Help us find a home for Charlie!

Please help us find a home for Charlie!

Charlie is 11 years old, neutered, and spends most of his time just sitting at your feet and hanging out. He also loves to chase and play outside, and he thinks birds are really fun to chase, too.

Unfortunately, we are unable to give him the love and attention he deserves – and it breaks our heart to see those eyes begging for attention from this very on-the-go family. Technically, he belonged to our oldest son, who recently moved to Colorado. My son knows that we are looking for a new home for Charlie and agrees that it is for the best. Can you take him in?

He can speak, sit, lay down, and jump on command (as long as you’re prepared to give him something yummy).

Charlie’s favorite dog food is Ol’ Roy Dinner Rounds, but he also eats leftovers, so things definitely don’t go to waste at our house. He’s a gentle giant – has a great bark (strangers at the door may even think we have a Doberman!), and he’s excellent around babies and children. We have 7 children, and we’ve had him for 7 years, so he’s had lots of experience with every age group, from newborn to adult and everything in between. One of his favorite people is grandpa – he’d make a great companion for a senior, too.

Although he generally gets along with other pets, we want him to go to a home where he will get plenty of attention and nurturing through this difficult transition.Think of it like bringing a newborn home from the hospital. It’s challenging but VERY rewarding for anyone who embraces the opportunity to make a loving difference.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: We found a new home for Charlie a few days ago, but after his first night, his new owners were worried that he wasn’t happy because he cried through the night and wasn’t himself. We picked him up but we really don’t want to put my kids through another false placement.

So, before contacting us to inquire about Charlie, please know this: Basset hounds are known to whine when they want something, but all the more so if they’re truly sad or worried. After a move, Charlie will probably avoid food for a while, and will probably whimper or moan until he feels adjusted. The Basset Hound rescue organization says that it can take a few days or even a few months for a Basset Hound to be completely back to himself after an adoption.

Lastly, you should know that Charlie is considered a “senior” dog. Seniors tend to be more mellow and easy going, which is a wonderful advantage for someone just wanting some good old-fashioned canine loyalty, without the stress of potty training and furniture or shoe damage that often comes with younger dogs. FYI, the life span of the average Basset is 12 years, but they can live as much as 18 years or more.

We hope to find a home not too far away, in case the kids can still visit him once in a while. We live in North-East Mesa, AZ.

If you are interested in adopting Charlie, please reply to this message below with your contact information and why you think your home would be a good fit. Your reply will be sent to me for ‘moderation’, but it will never be posted for public view.

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AP Chemistry and Forest Fires

Positive Thinking Tip: Life’s disasters are like forest fires: they release new seeds, and always mark an exciting new beginning.


This is the third installment of my personal exposé that began with “Getting Personal Here” and which continued with “Something’s Gotta Change“.

In my last installment, I ended with:

“It’s nearly 3 am again – I’m eager to share what those extra lessons turned out to be, and you’re probably wondering, ‘so, what about the debts?’ or ‘what are you going to do with your business now?’ but I’ll have to save those details for next time.”

It’s finally “next time” so, here we go…

About those lessons learned, no doubt I haven’t learned all that I need to learn, and I’m sure there are more to come, but to this point I’ve learned a few:

For one thing, I recognized at least one huge blessing that was contained in my timely meltdown. As I said in the first post, I dropped off the map in May.  From May through October, my husband and I reassessed our roles, and found a more workable long-term plan for our family.

By November, I was breathing again, just in time to shift my attention to helping my oldest son prepare for a full-time 2-year service mission for our church.  He applied to serve and was assigned to a region that includes Northern Colorado and Southern Nebraska/Wyoming, and he was to report for training on February 8th, 2012.

To help him prepare for this assignment, we started gathering some serious winter clothing (seeing as how we didn’t really own any), there was a ton of paperwork to complete, and countless appointments to get all the doctor’s and dentist’s permissions and medical records turned in.

It doesn’t sound all that time consuming in hindsight, but it was a feat of ginormous proportions while I also worked to keep up on all the other children’s activities, needs, Christmas concerts, preparations for Christmas itself, and especially trying to help my junior survive AP Chemistry.

