Author and Motivational Speaker George Barker (Don’t Be a Cow!) offers insights toward happiness and empowering yourself.

What makes two things great together?

I have never been much on class reunions. No particular reason, I have just never really gotten into them and thus have never been to one. Needless to say, for me, it’s been a long time and some 500 miles since I’ve walked the halls of my high school. Heck, it’s been 15-plus years since I have even been to the city in which I spent my younger years. So, Rachel and I decided we were ready for an adventure, so off we will go. We don’t actually have tickets to the reunion (it is sold out), so it is still uncertain if we will actually make it to the reunion itself.

And this upcoming reunion got me thinking: Not so much about high school itself, but the era in which I grew up. Often when we reflect on the past, we think of fashion, popular activities, popular television shows, and possibly news headlines of the day. I ended up thinking of television commercials. There was one commercial in particular that really stood out for me. Why it did will become evident later. For me, this commercial was the introduction of quite possibly the greatest of all American inventions.

Here’s the scenario:

Two people are walking down the street, one eating peanut butter and one eating chocolate, and they collide. One person exclaims, “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!” and the other exclaims, “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”. They then sample the mixture and remark on the great taste, tying in with the slogan “Two great tastes that taste great together.” Have you guessed yet? It was for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the campaign was a huge hit; it even featured celebrities at one point.

Do you remember this one? A Classic. 

Opposites attract and compatibility

Opposites attract art by Priscilla WolfeDuring this same era, I also remember a phrase that was used in describing friendships and relationships. That phrase was “opposites attract” just like chocolate and peanut butter!

With so many dating services airing commercials (several which are quite comical), all we hear about is “compatibility.” So, if opposites attract (my era) then what’s all this about compatibility (the current era?) Confusing at best, but the more I think about it, the more there’s an argument that they can work together. Hear me out.

What does all this have to do with happiness? Actually, a lot, bear with me.

At the very core of all our happiness is our relationships. First, our relationship with ourselves and second, our relationship with others. Here is why I think the phrase “opposites attract” is so powerful in our relationships.

One of the struggles we can have as we go through life is reconciling with ourselves our own weaknesses. Our weaknesses represent areas in our lives where we can feel vulnerable. As a consequence, we often spend an inordinate amount of time trying to hide these weaknesses instead of polishing our strengths.

I believe that when we join with others who have different strengths, and we gain the trust of those people, we are able to allow them to overshadow our weaknesses so we don’t have to try and cover up these weaknesses any longer. Thus, we can return our focus back to our own strengths.

And here’s where compatibility comes in.

I don’t tend to speak up in crowds. I generally would never even ask a question in class; however, I always had a friend who was nearby who would. I would simply whisper or make a statement or ask a question under my breath and they would be sure to blab it out. This would allow me to use my brain to think up more questions and comments and not using my brain to beat myself up for not speaking up. Opposites? Yes. Compatible. Well, in a way, right? Definitely symbiotic! 

We have to look no further to see the benefits of “opposites attracting” and compatibility than that simply delicious little confectionary delight we’ve all come to know as the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. See what I did here? Yum!

However, and not to put too fine a point on it …

I’m not trying to knock dating/match making sites; they certainly have their place in today’s society. But, I do think that maybe too much emphasis is being placed on compatibility as a goal, a black and white up or down vote. I mean, think about it: If two art-minded people get together, who’s going to balance the checkbook or if two math-minded people get married who’s going to going to create something new for supper?  Of course, if they are both successful, they could eat out every week and hire an accountant. But, for most of us, life, relationships and compatibility is all about balance – and that will make one much happier.

Read this Related blog post: “Opposites Attract”

Now… about that reunion …

Soulful Quote:

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

  • Carl Jung Psychologist (1875-1961)

Song:

  • “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin (Just because the powers-to-be wouldn’t let us have it for our class song!)

