Friday, May 28, 2010

Ode to Long Weekends (aka Man, This Friday Is Dragging...)

Today's Thought:
If today (Friday) drags, it just means my holiday weekend is going to last that much longer.

The ChipperMuse Extra:
If only Friday work day hours would last about 30 minutes, 45 minutes tops. Why do they have to last the full 60 minutes? It just makes the day drag on.

This phenomenon is worse on Fridays prior to a holiday weekend. So I've decided to tell myself that the longer this Friday lasts, the better for me, because my holiday weekend will last that much longer. I'm not sure this rationalization is going to help me endure a long work day, but I can attempt.

It's amusing to me that I can't wait for the work day to end so I can start my long Memorial Day weekend. And yet in just hours, it'll be Saturday. Then it'll be Sunday. Then it'll be Monday. And by Monday afternoon, I'll be wishing the hours would just...you know...drag out. Last longer. (Kind of like they are today, on Friday, the day I want to end.)

If only those Monday hours would last at least 90 minutes long. How great would that be? Right? Am I right?

Conlcusion: The value of each minute is proportional to who owns the minute and how that minute is spent.

Unfortunately, this conclusion is cold comfort as I stare at the clock and realize it's not even noon yet. Man, this day is dragging along... slouching along, perhaps, toward Jerusalem.

I know what you're thinking: Only The ChipperMuse could work in a reference to WB Yeats as she discusses how bored she is at work. (Either that, or you're thinking, "Yeats? Jerusalem? Huh?" If so, your poor English teachers are groaning now and remembering how you never paid attention in class, you bad, bad student!)

References to Yeats...philosophical musings... That's the way my mind works, people, especially when I've got minutes to kill at the office. It's a good thing I'm not bending my creativity to anything serious, like world domination, or you'd all be in trouble. But I'm benevolent...so you end up with a Yeats quote that you may or may not recognize, together with wishes that holiday hours would last 90 minutes.

On the upside, though... It's nearly lunchtime... I think I just spent a few minutes in a way that makes me happy. And Friday is nearly half over. Mission accomplished.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

To Be (Serious or Funny) or Not to Be (Serious or Funny)... It's a Question, All Right

Today's Thought, Part 1
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. -Gandhi-

The ChipperMuse Extra, Part 1
It seemed like such a good idea to write about the Gandhi quote today. It's a profound thought, totally appropriate for a Thursday morning, right?

One of my Bible teachers likes to say that mature spirituality is the result of letting our spiritual beliefs govern what we think, say, and do. There is definitely truth in this statement. Being who you truly are is the result of living consistently. When you think, say, and do what you believe and what you care about, you are being your real, authentic self. You are truly being YOU at that moment. Spirituality demands honesty. And so does your happiness.

Today's Thought, Part 2
Happiness is also talking about bouncey games...at least it is for me. -TheChipperMuse-

The ChipperMuse Extra, Part 2
After I decided to write about the Gandhi quote, I saw today's topic on the Stuff Christians Like blog--Today is about feeling sorry for all the Vacation Bible Schools that don't have bouncey games.

You remember those games, don't you? Even if you never went to a Vacation Bible School, your elementary school or local carnival probably had those big blow-up games that you could hop around in, like Tigger. I remember them from my elementary school and the Catholic church carnivals that took place in spring and summer. Man, those games were fun.

I do feel sorry for those who lack bouncey games. It's hard to feel close to God if you can't jump up and get a little closer to Him, you know? Isn't spirituality for kids all about hopping? I'm pretty sure that bounciness is next to godliness.

Ahahaha! I make me laugh. And that, in a nutshell, was my dilemma today. Should I write seriously about Gandhi, or write jokingly about bouncey games? I decided to be consistent with what I think, say, and do by being serious and funny at the same time. That's the way the ChipperMuse mind works.

Am I happy as a result? Checking...checking...Yup, pretty  happy! Gandhi's right!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Art of Discipline

Today's Thought:
Even the best of plans will take you nowhere unless you are disciplined.

The ChipperMuse Extra:
I'm going nowhere.

No. I kid. But I do struggle with discipline. One of my greatest flaws is easily that I could do more, but I don't. The art of discipline is something that escapes me quite frequently. Discipline seems almost like magic at times to me. Mystical. Intangible. Difficult to wrangle.

