Risk ahead

Bird Droppings December 31, 2011

Risk ahead


            How more appropriate to end the year than to look at the idea of risk and what lies ahead. Risk is a driving force of who we are and why we are and what we do. How we take chances and avoid risk are defining pieces of our personality.


“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.” Lou Holtz


I think you could possibly argue numbers but Coach Holtz has a good point. Life is a combination of pieces sort of a tossed salad of sorts thrown together and the end result is what we live with. One thing however that Coach Holtz left out is what makes you respond the way you do. Probably being a football coach and one dimensional limited his views on such things but a whole other realm of ideas could be spent on that concept.


“In my own experience, the period of greatest gain in knowledge and experience is the most difficult period in one’s life. …Through a difficult period, you can learn, you can develop inner strength, determination, and courage to face the problem.” Dalai Lama


We learn as we walk through life by experience how to respond to a given stimulus. We learn how to choose from choices presented. I often use the example of crossing a stream stepping rock to rock, as you step each time you see the stones, some are slick or wet, others covered in moss and slippery when you step on them. You learn to avoid certain situations in order to not fall in the stream. However it may be a warm day and the fall is worth it since a cool dip may be worth the risk of a shorter journey across the stream.

As I sit writing I recall a term from many years ago in my days working in industry, Risk Management. In Risk Management Training an acronym has been used for many years in industry and it could apply in life, the four T’s.


1. Terminate the risk – Do not do it, avoid it, eliminate the risk, you do not need to cross the stream

2. Tolerate the risk – In crossing the stream there is a chance you may get wet you are willing to risk it

3. Treat the risk – Build a bridge across the stream and  a mighty storm may wash it away but in one hundred years there have not been any storms recently

4. Transfer the risk – Let someone else cross for you or buy stream crossing insurance A paraphrase from:  Frank E Bird Jr., Loss Control Management


But unless you actually are involved you may never really know which way to go in terms of which T you will pick.


“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.” Warren Buffett


Life is about experience and the roads we take, it is ours to choose and to make a mistake or succeed with.


“It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt


Take the day by the horns as the cowboys among would say and try to do your best, carpe diem, and stride across the stream believe it is summer and you will not succumb to hypothermia if you do fall in and as always especially in these days of increasing violence in the middle east keep all in harms way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks.



Determining what to learn

Bird Droppings December 30, 2011

Determining what to learn


“Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know — and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance. It is better to know — even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction — than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder. That was the choice of Achilles, and it is mine, too.” Isaac Asimov


I am always amazed as I listen to students say I am passing I have a seventy percent and that’s good enough. I thought about this as I looked over scores from our recent semester End of Course Tests yesterday and looked to see how some of my students faired. I sometimes wonder if students really learn anything from day one till the last day of the semester or do they simply regurgitate data and information to pass the tests. My son commenting years ago as he took SAT’s several times the more he took math classes the better his scores in math went and conversely one semester he did not have an advanced English class and he dropped a few points in the verbal section. Even for a good student is school simply a memorizing forum?


“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” Basho


“True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by.” E. S. Bouton


I found when I began looking for answers that learning became easier. When answers were being given to me in a mandatory sort of way as in going to school I learned less. Even in college for many years learning was considered mandatory. I have observed many students and what they learn if they want to learn a topic they read about it, they look up information about it, and they have the desire to learn.


“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein 


For some time I would use this quote at the end of my morning Droppings and have it on my wall at school as a reminder and have used it in numerous presentations in graduate school along the way. How can we make our teaching so potent? How do we get information we teach to be what students want to learn? How do we get the desire to learn back in students?


“Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of face within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity” Calvin Coolidge


“Wisdom is like electricity. There is no permanently wise man, but men capable of wisdom, who, being put into certain company, or other favorable conditions, become wise for a short time, as glasses rubbed acquire electric power for a while.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


As I think back a few days to the concept of a democratic school where students pick and choose topics for discussion and learning each week which is the mainstay of educator and philosopher John Dewey’s thinking. It would be difficult to plan for a standardized test in that did we cover for example (inGeorgiawe had the Quality Core Curriculum and now most subjects are converted to Professional Curriculum Standards) item number 123 the classification of segmented worms? Somewhere someone determined in Biology that that item was crucial. It may be a history item about George Washington’s false teeth made from wood or why did Ben Franklin use silk cord for his kite. However it was one person’s opinion of what was important and then a committee decided it was needed on the test. I always wonder if they consulted students at any point in determining what was important.


“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.” St. Francis of Assisi


“Wisdom is the supreme part of happiness.” Sophocles


How would we know what it is we need to know and how would teachers know what it is we need to know in order to teach us? Using standardized tests provides the vehicle to measure but then we teach to that particular test or do not teach to it what then happens at that point are students no longer learning? If I know what students need to know before I start the class then I will gear the class to understanding that piece before the test. So in effect we teach to the test. We teach what someone somewhere has deemed necessary for a student in that grade and time and that may or may not be what that teacher or student wants to learn and or teach. That then brings back to the students who tend to learn best when it is something that they want to know and realistically teachers teach far better teach something they want to teach quite a paradox.

It would be a sad world if parents were told they had to teach their kids so and so today and tomorrow it would be this and that. Now that I think about it maybe that is not so bad. Except that someone somewhere will be saying this is what children will be taught and when. That system just closed down inRussiaa few years back I think. So if our goal is to train social animations to fill the factories as Karl Marx once indicated, is now the goal of education about the same as it was then and this is how we do it. Somehow we need to bring back creativity, imagination, wonder, choice, caring, real learning and thought.


“If you wish to know the road up the mountain, ask the man who goes back and forth on it.” Zenrim


In the past few days I have talked with several old buddies who have been in their time avid back packers and hikers. We were thinking back to the good old days when we would load up my old VW van and head to the mountains with only our supply of food or lack thereof to determine how many days we would stay out on the Appalachian Trail. We were joking about breaking in new boots. I said I learned from experience with a brand new pair going off to the woods, blisters and blisters on blisters and a few days later I learned about moleskin as well. I learned the way up the mountain from those who went before me and I now when I hike carry my own moleskin and well-worn broken in boots. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart. I saw the movie Avatar and was intrigued by the similarity to Native American thought and how all was interconnected although perhaps a bit more graphically for those who would not understand. Somewhere in my readings a graphic drawn by a Lakota Sioux holy man was very similar in its interconnections to the world of the Navii in Avatar. All is sacred and each interaction impacts the next and all of what we do is a flow from where we have been. An interesting concept so please remember to always give thanks.  



Naughty or Nice !!!!

Bird Droppings December 29, 2011

Naughty or Nice


“The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless unremembered acts of kindness and love.” William Wordsworth


One day when you look back and try and remember what was that act or when, you may not remember but the person to whom that small act of kindness was paid will. A few nights back Santa Claus as he does every year visited my brother’s house where we were gathered for Christmas Eve. Coincidently a he had with him a  letter of sorts more of a naughty and nice list. At the top of the naughty list of course was Uncle Frank along with several other Uncles and my grand niece’s daddy. At the top of the Really Nice list was my granddaughter of course and several grandnieces and a brand new niece in law. Several years back we had our oldest niece come over and with Santa they looked at all the names as I read them to her. She was so excited about two of them. Of course she ran around the room showing everyone. What was so funny was it was her daddy’s name on the naughty list that intrigued her. She knew why exactly, her daddy scolded her a few days before. It is funny the list was a total after thought yet my niece took it home that year.

Every once in a while I will run into to someone in person or on line who had met my father over the years. It has been a number of years since he last spoke publicly, back in the day as my youngest son says. He taught numerous Red Cross courses along with his actually teaching, as a profession in the field of Industrial Safety and Loss Control. Many people mentioned how his Red Cross first aid class saved a life here and there or some interaction with another where he did this or that changed their life.

