MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Life Packaging

I did not write this. This is from DailyOM.

We’re spiritual beings living in a human body, even though our packaging seems different, we’re very much the same.

We have all had the experience of encountering someone whose life seems so completely different from ours that we can almost imagine we have nothing in common. However, if we go deeper into observing, we will see that we all have the same things going on in our lives. It is as if our different lives are in essence the same gift, wrapped in an infinite variety of containers, wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. Everybody experiences loss, grief, happiness, excitement, anger, and fear. Everyone can have money issues of one kind or another, and everyone struggles with difficult choices. 

Our lives show up differently for each one of us because we each learn in different ways. One person may need to learn the value of money by having too little of it, while another may need to learn by having more than enough. We each learn about work and love, with experiences that are tailored to our particular perspective. Even as it appears that some people have it easy while others are in a continual state of struggle, the truth is that we are all learning, and it is very difficult to tell, when looking only at the exterior of a person, what’s going on inside. 

This is one of the many things that can be so valuable about cultivating relationships with people from all walks of life. As we get to know those who seem so different from us, we get to really see how much of life’s challenges and joys are universal. We begin to look beyond the packaging of skin color, clothing preferences, and socioeconomic differences, hairstyles, and the cars we drive to the heart of the human experience. It is important to honor and value the differences in our packaging, but it is just as important to honor the gift of life inside each one of us, and the fact that, no matter how different the packaging, the gift inside is the same. 

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: The Feeling Underneath

I did not write this. This is from DailyOM.

Apologizing chronically can be a sign that you are not feeling that you have much self worth.

Many people suffer with the tendency to apologize all the time, chronically, for everything. On the one hand, apologizing is a social convention that keeps interactions between people polite, and in that way it can be very helpful. On the other hand, if we find ourselves apologizing for everything, it might be time to look at why we feel compelled to say “I’m sorry” so often. Ultimately, saying you’re sorry is saying that you are responsible for something that has gone wrong in the situation. Whether it’s negotiating a parking spot, moving through the aisles of the supermarket, or reaching for what you want, there are times when sorry is the right thing to say. But there are other times when “excuse me” is more accurate. 

Sometimes saying you’re sorry is like saying that the other person in the equation has more of a right to be here than you do. Of course, it’s true that using the word sorry can simply be an innocuous way of defusing tension. However, if you find that you say sorry all the time, you might want to look a little deeper and see where in your psyche that might be coming from. If it’s a pattern, breaking it may simply take some awareness and practice.

The first step is observing yourself each time you say it, without being hard on yourself about it. Throughout your day simply notice when you apologize. At first, you might be surprised to see that you do it even more than you first realized. After a day or two of simply observing, try to tune in to what it is you are feeling right before you say it. You might be feeling threatened, embarrassed, intensely anxious, or a variety of other feelings. Over time, try to stop yourself before the words come out and just be with the feeling that’s there. You may recognize it as one from your childhood, one that’s been with you for a long time. The more you are able to see it, the freer you will be not to be sorry all the time.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Life’s Natural Rhythm

I did not write this. This is from DailyOM.

Slowing down and listening to your own natural rhythm can quickly connect you to the Universe.

Nature’s natural rhythms orchestrate when day turns to night, when flowers must bloom, and provides the cue for when it is time for red and brown leaves to fall from trees. As human beings, our own inner rhythm is attuned to this universal sense of timing. Guided by the rising and setting of the sun, changes in temperature, and our own internal rhythm, we know when it is time to sleep, eat, or be active. While our minds and spirits are free to focus on other pursuits, our breath and our heartbeat are always there to remind us of life’s pulsing rhythm that moves within and around us. 

Moving to this rhythm, we know when it is time to stop working and when to rest. Pushing our bodies to work beyond their natural rhythm diminishes our ability to renew and recharge. A feeling much like jet lag lets us know when we’ve overridden our own natural rhythm. When we feel the frantic calls of all we want to accomplish impelling us to move faster than is natural for us, we may want to breathe deeply instead and look at nature moving to its own organic timing: birds flying south, leaves shedding, or snow falling. A walk in nature can also let us re-attune is to her organic rhythm, while allowing us to move back in time with our own. When we move to our natural rhythm, we can achieve all we need to do with less effort. 

We may even notice that our soul moves to its own internal, natural rhythm — especially when it comes to our personal evolution. Comparing ourselves to others is unnecessary. Our best guide is to move to our own internal timing, while keeping time with the rhythm of nature.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Parts That Don’t Want to Heal

I did not write this. This is from DailyOM.

