Monday, September 28, 2009

Motivational vignettes

Proverbs, platitudes, snappy one-liners... call 'em what you will, I love 'em. Not everything I hear strikes a chord with me, mind you, but I've heard some terrific motivational comments lately that I thought I'd share. I'm sharing them for two reasons - one for your enjoyment/edification/amusement and two - so I can remember them since I found them so moving and inspirational. I hope you agree.

From a Weight Watchers meeting:

"If you change the way you look at things, the way things look change." (Wayne Dyer)

"Don't worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try." (Anonymous)

On teshuvah (repentance) from the High Holy Day machzor (prayerbook):

"Even if it seems inadequate in your eyes, none of the good you do is ever lost." (Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav)

"To have found God is not an end, but is in itself, a beginning." (Franz Rosenzweig)

A tale is told of one who sat in study before the great tzaddik (righteous one) Rabbi Mordechai of Nadvorna of blessed memory. Before Rosh HaShanah the student came to seek dispensation to be dismissed early.

Reb Mordechai asked, "Why are you hurrying?
The student said, "I am the reader for Rosh Hashanah and I must go home and look over my festival prayer book to put my prayers in order."

To this Reb Mordechai offered this response: "To he who would learn, the prayer book and the prayers are still in the same order as they were last year. Perhaps it would be better for you to look into your own deeds and put yourself in order." (S.Y. Agnon)

From Dhammakaya (Thai) Meditation, which I now practice (although not as regularly as I should):

Samma (sah'-mah) Arahang (ah-rah-hahng') which means "Purify the mind" in an effort to free yourself from suffering in life.

Just about anything from Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks, the husband and wife relationship expert team, both of whom have Ph.D.s; Here are a few of my favorites from them:

"We can choose to operate from a place of radical responsibility. In every moment of life, we get exactly what we are committed to getting."

"We believe that complete transparency is the best aphrodisiac ever discovered, as well as the best way to get a good night's sleep."

"People commit to outcomes, which are beyond their control. Instead they need to commit to processes."

And since none of these wonderful jewels of wisdom came from me and so I don't want to accept kudos for them, I would be remiss if I didn't share one more that sums them all up and has helped me immensely in my life over the last several months: "Teamwork - It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Only the first 16 letters....

So I've mentioned that every Thursday I volunteer making calls for the Deeds for Governor campaign to drum up support for him. Now the election is only about five and a half weeks away and still it seems that very few people even know about the election much less who the candidates are. But that, as I hear someone say today, is a subject for another lecture or, in my case, blog post.
Some of you who read these posts know how fascinated I am by language matters and how, being named "Daphne" I am especially taken by people's names. Earlier this year a baby shower was thrown for one of my colleagues from the old job. Having access to the membership data base, I went through it looking for "fun" names and then put together a contest in which people had to figure out which name in a list of about ten or twelve was not real. Some of them were real doozies like "Rebecca Boober" (a real name), "Lawrence Putz" and "Jack Loser" (also real) and "George Dingus" (you can't make something like that up!).
So today in my list of names to call there was a person whose last name is "Essaranuwatankul." It was suggested to me by staffers at the campaign office that I address the prospective voter by first name if the phone was answered. Luckily for me it wasn't so I didn't have to "risk" botching the name. But it took me back to my high school days. Why?
New York State high school students take standardized tests given only in New York called Regents exams. I thought there was a law against cruel and unusual punishment. But I digress...
Anyway, you always had to put your name on the exam forms by filling in a prefab space with boxes. The instructions for "writing" your name read as follows: "Only fill in the first 16 letters of your last name."
I had a girlfriend in high school whose name was "Urania Papatheodoros" (I think that was her name. It's been a while...). But still, even some of the more exotic names of the Greek students I attended school with were only 10 or 11 letters long. I don't believe I knew anyone with a single name - first or last - that was more than about 10 letters. I was friends with a guy named "Marco" whose real name was "Marcangelo," but that's only 10 letters and I can't think of ayone I knew whose name was longer.
When I took the Regents exams and had to fill in my name, I always wondered whether there was really anyone out there who had to actually comply with the instruction "Only fill in the first 16 letters of your last name."
Now I know.
What do you think Philadphia resident, Mr. Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff, would think of the instruction and my wonderment?

Score: Domestic Divahood, 11; Unfulfilled on the job, 0

Friday, September 18, 2009

Signs from God

So I recently signed up on Facebook as a fan of an Italian education application called "Parola del Giorno" which translates as "Word of the Day." At sundown tonight Rosh HaShanah -- the Jewish New Year -- began. As I have done for years now on Rosh HaShanah, I recently sent a card to several friends and family members on which I quoted the chorus from Michael Jackson's song "Man in the Mirror." The lyrics go, "I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. And the message couldn't be any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change."

I thought those words offered a good idea at a time when one is, for all intents and purposes, "starting over."

So what does any of this have to do with Italian and why is my blog post titled "Signs from God?" Glad you asked.

The word of the day for Thursday, September 17th - the day before Rosh HaShanah - was actually two words "voltare pagina (pronounced vohl-tah'-ray pah'-gee-nah) which taken together are an expression meaning to turn a page or symbolically "to turn over a new leaf."

Here we were on the threshhold of Rosh HaShanah and from a seemingly unrelated source I was being "told" to turn over a new leaf. Wow! I believe in signs from God and the signs are clearly everywhere that I need to make some changes in my life.

I read this awesome parable in the prayerbook in synagogue tonight. It goes like this:
A man is lost in the forest and has been wandering around for several days, trying to find his way out, when he encounters another man. "Aha!" he thinks to himself. "This man surely must know the way out." He calls to the second man, "You there! Can you show me the way out of this forest?" The second man replies, "Brother, I too am lost and have been trying for days to find my way out of this forest. The only thing I can tell you is not to take the paths I have taken, because they have not led me to where I want to be." The second man then adds, "Let us become partners and search for the way together."

I have so many wonderful family members and friends with whom I can partner to search for the way. Thank you to my friends, family and God for helping me to look for the right way and supporting me as I do.
L'Shanah Tovah 5770.

Score: Domestic Divahood, 10; Unfulfilled on the job, 0

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Figs and intestinal fortitude

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great poet and philosopher said, "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience." Someone must have forgotten to tell my fig tree that.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. To quote a local evangelist in our area, "Not a sermon, just a thought."

It's just that its getting harder and harder to keep up with the seemingly frenetic pace at which the fruit is ripening. Thank goodness Gary and I have neighbors who like fruit!

I've never seen anything quite like it. Gary and I think we've "harvested" close to 150 figs and there are more yet to come. Amazing!

The thing that drives me batty though is that I can't figure out what we've done to generate such an abundant and healthy crop. Was it all the rain this year? Was it something -- anything -- that we did?

I wish I knew. All I know is that it's raining figs in my back yard. It's very exciting and delicious, too. But I have this sinking feeling that I may be setting myself up for a fall. You know what I mean -- that at this time next year I'll be going "Ahhh! Where are all my wonderful figs?!" and remembering this time last year (that would be NOW) fondly.

In the meatime I'm learning what to do with figs other than give them to neighbors - dried figs, fig jam, chicken with figs, fruit salad with figs, peanut butter and fig sandwich...

Score: Domestic Divahood, 9; Unfulfilled on the job, 0