Work is better than Wishes

Thoughts to Ponder

April 29, 2016

 “…Many are waiting for their life to take off.

Who’s going to tell them that this could be their problem?

Don’t wait, do something, anything, everything you can think of.”

The Universe*

This message rings true. How many years have we wasted waiting for life to take off, for success to arrive, for a gigantic pay raise?

Well, we can all agree that’s not going to happen unless we put some effort behind the wait. We hear so many stories about people achieving instant success–overnight sensations. We don’t hear that the musician played for years at local bars for what beer he could drink during his show. We don’t hear that the famous artist waited tables while earning an MFA degree. We don’t hear about the writer who has fourteen unsold novels and 100 rejection letters in her closet.

I must admit that I am one of those who quit when the going got hard. My parents believed that success belonged to the wealthy and that poor people worked until they died – still poor. But, I can’t blame my parents. I had more opportunities than they, yet always hoped that prosperity would come from the end of a fairy’s wand. Of course, life didn’t turn out that way. I had some successes and some failures and overall have earned a place a little higher on the prosperity ladder than my parents enjoyed.

Still, I always wanted to say, “I did this” or “I was presented that award.” It may be that one day I’ll be able to say those things, but I’ve finally learned that, as much as I don’t want to, I need to work for what I want. It took me long enough to face that fact. One role model who inspires me is Thomas Edison, inventor of the electric light bulb, the phonograph and many other useful items. He said,

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Work is what I always tried to avoid. So, here I am, just now learning about being willing to work. Sometimes it’s still hard. I get up in the morning and want to read the paper and reply to emails while I relax in my recliner. Then I choose to go for a walk or solve a puzzle, but not work. It’s not easy to break a life-long habit of waiting for success to fall in my lap.

But, here I am putting these words on paper. This means I have to start taking steps to reach my goals.

Spirit, Thank you for this awareness, even though it has come late in life. If I’m willing to put in the effort, I know that all will turn out for my highest good. Just as we must make an effort to be kind and caring, we must also make an effort to earn our successes. And, so it is.

*Mike Dooley, TUT – A Note from the Universe, April 25, 2016, theuniverse@tut.com

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

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Choices

Thoughts to Ponder

April 18, 2016

 “A major advantage of age is learning to accept people without passing judgment.”

Liz Carpenter*

Most of us have learned to judge people by their age, size, color, wealth, education and many other non-specific criteria that we have stashed away in our minds. Often we judge those who don’t meet our standards harshly. Other times we can dismiss those differences with a “different strokes for different folks” attitude. Being able to accept other people for who they are is an attitude most of us cultivate.

Today, however, I want to discuss a must more difficult challenge – accepting ourselves where we are each and every moment. Most of us have learned to accept ourselves most of the time. Periodically, we still denigrate ourselves with “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. To some extent, that is just human nature. We have a choice. We can live with and nurture our petty complaints or we can look at the big picture. We’re alive. We’re functioning to whatever ability we have and are able to feel empathy for others.

This last was a choice I denied myself yesterday. I woke up feeling deprived, abused, neglected and generally in a sorry mood. I was upset because over the past few years I’ve had some health issues, annoying and inconvenient, but in the larger view, rather petty. I ranted at my God, angels, guides, and whomever else might have been listening. “I’m tired of all these health issues! If I had the energy I could have done this activity. If I hadn’t had to spend so much money on medications, physical therapy and dental work I could have gone on this trip or done that project. I’m angry. I want to spend my time and energy on having fun, not on health issues.” The worst part was that I shared my anger with a kind, young man whose mother can’t eat solid food. I’m sure she wishes that her health issues were as minor as mine.

This morning I awoke with a lesson that I’ve shared here in the past, but had been floating around in my miasma of anger and fear. Yes, fear. If I’m this decrepit now, what will life be like in another 10 years? The truth is I probably have another 10 years or 20 or more to learn what life holds for me.

