What Motivates Humans?

What motivates humans? Could it be money or love or recognition? Yes, yes, and yes! However, sometimes there may be other intertwining factors which enter into the mix.

Some years ago, I recall a story a teaching colleague shared with me. This teacher had just finished grading a test. Prior to handing out the corrected test papers to individual students, the teacher announced that only one student had a perfect score. As the papers were distributed, there were students piping up, asking various others, “Was it you?”, then turning, “Was it you?”, next doing an about face, “Was it you?” This class was popping questions as if they were popcorn. Those students were certainly motivated to find the individual!

What Was The Motivation?

My colleague merely ignored the minor inquisitive uproar. However, this teacher noticed a few details. Several asked those who were perceived as being the smartest students more than once. There seemed to be a hierarchy of students who were asked. Truly everyone seemed puzzled as to the high scoring student’s identity. Out of the corner of this observant teacher’s eye, the high scoring student was looking toward those who were asked. There was an occasional sly smile on this student’s face. It has been a while since I’ve heard this story, but the holder of the highest grade may have even asked a student or two as well. Some even begged the teacher to divulge the high scoring tester. When that class was dismissed, no one but the teacher and one single student knew the identity of the mystery student.

What Could Have Motivated This Student?

Through the years, this teacher and I have puzzled over the mystery. Could this student have preferred humility over bragging rights? Did this person find it entertaining to be secretive? Was this person curious if someone else would claim the perfect score? Could the high scoring student have been simply satisfied with doing well without all the hoopla?

Maybe this quote by the great-grandson of Henry Ford, William Clay Ford Jr., could be the case. Henry’s great-grandson was also a recent C.E.O. of Ford Motor Company. William Clay Ford Jr. had this to say:

I’m not motivated by money or power or fame. In the end, it doesn’t bring much happiness. The only thing that is driving me is self-satisfaction, self-validation.

Sometimes motivated folks may also be described as self-actualized. Here is an excellent article on this topic. https://www.verywellmind.com/characteristics-of-self-actualized-people-2795963#:~:text=Self%2Dactualized%20individuals%20are%20often,people%20improve%20their%20own%20lives.

Finally, here is a post which involves some self-actualized people in action: Speaks with Sunshine. The lovely ladies featured in my story have a strong sense of acceptance and appreciation which are two of the eleven characteristics of self-actualized and motivated people.

What are the secrets to what powers your motivation?

Nature’s Harmony

How would you like to use nature’s harmony in order to change your challenges into opportunities? Let’s take a look at nature’s ways to see how Mother Nature handles difficulties.

Nature is such an intelligent system! Let’s examine the lives of coyotes. I learned that when coyotes are over hunted, their population actually increases. Normally only half the available females will produce offspring. However with a severe kill of their pack, all the females reproduce. Additionally, more than the typical three to four litters per year are born. An automatic increase of estrogen in the pack females ensures the coyotes are able to renew their population. If three-fourths of the world’s coyote numbers were obliterated at once, field biologists estimated that within one to two years, they could regain their population!

Other Harmonious Ways

What about maple trees? Have you ever watched the helicopter-like seeds spinning from a tree? In our area, the old farmers say that when maple seeds are plentiful, it predicts good crops such as corn, soybeans, hay and oats for the farmers. It is also said that an over abundance of maple seeds means that the trees experienced some sort of stress the previous year. Here again, nature is stepping in to ensure the survival of the species.

Different flying creatures are helped with the wisdom of nature. Critters that must seasonally migrate to be able to live in an optimal climate are dependent upon certain factors. Baltimore Orioles travel upon the warm prevailing winds in early May to reach their northerly summer time destinations. Likewise, the cool winds take them back south to their winter time locations. Dragonflies and Monarch Butterflies migrate as well. Here is an article on predicting migration times: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/scientists-can-predict-when-birds-will-migrate-up-to-week-advance-180970280/. Think of the harmony required for these creatures, large and small, to be able to work with the wind!

Baltimore Oriole at the Bird Feeder

Humans Living Harmoniously in Nature

Notice that all these examples from nature involved stress of some sort. Then a solution occurred as an answer to that stress. If we humans work with our given conditions, we can improve our chances as well. Have you ever heard an old time farmer say, “Make hay while the sun shines?” Much as these tenders-of-the-soil know how to work with the weather, truly anyone can aspire to work with the conditions we are given.

