Believing Nonsense


Hello Friends,
My publisher, lulu.com, is having a Flash Friday event for thirteen percent off through Monday the 21st.
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July 18, 2014

Believing Nonsense – ©2002 Gail Pursell Elliott

My mother and my aunt were sitting together in church one Sunday morning.  They were 8 and 6 years old, respectively.  Their minister was in the midst of delivering a forceful sermon of the fire and brimstone variety, when my mother leaned over and whispered to her sister, “He’s yelling at you!”  My aunt immediately burst into tears.  Later my grandmother, who had an unpolished but keen sense of justice, punished them both.  Mom was punished for tormenting her sister.  My poor, wounded aunt got it for “believing nonsense.”

It would be interesting if every time we took something personally that we shouldn’t have, we would be punished somehow or reprimanded for “believing nonsense.”  We’d quickly learn to take another look and be a bit more discerning before reacting to situations.  Actually, we are regularly reprimanded when we take things personally.    Often we feel like we’ve been slapped.  We become indignant and blame our tormentor, never realizing that the tormentor really is us.   Like most tough lessons in life, we wind up having to do this one over and over until we learn.

Mystics tell us that we are all connected to each other as well as the rest of creation.  If we were completely aware that we are irrevocably connected to everything and everyone around us, we wouldn’t take anything personally either for it would be an exercise in taking offense to oneself.   We would be our own adversary.  It is the conflict between the appearance of separation and the sense of connection that causes us to react.  Unresolved conflict can be pretty irritating, and for most of us, the more irritable we feel, the more reactive we become.

Sine most of us are caught up in this conflict, however unconscious, we have to make a conscious decision and effort to not take things personally.  We can do this by becoming aware that our fellow travelers, caught up in the same conflict, are much more involved with themselves than they are with us.    Trying to make sense of the same feelings of isolation and need for connection that we are.

There was an old game show my grandmother enjoyed watching called “Truth or Consequences.”   When we take time to become more discerning, to look for the truth so that we can respond rather than react, we can avoid the consequences of believing nonsense.
Be good to yourself and to those you encounter. You all deserve it!

Gail

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©2002-2014 Gail Pursell Elliott  All rights reserved. Food for Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect mission of Innovations and is the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott. If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, please share it with people you know. Honor the copyright and forward this email in its entirety.  Reprinting in a newsletter or publication, to use in your classroom, to reproduce on your website or for any other purpose, requires permission.

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The Pursuit of Happiness


Dear Friends,
My publisher, lulu.com, is offering free mail shipping through July 7th for The Decider, Food for Thought Anthology, The Trust Book, and Be True to You. No limit on quantity!
These books make thoughtful gifts as well as launch points for introspection and discussion in your family, your school, your community.
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Enter code JLS714 to get free shipping through July 7th!
Please share this with others and thank you! Gail
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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
©2004 Gail Pursell Elliott

The Declaration of Independence includes the following words. “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Some have interpreted this to mean that they have the right to happiness. Of course that is not what it says. The pursuit of happiness means a quest or following a course of action to overtake or achieve good fortune, peace, contentment, joy or what each person determines happiness to be. It means freedom to choose our direction.

Some may become more caught up in the quest than the goal. They experience the ‘happiness of pursuit’ and may feel unsettled once the goal is achieved. Sort of like, “Ok, here’s the Holy Grail. Now what else do you want me to do?” Those referred to as “over-achievers” tend to exhibit this quality. When it comes to external achievements being equated with happiness, there will always be new quests necessary to maintain that feeling.

A quest is a form of exploration and when it comes to pursuing happiness we may feel as if we are embarking on a journey. Since happiness is more of an inner state of being or awareness, seeking it outside of ourselves doesn’t make much sense. It follows then that the pursuit of happiness when not attached to good fortune, is an inner journey or exploration.

To achieve happiness or any other goal, whether internal or external, we must know what we are looking for. Often someone will express the feeling that they are not happy but when asked what would make them happy say that they are not sure, but that they will know it when they find it. Those of us who express this will find that we must embark on an inner quest, an exploration of our own hearts to discover our true dreams and desires.

We can delay this true quest by engaging in the happiness of pursuit and in so doing may subject ourselves to a roller coaster ride of victories and failures. The pursuit of happiness within ourselves is rather like the quest for the Holy Grail. It was unique, one of a kind, and believed to be possessed with miraculous restorative properties. When we take a few minutes from our external pursuits each day to connect with our inner truth, remember the reality of who we are, and make a fresh commitment to that truth, we feel energized, restored, and even may experience what we call happiness.

