PagesPat's Ponderings

Pat's Ponderings

While I may craft a lot, my first love is and always has been writing. Poetry and prose, articles and anthems, I have a say in each and I say it! I have been lucky to be a writer for the Path of Positivity Challenge blog and decided to keep all my Ponderings along the Path here for you to read. I hope you smile, discover and benefit from my rantings (as hubby says). You can view them in their original context at the Path of Positivity.
Thanks for visiting,  Patacake


FAITH, HOPE & LOVE - JUNE 2017
When we are young, we have faith in ourselves and in the world. We believe we can live forever. We have faith in our relationships, especially when we meet that one person that lightens your heart and shares your soul. We hope the relationship lasts an eternity, filled with happy memories and unconditional love.
Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities 
and sudden, startling joys. ~Madeleine L’Engle
FAITH is at the very core of every relationship. When I met my future husband, I fell in love with his smile. As we traveled together down the path of life, my faith in him grew until I fell in LOVE with him. Little did I know that I had no idea what love was, but I learned daily as our journey together continued through the years.
Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer 
to the problem of human existence. ~Erich Fromm
LOVE is the glue that holds a relationship together.  Through the many changes along the path of love - job changes and losses, moving around the country, lifestyle upgrades and downgrades, starting a family, dealing with sickness and surgeries, financial ups and downs and arguments -love holds the relationship together. Sometimes by a thread, but love is strong and mends hurts and worry

PRESENT, NOT PERFECT PONDERING – MAY 2017

Have you ever tried a new technique and didn't like the finished product? Have you ever passed up a challenge because the requirement was something you had very little luck in? Of course you have! We all have.

Just like life, art is not a destination but a journey, and every journey comes with its bumps and detours. Trying new things, taking a new or different artistic path, is how we grow in creativity. Pinterest is no good if you don't try the things you pin to your boards.

Last year I pinned  tons of water color paintings. I decided to try water colors for the first time. Guess what? For every painting I revealed to the crafting world, there were four others that I threw away. Some of the paintings were really just blobs of muddy watery blobs. Others were of unidentifiable animals and flowers. Yeesh!

But I should not have felt awkward sharing my journey. It was a learning experience. Everyone has to start somewhere. Great artists didn't just paint a masterpiece the first time they picked up a brush. We wouldn't have all those lovely works of art hanging in museums if they said at that time, "Oh, brother, maybe I should be a baker."

Nobody is perfect, but we all strive for perfection. Let me tell you, the things that make a work of art, a beautiful face, a career, - it's the tiny imperfections that bother the creator that make their accomplishments stand out at the top.

Apart from art, I want to tell you about my husband. When we first started dating, he would often complain about his crooked teeth. It didn't make him hideous, and I didn't notice they were crooked until  he mentioned it. What I did notice was his smile. When he smiled, my heart melted. I fell in love, and the rest is history (40 years of history). To this day, I fall in love with him again and again when I see that beautiful smile light his face.

I have finally learned to forget perfection and enjoy the ride. Whether my art is a masterpiece or it becomes a great way for starting a campfire, I enjoy every minute of learning something new and creating something handmade. I choose to take a different stretch of the path as much as I can. Am I a great artist? Puh-lease! Am I a happy artist? You bet!

I wish you  all the courage and curiosity to take a different branch in your own journey. Do it often, keep going, and you will discover the amazing talents that never would have blossom if you hadn't explored and experienced.
Happy crafting!


THE BEAUTY OF NATURE PONDERING – APRIL 2017
As I sit here typing on this gray and chilly Spring day, it is a little difficult to be inspired by the "beauty" of nature. The sky is a grey blah, the air is heavy, noises are dulled. Even the birds are quiet.

Of course, a day like today doesn't stop the dog from wanting his walk, so out I go into the vast grayness of the world. And yet...and yet...

The grass is green, I must admit
with crocuses peeking out a bit.
The buds from trees are dropping fast
like mounds of confetti quickly amassed.
The geese are back and walking around
while a woodpecker makes that knocking sound.
Squirrels a plenty run and play
while Wilson chases them all away.
Now it just comes to mind
that you've got to be blind 
to miss all of the beauty
Nature shows to you and me.

I'm lucky to have kept my eyes open and remembered to look up, down and ahead so that I wouldn't miss anything. I'll have to remember to always keep my eyes and ears open while on the path. I wouldn't want to miss out on any of the beauty that Nature offers. 

I wouldn't want to miss out on meeting you!


BIRTH OF NEW BEGINNINGS PONDERING –
 MARCH 2017

Life is a journey with many paths to follow. When you get to the end of one path, you begin to travel a new one. It may be a graduation, a relationship, a new home, a new baby, even a new you! Beginnings can bring happiness, progress and love.
“It's humbling to start fresh. It takes a lot of courage....
You just have to put your ego on a shelf and tell it to be quiet.”
~Jennifer Ritchie Payette
Nature asks us to follow her lead as the trees’ leaves burst into bright colors before falling off as autumn leads to winter. Yet an end to one season brings a new one and the birth of new beginnings – buds on trees, flowers popping up to find the sun. The grass changes its heavy brown coat for a light, bright green one; squirrels and birds wake from their deep slumber. New beginnings are…
“…like entering upon a new stage of life,
having a new world before us from which to receive,
 and upon which to make impressions.”
-Henry James Slack
We look forward on our journey to our new path, but It is unknown, it is change, and some people are scared to lift their feet off the familiar path and start a new one. Don’t be afraid to take that first step, even though…
“There will be boondoggles and discombobulated days, freaked-out nights and metaphorical flat tires.
But it will be soul-smashingly beautiful… It will open up your life.”
― Cheryl Strayed
And who can resist the scent of a new baby? The freedom from classes and grades and professors? The thrill from hearing a lifelong vow of love? The heavenly perfume from a blooming garden? A healthier and happier lifestyle? Change is the very nature of life, and while some paths end, new paths stretch before us, promising a birth of new beginnings. I hope you join us on the Path of Positivity as we all journey through 2017.



EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE PONDERING – FEBRUARY 2017 

Have you ever read the short story “Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry? It’s a story about a young couple just married who are too poor to buy Christmas gifts for each other. So, he pawns his father’s watch that he holds most dear to him, in order to buy combs for his wife’s beautiful hair. Unknowingly, she cuts her hair short in order to buy a chain for her husband’s pocket watch. Imagine their surprise when they each open their gifts! What a unique and wondrous expression of love they showed for one another! You can read the full story HERE.

My husband and I have been married for forty years. I love him and he loves me. Yet I can count on two hands the times he’s actually said the words, “I love you.” It used to bother me, but not anymore. I know he loves me for all the non-verbal ways he’s expressed his love.

Years ago, when his lack of those three little words still hurt me, I started a journal of sorts. It was a book of lists – things for which I am grateful, places I would like to travel to, people who have touched my life in a positive way, etc. Whatever popped into my head, I would make a list. I am a list-driven person and find I can get more things cleaned, organized, created or finished by making lists.

So I picked up my handy dandy notebook (Blue’s Clues fans will get the reference) and created a list of all the ways my husband expressed his love without saying those three little words, things like taking out the garbage, ordering takeout on my busy days, popping into the craft room out of the blue and giving me a hug.
There were so many ways that screamed ‘I LOVE YOU” that I got to the end of the page and could still think of more!

