Let A New Adventure Begin!

Butterfly“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Too often we let responsibilities and daily tasks interfere with us exploring the world around us and learn how we can better ourselves, our family’s life and the world. Evaluate obstacles, gain perspective, stay focused and committed.

There are stories all over the internet about how people changed their lives and found their passion or their purpose in life. Opening their own restaurants, losing weight, traveling to another country, moving and starting over in another country, mentor others through health awareness, realizing that you enjoy teaching and training others to success. Below are a couple of videos and articles that might inspire you.

https://goodlifezen.com/how-to-start-over-3-inspiring-real-life-stories/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/05/12-ordinary-people-who-can-inspire-us_n_6348652.html

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/suicidal-doesnt-want-to-die

https://mashable.com/2015/08/12/inspiring-career-changes/#jrnM2pPEhsqg

You have to start somewhere so here is a list of six steps that can get you started with a new beginning. It does not matter if it is the organize closets to working on getting a degree to volunteering with an organization, each of these new beginnings can only improve your mindset and your life in some way.

Just Do It.

You have something you have always want to try to do. Take cooking classes, learn to fly an airplane, write a song, look for another job or take a computer class. It will not be easy but each skill you learn, each test you pass or that mmmmm! after your first homemade cake is a stepping stone to reaching that milestone. Take action by making your mind up to just do it, no excuses as to why you cannot.

Always Commit.

Once you have committed to a task allow yourself to accept the challenge and become determine to complete the task. Accept the sense of fulfillment you will receive for completing the task, don’t minimize it.

Be Open Minded.

This new beginning might take you down roads you never thought you would go. If you write the best country song in class and are asked to perform it, do it! If your place of work offers training in a new field, try it! Step outside of your expectations.

Rejoice In Your Mistakes!

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything” by Theodore Roosevelt. Making mistakes is a way we learn and improve. It can deepen our knowledge, invite us to make better choices, reveal a new insight or can suggest new options we have never thought of before. The only negative aspect is if you never try to begin with.

Live In A State Of Wonderment.

We let the outside forces cloud our observations of the world around us. The world is a fascinating and exciting adventure happening around us. The wonder of living insects fluttering from flower to flower gathering pollen so that larger plants can grow and feed us. The body itself, the mechanics of living tissue being able protect and repair itself is remarkable. To see the beauty in an old tire by the side of the road and interpret it into art.  See the world through the eyes of a child, your inner child, remembering growing up and how the world was just a big playground for you. You will be amazed at not only what you see but how you feel and how those feelings can color your world just a little brighter.

Always Stay In Touch With Loved Ones.

We cannot go through life alone, it is meant to be shared and experienced with people who are special to you. They are your support system, they will offer unsolicited advice, not understand what your drive is about or not appreciate the difficulty of the day to day dedication to your task. But they will help pick you up when you feel defeated. They commiserate with you over your mistakes and bandage your pride when the blows cut too deep. You in turn will support them in their endeavors and you will all be examples for each of how to be the best you.

You have the tools, see where your dreams will take you!

 

 

Welcome, Welcome, Share This Feast

free-thanksgiving-dinner 2018Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107: 8-9

Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest of the preceding year. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. Thanksgiving has its historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, and has long been celebrated in a secular manner as well.

The Thanksgiving holiday’s history in North America is rooted in English traditions dating from the Protestant Reformation. It also has aspects of a harvest festival, even though the harvest in New England occurs well before the late-November date on which the modern Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated.

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. In the United States, the modern Thanksgiving holiday tradition is commonly, but not universally, traced to a poorly documented 1621 celebration at Plymouth in present-day Massachusetts. The 1621 Plymouth feast and thanksgiving was prompted by a good harvest. Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. Several days of Thanksgiving were held in early New England history that have been identified as the “First Thanksgiving”, including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631.. In later years, religious thanksgiving services were declared by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford, who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in 1623. The practice of holding an annual harvest festival did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s.

