Marvels at creativity of kids

 

By Randal B. Thatcher

Apr. 26, 2018

 

Today, indulge me as I marvel.

I am continually amazed by the inherent creativity and innate artistry of youth.

Give a high schooler a video camera, and I’m astounded by the insightful documentary film he can produce with it. (I got to view several such films at a recent student screening event at North Sanpete High School.)

Give a girl in middle school a solid lump of clay, then I watch with awe as she confidently transforms it into an arrestingly beautiful ceramic mask worthy of a prominent place on a proud uncle’s wall.

Give a kindergartener a length of butcher paper and some finger paints, and I cannot help but be bowled over by the resulting abstract art. (Not to mention the resulting mess!)

And give a group of fifth-graders and sixth-graders an assignment to write a fictional short story, and my mind was blown by the sheer ingeniousness of their highly entertaining yarns.

I recently had the opportunity to both read and critique 42 such stories written with surprising wit and imagination by the students of a local elementary school.

Some were short—a single, double-spaced page—but others where several chapters long, stapled into book form and replete with splashy and alluring illustrations.

So uniformly good were these stories, and so compelling in basic premise, that I wanted to share a few of their titles and summaries just to give you some idea of the sheer creativity at work within the inventive mind of a typical 11-year-old or 12-year-old.

“The Day I Became a Superhero”—a familiar fantasy tale, except this young superhero saves local cats and dogs.

“The Talking Bear and the Hunter”—I’ll bet you’d hold off shooting a bear also if you discovered it could talk, and you’d probably also become fast friends, just like it happened in this story.

“Dimensions”—Just imagine discovering a whole new world in another dimension—and all before dinnertime!

“The Strange Case of the Blue Blobs”—A lot of fighting occurs in this one with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, but—spoiler alert—our young heroes finally manage to subdue those pesky blobs in the end.

“Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Bike Bandits”—If you’ve ever had a bicycle stolen, then you’ll understand the sweet satisfaction of having this master sleuth enter into the picture, solve the case—naturally—and unmask the culprit!

“The Love in the World”—a surprisingly emotional love story by a 12-year-old boy but very positive, full of hope … and steamy romance!

“It’s All in My Head … or is It?”—a reality-bending tale that blurs the line between dreams and waking life.

“The Real Mrs. Krany”—a 12-year-old’s imaginings of what her sixth-grade teacher might be up to during afterschool hours, and what is revealed may surprise you!

“The Statue that Came to Life”—Just be careful about which statues you decide to mischievously spray-paint in your local park after dark.

“Dragons Versus Unicorns”—You’d think the dragons would win easily, but the unicorns might have a few surprises inside those sparkly horns!

“Space Travel”—Among 42 stories, there’s bound to be one about space travel, and this was it, and with astonishingly detailed descriptions of the cosmos.

“Ugly Versus Attractive”—an unexpectedly insightful look into what constitutes true beauty.

Those are just a dozen of the 42 stories I had the pleasure of reading—all equally imaginative and fascinatingly fun to read. Most included a heartwarmingly happy ending (usually with good eventually triumphing over evil) but not always.

I jotted comments on every story, including some praise for the wonderful inventiveness of that particular plot. And these comments were all sincere.

I know that as we grow from kids into adults, many sobering responsibilities unavoidably come into our lives which tend to claim too much of our free time and our mental and emotional energies.

But my perennial hope, with every rising generation, is that those inherently creative and imaginative young minds will manage to retain and express their natural and wonderful creative force as they grow older.

I hope they will.

Our all-too-serious world desperately needs it!

Comments are always welcome at ahalfbubbleoffplumb@gmail.com.

Cultivate patience as you face trials

 

By Corrie Lynn Player

Apr. 12, 2018

 

I’ve written several columns about cultivating gratitude for trials, having faith and waiting on the Lord. A related topic is cultivating patience in this world of increasing impatience, incivility and downright nastiness.

Patience is a virtue, one which refines the spirit.

It builds inner strength and enhances relationships.

Although it’s a virtue I try to cultivate, I have a long way to go toward making it part of my character!

For example, I found the following journal entry I wrote a few years ago during my mother’s last illness.

Last night I took Mama to the bathroom at 11:30 and was in bed by midnight. Then my intercom phone jolted me out of a sound sleep about 2 a.m. Mama said, “I’m peeing. What should I do?”

I heaved a huge sigh and stumbled downstairs.

I said, “You have heavy pads on. So I don’t have to get up with you every two hours!”

I was irritated and spoke sharply to her.

She hung her head, saying, “I’m sorry. Shall I just go back to sleep?”

Still irritated, I told her to get up, “now that I’m standing here,” and marched her into the bathroom.

My anger was evident, and I’m sure she felt it.

As she sat on the toilet, she pulled off one pad. I gave her another and I told her to count how many she had altogether (four).

Then I asked her how many she wore during the day when she went potty every two hours (one).

I need to apologize for my impatience and reassure her that I love her and am glad she’s living with me. No matter how difficult, I shouldn’t let my tired body dictate how I treat my mother.