Expressions of love can be spoken, felt, written, wrapped, or baked. They can be subtle, like the Post-It note with positive affirmations that my daughter left for me on the bathroom mirror, or the decorated chocolate cookie cake I had made for hubby, telling him he was going to be a daddy for the first time. They can also hit you on the head like a bouquet of flowers, a romantic getaway, or a marriage proposal. Expressions of love can be anything you think of that lets the other person know that he or she is loved.

I like to create little expressions in my craft room to let my loved ones know how much I care for them. I have created journals for my daughter, cards for my husband, photo and scrapbook albums for my mom and canvases for my sisters. My friends have received homemade treat boxes filled with cookies or fudge I made.

I left one of my expressions of love until last – the love I have for my fellow citizens of the world. I appreciate what I have and share it by donating canned goods to my local food pantry. From 5K Walks (there is no way I can run even 1K without passing out) to serving up dinner at my local soup kitchen, I remember to express my love for all people. Of course, pets are “people” too, and I volunteer at our local Buddy Foundation and donate when I can to No-Kill shelters.

But enough about me! Have you been frustrated by the absence of those three little words, too? Or do YOU have trouble saying “I love you”? What are some ways you have expressed your love or have been on the receiving end? Try to recognize and share the love you find and feel on your own path through life. Enjoy your journey!

THE ROAD AHEAD PONDERING – JANUARY 2017 

The old year has run its last race, and a new path lies before us -- 2017. The year 2016 brought us winners and losers, bumps and surprises, laughter and tears, adventures and comforts. It was a unique year, as is every year making its exit.
The road ahead fills us with determination, with anticipation, with hope. It's like newly-fallen snow - no footsteps breaking the endless white expanse (which is a great analogy when you live in the northern hemisphere during winter). Now is the time to dream big dreams, make plans and reach your goals.
Dream Your Dreams:
I like to start the year off making a list of all the things I would like to do this year. No matter how outrageous (take a trip to Germany) nor how trivial (start meditating each morning), I list them all out and then, sort them into different sections, like Travel, Creativity, Family & Friends, Education, Health, etc. Once sorted, I ruthlessly number them from one to whatever, by the priority in which you would like to do them. For me, I work better numbering from the least important to the most important. Say for instance I have “Go dog sledding in Vermont” in my Travel section. I would probably prioritize this as last, since I would much rather visit my sister in Germany or vacation in Cozumel, Mexico. Remember, these re dreams, so anything goes!
Make Plans:
Once I have my lists sorted by which I would like to do soonest, I tackle the first couple in each section. Any goal is possible if broken down into steps, so I decide things like: does it cost money and how much? Do I need anyone else to accomplish my goal? Do I need supplies like a computer, a gym membership, etc? How much time will it take out of my day (say I want to learn Tai Chi at the park district)? Do I need to build up to this goal (like losing weight)? Finally, what’s stopping me from doing this RIGHT NOW?
Reach Your Goals:
By breaking each goals into steps, you will succeed. Even if you backslide, you won’t fall down those steps and give up. Just stop and take a breath before tackling each step, one at a time. And don’t forget to reward yourself.
Here’s a peek at mine:
·       Travel: Plan a couple weekend getaways with husband and daughter.
1.    Pick a place to stay
2.    Check dates and availability
3.    $$= Holiday Inn points for cheaper rates
4.    Mark calendar & don’t double-book yourself
5.    Pack bags and drive
·       Education: Learn German.
1.    Start with CDs and workbook (already have)
2.    Play in car on drives to Hines.
3.    Go to German blogs for practice reading.
4.    Check community college for classes.

These are just a couple of the things I’ve dreamed of accomplishing this year. Where will your dreams take you? What will you accomplish as you journey down your path?

Wherever you go, good luck and have fun!


____________________________________________________
I scheduled this for Friday, December 23rd. Hope this is okay!

BLESSINGS PONDERING – DECEMBER 2016 
My dad always said that we were part Irish - our big toes! He meant that there was just a smidge of Irish in me and my sisters. Taking my Irish heritage to heart, I've made a list of Irish Blessings (and a few others) for you this week. May you find one that fills your heart with love and thankfulness, recognizing your own personal blessings.  

A sunbeam to warm you,
A moonbeam to charm you,
A sheltering angel, so nothing can harm you.

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!

May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it.

May the lights of Hanukkah usher in 
a better world for all humankind.  

May you have warm words on a cool evening, a full moon on a dark night, 
and a smooth road all the way to your door.

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks
May your heart be as light as a song
May each day bring you bright
Happy hours that stay with you all the year long.

As you slide down the banister of life, 
may the splinters never point your way.

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.

Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame
Blessed is the flame that burns in the secret fastness of the heart
~Hannah Senesh

May you always have work for your hands to do.
May your pockets hold always a coin or two.
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane.
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you each morning and night.

May flowers always line your path and sunshine light your day.
May songbirds serenade you every step along the way.
May a rainbow run beside you in a sky that's always blue.
And may happiness fill your heart each day your whole life through.

May Peace be your gift at Christmas, 
and your blessing all year through!



APPRECIATION PONDERING – NOVEMBER 2016
Walking through the forest recently, I was about to pass a fallen tree when I paused to really look at this unexpected gift of nature. The trunk was massive, lying like a submarine lying stealthily along the ocean's bottom. Covered with thick moss, what little sunlight that fought its way through the partly cloudy skies and the bare branches of the trees pulled a host of colors from the tree's coarse bark. The longer I looked at this fallen soldier, the more he revealed to me. Colors, shading, insects scurrying along its spine, old cuts long healed...Some time later, I left the forest with a smile on my face. I felt blessed to have stumbled upon such beauty on my walk in the forest. I left with a better appreciation for the planet and how connected we all are. 
It's difficult to really appreciate things if you don't take the time and energy to do so. Appreciation takes time. If you go through life at the speed of a bullet, you won't be able to see things that make that life valuable. If you live in the past, which, let's face it, is history; if you angst and anticipate the future, which is not guaranteed for you, then you will have wasted the amazing and unique present. 
Appreciation takes awareness. Be mindful of the wonders that surround you. Open your eyes and fill them with the dazzling colors and fluid movement of what you see. Taste the puckering zing of a dill pickle, the burst of tartness from your apple, the frozen sweetness of your ice cream. Run your fingers through the silkiness of your cat's fur and the warm scratchiness of its tongue. Open your ears to the tinkling of a child's laughter and the noisy knocking of a neighboring woodpecker. Breathe in the crisp Autumn air and the pungent spiciness of mulled wine. 
Live in the moment, because that's all we really have. Don't text while walking your dog - do look around you. Don't use the TV as your grandchildren's babysitter - do get down on the floor and play with them. Don't rush through your lunch to get back to work - do savor the taste of each bite. Appreciate your life along the path with all its pleasures, discoveries and mysteries, as I appreciate mine and the bits of time we share together along the way. 


FRIENDSHIP PONDERING – OCTOBER 2016
     When you think of friends in your life, they’re most likely of the two-footed variety. Last year, my family rescued a seven-year-old Silkie Terrier. He has become a beloved friend to us, and especially to me. My life has a lot of stress at the moment, with no end in sight, at least in the near future. Somehow he knows when I need a snuggle or to get off my butt and take a brisk walk. Lest we forget our furry BFFs, my pondering today will take you on a virtual walk with Wilson, my intrepid companion and loyal friend.
Wilson and I both love the exercise, but we have different agendas. He chases squirrels and birds, I keep my eyes open for the unusual. And we are never disappointed. 
So as we started “down the path,” my phone in hand. We never know what we'll discover. Wilson found a good spot to "mark his territory." Looks like the neighborhood spiders are decorating early for Halloween.

