"Secrets of a Happy Home"
By Darol Wagstaff
Long ago, there were two Eagles that fell in love and decided to have a family. Their nest was on the side of a high cliff. The female eagle felt that before she could have any baby eaglets, their nest would have to be prepared in a very special way. This "Eagles' Nest" was twenty feet long, eight feet wide, and four feet deep. It was big! The bottom of the nest was covered with thorns, briars, and sticker bushes, and then it was layered with grass, and leaves, and soft feathers.

Two eggs were laid. Inside the first egg was a little girl eagle named Sarah. She was a very active little girl. She couldn't wait to get out into the world to see how big it was. She kicked and scratched and clawed until she broke out of her shell. Sarah was very curious.

Inside the second egg was a little boy eagle named Timothy. He loved the comfort of his egg. No one bothered him. He could sleep, and think, and grow without being disturbed.

Days passed and Sarah was already thinking of how fun it would be to fly like her Parent's. Timothy had gotten so big that he grew out of his egg and crawled into the nest. He loved the soft feathers that had been puffed up for him to lay in.

Father watched the kids while Mother hunted for food and water. Then Mother watched the kids while Father got the food.

Timothy and Sarah were different from each other. Sarah was always active and busy, and Timothy seemed to be idle and lazy. Before long, Sarah learned how to fly while Timothy was content laying around in the nest.

Finally Mother Eagle said, "Timothy, I want you to learn how to fly. You need to climb onto my back and go flying with Me."

Timothy replied, "I don't want to Mother. I'd rather lay around and eat."

"No son," said Mother Eagle. "I am not giving you a choice. You need to come with me so I can teach you how to fly. I promise that it will be worth it."

Timothy reluctantly climbed onto his mother's back. They jumped off of the edge of the nest and circled high into the sky. The higher they flew, the tighter Timothy held on. Then suddenly without any warning, Mother Eagle folded her wing and rolled over. Timothy lost his grip and started to fall thousands of feet toward the ground. He couldn't fly.

Mother Eagle swooped down and caught Timothy, Just before he hit the ground, then she carried him to safety.

Meanwhile, Father Eagle was back at the nest, removing the feathers, and the leaves, and the grass. The comfort of the soft nest was gone. All that was left were the thorns, briars, and sticker bushes.

When Timothy and his mother returned to the nest, Timothy's parents told him that they were not always going to be there to take care of him and that he had become too comfortable living in the family nest. They told him that he needed to do three things in order to learn to fly. (1.) He needed to visualize himself as a "Champion Eagle" soaring through the sky as the master of the wind. Then he needed to (2.) take-a-risk (meaning that he was at-risk until he was willing to take-a-risk to be individually accountable for his life) and (3.) he needed to put forth an honest, sincere effort to grow and succeed and to realize the greatness within him.

Standing around in the thorn-filled-nest didn't make Timothy too happy. There was no place to sit without getting stuck by a thorn or a thistle. There was no food to eat and he couldn't sleep.

Timothy's mother asked him to try and fly again. He climbed onto his mother's back and together they jumped off of the edge of the nest.

Timothy had never noticed how strong his mothers wings were, he was impressed as they circled higher and higher into flight.

"Are you ready Timothy?" She asked.

"Yes." He answered.

Folding her wing, she turned up-side-down, and Timothy let go. He was falling. He kicked his feet, flapped his wings, and yapped his jaw but nothing he tried would work. Then he heard his mothers voice calling, "Timothy, the wind is your friend, spread your wings and fly."

Timothy cried, "I can't! I can't!"

Mother Eagle called back, "Yes you can. Spread your wings and fly."

Following her directions, Timothy stretched out his wings. He felt the pressure of the wind beneath him lifting him higher and higher. It scared him at first, but before long, Timothy steered and dived, twisted and flipped through the crisp morning air. He was flying, he was actually flying. This was the greatest experience that he had ever had.

It didn't take long for it to dawn on him that all of the time he was lying around in the nest, being lazy and bored, he had the power within himself to soar through the air and become the marvelous creature he was intended to be.

Several years passed. Timothy's parents were older now and Sarah had a family of her own. Timothy and his Mate were preparing their family nest - and one afternoon while flying from the thorn patch he thought to himself, "Thank you Mother for teaching me to love to fly."

This story is a children's parable. Parables are intended to convey truths in proportion to how receptive the listener is. To some, it is a mere story, and to others it reveals mysteries or secrets that exhibit some conditions of true knowledge. It is important to distinguish between the interpretation of a parable and it's application. The true interpretation is the meaning the parable conveys when it is first spoken or written. The application may vary with age and circumstance, but if the original meaning is to be grasped, it is necessary to always consider its context and setting.

