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One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important.
Every moment you are happy is a gift to the rest of the world.
What's got me all wound up, and what can I do to make it better?

Entrée:  It's More than just a Hat by Donna Doyon
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After years of buying poorly made coats from the local discount department store, I decided it was time to invest in a quality winter coat. My friend, Pat and I drove to Freeport, Maine to LL Bean, an outdoor clothing and sports store. The first coat I noticed when we walked into the women's coat department was a pumpkin orange colored coat. I tried it on.

"That's not a good color for you," Pat said.

"Really?" I asked feeling disappointed.

I tried the same coat on in red. Pat liked it, but I thought it was overpowering. I tried it in blue, but I didn't like the way that one looked either. I tried different styles in colors that were "me" - boring, neutral colors like tan, blue, or green.

But I wanted a change. My eyes kept going back to the orange coat. I tried it on a second time. Then a third time. I carried it around the store as I tried to make up my mind.

Finally, against my trusted, fashion advisor's better judgment, I bought the orange coat. I loved it! I felt good wearing it, and not just because it was warm. It made me feel daring, and different. It made me feel like I could take another fashion chance.

So I did. I bought a hat. Not a sensible knit cap that would keep my ears warm on frosty winter days, but a black felt hat, with a wide brim, and a satin ribbon around the crown. The kind that would fly off my head with the first gust of wind and have me chasing it across a parking lot.

My hat purchasing experience was similar to my coat experience. Except this time I went alone. I drove to Filene's at the Maine Mall and tried on a dozen hats. With each hat that I plopped onto my head, my disappointment grew. Hats just didn't look good on me. I was about to give up when a cute black felt hat caught my eye. I placed it on my head and walked to the mirror.

"Hmmmm," I said to myself. "Not bad."

I looked at my reflection from several angles. I liked it. But still, I wasn't sure. It wasn't what I originally had in mind. I held on to it while I tried on several more hats. I didn't like any of them. I tried on the black felt hat again. I looked at my reflection from several angles. I checked the price tag--$27. UGH. That was a lot of money for a hat I wasn't sure I would have the courage to wear in public.

I walked around Filene's pretending to shop. At every mirror I stopped, put on the hat, and stared at my reflection. I really liked it. But did I dare buy it? I considered my options. If I bought the hat and never wore it, I would be out $27. If I put the hat back, went home to think about it, and returned to purchase it later, I might not find it again. If I didn't buy it, I might always wish that I had. So I wrote out a check to Filenes for $28.35.

The store clerk put my precious hat in a plastic bag and I carried it out to my car. Once settled in the driver's seat, I took it from the bag, cut the plastic price tag off with my teeth, and placed it on my head. I wore it to the grocery store. At first it was really strange. I am not a hat person. I am not a fashionable person. But I wore it.

People noticed it! At work, in the grocery store, at my Toastmasters meetings, people noticed my hat. They called it "stunning," "great," and "becoming." I started feeling happy every time I put my hat on. I know that sounds silly, but for most of my life I have felt invisible. My new hat was getting people to see me.

I dared to wear something that few women wear anymore. I dared to carry myself more confidently. I dared to do something just for me just because it was something I wanted. In the two months that I've had my new hat, many women have said to me, "But I don't look good in a hat, you do." I laugh, because I know the truth. I only look good in this hat because I have the courage and the attitude to wear it.

Two months ago I dared to be different. I challenge you to be different too. The next time you go to the department store and some piece of clothing or jewelry catches your eye, take a chance on yourself and buy it. Then wear it. Wear it with light-hearted, "I'm going to have fun wearing this" attitude. Relax and enjoy the comments on your smiley-face tie, purple socks, or 10-karat cubic zirconia ring. Wear these items with panache and style. Hold your head high and celebrate your courage to be different.

Two months ago I paid a $27.00 for a new hat. My initial reaction was that it was too expensive. I didn't know then that the price included a new attitude.

About the author:

Donna Doyon has spent more than 18 years learning and sharing information on the way relationships work, how they impact our self-image, and the dreams we have for ourselves. Through the stories she writes and the seminars she leads, she can help you on your journey to making your good life great! Imagine, Believe and Become - visit

Main Course: Travel Light and Move Fast
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I am stressed out, I admit it. Often, stress manifests itself in strange ways. Over the last week, it was shingles, a painful recurrence of chicken-pox in adults, brought on by age and stress. Can't do much about the age thing... but I needed something to relieve the stress, so I decided to make some changes in my life and my lifestyle.

Just yesterday, I rearranged the furnishings in my home office. It turned out to be a task that took most of the day. Today, as I sit here writing, I am comfortable with the changes - so, it was worth the effort, for any number of reasons. Rather than holding on to something that wasn't working anymore, I decided to let my safe little place go, and step into the unknown. Small steps, but important ones.

Change is a process that is not 'waving-my-magic-wand' instantaneous. For instance, it may take as much as six months to recover from the effects of shingles. Hopefully it won't take that long, with diet and exercise - and a new job, I am praying... Nevertheless, like growing a beard (which I do every few years just to see how gray it may be), change does take time. Patience is the watchword - the benefits or drawbacks of change are not always readily apparent, and yet...

Being willing to want a better way, and being willing to ask for it in my life, guarantees that I will be shown a better way when the time comes. Also, I don't have to make huge changes in my life for it to be better. One act, one moment at a time, can result in monumental, unimagined, and positive changes in no time at all.

Not all changes work out for the best. Just because a change was right for me yesterday, doesn't mean that is meets my needs today. People grow and change. Situations have a dynamic to them, too. One set of circumstances can become another with just a small modification, and  flexibility is vital to my day-by-day growth and learning process.

