an excerpt from President Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech (January 6, 1941):

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear — which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor– anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

July 3, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, courage, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Law & Justice, Parents, patriotism, Resilience, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A 20-Year Father’s Day Tribute (Dr. James Sutton)

For Father’s Day, 2009, I posted on YouTube a song I wrote and dedicated to my father, J. Fred Sutton. He passed away in October of 1998 after a long and difficult struggle with cancer. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years.

My sister, Janeane, and I were fortunate to have been born into a family of Christian values and practice. Our parents held strongly to the old values that family was to be cherished, valued and protected.

In my memory, the six years or so that we lived in Abilene (from age 6 to 12 for me) were special to me because we had no extended family there. Unless we took a trip to Oklahoma, where our parents were from, we celebrated seasons and holidays just among the four of us. That, I believe, made our bond even stronger.

This song is titled, “He Was a Good Man,” and he certainly was. In the introduction, I share about the experience of going over to house after he passed away and found that my stepmother (Dad remarried after Mom died in 1986) had his belongings laid out on his bed. It was a life chronicled in just a few square feet. The impact of that impression, of his life laid out on his bed, inspired into this song of love and gratitude from his children.

June 16, 2018 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, family, Parents, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Responsibility … and a Sardine Sandwich (Dr. James Sutton)

It was a hot, hard day at the construction site. When it was time for lunch, each man grabbed his lunchbox and headed for whatever shade he could find. One man, upon opening his lunchbox, found it contained a sardine sandwich.

“I don’t like sardine sandwiches,” he exclaimed.

On the next day, it was more of the same in his lunchbox: a sardine sandwich.

“I HATE sardine sandwiches,” he bellowed.

On the third day, he opened his lunchbox again to find … you guessed it, ANOTHER sardine sandwich.

“I really do DESPISE sardine sandwiches,” he shouted, as he threw his lunchbox to the ground.

“I can tell you are really upset about this,” said one of his fellow workers. “Why don’t you ask your wife if she would pack something else in your lunchbox, something you actually like?”

“Oh, I’m not married,” was the reply. “I pack my own lunch.”

The Root of Most Troubles

As ridiculous as this little story sounds, it aptly describes the problems and troubles of a lot of folks. Mental health professionals tell us that the majority of individuals coming to them for counseling or therapy are suffering emotional discomfort from circumstances they themselves have created. They then remain stuck in their misery and unhappiness, with their primary method of managing their difficulties consisting of blaming others and offering excuses.

Since blame and excuses have no real power to fix problems (but they can make problems a lot worse), these folks are unable to leave the emotional quagmire that grips them. Their self-talk isn’t good, as evidenced by statements like,“Well, if you grew up in the rotten home I grew up in, you wouldn’t amount to much, either” or, “I’m failing that class because the teacher doesn’t like me.”

In one form or another, I have heard both of these statements many times as a psychologist working with youngsters and adults that had given up. These are prophesies that fulfill themselves. These statements are also evidence of “lazy” thinking, as the people thinking and sharing them are resigned to the fact that the cards are so stacked against them that they are helpless to change anything.

(I don’t mean to suggest that the roadblocks we all encounter from time to time aren’t real; they certainly are that. It’s also true that some get a bad deal early in life. The big difference is a person’s resignation to fate versus a plan to attempt to deal with troubles, if even in a small way at first.)

Responsibility: The Solution

As much as youngsters complain about the obstacles in their way and share how powerless they are to manage them, just try to get them to admit to a sense of helplessness. I promise you, they don’t want to put it in those words, yet it is empowering when they honestly realize that such was their expression. Positive change can start right there; I’ve seen it many times.

A willingness to be honest with one’s own feelings is an all-important first step.

We all know about folks who have bad breaks as a child or teen, yet who have gone on to accomplish much in their lives. What is the difference; what accounts for such a disparity, given similar early experiences that caused others to fold?

The difference is simple, but it can be difficult to put into motion. It’s the willingness to take 100% responsibility for one’s actions, good or bad. It’s no fun at times, but it is empowering. And, like a muscle, assuming responsibility gets better and stronger with use.

Mary’s Big Breakthrough

I was once a consulting psychologist to a residential treatment facility. The public school was across the street, and many of the residents attended it. One girl in treatment there, I’ll call her Mary, was failing high school algebra. When I asked her why she was failing that class, she said (quite predictably), “That teacher hates me, that’s why.” (Sound familiar?)

She agreed to sit down with me and the teacher and address the problem. When the teacher showed her the zeros for homework that was never turned in, the girl’s face lit up. “Those assignments are in my locker!” she exclaimed. “I started them, and didn’t finish, but I think I have them all.” And she did; the teacher was able to give her partial credit, and they worked out a way for her to make up her work.

Although one instance of taking responsibility didn’t turn this girl’s life around at once, it was a great start. She definitely grew in her ability to manage difficulty and challenges.

Maybe even sardine sandwich.###

June 5, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Communication, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Shouldn’t Bug You … (Dr. James Sutton)

Have you ever been faced with a powerful challenge, or had to make a difficult decision, and, in the stress you experienced, you found it difficult to do much of anything? Well, in concert with the notion that our kids are watching our every move (even the not-so-good ones), here’s a very teachable object lesson involving something we all are quite familiar with: the housefly.

At first glance, the common housefly falls way short on talent and creativity. It can’t sing a song, dance a polka, or recite poetry.

But just try catching one. This little critter comes with an early warning system that all but assures it will see another day … another garbage can. Near 360 degree vision and unbelievable quickness make a sneak attack on a fly virtually impossible.

 

But a fly has one problem: It can respond to danger coming from only one direction at a time. To catch a fly, simply jam its radar. Come in on it with both hands from two sides. Folks that study this sort of thing say the fly will remain frozen in place because it can’t “compute” an escape. One more candidate for Fly Heaven.

I shared this little tidbit once with a group of elementary students. On my next visit to the school, I asked if any of them tried the fly thing. One bright-eyed fifth-grader shared that he told his father about it.

“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard of,” was the dad’s reply. About that time a fly landed on the television. The boy, using the new technique, captured the fly and handed it to his father, still wriggling.

