Imagination…

Live out of Your Imagination not Your History. Stephen Covey

We all have imagination. It is one of our God-given gifts.

Think of all the improvements and inventions that have come to mankind through that amazing gift called imagination!

I am in awe of those many individuals who have lived true to their imaginations in spite of adversity and great difficulty. I am grateful for each of them who have improved and inspired our world, as a result.

Dmitri Shostakovich is one such individual. I hope you will be inspired by his story!:

DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH

If you’re not a classical, opera, or symphonic music fan, you may not have heard of Shostakovich by name, but there’s a good chance that you know some of his most famous works.

From his “Waltz No. 2”—used in the film Eyes Wide Shut—to his “Romance” and many astounding symphonies, Shostakovich stands in the annals of music as one of the true modern greatest, and possibly the greatest composer of the last century.

And all while facing the very-real possibility of death on a daily basis.

Dmitri Shostakovich was an extremely bright musical student and hit the ground running in his career, reeling off enough initial “hits” in terms of compositions to establish himself as one of Russia’s premiere composers.

And then along came Stalin, one of the few men to rival Hitler himself as one of history’s worst villains.  The 1930s were a time of conflict and terror throughout the world, a time when just about everyone, in one way or another, had to overcome adversity in one form or another, and Shostakovich was no exception.

Stalin had fully taken power by then, and “the Great Terror/Great Purge” in Russia had led to the deaths of many of the composer’s acquaintances and friends in government-sponsored executions and purges.overcoming adversity 6 Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Adversity You Might not Know ir t interconnectedlives 20 l as2 o 1 a 0060144769

And then, terrifyingly, Stalin’s opinion of Shostakovich soured as well.  In 1936 Shostakovich began to receive severe criticism for his work, with some of the criticism potentially coming as part of Stalin’s influence.

Stalin himself attended performances of Shostakovich’s work, and was displeased—which, in an era where dissidents were being purged, was no small thing.  What’s more, Shostakovich drew upon everything from post-Romantic to Jewish musical both—all detested by Stalin, and dangerous to be associated with.

Shostakovich was publicly denounced in the USSR—not once, but twice.  The pressure mounted.  He had his Fourth Symphony withdrawn, and lived in constant fear that he and his family would be targeted by Stalin as part of the ongoing purges.

After experiencing a slight renewal after WWII, Shostakovich was once again the target of Stalinist wrath.  He was denounced for the second time, as were other composing greats such as Sergei Prokofiev and the Armenian-born Aram Khachaturian, was denounced for allegedly “anti-Russian” themes in his music.

Here we can see a picture of the three greats together, but in the late 1940s, they all faced bans on their work and censorship, even though Shostakovich cared greatly for Russia—just not under Stalin’s iron grip.  Things seemed to be coming to a head, with his living situation a nightmare, his works suppressed, and Shostakovich’s growing fear that at any moment he would be taken to a camp, killed, or both.

Imagine not just being publicly shamed in front of your entire country, and having your living situation and social status plummet, but being unable to leave and spend every day wondering not just if it will be your last as an esteemed artist—but if it will be your last period, and that if you dare to object, it won’t just be you that suffer, but your family and friends as well.  Shostakovich and hundreds of millions of his fellow countrymen living under Stalin faced that adversity terror on a daily basis.

But he never stopped writing, and never ceased to return to his favorite themes in his suppressed, “desk drawer” works—and that of facing and trying to overcome adversity resounds throughout these pieces.

He outlived Stalin—who died in 1953—and while his troubles weren’t over, the worst of them were, and after more than a decade of terror and public humiliation, be began his resurgence into critical favor around the world, exemplifying what it means to overcome adversity, and how genius can flourish even in the darkest times.

After years of personal denouncement and private terror, Shostakovich stands today as one of the past century’s greatest artists—and without question, one of its bravest.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.interconnectedlives.com/overcoming-adversity/3/

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Are You Thankful for Your Thorns?…Dealing with Adversity

rose bushes profile-girl-rose-young-girl-50998With Thanksgiving quick approaching, the last thing you may have on your mind is thorns. However, life is full of thorns and it is important to be thankful – even for some of the thorns! In that spirit, I share today’s story:

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her Birkenstocks as she pushed against a November gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor automobile accident stole her ease. During this Thanksgiving week, she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. “Had she lost a child? No – she has no idea what I’m feeling,” Sandra shuddered. Thanksgiving? “Thankful for what?” she wondered. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?

