We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Sir Winston Churchill
The photo from Roy’s artwork that I am sharing in this blog helped me to reflect on something I will do during this Lenten season. My intention is to gather with the grandkids and tell them about my childhood. Life was quite different 78 years ago. We did not have the distraction of electronics that now seems to take up so much of everyone’s free time. I know they will think I must have lived in prehistoric times when I tell them how I amused myself before television. Our family did not get our first television until I was 9 years old. Our weekends were spent visiting family. These visits were typically done around the table for a noontime meal. Conversations were about what was going on in their lives and the lives of relatives who weren’t there. This noontime meal went on for three or four hours. I was blessed to know my great grandparents who were immigrants of Italy and lived on a farm. When they arrived in the United States, they purchased land and started their farm in a rural area. It happened to be Harahan that is now a residential community where we have lived since we were married 52 years ago.
I love celebrations in life and feel blessed to have been born in a city that offers unlimited opportunities to participate in year-long celebrations. We have just ended the month-long Mardi Gras celebration. It was great gathering with family and friends as we viewed parades. I am now ready to delve into the Christian tradition of the Season of Lent. This is a great time to add a few disciplines into our life and to review our goals that we intended to accomplish when we celebrated the beginning of the new year.
As a child growing up Catholic, I was taught that Lent was a good time to give up something. That idea has greatly expanded and now includes the positive action approach of doing something helpful or beneficial for yourself and others. One suggestion is to introduce something new into our life like exercising three days a week, reading spiritual and inspirational articles, attending a personal growth lecture or workshop. Perhaps the commitment could be to visit family or friends we have not had the time to be with in quite a while. A great aspect about the 40-day Lenten Season is there are many others who are participating in this season with us and can support our intentions.
Here are a few ideas for positive actions that will enrich your Lenten Season.
You may want to share your plans for this Lenten Season with my readers. You can make a positive difference in your world and the world around you.
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one
less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
In 1982 the book The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck was released, and it became an immediate best seller. I enthusiastically purchased a copy. It really spoke to me. It connected the dots in the way life was unfolding for me. My curiosity about so many aspects of life led me to workshops and experiences of personal growth that most of my friends and acquaintances had no interest in pursuing.
The following are comments made about the book.
"The Road Less Traveled" will make you realize that you CAN take charge of your life and your destiny. It is a journey toward self-acceptance that will affirm that life is worth living. It is one of the best books…
What does "take the Road Less Traveled by" mean?
Metaphorically speaking, someone who takes 'the road less traveled' is acting independently, freeing themselves from the conformity of others (who choose to take 'the road more often traveled'), generally making their own choices, and perhaps leaving a new trail that will become the road more often traveled (until, of course, someone takes the road ...”
Four years ago in November I took a risk of choosing a different path after retiring by publishing my first Positive Pops blog posting. I intended to write “my story” so my grandchildren would get to know about my life’s journey. They supported me by telling a few of their friends to check out my Pops’ blog.
I am amazed how ideas for the blog most often surface after I have journaled and meditated. The success I am currently experiencing comes from a support team who volunteered to travel with me.
On my fourth anniversary of Positive Pops I am grateful for the following helpful fellow travelers. My son-in-law, George, owner of GK Photography graciously handled all the technical work to set up the entire Positive Pops website and blog. He periodically updates the family pictures on my blog, which I promise is much easier than taking those family pictures of the 16 of us!
I am not a fluent writer, in terms of form. I just let the pen flow as I write my thoughts and stories then send the posting to my wife Jeanne’s computer for editing. Recently our friend Doug offered to do the final proofreading. Several weeks ago Roy, our good friend and a retired teacher, who has always had a passion for still life photography, offered to provide me with his beautiful photographic artwork for me to share on my blog.
The Hummingbird on last week’s blog posting “I Can Do It” is one of Roy’s most amazing photographs. Every week my loyal followers typically share my posting on Facebook. This posting was shared by 256 first-time readers with their family and friends throughout the country. It reached 11,000 people. Comments continue to come in daily.
Hopefully this success story will offer encouragement to you to explore the benefits of taking the road less traveled. Just think out of the box, explore new ideas to help change your world and surely that change will impact our world with positive possibilities.
“If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations,
you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal.”
---Norman Vincent Peale
When our friend Roy who now lives in Tennessee retired from his teaching career, he started spending much of his free time capturing the beauty of flowers, wildlife and nature in beautiful still life photography. He does this as a hobby and has no interest in marketing his artwork. He generously offered me availability of his artwork for use on my blog postings. His work stirs in me the same positive feelings as when I walk in nature. In the beauty of nature I am assured that there is surely a God that connects me to the Universal God presence in all things. The title he gave to the photo above is, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow. That says it all, doesn’t it?
When we are in a positive environment of nature it is easy to see everything in rose colored glasses. Many readers of my blog have mentioned that they are amazed that I can see the positive perspective of so many things when we are living in such challenging times.
I have already written about several of the things I do daily. As I reflect over past years, there were many turning points that helped me achieve this state of mind. When I was in school, I had no interest in doing any more reading than what was absolutely required.
Once I started my career in marketing, one of the very first books I read and have kept on my bookshelf is The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. It was published in 1952 and remained on the New York’s Best Seller book list for 182 weeks. The message is as pertinent today as when the book was first published 67 years ago. It certainly whetted my appetite for inspirational reading and that has been a passion of mine since.
I am not going to go into detail about the book. I do want to say that it greatly influenced me to start thinking, acting, and reacting positively. It is the way I want to encourage our grandchildren to think and process situations in their lives. Every positive thought and action taken will make this world a better place for all of us!
Listed below are a few of the titles of the chapters in this powerful book. You may want to reflect on them to see if they offer something you have already implemented yesterday or plan to do so today or tomorrow.
“He was free. All he had to do was let go of the chains.”
Looking back on my life I reflected on what I would consider the one thing I would change or do differently. For me it would be somehow learning more about my parents’ upbringing while they were still with me. Their family history influenced who they were and that became their school of learning on how they raised me and the values they felt were most important to instill in me.
There was an innate goodness about them that automatically surfaced from their heritage and resulted in their being loving and caring parents. As an adult I realized there were other factors that influenced intangibles or imperceptible behaviors that we don’t realize affect us. It was the hidden fears my mother experienced as a child that she did not have control of that I absorbed. My dad experienced abandonment and insecurity when his mother died giving birth to her eighth child. The baby died also. His brothers and sisters were raised by different family members in different households.
Life seems to have a way of putting you in situations that force you to deal with issues that your parents never dealt with. In my case these issues were my mother’s fears and my dad’s insecurities.
It took me a long time to realize that those same issues were transmitted to me, very subtlety but most assuredly. I was forced to deal with my parents fears and insecurities when my father was on dialysis and dying. They could not make any decisions and they relied on me totally. That put a tremendous amount of pressure on me.
At the time of my father’s illness and passing, my job was threatened by a merger. I was awakened many nights by nightmares. It took me a long time to admit to myself that I needed professional help. That is when I started in therapy and sought a spiritual director and a therapist. This was the best gift I gave to myself and hopefully to our children and grandchildren. It helped me to face my issues and deal with them in a constructive way.
If we do not face the issues and let go of the chains that bind us we will continue to transmit them to those we love. To quote a priest I greatly admire, “If you do not transform your pain, you will transmit it.” Our parents were certainly not aware of this. I would venture to say they did not even realize their issues much less realize that they could or should deal with them in a healthy way. But today that is not the case. There are so many resources available both professionally and in self-help tools. No one’s childhood is perfect. No one’s life is without missteps, wrong turns, or misfortunes. But we can each strive to be the best we can be and seek the tools that enable us to live fulfilling lives.
It is a lot easier to have a second and third cocktail, eat and stuff our emotions, or distract ourselves with the latest gadgets and fashionable acquisitions. Unfortunately, the consequences of these escape will never lead us to the changes necessary to truly live a life of abundance and break free of the chains that unconsciously control our lives.
You may want to write down in your note book everything you love about your parents. On the other side of the page write down things you think held them back from reaching their full potential.
You have a great opportunity to stop passing this on by finding the best tools available to help you release all chains from past generations in your life. This will be the best gift you can give to your children, family,
friends and future generations!
With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence
in one's ability, one can build a better world.
The following message came from our daughter after returning from the awards celebration at the school our grandson attends, Christian Brothers School, St Anthony Campus.
“I'm so proud of my boy. Jack has worked very hard this year and he received the Brother Amedy Award today. This award is given to one boy in each homeroom that exhibits outstanding scholarship, effort, and character both in and out of the classroom. He also ended the school year being on the “A” honor roll.”
Of course, as grandparents we are proud of his achievements but the story behind the scene is what makes this an amazing lesson for all of us.
While Jack was in a previous school the “A” students were awarded in class with snacks for their achievements. It broke my heart when I picked Jack up from school and he said he wasn’t one of the brighter kids because he did not receive a snack.
The atmosphere and the leadership of his current school focuses on emphasizing the positive, motivating and appreciating their staff and the students. Each student is made to feel they have unlimited potential. Jack could be a poster child that this philosophy works.
I was not a high academic achiever in school but because of the support and encouragement I received from my family I never once thought I could not achieve anything I wanted in life.
We all have the potential to change the lives of people we encounter daily. It is through this one-on-one influence that we can help change the world. So much of our time is spent discussing what is not working in government, schools and our communities. We sometimes lose hope that we can create a positive change in the world. We can!
It’s the simple things that can make a big difference. Last week I told the cashier at the grocery that I chose her checkout line because I noticed how fast she was. She smiled and replied, “I try hard to get my customers out as quickly as possible.” Whenever I experience outstanding service I call the company and speak to the manager so that their employee is recognized as an asset in their success.
We have the opportunity every day to bring out the best in our family, employees, and friends by “catching them doing something right.” This affirmative action can create a positive rippling effect on how they bring out the best in others.
Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.
August 19, 1967 was a day that I had no doubt that God was present in my life. I still feel that way as we begin day one of our 50th year of celebrating our marriage and love we share for one another. I want to express my appreciation for the other half of Positive Pops, my wife in this posting.
We are a living proof that opposites attract and with hard work, communication and flexibility it can be a wonderful life together. We have been told by our spiritual intuitive friend Mary Jo “We came into this life to ride a bicycle for two.” Our friends and family say we are a Velcro couple because we enjoy and do so much together. We’re not sure if they mean that as a compliment or not!
My gift of being positive, creative and enthusiastic about experiencing everything certainly challenges someone who enjoys being home and is perfectly content to occasionally go out to a movie or a restaurant. Jeanne loves creating memories for the grandchildren by keeping photo albums from their birth to their current age for all eight of them. She is the behind the scene editor of my blog postings and she is a fantastic cook. Sometimes it seems the sound of the washing machine is music to her ears! Our children can verify that.
In spite of our differences in our comfort zones we have both learned to be flexible. We have traveled around the country and taken several trips to Europe. We have a social network of young minded seniors, the Good Timers, who enjoy eating out, attending theater, dancing, and actually innumerable events just to have “a good time.” I have also learned to enjoy quiet, down time at home.
The keys to any successful experience in life include determination, tools, discipline and a driving passion to succeed. That is why I offer the readers of my blog many different tools from my toolbox that I have used with success. These same tools can be used to make a good marriage great, especially if we are both embracing them. For example our Dream Board is done together so we can manifest in our lives what we both enjoy doing.
Since I am talking today about our celebration of marriage I scanned our bookcases in the Living Room and quickly noticed a book co-authored by Fr. Charles Gallagher Embodied in Love. In our early years of marriage we were blessed to work closely with him for five years giving Marriage Encounter weekends and workshops. He was driven by his passion to make good marriages great.
Another quote in the book Embodied in Love is from, Andrew Greely author of The Denominational Society, “The perception of intimacy between the parents was the key factor more important than sending the children to Catholic (or any other denomination) schools, more important than family prayers, more important even than the parents’ going regularly to Sunday mass.”
One of Fr. Chuck’s memorable sayings was "The most important gift you can give to your children is for them to see the love you have for one another."
These same words come alive in creating great friendships and a close knit family. When we gather around people who appreciate us and bring out the best in us God’s presence becomes real. It is this environment this world is hungry to experience. We may feel helpless with the negativity in the news but we can be a positive influence by loving and being truly present to the people with whom we choose to spend our time.
Today you may want to write a note to someone you are close to and let them know a quality in them that you admire. For those of you enjoying wedded bliss you may want to write a love letter expressing the gift of that special relationship in your life and the qualities in that person that you truly experience and appreciate.
Great things are happening all around us. When we lose focus on our blessings we begin to magnify the negative things happening in our lives and in the world. Lately the local and world news could certainly put even an optimistic preacher like Joel Osteen in a state of despair.
Yesterday we watched our grandchildren while their parents went to the orientation for a new school their children will attend this year. When their parents came back home they were so fired up and excited it seemed as though they had just attended a motivational seminar.
All schools are confronted with the same challenges of educating young leaders who can and will change the world. The difference in their experience with this school is the positive approach by the great leadership. Teachers are inspired to be the best they can be for their students. These motivated teachers will influence their students to achieve higher levels of learning than they thought they were capable of attaining. In this kind of environment positive leaders are molded. Experiencing their excitement motivated me to reassess how I evaluate success in my own endeavors and implement the following changes in my mindset.
By doing these things I hope to become a true influence for positive change.
Inspiring Motivational Quotes on Leadership
Jeff Haden, Contributing Editor, Inc.
Here are some of my favorite leadership quotes. Tweet them, share them, but most important, use them to help you become an even better leader than you already are:
I want to thank so many of my readers who have offered me support by writing in the comment section or sending me emails with positive resource information. As a result of being given that information I have increased my resources in my toolbox that I can share with others. A recent resource I received is a guide offered by Harvard Medical on Positive Psychology. One topic of immediate interest was Feeling Young at Heart May Help You to Live Longer.
You may want to jot down your leadership attributes and how you can influence others through your example. Many of those leaders are living under your roof.
"When a man's willing and eager, God joins in." Aeschylus
I habitually surround myself around people who have a passion for what they do. Their excitement for life is contagious and it gives me hope for a brighter future.
Being retired has offered me many blessings. I enjoy reflecting on the many opportunities I experienced that supported my positive thinking. I am grateful that the grandchildren have expressed how much they appreciate that quality of mine.
One of the grandchildren wrote in an assignment at school that I was very influential in his life. I asked him to tell me more precisely what was it in me that influenced him to select me. He said he observed that I always have a smile on my face and just naturally see the positive things in life. Needless to say I am humbled by that recognition.
As I open my toolbox to get ideas to write for my blog I'm amazed at all of the personal and spiritual growth experiences my wife and I have participated in during the 49 years of our marriage. We have consistently attended workshops and lectures on personal development, marriage enrichment, nutritional needs for optimum health and vitality, alternative solutions to healing and wellness.
For those serious about living the life of your dreams I would like to encourage you to connect with like-minded people, attend seminars, and read books that support your goals and dreams.
The next step is critical. Unfortunately it is where I see so many people give up on their dreams. They research ideas and become aware of the necessary steps to create the life of their dreams but they do not follow through by taking action.
It is one thing to read inspirational books or attend a seminar to experience a 24-hour high. Many people become addicted to experiences that get them excited and motivated but they do not implement the ideas and recommendations into their daily lives. Achieving the life of your dreams requires taking those tools that are realistic for your capabilities and resources and initiate your action plan. It may be just a small step initially but its forward movement. Remember to achieve a major shift it typically requires doing a 90-day commitment. Once you have accomplished that it becomes a way of life.
The one person that helped me the most in taking action was Dr. Wayne Dyer. I have all of his books in my library of inspirational writers. The one book by Dr. Dyer I took from my toolbox today is Excuses Begone! (How to change lifelong, self-defeating thinking habits.)
The following is a quote from this book.
“Enthusiasm Overcomes Excuses
Passion is a feeling that tells you: this is the right thing to do. Nothing can stand in my way. It doesn't matter what anyone else says. This feeling is so good that it cannot be ignored. I'm going to follow my bliss and act upon this glorious sensation of joy.
Excuses, on the other hand, communicate the opposite message: I don't necessarily have to follow through-look at how dull all of this is anyway. This isn't very important; if it was, I'd be excited about it. I'll drop it for now; I can always do it later. This isn't for me; I'll just finish it quickly and get it over with.”
Today is a great day to start living out your life passions. Everyone will benefit. People want to surround themselves around people that are excited about life. I know that I do!
It is always great hearing from you in the comment section to learn what you are doing to support you in living the life of your dreams.