Of course there’s a deeper meaning operating here: Human beings aren’t flies. They can take in information from a number of sources, consider their options, and determine how, when and where they will respond.

So, the next time you have a difficult decision to make, try not to let it bug you. Do your best and work it out; don’t freeze.

You’re not a fly.###

May 22, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Communication, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents | , , , | Leave a comment

A Child’s Humble Gift

The purity of a child’s heart can inspire adults to accomplish amazing, unimaginable things. Here’s a beautiful story, beautiful … and absolutely true. It was first published in the fall, 2002 issue of my newsletter, Reaching Out, although it’s been told many times.

In the early 1900s, a young girl stood crying outside a small church. She had been turned away because it was “too crowded.”

“I can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. He saw her shabby and unkempt appearance and guessed the reason. He gently took her by the hand, escorted her inside, and found a place for her in a class.

57 Cents
The child was so happy he found room for her. That night she went to bed thinking of children who had no place to worship.

Two years later, this same child, Hattie May Wiatt, lay dead in a local tenement building. The parents sent for the kind-hearted pastor, asking if he would handle the final arrangements.

As her little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found; it looked like it has been rummaged from a trash heap. Inside were 57 cents and a note scribbled in a child’s handwriting: “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School.”

She had been saving this offering for two years. As the pastor tearfully read the note, he realized what he must do.

A Dream Became Reality
The following Sunday morning, the pastor carried the little purse and the note with him to the pulpit. He told of her story of unselfish love and devotion. The pastor challenged the church deacons to get busy on finding a way to make the girl’s gift become a reality.

(To get things rolling, the pastor turned the 57 cents into 57 pennies and offered each of them for sale as a fundraiser. Not only did this first gesture raise about $250 for the project, 54 of the 57 pennies were returned to the pastor.)

A newspaper learned of this story and published it. A local realtor read it and made the little church a marvelous offer. He promised that, if they could raise the money to build the church, he would sell them a parcel of land to build it on … for 57 cents.

Church members dug deeply into their own pocketbooks, plus checks arrived in the mail from everywhere. They eventually raised $250,000, a huge sum of money in those days.

Ultimately, it was a child’s love that created a building for what is now Temple Baptist Church in Philadelphia. It seats 3,300 in the sanctuary, and the Sunday School building can handle all who wish to attend.

The inspiration of the girl’s gift and the influence of her remarkable pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, essentially accomplished the impossible. (Dr. Conwell went on to become the first president of Temple University, but that’s another story.)

Not a bad return on 57 cents.###

May 10, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Compassion, Educators, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bitter or Better: A Lesson Worth Teaching Our Children

Kids aren’t adults, of course, but they watch the adults in their lives. Sometimes they even watch them too closely. Our children (and grandchildren) tend to copy the attitudes and behaviors they see right in front of them. How we handle disappointment and conflict with others does matter. We can become bitter or we can become better, and the outcomes easily can reach across generations.
Here’s a story I first became aware of a number of years ago. It makes a beautiful point of how frustration often can be channeled into something very positive. (I shared this story once in a keynote address and was pleased when it was verified by an attendee that had graduated from Berry College.)

………………………………………………..

Today, Berry College, Mount Berry, Georgia, rests on 26,500 acres of small-town environment not far from Atlanta. It has grown since its humble beginnings in 1902, the fruition of a dream of its founder, educator Martha Berry.

Berry School was built to serve needy youngsters, and Martha Berry was said to have the “touch” for turning nothing into something. She knew her cause was a good one, so she was never shy when it came to advocating for poor, but promising, young people.

Henry’s Dime
When presented with an opportunity to meet Henry Ford at an important function, Martha Berry did not hesitate to ask him for $1 million for her school’s endowment. (Hey, if you’re going to ask … ASK!)

History has it that Mr. Ford reached into his pocket and presented her with a dime.

A dime? Yes; one of the richest men in the country donated a dime to Martha Berry’s school.

At this point, put yourself in her shoes. What would you have thought or said to what seemed such an insult? What would you have done? (At very least, I would have shuffled him to the bottom of my Christmas card list.)

The 10-cent Challenge
Martha Berry did a marvelous thing. Without changing her expression, she thanked Ford as graciously for the dime as she would have had he given her the million bucks. Then she went home and went to work.

She took the dime and bought ten cents’ worth of peanut seed and set her mountain schoolboys to planting. They took that crop as seed to plant more peanuts, and then they took the peanuts from the second crop and sold them at a small crossroads store. The peanuts brought in enough income to purchase a piano for the school’s music department.

Mission Accomplished
Martha Berry wrote to Henry Ford explaining how she had turned his dime into a piano. He must have been impressed, for he sent Berry a train ticket and an invitation to be their house guest at Henry and Clara Ford’s home in Detroit. He not only opened his home to Martha Berry, he opened his checkbook.

Martha Berry went back to Georgia with Henry Ford’s check for $1 million. ###

April 25, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, confidence, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Parents, Resilience, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“If Your Kids are Okay …” (Dr. James Sutton)

This week my mind was brought to focus on my appreciation of first-responders and the awesome job they often do with our children and grandchildren. It’s a pretty helpless feeling to place your offspring in the hands of a stranger, but that’s what we do when it’s someone trained help them, even save their lives.

Those instances are rare (fortunately), but when we can’t do it ourselves, our gratitude for the training and skill of firefighters, law enforcement folks and, of course, medical specialists, can’t be expressed in words alone. This is precisely where I found myself, as a grandfather, earlier this week.s

TWINS!
Twins, a boy and a girl (our fifth and sixth grandchild) were born in the wee hours of Sunday morning, April 8th, 2018. They were born almost 15 weeks premature, so are being watched constantly in neonatal care at the hospital. They are in the excellent hands of nurses, doctors … and God.

Each baby is in a separate room, as each room is filled up with monitors, ventilators, feeding systems, special lamps, etc. It’s a pretty intimidating and scary set-up at first glance, but it is reassuring to know that this equipment in the hands of skilled specialists has worked many, many miracles. We are SO GRATEFUL.

(That’s our grandson’s room in the photo.)

