American Idol Uplifting Moment

I've just got to share this uplifting moment from Britain's Got Talent. It's the England version of American Idol. I know it's five minutes long, but truly it's worth every second! Enjoy...

Sibling Rivalry

Interested in a creative way to end sibling rivalry? Is that a resounding "YES!" I hear? Check out my recent essay on the topic in FamilyMaker Magazine!

Ending Sibling Rivalry

Perceiving Beauty

A dear friend sent me an e-mail concerning the following incident and I wanted to share it.

Gene Weingarten, Washington Post writer, conducted an experiment for an article he published on April 8, 2007, titled “Pearls Before Breakfast.” Weingarten had violin virtuoso, Joshua Bell, play six complex classical pieces in a Washington D.C. Metro station during morning rush hour. Joshua played incognito for 43 minutes on a Stradivarius violin, handcrafted in 1713 and reportedly worth 3.5 million dollars.

Accustomed to seeing street musicians in the subway station, Over 1,000 people scurried past, oblivious to the magnificence and beauty of the music surrounding them. Unaware they were in the presence of one of the most talented musicians in the world, who performs at over 200 international engagements annually—commanding up to $100 per ticket.

He earned $32.17 that day. Only seven people stopped to listen. Only one woman stopped and listened long enough, to recognize who he was.

The questions are these:

In an unexpected place, at an inconvenient time, would we perceive beauty? Would we take the time to appreciate it?

Stop and Hear the Music

If we don’t have time to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the most beautiful music ever written… What else are we missing?

I wish I would have said something…

I was waiting in line behind a woman and her two daughters at Target last week. One little girl was about four and the other around two. While the mother waited in line for her turn, the two-year-old took one step away from her mother’s side. The four-year-old then jerked the two-year-old’s arm roughly and shoved her onto the ground. I watched in stunned surprise as the little one’s hat went spinning off up the aisle and she cried out in pain. The mother turned and picked up the now-sobbing little one. She immediately asked the older sister why she had done such a thing. Their conversation went something like this:

“Because she was running away.”
“She was not running away. And as a punishment, you need to put that candy back that I was going to buy you.”
“But I want the candy!”
“No, put it back.”
“I’m really sad now, mommy. Please can I have the candy?”

Okay, you get the idea. Anyway, this conversation continued for several seconds, although as any parent knows seconds feel a lot like hours when dealing with a screaming child. The mother held firm, despite the girl throwing herself on the ground in a full-blown tantrum.

Passersby stared at the unfolding scene. But as I looked around the area, most of the people looking on had sympathetic expressions on their faces. Their eyes seemed to say “We’ve all been there, done that.” An older couple behind me conferred in whispers, quietly approving the young mother’s “tough love” approach.

I picked up the younger one’s hat, which had landed at my feet, and brushed it off. As I handed it to the mother, I had an overwhelming urge to whisper “You’re doing a great job, mom. Keep it up.”

But instead I just said, “Here’s your little girl’s hat.”

“Thank you,” she murmured.

The line moved agonizingly slow, the child’s crying grew louder, and the mother remained stoic. The customer in front of them completed their transaction and moved away. The mother suddenly squatted down, asking the girl again why she had been so mean to her younger sister.

The child reiterated “because she was running away.” Then continued whining about the candy.
The mother stood up and sighed. Her items moved up the conveyor belt and she reached over, plucking a candy bag off the rack, and tossed it onto the conveyor.

“I get the candy now, Mommy? Oh yeah! I get the candy now!” the little girl cried. Tears immediately dried and she was all smiles now. Their purchases complete, they moved toward the exit. The girl dancing and bouncing up and down in delight. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe she’d caved! I glanced back at the older couple and noted their shaking heads.

“I guess she ended up getting her candy after all,” the cashier commented, as she rang up my purchases.

It was such a disappointing letdown! That mom had almost made it. Unfortunately, all she did was reinforce those negative behaviors in her child. Now her four-year-old knows without a doubt: crying, screaming and tantrums equals reward.

I wish now I would have followed my instincts and said something. Maybe given that mom a little whisper of encouragement, assurance she was doing the right thing. It can be tough when we parents feel like we’re out in the trenches alone. When we feel like everybody is staring and assume that nobody knows what we’re feeling. Sometimes we forget we’re surrounded by many parents who have “been there and done that.” Even we parents of teens need to remember this--and remember to support each other when the tough times hit. Be there to whisper those words of encouragement, or even to shout them…

“Stay strong!”

“Keep up the good work!”

I wish I would have said something…

Image by: Citril


I remember years ago, telling my husband that I wanted to start a positive news station. Only positive, uplifting stories allowed. He gave me a verbal pat on the head, stating that as nice an idea as that was, “nobody would watch it.”

Well, how about now? I’ll bet I could sell my positive news station idea now.

There is so much negativity on the news lately, especially here in my beloved state of Michigan where the economy appears to be hitting rock bottom. Everywhere you turn: newspapers, television, radio--forecasts full of gloom ‘n doom. My normally upbeat hubby was even starting to feel down listening to the television anchors drone on and on every day. Finally, I suggested he take a hiatus from watching it, and his mood appears to have lifted considerably.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have some good news delivered daily? My positive news station reporters and I would search out stories about people performing A.R.K.’s (Acts of Random Kindness). We’d broadcast these inspiring tales for all the world to hear, creating powerful waves of uplifted-ness. (I know, I know, that’s not a word but you get my drift.)

One of my favorite morning radio show hosts (Jim Harper-Magic 105.1) had his New Year’s Resolution quoted in the Detroit Free Press. His resolution was to be more positive in 2009. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to set goals. So I’ve decided to adopt his attitude and I’m going to make one of my goals for 2009 to daily focus on the positives. Toward that end, I’ve reinstituted a custom I used to practice over a decade ago, but which ultimately fell by the wayside as I got busy with life. That custom is writing in my Daily Gratitude Journal.

I swiped this idea from a book I read back in 1996 called, Simple Abundance, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. The purpose of the Daily Gratitude Journal is to focus on the things in your life for which you are grateful every day. I purchased a beautiful hardcover blank book at my favorite book store. (Used a 40% off coupon--I love it when I remember to use a coupon!) Then each night before going to bed, I open my book and write down five things for which I’m grateful.

Some days it’s easy to find five things. On the more challenging days, when I really think about it, I can still find positives to write about: I have a roof over my head, food to eat, warm clothes to wear, my hubby and I both have jobs, and no blood was drawn when the kids were fighting today. The interesting thing is, when you focus on the positive, you end up becoming more positive.

Several months ago, my church was passing out some purple bracelets. They were of the “Live Strong” variety, but instead had “Complaint Free World” written on them. I didn’t pick one up at the time, but for $1 you can order your very own “Complaint Free World” bracelet, and I’m seriously thinking about getting one now.

According to the organization’s website, the goal of Complaint Free World, Inc. is to help people “in 2009, shift forever from being a negative person to being a positive person.” Check them out here:

Okay! So here I am, armed with my Daily Gratitude Journal and with my “Complaint Free World” bracelet on the way. I think I’m positively ready to face the New Year.

Here’s to 2009! Blessings all around!

Image from Complaint Free World, Inc.