Maintaining Joy, Finding Those Moments of Joy Throughout Your Day

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Joy, “A feeling of great pleasure and success” this is the dictionary meaning. I believe throughout the day we can experience pockets of joy. Brief moments in our lives that bring us great pleasure. Joy, and the experience of sheer joy is sometimes a choice, and other times, these blissful moments just unfold. I suggest looking for these moments, as if you were going on a treasure hunt. This makes you excited, and able to savor and carve out these precious moments everyday. We have these moments in our lives everyday, we often just let them slip by without noticing them. It’s the moment of enjoying the smell of coffee in the morning hours, a quiet moment by yourself snuggling up to a fire and reading a great book. It maybe snuggling in your lovers arms, and feeling the warmth of your love. It could be making a snowman with your six year old and enjoying life through the eyes of a six year old. All are these moments are pockets of joy ,that often become treasured memories of a life time.

I say treasure these moments, look for them, and don’t let them slip by. Often we are too busy with mundane task, and we let these valuable moments pass us by. Take the time to stop, recognize, and enjoy these pockets of blissful joy in your life.  Here are some tips to find pockets of joy everyday:

1. On those very busy days with deadlines, and task coming to you from every direction. Stop for a moment breathe, take a coffee or tea break for 10 minutes, smell the coffee, feel the warmth of the hot brew in your hands, find a spot where you can look out a window, and daydream for 10 minutes. Claim those 10 minutes as yours, and enjoy!

2.On those very busy days when you are trying to complete chores around the house, and your children are laughing at something else in the other room. Take a moment to enjoy their laughter, find out what is so funny, the best times are created when you take the time to join them. Before you know it, you have created another pocket of joy, simply by capturing the moment.

3. Your on one side of the couch, your husband or significant other is on the other side, and you are  looking at a movie. Slide up close and capture the moment to plant a big kiss or just snuggle. Both of you will find joy knowing that you have each other, and its’s a moment to say I love you without words.

4. If your parents are still living, which is a blessing in its self, send them a silly picture of you or you and your family, and follow it with a call telling them you were thinking of them.

5. Make a date for lunch, brunch, or just coffe with a dear friend to catch up or share memories, laugh and enjoy.

These are just a few, that came to me, be creative, capture, savor, and find your own pockets of joy. Take the time to savor each of those moments, by using all your senses to truly find joy in everyday life. Finding joy in your life, is the definition of success.

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5 Ways To Survive The Political Climate of America

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When I look at the news or read people’s comments on social media, I am still amazed at the divisions in America. I am not surprised by prejudice, or racism that has been around all my lifetime. I am surprised at the increase in numbers. What that says to me is that people have been stuffing there true feelings, and somehow this presidency is allowing, and maybe even encouraging those feelings to surface. America has not become greater, it is as if we have taken 12 steps backward. I guess the only positive thing I can see or say is that each side of the fence is very passionate about there beliefs. The purpose of this blog is not really even to state where I am in all of this negativity, but to encourage peace. I will say that I am for freedom, justice, and equality for all. I am for peace, respect, and basic human compassion and dignity. That is my position.

20140328-232319.jpgI am learning to agree to disagree in the true since of the word. To respect the opinions of others, even when there opinion differs from my own. Also to encourage freedom of speech for others without violence or corruption. The America of today, exemplifies that everyone has an agenda. I would also caution people to not always believe the hype, but to investigate and evaluate for yourself.

Listed below are some of my suggestions for surviving in the present political climate of America:

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Respect your opinion as well as the opinions of others. Do not allow your self to get into a shouting match with someone else. When emotions get involved in any debate, effective communication is lost. No one is hearing the other person, and it is just a shouting match.
2. Violence is not the way, walk away from violence. Do not allow yourself to get so heated that you initiate a violent acts or become the victim of a violent act. The violence then becomes the focal point, and it is not effective in communicating your views. If you want your point to be heard, stay away from violent acts. Especially if you are marching, when violence occurs, the whole point of the march is lost, and the media focuses on the violence that occurred.
3. Use wisdom when communicating your political views. Getting in a heated political debate at the office is not the epitome of wisdom. If you know in advance that this is going to turn into a very heated argument, and the other person is not really going to listen. Don’t waste your breath.
4. Live your life, regardless of the opinions of others. Do not let the views of other people define you as a person. Love who you love, laugh, pray, work, and enjoy life. Stand and fight for you and others to live their life to the fullest. This is the best defense against others who strive on racism and prejudice.
5. Choose your battles and your battleground, Everyone is not called to every fight. Marching in protest is not for everyone, there are other ways. Use your voice in social media, attend rallies and town hall meeting, voice your opinions patiently and intelligently. Listen to those who have an opposing view, when you can listen without reacting, you can really see and hear the person behind the words, which can be very enlightening.

We all have a voice, and we can use our voice effectively. We do not have to be silent when injustice occurs. However let wisdom, respect, and intelligence guide your actions. Do not let your emotions get the best of you, and remember violence begat violence, and no one wins.

Looking over 2016 I Realized My Best Moments Were shared Moments With Family

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This year has been different. I wouldn’t say it was good or bad, just different with  many unexpected things happening throughout the year. I guess I would call it a year of unveiling, the unveiling truth of people and who they really are. This year I really had the chance to look and examine me, the good, bad , and the ugly. I have had to make tough decision, make needed changes, and move forward with the positive changes. I guess I would call this year the year of self examination. In that sense, it has been a good year for my internal growth.

I admit I am not a Trump supporter. However, I see that some people are really showing who they really are,since this election. I also admit I had to hold myself accountable for my feeling toward some of Trump’s supporters during this election. I think Trump’s election has unveiled a lot about America. I think a lot of Americans thought we had made strides, and were progressing toward people being treated equally and with fairness. I think Trump’s election to president has unveiled the hidden thoughts and feelings of many Americans. Most of it is not pretty. It has unveiled a lot of feelings in me. At first,there was fear and anxiety. Then there was a calmness, as God intervened into my thought processes. Then there was a quiet resolve. There was the reassurance that I trust God, and that my life will continue to prosper daily no matter who is in office. Once I got there, I have decided it was time for me to move forward with my life, my hopes, and dreams. I will not be deterred by social circumstances,  for I am a child of the Most High God.

Although, this year has had many surprising twist and turns I have thrived, and I will continue to do so. As I went through pictures, and social media post over the last year. I also realized what has never changed is how much I love my family, and how much joy my family and close friends bring to my life. That the most important things in my life are God, my family, and my work, the service I bring to the world community. This is my joy, and this is what I will continue with in my life. So no matter what goes on in the world my love for God, my family, and the work of trying to make the world a better place; will be my focus. How about you?

                                       So Now What’s  Your Next  Move Mr Trump?

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Trump is now the president-elect, I did not vote for him, but he is the president-elect. I understand the frustration of those who are protesting, but I ask, what is that going to accomplish now? I see no need to protest now, save your steps, save your voice, be wise, wait and see. Sometimes, I find it so hard to believe that anyone with common decency , and belief in God, could vote for Trump. Oh but they have, and his supporters say, they wanted a change. I hear, I see, and maybe all will get just what they asked for, a change. My question is, what kind of change will it be? Will it be a change for the better, or will it be a change that will change the lives of our children, and children’s children?  Or will it be the positive change you hoped for. Is the change you are hoping for freedom, equality, and justice for all, or is it a change for a chosen few? Be careful, you just might get what you asked for. I also have to wait, and see, breathe, and pray for the best. I also have to find a way  to not expect the worse. America is reacting, and not thinking, sometime you have to be quiet, breathe, and wait. That, America is where we are, in this moment of time.

  I admit some of my fear, is that America will digress, where freedom for all, is just a dream long passed, that may never manifest. Therefore, before I react, and let my fears get the best of me, I will wait, I will see. Yet, I will not stand by idily. I will listen, I will educate myself, I will not be silent when wrongs are committed. I will not sleep on how others are treated, I will not sleep on justice for all, I will not sleep on teating all equally. I will make my voice heard, when it needs to be heard. I will march, when the steps lead to justice and equality for all. However, now, in this moment I will wait to see what is next Mr. Trump.

But, I ask you Mr Trump, now that you have won the election. Will you make bigoted, racist statements, and policies. Will your past dictate your future? Will you leave a legacy, of hatred and bigotry? Will the history books, tell your story truthfully, and what do you want them to say about you?  Will your legacy be one of inequality, will you serve all Americans, or just the ones who believe you will make America great again? Is the slogan, I will make America great again, the code word for I will take you back to an America where bigotry and racism was the theme of the day. I say not again, and not on my watch. I will wait, I will give you a chance, but I am not asleep. My eyes are fully open, my mouth is shut, but it will speak loudly if it needs to. My feet are not tired for they will march and protest for equality. In the meantime, I will breathe, and I will wait and see, what is your next move? Think about all that can be gained and lost, with your next move. The state of America is in your hands, and it really isn’t all about you, or a chosen few.

The Charm Of Living In Nashville

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    Nashville, is a city of wonderful contradictions. In my opinion it is one of themost sophisticated, cosmopolitan cities in the United States, yet, Nashville retains its southern charm. It is old and new. It is old south and modern progressive. It is old school country mixed with new school urban. 

 Nashville is truly worthy of its title of Music City . When I moved here I knewI was moving to a city famous for country music. What I did not realize was that Nashville s music roots are so diverse. Yes, country music is king, but the other music genres are certainly present. Jazz, blues, contemporary, alternative, you name the genre and you can find multiple venues to enjoy. To me, the music culture of Nashville is unmatched anywhere.

Also, it just seems to me that Nashville revels in its entertainment diversity. It s a little hard to explain, but, like no other city I ve been in, Nashville seems to place its culture as a top priority. Included are all the arts, not just the music industry. Nashville has what I would describe as an arts district on 5th avenue in which a full day can be easily spent going from one art studio to the next. The Schermerhorn Symphony Center just has to be experienced. It is a simply gorgeous facility that must be seen. I can only say from first-hand experience, that being in the hall during a symphony is to feel as if you have been transported to one of the great opera houses of Europe.

Nashville has professional sports, such as the Tennessee Titans, the Nashville Predators and the Nashville Sounds. College sports are available via Vanderbilt, Belmont, Lipscomb, Middle Tennessee State University and Tennessee State University. 

Nashville has its hip areas such as the Gulch and Germantown, but, also the quaint such as downtown Franklin and Leipers Fork.

Here are a few more spots to mention, The Country Music Hall of Fame, The Grand Old Opry and The Ryman. The list goes on and on.

You can hang out on the West End, vibrant with the influence of Vanderbilt University and Centennial Park. Or you can find the best and most diverse shopping in Cool Springs. I love the prevalence and beauty of the wonderful parks. There are communities that thrive on their character, such as Germantownand East Nashville. Or, you can drive outside of Nashville and discover beautiful countryside or meander along the Natchez Trace.

The Grand Old Opry is very much alive and vibrant. If you want to see the greatest stars of country music, the Grand Old Opry is the place to visit. It has a new face, but is still the Grand Old Opry. And, here is the pleasant contradiction: the Grand Old Opry now lives in a very modern, wonderful venue including the Marriott s huge Grand Old Opry resort. My wife and I recently celebrated an anniversary at the resort. It is incredible. It is a must see. I could go on and on about the resort, but let me just say, we decided it shouldbe one of our regular visits, not to just stay overnight, but to spend a day enjoying the many restaurants and pleasant hangouts. 

 The West End of Nashville is full of the modern / new contradiction. To me Vanderbilt University is the true star of the West End. Vanderbilt University is incredible. There are so very, very many activities available with Vanderbilt and you don t have to be a student to participate. The Blair School of Music has a large number of concerts happening all year long. The majority are of the concerts are free and open to the public. 

 The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) has many opportunities to continue learning. The public is encouraged to join the OLLI as a member or you can register on a class by class basis. There are just so many wonderful, interesting opportunities to grow with this group that I cannot begin to list them. 

 Vanderbilt is steeped in tradition, yet conducts some of the most important scientific research in the world and is on the cutting edge of the reinvention of the US healthcare industry. 

 West End life is vibrant. Centennial Park is one of my favorite destinations. From early Spring until late fall, it is unlikely that you can t find some type of outdoor event or entertainment; Shakespeare in the Park, big band concerts, arts and crafts festivals, the Musicians Corner and on and on. If you just want to enjoy the outdoors in the midst of a city environment, I think you would be hard pressed to find a more pleasant, beautiful setting than Centennial Park.     TheWest End population is incredibly diverse, undergraduate students, grad students, working professionals, foreign nationals, old, young and anything in between. One of my favorite activities is to find a good spot at Starbucks, Panera Bread or Vanderbilt s owned Barnes and Noble, get a cup of coffee, fire up my laptop or reader and just enjoy the atmosphere. People watching in the West End of Nashville is a real treat.

I lived in a downtown loft only two blocks from Broadway, a little further to the Ryman and Bridgestone arena. It was a real treat living that close to so much activity. If you re a country music fan, I don t see how you could not enjoy Broadway downtown. There are many venues for live country music. One of my favorite activities was to go to Broadway on Saturday between 11 and 3 and gofrom one honky tonk to the next. During this time, most of the live music is performed by bands comprised of Nashville s legion of studio musicians. The quality and talent is incredible. No cover charge and it is difficult to stump these bands with a special request, I know, I ve tried.

If Broadway Avenue is the old, then the Gulch is the new. This area has really taken off and now has a very vibrant life with the latest and greatest shops, mixed with local restaurants and is a favorite of the young professionals.

The Ryman, known as the mother church of country music is an old tradition. But, it is not just limited to country music. Though some of the greatest and most legendary country musicians still perform at the Ryman, it is also a great place to find the new and modern.

At the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) you can see the latest Broadway plays, ballet, musicals and on and on. It is a truly wonderful venue, with three different theaters ranging in size. My wife and I have enjoyed multiple events there ranging from the most popular musicals to a children’s ballet and have never been disappointed.

Nashville s triple-A minor league team, the Nashville Sounds is a personal favorite. I am a minor league baseball fan, having gone to many games all over the country. The Sounds new baseball facility is one of the very best. There not a bad seat in the house. The events are family friendly and a true financial bargain (tickets from $8 – $32).

Nashville s Farmers Market is a great hangout. Of course, there is the Farmers Market, but there are also numerous local eateries. On many Friday and Saturday nights there is live, free music. It truly feels community . 

Leipers Fork, southwest of Nashville, is a quaint little village of art studios and antique stores. It is home of the original Puckets Grocery Store, which is really a great home style restaurant in disguise. Leipers Fork will provide an extremely enjoyable Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Downtown Franklin is a great place to spend a day. It is full of easy walking, local stores, restaurants and the best antique shopping anywhere.

Because of Nashville s music industry, live, up-close musical entertainment can be found almost anywhere. One thing that is unique about Nashville is a tradition called writers in the round, where three or four songwriters will share their stories, play their songs and interact with each other and the audience. Writers in the round is a unique way to feel as if you are a part of the music industry. Bluebird Café in Green Hills is probably the most famous venue for writers in the round, but on any given night there are four to five venues that can be enjoyed.

​I could go on and on about Nashville. I have enjoyed many areas of the country,but the southeast is my favorite. And, though I miss my family and friends in Alabama, I don t think I could find a better place to live than Nashville.

Exploring Your Aging Self

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imageAging is a process we all have to go through,Whether we like it or not, aging is a process we all go through daily. One of the buzz words of today, and one that is seen on a lot of beauty products, is the phrase,”Antiaging”. Society wants to stop the aging process, or be totally against it. We want any signs of living life to be gone. We celebrate our youth and youthful living. However, part of living, and living well is aging. Everyone, will reach a point in life, when they recognize the signs of aging. Whether, it is the smile lines, or wrinkles, the few extra pounds that won’t go away, the signs of aging will appear. It may be some type of activity that you use to enjoy with grace and agility. However, now it is just a little more diffiucult to accomplish physically. It is all a part of aging.

I have begun to view aging differently, not as this difficult process that I have to go through. I am learning to celebrate aging. There is so much I have learned over the years. There are qualities that I have developed because of my age. Like the ability to really not care what others think of me, I am no longer a people pleaser. I celebrate my individuality, to go the path I think God is leading me, and to celebrate the path of others. I have learned to appreciate the beauty of grace. The grace of God because I am human and I do not always do everything perfectly. I live a perfectly, imperfect life, and I am happy to do so. I know I have made mistakes, and I have learned from them. The mistakes I have made in life allows me to have grace towards myself and others when mistakes are made. Aging has provided me with the ability to appreciate the moment, the sights, smells, and activity of each moment I live. Finally, I am beginning to appreciate the physical beauty of my aging. I appreciate the lines on my face, they are the product of a life well live. I appreciate this body that I am in, it moves and takes me wherever I try to go. It may move a little slower but it moves. I appreciate the wisdom, that I have acquired over the years. The ability to see people for who they are, and the ability to believe them when they tell me who they are. The ability to know bullhockey when I hear, and to call it as it is.

Their is this sixth sense that comes with living on the planet for 50+ years. A freedom in knowing I can try those things I never had the time to do. I still can be sexy, sassy, and classy. My age is a number that will not define me, but will proclaim that I have lived and lived well.

                                               The exploration of you

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     As I sit here lazily gazing out my window on this beautiful Saturday morning. I am amused by something that has been stirring in my soul for the past week or so. What if I went on this awesome adventure, where I explored new and exciting places I had never been, really experienced life in new ways, by literally savoring every moment. What if I viewed myself from new eyes, not in the self condemning way that I had learned from society, but saw myself in truth. “Fearfully and wonderfully made, as described by God in the bible. What if I explored my life, celebrating every aspect of it, reveling in every single detail of my journey in this thing called life. What if I really took the time to experience life, my life, as an exploration, and new adventure with the goal of finding out more about me. What if each relationship, failure, triumph, or day to day routine, really was about exploring the depths of myself, and the world around me. What kind of life would I live?

    So today, as I sit to write this blog, I plan on going on this brave new adventure, of exploring me at 50+. However, it is not about age, or race, or any of those things we use to define or separate ourselves. It is about finding out, and enjoying the woman I have become now, at this moment. I invite you to join me on your own adventure. As I think of it it is a very spiritual adventure, which for me is soothing. I am exploring me, now at this time of my life. As I age, learn, grow and experience. I begin my exploration today, first by exploring who I have become in these 57 years of living on this planet. A lot has happened, I lived, loved, divorced, lost and bounced back from lost. I have laughed so hard I almost wet my pants, and I have cried so hard my soul ached. Yet I have been resilient, I attribute my resiliency to the spirit of God in me. Today I choose to explore the spirit of resiliency in me, in others. It is a quality of the human spirit that fascinates and inspires me. So in the months to come, I will be on the journey of exploring the depths of my soul. I invite you to come along on my journey, or better yet take your own journey. Write about it, speak to someone about it, but do take the journey of exploring self. This is day one of my journey. Somethings I will share in this blog, other experiences, I will keep to myself. I anticipate learning, refining, and restoring parts of me that I have lost, or set aside. Here I go, exploring me at 50+, this will be a great ride!