It was encouraging to see our grand-babies kicking, stretching and squirming, especially considering they had gotten off to a rather difficult start in the world (not to mention the stress it put on Mom and Dad at the time). As I write this, it’s about 62 hours since they arrived, and they are progressing as they should, thanks to skilled care and heartfelt prayer.

“IF YOUR KIDS ARE OKAY …”
It all reminds me of something my father-in-law once said to me: “If your kids are okay, YOU’RE okay!” AMEN to that.

And it never matters how young or old your kids are … “If your kids are okay, YOU’RE Okay.”

April 10, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Anxiety and Depression, Communication, Compassion, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Stress | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“How Long?” (John Wooden)

There’s no question that the late John Wooden remains a legend in college men’s basketball. From 1964 to 1975, he coached the UCLA Bruins to 10 National Championships, seven of them consecutive. But many folks agree (and I’m one of them) that Coach Wooden was even more a legend as a human being, which may be one reason why he was graced to live just a few months short of age 100 years.
Coach always shared it was his aim to teach what his father had taught him: “Be true to yourself; help others; make each day your masterpiece; make friendships a fine art; drink deeply from good books (especially the Bible); build a shelter against a rainy day; give thanks for your blessings; and pray for guidance every day.”
I had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Coach Wooden on a book project in the late 90s. It was a collection of stories about grandparents. (Grand-Stories was compiled and edited by Ernie Wendell of Durham, North Carolina; I was the publisher). Coach Wooden was one of the first to send in a story; he submitted it in his own handwriting. —JDS

………………………………..

When I took my great-granddaughter, Lori Nicholson, shopping on her 11th birthday, the following conversation ensued as we reached the Northridge Mall:

“PaPa, I know it is hard for you to walk, and it’s not fun to watch me shop, so please sit here on this bench and wait for me.”

“That will be fine, honey.”

“Good. Now don’t worry about me. I can run, and I can yell, and I won’t talk to strangers.”

“Fine, honey. I’ll wait for you right here. Don’t rush; I will enjoy watching the people.”

She returned after a while with some packages and said, “There are some other stores at the other end, and there are benches there where you can rest and wait.”

We moved slowly down the mall until we reached the area where she wished to go. Then she said, “Sit here, PaPa. I won’t be gone very long. Don’t worry about me. I can run, and I can yell, and I won’t talk to strangers. However, PaPa, I do need some more money.

Some time after we had left the mall and were driving home, she said, “PaPa, how long are you going to live?”

“That’s an odd question, honey,” I replied. “I can’t really answer that. People are living longer today, and I’ve already outlived my parents by over 20 years. Why would you ask?”
“I hope you live a long, long time, PaPa, but at least for 5 more years.”

“Why 5 years, Lori?” I questioned.

“Because I’m 11 today, and in 5 years I’ll be 16. I want you to take me to get my driver’s permit!” ###

 

Permission was granted by Friendly Oaks Publications to post this story and the illustration. The artist is Tim Wiegenstein.

March 30, 2018 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, patriotism, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Your Sports Team’s Loss is Bad for You (Mike Ferry)

Well, just in time for March Madness, here’s an excellent piece by Mike Ferry explaining how, when our team wins or loses, our overall mood tags along. Why does this matter to one’s overall health (and ultimately the family’s health as well)? Read on. –JDS

This might be considered a character flaw, but I’ll admit it.  My mood depends mightily on the successes (or failures) of the University of North Carolina’s sports teams.  During the fall, I’m elated when the Tar Heel football team wins on Saturdays.  In the winter, I’m crushed when Carolina’s basketball team drops a game that ought to have been a victory (especially when the Heels lose to the despised Duke Blue Devils).  Finally, as temperatures rise and college baseball season progresses, my hopes of another trip to Omaha’s College World Series are aroused.  Perhaps I shouldn’t allow 19-year-olds to determine my emotional well-being, but that’s not likely to change any time soon.

When Carolina wins, I feel happier and more energetic.  On the other hand, after a Tar Heel loss I tend to be grumpy and lethargic.  Fortunately for me, UNC’s sports teams tend to prevail more often than not.  When the Tar Heels let me down, however, it can be difficult to function as effectively as normal.
Perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation.  When your baseball team sweeps a series, you’re on cloud nine.  On the other hand, you’ve lost the will to live after your football team surrenders a huge lead and blows a game the whole world thought it had won (sorry, Atlanta Falcons fans).

What Studies Have Found

Recent psychological studies have focused on the impacts that a team’s successes and failures can have on fans.  Their findings have intriguing implications for homes, schools, workplaces, and public health.  One team of researchers explored how soccer games in Greece might affect worker productivity.  The researchers hypothesized that fans’ heightened emotions on game day would carry over to the workplace.  If a team played well, workers would feel enthusiastic and vibrant.  Following a poor showing, however, employees would be withdrawn and morose.  The results of this particular study were in line with these hypotheses.  Fans who were satisfied with their team’s performance in a game showed little change with regards to mood, work engagement, and productivity.  Those who were upset with the way their team played, however, had more negative moods and lower levels of engagement and productivity.

Another study found that sports team losses can actually be harmful to your health.  Researchers investigated the relationship between NFL game results and food consumption in over two dozen American cities.  They predicted that fans of losing teams would experience “self-regulation failures” that drove them to consume unhealthy food.  Supporters of winning teams, in contrast, would make healthier eating decisions.  Again, the results of the study mirrored its hypotheses.  Results showed that people in cities whose football team lost on Sunday ate 16 percent more saturated fat the next day.  Conversely, residents of cities whose NFL teams won ate about nine percent less saturated fat than normal.

Getting Back on Track

These studies illustrate some surprising impacts of our addiction to sports.  Victories increase our brain power and lead us to make healthier decisions, while losses make us less productive and more susceptible to unhealthy behaviors.  In our families, classrooms, and offices, we should realize that external factors like sporting events can influence our moods and abilities to perform.  By practicing happiness habits including gratitude, kindness, mindfulness, and laughter, we can get ourselves back on track.  Even if Carolina loses (gulp) to Duke.