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Take a few minutes to think about your closest friend(s) and/or spouse if you are married. How does “opposites attract” fall in your relationships? And please allow yourself to enjoy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the process. (sorry for all of you with peanut allergies …)

Self Reliance: What is it? What does it mean?

Is it a good thing or a not-so-good thing?

A school of thought says man is to live in community, therefore all must contribute to the community, and all must rely on the community. This contribute-and-rely relationship forms a bond between the individual and the community. This may sound like a great concept, but it has a major flaw: It overlooks individuality!

Humans are born as individuals; this is a biological fact. A child is born as its own individual. Yes, it carries jeans – I know it’s “genes,” but I’m trying to lighten up this heavy, but important subject – and to see if you were paying attention. 🙂

From each parent the child inherits those genes, so there are direct similarities, but the child is also uniquely different. This unique difference and its importance to life is huge.

How does this relate?

Bear with me … We are all unique, thus we are all, to use a well-meaning metaphor, meant to be the “black sheep.” For some, this uniqueness is obvious and for others it is much subtler.

Discovering our uniqueness is key to finding happiness because it defines us as an individual. When we know who we are as individuals, we can be ourselves, comfortably without having to try and prove to others who we are.

Although this may sound simple and straight-forward, discovering this uniqueness is complicated by the fact that most of us spend the first eighteen years of our lives living is close relationship (community-family) with people whom we share similarities (genes) and perhaps not much else. As we start out as infants, we rely totally on our parents and, sometimes, even older siblings.

Related: 10 key lessons in the art of being self reliant 

Choosing your battles wisely

As we grow older, this family attempts to mold us into a shape that fits the family. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing – it just is. This process is where rebellion comes into play as individuals seek individuality apart from their family. Whereas rebellion is a natural part of maturing into an individual, it can often linger for a lifetime. This occurs when the individual is rebelling for rebellion sake and not rebelling as a natural process of becoming their own self. (I see a lot of nodding heads out there).

To complicate matters even further is that our lives incorporate more than just our family. Our community grows to include all the people that we live and interact with daily. As we get older, especially in the teen years, this larger community begins to influence us as individuals to conform to the shape or norms of the community.

Okay, a little deep, I understand, especially for a layman and not an accredited psychologist, so let me move on. However, seeing it for what it is helps us understand the magnitude and relevance our community plays in our lives. Breaking away from the conformity of the community can be difficult. I’m not saying to become the Unibomber  – a society has to put some bounds on freedom. But, your unique individuality is important to the community. Choosing to become a productive part of the community that people can depend upon – rather than someone dependent upon others – is why self-reliance is so important.

Where self-reliance comes in

The breaking of this bond with the community is called becoming self-reliant. Ok, so why is this so important? Because self-reliance equals freedom.

Self reliance is quite simply the ability to take care of yourself.

Let me explain:

Think of your unique individuality as a bird in a series of cages: The first cage is your heart, the second is your mind, and the third is just this big cumbersome cage that sort of holds the other two cages in place, call it the body.

Parrot in a cageIt is somewhat easy to let the bird out of the first cage because it is our true desire our yearning. The second cage is a real bother because family, friends, and society all have their hands on all the cage doors. “You don’t want to do that! You would be better off doing this!” Once we are able – if we are able – to break out of second cage, the third becomes somewhat easier. This is the cage of the “self.” Represented by the body because of the physical nature, as our bird leaves this final cage, it will be exposed to the world. It will be shot at, it will be laughed at, and it may be ridiculed: “what an ugly duckling,” comes to mind; yet, out of all three cages, out past the blazing guns and laughing hyenas, lies happiness.

Although getting out of all three cages is difficult, there is one key that works on all three cages – that key is self-reliance!

Once you become self-reliant, you can live a fulfilling and purposeful life by sharing your unique gift and your talents with the community.

This is Happiness! And you can get there. Don’t Be A Cow!

Commencement 2019. You made it this far.