Remember the birds who utilize the prevailing winds to ease their journey? Another way to look at this is to think of how our actions can go with the flow rather than against. When we use the energy we note in order to work with it, we accomplish more. If I look for Signs from the Universe, I come much closer to this ideal harmony. Finding Gratitude is another path that gets me to this more delicious way of living! When I choose to THINK LIKE WATER, my troubles seem to dissolve. Perhaps if we adapt with some of nature’s harmony, we may find a brand new sense of Awe and Wonder!

How to Get Virtuous Grief

How does one go about getting virtuous grief? Nurturing a virtue such as patience can go a long way toward coping with grief.

Sometimes it is helpful to explore what patience is not. The opposite, of course, is impatience. Impatience implies characteristics such as hurry and irritation, whereas patience feels like peace and acceptance.

Virtues of Patience

Some of the wisest people speak of the virtues of patience. Patience is a key coping skill in grief – in fact it may transform to virtuous grief.

  • Patience is the support of weakness, impatience is the ruin of strength. CHARLES CALEB COLTON
  • I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. LAO TZU
  • He knew you could never teach an animal with anything if you struck it, or even shouted at it angrily. He must always be gentle, and quiet, and patient, even when they made mistakes. LAURA INGALLS WILDER Farmer Boy

Sometimes we may feel weak in our grief. With the treasure of patience, we have a coping mechanism. As the animals referenced in Wilder’s Farmer Boy, we certainly make mistakes as well. If we treat ourselves as kindly as we would an animal, it can go a long way in easing our grief.

Inducing Patience – IT IS NATURAL WITH NATURE!

One of my very favorite ways to induce patience is to be out in nature. Just think of the ways being outdoors may encourage us to sit, relax and take a break. The tree that is pictured is one of my favorite. This huge trunked friend has a welcoming base in which I can nestle and lean while I feel the strong energies of it coursing up and down my back. Just imagine a tree as a dear friend! In fact, if you turn on your imagination, this tree appears to have a complete human face including a pair of eyes and a nose, along with a mouth agape! Now, this tree induces patience for me!

You may even decide to speak of your grief to the tree. Then, perhaps, you could imagine the tree carrying the most painful parts deep into the earth via its roots. Then, with your most joyful self, entertain the thought that the tree could carry your heartfelt love for your dear loved one skyward through its branches. Imagine your loved one being on the receiving end. Nature guided activities can indeed induce virtuous grief.

In fact, while you are out in nature, you may even be gifted a sign from a loved one! See My Mother’s Day Guest. Delight in the signs you receive. Accept rather than question that they are signs for you.

  • Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence. HAL BOURLAND
  • Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day. A. A. MILNE
  • Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies. ANTOINE DE SAINT-EXUPERY The Little Prince

Here are a couple of posts of some contemplative thoughts I’ve derived from being out in nature: THINK LIKE WATER and Your Thoughts Are Seeds.

The Art of Patience for Virtuous Grief

Not only is cultivating patience an art, but art may help to cultivate patience! Art here could be used broadly, as in any creative endeavor which could be called an art, i.e., music, theatre, literary, dance, culinary, visual arts, etc. Indulging in the arts is a marvelous way to relax and find oneself, particularly while in the throes of grief. As a former National Board Certified Art Teacher, I know that the arts are a very important avenue for us as humans to express ourselves.

  • Practice what you know and it will help you to make clear what you do not know. REMBRANDT
  • Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic. KEITH HARING
  • Genius is eternal patience. MICHELANGELO

Keep in mind that Michelangelo knew a lot about patience. He is the one who took four years to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel!

Here are some artistic activities to foster your patience while you heal your grief: https://www.opentohope.com/10-artistic-activities-to-help-with-grief/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIx43JyOO9_gIV0YZbCh2LvggKEAAYAyAAEgKXmPD_BwE. As the common phrase on the old Kung Fu show, “May you have patience young grasshopper!” I wish you the comfort of patience on your grief journey.

April Fools

With April Fools Day upon us, I must share a few musings I’ve had. Sometimes there are things that are just so intriguing that April 1 must be set aside for such intellectual activity.

Musing Number One

First of all, it has always amazed me how the people that lived in the B.C. era knew to count down rather than up for each year of their calendars. Or, could it be that some of them had a fear of the world coming to an end as they approached the countdown year of zero?

My Second April Fools Musing

Secondly, I have only occasionally wondered what it is like when woodpeckers kiss. P.S. I am grateful that I am not a woodpecker.

There always must be the most important number three musing for April Fools.

Thirdly, I have always been curious as to how chocolate can save the world. Years ago, I discovered how chocolate may make this important contribution. At first glance, one may not think this little story is about chocolate. Many moons ago or trips around the sun ago, it used to be that ministers would pop in on their parishioners to check in on them . Well one fine day, our minister stopped by to pay an unexpected visit. More than likely, this was when our children were quite young. I’m certain this was a day when my husband was at work. The chances are good that this was before I began my teaching career, so I was a stay at home mom.

