In and Out — A Time for Everything

Following a restless, topsy-turvy, mostly sleepless night earlier in the week, I developed a headache seemingly out of nowhere the next afternoon. By evening my insides were so stormy that venturing more than ten feet from the bathroom was much too risky a trip to venture out on.

After a much better rest the following night, I woke the next morning feeling refreshed, perky, and noticeably better, with creative writing ideas flowing so fast I struggled to jot them all down, not to forget. My writing muse and brain racing to make up for lost time.

Then in my morning reading, I opened to the 29th verse of the Tao Te Ching from Lao Tzu over 2,500 years ago as relayed by Dr. Wayne Dyer, and was reminded that just as we must first breathe in to then breathe out, everything has a time, in a natural order.

” Everything under heaven is a sacred vessel and cannot be controlled.

Trying to control leads to ruin. Trying to grasp, we lose.

Allow your life to unfold naturally.

Know that it too is a vessel of perfection.

Just as you breathe in and breathe out, there is a time for being ahead and a time for being behind;

A time for being in motion and a time for being at rest;

A time for being vigorous and a time for being exhausted;

A time for being safe and a time for being in danger.”

We must experience feeling behind in order to later appreciate being ahead. It is the natural way of things.  I more fully appreciated how wonderful and creative I felt that morning, after experiencing the disorders of the day before. And such is life.

When confronted with challenges and faced with upheavals in life, I  recall what my Mother used to always say at such times — “This too, shall pass.”

All of the times when we have experienced the discomfort of sadness, betrayal, abuse, disappointment, fear, frustration, anxiety, illness, or being incomplete somehow; later led to our appreciation of feeling well, whole, safe, protected, comforted, and loved.

The verse from Lao Tzu reminded me of the same sentiment echoed in the Bible, from Ecclesiastes 3:1 —

“To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

From the wisdom of the ages, there is a time for everything, including what we are experiencing in each of our lives today.  It is good to keep that in mind as we go thru the inevitable ups-and-downs of life, that every moment is proceeding and in accordance with the natural order and way of things. Would we appreciate a glass of water so much had we never been thirsty? We delight coming in to the warmth of the fireplace after shoveling heaps of snow in the howling winds of winter.

I went to bed sick and woke up well, and felt amazingly wonderful in comparison. If things are not the rosiest at this moment in your life or if you journey down a rough road in the coming year — breathe in, and then breathe out — taking comfort that just as “out” follows “in”, there is a time for all things and every purpose. Every morning births a new day full of hope, potential, and opportunities.

“No matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head. Nothing                     is permanent in this wicked world — not even our troubles.”                         – Charlie Chaplin

This morning I am thankful this piece was typed yesterday and only needing to be published today. Living with arthritis and a progressively degenerative disk and joint disease, I woke up this morning unable to close or move my left hand. But it will be better tomorrow. Or the next day. Or next week. That’s how it goes. In the meantime, I will give it a rest, read, and focus on activities not requiring Lefty’s participation for the time being. Righty just added an old-fashioned, one-fingered paragraph all on his own.

It is difficult many times to try to stay positive and keep the faith, believing that all is proceeding in natural order when we find ourselves down on scraped knees and elbows from falling yet again, but if we can just remember to look up we will see the road still open and laid out before us. So we summon our courage, rise, and carry on once again, trusting there is a time for everything and that if we stay on the journey and task ahead, this too will pass and a new day dawn tomorrow.

Thanks for visiting with us today!  A smile or kind gesture can turn someone’s day or entire life around. As Maya Angelou urged — “Be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud today!”  And be the change you wish to see in the world. — Jim  (and Red!)


“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  ― John Bunyan

“The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.” – Zeno of Citium, Greek philosopher


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“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” — Matsuo Basho


“The true essence of humankind is Kindness . . .  to have a good heart.” – Dalai Lama


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“Every moment is a fresh beginning.” – T. S. Eliot


Opting for Millstones or Milestones — “The Desiderata”

My first exposure to “The Desiderata”, an inspiringly beautiful piece written by the American writer Max Ehrmann, was when it became popularized in spoken-word recordings during my college years in the early 1970s. Written in 1927, the piece was largely unknown during the author’s lifetime, with it first being published in ‘The Poems of Max Ehrmann’ in 1948.

The title ‘Desiderata’ is Latin, meaning “Desired Things”. Approaching graduation from college and about to embark on a new career and adventures, “The Desiderata” was and still remains a hopeful and illuminating guide to shaping and living a life of peace and purpose.  The enlightened counsel contained within is certainly as applicable or more today as when first penned by Mr. Ehrmann over ninety years ago.

“The Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann —


The Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy.


Thank You for visiting and spending part of your day with us! We will always encounter pitfalls and obstacles as we go along. Do we view them as defeating roadblocks or opportunities to overcome, grow stronger, and learn? Do you choose to fill your life with Millstones or Milestones? How we choose to respond to life’s challenges is always up to us.  It truly is a beautiful world. — Jim (and Red!)


