Thoughts to Ponder

“Burn every bridge but love.”

Martha Beck*

That statement shook me to my center when I first read it. Does this mean I cannot feel anger, frustration, disappointment…? Do I need to turn into a Dalai Lama clone overnight.

Not at all. We have a range of emotions for a reason. We’re born with them and we need to know how to use them for our highest good. Let’s look at an example:

The city announces it is going to build a highway through our neighborhood. Most likely, we are going to feel anger, resentment, a need to get even…. Are we going to act on those feelings? Or can we go to the next city council meeting to ask questions: who, what, when, where, why and how? We can ask questions in a respectful, yet firm tone and quietly listen to their answers. Or, we can yell and denounce the board before they have a chance to respond.

Which would gain us the greatest amount of information and understanding? Once we have that information we can begin to plan our route to stopping the highway. Or, we may decide their reasoning is valid and prepare to sell our home for the best price possible, which might be the contractor’s offer, and start looking for a new home.

You can see that at each step we felt the emotions, but responded respectfully. Or, we could have reacted angrily and felt every moment of stress (high blood, pressure, chest pains, headaches) until we give up the fight, or carry our resentment into our old age.

By facing the situation thoughtfully and acting respectfully to all concerned, we are showing ourselves love, as well as those responsible and our neighbors. Our resentment becomes acceptance. Acceptance becomes love.

Living in love does not mean that we won’t feel the normal emotions. It merely means that we examine and accept or change our situation as we are guided by our conscience. We take action according to what is the highest good for us, and others.

Spirit, Please guide me to look at the situations in my life as opportunities to grow into a better person. Show me how to discard old, and new, resentments and angers. And, so it is.

  • Compass Points by Martha Beck, July 19, 2018, info@marthabeck.com
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Thoughts to Ponder

“Live today by the Buddha’s words:

‘You could search the whole world and never find anyone as

deserving of your love as yourself.'”

Martha Beck*

We’ve heard similar words in many forms over the years. “Love your enemy as yourself.” “Be good to yourself.” And many more.

Most of us do this occasionally. Many of us go through our day saying to ourselves, “That was a dumb thing to do.” “I can’t do that, I don’t know how.” “I wish my hair was curly, less gray, smoother, longer, shorter….” “My nose it too long, wide, drippy….” We all have our private lists of what is wrong with us.

What if we turned that practice around? “I did a good job dusting. The house looks nicer now.” “I handled that difficult situation well.” Do you think that might change our outlook on life?

I’ve tried it and it works – very well – when I remember to do it. Sometimes I fall into a gloomy pit and everything seems wrong and unchangeable. The longer I’m in the pit the worse everything looks. My hair is wrong. I don’t have enough energy. I make too many mistakes. A good friend brought me food gifts. I thought she just felt sorry for this beaten-down woman who couldn’t afford to own food. This winter and spring I was deep in that pit, and life was a drain on my body and soul.

I’m not sure what caused the turn around. I think I was just tired of being tired. I told myself to look and act on the bright side. I asked Higher Power to nudge me along the right path. Soon, I found myself saying things like: “I did dishes today and the kitchen looks nice.” “I did laundry and the clean clothes feel good.” After a while I could say, “I solved that problem. Good job.” “I handled that situation well and both of us are satisfied.”

I till have a long way to go to be the person I’d like to be. But, I’ve come far enough that the world seems a kinder, safer place. My friends and relatives are more supportive and loving. My friend still brings me food gifts. Now, I realize she is a kind, thoughtful person, and I receive the gifts with joy and gratitude. Yesterday she gave me four green tomatoes. I grinned from ear to ear and cried, “How wonderful! I can enjoy a couple meals of fried green tomatoes. Thank you.!” We both came out of that encounter feeling better.

Spirit: Thank you for nudging me to change my attitude. I know that life will be better from now on. I’ll still have situations to overcome, but they’re not so daunting if I look at them as challenges rather than disasters.”

 

 

Nothing is Permanent

The only way to find permanent joy

is by embracing the fact that nothing is permanent.

Martha Beck*

May times we’ve heard the axiom that “joy is fleeting.” We know this is true because we realized that a good word from our supervisor lasts only until the next suggestion for improvement. Or we get an A in History only to discover that we earned only a C in Math. Those events happen all the time because we tend to feel that joy is temporary and woe is permanent.

“Oh, I’ve been feeling terrible for a few days. Will this situation last the rest of my life? Woe is me!” You understand, of course, that I’m not talking about terminal illness, but temporary ailments like a cold, muscle ache, or situational malaise.

