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.

The influencing effect of special needs angels

This particular subject has been a subject of my writings in the past and is one of my favorite subjects to write about. The reason is that there is so much to learn about special needs kids and adults that can help us to be better people. Their lack of prejudice and innate desire to show compassion and love to all they meet, set a model for the lives that we should try to live ourselves.

Although we have come a long way, there is a portion of our population that disappointedly mocks those with special needs because of the need to make themselves feel better about their lackluster lives. If they took a moment to understand, get to know these individuals and make them a part of their lives, they would see that these angels are far better people than we could ever hope to be.

What is encouraging is all the good stories you see about those that are supporting special needs kids and adults. Clubs in schools that are focused on making the individuals feel included rather than excluded. Places of business like Bitty and Beaus Coffee shop who hire special needs individuals to staff their coffee shops. Stores that hire special needs individuals into positions that are well suited for them and in turn teach the patrons that come to their store valuable lessons.

While we have come so far, there is so much further to go. Until every special needs angel is accepted as a part of our society, equally with their fellow person, we will never be where we need to be. Being in the presence of a special needs kid or adult is one of life’s blessings. If we take the time to be with them, learn from them and understand them, we will learn lessons about how we should treat others that we can’t learn in a book. They will teach us unconditional love, provide us with laughter medicine that we could never get at a comedy show and allow us into their beautiful world without wanting anything in return.

While they themselves contribute to our lives, their caregivers are equally magical. The responsibility on the caregiver, be it mother, father or another member of the family, can be overwhelming. We can never truly know what they have to go through as the special needs individual’s life becomes theirs. What I do know is that their relationship is a beautiful thing to watch and provides another life lesson and model for the unconditional love that we should all strive to possess.

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

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What will your palette look like?

One of my favorite things about getting out of bed in the morning is that I get the chance to be a master artist. With my first foot on the floor I am starting a canvas that can be anything that I want it to be, as the minutes of my new day start. The choices of the past may have influenced how I got to this particular moment, but the choices I make from this minute forward will shape what my day, week and eventually my life will be come.

One of the things that I have been focusing on in my meditation is the importance of not letting the mistakes I have made and the choices that were not the best affect the choices that I will make going forward. Growing is learning and mistakes are a part of that process as we try our best to figure out this thing called life. Bad choices do not mean that we have a license to punish ourselves for the rest of our life. Good choices provide validation that we are on the right path and doing what is necessary to make our lives whole and fulfilled.

Equally important is not letting others step on that canvas that we are trying to create. It is not theirs, it is ours and their negativity and lack of support should not be used as a crutch for us to excuse ourselves from making it the most beautiful picture that it can be. While we can draw from the experience of our mistakes, dwelling on them and allowing them to be a primary color in our palette does us no justice.

As you work on your canvas today, take a good long look at your colors and decide what that picture is going to look like. Will your primary colors be blacks, grays and the darker colors of the palette? Or, will you choose those vibrant colors that will shape the life that you truly want and deserve.

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

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Reflection

If you have ever had the experience of visiting some of the great cathedrals of the world, then you know how moving they can be. They are grand, beautiful and in many cases have stood for centuries. As you look around the building and see the brick and glass and realize that most often they were built at a time where the technological capabilities of today where non existent, you gaze in awe of what has been created.

However, it isn’t only the building that makes you feel that you are in someplace special. Most cathedrals are so steeped in history that people from past generations are buried right within the walls. It is almost as if the past is connecting with the present as you sit and ponder all that is around you. Even as you sit amongst the vastness of the building itself, there is a sense that you are cocooned and enveloped by what is right inside your soul.

I have had the privilege of lighting a candle in many different cathedrals around the world. Every time I do I feel this sense of connection with the person that I am honoring and of that for which I am asking. Of course, this visit was in honor of my grandmother, who was with me in more ways this trip than I could have ever imagined.

This picture was taken at Rochester Cathedral in the town of my ancestors. As I sat in the building and looked around, I felt a sense of peace and calm. I felt a sense of approval and acknowledgement that my life path is taking me on the journey that I am meant to have. Most of all, I felt the love and compassion of those that had come before me and a sense of belonging in the world from which I came.

If you ever have the opportunity to experience your ancestral past, I highly recommend it. It helps give you a sense of purpose and belonging. If you happen to get to experience one of the grand cathedrals in the process, then that will be an added bonus!

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

There is good in every day

We all have those days where we get to the end of the day and look in the mirror and question why we ever got out of bed. The shear nature of what we have to deal with daily, in regards to the world around us, almost insures that not every day is going to be perfect. We may start out with the best intentions, but someone or something comes along that we allow to alter what may have otherwise been a perfect day.

The reality is that not every day will be good. But the beautiful thing is that there is good in every day. If you have ever read The Four Agreements, you have read about the mitote. That is everything that tends to clog our minds that keeps us from being true to who we are and living a happy and blissful life. The noise that keeps us from achieving our true potential. Although we are born with a clean slate, we unfortunately are poisoned by the fears of failure and lack of self worth that keep us from being the ultimate that we were born to be.

Every single day of our life contains some good, if we only look out for it and let it in. Even when the bad things come and want to take over, concentrating and focusing on the good can often over power the negative. The mere fact that we woke up in the morning and were granted another new day is proof in itself that the day contains good, even before it starts.

Everyone says that having a bad day is only human and maybe it is. But how much that bad experience affects the rest of the day and often our very lives lies totally within our control. No one can make us feel one way or another. Only we can give them the power to affect us. Once we take that power from them, we are the ones in the drivers seat of our lives.

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 beauty of diversity

For the past two weeks, I have had had the privilege of visiting London, Berlin and Amsterdam. As I traveled around these areas I was struck by the beauty and diversity that people bring to not only the culture, but the lifestyles of those that live in these areas. As I traveled and observed, I wondered what each of these places would have been like if there were only people from the local areas that were part of these cultures.

Think about it for a moment. If you enjoy an Indian meal, yet you had no Indian immigrants to bring their spices and recipes, how would that be possible? The same goes for Chinese, Vietnamese, African and others. What if everyone spoke the same language, looked the same and ate the same food? At what point would that become boring, mundane and leaving us wanting for something different?

While countries work hard to do everything in their power to close their borders to those that are different, we seem to forget that none of us were original settlers of our beautiful lands. Originally, we all came from somewhere far away, and arriving we brought new ways of life, new ways of thinking and a vast diversity that enhanced the place that we would occupy and call home.

This trip I got to visit my ancestral home of Rochester, England. While walking the grounds I imagined those that walked before me. I wondered what they experienced, how they lived and what ultimately brought them to the land that we call America? The ruined castles and homes no longer inhabitable gave me insight into how those that came before me lived before they discovered the new world.

One thing I realized more than anything else is that we are are all only as good as the sum of the parts that make up the fabric of who we are. The mixture of cultures stand at the forefront of what makes living all that more fun. Experiencing the world through other’s eyes and appreciating what they offer to our world is what makes life great, exciting and even grand.

One of my greatest passions is seeing different parts of the world. I have been doing that since my senior year of high school. Never once have I returned from a trip and not basked in the awe of what the many cultures of the world have to offer. Never once have I not appreciated the contributions they make to not only my world, but our world as a whole.

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

Words Matter

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Originally Posted May 2018

Yesterday, I was thinking about how people talk to each other. Sometimes, I just like to  observe conversations between people that I happen to be a part of and take in what is being said. This can be in work or social environments and the conversations I hear are often fascinating. It is an opportunity to learn new things, observe human behavior and see what drives people to say the things they sometimes say. Once in a while what I hear isn’t all that pleasant. That got me to thinking.

When we are taking the opportunity to say what is ever in our head, sometimes unfiltered, are we really taking the time to understand that the words we may be uttering may have unintended consequences on the person on the receiving end? Things we say that may make us feel better because we are “getting it off our chest” may very well be having a profound effect on the receiving person without us even realizing it. This is especially important for consideration when speaking to younger generations that are still learning the art of conversation and deriving meaning from what they are hearing. Here is an example.

When I was in high school I was in speech and debate. I decided that I wanted to enter the American Legion Oratorical contest. I spent hours with my grandmother practicing my speech over and over. There were two parts to the contest. I had to have a memorized speech (the hardest for me) and then they would draw a topic to also give an off the cuff extemporaneous speech on that topic. I loved public speaking and went on to win the local, district and regional contests. Then came the state competition. I practiced harder than I ever had and wound up placing second in the state.

They had a lunch for all the attendees after the competition and as we were sitting there waiting for our food we were approached by our local chapter president. I assumed he was coming up to congratulate me for placing second and representing our town well. Unfortunately, it was quite the opposite. I remember his words like they were yesterday. He said, “We were all really counting on you. It is too bad you let us all down”. I still get chills when I remember that moment. You see, I can remember that moment like it is happening today. However, I can’t remember any other moment through all my other competitions where people came up and congratulated me, even though there were many. Words matter.

How often is it that words come out of our mouth before our brain realizes what we had just said? Once they are uttered, we can’t take them back. Although they may often be taken out of context from what we really meant, once they have been said what ever impact they are going to have is already done.

While I believe we all have a responsibility to share, enlighten, teach and help people grow, we also have a responsibility to be caring, compassionate, loving and kind. Making others feel worse so that we can feel better serves no purpose in the long run and the impact we may be creating may be just the opposite of what we intend. In the end, it is what we say and how we say it. In the end, words matter.

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

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