What a wonderful time of year. The grass is green, the sun is shining and the days are getting longer! And, oh yeah, how could I forget graduations are in full swing?

So here is to you, Graduate, and a nice reminder to us all. Short and sweet!

Three Simple Things:

# 1 ATTITUDE

This is yours. It is the one thing, the only thing I might add, that you have total control over. This is unless you hand control over to someone else. I implore you to never allow your attitudeto be controlled by others. You have heard that “Perception is Reality?” Your Perception stems from your attitude; therefore, if your attitude is good your perception will be good and your reality will be great! For you see, Good + Good = Great!

Attitude – never ever forget that yours is yours and yours alone!

# 2 THE BIG PICTURE

Picture yourself as the only human being left on earth. Even for an introvert such as myself, being totally alone forever is a depressing thought. My point is that people are necessary, and yes all people, although that is pretty hard to comprehend at times. They may not all agree with you or like doing the things you like doing, but believe it or not, they are all necessary. In the Big Pictureof everybody in the world, where do you fit in? What can you contribute to the greater good of everybody? You have a talent that is unique to only you. Discovering that talent and putting it to use for the greater good will far outpace putting your talents to use for selfish pursuits over the long run.

The Big Picture – you are not the sole person in this world, nor want to be, remember that!

 # 3 HOUSING

You all, I’m sure, have heard of the following two phrases:

  • You are what you eat
  • No pain, no gain

Food fuels our bodies, and we all have different fuel requirements just as airplanes, rockets, tractors, cars, and boats all need fuel. They all use different types of fuels and we humans are no different. There is no one set of fuel for all.

Exercise compensates our bodies for the mostly sedentary lifestyles we live today. But like different fuel requirements, we all have different exercise requirements. Some need to put themselves through excruciating pain to feel as though they have accomplished something whereas others can simply go for a nice stroll through the park.

Our bodies are where we house Attitudes,and our Big Picture. As long as our housing unit does not take away from those two things, all is good. We were not all meant to be Barbie and Ken (or anywhere close thankfully!).

Take care of your House!

In closing, I congratulate you and you alone for this is your accomplishment. You too should congratulate yourself on a job well done — It’s Over!

I hope you will always remember:

  • the mind – attitude – is yours to control
  • the soul – the big picture – your heart
  • the body – housing – simply holds the other two while you are on earth

Keep all three in proportion, for these are you and you alone!

PS Please enjoy the ride as you go!

Quote:“We don’t stop going to school when we graduate.” Carol Burnette

Song: “Take it Easy” – The Eagles

Game Exercise:Take some time this week to simply enjoy the moment. It would be great if you would go for a walk by yourself or go find a nice park bench by yourself and take a few minutes to reflect on all that you have done in your life.

I think it is so sad. And here’s why.

If given the chance, would you rather be given a million dollars or would you rather earn a million dollars?

Several months ago, I was listening to a local radio station and the two DJ’s were discussing a survey that asked people that question. The overwhelming majority of people said that they would rather be given a million dollars than earn a million dollars.

I think that is a sad state of mind. Every day, for most of us, our self-esteem or feeling of self-worth is under assault. We think we’re: too fat, too skinny, not fast enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough, not gifted enough, the list goes on and on. 

True accomplishments

The only thing that saves us from the onslaught of self-doubt is our list of accomplishments in life. I don’t want to get side-tracked on what we define as accomplishments because I can assure you that “true” accomplishments vary quite drastically from “societal approved” accomplishments.

Personally, I think it’s important to keep in mind all the little things we do in life, and maybe, just maybe, they aren’t as little as we may think. Your success in life – I define success as living a happy purposeful life – depends in large part on how we feel about ourselves. [Note: this is dependent upon how we feel about ourselves and not how we perceive others feel about us.]

Therefore, it is often the small victories that we achieve in life that help us suppress these negative waves of “I’m not good enough.”