Occasionally he would remember the event but often it was simply his way of living how he went about the day. A favorite story I recall is one fromSouth Africaabout thirty years ago. He was there teaching and lecturing for the Chamber of Mines and one of the senior officers of The Chamber lent his personal driver and car to Dad while he was there. A young black South African, a member of one of South Africa’s many distinct tribes; this young man had come into the city to earn enough money so he could go home and marry. Many young men would leave their homes some for as long as twenty years to earn enough money to go back to their villages and marry.

Dad spent eight weeks in South Africa on every trip and on this trip as well traveling to many of the mines around Johannesburg and in the back country. This young man was always ready always on time and kept Dad on time many times getting him to numerous meetings and functions in this foreign country all in a day. When it was time to head home Dad had really come to like this young man and as he dropped him off at the airport Dad tipped him the remaining South African money he had, about five hundred equivalent US dollars in their currency. He came later to find out that was equivalent to three years of work or so.

Dad got a telegram as soon as he got home from his good friend inSouth Africaasking what my father did to his driver.  As soon as he got back from the airport he quit his job and went back to his tribe. It seems Dad had given him enough money to go home and be married; a seemingly small act of kindness, a tip to this young man changed his life.


“Once in a century a man may be ruined or made insufferable by praise. But surely once in a minute something generous dies for want of it.” John Masefeild


“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” Aesop


Scattered about in our lives are the bits and pieces events we often do not remember but that person to whom we responded kindly or in a way that helped them will remember forever.


“The flower of kindness will grow. Maybe not now, but it will someday. And in kind that kindness will flow, for kindness grows in this way.” Robert Allan


“Is there any one maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout one’s whole life? Surely the maxim of loving kindness is such: Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.” Confucius, from the Analects


Interesting this statement sounds so familiar it was first written nearly 500 BCE by Confucius in China in his Analects, a series of statements and stories, repeated many times then in other cultures and religions and even prior in words of others.


“Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning.” Fredrick W. Faber


“If you were busy being kind, before you knew it, you would find you’d soon forget to think ’twas true that someone was unkind to you. If you were busy being glad, and cheering people who are sad, although your heart might ache a bit, you’d soon forget to notice it.” R. Foreman


There are far too few cheerleaders in the world although there are days I would say too many, especially with all the drama with the cheerleaders at our high school over the years. At school many times the cheerleaders come by my room, it seems I am the one taking photos at events and Mr. Bird’s wall of fame is a focal point for many students coming to see who has been added. One cheerleader in particular has never once had a frown; she is always excited and happy. She is always saying a good word to friends. I have never seen her gossip or speaking badly of another person and amazing I have never heard a bad word about her.

So often in the morning as I observe the hallways her personality is contagious. When she is walking down the hallways with others soon all are laughing.


“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” Washington Irving


“He was so benevolent, so merciful a man that, in his mistaken passion, he would have held an umbrella over a duck in a shower of rain.” Douglas WilliamJerrod


“To cultivate kindness is a valuable part of the business of life.” Samuel Johnson


It is seldom that someone will complain about another person being nice to them. Maybe Dr. Seuss’s character the Grinch, but even he fell sway to the little Who, Cindy Loo Who. Kindness can win battles. Kindness can win a war, or prevent a war. Random acts of kindness can provide the catalyst for world change.


“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, and kindness in your smile.” Mother Theresa


“If someone were to pay you $.10 for every kind word you ever spoke and collect $.05 for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?” Nonpareil


Many times as I sit and write each morning I wonder if anyone is reading or hearing what is said. Daily I get notes and emails; I know today this word or that word touched someone. How many words need to be spoken or need to be emailed to have world peace? If it is a hundred million let’s start now if it is a hundred billion then again let’s start now. We all know there is a number and we all know one day we will attain that goal. One day maybe I will never have to end Bird Droppings ever again this way but with a Georgia State Patrolmen shot in the line of duty last night after a car chase not today, please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and be sure to always give thanks.



