Appointments With Heaven (Review of a Very Special Book)

Four Reasons this HAS to be the Next Book You Read

Appointments with Heaven by Dr. Reggie Anderson with Jennifer Schuchmann

I write a lot of book reviews on Self Help Daily. Generally, I’m sent books from publishers or even authors in exchange for writing and publishing a review. I’ve received some really amazing books and I always strive to “do right by them” in my reviews. The last book I read was Appointments with Heaven: The True Story of a Country Doctor, His Struggles with Faith and Doubt, and His Healing Encounters with the Hereafter.

Here’s the problem: There is absolutely, positively no way on earth I can possibly do right by this book or even come close to doing it justice.

Trying to convey the essence, the beauty, and the potentially life-changing power of this book would be like trying to describe…

  • … how amazing cheesecake tastes
  • … how seeing your grown children pull into your driveway makes you feel
  • … how your heart soars when the love of your life says I love you
  • … the peaceful feeling of a snowy winter morning

You can completely understand, yourself, that it feels like Christmas morning any time your children come to visit, but trying to put it in words? Nearly impossible.  Even someone like me, who works with words every day of the year, can find their brain overwhelmed by their emotions and realize that, in the end, the brain is no match for the heart.

Not even close.

 From the Back Cover:

 Meet the country doctor who visits the front porch of Heaven… and witnesses what awaits us there.

When a patient first asked Dr. Reggie Anderson to sit at her bedside as she passed from this life, something miraculous happened. As he held her hand, the veil between this world and the next parted… and he received an astonishing glimpse of what awaits us in Heaven.

Little did he know this was just a foretaste of what was to come – a lifetime of God-given “appointments with Heaven.”  Join Reggie as he shares remarkable stories from his life and practice, including the personal tragedy that nearly drove him away from faith forever. As he reveals what he’s seen, heard, and experienced of the afterlife, we’ll learn how we can face the passing of our loved ones with the courage and confidence that we’ll see them again; discover what might happen when we expect the miraculous; and prepare for our own appointment with Heaven.

Soul-stirring and hope-filled, Appointments with Heaven is a powerful journey into the questions at the very core of your being: Is there more to life than this? What is Heaven like? And, most important: Do I believe it enough to let it change me?

Reason Number 1 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: You’ll Love “Meeting” the Colorful People

I’m intrigued with this particular book possibly more than I’ve ever been intrigued by a book (not counting the Bible, which intrigues me every time I open it).  Appointments with Heaven reads in an exciting, I can’t turn the pages fast enough fashion similar to an Agatha Christie mystery or John Grisham novel.  Literally, each person author Dr. Reggie Anderson wrote about, I found myself longing for an entire book written about them and them, alone!  I could read a novel centered, exclusively, around the life of Dr. Anderson’s mother, father, wife, patients, or friends (Stephen Chapman and Mary Beth Chapman).

When he spoke of his childhood, I only wanted to hear more. His writing style made you feel as though you were there with the child version of him, and you could “feel” the love his family had for one another.

Every time Dr. Anderson wrote about one of his patients (particularly the ones in nursing homes), I’d find myself wondering what their personal histories were.  He made everyone and everything he wrote about beyond fascinating.  If Dr. Anderson had written textbooks, I’d have paid more attention in school!

I thought a lot as I read through this wonderful book, but I thought even more after I’d read the last page.  In fact, I’ve thought about it every day since…. which brings me to…

Reason Number 2 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: You’ll Love the Effect it Has on Your Life

If you’re familiar with me at all, you know I’m a baseball fanatic. Seriously, if the St. Louis Cardinals are on my tv and you have something to say to me, you might want to wait between innings – and approach me  then with caution if it’s a close game!  I once told someone, half kidding, that as far as I was concerned, there were two seasons: Baseball Season and Withdrawal.

One of the things I love about baseball SO MUCH is that you never know which pitch, which at bat, or which defensive play will change the momentum of the game. It usually comes when you aren’t watching for it and, even more fascinating, it often comes from a player who isn’t even re-mote-ly a “franchise player.”  These “game changers” are often the players most people overlook, but they’re usually my personal favorites. They’re often the difference between winning and losing.  This year, in fact, it was one of these “game changers” that (in my opinion) was the key to our successful season. The guy no one was talking about in April, everyone was talking about in October.

Game Changer.

If Appointments with Heaven were a baseball player, it would be this type of player.  There are books by more famous authors, such as Max Lucado (one of my personal favorite authors).  There are books with titles that are being tossed around for movies and television series.   These would be the “franchise”  players with names on the back of everybody’s jerseys!  And yet… sitting on another shelf, there’s a beautifully written book with an author’s name you’ve surely never heard of – a very humble “country doctor” in Tennessee who isn’t even re-mote-ly a household name.  A guy not even on the most avid inspirational book reader’s radar with a book the may never have heard of. An author no one has heard of is the very author everyone needs to read.

Life Changer.

As you’re reading Appointments with Heaven, you’ll only think about how wonderful the book, itself, is. You’ll kind of feel miffed anytime you have to set it down, whether it’s to cook, eat, or sleep. You’ll find yourself rushing back to it as fast as you possibly can.  I actually cooked supper one evening with the book in one hand while the other hand did all the work!