Yet the truth is that discipline can be mastered. It is the art of wrestling our soul into a stream that has a predetermined direction. The direction is determined by the mind. In other words, a decision. And then the soul is aligned with that direction through an act of the will. Making your will strong enough to overrule all your inner rebelliousness is what the art of discipline is all about.

I often wonder if I will ever come close to mastery of this art. I often doubt I will. But I try anyway, because my mind is filled with ideas. And not a single one of those ideas will come to fruition unless I do something to make it happen.

Discipline. If only I could buy it in bottle. But I can't. I suppose that's because discipline is worth far more than diamonds, and much rarer too. A priceless treasure. One day, I'd like to corner the market on this precious commodity.

We'll see if I can.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Your Thoughts on Saying No

Special ChipperMuse Exclusive:
I polled my Facebook friends recently to ask them two questions: (1) Do you find it easy or hard to say no? (2) Do you think it's easier/harder to say no depending on your gender?

Those who responded had some great thoughts to share. Here in a nutshell are the responses, and my thoughts on what everyone had to say. Thank you to all who participated and gave me something to write about.

The Findings:

Men and women are both willing to discuss this subject.
14 people responded to the question. Of the responders, 5 (36%) were male, and 9 (64%) were female. This response ratio fits with what I'd expect based on our culture... Women are somewhat more likely to share their thoughts on subjects like this than men. I feel good that we got a good one-third of responses from men to help keep the poll analysis fair. (Ah, thank goodness for statistics, which I studied in college and barely remember. Who would have thought I'd use it in real life?)

Some of us seem to have no trouble saying no.
Four people said they don't have a problem saying no. A little less than one-third of us. One of these individuals mentioned that it comes down to being a people pleaser. She noted that saying no brings with it a risk of displeasing others. They don't feel "warm and fuzzy" when she tells them no. I have another friend who has said the same thing to me. Saying no can definitely upset others, especially those who don't like to hear the word no. I have come to realize that if a person can't respect me when I say no, then they don't respect me at all. That's their problem, not mine. I find it hard to deal with the emotions I face when I upset someone, even though I know it's their problem and not mine. But close to 30% of us have learned already not to let that be a problem for them. Good for you!

Age and experience can help us learn to say no.
I suggested that it becomes easier to say no (and also to say yes at the right times) as I get older. For me, the combination of learning and practice has helped me get better at something I was not initially good at doing. 6 people agreed that growing older helps you to say no. That's 50% of us. So there's some truth in that observation. I suspect that as we get older, we often feel less of a need to prove ourselves or gain things from other people, and as a result, it becomes easier to be ourselves and let the you-know-what hit the fan if it needs to. That's very freeing for many of us. It's one of the things I like best about getting older. (Or as I like to put it, getting better. I'm getting better with age, like a fine wine.)

Spirituality can make it easier to say no. As can self-awareness.
One person specifically mentioned listening to spiritual teaching as a way to learn to say no. As a Christian myself, I can point out that even God says in the Bible, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no." One of the most beautiful expressions of the idea that when we say yes or no, it should be from our heart and we should mean it and be able to commit to it.

Those of us who responded that getting older makes it easier to say no... We're also saying that we're developing a better sense of what we're doing and why we're doing it. And at least one person mentioned that as she has grown older and has begun to work on saying no, she has also tried to pass that lesson on to her daughters.

Being busy can make it easier to say no. Valuing ourselves is important.
Another observation I made was that I find it easier to say no when I think in terms of what I can do with my time. Two other people also observed that their time is precious, and that helps them to say no. It seems to me there are two ways to look at this response. One is that being busy gives us a convenient reason to say no. It's not a "No, I don't want to" but rather a "No, I can't." That relieves the burden of guilt that those of us who have trouble saying no feel when we say no.

But I also think that the more we value how we spend our time, the more we value ourselves. Saying my time is precious is like saying I'm precious and I appreciate my value. And because I appreciate my own worth, I can say no with strength when I need to. This is a harder attitude to arrive at, especially for those of us who are people pleasers. But it's a worthwhile attitude to develop. Interestingly, none of us specifically talked about how we view ourselves. Yet I think that how we look at ourselves (and how we look at each other) is vital to learning to set boundaries appropriately. I may have to write about that more at a later date.

