Family, Life, Quotes, Today I will

National Day of Service 2021

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Steve and I wanted to do something today for #nationaldayofservice. It had to be Covid-19 aware and something important to us. The Covid Aware part was the biggest struggle. What can we do that is adequately socially distanced and we will not risk exposure? Today we chose to take the afternoon, enjoy being outdoors in the cool day sun, and pick up trash. We were not without subject matter to work with!  There are several local parks we like to visit. Some days there is a good bit of trash and it is terribly sad to see. 

There is a growing awareness that single-use plastic is detrimental to the planet. Do you know what’s worse?

Humans.

If we would make better decisions, pick up after ourselves, and work for the good of each other so many issues in life could improve.

I digress. This is not a post about how much humans can sometimes suck. Although, I’m sure as my husband hauled a giant lawn leaf bag full of trash around our favorite park the thought crossed his mind several times.

While there was plenty of trash to pick up, there was beauty worth working for. Nature always finds a way to make us smile. Deer and raccoon tracks were all over Pharr Mill park. Families were using the trails or playing by the water at Frank Liske. From trash to fungi to waterfalls our time outdoors today was wonderful. 

It is not uncommon for us to take trash bags with us when we walk the beach at our favorite Dauphin Island. I believe it will now be a regular part of our park excursions.  The parks that do not have on-site attendants fare poorly.  I expected to need the large trash bag, I did not expect to fill the large trash bag overcapacity.  

Our parks are not able to have their regular clean up events. They are understaffed as it is. Picking up is something that needs to be done, and we don’t mind doing it.  I believe this is a regular task to add to our 2021 goals and I want to find others.

Organizations that rely on volunteers are struggling. They are struggling to raise money for their organization. They are struggling with volunteers and health protocols.  I encourage you to find something you care about and discover how you can contribute. It doesn’t have to be for a specific day. Every day is a great day to work for the good of our community.

 

 

Life, Quotes, Self Reflection

2020 Some Things Worth Remembering

The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. - Henry Ward Beecher
There is so much truth in that statement. It’s easy to find happiness in the special moments. The daily grind is where there is a challenge. This was and continues to be a truth for the time we are in. Many have found happiness in the less exciting aspects of life. A simple walk around the neighborhood is a treat. Camping, hiking, and kayaking are our preferred activities.  Not just for us it seems, outdoor equipment sales soared by mid-year 2020. Bike sales grew by +63%. Paddlesports, much the relief of suppliers and manufacturers who had been facing declines, grew +56%. Golf was up +51%, and camping +31%. Judging by the difficulty of getting a campsite, I think this number is probably a good bit low.  Back in October we scheduled all of our 2021 campsites and have already started looking at 2022.  CRAZINESS!  (source)

2020 was less than easy. It took real effort to find happiness in common things. I didn’t mind working from home. I certainly didn’t mind social distancing.  As an extreme introvert, it was nice to have my preferred life become socially acceptable.  The mask was a little tough at first, especially when hot. Over time, no big. It is just another item of clothing.  I knew that it was going to require an effort to stay active and not sink into the frustration of the election, Covid-19, and the changes we faced. I need goals and am very task-driven. So I set one and decided to learn how to use my digital camera and shoot in manual mode. I took a specialization through Coursera (which I just finished, yay me!) and took pictures as often as possible. As much as possible I ate lunch with my husband and took walks morning, afternoon, and evening as weather permitted. We adjusted. There were a few scares with the kids being exposed. They are all working outside the home and being as careful as possible. By the end of the year, only one was actually living at home. (Fly little birdies! I’m so proud of you!) Some friends and family were not so lucky and suffered from the virus, and some succumbed to the complications. 2020 was certainly not all rainbows and butterflies.  We had to make the best of it, and I’m proud to say we did.

If you have 6 minutes to spare, check out our year in review video linked below.

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

 

Life, Quotes, Rambles, Today I will

In with Both Feet

It's easier to resist at the beginning than at the end. - Leonardo da Vinci

#Truth

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get started. It requires motivation, initiative, and sometimes optimism. Honestly, this should probably be my daily mantra and reminder. Get up. Start your day. Do not snooze that alarm. It is much easier to resist getting started in the morning.

I’ve also resisted getting started writing more.

Last year I decided my goal would be to learn my camera and use it for more than just point and shoot. I was successful. I now shoot in manual mode most of the time and I am editing RAW images.  Still learning, still taking pictures, and continuing that process. Actually, 2020 was the perfect time for that goal. Photography is a great activity for social distancing and trying to stay active.  This year, I have chosen a different activity and one that is not very active. I want to write more and improve my writing. I’ll still embrace my stream of consciousness preference, and I want to broaden my abilities. Years ago I wrote almost daily. I communicated with others across the world in a virtual space. I miss that. It was beneficial to read the perspective of others and be exposed to new ideas, new books, new places. So, for 2021, I’m going to get back to that. I want to improve communication, write more, and keep moving.