When we choose that which is not best for us, there can be a deep seated part of us that does not want to heal.

In almost every case, we know what is best for us in our lives, from the relationships we create to the food we eat. Still, somewhat mysteriously, it is often difficult to make the right choices for ourselves. We find ourselves hanging out with someone who leaves us feeling drained or choosing to eat fast food over a salad. We go through phases where we stop doing yoga or taking vitamins, even though we feel so much better when we do. Often we have no idea why we continue to make the less enlightened choice, but it is important that we inquire into ourselves to find out.

When we choose that which is not best for us, the truth can be that there is a deep seated part of us that does not want to heal. We may say it’s because we don’t have the time or the energy or the resources, but the real truth is that when we don’t take care of ourselves we are falling prey to self-sabotage. Self-sabotage happens unconsciously, which is why it’s so difficult to see that we are doing it. The important thing to realize is that this very part of us that resists our healing is the part that most needs our attention and love. Even as it appears to be working against us, if we can simply bring it into the light of our consciousness, it can become our greatest ally. It carries the information we need to move to the next level in our healing process. 

When we recognize that we are not making healthy choices, we might even say out loud, “I am not taking care of myself.” Sometimes this is the jolt we need to wake up to what is actually happening. Next, we can sit ourselves down in meditation, with a journal, or with a trusted friend to explore the matter more thoroughly. Just shining the light of our awareness on the source of our resistance is sometimes enough to dispel its power. At other times, further effort is required. Either way, we need not fear these parts that do not want to heal. We only need to take them under our wing and bring them with us into the light. 

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Andrew Taylor Greenlee

Andrew Taylor Greenlee was my third great-grandfather.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Remembering Joel Monroe Jones

My great-great-grandfather, Joel Monroe Jones, born and raised in Madison County, Indiana, looked austere until a person got to know him. The family and family friend stories painted him as a tremendous storyteller and genius prankster.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Remembering Thelma Daugherty Barmes

Thelma E. Daugherty Barmes ~ 24 July 1903 – 16 January 1957

Before the Noon hour on Tuesday, 15 January 1957, my great-grandmother, while en route to deliver milk, eggs, and homemade butter to her church’s shut-ins, skidded on the ice leading up the slight embankment to the railroad tracks and stalled.

While initial newspaper reports were hopeful, Thelma Barmes succumbed to internal injuries, nineteen hours following the accident, expiring at 5:05 PM the following day, Wednesday, 16 January 1957.

She was married to Virgil Barmes and they had four children, Leroy Barmes, Evelyn Barmes Smith, Norma Barmes Edwards Abbott, and Danny Barmes.

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MY DAY: Friday evening fun

After dinner at La Piñata, Laura and I went to Home Buys in Centerville. I have not been in-store shopping in quite some time so it was like an hour or so in Disney World for me.

I bought several throw rugs, a number of other things, and a new “baby” for Erma. since the other three dogs consider themselves to be human, Erma is always excited and appreciative of typical dog toys.

Upon returning home I unpacked things, laid out the three new rugs, and gave Erma her new “baby.” I turned around to find her moving the one new rug from the hall into my study whereupon Erma stretched out to meet the newest member in her “baby” collection.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Here’s to 2022!

The holiday season has ended, and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more.

Christmas Day and New Year’s Day were both spent at the Kettering home of my bonus sister, Laura, along with Mama Kay, Laura’s cousin, Joyce, a number of twenty-something young adults, a precious three-year-old lass, and on New Year’s Day, having recovered from his Christmas cold, Laura’s dad, John. Both holiday celebrations were served with delicious foods and filled with wonderful company and much laughter.

2021 began the series of 100th birthday anniversaries of my grandparents and their siblings. This past week, I’ve spent a good deal of time working on three projects and going down several genealogical rabbit holes and returning to the surface with success after several years of unabandoned research. Thanks to several Hoosier cemeteries being online and with a completed database of buried contestants, I was finally able to connect numerous ancestral dots to complete the mission. I am always amazed when I am meeting ancestors living in The Colonies, Territories, or newly established “western” states on this side of the Mississippi River who served as pioneers between the 1740s and 1830s. How fascinating and warming to know they were each an individual thread that made up the collective fabric of their community, township, county, state, and country. I am proud of my heritage and the contributions of so many folks.

