Monthly Archives: March, 2011

Glossophobia – originally posted July 9, 2009

March 6th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

According to the intensive .16 second long research I just did on the web, we humans are full of phobias. Ranking relatively high – though quite below fear of spiders – is glossophobia, fear of public speaking.

In general, this one passed me by. While I certainly get nervous before teaching a class or giving a public address, I love speaking before a group. And so it came about that when my husband was going to miss his weekly radio show (KSFO, Sundays 1-4) because they have not yet rigged commercial airplanes to accommodate traveling hosts, I agreed to fill in for him. After all, how hard could it be to chatter for three hours? My daughters and I have been known to keep conversations going for far longer than that, often with four or five of us chiming in at the same moment. (This has the side effect of terrifying young husbands who have grown up with only one sister.)

For anyone who is thinking of a career in radio, let me share some hard earned wisdom. When you are talking into a studio microphone, the microphone doesn’t smile, nod its head or respond in any other way. There is zero immediate feedback telling you whether you are being witty and wise or interminably dull and dim-witted. This is most unnerving.

Despite having diligently prepared my opening remarks and having timed them to get me to the first commercial break, I was acutely uncomfortable. For all I knew, I could just as well be reciting Longfellow ballads into the air and indeed might be reduced to doing so by the third hour.

Fortunately, just after the first break the lines began to ring with callers commenting on my thoughts. You can be quite sure that I was heaping blessings on their heads and getting a particular thrill from the homeschooling mom who is a Musings reader, at the same time that I was worrying if the calls would continue. All in all, the three hours were a combination of enjoyable stretches punctuated by moments of terror.

Since marrying my husband, I have done innumerable new and unusual things. Whether it was crossing the Pacific in a sailboat or sitting in Barbra Streisand’s house while she asked my opinion of a new song, or eating a kosher meal in Arkansas with Governor and Mrs. Huckabee, my life has taken some unanticipated paths. Who knew that even something that I thought I knew how to do, like talking, would get a different and out of the ordinary twist?

 

 

 

Prime Choice

March 2nd, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Why do some people succeed in life while others fail? You know the answer. For the most part, folks fail because they did not do what they should have done back when they needed to do it. They may also not be doing what they should be doing right now.

See, we all know the road to success. Do what you must do when you must do it. Not what you want to do. Not when you get around to it. Do what you must do when you must do it and the world is yours.

For some people it may mean adopting then keeping to a healthy diet from this moment. For others it could mean doing whatever it takes right now to protect and nurture a marriage. It could mean taking immediate and necessary steps to rid oneself of an addiction. For many it means finding a job, finding a second job or starting a business—today!

This is all really very simple. Do what you need to do when you need to do it. Unfortunately, however, this simple but true formula leaves us utterly baffled by a perplexing puzzle. If the road to success is so well marked, why do so many of us fail at so many of the things we consider truly important?

It takes another question to best illustrate ancient Jewish wisdom’s explanation for why so many of us fail at doing precisely what we know so well we ought to do.

Read this verse:

I call heaven and earth today to bear witness for you that I have placed before you
life and death, blessing and curse; and you shall choose life…
(Deuteronomy 30:19)

Here’s the question: If life and death are the choices before us, who in his right mind would choose death? What sane individual would choose curse over blessing? Why should God need to sagely recommend that we choose life and blessing? Who would do otherwise?

In reality, we face these choices many times each day. Frequently the wrong path is the more appealing one.

God has put us in a world with not only physical gravity but also spiritual gravity. Yes, it takes far more effort to climb up the stairs than down. It takes far more effort to lift a weight than it takes to drop it. It takes far more fuel for an airplane to attain cruising altitude after takeoff than it takes for the same aircraft to descend back to earth prior to landing.

Similarly, it is far harder to keep to a diet than it is to let oneself go. It is far harder to stick to a project that needs doing than to abandon it for an evening’s entertainment. It is harder to keep a marriage going than to walk away and it is harder to do one’s work when it needs to be done than it is to make excuses.

Yes, most of us know what we ought to do. The problem is that God built a system of spiritual gravity that resists our every attempt to improve ourselves and our lives. We should be happy about this for the same reason that weightlifters and athletes are happy that gravity exists. Without it, everyone would be able to bench-press four hundred pounds and run a four minute mile, but these bogus accomplishments would achieve nothing. In His kindness, God gives us opportunities to confront spiritual and moral challenges allowing us to grow and thrive.

Knowing the secret to success is far different from traveling that path. Rarely do the divergent paths of life or death confront us head on. Instead, we make choices during countless, seemingly unimportant, daily moments. Being aware that small actions lead to a critical finish line makes it easier to steadily move in the right direction. Choose life!

Financial realities dictate that we raise the price of the 5 audio CD Biblical Blueprint Set. We will do so next week, in order to give you a last chance to purchase them at the present low price. Take some time to look around the treasure trove of wisdom found in these CDs and discover the fuel they provide for making wise choices.

Stop Waiting for Superman

March 1st, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

What will it take to turn lower income parents into single issue voters? In his book, Leave us Alone, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, suggests that while the average voter cares about a number of topics, for many of us, one concern dominates. Politicians, both on the right and the left, may line up on many issues, but you do occasionally see an independent streak. When that happens the logical thing would be for people to say, “Well, I disagree with Candidate X in one area, but agree with him on nine others. He has my vote.” That isn’t always how it works. Frequently there is a ‘deal breaker’. There are those who will never vote for a politician who supports abortion rights, no matter if that person shares their views on gun control and taxation. Other voters will punish a legislator who opposes gay marriage, even though her thoughts on every other topic align with their own. Few of us feel that way about obscure regulation. Generally, there are limited hot button issues which decide us one way or another. These are also the matters that get us to speak to our neighbors, write letters to the editor and even show up for demonstrations.

I was thinking of this as I was brought to tears by Davis Guggenheim’s documentary, Waiting for Superman. The film draws you into the lives of a few children, showing how the teachers’ unions and educational bureaucracy cruelly condemn children to failure. We meet parents sacrificing and struggling to get their children a good education, and cringe as they are thwarted by ‘the system’. Towards the end of the film, we observe auditoriums filled with families holding their breath to see if they win a lottery – not one that will pay out with cash, but rather one that pays out hope. Will or won’t their children be picked to fill the limited number of places available in a charter school?

Watching the documentary, I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if these parents and the thousands like them who want the opportunity to choose their children’s school, recognized the political clout they have.  What would happen if they and their allies told each and every politician running for office, “Before you get my vote I need a solemn, public commitment that you will support any and every bill to expand charter schools and resist any and every effort to regulate, constrict or limit them. I don’t want to hear speeches about your vote or explanations or hemming and hawing. I simply want your promise and I will hold you to that commitment.” If these same parents and those who support them were vocal about school choice being their one defining issue and voted in that manner, I think they could achieve what years of tears and prayers have not. The teachers’ unions may control politicians through monetary clout, but I do believe that passionate parents can overcome that edge if they realized, believed in, and actualized their own power.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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