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Young People … Our Greatest Resource

“IT ALWAYS SOUNDED LIKE ME”

I really didn’t know much other music than the country kind before I went into the service. I enjoyed playing guitar, so, of course, my Guitar Hero was Chet Atkins (and still is). In expanding my musical horizons while on active duty, I became familar with the talent and musical insight of guitarist Carlos Santana.

AARP magazine did a feature on Santana recently; his is a beautiful story of hard work behind a driven dream. As a young teen growing up in Mexico, he became very drawn to the sort of guitar blues sound coming out of the US. He shared how he would take his guitar into a closet, turn out the light, and try his hardest to sound like B. B. King, Otis Rush, and the others blues artists he loved and followed.

But he was continually disappointed: “It always sounded like me.” But, as time and talent would prove, Santana’s “curse” became a huge blessing. His distinct style has lasted more than 50 years, and he’s still going strong. In addition to the many hits he created, he has recorded over 40 albums.

Santana Reunion Band

Santana and his wife, Cindy, are very involved in a charity they founded: The Milagro (Miracle) Foundation. So far, they’ve given seven million dollars to over 400 charities that serve the many needs of children.

Carlos Santana stands as an encouragement to us all, but especially to our young people, that, in this world of cookie-cutter sameness, there’s still a place for uniqueness backed by hard work and solid values.###

October 11, 2019 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, confidence, Inspirational | , , , , | Leave a comment

“If You Don’t …” (Adapted from Nora Roberts)

If you don’t go after what you want …
YOU’LL NEVER HAVE IT.

If you don’t ask …
THE ANSWER WILL ALWAYS BE “NO!”

If you dont’ step forward …
YOU’LL STAY IN THE SAME PLACE.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Love Rode on a Dime (Dr. James Sutton)

Summertime and warm weather take me back to some of my growing-up years in Abilene, Texas. I was always eager to welcome the west Texas summers. School would be out; I could leave my shoes under the bed. One of my dearest summer memories was watching for the mailman to leave something special in our mailbox.

Two Dimes
It would be a letter from my grandmother in Oklahoma. The letter was always addressed to my mother, but my sister and I were not forgotten. There would be two dimes taped to a card inside Grandma’s letter; one for each of us.

These dimes meant one thing: ice cream! If my sister or I heard the ice cream man on the next street over, we’d rush inside to grab our dimes and stand patiently on the curb until he came down our street. If our tastes weren’t too fancy, a dime would be just enough.

Long-distance Love
It was a given that Grandma loved us; we knew that. But using the US Mail to deliver ice cream in the summer was a creative way to send the message. It was long-distance love, and my sister, our three cousins and I experienced it for many, many years.

But something always puzzled me about those dimes. They were ALWAYS brand new and shiny; uncirculated. Many years later, Mom shared with me the story how those dimes always were always brand new ones.

Near the first of every month, Grandma would ride the city bus downtown with her modest check in hand. This was her one, grand journey every month, so she made it count, generally with a number of stops (starting at the beauty college where she got her hair done). When Grandma finally got to the bank to cash her check, she always requested a roll of dimes. She wanted uncirculated dimes, freshly minted. No old dimes for her five grandkids; they had to be NEW ones.

Too Much?
Today it’s possible for grandparents to video chat with their grandkids in real time. Cell phones and the internet give instant access anywhere and anytime, and gift cards can buy just about anything a grandchild could possibly want.

But that’s just the point, isn’t it? I sometimes wonder if we lavish TOO much on our children and grandchildren.

Can expensive gifts cloud a deeper message? Can love be diminished by extravagance? Might we be better off in a time when the heart of the giver was more valued than the gift?
And love sometimes rode on a dime.###

August 6, 2019 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Flag that Found Me (Dr. James Sutton)

My proudest moment to be an American came when I wasn’t even in America at the time.

It was 1969; I had taken a small group of sailors to a camp in East DaNang, South Vietnam. This was in I Corps; the enemy was close … and active. We were there to assist the First Radio Battalion of the Third Marine Amphibious Force. They were way undermanned and had worked themselves to the point of exhaustion.

We knew these guys; as sailors and marines we trained together in Florida as part of the Naval Security Group. The men I worked with there (one of them became my brother-in-law), and what we accomplished, saved many lives, and are among my most meaningful experiences … ever.