Well, this pastor knocked on our door while I was being a busy housewife. I invited him in and we had a little chat. As it wasn’t yesterday when he paid his call, I have no idea at all what our topic of conversation would have been. I suppose we could have talked about how chocolate was a healthy food, especially if it is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate, after all, has lots of flavonoids and possesses anticancer, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6225491/

The Amusing Unveiling

It did not seem that he stayed very long. Lo and behold after he left, I happened to walk by a mirror and was appalled by what I saw. My mouth was covered in chocolate! I honestly do not recall what chocolate concoction I was creating. As I had been caught in the middle of cooking it, I had to make a hasty trip to answer the door. Unfortunately some of it had found a resting place right smack dab on the front of my face. I suppose it was quite amusing to see my appearance, but the pastor did not visibly react. Had I known I was plastered in chocolate, we certainly could have had a chocolate communion. As I was very embarrassed after the fact, It is entirely possible that I may have whined a bit to my husband regarding this chocolate affair.

It is extremely likely that our children must have been napping or they would have wanted chocolate embellished faces as well. I’m sorry, but not sorry, that no photographic proof of this event exists. Fortunately this occurred well before the atrocities of selfies were popular.

Not long after the episode my husband installed a mirror immediately above our kitchen stove. Now, I may check my taste testing face to see if I am ready for visitors. This episode may or may not have been on April’s Fool Day. I guarantee, though, if you ever taste test chocolate you will never have such an embarrassing situation as this. Also, chocolate may just save the world because of all the great health properties. Last of all, it will especially save the world if you follow our example by strategically placing a mirror to see if you are properly tasting chocolate. You may just rescue someone from dieing of laughter following seeing your messy face…

Here is another post of finding the positive in something: Dandelions – Delight or Dilemma?

My Most Influential Teacher

When I contemplated the identity of my most influential teacher, my initial thought was my favorite college art professor. His critiques of our art as well as his fascinating art history lectures taught me much about the arts. Then, I thought of another art prof whose teaching inspired literal joy with her interactions and descriptions of art.

Later, I traveled further back in time to my kindergarten teacher. She taught me to keep my box of crayons (labeled with my name) put away when I was finished with them. At the beginning of the year, a number of kindergarteners would be in tears the next day as a crayon box not in the proper place would “disappear”. After our day of only having a big, fat graphite pencil with which to color, we quickly learned to be neat and tidy.

Other Teachers Influence

When it comes to my most influential teachers, how could I not mention my parents? Mom taught me sewing and cooking skills. Perhaps that is why I prefer making home cooked meals. We also learned from helping her in the garden. Dad’s strengths were in farming. He showed us caring for animals was important. My favorite was feeding the bucket calves. These young calves were those for whom the mother cow was unable to produce milk. Of course, grandparents were an influence. One grandmother in particular stands out. I learned from her that pretty much anything could be made into a game. Having come from simpler times, it was a wonderful skill to possess. She also inspired me with her crocheting handiwork as well as her sewing prowess.

In thinking back to my classroom days, I can honestly say I learned from my students. I always displayed art history images we would discuss. The students would point out things they noticed or found in an art work. They would be thrilled when they would teach me something about it I had not noticed! It did wonders for their self esteem when my students could teach the teacher.

Powerful Teaching by Example

When I think about it, I can learn from anyone. Observing the positive attributes of others is an effective way to learn. That is why it is important to be around those whom we admire so that we may emulate their ways. …and yet, we may learn from anyone’s negative characteristics as well. These allow us to know what behaviors to avoid. Come to think of it, perhaps my most influential teacher is Lady Life herself. Who are your most influential teachers?

Here is a favorite song: Teach Your Children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zj8FlXGPcOQ. My post, Speaks with Sunshine shows what I learned from some delightful receptionists. Miracles and Other Antidotes details what I learned from our son from his pancreatic cancer journey.

Miss You Mom on My Birthday

If ever there is a day we may miss our mom, it would certainly be on one’s birthday. This particular birthday is my first with her no longer in the earthly realm. When my siblings and I grew up, she always made an angel food cake for our special day. Ice cream and cake would absolutely always accompany one of her exquisitely delicious meals. One of my most memorable birthdays was during the 2020 lockdown.

My mom had a series of strokes years ago which paralyzed her dominant side. It also made speech a huge challenge. She would struggle for words. I know she knew what she wanted, but transferring her thoughts and desires to any of us took much patience on all our parts. Many times she was capable of uttering single word responses, however her speech didn’t always obey her thoughts. Sometimes she could string together as many as three words. Those three words were typically a frustrated “I don’t know!”

