A Reminder to Slow Down and Appreciate the Beauty All Around Us

The Wonder of a Single Snowflake...

Quote about Snowflakes

The wonder of a single snowflake outweighs the wisdom of a million meteorologists. –Sir Francis Bacon, philosopher

I once heard someone say that we should “look at” everything in life as though we were seeing it for the first or last time. If you think about it, that’s a very profound – life-changing, even – approach.

It reminds me of the unspeakable joy I always got when my daughters were babies and would see anything for the first time – snow, Christmas lights, cats, airplanes, monkeys at the zoo, etc.   Things that we all saw for the first time at some point.  None of these things are any less spectacular or beautiful today than they were then.  The problem is we get “used” to so many of them and take them for granted.

The holidays are a perfect example – whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas, we often get so busy buying, baking, wrapping, and complaining about money (come on… we’re all guilty!) that we allow one beautiful scene after the next to slip right past us.

  • I always get a kick out of mall “Santas” – well, not them as much as the little ones in line and on lap.  Their expressions are precious and their excitement is contagious. If you need a little extra Christmas cheer, trust me, find a mall Santa and the company he keeps.
  • Christmas lights always put on a dazzling show.
  • Maybe it’s because I’m a foodie, but I think there’s a great deal of beauty in all the candies, cookies, pies, hams, and casseroles!
  • Candles – especially the ones that smell as beautiful as they look.
  • Nativity scenes are also extra beautiful and meaningful.
  • Christmas music – driving around town while bellowing out loud with songs on the radio? Priceless.
  • Tinsel, bows, wrapping paper, ribbons, bags… they’re works of art in and of themselves.
  • Christmas trees – a beautifully decorated Christmas tree is gorgeous  – but so is a small, humble “Charlie Brown” tree. No such thing as an ugly Christmas tree as far as I’m concerned.
  • Last… but certainly not least… there isn’t anything more beautiful than families gathering together – around the tree, around the table, and around the tv – this is the stuff memories AND LIFE are made of.

Like snowflakes, there are wonders all around us. I hope that this Christmas season – and all the seasons thereafter – you’ll slow down and allow yourself to be awestruck by the beauty and the wonders that surround you.

~ Joi

Change??? Difficult?? Not According to the Man in Red

In Fact, Just Put One Foot in Front of the Other... Soon You'll be Walking Across the Floor..

Santa Claus is Coming to Town Quote about Change
THE WINTER WARLOCK: It’s so difficult to really change.

KRIS KRINGLE aka SANTA CLAUS: Difficult? (hearty laugh) Why… look here… changing from bad to good’s as easy as taking your first step… Put one foot in front of the other…

Santa Claus is Coming to Town Quote about Change


Who knew you could get a motivational self help kick in the keister from an animated Christmas episode from 1970?!  Okay, besides Kris Kringle… who else would have known?

There are cookies to bake, ribbons to be perfected, and shopping to be done, so I won’t be my normal long-winded self today (Santa’s listening, so don’t go sayin’ anything ornery!)

I’ll just leave you and your thoughts with a few graphics, quotes, and  a video – all straight from a favorite scene in Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Whatever change or changes you’re mulling over for 2015… get up on your feet!

~ Joi

P.S. Filing this one under “Vintage Self Help Daily” because if making animated graphics and turning Santa’s words into a motivational speech isn’t vintage me, absolutely nothing is.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town Quote about Change

Review: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

Amy Morin's Book Should be Required Reading for Everyone

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do Review

I love it when I’m sent a book to review and I, literally, have trouble putting it down. 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin is the latest book to fit this description.

I’ll tell you what reading it reminded me of: Sitting in a Baptist Church in the South on a Sunday morning as the Man of God in front of the congregation was on FIRE! He paces and preaches and preaches and paces – the whole time leaving you thinking things like, “That’s right!,” “That’s SO GOOD!,” and “AMEN!”

I’ve had the supreme privilege and honor of sitting in many Sunday morning services just like that. They’re downright tingly to your body, mind, and spirit because they serve as wonderful wake up calls.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is a wake up call in its own right. I can’t say that it stirs the Spirit necessarily, but that’s not what it’s setting out to do. THIS particular wake-up call stirs your mind and even your heart.

