Monday, August 13, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Embrace and Spread the Light

We all have times in our lives that feel like dark nights, shadows, even storms. Life doesn’t let us get by without experiencing such difficulties or challenges.

Once we accept that there will be storms in life--some severe, we can develop the tools to move through those difficult times with grace. We can learn effective ways to use our storms as opportunities for growth. 

Even in the depth of our shadows and storms, we can find light. That light comes when we become more patient, empathetic, and kind to others and to ourselves.

Today, this week: Look to the light, embrace it and spread it to others.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Be a Magnet

You are a magnet. You have the power to use your positive energy to attract positive energy back into your life. 

In other words, what you cast out into the world has a way of coming back to you.

Think about when you smile to someone. You often receive a smile back.

When you are kind, kindness is returned to you--often in unexpected and bountiful ways.

When you are grateful, the reasons to be grateful seem to multiply. 

Trust that the good, positive, sunny energy that you put forth will come back to you in even greater measure.

So today, this week: Be a magnet. Be sunshine. Use your positive energy to bring light to those around you. That light will surely shine back on you. 

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Your Happiest and Truest Self

In my post on July 1, 2018, I wrote about simplicity from the perspective of over-consumerism and over-commitment. This month, let’s explore simplicity from yet another perspective—listening to what gives you bliss and to where the path is calling you.
On August 1, 2012, I posted to this blog a post called "Sheer Bliss." In the post, I noted that I had just finished reading Timeless Simplicity: Creative Living in a Consumer Society by John Lane (2002; ISBN: 1 903998 00 X). 
The book had somehow ended up in my hand as I browsed the vast collections of our local public library. Its title spoke to me.
For many years, I've been fascinated by the voluntary simplicity movement. I like to live a simpler, leaner life with fewer possessions, fewer obligations, fewer things to distract me from my enjoyment of the moment. 
I also am a seeker in that I always keep my eye on whether I'm living my life's calling and purpose. When I am following the path that is right for me, everything feels simpler. Everything falls into place. 
When I am not following the right path for me, things quickly feel more complicated.
John Lane's book took the concept of simplicity beyond materialism to a focus on the fulfillment of our life's purpose. The author contends that we tend to know by the time we're adolescents what gives us bliss, who we are and what we must do in order for us to be our happiest and truest selves. 
Our lives might take us on paths away from that bliss due to distraction, procrastination, etc., but Mr. Lane urges the reader to "be sensitive to whatever your gift is, and never let it go." 
I've been a writer for years and years. When I write, I enter a blissful state. I feel tingly all over and become euphoric just at the thought of writing. And when I actually sit down to do so, time melts away and I don't want it to end.
Public speaking is also a natural and enjoyable endeavor for me. Perhaps that's why I chose a college degree in speech communications.
What comes naturally to you? What activities give you such joy that time stands still? Pay attention to those times when you feel bliss.  Be sensitive to them. Then, find ways to follow the path of your heart to your happiest and truest self. Now, that will be sheer bliss.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Affirming Words: I Seek and Find Ways to Serve

Consider adopting these Affirming Words for this month. Say them often to yourself -- whenever you see yourself in a mirror, when you get out of bed to start the day, whenever you need a little pick-me-up:

I listen to where I am being called to serve and I respond to that call. 

As I make myself available in service to others, my life becomes richer and more rewarding.

Monday, July 30, 2018

My Dad, the Snake Man - Part One

My dad, Chuck Naidl, and me in one of our earlier photos together. The facial expressions say it all.
My dad and I were very close for all of the 26 years that I got to be with him
until he passed away on July 30, 1984.

I periodically post photographs to Facebook of my late father, Roy Paul "Chuck" Naidl. Although small in stature (barely taller than 5'5"), he had a big mission. Dad was an intelligent and witty man, devoted husband and father, and passionate educator and lecturer who dedicated his professional life to helping people better understand reptiles and amphibians, and consequently, decrease their fear through education and understanding. He was often referred to fondly as "the snake man."

Life with Dad was such a joyful adventure that people have been urging me to write a book about him. Dad passed away 34 years ago, meaning that I have lived more of my life without my father's presence than with it. 

My father, Chuck Naidl, and me circa 1970.
As an only child, I had the pleasure of enjoying a delightful, mutually respectful relationship
with both of my parents.

As I become reacquainted with the memories of my growing-up years by putting them on paper (digitally), I thought I would first write a series of monthly blog posts, titled My Dad, the Snake Man, in tribute to him. (Many thanks to my friend, Charlene, for affirming the title.). Then, we'll see if there's a book in me for all of this storytelling.

I begin the five-part monthly series of posts with this one on July 30, the anniversary of my father's passing. The subsequent posts will be published at 9:00 a.m. central time on August 21, September 13, October 2 and November 21. That final post in the series will be published on Dad's 100th birthday.

Each of these posts will move backward through my father's life, beginning with his death and ending with his birth.

My dad with a tarantula, one of the many beings who he respectfully cared for
and included in his educational presentations in schools across the United States.

I will make every effort to be accurate with any factual details, but admittedly, this series of posts will be a loving tribute to my father more than anything -- a rambling of reminiscences, much of it through the filters of my childhood memory and perspective. 

While known across the United States as "the snake man," Chuck Naidl was first and foremost for me, simply Dad.

An early business card of Dad's on the left, as well as
a complimentary ticket to our family's reptile farm, at right.

This chapter of the story begins in May of 1976. I had graduated a semester early from high school to begin my college experience. As I was getting ready to begin my final exams on campus, my mother received a telephone call that Dad had collapsed while entering a school in Winneconne, Wisconsin where he was to present his program about the value and virtues of reptiles and amphibians in the ecosystem. Mom and I dropped everything, drove to the Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, only to find him in the Intensive Care Unit. Dad had suffered a serious heart attack. 

Thankfully, he would recover, but only after being hospitalized for about a month and then suffering a relapse shortly after he was discharged home to Baraboo, Wisconsin. 

Dad eventually spent time at home healing and growing stronger again. He was even able to resume his school lecture tours with time, but only on a limited basis and primarily with my mother accompanying him. Mom, a registered nurse, took time off from her work as an in-service education director at a skilled nursing facility and instructor of certified nursing assistants in order to accompany Dad on short lecture tours. They traveled by automobile together. Mom and Dad would continue the abridged lecture circuit for only a couple more years. Dad, then, divested himself of many of the reptiles, leaving only a few of his prized snakes and turtles to remain under his care at our home.

Dad's interests weren't restricted to snakes. Here he is with a mature snapping turtle.

We celebrated Dad's recovery from his devastating health event, but the road wasn't entirely easy. After an additional hospitalization for congestive heart failure a few years later, Dad began to not feel well early in the summer of 1984. On July 30th of that year, my mother and I arrived home to find that Dad had collapsed and died of another cardiac event. He was 65 years old.

The newspaper notice at the time of Dad's passing on July 30, 1984.

Just a few weeks earlier, Dad had conveyed a premonition to me that he wouldn't live much longer. While waiting together in the local pharmacy to pick up a prescription one day, Dad mentioned out of the blue that he was glad there were videotapes of him so that his potential grandchildren would know what he looked and sounded like. I was taken aback at the time, but I came to have the same premonition myself, an overwhelming sadness that engulfed me during the 4th of July festivities that year. I somehow knew that they would be our last together.

Fortunately, Dad and I had the opportunity to enjoy one final father-daughter date about a month before he passed away. Whenever my mom would travel out of town to spend time with her parents, Dad and I would schedule a father-daughter date where we would go out to eat, listen to live music, select topics for philosophical discussion and simply enjoy each other's company. Dad was a voracious reader and a great conversationalist on a variety of topics, always making our conversations fun and interesting.

Dad made me this table for my second birthday and offered to share my birthday cake with me.

Although our final father-daughter date was able to take place, I didn't, however, get to treat Dad and Mom to breakfast one more time. The day before he died, Dad, Mom and I enjoyed an after-church breakfast together at one of our favorite local restaurants. As usual, he and I tugged at the bill when the server delivered it to our table. As Dad made the final and decisive grab for it, I offered that the next time, breakfast would be on me. Sadly, it wasn't to be.

This is how Dad always signed notes and cards to me.  Loved that little rattlesnake cartoon.

Dad passed away on a Monday. By Friday of that same week, we were holding his memorial service. On the morning of the service, Mom and I took a walk. We soon found ourselves accompanied by a butterfly that was insistent upon swirling and sweeping gently around us. Mom said that she felt the butterfly was a sign from Dad that all was well and that he would always be with us. To this day, when I see a butterfly flitting around me, I think of that morning walk decades ago, the wisdom of my mother during a time of such profound grief, and the reassurance that Dad is with me always.

That fall, we cast Dad's ashes in some of his favorite places for snake hunting throughout his beloved Baraboo Hills. It just seemed right that a part of him return to those breathtaking places that had drawn him to Baraboo so long ago.

Dad's ashes were scattered in some of his favorite snake-hunting spots throughout the Baraboo Hills.

After Dad's passing, Mom and I contacted a friend from a Chicago-based herpetological society who took the few reptiles Dad had left and sold them for us. Mom and I then prepared our home and reptile farm property for sale and listed it. By October, the sale was complete. 

Mom wasn't able to say goodbye to the place that had been called home for 35 years, that place that had been known simply as "the snake farm" to local residents. Mom was in the hospital, recovering from a second cancer surgery, when I walked through the house for the last time, wandered outdoors to look out over the Baraboo Hills, reminisced about the many remarkable experiences that had happened in my 26 years on those five acres, and locked the front door for the final time. Gone was the era of Chuck Naidl's Reptile Farm, but the memories would live on in our hearts.

Dad and me, enjoying the new swing he made for me in our backyard in 1962.
In the cement base, Dad had engraved my name and the year.

When Dad died, I lost my primary male role model, the man who was always there to make little tables and swing sets and draw cartoons for me; the man with whom I could discuss intellectual matters, solve problems, and spend time in quiet conversation. Dad wasn't one to toss advice around haphazardly. Rather, he quietly considered whatever issue I brought to him and thoughtfully provided me with his response, often engaging me to help solve my own dilemmas. 

My dad, Chuck Naidl, in a professional portrait taken by local photographer Ron Rich circa 1963.
It's not surprising that Dad would be holding his signature pipe.

Although Dad's years were cut short, the 65 years he did live were lived richly, passionately and in his own way. He was an educator at heart: patient, thorough, encouraging and inclusive. He traveled extensively, touching one life after another with his positive, affirming ecological message. 

A parade of journalists, photographers, college professors and students were constantly visiting our home and the reptile farm that Dad and Mom operated as an educational center for 35 years. With Dad's passing, those days were now over. I would like to believe that the knowledge he imparted continues to be passed along to others who, in turn, will continue to share that important message about reptiles with generations to come.

Dad, holding a Tegu lizard at our family's reptile farm.
My father's knowledge and wisdom on the subject of reptiles were sought regularly by
journalists, professors, authors, college students and more.

My father enjoyed an extraordinary career doing exactly what he loved to do -- being "the snake man." And I was lucky enough to be part of that amazing life.

One of my favorite pictures of Dad, always with a pipe and a smile.
A tattoo of a snake that he got while stationed with the US Army in the Mojave Desert during WWII
is peeking out of his shirtsleeve.

In next month's installment, posting on August 21 at 9:00 a.m. central time, I'll explore what it was like to grow up on a reptile farm. See you then.

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: See the Unique Beauty

The experiences of our lives have a tendency to set the lens through which we see others and view future experiences.

What if we shed those preset lenses for just today and chose to see everything and everyone from a new perspective?

Today, try this experiment: See the unique beauty in everyone you meet and everything you encounter. Come from a place of openness. Come from a place of kindness. Come from a place of patience. Come from a place of compassion. Come from a place of respect.

At the end of the day, consider what you learned from your experiment. Then, give it a try again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Let Love Guide You

Every day, we have the opportunity to witness kindness and goodness and to learn from what we witness.

Every day, we have the opportunity to frame our thoughts, words and actions so that they build up, not tear down.

When we focus on what’s kind and good, we find it in others and in ourselves. When we use our words and deeds to display kindness, we come from a place of love.

Today, this week: Direct your attention to all that is good. Fill your own well of kindness. Then, let love guide your every thought, word and deed.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Appreciate the Gift

You have just been given a most marvelous present. It’s wrapped in tissue paper and gently placed in a beautifully wrapped box, tied with a bow.

What is that gift? It’s a new day!

Don’t allow the shadows of yesterday to affect the possibilities of today. Focus on what you can do with this precious gift, this beautifully wrapped present.

Today, this week: Make the very most of the day!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Adopt a Posture of Gratitude

Start your day in a posture of gratitude. When you open your eyes, ready to welcome the new day, before you step foot out of bed, name three things for which you are grateful.

When you start your day with a heart of gratitude, it sets the stage for the rest of your waking hours.

Not sure where to begin? Remember that even the smallest, most ordinary things hold extraordinary abundance.

Today, this week: Be thankful and you will find that you have more and more for which to be thankful.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Spend Time in Nature

When the summer sun is warm and the days long, spend as much time as you can outdoors communing with nature.

Many of us tend to spend much of our time indoors, particularly during the workday. When we seek out nature, we benefit from its gifts of renewal and wellness. We feel a connection to others and to every living thing. The chatter in our busy brains quiets and we reconnect with ourselves.

Today, this week: Spend time in nature. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Simply Living Simply

A few years ago, a dear friend shared with me a magazine, drawing my attention to a particular article about wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy about appreciating things, even when they are imperfect, incomplete, simple and subtle.
Wabi-sabi promotes a physical and psychological space devoid of clutter and distraction, yet abundant in serenity and contentment.
I read the article with fascination. If I had to put a word to the life I try to create for myself and the atmosphere in which I try to live, it would be wabi-sabi. I have intentionally decluttered my life in recent years, reducing my outside obligations, decreasing my to-do list entries, and removing physical clutter from our home. This effort toward a more minimalistic lifestyle has made room for what is vital—and for the new.
As I talk with friends and colleagues who have busy lives with myriad commitments and responsibilities, I see my own life more clearly. I have chosen a different path for myself. (And in some ways, the path has chosen me.)
Consequently, I embrace the simple, the clean, the silent. I embrace the slightly slower pace where I have time to think, to consider and to appreciate. I've gladly exchanged the more frenzied days for quieter ones.
There is a wealth of books, websites and other resources about minimalism these days. As a society, whether we’re young or not-so-young, we’re seeing that our “stuff” and our over-committed calendars don’t encourage a fulfilling life. Actually, the opposite occurs because we have to work even harder and longer to pay for our belongings and to climb the ladder. In the end, those things don’t make us happy. They just get in the way of a truly abundant, well-lived life.
Time to contemplate and pay attention is more than a luxury. Space to enjoy the things that really matter is more than a clean house. Opportunity to be of service or to spend time with loved ones is more than commitment. It is abundance. It is serenity. It is contentment. It is wabi-sabi. 

Affirming Words: Celebrate Your Inner Child

Consider adopting these Affirming Words for this month. Say them often to yourself -- whenever you see yourself in a mirror, when you get out of bed to start the day, whenever you need a little pick-me-up:

I laugh easily and make time for play every day. The child in me thanks me for it.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Plant the Seeds

As farm fields become dense with growth and gardens yield summer produce and flowers, consider the seeds that you plant.

Do you sow seeds of love, abundance and joy? Do you create an atmosphere that is fertile for kindness, encouragement and goodwill? Do you care and feed your own internal "garden" to maximize personal growth and enrichment?

Plant the seeds today that will produce bright tomorrows.

What will you do with this glorious, precious day?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Seasonal Sprinkles: Summer Solstice

It’s the first day of summer! With the arrival of the summer solstice, we welcome the longest day of the year.

What will you do with the many hours of daylight today?  Get outdoors!

Consider taking a walk, riding your bike, packing a picnic, taking a swim, sitting on your front porch, eating some locally grown produce.

Breathe in the refreshing summer air and enjoy this longest day.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: See the Light. Be the Light.

We are quickly approaching the longest day of the year. Yet, there is darkness all around us. The storms of grief, the shadows of worry, the clouds of concern can prevent us from seeing the light that is also all around us--the light that is beaming brightly within us.

Instead of focusing on your cares and worries, redirect your view to your blessings, to the sources of your joy and gratitude.

Then, cast that light outward to others so that they, too, feel the light. The weight and intensity of their storms, shadows and clouds will lessen.

When you see the light, you become the light.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Grow!

It’s a new day and a new week! A time for growth and possibility!

Look to nature for nurture. The loveliness found in a summer day refreshes and renews.

Find that same powerful renewal in yourself. 

Today, this week: Give yourself the gift of fresh views and fresh thoughts. When you see the ordinary through the eyes of the extraordinary, everything seems possible.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Bloom!

This is the season of tilling and planting, greening and growing, blossoming and flourishing.

Take a cue from nature and bloom where you’re planted.

Today, this week: Make the world a better place today through the beauty of your talents, generosity and kindness.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Whatever the Weather

At this time of year in Wisconsin, the weather is fickle. One day, we need sweaters and contemplate putting that extra blanket back on the bed. The next day, the temperatures soar and I'm wondering if it's time to close up all of the windows and succumb to air conditioning.
A few months ago, my husband and I attended an interesting lecture about climate change delivered by a university professor who specializes in atmospheric and oceanic sciences. He showed us diagrams and charts that helped confirm that the warmer temperatures we thought we’d been experiencing for years have actually been happening. Compared to the days of my childhood, we have indeed experienced more days that have been warmer than the norm, including during the winter months.
In this month when we anticipate summer’s official arrival, we can experience some hot, hot, hot days—blistering hot days with temperatures in the 90s and high humidity. By contrast, we can also experience cold, dreary, rainy days that make you contemplate turning back on the furnace.
We wait so long to be able to open windows in the northern Midwest that I sometimes let myself sweat for as long as I can before forcing myself to close the windows and turn on the air conditioning. I sit quietly, down lots of water and let the warm breezes blow in. Eventually, the air conditioning gets turned on—especially if we want to sleep with any degree of comfort.
I think back to the days when I was a child. Our homes and cars didn't have central air back then. We didn’t even know what that was. We didn’t have a window air conditioning unit at our house either. We planted trees. We bought box fans and we drank lemonade. We went swimming. We ate picnic-style meals that didn’t require turning on the oven. We simply adjusted our activity to the weather and accepted that hot, humid days and nights were part of summer.
I’ve become a softy as I’ve gotten older, relying on the increasing creature comforts to become my standard. But, for this month, I’m going to revert to my childhood and revel as long as I can in those warm days of old, when welcoming breezes through open windows were some of the loveliest signs of the season.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Affirming Words: I Feed My Creative Spirit

Consider adopting these Affirming Words for this month. 

Say them often to yourself -- whenever you see yourself in a mirror, when you get out of bed to start the day, whenever you need a little pick-me-up:

I feed my creative spirit by engaging in activities that allow me to express myself.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Cultivate Peace

You have the capacity to be a peacemaker. We need peacemakers in our world.

You are a peacemaker when you seek to better understand another person’s perspective, listen with your full attention, consider your response carefully, measure your words and show respect.

It doesn’t mean that you have to be in full agreement with the other person, but it does mean that you honor the light in that individual and you give him or her the respect to hold his or her own opinions, even if they are different from yours.

Doing so can help you look through the clutter and distraction of differences in order to find the light of common ground. That light will help you forge a path through differences to a place of compromise and respect.

Today, this week: Cultivate goodwill. Cultivate peace. Cultivate understanding. Be a peacemaker and brighten the world.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Bright Desires

Spring is that glorious time of year when we witness new beginnings as the earth springs forth with growth and beauty. We tend to our gardens and we watch the plants grow.

Now is also a glorious time to look at what needs to spring forth in your own life and to cultivate and grow those desires and dreams.

What hidden, bright desire do you want to bring forth into your life? Perhaps it’s a new hobby, a new relationship, a new community, a new job, a new book to read, a new hill to climb.

Spring into action! Your season is here!

Today, this week: Be your true, best self. Don’t waste time or energy on regret. You can make great things happen!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Believe in Yourself

You were made to be uniquely you. 

Don’t be afraid to stand out and be yourself, to have your own voice and to follow your deepest values.

You are strong. You are bright. You are of value for who you are and for the gifts that you uniquely bring to your every encounter.

This day, this week: Believe in yourself!

You are right where you're supposed to be! So, relax and fully enjoy the moment!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Follow Your Heart

The din can be loud. It can be deafening. 

Advice, suggestions, recommendations. Fears, worries, doubts. 

How does one take in so much information and still be able to make a decision that feels right?

Grow silent. 

Listen to that still, small voice inside of you. It will guide you, just as a street sign tells you where to turn. 

You hold the answers. Reach within and you'll find that the answers are waiting for you.

Today, this week: Follow your heart. It won’t let you down.

For more thoughts about following your heart, check out my book, Find Your Heart, Follow Your Heart: Get to the Heart of What Matters and Create Your Abundant, Authentic, Joyful Life, available in hardcover, softcover and e-book formats from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Balboa Press and other fine retailers. Perfect for Mother's Day and Graduation gift giving.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

May's Song

                When I think of the month of May, I hear my late mom’s sweet voice singing “White Coral Bells.” While there are slight variations to the lyrics, here’s how Mom would sing them to me as a lullaby when I was a little girl: “White coral bells, along a slender stalk. Lilies of the valley line my garden walk. Oh, how I wish that I could hear them ring. That will only happen when the fairies sing.”
                A few months ago, my husband and I gathered with friends to enjoy a potluck dinner together, followed by the singing of folk songs. Among the songs we sang that evening was a beautiful round of “White Coral Bells.” I could feel Mom’s spirit with us that evening!
                Now that May is here, the lilies of the valley will soon line the garden walk of a lovely friend whose mother used to sing “White Coral Bells” to her, as well. She has invited me to visit her when the lilies of the valley are in full bloom and to sing together “White Coral Bells” in memory of our moms. I look forward to it and hope it will become our May tradition for years to come.
                I also look forward to my own white coral bells experiment. A dear friend who sports a green thumb and a master gardener certificate, researched how to best plant and care for lilies of the valley in a container. She, then, gave one to me for my May birthday last year. I followed her instructions and hope to see blooming lilies of the valley, perhaps not lining my garden walk, but at least by our condominium's front door in a few weeks.

                May is a melody of loveliness, each week a different stanza in a song of beauty. If May had its own song (and I think it does), I would deem it to be “White Coral Bells.”

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Affirming Words: Be a Magnet

Consider adopting these Affirming Words for this month. Say them often to yourself -- whenever you see yourself in a mirror, when you get out of bed to start the day, whenever you need a little pick-me-up:

I focus my intentions with specificity to attract what I desire in my life.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Joy on the Journey

When you think about the word “Journey,” what do you see? 

When you look at it carefully, you see that “Joy” bookends the word: JOurneY.

It’s easy to look for the outcomes, the results and the end in sight. But, if we only focus our energies there, we miss out on something vital—the journey itself.

Joy is there to be found on the journey. Reframe your perspective. Soak up every moment of every day. 

Today, this week: Find joy on your journey.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Bright and Beautiful

So much in life is bright and beautiful, just as the season of spring demonstrates to us through nature’s magnificent palette.

Fill your mind and heart with thoughts and feelings of the bright and beautiful. Allow them to feed your spirit and affect your mood and outlook.

When you choose to experience the bright and beautiful in your day, your eyes will begin to focus on those moments more and more until they naturally become what you view.

Today, this week: Carry the beauty of spring with you, no matter the season. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Reach for the Rainbows

There are days when it seems as if the old adage of “when it rains, it pours” is so true that there aren’t enough umbrellas and galoshes to protect you from the deluge.

Don’t allow yourself to get swallowed up by the storms in your life. Redirect your focus to rise above the rain. Reach for the rainbows.

When you dedicate energy to seeking the good in each difficult situation, the hold that those sorrows and fears have over you is lessened. It’s easier to flow through the experience until you can see the sunshine again.

Today, this week: Reach for the rainbows and they will be there for you.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: The Ordinary, The Extraordinary

Allow your day to pause for a moment. Think back to some of your fondest memories. Do they center on big accomplishments and grandiose endeavors? Are they about big purchases and major rewards? 

Or are they about small experiences, simple pleasures and little droplets in time that may have seemed insignificant then but left a big impact that still resonate with you now?

Small things. Ordinary things. Simple things. That’s where the extraordinary moments of joy can be found.

Truly, some of our greatest joys come from our most ordinary moments. 

Today, this week: Cultivate joy and find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Fuel Your Happiness

It’s natural to occasionally have a bad day or succumb to a sour mood. The good thing is that you don’t have to remain stuck there. Happiness is an inside job that you can manage at any time.

How might you adopt a happier mindset? It doesn’t take much—just a shift in your focus and energy. Fuel your happiness through kind words, a grateful heart and a joyful spirit.

Your happy, joyful, grateful, kind energy will automatically be shared with those around you. Lift your day and that of another.

Today, this week: Choose happiness.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

In Bloom

If there's ever a month that conveys the hope of spring, it is April. For those of us who live in south-central Wisconsin, spring often takes several weeks after its official arrival in March at the vernal equinox to make itself truly known. 
April begins, of course, today with April Fool's Day on the first. Sometimes, April does fool us by hanging onto March's lion-and-lamb tendencies -- first hinting at warmer weather, then clobbering us with one more heavy, wet snowstorm.
As April gets used to itself, however, it gets over its last-attempt winter tendencies and becomes what it was intended to be: the month of blooming joy. 
From the wood violets and Virginia bluebells to the tulips and daffodils, April settles in as its colorful and happy self. It is the month when nature's palette moves from gray and tan and brown and white to red and yellow and deep purple and bright green. It's as if everything awakens, and with that awakening, April decides to put on its best finery and make an appearance.
April is also the month of warm sunshine and refreshing raindrops. Both are needed for this month of renewal.
At this time of year, I can no longer stay inside, content to simply look out the window. I've already done 90% of my spring cleaning during the deep, dark winter months. I surely don't want to waste a single day or minute of glorious April stuck inside cleaning. 
April is meant for long walks, big dreams, deep breaths and blooming energy. Soak up its loveliness.
Welcome, April! 

Affirming Words: Celebrate All That is Good

Consider adopting these Affirming Words for this month. Say them often to yourself -- whenever you see yourself in a mirror, when you get out of bed to start the day, whenever you need a little pick-me-up:

The hope and the promise of this day are evident everywhere. 

I celebrate all that is good. There is much to celebrate.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Time to Grow

Just as the grass is beginning to grow, the trees are budding, and the early spring flowers are starting to lift their heads out of the soil, we, too, have opportunities to rise and shine during this glorious season of growth and renewal.

Today is a new day. Today marks a new week. Look for opportunities for your creative energies and ideas to form. Look for ways for you to grow as a person.

Today, this week: Be Spring! Bloom! Grow!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Seasonal Sprinkles: Spring's Here!

Spring has officially sprung today!  

With the vernal equinox, the birdsong seems louder, the sky seems bluer and the leaves begin to sprout on the trees. 

Now is a time of new beginnings, a time of renewal, and a time when nature leaves its quiet mode and bursts forth with color. 

This is indeed a time of new life, an opportunity to explore our own renewals and to raise our voices in jubilation for all of our blessings. 

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Be a Dreamer

If you were to say in a sentence what you want for your life, what would it be? Name those desires, those aspirations, those values, those dreams.

Perhaps this is the year you want to learn how to play the piano or go scuba diving or run a marathon or adopt a pet or write poetry. 

What first steps might you take in order to make your dreams come true?

Today, this week: Set your sights on your dreams. The horizon looks bright!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday - Be. Peace.

Life can be overwhelming at times, including those times when things feel positive and good in our lives. 

If your plate seems full--even if it's heaped with mostly positive things, breathe in peace. When your stress levels soar, breathe in peace.

Just a few smooth, deep inhalations and exhalations will help you attain a more peaceful and calm state.

As you become peaceful, pass your peace on to others. Your peace may be an oasis for them.

So today, this week:

Breathe in peace. Feel peace. Pass peace to others. Be peace. Be. Peace.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Get Rid of the Clutter

Now’s a perfect time to let go of what you no longer need. A clean space and mind allow for something new to enter your life.

Live a life free of clutter. You have what it takes to thoughtfully and easily remove those things from your life that no longer suit you. Those things may be actual objects, but they can also be negative thoughts clouding your positivity or over-commitments weighing heavily on your shoulders.

Consider spending time today removing the tangible and intangible clutter from your life and get to the essence of what’s important to you.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Here We Come, Spring

The signs of spring are all around us and I, for one, am ready for them. Whether winter holds us in her tight grip for months with a heavy dose of harsh temperatures and mounds of snow or not, I'm always ready for the return of warmer weather, green grass, blooming flowers and longer daylight. I am a spring person at heart.
I love all that spring represents, from Daylight Saving Time's return to the spiritual experience of Easter to the tulips that bloom in every color from white to pink to red. Spring is the time of renewal, of new possibilities, and of an optimistic view of the world. It's no wonder the season bears the name Spring, for everything springs up and forth and forward (including the clocks). 
At this time of year, I love visiting with my neighbor who has planted a wide variety of spring wildflowers over the years, thus creating a colorful cascading succession of bloom, from bloodroot to Virginia bluebells to jack-in-the-pulpits. She calls me each time another plant begins to show its colors. That prompts me to walk over for a look-see and a long conversation with her about the miracles of nature.
Now's the time to open the windows—if only for a brief while—to bring in the fresh air and let loose the old, stale, cooped-up winter air. Now's the time to clean out the cupboards and closets, wash the curtains and windows, roll up the throw rugs that collected winter salt and sand at the doorways, and begin to get out the spring skirts and dresses. Now's the time to think about gardening, hiking, camping and summer vacations. Now's the time to embrace the warmth of the sunlight as it touches your face. 
As a child, spring meant my mother would wash the kitchen curtains she'd sewn, pressing them and placing them back up in the windows to billow happily once the windows could be open for summer. Spring meant my getting a new jump rope and Mom spending after-school hours twirling one end of the rope while the other was tied to our fence so I could practice any new jump-roping tricks I'd learned from my little girlfriends at school. Spring meant getting a new dress, white gloves, hat and shoes for Easter services. It meant having an Easter lily or two in the living room. Spring meant watching and waiting for forsythia, flowering currant and lilac blossoms to spring forth so that Mom could cut sprays of them to display in antique pitchers and vases throughout our home. Spring meant the weeping willows revealing their springy yellow leaves far before anything else even dared to blossom or bloom.
Spring is clean and fresh and lovely. I gladly welcome its return this month.

What are your thoughts about spring? What are some of your favorite spring memories? What does the season mean to you?