I have had Jason Emerson’s masterful biography, GIANT IN THE SHADOWS: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln, in my possession for several years and finally urged myself to read it. I’ve become dependent on audiobooks for some time, now, and I’ve not located an audio version of GIANT IN THE SHADOWS. I am barely at the 100th page and am finding this book such a fascinating read with much new and appreciated information.

Alongside this, I have my audiobook biography, POLK: The Man Who Transformed The Presidency and America, by Walter R. Borneman. This book on President Polk, while possessing much new information to my liking is not as wonderful as GIANT IN THE SHADOWS. Perhaps it is the voice of the reader that makes me sometimes feel I am in a wood-heated tub of water well into the Donner Party expedition.

Today and Monday are Fifth Weeks and there is no teaching. I return to teaching on Tuesday and then have the next four days off. Wednesday morning, bright and early, I expect the Spectrum technician to see why the internet connection is frustratingly sporadic. I’ve had a new modem, router, and cables since June. A computer tech friend looked at my system and said all is well in that area.

I have had a wonderful break filled with quiet, tons of documentaries, reading, research, loving on The Quartet, and spending time with my bonus sisters. I’ve been to several events and dined out with Laura Parker, went to breakfast and saw WEST SIDE STORY with Jenny Davis, and shared Zoomed Thursday lunches with Valerie Gugala from the northern Chicago area. My phone icon is always on the back page of my iPhone and I often remove my “message” icon to the back page, as well, knowing if needed, folks can email me. Tuesday morning I shall return the text message icon to the front page and resume with my regular connection to the world.

All in all, it’s been the best damn time, moving when and along with as I please, and employing the wonderful books, documentaries, family friends, and The Quartet to make it the perfect holiday season.

As always, let us make it a great day, and let us also do what we must to make 2022 a great year.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: The Wisdom of Fear

I did not write the content in this blog. It is from the site DailyOM.

Anything really worth doing in our lives will always have some fear attached to it.

Anything worth doing will always have some fear attached to it. For example, having a baby, getting married, changing careers — all of these life changes can bring up deep fears. It helps to remember that this type of fear is good. It is your way of questioning whether you really want the new life these changes will bring. It is also a potent reminder that releasing and grieving the past is a necessary part of moving into the new. 

Fear has a way of throwing us off balance, making us feel uncertain and insecure, but it is not meant to discourage us. Its purpose is to notify us that we are at the edge of our comfort zone, poised in between the old life and a new one. Whenever we face our fear, we overcome an inner obstacle and move into new and life-enhancing territory, both inside and out. The more we learn to respect and even welcome fear, the more we will be able to hear its wisdom, wisdom that will let us know that the time has come to move forward, or not. While comfort with fear is a contradiction in terms, we can learn to honor our fear, recognizing its arrival, listening to its intelligence, and respecting it as a harbinger of transformation. Indeed, it informs us that the change we are contemplating is significant, enabling us to approach it with the proper reverence.

You might wish to converse with your fear, plumbing its depths for a greater understanding of the change you are making. You could do this by sitting quietly in meditation and listening or by journaling. Writing down whatever comes up — your worries, your sadness, your excitement, your hopes — is a great way to learn about yourself through the vehicle of fear and to remember that fear almost always comes alongside anything worth doing in your life.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Finding Your Next Step in Life

I did not write the content in this blog. It is from the site DailyOM.

Our lives are made up of a complex network of pathways that we can use to move from one phase of life to the next. For some of us, our paths are wide, smooth, and clearly marked. Many people, however, find that they have a difficult time figuring out where they need to go next. Determining which “next step” will land you on the most direct route to fulfillment and the realization of your life purpose may not seem easy.  

There are many ways to discover what the next step on your life path should be. If you are someone who seeks to satisfy your soul, it is vital that you make this inquiry. Often, your inner voice will counsel you that it’s time for a change, and it is very important to trust yourself because only you know what is best for you. Personal growth always results when you let yourself expand beyond the farthest borders of what your life has been so far. When figuring out what your next step will be, you may want to review your life experiences. The choices you’ve made and the dreams you’ve held onto can give you an idea of what you don’t want to do anymore and what you might like to do next. It is also a good idea to think about creative ways you can use your skills and satisfy your passions. Visualizing your perfect future and making a list of ways to manifest that future can help you choose a logical next step that’s in harmony with your desires. Meditation, journal writing, taking a class, and other creative activities may inspire you and provide insight regarding the next step in life that will bring you the most satisfaction.

It is when you are willing to listen to yourself and be fearless that figuring out your next step becomes easy. Beneath the fear and hesitation and uncertainty lies your inner knowing that always knows which step you need to take next. If you can allow the taking of your next step to be as easy as putting one foot in front of the next, you’ll notice that your next step is always the one that is right in front of you. All you have to do is put one foot forward and on the ground.  

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Small Steps to Big Change

I did not write the content in this blog. It is from the site DailyOM.

When making big change in our lives, it can be easier to break it up into a few small changes to avoid overwhelm.

When we decide that it’s time for big changes in our lives, it is wise to ease into them by starting small. Small changes allow us to grow into a new habit and make it a permanent part of our lives, whereas sudden changes may cause a sense of failure that makes it difficult to go on, and we are more likely to revert to our old ways. Even if we have gone that route and find ourselves contemplating the choice to start over again, we can decide to take it slowly this time, and move forward.

Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are merely indicators of the need for change and are useful in getting us moving in the right direction. But it is possible that once we try out what seemed so ideal, we may find that it doesn’t actually suit us, or make us feel the way we had hoped. By embarking on the path slowly, we have the chance to look around and consider other options as we learn and grow. We have time to examine the underlying values of the desire for change and find ways to manifest those feelings, whether it looks exactly like our initial goal or not. Taking small steps forward gives us time to adjust and find secure footing on our new path.

Life doesn’t always give us the opportunity to anticipate or prepare for a big change, and we may find ourselves overwhelmed by what is in front of us. By choosing one thing to work on at a time, we focus our attention on something manageable, and eventually we will look up to see that we have accomplished quite a bit. Forcing change is, in essence, a sign that we do not trust the universe’s wisdom. Instead, we can listen to our inner guidance and make changes at a pace that is right for us, ensuring that we do so in alignment with the rhythm of the universe. 

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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: The Christmas Truce

From: THIS DAY IN HISTORY

1914

Just after midnight on Christmas morning, the majority of German troops engaged in World War I cease firing their guns and artillery and commence to sing Christmas carols. At certain points along the eastern and western fronts, the soldiers of Russia, France, and Britain even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn, many of the German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no-man’s-land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans unarmed they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare. In 1915, the bloody conflict of World War I erupted in all its technological fury, and the concept of another Christmas Truce became unthinkable.

READ MORE: WWI’s Christmas Truce: When Fighting Paused for the Holiday

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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Bing Crosby introduces “White Christmas,” 1941

From: THIS DAY IN HISTORY

“White Christmas,” written by the formidable composer and lyricist Irving Berlin receives its world premiere on December 26, 1941 on Bing Crosby’s weekly NBC radio program, The Kraft Music Hall. It went on to become one of the most commercially successful singles of all time, and the top-selling single ever until being surpassed by Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind 1997.”

“White Christmas” took its first steps toward becoming a bedrock standard in the American songbook when Crosby first performed it publicly on Christmas Day, 1941. The song’s success couldn’t have surprised Berlin, who despite having already written such songs as “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Cheek To Cheek” and “God Bless America,” had raced into his Manhattan office in January 1940 and asked his musical secretary to transcribe “The best song I ever wrote…the best song anybody ever wrote.” It was nearly two years later, however, that Crosby finally premiered the song on live radio and a year after that that Crosby’s recording of “White Christmas” became a smash pop hit.

Crosby’s October 1942 recording of “White Christmas” received heavy airplay on Armed Forces Radio as well as on commercial radio during its first Christmas season, becoming an instant #1 pop hit. It also returned to the Hit Parade pop chart in every subsequent Christmas season for the next 20 years. Unlike other perennial holiday hits, however, “White Christmas” strikes a mood that isn’t necessarily jolly. As Jody Rosen, author of the 2002 book White Christmas: The Story of an American Song, told National Public Radio, “It’s very melancholy….And I think this really makes it stand out amongst kind of chirpy seasonal standards [like] ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ or ‘Let It Snow.’ ….I think that’s one of the reasons why people keep responding to it because our feelings over the holiday season are ambivalent.”

This was certainly true of the immigrant Russian Jewish songwriter Irving Berlin. Though he did not celebrate Christmas, it was a day that held special meaning to Berlin, who had spent each Christmas Day visiting the grave of his late son, Irving Berlin, Jr., who died at just 3 weeks old on December 25, 1928. As Jody Rosen has suggested about a beloved song of great emotional complexity, “The kind of deep secret of [“White Christmas”] may be that it was Berlin responding in some way to his melancholy about the death of his son.”

