Sunday, July 28, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Flow with the Winds of Change

Change - that annoying, exhilarating thing that always seems to be present in our lives. Even when we think that nothing much is new or is changing very much, change is still happening--be it slow, subtle or even outside of our direct notice. 

Sometimes change is fun. We've instigated it so we feel the fruits of our labors when things happen. 

At other times, change is exciting because it comes as a pleasant, unexpected surprise--a gift to disrupt the humdrum predictability of life.

And then, there are those times when change is so unwelcome that we'd like to swiftly close the door on it and prevent it from happening.

It's during those rough spots with change that we need to re-frame our thinking. When we flow with the winds of change, even those winds that feel like a gale or a tornado or a hurricane, we can maneuver the change with greater ease. You may end up somewhere new--perhaps not geographically, but through the way you see things or through the people you meet.

Think about how you respond to change and how you might alter your ways to navigate change's winds more positively.

Today, this week: Flow with the winds of change. They may very well take you to great, new places.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Pursue Your Dreams

We all have hopes and dreams. 

Sometimes, the reality of our lives causes for our dreams to be postponed, cast aside or ignored altogether.

Perhaps you want to write a novel, backpack through Europe, go back to school, take up the piano, move to a big city or to a country retreat, or start a business.

What dreams do you have that are burning to become reality? What step might you take today to help make one of those dreams come true? 

Just one small step will help set you on the path. You can do it! You'll be so glad you did!

Don't look back one day with regret that you didn't give your dreams priority.

Today, this week: Think about the dreams you have for your life. Then, take that crucial first step.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Give of Yourself

Think about those times when you gave of yourself to a charitable cause or to a neighbor, to a fundraising event or to a friend. Perhaps you made a cash contribution. Perhaps you volunteered for an event. Perhaps you offered someone a ride, took a grieving family a casserole, donated a winter coat to a clothing drive, or held a person's hand when he or she was sad and hurting. 

When we look outside of ourselves and reach out to someone else with compassion, love and generosity, there is often a feeling of deep satisfaction and connection. 

And the amazing thing is that when we are generous, that generosity often has a way of coming back to us when we least expect it or in ways that surprise us. The circle of love keeps going around and around.

Look for opportunities to give of yourself every single day. If you can, do so under the radar so that your gift is anonymous. You don't need a pat on the back or to receive credit for your generosity in order for your gift to have meaning. 

Be generous without expecting anything in return. The act of giving is all that's needed to fill your heart. 

Today, this week: Give of yourself. Reach out with love. Have a generous heart.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Fireflies, Fairs and Fireworks - It Must be July

It's July -- that lovely month of long days, hot temperatures and a calendar jam-packed with activities and celebrations. In the rural area where I live, the month's arrival means 4th of July parades and fireworks, outdoor concerts, the county fair and even a parade that celebrates our community's circus heritage. July is simply one party after another!

The Cole Bros. "America" Steam Calliope, an antique circus wagon
preserved by Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
The American circus is a rich part of our country's cultural history.
A parade to celebrate Baraboo's circus heritage takes place in the city each July.

The 4th of July is a red, white and blue day of celebrations, both large and small, of our country's independence. On that day, we remember with gratitude our many freedoms and we celebrate our country and what it stands for through concerts, parades, family reunions and gatherings, fireworks and more. 

As a child, my family's 4th of July celebrations included eating food prepared on the barbecue grill, lighting a few sparklers and watching the little silver wands sizzle like miniature fireworks, and then driving into town to witness the community's big fireworks display, either from the grandstand in the county fairgrounds or high upon a hill in the city hospital's parking lot where we could avoid the crowds and traffic, but enjoy the elaborate light display. At the end of the evening, we might sit in webbed aluminum lawn chairs in our spacious country backyard and watch the fireflies dart around us.

The unincorporated community of Witwen, Wisconsin grows by the thousands on July 4 each year
when a parade lasting more than an hour takes to the main street.
The annual Witwen parade is rural America at its finest.
Following the parade is a bountiful chicken barbecue.

Some of my favorite childhood July memories have to do with the county fair. The fairgrounds are located within the city limits of my hometown, a large green space surrounded by residential neighborhoods and businesses on the community's east side. The fairgrounds' old-time grandstand and white clapboard display buildings harken back to an earlier, simpler time. I love those old structures. 

As a 4-H student, I entered everything from table place settings to posters to centerpieces for judging. I ended up with a rainbow of ribbons, surely not a blue ribbon every time. I learned valuable lessons in responsibility and creativity at a young age, thanks to my 4-H years. 

As a young teen, I even had a vendor booth at the fair where I sold decorative banners, my own creations made of burlap, felt and Naugahyde, as a way to raise funds for a French class trip I was taking to Europe. 

The child in me has always loved amusement rides. My favorite remains the Tilt-a-Whirl. Any ride that scrambles me around (including the Scrambler) suits me well. Roller coasters, not so much. 

The rides, the displays, the animals, the concerts, the ice cream cones and corn dogs, and the fun with family and friends all come together at our county fair -- just like a blue ribbon-winning recipe.

Ride an amusement park ride, check out the 4-H winners,
see the farm animals on display, eat pie and ice cream, hear a concert or watch the tractor pull
at the Sauk County (Wisconsin) Fair each mid-July. 

July is here! How will you relish each of its 31 days? How will you celebrate this glorious summer month and its many events and activities? 

Make memories that will last you through the long winter months ahead and for years and years to come. 

Sunday Sunshine: Build a Bridge, Be a Bridge

While hiking in a verdant, natural area, we suddenly encountered a bright yellow sign emblazoned with the word "bridge" in bold, black capital letters.

Surely, the sign informed hikers and cross-country skiers of an upcoming bridge, but the sign also made me think about the ways we can be bridges, too.

When we choose to be a bridge of love and understanding, we create a safe place for respectful conversation. We serve as a sign to others of a safe crossing for differing ideas and perspectives. We invite others who may think, speak or live differently than we do to be our teachers. We encourage the expansion of our own knowledge and understanding.

Choose to listen with an open mind and heart and invite others to respectfully share their thoughts, their perspectives, their experiences and their talents. Soon the chasms of misunderstanding and fear will be gone. In their place, we will find bridges forming in all directions.

Today, this week: Listen with an open mind and heart. Build bridges of love, respect and understanding.