“You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars.” — Max Ehrmann

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in                    silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.”                — Max Ehrmann


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                                 “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness,                              the astonishing light of your own being.” – Hafiz


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“Share your smile with the world. It’s a symbol of friendship and peace.” – Christie Brinkley


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“Peace, like charity, begins at home.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt


 

Broadening Horizons — My Introduction to the Beard World

The first week of November found me dog and house-sitting for my daughter while she and her husband visited Walt Disney World. What does that have to do with anything about Broadening Horizons? Please, allow me to continue, because I had no idea that week would lead to a new journey and life adventure of sorts for me, as well.

Since they were on vacation I decided to also give my razor a break and didn’t shave for the week, just for the heck of it. No other intentions or plans at the time. Just tired of shaving every morning all my life, to be honest, and wouldn’t be seeing or be seen by anyone other than two German Shepherds for the week and they certainly wouldn’t be complaining about stray hairs. Didn’t bother to pack the razor, shaving cream, or aftershave.

When I got back home, I texted my three sons just for fun, saying “You should see me, I’m rocking a seven-day-old beard!” with the “Ha, ha, ha’s!” in parentheses. Before I could set the phone back down I received three immediate replies (most unusual, I hasten to add) saying –

  1. “Keep it!”
  2. “Keep it going!”
  3. “You can’t shave it off, it’s No-Shave November. You have to keep it!”

I hadn’t given any thought about it being No-Shave November, never having participated in it before. According to the site – “The goal of No-Shave November is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free. Donate the money you typically spend on shaving and grooming to educate about cancer prevention, save lives, and aid those fighting the battle.”

Well, that seemed like something I could and should support, so decided to go ahead and let my seven-day stubble keep on growing until the end of the month.

I had never tried to grow a real beard before except for a week at a time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day each March in college many years ago, and back then it could only be described as “patchy” at best. And, not that I missed shaving every morning, anyway. So, kept it was – a three-week extension to the end of the month. My razor was granted an extended vacation. Something new, something to do.

But, I was then soon informed that I had to keep it going for TWO months, because it supposedly takes that long growing a new beard in to see what you have to work with before trimming, shaping, or making the decision it was a misconceived, failed, and doomed project from the start and shaving it off all together. Letting it go at the end of November then became holding onto it until the end of December and thru the holiday season. Why not? “Razor, take a break and enjoy the holidays!”

Shortly after though, several others advised that a two-month period is really inadequate to base such a weighty, life-changing, keep or shave decision, and I must leave it alone to grow for a minimum of THREE months. Do you see where this is going?

Well, now I am about nine weeks into it and still growing, looking at the end of January now to be the end of the three-month analysis and all important Keep or Shave review.

Some family members seem to have formed opinions already, a few negatives right away, truth be told. But then, some in life are always resistant to any changes around them or affecting their lives, so not totally unexpected, that.

My own opinion varies thru the day, being much higher in the morning when fresh out of the shower and glimpsing the hinted suggestion of a distinguished college professor look in the mirror, than late at night appearing more of a tired and disheveled, ragged and worn, old wino reaching for his half-empty bottle of Mad Dog 20/20.

As I tell anyone who asks about it, the beard does not yet have a long-term contract and is here on a day-to-day, tryout basis only. It seems to comfort a few while worrying others.

Nevertheless, despite the beard’s uncertain status, I received a rushed early Christmas gift delivered by Priority Mail, an electric beard trimming razor kit from one supportive son who felt that I definitely should and would keep the beard. Followed by a steady stream of advice about beard oils, beard balms, moustache wax, and other such things I had never heard of, from another.

And then I was surprised by a 1 oz. vial of pine-scented beard oil in the mail from an unknown source, perhaps not wanting to be publicly numbered in the “keep the beard” camp. And yes, there are periods during the day when I smell as though I rubbed my face in a pine tree. Walking to the mailbox each afternoon, the birds seem to enjoy it.

Overall, it is turning out to be quite the learning experience. I learned right away that one is not supposed to use normal shampoos or conditioners made for head hair on a beard. Nope – too strong and they strip out the oils from facial whiskers, making whiskers tough and brittle. Head hair and whiskers are two entirely different things, it turns out, along with the composition of the scalp and facial skin.

One needs to purchase special, gentler shampoos and conditioners made specifically for beards. Who knew? At this point, I am guessing that the famously bearded Vikings may have used seal oil for their grooming regimens, but again – just a guess. The list of beard items seems much longer than my old shaving supplies list. And this all for a fellow who has never been into styling gels or sprays for my hair, never taking the time or liking the feel of all that gunk and muck in my hair. Towel dry, comb and go, that’s the way.

Beard Oils. Beard Balms. Moustache Wax. Beard Wash. Beard Softeners. Utility and Styling Balms. Most all in different scents and flavors. Not to mention the wide variety of Specialty Combs and Beard Brushes.

Did you know that plastic-toothed combs are not advised for beards because they may cause split ends? Split ends are bad because they must be trimmed. Trimming means bye-bye to beard length! Recommended – wooden combs with the teeth handcrafted to be perfectly round not to tear into the whisker cells. Whoever would have guessed that they actually make handcrafted wooden combs? Guess which is more expensive. And a hint –  it ain’t even close.