As I read those words, I cried, because Mama no longer calls me at 2 a.m. I can sleep through the night without interruption.

I wish I could go back and change my irritated response, but I can’t. I can’t even change what I said or did five minutes ago.

The years of caring for Mama have ended, and I’m at a different place in my life.

I’ve learned that expressing impatience or other negative emotions to my family is hurtful—for them and for me.

I’m learning I must turn such feelings over to my Savior, Jesus Christ. He will accept them and heal my heart by granting me a portion of who He is.

I don’t have to endure pain and guilt for something I truly regret.

Like some folks, you might think that anger, irritation, annoyance, etc., shouldn’t be suppressed or they’ll make you sick.

In reality, such emotions can, over time, cause depression, anxiety and other physical or mental illnesses, which is why I advocate that you turn your sorrows over to God and His Son.

Placing your burdens at His feet involves a whole lot more than wanting the pain to go away, however.

It takes prayer—looking to Him constantly and steadfastly instead of at yourself so you lay aside the “old man” and put on the “new man,” meaning the power of the mind, heart and spirit of Christ.

It takes study—studying His character, His love and His word in faith so you are truly transformed in the process.

It takes work—stepping outside yourself and working with Him to reach out to others who need solace and service.

Take a deep breath, pray for the strength to curb your tongue and acknowledge your complete dependence on and need for Help from Above.

Who turned these old doorknobs before me?

By Randal B. Thatcher

Feb. 22, 2018

 

I have a cousin who has always been interested in very old things. An inveterate rock-hound and arrowhead-seeker, he is continually on the hunt for that rare item of hidden beauty or historical significance.

Such expeditions have more recently led him into several old abandoned mining towns and ghost towns of our western United States, opening up a whole new treasure trove of forgotten Americana for him to comb through.

This includes glass pieces from old bottles, silver hood ornaments and grill plates on rusted-out vehicles, along with rusting kitchen utensils, cans, spurs, hinges, pulleys and other miscellany.

He grabs up anything from those boomtown days of yore that could—were it able to speak—tell a spellbinding story of our country’s rough-and-tumble frontier times.

One day, as he was scouring the old abandoned mining town of Manhattan, Nev., he happened to spy a particularly eye-catching doorknob on one of the old miner shacks.

“My mind began to wander,” he told me, “and to wonder about who might’ve lived in that 100-year-old shack.”

These musings prompted him to seek out other doorknobs (those on the town’s old chapel were especially striking). He photographed each one and then turned his imagination loose as he tried to picture the hands—long since moldering in their graves—that might’ve turned those knobs so many years ago.

He was hooked.

This hunt for old doorknobs became a passion.

His incessant quest has led him to other ghost towns and historic places so I knew it was only a matter of time before the lure of historic U.S. 89 and the old pioneer villages of Sanpete County would coax him down here.

Two weeks ago, his pickup truck finally rolled through Fairview and Mt. Pleasant, making frequent stops along the way to explore, examine and snap pictures of many weathered old doorknobs.

I hopped in with him as he came through Spring City and joined him in the hunt.

Of course, he deemed many rustic old doorknobs in this pioneer town worthy of adding to his photographic trophy case.

Whatever I’d initially thought of his Great Doorknob Hunt, his enthusiasm became infectious, and I found myself ruminating right along with him about the hard-scrabble, 19th-century folks who’d lived on the other side of all those weather-beaten doors.

It took me instantly back 150 years, as I tried to picture them in my mind’s eye and to envision them as they went about the rigors of their daily routines.

And now, I can’t help but look for old doorknobs myself as I go about my own (far less rigorous) daily routine.

Whenever I put my hand on a doorknob that looks authentically old now, I can’t help but wonder what unseen hands might’ve been upon it before my own.

And when I walk into an old pioneer home that still has the original flooring, I think about all those pairs of handmade leather shoes that trod the same rough-hewn planks over a 100 years before my own mass-produced Nikes came trundling over them.

My wife and I have learned some of the history and family details of the initial pioneer inhabitants (and builders) of our old Spring City house, since moving into it four years ago.

Yet I am much more inclined now to ponder more deeply upon these people and to try to feel their presence.

I will sometimes sit very still in the parlor or the bedroom and just think about them.

And if I am very quiet, I think I can hear them: their concerns about crops or the weather or the new calf or foal; their kind words and their arguments and even their most intimate whisperings.

I can’t, really, but it’s fun to sometimes make-believe I can.

Since going doorknob hunting with my cousin, such a historically minded view of our pioneer valley has grown more pronounced in my own mind.

I cannot actually see the ghosts of those original settlers, but I am inclined now to stop by an old Sanpete cemetery and wander among the headstones or saunter slowly through an old pioneer barn or farmyard, looking for any rusted relic from the past.

And why not?

Every town in this Sanpete Valley is historic, sprinkled about with myriad reminders of those bygone days. They are virtually under our very noses, if we’ll simply attune ourselves to seeing them.

