Elizabeth Venart, Licensed Professional Counselor: Creating Counselor Wellness through Education, Consultation, & Community BuildingHomeBackgroundCounselingResourcesInspirationsContact Elizabeth Venart

Life can be challenging. In order to build resiliency and sustain hope, it is often helpful to share stories of inspiration and triumph and to read prose that reminds us of the importance of nurturing all aspects of self: physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and creative. This section is a venue for sharing inspirational quotes that teach wellness practices for daily living. If you have a favorite quote that you would like to share, please forward it to Elizabeth Venart at evenart@comcast.net.

Today's Inspirational Quote

Source: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1982), pp.48-65
“Everything has its own Inner Nature. . . The Way of Self-Reliance starts with recognizing who we are, what we’ve got to work with, and what works best for us.

“How would you explain it, Pooh?”
“With a song,” he said. “A little something I just made up.”
“Go ahead.”
“Certainly. . . (cough).”

How can you get very far,
If you don’t know Who You Are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don’t know What You’ve got?
And if you don’t know Which To Do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you’ll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
Of all the best that can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.

. . . Sooner or later, we are bound to discover some things about ourselves that we don’t like. But once we see they’re there, we can decide what we want to do with them. . . . In a similar manner, instead of struggling to erase what are referred to as negative emotions, we can learn to use them in positive ways. We could describe the principle like this: while pounding on the piano keys may produce noise, removing them doesn’t exactly further the creation of music. The principles of Music and Living aren’t all that different. .  .  . So rather than working against ourselves, all we need to do in many cases is to point our weaknesses or unpleasant tendencies in a different direction than we have been.

In the story of the Ugly Duckling, when did the Ugly Duckling stop feeling Ugly? When he realized that he was a Swan. Each of us has something Special, a Swan of some sort, hidden inside somewhere. But until we recognize that it’s there, what can we do but splash around, treading water? The Wise are Who They Are. They work with what they’ve got and do what they can do.

. . .  The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it. For within the Ugly Duckling is the Swan, inside the Bouncy Tigger is the Rescuer who knows the Way, and in each of us is something Special, and that we need to keep.

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Past Inspirational Quotes

Source: Shelter for the Spirit: Create your own haven in a hectic world (1997) by Victoria Moran, pp.67-68.
“Even when time is a problem, most of us get our work done. We keep our houses reasonably clean. We care for our children. We take the care in for an oil change. . . We do what we have to do. What we want to do, however, may never get done. . . .

“Write down everything you want to do before you die. It doesn’t have to be reasonable. Just write it. Visit a pygmy tribe in central Africa. Write it. Locate my best friend from sixth grade. Write it. . . . When you catalog your heart’s desires, it sets in motion a chain of events that is indeed uncanny. It’s as if your subconscious reads the list and sets about to make it happen. . . . We tend to downplay the importance of fun and of making our dreams come true, but these are our defenses against regret. Schedule in time for sheer pleasure, and keep your schedule flexible to allow for impromptu delights. . .

“We were conditioned early in life to see work as more valuable than play, but play is the work of children. It is the finest way to learn, and it needs to continue throughout our lives. In school, we had courses that were “solids”—math, grammar, Latin, history—and “nonsolids”—art, music, poetry, sports. But what makes life worth living today, the fact that you can conjugate a verb, or that you can still recite Sara Teasdale and hit a pretty decent tennis serve. Program your mind with this: Recreation is required. It is not optional. Look at the word: recreation. The time you give to it recreates your soul. There’s no waste in that.”

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Source: A Way of Being (1980) by Carl R. Rogers, pp.43-44.
“On the basis of my experience I have found that if I can help bring about a climate marked by genuineness, prizing, and understanding, then exciting things happen. Persons and groups in such a climate move away from rigidity and toward flexibility, away from static living toward process living, away from dependence toward autonomy, away from defensiveness toward self-acceptance, away from being predictable toward an unpredictable creativity. . . . When I am exposed to a growth-promoting climate, I am able to develop a deep trust in myself, in individuals, and in entire groups. I love to create such an environment, in which persons, groups, and even plants can grow.

