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.

Growing the garden into something extraordinary

When I was growing up, I always knew that I wanted to do something extraordinary. Not for myself, but something that would make some small mark on the world that would leave it a little better off than I found it. I went through life believing that it would come some day, I just didn’t know when. Then three and a half years ago it was all made clear.

From the very first day that I walked into my grandmother’s room at her senior community, I knew my life was going to change. With the faces of loneliness and sadness that I saw, I knew that it had to. Grandma had already taught me that it was important to take care of our elders and ensure their well being. That experience prepared me for just how important that responsibility was.

Founding Bring Smiles to Seniors would not only change my life in ways that I would have never imagined, I would go on to learn that it would affect those participating in the program and those receiving the cards as well. It provided a place for people to find the purpose they had been looking for and those on the receiving end of the cards, the reminder that they matter that they needed. It created a community of people showing the best of what the world has to offer and and the power of harnessed compassion.

We all know that we are born into this world for a reason. Some of us are lucky to find out what it is early in life and others may never discover it. To do extraordinary things you have to believe, persevere and know that your mission in life is to discover that purpose. Life isn’t just about us, it is about what we can do together for the common good of all who are trying to navigate their life path.

The most important thing to remember is, although we may start amazing things, they don’t become extraordinary by our works alone. We can plant the seeds and continue to water them, but it is all those who participate in the care of that garden that you have built that contribute making it everything that is has the possibility to be. Each and every person who has been a part of the Bring Smiles journey is extraordinary in their own way. When my time is up, I won’t have to look back and say I wish I did, I will be able to say I know we did. Together we have built on my grandmother’s legacy one card, one smile at a time and we all get to smile in the process.

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.

Treat yourself and trade perfectionism for self kindness

Ever wonder why it is so much harder to be kind to ourselves than it is to be kind to others? The expectations and pressure that we expect ourselves to live under is sometimes overwhelming and unkind. Have I done enough? Is what have I done good enough? Why can’t I do more? So many times we expect ourselves to be perfect and sometimes forget that we are human just like everyone else.

When I was growing up I put high expectations on myself. I needed to have the best grades, do my best in competitive situations and always deliver at a level of excellence that often drove stress instead of satisfaction. When I was in the military there wasn’t room for error, you couldn’t make mistakes without consequences and perfection was not only expected, but demanded. As I move into later stages of life, all those pressures carried forward into my every day life.

In my career, I had to overachieve and in my extracurricular endeavors, everything had to be perfect. Eventually, it became necessary to sit down and have a conversation with myself and ask just who I was trying to please and why was it so necessary to be so perfect. What I realized was that all the expectations I had placed on myself, that I believed to be coming from others, was really coming from right within. No one was asking me to be more than I could be, or do more than I could do. It was me who was heaping those expectations of perfection upon myself and causing unneeded stress in the process.

While I have become better at setting self expectation, when you have lived with that for so many years it is a very hard pattern to break. Ultimately, your body and mind pay a price when expectations of yourself are so high when most people are happy with just mediocre. I will tell you that I will never be happy with just mediocre, but I also have come to realize that it can’t all be perfect. As I continue to work on that in my meditations, the stress that comes with that expectation starts to subside. I am learning to be kinder to myself and if you are struggling with a similar situation, I hope that you too are 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.

The art of appreciation

Think about the last time that someone did something for you and the feeling with which that left you. Now think about the last time you did something for someone and how good it made you feel. The act of appreciation releases a set of endorphins that just makes the body and mind feel good and is one of the most underrated forms of self fulfillment that we have.

Showing appreciation does not require large amounts of energy or money. A simple thank you, card or verbal acknowledgement is all that it takes. It lets the person that has gone out of their way to do something special know that they matter and that their act was well worth the effort.

In the Bring Smiles to Seniors program we send receipts for all donations that we receive, no matter how large or small. I sign each and every one of those receipts. At the bottom of the letter I always write a personal note to the sender to let them know how much their donation meant to us. It takes extra time and effort, but something that I feel is incredibly important to ensure that those who continue on our smile journey know that the time that they took to be a part of what we do matters.

Appreciation is our way of honoring those that honored us. It is an interaction that matters, is important and is necessary. It also provides validation for the person on the giving end that what they have done was meaningful. It provides encouragement for future acts of kindness and ensures a world where we all know what we do makes a difference.

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

Erase regret and life a fuller life

How many times in our lives have we said, “I wish I had done it differently”? We feel like we made the wrong choices or decisions and then spend a lifetime beating ourselves up for them. In reality, when we made those decisions, we did so with the best information that we had at the time. It may not have been the right information, or enough information to make the correct decision, but it is what we had to work with and that led us to the ultimate decision that was made.

Regret often seems to pop up in my life from time to time and I am learning the importance of recognizing it for the emotion that it is and then letting it go. I also try and focus on all the good things that resulted from the decision that I regret, which often negates the regret emotion itself. Let me explain.

One of the regrets that tends to raise its head from time to time, is the fact that I only served four years in the military and didn’t see it through to retirement. I entered the military when I was 18, which means that I could have retired at 38 with a life long pension and medical benefits. All well and good. Then I start to focus on all the things in my life that have been positive that would have never happened had I stayed on that particular course.

I have been fortunate to have jobs that have allowed me to have a lifestyle that I could have never experienced staying in the military. I have traveled the world and lived a comfortable life. I have amazing friends that I would have never met had I continued on that path. Most of all, I would have never met my spouse, the love of my life, had I continued down that road. When I focus on those things, then the regret that rears it head loses its power over me, subsides and is no longer valid.

It is easy to spend our lives in regret. We constantly focus on all the decisions we should have made, instead of focusing on all the good that has come from the decisions that we did make. Living our lives in the past and filling it with regret only keeps us from living the beautiful life that we have. Erasing the regret and replacing it with a focus on the positive, ensures that our life is meaningful and full.

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

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