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Barb's Commonplace Book


a tribute to my late wife Barbara Hartley Seltzer (Feb. 20, 1950 - Dec. 4, 2012)

from the scattered notes she left behind


Snippets of writing and slogans that Barb saved and displayed everywhere. She may have written some of these herself.

Richard Seltzer

more by and about Barbara


The Mayonnaise Jar

undated, author unknown


When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar... and the coffee...


A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.


When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.


So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.


He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.  They agreed it was.


The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous "yes."


The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.


"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls the the important things -- your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions -- things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house, and your car. The sand is everything else -- the small stuff.


"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.  Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.


Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal."


"Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter.  Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."


One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.


The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full  your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."


Irish Blessing

undated, author unknown


May there always be work for your hands to do.

May your purse always hold a coin of two.

May the sun always shine on your window pane.

May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

May the hand of a friend always be near you.

May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


Always a Sister...

someone who cares for you

and about you,

someone whose help you value,

concern you appreciate,

love you depend upon.


Always a Friend...

someone to laugh with

and share things with,

someone you can count on

to help you out,

back you up,

and never let you down.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


Who am I

What have I done?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?


"If you don't know where you want to go, you'll likely end up nowhere."


"You need to be able to articulate the kind of position you are looking for and describe the value you would bring to it."

Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Live while you are alive.


Dream Spirit (from a "dream catcher")

undated, author unknown


Native American Believe dreams are messages sent to you from sacred spirits. Bad dreams are caught and held by the web until they disappear in the morning sun. Good dreams find their way through the hoop and into the life of the dreamer. Dream Catchers are believed to bless the "sleeping one" with pleasant dreams, good luck and harmony throughout their lives.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


To be the person you meant to be you need to grow up.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


Do people write books to find out who they are, or to become someone else?


Title Unknown

undated, by Hodding Carter


There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.

One of these is roots, the other, wings.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


If you don't act, you forfeit your right to live.


Old Irish Greeting

undated, author unknown


These things I warmly wish for you --

someone to love,

some work to do,

a bit of sun,

and a bit of cheer

and a guardian angel

always near.


Title Unknown

undated, by Charles M. Schulz (who wrote the Peanuts cartoon strip)


Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?"

Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."


Dilbert's Rules of Order

undated, author unknown


1. I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day. Tomorrow is not looking god either.


2. I love deadlines. I especially like the wooshing sound they make as they go flying by.


3. Tell me what you need, and I'll tell you how to get along without it.


4. Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue.


5. Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If he isn't there the first time, chances are you won't be needing him again.


6. I don't have an attitude problem, you have a perception problem.


7. Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky, and I thought to myself, where the heck is the ceiling?


8. My reality check bounced.


9. On the keyboard of life, always keep one finger on the escape key.


10. I don't suffer from stress. I am a carrier.


11. Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level, then beat you with experience.


12. Don't be irreplaceable -- if you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.


13. If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done.


The 10 Commandments of Health

undated, by George W. Calver


Eat wisely

Drink plentifully (of water)

Eliminate thoroughly

Bathe cleanly

Exercise rationally

Accept inevitables (don't worry)

Play enthusiastically

Relax Completely

Sleep sufficiently

Check up occasionally


P.S.  Give 5% of your time to keeping well. You won't have to give 100% getting over being sick.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


I thought I worked my butt off at work,

but followed me home.


Points to Ponder

undated, author unknown


The best gifts to give:

To your friends -- loyalty

To your enemies -- forgiveness

To your boss -- service

To a child -- a good example

To your parents -- gratitude and devotion

To your mate -- love and faithfulness

To all men and women -- charity


Title Unknown

undated, by Ralph Waldo Emerson


Finish each day and be done with it

You have done what you could

Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in

Forget them as soon as you can

Tomorrow is a new day

You shall begin it well and serenely. 


Welcome to My Planet

undated, by Shannon Olson


Your father always felt that tomorrow would be better. Tomorrow would be a better day. That everything he couldn't be and do today would magically happen tomorrow. The thing he has never understood is that you have to make those changes, you have to take steps to change things, or the next day will be the same with all the weight of the day before on top of it.



undated, apparently a tag from a piece of clothing


Love more.

I dare you.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


Children must come to know that learning is inside them, to be elicited and released. It's not something to be given to them, but something they discover through their own internal processes.


Sic Vita

September 21, 2006, by Muriel Thumm


It's funny what sticks with me

of what I've received. It's

what I make of it

hat becomes my truth:

Paradise Lost and Paradise Found

became in the child's words

a story about losing and finding

a pair of dice and becomes my mantra

when I review what I thought was worth-

while in my life is no more

than a pair of dice

swiftly tossed.



April 11, 2007, by Muriel Thumm


That he died is not important.

He did that only once.

That he lived is everything.

He did that every day.


Yesterday Today Tomorrow

undated, author unknown


There are two days in every week about which we should not worry, two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.


One of these days is Yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. All the money in the world cannot bring back Yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed, we cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.


The other day we should not worry about is Tomorrow with its possible adversaries, its burdens, its large promise and per performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.


Tomorrow's sun will rise, either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds -- but it will rise. Until it does we have no stake in Tomorrow for it is as yet unborn.


This leaves only one day... Today. Any man can fight the battle of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of those two awful eternities -- Yesterday and Tomorrow -- that we break down.


It is not the experience of Today that dries men mad, it is remorse of bitterness for something which happened Yesterday and the dread of what Tomorrow may bring.


Let us therefore, Live one day at a time!


(handwritten note at the end -- Remember when yesterday was tomorrow?)


An Irish Blessing

undated, author unknown


May you live as long as you want


Never want as long as you live.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


I live in my own little world,

but it's okay,

everyone knows me here.


My idea of housework is to sweep

the room with a glance.


If I Had My Life To Live Over

undated, by Erma Bombeck


I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.


I would have eaten the popcorn in the good living rom and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.


I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.


I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.


I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.


I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.


I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.


I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I wasn't there for the day.


I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.


Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment realizing that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.


When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."


There would have been more "I love you's" and more "I'm sorry's".


But mostly, given another shot a life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it... live it... and never give it back.


The Woodpecker Might Have to Go!

undated, author unknown, sent to her by Arlene Francoeur, October 25, 2004


Everything I need to know about life, I learned from Noah's Ark.


One: Don't miss the boat.


Two: Remember that we are all in the same boat.


Three: Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark.


Four: Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone may ask you to do something really big.


Five: Don't listen to the critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done.


Six: Build your future on high ground.


Seven: For safety's sake, travel in pairs.


Eight: Speed isn't always an advantage. The snails were on board with the cheetahs.


Nine: When you're stressed, float a while.


Ten: Remember, the Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals.


Eleven: No matter the storm, when you are with God, there's always a rainbow waiting.


Every Woman

undated, author unknown, sent to her May 17, 2000 by Susan Chiumiento


Every Woman Should Have old love she can imagine

going back to... and one who reminds

her how far she has come...


...enough money within her

control to move out and rent a place

of her own even if she never wants

to and needs to...


...something perfect to wear if

the employer or date of her dreams

wants to see her in an hour...


...a youth she's content to leave behind...


...a past juicy enough that

she's looking forward to retelling it

in her old age...


...the realization that she is actually going to have an old age

and some money set aside to fund it...


...a set of screwdrivers, a

cordless drill, and a black lace bra... friend who always makes her laugh... and one who lets her



...a good piece of furniture

not previously owned by anyone else

in her family...


...eight matching plates, wine

glasses with stems, and a recipe

for a meal that will make her

guests feel honored...


...a resume that is not even

slightest bit padded...


...a feeling of control over her destiny...


Every Woman Should Know... to fall in love without

losing herself... to quit a job, break up

with a lover, and confront a friend

without ruining the friendship...


...when to try harder... and

when to walk away... to have a good time at a

party she'd never choose to attend... to ask for waht she wants in a way that makes it most

likely she'll get it....


...that she can't change the length of her calves, the width of

her hips,or the nature of her



...that her childhood may not

have been perfect... bit its over...


...what she would and wuldn't

do for love or more... to live alone... even if

she doesn't like it...


...whom she can trust,whom she

can't, and why she shouldn't take

it personally...


...where to go... be it to her

best friend's kitchen table... or a

charming inn in the woods...

when her soul needs soothing...


...what she can and can't

accomplish in a day... a month... and

a year...


I Believe!

undated, author unknown


I believe -- That just because two people ague, it doesn't mean they don't love each other. And just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do love each other.


I believe -- That we don't have to change friends if we understand that friends change.


I believe -- That no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.


I believe -- That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love.


I believe -- That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.


I believe -- That it's taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.


I believe -- That you should always leave loved ones with loving words.  It may be the last time you see them.


I believe -- That you can keep going long after you think you can't


I believe -- That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.


I believe -- That either you control your attitude or it controls you.


I believe -- That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.


I believe -- That money is a lousy way of keeping score.


I believe -- That my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.


I believe -- That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you're down will be the ones to help you get back up.


I believe -- That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.


I believe -- That maturity ahs more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.


I believe -- That it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.


I believe -- That no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief.


I believe -- That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.


I believe -- That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.


I believe -- two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.


I believe -- That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you.


I believe -- That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you you will find the strength to help.


I believe -- That credential on the wall do not make you a decent human being.


I believe - That the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.


The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.


How to Stay Young

undated, by George Carlin


1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctor worry about them. That is why you pay him/her.


2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.


3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." And the devil's name is Alzheimer's.


4. Enjoy the simple things.


5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.


6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves. Be alive while you are alive.


7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.


8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.


9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, to the next county, to a foreign country, but not to where the guilt is.


10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.


And always remember:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,

but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to at least 8 people... who gives a shit??


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


I woke up early today, excited over all I get to do before the cock strikes midnight. I have responsibilities to fulfill today. I am important.


My job is to choose what kind of a day I am going to have.


Today I can complain because the weather is rainy or I can be thankful that the grass is getting watered for free.


Today I can feel sad that I don't have more money or I can be glad that my finances encourage me to plan my purchases wifely and guide me away from waste.


Today I can grumble about my health or I can rejoice that I am alive.


Today I can lament over all that my parents didn't give me when I was growing up or I can feel grateful that they allowed me to be born.


Today I can cry because roses have thorns or I can celebrate that thorns have roses.


Today I can mourn my lack of friends or I can excitedly embark upon a quest to discover new relationships.


Today I can whine because I have to go to work or I can shout for joy because I have a job to do.


Today I can complain because I have to go to school or eagerly open my mind and fill it with rich new tidbits of knowledge.


Today I can murmur dejectedly because I have to do housework or I can feel honored because the universe has provided shelter for my mind, bod and soul.


Today stretches ahead of me, waiting to be shaped. And here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.


What today will be like is up to me. I get to choose what kind  of day I will have!


What kind of day will you have?


My "Operator's Manual"

undated, author unknown


To help people understand and recover from a stroke, I constructed the following guidelines. Then, I had an epiphany: Dealing with a stroke -- dealing with any ailment or misfortune -- is no different than the way we all should live our lives.


When things go bad, always remember it could be worse.


Never, never give up. Keep working on your speech -- and on your life.


Never lose your sense of humor. Laugh at yourself, laugh with others.


Stem depression by thinking of, reaching out to and helping others.


Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


Pray, not for God to cure you but to help you help yourself.


The Trouble Tree

undated, author unknown


I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job, a flat tire made him lose an hour of work and his electric drill quit, his ancient one ton truck refused to start. As I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.


On arriving he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. Upon opening the door he had undergone an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.


Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do at the little tree.


"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again. Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.


For Better or Worse

undated, comic strip by Lynn Johnston


There are four people in my family, Annie. Why is it that nobody can put out a new roll of toilet paper? Why doesn't anybody toss out the empty shampoo bottles? Why doesn't anybody ever fill the saltshakers? Wipe out the dog's dish? Empty the dishwasher?!! Why don't they care?!!


Because... you do.


If I Knew

undated, author unknown


If I knew it would be the last time

That I'd see you fall asleep,

I would tuck you in more tightly

and pray the Lord, your soul to keep.


If I knew it would be the last time

that I see you walk out the door,

I would give you a hug and kiss

and call you back for one more.


If I knew it would be the last time

I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise,

I would video tape each action and word,

so I could play them back day after day.


If I knew it would be the last time,

I could spare an extra minute

to stop and say "I love you,"

instead of assuming you would know I do.


If I knew it would be the last time

I would be there to share your day,

Well I'm sure you'll have so many more,

so I can let just this one slip away.


For surely there's always tomorrow

to make up for an oversight,

and we always get a second chance

to make everything just right.


There will always be another day

to say "I love you,"

And certainly there's another chance

to say our "Anything I can do?"


But just in case I might be wrong,

and today is all I get,

I'd like to say how much I love you

and hope we never forget.


Tomorrow is not promised to anyone,

young or old alike,

And today maybe the last chance

you get to hold your loved one tight.


So if you're waiting for tomorrow,

why not do it today?

For if tomorrow never comes,

you'll surely regret the day,


That you didn't take that extra time

for a smile, a hug, or a kiss

and you were too busy to grant


what turned out to be their one last wish.


So hold your loved ones close today,

and whisper in their ear,

Tell them how much you love them

and that you'll always hold them dear


Take time to say "I'm sorry,"

"Please forgive me," Thank you," or It's okay."

And if tomorrow never comes,

You'll have no regrets about today.


Dear Lord

undated, author unknown


So far today, I am doing all right.


I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grump,  nasty, selfish, or self-indulgent. I have not whined, complained, cursed, or eaten any chocolate. I have charged nothing on my credit card.


But I will be getting out of bed in a minute, and I think that I will really need your help then.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


May today there be peace within you. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.


"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.


Live Each Day to the Fullest

undated, by S. H. Payer


Live each day to the fullest. Get the most from each hour, each day, and each age of your life. Then you can look forward with confidence, and back without regrets.


Be yourself -- but be your best self. Dare to be different and to follow your own star.


And don't be afraid to be happy. Enjoy what is beautiful. Love with all your heart and soul. Believe that those you love, love you.


Forget what you have done for your friends, and remember what they have done for you. Disregard what the world owes you, and concentrate on what you owe the world.


When you are faced with a decision, make that decision as wifely as possible -- then forget it. The moment of absolute certainty never arrives.


And above all, remember that God helps those who help themselves. Act as if everything depended upon you, and pray as if everything depended upon God.


Instructions for Life

undated, author unknown


1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.


2. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.


3. Follow the three R's:

Respect for self,

Respect for others and

Responsibility for all your actions.


4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.


5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.


6. Don't let a little dispute injure a great relationship.


7. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.


8. Spend some time alone every day.


9. Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.


10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.


11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.


12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don't bring up the past.


14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.


15. Be gentle with the earth.


16. Once a year, go someplace you've never been before.


17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.


18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.


19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." Epictetus

Mission Statement:

Why does our family exist?

What are we trying to accomplish?

What do we stand for? What do we as a family believe in?

What is our basic approach to achieving our purpose?

What is the overarching purpose I has as a Family Manager?

What would I like the family to say about me when I'm gone?

What is really important to me?


Title Unknown

undated, by W. Edwards Deming


If you always do what you've always done, You'll always get what you always got.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


When God closes a door

He opens a window.

Look for it!


Title Unknown

undated, author unknown


No one can go back and make a brand new start

Anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. privacy statement