Category Archives: Positivity

How do you do Community?

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Community is the glue that keeps our society together. I’ve been blessed in my life to have been a part of a variety of different communities. These experiences with community have shaped me. They have inspired me. They have taught me so very much. They have most certainly been a source of joy.

Like the community of church folks who came together back in Wisconsin a few years ago to fix up a single mom’s beautiful old house to get it ready to be sold. This was a days long process involving probably 24 of us. We painted. We put up curtains. Some of us did some electrical work and plumbing. While working on these tasks, we also got to know each other better. We ended with a shared experience that benefited not just the single mom and her kids, but all of us.

Like the community of friends, many of whom hadn’t officially met before, who came together to make a home accessible for a friend’s spouse who in her 30’s suffered a stroke while vacationing out of the country and was soon coming out of rehab. We organized closets, we built an accessible ramp, we updated the bathroom and re-arranged the bedroom to accommodate the spouse’s new way of moving through their day to day world.

Like the community at our local brew pub, 3 miles down the road from our townhome here in Colorado. If ever there was a “Cheers”  in real life, this would be that place. The owners and bartenders know our names. The owners regularly schedule events that build community.

And this sign is prominently featured, which I very much appreciate. This one hangs in the ladies’ restroom.

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Then there’s our current church community. Our major fundraiser each year is a lawn mower clinic, held in May. Hubs and I, along with probably 2-3 dozen other church folks came together on three Saturdays this past May to check the oil, change spark plugs, and clean those well used, clunky machines up so they would be in good working condition for their owners when the time came to get back to mowing their lawns again. Each of these Saturdays were nasty, weather-wise. Snow. Rain. Cloudy, cold, and breezy. From my perspective, only experiencing 2 years in Colorado, this weather was a-typical for the time of year. But yet we all bundled up, drank a lot of hot coffee, and got things done as a community.

The Facebook blogging community I’ve recently become a part of is another example of how I like to “do” community in my life. In this group, bloggers often lift each other up. They turn each other on to new ideas, new tricks to improve their writing and their blogs. They  We support each other as best we can. We seem to understand that while we all have our individual blogs, we’re in it (aka the Blogosphere) together. We all want to succeed at what we’re doing and we all love to write. We respect each other. There does not seem to be a sense of “my blog vs. your blog” competitive b.s. going on in this group. We all seem to engage with this group in an effort to build each other, and ourselves at the same time, up. I’m so glad I decided to join this community.

The bottom line, for me, is that being around others, especially with a clear goal in mind, energizes me. It appeals to my social and socially conscious nature. It opens up my world, teaches me things I didn’t know I needed to learn, both about myself and others. It helps me focus on the positive and reminds me that there is good in the world. That the number of good people in our universe far outweighs the number of bad people. It gives me hope.

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Life is Fragile, Be Gentle

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I don’t know the origin story for this sign. I can only imagine that it was something someone made back in the early 70’s and gave to my parents. I just remember it hanging on the fiberboard walls of my dad’s beloved garage while I was growing up. I can only assume that my mom couldn’t find quite the right place to display it in our house. Or she found it tacky.

But my dad had an appreciation for this sign. It meant something to him. It was hung on those fiberboard walls next to scribblings from family and friends from near and far who were visiting our house for one celebration or another. Dad got a big kick out of having guests sign the wall in the garage to commemorate various celebrations. He was quite the sentimental guy.

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Yes, I christened myself the cutest “chic” that ever came here.  I was a brat that apparently couldn’t spell.

I think first and foremost, this sentiment, these words, apply to the important concept of self-care. I think it’s easy to go through our days mentally haranguing ourselves about how we could have done “this”  better, or how we shouldn’t have said “that” to whomever, or that we should have reacted differently in a particular situation. Something I’m trying to do lately is to put my self-defeating thoughts on pause for a moment and ask myself if the negative thoughts about myself would be something I would actually say out loud (or even under my breath) to a close friend. The answer is always, emphatically, “no”.  I think this sign is an excellent reminder to be gentle (aka kind) to oneself.

I also believe if we have any hope of ushering in a kinder, less dysfunctional, society, not only for the benefit of  those of us living in the here and now, but for the generations coming up behind us, we should endeavor to heed these words in our day to day interactions with others, whether they be strangers or friends.

What does this look like for me? I think it’s more what it sounds like, in my case. When I am frustrated with another person because they are jumping on my last nerve, if I’m being honest, these not-so-positive feelings are evident in my tone of voice. If I can be cognizant of this fact, in the moment, I can hit the pause button for a hot second and make the necessary adjustments. I think one simple tool is to slap a smile on my face. Then when I open my mouth to speak again, the words cannot help but come out in a kinder, gentler way.

Tell me, kind and gentle readers, do you think this sentiment has value as I do? If so, what does it look like in your life?

Que Sera, Sera

I’ve got an earworm these days. This is thanks to our receptionist at work who continually has the 60’s station playing on Pandora or Spotify or whatever the hell audio service she uses. I commented to her that I remember my mom singing this song to me when I was growing up.

Now, mind you, my mom cannot carry a tune. In fact, I recall a story she often told about her youth. It goes something like this: when she was in high school, back in the early 50’s, she desperately yearned to be a member of the choir. However, she was self aware enough to know she did not possess the ability to carry a tune. So her mother, one of my two Grandma Pearls (ironically enough), despite the fact that she and Grandpa were by all accounts quite poor, attempted to bribe the choir director with cold hard cash to get mom into the choir.
Unfortunately, for my mom, this plan didn’t work. She was still rejected.
As a kid, I couldn’t care less that mom lacked any singing talent. Her voice singing Que Sera, Sera, among other songs I can still vividly recall, was full of love and tenderness for me. That is all that mattered.
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Now, back to the song. The line that especially sticks with me is “Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see, Que Sera, Sera”. Repeating this to myself brings on a sense of calm. It compels me to focus not on the future, which none of us have control of, but on the present. On the now.
And in the now, I will be traveling to Minnesota to spend time with my mom.

The story of the traveling hutch

 

 

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I love this hutch. Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s sort of a family heirloom. Let me tell you the story.

This hutch was housed in the one bedroom “shotgun” cabin my parents purchased on a lake 20 minutes from their house about 25 years ago. The seller of the cabin had no use for this hutch, as he was an elderly gentleman with no family around. He simply left it there, where it sat in a corner in the kitchen/dining space.

My mom has never been a fan of antiques. She much preferred to decorate her home and that little cabin in a more modern fashion, which at the time was a lot of country blues and pink hues on the furniture as well as the walls. She has always been stellar at organizing small spaces (the home 5 of us and a dog lived in for eons was 3 small bedrooms and one bathroom with no shower, just a tub. Yes, I didn’t get regular showers until I moved into my dorm in college). So this hutch served a purpose for her as it was a place to store dishes. She and I, along with all other female family members, also relied on this hutch when visiting the cabin, as a make up and hair styling station. There was an outhouse in the back.

My dad and I, however, had an appreciation for this old hutch. We saw it as a pretty well preserved piece of history, and a beautiful one at that. I remember telling my parents as a young mom and wife that this was likely the only piece of furniture that I would like to be bequeathed to me someday.

Someday happened about 15 years later. My dad, then about 76, asked me during a phone call (back when he could still hear well enough to have at least a short conversation on the phone), if I’d still like to have the hutch. I told him emphatically yes and he said he’d like to deliver it to me the next time they came to Wisconsin for a visit.

So my dear old dad drove himself and my mom over 5 hours one way and delivered the hutch. Hubs and I picked out just the right spot for it between our dining and living area. Hubs served as Dad’s apprentice to move the hutch from the back of dad’s pickup truck, and together they carefully lugged it up the stairs to put it in its’ designated spot. I was in awe that my dad was still the strong man he always was at 76 and appreciated the teamwork it took he and Hubs to get it into the house.

Miraculously, the hutch survived two more moves, one from our family’s home in a more rural area, to our new “empty nester” home in the city of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and the other from La Crosse all the way here to Colorado. I fully expected that the hutch would suffer some type of damage during both of these moves. Perhaps the mirror would crack, or the old glass pane would shatter into a million pieces. But alas, it survived.  I like to think it survived because of the appreciation we had for it. More than likely though it was just dumb luck.

I’m really pleased with where we chose to place it in our townhome. Especially because it was pure happenstance that when you walk towards it, in the mirror you can see the peace sign that we hung on the opposite wall next to our front door. What sweet serendipity.

There are few tangible “things” I treasure in this life. And this old hutch, with the memories that go along with it, is right at the very top of the list.

 

Happiness is having something to look forward to

Thinking forward to an upcoming visit with our friends, couple #1, and their two young daughters recently prompted me to peruse the library at work. This library is chock full of donated books for the seniors we serve to take home and enjoy. There is no requirement that the books taken be returned, which I love. Included in this library is a shelf full of children’s books.

That is where I found this little gem, written by Minnesota native and creator of the iconic Peanuts cartoons Charles Schultz, in the year of my birth, 1967.

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The colors and graphics in this little book are quite gorgeous to my eye. But what most tripped my trigger was the words written in the pages. The sentiments. One especially.

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The message that “happiness is having something to look forward to” resonates with me. I believe that all of us, even on our worst days, if we pause to think about it, can imagine something on the horizon to personally look forward to. It doesn’t have to be anything major. In fact, the simpler the better. Because really, isn’t it the simple joys in life that make it enjoyable? Worth continuing?

Maybe it’s the fancy mocha-choca-latte you’re going to buy on your way to work today. Maybe it’s payday. Perhaps it’s the juicy burgers you’re going to grill tonight for supper. Or the book you can’t wait to read. Or the summer vacation you’ve got planned with your family or friends.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, let me share what I am currently looking forward to: visiting the Denver Zoo this weekend with our friends and their sweet, funny, smart little girls (one soon to be 6 and the other soon to be 3). Witnessing their reactions to the animals they see and interact with. Hearing their giggles. Capturing some sweet photos along the way.

How about you all? What are you looking forward to? Surely there’s something.

Thoughts on Self-Care

It feels to me as if the term “self-care” is being tossed around a lot these days. It’s “trending”, which I take to mean the concept will, before long, peter out. It will lose it’s meaning, it’s importance. People will tire of it, finding ways on social media to mock it and render it irrelevant. They’ll find another term to latch onto.

Ironically, I just googled “self-care” and on Merriam Webster, front and center, there is an icon of lightening next to the word “trending”. My point is thus proven. 

Before this concept is indeed no longer trending, I’d like to add my two cents about self- care. I can only speak from my own perspective of course, recognizing that many people in the world are struggling mightily to survive another day, physically and/or mentally, so finding the time and energy to even ponder what self-care means let alone practicing it eludes them. Which really is a damn shame.

Bottom line: I am grateful that I have enough quiet time to myself, along with the mental energy to both identify what self-care looks like to me and the physical and intellectual ability to regularly engage in the activities that promote it. Especially during those times, like right now, when those people near and dear to me are experiencing life challenges that are weighing on my mind and heart, causing me to feel utterly helpless. 

I think that in order to practice self-care in any sort of meaningful way, it’s necessary to define for yourself what it specifically looks like to you. However, taking the time to recognize why practicing self-care is beneficial for you should be your first task. My personal theory is that if I choose to not practice self-care, my ability to be emotionally present for my loved ones will be dwarfed. I will feel put-upon, frustrated, tired, and stressed out. By not practicing self-care, I will lessen my ability to find the silver linings in things as well as hindering my ability to be the best version of myself. By regularly practicing self-care, my chances of being effective at providing emotional support to those I love greatly increase.

Now, while I am admittedly an over-thinker, I cling firmly to the K.I.S.S. mantra (the Keep it Simple, Sister version) when it comes to what self-care looks like for me. I don’t believe any self-improvement endeavor is worth much if there are too many steps.

Let me share some of the self-care tactics that work for me. I urge you to consider what yours are and then share them with me and our blogging friends here in the comments, if you feel comfortable doing so. 

  • I keep a regular sleep schedule and make it a priority to get enough sleep (8.5 hours per night has proven to be ideal for me).
  • I listen to my Soul Song and other playlists daily as they bring me joy. I find that listening to my music each morning puts me in a positive mindset for the day ahead.
  • Regular grooming of fingernails/hands and toenails/feet. As in, at home manicures and pedicures. Taking care of my physical appearance in this way boosts my confidence as I am out and about in my day to day life. And it’s a very relaxing activity for me, especially when I’ve got my favorite tunes playing in the background.
  • I regularly make to do lists, which gives me a sense of order and purpose. This tactic calms my anxious brain and is a valuable tool that boosts my focus on my priorities for the day, or week. I also get a little kick every time I check something off on my to-do lists.
  • I  lay out my yoga mat and stretch my body and do a few strengthening and toning exercises every single morning.  I follow that up with some prayer time. Expressing gratitude and connecting with the Spirit helps me clear my head and gives me good mental energy for the day ahead of me.
  • I ignore people that only have negative things to say as much as I possibly can. You know who they are in your own life. We all do.
  • I strive to remain mindful as I go through my days. For instance, really listening  to people instead of thinking up responses to what I think they are going to say. Also, limiting the amount of times I check my cell phone throughout the day allows me opportunities to see and experience what is going on in my environment. I think it’s healthy to keep FOMO (fear of missing out) at bay.
  • I mentally pull out a phrase or mantra that speaks to me if I’m feeling stressed, such as “This too shall pass”, or “Let it Be” of course in song version because that is how my brain works. 

 

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About my About Page

I’ve been thinking for a while now about my “About” page.  I notice that readers often peruse it when they’re checking out my blog. Now that I have been blogging for over a year (101 posts so far!), I realize that my “About” page no longer captures who I am as a blogger, at least to my satisfaction .

It needs some tweaking; perhaps a complete overhaul. 

My about Page in it’s current state:

Psych! My name is not actually Pollyanna. My name is Rhonda, and I’m so appreciative that you are taking the time to read this. My goal is to simultaneously amuse, inspire, and empower you with tales from my life as an optimist striving to become the most authentic  version of myself through creative writing.

Some topics I blog about are my devotion to music (from blues to 70’s and 80’s hits and artists, new adult alternative, singer/songwriters, past and present, motown, and classic rock and roll),  love (of food, people, and dogs),  relationships, religion and spirituality, and (at least once in awhile), and politics (warning: I unapologetically lean towards the left). I also very much enjoy highlighting people in the spotlight who are putting good out there in the world.

So that’s me in the smallest of nutshell I can muster. With a little luck, as Sir Paul sings,  I “can make this whole damn thing work out”.

Here is my critique of my “About” page, from my subjective perspective: 

Okay…starting with the first line. “Psych”?! Kind of dorky. It’s not really ground breaking to have a blog title that is not one’s actual given name. Maybe I need to explain why I call this blog “Pollyanna’s Path”. It’s not because I read the Pollyanna books as a child. It’s not because I wish my actual name was Pollyanna. It has  more to do with being an optimist, sometimes to the annoyance of others. A former co-worker often referred to me as “Pollyanna” presumably due to my tendency to walk with a slight bounce in my step and my generally cheery disposition. I like to think she called me that because she secretly wished she could be cheery like me.

Second line….expressing appreciation for those taking the time to read my blog. That is true; I do very much appreciate when anyone reads my blog. The point of having a blog (heck every blogger would agree, right?) is to get people to read it. And while this line objectively sounds a bit meek and mousy, it is sincere. I think I’ll keep it in.

Next line…my goals are to simultaneously amuse, inspire, and empower my readers through my creative writing. Lofty goals indeed. Too much perhaps. Too eager. Biting off more than I can chew. This line is going to need some work.

About that second paragraph: “some” of the topics I write about?! That’s a lot of topics! Some of which I have not been writing much if anything about at all these days, if I’m being honest.  I am all over the place with my writing, as anyone following my blog can plainly see. And why am I saying that I “unapolagetically lean towards the left”? It is true, but what purpose does it serve to share it on my about page? I’m not sure. Perhaps when I came up with that line, I was subconsciously trying to protect myself from some random reader who might feel deceived while reading one of my political posts and get all hateful on me. Anyway, it’s clear that particular line will cease to exist on my about page.

Next line…I enjoy highlighting people in the spotlight who are putting good out there in the world. I continue to concur with this sentiment, but it ought to be re-worded. And “people in the spotlight”? That part may need to go. If I’m “highlighting” someone who I feel is Bad Ass, awesome, and worthy of attention, it shouldn’t, exclusively anyway, be someone who is actually already smack dab in the spotlight. Because everyone else is writing about them too. And many of those writers are expressing exactly what I think or feel about the person being “highlighted”. I think it’s more interesting to “highlight” people who are not already trending, with their images plastered everywhere for all to see day in and day out.

Final two lines: First one is right on, as I have a tendency to be verbose and I did feel a sense of pride for summing up what I’m “about” as a blogger in the space of 3 short paragraphs. I added the “Sir Paul” line in an effort to be clever and to emphasize the influence of music on me as a writer. I just may keep that in.

So, I’ve got some work to do around here. Stay tuned…..