Sparkles, S’mores and Land that I Love | Happy 4th of July

Smores Fourth of July NostalgiaI love the Fourth of July (or Fourch of Guly as I said when I was little), it makes me feel a bit nostalgic. One of my first 4th of July parades I remember being sad because I wasn’t fast enough at getting candy and I’m sure there were one or two thoughtful kids & parents who saw that and walked over to make sure I had some. Then there was the first parade I was in with my sister where we both wore costumes and tap shoes from dance lessons. My mom told us to march holding our batons with one hand lifting them straight up and down with each step and of course, we thought it was a great idea.

As we grew older, we were blessed enough to spend the first two weeks of July up north with my dad and dear friends at Crane Lake in Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian Border. The only way to get to the cabin was by boat. Imagine hauling 3-5 adults, 5-7 kids and a dog, 2 weeks worth of food, clothing  and fresh water for drinking. Sometimes it would take 2-3 trips and the boat would be so heavy the waterline was about a foot below the top. While we did have a short wave radio to hear the closest weather reports and listen to the international time, we did not have phones or television and we actually learned to appreciate that.

It was there we explored the chain of lakes where water is so clear you can look 15+ feet straight down and see the bottom. We learned how to water ski, responsibly shoot guns at targets, become great fishers and use a filet knife to clean and prepare our catch. At night, my dad would bring Crane Lakeout his guitar and we sang songs together around the fire, roasted marshmallows for S’mores and later hear the cracking and snapping of the fresh burning wood. Some evenings we would go out “on the rock” and enjoy the sunset, seen in the picture to the right. I would close my eyes and take in the fresh smell of the Norway Pine trees and burning fire. I would listen to the water lapping up on the shore, loons, seagulls or a boat humming in the distance. It was heaven on earth.

After fourth of July celebrations in the small town across the water, we would take the boat to the middle of the lake, cut the engine, watch the fireworks and have rich conversations about freedom, life or whatever was on our minds. It was there we discovered breathtaking views where stars are so clear you could see them sparkle right down to the horizon. In a good year, we could see the northern lights dance, displaying colors of green, blue and red.

I’m grateful for the people and all of those memories we created together. It shaped me in growing a deeper appreciation for this land where we live. Today, I think about so many people around the world who don’t have the same choices we do. I celebrate the fact that we are so fortunate to be citizens in a country where we have freedom to express ourselves, choose to practice our faith, celebrate diversity, practice servant leadership,  be educated and to make a difference in the lives of others. Wishing you a very happy Fourth of July.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences about how this day has shaped you. Please share below and thanks for visiting my blog!

“I AM” and “SPIRIT” In Sync With One Another #FierceForward

Fierce Forward - I AM and Spirit = Parters

I AM – two of the most powerful words you could ever declare to yourself. This is your declaration, your choice to stand in your power and allow your vision to come to reality/ #FierceForward

SPIRIT – Your truth. Freedom is found when you live you truth and let your spirit live out loud. Do not hide. Do not deny your truth. Do not let her stay quiet. Go forward, fiercely and let your SPIRIT lead the way. #FierceForward

Knowing who we are and being grounded in our truth are at the core of what teaches us to be great leaders and even better human beings.

These bracelets are handmade using African Trade Beads to support women in Africa. They are special because they support a worthy cause and they were an authentic gift from someone whose friendship means a great deal to me.

This post is inspired by The Weekly Photo Challenge themed: Partners: Whether two of a kind, or ten, give us subjects that are in sync with one another – show us partnerships.

Learn more about #FierceForward at fierceforwardforlife.com

Remembering Prince in Minneapolis ★ My Story

Before I turned on any media today I got in the car, my heart sunk and the words popped in my head; “Prince is Dead. OMG, I just can’t believe it.” As a home-grown Minnesotan whose stomping grounds used to be downtown Minneapolis, the reality left me feeling empty, then I turned on the radio to find every-single-station playing his music and talking about him. Later, I return home and turned on the Remembering Prince In Minneapolis - My StoryTV to see the “Let’s Go Crazy” song from the movie Purple Rain and BOOM, I briefly see myself on National TV.

