Expressing a Reflective Shine

This week over at the Daily Post, Nancy Thanki begins by asking: “Have you ever walked past something bright that caught your eye, but when you turn around, there’s seemingly nothing there?” The theme for this Photo Challenge is Shine.” This past week, I was blessed to share another very special sunset with my family. Nancy’s post caused me to reflect, and realize that sometimes the shine we walk past without shine-in-moments-with-familynoticing, is present moments spent with those we love.

The phrase; “be where you are” is a simple reminder that one of the greatest treasures we can give others and ourselves, is the grace of being fully present together. “Be where you are;” is an expression worth repeating in writing, out loud, in prayer and meditation, to ourselves and others. We live in a culture of instant gratification. It is easy to get caught up in believing we have to be constantly moving, thinking or talking. Give yourself permission to be immersed in silence. Its okay to slow down, just roll with it and see where it takes you.

Nancy ends her post by asking “Has the sunshine or any other light source caused you to stop because it’s highlighting something you didn’t notice before?”  As I look back at this photo, I’m grateful for that moment, the people in my life and this moment.

How about you? What is your shine? Please leave a comment or thought below and thank you for visiting my blog.

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. At the same time,  we can not forget those who have gone before us and those still fighting for our freedom because they have laid much of the ground work for us.

I also will not forget that there is still more work that needs to be done.

Regardless, 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!

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-singFirst_Ave_Remembering_Prince_Minneapolisle-station playing his music and talking about him. Later, I return home and turned on the

TV 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 chatt
ed 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. Remembering Prince In Minneapolis - My Story

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, or
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, te
lling 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, The Purple Skyline of Downtown Minneapolisit 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!

Time: Stop, Travel, Escape, Feel, Release | Weekly Photo Challenge


|  How to stop time:  kiss.  |  How to travel in time:  read.  

|  How to escape time:  music.  |  How to feel time:  write.

| How to release time:  breathe.


 MATT HAIG; REASONS TO STAY ALIVE

 How to stop time: Kiss

AKiss

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How to travel in time: Read

A-book_edited-1

READ

 

 

 How to escape time: Music

piano2_edited-1

Dance

Piano2.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to feel time: Write

Write_edited-1

   How to release time: Breathe

Breathe copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post was inspired by Lignum Graco who asks us to show him time as part of The Weekly Photo Challenge over at The Daily Post. Please feel free to leave any comments below and 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!

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.

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!!

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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