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ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Christ is born?

From: THIS DAY IN HISTORY

Although most Christians celebrate December 25 as the birthday of Jesus Christ, few in the first two Christian centuries claimed any knowledge of the exact day or year in which he was born. The oldest existing record of a Christmas celebration is found in a Roman almanac that tells of a Christ’s Nativity festival led by the church of Rome in 336 A.D. The precise reason why Christmas came to be celebrated on December 25 remains obscure, but most researchers believe that Christmas originated as a Christian substitute for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.

To early Christians (and to many Christians today), the most important holiday on the Christian calendar was Easter, which commemorates the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, as Christianity began to take hold in the Roman world, in the early fourth century, church leaders had to contend with a popular Roman pagan holiday commemorating the “birthday of the unconquered sun” (natalis solis invicti)–the Roman name for the winter solstice.

Every winter, Romans honored the pagan god Saturn, the god of agriculture, with Saturnalia, a festival that began on December 17 and usually ended on or around December 25 with a winter-solstice celebration in honor of the beginning of the new solar cycle. This festival was a time of merrymaking, and families and friends would exchange gifts. At the same time, Mithraism—worship of the ancient Persian god of light—was popular in the Roman army, and the cult held some of its most important rituals on the winter solstice.

After the Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312 and sanctioned Christianity, church leaders made efforts to appropriate the winter-solstice holidays and thereby achieve a more seamless conversion to Christianity for the emperor’s subjects. In rationalizing the celebration of Jesus’ birthday in late December, church leaders may have argued that since the world was allegedly created on the spring equinox (late March), so too would Jesus have been conceived by God on that date. The Virgin Mary, pregnant with the son of God, would hence have given birth to Jesus nine months later on the winter solstice.

From Rome, the Christ’s Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches to the west and east, and soon most Christians were celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25. To the Roman celebration was later added other winter-solstice rituals observed by various pagan groups, such as the lighting of the Yule log and decorations with evergreens by Germanic tribes. The word Christmas entered the English language originally as Christes maesse, meaning “Christ’s mass” or “festival of Christ” in Old English. A popular medieval feast was that of St. Nicholas of Myra, a saint said to visit children with gifts and admonitions just before Christmas. This story evolved into the modern practice of leaving gifts for children said to be brought by “Santa Claus,” a derivative of the Dutch name for St. NicholasSinterklaas.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Simplifying your schedule

I did not write the content in this blog. It is from the site DailyOM.

Simplifying your schedule and the busyness of the day may be crucial to avoid burnout.

For many, life is a hodgepodge of never-ending commitments. Yet few of us can be truly healthy or happy without regular periods of downtime. While there is nothing inherently wrong with busyness, those of us who over-commit or over-extend ourselves potentially face exhaustion and burnout. When you feel overwhelmed by your commitments, examining your motivation for taking on so many obligations can help you understand why you feel compelled to do so much. You may discover that you are being driven by fear that no one else will do the job or guilt that you aren’t doing enough. To regain your equilibrium and clear the clutter from your calendar, simplify your life by establishing limits regarding what you will and will not do based on your personal priorities.

Determining where your priorities lie can be as easy as making two lists: one that outlines all those obligations that are vital to your wellbeing, such as work, meditation, and exercise, and another that describes everything you do that is not directly related to your wellbeing. Although there will likely be items in the latter list that excite your passion or bring you joy, you may discover that you devote a large portion of your time to unnecessary activities. To simplify your schedule, consider which of these unnecessary activities add little value to your life and edit them from your agenda. Remember that you may need to ask for help, say no firmly, or delegate responsibility in order to distance yourself from such encumbrances. However, as you divest yourself of non-vital obligations that cause you stress, serve no purpose, or rob you of opportunities to refresh yourself, you will feel more energetic and enthusiastic about life in general.

If simplifying your schedule seems prohibitively difficult and you still feel pressed to take on more, try imagining how each new commitment will impact your life before saying yes. When you consider the hassle associated with superfluous obligations, you may be surprised to see that your schedule is impeding your attempts to grow as an individual. Your willingness to pare down your agenda, no matter how gradual your progress, will empower you to retake active control of the life that defines you.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Being Truly Thankful

I did not write the content in this blog. It is from the site DailyOM.

Our gratitude deepens when we begin to be thankful for being alive and living the life we are living.

Often when we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive, and when we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life. 

It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.   

We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning into our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Common fears

I did not write the content in this blog. It is from the site DailyOM.

