Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

So many of us feel responsible for everything. That’s what I said, every friggin thing. Hello folks some things are out of our control. The thing is to live proactively, rather than feeling guilty about something you could not have done anything about anyway, and being beaten and knocked about living reactively.

Am I talking to myself as well, oh yeah. Of course I am. Don’t all writers…lol. This life is a wonderful gift to be appreciated and enjoyed. Not a curse to be slogged through and endured. The same circumstance can surround 2 different people, with to totally different effects on their lives. What makes the difference?

Each person’s attitude. The winds blow on all of us, it’s up to us how we set our sails.

Came across this article on beliefnet. Enjoy.

Living the Serenity Prayer:
By Eileen Flanagan

Many of us know and love the Serenity Prayer:

The Wisdom to Know the Difference

God, grant us serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
Courage to change the things we can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Many of us spend too much time anxious about things we cannot change: the economy, the weather, traffic on the freeway, or people who annoy us. As a result, we don’t have the energy to make the most of the opportunities we do have. Recognizing the difference between what we can and cannot change can help us live more peaceful and productive lives.

Acknowledge Your Conditioning

Some people have a harder time with the first line of the Serenity Prayer, accepting the things they cannot change, while others have a harder time mustering the courage to change what they can. Often these patterns can be traced to family or cultural conditioning. Reflect on the messages you received growing up. Were you expected to be passive and submit to what others wanted? Were you trained to be in control, so that letting go is more difficult for you today? Sometimes just acknowledging your family or social conditioning can help you to let go of old patterns that are no longer serving you.

Pay Attention to Your Inner Voice

When you get a feeling that something isn't right, pay attention. That may be a sign of something you need to change. We human beings have a tremendous ability to deny our inner truths or talk ourselves out of making changes that might seem scary or difficult at first, but usually we know what is right deep down. Pay special attention to intuitions that persist over time or that come with a sense of peace and clarity. The more you pay attention to your Inner Voice, the more clearly it will guide you.

Know Yourself

Many spiritual traditions teach that knowing yourself is a lifelong pursuit, but one that can help you feel more at peace with yourself and other people. Spending time alone—walking in the woods, meditating, or journaling—can put you in touch with what's really going on inside you. When you acknowledge these feelings, you can make a conscious choice about what to accept and what to change, rather than letting yourself be ruled by unconscious feelings.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes, but many of us waste too much energy beating ourselves up over them. While psychologists have not agreed on one standard definition of wisdom, they do agree that one of the qualities wise people share is the ability to learn from their mistakes. When things don't go the way you hoped, instead of focusing on what you did wrong or what someone else did to mess things up, think about what you might do differently next time.

Cultivate Optimism

Monitor your pessimistic thoughts and try to find evidence to refute them. Psychologists have found it is particularly helpful to censor categorical words like "never" from your thinking. Just because something didn't work out last time, that doesn't mean it won't work next time. Instead of simply repeating positive affirmations, point out to yourself the things that you can do to bring a more positive result in the future. Cultivating optimism has been shown to make it much more likely you'll be able to change the things you can, as well as accept the things you can't.

Practice Letting Go

Life is full of opportunities to let go and trust. Practice with the little things: a lost earring, a flat tire, or an uncooperative toddler. In such situations, take a deep breath and monitor your thoughts. If you are angry or frustrated, don't pretend you are not. Just observe your own emotion, and then see if you can release it with a deep breath. For many people, prayer helps. Turning a problem over to a Higher Power can bring tremendous relief.

Cultivate Community

Whether it's a religious congregation, a Twelve-Step group, or just a gang of really good friends, community can help us develop wisdom. We need people who will tell us when we're acting wimpy or pigheaded, as well as point out our strengths and encourage them. We also need people who will support us when we hit tough times and cheer for us when we succeed. If you don't have such support in your life, think about where you might be able to find it. If you do have people like that, count them among your blessings.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference - Living the Serenity Prayer -

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Eileen Flanagan is the author of The Wisdom to Know the Difference: When to Make a Change–and When to Let Go. Visit her website

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip.
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream in Wyoming
Happy Healthy Hairballs: otherwise known as Pomeranians

Independent Beachbody Coach: Fighting Obesity one Person at a Time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Take off the Fat Suit

Beautiful day on the high plains of Wyoming. Got my workout in this morning. Day 4 of my 90 Day Fitness Blast. Today’s workout was Hip Hop Abs: Fat burning cardio. I used the weighted gloves today for the first time.

After I wrapped up Hip Hop Abs. I decided to review 10 minute trainer. I picked the lower body workout. Wow, it is seriously a workout in 10 minutes. Rather than just reviewing it; I did it. Feels great to actually be able to do it. I feel good, mentally and physically. Oh yeah there is a shoulder ache, big surprise there, NOT.

Mainly I feel good about me. Oh and yes Min Min and I did walk the hill. She is puffing worse than I was at the end of my workouts. Keeping it at just one trip up the hill for this week. Next week we are going twice. It’s a great cool down for me and is already making a difference in how she acts. She is brighter eyed, and playing more already. Obesity is a life thief, in humans, and our furry families. It steals your quality of life before it actually kills your body.

Funny thing though. I have been hiding in a fat suit for so long that at times the thought of not wearing it is terrifying. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve sabotaged myself. Then hid in my fat suit once again.

A note I read this morning really struck a chord with me along these lines. I was in the Team Beachbody site doing a bit of research after my workout. Checking on some product for a client. I popped over to Tony Horton’s corner. Tony Horton is the creator of 10 Minute Trainier, P90, P90X, Tony and The folks, One on One with Tony Horton. Truly excellent workouts, for all age ranges; from kids to senior citizens and all the rest of us in between.

Check it out: I copied and pasted it below. Seriously folks become one of his fans on facebook. Tony Horton. He is an excellent trainer.

Letting Go & Accepting Change: by Tony Horton

Experiencing grief is a natural reaction to loss. Loss is a part of life. Most of us associate grief with the death of a loved one, the loss a job, a relationship, or even when we receive a medical diagnosis which threatens our health. Events on a grander scale will trigger anxiety and grief. The 9/11 attacks, hurricanes and natural disasters create a sense of fear, loss and lack of security. Any time we feel a sense of loss, we grieve and the grieving process affects us in ways that can be confusing, complicated, and overwhelming.

Each person’s grief is unique and your grieving process will be different from friends or family who are experiencing the same or similar loss. Most people who experience grief go through physical, emotional and behavioral changes while working through the pain of loss. Knowing what to expect may help you deal with the process as you or someone you love goes through it.

Normal grief symptoms span the physical, emotional and behavioral, including low energy, changes in sleep or eating patterns, feelings of numbness, sadness, anger, guilt or anxiety. During the grieving process, people become withdrawn, unproductive, fidgety and restless. Concentration is difficult and sometimes visual or auditory hallucinations can take place. Typically, symptoms are most intense and frequent shortly after a traumatic event and should gradually subside over time. Keep in mind, it can take anywhere from months to years before a person fully comes to terms with a loss. If the sense of closure doesn't happen, functioning normally can be difficult and the risk of physical and/or mental illness increases.

Working through the pain of loss is a complex process. Expect two steps forward and one step back toward closure. There is no right way to grieve, but ultimately the sense of loss and grief should subside over time. If the road gets rockier and doesn't seem to smooth out after a while, seek assistance from a grief counselor or other mental health professional who is knowledgeable about grief issues. A professional can help you better understand your grief and assist you in moving forward through the healing process.

You may be wondering what any of this has to do with exercise and eating healthy food. I'm here to tell you that the main reason why so many people can't maintain a fit and healthy physique for a whole lifetime is because they're not willing to let go of the person in the day 1 photo. Intellectually you know that the fit and healthy you is a better you, but the person you were before is a dear old friend that's hard to abandon. There are memories, experiences and pleasures that make up who you were, and it's hard to wrap your arms around the idea that this person is gone forever.

Going from overweight and out of shape to fit and healthy (in a relatively short period of time) is daunting and traumatic for many people. Nobody talks about it because there's no clear cut way to deal with it. Some folks make the transition easily while others still see themselves as the overweight, unhappy person they were on day 1. The thoughts and memories that cause profound emotions from your past don't go away just because you lost weight and got strong. Day 90 (after doing Power 90 or P90X) is a very scary day for many people. While it's an amazing accomplishment it also signifies the death of an old friend and the start of what can be a difficult new beginning. The old me is gone, now what?

The loss of the old you can be as sad and overwhelming as the loss of an old friend. You have transformed yourself physically and with that comes emotional and behavioral changes. There's nothing on the website or in the guild book that helps you with the emotional aspects of this change, so talking about it is step one. Just like with any traumatic event it's helpful to know there will be bumps in the road alone the way. A place of understanding and acceptance comes with time. This is why it's so important to start a dialog. Talk to friends and family and encourage them to support your important life altering change. We are here to help each other get through the good times and the bad. If you keep asking questions, keep doing your best and stay accountable to like-minded people, then the grieving period will be short and a healthy and fit lifestyle will be yours forever.
Author: Tony Horton


Really struck a chord with me. Hope it was helpful to you as well.
Totally on target. It's time to shed the fat suit.

Physically I am not capable of doing p90x yet. But I will be. One day, one workout, one step at a time. Right now I am doing a 90 day fitness blast: Hip Hop Abs, 10 minute trainer and walking spaced throughout the day. This I can do now. May add some Turbo Jam in a bit later. I turn 50 Feb. 5th, my wt is 282 lbs now 5 ft 7 inches tall, carry a decent amt of muscle mass, but way too fat. I want to be able to begin p90 x for my birthday. It will take a major change in body composition and conditioning to be able to do it.

Happy Birthday to me, good by fat butt!

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip
Mary E. Robbins & the Happy Hairballs
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream With our Pomeranians

Independent Beachbody Coach: Fighting Obesity to live life

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day One of My 90 Day Fitness Blast! Blasting off the Fat!

Ok, today is day one of 90. Hip Hop abs is a 90 day workout plan. So I’m rockin it for 90 days. Did measurements and weights yesterday morning. I’ll do the start pics for this set when David gets home from the rail.
Start Weight: 282
Neck: 15.5
Above Bust: 40.5
Bust: 47.5
Below Bust: 39
Waist: 41.5
Belly: 53.5
Hips: 56.5
Thigh: 33
Calf: 19.5
Rt Upper Arm: 15
Rt forearm: 12

At this point my over all weight loss is at 11% of my goal. Let’s see how far I can get it in 90 days of Hip Hop Abs.

My weight loss goal for this 90 days is 30 lbs. 282 - 30 = 252 lbs.

I’ll be taking pics at the end of 30 days. Then moving on to level 2 of Hip Hop abs. That’s the plan.

Be great to workout together. Perhaps not in actual location, but via face book updates and WOWY our online gym. You can join for free. We have excellent workouts, or use something you already have if you like. Just get up and move it... move it… move it…

Then post it baby… tell me what you’ve done! I’m excited to hear.

Got my workout in for today. Hip Hop Abs : Fat Burning Cardio.

Just go to and click on the beachbody banner at the top of the page. Sign up for the community, it’s free. Or even better sign up for the club, there are excellent benefits and it’s less than a cup of coffee a day.

Feels great getting healthy!

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip
Mary E. Robbins & the Happy Hairballs

Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream With Our Pomeranians

Independent Beachbody Coach: Feeling great getting healthy

P.S. Min Min got in on the workout today. She was dancing about in the chair while I was working out. Then we put on her purple harness and went for a walk out over the hill. My little fat Min Min has a couple of pounds to lose too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ok, I did it. I got back on the scale

Ok, I did it. I got back on the scale after going haywire since mom’s house burned down in April.

It’s been quite the year. April –Mom’s house burned down. Our family home of over 100 years. No insurance. I’m not going to make any comments on the insurance issue. Other than to say I was very unhappy about that.

May-Aunt Marty passed on. She was my favorite aunt. Still is for that matter. She lived into her 90’s. Long life for a human, but I still miss her.

June- Uncle Clarence passed on. His passing left conflicted emotions and attitudes on my part. He had 6 weeks of self induced suffering before a stroke terminated his physical existence in this life.

It’s amazing how different brothers and sisters from the same family can be. Simply amazing. I’m not going into the differences, I will just stand with they were very different people with very different personalities. Gee that would stand to reason now wouldn’t it, lol. Enough of that.

Mom has been living with my husband and I since the fire. It looks as if this will be a long term arrangement.

This has been an “interesting” adjustment for all of us. I would truly like to see her work on regaining her ability to walk. Sadly that ability has been forgone because of lack of use. Yes there are other issues there, but lack of use is the main component.

Yes it is painful to regain muscle use after years of neglect. But it is a choice. There are some other choices coming up over the coming months as well. At this point she still can not transfer from chair to potty to chair. We are using an easy pivot lift to make the transfers.

She is moving her feet more. She needs to regain strength in her legs, arms, and abs. That will take work and time. Painful? Yes it is. There is a trade off, be trapped in a chair or workout. Her choice.

Depending on what choices she makes over the coming months, I will be making some choices as well. Only time will truly tell that story.

As far as making choices goes. I chose to get on the scale this morning. I dropped the ball on my own fitness quest through this spring and summer. I have been rehabbing my knee. Happily I can walk on it, and do stairs with it as well. Of this I am very happy.

Now to get back into some serious working out. I’ve been walking around doing ranch rounds and such but not pushing it. Now comes the push.

I want 50 pounds off this year. I started the year off at 299 lbs. Dropped down to 274. Lost my focus regained up to 282 lbs.

Focus is back on point. Goal: 249 lbs by December 31st 2009. Be great to be under that weight. But reaching that milestone will be excellent. That would leave me 100 pounds to take off this body.

282 minus 249 = 33 lbs to lose by December 31st 2009. With a solid workout plan and follow thorough that is doable.

I will be posting my workouts. Accountability and all that.

How am I going to accomplish this feat:
Yes 50 lbs off in a year is a feat for me.

Journal food intake.
Feed my body the nutrients it needs.
Eat when hungry, journal instead of emotional eating.

Ok: what workout am I engaging in to start with. I am going with what was working for me early this year. Hip Hop Abs. will be my main workout for now. I am going to include other workouts along the way to check them out and to mix it up even more. P90, 10 minute trainer, Turbo Jam and the like.

Two of my fitness goals are to be able to complete P90X and Insanity! Focus, Desire, Work, Follow Through, Accomplishment!

Use the elliptical. Walk.

There is a half marathon the end of may I would love to walk. They have a fun run, full marathon and an ultra marathon as well. At this point I’m aiming for the half. In January I will re-evaluate my position and perhaps go for the full marathon. It would be great to walk a marathon in my 50th yr.
Time is flying by. Need to get out to the livestock… so that’s all for now.

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip
Mary E. Robbins & the Happy Hairballs
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream in Wyoming

Independent Beachbody Coach: Good by fat fanny.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I'm Up, I'm Up, I'm Up. Woof baby

I’m Up, I’m Up, I’m Up. Woof baby. Interesting night last night. Waited up for David to come in from work. Never really know when he will make it in, just the nature of the job. He finally ambled in around midnight. I still had supper on the stove for him, fortunately it was something that cooks for hours and hours to meld the flavors.

Nothing majorly dramatic, it was a pot of ham and mixed bean and veggies. If I say so myself, it turned out pretty well. He ate a bit and we spent some time together visiting, and watching tv, before he went to bed. Late night on the food channel lol, fantastic cakes.

I love seeing what they create, then it was the Dean boys traveling Tennessee. Yes there is some seriously good food in that state. Beautiful horses too.

I do believe I will check out the Tennessee Tea Cakes, experiment a bit with the barbeque they were talking about, and mmmm that Jack Daniels cake was looking yummy… lol

There was a significant amount of smoke in the air when David came home. By the scent of it, it wasn’t just my burn pit. I’ve been using a large old stock tank for a fire ring. It’s time to dig the ashes out. Although I think I’ll be waiting until it’s a bit cooler before I do.

Then I believe I’ll put them on my garden spot. I have an idea for a welded burn pit that would use a top screen as a spark arrestor. I think I’ll sketch up a plan and take it to the welder and see what he/she would charge me for it. It’s pretty simple really. Be good to have something put together to utilize the heat put off this winter as well. Although the chickens and cats appreciate it where it is.

No lice or mites on those chickens, they dust in the ashes on a regular basis.

Around 4 this morning my alert sensors went off. The alert sensors in my head. They are on hypersensitive when I can smell smoke anyway. I heard a shuddering sound. First it sounded like a fire really cranking it. At least that’s what triggered the wake up I believe. I got up and looked outside for an orange glow. There was none to be seen. The tall grasses and weeds from the rain this year make me extra wary.

I could still hear it, the air was shuddering. I couldn’t see them but it must have been a group of helos flying low. Or one huge one with multiple rotors.

One night David saw something coming over the southern horizon. It was pitch black out that night. We stood out in the front yard and watched as it drew nearer. What looked like an it from the distance, was actually several helos flying low in formation. Beautiful birds, those are. Speaking in general of course as I could not see the detail on those in particular. I can say by the lights they were holding a perfect formation.

At any rate, this mornings bird/birds went on their way I came back inside, took care of mom’s needs, logged onto facebook and farm town while I was waiting on her, visited with a friend a bit and went back to bed for a few more hours.

Such is life on Robbins Run Ranch…

Today is a busy one, livestock to care for as usual, need to prep for a 12:30 meeting, work out some kind of workable scheduling plan. Not set in stone but a workable guideline. Things have gotten totally out of skew since mom’s house fire. Time to get it together so I can function more effectively.

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip… with all it’s various adventures
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch: Living the Dream on the High Plains of Wyoming

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Thoughts abt the Presidents School Address...

I’ve heard so much nonsense flying around about the President’s remarks to America’s Schoolchildren. People keeping their kids home from school, schools refusing to air the address. How sad is that?! Rather than listening and actually hearing what the President of the United States has to say, they are censoring their children, trying to keep them in ignorance. That is truly a sad thing.

I decided I wanted to read what he actually said, and later when the video is posted on the Whitehouse website I will watch it. My thoughts on the President’s remarks. He was right on target. Wouldn’t matter who said it, the remarks themselves were right on target.

They not only apply to the children of this country, but to each and every one of us.

What did I hear him say? You may hear something else, this is what I heard. Each of us is responsible for our own education. When it come right down to it, it’s your decision; your responsibility.

Success isn’t easy; it takes work and a good education. It’s up to you to educate yourself. Pay attention in school, university, wherever. Make an effort to learn. You determine your success; you determine the success of this country. Your success and the success of this country depends on its people.

That’s what I heard.

What did you hear? Or in this case read. The actual remarks are posted below. I copied and pasted them directly from the Whitehouse web page. Here is the link if you would like to see for yourself.

Personally I think it’s time we left politics (Republican/Democrats), and prejudice (not just race: religion, sexual preferences, regional, etc.) issues behind and concentrated on human issues. Wouldn’t that be a thought, put our differences behind us, educate ourselves, and work together. Work together for the benefit of the country, as well as for ourselves. In a world view it would be working together for the good of the planet… those are my thoughts. Agree or disagree, that is your choice; please engage your brain before you engage your mouth…

Life is a journey, enjoy the trip
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch

The President’s comments are pasted below…


Wakefield High School
Arlington, Virginia

12:06 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody. All right, everybody go ahead and have a seat. How is everybody doing today? (Applause.) How about Tim Spicer? (Applause.) I am here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we've got students tuning in from all across America, from kindergarten through 12th grade. And I am just so glad that all could join us today. And I want to thank Wakefield for being such an outstanding host. Give yourselves a big round of applause. (Applause.)

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it's your first day in a new school, so it's understandable if you're a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now -- (applause) -- with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you're in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer and you could've stayed in bed just a little bit longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived overseas. I lived in Indonesia for a few years. And my mother, she didn't have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school, but she thought it was important for me to keep up with an American education. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday. But because she had to go to work, the only time she could do it was at 4:30 in the morning.

Now, as you might imagine, I wasn't too happy about getting up that early. And a lot of times, I'd fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I'd complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and she'd say, "This is no picnic for me either, buster." (Laughter.)

So I know that some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I'm here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I'm here because I want to talk with you about your education and what's expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now, I've given a lot of speeches about education. And I've talked about responsibility a lot.

I've talked about teachers' responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn.

I've talked about your parents' responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox.

I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working, where students aren't getting the opportunities that they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world -- and none of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools, unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. That's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.

I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a great writer -- maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper -- but you might not know it until you write that English paper -- that English class paper that's assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor -- maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new medicine or vaccine -- but you might not know it until you do your project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice -- but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to train for it and work for it and learn for it.

And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You'll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You'll need the insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that -- if you quit on school -- you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.

Now, I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what it's like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us the things that other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and I felt like I didn't fit in.

So I wasn't always as focused as I should have been on school, and I did some things I'm not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was -- I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, she has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn't have a lot of money. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you, because here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That's what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn't speak English when she first started school. Neither of her parents had gone to college. But she worked hard, earned good grades, and got a scholarship to Brown University -- is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to becoming Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I'm thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who's fought brain cancer since he was three. He's had to endure all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer -- hundreds of extra hours -- to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind. He's headed to college this fall.

And then there's Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods in the city, she managed to get a job at a local health care center, start a program to keep young people out of gangs, and she's on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

And Jazmin, Andoni, and Shantell aren't any different from any of you. They face challenges in their lives just like you do. In some cases they've got it a lot worse off than many of you. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their lives, for their education, and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That's why today I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education -- and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.

The truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject that you study. You won't click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That's okay. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. J.K. Rowling's -- who wrote Harry Potter -- her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understood that you can't let your failures define you -- you have to let your failures teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time. So if you get into trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one's born being good at all things. You become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. The same principle applies to your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right. You might have to read something a few times before you understand it. You definitely have to do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and that then allows you to learn something new. So find an adult that you trust -- a parent, a grandparent or teacher, a coach or a counselor -- and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you, don't ever give up on yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and they founded this nation. Young people. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google and Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask all of you, what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a President who comes here in 20 or 50 or 100 years say about what all of you did for this country?

Now, your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books and the equipment and the computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part, too. So I expect all of you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down. Don't let your family down or your country down. Most of all, don't let yourself down. Make us all proud.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)

12:22 P.M. EDT

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Ramblings of a Run Amock Mind

Today is the third day of September in the year 2009. So what of it. Absolutely nothing. I am listless and bored today. I visited with a friend a bit, did enjoy that. But there is an overwhelming sense of exhaustion engulfing my body and mind.

Well my body anyway. My mind is rambling over the book I just finished reading. The Odyssey Gene by Kfir Luzzatto. Interesting book, decent read. Decent storyline, frustrating questions. Frustrating because there are no actual answers. Well, no answers other than I have no bloody idea what to do. How do you fix it, the answer is you don’t. You can’t, it will have to fix itself one way or the other, and either and option is likely to be bloody.

The optimum choice would be for people to accept each other’s differences, agree to disagree, and simply live in peace. An active decision to live in peace. Do I actually see that happening? One word would answer that. Sad word that it is. NO.

No, people will continue to kill each other over perceived differences and created beliefs until the end of time, and probably beyond. Wasn’t it a disagreement that led to heaven and hell? A war outside of time. I wonder if people have actually thought about that. If it is a war outside of time that means it’s still going on. A war of the ages and beyond. How do you define a war outside of time? Indefinable.

Sometimes I seriously crave simplicity. Today is one of those days. The allergy attack, compounded by a panic attack I would wager, that my body endured yesterday has left me listless and lethargic. I feel like the energy that normally charges my system has been drained away, leaving a useless dead battery behind.

My mind is taking advantage of my lack of focus and control to skip from topic to topic and ponder varied outcomes. Resulting in even more exhaustion. It’s like a sprightly imp dashing about, digging into varied treasures, and artist colors mixing them randomly to see just what pops out. Zipping this way and that as if it is afraid of being caught and forced to focus on one direction for any amount of time.

What of genetics, of war, of colors, of peace, of planets, of God, of this and of that… spattering it’s pallet of random thoughts like a Jackson Pollock painting. Flitting from this to that with the dexterity of a humming bird and the quickness of nanoseconds.

She is exhausted, the reins are dropped, I’m free, I’m free, I’m free echoes around the interior of my skull. All the expectations of the day tossed in the corner like a pile of dirty laundry, as my mind flits over the stack of books I haven’t touched in months in my office library. They are covered in dust screaming to be perused, if not thoroughly read. Ok on to the next.

Look at the icons scattered across my desk top. Bored, not interested. What is next? The kennel is waiting, 300 liner foot of fencing is waiting to be put up. Ugh, what is next? Thoughts of God, of the possibilities of myriad realities, of life in dream states. What is real and what is actually illusion. Is our real life the reality we believe we live in or is it a dream state that this created reality is unaware of.

Is it better to be unaware? Does awareness lead to enlightenment and freedom, or to bondage and insanity?

Ah the questions of a run amok intellect.

And the race is on to the next random thought… do you suppose thought can travel faster than the speed of light.

I think I’ll have some brandy and see if I can catch the reins flapping wildly in the wind created by my racing mind… perchance to be a bit productive in this reality.

Life is a journey...or is it?
Mary E. Robbins
Robbins Run Ranch

'Daily Affirmation' Video