We're definitely influenced by culture, life experience, and personality. Perhaps more so than gender.
Two people felt strongly that culture (specifically American culture) lends itself to teaching women to be people pleasers, and thus women are more likely to have trouble saying no. One person observed that it's not gender alone, but gender in relation to cultural context that drives our ability to say no. I tend to agree with that, as it seems to make sense. I simply don't have enough experience dealing with other cultures to feel I can speak for any other group but Americans.

One of the most interesting responses I got was from a male friend who pointed out the mixed messages he receives from our culture. He observed that it is hard for him to say no in general...a personality trait. But the expecations he faces in our culture make it even harder for him to say no. He is expected to say no in certain situations and to say yes in others. In a sense, to "be a man," my friend has to say no to his children (setting boundaries) while saying yes to them (loving them), while saying no to bad business deals but saying yes to opportunites to make money so he can provide for his family. And so on. As he put it, "Those facts tug at my desire not to disappoint, and I hang in the middle of the web, struggling."

I believe that sentence phrases the problem better than anything I could have written. A big struggle for all of us as human beings is finding the balance between being generous with others and taking care of ourselves. I'd say that a mature person wants to do both of those things. And I'd even say that skewing too far to either side...either being far too generous or far too selfish...are marks of immaturity, or at least areas in our lives that need some growth. I say this because I really believe that maximum health for us lies in the middle...a good balance of generosity and enlightened self-interest, as Ben Franklin might say.

But achieving that balance is hard. And it is equally hard to maintain, as my friend pointed out. There are so many people and so many needs that pull on us. Saying no, setting boundaries, and being true to ourselves while also loving other people require constant effort.

In summary:
It seems that we all agree setting boundaries and saying no is a challenge at times. For some of us, it's easier than others. It's not strictly gender-related, but very much culturally influenced. There are prices to pay when we set boundaries, but in general I think we all realize it's valuable to do so. Many of us are learning to say no, which is a good thing.

Thanks for sharing, everyone. This has been a great conversation, and I've enjoyed what you all had to say. I wish you all many happy experiences saying no and setting boundaries in healthy ways!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Chocolate Tells Me How to Feel About Myself

Today's Thought:
My Dove chocolate wrapper gave me some great advice today: "Memo to self: You're the best!"

The ChipperMuse Extra:
I love getting advice from my chocolate. It totally justifies my chocolate cravings, my excessive chocolate eating, my dreaming in chocolate... I'm exaggerating. But I do like my chocolate.

And now I have another reason to like chocolate: It tells me how to feel about myself. It's like a trip to the psychiatrist...only way, way cheaper...and there's no Rorschach tests...and no one telling me that it's of the devil. Have you ever heard anyone accuse chocolate of being Satan's spawn? Thank goodness, no. Because it's not. It's God's warm, gooey goodness.

Anyway, my real point is that it is very funny to get advice for living from a chocolate wrapper. But then again, we all need to remind ourselves once in a while that we are "the best"...or at least, we're not too shabby.

What is your memo to self today...or in this season of life that you're in right now? Mine is: "Do more writing." And I am. It's a sacrifice at times, but it is worth it to me to do this. Make sure your memo to self is worth it too. And then follow it. You are definitely worth it!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why You Should Love (and Imitate) William Shatner

Today's Thought:
If you want a good role model to imitate in living a passionate, fearless life, look no further than William Shatner. Really.

ChipperMuse Extra:
Yes. Really. Imitate William Shatner.

"Why do I say this?" you wonder. You probably also wonder if I need to see a psychiatrist about this. But I won't take that personally. Let me explain myself.

A lot of people make fun of William Shatner. After all, he is an easy target for ridicule:
  • He uses an odd speech rhythm and syllable emphasis on old episodes of Star Trek. You...know...what I...mean.
  • He records albums in which he's not really singing, not really speaking. And this is funny.
  • He shares unique thoughts in his interviews. I mean to say...he's pretty crazy.
  • He's got a pretty big ego.
Okay. Fair enough. But before you judge him for all that, let me tell you a little more about William Shatner, the way I see him:
  • He has many accomplishments under his belt that many of us secretly wish we could have accomplished ourselves. Star, singing career, popular icon, millionaire, author...
  • He has a positive, laid-back attitude toward life that allows him to enjoy himself.
  • He's super confident.
  • He's basically fearless.
This man's fearlessness is one of his greatest traits. I mean it. The Shatner will do anything. Anything.

He'll sing a version of Rocket Man that entertains you more than the Elton John original. It's not even singing. But the Shatner doesn't care. He just goes for it anyway.