Our minds are powerful, and moving into fear is a common experience that we can each look at and change.

Everyone has fears — it is a natural part of being human. Fear can protect us from harm by sending a rush of adrenaline to help us physically deal with potential danger. But there are times when fear may keep us from participating fully in life. Once we realize that fear is a state of mind, we can choose to face our fears, change our minds, and create the life we want to live. 

Our minds are powerful tools to be used by our higher selves; like computers, storing and using data to make certain connections between thought and response. We have the ability to observe these and choose differently. No matter where the fear came from, we can create new connections by choosing new thoughts. When our souls and minds are in alignment, we create a new experience of reality. This journey requires many small steps, as well as patience and courage through the process. Here’s an example: You decide to overcome your fear of driving on the freeway. Your plan of action starts with examining your thoughts and finding a new way of seeing the situation. When you’re ready, you enlist a calm companion to support you as you take the first step of merging into the slow lane and using the first exit. Your heart may be racing, but your confidence will be boosted by the accomplishment. Repeat this until you are comfortable, with or without help, and then drive one exit further. When you are ready, you can try driving in the middle lane, for longer periods each time, until you find yourself going where you want to go. This gradual process is similar for conquering any fear, but if you find it overwhelming, you can always seek the help of a professional.

You may think that you are the only one with a particular fear, that nobody else could possibly be scared of ordinary things such as water, heights, public speaking, or flying. These types of fears are very common, and you can have great success overcoming them. Remember, it is not the absence of fear but the courage to take action anyway that determines success. When we learn to face our fears, we learn to observe our thoughts and feelings but not be ruled by them. Instead, we choose how to shape the lives we want. 

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: The Paradox of Spirit

I did not write the content in this blog. It is from the site DailyOM.

The self is not small or big but is both at the same time. Our spirit is like a drop in the ocean of spiritual energy.

Each of us has a spiritual self that animates our bodies and infuses our thoughts and feelings. Our language is limited to the world we know for descriptions of something that perhaps cannot be fully comprehended by the human mind. Therefore, only metaphors approach the expressions that give us a true sense of our spiritual nature. The paradox lies in opposing concepts, all of which are true at the same time. And in harmonizing the opposites, we begin to know the wonders of the spirit.

The self is not small or big but is both at the same time. Our spirit is like a drop in the ocean of spiritual energy. Although our spirit seems like a small, disconnected part of a larger whole, it is still made of the same things and can become part of the vast ocean once again. Our individual spirit seems to inhabit our bodies like a passenger in a vehicle but at the same time is not bound by our bodies. Spirits can reach across the miles to touch the heart of a loved one or expand to become one with the universe. We may feel small and perhaps insignificantly young when we look up at the stars, but we are made of the same basic elements. Perhaps looking at the stars is merely a reflection of what is going on within each atom and cell of our being. We are a universe within a universe. Our spirits are ever-renewing, yet ageless and eternal. So the self is not new or old but both at once. 

So our spiritual self is not small or big, new or old. We may experience life as good and bad, right and wrong, happy and sad, but this is the experience of the material world of dualities, not the truth of our spiritual nature. By going within to touch the eternal and changeless energy at our center, we can go beyond the contrasting metaphors to the experience of oneness. And in that connection, we can know big and small, new and old, movement and stillness. By accepting the paradox of spirit, we open ourselves to the fullness of our own being. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Mary Bailey from IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

This Facebook post was written by Tim Clark , originally posted on 20 December 2017.

I realized something while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” recently. It was something I missed the first 326 times I watched it. That is, I think the hero of the story isn’t George, it’s Mary.

The movie starts off with Mary praying for God to be with George. Her prayer (and others) is the catalyst for the angel, Clarence, being sent to George.

Mary is the one who sees the beauty of the old broken-down house. “It’s full of romance, that old place.” George sees empty space; Mary sees a space that can be filled with a family’s love. That’s why George kisses the broken banister knob in the end; he finally sees what Mary always saw in that house. Mary saw it on the day of their wedding. She was the one who transformed the house into “honeymoon suite.” Of course, that happened after she had the idea to offer her $2000 honeymoon money to the people of the town during the bank run.

When George is depressed by his friends moving onward and upward in the world and thinks he’s a disappointment to his wife because of it, Mary makes it clear that she “didn’t want to marry anybody else in town.”

Never complaining, she worked “day after day remaking the old Granville house into a home.” This while having 4 children and running the USO.

