Category Archives: Wonder Works Studio

Keep Getting Up

Keep getting up…..2020 is over, and for that I am grateful. The hope and anticipation that 2021 would be better seems tenuous at best. If how this year has started is any indication of how the year will be, I’m concerned.

My late wife’s Toni’s words, “disappointment is OK, and we are still happy” rings in my ears. What are my choices? Check out now? Well that’s not really an option. All there really is to do, is get up, and keep walking. It is one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned in life. No matter what, keep going. Some times it’s harder than other times, but I simply point my finger and say that’s where I’m going. 

I heard a quote that went something like this “the sin isn’t in falling down, it’s in not getting back up.” The interesting thing is that every time I get back up I am stronger because of it.

The other thing about the past year is that for all of the “bad” things that happened, it seems that everyone has created a deeper community than they had before. I bet a year ago if I said the word zoom, you would’ve thought about the function of a camera lens, or the noise a  car made driving by, but now that word is ubiquitous.

I come from a family of seven, two parents and five boys. It was always my mother that would bring us together at least once a year, after my father passed away. And I admit, if it wasn’t for that we probably would rarely have seen one another. How I know this is true? After my mother passed away in 1997 I can think of maybe one or two times that we have all gotten together. But now since the pandemic, I meet with my brothers on zoom every two weeks. 

Work meetings now occur regularly online rather than in person. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are now all done on zoom. Church services, rotary meetings, and most community meetings are now done via zoom. Zooms popularity went from 10 million meetings per month in 2019 to 300,000,000 per month in 2020.

All of us have been knocked down this past year, yet we continue to keep getting back up. And we also have a deepened or expanded our communities. I know I’m talking to more people than I had before. I’m writing more cards than I did before. 

So, although 2021 at first appears to be just more of the same, looking from a different angle, it looks promising. I’ll continue to get stronger by continuing to get back up, and my sense of community will also continue to grow.

Keep getting up!

~Steve

In The Face Of Disappointment

The new year has started and unfortunately it’s not the most positive news we all had wanted. But, it is what we have.

This is actually an amazing opportunity to focus on what we want and what we intend for the new year, in the face of disappointment. Disappointment is a funny thing. It often marks the end of some thing. When things don’t turn out the way we want, we will often give up.

Truthfully, it’s often how we handle relationships or friendships. When disappointed, we often say goodbye, or if we don’t say goodbye, we create distance.

If you think about it, disappointment surrounds us. It’s only a matter of time before we are disappointed again. We go shopping for some thing and it’s out of stock. We order a coffee and it’s not exactly how we wanted it. We stopped behind a car and a stoplight and when it turns green they’re not paying attention and you have to hit your horn. Too many of these in one day can ruin our day, but only if we let it…. And we don’t have to. Disappointment is only temporary it is never permanent. My wife wrote what she called a mind treatment that is very good to read in these type of times. I’ll include it here:

 

THE LITANY OF DISAPPOINTMENT

 

  •      everything, person and situation is a disappointment.                     

            it’s a matter of time eventually.

            disappointment is okay and i am still happy…

 

  •      disappointment is innate in all experiences.

            the greater determination the more disappointment.

            disappointment is okay and i am still happy…

 

  •      to see there is nothing that i really “need” makes attractive

            the possibility of detachment, otherwise,

            detachment would be a terrible punishment.

 

  •      disappointment is okay and i am still happy…

            can i be happy in the face of such great disappointment?

            yes i can.

 

  •      disappointment is okay and i am still happy…

           to the reactionary egoic mind, there is only disappointment.

            i can determine life is about being happy

            in the middle of all circumstances,

            even disappointment which is innate in life.

 

  •      it is possible to be prosperous, have goals, intentions and

            continue happily in the face of all disappointments.

 

  •      disappointment is okay and i am still happy…

            yes, everything changes and it’s perfect.

