Little Happy

 When I was a boy, I had a little dog named Happy. She was so little, I had to sit down to pat her.

Happy loved to play games – hopping, jumping, running, licking your face kind of games. Happy waited for me at the front window every day when I came home from school. And every night, Happy slept on a pillow above my pillow. I loved Happy.

But, while I was at school Happy had a bad habit. Happy liked chasing the neighbours chickens. And sometimes, she would catch a chicken. And when that happened, the neighbour became very upset because little Happy could cause a fair bit of damage to a little chicken. And she did, too often.

So, my mum helped me put an advertisement in the local paper telling everyone that Happy needed a home with someone who had lots of love to give to a little dog and who didn’t have chickens. A few days later a big motorhome drove into our driveway and an elderly couple came to the door and asked if they could meet Happy. Of course, they loved her. And Happy loved them, too. They told me they were traveling around America and would give Happy lots of love and many wonderful experiences.

I cried as I watched little Happy leave in that big motorhome. I loved her and didn’t want to lose her. But, I knew things would be better for her if she wasn’t near chickens and was with people who could spend all day with her.

A few weeks later, I got a postcard from Happy! On the front of the card was a picture of Happy somewhere in America and on the back was a letter all about what Happy had been doing and seeing. Every few weeks, I got another postcard and another story about Happy. She was having fun, getting lots of love and not killing chickens. Which, I knew was for the best. And I was happy for Happy.

Learning to see the positive in a negative situation is called being resilient. And I ‘m grateful to my Mum and Dad for helping me find a good solution for me and my little dog Happy.



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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Startwarmers: Starting Great Meetings

Every good meeting starts with an interactive activity. 
Why? Because people need their focus captured so they can refocus it on the matter at hand.

But, why have a good meeting when you can have a great one?

Those first moments need not be wasted playing games or doing embarrassing activities. 
Instead, you can use those first few minutes to strengthen your group.
Rather than starting with an 'icebreaker' start with a 'heartwarmer'. 

Let's call them "startwarmers"

Here's what I mean...

Community comes through shared story. 
We are created by the communities in which we participate. Therefore, to strengthen a community the people in that community need to share their stories. 

To get to know someone, you need to learn about their communities - from big to small: National, religious, sport/clubs, workplace, extended family, immediate family, partner, internal (me, myself and I).

Principle: When developing a startwarmer, use a positive approach. Teaching a value by focusing on the negative reinforces the negative. Find the positive angle and promote growth by focusing on the positive value.

Prepare:
1. Choose what value you want to explore, and formulate a one sentence 'punchline'
2. Decide which community level (big to small list above) is best to probe for this value
3. Frame a question that would get yourself talking
4. Create or find a short intro story/joke on the theme (personal is best)

Perform:
1. Tell a brief introductory story/joke introducing the 'startwarmer' question.
2. Break big group into small groups and discuss question
3. Regroup, ask for highlights from groups
4. Wrap up with your one sentence 'punchline' for the activity

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Example value & questions:

Honesty 
Classroom: What is the most honest thing a student has said to you?

Relationships
Family: What's the best thing your family has done together in the past month?

Compassion
Open Community: What is the most meaningful act of compassion you've ever witnessed?

Resilience
Immediate family: What is the bravest thing one of your children (or siblings) has done?

Humour
Personal: Tell a story about something silly you did that actually made things better.

The Words We Use


My first dog wagged her tail a lot, ran in a bouncing sideways sort of way and loved to lick my little face. So I named her Happy.

My second dog was born with no bones in one of his legs. As a puppy, he did some pretty funny somersaults learning to run. I named him Hop-a-long.

My children’s first cat was an orange mutt of a cat who never quite learned how to use a litterbox. We named him Nugget.

The names we give our pets tell people what we think of them.
And so do the names we give each other.

And they tell us something about ourselves.

How do you tell someone that you love them? With words.
How do you tell someone that you hate them? With words.

So, how important are the words we choose?

I am the words I believe about myself.
And I believe what I hear the most.
First from others, then from myself.

Even the subtlest of words shape us.

“Why did you do that? Sometimes you are so stupid!” 
                          vs
“That was stupid thing to do. That’s not like you!”

“That dress makes you look gorgeous!”
                          vs
“What a dress! You are so gorgeous!”

It may not seem like much of a difference but every word leads somewhere.

What do you want your children to believe about themselves?
Then tell them with your words.

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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

The Power of Forgiveness

Arriving home from primary school, I ran into my mother’s bedroom, climbed onto her bed and rested my little head on her tummy. I hugged her tight and said, “Mum, I don’t want you to die.”

“Die?” my mum said, “Why would you say that?”

“Because you’re in bed a lot.” I said, “At school today, my teacher said that when people get old they stay in bed a lot and then they die.”

“I’m not going to die, sweetie. Mummy’s just got a sore tummy.”

….