“Good afternoon, can I help you?” The flower shop clerk’s approach startled her. “Sorry,” said Jenny, “I just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring you.” “I . . . . I need an arrangement.” “For Thanksgiving?” Sandra nodded. “Do you want beautiful but ordinary, or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the ‘Thanksgiving Special’?” Jenny saw Sandra’s curiosity and continued. “I’m convinced that flowers tell stories, that each arrangement insinuates a particular feeling. Are you looking for something that conveys gratitude this Thanksgiving?” “Not exactly!” Sandra blurted. “Sorry, but in the last five months, everything that could go wrong has.”

Sandra regretted her outburst but was surprised when Jenny said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.” The door’s small bell suddenly rang. “Barbara, hi!” Jenny said. She politely excused herself from Sandra and walked toward a small workroom. She quickly reappeared carrying a massive arrangement of green bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Only, the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped, no flowers. “Want this in a box?” Jenny asked. Sandra watched for Barbara’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems and no flowers! She waited for laughter, for someone to notice the absence of flowers atop the thorny stems, but neither woman did. “Yes, please. It’s exquisite.” said Barbara. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I’d not be so moved by its significance, but it’s happening again. My family will love this one. Thanks.”

Sandra stared. “Why so normal a conversation about so strange an arrangement?” she wondered. “Ah,” said Sandra, pointing. “That lady just left with, ah . . . ” “Yes?” “Well, she had no flowers!” “Yep. That’s the Special. I call it the “Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet.” “But, why do people pay for that?” In spite of herself she chuckled. “Do you really want to know?” “I couldn’t leave this shop without knowing. I’d think about nothing else!” “That might be good,” said Jenny.

“Well,” she continued, “Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you feel today. She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she faced major surgery.” “Ouch!” said Sandra. “That same year, I lost my husband. I assumed complete responsibility for the shop and for the first time, spent the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.” “What did you do?” “I learned to be thankful for thorns.” Sandra’s eyebrows lifted. “Thorns?”

“I’m a Christian, Sandra. I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and I never thought to ask Him why good things happened to me. But, when bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.” Sandra gasped. “A friend read that passage to me and I was furious! I guess the truth is, I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.” She started to ask Jenny to “go on” when the door’s bell diverted their attention.

“Hey, Phil!” shouted Jenny as a balding, rotund man entered the shop. She softly touched Sandra’s arm and moved to welcome him. He tucked her under his side for a warm hug. “I’m here for twelve thorny long-stemmed stems!” Phil laughed, heartily. “I figured as much,” said Jenny. “I’ve got them ready.” She lifted a tissue-wrapped arrangement from the refrigerated cabinet. “Beautiful,” said Phil. “My wife will love them.” Sandra could not resist asking, “These are for your wife?” Phil saw that Sandra’s curiosity matched his when he first heard of a Thorn Bouquet. “Do you mind me asking, Why thorns?” “In fact, I’m glad you asked,” He said. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but we slogged through, problem by rotten problem. We rescued our marriage – our love, really. Last year, at Thanksgiving, I stopped in here for flowers. I must have mentioned surviving a tough process because Jenny told me that for a long time she kept a vase of rose stems — stems! — As a reminder of what she learned from ‘thorny’ times. That was good enough for me. I took home stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific thorny situation and give thanks for what the problem taught us. I’m pretty sure this stem review is becoming a tradition.” Phil paid Jenny, thanked her again and as he left, said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”

“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life, ” Sandra said to Jenny. “Well, my experience says that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, Sandra, Jesus wore a crown of thorns so that we might know His love. Do not resent thorns.” Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take twelve long-stemmed thorns, please.” “I hoped you would, ” Jenny said. “I’ll have them ready in a minute. Then, every time you see them, remember to appreciate both the good and hard times. We grow through both.” “Thank you. What do I owe you?” “Nothing. Nothing but a pledge to work toward healing your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.”