 

  •      disappointment is okay and i am still happy…

           i am fully engaged in all that life offers…

 

  •      disappointment is okay 

            i am still happy…and grateful

 

~Steve

Setting And Keeping New Years Resolutions

Thinking about your New Years Resolutions?

You have probably heard that New Years resolutions usually are not completed. Here are the real statistics; after a week 75% are still successful, after two weeks the number drops to 71%, after a month 64% and after six months only 46% of the people who make resolutions are still successful in keeping them. So the truth is you have less than a 50% chance to keep your resolution.

You may be interested in why this happens. Again, the statistics are helpful, 35% made unrealistic goals, 33% did not keep track of their goals, 23% forgot about them and 10% made too many.

The most common resolutions are to lose weight, eat healthier, and exercise more. I have made each of these multiple times myself over the years. Guilty as charged.

Jim Rohn was well known for his commitment and encouragement to setting goals. You can read some of his tips here – https://www.jimrohn.com/4-tips-for-setting-powerful-goals/. His general position is that you need to sit down and really consider the goals you wish to set. Because they need to be important for you to stay with them. His acronym for goal setting is they need to be SMART

Specific – ambiguous goals produce ambiguous results

Measurable – ie. Lose weight vs. lose 10 lbs.

Attainable – forget good intentions, is it something you can do

Realistic – is it something you can reasonably make real

Time – by when? Will this be complete

The bottom line here is, are you making a resolution because YOU want to or because you think you should?

Either way, lets make 2021 better than 2020 because we say so!

 

~Steve

Bless This Mess

As we approach the end of 2020 it seems an appropriate time to take stock in how the year was for us and how it can shape how 2021 will be.

I have been reading a book by Pierre Pradervand called The Gentle Art Of Blessing, a simple practice that will transform you and your world. It is a wonderfully written call to bless everything and everyone in our world. Even those people and events that we think are troublesome. 

His premise is actually quite simple. We can’t judge and bless at the same time. If someone cuts us off in traffic, rather than think badly or even cursing at them, we can bless them. 

“To bless means to wish, unconditionally, from the deepest chamber of your heart, unrestricted good for others and events.” It is another way of taking ourselves on to become who we truly wish to be, that is, someone who is kind and generous. I believe deep down that all people wish to be kind but fall victim to society’s conditioning. Said another way, we should be giving what we wish to be receiving. 

“When something goes completely askew in your day, when some unexpected event upsets your plans – and upsets you – burst into blessing. For life is teaching you a lesson, and the very event you believe to be unwanted, you yourself called fourth, so as to learn the lesson you might balk against were you not to bless it. Trials are blessings in disguise, and a host of angels follow in their path.”

So as we review the year we have just been through, let’s think about our trials as blessings in disguise. Let’s bless people and events, if for no other reason than to replace our judgment of them.

~Steve

Am I Committed To Doing It My Way?

Am I committed to only doing it “my way”?…..Years ago in another life I was a general manager of a restaurant in southern Maine. I often joke that that’s how I learned to cook. When one of the chefs didn’t come to work I stepped in and took his place for the night. I described that experience as teaching me to be a line cook but not a chef. I also say what it taught me was be how to cook it from a recipe.

Tonight, I found it a rude awakening that that’s actually not true.

A few days ago good friend gifted me a blue apron meal. I was excited to give it a try. I said to myself that it should be easy because all I have to do is follow the recipe. In the end the meal worked out and it was quite delicious but what I noticed was I approached the recipe in the mindset of ‘I already know how this is going to go’. I started by quickly reading over the ingredients and the general  flow of how things were to be cooked. But that’s about the extent I followed the recipe. I would go back and refer to it, but I certainly did not follow it.

There were ingredients for a sauce to be poured over turkey meatballs as a glaze. But what I did was I add it to all of the vegetables that were to be stir fried. I said before that it was delicious and that’s still true, but I saw that I was arrogance in not the following the actual recipe step-by-step.

The reason this is an important observations from me is, I have to ask myself where else do I think I already know and stop listening or stop reading because of it.? Holding an attitude like this is actually far more dangerous than not knowing anything at all. I wonder how many other people do just what I do… I’m quite sure it’s quite a few.

