Sunday, December 29, 2013

10 Uplifting Quotes For the Depressed Heart

Here are a few of my favorite quotes to read when I'm depressed or going through hard times. Please feel free to add your own inspiring quotes in the comments section. Let's make a list of all the best quotes so we can help anyone that's struggling with depression.

Also, the video below is rather inspiring. I thought you might like it. :)

1. "Getting better from depression demands a lifelong commitment. I’ve made that commitment for my life’s sake and for the sake of those who love me." —Susan Polis Schutz

2. "A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear [that results] from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl." —Stephan Hoeller

3. "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."—Helen Keller

4. "A positive attitude gives you power over your circumstances instead of your circumstances having power over you." —Joyce Meyer

5. "Keep yourself busy if you want to avoid depression. For me, inactivity is the enemy.” —Matt Lucas

6. "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." —Thich Nhat Hanh

7. "Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light." —Madeleine L'Engle

8. "Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keep friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment." —Greenville Kleisser

9. "There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind." —C. S. Lewis

10. "The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being." —Tenzin Gyatso

Friday, December 27, 2013

Make Retreat Impossible - Burn Your Ships!

A few years ago, a friend of mine sent this poem to me. I haven't been able to find its source, but its meaning is profound.

The speaker is telling his audience—presumably an army—to burn their ship, giving them no hope of retreat. It's do or die. The only hope of returning home is through victory.

When we have goals, we must, in a sense, "burn our ships" and make our retreat impossible.

Burn the fleet by thrice,
in this dark night we stand or we fall,
we are kings now, or nothing at all.
Check your armour, light up the torch,
touch the flame to the sail before you head to the shore
and we will burn the fleet.
We can never go home, it's on to victory or underground
burn the fleet, we'll be hero's or ghosts,
but we won't be turned around.
The old flag will burn with the sail
and a new one won't fly if we fail.
But the fire continues to rise and it shows
not a hint of any fear in our eyes.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

You Are the Trip I Did Not Take

You Are The Trip I Did Not Take

You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I could not buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
“You are my Honolulu moon;
you are the book I did not write;
You are my heart’s unuttered tune;
You are a candle in my night.
You are the flower beneath the snow,
In my dark sky a bit of blue,
Answering Disappointment’s blow
With “I am happy! I have you!”

Anne Campbell
When my sister Jaimie read that poem she wrote this: “Too often in life we think about what we don’t have or have not done—instead of what we have.  We think that in order to be satisfied and feel pure joy we need to travel the world, run faster and further than anyone else, and do more than anyone you know.  This is simply not true. Happiness comes from knowing love.”

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The First Christmas Homily of Pope Francis | Full Text

Pope Francis
Below is the FULL text of Pope Francis' first Christmas Homily. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1).
This prophecy of Isaiah never ceases to touch us, especially when we hear it proclaimed in the liturgy of Christmas night. This is not simply an emotional or sentimental matter. It moves us because it states the deep reality of what we are: a people who walk, and all around us – and within us as well – there is darkness and light. In this night, as the spirit of darkness enfolds the world, there takes place anew the event which always amazes and surprises us: the people who walk see a great light. A light which makes us reflect on this mystery: the mystery of walking and seeing.
Walking: this verb makes us reflect on the course of history, that long journey which is the history of salvation, starting with Abraham, our father in faith, whom the Lord called one day to set out, to go forth from his country toward the land which he would show him. From that time on, our identity as believers has been that of a people making its pilgrim way toward the promised land. This history has always been accompanied by the Lord! He is ever faithful to his covenant and to his promises. “God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all” (1 Jn 1:5). Yet on the part of the people there are times of both light and darkness, fidelity and infidelity, obedience, and rebellion; times of being a pilgrim people and times of being a people adrift.
In our personal history too, there are both bright and dark moments, lights and shadows. If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us. “Whoever hates his brother – writes the Apostle John – is in the darkness; he walks in the darkness, and does not know the way to go, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 Jn 2:11).
On this night, like a burst of brilliant light, there rings out the proclamation of the Apostle: “God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race” (Tit 2:11).
The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.
The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the news of Jesus’s birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks.
Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.

On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness.
To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Luke 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen.

Monday, December 23, 2013

"In Thy Dark Streets Shineth"

“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt speaks to a crowd on Christmas. Behind
him stands Sir Winston Churchill.
If you must know, Sir Winston Churchill is one of my heroes. In fact, I'd say that he's pretty darn near the top of my list.

Not far down on that same list you'll find FDR, the American President that led the country through the Great Depression and through the darker days of World War II. Neither of these men were perfect, but they certainly had many admirable qualities—not the least of which was the ability to inspire men and women during the darkest of times.

