The Eyes Have It

#inspiration, eyes, observation,It was an interesting discovery. While sorting through a drawer full of papers I came across one that had been tucked away several years ago and forgotten.

At the end of a seminar, each of us was presented with a unique gift to commemorate our days together. On a large piece of paper, someone had sketched the eyes of over sixty participants. The name of each person was printed neatly above one eyebrow.

I was fascinated to see the numerous shapes of eyes. Some were almond shaped while others were wide and round. The eyebrows were even more diverse. From delicately shaped to thick and bushy, the brows framed the facial features. No two sets of eyes were exactly alike.

The artistic ability required to create these realistic images was impressive. Even more so was the power of observation needed to capture the small details that helped identify each person.

I read somewhere that observation has less to do with the things you see than the way you see them. This is true for more than artists. It applies to each of us.

Many years ago I started keeping a gratitude journal. Each night I write down five things I was grateful for that day. Focusing on the positive has changed my perspective and my life. When I look for the beauty in my surroundings, the goodness in people and the life lessons that present themselves, that is what my eyes see. The minor irritations fade into the background.

My goal is to create value in all things. It doesn’t always happen but I am getting better at it. I have learned if I want to create a positive life my eyes need to be looking for the right things.

Me, a Teacher?

#inspiration, teach, learn,I had always thought of a teacher as someone who  imparted knowledge to a class of students. This could either be an academic program or some other creative endeavor. I pictured someone doing research, creating a lesson plan and presenting the knowledge in a way the learners could understand.

As a teenager, my career goal was to be a kindergarten teacher. Life had other plans and I didn’t get the education necessary for this. The closest I came to fulfilling this desire was to spend several years as a Brownie leader. My opportunity to be a teacher has long passed.

Recently I read a book that changed my thinking. The author explained how all of us are teachers.

I teach by my attitude and behaviour. You may be observing and learning from me even when I am not aware. If that is the case, what am I teaching?

When I lose my temper, am tense, unforgiving and judgmental I’m teaching negative emotions. You will either learn to do the same or to stay away from me. Neither is acceptable.

If, on the other hand, I am peaceful, respectful, encouraging and empathetic I am teaching a lifestyle you will want to know more about. My example will draw you closer.

I learn best from someone who is open and honest. Your challenges and how you deal with them teach me I don’t have to appear to have it all together. I learn there is freedom in being authentic and want to pass this lesson on to others.

My teaching comes from life experience and lessons learned along the way. It is not only formal education that has the power to impact lives. I don’t have to spend time in study and preparation in order to teach. Instead, I need to be aware you are learning from me before I even open my mouth.

In that case, I pray my attitude and behaviour are teaching the right things.

Starting Over

Inspiration, new beginning, lessons,
Two months into my painting classes I was feeling quite proud of myself. I could see the improvement with each lesson. My last project was hanging on the wall and made me smile each time I looked at it.

Fresh from this success I decided I was ready to take on a more difficult picture. I tackled it with confidence but by the end of my lesson was feeling disappointed. It wasn’t going well and I hoped it was just at an awkward stage and would look better once finished.

The next time I saw my instructor she told me to paint over my picture and start again. I felt like a failure. My work must be terrible if I couldn’t salvage what I’d started.

She showed me where I’d gone wrong and what needed to change. I had done things my own way and they hadn’t worked. Now I needed to consider the hours already invested as a lesson learned and not wasted time. It would be far more productive to start again than to try to fix my mistakes.

Originally I had started with the focal point. This time I filled in the background first. Step by step I built up to the area to be featured. The result was much better than the first attempt.

Instead of being passable, it was now something I could be proud of. I had no idea the background details were so important.

This experience taught me that past success doesn’t guarantee the same in the future. I hope I have learned not to be so sure of myself that I fail to listen to advice. The work I’ve done and the hours put in are not worth a thing if I’m not getting the desired results.

No matter how much I think I know, sometimes starting over from a new perspective is just what is needed.

 

I am happy to announce my new book, Another Perspective has now been published. It is available on Amazon or directly from me.

Do You Agree?

#inspiration, decorating, house tour,My friend and I had just completed an interesting few hours. We had been on a home tour and seen some extensive renovations and many decorating styles.