Agatha never made me do that…

As I said earlier, this book made me THINK a great deal. I have a lot of love for anything that makes me think. I have even more love for anything that makes me FEEL – which is the one thing Appointments with Heaven caused me to do even more than think.  The reader is reminded that the often trivial things we get bent out of shape about really don’t amount to a hill of beans. We each have our own “Appointment” one day and these trivial little matters are just that – trivial little matters.

It affected me another way, as well.  It caused me to realize something I already knew but needed to be reminded of – everyone else has their own appointment one day as well.  When you allow that fact to really sink in, it’s difficult to get annoyed with the “Sunday driver” in front of you or the “Baby Jeff Gordon” on your bumper.

This particular book and this particular author is exactly what this particular world needs right now.

Reason Number 3 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: You’ll Love the Peace of Mind It’ll Bring

Just about all of us have loved ones in Heaven. The longer God allows us to live on earth, the more loved ones move on before us, making Heaven sweeter and sweeter.  If we picture, in our minds, eating with our family around the dinner table as a child, a lot of us would realize that we’re the only one still here.  Some may have lost a father or a mother – then there are those, like myself, who lost both parents way too young.  Everyone has lost someone they love (parent, spouse, child, grandparent, friend..) and sadly it’s sure to happen again.

Appointments with Heaven brings much needed peace to the hearts and minds of those of us who are “left behind.”  I could easily… easily… see this book healing many open wounds.

There’s another way Appointments With Heaven will bring peace (and even forgiveness) to your heart.  You may just see yourself through Dr. Anderson’s struggle with faith and search for “answers.”  Maybe there’ve been times when you found yourself running on empty when it came to hope while the “Tank of Discouragement” was over-flowingly full.  There’ll be many ways that you’ll identify with different individuals in this book and this identification can help you realize that you aren’t alone – never have been, never will be.

Reason Number 4 Why This Should Be the Next Book You Read: It’s a Real Page-Turner!

While I read both Fiction (make believe) and Non Fiction (real life), I strongly favor Non Fiction. As an only child, my imagination has always been far wilder than anything novelists can come up with. However, “true life” is a whole different story, so to speak.  I think that’s the main reason I prefer Non Fiction – life catches me off guard.  That was certainly the case with Appointments with Heaven  – I kept thinking things like, “Oh! Didn’t see that coming!” and “Whoa, didn’t know that was going to happen…”

You come to care about the different people in Appointments with Heaven and riding the roller coaster of life with them will keep you glued to each page.

Before I end this book review that’s nearly turned into a book on its own (gift of gab… who, me?), allow me to simply say this: If I could recommend only one (besides the Bible!) book to each and every person in my life – whether online or offline – this would be the book.

Appointments with Heaven will touch you deeply and its imprints will last forever.

Click any of the links above for the paperback edition of this book on Amazon.  This book is also available on Kindle (Appointments with Heaven: The True Story of a Country Doctor’s Healing Encounters with the Hereafter on Kindle). There’s also a 30 Daily Appointments with Heaven: Devotions to Bring the Hope and Joy of Heaven to Your Every Day on Kindle which sounds extra special too.

Guardians of Being

Guardians of Being by Eckhart Tolle

If you love animals and count your own pets as family members (I seriously wouldn’t want to meet the person who doesn’t think of their pets as family), you’ll love Guardians of Being by Eckhart Tolle and you’ll love it with a wild passion.  The uplifting and inspiring words read as beautiful meditations and the illustrations by Patrick McDonnell (“Mutts”) are absolutely priceless.  You’re reminded why Charles Schulz (Peanuts) once called Mutts  “One of the best comic strips of all time.”

If you love animals, humor, motivation, and positive affirmations – here’s one place you can get them all in one place! Click through for more information.  Personally, I’d grab several for gift-giving.

10 Quotes That Inspire Me on a Daily Basis

Words from Inspiring Men and Women

Quote About Positive Energy

I got an e-mail recently from a woman who had nothing but wonderful things to say about me and Self Help Daily. I loved her from the start.  Such excellent taste. ;)

Kidding aside, my new friend told me that when she needed a little inspiration, she came to my website. She said she always found something to lift her spirits and make her smile.  That, my friends, was the most humbling compliment I’ve gotten in a while. I’m not lying, tears welled up and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to cry, laugh, smile, write more or never write again.

You know… one of those, “What do I do next” moments that make us just freeze in place for a few minutes until we remember how to breathe again.  In a few short sentences she summed up so much of what I want Self Help Daily to be – a place to find….

  • Information
  • Hope
  • Yourself

For whatever reason, I have an abundant supply of hope. Over the years, I’ve found that I may, at times, run out of willpower, patience, answers, or physical strength, but I have a never-ending supply of hope.  In fact, there have been times in my life when I’ve had to have enough hope for myself and a few other people. Maybe that’s why God loaded me up with such an amazing supply! That, combined with the fact that I’ve got a little a lot of Mary Poppins in me, simply means I’m always filled with hope – hope for tomorrow, hope for the best, and hope for happy endings.

10 Quotes that Always Inspire Me

I’ve confessed my obsession with inspirational quotes on Self Help Daily before. As I’ve said, I have (literally) notebooks filled with quotes.  Some of my favorite quotes are written on index cards, hanging on a cork board above my desk in my home office. The first three quotes listed below are, indeed, three of my perennial “hangers.”  I have these 3 quotes, as well as the other 7 commited to memory and take them everywhere I go.  I draw inspiration, motivation, and sometimes just a smile from them.