Thanksgiving proclamations were made mostly by church leaders in New England up until 1682, and then by both state and church leaders until after the American Revolution. During the revolutionary period, political influences affected the issuance of Thanksgiving proclamations. Various proclamations were made by royal governors, John Hancock, General George Washington, and the Continental Congress, each giving thanks to God for events favorable to their causes. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God”.

Thanksgiving in the United States was observed on various dates throughout history. From the time of the Founding Fathers until the time of Lincoln, the date Thanksgiving was observed varied from state to state. The final Thursday in November had become the customary date in most U.S. states by the beginning of the 19th century. Thanksgiving was first celebrated on the same date by all states in 1863 by a presidential proclamation of Abraham Lincoln.

On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. Two years earlier, Roosevelt had used a presidential proclamation to try to achieve this change, reasoning that earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost.

In modern times the President of the United States, in addition to issuing a proclamation, will “pardon” a turkey, which spares the bird’s life and ensures that it will spend the duration of its life roaming freely on farmland.

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song, Thanksgiving Song, has the phrase “Grateful for each hand we hold gathered around this table” which is a perfect way to sum up what Thanksgiving is all about. To be grateful for the loved ones in our lives, celebrate our love for God and family and remember to always count your blessing. We all have so much to be thankful for.

 

Thanksgiving Song

by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.
From far and near we travel home,
Blessed that we are able.

Grateful for this sheltered place
With light in every window,
Saying “welcome, welcome, share this feast
Come in away from sorrow.”

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend and friendless;
All together everyone in the gift of loving-kindness.

Grateful for what’s understood,
And all that is forgiven;
We try so hard to be good,
To lead a life worth living.

Father, mother, daughter, son,
Neighbor, friend, and friendless;
All together everyone, let grateful days be endless.

Grateful for each hand we hold
Gathered round this table.

Preserving Your Family History

FamilyFor the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

There are several great web sites that can give you information on preserving old family pictures and documents. These family documents represent your past and show you the abilities or gifts members of your family possess, both past and present.

I personally have always enjoyed the unplanned pictures, catching a person in an unguarded moment. Adding information about the person, location and/or date makes the photo more interesting and relatable. Those pictures tossed in a drawer or documents placed in a folder and filed can be utilized to introduce younger generations to their past.  Several of these web site are: http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~george/preserving_photos.html  http://www.loricase.com/faq.html  https://www.livescience.com/39494-incredible-tech-preserving-historical-documents.html and https://www.recordnations.com/articles/properly-store-documents/

Shutterfly, and other companies like them, can create books that contain this information without damaging the originals, can be shared and is easily accessed.  My nieces and nephew have always asked about stories about their parents so several years ago I created a book that told a story about relatives going back to their great grandparents. It is one of my fondest Christmas memories. With a loud and boisterous group sitting around the Christmas tree I gave the book to them all at the same time. When they opened it the room was quiet for about 15 minutes with occasionally comments of “this one is about me” or did you see the picture of dad on page 10?

Shutterfly

With the documents you are filing you can chose a family member, a year in the life or family storytelling and create a custom book.  Great way to start a conversation or send sometime just reminiscing.

Enjoy!

Caregivers

Old-Hands-Young-HandsCome to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” —Matthew. 11:28–30

Wikipedia describes a care giver as a person is an unpaid or paid member of a person’s social network who helps them with activities of daily living. Care giving is most commonly used to address impairments related to old age, disability, a disease, or a mental disorder.

Typical duties of a caregiver might include taking care of someone who has a chronic illness or disease; managing medications or talking to doctors and nurses on someone’s behalf; helping to bathe or dress someone who is frail or disabled; or taking care of household chores, meals, or bills for someone who cannot do these things alone.

With an increasingly aging population in all developed societies, the role of caregiver has been increasingly recognized as an important one, both functionally and economically. Many organizations which provide support for persons with disabilities have developed various forms of support for careers as well.

