Other VanOrden Posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Glue that Makes Humans what They Are

I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently.  I am preparing a sermon for our Church congregation to be delivered on Sunday January 1st.  Its purpose is to help congregants prepare to set individual and group goals for the New Year 2012. 
Changing is one of the coolest things we do in this life.  Change takes a commitment level that makes most of us uncomfortable, especially as we get older.  Organizations that don’t change usually fade to insignificance pretty dang fast.  But life without change becomes stagnant and even purposeless. Change seems to be part of the glue that makes humans what they are. 

Years ago I learned this truth.  What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. Change spawns in the deep recesses of the mind. Belief is product of determination.  Being willing to work hard makes determination exponentially real.  It expands as we press forward and see progress. 

I once decided I would become the best basketball player north of Chicago.  This was in 1965.  I was all of 13 years old at the time and very bitsy at 5’.  My older brother had been a 3 year starter at our suburban Chicago high school in Libertyville Illinois. I felt the need to carry on the family tradition and determined to do so.  I became a gym rat.  Then once back home I would dribble the basketball for hours in our cement floored basement.  Freshman year I made the “A” team at a whopping 5’2” tall.  I played but did not start.  But the dream persisted and I grew 5 inched in the summer and made the sophomore team.  It looked like I would start.   I kept working on my skills.  My vertical jump improved.  By junior year I was almost 6’ and could dunk a volleyball…my hands were never big enough to palm a basketball. 
I did not become the super star like my brother had been but I did score 28 and 29 points in games during my high school career.  I had moments of brilliance.  I was satisfied that my dream had become reality to the level my body would allow.  I just didn’t have a 6’2” John Stockton hiding under my skin. Most of the dreams I have conceived have come true, marrying a beautiful California girl, raising a large family, being a Bishop, a Stake President, and a teacher in the worldwide LDS Church Educational System.  I am a believer when it comes to dreaming big and making it happen by working hard.

My latest two dreams are reshaping my body by losing 80 pounds and retiring with dignity to a financially secure life.  As is usual with me, I am working on these with my usual gusto.  So my encouragement to all is to look to 2012 with enthusiasm and great expectation.  Do something unsuspected.  Move toward accomplishing your biggest dream. 
My friend Marc Cameron (Otte) has worked many years to hone his writing skill to become a nationally known novelist. This year he arrived with the publishing of his newest book, “National Security” and the dream continues to grow.  So whatever you really want to do, make 2012 the best year for stepping forward. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year’s resolutions that Bring Deep Change

Most of us have some aspects of our lives we have attempted to change many times to only be disappointed when it doesn’t happen as we had hoped.  Deep Change is much more dogged than setting a goal.  Once we learn how to apply Deep Change we are empowered to go anywhere we wish. 

The process has some similarities for all of us.  It starts with envisioning ourselves in the future.  It depends heavily on our personal confidence.  How much do we really believe in ourselves?  Deep Change is wrapped up in our own psychological and spiritual moorings.  What morals and standards do we live by?  Is it OK to cheat our neighbor a little bit, or are we committed to being totally honest?  A thousand little things shape our ethics.  It is who we are. 

On occasion life gets too complicated and we give up on the Deep Change concept.  We let life live for us by just trying to get by, one foot in front of the other, a day or even an hour at a time.  But then the creative juices start to flow again, and we feel a desire to do something more with our lives.  

New Year’s resolutions that cause Deep Change can happen.  Deep Change demands new ways of thinking.  It is major in its impact.  It relies on absolute disconnection from a habit of the past.  When done right, it is irreversible.  Deep Change means risk taking and surrendering control.  I sometimes call this jumping off the “faith limb” while hoping we will  land safely.  There are ways of assuring success. 

I try to take time daily to meditate on the day and week ahead.  I find a safe quiet place and relax for a few minutes then go in my mind to a warm deserted beach where worries are far away.  I prayerfully consider my future endeavors. Then I free my mind of stress by a transcendental technique using my own mantra.  That is when I am able to envision what is ahead “outside” of the box so to speak.  I dream big and say to myself, why not.   

I have a Podcast that is 12 minutes long I am posting in a few days that explores Deep Change more. It will be posted first to those who are part of my email group (see box to the right of this post).  The Podcast outlines steps to make Deep Change happen.  I hope it is helpful to those who might be considering “resolutions” for 2012.  I am encouraging all of us to not simply set some goals but to demand Deep Change of ourselves. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Small Miracles---A Christmas Story by Jeannie Snow VanOrden

SMALL MIRACLES---A Christmas Story 
By L. Jean Snow VanOrden
Sharon grabbed the glass of milk just in time to keep it from toppling over.
            “Mark, quit playing ‘Jingle Bells’ on the glasses!  This is probably the last meal you’ll have for quite awhile so you better make sure you don’t spill it all over.”

            Mark dropped his spoon.  It clanged to the floor and he dove under the table to retrieve it. Their waitress, her name tag said “Jen”, refilled their water as she passed by.  She set a paper cup full of crayons and three kiddie placemats on the table.  Jen stroked the baby’s white-blond hair and cooed,

            “Oh, she’s such a doll, what’s her name?”