I didn’t think I was like that and I’m sure anyone else acting the same probably does either. For instance at work do we actually listen to instructions or do we tune them out thinking we already know how perform the task. Are we able to surrender to someone else’s instructions. Do we do this sort of thing in our relationships? How strong is our desire to be right?

For me, I am grateful for this insight.

~Steve

Darkness Is Only A Covering

“Darkness is only a covering of the light within.

Return to the point before the darkness was created.

You have the power.” – Toni Stone

This quote reminds me that often around Christmas, when many people are happy and joyous, there are others that are unhappy and stressed filled. Many times I too have been stress filled at this time. Thanking that I didn’t I have enough money for Christmas gifts, or I’m not going to be alone, or I don’t really feel like doing all of the cooking and celebrating this season. Some people are sad because they aren’t going to be with the ones they love.

I recognize a lurking internal voice telling me this is going to be a hard holiday, but I quietly ask that voice to go take a nap. Then start to work on making this a wonderful holiday. 

This quote reminds me that the light is not gone… I have just allowed it to be covered over. It is still within and I have the power to clear everything out of the way so it can shine.

All the times I’ve allowed circumstances to determine how I feel until I realize circumstances have nothing to do with how I feel. I am the only one that determines how I feel and I can feel however I like whenever I like. I can gather up all of those circumstances and lock them in the storage unit for another time. It’s entirely up to me. 

This is not to say that the circumstances can be ignored because bills still need to be paid and phone calls still need to be done, and work still needs to be completed, but I am the one in charge of how I feel when I am doing all of that. 

There are many people in the world who have far less than us and have harder circumstances than us, but are happy just the same.

We have the power. It’s up to us.

Here’s to the most wonderful holiday ever!

~Steve

Pay Close Attention

Pay close attention…

Have you ever thought of someone only to have them call you out of the blue? 

Have you ever wanted to see a signal or sign that someone is okay?

I believe that there are signals and signs being presented to us all the time and we are so busy that we don’t see them.

I can’t offer an explanation for such things, only that I have seen them so many times it is far beyond coincidence. 

For instance, when my mother died in 1997, I was anxious to be certain that she was doing okay. I told my wife, Toni, that I wanted to see a sign. She would point out when a cardinal came to our window or a red tailed hawk circling above the house, both of which were signs to her that my mother was okay, I told her I wanted a clear and definite sign. Well, the next day we were driving to Boston and Toni was reading an art magazine. I looked over and saw an advertisement one of the pages that was written in another language. In bold letters. one of the lines read SUH SE-OK. I’m sure that means nothing to you and Toni certainly see it, but my mother’s first name was Sue but she went by Susie. There was my sign clear as could be.

Sometimes when I’m working on project nothing seems to be coming together. Every time I try something it doesn’t work. Rather than forcing the situation I’ll stop to think about it and ask myself is there a reason this is being so difficult? Because it really shouldn’t be. Sometimes I’ll get an answer sometimes I won’t. The thing is, I have become more conscious of my surroundings and actions I take.

After Toni passed away three months ago I was feeling nervous and anxious about how I was going to make everything work on my own. I went to drive her car because it is been sitting in the garage for a little while. When I closed the door and looked up, there was a sticker that read ‘I love you’ and just below that was another one that said ‘things work out’. Immediately I was put at ease buy the messages. 

My purpose for writing this is to hopefully encourage you to live your life more consciously with the myriad of things you’re surrounded by. Look and listen more often and I’ll bet you’ll get answers that will help you too.

~Steve

For Those Who Have Passed On

Grateful for those who have passed on…..

I work from home so only go out to do errands and food shopping these days. 

I am on the phone much of the time talking to people here in Vermont and around the United States. Unfortunately the common denominator that keeps surfacing is that we all know someone who has past on this past year. 

Even though many of them are not Covid related, it does seem to be a time of transition. Hopefully, you have not had a family member or someone close to you pass away this past year.

