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I just received this from Morning Coffee and feel it is appropriate for the
day!  Have a good one and go out and ride!  Its a beautiful day in the
neighborhood here in Ohio!  Carolyn Loedeman

There's no denying it: criticism can (and often does) hurt.
But no matter what you do in life, you expose yourself to
the possibility of being judged unfavorably.  Even if you try
to remain in the background, avoiding all confrontation, you
still must make decisions - minor ones, maybe, like where
you eat and what you wear.  And, rest assured, not everyone
will agree with your choices.

So, since you are going to receive criticism no matter what,
let's take a closer look at how you can best handle (and even
benefit from) it!

The next time you are criticized, consider the following points:

1. Criticism is often nothing more than a reflection of personal
preference.  Again, regardless of what you do, somebody won't like
it.  Accept that people have diverse backgrounds, preferences and
interests.  You won't please everyone, so don't even try.

2. Don't take it personally.  Sure, this is easier said than done.
However, the critics generally aren't trying to prove that you have
no value as a person.  Rather, they're revealing their dislike of
your idea or your performance.  Let them have their opinions.  In
the end, you decide whether or not to let another person's remarks
bother you.

3. Strive to learn from their words.  Find some truth in their
statements - even if only a shred.  There is usually some accuracy
in critical comments.  The critic may not be tactful, and the
remarks may be greatly exaggerated, but there is often helpful
information which you can glean.  It's your job to seek out this kernel
of truth and benefit from it!

4. Don't be defensive.  Resist the temptation to argue with the
critic.  While it's only natural to try to prove that you are
"right" and that the other person is "wrong," this generally
gets you nowhere.

5. Accept that many people focus only on negatives.  The critic
rarely gives a full, accurate assessment.  He or she tends to
report only the negatives, even if there are plenty of positives
to mention as well.  Recognize that some people simply think it's
unnecessary to tell you what you've done right.  Instead, they
focus only on "helping" you - which, to them, means "correcting"

6. Realize that vicious, harsh comments come from those people
who are unhappy with themselves.  I've found that mean, angry,
insulting remarks spring from unhappy, insecure people.  They
have to vent their anger and frustration on someone and you've
been chosen as today's target!  Don't let these people bring you

Remember: not everyone will like you, your goals or your actions.
But don't let the fear of criticism stop you from doing what you
want.  Accept criticism as part of life, and learn from it where
possible.  And, most importantly, stay true to your own values and
convictions.  If others don't approve, so what!

Jeff Keller
 Attitude is Everything, Inc

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My Hero

It is Thursday. I hate Thursday. Today, multitudes of
parents and children make long trips in order to arrive at
this destination ... hell. It is a crowded and noisy place.
It is a place where people do not smile, a place where pain
and fear lurk around every corner. I exit the elevator on
the fourth floor, turn the far-too-familiar corner, and sit
in the uncomfortable chair. People are all around me, yet I
am alone. Although my journey has just begun for today, it
is not an unfamiliar one. I have been here many times
before. Twenty-one grooves in each tile. I have counted them
often. I settle myself in my chair because I know it may be
some time before my name is called. Suddenly, I hear a
strange sound. It is a laugh. I can hardly believe it, for
no one laughs on Thursday. Thursday is chemo day on 4B.

I scan the crowded reception area, looking for the
source of the laughter. I note child after child, parent
after parent. They all look the same - tired and frightened.
I am certain each is thinking the same thought: Why is the
treatment worse than the disease? My eyes lock on one
particular mother who is holding her baby, a boy of about
eight months. The laugh is his. He is bouncing on his
mother's knee. It is obvious this is the child's favorite
game. The mother's face is one big smile. She relishes the
brief moments of happiness in her son's short life. She
realizes it may be a while before he has the strength to
smile again. He, too, has been chosen to suffer an unfair
and uncertain fate. My eyes fill with tears.

I shift in my seat to get a better view of the baby. I
stare at his small, bald head. Baldness is not unusual in an
infant, but I know why he is hairless. Suddenly I become
angry with myself. I despise it when people stare at me;
however, here I am sharing the stares I abhor.

I shift my weight once again and sink more deeply into
the groove of my chair. A rush of emotions - anger, fear,
sadness, pity - surge through me. I remain deeply engrossed
in my thoughts for a long time. A booming voice interrupts
my reverie. It is the nurse summoning mother and baby into
hell. Simultaneously the bouncing and laughing cease. The
mother picks up her son. As they walk past me, I look at the
baby once more. He is completely calm. His eyes are bright
and there is an expression of complete trust on his tiny
face. I know that I will never forget that expression.

This is but one of many Thursdays. However, on this
particular Thursday, many months into a seemingly endless
series of treatments, I learned a lesson from a little baby.
He changed my life. He taught me that anger, tears and
sadness are only for those who have given up. He also taught
me to trust. This I will carry with me always. Today, my
little hero is doing fine. His last treatment is in sight
and his future looks bright. I can honestly say that I am a
little surprised. That bright-eyed baby appeared so pale and
sick that day. However, that was before I learned to trust.

Everyone, some sooner than others, must endure his or
her own personal "hell on earth." It is important to keep
searching for the small joys, although they are sometimes
the most elusive. Trust that these joys will appear,
sometimes unexpectedly, and often in life's darkest moments
 ... for instance, in the smile on a baby's face.

By Katie Gill
from Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul
Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty
Aubery & Nancy Mitchell, R.N.

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We don't always have to be strong to be strong.
Sometimes our strength is expressed
in being vulnerable.  Sometimes we need to
fall apart to regroup and stay on track.

We all have days when we cannot push any harder,
cannot hold back self-doubt, cannot stop
focusing on fear, cannot be strong.

There are days when we cannot focus on
being responsible.
Occasionally, we don't want to get out of our pajamas.
Sometimes we cry in front of people.
We expose our tiredness, irritability, or anger.
Those days are okay.  They are just okay.

Part of taking care of ourselves
means we give ourselves
permission to "fall apart" when we need to.
We do not need to be perpetual towers of strength.
We ARE strong.
We have proven that.

Our strength will continue
if we allow ourselves the courage
to feel scared, weak, and vulnerable when we need to
experience those feelings.

Today, help me to know that is it okay to allow myself
to be human.  Help me not to feel guilty or punish
myself when I need to "fall apart."

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