"One ought, everyday at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and speak a few reasonable words." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Math is a Religion

I am excited to present probably my #1 most favorite Calvin and Hobbes strip of all time. I say “probably” because I generally tend to have about a million “favorites” of everything I love. Personal idiosyncrasy. But whatever; it’s my favorite today. Enjoy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fortune Cookie Friday - Scatter Sunshine

My husband and I ate at a Thai restaurant a few days ago and I snapped a picture of my fortune there. Then I opened another fortune cookie this morning and was surprised with an eerily similar fortune.

Apparently sunshine is the theme for the day, so go with it! Cue up your favorite feel-good song (mine is below) or do whatever makes you smile and scatter that sunshine everywhere you go today! Life is good!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Freedom Paradox

“Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.” –Frank Herbert
Some would look at those who willingly limit their choices as living in a cage. But this is a clever mirage. One only has to try a little self discipline to see the mirage for what it is. If you look at self control from an undisciplined perspective, you see the limitations as captivity. I can’t do that, that, or that? Hmm. That doesn’t look like freedom.

What you find out once you try disciplining yourself, however, is that REAL freedom is inside that “cage” and the stuff you thought was freedom before is really the cage. Take drugs for example. When you exercise your "freedom" to take drugs, you become addicted and your opportunities and real freedoms narrow. Is this not a cage? This is complete captivity, not freedom! But if you discipline yourself and say no to drugs, you have real freedom—freedom of conscience, freedom from negative consequences, freedom of mind and body, and so forth. This is also true with less obvious disciplines like modest dress, clean vocabulary, honesty in word and deed, and so forth.

It’s a paradox in which Truth can only be viewed from the perspective of discipline and obedience. If you never try disciplining yourself, you’ll always see the mirage and never arrive at the truth or experience real freedom. Just like any truth, one must make a leap of faith to be worthy to receive it. “Some things have to be believed…” and I would add TRIED, “to be seen.” –Madeleine L'Engle

Discipline is freedom. Believe it. Try it. You’ll see.

Related Posts:
Tag, You’re It 
C.S. Lewis Sunday - Resistance: The Measure of Strength
C.S. Lewis Sunday – Morality and Peace  
Two Glasses of Water

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wiseguy Wednesday 2

I am a really big fan of Bill Watterson, the creator of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, which you'll probably be seeing quite a bit of on this blog. A few years back, my good friend Erin gave me The Complete Calvin and Hobbes collection for my birthday. Since then, I have spent many hours of gleeful mirth pouring over the 3 GIANT volumes in the set. This is particular strip probably rates near the top of my list of favorites. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Raise your Sail

Illustration: Mary Engelbreit
Quote: Sri Ramakrishna
Lately, I have been pondering a lot on the idea presented in this quote—specifically the importance of Action.

I’m sure everyone else already has this figured out, but I just recently discovered that when I’m feeling down in the dumps, I feel better instantly if I can find one thing to ACT on.

For instance, I recently had a shift in my community of friends. Not a big change, yet it affected my mental state. I noticed myself slipping into some type of depressed longing for my old, comfortable community. 

I felt sorry for myself for a little while before I started praying to be delivered from my sadness. That’s when I was blessed with a sudden, inspired change of perspective. I stopped seeing my life as happening to me and started seeing it as a fertile field. And what does one do with a fertile field? Sit around lamenting the lack of plants? No, one plants the field! Ah-hah! What I needed to do was ACT!

And that’s exactly what I did. I baked a batch of homemade bread, took a loaf to one of the ladies I didn’t know in my new community, offering friendship. While the act didn’t exactly start a new friendship as I hoped, I did discover that it wasn’t so much about the reward; it was the ACT that made me feel better! And come to think of it, even the prayer was an act. Grace was there, like the quote says, I just had to raise my sail and ask for it.

Since learning this lesson, I have found it useful and effective whenever I get a little blue about anything—life, family, friendship, difficulty, disappointment, that heavy overwhelmed feeling, you name it. Action has been an instant escape button – a miracle cure – every time!