I don’t expect to hear the actual voices of our home’s original inhabitants, but if I ever do, I just hope they won’t harangue me too roundly for my wimpy insistence on indoor plumbing and a furnace!

 

Comments are always welcome at ahalfbubbleoffplumb@gmail.com.

Utah’s own was Father of Television

 

By Corrie Lynne Player

Feb. 8, 2018

 

Headlines “David Defeats Goliath!” and “Farm Boy Inventor Wins” blared from newspapers across the country on May 13, 1938. On that day, the examiner for the United States Patent Office, for the second time, awarded priority to Philo T. Farnsworth for inventing the scanning tube.

David Sarnoff, the owner of RCA (Radio Corporation of America), had tried to buy out, wait out, and finally steal the Farnsworth patents.  Not only did Philo establish priority, but he proved he had conceived the idea in February 1922 when he was 15 years old.

Sarnoff would have liked to ignore Philo and concentrate on the work of Vladimir Zworykin, his chief research scientist, but the patent court judgments and the denial of appeals forced him to recognize Farnsworth’s position as the first inventor of all electronic television and the real Father of Television.  How such a moment came about is a Twentieth Century Horatio Alger story more fascinating than any fiction.

Born in Beaver, Utah, Philo came into a family that didn’t have many of the things you and I take for granted. However, his rural background and lack of education didn’t limit his vision. He was only 12 when his electronic television idea came into his mind, while he plowed beet fields.  By the time he was old enough to vote, he had caught the attention of world class financiers and the most powerful thinkers of his day. He was a brilliant scientist who charmed kings and presidents and mesmerized the technical world.

By the time RCA had to “cross license” with Farnsworth Television, Philo’s company owned more than 75 crucial patents, including the Electric Oscillator System which breaks the picture into individual electrons for transmission, the system of Pulse Transmission which sends the electrons to their destination, the Image Analysis Tube which picks up the electrons and the Image Receiving Tube which reassembles the electrons.

Unfortunately, unlike the Father of the Telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Father of the Light Bulb, Thomas Edison, Philo’s name slipped into obscurity after his death. Although David Sarnoff and RCA were forced to pay Philo for using his patents, they managed to push him so far out of the history books that people forgot about him after his death in 1971.  Television article writers for World Book, Britannica, and Encyclopedia Americana were all RCA employees or former employees.

But, largely because of the school children of Utah and the efforts of his family, most people today remember Philo T. Farnsworth. In the mid-Eighties, he was inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame, and the Post Office issued a stamp bearing his portrait as part of their commemorative series about “The Greatest Minds of the 20th Century.” The placement of his statue in Statuary Hall at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. on May 2, 1990 restored him to his rightful place in history. He stands beside Brigham Young, as one of the two men Utah is most proud of.

Unfortunately, members of Utah’s Senate seem to be ignorant of the treasure that is Philo T. Farnsworth. For some reason, political machinations are more important to them than acknowledging that Philo was not just a noteworthy citizen of our state but one of the greatest creative minds of the 20th Century. His work impacted the world and helped shape our culture. In addition to TV, he invented the incubator that has saved millions of premature infants. He also invented infrared night vision equipment, essential for law enforcement and the military.

I believe that members of the House of Representatives will be smarter than their colleagues in the Senate. They will vote “no” on bill SCR 1. Join me in educating those who hold the honor of a brilliant man in their hands.

This Way or That? Choose a Route North

 

By Randal B. Thatcher

Jan. 25, 2018

 

Since moving to this lovely mountain valley over four years ago, I have come to realize some unavoidable facts of life and living in our Sanpete Valley:

  • Herds of sheep will sometimes be blocking the road you’re traveling.
  • Whenever driving after dark, one must be constantly vigilant for that dreaded deer in the middle of the road.
  • Trips up north to bigger cities such as Provo and Salt Lake City become a necessity.

Whatever the reason, most of us find ourselves journeying northward at least a couple times a month.

The frequency of these trips will vary by household, but I have yet to meet the family that is entirely immune from these requisite trips.

Since we all travel north from time to time and since two perfectly acceptable and nearly equidistant ways to get there exist, I am always interested to know which route people tend to prefer and why.

If you live in Moroni or Fountain Green, you will almost certainly take S.R. 132 through Nephi Canyon which connects to I-15.

If, on the other hand, you live in Fairview, you will likely just hop on U.S. 89, which connects to U.S. 6 and eventually feeds into I-15.

But if you happen to live farther south, your choice is less obvious and requires a little more forethought.

So, which way to go?

Appealing to the digital map on my computer does not provide a conclusive answer.

Spring City and Mt. Pleasant residents save only three minutes by taking the U.S. 89 route instead of Nephi.

Ephraim and Manti residents save only the same three minutes by taking the opposite route.

(This assumes, of course, that we all travel at exactly the posted speed limit and that we don’t get stuck behind Ol’ Methuselah in his ’54 Nash Rambler going a steady 45 mph!)

I have taken the opportunity of asking a number of locals from different towns which route they prefer, and their answers are telling.