Being a Caregiver is one of the most rewarding and draining thing you can do. The relationship that develops between the caregiver and the patient becomes a dance, each party working towards each other to establish a relationship based on trust and love surrounded by major life changes. The caregiver will take on more responsibilities and their priories will have to shift. The patient is grappling with certain freedoms and their independence will be reduce or eliminated depending on the aliment/disability. This can cause frustration, depression and lashing out at their loved ones. Patience is an easy word to say but applying it to this situation makes you realize how encompassing the meaning really is. The caregiver must reevaluate their lifestyle, adjusting to the reduction of free time and pace in which they accomplished things, matching the patients pace. The patient has to accept their new limitations, whether it is due to age or injury. The lack of independence and the growing new for assistance is very scary, causing frustration and depression. As the relationship continues to evolve a new aspect appears, one I call the “safe zone”. The patient needs that one person who accepts them even as they are changing, does not judge and encourages them to express themselves honestly without the worry of being dismissed. In addition, this lesson in patience is very therapeutic, being able to understand the need to connect so that the patient has someone who helps keep them grounded. The dance continues in a gentler version, the understanding what is needed, how to delivery it and respect the person for their place in your life, past, present and future.

Below are several verses that are helpful when you are having doubts and questions.

If you’re wondering what God’s plan is in all this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5–6

If you feel guilty about not doing enough: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.—I Peter 5:7

If frustration is getting the better of you: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.—Colossians 3:23–24

If you’re afraid of what tomorrow may bring: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.—Psalm 118:24

If the person you’re caring for is difficult: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.—Galatians 5:22–23

As your caregiving journey continues: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.—Numbers 6:24–26

If you want to help a caregiver but time is limited here are several ways to help ease their burden.

Take Them Food – Whether you take sandwich fixings, a casserole or health snacks that be taken to a hospital or rehabilitation center it is always appreciated.

Give a Gas Card or Prepaid Card – Expenses mount up for family members driving to the hospital or doctor’s appointments. Having a little extra funds to pay for gas and parking fees is a blessing.

Don’t Ask. Do. – Caregivers might have commitments to other organizations or are serving on committees. Tell them you will attend a meeting for them, make deliveries that they had committed to and/or take over a position they can no longer handle. It may seem intrusive but sometimes it is a relief to not be responsible for something you had committed to.

Take on Yard or Repair Work.  – Mowing or, in winter, shoveling snow is always a huge help. Check with the local churches to see if there is any outreach efforts dealing with repairs of house or building ramps for the disable or elderly people.

Take A Ride – Sometimes just taking the patient out for an hour to ride around, get a treat or park and talk with them outside of the house is beneficial to both of them. Just a break from each other for a while can have a tremendous affect.

Give the Gift of Laughter – When visiting caregivers, be yourself. Talk about a special memory. Give them a reason to smile. Laughter, clinical studies have shown, is good medicine.

Pray – Even as a friend or relative of the caregiver, don’t shoulder the emotional burden alone. Ask others to pray for the patient and the caregiver. Let caregivers know people are praying.

Take A Ride – Sometimes just taking the patient out for an hour to ride around, get a treat or park and talk with them outside of the house is beneficial to both of them. Just a break from each other for a while can have a tremendous affect.

We will all need a caregiver sometime during our lives. Remember that respect, trust and love are the most important components in a successful relationship. By adding patience into the mix this experience can be the most profound and important relationship you might ever have. Treasure the sweet moments and empathize with the difficult ones. The memories will strengthen you by showing what you can accomplish and again later, what you will allow done for you.

A Grandparent’s Touch

Baby and Grandmother

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 4:9

The relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is complex. They store the past, celebrate the past and become a memory in the future. In this age of technology growth we may have gain instant information but we have missed out on the simple niceties of life. Holding a face to face conversation with someone, the physical response to conversation creates additional depth that cannot be felt through a text. Grandparents and grandchildren’s relationships comprises of a more lenient and compassionate element. The grandparents recognizes the speed in which time is passing and the grandchild feels love and support from this family teacher that establishes a solid self-esteem. It also supports that the connection allows for the relationship to change over the time so that the one who needed support while growing up can now reciprocate to the caregiver as they age.