            “Actually, his name is Michael.  We just can’t bring ourselves to cut off his beautiful curls.” Sharon slid the high chair closer to the table to get it out of the way of the restaurant traffic.  “Wouldn’t you know, “she thought.  “They would seat us right by the kitchen.”

            Sharon fingered the five ten-dollar bills and hand-full of change in her coat pocket.  It was the last of their money.  One more big meal and then they’d have to wait until they were paid for hauling the load that Steve was picking up.  Between now and then it would be crackers and cheese and the last few cans of juice and formula they had in the truck.

            They had spent the last week living out of the cab of their semi-truck.  Three kids and two adults traveling across country looking for better trucking jobs.  Steve heard that there was plenty of work out of Denver.  They sold everything they could, packed the rest in the truck, and headed west just in time to leave family, friends, and everything homey and familiar behind right at Christmas time.  They had engine trouble outside Oklahoma City.  Nothing on a big rig can be fixed without spending gobs of cash.  Now, at last, they had been able to land a job just outside Denver.

            Andy’s Freeway Diner was draped in shiny green and red garlands.  Tiny artificial trees lined the booth walls and silver snowflakes glistened on the branches.  Christmas carols played just above the din of clattering dishes.  Outside a thin dusting of snow was beginning to fall.

            “Well, at least we’ll have a white Christmas,” grumbled Sharon under her breath.

            “I want Daddy!” wailed Rachael. 

            And then all Sharon’s efforts to rescue it failed as Rachael’s three-year-old fist crashed down on her glass of milk.  White liquid spread across the paper placemats, under the silverware, and dripped down the edge of the table.   Sharon grabbed a handful of napkins and threw them on the growing puddle.  She felt as if the whole diner full of people was staring at her unruly brood.  She was dead tired and famished.  “Where was their food?”

            As if she had heard Sharon’s mental scream, Jen came out of the kitchen carrying a huge tray of platters.  She balanced the tray on the edge of the table while Sharon finished mopping up the milk.  The delicious smells started her stomach growling: crisp, savory bacon, steaming hash browns, scrambled eggs, and piles of fragrant pancakes with syrup.  Jen emptied the tray while Sharon quickly arranged the food in front of the children.  Pacified by a mouthful of pancake soaked in syrup, Rachael ceased wailing.  Mark commandeered a strip of bacon.  Sharon felt short five or six arms as she tried to serve, feed and keep disaster at bay.  Finally, with everyone satisfied and quietly stuffing their mouths, Sharon turned her attention to her own plate.  After she had savored a couple of heavenly bites, Steve burst through the restaurant door and crossed the room with hurried, deliberate strides.

            “Daddy!” cried Rachael, reaching her arms up to greet him.

            “Give me the fifty dollars.”  His tone left no doubt that he was dead serious.

            Sharon reached into her pocket and grasped the moist bills protectively.  “You have got to be kidding!  We’re eating already.  How will I pay for all this?”

            Steve’s tone softened slightly, “Look, they won’t load the truck until I pay for some kind of loading permit.  The permit costs fifty dollars.  They won’t wait for the money until I get paid at the other end.  No permit, no job, no income.  There’s nothing I can do about it.  As soon as I get the truck loaded, I’ll come back here and we’ll figure out something.  I don’t see that I have any other choice and I’ve got to hurry back or we’ll lose the contract.”

            Sharon slowly drew the fifty dollars out of her pocket and handed it to Steve.  Then he was gone.  She could hear the roar of the truck’s engine as he pulled the oversized beast out of the parking lot.  She had planned to take the children to across the street to the mall after they finished eating.  They were going to window shop to kill time until Steve met them at Santa’s Village near the main entrance.   Now she would have to keep the children entertained right here at the table for a couple of hours.  And how would they pay?  Could you really was dishes to pay for a meal?  They had been through lean times before but never this close to the edge.  She felt thoroughly humiliated:  noisy children, spilled milk, and now completely broke.  She tried to eat but her once ravishing appetite was gone. 

            “Here, Mark, you can have my bacon.”  Sharon slid her plate over.

            “Mommy, what’s going to happen?”  Mark looked pale and worried.  It hadn’t occurred to Sharon that he might understand what was going on, that her five-year-old son tuned into the conversation.  Suddenly her distress about paying for the meal fled.  It was the anxiety in Marks sweet face that upset her most.

            “Mark, help me get the baby and Rachael fed.  I’ll have Jen bring us some new placemats and we’ll keep busy coloring and eating until Daddy gets back.  And Mark, maybe you could say a little prayer in your heart to help us stay calm.  Everything will be all right, I promise.”

            “Just great, now I’ve made this a test of my son’s faith,” she thought, bitterly.  She was playing a game with God.  “Hey, if I’m not good enough for your help, my little son’s faith is on the line here.”

            She suddenly felt too tired to worry anymore.  “Just take a deep breath,” she thought.  “We’ll take this one minute at a time.”

            She looked over at the baby.  Scrambled eggs covered his face.  His eyes drooped and his head nodded.  Sharon spread a baby quilt on the booth seat.  She gently cleaned Michael’s face then wrapped him in the quilt.“One blessing already, he will nap for at least an hour.”

