Best Attitude for Young Athletes

best tennis book for beginners
I’ve just watched the National Father and Son Tennis Championship at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club where one of the top-ranked teams went on to win the Championship. It was Peter Smith, tennis coach at USC and one of the best college coaches ever… as proven by his many NCAA team titles… and his 15 year-old son Colter who came away with this year’s title.

Yesterday Coach Smith and Colter took on a challenging team in the semi-finals. It was a close match with the Smiths squeaking through to win it. Pete Smith is dearly loved by the people at the Beach and Tennis Club as they have watch him play this event with each of his three sons through the years and now has won with each. He always presents himself in a dignified manner, playing intensely, focused, yet displaying good sportsmanship at all times. Unfortunately, young Colter has not mastered that skill as yet.

What causes a young player like Colter to yell and scream at himself, his racket or whatever when he misses a shot? Has the desire to win overtaken young athletes to the point where they display disruptive and alarming behavior on the court, football field, or basketball court? When they berate themselves, what are they doing? Certainly it is wonderful to see intensity and desire, but do they know what they are doing when they attack themselves for not performing to the standards their egos have set?

To be mad at yourself for your efforts and shortcomings is just stupid. That same energy aroused with anger can be used much more effectively when it is supportive of the efforts made by the body. The body that runs around a tennis court, or football field, or any other sports arena is made up of millions of cells all trying their best to perform at their best. They need to be appreciated and encouraged, not brow-beaten by the person who is living within them. Sometimes feet don’t get in the perfect position, sometimes legs lack the energy to chase down a ball, sometimes the mind makes mistakes in its calculations. The body and all of its parts works as a team and it needs to be appreciated.

Several years ago I wrote a wonderful little tennis book, actually one that is appropriate for any sport. It’s called EIGHT GOLDEN RULES FOR HOW TO PLAY YOUR BEST TENNIS. The kind Coach Smith even wrote a glowing review for it. It offers several points, like the one above, that might help young athletes have a better understanding of the role their bodies play in their quest for winning. It offers a different attitude and a different way of looking at things to allow the athlete to perform at his or her best. It is a book that every young athlete would do well to read.

Maybe I need to send a copy to Colter.

The Value of Children’s Picture Books

picture booksThere are children’s picture books and children’s picture books, but the ones that seem to last through generations of children are those that tickle the funny bone while warming the heart.

Those that I remember from my childhood mostly fall from the pen of Dr. Seuss. What a genius! The subtlety in his line work is truly brilliant as are the story lines of his books. They might seem old-fashioned today, but old-fashioned in a good way. His messages were about simple kindness and responsibility. As he has said, he never really tried to include a message in his books; those messages just showed up. This is probably true of most children’s books.

Recently, in a visit from a friend from France, I learned of the importance of the early years of childhood and even the prenatal period and its effect on a child’s development. What that child is “fed” in the form nourishment and environment influences is significant. Mothers, fathers, and caregivers need to be cognizant of this fact and must surround and provide a child with all that is good. This includes not only nutrients, but words and feelings that are warm and positive.

Children’s picture books can play a role in this area as well. Happy, bright, colorful books with sweet, uplifting themes and images plant good ideas and good feelings in young children. We need happy, healthy, strong children to help create a happier, healthier, and stronger world.

A Letter from Dexter

mermaid tea party childrens picture book
mermaid tea party childrens picture book

Today I received a letter from a 6-year-old boy named Dexter. I rarely hear from the children who read my books, so I was especially thrilled to hear from him. Here is what he wrote:

“Dear Sally,

My name is Dexter. I am 6 years old, thank you for the message (his mother had requested a way for him to contact me.) I love your books because they are so amazing and they make me smile and I’m reading them right now. My favorite book is A MERMAID TEA PARTY. Have a good day.” — Dexter

This reminded me of long ago when my husband and I were doing outdoor art shows. I was somewhere in the park when a father and son came into our booth. The father told his son that he could have any painting he wanted. The son picked a piece called A MERMAID TEA PARTY! It was all in pink and purple with two mermaids sharing a cup of tea under the sea. Well, the father told my husband that they were going for a walk and they would talk about it. When they returned the father said, “We’ll take the mermaid painting! Wish I could have overheard their conversation.