I spied the biggest mushroom, I mean fungus, I have ever seen in my life (not edible, darn it. I do love mushrooms, but they are poisonous to Wilson, so on we marched.
This fungus is truly humongous!! It's about eight feet up the tree, and that tree is probably over a hundred years old! The only reason Wilson noticed it was because he had chased a fat but very quick squirrel up the tree. 
Close by, we discovered an evergreen tree growing in an oak tree, where the tree trunk originally branched out many years ago. It's like a foster child being taken care of by another family.
Curiouser and curiouser...
We hit the park next, and just for grins I wondered if Wilson would like a little time in the toddler swing. He didn't, but I managed to get somewhat of a photo.
To be honest, the only reason he stayed in the swing long enough for me to take this horrible picture was the treat I held in my other hand. Great shot of him looking longingly off camera, huh? The things friends will do for each other...
Back on the path, we discovered that the moon was in the western sky, while the sun was lazing its way from the east. Silkie Terriers are not "howlers," but lots of friends have different tastes in music, right?
Did you know that when the moon and the sun share the sky, fairies and gnomes can go about their business invisible to human eyes? My camera is a special one, though, able to catch certain "mythical" creatures in their natural habitat.
I managed to catch this friendly gnome preparing his winter retreat in the hollow of a tree. Somehow, Wilson missed him, but I pointed him out before we continued. 
The fairy, however, changed herself into a Monarch Moth just as I was clicking my camera button. Wilson definitely saw her, but was unable to eat, I mean catch, her before she flew off. 
We finished off our walk with a vigorous sprint into the house and straight to his food bowl, which I filled for him lickety-split. There's nothing better than sharing a meal with your BFF (but I wouldn't recommend it if your friend is on a "special" diet like Wilson).

I can't wait to share another walk along the path with my BFF, ready for whatever treasures we discover along the way. And the path is often best trod in the company of friends, whether they have two legs or four. 
Besides, it’s best to share treasure with someone else, and it might as well be a good friend! 



LUCK PONDERING – SEPTEMBER 2016
Would you consider yourself a lucky person? For me, luck is all a matter of perspective. A large family living in a two bedroom apartment in a not-so-nice neighborhood would think they had bad luck. A family living out of their car would consider the others the lucky ones. And the man sleeping in the forest preserves would wonder what they have to complain about. Perspective.
When I feel that Lady Luck has personally got a vendetta against me, I take pencil and paper in hand to create an “Awful Scale.” The Awful Scale is my way of gaining perspective. Here’s how to make one for yourself:
Go down the page writing numbers from 1 through 50. Next, choose somewhere on your list to write the situation or event that makes you feel “not so blessed” in the luck department. Then think of other bad things that you would not want to happen to you. For me, it would be losing my husband or kids in a car accident. What bad things might happen to you at this point in your life – losing your house, getting a divorce, getting a terminal illness? Figure out where you want them numbered. Add to that the things that would be only slightly irritating? For me, it would be a bad hair day, stubbing my toe, missing my favorite TV show. Place them somewhere on your Awful Scale.
Keep filing up all those blank spaces. Think of all those times you got frustrated, when things didn’t go your way, when the unexpected threw you for a loop. Write in things from your own “what if…” imaginings. You can change your list items around if you need to (that’s why I use a pencil with an eraser).
How does your present “unlucky” situation look now?   How does it compare to the rest of those awful things? Creating an Awful Scale puts things in perspective. And having perspective allows a person to see how really lucky they are.
So, as we walk the Path of Positivity today, I consider myself lucky to have you as a companion. I want to leave you with some very wise words from a favorite author that fits perfectly with our theme:
When you think things are bad,
When you feel sour and blue,
When you start to get mad…
You should do what I do…
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
You’re really quite lucky!
Some people are much more…
Oh, ever so much more…
Oh muchly, much-much more
unlucky than you!
~Dr. Suess




CONFIDENCE PONDERING – JULY 2016
Confidence is the WISDOM to recognize the unique talents that you possess, alertness to OPPORTUNITIES when they present themselves, COURAGE to actively pursue those opportunities, PATIENCE to plod trough the tedious periods, and DETERMINATION to overturn the negative reactions of others.
Many people cannot recognize their own talents. My daughter was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and with the help with caring professionals was taught how to deal with the emotional aggressiveness of her condition by recognizing and building upon her own talents. Her love of words was a powerful talent for battling, reducing and often block a panic attack from starting by journaling.
If you come up blank when asked where your talents lie, ask your friends. Ask your family. They won’t have to filter their answers. Most people recognize talent in others before their do their own. If you can’t make a list of things you’re good (or great) at, ask them to do it. You may be surprised, or you may just wake up to something you already knew. Even marathon runners have a team of supporters to cheer them on.
Meanwhile, opportunities abound for those who are alert to them. Spontaneous conversations can lead to job opportunities, contest entries and new relationships. While on the path to your dreams and goals, don’t just stare straight forward, looking for that finish line. Keeping your eyes and ears open can often point the way to new opportunities, like when my daughter, while surfing the web, hit on a list of contests for writers and poets. There it was - the opportunity to share her experiences and emotions.
Of course, it takes courage to snatch an opportunity when it appears. Listening is not enough. One must open one’s mouth to make a comment, ask a question, or just express interest in the conversation. One must check out a linked website or Google for more information. One must make that leap of faith from passivity to action. You must take that first step, and keep moving your feet. My daughter’s desire to help educate others forced her to come out of her shell and be courageous enough to let others see the talent she possesses. She was soon sending out and emailing her entries on a regular basis.
No accomplishment comes without patience and determination. Just because you start a diet today doesn’t mean you’ll lose weight by tomorrow, and some hiring companies take months before sending out letters with offers or regrets. Contest periods could last up to a year, so the more you enter, the more time will fly by (and the more chance you have of winning). And while I believe in love at first sight, it pays to get to know a prospective soul mate in all aspects of their life. As my daughter patiently checked the status with those contests she had already entered, she was also discovering and entering more contests and competitions, which inspired her to keep writing (see the domino effect here?).

Determination is definitely the game winner. No matter the stumbling blocks in your path toward success, you just have to keep on traveling toward your destination. For every rejection letter you receive, send out two more entries. For every “first-and-only” dates you go on, keep meeting new people and stay upbeat. Every failure means you’re wiser and more alert, patient and determined, as long as you forge ahead. Learn from mistakes, pick up the pace and strive for that finish line. Determined to share her poetry with those afflicted with similar experiences and those who were ignorant to the symptoms of anxiety disorders, my daughter would never have received her first acceptance letter. She is now a published author, and I couldn’t be more proud of her budding confidence and her amazing accomplishments.
________________________________________
uploaded:


ACHIEVEMENT PONDERING – JUNE 2016
Have you ever noticed a person who ignores or argues a compliment? …a student not satisfied with the good grades he or she is getting? …a woman who sees herself as fat no matter what she weighs or how much she’s lost? We’ve all met people like this; in fact, we may be a person like this! All these beautiful achievements being ignored or denied through a lack of self-love!
It’s time to give yourself a big hug. It’s time to celebrate your achievements instead of refusing to acknowledge them. It’s time to step onto the path of positivity, setting a pace of self-forgiveness and self-love. Of course, taking that first step seems almost impossible, but a body (and a mind) in motion tends to stay in motion. All you need is a little push. So today, think of me as your trainer.
According to Gabrielle Bernstein, a New York Times best-seller, she insists that we all must witness our fears, be willing to change our perceptions, be grateful, forgive ourselves, and expect miracles. (Bernstein, Gabrielle. May Cause Miracles: A 40-day Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Change and Unlimited Happiness. New York: Harmony, 2013.)  
By witnessing our fears, we understand why we don’t love ourselves. My own fear is that I may sound too prideful or arrogant, an attitude learned as a child. We learn as children to be humble, but often that can morph into self-effacement.
I want to change my perception of the way I see my achievements. I can do this by listening to the people I love. They can identify and applaud those accomplish I deny. Do I feel they’re lying or just being nice? No, I think they love me more than I love myself! That has got to change!
Gratefulness is something everyone needs to practice. I have gone to bed counting my blessings for years, but it wasn’t until last summer that I realized that the some of the things for which I am grateful are gifts I was given, whether it was written in my DNA or a skill or talent that I (me, myself) worked to become proficient at.  In other words, an achievement I did not give credence to until then.
Every master was once an apprentice. I read that some famous artists used to paint over more canvases than they showed. I am learning how to water color, and for every painting I create, I throw at least one away (hey, just like the masters!) It used to dig at my self-confidence, but by forgiving myself for failures, I can become more successful.
believe in miracles—they happen every day! In fact, I look for signs of miracles all the time. It could be a sunny day when a picnic is planned, or a job hire when you thought the odds were against you. Personally, my husband lost his job just before Christmas, and a couple months afterwards, he received a diagnosis that ended his ability to work again. In researching his illness, I have read stories of survival well past the “normal time you have” prognoses given by his doctors. I expect a miracle in that I can enjoy my life past our fortieth anniversary this year. Regardless if this comes true or not, I will live and love him every day I have left with him.
No matter where your life has led you and continues to lead you, you have worked at and achieved things in your life. Don’t deny them, don’t unconsciously call your friends liars by refuting their compliments, don’t live an unhappy life when you can take charge and realize your strengths, your courage, your talents and your achievements. You deserve it! You are worth the effort! Go for the gold!



EMPATHY PONDERING -- MAY
Empathy is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Unlike sympathy, which are “feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune”, empathy is the ability to project yourself into another person’s situation.
In words, it is the difference between “I’m so sorry for your loss” instead of “I lost my dad in the Springtime, too. Do you want to talk about it?”
In actions, it is the difference between crying for someone and crying with someone.
In thoughts, it’s the difference between trying to get even with someone who has hurt you vs. trying to understand their situation.
We must try to walk the Path of Life with sensitivity and a soft heart. In the world we live in, that is to say we must try to walk with courage. The courage to feel what our fellow walkers are feeling, the courage to give a damn, the courage to be outraged over injustice and cruelty and hopelessness.
As we travel down the Path, we should walk with the people we love in their fear and sadness. We should try to offer them the understanding and healing they need by letting them know they are not alone. That’s all we can ever do, and I hope it’s enough.
Hope to meet up with you on the Path some day!



2014

GENEROSITY - January
There are many definitions of generosity.  It is described as "the quality of being kind and understanding and putting others before yourself;"..."it is given willingly." (Merriam-Webster and Vocabulary.com)  Generosity can involve many things:  money, possessions, time, attention, encouragement, and more.  Here is what I think generosity is:
  • When you leave a tip for the waitress even if she didn’t give the service you thought you deserved, because everyone has a bad day now and then, that's generosity.
  • When you toss your leftover change into the Salvation Army bucket instead of taking it home to put into your vacation savings bank, that's generosity.
  • When you pay it forward in the drive-through at a fast food restaurant to “treat” the driver behind you, that's generosity.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of time volunteering at a food depository or donating money that should go to bills.  But that doesn’t stop me from being generous!  The path of generosity isn’t finished in one giant leap but in small steps; even when the going seems to be taking forever, you do eventually reach your goal.

So if you can’t give money, give your time; if you can’t feed an army, feed a family; if you can’t help a stranger, help your neighbor.

And if you can’t give any of these things, be generous in spirit.  Forgive someone for an act that may have hurt you.  Give others shared credit no matter how little they contributed.  Refuse to gossip about a friend or co-worker.  Pay a compliment to someone who has low self-esteem.  You may not cure world hunger or earn a plaque from a major charity, but you will make someone happy, and happy people can’t help but share their well-being with others.  Just think what you may start with that small act of generosity on your part!
Patacake

WISDOM - May

God grant me the serenity 

to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference...

    -From the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

Wisdom is not just about being smart, nor is it about having all the answers.  It is determining what to do with what you know, what you’ve learned from your experiences and what your gut feelings are telling you. Knowing what is coming is not enough -- you must anticipate the consequences as well.  Knowing what must be done is only the beginning- you must have the courage and determination to do it.

Some people are math whizzes, some write eloquently, and some have lightning-fast reasoning. Not all these people are wise, but I think they can be.  I think wisdom is another path in our own self-discovery. Learning from mistakes and applying knowledge with experience are stepping stones to becoming wiser.  Patience, responsibility and experimentation are the wildflowers that make our paths sweet-smelling and colorful.  I think we can all be wise if we let ourselves wander up this path. I’d love to find you there waiting for me when I finish my course. If I don’t, no worries-- I’ll wait for you!
Patacake


HAPPINESS - June
There are a multitude of self-help books out there, and I have been flipping through several in the last few months (library sale). Everyone has an opinion (and apparently a book) on how to parent, organize, slim down, tone up, find happiness, etc. My family has been subjected to my involvement in these books and articles. They’ve watched me take inventory of all the food in my fridge, freezer and pantry (that lasted two weeks). They’ve helped carry out bags of donations from my closet purges (after plundering for things they wanted to keep). They’ve run from the smells coming from my blender as I tried juicing to “clean out” the unhealthy foods still in my system (that lasted two days).
The more I read, the more I like the Buddhist way of living (and my family appreciates the break in “improvements”). I really think that by striving toward a peaceful, positive life, happiness will just come naturally.

Here are some great tips for achieving happiness no matter who you are or where you live:
  • Spend time with nice people who reflect the person you would like to be. Choose friends who make your day a little brighter just by being in it. Weed out those who use or neglect you; let them go without regret and what you’ll have left are people you can count on.
  • Everyone deserves kindness. Treat everyone with the same level of respect and patience as you would like to be treated yourself. Be happy for them; cheer them on; be thankful for their blessings. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships; they might just change your life forever.
  • Find the courage to be yourself. You are not perfect for everyone, but you are perfect for those who love you for who you are.
  • Let go of resentment. Forgiveness isn’t accepting hurtful behavior but facing the hurt and not letting it ruin your life.
  • Arguments don’t have to end with someone winning and someone losing; no matter what you say, there will always be a person who thinks differently. Let it go.
  • And finally, doing little things for others can make big differences in their lives and yours. You’ll be so busy making others happy that karma will bring it right back to you!
These suggestions are a lot less extreme than those I’ve recently tried, and more often than not, I find happiness a more frequent companion on my path. I hope you do, too.
Patacake


POSSIBILITY - August
"It’s hard to stay positive when we are bombarded with negativity from TV, newspapers, websites and social media. Fortunately, there is escape from the negativity. Challenges met, goals achieved, laughter shared, and positive reinforcement from friends, family and blogs like ours that radiate positivity like beacons in the night. The possibilities are endless!

It all comes down to choices. We can choose to moan about the world’s woes, or we can do something about them. We can tune in to feel-good news and be assured that hope is always out there. We can pity the homeless or we can volunteer at soup kitchens and food pantries. We can veg on the couch or take up a hobby that may just turn into a passion.