So next time life gets ya down, pick your preferred metaphor (“Raise your Sail,” “Plant your Field,” or the old standby, “Make Lemonade”) and just ACT. It may just heal your heart like it does mine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Surprisingly *Ravenous* over The Tourist

Well, I didn’t really intend for this blog to be for movie reviews, but I’m gonna do it anyway. What? There's a quote at the end. :)

I watched the movie The Tourist over the weekend. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it! Although, I still can’t figure out what exactly it was that I loved so much, since there was so much I didn't like.

Downside # 1 - I’m no fan of Angelina Jolie as it is, but in this movie she just made me sick. That chick needs to go out and eat some donuts or something. She looks absolutely disgusting! Her shrunken face and skeletal, anorexic-looking body was so distracting! I can’t count how many times during the course of the movie I caught myself imagining a fat share between the two of us. I could have some of her ample lip fat (she really could lose some of that – I mean, c’mon, chick has a butt crack in her lip), and she can have some of my ample torso/butt fat. We’d both be improved and I’d be able to watch the movie without thinking about such things…

Downside # 2 – The story was utterly predictable. I had the whole thing figured out in 20 minutes. Granted, I wasn’t sure and it didn’t take away from the enjoyment of watching the plot unfold. But still. It was definitely predictable.

Downside # 3 – I know I can hardly count this as a downside, but it was a little disconcerting seeing Johnny Depp playing a normal character WITHOUT the eyeliner. Weird. You know the guy lives in bizarre-o-land when the weirdest things he can do are acting normal and skipping the makeup!

Normally those 3 things alone would ruin the movie for me. BUT...

I loved the characters! I loved that it was set in Venice. I loved the acting. I’m always a sucker for a spy flick. But I think the clincher for me was the dialog. I’ve read some reviews that totally bash it as unoriginal and unintelligent, but I thought the dialog was incredibly endearing! Here’s an example:

Maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, or maybe I’m just easily entertained, but it really hit the spot for me. There’s one bit of dialog I loved more than anything, and that’s going to be my quote for the day. I was completely ravenous for it! ;)

Frank: You’re ravenous

Elise: Do you mean ravishing?

Frank: I do.

Elise: You’re ravenous.

Frank: I am.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

"The man in Christ rose again, not only the God. That's the whole point.
~C. S. Lewis

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fortune Cookie Friday!

As much as I love food from the Orient, I love something more than the delicious main dishes when I go out to eat it. I’m there for the Fortune Cookies! I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love cracking open a curled up, LOWFAT, tasty treat at the end of their meal to find words of wisdom or often laughable predictions for the future tucked inside. It’s my favorite part of the meal when the fortunes start flying around the table, eliciting outbursts of incredulity and/or guffaws of laughter among friends. Even the serious ones can evoke endless merriment when you add “between the sheets” at the end, as some do. I don’t care who you are, what’s not to love about Fortune Cookies?

So from now on, be sure to visit Savvy and Sage for Fortune Cookie Friday where we'll crack open a fantastic fortune together and spread the fun!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Let it Bee

I wanted to share a short story today by one of my favorite authors, James E. Talmage. I often think of this little bee when life gets complicated and try to remember to trust, relax, and go with the flow.

The Parable of the Unwise Bee

Sometimes I find myself under obligations of work requiring quiet and seclusion such as neither my comfortable office nor the cozy study at home insures. My favorite retreat is an upper room in the tower of a large building, well removed from the noise and confusion of the city streets. The room is somewhat difficult of access and relatively secure against human intrusion. Therein I have spent many peaceful and busy hours with books and pen.
A wild bee from the neighboring hills once flew into the room, and at intervals during an hour or more I caught the pleasing hum of its flight. The little creature realized that it was a prisoner, yet all its efforts to find the exit through the partly opened casement failed. When ready to close up the room and leave, I threw the window wide and tried at first to guide and then to drive the bee to liberty and safety, knowing well that if left in the room it would die as other insects there entrapped had perished in the dry atmosphere of the enclosure. The more I tried to drive it out, the more determinedly did it oppose and resist my efforts. Its erstwhile peaceful hum developed into an angry roar; its darting flight became hostile and threatening.

