Make Up Your Mind Day

Every December 31 is Make Up Your Mind Day. This is the day when you take a look at all those decisions you have put off this year, and just make up your mind and decide.

Some of us are chronic over-thinkers. This describes me. I can always see multiple sides to the same question, and analyze them to see which is best in the short run, which would be best in the long-term and which would make me happiest (or save the most trouble.) But the time comes when a decision must finally get made and the consequences be faced. Or perhaps you are a procrastinator. You just put off making that decision from laziness or whatever. Or perhaps you hate to commit to one particular thing, keeping your options open. Or perhaps a decision is simply too big and too frightening, such as leaving your job. Or perhaps something just seems so big you don’t even know where to start making a decision.

I’m a Quaker, and we have a way for dealing with big issues. It’s called a Clearness Committee. It’s more structured than this, but basically, you call together a group of friends whom you know will be honest with you, and have them ask you questions to help you think it through. When done well, it is an amazing tool for helping to make a decision.

So today’s the day! Stop over-thinking. Stop procrastinating. Make a commitment. Make up your mind!

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Here are some quotes in decision-making to inspire you.

Again and again, the impossible problem is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made.–Robert Schuller

A bad decision well implemented is better than a brilliant decision not well implemented.–Peter Schutz

Decision is the spark that ignites action. Until a decision is made, nothing happens….–Wilfred A. Peterson

Each of us is the sum total of the decisions we make each day.–Dr. Myles Monroe

Freedom is the opportunity to make decisions…–Kenneth Hildebrand

Frustration can become like a chain…and it can strangle your efforts for success … or you can get the key out and open the lock. Oh the key? The key of Decision that unchains the future.–Doug Firebaugh

The greatest accomplishment began as a decision once made.–Michael Rawls

I invented this rule for myself. I would sort out all the arguments and see which belonged to fear and which to creativeness, and other things being equal I would make the decision which had the larger number of creative reasons on its side.–Katharine Butler Hathaway

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing to do. The worst thing you can do is nothing.–Theodore Roosevelt

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure , the process is its own reward.–Robyn Davidson

The opposite of fear is not happiness, it is decisiveness. Have no fear; happiness is to be found in having made a decision.–Michael Rawls

When a decision has to be made, make it. There is no totally right time for anything.–General George Patton

Women need to see ourselves as individuals capable of creating change. That is what political and economic power is all about: having a voice, being able to shape the future. Women’s absence from decision-making positions has deprived the country of a necessary perspective.–Madeleine Kunin

No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently.–Agnes de Mille

Find more than 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at http://www.quotelady.com. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quote-Lady/133258553807 and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kloberst (@kloberst)

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Tick Tock Day

At this time of year, many are looking forward to the new year, deciding what resolutions they can make (and hopefully keep) to make next year better than this one has been. Well, there are still two full days left in this year, which is why December 29 has been declared Tick Tock Day. The purpose of this holiday is to get you to look at what you wanted to get done last year – or in this holiday season – that you haven’t yet done and encourage you to get busy and do it or them. Think of what you can get done in two days! Paint the bedroom. Clean out the garage. Start learning that new skill you promised yourself you would master this year. Get those Christmas cards in the mail. Be the one to step forward and make amends with that friend, relative, or coworker. Start the new year with a clean slate – you will feel better!

No one seems to know who created Tick Tock Day, or when, but it is always celebrated on December 29. It reminds us that if we get moving, a lot can be accomplished in a little time. It is also a reminder that time waits for no one, and the time to do things is now. It is, after all, all the time we really have: the present moment.

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Here are some quotes about time to inspire you.

It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the pale new growth on an evergreen, the sheen of the limestone on Fifth Avenue, the color of our kids’ eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking.–Anna Quindlen

And what if you were told: one more hour?–Elias Canetti

Unfortunately, the clock is ticking, the hours are going by. The past increases, the future recedes. Possibilities decreasing, regrets mounting.–Haruki Murakami,

As every thread of gold is valuable, so is every moment of time.–John Mason

Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.–H. Jackson Brown

Every morning you are handed 24 golden hours. They are one of the few things in this world that you get free of charge. If you had all the money in the world, you couldn’t buy an extra hour. What will you do with this priceless treasure?—Unknown

Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.–Lord Chesterfield

It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future, and impossible to live in the past. Nothing is as far away as one minute ago.–Jim Bishop

The less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.–Andy Rooney

Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.–Samuel Smiles

One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.–Harold V. Melchert

We will always have time enough, if we will but use it aright.–Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Find more than 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at http://www.quotelady.com. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quote-Lady/133258553807 and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kloberst (@kloberst)

Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is celebrated by African Americans between December 26 and January 1 each year. It is a festival I became aware of only in the last few years, though it marks its 50th anniversary in 2016. It may be new to you as well.

Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966 at the height of the struggle for Civil Rights. It is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years. The name comes from the Swahili phrase “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest.” All the words and phrases are in Swahili, because it was spoken by many different peoples in Africa. Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to preempt Christmas. It is rather a celebration of unity among the black community.

Each of the seven days emphasizes a particular principle. These are:

  • umoja (oo-MOH-ja) meaning unity
  • kujichagulia (koo-jee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) meaning self-determination
  • ujima (oo-JEE-mah) meaning collective work and responsibility
  • ujamaa (oo-JAH-ma) meaning cooperative economics
  • nia (nee-AH) meaning a sense of purpose
  • kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) meaning creativity
  • imani (ee-MAH-nee) meaning faith

Kwanzaa celebratory symbols include a mat (Mkeka) on which other symbols are placed: a Kinara (candle holder), Mishumaa Saba (seven candles) mazao (crops), Muhindi (corn), a Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) for commemorating and giving shukrani (thanks) to African Ancestors, and Zawadi (gifts).

There are seven candles in the Kwanzaa candle holder. One candle is lit each day. The candles are three green, one black, and three red. Green is for the fertile land of Africa; black is for the color of the people; and red is the for the blood that is shed in the struggle for freedom.

Traditionally, a feast is held on December 31, featuring African food, and January 1, the last day, presents are given to children.

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Today I am featuring quotes from The Quote Garden which they label Quotations for Kwanzaa. These are not directly about the festival, but illustrate some of the meaning behind it.

Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.–Alexander the Great

In union there is strength.–Aesop

So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.–Bahá’u’lláh

The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.–James Baldwin

Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.–Mahatma Gandhi

In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.–Booker T. Washington

Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.–Virginia Burden

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.–Kenyan proverb

One is a member of a country, a profession, a civilization, a religion. One is not just a man.–Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart known as Brotherhood, however much you preach, posture, or agree, unless you live it.–Faith Baldwin

No man is free who is not a master of himself.–Epictetus

Every man is the architect of his own fortune.–Sallust

We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone … and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something.–Sandra Day O’Connor

Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.–Henry Ford

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.–Helen Keller

We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes.–Anne C. Weisberg

Find more than 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at http://www.quotelady.com. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quote-Lady/133258553807 and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kloberst (@kloberst)

Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone! After two entries with information, but no quotes, today’s post will be all quotes. I’ve chosen some of my favorites from the QuoteLady.com Website. You can find these and many more on the Christmas quotes page. You can also find the two weeks’ worth I did for this season at Yahoo Groups.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite Christmas quotes.

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As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is.–Eric Sevareid

Christmas gift suggestions from Oren Arnold: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.–Calvin Coolidge

During the holiday season, the entire world seems in harmony: Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, Buddhists remember the enlightenment of Siddhartha, Jews recall the miraculous temple lamp that burned for eight days, Muslims welcome the new year…–Ellen Michaud

Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.–Dale Evans

The Grinch and [the gospel of] Luke have a message for you. No one can steal Christmas. No matter how powerful you are, you can’t take it away; and no matter how poor and weak you are, no one can take it from you. … Christmas can’t be stolen and it can’t be stopped.–Anne Robertson

I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.–Harlan Miller

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.–W. T. Ellis

Advent’s familiar themes of waiting and hopeful expectation have a different ring this year. … [H]ow do these admonitions sound — “wait!” “be patient!” — in a context of violence and despair, of deprivation and gross inequality? What does “hopeful expectation” sound like, look like in places where justice has long been delayed, meaning, of course, that justice has been denied?–Debra Dean Murphy

It’s “Merry Christmas” at our house. Whatever it is at yours, have a happy one. And be good to somebody.–Stephen King

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?–Bob Hope

Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes – goodwill among men and peace on earth.–Albert Einstein

“One can never have enough socks,” said Dumbledore. “Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn’t get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.”–J. K. Rowling

One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.–Andy Rooney

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people only once a year.–Victor Borge

Then Bob proposed: “A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!” Which all his family re-echoed. “God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.–Charles Dickens

Unless we make Christmas an occasion to share our blessings, all the snow in Alaska won’t make it “white”.–Bing Crosby

When the song of the angel is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost–To heal the broken–To feed the hungry–
To release the prisoner–To rebuild the nations–
To bring peace among brothers and sisters–
To make music in the heart.–Howard Thurman

Find more than 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at http://www.quotelady.com. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quote-Lady/133258553807 and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kloberst (@kloberst)

A Christmas Carol, Part 3

In previous posts, I talked about the story itself and touched on some of the older film versions of the story. Today I’ll round out the media overview with a few of the newer versions.

