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.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Feel the Adventure, See the Possibility

It's January! In the northern climes, that means short days, cold nights, and lots and lots of snow (perhaps not this year just yet, but we've just begun the month). I sometimes dream of being a "snow bird," one of those adults who fly south to avoid what January has to dish out in Wisconsin.

But then I think of my childhood and how snow meant only one thing: Play! As a little girl, I loved snow and I loved to play in the snow. There were snow forts to be built, snow angels to be formed, snow-topped hills for sledding (and hot cocoa to follow, complete with marshmallows!), and big expanses of our home's backyard for tromping around. Every snowy day was filled with the possibility for adventure, even when snow crept into my hand-knit mittens, forming an icy crust and turning my wrists pink from exposure.

Snowy Days were meant for playing when I was a child.
When I reached school age, snow was still exciting because there might be an occasional Snow Day when the school buses didn't run and school was called off for the day due to a storm. Our home was set back from the busy highway. Digging out our driveway was a task unto itself. There was adventure everywhere, even in the tougher snow-removal jobs. If we weren't completely dug or plowed out, I would trek through the snowy depths to wait for the school bus, my puffy snow pants making that characteristic swishing sound as I walked.

My mom was still smiling after helping my dad shovel snow from our front door.
These days, I tend to look at snow as less of an adventure and more as an irritant. Snow gets in the way of my going out and about when I want to go out and about. It means loading on extra layers of clothes that make moving more of a chore. It means black ice and slippery sidewalks. It means making winter boots part of my everyday fashion statement. It means mounds of snow in the street that require special navigational skills.

Snow is a novelty in November. It's Currier-and-Ives-Christmas-Card-Beautiful in December. By January, however, I'm already tiring of snow (and you don't even want to know what I think when it's still snowing in March -- or mid-April when we experienced not one, but two snowstorms last year!).

If we didn't have the snow, though, would I love each subtle sign, each increasing minute of daylight, each blade of green grass and each burst of spring? Probably not. I would likely take that loveliness for granted.

So as I contemplate the prospect of snowstorms and blizzards during this rather long, 31-day month, I know deep in my heart that the snow still offers opportunity to me. It might not be in the form of a snow day or a snow fort, but it does offer time for reflection. There is something peaceful about sitting in the silence and watching the black, gray and white world around me where the occasional bright red cardinal darts into the depths of the evergreens outside of our kitchen window.

The snow also offers possibility for recreation. I keep saying I'd like to try snowshoeing, so if and when more snow comes, this might be the year!

It's all about our perspectives, be it a snowy day or something else we perceive as an obstacle or unwelcome experience. How we choose to see our experiences is what they will be to us. When we choose to see the opportunity in our every encounter, the burden of placing a value of good or bad on that encounter fades. Instead, it becomes filled with possibility. 

See the possibilities in your life today.

Every day is filled with possibility!

Sunday Sunshine: Shine!

After conducting an informal survey on social media, I learned that a brief, positive, pick-me-up post on Sunday mornings would potentially be more beneficial to readers of this blog than a Monday morning post. Monday mornings tend to be hectic for many of us, leaving little time to read a blog post while racing around to get ready for the work and school week. So, beginning today, Fresh Thoughts for Your Monday officially ends and will be replaced by Sunday Sunshine. Each Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. Central Time this year, you’ll find a brief post on this blog designed to give you encouraging, affirming, positive thoughts to end your weekend and jump-start your week. So, here’s the first Sunday Sunshine post for 2019:

You've likely heard that biblical passage about not allowing your light to be hidden under a bushel basket. Don't conceal your talents, your abilities and those things that make you uniquely you. The light that is you is meant to be brightly lit and cast out in the open where it can be appreciated.

Perhaps it's shyness that keeps your light flickering. It might be not wanting to stand out for fear that someone will find fault. It might be that you equate shining with showing off. Maybe you're afraid of what your light might do for you -- in positive ways! 

Don't let your negative "head" messages keep you from being your unique and beautiful self. You have so much to offer. Release the shackles of your shyness. Sweep away those inhibitions. Come out from under that bushel basket and shine on!

Today, this week: Let your light shine!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Affirming Words: A New Year! A Clean Slate!

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 look at this new year as a clean slate and an opportunity for new experiences, new adventures and new ways of being and thinking. I welcome this new year!