Change or Die

Evolve or repeat; change or die; don’t look back; inhale the future, exhale the past; be proactive. Do those phases look familiar? I bet they do. We’re inundated with reminders and recommendations about change, improvement, and moving on.

It’s been a while, probably fifteen years at least, but I’ll always remember the moment when I first saw the words: Change or Die. I had l seen them before, but this time was different. The title of an article, they were capitalized, and the font was large. The students were taking a test, and I was reading updates on the computer. I glanced up at the class immersed in their work and then began reading.

“Change or Die” referred to businesses that refused to get with the program, so to speak, those who continued to follow traditional ways of attracting and keeping customers. The author of the article advised that unless they began to become internet savvy and keep up with the changing times, they would soon become defunct. Although I already knew this to be true, there was something about the title that forced me to sit up straight and take notice.

I walked through a huge Sears store a few weeks ago and recalled the days when such stores were bustling with customers in all departments. On this day, I was one of three people walking through the aisles, and truthfully, I was there because I was trying to get a walk in. I thought things would surely be better when I got to the tools area, but no. Row after row of Craftsman air movers, garage door openers, hook sets, work benches, pocket planes, saws, tool sets, wrenches, and drills lined the shelves. The two employees stood talking to each other, and I wondered if they did that all day, every day.

I thought of the days when my children delightedly pored over the Sears catalogue choosing Christmas gifts. The huge books were even used as seat elevators when little ones couldn’t reach the dinner table. I’d love to see one of the catalogues today. Who could have foreseen their end? Who could have predicted the popularity of Amazon? Not I.

I recall when the college where I worked began online instruction. Excited about the possibilities, I jumped on the bandwagon. When some naysayers resisted, one administrator was overheard saying, “This train is leaving the station. Climb aboard or be left behind.” There seems to be a lot of jumping, leaving, and climbing in this paragraph, but I’m not a good enough writer to write without a cliché or two. Those terms imply action and change.

For the record, the students mentioned above were taking the test on their computers, one of my first forays into paperless tests. A younger colleague mentioned that he planned to go paperless with just about everything work-related, and he graciously volunteered to be my mentor. As a retiree, I’m still teaching online classes. There are virtual schools everywhere. Teaching has changed, and if I hadn’t adapted, well, you know.

Change or die applies to just about every facet of a person’s life. From relationships and health to work and leisure, change is necessary to move forward. As I type this, I’m listening to a playlist of my most played music on Alexa. She (funny that the device is female) selected the music based on my requests from the last several weeks, and this afternoon I’m enjoying Gregorian chants and selections from Fiona Apple and Bonnie Raitt.

Change or die are words that still resonate with truth. Because of the willingness to change, I can still teach courses although officially retired. Because of COVID, virtual learning offers educational opportunities unheard of fifteen years ago when I read “Change or Die.” Not only can students earn degrees from colleges and universities across America, they can also take classes such as those offered by MasterClass and learn how to write, cook, dance, do yoga, take beautiful photographs, play musical instruments–to name a few. Right now, I’m learning about character development from Amy Tan.

Change or die. Evolve or remain stagnant. It’s your choice. As for me, it’s time for a MasterClass lesson on revision from Amy Tan.

What can you do today (why wait until tomorrow?) to change your thinking, attitude, or behavior?

Hope, Direction, and Gratitude

On Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to get together with June, an old and dear friend. Among the many topics of conversation that afternoon was the awesome power of books to change one’s thinking, give hope, and offer direction. Yes, we talked about paint chips and husbands and careers too, but somehow the topic always returned to some of the books we’ve read and how they affected our lives.

While there are dozens that I could mention, I’m only going to highlight a few:

The first three words in Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled were sobering for both of us the first time we read it. Basing his premise on the noble truths of Buddha, Dr.Peck states, “Life is difficult,” and then goes on to say that as soon as people accept that fact and stop whining, then they can go about their lives in a more effective way.

June and I went through a season in which we devoured the words of Sarah ban Breathnach in her book Simple Abundance. We even gave each other gratitude journals and followed Sarah’s (we felt we were on a first name basis with her)  advice to write five things each day for which we were grateful. What this taught us was to be more mindful and to pay attention  to the good things in our lives.

And how can I forget Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go? I can’t. In fact, I’ve  given several copies of this book away and currently have a copy here at home, at the beach bungalow, and on my Kindle. Sometimes I forget that I deserve all that life and love have to offer, and I need a reminder from Melody. I’ve also learned about detaching with love, the power of waiting, and knowing  when to say no from her.

Then there’s Dr. Stephen Covey and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I first read this book 14 or 15 years ago, and I continue to dip into it whenever I need a reminder to be proactive, make some deposits in an emotional bank account, or sharpen the saw. Everyone who knows me knows I’m a big Covey fan.

Though small, Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved my Cheese? also gave me much food for thought. A student introduced me to this book, and his favorite line soon became one of mine: “It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.”

Before I get too carried away with more favorites, I just want to reiterate that reading can change a person’s perspective, lift her out of the doldrums, and show her a better way. I’m hoping that my new book, Eve’s Sisters, a compilation of essays applying psychological principles to the women of the Bible AND the women of today, will help people as much as other books have helped me!

Yes to the Best

I’ve been thinking lately about how we become all of the things that we see, hear, read, and experience. We are a composite of all that has come before even when we forget it. Several years ago a good friend of mine was going through a rough patch, and her therapist recommended a little book of meditations entitled The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. My friend gained so much insight and peace from it that it didn’t take much convincing on her part for me to get a copy for myself.

 

In a word, Wow. It seemed as though Melody’s words were written just for me. I bought and gave away several copies of it, and about a month ago, I realized that I no longer had a copy of my own. Thanks to Amazon.com, that problem was solved in a matter of days, and since that time, I’ve been rereading meaningful passages.

 

What’s on my mind today is the author’s treatment of the word yes, my word for last year. Why did I choose that word? Hmmm. After re-reading the August 8 meditation, I’m thinking that maybe I absorbed Melody’s advice into my own heart and soul so much that YES became a part of me. On the chance that her “yes words” might mean something to you, I’m going to list a few:
 

“We can learn to say yes to healthy relationships, to people and activities that are good for us.

We can learn to say yes to ourselves, what we want and need, our instincts, and the leading of our Higher Power.

We can learn to say yes when it feels right to help someone. We can learn to say yes to our feelings. We can learn to identify when we need to take a walk, take a nap, have our back rubbed, or buy ourselves flowers.

We can learn to say yes to work that is right for us.

We can learn to say yes to all that will nurture and nourish us. We can learn to say yes to the best life and love have to offer.”

 

Is that last line powerful or what??? The truth is that way…powerful.