Every morning when I sit down for my devotional time, my little dog Lucy sits staring at me. When I look back at her, she waits for me to say, comes here. She stands on my lap with her two front paws on my shoulder and leans the top of her head against my chest right below my chin, and waits for me to scratch up and down her back. It is as if she is in heaven, and that’s what pleasure is all about.
There can also be a two-fold reaction to given pleasure. It also gives me pleasure to see how good I make Lucy feel.
The ultimate form of pleasure is making love. The touch of skin against skin is a pleasure in itself; whether you are making love or soothing a newborn baby, there is something magical about touch.
But I can find great pleasures throughout my day in the simple things, like sitting on my deck out back with my first cup of coffee in the morning or going for a walk with Lucy when the sun is coming up, and the rest of the world is still asleep. I love the peaceful quiet. Sometimes taking a bubble bath after working in my garden all day with soothing music and a glass of wine is simply divine. Yes, it’s true that “simple pleasure are life’s treasures.”
Reflection: Let pleasure come as it may. Let it show up throughout your day. “The true way to render ourselves happy is to love our work and find in it our pleasure.” ~Francoise Bertaut de Motteville
When I was growing up, there was a song by Jimmy Soul called If “You Wanna Be Happy” one of those catchy doo-wops that went like this:
If you want to be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you.
Of course that’s just one man’s point of view. The truth is, if you want to be happy, self-respect is crucial to making that happen in your life. It’s actually the foundation for how you see and treat yourself as well as how you let others treat you. What exactly is self-respect? The Oxford dictionary states that self-respect is “pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one behaves with honor and dignity.”
When you lack self-respect, other people tend to walk all over you. Your friendships are affected; you might overindulge in bad habits or even have desperate or casual sex. You might not care what you look like or how sloppy you live. People will use you like a puppet on a string. But the good news is that it doesn’t have to be like that, and you don’t have to marry someone ugly to find your own self-respect and happiness. It’s already there inside you, just waiting to be discovered.
I remember going through therapy years ago, and my therapist asked me what kinds of things I enjoyed. I couldn’t think of anything. So she walked me through it. Do you like a particular type of candle, bubble baths, sitting outside, gardening, being with friends, hobbies, etc.? My assignment was to find the things that gave me joy in my life and practice doing them, feel the emotions they stir in me. It was a practice in self-discovery, love, and respect for myself. I needed to stop putting myself down and blaming others for all the faults I created for myself.
Reflection: I think self-respect is a call to action that helps us discover who we are and if the person we see is who we want to be.
“You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hope rise to the stars.”
When we are enthusiastic about something, it shows in the things we do. I love making my book thongs; in case you don’t know what a book thong is, it’s a bookmarker that slides between the pages of your book. One of my customers says her books wear better jewelry than she does. My enthusiasm is the gas that drives me to keep going and doing what I enjoy. I’m not out to make a lot of money for what I do. It’s just fun that people want to buy the unique designs I come up with, and their positive, exciting reviews also fuel my enthusiasm.
I wish I had the same kind of enthusiasm for the things I have to do. Especially the things I need to do that have to do with my health. They say the best way to stay with an exercise program is to find something you enjoy doing. That will give you the enthusiasm to stick with it. Also, I read that to be enthusiastic about something, you have to put your all into it. Maybe that’s my problem. I don’t take it seriously enough. If I could find the same kind of enthusiasm I have for making book thongs and put it into eating healthier and working out, that would be great. I also read that deciding to have enthusiasm for what you want to accomplish is a choice. If you add a positive, optimistic attitude to the ingredients, it can turn your intentions into something fun. Many things can build upon our enthusiasm, like reading how to be better at what we want to be good at. Listening to music while I cook gets me excited and gets me moving too and being around positive and encouraging people helps as well. But most of all, believing in yourself.
Reflection: “Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until it becomes a habit.” Now that’s great advice! Thanks!~Gordon Parks
Being a person with intrigity doesn’t mean you’re perfect. It means being authentic.
Having the value of integrity means you live by your truth and your deepest values. You are honest about everything. You keep your word. You do the right thing in all circumstances. It takes courage to live in accordance with the value of integrity. It requires holding yourself accountable, accepting responsibility, and facing the consequences of your actions.
I could use a bit of practice with my own integrity lately. I wonder if being honest and upfront is always the right thing in all cases. Maybe it’s better to keep my mouth shut. But isn’t that suppressing my inner truth, what needs to come out, what needs to be said to get to the truth? Can a person with genuine integrity ever make a mistake? Maybe we have to once in a while so we can reevaluate our deepest values, asking ourselves if they’ve changed or grown deeper during the various stages of our life.?
Reflections: As I pray for guidance and answers to the questions I have, my deepest values come to mind, and I hear the encouraging words, “When in doubt, weigh your concerns against those values, and you’ll find your way back to your authentic truth and the kind of integrity you can be proud to live by.”
Being resourceful makes me feel alive and helps me realize what I’m capable of doing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when we were in quarantine, we had to learn how to do things differently to be resourceful in how we shopped for food, zoomed in a happy hour with friends, or saw our grandkids from a distance. It was essential to do just for the sake of sanity. While there was not much to like about this time in our lives, realizing how resourceful we could be made us feel good about ourselves.
I have a group of friends who have gotten together for St. Patrick’s Day dinner for many years. When it had to be canceled due to the pandemic, the one friend who always made the delicious corn beef and cabbage meal decided to make it anyway for us. She came up with the innovative idea of making it, plating it, and delivering it all by herself. Not only was she resourceful, but her heart was in every part of the process. She knew she was not only giving us a meal we looked forward to but also making a difficult time in all our lives a little bit more cheerful. And how can you not appreciate the value of resourcefulness that puts such a smile on the one giving as well?
Reflection: I realize we don’t have to wait for tough times to be resourceful. I can be resourceful in my garden by dividing my plants and moving them around. I can be resourceful by cooking off the bones of a rotisserie chicken to make soup for another meal. I can cook all the tomatoes from my garden to make a sauce for the winter months. It is endless what we can do when we use our resourcefulness, and the benefits far outweigh doing nothing at all.
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
When I think of the word, play, it reminds me of childhood. But playing is not just important for children; it’s vital at any age, just a little different from how we go about it. Have you ever tried to play hopscotch with your grandkids? My mind said you could do this; it’s easy. You just have to hop up and back on one foot. I could hardly make it to the third hop. I can dance, though, and swing on a swing set. I can play games and make fun things.
Did you know that play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, and stimulate creativity? And it can even help to keep us young and feeling energetic. Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex. * Check out the sites below for more valued insight on the benefits of adding play into your life.
Reflection: It’s never too late to change our mindsets and introduce new ways to bring fun into our lives. Now that I know play has so many health benefits to add to my life, I want to fit fun into everything I do. I can even turn chores into playful activities by turning up the music and dancing my way through them.
“Gardens are not made by singing, “Oh, how beautiful!” and sitting in the shade.”
In the same respect, I cannot lose weight by only reading how to do it…with a tasty cake in my hand.
I remember a friend who always struggled with his weight, finally finding a way to lose it and keeping it off. As I shared my struggle with him, he encouraged me that my time would come someday when it all falls together.
Maybe this thing called diligence is what I need. Diligence calls for us to have a persevering determination to perform a task with conscientiousness. But the first thing I need to understand is why it’s so important to me and who will benefit the most when my task is complete. Diligence offers me a way to succeed by keeping my consciousness focussed on my purpose, which is only to be healthy, not skinny.
Reflection: Now that I understand what diligence offers, I can see how it is a fundamental part of life needed to succeed, especially when I do it with purpose instead of the fleeting robotic attitude I’ve had.
Autumn is my favorite time of the year though I often wondered why when so many sad things happened to me then. But there was one perfect miracle that outstood all the painful stuff. It was fifty years ago that our firstborn came into our life: our love child, Ginny, who was there from the beginning as we worked hard to create the kind of life Tom and I dreamed we could have together.
There is something magical about autumn that takes us to a place of quiet contemplation. My senses awaken like the flowers at the end of summer, putting everything they have into their last performance. And as the flowers die back, the leaves on the trees become the colorful flowers of fall. I feel the coolness that comes, yet the sun still warms me like a cozy blanket. I smell the sweetness of the earth and taste the bounty of summer’s growth in the pumpkins, apples, and cinnamon spices.
Reflection: I value everything that autumn brings out in me. It reminds me to slow down enjoy the moment right now, and as I reflect on the fall of many past autumns, I see the bounty that our family has produced over the many years since that first miracle that changed our lives.
“Fairness is one of the most significant traits of wisdom, the fairer you are, the wiser you become.”
Writing about fairness is like opening a can of worms. Just look up the word, and you’ll see how it applies to many different subjects. What’s so hard about being fair? It seems like the easiest thing in the world, but like all good intentions, their meanings can be twisted around by the law, religion, politics, philosophy, and personal beliefs. Just look at the issue of wearing a mask right now. Is it fair to make people wear a mask? We shouldn’t have to do that. But then, is it fair to put our children’s health at risk because you don’t believe you need to wear a mask? I like the bottom line of A.J. Carson’s quote when he says, “Let us keep our mouths shut and pens dry until we know the facts.” That might sound a bit harsh, but it might not be such a bad idea to know the facts behind what we are taking a strong stand for or against. I mean, Who determines what is fair? Sometimes laws have to be put in place to protect one another, like wearing seatbelts. If you choose not to wear one and get stopped, you’ll be fined for not wearing it. It is about saving lives, if not ours, then the person who is next to you. But really, who decides what fairness is in our life? We do! Even with Christian beliefs and guidance, we each determine what is right and wrong for us based on many different criteria. Let’s face it fairness is a lot more than we think.
Reflection: I hear two voices inside me; one is the ego that always speaks first and likes to argue about the controversy. Then my inner voice speaks from the heart and soul that knows what is right, wrong, and fair. It not only makes sure that everyone is treated the same. But it encourages respect, responsibility, leadership, trust, and a life that matters, and when we do this, people respect and trust us more.
One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.
I thought that writing about the value of adventure was something I needed more in my life until I started researching its meaning. Of course, adventure is part of our journey, but you don’t have to climb Mount Everest to find adventure. You can find it right where you are; you can step outside and find adventure through gardening or even on a walk. You can even find adventure through your everyday task. It’s all in the way you choose to look at things; using our imaginations the way we did as kids can take us to faraway places. But still, it is fun to go places we have never been before and to see something new for the first time. I love going to other countries and getting a feel for how they live.
I remember when my husband and I moved to the country a few years after we were married. They were hard times financially for us but the best years of our life as we discovered what we were capable of doing. We had a big garden; I learned to can and froze the things we grew. And I became fascinated with the plants in our wooded area. What was editable, medicinal, and poisonous? Everything about that time was an adventure of discovery, and it was the lack of things that helped create the desire to know more about the things that were right in front of us that we would have otherwise taken for granted.
Reflection: We find the value of adventure through the things we discover. Life, no matter how old we get, is full of adventurous experiences. I can’t wait to see what adventure I’ll experience today.