MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Shake Your Tail Feathers

This is not my writing. This post is from DailyOM.

Over time, we have learned to suppress some of the most fun aspects of our individuality.

Most of us express our distinctiveness in many ways throughout our lives. Although, as we proudly share our offbeat traits and preferences with the world, we take great pains to downplay those eccentricities we ourselves deem odd. Instead of living lives colored by these quirky impulses, we seek out socially acceptable outlets for our peculiarities. We may not realize that we are editing ourselves in this way because our individual societal awareness is unintentionally attuned to the attitudes of the people we encounter each day. Over time, we have learned to suppress some of the most fun aspects of individuality. To rediscover and embrace these buried traits, we need only ask ourselves what we would do if we knew for certain that no one would judge our choices. 

Visualizing this day without judgment can help you better understand the idiosyncrasies that are an important part of who you are but seldom manifest themselves in your existence. Perhaps you secretly dream of replacing grown-up, conservative clothing in favor of a changing array of costumes. You may envision yourself painting your car electric-green, hugging the trees in a crowded local park, singing joyous songs as you skip through your community, or taking up an exciting hobby like fire spinning. Try not to be surprised, however, if your imagination takes you in unexpectedly simple directions. In your musings, you may see yourself doing things such as breaking out in dance or dying your hair a fun color. Regardless of the nature of your suppressed peculiarities, ask yourself what is really stopping you from making them a part of your life, and then resolve to incorporate at least one into your everyday existence. 

Life as we know it is so short. Making the most of years we are granted is a matter of being ourselves even though we know that we will inevitably encounter people who disapprove of our choices. When you shake your tail feathers like no one is watching, you will discover that there are many others who appreciate you because you are willing to let go of any inhibition. By doing this you help others know it is okay. No one else in the world is precisely like you and, each time you revel in this simple fact, you rededicate yourself to the celebration of individuality. 

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Mrs. Irene Poynter

I would never trade growing up in Elwood, Indiana for any place else in the world because I got to know some of the most wonderful folks.

Our neighbors were bonus uncles and aunts, always keeping an eye on the children of other parents. It’s just how things worked. We had an innate sense of security no matter where we were playing.

A half a block away on Main Street was a wide gap in property between the LaPierre and Poynter houses, each filled with children. I assume that at one time there had been a house situated in this optimal kickball and whiffle ball spot. No former foundation interrupted our “play property.”

Harry and Irene Poynter were the parents of the Poynter Sisters. There were five Poynter daughters, Cindy, Pam, Jenny, Julie, and Debbie. Debbie and I entered kindergarten in 1970 just as her oldest sister was graduating from Elwood’s Wendell L. Willkie High School. When our 1983 class graduated the Poynter grandchildren were already filling up the next chapter of Mr. & Mrs. Poynter’s lives.

From high on the porch to the west of the play property usually stood Mr. Harry Poynter on his huge front porch with lower stone walls and columns painted white. We could always count on Mr. Poynter to step in as the official umpire or referee should we not agree on the play in question. Sometimes, Mr. Poynter, bald for as long as I knew him, looked stern. However, his seeming sternness was always betrayed by kind eyes and a gentle voice. Had I been the father of five beautiful daughters, knowing young men would be calling at the house, I would have looked stern.

Mrs. Poynter was usually seated on their porch or ready to serve popsicles, water, or even run a neighbor kid inside to clean and attend to a scraped knee or slight injury. I don’t believe I ever heard her voice raised much above calling one of her daughters or letting one of us neighbor kids know she could hear our mothers calling us by the pre-cell phone method of opening the door and yelling the child’s name.

The Poynters and many other neighbors were the foundation of an idyllic childhood in Elwood, Indiana. Our little piece of the universe was blessed. Harry and Irene Poynter were a major chunk of that blessing.

These two kind souls separated the past 37 years, are now reunited.

Mrs. Poynter gained her angel wings. It seems odd to say “she gained her angel wings” because this lady was undoubtedly always a true angel. They both were.

A number of my classmates, like myself, have bid farewell to one parent, or both of our parents. We’re at that age, now. As these parents go to their eternal rest, I can still hear the cheers of us kids, our laughter, our voices at play around the neighborhood as each of our parents kept a neighborly eye on the shifting play zones. But, always, there will be Harry and Irene Poynter on their front porch as we filled our huge play property with tons of fun.

Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Poynter… Know you are appreciated and know you are loved…

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MAKE IT A GRREAT DAY: Transforming Anger to Light

This is not my post nor writing. This is from DailyOM.

When we have anger that is lingering, we can give it to the earth to transmute and give a new purpose.

As humans, we all have anger, sometimes more than others. A healthy way of purging our anger from our bodies is to give it to Mother Earth. We can imagine ourselves being grounded as the electrical energy passes from us into Mother Earth below. We can see that energy go straight to the earth’s core where it becomes part of the continuous growth process of our planet and is transformed from negative to positive, from dark to light. When we choose to give our anger to the earth, we trust our connection with the natural world we live in and the great universe that fuels it all. Mother Earth will lovingly transform your anger into light so no need to feel guilty about unloading to her.

We can make this offering of our energy from any location, whether many stories up or on a ship at sea. We know the earth is below us, supporting us and sustaining us. If we have the opportunity to physically connect to the earth by going outdoors and touching unpaved ground, we may find it easier to connect to nature’s energy flow. It may also be easier to receive the flow of positive, calming, healing energy that comes to fill our bodies when we have emptied ourselves of our anger. To begin, sit and breathe deeply, ask Mother Earth to accept your anger, and imagine it coming down your spine out of your tailbone, and into the earth’s deep core. To finish, be sure to honor and thank the earth for her loving service.

