Blogging on The Brightside

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

The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.

–Robin Williams, Patch AdamsBuzLaVyCYAAgy1v

 

While the loss of Robin Williams is tragic, we must remember the innumerable lessons in happiness, cheer, comedy, and laughter that he taught to us, sometimes, as in Dead Poets Society, quite literally.  He played some of the most iconic characters to ever have touched our hearts, like Peter Pan who taught us to never grow up, and Patch Adams, for whom laughter was the best medicine.  Mrs. Doubtfire exemplified that our parents will always be there for us, but even Genie couldn’t bring people back from the dead.

“The most radical act anyone can commit is to be happy.”  And I hope that you delight in stirring glee in someone else’s heart by making them smile, and laugh, and roll their eyes because, in his words,  “you’re only given a little of madness.  You must not lose it.”

 

 

 

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On Empathy and Elephants…

It’s not really our style to write without a quote or clip for inspiration. But I’ve been struggling with writer’s block all year, and today my VP of Operations shared a metaphor that I knew I had to pass on to you.

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Consider a man standing face to face with an elephant. When you ask him to describe his experience, he says that when the elephant flaps his giant ears, the man is cooled by the breeze. He describes looking past the long lashes and into the eyes, into the gentle and wise soul of his huge companion. He describes being wrapped in the pachyderm’s powerful trunk and passing handfuls of peanuts through the ivory tusks and into the mammoth mouth.

Now consider a second man who is standing on the wrong side of the same elephant. When he tells his tale (pun intended) he says “It’s a giant butt. No really…it’s just a giant butt. Baby got back. Yesterday, this thing peed, and I about drowned. It pooped, and I’m still looking for my car. It stinks. A lot.”

Empathy is seeing the whole elephant. When you’re standing up front, don’t forget that it’s not all motherhood and apple pie. Somebody’s standing on the other side and dealing with the consequences of the actions taken at the front. The view’s not so magnificent, and they’re going to want to join you up front soon. When you’re standing on the back-side, consider what’s going on up front. When is it your turn to take over at the helm? When you’re up front, wouldn’t you want to be sure that someone was going to clean up the peanuts from the other side? Empathy is about seeing the whole elephant.

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But there’s still no cure more heaven-sent as the chance to raise some hell!

When you are as old as I, my dear
And I hope that you never are
You will woefully wonder why, my dear
Through your cataracts and catarrh
You could squander away or sequester
A drop of a precious year
For when your best days are yester
The rest’er twice as dear….

What good is a field on a fine summer night
When you sit all alone with the weeds?
Or a succulent pear if with each juicy bite
You spit out your teeth with the seeds?
Before it’s too late stop trying to wait
For fortune and fame you’re secure of
For there’s one thing to be sure of, mate:
There’s nothing to be sure of!

Oh, it’s time to start livin’
Time to take a little from this world we’re given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all….

I’ve never wondered if I was afraid
When there was a challenge to take
I never thought about how much I weighed
When there was still one piece of cake
Maybe it’s meant the hours I’ve spent
Feeling broken and bent and unwell
But there’s still no cure more heaven-sent
As the chance to raise some hell

Everybody….

Oh, it’s time to start livin’
Time to take a little from this world we’re given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all….

Now when the drearies do attack
And a siege of the sads begins
I just throw these noble shoulders back
And lift these noble chins
Give me a man who is handsome and strong
Someone who’s stalwart and steady
Give me a night that’s romantic and long
And give me a month to get ready
Now I could waylay some aging roue
And persuade him to play in some cranny
But it’s hard to believe I’m being led astray
By a man who calls me granny

Oh, it’s time to start livin’
Time to take a little from this world we’re given
Time to take time, cause spring will turn to fall
In just no time at all….

Sages tweet that age is sweet
Good deeds and good work earns you laurels
But what could make you feel more obsolete
Than being noted for your morals?

Here is a secret I never have told
Maybe you’ll understand why
I believe if I refuse to grow old
I can stay young till I die
Now, I’ve known the fears of sixty-six years
I’ve had troubles and tears by the score
But the only thing I’d trade them for
Is sixty-seven more….

Oh, it’s time to keep livin’
Time to keep takin’ from this world we’re given
You are my time, so I’ll throw off my shawl
And watching your flings be flung all over
Makes me feel young all over

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“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

– Mark Twain

 

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“Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”

Mary Schmich

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“Whenever they say it can’t be done, remind them that they make a jellybean that tastes exactly like popcorn.”

–John Mayer

 

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“If you don’t like your fate, change it. There are no shackles on you.”

-Aida

This is from Elton John’s rock opera Aida, which I played a part in when my high school performed it in 2006.  I’m the one second from the left dressed like Elton John’s dominatrix.

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“I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.”

Arthur Rubinstein

One incredible attribute of the universe, which I have discovered, is the law of attraction.  Your thoughts and feelings tend to materialize into the things, people, situations, and events in your life.  That’s why it’s important for us to find ourselves thinking positively.  Success attracts success, and misery breeds failure.  You attract people like yourself.  When we wake up grateful for the wonderful things in our lives, they tend to stay in our lives.  When we are excited and engaged in our work, work is exciting and engaging.  Love life.  It will love you back.

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“Courage is found in unlikely places.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

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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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