Removing the bricks

In a previous post, I wrote about finding yourself up against a brick wall, knowing that there is something on the other side that is going to make life better, but not being able to quite reach it. When that happens to me, that is when my mind goes into overdrive. I think very analytically and as I maneuver through a thought path, when I reach what seems to be a roadblock my mind makes a turn and tries to find another path forward. It is the way I am hardwired and it all starts with a plan.

As I look at the wall as a whole, I try and find the point where the wall would be most fortified. That becomes the last place I try. I then look for chips, cracks, or positions of weakness where I might be able to extract the first brick. When I find that spot I start to chip at it a little bit at a time. I may not be able to remove it at first try, but as I start to chip away at the mortar that holds it, eventually I pry it loose and the path to potentially solving my dilemma starts to become clearer.

Once I have successfully removed the first brick, I move on to the next and the next, until eventually I have created a hole that at least lets me see the other side, even if I may not be able to quite reach it yet. All the work that goes into creating that hole gives me strength and resilience to continue on the path to that which I desire. Eventually, the full path reveals itself and I am able to make my way to the other side of the wall with a sense of accomplishment.

The process does not happen over night. Along the way there are days that seem like the light peering through is never going to fully show itself. Yet, perseverance and dedication to the ultimate goal help drive the success that will ultimately come. Often, there may not be just one wall. It may require getting through several walls to get to the other side. When you do, what an awesome experience it is. Once you have experienced success, it is then necessary to reflect on what put the wall in front of you in the first place and how you keep that wall from presenting itself again.

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

Why perfection?

Many of us who have type A personalities will tell you that striving to be perfect in everything we do is exhausting. We see it in our personal lives, our work lives and even in our interactions within our social circles. When we fail to achieve perfection our immediate go to is a sense of failure because we have not achieved the level that we have desired. In reality, does anyone really care how perfect we are?

Part of the issue with perfection is there is no one definition. What may be perfect to one may be sub-par to another and vice versa. What that ultimately means is that we often put unneeded stress on ourselves trying to achieve what others may not perceive to be perfect in the first place. Why is it that we rely on the opinion of others to validate whether or not we have achieved our perfection goal, when our satisfaction with what we have accomplished is most often enough?

Unfortunately, many of us spend a good portion of our lives trying to please everyone else. We determine our value by the feedback from those we receive around us. If it isn’t good enough for them, then it can’t possibly be good enough for us. What we sometimes fail to realize is that the acknowledgement of perfection is often withheld by others simply because they haven’t realized their own perfection themselves.

I am currently reading a book called More Beautiful than Before by Steve Leder. In it he talks about a Canadian author Marshall McLuhan who often repeated the aphorism, “we don’t know who discovered the water, but it wasn’t the fish.” Leder goes on to explain what he meant, “we are so close to our own lives, so immersed in our own reality, that we actually have the least perspective on it.” Such is the case with perfection.

While striving for perfection may be hard, in actuality isn’t it rather simple? If we have given our all and done our best, haven’t we achieved perfection. My guess is that the flaws that we see are often rarely seen by most people. Why then punish ourselves for the flaws that don’t matter?

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

What’s on the other side of your wall?

Do you ever feel like your life is a little out of balance and there is something just on the other side of the wall that you can’t quite get to that will bring everything back together? In your mind you are sorting through what is out of whack, but the stress of trying to figure it out is often the very thing that is keeping that balance from coming to fruition. Ninety per cent of life is good, but there seems to be that last major hurdle that is standing in between an incomplete life and a fully complete one.

The normal course of life is to ebb and flow. We make mistakes along the way, hopefully learn from them and move on. Each of those moments becomes a stepping stone to the puzzle pieces that all come together to layout our life plan. Often we repeat the past mistakes and fail to learn the lesson that life is trying to teach us and it takes additional tries to finally overcome that which seems to be holding us back. We can reach the point where we believe we finally have it figured out and life deals us one more blow that we are forced to handle. It can be related to our trial, or something totally different.