Fortunately our inner Holy Grail is not as difficult to find as the external one has been reported to be. When we embark on this quest, we will find that it was always there, simply waiting to be recognized. All that was required was a sense of awareness of its presence.

The poet T. S. Eliot, put it beautifully when he wrote:

“We shall not cease from exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.”

Be good to yourself and to those you encounter. You all deserve it!
Gail

©2004 -2014 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved. Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect mission of Innovations and is the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott. Use of material from Food For Thought, re-distribution in any form or for commercial use including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission from the author.

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You Will Always Be To Me


©2002 Gail Pursell Elliott

“We create and fulfill our own destiny
Then wrap our seasons in tissue to be carefully kept”
– from the poem Destiny, ©2001 Gail Pursell Elliott

My father and I used to talk on the phone every Saturday morning. One day, he was feeling pretty discouraged about his myriad health problems when I said to him, “I always think of you as my handsome, strong father who can do anything.”

He burst out, “I’m 78 years old! I used to be those things but I am not anymore.”

I replied, “Am I your little girl?”

He responded, “Yes! Of course you are!”

“Dad, I’m over 50. I am not a little girl anymore, but to you I will always be your little girl. You will always be my handsome, strong father who can do anything. This is what you will always be to me.”

What we represent to others often has little to do with the reality of our current situation. It may also have little to do with our inner self and personal growth. Though this interaction I had with my dad was positive, there are other representations in our lives that are not so positive. The truth of who we are or the objective reality of situations may have little or nothing to do with what we may always be to someone else. Our memories are directed by our emotions rather than by objectivity.

People and situations that affect us deeply will always represent that emotion to us unless we separate the essence from our feelings. It is more than difficult to do and requires a conscious desire on our part.

For example, we may associate a place with a hurtful experience. From that point on, every place we encounter that is similar will evoke those same feelings. This is what the concept of baggage is all about. We carry our points of reference along with us into new situations and relationships and use those points of reference to find our way. It is too unsettling for many of us to travel without them.

We have a tendency to overlook obvious attributes or shortcomings in others, preferring to label them with a personal experience we have had. We then try to either fit all other input into that label or refuse to look deeper to see who that person really is, beyond our reference points. This is why conflict resolution can be so difficult at times, and also why we find ourselves being deeply disappointed when others do not live up to our expectations.

We hold onto situations, experiences, and people by virtue of the feelings associated with them. We wrap them mentally in tissue paper like a precious artifact or heirloom and tuck them away for safekeeping. The intensely positive memories will evoke those same lovely feelings and we can use them to adjust our attitude and perspective.

Sometimes, however, we find that we have wrapped experiential garbage and tucked it away with our precious artifacts. Then when we unwrap them they stink to high heaven and can cause us to feel almost physically ill. Before garbage disposals, people would wrap their garbage in old newspapers to put out with the trash. Some of the memories and accompanying feelings that come bubbling up from our treasure trove of saved experiences similarly should be wrapped up with the rest of the day’s negative events and tossed out with the refuse.

If we are unable to separate the positive experience from the negative, we may find ourselves rewrapping the whole package, thinking that we are not ready to deal with that task. What we often do not realize is that if we have unwrapped it, it is time to separate the gems from the garbage. If we are truly unable to separate the positives from the negatives we may have to discard the whole package.

No matter how we grow and develop positively, there will be some to whom we will always have a negative image because of pain we have caused, intentionally or unintentionally. There is nothing we can do about that, because we cannot access another person’s artifact collection.

No matter how others grow and develop positively, there will be some that to us will always have a negative image. We can do something about that, because they are part of our own artifact collection. We can either separate the positive, discard the negative, and look for other situations to cherish with that person or determine that it is too difficult and walk away, leaving it all behind.

Holding onto garbage keeps those points of reference alive within us. What we focus on is what we attract to ourselves. This is one reason why at times we seem to encounter the same types of experiences or people over and over. Eliminating emotional garbage also eliminates the points of reference that cause us to connect with more of the same.

There are some in our lives who will always represent something positive and wonderful to us, just as there are some to whom we will always represent something wonderful regardless of other circumstances. Often we never know how deeply we have affected someone in this way. When we take the time to express those positive representations to each other, the result can be not only incredibly uplifting but also confirms those points of reference. These enable us to experience more situations worthy of being wrapped in tissue, the ones we treasure all of our days.