A couple of these quotes have actually starred in their own post here on the self help blog – star treatment for star quotes. I’ve linked the quotes to their bio accordingly! The links will open in a new window.

  1. Ye Have compassed this mountain long enough, turn you northward.” – Deuteronomy 2: 3 (KJV) or “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.” (NASB) [See A Quote of Biblical Proportions]
  2. Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou [See Maya Angelou Gets Right to the Point]
  3. Gambaru: Japanese for “Never ever give up, even – and especially when – there’s no chance of winning ” [Ann Curry, a Love Story, and Gambaru]
  4. “At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.” –  Christopher Reeve
  5. “Never let your memories be greater than your dreams.” – Doug Ivester
  6. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein
  7. “Everything around us is made up of energy. To attract positive things in your life, start by giving off positive energy.” – Celestine Chua
  8. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To these I commit my day.” – Max Lucado
  9. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. [More Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes]
  10. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Gandhi

The Marines Aren’t the Only Ones

Looking For a Few Good Men

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King Jr.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Speaking at Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom'

I guess it’s because we recently celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on top of the fact that today’s Muhammad Ali’s birthday, but I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery, boldness, and guts.  By contrast, I’ve been thinking about cowardliness and meekness.  The two aforementioned me epitomized bravery and redefined boldness.

Whether every single person agreed with them or not wasn’t the issue – everyone knew where they stood.  Everyone knew what they stood for, they didn’t have to guess or read between the lines.

I’d rather an individual have ZERO beliefs than to have beliefs and keep them under wraps for fear of what others will say or think.  People like this are cowards and are a disgrace to the causes or beliefs they supposedly hold.

Take Tim Tebow, for example.  Whether people agree with him or not, everyone knows Who he believes in and Who he has dedicated his life to.

Personally, I think it takes a borderline nitwit to have a problem with that. Seriously? With all the disgusting sport’s stories we read about, people are going to say negative things about a young man who’s a devout Christian? One who spends so much time with sick kids?  One who does nothing AT ALL to bring disgrace to his team, his sport, or his family?

I once heard that, very often, the people we choose to hate has more to do with US than THEM. Whew, I’m glad I don’t hate Tim Tebow, I wouldn’t want to know what that said about me.

This post may be a little all over the place (not even halfway into it, I”ve gone from a civil rights leader to a boxing legend, to a quarterback), and I apologize for that.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is this:  We have a lot of ills in our society that need to be taken care of.  From Alzheimer’s Disease to child abuse, there are countless diseases and social issues that, to borrow from the Marines, need a few good men.  Naturally, in this instance, I mean men and women.

If everyone keeps pussyfooting around, scared to death of stepping on anyone’s toes – nothing’s going to get done. Cowards accomplish nothing.

  • If you’re a Christian, say so!  Why should any of us who are Christians hesitate for a second to say so?  We didn’t do anything wrong!!!
  • If you’re Catholic, say so!  Again, you haven’t done anything wrong!
  • Whatever your beliefs are, don’t be ashamed of them or afraid of what people will think.  Think about it, do you really care what bigoted, narrow minded people think? If you do, then that’s the first problem you need to address.

Don’t be a coward, for crying out loud. Don’t refer to God as “a higher power” or “the universe.”   Here’s the thing with people who do that:

  • Either they don’t believe in God, but do believe that there is something which is a higher power. Elvis? Yeti? A Ninja?
  • Or maybe they don’t believe that there is a God, and the Bible was completely mistaken – however, the “universe” DOES wheel and deal with people’s fortunes and misfortunes.  Perchance the moon is in charge of good luck, the stars control bad luck, and the planets deal with reprobates.

Wouldn’t they be better off just using the old fallback Karma?

A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I am being a little nasty. But when you’ve been reading (like I have) a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr. you lose zero tolerance for fence sitters.  At a time when there was so much bigotry, prejudice, and racial tension in our country, this black man didn’t sit on his hands, hoping someone else would take care of the problem.  He didn’t think, “Uh Oh, if I say something, what will people think?”  He stood up. He spoke out. He rocked the world.  The hatred that killed him didn’t have the last word.  What would his haters have thought if someone had told them that one day this man would have his own holiday?! That little boys and girls would learn about him alongside other heroes and heroines in history class?

I’ve never kept my own beliefs a secret from anyone – but I’d be willing to fight for anyone else to have the freedom to express their beliefs, whether or not they line up with mine.

The majority of this post has dealt with religion and Spiritual beliefs, but boldness actually entails other areas as well.  Boldness is being able to stand up and do the right thing, in the right way. It’s believing in yourself, enough to know that what you feel is important.  What you say matters because you matter.  Throw timidity and cowardice aside and boldly be who you are and say what you feel.  Make this the year you come out of your shell and crush the shell fragments under your feet. Grind them into the ground!