When we work with our anger this way, we acknowledge that like everything else it is merely energy that can be used positively or negatively. During our grounding meditation, we may be given direction to channel this energy for its best use. We may find that the earth can help us cleanse misplaced energy to use for its rightful purpose. When we do this with gratitude, we know that we are not misusing the earth for our own selfish purposes. Instead we are connecting ourselves with the energy of our homeland, and when we do this we nurture the earth as it nourishes us. 
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MAKE IT A GRREAT DAY: Being Aware is the First Step

This is not my post nor writing. This is from DailyOM.

There is freedom that comes with awareness, because with it comes the opportunity to make a choice.

Life is a journey comprised of many steps on our personal path that takes us down a winding road of constant evolution. And each day, we are provided with a myriad of opportunities that can allow us to transform into our next best selves. One moment we are presented with an opportunity to react differently when yet another someone in our life rubs us the wrong way; on another day we may find ourselves wanting to walk away from a particular circumstance but are not sure if we can. Eventually, we may find ourselves stuck in a rut that we can never seem to get out of. We may even make the same choices over and over again because we don’t know how to choose otherwise. Rather than moving us forward, our personal paths may take us in a seemingly never-ending circle where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already been. It is during these moments that awareness can be the first step to change. 

Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing. We observe ourselves, noticing our reactions, actions, and choices as if we were a detached viewer. Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change because we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behaviors. We also begin to realize that, just as much as we are the root source behind the causes for our behaviors, we are also the originator for any changes that we want to happen. 

There is a freedom that comes with awareness. Rather than thinking that we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we very much play a hand in creating our lives. Whether we are aware of them or not, our behaviors and choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present no longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware. We are then free to move beyond our old limits, make new choices, and take new actions. With awareness, our paths can’t help but wind us forward in our lives while paving the way for new experiences and new ways of being. It is through awareness that we can continue to consciously evolve. 

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MAKE IT A GRREAT DAY: The First Moments of the Day

This is not my post nor writing. This is from DailyOM.

Each morning when we awake, we have an opportunity to create our day with what inspires us the most.

The moment during the day when we very first open our eyes and come into consciousness is a precious opportunity. It sets the tone for all that comes after it, like the opening scene in a film or novel. At this moment, our ability to create the day is at its most powerful, and we can offer ourselves fully to the creative process by filling this moment with whatever inspires us most. It may be that we want to be more generous, or it may be that we want to be more open to beauty in our daily lives. Whatever the case, if we bring this vision into our minds at this very fertile moment, we empower it to be the guiding principle of our day. 

Sometimes we wake up with a mood already seemingly in place, and it’s important to give this feeling its due. It can inform us and deepen our awareness to what’s going on inside us, as well as around us. As long as we are conscious, we can honor this feeling and also introduce our new affirmation or vision, our conscious offering to the day. We may want to decide before we go to sleep what we want to bring to the next day of our lives. It could be that we simply want to be more open to whatever comes our way. Or we may want to summon a particular quality such as confidence. Then again, we may simply call up a feeling that perfectly captures the texture we want our day to have. 

We can reaffirm our vision or affirmation as we shower and eat breakfast, as well as recalling it at various times throughout the day. We can write it down and carry it with us on a little slip of paper if this helps. Simply by being aware of those first moments, we set the stage for a more conscious, enlivened experience, and we become active participants in the creation of our lives.

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MAKE IT A GRREAT DAY: Taking time for yourself

This is not my post nor writing. This is from DailyOM.

Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish.

Modern life compels us to rush. Because we feel pressured to make the most of our time each day, the activities that sustain us, rejuvenate us, and help us evolve are often the first to be sacrificed when we are in a hurry or faced with a new obligation. It is important we remember that there is more to life than achieving success, making money, and even caring for others. Your spiritual needs should occupy an important spot on your list of priorities. Each task you undertake and each relationship you nurture draws from the wellspring of your spiritual vitality. Taking the time to engage in spiritually fulfilling activities replenishes that well and readies you to face another day. Making time for the activities that contribute to your spiritual growth has little to do with being selfish and everything to do with your well-being. Regularly taking the time to focus on your soul’s needs ensures that you are able to nurture yourself, spend time with your thoughts, experience tranquility, and expand your spiritual boundaries.

 It is easy to avoid using our free moments for spiritual enrichment. There is always something seemingly more pressing that needs to be done. Many people feel guilty when they use their free time to engage in pursuits where they are focusing on themselves because they feel as if they are neglecting their family or their work. To make time for yourself, it may be necessary to say no to people’s requests or refuse to take on extra responsibilities. Scheduling fifteen or thirty minutes of time each day for your spiritual needs can make you feel tranquil, give you more energy and allows you to feel more in touch with the universe. Writing in a journal, meditating, studying the words of wise women and men, and engaging in other spiritual practices can help you make the most of this time.

Making time to nurture your spirit may require that you sacrifice other, less vital activities. The more time you commit to soul-nurturing activities, the happier and more relaxed you will become. The time you devote to enriching your spirit will rejuvenate you and help you create a more restful life. 

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Balancing Your Warrior Spirit

I did not write this post. It is from DailyOM.

Balancing Your Warrior Spirit

When we recognize our warrior self, we can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness.