 

I’ve mentioned here before that my wife of 25 years past away  at the end of August. She was an avid writer and had written over 40 books of affirmations and intentions for every imaginable situation.

I am including one here that she wrote that is appropriate for anyone who has lost someone close to them. It is a simple blessing and provides a sweet remembrance especially for these current times. My hope is that it creates peace and solace for you.

For Those Who Have Gone Before… by Toni Stone

you are loved and thought well of…
we have plenty of high intention for you.

you are remembered in gratitude
for all the good you have sourced. we are thankful.
you are enfolded in light and wisdom.
you are embraced, appreciated, still included here.

WISDOM cuts through delusions.
miseries and regrets are quickly dispelled.
light dispels darkness.

peace, satisfaction, and happiness are yours now.
spiritual insights are always happening.

true light strengthens all your thoughts.
you are a vibrant expression of DIVINE qualities…
open to unexpected blessings.

transformative realizations, purify negative memories.

new ideas illuminate understanding.
you are an exact imprint. of wisdom and renewal.

we are grateful and thankful to have known you.

the light of your goodness guides you.

you know the eternal LIGHT is with you.

you are blessed with wonderful love now.

you have ever present help.
only good is unfolding.

~Steve

Season Of Gratitude

Season of gratitude….

With Thanksgiving right around the corner I am especially aware of how important it is to be grateful. Not merely as a concept, but more as an experience that can bring you to tears.

It has taken me the better part of my adult life to fully experience gratitude in my body. One of the turning points for me was reading a book called Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer by Brother David Steindl-Rast. He has a wonderful video on YouTube where he described why we should be profoundly grateful to simply wake up in the morning. I encourage you to view it here https://youtu.be/3Zl9puhwiyw.

The bottom line is what Brother David expresses is everything in this world has been given to us. The air that we breathe, the water that we drink, our bodies that’s simply work. I used to take all of these things for granted. The idea that I could just go into the kitchen and turn on the faucet and have clean, potable water to drink. Both hot and cold running water when so much of the world doesn’t have it. That is amazing. Really.

This was also my wife’s favorite time of the year. She assigned all of her clients and students to write 1000 gratitudes before Thanksgiving day. I never once heard anyone say ” yay I can’t wait!” The reaction was more commonly a groan or a grunt. It always became an exercise in overcoming ourselves, but in the long run was a glorious exercise. And showed us how there are so many things in our lives day to day, to be grateful for. The people and things that we interact with every day make our lives wonderful, and we can stop and acknowledge that. 

Of course there are some things in our lives we cannot be grateful for, that we wish would never have happened,  or would never happen again, but that’s not what this exercise is about. Trust me, you can always return to that way of thinking anytime you choose, but for today, for now join me in thinking about all of the wonderful things, and all the wonderful people in our lives. Because we can.

~Steve

What Is Your Commitment?

What is your commitment?….

I read an article  yesterday about a man in India who spent thirty years hand digging an irrigation canal to bring water to his village. The whole time  the villagers made fun of him and called him crazy. They would watch him from a distance and teased him while he dug the 4 foot wide and 3 foot deep canal so they would have water and not have to travel long distances to water their cattle and irrigate their land.

Mind you, for 30 years he dedicated his life to the betterment of his village and what he got for it was ridicule and scorn. Yet now that the project is done they call him a hero and He, now 70 years old, is happy to be thought of that way.

I am embarrassed to admit that I know I don’t have the amount of fortitude and determination that could stand up to such ridicule from my family and members of my community while I worked on their behalf. 

This story will live with me for the rest of my life having me question what I’m dedicated to and what am I willing to put at stake, what is my commitment. 

Here is a link do the article and a short video that I hope will inspire you two years of contemplation yourself. 

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/indian-man-digs-3km-canal/

The author of Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes wrote: 

“When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? 

Perhaps to be too practical may be madness. 

To surrender dreams, this may be madness… 

Maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.

-Steve