He embraces life, and doesn't care what you think about it or how it looks to you. Your opinion doesn't matter to him. He enjoys himself. He has fun.

He doesn't worry about your ridicule. In fact, he can make jokes too, lots of them, and they're really, really, really funny. And he doesn't take any guff.

What is not to love about this attitude toward life?

Let's face it. We'd all be a little better off if we adopted a little bit of William Shatner into our daily routine. Why not go ahead and sing your favorite song when you want to, where you want to? Who cares if it's not in tune? You're savoring life as it comes, which is what William Shatner is all about.

Do something adventurous once in a while, like canoeing from Canada to New York. (Yup. He did that as a young man. Read his latest autobiography for the story.)

Don't be afraid to be honest. You aren't going to be BFF with everyone. The Shatner knows this, so he doesn't pretend to like everyone. You might think that's a weakness, and maybe he could be nicer about it, maybe not. But at least he's not pretending something that's not true.

And most importantly, don't let the opinions and ridicule of other people stop you from being who you are and doing what you love, especially if you can do so with decency and character. As I pointed out earlier, the man is an easy target. But he's still working in the biz at 79 years old. I believe that merits a "Nyeh-nyeh-nyeh, you can't touch me!" to all the mockers.

Don't hold back anymore. Embrace your inner Shatner. Do it today. You'll be...glad...you...did.
Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved

Monday, May 17, 2010

Kenya...So Often on my Mind

Today's Thought:
I'm a little sad today... There's an article on MSNBC this morning about the Korogocho slum in Nairobi. I was there in January for a medical mission outreach. Lot of violence and rape there. Makes me very sad.

The ChipperMuse Extra:
Kenya is always on my mind in some fashion. Really, all of Africa is on my mind. So much violence. So much vicious crime. Living in the U.S. is a godsend that I appreciate every day because I know what life is like elsewhere.

Today MSNBC is posting an article about elderly Kenyan women taking self-defense classes to protect themselves from rape. I am saddened that they need to do this. But I am not surprised. In Nairobi's slums, the danger of daily living is so bad that the police don't go there if they don't have to. Korogocho is especially bad. We had to have an escort with us when we did our one-day medical clinic there, and we were also in a gated compound. That's the only way to do any work there with any level of safety.

Our escorts hustled us out at the end of the day. After we were gone, armed thieves broke into the compound hoping to find and steal the medicine we had been dispensing so they could sell it on the black market. This is a daily way of life for people in the slums of Nairobi. No rest, no peace. I hate this.

I also find myself doubting that people in the U.S. have the slightest idea what it is to live in such fear every day. The title of the article is "Kung Fu Grannies Ready to Fight Rapists." Our media makes the situation sound like a high-concept movie pitch, not the atrocity that it is. I am disturbed by the apparent disconnect we have from the suffering of other people.

And yes, I know some parts of America are unsafe. Believe me, I watch the news. I know. But I still wonder if it is fair to compare anything in the U.S. to anything in Kenya. The corruption is so much more evident there than here. There's no comparison.

We are very lucky to live in the U.S. and we ought to fight to maintain it. I think we do that by promoting and rewarding good morals and good character. I also think we need to promote good values. As a Christian, I argue for Christian values. But anything that makes right and wrong clear, that values the life of every person very highly, and that discourages selfishness, is a help.

Ultimately, it is our belief in doing right that prompts us to do right...or our belief that it's okay to do wrong that prompts us to do wrong. Some rapists in Korogocho have the idea that it's okay to rape elderly women, that it can cure you of AIDS or cause God to forgive your sins. A twisted belief system, to say the least. You can see the damage done by believing something that is not true.

And you can imagine the good that will be done when people believe what is true, and let their actions be governed by truth instead of lies. You want the answer to the world's problems? That's it, right there. Find the truth. Believe it. Live by it.

Not so easy to do. But whatever it costs to find and live out truth, the price is worth paying. For all of us.

The link to the article is http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37134218/ns/health-womens_health/

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Saying No...to Twilight

Today's Thought:
I joked about Twilight: The Musical yesterday. Then I found out Robert Pattinson did a song for the movie soundtrack. So, it's just a matter of time until...

