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Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten” [G. K. Chesterton].

Go out there and slay some dragons!

Think back to when you were a child and you had a favorite story book. Do you remember?

It was the one with the smudges, dogged pages, and worn cover.

It was the one you spent hours reading. You were amazed by the illustrations; delighted by the story; emboldened by the hero’s courage. You cheered as the enemies became victims of magical plans.

One of my favorites books was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice with Mickey Mouse in the title role. I loved the story of a young character, home alone, misusing his power. Sure, it was great fun at first but, as my friend says, “Too much laughing leads to crying!” And before the young apprentice could wreak more havoc or create another army of servant brooms, the sorcerer returns and saves the day.

Once upon a time we believed that all things were possible. That dogs could talk and spiders could spell and a mouse named Mickey could cause brooms to come to life and cows could jump over the moon.

But somewhere along the way we stopped believing in things we couldn’t see. We came to believe that magic and fairy tales were for children. We outgrew the belief that dreams could come true.  And although we were still compelled to fight dragons (as adults we give them different names), we no longer expected to win the battles.

Life can be like that.

The truth is, you still have within yourself the power to storm castles, slay dragons, save the day, and change the course of your life. Magic still exists. The adult-version is called self-confidence and action, belief and positive attitude, determination and courage.

What story will you write today? One where you are banished to the tower in a distant castle? Downtrodden, held hostage by unfulfilled expectations and disappointments? Waiting for a mysterious stranger to come and save you?

Or, one where you grab life by the tail, fight your hardest, slay the dragons, and make dreams come true?

How could your life change if you had the courage to take one step toward your future, instead of putting things on hold, waiting for Prince Charming to arrive?

Happiness is like those palaces in fairy tales
whose gates are guarded by dragons:
we must fight in order to conquer it.
~Alexandre Dumas

Be willing to go after what you really want. Fight for it. Slay the dragons. Be determined! Realize “you may have to fight a battle more than once to win” [Margaret Thatcher]. Keep fighting . . . victory will be worth it in the end.

Whatever you are, write a good story today!

Deanna
Stevens Creative Consulting

One of my favorites essays. Originally posted 2/19/10.

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Of course I have a secret identity. Who wants to be super all the time?” [Mr. Incredible].

I have a plaque on my office wall that reads, “I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world” [Curly Girl].

I have always imagined that, if called upon, I could save the world.

In fact, I have often said to Greg, as I head out the door to face the rush hour commute, “Wish me luck! I’m off to save the world!” He always responds, “Good luck!” because he knows I fight nasty villains of inefficiency, bad attitudes, small minds, unsportsmanlike conduct, and really bad customer service.

And, truth be told, my “saving the world” often has more to do with helping others reach their goals than saving the world, as we know it, from impending doom. Yet, there is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from knowing I’ve helped someone move a little closer to their dreams.

After all, “the greatest achievements are those that benefit others”
[Lillian Gilcrest].

Some days, when my efforts produce something spectacular, and a client is thrilled with their new logo or Web site or newsletter, I feel like a super hero. Still, I think it would be awesome to look like a super hero sometimes. I could show up at work every once in a while wearing a cape and tiara. A girl needs to dress the part sometimes!

All of us are super heroes with secret identities. You might be living undercover as a salesperson or baker or teacher or student or administrative assistant. It doesn’t matter what title you wear or what your day job looks like.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles” [Christopher Reeve].

When the alarm sounds you must be ready spring into action and become a super hero to save the world, protect the innocent, help the hurting, support the cause, or pay it forward.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do” [Johann von Goethe].

Whatever you are, be a good one — and wear the tiara if you want to!

Deanna

Stevens Creative Consulting

Relativity applies to physics, not ethics” [Albert Einstein].

In many areas of the country, integrity has become a fairly cheap commodity. If you read the headlines, you’ll notice that organizations and politicians and leaders and parents and students and athletes seem to think that acting in an ethical manner is optional.

Did I miss the news flash? Did we amend the Constitution? Is it now acceptable to lie, cheat, steal, misrepresent, abandon our obligations, laugh at the law, and penalize the honest?