In December of 1941, during the heat of the second World War, Winston Churchill traveled to the United States at great risk to his personal safety. After lighting the White House Christmas tree, the two leaders spoke to the crowd that had gathered.
“Our strongest weapon in this terrible war,” said President Roosevelt, “is our conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of all, which Christmas signifies. Against enemies who would preach and practice hate, we set our faith in human love and in God’s love and care for us and for all people everywhere.” 
When President Roosevelt had finished, Winston Churchill rose to speak. “This is a strange Christmas Eve,” said the Prime Minister. “Almost the whole world is locked in deadly struggle, and with the most terrible weapons science can devise, the nations advance upon one another. Here in the midst of war, raging over the lands and the seas, creeping nearer to our hearts and homes, here, amid all the tumult, we have tonight the peace of the spirit in each cottage home and in every generous human heart. Therefore, we may cast aside this night the cares and dangers which beset us, and make an evening of happiness in a world of storm. Here for one night only each home should be a brightly lighted island of happiness and peace.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers

Garth Brooks
I've heard it said that if you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans. Personally, I think I've made God laugh so many times that, for a time, I completely gave up planning and just set my boat adrift. 

I've had a lot of unanswered prayers in my life, but I think my biggest one matches the words (almost verbatim) of Garth Brook's immortal song "Unanswered Prayers." While thinking about the lyrics to this song today, I couldn't help but think about my wife, "and then and there I thanked the good Lord for the gifts in my life."

Unanswered Prayers

Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn't help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I'd wanted for all times
And each night I'd spend prayin' that God would make her mine
And if he'd only grant me this wish I wished back then
I'd never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
In her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered

Some of God's greatest gifts are all too often unanswered...
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Sunday, December 15, 2013

How A Lie Can Destroy a Life

Fyodor Dostoevsky is one of my favorite authors. I recently finished re-reading one of his short stories entitled, "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man."

In the story, a man who is contemplating suicide falls asleep and dreams that he is taken to another world. The inhabitants of this world live in an idllic or sinless state (much like Eden) and he lives with them for many years, amazed at their utopian society.

One day, the narrator accidentally teaches the inhabitants how to lie, introducing sin into their society. The narrator then watches as their paradise disintegrates. I thought that several paragraphs from the story were particularly interesting:
They began to struggle for separation, for isolation, for individuality, for mine and thine. They began to talk in different languages. They became acquainted with sorrow and loved sorrow; they thirsted for suffering, and said that truth could only be attained through suffering. Then science appeared. As they became wicked they began talking of brotherhood and humanitarianism, and understood those ideas. As they became criminal, they invented justice and drew up whole legal codes in order to observe it, and to ensure their being kept, set up a guillotine. They hardly remembered what they had lost, in fact refused to believe that they had ever been happy and innocent. They even laughed at the possibility o this happiness in the past, and called it a dream. They could not even imagine it in definite form and shape, but, strange and wonderful to relate, though they lost all faith in their past happiness and called it a legend, they so longed to be happy and innocent once more that they succumbed to this desire like children, made an idol of it, set up temples and worshipped their own idea, their own desire; though at the same time they fully believed that it was unattainable and could not be realized, yet they bowed down to it and adored it with tears! 
...everyone began to love himself better than anyone else, and indeed they could not do otherwise.  All became so jealous of the rights of their own personality that they did their very utmost to curtail and destroy them in others, and made that the chief thing in their lives.  Slavery followed, even voluntary slavery; the weak eagerly submitted to the strong, on condition that the latter aided them to subdue the still weaker. 
After witnessing these scenes of destruction the narrator then offered his solution:
The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that's the chief thing, and that's everything; nothing else is wanted - you will find out at once how to arrange it all.  And yet it's an old truth which has been told and retold a billion times - but it has not formed part of our lives! 
And you gotta love the voice of Jeremy Irons reading this part of the story!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

10 Inspiring Leap-of-Faith Quotes!

I took a gigantic leap of faith today—one that I've been considering for a while. I've been extremely apprehensive about the whole thing. The choice has essentially been between 1) total security and 2) the possibility of achieving my dreams. Just the possibility, mind you. Absolutely zero guarantees.

As I was debating these two choices, I read several quotes online that inspired me to take the leap. Here are ten of my favorites (and wish me luck on the leap—no guarantees, but a whole lot of adventure!)

"There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing." (Aristotle)

"I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough." (Marissa Mayer)

"Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it." (Oprah Winfrey)

"If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs." (Dhirubhai Ambani)

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might have well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default." (J.K. Rowling)

"Always go with your passions. Never ask yourself if it’s realistic or not." (Deepak Chopra)

"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." (Steve Jobs)

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be." (Lao Tzu)

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." (Anais Nin)

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover." (Mark Twain)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Hatred is a Lie

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Here's a little quote that will twist your brain around. But in a good way! :)
"But let us not forget that violence does not live alone and is not capable of living alone: it is necessarily interwoven with falsehood. Between them lies the most intimate, the deepest of natural bonds. Violence finds its only refuge in falsehood, falsehood its only support in violence. Any man who has once acclaimed violence as his method must inexorably choose falsehood as his principle. At its birth violence acts openly and even with pride. But no sooner does it become strong, firmly established, than it senses the rarefaction of the air around it and it cannot continue to exist without descending into a fog of lies, clothing them in sweet talk. It does not always, not necessarily, openly throttle the throat, more often it demands from its subjects only an oath of allegiance to falsehood, only complicity in falsehood." (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A REAL Love Poem

I present to you one of the sweetest love poems ever written. It's sweet because it's real.