Open your eyes to the possibilities of positivity, because they’re right in front of your nose…a sunny day, a child’s laughter, an unexpected call from a friend. Turn this around and you can spread the positivity to others by calling a friend, smiling while you shop, donating time to a good cause.

Possibilities create action. It takes practice to recognize possibilities and determination to act on them. Every path has several forks on the way. It is up to you to choose wisely, step forward and maintain a steady pace. Sure, there are obstacles along the way, but you can turn them into learning experiences, inspiration and the opportunity to clear the path for others.


All you have to do is take that first step. Possibilities lead to opportunities; opportunities lead to action..action leads to possibilities…and the circle is endless."
Patacake

DETERMINATION - September
Every plan, every goal, every little thing a person wants out of life starts with DETERMINATION, followed by that dreadful word, WORK. It’s easy to wish for a better job, someone to share your life, money for that trip you’ve always wanted to take-- it’s more difficult to make that happen. That’s where determination comes in.
Determination is described as firmness of purpose (Google) or the quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult for you. In order to achieve your goals, you must start with a plan:
  1. Determine exactly what it is you want to do or to have
  2. Understand what you need to make this happen
  3. Make short term goals toward your major goal
  4. Research exactly what, when and where you want your goal to happen
  5. Celebrate your short term goals
  6. Re-evaluate how much you want/need this goal
  7. Find like-minded people who are working toward their own goals
For instance, I was determined to teach myself water color painting:
  1. I wanted to paint with a medium I had never tried, and to create paintings I’d be proud enough to put my name on.
  2. I had enough brushes, I just needed some paints and papers and instruction.
  3. I bought supplies, carved out time to watch YouTube videos, and started with painting backgrounds using techniques I had seen online.
  4. Reading through library books I had borrowed, I painted 2-3 times a week, trying different methods, using different papers.
  5. I learned some pretty cool techniques and learned how the paint interacts with water. I posted my attempts on my blog and received advice and encouragement there.
  6. I purchased liquid paints and real watercolor paper. I started seeing focal points in the backgrounds I painted. I felt happy when I painted.
  7. I joined a Facebook group whose artists use all kinds of media, including water colors. I get a lot of guidance and inspiration from members there.
I have seen improvement in my art, have grown from simple backgrounds to painting waterscapes and taking inspiration from photos I have taken, and have signed my name to some of my finished projects. I continue to practice, brushes in hand.

Remember, determination is a quality that you can strengthen with practice. I am determined to keep improving on my water colors, and to celebrate the learning process as much as the finished canvases! Hope to see you along the way as your determination paves the path toward your goals! Above you will find one of my latest watercolors. I used Copic marker and white gel pen for the quote.
“Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” ~William James
Patacake

COURAGE - October
“One isn’t necessarily born with Courage, but one is born with potential. 
Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. 
We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”
This quote from Maya Angelou struck me like an arrow shot to my heart. Everyone has the potential to be courageous. Everyone! It’s only a matter of believing in yourself, of taking that first step, offering that initial “hello” to a stranger, sending in that first manuscript to a publisher.
It’s only a matter of determination that convinces you that one failure doesn’t prove anything, that your first canvas doesn’t mean you haven’t got a masterpiece in you, that one unsuccessful job interview doesn't mean you’ll be unemployed all your life.
Life is full of stumbling blocks. Your attitude toward them will either keep you on the path or trip you up. By continuing the journey, by putting one foot in front of the other, you strengthen your courage. By remembering that the journey is as important as the end, you practice the art of positivity. By keeping positive, you will not only reach journey’s end, but enjoy everything life has for you along the way. 

So take heart, tighten those shoestrings, and delve deep into the woods. Follow your own unique path, practicing kindness, honesty, mercy and generosity. I hope to cross paths with you along the way!
Patacake


FAITH - December
Faith is a tricky thing. To have faith is to put your trust in something you cannot see, cannot feel, cannot touch. To keep faith you must be willing to let go of control.
I have faith, but it takes a mighty effort to keep it. I like to be the driver on my path of life; it’s very difficult to sit on your hands and let others do the driving. And yet I cannot be in control every second of the day. I cannot steer confidently onto unknown branches of an unlit path. 
For those moments, which come up more often than not, I have to consciously let go, with a little help from Reinhold Niebuhr. His Serenity Prayer is all about faith: 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change what can be changed, 
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

This prayer is on my lips when I wake in the morning, and when I go to bed at night (and when I’m having a stressful day). I have faith that what I accept as out of my control will turn out well, if not for me, then in the “big picture.” I have faith that courage will seize me when I need to step up and take control (or keep it). I have faith that I will be inspired to know the difference. 
I have faith that my attitude in life will keep my feet steady as I walk the path of positivity. I hope to run into you on my way.
Patacake


2015
UNIQUENESS - January
Today let’s talk about uniqueness, and the path we trod to get there.
When we’re very young, we are sure that the world revolves around us. When we sleep, everything stops until we wake up. As we grow older, it’s totally natural to act and think like our families. As we age, our world opens up to many different perspectives and beliefs. We naturally start breaking away from family and into peer groups. Everyone follows these stages on their way to individualism. It’s a slow but (hopefully) steady journey toward our adult selves—unique beings who can stand on our own two feet. We may choose to follow in another’s footprints, but we know we can blaze our own trails as well. We can dance like the rest of them, but can also “travel to the beat of a different drum.”
More often than not, our journey is blocked by advice or criticism -- “act your age,” “keep up with the others,” “color in the lines,”  “try to act normal.” That’s when the famous quote by … is helpful: “To thine own self be true.” Don’t let these “suggestions” slow you down or cause you to stumble. It’s easy to take a shortcut and end up like all the others. It’s more difficult but far more valuable to climb over these opinionated obstacles.
Listen to your heart. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions. Be true to yourself. Value the “you-ness” of YOU. And by all means, color outside the lines!
Patacake

LAUGHTER - February
Laughter is infectious! Have you ever been in a sour mood and the company you kept eased you right out of it with their funny stories and laughter? So many times I have started out an evening with my sisters in a cranky mood. By the end of the day, we have talked and laughed over our work encounters, medical issues and shared past. Often one of us will start laughing and one by one we’ll all end up crying and howling with laughter (and sometimes we forget what started us off). 
Laughter puts you in a better mood! Have you ever come home stressed from your work day, turned on the TV and found yourself sloughing off those bad vibes as you laughed at your show? There’s a reason why there are so many “sit-coms” (short for situation comedies) on TV. The laughter generated from sitcoms and stand-up comedy shows helps us to deal with stress, to be kind to others, and, on the part of those sitcoms, to purchase from their sponsors!
Laughter is the best medicine. Studies have shown that people heal faster and handle serious medical side effects when they get their daily dose of humor. The movie “Patch Adams,” about a doctor who used humor as part of patients’ recovery regimens, was based off a true story.
Humankind is hard-wired to smile often! It takes a lot of facial muscles to manage a frown; but a smile takes only a few. Why waste all that genetic material? Share a smile with a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, even a stranger. It’s the easiest show of good will you can offer others (it’s free and it often takes them by surprise).

So, remember, as you trip along the path of positivity, you can give yourself and others a brighter stretch of sunshine if you keep a smile on your face and in your heart. I’m sure I’ll see you somewhere along the way. Just follow the sound of my laughter!
Patacake

SERENDIPITY - March
 ser·en·dip·i·ty, ˌserənˈdipədē/, noun
Chances are, when you hear someone ask, “What are the chances that…?” you’re looking serendipity straight in the eye. Serendipity is defined as the “unsought, unintended and/or unexpected discovery, learning experience or good fortune.”  
Life is full of serendipity, which I truly believe is destiny’s way of saying “Okay, your life is all planned out, except…” Or maybe it’s destiny giving you that ultimate ah-ha moment.

Whatever it is, I bless the times, small and large, in my life where serendipity had a hand…
…like when I was stationed at Fort Ord in the motor pool and my co-worker’s best friend just happened to be single and just happened to end up married to me for the past 38 years (large)…
…or when I passed up a primo parking spot at a busy WalMart to give it to an elderly couple, and when I found a spot, the car parked in front of me backed up and drove off, and I pulled up for a nice clean “getaway” after my shopping was finished (small).

Four-leaf clovers, rainbows, shootings stars--when you find them, check over your shoulder and you’ll see serendipity winking at you. When life hands you lemons, who do you think is there beside you with a pitcher and a lot of sugar (and a twinkle in her eye)? She knows better than you what you really need. 
Serendipity is all about fortune, luck, providence, happy chance. So, the next time you miss that appointment, get stuck at a long light, trip over someone’s bag…be open to whatever comes your way. It may change your whole life, for the better!

That's all for now. You never know when our paths will cross, all because of a little serendipity! 
P.S. Great movies that feature serendipity in action:
Serendipity starring John Cusack
Mr. Destiny starring Jim Belushi and Michael Caine
Sleepless in Seattle starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks
Big Business starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin
            What’s Up, Doc? With Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal

(Even the classic Little Women has its serendipitous moments)
Patacake

GROWTH - APRIL
When I was growing up, there was a closet door in our basement that I and my sisters would stand against each year. My dad would take a ruler and a pen and mark our height to show how much we’d grown throughout the months. It was our growth chart, and long after we each had grown older and moved out, that closet door became a popular topic of discussion at the dinner table when we all gathered together for birthdays and holidays.
I've done the same within my own family, charting my son’s and daughter’s growth throughout the years. Now that they’re grown, I wonder why I didn't chart more than their physical height. Just because they've stopped gaining height doesn't mean that they've stopped growing in other ways. Maybe at the time at which adults reach their true height, we should start our own growth charts that measure how far we've grown in spirituality, wisdom, generosity and creativity.
Deciding on how and what to chart in our lives depends on our goals and the importance we place on events and achievements. Each person is unique in their choices, their plans and where they are in their lives. My chart at 18 years of age would be vastly different than the growth chart I now keep. So, where are you in your life? What choices have you made that got you this far? What are your plans for the future?
I already have a husband of 38 years, children who have grown and left or are preparing to leave the nest, and a job from which I will retire when that time comes. I served in the Army, went to college, married and have children, taught in schools and hospitals, volunteered in Scouting and soup kitchens, and have been published. The choices I have so far made have led me to where I am today, and these and many more life events are recorded on my personal growth chart.
My goals and plans for the future now include financial security when my husband and I retire, spending more time with my grandkids, learning new ways to stretch my creativity in water colors and mixed media, and publishing my book. And those are just the biggies! I have a bucket list of a hundred things I want to do before I go, and as I cross each one off, I will add my milestones to my growth chart.
How you chart your growth depends on how you look at things. Are you list-driven, or do you like visual cues like framed photography or scrapbooking? I myself am wordy (as if you couldn't tell) and chart my growth in diaries and journals, and my personal blog. I also journal in scrapbooks, as I feel the more I write about the photos I keep, the better my five sense of the memory rush back to me.
However you decide to chart your own growth, never lose sight of it. Your charted accomplishments will lift your spirits when you feel depressed or in doubt. It can also spur you on toward goals when you feel the path you’re walking is too difficult. Finally, it will show you just how much you have grown as a thinking, feeling, loving person, because sometimes life makes us forget how truly valuable we are, if not to the whole world, then to our little corner of it.


I hope to see you all making great strides in your lives as our paths criss-cross each other. When they do, I’ll make sure to wave at you in recognition of your growth, and of mine. Don’t forget to wave back!
Patacake

PERSEVERANCE PONDERING - MAY

The path to success is a long journey, dotted with many tempting rest stops. How often are we asked, urged or convinced to put aside our goals for “just a moment,” leading us to lose our focus? Procrastination is an easy habit to fall into, and a hard one to break.
I tend to call up my inner scientist. One of the basic laws of physics is that “a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion” (I definitely call on that one when it’s time to work out!) Perseverance is keeping your journey toward your goals at a steady pace. It is a mindset, and needs renewal every day.
Sometimes the path we’re walking seems all uphill. That’s when a rest stop is in order, but we must remember that it’s only temporary. For short-term goals, I give myself a break but set a timer; for longer-term goals I make a list adjusting it every time I move ahead (kind of like Santa who’s always checking his twice). I keep the list in my sights, like on my computer (constant companion), bulletin board (at work) or the fridge (I have to eat, right...). For those long-range goals that are way out there, like saving for a house or publishing a book, I break it down into smaller, more manageable mini-goals, or stepping stones, toward the ultimate destination. If I’m saving money, I’ll  treat myself to something nice each time I reach a certain amount saved; if I’m lagging behind, I’ll go without for a week to make up the difference. I am presently working on a book of poetry, using my water colors as backgrounds for each poem. I try to either get a water color or new poem finished each week, or I research the publishing and selling of my e-book when it’s ready.
You can also run up against several stumbling blocks along the way. A step back to re-evaluate your destination or goal might be in order. Just how realistic is it? Is it important enough to be worth the climb? If it is, then we set our sights ahead, tighten our shoelaces, and persevere, never forgetting how empowering it feels to reach the summit.
The path toward success may twist and turn and we may get lost along the way. Maybe our companions are slowing us down with their negativity, or that work or relationship issues are weighing us down. Perhaps it’s time to lighten our loads. Sometimes the road to success is best traveled alone. Then again, maybe what we need is a team to help us carry our loads, blaze a trail or just cheer us on. For me, it depends on my goals. I definitely feel stronger when someone notices a weight loss (cheering section), but have had problems with negativity slowing me down on my poetry book goal (negativity).
Finally, remember that life isn't perfect, and time never stops. Things go wrong. Life gets in the way of personal ambitions and dreams. Remind yourself that they are only out of reach for the moment. Keep alert; keep steady on your path. The road could smooth out around the next bend. Make sure you keep your eye on the prize, whatever it is. Nothing is impossible when you have a positive attitude and a good foundation for obtaining what you want. Persevere is just another word for succeed, and success could be a stone’s throw away.

I hope our paths cross somewhere along the way, so we might lift each other’s spirits in our journeys. Godspeed!

Patacake



HAPPINESS PONDERING - JUNE

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.”  -H. Jackson Brown
There are as many paths toward Happiness as there are people on this earth. Some can be Happy in a financial windfall; others by being surrounded by family or having a soul mate beside them; to some Happiness is loving what they do; and still others feel Happy when waking free from pain in the morning.
I live in a perpetual state of Happiness. No, I am not the richest woman in the world. I still worry and stress about big things and little things (often blowing things out of proportion). I still have goals and desires not yet met. So how can I proclaim that I rarely stray from the path of Happiness? Because I choose to do so.
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” -Abraham Lincoln
When stressing about things real and imagined, I repeat my mantra: “When all you can do is all you can do then all you can do is enough.” In other words (covering my inner hippie, my faith in the Lord and my pacifist nature): take a chill pill, give it up to God, and life will return to balance! When my momentum slows down and I start looking for a shortcut, I get (and give) hugs freely. You’ll be surprised what five hugs a day will do to your outlook on life! I laugh out loud as many times as I can get away with, which is surprisingly often, and I have been known to perform stand-up comedy in rare moments to share the laughter (I believe it is a contagious disease and I am the “virus” spreading it to those around me).
“Seeking happiness, I passed many travelers headed in the opposite direction,
seeking happiness. -Robert Brault
So, no matter where you are on the Path of Life, keep a steady pace and a light heart. Be comforted in the knowledge that Happiness surrounds you and all you have to do is recognize and acknowledge it. Look for me along the path. I’ll be the one with a big smile and a Happy little wave when we meet!
Patacake

SHARING PONDERING - JULY

From the time we start to understand concepts, our parents teach us to share - share with our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our classmates. Sharing was a quality to be strengthened. If you didn’t share, you were looked upon as selfish and immature.
I have tried to live by the qualities my parents instilled in me and my sisters. I even went so far one year as to “move” over a box of Girl Scout cookies I had sold so that (Jean) another girl who was just two boxes shy of my total could share in winning the “grand prize” with me (It was a Kodak Instamatic, my first real camera). 
Throughout life, I have shared my money, my groceries, my car, even my house. My husband used to laugh at what he called my habit of “bringing home strays,” only I brought home stray people, not pets! This habit brought us many adventures, many life lessons, a multicultural perspective and an international friendship that is still going strong, having been passed down to my kids. In fact, Tio Tony, who at 18 was one of my “strays,” flew up from Mexico with his wife so that he could stand with my son as his sponsor when he was Confirmed. I was never so proud as when Tony told me that when it came time to look for a wife, he used his mother and me as his examples of the type of woman with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
If sharing doesn’t come easy to you, think of last month’s theme on the Path of Positivity- Happiness. I believe that theme segues smoothly into this month’s theme of SHARING. It is easy to share happiness by giving up a smile, a compliment, a joke, a handmade card. This doesn’t cost a penny, yet you may feel a flush of pleasure immediately. If not, you won’t have to wait long. The universe moves towards maintaining balance, so what you give to others eventually comes back to you. In fact, if you want to multiply the things in your life that matter—health, balance, happiness—you need to share what you already have!
Really! Just try it! Take that $2 you were planning to buy your diet Coke with and stuff it into the Juvenile Diabetes fundraising can. You’ll end up with the same or more money sooner than you realize, and get a bonus of “good feels” along the way. Think of it as paying it forward. If you believe that something good is coming your way, pave its path by doing something good for others before it happens. Not only have you smoothed the way for another person’s path in life, you’ll have made your own path easier to walk. You may even find a spring in your step you hadn’t had before.
Just think, if we shared justice, good fortune, opportunities, tolerance and love with others; if everyone shared, we could cure famine, wipe out homelessness and unemployment—dare I say it -- even put an end to wars!! All from very small acts of sharing that multiply progressively. Think of the Path we could walk on together!!  Mind-blowing, isn’t it? And what a wonderful world we would encounter at the end of our journeys!
Patacake

OPPORTUNITY PONDERING - AUGUST

How many times have you had to make a choice in your life? Pssst…let me tell you a secret: Those are opportunities. Every time you are offered a choice in life, whether it be in your relationships, at work or in school, you are looking at opportunities, opportunities to change from who you are to whom you want to be.
Want a better job, and waiting for that one extra-special offer? Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities; seize common occasions and make them great. Maybe that smaller opportunity to broaden your experience in a related field or to further your knowledge about the subject will push that offer in front of you, further up the path and just around the bend.
Upset over a missed opportunity? Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we missed. Some of the greatest opportunities have come on the coat tails of ones missed or ignored. Made a bad choice and are regretting it? There are secret opportunities hidden in every failure, but you have to keep your eyes open and be ready to run with them or they’ll pass you by.
Some people seem to always be luckier than others, but luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Any good runner prepares for her race; so should we all prepare ourselves for all those lovely opportunities to grow, to love, to excel, to run down the path of life with a smile on our faces and courage in our hearts.  
Here’s a little tale to remind you to look ahead for opportunity as you travel the path:
The Optimist, the Pessimist and the Realist were sitting together. While they were arguing over the description of a glass of water, a hand reached out and drained the glass dry.
“Thanks,” said the Opportunist.
Patacake

DEDICATION PONDERING - SEPTEMBER

This month’s theme is all about dedication. Dedication is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out, in order to reach your goals.  Success is easy to achieve when those small efforts don’t take too much time, but you know what they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” For all intents and purposes, the tough have something that no one else does—Dedication.
Of course, there are many traps and pitfalls toward your goals, especially in your own mind. Try these techniques when your heart wants something but your brain is an inner critic:
When your mind says I’m no good at this, answer back What do I need to get better?
When your mind says this is too hard, answer back It’s totally worth it.
When your mind says you made a mistake, answer back Now I know how not to do it.
When your brain says it's good enough, you answer back Is this really the best I can do?

Are your goals worth your dedication? Is a healthier body, weight loss, graduation, a new job, your own art exhibit or etsy store, are your goals worth your time, your talent, your sweat, your pain, your busy days and sleepless nights? If they are, if you dedicate your whole being to them, there is absolutely no stopping you from achieving greatness.

And maybe our paths will cross on our way to success. You can’t miss me. I’ll be the one with a gleam in my eyes and dedication in my heart.
Patacake

RESILIENCY PONDERING - OCTOBER

Resiliency is the ability to change or adapt to our circumstances. This doesn’t mean you just trip lightly down the path and hope for the best. Your destination is not just survival but true happiness. So, being resilient means to seek paths that lead you toward positive change. It means analyzing where you are, reflecting where you want to be, and choosing to lean toward opportunities for improvement. You must be aware. You must be courageous. You must change your thinking from “there is no choice” to “how can I turn this around.”

Looks great on paper, but how does one become resilient?

The first step is to be aware that life is full of choices. Then CHOOSE! Good or bad, making a choice is better than making none at all. Refuse to choose and you’ll become a prisoner of your own life. For instance, after a multitude of recent changes, I find myself after 15 years at my job to be in danger of losing hours and benefits. I carry insurance for my family. I now have the choice to “wait and see” or I can CHOOSE to look at my options. Am I still employable? Are the pay/benefits the same or better elsewhere? I can make the choice to step over my fears and comfort to blaze a new path for myself.

The second step is how you choose to feel and react in the stresses of everyday life (I call it strife). For weeks, I chose to let the fear and worry make me physically and emotionally sick. And then the AH-HA moment struck. I had the choice to make my situation into an adventure and discover things about myself that I either had never known before, or had just forgotten. I had skills, I was a hard worker, I was a people person. I stopped worrying when or if the axe would fall and signed up at an employment agency. I updated my resume (that was a real confidence booster). I search the web to see what positions are out there. But mostly, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and for having to leave a job I loved with people I loved. I realized that those people went before me, and I no longer loved the job. Choose the path toward taking your life in your own hands, for better or for worse. Choose to make a choice. 

The last step toward being resilient is focusing on what makes you happy. You can’t feel and maintain confidence in your choices if you aren’t positive. The glorious colors of the changing leaves and the smell of wood fires make me happy. Holding my new grandson makes me happy. Cooking a meal and sitting down to a conversation with my family makes me happy. Be mindful of the things that make you happy. Keeping a smile on your face and laughter on the tip of your tongue will keep you from wallowing in negative feelings.