  • We applaud our favorite sports heroes, regardless of their lawlessness, as long as our team is winning.
  • We reelect politicians, even those who refuse to take responsibility for moral failures, because they are affiliated with “our party.”
  • We continue to support actors and musicians who destroy marriages and abuse drugs because they entertain us.
  • We reward colleagues, even as they skirt corporate compliance standards, because they achieve organizational objectives.
  • We overlook “creative accounting” and unscrupulous investments because the return on our money is amazing.

Closer to home, we make a minor concession here, and step over the line there, assuring ourselves that we’re not as bad as the neighbor (or at the very least, no worse than the next person). We convince ourselves that we deserve it, or it’s not that big of a deal, or that being honest and playing by the rules is too costly; all too often acting with integrity appears to place us at an unfair disadvantage.

Here’s something to think about: Tom Peters said, “There is no such thing as a minor lapse in integrity.”

Ethical is not a title you can earn at the local charity, order online, or purchase at the store. Integrity isn’t a shirt you put on in the morning — it’s a lifestyle. Ethical people are known as such because of their actions. It’s doing the right thing, even if no one is watching. Even when it is uncomfortable or difficult or requires additional work. Even when it costs more — especially when it costs more.

John Maxwell was asked what he thought about business ethics. His response went something like this, “There is no such thing as business ethics.  If you’re an ethical person, you’ll be ethical in business.  If you’re not, you won’t be.” I believe this same principle applies to every area of our lives!

It matters not how much money you donate or where you volunteer or which church you visit on Sunday. If you’re not ethical in business or education or finance or with your insurance company or the unemloyment agency or your employer or your family, the bottom line is that you’re not an ethical person.

Ethical people won’t sell their principles for position or promotion or power. They maintain their moral character regardless of the pressure or payoff or promise. They refuse to compromise integrity for comfort.

The highest courage is to dare to be yourself in the face of adversity.
Choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience,
and truth over popularity . . .
these are the choices that measure your life.
Travel the path of integrity without looking back,
for there is never a wrong time to do the right thing.
Successories ~

“It is curious — curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare” [Mark Twain].

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

*Another one of my favorites that I thought we should revisit!

 

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.

Whatever you are, your future is coming!

Deanna

*Just had to share another serving of one of my favorite posts.*

The Joy You Seek

Everyone is so busy during this time of year. Christmas will be here faster than three shakes of a reindeer’s antlers!

Expectations are piling up.

There is holiday baking to finish and presents to purchase.

Cards to be addressed and gifts to wrap.

Travel arrangements to plan and recipes to find.

So much to do.

So many deadlines.

So few moments to savor the simple things.

Maybe this is why the Advent Calendar, with its tiny windows filled with daily greetings, simple drawings, and small prizes, appeals to us. It provides a respite from the craziness and reminds us exactly what the activity is all about.

As a small child, I recall the anticipation of waiting for each December morning to arrive, and gathering  around the calendar with my sisters. Mom assisted our tiny hands as we took turns opening another window on the Advent Calendar and marveled at its contents.

Nothing spectacular or amazing — just a simple celebration of family tradition.

I won’t keep you long today.  I want to offer you one simple phrase, from Richard Wagner, to carry you through “this most wonderful time of the year”  . . .

Joy is not in things; it is in us.”

Tuck this thought into your pocket and carry it with you everywhere you go — the joy you seek during this season can be found within.

Whatever you are, be a good one!

Deanna

Such a simple but powerful reminder. This post was originally published last year.  It’s still one of my favorites!

Are You In The 52%?

It’s not enough to rage against the lie . . .
you’ve got to replace it with the truth.”
[Bono]

Look at the person sitting across the lunch table today. If you’re in Ohio, chances are one of you didn’t vote.

In case you have missed the avalanche of political ads that have blazed across our televisions screens the last few weeks . . . or  avoided the talking heads discussing the candidates and issues and parties . . . or still think Tea Party only refers to an event in Boston Harbor we studied in History Class, today marks election day across the country.