With this post, I’m refusing to resist. I’m getting started. One of my favorite authors is American historian James McPherson. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for a grad paper. What stuck the most was his comment that the hardest part of any book was to start writing. It stuck because I have such respect and admiration for his work. How could he struggle to get started? Because he’s human and sometimes that’s what we do.

Here I am, getting started and jumping in with both feet.

Life, Quotes, Rambles, Self Reflection

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family.- Joseph Brodsky

Each day I check BrainyQuote’s Quote of the Day.  Many make me smile, many give me pause for reflection. Today’s Joseph Brodsky quote is our mantra. 2019 has been a challenge for my family and a reminder that time is precious.  We have spent this holiday season seeking moments and memories.  As we look to 2020, our year is set for many memory-making opportunities.  Our goal is to live each day, enjoy our time together, and make time together a priority.

Even though 2000 miles separated us, we were able to gather with all 5 kids for a fun Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  While not the same as being in the same room, I am so thankful for technology.

From our family to yours: Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Career, Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Self Improvement

The Atmosphere Around Us

We respond to the atmosphere around us. Just as a smile can be infectious, negativity breeds negativity.

Words to think about.

My favorite quote, and words to live by, is by Charles Swindoll.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

A favorite teacher had it written on her board. In fact, she is probably the reason that I love quotes and seek out tidbits of wisdom from them each day. To a teenage girl struggling through life, these words were profound. This quote became a call to action and a driving force for my direction. I couldn’t control the situation, but I could control my response and my pursuit for something better in life. When in the classroom, I kept this quote posted above my whiteboard in hopes that it would reach some other struggling teen.

You never know what some are going through if they don’t say. It’s important to remember this as it will help with how we react in negative situations. We respond to the atmosphere around us and that response is a choice. You can choose to respond negatively, positively, or make a conscious choice to not respond at all. Making that choice is not always easy. Sometimes our instinct is to be reactive. That’s when it is important to stop, wait, and make a choice. You can continue the negativity, embrace the positive, or change what you are surrounded by.

Every day we are faced with both positive and negative moments. Sometimes work is stressful. It is easy to join in the lamentations of the frustration. Does it help?

Workplace negativity is an increasing problem. Follow social media, read the opinions and editorials you find on LinkedIn or other business related sites. Increasing work demands and an overextended workforce, changing office policy, open work-space policies, and any number of other frustrations are written about on a daily basis. Not all frustrations are actually work related. The demands of life and increasing personal stress increase the negativity brought to work. So that negative comment or perceived slight may actually have nothing to do with you personally. Joining in the negative, feeds the negative.

Again, you can continue the negativity, embrace the positive, or change what you are surrounded by. What if you change the narrative? What if your positive attitude overpowered the negative atmosphere? What if you tried it to see? You don’t have to be super up-beat or over the top. Smile more and avoid participating in negative conversation. Smiling is proven to be beneficial to both self and others- even when you don’t feel like it. It won’t fix everything, but it’s a great step in the right direction and in the chaos it is something we can control when the negative threatens to take everyone down.

Smiling or fake smiling not an option for you? Try to find the positive. Point it out and express hope for improvement. The situation really sucks and there is no positive? You don’t have to participate in negative conversation. You don’t have to listen to the gripe session or participate in it. It’s as simple as polite acknowledgement of frustration and excusing yourself to do something else.

To keep it in social media terms, don’t feed the trolls. (Even better, don’t be one.)

It’s not easy to avoid getting sucked into the negative, but it is a choice.

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Change, Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Rambles, Self Improvement

Change Resistance

Dear WordPress,

I know that I do not update my website and ramblings as often as I should. I know that my website deserves more of my attention. I also appreciate how you strive to stay up to date and make website maintenance, navigation, and posting easier. Sincerely, it is appreciated.  This block system, while idiot proof, is not an enjoyable experience for me.  I notice Gutenberg has two stars on your plugins page while the classic editor has a 5 star rating and millions of active users. I’m not alone in my resistance to this change.

Change is inevitable, and one day I will have to adopt the block system.  Today is not that day.  

Sincerely, 

Me

We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

Charles R. Swindoll

A few thoughts…Open your mind. Open your heart. Open your eyes. You never know what others are going through. Your project, your idea, while great- it’s probably not the only thing they have to focus on. Negativity breeds negativity and being positive is a choice.  Adapting to change, also a choice.  Sometimes, like using WordPress block editing, we need to ease in to it.  I know that I will probably love it when I decide to utilize it.  Right now, I’m not ready to learn something new.  I am resisting the change that has been coming for more than a year.  As I open my mind to it’s possibilities, I found a plugin that keeps me comfortable while I learn something new.
 
It is human nature to stick with what is familiar and continue with the status quo.  If the status quo is making you miserable, it’s time for change.  That change either needs to be an attitude change, or a situational change.  Either way, something needs adjustment.  Why go through life with such negativity? It’s not healthy.
 
According to Forbes.com 61% of employees are burned out.  That leads to disengagement, decreased productivity, and even profit loss.  That’s just the negative for the company.  What about the health of employees?  Burn out is real.  Sinking to it is a choice. If you are unhappy, find-something-else! Don’t just trudge into work everyday spreading negativity and drama.  Start asking yourself some questions.
  • Why did you accept this position?
  • What is keeping you here?
  • What are my goals?
  • Does this position help me pursue or achieve my goals?

Use the answers to these questions to make a decision. Change your attitude and stay, or go.  The negativity is not good for you and not good for your company. 

Changing your circumstances is hard. It’s work. You don’t feel like it. It takes effort.  Mel Robbins offers a solution that makes it simple.  Take a listen…

 

Quotes

Smiles

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight- Phyllis Diller

Sometimes just the act of smiling can make your day better. It relaxes your face, relieves tension, and changes your focus. Sometimes in life you have to smile through it. Smiling not only benefits you, but others as well. Smiling is contagious. When you smile at someone, their natural response is to smile back. It’s human nature. Smile more. If not for yourself, do it for others. If you don’t feel like it, try it anyway. It’s just one small way to help yourself physically and emotionally.

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Life, Quotes

The Bakery Lady

There are people and places we encounter that make an impact on our life. They become a statement to something bigger and better. Dauphin Island is our special place, our retreat from chaos. We look forward to our getaways and Steve starts dreaming of bakery good weeks before we arrive on the Island.

The Island has a bakery that rivals that of any world class establishment. It’s strange given that Dauphin Island is a tiny place with virtually no commercialization. It is truly the best food on the Island. If you Google Lighthouse Bakery you will see the following description, “Cozy mom-&-pop locale in a historic house offering baked goods, coffee, breakfast & sandwiches.” That is so accurate. Ms. Mary had talent. You walk into the bakery and immediately realize that when you crossed the bridge to the Island, you entered Island time and if you want an incredible cinnamon bun or cheese danish, you’re going to wait patiently while the next batch cooks because if it isn’t before 7:30 AM you missed out. Even 7:30 may be too late. The bakery opens at 6:00 and Ms. Mary and her crew arrive hours before. They have omelets made to order, pigs in a blanket, and other yummy offerings, but it is the baked goods that are truly incredible. We figured out how to avoid getting up at the crack of dawn while on vacation, and avoid the long line of other late morning arrivals. Once we arrive on the Island, we place our order for the week and pick it up each day. It is an awesome service the bakery offers. I’ve never tried doing the same for lunch, but it might be worth it on the days I want a chicken salad croissant to enjoy after paddling the bay, walking the bird sanctuary, or sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in.

For the last seven months the bakery has been managed by Mary’s daughter Christa. A realtor in the area, Christa is not lacking in bakery experience. She has had big shoes to fill, but by all accounts she is making momma proud. Ms. Mary suffered a stroke a few years ago, and then another in December. It was with the second stroke that an inoperable brain tumor was discovered. Ms. Mary has spent the last few months in Hospice care. She lost her battle with cancer in the early hours of the morning, July 25th.

We are visiting our little Island this week. The bakery is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. I don’t know if they will open while we are here. It is sad either way. Christa is capable and talented as well, but loss is never easy. The bakery family, the Island, has suffered a loss and Ms. Mary will be missed.

Rest in peace sweet Bakery Lady. Your fight is over. Your memory remains strong.

Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.– Rumi

Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Self Reflection

Happiness is…

Happiness is a choice found within. If one cannot be happy with self then happiness cannot be. No one can force you to be happy. Can someone or something make you happy? Only if you allow it. This does not mean that circumstances can’t beat you down. Negativity can work its way in and consume you. However, choosing to focus on the positive is a step to choosing happiness.

As the great Albus Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.

We love to spend as much time as possible outdoors. It’s a disconnect from the chaos and a chance to see what we see. What I love about hiking and paddling is you are out for the experience, however it may come. Being quiet and going along your way, you never know what you will encounter, or if you will encounter anything more than solitude. It could be a baby deer curled in the grass, a dolphin wondering why you are in his water, or rattle snake hoping you don’t notice he’s there. It is amazing what you will see if you simply keep your eyes open and watch. We spend too much time searching for entertainment, being busy, or distracted. Seeing and experiencing the world around us is a valuable way to disconnect from work and stress.

It’s amazing what you see when you’re not looking for anything. If we stop looking for happiness in all of our distractions, maybe we could find happiness within our self- then our home and the world we live in.

Live life. Give joy. Be at peace.

Empowerment, Life, Quotes, Self Improvement, Self Reflection

Do vs. Say

“Well done is better than well said.” Benjamin Franklin.

No truer words. Positive action is better than talking a good game. It is important to back up your words with a job well done. In the teaching years a poster graced my walls stating, “If you don’t have time to do it right, you better have time to do it over.”  The lesson: Focus on your work. Get the job done. Pay attention to details.

This is not to say that mistakes will not be made. If mistakes happen, fix it. There probably is an excuse for the mistake or shortcoming. It doesn’t matter. Fix it.  Always having an excuse and always having a story doesn’t get the job done. There are things that all of us are good at. Telling others how talented we are, how reliable we are, how ready we are isn’t as beneficial as demonstrating it.

When you no longer care about the quality of your work, it’s time to find different work.