Where is the passion?

Bird Droppings December 28, 2011

Where is the passion?


“How do preschool children, full of natural inquisitiveness and a passion for learning, turn into apathetic or angry teens with a profound dislike of school?” Robert L. Fried, The passionate Learner


Every day I hear the simple phrase from at least one student of, “I hate school” and matter of fact I usually hear it numerous times. Very seldom do you hear this in kindergarten or first grade which is interesting.  When and where does the attitude towards school change?


“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” John Cotton Dana


I remember my own early grades although that is now nearly fifty six years ago. I remember a second grade teacher who inspired us. I recall a teacher who each day amazing and made it special and you wanted to be there tomorrow to see what was next. But I also recall teachers who presented an image of a different sort one where we did not want to be in school where it was more fun to stay home and be “sick”. Recent reading of Henry David Thoreau added to Dana’s statement as Henry David Thoreau quit teaching to be a learner and found he was a far better teacher then.


“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the motional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein


For a number of years I had ended my emails with this thought from Einstein.  Just the other day I mentioned to a professor How Einstein was equally a philosopher as well a scientist and most never take the time to see that side of him. How can teachers bring the “passion” to their teaching as Robert Fried writes about? How can we make teaching so potent as Einstein states? I have come to find the past few weeks that teacher attitude is crucial to this process. It is not so much about approach as attitude. How a teacher interacts and responds to students in their class is far more important than the material taught. For if a teacher is not getting through to the students the material is inconsequential.  


“The most important part of education,” once wrote William Ernest Hocking, the distinguished Harvard philosopher ‘is this instruction of a man in what he has inside of him.’” Sydney J. Harris


Artificially we draw out great schemes and plans and build a fabulous curriculum.  In education classes teachers to be learn how to do lesson plans and study the ins and outs of lesson plans and learn various curriculum philosophical theories and rationales and get credits for this. This is a major portion of the structure of teaching teachers. State education departments have as an example in various Curriculum guidelines and standards which determines what content needs to be covered in this course or grade. I have seen teachers agonize over not covering the standards in the time given daily.


“WHEN most people think of the word “education,” they think of a pupil as a sort of animate sausage casing. Into this empty casing, the teachers are supposed to stuff ‘education.’” Sydney J. Harris


 It is the teacher that teaches by stuffing that adds to the dilemma we face when we encounter students who do not care and are disinterested in school. I remember a teacher a year or so ago so frustrated because they could not cover from page 1 through 546 in time given. This teacher was near a nervous breakdown and really what if those students were not able to get through the material what if they were functionally having difficulty? How and why should we teach beyond what they already do not know?


“But genuine education, as Socrates knew more than two thousand years ago, is not inserting the stuffing’s of information into a person, but rather eliciting knowledge from him; it is the drawing out of what is in the mind” Sydney J, harries


 How do we become the teacher who draws out rather than simply stuffs in?


“The man who can make hard things easy is the educator.” Ralph Waldo Emerson –


“Those who know how to think need no teachers.” Mahatma Gandhi – Teaching becomes more showing how to think and process than content


“Education, to have any meaning beyond the purpose of creating well-informed dunces, must elicit from the pupil what is latent in every human being – the rules of reason, the inner knowledge of what is proper for men to be and do, the ability to sift evidence and come to conclusions that can generally be assented to by all open minds and warm hearts.” Sydney J. Harris


Over the past few years as I have come back to teaching I have found a hierarchy in teachers. There are three types of teachers it seems. There are parasites this is those who use such great statements as “this is my class room” and “you will respect me”. As we evolve as teachers we become symbiotic this is where both the teacher and student are independent of each other yet need each other to coexist and teachers now say things like “How can I help you”. In any progression there is always room for growth for several years I thought this was where teaching was a symbiotic relationship. However I was sitting in a class and another idea, an epiphany hit me. Osmosis is taking down walls and learning is fluid, it moves and reacts in a fluid manner and both the teacher and student are learning and teaching in a reciprocating way. John Dewey talked about this nearly a hundred years ago and was considered progressive interestingly enough he still is considered progressive.


