High Flight

April 30, 2007

By Janet Walgren
I think that some people lead pretty boring lives. I mean it; it’s like the pendulum in their clock tower is barely moving. Hello! Is anyone home? My life isn’t like that, not in the least. I think that the pendulum in my clock tower has knocked out all the walls… and I’m grateful for the summer breeze. 

Yesterday I took some of my grandchildren for a walk while their parents were packing a moving truck. Yes they are leaving Salt Lake City but they are not leaving me. Indeed they can not for I hold them in my heart and soul, and there they will remain forever. Sure I will miss their laughter, their gentle touch, their funny little stories, but I have my memories and I know that new memories are just a short train ride away. And now, today my youngest daughter is packing her suitcases also. She’s leaving for England for an internship – a dream delivered on faith and prayers. Right now she is sitting at her computer humming music as she is inserting photos to make a movie documenting her journey. I will miss her company terribly. But the music of her voice whether singing a song, humming a melody, or telling me a story about a book, a class, a tender feeling, or a funny antidote will drift softly through my dreams as time marches on and I watch her soar. 

A few days ago I was surfing through my photo files for Heather so that she could document this part of her journey and I found a photo of me that was taken right after I had successfully completed my private pilot’s examination. I had framed it with a copy of High Flight written by pilot John Gillespie Magee Jr. shortly before he died in war:

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

And danced the skies on Laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue

I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand and touched the face of God.

 

I scanned in the old photo and then, for the first time ever, I saw the photo close up and personal. I saw the expression on my face as I passed that awesome milestone on my own journey through life. The photo told my story…a story of triumph and laughter as I soared. Now my dear children, it is your time, your turn to soar. – Fly high, stay true to the course, but make your own memories and soar. May God bless your journey.  Click here to see Janet’s photos.

 

I love you!


Mother


The Awesome Power of Words

April 20, 2007

By Janet Walgren
I love words; I believe that they are the most powerful force in the universe. Words can be gentle, comforting, reassuring instruments of peace; words can also be hard… alarming instruments of contention. I believe words properly gifted could have prevented the
Virginia Tech tragedy had they only been spoken soon enough. Words are important in teaching correct principles and in conveying love or displeasure. It is not only the words we speak, but how we say what we say that determines the end result of our communication. Consider my story about making bread in my post on finding the cause of success:

“When I wanted to learn how to make whole wheat bread, I asked a friend to show me how. I asked her because her bread was so delicious and much lighter than the whole wheat bread that my other friends could make. I watched closely as my friend demonstrated how to make the bread, and then I tried to replicate her effort. My first loaf turned out like a brick. My friend just laughed; she told me that the water I used was too hot and so it had killed the yeast. She then painted flowers on my pitiful loaf of bread and gave it back to me to use as a door stop.”

It was important to remember that my failure was not because the water that “I”used was too hot; it was because “the water”that I used “was too hot.” 

The emphasis on “I”places blame; the emphasis on “the waterwas too hot” identifies cause. A simple sentence repeated two times with different emphasis helps the reader to understand a concept and examine their own internal communication or self-talk. As they start to realize and understand the scripts that they are telling themselves, they can analyze those scripts and free themselves of counter productive negative thoughts and unwarranted blame. This process should be taught because it  is essential in building your sense of worth. 

The same concept is just as important to understand in communicating with other people. And, always remember; people, be it friends, classmates, co-worker or family are the life blood of your personal happiness or misery. It doesn’t matter if you are communicating verbally or in print, how you say what you say counts. It could even save lives. Consider the implied message as you repeat this sentence, emphasizing the word that is bolded:

  • “I” didn’t say you did that!
  • I didn’t “say” you did that!
  • I didn’t say you did “that!”

The sentences are identical; the messages very different. It is important that you become aware of the effect that your communication has on other people. Your tone or implied meaning can make the difference in your success or failure. It can make the difference between life or death.

 I don’t know when the 23 year old  gunman, Cho Seung-Hui, died but I do know that it was most likely years before he pulled the trigger and caused the massacre of 32 students. Rather than crying out for gun control or other legislation and pointing a finger of blame, perhaps we should look at the three fingers that are pointing back at ourselves and consider what we say and how we say it because the spirit of mankind is a fragile thing.

And, we need to teach this to our children. Perhaps we should all have this quote framed and hanging on the walls of our homes and offices, in our day-planners and our cell phone cases: “If we truly understood the awesome power of words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative.” – Betty Edie. 


The Photo of Bishop James

April 19, 2007

By Janet Walgren
Every time there is a shooting at a school or in some other public place, everyone cries for solutions. Gun control is one of the favorites. Can something be done? I believe that the answer is yes; the Virginia Tech shooting is a tragedy that didn’t have to happen. But the solution is not passing another law, or implementing another social program, or adding technology for security. I believe that the only solution is a simple solution that has been in place since the beginning of time. If we identify the cause of the behavior, we can eliminate the behavior.