“I have learned that in any significant or continuing relationship, persistent feelings, had best be expressed. If they are expressed as feelings, owned by me, the result may be temporarily upsetting but ultimately far more rewarding than any attempt to deny or conceal them. . .

“I like my life best when it faces outward most of the time. I prize the times when I am inward-looking—searching to know myself, meditating, and thinking. But this must be balanced by doing things—interacting with people, producing something, whether a flower or a book or a piece of carpentry.”

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Source: The Art of Doing Nothing (1998) by Veronique Vienne, pp. 82-87.
“In the pursuit of tomorrow, we often run into scheduling potholes—those waiting periods that force us to linger in the present tense. Stuck in the “now” (for how long, we don’t know), we must wait patiently for the next available ride into the future. It is a chance to take a breather. But no. Far from enjoying the lull, we feel frustrated, impatient, jittery. We look at our watches and are annoyed to find them still ticking. One of our worst fears is to be left behind as the world rushes toward its destiny.

“We firmly believe that time flows in a continuous stream, twenty-four hours a day, rain or shine. But, so far, no scientist or philosopher has been able to prove without a doubt that time goes in one direction, from left to right, from the past into the future. Sure, time can be measured, but it can be plotted only in relation to a number of other phenomena, like the position of the sun or the ticking of the energy inside atoms. In and of itself, time doesn’t seem to exist. No wonder we feel foolish when we are made to wait: We are trapped in an invisible cobweb of our own making. . .

“Waiting is not a prelude to the future. If anything, it is a prelude to the past. The precious minutes, hours, or days we invest anticipating an event—the return of a friend, the birth of a child, the purchase or a house, or the last chapter of a book—make everything more memorable. Take the time to wait: In doing so, you are manufacturing the stuff of your souvenirs. Dawdle in the present tense. Give your future a past to remember.”

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Source: The Theft of the Spirit: A Journey to Spiritual Healing (1992) by Carl A. Hammerschlag, pgs. 42-44.
“The Exodus is a story about the escape from a narrow place and it is a metaphor for the narrow places that all of us move through in our lives. . . It is only by negotiating our way through the narrow places that we liberate ourselves from the constraints of our tunnel vision and become the heroic survivors of our own journeys. . . . Fear keeps us stuck in the narrow places . . . keeps us stuck or sends us running off in any and every direction, instead of following the path of health and growth. . . . When you let fear rule your decision-making, you’re not choosing your own path. A Rwandan proverb says: You can outdistance that which is running after you, but not what is running inside you. . . . Life can’t be mapped out in advance. Our journeys inevitably present us with things we can’t understand—catastrophes, illnesses, traumas, losses, miracles, and ultimately death. Life is a journey of discovery, not certainty, and the best way to make it is simply to take it. . . . Since you can’t know about your life before you live it, you just have to do it. If you have to know it before you do it, then you’ll only do what you’ve already done. The heroic journey is in recognizing and confronting your fear so you can move past it to discover your truth. Where you are is probably where you ought t be. It’s a place where you can learn something you probably need to know. Trust the process, not the plan. The end of our journey is ultimately a result of faith, of believing that the journey is worth making. Before its end, we all experience lots of little leaps of faith. You can’t know what will happen before you make the leap, because if you think about anything long enough you’ll be immobilized by fear. Analytical thinking is based on preconception, but the learning that comes from experience is based on living. That kind of learning—about ourselves—is what makes us heroes. To make a leap of faith you have to be able to ask yourself one question: Is this what my heart tells me I need now?”

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Excerpt from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, p.153-154
"Over an extended period of time, being an artist requires enthusiasm more than discipline. Enthusiasm is not an emotional state. It is a spiritual commitment, a loving surrender to our creative process, a loving recognition of all the creativity around us. . . Enthusiasm is grounded in play, not work.

Far from being a brain-numbed soldier, our artist is actually our child within, our inner playmate. As with all playmates, it is joy, not duty, that makes for a lasting friend.