Jenny handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach a card like this to your arrangement but maybe you’d like to read it first. Go ahead, read it.” My God, I have never thanked Thee for my thorn! I have thanked Thee a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorn. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear, teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed to Thee by the path of pain. Show me that my tears have made my rainbow.

-Author Unknown

Story shared from the following website: http://www.heavensinspirations.com/thankful-for-thorns.html

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Cynicism is an Intellectual Cop Out…There is a Better Way

Cynicism is an intellectual copout, a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.

Cynicism is an intellectual cop out,a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction
and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.    Jeffrey R. Holland

There is a lot of cynicism being thrown around in our country right now. I believe in the quote by Jeffrey R. Holland. That is why I used it for today’s meme.

I understand concern. I understand differences of opinion. I understand a desire for leaders to see the world as we see it. I also understand that the solution to every problem, concern or care in this world is God.

I wish that I could share the memories of my near death experience with the world. In it, everyone would be blessed to see that God is real and His love is perfect and ever enduring. Everyone would see His infinite and complete perfection and understand that the key to all happiness, joy and true success is to make God an integral part of all we do and align our choices and actions with His unchanging truth.

The world is imperfect and we are imperfect but the greater the effort of mankind, as a whole, to choose light in this world, the more we will receive peace, safety, and joy. As Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “When God works through us, No One and Nothing can stand against us.”

I hope you enjoy today’s story which was shared by Hugh Downs!:

Hugh Downs on Overcoming Cynicism

One morning on our Today show we reported on a group of teenagers whose demonstrations had shocked their community. In the faces of the young people pictured on the screen I saw a total rebellion against authority.

“That could have been me 25 years ago,” I said to myself.

It started me thinking back to the age of 14 when the change within me occurred. Up until then I had accepted without question the patterns my parents had set. Then slowly I began to see things through a haze of contempt and rebellion.

Perhaps it was partly because I stood first in my class and took great pride in my pseudo-intellect and glib tongue. Success, I concluded, was all that mattered.

As captain of my own ship, I decided that I needed help from no one. Sensitivity to need and concern for others were, to me, signs of weakness or guilt. I had a theory for everything.

Since a great percentage of those in my home town of Lima, Ohio, were church-going people, I divided them into two neat groups: the ones who used church once a week as a cleansing ritual, and the others who attended church with the thought, “I want to be on the winning side in case there is something to all this.”

So I argued that all churches should be abolished because they stood in the way of faith. I theorized that a man can worship God as he sees fit—where and when he chooses. And if he doesn’t choose to, that is his privilege too. (I didn’t choose to, by the way.)

My name for this theory was “Reverse Piety.” It sounded very smart to me.

But as a working philosophy of life it was to prove more and more unsatisfactory. Actually I should have known better.

My father was a Methodist, my mother a Baptist, but in a spirit of early ecumenicity they became Episcopalians when they were married. Time after time they showed their concern for others.

For a while, my father and a partner ran an auto accessory store. When they went into the red, the partner declared himself bankrupt. My father and mother decided that there was a moral as well as a material obligation involved. He took a job and over the years paid back every penny he owed.

I resented it since it meant there was no money for me to continue college. I had to quit after the first year. My bitterness increased when I applied for 26 jobs in a row and didn’t get one.

Then one day I stopped at the radio station in Lima with the halfhearted hope that there might be some kind of job open. They gave me an audition—and to my surprise I was hired as an announcer. The pay was $7.50 a week.

There was hardly any direction to go but up. I was married and a father when one of those experiences occurred which, in retrospect, you can call a turning point.

The radio station where I worked had to cut costs. My job was in danger. Thinking that my boss was looking for a good excuse to let me go, I built up a real dislike of him.

Then one day he called me into his office. To my surprise his manner was kindly. He was concerned about me. And he worked out a plan for me to stay on the job.

Something happened inside me at that point to chip away at the crust of cynicism I had built up around myself. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, then said impulsively, “You do this for me when all the time I have been hating you because I didn’t think you wanted me here?”

My boss said calmly, “Why don’t you try to get outside of yourself, Hugh? If you do, you’ll tap a source of spiritual and physical energy that will make you feel inexhaustible.”

I chewed that thought long and hard. The words were certainly not new, but now they had meaning.

