Monday, April 28, 2008

"My weapons are..."

It's funny what occurs to a person in a half-doze.

I was laying on the couch, trying to encourage our little one to go to sleep, watching Disney's Pocahontas (historically inaccurate, but more on that another time). I was succeeding in dozing off myself, while little one was still a bit restive.

While dozing (and I'm sure this phrase is not in the movie) these words came to me: "My weapons are light and love."

Odd weapons, don't you think?

But not so odd, when you realize our mission in life is to bring people together.

"A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another." - John 13:34,35, (Madman's paraphrase).

Strictly speaking, these weapons wage war on our true enemy, the powers of darkness. They negate the powers of darkness, and allow those who have been bound by them to see the light and feel the love. However, it can take a lot of loving to break through the walls of darkness and let the light shine in on a person's heart and soul. And we risk much hurt along the way.

But isn't it worth it? When you were reclaimed, wasn't it worth it? I thought so.

So use the weapons of light and love to defeat the true enemy, and win a soul to freedom.

With Christ's Help,
Yes, You Can!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

April 20th (a.k.a. "420", "four-twenty", etc. day)

Today is a counterculture holiday of sorts. 420, either the date or the time, was a code to meet to get high, exchange 'goodies', and otherwise get recreationally wasted.

It's surprising that it took me this long (age fifty-one) to find out about it.

Then again, I tended to run in difference circles. Still do, come to that.

As regarding recreational pharma of any sort, the temptation is there, but the fear of consequences is also there. I guess I came to that early, in high school. From everything I hear, I was unusual in this regard. Teens are not supposed to be able to think these things through like that. A recent Scientific American article (March, '08) states that the human forebrain (where higher reasoning functions are processed) doesn't get fully myelinated until age twenty years old, or so. A lot of people write off kids thinking on a higher level because of that.

I don't think so.

Just because it's more difficult, doesn't mean they can't. Many kids/teens think better than some adults.

Then again, some don't.

Check out this link:

Randy Cassingham's Blog: Two Teen Tales

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now that you're back, you tell me, which teen did the better thinking?

Use that lump of gray/white matter between your years.

Yes, you can.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Go Not Gentle Into That Good Night

There's a lot you can learn from your pets.

Take our last dog and current cat, for instances:

Our dog, Missy, was the outdoors dog's outdoors dog. She gloried in snow storms, rejoiced in rainstorms, and whenever the occasion arose, revelled in running free with the steers on the in-laws' ranch.

She was never trained as a hunting dog, but she knew how to hunt: she did so to survive and feed her pups. That's how she came to us in the first place; somebody had dumped her, either pregnant or with her puppies, out in the middle Weld County. They lived a semi-feral existence until a farmer family found them. The farmer was able to find homes for the pups easily enough, but with the uncertain history of the mother was unable to find a home for her. Until my wife came along.

Our family at the time (specifically the two girls) wanted a dog. I'm not a dog person, and my wife, due to childhood traumas, detested dogs in general. But, the girls wanted a dog for Christmas, so my wife set out to look for one.

Missy saw my wife, knew that she had to win her over if she was to find a new home, and did her level best to do so. My wife took the dog home, and while we brought her home for "the kids", she remained forever my wife's dog.

Mike the Tomcat was the only one to have any real misgivings. Eventually they settled there differences and agreed to disagree, staying on opposite sides of whichever room. Since Mike was my cat, this made for some interesting moments when my wife and I sat side-by-side on the sofa: we would cuddle a bit, the dog and cat would growl, we would have to break up an alley fight in the living room, then go back to trying to get some time together again. Sometimes the dog went outside, sometimes the cat was sent to the basement. Sometimes we just sat on opposite sides of the room. (In compromise, nobody wins, everyone is merely equally unhappy.)

I guess I'll have to include Mike, though that was not my original thought. Mike died sometime before Missy did, being quite old when Missy came to us. Even though he had cataracts, he still wanted to go out, especially at night, to 'cat around' a bit. At this point, he'd stay out most of the night (except for bad weather) and be waiting at the door in the morning.

One morning he wasn't there.

I won't go into detail as to what went through my heart and mind. We called and whistled for him every day for the next three days. Our kids had given up on him and were beginning to think I was a little nuts to continue to whistle for him, especially since the weather had turned cold. I knew he couldn't see well enough to find his way back from where ever. But I knew, if he could hear me whistle, he would follow the whistle home.

On the evening of the fourth day, while I was whistling for him, I heard a plaintive "meow." And there he was, cold and bedraggled, but generally healthy. I was never so glad that I had taught him to come to a whistle than that night. After getting a good supper, he alternately shivered and purred himself to sleep on my lap, Missy notwithstanding.

After that, his catabout times were restricted to about ten-minutes' time in the evening. I think he understood, a little, that it was for his own good. But he always drug his heels (unless it was raining) on his way back in.

He died a couple of years later when he was seventeen years old, his old cat body finally wearing out on him, just after Easter that year. We buried him under the peach tree. For what it's worth, that was the first year that tree put on fruit.

