American Phrase Friday


“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.”

-Thomas Paine

Busy Busy Busy….. Too Busy?

businessbusy-1-750x400We’re busy. Very busy. Some of you might be reading this post later in the week because you couldn’t even finish your cup of coffee Monday morning. If that’s the case, and you came back, great! Thank you! If it is Monday morning, and you are sitting at your computer reading this, thank you for making me a part of your beginning-of-the-week craze. You rock!

Anyway, back to the post. America is a very driven country. Almost every time we’ve set our mind to something, we’ve done it. “I am convinced that we will reach the moon in this decade…” You know what I’m talking about. But I feel, and bear in mind that this is my personal opinion, that the flip side of all this drive and future-building stuff is harmful. In decent amounts, yes. It’s great. But when it becomes an obsession, and all we strive for or think about is reaching that next moon, we lose something. We become zombie-like, hungering for one thing and oblivious to everything else. We get lost in our crazed yearning for the wonders of tomorrow, not today.

It’s not a crime to take every now and then and just…. smell the roses. It’s not illegal to keep an evening clear because  you want to treat yourself and eat some chocolate, then go to bed early.  Yes, the future is always shifting. It’s not a constant. One moon that was within reach yesterday might not be tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean we have to push for it 24/7. Yes, it’s always shifting, but it’s also always there. It can wait a day or two for you to take a breather.

Constantly moving doesn’t mean you’ll reach the moon faster. It means you’ll reach it, but you will have missed the stars.

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times….


Yeah, I know. Dickens wasn’t American, but he was an amazing author. And he had a point. Right now…. yes. Things are bad. It doesn’t matter where you stand on certain political issues, or when you think the Third World War will take place, things suck. It’s the ‘worst of times’.

And then there are leaps in technology, wonderful acts of human love, courage, generosity. There are moments that make you sit back and think, “Man. Life is good.” Then it’s the ‘best of times’.

It’s always the ‘best of times, the worst of times’. No period is ever perfect, and no period is ever without the moments that make it special. In the good ‘ole days, bad things were still happening.

Chris Rice wrote a song called 8th Grade. In it, one of the chorus lines is, “Why does the past always seem safer? / Maybe because at least we know we made it.” Yes, we made it. We made it out of the worst of times. Who says we can’t do it again? Who says that the American Dream isn’t what it was? It’s ALWAYS the worst of times, and it’s ALWAYS the best of times. Life isn’t going to be perfect, not by a long shot. But we can own it, and we can share the best of times with everyone. Things are always bad. But you know what?

We always come out stronger.

American Phrase Friday

Benjamin_Franklin_1767I know I’ve been missing this one a lot lately, so I’ll try and make up for it in this post. All these quotes are from Poor Richard’s Almanac, by Benjamin Franklin.

“Do good to thy friend to hold him, to thy enemy to gain him.”

“Look before, or you’ll find yourself behind. By diligence and patience the mouse bit in two the cable.”

“There are no fools so troublesome as those who have wit.”

“Three may keep a secret….if two of them are dead.”

Little Things


This is just something that I have become more and more aware of recently: the little things matter. I cringe at how cliché that sounds, but they do. The little things matter. I have stressed the freedom we American teens have of carving amazing futures for ourselves using what our country has given us, but I’ve come to realize that the big futures aren’t the only things waiting for us over the horizon of 21.

Some of us are going to shine out as figures in history, and some aren’t. That’s okay. Great, even. If every single plant on this earth were as tall and grand as the red oaks in California, then we’d never find a bouquet of flowers, and the bees wouldn’t be able to make honey. If all the stars were suns, the heat would kill us. If every rock was a diamond, we’d throw them away faster than you could say Jack Rabbit.  What I’m trying to say is that, if you want to live a quiet life with the ones you love, that’s not a bad thing. I think that the Incredibles summed this up pretty well. “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

The giants of our country can’t stand without the help of the citizens, the flowers are just a beautiful as the trees, the stars make shapes the sun could only dream of. Even if we’re never famous, even if people never know our names, or remember who we are years after we’re gone, we will have helped the next famous person onto their mountain by just…… being. We don’t need to be big, or rich, or powerful to make a difference. We can do that right here, right where we are in the middle of this big, famous country. We don’t need to be important to matter.

I’m not saying that we should give up on our dreams of Olympic gold, or seeing your name in print, or hearing a song you wrote on the radio. Those dreams are beautiful. But, if you don’t have a dream like that, you’re not ‘messed up’, you don’t need to be big to shine. So just….. be. And don’t worry!

Cookie Cutter Personalities

cookiecutters_all_1024x1024The nerd. The flirt. The jock. The loner. The bookworm. The student. Cookie-Cutter Personality. The ones you read about, the ones you hear people talk about. Oh, you never miss a Yankee game? You’re a sports buff! You dress conservatively? Home schooled/sheltered. I know you already!

You and I both know that that’s not true. Our tvs and books scream so, they’re shouting it in our faces. But we know that there is more to a stranger than meets the eye. Cookie Cutter Personalities exist, they’re referenced, even taken advantage of. But they’re not us. They don’t have to be us.

Here in America, in this amazing and beautiful country, we all know that each person is someone. That they have a life, surprises, stories, things that make them 100% them. Nothing about us is factory-made! If you see someone that’s different, we don’t freak because we can’t find a label for them! We think, “That’s them, I’m me. We don’t have to be the same.”

Too much of the same makes me think of the droid army from the Star Wars Prequels. They’re not alive, they don’t have feelings, dreams, or aspirations that only they can achieve. They were pre-programmed for one role, and one role only. Never any more or less. Americans? We can soar with eagles, we can fall into the depths of the sea, and no one thinks that’s who we are. We’re free to live; to explore and find what our life is made of. Sure, we might cookie-cutter ourselves a bit. I enjoy reading, that doesn’t mean that all I’ll ever be is a bookworm. We can just…… live. We can be us, and no one judges it. I’m me, you’re you, and we’re beautiful the way we are.

The Happiness Folder Strategy


1Life sucks sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t. We all know this. We also know that, unless we want to make ourselves miserable, focusing on the bad stuff is…. well…. bad.  So we all remember the good stuff.

The A in Geometry, a casual complement, we all focus on these things when the going gets rough. But, if you’re like me, then there are days when you’re just fed up and can’t remember as many happy memories as you’d like.

My Mom is an amazing person and, several years ago, she gave me a really cool idea. We call it the Happiness Folder. Every time I receive a thoughtful note, or a good grade, or anything like that, it gets put in the Happiness Folder, which then gets referred to when yours truly has a terrible day. It’s amazing! Complements that I had forgotten I’d been given sit in there, and it’s wonderful to look at! I don’t go to it only on the bad days, either. It’s great to look at a great job review in the morning! It gives me that, “Yes, I can do it!” vibe, which is really awesome to feel on Mondays.

By focusing on all the good, instead of all the bad, it improves us as people. And it improves us as Americans. Just because people don’t like what we have to say doesn’t mean that others feel the same way about us. If we focus on all the good, the glass is half-full, and America is amazing. It does something to your worldview. I don’t know what, but remembering and sharing good to put in whatever kind of Happiness Folders we or our friends might have changes people.

Below I’ve shared a video that shows how awesome this is!