Archive for 2009

New Year’s Resolutions or Keys to Happiness?

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

A couple of years ago, I decided that New Year’s Resolutions don’t work for me, so this year I am posting Deepak Chopra’s 10 Keys to Happiness before the first of the new year, so you can have time to think about these. They are from his blog:, although I have had a hard copy on my door for years! (See a brief biography of Deepak Chopra after the 10 Keys to Happinesss.)

Here they are, with bold type & winter photos my additions:

1. Listen to your body’s wisdom, which expresses itself through signals of comfort and discomfort. When choosing a certain behavior, ask your body, “How do you feel about this?” If your body sends a signal of physical or emotional distress, watch out. If your body sends a signal of comfort and eagerness, proceed.

2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment. Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.


3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn’t good for you.

4. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization.


5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.

6. Know that the world “out there” reflects your reality “in here.” The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.




7. Shed the burden of judgment – you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.

8. Don’t contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.




9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.

10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet’s air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth.


Here is a brief bio of Deepak Chopra, just in case his name is unfamiliar. I downloaded it from I saw him in person in State College a few years ago and he is a very talented motivational speaker as well as an author and an M.D.

  • Born: 1947
  • Birthplace: New Delhi, India
  • Best Known As: Author of Ageless Body, Timeless Mind

Deepak Chopra is a celebrity doctor whose specialty is the healing ways of his native India. Chopra was born and raised in India and moved to the United States in the 1970s. He settled in Boston and had a successful career as an endocrinologist in the 1980s before turning to the ancient healing methods of Ayur-Veda, emphasizing meditation, herbal medicine, yoga and massage. Real fame came with the publication of his best-selling books Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (1993) and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success (1995).

He became a successful motivational speaker, with a series of multi-media programs for healing mind, body and spirit. In the late 1990s he produced a CD with readings of the works of Sufi poet Rumi, including some by Madonna and Demi Moore and Goldie Hawn. His other books include Grow Younger, Live Longer (2001), Life After Death: The Burden of Proof (2006), and Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment (2007). He is the founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California.



Holidays and Beyond: A Review of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

Friday, December 25th, 2009


The holidays are often difficult, especially when you are recently divorced or separated. I just finished a book about a widow and her first year in widowhood and the feelings are just not the same. The best way to get through the holidays, I think, is to spend them with family and friends who are loving, not judgmental. Also, you might go to some funny movies or read a book that lifts your spirits. Such a book is The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan, whose memoir about her mother Evelyn Ryan is funny and sad, motivational and uplifting, entertaining and educational.

Because I love rhymes and jingles, this book was especially enjoyable to me. Even if there were no rhymes, this book is a winner.  The core of the book is Evelyn Ryan, an energetic, resouceful mother raising 10 children in the 1950s-1960s. (Everything was also familiar to me, since that was when I was growing up. The oldest child is my age.) The subtitle is a good clue: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less.

Even though Evelyn Ryan was married, her husband was an alcoholic who spent most of his paycheck on liquor, so Evelyn basically raised the kids as a single parent. In fact, she probably would have been better off if she had been single, since her husband put their homes in jeopardy because of his spending habits. (He redeemed himself somewhat at his death,leaving a $60,000 legacy that Evelyn kept for her children.)

To keep the family afloat, Evelyn Ryan wrote jingles and last lines for brand name products, radio stations, or motherhood that those of us from the 40s and 50s may relate to or remember. For example, she wrote this rhyme for CBS Radio that won her only $1.00, not for a product, but for a state of being as a mother with kids:

Lawn Time No See

When I survey
My barren plot…
Long stamping ground
For tyke and tot

I must conclude
It’s clear (alas!)
One cannot grow
Both kids and grass!

This one is for Dial soap:

Dial is wonderful, colorful stuff!
For amplest protection, Dial’s always enough!

However, Evelyn Ryan was a bright mother with a background in writing and knew one entry might not be enough to win, so she would enter  many, many times, using different versions of her name or even one of her children’s names. She wrote 11 or 12 rhymes for Dial soap, keeping all her entires in notebooks that she saved. (They became a primary source of information when Terry wrote the book, with input from her siblings.)

While Evelyn earned only a few dollars for many of her entries, she won BIG several times. She once won $5,000 that kept her from losing her first house, and the last big win of two weeks in Switzerland, a car, and almost $4,000 kept her from losing her second house, which her husband had remortgaged and neglected to repay on the loan.

What is most important about this book is not the funny and clever rhymes, but about Evelyn’s unflagging optimism and commitment to raise her children the only way she knew how, with her wits! She did not drive, did not go to college, and could not work with 10 children at home. She used her intelligence (graduated valedictorian from high school) and background in writing a column in her step-grandmother’s newspaper to churn out jingles, ends of rhymes, and short stories that kept the family sometimes only days from poverty’s door.

Except Evelyn never had a poverty mentality. She had a winner’s mentality, always entering contests and even influencing her children so that they also entered contests and won. And after she joined a group of other women who were also contesters, her support from them gave her even more incentive and tips to winning more contests.

The book is written by sixth child Terry Ryan, whose writing style brings this book alive, making it funny as well as realistic, introducing Evelyn Ryan to us so that we know her. Incidentally, it was made into a movie with Julianna Moore (on the cover above), but I have not been able to get it yet. I do want to see it, because the author was consulted on the film, making me believe it will reflect the true story of this miraculous mother.

Since today is Christmas, I thought I would end with a jungle Evelyn Ryan wrote just as a way of expressing herself, which she often did. (Not all her jungles went for contests, but just for letting off steam. I can relate to that!)

In the Red

An old Christmas custom

too strong to resist:

You run out of money

but not out of list.

I love this book! It is a testimony to ingenuity, positive thinking, and survival! When you are feeling low about your situation, read this book and be inspired. The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio is published by Simon & Schuster and costs$13.00. (I bought mine used for $3.99 from I think the original copy I took from the library had a different cover, since the book was published in 2001 and this cover is from 2005.

Here’s to a Happier, Healthier, Heart-Warming New Year!