Great acceptances

We don't need to be big or strong or colorful to be beautiful. I photographed this pretty little bird at Crater Lake, Oregon, June 2000.

We don’t need to be big or strong or colorful to be beautiful.
I photographed this pretty little bird at Crater Lake, Oregon, June 2000.

“Contentment, and indeed usefulness, comes as the infallible result of great acceptances, great humilities—of not trying to make ourselves this or that, but of surrendering ourselves to the fullness of life—of letting life flow through us.”
— David Grayson

I couldn’t help but find some comic relief in what I learned when I looked up the author of this quote; I kept coming up with articles on some guy named Ray Stannard Baker. It took me a couple of false starts before I read on enough to find that David Grayson was a pen name. My first thought was “Hey, what happened to what you said about not trying to make ourselves this or that?” Okay, so I’ve always been a bit of a smart alec.  Regardless, I like what he says here.

The word “great” isn’t usually paired with the word “acceptance,” but I do find the concept intriguing. The fullness of life includes a lot of things for which we might not have wished or planned– otherwise life wouldn’t truly be full– but once we get over the bumps, acceptance can indeed be a blessing.  If we are to keep life flowing through us, that means being open to the new while not hanging on too tightly to the familiar and comfortable.

What are the great acceptances of your life?  Whatever that phrase might bring to your mind, I hope you are happy and content to be who you are, and where you are.  I know I’m happy you are here!  As my hero Fred Rogers was so fond of saying, “There’s only one person in the world exactly like you, and people can like you just the way you are.”


  1. Janice Barker

    Hi Julia, I really enjoy reading your blogs. I am going to be in the Hampton area June 13 and 14th and in N. VA. June 16 and 17. If you are in one of those places would love to see you. – Janice Barker

    • Thanks Janice! I am sorry I’m so far behind on my emails. I’m in school all day every day (on lunch right now, writing from the classroom) through June 17, so we won’t be in NoVa at all while you are there — however, I might be able to see you in the evening on the 13 or 14 — I’ll try to email you. In the meantime, thanks for being here! 🙂

  2. Sheila

    Julia, amazing how others often like us more if we like ourselves and project that from within. I think I’ve found my comfort zone, and realized just being “my best self” will bring happiness to me, as well as others. Mr. Rogers was a true inspiration to so many, loved his neighborhood. Do you have classes this summer? I hope all is well there. Please say “Hi” to Jeff and Matt. 💛

    • Hi Sheila, yes, I have classes all day every day this week and next, and I’m writing this from the classroom (lunch break). With the rush hour HRBT bridge traffic, I have to allow more than an hour each way to get down here, so that makes for a very long day. But I shouldn’t complain; it’s a rare adventure that bears no resemblance to my “real” life. I think many of us find it hard to really like ourselves, and that’s a shame, but sometimes focusing on other people and liking them can take our minds off our own self-criticism. It helps when we see how much alike we all are. I think that understanding was one of the great gifts that Fred Rogers offered the world. Jeff and Matt are doing well — Matt is enjoying having some “guy time” with Jeff while I’m in school. He looked quite relaxed and happy when I arrived home last night. Thinking of you! ❤

      • Ann

        Julia, What classes are you taking?

        • Ann, I’m taking Intro to Doctoral Studies in Communication, and Seminar in Communication and Ethics. This is my first semester in this program. I was admitted to it several weeks before we knew about Jeff’s brain tumor. When we found out, he and I were wondering whether I should even try to stay in the program. I said I’d give it this semester and then decide afterwards. Right now I feel that if I can make it through this, I can make it through the rest. It’s sort of a shock to the system to be back in school at all, much less in a program this demanding. But it’s a nice distraction too.

          • Ann

            You constantly amaze me with your energy and talents in so many areas. Good for you!

            • Thank you, Ann. I appreciate your encouragement.

  3. Julia, good evening.
    Thanks for sharing your talent with your camera. Beautiful little bird.
    I’ve learned to accept the changes in my life…living with a low blood count…and chronic fatigue. I plan my days careful…to not over do.

    • Thank you, Merry! I think planning carefully is so critical to sanity, in so many ways. That doesn’t exclude spontaneity, if we remember to plan for it, hee-hee. 🙂 I’m glad you have found ways to adjust.

  4. Good morning, Julia!
    Such interesting points to ponder … my first thought was “Ray Stannard Baker is letting ‘David Grayson’ flow through him.” 🙂
    There’s a rather strange foreign film that I like, which translates to “All about my Mother.” I think that what I like about it is summed up by one actor’s (or actress, I get confused) line that states something like this (forgive errors in translation and memory):
    “We are most authentic when we most closely resemble that whom we wish to be.”
    That really stuck with me.

    • Susan, maybe that means I let Miss Viola Swamp flow through me. 😀 She was my alter ego back during my days as a children’s librarian. I actually had a t-shirt that had her standing in an intimidating pose just inside a flung-open door that said “Miss Viola Swamp is not Amused.” I got it so I would have something to wear it to IEP meetings. 😀 So maybe I should say “back during my days as a full-time advocate for Matt’s education.”

      I like that movie quote! Natalie Goldberg wrote about learning to sit zazen as part of her meditative training. She was puzzled that the more she sat, the more Jewish she felt (she was a Jew by birth, but couldn’t understand how a Zen practice could bring that out in her). Her Zen instructor told her, “That makes sense. The more you sit, the more you become who you are.” I liked that and it stuck with me, just as the movie quote stuck with you. I think they are on the same plane.

  5. Amy

    I am trying desperately to come to an acceptance of myself. All I can see is an overweight underachiever who is too afraid to really stretch out of the comfort zone and make myself into someone I like. I really believe that I am not the person God wants me to be but I don’t see the road to what it is I am supposed to change to be the person I am meant to be. Maybe I should try using the men’s room in stores and other places. OK just kidding. I am sure you are right that we don’t have to be big or showy in order to be loved by God and make a difference in the lives of those around us. I pray I am doing that. Hope all is well. Praying for you and Jeff and Matt. I love you.

    • Aw, Amy, this makes me feel sad. I think you are one of the most likable people I have ever known, and I have known some real jewels. There are a lot of things I can say to you but today I give you the words of the apostle John, who ought to know: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.” (I John 3:2) I love you and thank God you are part of our lives. You are so beautiful in this life, I can’t wait to see you in the next! ❤

      BTW I have used the men's room myself several times in the past when the women's room was full with a long line waiting, the men's was empty, and I really HAD to GO!!! I always knock first beforehand to make sure all is clear. I've had a gender-neutral bathroom in my own home for years, so I guess the primary problem with it I see is when people leave the lid up, especially at night. 😀

      • Amy

        Thank you for the scripture beautiful friend. I always worry I have let you down so glad to know you feel otherwise. I did just get off the phone with Lisa so that should no longer be a worry for you and you can feel secure if you wish me to come down there or have Matt here. 🙂 I have recently written this scripture on a piece of paper and taped it to my mirror in order to memorize it. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. I love to think that we are being transformed into God’s image. Praying school is going well. Keep in touch. I love you.

        • Hi Amy, I’m glad you were able to connect with Lisa, who deserves an entire wall of trophies as the longtime superstar of Matt’s life and the only person who has heard as many of my rants as you and Jeff have. School has me spinning out into an alternate universe, but I’m somehow surviving. I miss you and hope we can get together when the worst of the classes are behind me. I’ll still have papers to do, but I should have a bit of breathing space before it all cranks up again…assuming I don’t chicken out! 😀

  6. Jack

    Humility, says CS Lewis, is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. It seems a pretty important distinction. The funny thing about self and ego and pride is that the gifts we most want are those we weren’t given, as if God was holding out on us. I remember early on in my career, twenty years or so ago, I worked with a guy that had Excel skills like one can only imagine. How I envied that gift! While my skill envy has dissipated over the years, I still find myself thinking “if only I could do (fill in the blank), then I would measure up”. The answer to all my problems is to believe more deeply the gospel truth that says I am rotten enough that I need the death of the Son of God HImself to save me, but that I am loved so profoundly, exactly as I am, that God was willing to pay that awful, glorious Price. If I just focus on the rottenness (as I’m inclined), I’ll downplay my talents. If I just focus on the love, I’ll disregard my human frailties, becoming unforgiving, prideful. Apart from both, existing in tension and glorious grace, I’ll never be ok with just being me.

    • Jack, I love that quote from Lewis. Did you know that he himself struggled in school during his early years? His letters and diaries are fascinating. He was quite good at drawing these fine but important distinctions. “If only” is an oft-visited temptation for most of us. I’ve learned to add a “but then” to whatever I might dream up to go after those words! That tension between the beauty and ugliness that lies within each one of us is the subject of great art, great literature and ultimately, the greatest story ever told. I really believe in the happy ending, as Marlene said recently.

  7. Wise words, Fred Rogers.

    • Yes, you just gotta love Mr. Rogers. His spirit lives on!

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