Then it caught me off my guard and stung my hand—the hand that would have guided it to freedom. At last it alighted on a pendant attached to the ceiling, beyond my reach of help or injury. The sharp pain of its unkind sting aroused in me rather pity than anger. I knew the inevitable penalty of its mistaken opposition and defiance, and I had to leave the creature to its fate. Three days later I returned to the room and found the dried, lifeless body of the bee on the writing table. It had paid for its stubbornness with its life.

To the bee’s shortsightedness and selfish misunderstanding I was a foe, a persistent persecutor, a mortal enemy bent on its destruction; while in truth I was its friend, offering it ransom of the life it had put in forfeit through its own error, striving to redeem it, in spite of itself, from the prison house of death and restore it to the outer air of liberty.

Are we so much wiser than the bee that no analogy lies between its unwise course and our lives? We are prone to contend, sometimes with vehemence and anger, against the adversity which after all may be the manifestation of superior wisdom and loving care, directed against our temporary comfort for our permanent blessing. In the tribulations and sufferings of mortality there is a divine ministry which only the godless soul can wholly fail to discern. To many the loss of wealth has been a boon, a providential means of leading or driving them from the confines of selfish indulgence to the sunshine and the open, where boundless opportunity waits on effort. Disappointment, sorrow, and affliction may be the expression of an all-wise Father’s kindness.

Consider the lesson of the unwise bee!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wiseguy Wednesday

A girl watched, fascinated, as her mother smoothed moisturizing cream on her face.
“Why do you do that?” she asked.
“To make myself beautiful,” said the mother, who began removing the cream with a tissue.
“What's the matter?” asked the girl. “Giving up?”
–Nancy C. Bell

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

True Leadership

True leaders
are hardly known to their followers.
Next after them are the leaders
the people know and admire;
after them those they fear;
after them, those they despise.
To give no trust
is to get no trust.
When the work’s done right,
with no fuss or boasting,
ordinary people say,
“Oh, we did it.”
                 --Lao Tzu

If you don't know anything about Lao Tzu, well…it is my pleasure to briefly introduce you to one of my favorite enlightening people!

Born in the 6th century, BC and a contemporary of Confucius, Lao Tzu is regarded as a philosopher of ancient China. He is the author of the Tao Te Ching, or “The Way,” which is the basis for the religious practice of Taoism.

If you have not read the Tao Te Ching, you might want to pick it up sometime. It’s short in length - a series of 81 short poems - but long in wisdom and some ineffable quality that is felt rather than understood. I’m no Taoist, but I highly recommend it for the universal truths it contains!

The above thought on true Leadership is one of my favorite verses. I find the four different types of leadership presented extremely thought provoking.

First and most effective are the leaders who help you achieve without inserting themselves into the process at all. These are the leaders who encourage you to find your own way, making you feel like you did it all yourself, and are rarely given credit for leading at all. They most often will not even accept credit, even if it is offered.

The next most effective leaders are those that lead by title. These are the ones that society most often recognizes as good leaders. Their leadership is conspicuous and they are often recognized for their efforts. But while generally effective and admirable, one can not deny that this method of leadership is definitely inferior to the first.

The last two types of leadership described by Lao Tzu are connected in my mind. Those that lead with fear and punishment can be effective in a logistical sense, but fail in essence because no one is improved or enlightened in the process. People led in this manner only accomplish a task because they are told to. Various levels of force may be involved, but in every case they just do what the leader wants because they fear the loss of a job, security, peace of mind, a level of freedom, etc.
True Leadership
Subjects will always despise trade-offs set up by uninspired leaders. Not to mention the resentment of being made a subject in the first place. I’m ashamed to say this is the type of leadership I most often employ in my parenting. But Lao Tzu rightly suggests that I could be much more effective by thoughtfully applying one of the higher forms of leadership.