The ChipperMuse Extra:
This is a mash-up of my Twitter ramblings and my blog/Facebook question about saying no. Because apparently, there are plenty of people who have no problem saying no to Twilight: The Musical. Actually, that's an exaggeration. There's just one person who said no to that idea. He shall remain nameless.

But as a teacher, I know that when one person says anything in class, it means that half the class really wanted to say it and just didn't have the nerve. So where one says no, many want to say no.

I don't actually want to see Twilight made into a musical. And no one is talking about it yet, at least not as far as I know. I simply made up a song for Edward to sing, based on a tune from West Side Story. It would go as follows:

I feel sparkly, oh so sparkly, I feel long-lived and youthful and bright. Oh so sparkly. And I'd love to be yours tonight...

Can't you picture it? Hear it? Are you covering your ears in denial right now? Well, I understand that all too well. And yet, I'm warning you that it's just a matter of time before this musical gets made. Oh, it'll have different music than what I've suggested above. But it's coming. And it'll probably be terrible. And it'll probably tour all over the country. Because that's the trend these days. Take a movie and turn it into a horrible Broadway musical to torture people who normally enjoy the arts very much... people who define art in a narrow manner that doesn't include vampires shuffling to Buffalo.

Whether you like it or not, Robert Pattinson is coming to a stage near you, and so are a bunch of other vampires. And they're not just sparkly. They do show tunes! Hoorah!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Saying No...Is it Gender-Based?

Today's Thought:
Does gender make it easier or harder to say no? Or are other factors more important in determining whether you have a strong NO muscle?

The ChipperMuse Extra:
A friend raised this question based off yesterday's topic. She wonders if our society (American, I suppose I should say as a qualifier) makes it easier on boys to say no, while girls are discouraged more often from being anything less than agreeable all the time?

I don't know how I feel about this. I do think culture plays a part in whether or not we become effective at setting boundaries and saying no. Overall life experience plays a part. And so does the family we grew up in. I suppose gender has its part, but I wouldn't have emphasized that factor, because I know some men who are terrible at setting boundaries.

But I'm curious to see what other people think. If you have an opinion on the subject, let me know in a post on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

I'd also like to hear whether you personally find it easy to say no...and I mean that in the general sense. I know you probably like to take situations on a case-by-case basis. But in general with all things being equal and nothing being highly unusual about a situation, do you generally find it easy or hard to say no?

I'll post the results and my thoughts on the results as soon as I can!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just Say No...Not So Fast!

Today's Thought:
At age two, we say no a lot. Adults train us to say no a lot less. Then we spend our adult lives learning to say no a lot more. Good plan.

The ChipperMuse Extra:
Today's thought is highly ironic, don't you think? We call that age the "Terrible" twos for a reason. Two-year-olds start learning that they can say no, and they apply this new knowledge at every opportunity. Who can blame them? It's the verbal equivalent of banging pots together to make noise (or music, depending on your definition of noise and music)... Both practices are entertaining, satisfying, and cathartic.

NO is a powerful word, and we must learn to use it wisely and well. It sets boundaries in our life, and boundaries enable us to take care of ourselves and have healthy relationships with others. (Thanks again to author Christina Katz at www.christinakatz.com for prompting a discussion on boundaries.) The essense of a boundary is to make clear to everyone, including ourselves, the areas that are a "Yes, come in" and the areas that are a "No, stay out!"

We all need the words yes and no to live a healthy, happy life. And we must act on our yes and no when life demands it. Sorry, world, that you can't always get what you want. (Didn't the Stones sing about that? Mick Jagger, the voice of wisdom and reason.)

It's especially important to let your yes be YES and let your no be NO when you are a writer, or any sort of creative person, for that matter. If you say yes too often and to the wrong people, you will get drained. Suddenly, your creativity and your time get spent (or should I say wasted?) on solving problems caused by problem people instead of being used effectively to further your art.

It's even important to say no to friends and family sometimes, so that you can get your artistic work done. That can be hard.

But it's necessary. And you can balance out each no with a wisely chosen yes at the right time. Your friends and family will know that you love them and want to spend time with them each time you say yes to them. And if they love and respect you, they'll respect your no when you use it. Trust me, healthy people can handle your no just fine...because they're healthy.

The people who can't handle no from you...not ever...are probably people you don't want to invest much time and energy into. These people are not healthy, and it's not your job to fix them. Instead, I recommend that you say yes to the people who love you even when you say no, and you'll be a lot happier, a lot healthier, and a lot more productive in your artistic endeavors. I know I am.

