Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Don't get mired in too much flapdoodle!

I recently discovered a children’s book written by Maine author, Amy MacDonald. The title immediately grabbed my attention: Too Much Flapdoodle! Something about this phrase really resonates with me. I looked up the word flapdoodle in the dictionary, and it means pretty much what you would imagine: nonsense; foolish talk. The phrase stuck in my mind, and as I went about the next few days, there were several times when it popped into my consciousness.

Every time I turn on the radio, someone is moaning and groaning about the state of the economy. No improvements will come from focusing on the negative. In fact, this type of reporting is contributing to our problems. Hope is the answer; positive thoughts are the path we should be following. Unemployment is currently something like 6.5%. Folks, this means that 93.5% of people have jobs! I don’t have a job myself, and yet I know there’s plenty to be thankful for. Hyper-focusing on all that’s wrong? Too much flapdoodle!

I was standing in line the other day, waiting to mail a letter, and the woman behind me became very impatient. Now, sure, waiting in line can try one’s patience sometimes. We’ve all felt that kind of frustration. But consider what the outcome is: we post a letter, and within a relatively short amount of time – usually less than a week – our written words travel across the country, all for only 42 cents. The US Postal Service delivers hundreds of millions of messages each day to more than 141 million homes and businesses. That’s quite an achievement, and I for one appreciate their efforts! So the next time you go to mail your cards and packages, don’t gripe about the wait; appreciate the service. Complaining about a few minutes of waiting in line? Too much flapdoodle!

Everyone experiences stresses and strains during their daily lives. Everyone. Rich or poor, single or married, city folk and country dwellers. It’s not what happens to you, though, that determines if you’re happy – it’s how you react to what happens. It’s how you think about what happens. The next time you’re tempted to complain, criticize, or sink into a place of despair or depression, ask yourself this question: Is everything in my life really so bad? Is there anything good in my life I can focus on instead? There has to be something positive – look for it. Look hard. It’s well worth the effort, since it can literally make the difference between a happy life and an unhappy one. Look for the good. Do it every day. Get into the habit of catching yourself when your thoughts are going down a negative path and turn them around. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Otherwise, friends, you won’t be feeling very good. Your naturally buoyant spirit will become mired in your negative thoughts. And you may just find yourself feeling overwhelmed with too much flapdoodle!

[Thank you to Daniel Powers for the photo of the beautiful Irish mosaic. Visit Daniel online at Powers-Studio.com.]

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I'm soothed by nature, yet disturbed by its disturbance

Here in Maine, we've been blessed this year with fall color that has lasted right into November. Although many of the leaves are gone from the trees, some color remains. Tuesday I decided to make the most of the lingering autumn color show by driving up to Reid State Park. Anyone who knows me well knows that this park is my idea of heaven on earth. Perched on the beautiful Maine coast and punctuated with grassy dunes, pine trees, outcroppings of rocks, white birch trees, and breathtaking vistas, what more could anyone ask for?

When I go to Reid in the summer, I take a journal and pen, because the surroundings are so inspiring, I'm often having to stop and jot down ideas. Yesterday was a different kind of day. Too breezy and cool to linger at a picnic table under the pines, I walked along Mile Beach instead, snapping pics of everything from the crashing waves to tiny acorns and maple leaves scattered on the sand.

After leaving the park, I made a detour on the drive home, going down a road in Georgetown that I love, enjoying the late afternoon sunlight filtering through the trees. There is a special spot just off this road that I began photographing about 4 years ago. I'm sad to say that it has changed drastically, as someone, for some reason – I presume in preparation for building – has knocked down many of the lovely old trees that I loved. I hadn't been to my special spot for quite some time – more than a year – so it was with trepidation that I drove there Tuesday. Well, no buildings have been erected, but the landscape has changed dramatically, and not for the better. I felt slightly comforted to know that I had captured its former beauty – that the wonderful old trees that reached heavenward are not gone forever – that their beauty is preserved in my mind and also in my digital photograph files. But I'm sorry that after what I think was probably more than a century of gracing this particular parcel of land, they've been bulldozed to oblivion.

I'm someone who thrives on change. As my mother once so astutely observed, I don't just like change, I need it. But the one type of change I have not been able to accept is the change that disturbs Maine's natural beauty. I am struggling with this, as every day I see evidence of building in this place that I love. I know that everyone has the right to buy land and do with it whatever they wish. I certainly would not want to have anyone put limitations on my actions if I decided to buy a piece of property and construct something on it. But it seems to me as though some people do not grasp the essential Maine-ness of this place, if they think the state will benefit from more houses, more stores, and more fast-food restaurants.

Back to the trees… all I can say is, I'll miss those trees. They weren't "mine." I didn't own them or the land they grew on. But I appreciated those trees. I liked visiting those trees. And I respected their long history of giving shade and adding loveliness to the land. I'm grateful, though, that there are more trees for me to appreciate. I'm thankful I live in a state where trees cover about 90% of the landscape. So, kudos, Mother Nature, for blessing us here in Maine with all the wonderful trees and an array of natural riches. I, for one, am not taking Maine's beauty for granted.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, we can -- and we did! And now what do we want to do next?

It's the day after the 2008 election, which I believe will long be viewed as an historic event. Energy is shifting all over the place, and we've seen a manifestation of such changes in the election of Barack Obama. Regardless of which candidate you voted for, we can all feel good about our country. America is a land where freedom is valued. Where each person may choose to vote for the candidate who most resonates with him or her. Where free speech allows us to voice our opinions and disagree. Now tolerance and good sense require us to overlook our disagreements and move on. I believe that now is a time to focus on improving our world in whatever way we can. Each individual in our country has the power to make changes, changes that make the world -- our world -- a better place to live. The hope that was infused in many by the recent election should not lessen. Rather, now is a time to take that hope and build upon it. What would you like to see happen in 2009? And what can you do to make the changes that you seek? Gandhi said, Be the change you want to see in the world. I am now taking time to carefully consider what I can do to make life better for myself, my loved ones, and my community. I ask that you join me in considering your values, your goals, and your desires and take time now to create a plan to bring them to fruition. Let the wave of hope and excitement generated by the recent election carry us all -- regardless of race, gender, or political party -- into a brighter and more positive tomorrow.