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Monday, May 22, 2017

Attitude Is Everything

An apocryphal story has been traveling across the Internet. You may have read or heard it:

Two shoe salesmen were given a new territory on a Pacific island. Immediately upon arrival, the first sales­man placed an urgent call to the home office: Get me out of here. No one on this island wears shoes.

The second salesman sent a request to the factory: Please put everybody on overtime. Will need as many shoes as you can manufacture. No one on this island has any shoes.

Attitude----the altitude adjuster----determines whether we fly high or low, crash or soar, glide or slide. 

  • Attitude is more significant than what has happened or what is hap­pening. 
  • Attitude is more important that what other people think about us.
  • Attitude is more significant that the past, than genetics, than education, than appearance, or talent because the correct attitude can help overcome these challenges.

A couple of weeks ago I had a pity party. I became upset with everything and everybody. Then I reminded myself:  

Anybody can have a positive attitude when things are going well. It's how we act when things are going badly that determines the strength of our character. An appropriate attitude means feeling hopeful in challenging times. Look for the good. Review blessings. Remember successes. 

I shared my insight with a friend who, later that day, gave me an adhesive label to place on my bathroom mirror. Now whenever I shave, brush my teeth, or comb my hair, I see the message: 

Attitude is Everything

Whether we are running hot, running cold, or simply running on overload, we can tidy up our point of view by remembering these aphorisms:

  • Emotional disposition outshines our social position
  • What matters is what happens in us not to us
  • Choices, not circumstances, determine how we think
  • Activity cures misery
  • The most certain way to success is to try one more time
  • Act "as if" to get positive results
  • What we think trumps what others think
  • Contentment depends on our response to events
  • Gratitude adjusts our altitude

To encourage this blogger to keep blogging, please comment. Did the blog entry bring to mind a personal story you would like to share? Any ideas you would like to contribute? Any disagreements? A partial sentence in this blog entry comes from the lyrics of a 1984 hit song. Name the song and artist. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Avoid Facebook Excess

To experience a balanced life AVOID FACEBOOK EXCESS. Facebook is more addicting than Oxycontin. More stimulating than cocaine. And sometimes more satisfying than chocolates and ice cream.

But it can become wasteful. 

We can spend hours on captivating, but unimportant topics such as: 
  • Puppy dogs chewing up carpets 
  • Babies out carpet eating puppy dogs 
  • Big tomatoes, bigger potatoes, biggest cucumbers 
  • Videos of people skiing off the summer
  • Photos of grandma's 117th birthday 
  • Reading useless factoids such as there are more than 100 US citizens who have lived to be 117
  • Photos of What-A-Great-Time-I-Had-On-My-North-Pole-Vacation-Wearing-My-Bikini
  • Solving Where Is Waldo? puzzles
  • Reading political rants, PC rants, Longhorn football rants, and Aggie jokes. 

I am not advocating avoiding Facebook altogether. Unembellished personal entries bless those who care about us and we are grateful for news and photos of our friends. 

Everything in moderation applies to most activities including Facebook.

To encourage this blogger to keep blogging, please comment. Did the blog entry bring to mind a personal story you would like to share? Any ideas you would like to contribute? Any disagreements?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reunion Redux

After graduating from Lufkin High School 55 years ago, I attended my first reunion.

Blame it on Facebook. About a year ago I joined the 21st century with my Facebook entry. Suddenly I had a smattering of 73-year old high school friends, a few of whom invited me to join them for our 55th class reunion.

My initial reaction: FEAR. I haven't seen these people in 55 years. I'll be lost in a cloud of classmates who have kept up with each other through the years. They won't recognize me and I will be unable to identify them. Who volunteers for a root canal? I'll pass on the colonoscopy.

Then I had a dream. A balding, wrinkled, triple chinned homeless looking man and I are standing across from each over a punch bowl table. I ask, “Why isn't this punch spiked?” The man replies in a rhyme-like cadence that the prim and proper girls who took the thrill out of the swill in ‘62 are now irreproachable women who rehabilitate the reprobate. I awake in horror when I realize I am the man across the table reflected in a mirror.

That's it: A foreshadowing of disaster. No torture table for me. I'm skipping the whipping. I'm not going.

Later, I began to recall the good times I had in high school. Yes, I would like to see my old friends before I die. And I want to know if time has distorted my treasured memories of Lufkin, Texas.

I would like to see the majestic long leaf pines towering over the rolling prairies dotted by Black Angus cattle, and watch the Texas Quarter Horses gallop across the pastures. I'd like to inhale the fragrant scents of honeysuckle, jasmine, gardenia, and the sweetest of them all, the magnolia flower. 

Would pavement cover the winding clay-colored country roads? Would the bustling downtown of 1962 be abandoned to dank and dark like so many other small Texas towns? Would the low-slung ranch-style houses surrounded by deep green, grassy lawns still be there? 

I couldn't forget the Lufkin churches with their steeples rising high over the cityscape as if competing with each other for tallest. I remember the Methodist Sunday services always finishing ahead of the Baptist Church so that we could be first in line at Luby's Cafeteria. 

Most of all I remember the prettiest girls in Texas in a state filled with the prettiest girls in the world. Well then...why not attend?

When I heard the girls were having a luncheon, the deal was sealed. I'd go...and crash their party. I didn't care about seeing the boys. After all, "one girl is more use than 20 boys." I was certain the girls would be more fun...and prettier.

