Written April 27, 2018
Last night I was doing my “Thankful Thursday” where I pick something that I am thankful for and focus on it. This time it was specifically about my parents, grandmother and brother. I would imagine that any parent has their children, schools them in the way of life, remains there for support throughout their life and hope that they have done their best to set them on a path to being the best that they can be. Well, most parents, we know some children that aren’t that fortunate.
My parents and grandmother both worked when we were children. They had to so they could survive and provide. I can’t count the times they went without so that my brother and I could have. My mom made her clothes so that my brother and I could have store bought ones. My dad labored at the country road department. My grandmother worked in the boy’s school warehouse and helped when she could. All of this to ensure that my brother and I had the kind of childhood that my parents wanted for us.
We were taught right from wrong early on. We lived in the south so we always…always… used “yes mam and yes sir” as a reply. We were allowed to participate in school and civic activities as much as we wanted. We were at church Wednesday night, Sunday morning and Sunday evening. Through it all we were allowed to be who we were, and were never made to be what we weren’t.
The best gift our parents and grandmother gave us though was our compassion for others and the need and desire to give back. They instilled in us a sense of selflessness that would carry through our entire lives. Little did they know that they set us both on a path to amazing things just by being the parents and grandparent they were supposed to be.
While I went on to found Bring Smiles to Seniors, through his Plein Air Painting my brother has now founded a program that works with military veterans with PTSD. He is working to get commercial support for his program to help these men and women who have fought for our freedom deal with their PTSD through painting. I continue my work to ensure that even more seniors continue to smile every day.
As children, there are many paths we can take. Some great, some not so good. When you are fortunate enough to have the love and support of a family like ours, taking the right path is easy. Sometimes that is all children need. To be there, provide the moral guidance, let them be who they are and give them the tools and foundations to build the life you hope for them. I am grateful for and thank mom (Alice), dad (Kenneth) and Grandma Lola for making that path for us as my brother and both work to leave the world a little better off than we found it.
Could your child or grandchild be looking to do the same? Sometimes it takes just that one thing to set them on the right path. I have seen it over and over again in this program. Grandparents and parents have reconnected working on cards together, or facilitating school programs. I have seen the work done to create a path and the results you have shared with me have been amazing. That my friends is what #connectingthecircleoflife is all about.
With that, have a wonderful weekend, see you on Monday and don’t forget to be the reason someone smiles today.
Written April 30, 2018
For those of us in Florida the spring weather continued to be unseasonably cool with no humidity and we are enjoying that for as long as it will last, which unfortunately won’t be much longer. Hope you got to spend time with friends or family and most importantly a little time with yourself.
I was talking with my friend Linda over the weekend and we got on the subject of doing things. How many times do we say we are going to do something and we just never get around to doing it? We talk about it, incessantly sometimes, yet we never really make the commitment to make it happen and before you know it days, months and even years go by.
It can be just about anything. We are going to lose a few pounds, start an exercise routine, take up a hobby, garden more, use electronics less, and the list goes on. When we look back, it is easy to see countless hours spent saying “I’m going to” rather than many times where we said “I did”. Why is that?
My philosophy is that it’s much easier to talk about it rather than do it. As annoying as that is to not only ourselves but those around us, it seems that saying it becomes the norm rather than doing it. But what happens when we actually do make the commitment and follow through?
Several years ago, I started walking with Linda in the mornings. She lives in the same development as I do. I had several reasons for wanting to do this. I needed to lose some weight, I needed to find a way to prepare for a stressful day at work and I really had a desire to run. But how in the world was I going to start running at 54? I made the commitment to walk. Once I got comfortable with that I started adding intermittent jogging and running. I got an app that trained you for a 5k by building up your running each day. I started this in August and in February of 2017 I ran my first 5k race. You see, I had had enough of saying “I’m going to” and the feeling of running past my family and friends on that road was one of the best feelings of my life.
No one in the world has the power to make us commit to doing something except ourselves. In reality, if we spent as much time actually doing as we did talking about it, we would have achieved success a long time ago. But to do that it takes true commitment. We have to believe in ourselves, believe in what we want to do and accomplish and never give self doubt a chance to change our course.
Is there something you have been wanting to do for a long time? Think about doing it today. Start slow, we don’t need to take on the world all at once. Then, when you least expect it you too will be crossing the finish like and you will have made your life just a little more special, with memories that you created just for you, that no one can ever take away.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles today.
