The Positive Viewpoint

The Most Prized Possessions

The Most Prized Possessions

My mother, now age 98, was always very proud of her home and furnishings.  She and my father collected many beautiful things for their home. A few years after his death, she decided to sell her home and move to a condo.  We helped her decide which items to move and which to sell,  so she was able to keep the most meaningful things.  When she moved in with us years later, we again went through and helped her bring her most prized possessions to our home. The rest were sold.  When she moved to an assisted living facility, she was able to take her bedroom furniture and some of her things there.  We wanted it to look as much like her home as possible.  When she moved a memory care facility, we were able to take most of the bedroom furniture there, but she no longer recognized it as hers.

This week, she was moved to a rehab facility due to a broker leg. The facility furnishes everything so she has no personal items there except her clothing and a few pictures.  She’s doing great, and while she enjoys the photos, her face really lights up when she sees us, her loved ones.  We are the only things that count to her now.  We now recognize that we are really her most prized possessions.

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My No-Cost, Pay-It-Forward, 122 Days of Christmas

My No-Cost, Pay-It-Forward 12 Days of Christmas

Oak Park Christian Ministries Trailer

Today, I visited a food pantry to drop off some extra canned goods from my pantry.  A volunteer, John, greeted me and thanked me for contributing.  When asked, he revealed that he had been volunteering at the Oak Park Christian Ministries food pantry for many years.  He told me about the wonderful, multi-denominational group of volunteers that makes sure there is food and clothing to be distributed to families in need every Wednesday, all year long.   They have only missed two Wednesdays due to snow storms.

This one food pantry alone, serves 60 – 90 families each week.  The families are screened to assure need and they can drop by up to 4 times a year.  Some of the food comes from Dare to Care and some from folks like me and then the food pantry volunteers buy the rest with donated funds.  There is always a demand for diapers, he said. 

The visit reminded me of all the unsung heroes doing their small part to serve those in need, year round.  Every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated.

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Time to Think

Travel time

We take in information, make decisions and solve problems all day.  One would think that we think every waking moment, and we do, but aren’t we just thinking on a surface level?  I think we need to take time out to think.  The thinking I’m thinking about now is much deeper. It’s about stepping back from daily routines and really concentrating.  For me this creative form of thinking takes place as I meditate or take time away from my normal routine.  It helps me to jot down my thoughts so I can think about the thoughts later and delve deeper or put my ideas to work.

I’m not smarter than others or more educated, but I may spend more time thinking and planning than most people. I’m not content just living day to day, week to week, month to month, season to season, year to year, until it’s over.

I mull over how I can live my life better, how I can run my company better, how I can embrace newer technologies, how I can be healthier, how I can be of benefit to others, what’s really important in life, what’s not really important, what it means to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend.

For me, seminars, retreats, meetings and travel bring out the creative part of me.  I better have paper and pen handy.  I love those “Ah-Hah!” moments.  Then it’s time to put thought into action until I get a chance to think some more.

Time to Think

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Tea with Oscar

Oscar our very handsome cat

Oscar is our cat.  He’s black and white and very large for a cat. Cats are such creatures of habit and they manage to train humans to conform to their habits.

When I awake, I know Oscar is waiting for me. Oscar sleeps in the basement stairwell.  He closes the door himself and sleeps behind it so he can see through the glass in the door.  As I pass by the basement door, he gets up and reaches a paw around the edge of the door and pulls it open so he can join me.  Of course, he stretches, lies down and expects me to stoop down and rub his back and head. Then it’s okay with him for me to proceed to the kitchen. Oscar and I have tea together each morning. Actually, I have tea; Oscar has fresh water.

I take my cup of tea and sit down in the family room to catch up on the news and weather.  Oscar loves this part.  He jumps up on the arm of the chair next to me in his best imitation of a circus tiger pose, so he can get his back, head and tummy rubbed.  When he is content with the amount of attention, he gets comfortable on the ottoman and watches TV.  All is well in Oscar’s world.

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From Sunset to Earthset

Sunset

I love sunsets and have watched possibly thousands of them in my lifetime, but one evening I was early for an appointment so I was waiting in my car for a few minutes.  The car was parked in such a way that I had a great view of the setting sun.  It was one of those unobstructed views of a star; the huge red ball we call “the sun.”  Then it hit me – the sun doesn’t move so it couldn’t be setting!

The earth is spinning – we are ones moving.  When I concentrated on it, I could feel myself and the earth moving back away from the sun.  As the earth rotates, there’s an optical illusion that the sun is disappearing over the horizon.  In reality, my location on the earth is moving around, or rising up, hence, “Earthrise” or “Earthset” might be a more correct term.

I wonder what else we accept that can’t possibly be true?

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The Travel Feast

Traveling is a marvelous feast for the senses. Visually we see the shapes and colors of the animals, people, plants, land and water. We are treated to the sounds of nature, vehicles, machinery, voices, accents and languages. The smells that reach us are so varied; from the fragrant flowers to the acrid and pungent odors of manufacturing and farming. We have the opportunity to sample new foods, flavors, local fruits and regional specialties, but the most wonderful travel memories for me are the experiences.

As my husband and I travel, we seek out natives of each area, and try to see their area through their eyes.  They are usually happy to share those special spots they love, with beautiful views, hidden sites and the restaurants where they eat.

It’s hard to believe some of the wonderful experiences we’ve had: exploring a wild cave and a lost river in Kentucky, paddling a river and foraging for mushrooms in Canada, photographing bison up close in North Dakota, 4-wheeling in the desert of Arizona, relaxing in a hot springs on the Mexican border, hiking in the mountains of Colorado, deep sea fishing and swimming with manatees in Florida, snorkeling in Cancun, walking on an active volcano and sailing off Hawaii and watching the sunset from anywhere in the world. We even went to Canada in the winter to see what it looked like covered in snow. We went to the shore of Lake Superior on Christmas Day at 28 degrees below zero Celsius. We didn’t stay long. And then there’s the best experience of all - taking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land; nothing compares to that.

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Past, Present, or Future Thinking

I’ve known people who live in past. They talk about what they’ve done, where they’ve been, who they’ve met and on and on.  That can be pretty boring to other folks.

Some just focus on the present.  They are influenced by the past but choose to concentrate only on today; what’s before them right then; the people with them right now; like nothing else matters.  The danger lies in wasting their lives being in the moment with little or no direction.  Each moment can be enjoyed but little may get accomplished before life is over.

I prefer to think about what I’ve learned and how it does or can impact my life today and in the future.  The past is important and I certainly don’t want to repeat past mistakes but I can’t change the past.  I can only live in the present but what I do today needs to have a positive effect on my life, the lives of those I love, my clients and friends, and those I don’t even know. 

As I think about those who have had a positive influence on me, I remember a teacher who had confidence in my abilities, a boss who taught me how to not be a procrastinator, a counselor who always made me be accountable and not blame others, and my mentors in the Baha’i Faith that showed me a wonderful vision of the future.  The change is happening now, little by little, all over the world, by ordinary people thinking extraordinary thoughts and doing the little things they can to change themselves, have a positive influence on those around them, and thereby change the future. 

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Awakening My Creative Side

Art Creativity

I really can’t draw stick people well, so I have always thought that I wasn’t artistic. That notion changed years ago when I took part in a weekend seminar, working with children in Baha’i children’s classes.  At the very beginning of the seminar, each of us found a chunk of colored beeswax at our place, along with other materials.  We were instructed to make something out of the beeswax.  Thoughts immediately started running through my head:  “I’m not artistic.” “I’m not creative.”  “I don’t know how.”  “I can’t do that.” My fear of being laughed at welled up inside me.

The facilitator further instructed us to hold the beeswax in our hands since it was cold.  She said it would soften up in a few minutes.  I did that part okay. 

Others started making things out of their beeswax, but my mind was a blank.  The “I can’ts” were very strong. I just kept warming.  As I warmed the beeswax, I began to roll it between my palms and it became a ball.  It was purple so I announced I had made a grape.  Well, I thought it was funny, but everyone else was too intent on their creations to notice mine.  So I rolled it between my palms some more until I was a long pencil shape and then I announced it was a snake.  Next I coiled the long piece and magically, the snake morphed into a snail, and I was off and running.

The beeswax figure sat there with me the entire weekend calling to me, forcing me to make it into something else.  By the end of the weekend seminar, my chunk of cold purple beeswax had become a beautiful, delicate tropical fish.

Occasionally, I run into other...

What I Learned From My Father

What I Learned from My Father

 

My father was of German descent but was born here in the year 1900. Those who knew him would say he had a great work ethic, but it went much further than just at work. He derived great pleasure from doing a great job as a Police Reporter for the Courier-Journal newspaper, being punctual, thorough, loyal and dedicated.  

But work was about more than just making a living. He was a planner. He put his money to work for the future of his family. He didn’t procrastinate about doing what needed to be done.  He enjoyed his free time and planned wonderful family vacations for us almost every year. I think he may have enjoyed the planning almost as much as the trip. Then he took great photos so we could always revisit the great memories.

Finding that balance between being responsible with money yet using some of it to enjoy what this great world has to offer, is what we try to do. As we set out our goals for the upcoming year, we set aside time to enjoy this country. You won’t run into us at fancy restaurants, formal affairs, expensive stores, or driving vehicles not paid for. But when we travel, I make sure that I take great photos and journal about the trip, so as we age, we will be able to recall the details and relive the memories, in memory of my father, Ed Merkel.

Ed Merkel

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Fleeting Memories

Fleeting Memories

Memories are our connection to the past.  If we lose our memory, we are forced to live in the present.

I've watched my 97 year old mother lose pieces of her memory, a little at a time.  She's never really been good at remembering the details like dates, times, places, names, etc., but she did enjoy talking about the past in random segments, like episodes of a sitcom that can be viewed in any order.

Now she lives mostly in the present, from meal to meal, activity to activity.  She still knows all her family members and loves us but has little connection with our daily lives.  She's very content; she no longer cares if her shoes and purse don't match, and she rarely bothers to put on jewelry.  Attachment to material items has waned; she no longer recognizes the furniture she's had for most of her life when she comes to visit my home.  Now she just has fleeting memories of times past.  Occasionally good memories pop into her head.  She doesn't dwell on any negatives or losses.

Her life is so simple now.  What she appreciates are the important things in life: smiles, hugs, clouds, sunshine, Fall colors, flowers, birds, a cushioned chair, a helping hand, good food prepared by others, music, laughter and just pure fun.  She appreciates not having to cook, clean, launder, make beds, vacuum or take care of anything.

She worked long and hard in the past to be able to enjoy these golden years of living in the present.

Mother's 97th Birthday

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Spectacular Fall!

SPECTACULAR FALL!

I love Fall in the Louisville area.  The blend of colors is so spectacular!  Normally, the colors orange, red, brown, yellow and rust are my least favorite family of colors, yet I am thrilled by them when used by nature to highlight the trees and shrubs.  When the forest trees are all green, they meld together into one sea of green, but in the most spectaular part of Fall, each tree stands out; its shape distinguishable from its neighboring trees.  Sunshine on the yellow and orange leaves makes them glow as birhgtly as fire.  As the forest underbush dies off, the fallen leaves create a colorful carpet underfoot.  With the lower humidity, the sky becomes a clearer blue and the white, puffy clouds, even whiter.  Spetacular Fall is truly a feast for the eyes!

Spectular Fall trees

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My Geezer Card

My Geezer Card

My husband, who's younger than I, was the one most excited about my 62nd birthday.  It meant I could finally qualify for a "Geezer Card" or Senior pass for the National Parks and Federal Lands.  He announced that this was going to be my birthday gift from him.  Wow, they cost $10.  The only problem was that one must obtain a Senior Pass at a National Park and we don't have one close to our home.  So we had to wait until our next trip, which was to Georgia.  On the way home, we detoured to the Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama to get my card.

I went inside the building and told the Park Ranger I was there to get my "Geezer Card."  He just smiled and asked me to have a seat in the conference room.  He returned with a stack of cards in a rubber band and a form.  He asked for my ID as proof of age (I got carded!), and $10.  (Hmm, my husband was supposed to pay for this.)  The ranger filled out the form and had me sign the back of my card.  At that moment, I officially became a "Geezer!"

Senior Pass

That night we used the card at a Corp. of Engineers Park in Tennessee.  We saved $2 on our campsite.  The next night, we saved $8.25 at Mammoth Cave National Park.  To date, we are $.25 ahead.  We are planning to track our savings over the years.  It doesn't take much to entertain "Geezers."

http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm

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