Some are simply creatures of habit who have gotten used to a particular route over the years and never deviate from it.

Some are classic Type A personalities who prefer the Nephi route because it includes a stretch of 80-mph freeway where they can “really go fast.”

Some are classic Type B personalities who care less about how fast they go and who care more about enjoying the ride and the scenery along the way. These tend to prefer the more scenic route through Thistle.

Nearly everyone I talked with said they prefer that lovely route along scenic U.S. 89, provided they’re traveling during daylight hours and especially during those spectacular seasons of spring and fall. (One particular fellow who makes his living as an artist told me, “Many paintings have come from that stretch of road through Birdseye, Benny Creek and Thistle.”)

During snowy months, however, and especially after nightfall, many opt for the Nephi route, preferring to travel more of their journey along the well-plowed and well-lit I-15 corridor.

Some take the Thistle route in daylight when deer on the road are easily spotted but opt for the Nephi route after dark when they aren’t.

One woman, though she prefers the scenery along U.S. 89, avoids that same route on major holidays because, “With too much oncoming traffic, it can be scary making that left-hand turn at the junction.”

One fellow takes the Nephi route to avoid getting stuck behind a slow-moving car for many exasperating miles on U.S 89 but is willing to run that same risk during the autumn season “for the beautiful views.”

Another woman takes the Nephi route exclusively because, “It just feels safer.”

Another guy takes the U.S. 89 route exclusively because he finds it “so inspiring.” (He especially likes it in springtime when green hills in the foreground and snowy peaks in the background combine to help him imagine he’s driving through Switzerland!)

One family which makes the trip every week prefers U.S. 89 because it seems shorter but also because they “know that road very well.”

A young enterprising fellow I know will always take the Nephi route because he “gets decent cell-phone reception nearly the whole way.”

One culinary-minded fellow takes the U.S. 89 route into Spanish Fork, specifically so he can stop at his favorite Little Acorn Restaurant “for a quick bite on the way home.”

I can remember just enough from my college statistics course to conclude there’s no statistical significance whatsoever in this anecdotal straw poll of mine, but I have finally asked enough people this same question for a consensus of opinion to emerge.

Here it is: The Nephi route is considered safer (especially after dark or in snowy conditions), but the Thistle route is thought to be far more scenic during daylight hours (and particularly in autumn and springtime).

So, choose your route.

And fond wishes for safe and scenic motoring!

Comments are welcome at ahalfbubbleoffplumb@gmail.com.

Watch out for your kid’s dusting activity

By Corrie Lynn Player

Jan. 11, 2018

 

Nope, this column isn’t about monitoring your kid’s helping around the house.

It’s about a deadly fad among kids, especially those between the ages of 8 and 18, even good kids who proudly wear their “D.A.R.E.” buttons.

A couple of months ago, a man named Jeff wrote my Moms of Teens group about discovering his 15-year-old son, Kyle, dead in his basement bedroom. This son had the straw of a container of Dust Off in his mouth.

Jeff was a police officer for a city known nationwide for its crime rate and worked with a K-9 drug-sniffing dog, Thor. Thor was wounded in the line of duty and retired to live with Jeff and his family.

Jeff said he kept Thor in practice and was happy in the knowledge that drugs couldn’t be smuggled into his house. Jeff said he and his wife constantly talked to their children about the dangers of drugs and to guard against drugs.

He thought they were protected.

Kyle’s autopsy showed only Dust Off in his system—no other legal or illegal drugs.

Jeff found out from Kyle’s best friend that a boy who lived down the street from them showed Kyle how to “dust” about month before his death. Kyle told his friend, “It’s just compressed air, and it can’t hurt you and it feels great!” His friend wisely said, “No.”

Jeff did some investigating because neither he nor his wife, who’s a nurse, had ever heard about the activity.

He found out that Dust Off gives a slight high for 10 seconds and makes the user dizzy, but it’s not just “compressed air.” It contains a propellant that’s like a refrigerant used in air conditioners. It’s a heavy gas, so it fills lungs and keeps oxygen out, which is why kids feel dizzy and buzzed.

Unfortunately, users have no warning about an overdose.

It doesn’t accumulate, and users don’t have physical warning symptoms, as with street drugs or alcohol.

Also, unlike many “huffing” products, Dust Off has no odor and leaves no telltale signs, which is why Thor didn’t discover it.

It can easily kill the first time—or the second or the third or any time.

And too many kids who don’t die think they’re safe, because not much conversation has gone on about it.

One of the moms in my group replied to Jeff’s posting, “My daughter and a friend of hers used this stuff a couple of years ago. Thank goodness nothing happened to either of them. When I found out what they had done, I researched the issue and showed my daughter exactly what can happen to you by doing this. What it can do to your brain if it doesn’t kill you—the whole scenario. It was enough to scare her into reality.”

Another mother said her daughter told her that “her entire middle school was aware of it and were doing it on a frequent basis, even at school. She said she called the school which denied that kids would be able to ‘dust’ anywhere near the building.”

