Archive for the ‘Persevere’ Category

I leaned on her
and she took my weight.
~ Hilary Swank referring to Mariska Hargitay

You know all these challenges and tests and trials that you’ve been facing lately? The stray balls out of left field? Those events that (if they don’t kill you first) are supposed to make you stronger?

The circumstances that stretch and pull and change who you are, what you think, how you view the future?  The conditions that (if you allow them) shape your idea of what you can successfully persevere through and overcome?

Yes, I’m talking about those things.

They haunt us at night and burden us during the day. They test us. They taunt and question and demand answers.

And all along we thought the exercise was one for our own self-development.

That our triumph was a solitary victory — one that would propel us forward toward achievement of our own dreams and goals.

But what if it’s not all about us?

What if the result of our overcoming difficult circumstances, is to enlarge our spirits so that we have the capacity to help carry the burdens of others?

What if the true agenda of these challenges is for us to develop ample strength so we are able to bear the weight when others need to lean on us?

Maybe all of this challenge and persevering and overcoming isn’t for us. Maybe our making it to the other side is so we are in a position to help others get there, too.

You can’t lead anyone else
further than you have gone yourself.
~Gene Mauch

Whatever you are, others are counting on you to make it!


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Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.

Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real.

It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out.

~Natalie Goldberg

I once read a quote that stated “It’s the beginnings and ends of things that can be messy.”

So true!

Life doesn’t arrive in neat chapters with a well-defined beginning and conclusion.  We don’t always see the cues that signify we’re moving out of one thing and into something else.

In life, it’s often difficult to see the starting gate or hear the starter’s pistol.  And it’s just as unlikely to know exactly when you’ve crossed the finish line.  Many times, it is only when looking back through the wisdom of time that one can discern the beginning and ending of various stages of life.

One thing of which we can be certain is this:  Each day is a new beginning. You need to treat it like the incredible opportunity that it is!  Yesterday is complete, finished, done — use it as a springboard to the future today holds, not as an anchor to keep you tied to the past.

Remember today,
for it is the beginning of always.

Today marks the start of a brave new future
filled with all your dreams can hold.

Think truly to the future and make those dreams come true.
~ Unknown

Don’t think of it as crossing the finish line, think of it as starting a brand new race.

Whatever you are, you’re at the edge of the beginning!


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Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination,
we forget the journey.
~ Unknown

One vacation day. Sixteen hours in the car.  Nearly 960 miles added to the odometer.  Scenic travel through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.  Two stops to refuel. Two additional stops to stretch the legs.

The Aunts from Ohio had been summoned.

At the other end awaits one very excited four-year-old, a pink tutu, and three minutes of Bob Marley singing Three Little Birds:

. . . “Don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

It’s Summer’s first dance recital. Her chance to shine. To excel at something her older brothers don’t care about and for which her younger sister doesn’t yet have the coordination.

A middle child’s first moment in the spotlight — literally.

Summer has been taking lessons since last fall. Every week she has been introduced to new exercises, moves, dances, and music. It’s her thing.

Over Easter, she brought her dance costume with her to Ohio to give us a preview. She flitted and fluttered around the living room, up on tiny toes, arms moving like a butterfly, to a rhythm she alone could hear.

As the curtain opened for Act 11 on Friday night and the lights came up in the small auditorium in Richmond, 11 delightful preschool dancers appeared. White dance shoes pointed, hands positioned, all eyes on the instructor watching for the cue.

It was magical. It was fun. It almost fell apart — but the girls, under the skillful guidance of their teacher, held it together through the end. The crowd clapped and cheered, whistled and shouted.  Grandparents wiped tears. Parents breathed a sigh of relief.

Two aunts from Ohio were oh, so happy to have made the trip.

In five years, I don’t know if Summer will remember the details of this night. How excited she was to wear make-up for the first time, that Dawn and I were present, that her father handed her a huge bouquet of flowers during intermission, or that we went to Red Robin to celebrate.

Until Summer has children of her own, she probably won’t realize that her mother sat in the seat next to me feeling more anxiety than the dancers — but certainly less than their teacher.

What I hope she carries with her is that the journey brings its own reward — it can be just as fulfilling as the destination. The the work is worth it. That if you dance long enough, the spotlight will eventually shine.

The three minutes she was on stage could not begin to showcase all of the talents Summer has developed or the new skills she has mastered that led up to the night of the recital.  In life, as in dance, the destination doesn’t shine as brightly without the journey.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward;

but it is the journey that matters, in the end”

~ Ursula K. LeGuin

Keep dancing, Summer!

Whatever you are, enjoy the journey!


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Don’t be distracted by criticism.
Remember- the only taste of success some people have
is when they take a bite out of you” [Zig Ziglar].

I have never understood the incessant need some folks have to criticize.  It’s like the ability to find fault with others is hardwired into their DNA.  Or, perhaps it is a symptom of weak self-confidence.  I have to agree with Emmet Fox who said that criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting.

You can surely recognize a critic by their . . .

. . . mock horror — “You paid how much?!”

. . . inability to give a kiss without a slap: “That’s nice, but what are you doing to ramp up seating?  (Insert any other ridiculous question you’ve been asked recently by someone who doesn’t have a clue about what is going on but feels compelled to comment.)

