Change your thoughts, change your life

There comes a point in our lives where we decide that we have had enough. The swirl of negativity that surrounds us everyday takes such a toll, that we often wake up in the morning and decide that all we really want to do is go right back to bed. We look forward to going to bed at night because those few hours when we are resting gives us respite from all that we have to deal with during the day. Sometimes, that does not even work as our situations find their way into our dreams or we wake up in the middle of the night and can’t shut off our brains as we continue to think about all that is going on in our lives and the world.

Think about how much what is going on around us affects the very way we feel and live. We wake up in the morning and turn on the morning news. Are we bombarded with stories of good and pleasant things that are going on in the world? No, we listen to story after story of the horrible things that have happened the day before or during the time that we were asleep. We then leave for the stresses of our job and deal with clients and others who have a way of turning our days around, even if we went to work with the greatest of intentions of having a good day.

Finally, we come home and share our day with our significant others. Rather than tell them all the good things that happen to us, we expunge all the negative as we try and rid ourselves of those events in hopes of bringing a little more harmony to our body and mind. Then it is back to the evening news, more bad stories and then evening television that often heaps more conflict and emotional toil upon us. Typical days in the lives of many of us.

The amazing thing is that we have the power to change each and every one of those events. People or things can’t make us feel one way or another. We have the ultimate power to determine what our thoughts and reactions are going to be. Someone can’t make us sad, we choose to be sad. Another can’t make us angry, we choose to be angry. The unfortunate thing is that we repeatedly do it, often without even realizing it.

For years I made a half baked effort to introduce a little mediation into my life, with little success. However, recently I have reintroduced it with much more fervor using an app that a coworker shared with me. Now my routine is to get up, sit on the side of my bed and give thanks for another day and all that my life has given me. I read a little in my book, followed by 20 minutes of mediation outside by my pool. I then come inside and play my two favorite songs, “We built this City” by Starship and “December 63 (Oh What a Night)” by the Four Seasons. I have the sound at full blast while my cat looks at me like I have completely lost my mind. I then try and focus on the positive during the day and end my night giving thanks again for all that is good in my life.

I am learning that changing my thoughts, surroundings and controlling how I feel rather than letting others control it for me are having an impact. I feel less stressed, less tired and less emotional. I am in the beginning stages, but the initial effects are truly making me a believer that if we change our thoughts, we truly can change our lives.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.

Mornings with Ron is available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithrong or on iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.

We are a gift to the world

AMzing

When I started the Bring Smiles to Seniors program, I did it because I wanted to make a difference in the life of seniors. I had no idea that in the process I was going to be making a difference in the lives of those who chose to participate and become a part of our smile journey. People from all walks of life that were looking for a way to be a part of something, a way to give back and a way to make a difference in our world.

I believe that we are born with the gene of compassion. How we use and and develop it is a byproduct of how we grow and what we learn along our life path. Understanding and feeling for humanity either becomes ingrained in us, or we choose a path of focusing on ourselves rather than others. Not that focusing on ourselves isn’t necessary. We have a responsibility to take care of ourselves and make ourselves the best that we can be. However, including compassion for others in that endeavor helps to make us more rounded people as we see life as a hole rather than a piece of something.

One of the amazing things that I have noticed in the Bring Smiles program is people’s inability to understand and appreciate how truly special they are. Some are hard on themselves because they can’t do more. Some undermine their talents as they compare themselves to others. Some say they aren’t artists, when they produce some of the most beautiful work you have ever seen. Even I at times question whether my leadership is enough to make the program all that it can be. We often let those feelings of self doubt creep in and overtake the positive, when in reality what we are giving and producing is far more than many.

Our lives are meant to be celebrated not discouraged. We all have the ability to do something small that combined comes together to be something great. We have to believe in ourselves enough to know that we are worthy of accepting the good and strong enough to weather the bad. At the end of the day it is what we believe that matters, not what societal norms or others place on us. We should never let anyone determine our self worth as that is for us and us alone to measure.

Look in the mirror today and remind yourself that you are a gift to the world. Even if you haven’t discovered your purpose yet, there is a reason that you are here and eventually you will. The best gift you can give is to be kind to yourself, love yourself and know that you can be as amazing as you will allow yourself to be.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.

Mornings with Ron is available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron or in iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast or most podcast sites.

 

We are not glass

Last week I wrote about my utopian world. A world that we have the tools to realize, but fail to use those tools in the way that would make that world a reality. We are all born into this world with a clean slate. The person we become is molded by our experiences, influences and surroundings. We aren’t born with hate, prejudice, unkindness and lack of compassion. Those are all things that we learn as we maneuver through this thing we call life.

In all my social interactions from as far back as I can remember, there have always been people who happen to be a part of the “in crowd” and those that just seem to sit on the sideline because they don’t happen to have the particular qualities that the “in crowd” require to be a part of their group. There have been many times that I was not only one of those people, but failed to recognize others like me when I finally was accepted into a particular social group. When you are not the “it kid” and finally become part of a social group, you are so overjoyed that you forget to realize the place from which you came.

One would think this happens only in schools while you are growing up. The reality is that is happens throughout our lives. The next time you are in a group setting, take a look around. Look at all the people that everyone is talking to and gravitating towards and then look for those who are simply sitting alone. This whole phenomena is one of the very reasons that when we send our cards to senior communities we ensure that there is a card for every single resident of the facility.

Sometimes life is hard. Many of us are just doing what we can do to get through another day, while we work to deal with what life throws at us on a daily basis. Sometimes we just need that little dose of human compassion to get us through that difficult moment that we happen to be experiencing. When we choose to see through others rather than see them, we lose that opportunity for human compassion that brings enormous benefit to both parties. Whether we understand it or not, we all need a little compassion or love.

As you go about your lives this week, take a look around. Look for that person that is always on their own, never seems to be engaged in conversation and might look a little bit lonely. Make an effort not to see through them, but see them and engage them. There have been several school programs that have implemented groups that specifically look for kids like this to engage. The adult world could use a little more of that as well.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.

Mornings with Ron is available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron or on iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.

Dealing with an unfamiliar world

I think that one of the hardest things that a family ever has to go through is dealing with a loved one who is suffering from Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Moving from loving family member to a person who does not even recognize you is an arduous journey for both parties that is impossible to prepare for. You hear of others going through it and feel their anguish, but living it becomes a whole other experience that is very hard to describe unless you have gone through it yourself.

Looking back I suspect that my grandmother was developing dementia far earlier that any of us imagined. We saw uncharacteristic things that she started to do as just things that were happening because of her age. The reality was that some of those things were so uncharacteristic that they should have set off alarm bells, but didn’t. They say that hindsight is 20/20 and looking back and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, it now all makes sense.

One of the hardest things in dealing with dementia is when you are unfamiliar with how to deal with the person that is no longer familiar to you. We have this innate desire to want to be right and we feel the need to correct the things that they tell us that we know to be untrue. The reality is that only causes angst for us and them because in their minds the things are very real. The time period and reality in their mind is very valid as far as they are concerned, whether we believe it or not. It’s better to go with the flow and just agree, which ultimately causes less stress for both parties.

The hardest thing to deal with is when they no longer know you. This person that that has been a part of your life so many years suddenly looks in your eyes and fails to recognize the person in front of them. When my grandmother initially entered her senior community she knew all of us. However as time progressed, that memory faded and eventually I became an unknown. That is hard for the person on the receiving end. However, I found that all you have to do is look deep into their eyes and you feel their heart and know that although they may not know you in the physical sense, you are still dry much a part of their heart.

I found this checklist attached to be very valuable. If you are experiencing these terrible diseases for the first time, they are very useful. If you have a history with them already, they are an important reminder of the things that are necessary to maneuver thorough this world that still remains largely a mystery to all of us.

Mornings with Ron is available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron or on iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.

Card Angels are awesome angels

When I started the Bring Smiles to Seniors program, I wanted to make sure that seniors would be remembered and not forgotten. I wanted those that paved the way for us to know that they were loved and cared for. That was my single purpose. What wound up happening was so much more and definitely more than I ever expected.

I had no idea what the program was going to do for myself and the people that became a part of it. We created a community where we could experience the best that humanity has to offer. We have a community where compassion and caring is not only alive, it is vibrant and amazing. Through this program I have met some of the most generous people on the planet. Whether providing one card or thousands, I have connected with people who have the gene of giving that seems to be innate.

The messages and stories that you have shared with me are numerous and varied. Over and over you have told me that you were looking for a purpose and a way to add meaning to your already amazing lives and we provide you an outlet to do so. Your reasons for giving are also varied. Some of you use it as a way to give back, some do it to feel a part of something bigger and others do it simply because it is in your nature to do so. For over a year and a half now, every card that we have delivered to seniors across the country has come from you and we are so grateful.

In addition to sharing what this program has done for you, what you have done me is immeasurable. For so many years I searched for a way to fill that hole that was in my heart. I searched for my purpose for being, what my place was on this earth and simply searched for the answer to the question why I was here. Your messages, encouragement, support, love and kindness have answered all those questions for me. I know why God put me on this earth. Even though it took me 52 years to figure it out, I am one of the lucky ones. I learned it with plenty of time left do as much good as possible.

Every comment on our posts, shares and requests of others to participate in what we do serves as a validation for me that we have created something magical, wonderful and amazing. Because of all of you hundreds of thousands of seniors in all fifty states have been afforded the opportunity to smile. Your cards, sentiments and talents have renewed my faith in humanity. No one is luckier than I to have all of you in my life and to have you as a part of this amazing journey.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.

Mornings with Ron is now available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron or on iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify and most podcast sites.

Bring Smiles to Seniors Journey Podcast

Bring_Smiles_Final jpeg

Ever wondered how the Bring Smiles to Seniors program got started, what we accomplished over the last three years or how this program has expanded?  Hear the Bring Smiles to Seniors story on this special podcast episode in Ron’s own words.  You can listen at anchor.fm/morningswithron or on iHeartRadio, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.  The podcast is titled Mornings with Ron.

Imagine with me for a moment…….

It is pretty hard not to watch television these days and see that we live in a very different world than past generations. The parallels of past historical events are scary to the old and young alike, as we navigate a new world that is familiar to some and very unfamiliar to others. Think what it would be like if we lived in a world where love spread as quickly as hate and negativity.

Imagine with me for a moment that we lived in a world where wars where not a possibility. A world where the lust for power and greed is replaced by an innate desire to spread good and benefit for all those who populate our planet. A world where we see no color, race, gender, socioeconomic status or age. A place where each and every human has equal value and treat each other with mutual respect.

Let’s go a little further. Let’s imagine a world without poverty, famine, homelessness and plight. In this world, money is not used to garner more money, but rather to benefit mankind as a whole. The “have nots” no longer exist. Everyone has sustenance, security and the necessities to live a satisfying life.

Finally, lets imagine a world where love spreads across social media, news and the world as fast as hate and negativity does today. Where every story that we hear on the evening news isn’t about something bad that someone has done to someone else, but rather the goodness that continues to expand. A world where love for people and planet is of equal measure and we exist as a society and universe that promotes a sustainable future for everyone.

I am sure many of you have reached the point in this post where you just might think that I have lost my mind and that none of these things are possible. You believe that I am simply describing a utopian world that will never exist. The reality is that you may be right. However, the unfortunate thing is that everything exists today to make that world a reality, except the the desire and willingness to do so. Perhaps when we have finished destroying ourselves, a new society will emerge that learns how to use the tools available to make that world real. For now, we can all do our part to create just a little bit of that utopian world, if we are willing to put in the effort to do so.

For now, I will dream that that world is possible. If not in this lifetime, perhaps in future generations. I hope you will join me in making your little part of that utopian world a reality. Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.

Mornings with Ron is now available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron or on iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.

They remind us when we need them

We have all lost people in our lives that we loved and were close to. Some were such an ingrained part of our lives that even though they are gone, they always find a way to be there in one way or another. Such is the case with my grandmother, who was my inspiration for the Bring Smiles to Seniors program.

You have probably read some of my previous posts about her. She was a strong, often strict, amazing women that raised three children on her own during some very difficult times. A woman fighting for her children’s survival at the time that women were not supposed to be alone has a way of shaping you into a woman that can do just about anything. That was certainly the case with her.

When she passed three years ago this month, I not only lost my grandmother, I lost my friend, confidant and someone who always wanted me to be the best that I could possibly be. Granted she pushed me hard, but she did it because she wanted me to have the best life that I could possibly have and there was not anything that she would not do to ensure that her desire became a reality. I believe that one of the greatest gifts that she ever gave me, was the gift of compassion.

Growing up I spent most of my time with her. We often visited the sick, elderly, lonely and people in need. I would do my homework as she visited, yet I would hear the conversations of compassion, caring and learned the importance of being there for other people. I heard fascinating stories and developed an understanding of the need to ensure that those that paved the way for us were remembered and not forgotten. It became so ingrained in me at an early age that it was inevitable that I would go on to create the Bring Smiles to Seniors program.

At the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing, she is not really gone. She has found her own special way of showing that she is with me every day. The cardinal was her favorite bird and red her favorite color. A cardinal appears every time I need it most. I was the first grandchild. Repeating 1’s show up on a clock or a sign when I am thinking of her and need her touch. While finished in body, she is never truly gone and she takes every opportunity to let me know it.

If you are missing that person that was an important part of your life, I hope that they are finding their way to you as well. They may leave our presence, but they never leave our heart. Just when you least expect it they find their own special way to let you know that they are never far away.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.

Mornings with Ron is available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron or in iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.

Balancing helping with simply being there

As we travel through our life, we make plans, set our courses and expect things to follow the path we laid out with simple adjustments along the way. For the most part, things go along smoothly. Then, suddenly out of the blue, we are dealt a hand that we had no way of expecting. We do our best to do what we can to understand why, while starting the process to research, ask questions and do all the things that we are supposed to do to make sense of that which we have been handed.

Cancer is one example of those events. Whether it be a diagnosis that we receive ourselves, or by someone close to us, it is important to always remember that everyone has their own way of coping with their individual situation. Our first instinct is to be as invasive as we can, because we want the other person to know that we are there for them, while at the same time just wanting to make it go away. What we often fail to realize is that there is a need to balance support with letting the person experience their own journey, as they deal with their own issue internally. I have experienced this with my dad and friends with cancer diagnoses.

Our intentions are always good, but the reality is that cancer is personal and an individual journey for the person going through it. It is not the same for all people. How we deal with our journey in regards to unexpected life events may not be the same way that the person that we love needs to deal with theirs. We are different people, with different personalities and how we cope is sometimes outside the realm of other’s understanding. How individuals live their personal journey is theirs and there is no right or wrong way. Our responsibility is to find the balance of being supportive and loving, without being intrusive or over instructive.

One my my good friends, that recently experienced one of these life events, had an interesting conversation with me recently. I relayed a story in one of my posts about how I was with my dad at one of his transfusions and noted people in the room waiting for their infusions alone without anyone there. While my mom and I were there to support my dad, I felt sorry for those who had no one with them. What I failed to realize was that some people need to do things on their own as they move along their personal journey. It made good sense. While people do need us and want us to be supportive, there are times that they just need to go through things on their own as they try to figure out what life has dealt them and how they move on.

Those of us on the supporting end have a responsibility to find that balance between support and intrusion. We need to be there when they need us and step back when they need themselves more. It is important for us to understand it has nothing to do with us, it is just their way of dealing with the card that life has handed them.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.

Mornings with Ron is available at anchor.fm/morningswithron or on iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.

Showing us what humanity should look like

This past week I had the privilege of spending a couple of days with two of my favorite people, my niece Courtney and her mom Debbie. Every time I am around Courtney I am reminded of what we should all be, humans without preconceived notions and endless love and compassion. Humans who know no color or prejudices and simply see people for who they are, not for how they are taught to see them.

If you have never experienced a child with Down’s Syndrome, then you are missing out. They have this way of bringing out the best in us and anyone that they come in contact with. They elicit smiles, laughs and heartfelt love from people they know and even those that they don’t. Being in their presence is something magical as you get an opportunity to experience what it is like to see a human being at their finest, as we we were all meant to be.

I have written on this subject before. Every time I get another opportunity to be around Courtney, or my cousin Clifford or my in-law Lauren, I feel compelled to share again. I always learn something new, heartwarming and beautiful from being in their presence. If you are with them long enough it becomes more and more difficult to see them with a disability, but rather a person with a special gift that they are eager to share with the world.

When you receive a hug from a person with Down’s, it isn’t one of those casual pats on the back or fake hug pats that you get from most individuals. You get an embrace that makes you feel like you are someone special. That unexpected kiss that comes on top of your head, or that arm around the shoulders that comes out of the blue that reminds you how much they love you is the best of the human spirit. They don’t love with preconceived notions, they love with a full heart.

The beautiful thing about Down’s Syndrome individuals is that they have this innate ability to show us the best of what humanity was meant to be. They don’t have the capacity to discriminate. They don’t understand the ills of life that we all have to face every day. They don’t see race, color, gender or nationality. They simply see a person for who they are and show them all the same love equally. We could all learn from that if only we would observe and learn.

So, this morning I say here’s to you Miss Courtney. Thank you for allowing me to be part of your life and be in your presence. Thank you for showing me unconditional love and compassion. Most of all, thank you making our lives just a little more special.

Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.

Mornings With Ron is available as a podcast at anchor.fm/morningswithron.com or in iHeartRadio, Apple or Google Podcast, Spotify or most podcast sites.

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