Monday, October 29, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Let Your Worries and Fears Float Away

We hang onto them as if they were among our most prized possessions. We keep a firm grip on them so we can draw upon them throughout our waking—and especially our nighttime—hours. They are our worries and fears.

When we give them our attention and energy, our fears and worries become bigger, darker and more foreboding, especially in those middle-of-the-night hours when all seems darker, bigger and scarier.

Today, this week: Turn those worries and fears around and scoot them out the door. Let them float away with the wind. Fill those empty spaces instead with gratitude. Focus on the blessings of this moment, and your worries and fears won’t find room to come back.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Be Strong. Be True to Yourself.

It isn’t always easy. The pressure to conform, to remain silent, to go along with things that don’t feel right to you is strong.

But you have an option. You can be strong. You can be brave. You can be true to yourself and your values.  That wisdom that you carry deep inside of you is real and shouldn’t be ignored or squelched.

The truth that you feel deeply and viscerally is important to acknowledge. The words you have to say are important. Give voice to them.

Today, this week: Be strong. Be true to yourself. Listen to the wise voice deep inside of you. What is it telling you?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Wisdom Resides in the Silence

Our calendars and date books are packed with back-to-back commitments, obligations and have-to-dos. Everything becomes a blur as we run from one thing to the next.

We reach out so much in our lives. The only way to balance it is with time when we reach within.

Become still and silent for a while each day. Allow the silence to fill your spiritual well and give you the answers you seek.

It is there where Wisdom is waiting for you.

Today, this week: Give yourself time for silence and stillness.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Human Being, Not Human Doing

Sometimes, the journey takes us where we least expect it and to destinations we could never have dreamed of. 

Today marks seven years since I started this Time to Be blog. It grew out of my writing little essays about joy in small composition books during the last months of my mom's life as a way for me to cope with my sadness and grief. 

Today, I celebrate that those little essays about joy turned into a blogging, writing and speaking adventure that allows me to be my authentic self and to use my voice to hopefully bring some joy to others.

Here, once again, is my first blog post, published on October 11, 2011:

Time to be.  Why call my blog by that name?  Because I enjoy the peaceful act of simply being as much as doing.  I've learned that it's necessary to set aside regular time for solitude, reflection and introspection.  With this blog, I'll focus on being, not just doing.  I'll express opinions and observations, offer thoughts about items in the news, reflect and ruminate, reminisce and ramble, dream.  I will look to see life for all that's good and report on the simplest tasks and most fundamental of relationships with nature and others.  With a deep respect for the gentle steadfastness of my beloved mom who passed away four weeks ago and with a nod to her favorite author, Gladys Taber, I will write of joy, of loving and of living in the moment.  Time to be.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Embrace Abundance

With the changing of the trees to beautiful autumn color, think blessing. Just as you see the change in the trees, change your way of thinking to recognize all of the abundance in your life.

As you embrace that abundance, the lens through which you see the world will change so that even more abundance will seem to naturally come to you. 

Blessing begets blessing when you direct your focus there. Being in a grateful state sets the stage for more and more for which to be grateful.

Today, this week: Use the autumnal changes to the landscape as a prompt to shift your thinking and your energy. Embrace your abundance and give thanks.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Curiouser and Curiouser

I'm a big believer in lifelong learning. My schooling didn't end with a college diploma. Learning doesn't have to happen in the classroom or for credit. Learning something new is a daily adventure!
I tend to be a curious soul, especially when I hear people's interesting stories about their lives. I love to explore new topics and concepts. I believe I inherited the "curiosity gene" from my maternal grandfather. Grandpa Joe was always fascinated with people's stories. He soaked up new information. Consequently, Grandpa's perspective stayed young, despite his years.
Sometimes a word or concept comes into my life repeatedly for a short period of time and I'm challenged to pay attention to it and to determine what it means in my life. 
And so it was about a year ago when the word curiosity kept manifesting itself over a period of days--first in a chance conversation with someone who told me he is curious about so many things that he will never grow bored. He told me about the books he was reading. They were diverse and fascinating. Then, I saw a tweet about curiosity being the cure for boredom. And then again, I saw yet another tweet about curiosity keeping us present and reminding us to be open to change, meeting new people, challenging ourselves and growing.
The repeated messages about curiosity were meant for me! I had been overwhelmed by many professional directions at one point a few years ago. I had taken professional multitasking to my limits. As those professional endeavors came to their natural conclusions, I was left with just one project--one that led to the writing of my third book, Find Your Heart, Follow Your Heart: Get to the Heart of What Matters and Create Your Abundant, Authentic, Joyful Life, published in July 2017. 
Media exposure, speaking engagements and a series of Facebook Live videos followed, marking the next fulfilling chapter in this new venture. However, in the midst of it all, I started to feel that itch again, questioning as to where I was being called next. 
That was when the messages about curiosity came into my life with increased frequency. My tendency toward curiosity led me to even more opportunities for growth, fulfillment and enjoyment this year. 
With the calendar turning to 2018, I began writing a new series of blog posts called Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday, Affirming Words and Seasonal Sprinkles. Nudges from all directions also caused me to write a five-part blog series about My Dad, the Snake Man that has been posting this summer and fall. Another nudge caused me to submit my father's interesting life story to a magazine, where it is now awaiting publication. 
As I write this post, I'm exploring even more exciting, new avenues this fall.
I offer these examples of the joy and adventure of curiosity and their recent effects on my life as a nudge to you. 
What is appealing to your curiosity? What new concept, skill or subject might you like to learn about? Are there new people and new places calling to you? Are there new adventures waiting for you to say yes?
A curious mind is a fertile mind that eclipses fear, obstacles and limits. A handy dose of curiosity can lead to fresh insights, thoughts and ideas. Curiosity can lead to fresh starts. 
Stay curious, stay present, stay aware. There's so much to explore. The sky's the limit!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

My Dad, the Snake Man - Part Four

This post is Part Four of five posts that will highlight aspects of the life of my late father, Roy Paul "Chuck" Naidl, who dedicated his life to educating people about the value of reptiles in the ecosystem.  He was often referred to fondly as "the snake man." This year, Dad would turn 100. (To view the My Dad, the Snake Man - Parts One, Two and Three posts, please scroll down to July 30, August 21, and September 13, 2018.)

My parents, Barb and Chuck Naidl, on their wedding day 70 years ago - October 2, 1948.

The bride wore a softly tailored suit in her favorite shade of blue. The groom looked dapper in his suit and boutonniere. It was a day of beginnings for this newly married couple. There was so much to anticipate, so much to enjoy in this new life together.

Following a small wedding ceremony flanked by their witnesses, Dorrell St. Pierre and his wife, LaVerne, the newlyweds stood on the lawn of the Methodist Church parsonage in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and had their pictures taken. The newlyweds were my parents, Chuck and Barbara (Wood) Naidl. The day was October 2, 1948. Today marks their 70th wedding anniversary.

My parents fell in love in Two Rivers, Wisconsin while my mom was caring for a great-aunt who was dying. Dad was back in his hometown, honorably discharged from his stint in World War II and Mom was a fresh graduate as a registered nurse from St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. My mother had received her schooling courtesy of the U.S. government as a Cadet Nurse, agreeing and anticipating to serve in the war when her three-year education was completed. The war had ended by the time she graduated, however, so with diploma and nursing license in hand, Mom accepted the responsibility of caring for her great-aunt instead, and traveled from Iowa to Two Rivers.

My late mother, Barbara Naidl, while in Cadet Nurse training during WWII.

Upon marrying, the agreement had been that if Dad learned how to dance, Mom would learn to like snakes. For the longest time, only Mom held up her end of the bargain. Finally, about four years before his death, Dad danced a slow dance with Mom. They rehearsed in the kitchen at home several times before trying a public dance floor.

This doesn't appear to be the face of a woman who is afraid of snakes.
Mom overcame her fear once she met Dad.

My parents honeymooned at the Warren Hotel in Baraboo, a south-central Wisconsin community of fewer than 10,000 people at the time. Dad had discovered the community while on his snake-hunting expeditions and he found Baraboo to be appealing. He loved the Baraboo Hills and the wide variety of snakes that inhabited them. On one of his earlier visits to the area, Dad had met and become friends with Forrest Zantow who introduced him to the Baraboo Hills and to others who had an interest in reptiles. Dad also discovered great places to socialize, such as The Panoramic Resort, owned by the Roche family at the entrance to the north shore of Devil's Lake State Park.

Forrest "Woody" Zantow, left, and Dad. The two gentlemen became friends
during some of my father's earliest visits to the Baraboo area
and remained close until Dad's passing some 40 years later.
Woody and Dad are shown holding a bull snake, Wisconsin's largest non-venomous snake.
A beaded lizard is on the table in the foreground.