"The Eagles' Nest" supports two natural laws that "James W. Newman", author of the book, "Release Your Brakes" identified. Natural Law # 1: "We tend to move to our Comfort Zones." And Natural Law # 2: "To reach a goal we must leave a Comfort Zone."

You can discover the secrets of a happy home and family as you consistently solve problems, strengthen relationships, and set and achieve goals together. Achieving a goal requires that you seriously consider what comfort zones you have moved to and then determine whether or not you are willing to leave those comfort zones.

Secret Number One: Build your family FOUNDATION by believing in each other

Believe in yourself, in your children, in your parents, in your marriage, in your family, and in your faith.

In many families, there are conditions that stretch people's capabilities to believe. I am talking about families who's members, especially teenagers, become "laws unto themselves." They tell their parents what they will wear, who they will hang out with, whether or not they will go to school, what time they will be in at night (if at all), and who they will date, etc. This kind of behavior carries with it a lack of respect for other people and usually starts when the person does something they know they shouldn't do. The more they act contrary to what they know is right the more desensitized they become. Ironically, in many cases, the one who seems to care the least is the one who has the most control. Under these types of circumstances parents feel forced to make ultimatums like, "if you can't follow our rules, then you will have to move out."

If you are ever in this kind of situation don't give up hope. Start now to do something that initiates a change. When your conditions seem unbearable, take some time out of your day and go where you can be alone and think about what needs to be done. As you are thinking, write down some of the ideas that come to your mind, then get together and solve the problem. The answers that you are looking for are looking for you. If you trust and believe in yourself and in your family, the help that you need will come.

Secret Number Two: Create a warm and caring home ATMOSPHERE

George Eliot, (Mary Ann Evans Cross) was a nineteenth century author who once said that "Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with someone, having neither to weigh your thoughts or measure your words." My identical twin brother Dale and I are the ninth and tenth children from a family of ten children and my wife Loree and I have five children in our family. Family members by nature can be each others best friends. I appreciate my parents for providing an atmosphere in our home that encouraged each of us to try and meet our individual needs so that we could contribute positively to society. The first, and perhaps the most important of four developmental asset categories is to have a strong sense of BELONGING. The other three developmental asset categories are: to possess PERSONAL MASTERY, INDEPENDENCE, and GENEROSITY. The value of having a home that provides a place of comfort and safety to retreat to when the world gets too rough to handle is of infinite worth.

Secret Number Three: Develop a common family MISSION

I attended a conference where Stephen R. Covey was the keynote speaker. Dr. Covey is recognized across the world for his leadership in helping corporations, associations, organizations, and families to clearly define their mission. The mission is the course that directs the respective corporation, association, organization and family to its eventual destination. During his speech, he cited a study that his company had conducted that concluded that all good families - even great families in the world are "off track" 90 percent of the time. To illustrate this point he used the flight of an airplane. Before the plane can take off, the pilots have a flight plan. They know exactly where they're going. But during the course of the flight there are factors that act upon that plane such as, wind, rain, turbulence, air traffic etc. The pilot adjusts to these unpredictable factors and may vary off course for much of the time during the entire trip but in the end the plane will arrive at its destination. He credits the planes safe arrival to the way that the pilots respond to the constant feedback and information that they receive along way. Then he makes the point that, "It doesn't make any difference if we are off target or even if our family is a mess. The hope lies in the vision and in the plan and in the courage to get back on track and to keep coming back time and time again." Dr. Covey encourages us to use this metaphor of the airplane to build a family mission that communicates a sense of hope and excitement around the idea of building a beautiful family culture.

Secret Number Four: Promote INDUSTRY

The ethic of hard work has always been recognized as one of the secrets to a happy life.

I have spent over five thousand hours as a volunteer at the Salt Lake Juvenile Detention Center. One of my former responsibilities was to arrange for speakers to come and talk with the kids. Larry H. Miller, the well known business leader in the Utah community, and owner of the UTAH JAZZ basketball team came often to speak and to encourage the youth to never give up and to follow their dreams. He has a strong commitment to at-risk youth because during his teenage years he was labeled as an "incorrigible youth". Larry told the kids that there are three steps to be successful in life. Step #1. Show up. Step #2. Show up on time, and Step #3. Show up on time with a good attitude. With this expert advice, the young men and young women had a simple formula to support them in their efforts to succeed and be happy.

Promoting an appreciation for hard work in our families is paramount if we are to be successful in today's world. "The heights of great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night." Learn the six W's! Work Will Win When Wishing Won't. Be always employed in something useful. Learn to love work, it is the secret to success!

