Category Archives: Facing Adversity

A Light in the Darkness

She had been driving for what seemed like the entire day. The weariness that comes from being “busy” but not really accomplishing anything had settled on her like someone had thrown a leaden shawl around her shoulders. No matter how she turned her head or arranged herself in the car seat, the ache in her neck and between her shoulder blades would just not go away.

Even though she had made the meetings on time and had said all of the right things, she didn’t feel much satisfaction. All of her training, all of the preparation had not helped her deal with the negative attitudes she had encountered that day. Some days she wondered exactly why she put up with this crap. The traveling, the bad diet, the ever escalating expectations of her boss. Her feelings toward this job had changed from an initial impression of opportunity to a dread-filled vision of one huge dead end sign.

Her thoughts were now fixated on dinner, followed by a date with a deep tub filled with hot water and lots and lots of bubbles.

She let her mind wander, drifting along with the Sinatra tune playing on the radio. Suddenly, she felt a huge thump and immediately her car began to leap and buck, the wheel pulling suddenly into the oncoming traffic lane. It took about 3 seconds for her to regain control of the car and for her to realize what had happened – a flat tire on the front left of her car. What next!

Once control of the car was affirmed in her mind, she eased the car over onto the shoulder of the road. What to do now? Her mind raced back to what she had learned in drivers training, so far back in the past. She could hear her father’s voice in her head – “Make sure you pull far enough off the road, so you don’t get hit by some knucklehead not paying attention”.

After she had pulled over, far over off the road, she made the call on her cell phone. The AAA guy was sympathetic, but it would take him over two hours to get out to her. Perfect! Here she was, on the side of the road, in the dark with sore feet, sore neck and now a sore disposition.

It was then she heard the tap on the window. She saw through the side window a boy of about 14 looking at her with a look that was half quizzical and half expectation. “What now?” raced through her mind as she brought the window down a crack, far enough for the half-man to ask her “Do you need some help with that tire?” She smiled and said “I’ve called the tow truck and they are on their way. Thank you though.” He ignored her answer and told her to pop the trunk and he’d have it changed in a “jiffy”. She told the boy that she didn’t have any cash to pay him but he just said, “That’s OK, I don’t expect any money, I’m a boy scout and I need to do my good deed for the day.”

Within 15 minutes, the tire was changed and she was back on the road. As she drove through the next small town on her way, she noticed the sign read Rich Prairie and the slogan underneath the city name said “We’ve got your back.”

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The Beast of Rich Prairie

Minus 20 degrees is not a temperature, it is a presence. Going outside at 20 degrees below zero isn’t a simple endeavor, it requires one to prepare to fight the Beast without. The beast of that kind of cold will try to suck the warmth out of your body, it attacks your skin, tries to turn your feet and hands into wood and it will gladly kill you if you allow it.

Preparation to fight this Beast requires multiple layers, a comfortable set of long underwear will quickly become your friend. We all know we must break out the parka, chopper mittens and our best set of insulated boots. We denizens of Rich Prairie know to invest in good equipment, hardy perennials and warm clothing; all due to the Beast which comes in winter.

The visit of the Beast is not all bad however. There are a few good things coming with this kind of temperature. One is that it either kills or chases away a myriad of pests that plague warmer climates. Another benefit is that the communal suffering which we residents of Rich Prairie endure brings us closer in our misery. We don’t bother to discuss the weather during these cold outbreaks, we just give each other “the nod”. We know it is cold, we know it isn’t fun and we know it won’t last forever, we just endure.

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In the Hands of God

The tumult and confusion of the political scene reaches us even here in Rich Prairie. Politics seems to be the default topic of discussion since our winter has been so mild. It is difficult to keep our minds on the important things in life when the news and social media seems determined to distract us with those matters over which we have no control. We can talk about them yes, but other than fulfill our civic duties by voting, what else would you do? Armed insurrection? Do you know how hard that makes it to grow a decent garden?

Faith is still one of the quaint, enduring values you will find out here on the Prairie. Good thing too, because at the beginning and end of the day, the only thing one can really do is put the country and the future into the Hands of God and let him deal with the whole thing.