The human soul is dynamic, adapting readily to the changing conditions we encounter as time marches unerringly forward. Though we may use a single set of characteristics to define ourselves, we slip easily into contradictory roles when circumstances necessitate doing so. When we feel called to explore the way of the warrior, we may feel a strong sense of dismay because we have no wish to disavow ourselves of our softer side. Yet embracing the warrior spirit is not a matter of denying gentleness or compassion — all human beings embody all traits to some degree, and seemingly contradictory aspects can coexist peacefully within us. We can exhibit strength without sacrificing tenderness precisely because both are elements of the self and both have a role to play in the complexity of existence.

Balance is the key that unlocks the door of peaceable coexistence where opposing characteristics of the self are concerned. The warrior spirit, when allowed free reign, is overpowering and all-consuming. If it is to be an affirmative force in our lives, it must be tempered with wisdom and moderation. Our inner warriors are ready to react instantly to conflict, chaos, and confusion, while nonetheless remaining committed to a path of goodwill and fairness. They lie at the root of our dedication to integrity but do not drive us to use our strength to coerce others into adopting our values. The warrior may be nourished by raw emotions with the potential to cause us to lash out, but it channels that energy into positive and constructive action. 

Your inner warrior is one source of strength you can draw upon in times of great need. When you employ your warrior spirit thoughtfully, it manifests itself as clarity, focus, determination, courage, constancy, and an unflappable zest for life. The warrior views roadblocks as evolutionary opportunities and is not afraid to pursue a purpose to its climax. There is more than enough room in the existence of the warrior for softness and benevolence, and the warrior’s willingness to stand up for their beliefs can aid you greatly as you strive to incorporate these ideals into your existence. Exploring this unique side of yourself is a means of broadening your reality so you can internalize mindfulness while meeting life’s challenges with an intensity of spirit that never wavers.   
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Finding Freedom in No

I did not write this post. It is from DailyOM.

Finding Freedom in No

Saying No to somebody when we’re used to saying Yes, can be challenging as we fear being rejected.

Many of us, from childhood on, are taught that saying yes is right and saying no is wrong. We learn that acceding to demands allows us to avoid conflict and criticism, please people, earn praise, and prove that we care for the important people in our lives. Yet the right to say no is indelibly intertwined with the ability to make choices. When we sense we are limited in our options, compelled to say yes even when doing so is not in our interests, we are effectively robbed of our ability to choose. Growing out of this tendency to say yes even when we desperately want to say no can be challenging because we suspect that others will reject us for our assertiveness. But the reward we receive upon facing this challenge is true freedom of choice.

When others ask you to take on work or do favors, consider their requests carefully. If you feel pressed to say yes, consider whether you are acquiescing out of a desire for approval or to stave off disapproval. Remind yourself often that the ability to say no is an important aspect of well-being, as it is an indication that you understand the true value of your energy, talents, and time. As you learn to articulate your personal power by saying no, you may feel compelled to explore the myriad consequences of the word by responding negatively to many or most of the requests put to you. The word “no” may even become your default response for some time. When you see that life moves forward without interruption, however, you will grow more comfortable saying no and will resume making decisions from a point of balance. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with acceding to the requests others make of you, provided these requests do not infringe upon your health or your happiness. Keep in mind that it is only when you feel you have the legitimate right to say no that you can say yes with utmost certainty, sincerity, and enthusiasm. While saying yes almost always has a cost, you can feel good about offering your agreement when your reasons for doing so are rooted in your individual values and your appreciation for the appeal before you. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Spending time with nature

I did not write this blog post. It is from DailyOM.

Because we instinctively know that nature is good for us on many levels, it’s not unusual to feel powerfully drawn to it.

In this modern age, we spend so much time indoors, focused on the busyness of our lives and disconnected from the earth. But much of what we truly need can only be found under the naked sky, alongside tall trees, on open plains, or in the sound of running water. Spending time in nature allows us to commune with other living beings and to find comfort in the nurturing embrace of Mother Earth. You can’t help but experience a different sense of self while walking in a wood or traversing a mountainside. Being in nature connects us to the earth, grounding us as we walk, unhindered by concrete, upon her. Surrounded by other living beings, both bigger and smaller than we are, we remember that human beings are simply one form of life in this vast universe. 

Because we instinctively know that nature is good for us on many levels, it’s not unusual to feel powerfully drawn to it. Even if you live in a city or find it difficult to travel to a forest or the countryside, there are a myriad ways to reconnect with nature. When you step out of your door each morning, pause for a minute and close your eyes long enough to let your senses absorb your surroundings. Listen and breathe deeply, until you hear the wind rustling through branches, smell rain on damp grass, and see the reflection of leaves brushing up against windowpanes. If you have time, crouch down and closely examine any nearby grass and soil. The sights, sounds, smells, and sensations we experience that are part of nature can remind us of all the gifts Mother Earth grants us each day. 

Spending time connecting with nature nourishes the soul, reminds you that you are never truly alone, and renews you by attuning you to the earth’s natural rhythms. Taking a walk under the stars or feeling the wind on your face may be all it takes for you to reconnect with nature. Remember, you are as much a part of nature as are the leaves on a tree or water bubbling in a brook.

 

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Trees shedding their bark

I did not write this blog post. This is from DailyOM.

Like a tree, our growth depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed defenses we no longer need.

Trees grow up through their branches and down through their roots into the earth. They also grow wider with each passing year. As they do, they shed the bark that served to protect them but now is no longer big enough to contain them. In the same way, we create boundaries and develop defenses to protect ourselves and then, at a certain point, we outgrow them. If we don’t allow ourselves to shed our protective layer, we can’t expand to our full potential. 

Trees need their protective bark to enable the delicate process of growth and renewal to unfold without threat. Likewise, we need our boundaries and defenses so that the more vulnerable parts of ourselves can safely heal and unfold. But our growth also depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defenses we no longer need. It is often the case in life that structures we put in place to help us grow eventually become constricting. 

Unlike a tree, we must consciously decide when it’s time to shed our bark and expand our boundaries, so we can move into our next ring of growth. Many spiritual teachers have suggested that our egos don’t disappear so much as they become large enough to hold more than just our small sense of self — the boundary of self widens to contain people and beings other than just “me.” Each time we shed a layer of defensiveness or ease up on a boundary that we no longer need, we metaphorically become bigger people. With this in mind, it is important that we take time to question our boundaries and defenses. While it is essential to set and honor the protective barriers we have put in place, it is equally important that we soften and release them when the time comes. In doing so, we create the space for our next phase of growth. 

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Relaxing from home

I did not write this blog entry. It is from DailyOM.


If you can’t get away on a vacation, turn your home into an instant vacation place.

Throughout our lives, most of us are led to believe that relaxation is best pursued outside of the home. As a result, we spend months anticipating weeklong vacations, seldom fully appreciating the leisure time we are blessed with on a more regular basis. It is possible, however, to reexperience the same utterly relaxed state you slip into while on holiday within your home’s walls. The feelings of serenity you enjoy during a vacation are a product of your outlook rather than your locale. You give yourself permission to enjoy yourself and unwind while on vacation. Granting yourself the same privilege while at home allows you to experience complete relaxation, even when surrounded by routine. 

Our homes can be distracting places as most survival tasks are addressed there. Reviving the tranquility you felt on holiday is as easy as creating an atmosphere that helps you relax. First, divest yourself of the notion that messes must be cleaned up immediately and reaffirm that relaxation is as vital as physical nourishment. Then, set the mood. Music that reminds you of a beloved vacation destination can put you in a vacation mind-set. The exotic flavor of a tropical beverage or the spiciness a favorite ethnic dish can transport you to a more restful mental space. Finally, put aside your projects and commit to doing only what you consider truly pleasurable. Your responsibilities will wait as you put up your feet and revel in peacefulness that comes from within.

If you find it difficult to ignore the temptation to simply fall back into your usual schedule, consider that relaxation should occupy a prominent place on your to-do list. You deserve to take “you time” and to care for yourself, even during life’s busy periods. While you may not always be able to get away from it all, you can still nurture yourself and regain your peace of mind.
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Worth

This is not my writing but from the DailyOM site.

Your worth is not a product of your intelligence, your talent, your looks, or how much you have accomplished.

Though much of who and what we are changes as we journey through life, our inherent worth remains constant. While the term self-worth is often used interchangeably with self-esteem, the two qualities are inherently different. Self-esteem is the measure of how you feel about yourself at a given moment in time. Your worth, however, is not a product of your intelligence, your talent, your looks, your good works, or how much you have accomplished. Rather it is an immeasurable and unchanging manifestation of your eternal and infinite oneness with the universe. It represents the cornerstone of the dual foundations of optimism and self-belief. Your worth cannot be taken from you or damaged by life’s rigors, yet it can easily be forgotten or even actively ignored. By regularly acknowledging your self-worth, you can ensure that you never forget what an important, beloved, and special part of the universe you are.

You are born worthy — your worth is intertwined with your very being. Your concept of your own self-worth is thus reinforced by your actions. Each time you endeavor to appreciate yourself, treat yourself kindly, define your personal boundaries, be proactive in seeing that your needs are met, and broaden your horizons, you express your recognition of your innate value. During those periods when you have lost sight of your worth, you will likely feel mired in depression, insecurity, and a lack of confidence. You’ll pursue a counterfeit worth based on judgment rather than the beauty that resides within. When you feel worthy, however, you will accept yourself without hesitation. It is your worth as an individual who is simultaneously interconnected with all living beings that allows you to be happy, confident, and motivated. Because your conception of your worth is not based on the fulfillment of expectations, you’ll see your mistakes and failures as just another part of life’s journey. 

Human beings are very much like drops of water in an endless ocean. Our worth comes from our role as distinct individuals as well as our role as an integral part of something larger than ourselves. Simply awakening to this concept can help you rediscover the copious and awe-inspiring worth within each and every one of us.
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MY DAY: Trying to return to routine

September 27th was my last official blog offered by my own hand, the others, labeled as MAKE IT A GREAT DAY, were from DailyOM that is one of my favorite sites.

The seasonal weather change, which has always sacked my spirit and energy no matter how hard I strive to overcome it, smacked me down pretty hard. Except for teaching, Zooming with my son and son-in-law in London, spending time with my friend/sister, Laura to see several shows and grabbing a bite to eat, long-lunching with my friend, Kim, or enjoying some Zoom activity with my one Facebook group and our regular Zoom-lunch on Thursdays, my remaining time has been spent curled up in bed watching documentaries, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, and other items of interest, or snuggling with The Quartet.

Yesterday, I decided to move my clothes downstairs after removing items in the smaller bedroom closet to the basement. In 2013, when I turned the entire second floor’s former dormitory into my bedroom and lounge, the new guest bedroom closet became an organized utility closet and additional storage.

There were no less than thirty trips up and down both sets of staircases. Amazingly, I’ve not discovered any repercussions from the rather strenuous activity.

Now, it’s time to readjust the sales and return myself to a new schedule for research and writing. I regroup myself twice a year to reorganize and refocus my energies. Despite the grueling effects of the preceding restructuring I always welcome the change.

I tire of reading memes that stress change “is painful.” Yes, there might be uncomfortable changes but so much is dependent on our mindset and how we view change. There have been changes for which I’ve not been a fan but in the end, I’ve always valued the results or at least, adjusted to them with positivity.

While cleaning out the closet in my study, I ran across a box of cards and other items collected over forty years. In the box I found two of my favorite cards from Mother, 1979.

The first card was wishing me luck on my marching band drum-major auditions. During a practice with the band where those auditioning for the leadership position were permitted to take the band through a series of commands, I gave a “right hace” and proceeded to turn to my left. Mother noted in my card that should I panic, my watch was always on my left wrist. Since that note of advice, I still look to my left hand when faced with a directional decision.

The second card was given me later that evening when Mother picked me up at the high school following the auditions that resulted in me as a freshman drum-major.

The cards reassured me and reminded me of who I am, of my many blessings, and substantiating my beliefs, dreams, and of where I might be of service to others. Mother always knew the right words to reinvigorate any sagging spirits; I knew better than to share any self-doubt in her presence as she refused me that indulgence with a good deal of motherly stricture.

Finally, her command in the second card, an oft repeated command that was to serve me well through life and as a parent, myself: “Do your best.”

I need to return to my practice of making it a great day.

Physician, heal thyself.

The second card.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Create a Supportive Life Story

I did not write this post. It is from DailyOM.

Create a Supportive Life Story

While we are on earth, we are all human beings in different phases of our lives and soul development.

We all have our own life story. It is filled with relationships and events that help shape who we are and what we believe to be true about the world. Depending on our perspective and willingness to grow, our experiences can become fodder for negativity and patterns of playing the victim, or they can fuel a life of empowerment and continued self-development. It is the story we tell ourselves about what happens that makes all the difference. 

Take a moment to look at the life story you create for yourself on an ongoing basis. If you generally feel peaceful about the past and trust in your ability to handle whatever comes your way, then you are framing circumstances in a manner that serves you well. On the other hand, if you retain a lot of guilt or resentment and often feel weighed down by life, you may want to start telling yourself a new version of past and present events. No matter who the characters are in your story or what they have done, you are the only one who can give their actions the meaning they will have for you. You are the only one who can define what role you will play in your own life. By taking responsibility for your story, you are able to learn and grow, forgive and find compassion, and most importantly, move on into a brighter future.

From now on, you can choose a life story that supports you. Let it be proof of your own resilience and creativity. Be kind with the roles you give yourself and generous with how many chances you get to learn what you need to know. When you remember that you are the author of your own story, you are free to create a masterpiece. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Big Steps on Life’s Path

I did not write this post. It is from DailyOM.

Big Steps On Life’s Path

There is freedom that comes with awareness, because with it comes the opportunity to make a choice.

Life is a journey comprised of many steps on our personal path that takes us down a winding road of constant evolution. And each day, we are provided with a myriad of opportunities that can allow us to transform into our next best selves. One moment we are presented with an opportunity to react differently when yet another someone in our life rubs us the wrong way; on another day we may find ourselves wanting to walk away from a particular circumstance but are not sure if we can. Eventually, we may find ourselves stuck in a rut that we can never seem to get out of. We may even make the same choices over and over again because we don’t know how to choose otherwise. Rather than moving us forward, our personal paths may take us in a seemingly never-ending circle where our actions and choices lead us nowhere but to where we’ve already been. It is during these moments that awareness can be the first step to change. 

Awareness is when we are able to realize what we are doing. We observe ourselves, noticing our reactions, actions, and choices as if we were a detached viewer. Awareness is the first step to change because we can’t make a change unless we are aware that one needs to be made in the first place. We can then begin understanding why we are doing what we are doing. Afterward, it becomes difficult not to change because we are no longer asleep to the truth behind our behaviors. We also begin to realize that, just as much as we are the root source behind the causes for our behaviors, we are also the originator for any changes that we want to happen. 

There is a freedom that comes with awareness. Rather than thinking that we are stuck in a repetitive cycle where there is no escape, we begin to see that we very much play a hand in creating our lives. Whether we are aware of them or not, our behaviors and choices are always ours to make. Our past and our present no longer have to dictate our future when we choose to be aware. We are then free to move beyond our old limits, make new choices, and take new actions. With awareness, our paths can’t help but wind us forward in our lives while paving the way for new experiences and new ways of being. It is through awareness that we can continue to consciously evolve. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Timing Can Be Everything

This post was not written by me. It is from DailyOM.

Timing Can Be Everything

Every person fulfills their purpose when the time is right.

Since human timetables quite often do not correspond with universal timetables, it’s common for people to feel that life is progressing too slowly or too quickly. We draft carefully composed plans only to find that they fall into place when we least expect. Or, conversely, we are thrust into roles we believe we are not prepared for and wonder how we will survive the demands imposed upon us by unfamiliar circumstances. When delays in our progress kindle pangs of disappointment within us or the pace of life seems overwhelming, peace can be found in the simple fact that we are exactly where we need to be at this moment.

Every person fulfills their purpose when the time is right. If you have fast-tracked to success, you may become deeply frustrated if you discover you can no longer satisfy your desires as quickly as you might like. Yet the delays that disappoint you may be laying the foundation for future accomplishments that you have not yet conceived. Or the universe may have plans for you that differ from the worldly aspirations you have pursued up until this point. What you deem a postponement of progress may actually represent an auspicious opportunity to prepare for what is yet to come. If, however, you feel as though the universe is pushing you forward at too fast a clip, you may be unwittingly resisting your destiny. Your unease regarding the speed of your progress could be a sign that you need to cultivate awareness within yourself and learn to move with the flow of fate rather than against it. The universe puts nothing in your path that you are incapable of handling, so you can rest assured that you are ready to grow into your new situation. 

You may feel compelled to judge your personal success using your age, your professional position, your level of education, or the accomplishments of your peers as a yardstick. Yet we all enjoy the major milestones in our lives at the appropriate time — some realize their dreams as youngsters while others flourish only in old age. If you take pride in your many accomplishments and make the most of every circumstance in which you find yourself, your time will come. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Breaking Family Cycles

This post was not written by me. It was from DailyOM.

Breaking Family Cycles

Breaking your family patterns may be the most important work you do and the most challenging.

It is easy to believe that in leaving our childhood homes and embarking upon the journey of adulthood, we have effectively removed ourselves from harmful and self-perpetuating familial patterns. In looking closely at ourselves, however, we may discover that our behaviors and beliefs are still those that were impressed upon us during our youth by our parents, grandparents, and the generations that preceded them. We may find ourselves unconsciously perpetuating cycles of the previous generations, such as fear of having enough, not showing affection, and secrecy patterns. Yet the transmission of negative patterns from one generation to the next is not inevitable. It is possible to become the endpoint at which negative family cycles that have thrived for generations are exhausted and can exert their influence no longer. Breaking the pattern is a matter of overcoming those values imprinted upon us long ago in order to replace them with pure love, tolerance, and conscious awareness. 

Even if you have struggled with the cumulative effects of family cycles that were an expression of established modes of living and a reflection of the strife your ancestors were forced to endure, you can still liberate yourself from the effects of your family history. The will to divest yourself of old, dark forms of familial energy and carry forth a new loving energy may come in the form of an epiphany. You may one day simply realize that certain aspects of your early life have negatively affected your health, happiness, and ability to evolve as an individual. Or you may find that in order to transcend long-standing patterns of limiting beliefs, irrational behavior, and emotional stiltedness, you have to question your values and earnestly examine how your family has impacted your personality. Only when you understand how family cycles have influenced you can you gain freedom from those cycles.

In order to truly change, you must give yourself permission to change. Breaking family patterns is in no way an act of defiance or betrayal. It is important that you trust yourself implicitly when determining the behaviors and beliefs that will help you overwrite the generation-based cyclical value system that limited your individual potential. Many people are on the earth at this time to break family cycles, for all of you are true pioneers. In breaking negative family cycles, you will discover that your ability to express your feelings and needs grows exponentially and that you will embark upon a journey toward greater well-being that can positively impact generations to come. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Mind Over Matter

I did not write this post. It is from DailyOM.

Mind Over Matter

We can improve our physical well-being by first starting to notice our thoughts and our reactions to them.

The power of the mind is a curious thing, because it is so powerful yet so difficult to control sometimes. We find ourselves thinking a certain way, knowing that this thought may be creating trouble for us yet we find it difficult to stop. For example, many people have the experience of getting sick at the same time every year or every time they go on a plane. They may even be aware that their beliefs impact their experiences, so continue to think they will get sick and then they do. 

Sometimes we need to get sick in order to process something or move something through our bodies. But often we get sick, or feel exhausted, because we don’t make the effort to galvanize the power of our minds in the service of our physical health, which is one of its most important functions. We really can use it to communicate to our bodies, yet we often regard the two as separate entities that have little to do with one another. 

Knowing this, we have the power to create physical health and mental health, simply by paying attention to the tapes running in our minds. Once we hear ourselves, we have the option to let that tape keep running or to make a new recording. We harness the power of the mind in our defense when we choose supportive, healing words that foster good health and high spirits. All we need to do is remember to tend the field of our mind with the attentive and loving hand of a master gardener tending her flower beds, culling out the weeds so that the blossoms may come to fruition.
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MY DAY: Birthdays and other days

Last weeks rain and chilly spell socked it to me with the body’s adjustments to the changing weather. But, by the weekend, I was feeling up to my old self.

Saturday at 11:00 AM, Laura picked me up for one of the nicest leisurely treks through the countryside that ended up at Young’s Dairy. The new facility is outstanding and so nice in many ways. I loved it. After eating, we moved outside to the goats and barns.

We returned to Dayton via way of Wright State University to check out the flight fair. It was nice but very geared toward children and families. There was a potential moment of excitement with a helicopter… I didn’t try to start it up.

The best part was ending up at Menard’s. I had not been for several years and it was good to be back home. I refrained from acquiring several things but did spy a bottle of Red Gold ketchup which is headquartered in my home town of Elwood, Indiana, and I bought Erma two new “babies.”

We returned home in time for Mama Kay to give me my birthday hug at 6:03 PM to continue Mother’s traditional phone call or in person greeting. Then, we continued celebrating at La Piñata for dinner.

A few weeks prior to my birthday, my bonus sister, Jenny, and her husband, Jim, took me to dinner and presented me with this wonderful bust of Lincoln! It’s perfect for this table and for a cool image as folks pass by the house!

Sunday was the return to teaching and there were some absolute magical moments.

Today, I returned the window air conditioner in my study to the basement. I probably should have asked for assistance with this chore but neither I nor the window unit were injured. It just took more time and effort. Then, I finally mowed the front yard and I’m so pleased with the trim, manicured appearance. I’m sure there will be at least one more, maybe two more mowings before Fall really sets in.

After tossing in a large load of laundry I settled in at my desk to teach. During my break the laundry went on the line, I mopped the bathroom, ate a bite of supper, and returned to teaching.

And with Alter High School students in dress rehearsal for their upcoming production, I am done by 10:30 PM since my last students moved up.

The weather on the deck is just right. Before long I shall be bringing in the umbrellas and deck chairs. I do hate the thought of that.

On to the remainder of the evening of writing and continuing my wading through social media birthday greetings. I’m hoping I’ll be finished by Friday.

A delightful card from my bonus sister, Laura.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: It’s okay to be different

My Aunt Jenny posted this quote on her Facebook account and it has already been one of my favorites as it was how Mother raised me.

This is one thing (of many) I shall always be grateful for Mother: teaching, stressing, and encouraging me to not see the need nor desire to be, and especially, think like everyone else. She praised and cheered her nerdy little boy whose head was in music and history.

When a letter from Uncle Garry Jolliff (Aunt Jenny’s husband) would arrive, the huge World Book Encyclopedia Atlas was pulled off the bottom shelf and she would have me find Vietnam. If he should mention a location of R&R, the magnifying glass was lifted to search for the city or area; some of his areas were too remote to make the atlas cut.

Most of my friends had no clue where Vietnam and Cambodia were, let alone why we were (or shouldn’t have been) there, and the Gulf of Tonkin, etc.. Honestly, I do not believe I ever felt bothered by this isolation. Mother and the other adults in my life corralled around me with encouragement.

Mother was aware I was different in my thinking and interests and I am so glad she never threw any cold water on those interests or differences. I am glad I got to thank her, many times, for raising me how she felt I should be raised and not by convention and Dr. Spock.

And, what is more, she supported how I raised each of my sons on a very similar track based on their individual and unique needs.

Be yourself.

Be an individual.

Be curious (this was the biggy!) and search for the information and possible answers.

Find those untraveled paths and tramp down the grass in case others are also looking for a new avenue.

Make it a great day whether you are part of the flock, the lead bird in the chevron, or simply flying on your own.

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MY DAY: Monday is off and… sluggishly moving…

It rained a tiny bit in the early pre-dawn hours and has been spitting little spells of passing currents throughout the morning. Grey clouds hover over The Miami Valley and radar shows several heavy, extended bands of showers preparing to pass through.

My body is educating me in new designs that are altering my day. After speaking on Zoom with my England son each morning, I feed the dogs at 8:00 AM, open the back door, and fall back into bed until Noon, rising only for bathroom breaks. It’s not a restless sleep, either, but a deep solid sleep. In the recent past I have noted my body reacting to weather conditions, much like my sinuses before the rain and I am seeing that they tend to go hand in hand. Since last Wednesday when we had a front move through, followed by different weather pressures, the body has behaved with fatigue and sinus pressure and drainage. Teaching, going out to dine, and going to a band contest were fine and I found myself alert, but once the daily plate was cleaned, the body gave in.

While this and some of the other symptoms can be frustrating, I do find great interest and joy in being able to continually learn about my body and how it now operates in its new setting. I also realized this morning that if Mother was still with us, I would probably not find the freedom in sharing as much, if anything, as I have done. I am grateful my system’s collapse was after her passing as she would have been in fierce knots of unceasing worry and trying to investigate each written line in suspect of me hiding something from her. I do find it freeing that I am able to deal with MS and not weighing her with a mother’s concern as I would have been doubly concerned with its affects on her.

In my Google Alerts, the obituary of my former studio-mom’s grandfather appeared. It was a beautiful and tender expression of the good man who was a terrific example of being of service to others – something that is quite identified with his succession of generations. What stood out was the fact that he graduated from high school in 1945 and after joining the army, was stationed in post-war Japan. Can you imagine being a teenager, being sent half-way around the world to temporarily live in a country that your own country as just conquered in war? Oh, my brain swirls to imagine all that he witnessed and experienced.

It’s time to shower and prepare for teaching until 11:30 PM. Then, it’s one more day of teaching and four days. It’s already been a day of realization and inspiration. Now, onward with the day.

Photographs of post-war Japan.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Free of gravity

This is not my writing. This is from DailyOM.


We take flight mentally and experience new insights when we rise above our habitual ways of thinking.
As earthbound beings, humans have always had a fascination with winged creatures of all kinds. The idea of being able to spontaneously lift off from the earth and fly is so compelling to us that we invented airplanes and helicopters and myriad other flying machines in order to provide ourselves with the many gifts of being airborne. Flying high in the sky, we look down on the earth that is our home and see things from an entirely different perspective. We can see more, and we can see farther than we can when we’re on the ground. As if all this weren’t enough, the out-of-this-world feeling of freedom that comes with groundlessness inspires us to want to take flight again and again. 

