Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Quotes on passion and restraint

All the President's Men, 1976

As my friends know well, I’m a passionate person. Fortunately, though, I have a wide practical streak that helps me hold my passions in check and keeps me from cutting off my nose to spite my face. That practicality is a gift from both parents, but it usually speaks to me in the voice of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, quoting a favorite line from the film The Wrath of Khan: “You must learn to govern your passions; they will be your undoing.

As a reporter for the Washington Post, Carl Bernstein occasionally let passion get the best of him, too. According to author Stephen Bates in his book If No News, Send Rumors, Bernstein dreamed of being the paper’s full-time rock critic. And executive editor Ben Bradlee promised him the job … before giving it to someone else.

Furious, Bernstein decided to quit the job he’d held since 1966. But his inner Spock must have had a word because he didn’t just storm out the door. Instead he quietly applied for Hunter S. Thompson’s recently vacated postion as political writer for Rolling Stone.

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Become a master storyteller

Baseball Bat

My nine-year-old nephew just finished his first season as a top hitter on a baseball all-star team. When he started as a little T-baller a few years ago, I suppose his coach warned him not to sling the bat behind him after a hit. Good advice—but unnecessary. He and his younger sister know well what can happen when a bat spins out of the hitter’s hands.

So many times they’ve heard the tale of my one and only baseball hit. It was a game of cousins and friends in Alabama, and I took my place at the plate: the sorriest hitter on the team. As the ball came toward me, I all but shut my eyes, swung the bat in its general direction, and HOLY COW! I connected. The ball went bouncing toward the pitcher and I took off! First base … I could hear yelling … second base … third base. Only then did I notice there weren’t any basemen. Everyone was huddled over something on the ground at home plate.

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The credit-grabbing boss

Ships of Christopher Columbus Sailing on Earth

It’s tough enough to get ahead these days without others taking credit for your work. But office politics is nothing new.

In the 15th Century, English and European sea captains made their fortunes by traveling to the Far East and returning with valuable silks and spices. But it was an arduous journey, around the southern tip of Africa, up to China and Japan, then down and back again. Believing the earth was a small orb, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus thought he could sail straight across the Atlantic, around the globe, and arrive at Asia in record time.

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How to help friends cope

Sinatra

It’s said that during his lifetime, singer Frank Sinatra raised more than a billion dollars for charity. He was known for giving benefit concerts to help a variety of worthy causes, once remarking that he was “an overprivileged adult who ought to help underprivileged children.”

Some of his most popular performances were the private ones he gave for friends and acquaintances who’d been admitted to the hospital. The more serious the illness, the more diligent he was about dropping by and singing a tune to make the patients—and anyone else who could hear—feel a little better.

Few of us are blessed with Sinatra’s extraordinary vocal stylings, but he set a good example of the best way to help people who need to be comforted: Give of whatever talents you have.

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The limits of superstition

James Dean

Silver skin shining like moon glow, it would have seemed more in place skimming the fast curves of Monaco than crawling the streets of my small American town. The driver saw me staring and noticeably puffed up. We don’t get many Porsches around here, and he was enjoying what he perceived as my vehicle-envy.

I was thinking: DEATH CAR.

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Finding inspiration from grief

Civil War Field Telegraph Sending-Key in Working Order, Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee

From King David’s ancient psalms lamenting his conflict with son Absalom to artist Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece mural commemorating the 1930s bombing of the Basque town Guernica, human creativity has been inspired by real-life tragedy.

What sets apart portrait painter Samuel Morse isn’t that his life influenced his art, but that the inspiration wasn’t expressed in charcoals, oils, or watercolors but in the invention of a new language.

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Tripping over tragic reminders

 Male Young Adult Sitting on Floor Using Laptop Computer

Like a lot of people, I was wary about wading into the waters of social media. What would I find? Who would find me? But after a few weeks, it had been a wholly positive experience of reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Then one night my cousin Karla posted a note to me on Facebook that made me realize reconnecting can come at a price.

She’d just heard from someone she hadn’t seen in years. Naturally, her old friend had asked about her children, specifically her eldest son. “You think everyone knows, then you realize they don’t,” Karla wrote. Her 22-year-old son was killed on New Year’s Eve 2001.

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Being an unlikely leader

Variety of Groceries in Paper Bags

Sometimes it feels like I was born in the wrong era. I’d love to have marched with suffragists at the turn of the last century, campaigned for better labor conditions in 1930s factories, or helped stage sit-ins on college campuses in the 1960s. Oh, I’ve participated in my share of marches and worked for many causes. But I always yearned to do something more dramatic … until an unlikely hero reminded me you don’t have to start a revolution to make a difference.

“Johnny” was exceptional … but not in a way that usually suggests leadership qualities. He had Down Syndrome, and working as a grocery bagger for a Midwestern supermarket chain was likely as far as his skills would take him.   Continue reading...

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Running shoes or no shoes?

A Man Runs Barefoot Across the Desert in Death Valley

If there’s one thing all children in the American South have in common, it’s the joy of running barefoot. I was 10 before we moved to a paved street. Until then, I ran free on dirt roads, prickly yards, and sandy lakefronts. In summers, we visited my grandparents in Alabama, and each year I’d wander into a clover patch, step on a bee, and suffer terribly until Daddy pulled out the stinger. But not even my annual bee encounters could persuade me to put on a pair of shoes.

Somehow Southern kids manage to walk, run, tumble, skip, jump rope, ride bikes, and even play baseball and football in our bare feet. But then we grow up, put on a few pounds, decide to get in shape, and suddenly it’s all about THE SHOE.

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Quotes on speaking with meaning

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Recently my brother and I were swapping stories about our childhood peccadilloes and the punishments that usually followed. One thing was certain: When Mom and Daddy caught us in our misadventures and promised to tend to us later, they kept their word. We not only learned that actions have consequences, we learned our parents meant what they said.

Most people seem to take a more ambiguous approach to life than our parents. They’ve discovered the easiest way to avoid conflict is to avoid making firm commitments or saying anything meaningful. Instead they waffle and warble, acting out the advice Rolling Stones’ front man Mick Jagger once said he picked up from singer Fats Domino: Never sing the lyrics very clearly.

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I'm Deborah, survivor of everything from multiple cancer battles to major business setbacks. Join my search for ways to move the mountains, big & small, that block your path to success.
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