If everyone boldly stood up for their beliefs, then the one’s who actually DO wouldn’t be so rare.  They wouldn’t be like beacons of light in darkness, they’d just be beautiful lights in a sea of other beautiful lights.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King Jr. (more Martin Luther King Jr Quotes)

Photo Credit: The image is Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Speaking at Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom. It’s available as an art print on Allposters.com

Clara and Clarence

Thoughts About This Thing we Call Life

Flowers on Kentucky Dam Village Golf Course

Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time.” – Betty Smith

I have a few people I’m excited for you to meet. You could say I”m even anxious for you to meet them! I think they have something important to teach you; a beautiful illustration to draw for you; and a life-changing way of looking at life that live inside your heart forever.  Their names are Clara and Clarence, but before making the introductions, there’s one thing you should know:  They both recently died.

There are many things in life that I do not do:

  • budget my money well
  • budget my money at all
  • pass by a Starbucks
  • stick to a diet
  • begin a diet
  • sit still
  • worry (life’s too short)
  • clean closets (life’s too short)
  • skip any of the 20,000 words women say daily
  • read the obituaries

Which is why it’s so strange that a few nights ago, while sitting with my husband, getting my 20,000 in, and looking through our local newspaper, I stopped at the obituaries section.  Some of the recently departed were represented with recent photographs and a few were represented with photographs that were apparently taken in their hey day (personally, that’s what I’d want!).  Two individuals were represented by sweet recent pictures, with pictures of each one of them below. Clever families! These two individuals (no doubt you’ve guessed by now that they’re the stars of this post, Clarence and Clara) caught my eye and I had to read more about them.

Clarence, with his very handsome pictures, was “above the fold,” so I read about him first. Kind of surreal, isn’t it? An entire life’s story summed up in 3 paragraphs. Twitter has nothing on obituaries.

First of all, I should tell you that Clara and Clarence (although their names sound as though they were twins or married SO long even their names began to look alike), were not related. They simply happened to pass away on the same day, rejoined their prospective spouses on the same day, and caught the eye of an overly caffeinated self help blogger on the same day.

Clarence wore a hat in each of his pictures. He had a precious smile in the more recent picture, and something about the smile told me he was a charmer. In the younger picture, he wore his Marine’s uniform and a serious expression replaced the smile. I guess that isn’t hard to understand.  The younger Clarence had movie star looks – with his strong manly facial features and George Clooney eyebrows.  Handsome Clarence lived to be 88 years old!  He was married to his wife for 48 years before losing her to Heaven. As I read the words, I couldn’t help smiling at the sweet reunion they surely had.

I hope he wore his hat.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

Clara’s adorable recent picture brought a tear to my eye.  Something about her eyes remind me of my grandmother’s eyes.  The same sparkle and the gleam was in this grandmother’s eyes that were in mine. Something about those eyes told me that these ladies were a lot alike, and I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet neither of them short-changed their 20,000 words a day either. In fact, Clara’s obituary stated that she liked sharing stories… that’s my girl!  No wonder I felt such a bond.

Clara beat Clarence by a few years.  This lovely lady lived to be 92 years old.  She was born in 1919!  How amazing is that? The fact that she was married in 1936 blew my youngest daughter’s mind. Clara, too, was preceded in death by her spouse. They had been married 57 years when she lost him.  The happy ending, of course, is that she found him.

I couldn’t help staring at Clara’s younger picture. What a beauty! The picture was apparently taken in the ’30s, which tells me she made one stunning bride.  In this picture, her hair’s up in the back and she’s wearing some sort of an elaborate flower in her hair.  Her beautiful face reminds me of the character Ado Annie in Oklahoma – and I’m willing to bet that  Mrs. Clara had at least as much spirit and sass.

After reading their life stories (infuriatingly summed up in mere paragraphs – I’d have loved to learn more about each), I finally pulled myself away from their beautiful faces.  I noticed that a few things lingered in my mind and heart:

  • The things each must have seen! Think about the things you and I have seen in our lifetimes. Now, imagine that these two saw all of those as well as SO much more. How fascinating it would have been to sit down with either of them and get their thoughts about past presidents, world events, inventions, fashion, cars, and more.
  • Each had long, successful marriages and were each reunited with their sweethearts.
  • One of the things said about Clara was that she enjoyed spending time with her family. I hope everyone realizes that, when it comes to their parents and grandparents, the world literally lights up when you walk through the door.  Make it happen as much as possible and keep that light burning as long as you can.
  • During their last days, how short their lives must have seemed and how fast they must have seemed to fly by.

The last thought has especially stayed with me. Think back over your own life. No matter how many years your thoughts will have to span, it seems to have all gone by so fast. Think of past silly worries (extra weight, dining room tables, “he said this instead of that,” your spouse not getting what you wanted for your birthday or Christmas, the scratch on your car…).  Today, do any of them really matter?  Don’t you regret ever spending time feeling sad, worried, or mad about the silly stuff?!

“Don’t be afraid your life will end; be afraid that it will never begin.” – Grace Hansen

Make no mistake about it, each of us will one day have our lives boiled down to a couple of paragraphs. I’m not trying to depress you and I DO NOT want you to think about death.  Au contraire! I want you to think about life!  I want you to think about living your life out loud, making each moment count double, laughing more, smiling longer, rolling with the punches, loving more, and spreading happiness and laughter everywhere you go.  I want you to get as much joy and adventure out of walking through your front yard as you would on an African safari.  When you look at the world, I want you to see a playground – not places you wish you could go, cars you wish you could drive, money you wish you had…. None of that creates happiness.

Happiness comes from within, not without. Over the years, my husband and I have lived everywhere from Madisonville, Kentucky to Wichita, Kansas and from Washington, Indiana to Pensacola Beach, Florida.  From Rantoul, Illinois to Webster City, Iowa!  Shew, I’m glad we’ve settled down here in Owensboro, Kentucky – it’s not easy always remembering a new phone number, zip code, or address!

When we were first married, Michael (husband) was in the Air Force.  With a baby on the way, we lived in a tiny little apartment near the Military Base in Illinois.  You could sit on the couch and see the entire apartment. Other servicemen and their families lived in the apartment complex and people were coming and going 24 hours a day. Saying it was noisy is an understatement. Tiny, noisy… and I loved it!

“We spend too much time living in the ‘what if’ and need to learn to live in the ‘what is.’” – Rev. Leroy Allison

When Michael and I, along with our three beautiful daughters and (at the time) one beautiful cat lived on Pensacola Beach, Florida – we had come a long way from that tiny noisy apartment. You practically needed a tour guide to take you from one end of the beach house to the other. Practically the entire back of the house was glass, so we could watch dolphins, seagulls, boats, waves, and pelicans as we ate at the dinner table, as I cooked in the kitchen, and as we watched tv in the living room. Noisy? Not unless you call the sounds of the ocean noisy.

Moral of the story (do written words count toward the 20,0000? If so, I annihilate that humble little goal): I swear to you, if you take the fact that I had my 4 girls then (the cat was a girl, too)  – I was no happier in the beach house than in my noisy little apartment.  I smiled and laughed (and talked, Lord, I talked) in each home.  It matters not WHERE life puts you, it matters how much life is IN you.

It’s possibly the strangest thing I’ve ever done, but I’ve kept the pictures of Clara and Clarence. In case I ever feel the weight of the world or have cause to feel down, I’m going to look at their pictures and let them remind me that life doesn’t last forever. Life is as beautiful as it is precious and like any fun ride, there will be ups as well as downs. But are we ever really ready to get off the ride?!

If the heroes of our story could come back to earth and be the age you are right now, what do you think they’d do? Would they worry and fret over things that don’t matter or would they know that “all this” doesn’t last forever? Imagine how they’d look… I mean really look… at a butterfly or tree.  Imagine how they’d close their eyes and listen to a songbird as though it were a concert.

Most of all, can you imagine the look on their faces when they were able to see their loved ones again?! They’d embrace them with their body, heart, and spirit.

We still have it all! Butterflies, birds, trees, family, friends… they’re things we often take for granted.  The next time you see a butterfly, really look at it. SEE the beauty, fragility, and splendor. It’s like life. So much beauty but  far too often, we look past it rather than at it.

It’s my deepest hope that Clara and Clarence will help you slow down and enjoy life more. Embrace it. I want you to live life with such passion that when you leave a room, people notice the void!

Maya Angelou said it best with one of my favorite quotes of all time,  “Life likes to be taken by the lapel and told, “I’m with you kid. Let’s go!” 

Don’t ever let me catch you without life’s lapel in your hands!

Stealing Father Time’s Running Shoes

Plus a Great Quote About Life From a Most Unexpected Source

Water

“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” – Winnie the Pooh

And Winnie always said he was a bear of very little brains. Ha.

This morning, my server was having an identity crisis. For a while there I thought it was in the market for a new career. Fortunately, it finally remembered itself, allowing me to get back to business.  However, for a couple of hours, I practically stared at my to do list, have tempted to scratch out “To Do” and write “Can’t Do” in its place.

I figured that I could sit and fume or get off my derriere and do something productive.  I did some laundry, brewed a pot of green tea, read from a new library book, and did 20 minutes of yoga.  The kind of morning I once took for granted. In the span of two hours (8:00 am – 10:00 am), I gained a little insight about time and maybe even life.  On a typical morning, these two hours are spent updating my food blog, sorting through e-mail accounts, updating my cat blog, moderating comments, and getting posts going on my self help blog and office supply blog.  Normally, these two hours fly by so fast you can almost hear the swoooosh.

By contrast, the clock almost seemed to be going backwards this morning.  At one point (ten minutes into yoga), I looked at the clock and even told my cat Alexa, “I think time’s literally standing still.” (She always pulls up a front row seat for the yoga show – wouldn’t miss it for all the salmon in the world.)

When I sat back down at my desk, I discovered that my server had regained its composure. I had a funny feeling inside that I couldn’t identify. Was it disappointment? Was it relief?   I decided that it was a mixture of the two and Alexa and I got down to business.

In one of those great twists of irony, I opened one of my notebooks of quotations (yes, this super geek collects quotes in notebooks) to choose a quote for Self Help Daily’s quote of the day. The first quote to jump off the page was the one I posted at the top of the page.

The analogy between my two morning hours and the countless hours of our lives is a striking one.  When I “busy away” my morning hours, they disappear in a blur.  Two hours feel like ten minutes.  On the other hand, a leisurely morning made two hours seemingly stretch.  Make no mistake about it, I’m not suggesting that you quit your job or drop out of school!  Nor am I suggesting that those of you who (like me) work from home start riding the couch and eating bon bons.