I have yet to take the step of purchasing and investing in specialty beard products. Again – here on a tryout basis only. And let’s just say the specialty products do not qualify for the “inexpensive” category in my budget.

One can use vegetable or olive oils in place of specialty beard oils for the same effect of keeping the underlying skin moistened. But who really wants to go around smelling like a salad all day? You can also use Coconut Butter, Shea Butter, or Cacao Butter as the base to make your own homemade beard balm at home. But the first batch will set you back about $50 in starter supplies.

What about baby shampoos? They are gentle. – “Well, yes,” they reply. “But the beard shampoos do not taste bad when you get them in your mouth, which is likely to happen since it is located right where you are shampooing.” Well, that makes sense. And, I don’t know if they make hair conditioners or softeners for babies, anyway. I tend to doubt it.

I do know that shampoos and conditioners made for dogs are formulated to be much gentler than those for humans, but that may be opening me up for more “scruffy” and “mangy” look comments. Attracting birds with a pine-scented beard oil is one thing, but attracting stray dog packs and coyotes with dog shampoos and conditioners would be another. I don’t really run that fast anymore.

Some use Mane and Tail shampoo made for horses on their beards, probably cowboys I’m guessing. But how would I honestly answer or reply if the friendly sales cashier at the store inquired while purchasing – “Oh, what kind of dog/horse do you have, sir?” Having neither, I will probably not be shopping in the dog and horse care aisles, even if they are cheaper than the specialty beard products.

Out in the West, it is an unwritten but well-known rule – “You don’t touch another man’s hat.” Apparently, there is the same rule governing beards – “Don’t touch my beard!” It is considered very rude, and after all the time and effort that some put into growing, trimming, shaping, and maintaining their beards, well – just please don’t do it. But, as for every good rule, there seem to be exceptions, in this case for ladies. But, by all means, don’t do it if you’re another dude, bearded or not. Just sayin’.

Other beard-growing advice and tips abound on the internet on just about any topic one searches for –

  • “My beard itches.” – Use beard oil to lubricate the skin beneath your beard and to prevent Beardruff, the bane of beardsmen everywhere it seems. (Beardruff — Think Dandruff but from the beard. Another new word learned and added to my vocabulary.)
  • “My beard still itches.” – Use more beard oil. Down deep. Work it in. It’s the skin itching. Whiskers don’t itch.
  • “My beard still itches.” – Use more beard oil, and keep it from drying out overnight.
  • “My head slipped off the pillow from all the oil.” – Try a beard balm. Balm it up good before going to bed and sleep on your back to give your beard air and to allow it to breathe.
  • “My girlfriend left because I was snoring while sleeping on my back.” – Find another girlfriend, keep the beard.

And other salient points –

  • “Growing a beard builds character. It teaches the art of patience.” –  I already consider myself a fairly patient fellow, so that’s a non-sell.
  • “Help your beard grow faster by eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and losing weight.” – I think I may have heard that same advice from my doctor last year, but I don’t recall him mentioning beards at the time. Interesting.
  • “Growing a beard, you become a member of the Beard Community, a Bearded Brother — a Beardsman.” – Not much of a joiner here, best left by myself with the bears. Hold the brotherhood club card and save the postage. I am a member of AARP only because they force me to in order to get the supplement health insurance. But wait — does the brotherhood offer Beard Insurance? Wondering about a fire hazard with all this oil and pine resin in it, to be honest.
  • “Keeping a beard helps your skin to look younger in the long run because it protects and shelters your facial skin if you shave it off when older.” – I am much closer to seventy than sixty and quit caring about what I will look like when I get old quite a while ago because I’m already there. The younger-looking skin ship already sailed. And sunk.
  • “Do not trim or cut anything, including your moustache, until the initial three-month grow-in period is over.” – Not sure I will ever get used to hairs in my mouth. Some mornings I wake up feeling like I kissed a Golden Retriever.
  • “Beards are warmer in winter and cooler in summer.” – Taking that summer part under advisement, with a good deal of skepticism. But, must add that the sensation of the wind blowing thru your whiskers on a chilly, breezy day is pretty cool. I’ll give you that one.
  • “To get an award-winning, competition quality handlebar moustache use a glue stick heated with a blow dryer to cement and hold the whiskers firmly in place.” – Seriously? A glue stick?
  • “With a white beard (which mine 98% is) you can make extra money during the holiday season playing Santa Claus.” – If I would have any goals about growing a beard, it would not be to grow a Santa Claus length beard, although fill-in work during the Christmas season might come in handy next year for a little extra pocket cash to pay for all the beard stuff. I always wondered why those gentlemen do it each year, spending all day with other people’s screaming kids in their lap. Now I know – they’re in it for the beard supplies money. What is the going rate for department store Santas these days? I may actually have to look into that as there may be an opportunity there. Making a note. I’m hard of hearing already anyway.

Eating and drinking apparently can be problematic with a bushy moustache or full beard. Experiencing a bit of that already, I must say.

  • “Learn to carefully lift and hold your moustache and beard out of the way when eating, not to mess them up. Always eat with plenty of napkins at hand. And cut your burgers and sandwiches into bite-sized pieces.” – There are videos showing how to artfully, albeit not gracefully, hold your moustache up and out of the way of food while eating, using one or two fingers of the opposite hand. I don’t know if I am that coordinated with the capacity of forethought when really hungry with a juicy hamburger in front of me to remember to lift and separate before each bite. That could be a problem. And as they say, it takes both hands to handle a Whopper. Cutting up a hamburger or other sandwich into tiny bits might raise some eyebrows around the table and restaurant, too.
  • “Learn to carefully lift your moustache up and out of the way when drinking from an open cup or glass. Always use a straw whenever possible, carrying one with you at all times. Or, use “To Go” cups with lids, sipping out of the little opening.” – Again, videos are available to show you how to lift up your moustache before taking a drink of coffee from a cup or a sudsy brew from a glass. I cannot imagine how any of this would be impressive on a date or on a dinner interview. Nor can I imagine sipping a cup of beer from a “To Go” cup or drinking it thru a straw. But, not to worry, there are moustache-saving specialty devices to carry along with you, if you choose. It appears there are specialty products for nearly every circumstance and occasion a beardsman might encounter. Men have obviously been at this beard game and problem-solving work for a long time. I do not ever recall seeing Gandalf, the Vikings, or dwarves struggle with these drinking and dining issues onscreen. So much for reality TV.  Well, Tolkien’s dwarves, though – never mind. I don’t think Gimli and the others really cared. But for the rest of us who do, there are ‘Mustache Guard Drink Attachments’ and ‘Whisker Dams’. You don’t have to take my word for it, just Google it. Go to Amazon. And they aren’t cheap, so don’t get drunk and leave them behind at the bar or on the table when you leave.
  • “Soups and such should be eaten only at home, preferably alone.” – Think lobster bibs if you have a full or long beard, to shield and protect it from staining (especially if white!), together with the pesky lifting the long moustache up out of the way of the soup spoon issue. Soups and the like seem to be pretty much a banned food group, at least in public. I wonder if the Campbell Soup Company knows about this and if so, why haven’t they come up with a solution yet? Possibly missing a large market segment here, it would appear. Beard-staining tomato soup thru a sippy cup, anyone?

I don’t know what happened between senior year of college and “almost-seventy”, but “patchy and sparse” back then seemed to have changed into “seeing a noticeable difference daily” over the years. And no patches, much fuller. So, if you are of young age reading this and disheartened dealing with open, bare spots and patches trying to grow a beard, or can only grow one of those scruffy and shaggy throat-beard things, have hope. Just wait until you are old and couldn’t care less about growing a beard in the first place, and then give it a week or two. I suppose the whisker-growing change probably happened around the same time that my nose and ears became involved in the hair-growth business. Just a guess.

Reaching the seven-week mark at Christmas, I was awarded the new nickname of “Grizzly” from two different people at holiday gatherings, both for my grizzled appearance at the time and for the obvious comparison to Dan Haggerty who played Grizzly Adams years back in the late 1970s, with my own affinity for bears and writing about them with Little Red Bear. I took it as a compliment and am honored to “bear” the name, having always been a fan of both the character and the actor. So, just call me “Grizzly”, folks.

And did you ever notice that the words “Bear” and “Beard” are identical in English, with only the extra “d” being the difference? Another of the English language idiosyncrasies. If “bear” is pronounced “bare”, then why is “beard” not pronounced “bared”? I don’t think it would be a problem to be consistent because I have never heard or seen the sentence – “The man was arrested and taken into custody after drinking all night when he later bared his beard in public” on an evening news report. No serious risk of confusion, I don’t believe.

More than exceptional beard length which I don’t care about and see only as problematic and likely more work trying to maintain than shaving ever was, my only “Holy Cow!” objective would be to grow an honest-to-goodness handlebar moustache. But not a Snidely Whiplash, curled up at the ends, “tie-someone-to-the-railroad tracks” type, or a Salvador Dali, not at all.

More of a bushy Texas Longhorn look. If I could pull off a Sam Elliott stache, that would be a keeper! Or perhaps a walrus moustache as a nod to one of my favorite authors and guiding examples, Mark Twain. Or William Farnsworth from “Anne of Green Gables”. Or Grandpa Walton, Will Geer. Pretty good company, those.

Admittedly at nine weeks right now, there is only a hint of a possible handlebar in the future. The beginning of a bushy longhorn, perhaps. At the least a good effort and hopeful indication of future possibilities, but nonetheless merely a start. And we all know that not all “prospects” make the big leagues.

I must add, that trying to train a baby handlebar moustache so far is about as easy as herding cats. Although despite the oft-used expression, I have never seen anyone really try to herd a mess of cats, even on video, so it’s all left pretty much to the imagination, I suppose.

But it sounds tough, and maybe that also explains why I’ve never seen anyone actually trying to do it. Regardless, you get the idea. It’s training time for the stache to separate it from the beard growth and guide it out to the sides into a brave new world. Hold the glue sticks, though. That’s not happening.

Some have tried to talk me into a Yeard (another new word), letting my beard go totally untrimmed for twelve months, a year’s length. Not going to be doing that, either. If I would end up keeping the beard at all, I would most likely end up with what they call a short, one to three-inch beard. Maybe in the style of Ernest Hemingway. He’s another writer I have always greatly admired. But with a full, bushy moustache borrowed from Sam Elliott or the others. That shouldn’t precipitate any sideways glances or comments, should it? I never was much at conforming. Might need the fellowship of that bearded brotherhood, after all.

 

As I keep pointing out, the beard and moustache are still trying to earn spots on the team and only here on a day-to-day tryout basis, anyway. I still catch myself wondering who that strange, seedy-looking character in the mirror looking back at me is occasionally.

Clearly, a mantra to keep repeating — “Time and Length Will Solve All Problems.”

The plan at this time, being just under a month away from the noted Three Month Benchmark, is to keep it all going until then, trying to guide, grow out, and train an unruly baby stache into a full and bushy handlebar moustache along the way. Herding whiskers trying to rope in a Longhorn.

Please do not write in and ask for any pictures yet. I do not do selfies and Little Red Bear’s paws are too large to work the tiny camera buttons. Just imagine Santa Claus on vacation at the seaside on a 104-degree day, beard trimmed shorter for summer, after a non-stop, three-day bender at The Shattered Shanty Beach Bar, and you’ll be close.

Maybe a picture later provided the beard, moustache, or both land a permanent appearance contract. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Sam Elliott. If the beard goes in the end but the stache stays and ends up anywhere close to Sam Elliott, well – I can live well with that. I already have a hat and boots. We can all dream.


Perhaps the most illuminating point of all this is how we so frequently make random, off-the-top-of-the-head decisions every day, never giving thought to how they could be possibly life-altering down the road. Even in a small way. I simply decided to stop shaving for a week, just for the heck of it and ended up being introduced to a new bearded brotherhood culture that I never knew existed, and developing a whole new level of respect for people with well-cared-for moustaches and beards. And although admittedly a slight change in the big picture view, possibly a different way of life for me. We never stop growing, changing, and evolving as we go along thru life. Nor should we.

Nor should we live our lives confined within the limits of the familiar and comfortable boxes we unconsciously seem to fashion for ourselves over time. Venture outside and go with the flow. I think it especially important to keep expanding our horizons as we grow older. Even if the beard goes away and is history come the first of February, I will have developed an appreciation for and learned a great deal about things and people I never knew before. And that’s always a good thing.

Thanks for visiting and spending part of your day with us! Is someone around you working on a change in their life, too? Maybe they could use a kind word, gesture, or encouraging support. Will you do that for them today? Maybe send them an anonymous vial of beard oil or a Whisker Dam, if appropriate.

‘Til next time! Happy Trails! – “Grizzly” Jim (and Red!)


“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” — Christopher McCandless

                                    “Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic.                                  You don’t mind going thru a little bush to get there.” — Minnie Pearl  


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“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps.” — Frank Herbert


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      “A dream is the bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope.”                 — Howard Thurman


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help to continue this as an ad-free site for everyone,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


      “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”    — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


 

Happy New Year! — And Oh! Oh! Oh! — All The Places You’ll Go!

We’re venturing out into a shiny New Year,

Hopeful – Eager – Excited! There’s nothing to fear!

Perhaps many goals you’ve dreamed and then written.

But a word of caution, lest you be chased down and bitten.

 

It’s wise to pause a moment to think – plan – think twice – and prepare,

Before dashing out clambering and scrambling up the great winding stair.

Heed these words of advice, from famed Dr. Seuss,

Not to be jarred, shaken, or even knocked loose.

 

Resolutions and goals are truly worth every dime,

But not getting slumped saves a great deal of time.

So before running wildly out and about, to and fro,

Watch carefully now and observe – “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”

 

 If  bogged down in ‘The Land of Doubt’ or not sure where to start,

Simply take a moment to listen, and then follow your heart.

For if you do that, then there’s no more to say,

Because following your Spirit, you’ll be well on your way!



Happy New Year! To view the text of the video from Dr. Seuss and find out more about the ‘Burning Man’ annual gathering, visit my “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” page.

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and joyful new year! And whatever your goals and resolutions may be, please ensure that “Be Kind” is at the top of the list. Because that is where everything truly must begin. — Jim  (and Red!)


                                         “Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living,                                       and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

    “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be Kind; the second is to be Kind; and the third is to be Kind.” – Henry James


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly, Multi-generational Stories and Fun for All Ages!
~ About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends ~

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” – Dennis P. Kimbro


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“There is no royal road to anything. One thing at a time, all things in succession. That which grows fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.” — Josiah Gilbert Holland


This is a purposefully non-monetized, ad-free site to be able to offer the most enjoyable reading and viewing experience for everyone, with all content freely shared, and generates no income to offset the costs of maintaining and operating. If you enjoy your visits and time with us, Join our new Patron Community today. Patrons help to continue this as an ad-free site for everyone,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes.


                  “Don’t confuse fame with success.  Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.”           — Erma Bombeck


 

Special Just The Way You Are

It may sound silly and a few may giggle,

Or feel uneasy and then start to wriggle.

But we’re each very special in our own way,

So, taking a moment to let you know that today.

What Mr. Rogers said is truer than true,

I’m grateful for each and every one of you.

And whether you are near or somewhere afar,

Please know that I like you,  just the way you are.


Thanks as always for visiting!  A single word, smile or act of kindness has the magical power to totally transform someone’s day and life.  Be the reason someone smiles today! — Jim  (and Red!)


        “Let everything we do and say be an expression of the beauty in our heart,                 always based on love.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

“The sign of a beautiful person is that they always see beauty in others.” – Omar Suleiman


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.” – Fred Rogers


 

Peace In Our Time, Hope for the Future

Having just passed another Memorial Day Observance followed by the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, although ‘anniversary’ never seems the best choice of word, a thought came to me.

Wouldn’t it be nice, if OUR generation,

Recalling the sacrifices of the PAST generations,

Figured out a way so the NEXT generation could live in peace,

And not be memorialized for their sacrifices by the FOLLOWING generations?

World War I was billed as “The War to End All Wars”.  It wasn’t, as WWI was followed shortly by World War II.  In turn followed soon thereafter by the Korean War.

Two years later, in 1955,  Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller composed a beautiful song which most are familiar with and have sung together on Sundays, but perhaps we need to listen more closely next time and take personal responsibility in its message.

Their song  began —

                                        “Let their be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.                                                              Let there be Peace on Earth,  the Peace that was meant to be.”

        “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”        – Mother Teresa

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.”

— from ‘For the Fallen’, by Robert Laurence Binyon

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” – Dalai Lama

In 1969 during the Vietnam War, John Lennon later added — “Give Peace a Chance.” 

We keep writing and singing songs about peace. Perhaps it is time we finally follow thru to put words into action and give Peace a chance in our time, so our great-grandchildren will not be memorializing our children and grandchildren.

Thanks for visiting with us again. We wish you Peace.  Help the world to find a better way, and be the reason someone smiles today! — Jim (and Red!)


“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa

                   “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”                     – Albert Einstein


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

         “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”                ― Jimi Hendrix


 

Finding Beauty and Joy in the Simple Things

One of my Mother’s favorite old sayings was — “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Children, so freshly arrived in the world, seem to infallibly retain and demonstrate that ancient wisdom and knowledge for us over and over, as they rejoice and find merriment in the very simplest of things.  Those things which we so often overlook as we grow older.

What parent hasn’t had the experience of giving something we thought wonderfully awesome and shiny in our eyes, only to have our child toss it aside and be deliriously happy playing with the box for hours upon hours instead? That is a strong message if we think about it.

One of my favorite country artists, John Sloane, has captured this adage of “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” perfectly and in a fun way, in his painting “To Each Her Own.” The Mother, having stepped unaware over bothersome ‘weeds’, is picking beautiful, delicate and exquisite lilac flowers; while her daughter is delightfully filling her basket with the ignored, bright and cheerful little dandelion treasures in bloom behind her.

“Someone who finds joy in a simple pebble will be surrounded by beauty wherever they go.” — Little Red Bear

The world is filled with beauty and wonder all around us, if we aware to its presence. But when we become so focused with tunnel-like vision on our goals and that which we are so stridently seeking in life, we miss out on all the simply beautiful joys and moments as we rush past. Many of which may never come again. Especially with those box-playing children. The most simple things most often bring the most happiness.

Joining with the little girl in John Sloane’s painting, I am a big fan of the commonly simple dandelion. If you would like to learn more about dandelions and the important role they play in nature for the survival of bees and other pollinators, please check out —  “Please Don’t Pull The Dandelions — They’re Nature’s Gift!”

Thanks as always for your time and visiting.  A kind gesture can reach a wound we cannot see — so be kind — and the reason someone smiles today!  — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Vincent van Gogh


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa


 

 

Embrace Your Talents and Passion — Share Them With The World!

We hear it so many times going thru life. Nearly every day. And one reason why it is so important never to compare one child with another. We each are born with our own natural talents and flair for some things, while maybe feeling totally inept at others.

  • “That guy has a natural talent for playing baseball.”
  • “Her musical ability is a gift.”
  • “He/She has a natural aptitude for math and science.”
  • “That person has a gifted eye for photography.”
  • “That guy has a natural flair for public speaking.”
  • “She is naturally talented at fashion design.”

What is talent anyway?  Generally, it is regarded as a special ability which someone is born with.  A skill that someone seems to possess which allows them to do frequently difficult things more naturally and easier in one area than another person might be able to.

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say — ‘I used everything you gave me’.”

— Erma Bombeck

Nevertheless, as my parents always reminded me, talent alone is no substitute for hard work.  Each of us is capable of doing pretty much anything we set our mind to.  We may have to work harder at it and settle for “95% great” compared to someone with “gifted talent”, but great and to our own satisfaction just the same.  Hard work beats natural talent every time, when talent doesn’t work hard. And if following our passion and doing something we love, it’s not “work” anyway.

Seek out and discover your natural talents and encourage children to do the same by exploring and trying their hand at a wide variety of activities. Everyone has a gift for something which allows them to be better and to excel in an area — be it sports, music, the arts, entertainment, science, cooking, parenting, teaching, and so many others.  Or, simply just kindness and being there with a listening ear for others.  Don’t minimize or discredit whatever may come naturally to you — it’s a gift.

Could Mother Teresa cook well or excel at soccer or painting?  I have no idea, because no one ever mentions it — only her kindness, compassion and love.  True gifts.

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?” — Benjamin Franklin

That being said, never let a perceived or described lack of talent ever stop you or your children from doing whatever it is you or they may want to do.  Your heart will always show you the way. If you have a dominant, recurring thought in mind of something you want to do, listen and do it. Not doing something because “I don’t have any talent” is an excuse, not a reason.

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.”  — Michelangelo

Talent is nice to have, but it never makes up for heartfelt passion, dedicated effort and hard work to develop and grow the needed skills.  Just ask the guitar player or artist born without arms and creating great works with their feet alone.  If there is something you would really like to do or try — just do it.  And if doing it makes only you happy, that’s all that counts. If it happens to benefit others along the way, even better.

So, if you are gifted with a natural talent, embrace it and share it with the world.  But don’t let a perceived lack of talent in an area  stop you. Follow your passion, put in the extra effort doing something you love and do it anyway.  The world will be a better place because of it all.

Thanks as always for reading and visiting with us!  Share your talents and abilities with the world, and be the reason someone smiles today!  — Jim (and Red!)


“Believe in yourself. You are braver than you think, more talented than you know, and capable of more than you imagine.” ― Roy T. Bennett, “The Light in the Heart”

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!


Counting to Ten — Watching Our Words and Actions

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Everything we do in life — each action, spoken word, message, gesture, eye roll, sideways glance, or even thought, has the potential to do either great harm or great good for not only ourselves, but also for everyone around us.

Always true, it is amplified even more living in our modern social media world today, having the capability to influence the lives of people the world over.

So we need to be careful, take a moment to catch our breath, and reflect before speaking, acting or responding.  I was never aware that my Mother was quoting Thomas Jefferson when she frequently admonished “Count to ten” when I was upset or angry about something.

“When angry count ten before you speak. If very angry, one hundred.”

— Thomas Jefferson

It is especially important with young and sensitive children, whose self-images, attitudes and behaviors may be influenced, molded and shaped by our next words and actions.

Children who are always, always watching and listening — and learning by observing. It’s what they do.  It is a lot of responsibility, but no one ever said parenting or acting like a mature adult was going to be easy.

As the old carpenter saw goes — “measure twice, cut once.”   So we need to think twice, count to ten (or a hundred, or even one hundred, ninety-eight and three-quarters) and only then speak or act –  prudently, thoughtfully, compassionately.  Thereby serving as the very best influence and guide for children and everyone else in our lives.

Children learn from the examples we set, intended or not.  If we cannot control our own emotions and behaviors, how can we reasonably expect our children, or our neighbors, co-workers, employees, or anyone else to do so?

“… every single act we do has the potential of causing pain, and every single thing we do has consequences that echo way beyond what we can imagine. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act. It means we should act carefully. Everything matters.” ― Sylvia Boorstein

“Words are like toothpaste, Charlie.  Once out, there’s just no putting ’em back.  They can land with the gentleness of a feather or the force of a sledgehammer.  And the effects go out like ripples across a pond, for good or bad.” — Little Red Bear

Thanks always for dropping by, and we hope you enjoy your visits here.  Please act gently and kindly with not only fragile young minds and spirits, but with everyone; and be the reason someone smiles today! — Jim  (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

 Peace  —  Compassion  —  Kindness  —  Love


Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

~ Think Globally — Act Locally ~


I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart!

An inspiring and thoughtful selection from  Og Mandino, and a lovely way to begin each day and go thru life.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

For this is the greatest secret of success in all ventures. Muscle can split a shield and even destroy a life, but only the unseen power of love can open the hearts of men, and until I master this art I will remain no more than a peddler in the marketplace.

I will make love my greatest weapon and none on whom I call can defend against its force.

My reasoning they may counter; my speech they may distrust; my apparel they may disapprove; my face they may reject; and even my bargains may cause them suspicion; yet my love will melt all hearts liken to the sun whose rays soften the coldest clay.

I will greet this day with love in my heart.

From ‘The Scroll Marked Two’ by Og Mandino in his book “The Greatest Salesman in the World”.  For the complete piece and more information, please tap the link to see my Page — “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart”.

“He who comes to do good knocks at the gate.  

He who loves finds the gate open.”

— Rabindranath Tagore

Thanks as always for visiting and wishing you the very best.  Spread some Love and Kindness in the world today! — Jim (and Red!)

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

~ Children Learn To Read on the Laps of Their Parents ~

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.

New Year’s Life To-Do List

As we begin our journey into the New Year, I don’t know if these exactly qualify as “Resolutions” per se, so let’s just call them “Things To Do.”  Regardless of what we label the top of the page, they are a nice way to go about one’s life with family and the world in general.

“This year, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.” ~ Howard W. Hunter

Wishing everyone the very best Peace, Love, Health and Happiness in the New Year!  —  Jim ( and Red!)

Peace  —  Compassion  —  Kindness  —  Love

 Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Family Sundays Together –Celebrate National Mom and Dad’s Day!

Happy Family Sunday!  Three cheers for ‘Team Mom and Dad’!  Today on November 13th, we celebrate National Mom and Dad’s Day!

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are set aside to recognize and honor each individually with their own special day, but Mom and Dad’s Day has been established to spotlight the “Mom & Dad Team”, the combined unit together. And in an increasingly fractured society, isn’t that what we need more of — Moms and Dads working together —  to restore family values and home life for our children and the future?

What better way to observe the day in honor of Team Mom and Dad than celebrating it together with the family?  Spending time together with our parents, and with our own children that make us Moms and Dads ourselves.

Image Credit -- Grandparents.com

Image Credit — Grandparents.com

And who hasn’t been tag-teamed by their Mom and Dad at one time or another?

“Mom, can I do this?” — “Go ask your Father.”

“Dad, can I do this?” — “Go ask your Mother.”

“Mom, Dad said to ask you again. Can I do this?”  — “Well, if your Father says it is okay.”

“Dad, Mom said I could do it if it’s okay with you.” — “Well, it’s really up to your Mother.”

“Mom, Dad said it was up to you.” — “Well, I don’t know, dear. Check back with your Father.”

A time-tested routine that works almost every time. Because sooner or later, most kids just give up somewhere between the family room and the kitchen and just say “never mind.”  Another victory for “Team Mom and Dad”. The ability to say “No” without actually saying so. Kind of like a Pocket Veto.

Image Credit -- TodaysParent.com

Image Credit — TodaysParent.com

Of course, the strategy for overcoming the tag team defense was to do an end-around and catch Mom and Dad together in the same room.  Sometimes it would result in a score.  But risking a numbers game, other times the end-around strategy could backfire and result in a brutal rejection, like a guarded basketball net,  when they had you outnumbered two to one in the same room.

But since it was the only play in the kid playbook with any chance of success, after the third or fourth round trip to the kitchen it was the only option available other than giving up entirely, which is what the tag team defense was designed to achieve in the first place. Of course, I suppose the object of the game on both sides was to wear the opponent down until they submitted.  But in a single contest, parents most always have the numbers on their side.

Image Credit -- FamilyShare.org

Image Credit — FamilyShare.org

I speak of this now after having raised four children of my own and having experienced the game from both sides of the field.  My parents were accomplished masters at the tag team game.  We never quite achieved their level of success in establishing the impenetrable tag team defense with our children, which my parents seemed so easily adept at and able to pull off each time.  But then again, they always had me outnumbered, dealing with only one opponent because my sister was much older and already enlisted on their side.

Our four children had the distinct advantage of being able to work in tag teams of their own, applying relentless pressure on the defense. We seemed to invariably get trapped by the vaunted end-arounds by our kids, cornered on the couch and surrounded on all four sides. When the question before the court was not a life or death issue, relenting frequently seemed the only reasonable chance of emerging from the encounter with our sanity and scalps still intact.  So maybe it is a numbers game, after all.

“One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be.”                              — Carol B. Hillman

So let’s celebrate the dedication and love of Moms and Dads together, and hats off and huzzahs for the Mom and Dad Team! And to single parents who lovingly and determinedly wear the hats of both roles. Parenting is not an easy job and doesn’t come with an instruction book. And no child seems to arrive complete with an operator’s manual. But the rewards are priceless.

Today is a special day to do something nice for Mom and Dad, or to treat yourself and children to a celebration day of ‘Team Family’.

Image Credit -- DeeperWaters.us

Image Credit — DeeperWaters.us

November 13th is also World Kindness Day.  Practicing and Teaching kindness and compassion right in your home is a great place to start. Children live what they learn, and learn by what they see. Moms and Dads — do a random act of kindness for someone, and show the kids how it’s done! And you don’t need to go far. Mother Teresa put it well — ” Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Start right in your own family — today.

Image Credit -- TheDailyQuotes.com

Image Credit — TheDailyQuotes.com

Happy Moms and Dads Day!  Happy Kindness Day!  Happy Family Day!  

Wishing everyone a beautiful autumn and family Sunday celebrating Moms and Dads and Kindness — together!

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times 

Thanks as always for visiting! The special Christmas Story for Little Red Bear and the crew has passed thru the editing stage and coming right along.  Please stay tuned for updates soon, and have a wonderful upcoming week!  —  Jim (and Red!)

Image Credit -- THINKSTOCK

Image Credit — THINKSTOCK

Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.