Finally, Mary is the one who goes all over town to ask for help for her husband. Uncle Billy remarks, “Mary did it, George! Mary did it!” I had never noticed her expression before when Uncle Billy says this. She’s in the background as he says it, and she mouths “No…” while she shakes her head and moves further into the background.

It’s an incredibly subtle but important feature of her character: do good for others, but let others receive the credit. She moves fully into the background so that everyone giving money to George can come front and center. This was all orchestrated by Mary but she fades into the background.

She was as much a guardian angel to George as Clarence was.

In the end, George was a good man; even a great one. He was after all, “The richest man in town.”

But would he have accomplished all he did, and been the man he was without Mary? I think the answer is definitely not.

And there are many such Marys in this world who quietly go about, offering their prayers, works, and sufferings; raising their children; praying for their husbands, and making them 10x the men they would have been without them. I know. I’m married to one. Most of their deeds won’t be known this side of heaven.

Until they’re known, we, the Georges of this world, offer to you Marys our profound thank you. And we promise to keep trying to lasso the moon for you. You deserve nothing less.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Moving on to 2022

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MY DAY: Saturday fun!

I got to spend time with several of my favorite ladies, today, and it was such a terrific day.

From 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Karen McLain, Linda Utt, and I had a blend of history, culture, and delicious food at the John Patterson Homestead Victorian Tea.

The John Patterson Homestead, secured beneath the umbrella of Carillon Historical Park and Dayton History, offers this unique event several times throughout the year, and my first experience was a triumph. The 1860s costumed hosts and servers were outstanding and really made the event enjoyable and educational. Before each course, we learned about the food and a bit of history surrounding the food, the Patterson family, and the culture. It was outstanding.

I returned home, fed the dogs, and was out the door, again, with my bonus-sister, Laura, heading to the south edge of Centerville to eat at La Pinata.

Nearly a year ago, Laura lost her husband, Don, to esophageal cancer, rounding out a line of losses for both our families. The past ten months, especially after the quarantine relaxed, Laura and I have enjoyed near-weekly dinners (sometimes, several in one week) and attending plays, musicals, concerts, and other fun events. Mama Kay had already pulled me into the family, years ago, but Laura, and her younger brother, Michael, officially requested that I be considered their “brother.”

To commemorate this year, Laura gave me a Wright Flyer ornament and this cool T-shirt that is designed using every president’s inaugural address. So very neat!

Wednesday, Mama Kay, Laura, Lodde, and I spent a bit of time in downtown Dayton enjoying Christmas sites, as well as the Dayton Arcade before Mama Kay and I enjoyed the Kettering Civic Band’s concert.

Friday morning, Mama Kay, two of her friends, and I spent a wonderful hour at The Human Race Theatre’s Loft Theatre enjoying the artistry and humor of The Dayton Philharmonic’s Carillon Brass (quintet) for the annual “Bach’s Lunch.” Afterward, we lunched at Jimmy’s Italian Oven in Kettering.

This coming week is much lighter on the activity scale unless something comes up. I am still hoping to see the new WEST SIDE STORY movie and collect a few more visits to Carillon Park for the holiday festival.

And, with that, my busy, festive week is concluded.

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O, FOR HISTORY: The Bully Pulpit

I finally finished listening to the quite lengthy – nearly 37 hours – THE BULLT PULPIT by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

It’s an excellent book. Despite the title recognizing The Golden Age of Journalism, I wish it had been a solid focus on Roosevelt and Taft, and their families. However, I’ve been reading a bit about The Muckrakers and some its key players, Sam McClure and Ida Tarbell.

Theodore Roosevelt… my adoration for the boisterous, passionate leader is a bit diminished due to his post-presidency behavior. I knew there had been a rift between he and his Ohio born successor, William Howard Taft, but I had never truly studied the reason for their friendship’s semi-termination.

It was all interesting and I loved spending time in that era of history that is one of my favorites.

On to my next audiobook, POLK (James K. Polk) by Walter R. Borneman. I’m really poor in knowledge regarding this president but I seem to know more about his wife, Sarah Childress Polk.

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MY DAY: A different kind of “hug”

This is not a post for sympathy but one to educate and encourage.

I love hugs.

I always have.

Since I was born into a demonstrative family filled with tons of huggers it was pretty unavoidable to not become a hugger.

For over ten years, I have experienced a different kind of “hugging” and it is something unfamiliar to many folks who are not as acquainted with multiple sclerosis (MS).