Even kids who know better than to “huff” fumes from markers or paint thinner can be tempted by something so prosaic as high pressure air used to clean keyboards and innards of computers.

Jeff’s closing words were, “If I would have known about this stuff earlier, then it wouldn’t have been in my house. Using Dust Off isn’t new, and some professionals do know about it. It just isn’t talked about much, except by the kids. They seem to know about it.”

This police officer asks everyone to forward this warning to everyone in their address book, even law enforcement people.

Thankfully, the makers of Dust Off have added a bitterant to it, which now makes it quite unpalatable.

Go online and read for yourself why Jeff is so inconsolable and is on such a crusade since 2005 when his son died.

If you have children or grandchildren in the later grades of elementary school or in middle or high school, talk to them about “getting high.”

Explain that dizziness and odd sensations are their brain indicating something is wrong.

And tell them Kyle’s story.

Too much is never enough –

the paradox of abundance

By Corrie Lynne Player

Mar. 8, 2018

 

Much of the U.S. economy has sputtered and stumbled for the past several years, shocking those of us who’ve been accustomed to ever-increasing real estate values and soaring stock prices.

Bailouts and entitlement programs were touted as being the solution to unemployment and foreclosures.

It’s pretty obvious to me that spending trillions of dollars and swelling government payrolls isn’t doing much to put people back to work.

Now there are riots in Europe over cutting entitlement programs.

Rioting—loudly and destructively expressing your opinion—doesn’t accomplish anything. It just makes matters worse.

As a society, we seem to be focusing on all the wrong things. We’re more and more selfish, and we never seem to have enough. There’s something seriously wrong with a perspective that insists “my way or the highway” in personal and business relationships.

In many areas of the world, luxury consists of owning a bicycle and going to bed with a full stomach. Few people in those areas own their homes and wouldn’t understand our preoccupation with home ownership.

Not so long ago, early in the 20th century, my great-grandparents owned or rented simple, small homes without indoor plumbing or electricity. They and the rest of my family were grateful for enough food, warm shelter and reliable transportation.

Today, I’ve noticed considerable whining about being forced to put up with earbuds instead of wireless personal electronics. A friend told me her teenage son threw a tantrum about not having a touch-screen cellphone that downloads movies. I’m sorry to say that her situation isn’t unusual.

There’s a disconnect here that troubles me.

Instead of being satisfied with enough, too many of us want more.

The average size of an American house has nearly doubled in the last decade. Not coincidentally, that happened as the real estate bubble swelled to the bursting point.

Ingratitude and selfishness are rampant in our society, leading to obesity in our bodies and starvation of our spirits. The more we have, the further we turn away from God, the Source of everything good.

Repeatedly in scripture I read about the rich forsaking faith and trusting in what their fingers have made, raising idols of gold and silver to take the place of God.

Sadly, turning away from God doesn’t take very long.

Laziness and ease become habitual. Ruts grow deeper, and too many of us are less and less inclined to climb out of them.

Instead, I’d like to urge you (and me) to focus on what we can learn from the very real economic problems that beset us and the rest of the world.

Columnist Armstrong Williams spoke a profound truth when he said, “As we gain perspective and reaffirm our faith, obstacles in our path start to seem less obstructive and more instructive.”

When I read Williams’ words, I pondered what my husband and I could do as we’ve faced unreliable clients who failed to come through and pay for work already accomplished.

At first, I was up in arms, wanting to file “breach of contract” against those clients.

But I soon realized that nothing gets settled in court. Only the lawyers make money.

Instead, Gary and I have tried to use the time to open ourselves to opportunities in environmental engineering, ground water research and development, etc.

While we still are pursuing investors for the commercial application of our process patents, we’re spending more time interacting with our family and friends.

We’re even stepping beyond our comfort zones to help those less fortunate.

We try to give an act of service every day. Kind of ambitious, but the definition of service can be something as simple as sending a note to an ill friend or calling someone who lives alone.

We now know just how much we have to be thankful for and give praise to our God, the Source of abundance and life.

If you’ve discovered how to be happy with what you have instead of wanting more, please email me at heavenhelpusbeourbest@gmail.com.

Reflections on Blessings and Thanksgiving

 

By Corrie Lynne Player

Heaven Help Us

Nov. 23, 2017

 

The month of November, with Thanksgiving, starts what I believe is our most important holiday season. I thoroughly enjoy reflecting with family and friends about just how blessed I am. I live in one of the most beautiful places in the greatest nation on earth, a nation founded on God-given principles of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In my numerous decades of life, I’ve learned that celebrating where I am is much more satisfying than criticizing or complaining about my circumstances. A newspaper I write for dedicated a page to giving folks an opportunity to “vent” about problems in their lives or situations they wanted to see changed. While I think it’s important to push for changes when you can, I also believe that what you emphasize the most will become what’s most important. If you complain a lot, you will be much unhappier than if you smile more than you frown.

