Sunday, February 17, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Smile!

It's been said that when you smile, your brain registers happiness. Your heart rate and blood pressure lower. You automatically feel more optimistic and positive. Smiling is like a magic pill!

How often do you smile during the day? As children, we smile and laugh often. As adults, with our myriad distractions and concerns, most of us likely don't smile and laugh as often as our younger selves once did.

You can change that!

Smile! Bring the gifts of joy and laughter to each of your days. There is so much to enjoy.

Today, this week: Smile! Cultivate your own happiness!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Draw from a Place of Love

It's easy in this age of 24/7 news and polarizing perspectives to believe that we can do nothing to positively affect the world. We can easily forget that one of the most powerful things we can do every single day is to spread love. What better way to build a bridge during a time of so many great divides?

When we step back a moment from the things that appear to separate us and focus instead on how we might be kind, respectful, compassionate and loving, we take positive action that sends ripples of positivity in all directions. 

We benefit when we live with our whole hearts -- hearts of love, kindness and decency.

Today, this week: Draw from a place of love in all you think, say and do.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Paper Boxes, Paper Hearts

The lovely, old elementary school I attended

As an elementary school student, I rode the school bus to a lovely, old two-story, brick school with a belfry. Children from throughout our rural neighborhood, as well as those from within walking distance, formed the small student body in that lovely old building. 

The school stood on a lot the size of a city block. There was a big field for running, a playground for swinging, an asphalt area for jump roping or playing hopscotch, and a big sledding hill. The grounds were plentiful with trees, ideal for incorporating into our imaginative recess games or for scooping up autumn leaves to make into leaf forts or houses.

Among my favorite elementary school memories from those simpler times was the making of Valentines for our parents and the decorating of shoe boxes to hold the Valentines we would receive from our classmates. 

Valentines for our mommies and daddies were usually fashioned of red construction paper carefully traced and cut into heart shapes with little scissors. A heart-shaped paper doily would often be glued to the construction paper as the next step. Then, we would select small squares of tissue paper in various pastel hues and, using the blunt eraser end of our pencils, carefully wrap the tissue squares around the end of the pencil to form little flowers. The flowers would be glued into place with a spreader dipped into school paste. Sometimes, those little tissue flowers would form yet another heart on top of the doily. A "Happy Valentine's Day" message spelled to the best of our abilities in crayon would finish off our creations. 

Decorating a shoe box to hold the Valentines from our classmates was another enjoyable and much-anticipated classroom art project. Using wrapping paper and construction paper, along with more doilies and tissue paper flowers, we created vessels to hold those precious Valentines selected for us by our little friends. Sometimes, the Valentines would be handmade, while at other times they were purchased in a store. The handmade ones were always a favorite.

When was the last time you made a Valentine? Might this be the year to make such a gift from the heart?

Sunday Sunshine: Connect with Your Heart

There are times when the path seems shrouded in fog, a needed decision just out of reach. What to do? What direction is the right direction?

Take a moment to grow silent, to grow still. When you intentionally empty the din from your head and allow yourself to relax, the answers come. The more you apply pressure and add to your stress by hearing only the chatter in your head, the harder it is to hear the answer that is right for you, the one that is based on possibility instead of fear.

Short-circuit that judgmental, fear-based chatter in your head and listen more deeply to the wisdom of your heart. 

Today, this week: When the way seems unclear, grow silent and still, and connect with the messages from the heart.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Always Be Kind

Last spring, I had the occasion to sit on a bench in a beautiful botanical garden. Carved into the bench's backrest were these words attributed to J. M. Barrie: "Always be a little kinder than necessary."

There is always an opportunity to be kind and to be kinder than necessary. 

Admittedly, there are times when being kind stretches our very being. It takes all of our might not to lash out. The other person might be in a bad mood or might have said or done something rude or might have been inconsiderate of our feelings.

But kindness changes things. It stops a negative energy cycle in its place. Kindness brightens the day for you and it might even change the behavior of others. 

When you choose to be kind, even more so than necessary, you bring sunshine through your words, thoughts and deeds.

Today, this week: Be kind, always.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: See the Good Everywhere

There will be times in our lives when we experience rainy days, dark nights, shadows and storms. Those difficult times provide the opportunity to break us or to make us into better people. 

When my mother was within the last hours of her life, a friend gave me a small brass leaf on which was inscribed the words "Give Thanks." Her thoughtful gesture, with its simple, yet profound message, changed my perspective. 

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, sadness and fear as Mom and I said our final goodbye, I began to start counting my blessings for having had such a wonderful mother, for having had such a delightful relationship with her and for having had the opportunity to walk her final journey with her. 

Soon, that difficult moment, though still filled with sadness, was equally filled with blessing and goodness.

There is indeed blessing everywhere, even when it appears hidden from view. Make time to change your perspective, to find blessing and the good will emerge.

Today, this week: See the good, even in the difficult moments. There is blessing, there is beauty everywhere, even when it seems hidden.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Expand Your Horizons

If you live somewhere in the north, chances are you may be seeing at least some snow right now. There can be vast expanses of pristine, white snow at times during the winter months. Whenever I encounter one of those beautiful landscapes where snow seems to go forever, uninterrupted and beautiful, I think about my own horizons. 

A new year represents a clean slate, a fresh start. You, too, are a clean slate. You, too, can make a fresh start. 

Perhaps it's a new way of taking care of yourself -- a healthier diet, integrating more exercise into your day or turning off the technology in the evening so you can get a good night's rest. 

Perhaps you want to learn a new skill or study a new subject or meet new friends or try a new recipe. 

Perhaps there are new roads to be traveled, new places to visit.

Today, this week: Expand your horizons. Spend time learning something new about yourself and the world.