Many of us have things in our lives that have helped shape the people that we have become. Some good, some bad and some that had such a profound impact that we find ourselves dealing with them all throughout life. Some things are dealt to us when we least expect it and we find ourselves facing a new challenge that we might have never imagined would come. It is at those moments that the life forces of those around us, surround us to help give us the strength that we need to make it through. The reality is that we do make it through. We discover an inner strength that we never knew we had and persevere despite the difficulty being thrown our way.

It is not uncommon to feel like what is on the other side of the wall is unreachable. However, when we start to chip away at those bricks one by one, eventually the light starts to come through and that which we need begins to reveal itself. It is not an overnight process, but if we find the courage and strength to see it through, the reward on the other side of the wall can be more than we ever imagined.

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

New Year, New Life?

Photo compliments of Pixabay

We find ourselves in a new decade at that time of year when we have the opportunity for a fresh start on everything. We make New Year’s resolutions. We say goodbye to the good and the bad that has happened in the previous year and decade. We pray for a brighter future, health and fortune to come our way and to just try and make life a little better than it was the last year. Why is is that often only do that on this particular day that falls on the calendar and at this particular time?

In some of my previous messages, I have written about making the most of our life minutes. The fact that every morning of our life presents us with a new opportunity to try new things, adjust past practices and do things to enhance this amazing life road that we are on. We don’t have to wait until January 1st to get a new start. We have the opportunity for that new start with every next minute that comes into our lives.

This year, as I watched the ball drop in New York City from my sofa, I marveled at how millions of people can come together in one place and for that one moment be happy, together and seemingly without a care in the world. Then as I perused the news, I saw the same thing over and over across the world as New Year’s Eve celebrations unfolded. I wondered to myself what it would be like if this were every day and people were making the most of their next life minute to make not only their lives better, but those around them as well.

There is something magical about a new year. Mentally we feel like we can wipe the slate clean and start all over again. However, when we make each day New Year’s Day, we have the opportunity to have the thrill and excitement of that moment every day of the year. We are going to make mistakes along the way. When we use those mistakes as stepping stones and learn from them, then the dawn of every new day is our opportunity to create the palette that we want our lives to be. Every day can be New Year’s Day.

Good to be back with you!

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

Are you feeling the rush?

It’s that time of year when everything seems to be converging together. The holiday rush, year end work responsibilities, social gatherings, and holiday get togethers all seem to consume every minute of every day. The “me time” that I often write about takes a back seat and in the rush to get everything done, some things just have to give. The problem is in figuring out just which things are going to get delayed so that you can get what needs to be done finished.

The holidays are my favorite time of year. However, every year for the last four years I have found myself negotiating contracts at my day job, sometimes right up to New Year’s Eve. Add to that the fact that it is also the business time of year for the Bring Smiles to Seniors program as we try and get all the holiday cards out. That often takes the sparkle out of the season and I have to stop and remind myself of what’s really important. I have to steal that extra minute for a dinner with friends, shopping, and pre-agreed to social engagements.

The one area where this year is different, is that I have managed to carve out that “me time” that I talk about. Those ten to fifteen minutes in a day where I focus on my meditation, remind myself of all the things that I am thankful for and block out the outside world. It is amazing what those few minutes can do for you when you truly focus on yourself and let the rest of the world go by. When I am done, I have this renewed energy to tackle everything that is left for the day and then start all over again the next.

Everyone could use just a few more minutes in the day to get what needs to be accomplished done. However, I would say 95% of the time the world isn’t going to come to end if there are things on our list that just don’t get finished. They make their way to the top of the priority list the next day.

So, if you are feeling anxiety or a little stressed that you can’t seem to just fit it all in, take a moment and stop. Steal a few minutes to sit and have a cup of coffee or tea. Read a few pages in your favorite magazine. Meditate, pray or just be with yourself. Let those moments belong to only you. Realize that all that needs to be accomplished can only be done when we are taking care of ourselves first and supplying ourselves with the energy we need to see it all through.

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

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.

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