When it was time for our group to cycle back to Japan and let a group of sailors from the Philippines relieve us for a bit, I discovered that the marines did not have tickets to get us OUT of Vietnam, only IN. We had to wait for whatever hop we could catch. We hung around the airport long enough and looked miserable enough (which wasn’t difficult) until we finally caught a flight out on a medivac, a hospital plane full of wounded marines.

We landed for transfer in Okinawa. I checked on flights to Japan for myself and my men, and was told there was an American aircraft headed that way, but it was ready to take off. They radioed the plane and asked them to wait for us, then they shoved us out the door into the general direction of where the planes were and simply said, “Hurry!”

In the dark all airplanes look pretty much alike. We were running down the tarmac, toting our sea-bags, trying to find one aircraft among what looked like hundreds. We were half-lost and exhausted.

It was then that Something told me to look up. A spotlight, or some kind of light, was shining squarely on Old Glory, an American flag painted high on the tail of the craft that was our ride out of Okinawa.

It’s still difficult to put into it words, but the sight of that flag brought an immediate sense of calmness; I KNEW everything was going to be okay. We loaded quickly through the plane’s tail ramp. I made sure my men were taken care of, then buckled myself into a seat … and slept like a baby.

To this day, I cannot explain that light, other than to say it was a gift of Providence in a moment I needed it most, but I NEVER see our flag flying but that it doesn’t remind me of that night so long ago and of a small flag that seemed to find me.

God Bless America and all of our men and women in uniform who wear that same flag, OUR flag, on their shoulder. For them, may it always be a beacon of comfort and reassurance.###

July 3, 2019 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, patriotism, Resilience, Self-esteem, veterans | , , , | Leave a comment

Reasons to Be Compassionate (Dr. James D. Sutton)

For whatever reason, this little quote captured my attention this morning when I found it in my email:

If you ever run short on reasons to be compassionate, remember there is ALWAYS at least one good reason: It makes you feel better than anything else you could do.

When I read this and concluded I really needed to apply it, it occurred to me that one could substitute many other words for “compassionate” and it will still hold true. Many, many other words.

See if you can think of ten before you leave this blog.###

June 11, 2019 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , | 1 Comment

It’s a Little Thing, But … (Dr. James Sutton)

I saw this yesterday as I was walking into a store, and was immediately struck with the notion of just how little some folks care about showing even a tiny bit of kindness, decency, and a respect for others. Their shopping cart was abandoned right next to the cart collection station. It would have taken only a couple of steps to put it on the other side of the railing, yet they didn’t, or worse yet, parking it appropriately never even occurred to them as a choice.

What’s the Thought?

I’ve always felt that what a person says or does, or doesn’t say or doesn’t do, is only a fraction of what’s going on between their ears, the thought behind that action (or lack thereof). And this is the same person that will gripe and complain about prices in the store, yet their little stunt in the parking lot causes the store to send employees out to round up stray carts.

To take this notion one step further, what if this person had children who saw them abandon the shopping cart? What’s the message there?

A Different Picture

To turn this scenario completely upside down, consider the person that rounds up a stray shopping cart and pushes it over to the collection station. What’s the investment there; 20 seconds, tops? Or what if they decide to push the stray cart on into the store and use it? If their kids are watching, what’s the message to them? How many times would a son or daughter observe that behavior from Mom or Dad before they would do the same?

Not many.

Character is built on tiny steps … like being considerate with a shopping cart.

Sure, it’s a small thing, but … ###

 

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, family, Healthy living, Integrity, Parents | , , , | Leave a comment

“I Wish You Enough” (Dr. James Sutton)

I’ve heard of this concept before, “I wish you enough,” but it seemed to have more impact on me this morning when I received it from my friend, Jim Gentil, in Austin, Texas. The piece really stands as a mandate for us not to wish the world for our children and our loved ones, because a wish like that could destroy them. So think about how we might simply wish “enough” for them.
And thanks, Jim. –JDS

A mother and her adult daughter were saying their good-byes at the security gate as the daughter prepared to fly home.

“I love you, and I wish you enough,” the mother said.

“Mom, our life together has been more than enough,” the daughter replied. “Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, also.”

After the daughter left, the mother walked over to the window were I was seated. She was visibly upset. “Did you ever say good-bye to someone, knowing it would be forever?” she asked me softly.

