Surrounding ourselves with those who enrich us

The older we get, the more important it is to have people around us who bring value to our lives rather than sap our life energy. We don’t always realize that in our earlier years as we try and find our way in the world and weed through the mass to find those who will ultimately be our life long friends. When we are younger we have the energy to deal with those that make our life more difficult rather than meaningful. However, as we age we start to weed the garden and hopefully wind up with those that make us laugh and feel loved.

We have all had those people in our lives who are takers rather than givers, They expect us to be there for them at a drop of the hat and support them even when they fail to support themselves. Yet, when the time comes that we need the same from them, they are nowhere to be found, until they need us again. While we don’t always know why we put up with them as long as we do, unfortunately it is often because we just need someone there and they know that.

If we truly look deep within our relationships, we can determine those that are nurturing our soul and those that are not. These are the people who support us, love us, need us equally and let us know what they mean to their life. The people who don’t possess these qualities quickly rise to the top of the pack. It is then our responsibility to weed the garden where necessary to ensure that we have the time available to spend with those who truly deserve it.

We are never guaranteed tomorrow and that makes it incredibly important to ensure that we are making the most of today. That means surrounding ourselves with those who not only enrich our lives, but allow us to enrich theirs in equally beneficial ways. Life is short and we owe it to ourselves to make it the best that it can be.

Don’t let guilt and anxiety rob you of your best life

In our lives, there is no one that can be harder on us than ourselves. We repeatedly beat ourselves up for past transgressions. We carry guilt for some wrong that we may have done years ago. We are constantly anxious about everything going on around us that may involve our home life, work or social situations. In doing this, we rob ourselves of the very moments that we should be enjoying the life that we have been given.

One of the programs that I just finished on my meditation app that I have been using is recognizing and letting go of stress rather than letting it control you. Life presents us so many opportunities to be stressed and anxious on a daily basis, which makes it even harder to escape from it when we carry guilt and anxiety from things that aren’t even a part of our life any longer. How we deal with that stress determines, not only what our moment is going to be like, but what the rest of the day, week or month is going to be like as well.

One of the things I have learned is that is it nearly impossible to rid your life of stress. The mere nature of our daily activities are going to present opportunities for stress to arise. However, when we recognize stress as an emotion, see it for what it is and then let it go, it starts to lose the power over us to control what our future thoughts are going to be like. The technique I have learned is to see it, recognize it and then bring the mind back into the body and let it go. Trust me, this is no easy task. However, with practice it is something that truly works in a remarkable way.

If you have ever read The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, there are four agreements that we should make with ourselves that have become a part of my every day life. I have these posted on the wall in my office:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do you best

Stress and anxiety are two emotions that have the greatest potential to derail the kind of life that we all strive to live. Both meditation and living by these agreements have had a profound effect on how I experience life on a daily basis. Not adhering to any one of these four opens up a world of opportunity for stress and anxiety to be a part of my every day life. If you can find a way to make these agreements a part of yours, it is then that you will provide yourself the opportunity to have nothing to be guilty for, or anything to be anxious about.

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

What is a rich life?

We all worry about money. Do we have enough, how can we get more, will there be enough to retire and the list goes on? In fact, the amount of money that one possesses is often used as the barometer for how valuable their life is. However, when you think about it, money is only a means of bartering and exchange that was created so long ago, way after life itself was created. It’s only value is that which we place on it and when it becomes the most valuable thing in our life, then somewhere along the line we missed the boat.

We know that we all need money to survive. It allows us to have shelter, sustenance, necessities and comfort. But at what point is enough, enough? Just how much do we need and at what lengths will we go to get it before we finally learn that is isn’t money that will bring us the rich life that we are looking for?

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money. My mom and dad both worked to ensure that my brother and I were provided for. We always had a roof over our head, clothes to wear and food in our stomach. We couldn’t afford designer things or extravagant events, but we always took vacations and always as a family. Whether we were on the road going to visit my aunt in Pennsylvania, camping out at the lake or simply at home together, we lived a life that was rich in togetherness, caring and love.