            Mark and Rachael continued eating quietly. Sharon decided she may as well enjoy some hash browns and orange juice after all.  It cheered her immensely to have the baby asleep and the other two children settled down.  Thankfully, no one seemed to be paying any attention to them now that their noise had subsided. 

            “Look, Mommy,” Mark nudged her harm.  “I drew a picture of Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  See here’s Grandpa sitting by the fire and there’s Grandma decorating the Christmas tree.”  Sharon nodded absently.   Her mind was now caught up in memories of Christmas back home.  Whatever had possessed them to take off  like this?  It had seemed like a great opportunity to get trucking business going better.  But now it seemed more like a disaster. Back and forth her thoughts flew.

            “Stop!” she thought.  “What’s done is done.  I’ll go crazy rehashing what can’t be changed.”

            She took a deep breath and blew it out.  Their plates were just about empty.  Rachael stuffed the last of her pancake in her mouth then stretched out on the seat and put her head in Sharon’s lap.  Sharon covered her with a coat.  She glanced out the window.  The snow had changed to large soft flakes.  The breakfast rush was over and the diner was quieting down. 

            “Another blessing: they won’t be unhappy with us for taking up valuable space.”

              Just then, Margie swept out of the kitchen and up to their table with another tray.  She began setting out three large mugs of hot chocolate topped with tall swirls of whipped cream. 

            “Wait, I didn’t order these. I really can’t pay for them . . . “  Sharon protested. “Or any of it.” She thought.

            “No problem, don’t worry about it.”  Jen broke in.  “Look outside, right out front.  See the white-haired couple getting into that red pick-up.  When they paid for their breakfast, they paid for yours and threw in the hot chocolate, some sandwiches and a dozen donuts to go.  They said to tell you it’s an early Christmas present.”

            Sharon watched as the red pick-up truck pulled out onto the snow-covered highway and disappeared into the storm.  She hadn’t wished for or expected anything like this.  A miracle for her little family so complete and faith restoring had been beyond her energy to imagine.  Perhaps all the more miraculous because of that.  She felt a surge of relief and gratitude wash over her.  “Thank you,” she whispered out loud.

            “Mommy,” said Mark.  Can I drink my hot chocolate?  I already said a thank-you prayer.”

            “Yes,” said Sharon, still gazing out at the falling snow.  “Yes, Mark, you can drink your hot chocolate now.”


By L. Jean Snow VanOrden

Copyright 2005

Friday, December 2, 2011

Taking Charge of Our Destiny

This is not a promotional for my weight loss program.  Read all the way through so you know what it is really about. 

When I started my quest to get healthy by taking back control of my weight, I have to admit, it has became one of the most satisfying things I have done in many years.  I have never been this successful in grasping control of my eating habits and losing weight. 

At first I thought if I get through my normal weight loss threshold of about 25 pounds that would be good.  Then I went blasting beyond that to over 40 pounds off. 

The holidays became a short bump in the road, and quite frankly so did my doctor who thought I was losing too quickly. He was kind of stuck on the old thinking that 2 pounds a week is best.  I have survived those glitches and now I am losing again quickly once more. I average losing 3-5 pound per week. My motivation stays high since I see my body changing.   It has caused me to trust the food program I am on and my exercise routine.  Since over 20,000 doctors have recommended this program, my commitment is high.    

My body feels so much better when I am following my program with exactness.  I have more energy and get so much more done each day.  Weight control and eating right have become my medicine for a continued productive life and my body which will turn 60 this coming summer.  

So my new mantra is going to be “60 is the new 40”  now that I am transitioning from a career that I have enjoyed for almost 35 years into my “retirement” career.  Studies show that most Baby-boomers are simply moving from a lifelong career into another way of helping make ends meet.

The transition time frame can be from a few months long to several years as Baby-boomers strive to get it right.  The current investment climate is so uncertain due to economic and political unrest, but the upcoming election should correct the lack of stability we have endured these past several years.  America will rally once more.

If I was a younger and still raising a family, I would look forward with great expectations for my future.  I would live simply and invest cautiously to provide for my family and future.  I would get as much education as possible.  I would embrace the cyber-culture to make sure I connect with the dominate force in the market place and thereby assure myself and family of a diversity of opportunity. 

When my oldest son quit his secure electrical engineering corporate career to start his own cyber business and writing career, I worried for his future.  That was almost a decade ago, and during a recent visit I learned he is taking steps to take his online business from a successful 7 figure endeavor to 8 figures over the next several years.  That’s right, from a $1,000,000 business into the 10’s of millions. I guess my worries were not well founded. 

So to the younger crowd, “diversify your interests and education”.  Dream big and make it happen.  Believe in yourself and press forward with confidence.  Along the way take good care of your body so productivity stays high. 

Take good care of your family and give them the best time you have available, always.  Don’t let other pursuits get in the way of loving your spouse and children.  Take time daily to be creative.  The best ideas have not yet been made reality.  It takes vision to make the future better than today.  And don’t forget to include an element of spirituality in your regular creative process.  Onward!