 “Let me tell you why most of you are here tonight,” the speaker said to the crowd. “If you are experience headaches, muscle stiffness, extreme tiredness, internal infections, bowel trouble, stomach pains, ulcers – you have been hurt by someone.“

My mother sat up and stared at the man on the stage. “All of these things and many others are ways our body tells us we are hurting.”

Then the speaker slowed his pace and said, “What I’m going to say next is going to make some of you angry but it is true. If you want to be well, if you want to be healthy again, you need to forgive the person who hurt you.”

My mother felt tears trickling down her cheeks. How could she ever forgive her father for what he’d done? She had held those painful memories for years. Forgiving him seemed impossible.

“Forgiveness is your way of handing back the suffering; back to the person who should be bearing its weight.” The man continued, “The emotional pain you feel should be carried by the person who caused that pain, not you. Forgive them and let them take ownership of their personal brokenness. It’s not yours, it’s theirs. You deserve peace and healing.”

It took some time. Months. Finally my mum was able to visit her father and tell him she forgave him.

And, amazingly, once she let go of the hatred and the pain, she began to heal. The ulcers, the headaches and the other health issues she had been suffering faded away as she healed – heart, mind and soul.

There is power in forgiveness.


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For more parenting pondering, 
see the "Parently" section of this blog.

Aisle Seven

A Compassionate Theology: Sabbath

My Son Michael spent a week in June doing work experience at the nearest Coles to our home. He was there from 8AM until 4:30PM each day for a week. He said he spent a lot of time “facing up” aisles ensuring the products on display were pulled forward, faced outward and lined up with the other items. He also said he worked with a manager, another work experience student and a few employees.

I couldn’t help wondering about the many conversations and experiences that Michael may have had that week. I lost myself imagining how one of his mornings may have played out.

Working his way down the confectionery aisle, Michael touched up one display after the next. It was a slow and tedious process but he enjoyed looking back down the aisle and seeing the tidy results of his handiwork. He also enjoyed the occasional customers who came into the aisle to choose a favourite treat.

There were the teenagers who came in at the beginning of his shift. Laughing and pushing each other around, they selected chocolate bars and energy drinks to fuel their day of study, sport and socialising. Michael was sure he knew a couple of them from his high school but he stayed focused on his task. When they left, he noticed they’d made quite a mess but he knew it would look good once he got to that end of the aisle.

Next was the American tourist who made a bee-line for the licorice. After selecting a bag of dark straps and another of Allsorts, the man spoke to Michael, as Americans are prone to do. “I can’t get enough of these Allsorts,” He said with a huge smile. Thrusting the bag into Michael’s face, he continued, “They’re like little squares of happiness!” Michael smiled, agreeing and stepped aside to let the man hurry about his day.

Then there was the young mum pushing the pram. She had explored the Push Pops, trying to find the right one for her little guy. She showed him colour after colour until he finally choose one. She walked down the aisle quickly grabbing a Mars bar for herself as she went past. The boy in the pram held out his hand knocking each bag that passed near him. One fell on the floor without his mother’s notice. After they left the aisle, Michael quickly replaced the bag on the correct hook.

When Michael reached the boxed chocolates, a young man carrying an armful of roses approached. He scanned the boxes for a while and the said, probably to himself, “What would she like? Maybe a truffle box.” Michael knew something about women and chocolate, “My Mum loves the Seashells. Maybe you could try those.” Almost startled, the man looked at Michael and said, “Thanks for that! You know what? I’ll take a box of truffles and the Seashells. She’s worth it!” Mikey helped him get both boxes in his free hand and watched as he left the aisle.

Almost finished with the confectionery aisle, Michael saw an elderly couple coming toward him. The man reached out taking a bag of Jaffas off the rack. He turned and held them out to his wife, “Remember these, love?” Her face blushed and Michael looked away, realising he had been staring. “It’s okay, sonny,” the woman said. “He bought Jaffas on our first date in 1958. He took me to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. And that’s what our hands were when we’d both reach into the bag at the same time. Until, in a fit of bravery, this young man firmly grabbed my hand and said, ‘I think it’d be best for both of us if I just held onto this!’” They both broke into fits of laughter at the story. “Now put those back, you goose,” she said, “our dentures can’t tolerate them, and you know it!”

At the end of his lunch break, the manager directed Michael to a trolley holding a few boxes. "These need to be stocked in aisle seven."

“The confectionery aisle,” Michael said.

“Yes, good memory!” His manager said, “You must like lollies!”

“There’s a lot more than lollies on aisle seven,” Michael said. “There’s people having fun, falling in love and reliving old stories.”

The manager looked Michael up and down. “Whatever are you talking about?”

“Aisle Seven,” Michael said, with a smirk. “You should spend more time there.”

“Perhaps I should!” His manager laughed, “After years of working here, it’s just the number that’s important to me.”

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...