Not just Thanksgiving, but every day

We find ourselves in the midst of another holiday season, where the world will go a little crazy (as if it isn’t crazy enough) and people will be be bustling about doing all the things we do over the next month or so. During this time I find it incredibly important to stop and focus on the blessings life has given me and all the reasons that I am thankful.

This year I get a double blessing, Thanksgiving and my birthday happen to fall on the same day. As I look back over the last 57 years, I marvel at the path my life has taken and how the good and the bad have brought me to this very point that I find myself today. I learned from my mistakes, made corrections on my life path when I needed to and continued to make mistakes that put me on new paths that opened new horizons. That is what life is all about.

This year I am thankful for my family, my health, my amazing friends and all those who surround me. I am especially thankful for my Bring Smiles to Seniors family which grows by the day. A network of caring people who believe that seniors still matter and that we have an obligation to ensure that they are reminded that they are remembered and loved. I am thankful that I continue to get to live in a free world that I fought for and that I have the opportunity to make life anything that I want it to be.

This year, I am especially thankful that those that I love (you know who you are) who have gone through trying times this year health wise, are in a much better place mentally and physically. I am thankful that you are all still here to do the amazing things that you continue to do to make this world even better than it already is.

As you spend time with family and friends today, focus on this day and not tomorrow. Revel in the moments that you have to spend with those that you love and then wake up tomorrow and continue this amazing journey that we call life. Be thankful for the little things, big things and the things that are yet to come. Do all the things that you can do to be the reason that you and all those around you smile.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ron

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

Opinions play a role….but not always

Recently, I was thinking about the role that opinions play in our lives. People ask our opinions as they are trying to work through issues. We seek input when we are trying to make something the best that it can be. When we can’t quite figure out how to get to an ultimate goal, we often ask others opinions to help us make final decisions. When used in constructive ways, they are helpful in guiding us along life’s path, as we make course corrections that are often necessary. I see this alive and well every day in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program, at work, in social environments and even at home. Then there are times when we have to question ourselves whether or not our opinion is really necessary.

There are those that feel that their unsolicited opinion is required on everything they encounter. Whether asked for or not, something within them causes them to need to “give their two cents” when it wasn’t solicited or warranted. They have no idea the history behind something that was done or the reason things are being portrayed a certain way. Nor do they take time to ask questions to try and understand better. They simply tell one exactly what they think should be done, simply because they feel that way. Their opinion wasn’t asked for or required. However, to fulfill some need within themselves, they felt they had to provide that opinion to make themselves feel better. Unfortunately, those opinions can result in consequences that affect far more than just they.

In ways we have become a society where it is in fashion to tear someone down rather than build them up. Instead of taking the time to ask the right questions and learn from each other, we simply provide our opinion, whether valid or not. There is a simple solution, an easy way to make an opinion matter. Simply ask if it is even wanted in the first place or present it simply as “food for thought”. It makes the receiver far more receptive to the opinion rather than simply stating an opinion and advising the receiver that the opinion should be implemented, even when we have no background knowledge.

One of my close friends is very good at this. She may say, “I have a different perspective that I would like to share with you if you are interested” or “I want to run something by you to see what you think”. That often sets a more comfortable playing field for the conversation that will ensue. When provided in the right way, opinions can be an important part of our life. They are often what makes us better, as they cause us to think in ways we may not have even considered. However, they should never be provided with the ultimate expectation that only the giver is right and that the person on the receiving end is going to follow your suggestion simply because you said so.

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

Taking care of ourselves often results in taking care of others

One of the great responsibilities of life is ensuring that we are taking care of ourselves, so that when the time comes that those in need require our assistance, we are in the position to help when we can. Sometimes, in fulfilling that responsibility, we have an effect on other people’s’ lives that we don’t even realize. In trying to be who we are, and in our attempt to be ourselves, something we do or say can have an impact that we may never become aware of. When we do, it helps provide validation for being the person that we are.

I was a quiet and shy child for the most part. I walked with my head down, kept to myself in my room and created a world around me that often didn’t involve many other people. I turned my room into a library, wrote, read and made my room my own little space. I wasn’t comfortable around new people and was definitely not comfortable moving outside my comfort zone. Change was difficult for me, so I tended to enjoy the mundane more than the adventure. When I went in the Air Fore that all changed.