As we walked away from the last home she said, “I didn’t care for the decorating in that one. Some of the others were beautiful but that was not my taste at all.” She went on to explain why she felt that way.

I agreed with her opinion but put my own twist on it. “At least that one helped me know what I don’t want,” I said. “We certainly saw a variety of styles today and not all were my taste.”

The styles I liked and those I didn’t all contributed to defining my personal design preferences. The differences are what make us unique.#inspiration, not the same,agreement

Some of the homes we saw were built for casual entertaining. Others were more sophisticated. We saw subdued colours and expensive artwork in one and colourful walls and bright ceramic accents in the next. One home had inflatable pink flamingo cup holders floating in the pool!#inspiration, colourful, decorating,

Different taste applies to more than homes and decorating. Your choice of movies, books, clothing and hobbies will not be identical to mine. We might agree on some but it’s rare to agree on everything. That doesn’t make one of us right and one wrong.

I used to be afraid to express my opinion. It wasn’t easy for me to learn I could disagree with someone and still be accepted. Now I know that life is richer when we welcome our differences and learn from one another.

“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” John Mason

My new book Another Perspective is available at a special preorder price for ebook format. Click here   Paperback will be available the end of March

 

 

Connect the Dots

#inspiration, connect the dots, life lessonAs a child I enjoyed doing connect the dots pictures. Sometimes I could guess what the picture would look like before I started and other times it was a surprise.

Recently I bought a book with difficult dot to dot pictures. Most have close to five hundred dots and the lines often crisscross or head off in unusual directions. Sometimes they come back to where I thought they should be and other times surprise me with what they create.

Once in a while I haven’t been able to find the next number in sequence. I’ve learned I can start over in a new area and eventually I will find what was needed.

Even when the picture is completed, I can’t always immediately see the image I’ve created. I may have to look at it from a distance to see the big picture and not just the connecting dots.

This book reminds me of life. I don’t always move in a straightforward manner to reach my destination. I may double back or go in the opposite direction for a time. When I temporarily lose my way, I can start over from where I am. Every move I make is contributing to the overall picture of my life. Some days it is far more complicated than others.

At the end of the day I may wonder if I’ve been productive. That’s when I need to step back and look at the day from a distance. This other perspective may be just what is needed. I am able to see the big picture and know where to add colour or shading to enhance what was created.

No matter how I feel about the result, I know that tomorrow I will open the page to a new puzzle and follow the dots to see what this one has in store for me.

Don’t Judge Me

Judgments, opinions, perspective, #inspirationThe first glimpse we had of her was in a photograph. It was enough to entice us to drive the two and a half hours for a personal meeting. At that point, we didn’t even know her name.

The attraction I felt was immediate but my husband didn’t feel the same connection so we left her behind. Two weeks later, we hadn’t been able to get her out of our minds, so made a return trip.

After spending a little more time together, a decision was made for 21-year-old Vanessa to come home with us.

Since we had two vehicles, Brian and I each took turns riding with Vanessa. This gave us each some time to get to know her better.

Over the winter, nothing much changed with our relationship. It was rather distant and formal.

As the weather warmed, so did our feelings about Vanessa. We started to spend more time together and the three of us even took a couple of weekend trips.

We appreciated all she had to offer and our admiration grew. This relationship was going to work out even better than we had hoped. Even our grandchildren grew to love her.

Friends are envious of the adventures we have planned with the accommodating 21-year-old named Vanessa.

My husband and I agree that the decision to bring her home with us was one of the best we’ve made. I am excited to see what the future holds as we spend time with Vanessa, our Pleasure Way Van.

Did that last sentence surprise you? What was your perception as you read the story? Did you form judgments before having all the facts?

The simple story of our camper van, that came with the name Vanessa written on the side, reminds me how often I have formed an inaccurate opinion before I know the whole story.

So, let’s make a deal, I won’t judge you if you don’t judge me.

travel, RV
The lovely Vanessa

The Snow Tires of Life

#inspiration, life skills, tools, knowledgeEavesdropping was not my intention. The conversation was taking place between two men standing directly behind me, so I couldn’t help overhearing at least part of it.

