Why Do You Do What You Do Each Day?

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Kindred Spirits II

“Kindred Spirits” acrylic on canvas

What makes you get up in the morning? Is it a loved one? Is it your children or a mad desire to plan and organize? Is it a purposeful job that gets your creative juices going?

Why do you do what you do? Are your efforts passion driven for the sake of enjoyment and fulfillment or do you dread every moment and wish you were doing something else?

A paycheck drives most of us. Without it none of our dreams can come true. But in spite of that, if you’re born to create, nothing, not money, road blocks, handicaps or problems can keep you from doing what you were born to do.

Some people keep plodding along for the “fringe benefits:” a company car, health care supplements and bonuses.  Entrepreneurs build businesses so they may have more freedom to pursue their personal vision of success. Fringe benefits come through tax breaks, incentives and the “cost of doing business.”

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“Moonlight Magic” 11×14 acrylic on canvas

Human behavior is usually based on “what’s in it for me.” In negotiations, the buyer and seller must agree on what’s mutually beneficial to both. When someone does something nice for us, we feel like reciprocating; it’s a two-way street.

On a more personal level, when someone is kind to us, we are more likely to be kind to someone else. Every action has a reaction. Give a negative remark or a physical rebuff in a moment of impatience and watch the domino affect disperse outward to everyone else; cause and effect.

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“Broken Hearted” 11×14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready to frame

Don’t confuse loud, obnoxious behavior with strength. There is great power in self-containment. A person who can face the world unafraid without having to dominate every situation is strong and in control. Self-confidence is built on clear, concise choices that build bridges not walls.

Tickles from God

“Tickles from God” acrylic on canvas

There is a Biblical phrase that says: “Cast your bread upon the water and it will come back to you.” We get what we give. If you are always out to “get people” before they get you that’s what you will receive in the end. Life has a way of dealing honestly with us. Even our faces at the end of life can betray what kind of a life we have lived and how much love we have given away.

Note that I didn’t say “how much love we have received.” I made a point of saying “how much love we have given away.” Like the bread (action) that is scattered on the water, our deeds will come back to us in greater measure. The more we shed light and love upon others, the greater the portion that comes back to us.

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

“A Joyful Heart,” 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready to frame

Some people wallow in self pity thinking that they never get enough of life’s goodness and pleasure. They hold on so tightly to what they have that they smother any chances for expansion or growth. In order to receive, we must first be an influence for good. If you don’t believe it, see what happens when you smile at someone in a long line of people.

Some will shy or turn away, after all, you’re a stranger. But don’t give up. Keep a positive attitude. Continue to smile. If someone bumps into you and apologizes, accept their apology. Don’t always be on the defensive. Not everyone is out to get you. Do some apologizing of your own. Thank people for their courtesy.

Now imagine every smile, every positive action radiating outward and repeated by others who pass your goodwill on to someone else. Like waves on the ocean, the tide shifts outward and inward. The ripple effect comes back to you with more positive vibes than you sent out in the first place.

Sibling Rivalry – the Bratty Brawls between Brothers and Sisters

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My husband’s son and his family.

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My sister’s son and his family.

My oldest sister who passed from this earth over a year ago was my inspiration; but only in later years when, with maturity and age, we became friends.

As children, we shared a double bed in a tiny room with one dormer window. We had no closet, but hung our clothes on the back of the bedroom door and on the door of the hallway that led to our room. Also in the hall was a chest. We each had a drawer; the other three contained towels for the small bathroom a step away.

The bathroom had one small window which you could only see out of when you sat on the throne. If you stood up in the tub, you would likely hit your head on the sloping ceilings. This awkward bathroom served our family of four, and then eventually five until my parents were able to afford a bigger place.

My sister had strict rules on how we shared our space. She was almost five years older than me; and, of course, taller, so I listened out of fear. She once drew an imaginary line down the middle of the bed and threatened to tickle me if I crossed it.

Tickles from God

“Tickles from God” acrylic on canvas.

Her tickling torments lasted an eternity, or so it felt. She sat astride me and tickled my stomach, my neck and pits until I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die! If the sessions hadn’t been stopped by an angry relative, I may have.

She and my older cousins ganged up on the younger ones by chasing us with angleworms and eventually throwing them at us. I had angleworm nightmares for nights afterward. They told us ghost stories that haunted our dreams and sent us running in fright to our parents. We were gullible and they used this knowledge to keep us in line.

Granted, my sister had reason to be peeved. I was her little shadow and followed her everywhere. Sometimes she was required to babysit me and take me with her wherever she went. I was a constant drag on her social life.

Once she convinced me that she had picked a miniature cherry that held magical powers because it was eaten by fairies. The tiny red ball sat atop her finger and I wanted the prize. I stood on tiptoe and begged her to let me taste it. With regal authority she allowed me to lick her fingertip. I tasted nothing. When she began to laugh, I knew she had tricked me.

“You ate my blood,” she boasted. “You licked my finger and ate my blood!” She was doubled over with laughter. She told everyone we knew.

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“Broken Hearted” 11×14 pastel, matted and ready to frame.

I was crestfallen. She had pricked her finger and then made a fool out of me. I felt small and stupid. She had also broken the bond of trust between us. I would never be fooled again.

I got even later when I was a teen and she worked a part time job and had more clothes than I did. After she left in the morning, I’d help myself to one of her outfits and go off to school. By the time she returned, I was already home and changed. My mother didn’t approve, but she never intervened. This was a battle between me and my sister.

My daring behavior lasted for weeks until an unfortunate accident revealed my secret. The explosion was more than I’d expected. As I saw it, she had many clothes, and I had few. Plus most of my clothes were her hand-me-downs, anyway. It wasn’t fair!

After her discovery, we became bitter enemies. I was jealous of her and she resented me. We barely spoke until she married and had her first child. Then childish rivalry faded away and we developed a solid relationship based on respect and family ties.

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My oldest son and third daughter sharing some fun.

My own children squabbled over minor things and fought for the attention of their parents. When you share a mom and dad between three brothers and three sisters there is bound to be jealousy and envy. When my oldest was finally old enough to watch her younger brothers and sisters, I was elated.

Pam was always more mature than her young years and I trusted her judgment. When I returned to the sounds of wails and anger, my high hopes plummeted. She and her brother, only 14 months younger, came wailing to the door with their sad tales.

“She’s not the boss of me,” Chris complained.

“He wouldn’t do what I told him,” Pam responded. “He broke my Barbie doll,” she cried as she showed me the headless beauty.

“She hit me over the head,” Chris bawled. “She broke my guitar,” his volume increased as he showed me the broken strings and the chipped wood. The guitar had been a gift; a cheap handmade guitar that had served its purpose many years ago.

After that incident, I made a decision to put Chris in charge half of the time because of the closeness in their ages. This seemed to work out well, and they were able to respect the one who had the ruling hand at least for an hour or two.

Brothers often roll on the floor and beat each other to a pulp to resolve their differences. Sisters usually cry, scream and destroy the property of their rival. By the time we all grow up, the anger fades and the memories become the threads that bind our common history together. Sibling rivalry is inevitable, but the rewards far outweigh the struggle and help to prepare us for the brutal world beyond the comforts of home.