For a time I had been examining other faiths, from Judaism to Buddhism and Islam. Each has much to offer. Inevitably I came back to a reexamination of Christianity.

While pondering questions of faith and systems of philosophy, I was moving from radio to television, from Ohio to Chicago and then to New York. The years passed. I worked with Kukla, Fran and Ollie, with Sid Caesar, Jack Paar and the Today show.

As success came I followed the pursuits I liked: astronomy, boating, flying, celestial navigation, music. They can satisfy body and mind, but they leave the spirit unfulfilled. Yet, answers to my quest for faith were coming and piece by piece, like putting together a mosaic, the picture was taking form.

An actor contributed to it. I don’t even know his name. But he was in a very successful play and he was asked how he could possibly remain fresh after giving the same performance, day after day, 700 times.

“The audience hasn’t seen the play 700 times,” he said. “It’s a new play for them every night. If I thought only of myself I’d be stale by the 10th performance. But every night I think of the audience instead of myself and they renew and refresh me.”

Last year I sailed across the Pacific in a small boat. It was immensely satisfying to navigate that distance, even though I had a fall during the voyage that injured my spine. Back home, doctors said it required surgery.

I was taken to the hospital in a wheelchair. The operation was a success and I walked out without any help. Yet the experience added something to me.

First, the ordeal was neither fearsome nor intolerable though from the outside it seemed so. Second, there was always someone along the corridors whose troubles and pain were worse than your own. Cheering them was not depressing or morbid, but just the opposite. You got outside yourself.

At one time I served on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee of the New York State Mental Health Association. That committee was scheduled to make one of their regular visits to patients.

I would have ducked going, if I could. I couldn’t. In our car pool the driver of our auto was a rabbi whose sense of compassion interested me.

At the hospital we walked through the clean, neat rooms. Two very disturbed boys caught our attention. One was 13, the second, perhaps two years older. The older one said very little. The younger one said nothing at all.

As the rabbi talked with them I asked a nurse, “What hope is there for these boys?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Very little,” she said.

As we were leaving, I looked over my shoulder and saw the younger boy sitting on an oak bench, all alone, staring into nothingness, the picture of endless despair.

“That boy,” I said to the rabbi, “looks very much like my own son. I can’t help it, but I’m glad—” I was starting to express thankfulness for the fact that my son was normal.

“I know how you feel,” he interrupted. “That boy is my son.”

It was days before I got over the shock of that experience.

The picture of the rabbi not only ministering to his own son, and to all the afflicted in that institution, but also moving to save me embarrassment is still vivid before my eyes. For in his agony he had learned to lose himself in his concern for others.

This was what my parents were trying to tell me as they scrimped and sacrificed to pay off a debt that was moral, not legal. It was what my boss at the radio station was saying to me when I was 22; and it was what the actor meant when he talked about playing one role 700 times.

Different people were getting the message to me, but it took a long time before I really heard and embraced as the heart of my faith the words Christ uttered to His disciples: He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/emotional-and-mental-health/guideposts-classics-hugh-downs-on/page/0/2?nopaging=1

 

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Adversity…Nothing in the World is Worth Having Unless it Means Effort

Adversity – we all have it and we all deal with it differently. When you look at nature, you can see all kinds of examples of animals and creatures that deal daily with adversity. Yet, the Lord loves and watches over every creation.

During my near death experience, I witnessed many of us being educated about the adversity we would experience in this experience we call life. The Lord went to great effort to teach and train us and to prepare us for the experiences we would have on earth. You may be surprised to learn that earth was never meant to be 100% vacation time!

Have you ever noticed how much you cherish the lessons learned from adversity? There is a reason for that! Our spirits inherently value growth. We all are meant to experience adversity but none of us are meant to handle all that life presents to us alone. I hope you will remember that God is always aware of you and willing to reach out to you as you are willing to reach out to Him.

May you enjoy today’s story of adversity!:

Get Up

Bringing a giraffe into the world is a tall order. A baby giraffe falls 10 feet from its mother’s womb and usually lands on its back. Within seconds it rolls over and tucks its legs under its body. From this position it considers the world for the first time and shakes off the last vestiges of the birthing fluid from its eyes and ears. Then the mother giraffe rudely introduces its offspring to the reality of life.

In his book, “A View from the Zoo”, Gary Richmond describes how a newborn giraffe learns its first lesson.

The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to take a quick look. Then she positions herself directly over her calf. She waits for about a minute, and then she does the most unreasonable thing. She swings her long, pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, so that it is sent sprawling head over heels.

When it doesn’t get up, the violent process is repeated over and over again. The struggle to rise is momentous. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts. Finally, the calf stands for the first time on its wobbly legs.

Then the mother giraffe does the most remarkable thing. She kicks it off its feet again. Why? She wants it to remember how it got up. In the wild, baby giraffes must be able to get up as quickly as possible to stay with the herd, where there is safety. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild hunting dogs all enjoy young giraffes, and they’d get it too, if the mother didn’t teach her calf to get up quickly and get with it.

The late Irving Stone understood this. He spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing novelized biographies of such men as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin.

Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that runs through the lives of all these exceptional people. He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished and they go to work.

“They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified, and for years they get nowhere. But every time they’re knocked down they stand up. You cannot destroy these people. And at the end of their lives they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.”

– Craig B. Larson

Shared from the following website: http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/motivational-stories-2.html

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Goals Are Like Magnets…

Goals are like magnets...They’ll attract the things that make them come true. Tony Robbins

Do you have Goals? Or, do you just let each day happen without much thought about it? We all have the personal power to consistently improve. Goals give us the destination that we are aiming for.

We may not know all the steps that reaching a goal is going to require but when we set the mark (goal) and then plan what it will take to make that goal become a reality, we set in place the momentum that will get us there. Often, it is a good idea to use a mind map to get an idea of the goals we want to reach and then work backwards.

For example, let’s say I want to have a training facility for swimmers but I don’t even know how to swim yet (and I want to be able to swim the swimmers at the training facility). I could guesstimate that it will take me 10 years to create the training facility. At 8 years  I think I will have the funds necessary and will need to start planning the construction. At 6 years I think I will need to start working on investors and getting information on swimming pool construction and the kind of building that will best house a wet, swimming pool environment. At 4 years I plan to join swimming organizations, become familiar with other swim organizations – creating a swimming network, organize a corporation for my venture and start making friends in the swimming world. At 2 years I plan to competing in swim events and further learn about the world of swimming. Then, from now until then, I realize I need to find a line of work that will enable me to have the flexibility I need to accomplish the goals that I will need to accomplish in order to build the swimming facility. I will also need to start taking swim lessons and dedicate time and effort to develop my swimming talents.

I don’t really want to build a training facility, but if I did, I would need to have a map charted with goals and intentions that would enable me to accomplish my goal.

Dreams are never accomplished if we do nothing but dream. Goals give dreams the opportunity to manifest themselves!

I hope you will recognize the Personal Power you have been blessed with, listen to your heart, and create the goals that will allow you to accomplish the dream of your heart!

In that light, I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

One day a son came to his father for an advice:
– Dad, I can’t do this anymore, – he said, – those lessons only exhaust me, and the result doesn’t change. It must be not destined for me to play football and my dream will never come true.
The father looked at his son with loving eyes and said:
– You know son, every person in life has a dream, a goal of his life. They are the ones that make us do what we are doing, because it’s what we should do. We have to fight for what we believe in, what we feel. In other case, you will simply brake. Once – and for all.

The easiest way is to quit everything and not go until the end, because the path is difficult and we are not used to inconveniences. We want everything to be easy and at once. But the wishes are fleeting! This is how our dream dies, and the goal becomes unreachable.

Gradually, life becomes a routine without depth and meaning. Then one day, we try to forget and start everything from the beginning, we wait for a new day to make our life different. But new obstacles come in our way, and we stop again. We become full of despair and anger for our own helplessness.

But you only need to remember one thing: never give up, fight, battle. It doesn’t matter that you have lost one battle and even dozens of battles. Life goes on! Your biggest enemies are hiding in you – laziness, fear, doubt, indecision. Be a warrior of your dream, a knight of your goal and a soldier of your wishes!

Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspirationalstories.eu/stories/stories-about-reaching-goals/

 

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