First off is the 1984 television movie with George C. Scott. One of the things that makes this version interesting is that Scott doesn’t play Scrooge as the worst miser in the world, but rather as a hard-nosed businessman. You can believe this Scrooge is no worse than a hundred other people for whom the bottom line is paramount. It makes for a different, but believable interpretation. The other thing that makes this stand out for me, is that it’s a virtual who’s who of British actors of the time. Cratchit is played by David Warner, who has been in a plethora of shows and movies. Edward Woodward plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, who takes no guff from Scrooge. Susanna York is Mrs. Cratchit, Roger Rees is Fred, Joanne Walley is Fan, and Mark Strickson who would go on to be Turlough in Doctor Who is young Ebenezer.

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In 1999 Patrick Stewart took on the iconic role. He had been touring the year before, doing a reading of the story on stage, so knew it very well. You can see that in some of the little touches that appear if you know to look for them. His is another fairly laid back interpretation, though he is harder than Scott’s Scrooge. Stewart is for me one of the few actors who are believable both as the earlier miser and the redeemed man. Also in this version are Joel Grey as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Richard E. Grant as Cratchit. Interestingly, it also has Ian McNeice as Fezziwig, and Saskia Reeves as Mrs Cratchit. The two would be together again the next year in Dune playing very different roles.

The 2004 musical version was a television remake of the Broadway play. It starred Kelsey Grammer, who played Scrooge as an angry old man. The play had been rather tongue in cheek, with a lot of humor, some of which bleeds through to this. The plot is a bit thin, as in most musicals, but it’s quite a delightful retelling for all that. Jason Alexander plays Marley, which shouldn’t work, but does somehow, and so does Geraldine Chaplin as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. What I like most about this story is the relationship between Scrooge and Marley. They are depicted as friends, not just business partners. It is also filled with tunes which can get into your head and play over and over again.

Obviously, I haven’t touched all the versions. I’m particularly ignoring the Disney version of 2009. It was when 3-D movies were new, and in my opinion, goes out of its way to showcase that at the expense of the story. Jim Carrey is good, though. Nor have I touched A Muppet Christmas Carol, which is a love it or hate it movie. Personally, I love Michael Caine as Scrooge and enjoy the retelling, even with the silliness. And there’s An American Christmas Carol, with Henry Winkler, set in New England during the Depression. What I like most about this is that when Winkler’s character is redeemed, he is still his gruff self, and doesn’t go all sappy

I did want to mention a few of the audio versions. Jim Dale who narrated the American recordings of the Harry Potter books does an unabridged version which is very good. You can find a lovely rendition online of Neil Gaiman, dressed as Dickens, reading from the actual script that Dickens used when he toured doing his readings on stage. There is an abridged version done by Patrick Stewart from the touring that he did. The most amazing thing about this one is him as Tiny Tim, singing. It has to be heard to be believed. And finally, I have an abridged recording by Tom Baker who was Doctor Who. Not the best version in the world, but he’s always a delight to listen to.

Find more than 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at http://www.quotelady.com. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quote-Lady/133258553807 and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kloberst (@kloberst)

A Christmas Carol, Part 2

In the previous blog, I talked about the story itself. Today, which is December 21, Bah Humbug Day, I’d like to talk about some of the adaptations of A Christmas Carol. It has obviously spoken to people deeply ever since it was written, and there have been dozens of adaptations for the big screen, for television, for radio, and for audiobooks, as well as other shows doing their own takes on the story, updating it, or adapting it to their own characters. Scrooged with Bill Murray springs immediately to mind and shows as diverse as Quantum Leap, Doctor Who, and even The Real Ghostbusters have used the story in their own ways.

Obviously, I can’t do a definitive list of all the movies, shows and adaptations, but I do want to feature a few of those I return to year after year. And please remember that these are my opinions only – I speak for myself.

