Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Share Happiness

I read a lovely quote recently, attributed to author John Harrigan: "Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower." So true!

When we choose to embrace happiness in our lives, it's as if we invite the sun to shine on us and to warm our souls.

But when we go one step further and share our happiness with others, it's magic! We transfer that sunshine to others and brighten the world.

And as we intentionally choose happiness and then generously share it with others, those recipients have the opportunity to share happiness, too.

Today, this week: Lift your day and that of another. Choose happiness and generously share it.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Fall's Here!

Tomorrow marks the first day of fall.

Just as the landscape changes during this season, moving from green to a brilliant palette of red, yellow, orange and russet, we, too, have an opportunity to make positive changes in our lives. 

What opportunities do the change of seasons bring to you?

Now's a perfect time to look at the circumstances of your life with new eyes and, after careful examination and consideration, change course, if needed.

Autumn will soon show its brilliant colors. Are you living your own true life, honoring your priorities and values so that your "real colors" show through?

Today, tomorrow, this week, this autumn season: Look to the change of seasons to evaluate your life and then make adjustments that honor your "true colors" -- your real, best self.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Kindness is Always in Season

Our day-to-day lives are packed with tasks. Our datebooks are filled with obligations. Every piece of paper found lying around seems to be ripe for a to-do list. 

Sure, you're in a hurry. You have a lot to do. It's easy to just put your head down and keep on keepin' on.

In your busy life, however, how often do you go out of your way to be kind, especially to a stranger?

Being kind doesn't have to be something big. It can be as simple as holding the door open for someone else. It can be sharing your smile with others as you walk by. It can be allowing someone behind you in the grocery check-out lane to go ahead of you because they have fewer items. It can be a pat on the back that you give your co-worker for a job well done. It can be a high-five you give your child. It can be making yourself totally present to someone who needs a moment of your time.

You may be busy, but you're never too busy to be kind. When you're kind to others, kindness has a lovely way of coming back to you.

Today, this week: Make room each day to be kind. Kindness is always in season. Kindness matters.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Sunday Sunshine: Be Positive

When things go contrary to your plans or when you're given news that you'd rather not hear, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Take another deep breath. Then, try to look for the opportunity amidst the clouds and storms that seem to have entered your life. There's always opportunity during a difficult time.

If you look for the positive aspects in a situation, you increase your chances of seeing the possibilities there. You may have to look a little harder, but they're there.

Embrace the good. Honor the moment in which you are living. As a bonus, your positive energy will attract more positive energy to you.

When your world feels like a rainstorm, lift your face. The sunshine will find you.

Today, this week: Look for the positive. See the possibilities. Lift your face to the sun.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Back to School!

It's the beginning of another school year. Based on all that I hear from those who teach or who have school-age children, the learning experience is far more than the "reading, writing and arithmetic" that dominated my elementary school days. Yet, the joyful anticipation of the new school year is timeless.

All dressed up, loving my kindergarten school year.

I can still recall my excitement in getting a new plastic pencil case, a new box of crayons--perhaps a little bigger with more color choices than the previous year, sharp new pencils and a jar of paste. And speaking of paste, living in the country, I rode the school bus to my elementary school. On the bus was an older boy who had the wonderful first name of Pace. However, from my first-grade perspective, I thought for the longest time that his name was Paste!

The first days of school also meant a new dress. I recall my parents buying me two new dresses for the start of my third-grade school year. They were of an identical sailor design, with a wide collar and bow in front. One was sewn of olive paisley fabric and had a matching little purse, as well as olive green knee socks, while the other was made of light blue and white gingham. 

I can be seen wearing the light blue and white gingham sailor-collar dress in this photo taken during one of the first days of my third-grade school year. (To gain a better understanding as to why I am holding two Eastern Fox Snakes, see my blog post, dated August 21, 2018, My Dad, the Snake Man - Part Two.)

One year, I saved enough of my summer allowance earned from doing daily and weekly chores to help my parents to buy my own skirt and sweater. I'll never forget that outfit or the circumstances behind my buying it. Our downtown business community held an annual event on the last Saturday in July called Old Fashioned Day, when all of the downtown merchants would display discounted merchandise on the sidewalk. There were always huge savings to be had on Old Fashioned Day. With my hard-earned money in hand, we headed to Kiddie Kastle, a popular local children's clothing store on Oak Street next to the First National Bank. There I found a bright turquoise, cream and magenta plaid skirt. Then, lo and behold, on another rack, I found a turquoise turtleneck sweater that perfectly matched the skirt. Although not designed to be a matching outfit, I was able to piece the two discounted items together to create my own matching sweater and skirt set. 

Buying my own school clothing at that time wasn't the only focus of my allowance purchases. When I was 11 years old, I decided to use some of my allowance to buy my mother a new dress for her own back-to-school experience--her 25th year high school reunion in Charles City, Iowa. Once I explained what I wanted to do with some of my allowance, my parents and I headed to Reinking's, a popular store in our downtown that featured women's clothing, lingerie, fabric, sewing patterns and notions. The store had delightfully creaky wood floors, an elaborate black metal grate on the floor that led to the furnace below, dressing rooms in the back, high windows to the north, two side-by-side doors at the front entry, a display window that wrapped around the front and to the side, and an elevated platform where purchases were rung up on an old-fashioned cash register. I loved that store! What Mom ended up selecting there that day was a white linen shift, complete with a brightly colored belt and a matching hot pink, white, bright orange and lime green striped linen jacket--colors that were in vogue at that time. I was so proud to be able to purchase her special outfit for her. I even had enough money left over to buy her one of those big bright daisy pins and matching clip earrings that were popular back then.

My late mother, Barb Naidl, at her class reunion, standing at right.

My mom, second from left, in her new dress at her high school class reunion.

My back-to-school dresses didn't always have to be brand new or from a store. My mother was a wonderful seamstress who made clothes for me all the way through my junior high years, including a favorite sailor dress for my second-grade year. We even had matching mother-and-daughter, red plaid jumpers that we wore with white, long-sleeved blouses that had big loopy bows at the neckline. One year, Mom made me plaid pants with a matching jacket. She transformed her old nursing uniform cape by making a matching cape for my plaid outfit. I also often received lovely hand-me-downs from my older cousin, including dresses for all occasions.

My mom made this sailor dress for my second-grade year.

I attended elementary school in a lovely, old two-story building, called Lyons School. Those enrolled there primarily came from the surrounding neighborhood and were bused in from rural areas. Ours was a small enrollment, with class sizes that averaged no more than 15 students, so we were more like family than schoolmates. Due to the size of the geographical area that the school served and the class sizes, two classes were often housed in the same classroom and taught by the same teacher.

Lyons Elementary School

Lyons School's third and fourth grade classes.
I was in the third grade. I'm seated in the front row, third from the right.
The class sizes were so small that we often paired two classes together in one classroom.
Miss Dorothy Schoonover was our teacher that year. She was busy with two grade levels to teach at once.

Riding the school bus was also a joyful adventure. Our driver, Harold Martin, was a gentle soul who always had a ready smile and kind word. My friend, Chris, and I would often sit together on the bus and sing songs all the way to and from our school day.

Gone might be the simple pleasures and experiences of my school days, but I still feel that same excitement I did more than 50 years ago when a new pencil case, a "new" dress and an apple for the teacher were all I needed to give my school year a report card of straight As.

Wishing you a happy new school year!

Sunday Sunshine: Do Your Best

On this Labor Day weekend, we think about work: our own work and the work of others. Tomorrow, we have an entire day in which to rest, relax and appreciate these 24 hours off from our labors. Perhaps you'll enjoy the day traveling or on a picnic or with family. Perhaps you'll kick back and enjoy the luxury of a good read or a nap.

As you reflect on your work (which can include housework and volunteer work), do you enter into it with enthusiasm and a desire to give your best to the task, to the job?

When we put our whole selves into our labors, we honor the job before us. Each one of us has important work to do, whether it is in the home, in the workplace, in a volunteer setting or elsewhere.

Today, tomorrow, this week: Do your best. Give your work your best effort. Let the fruits of your labors speak for themselves.