The relationship between a grandchild and grandparent is a very special one. While grandparents act as an authority figure and provide unconditional love, they also get to spoil their grandkids in a way parents simply can’t. But beyond that, grandparents also wield incredible influence. Here are 10 things grandchildren can learn from their grandparents.

World History

Children can find out what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression or World War II from grandparents who experienced life during that time. Personal stories are much easier to remember than lists of names and dates from books.

Teaching a new skill

When they were growing up, many grandparents learned practical skills such as sewing, gardening, baking, farming or woodworking. These are great things to pass on to grandchildren, as they may not be commonly taught anymore, but are still very useful talents to possess. They also understand how to use an item or product fully, teaching recycling in a practical way.

Wisdom

Life lessons and other advice delivered by grandparents have more validation because they’ve often lived through the same or similar experience — possibly more than once.

Family History

Everyone has those old black and white pictures of unknown relatives or family friends, but grandma and grandpa may actually know where they were taken, the history behind the picture and who those mystery people are. Resource for your family tree — who are their siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles? You’ll know about tons of family members you didn’t know existed, even stories about their parents that the parent may not want told!

Humor

Teasing is a part of growing up, but when it comes from someone who loves you unconditionally, it’s way more enjoyable. Learning jokes and pranks from your grandparents is a great way to bond with them and understand how to react if you’re teased by your own peer group.

Listening

Many young children are used to their parents listening to everything they say, and they expect others will do the same. While this is often normal for young children, it’s important for them to learn how to listen to others as well. Listening to their grandparents reminisce about the past teaches the children how to listen and participate in a conversation.

Games

Playing card and board games instead of video games encourages successful social interaction. Learning to share, play fair and understand how to be a good winner are important life lessons that will serve they well in their life.

Emotional Support

Having a sounding board who doesn’t spend every day with you, like a parent or guardian does, can be invaluable when you’re trying to navigate the teenage years. Amy Kelly of Libby, Montana says,

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Grandparents have lived long enough to realize not to get upset over the little things; life is too short. Young grandchildren think everything is hyper-important, but can learn to adjust their priorities after discussing problems with their grandparents, who have a broader world view.

Snail Mail

The art of letter writing is fading. It’s great practice for kids who are learning how to write. Purchase postcards, stationery and stamps and set up some pen pal time with your grandparents and you can each send postcards, letters or souvenirs about is going on in their lives. You’ll both have a great time waiting for the next letter to come in the mail, and grow closer in the process.

The Angelus by Millet

The Angelus

    God grants each of a special set of gifts, one of the most amazing gifts to me is the ability to depict an everyday occurrence in a profound manner that it causes you to stop and reflect on what you are seeing or experiencing. It could be by book, film, photographs, drawing or painting. This painting is a wonderful depiction of giving praise to God.  The subject matter always makes me stop and look a little closer to the painting. The subject is beautiful:  a man and a woman are reciting the Angelus in a quiet field. Because they have paused in the middle of working, all the tools of their labor–a potato fork, basket, sacks, and a wheelbarrow–are right beside them. What is the meaning behind the name of the painting, The Angelus is?

Millet reportedly wrote of the painting, “The idea for The Angelus came to me because I remembered that my grandmother, hearing the church bell ringing while we were working in the fields, always made us stop work to say the Angelus prayer for the poor departed very religiously and with cap in hand.”