And does so with aplomb.

Expanding on her viral post that has become an international phenomenon, a psychotherapist offers simple yet effective solutions for increasing mental strength and finding happiness and success in life.

As a licensed clinical social worker, college psychology instructor, and psychotherapist, Amy Morin has seen countless people choose to succeed despite facing enormous challenges. That resilience inspired her to write 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a web post that instantly went viral, and was picked up by the Forbes website.

Morin’s post focused on the concept of mental strength, how mentally strong people avoid negative behaviors—feeling sorry for themselves, resenting other people’s success, and dwelling on the past. Instead, they focus on the positive to help them overcome challenges and become their best.

In this inspirational, affirmative book, Morin expands upon her original message, providing practical strategies to help readers avoid the thirteen common habits that can hold them back from success. Combining compelling anecdotal stories with the latest psychological research, she offers strategies for avoiding destructive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors common to everyone.

Like physical strength, mental strength requires healthy habits, exercise, and hard work. Morin teaches you how to embrace a happier outlook and arms you to emotionally deal with life’s inevitable hardships, setbacks, and heartbreaks—sharing for the first time her own poignant story of tragedy, and how she summoned the mental strength to move on. As she makes clear, mental strength isn’t about acting tough; it’s about feeling empowered to overcome life’s challenges.

Each chapter goes into great (eye-opening) detail about the pitfalls of the 13 things successful people do not do.  As you read through the book, you will (given the fact that you look human to me) recognize yourself in a few scenarios.

This is a good thing! WHEN you realize bad habits or choices, THEN you’re able to give yourself a good old-fashioned kick in the seat of the pants and vow never to go down that dead end road again.

That’s why I call these moments wake up calls. They sound off alarms that help you shake out of a deep sleep and get moving in the right direction.

Amy Morin has put together an absolutely wonderful book that reads fast but leaves a lasting impression.  Since I read it (a few weeks ago), I’ve often thought of her words.

Chapter 4: They Don’t Focus on Things They Can’t Control

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” - Maya Angelou

One of my favorite chapters in the book addresses the fact that Successful People Don’t Focus on Things They Can’t Control. Not only would it be a colossal waste of time and energy to focus on things you cannot control – it sucks time and energy AWAY that could actually be productive.

It feels so safe to have everything under control, but thinking we have the power to always pull the strings can become problematic.” (Page 74)

The chapter includes examples and “symptoms” of this type of thinking.

We can’t possibly make all of our circumstances and all the people in our lives fit into the way we think things should be. When you learn to let go of the details you can’t control, the amount of time and energy you’ll be able to devote to the things you can control will give you the ability to accomplish incredible feats.” (Page 75)

How great is that?!

This one chapter, alone, should be required reading for everyone in the world. If you cannot control it… let it go. Not only will everyone else around you be happier, you’ll be freer.

As I read through this chapter, I thought of a few modern-day illustrations of this bad habit.

  • Women who call or text their boyfriends/husbands again and again and again while he is on the golf course, fishing, watching a game, etc.  If the truth came out…. they don’t want them THERE! They want them where they want them and yet, somehow, lost control of the situation. He wandered away! What’s a gal to do?  She can retain a little bit of control by keeping tabs on him.  Personally, I think a trip to Target would be a lot funner, but that’s just me.
  • This one’s timely – how about holiday get-togethers?  Tension often runs high because every family has that one person who acts as though no one EVER does enough for them. They’re sour and resentful because they’re unable to control what everyone else says and does.
  • Anyone with co-workers knows how maddening control freaks can be.  They aren’t the least bit interested in being a team player because they want to be the puppet master. They want to tell everyone else what “their job” is while refusing to let any “job descriptions” stick to them!

The list goes on, of course.  This is one of the most powerful chapters in the book -but  each chapter is profoundly powerful.

I know that  13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do is a book you’ll love. Even more importantly, I know it’s a book you’ll get A LOT out of. One of the first things I thought after I finished the book was, “The phrase game changer is woefully overused… heck, I overuse it on a gruesome level… THIS book truly is a game changer and could help SO MANY PEOPLE!”

