Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Plan, Plan, Plan

Plan, plan, plan. You have daily to-do lists, work goals, projects at home. It seems as if you're always in a state of planning, thinking ahead, preparing for the future.

Sometimes, however, your plans get derailed. 

It’s during those times of derailment when you would benefit from pressing "pause," considering your reality, and then redirecting your thoughts and actions. 

When you flow with the newness that's been thrust upon you (contrary to your best-laid plans!) —and the opportunities that can come from the unexpected, you can find blessing. Those blessings can lead to satisfying, new directions that weren't even on your radar when you were busy keeping your head down planning.

Today, this week: Make your plans, but also leave space for the unexpected that may take you into satisfying, new directions you could never have imagined.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Make a Harvest of Memories

Although I'm a self-proclaimed "spring" person, I have a deep appreciation for all four of the beautiful seasons we experience here in Wisconsin. Each season has its own distinctive characteristics. Autumn in Wisconsin is a treat to all of the senses, from the palette of fall colors splashing the countryside to the taste of crisp apples and acorn squash to the scent of dry leaves as they swish and crackle underfoot. 

As a little girl, I collected brightly colored maple leaves each fall, placing them between sheets of wax paper and then nesting them between the voluminous pages of Sears Roebuck, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward catalogs to flatten and preserve the leaves before they became brittle and curled. 

We lived in the country, so a Sunday drive to take in the fall color was never necessary. All we had to do was look out of our living room or kitchen windows to see breathtaking views of autumn's finery. I got to see that beauty every weekday on the school bus as we rode through valleys and up hills, picking up and dropping off child after child to and from school.

Recess time at our quaint, old elementary school was meant for building forts, homes and castles out of fallen leaves, letting our imaginations soar with the possibilities that piles of leaves could create. 

Fall was the time to walk up the hill behind our dear neighbor, Elsie's, big farm house and pick low-hanging pears off of the trees heavy with fruit. I recall indulging in too many of our pickings one year and getting a belly ache for my efforts. 

And speaking of fruit of the season, it wouldn't be autumn in our neighborhood when I was growing up without several trips to Ski Hi Fruit Farm up the road from where we lived. The orchard is located high on a hill overlooking the Baraboo Bluffs. The owners of the orchard, Art and Olga Bassett and their children, Betty and Phil, were wonderful neighbors and dear friends. The apples they grew were always a treat -- and they still are today. My mom favored Macouns, so our home always had an ample supply of them. When I eat a Macoun apple from Ski Hi these days, I'm immediately transported back in time to when I wore knee socks and dresses to school and my mom and I would make a treat of sliced Macoun apples and popcorn every Sunday night for dinner when my dad was away for his work.

As a child, going trick-or-treating on Halloween was a safe endeavor. We'd drive into town with our neighbors, stopping at the homes of several of their family members and our friends, for the annual adventure. I didn't need to receive lots of candy, only enough to consider it a treat. My Halloween costumes varied from homemade versions of cheerleader uniforms to store-bought versions of Cleopatra. 

October also meant carving pumpkins -- nothing fancy, just triangular eyes and nose and a toothy grin. Jack-o-lanterns with a candle stuck inside of them always created a happy pumpkin-face glow.

Now that October is here, I dedicate a little time to recalling fond memories of Octobers past. I also relish all that October in Wisconsin has to offer today. Autumn is at its peak. So spend some time outdoors savoring the season and this month of harvest and riotous color. Enjoy the many simple pleasures that October has to offer: Swish through dry leaves. Tuck a few of them between the pages of a book to save for later enjoyment. Visit an apple orchard. Try your hand at carving a pumpkin. Delight young trick-or-treaters by wearing a costume when you hand out Halloween candy. 

October is a celebration for children and for the child in each of us whose youth is in the rear-view mirror. Indulge and enjoy! Make a harvest of memories during this glorious, glorious month.

Sunday Sunshine: Where am I Being Called to Serve?

Your days can feel like a blur. You're pulled in a million directions. Everyone seems to need a "piece" of your energies and time. 

Are you really that busy or does it just seem that way?

Although you may feel as if your life is a fast treadmill only increasing speed, I would challenge you to spend some time in the quiet and ask, “Where am I being called to serve?” 

Listen carefully for the answer. 

We all have gifts and talents to give for the betterment of our neighborhood, community and world.

Do you have some time -- just a little bit of time -- to give to a cause greater than yourself, a cause that resonates with your interests and values, a cause that could use your abundant talents? If you say yes, you will feel the richness of the experience and others will benefit from your generosity.

Today, this week: Consider where you are being called to serve. Where can you say yes?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Share Happiness

I read a lovely quote recently, attributed to author John Harrigan: "Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower." So true!

When we choose to embrace happiness in our lives, it's as if we invite the sun to shine on us and to warm our souls.

But when we go one step further and share our happiness with others, it's magic! We transfer that sunshine to others and brighten the world.

And as we intentionally choose happiness and then generously share it with others, those recipients have the opportunity to share happiness, too.

Today, this week: Lift your day and that of another. Choose happiness and generously share it.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Fall's Here!

Tomorrow marks the first day of fall.

Just as the landscape changes during this season, moving from green to a brilliant palette of red, yellow, orange and russet, we, too, have an opportunity to make positive changes in our lives. 

What opportunities do the change of seasons bring to you?

Now's a perfect time to look at the circumstances of your life with new eyes and, after careful examination and consideration, change course, if needed.

Autumn will soon show its brilliant colors. Are you living your own true life, honoring your priorities and values so that your "real colors" show through?

Today, tomorrow, this week, this autumn season: Look to the change of seasons to evaluate your life and then make adjustments that honor your "true colors" -- your real, best self.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Kindness is Always in Season

Our day-to-day lives are packed with tasks. Our datebooks are filled with obligations. Every piece of paper found lying around seems to be ripe for a to-do list. 

Sure, you're in a hurry. You have a lot to do. It's easy to just put your head down and keep on keepin' on.

In your busy life, however, how often do you go out of your way to be kind, especially to a stranger?

Being kind doesn't have to be something big. It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone else. It can be sharing your smile with others as you walk by. It can be allowing someone behind you in the grocery check-out lane to go ahead of you because they have fewer items. It can be a pat on the back that you give your co-worker for a job well done. It can be a high-five you give your child. It can be making yourself totally present to someone who needs a moment of your time.

You may be busy, but you're never too busy to be kind. When you're kind to others, kindness has a lovely way of coming back to you.

Today, this week: Make room each day to be kind. Kindness is always in season. Kindness matters.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Be Positive

When things go contrary to your plans or when you're given news that you'd rather not hear, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Take another deep breath. Then, try to look for the opportunity amidst the clouds and storms that seem to have entered your life. There's always opportunity during a difficult time.

If you look for the positive aspects in a situation, you increase your chances of seeing the possibilities there. You may have to look a little harder, but they're there.

Embrace the good. Honor the moment in which you are living. As a bonus, your positive energy will attract more positive energy to you.

When your world feels like a rainstorm, lift your face. The sunshine will find you.

Today, this week: Look for the positive. See the possibilities. Lift your face to the sun.