Blogging on The Brightside

"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can." -The Little Engine That Could

“Castles were built a stone at a time.”

Irish Proverb

A belated St. Patrick’s Day post.


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“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen all at once.”

Paulo Coelho

When everything happens all at once, it takes discipline, organization, time management,   and efficient work to accomplish what needs to be done.  My friend just spent the last few months preparing for boards (6 exams), which she took all last weekend.  This week, she has to take 8 final exams.  Finding the willpower and motivation to sit at a desk and study for the hours required, to cram all the required material and skills, is a real challenge.  But if you’re like me or my friend, then you live for challenges like this.  She said “it’ll feel great when it’s all done.”  Despite all of the “it’s not in the arriving, it’s in the striving”-type quotes on our blog, striving is exhausting and arriving is satisfying.

Often when we are very busy, we wish that things would slow down.  How many times do you catch yourself thinking “if I just had another day.”  Many of my classmates wish they didn’t have classwork so that they could focus on their research.  I have that luxury, and it drives me crazy.  It takes a lot of discipline, organization, motivation, and patience to accomplish what needs to be done and avoid boredom.  For me, nothing is happening at all; I’m in the doldrums of life.  I know it’s only temporary, and I’m trying to enjoy it and make the best of it.  But my personality is really much better suited for the “all at once” brand of life.  It’s not quite bad enough that I add “drink coffee” to my to-do list in order to accomplish something, (although I have made gnocchi from scratch and started running again for no real reason) but the waiting game can bend me out of shape like a paperclip.

Whether everything is happening all at once or nothing is happening at all, you have the character to achieve what needs to be accomplished.  When you stop striving and start arriving, it’s going to feel great.

Have a great week everyone,



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“As in the beginning, so in the middle, so in the end.”

— Buddhist Saying, as described by Danielle LaPorte

I’m reading through a new book, full of kick-ass optimism and backbone-growing potential, and I happened upon this quote.

This post is a simple reminder to listen to your gut, to follow your intuitions. While I’m hoping that your “gut feelings” don’t lead you off of a cliff, sometimes it can be the biggest leaps of faith that remind you just how much you’re willing to risk to see yourself in a better moment, a better state of mind, a better life.

Listen to yourself in the beginning. Give yourself the best beginning, middle, and end that anyone could ask for.

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“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”

— Michael J. Fox


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“I’ll time you…”

I’m not really a kid person (before you check to see who write this post, it’s me, Ray… Carly was born to work with kids.) Except for the case of cousins and close family friends, kids who I know I can pick on without hurting their oversensitive parents’ feelings, I’d just rather watch someone’s dog than their kid. Still, for the past two summers I volunteered to watch a cabin full of 8 and 9-year-olds at summer camp and in doing so learned a very valuable lesson.

The unfailing motivator for children is the phrase “I’ll time you.” You can always bribe a dog with food of any kind, but I discovered quickly that bribing kids with food or candy isn’t as effective, especially as the week goes on. See, parents send their kids packages of sugar and sweets and other counselors give out candy as rewards. So “if you go hang up that towel I’ll give you a tootsie roll” is soon met with a retort of “that’s okay, my mom sent me a 6 pound snickers bar.”

“I’ll time you” can get you pretty far. “Let’s see how long we can go without anybody in the cabin talking. I’ll time you.” “Let’s see who can get changed the fastest. I’ll time you.” You can even use it to help them burn off their sugar high with “Let’s see who can do the obstacle course and swim 100 laps. I’ll time you.”

You know the trick is on when the kids start asking you to time them. “I’m going to the bathroom, time me!” And that’s precisely when you can use it against them. “If you don’t put some vegetables on your plate, I won’t time you when you eat your ice cream.” After all, ice cream tastes better when you’re getting timed.

But the strangest part about all of this is that I don’t wear a watch, despite my girlfriend’s dad telling me “You can’t have a good time without a good watch.” Sure, I pretend to count in my head. But kids never seem to catch on that half the time I forget to count, and consequently resort to very specific times like “36.78 seconds. Good! That’s 9.58 second improvement over last time.”

Besides the babysitting lesson, there is a moral to this post. We blog to support you, motivate you, and inspire you. Every single post gets classified under the “inspiration” category. But maybe we haven’t found your “I’ll time you” yet. Having that ultimate motivator, a passion that you work for perpetually, something you strive unceasingly to improve, is ultimately important. Maybe it’s advocacy- cancer, human rights, environmental. Maybe it’s personal improvement- weight loss and fitness, education, or traveling. Maybe it’s service in your church or community. Whatever drives you, motivates you beyond all sensibility, this week “I’ll time you.”



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“Happy is entirely up to you and always has been.”

— Janette Rallison

It’s up to you.

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“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

–Steve Jobs

A lot of teachers know from the time they have their first great teacher that they too will make a career of educating and influencing youth.  I grew up around a lot of teachers, and all of the good ones described teaching as a passion, often discovered early on.  Many chose to forgo more lucrative careers in order to do what they loved.

Pastors are another interesting crew.  While some of them grew up in pastors’ homes or become youth ministers because they loved youth group or younglife, many of them are called later in life.  The more clergy I meet, the more I learn stories of ex-engineers and former nurses turned to the cloth.

For some of us, finding what we love is a matter of trial and error.  Many of my young adult friends hated their first jobs, second jobs, and are trying a new career or retraining and going back to school.  This is admirable.

This isn’t the first time you’ve heard “do what you love,” not from us nor from any mentor or counselor, but the reminder never hurts.  Maybe you don’t wake up on the right side of the bed everyday, but with your goals in mind and the big picture in sight you should be passionate about your work.  We can work on your case of the Mondays (or Tuesdays, Wednesdays…Thursdays) together.



“’Baby,’ she says in a harsh whisper, ‘in this world, lots of people will try to grind you down. They need you to be small so they can be big. You let them think whatever they want, but you make sure you get yours. You get yours.’”

— Holly Black

Don’t let yourself be overworked, drained, used and abused. Do not worry about other people and forget yourself entirely.

You deserve to be happy. You deserve five minutes to yourself. You deserve to live your life for yourself.

Simply put, don’t forget to get yours.

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“Circumstances may cause interruptions and delays, but never lose sight of your goal.”

Mario Andretti

Andretti knows how to get from point a to point b fast, and a delay or interruption might cost him valuable seconds in the race.  But he was the best, because he was a master of keeping the goal in sight.  No matter what your circumstances, never forget your goals- your mission statement.




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“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

— Moliere

I don’t always write for other people on this blog. I believe that both Ray and myself write often for what we, ourselves, need to hear. This is something I know will help me make it through this week (and those that follow) in one piece.

I need the reminder that overcoming something (anything) is amazing. It provide an feeling of accomplishment and strength. It is awe-inspiring when you can turn around and see how far you’ve come. What may seem impossible to overcome is just your obstacles demonstrating the monstrous amount of strength you can gain from it in the end.

Take the challenges and obstacles presented to you and tell them to go straight to hell.

You will overcome this. Your glory days are right around the corner. Decide that you are bigger than this and prove it to yourself.

I hope you find strength you did not even know you had this week.

Love and Light,





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