Metaphorically, we take flight whenever we break free of the gravity that holds us to a particular way of thinking or feeling or being. We take flight mentally when we rise above our habitual ways of thinking about things and experience new insights. This is what it means to open our minds. Emotionally, we take flight when the strength of our passion exceeds the strength of our blockages; the floodgates open and we are free to feel fully. Spiritually we take flight when we locate that part of ourselves that is beyond the constraint of linear time and the world of form. It is in this place that we experience the essential boundlessness that defines the experience of flight. 

Taking flight is always about freeing ourselves from form, if only temporarily. When we literally fly, in a plane or on a hang glider, we free ourselves from the strength of gravity’s pull. As we open our minds and our hearts, we free ourselves from habitual patterns of thought and emotional blockages. As we remember our true nature, we free ourselves from identification with the temporary state of our physical forms. The more we stretch our wings, the clearer it becomes that taking flight is a state of grace that simply reminds us of who we really are. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Sitting with feelings

This is not my writing. This is from DailyOM.


Taking the time to sit with your feelings to acknowledge them, will save you much distress down the road.

It can take great courage to really sit with our feelings, allowing ourselves to surrender to their powerful energies. All too often we set our feelings aside, thinking we will deal with them later. If we don’t deal with them, we end up storing them in our minds and bodies and this is when anxiety and other health issues can arise. Denying what our bodies want to feel can lead to trouble now or down the line, which is why being in the thick of our feelings, no matter how scary it seems, is really the best thing we can do for ourselves. 

One of the reasons we tend to hide or push aside our feelings is that we live in a culture that has not traditionally supported emotional awareness. However, as the connection between mind and body — our emotions and our physical health — becomes clearer, awareness of the importance of feeling our feelings has grown. There are many books, classes, workshops and retreats that can help us on our way to emotional intelligence. We can also trust in our own ability to process what comes up when it comes up. If sadness arises, we can notice its presence and welcome it, noting where in our bodies we feel it, and allowing ourselves to express it through tears or a quiet turning inward. 

When we simply allow ourselves to fully feel our feelings as they come, we tend to let them go easily. This is all we are required to do; our feelings simply want to be felt. We often complicate the situation by applying mental energy in the form of analysis, when all we really need is to allow, as the earth allows the rain to fall upon it. As the rain falls, the earth responds in a multitude of ways, sometimes emptying out to form a great canyon, sometimes soaking it up to nourish an infinitude of plants. In the same way, the deeper purpose of our feelings is to transform the terrain of our inner world, sometimes creating space for more feelings to flow, sometimes providing sustenance for growth. All we need to do is allow the process by relaxing, opening, and receiving the bounty of our emotions. 
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Take action

This is not my writing. It is from DailyOM.

In order to make our dreams come true, we must take action rather than simply wishing for what we want.

There is a popular misconception that we might be able to just wish our dreams into being. Maybe on some other level of consciousness this is the case, but here on earth what we need to do is take action in our lives. Vision is an important companion to our efforts, but it can’t accomplish anything all by itself. When we focus on what we want and ask for what we want, we are initiating a conversation with the universe. Our desires, passionately defined and expressed, bring about valuable and relevant opportunities, which we then respond to by either taking or leaving them. 

Many of us are afraid to step out into the world and make things happen, and so we hang back, dreaming and waiting and watching. There are times in life when this is the right thing to do, but this phase of inaction must eventually give way to its opposite if we are to build our dreams into a reality. This can be really scary, and we may fail and struggle, but that’s okay because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Waiting for everything to be perfect before we act, or waiting for what we want to be handed to us, leaves us waiting forever. No one expects us to be perfect, so the best thing we can do for ourselves is to get out there and take action on our dreams. 

One of the hardest parts about having a vision is that when we test it in the laboratory of life, it often comes out looking completely different than what we had in mind or, worse, it doesn’t come out at all. If you read the life stories of people who have brought their dreams into reality, you will hear many stories about this experience. But you will also hear about hard work, taking action, perseverance, and, finally, the successful birthing of a dream.
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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Daily self care

This is not my writing. It is from DailyOM.

Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else, in order to say yes to yourself.

We have all heard the instructions of an airline attendant reminding us to put on our own oxygen mask before we help anyone else with theirs. This advice is often cited as a metaphor for self-care because it so accurately expresses why it is important. It seems to say, ironically, that if you can’t take care of yourself for yourself, do it for others. Few situations in our daily lives mimic the wake-up call of an airplane emergency, so it’s easy to keep putting self-care off — easy, that is, until we get sick, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and suddenly don’t have the energy to care for the people who count on us. That’s when we realize we haven’t been getting the oxygen we need to sustain ourselves. We begin to understand that taking care of ourselves is neither selfish nor indulgent; it’s just plain practical. 

Putting yourself first means that it may be necessary to say no to someone else in order to say yes to yourself. For many of us, there is always something we feel we could be doing for someone else, and it helps to remember the oxygen metaphor. You can even encourage yourself by saying “I am caring for myself so that I am better able to care for others” or some other mantra that will encourage you. It also helps to remember that self-care doesn’t have to be composed of massively time-consuming acts. In fact, the best prescription for taking care of yourself is probably small, daily rituals; for example, taking one half-hour for yourself at the beginning and end of the day to meditate, journal, or just be. You might also transform the occasional daily shower or bath into a half-hour self-pampering session. 

Whatever you decide, making some small gesture where you put yourself first every day will pay off in spades for you and the ones you love. The oxygen you need is all around you; sometimes you just need to be reminded to breathe. 

My watch even has a reminder to breathe every hour. It helps to re-engage my mind and body as one! Make it a great day!

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