While I was living in New Orleans, old Bishop James taught me a powerful lesson that I will never forget. He was a master at teaching this lesson; he had taught it for many years. He visited my house one night while I was busy hanging up pictures of my children. He looked at the photos and commented on each child with great interest. He even memorized their names. Every mother likes to brag about her children so I was feeling pretty good about that time. Then suddenly Bishop James said, “Have you ever seen a picture of my son?” as he whipped his billfold out of his pocket.

I looked at the old worn photo of Bishop James exquisitely dressed in 1920’s clothing standing beside his new Model T Ford with his arm around that dumb looking kid whose picture was on the cover of Mad Magazine. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I burst out laughing and Bishop James started to cry. You know the guy on Mad Magazine? Did you know that he was for real??? No kidding, this was before the days of trick photography; it was even before the days of color photography. It was before computers or any of the wonderful graphic tools that we had now, so I new it was real.

I don’t know which was greater – my shock when I found out that Bishop James’ kid was for real and not just the figment of an artist’s imagination, or the shock that I was standing there laughing uncontrollably at this dear man’s child. I could tell that this was not the first time that he had had this experienced because huge tears were streaming down his cheeks as he sobbed uncontrollably. I desperately tried to get myself under control, but to no avail. I was so embarrassed. I tried to explain that I wasn’t laughing at his child; I just didn’t know that his child was a real person. I wanted to die! I wanted to have the earth open up and swallow me. This horrible scene went on for 15 minutes and it seemed like the clock stopped and time stood still. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life. That was 15 minutes that I never want to repeat. Ever!

Then just as suddenly as the photo appeared, it disappeared as Bishop James slammed his billfold shut and said, “Got You!” as he burst out in a fit of laughter. A NASA photographer made the photograph for him long before anyone ever knew that such things could be done…and Bishop James had enjoyed, yes even perfected the use of this prized possession as he tortured people with his joke year after year after year. It was the cruelest joke I had ever encountered. It took me years to get over it. But it changed my behavior and my life.

A decade later, I was a counselor at a girl’s camp in Michigan when I saw some girls being very mean spirited to a lone girl who didn’t quite fit in. All of a sudden the memory of Bishop James’ joke came to mind and the Holy Spirit taught me a great lesson as I talked to the girls. I told them about my experience with Bishop James and how I felt as he was pulling his cruel joke on me. Then I bore testimony to them that the day will come when each of us will be called to stand before the Lord and he will in essence say, “Have you ever seen a picture of my child?” Then we will be called to give an accounting of our thoughts, our actions, and the feelings of our heart as we see laid before us a photo of every child of God that we encountered here on earth. Will God be crying like Bishop James was? How will we feel when that moment comes?

Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the antidote to the problems of our day. It is the only answer. It isn’t enough to preach the principles. We have to live the principles. We have to love everybody. We have to have charity towards ALL of God’s children. Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan and don’t cross the hall to pass the lonely stranger. If every person felt God’s love for them and our love for them through our interactions with them, they would never get to the point that they would want to pick up a gun and do such awful deeds. The Lord has told us that charity or the pure love of Christ never fails.


Secret Anniversaries of the Heart

April 14, 2007


By Janet Walgren
I have a friend who sends me The CKN, a family newsletter. The Classical Kitten News has been in publication for about 40 years. It started as a children’s family news letter and it’s a fun and interesting read. In each issue of the CKN, there is a copy of a page that was published 25 years ago. It has been interesting to see how a child’s play, I call it “a child’s work,” contributed to the development of the adult, what they are, who they are, and what they do.

My favorite section of the newsletter  is called “Secret Anniversaries of the Heart.” The reason that it is my favorite is that it reveals the treasures of a mother’s heart as she nurtures her children and watches them grow. Every parent has secret anniversaries of the heart as their children enter their family, grow to adulthood, and finally strike out on their own. Those anniversaries are sometimes bittersweet as you rejoice in a child’s success and contemplate their imminent departure and your emptier or empty nest.

My first experience with the empty nest syndrome came in a very cruel way when my ex-husband disappeared with my two sons who were 3 and 4 1/2 years old at the time. It took me years to find them and I never got them back. This experience caused me inexpressible pain and grief, but it also caused me to become an extremely grateful, thoughtful, diligent and loving mother to the four daughters that followed. If you want to get my ire up – talk about the terrible two’s or the awful teens. I would have died for the opportunity to enjoy those years with my sons. I know that children are “a heritage from the Lord” – a gift for which I will always be eternally grateful. Because of my experience, I learned at an early age that I was the Lord’s babysitter that I didn’t own my children – they were only on loan for a short duration.

