Category Archives: Inspiration

Learning from our shame: Brené Brown Part II

If you watched the video from my Friday post, this follow-up talk gives a more complete picture of the effects of vulnerability on even the most high-profile “experts.” Brené Brown talks about the repercussions of the first TED talk, and how becoming the “Vulnerability TED action figure”changed her life.

Even she, author of Daring Greatly, had not realized how she had been engineering her life to stay small.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” —Brené Brown

Click here to see her talk:

 

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional. – Max Lucado

Photo courtesy of Salva Barbera https://www.flickr.com/photos/decar66/

Photo courtesy of Salva Barbera https://www.flickr.com/photos/decar66/

May those who lived through war and died for war remind us that it demands a price too high, creates hate too long-lasting, and gives back too little.

May we choose words and diplomacy over weapons. 

 

Why you need deep roots

shallow-roots

I took this picture on our Canadian Thanksgiving walk at Shaw Woods. It’s difficult to grasp this picture at a glance, so I’ll walk you through it. The sheer rock face to the left used to be the surface on which the tree grew. The clump of brownish tangle forming a V shape opposite it are the roots of the tree. We know the tree sustained itself for many years on that precarious and not-very-nourishing place because it grew to a substantial size. You can see the circumference of the trunk above the heads of my mother and my son. Their size gives you some perspective on the size of the tree.

The roots of the tree could not penetrate the solid rock to grow deeply, so root tendrils reached out horizontally over the slanting rock in their search for sustenance.

Such a precarious state could not endure. At some point, a storm-driven gust of wind exerted such pressure on the tree that its roots peeled away from the impenetrable stone and it toppled. Without deep roots solidly anchoring it into the ground it could not survive a storm.

We can learn lessons from this tree.

Metaphorically speaking, to survive life’s storms, people need roots entrenched deeply into solid, anchoring sustenance: faith, nurturing friendships, loving family. Sure, some can survive for a while by spreading themselves thinly over precarious and not-very-nurturing surfaces, reaching out for sustenance through such things as jobs, money or alcohol and drugs. Like the tree in the photo, some people last surprisingly long that way. But eventually a storm comes with a wind too strong to withstand: the job disappears, the money dries up or the alcohol and drugs destroy ability to function effectively. Then the shallow roots peel away and everything topples.

Are you deeply rooted and ready for a storm? 

I took this picture - looking through the thin roots -  from the place where my mother and son were standing before. It is easy to see how shallow the roots were.

I took this picture – looking through the thin roots – from the place where my mother and son were standing before. It is easy to see how shallow the roots were.

God-incidences: What is going to surprise you today?

My friend, Étienne, and I learned—again—last week to open ourselves up to surprises and to look for the magic. 

He has spent the last few years studying and working to become a minister with the United Church of Canada. I have shared this spiritual journey with him as part of his discernment team.

Last week, when we arrived for a scheduled meeting with the committee that supports him through this process, we greeted with surprise and delight the other ministry student from our church, Mark, and his support person, Derek. We did not know they would be there. After joyful hugs we decided that lunch was in order, when all the meetings concluded.

Before lunch, the four of us agreed that our lunch would improve greatly with the added presence of our minister, Ellie. When Mark and Derek dropped by the church to invite her to join us, the staff told them they had just missed her; she had stepped out for an appointment. Disappointed but undaunted, we proceeded to the restaurant and ordered lunch.

Meanwhile, Ellie arrived at the place of her appointment a half hour or so ahead of her appointment time; she allowed herself extra time to eat the salad she had packed that morning. She parked in the lot and took out the salad: No fork. She surveyed her surroundings, seeking a place to grab a quick bite. She noticed a small restaurant. As she walked up to the door, she saw through the window the four of us waving at her.

We all laughed at the surprises the day brought: the unexpected meeting of the four of us, the happy opportunity to share lunch together, the unfortunate/fortunate missing fork, the God-incidence of the proximity of the restaurant to the place of the appointment.

“Be open to surprises and look for the magic,” we said.  

Amen to that.

It is Étienne’s birthday today. Happy birthday, my inspired friend.

Photo courtesy of Étienne LeSage

Photo courtesy of Étienne LeSage

Hallowe’en: Tickle Trunks and Friendly Giants

In a Hallowe’en store this week, the clerk selling me the cape for my son’s costume (Superman, NA NA NANA NA NA NA, Superman) asked me what my costume would be this year. I said, “I’m not sure. I’ll dig through what we have in the basement and find something.”

“We have a tickle trunk full of costumes in our basement too,” she said.

The clerk was about 20 years old, so I thought she would not know about Mr. Dressup’s tickle trunk. I said, “I’m so happy to hear you use that term. I thought you were a little young to know that show.”

“What show?” she said.

I explained Mr. Dressup to her, and told her to look him up. “I will,” she said. “I had no idea. I just thought “tickle trunk” was what you called a costume box.”

Thank you, Mr. Dressup, for coining a timeless phrase.

The conversation triggered memories about other children’s shows. There’s no better way to celebrate Hallowe’en than with the wonderful opening to the Friendly Giant, Hallowe’en edition.

Chocolate is good for me, isn’t it?

I prefer savoury foods most of the time, so I rarely eat sweets. When I do crave sweets, chocolate is the answer. 

This morning, I ate a little chocolate with my morning coffee. Imagine how pleased I was, then, when I read the headline”Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth.

All right! Chocolate: Good and good for me; now that was good news.

Alas, my spirits sank as I learned more. First, the Mars Bar people funded the study that yielded these results. No matter how enthusiastically I wanted to believe the findings, I knew I must bear the potential bias in mind. Second, milk chocolate didn’t do the trick; the darker the chocolate, the better. I like dark chocolate, but sometimes a melt-in-the-mouth milk chocolate satisfies the craving best, so the study results dashed yet another hope. Third, the study showed that to achieve any noticeable results, a person would have to consume at least 25 chocolate bars per day. Even my craving-est craving wouldn’t compel me to eat that much chocolate, and the damages would outweigh (pun intended) the benefits. Finally, the study showed that tea, celery, parsley, buckwheat and the white pulp of oranges contain the flavanols that offer the same benefit: From the sublime to the . . . bo-o-o-ring.

Someday scientists might be able to formulate a medication that contains the 900 mg of flavanols required to stave off memory loss. A wonderful idea, but popping a pill would not satisfy in the same way as a decadent milk chocolate bar.

I guess I will make myself a cup of tea, chomp on some celery and add a little dark chocolate at the end. And then, every once in a while I will savour a lovely melt-in-my-mouth milk chocolate decadence, just for fun.  

 

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