So, frankly, I choose to celebrate living in a free nation where the course of my life is under my control, to whatever extent I want to make the effort. I’m free to figure out and pursue a profession. Nobody is going to force me to be a mechanic when I’d rather be a musician. But I also know that nobody will pay me to play the piano or French horn if I have no talent or don’t want to practice hours and hours a day. The pursuit of happiness is definitely NOT the pursuit of pleasure.

While being happy is a very pleasant state, it doesn’t come from being rich, famous, or powerful. It doesn’t come from being entertained, eating fancy food, or lounging around, either. I think happiness is a process rather than an end in itself. Looking back over my years of change, challenge, and, sometimes, disappointments, I can see that the times I’ve been happiest are those when I’ve been most concerned about other people or situations outside myself.

Gratitude is a key component of happiness. If you feel cheated, jealous, or angry, you aren’t happy. You’re only happy when you recognize God’s hand in your life.

I like this story that a reader sent me a while ago:

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none came. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. Stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger, he cried, “God! How could you do this to me?”

Early the next day, the sound of a ship approaching the island woke him.

When the rescuers waded out of the sea, he asked, “How did you know I was here?”

“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It’s easy to be discouraged when things are going wrong, but please don’t lose heart. God is at work in your life, even in the midst of your pain and suffering. Remember that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground it just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.

November is National Adoption Awareness month, so as you reflect about your own blessings, consider adding another child to your family. Just saying…

Optimism is much more comfortable than pessimism

 

By Corrie Lynne Player

Oct. 26, 2017

 

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? How you perceive the world will affect whether or not you can be happy, no matter what happens around you.

Research shows that happy people live longer, healthier lives, have more energy, and enjoy better relationships. People who are more positive in the way they approach problems have fewer accidents, drug dependency, divorces, and illnesses. Numerous studies have borne out these facts, but you don’t have to read scientific journals to realize that being happy feels a lot better than being angry, sad, or guilty.

Dr. Ellia Gourgouris, a clinical psychologist, said, Depression, sadness, and unhappiness in general deplete you of energy, like you have this leak in your system … Happiness not only plugs up that leak but begins to build up a reserve.

Happiness is a choice, not something that is bestowed on you. I’ve discovered that the best way to be happy and optimistic is to perform acts of kindness. You will not only feel happy when you do something nice, but you will spread a bit of happiness to those who witness your kindness as well as the recipients of your acts.

I’ve seen so many kindnesses, like the man who noticed that the carton of milk an elderly woman tried to put on her walker kept falling off. He not only picked it up for her, he rearranged the groceries in her basket to solve the problem.  I was behind a handicapped man who was struggling to find enough change to pay for his bread and juice; the person at the end of the line stepped forward and handed the clerk $10, then walked quickly away.

I’ve discovered a couple of sure-fire ways to lift my mood. When I am in a long line at the movies, super market, or etc., I invite the person behind me to go first. That inevitably makes me feel good or even sparks a pleasant conversation much better than shifting from foot to foot and sighing with impatience.

I’ve also told someone about a compliment I overheard and enjoyed the smiles. I, too, smiled when one of his teachers told me that my 14-year-old son had bragged to a group of friends that his mom and dad were his heroes. I remembered that warm feeling the next time that 14 year old sulked in his room or argued with his sister.

In past columns I’ve asked you to share your ideas for spreading happiness. I’ve collected several. One woman sent an email saying that she enjoys slipping a gas card into someone’s shopping bag especially when she can do so without being noticed. Another reader said that she writes a note to the manager of the restaurant or retail store where she’s received good service.

Several of you mentioned your appreciation when your neighbor took your trash to the curb or mowed your lawn. I have a neighbor who has done this for me several times. And I can’t count how many times somebody has plowed my driveway or shoveled my walks.

Kindness can be spontaneous or planned. Just thinking about it can lift your mood and turn a gray day to sunshine. As the days grow shorter and winter begins, let’s all do our best to view our surroundings, especially our loved ones, with rose-colored glasses.

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

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Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

Optimism is more comfortable than pessimism

 

Corrie Lynne Player

Columnist

10-20-2016

 