“Pupils are more like oysters than sausages. The job of teaching is not to stuff them and then seal them up, but to help them open and reveal the riches within. There are pearls in each of us, if only we knew how to cultivate them with ardor and persistence.” Sydney J. Harris


It is difficult to get to this point few colleges for teachers teach in this manner. Those that do are few and far between. Hopefully as the future rolls around more teachers will rise up and take notice how many students hate school and maybe try and do something. Sitting here on a beautiful morning in Georgia wondering about the day I am excited as questions flow in and new teachers ask for guidance. Please as the day rolls on keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and please always give thanks.



Why do we WORK?

Bird Droppings December 27, 2011

Why do we WORK?

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Aristotle

How many times do we all hear how difficult the job is or how “I hate my job” I am always confused when I hear this. I want to ask why are you doing this if you hate it so much. I am sorry it doesn’t make sense to them as I sit and ponder this dilemma. I have heard teachers many times over echo their dislike for teaching and always wonder why then are you here teaching in a school. There is far more damage done by disgruntled teachers than perhaps any in any other job I can think of.

“Make yourself indispensable, and you will move up. Act as though you are indispensable, and you will move out.” Jules Ormont

So many people assume they are indispensable.

“We’ve entered an era when very good, competent people aren’t getting jobs. One remedy is to stand out, to self-promote. If you do, you’re going to get the nod over some co-worker.” Jeffery P. Davidson

Depending on your political drift we are several million jobs behind or have added several million jobs, but in effect actually we are still behind just not that much and the job market id tougher than ever. College graduates are being warned to get a graduate degree could be in part to keep them in school a few more years and out of the job market. I recall a Georgia  Tech. versus University of Georgia football game and signs on the Tech side read “What does a UGA graduate call a Tech Graduate” the answer being “BOSS” and or UGA graduates average annual salaries $23,000.00 and Georgia Tech Graduates average salary $56,000.00. While rivalry signs and animosity abound it is the concern about jobs that drives it. Will I have a job when I graduate?

Years ago I left teaching because of income I recall my choice well stay in a field I truly enjoyed and make less than ten thousand dollars a year or go into graphics and make nearly four times as much. While I spent my summers teaching doing graphic arts and making more than I did teaching I was thinking of marriage and such and the economics leaned against teaching. As it were a chance to return to teaching came up years later although still a lot less money than the publishing business and I jumped or was pushed by my wife is more like it.

“We may not be able to offer long-term employment, but we should try to offer long-term employability.” Brian Corby

“Making a success of the job at hand is the best step toward the kind you want.” Bernard M. Baruch

Far too often in our complaining about work and jobs we lose sight we still need to perform that to which we were hired. We also need to do it well and to be successful at it.  Leaving a job with a good reference can always lead to a better and more promising job.

“Our works are the mirror wherein the spirit first sees its natural lineaments, Hence, too, the folly of that impossible precept, Know thyself; till it be translated into this partially possible one, know what thou canst work at.” Thomas Carlyle

“I never did anything by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.” Thomas A. Edison

I think most people know when they are good at something or not. Why some people choose to stay with jobs they disagree with I will never know. As I am listening to complaints and questioning I will say look elsewhere. However if you choose to stay then learn all you can about what you do so you can do it better.

“One of the saddest things is that the only thing that a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work. You can’t eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day nor make love for eight hours –all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.” William Faulkner

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason so few engage in it.” Henry Ford

Each day I wonder about students I see especially the ones who don’t care. Those students who simply take up space and I wonder where will they be in a few years, jail maybe working for minimum wage or on disability. Everyday becomes a challenge to hopefully uplift enough to overcome that melancholy of lack of concern and get some focus. It is about encouragement rather than discouragement. It is to up lift rather than tear down. Sadly some students are hard eggs to crack and really don’t care assuming to live at home forever and have mom and or dad there to feed and clothe them.