And as Lao Tzu also points out, it requires a lot of trust in people to properly employ the highest form of leadership. Encouraging those around you to be themselves and trusting them to want to improve is extremely difficult and sometimes involves a great deal of disappointment. But you don’t get trust unless you give it, and I think the payoff is worth the risk.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Something small

“One day I was walking down the street in London, and I saw a tall, thin man sitting on the corner, all huddled up, looking most miserable. I went up to him, shook his hand, and asked him how he was. He looked up at me and said, “Oh! After such a long, long time I feel the warmth of a human hand!” And he sat up. There was such a beautiful smile on his face because somebody was kind to him. Just shaking his hand had made him feel like somebody. I gave him the feeling of being loved by somebody, the joy of being loved. Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and Love are the same—with Charity you give Love, so don’t just give money, but reach out your hand instead. We have been created to love and to be loved.” –Mother Theresa

I’m not catholic, but I love to read Mother Theresa. While I always try to take every opportunity to do good for my fellowman, she makes me feel like there’s a whole new layer of life that I’m just missing. The interesting thing is, it doesn’t make me feel bad about myself that I’m missing it; her words actually have the opposite effect. I feel like I want to get some of that…pronto! And she makes it seem so easy, I feel totally capable of obtaining it.

Sometimes all anyone needs is to be acknowledged; a smile, a friendly gesture, a listening ear. And the best thing is: everyone is qualified for the job.

“We often neglect small things. There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things. Do small things with great love.” –Mother Theresa

Reach out your hand and try something small today…

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gratitude...it just feels better

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."
Have you ever noticed that it takes the same amount of effort to be grateful as it does to complain or ask ‘Why,’ but they feel completely opposite?

I don’t know about you, but being grateful for things gives me energy and makes me feel positive about life and the world around me. Complaining and asking ‘Why?’ fatigues me and makes me feel negative about life and the world around me.

Simple example: My printer is a pain in the butt! I’m always complaining about it. That thing will NEVER simply print something out. It is a constant inconvenience to me. Until the stars finally align and the dust bucket decides to print something properly, I always end up spending a whole lot of time feeling icky with negative emotions. This rant session is almost always accompanied by repeated, useless questioning of no one in particular, “WHY me? What did I do to deserve this plague of a printer?”

But here’s my point: Does it not eventually print? Am I not still in possession of the wonder of technology? How would I feel airing my various printer complaints to a typesetter from the 1700’s? What did I do to deserve the printer, indeed!

How much energy did I waste spoiling the wonder of what I have by ranting and raving and thinking about how much better my printer could or should be? What I have now is genuinely among the things only hoped for in past generations! Ah…this line of thinking makes me feel so much better!

You see what I mean? Same amount of effort in the choice, one builds happiness and well-being, the other takes it away.

You choose the fruit of your labors, but for me it seems much more efficient to put my effort into being grateful.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Quote Closet

"No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. She will not want new fashions nor regret the loss of expensive diversions or variety of company if she can be amused with an author in her closet."
--Mary Wortley

Have you ever seen the movie Clueless? Aside from intensely cool fact that the movie is based on Jane Austen’s Emma, I love the movie for one particular scene. You remember it…the closet! Check it out at exactly 20 seconds in on this Clueless trailer:

What girl has not fantasized about owning her very own motorized rack of seemingly endless stylish, flattering clothes that zoom by at the touch of a button? I’m more full-fledged frump than fashionista, and even I have dreamed of my assorted T-Shirts, sweats and mom-jeans totally rocking those racks!

Well, I may not have the motorized closet of clothes, but I do have a fabulous closet of other people’s enlightening ideas and wisdom!

I can’t really remember when I discovered that I was in love with quotes. But ever since that day, I’ve been dutifully shopping around for every quip, word of wisdom, and thought-provoking morsel I could collect and hang on my racks. Literally hundreds of typed pages of quotes sit in my proverbial closet. I often look at them, ponder on them, and put them on for size. On occasion, I have tried to share them in conversation, but my clumsy delivery has left me feeling like I went out in public wearing ill-fitting rags.

But just like that perfect outfit that wasn’t made to be admired in the closet, the consummate quote collection just begs to be shared…properly!

So it is with a great deal of trepidation that I embark on a journey to periodically fling open the doors to my quote closet and present the great motorized racks of other people’s Savvy and Sage words (and maybe a few of my own) for your perusal. I hope you’ll come by for a pick-me-up, a little enlightenment, or even to shop for quotes to add to your own closet. But mostly I just hope you enjoy them as much as I do!