Source: Psychological Science

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness And Innovation and a mental conditioning expert.  As an online educator, Mike helps parents form stronger relationships with their teenage children.  As a speaker, he works with businesses and non-profits to boost creativity and productivity.  For more information, visit his website – here.

March 14, 2018 Posted by | ADHD, adversity, anger, Anxiety and Depression, confidence, courage, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Belief Can Accomplish (Dr. James Sutton)

One of the most important things we can teach our students, children and grandchildren is that belief can help or hinder what we wish to accomplish. In fact, I think it was Henry Ford that said something to the effect of “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, either way, you’re correct.” That’s something to ponder. This story is one I read or heard a number of years ago. What is here comes from my memory of it. –JDS

……………………………………….

The young businessman was distraught. Shortly after the Great Depression started in 1929, his business and his dreams began failing rapidly. Customers were not paying and suppliers were demanding their money. He didn’t have many options … except bankruptcy.

In his despondency, he sat down on a park bench, his troubles paramount on his mind. A well-dressed elderly gentleman approached him and sat down.

“Young man, you seem to be carrying the world on your shoulders. Would you care to tell me about it?”

Appreciative of someone to talk with about it, the young man told his story.

“I believe I can help,” the old man shared after listening patiently. “While in my youth, I was in similar circumstances several times. I know what you are going through.” He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a checkbook.

“I’m writing you a check for $500,000; that should get you through this tough spot. Then, exactly one year from today at this very same time, meet me right here on this park bench and tell me what you did and how it went for you.”

The young man was surprised, of course, then dumbfounded when he read the signature on the check as it was handed to him: John D. Rockefeller. He agreed to the Mr. Rockefeller’s terms, thanked him profusely, then ran back to his office to put the precious check in his safe.

Bolstered with the confidence of half a million dollars in his office safe, the young businessman devised a plan to recover his business and put it back on his feet. He negotiated better contracts, collected payments owed and paid off his creditors. In a bit less than a year, he and his business had completely recovered, and, all the while, Mr. Rockefeller’s check remained in his safe. He never had to cash it. Simply knowing he had it gave him the confidence he needed to bring his business back to life.

The young man could hardly wait to share his good news with Mr. Rockefeller at the appointed day and time a year later. And, true to his word, Mr. Rockefeller was waiting for him on the park bench.

The young businessman shared how the year had gone, and how things had turned around completely in his business. Then, as a final touch, he handed the check back to Mr. Rockefeller, sharing how just having it in his office safe made all the difference he needed.

Just as he handed the check back, a woman in a nursing uniform approached them on the bench. With a frown on her face, she spoke to the old man.

“Oh, THERE you are! Now, you know you are not supposed to go traipsing off by yourself. You might get hurt.” As she reached for his hand, she turned and addressed the young businessman.

“And, sir, I’m so sorry if he’s caused you any trouble. You see, the problem is, he just loves to come to this park and pretend he’s JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER!

March 4, 2018 Posted by | adversity, confidence, courage, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pencil Man (Dr. James Sutton)

I recently read something that emphasized the value and importance of dignity in a person’s life, something we should share with our young people often. It caused me to recall something I experienced many years ago.

On Houston Street

As a student going to junior college in San Antonio, I had a part-time job working downtown. Weather permitting, I always saw a familiar figure setting up his tiny spot on Houston Street as I walked to my work from the parking lot.

Jim415smThis man had no legs. He was upbeat and engaging as he set out a cup on a folded blanket and filled it with new pencils. He then put out another cup to receive the kindnesses of those passing by.

I don’t remember him ever asking for anything. I suppose folks just knew the drill: Help the man; take a pencil. If someone put something in his cup and didn’t take a pencil, he generally made it a point to offer them one. Sometimes he would grab eye contact with a passerby, hold out a pencil, and ask, “Can you use a pencil today?”

And that was the extend of his sales pitch. As it appeared, it was the only sales pitch he needed.

He had his “regulars,” of course; most of them knew him by name. Sometimes one of them would bring him a cup of coffee or a donut. For this gesture they received his thanks and … you guessed it, a new pencil.

Giving Something Back

One day a man gave his young daughter some money for the pencil man. She put it in his cup and accepted the pencil he offered.

“Daddy, why is he selling pencils?” she asked, as they continued on their way.

“Well, he’s not really selling them, Becky,” Dad explained. “What you put in his cup back there was worth much more than that pencil. But when you helped him, he wanted to give something back to you. In this case it was that pencil. He wanted to show his appreciation to you because he’s a nice person, but also because it’s important for his dignity. It’s important for us all to keep our dignity. Do you understand?”

As she nodded in response, Becky held up the yellow pencil and watched it catch the glint of the morning’s sun.

“Daddy, I think I know another reason why he gives out pencils.”

“And what would that be?”

“Well, it’s because he knows that no one ever throws away a perfectly good pencil.”###

February 18, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Feel Invisible? Try This! (Dr. Tom Phelan)

BTQuestionsDr. Phelan: Much too often, I feel that nothing I do or say to my children is making the slightest bit of difference. It’s like I’m invisible in my own home. Any thoughts?

…………….

TPhelanphotoIf you’re a parent living with small children, you may often feel like you’re invisible to your kids. After spending a day cajoling, reasoning, threatening and even screaming in an attempt to get your kids to behave, you may feel as if they never listen to you, much less respond.

But all that talking is precisely the problem. If you feel like you’re invisible, you’re probably way to audible. When it comes to discipline, silence often speaks louder than words.

One Problem: An “Extra” Goal
Many parents complicate the job of discipline by setting for themselves two goals instead of just one. Their first goal is to get the kids to do what they’re supposed to do, which is fine. But when kids don’t respond right away, many parents add a second goal: getting the youngsters to accept, agree with, or even like the discipline. So Mom and Dad start reasoning, lecturing and explaining.

One Explanation Should Suffice
All this extra talking accomplishes only two things, and both of them are bad. First, it aggravates the kids, and second, it says to the children that they really don’t have to behave unless you can give them four or five reasons why they should.