Written May 1, 2018
Wishing you a happy day every morning got me to thinking about happiness. Now, unfortunately I can’t define happiness for you because it can be different things to different people. However, the dictionary will tell you that happiness is defined as “the state of being happy”. Well that’s a big help. Generally, it is just a mental or emotional state of well-being that is characterized by pleasant emotions. So much for the text book definitions, but when you get right down to it, what is it really?
Many people go through their lives trying to capture a perpetual state of happiness. You often hear, “all I want is to be happy”, followed by an expectation that happiness is supposed to rain down upon them 24 hours a day. That expectation itself could be the very reason that they never achieve even a brief state of happiness. They have placed so much pressure on themselves in their fight to achieve happiness that the pressure prevents the very thing they are searching for.
The reality is that 24 hour happiness isn’t realistic when we have to deal with what life throws out to us every day. However, the more we find things that put us in those state’s of well-being that cause pleasant emotions, the more we can move the unpleasant emotions to the back seat. Sometimes it is as simple as sitting down and making a list of all the things that truly make you happy and then focusing on doing more of those things. Once you have filled your life with happy pleasant things, there isn’t as much room for unhappiness to come in. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Putting it into play in real life takes work, but we are rewarded with a greater sense of happiness for having done it.
If you ask me what makes me happy in my life I could easily rattle off my list to you. I’m happiest when:
*I’m with my family savoring every moment of life with them
*I’m trying a new restaurant with friends and sitting around the table having good stimulating conversation
*I’m traveling around the world learning about new cultures and new history
*I’m sitting at a table playing Mah Jongg with friends and enjoying all the camaraderie that comes with that.
*I’m taking care of and watering my plants around the pool and watching all the new sprouts coming up in the spring.
*Prepping cards for delivery to senior communities that I know are going to result in many, many smiles.
…and the list goes on.
Focusing on what makes us happy no matter what it is, and less on what doesn’t, automatically makes us happier people. It’s often not about what we want, but taking the time to enjoy what we already have. Today, I hope you make your list and find the things that rise to the top. Do them more and put yourself on that journey to a happier you. There is always room for more happiness and it’s often contagious, an extra side benefit that we could all use.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles…….and find your happy place.
Apologies in advance, but for today only you will see multiple emails in your inbox. We are in the process of transferring over the previous inspirational posts from our old blog so they will all be in one place. Going forward you will receive only the current daily posts.
Yesterday, I was thinking about how people talk to each other. Sometimes, I like to just 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 who 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. I 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. But 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!
Yesterday, when I was visiting my mom over the weekend, I got to go to church with her and hear the new pastor’s sermon. This particular day it was about love and whether we actually put the work into making love meaningful or if it just a word that we routinely use. This got me thinking.
We use the word love often throughout our day. There are many things that we can say that we love: Children, family, food, travel and a myriad of other things. But when the words “I Love You” come across our lips, do we really mean what we say? It is very easy to say the words. Anyone can say them. However, putting the work into what is required to make those words meaningful is the key to making them real.
Generally, it is pretty easy to tell when someone is saying “I love you” just because it is what they feel they are supposed to do. It’s a requirement of a relationship. It’s a response to something that has been said. It is even a way to get themselves out of a situation that should have never happened in the first place. But to truly believe that the words are real requires actions that go far beyond the mere utterance of the words.
Loving involves caring, compassion, understanding, compromise and dedication. It is almost as if you never have to utter the words for someone to understand that the love is real. However, saying the words provides a nice validation that what we think is real is backed up by something that we are able actually to acknowledge by saying it.
One of the greatest gifts of life is the ability to love and even more so the ability to be loved. If we are used to bad relationships, it isn’t that easy once you find true love to just let that love in. You have to respect it, believe it and then let it into your heart. When we are able to do that, it is a beautiful thing. When we are able to say I love you and the person on the receiving end has no doubt because of our actions, that is the most beautiful thing of all.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.
I have had the pleasure of spending this weekend with my mom and dad to celebrate Mother’s Day a little early since I will be out of town next weekend. I got to spend quality time with them that brought a reminder to light that also showed itself a couple weeks ago.
When we were preparing for our trip to North Carolina for my dad’s 80th birthday with all the family, my mom called and asked me if I had my grandmother’s baked bean recipe as she could not find hers. I searched, but it appeared that I did not have it as well. Knowing that we lost grandma a couple of years ago, I suddenly realized that if neither of us could find it, it was lost forever as she was no longer there for us to ask.
This weekend, mom, dad and I got into a similar conversation and were talking about the fact that as we are now older, many of the people that we would like to ask things about regarding our family are now gone. With them goes the memories and a lot of the family history that we could no longer find. In many cases, they don’t even have to be gone. They could be still alive and suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or other ailments that rob them of their memories.
While the subject may not be very uplifting, the beautiful part is that for those that are lucky enough to have family members still around to answer our questions, there is still the opportunity to learn what we want to know. The question is whether or not we take the time to actually sit down with them and ask?
Think about some of your recent family visits. Are they spent exchanging the normal pleasantries and then you just do what you need to do to get through it so you can move on and go on about your own life. Or, do you take the time to actually sit down and have a conversation and learn all there is to know about them, your history and their lives before you no longer have the opportunity to do that. In doing that yesterday, I learned things I never even knew, which was wonderful.
For many, things have happened within their family circles that have estranged them from the ones that they were once close to. Often, there is good reason why those chasm’s have been created. However, at some point we have to ask ourselves if it is worth the risk of waiting and taking the chance that they will no longer be there to repair what we might not think repairable. We can only do that when it is right for us and we know it in our heart. But sometimes changes in circumstances, being out of bad situations and time allow healing that gives us the strength to make that move before we no longer have the opportunity.
Do you have a little family history that you want you want to know? It is often only a phone call or a visit away. Make the effort to have the conversation and remember to ask. Sometimes you will learn things that you never even knew that can be used to enrich your own lives. I am thankful that I still have that opportunity and plan to ask all the questions I can, while I can.
Have a great Sunday and remember to be the reason someone smiles.
Good morning. I don’t usually write on the weekends, but consider this a special edition of my daily inspirational posts. I just felt like writing this morning so here goes.
Have you ever been up at the time of morning when the dark blue of the night sky is starting to change to the beautiful orange and purple as the sun starts to come up over the horizon? All that was still during the night starts to come alive as a new day is beginning. The horizon takes on a magical air and the excitement of a New Day starts to stir. If you are out an about, the cars become greater in volume, the houses start to light up with their morning routines, the streetlights start to pop on and suddenly a new world of opportunity emerges.
The beginning of a day is always exciting for me. The main reason is that we wake up with a clean slate and an opportunity to craft for ourselves a day that can be anything we want it to be. Whether we have pre-made plans or we decide to just be spontaneous, every minute of those hours that we will be awake are alive with the potential to be something great.
As I was sitting on the train yesterday, for a brief period I was just looking at my watch. As the second hand continued to move around, it suddenly dawned on me that every minute that passed by was a minute that I was never going to get back again and I realized how incredibly important it was to make every minute matter. That’s not saying that we don’t need our downtime and rest. I could definitely use more of that. But I think what I was feeling was the importance of making the most of the minutes where I am active and to be aware of and honor them in a way that makes life more meaningful and good.
My favorite part of the morning is to get up, grab my cup of coffee and sit down and write my inspirational post for all of you. It is a reminder of the work I have done to make my life what I want it to be. It is also a reminder of the work I do to hopefully provide you with a nugget here and there that you can uses to enrich yours a little more.
A new day is a gift. Although it sometimes starts to go astray the minute we get up, we have the power within us to alter that course and make it our own. No one else can do that unless we give them that power over us. I am sure you have experienced the beauty of the morning at sunrise. If you haven’t, your missing something beautiful, so set your alarm, take a step outside and see for yourself the magic of a New Day. Then grab it by the reins and make it your own. Use the promise that a New Day offers to make a promise to be good to yourself and make every minute count and remember to be the reason someone smiles.
Do you ever find yourself in those moments where your heart is speaking to you and you are really torn on whether or not you should act on what it is saying? It can be about a number of things at any given time, but when it happens you know that there is some reason the universe is speaking to you, even though you may never know why. One such event happened to me yesterday.
I had stopped over at my local Publix to pick up a few things around lunchtime. As I got out of my car to go into the store, I was approached by an elderly man, very unkept and disheveled. He walked up to me, shaking some change that he had in his hand and said “could you help a guy out to get on the bus?” Now anyone who has ever spent time in or lived near a large city knows that this is often a very common occurrence. You almost get immune to it as if it is white noise. As I often do, I said sorry I have no change in my pocket. Once in a while you may drop a few coins, but most of the time you assume it is just going to be used for liquor or drugs. A built in preconceived notion.
When I got inside the store and went up to the counter to make my purchase, the woman that was coming in behind me walked up the counter and asked for the manager. She proceeded to tell him there was a “vagrant” in the parking lot asking for people for money and that they should do something about it. I understood why she was doing what she did, but for some reason at this moment it did not set right with me.
I proceeded to make my purchases got back in my car and headed for home. The further I got from the store the more I felt a tug at my heartstrings and for some unknown reason I felt the need to go back and find this man. He was nowhere in sight when I left the parking lot. I wrestled with my inner self and finally did a U-Turn in the middle of SR54 and headed back to the vicinity of the Publix. I figured having been chased out of the parking lot by the store, the man was probably long gone by now.
As I entered the left lane to turn back into the Publix, I looked over to right and saw the man sitting at the bus stop. Now at this point I am all the way to the left, with four lanes of traffic to my right and cars everywhere. Normally, there would be a line of cars behind me waiting to turn in as well, but I was alone. All of the sudden, all four lanes of traffic were completely empty of cars and I was able to cross all the lanes and get over to the side of the road in front of where the man was sitting and called him over.
He approached my window and I put several dollars through the glass. He looked at me and said “God Bless You”, with a tear in his eye. He told me he was waiting for the bus in hopes that he could convince the driver to let him ride for free so that he could get back home. I told him he was welcome and drove off.
I will never know why that particular moment yesterday caused me to do what I did. I just know that for some reason my heart was speaking volumes to me and on the drive home I felt like my heart had increased three sizes. The universe had put me in a situation where for some reason I needed to respond and fortunately I listened to my heart and the world was a little better off for it. Sometimes, we just have to follow our heart without question when it is speaking that loudly.
Keep your eyes out for your moment today. You never know when it will appear, but when it does and your heart speaks to you, listen. You may never know why you did, but you will know in your heart there was a reason and for that moment you will have enriched your life just a little bit more. Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles!
Good Morning Bring Smiles Family. Happy Thursday!
Have you ever had that moment when your body and soul are trying to tell you something but you just can’t quite figure out what it is? There is something you are supposed to know, yet you either are just too busy trying to get on with your day and life that you don’t take the time to stop and listen? Finally, when you do figure out what it was, you wish you had because it would have been better to know sooner? This morning I am going to share a personal story that reminds us all of the importance of listening to our body and soul when it is trying to speak to us.
About eight years ago, I woke up one morning with a very weird feeling. This particular morning, I sat up in bed and all of the sudden a voice inside of me told me that I needed to schedule an endoscopy (a procedure where they go down through your throat and take a look at you from the inside). I had been on acid reflux medicine for many years and had an endoscopy done back when they put me on the medicine, but that was six or seven years prior. The doctor had never told me I was supposed to have them periodically to check things out because I had been on the medication for so long. However, this particular morning my inside doctor was speaking loud and clear.
For once I listened, promptly found a gastrointerologist and made an appointment. Within a week I was scheduled for the endoscopy. I expected it to be routine. I was young…well younger in my 40’s, healthy, feeling fine and absolutely no symptoms. When I sat down with the doctor post the procedure, I was floored by what he told me. He spouted out a bunch of words I couldn’t understand and recommended that I see a specialist within the week, which I did.
To make a very long story much shorter, I discovered that I had a gastro intestinal stromal tumor (GIST) which was very rare at the junction of my esophagus and stomach. I had never even heard of these tumors and went to work doing my research. Anyone who has had anything will tell you that researching what you have on the internet rarely is good experience. I learned that there wasn’t a lot known about these types of tumors because they were so rare, that catching them early was key and that they almost always turn to cancer.
Fortunately for me, I had a great set of doctors. I underwent surgery where they removed the tumor and a piece of my stomach where the tumor was located and waited patiently for the lab results to come back. Finally, the news came that we had caught it in time. It was benign and they were able to remove it with great margins. Today other than having an endoscopy every five years, so far no return of the tumor or any new ones.
I learned a lesson that day to always listen to my body and soul. It often speaks to us and lets us know that it needs attention. It is incredibly important that we take the time to stop, listen and devote the time and energy to understand what our body and soul are trying to say. I listened that morning. Because I did I am still here doing the work that I was supposed to do in this lifetime.
The next time your body and soul are trying to send you a message, whatever it may be, listen. If we don’t take care of ourselves first, it makes it impossible to take care of others. When we believe in our own importance and remember that we have a purpose for being here, even if we haven’t discovered it yet, in time we will. We just need to listen.
With that, take care of yourself, have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.