In 1983 my friend Holly and I went to a casting call to try out for Purple Rain as extras. The line was long, they took our pictures and information. After a few months it was out of sight, out of mind.

Then the call came one evening in November somewhere between 10-11:30 P.M. asking if we could be downtown by 5:30 A.M. “Um……YES!” (No hesitation whatsoever.) So the next morning we arrived, exhausted because of the time spent freaking out about what to wear, how to fix our hair, getting our makeup just right, etc. We stood around much of the day at First Avenue between scene takes and Prince’s wardrobe changes. I chatted with his body-guard Big Chick (Some called him Jake). He was more than 6 1/2 feet tall with white hair and he had a long beard. He could have been mistaken as a biker one might see as part of the Hell’s Angel club. Despite his intimidating appearance, he always took the time to chat when we saw him. 

Back then in Minneapolis it was not unusual to run into Prince out on the town, body-guards in tow, or to see him hop into or emerge from a cool sports car with a beautiful woman, orThe Purple Skyline of Downtown Minneapolis even attend impromptu concerts at First Avenue, The Fine Line, Glam Slam (later called “The Quest” nightclub.) He rarely spoke to anyone. Minnesotans respected his privacy and for the most part, knew not to approach him, unless, of course, we were feeling mischievous, like one night when I was with my cousin, Stacey, who had recently moved to Minneapolis from Omaha Nebraska. After a few cocktails I triple-dog-double-dared her to try to talk to him (knowing what would happen). Of course, she did, and he didn’t speak. Yes, I set her up and to this day we still laugh about it. But I digress.

Between takes and wardrobe changes, movie directors passed out free packs of cigarettes, telling everyone to smoke up the bar. We were front and center stage as he sang Let’s Get Crazy, Baby I’m a Star, I Would Die 4 U, Little Red Corvette, The Beautiful Ones, etc. Looking back now, it is so great to have such an intimate connection to that moment in history. Sometimes I hear the music and think; “wow, I was really, literally right there” it is kind of surreal. Feeling reflective, I went online today and watched those performances again and found myself in other crowd scene shots I hadn’t seen before. Technology sure has made it easier to find these kinds of things. Imagine trying to find information using fast-forward and rewind on VHS tapes. 😏

In 1984, Prince performed here on Christmas Eve and I went with my sisters, it was my youngest sister’s first concert ever. My grandpa had rented out a YMCA that night for a family celebration, so we headed there after the show. I remember hearing someone say; “What kind of person has a concert on Christmas Eve?” followed by a sarcastic; “What kind people attend a concert on Christmas Eve?” Prince was a die-hard, born and raised Minnesotan. Looking back, now, if I were to put myself in his shoes, of course it makes sense. This is and always has been his home, he wanted to celebrate with his people, who he loved – us.

We listened to Prince and The Time (Now called The Original 7ven) before it was “C-O-O-L” to listen to them. Was that because we were all from Minneapolis? Most likely – it was the Minneapolis sound, keeping us front and center. 

Prince was a brilliant, creative, compassionate talented artist and fellow community member who cared about humanity. He profoundly changed the landscape of music and it will never be the same because of him. I’m grateful for the memories the old songs bring; smiles. friendships, laughter, tears, flirting, after parties, connection, dancing and more.

Prince’s untimely death is a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves when we are ill and that in this world obsessed with the glorification of “busy-ness,” life is short. In the distraction, we forget to slow down and pay attention to this moment.

Today my prayer is that more of us figure out how to “be here now,” fully present for others in fellowship and as servant leaders. May we discover all that comes along with remembering to be mindful and grateful for how blessed we are.

Do you have any thoughts or memories related that you would like to share?

If so, please leave a comment below. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Appreciation as Fuel

Fire at Kidani VillageSo I was staring at my computer screen and had an epiphany. The only thing I was processing was a blank stare, and I knew I had to get out to clear my mind. This month Minnesota is on target to experience the warmest December in history and on this day, it was just 31 degrees. I knew feeling the fresh air on my face was just what I needed because I do my best critical thinking when I am walking outside. I grabbed my walking shoes and was quickly out the door.

Feeling the crisp, cool wind on my face, set the tone for this stroll and got me thinking about gratitude. A simple thank you goes such a long way and can be a ritual that begins a chain reaction which may surprise you. Appreciation is fuel that warms people, inspires them to pay it forward and doesn’t take much extra effort.

