Happy Birthday Sandy!!!

Granny B

This is a special story
written for my granddaughter Sandy
on her sixth birthday.

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Sandy who lived much too far away from her grandma. One day her Grandmother came to visit because she missed Sandy’s hugs and kisses so much she couldn’t stand it any longer.

Sandy’s birthday was coming in a few weeks. Grandma didn’t know if she would see her granddaughter on her special day so she left a birthday present for Sandy hidden in her parent’s closet. Sandy tried very hard not to peek but once she sneaked into her parent’s closet and brushed aside the tissue paper in the gift bag. She saw two sweaters and shirts.

On the day of her birthday, Sandy took her sweaters and shirts from the gift bag and set them aside. Then she slipped her hand deep inside to see if anything else was hiding in there. At the bottom of the bag was a large sparkly jewel. Sandy had never seen a jewel that big and she was sure she was now the richest six-year-old in the universe.

Sandy was pretty sure the jewel had magic powers. So she took the jewel into her bedroom and closed the door. Then she rubbed the jewel in her hands three times, closed her eyes and made a wish.

“I wish my regular school was a princess school,” Sandy said just before she placed the jewel under her pillow.

The next day when she opened the door to her school, Sandy looked for people wearing crowns and tiaras but she didn’t see any. When she walked into her classroom Sandy’s teacher was wearing a long flowing gown covered in sequins.

“Students,” her teacher said, “today you will learn how to be a real prince and a princess.”

Sandy couldn’t wait. She primped her hair and waited for her teacher to bring her fancy clothes, shoes and a crown to wear.

“Follow me,” the teacher said.

First her teacher led her to the cleaning supplies closet.

“This is King Henry’s abode,” her teacher said smiling at the school janitor. “He keeps our school clean every day and nobody even knows that he is really a king.”

Sandy looked at Mr. Smith. She didn’t see a crown.

“Where’s his crown?” Sandy asked.

“He doesn’t need to wear his crown,” her teacher answered. “He knows what the best kings do.”

Sandy was confused.

Next her teacher led her to the lunch room.

“Presenting Queen Rita, Queen Rosa and Queen Lilly,” her teacher said.

Sandy looked at the lunch ladies in their hairnets and aprons. She didn’t see any tiaras with diamonds and rubies.

But they don’t have any crowns,” Sandy said.

“They don’t like to show off,” her teacher said. “But they knew what the best queens do.”

Sandy shook her heard.

“But how can you be a queen or a king if you don’t have a crown?” she asked.

“The very best kings and queens don’t wear crowns,” her teacher said. “They serve people. Some of them give children a clean place to learn and good food to eat. Most people don’t know they are royalty but they are.”

That afternoon when Sandy got home she looked at her mommy. She wondered if her mommy was a queen because she gave her children a clean place to learn and good food to eat.

Then she ran into her bedroom, took her birthday jewel out from under her pillow, rubbed it three times and made a wish.

“I wish I was a princess,” Sandy said.

Then she went into the kitchen.

“Can I help you clean up around here and get dinner ready?” Sandy asked her mother. “I am princess in training.”

“Why yes,” her mother answered a little surprised.

“By the way mommy,” Sandy said. “I know you’re really a queen but you don’t like to show off.”


Having the Courage to try New Things At Any Age

How do we keep our zest for living as we age?  Do something you've never done before!  Have the courage to be a beginner! 

When we have a new experience physically it takes us to new territory mentally. When we let go of routine and venture into the discomfort of being a beginner, it opens dormant mental power. We feel more enthusiasm, energy and excitement for other areas of our life as well.

The power of learning and experiencing new things is contagious. Learning in one area ignites learning in another. If we are always learning or experiencing something new it keeps us in touch with how it feels during the change process.

When we were children, each day presented us with something challenging. We were constantly required to change, adapt and grow. Most adults on the other hand, ease into a comfortable rut and get stuck in stability, stagnation and safety. The wonder, curiosity and sparkle left our eyes.

All of us know someone who is old in years but still retains their zest for living. They’re fun to be around. How do they do it? They have the courage to keep trying new things. How do we get this childhood liveliness back? Learn or experience something new.

It takes humility and courage to be a beginner at any age. “Oh, I could never do that,” I hear people say when I invite them to try something. I always tell them they will never know if they never try. I hear lots of excuses – money, time, ability, talents, illness and age. In fact, if we really want to do something, we’ll find a way. 


Doing Things You Think You Can't Do

While I was growing up, I always wanted to play in the school orchestra. I begged my mother, but she told me only rich kids played expensive instruments. So I sang in the choir instead. Singing didn’t cost anything. Well, I grew up, got married, and it took me thirty years to get all my children in school. I thought I’d missed my chance. Then at 52 I quit using old excuses and joined the New Horizons Orchestra. This is a unique orchestra. They welcome beginners.