In that move I suddenly found myself living in a different country at the age of 19. I didn’t live on base, I lived in a village above a shop and found myself immersed in the culture around me. It was that experience that moved me outside my comfort zone. I would go on to have jobs that required me to interact with new people all the time. I had no choice but to learn to raise my head and become a part of my surroundings. Slowly, change and adventure became part of the norm and as a part of that process, watching and understanding human behavior and the effect you can have on it became a part of my every day life.

We never truly know the impact our actions have on those around us. We can only hope that we are living a life that is true to who we are. In doing so, something we do or say along the way hopefully has an impact on those with whom we interact. When we learn that our attempts are successful, we have a validation that what we are doing is right with our soul.

Every day we have an opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life. Something we say, or something that we do that we may not even realize we are doing, may have an impact on someone we don’t know, or even someone who is familiar. When that happens we have the satisfaction of knowing that while we are doing our best to make our life path everything that it can be for ourselves, we are also doing that for someone else as well.

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

Follow the crowd or walk the unknown path

One of the beautiful things about the Bring Smiles to Seniors program is that I never have to walk alone. I am surrounded by volunteers, card angels, card decorators, schools, civic organizations, companies and passionate people that care about our seniors. We all have a common mission to ensure that seniors are reminded that they are not forgotten, loved and an important part of the fabric of our society. But that was not always the case.

As we go through life, we tend to move with the masses. If we aren’t leaders, then we simply follow and that often takes us in the same direction of everyone else. When we venture off the paths that we are most comfortable with, it is only then that we find ourselves in places that no one has ever been. It can be uncomfortable, frightening, lonely and at times down right stressful in the beginning. However, as it all starts to come together, and that definitely takes time, what eventually happens is you emerge from the norm and realize that you have truly created something special.

The beginning days of the Bring Smiles to Seniors program were lonely. We had no donors, no cards, no new senior communities to which we could deliver. We were attempting something that had probably been done in smaller ways in other places, but we were not settling for small, we wanted this to be something much bigger than that. Fortunately for me, I had Linda in the beginning, so I was not completely alone. However, we were alone in the sense that we had no guidance regarding what we were supposed to do and we had to just trust out instinct, faith and belief that what we were embarking on was bigger than the both of us.

Once we committed to the path and were all in, there was no stopping us. The cards, people, senior communities, civic groups, schools, program participants and just enough money to survive started to arrive from unexpected places. Word started to spread, the money we spent on advertising on social media paid off and here we find ourselves delivering to all 50 states and surpassing 125,000 cards in seniors hands since the program started.

All through life we are presented with choices. We can choose to either continue to move with the masses and live an ordinary yet sometimes fulfilled life. Or we can take a chance and go down that unknown path that often leads to something extraordinary. There is no question that I have far more enjoyed the latter and I wish the same for you.

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

Let their innocence shine and grow

(Image courtesy of Pixabay)

When cards come back from the schools and civic organizations, it is a true joy to read the heartfelt messages that children and students write. When we send cards to be decorated in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program, one of the things that I often get asked by instructors is what the instructor should tell the individual to write. My answer is always the same. I tell them to let them use their imagination and write whatever they want. Almost every time the message is exactly what it should be.

We are born into this world with an innocence that allows us to be who we are. When properly allowed to develop into the individual we are meant to be, we can turn into some pretty amazing people. We aren’t born with hate and prejudice. It is something that we unfortunately learn as we grow along life’s path. It isn’t innate, it is taught and absorbed from those around us. We don’t immediately know to exclude compassion for people who aren’t like us, we pick that up along the way. We don’t create a slate of discontent, we learn it.

When children and students are allowed to be who they are and show the compassion that is within them, what results is truly magical. They don’t have to dig far to find love for a fellow human being, as they haven’t fully experienced the divided world that we live in that shapes how they feel about those around them. Granted, schools are not safe havens that are utopian worlds, they have their issues. But what happens when students go home at night and are influenced by those they interact with, is often the catalyst for what eventually finds its way back into the school.