Yes, I have,” I replied. “Was this one of those good-byes?” I asked, pointing down the concourse.

She nodded, then added, “She lives so far away. I have challenges ahead and … well, the reality is that her next trip back likely will be for my funeral.”

“When you were saying good-bye, I believe I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?”

She began to smile. “That’s a wish that’s been handed down from other generations; my parents used to say it to everyone.” She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail; then she smiled even more.

“When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them.” Then, turning toward me, she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.

I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.

I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.

I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.

I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.

I wish you enough loss to appreciate all you possess.

I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.

She then began to cry and walked away.

They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but an entire life to forget them.###

March 7, 2019 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Compassion, family, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience | , , , , | Leave a comment

Humility: A First Step to Greatness (Dr. James Sutton)

Although there are many thoughts on why some folks excel while others struggle, I do believe that, in most cases, the difference comes down to a sense of personal confidence balanced with authentic humility. It’s an “I’m comfortable enough in my own skin that I can step outside of myself to recognize and encourage others” sort of bearing. Some folks seem to be born with that ability, while others develop it along the way. Still others never quite get there at all.

Would this not be a great skill to teach our children early on? And, if we do, wouldn’t we have given them a life-long gift toward lasting happiness, endearing relationships and, yes … success in life’s ventures?

Loved and Respected
Few Americans were more loved and respected than the late Will Rogers (1879-1935). At the height of his popularity, he had the friendship and company of presidents and kings, yet he never claimed to be more than an Oklahoma cowboy that had been blessed with some outstanding opportunities along the way.

That was not gratuitous posturing; he meant it. Those opportunities, however, were available to him because he had the skills to claim them. Isn’t it much the same with all of us?

A Lesson in Humility
Will was quite proud of the fact that a portion of his blood came from the Cherokee Nation, something he was pleased to pass on to his children. The very essence of his character and his humility came to light when, at the highest point in his career, his sister, Maude Lane, passed away. Here’s what he said:

Some uninformed newspapers printed, ‘Mrs. C. L. Lane, sister of the famous comedian, Will Rogers … ‘ It’s the other way around. I am the brother of Mrs. C. L. Lane, the friend of humanity. And I want to tell you that, as I saw all these people pay tribute to her memory, it was the proudest moment of my life that I was her brother.

I believe it was Will’s ever-present quality of humility that enabled him to relate so freely and personally with others, be it face-to-face or in his syndicated column that went out to hundreds of newspapers daily.

His wife, Betty Blake Rogers, shared that, as Will traveled about the country, he enjoyed making stops at out-of-the-way country stores at lunch time. He would roam the store selecting milk, crackers, cheese and lunch meat, make his purchase, then eat his lunch right there in the store while visiting with the proprietor.

“He had a human, friendly way with strangers and a warm curiosity about what other people were doing and thinking,” Betty shared in her book, Will Rogers: His Wife’s Story.

True humility is a precious attribute, indeed.

It will always be in high demand.

 

Reference: Rogers, Betty Blake. Will Rogers: His Wife’s Story. Indianapolis: Bobs-Merrill Co., 1941 ###

January 11, 2019 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, Self-esteem, Success Strategies | , , , , | 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 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 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

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

“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

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?

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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.

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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.

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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 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

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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

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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.”

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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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Can Our Children Carry on the Family Values? (Dr. Dan Trussell)

BTAboutThemWhile most parents don’t expect that their children will become carbon copies of their parents, they likely want their children to live “the good life,” one full of integrity, honor and justice.

Can Our Children Carry on the Family Values, Dr. Dan TrussellThoughtful parents put a great deal of effort into instilling their own values, attitudes, and a solid moral framework for their children to take into young adulthood. But how do parents know they are really “getting through” and that their children will embrace similar values, attitudes and an ethical frame of reference to pass on to their own children?

Children who can easily articulate the values that belong to the family and who have had these values reinforced through action over words tend to fare better in living out these values as they leave home and go out into a world full of competing choices.

How Families Flourish Workbook, Dr. Dan TrussellResearch suggests that children who are taught age appropriate self-determination (as defined by Deci and Ryan as supporting one’s natural or intrinsic tendencies to behave in effective and healthy ways) are better equipped to understand why a family has certain attitudes toward family attitudes and values around justice, family loyalty and respect, the role of the individual in community, social, school and work life, health and wellness goals, spiritual or religious affiliation and other values the family has honored over generations.
Likewise, teaching your child to think critically can strongly reinforce similar values in him or her. As the youngster becomes more independent in the world, this tool will serve them well.