One explanation is fine. But the mistake many parents make is trying to reason with their kids as if they were “little adults,” and too often adult logic does not impress or motivate young children. Once you say “No” to obnoxious behavior, you should save your breath. Further pleading will irritate you more and give the child a chance to continue the battle … and the behavior.###

Dr. Tom Phelan is an internationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist. He is the author of the aclaimed bestseller, 1-2-3 Magic! His website is www.parentmagic.com.

 

 

February 4, 2018 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Difficult Child, Discipline, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Teens Build Character, Part Two (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter does count. In this second of a two-part interview from our archives, former educator and skilled author, Barbara Lewis, helps us gain more insight into ways to help teens identify and strengthen traits of character.

………………………………………….

Barbara A. Lewis, Helping Teens Buuild CharacterSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

What Do You Stand For?, Barbara LewisAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this second of a two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (24:29)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

TO LISTEN, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

January 29, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, courage, Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Teens Build Character, Part One (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter does count. In this two-part interview from our archives, former educator and skilled author, Barbara Lewis, helps us gain more insight into ways to help teens identify and strengthen traits of character.

………………………………………….

Barbara A. LewisSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

What Do You Stand For?, Barbara LewisAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (20:16)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

TO LISTEN, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

January 20, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Healthy living, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shoes

BTLifesMoments1-300x76Sometimes a small, a very small, gesture on our part can be perceived as a gift of great proportion to the one receiving it. As this short and simple story shows, a moment in time and a gesture of concern and kindness can offer encouragement and hope, often when it is most needed.

 

………………………………………………….

The Scene:

Early 1900s

It’s a cold and blustery December day in New York City

 

coldA young boy was standing in front of a shoe store, barefooted, peering into the window. He was shivering with cold as a lady approached him from the street.

“Young man, what are looking at so intently in that store window?”

“I was just asking God for a pair of shoes,” the lad replied.

She smiled and reached for his hand. As she led him into the store, she asked the clerk for several pairs of socks for the boy. Then she requested a basin of water and a towel.

shoesThe lady took the boy to the back of the store, and, removing her gloves, knelt down and washed his feet, then dried them with the towel. She then put some new woolen socks on the boy’s feet and purchased for him a new pair of shoes.

As a finishing gesture, the lady tied up the remaining pairs of socks and handed the bundle to the youngster.

Gently touching him on the head, she exclaimed, “No doubt, my little fellow, you are more comfortable now.”

As she turned to leave the boy reached for her hand. As tears filled his eyes, he gazed into her face and asked a question that tugged on her heart:

“ARE YOU GOD’S WIFE?”

 

January 11, 2018 Posted by | adversity, courage, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Resilience, Special Occasions, Stress | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Tablecloth

BTLifesMomentsJim Gentil, my friend in Austin, Texas, published this story about ten years ago in his online newsletter, The Power of Positive Living. It captures the essence of the Christmas season. It was originally written by Howard C. Schade under the title of “The Ivory and Gold Tablecloth.” May this story from our archives bless your soul, as it has mine. –JDS

…………………………………………..

At Christmas time, men and women everywhere gather in their churches to wonder anew at the greatest miracle the world has ever known. But the story I like best to recall was not a huge miracle — not exactly.

It happened to a pastor who was very young. His church was very old. Once, long ago, it had flourished. Famous men had preached from its pulpit and prayed before its altar. Rich and poor alike had worshipped there and built it beautifully. Now, the good days had passed from the section of town where it stood.

But the pastor and his young wife believed in their run-down-church. They felt that, with hard work and lots of faith they could get it in shape. Together they went to work.

The Storm

stormBut, late in December, a severe story whipped through the river valley; the worst blow fell on the church. A huge chunk of rain-soaked plaster fell out of the inside wall just behind the altar. Sorrowfully the pastor and his wife swept away the mess, but they could not hide the ragged hole.

The pastor looked at it and had to remind himself quickly, “Thy will be done!” But his wife wept, “Christmas is only two days away!”

That afternoon the dispirited couple attended an auction held for the benefit of a youth group. The auctioneer opened a box and shook out of its folds a gloriously beautiful, very ornately sewn, gold and ivory lace tablecloth.

It was a magnificent item, nearly 15 feet long. But it, too, dated from a long vanished era. Who had any use for such a thing today. There were a few half-hearted bids, then the pastor was seized with what he thought was a great idea.

He bid it in for $6.50.

He carried the glorious gold and ivory lace cloth back to the church and very carefully put it up on the wall behind the altar. It completely hid the hole! And the extraordinary beauty of its shimmering handwork cast a fine, holiday glow over the chancel.

It was a great triumph. Happily, he went back to preparing his Christmas sermon.

The Woman in the Cold

busstopJust before noon on the day of Christmas Eve, as the pastor was opening the church, he noticed a woman standing in the cold at the bus stop.

“The bus won’t be here for 40 minutes!” he called, inviting her into the church to get warm.

She told him she had come from the city that morning to be interviewed for a job as governess to the children of one of the wealthy families in town, but she had been turned down. As a Jewish war refugee, her English was imperfect.

The woman sat down in a pew and chafed her hands and rested. After a while, she dropped her head and prayed.

She then looked up and saw the great gold and ivory cloth. She rose suddenly and walked up the steps of the chancel.

She looked a the beautiful tablecloth with with remembering eyes.

“It is Mine!”

The pastor smiled and started to tell her about the storm damage, but she didn’t seem to listen. She took up a fold of the cloth and lovingly rubbed it between her fingers as tears welled in her kind eyes.

But they were happy tears of recognition.

“It is mine!” she said. “It is my banquet cloth!” She lifted up a corner and showed the surprised pastor that there were initials monogrammed on it.

“My husband had the cloth made especially for me in Brussels! There could not be another like it.”

For the next few minutes the woman and the pastor talked excitedly together. She explained that she was Viennese, and that, in being Jews, she and her husband wanted to flee from the Nazis. They were advised to go separately. Her husband put her on a train for Switzerland. They planned that he would join her as soon as he could arrange to ship their household goods across the border.

But she never saw him again. Later, she heard he had died in a concentration camp.

“I have always felt it was my fault to leave without him,” she said. “Perhaps these years of wandering have been my punishment.”