When we allow children to be who they are without judgement, coercion and pressure, we allow them to follow the life path that was meant for them. When we avoid trying to make our life theirs, often to realize some unfilled desire within ourselves, it is only then that we give them the best chance to be the true self that they were born to be.

One only has to read the cards that these children and students write to see that compassion is alive and well. We should nurture and support that compassion and help these future generations help heal the divided world that we all have to live in and face each and every day. That is why Connecting the Circle of Life is at the core of our mission in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program.

If you create it, they will come

One of the things that has been most nourishing for my soul in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program is the generosity and compassion that people from all over the world have shown to us. People giving of their time and talent to join our Bring Smiles journey to make as many seniors as possible smile and be reminded that they are loved , remembered and cared for.

A couple months ago one of our card angels suggested that we start a Facebook community within our main Facebook page where our card angels could come together to share their ideas, their work and their creative energy. At the time I wasn’t sure that I could add one more thing to my plate, but I have incredible volunteers and Renee, who manages our home delivery program, asked to be the group moderator. I gave it my full blessing and off it went.

One by one people started to join. We made it a private group, where we could have a safe community for our card angels to come together and be themselves with each other. Come together they did in a big way. In the short time the group has been in operation I have seen compassion, kindness, sharing and support for each other at it’s finest. It is a place where you can escape from the outside world and immerse yourself in creativity and the passion for what you do. It has become a place to be uplifted, encouraged, motivated and active.

What the group has shown is that when people come together for a common cause to do good things, magical things happen. Whey you provide a community where people are free to be themselves, devoid of all the distractions of the outside world, amazing things can be accomplished. The people who are part of this group show love and exemplify humanity at its finest.

A big thank you to Renee for the time and dedication she puts in to making this group what it has become. Thank you to each and every participant in the group for making it successful. I drop in from time to time to get inspired myself just by watching all of you and it makes my heart full. Most of all thank you for proving that if you create it, they will come.

If you follow our program, are a card artist and are willing to answer a few simple questions, you are welcome to be a part of this amazing group of card artists that we call card angels. Facebook.com/bringsmilestoseniors

On this Veteran’s Day

One of the great honors of my life was the time that I spent in the Air Force where I had the privilege to serve the country that I love. As a kid of 18, I had finished my first year of college, which didn’t go so well, and was at a point in my life where I had no idea where I was going to go next. All my high school life I thought college was the thing I was supposed to do, but once I got there, for some reason at that time it didn’t feel right. While later in life I would go on to get my BS and MBA, that particular time was not the right time and I found myself sitting at home pondering what was next on my life path.

One day, while out of town, I was walking by a Air Force recruiters office and walked in and asked what they could do for me. Before I knew it I was enlisted and within months was headed off to basic training in the Air Force. Many men had been in the service before me, so this felt like a natural course of action for me to take as my next step in life.

In September of 1981, I made my way to basic training at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas. From there I went to tech school in Wichita Falls. Upon completion of tech school I got orders to Adana, Turkey and eventually made my way to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. As a medical administrative specialist, for those four years I found my purpose and was in exactly the place that I was supposed to be.

I learned a lot while serving. Discipline, respect, compassion and love of country were all at the top of the list. I learned the importance of being an American, the passion for the people of our land and the reason that we worked tirelessly to defend the freedom that so many people before us fought for. I learned to understand the importance of patriotism and what it meant to be an American.

On this Veteran’s day I thank all those who served, all those still serving and most importantly all those who supported us as we served. Those of us who were a part of the fabric of the military understand the importance of duty, honor and country. Even though we may no longer be active in the branch that we were once a part, we are all American and continue to hold this country that we love in our hearts.

Are you 100% all in?

Do you ever have those days where you feel like there are things at work in the universe that are going to change your life and you just don’t know what they are? Many signs are appearing that your life is going to change for the better. You know it and believe it, you just can’t pinpoint exactly what it is. That has been me for the last couple of months.

They say if you continue to put your wants and desires out and truly believe that they will come to pass, the universe will find a way to deliver them to you. That is exactly what I have been doing and under the surface I can feel that something big is soon going to happen. My asks are private and simple and hopefully not selfish. But seeing them come to reality would benefit people far more than myself. Waiting requires patience and sometimes patience is the hardest emotion to reign in.

Throughout life we try and fail. We also desire and never receive. Then there are times where we want and that which we want actually becomes reality. What do you think may be the difference in these different outcomes? My belief is when there is a positive outcome it is because we were all in. We truly believed that which we desired was going to happen and we never let doubt get in the way. We meditate on it, we pray on it and we know if our intentions are right and we truly believe, when it is supposed to happen it does.

When there are times that we don’t see our desire come to fruition, I believe that happens for a couple of reasons. First, I believe that there is a potential unknown adverse effect that achieving our desire would ultimately have on us. We are being protected without our even knowing it. Second, I believe that the problem was that we were never all in. While we certainly had the desire, we were not 100% committed to seeing that desire come to fruition and were not willing to put in the effort to make it happen. To achieve success we have to eliminate any doubt that what we want will be achieved.

If you are striving to achieve something in your life, take a long look at your level of commitment and see if it is enough. Evaluate where you are allowing doubt to enter into the process and then work to eliminate it. Also evaluate the reasons for your ask. If you truly believe in your heart, you can see it and feel it, and you are not being protected from some adverse effect achieving your desire will have on you, then all things are possible.

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

Sharing your voice

One thing that has been my passion since an early age is writing. When I was a young student, I wrote poetry. Over the years I have written short stories. With the Bring Smiles to Seniors program, I started the Mornings with Ron blog about a year and a half ago. So, it is only natural that the next step be a way to share my inspirational words with a broader audience.

I am pleased to announce that we are in the process of turning the Mornings with Ron writings into a book. It will be a collection of all my morning messages written over the last year and a half, organized by themes and categories. If you wake up feeling a certain way, or are going through an experience where you just need a little motivation or inspiration, you will be able to have the book at your fingertips for reference. The book is structured as a morning conversation with me, as I share some of my life experiences to hopefully give you nuggets that you can use as you navigate your life path. Plus, a portion of the proceeds of the book will be donated to Bring Smiles to Seniors to help keep the program going.

It is going to take some months to get everything manuscript ready, but my goal is to have it released in the first half of 2020 if at all possible. It will be self published on Amazon in book and Kindle form for those who like to have a book in their hands or those who prefer to read in the digital form.

It is because of your support that I will achieve this life long goal and I think you for being by my side along the way. Here is hoping it will be a big success and I am so excited to take this next step.

Ron

Is your friendship garden healthy?

In some of my previous posts, I have written about weeding the garden. This involves insuring that you make time in your life for those who make time for you, rather than wasting it on those who no longer find you beneficial. For so many years I clung to relationships that sapped my life energy simply because I felt needed. Somehow, I let their constant desire for attention without reciprocation become a validation for my own existence. It was only when I discovered true friendship in its best form that I realized I was on the wrong path.

To some, weeding the garden may sound harsh. There are those that believe that we need to be there for everyone, at every moment, any time they need us. While we have an obligation to support each other as a part of this human race, I don’t believe that part of the that responsibility includes negating the care we deserve for our own well being in the process. In fact it can be detrimental as it robs us of the opportunity to spend time with those who truly want to be part of our lives in equal measure.

Breaking that habit and bond is difficult. We don’t want to hurt the other person’s feelings. We feel like we are all they have and if we leave they will have no one. In reality, our being the crutch could well be the very thing that keeps them from being able to establish their own healthy relationships. Their dependence on us and our willingness to be there at the drop of a hat, gives them no cause to learn what a truly mutual beneficial relationship is like.

This is a harder concept to understand in our early years while we are trying to find our way and establish our friend base. However, as we get older and life gets more complex and busy with our own responsibilities, we soon learn that it is hard enough to make time for our meaningful relationships. Robbing those that want an equal friendship with us by spending our time on those that don’t ultimately serves no purpose.

The older we get, the more life becomes about balance and ensuring that we are doing things that energize us and nurture our soul. Having a sound friend base is an important part of that. We know in our hearts who those people are that belong in our lives. If we don’t, all we have to do is look for their true colors and they will show us themselves.

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

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