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Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss Was a Major Force in My Earliest Forays into Literature

Thanks to my mom, I’ve been an avid reader since I was about 4. She took my sister and me on regular forays to Lewis for Books, a small, independent book store owned by a husband and wife who, to my young eyes, seemed as old as the dinosaurs. I suspect they were much younger than they seemed to me, but still, the store is long gone, which is sad for future readers. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis introduced me to books I added to my growing list of favorites, and later to those of my daughters.

I learned a lot from every book I read, whether it was horses, foreign countries, or, in the case of Dr. Seuss, how to be a good person.

The Man Behind the Moniker

https://twitter.com/drseuss20144783Theodore Seuss Geisel, known to the world as Dr. Seuss was a man of many talents. Author, poet, illustrator, cartoonist—he had all the bases covered. Though never a parent himself, he knew how to entertain children and give them a reason to want to read. His stories have a rhythm and tone that’s irresistible to children of all generations, and many have been turned into films and plays.

Though much of his work took him into the political arena, especially in the years which encompassed WWII, he had, in my opinion, a remarkable insight into social issues and a knack for simplifying them so they were both entertaining and enlightening for young readers.

Whether it was seeing the difference between right and wrong in the disobedient and often destructive Cat in the Hat, the inclusiveness and recognition that different doesn’t mean wrong in Horton Hears a Who, or our responsibility for the damage we do to our environment in The Lorax, it’s impossible not to consider the consequences of our behavior while reading the works of Dr. Seuss.

Inspired to Write Because of What I Read

Although the Dick and Jane books were still the staple when I was in elementary school (and prompted my infamous declaration: “This book is boring! I’m going to be a writer when I grow up!”) Dr. Seuss wrote in a way which not only used words at the right level for early readers (Cat in the Hat used only 236 common words), but injected lessons in a way which taught without pressure.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dogfog/5204935882/in/photolist-8VWE6Q-6FR4PG-DEEKw-bsF6i-cpi3Wd-dk9u1v-8BntLm-UGRZCH-fQcPnR-dhnn9s-fQcPgM-fQupxU-bKacYT-UGRZtV-iLNUA-kX4rWL-a3Sspv-61cUZi-AvxRBm-a3VVrF-i9PxxA-qHWpW2-AvxoHG-bz1N74-a3RRKM-fHdw26-BqLtuU-BqLFA7-B1WeW9-buhdFm-UGRZiK-UGRZpX-UQTX4N-EkYNF6-UQTX7U-UGRZsn-TC1PJN-fQuqyd-Unj5Bd-a3Spzc-rrT2hS-a3VxnA-BivGa1-UGRZma-UQTWLd-Bt5PfM-a3VvMo-61cUX8-z6xzb6-Avxt6EEven today, when I watch or read The Lorax I see how both collective and individual greed and lack of consideration for limited resources hurt us all, and think twice about making choices which exacerbate our already suffering Earth and society.

I’ve also learned a lot in recent years about how isolating ourselves in the mistaken belief we have every single resource we need to thrive and succeed within ourselves is hurtful and harmful, not only to ourselves but to everyone we deprive of our own gifts. Dr. Seuss was all about working together, even if, at first what you created was mischief.

He also taught me some things are worth the risk, whether that risk be physical, or emotional. Following the common school of thought may be safer, but there’s no room for growth, and what’s common isn’t always what’s right.

Above All, We Must Be True to Ourselves

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my 6 decades and counting. But I’ve also learned a lot of wonderful lessons. Some have been painful, usually because they were thrust upon me when I was most resistant. Others have been life-changing, like learning that my mother’s ability to express her vulnerability (willingly or not ) made her a stronger person than my dad who lived his entire life encased in an unyielding suit of armor.

In fact, it was by taking up the pen just as Dr. Seuss did that I learned the most about myself and the lessons which had created the person I looked at in the mirror every morning and night. My work may not waft through the brain with the flow of music; the point and counterpoint of poetry, but it reflects my own, true voice, just as his did. In fact, it’s because of Dr. Seuss that I do allow my own personal voice to shine brightly. He taught me I needn’t pretend to be or believe anything that isn’t genuine. He made me realize (though it took a number of years for it to truly sink in) that I am perfect the way I am.

But most of all, he taught me that being my unique, quirky, authentic self is exactly what I’m supposed to be, and that I needn’t make apologies to those who don’t understand. They have their path, and I have mine. Neither one is more right than the other. We’re all exactly where we’re supposed to be, and have our own set of lessons to learn. Just because I’m not as far ahead as some people with some courses of study doesn’t mean I can’t be further along in others, and in fact, in all likelihood, I am. As a result, we all have things we can teach others, and things we can (and should) learn from them too.

Using My Early Exposure to Dr. Seuss as a Compass for Life

Because he opened my mind to the possibilities, I continue to grow, even decades after I read his work on a regular basis. Because his messages were so powerful and applicable, I revisit them almost daily. But the one which resonates most strongly these days is one of social consciousness. I know it’s an area where I’m still lacking and put my daughter (a person half my age) up as an example of following a path towards a more conscious, aware, compassionate way of life.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ay

In fact, she has been motivated by her own early exposure to the good Doctor. She used one of his quotes in her wedding, engraving it on a piece of tree trunk for her ring bearer to carry in lieu of the standard satin cushion.Created in Canva

She had one of her favorites tattooed on her leg along with a truffula tree to remind her every day that success is simply putting one foot in front of the other.