We often hear and say how much better we feel when we lose 10 pounds, or how much better we feel once we get back in shape … or how much better we feel because we have a clean house. Yes, it is true that these things can make us feel better physically, but I think that the true “feeling better” stems from the victory we scored by forcing ourselves to accomplish these feats. 

Never underestimate the power of feeling good about yourself! 

Remember, you are your greatest asset. Now go earn that million dollars! – if that’s really important to you. If not, quit wishing someone would give it to you! And that’s worth a lot. 

Soulful Quote:  “Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves” – Nathaniel Branden 

[Note the word acquire (the small victories) and not give.]

Song: “Greatest Love of All,” by Whitney Houston

Game Exercise/Life Changer: Answer the question for yourself and check your Self Reliance gauge! 

Homonyms – Liken or Lichen. Say what?

What’s this have to do with living a happier life?

Southern dialogue is well known for running words and phrases together as to shorten ‘em. It was long said that this was because us’ens here in the south are lazy. Well y’all, I’m just here to tell you that I don’t think it’s laziness. I like to think we’re just efficient. 

Another example is “liken.” It is used in place of “like something or a comparison. Example: I “liken” his temper to that of a rattlesnake, or I “liken” her to a rose, beautiful from a distance but if you get too close you might get an ouch!

There is also a living organism called a lichen. That’s what’s called a homonym – when two words sound alike but have different meanings. Yes, yes, I know “liken” isn’t a real word according to Webster and the likes, but it would certainly be found in any southern dictionary. 

What’s that on the tree?

Back to lichens. Rachel just recently found a very interesting article on lichens.  https://awaytogarden.com/what-lichens-are-telling-us-with-dr-james-lendemer/ Other than a few questions from people asking me, “what’s that growing on that tree?” I haven’t thought much about lichens since biology class many moons ago. Upon reading this article, I realized that there is a lot about lichens I have forgotten or probably never learned. lichen on a tree

For example, lichens are actually a combination of fungi and algae. They live symbiotically, meaning they help each other out. The fungi protect the algae and the algae feed the fungi. Then there’s this other critter that’s often involved called a “water baby.” A water baby is a small invertebrate, meaning it has no backbone (and, we’ll just leave that for the time being lol).

What does this have to do with happiness?

Okay, okay, I know, enough of the science lesson. What does this have to do with being happy? Well, think about it. There is this whole little system going on in this seemingly simple lichen. We see them growing on rocks, trees, soil and almost anywhere. Looking at a lichen, who would ever think that this complex ecosystem exists in this seemingly simple looking thing growing on a rock? To some, it doesn’t even look alive.

Here are two takeaways from lichens to live a happier life:

  1. We live in a vast universe in which we really know so little. Our own individual lives are such a small fraction, yet our role is vital to the entire system. This is why it is so important for you to know your role and not follow the herd. To make your own path.
  2. The fungi, the algae, and the water baby all living intertwined together. Each fulfilling their role. None worried about which is stronger, which is prettier, which is smarter, or which possess more. They just fulfill their role to help each other.

I liken, lichen to the way we aught live!

Soulful Quote: 

Lichen up, and find and fulfill your purpose – life is short!

Song:

One” by U2

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Go forth and see if you can find a lichen operating near you! And enjoy the outdoors, it’s spring!
If you find some really good lichen, send us a pic!

Smile. Go ahead, pass it on.

You’ll be better off

I am not always a fan of the insta-message posted on church signs, but I am a huge fan of smiling. Forcing yourself to smile can change your mood. Change it for the better that is.

Now I’m not saying that it is always easy, but it is doable. There have been times when I’m having one of “those days” that I literally have to go in front of the mirror, and using my fingers, force a smile. I will stay in that position until I can walk out of the bathroom maintaining the smile. Dale Carnegie in his bestselling book (for decades, I might add) How to Win Friends & Influence People very early on discusses the value of a smile. Here’s a couple of his words:

  • “Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says, “I like you. You make me happy. I   am glad to see you” p.63
  • “Your smile is a messenger of your good will” p.69
  • “Your smile brightens the lives of all who see it” p. 69

It’s amazing how this simple act can positively not only change our moods for the day but all those who we come in contact with as well.

Change a life one day at a time. SMILE!

The power you posses by simply smiling and causing others to smile: Amazing!

 

Soulful Quote: 

“For nobody needs a smile so much as those who have none left to give” Dale Carnegie.

Song:

Smile,” by Nat King Cole

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

This week, find a way to cause someone else to smile. Repeat often! (Also a featured day in Don’t Be a Cow!)

And this will make you smile. Pass it on. (One of our earliest videos, with the original BOOK COVER!)

 

 

Have You Ever Wondered Whether You Were Coming or Going?

A phrase often used when life becomes very busy and very hectic. When we are in these times, it can seem as though we are running in circles.

And yes, if you were literally running in a circle, it would be extremely difficult to determine if you were coming or going.

I am well familiar with this phenomenon as I have experienced it repeatedly in my life. Particularly over the last several months, hence I have missed my blogs the last two weeks. I have in fact really missed writing them.

I remember sometimes throughout my college years at the end of an intense semester, I would come home and catch some kind of bug that would stop me in my tracks for several days. I later became convinced that this was the result of literally running myself down into the ground. Pure exhaustion! My body’s way of telling me to stop, but it never did until the semester ended. Interesting!

As I’ve experienced these times, I have realized that they are just part of the ebbs and flows of life. These periods might look like this:

  •  Two large projects almost complete, a new big project has come in and it needs immediate attention so that it can get started off on the right foot (if I could just wait until I finish these other two, they are so close). It’s also the end of the school year so every evening, it seems, is filled with a band concert, choral event, awards ceremony or any number of other things that go on at the end of a school year. To make matters worse, two organizations that you volunteer with are in the midst of a huge capital fundraising campaign (or in my case, it’s Arbor Day season). Everything seems to be happening at once. I’m sure you are quite familiar with this kind of drill.

When I find myself in one of these hectic times, I have found 4 things that really help me cope, and not only cope, but to find happiness along the path and through it all.

  1. Define an ending point. This is critical. If you can’t find one, make one. Schedule a vacation or long weekend get-away. Schedule this well in advance so that you make sure all projects will have a resting point.
  2. Create a 5-minute fun diversion every day. Some may say meditate and that is fine if you love meditating, but I have found there are many people that find meditating stressful. This is 5 minutes that is all about you.
  3. Prioritize. Take a few minutes to look at why you are so busy. Is there something that could wait? Sometimes I have something I really want to get done, but if I stop and look at it, I find I could finish it at a later time. In other words, it’s a self-imposed constraint and not necessarily a project deadline. Other self-imposed constraints I have found are dietary constraints or exercise routines. Sometimes these things can in themselves provide us relieve and stress reduction but other times they can become something else on the to-do list and add to the stress level. For short periods of time, it is okay to let these type things to slide.
  4. Re-affirm to yourself, why you are in this situation. Is it the result of a promotion or potential promotion? i.e. is it somehow going to better your life? If you can’t find that reaffirmation, then maybe it’s time to stop and dig a little deeper.

Soulful Quote:

Take time to smell the roses – every day!” My twist to an old saying.

Song:

“Running on Empty,” by Jackson Brown         

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Learn how to create a 5-minute diversion and practice it daily.

Ideas? Find a nice park bench and enjoy a coffee or tea or maybe a piece of fruit, or better yet, an ice cream. While on the park bench, people-watch or force yourself to think of fun things (dare I say, dream!). You can do the same, walking around the block or in a park. This activity is five minutes doing what you find fun, and yes, there is something for everyone. Having trouble? Let me know, I’m sure I can help.

 

Have you ever wished you would have “thought of that sooner?”

Recently I was giving a “lunch & learn” presentation at a nationally-recognized corporate headquarters: Think “duck,” quack, quack. The presentation was connected to Arbor Day, which this year – for me anyway – feels like it’s happening every weekend. (Back to the movie “Groundhog Day?”)

There was a good attentive crowd in attendance. I am always thankful to enjoy an opportunity to speak in front of an audience and spread a positive and happy message. And being connected with Arbor Day, what can be more inspiring than talking about trees and people?

Talking trees and people.Kids planting trees for Arbor Day Columbus TREES celebration

I mean, after all, we can’t talk about trees without talking about people. Think about it. Don’t people control the trees? So, if we talk trees, we inevitably have to talk people, right?

But, I digress. Back to my original question: Have you ever had someone ask you a question, a question that sort of takes you by surprise? Then you answer, but several days later you think of how you should have responded? That’s what happened to me after giving this presentation. Someone came up after it was all over and asked, “you really have a good job, don’t you?”

“Uh, um … why yes, I do, at least on most days anyway,” I responded.

After several days of thought, I decided my response should have been, “Yes, my job is fun [or good or great] because I make it that way.”

The last several weeks have kept me busy with quite a few Arbor Day celebrations (remember, National Arbor Day is one date; but various communities and areas of the country celebrate throughout year and many are in the spring). Subsequent tree plantings have taken a toll on my time, so reflecting upon this week, I’m keeping the message short:

We all have “fun” and not “so fun” in our lives. Not just our jobs, but in all aspects of our lives.

Just remember fun is what you make it, as is life.

Soulful Quote:

“Life is what you make of it. You can make it easy on yourself or you can make it hard.” –  Deep Roy

Song:

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

List one think in your job or your life that you don’t considered to be “fun.” Now think of ways you can make it fun.

Do you ever have trouble shaking an old memory or thought?

Mind over Matter

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I get a thought from the past in my brain and I just can’t seem to let it go. It seems that most of the time it is something that I did – often that I’m not very proud of – and it just wants to go into replay mode over and over again.

It’s like it wants to remind me how foolish I can be. The importance of getting rid of these types of thoughts is because if we are not careful, they can cause us to think less of ourselves. They can actually steal our self-esteem. My mantra – “learn from the past and move on “ – can sometimes be easier said than done. However, I have recently found a cure for those hard-to-shake memories that seems to help. What I really like about this cure is that it is silly. Let me explain the silliness.

Dog in stand off with cat under a truck

Rachel and I are the proud owners of a few-months-old puppy. Anyone who has ever gone through the throws of owning a puppy understands that if they weren’t so darn cute, they would never survive until adulthood. I mean, she drags up and chews things I didn’t even know we still had and is constantly jumping on people, tables, chairs and the poor old cat.  Today, she enjoyed a tasty lizard. And, of course, her paws are constantly muddy.

Discipline I said. “We must train this dog!”

Children were returning home for the Christmas holidays, and to our amazing good fortune, it just so happens that Thing # 3 – for those of you who are new to my musings, and haven’t as yet read Don’t Be a Cow! – we refer to our four children as Thing # 1, #2, #3 and #4. We do this for two reasons: 1) To protect their identity when we become famous; 2) Most of the time around our house, at least when they were all still living at home, our home life seemed like something from a Dr. Seuss Story!

Okay back to Thing # 3. She works with puppies training to be service dogs. Bingo! We had our trainer! When the pup tries getting something she isn’t supposed to get – like the cat – we use the phrase “leave it.” You can imagine with everything that puppy gets into, the phrase “leave it” is used quite frequently. In fact, I’m sure the dog is convinced that her actual name is “Leave it.”

Leave it.

Puppy carrying a pine coneBecause the phrase is now so ingrained in my head, I thought how it might be useful in my own life. Sure, it would help with a diet or could be helpful in the upcoming Lenten season; however, I was also starting to experience one of those annoying re-occurring, not-so-pleasant thoughts. (Over the course of 30 years running my own business, I have often tried new ventures. Let’s say a change in paths. Although, most of the time this has worked out well, there was a time where things didn’t turn out so good. I did eventually right the ship, but boy it was not a pleasant experience. So now, as I once again look at making a slight change in direction, my brain wants to recall the negative experiences and not the several positive ones.)

Of course, this thought also occurred just after having to come back inside and change clothes because of the muddy paw prints on the khakis. So, when that negative “been here before” thought popped up, I simply told myself to “leave it.”  And, much to my surprise, the thought left me. That is until I started writing this blog “Leave It”! Okay, wait. There. All better now.

Leave It. Why I think it works.

Though I do not hold a PhD in happiness, psychology, psychiatry or anything else pertaining to the workings of the human brain, I think that the phrase “leave it” works because it uses a positive, or at least a non-negative call-to-action. Our brains tend to lose words like “don’t” so if we say “don’t think about it” our brains simply retain “think about it.” Try it yourself: Don’t eat the cake or Leave it. Umm…okay, maybe that wasn’t a good example, especially right before Lent.

Now, I realize this doesn’t say much for my intellectual capacity when I’m taking the lead from a puppy; however, in life oftentimes the simplest lessons are the most effective. Especially when you find yourself in our position … as in not looking forward to seeing that lizard again anytime soon.

Soulful Quote:

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”– Steve Maraboli

Song:

“Let it Go” from the movie Frozen, performed by Idina Menzel

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Try using the phrase “Leave it” in your life. I would love to hear your comments.

Arbor Day – Do you know when it’s celebrated? And why?

Although national Arbor Day is in April, many states and communities celebrate Arbor Day sooner to take advantage of a more suitable climate in which to plant trees. Yes, Arbor Day is about planting trees, but it’s also a time when we can celebrate nature. Nature is a great stress reliever, a great healer. (A repost from December 2017.)

Related: When is Arbor Day celebrated in your state? 

Nature – in the backyard

Nature’s way to speak to us all
If only we stop, to absorb its awe!

The vibrant red of a cardinal on a gray and gloomy winter’s day
The soaring of an eagle in what appears to be an endless sky
The sounds of water as it travels after a torrent rain
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is …

Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb its awe!

Tree in fogThe swaying of a tree, in a summer’s warm sultry breeze
The weaving of a web from a spider from tree to tree to tree
The symphony of crickets and frogs, as I sit upon my deck
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is …

Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb its awe!

The power of an ant moving a beetle ten times its size
The revolving carousel of birds around a feeder hung nearby
The rapid flittering of the hummingbird’s wings,
Is always a wonder
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is …

Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb its awe!

The warmth of the sun, on a brisk fall day
The harvest moon, or any that is amongst a starlit sky
The emergence of new leaves, ready to spring forth all life, a fresh breath
It’s there for all to see, it’s there for all to hear, for you see, it is …

Nature’s way to speak to us all,
If only we stop, to absorb its awe!

You need not travel far, you need not travel wide
You need not procure additional clothing and wares
All you need, is to be aware, for you see, it is …

Nature’s way to speak to us all
If only we stop, to absorb its awe!

Something for everyone, just waiting to please
You need not fret, if you are prone to sneeze
For even an open curtain, may bring you to your knees
For I wish, that all would see, it is …

Always a wonder,

Nature’s way to speak to us all
If only we stop, to absorb its awe!

Soulful Quote:

The Earth laughs in flowers”- Unknown

Song:

“For the Beauty of the Earth” by John Rutter

Game Exercise/Life Changer:

Make it a point to go spend sometime in the great outdoors this week. Weather not conducive, spend sometime looking out you window, drive and park in a park parking lot. Watching rain, snow, and wind blowing the trees is experiencing nature as well. Then, write down one thing that you saw that you’ve really never noticed before. This is what I call discovering nature.