People are angry. They’re fed up with no jobs and high taxes. A national government filled with people who pass bills without reading them and from which they, themselves, are exempt. Some constituents are even threatening to unseat the ?&*#! incumbents and put the President on a Performance Improvement Plan. We’ve drawn a line in the sand and said enough is enough.

But not everyone.

In fact, barely a majority of Ohioans are expected to put forth the effort to vote today. Only 52% of registered voters care enough about the future to take the time to do a little research about the candidates and issues, and then actually cast their ballot. Seriously?

I’m fed up with the whole ball of political whacks, too. Is one party any better than the other? Well, it depends on who you ask.  However, I’m probably speaking for a majority of citizens who are just sick and tired with the entire system and especially with the people who keep it running.

But I’m not about to let political foolishness silence my voice.

Every election is my chance to hit it out of the park by participating in one of the coolest gigs anywhere — helping choose who will hold positions of power in our government. Every time I vote I feel blessed and honored to have been born in a country where I’m given this right and allowed to safely exercise it.

In a lot of ways, though, politics is like life. How many times do we fail to take action, speak up, or do the research because we feel hopeless? We convince ourselves it’s too much energy, it doesn’t matter, things will always stay the same, what we want doesn’t count.

And in the end, what we get is a future looks surprisingly like our present, but not quite as glamorous (and usually with higher taxes).

Is that what you want?  More of the same?  Because that’s what will happen if  you are content with sitting around complaining while refusing to take action — whether in the political arena or in your own life.

Whatever you are, step up to the plate and be one of the 52% who are willing to put in the effort and make a difference.

Deanna

www.StevensCreativeConsulting.com

The only thing certain was that the future would have to reveal itself in due time, and most likely it would be different from anything we had expected” [The Miracle of Mercy Land].

I recently read the book, The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan. This is not a book I would have typically chosen for myself, but I had agreed to read and review the book for the publisher, Waterbook Press.

After finishing the story (in which I found the pace to be a bit slow and the characters underdeveloped), I realized the amazing message the author shares goes far beyond the story she’s written on the page.

Set in the late 1930’s the book centers around a young woman in a small coastal town in Alabama. The daughter of a poor backwoods itinerant preacher, Mercy Land has moved to the “big town” of  Bay City to discover life, and winds up working at the local newspaper, Banner.

For seven years, under the watchful eye of the newspaper editor, Doc, and his wife, Mercy comes into her own.  Things get interesting when a mysterious book arrives which reveals the pasts, the choices, and the consequences people living in Bay City have experienced.

The information the mysterious book provides is not always comfortable for Doc and Mercy to read. Secrets are revealed. Choices laid bare. Decisions exposed.

Honestly, in some ways this book is not unlike the onslaught of today’s political attacks we see during election season.  Flippant comments made or senseless actions taken years ago come back to haunt candidates in full color on television.

The question the author presents is one we have all struggled with at one time or another. Is it possible to effect the past in some way in order to create a better present or future?   We’ve all done things then that if we had the benefit of our experience now would have been handled much differently.

This is especially painful when we realize our failings have negatively affected another. What then?

How long must we carry around regret for past mistakes?
Can we ever be absolved?
Can we ever make it right?

These are some of the same issues the characters in The Miracle of Mercy Land confront. There are no easy answers.

Many times, we do the best we can with what we have at the time. We cannot be faulted for that. Time does not stand still. Memories fade. Expectations change. We grow into ourselves and see things differently.

Regardless of who we are, everyone carries their past right along with them. It is our past which has helped shaped us into who we have become. Along the way, however, it is our choice to either sharpen the points or smooth off the rough edges.

As children, we are quick to blame others. As we grow into adults we must put this childish behavior away and take responsibility for choosing our own path — regardless of what our past looks like. The blame game is a sorry excuse for taking control of one’s life.

Perhaps Maria Robinson is right. “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Good advice for today, and for the characters in The Miracle of Mercy Land.

Whatever you are, as Doc and Mercy discovered, the choice is yours!

Deanna

This review also appears on BN.com via this link.