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.

If you ask me, that’s about the best life-lesson we can have, and pass on to our children and grandchildren.

Gratitude, Too, Is Seussical

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful to my mom and Mr. and Mrs. Lewis who introduced me, not only to Dr. Seuss, but to literature as a whole. I’ve taken many a journey around the world and back (and even to the stars) between the covers of a book.
  2. I’m grateful for Linda Clay who has inspired me to get on with my writing and stop wasting precious time.
  3. I’m grateful for Trello which helps me keep on track with my writing, just as MyFitnessPal helps me keep on track with my diet and exercise routines. Tools are good things, especially when memory isn’t enough.
  4. I’m grateful for balance in my life. I switch easily between creative and analytical, self-care and work, recognizing it’s all necessary to make me a well-rounded and contributing member of society.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, challenges, my disappearing comfort zone, confidence, baby steps, successes both small and grand, friendship, joy, love, happiness, opportunities to help others, early mornings and late nights, peace, health, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

December 28, 2014 Time for a face lift (or is that a change of face?)

Something came over me, something strange, something new…

…and with that something, I knew I needed to make some changes. The first of those changes is this blog. At first, I thought it only needed a face lift, but the more I played with themes and colors, the more I realized that what was needed was more than just a face lift, but a complete change of face.

You see, I realized that I had outgrown my original theme, quite dramatically. It only took me the last year to figure it out, too! Though the web address will remain survivingandbeyond, I find that since the onset in 2009, I have truly grown beyond merely surviving.

Leaps of Faith and other sudden and thorough sparks of energy.

What began, with a little help from my friends, with a leap of faith in late 2013 has grown into a brand new lifestyle, for better or worse. In fact, when asked if I’d consider looking for a job in my old profession again, I reacted with very real horror. And so, along with the thematic change you might have noticed overtook my blog this weekend, you’ll find that the name has also changed to reflect the path I’m currently treading. So, my loyal readers and followers, allow me to present the new and improved blog:

Leaps of Faith: Dancing outside my comfort zone

I’ve discovered that even on days when I hang around the house in my pajamas, I am still living outside of my comfort zone now, if for no other reason than I don’t have anything more than my faith that financial prosperity is just a sailor step and two wizards away; that as long as I keep dancing, keep moving, keep growing, whatever I need will be there when I need it. Not only what I need, but the means to support the causes I believe in; those which take into consideration the health and welfare of our children and animals.

The strides I’ve made in the last year may seem puny on the surface, but changing ones life and livelihood so completely still, like anything else, requires baby steps. Maintaining this blog at the level to which it has been maintained is, in and of itself, no small feat. But to complete one novel and be 50,000 words into a second is nothing short of amazing, given that it isn’t what I was doing for the last 30-odd years. It takes time to twist my head around into the direction I mean it to go.

As I seem to have finally grasped the direction I mean to take, 2015 should see further evolution and growth. I expect to see some new ideas, a growth in the amount of material I produce and variety in what I produce. I expect to see completion of some classes I signed up for in 2014 and use of the information I glean.

Numeralogically speaking, my birth year is 9 which is represented by the Hermit in Tarot. I have certainly been living up to that image as I pursue a career which is largely done in the privacy and safety of my own environment. The Universal year, 2015 is 8 which is represented by the Strength card. This is an apt card for a year which will require perseverance and strength of character as well as strength of purpose.

The real kicker, though, is my personal year which is 6 and is represented by the Lovers. This indicates partnerships, contracts and choices to be made in my work environment which will change my life for the better.

All in all, changing my blog is only a small step towards what lies ahead in the coming year. This prompts me to add another affirmation to the stickies which ring my monitor (good thing it’s an extra large one!)

The New Year sees me becoming what I was meant to be

Which leaves only my gratitudes tonight, or a smidgen of them, anyway, as to list them all would require several posts, and even then, I’d surely still omit a few.
1. I am grateful for the love and support I am receiving as I wander around, seeking the path for my new journey.
2. I am grateful for the leap of faith, and the support I received to take it last year. I am more certain than ever that it was the right thing to do.
3. I am grateful for my unwavering spirit, even when things don’t appear particularly successful.
4. I am grateful for the groups I’ve joined this year which have provided insight and direction on many levels.
5. I am grateful for the healthy lifestyle I’ve embraced as I search for my new path, and which is, in fact, a leg on that road.
6. I am grateful for the vivid dreams I have which may not always stick, but leave wisps in my brain which come back to the surface when they are needed.
7. I am grateful for the company of my cats who are often the only ones I speak to for a few days. They show their appreciation for my almost constant company in so many ways.
8. I am grateful for my daughter and my friend Candy who have encouraged me along this road, but never beat me up when I failed to produce as much as I might have had I treated my days like a job.
9. I am grateful for the ladies form my A.R.T. class who gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get out of a lifestyle which was killing me slowly.
10. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, support, love, joy, inspiration, faith, health, harmony, peace, gratitude, lessons and prosperity. (that piece of land overlooking the beach, an artists retreat and cat rescue may be dreams now, but they will ultimately be reality.)

Namaste and a very Happy, prosperous New Year to all.

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