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I’m going to take these mostly in date order, but I want to start with my favorite, which is the 1951 version with Alastair Sim. There are a couple reasons why for me this is the best version. First of all, Sim is one of a very few actors who is believable both as the grouchy unredeemed Scrooge of the beginning and the changed better man at the end. Also, the music in this, though sometimes a little intrusive, reflects the mood of the scenes so very well. I love how in the beginning, the credits start with cheerful music which is overwhelmed by Scrooge’s darker theme as he appears, but then at the end, Scrooge adopts his nephew Fred’s theme – the lively polka music. I also like the way they fill in Scrooge’s back story in this version. It is interesting in having Michael Horden as Marley. He is probably best known over here as Gandalf in the BBC’s radio version of Lord of the Rings. It also features a young Patrick Macnee who became John Steed in The Avengers as the younger Marley.

Going back: there are older versions, but the first one I want to feature is the 1935 Seymour Hicks adaptation. Every time I watch this I think a group of actors were bored over a weekend and decided it might be fun to do A Christmas Carol. It was obviously done on a shoestring budget. I find Hicks quite believable as the unredeemed Scrooge, but not really as the changed man. His portrayal makes me cringe. What I like about this version is that it so clearly shows the difference between rich and poor at that time in London, with the luxury of a few, and the real deprivation of the many. Probably the most affecting scene is where both rich and poor sing “God Save the Queen,” and seem to mean it.

Then there is the 1938 version with Reginald Owen. Americans might remember him from Mary Poppins as the old man who set off a cannon each day. With apologies to my friend Shari for whom this is the best version, I find Owen convincing enough as the redeemed Scrooge, but not really as the grouchy miser. It does, however, contain one of my very favorite scenes of all versions when Scrooge calls in the watch (we would say police) to remove Marley’s ghost from his premises. Makes me laugh every time. This version also stars Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit. He was the judge in the original version of Miracle on 34th Street. And Marley is played by Leo G. Carroll, best known to American audiences as Mr. Waverly in the U.N.C.L.E. franchises in the 60s.

And last for today, I want to mention the 1970 musical with Albert Finney. This is a lavish version, full of energy and enthusiasm. Besides Finney, this stars Alec Guinness as Marley, who is playing the part for all it’s worth, Edith Evans as a feisty Ghost of Christmas Past, and David Collings as Cratchit. He was in many British shows of the time, including Doctor Who, and anglophiles will remember him as Silver in Sapphire and Steel. This version is probably most memorable for the song “Thank You Very Much,” which will play in your head for days and days afterwards.

Find more than 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at http://www.quotelady.com. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quote-Lady/133258553807 and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kloberst (@kloberst)

A Christmas Carol, Part 1

The beloved Christmas story by Charles Dickens was published on December 19, 1843. Though it is now so much a part of Christmas that it feels like it has always been here, it’s actually less than a hundred and seventy-five years old.

The story is very familiar, and if you know it as well as I do, you may skip this paragraph. A cold, greedy, heartless man, Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his old partner Jacob Marley, who is doing penance after death for his miserly way of life. He promises Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts. These spirits show him his past, his present, and his future. It is when he realizes finally that he will die alone and unmourned that he is shocked into changing his ways and becomes “as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew…”

We tend to think of this today as a feel good story of a grouchy old man changing his ways and being redeemed, but I don’t think that is the main thing Dickens hoped to show. The story is about the grinding effects of poverty and loneliness. Scrooge became the man he was because of growing up poor and being unwanted. Tiny Tim dies in Scrooge’s vision because the Cratchits cannot afford to do what it would take to make him well. As Marley leaves Scrooge, we see the ghosts trying to help a poor woman, but they no longer have the power to do so. Dickens, who grew up poor, knew the wretched life led by those in poverty in London. I truly believe Scrooge was redeemed, not for himself, but for Bob Cratchit’s sake.

There’s a lot more to say about this story, and I think I will do another blog on it, but for now, don’t be like the unredeemed Scrooge, but in this season when we give to friends and relatives, remember those less fortunate and be generous like the redeemed Ebeneezer.

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Quotes from A Christmas Carol

Once upon a time–of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve–old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house.

“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. “Bah!” said Scrooge. “Humbug!”

Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer… If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ upon his lips should be boiled with his won pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

“At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. … We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.”

But I am sure that I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.

Then Bob proposed: “A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!” Which all his family re-echoed. “God bless us every one!” said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

..it was always said of him [Scrooge] that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us!

Find more than 9000 inspirational quotes and a link to the Quote of the Day list, as well as quotation related merchandise, at http://www.quotelady.com. Also visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Quote-Lady/133258553807 and on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kloberst (@kloberst)