Sunday, February 2, 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On

"Keep Calm and Carry On", we've all heard it, and it's become one of my favorite mantra's, as it was.  So when I saw a book labeled "Keep Calm and Carry On", by Andrews McMeel Publishing, I had to have it.  On the back of the book it says "Good Advice for Hard Times".  I also picked up copies of the sequels to the book, "Screw Calm and Get Angry: Resigned Advice for Hard Times", and "Now Panic and Freak Out: Bad Advice For Good People".  

I've always loved the story of where "Keep Calm and Carry On" came from, ever since my mom gave me a copy of the poster, and told me the story; and realize that most people don't know the story.  So here's the introduction to the first book, "Keep Calm and Carry On":  "Keep Calm and Carry On.  The British have never been terribly good at the more touchy-feely aspects of self-help and inspiration-the kind peddled so effectively in the United States for decades and now beloved in the rest of the modern world.  When the British have been stuck in a spot of bother in the past, such as the odd world war, they have tended to resort to more formal and restrained modes of address- "pull yourself together," "stiff upper lip and all that, old man."  This is the very world that spawned Keep Calm and Carry On

It was one of three posters produced by the British government's Ministry of Information on the eve of war in 1939.  The other two were "Freedom Is in Peril" and "Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory."  Simple reassuring instructions, each topped with the commanding seal of King George VI's crown.  Two and a half million copies of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" sheets were printed, but they would be distributed only in the imminent threat of German invasion.  Thankfully they never saw the light of day and were almost all pulped.  So that might have been that, if one of the few remaining posters hadn't been discovered in a dusty box of old books bought at auction by British bookseller Stuart Manley.

Though they didn't initially know what the poster was, Mr. Manley and his wife liked it so much they framed it and hung it in their bookshop.  They weren't the only ones who found it's stark, simple reassurance engaging.  In fact, they had so many inquiries about it from customers that in the end they decided to have some copies printed.  It seemed that in the seventy years since it's first appeared, its very British soothing strength hadn't lost any of of its appeal.  The bookshop has gone on to sell tens of thousands of the poster, not to mention mugs, T-shirts, and tea towels, with customers including everyone from Top Gear presenters to Buckingham palace and Downing Street.  Its message, it seemed, was just as effective a tonic for those laboring under modern anxieties as for those who endured the Blitz.  But it wasn't until the uncharted waters of the economic downturn began to rise that the mantra really came into its own.  Since the autumn of 2008 it has quite literally become the pin-up of our current predicament, with even the BBC posing the question: Is this the greatest motivational poster ever?

So what yhou hold in your hand is the book of the poster-a modest attempt at inspiration for hard times, a restorative mixture of advice, entertainment, and inspiration to help you through.  In an age not just of recession but also of information overload, you need a source of wisdwm that doesn't hang about of mince its words, so these quotes have been chosen not only for their ability to echo the universal good sense of the original poster but also to echo the virtue of its brevity.  Drawing on over two millenia of common sense from home and abroad, from Cicero to Churchhill, Keep Calm and Carry On attempts to put its finger on the mess we are in and, moving forward from that sory mess, what can make life truly worthwhile.

Enjoy-and pass on the good cheer." 

So I'm going to do just that.  If I read a particular quip or quote I like, then I'll go ahead and share it.  Hopefully it will be an enlightening and inspiring thing to do.  We shall see!  

The first quote, at the beginning of the book, before the inspiration, it says,  "Wise men don't need advice.  Fools won't take it." - Benjamin Franklin

With thanks to Barter Books, Home of the original WWII poster

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Day 1, January 1st 2014:

I'm finally reading a book that I was given years ago.  A book that I've started many times, but never finished.  This year, I'm determined to finish it.  This is a book that I love, that has given me, and many of my friends much inspiration.  A book that I have given copies of to many others.  A book I NEED right now, above all else.  This book is "Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy" by Sarah Ban Breathnach (See also:

Day 1 - A Transformative Year of Delight and Discovery.

For day one the book instructs me to me to, "carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand."  It also says, "But this year, instead of resolutions, write down your most private aspirations.  Those longings you have kept tucked away until the time seems right.  Trust that now is the time.  Ask the questions.  The Simple Abundance path brings confidence that the answers will come and we will discover - day by day - how to live them."

A friend, Kevin, from my old singles ward up in Farmington also posted this inspirational little tidbit on Facebook today:  "Day 1 was fun! Very meaningful and productive! Hey what're some of your new years resolutions? What'd you resolve to change in your own life this year? What are you making different? How will your life contribute more this year? What are commitments you made about this year and where did you draw the line? Tell me tell me tell me! I want inspiration! I need your examples in my life friends!"

So I've been pondering a lot today, thinking a lot about the past, especially the recent past.  I've also been thinking about the future.  I've finally pulled myself enough out of this hole that I can actually see a future for myself.  So what do I see?  What do I want to see?  What do I want to happen in my future?  Here's what I want, what I will strive to do over the next year, in no particular order.

I want to live life.  I've been doing this more than I have in the past, but I want to live my OWN life, not live it for others anymore.  I think this has been a great disservice to both myself, and to those who I've been "living" for, because I haven't truly been living.  I've just been depending on other people for, well, everything.  And in return I've been giving everything, and in the end, that leaves me with nothing.  I want to stop this vicious cycle, and start truly living, and living for myself.

So that leaves me to question, what do I need to do to actually start living my own life?  That's when I start to think about my priorities.  My family has always been my first priority to me, which I think is as it should be.  The problem is, we've become too enmeshed in ways, and too distant in others.  So what do I need to do to change that?

First, I need to stop depending so much on my family.  I've been doing well with that in some areas, such as mentally and psychologically, I haven't been depending on them for my psychological health as I have in the past.  I want to repair the relationships I have with my family members, which I think I have been doing, but need to do more of.  So first I would like to contribute more to my family.  Some of you know my situation, while some don't.  I'm currently living with my parents, and have been for, well, way too long.  This has been out of necessity, as with my back problems, I haven't been able to work, and because of that I haven't had an income, and therefore haven't been able to support myself.  Because of this, my parents have graciously accepted me back into their home, and support me in every way possible.  I think I've become too comfortable in this situation, and need to change it.  I need to contribute more to hearth and home, as it were.  To do this I think first I need to first finish my application for Social Security Disability.  I think I've been putting this off mentally because it scares me.  It feels like the hangman's noose hanging around my neck, and that if I do get accepted for Social Security Disability, that's it, I'm done, I'm no longer part of a contributing society, I no longer support myself, etc.  I need to stop thinking that way.  I need to remember that I contributed a lot to Social Security when I was working, and that's why the program is there in the first place.  Second, I need to stop thinking of it as a permanent solution, or permanent situation.  I may have to be on it for a while, but that doesn't mean forever.  I can still follow my other dreams and aspirations, that will hopefully lead to a self-sufficient and independant life.  So goal number one is to complete my application for, and then file for, Social Security Disability.

While I'm doing this, that will bring me to my second goal.  I want to pursue my other goals and dreams, which are to become self-sufficient by selling my artwork, my crafts, crafts supplies, vintage items, and the jewelry I make via online websites and such. First I need to get a new camera, so that I can take pictures of my wares for sale.  So I need to save what little money I have, and set aside some of it for a new camera.  My dad also said that he wanted to buy me one for Christmas, one like my brother's, so I think with that money, and the money I set aside, I can get a decent camera.

That same goal must include my continuing to work on my various artwork and crafts.  I need to spend more time finishing projects, and doing research to find out things like where to get prints of my artwork made so I can sell them.  I also need to open more Etsy shops, shops on Artfire, and work on opening my own website and portfolio.

That leads me to my third goal, which is to increase my knowledge, and participation in the art community, and to continue to perfect my skills in artistry, crafting, jewelry making, etc.  To do this I'm going to participate in local events (I've already signed up to, and committed to do the Magic on the Sidewalk festival - a local sidewalk chalk art festival.  I'm really looking forward to that!).  I also want to continue to study and practice my skills, and learn more techniques, methods, etc.  So that's my third goal.

Fourth, as I talked about earlier, I need to live life for myself, and not for others.  I recently got out of a fast and furious serious relationship, and I don't want to make the same mistakes in future relationships that I did in that one.  I think this means evaluating what I want, and only dating people that fit what I want in my life.  That means dating people that not only have things in common with me, but have the same goals and values.  I think that's one of the biggest things that was missing from my last relationship.  Yes, we had a lot in common, but we weren't on the same page as far as life goes.  So I'm looking for someone that's looking for the same things that I am.  That includes someone who has goals and aspirations, someone that is successful in whatever they do, someone that is in it because they're looking for a permanant relationship including marriage and family, someone who not only believes in, but loves God.  Someone that respects themselves, and respects women. Someone that actually WANTS to be with me!  In my last relationship it felt like I was always having to force him to be with me, or to even want to be with me...that's not right.  He should naturally just want to be with me, and like doing so.  A good friend of mine recently said to me, "Anyone that would leave you is a fool."  That's what I want, someone who wants to be with me so much that they couldn't imagine leaving me, or not having me in their life.  I want to feel that way too.  So my fourth goal is to have successful and meaningful relationships with others, whether that be a romantic relationship, relationships with friends, or familial relationships.  I want to live my life for myself, and I want to be around people that have good, positive qualities; not the toxic people I've been around for so long.

Fifth, I want to get over my last relationship, and learn from it.  I don't know if I'll ever get the closure I want, but I pray that I'll get the closure I need.  I think I'm getting there, and having a good support system has been the biggest help I've had in getting as far as I have, as fast as I have.  I also want to learn from the good and the bad things that occured during my last relationship.  But most of all, I just want to move on with my life, and get over all the hurt and the pain that came with my last relationship, especially when it ended.  I want to let go.

Sixth, I want to better myself as a person.  This includes a lot of personal things that I'm going to have to go through, and a lot of things that I need to fix.  I want to continue on the good paths that I'm on, and end the bad ones.

Seventh, I want to renew, and strengthen my bond with my Heavenly Father.  I think my last relationship had a lot to do with me falling away from the Church, and I want to get back what I lost when that happened.  This is going to take a lot of work on my part, but I know I can do it, because I've been through so much worse, and come out the other side a better, stronger person because of it.  So in living my life, and in all aspects of it, I want my Heavenly Father, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be a part of it, and to be my guide in living.

Eighth, I want to continue to become healthier physically.  In the past year or so, I've lost the nearly 100 pounds I gained back over the past few years, and I want to continue this trend of being healthier, being more active, getting out more, losing weight, eating better, etc.  I'm on the right path so far, and want to continue, and increase my momentum in increasing my health physically.

Ninth, I want to become healthier mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  I've let a lot of negativity affect my life over the past several months, and though I've mostly gotten away from the main source of that, I want to cut it off completely.  I want to get back to my roots, to who I really am, and be true to myself and my beliefs and values.  I lost sight of that, but thankfully my spirit was strong, as was my testimony, and I didn't lose myself completely.  So I want to find myself again, and this time I want to keep myself, and not lose myself in another person, or in a relationship.  I'm definitely going to go back and get more professional counseling to help me in achieving this goal, because I know I need the help and expertise of others, and can't do this alone.  I'll also turn to my great support system, as well as my Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ to help obtain these goals.

Tenth, I want to find myself again.  As I said, I want to remain true to myself, but first I have to get back to myself (if that makes sense).  Again, my biggest goal this year is to find myself again, live my life for myself, build happy and healthy relationships, and follow my goals, hopes, dreams, and prayers.  I know that if I stay true to myself, I'll be much happier, and that will make those around me all the happier as well.

Well that's it in a nut shell, as it were.  That's by no means the end of my long list of goals, hopes, dreams, and prayers for this new year, but it's a basic outline.  I think it's a good starting point, and well, I can only go up from here!  Sometimes we have to reach the very bottom before we can rebound back up to the top, and I'm in the process of doing just that.  So here's to looking up, going up, moving on, and moving forward!  Happy 2014, everyone, may it be a blessed and truly happy year for us all!

Kindest Regards,
Ashley Merrill