So, I’m glad Dexter likes this particular book because it has to do with kindness, kindness that is shared and spread. It also references a very high spiritual truth — that we should be aware of what we are offering others. We must never offer emptiness. In this case, the mermaids are passing cups of tea and plates of sweets that are enhanced by loving kindness, as each mermaid passes the goodies along to others. It is a lovely idea and as Dexter found, a lovely book.

A Treasured Scarf

a treasured scarf
a treasured scarf

My friend Ann brought her friend Libby over to my little studio for a visit. She told this amazing story.

Over 30 years ago Libby wandered into my gallery in La Jolla with her boyfriend. She said she was enchanted with the art, the verses, and the feeling the gallery contained. She wanted something, but as a young person just our of college, she could not afford a piece of art. So, her boyfriend bought her a large, lovely, colorful scarf. The scarves we had were really sarongs that matched up with a whole line of decorative purses.

Several years later she was stricken with Hodgkin lymphoma. Before she started her battle for survival with hospitalization and various dibilitating treatments, a close friend of hers told her to take something with her that she treasured. She took the scarf.

Through the several years of struggle, with treatments and hospital stays she kept that scarf close to her at all times. She said, “For some reason, it gave me comfort and strength.” She said that she would wrap it around herself and when the pain was great she would twist it and squeeze it. It was her security blanket. She loved it.

She survived that cancer and went on to live a full life. She had not seen any of my art in many years, as all of our galleries and now closed, until she walked into Ann’s house where Ann had a lovely hearts painting by me hanging on the wall of her den. She broke down in tears remembering how that art in the form of a scarf had been her trusted companion through her years of struggle on her road back to health.

When she told me the story, of course, I broke down in tears too. Such a touching story.

This visit coincided with my reading a passage from Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov: “The heart steadfastly maintains the fence [that keeps us safe] and it fills the holes so that we can resist any blows, for love works in a special way by reinforcing our cells and making them able to resist illness and adversity.” I truly loved creating that design and Libby, in turn, truly loved it as a scarf.

Stop Worrying

stop worrying
stop worrying

Happy Musing for the Day: If worrying did some good, everything would be worth worrying about.

Worrying has become a popular pastime lately. With the economy the way it is, the job market the way it is, the housing market and the stock market the way they are worrying has become epidemic in our society. As unpleasant as it is, it is not easily gotten rid of or let go of. But it must. And to do so requires some information.

The first is to understand what it is. Worry is the fearful concern for something or someone or of something that might happen. It has to do with the future. It is the continual mental action of fear. And like all fear, it is based on the lack of something – usually knowledge. Worrying grinds away on a subject, turning it over and over again, trying to make some sense of it or even trying to make an outcome come out in a preferred way.

The second thing to understand is that it is useless. It is not only useless, it is detrimental; it is pours negative energy on the subject and the one worrying. So it is not helpful in any sense. Once you understand this, then the next step is to figure out how to get rid of it.

This touches on one’s core beliefs. If you are a person who believes, and better still, knows that you are standing in the essence of God at all times, you can easily pass the buck and hand off your concerns by putting them in God’s hands. Then relax and wait for answers and time to resolve your concerns.

If your beliefs do not include a Higher Power presence, but you are aware of the newly popular Law of Attraction that is eternally operating, you may wish to consider worrying in this light. As you can imagine and even look back over your own life, you will see that worrying gets you more of what you worry about. Focusing on the negative hardly ever leads to positive results.

Or, you may simply wish to use common sense and realize that worrying interferes with your ability to think clearly and solve problems effectively. If your mind is being used for one activity, it can’t be used for another. So practically speaking, worrying proves to be useless here again.

When you add all this up it is easy to see the benefit of letting go of this activity. Yes, it is a habit whose time has come to be put to rest.