The painter, Jean François Millet, was born in Gruchy near Gréville on Oct. 4, 1814. His parents were peasants, and he grew up working on a farm. In 1837 Millet moved to Paris to study painting. To learn the traditions of classical and religious painting, he entered the studio of Paul Delaroche, a successful academic imitator of the revolutionary romanticist Eugène Delacroix. He and Delacroix were not a successful pairing but Millet stayed on in Paris, supporting himself by making pastel reproductions of rococo masters, occasional oil portraits, and commercial signs. During the 1840s Millet’s painting gradually shifted from classical and religious subjects to scenes of the rural and peasant life with which he was familiar. As it did, he gained increasing support and recognition from other painters in his generation. Among these were Narcisse Diaz de la Peña and Théodore Rousseau, two landscape painters who were instrumental in forming the loose association of artists known as the Barbizon school. Millet and the other Barbizon artists resisted the grand traditions of classical and religious painting, preferring a direct, unaffected confrontation with the phenomena of the natural world. During the 1830s and 1840s their works were generally regarded as crude, unfinished, and unacceptable to the official tastes of the Parisian Salons. After mid-century, however, the Barbizon artists slowly gained increasing recognition, and their achievement became an important inspiration for the younger generation of impressionists. Millet moved to Barbizon in 1848. The village was his home for the rest of his life, and he died there on Jan. 20, 1875.

The story the Angelus tells is first of all one of willingness, of actively embracing a task at hand, just as Mary rose to her calling as Mother of God. She not only conceived but, as the prayer continues, exclaimed, Be it done unto me according to thy word. Second, the prayer is one of embodiment and immanence: And the Word became flesh / And dwelt among us. This is an old devotion that was already well established 700 years ago. The Angelus originated with the 11th-century monastic custom of reciting three Hail Marys during the evening, or Compline, bell. The first written documentation stems from Italian Franciscan monk Sinigardi di Arezzo (died 1282). Franciscan monasteries in Italy document the use in 1263 and 1295. The current form of the Angelus prayer is included in a Venetian Catechism from 1560. The older usages seem to have commemorated the resurrection of Christ in the morning, his suffering at noon and the annunciation in the evening.  In 1269, St Bonaventure urged the faithful to adopt the custom of the Franciscans of saying three Hail Marys as the Compline bell was rung. The picture, even after interrupting work with a divine injunction, the prayer insists that the divine is also present in the people and things at hand, however fleshy and messy they appear. Upon returning to work, then, we take that incarnation with us.

From the tones of the colors, the humbleness of the people and the innocence of the surroundings this painting express a devotion and commitment to their Faith. That is always a beautiful thing.

The Milk of Human Kindness

This time of season fills me with anticipation of celebrating with my family and visiting with friends. To appreciation the frailty of these numbered gatherings, storing these memories to be revisited each year as the old generations pass and the new ones become part of the family cycle.

One of my favoChristmas Carolrite Christmas movies/books is the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In all of its versions – musical, depressions era, cartoons, even the Muppets, the message is the same. In A Christmas Carol, compassion is the main ingredient in the kindness and generosity cake that Dickens seems to crave. Scrooge is able to see the contrast between those people who are willing to feel pity towards him (his ex-fiancée, his nephew, his clerk) and those who coldly dismiss him as he does them (fellow business people, his servants, the pawn shop owner). Then he reaches deep inside himself and finds the empathy that’s he’s been repressing, and he’s flooded with the milk of human kindness toward those around him. After that, he is transformed into someone who can put himself into the shoes of others, and even forgive them for their misdeeds. In other words, he’s now one of the people who are emotionally best equipped to live life.

We all know a Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Nephew Fred and Fezziwig, we even can say that we are each a bit of these characters at one time or another.  Just maintain a balance that always allows us to emphasize with the people around us, and to assist others when they need help. Each time I watch a version of the Christmas Carol the message brightens my Holiday season, with the sense of generosity being exhibited. The novel’s most famous line is Tiny Tim’s prayer, “God bless us every one.” The novel centers on a Christian holiday and the Christian virtue of charity. Church bells ring out at key moments, and the crowds in the street dutifully heed their call to worship. The novel even ends with a kind of conversion, when Scrooge decides to start loving his neighbor as himself. Who wouldn’t applaud that?

