Sharing with you things that are on my mind...Maybe yours too. Come back to Wrights Lane for a visit anytime!

30 July, 2011

REACH FOR THE VERY BEST FROM WITHIN

In a matter of hours (two sleeps) July, 2011 will be the month that was.  While other parts of the world experienced environmental disasters, civil strife, economic downturns and man's inhumanity to man this past month, we here in God's country continued to be blessed in every way possible.

As we contemplate the month of August and plan the rest of our summer, we would do well to make a promise to ourselves to act out of love and inspiration, not out of need or obligation.  As we visit with family and friends in our leisure and enjoy everything that summer has to offer, we can be free to reach for the very best within ourselves.  It's really all about eliminating the potential to incur or experience  negative reactions which tend to impede us on our journey through life.

Now go and enjoy a very positive long weekend!  I plan to.

26 July, 2011

Resolving to not care about something does not mean that you are no longer a caring person. It simply means that you will not allow yourself to worry about it nor let it influence you in a negative way. --Dick Wright

25 July, 2011

DO YOU CARE ENOUGH NOT TO CARE?

Following along with the "caring/not caring" theme introduced in my previous post, I was taken by something astrologer-philosopher Jonathon Cainer said the other day:  "Feeling good is not always related to what you've got or what you are striving for.  Sometimes, it is linked to how little you care!"

On the surface that may seem like a strange statement, but I know what Jonathon was driving at.  You can be missing out on many things in life, but if you are content with the few things you actually do have, you won't care about the others.  Sometimes too, when we are attempting to overcome a bad habit or struggling to loose weight, quit smoking or dealing with any number of other addictions, satisfaction is directly linked to finding the ability to give up on something we have come to rather like and is readily available to us.  In this case we have to work on not caring about what we are giving up.

It is all a matter of degree.  How little we care about something, or how much we do care.  There is an up side to caring as well as a down side.  We have to be careful and selective.

And in following our heart we should not be deterred by what others may think.

23 July, 2011

COME ON, WHO CARES WHAT OTHERS THINK

I was thinking the other day how most of my life I have allowed myself to be influenced by what others may think of me -- my actions, the way I talk, the way I write, the way I look.  I have a feeling that many of my generation too were raised to consider what other people may think, in fact I can still hear my mother chastising me with "What would your family think?  What would the neighbors think?  What would our friends think?  In time a certain paranoia sets in and it influences every decision we ever make.

I can't really pinpoint when I began to smarten up and let my heart influence what I do and what I say, but it took most of my life to get over the "what will people think" syndrome.  Oh, I get in trouble sometimes, but for the most part it feels pretty good.

There are two types of decision makers in the world. The first are internal decision makers. These are the people who self-analyze every step, every option, every possible outcome and never talk it through with others. This doesn't mean they don't care about the opinions of others.  In fact, my experience is that it is quite the opposite. They've been burned so many times, they choose to make their decisions on their own as a way of avoiding being rejected.

The second is an external decision maker. These people constantly seek the opinions of others, asking for their approval in ways such as, "Do you like this idea?," "Am I right?," "Are we in the right place?," "Am I doing the right thing" and "Are we okay?" They're thought of as team players because they want to get everyone involved in their process. They simply can't move forward without the validation from others.

The addiction to the opinion of others affects areas of your life you may not even be aware of.   For example, your decision to live in a particular neighborhood, drive a certain car, send your kid to private school, wearing designer labels, the watch around your wrist, the vacations you go on, the clubs you belong to, all of these things are tied to what someone else thinks.

The addiction to what other people think has another significant impact; it represses us, which in turn keeps us in a sort of purgatory, afraid of the consequences of pursuing the life we really want. 

Since we are the stories we tell ourselves, as one writer put it, they impact the way we behave.   "When we release from an old story, we let go of our self-imposed conversations and traps that keep us stuck. In the process, we become more sure of ourselves, become more expressive and are more likely to make decisions that move our life forward because we're no longer living from that story that has been holding us back."

The only way to have complete freedom from this addiction is not to worry about the outcome other than think positive about it.   It takes practice and courage to not place any level of importance on someone else's opinion.   An opinion is not fact.   It may not even be the truth.   It is merely someone else's view about an issue that is based solely on personal judgment and therefore should not have any impact on our choices.

So this weekend put on those shorts that you haven't worn for a while because you've put on too much weight -- who cares -- sit out in your back yard with a cool glass of something and sing and laugh out loud to your heart's content.  Who cares what those old fogey neighbors might think.

