Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thanks, Mr. McCullough

Several years ago, David McCullough was the guest speaker at the Ogden School Foundation's fall author event.  The next day he spoke to the students at Ogden High School.  He gave two remarkable addresses so well articulated, steeped in interesting stories and fascinating information.  As a side note, he, like most everyone, was awed and overwhelmed at the beauty of the OHS auditorium and the historical significance of its construction during the Great Depression.  He even purchased a chair plaque for one of the seats!

He gave the following advice which I like.  He said, "Make it your practice to ask people about themselves and what they've learned from experience.  Don't ever forget that there isn't a man or woman, no matter their appearance or station in life, who doesn't know something, or how to do something that you don't."  . . . "Try not to make the mistake of equating ease or possessions with happiness.  Find that in your work if possible.  Bear in mind that hard work and joy are not mutually exclusive." (David McCullough, two time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author of "1776", Brooklyn Bridge, John Adams, etc.).

Add to that a great quote of Charles Dickens who said, "No one is useless in the world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else," and one more, "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." (D&C 18:10).

There is a cute line from the play, The Curious Savage that addresses worth and value.  Just for a little background,  Mrs. Ethel P. Savage has inherited ten million dollars from her late husband but is put in a sanitarium by her three step children.  They think she is crazy because she spent some of the money doing kind things for others in making their frivolous dreams come true.  One day Mrs. Savage is talking to Hannibal who is one of the residents of the sanitarium.  Mrs. Savage asks him:

MRS. SAVAGE. Hannibal - would you guess to look at me that I'm worth ten million dollars on the hoof?
HANNIBAL.  Never.  The human body has only twenty cents' worth of calcium in it - five cents' worth of iodine, twenty cents' worth of phosphorus, and - well - even at present high prices - nobody is worth over a dollar and a half.
MRS. SAVAGE.  So you only value me at a dollar and a half?
HANNIBAL.  Never.  You said "worth."  Your value is inestimable.
MRS. SAVAGE.  Hannibal - I like you.  I like you very much.  You make me feel important.  You make me feel like dancing.  The Curious Savage by John Patrick

I guess my point with all of this is that I value people.  I am amused, entertained, amazed,  inspired, fulfilled, educated, angered, and yes, sometimes disgusted with people, but I am constantly learning from these interactions and associations.  Yes, people enhance my life and for that I am grateful.

My great grandfather used to always end his journal entries by writing, "And I came home rejoicing."   I end with that thought in mind.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Four Things Effective Leaders Do

Effective leaders do four things:

1.  They practice conservation of time.
2.  They have an eye fixed on new developments.
3.  They build on the strength of their colleagues.
4.  They starve the problems and feed the opportunities.

This admonition reminds me of the legend of the old Cherokee woman who was talking to her granddaughter about a fight that is going on inside of herself.  The grandmother said the fight was between two wolves.

One wolf represented hate, evil, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other wolf represented good, joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The granddaughter thought for a moment and then asked, "Which wolf wins?"  The old Cherokee woman simply replied, "The one I feed."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Great Gifts of Balance

I spoke in church today about something I feel very adamant about: balance in our lives.  I decided to post my talk in my blog.

The Great Gifts of Balance

By Meg Naisbitt
Kingston Ward
January 9, 2011

            About three weeks ago, most of us were in a different mind set, with Christmas just six days away.  As is the usual tradition in my life, the first two weeks of December were filled with music rehearsals, practices, and 25 to 30 performances.  But added to this were some unexpected family events, concerts, guests in our home, Sub for Santa, and various Christmas parties.  Needless to say, something had to give way, which were my Christmas shopping and cards.  A few days before Christmas, I had a free day.  After arriving at the mall to begin my shopping, I looked around for a while and thought to myself, “No one in my family really needs a thing.  Why am I buying things just to be buying?”  I left empty handed and drove home to put some thought towards my gifts.  I decided to follow the example set by the wise men of the East and present three gifts to our children representing the symbolism of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

            Matthew 2 states that that wise men guided by a new star came to Bethlehem to worship Jesus sometime after his birth.  We don’t know who these men were, but it is certain they were not ordinary men.  Scholars believe that they may have arrived up to two years after Jesus was born.  I felt that this gives me liberty to talk about the wise men two weeks after Christmas.