What do I need to make changes in my life? According to Donna Doyon (see her article, above), it is a rather light toolkit: a willing attitude, an open mind, the courage to try new behaviors, a sense of humor, and an honest but kind heart.

Today, my load is light, and my movements are fluid. Peace of mind has taken first place in my life today, and the physical pain of this illness has taken a back seat, thank heavens. It will only get better from here, I am certain, because I have dared to do something different.

Michael Rawls, Friday's Inspiration © 2003

Second Helping: Talk Your Way Free From Stress by Anne Duncan
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I read recently that 75-90% of visits to doctors in the UK are stress related – as a group we don’t seem to be faring too well when it comes to coping with stress. Stress is a fact of life. Everyone’s life is a series of peaks, valleys and missiles – that’s what makes things interesting!

Of course short bursts of stress are actually quite healthy, the unexpected can result in an adrenaline rush that leaves us feeling alert, focused and alive. It’s the unhealthy; longer term “grind you down” stress that can lead to us experiencing symptoms such as mood swings and anxiety; indigestion, skin problems and so the list goes on.

So what can we do to protect ourselves? I’m not going to go into the lifestyle choices we should be making to help us deal with stress – regular exercise, healthy eating etc. we all know that. But what else can we do to get out from underneath that swamped feeling? One highly effective action involves communication. Set aside some uninterrupted time, at least half a day, for the whole team to get together and talk about issues, large and small, that contribute to feelings of stress at work. This should be an open, honest and non-judgmental discussion.

Look at the issues raised; some will be intrinsic to the type of business you are in, these stressors will simply have to be coped with. However you will find that many of the issues highlighted by some, or all of the team members, having been identified, will be relatively simple to lessen or eliminate altogether. For example, the implementation of a new system or making some changes to an existing one, perhaps a reshuffling of roles and responsibilities all can result in a huge reduction in the levels of stress experienced by the team; not to mention an increase in motivation and morale. It is important however, to arrange to meet together again in 2-3 months to discuss the changes implemented and progress made. This ensures accountability and action.

So what of the stressors we can’t do anything about? Well we may not have the power to eliminate them, but we do have the power to change our attitude towards them. We wake up in the morning with a limited amount of energy available to us for the coming day. Instead of focusing on the reasons for feeling stressed and wasting some of our valuable energy, we can choose to focus on the task at hand and the results we want to achieve. We can only choose one – reasons or results – we can’t choose both and be successful. So choose results every time! A shift in attitude is not the easiest thing to achieve and won’t happen over night; but with a bit of practice you’ll be surprised how soon you notice the return of that spring in your step.

About the author:

Anne Duncan is a Life Skills and Business Coach working mainly with Small Business Owners and Independent Professionals. She is based in the United Kingdom. Anne firmly believes that we can learn how to ‘get out of our own way’ so that we can move to a higher level, personally as well as professionally? Principal of Harmonia Life Skills and a member of the International Coach Federation, Anne can be contacted at or by visiting

Soup to Nuts: From the feedback button
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Arlene wrote, "As I read another of your weekly newsletters, I know that I will have much food for thought for the next week. Each week brings more insights and ideas to keep me going. You are so cheerful and happy to be doing what are doing, and it shows that you are loving what you do. Michael, you have so much to give to the world. You're in my heart and my prayers. Thanks for being such an inspiration. PS - Subscribe me to the daily inspiration, too!"

N-Spire yourself!® with a no-frills daily email, containing a simple quote from Friday's Inspiration, each Monday thru Friday. Just click the InboxInspirations link to subscribe, or click on the feedback button below, and ask for a one-time email sample. InboxInspirations is part of YahooGroups!

I have had several discussions with FI readers about Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of The Christ. I recommended further reading on the details of crucifixion to them. I have discovered an excellent article, written by a physician, found at - while not "enjoyable" reading, it is nonetheless most informative for the average Christian and non-Christian alike. Thus, I learn the true meaning of the word excruciating, from the latin for "out of the cross."

Margaret wrote, "Please pray for my precious grand daughter who may have a heart murmur. Please pray that she remains healthy and that nothing is wrong with her heart, thank you." John added his request to the list this week, "Please pray for L., my friend's 15 year old adopted daughter. Her life was one of severe neglect as well as physical and sexual abuse, even as small child. Now that she has been adopted by a loving family she cannot adjust to being loved and is fighting everything that is being done for her. She is filled with anger and rage. She has no self worth. Right now she is giving up on life and is making threats against herself and others. She needs much emotional and spiritual healing. Thank you and God bless!"

If you would like to express your concerns for loved ones, or yourself, in the form of prayer requests, send them to so we can help share the burden. Good news is welcome too! Write to and let's celebrate together!

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Just Desserts: Also Highly Recommended
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There have been more than 400 NEW AND UNIQUE visitors to the website during the last month - Thank you for your continued support! Over 500 of our partners on the Internet have graciously recommended visitors to Friday's Inspiration. Please take time to visit the "Highly Recommended" links below. Stories that touch the heart and the mind, stories that bring a smile to your face, or a tear to your eye, emailed each Friday morning. By sharing stories of compassion, understanding, and creativity, you and create a kinder, better world in which to live. Good enough to pass on! Get a FREE Subscription to 52Best today. Kindness has been Shmuel Greenbaum's personal response to terrorism. His wife, Shoshana, was murdered by a suicide bomber, one of over 100 victims that were killed or injured at a restaurant in Jerusalem. The result of his response touches millions of people through Kind Words, a free weekly email that contains inspiring stories along with successful techniques and exercises to improve your own ability to perform random acts of kindness.

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