Research has shown that expressing thankfulness increases confidence, connection and feelings of competency. Engagement matters and when we find little ways to express appreciation it sends the message  “I see you” and it promotes team work and improves the sense of community. I like to think of gratitude as a multiplier because it increases emotional well-being and improves productivity. That, in turn, leads to innovation and creativity, which is when we do our best work.

I have a board on Pinterest called “Appreciation, which has some thoughtful ideas for expressing gratitude.

Take a look and let me know what you think. I want to hear from you. How do you show appreciation?

Please share your response below and thank upi for visiting my blog!

Refracting Light Life | Kakie’s Corner

These pictures are from one of our first “free” nights in South East Asia, for the Global Business Systems Executive MBA Global Studies Course, Singaporecourse in the Executive MBA program. This evening four of us opted for dinner on the rooftop in Little India. I heard a calming sound of flapping water, came around the corner and this beautiful scenery, was what I encountered.

This week’s photo challenge asks that we show what “refraction” means to us. Refraction occurs when a ray of light is indirectly deflected by a wave of energy that passes from one medium to another, which causes the illumination to bend and become distorted. For example: water to light, air to glass etc.

I interpret “Refraction” as a metaphor for life. Read more of this post

Quantum Creativity and the Power of Intention

The window of intention

I’ve been thinking about intention lately. How often do we find ourselves slipping into “automatic thinking” ? What does our window of aspiration look like and how do we frame it?

Doing vs. Being | Acting vs. Reacting | Ideal vs. Real |

Intention leads to quantum creativity because for many people, creativity restores order. Some of the most important things that we do in life come from our creativity, which invokes possibilities of new beginnings.

The human condition causes individuals to make flawed assumptions that people do not change. But those of us have done deep self-exploration, know that we get to make a choice to be even better today than the day before.

I am not who I was five or ten years ago because of my curiosity and creativity. They have shown me the excitement to learn and grow that exists around each corner. The good news is that this world is full of random variables that can help us reach and exceed our potential every day, and we have the privilege of being able to share that with others.

Intention – Creativity – Restoration

Thanks for visiting my blog, feel free to leave a comment! Below are some quotes about intention, enjoy!_

Read more of this post

Out in the Cold, But No Thin Ice Here – Twinkle Lights

Out in the cold, but not on thin ice - Twinkle Lights

 

I took this picture in Rice Park at the 2014 St. Paul Winter Carnival on January 31st and the temperature was well below zero. There was a live band outside that evening complete with an ice bar and ice sculptures. We didn’t stay long, but we did get some great pictures.

The lights are so beautiful and remind me of a quote by Brené Brown from her book called “The Gifts of Imperfection.” A while back I posted one of her TED Talks videos that went viral about the power of vulnerability. In the book; The Gifts of Imperfection; Brené writes;

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy. Read more of this post

A Random Act of Kindness for Wordless Wednesday

When was the last time someone reached out to you and performed a random act of kindness? I was pleasantly surprised when a complete stranger recently did something thoughtful for me just when I needed it most. As a result of her good-hearted deed, I plan to honor her by paying it forward.

WholeHeartedThankYou

As thought leaders, we sometimes forget the view, taking a moment to acknowledge the people around us via random acts of kindness can go a long way. We get so caught up in our calendars, goals and tasks and only see the road ahead. But when we slow down a little to enjoy, pleasant surprises seem to come out of the woodwork.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, this past Monday, has been deemed a day to encourage making a difference in communities. As I wrote in a previous post called: Servant Leadership: Facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. King was a strong proponent of servant leadership, so whether or not you took action this week, I would like to propose a challenge.

What can you do to make a difference for someone this week? Please make the effort, then come back here and share your story below. I’d like to hear what you did, the response you got and how it made you feel. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tradition, Legacy and New Beginnings

These ornaments are hanging on my tree right next to one another and they both have significance. The one on the left Ornamentswas painted in November by my son as a way to create a memory, celebrate new beginnings, life and family. He did a beautiful job.