Secret Number Five: LOVE one another

M. Scott Peck, M.D., teaches that love is not a feeling. A feeling is a combination of thought, emotion, sense and experience. When you associate your feelings to someone you love, that association connects you to that person, but genuine love is not a feeling. Genuine love is the will to extend yourself for the purpose of strengthening your own or another's personal growth.

I recently heard about a father who found out about his teenage daughters un-wed pregnancy. She had managed to keep her pregnancy from her parents until she was six months along. Upon learning that his daughter was pregnant and that she had been carrying this responsibility by herself for so long, this fathers eyes filled with tears. He threw his arms around his daughter and cried, "you poor sweet thing. How have you managed to shoulder this challenge by yourself for so long? Why didn't you come to me sooner?" Her timid reply was, "I was afraid of how you would react." Instead of an emotional negative reaction, this father made a conscious decision to love his daughter. Genuine love requires commitment to the ones you love and the application of disciplined wisdom.

Statistics tell us that as many as two out of three families break apart because of divorce.

In the movie, "The River Wild" some true knowledge relative to the divorce epidemic is revealed. Meryl Streep plays the part of a woman named, "Gail." Gail grew up in northern Montana, where she loved the outdoors. During her college years she was a guide on the "Snake River." She got married, moved to Boston and had a son and a daughter. Every year the family took a trip to Montana to visit Gail's parents. For the past two years, at the last minute, her husband, "Tom" backed out of the trip. This year he promised their son Roarke that for his twelfth birthday he would go with them to run the river. While they were packing to leave, Tom came home from work and announced that he wasn't going to be able to go. After a huge fight, Gail took her two children, and the family dog and left her husband behind. Gail's parents met them at the airport. Her Father is a rugged hard working man who has been deaf from birth. Her mother is a very patient and wise woman. Gail and her mother were spending some time together talking when Gail says: "I think my marriage is over Mamma...... He (Tom) just can't seem to make time for us anymore. He's let himself get so beaten up by his job - and he hates it, but he spends every waking minute over there. He hasn't been home one weekend since Christmas. I don't know what it is that he's trying to prove, but I'm really sick of the whole thing, I'm sick of the whole fight. Everything has become unbelievably hard."

Gail's mother listened empathetically and then she said, "Honey forgive me but you don't know what hard is. That's because you gave yourself an out. In our generation we had no out. That was the pact of marriage. Don't you think that if I gave myself an out, with your father, given his orneriness, and his deafness, that I wouldn't have taken it years ago?" She went on to say that love and marriage requires a total commitment to each other and to the family without giving yourself the option of having "an out." As they finished their conversation, Gail and her Mother hugged each other and then left for the river. While the raft was being launched, Tom arrived onto the scene. He had taken two commercial planes from Boston, and a charter flight to make up for his broken promise.

Even though this example comes from Hollywood, the condition of "not giving ourselves an out" and being totally committed to each other rings loud with truth that should help us to reverse this divorce epidemic.

Secret Number Six: Be YOUNG-AT-HEART

While delivering the commencement exercise speech at Villanova University, Tom Clancy told the graduating students that he was going to give them their last lesson in metaphysics (the philosophy of ultimate reality). And then he said, " Nothing is as real as a dream. The world may change about you but your dream will not, it will always be the link with the person you are today, young and full of hope. If you hold on to it, you may grow old, but you will never be old. And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the ultimate success."

The sixth secret of a happy home is to be young-at-heart. Following your dreams keeps you young and happy. Dreams are dynamic, they change and they grow. Dreams start as ideas and are later realized because the person believes that their dream will come true. Dreams cultivate joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being. To dream for yourself and to inspire others, to set goals and to achieve greatness against tremendous odds is your right. Everyone can achieve personal excellence a little at a time. Excellence and quality are a reflection of the way that you feel about yourself and about life. If you don't care about these basic things then such not caring will carry over into the work you do and your work will become shabby and shoddy. Real craftsmanship, regardless of the skill involved requires real caring and real caring reflects your attitude about yourself and about life. Believe in your dreams and your belief will create the fact.

We have discussed six secrets to having a Happy Organized Managed Environment. Now let's "try to fly" by stepping out of our comfort zones and setting some goals. The architect Daniel H. Burnham once said, "Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high and hope and work. Remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die. But long after we are gone will be a living thing asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember our sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty."

Darol Wagstaff is President of Youth Motivation Institute and the Champions For Life Speakers Bureau. He serves as the At-Risk Youth Committee Chairman for the Granite Education Foundation. He and his wife Loree have five children and live is Salt Lake City, Utah. You can contact Darol at: P.O. Box 1444, Salt lake City, Utah 84110 (801) 266-8483 Phone; (801) 277-3888 Fax

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