The most important lesson is that we cannot change who and what we are until we accept who and what we are today, in this very moment. I had to accept that I was angry over relatively easily handled problems. The doctor sent me to physical therapy to relieve what has turned out to be temporary pain. If I didn’t spend money on therapy I may have eventually lost the use of my arm. What would have that cost? My recent bout with breathing issues is healing with prescription medications. What would have been the cost without that option? Expensive dental work provided me with a new tooth. What would have been the long-term cost of not being able to eat crunchy food?

Each of us faces his/her own personal issues to complain about and accept or not accept. We all have our personal heroes who have borne difficulties that we can only imagine, yet triumphed in life. Helen Keller and Steven Hawking are two who come immediately to mind. Keller was deaf and blind, yet blossomed into a woman we often quote for inspiration. Hawking cannot control his body, yet his brain continues to astound us on a regular basis. They continue to inspire us to move forward, no matter what. As long as life is, we have hope.

Spirit,

Thank you for putting our problems in perspective. Thank you for showing us that acceptance and gratitude are the basis for a happy life. Thank you for giving us the ability to see the positive outcomes of our negative experiences. Thank you for giving us another day to live in gratitude.

And, so it is.

*Carpenter, Liz, The Treasury of Women’s Quotations, pg. 20, Carolyn Warner, Prentiss Hall, 1992

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com

Tooth Fairy – Changed Tactics

It used to be that the Tooth Fairy gave boys and girls money for their teeth. Now he charges for his services. How did that come to be? I’m not sure, but this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

My parents grew up during the Great Depression. When they lost their baby teeth they were handed a clean rag to bite down on and complimented on growing up. By the 1950s when I lost my primary teeth, Ms. Tooth Fairy left me a dime for my first tooth and a nickel for the second. After that I was given a Kleenex and congratulated on my achievement. TF scolded me for attempted extortion when I asked for money for the other teeth that fell out. Actually, the lack of cash was beneficial. No money, no candy, no cavities. One question has nagged me over all these years. What does the Tooth Fairy do with all those teeth she collects?

Along came the 1970s and my children became more sophisticated. They wrote notes to the Tooth Fairy requesting a quarter and a rhyme.

Their efforts paid off. The Tooth Fairy left them 50 cents for their first tooth and 25 cents thereafter. Still not a fortune, but at least the Big Guy shelled out for each tooth and took time to write a short funny verse.

Tooth Fairy had to fly to Germany to look under my grandchildren’s pillows. Since TF has small wings, I’m guessing that she had to buy airline tickets for those trips. She couldn’t have had much cash left after all those trans-oceanic trips. Even so, I’m sure they made out pretty well.

Now my four great-grandsons are keeping him busy, dropping dollar bills under pillows, even for a tooth that slid down one little boy’s throat while he was eating. Other teeth have been dropped on the way to their pillows, but The Molinator* still deposits cash for every tooth.

I understand that inflation costs the Tooth Fairy more each generation. Everything else costs more. Why not teeth? However, I don’t understand why Tooth Fairy is now charging me to retrieve my recently lost tooth. Did she go broke serving all those little children? Was it a dollar fine for each time I forgot to brush my teeth at bedtime?

All I can do is explain how it all happened. A few months ago at my regular check-up my dentist gasped when he saw my x-ray. A cavity had formed under a crown on a 12-year molar. After assuring me that I was not ready to face a toothless old-age, he explained that the Tooth Fairy would need to return to dental college to learn how to replace a tooth.

After graduation TF began a procedure that included multiple x-rays and all sorts of strange equipment. The most traumatic event was her extraction of the affected tooth. When TF realized that I snore like a saw mill and that my exhalations have the power of a hurricane, she decided not to try a sleep extraction but to use an ordinary numbing medication.

She stabbed me several times with a syringe filled with happy juice. After a few minutes I was lying in the reclining chair smiling up at her with a cotton filled mouth. She firmly grasped the tooth and began tugging. Nothing happened. She tried again, wiggling the tooth a bit. Then harder and still nothing. Fianlly she grabbed a chisel and a hammer and broke the tooth in two. Pretty soon TF was leaning over me, tugging with all her might. Finally, she climbed on my chest to get a better grip, bracing my jaw with her knee to keep it from dislocating. Finally, the first half of the tooth popped out, almost banging TF on her own chin from her exertion. The second half slid out easily.