So let me end this post by just saying...NO!

(Just joking around. I feel like a two-year-old, and it's wonderful. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge.)

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Decline of Common Sense

Today's Thought:
Desperation travels faster than common sense.
(adapted from the quote "Apparently desperation travels faster online than common sense," Christina Katz, The Prosperous Writer, Issue  19, May 2010 .)
ChipperMuse Extra:
It seems to me that almost everything travels faster than common sense. Desperation, selfishness, fear... All sorts of bad attitudes and wrong thoughts beat out common sense to the decision finish line in our brains. And thus we end up doing an amazing variety of stupid things rather than the smart thing.

Common sense is a result of being grounded firmly in objective reality, with our feet set securely on solid truth. Fear, on the other hand, is rooted in subjectivity. Fear tells us we are not grounded and are not secure and safe, so we better run. Desperation tells us we're not running fast enough. And selfishness tells us we are rooted and grounded on truth, when we're merely standing on our own changeable perceptions. No wonder all kinds of problems erupt in our lives when we act out of selfishness, fear, and desperation.

We live in an age when the voice of common sense is drowned out by angry shouting...people trying to make their opinions heard, without consideering what they are saying, who they are saying it to, and how it will be received. Common sense requires us to see the big picture, but we live in an age when everything is shrunk down to a narrow view...what we can see from our own limited sightline. And sadly, many people never seem to notice the difference.

Maybe others can live that way without any sense of loss. But as a writer, I can't live that way, because I know that every word I write must be aimed at effective, illuminating, persuasive conversation. It is my life's role to consider what I say and who I say it to. It is my role to make sure I am not just speaking, but that I am understood--a far harder thing than shouting. Perhaps that's why so many people are loud, and yet they say nothing.

But I refuse to operate that way. I am standing up for common sense in my writing, in my interactions with people, in everything I do. Common sense is worth fighting for. And the enemies of common sense...fear, desperation, and selfishness...are worth fighting against.

I invite you to join me in the fight. You'll find it is worth it.

(Thanks to Christina Katz at The Prosperous Writer for the inspiration. Find her blog on writing at http://www.christinakatz.com/.)

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Experience Needed?

Today's Thought:
Supreme Court Justice needed. Make controversial rulings, change laws, apply politics as you please. No experience needed. Apply now.

ChipperMuse Extra:
How is it that the members of the highest legal court in the land don't need at least some legal experience before they apply for the job? It's not like their bagging fries at McDonald's.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Face Your Fears by Facing Your Emotions


Today's Thought:
Most of my fears aren’t based on permanent loss, but on my emotions, which are temporary. Since I can survive emotions, I can face fears.

ChipperMuse Extra:
The best observation I've heard on the subject of fear comes from a Christian minister who argues that fear is not a thing outside of us, but an attitude within us. I agree. I think fear is a way of thinking that dominates and drives our actions and leads us into problems instead of out of them.

I find that most of my fears are rooted in my emotions. An interesting observation. I may say, for example, that I'm afraid of losing someone. But what I truly fear, when I dig down to the root, is that I'll feel lonely if I lose that someone. Or for example, on the surface I may think that I fear making a mistake. But when I dig down deep, I realize that what I really fear is that I'll feel embarrassed if I make a mistake. I'm most afraid of how I'm going to feel.

Yet feelings pass. They change. Sometimes they are hard to change, but often it's easy enough to switch emotions. You just have to change the focus of your thoughts and your attention. Emotions are all about what you're thinking about. And so are your fears. In other words, fear is an attitude of the mind.

This fact ought to encourage us all. Fear is something you can choose to control. The things outside of us, whatever they may be, are not fully in our control. But our attitudes... We have control over them. That gives us the power to face our fears and defeat them.

We always have this choice: To face situations believing we can't make it (this is where fear thrives), or to face situations believing we will triumph (this is what the Bible calls the spirit of faith). The attitude of victory (faith) is where victory comes from, and the attitude of defeat (fear) leads to defeat. Which will you choose? It's a choice you'll need to make every day, several times a day. But isn't it worth it to pursue victory? I think it is. How about you?

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Saturdays and Friends

Today's Thought:
Saturdays are days when you rest your body and your mind, while you nourish your heart and soul...the perfect time to spend with good friends.