"Who cares", that's the ticket!

20 July, 2011

THREE GENERATIONS OF CRAWLING BEFORE WE COULD WALK

I have an affinity for old things.  I have a lot of old things, in fact I am an "old thing".  So why should I keep my old things to myself?  My philosophy is "why not share my old things with others who too enjoy old things.

On a bar room bet, Ernest Hemmingway once wrote a six-word story about "never-worn" baby shoes that were "on sale".  While I'm no Hemmingway, I too have a story about baby shoes, but in this case they were well worn -- by my grandfather, by my father and me.

Photographed above are prized old baby shoes worn by three generations of the Wright family.  On the left are surprisingly well-preserved genuine leather shoes worn by my grandfather Wesley as a toddler, 1849-'50.  In the middle are colorful, red boots worn by my father Kennth, probably for a short period, 1899-1900 as her learned to walk.  On the right are bronzed shoes (originally white in color) that were worn by me as I took my first steps in the year 1939 on the same hard wood floor on Sydenham Street in Dresden as my father some 40 years before.

It is interesting to note that my left baby shoe was worn (tilts) more to one side.  To this day I wear out the heels on my left shoe in the same manner.

As I hobble along now on two repaired feet and ankles, I give thanks for every step I have taken in life -- and for those three pairs of old baby shoes that helped start it all for us.

17 July, 2011

O' YES, I REMEMBER THEM WELL

READER RESPONSE:  "Hi Dick. I enjoyed your books on Dresden and Wrights Lane. I too grew up in Dresden. My name is Robert (Bob)Hedden. son of Margaret & Harold Hedden. I grew up in Dresden and now reside in Wallaceburg.  I enjoyed your story about my Dad the local Constable sending you home because you were late.  I knew your Mom from Carr's Drug Store/McTavish.

"I delivered newspapers  and groceries for Gerry Weese and then learned a trade in the meat business from Hugh Farnsworth.  I have very fond memories of my hometown. I have every book published about the town now including yours.  Also old newspapers.  I have thought about organizing what I have and attempting to put together stories of the people I knew growing up.  My sons will kid me about my trips down memory lane with our grand children or whoever will listen to me.  Rosey Johnson mentioned Hook Davis coaching him in one of your blogs.  Hook had a sister Norma who became my mother-in-law. I married her first born daughter, Linda, 44 years ago. 

"It was nice to read Dick Turner's comments.  I am not sure if he still remembers me.  I visited their house on Centre Street when we were kids.  Dick (Turner) and I are about the same age.  It was great to hear their mother is still alive. I have fond memories of their father Roy also.

"Dick Wright keep writing those stories.  It takes you back to a much simpler time."

--Bob Hedden
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I am always gratified when I receive these types of comments on my "Dresden blog" and two fairly recently-published books, Wrights Lane...Come On In and Dresden Life Remembered.  Hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from someone completely out of the blue.

Just recently I received surprise coincidental email messages from three (I almost said "boys") let's say middle-aged men who grew up in Dresden in the 1950s and 60s.  They share a number of things in common -- a love of their home town, a compulsion to reminisce and talk about "the good old days", and a belief that I do not remember them when in fact I remember them and their families like it was yesterday.

Bob Hedden, Dick Turner and Dennis Webster are all about the same age and it is only natural to think that an older guy (me, then a teenager) in a small town would not notice them, or even be aware of their existence.  After all, I was admittedly not the most gregarious teen in those days.

The most recent message from Bob Hedden is published above as a case in point.  With great feeling Bob introduces himself and talks about growing up in Dresden, his parents, his first job(s) and a certain young lady with whom he now celebrates 44 years of marriage.  I write this post primarily to prove to Bob (as I have in similar responses to Dick and Dennis *see their comments to the right) that I not only remember him, but a lot of other things that might surprise him.  Here goes...

I remember Bob's parents and grand parents even before he was born.  Harold and Margaret Hedden lived the first few years of their marriage with Margret's parents, the Henderson's.  The Henderson home was on Hughes Street (cor. West Street) across from my Aunt Hattie Sharpe.  As a matter of fact, Margaret went to school with my cousin, Norma Johnston (Sharpe).  Harold, of Irish parentage and originally from Hensall, worked for a while just down the street at the O. and W. McVean (Hub and Spoke) factory before becoming a member of the town's two-man police force.

