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.

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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.

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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.

“Finding A Purpose Driven Life — What Would You Do If . . . . . . ?”

Have you ever wondered “What on Earth am I here for?”  Of course. Who really hasn’t?

In finding our life paths and callings, there are three important questions to ask for both ourselves and guiding our children to find a meaningful and purpose driven life —

  • What would you do if . . . .  it were impossible for you to fail?
  • What would you do if . . . . money did not matter?
  • What would you do if . . . . you did not care what anyone else thought about what you do?

To find the answers, we need to quiet our minds from the outside noise of the world, be still, and listen to our heart and inner voice; and not allow ourselves to be guided by our ego driven mind to find the key.

A wonderful video via National Geographic featuring the message of Alan Watts provides insights for us all.   What would you do if . . . . . . . . . ?

Life is much too short and precious to waste it feeling miserable.  Aligning with our real purpose for being here makes all the difference. Helping our children to learn and understand that lesson can help make all the difference in their lives, too.

So — what do you really, truly desire for your life? And for your family?  And for your children’s lives?

Thanks as always for visiting with us.  Find your happiness and peace, share it, and be the reason someone smiles today! — Jim (and Red!)


Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

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“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.

Children + Nature + Outdoors = Happy, Healthy Balanced Kids


A Special “Thank You!” for Readers and What’s Ahead in the New Year!

A special New Year’s Thank You!” to everyone who has followed along the past year on the Blog, my Author Facebook Page, on Twitter and with “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories book collection released in June!

A few quick hits for New Year’s.  I am not a big numbers guy, not seeking to build great legions of followers for the sole sake of impressive numbers and ego stroking. But when you write or put creative work out there for the enjoyment of others, numbers are a way of gauging whether there is any interest or if your work is fostering the intended enjoyment for others.

So it was encouraging to see that my Blog site continues to grow, having achieved a 60% increase in both visits and followers in 2015, was visited over 4,400 times and reached a new high averaging 20 visits per day in December and now being read in 86 countries!   “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” continues to gain new readers internationally, and has been very positively received.  Twitter followers are nearing the 10,000 mark worldwide.   We keep growing together, one positive message at a time.

To me, this is an indication and further encouragement that there still remains a receptive audience and place for enjoyable clean, uplifting and positive themed information and entertainment of high standards.  So for you, readers and followers – Thank You!

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Looking ahead, the course will remain the same but hopefully with even more activity shared in the coming year.  As always, the focus will be Entertaining, Informational and Educational.  In the works for the new year are –

A continued focus on the natural world and conservation issues including the revival of nature interviews and features on the Blog by our assistant, “Rusty the Fairydiddle”, a Red Squirrel Reporter, as only a Red Squirrel can do them.  Check out “Rusty Behind the Scenes — The Gray Fox Interview” for a sample.

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

Rusty the Fairdiddle, Red Squirrel Reporter on the Job!

A serialized Free Story or two on the Blog, similar to the “Ozarks Ostrich Crisis” which started it all a couple years ago.

More Free Reads, Poetry and other Short Works as inspiration and the muses allow.

Little Red Bear finds humans fascinating for one reason or another, so in addition a new series of interviews is planned on the Blog to include not only fellow writers and authors, but other creative and interesting folk as well.  The list of those already agreeing to be interviewed include photographers of various disciplines, artists, authors and more.

“The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.” ~ Michelangelo

Plans also include sharing more new teddy bears, raggedy dolls and other creations and information on the Blog, just for fun.

And — after months of “thinking” and note-making, writing on the next collection of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” short stories began in earnest the past week.  As you may recall, the full title of the first collection of stories was “The Adventures of Little Red Bear:  The First Holler!”   The next collection will be appropriately titled “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The Second Holler Over!”  Returning the main characters, it will also feature the introduction of some very new and colorful characters as fun and hijinks in the backwoods continues.  And with those pesky weasels still around, we’re never really quite sure what may happen.  Red and I are working towards a summer or early fall release, so please stay in touch for updates.

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

So Much Work, So Many Adventures, So Little Time!

Actually, staying in touch is pretty easy.  Following the blog is as simple as signing up, with notifications of all new posts delivered directly to your email inbox.  It is always Free, never any spam, and features a growing list of Free Reads, Information and Fun Stuff available anytime.  Some easy links to follow the Blog and on Twitter are located in the column to the right.  Just click here to “LIKE” and follow my Author Facebook Page and on Pinterest.  Please join me on my Personal Facebook Page for a steady stream of positive and uplifting messages, recipes, music selections, shared artworks and photography from friends, and other fun.

As we move further into the new year, I expect the general loudness and rancor may increase as we approach the Presidential election in November.  My intention is for all of my sites to serve as a mental oasis and refuge of quiet, peace, kindness and love for everyone.  You are welcome to visit anytime.

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So, heading off into the new year and next set of Little Red Bear adventures, then.  Thank You again for a wonderful and encouraging year!   And please remember, the “Welcome” mat is always out, there’s a pitcher of tea waiting and cookies in the jar at all times; and comments, feedback, referrals and sharing are strongly encouraged and very much appreciated.  As Little Red Bear is fond of saying — “A shared joy is a doubled joy.”

Hoping to see you stop by and visit often!  — Jim (and Red!)

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“The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” Short Stories on Amazon.  About an uncommonly special bear and his friends! 

Christmas — “It’s In The Singing Of A Street Corner Choir . . . . . .”

Where do you find Christmas and the Christmas Spirit this time of year?

Do you look under a tree?  Search in the gift shop?  Or perhaps — at the street corner?

I have found when confronted with a mystical or difficult question, it is often best to ask a Muppet.   So —  “Where is the Christmas Spirit to be found?”

“It’s in the singing of a street corner choir,
It’s going home and getting warm by the fire,
It’s true, where ever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

“A cup of kindness that we share with another,
A sweet reunion with a friend or a brother,
In all the places you find love, it feels like Christmas.

“It is the season of the heart.
A special time of caring,
The ways of love made clear.
It is the season of the spirit.
The message if we hear it,
Is ‘Make it last all year’.

“It’s in the giving of a gift to another,
A pair of mittens that were made by your mother,
It’s all the ways that we show love that feel like Christmas.

“A part of childhood we’ll always remember,
It is the summer of the soul in December,
It’s when you do your best for love, it feels like Christmas.

“It is the season of the heart.
A special time of caring,
The ways of love made clear.
It is the season of the spirit.
The message if we hear it,
Is ‘Make it last all year’.

“It’s in the singing of a street corner choir,
It’s going home and getting warm by the fire,
It’s true, where ever you find love, it feels like Christmas.

“It’s true, where ever you find love,
It feels like Christmas.
It feels like Christmas.
It feels like Christmas.
It feels like Christmas!”

(“It Feels Like Christmas”  by  Paul Williams.    Published by Fuzzy Muppet Songs.)

Roy L. Smith observed — “He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”    True words.    Peace, Love and Joy are to be found within and shared in the company of others.

Merry Christmas!  Wishing everyone the best of Peace, Love and Joy this Holiday Season! — Jim (and Red!)

"The Muppet Christmas Carol", 1992. Produced and Directed by Brian Henson for Jim Henson Productions, and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

“The Muppet Christmas Carol”, 1992. Produced and Directed by Brian Henson for Jim Henson Productions, and released by Walt Disney Pictures.

To Give Is To Receive and Then — To Give Away

The practice of giving and serving, focusing attention on helping and benefiting others without recognition or return, is not limited to needed donations of clothing, food and money to organizations, but also includes smiles, friendship, a supportive hand or thought, and kindness given freely each day.   For in giving these away, we ourselves grow in love, kindness and compassion, the very things we are giving away, and experience our own spiritual fulfillment and healing.  The more love and kindness we give away, the more we receive and grow back in return — to again give away.

In “The Prophet”, Kahlil Gibran wrote — “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.”

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Children Are Always Paying Attention

Words are very powerful.  Life-changing at times.  For good or bad.  That’s why thinking before we speak, and speaking with kindness is ever so important, most especially around the fragile psyches of children.

That being said, actions speak louder than words.

“Children more attention pay,

To what you do, than what you say.”

~ Zig Ziglar

Like baby animals, our children learn by observing their parents and adults around them.  Imitating and mimicking their behavior. It’s what they do.  We may not think they are always paying attention in class or when we are talking about chores and lessons, but they are.  They are paying attention to how we respond to their not paying attention.  We all need to be careful and mindful of how we conduct ourselves and of the examples we set for not only our own children, but those around us as well.  Remember– they’re always watching.

Thanks for visiting! — Jim (and Red!)

Children- Educated- Carl Jung

Available for Preorder Now — “The Adventures of Little Red Bear–The First Holler!”

Ladies and Gentleman, Girls and Boys, Children of All Ages–

Step right up and be ready to be Amazed– be Enchanted– be Mystified– be Amused!

Here Ye, Here Ye! — The big day is here! 

Little Red Bear and I are delighted to announce that the first collection of stories in “The Adventures of Little Red Bear, The First Holler!”  is available for Preorder NOW on Amazon!

AVAILABLE NOW!  OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY!

Calloo-Callay!   Oh Frabjous Day!

Red’s book is ready!  What’s left to say?

The hard work is finished and the stories are written,

Unfortunately, yes, a few folks were bitten.

But not by Red, who’s quite pleasant, you see.

Come meet him yourself, he’s sweet and gentle like me.

We’ve worked long and hard to bring stories to you,

So join us on an adventure and bring the whole crew!

Please tell all your family,  all your friends and your neighbors.

The stories are top notch, just go ask the ‘gators!

We have singing birds, some very worried bunnies,

And lots of bees buzzing, protecting their honeys.

There’s a pair of black bears who sometimes bicker and fuss,

But the stories are “G Rated”, so no one can cuss.

With a fox, and a pig, turtles, beavers and more,

Can’t tell you any others or we’ll spoil what’s in store.

Lots of flowers and trees cover beautiful Honey Hill,

That’s where Red’s cabin is.  Oh, you’re in for a thrill.

So grab up your overalls, old boots and straw hat,

Adventures are waiting, there’s no time left to chat.

The announcement’s right here so you’d be the first to know,

Now off to Amazon thru magical links you can go!

Little Red Bear and friends are anxious to meet you,

So hurry, use the link and that’s all you need do!

Order Your Copy Today!

Bear- Little Red Bear Hiding in Tree

A fun and captivating blend of humor and action/adventure stories featuring Little Red Bear–  a new kind of “Action Hero.” This collection of six short stories, the first in a series, features Little Red Bear, an uncommonly special bear living in the scenic Ozarks Mountain Country of Missouri, just a little south of the Sweet Tea Line, with a great number of friends—woodland critters, barnyard animals and human folk alike.

Exciting and heartwarming stories feature colorful, fun and loveable characters with positive themes of friendship, helping others, kindness and overcoming challenges in life; blended with educational information on the ways of nature, the environment, conservation and a love of the outdoors.

Family-friendly reading entertainment told in an old-fashioned, story-telling tradition in a style and pace we just call “Country Comfortable”, the stories are suitable and fun for all age groups.

Younger children will benefit most from having the stories read to them, as they are not written on a beginner reading level and are not picture book type stories.  Little Red Bear is a real bear living in the mountains and backwoods with real story character companions and activities.  These are not your mother’s cuddly little “Winnie the Pooh” stories.  Just sayin’.

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear” for Kindle will release on June 23rd and is available for preorder on Amazon.  The print version, 302 pages in length, is available on Amazon right now for immediate delivery.  Order your Print Copy today!

On behalf of Red and the whole backwoods crew of characters, thanks as always for following along and supporting us on the journey.  Little Red Bear can’t wait to meet you! —  Jim  (and Red!)

“The Adventures of Little Red Bear”– On Amazon for Kindle & Paperback

"Will someone please read me a story about Little Red Bear?"

“Will someone please read me a story about Little Red Bear?”

 

 

“The Silent Voice of Nature”

There is a deep and ancient wisdom held by the trees, wilderness and nature.   Quiet your mind and be attentive for the voice you can only feel.  Peace and answers await in the stillness.

“Close your eyes so the heart may become your eye,
and with that vision look upon another world.”

Birds- Hummingbird Art via TW, uncredited

“A Moment in Time” by John Kolenberg, available on Fine Art America.com

“There is a voice that does not use words. Listen.”

— Rumi

 

 

Plant Only Love!

As we head outdoors into the gardens and flower beds with springtime now, let’s also carry this wonderful thought along from the 13th century poet Rumi, below.

In the garden of life, plant only love wherever you may go, and watch it blossom.  Wishing everyone a wonderful and Happy Mother’s Day weekend! — Jim (and Red!)

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