Missy, as I said, threw herself into enjoying life, protecting the family from steers at the ranch, and even a bear, once, while on a camping trip. She never walked when she could run. The squirrels were never safe in our yard as she leaped to catch them. They generally gained the height of a tree or the top of our privacy fence in time. but they were certainly a good deal slimmer than they would have liked.

What laid her low was a stroke early one Sunday morning. By this time the kids had moved out, and Missy was very much 'our' dog now. I say 'our', but really, she liked me, but she loved my wife. She was too big to be a lap dog, but she tried to be one anyway.

I awoke early that morning, and walking into the kitchen to find Missy lying on the floor, staring sightlessly, her legs making scrabbling motions as if she were running (like dogs sometimes do when they're dreaming). She yipped occasionally as if in fear, running as fast as she could from the darkness overtaking her, as if she could out run death itself. With a final shake, she stopped.

I put my ear to her side, and listened as her heart ran down from it's racing to nothing at all, like an old wind-up clock ticking it's last tick. I told my wife, who had joined me by that time in trying to comfort Missy, that it was over.

Uncharacteristically, she started to cry (I'm more likely to, and I hadn't), berating herself for crying over a "... Damn, Dumb dog!" There was not much left to do but hold my wife and cry with her.

I've written Missy's elegy some time ago, so I won't repeat it here. I'll try to post a link to it later.

The last two lines of Dylan Thomas' poem reads: "Go not gentle into that good night./Rage, rage against the dying of the light." I think that just about sums up Missy.

Snuggles, our current cat, is on her way out. I can say that in full certainty. She has developed a cancer on her abdomen that would surely qualify her for euthanasia if I took her to a vet. Yet she still lives her life as best she can as an old lady kitty, not quite up to her kitten name of "Fizz Kit" any longer, except when the three-year-old comes careening through the house.

I ask her, not really expecting a reply, whether it's time to be put down, to end it. The only reply I get is her steady cat stare, and her steady purr.

I take that as a "Let's keep it going a while longer." We can learn a lesson from that cat.

"Go not gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Yes, You Can

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A little Bit Behind ...

While the theme of this blog is "Yes, You Can!" it is important to remember a couple of things:

Time Management
and Sleep.

I've managed to over commit on my personal projects, with the end result of not getting any of them done. Specifically: Progress on editing Yes, You Can: the Book, writing two nutshell reviews of places I've recently dined at that were good enough to talk about, writing at least one more entry here (since the 9th), and getting to the doctor.

Note that the last item should have come first. In fact, it didn't get done at all.

So, to begin:

Time Management:
We all have a thousand and one things demanding our attention every day. As the saying goes, though, we gotta keep the Main Thing the Main Thing. Set the priorities. Be ruthless. Get the "Have-to's" done ahead of the "Want-to's."

And among the Have-to's, make sure you include your proper rest. If that means eight (8) hours to feel at your best, get your eight hours! Most of us (myself included) are "just getting by" with enough sleep to keep us functioning, but not enough to be 100%.

And along with the "Have-to's" include time for your spirit. For me, that means joining with others in worship, praise and learning at my church. Sometimes I get to help with the teaching side of that (which is good for my spirit, as I am a teacher at heart).

Reading over the above, I see that Sleep made it into the list already. No need to rehash.

Just keep the priorities straight.

God Bless!

Yes, You Can!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The First Day ...

... Of the rest of your life.

Yeah, another hackneyed phrase.

I just wanted you all (y'all) to remember, the last page in your book isn't written yet.

If you have regrets, if you're not proud of your life, you've lived down to expectations instead of up, you can still change your direction and actions, and start doing things you ARE proud of. You can do things that make people proud to know you, proud to call you their friend, and feel lucky to be called your friend.

Even if you feel you have let everyone around you down, you aren't done until your last page is written.

Make the change.

Write something good on today's (and then next, and the next...) page of your life.

Yes, You Can!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Best Sales Pitch ...

Today's blog is short and sweet. (but it's potentially a lot of work.)

The Best Sales Pitch in the World gets you no sales...

... Unless a buyer hears or reads it.

Get the word out.

Yes, You CAN!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I have to make a correction to an earlier post (see: "Balance" below)

"There was a man, though some counted him mad;
The more he cast away, the more he had."
And the author was John Bunyan, who wrote The Pilgrim's Progress while in jail. A classic example of making the best of a bad situation. (J. S. Bach did that, too, by the way.)

Correction is a good thing. It makes good writers better. It makes good singers better. It makes good athletes better. It ...

Well, you get the idea.

Work to improve!

Yes, You Can!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Law of the Garbage Truck

I get a lot of stuff in my email inbox. I expect that you do, too.

Some gets roundfiled, some gets forwarded, some gets saved for a day we need a laugh and need to pass it along.

Some gets added to the Blog, as being better that I can come up with on my own. Here is one of those things:

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly.

So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!' This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so..... 'Love the people who treat you right - Pray for the ones who don't.'

There you have it. I can't say it any better than that.

When we return good responses for frustrated people's bad acts, it can help make the world better.

I haven't arrived there yet. But I'll get there.

Yes I Can.

So Can You.