“My boss hates me. I have the worst luck finding supervisors. They must all be mean.”

“I’m too fat. Why can’t  be skinny like my friend?”

We may be stuck on the pitty pot for many years or, if we’re lucky, for just a few minutes or hours. That depends on our world view. If we are convinced that nothing will work out right, it won’t. If we believe we’ll always be poor, we will. If we’re convinced we’ll always feel ill, we will.

Let us take a look at each of those “life is terrible” scenarios mentioned earlier:

Do we have a cold or sad situation? Both bring on physical and mental distress. But, guess what? If we take our medicine and rest our cold will dissipate. Perhaps we lost the rent money playing the lottery. A disaster to be sure. But what if we put a portion of the amount we lost in the bank each week. If we can afford to lose it gambling, we can afford to save it. Just imagine how soon you’ll accumulate a vacation fund.

Does our boss really hate us, or do we have an “I don’t care” attitude? Our attitude is reflected in all our actions and interactions. If we just do the minimum to collect a pay check, everyone knows it, no matter how polite we are. If we select a job that inspires us or that we enjoy, then our coworkers and clients see that and respond accordingly – and so does the boss.

For years I chose jobs in which I sat in a cubicle and bemoaned the fact that I wasn’t part of the “gang.” Finally, I chose a job that pays less, but involves interacting with visitors all day long. Meeting new people daily helps me feel useful and friendly. Sometimes I need to seek additional help. Instead of moaning, “Why do the ask for the impossible?” I go to my supervisor and say something like, “This person would like ____. Is that something I can handle, or do you need to do it?” Because I changed my attitude, my guests and coworkers responses are friendly and fun.

For most of us the obesity situation is controllable. We can choose to eat sweets and fatty foods, the feel ugly and suffer indigestion at the same time. Shopping for clothes is even more demoralizing. Or we can choose to get help from a weight loss program. Or if we feel helpless to control our intake we can work the Overeaters Anonymous program. Both ways offer us alternative attitudes and behaviors.

These are all situations I had to learn the hard way and sometimes still struggle to see sunlight through the fog of my mood. Because I’m chronologically advanced, I tend to easily fall into the “rest of my life” thought mode. But, if I can stay in the “This is a new day with new opportunities” attitude, I find it easier to stay in the moment.

Staying in the moment makes staying in the “nothing is permanent” attitude easier.

Spirit, I know in my brain that nothing is permanent, especially my problems. Help me to feel the joy of each moment as it occurs.

  • Compass Points by Martha Beck, June 19, 2018, info@marthabeck.com

Relax and be at peace

Nothing important ever comes to you because you feel desperate to get it.
Go to peace first.
Everything you long for will meet you there.
Martha Beck*

When I read this message a few days ago, I realized that I had been doing a lot of either-or thinking and neither option was pleasing to me. One solution would make me too tired. The other wouldn’t provide enough money. Other options didn’t seem to fit my needs and wants. What to do?

I worried. I stressed. My blood pressure went up. Headaches prevailed. You know the routine. We’ve all been there.

Reading this quote caused my brain to shift gears. “I know that. Why haven’t I gone to peace before this? Blaming myself for what I had not done was useless. In fact, it added more stress to the situation. I must try a calmer way to reach a decision.

I  took a few deep breaths and sat quietly for a while until my racing heart became still. Then I whispered, “I choose to be at peace with this situation. The answer will come at the proper time. The situation will resolve itself for my highest good. Thank you.” Then I went about my business.

So far, I don’t have a decision, but a few ideas are edging into my awareness and suggesting I do some basic research. Best of all, I’m not stressing. I know that a solution will present itself at the appropriate time.

Spirit, I thank you for bringing this message when I needed it most. I’m grateful that your quiet assurance is available to each of us. All we have to do is ask. And, so it is.

  • Martha Beck’s Compass Points, April 5, 2018

Sharon Dillon, April 17, 2018

Continue reading “Relax and be at peace”

Daughters Tackle the Army

Thoughts to Ponder

February 28, 2017

A year after their brother joined the Marines, my identical twin daughters left home to join the Army. I didn’t write an essay about their departure and it disappointed them. When they asked why I told them the truth. The stories would have been almost identical except for writing daughters instead of son and Army instead of Marines. Now I can look back and write what I was unable to say back then.

I was so proud of my girls choosing the Army both to serve and to learn a usable skill. Yet I worried about them differently than I had my son. I knew they could surmount whatever challenges they faced in basic training, but as girls they were much more vulnerable in so many ways than their older brother was. Because they chose different job specialties, one a food inspector, the other personnel manager, they went to basic and advanced training at different locations. These two girls, who had functioned almost as one entity for 17 years, were now forced to be individuals, relying on themselves.