“My father always told me, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Jim Fox

“Wanting to work is so rare a merit that it should be encouraged.” Abraham Lincoln

I was thinking back to my first real job teaching swimming at the YMCA in Coatesville Pa. Each Friday I would get a brown envelope with cash in it then I would try and figure how many hours I worked and what taxes were taken out. The computations were made on the front of the envelope. Today my paycheck is electronically deposited in the bank and electronically usable amazing how far we have come. But the desire and drive to work and to excel at a job that is still no different than it was for Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln. You have to want to and you have to choose to excel in order to succeed. Before I write each morning I check the news on the internet so often I wonder about politicians do they want to succeed or are they just along for the ride. They reap their benefits whether they achieve or do not. Perhaps this is where high school students learn from watching failing politicians on TV and think all I need is to get to point B and I can coast for the rest of my life just like they do. Thinking to my writing today and why do I work eight to twelve hours a day even on holidays and it is because I enjoy what I do. So my dear friends we are nearing the end to another year and Mayan calendar or not another great year ahead. Please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and remember to always give thanks.



A new day fille with questions and perhaps answers

Bird Droppings December 26, 2011

A new day one filled with questions and perhaps answers


“No such thing as a man willing to be honest –that would be like a blind man willing to see.” F. Scott Fitzgerald


“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.” Nathaniel Hawthorne


The other day before school let out for the holidays I was in the hall way as I do between periods and using a digital camera took random photos as people passed by. Some people were smiling, some frowning, some in a state of delirium, some were simply walking in the same direction others were and a few I am not sure of what they were doing other than breathing. But as I looked at the photos, when someone in the photo was interacting faces seemed to change. When the person was alone the face would be different. Several people as I began to notice were alone and moved as if no one else was in the mass of humanity moving through the hall. Several times I would intercede and question “Are you okay” and usually a response would be “it is not a good day or I should have stayed home”. As I thought that the past few days and especially yesterday and this morning why is it we allow ourselves to be such actors?


“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” Henry David Thoreau


So often we are someone different to each aspect of our lives, to our friend’s one person, to our family another, to teacher’s workers and associates even another each often a different persona.Hawthornestates bewilderment as to what is the true you. Maybe this is why so many youth, teenagers, and even adults get lost in the play of life, they get lost in the numerous lives, they lose sight of whom they really are and where they are at this point in reality.


“Presence is more than just being there.” Malcolm S. Forbes


“Multitudes of people, drifting aimlessly to and fro without a set purpose, deny themselves such fulfillment of their capacities, and the satisfying happiness which attends it. They are not wicked, they are only shallow. They are not mean or vicious; they simply are empty — shake them and they would rattle like gourds. They lack range, depth, and conviction. Without purpose their lives ultimately wander into the morass of dissatisfaction. As we harness our abilities to a steady purpose and undertake the long pull toward its accomplishment, rich compensations reward us. A sense of purpose simplifies life and therefore concentrates our abilities; and concentration adds power.” Kenneth Hildebrand


Perhaps Hildebrand’s idea of comparing people to gourds is right as I look at the aimless wanderings in the hallways, at youth whose only direction is moving to their next class and avoiding Mr. Bird noticing they are not happy, as the hollow gourds that rattle. The big question is how can that be changed? A first item is for more people to notice, to stop being self-centered and see the other people, then maybe we can change some of this and empty hollow shells can be refilled. It is the time of year to try and make a difference. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks.  



Where do we find happiness?

Bird Droppings December 25, 2011

Where do we find happiness?