Before the luncheon I became a teenager again. What shirt should I wear? The blue one? Or the yellow one? Should I wear my cowboy hat? Or my Texas Longhorn cap? Are my boots polished? I was as nervous as a boy phoning a girl for the first time. 

Get real. You are a 73-year old man who looks like a WWII veteran with an adorable wife, two adult children, four grandchildren, a ten gallon hat and no cattle.

I didn’t know what to expect as I walked across the parking lot from the motel to the restaurant party room, but I entered with a John Wayne swagger, a broad beaming smile, and a booming voice brimming with confidence: "All right girls, I'm here. Let the party begin." (One thing I've learned is this: A-fake-it-until-you-make-it attitude will brighten the darkest expectations.)

It was great. They all looked fantastic. Many of them were more radiant than their high school days. Two or three had absolutely no wrinkles. I accused them of being vampires because they hadn’t aged. They denied cosmetic surgery and instead claimed Angelina River water kept them forever young. Oil of Olay may have helped too.

The biggest disappointment of the day occurred when I discovered that Terri Hudson didn't remember my 8th grade kiss.

Terry how could you have forgotten. We were on your front porch swing. You were wearing braces. I had been warned not to kiss a girl with braces because my lip might get snagged by one of the brackets and I would have to go lock-lipped to the emergency room where the doctor would amputate my bleeding kisser. But Terri, my passion for you outweighed the risk of a withered lip. I defied gangrene when I planted a big smacker on your ruby red lips...and you don't even remember that night! To me it was a night that melded courage with passion and you have no memory whatsoever of my manliness. Frailty thy name is woman.

Later when at the fish fry more people began to gather, I had difficulty identifying many of those present. Some I had encountered infrequently in high school, others I had difficulty remembering, and a few of those I had known well I couldn't identify until being told. 

For the most part the boys had been careless with their bodies, but almost all seemed happy with the way they played the cards they had been dealt. Perhaps only the happy ones attended the reunion.

The leaders still led. The followers still followed.  Mr. Personality had lost none of his charm. The cheerleaders remained lively and high-spirited. 

Our smartest, most refined and cultured classmate still held no scorn for us common types and talked with us as if we were as talented as she. 

The twins had grown six inches since high school. A basketball teammate had grown three. A few classmates had gained more weight than necessary. I suspected that one or two of the women were 73-year old anorexics.

Super Stud was as handsome as ever. The girls still turned glassy eyed with his gaze. He also was friendly, smart, and interesting. After our rather lengthy conversation, much longer than any we had in high school, I found I liked him very much and wished we had been high school friends or perhaps best friends.

A friend now a professor of entrepreneurship at a major university looked like a 45-year old. The Vietnam War had hardened our veterans. 

I talked with three classmates who told me they had considered themselves high school dummies. They struggled for a few years until experience convinced them otherwise. Their newfound belief in themselves enabled them to excel in their careers. 

Most people say we can't change. I know we can. Personalities and attitudes will change if we wish and work hard enough. We can have just about anything in life if we sacrifice everything else for it.

In my view, all present were as bright as summer sunshine. Wit, wisdom and winsomeness had not abandoned them. Yes, there had been tragedies and loses and setbacks but they had faced them with pioneer courage and bore them with faithful confidence in a loving God.

Just over 70 classmates attended the reunion, another 70 stayed home, several of whom I had eagerly anticipated seeing. The news that 74 classmates had died stunned me. The high school quarterback. The class president. Miss personality. One of our radio personalities. Athletes. Band members. A smattering of the most successful. Twenty-five years ago one of my best high school friends had died of a massive heart attack one day after passing an insurance physical. 

Chronic illness had ravaged others. A best friend is blind. Severe diabetes has bedridden another classmate. Alzheimer's has stolen the mind of a brilliant friend. His marvelous wife, a classmate, challenges her grief with uncommon valor. 

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

Renewed friendships overcame the sad reports. Perhaps regular attendees found the homecoming rather prosaic, but I was gobsmacked by how much fun I had and astonished that the bonds we formed as teenagers remained welded through time.

The reunion was so much fun I don't want to wait for our 60th. How about next year? Even better how about next month?

Of all the feelings generated by our 55th class reunion, memories of the girls are most pleasurable to recall. They are women now, but they will always be girls to me, the sweetest, nicest, most fun-loving girls in Texas.

I'll remember them jumping rope. Hopscotching.  Cray fishing in the Chambers Park creek. I can't forget their pranks and their giggles.  

I’ll remember them as teenage girls on football Friday nights; being with them at drive-in movies on Saturday nights; Baptist balconies on Sunday nights; and driving around looking for them every night. 

I'll remember them in their cheerleader sweaters, Girl Scout uniforms, and prom dresses. Most of all I’ll remember their summer soft, bitter-sweet smiles with graduation goodbyes.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Advanced Report on Reunion Memories

I am writing an essay on my 55th high school class reunion and since I haven't posted in several weeks I am concerned that I will lose my blog followers. Hang with me. The essay is long, very long. It may be too mawkish for some, too idealist for others. But the memories cannot be taken from my mind and heart. I laughed and I cried while writing the memoir. It needs some polishing and some rewriting, but should be ready to publish Monday, May15th. I hope you resonate with the descriptions and like it as much as I do.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Window of Time

Sometimes when we look back through the window of time we see visions of immeasurable joy. They are joys that we carry in our hearts, but to which we may never return. 

But wait! Perhaps in eternity's time God will twirl us back to those sweet memories where they will be lived forever.