Sometime we just need to unplug

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Originally posted October 2018

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night and can not go back to sleep because you just can’t shut your brain off? No matter how hard you try, every thought about everything that is going on in your life comes into your mind and you can’t seem to stop the flow of information. You wind up laying there tossing and turning and before you know it hours have gone by. That happened to me the last couple of nights and I began to wonder why that may be happening.

As we go throughout our day we are bombarded by information. At work it comes from all angles. Our computers, phones, meetings, memos, messages and just general conversation. Along with that we have all of our personal issues finding their way into what ever extra minute we may squeeze in during the day. Then at the end of the day when it’s all over new avenues of information start to flow.

We hear the news or the radio on the drive home and we get bombarded with even more information. We turn on the TV after we get home and the news stories, political ads, regular advertisements start to invade out thoughts. Our loved ones get home and we hear all about what was going on with their day while we tell them about ours. We pick up the newspaper that we may not have gotten to in the morning or check our personal or work email and the information keeps coming. When you consider all of that, it is no wonder why we can’t seem to make it through the night.

What I haven’t quite figured out at this point is how to shut it all off. How do you just stop and do nothing? Even with the “me time” I talk about it involves some activity and rarely involves completely shutting down. Even when I was painting my parents living room I couldn’t take a break. I kept going until it was all finished, no matter the hours. It is if there is some gene in us that keeps the drive going, unfortunately sometimes until we collapse.

I come by it honest. My grandmother and my uncle were exactly the same way. They would go until they were forced to quit. Most of the time that involved manual labor. Now that society has added all the technology we have today, it has become practically impossible to unplug at a time when we need to unplug most. We know the news is never good, yet we watch it. We know we need to stay away from work after hours but we still sign on to see if there are messages to be answered. We know we need to take some time for ourselves, yet we still live on our phones, texting, talking and searching.

I would venture to say that many of us experience these same issues and the answer is just to unplug. Put down the phones, step away from the TV, sit on the front porch, hang out by the water or even go for a swim. Easier said than done, but something beneficial for our health that we all need to think about. If you have any secrets, share them with us. In this world that never stops we could all use a little encouragement for some much needed down time.

A smile is so much more

They say that it takes far more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Research puts just how many muscles it takes all over the place, but try it for yourself and see just how many muscles you feel when you do either.

Every morning I meditate outside by my pool for 20 minutes. I started with ten and thought that was a lot, but when I bumped it up to 20 that now seems to go by way too fast. This past week I completed a course on happiness. You train your mind to experience periods of joy and contentment, so that when things are not going so well you can center yourself to that moment during the day. On one day of the exercise I wasn’t feeling particularly like meditating. During one point of the meditation, they actually tell you to smile and keep that smile on your face. While awkward at first, it released those negative feelings that I was experiencing and gave me a whole new tool to deal with those emotions when they arise.

Smiling is at the core of the Bring Smiles to Seniors program. That is the reason it is part of our name. The cards are designed to lift the spirits of those that often live in a mundane existence without any reminder that they are remembered or cared for. They are reminders that they matter, that they are loved and they still have purpose and meaning. We have seen first hand what the power of a card can do. People have spoken and moved when they had not been seen doing so for long periods of time. The people who receive them cherish them as if they were one of their important life possessions.

At the end of my posts and podcasts, I usually tell people to be the reason someone smiles. There is a reason for that. In doing so we not only bring joy to another fellow human being, we also bring joy to ourselves. The feeling we get when we have been successful in making someone feel good, wanted, needed and special is better than any medicine that we could ever take. The harmony that we create in the world by not only being kind to each other, but also to ourselves is the true connection of spirit and compassion.

Today, I hope that you have that opportunity to not only look in the mirror and smile at yourself, but also to share that smile with someone else. Find that one moment where you can impact someone else’s life in a way that you may have never imagined. Both you and they will reap the benefit of the kindness.

SPECIAL NOTE: I will be taking a two week break to relax and recharge before we go into the final months of the year. During this time I will be setting some of my original writings to post during this time. New posts will begin again the middle of September.

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

What the heart can make you do

The people that we have experienced through the Bring Smiles to Seniors program has become a model for a world where compassion, love and understanding for our seniors and fellow human beings abound. Time and time again we have seen those that give when they don’t have and give in abundance when they do. The sharing of their time, talent and love goes far beyond what anyone could ever imagine.

Many of you know from my previous postings that I love the game of Mah Jongg. I learned to play several years ago and little did I know that that world and my Bring Smiles to Seniors world would soon collide. The game consists of not only private home groups where people come together to play and become a part of each other’s lives in ways that could not ever have been imagined. In addition, there are tournament directors who run tournaments locally and around the country for those interested in friendly competition. Two of those with which I have become attached to are Destination Mah Jongg and Dragons on the Green.

At these tournaments, the tournament directors hold 50/50 raffles where entrants purchase tickets and at the end of the tournament a ticket is drawn and fifty percent of the money collected goes to the charity and fifty percent to the winning ticket holder. This gives the opportunity for smaller charities like ours, who do not have the benefit of national funding like the larger ones, to be able to receive donations to help keep us going. While Dragons on the Green and Destination Mah Jongg have made us their designated charity several times, it was in San Diego that something special happened.

The picture above is of Lorraine from New Jersey and myself. There were over 180 people at this tournament where many bought multiple tickets. After Lorraine purchased her ticket she came over to me to tell me that if she won she intended to donate her portion of the winnings back to our program. The drawing time came and the winning ticket was pulled and low and behold, Lorraine’s ticket was chosen. True to her word, Lorraine announced that her portion of the winnings were to be donated back to Bring Smiles. The amount was over $650. Now that may not sound like a lot, but it takes $7 – $9 for us to be able to send a package of our decorated cards to a senior community. Her generosity and giving spirit allowed us to be able to reach approximately seventy two more senior communities across the country.

When the human spirits come together to do good things amazing things happen. When people such as Lorraine put good out into the universe, as she did with the intention of doing good with her winnings, wonderful things happen. That amazing gesture cost her nothing except the purchase price of her ticket. Yet, the love and compassion that she put out into the world was priceless.

The small and even large things that we do have a way of multiplying when we do them. One small act encourages others to do the same and before you know it everything culminates to make significant contribution to this amazing world of ours. Today, I hope that you find your one small way to make a difference and have the opportunity to experience the heartbeat of what makes our world the best that it can be. Thank you to all the Mah Jongg players who have purchased tickets, to Lorraine for her generous compassion and to tournament directors, Fern, Bonnie, Judy and Cheryl for being part of our world.

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

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

We are all one big candle

How many times in our life have we come across those that seem to only make themselves feel better by making other people feel worse? Rather than put in the work and dedication to make their lives all that it can be, they elevate themselves by tearing down those around them. We see this over and over in the business world and unfortunately at times in our personal world as well.

On the outside, there are those that seem like everything in life is easy for them. They have everything, things simply come to them and they live a life that many only dream of. It isn’t because these people happen to just be lucky. It is because they have discovered the secret of living a happy and abundant life and that becomes their mantra as they move along life’s path. Alternatively, there are those that seem to live in mire no matter what they do. Yet, the one thing that they seem to be missing is the focus and work on their own lives, rather than what everyone else has. The only way they can elevate themselves internally is to blow out everyone else’s candle.

Our life path decisions are totally up to us. The beautiful thing about that path is that as we work to make our lives better and promote and support people in the process, the more our lives are enhanced. We are all connected in spirit and enhancing the spirit of one our fellow humans sets off a chain of events that enhances our own lives as well. Supporting each other in our endeavors, charities, adventures and life work further strengthens our own foundation which in turn gives us even greater strength to uplift others.

So many times in the corporate world I have seen people use others as stepping stones to get themselves to where they want to be. For a period of time they may seem successful and get to those elevated levels, but inevitably their demise eventually comes and usually by their own actions. Those who choose to climb the ladder and take others along with them on the journey, seem to be the ones that thrive the most and go on to be great leaders and do great things.

As you go through life, remember that it is important to celebrate ourselves, but equally important to celebrate others as well. While we may each have our own candle, they all culminate into one big universal candle that needs to shine just as bright as our individual ones.

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

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

Change your thoughts, change your life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are a gift to the world

AMzing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

We are not glass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dealing with an unfamiliar world

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

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

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

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

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

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

Card Angels are awesome angels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring Smiles to Seniors Journey Podcast

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

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