Category Archives: Wonder Works Studio

Make A Difference

I believe that we all want to make a difference. For some it’s having children that will help advance their lineage, for others it’s becoming well known in someway. I think we all want to look back at our lives and know that they were well lived. 

Trust me, you probably already have made a difference, but just don’t know it yet. You have helped out a friend in some way or said some thing that they will remember for the rest of their lives. I remember a number of years ago when a friend of mine told me that his life view changed one day when I captured a large spider that frightened my wife and took it outside to free it. I said it just wasn’t OK with me to kill something because it frighten me. He said that he no longer kills them either and helps him outside also. I remembered feeling happy to know that I have saved a number of innocent insects lives. Silly as that seems, it illustrates that we never know how, what we say or do will affect someone else.

One of my favorite authors is Jim Rohn. He has taught so many people how to live better lives through his inspirational stories. Even though he died in 2007 his website is still active and people, on his behalf, continue to generate regular content from his vast reserve of writings over many years. His teachings continue making a difference 12 years after his death. 

I was talking with a friend today and it was brought home for me that there really are many people who have incorporated my wife’s teachings into the work they do, keeping her work alive also. There are so many people who have been moved and re-structured by Toni, who honor her by sharing what she taught them. In the Jim Rohn fashion, I have continued sending a weekly letter she used to send to her clients. I want to make sure I do what I can to keep her messages alive just like Jim Rohn’s people have done.

Every day we have the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life, so let’s do it.

~Steve

People Are Good

I read an article today about a book calledHumankind; A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman.’ He says “by daring to be so radical as to believe that people are good, you not only start feeling better, but your every day life will improve.

He says “one of the rules to live by that I came up with for myself was, when in doubt, always assume the best in other people. Statistically, you’ll be right most of the time.

Following politics, as I do, it is very easy to fall into the feeling that there really are a lot of bad people out there that don’t care about anyone but themselves. It’s easy to generalize that the reason the pandemic is still so bad is that people don’t care about other people. But, if I’m honest about it, it really is amazing how much people have rearranged their lives and behaviors to do their part of getting past the pandemic. The great majority of people do you wear masks and are careful about keeping a safe distance. It’s just that the ones who dont, stand out in the crowd. But, they are out numbered by thousands who do the right thing.

Whats in it for me to think that most people are bad? Not only is it inaccurate, but it keeps me looking for bad behavior. Whereas if think that most people are good, I continue looking for evidence to prove thats right. Bengman says behaviorgood or badis contagious. And do you really want to live your whole life in distrust? Thats irrational. That price is just too high to pay, and its really not good for you.

There is only one person who determines which perspective to choose……me.

~Steve

Spring Is Here

It’s spring…Easter is here. My wife Toni wrote an essay in 1998 about how the day after Christmas is usually filled with disappointment and dissatisfaction and that the day after Easter it’s always filled with eager anticipation. She loved the holidays and these two were her favorites. After Christmas there are still two full months of hard winter. While after Easter the crocuses are usually coming up and then tulips breaking the ground and the grass is starting to turn green helping to create the feeling that we made it through another winter.

When I read that essay recently I realized that I never really had given it much thought before, but it really is true. There’s a great build up and anticipation before Christmas with all the work getting ready and cleaning up after, but then all that’s left is to get ready for the harsh bitter cold. There’s always the feeling of hunkering down and bundling up. Whereas now in the early spring there is a feeling of wanting to get out and breathe the fresh air, happy for the days that we can go outside without a coat.

I was taking pictures of the first crocuses just yesterday. Tulips and daylilies are breaking through the ground. Their deep green color lettting us know, that they know, the worst is over. The birds are starting to come back to the bird feeders. I even heard that a bear was sighted in town. Which means that even they have come out of hibernation.

So, Happy Easter, Happy Spring. Enjoy all the new growth, new flowers and new beginnings that come this time of year.

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over

It’s not over till it’s over…

The dearest and most wonderful woman I’ve ever met was Audrey McGuinness.

The whole time I knew her she was a unity minister. Growing up she had a very hard life .if anyone had a reason to be disappointing and bitter, she would be one. Except that I have never met anyone who was able to be happy and joyful in any and every circumstance like her. Even in her early 80’s she was driving and would go anywhere at any time. She loved being your free spirit. So when it came to the point when she had to give up driving because of her diminishing eyesight, I was afraid that would be the time I saw her depressed, but no, she treated it like a new and exciting chapter in her life. She felt it was wonderful to ride the bus and meet new people. 

Audrey always was able to find the joy in life and share it.

Today I read an article about a Patch Adams, a doctor who’s mission in life is to bring laughter and enjoyment into the hospital environment. You might’ve heard about him because a movie was made about him and his signature move, wearing a clown nose while seeing patients. 

He recently had his left leg amputated below the knee. He talked about how he loves his amputated leg. He says he now has a new nickname, Stump. 

He’s thrilled to be getting a prosthetic. A friend made him a cover for his leg in the shape of a shark and when he puts it on, it looks like his leg is in the shark’s mouth. At 75 years old, he’s delighted at the prospect of having new material about his leg to cheer people up in the hospital.

Reading about him, I was moved in the heart, the same way I was with Audrey. They both have the ability to find joy in everything and not be depressed by anything.

Now, when I have the urge to feel sorry for myself, I can just remind myself of Patch and Audrey, and ask myself, “what would they say?”

~Steve

Regain Your Childhood

Regain your childhood.
Jim Rohn wrote an article about things that we can learn from children. As we grow older we become more serious and practical. For the most part that’s a good thing, but one of the things we have lost in the process is our ability to be curious, like a child.
I remember growing up being very curious. I wanted to know how things worked, how to build things, and most importantly I was very curious about nature and animals. I loved being outside and didn’t care whether it was raining or hot or cold. I loved watching the squirrels around the yard collecting acorns and eating them or taking them off to store for the winter. I love seeing hawks circling in the sky and discovering fish in the pond.
My curiosity came alive again living in Vermont surrounded by woods. And most recently while my wife was confined to bed. I hung some bird feeders outside the bedroom window. We were amazed at the traffic outside the window. There were about 15 varieties of birds, raccoons, chipmunks, groundhogs, squirrels, and even a black bear. We cataloged all the birds that came year round. We began to see patterns and behaviors we hadn’t seen before. We watched the Blue Jays bully everyone around the feeders and the chickadees waiting their turn or at least waiting to approach the feeder when no one else was around. They’re always very quick to grab their seed then fly off. We delighted in watching the chipmunks go from collecting seeds in their cheeks for the winter, to romping around and chasing each other all around at breakneck speed
If you think about it , wonder and curiosity actually feed us but, unfortunately, as we grow into adulthood, they are the first things to get cast aside. We say we don’t have time or that it’s a waste of time to spend wondering when there’s work to do.
My opinion is that curiosity and wonder are a form of meditation. Our bodies naturally slow down and our imagination increases. We exercise different parts of our brain and if you think about it that’s how all problems get solved… By wondering and being curious. By thinking differently. If you think about it, taking time out to wonder, could make you more productive or effective.
~Steve

Day Sign

It was in Sig Lonegren’s geomancy course that I first heard the term ‘day sign’. It refers to the things that happen out of the ordinary which provide a warning, an insight or an opportunity to pay attention to our surroundings more closely. It could be a cardinal that shows up at your window, or a hawk circling above you, or a dime on the floor, or finding a dollar in your coat pocket, or a close call in your car. Normally people don’t pay attention to such things they just think they are coincidences or aggravations. And truthfully they could be nothing, but my experience over the years has proven that when I pay attention to them, I usually see something I wouldn’t have seen, or learn something I wouldn’t have learned. 

Just the other morning I was driving down my driveway and was about to enter on to the road, I looked both ways and started to pull out. As I did I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and slammed on my breaks and just missed hitting a car speeding by. I could have gotten angry at the driver who was obviously speeding who almost caused an accident. But instead, what I noticed was, I had a lot on my mind and wasn’t truly paying attention. It was a wake up call that caused me to pay closer attention for the rest of the day. If I blame someone else for the incident nothing changes and more gets added to my I already cluttered mind. But, looking with a different perspective, I become more attentive and safer to be on the road.

For the last 25 years or so my wife sent a weekly mailing to her clients that included a letter of appreciation along with a number of quotes. Just this week our post office found one of those mailings that had fallen between the counter and the wall. It had been there since 2008. So rather than just throwing it out, I wanted to open it and see if there was something I needed to know before mailing it again to it’s intended recipient. Not surprisingly, here is one of the quotes. “work to be fully conscious of things that are invisible or subconscious for most people”. So I received the same message two different ways. 

I call that a day sign. 

Day signs are happening all the time all around us. We just need to be open to them and willing to find the message they are sending.

~Steve

Stop Talking To Yourself

Stop talking to yourself….

