ALABASTER JARS

Life in Abundance


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Less than 100 percent

The glass-is-half-empty kind of person would be stressed out over the 0.01% 🙂

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On Seeing Red

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

When Sky came along, it was Roy’s turn to play stay-at-home parent. Every day, they both spent time in anticipation of mommy coming home (which made me feel very special). Every day, there’d be a card or a handmade trinket waiting for me. But once in a while, they’d surprise me and personally deliver my gift.

A visit to mommy’s office was always very exciting, but Sky would get impatient during the trip. It was only 11 miles to the office, but distance and time are, of course, beyond a toddler’s comprehension.

One day, Roy came up with a clever way to address Sky’s impatience. He said, “Mommy’s office is five red lights away. You can count them and know when we’re there.”

Sky looked at him, “You are wrong, Daddy.”

Patiently, Roy assured her that he knew what he was talking about. “I have driven on that road many times,” he said. “And I have counted the number of traffic lights. You just trust Daddy. Count the five times you see a red light and we’ll be there.”

Sky narrowed her eyes, let out a big sigh and clearly emphasized each word, “You. Are. Still. Wrong.” She continued impatiently, “You can’t drive through red lights to get anywhere. You have to wait till they turn green. So there are five green lights to get to Mommy’s office.”

That conversation told us a lot about the person Sky was going to grow up to be. And since those early toddler days, she has continued to reinforce in us, over and over again, the importance of a positive perspective.

You can spend your life seeing red, the stuff that slows your pace and cramps your style. Or you can live in anticipation of the green, the things that herald new opportunities and exciting options.


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Dung and Stars

by Fylvia Fowler Kline

Before moving to Nepal, I did my research. Lonely Planet, the Internet and an uncle who had lived there. But my information sources obviously did not prepare me enough. As I stepped out of the airplane, the smell hit me, almost knocking me over—the warm, pungent combination of diesel fumes, animal dung, and human sweat.

The hour-long drive from the airport was decorated with sights to match the smells. Animals and humans defecating side by side. Ancient buses grinding against one another, puffing black fumes. From somewhere deep inside my sterile soul came a silent scream, “Take me back to air-conditioned homes and litter-free streets!”

With every new day, I grew increasingly sensitive to every dung heap and diesel cloud. My daily walks were carefully orchestrated—wear shoes at all times; ensure pant legs end above ankles; use perfumed handkerchief to cover nose; and most importantly, don’t take eyes off the road. Always. Look. Down.

The inevitable happened one dark night. I stepped into a fresh, warm pile. In anger, I waved my arms into the black night and yelled out my every suppressed thought. And as I vented, the brilliant beauty hit me: Nepal’s coal black sky, far away and untouched by the pollution of its soil, showered me with the most beautiful stars I had ever seen—translucent, shimmering sparkles of perfect beauty. A canopy of gems, fit only for nobility; yet it shone on everyone alike.

Standing in a pile of dung, I was lost in exquisite beauty. All that time, while engrossed in combating the smells of Nepal, I missed out on the beauty. All that time, I was looking down instead of looking up.

Standing in that heap, I realized that life is kind of like dung and stars. There’s the good and the not so good. I can either spend my time looking out for the smelly stuff in life or I can revel in the beauty.

Life is what we make of it. A heap of dung. Or a thing of beauty.