The ornament on the right was painted by my grandmother, Dode Jandric, in 1992. It was a tradition she created that has left a great legacy. For a number of years she painted and fired one for each of her 22 grandchildren and countless great-grandchildren. On the back of this ornament she hand painted a biblical quote from Isaiah 66:12 that reads:

Now towards her I will send flowing peace like a river” and on the bottom; “Merry Christmas Kakie” along with her name and the year.

This year she passed away at the age of 92. Both my son and I had the honor of spending mothers day with her, knowing it was our last. It was meaningful time well spent and a blessing words can’t begin to describe.

Here is wishing you a wonderful holiday and a year filled with new beginnings. Family and good friends are priceless. Life is a gift, may yours be bursting with gratitude and love.

Thanks for visiting my blog, keep coming back and feel free to comment below.

Six Simple Ways to Multiply Gratitude

CraneLake3This morning to start the Thanksgiving holiday, I got together with about 100 friends and each of us took a minute to share a bit of gratitude. It’s a tradition that has been going for a little over 21 years. Sometimes when I think about all I have to be grateful for, it’s like a new beginning because somehow it manages to realign my perspective. It reminds me to focus on being positive and present for the people in my life.

To honor that, I wanted to share some suggestions to multiply gratitude in your life.

  1. Keep an ongoing gratitude list on a magnetic whiteboard on your refrigerator or at work
  2. Celebrate your journey and how far you have come, treat yourself, you deserve it!
  3. Pay it forward – performing random acts of kindness multiplies gratitude
  4. If you have a loved one who lives out-of-state, call them and give them a hug over the phone
  5. Buy the kit called “A year of Gratitude” for yourself
  6. Discover new ways to say thank you to others by looking at my “appreciation board” on Pinterest.

Do you have other suggestions? Please share them below!!

You’ve Got the Power | My Law Starts Here

If I could enact a single law, it might read something like this:

Holding Hand

Compassion over judgement – Act thoughtfully and approach every human being, including yourself, with loving kindness. Acknowledge your own bias and seek to understand before jumping to conclusions. Everyone has a story to tell and asking someone about theirs may be really insightful.

Love your family in word and action – Family consists of those we choose to involve in our lives. Life is short, time slips away quickly and living with regret is daunting. The good news is every person has the gift of this very moment, so step forward, make a choice and seize the day!

Let go of the anger  In every life situation, have the courage to take a step back and ask;

  • What is really going on here?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What is my role in this situation?
  • Who or what do I need to forgive?

Practice Gratitude each day and sprinkle in a little fun.

Be kind to yourself – Cliche I know, – treat others the way you want to be treated. But how about this:

Treat yourself  the way you want to be treated.

What would that look like and if you had the power to enact a single law, what would it be? Please comment below.

_______________________________

This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt: You have the power to enact a single law. What would it be? Photographers, artists, poets: show us RULES.

The Road….

Unconditional Love

There are people who will say Valentines Day is a novelty, but I think it’s an opportunity to reflect, create a memory or perform a random act of kindness, because sometimes even the smallest gesture can go a long way.

My mom never forgets a Valentines Day. Last night she came over with the tulips you see in the background of the picture, made dinner and then did some religion homework with my son.

She gave me the red heart ornament in the picture years ago on a February 14th. It says “Kakie” and on the back Love, Mom.  Time has worn the ink from changing the oil in the decanter.

The faded letters on the ornament and the flowers are both signals for me. One, a gentle reminder about being present, new life, spring and what lies ahead. The other is to pause, step back, appreciate those around me and celebrate the journey. We didn’t get here alone and couldn’t have accomplished all that has been without others. Look how far we’ve come. For many of us it can seem quite remarkable.

Life puts gifts at our feet which we don’t recognize at first. Sometimes we stumble over them or we get in our own way. It’s okay because we are all flawed and I think there is beauty in that. Somehow we always manage to get back up, brush ourselves off and move ahead.

We are exactly where we are meant to be at any given moment and we have all of the tools we need. Today, give yourself permission to slow down, take a deep breath, find gratitude and share it with someone.

I would love to hear stories about small gestures that meant a great deal to you  Share them below and thanks for stopping by. Happy Valentines Day.

Honor, Dignity and Acknowledging the Unseen… #Volunteerism

“Homeless” courtesy of creative commonsBy Audra Jones

When I was younger, I belonged to a club that did community service work. There was one specific event that was memorable for me. We spent three or four hours handing out warm dinner to the homeless out in the streets. After that we went to a homeless shelter not far from the Bay Bridge.

I was in high school and at the time and my sister was too young to participate. She wanted to help, so she made four or five dozen chocolate chip cookies for us to take and hand out to people. When we got to the homeless shelter we passed out the remaining meals we had left. Next, we began making sandwiches and pairing them with other goodies and shared them with the crowd. I had the tins with my sister’s cookies in them and began to walk around, offering them to anyone near me.

I approached this older gentleman and said “Sir, would you like a cookie?” He stopped and turned around, looked me right in the eyes and said, “What did you say? Did you call me sir?” And I told him I had, and his eyes watered a little bit and he said, “No one has ever called me sir. Never.” He was completely taken back.

It struck me to my core.

I explained I had been raised that regardless of anything, color, creed, social status, everyone deserved respect It saddened me to think that just because he was homeless, no one afforded him the honor to which every human being should be entitled. It broke my heart, and I couldn’t help but cry. I just didn’t understand why no one ever called him sir? Just because he didn’t have money or a place to live…did that really give anyone any right to be disrespectful to him? I had never thought that anyone was below me because I wasn’t raised that way. Every single person deserves to be treated with dignity and I never realized how ignorant some people can be. Years later, I still carry that memory and the lessons it taught me. Sometimes, what we take for granted as simple gestures can really make a difference in someone’s life.

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A note from Kakie:  I often say when we give, we get. Everyone deserves to be treated with honor and dignity.  Everyone deserves compassion. At the core, we all have the need to be acknowledged. Whether it is through our words or being of service to others, there is so much power when we look another human being in the eye and say; “You Matter.”

Please, share information about a time you have experienced something similar or witnessed a person who made a difference. How have you seen the action of others impact an individual, a community, the world? If you feel moved by this story, pass it along. Every good deed counts. I am grateful you are here and look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for visiting.

Four Simple Ways to Be More Grateful

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.  – Melody Beattie

 Want to know benefits to living thankfully?

A Psychology Today article called; “The Benefits of Being Thankful,” explains focusing on gratitude promotes well-being, motivating pro-social  and moral behavior.

Psychologists asked a group of people to spend just a few minutes a day for 13 days in a row thinking about and listing the things for which they were thankful. Compared to other control participants, these gratitude-focused folks experienced:

  •         Higher optimism
  •         Increased positive mood
  •         Greater feelings of belonging
  •         Less physical illness
  •         Lower levels of negativity
  •         Higher likelihood to be of service to others in need
  •         More likely to exercise (Suggesting gratitude promotes healthy living.)
  •         Improved and better quality sleep
The list above doesn’t even cover how gratefulness improves relationships,  enriches the emotional climate of family life, makes us more valued within the workplace and lays the foundation for a life well lived. Isn’t that exciting? Are you looking for ways to be more grateful? Below are a few things to take into consideration.

Day 14: Poetry, Letter to a Younger Self – Maya Angelou’s Birthday

21 days to happiness: My story and 3 things I am thankful for:

Art. Not sure when or how I came to appreciate it, but I do know I have always had a fascination for learning from every experience life has brought my way. I love expressing creativity through the craft of writing and was in 8th grade the first time I wrote a poem that was published by my English teacher. Just a few years later, another poem, published in our high school year book and I remember the feeling of accomplishment. Now, years later I am writing on my blog and am a grateful and accomplished award winning author. It was a lot of work and learning along the way. But I didn’t get there by myself. I could not have gone through the journey without the gifts, talents and passion of those who worked with us.

Today was Maya Angelou’s birthday, she has aged gracefully and I hope I will be able to do the same as the years pass. She is beautiful and in rare poetic form, she writes a letter to her 15 year old self.

If you were doing the same, what would your words look like? Please share below.

Three things I am grateful for today:

  1. The people I stay in touch with that I have worked with over the years
  2. My gift, the craft of writing and that I am perfectly a human being
  3. Miracles. because I am a living witness they do happen every day

More about Kakie Fitzsimmons

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