The most extreme case of worrying I know is my mother-in-law. She worries at the drop of a hat. The rest of the family dances around her in conversation trying not to hit a subject she can get her worry tangs into. God forbid if someone should have a cold! We deal with it, but don’t worry about it.

Worrying is somewhat like the most extreme case of motherhood. It is like a mother who runs around protecting for every possible danger her child could get into. She is constantly out in front of the child’s movements, trying to assess potential dangers and thwart them ahead of time. It is as tiring to be such a mother as it is to be a worrier.

If worrying did some good, everything would be worth worrying about. But it’s not, so don’t!

Yep, give it up, this bad habit, if you have it. Trust yourself, the light you stand in and the law that brings you your own. Then let your brightness lighten the way for others to give up their worrisome concerns.

Remember the words of the great MAD magazine cartoon character Alfred E. Neuman, “What — me worry?” Let “Never!” be your answer.

Goodness Matters

happy musings
happy musings

Happy Musing for the Day: Goodness matters for goodness sake!

As I woke up this morning with the remnants of a mildly disturbing dream lingering in my head, I thought that it would be nice to have a perfect bedtime story to read to myself every night before dropping off to sleep. It would set things right for the mind. Naturally, a prayer or two are helpful as is the practice of counting one’s blessings. But, I thought that a magical bedtime story would be wonderful, one that went deep into oneself and planted the perfect thoughts.

Then I wrote it.

Here it is:

There is a wonderful plan of which you are a part. It is to bring goodness into the world, into your country, into your town, into your home, into your life. You, like all people, are the container of this goodness. You have the ability to spread goodness wherever you go and wherever you are.

The plan includes you, but is not about you. It is about goodness, and the more you realize this, the better you feel. The better you feel the more goodness you spread. When you think of yourself, think of goodness. When you think of your work, think of goodness. When you think of the people around you, think of goodness. When you think of the circumstances in your life, think of goodness.

This is why you are here – to be good, think good, do good, and feel good.

What could be better than that?

A Healthy Meal

marv huss
marv huss

Father’s Day
After a healthy meal of salmon, salad, and a few amusing side dishes from Whole Foods, my dear husband Marv took a nap with our grandpuppy Myla.

Myla’s is the star of my latest children’s book — WILL MYLA BE MINE? It is a sweet story that explains to a child that there is more to having a puppy than just play. Avoiding the work involved was not going to fly with the mother in this story. Good for her. She makes her son stick to his promises. Of course, like all children’s books, it comes right in the end.

I used photos of the real Myla, interwoven with illustrations, to create the pictures for each page. It was a challenge and not just the illustrating. Trying to get Myla to hold still for a moment in order to snap a shot was the real challenge. But, because she is so adorable, she was forgiven for her wiggling and lack of focus, which of course made many of my photos out of focus.

She’s already grown about a foot since the original photos were taken and by the size of her paws she won’t stop growing for quite awhile.

I believe she has an artistic bent because her favorite toys seem to be the brushes in a basket of my old paint brushes. Perfect for teething, not necessarily for painting though.

Happiness Day and Night Childrens Picture Book

Every day holds the potential for happiness; so does every night! I was dreaming about dreaming, the kind of dreaming that happens before you fall asleep. I was wondering how useful it would be for children if they knew that they could send themselves into the night in a lovely way, letting their spirits take flight by riding on a magic carpet of light. All kinds of lands can be visited; all kinds of information can be gleaned by directing one’s dreams. So, that is the book I wrote called Good Night, Good Night.

We are all Creative

Sally Huss
Sally Huss
This beautiful quilt was created by my daughter-in-law Ceil, in the wonder of her own art studio in Colorado Springs. I just love it. I love it, not only because it’s beautiful, but because it attaches me to dear Ceil. Her heart designed it. Her hands held it and put it together.  This will be a family heirloom once I am no longer using it. 

Things that are handmade are more precious now than ever. A handwritten note, a homemade casserole, a few real brushstrokes on a piece of paper carry with it the one who has created it. May we all value these treasures.