(At the same time, there were some business commitments that I still needed to fulfill, so once Christmas was behind me, those took center stage.)

Once my son was all settled into his missionary assignment, I was able to reflect on the timing of my meltdown and recognize that it gave me the space I needed to have some very special, meaningful experiences with him before sending him on his way. It’s possible that he has left the nest for good, and I feel so much gratitude for the sweet memories we were able to create with him those last few months.

Another lesson I learned had to do with letting go. 

To explain, let me share an experience I had with my 16 year-old son:

At the beginning of the school year, I encouraged him to sign up for AP Chemistry because he had enjoyed regular Chemistry, and because he had demonstrated an increased commitment for doing well in school and an increased willingness to study hard.

It seemed like an amazing opportunity, because his teacher had been the recipient of a national award, and so I pictured my son having an experience something akin to what was demonstrated in the movie “Stand and Deliver” with the dedicated and heroic teacher, Jaime Escalante.

I believed that with hard work and with my son taking advantage of ALL the help his dedicated and award-winning teacher would have to offer, my son could pull it off.

What I didn’t bank on were the unexpected challenges. Had we known that these issues were going to be part of the equation, I certainly would have thought twice:

  1. His teacher is rarely available outside of class.  There are two lunch periods, and my son’s lunch hour is during one of that teacher’s regular classes. He was invited to come in at lunch anyway, working independently while the other class is being conducted, with the plan to get some help here and there as time permits… but it never really worked. The teacher often taught right up to the bell and then it was time to go. He couldn’t help before school, because he was busy with an A-hour class. And, he was not available after school, either (I’m not sure why).
  2. There was a mentoring program at the school where students were paired up with other students who could help with a certain subject… however AP Chemistry was not one of the available topics. None of the volunteer mentors knew the topic well enough to help anyone.
  3. The students were required to use an online homework assignment program called WebAssign, and sometimes it rejected even the right answers.  One time (after beating our heads against the wall for HOURS), we called his teacher at home to get help on a problem, and his answer was, “Oh, yeah, that one is kind of buggy. You got the answer right, but for the online program you have to put in this other number [which was a wrong answer] to get it to accept it.”
  4. Another time we were stuck and his teacher said, “Have you tried Yahoo Answers?” (That’s where some other desperate, struggling student has copied/pasted the WebAssign question on Yahoo and a kind stranger has responded with an answer. To survive the class, students went looking for the answers on Yahoo, without really learning what’s going on and how to come to the answer… and because our award winning teacher is spread so thin, he even began to encourage the resource.)
  5. We hired a professional tutor to help my son with the class, but she couldn’t get the WebAssign to accept her answers, either.
  6. We hired a fellow class member who seemed to be understanding it a little better than the others, to help my son learn as they went. But sometimes he was not available, and ultimately began to get just as stuck as everyone else.
  7. The teacher told my son, “If you find yourself spending more than x minutes on any one problem, call me!” Well, that’s nice and all, but the fact of the matter is, under the circumstances, my son would have been on the phone with his teacher for HOURS at a time each night if he had had the gall to take him up on it.  My son did timidly take him up on the offer a few times, but rather than working to discover the gaps or mistakes in how my son was trying to solve the problems, the teacher just quickly rehearsed the process like he did in class and sent my son on his way. Sometimes he just outright told my son the answer so we could all get off the phone and move on with our lives.
  8. Oh, and the last time he told my son that he should call him at home, he added, “I’ll probably be grumpy about it, but then I’ll help you get the answer.”  Well, my son was already feeling like a huge inconvenience, like he was the one student who was struggling the most in that class, but in spite of that, he mustered the courage to call one more time, only to get the teacher’s voicemail, and days later, the teacher still had not returned his call.
  9. We recognized that this was a college level course, but at least in college, you can go to the science lab for help when you need it!!

Even though he was in danger of failing, and in spite of all these ridiculous obstacles, he managed to hang in there and keep a passing score.  I know it wasn’t an “A”, but the fact that he was passing was enough for me to be one seriously PROUD MAMA!