Then, one can get back to ice fishing, walking in the beautiful winter weather and planning next summer’s garden; you know – the important things in life.

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Filed under Facing Adversity, Spirituality

Effort

Imagination without hard work is usually barren: and what is more, the brighter the imagination the greater the amount of work required to its full fruition. – Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1856 – 1943) Educator

The world is filled with brilliant people. One half of the world is above average. So why do so few truly reach their full potential?

The difference: effort, persistence, goal setting.

If you have unopened gifts from God, if you have talents unused or intelligence unrealized, that tragedy falls on no one else but you. There is no grand conspiracy against you, keeping you down or thwarting your success. There is only your motivation to make the best of what God has given you. Are you willing to do what is necessary?

The great thing about life is as long as we have breath in our body, it is never too late to go to work and pursue a goal.

Start small, start today.

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Filed under Facing Adversity, Goals, Professionalism

Gone

“Don’t it always seem to go; you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone.” – Joni Mitchell “Big Yellow Taxi”

So. Life has changed. It continues to change and we don’t really know when the tumult and whirlwind are going to stop. Livelihoods and businesses being put on hold, some even being destroyed, while the people involved are just told to “take one for the team.”

Here up in the Prairie, the appearance of life seems unchanged. Sure, the restaurants and honky tonks are closed, but we can still get take out. The powers that be haven’t ordered checkpoints yet, so we can still travel unfettered; but only if we have someplace to go to and a reason to go there. The thing I miss the most right now is being able to go to Sunday Mass and sing joyous songs to the Lord. My hope is that eventually that will be restored, but will it ever be the same again?

What do you miss? What will never be the same again? What did you have before the Virus that is gone?

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Filed under Facing Adversity, gratitude, Spirituality

Here’s to Failure

This post is actually an article I wrote for Promotional Products Business in October 2007.

“Do or do not… there is no try.”

– Master Yoda (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back)

I have heard many speakers and trainers over the years. Many of them will echo the sentiments of Master Yoda; you either accomplish something or you do not. A very simple concept and easily measured. It is a fairly simple matter to look at a task and tell whether it has been accomplished or not. However, in the accomplishment, little is known about what lead up to the achievement. In other words, how many times did someone have to “try” something until they got it right?

That has always been one of the reasons such stark statements such as Master Yoda’s have made me uncomfortable. How many people, having listened to such “motivational speakers”, were scared away from even attempting something great because the risk of failure was too great? How many Million Dollar Ideas have been left unfulfilled because the dreamer was afraid of being stuck on “try”?

Is there some great accomplishment or goal left undone in your life?  Do you have a buried, burning desire left unrequited in your psyche?  Well then, my friend read on and hopefully you’ll find the inspiration to add that goal back to your to-do list and give it the “old college try”.

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge (30th US President)

You have, no doubt, heard the tales of Thomas Alva Edison developing the first practical incandescent light bulb. What you don’t hear about are the many inventors who came before him, the ones who “failed” in developing the proper technology, but blazed a path for Edison to follow. Edison was the technocrat who perfected it and unfortunately, got all the credit. But, I ask, where would Edison have started? Would he have had the imagination to even start? I say, let’s hear it for the dreamers who “tried” before him.

What I want to see is more failure. I want to encourage those intrepid spirits out there who have an idea, a dream, a goal; it is time for you to shake the doldrums and go for what you seek. Those of you who feel you can do something more; I say, you won’t know until you start. To those of you who have an unspoken truth in your life; speak truth to power. I want those of you who have the next incandescent bulb in your brain to put your ideas into action. You will never know until you try.

You may have heard the statistics of Babe Ruth, the best (my opinion) baseball player in the history of the game. For many years, he was the record holder for the most homeruns. Babe Ruth hit 714 homeruns in his career. He also struck out 1330 times. So, one can say that he failed almost twice as many times as he succeeded. However, what is not as often cited is the fact that he had a career batting average of .342. This means he failed 63.8% of the time he “tried”. Yet he is one of the most famous figures of the 20th Century because he “tried” mightily and was not afraid to fail.

So, here’s to failure, trying, struggle; long may it reign. Put it to work in your life. Persist and see what it does for your life, your income and your legacy.

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. … his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt (26th US President)

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