I thought it then and I think it now. You need this book. Period.

On December 23, you’ll be able to buy  13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do on Amazon. Click through and pre-order  it now!

~ Joi

From the Inside Cover

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Mental Strength

Everyone knows that regular exercise and weight training lead to physical strength. But how do we strengthen ourselves mentally for the truly tough times? And what should we do when we face these challenges? Or as psychotherapist Amy Morin asks, what should we avoid when we encounter adversity? Through her years counseling others and her own experiences navigating personal loss, Morin realized it is often the habits we cannot break that are holding us back from true success and happiness. Indulging in self-pity, agonizing over things beyond our control, obsessing over past events, resenting the achievements of others, or expecting immediate positive results holds us back. This list of things mentally strong people don’t do resonated so much with readers that when it was picked up by Forbes.com it received ten million views.

Now, for the first time, Morin expands upon the thirteen things from her viral post and shares her tried-and-true practices for increasing mental strength. Morin writes with searing honesty, incorporating anecdotes from her work as a college psychology instructor and psychotherapist as well as personal stories about how she bolstered her own mental strength when tragedy threatened to consume her.

Increasing your mental strength can change your entire attitude. It takes practice and hard work, but with Morin’s specific tips, exercises, and troubleshooting advice, it is possible to not only fortify your mental muscle but also drastically improve the quality of your life.

About the Author

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker, college psychology instructor, and psychotherapist. She is the only person in the psychology industry who is talking about mental strength on a global level. She lives in Enfield, Maine.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do Review

Top 10 Mood Lifters

Snap Yourself Out of a Bad Mood FAST!

How to Snap Out of a Bad Mood
Ever feel draggy? That’s my word for that feeling you get when you’re not physically sick, not exactly sad, and not remotely mad… you’re just kind of out of sorts. Like your normal, upbeat mood has BEEN beaten with a crowbar.

Bad moods happen to all of us every now and again – and usually we can’t put one single mopey finger on WHAT got us here, WHO did this to us, WHEN we’re going to feel normal again, HOW to snap out of it, or WHERE we can hide in the meantime.  All we know for sure is that, if our mood had a color, it’d be gray.

One of my daughters put her own spin on it once as she came through the kitchen.  I asked her how she was doing and she said, “I think my face has forgotten how to smile today.”  Draggy.

Whenever your face has forgotten how to smile, try one of the Ten Mood Lifters below.  These are 10 sure-fire ways to snap out of your bad mood fast. You’ll get an instant lift and – heck if you do them often enough, your face might just forget how to frown.

  1. Go outside.  A little fresh air, combined with natural sunlight is a sure-fire Pick-Me-Up.  Even if it’s smack in the middle of winter, bundle up and walk around your yard for about 10 minutes.  There’s something invigorating about the outdoors and it’s a quick cure for the droops.
  2. Take a stretching break. Stand up and stretch your hands toward the ceiling, then bend over and touch the floor.  Next, stretch slowly from side to side.  Repeat the entire cycle several times – breathing deeply the entire time.  It’ll refresh your mind and mood. Just be sure to take deep breaths – a lot of the feel-good power in stretching lies  in the breathing.
  3. Spend some time with a pet. There’s something profoundly peaceful and fun about petting a furry loved one. The love you give comes back and, let’s face it, it’s almost impossible to do anything but smile when you’re looking into an animal’s loving eyes.
  4. If possible, elevate your heart with a little exercise.  Aerobic activity is one of the best ways to slap a good mood on your psyche.  Take a walk, pick up sticks in your yard, or clean your house with gusto.  Get mooving and grooving.  If you do it with some really upbeat music, the effects will be even better. My favorite music to listen to when at times like this are 80’s and Motown – you just can’t stay draggy when Smokey Robinson’s Cruisn’. No way, no how.
  5. Recall a time when you couldn’t stop laughing.  It was probably a time when laughter was unacceptable, right?!  That usually seems to be the case.  In high school, my best friend, Randy, and I would break out into fits of laughter all the time.  Sometimes we’d be on the phone and there’d be no sound at all except laughter for 5 minutes.  When we thought we had it under control, one of us would fall victim to the giggles again, then the other would crack up.  I can still hear the sound of his laugh in my head and it still makes me smile. He’d love to make me laugh at the most ridiculous times – in the middle of class was his favorite opportunity.  He got me so bad once during a college lecture that I thought I’d pass out.  Actually, passing out would have been less embarrassing. My youngest daughter, Stephany, may have gotten my ticklebox at THE most inappropriate time, ever, though. When she was around 2, we were listening to a sermon… a long, long sermon mind you… at a church we didn’t normally visit.  She fell asleep halfway through the sermon. After about 30 minutes she sat up, and IN A FRIGHTFULLY quiet auditorium said, “He’s not through yet?!!”  One of her sisters (Brittany) fought giggles off with me – and about 40 other people –  but her other sister (Emily) looked more mortified than anyone has ever looked! When I need a good laugh, I think back to each of their three adorable faces at that moment.
  6.  Watch a favorite sitcom, stand-up routine or movie.  Laughter really is the best medicine, especially when it’s your mood that needs a remedy.  If you can’t get to a television, don’t underestimate YouTube.  Enter the name of a favorite old sitcom, comedian, or bloopers to a favorite show.
  7. Change things up!  If you’re able to, change what you’re wearing.  Brush your hair, brush your teeth, and even wash your face.  Your mind “gets” that you’re trying to start fresh and it welcomes the idea.  If you’re at work, straighten up your desk, readjust your clothes – maybe even untie and tie (or unbuckle and buckle) your shoes.  You know how you “refresh” a webpage if it hasn’t “loaded” properly?  Same premise.  Refresh and try again.
  8. Talk to someone who lifts your spirits.  All of us have at least one person who seems to make our life a better place just by being around. They always seem to know what to say and what not to say. Their attitude and humor act as a tonic.  If you’re feeling low, search them out – take them to lunch or out for coffee. Let them work their magic on you.
  9. Do something special for yourself. Whether it’s a trip to Starbucks or a bouquet of flowers (some days call for both), do something that’ll bring a smile to your face.
  10. Do something special for someone else.  I saved the best for last. When you bring a smile to someone else’s face, it’s impossible to feel anything but joy and happiness.  By the same token, making your cat purr or your dog wag its tail will also bring about great contentment.  When you create happiness for others, you create it for yourself as well.

~ Joi

Be of good cheer. Do not think of to-day’s failures, but of success that may come to-morrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will have a joy in overcoming obstacles–a delight in climbing rugged paths which you would perhaps never know if you did not sometimes slip backward, if the road were always smooth and pleasant. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. -Helen Keller.

Be Yourself: Let Them Be Them, You Be You

I Am Who I Am, Your Approval is Not Needed

Quote About Being Unique

If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.  – Johann von Goethe

True story:  When I was on the verge of high school, I was in a department store shopping with my mom and my one of my best friends, Tamra.  We were shopping for back to school clothes and Tamra and I each had a certain amount of money to spend.  I will just go ahead and admit it – I was up to my elbows in the “hot new” and “popular” clothes. Calvin Klein jeans, crazy colored tops, and.. of course… the coolest of the cool shoes.

At some point, I was mid-rant about the price of a pair of jeans when I realized I’d misplaced my buddy. While my mom scampered off to look at something else (and to probably escape my “How can I get everything I simply must have if the price tags are so unfair?? Life isn’t faaaaiiirrr….” meltdown), I went off in search of Tamra. I found her in a section of clothes I didn’t even know existed – inexpensive ones.

She said some sort of nonsense about being able to actually get MORE clothes if she bought CHEAPER clothes.

I’m sure I wondered how she and I were even friends at that point. I mean, what was with this girl?

Trying to save her from herself, I leaned in and whispered something like, “But no one’s wearing these clothes.”

My buddy supreme lit up and said, “That’s why I love them – I’ll be the only one!

I’d LOVE to be able to say that the early teen version of me had a moment of clarity and tossed down my Calvin Klein’s and pulled out some clothes from Tamra’s goldmine but, alas, I did not. Enlightenment was a word I could probably barely spell, let alone claim ownership of.

We were going to be entering high school for the first time, I was not going to do it in clothes that weren’t all the rage! I would not walk through those doors without the most expensive jeans in the store on my behind!

After about two hours (feeling sorry for my mom yet?), we left the store.  Tamra had more bags than me… more clothes than me.. and even had money left.

I thought possibly she was an alien. I walked out with my bag… yes, BAG.. felling like I had just won the shopping game.

Funny thing, though, my mom went on and on about Tamra’s approach. Praised her as we walked to the car… praised her as we ate the lunch she treated us to… at one point, it hit me that all this “praise” was as much for my benefit as it was her’s.   She kept looking at me as she said words like smart and thrifty.. and something about stretching money.  I’m pretty sure the whole lunch thing was so I could hear about “making the most of your money” and “making it last.” How “clothes were clothes” blah blah blah.

Great. So now I had two aliens.

Oddly enough, over the years I came to realize that… of course… I was the one who “didn’t get it.”  I was too preoccupied with wearing what the other kids were wearing to realize that the greatest thing in life is to make your own way, be yourself, and not worry about who anyone else thinks you should be.

Or what they think you should wear.

The whole enlightenment thing didn’t hit me until I was in my Senior year of High School.

My poor mom.

It finally became clear to me that the coolest thing in the world was to stand out from everyone else… not blend in.

Whether it’s what you wear, how you do your hair, how you walk, how you talk, or any dang thing that makes you you…  don’t let anyone try to re-make you or re-do you. I don’t care whether they think their intentions are great or not.  They don’t have the right. It’s YOUR life.

They have their own.

Truth is, if anyone tries to make you into something or someone you’re not, they’re actually the one with the problem, not you.  If they were completely comfortable in their own skin and at peace with life, they’d have better things to do than worry about your hair. Or clothes. Or anything.

Personally, I cannot imagine taking issue with something personal about another individual. If they’re mistreating someone or putting someone else at risk… sure, I’d have to say something. But if they want to braid garlic cloves into their hair and dress in sackcloth, I’m not going to let it rock my boat. I won’t sit downwind from them, but I’ll let them stink if they want to.

It’s their right.

There’s an old Polish proverb my husband loves, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”  Pretty much I think you could also say it this way: “That’s none of my dang business, so I’m going to just do me!”

Be you…. let them be them.

Life’s better that way.

~ Joi

I am who I am your approval is not needed


Healthier Habits for a Healthier Life and a Healthier YOU!

Out of Bounds
December 6, 2014

Here’s a link to an article on my mental fitness blog, Out of Bounds. The article was written by Ron McDiarmid, founder of Healthy Living Coach.com. The article lays out the healthy habits we should all strive to incorporate into our lives… if, that is, we want to be as healthy as we possibly can be! See Healthy Habits for a Healthy Life for a great read.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.  – Harvey Fierstein

The Truth About Smoothies

Healthy Smoothies vs Unhealthy Smoothies

How Healthy are Smoothies?
The following article was written by Ron McDiarmid from MyHelathyLivingCoach.com.  As we near the closing of one year and the beginning of a new year, I hope healthy eating is at the forefront of your mind. Articles such as this one  – as well as the many other articles you’ll find on the My Healthy Living Coach website – will help you get where you want to be by this time next year!

It can be a challenge to create healthy, easy meals, especially when we are on the go. The smoothie is one of the more popular health foods to emerge in recent years. And these days, you can find them anywhere, from your neighborhood new age restaurant to famous fast food joints. There’s a reason that the smoothie is so ubiquitous; they are a fast, easy and convenient way to get a lot of nutrition into your body in a short amount of time. But although smoothies have many benefits to our health, they can also cause health challenges, depending on how they are made.

What’s In a Smoothie?

Blended fruit is the most basic ingredient in a smoothie. Unlike in a juice, a smoothie can contain the entire fruit including the skin and seeds. Fruit is simply cut up and blended until it’s a liquid, instead of having its liquid extracted, as is the case with juice.

But the smoothie has much more potential than just the addition of fruit. Beyond that basic element, smoothies can include just about anything. A large number of smoothies have some sort of fat component, often a protein-rich food like yogurt or nut butter. They also tend to include a variety of fruit. Some people add supplements like protein powder, digestive supports like fresh ginger and powdered cinnamon to their smoothie. Super foods like spirulina, maca, or raw cacao can also be added.

The green smoothie is a definite favorite. This includes green leafy vegetables such kale, spinach, parsley, cilantro, arugula, and lettuce. These leafy veggies can be blended with sweet fruit like bananas, or a raw vegan fat like avocado or soaked almonds can be used.

Beware the Unhealthy Smoothie

The level of a smoothie’s healthfulness depends on what has been put into it. But it’s important to understand that in a smoothie; relatively large amounts of food have been broken into tiny bits. This means that far more calories can be consumed than we realize. Making a smoothie that has over 800 calories is very easy to do. And because smoothies are liquid, we can ingest a high volume without necessarily feeling full, and then feel hungry again shortly after.

Fruit contains a lot of calories as well as naturally occurring sugar. If a smoothie is largely fruit-based, and a sweetener like agave nectar or honey is added, the sugar calories skyrocket which can spike our blood sugar levels.

Weight gain is triggered by eating too much sugar. Many think that increased fat consumption causes weight gain, but in a smoothie, healthy fats like avocados and nuts are usually added. Eating a lot of sugar places a lot of stress on the bloodstream. Whatever the body doesn’t immediately use for energy is converted into fat. And this is what makes smoothies potentially fattening; the potentially large amount of sugar that’s ingested in a relatively short period of time.

Healthy Smoothie Versions

Of course, there are incredibly healthy versions of the smoothie. One example is the vegan smoothie which contains primarily leafy green vegetables with some healthy fats, plant-based proteins, and a small amount of fruit. The vegan smoothie is a great way to boost your health. You can enjoy a large serving of nutritious greens and camouflage their taste in the fruits you add. This is a great idea for those who find salads challenging to enjoy. You can even make a sugar-free smoothie with greens, lemon, avocado, and assorted seeds.

The secret to a smoothie that supports weight loss and overall health is the careful choice of ingredients. Include only those ingredients that you would feel good about eating in a single meal. For example, if you would not eat 4 ounces of nut butter or 3 bananas in one meal, you may wish to reconsider adding them to your smoothie, because you will be consuming a high amount of calories at once.

It’s always a good idea to include a bit of fat in your smoothie to make the vitamins in the vegetables more accessible by your body. Doing this will also increase the level of satiation so that you feel full for longer, but it won’t be so much fat that your smoothie becomes a dessert. Adding just enough fruit to make the greens palatable is preferable to turning your smoothie into a fruit salad. Avoid the addition of sugar and calorie-laden ingredients like fruit juice. Do not add sweeteners unless it is stevia, which provides the sugary flavor without blood sugar spike. Ensure your smoothies are high in fiber, as this will help to slow the absorption rate of any sugar that may be present.

It also makes sense to think of your smoothie as a meal instead of a drink. Use smoothies as a main meal replacement. Enjoy your smoothie as you would any other meal, by sitting at your dining table. Drink slowly, and chew it a bit. This will help to further break down the greens and help your body to absorb it more slowly and thoroughly. If you intend to lose weight or maintain your current weight, the calories in your smoothie can be counted as a part of your daily total.

Smoothies remain one of the most versatile, healthy and convenient meal options available today. With the push of a button, we can create elaborate and delicious concoctions of fruity and green goodness. But just as with anything else, smoothies are only as healthy as their individual ingredients, amounts, and serving sizes. Choose to include mostly green veggies in your creation, along with a little healthy fat, plant-based protein, and minimal fruit, and your body will reap the many benefits.

This post is contributed by Ron McDiarmid, who is the founder of My Healthy Living Coach. Having had health challenges along the way Ron was keen to share the research and learning he gathered. Through MHLC this continued into a current presentation of healthy lifestyle choices and how to implement them. Check out his website at www.myhealthylivingcoach.com.

Zeal: It takes Courage to Be Considered, at Times, too Zealous

What Do Charles Barkley, Dick Vitale, and Jillian Michaels Have in Common?

