Friday, October 31, 2008

New Blog Title

I thought I would take a minute to explain the new, maybe permanent, blog title. I was listening to a cd by Claude and Lana Hamilton called 'Toughen Up' (Team 453). If you are familiar with their talks you won't be surprised by the title. They are straight talkers to the max. And, if you know me you won't be surprises by how much I like that. They are giants in our industry. Well Lana told a story about how her personal trainer inspired her to join a fitness competition. She started working on that goal and life happened and she let it go. But it haunted her that she had given up. This is a woman who is a winner. She has her life in order and has accomplished a lot in her life. And yet she couldn't let go of the fact that she had given up on something that she had committed to; even thought it was a non-consequential thing. That is the definition of a winner in my book. I want to be more like her.

Anyway, back on the main road, she decided, if I remember right, a year later to re-enter the competition. And she knew there would be times during her training for this competition that she would want to quit. So, she wrote herself a note that said WHEN YOUR ARE WEAK...READ THIS. This note told her that she was strong and reminded her of the vision she had that prompted her to enter the competition in the first place. And that note gave her enough courage to chase the dream and reach her goal. And she made it.

That is what the entries in this blog are for me. I was reading through my few posts and thinking what was the overall theme. And I realized that all the things I have included here are nuggets that help me stay the course and not give up. And I am grateful to have them all in one place so I can remember the things that touched me and helped me stay in the game.

So, whatever dream you are chasing I hope these thoughts help you too!!!! ;)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Bringing Out the Best in People

A couple of months ago I read Bringing Out the Best in People by Alan Loy McGinnis. The story in the very last chapter is what I want to share in this post. This is just part of what I was eluding to in the last post. So, there will be more to come.

In 1939, trainloads of Jewish children were piling into Sweden, and the boys and girls - some of them only three and four years old - would file off the trains with no belongings except for large tags around their necks, designating their home city, their name, and their age. They were thin and pale, with large, sunken, brown eyes. From their meloncholy gaze it was evident that they had already seen and experienced things far beyond their years - atrocities that most people would never have to see in a lifetime.

The Swedish families were taking children for "the duration of the war," but few were deluded into thinking that it would be a short time. One of the Swedes who opened his door was Johan Eriksson. He had known deprivation himself - at 28 hd had been left a widower with four children. By now he was middle-aged and most of the children were gone. But when he learned that a frightened nine year old named Rolf needed a home, he responded as if he were still a young man. And so a little Jewish boy began to adjust to life in a strict Swedish Baptist home. At first, when there was a knock on the door or loud voices outside, the boy with the deep-set eyes would dive into a closet and cover his head, but he was surrounded with warmth and love in the Eriksson house, and he began to gain weight, to lose the faraway gaze, and eventually he began to laugh again.

When an invasion by the Nazis seemed imminent, men at the machine shop said to Johan, "When Hitler comes you will be in trouble with that Jew boy in your house. They'll come and take him away." The normally gentle Swede would reply with clenched jaw, "They'll never take him as long as I'm alive." And curiously, Johan was almost equally defensive of Rolf before his fellow Baptists. When the members of the church assumed that he would try to covert the boy, Johan's jaw would clench again. The Swedish government had promised the refugee organization that the children's religion would be kept intact, and although Johan took little Rolf to church with his family, he went to considerable lengths to see that the boy learned the Jewish tradition and that when the proper age came he was prepared for and celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. When the war ended, Johan wanted to return to Rolf's parents a son who had been raised as closely as possible to the way they would have wanted.

But when the war did end, the family was never reunited, of course. Rolf's parents perished somewhere in Europe along with the millions of others who were killed during those apocalyptic years. Letters from his parents had become more and more sporadic, and then one day and envelope arrived without a postmark. Inside was a hastily scribbled note saying that Rolf would not hear from then again, and that he should never forget what this Swedish family had done for him.

And Rolf did not forget. He grew up and went away to Stockholm, where he began to succeed in business. But the trauma and the wrenching of those early years perhaps took a belated toll, for one day Rolf's mind snapped. Relatives told Johan Eriksson that he had done enough, and the authorities wanted permission to keep the young man in the mental institution, for he was thought to be dangerous. But Johan would have none of it. "He belongs here," he said simply. "This is his home." And so Rolf returned to the little city of Amal and the quiet, solid Swede took him in again. For a year Johan nursed him until his mind returned to stability and peacefulness.

Rolf's life was relatively untroubled after that. He married, reared children, established his own company and became very wealthy. But he never forgot the man who had given him such unconditional love when he was a boy. Nothing was ever too good for Johan, and as the old man became more infirm, an even stronger bond seemed to glue them together. If Johan was sick or needed him, Rolf thought nothing of taking the train across Sweden to spend what was left of the weekend with the man who had become like a father. And when Johan was on his deathbed, all the children hurried home, but everyone knew who would arrive first - Rolf.

My mind often returns to the story of Johan and Rolf when I feel the doubt and despair of my fellow therapists. The reason is this: if Johan Eriksson had accomplished no other noteworthy thing in his long life, it surely would have been worth living to have been there to shelter on such child. When we get discouraged in our work with people it is important to draw back and remind ourselves that there is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being, to help someone else succeed.
Do you ever look at your life and wonder "what am I really accomplishing?" If you are a task person like me you get a lot of satisfaction from crossing things off of lists and taking things out of the inbox. And, when you ask yourself this question in terms of serving others things get a little merky. How do you measure that?

That is why I loved this story. It helped me see that by small and simple things shall great things come to pass. And, I think that most people do what Johan did naturally. Almost everyone I know, if given the opportunity, would help someone the way he did. And, that most of us fail to give ourselves enough credit for the good we do.

So, that leads me to my next post. How often have you made a huge impact on another person with even a small act of kindness and never knew it? What kind of impact can we have when we have the courage to tell someone when they have had that kind of an impact on us?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Upcoming Post

I have a post in mind. Well, I have had it in mind for a few months now. But, a lot of good that does you. You can't read it in there!!

This quote is going to get me thinking about how I want to put my thoughts together. (And commit me to posting probably thought this blog was dead.)

If you were doing to die soon and had only
one phone call you could make, who
would you call and what would you say?
And, why are you waiting?
-Stephen Levine (Postive Words, Powerful Results by Hal Urban pg. 196)