Then, on one particular day as I was experiencing some massive stress over this class from h***, and just as it was looking like my son was coming out of the woods, I got a phone call from his math teacher. She told me she was concerned because he was failing her class.

MATH?? Seriously?? That was one of his best subjects!  Because of his comfort level in math, apparently that was the class that was getting the neglect, just to save his bacon in Chemistry.

I sighed. Here we go...

I asked, “So… are there any assignments he’s missing that he can make up?”

“No,” she said, “we don’t accept late work or retakes. Department policy.”

Well, that was the last straw. My blood began to boil (I was a secondary math teacher in my former life, and could not fathom denying a student of the opportunity to fix past mistakes. After all, if it takes time for them to want to learn it better, thank heavens they want to learn it at all! Let them learn it! Better late than never! If they’re having to do homework-triage to stay afloat in a potentially college-credit bearing class, give them a break!)

She continued, “He’ll just have to do really well from this point going forward. Now, if he would like to come in at lunch to get some help…”

Lunch?? He was already expected to be spending lunches in his Chemistry room hoping for some help from that teacher. He didn’t need math help, he just didn’t have time to keep up.

It was in that moment that the impossibility of the situation sunk in. We had been fighting the Chemistry battle for seven months, always thinking that there MUST be a way to succeed, but suddenly the reality was clear. After all he could do, it was still not going to be good enough. The resources I had assumed would be available to him just weren’t there, and left to himself, it was just too much.

(Because of what I teach, I believed it could still be conquered, but it didn’t matter what I thought, it only mattered what he thought... and he had lost hope. Who could blame him?)

In that moment of peak anxiety, as I stressed like never before over what I could do to help him conquer, an impression came to me, quiet and serene, that said, “Let it go. There’s a better way.”

I caught my breath and pondered the impression. For the first time all year, it suddenly felt okay to consider having him withdraw… that it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and that in every life experience there is a valuable lesson to learn.

Some words from my mother came to me. She had said, “Leslie, if he has to retake a class, even that will be a valuable life-lesson. It’s all going to be okay.”

I realized how attached I had become to the perfect, ideal outcome of his school year. He had chosen to take the public-school path, and I had determined to support him in that. In doing so, I had locked on to the expectation of nothing but success and it only aggravated the matter.

My tenacity (sometimes a good trait when applied to one’s own goals) blinded me to a potentially better alternative within the framework of the path he had chosen.

I was reminded of the principle of agency, and that we are free to succeed but we’re also free to fail. Some of our greatest life-lessons are gained through our failures, and it was being revealed to me that I really wasn’t at peace with my children experiencing failure like perhaps I thought I was… and that needed to change.

A good parent has to detach themselves from certain outcomes in order for the child to experience the full lesson it contains for them. The agency, the accountability, the contrast, the lesson. I was feeling how important it was for me to let go of the outcome, and be a steady force for encouragement and also unconditional acceptance of my son, no matter how he chose to cope with the mess.

The next day he texted me from class: “Mom, this class is killing me, I can’t take it any more!”

So when he came home from school I shared with him the sense of peace that had come over me – how I felt that God was helping me see that it’s okay to look for and find a better path. We talked about what it would mean if he failed the class, what he’d have to do next year to make up for it, what his other options might be, and what it would mean to withdraw and have a study hall for the last few months of school.

His countenance lightened significantly, and after a meeting with his counselor to find all the options and consequences, he, of his own decision, determined to hang on at least for another two weeks until the end of the quarter, and then reassess.

Freedom to choose is foundational to a person’s happiness – and sometimes the fetters we feel aren’t visible. I had been holding him back, without even realizing it. Much of his stress had been coming from my unspoken expectations, and once he felt released of them, he found the strength within himself to make a courageous choice completely independently.

What does this have to do with my May meltdown, and what’s happened since? I think I had been feeling fettered, too. I needed to reclaim my agency and really find out if I still had any.

Like I said, a good parent has to detach themselves from certain outcomes in order for the child to experience the full lesson it contains for them. Perhaps that is what God was doing with me. He let me feel like it was finally okay if I wanted to stop teaching the principles. He set me free, and I truly feel more free than I’ve ever felt before to do what I choose. I feel His encouragement, and His unconditional acceptance, which is now allowing me to feel more joy in the work when I do choose to spend time with it.

