Helen Keller

Enduring Insights From Helen Keller

How inspiring it has been to make a pilgrimage to Helen Keller's brithplace, to sit and write on the very same bench where she sat and wrote, and to put my hand under the very same fountain/water pump where she put her hand and said her first word W.A.T.E.R. The docent, Shirley Hale Harrell, told me a very cool story. The day Helen said her first word was a result of a distant memory. She lost her sight and hearing when she was 19 months old, (physicians today speculate it was meningitis). When she was a toddler, she called water "wa wa."

When her teacher Annie Sullivan repeatedly tapped the letters W.A.T.E.R. in Helen's hand that day, she finally connected the dots and realized that the cool substance flowing over her hand was "wa-wa." She was so excited, she ran around the yard learning the names of thrity more things that day (and 600 more in the next six weeks.)

Accessing words opened up and expanded Helen's world. Her breakthrough - and newfound ability to communicate and connect - led to her learning to speak and write and eventually become a world-renowned spokesperson and advocate for those with disabilities.

I am here doing the final proof of my manuscript SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week - based on the adventures and insights from my Year by the Water. I'll be turning it into my publisher, St. Martin's Press tomorrow.

In it, I share stories and and surprising epiphanies from my travels. My hope is they resonate with people and inspire them to love their life and focus on what will matter in the long run ... now, not someday.

As I tourned Helen Keller's museum and read the many quotes which graced its walls, I was reminded of the enduring power of words to help us make sublime sense of the world.

Please look at these eternally wise insights from Helen Kellen, some written more than a hundred years ago. Take a moment to appreciate and imprint them. Marvel at the power of language to transmit ideas, images and ideals that infuence us - for good.

You might want to print a favorite and post it so you'll see it every day to keep that concept in-sight,in mind so it acts as a moral compass.

Words matter. They have the ability to lift our spirits and center us in our resolve to be a better person. Read 'em and reap.

“No one has a right to consume happiness without producing it.”

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

“When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one that has opened for us.”

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.”

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.”

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

Here's to having sight and vision, to really SEEING the world as the blessing it is so we're more grateful for the gift of each and every day.

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Sam Horn, CEO of Intrigue Agency & TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create a life-work that adds value for all involved. Her books have been featured on NPR and in Fast Company, Forbes, New York Times and presented to Nationwide, Boeing, Capital One, NASA. Want Sam to share her inspiring message with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com


Closed Door? Open Door?

Have you heard? closed door white

Paris is experiencing historic flooding, the worst in 34 years. Many institutions and visitor attractions (e.g., the Louvre) are closed.

That includes Monet's Garden in Giverny where I'm taking a private workshop with world-renowned photographers Charles Needle and Dewitt Jones.

I appreciate my fellow participants' response to the news. No pouts or complaints.

Everyone simply adjusted their mental lens and switched their focus to the many other metaphorical doors awaiting their attention and appreciation.

it reminded me of something that happened years ago when the boys were growing up on Maui.

We had planned a party following the final game of their soccer season. We rented the only public pool on the island, assigned food duties and ordered trophies.

(Yes, Tom and Andrew were part of the generation where every kid received a trophy. One time, I "rebelled" and ordered mugs with the team's picture, thinking the kids would enjoy having something they could use that would bring back fond memories of that season. Not a popular decision. Suffice it to say, we went back to trophies ... although we still use those mugs. Just saying:-)

The team won their final game so everyone headed to the pool in high spirits and with great expectations. We arrived with our floats, pool gear and water guns ... only to find the pool closed.

Bummer. We called the local park and recreation district. No answer. We rattled the padlocked gates. No luck. We walked around hoping to find another way in. Not happening.

The coach was fuming "I called them weeks ago to make this reservation. I've got the confirmation right here." The parents milled around, upset, aimless, unsure what to do.

The kids knew what to do. They grabbed a ball from the back of a van and seconds later, were laughing and having a great time playing an impromptu game of soccer on the concrete parking lot.

Hmmm. We parents looked at each other and realized we could still have our party right there in the parking lot. Out came the food, chairs and music, and moments later we were having a great time too.

Since then, every time a door (or pool) closes, I remember the lesson the kids' modeled for us that day and try to focus on Helen Keller's enduring insight:

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door we do not see the one which has opened for us."

How about you?

closed door green

Have you had a door close recently on something you were counting on, something you were looking forward to?

Are you gazing at the closed door, upset, aimless, unsure what to do ... dwelling on how disappointing this is for you?

Could you instead adjust your mental lens and switch your focus to the open doors awaiting your attention and appreciation?

As Yousuf Karsh said, "The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.

P.S.  Yes, I took these photos ... getting better at capturing images. It's easier when surrounded by the beauty of Giverny:-)