When I was in my mid-40s I began noticing occasional tightening, constrictive feelings around and throughout my chest. I was always in a series of diabetic studies with Wells Institute of Health and Wellness and had a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly physical exam which often included EKGs and other cardio-vascular testing. My heart was strong and healthy, and my blood pressure was always excellent, often a surprise considering I was a single dad with adopted and foster sons creating a world of levels of excitement and chaos.

I remember sitting in the new auditorium at Centerville High School during a dance concert when one of my first episodes occurred. I struggled with deciding whether to leave the auditorium to call 911 or wait it out. The tightness around the chest and shoulders eventually subsided and I mentioned it to my doctor the following day. Everything with my tests checked out with a thumbs up from the doctor.

In the past several years, I’ve noticed at least one constriction episode every couple of months. With the string of family deaths, it seemed natural that stress was simply an irritant. With my MS diagnosis, if the “hugs” were discussed, I completely missed that topic.

This summer, as a family friend, whose husband recently passed away with a more severe level of MS, and I were chatting, she casually inquired if I had experienced “hugs.” Ummm… she knows me so she should know I am a hugger. She chuckled and proceeded to educate me about “MS hugs.”

The definition via WebMD (I like the layman’s terminology):

Multiple sclerosis affects the way nerves send messages.

The tightness, pain, or whatever you’re feeling results from spasms in small muscles between your ribs.

The doctor will call these intercostal muscles.

They hold your rib cage together and help it expand when you move, bend, or breathe.

If these muscles have spasms, you feel painful, tightening pressure.

The ‘MS hug’ is a symptom of MS that feels like an uncomfortable, sometimes painful feeling of tightness or pressure, usually around your stomach or chest.

The pain or tightness can stretch all around the chest or stomach, or it can be just on one side.

The MS hug can feel different from one person to another.

MS hugs can be brought about by stress, fatigue, or illness.

These hugs are not nearly as enjoyable as hugs shared with another but it’s now a part of life with which I must contend.

Life goes on and each day often tugs along a few surprises, new or returned, some appreciated and some a bit aggravating when it interferes with life. Writing and research can easily be accomplished from my bedroom; some days, however, it’s just a struggle to sit up to write or read. And that’s okay. I’m encouraged to rest more which gives me plenty of time to love on The Quartet which always gives me so many reasons to laugh and smile.

This MS physical chart is how I typically look at life: realistically and with great humor and lots of hope!

My MS seems to mostly affect everything from the groin to toes. My former years of dance training has been invaluable in helping me find new ways to use my legs and feet.

Family friends are understanding when I cannot go through with plans. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with them, it’s that my body’s impulsive schedule simply cannot abide by my own, much-wanted and needed social schedule.

“We can do this another time,” they say.

And, we do.

Last night I was to have dinner and attend a musical with Mama Kay, my next door adopted mama. I begged off dinner and with that, she sensed I was not feeling my best and stood firm in addressing me honestly about how I was really feeling. I finally admitted it was too much to attend the show.

And, the world worked its magic this morning.

The show’s director wanted me to see “our stars” that we share and made sure I have a ticket for tonight. Immediately after, a parent of one of my seniors texted to offer rides to and from the school.

When life throws lemons… make lemonade. Yes. That’s one of the components in the recipe for readjusting one’s life as required by nature’s requirements.

Sometimes, it’s okay to prop up Charlie Brown’s type of Christmas tree at the most visible window in your home to be seen by all who pass by. But, there’s nothing l sad or pathetic about that tree when we can still decorate the hell out of it!

Life is brilliant… it’s beautiful!

We ride at Dawn!

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Round Young Virgil

When I was young, I was very confused about the role my great-grandfather, Grandpa Virgil, played in the Nativity Story.

I would go up to my grandmother’s nativity set, which I adored, and point out the main cast: “there’s Mother Mary, there’s Baby Jesus, and there’s Grandpa Virgil,” pointing to a tall shepherd (teen) with red hair; Grandpa Virgil had been a redhead.

Finally, when they heard me singing “Silent Night,” they discovered I was singing, “round young Virgil, Mother and Child.”

It made perfect sense to me but the adults had to connect all the dots.

Now, there was also one of the magi or kings who carried a bag of green pebbles. To me, at age four, they looked like the “heavenly peas” also mentioned at the end of “Silent Night.”

I could not imagine why the newborn would sleep in a bag of peas but I was still trying to figure out why Grandpa Virgil was so popular with Mother Mary and Baby Jesus.

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