All I could do was trust God that they would be safe. As far as I know they were, but I also know they still hide unpleasant facts from me. Whatever they faced they became strong women. As they matured both married career Army men. Both men were good choices. One daughter gave me a granddaughter and grandson. In turn they have given me five great-grandsons so far. The other daughter has become a close friend and support for her stepsons and their families.

These women have been my cheerleaders, strength, motivation, wisdom and caretakers. They encouraged me when I went to college, they supported me when I faced life-changing decisions and cheered me during down times. They monitor my health and support me when my spirit is low. Best of all, I feel that they do it out of love rather than duty. Sometimes I think that is more than I deserve. Even so, I am so proud of them and brag on them every chance I get. Most of that bragging is vocal, but it’s long past time to put those words in writing.

So, I’m taking this opportunity to say, “Linda and Sarah and am so proud of you. You’ve become strong women who exemplify all that is honorable and compassionate. You are role models for younger women – and for me. I trust your words and actions and probably rely on you more than I should. Thank you for gracing my life.”

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 Echoes of Your Choices, a motivational book, and 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

Thoughts to Ponder

February 28, 2017

“Here are the two best prayers I know:

‘Help me, help me, help me’ and

‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

Anne Lamott1

“I would maintain that thanks are the best form of thought;

and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G.K. Chesterton2

Those two quotes sum up the main teachings of any belief practice. Remember those sermons about sin and repentance or rules for correct spiritual practice? As we think of the rules we’ve been taught, we may wonder where this topic is going.

However, if we stop to analyze those lessons we will remember that the two main points our spiritual leader was trying to make were:

  • I’m in trouble and need help.
  • Help received. Thank you.

After considering the main points of those sermons, we may stop to consider events when our situations improved, perhaps unexpectedly. We were happy that it was resolved and wondered how it all happened. Often, we assigned those small or large miracles to mere coincidences. Possibly, if we were spiritually inclined, we might say something like, “God was on my side that time.” That is expressing gratitude or “happiness doubled by wonder.”

While I acknowledge God as the Supreme, Eternal Being, I tend to anthropomorphize that entity and the angels or spirit guides as someone I can talk to like my best friend. I like to start my prayers with gratitude. I wake up in the morning and say good morning and thank you to God for giving me a new day and the gifts of sun, trees…. Then I tell the Higher Power that on this day I choose to be the highest and best me I can be. After that I ask for the guidance and the ability to do what is mine to do. As I end this conversation I express my gratitude again, knowing that all that happens this day will be in my Highest Good.

Those of you who know me personally are probably saying her life does not reflect the words she is writing. That is so true. I tend to take the easy way out in many aspects of my life. Then I wonder why certain miracles are not forthcoming.

Spiritual teacher Doreen Virtue3 advises us that God and the angels will always help but you must first ask. If I follow that advice and ask my Higher Power to assist me as I do what is on my to-do list, each situation is resolved quickly, leaving me to wonder what the big deal was – and grateful.

The point of that confession is to admit that my Eternal Source has not let me down. I cannot blame God for not giving me my heart’s desire. Instead, I must admit that I often do not follow divine prompting and take the action that is mine to take.

Spirit, Thank you for this new day, new beginning. I ask that you will show me what action is mine to take today. I will ask for help when I need it and express gratitude when that help appears. And, so it is.

1Quotables, O the Oprah Magazine, September 2016

2ibid

3Virtue, Doreen, Hay House World Angel Summit, audio, “Real World Angel Experiences”, February 28, 2017

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 Echoes of Your Choices, a motivational book, and 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

We can use fear for good

Thoughts to Ponder

January 31, 2017

“Fear is faith that it won’t work out.”

Sister Mary Tricky*

 “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself….”

Franklin D. Roosevelt**

 

Recently I wrote about life being stressful and the need to find relief by finding ways to relax and laugh. Since then I have become aware that stress is often a disguise for fear.

Fear tends to be sneaky and finds many ways to insert itself into our lives. One way it manifests in my life is that I say that I don’t like roller coasters because they upset my stomach.  What I really mean is that I am afraid I’ll vomit and humiliate myself. Gosh, so that’s why thrill rides are often called vomit comets. I also say I’m afraid that I’ll drop my cell phone, knowing that it would shatter into many pieces. What I really fear is that I will fall out and my body will shatter into pieces. That’s an unlikely scenario, but it is real to me.

Many people face their fear by riding the coaster and enjoying the adrenaline rush. Their anticipation of the rush is stronger than their fear. Think I’ll ever get there? Nah! Besides, my cardiologist would get mad at me.

I recall hearing that anger is the face of fear and know that is true. I’ve seen this happen in my life and I see it happening in the world around me. Some people face their fear by protesting. Others yell at the television. Still others have health failures because their bodies can’t handle the stress.

This became all too real to me recently. A couple weeks ago I had a scary dream that caused my body to tremor for several hours until I spoke with a trusted advisor. That person led me in a meditation that showed me I was fighting Fear with a capitol F that is a part of me. I have to accept that, but I don’t have to live by Fear’s rules. That exercise lowered Fear’s impact to a lower case f on an important portion of my life and gave me freedom to try certain things that I’d been delaying for fear of failure.

However, over the past several days I’d noticed that my body was rebelling, a pain here, an ache there, and so on. I tried relaxation and physical exercise to no avail. Finally, I felt prompted to calm myself and just let my thoughts guide me. Those thoughts reminded me that this fear had a different cause and that sometimes it gives us pain to keep us stuck in a dark personal space, that place where fear controls us.

Then my thoughts (guides) gave me the realization that I have a platform for sharing this information and that I should use it because many others besides me are living in the same fear. They think it their bodies are failing, but they aren’t. Their bodies are simply holding the fear that is preventing us from moving forward. They think they are angry, but they are afraid their world is crumbling around them. We can’t stop those people whose actions distress us from doing what they are determined to do, but we can lessen their impact by not concentrating on the “what if” aspect of what we see.

I’m not going to be ingenuous and say that I no longer have fear. I don’t want to be fear-free. After all, fear is what keeps me from stepping in front of a fast moving vehicle. Instead, I asked fear to take its proper place in my life, keeping me safe when necessary while allowing me to move forward in other areas, such as writing this short essay.

For those who aren’t sure that angels/guides can teach us:

“The answers will always be discovered when we connect to Mother Earth.”

A Window of Wisdom***

We do this by sitting on the ground and feeling the Earth’s energy. If we’re not as agile as we used to be, we can sit outside in a lawn chair with our bare feet touching the ground. As we relax, we can feel our stress drain into the soil. If we leave our feet there a bit longer, we can feel regenerating energy flowing back up our feet and legs.

Spirit,

Thank you for giving us the gift of fear and showing us how we can use it for our protection without allowing it to dominate our lives and prevent us from doing the job we are on Earth to do. Thank you for making us aware that we can use fear for reasonable protection rather than a barrier to prevent us from being who we are meant to be.

 And, so it is.

* Andrews, Robert, The New Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations, page 480. Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933 (also used in other FDR addresses and by other world leaders)

**Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, page 114, Prentiss Hall

***Window 1397-Step Outside, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/windo-1397-step-outside/

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 Echoes of Your Choices, a motivational book, and 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

Laughter really is the best medicine

Thoughts to Ponder

April 8, 2016

“The more stressful, baffling, or unpleasant your situation,

The more important it is to laugh at it.”

Martha Beck*

“You grow up the day you have your first real laugh, at yourself.”

Ethel Barrymore**

Life has been stressful for all of us for quite some time. All sorts of things have weighed on our minds: economy, weather, politics and our own personal issues. We’re allowing ourselves to turn into a nation of curmudgeons.

It’s time to reverse that trend and remember to laugh again. During our nation’s stressful times, humor helped people laugh and relax just a little. A few of those people are President Abraham Lincoln, who loved a good anecdote, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Erma Bombeck, and Robin Williams. They found ways to make distressing events funny. Every drama includes one or two of humorous incidents to break up the heaviness. How often have you been in a serious meeting where little is accomplished, then someone makes a joke, everyone laughs and immediately you are finding solutions to your dire dilemma.

Let’s dial back on the news and drama shows on television and focus on what is happening closer to home. We’ll see our children, our pets and, most of all, ourselves in a new light. Rent a funny movie and kick-start laughing with the whole family. The next time you spill your cereal on yourself, don’t worry about the mess, but imagine how funny you look to the rest of your family.

Spirit, Thank you for the ability to laugh at ourselves. Often we don’t realize what a gift humor is until we’ve been surrounded by seriousness and someone makes a joke in the middle of it all. And, so it is.

*Beck, Martha, Daily Inspiration for January 19, 2017, info@marthabeck.com

** Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, pg 169, Prentiss Hall

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 Echoes of Your Choices, a motivational book, and 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

Holiday Sanity

Thoughts to Ponder

 “If you long for the world to be a saner, more loving place,

please be advised that you must start inside.

Care for your sick, anxious, exhausted self as lovingly

as you want to care for every suffering thing.”

*Martha Beck

This is such a busy time of year. Many holiday events keep us busy, so busy we often feel frazzled rather than joyful. We want to attend special holiday programs, spend extra time with our families, buy gifts for everyone who has graced our lives this year, decorate our houses, cook bountiful holiday meals with all the traditional foods and enjoy the loving spirit of the season.

Whew! Can really do all that? We try. Then feelings of inadequacy begin to creep into our psyches. We begin to criticize ourselves for not being up to the gigantic tasks we set for ourselves. We’ve pushed our bodies and our minds beyond what they were intended to do. How can we enjoy the holidays when we are exhausted and stressed?

Perhaps it’s time to remember that we are called human BEINGS rather than human DOINGS for a reason. This is the time when we must do as Beck suggests and care for ourselves “as lovingly as you want to care for every suffering thing.” Our Higher Power wants us to enjoy life, to be healthy, happy and sane. How do we accomplish this seemingly impossible task? How do we take care of everyone and ourselves too?

Beck answers this in her December 19th message:

“One little thing. Just do one little thing. The first one little thing is to get a piece of paper and write down ALL THE THINGS. Then eat ice cream or pie, for purposes of recovery. Then decide on the most pressing one of ALL THE THINGS, and do one little thing about it.”

Sounds simple, yet in our complex world this can be very hard to do. We don’t know how to choose the most pressing activity. We have to finish gift shopping, buy groceries at the last minute so nothing is stale or wilted, do laundry so we all look good at the concert, fix a treat for the office party and on and on and on.

Perhaps the most pressing thing is to read a story with our child, or tell our spouse that we are glad that he or she is in our lives. Or just maybe the most pressing thing is to take a nap and awaken refreshed. We can only decide for ourselves what is most important. No one else can make that decision for us.

Spirit: Thank you for bringing this valuable lesson to our attention when we need it most. We are finite humans, not the super heroes we perceive ourselves to be. Yet by taking care of ourselves and trusting that with You all things are possible, we can often do heroic deeds – one moment at a time. And, so it is.

*Beck, Martha, Martha’s Daily Inspiration, December 8, 2016, info@marthabeck.com

**ibid, December 19,2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 21, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.img_0686

Gratitude without platitude

Thoughts to Ponder

 “… When you receive, not only do you affirm your own worthiness

and open the way for more,

but you make possible greater joys for the giver….

*The Universe

So many holidays this time of year can lead to stress or to joy. That choice is entirely up to us. We start the season with Halloween and giving candy to Trick or Treaters. While we’re still eating the leftovers we’re shopping for Thanksgiving. We cook for days and dinner dishes aren’t finished yet when stores begin their Black Friday sales. From then on, preparing for all the winter gift giving opportunities keeps us on our toes, trying to avoid traffic jams at the malls, watching the ads for sales and telling the kids that, “That expensive toy may not be in Santa’s budget this year.”

Each winter we have Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Years, all gift giving and receiving opportunities. We go to store after store looking for perfect gifts. Some of us actually started craft projects months ago. Either way we are putting a lot of thought and effort into our gifting opportunities.

We should put just as much effort into our receiving opportunities. This is not to say we should heap flatteries over an unwanted item. But we should recognize that the giver made an effort to find something we’d like and acknowledge that. One example of not receiving graciously is my mother who was taught to be a humble receiver. Humble is good, degrading yourself is not.

No matter what I gave her it was too much and/or too expensive. After years of her denigrating herself as well as my gifts, I said, “Mom, you take all the fun out of giving.” To her question of how, I replied that each birthday and Christmas I tried to find the perfect gift. Each time she said it was too much. Her negative comments made me wonder why I tried so hard to please her. After a moment of silence, she responded, “My friend told me last week that I take the blessing out of giving.” I said, “Your friend is correct. Can you just say thank you and stop there?”

Can we, each of us, offer sincere gratitude for gifts received without extraneous commentary? That is unless the gift is really fantastic. In that situation we can bubble over with complimentary adjectives.

I must admit that bit of wisdom did not originate with me. After years of saying that gifts were “too much” a friend gave me that same talk. Fortunately, I listened to her advice and years later my mom listened to mine.

Spirit: You shower us with gifts every day and we express our gratitude by thanking you for the new day, new opportunities, trees, flowers, grass, birds, animals and more. We know that you freely give those gifts that we can never earn. We express our gratitude by enjoying those gifts. We can we do no less in our personal interactions. And, so it is.

*A Note from the Universe, www.tut.com, December 2, 2016

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 2, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.