How To Be Mindfully Aware Of Positive Thoughts and Actions

Imagine yourself, if you will, in a cafeteria for lunch. Tantalizing food choices pass by in front of you on a conveyor belt, emerging from a window opening from the kitchen on the left side and then passing on out of sight thru another window at the other end to the right. A continuous stream of moving menu offerings to handpick from as they stream past.

No one expects everything offered in a cafeteria to necessarily be to their liking, so of course, you select and place on your tray for lunch only those items which appear appetizing and most greatly appeal to you.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?


What if we approached the random thoughts and ideas streaming thru our mind every day in the same way, selecting to note and act only upon those thoughts which most greatly appealed to and benefited us? Those thoughts congruent with our most basic nature of universal kindness, compassion, tolerance, acceptance, and love?

That is the nature we were born with, after all, before being indoctrinated into our disparate ‘tribes’, society’s conditioning and various belief systems.

Merely allow any thoughts of intolerance, prejudice, bigotry, judgments, hate, jealousy, greed, resentments, ill will, and others to pass by and out of sight unacted upon in the same way as you would your most disliked and distasteful food items on the cafeteria belt.

In other words — Take No Notice, Disregard, and Ignore Them.

Thoughts and ideas come in a never-ending stream throughout the day. Even in our dreams. Scientists say the average human has 60,000 separate thoughts a day. But we maintain the power and control to choose those which we deem worthy enough to act upon while allowing the disagreeable ones to merely ‘Exit Stage Right’ and pass on away and out of sight.

It really is that simple and the positive results can be life-altering. But it does require being mindful.


It becomes more onerous though when we realize that we must accept responsibility for our selections, the ones we choose to take from the passing thought stream and act upon, and then living under a dark cloud of gloom if we have not selected wisely with our highest and best interests in mind.

Reflexively making unhealthy choices at the cafeteria selection belt by consuming a steady diet of super-sized fatty burgers, fries, cakes, cookies, candy bars, and milkshakes every day will have no less of a detrimental impact on our overall health, happiness, and wellbeing than selecting negative, unfavorable, hurtful, and unwholesome thoughts as they enter into our minds each day, inevitably followed by the oppressively gloomy dark clouds.

But we have the right and ability to allow those undesirable thoughts to continue on the conveyor belt and pass right on out of our mind again without acting upon them. Merely let them pass by untouched in the same way you might that unwanted passing dish of brussels sprouts and oysters.

Do not feel ashamed or guilty, nor judge yourself harshly for unhealthy and destructive thoughts entering your mind. Everyone has them, for with so many media and social stimuli and inputs each day we have as little control over where they come from or the randomness of thoughts passing thru our brains as we do menu offerings appearing on the conveyor belt in the cafeteria.

There are ways that we can help to influence our thoughts, but that’s a topic for another day.

The key point is that just as in the cafeteria — We Get To Choose Which Thoughts We Pick Up — while letting the others pass by and away untouched or acted on.


Spend today mindfully, being mentally aware and noticing, without judging, which thoughts are passing thru your mind today. Then choose to select and act only upon those which can bring the greatest good to both yourself and those around you.

Acknowledge being aware of the undesirable thoughts, just as you would notice the dish of brussels sprouts perhaps, but allow them to pass.  And then do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

Small steps — one hour, one day at a time — gradually but steadily raising your level of awareness and mindfulness in life-changing ways.  Positive thoughts are uplifting!

Much sooner than later, you may notice the air around you is lighter, people around you are friendlier, your food tastes better, unsolicited help begins appearing without asking, and your life as a whole has changed for the better as you spend more time and energy on the positive thoughts and ideas in line with your loving, basic, God-like nature.

I urge you to give it a try. After all, what do you have to lose — another grumpy, bummed-out day of judgment, negativity, and gloominess?


Because here’s the thing — when we become aware of our thoughts and persist in consciously and repetitively acting upon the negative and hurtful ones, then we are as responsible for the damage and pain they inflict on ourselves, our family, and others around us, as we would be for our 60-inch waistline from snatching all the poor food choices at the cafeteria.

Whatever we get out of life is the result of our own independent, conscious choices. And that begins with our thoughts. It’s not our background, upbringing, family, where we were born, financial situation, or anything else we might wish to point a finger at. It’s on us.  It is easier and better for everyone to accept responsibility for our thoughts and subsequent actions, and to follow our better natures.


Please imagine again, if you will, not only you and I acting upon our best kind and loving thoughts, but also together with us a whole bunch of folks the world over. Do you think it would take very long for the world to become a kinder and gentler home for us all?

Thanks always for visiting and reading with us. A single kind word or action has the power to positively change someone’s day or whole life. It’s all about sending out positive ripples.

Will you splash some kindness and brighten someone’s day today? —  Jim  (and Red!)


If you enjoyed this piece, you may also like —  “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” 

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“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl

                “Guard well your thoughts when alone and your words when accompanied.”                 – Roy T. Bennett


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                                                                   “We are addicted to our thoughts.                                                 We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.” – Santosh Kalwar


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“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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


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  


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

“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


 

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


 

 

“Warning” Poem by Jenny Joseph — “When I Grow Old, I Shall Wear Purple”

With April being ‘National Poetry Month’ and a focus on spreading awareness and appreciation of poetry, it seems appropriate to share a few favorites along the way.

The “Warning” poem by English poet Jenny Joseph (born May 7, 1932 in Birmingham) is one such poem, because I hear her speaking to each of us, male or female, in an ode to nonconformity, one of my personal favorite rants and topics.   In a humorous, tongue-in-cheek and  fun way, Jenny Joseph conveys a serious message for all, to never take ourselves too seriously or lose the twinkle in our eyes.

Age, after all, truly is only a number.  Contrary to earlier admonitions in my youth to the opposite — “Act your shoe size, not your age!”  It’s a lot more fun.

“Warning” was penned in 1961 at the age of twenty-nine.  Although having published many works in her lifetime and having received numerous awards, Jenny Joseph is best known for this defining poem.  The second line became the inspiration for the founding of the Red Hat Society, the self-described playgroup for women where there is “Fun and Friendship After Fifty.”

“Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple” and Jenny Joseph’s other works are available on Amazon.


“Warning” by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple,
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves,
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired,
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells,
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain,
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens,
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat,
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go,
Or only bread and pickle for a week,
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry,
And pay our rent and not swear in the street,
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised,
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.


Interestingly, Jenny Joseph is apparently not a fan of the color purple in her own wardrobe (“It doesn’t suit me”), even though the two have perhaps become inseparably linked thru her poem.  But for her to now wear purple against her own personal tastes would be to conform to popular expectations, and that’s really what the poem is all about, isn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by and visiting with us.  Always remember, one very small act of kindness can change someone’s whole day or life around.  Be the reason someone smiles today! — Jim (and Red!)

If you enjoyed this post, check out —  “I Will Greet This Day With Love In My Heart” 


“Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet.” – Sarah Louise Delany

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain


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

  “You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.”    — Michael Pritchard


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“Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” — Betty Friedan


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 my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as an ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes. Because together we can do so much!


“None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.” — Henry David Thoreau


 

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.

Wednesday Whimsy — “Attacked by an Envelope!”

Wednesdays seem tailor-made for great themes and hashtags.  Wednesday Wildlife and Wednesday Wisdom to name just two.  Nothing so profound today, but please indulge me a bit of Wednesday Whimsy this morning.  Simply an observance of life.

What is it about a Paper Cut???

I was attacked by an ill-tempered manila envelope a few days ago, and it inflicted a very unpleasant paper cut on the middle finger of my right hand, smack dab right on the knuckle.  I clearly lost the battle.  After several days of close dealings with the postal system as the envelope had endured, I would perhaps be given to a bit of crankiness myself.  But still.  I hadn’t done anything to that envelope beyond freeing it from the mailbox, making such an attack totally unwarranted from my perspective. To make it worse, as the envelope undoubtedly had in mind at the time, I am right-handed.  So every time I bend that finger still, the cut painfully reopens bringing searing memories of the encounter flashing back to mind.

If someone came up to me on the street and said — “Give me your wallet or I will tear you limb from limb!” — while thought of the prospect might be daunting,  it is not relatable and I would probably dismiss the threat as hyperbole, braggadocio and embellishment.   Unless he is the Incredible Hulk on a tear, it’s most likely merely a figure of speech and not going to happen.

But if the same person approached and said — “Give me your wallet or I will give you a rather nasty paper cut!” — that is terrifyingly familiar, would send shivers down my spine and a threat I would take seriously, especially if he had a manila envelope in hand at the time.

So on the third day following the attack, I still have my finger coated with an antibiotic cream and heavily bandaged to keep out dirt, hoping that it will all promote a quick healing and return to normal everyday health and function soon, which it sadly has yet to do.  If someone sees the bandages and asks me what sort of trauma happened to my hand, I will simply reply — “Paper Cut”.  I’m sure they will understand.

Little Red Bear and I are working hard to finish a Christmas story for the holidays, made more challenging now by the bothersome paper cut making typing while heavily bandaged more laborious and difficult, but Red assures that our high purpose and intent will see me thru.  So we will persevere and overcome this new challenge!

And just so this Wednesday Whimsy wasn’t a total waste of time, I did manage to find an inspiring quote from Mahatma Gandhi for you.  We all encounter difficulties and hardships in our lives at some point. That’s just life. Strength comes from the determination not to give in to them, and from an inner resolve to  persevere and overcome whatever obstacles which may be placed in our life path.  Like a Paper Cut.

Thanks as always for visiting! I’m going to go rest my finger now.   —  Jim (and Red!)

— This Wednesday Whimsy Brought To You By — 

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

 

 

The Best Day of Your Life? — The Day Your Life Begins!

This positive motivational message brought to you today by “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Story Collections, the “Margaret Monarch Plant Wildflowers for Wildlife Association”, and by the “Irresponsible Actions and Happiness Institute” — proud sponsors of independent thought and happy living everywhere.

Partial funding provided by “The Bobo and Lily Bears Foundation for Higher Nature Awareness and Appreciation”, by the “Expose Kids to Dirt and Nature Movement” located in Good Hope, and by the “‘One Day Just Ain’t Enough Recognition’ Grumpy Groundhog Group.”

Funding to support this site provided by “Old Glory Bears & Raggedy Dolls,” maker of collector teddy bears, dolls and fine quality accessories worldwide.

And by dedicated home readers like you.  Thanks as always for visiting and reading along!  —  Jim (and Red!)

Quote- Bob Moawad

Quote- Bob Moawad

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Stories on Amazon. 

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

Take A Walk For Exercise, Come Home With A Story Idea– a ‘Two-fer’!

A beautiful day here yesterday with the temperature reaching 70F.  A grey, overcast morning gave way to brilliant sunshine in the afternoon, with daffodils everywhere stretching to bask in the warmth.  You could almost hear the tree buds popping open to welcome spring.  So I took an afternoon walk for fresh air and exercise.  Always a good thing.  And, as so frequently happens on walks, a fun new story idea presented itself along the way.

Walking along, I caught sight of a man getting out of his pickup truck and walking around to the back door of his home.  A while later, I observed a young lady pull into a driveway, exit the car, proceed up the walk and knock on the front door. That’s all.  Simple as that.   BAMM!  The inspiration for a fun conversation in the next set of Little Red Bear stories came to mind.  I completed the walk, came in and wrote out a new scene and character conversation, right out of the blue.  A small sequence in a large collection of stories, but isn’t that what creativity is — little bits all stitched together to form a whole?  Kind of like an old-fashioned quilt in that way.

I read a selection recently about taking the time and making the effort to  be more mindful to fully appreciate the everyday, mundane tasks that we go thru by rote each and every day, half awake in a hypnotic and robotic state without even being aware of what we are doing.  How does the shower water feel? What does the shampoo smell like?  How does the toothpaste taste and smell?  The true aromas of breakfast.  Flower scents in the air when heading outside. The feel on our face of a morning mist or breeze. Being aware and alive to consciously witness and take pleasure in everyday experiences and occurrences going on all around us all thru the day.  Living and Being in the moment.

And when we are in ‘aware mode’, fully cognizant of and appreciating our life and all around us, then creative and story ideas are everywhere.  It’s as simple as watching someone get out of their car.  Next time you find yourself stuck for a creative idea or inspiration, the answer may be waiting right outside the door.  Why not go outside and see?

Thanks for stopping by to visit.  It’s even more beautiful this morning.  I feel another walk coming on.  —  Jim (and Red!)

Writing- Walking for Ideas 2

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” on Amazon

Short Stories About An Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends

The Importance of Play!

Nature programs and the internet are full of videos showing cute baby animals at play.  Young animals learn critical life skills thru their play, and human children are no different.  The old saying — “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” — certainly applies to children and the learning process.

Thru active play children learn to use their imaginations as well as developing critical interactive social skills and creativity.  Outdoor play is even better, combining activity with fresh air and exercise.  Children not only deserve, but need a healthy dose of playtime.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”   ~ Fred (Mr.) Rogers

It is important to remember also, that playtime is not restricted to the young.  We all need to step away from the routine now and then to refresh and recharge, in order to remain healthy, alert and active; both living and enjoying life to the fullest.

Thanks as always for visiting.    Now, go outside and play! — Jim (and Red!)

Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith via Garden of Bright Images, Facebook

Artwork by Jessie Willcox Smith
via Garden of Bright Images, Facebook

There Are No Age Limits on Fun!  “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” Short Stories.  For All Age Groups and Fitness Levels!

A Guest Post — “Chasing the Fae . . . . .”

The internet is a wonderful and strange new place where we get to form real and significant friendships with people across the globe that, rather unfortunately, we will probably never get to meet in person.  Such a treasured ‘net friend is Sylva Fae, and her thoroughly charming and delightful family.  Living in a magical woodland in the UK, Sylva shares adventures in parenting, along with stories of childhood wonderment, discoveries and fascinations in her blog entries.  I invite you to Visit and Follow Sylva Fae’s Blog, and you too will be charmed by the woodland, the fairy gardens and inhabitants.   I am honored to be able to share her most recent uplifting post with you here.  Enjoy.

“Chasing the Fae…”

25efbfcb-c190-41d5-b5b3-30dea2c96ac9This is a time of year for reflection, for pondering and for weighing up the good and the bad of the last year. For me it was a year of great change. I’ve escaped a job I’d grown weary of and tumbled into a new career. I’ve seen my baby grow up to become a school girl, I’ve watched my middle daughter blossom in confidence and my eldest little diva is now dancing through junior school. The school terms mark the passing of time as my girls learn faster than I can keep up with.

As a parent I am constantly trying to keep the balance between boundaries and rules, and allowing children to just be children. I worry about whether I’m doing enough, being strict enough or too strict. I relentlessly remind them of their pleases and thank yous and hope that they use them with others. I read with them, sing, dance and play with them, we run through the fields, scramble through bushes and climb the trees together but I don’t take them to the clubs other children their age go to. Our weekends have no structure, no plan, we just check the weather and choose an adventure. I often worry if it’s enough.

PhotoLab_app_Charcoal_Drawing

The previous month brought happy tears as I watched each of my little ones sing in their school plays. It also brought proud mummy moments as I crouched, knees up to ears on a tiny school chair listening while their teachers reported on their year in class. It seems my three are known for their manners (phew!), are effortlessly coasting through their lessons and are kind to others. Good to know but what made me smile most, was each teacher commented on their vivid imaginations, their aptitude for story telling and the amazing illustrations they create to go with their stories. One teacher said with a giggle, that she always looked forward to what she’d write about her weekend adventures. She showed me a few and laughed about how she tried to make her describe her weekend but she always insisted on telling a story instead. I read a few. They told of leaving the woodland path and wading through thick forest to discover secret lands, of hunting dragons and making houses for the fairies, they described chasing mermaids across the sky and climbing to the tops of the tallest trees to capture the sunbeams. I smiled back at the teacher and assured her it was all actually true. I’m not sure whether the teacher believed me or made a mental note that their mother was quite loopy. She smiled in a knowing way and moved swiftly onto her maths progress.

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In those moments of self doubt, I remember that I have fuelled that imagination, fed it and encouraged it to run wild. I have provided the playground and focused their minds to see beyond what the eye can capture. I may not be a conventional mum but then I did not have a very conventional childhood. I blame my mum! My girls share our family trait, we’re deemed by others to be bizarre but I am secretly proud my girls have inherited my weirdness. I can’t blame all my quirks on my mum but she was the one who taught me to read and I have passed on that love of books to my daughters. Giving them the gift of literacy is something I can be proud of.

561f7fb5-040a-4f6a-a01e-ed4b073b5690

b99f9029-8769-453a-9765-448280b85477This new year blew in with the weather. Here in England, we’ve had a wet and gloomy start to 2016 with many flooded out by heavy rains.This weather has kept us from going out as much as we’d like and I’m missing my little woodland. My girls have been wishing for snow for weeks and finally their wishes were granted. We awoke today to a white garden and sparkling trees; they couldn’t wait to build their first snowman. I happily dodged snowballs and helped give our snowman a smile, but I’m secretly wishing for sunshine, for lazy, carefree days to run through the fields. Whatever the weather, I know this year will bring many more adventures out in the woods, making memories and writing stories to baffle teachers and keep my little faeries entertained. One thing I know for sure, I’ll be spending my days chasing the fae.