That I’m not conducting teleclasses every week, or traveling for speaking engagements twice a month, the business income has declined. We’ve had to sell assets, and are preparing to downsize if that becomes necessary, too. But I wanted to breathe more than I wanted the money. Sure, I still insist that “there’s always a way,” but sometimes the objective, I’ve learned, isn’t always worth the sacrifice.

On the other side of these lessons, as I’m finding my breath again, I’m feeling more joy, too. I’m not numb anymore. There is tremendous joy in lofty achievement, but there’s also a sweet joy to be found in what is, just as it is right now.

I’ve been feeling greater joy again in the little things. I’m getting to know my kids better, too. My days are filled with conscious concern for each of their needs, and my time is spent setting goals and carrying them out for the purpose of addressing those needs.

It’s a leap of faith to focus on my mothering role more than my business roles, but it’s coming more naturally than ever before, and that’s a dream come true. I have no regrets over the way the last 10 years were spent – it was right for us at the time – and this change is right for us right now.

I’ve discovered that my teenagers need my attention a whole lot more than they did when they were little. With that in mind, I’m grateful that the bulk of my work was completed while they were young… a work I can return to more actively as they grow and leave the nest. I still work it now, but only a little bit each week – a perfect pace for our family in this stage of our development.

As for our debts, we started talking again with each of our creditors about what we could do to get them all paid. I was in contact with every one of them, some on a weekly basis, not because I really had anything to work with, but because I wanted them to know of my commitment to making things right. I began calling them faster than they were calling me, and found that most of them were more accommodating than they had been two years earlier, back when the pinch was the tightest.

It was interesting, because more than once I called a creditor to say, “I can’t pay what you’re asking, but I do have ‘x’ that I can send you right now…” and they’d say, “No, keep it… we’d prefer to settle with you when you have a larger chunk to lay down.”

So, I’d tell them what business activities were on the calendar and promised to let them know what we had to work with (if anything) after each event.

Long story short, as with my son’s Chemistry class, after all we could do, our efforts and intentions were still never enough. But once you know without reservation that you’ve done all you can do, and it still isn’t enough, there’s a sweet peace that comes over you and assures you that everything is going to be okay – that there’s a better path, and that it won’t be much longer before you find it.  As with my son’s class, maybe it means coming to peace with the idea of “withdrawing” from “class” (abandoning a goal) and finding a more realistic pace you can live with. After all…

Life is not a sprint.

We’re still finding our path, but we’re gathering clues along the way and we definitely feel guided.  A refinement is in process and we know it’s good.

Every life lesson is valuable. It’s all about finding joy in the journey. Our successes teach us a little, but our failures teach us the most. In a way, my husband and I are starting over, but this time with more wisdom, more experience, and more clarity on what we really want together. We feel more patience with ourselves and each other. Our long term goals don’t need to be realized in three months… after all, they’re long term goals.

And having reached our breaking point and finding out that we’re still alive, and can still think and do and make choices, we feel greater freedom than perhaps we have ever felt before.  The bank account may not reflect financial freedom yet, but we believe it will. We’ve shaken off societal expectations, we’ve unfettered ourselves of the need to “look successful”, and we’ve exposed, identified, and eradicated many of the unfair expectations we’ve had on each other.  If it had to take a major financial setback to bring those issues to the surface so we could address them, then how grateful I am for those setbacks.

Life is sweeter, our relationships are more tender, our family is stronger, our future is brighter, and best of all, it feels like our relationship with God is more alive and present.  I’ve come to the conclusion that the peace I felt about the prospect of my son failing Chemistry is the same peace I feel from my Father in Heaven about our financial failures: it’s going to be okay.

It’s all just a spider that showed up and is moving us to a place (figuratively speaking) where we can, I believe, receive greater blessings in the long run. As such, it will be fun to see where this leads us.

To wrap up:

I’m grateful that I was able to let go of the impossible expectations on my son, because it freed him up to discover his agency, and enact some new levels of personal leadership. They had been stifled as long as he had *me* to answer to for his performance in an impossible class. Whether he fails or succeeds, it’s okay, because I know there will be another new day, either way.