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? How you perceive the world will affect whether or not you can be happy no matter what happens around you.
Research shows that happy people live longer, healthier lives, have more energy, and enjoy better relationships. People who are more positive in the way they approach problems have fewer accidents, less drug dependency, and fewer divorces, and illnesses.
Numerous studies have bourne out these facts, but you don’t have to read scientific journals to realize that being happy feels a lot better than being angry, sad, or guilty.
Dr. Ellia Gourgouris, a clinical psychologist, said, “Depression, sadness, and unhappiness in general deplete you of energy, like you have this leak in your system…. Happiness not only plugs up that leak but begins to build up a reserve.”
Happiness is a choice, not something that is bestowed on you. I’ve discovered that the best way to be happy and optimistic is to perform acts of kindness. You will not only feel happy when you do something nice, but you will spread a bit of happiness to those who witness your
kindness, as well as to the recipient of your acts.
I’ve seen so many kindnesses, like the man who noticed that the carton of milk an elderly woman tried to put on her walker kept falling off. He not only picked it up for her, he rearranged the groceries in her basket to solve the problem.
I was behind a handicapped man who was struggling to find enough change to pay for his bread and juice; the person at the end of the line stepped forward and handed the clerk $10, then walked quickly away.
I’ve discovered a couple of sure-fire ways to lift my mood. When I’m in a long line at the movies, super market, or etc, I invite the person behind me to go first. That inevitably makes me feel good or even sparks a pleasant conversation—and it’s much better than shifting from foot to foot and sighing with impatience.
Sometimes I’ve told someone about a compliment I overheard about them, and enjoyed the smiles. I, too, smiled when one of his teachers told me that my 14-year-old son had bragged to a group of friends that his mom and dad were his heroes. I remembered that warm feeling the next time that 14-year-old sulked in his room or argued with his sister.
In past columns, I’ve asked you to share your ideas for spreading happiness. I’ve collected several. One woman sent an email saying that she enjoys slipping a gas card into someone’s shopping bag, especially when she can do so without being noticed.
Another reader said that she writes a note to the manager of the restaurant or retail store where she’s received good service.
Several of you mentioned your appreciation when your neighbor took your trash to the curb or mowed your lawn. I have a neighbor who’s done this for me several times. And I can’t count how many times somebody has plowed my driveway or shoveled my walks.
Kindness can be spontaneous or planned. Just thinking about it can lift your mood and turn a gray day to sunshine.

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

 

My Life Has Been Blessed

 

Corrie Lynne Player

Columnist

9-15-2016

 

As the oldest of five, I had the perfect childhood for somebody who wanted to be a writer—a homestead at Kenny Lake, in the wilderness of Alaska.

My parents and the crew daddy had flown with during WWII planned to form a modern wagon train to traverse the Alcan highway that opened to civilian traffic in May 1947. But when the time came to head north, they went alone, because everybody else chickened out.

Our one room log cabin had a sod roof and dirt floor. It was heated by a stove that daddy made from a 50-gallon steel drum. Daddy built most of our furniture, as well as the cabin, salvaging windows and metal from the burned ruins of a roadhouse and logs from a barn that was built at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Mama scrubbed our clothes on a wash board and baked bread every day. Our refrigerator was a pit dug into the permafrost outside the back door, with an insulated lid. During the winter, we hung meat in a three-sided garage. We lived pretty much as people did in the early 19th century—except we had a jeep.

 

The cabin was eventually converted into a sturdy three bedroom log house, encircled by barley fields and live stock. Kenny Lake became a thriving community. Daddy donated land and materials for the first school house—one room for 12 students in eight grades. He taught the first year (because the teacher sent by the state of Alaska took one look at the living conditions and quit) and was the unofficial mayor.

We moved to Anchorage just before I started high school. Daddy, who had flown B-17s during WWII, joined the Alaska Air National Guard and invested in real estate and construction. He was killed in a plane crash just after my 13th birthday, so Mama worked at the Guard as a clerk to support us.

My Alaskan background (and junior college grades) helped me transfer to Stanford University where I met my eternal sweetheart, Gary. He wanted to live on a mountain in Alaska and I yearned for the big city. We compromised on the suburbs in Anchorage where seven of our nine children were born.

Deciding where we lived was a minor decision compared to just what kind of family we wanted to build. We decided early on that we wanted to follow my parents example of serving and caring for others, especially disadvantaged children.

We adopted three of our nine children through the foster care system in two states, and we ran a special needs foster home for more than three decades. While we don’t actively take in children anymore, we continue to support foster/adopt families on a state, regional and national level through membership in the National Foster Parents Association (NFPA).

The mantra of our marriage is “better together than separately.” We’ve been business partners for 30 of our more than 50 years together. He’s the scientist and I’m the CEO—an arrangement that suits us both.

When people learn about our nine children and 42 grandchildren, they often exclaim, “God bless you!” and we agree, “He certainly has.”

 

I’m trying hard to focus on things that matter most and rely more completely on Heavenly Father. He knows what I need and what’s best for me. I’ve learned that being upset about situations, no matter how difficult, accomplishes absolutely nothing. While I can’t control events around me, I can manage my own emotions and reactions.

The title of my column, Heaven Help Us, summarizes my basic philosophy of life—a philosophy I encourage everyone to share.

Please share your blessings with me by email at: heavenhelpusdoourbest@gmail.com.