ChipperMuse Extra:
I'm grateful for my wonderful friends. Some have been in my life since kindergarten...like Yvonne. Others have been there for 20 years or more...Phyllis and Mark and Anne. Some I've met recently, like Kurtis and Hollie. And there are way too many of you to name here right now. And I'm thankful that's the case. Good friends, near and far, young and old, new and not-so-new...I love you all.


Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trash Bags in the Wind

Friday's Thought:
Tall kitchen-size trash bags can fly. I saw one bouncing along, high above the rooftops, sustained by the Tulsa wind...like a loose balloon. I was captivated by it. The unusual always captures our attention.

ChipperMuse Extra:
I love seeing things that are unexpected, especially when they bring a laugh to my lips. That trash bag provided one of those moments for me. I did a double-take when I caught that white bouncing image out of the corner of my eye. Then I watched the bag just bounce along, and waft higher, and then bounce along, and waft higher. I was impressed that no helium was required to propel the trash bag along, just the 35 mile an hour wind.

Of course, this is the same wind that tried to push my SUV off the road as I drove home for the evening. But I guess you have to take the bad with the good. I'm still smiling over the memory of that trash bag. In spite of its appearance, that trash bag beat the odds and did the impossible. It soared! We should all be as lucky as that trash bag, if you ask me.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday's Thought, Kind Of...

Thursday's Thought for the Day:
I got a Chinese fortune cook that says, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." Doesn't the impossible require more commitment than "kind of"?

ChipperMuse Extra:
This particular fortune is hanging on my wall at work because I get such a kick out of it. It's like someone is trying to talk himself (or herself?) into taking a big risk. Doing the impossible...hmm...it "could be" good, "might be kind of" fun... Nothing like going into an impossible situation positively. Hahaha.

Maybe something got lost in the translation from Chinese thinking to Americanese.

But I think that doing the impossible isn't just "kind of" fun...It's BIG fun. Whenever I accomplish something I didn't think I could do, I'm thrilled about it. And I want to do it again. Expanding our boundaries and reaching for more...challenging ourselves...that is one of the greatest experiences in life.

The Bible even talks about it in Isaiah chapter 54. The metaphor is that we must learn to stretch out the tent pegs and enlarge our living space to the left and the right. It's a reminder that there is room for a lot more in our life than we have right now. Our part is to make more room, so that the new space can also be filled with good things.

I'm all about expanding my own tent. I encourage you to expand yours. I think you'll find it's more than "kind of" fun!

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Today's Thought: Leis on the Rearview

Today's Thought:
No matter how many leis you hang over the rearview mirror, Tulsa is still nothing like Waikiki.

ChipperMuse Extra:
I have no idea why people do this. I don't remember ever seeing people do this in Connecticut. I don't know if it's a Tulsa thing, a Midwest thing, a thing done by high school kids in 2010, or wishful thinking by people who live nowhere near the ocean... I'd love an explanation, just to satisfy my curiosity. I guess it's better than fuzzy dice, but by how much? I don't like hanging anything from my rearview mirror because it gets in the line of sight when I'm driving. Then again, people in Tulsa can't drive anyway, so I suppose the leis don't affect the "quality" of the experience on the roads here. And that's all I have to say about leis today. (Aren't you glad?)

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Guiding Philosophy

ChipperMuse Thought for the Day (and my guiding philosophy):
It's not only okay to be different...it's fantastic!

ChipperMuse extra:
Okay, so I admit I borrowed this saying from the wrapper of a piece of chocolate. But hey, I just justified my chocolate addiction and now it's tax deductible because TheChipperMuse is associated with my writing business. So it all works out!

Seriously, though. I have always recognized my unique take on life, my tendency to be drawn to whatever is off the beaten path. There are people who are frightened by what is different, and they reject it to protect themselves, I guess. But not me. Being different...being unique...that's what opens up doors of opportunity to you. Look at those who are "different" and you'll see stand-out successes: Steve Jobs, Cyndi Lauper, Donald Trump, George Steinbrenner, Oprah... They stand out because they do what no one else is doing, and/or they're doing it in a way no one else is doing it. They're larger than life. You know exactly who they are. You remember their names. And they're highly successful.

Entrepreneurship insists that you be different. So if you feel unique, unusual, different...don't despair. Instead, start looking for the door that's going to open up to you and only you. And then walk through it! Success is waiting for the unique you on the other side of that doorway.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.