I will end with a quote, one that shows the transformation of Scrooge. “He went to church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk—that anything—could give him so much happiness. In the afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew’s house.” (5.47). I hope all of you have a moment this Holiday season where you and Scrooge can share a moment of happiness.

 

Gratitude

fall_autumn_thanksgiving_cards

Be filled with the Spirit; speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father. Ephesians 5:18-20

With Thanksgiving just around the corner I begin to think about the blessings in my life. A game we play is after we have had to vent about a situation we list three blessings. What this does is it reduces the stress from the bad situation by replacing it with positivity. It surprises me how quickly counting blessings can lighten your day. That lead me to thinking about how grateful I should be for all I have. There is always someone somewhere who has it worst then you. As Abraham Lincoln liked to say, this too shall pass, so focus on the positive aspects in your life and learn from the bad situations.

While researching this topic I came across several points of view as to how it can benefit us as individuals and as a group.  There is a project called Operation Gratitude that express thank you to all that serve. That does not just apply to the armed forces, it includes the Wounded Heroes Program, First Responders, Disaster Relief and Care packages for Care Givers to name a few. Its catch phrase is Operation Gratitude and it continues its dual mission both in expressing gratitude to our Military and First Responder communities, and to provide every American that opportunity to say “Thank You.

Gratitude is a selfless act. Gratitude acts are done unconditionally to show to people that they are appreciated, not because people are looking for something in return; however, that is not to say that people do not return the favor. Gratitude can be contagious, in a good way.

Gratitude promotes reciprocity. Someone performs an act of gratitude for another person, and in turn, that person may be motivated to do something gracious for the former person, or continue the favor for a stranger.

After all, acts of gratitude aren’t only for people that you know! A common contemporary phrase that people are familiar with is, “paying it forward.”

Though, paying it forward does not obligate you to reciprocate if you cannot, but it does spread positivity via gratitude.

According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the feeling of gratitude involves two stages (2003):

  1. First comes the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life. In a state of gratitude, we say yes to life. We affirm that all in all, life is good, and has elements that make it not just worth living, but rich with texture and detail. The acknowledgment that we have received something gratifies us, both by its presence and by the effort the giver put into choosing it.
  2. Second, gratitude is recognizing that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self. At this stage, the object of gratitude is other-directed; one can be grateful to other people, to animals, and to the world, but not to oneself. At this stage, we recognize not only the goodness in our lives, but who is to thank for it, and who has made sacrifices so that we could be happy.

Practicing gratitude can decrease levels of depression and anxiety (Kashdan & Breen, 2007). Of course, having lower levels of stress, depression, and anxiety may aid in having higher levels of well-being. If a major objective of positive psychology is to increase levels of well-being, these findings show the value of gratitude in positive psychology investigations. Try this link for several exercises that promote gratitude. https://daringtolivefully.com/gratitude-exercises.

So this Thanksgiving, while you are enjoying your feast, count the blessings in your life and share your gratitude with your loved ones. By brightening someone else’s day you reap the benefits.

Finding out about your family history

“Let your roots grow down into Him and then let your lives be built on Him then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught you will overflow with Thankfulness.”

Colossians 2:7

We have all seem a family tree, with names and birth & death dates listed. The information is there but what does it mean to you, how can you relate to the information? We all are a combination of genetics, family history, upbringing and our own personal experiences. Wouldn’t it be interesting to add details to your ancestors? Information gathered from the traditional means of libraries and archives but also conversations with people who actually knew them. You can also create an audio/visual family tree. Your tree interpretation may not be an actually tree but an album that states the basic information along with description of what is happening in the photography or during that time of their lives.

First, write down all the information you have about yourself. See the chart listed below to use as a guide. The more information you fill in you can easily see what needs to be researched.