On hot summer days a tiny diaper-clad Bob could be seen frolicking in a playpen on the Henderson's front lawn and then sprouting up to become a young lad about town as Margaret and Harold added substantially to the family circle.  I am not completely sure, but I think that Bob was the first of at least a half dozen other Hedden siblings. 

Besides my Aunt Hattie, her adult son Jim, and the Baverstock family that rented a portion of her house, I also remember many of the other Hughes Street neighbours in those days, many of which Bob would be familiar with:  The next-door Howells (former police chief), the Cooks, McCrackens, Frasers, Tassies, Andersons, Rigsbys, Weeses (former mayor) and renters the Morgans, Houstens and the other Sharpes, May and Ern.  A little further up Hughes Street were the Brassetts, Martins, Johnsons, Carrs, Rev. Newtons, Morrisons and Aubry Buttler, the Yontz, Slaghts, Goodmans; and last but by no means the least, the Wells and son Keith.  

How am I doing so far, Bob?  Have I got you convinced?

Not much unusual about my recollections, really...It's all part and parcel of life in a small town where everyone knows everyone else.  No need for "Neighbourhood Watch" in those days, it just came naturally.  Of course some of us have longer memories than others and we appreciate opportunities to share them. 

Nothing wrong in revisiting where we came from if it makes us feel good and satisfies a need within us.  As Bob puts it: "It was a much simpler time then!"...and always nice to remember.

11 July, 2011

A NIGHTCAP THAT LASTED A LIFETIME

When was the last time you had a nightcap?

Answers to that question could vary depending on one's imbibing habits.  Of course it depends too on what kind of nightcap you are talking about -- the drinking variety or the type that you wear on your head.  The term "nightcap" also applies to the second game of a doubleheader (two games) in baseball.

For me, the answer to the original question would be that I've had a nightcap all my life.  It actually belonged to my father before me and in this case he wore it to bed on cold winter nights.  It wasn't just any kind of nightcap, it was the creation of my Aunt Hattie Sharpe and given to my dad as a Christmas gift.  There was no front or back to the cap but the name "Ken" was embroidered in blue thread on what could naturally be assumed as the front, but it didn't matter when putting it on in the dark anyway.

There was no heat in the upstairs of our house in the 1930s and 40s and Ken had been complaining for some time that his bald head was cold at night in winter and while there were a lot of laughs when he opened his gift and promptly modelled it, he was extremely appreciative of his sister-in-law's thoughtful handiwork.

I have always prized that old nightcap that has survived 70 years (see photo) and have it displayed on a shelf in my office-den along with a lot of other family relics.  Strangely, in my mind's eye, I always associate the nightcap with the parodied poem "The Night Before Christmas":  "...Mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter's nap..."

Strange as it may seem, there is comfort in this for me.

09 July, 2011

THE ART OF LISTENING IS A GOOD THING

Listening with half an ear is one of my pet peeves, topping a list that includes hearing only what one wants to hear and convenient, selective hearing.  Those of us who are lifetime public communicators learn very early in the game to rationalize these traites, but they can be a challenge at times.
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Most of us, if questioned, would pay lip service to being a good listener.  But, honestly, how good are we at listening?

In order for us to hold our own and to function effectively in today's society we are required to communicate and that involves conversing a lot in both social and business settings -- endless meetings, encounters and conversations.  A common perception is that it is not necessarily what you say that matters, but how forceful and glib you were in saying it.

How often have you been involved in a conversation and felt that the other party(s) was not really listening to you?  How often have you thought that the point you were trying to make really did not sink in and you wonder after-the-fact how you could have made more impact and held the interest of your listener(s)?

My take is that frequently, we all generally find ourselves thinking more about what we are going to say next in a conversation, than about whatever someone else has just said, losing sight of the fact that we may be giving the impression of disinterest.   

I honestly think that listening is a lost art today, but if we want to make progress in sensitive situations we should do less talking and more undivided, wholehearted listening.  To my mind, it is a common courtesy too.

We can fulfill a natural self-serving impulse to be clever and dominate in our conversations, but not at the expense of the necessity to listen and to be seen as a genuinely attentive listener.

06 July, 2011

DEGREE OF TRUTH IN MY MALAPROPISM?

Rosanne's gift for unintentional "malapropisms" is starting to rub off on me.  I take full credit for one today that cracked up even me, if I do say so myself.

By means of explanation, I had just done a special favour for Rosanne which she acknowledged by saying: "Thanks. I hope you know that every time you do something for me I love you a little more, if that's possible!"