The pastor tried to comfort her and urged her to take the beautiful cloth with her. But she refused saying, “No, no, the cloth has found its way to you. You need it. It has purpose here; I want you to have it. I am happy knowing you have it.”

She gazed lovingly up at the magnificent gold and ivory lace cloth, then quietly went away.

The Repairman

As the church began to fill on Christmas Eve, it was clear that the magnificent cloth was going to be a great success. It has been skillfully designed to look its best by candlelight.

The glorious gold and ivory lace cloth actually glowed in the candlelight. It cast lovely fine designs on the walls and ceilings of the church. Everyone looked around in wonderment, and a tranquil ambiance was cast over all.

After the service, the pastor stood at the doorway. Many people told him the church looked more beautiful than ever before.

chimesFrom the generous donations that were given, a few days later the pastor had the local jeweler, who was also the clock-and-watch repairman, come to repair the church chimes.

The repairman’s gentle middle-aged face drew into a look of great astonishment! As if in a trance, he walked right up to the beautiful cloth and looked upon it intently.

“It is strange,” he said in his soft accent. “Many years ago, my wife, God rest her, and I owned such a cloth. My wife put it on the table (and here he gave a big smile) for holidays and when the Rabbi came to dinner.”

Reunited

The pastor suddenly became very excited. He told the jeweler about the woman who had been in the church to get warm, saw the cloth, and recognized it to be hers.

The startled jeweler clutched the pastor’s arm. “Can it be?” he said, through desperate tears.

Together the two got in touch with the family who had interviewed the woman for the governess position and got her address. Then they both drove to the city.

The jeweler knocked on the heavy, weathered door. As it opened, there stood his beloved wife. The many years of separation were immediately washed away by their blissful tears. They held each other in loving embraces, never to be parted again.

Purpose in the Storm

True love seems to find a way. To all who hear or read this story, the joyful purpose of the storm was to knock a hole in the wall of the church.

So, Dear Ones, the next time something knocks a hole in your dreams or your goals, just remember to have enough faith and enough belief in those dreams and goals to lovingly and creatively hang your own brilliant lace cloth over the temporary mar.

Then watch the miracles come. ###

December 31, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I Believe in Christmas (Zig Ziglar)

BTLifesMomentsOn November 28, 2012, Zig Ziglar passed away at the age of 86. In his career he inspired hundreds of thousands of folks, many of whom were hungry for a message of hope. In 1996, I visited with Zig in his office in Dallas, where we recorded the audio program, The Power of Gratitude. (That interview is in two parts on this site [link1] [link2]. Zig lived that message every day of his life. His son, Tom Ziglar, posted this Christmas message from his dad in the company’s newsletter the year Zig passed away. I share it with you with gratitude for the influence Zig has had in all aspects of my life. MERRY CHRISTMAS all. –JDS

…………………………..

Why I Believe in Christmas, Zig ZiglarIt’s the first Christmas I can remember. It arrived just seven weeks after the deaths of my father and baby sister. To make matters worse, it was in the heart of the Great Depression. Things were tough. All of us children who were older made what income contributions we could, but the truth was my mother had eight of her eleven remaining children still living at home, and six were too young to work. Understandably, the Ziglar kids were concerned about what kind of Christmas it would be!

The good news is that, although our grief was fresh, we still celebrated Christmas. We received no toys that year, but much to my delight in my gift box I found three English walnuts and something I had never tasted before–raisins! They were absolutely delicious. Mama prepared her wonderful molasses candy and we had a small cedar tree. And my mother read the Christmas story, like she always did.

My sixth Christmas will always have great meaning to me. We celebrated the birth of Christ even in hard times because we believed in Christmas. ###

 

Zig Ziglar was known as America’s Motivator. He authored 33 books and produced numerous training programs. He will be remembered as a man who lived out his faith daily.

 

 

December 23, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Compassion, courage, family, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mindfulness: The Art of the Pause (Guest: Dr. Frank Sileo)

Chances are you’ve heard the term “mindfulness.” It is a popular type of therapeutic treatment employed by mental health professionals. But its practice in a casual and relaxed everyday form can be refreshing and quite helpful. Listen in as Dr. James Sutton interviews psychologist Dr. Frank Sileo in this program entitled “Mindfulness: The Art of the Pause.”

……………………………

Few folks would argue the fact that, in this fast-paced world today, it pays to step briefly out of the pressure and drive, to pause to recharge and to appreciate all that is near us and with us here and now.

The Cost

Unfortunately, that pause, that reflective moment in time, doesn’t happen often enough. Life in the quick lane continues on, and we are so easily distracted by it. In cases of sustained, non-stop effort, pressure and activity, a cost can appear in the form of characteristics like anxiety, excessive worry, depression, and impulsive (and compulsive) thoughts, decisions and behaviors that bring more trouble than relief.

And it affects children and teens, not just adults.

What’s the Solution?

As one intervention, mental health professionals suggest the practice of mindfulness, the art of taking that reflective pause or break to reframe and step away from stressful situations in order to account for that which is positive and good. In fact, mindfulness is a popular form of therapeutic treatment today, and it’s proving to be effective across all age groups.

As our guest, psychologist and author Dr. Frank Sileo, puts it, it’s a look at all the “pausabilities.” In his new children’s book beautifully illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin, A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness, he encourages youngsters to find those creative moments to pause, reflect on, and more fully appreciate the simple beauty of all that is around them every single day. What a great and timely topic for this program!

Dr. Frank Sileo

Dr. Sileo is a licensed psychologist and founder and executive director of the Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Since 2010, Frank has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s top kids’ doctors. He has written a number of children’s books on topics that inform as they entertain, and they will be discussed in this program. (33:55)

www.drfranksileo.com

TO LISTEN, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

 

December 3, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Volunteers: Something to Be Thankful For (Judge Tom Jacobs)

Volunteers: Something to Be Thankful For, Judge To JacobsIn celebration of the past Thanksgiving season, the Changing Behavior Network posted this special piece sent by Tom Jacobs, a retired judge and author from Arizona. Times of great need don’t follow a schedule; we must remain prepared for them at all times. Judge Jacobs speaks of his experiences while serving as a volunteer for the American Red Cross, and suggests how we might help, also. (This article first appeared in the November, 2017 issue of Arizona Attorney.)

………………………..

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit landfall in south Texas on August 25, 2017, state bar president Alex Vakula sent an email asking bar members to consider assisting those in need through donations and pro bono legal services. There is another way you can help in a national disaster. My story illustrates how you can step up and work directly with disaster victims, almost immediately.

Katrina

In August, 2005, I heard on the news an urgent call for 40,000 new volunteers for the American Red Cross to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I had always regretted not responding to 9/11 and felt this was my chance to pitch in. Two days later, I was on my way to Montgomery, Alabama for a three-week deployment as an “event based volunteer” (EBV). I received a half-day orientation and was given a choice of assignments to choose from. I selected client-services since it would put me in direct contact with the evacuees from New Orleans and neighboring parishes.

After a short van ride with my team of twelve, we arrived in Jackson, Mississippi where our assignment was to interview 1,000 families a day. One hundred thousand people had been evacuated to the Jackson area. We worked in 12-hour shifts, ate when we could, and slept on cots in a staff shelter. In less than a week from the broadcast, I was meeting the evacuees and qualifying them for financial assistance. The need, as it is now with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and possibly Jose is great. EBVs will be needed at least for the next year.

The Joy of Helping Others

When I returned from Katrina, I was hooked on disaster relief. I completed the required courses through the Red Cross and became a certified driver of an emergency response vehicle (the red and white ambulance-looking trucks). My partner, Anne, and I have completed a dozen national deployments serving our clients in floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. From California to the east coast, we have used the truck to deliver bulk supplies (cleaning and personal hygiene kits, cots, blankets, etc.) to shelters, and conduct fixed and mobile feeding.

In our Harvey deployment, we worked in three small towns in Texas (Edna, Inez and Telferner), delivering lunch and dinner to residents that were without power and water. Direct contact with people in dire straits is a hands-on experience and, admittedly, not for everyone. Even after a few short weeks, seeing them and their families twice a day, establishes a bond. There is nothing to compare with the thanks, hugs, handshakes, blessings and smiles bestowed upon us by our clients. That is our reward.

From the hindsight of a few weeks, in spite of the heat, humidity and mosquitoes (the size of a nickel), would we do it again? Absolutely. It’s the people in need and our ability to answer the call that will help us continue this work. It’s the little four year-old girl who looked at me and said “I’m hungry.” After giving her and her family dinner, she handed me a strip of bark from her front yard and said “This is for you. You can take it home.” Or Evan, a ten year-old boy who came to our truck just to say thanks. It’s the elderly man who hobbled to the truck to hand us a twenty-dollar bill (a fortune to him, we’re sure). We declined his offer since Red Cross assistance is free to everyone, and we don’t take donations out in the field.

Volunteers Needed

Some of the assignments available to the EBVs include shelter work, feeding, nursing and mental health services, damage assessment, warehouse, logistics, etc. You can apply your profession or occupation to specific needs of the disaster, or learn a new skill through Red Cross classes. During one disaster, when I had a half-day off (which is rare), I became a certified fork-lift operator. Again, not for everyone.

Consider becoming a Red Cross volunteer or, at least, an event based volunteer. Assisting others is addictive. Contact the American Red Cross at 602-336-6660; www.redcross.org

I brought that piece of bark home as a reminder of why we do this. ###

 

Judge Tom JacobsTom Jacobs was an assistant attorney general in Arizona for 13 years before being appointed to the Maricopa County Supreme Court. He presided over juvenile and family court matters for 23 years, retiring in 2008. Judge Jacobs is the founder of the teen-law website, AskTheJudge.info. His books on teen law include What Are My Rights? and Teen Cyberbullying Investigated. He and his daughter, Natalie, co-authored the most recent book, Every Vote Matters: The Power of Your Voice.

 

November 26, 2017 Posted by | Communication, Compassion, courage, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Special Occasions, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Magic of Storytelling (Bill Ratner)

BTRadioInt-300x75Storytelling is a great activity for bringing families together in a pleasantly “non-techie” fashion. Voice-over specialist and father, Bill Ratner, shares his experience in storytelling and its effects on his own family.

……………………………………..

Storytelling is as old as recorded time; older, actually. Stories have always had a way of weaving a tapestry of connectedness, of support and dependence upon each other. Stories bring past and present together as they share a medium unique to humans: the spoken word.

The Magic of Storytelling, Bill RatnerBut is the art, practice and opportunities afforded by storytelling, of being and sharing with others, trailing behind our contemporary forms of communication by digital expression? Are we losing something when we can communicate worldwide at a keystroke, yet still be isolated and alone? Have we gone too far with the conveniences of instantaneous messaging? Most importantly, has it taken a hold on our children?

In an earlier interview on the Changing Behavior Network, voice-over specialist, Bill Ratner, shared his most heartfelt concerns regarding screen addiction and digital overload on our children and teens, as well as excessive pressures placed on them by advertising and the media. To address these very issues, Bill wrote Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth Behind Media’s Effect on Children and What to Do About It. In the book, Bill gives his take on the problems created, as well as potential solutions and needs for reasonable balance.

Parenting for the Digital Age, Bill RatnerPerhaps you’ve never met Bill, but chances are you’ve heard him. He’s a leading voice-over artist and voice actor in thousands of movie trailers, cartoons, television features, games and commercials. Through advertising, he has been the voice of many leading corporations.

But, while raising a family, Bill realized his children were being bombarded by messages he helped create. So, in his concern for the well-being of all young people, Bill founded a program of media awareness for youngsters, wrote Parenting for the Digital Age, and looks to share his thoughts and his experience on the topic wherever and whenever he can.

In this interview, Bill discusses the art and practice of storytelling as one avenue for bringing youngsters and families together, face-to-face, as they share in the time-tested experience of stories. As a bonus, this interview closes with a five-minute story told by Bill, a story that was aired on National Public Radio. (27:42)

www.billratner.com/parentingbook.html

www.TheMoth.org (A prime storytelling website)

Bill and his work are discussed in THIS ARTICLE published in TIME

TO LISTEN, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

 

 

November 19, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Thoughts of Veterans Day: Eleanor’s Prayer (Dr. James Sutton)

Here’s a beautiful story about a woman in uniform during World War II … the uniform of the American Red Cross. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt served her country well, always mindful of the sacrifices being made.

…………………………

Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t only the most active wartime First Lady, her efforts to improve quality of life, ease human suffering, and promote a more substantial role for women in America went on for many years after her husband, President Franklin Roosevelt, died while in office in 1945.

As First Lady during World War II, Eleanor performed tireless service for her country through the American Red Cross. All of her sons (John, FDR Jr., Elliott and James) served their country, also. (Two were in the Navy, one in the Army Air Corps, and one in the Marines.)

The Pacific TOUR

At one point in the war, the Red Cross wanted to send Eleanor on a tour of the Pacific Theater, so she could meet and encourage the troops, especially those that were wounded and were confined to hospitals and hospital ships.

On Thoughts of Veteran's Day: Eleanor's Prayer

You can imagine Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz’ hesitation about such a gesture. In addition to the logistics of moving the president’s wife to locations in the Pacific, the war was still going on in many of those places. What if she were to be injured or killed, or what if she were to be captured by the enemy? The admiral’s concerns were painfully real.

But, of course, who can say, “No!” to the American Red Cross and the White House? Eleanor Roosevelt did complete the tour. She kept up a schedule that would have exhausted a younger person, and, in doing so, brought an uplifting message of support and hope from the folks back home.

Admiral Nimitz praised her efforts and shared with her and President Roosevelt the positive impact of her visits with the troops. In the end, he heartily agreed her tour of the Pacific was a huge success. All who worked at the mammoth task of getting her where she needed to go were impressed with her energy, grace, and cooperative spirit throughout the entire tour.

Eleanor’s Prayer

There a low granite wall at Pearl Harbor that carries the text of a prayer Eleanor Roosevelt wrote during the war. It was said that she carried this text in her wallet all through the war. It says much about the character of this great and gracious woman:

Dear Lord, lest I continue my complacent way, help me to remember somewhere out there a man died for me today. As long as there is war, I then must ask and answer: “AM I WORTH DYING FOR?”

Psychologist Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. He is a Navy veteran and served two assignments in support of the Third Marine Amphibious Force in Vietnam.

November 11, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, courage, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, patriotism, Resilience, Self-esteem, Special Occasions, veterans | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Manage Your Stressed-Out Child (Peggy Sealfon)

Peggy Sealfon, author and personal development coach, offers six very doable tips for helping children and the whole family take a bite out of day-to-day stress.

…………………………….

How to Manage Your Stressed-Out Child, Peggy SealfonLife for families in today’s world is fraught with challenges. Responsibilities and distractions create disconnection and dysfunction. Parents may both work outside the home and so the day begins with chaos as everyone is trying to get out the door. Evenings become a crash zone of exhaustion and frequently each member disappears into their digital screens: Dad may be checking his work emails; Mom is watching a TV drama, the kids are watching movies or playing video games.

When family interaction becomes reduced, there is a potential for children to feel unsafe or overwhelmed. Children are intensely susceptible to all their parents’ stresses and then, of course, they have their personal anxieties about school, academics, societal pressures,. If your child is showing signs of stress, consider these 6 ways to interrupt those patterns:

Impose some family time together. Shut off all digital devices for at least a half hour every evening and devote time to being united as a family. In the past, families had dinner together and talked. Sometimes today’s schedules don’t allow for all members to be present at that time so designate a “create” time together during which you work on a continuing project. Or just take an evening walk around the neighborhood. Do something regularly as a family.

Be a good example by managing your own stress. If you’re frazzled, you are guaranteeing your children to follow your behavioral conditioning. You need to behave as you wish to see your kids behave. There are numerous stress reducing techniques available. Try using my free audio every day: 3MinutestoDestress.com

Create wholesome morning routines so that you encourage a calm, focused start to the day. Get organized the evening before. Plus make certain your kids are getting sufficient sleep and enough of the proper nutrition to power them through their day.

Escape from Anxiety, Peggy SealfonGive your children time to play and relax. Kids need to just be kids. If you over-schedule activities for them, they lose out on having those carefree experiences to play creatively or just have time to chill. You can even teach your kids how to take a healthy time-out. Show them an easy breathing technique: use a deep inhalation and let go with a sigh. Repeat 3 to 4 times and then just sit quietly for a minute or two. This technique signals the nervous system to calm down.

Let go of perfection. You may be putting excessive pressure on your child to perform up to your expectations. Allow them to explore their gifts and uncover their strengths. Simply encourage them to do their best and be perfectly engaged in activities and studies. Let them know that you’ll appreciate them for who they are and what they can do.

Use positive statements of encouragement. Be aware of ways you may be overly critical of your kids. They hear—and store—these negative beliefs. It’s staggering how many adults I coach today who are still hampered by childhood messages that has kept them feeling that they’re not loved, not enough, a disappointment and they’ll never amount to anything. So be mindful of thoughts you are conveying to your children through your facial expressions, body language and words.

Since she was born, Sarah’s parents have repeatedly told her she’s such a lucky girl. Ever since she could speak, Sarah has taken that to heart and continually recited aloud “I’m such a lucky girl.” She’s now 12 and is a grateful, happy, balanced child. The repeated affirmation helped her assimilate this perspective into her life.

Clearly some days will be better than others. It’s critical that you pay attention to your personal well-being. Remember how, when you’ve been on an airplane, the flight attendant always advises that in case of decompression, you put on your air mask first and then assist your child? You cannot give to others what isn’t flowing through you. At the end of the day, your stressed-out child might just be a reflection of you. As the adult, you have choices and can change what isn’t working in your family life to cultivate a happier, more nourishing home environment.###

Peggy Sealfon is a personal development coach, speaker and author of the best-selling book Escape from Anxiety—Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Strategies from A to Z. Want a free consultation with Peggy to supercharge your life? Visit her website at PeggySealfon.com

 

November 5, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Communication, Difficult Child, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment