Monday, January 23, 2017

Our Great Country's Peaceful Transition of Power

This past week has been filled with many emotions for Americans.  Irregardless of the political viewpoints you hold, the inauguration of a new President has an impact on all of us.  Many were elated and excited; others were angry and saddened.  I choose, however, to celebrate what makes this country, the United States of America, so different from most other countries.  We have a system that provides for a peaceful transition of leaders.

I am hoping that, in the midst of the excitement, uncertainty, turmoil and/or angst many are feeling, we can all join together in our appreciation for this fundamental process that makes our country so great.

If you Google the definition for "coup", you find the following:
1a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.
"he was overthrown in an army coup"
  1. synonyms:seizure of power, coup d'├ętatputschoverthrowtakeoverdepositionMore
When you search for a list of coups, you find a long list of coups that occurred in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.  It saddens me to think of the lives lost, the economic uncertainty, and the fear of citizens when a change in power resulting from a coup occurs.  In my opinion, the fact that we have a legal way for our government to change hands peacefully between political parties and individuals with differing beliefs and ideas is amazing and deserves a moment of consideration and appreciation.

I am eternally grateful to the founders of this country for establishing a process for peaceful transition of power.  It is a reason for all of us to celebrate our great nation and to be proud that we are American citizens.  This is the joy I have found in the inauguration!

Have you found your joy today?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Presidential Medal of Freedom With Distinction

I was touched by the news of President Obama awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden.  I quickly joined many others in seeking out clips showing the occasion.  Vice President Biden was considerably overcome with emotion by this surprise award.  I was disappointed when I saw that the clips cut off at the point where Biden would make his remarks.  I wanted to hear how he responded; I started searching.

I finally found what I was looking for on the White House website.  I was surprised to see how long the video was until I realized that the previous clips were missing so much more than Biden's responding remarks.  These clips also failed to show the speech that President Obama made leading up to the revealing of the award.  The full video further explains why this was such a special award since it was "With Distinction"-given on very rare occasions.

The respect, admiration, and affection between these two men was very poignant.  To hear them speak of how their relationship with each other and their families has grown over their time in these roles was powerful.  I was often in tears listening to them speak.  If you haven't seen the full video of this event, I strongly encourage you to do so.  It gave me great joy to see their unbridled pride in their relationship and time traveling their journey together.

Have you found your joy today?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Feed the Birds

Bird prints below the feeders

With the winter snow, our bird feeders have been very active!  One of my favorite things to do is to watch the birds who come to our feeders on our deck.  I think many people don't realize how many birds winter here in Minnesota.  I was surprised at the variety of birds I have seen lately.

The StarTribune recently published an article on the 8 most common birds that are seen in Minnesota during the winter. I was happy to find that all of these birds are visiting our feeders!  It's interesting to watch the different birds as they fight for dominance over this food source.  We have 3 different varieties of woodpeckers visit; they clearly give way to the largest (the red-bellied woodpecker) when that bird arrives at the suet.  Some birds, like the house sparrows and juncos, arrive in flocks, sit in the nearby bush as a staging area, and rush the feeder as a group.  The blue jay is noisy, bossy, and holds court on the floor of the deck while fighting off squirrels who want their share of the seeds that have fallen from above.  Some birds have reached a detente and feed together at the feeders.  These include nuthatches, chickadees, and cardinals.  They are also content to feed when the small downy woodpecker arrives.  It's fascinating how these species have found a way to coexist and share a common food source.

When the winter vista is white and brown, these daily visitors provide constant entertainment and enjoyment..  I often find myself smiling as I watch their antics.  I will continue to do my part in feeding the birds and derive great pleasure in doing so.

Have you found your joy today?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Starbucks on a Snowy Day

One of my favorite things to do is to go to my local Starbucks.  It has long been my haven away from home.  I'm fortunate that we have a Starbucks close enough that I can walk or ride my bike there in good weather.  Today is not one of those days, however.

Now that the sub-zero temperatures are gone, we are getting more snow.  It's not a lot-just enough to be a nuisance.  Traffic is slow and congested.  If you're running errands, you have to clean off your windshield and windows so you can see-especially  the rear window so you can back your car out of the parking space.  The snow is wet enough that it builds up at the edges of your windshield as the wipers try to do their work of keeping your visibility clear.  All of this just goes with a winter in Minnesota.  So, after running errands and watching the snow accumulate, I decided to treat myself to Starbucks.