My mind, like yours, is going nonstop 24 hours a day seven days a week. That’s why meditation is so valuable and so difficult. We are always talking to ourselves about one thing or another, and a lot of those things we’re saying aren’t very helpful. Our tendency is to be quite critical of ourselves. We wouldn’t talk that way to a small child because we know it would be cruel, but that doesn’t stop us from talking to ourselves that way. When we’re not criticizing ourselves, we are imagining outcomes that we don’t want. 

In Dale Carnegie’s book How To Stop Worrying And Start Living he reminds us that 95% of the things we worry about never happen. Yet our imagination actually creates them in our mind as being true. Napoleon hill, as a well as many other self-help and metaphysical authors, say some form of ”we become what we think about all day long”. We actually bring into existence what we think about.

When I first heard of this many years ago I actually did an experiment. Whenever I couldn’t remember I would always say just that, I can’t remember. So, instead I would say to myself and out loud “I’ll think of it in just a minute”, or “it will come to me”. You know what? Almost every time I would remember. For me that was dramatic proof, so I started doing it more often in all different situations. Instead of jumping to “I can’t do it” I would say ”I can do this”. 

Simple affirmations, like my wife’s favorite “I know what to do and I do it”, has gotten many people through many hard times. When you think about it, we can think anything we want at any time. My wife had an analogy that I really like. She said “it’s like when you’re staying in a hotel and the maid comes by and knocks on the door and wants to come in, change the beds and clean the room, we can simply tell her not now and send her on her way down the hall. But instead, we let her in and make her tea and crumpets.” 

When we have thoughts that are not productive, we can simply send them down the hall and replace them with thoughts that are productive. We are the ones that are in charge.

I know that unless we master meditation, we will continue to have a mind that is constantly going. We will always be talking to ourselves, but we can stop talking to ourselves…..that way.

 

~Steve

Patience Is A Virtue

Patience…

I have spent a lot of time in my life waiting. I never really got terribly upset when I had to wait in line. It always seems to me to be a waste of time to be mad about something I have no control over. To other people though, it seemed a personal deficit that I was willing to wait and not get mad as hell that things didn’t happen in my time frame, because that’s how they would handle it. People would think that I lacked motivation and that I should care more about how things turned out. For a long time, I confess, I thought they must be right. I would ask myself am I lazy? It seemed odd.

Over time though, I have seen, looking at nature, that patience is what naturally occurs. Trees don’t cry every time they lose their leaves, more will come in the spring.  Bears take a nap for the entire winter. Are they lazy? 

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” — Lao Tzu

It’s not as though I sit cross legged on the floor just waiting. When something needs to be done I know how to make it happen and I do, but I also know not to force things. We are the culmination of a universe in motion for at least 13.7 billion years. Waiting a few more months or years can’t be the end of the world.

In nature, there are seasons. And we must abide by them also or our lives will be a greater struggle than necessary. You would someone is foolish if they went and shoveled off their garden and started planting it in February. Of course we all know that’s not the right time to plant. Spring is. Patience comes with knowledge. I just know that everything will work out if I am patient.

 

~Steve

Take Stock Of All The Good

Take stock of all the good…

I recently read an article about how to quiet our fear and unlock Joy in our lives. We are almost a year in to the pandemic, many of us are feeling raw or numb. We never thought we’d still be under the thumb of the pandemic after a year. We have all had to adjust our lives in different ways, some of us have lost family members or people close to us call, some have lost jobs and as a result we feel a little fearful about the future. 

One of the remedies offered in the article is to look and see all the simple ways others care for us. For instance, one of my brothers either calls or texts me every day, partly because he wants to check in with me to make sure I’m doing OK, but also, we simply enjoy each other’s company. Prior to the pandemic I would talk to him maybe once a month. My son-in-law is constantly calling or stopping by to help with little things around the house. I am grateful to be looked after in such ways.

Another remedy is called being generous with your life. Look for ways that you can reach out and help others. I was in Walmart last week buying cat litter. Many of the shelves were empty but the box I was looking for had one left on a shelf at eye level. Being short, I couldn’t reach it on my own, but right behind me we’re too young women with a toddler in their cart. They came over and said let us help. They picked the toddler up out of the cart and said what fun it would be to crawl on the shelves, and sent him up on the shelf to retrieve the box that I was looking to purchase. He thought it was great fun, and I was blown away by their kindness.

So even in the middle of a seemingly endless pandemic, if we are truthful and take stock of all the good around us, we will realize that there is still much to be grateful for.

 

~Steve

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