I’m just saying this: Time is a precious gift – one of the gifts we most take for granted. Some people get so busy trying to “get ahead” that they don’t take the time to enjoy the scenery along the way. Please don’t let that happen to you.  You don’t have to be in GO mode all day and night.  It may sound cheesy but pause and slow down a little each day or a little each evening.

If we don’t slow down enough to appreciate our lives, they’ll fly by so fast that you’ll almost be able to hear the swoooosh.

More Inspirational Quotes about Life

Can You Hear Me Now?

How Humans Sometimes Wax Ridiculous

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye but consider not the beam that is in thy own eye? - Matthew 7:3

I’m often fascinated with humans. We can be so ridiculous. Regardless of the evidence to suggest otherwise, we’re convinced that we are, almost without fail…

  • the one in the right
  • the one being “wronged”

For example – and I’m as guilty as anyone with this one –  When we’re in a hurry, we get incredibly annoyed with slow drivers.  How dare they poke in our way?! Why don’t they just stay home?! Yeah, that’s reasonable – they should stay home just because they hinder our speed.  A few days ago, I was in a blistering hurry and a woman (around 70 years old) was in front of me going about 5 under the speed limit.  Before realizing it, I mentally called for her license to be cut up.

Mind you, I kept my distance because the only thing worse than slow drivers are the goobers who get right up on their backside.  But, I definitely wanted to cut up her license…. simply because she was slowing me down. And it was my own fault! I’M the one who should have left earlier. Obviously she did.

However, when we’re out for a casual drive, how mad do we get when other drivers are rushing around?!  We’re like, “Where’s the fire?!” or “Go, ahead, drive like hell, you’ll get there soon enough.”  That one’s always a lovely sentiment.

Ridiculous humans!

Another example is one that I’m actually not remotely guilty of (go figure!).  Have you ever seen someone who was flabbergasted, annoyed, and generally peeved because they were asked to repeat something?  Then, have you seen the SAME person get flabbergasted, annoyed, and generally peeved when they have to ask someone to repeat something? When they have to do the repating, it’s the OTHER person’s fault. They either:

  • weren’t paying attention
  • weren’t listening
  • can’t hear worth a lick!

When they have to ask for something to be repeated, it’s the OTHER person’s fault, of course.  They either:

  • mumbled
  • whispered
  • didn’t say it right

The point is, we all have to ask for things to be repeated sometimes.  Sometimes there’s too much background noise and we didn’t quite catch it.  Sometimes the other person REALLY didn’t have their volume turned up very loud.  And sometimes, someone speaks to us when our thoughts are a billion and one miles away.

It happens!

Also, I’ve noticed that if my sinuses are really full, it affects my hearing. It kind of feels like I just got out of a swimming pool sometimes.

If you find yourself having to ask for things to be repeated from just about everyone (as opposed to only one or two people) on a regular basis, you might want to get your hearing checked. Getting corrective hearing devices is no different than getting a pair of glasses or contact lenses.  They open up a whole new world and you’ll be amazed at everything you’re missing!  I’ll never forget the look on my mom’s face when she heard birds singing again.  She was like, “Joi! Do you hear that? Birds!

I just don’t get why people on either side of the equation get annoyed. I mean, how hard is it to repeat a couple of words?!  Smile (after all, they actually care enough to want to hear what you said) and simply repeat what you said.  If you keep getting annoyed, they’ll eventually quit caring what you ever have to say!  I noticed this with my mom and mother in law.  They each became very hard of hearing.  Most of us simply turned our volumes up around them, without getting annoyed (of course).  However, some impatient people would act “put out” when they had to repeat something – so both ladies simply wouldn’t ask them to repeat.  They’d either just laugh or say something completely off the wall.  My mother in law would sometimes just say, “Hmph.” Such a character.  The look on her face when she hmph-ed was priceless!

Also, a word of advice is you happen to know someone who is a little (or a lot) hard of hearing… this should be obvious, but if they keep asking you to repeat yourself, guess what… you aren’t talking loudly enough for them! Here’s the thing, people speak in different tones and volumes and sometimes one person out of a hundred has trouble “tuning into” your frequency.  If it’s the case, for both of your sakes, speak up!

Finally, I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw in a little motherly wisdom:  Take care of you ears.  There’s absolutely no reason to play a radio (especially in a car or with headphones) as loudly as most people do. It’s horrible for your ears.  Turn the music down for crying out loud – it’ll still be the same music.

You’ll just be able to still enjoy it 10 years from now.

Make Each Moment Count Double

Expand the Moment and Quiet your Mind

As you know, I’m a huge fan of books (which is why I do so many book reviews). I love to read them, touch them, smell them, and generally befriend them. Sometimes, while in a bookstore, I’ll pick up books that I have absolutely NO intention of reading, simply to see what makes them tick.  I found myself reading the inside jacket once of a Military Warships book just to see what they had going on.  They made it seem so fascinating I nearly bought the book!

Truth be told, sometimes I read books that I don’t agree with whatsoever, simply to see someone else’s point of view.

The only thing that makes me shut a book and toss it (a couple of times in the trash) is if the author is derogatory, disrespectful, or malicious about (or toward) anyone – especially God. Other people can agree or disagree with me on this but they’ll never make me change my approach. When you sit down with a book, it’s as though you’re letting the author into your home and you’re sitting with him/her having a visit.  Frankly, I’d never want hate or intolerance in my presence, so, yeah, I’ve been known to slam the door in the face of a few authors.