Have a Great Day and be good to yourself and those you encounter. You all deserve it!
Gail
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©2001 -2014 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved. Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect message that is Innovations and is the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott. If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, feel free to share with people you know (family, friends, co-workers) Use of material from Food For Thought, re-distribution in any form or for commercial use including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission from the author.

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The Power of Apology


©2005 Gail Pursell Elliott

The priest discovered him first and then roused the owner of the shop. He was lying asleep in the display window. The night before he had broken into the shop, destroyed the display, and then had begun maniacally devouring the chocolate showcased in the window. Chocolate was smeared on his face, hands, and clothes.

It had been a blatant act of vandalism caused by despair that took the form of rage. It was completely out of character for someone who was the undisputed leader of the community, who dictated morality and values, and who prided himself on his self-control. As he came to his senses, he was shocked to see the destruction around him and humiliated by the knowledge that he had done it.

“I’m so sorry.” The expression on his face spoke infinitely more than the simple words directed to the shop owner.

“I won’t tell a soul,” she replied softly. Her smile was one of kindness and compassion.

If you think this reads like a work of fiction you are right. It describes a scene from the movie Chocolat. It is amazing how often I see mobbing behavior imbedded in literature and films. In Chocolat, the town mayor targets the shop proprietor.

He talks about her behind her back to the townspeople, describing her as an atheist when she says she doesn’t attend church, as brazen when she opens her shop of tempting goodies during the season of Lent, and expresses sympathy for her “poor illegitimate child.”

When confronted, he arrogantly explains to her that he is “only speaking the truth” and she will be out of business before Easter. She represents someone who challenges his control and upsets the status quo.

He does whatever he can to discourage the townspeople from associating with her. Some of the townspeople, however, find her to be a kind and caring person and who come to think of her as a valued friend.

Although this is a work of fiction, there is an important point that is made during the scene described at the beginning of this article. The shopkeeper made a choice. She could have gloated over the mayor’s humiliation and held it over his head.

Instead she met the sincerity of his apology with genuine forgiveness. Both of them allowed their true humanity to reveal itself and in that moment the conflicts between them were laid to rest. She treated him with dignity and respect and in so doing, opened the door to allowing him to treat her that way also.

Of course this is a work of fiction. As Oscar Wilde wrote in his satiric play The Importance of Being Ernest, “the good ended happily and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

Many stories in life do not have happy endings, but some of them actually do. Similar stories have been part of my own life experience. Fiction or not, the endings to such stories are dependent upon the choices made by the people involved.

Sincere apology can have a lot of power to heal situations between people. What releases that power is whether or not the apology is accepted, how it is accepted, and whether the people involved can move forward from that point with no expectations, but with a spirit of acceptance to see each other with new eyes.

Have a great day and be good to yourself and to those you encounter. You all deserve it!

Gail

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©2005 -2014 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved. Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect message that is Innovations and is the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott. Use of material from Food For Thought, re-distribution in any form or for commercial use including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission from the author.

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Predators


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April 4, 2014

Predators
©2008 Gail Pursell Elliott

Several years ago a comic strip showed what appeared to be an office shooting in which the assailants were deer dressed up in commando outfits. Toward the end of the strip, a student is shown concluding a presentation to his school class with the following statement. “Of course Bob’s family was understandably upset when he didn’t return home that evening. But everyone understood that some thinning of the herd was necessary to prevent starvation.” The last frame shows the student’s parents reading a note sent home from school and discussing whose turn it was to go talk with the teacher.

In the animal kingdom the carnivores are generally predators. They stalk, evaluate, and single out those to be cut from the herd first. Usually these are the members that are least able to defend themselves: the old, the young, and the infirm. Although they take care of themselves first, predators also take care of their own. Those who hunt in packs often share the profits with rest of the group or family, including the young and the old.

Hubert Humphrey observed that whether a society is truly civilized is not based on accomplishments such as monuments or technology, but upon how it treats the old, the young, and the infirm of its members. This comment is food for thought and reflection. When it comes to human beings the word predator as a descriptor is often used to describe someone engaging in an activity that is considered inhuman. Those who prey upon the vulnerabilities of children or the elderly are especially held in contempt. From this perspective, it may be surprising to realize that many times over the years, when there has been an economic crisis, the elderly, those with illness or disabilities, children’s services, and education seem to have taken the hardest hits. Expenditures that support a variety of monuments then appear to take priority over basic human needs.

Predators are not mindless or evil. They are fully capable of strategic planning, feeding their families, instructing their young, and guarding their territory. They are part of the balance of life and do what comes naturally. Human beings have these same abilities but we are capable of much more. We have been bestowed with the capacity for reflection, insight, a sense of greater purpose, and spiritual qualities such as mercy and compassion.

We have the ability to determine what we value and act upon it.
We can alter our perspective of the present and vision our future.
We have the power to choose.
We can base our priorities on something beyond instinct.
We can use our resourcefulness to remain civilized regardless of how difficult the circumstances.

What separates our species from the wild kingdom is more than our opposable thumb.

Have a great day and be good to yourself and to those you encounter. You deserve it!

Gail
————————————————————————-©2014 Gail Pursell Elliott All Rights Reserved.
Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect message that is Innovations and is the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott. If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, you may share it with people you know. Honor the copyright and forward this email in its entirety. Reprinting or re-distribution in any form or for commercial use, including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission. Contact Gail for permissions and rates.

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Food for Thought Anthology

Over the years our world has changed dramatically. People often treat each other like objects and opportunities rather than as human beings. In many cases we’ve lost touch with one another as people. Each of us is unique; each of us has wants, hopes, needs, dreams, desires and the right to dignity and respect as individuals. We must gain insight and awareness to see each other with new eyes. This Food for Thought Anthology is the original collection of essays, stories and quotes that was released by Gail Pursell Elliott in 2001. This edition is in response to numerous requests to reissue the original collection, an insightful and inspiring book for you to enjoy and to share with others.

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Lasting Gifts


December 24, 2013
 
Lasting Gifts
©2005 Gail Pursell Elliott 
 
The most important gifts are not those that you can hold in your hand.

These, in their purest form, are simply an outward representation of the gifts that are the most lasting: the gifts of Time, Attention, Thought, Caring, Peace of Mind, True Friendship, Acceptance, Patience, Tolerance, Laughter, Joy, Freedom of Expression, Companionship, Insight, Understanding, Compassion.
Following are some examples. I have left some of the gifts on this list blank for you to express your own thoughts. Add ideas of your own.

– Time: Today’s world is so complicated. What can you do to un-complicate the life of someone you know?
– Attention: The gift of attention is being fully present and focused on the other person, what they are communicating, thinking, saying.
– Thought: Thinking of someone? Let them know you are sending them good thoughts.
– Caring:
– Peace of Mind: Putting someone’s mind at ease can be as simple as keeping an eye on their house or walking their dog while they are out of town.
– True Friendship: A true friend knows that even if you are acting like a total jerk, the condition is only temporary.
– Acceptance: We can always find something to appreciate, even with people we do not know or understand.
– Patience: Let someone in line ahead of you.
– Tolerance: Give people the benefit of the doubt
– Laughter: Laughter has been called the ‘shock absorber’ of life. It releases healing endorphins into your body.
– Joy:
– Freedom of Expression: Allow people to be who they are without judgement.
– Companionship:
– Insight:
– Understanding:
– Compassion:

Remember that we must first own whatever we give or we are unable to give it. Every gift on this list we give ourselves as we extend it to others. For example, if we give the gift of companionship to someone we are giving ourselves that same gift.

It is just wonderful the way this works. Rather than depleting our spiritual bank account, the more we give in this way the more we have.

Sometimes what is really important in life becomes obscured by outer concerns. These have a tendency to make us feel poor and wanting when we are not and to pull our attention to focus on the attainment of symbols of a rich existence, which can ultimately leave us destitute if we lack perspective and balance.

Note also that power, recognition, reputation, influence, control, and manipulation are not included on this list of lasting gifts. Our real life exists elsewhere, for if these inner gifts are ignored or lacking the rest are empty icons that can symbolize ultimately not abundance, but lack.

Money and possessions are not in themselves important. Only what they represent has meaning.

We are fortunate to be both rich and can be generous with gifts that have real value. The rest, in the end, is truly nothing. My wish for all of us this holiday season, is the ability to recognize, express, appreciate, and share the lasting gifts in our lives.

Be good to yourself and to those you encounter. You all deserve it!

Gail 

©2013 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved. Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect message that is Innovations and is the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott. If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, please share it with people you know. Honor the copyright and forward this email in its entirety. Reprinting or re-distribution in any form or for commercial use, including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission. Contact Gail for permissions and rates.

Gail Pursell Elliott, The Dignity and Respect Lady
Mobbing, Bullying and Harassment Expert
Human Relations Consultant
Innovations “Training With a Can-Do Attitude”
http://www.innovations-training.com
http://www.tashidelay.com
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