Just the same, after dropping off the map in May, my Father in Heaven helped me finally feel permission to release all the impossible expectations of myself, and it has opened the door for me to rediscover my free agency, and new levels of personal leadership.  (They had been stifled so long as I wasn’t letting up on myself, either.)

Through this metamorphosis, I’ve gained valuable wisdom, and an increase in happiness, especially because I’ve felt the Lord’s assurance that my failures aren’t fatal.

My disasters are simply like forest fires: they release new seeds, and always mark an exciting new beginning.

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Gurus are Human

47tips-gurus-are-human

I received an email this week that spawned an interesting conversation. I’ll share it here. Hector wrote:

How are your teachings different from all the dozens of gurus advertising out there?  I’m genuinely confused by inconsistencies from the gurus.

For example, Wattles wrote books about health and riches and then he died at 53, lost his bid for public office and to my knowledge he was still scrambling economically.

The author of Science of Miracles, Max Long Freedom committed suicide due to leg cancer while his group was in disarray and his wife left him.

Arthur Ray is in jail.

I honestly would like to come to terms with these inconsistencies.  Can you help me?

I didn’t verify his facts, but here was my response nonetheless:

Hi Hector,

That’s a fair question.  I think the bottom line is that each one of them is doing their best to make sense out of life and how it works, and they enthusiastically share the nuggets of wisdom they find along the way.  But just because you gain wisdom, it doesn’t mean you will always be the perfect example of how to live by that wisdom.  If gurus waited until they had perfected a principle before they shared it, only perfected people would have anything to share… and I think we know how many perfect people in the world there are not.

We as students need to separate the principles from the person sharing them or we will quickly become disenchanted, no matter who we choose to listen to.  I’ve been mentored by many a guru, and I’ve seen more than one fall off the pedestal on which I placed them – but that does not remove the value from the truths I learned from them.  Life has a way of delivering tougher and tougher challenges – when we’re ready for the next “lesson”, life delivers experiences to help us overcome and learn.  All the big gurus are still members of the human race, and will continue to face greater and greater challenges until the day they die.

You may solve the money problem, or you may overcome a health challenge, but growth only comes through opposition in one form or another, and frankly, we’re here to grow.  The answer is to learn all the wisdom you can, and apply the principles to your best ability, so that those challenges refine you and strengthen you instead of defeating you completely.  To get up every time you’re knocked down is success.

About each of the gurus you mentioned – only God knows how they faced, or are facing those challenges. The ultimate measure of success is whether you can find serenity and happiness in spite of the challenges that rage around you.  Whether or not you’re teachable enough to grow and learn and become a better person on the other side of the present challenge.

People think they need money to be happy.  People think they need to be in perfect health to be happy.  But the fact is, it’s happiness that is the goal – and some of the greatest people who ever lived were successful at finding happiness no matter what. I’ve had a lot of people go through my programs and find out that they can actually have what they want, and then they go get it, and then they discover that what they wanted didn’t bring them the happiness they thought it would, so they use the programs and principles on more carefully selected goals… and the good news is that it works for those, too.

We can be so quick to judge a person by their bank account, or their outward appearances – there will always be those in the media who love a good hero-to-failure story, but if we jump on that bandwagon of criticism, chances are, life will bring us through experiences of our own that teach us empathy instead of criticism, and to be more forgiving in our judgment on others.

We must try to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Any more, when I hear a story of a fallen guru, I immediately wonder about the “rest of the story” that the media isn’t sharing. I wonder about the person’s internal growth and what lessons they learned in those final days.  I feel that I could probably still learn something valuable from them, and how I would love to pick their brain and learn from their errors rather than wind up repeating them myself.

Anyway, some of the greatest lessons come from our failures, and God bless the man who shares those lessons in spite of his imperfections.

In answer to your other question, to find out how I’m different from other teachers, you see an article I wrote about that very topic at http://www.positivethinkingtips.org/human-empowerment-in-perspective/

Hope this helps,

Leslie

His response:

Leslie,

Thank you for your prompt and thoughtful reply. I still remember when doctors endorsed cigarettes in advertising. That didn’t take away the value of medicine.

I am going to reflect on all the good advice I give to others and to my children, but I don’t follow myself. This is going to be my task for the day.

Without coming to terms with the gurus’ inconsistencies I mentioned to you, I’m always going to poison my progress with doubt and cynicism. I have been infamously good at that all my life and it’s time to change it.

Thanks again.

Hector

PS: I finished the Rabbit book and watched your movie yesterday, and I’m registering for the 12 week Family Course Today.

I congratulate this reader for his astute conclusion. Gurus are human. I’ve shared plenty about my own challenges, even in spite of the pedestal on which some of my readers have placed me, and hope this conversation helps others view leaders in the proper light.

We should learn what we can from them, but ultimately we must all learn to enlist and trust the guidance that comes from God directly. Sometimes that guidance leads us to a guru – but I don’t think that it was ever meant to be a final destination. Each mentor or guru is there to help us get past our present obstacles, or move us through to the next level of happiness or success.

Whatever the case may be, trust that when the student is ready, the teacher will always appear. As students, it’s our job to keep growing, learning, and preparing ourselves for our next teacher.

Isn’t life FUN?!  It’s an adventure for sure!

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Releasing Bitterness

I received a letter that I don’t want to lose, and it has some valuable insights in it, so I’ll just post it here. My friend began her letter with a quote:

“It is my opinion that many really good teachers do not come from joyful households where all was easy. They come from a place of much pain and suffering, and they’ve worked through the layers to reach the place where they can now help others to become free. Most good teachers are continually working to release even more, to remove ever-deeper layers of limitation. This becomes a lifetime occupation.” Hay, Louise L. (2011-11-07). 21 Days to Master Affirmations (Kindle Locations 240-243). Hay House. Kindle Edition.

Leslie,

While I was reading this, I thought of you and all the times in the past year that you have mentioned in my hearing of your struggles to keep going despite the personal struggles you have had with the program and principles you teach.  Louise is the first “self-help” writer I ever read who actually HELPED me, when I read You Can Heal Your Life.  It was nearly twenty-five years ago, and I was becoming very ill.  I did not heal my body, but many things in my LIFE healed through what she taught me in that book.

I felt similar changes within myself when I began studying with you.  That is why I continued, why I pursued my Mentor Certification, why I continue to study, search, practice, and what Louise calls “release”, to move forward in my own life so I can learn enough to teach others with my own voice and not just parrot what I have learned.  Not that what I have learned is not good 🙂 you know that.  But you didn’t want “clones” to come out of your class, you wanted individual teachers who can help others.  Which is why I am still studying, expanding, searching.

I recently crossed paths with a young man in a parking lot.  We hit upon the topic of “bitterness” in our lives.  It made me realize that I still have a LOT of forgiving to do (my “hit list” of people I must forgive in order to free myself from the pain that holds me back in my own progression), and at age 60, now, I’d better get on with it! 🙂

Following the example of Goal Statements, I wrote it down.  I felt my pain pour out onto the page as I thanked God, in advance, for freeing me from the pain and bitterness of the memories I hold like a viper to my breast about these people.  It reminded me of the saying “Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die.”

I know I’m not totally free, yet.  It’s a list of four people, and two of them are still involved in my life as they are closely related family members.  But it was a start, and it felt SO GOOD!

Thank you for teaching me a way to start this!  If you ever need encouragement to keep going, please, please, PLEASE keep teaching, Leslie.  Our world needs what you so very capably teach.  I can’t imagine us without you.  I can’t imagine me being able to teach without you.  I can’t imagine how I would ever have healed as much as I have in the past two years without you and all I have learned FROM YOU.

If ever I can guide one other person onto this path of healing and peace for themselves, I will feel as if I have done you justice.  I do my best to give a “Jackrabbit” lesson to everyone who gives me the opportunity to work it into the conversation.

My usual signature to people I care about is “Love and Hugs,” but I want you to know that with this letter, it is so much more than that.  I just don’t know how to say it.

Love and Hugs,
Jan 🙂

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