They were talking about the harsh winter road conditions and yet another March snowstorm. “Do you have snow tires?” one asked. The other replied he didn’t need them as he’d grown up in Winnipeg and knew how to drive in the snow.

The rest of their conversation faded as my mind processed this information. The knowledge and skill for driving in snowy conditions are good to have, but to my way of thinking, tires that give better traction would still be helpful.

I wondered how often I think I can do something on my own and fail to make use of the equipment or life tools available to help me be more effective.

Knowing what tools to use and actively using them are two different things. For example, I can grumble and complain about driving through the snow or pick up a life tool to allow me to see this from a different perspective. If I say, “I choose to drive for the benefit of spending the day with my grandchildren” the trip takes on a new meaning.

When a situation doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped I can get upset or ask what I could do differently. There is more than one way to get from point A to point B and when I combine this knowledge with the skills I possess, I will have increased traction on the road of life.

“Even the simplest tools can empower people to do great things.” Biz Stone

Looking for the Benefit

#inspiration, benefit, choice,The Irish Setter was standing perfectly still while his owner carefully groomed him. She ran a brush through the long hair that was now free of mats and tangles. Loose hair had been removed and the dog’s coat was now smooth and shiny.

My husband commented to the owner that it must feel good for the dog to be brushed. She told us her dog didn’t like it. We laughed and said, “If only he knew how good it was for him.”

As we walked away, I started thinking of things in my life I don’t enjoy but actually can prove to be beneficial.

Constructive criticism may not be pleasant to receive but can be helpful. It all depends on how I receive it. Instead of an attack, I can choose to look at it as helping me remove some of the tangles hindering my progress. The benefit is seeing my situation from a perspective I may not have thought of. There is also the possibility my life will run smoother.

What other areas can I use this in? Maybe with my exercise class that starts an hour earlier in the summer months. I can complain about the early hour because I’d rather still be sleeping. Or, I can choose to get out of bed and go to my class for the benefit of keeping my body fit and healthy.

I wonder how much happier I could be if I replaced, “I don’t want to” with “I choose to for the benefit of” in all areas of my life.

“When you wake up every day, you have two choices. You can either be positive or negative; an optimist or a pessimist. I choose to be an optimist. It’s all a matter of perspective.” – unknown

Standing on the Rock

#Jesus, #inspiration, #faithMy sixteen year old granddaughter jumped up on a large rock in our front yard. “I haven’t been on this for years,” she said. “It seemed a lot bigger when I used to climb up on it.”

The rock has not changed. She however, has grown considerably in the ensuing years.

Her comments caused me to think of how my perspective has changed over the years. Obstacles that once seemed insurmountable can now be conquered.

The reason for this is my reliance on Jesus. He is the rock on which I stand.

As I grow in my relationship with him, the problems of life become easier to deal with. They have not necessarily changed, but I have. When my faith in him grows, difficulties seem to shrink.

I know Jesus will lift me from the slimy pit and set my feet on a rock, the firm foundation he provides.

Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:4 NIV)

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2 NIV)

New Journal

perspective, GodI had just started writing in a new journal. This one had been chosen for the inspiring words on the cover. Inside the journal were designs or words bordering some pages. When I reached one of the pages I was having difficulty figuring out what something said. It was all in capital letters and looked like IM A GINE. That made no sense to me, what did im a gine mean? Perhaps it was I’M and not IM. After several minutes of trying to figure it out, I turned back to the cover, hoping for enlightenment. What I saw there caused me to burst into laughter. It wasn’t three words, but a single word – IMAGINE. With the stylized writing I had put spaces where there were none. Now that I knew what it was supposed to say, it was easy to see it. I did find it rather ironic that I didn’t have the imagination to see the word imagine! It was all a matter of perspective.

This caused me to wonder how many times I have misinterpreted something because my perspective was wrong. In over thinking I tend to make things far more complicated than they actually are.

The lesson here is that I can work and struggle and not get the desired results. When I focus too hard, I lose my perspective. What is needed is for me to relax and realize that I don’t have to do everything on my own. When I call out to God, he will either equip me or send someone to walk along side of me to help. His perspective is always the right one.

[The Lord says,] “I will instruct you. I will teach you the way that you should go. I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” Psalm 25:4,5 GWT