Love Poem
by John Frederick Nims (1913-1999)

My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing

Except all ill-at-ease fidgeting people:
The refugee uncertain at the door
You make at home; deftly you steady
The drunk clambering on his undulant floor.

Unpredictable dear, the taxi drivers’ terror,
Shrinking from far headlights pale as a dime
Yet leaping before apopleptic streetcars—
Misfit in any space. And never on time.

A wrench in clocks and the solar system. Only
With words and people and love you move at ease;
In traffic of wit expertly maneuver
And keep us, all devotion, at your knees.

Forgetting your coffee spreading on our flannel,
Your lipstick grinning on our coat,
So gaily in love’s unbreakable heaven
Our souls on glory of spilt bourbon float.

Be with me, darling, early and late. Smash glasses—
I will study wry music for your sake.
For should your hands drop white and empty
All the toys of the world would break.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tuesdays With Morrie and The Little Wave

Tuesdays with Morrie
I just finished listening to Tuesdays With Morrie. It's a great book and I highly recommend it. It really puts your life into perspective. 

Towards the end of the book, as Morrie is getting ever so close to death, he shares a short story about a little wave. I thought it was interesting because it illustrates how we are all part of a much larger scheme of life.
“Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air-until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore. "My God, this is terrible," the wave says. "Look what's going to happen to me!"  
Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, "Why do you look so sad?" 
The first wave says, "You don't understand! We're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't it terrible?" 
The second wave says, "No, you don't understand. You're not a wave, you're part of the ocean.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Business of Jacob Marley

Jacob Marley
As Christmas is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd post what I believe to be the best passage from that immortal classic.

In this scene, Jacob Marley is visiting Ebenezer Scrooge and is lamenting the opportunities he lost to serve mankind. Scrooge replies:
"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. 
"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again.  "Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.  The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" 
It held up its chain at arm's length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again. 
"At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said "I suffer most.  Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode!  Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!"

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's Official: My Book Will Be Published!

I'm so very excited to officially announce that my book has been accepted by Berrett-Koehler Publishers and will be published next year!!

Click here to learn more about it!

One of my favorite Ben Franklin quotes!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Is it Good Luck or is it Bad Luck? | A Fable

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman
This short fable from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, really makes me think. Can the things that happen to us really be considered good or bad? You decide...

An old man and his son worked a small farm, with only one horse to pull the plow.

One day, the horse ran away.

“How terrible,” sympathized the neighbors. “What bad luck.”

“Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?” answered the old man.  

A week later, the horse returned form the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn.

“What wonderful luck!” said the neighbors. 

“Who knows whether it is bad luck or good luck,” the farmer replied. 

The next day, the son, trying to tame one of the horses, fell and broke his leg. 

“How terrible. What bad luck!” 

“Bad luck? Good luck?” 

The army came to all the farms to take the young men for war. The farmer’s son was of no use to them, so he was spared. 

“Good? Bad?” 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Light of a Narnian Lamppost

"It will not go out of my mind that if we pass this post and lantern, either we shall find strange adventures or else some great changes of our fortunes."
― Lucy Pevensie

Rates are reasonable.
I love the feel of December, don't you? Perhaps we call it "the most wonderful time of the year" because it's a time when most of us feel more like children. Christmas has this magical ability to bring back nostalgic memories of bygone days while simultaneously generating newer, warmer memories. It's like a cup of hot chocolate for the heart!

One of my favorite memories of Christmas is when, at the age of seven, I opened my stocking to find a cartoon version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

Although the cartoon was poorly done, my seven-year-old self couldn't get enough of it! Every Christmas, I would watch it over and over again. There was just something in the story of which I couldn't get enough (mostly, I just wanted to find the land of Narnia for myself—adventures that I detailed in this blog post).

Many years later, I found solace in the words of C. S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia and numerous works of non-fiction.

At the time, I was wading through a very difficult time and my mind had been overcome with an almost tangible darkness. The light-hearted, yet deeply profound and comforting writings of C. S. Lewis were like a lamppost to my soul—something that led me out of the darkness and placed me among caring friends.

In this, I've often felt that the light of that literary lamppost was akin to the light of God, leading me out of myself to reach upward and walk forward among others.

I love this exchange from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In this scene, Eustace has just experienced a remarkable transformation of character because Aslan helped him change (replace the word 'Aslan' with 'God').
“I think you've seen Aslan," said Edmund. 
"Aslan!" said Eustace. "I've heard that name mentioned several times since we joined the Dawn Treader. And I felt - I don't know what - I hated it. But I was hating everything then. And by the way, I'd like to apologise. I'm afraid I've been pretty beastly." 
"That's all right," said Edmund. "Between ourselves, you haven't been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor." 
"Well, don't tell me about it, then," said Eustace. "But who is Aslan? Do you know him?" 
"Well - he knows me," said Edmund. "He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, who saved me and saved Narnia. We've all seen him. Lucy sees him most often. And it may be Aslan's country we are sailing to.”
And on some level, perhaps we're all journeying to Aslan's country—a land of light, no doubt. :)

A picture from the cartoon I watched as a kid. Mr. Tumnus is one dope devil with a fro!