This week has been bittersweet because my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren are unexpectedly moving to another state to take a job with more than double the income, and my last daughter is leaving for an internship in England, one of her life dreams. Her greatest desire in life is to be a wife and mother, but so far the opportunity has not come so she announced last night that she will be applying for a job in a state library archive in a state far away.  This is an unexpected opportunity, she thought that she would have to get her MLS first, and the job is in her dream location, so I will pray for her success even though I am facing an imminent empty nest.

I have tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, and a very grateful heart knowing that it is a part of God’s plan for his children. It is a bittersweet time of life as I reflect on the happiness, the laughter, the joy, the music, the knowledge and the spirit of love that has filled my home and my heart these thirty-five years that I have had the privilege of holding the best job in the world, that of being a mother.


Finding the Cause of Success

April 11, 2007


 By Janet Walgren 
There is a saying, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve got.” One of the most important components in the formula for success is understanding what causes what we are getting. Aristotle taught that we never really know a thing until we know it by its cause. And, knowing something by its cause is very different than placing blame.

Sterling W. Sill wrote, “If you can find out what causes happiness, you can reproduce the cause. One of the most important reasons for failure is that we don’t take time to make a proper analysis in building up our lives or our businesses or our faith, we need to know a lot more about why things happen than we ordinarily do. And if we are going to make them happen to satisfy us, we must be able to accurately weigh the factors involved. We must have a good understanding of the reasons, the motivations, the purposes, and the causes of things,” Making the Most of Ourselves, pg.65.

Most people desire, hope, and dream of extraordinary success in some area of life, yet relatively few ever find it. Why not? It is interesting to read a cook book. If you look in the bread or pastry section, the ingredients are almost the same for every cake, pastry, or loaf of bread. So what makes the difference? The difference is in the amount of each ingredient that you use and how you put them together. If we want to make a pastry that will satisfy us, we must be able to accurately weigh the ingredients, put them together in just the right way, and bake it at just the right temperature.

When I wanted to learn how to make whole wheat bread, I asked a friend to show me how. I asked her because her bread was so delicious and much lighter than the whole wheat bread that my other friends could make. I watched closely as my friend demonstrated how to make the bread, and then I tried to replicate her effort. My first loaf turned out like a brick. My friend just laughed; she told me that the water I used was too hot and so it had killed the yeast. She then painted flowers on my pitiful loaf of bread and gave it back to me to use as a door stop.

Each time I looked at the doorstop, I laughed and remembered the cause of my failure. Note: my failure was not because the water that “I” used was too hot… it was because “the water” that I used “was too hot.” Because I had learned what caused my failure, my subsequent efforts were successful and I was able to make whole wheat bread to satisfy me and reproduce the success time after time.

The elements in my success were desire, proper ingredients, application, practice and a mentor. If it were not for my mentor, I would have continued to make bricks out of bread dough just like my other friends did. We all had the same recipe, we were all using the same ingredients, and we were all adding the ingredients in the same order. But when it came to making whole wheat bread, the hands of a master made the difference.

For those of you who don’t make bread, a better analogy might be playing the violin. The difference between the noise of a struggling pupil and the music of a master violinist such as Itzhak Perlman is either painfully or pleasantly obvious. After a student is more, even very much more accomplished, the difference between the student’s music before being mentored by a great master and after being mentored by a great master is also very obvious although not so painful.

Take time to make a proper analysis of the things that you want in life. Find out more about why things happen. If you are going to make them happen in a way that will satisfy you, you must be able to accurately weigh the factors involved. Find a mentor who has a good understanding of the reasons, the motivations, the purposes, and the causes of things wherein you want success. And, then with the desire, proper ingredients, application, and practice you will be able to reproduce your mentor’s success time after time after time.


TIME

April 9, 2007


By
Janet Walgren
If I were to list the statements that I hear from overwhelmed friends, students, and co-workers and rank them by frequency, the top statements on the list would all involve time:

– I just don’t have time.
I am overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time.
There aren’t enough hours in a day to do everything AND…
I don’t know how I am going to manage this and everything else…
I haven’t touched this for months…I just don’t have time.
With work and my family, I don’t have any time left for me.

Contrast that list with this list of comments involving time that I hear at work while interacting with my co-workers during the day:

– Can you get this for me by noon?
Please schedule this for Friday 10:00 A.M. Pacific Time.
I need you to schedule Monday, February 26th from 1:00 to 2:00 P.M. Pacific Time for your class.
Please have your management reports ready on Monday by noon so that I can review them before the meeting.
Can we schedule a conference call for 45 minutes on Monday, February 5th from 11:00 to 11:45 A.M. Pacific Time to discuss…
There will be a department meeting to discuss… at … restaurant on Friday at noon. Please confirm by Wednesday noon.

Note the difference in the communications? In family and non-work related paradigms, time seems to free flow like water running down stream. In the business world, time is purchased. It has a preset value per hour depending on the needs of the company. It is a resource that is closely guarded and tightly scheduled.