Family Tree

After listing your information in the family tree add the information that includes birth and death dates, locations of significant events in their lives. Such has marriages, birth of their children, etc.) This will help when you begin to do more in-depth research on your ancestors.

Take advantage of some of your readily available resources. Look at old photo albums and look for comments that may have been made alongside or on the back of the photos. Take pictures of the photographs to uploaded later to your computer and add to your research. Next, make a list of questions to ask your grandmother or great aunt their mothers but also encourage them to talk about themselves and their children. Recording the conversation will ensure that nothing is missed.

Once you have gather information next try and plug the information into several web sites to get more information. See the list below for ones that have free searches available.

  1. com
  2. Access Genealogy.com
  3. The Olive Tree
  4. Family Search
  5. Family Tree Searcher
  6. Genealogy Today
  7. S. National Archives
  8. K. National Archives
  9. US GenWeb Project
  10. WorldGenWeb Project

Also, try this link for additional ways to gather information, Finding Your Ancestors in Vital Records.

Good luck and have fun!

Taking the High Road

Kindness“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think of these things”. Philippians 4:8

Sometimes we allow other people and circumstances dictate how we see ourselves and we search to find something to help ease the stress/pain. While researching this article I find several factors on how to deal with negativity based on perspective, health status and mind set. Below I will share the highlights from my research.

Perspective – I describe this section being about how individuals see a situation differently. No one can change another person in a situation, the only way to alter the situation is for someone to change their interpretation of the situation.

  1. Don’t sweat things that you cannot directly control – We have to accept that there are things out of our control that we cannot change. To fight against something we can’t change just increases stress and frustration in our life.
  2. Take pleasure in the simple things – We have to learn to appreciate what we have, to count our blessings when we lose ourselves in the drive for material possessions.
  3. Turning misfortunate into something positive – As Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” It is easy to focus on a negative event occurring in our lives, to feel desperation and hopelessness. By finding a positive aspect we develop an ability to lessen our reaction to negativity and come away with a new understanding on how we deal with life roadblocks and come out the other side better for it.
  4. Don’t whine about a problem, be proactive and find a way to make it better – Face the problem and figure out how to make it better or come up with a plan to ensure that it does not happen again. There can be a quick solution or a life style change, commit yourself to change for the betterment of your life.

Mindset – How you have trained your mind and emotions to react together to affect a positive attitude to life. This video is very powerful, demonstrating that you can affect a positive change with just a change of attitude. https://www.facebook.com/foundr/videos/1072402526193820/

  1. Love yourself, respect yourself and accept your self-worth. Recognize that you are a worthy individual and that people will respond to you based on your own self-esteem. Be proud of who you are, your successes and celebrate your abilities.
  2. Practice your will power muscle. Set a goal, follow through and celebrate the accomplishment. It won’t be easy and you probably won’t want to do it, but it will pay off in the end.
  3. The world does not revolve around you, connect with others in a positive and compassionate manner. You can get great satisfaction by doing a kindness for another.
  4. Do not dwell on past negative experiences, worrying about how you would do it different now, guilt and regret do not help you get through the experience. Determine and resilience will help you to focus on a brighter future.

Physical – How does your body feel today? If you do not take care of your body it can affect how you respond to negative influences.

  1. Sleep allows you to recharge for the next day. Even quick power naps can help reduce stress and improve your ability to overcome obstacles.
  2. By making any decisions in an emotional state, you are most likely going to do something that you regret. Always insist on not making any decisions about how you are going to handle this negative person until you have had at least one night’s sleep or ideally a weekend to recover.
  3. Limit your intake of caffeinated drinks and non-nutritional foods. Water, fresh fruits and nuts help to maintain a positive outlook
  4. Watch your favorite movie, drop your troubles on the floor and enjoy. Once you are relaxed you can pick up your issues again and see them through different eyes. Sometimes stepping away and coming back changes your perspective.