After all that TF inserted a place holder for the new tooth. From the sounds and her motions, I was able to visualize what was happening. First she used a Black and Decker electric drill to make a hole in the jaw bone. That didn’t take long. Then TF inserted a place-holder peg with a ratchet wrench. As her hand moved back and forth to tighten the peg I felt like I was under construction. When she completed this phase of my oral repairs I told TF what I had imagined. She confirmed my suspicion by saying that was exactly what had happened. Then she explained that she honed her skills at home by making wee doll houses using a full range of tiny construction tools. That analogy continued this morning when TF inserted my new tooth, ratcheting the permanent peg into place and sealing it with a caulking gun. Oh, the material is partially zirconian, so I now have a fake diamond smile. I even have a specially designed tooth brush. It looks like a teeny, tiny bottle brush.

When I asked for a $1 for my lost tooth, Tooth Fairy just rolled on the floor laughing. She reminded me that children’s teeth simply become loose and fall out. She just plucks the clean, dry teeth from under pillows. For all the trouble I gave her she demanded the title to my car and a second mortgage on my home. I’m sure the new tooth will be worth all the cost and effort. But, gosh, I can’t even go around to my friends and say, “See my new tooth.” It’s just not polite behavior for woman who has long since passed her 9th birthday.

*From ”The Santa Claus” movie series

© Sharon Dillon, April 12, 2016

And that has made all the difference

Thoughts to Ponder

April 8, 2016

“…Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the road less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Robert Frost*

As we travel through our days sometimes the road is a smooth, easy, lovely ride. Other times we hit small bumps or potholes that damage our egos and indicate that we are traveling the wrong road and need to make a detour, sooner rather than later. We can keep driving down that road until our car is wrecked and our souls are bleeding.

Why do we continue this disastrous pattern? Often we don’t see another road we cab travel. Or we see an alternate road but are afraid to make the turn because the old road is familiar. We know where the bumpy road will take us. We don’t know what will happen if we change directions.

Those fears are valid. We don’t know where the new road will take us. Often we are taught from childhood that we must follow a certain path, no matter what. Fear of change can be a generational roadblock. Other parents teach their children to go for the prize. A friend once told me that he was taught to shoot for the stars and if he only reached the moon he’d still be further than had he remained Earth bound.

My own upbringing was more along the fearful lines. If I were to step out of my role something terrible would happen. I would live to regret my rash behavior. I believed that for many situations, like speaking up at work, but in others I took chances and am glad I did. I had to change my direction several times. While many decisions had serious repercussions they always came with a gift that made my life better.

Some examples:

  • My first marriage was a disaster, but my three wonderful children made life worthwhile.
  • I left that marriage not knowing what might happen and learned that I was capable of earning a living for my young family.
  • After my children were grown I enrolled in an elite college with only $25 dollars in my pocket. I graduated at age 47 with less student debt than anticipated. That degree led to better jobs.
  • At 55 I chose early retirement and a severely reduced benefit to move across the country to live near my daughters. That move allowed me to watch my grandchildren reach adulthood and give me four great-grandsons that are the delight of my life. And, another baby is on the way.
  • In 2013 my favorite online inspirational writer chose to close her blog. Uncharacteristically, I chose to continue her work with Thoughts to Ponder. While my following is not as large as hers, the number is growing. Most of all I feel satisfaction in doing my part to make the world a more peaceful place.

All that is a long way to say that it is never too late to change directions. I’m now looking for other ways to expand my life and new roads to travel. If I don’t fly among the stars I’m still a lot further than if I’d never started this journey.

I urge you to take a risk and take “the road less travelled.” You may face some unpleasant situations but you will have gained so much more.

Spirit,

Thank you for showing us that we have options. We can change directions as often as necessary to reach our goals. By exploring new roads we learn that we have talents we never expected. Those talents will lead us down more roads and to new adventures. Those choices might not all lead to the stars, but they will certainly get us further on our journey than if we stay focused on the potholes in front of us.

And, so it is.

*Frost, Robert, “The Road not Taken,” in Mountain Interval, 1916.

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com