Sunday, May 26, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Happy Memorial Day

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, always observed in the United States on the last Monday in May. Tomorrow, Americans will honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives while serving our country in military service.

It is because of them and those who continue to serve in our military today that Americans can enjoy the many freedoms and the peace that we are so fortunate to have.

As we reflect on the meaning behind tomorrow's national holiday, may we not only respect the memory of those who have given so much for us--many doing so in the name of peace, but may we also be instruments of peace in our own daily living.

When we focus our energies by breathing in peace and breathing out peace, we change how we think about the people, the things and the circumstances in our lives. Our responses change.

Today, tomorrow, this week: Remember the meaning of Memorial Day by respecting those who have served our country with honor and who have given everything to preserve our freedoms and peace. And remember to be an instrument of peace yourself. 

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: There's Beauty Everywhere

For years, I walked by that short row of arbor vitae evergreens, not paying much attention to them. They were located on my way to the building where I worked. I paid little attention to them because my thoughts were focused on my work day.

Then, one day after I had undergone some profound challenges in my life--my own illness and the passing of my mother, that same row of arbor vitae became new to me. It was then, finally, that I noticed the birds who lived in those arbor vitae. Every morning and every evening when I walked past them, the birds would sing and sing and sing to me. I had finally awakened. I was finally paying attention to the beauty that was around me.

As my eyes and ears became more aware, I started noticing the brilliant setting sun as I left work each evening. I stood, transfixed, looking out the window before an early-morning work meeting, watching the magnificent sunrise.

It was as if everything was new to me and it was beautiful. The challenges and sorrows that I had experienced in my life had given me the gift of opening my eyes, my ears and my heart to the beauty that was all around me.

At times, we admittedly have tunnel vision. We see what we think we need to see. We hear what we think we need to hear. 

Wake up! Look up! Listen up! There's beauty up and down and all around!

Today, this week: Pay attention to what's around you. Experience its beauty with gratitude and awe.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Cultivate Joy

It's that glorious time of year when we till the soil, sow the seeds, and plant what will in just a few weeks become a bountiful harvest of flowers, vegetables and more. 

Whether you sport a green thumb or not, you have the opportunity each and every day to be a gardener, a sower, a cultivator. You have the opportunity to cultivate joy.

Fortunately, cultivating joy is easy. When you view your life as blessing, abundance, grace and love, you tend to feel happier, to feel more joyful. 

Happiness and joy don't just stay within you. Their good energy exudes from you and spreads to others. You cultivate joy, which in turn, gives others joy to cultivate, too.

The great thing is you don't need lots of money, a new car, a fancy house, fashionable clothes or the latest gadget. Most often, our greatest joys come from our ordinary moments. Look for those moments and begin sowing "joy" seeds.

Today, this week: Cultivate joy.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Celebrate Every Day

My five-year-old mind whirled with delight as Miss Rothenbach regaled my kindergarten classmates and me with exciting tales of floral leis, luaus, sugar cane, blue ocean waters and palm trees. Although I had been to as many continental states as I could count on my fingers and toes by that point, I had never heard of a place as exotic as Hawaii. For the next year, it seemed that all I could talk about was Hawaii and how I was going to live there one day. 

By the next year, my parents decided to indulge my continued interest in Hawaii by hosting a Hawaiian-theme birthday party for me. Mom, a prolific note taker, wrote this in a book she kept to record my first seven years: "Birthday party after school. All girls in 1st grade invited. Daddy brought girls out from school. Games in front yard, a supper and then outside to play until 6:00 when Daddy took girls home. Hawaiian theme. Varied colored paper leis and flowers for their hair. Margaret Wilhelm (a dear neighbor and talented friend) brought over her Hawaiian village set up for the table. Keri was a very excited little girl." I can still remember the pastel tissue paper flowers and the fun of pretending that I was in Hawaii, even though I was in our front yard in Wisconsin.

Turning seven years old at my Hawaiian-theme birthday party.

We always celebrated birthdays enthusiastically in our household when I was growing up. My late mom and I often shared those birthday celebrations, especially as I grew older, because our mid-May birthdays were only four days apart.

Our birthday celebrations, however, weren't fancy, lavish or expensive nor were they often filled with big parties. Birthdays for our family were celebrations of life, of blessing and of being together. They were celebrations of the opportunity to experience another year. 

Dad and I both seemed to approve of my birthday cake, showcased on a little table that Dad built for me.
It was a great day to turn two years old.

Now that I have traveled through several decades of birthdays, I have a generous share of memories to reflect upon and I look to future birthdays with gratitude. 

The reality, though, is that every day is cause for celebration, whether a birthday or not. It isn't the cake, the presents or the parties. It's the gift of the new day. 

What would our lives be like if we celebrated each day with the same jubilation we experienced as children when our birthdays rolled around? Think about that one for a little while.

How will you celebrate the blessing of this precious day?

Celebrate each and every day. There you will find the gift.

Sunday Sunshine: Hang onto Hope

It's easy to become disillusioned. Our society seems to be trending more and more toward the uncivil, the thoughtless and the rude. It's natural to ask just what's happening to humanity. Why aren't we nice to each other anymore?

Rather than lose faith in the human spirit, however, hang onto hope. And do something about it. Be the one who extends a hand, who offers a shoulder, who gives a kind word. 

If we want to change the world, that change has to begin with us, even--and especially--when things seem difficult. 

In our every encounter, we can choose to be civil, thoughtful and respectful. We can choose to be loving. We can choose to be kind. Start the trend today.

Today, this week: Hang onto hope. Have faith in the human spirit. Be kind.