Mom and the Call

Thankfully, she had always been able to communicate with her phone. During the 2020 lockdown, her assisted living facility was in mandatory isolation. The phone proved to be our only method of communication at that time. Usually the only time she would call would be when she wanted me to buy her something. It would sometimes take her five minutes to try to utter a single correct word of what she wanted. My guessing talents improved somewhat through the years.

I was so pleasantly surprised that she called me on my birthday during that lockdown. She would randomly call, but she had never phoned on my birthday for the fifteen previous years since she had had the strokes! She was even able to utter the word “birthday”! Then I told her a joke I’d heard – it was great to hear her laugh. Additionally, I asked her a few simple questions to which she responded.

The Birthday Sing-Along with Mom

Knowing the capacity of a post-stroke brain when stimulated by the power of music, I made a request, “Mom, would you please sing ‘Happy Birthday’ with me?” Initially she responded with another easy and all too frequent word, “No.” Spontaneously, I just started singing and she joined in! We both sang the first two lines. It had been years since I’d convinced her to sing! Then, I couldn’t vocalize any more as I was too choked up. We each giggled like little girls. For just a few lovely minutes, I felt as if I had my true Mom back – what a birthday gift which I will always treasure!

Here is a research article with post stroke communication tips: https://www.expressable.com/learning-center/adults/18-tips-for-communicating-with-a-loved-one-after-a-stroke This is a post featuring my mom: Mother Tribute

Top Ten Life Lessons

A number of years ago, I found that sometimes life lessons can be discovered by contemplating various experiences. Here are my top ten lessons gleaned from a train trip.

As my husband and I awaited our departure from southwest Iowa for our first Amtrak vacation, a song phrase mused on our car radio, “all you need is just a little patience”! Once in a while trains are early, sometimes late, and occasionally on time. We left the beauty of the bountiful, rolling hills of Iowa to gaze at the gorgeous southern Colorado Rockies, painted in fall colors. The train drop off was only a couple of blocks from our daughter. It was great to see her again!

Learning Our Lessons

We learned many things while riding the rail. It is important to pack light as space is limited. While roving on a moving train from car to car, it is quite like navigating one’s way on a ship traversing on a roiling, rolling sea. To safely maneuver, we were advised to hold onto the overhead baggage rail.

On one leg of our trip, we were in a backwards facing caboose. It was fascinating to see where we’d been! The observation car offered wonderful views to the left and right as well as above. Only the captain was afforded the privilege to see where we were headed.

In order to get to our Colorado destination from Iowa, we had to take an east bound line to western Illinois. Even though we had to go east to eventually go west, we still arrived at our destination, plus it was more relaxing than driving. Additionally, we had the fun experience of taking a train trip!

Top Ten Lessons from the Trains

Whether it was using the tiny restrooms, or navigating one-way interior aisles or road traffic, one must take turns. In crossing the Mississippi, the rail and barge traffic had to take turns traveling over or under the drawbridge. We tried to be sweet and lighten the load of those we would meet.

Prior to stops, the conductor would announce whether there was sufficient time to disembark and amble around. A fellow traveler asked if we were leaving in forty-five minutes. He was told to be on board in twenty-five minutes or less unless he wanted to catch the next day’s train. When they yell, “all aboard”, you’d better be!

The train caused me to contemplate the term, “training”. When one is being trained, it is one thing after another, just as the train cars. Everything must be in a certain way and in a certain order. It is imperative to stay on the tracks.

Rhythms and Rhymes of the Rails

While rumbling down the rails, I heard echoes of Dr. Seuss’ rhythms as from his book, “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street”. (Just feel the same train rhythms when you say this title aloud!) Various train songs chugged through my mind. When I observed groups of workers repairing side tracks, the melody of “I’ve Been Working on the Rail Road” came to me! The Polar Express song, “Believe”, spoke to me through believing it is a blessing to visit loved ones. My very favorite train tune is Cat Steven’s “Peace Train”. I’ll close with his last refrain as well as a recap of my top ten life lessons.

“Why must we go on hating? Why can’t we live in bliss? Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train. Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again.”