However, I do read a lot of books that I don’t completely “get” or agree with because I think it’s a fantastic mental challenge.  Also, when you see where other people are “coming from,” it strengthens your own appreciation for and understanding of where you’re “coming from.”

I recently read a book that was sent for me to review, Expand This Moment: Focused Meditations to Quiet Your Mind, Brighten Your Mood, and Set Yourself Free, that was sort of in this category. I understand where the author’s going, but our steps aren’t exactly side by side. It’s as though I see his footsteps along the dirt path – and appreciate where he has been and where he’s heading – but my steps go in another direction.

That’s the great thing about books though and the beautiful thing about the visits we have with authors – disagreeing is perfectly fine! What’s more, 20 of us could read this same book and only 2 of us see our footprints in a different direction.

This book is a perfect example of my enjoyment for books that bring the reader out of their own familiar territory. Most of us aren’t that familiar with chakras or “merging” with our source, and the concept of waking up our solar plexus is way beyond us.  Most of us never knew it was napping.

However, after reading the entire book, I have to say this – the author is certainly right, we do need to find a way to live more in the moment. I’ve always been about embracing each moment and refusing to live in moments past or moments yet to come. In fact, on my mental fitness blog, Out of Bounds, I’ve almost always sign each entry with the words, “Make each moment count double.” It’s just my way of reminding everyone to embrace the moment we’re in and squeeze all the enjoyment and goodness out of it. If we’re keeping company with ghosts from the past or walking with worries about tomorrow we aren’t embracing the moment and we certainly aren’t making it count double.

In Expand This Moment: Focused Meditations to Quiet Your Mind, Brighten Your Mood, and Set Yourself Free, John Selby offers up a series of FOCUS PHRASES to us to help you “expand” moments. My favorite one is, “I choose to enjoy this moment.” I think it’s a great way to remind yourself to stay within the moment and keep negative thoughts at bay.

I enjoyed reading a book that “expanded” my thoughts. Reading books that are “on par” with your thought processes are wonderful experiences but sometimes books that are “off par” with your thought processes are just the sort of jolt you need to challenge your way of thinking and open up new paths.  I also love the approach the author has for quietening the mind.  There’s something profoundly healing and healthy about quiet.  My oldest daughter, Emily, came through the back door last night and practically froze in her tracks.  She smiled and said, “Awww, it’s so quiet.”  She seemed to let the quietness sink in and release the day’s tensions as it erased the noise and chaos of a day working with school children!

The quietness that fills our home during the day is something my cat, Alexa, and I take for granted.  Generally, the loudest noises within these walls from 7 am to 5 pm are a coffee pot in the kitchen, the sound of my fingers on the keyboard, and the low hum of a dryer from the back of the house.  Quietness is a beautiful thing, and quietening the mind brings about the same type of peace and, as far as I’m concerned, healing. Ironically, John Selby has another book entitled Quiet Your Mind: An Easy-to-Use Guide to Ending Chronic Worry and Negative Thoughts and Living a Calmer LifeSelf-Help Books). I haven’t read this book yet but I’d very much like to.

His newest book, Expand This Moment, reaffirmed my love of the MOMENT and has encouraged me to start signing off each post on Self Help Daily with the same salutation I use on Out of Bounds. And with that said…

Make each moment count double!
~ Joi

Empty Spaces

An Excerpt from The Tao of Motherhood

The Tao of Motherhood
Empty Spaces

The empty spaces make
wholeness. The emptiness in a
pot makes it valuable; you can
fill it with food or water.

Pay attention to what isn’t. Listen
for what your child does not say.
Observe what she does not do.

Similarly, know that your child
uses your empty spaces. What
you do not say resounds. What
you do not do impresses.

– from The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure

The above is a beautiful excerpt from a beautiful little book, The Tao of Motherhood.   Had it not been for our week-long, greatly uninvited and grossly unappreciated internet abstinence, I would have written about this beautiful book sooner.  However, if you use the Amazon river of greatness, you can STILL have this book delivered in time for Mother’s Day.  It’s truly, truly a wonderful little book filled with beauty.

What’s amazing about the words above is this:  The reader doesn’t have to be a mother, or even a female, to benefit from the lesson taught in wording so brief.

We can all benefit from the reminder that’s at the heart of this passage.  People will learn more from what they see us do than what they hear us say.  Sometimes they will get a better indication of our character by the things we DON’T say as opposed to the things we DO say.

My mother was incredibly non-judgmental.  She didn’t look down on others, irregardless of their circumstances or abilities/inabilities.  She never copped a holier-than-thou attitude.  Ever.  The thought of her saying something derogatory or insulting about another human being is almost laughable.  Of course, there were behaviors that she didn’t condone and if she thought anyone was being cruel or mean-spirited, she’d be the first to say so.

But there’s a difference between hating what people do and hating people, isn’t there?  There’s a clear line and she never crossed it.

More importantly, she didn’t have a racist or bigoted bone in her body. She didn’t see color when she looked at people, she didn’t see ethnicity.  She saw people – made by God, loved by God. In fact, one of the things I hate most in this world is racism, which is something I strongly shared with my mother.

As a result of the things my mother didn’t say and the hatred she didn’t possess, she raised a daughter who is filled far more with love than with hate.

The “emptiness” of hate and the nonjudgmental attitudes continued to my own three daughters.  Because they didn’t hear their mother judging others or being unkind and cruel, they have never taken part in the ugliness themselves.  It wasn’t something I sat them down one day and drilled into their heads, “You must not make fun of others or look down on them.  Even more importantly, you must not ever be bigoted! ”  When you “leave out” certain things in your life, others will notice – whether they’re children or adults.

As Vimala McClure said, “Empty spaces make wholeness.”

Simply Put, Life Could be Easier

KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid

Right off the bat, let me admit that I have a flair for the dramatic. My favorite actors, actresses, athletes, and.. well.. people in general.. then to be those who flirt with eccentricity. Birds of a feather and all that, I guess.  I’m drawn to those who live life out loud and dance to their own music, whether or not anyone else hears it.

I’m also ridiculously fond of outrageous Starbucks drinks and exotic, fancy food and desserts.  Loud jewelry? Bold colors? Crazy movies?  Yes. Yes. Yes.

So when I advocate simplicity, I’m not advocating letting anything or anyone drain the fun out of life or cause its color to fade.  Far from it! I’d fight the hounds of hell to keep all the zest and color life wants to serve me.

Actually, when you stop to think about it, we can appreciate life more thoroughly if we simplify a lot of the things we do – beginning with our thoughts.

There’s a well-meaning, ambitious generation living right now that’s convinced we have to see everything, go everywhere, and do everything there is to do.  Bigger, bolder, brighter.  “Enough” is as elusive as perfect meatloaf at your in-laws.    Many seem to be looking for just the thing to make them happy or successful and, sadly, many of them equate money with each of these destinations.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Money doesn’t buy happiness – never has, never will.  There are just as many unhappy rich people as there are unhappy poor people.  Many times the only difference is they trade troubles.  Poor Pete may worry about the rent while putting in 10 hour workdays while Richie Rich may worry about the effects his crumbling marriage will have on the kids…. wherever they are.

I’m not saying these are concrete troubles, so don’t e-mail me any nastiness. I’m simply using an example – everyone has problems, everyone has worries, and everyone has a certain level of stress.  What’s more, everyone has a fence – you know, the one where the greenery of the grass is up for comparison.  I read a quote once that said something like this: “If we put our troubles in a heap along with everyone else, when we saw the troubles THEY had, we’d quickly run to retrieve our own.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that.  A lot.

I hear from many, many people through Self Help Daily and Out of Bounds and I’ve noticed something : People need to practice the art of simplicity more.  It’s nearly a lost art. Everyone wants to do too much, feel too much, and go too far. Contentment is a beautiful thing, but you have to let it find you – you can’t chase it down.

You’ll simply scare it off.

When I think of keeping things simple, I think of the acronym KISS – or Keep It Simple, Stupid.  I’m not reverting back to first grade, I didn’t come up with this acronym.

In praise of simplicity, let’s look at a few examples, a few people, places, and things that KISS really good.

  • Generally speaking, the best burger in town can be found at one of those amazing drive-ins or diners where they simply make burgers. They take buns, they cook the ground beef, they throw on fresh lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, and mayo and make you and your taste buds all kinds of happy.
  • George Strait.  The man has never tried to  be louder than the songs he sings. He doesn’t try to upstage the lyrics or the music.  He sings the songs and has a loyal fan base most only dream about. No drama, no extremes, no foolishness.  Just great music again and again.
  • State Parks provide history, beauty, and relaxation – all without the clicks, whistles, and razzmatazz of outrageously priced attractions.  The scenery cannot be beaten and gracing state parks provides support for your state’s park and recreation system.  It’s all good.  It’s all simply perfect.
  • This one will probably go right past you if you aren’t a blogger, but bare with me.  The Thesis Theme for WordPress is what most would call a “simple” theme. Unless you customize it, yourself, there are no sliding, gliding pictures or multiple small images beckoning your attention.  There is this:  Content. What you write and whatever image you choose to accompany what you write.  Simple.  Many bloggers are clamoring for a more glitzy blogs these days.  I’ll be honest, I use a few other themes on a few of my other blogs – simply because I like for as many of my blogs to look as different as possible (I have to keep from boring my cat. Her attention span’s shorter than Little Jimmie Dicken’s shadow.). However, I can unequivocally say this:  When it comes to affiliate sales (on applicable blogs), Thesis blogs outperform the rest so heavily that I’m often tempted to go 100 percent Thesis.   My Thesis-based sites simply blow the others out of the water.  Heck, it’s not even close.
  • Rachael Ray has made, like, a  gazillion dollars simply by being likable and cooking. That’s it. She doesn’t try to be controversial or say things that’ll draw attention to herself.  She simply cooks, shares her recipes, and smiles a great deal.  Simple.

Simplicity is a beautiful thing, no matter how you dice it.

If you suspect that you’ve been trying to do too many things lately, chase too many dreams, wear too many hats – you get the idea – do yourself a favor and step back.  What things are absolutely necessary? What things are just creating clatter and discord in your world?  What things could you let go and never miss again?  What matters most in your life?

If you can create a simpler life and a quieter world, your body, mind, and soul will run over one another trying to thank you first.  My money’s on the soul – He travels lighter.