Me:  "Well, you know what they say...Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder!"

Don't know what made me think of that.

01 July, 2011

A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL'S 12 STEPS TO "LIFE THAT IS WAITING" FOR HIS GRADUATE STUDENTS

Telling it like it is in terms that kids can understand
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At a recent Grade 8 graduation ceremony,  Principal Dan Russell thanked his G. C. Huston Public School students, parents and teachers in Southampton for work accomplished throughout the year and delivered some words of advice to the graduates that deserve repeating.  In fact, his remarks are so impressive and relevant today that I feel they are worth readers of this site passing them on to all young people of their acquaintance.
DAN RUSSELL

The community-minded Russell, a man of intense energy, acknowledged that there have been "incredible changes in technology, communications, television viewing choices and the way we educate".   Despite the many changes, he emphasized that there are some things that have remained the same and that are "constant and appropriate, despite our changing world".   He referred to them as "The 12 Things that Life is Waiting for..."  The following are in part, his Life steps:

1. Life is waiting for those who treat their body like a temple, not a tent. It is your life so take care of it ... stay away from fashion magazines, they will only make you feel frumpy ... eat well, exercise regularly and don't smoke. Nicotine is a drug just like all the other bad ones.

2. Life is waiting for positive participants rather than negative onlookers ... boredom is self-inflicted ... develop a hunger for learning worthwhile things and never let it go. The world is a fascinating place, the things God has created are much more wonderful and fascinating than what man has come up with. No one can force-feed learning, it has to be a conscious decision on your part to fully participate in the process ... develop a positive attitude ... life is waiting for those willing to develop their brains in directions that will really pay off in later life.

3. Life is waiting for those who become loyal friends ... laugh and giggle a lot, mostly at yourself. A true friend will put a finger on your faults without rubbing them in ... stay away from people that are mean or who are proud of making stupid choices.

4. You can't be brilliant in all things ... remember life is sometimes waiting for those who emulate Winnie-the-Pooh, who had little brain but an enormous heart.

5. Read! Life is waiting for those are avid readers ... read everything, especially good fiction ... good books will develop your imagination ... what we need in this information age is wisdom. It is your generation that will have to acquire the moral imagination to solve some of the great ethical problems that have been created by previous generations with all their knowledge.

6. Life is waiting for those who recognize where their strengths and weaknesses are ... I believe we were put on this earth to make it a better place than it was before we got here ... work to discover what it is you are good at, but it must be positive and constructive ... do something to make the world more beautiful ... life is waiting for those who listen to and respect their elders ... love your parents and family.

7. Life is waiting for those who strive to be creators of circumstance rather than simply creatures of circumstance ... don't guess at or wish about things, make them happen ... move to get educated as much as you can ... recognize not only the difference between the best and the worst in life but also the difference between the best and second best ... never give up and don't be astonished if you don't succeed the first time.

8. Life is waiting for those who take time to be alone with themselves ... don't get over-busy ... learn to pray, you can make better judgement calls about what is truly important to you and what is not ... in those quiet moments always search for truth, it sometimes comes in peculiar direction ... we often make important discoveries through others.
9. Life is waiting for those who recognize early that knowledge can result in power for both good and evil in this world ... life is waiting for those who are more interested in their character and beautiful character begins in the heart.

10. Life is waiting for those who avoid slick advertising designed to create a market of useless nonsense ... you have more money in your pockets than any previous generation of kids ... don't waste it.

11. Life is waiting for those who work on a solid understanding of the difference between what is a want and a need ... 'want' just puts you into debt.

12. Finally, believe it or not, life waits for those who do not dream of being famous ... society is in the process of bemusing itself to death with movies and reality television ... getting caught up in this insane feeding frenzy for fame and notoriety ... life especially waits for those who refuse to get absorbed in worship of celebrity ... the frustration of young people is universally paramount when they discover that their chances at fame and fortune are rather limited. You do however, have the option to be successful instead ... success is not what you achieve as much as what you overcome -- bad habits, laziness, misplaced anger, carelessness and thoughtlessness -- just keep working on them and don't forget ... success often means taking risks.  This all builds character.

"Parents are the most influential educators of all and teachers help mold the character of their students.  Remember the simplicity and goodness of your roots.  Do good and keep on doing it.  Life is waiting for you !"

May your words and wisdom have meaningful impact on the lives of your students, Mr. Russell -- and all who read this.