. . . play-by-play commentary on your life. (As if they are being paid by the syllable.)

Passive/aggressive attacks, fake disappointment, ridicule, irritation, unhappiness, unpleasant disposition all in an attempt to . . . to what, exactly?

What is it that they are hoping to accomplish?

I often wonder if they are simply trying to spread their unhappiness around, hoping that by shifting the rain to your parade, the sun will shine on them. (Right, because that makes all the sense in the world!)

Here’s what I’m saying: quit listening to the haters, the small-minded thinkers, the bullies, those who don’t want to follow their dreams, so they criticize yours.

It is not the critic who counts,
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled,
or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

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,
who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions,
and spends himself in a worthy cause,

who at best knows achievement
and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who know neither victory nor defeat.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

I’m just saying . . . whatever you are, be a good one!  (And quit listening to the critics!)


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Desire has a lot to do with it, but so do you.

You have to persevere, you have to insist.”

~Andrea Bocelli

While flipping through the pages of the latest edition of Success magazine, I read that Alexander Graham Bell made the first long-distance call from New York to Chicago in 1892.

What caught my eye, however, was that sixteen years earlier the 29-year-old scientist had received a patent for the telephone. (Yes, read that again — 16 years earlier!) But it took years of continued work to improve the technology that made-long distance calls practical.

Seriously?  I have to roll that around my brain some more.  Sixteen years is a very long time. Don’t believe me? Try this little mathematical equation:

Take your current age.

Add 16 years.

Write down the total.

Shocking, isn’t it? Now, imagine you have a really great idea. Or an incredible dream. Or an extraordinary goal. (And I surely hope you do!)

Are you willing to stick with it for 16 years?

Or, when the disappointment comes (and you know it will), and the critics arrive (Why are they so loud?), and the world moves on (as it always does), will you move on, too?  Declare it’s too hard, abandon ship and search for something new and shiny and exciting?

Moving toward a goal or pursuing a dream is dirty, messy, no one sees behind the stage work — as we will soon be reminded as we hear the stories and watch the videos of this year’s Olympic athletes.

It’s early in the morning and during the lunch break and late at night, stealing-every-available-minute-work.

It’s pressing forward and trying again when your body is aching and your mind is exhausted and you’re not certain you can even take one more step.

It’s insisting over the objections and pressing in and setting limits to protect the project and asking for more and taking the risk.

It’s embracing the work of the thing . . .
so that one day you can embrace the prize.

It’s worth it.

As Helen Keller said:

Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow.

You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles.

Whatever you are, I insist you hang on to your dream!


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Time is the longest distance between two places.”
~Tennessee Williams

Did you happen to see the story about the teacher from New Hampshire who was awarded her degree the day before she passed away?

Harriet Ames earned a two-year teaching certificate in 1931, but her ultimate goal had been to achieve a Bachelor degree.  She had been taking classes until she retired in 1971 and her health began failing. Recently, the school reviewed her coursework and determined she had enough credits to award the long-sought degree.

Ames was waiting nearly 40 years.

Think about this story for a minute.  Nothing changed during the past four decades; Ames had already fulfilled the requirements to reach her goal. With a little action and perseverance, she could have proudly displayed her framed diploma on a wall in her home.

I know a lot of people who are waiting.  They’ve done the work, made the calls, completed the course work, been patient, diligent, faithful.

Waiting to finish this season of their life.

Waiting for the next big thing.

Waiting to see if the shoe will drop.

Waiting for an answer.

Waiting for the future to come into focus.

Waiting for the check to come in, for the tide to change, the pieces to fall in place, for the opportunity to present itself.

Yes, there is a season to wait  But don’t confuse waiting for something to happen as approval to do nothing.  Waiting is not some “no man’s land.”

What are doing while you’re waiting in the “right now” — the mundane, slogging through the motions, living the day-to-day, fulfilling the obligations life of yours?

Don’t become discouraged. Don’t quit. Don’t turn around and go home.

Keep dreaming. Keep working. Keep the attitude and confidence levels high. Seek out opportunity. Stay calm. Continue to be a person of character. Help others. Remain faithful.

“None of us knows what the next change is going to be,
what unexpected opportunity is just around the corner,
waiting a few months or a few years
to change all the tenor of our lives.”
[Kathleen Norris]

Hang in there.  Be patient. You can get through this season of your life. Your today is not the final answer for your tomorrow. Your future is coming.

Whatever you are, be a good one!


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Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.

There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right.

To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage” [Ralph Waldo Emerson].

Things may not have gone like you had planned yesterday.

The bright beginning may have dissolved into a muddy pool of disappointment.

The hopes you had for yourself (or others)  might have crashed and burned.

Maybe, you think to yourself, the critics are right this time.

My dreams were too big.

My plans were too ambitious.

I risked too much.

I should have waited. Chosen the other path.

Selected a different destination. Acted sooner.

Maybe I should throw in the towel. Consider it a loss.

Learn my lesson. Play it safe.

No way — you can’t quit now.
You have what it takes to win!

Persevere through the difficulties.

Ignore the critics.

Have the courage to stay the course!

“Sooner or later you have to make a choice . . . leave behind your passion, your dream — or have the strength to look past all the discouraging faces and look at yourself and know that you have what it takes . . . and you will prove them wrong” [Unknown].

Whatever you are, stay the course!


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