By 1949, Mom and Dad had purchased a five-acre parcel of land south of town on U.S. Highway 12. It featured a one-story, ranch-style structure that had at one time served as a bath house when the property was a trailer park. When the trailer park was closed and the property sold to a family from Illinois, the building was converted into a summer home. However, a miserable experience with seasonal allergies caused the family to sell and my parents to purchase the property.

Chuck Naidl's Reptile Farm, as it appeared in the 1950s, based on the vintage of the automobiles.
Dad and Mom would go on to plant many trees and renovate the building to become our family home.

After having grown up on main street in his hometown due to the location of his late father's photography business, Dad wanted nothing more than to live in the country where there were open spaces and he could plant as many trees as was possible. Mom, who had also lived within the city limits in her hometown of Charles City, Iowa, had never experienced country living either. Fortunately, once they bought their Highway 12 property, they were surrounded by kind neighbors who helped them acclimate to the country ways of life, including mending fences in order to keep neighboring cows from meandering.

Dad and Mom spent their summers at their rural Baraboo home, quickly turning a portion of the property into a reptile farm that would bear Dad's name. My parents would operate the reptile farm each summer for the next 35 years.

Chuck Naidl's Reptile Farm with the ambiguous address of Route 4 and the even more interesting
phone number of 723-R-1, from a Baraboo phone book of the 1950s.

During the remaining months of the year, Dad and Mom toured across the eastern and southern sections of the United States, with Dad giving lectures in schools about reptiles and Mom serving as his assistant. In those early years, my mother worked on and off at St. Mary's Ringling Hospital in Baraboo as a registered nurse, often doing private-duty nursing for patients needing more care.

The mansion of Alf. T. and Adella Ringling, of Ringling Bros. Circus fame,
whose home would become Baraboo's first official hospital in the 1920s.
My late mom, Barb Naidl, worked at the facility on and off for the better part of 40 years,
first as a hospital nurse, then as director of nursing when the building became a skilled nursing facility,
and later as director of nursing when it became a convent for retired Catholic sisters.

At times when they weren't touring, Dad would find other work, such as road construction where he helped build a new section of U.S. Highway 12 between Baraboo and Madison. He and Mom even worked for a short time in the 1950s at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant in nearby Sauk-Prairie, Wisconsin, with Mom serving as a nurse there.

My late parents worked for a short time at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant
on the Sauk Prairie in the 1950s.

My parents' touring years were filled with the adventure of new places, new people and new experiences that naturally come with travel. They also experienced segregation for the first time in their lives. My late mother would tell me again and again how jarring and disheartening that experience was for her to witness. But my parents also met many lovely people along the way, including the owners of motels where Mom and Dad would repeatedly stay when lecturing in the vicinity. Many of those friendships remained throughout the years, even if contact was made only once a year with the exchange of Christmas greeting cards.

My mom, Barb Naidl, could be counted on to assist Dad with his lecture programs,
even bringing some of the program right to the audience.
These little girls look as if they're enjoying the experience.

In some of the early years of their touring, Dad and Mom not only traveled in a vehicle filled with reptiles for Dad's lectures, they also traveled with their beloved Dalmatian, Jigs. The dog was so named because he "danced" with Mom whenever a popular television program from the day, Dairyland Jubilee, was on. Mom would ask Jigs if he wanted to dance and he would respond by standing on his hind legs and placing his front paws on Mom's shoulders so they could "polka" together. Traveling with a dog proved to be too difficult in the end, however, and Jigs found a home--as would seem appropriate--at a fire department.

My maternal grandmother, Carolyn Wood; my dad, Chuck Naidl; and Jigs, my parents' beloved Dalmatian.

Even before my parents married, my dad had experienced a few venomous snake bites. By the time I was born in 1958, my dad had experienced his tenth and final venomous snake bite. That last bite struck a nerve in his right hand, causing his thumb to become paralyzed. Rather than amputate his thumb (which was on his dominant hand), it was decided that it would better serve him by being folded across his palm. Despite that disability, Dad's handwriting, both cursive and printing, continued to be exemplary and he had complete use of his hand, even without a functioning thumb.

When Dad experienced that tenth and final snake bite at the fangs of a diamondback rattlesnake, Dad drove himself to St. Mary's Ringling Hospital in Baraboo where Mom was working. She met him in the ER.

This photo explains the injuries Dad sustained from his ninth venomous snake bite,
this time by a Wisconsin timber rattlesnake in May of 1948,
about six months before he and Mom got married.

Dad's right hand, draped over Mom's shoulder, is bandaged from one of his snake bite experiences.

Mom was never bitten by a venomous snake, but she could very well have been during one incident when a shipment of snakes arrived at home while Dad was on the road lecturing. The shipment was anticipated and was to include a boa constrictor, as I recall. However, when Mom opened the large Styrofoam box's lid and lifted out the sack containing the snake, she could see the shadow of a cobra lifting itself up and flaring out its head inside the bag. Mom quickly and carefully placed the still-closed sack back into the Styrofoam box and affixed its lid. Then, she called the school where Dad was lecturing and left him a message to call her. When she picked me up that day from school, she was still shaking from the experience, even as we shopped at the local A&P Store on the way home.

It didn't take Mom long to become comfortable holding snakes,
as evidenced by this photo from the New York Sport Show in New York City circa 1950.

Needless to say, we always had an ample supply of blue boxes of Wyeth Laboratories' antivenin in our refrigerator in the event of a venomous snake bite. To others, it probably seemed strange to open up the frig, only to find venomous snake antivenin next to the condiments in the refrigerator door, but it was a necessity in our household.

For the years leading up to my birth, Dad "milked" venomous snakes, collecting the venom for the antivenin and selling it to Wyeth. Dad even milked snakes in a store window in downtown Baraboo, which surely must have drawn a crowd.

Dad, milking the venom from the venom sacs of a venomous Timber Rattlesnake.
As always, Mom was by his side.
Note the snake tattoo on Dad's right arm.
Although too small to read, the word next to the snake's head
reads "MOHAVE," meaning the Mojave Desert where Dad got the tattoo during WWII.

As the photo's label shows, this picture gives a close-up view
of how Dad extracted venom from a venomous snake.
The venom was used in antivenin for venomous snake bites.
Note Mom looking through the doorway.

When I was born, which was a surprise to my parents after ten years of marriage, Mom and Dad's lecture tour experience changed. While we continued to tour during my preschool and even kindergarten years, once I was enrolled in elementary school, Mom stayed home with me and resumed her work as a registered nurse and soon as a director of nursing, while Dad toured alone except during my school-year breaks. 

That change in our lives required that Mom learn how to drive. Dad ended up serving as her driving instructor. I recall riding along with them, crouched down on the floor of the backseat playing with my dolls, as Dad coached Mom down the snaky South Shore Road to Devil's Lake State Park. Every time I take that road, even to this day, I can still feel that same excitement for Mom as she deftly negotiated the hairpin turns and went on to get her driver's license at 40 years of age. 

My parents enjoyed a close marriage. They were partners in life in every way. My father requested my mother's wisdom for his every major decision and he respected her career as a nursing professional. In return, my mom gave my dad his work freedom. His months away from home on lecture tour didn't create quantity time for them, but it did foster quality time, and they took every advantage of that time together.

All smiles as Dad, Mom and an unidentified gentleman, at left, deal with a handful.

In the final years of Dad's life, he spent more time at home. During winter evenings, Mom and Dad would enjoy hours in their cozy kitchen playing cards. In the summer, they would sit in lawn chairs in the backyard and look up at the star-studded night sky. Theirs was an unusual marriage compared to those of my little friends' parents when I was growing up, but theirs was a charmed life together and surely a devoted and loving partnership. They showed me each and every day what a successful marriage looks and feels like. I owe them that and so much more.

Happy 70th anniversary, Mom and Dad, with my love always.

Birthday pie amidst a game of cards.
Dad favored pie over cake, so his birthday always featured the pie of his choice.
It looks like pumpkin pie was the preferred choice for his 61st birthday.

In next month's installment, posting on November 21 at 9:00 a.m. central time, I'll cover Dad's early years on what would be his 100th birthday. See you then.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Affirming Words AND Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday: Positive Energy Brings New Opportunities

On this first day of the month and the first Monday of the month, here is a double dose, a double dip—some Affirming Words and some Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday!

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 am overflowing with creativity and positive energy. I attract exciting, new opportunities.

You are a creative being. You have unique talents and gifts that need and deserve to be shared with the world.

Today, this week, this month: Embrace your creative spirit. Feel the positive energy. You are attracting new opportunities!