True, our artist may rise at dawn to greet the typewriter or easel in the morning stillness. But this event has more to do with a child's love of secret adventure than with ironclad discipline. What other people may view as discipline is actually a play date that we make with our artist child: "I'll meet you at 6:00 a.m. and we'll goof around with that script, painting, sculpture. . .

Our artist child can best be enticed to work by treating work as play. Paint is great gooey stuff. Sixty sharpened pencils are fun. Many writers eschew a computer for the comforting, companionable clatter of a solid typewriter that trots along like a pony. In order to work well, many artists find that their work spaces are best dealt with as play spaces. Dinosaur murals, toys from the five-and-dime, tiny miniature Christmas lights, papier-mâché monsters, hanging crystals, a sprig of flowers, a fish tank. . .

Remember that art is process. The process is supposed to be fun. For our purposes, "the journey is always the only arrival" may be interpreted to mean that our creative work is actually our creativity itself at play in the field of time. At the heart of this play is the mystery of joy."

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Source: Peace is Every Step (1991) by Thicht Nhat Hanh, pages 11-12.
“While we practice conscious breathing, our thinking will slow down, and we can give ourselves a real rest. Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful. It helps us to stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.

“Of course, thinking is important, but quite a lot of our thinking is useless. It is as if, in our head, each of us has a cassette tape that is always running, day and night. We think of this and we think of that, and it is difficult to stop. With a cassette, we can just press the stop button. But with our thinking, we do not have any button. We may think and worry so much that we cannot sleep. . . .According to the method of conscious breathing, when we breathe in and out, we stop thinking, because saying “In” and “Out” is not thinking—“In” and “Out” are only words to help us concentrate on our breathing. If we keep breathing in and out this way for a few minutes, we become quite refreshed. We recover ourselves, and we can encounter the beautiful things around us in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here. . . .”

“When we are in touch with the refreshing, peaceful, and healing elements within ourselves and around us, we learn how to cherish and protect those things and make them grow. These elements of peace are available to us anytime.”

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Source: The Listening Book: Discovering your own music (1991) by W.A. Mathieu, p.88.

“You may tell yourself that you are not musical, but that is not true. What is true is that you are not as musical as _______
(fill in the blank with someone more musical than you, from J.S. Bach to Aretha Franklin).

“The purpose of music is for you to become who you are, to bring what is inside you into play, to spin a vibrating thread through the world, to spark life. Music is everyone’s birthright, and everyone who wants to can claim it. There will always be someone more musical than you; but there is always more music in you to uncover—more pitches, more rhythms, a finer sense of proportion, a clearer perception of your aural world. I have never seen a person who said of their breath, “That is someone else’s breath,” or a person who did not recognize the music in their own soul once it was shown to them. Even if other people have told you the opposite, the day you claim your innate music is a musical day for the whole world.”

Sing, chant, dance, play a musical instrument, hum along with the music on the radio, celebrate the blue skies with a whistling tune. In song, we can release stress and bring ourselves more fully into the present moment. Today, claim music as your birthright and allow yourself to feel the joy that creating music brings.”

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Source: Shelter for the spirit: Create your own haven in a hectic world (1997) by Victoria Moran.
Pages 124-126

“I know it is not always easy or even possible to have precisely the kind of holiday you would design. Because we’re connected to other people, holidays can ask that we observe rituals—religious or commercial—that are not in alignment with our worldview. They can also cause us to spend time with family members who push every emotional panic button we’ve got. On the other hand, if we’re estranged from our families or unable for one reason or another to be with them on what are supposed to be “family days,” we lament the separation. With such a definitive no-win situation, it’s little wonder some people would rather forget holidays altogether. That is one option. But there is benefit for our homes and our souls in taking a different tack.

“The key to appreciating any holiday is to accept it as it is. The fireworks might be duds or the crust on the pumpkin pie could burn, and there’s no telling what some relative might say or do, but as long as the day isn’t too heavily orchestrated, you can enjoy it anyway. Tradition is worth preserving, but we frustrate ourselves when we expect things to always be the same. Comparing one year’s holiday to another’s is asking for trouble, because we tend to view the past through rose-colored glasses. If we don’t compare our celebrations to another year’s or another person’s, every holiday can be memorable in its uniqueness. . . .