As a family we never needed to spend all our time wondering how to get more money, because we had what we needed to survive. Small things were big to us and we used our creativity and ingenuity to do with what we had to make our lives whole and complete. Sometimes, I think that not having the world laid at our feet was the very reason that my brother and I grew up with compassion and caring for those that were in need.

When money is the basis that we use to value our life, the chance that we will never have a full and complete life becomes even that much greater. Having money often creates the need to have even more and our whole life becomes about only doing things that ultimately meet that goal. When we realize that having a rich life actually has nothing to do with money at all, it is then that we have the best chance that we will live the life that we so richly deserve.

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

Different decisions, different life

When I saw this quote, it struck me just how true it is. Every minute of every day we are making decisions that determine where our life is going in those next minutes. Sometimes, we unfortunately make the same wrong decisions over and over, without realizing that a different decision could alter the very path from which we are trying to escape. Why do you think that is? My guess is it is most likely because, although that decision may be the wrong one, it is comfortable and familiar.

When I write about making the most of your life minutes, I mean it in the sense that every single minute of our life is an opportunity for something different. We only get the next minute once and the decisions that we make in that minute have the potential to have a profound impact on what the next minutes of our life are going to be like.

It is not always easy to make the right decisions. Sometimes we have faulty information on which to make our decision. Sometimes we have competing priorities that rush us to hurried decisions. Sometimes we make the decision that we know is wrong because we just don’t have an alternative at that particular moment.

At the end of the day we can only do our best and be impeccable with our word. We also need to be open to altering our decisions when we discover that those that we may have made were not the best. When we do that we have our best chance of living our best life and making it all that it can be.

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

Just 20 minutes

As we get older, our lives become more complex, complicated and sometimes downright difficult. As we strive to meet the needs of our families, our jobs and ultimately ourselves, squeezing in time to just take a break from it all becomes more and more difficult. When we fail to find that release, the stress within us continues to build over time like a pressure cooker. When it has no outlet, it tends to break free when we least expect it and sometimes in the most unpleasant of ways.

Being one of those people that was always a worrier and who worked in stressful jobs that required me to be on the road all the time, finding that outlet was very difficult. It seemed that I carried around the worries of the world, in addition to my own, and they just compounded upon each other, which often made life somewhat unpleasant. Recently, I decided that needed to change.

The mere thought of sitting down and doing nothing for twenty minutes wasn’t even something that was in the realm of possibility for me. I needed to be doing something every minute of every day or felt like my day was wasted. What I failed to realize was that taking those twenty minutes for just myself was something that was going to change my life for the better.

When a colleague at work introduced me to the Headspace app I loaded it on my phone with no intentions of ever putting it to use. Then one day I picked it up and decided I was going to give it a go. Initially, it was tough, mundane and honestly treacherous. My mind simply wanted to go to all the things that I should be doing rather than shutting down and taking a break. However, as I stuck with it something miraculous happened. My mind started accepting the fact that it needed a break and eventually started looking forward to the 20 minute gift that I was I was trying to give it.

Now, daily meditation has become routine for me and the stretch of time that I have consistently been doing it is extending further than I ever thought it would go. I find myself calmer, less stressed, enjoying life more and thankful for the gift that that 20 minutes has been giving me. There are many apps out there that help guide you on this journey. I hope that you find that one that allows you to give that gift of just 20 minutes to yourself 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.

Reunions are reminders

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my 40th (yikes), I did say my 40th high school reunion. It was great catching up with every one and seeing people that you usually only get to see every ten years. Hearing about families, the work each is doing and how far their lives have come was a validation of how far I have come since leaving Okeechobee all those years ago.

As I watched the Homecoming festivities unfold, I was reminded of how important those things were to us when we were that age and how unimportant they seemed now. We longed for spirit week, homecoming parades, band performances and all the activities of the time. They seemed the most important things in life. While in ways they prepared for what was to come, today being in the “in crowd” or being picked for a homecoming honor doesn’t seem that important in the grand scheme of life.

The one thing that was sobering about this reunion is how many people we have lost. In a class of just over 200, greater than 20 have already left us. People who made us laugh, cry and love have seen their time come to an end way too early in life. It was a big reminder of the importance of living every day, keeping in contact with those that you care about most and living your life for all it can be.

Reunions have a way of not only reminding you of who you are and where you came from, they are also a reminder of who you have become. The work that you did in those early years, that seemed so trivial at the time, set us all on the course for the people that we have become today. It is no longer we and they like it was in high school. It is now us as we have all made it to the this point of our lives at the same exact time.

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.

Why Seniors matter

When I was growing up as a child, I had a very unique childhood. While I did many of the things that others my age did as far as school and extracurricular activities go, a good portion of my free time was spent with my grandmother. Because she was so involved in visiting and taking care of seniors in our community, that meant that I too got to see first hand the importance of being involved with those that society often seems to forget.

When you have a compassion for the elderly population instilled in you early on, the need to take care of them and understand their struggles becomes inherent. Unfortunately, as we age the ability to get noticed and attended to decreases. The focus is on the young and the new infants entering into the world, while seniors tend to take a back seat to what is going on in life. Nowhere is that more evident than when you visit a nursing home.

My early visits to my grandmother were eye opening experiences. With each step down the hall, face after face had its own story to tell. From expressions of elation for having seen someone different from “the outside”, to faces of despair and loneliness that just made your heart hurt. I knew behind each of these faces was a history rich in knowledge and I wondered what it was that brought them to this moment in their lives?

I knew early on in my visits that there had to be something that could be done to ease the loneliness. What I didn’t realize was just how great the need was. Every package we send out in the mail reminds another senior that they are remembered and loved. However, with each package I am also reminded of all the ones that we can’t get to that are in need just as much. Maybe that is why I push so hard to increase our card deliveries year over year. I do it in hopes that if two out of 100 are getting that reminder on that day, when they are in despair the most, then that makes it all worth it.

It is odd to me that as a society we tend to spend the least money on schools and the elderly. The very areas that are preparing our younger generations to support those who have fulfilled their lives and the older generations that have paid their dues and deserve our support. It is almost as if they are too young to care and too old to care. We seem to forget that there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t go through all those stages, if we are fortunate to live a full life.

If you have a senior in your life that you have been meaning to reach out to, do it today. Remind them that they matter, that they are loved and that they are remembered. If you have a senior that you are in regular contact with, never let them forget what they mean to you. Someday it’s going to be our turn and we will wish the same for ourselves.

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

Greatness is all around us

Recently, I was thinking about what it means to be truly great. Not mediocre, but great in a way that other people recognize what you are doing simply by the contributions you are making through your actions, not just your words. Over time there have been many people that have been nothing more than who they are. The contributions they made were simply the course of business for them, not something that they strived to make grand or well known.

Then I thought about the definition of greatness and realized that there is no one way to define it. What may be great to you or me, may not be great in someone else’s eyes. Likewise, what they may consider to be great may not resonate with us. However, most people who have become what people perceive to be great over time all seem to have one quality. The very nature of what they accomplished was enough to make a mass of people stand up and recognize that their contribution was truly something worth noting.

I believe that the path to greatness starts with the seed of wanting to make a difference in the world. To do something that leaves the world a little better off than you found it. It is that innate desire to contribute in your own way, no matter how large or small, that ultimately when combined with other’s seeds produces something truly magical. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Bring Smiles to Seniors program.

Three of our volunteers are a shining example. From day one Renee took the seed of our home delivery program and turned it into something truly special. She has touched countless lives one person at a time and continues to build on that part of the program by adding others to her garden. Diane started with one community in Michigan and now provides cards to 33 communities across the state. She has transformed Michigan into an arm of Bring Smiles to Seniors that is unmatched. Liane took the initiative to grow her special mailings into supporting Meals on Wheels programs across the country. We now support 13 states as a result of her efforts. She is touching countless lives by making their meal delivery just a little more special. These three exemplify my definition of great.

Finally, our card angel card makers and decorators. Every time they put hand to paper, pick up a pair of scissors or a tube of glue, they are on the path to touching a life on the other end of that card. Someone they don’t even know will be reminded that they are remembered, cared for and loved. A person who needed that extra something that day to keep them going will get their wish because of those who just wanted to make a difference. That is the definition of great.

We all have the power within us to achieve greatness in our own way. We may think that we don’t have the skills or talent to do what others do, but we all possess something that allows us make or own unique contribution . When those contributions combine, it is then that true greatness is realized.

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

There are seven days in a week and someday ain’t one of them

Procrast

The quote in the title of this post came across the television screen over the weekend and I found it to be not only funny, but profound. In our lives there are so many things that we want to do, dreams that we want to fulfill and tasks that we want to complete….someday. The unfortunate thing is that someday often never comes. Things come up that take our attention away from that which we desire and as a result we wind up failing to live the full and abundant life that we planned for ourselves.

Every minute of every day is a gift that stares us right in the face. It is an opportunity for us to seize the time that we have been given and devote that time to making our lives what we want them them be. Recognizing that we are never assured that there is another minute waiting for us around the corner, means that we must take life by the reins and make it ours.

We all go through life with dreams and aspirations. What we want to be, goals that we want to achieve and experiences that we want to have. Yet, when it comes time to make them a realization, someday often becomes our mantra that we live by as we let competing priorities move that which we desire most to the side. In reality, we have the ultimate control over whether or not those things come to be. If we prioritize those things which are most important and fit them in with the diligence that they deserve, then we negate the risk of getting to the end and saying we wish we had or we wish we did.

In the past I have written about making the most of our life minutes. Sometimes that requires us to be selfish with our time and attention. However, doing so also makes us more productive happy people, with just that much more energy to help others with their quests as well.

If you have things in your life that you have wanted to accomplish, there is no better time than the present. This day is your gift to go make those things happen and put yourself on a path to a more fulfilled 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. 

Access the library while you can

By now everyone knows that the mission of the Bring Smiles to Seniors program is ensuring that those that paved the way for us are reminded that they are remembered and loved. The contributions that they have made to clearing the way for a better life for us must be celebrated and appreciated for the gift that they were. Interacting with them while we have them is so important. When they are gone our ability to extract knowledge and wisdom is gone with them.

Before my grandmother was in her late stages of dementia I had the opportunity to interact with her a lot. I asked her questions about family, events and other things that only she would know. I took notes, asked for pictures and got as much as I could before those memories began to fade for her. Even with that, I still think of things that I would like to know that I now can’t ask. Imagine how much more frustrating that would be if I had not asked any questions at all.

Seniors are the encyclopedias of our past. In those small brains are volumes of information that only they possess. If they haven’t transcribed those memories for us, then the only way for us to get them is to sit with them and ask. We need to take time out of our busy personal lives to be with them and read their mind books, which in turn makes them feel important and useful.

In my recent trip to England I got to visit my ancestral home of Rochester south of London. Because of my conversations with my grandmother and her contributions she made to our ancestral book, I was able to look for certain things and experience that place in a way that I would not have otherwise been able. As I walked the grounds of old castles and churches I felt the presence of my ancestors and at different points felt like I was home. Sitting with her and asking her questions was her gift to me that I would use later in life.

As seniors age, it is very easy to get so mired in our own lives that we don’t ever find the time to spend with them. We will get to it next week, or the next, or the next. Suddenly the next isn’t possible because they are no longer here. Once that happens, all the knowledge that we desire is gone with them and then we are left wishing we had.

If you have that someone that is the key to understanding your past, make a point to be with them this week. Extract that knowledge that you desire. In doing so you not only fulfill yourself, but give them purpose 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.

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