Becoming Mindfully Aware Of Our 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.

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 today for someone? —  Jim  (and Red!)


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

(If a new visitor — Welcome! To see what is coming in the New Year on this site, please check out — “It’s A New Year — The Guideposts Are Set — Here’s Where We’re Going!” — and sign up to follow and be notified of every new post!)


“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.” – Roy T. Bennett

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


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


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

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


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, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


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


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s A New Year — The Guideposts Are Set — Here’s Where We’re Going!

Happy 2019! 

A brand-spanking new, shiny, and as yet unblemished and dent-free New Year. The start of a new year is like a new car, fresh off the assembly line, complete with an assumed bumper-to-bumper warranty, many expectant miles to log on the odometer, and all the hopes and dreams which only a new car smell can inspire.

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve annual hopes and goals spring anew within our hearts, as daffodils bursting thru late snow beckon the long-awaited arrival of Spring.

Maybe yet another way of looking at a new year is as a blank slate with our having no way of knowing what will be written upon it as the year unfolds. What do we each hope and plan to write on our slate for the year?  How will this new year, still full of January’s fresh hopes and promises, be scored when the coming year’s unforeseen events, decisions, and actions cast long shadows in December?

Regardless of our individual approaches to a new year, most regard it as a time of looking forward with a fresh start, of high expectations, of planning and preparing.


Taking a moment first to look back before looking forward, the year just passed was one of the busiest and perhaps more challenging of my life (having counted 69 of them now!), including two out of town cross country trip weddings for my twin sons, with a major relocation move sandwiched in between in the summer months, and extended absences while dog- and house-sitting for others sprinkled thru the year. It seemed at times as though writing distractions seemed to leap out from behind every corner.

When Thanksgiving came and went, and the last trip and activity had been marked off the calendar, the schedule wondrously opened thru the remainder of the year to finally complete the summer’s delayed moving work of unpacking, settling into my new home, and getting back to writing with Little Red Bear. But, as we should know, the Universe sometimes has other plans and things in mind for us which always seem to take precedent.

As Facebook Friends are aware (not previously shared elsewhere), the year concluded on a more challenging note when I ruptured the biceps distal tendon below the elbow in my right (primary) arm the last week of November when lifting a ridiculously (now looking back) heavy box unpacking, resulting in surgery on December 7th to repair and reattach the totally shredded and displaced tendon to the radius bone below the elbow. Two separate incisions, drilling, a washer, pins, and assorted medical magic and miracles.

A post-surgery full arm cast was replaced at Christmas by what friends refer to as my new ‘Robo Arm’ brace, which I will continue to wear for the foreseeable future, recovery presumably measured in months and not weeks. (The photo is a mirror image, really my right arm. Left hand did its best trying to get the photo.)

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

– Dennis P. Kimbro

With my right arm and hand prohibited from any movement or use at all with the sole exception of twice-daily therapy stretches, my left arm and hand (hereinafter referred to as “Lefty”) have both had a very steep learning curve the past month. Happy to report that Lefty is doing very well, better than expected actually, and is solely doing the typing and preparation work for this post.

(Doing well, that is, with the notable exception of being able to eat soup without embarrassment and adding to the laundry pile.

And on a related note – why is that upon hearing of your surgery and suddenly limited to sole use of your off-hand, friends all rush to bring bowls of healing Soup to your aid?

Not to sound unappreciative, because I truly am grateful and love homemade soups, but a pepperoni pizza or cheeseburger didn’t occur to anyone at all? This is the first holiday season in which I actually lost weight. Soup – the under-appreciated weightloss secret.

Sorry, I digressed. Hunger tends to have that distracting effect on me, regrettably.)

Lefty will continue to fly solo until such time as Righty is cleared for return to duty.  Therapy is going very well, so “hoping” it will not be too, too long before Righty can at least get back to typing. Will see. Sharing this only so everyone understands the uncharacteristic absence of regular posts and annual new holiday features the past several weeks.


Traditional New Year’s Resolutions in and of themselves are not a thing here, most often having been an exercise in self-deluding folly and foolishness in the past. That being said, it would be no less foolhardy setting sail without noting the prevailing wind direction and at least an idea of where you hoped to eventually arrive.

Looking forward to the New Year then, while beginning the new year with my ‘good’ arm figuratively tied behind my back for an undetermined period, there are a number of things we (that would be Little Red Bear and me)  still plan to focus on and look forward to accomplishing in the coming year.

Notably —

  • A resumption of regular blog posting activities and pages focusing on the important themes of Children, Family, Kindness, Compassion, Positivity, Inclusion, Diversity, Wildlife, and Mother Nature. That is what we have been and will continue to be about here.
  • An increased focus on heightening awareness, saving, and preserving the environment and natural world around us for our children and future generations. There is no backup or “Earth 2.0” in the works.  We all share this planet as our home, and it is the only one we have.
  • Joining with the focus on Positivity, more attention on self-awareness, improvement, and our place in the Cosmos. Why do so many seem to be increasingly disconnected today?
  • Continuing to freely share more feature stories of interest (like the Haddon Sundblom ‘Coke Santa’ feature), original short stories (like the ‘Susie’s Bear’ story), and works of Poetry (like the recent ‘Tex-Mex and Rex’ poem). (Yes – there will be more poetry – consider yourself warned.)
  • Completion of the long-anticipated second collection of Little Red Bear stories book – “The Second Holler Over!” for release in the fall. More new characters – new locations – more adventures – and a somewhat novel new format. Watch for updates as we get closer to the release date!
  • Adding more games, puzzles, and other activities to Little Red Bear’s Activities Pages for children. Watch for new ‘Coloring Pages’ coming soon, featuring domestic animals, wildlife, flowers, and other items from nature to help educate and interest the little ones, including several characters from “The Adventures of Little Red Bear” stories!
  • A resumption of the popular “Ask Little Red Bear” feature, wherein Red responds to reader questions. He already has an accumulated stack to get thru, but if you have any questions regarding one of Red’s stories, nature, or life advice in general, please just send them along and Red will try his best to get to them around writing sessions (and fishing).
  • Continuation of the always popular “Little Red Bear’s Hand-picked Recipes” specials for holidays and seasons thru the year, with a few additional now and then concentrating on one dish and variations. Stay tuned.
  • Continue developmental work on a series of Picture Book type stories in verse for Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their friends, to bring Red’s messages of kindness, positivity, and nature more intimately and in a more colorfully fun way to pre-readers and little ones, and to distribute to those in hospital care.
  • Add a new feature presenting interesting historical and background information on some of the topics, locations, characters, and other items influencing but perhaps not actually making it either in whole or in part into the Little Red Bear stories. Only so much can be fit into the short story format or into a book, and so much material which must be trimmed is fascinating from a true historical or inspirational sense. Red thought you might enjoy seeing some of it.
  • Call back Rusty the Fairydiddle, our intrepid little Red Squirrel Reporter, from his extended personal appearance tour following his featured role in the “Pine Holler Christmas” story, to conduct some more character interviews for you, like the one he did with Groovy Gary that time.
  • Time permitting (and we really want to do these!) the publication of separate standalone Little Red Bear stories (like “Pine Holler Christmas”) — a conservation-themed story entitled “Walking With Trees” for which I am doing extensive reading and research at present for a targeted summer release, a ‘Not-So-Frightfully-Scary’, Spooky Halloween Story for fall, and a second Christmas-themed story for the holidays, tentatively titled “Little Red Bear and the Kris Kringle Krinkle Krunch Krewe.”
  • Because many of our readers are Seniors with Little Red Bear being enjoyed from one end of the age spectrum to the other, we will attempt to make the already published books available in Large Print editions, as many have requested. But, like the publishing of other books, this one may likely require more outside technical help beyond my abilities, so will be dependent on financial resources and ability to bring this about in addition to the publication of the new works listed above. This may be the most “iffy” with hospital surgery bills coming in the mail and extended therapy copays, but again — we really would like to do this for our senior readers.
  • Lastly, in the “thinking about” stage, perhaps doing a continuing  feature with Little Red Bear, Cinnamon Charlie, and their friends in Little Red Bear Land, freely shared on the Writing Pages here in weekly installments, either in continuing serialized story form like the weekly ‘Little Orphan Annie’, ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘Flash Gordon’, and other radio serials years ago, or with more of a “Happening This Week in Little Red Bear Land” news story approach in a Garrison Keillor “Tales From Lake Wobegon” fashion. Either way, just considering and trying to work it out with Red as possibly something fun to do and share. If you have any thoughts or suggestions on this one, which approach sounds most interesting, or other, please let us know in the comments. We would love to hear them!

Seems like an ambitious list, doesn’t it? But isn’t that the whole idea expressed by the old phrases “Shoot for the stars!”, “Reach for the sky!”, “Go for the gusto!”, “Go the limit!”, and others? The whole purpose of making the effort and stretching our abilities to improve and grow?

Little Red Bear and I may not achieve all of these goals this year, because as my ‘Robo Arm’ indicates, life can unexpectedly intervene and alter the best-made plans at times.

But the approach here has always been that small, incremental daily changes add up to big results over time, getting up each morning a little further down the road towards our goal than the previous morning and the morning before that. A decision to be healthier this time last year led to me changing my lifestyle and slowly losing just a little over a pound a week last year. No big deal.  But again, small incremental changes add up to big results over time. In my case, a 66-pound weight loss over the year, significantly reduced blood pressure, no blood sugar issues, and every pre-surgery blood test within normal ranges. Keep taking small steps, and sooner than later you will get there!

So, will we reach all of the above goals? Well, just like the weight loss, we are going to keep at it each and every day, step by step, and give it our persistent and very best effort. And whether we achieve all, some, or only a few items, we will be further down the road and in a better place with our writing work and mission than where we begin today. Little Red Bear and I feel that we are already in a better place and off to a very good start by simply having made our list and having set the guideposts for our journey this year.

In summary, Little Red Bear and I will strive to continue bringing new posts, features, and creative projects to the Writing Pages with the intention of being Entertaining, Informative, and Educational, while also helping to Encourage everyone to become their very best true self.

If we do that, we feel, that come December it will have been a very good year, and any shadows cast will all be positive.

Little Red Bear and I have set our course. The above items are intended as the Guideposts for our journey thru this new year as we continue to do our small part in trying to make the world a more kind and gentle home for every one and every thing. We hope that you will be here to join with us each step along the way!


Even if so many may not end up holding that wished-for winning lottery ticket in the coming months, there are loads of things we can engrave upon our personal slates this year before we count down the seconds with bated breath while awaiting the magical clock strike heralding the arrival of the next shiny new year.

What are your plans for the New Year? For inspiration and ideas, I invite and encourage you to visit my fellow bloggers and friends, below, as they share their thoughts about the coming year. Then, perhaps pull out a blank slate to chart your course for the year!

And if unsure or having doubts about your ability to make positive changes in your own life this year, maybe it would help you to know that both Little Red Bear and I believe in you! Just take the first small step to get started. Then the next. And the next. And the next. Then, eventually, you will look back at this time next year and see how very far you have come!

For inspiration, visit — “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” and  “Finding A Purpose Driven Life – What Would You Do If .  .  . ?”   Then get going on your slate and New Year!


Here is what my friends are doing . . . . . .

Cat Michaels
Rosie Russell
Sandra Bennett
Carmela Dutra
Julie Gorges
Shana Gorian
Corrina Holyoake
Jacqui Letran
Rebecca Lyndsey

Thanks always for spending part of your day with us here, because when all is said and done, you are why we do this! Wishing you and yours the very best as you chart your own course for this shiny new year! — Jim  (and Red!)

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


Think Globally – Act Locally! Tomorrow Begins With YOU Today!

“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” – William James


Meet Little Red Bear & His Friends —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”


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

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu


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, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“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


What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Have you heard of the “Teal Pumpkin Project®”?  Having a young family member with notable food restrictions, the Teal Pumpkin Project is something we strongly support and recommend for the safety of food-sensitive children and a way to allow all to fully participate and enjoy the fun of Halloween and trick-or-treating.

Prompted by childhood food allergies, the Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement to create a safer, healthier, and happy Halloween experience for all children, including those with food allergies, which can be life-altering and life-threatening. One in thirteen children suffers from some sort of food allergy today.  Among the project’s goals is to raise awareness of food allergies and to promote inclusion for all little trick-or-treaters during the Halloween season.

Halloween can be an especially challenging time for children, parents, and families managing food allergies on a daily basis. Many “mini” or “fun-sized” treats are not labeled with food ingredients and/or contain different ingredients than their full-sized counterparts, making managing for parents even more difficult.

The goal is to offer non-food treats for children dealing with allergies, as well as others for whom candy treats may not be an option. The whole purpose is not only food safety for those with allergies but also kindness and inclusion. Small children confronted with allergy issues will be delighted to receive a small non-food, non-threatening treat alternative, while other children can still receive traditional Halloween treats. No one left out of the fun. That’s the Little Red Bear way!


Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.

  • Simply provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.
  • Place a Teal Pumpkin (‘teal’ is the chosen color of Food Allergy Awareness) in front of your home to indicate that you have non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters, or in lieu of a Teal Pumpkin, a sign or poster placed on your door or window.

Where do I get a Teal Pumpkin to put on my front porch?

  • Obtaining a Teal Pumpkin for Halloween is fairly simple — paint your own!  Grab some teal paint and make it a family project. If you have children of your own, it will be a wonderful learning opportunity to involve them to help educate and raise their awareness of food allergy issues. Perhaps they have friends who are affected by allergies, making it even more personal and beneficial to be included in the process.
  • If you cannot paint a pumpkin yourself, no worries. Teal pumpkins should hopefully be available for purchase both online and in local shopping outlets. As the movement continues to grow each year, they will become readily available.
  • If painting is not an option and teal pumpkins are not available in your local stores, all you really need to do is display a sign or teal pumpkin printout at your door or in a window, letting everyone know that you have non-food treats available. Tap on the image on the right to download the sign and print out a copy for your home. Participating is as simple as that.

What are acceptable Non-Food Treats?

  • Children love to do artwork — Pencils, Pens, Crayons, Markers, Stencils!
  • Children love to do artwork outdoors — Sidewalk Chalk!
  • Children love to blow bubbles — Bubble Blowers!
  • Halloween Erasers and Pencil Toppers are really cool.
  • Children love to remind us that they are around — Whistles, Kazoos, Clappers, and Noisemakers (parents will love you!)
  •  Bouncy Balls (small children never have enough bouncy balls!)
  • Glow Sticks!
  • Small Stuffed Animals!
  • Jumping Ropes!
  • Paddle Balls!
  • Stickers!
  • Small Playing Cards and Games!
  • Finger Puppets and Novelty Toys!
  • Simple Bracelets, Wrist Bands, and Necklaces!
  • Mini Yo-Yo’s or Slinkies!
  • Mini Wooden Airplanes!
  • And of course, the perennial Halloween favorite — Fake Dracula Teeth!
  • Note — When selecting non-food items, it is best to omit moldable clays which may contain wheat products, and to steer away from any items made of or containing latex, for those latex-sensitive individuals.

A quick trip to the local dollar or discount store should provide all you need, and may very likely be cheaper than high-priced candy these days, keeping in mind that if you do go the non-food treat route only one in thirteen children will be seeking the non-food treats, so not talking about a great deal of items. Just enough to include a little something for everyone. Time spent in making an extra trip each Halloween will be more than offset by the warm feeling of knowing that you are doing something not only nice but also beneficial for the kids, and by the smiles and happiness of those receiving your special treat items on Halloween night.


This year, Little Red Bear and I urge you to join us in taking the pledge —


If you would like to learn more about food allergies and The Teal Pumpkin Project simply tap the link to visit the Food Allergy Research & Education page, where more suggestions for non-food treats and other ways to participate and help the movement are available. You can also read more about How The Teal Pumpkin Project Began.

Here is a resource site for downloadable Free Signs, Flyers & More!

Thanks always for visiting with us.  We hope that you will join Little Red Bear and me in The Teal Pumpkin Project and helping to make this a safe, healthy, and enjoyable Halloween — for Everyone! — Jim (and Red!)


“Thank God for little children; when our skies turn cold and gray, They come as sunshine to our hearts, and charm our cares away.” – Frances Watkins Harper

“He who has health, has hope. And he who has hope, has everything.” –  Thomas Carlyle


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

                 “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”             — Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Lakota)


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, because together we can do so much!

With the help of patrons, each month we are able to donate free print copies of “The Adventures of Little Red Bear: The First Holler!” to Senior Citizens,  School Libraries and Classrooms, and to those who could otherwise not obtain a copy.

Patrons also help my friend Little Red Bear and me to continue this as a non-monetized, ad-free site,  dedicated solely to entertainment and educational purposes while sharing positive messages of happiness, inspiration, and kindness with everyone. We invite you to join us in making a positive difference in the world!


“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling that you cherished them.” – Richard L. Evans

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” –  John F. Kennedy



For Our New Visitors Wondering — 

“Who is Little Red Bear?”

 Meet Little Red Bear and His Friends in this short introduction to the stories —  “Once Upon A Time In A Very Special Woods . . . .”



 

For National Poetry Month — “The Story of Jack and Jill Retold”

With the month of April and National Poetry Month winding down, my writing muse urged me to give poetry another go before returning to work with Little Red Bear on his adventure stories.

If new to my writing pages site and a poetry fan, I invite you to find more on my new Dime Rhymes page for generally shorter works, along with more poems and short stories under the ‘Short Works & Free Reads’ tab at the top of the page.

So, hope you enjoy this retelling of an old classic, with a twist.  As in ‘twisting’ the top off and first licking the cream filling inside, of course.


“The Story of Jack and Jill Retold”

Jack and Jill

Went up the hill,

To fetch a pail of Oreo’s.

Neither fell down,

Nor broke their crown,

Whilst on a break from after-school jobs at Florio’s.

For while pizza is fine and always a treat,

Cookies on a hilltop can never be beat!

Simply licking cookies sitting under a tree,

It all sounds like a very good time, to me.

Playfully seeking out hidden shapes in a cloud,

Proclaiming discoveries, exclaiming out loud.

Moments to enjoy, look back and reflect,

Gather our thoughts, and with spirit connect.

We all should go on retreats of peace now and then,

For when the next chance may come, we never know when.

Made a few revisions to the old tale this day,

With no one being injured, at work or at play.

Just a little retelling, another fun poem,

Which should be no surprise, as by now we all know ‘em.

So, our Jack and Jill

Went up that hill,

Enjoying their pail of Oreo’s.

Time spent together,

Is always a treasure,

But now back to writing short story-o’s.


Thanks for visiting with us once again!  Please remember, happiness is a decision and way of travel, experiencing the journey along the way, not a destination.  Be kind and the reason someone smiles today!  —  Jim (and Red!)


 Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!


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

“So of cheerfulness, or a good temper, the more it is spent, the more it remains.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


 

“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


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


 

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!


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.

Wishing You a Very Good Year!

Happy New Year!  Wishing You a Very Good Year!

If you spend the coming year as if it were the very First Year in your life – opening your Mind to be Grateful, Aware and Alert to all of life’s Awe, Beauty, Wonders and Miracles;

and as if it were to be the very Last Year in your life – opening your Heart to all of life’s Kindness, Love, Compassion and Blessings;

and then letting them flow thru you to everyone that you meet and to everything around you —  to be blessed by your Smile, by your Touch, and by your Presence;

then you will have spent the coming year quite well — and it will truly be a very good year.    

This was adapted for the new year from my “Wishing You A Very Good Day” entry in the ‘About the Blog’ section, inspired by a message from Brother David Steindl-Rast.

Wishing you and your loved ones all the very best of health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year!   — Jim  (and Red!)

Peace  —  Compassion  —  Kindness  —  Love

Family Times — Together Times — The Best Times!

Family Sunday — “The Falling Leaves of Autumn”

Happy Autumn – Sunday – Family Day!

I  grew up raking leaves and jumping over and into leaf piles on Sunday afternoons. Then later raking them all into a pile over to where the summer vegetable garden had been and setting the pile on fire to burn them. Wonderful for improving the following season’s garden soil.  One of the most delightful scents of the year — burning leaves.  Crisp chilly days and the scent of burning leaves filling the air, an annual fall tradition and harbinger of the rapidly approaching holiday season and winter to follow.

"Falling Leaves" by John Sloane

“Falling Leaves” by John Sloane

I miss that. Many probably do not know the soul-comforting smell of burning leaves in the autumn air anymore. Nowadays the distinctive scents of autumn are gone, replaced by the endless droning of leaf blowers. Not the same to be sure, but as long as there are leaf piles to bury someone in, and to jump in and over until the legs call for a stop,  the back yards and front yards on a crisp autumn day can still be loads of family fun.

"Autumn Mood" by John Sloane

“Autumn Mood” by John Sloane

Autumn is a magical time of year. Shorter days. Chilly nights just right for a warming fire and sitting by the hearth. A refreshing cider or hot chocolate in hand.  Healthy exercise. Tossing a football and Frisbee, ultimately falling into the leaf pile with each catch.   A marvelous fall day to gather up all the family and head outdoors for a fun day of leaf raking – jumping – burying – leaping – collecting. Fresh air and exercise! And quality family time together, learning about the seasons and cycles of Mother Nature.

"Autumn Leaves" by John Sloane

“Autumn Leaves” by John Sloane

There are many old superstitions and beliefs about catching leaves in the fall.   Some folk believe it is good luck to catch a falling leaf.   Some even say that if you catch a falling leaf in autumn that you  will have a whole month of good luck. Others say that you should make a wish if you catch a falling leaf. There’s another school of thought that says if you catch a falling leaf on the first day of autumn you will not catch a cold all winter!

Pagan Europeans and some native North American cultures revered the oak tree and its leaves as sacred. Opinions differ on the professed benefits that accrue from catching falling leaves, whether on the actual first day of autumn or anytime during the autumn season.   Personally, I just think it’s fun, and made even more so on a windy day. “There it goes!”, and the chase is on.

Autumn Painting by John Sloane

Autumn Painting by John Sloane

Yet another tradition holds that you must keep the captured leaves until new green buds appear on the trees in the spring.  Only then can you safely dispose of them without the risk of ruining your fortunes.   As for me, I like to press them in heavy books with weights on top, and then coat them in Modge Podge, a clear coating to preserve and enjoy them all thru the year.  If you do that, be sure to catch them sooner than later, as newly-fallen leaves, more soft and supple to the touch, preserve and hold onto their colors much better than do the dried up, crinkly ones.

Here are some neat leaf projects to do with the little ones — Helping to teach them how to sew with Sewing Patterns on Leaves, Making Leaf Foxes, Leaf Chalk Art, and Making Fall Leaf Prints . And here is information on How To Preserve Fall Leaves. Check out and follow my Pinterest Boards for more ways to preserve autumn leaves, fun projects and information.  And more things “Autumn.”

"Autumn Shadows" by John Sloane

“Autumn Shadows” by John Sloane

So round up the family and head outdoors for a day of leaf-themed play.  Rake leaves. Gather and collect the most beautifully colored leaves and save them to press.  Catch a Frisbee and fall into a leaf pile.  See who can jump the biggest pile. Make some Leaf Art.  And most of all —  have fun!  The glorious season of autumn only comes once each year and is soon gone, giving way to winter.  So let’s enjoy it while we can.

Today’s Family Sunday writing featured the artwork of one of my favorite country artists, John Sloane. Visit his John Sloane Art Page for upcoming calendars and more information.

Thanks as always for visiting! And have a wonderful Family Day!  — Jim (and Red!)

ps — work on a special Christmas holiday short story featuring Little Red Bear and some of his friends is coming right along. Watch for it in December!

"Country Life" by John Sloane

“Country Life” by John Sloane

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

Kindness and The Power of Words

My Mother, who I consider to quite possibly be the wisest person I have ever known, raised me on the adage of —  “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  Her intent was to both support me when on the receiving end of hurtful barbs sent my way, and to make sure that I learned not to launch any in the direction of others myself.

quote-kindness-careful-words

With all due love and respect to Mom, that’s plain hogwash.  Sticks and stones may break our bones, but Words can be truly hurtful.  We need to be especially careful, supportive and encouraging with our chosen words for children, whose self-images and psyches can be so fragile.  And with everyone, really.  Words have the power to hurt or heal.  Support or discourage.  Build up or tear down.  Words can serve to create or to devastate and crush a young and loving spirit.  Broken bones and wounds tend to heal well over time, but poorly chosen, hurtful words can leave lasting impressions and scars that stay with us forever.

An unkind word is like toothpaste.  Once out, it is impossible to put back.  Hurtful and demeaning words may be forgiven, but likely never forgotten.

quote-kindness-kind-words-10

A kind word can mean the world to someone who may be going thru a rough stretch of road. And we never really know what someone may be going thru from outward appearances. Oftentimes, all a struggling person may need to turn a life in turmoil around is a kind word to know someone else cares.  On how many occasions after someone has passed, have we heard the sentiment — “If only I had told them . . . . “?

quote-words-power

We should never let pass the opportunity to lend a hand, help someone, or as William Makepeace Thackeray put it — “Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.”

Thanks as always for stopping in to visit.  Share a kind word, and make someone’s day a little brighter.  — Jim   (and Red!)

quote-kind-words

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

 

“Empathy — Walking a Mile in Their Moccasins”

As a kid growing up, to me my Mother was a suburban housewife, no different from all the other kids’ moms.  Getting me off to school in the morning, keeping up the house while dad worked, having dinner ready when he got home.  Doing the shopping and all the other household tasks of a 1950’s and 60’s housewife.

Only now, can I look back to realize and appreciate the rich Southern, Country and Native American background and traditions that my mother also brought to my upbringing. She had familiar and time-worn phrases that she would repeat over and over again which have stayed with me all my life. In retrospect, she was probably the wisest person I have ever known. One of her favorite admonitions was — “Never judge someone until you have walked a mile in their moccasins,” from the 1895 poem by Mary T. Lathrap.

Empathy 33

Everyone has a story and a chapter they are living today in that story, and we are all part of the whole.  What happens to one of us happens to all of us.    The world needs more Empathy.  So often we toss out the well-intentioned “Hey, how ya doin’?” without pause while we keep on walking.   What if we stopped our own pursuits  for a minute and meaningfully asked — “Really, how are you doing?”  And cared.

Empathy 27

The following is a wonderful, heartfelt video produced by the Cleveland Clinic which can be extended beyond the hospital walls to the world outside.   When you look at someone, do you observe the outward appearance of the person in front of you, or do you feel and see the story of the individual?

 “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” — Henry David Thoreau

Everyone is living their own story, facing their own struggles and battles, most of which we are not aware, and it gets lonely in the trenches sometimes. We need to take the time and make the effort to learn the stories to let someone know they are not alone.

Thanks as always for visiting!  Help make the world a more caring and better place today.   — Jim  (and Red!)

Empathy 25

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

“Hello August, My Old Friend . . .”

Happy August!  I think.  Truth be told, the month of August is a slog thru, survival test month for me.

Heat, Humidity and afternoon Headaches are a losing trifecta.  Waking up clear-headed this morning, I realized that trying to work thru a headache is like trying to drive your car with the emergency brake on. You can eventually, slowly get there, but aware of something grinding, dragging, holding you back and burning all the way.

Had another nagging, summer humidity headache yesterday afternoon and the result was, oddly enough –  a poem.    More or less.  Hard to see thru the haze, but it might be.

With deepest and heartfelt apologies to Simon and Garfunkel then . . . . . .

Hello August, my old friend.
I’ve come to sweat with you again.
Because my skin is quickly burning,
Feeling like I’m on a spit turning.
And the pain that was seared into my brain,
Still remains . . . . within the sound . . . . of agony.

“Friends,” said I, “you may not know,
Summer’s sultry heat wave grows.
Hear the forecast that it might teach you.
Use some sunscreen so it won’t scorch you.”
Hope my words, will be heeded by one and all,
As sweating . . . . we await the cooling breezes . . . . of Fall.

So here we are in  August.  That sweltering, grass-turned-brown, kids-back-to-school, muggy, hot and shriveled month that stands like the Great Wall of China between summer and the glorious season of Autumn.   Kind of like surmounting the final obstacle on the course, fighting off exhaustion to doggedly climb over the Warped Wall to finish the race and survive to reach the other side, where sweet and spicy Pumpkin Pies, Candied Apples, Cider, Cookies and the open Highway to the Holiday Season await!

Hang in there and stay cool.  Take frequent cooling breaks if working outdoors, limit physical exertion, wear loose fitting, light-colored clothing and stay hydrated with cool, clear liquids.   And please remember to bring the pets indoors with you during extreme summer heat.  They are wearing a fur coat and overheat, too.  And just like children, they overheat as quickly as we do, if not more so.  And check the backseats of cars, no one left behind.

We’re off for some iced tea and aspirins.  And a big bucket of ice.  Thanks as always for visiting with us!   —  Jim (and Red!)

Dog- Funny- Bulldog On Ice Cubes
Old-fashioned, Family-friendly Stories and Fun for All Ages and Fitness Levels!
About an Uncommonly Special Bear and His Friends.