Engaging with your child not just about what your values are, but why you find them important and the natural consequences of violating them, improves adoption of the values you think your child will need to carry into adult life.
Piaget and developmental psychology expects that children are typically unable to perform functional critical thinking before around the age of eleven. Fully independent reasoning, judgment and prudence are exhibited around 25 to 30 years of age. Nonetheless, it is never too early to explain why you have rules, values and attitudes, and to explore with your child a way to manifest those values.

Both self-determination and critical thinking are building blocks toward helping to establish your child’s desire to not only embrace the values you find important but to act upon their own value system to pass on to the next generation. ###

Daniel Trussell, Ph.D., MBA, LPC, NCC, CPCS is author of The How Families Flourish Workbook and How Families Flourish. He is a certified Professional Counselor supervisor and conducts training for both professionals and families in incorporating the findings from positive psychology into daily life. He can be reached at drdanieltrussell@gmail.com. [website]

 

 

October 29, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, Discipline, family, Healthy living, Integrity, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unlocking Parental Intelligence (Dr. Laurie Hollman)

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Dr. Laurie Hollman explains the principles and benefits of implementing Parental Intelligence in this excellent interview from our archives.

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The behavior of a child or teen sometimes can stump adults completely, leaving many more questions than answers:

Why do youngsters do what they do?

What are they thinking?

How can we better know their inner world?

Unlocking Parental Intelligence, Dr. Laurie HollmanThere’s little doubt that, on occasion, a child or teen’s behavior can frustrate and even infuriate a parent (or teacher). But, without insight, a parent’s response to the behavior often will be less than ideal. In fact, as many of us know from experience, some responses can make things even worse.

Bottom line: Behavior contains meanings, often multiple meanings. Reading these meanings effectively not only helps solve behavioral problems, it can lead to deeper, more fulfilling relationships with those we love most.

Our guest on this program, psychoanalyst and author Dr. Laurie Hollman, suggests that, when parents learn to extract the meaning from their child’s behavior and resolve problems using that insight and sensitivity, they are exercising a perspective and process she calls “Parental Intelligence.” In this program, Dr. Hollman will take us through the five steps of Parental Intelligence, sharing plenty of examples along the way.

Unlocking Parental Intelligence, Dr. Laurie Hollman

Laurie Hollman is an experienced psychoanalyst who has written extensively for many publications. She writes a popular column on Parental Intelligence for Mom’s Magazine and is a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post. Dr. Hollman’s faculty positions have included New York University and The Society for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. She is the author of the book we are featuring on this program, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior. (28:45)

http://www.lauriehollmanphd.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

 

 

October 23, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Difficult Child, Discipline, family, Parents, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Activate Curiosity in Your Child (Mike Ferry)

Curiosity helps kids learn and grow, but innate curiosity generally isn’t encouraged and supported as it should be. Mental conditioning coach and educator, Mike Ferry, offers some excellent ideas for strengthening, activating, and even recovering, much-needed curiosity.

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How to Activate Curiosity in Your Child (Mike Ferry)Whether we are adults or kids, curiosity is a path to happiness. When we allow our imaginations to roam freely and our minds to absorb whatever interests us, we feel happier and less stressed. Our children enter the world as happy little sponges, guided by light-hearted, curious natures. Kids love to learn and make sense of the world. When you think about it, the amount of knowledge children acquire by being curious is truly amazing.

Unfortunately, our innate curiosity tends to be trampled as we grow up. Parents get tired of answering their kids’ endless questions. Children learn that Mom and Dad are frustrated by their inquisitiveness. The questions gradually slow to a trickle before the faucet is turned off. Also, as children enter school, they realize that producing the “right answer” is more important than exploring and making their own connections. Sadly, school plays a huge role in squashing a child’s natural desire to learn. This ironic outcome helps to create an adult population that is less happy and more stressed than it would be if curiosity remained a priority throughout one’s educational career.

Teaching Kids Happiness and Innovation, Mike FerryAs a “mental conditioning” coach, I work with parents and teens to form habits for success in school and life. Curiosity is one of the qualities that I help my clients strengthen. When kids are curious, they learn more in the classroom. This tends to lead to higher academic achievement, which opens doors down the road. In addition, curiosity makes kids more creative. The more we learn, the more creative we become. Creative kids will be more attractive to potential employers, and they’ll shape a brighter future for all of us.

Want to help your kids strengthen (or recover) their curiosity? Here are some curiosity-boosting ideas that I share with my coaching clients:

– Be a patient parent. I know how difficult this can be. As a middle school history teacher, I am absolutely spent at the end of the day. By the time I come home to my own five children, most of my patience has evaporated. Despite my physical and mental exhaustion, I try to remind myself that my kids won’t be little forever. This is precious time, and it will be gone before I know it. After a walk around the neighborhood and some quiet time, my stress usually fades. Being in the moment makes it easier to answer questions and have meaningful discussions with my children. For more ideas on how to calm your brain and be a more mindful parent, check out my podcast episode, “Stop The Chatter.”

– Emphasize learning over grades. As parents, we recognize the importance of doing well in school. We want our kids to have the best possible educational and career paths in the future, and we know that report card grades determine what opportunities will be open to our children. This can lead parents to focus exclusively on the final result rather than valuing the learning process. When the report grade is all that matters, curiosity vanishes. On the other hand, parents can show that curiosity is important by taking an interest in what their children are learning at school. Is your daughter covering hurricanes or World War I in the classroom? Together, go to the Internet or the library to learn more. Turn the chore of school into an opportunity to make yourself smarter and more creative.

– Learn something new every day. Once you’ve communicated that learning is more important than grades alone, make continuous learning a part of your family’s routine. Do you know the countries of Europe? Could you identify all of them on a map? If not, start learning them here. Does your son love baseball? Maybe you could do some research on the history of the game. What games and sports are popular around the world? Find one that is unknown in your neck of the woods and have your kids teach it to their friends. When we get our kids (and ourselves) hooked on constant learning, we train our brains to look at everything with a curious eye.

I hope that these thoughts are helpful in your journey as a parent. Do you have other insights on how to boost curiosity at home? If so, I’d love to learn them! Feel free to contact me via my website, Facebook, or Twitter. ###

Mike Ferry is a mental conditioning coach, longtime middle school history teacher, father of five, and the author of Teaching Happiness And Innovation. His efforts to promote happiness and creativity have been featured in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and radio shows and podcasts around the world.

 

October 15, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Educators, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Kids with Self-Confidence (Dr. Frank Sileo)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkYoungsters that struggle with self-confidence have difficulty in most areas requiring performance and achievement. In this program from our archives, psychologist Dr. Frank Sileo discusses issues youngsters can face regarding self-confidence and how they can be helped and encouraged.
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Helping Kids with Self-Confidence, Frank J. SileoHow Much Do They Need?

How much self-confidence does a child or adolescent need? “Enough to function,”some might say.

But is that really true? Is that all we want for our children, enough self-confidence to function, to barely get by? No, we want more that that for them. We want them to have the ability to handle the challenges of life as they come, without being sidetracked by doubt or feelings of being less than capable.

And we want them to THRIVE, and we want them to encourage others to do the same.

Helping the Child That Struggles

But what about the youngster with poor self-confidence? What are the signs that tell us a child or teen is struggling? What can we do to help this youngster handle daily challenges or unique and new situations more effectively? How do we help him or her interpret a few mistakes as part of learning a new skill, and how do we encourage them not to beat themselves up with negative self-talk?

Don't Put Yourself Down in Circus Town, Frank J. SileoListen in to this excellent program as your host, Dr. James Sutton, interviews prominent child and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Frank J. Sileo, regarding issues of self-confidence in young people. It’s a timely topic, anytime.

Dr. Frank J. Sileo

Dr. Sileo is the founder and director of the Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. And, since 2010, he has been consistently recognized as one of New Jersey’s top kid doctors. Dr. Sileo has written numerous articles on a variety of topics related to mental health, and he has also written a number children’s picture books. One of them, Sally Sore Loser: A Story About Winning and Losing, was awarded a Gold Medal from the prestigious Moms’ Choice Awards. The focus of this program is his picture book for kids entitled Don’t Put Yourself Down in Circus Town: A Story About Self-Confidence. (27:41)

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

 

 

October 2, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Communication, Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment