Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gratitude Part 2

“There are two ways to get enough: one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.: —G.K. Chesterton

I love this quote and have been using it in my signature line. Most of the quotes I use are ones I need to hear and be reminded of. If they help someone else, that’s great, too. But for me, I need to know there is more than one way to get enough. And the easiest is not to acquire more, but to desire less.

I’m celebrating my birthday today (58, but I don’t look a day over 57), and I look around my office and see all the things I’ve accumulated. I’m grateful to have all these material things, but I’m learning to desire less. I’ve always been into new electronic gadgets, and I love my iPods (yes, more than one) and computers (also plural). I’m thrilled to have all these toys, but like a kid (58-year-old kid) I tire of them quickly and look for the newest, greatest, -most-to-be-coveted trinket on the block.

What an impact Chesterton’s quote is having on my life now. I desire less, learn to enjoy what I have, and—here’s where the gratitude part comes in—I’m grateful for the gifts. Not that I don’t have my moments. I do. I can get tired and crabby, and forget all of the wonderful things God has provided for me.

But it’s a learning curve, and I’m happy to say my gratitude chart is showing upward progress. I’m grateful that it’s not a pass-fail test, and I’m grateful to be learning it even though it’s come closer to the end of my life.

But, I’m happy to say, this old dog is still learning new tricks.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gratitude, Part 1

As I approach my twilight years (but I’m not too close yet), I want to age gracefully. Good health certainly makes that process easier, and I’ve tried to take care of myself, but the mental state is more important to me than the physical. I’ve been around elderly people who are grumpy, mean, and, at times, nasty. How do I avoid that?

I’m learning about gratitude. I read an article about the physical attributes of gratitude, how it actually improves a person’s health. Here is a quote from a DailyGood article I read in 2007: “. . . researchers have found that gratitude contributes powerfully to human health, happiness, and social connection.”

I’ve kept a journal for about fifteen years, off and on. About two years ago, after reading an article on the benefits of gratitude, I changed the slant of my journal and now call it my gratitude journal. It’s making a difference in my life. And now, in these tough economic times, its benefits are even greater.

I’m reminded of the twin boys who were alike in all ways except one was an optimist and one a pessimist. The father wanted to see if he could change the boys’ personalities, so he gave a room full of gifts to the pessimist, all the latest toys and gadgets, and a room full of manure to the optimist. The pessimist was elated, but after a short time sat and pouted. When his father asked him what was wrong, he said everything was nice, but he was certain the toys would break, and he’d be disappointed again.

When the father checked on the optimist, he found him joyfully digging around in the manure. When asked what he was doing, the optimist said that with all the manure lying around, he knew there had to be a pony in there somewhere.

With the economy failing—and yes, I’ve lost money, too—I want to be like the optimist. My pony is around here somewhere. I just need to keep digging.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

To Retire, or Not to Retire
That is the Question

In three weeks I will have given thirty years of service to the United States Postal Service. I started when we were mailmen, not letter carriers. Over the years, I’ve seen the uniform change slightly—stripes on the shirts, shorts allowed, a more modern eagle for our emblem, and recently a new hat that looks like Gilligan would be proud to wear. I’ve seen supervisors and managers come and go. The mail volume has dropped, and times are tough for our business, like many of you face, too.

Over the years I’ve complained about the good ol’ USPS. Who hasn’t? And the jokes…

What does it mean when the flag at the Post Office flies at half mast? They’re hiring.

You hear about the new Forever stamp? Rightly named because it takes forever to get there.

Now that the long-awaited day approaches, I wonder if I should let younger hands and feet take over, so I can retire to where old mailmen slink off and fade into obscurity. Uncle Sam may even sweeten the pot as I hear rumors of incentives to get rid of the old timers.

The decision will probably be a simple one: Can I afford to go? I have to admit I’m a bit surprised at my reaction, however. I thought I’d be thrilled at the prospect, but I’m less than overwhelmed. It has to do with the realization that time has slipped away. How did thirty years pass by so quickly? And where has my hair gone?

I don’t really have a point to my story, except that time passes quickly. Enjoy life. Laugh heartily, and dance. I wish I had danced more.

Maybe I’ll start a retirement fun (no, I didn’t mean fund, although you’re welcome to donate). I’ve enjoyed my life so far, why should retirement be different? If I go—if I can afford to go—I thank God for the years of steady income and mutual friends, and for the possibility of doing what I want to do most—writing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Reluctant Blogger

I’ve resisted blogging for a long time. Why? For one, I don’t like the word. It sounds so blah—like a cross between a log and a bog, which gives you what? (A rhetorical question, but you may answer it if you wish.) A second reason? I don’t want to be bogged down with one more thing to do. Pardon the play on words.

So, why have I chosen to break the silence and put my words out in the cyber world for anyone to see? Because I’m told it’s the future of publishing. The future for those who want their books read. The future for those who want to make a difference. And, although an introvert at heart, I want those things.

Pardon this meager beginning, but if all goes well I hope to give you some things to think about. For fellow writers, I plan to share my experiences with the craft. I hope my humor shows through from time to time. And I hope you benefit from your visit(s) here.

Growing up in the fifties and sixties, my favorite comedian was Red Skelton. If memory serves, he ended his programs by saying, “Good night, and God bless.” It’s a tag line that I always loved hearing. I’ll abbreviate his line and end my first blog by simply saying,

God Bless,