“Regardless of the outward way you’ll spend some holiday or other, keep it in your heart exactly as you want it. If this is a day of spiritual significance to you, feast heartily on spiritual food. If it’s a day for reflection and preparation, like your birthday or New Year’s Day, find some time for yourself and a place to be quiet in the midst of the hubbub. If your soul longs for a certain observance that isn’t taking place, see that it does—even if you make it a postscripted celebration the next day or the next week. . . .

“If you foresee a special day with nothing special for you in it, a day you might have to spend alone, do something about this ahead of time. Make plans to either find a way to serve, celebrate with other people, or give yourself a quiet day for retreat and renewal. . . . Make it a day for every wish-come-true that you can do for yourself. Read what you like. Walk. Create. Contemplate.”

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Source: Cassou, M. & Cubley, S. (1995). Life, paint and passion: Reclaiming the magic of spontaneous expression. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Who does not feel the tingle of excitement at the prospect of painting? Paint is sensuous. Its rich, vibrant colors and its yielding smoothness make you want to taste the delicious enjoyment of applying it to paper . . . Wherever you are is the entry point. To do the simple thing with integrity—a point, a line, a scribble, a rough image—is the most creative response you can make. Instead of struggling and forcing something special to happen, you do what you can do. And that is enormous, because it’s a gesture that comes entirely from within, without yielding to the pressures of how you should do it and what it should look like.

Creation is never about changing yourself; it is about meeting yourself, probing deep into your own core. Creation wants only to fulfill your deepest desire: to know and accept yourself as you are. There are no conditions, no invitations to show at the door. You are at the door and your brush is the key. Nothing is a mistake, everything is an extension of your being. You go into what is there, you discover the courage to face what exists. You step into the middle of yourself and move from there.
“If you wait for inspiration, you may wait a long time. . . The more you wait, the more you think and get entangled in the tight net of success and failure. You do not need an idea to paint, you need only a brush. If you do not know what to do, just paint! (p.10-12).

Gather together some paint, paintbrushes and canvas and paint. Have fun with it. Experiment. Play! Painting is a creative, spontaneous outlet for our feelings and experiences. As helpers, it is essential that we find ways to express ourselves and release the pain we feel and witness. We are all creative, and there are so many ways to enjoy our creativity—through
m usic, art, movement. Create space in your life today for spontaneity and fun.

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Peace is every step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life by Thich Nhat Hanh
"Investing in Friends" page 87

Even if we have a lot of money in the bank, we can die very easily from our suffering. So, investing in a friend, making a friend into a real friend, building a community of friends, is a much better source of security. We will have someone to lean on, to come to, during our difficult moments.

We can get in touch with the refreshing, healing elements within and around us thanks to the loving support of other people. If we have a good community of friends, we are very fortunate. To create a good community, we first have to transform ourselves into a good element of the community. After that, we can go to another person and help him or her become an element of the community. We build our network of friends that way. We have to think of friends and community as investments, as our most important asset. They can comfort us and help us in difficult times, and they can share our joy and happiness."

As helpers, we are skilled at providing support to others and can sometimes neglect our need to receive support as well. It is important that we nurture our friendships, as the nurturing we receive from our friends can help sustain us in our work and in our lives. Remember to take time out to laugh, to play and to connect with people.

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Viktor Frankl's "Man Search for Meaning" page 170
"There are three main avenues on which one arrives at meaning in life. The first is by creating a work or by doing a deed. The second is by experiencing something or encountering someone; in other words, meaning can be found not only in work but also in love. . . . Most important, however, is the third avenue to meaning in life: even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph."

We can find meaning through all three avenues. It is important that we allow ourselves to pause and notice the heroic so that we may be inspired by courage. Even as we pause to reflect on the resiliency of others, let us always take special note of our own courage as well.

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