Within the spirit of our holiday season as I checked my various blogs, emails and social networking sites early this morning and I found an overabundance of “I got’s” and few “I gave’s”. Scattered earlier were a few of parents waking up with small children and excitement of this special morning with family. But as the morning progressed the stories shifted and one caught my attention it was of a little girl upset because she could not find her mother’s present under the tree. After a careful search it was found in her bedroom wrapped perfectly and containing gift cards to her mother’s favorite places.  All of her birthday money and allowance had been saved up for this present. That is special. Glad I waited to write and saw this note.


“The very purpose of our life is happiness; the very motion of our lives is toward happiness.” Dalai Lama


My first glance out the window today and our red tailed hawk was perched in the old black walnut tree as he does early in the morning nearly every day waiting on squirrels running through the hedge row seeking pecans from the several trees in our yard. Thinking back it was several years ago in my journey through life that I wandered through the Mall of Athens.  I happened into a store where Native American art was sold, long since that time they have moved to a shop in Hawkinsville Ga. A very pungent smell filled the store; it is a smell you do not forget easily, the smell of rawhide. A traditional drum maker was building drums in the old way. He was stretching rawhide over hand carved and tooled shells of native cedar and spruce. This drum maker had left a construction job to build drums full time, traveling around the country making drums for sale and doing workshops as he was here.


 “Happiness is a sort of action.” Aristotle


“The really happy man never laughs — seldom — though he may smile. He does not need to laugh, for laughter, like weeping is a relief of mental tension — and the happy are not over strung.” Prof. F.A.P. Aveling


As I left that store I felt at ease, at peace with myself. Sitting here this morning perhaps it was how this artist as he worked and exuded a peace and happiness. He was doing what he wanted to do, and that is a key to happiness. It is about being where we should be and doing what it is we were meant to do. For people that journey may take you through many jobs and many travels.


“Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.” Mildred Barthel


“When one is happy there is no time to be fatigued; being happy engrosses the whole attention.” Edward Fredric Benson


I was thinking to some of my students who chose to not be happy, it could be perhaps a chemical disturbance or imbalance within them. Clinical depression is actually a chemical imbalance, and can be treated chemically. However so many may choose not to be treated and then my question is can we each search for and attain happiness.


“The world’s literature and folklore are full of stories that point out how futile it can be to seek happiness. Rather, happiness is a blessing that comes to you as you go along; a treasure that you incidentally find.” Louis Binstock


“It is the paradox of life that the way to miss pleasure is to seek it first. The very first condition of lasting happiness is that a life should be full of purpose, aiming at something outside self.” Hugo Black


So in effect happiness finds us is what I think I read. If you look under happiness on the internet you can find happiness scales to show you how happy you are and if you are. I looked up happiness in the dictionary always a good start and according to Dictionary.com, happiness is “Characterized by good luck; fortunate. Enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy. Being especially well-adapted; felicitous: a happy turn of phrase. Cheerful; willing: happy to help.”


“The truth is that all of us attain the greatest success and happiness possible in this life whenever we use our native capacities to their greatest extent.” Smiley Blanton


Who is Smiley Blanton, actually a famed psychiatrist and author of numerous books and co-partner since 1937 in the Peale Blanton Institute with Dr. Norman Vincent Peale? I thought he was a clown by his name. It has been many years since I shook the hand of Dr. Peale in Macon Georgia back in 1972 or so.


“Happiness and virtue rest upon each other; the best are not only the happiest, but the happiest are usually the best.” Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton


“When you have once seen the glow of happiness on the face of a beloved person, you know that a man can have no vocation but to awaken that light on the faces surrounding him; and you are torn by the thought of the unhappiness and night you cast, by the mere fact of living, in the hearts you encounter.” Albert Camus


I always write about the journey we are on, each one of us is traveling as we go each day. I do believe we seek happiness, as the Dalai Lama states in the first quote I used today “The very purpose of our life is happiness; the very motion of our lives is toward happiness.” I do think we venture towards happiness in our daily walk. Somewhere we get lost or off track and many find it hard to get back to the trail. This is for so many a special time of year and I wish we could each offer a hand as we go. Though it is late in the evening please any one you meet offer a hand and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always to give thanks.