            The Bible dictionary states, that, “They were able to see the star when others could not: they knew its meaning, and brought gifts to the young child . . . they were led by the Spirit, to behold the Son of God and who returned to their people to bear witness that the King Immanuel had indeed been born in the flesh.”  The gifts were symbolic of Christ’s life.  The gold was bestowed upon kings to show royalty, wealth, and value; frankincense was used as a perfume, and myrrh was commonly used as anointing or embalming oil and was worth seven times its weight in gold.  Extrapolating from that, I decided to give a gift of value or practicality for the gold, a non essential or fun gift for the frankincense and a spiritual gift representative of embalming oil used in Christ’s death and resurrection for the myrrh.

            The next time I set out to shop, I had a whole different mind set and focus.  On Christmas morning, our children had three gifts; one wrapped in gold, one wrapped in white, and one wrapped in fun Christmas paper.  For the gold gift of value, we gave our kids money for their education; for the white “spiritual” gift, we gave Paige a new set of scriptures because hers were chewed up by a dog we were tending; Chelsea some New Testament CD’s to listen to while commuting to school from Ogden to Salt Lake; and Chase a new pair of white pants and white tie to perform ordinance work because he forgot his other ones at a church after a baptism.  The fun gifts were worldly things that our kids had requested.

            The thing that I liked most about the gifts was the fact that they provided simplicity, value and balance to our Christmas – they reinforced the physical, the spiritual and the eternal.

            Balance is what I really desire to talk about today.  It is what contributes substance to our lives.  “Balance in large measure is knowing the things that can be changed, putting them in proper perspective, and recognizing the things that will not change.” James E. Faust, March Ensign, The Need for Balance in Our Lives. 

            Sometimes I feel that my life is out of balance and that I am parking sideways in a parallel universe. Let’s talk about balance.  “It is exactly in the middle.  It could be called the imaginary scales of fortune or fate.” Edward H. Southwick, Talk to 50 Year Club at SUU, Oct. 2002.  We think of it as an emblem of justice when we think in terms of law such as the scales of justice. Lady Justice is often depicted wearing a blindfold balancing the scales of truth and fairness; justice and mercy. The blindfold represents objectivity, indicating that justice is blind. 

            In the scriptures, we read in Jacob 4:10:
                        “Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.  For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works.”

            Alma asks, “Do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice?  I say unto you, Nay: not one whit, If so, God would cease to be God.”  Alma 42:25

            Balance is achieving a state of equilibrium between things.  It is not easy to achieve and must be worked on constantly.  “When life is busy, or all your energy is focused on a special project, it's all too easy to find yourself  "off balance", not paying enough attention to important areas of your life.” Wheel of Life, Internet, Jan. 6, 2011. 

            Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventies states:  “When we are out of balance, we have a choice.  We can delay making changes and experience the tragedy of a failing family or the sorrow of losing our own spirituality; or we can be attentive and continually nudged by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit to make necessary adjustments.  Seeking balance among the essential responsibilities of life is preparatory to salvation.”  Donald L. Hallstrom, Seeking a Balanced Life, Ensign, August 2003.

            In every stage of life, we need to adjust this balance.  “As one gets older things seem to change.  For example, now days I speak the truth as much as I dare and the older I get the more I dare.  And sometimes I know what I dare not speak with my husband or in groups or certain situations.  Wisdom enters in on the side of balance.”  Edward H. Southwick, id.

            Christ had many attributes that he developed during his mortal ministry.  The scriptures and Preach My Gospel enumerates eight Christ like attributes that we should develop throughout our lives.  They are:  Faith in Jesus Christ, Hope, Charity and Love, Knowledge, Patience, Humility, Diligence, and Obedience.    The Young Women Values and Personal Progress Program emphasize Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Knowledge, Choice and Accountability, Good Works, Integrity, and Virtue. The Family Proclamation to the World states, “Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities.”  These attributes, values and principles represent balance.   

            A few years ago, there was a painting at the Springville Art Show depicting an old Russian Proverb that said, “One who is serious all day will never have a good time while one who is frivolous all day will never establish a household.”   The point is; we need a balance of both!


            President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: 
                        “I want to plead with you to keep balance in your lives.  Do not become obsessed with what may be called ‘a gospel hobby.’  A good meal always includes more than one course.  You ought to have great strength in your chosen field of expertise.  But I warn you against making that your only interest. . .
            “Beware of obsession.  Beware of narrowness.  Let your interests range over many good fields while working with growing strength in the field of your own profession.”  Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 33.

            President Hinckley said that we have a fourfold responsibility – to our families, to our employers, to the Lord and to ourselves.  He counseled us to “take some time to do a little meditating, to do a little exercise.” Gordon B. Hinckley, id.