When I began playing the violin, the music I produced resembled sick birds with scratchy sore throats - but I kept trying. As I practiced I felt areas of my brain wake up and form new connections. My fingers drummed note placements on my bed pillow at night. I heard the melody I was learning drifting through my mind at odd times, like when I was driving the car or doing the dishes. As the orchestra director gently guided us through our first elementary songs, there were moments when the music seemed to lift from the page and wrap around my heart. During the pauses, the moments of quiet between the notes, I felt aroused and elevated – like flying without leaving the ground. The learning process was not intimidating or humiliating; it was energizing, exhilarating and fun. After we played our first song in three parts, I jumped from my seat exclaiming, “We’re an orchestra! We make music!”

One woman had a brain tumor, resulting in the removal of large portions of her brain. She went into a deep depression that didn’t lift until her husband brought her to our orchestra. As she learned to play an instrument, her brain developed new pathways and many other abilities came back to her. An eighty-six year old woman crippled with arthritis also became a member of the orchestra. Though her fingers were gnarled, she persisted and learned to play the violin before she died.

We’re never too old, young, dumb or poor to learn something new. Studies show people rarely try anything new after the age of forty. Good grief, we have to be that old before we’re wise enough to let go of all the status symbols in our culture and start living an authentic life. It’s never time to have a midlife crisis. It’s always time to have an all-life awakening. An all-life awakening invites us to learn something new at every age.


Happiness X Two

Experiencing life
with someone you love
just makes everything
twice as sweet.


Inviting the Gift of Laughter into Your Life

Researchers have discovered that laughter can actually lower blood pressure and trigger a flood of endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that bring on a feeling of well-being and even euphoria. Laughter also affects our immune system. Gamma-interferon, a disease-fighting protein, rises with laughter. So do B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies and T-cells, which orchestrate our body’s immune response. Laughter can also shut off the flow of stress hormones that come into play when we feel hostility, rage or stress. Stress hormones suppress the immune system, raise blood pressure, and increase the number of platelets in the blood which can cause fatal artery blockage. Keeping a sense of humor really is serious business.

There are literally hundreds of ways to invite joy and laughter into your life without waiting until everything is going smoothly, because it never will. Finding humor can be learned, practiced, reinforced and internalized just like any other skill. Everyone has an innate sense of humor, although it may be hidden after years of neglect. Remember, those who laugh – last. Humor is an effective way to manage stress and prevent burnout. Stress is caused by our perception of events not the actual events. We can’t control what happens to us but we can control our perception of what happens to us through humor. That is power through perspective.

If we can find humor in something - we can survive it. People who are dour and gloomy exacerbate their illnesses and shorten their life spans. Laugher is as good as exercise. To stay healthy we not only have to eat right, we have to think right. Happy people treat stress as a positive challenge rather than a negative event. Being able to laugh at ourselves is mentally healthy.

By developing a sense of humor, we can increase our ability to tap creative problem-solving abilities. Humor can be an affectionate communication of insight. Using humor is one way to lobby for change without being offensive. One wife found if she clutched her heart and threw herself on the floor yelling, "Oh, you’re so right, it’s killing me!” when she and her husband started arguing, the steam suddenly left the conflict. Another woman took out a classified ad that read, “Husband for sale, cheap. Comes complete with hunting and fishing equipment, one pair of jeans, two shirts, black Lab retriever and too many pounds of venison. Pretty good guy, but not home much from October to December and from April to October. Will consider trade.” After approximately 66 telephone calls, some of them serious, the wife placed another ad: “Retraction of husband for sale cheap. Everybody wants the dog, not the husband.”

Humor is also an effective way to communicate serious messages with a light touch. For example, there was a woman who was always losing her glasses. So she decided to use humor to solve her problem. She pasted a note to her glasses case that read, “If you have these, I don’t. They are owned by a little old lady who is driving home among your loved ones. Please return.” Then she included her name and address. After she put that note on her glasses, the person who found them always quickly returned them.

Love may make the world go around, but laughter keeps us from getting so dizzy we want to get off. Humor is everywhere if we’re paying attention. Take for example the notice in the church bulletin board that read, “There will be meetings in the north and south ends of the church. Children will be baptized on both ends.” Or the sign on a hospital bulletin board that observed, “Research shows that the first five minutes of life can be the most risky.” Penciled underneath, “The last five minutes are pretty risky too.” Or the cartoon of a doctor consulting with a patient that read, “I think the problem is your gall bladder, but if you want on a second opinion, Ill say it’s your kidneys.”

There are circumstances in life we can change and circumstances we can’t. Humor helps us effectively deal with both. We don’t have to grin and bear it - we can grin and share it. We’ll discover life is so much more fun when we share more than we bear. Humor can be a wonderful way to add years to our life and life to our years – by preventing a hardening of the attitudes. Laugher is the jest medicine.