 

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

Ensuring the family pet’s well-being

 

By Corrie-Lynne Player 

Columnist

8-18-2016

 

Last time, I told you about what happened when I acquiesced to my almost grown daughter’s pleas for a dog. She insisted that she’d “always take care” of it. Her desire for a pet lasted exactly a week. I ended up feeding, watering and training the dog.
So, how do you handle getting stuck with a pet? I’m pretty sure that every kid who whines for one really thinks he knows what’s involved: the parakeet’s cage will be cleaned, the goldfish’s water changed and the bowl shined, the hamster’s wood shavings replaced, the litter box emptied, etc.
I’m also sure that most parents end up being the ones who clean cages, change water, replace wood-shavings and empty litter boxes. They’re also the ones who end up filling food dishes, ensuring sufficient exercise and making vet appointments.
So, discuss why your family wants this particular pet. Watching fish swim is relaxing, hamsters are soft and cute, cats don’t need to be walked, dogs are good protectors and so on. Then have your kids decide whether they want the pet enough to put up with the messes and the hassles. If everybody agrees on the need for a particular pet and his or her responsibility to share its care, make a chart that reflects what needs to be done and tracks who should do it.
Post the chart and remind your children to read it if you have to. Reminding was always the hardest part for me. I could define tasks and draw up charts, but once I taped them to the refrigerator door, nobody looked at what I’d written. And I was easily distracted, so I didn’t follow up enough.
But in order for pet care to teach accountability, you have to follow up and figure out consequences for “forgetting” to feed or walk the dog or clean out the cat’s litter box. Draw parallels between your child’s life and the animal’s.
A friend of mine “forgot” to give her thirteen-year old son dinner one night when the kid continually left his dog without food. She says he got the point.
There are so many virtual pets and animated toys that I think people tend to forget that real, living animals are a big responsibility. Some pets are pretty easy but they’ll die if deprived of minimal care.
Freshwater fish in a balanced aquarium don’t take a lot of time but still need to be fed appropriately. Turtles and snakes are in the same category. Mammals such as hamsters, guinea pigs and mice need more attention and qualify as “pets” because they generally like to be touched.
Next up the scale are cats. While cats tend to be attached to places more than people, they still need stroking and feeding.
Dogs, in my opinion, are the top of the “house pet” category. Pack animals, they require grooming, training and feeding. They can’t be fenced in the backyard and ignored. I believe nobody should have a dog it they don’t want to spend the necessary significant time to socialize the animal into the family. Dogs need a boss, the leader of the pack, someone who’s in charge and responsible.
Whatever pet you decide would fit your family, don’t forget that, as the parent, you are the one who’s in charge. Be sure you’re willing to feed and care for the goldfish, turtle, cat or dog. If you can’t or don’t want the responsibility, stand firm and don’t be talked into anything. Or come up with a suitable consequence that doesn’t involve bodily harm for an innocent creature.

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

Columnist Corrie Lynne Player

 

Heaven Help Us
Tips for Building lasting love

 

Corrie Lynne Player

Columnist

3-2-2017

 

 

 

It’s traditional to talk about love and relationships during the month of February. Store aisles are filled with red teddy bears, dancing hearts and candy kisses. Retailers hope you’ll splurge on your sweetheart, and they spare no effort in convincing you to remember parents, grandparents, children and friends.

Florists and candy makers tell me that they typically earn 25 to 40 percent of their yearly income during February. I actually enjoy looking at all the cutesy things on the shelves and, if I can afford them, I buy valentine cards for my children and grandchildren—and my husband. I think it’s fun to say “I love you” with a card, candy, or flowers.

I like to be remembered, too, which is a main reason I advocate celebrating this non-holiday—as long as you show love through word and deed the other 364 days a year. So, let’s consider some things to help you demonstrate affection and love for your spouse.

While digging through my “inspiration” files, I found this following bit of advice.“To keep your marriage cup brimming with love, whenever you’re wrong, admit it; whenever you’re right, shut up!”

In that same file, I found some interesting information about whether or not a marriage is based on selfishness. My notes indicated that during the depression of the 1930’s, the divorce rate, which had been climbing in the Roaring Twenties, dropped dramatically.

A marriage relationship requires that both members give up some personal freedoms. Most of all, it requires responding to the challenges of marriage through positive communication. Couples can experience poverty, illness and death of a child, and still remain together if they’re committed to their marriage and serve one another unselfishly.

I’ve said in this column before that positive actions and words reap great benefits while negativity and criticism don’t accomplish much. I’ve also asked you to share how you show your love for your spouse and how your spouse shows love for you. And a whole bunch of you did!

Amber wrote, “I’m afraid I’m the big ‘taker’ in our relationship. You name it, he does it. If he sees dinner isn’t started, he’ll jump in and do it. First thing he does when he comes home is straighten anything that’s out of place, and he never says a word.”

Jessica wrote, “He’s very supportive of me being back at school. He stays home with the kids and does all the work while I am at my classes. I can talk to him about anything. When I’m stressed out, he gives me complete body rubs, and if I am upset, he’ll just hold me. It seems like such a small thing, but I feel so safe and secure in his arms.”

Another reader who didn’t sign her name said, “My one pet peeve in life is DISHES; they NEVER get done. …you wash them and there’s another pile to do. My husband knows this, and every day (well almost every day) before he goes to work he does the dishes! It takes one thing off my plate in the day, and when I wake up to a clean sink (he gets up at like 5 a.m.), it always makes me smile and reminds me that he loves me!”

Let’s all concentrate this month, and the rest of the year, on demonstrating our love for our spouses: hugs, doing the dishes, picking up scattered toys and starting dinner. And a red fuzzy heart, a rose, or a box of chocolates is okay, too.