            Like you, I rejoice in the beginning of a new year.  January has been among my favorite times of the year, precisely because we can begin anew.  Reciting the words of the hymn we sang last week,
                        Come let us anew our journey pursue. 
                        Roll round with the year,
                        and never stand still
                        till the Master appear.
                        His adorable will let us gladly fulfill,
                        And our talents improve
                        By the patience of hope
                        And the labor of love,
                        By the patience of hope,
                        And the labor of love.  LDS Hymn No. 217,  Come Let Us Anew.

            We can put things into balance.  It is a time to reflect upon the past, to look towards the future and to determine the trip we are going to take, the experiences we want to have, the knowledge we want to gain, the talents we want to develop.  It’s a time for renewal.

            Goethe once said that there are nine requisites for contented living:

                HEALTH enough to make work a pleasure;

                WEALTH enough to support your needs;

                STRENGTH enough to battle with difficulties and forsake them;

                GRACE enough to confess your sins and overcome them;

                PATIENCE enough to toil until some good is accomplished;

                CHARITY enough to see some good in your neighbor;

                LOVE enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others;

                FAITH enough to make real the things of God;

                HOPE enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.”

                     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quotes (German Playwright, Poet, Novelist and Dramatist. 1749-1832)

            In my ideal world, my most balanced days occur when I am organized and get to bed at a decent hour.  That allows me to rise early in the morning, often at 5 a.m.  My alarm goes off; I say my prayers in the dark and then get up. We have a magazine rack in the bathroom.  So as I am waking up, I go to the bathroom, read an article from the Ensign, brush my teeth, put on some lip gloss, throw on my running or exercise clothes, and either drive to the gym or meet my running friends in South Ogden. On the way to and fro, I like to listen to the news on KSL with Grant and Amanda or listen to my scriptures on CD.  After exercising, I come home and get showered and dressed for the day by 7 a.m.  In prior years, I got my husband off to work and the children off to school. But now that my kids are older, I can jump right into my power hour.  This is a special time I take for myself to read the scriptures, read the newspaper, do the crossword puzzle, check my email and organize my day.  I started this routine in 1999 and it has been one of the best things I have ever done.  I changed from being a night owl, which I really love and prefer, to being a morning riser.  When I follow this routine, I feel balanced and accomplished, having completed very early what I feel are important things in my life. 
            I have posted on my mirror in the bathroom, “My Declaration,” which is readily available for me to read over and over.  It states,
            “I, Meg Naisbitt, declare my independence this day and choose to create my best life.  My focus on health, good nutrition, exercise, faith, service, integrity, knowledge and balance (to name a few) allows my inner light to burn bright.  I declare that I will seek to lift others and will seek out those who lift me.  I declare   my gratitude for life and acknowledge the joy life brings to me, starting now.” 
            In closing, I would like to bear my testimony of the Living Christ.  He lives.  He knows each of us.  He loves us.  He is our Savior.  He is our advocate with the father and gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. As we renew our covenants and partake of the sacrament each week, it is my hope and prayer that we will seek the promptings of the Spirit.  May we be receptive to balance, wisdom and understanding in our lives.
            In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Living a Balanced Life,  Robert F. Orton, Ensign, Feb. 2008
The Need for Balance in Our Lives, James E. Faust, Ensign, Mar. 2000
Seeking A Balanced Life, Donald L. Hallstrom, Ensign, Aug. 2003

The Beginning

Today marks the beginning of my blogspot, Slickypot.  To those wondering where the word slickypot originated, I'll tell you.  My grandmother, Elaine Christensen Southwick, was of Danish descent.  She played a five finger game with our hands when we were little similar to, "This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home," etc. She began with the thumb saying, 

      Slikkepott (the pointer finger that licks the bowl),
      Langemann (the longest finger),
      Gullebran( gull means gold referring to the ring finger), and
      Little bit of Spillemann or Slickypan to those of us who couldn't remember the          last word very well.  (Spillemann refers to a nursery rhyme of Peter Fiddleman).

I have always loved cookie dough, cake batter, bread dough, you get the picture. To me, unbaked dough far exceeds the cooked product -- (I know, someday the raw eggs will give me salmonella or some bad ailment) and so the Slickypot finger is big in my world. The pointer finger can also direct, indicate, or point to various points of interest.  How poignant!  Yes, I suppose Slickypot is symbolic, useful and trigger-filled (pun intended), triggering many memories of my kind, sweet Grandma, who incidentally was a fabulous poet, writer and English professor.

Thanks to some of the blog spots that I have really enjoyed.   Here's a shout out to, At a Turtle's Pace with, and  Each of these sights has brought fun, laughter, enjoyment and thought to my life.  Thanks, friends, for your insight and inspiration.