My visit to Starbucks today was a joy!  I ordered my non-fat latte and grabbed a table where I could watch the snow outside and still feel like I had some privacy.  I grabbed my kindle and spent a lot of my time reading.  Periodically,, since my Starbucks is a PokeStop, I would go to my Pokemon game, and spin to gather Pokeballs.  (Yes, I still play Pokemon from time to time.)  While I was there, my older son called me so I also had a chance to catch up with him. Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I also engaged in one of my favorite pastimes: people watching!  This was a great way to spend a snowy winter afternoon in Minnesota and made me very happy.

Have you found your joy today?

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Fire in the Fireplace on a Cold Winter Day

It has been so cold here this week.  It was 10 below zero this morning!  These are the days when I tend to stay at home and avoid going outside.  While the sunshine has helped a lot, I love to spend these days reading, playing games on my computer/phone, writing, and catching up on TV.  I grab a cup of coffee, my favorite blanket, and settle in to forget the cold weather.

It is on these days when the house is a bit chilly that I particularly enjoy a fire in the fireplace.  There is something so comforting about creating a cozy nest in front of the fire.  As well as providing comfort, it can create an environment for thinking deep thoughts, enjoying the wildlife nearby, or just reveling in your own company.

There are local coffee shops that have fireplaces.  These seem to attract customers young and old.  It's a common occurrence to see students hanging out there after school, seniors meeting over a cup of coffee, and couples heading there for a respite from the cold.  These coffee shops know the value of comfort and usually provide comfortable seating nearby.

I know that much of the country is facing cold, wintry weather this weekend.  This may be the weekend to enjoy your fireplace if you have one.  While the world is talking about the latest political news, you can escape from the negativity that so often surrounds you and relax in this simple pleasure.  You can count on us being in front of ours for part of the time.  There's a particular joy found in family congregating around the fireplace on a cold winter's night.

Have you found your joy today?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Sunshine in Winter

Minnesota was just ranked Number 1 as having the worst winters.  I'll admit that the winters can be challenging.  While we have an exceptional snow removal system and efficient, effective highway maintenance, it can sometimes be a challenge to go to work or run errands.

We certainly have winters of extremes: lots of snow, below zero temperatures, wind chill WAY below zero, and even freezing rain/ice.  Just in the last few days, we've had freezing rain which coated the trees and cars in ice, and now we have below zero temperatures.

It's times like this that I am very happy to be retired.  I don't have to experience a white-knuckle drive to work in the morning or freeze while waiting for my car to heat up.   I also don't have to go to work in the dark and return home in the dark-never seeing the light of day.  Contributing to that, we've also had a lot of gray, gloomy days which can really take a toll on your mood.  It's one of the reasons we are all so Vitamin D deprived and take supplements.

One of the things I love about retirement is taking the time to just be in the moment and look around me.  Today I am enjoying the sunshine pouring into our living room.  There's something special about sunshine in the winter.  It can definitely lift your mood, bring a smile to your face, and combat depression.  It also provides a lot of warmth as it streams through the windows even though it is below zero outside.  However, I particularly love the beauty of winter in the sunshine!

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love to take pictures!  One of my favorite things to do is to try to capture light.  Winter sunshine is so very beautiful.  It brightens the snow almost blindingly.  It reflects off of ice to create a different view of the world around us.  The white orb in the sky against the blue sky surrounded by white snow and gray trees provides color in an otherwise drab world.  I am very grateful for the sunshine and for the opportunity to bathe in its warmth and beauty.  This is my joy today!

Have you found your joy today?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year!

Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year!  

This past year seemed to be a tough one for many of us.  I saw many comments (in fact, I made some myself) that expressed relief that the year was finally ending.  As I started thinking about these feelings, it surprised me because I don't usually wish my life away.  Each and every day is precious to me.

I also have been thinking a lot about writing.  I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo where you write every day during November to create a novel.  I totally bombed!  I realized that, while I LOVE writing, I don't have a compelling need to write a novel.  However, I DO need to write.

Many of you know that I believe in positivity.  I strive every single day to find joy in my life.  Sound easy?  Well, some days it's really hard.  However, I have committed to finding joy every single day; so I work at it!  I have used Facebook to try to spread joy and positive messages-to lift people up or make them laugh.  It's been great!  However, I want to do more.

So I have decided to combine all of these things.  I am going to try writing this blog more.  I am setting a goal of posting 3 times a week.  While I am hopeful that 2017 will be a fantastic year, I believe that this may be a difficult year for our country irregardless of your personal politics.  However, I don't want to buy into the negativity.  I want to write about finding joy even in the midst of struggles, disappointments, and troubling times.

So, if you want to join me in my journey, check out my blog posts for 2017.  I have a strong belief in respecting everyone's right to their opinions.  We may not always agree, but I am always open to new and/or differing viewpoints, so feel free to comment. I will try to share my joy and will always ask you:

Have you found your joy today?