This last section is dealing with being a caregiver. It is one of the most stressful and rewarding time(s) of your life. The bond you will form will metamorphose into a relationship that will test your endurance, change your view on life and show you how large your heart truly is. I found this article on line by Anne-Marie Botek from Impressions magazine. http://impressions.locable.com/2012/07/26/1637/6-tricks-for-rising-above-negativity. Below is a synopsis of the article

Caregiver rising

Since human caregivers lack wings, (though their dedication to their loved ones certainly qualifies them for a pair) they can’t physically fly away from their problems.

What they can do, according to Waterman, is practice being grateful for the good things in their lives—even when these things are nearly impossible to recognize. “Even if you aren’t feeling positive or grateful about your situation, you can enact certain behaviors and the [grateful] attitudes and feelings will follow,” she says.

Here are a few tips to help caregivers find their wings of gratitude and rise above negative emotions:

  1. Thank your mortal guardian angels: Whether or not you refer to them as guardian angels, every caregiver has people in their lives that love and support them. These are the people who’ve gotten you through past trials, or are currently helping you cope with the challenge of caring for your loved one. Taking the time to thank these folks will not only make them feel good, but it is also likely to generate a host of positive feelings within you as well. When expressing your gratitude, Waterman says that face-to-face interactions are best because they can provide a more powerful positive response. But, if time and distance prohibit you from thanking your earth-bound angel in person, a hand-written thank you note will certainly suffice.
  2. Share your light: Ward touts the power of smiling and greeting the people you see on the street or in the grocery store. Even if you don’t know someone personally, Ward says that when you say ‘Hi’ to a stranger, you may, “be surprised by how another person’s smile or wise words can lift your spirits.”
  3. Spend 8 minutes on Cloud 9: Each day, Waterman suggests taking eight minutes to sit and reflect on the positive experiences in your life. For the caregiver, it may help to try and identify those things you are grateful for when it comes to taking care of your elderly loved one. (After your reflection, if you feel up to it, Waterman says you may want to express these feelings of appreciation to the elder. Even if they can’t understand you, or brush off your comments, giving voice to your gratitude may foster a more loving relationship between the two of you). If your present situation seems too gloomy, you can turn your attention to the simpler days of yesteryear. Delve into those moments and really feel the positivity and gratitude that wells up inside of you when you think about them.
  4. Collect daily joy sprites: It’s easy to get so caught up in our own problems that we fail to notice the beautiful moments of everyday life. Waterman’s remedy for this is to keep small pieces of paper and a pencil with you wherever you go. Throughout the day, as you notice things like how nice the flowers in your garden smell, or how great a cool breeze feels on a hot summer day, write them down. At the end of the day, re-read those pieces of paper, and then put them in a special box for safekeeping and future reference.
  5. DIY your wings: If it’s just been, “one of those days,” and you can’t seem to pinpoint any instances of positivity, you may need to create your own motivational moments. Ward advises searching for inspiration in books, videos, music—anywhere you can find it. For a quick pick-me-up, buy a book of motivational quotes, or create your own, personalized list of poignant phrases. According to Ward, doing this as little as once a day for a week can be enough to help foster feelings of gratitude and perspective.
  6. Seek out like-minded souls: People have a tendency to feed off of one another’s emotional vibes. This means that just one Negative Nancy or Positive Polly can influence the attitudes of those around them. “Negativity is contagious,” Waterman says, “but so is positivity.” For someone taking care of an elderly loved one, it is important to be able to engage in gripe sessions with caregiving comrades. But, Waterman stresses that it’s also vital to maintain a network of positive people who can support you and offer perspective when needed.

Fostering an attitude of gratitude while taking care of a loved one can be a challenge. Even if you do every single one of the things on the list above, the effects won’t be miraculous or instantaneous. As Masini says,” Cultivating gratitude is a matter of discipline. It requires mindfulness and focus.”

In conclusion, you have the option on how you deal with negativity. Use your wings and soar.