Etymology is the study of the origin of words. For example, in mathematics there is a field called calculus. The word calculus comes from the Latin word for bladder or kidney stones. Centuries ago, the Romans used these stones for counting.

Many words have interesting pasts. Have you ever wondered where we got the phrase, blue moon? In common usage, blue moon means something that occurs rarely, but I have never understood why it has that meaning.

After several hours of searching the Internet, I came up with two explanations. The older of these has to do with the rare occurrence of dust particles in the air and certain atmospheric conditions at night. When dust and the right conditions are present, the moon will appear blue.

The other derivation of the term, blue moon, is more recent and has to do with the appearance of two full moons in the same month. This also occurs infrequently. If you create a composite of these two explanations, you will have a good understanding of the meaning of a blue moon event.

Although the blue moon phenomena occurs only rarely in the natural world, we should be ready to take advantage of them when they occur in our everyday world. We can't create the conditions for an actual blue moon, but we can create the right circumstances for having blue moon events in our lives.

Many times when dust-like problems come into our lives, we don't think of creative ways of dealing with the irritants. We usually ignore the problems until they pile up. As a result, blue moon occurrences become increasingly rare in our lives.

Using what we know about the blue moon, we can look for ways of taking advantage of the problems that float into our lives or those problems that we sometime create for ourselves. Dust in our lives, like dust in the sky, can produce a blue moon effect in our lives when we turn a problem into a blessing.

Look at some famous people who, because of a problem or tragedy in their lives, have worked creatively with their problems. Helen Keller turned blindness into a blessing and was able to see things that many sighted people can't see.

What was true for Helen Keller is true for those around us. A friend of mine had a good job in a local mill, but he was deeply in debt due to a recent divorce. His financial problems created a great deal of anxiety for him. The only question was whether he would create conditions right for a blue moon event. For him, the blue moon happened.

Realizing that he needed to come up with over $7500, he started to think about where he would find that kind of money. His hobby was working on computers. He decided to do some moonlighting with his computer knowledge. He worked up a resume and sent it out to area businesses. He started a computer service that set up computer systems and assisted small businesses in utilizing them. This answered two needs: his for money and the small businesses who needed his computer expertise.

It took several months before my friend's computer business really got off the ground. However, after being in business for just over a half year, he was working as many hours as he could. He really liked the computer job even more than his mill job. Soon his bills were being erased at a rate he thought impossible a few short months before.

Ironically, after another year of working part-time with his computer business, the mill offered him early retirement because it was downsizing. My friend's buy-out allowed him to go into the computer business full-time. He now has a small office downtown where he employs two others, and his business is growing. He took advantage of his blue moon opportunity.

Remember that the secret to success is being ready to capitalize on a problem. The dust-like irritants will enter your lives without any encouragement from you. However, you need to be ready for them with the correct attitude-an expectant and creative attitude. If you do, you will enjoy your blue moon opportunities.