As I talk to people, it has often occurred to me that they would be so much better off, so much happier –so much more successful if they only made one change. That change involves understanding the value of their time. Time is the one resource that every individual receives an equal allotment of every single day. EVERYONE gets exactly 24 hours.

There is a saying, “Time is Money!” Businesses understand this because they have to purchase time. Just how closely the skills of an individual match the needs of a company determines the price that the company is willing to pay for the employee’s time.

As employees, we know the value of eight hours of our time, but what about the other sixteen hours of our day? How much is your time really worth? How would you feel if someone walked into your house and took some money out of your wallet and walked out your door? Would you call the police or just not say anything because it would be considered rude?

It is interesting how people allow others to steal their time because they don’t want to be considered discourteous. Do you give away your time for things of very little worth or willingly sell it for nickels and dimes? Do you budget your time as well as you budget your money?

Perhaps you would do well to make a time budget just like you make a money budget. Every day you have a time income of 24 hours. How will you spend it? You can’t save it! At the end of the day your time balance is zero, but –there is (or could be) value for what you purchased with your time. Are you satisfied with your purchase?

 -Only you can choose how you budget your time.

The difference between highly effective people and the average person is how they budget their time and what they purchase with it.


The JOB Interview

April 8, 2007

 

By Janet Walgren

I have had some interesting job interviews in my life –unique to say the least; my favorite one didn’t happen…at least the company didn’t know about it. So when two other people and I showed up for work a few days after the interview, it was as if we had walked into the office and yelled SURPRISE!!! Yes, surprise was definitely in the air. The employee that hired us had been (in some way that was kept a mystery from us) disassociated with the company and our little group of new employees was his secret parting present.

A good dose of honesty would have gone a long way at that time, but the company didn’t want to tell us what was amusingly obvious to each of us. So, with subdued giggles we sat in amazement as the management tried to subtly coax each individual to divulge their expected job description and promised pay. Needless to say, our little band of new hires experienced an orientation class that was unparalleled in the annals of corporate history. I should have told them I had been hired to replace the CEO! Fortunately (we thought) we did keep our jobs but one-by-one we each decided that it was in our best interest to seek employment elsewhere.

While this experience may seem uniquely uncommon, funny and very amusing, it reinforced my understanding that honesty and due dilligence are the keys to preventing or handling the suprises of life. Take divorce for example, why is the divorce rate so incredibly high? We hear about couples falling out of love all the time.

Perhaps we ought to ask divorcees about the JOB interview that preceded their marriage. It’s as if the young couple raced through the isles of a grocery store and picked up a can of “handsome stranger” or “pretty woman” without even bothering to read the content label on the back of the can.

While on their honeymoon, the infatuated couple has fun playing with the package while dreaming of living happily ever after. Then, they hurry home to their little love nest, race across the threshold and excitedly opened their cans of “handsome stranger” and “pretty woman,”  turned them upside down and dump them on to the plate of life only to find that they don’t like the content of the can or the meal that is set before them.

Surprised!!! Why should they be? …So they don’t like their JOB descriptions; did they ever bother to read them? Were they honest in their job interviews? So she doesn’t like cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, changing diapers, doing laundry, teaching children, bug collections, soothing a crying child, unclogging toilets, budgeting to make ends meet, and comforting a tired man when he comes home feeling downtrodden and disheartened. What’s that got to do with anything? 

So he doesn’t want to get up early and work all day just to surrender his meager paycheck to take care of a family that always needs $10 dollars more than he earns. Worse yet, his job is not over when he gets home! Now his not so “pretty woman” wants him to take out the garbage, change a diaper, hold a teething baby who is crying, and watch a Barbie movie with little Susie, mow the lawn, and then spend fifteen minutes of quality time listening to her. “No way,” he protests! But it is in the JOB description.

What did “handsome stranger” and “pretty woman” think a wife and mother, a husband and father do? Did she honestly think that he was going to wine and dine her every night over candlelight dinners that she didn’t prepare and then have stimulating conversations under the stars while the maid did the dishes? Was he really honestly expecting to be left alone to eat a gourmet meal in front of the TV while watching a football game with “pretty woman” at his beck and call to fetch drinks and rubs his smelly feet?

You see, cans of “handsome stranger” and “pretty woman” do not come with a lifetime customer satisfaction or your money back guarantee. What’s inside is very, very important. Why would you want to buy the can or even kiss it if you couldn’t love its content?

Can “handsome stranger” or “pretty woman” handle the job requirements? What was that job description anyway???  Is the content of the can capable of handling the nutritional or nurturing needs of a marriage and family? Is “handsome stranger” or “pretty woman” even interested in the job or do they only want the paycheck?

 

Discovering that my friends, is what the JOB INTERVIEW called dating is all about.