Quote About Zeal

“I takes courage to be considered at times as a little too zealous.” - F.D. Van Amburgh, The Mental Spark Plug, 1923

Years ago, my favorite NBA player was Charles Barkley.  I never missed a Phoenix Suns game when he played for them.  On court and off court, the man never failed to entertain me.  .  Sometimes he’d leave me shaking my head, sometimes he’d leave me nodding my head…. sometimes Sir Charles would leave me holding my head.  But make no mistake about it, Charles Barkley always left an impression.

Still does.

Even on a golf course, Charles Barkley cannot be ignored (it’s not pretty, but you can’t take your eyes off of his swing).

He has that something that I have always been drawn to – ZEAL.  Zealous people are people who live out loud.  They know what they want in and from life and they know what they’re passionate about.  They wear this passion on their sleeve and often wear a perplexed expression on their face – one that questions the rest of the world, “Why aren’t you getting this?!  Why aren’t you excited too?!?!

The quote at the top of the post is by a favorite author of mine from the Twenties (No, I wasn’t around then, wise guy!),  F.D. Van Amburgh.  When I came across the quote recently – while redoing the motivational quotes pages here on Self Help Daily, I couldn’t help wondering – what do you think Amburgh would have thought of Charles Barkley, Jillian Michaels, Oprah, Dick Vitale, Alton Brown, Lolo Jones, Toby Keith…. some of the most zealous people of our day?

I’ve read enough books by F.D. Van Amburgh to believe with all of my heart that he would have been just as drawn to them as I am.  I think he would have been completely smitten with the ladies.

The thing about zealous people is this: You will not always agree with them, but you’ll always know where they stand.  Zealous people wave zealous flags and they most certainly aren’t white flags.  When you just read the list of names, you probably reacted in one way or another to at least one of the names.  That’s because people with zeal stir emotions and sometimes anger.   I’m not condoning everything done or said in the name of zeal – far from it.

See, I think of zeal as a magic window into the heart of a person.  Through their zeal, the rest of the world gets to see exactly what makes them tick.  Zeal strips away facades, press spins, and photo-shopping.   The beauty of it is that zealous people is that… up to a point… they simply don’t care.  They have enough confidence and courage to ride the zeal train to the next station.

Whether or not I agree with everything they say or do, I give each one of them this:  They have guts – guts to be who they are and not conform to the person anyone else thinks they should be.  I also admire their passion.  Especially those who have passion for others:  Dick Vitale’s passion for young people touches me and I wish there were more like him.  Jillian Michael’s passion for people’s health and fitness is equally admirable.  I love that she cares so much that she is willing to yell, kick, and scream to get her point across.  I also thoroughly admire and appreciate Toby Keith’s dedication to our men and women serving overseas.  They’re willing to fight for our country and Toby’s willing to fight for them!  What’s not to love about that?

A lot of people don’t take a “live out loud” approach to life and that kind of makes me sad. Their own fears and doubts hold them back.  They think, “If only I were thinner…” or “If only I had more money…”  or “If only I were older….” or other ridiculous thoughts.  As our own zealous Charles Barkley once said, “If ifs were gifts, everyday would be Christmas!

Make no mistake about it, being zealous doesn’t mean you have to love or demand the center of the stage. The people I’ve highlighted in this post are definitely center stage individuals. If life were a play, they’d have lead roles and get 95 percent of the lines.   Zeal can come in somewhat quieter, more laid-back packages as well, you know.  Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Billy Graham, Diane Sawyer – no lack of zeal in these individuals whatsoever.

They just go about their work on a somewhat quieter scale.

Zeal doesn’t always scream, but it does always command attention.  On the other side of the coin, as Thomas Henry Huxley once said, “Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” If you’re going to be zealous, make sure you know what you’re talking about and that it’s even worth saying or doing in the first place.

Take a gut check today.   Do you believe in yourself and your dreams enough to fight for them?  Are you willing to stand up and stand out to live your life on your own terms?  Or are you afraid what others will say or think?  If that’s the case, I hope you’ll come out of the shell you’ve built around yourself and step out into a whole new life.

Be bold!  Be confident!  Be strong!  Be you!

~ Joi

Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. – David Ogilvy