Ten Life Lessons

  • 1. Patience makes the journey smoother.
  • 2. Seek and savor beauty wherever one may be.
  • 3. Loosely bundle one’s happiness and allow it to drip and stick like honey where it may.
  • 4. Pack light, be the LIGHT!
  • 5. Hold onto one’s Anchor, Rock and/or overhead baggage rail.
  • 6. Only one’s Captain sees what’s ahead.
  • 7. Sometimes one must go to what seems the wrong way to get headed in the right direction.
  • 8. Take turns.
  • 9. All aboard means ALL ABOARD!
  • 10. Choose the train one wishes to ride. I am choosing the Peace Train, won’t you join me? Cat Steven’s song is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QpjR6-Uuks

You may like another post on ten lessons the water taught me: THINK LIKE WATER.

My Favorite Pair of Shoes

Do you have a favorite pair of shoes? I do. Mine are a pair of black leather, slip on style Clarks brand shoes. I chose them for comfort and ease of putting them on as well as taking them off. They are a basic black, so they go with nearly everything. These shoes go most anywhere with style. In fact, since this pair meets so many of my criteria for a great pair of shoes, this is my second identical pair!

These shoes literally take me everywhere. They’ve taken me to work in my elementary school, maneuvering between the art room tables as well as outdoors for recess duty. Being versatile, this footwear has accompanied me at football games and track meets even though they do not come with cleats.

Favorite Shoes Journey

A couple of other entertaining places to which they’ve carried me are music concerts and dance recitals. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), my shoes to not have taps attached to the soles. It is really a shame as I’m certain everyone would love to hear me tap my toes to the music.

Sometimes my favorite shoes escort me to the restroom. I don’t really understand why they feel the need to do so. After all, I am old enough to go to the restroom all by myself.

To prove that I am old enough, my footwear also walked me out the door when I decided to retire. They also strolled back into the school when I chose to substitute teach. Most of the time, I was in the shoes when they came back to school.

Saga of My Shoes

Perhaps with spring approaching, I may get the urge to garden. I bet my shoes will want to tag along. However, I think it may be inadvisable for my shoes to help with the gardening. It may just feel too good to place my bare feet upon the ground, dig my toes into the soil and soak up some sun! Plus, perhaps it is time to allow my favorite pair of shoes to enjoy a bit of the retirement life as well by not working so hard.

P.S. In case I go barefoot gardening, someone may think I lost my shoes. In that case, please read SEARCHING FOR THE LOST. If you’d like to see what kind of personality you have by your favorite shoe style, check this out: https://www.rd.com/list/shoes-personality/.


A Writing Prompt

When I first read the writing prompt, “How does death change your perspective?”, I was intrigued. After all, my blog does actually deal with this typically heavy topic of perspectives on death. If death was like a job, could it be a retiring, a promotion or a demotion, but hopefully not a firing?

I once read that making statements tends to erect walls while asking questions builds bridges. Since teaching has been my profession, don’t you think I should be asking more questions?

Questions on Death Viewpoints

Let’s continue with further questioning. I have wondered if death could be represented by various forms of punctuation. Could death be simply a period for “the end”? What about a question mark for an “unknown”? Maybe death is like a comma in a sentence, indicating two independent lives separated by that something titled “death”. Could death even be a thing, if we may be alive on either end of that point? Perhaps death could be shown with a dash, showing a sudden break or change.

Secondly, as this blog is open for anyone around the world to read, I make an effort to be cognizant of many belief systems. If a religion professes a habit of love and service toward humankind and this marvelous marble called Earth, does that mean an eternity of bliss awaits on the other side of the veil?

Near Death Experiences and Reincarnation

Additionally, how does one explain NDEs (Near Death Experiences) that include the spirit hovering over an operating table and seeing one’s body shocked back to life or flying outside the hospital room and observing a shoe on a ledge, or hearing doctors’ animated words following one’s coding?

What about the story of the British woman, Dorothy Eady? She took a downstairs tumble at age 3, and was initially pronounced dead. Shortly thereafter, she awoke and believed she was a priestess named Omm Sety from Ancient Egypt. How could she have had such eerily accurate knowledge of hieroglyphics and long buried temples if she was not reincarnated? https://egyptianstreets.com/2021/09/13/from-london-to-ancient-egypt-the-reincarnation-of-dorothy-eady/

A Mother’s Perspective on Death

Having lost our son, I am fascinated by what I perceive as visits from our son. Could it be if the circumstances seem timely and unusual that it is truly the spirit of our son visiting us? You read and decide. Here are a couple of signs from nature: My Mother’s Day Guest and OUR VISITOR. This one is from my most favorite dream of my entire life: MIRACLES AND DUETS. What about our memories in providing a link to our loved ones in Stars?

Finally, I’d like to close with a quote from one of my favorite poets, Rumi. May you be comforted by his words.

from The Day I Die:

“Your mouth closes here and immediately opens with a shout of joy there.”

%d bloggers like this: