Thursday, May 31, 2012

Make Good Art

Make Good Art
Based on a commencement
address by Neil Gaiman

We are born.
     We grow.
          We learn.
     We grow some more.
          We learn some more.

Sooner or later we develop abilities. 

          Good abilities
                    Worthwhile skills

Let’s call that “making art”. 

So, we make good art.

Life happens.
Things come along, some good and some not so good.
After we have a time of processing, grieving or whatever is appropriate when life happens, we ultimately have to get back to making art.  So, in that spirit, read on.

-When the cat explodes, 
     make good art.
-When your spouse loves another,  
     make good art.
-When someone cuts you off on the freeway, 
     make good art.

-When the door is slammed in your face, 
     make good art.
-When the tomatoes are rotten, 
     make good art.

-If the big commission doesn’t happen, 
     make good art.
-If the mortgage is foreclosed on, 
     make good art.

-When the lottery ticket wins, 
     make good art.
-When the doctor says “No cancer”
     make good art.
-When you buy a new house, 
     make good art.

-When you get married, 
     make good art.
-When the grandkids come, 
     make good art.

In season, out of season,
    rainy days, sunny days,
        happy days, sad days,
            creative days, dry days,
                birth days, death days,
                    make good art.

Make                         Good              Art!

Sometimes life is hard.

Sometimes life is good.

Make              Good              Art!

Are you knee-deep in alligators?
                          Make            Good              Art!

Do you love your wife? 
                          Make            Good              Art!

Need a new car? 
                         Make             Good              Art!

Always and forever – Make Good Art!

Do what only you can do best.  Make Good Art!

You see, we do what each of us can do to the best of our abilities.  We make good art.

I love what Neil Gaiman said in his speech – “Most of us find our voices only after we have sounded like a lot of other people.”  That is okay.  That is how we learn to make good art.

It‘s all about being uniquely you.  You have what no one else has – You have “you”.

So we go about our lives. 
We write
  we play
    we dance
      we sing
        we create,
      we build and design,
    we talk and work
  and love and do life
like no one else,
because we are us – you and me.

Do you ever feel like you’re walking down the street naked, exposed to the world?  Do you feel like you are showing too much of you?  That may just be the moment when you are beginning to get it right.

That could be your coming out moment, the moment when you start to make good art.

Find your voice.


P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Never Believe in Never

Never Believe in Never

Lance Armstrong won seven consecutive Tour de France races.  He developed testicular cancer along the way.  How many times was he told that he would never race again?  We will never know, however, he always believed in his dream.

Steve Jobs co-founded and was fired from Apple Computers.  A few people, more than a few, came along and told him he was done, finished.  He had no more miracles left to pull out of the hat.  Yet Steve Jobs always believed in his dreams and his abilities.  Look at the legacy he has left behind.

Walt Disney faced bankruptcy more than once.  He was told he had unrealistic dreams and fanciful notions.  But Walt believed in magic.  

A man named Jeff was shot and seriously wounded in a failed robbery attempt at his restaurant.  Based on the expressions on the faces of the medical team in the operating room, he saw failure and defeat.  Finally, he said to them, “Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.”  Jeff believed.

In 1958, a sixteen-year-old boy began walking toward his dream.  He wanted a college education so he set out from his tribal village in Nyasaland, Africa with the intent of walking to Cairo, Egypt where he would board a ship for America. 

Within five days he was out of money and food, and his water supply was almost gone.  Yet he kept walking. 

He faced the heat and the cold of the dessert, and he faced sickness, but onward he marched. 

It took two years to cover his 3,000-mile trek, and in December 1960 he arrived on the campus of Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Washington to begin his academic career. 

After graduating and more educational opportunities, he became a professor of political science at Cambridge University and an author. 

Legson Kayira had a dream and he held tenaciously onto it.  He had a dream he could believe in. He never believed in never!

I've wrestled with the title of this post.  I almost changed it to Always Believe.  I understand the dynamics of headlines and their ability to grab a reader’s attention.  But I stuck with my original thought, especially after talking with Carolyn.

Yes, Never Believe in Never does have a bit of a negative take to it, sort of, but it is strong in “grab” effectiveness.  And I do want to grab you for 2 ½ minutes while you read this.

So, thank you.  Now, consider these questions.

Do you believe, or do you think it could never happen for you?
Do you hold a lofty vision for your future?

And the biggest question of all is …
“What are you going to do about your future? 
                                                     your dreams? 
                                                     your hopes?

It’s a mind game mostly.  Once we make up our mind, then the rest is just putting one foot in front of the other and finding the people, the knowledge and resources to pull it all together. 

There is work to do.  There always is.  You are going to fill your days with activities anyway.  So why not fill your days by working on you?

May your dreams be worthy of the effort required to make them happen.

Always, always believe!

And above all

Never Believe in Never!

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Changed, Not Reduced

Changed, Not Reduced

Life happens. 
          Tragedy strikes. 
                    Mistakes are made.
                              Setbacks exist. 

Maya Angelou said this about that: 

-I can be changed 
by what happens to me,
but I refuse to be reduced by it.-

I think she may be onto something. 

9-1-1- happened, but look at the way we Americans responded.  We united with hands and arms linked together.  We banded together and conquered and are surviving.  Sure, we were set back.  But we were not reduced by it. 

My friend Chuck owns a large retail store.  A once trusted employee of his embezzled a rather large sum of money.  That is a game changer.  On some days, Chuck wondered if he would even be open the next business day.  But he continues.  He had to structure things a bit differently, but he is not reduced by it.

He’s still in the game.  He’s still open.  He’s still serving his customers with grand style.  He still has a smile on his face. 

-He could be bitter.
-He could be distrustful of all employees now.
-He could have given up.

But he chose to conquer.  He chose to rise above it all, repair the damage done, and move on down the road.

Chuck is not reduced by this awful experience.  He is better for it.  Different, but better.

Chad Hymas was a farmer on April 2, 2001.
On April 3, 2001 he was a quadriplegic. 
He was changed by that accident, but he was not reduced by it. 

See the difference?
See the mindset that’s at play here?

It’s not what happens 
to me that matters.  
Its how I choose to respond 
to what’s happened 
that makes the difference. 

If you read the biographies of famous people, sooner or later you will see that tragedies sometimes come along in buckets and truck loads, but somehow they find a way to overcome.  They may be temporarily down, but they’re not out.  They chose to grow because of these circumstances, not be reduced by them.

Steve Jobs helped start Apple Computers.  He was ousted.  He came back stronger and more focused than before.  In the intervening years he found other venues for his talents. 

Franklin Roosevelt had polio.  It was a game changer for him, but he wasn’t reduced by it.

Stephen Hawkins contracted motor neurone disease in 1963, yet he became known as one of the most brilliant mathematical minds in the world.  He is the stuff of which legends are made.  I once skimmed his book A Brief History in Time.  He was changed by this disease, but he was not reduced by it.

What is on your plate?  What has come along in your life and now you are dealing with this game changing incident?

There are a few questions that others have asked when life-changing circumstances come along.  Here they are.

1.      What just happened?  
       How much damage has been done?  
        They understand what has happened as fully as possible.    
2.      What can we do to stabilize the situation for      the moment?
3.      What will it take to restore, rebuild or               reorganize?
4.      To whom can we turn for help now that this         has happened?
5.      What is a reasonable time line for                      restoration?
6.      What new directions might we pursue from here?
7.      What can I possibly learn from all of this?

One thing I do know – you can rise from the ashes of your challenge.  Others before you have and you can too. 

Usually, there are no quick fixes.  But, with one step at a time, one day at a time, order does get reestablished, and recovery happens.

Change is not all bad.  Change can be good.

Be enlarged by your opportunities.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I'm not Much, but I Am Somebody

I’m not much, but I am somebody. 

I like to write books and blogs.  I’m not Thoreau or Twain, Robert Frost or Edgar Allen Poe, but I am somebody. 

I’ve sung a solo or two in my lifetime.  I’m not a Pavarotti or Andre Bocelli.  No, not at all.  You see, I’ve sung a few flat notes in my lifetime.  But I am somebody.

I took mechanical drawing in the tenth grade.  I made a D.  I’m mechanically challenged you might say.  I’m no Frank Lloyd Wright, but I am somebody.

I’ve done a good bit of public speaking in my life.  I’m no Billy Graham.  Sometimes I’ve flubbed my speeches, but I am somebody.

I’ve directed a few choirs and orchestras in my years of living.  I’m not in the league of Leonard Bernstein.  I’ve dropped a few batons as a conductor. But I am somebody.

I am a drummer.  I’m no Gene Krupa or Buddy Rich.  Twice in my drumming life, I’ve dropped my drum sticks at crucial moments in a performance.  But I am somebody.

On most days, when you look at me, you wouldn’t see much.  I’m not the most handsome guy in the room; I’m not the slimmest, even though I have lost 30 lbs in 4 months.  But I am somebody.

You see, God emblazons each of us with the gift of his signature on our lives.  He puts within us a stamp of his image.  It is as much a part of who we are as is our DNA. 

If you are like me, you’re no work of art either.  You struggle with life just like all normal people.  But you and I are somebody just because we have the signature of God on our lives.  We have his stamp.  The Bible says we are made in the image of God. 

You and I, and the man pushing a shopping cart over there loaded down with all of his material possessions – we are all made in the image of God.

So, though we may not be prized by many people in this world, we are prized by God.

He has stamped our lives with his unique signature. 

He put something inside of us that continually makes us long for that connection with him.  We need a higher power bigger than we are.  We need some force and source that we can turn to at every stage of our lives. 

“Not much of a prize” you say?
“Nothing to see here” we muse?

Maybe … But when I see you I see the hand of God at work.  I see potential.  I see a future with hope.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Handicap?

What Handicap?

There once was a doctor in St Louis who met a young high school student who had lost his hand from the wrist down.  The doctor remarked about the young man’s “handicap” The young man quickly responded, “I don’t have a handicap sir.  I just don’t have a right hand.”

This amazing young man was one of the leading scorers on his high school football team.

What moxie.  That means ‘determination’.

We all need that in our lives, don’t we?

Meet Chad Hymas.  On April 2, 2001, Chad was living life at full speed.  He was a strong, robust young farmer/rancher, and he had a successful landscape business.  His life was in order.  It was full and complete, with a lovely wife and two great kids. 

On April 3, 2001, a one-ton bale of hay fell on him, paralyzing him from the chest down. 

After something like this happens, you don’t run marathons, and you don’t earn an income.  Except for his ability to talk, Chad had to re-learn all the other functional skills one needs and uses every day of our lives, even down to dressing himself.

Was it frustrating?
Was it hard?
Did he experience discouraging moments?


What did Chad do?  As he regained his mobility and strength and learned to care for himself, he sought a way to be an encouragement and inspiration to others.  His goal was to ride a three-wheeled bicycle 513 miles.  The previous record for this feat was held by Art Berg, who pedaled his three-wheel bicycle 325 miles.

One fine July morning Chad left Salt Lake City for the 513-mile trek straight to the strip in Las Vegas – on a three-wheeled bike. 

The beginning of his trail was easy – maybe even fun.  Friends lined the thoroughfare, the TV cameras were out, and Chad could hear cheers and words of encouragement as he pedaled along. 

And then came the middle of his miles.  The crowds and cameras were gone. 

Along came the heat of the day.

Along came the crickets.  At one point in this trek he encountered an infestation of Mormon crickets.  He was low to the ground on his bike, and they got into his cloths, his seat, and the crunch and smell of smashed crickets was overpowering.

Yet Chad kept pedaling.

And then along came three ugly cousins - discouragement, despair, and fatigue.  He wondered more than once if he had what it took to finish the trip.  Yes, he had a “handicap”, but he had something else too.

He had determination.

He had moxie.

Chad made it to the end!  After 513 grueling miles, Chad pedaled into Las Vegas to the cheers of his family, and the hoots and hollers of the throngs of strangers who came from inside the casinos to applaud as he rolled up The Strip.

They all cheered!

He wept. 

But he was victorious because of this dominating thought …

I may be a quadriplegic, 
but that doesn’t mean 
I am disabled.”  

Wow!  What an inspiring story. 

We all have some crutch we could use as a reason for ‘not’ doing something significant with our lives.  But really, it’s just a crutch.  What can we tackle?  What significance can we bring to someone or some institution in our corner of this world?

I have no desire to ride a three-wheeled bike 513 miles, but I can write words of hope, encouragement and inspiration that speak to people. 

What can you do?

Can you bake a pie?
Can you visit an elderly care facility?
Can you write a note of encouragement?
Can you call a friend offering words that heal?

Can you do something that matters in this world? 
Can you do something that adds value to someone, somewhere, sometime?

You may have a crutch or an ailment, but is it really a disability?

Remember what Chad said

I may be a quadriplegic, 
but that doesn’t mean I am disabled.”  

Words of inspiration for all of us.

P Michael Biggs
Offering Hope
Encouragement Inspiration
One Word at a Time