PagesPat's Ponderings

Pat's Ponderings

While I may craft a lot, my first love is and always has been writing. Poetry and prose, articles and anthems, I have a say in each and I say it! I have been lucky to be a writer for the Path of Positivity Challenge blog and decided to keep all my Ponderings along the Path here for you to read. I hope you smile, discover and benefit from my rantings (as hubby says). You can view them in their original context at the Path of Positivity.
Thanks for visiting,  Patacake

2014

GENEROSITY - January
There are many definitions of generosity.  It is described as "the quality of being kind and understanding and putting others before yourself;"..."it is given willingly." (Merriam-Webster and Vocabulary.com)  Generosity can involve many things:  money, possessions, time, attention, encouragement, and more.  Here is what I think generosity is:
  • When you leave a tip for the waitress even if she didn’t give the service you thought you deserved, because everyone has a bad day now and then, that's generosity.
  • When you toss your leftover change into the Salvation Army bucket instead of taking it home to put into your vacation savings bank, that's generosity.
  • When you pay it forward in the drive-through at a fast food restaurant to “treat” the driver behind you, that's generosity.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to spend a lot of time volunteering at a food depository or donating money that should go to bills.  But that doesn’t stop me from being generous!  The path of generosity isn’t finished in one giant leap but in small steps; even when the going seems to be taking forever, you do eventually reach your goal.

So if you can’t give money, give your time; if you can’t feed an army, feed a family; if you can’t help a stranger, help your neighbor.

And if you can’t give any of these things, be generous in spirit.  Forgive someone for an act that may have hurt you.  Give others shared credit no matter how little they contributed.  Refuse to gossip about a friend or co-worker.  Pay a compliment to someone who has low self-esteem.  You may not cure world hunger or earn a plaque from a major charity, but you will make someone happy, and happy people can’t help but share their well-being with others.  Just think what you may start with that small act of generosity on your part!
Patacake

WISDOM - May

God grant me the serenity 

to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference...

    -From the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

Wisdom is not just about being smart, nor is it about having all the answers.  It is determining what to do with what you know, what you’ve learned from your experiences and what your gut feelings are telling you. Knowing what is coming is not enough -- you must anticipate the consequences as well.  Knowing what must be done is only the beginning- you must have the courage and determination to do it.

Some people are math whizzes, some write eloquently, and some have lightning-fast reasoning. Not all these people are wise, but I think they can be.  I think wisdom is another path in our own self-discovery. Learning from mistakes and applying knowledge with experience are stepping stones to becoming wiser.  Patience, responsibility and experimentation are the wildflowers that make our paths sweet-smelling and colorful.  I think we can all be wise if we let ourselves wander up this path. I’d love to find you there waiting for me when I finish my course. If I don’t, no worries-- I’ll wait for you!
Patacake


HAPPINESS - June
There are a multitude of self-help books out there, and I have been flipping through several in the last few months (library sale). Everyone has an opinion (and apparently a book) on how to parent, organize, slim down, tone up, find happiness, etc. My family has been subjected to my involvement in these books and articles. They’ve watched me take inventory of all the food in my fridge, freezer and pantry (that lasted two weeks). They’ve helped carry out bags of donations from my closet purges (after plundering for things they wanted to keep). They’ve run from the smells coming from my blender as I tried juicing to “clean out” the unhealthy foods still in my system (that lasted two days).
The more I read, the more I like the Buddhist way of living (and my family appreciates the break in “improvements”). I really think that by striving toward a peaceful, positive life, happiness will just come naturally.

Here are some great tips for achieving happiness no matter who you are or where you live:
  • Spend time with nice people who reflect the person you would like to be. Choose friends who make your day a little brighter just by being in it. Weed out those who use or neglect you; let them go without regret and what you’ll have left are people you can count on.
  • Everyone deserves kindness. Treat everyone with the same level of respect and patience as you would like to be treated yourself. Be happy for them; cheer them on; be thankful for their blessings. Appreciate the possibility of new relationships; they might just change your life forever.
  • Find the courage to be yourself. You are not perfect for everyone, but you are perfect for those who love you for who you are.
  • Let go of resentment. Forgiveness isn’t accepting hurtful behavior but facing the hurt and not letting it ruin your life.
  • Arguments don’t have to end with someone winning and someone losing; no matter what you say, there will always be a person who thinks differently. Let it go.
  • And finally, doing little things for others can make big differences in their lives and yours. You’ll be so busy making others happy that karma will bring it right back to you!
These suggestions are a lot less extreme than those I’ve recently tried, and more often than not, I find happiness a more frequent companion on my path. I hope you do, too.
Patacake


POSSIBILITY - August
"It’s hard to stay positive when we are bombarded with negativity from TV, newspapers, websites and social media. Fortunately, there is escape from the negativity. Challenges met, goals achieved, laughter shared, and positive reinforcement from friends, family and blogs like ours that radiate positivity like beacons in the night. The possibilities are endless!

It all comes down to choices. We can choose to moan about the world’s woes, or we can do something about them. We can tune in to feel-good news and be assured that hope is always out there. We can pity the homeless or we can volunteer at soup kitchens and food pantries. We can veg on the couch or take up a hobby that may just turn into a passion.

Open your eyes to the possibilities of positivity, because they’re right in front of your nose…a sunny day, a child’s laughter, an unexpected call from a friend. Turn this around and you can spread the positivity to others by calling a friend, smiling while you shop, donating time to a good cause.

Possibilities create action. It takes practice to recognize possibilities and determination to act on them. Every path has several forks on the way. It is up to you to choose wisely, step forward and maintain a steady pace. Sure, there are obstacles along the way, but you can turn them into learning experiences, inspiration and the opportunity to clear the path for others.


All you have to do is take that first step. Possibilities lead to opportunities; opportunities lead to action..action leads to possibilities…and the circle is endless."
Patacake

DETERMINATION - September
Every plan, every goal, every little thing a person wants out of life starts with DETERMINATION, followed by that dreadful word, WORK. It’s easy to wish for a better job, someone to share your life, money for that trip you’ve always wanted to take-- it’s more difficult to make that happen. That’s where determination comes in.
Determination is described as firmness of purpose (Google) or the quality that makes you continue trying to do or achieve something that is difficult for you. In order to achieve your goals, you must start with a plan:
  1. Determine exactly what it is you want to do or to have
  2. Understand what you need to make this happen
  3. Make short term goals toward your major goal
  4. Research exactly what, when and where you want your goal to happen
  5. Celebrate your short term goals
  6. Re-evaluate how much you want/need this goal
  7. Find like-minded people who are working toward their own goals
For instance, I was determined to teach myself water color painting:
  1. I wanted to paint with a medium I had never tried, and to create paintings I’d be proud enough to put my name on.
  2. I had enough brushes, I just needed some paints and papers and instruction.
  3. I bought supplies, carved out time to watch YouTube videos, and started with painting backgrounds using techniques I had seen online.
  4. Reading through library books I had borrowed, I painted 2-3 times a week, trying different methods, using different papers.
  5. I learned some pretty cool techniques and learned how the paint interacts with water. I posted my attempts on my blog and received advice and encouragement there.
  6. I purchased liquid paints and real watercolor paper. I started seeing focal points in the backgrounds I painted. I felt happy when I painted.
  7. I joined a Facebook group whose artists use all kinds of media, including water colors. I get a lot of guidance and inspiration from members there.
I have seen improvement in my art, have grown from simple backgrounds to painting waterscapes and taking inspiration from photos I have taken, and have signed my name to some of my finished projects. I continue to practice, brushes in hand.

Remember, determination is a quality that you can strengthen with practice. I am determined to keep improving on my water colors, and to celebrate the learning process as much as the finished canvases! Hope to see you along the way as your determination paves the path toward your goals! Above you will find one of my latest watercolors. I used Copic marker and white gel pen for the quote.
“Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” ~William James
Patacake

COURAGE - October
“One isn’t necessarily born with Courage, but one is born with potential. 
Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. 
We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”
This quote from Maya Angelou struck me like an arrow shot to my heart. Everyone has the potential to be courageous. Everyone! It’s only a matter of believing in yourself, of taking that first step, offering that initial “hello” to a stranger, sending in that first manuscript to a publisher.
It’s only a matter of determination that convinces you that one failure doesn’t prove anything, that your first canvas doesn’t mean you haven’t got a masterpiece in you, that one unsuccessful job interview doesn't mean you’ll be unemployed all your life.
Life is full of stumbling blocks. Your attitude toward them will either keep you on the path or trip you up. By continuing the journey, by putting one foot in front of the other, you strengthen your courage. By remembering that the journey is as important as the end, you practice the art of positivity. By keeping positive, you will not only reach journey’s end, but enjoy everything life has for you along the way. 

So take heart, tighten those shoestrings, and delve deep into the woods. Follow your own unique path, practicing kindness, honesty, mercy and generosity. I hope to cross paths with you along the way!
Patacake


FAITH - December
Faith is a tricky thing. To have faith is to put your trust in something you cannot see, cannot feel, cannot touch. To keep faith you must be willing to let go of control.
I have faith, but it takes a mighty effort to keep it. I like to be the driver on my path of life; it’s very difficult to sit on your hands and let others do the driving. And yet I cannot be in control every second of the day. I cannot steer confidently onto unknown branches of an unlit path. 
For those moments, which come up more often than not, I have to consciously let go, with a little help from Reinhold Niebuhr. His Serenity Prayer is all about faith: 

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
The courage to change what can be changed, 
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

This prayer is on my lips when I wake in the morning, and when I go to bed at night (and when I’m having a stressful day). I have faith that what I accept as out of my control will turn out well, if not for me, then in the “big picture.” I have faith that courage will seize me when I need to step up and take control (or keep it). I have faith that I will be inspired to know the difference. 
I have faith that my attitude in life will keep my feet steady as I walk the path of positivity. I hope to run into you on my way.
Patacake


2015
UNIQUENESS - January
Today let’s talk about uniqueness, and the path we trod to get there.
When we’re very young, we are sure that the world revolves around us. When we sleep, everything stops until we wake up. As we grow older, it’s totally natural to act and think like our families. As we age, our world opens up to many different perspectives and beliefs. We naturally start breaking away from family and into peer groups. Everyone follows these stages on their way to individualism. It’s a slow but (hopefully) steady journey toward our adult selves—unique beings who can stand on our own two feet. We may choose to follow in another’s footprints, but we know we can blaze our own trails as well. We can dance like the rest of them, but can also “travel to the beat of a different drum.”
More often than not, our journey is blocked by advice or criticism -- “act your age,” “keep up with the others,” “color in the lines,”  “try to act normal.” That’s when the famous quote by … is helpful: “To thine own self be true.” Don’t let these “suggestions” slow you down or cause you to stumble. It’s easy to take a shortcut and end up like all the others. It’s more difficult but far more valuable to climb over these opinionated obstacles.
Listen to your heart. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions. Be true to yourself. Value the “you-ness” of YOU. And by all means, color outside the lines!
Patacake

LAUGHTER - February
Laughter is infectious! Have you ever been in a sour mood and the company you kept eased you right out of it with their funny stories and laughter? So many times I have started out an evening with my sisters in a cranky mood. By the end of the day, we have talked and laughed over our work encounters, medical issues and shared past. Often one of us will start laughing and one by one we’ll all end up crying and howling with laughter (and sometimes we forget what started us off). 
Laughter puts you in a better mood! Have you ever come home stressed from your work day, turned on the TV and found yourself sloughing off those bad vibes as you laughed at your show? There’s a reason why there are so many “sit-coms” (short for situation comedies) on TV. The laughter generated from sitcoms and stand-up comedy shows helps us to deal with stress, to be kind to others, and, on the part of those sitcoms, to purchase from their sponsors!
Laughter is the best medicine. Studies have shown that people heal faster and handle serious medical side effects when they get their daily dose of humor. The movie “Patch Adams,” about a doctor who used humor as part of patients’ recovery regimens, was based off a true story.
Humankind is hard-wired to smile often! It takes a lot of facial muscles to manage a frown; but a smile takes only a few. Why waste all that genetic material? Share a smile with a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, even a stranger. It’s the easiest show of good will you can offer others (it’s free and it often takes them by surprise).

So, remember, as you trip along the path of positivity, you can give yourself and others a brighter stretch of sunshine if you keep a smile on your face and in your heart. I’m sure I’ll see you somewhere along the way. Just follow the sound of my laughter!
Patacake

SERENDIPITY - March
 ser·en·dip·i·ty, ˌserənˈdipədē/, noun
Chances are, when you hear someone ask, “What are the chances that…?” you’re looking serendipity straight in the eye. Serendipity is defined as the “unsought, unintended and/or unexpected discovery, learning experience or good fortune.”  
Life is full of serendipity, which I truly believe is destiny’s way of saying “Okay, your life is all planned out, except…” Or maybe it’s destiny giving you that ultimate ah-ha moment.

Whatever it is, I bless the times, small and large, in my life where serendipity had a hand…
…like when I was stationed at Fort Ord in the motor pool and my co-worker’s best friend just happened to be single and just happened to end up married to me for the past 38 years (large)…
…or when I passed up a primo parking spot at a busy WalMart to give it to an elderly couple, and when I found a spot, the car parked in front of me backed up and drove off, and I pulled up for a nice clean “getaway” after my shopping was finished (small).

Four-leaf clovers, rainbows, shootings stars--when you find them, check over your shoulder and you’ll see serendipity winking at you. When life hands you lemons, who do you think is there beside you with a pitcher and a lot of sugar (and a twinkle in her eye)? She knows better than you what you really need. 
Serendipity is all about fortune, luck, providence, happy chance. So, the next time you miss that appointment, get stuck at a long light, trip over someone’s bag…be open to whatever comes your way. It may change your whole life, for the better!

That's all for now. You never know when our paths will cross, all because of a little serendipity! 
P.S. Great movies that feature serendipity in action:
Serendipity starring John Cusack
Mr. Destiny starring Jim Belushi and Michael Caine
Sleepless in Seattle starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks
Big Business starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin
            What’s Up, Doc? With Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal

(Even the classic Little Women has its serendipitous moments)
Patacake

GROWTH - APRIL
When I was growing up, there was a closet door in our basement that I and my sisters would stand against each year. My dad would take a ruler and a pen and mark our height to show how much we’d grown throughout the months. It was our growth chart, and long after we each had grown older and moved out, that closet door became a popular topic of discussion at the dinner table when we all gathered together for birthdays and holidays.
I've done the same within my own family, charting my son’s and daughter’s growth throughout the years. Now that they’re grown, I wonder why I didn't chart more than their physical height. Just because they've stopped gaining height doesn't mean that they've stopped growing in other ways. Maybe at the time at which adults reach their true height, we should start our own growth charts that measure how far we've grown in spirituality, wisdom, generosity and creativity.
Deciding on how and what to chart in our lives depends on our goals and the importance we place on events and achievements. Each person is unique in their choices, their plans and where they are in their lives. My chart at 18 years of age would be vastly different than the growth chart I now keep. So, where are you in your life? What choices have you made that got you this far? What are your plans for the future?
I already have a husband of 38 years, children who have grown and left or are preparing to leave the nest, and a job from which I will retire when that time comes. I served in the Army, went to college, married and have children, taught in schools and hospitals, volunteered in Scouting and soup kitchens, and have been published. The choices I have so far made have led me to where I am today, and these and many more life events are recorded on my personal growth chart.
My goals and plans for the future now include financial security when my husband and I retire, spending more time with my grandkids, learning new ways to stretch my creativity in water colors and mixed media, and publishing my book. And those are just the biggies! I have a bucket list of a hundred things I want to do before I go, and as I cross each one off, I will add my milestones to my growth chart.
How you chart your growth depends on how you look at things. Are you list-driven, or do you like visual cues like framed photography or scrapbooking? I myself am wordy (as if you couldn't tell) and chart my growth in diaries and journals, and my personal blog. I also journal in scrapbooks, as I feel the more I write about the photos I keep, the better my five sense of the memory rush back to me.
However you decide to chart your own growth, never lose sight of it. Your charted accomplishments will lift your spirits when you feel depressed or in doubt. It can also spur you on toward goals when you feel the path you’re walking is too difficult. Finally, it will show you just how much you have grown as a thinking, feeling, loving person, because sometimes life makes us forget how truly valuable we are, if not to the whole world, then to our little corner of it.


I hope to see you all making great strides in your lives as our paths criss-cross each other. When they do, I’ll make sure to wave at you in recognition of your growth, and of mine. Don’t forget to wave back!
Patacake

PERSEVERANCE PONDERING - MAY

The path to success is a long journey, dotted with many tempting rest stops. How often are we asked, urged or convinced to put aside our goals for “just a moment,” leading us to lose our focus? Procrastination is an easy habit to fall into, and a hard one to break.
I tend to call up my inner scientist. One of the basic laws of physics is that “a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion” (I definitely call on that one when it’s time to work out!) Perseverance is keeping your journey toward your goals at a steady pace. It is a mindset, and needs renewal every day.
Sometimes the path we’re walking seems all uphill. That’s when a rest stop is in order, but we must remember that it’s only temporary. For short-term goals, I give myself a break but set a timer; for longer-term goals I make a list adjusting it every time I move ahead (kind of like Santa who’s always checking his twice). I keep the list in my sights, like on my computer (constant companion), bulletin board (at work) or the fridge (I have to eat, right...). For those long-range goals that are way out there, like saving for a house or publishing a book, I break it down into smaller, more manageable mini-goals, or stepping stones, toward the ultimate destination. If I’m saving money, I’ll  treat myself to something nice each time I reach a certain amount saved; if I’m lagging behind, I’ll go without for a week to make up the difference. I am presently working on a book of poetry, using my water colors as backgrounds for each poem. I try to either get a water color or new poem finished each week, or I research the publishing and selling of my e-book when it’s ready.
You can also run up against several stumbling blocks along the way. A step back to re-evaluate your destination or goal might be in order. Just how realistic is it? Is it important enough to be worth the climb? If it is, then we set our sights ahead, tighten our shoelaces, and persevere, never forgetting how empowering it feels to reach the summit.
The path toward success may twist and turn and we may get lost along the way. Maybe our companions are slowing us down with their negativity, or that work or relationship issues are weighing us down. Perhaps it’s time to lighten our loads. Sometimes the road to success is best traveled alone. Then again, maybe what we need is a team to help us carry our loads, blaze a trail or just cheer us on. For me, it depends on my goals. I definitely feel stronger when someone notices a weight loss (cheering section), but have had problems with negativity slowing me down on my poetry book goal (negativity).
Finally, remember that life isn't perfect, and time never stops. Things go wrong. Life gets in the way of personal ambitions and dreams. Remind yourself that they are only out of reach for the moment. Keep alert; keep steady on your path. The road could smooth out around the next bend. Make sure you keep your eye on the prize, whatever it is. Nothing is impossible when you have a positive attitude and a good foundation for obtaining what you want. Persevere is just another word for succeed, and success could be a stone’s throw away.

I hope our paths cross somewhere along the way, so we might lift each other’s spirits in our journeys. Godspeed!

Patacake



HAPPINESS PONDERING - JUNE

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.”  -H. Jackson Brown
There are as many paths toward Happiness as there are people on this earth. Some can be Happy in a financial windfall; others by being surrounded by family or having a soul mate beside them; to some Happiness is loving what they do; and still others feel Happy when waking free from pain in the morning.
I live in a perpetual state of Happiness. No, I am not the richest woman in the world. I still worry and stress about big things and little things (often blowing things out of proportion). I still have goals and desires not yet met. So how can I proclaim that I rarely stray from the path of Happiness? Because I choose to do so.
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” -Abraham Lincoln
When stressing about things real and imagined, I repeat my mantra: “When all you can do is all you can do then all you can do is enough.” In other words (covering my inner hippie, my faith in the Lord and my pacifist nature): take a chill pill, give it up to God, and life will return to balance! When my momentum slows down and I start looking for a shortcut, I get (and give) hugs freely. You’ll be surprised what five hugs a day will do to your outlook on life! I laugh out loud as many times as I can get away with, which is surprisingly often, and I have been known to perform stand-up comedy in rare moments to share the laughter (I believe it is a contagious disease and I am the “virus” spreading it to those around me).
“Seeking happiness, I passed many travelers headed in the opposite direction,
seeking happiness. -Robert Brault
So, no matter where you are on the Path of Life, keep a steady pace and a light heart. Be comforted in the knowledge that Happiness surrounds you and all you have to do is recognize and acknowledge it. Look for me along the path. I’ll be the one with a big smile and a Happy little wave when we meet!
Patacake

SHARING PONDERING - JULY

From the time we start to understand concepts, our parents teach us to share - share with our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our classmates. Sharing was a quality to be strengthened. If you didn’t share, you were looked upon as selfish and immature.
I have tried to live by the qualities my parents instilled in me and my sisters. I even went so far one year as to “move” over a box of Girl Scout cookies I had sold so that (Jean) another girl who was just two boxes shy of my total could share in winning the “grand prize” with me (It was a Kodak Instamatic, my first real camera). 
Throughout life, I have shared my money, my groceries, my car, even my house. My husband used to laugh at what he called my habit of “bringing home strays,” only I brought home stray people, not pets! This habit brought us many adventures, many life lessons, a multicultural perspective and an international friendship that is still going strong, having been passed down to my kids. In fact, Tio Tony, who at 18 was one of my “strays,” flew up from Mexico with his wife so that he could stand with my son as his sponsor when he was Confirmed. I was never so proud as when Tony told me that when it came time to look for a wife, he used his mother and me as his examples of the type of woman with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life.
If sharing doesn’t come easy to you, think of last month’s theme on the Path of Positivity- Happiness. I believe that theme segues smoothly into this month’s theme of SHARING. It is easy to share happiness by giving up a smile, a compliment, a joke, a handmade card. This doesn’t cost a penny, yet you may feel a flush of pleasure immediately. If not, you won’t have to wait long. The universe moves towards maintaining balance, so what you give to others eventually comes back to you. In fact, if you want to multiply the things in your life that matter—health, balance, happiness—you need to share what you already have!
Really! Just try it! Take that $2 you were planning to buy your diet Coke with and stuff it into the Juvenile Diabetes fundraising can. You’ll end up with the same or more money sooner than you realize, and get a bonus of “good feels” along the way. Think of it as paying it forward. If you believe that something good is coming your way, pave its path by doing something good for others before it happens. Not only have you smoothed the way for another person’s path in life, you’ll have made your own path easier to walk. You may even find a spring in your step you hadn’t had before.
Just think, if we shared justice, good fortune, opportunities, tolerance and love with others; if everyone shared, we could cure famine, wipe out homelessness and unemployment—dare I say it -- even put an end to wars!! All from very small acts of sharing that multiply progressively. Think of the Path we could walk on together!!  Mind-blowing, isn’t it? And what a wonderful world we would encounter at the end of our journeys!
Patacake

OPPORTUNITY PONDERING - AUGUST

How many times have you had to make a choice in your life? Pssst…let me tell you a secret: Those are opportunities. Every time you are offered a choice in life, whether it be in your relationships, at work or in school, you are looking at opportunities, opportunities to change from who you are to whom you want to be.
Want a better job, and waiting for that one extra-special offer? Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities; seize common occasions and make them great. Maybe that smaller opportunity to broaden your experience in a related field or to further your knowledge about the subject will push that offer in front of you, further up the path and just around the bend.
Upset over a missed opportunity? Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we missed. Some of the greatest opportunities have come on the coat tails of ones missed or ignored. Made a bad choice and are regretting it? There are secret opportunities hidden in every failure, but you have to keep your eyes open and be ready to run with them or they’ll pass you by.
Some people seem to always be luckier than others, but luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Any good runner prepares for her race; so should we all prepare ourselves for all those lovely opportunities to grow, to love, to excel, to run down the path of life with a smile on our faces and courage in our hearts.  
Here’s a little tale to remind you to look ahead for opportunity as you travel the path:
The Optimist, the Pessimist and the Realist were sitting together. While they were arguing over the description of a glass of water, a hand reached out and drained the glass dry.
“Thanks,” said the Opportunist.
Patacake

DEDICATION PONDERING - SEPTEMBER

This month’s theme is all about dedication. Dedication is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out, in order to reach your goals.  Success is easy to achieve when those small efforts don’t take too much time, but you know what they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” For all intents and purposes, the tough have something that no one else does—Dedication.
Of course, there are many traps and pitfalls toward your goals, especially in your own mind. Try these techniques when your heart wants something but your brain is an inner critic:
When your mind says I’m no good at this, answer back What do I need to get better?
When your mind says this is too hard, answer back It’s totally worth it.
When your mind says you made a mistake, answer back Now I know how not to do it.
When your brain says it's good enough, you answer back Is this really the best I can do?

Are your goals worth your dedication? Is a healthier body, weight loss, graduation, a new job, your own art exhibit or etsy store, are your goals worth your time, your talent, your sweat, your pain, your busy days and sleepless nights? If they are, if you dedicate your whole being to them, there is absolutely no stopping you from achieving greatness.

And maybe our paths will cross on our way to success. You can’t miss me. I’ll be the one with a gleam in my eyes and dedication in my heart.
Patacake

RESILIENCY PONDERING - OCTOBER

Resiliency is the ability to change or adapt to our circumstances. This doesn’t mean you just trip lightly down the path and hope for the best. Your destination is not just survival but true happiness. So, being resilient means to seek paths that lead you toward positive change. It means analyzing where you are, reflecting where you want to be, and choosing to lean toward opportunities for improvement. You must be aware. You must be courageous. You must change your thinking from “there is no choice” to “how can I turn this around.”

Looks great on paper, but how does one become resilient?

The first step is to be aware that life is full of choices. Then CHOOSE! Good or bad, making a choice is better than making none at all. Refuse to choose and you’ll become a prisoner of your own life. For instance, after a multitude of recent changes, I find myself after 15 years at my job to be in danger of losing hours and benefits. I carry insurance for my family. I now have the choice to “wait and see” or I can CHOOSE to look at my options. Am I still employable? Are the pay/benefits the same or better elsewhere? I can make the choice to step over my fears and comfort to blaze a new path for myself.

The second step is how you choose to feel and react in the stresses of everyday life (I call it strife). For weeks, I chose to let the fear and worry make me physically and emotionally sick. And then the AH-HA moment struck. I had the choice to make my situation into an adventure and discover things about myself that I either had never known before, or had just forgotten. I had skills, I was a hard worker, I was a people person. I stopped worrying when or if the axe would fall and signed up at an employment agency. I updated my resume (that was a real confidence booster). I search the web to see what positions are out there. But mostly, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and for having to leave a job I loved with people I loved. I realized that those people went before me, and I no longer loved the job. Choose the path toward taking your life in your own hands, for better or for worse. Choose to make a choice. 

The last step toward being resilient is focusing on what makes you happy. You can’t feel and maintain confidence in your choices if you aren’t positive. The glorious colors of the changing leaves and the smell of wood fires make me happy. Holding my new grandson makes me happy. Cooking a meal and sitting down to a conversation with my family makes me happy. Be mindful of the things that make you happy. Keeping a smile on your face and laughter on the tip of your tongue will keep you from wallowing in negative feelings.

Finally, let's look at our success rate. That’s right, so far we’re at 100%. Here we are, on the path together, all with different life experiences, stresses and fears. Yet we are walking together, kicking those obstacles off our paths and moving toward our goals. Keep going. There will always be others to help you up when you stumble. You can give them a hand as well when they need it. All you need to do is CHOOSE to change or adapt, to be resilient.

Happy trails!                                       Patacake

THANKFULNESS PONDERING  -- NOVEMBER
November is a month that many celebrate with thanksgiving and charitable deeds. Sometimes that’s difficult to do in our fast-paced, instant gratification, multi-tasking world in which we now live. Now more than ever the stresses of everyday life can quickly grow into a recipe for fear and despair.
But today I want you to forget about why you’re stressed and focus on how you are blessed. Choose to dwell in the positive and recognize the blessings that are yours. Sometimes all it takes is a laugh, a kind gesture from a stranger, or a cuddle from a loved one to relieve the pressure cooker we are stewing in. Be thankful to have five senses with which we can appreciate the world around us.
Listen to what I call “love notes,” sounds that comfort and fill me with wonder and peace. Look for beauty and kindness. Nature is my number one resource for beauty, but you can also find it in the way people interact with each other. Sometimes we need to stir our taste buds with spicy foods, or comfort foods, to give us a taste to enjoy life. We need to breathe in deeply the smells that bring smiles to our lips, and we should dig our fingers in deep to revel in the textures of life.
Of course, recognizing our blessings is just a part of being thankful. Sharing those blessings with others, acting on our thankfulness, will cause a chain reaction of comfort, joy and thankfulness in others. Share a smile or a laugh with someone. Hug a friend or co-worker--physical contact goes a long way in giving comfort. Random acts of kindness like sending a card to a child, dropping off a plate of cookies to a neighbor, dropping money into a charity’s collection containers, all help ease stress for others. Sharing our blessings can give us a huge lift in our own spirits.
Finally, keep those blessings in sight: Use a pocket calendar and write down at least five positive or happy things each day. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, but at the end of the year, you can remind yourself how blessed you’ve been throughout the year. Take it up a notch and record random acts of kindness throughout the year. You will be surprised at how much happiness and comfort you have brought to others this year.

Me? I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my views with you on all things positive while you stroll on the Path of Positivity with us. 
 Patacake

2016 
PROSPERITY PONDERING -- JANUARY
Here we are again, at the start of a New Year. Was last year a difficult one for you? I find that reminding myself of the things last year for which I am grateful is a beautiful and hope-filled outlook on the year to come. After all, an Attitude of Gratitude invites Abundance and Prosperity. I definitely would like those two to visit me this new year - how about you?
When I think of things for which to be grateful, I picture the path which I followed, remembering the scenery of good experiences, the joys of meeting people along the way, and the peace received and given in kindnesses and generosity. I also remember kicking the stumbling blocks of adversity out of the way, both for me and those that followed behind me. Of course, I stumbled a few times, and missed a few for others to deal with, but that part of the path only led me to appreciate the beauty of the journey.
The path is neither all uphill nor all downhill. It evens out, just as life has a habit of doing. In reminiscing over the last year, I find that for every adversity faced, there was a gift of prosperity to counterbalance the stress and sweat. While my husband lost his job, I kept mine, and I carry the family insurance. While we look ahead to lower income, my daughter just finished her college education. And while we lost my Gram and most recently my mother-in-law, I have been gifted with a new grandson and a new brother-in-law.
So, Adversity, give me your best shot. I am thankful for what I already have, and know that more Prosperous days are just around the bend. Come join me in my attitude of gratitude, so we can all enjoy abundance and prosperity. It will be nice to meet a new traveler along the path…
Patacake

DESIRE PONDERING -- FEBRUARY  
Google defines Desire as “a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.” My heart’s desire is to have balance in my life.

“… balance is the aim of all living creatures: it is our home. ~Rolf Gates
We are all pulled in so many directions that it is hard to keep to the path of our desires and goals. We want a rewarding and successful career, but relationships and family are important to us. We want help but want to be self-sufficient. We want to go out with friends but need “me” time. I don’t know about you, but I feel as if I were made of elastic and the strength of it is being tested every minute of the day.
 “When your heart speaks, take good notes.” ~Judith Campbell
The first step in living in balance is to identify your desires. My desires have changed throughout the years, but I have always wanted to be a writer, to have a family and to do what I love and love what I do. In order to fulfill these desires, I have had to be stubborn about my goals but flexible about the paths I walk to get what I want, and with whom I take this journey of the heart. Just like your checkbook, walk with people who deposit as much as they withdraw from you to keep you balanced.

"Never let success go to your head, and never let failure go to your heart. ~Ziad K. Abdelnour
On the path of personal desire, there are many choices to make. If you try to control everything in your life, you can’t enjoy the journey. Make wise choices, enjoy the success, and learn from failure.
As long as you do this, you are moving forward.


“There are only two options: Make progress or make excuses.” Pernina Rybak

Finally, know that balance is not found but created. Balance comes from the moments you stand up for the life you truly want. There will be stress, obstacles, craziness – you’ve got to take the good with the bad and know that balance is within you to keep pace with your desires. The view at the end of your path is breathtakingly beautiful, and worth all your efforts.
Patacake



BEAUTY PONDERING -- MARCH

Beauty comes from an inner peace in doing what you love, in sharing with others, and in loving and being loved. Have you ever noticed how beautiful a person is when they're happy? Their faces light up and their eyes sparkle. When they smile, it beckons you to smile with them. Share a smile with a stranger, and two things could happen. You could make their day a bit happier, a bit more beautiful, or you could startle them into wondering what you're up to!

Loving what you do brings its own energy into any situation. Whether you cook, do someone's taxes or drive people to where they want to go, your path in life is made easier by the beauty of your choices.
Sharing the bounty with others can create beauty in others. Nothing is as beautiful as two sisters sharing fashion advice before a big date, friends laughing over great memories or parents teaching their children how to ride a bike. The love they feel for each other makes them shine, and that makes them beautiful.

Anyone can be beautiful. Everyone can be beautiful. YOU are beautiful.
Patacake


GRACE PONDERING -- APRIL

"Grace is meeting those moments on the journey, 

then picking yourself back up, being humble enough to learn, 
and not being too hard on yourself. -Michelle Peluso

Grace is an attitude and a virtue we can all cultivate. It is how you handle yourself on your path - if you stumble, recover and keep moving; if you fall flat on your face, get up and keep moving. It is forgiving yourself and others, no matter if those who have hurt you have asked for that forgiveness. It is learning from mistakes without being crushed by hopelessness or embarrassment. It is achieving greatness while remaining humble, gaining wealth or status, while quietly giving back to those less fortunate, and treating others with dignity and respect, no matter who they are or what they do.
As we traverse the Path this month, we can walk with Grace by making the journey a little easier for those who follow behind us. This can be as simple or as complex as you wish. For example, you can:
share a smile or give a compliment to someone whose pace seems slower than usual,
send a handwritten note or handmade gift to someone needing a little re-energizing,
be grateful for what you have by giving anonymously to those who do not,
try to picture walking in someone else's shoes before judging them,
forgive those who may push their way down the path, heedless of others,
realize that what seems an easy pace for you may be too difficult for others 
before opening your mouth, and
learn to laugh at yourself and learn from missteps.
Walking with Grace makes the path less wearisome, for you and for others.
Walk with Grace and maybe we can share some time together on the Path.
Patacake



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