Finally, let's look at our success rate. That’s right, so far we’re at 100%. Here we are, on the path together, all with different life experiences, stresses and fears. Yet we are walking together, kicking those obstacles off our paths and moving toward our goals. Keep going. There will always be others to help you up when you stumble. You can give them a hand as well when they need it. All you need to do is CHOOSE to change or adapt, to be resilient.

Happy trails!                                       Patacake

THANKFULNESS PONDERING  -- NOVEMBER
November is a month that many celebrate with thanksgiving and charitable deeds. Sometimes that’s difficult to do in our fast-paced, instant gratification, multi-tasking world in which we now live. Now more than ever the stresses of everyday life can quickly grow into a recipe for fear and despair.
But today I want you to forget about why you’re stressed and focus on how you are blessed. Choose to dwell in the positive and recognize the blessings that are yours. Sometimes all it takes is a laugh, a kind gesture from a stranger, or a cuddle from a loved one to relieve the pressure cooker we are stewing in. Be thankful to have five senses with which we can appreciate the world around us.
Listen to what I call “love notes,” sounds that comfort and fill me with wonder and peace. Look for beauty and kindness. Nature is my number one resource for beauty, but you can also find it in the way people interact with each other. Sometimes we need to stir our taste buds with spicy foods, or comfort foods, to give us a taste to enjoy life. We need to breathe in deeply the smells that bring smiles to our lips, and we should dig our fingers in deep to revel in the textures of life.
Of course, recognizing our blessings is just a part of being thankful. Sharing those blessings with others, acting on our thankfulness, will cause a chain reaction of comfort, joy and thankfulness in others. Share a smile or a laugh with someone. Hug a friend or co-worker--physical contact goes a long way in giving comfort. Random acts of kindness like sending a card to a child, dropping off a plate of cookies to a neighbor, dropping money into a charity’s collection containers, all help ease stress for others. Sharing our blessings can give us a huge lift in our own spirits.
Finally, keep those blessings in sight: Use a pocket calendar and write down at least five positive or happy things each day. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, but at the end of the year, you can remind yourself how blessed you’ve been throughout the year. Take it up a notch and record random acts of kindness throughout the year. You will be surprised at how much happiness and comfort you have brought to others this year.

Me? I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my views with you on all things positive while you stroll on the Path of Positivity with us. 
 Patacake

2016 
PROSPERITY PONDERING -- JANUARY
Here we are again, at the start of a New Year. Was last year a difficult one for you? I find that reminding myself of the things last year for which I am grateful is a beautiful and hope-filled outlook on the year to come. After all, an Attitude of Gratitude invites Abundance and Prosperity. I definitely would like those two to visit me this new year - how about you?
When I think of things for which to be grateful, I picture the path which I followed, remembering the scenery of good experiences, the joys of meeting people along the way, and the peace received and given in kindnesses and generosity. I also remember kicking the stumbling blocks of adversity out of the way, both for me and those that followed behind me. Of course, I stumbled a few times, and missed a few for others to deal with, but that part of the path only led me to appreciate the beauty of the journey.
The path is neither all uphill nor all downhill. It evens out, just as life has a habit of doing. In reminiscing over the last year, I find that for every adversity faced, there was a gift of prosperity to counterbalance the stress and sweat. While my husband lost his job, I kept mine, and I carry the family insurance. While we look ahead to lower income, my daughter just finished her college education. And while we lost my Gram and most recently my mother-in-law, I have been gifted with a new grandson and a new brother-in-law.
So, Adversity, give me your best shot. I am thankful for what I already have, and know that more Prosperous days are just around the bend. Come join me in my attitude of gratitude, so we can all enjoy abundance and prosperity. It will be nice to meet a new traveler along the path…
Patacake

DESIRE PONDERING -- FEBRUARY  
Google defines Desire as “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.” My heart’s desire is to have balance in my life.

“… balance is the aim of all living creatures: it is our home. ~Rolf Gates
We are all pulled in so many directions that it is hard to keep to the path of our desires and goals. We want a rewarding and successful career, but relationships and family are important to us. We want help but want to be self-sufficient. We want to go out with friends but need “me” time. I don’t know about you, but I feel as if I were made of elastic and the strength of it is being tested every minute of the day.
 “When your heart speaks, take good notes.” ~Judith Campbell
The first step in living in balance is to identify your desires. My desires have changed throughout the years, but I have always wanted to be a writer, to have a family and to do what I love and love what I do. In order to fulfill these desires, I have had to be stubborn about my goals but flexible about the paths I walk to get what I want, and with whom I take this journey of the heart. Just like your checkbook, walk with people who deposit as much as they withdraw from you to keep you balanced.

"Never let success go to your head, and never let failure go to your heart. ~Ziad K. Abdelnour
On the path of personal desire, there are many choices to make. If you try to control everything in your life, you can’t enjoy the journey. Make wise choices, enjoy the success, and learn from failure.
As long as you do this, you are moving forward.


“There are only two options: Make progress or make excuses.” Pernina Rybak

Finally, know that balance is not found but created. Balance comes from the moments you stand up for the life you truly want. There will be stress, obstacles, craziness – you’ve got to take the good with the bad and know that balance is within you to keep pace with your desires. The view at the end of your path is breathtakingly beautiful, and worth all your efforts.
Patacake



BEAUTY PONDERING -- MARCH

Beauty comes from an inner peace in doing what you love, in sharing with others, and in loving and being loved. Have you ever noticed how beautiful a person is when they're happy? Their faces light up and their eyes sparkle. When they smile, it beckons you to smile with them. Share a smile with a stranger, and two things could happen. You could make their day a bit happier, a bit more beautiful, or you could startle them into wondering what you're up to!

Loving what you do brings its own energy into any situation. Whether you cook, do someone's taxes or drive people to where they want to go, your path in life is made easier by the beauty of your choices.

Sharing the bounty with others can create beauty in others. Nothing is as beautiful as two sisters sharing fashion advice before a big date, friends laughing over great memories or parents teaching their children how to ride a bike. The love they feel for each other makes them shine, and that makes them beautiful.

Anyone can be beautiful. Everyone can be beautiful. YOU are beautiful.
Patacake


GRACE PONDERING -- APRIL

"Grace is meeting those moments on the journey, 

then picking yourself back up, being humble enough to learn, 

and not being too hard on yourself. -Michelle Peluso

Grace is an attitude and a virtue we can all cultivate. It is how you handle yourself on your path - if you stumble, recover and keep moving; if you fall flat on your face, get up and keep moving. It is forgiving yourself and others, no matter if those who have hurt you have asked for that forgiveness. It is learning from mistakes without being crushed by hopelessness or embarrassment. It is achieving greatness while remaining humble, gaining wealth or status, while quietly giving back to those less fortunate, and treating others with dignity and respect, no matter who they are or what they do.
As we traverse the Path this month, we can walk with Grace by making the journey a little easier for those who follow behind us. This can be as simple or as complex as you wish. For example, you can:
share a smile or give a compliment to someone whose pace seems slower than usual,
send a handwritten note or handmade gift to someone needing a little re-energizing,
be grateful for what you have by giving anonymously to those who do not,
try to picture walking in someone else's shoes before judging them,
forgive those who may push their way down the path, heedless of others,
realize that what seems an easy pace for you may be too difficult for others 
before opening your mouth, and
learn to laugh at yourself and learn from missteps.
Walking with Grace makes the path less wearisome, for you and for others.
Walk with Grace and maybe we can share some time together on the Path.
Patacake



No comments: