Don’t Drag Your Feet

children, learn to walkThe toddler looked to be about two years old. She had cute little blonde pigtails and wore a pink backpack with huge butterfly wings that fluttered as she moved. After examining leaves and twigs beside the pathway, she stood, took a couple of steps and fell flat on the ground.

After a few moments, this little one was back on her feet. There were no tears. Her expression told me falling was a frequent occurrence. Her mom looked at me and said, “That’s about the twenty-seventh time she’s fallen this morning.”

We had a brief conversation before I continued on my way. While still within earshot I heard, “Look at the way the lady lifts her feet when she walks. That’s what you need to do so you don’t stumble and fall so much.”

Since I was being used as an example, I made sure not to drag my feet!

When I am unhappy, uncertain or lack confidence, I tend to move in a way that holds me back. Both physically and mentally, I drag my feet. My steps forward become sluggish and unfocused. This can easily lead to me falling flat on my face. The more often I stumble and fall, the longer it takes to regain my momentum. 

Sometimes the very act of lifting my feet and walking with purpose can change my outlook. Confident body movements translate to more positive and decisive thoughts.

With this in mind, I hope to practice confident strides forward, and decrease mental dragging of the feet (procrastination).  Who knows what I may accomplish!

Look, Listen, Live

train warningDiamond shaped tiles have been installed on the sidewalk on each side of the railway track. The image of a train is at the top with the words Look, Listen, Live, in large black letters beneath.

The purpose of these is clear. Barriers come across the road to stop vehicles when a train is approaching. Pedestrians, however, have no barriers on the sidewalk. I’m not sure how anyone could not be aware of an oncoming train, but it must happen, hence the warnings.

As well as a warning, the words on these tiles have come to symbolize something else for me. They point the way to a more fulfilling life.

I take the time to look around me. The faces of loved ones bring great joy. Vibrant colours of a sunrise signal the start of a fresh new day. Each season brings its own unique beauty. An artist’s canvas and written words on a page stimulate imagination. I am grateful for the gift of sight and the richness it brings to my life.

I listen to the laughter of children at play. Words of love and encouragement spoken by family and friends warm my heart. The melody of favourite music reaches deep within, bringing forth a myriad of emotions. Birdsong, a rushing river and the satisfying crunch of dry leaves under my feet remind me of everchanging possibilities. I am grateful for the gift of hearing and how it enhances my life.

It is when I take the time to look and listen that I can truly appreciate my countless blessings and live life to its fullest.

Prepare for Takeoff

naature Canadian Geese have been absent from my local park for a few weeks. I thought they’d headed south for the winter but recently discovered that was not the case.

Several formations could be seen in the air near a large retention pond at the side of the highway. As I neared the pond, I was surprised to see the number of geese upon the water. There must have been hundreds of them.

It seemed that this was their practice area. I was fascinated to watch as small groups would take off, circle the area in ever widening loops, change leaders in their formation and land again. Honks of what I took to be encouragement and support, came from those on the water. It was as if they were cheering each other on.

Once again, the geese were showing me the importance of community. They were preparing to take off on an important journey and time spent practicing together would help ensure a more successful trip.

What do you do when you’re preparing for a challenging new part of your life’s journey? Do you stress and attempt to figure it out on your own? Or, do you seek advice and encouragement from those who understand and support your goal?

I have had others come alongside me when the route to my destination was unclear. Sometimes they had previously travelled this way and were willing to share what they had learned. Other times I was asked questions that helped me gain clarity. Always, their encouragement enabled me to reach new heights.

It is my desire to be part of a supportive community for others. I’m happy to encourage and pay forward what I have learned. My support in helping someone prepare for takeoff helps both of us to soar.

Dos Gravity Matter?

attitudeGravity was nothing I thought about until the aging process made it difficult to ignore. Each day it seemed like my body parts were being drawn closer to the core of the earth.

Droopy eyelids were the first to catch my attention. From there, other areas followed suit. Some were obvious and others could be forgotten until I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Why was the person who looked back at me so much older than I felt?

Hanging upside down in an effort to reverse the condition was not going to work. I had to face the fact that old age was no longer creeping but advancing at an alarming rate.

My outlook changed when our thirteen-year-old granddaughter asked me how old I was. She thought I was fifty! My daughter said, “Dad is forty-eight, do you think he and Gran look about the same age?”

Emily looked at me, then her dad, and then me again. She surprised me when she said, “I think they look about the same.” Her dad shrugged and I gave her a huge hug!

This exchange reminded me that I am far more critical of myself than others are. My flaws are evident when my attention is on them. This is true for more than appearance.

If I do ninety-nine things right and one wrong, what do you think I focus on? You know the answer because you’ve done it too, haven’t you?

I have to make a concentrated effort to stop examining my self-described defects and to look upon myself with the same love and grace others do.

Gravity is something I have no control over. The same is not true of my attitude. I think I’ll follow the advice of Robert Louis Stevenson who said, “Make the most of the best and the least of the worst.”

This Moment

nostalgia, say the wordsNostalgia struck during my morning walk. Golden leaves fell like raindrops as my steps became automatic and my mind turned to people who have played significant roles in my life.

A couple of weeks ago my sister and I were able to have an in-person visit, after not seeing each other for over two years. I wonder when I will see her again.

My one remaining brother lives half-way around the globe. The last time I saw him was when he returned three years ago for our older brother’s celebration of life. Distance makes it impossible to reach out and give him a hug.

Our younger brother left this world far too young. Memories dance through my mind. What I would give to once again hear the chatter and laughter of our family gatherings.

Someone I care for is grieving her son, whose life was snatched away in a tragic accident recently. My heart cries with sorrow for the hope of a future that will never be realized.

It is a fresh reminder that tomorrow is not promised. All we have for certain is this moment. Let’s make the most of it. Tell people you love them, let them know they are valued and hold them tight whenever you have the opportunity.

The words of a song play in the background of my mind as I conclude this post, “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”

Geese

natureI first published this story several years ago. It seemed fitting to share it again today.

As seasons change and the weather cools down, we see geese flying south for the winter. We hear their honking and see that familiar V formation in the sky.

I’m sure that most of us have heard the reasoning for this formation. Scientists have discovered that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. If a goose falls out of formation, it feels the drag and resistance of flying alone and quickly rejoins the formation.

Did you know that the reason the geese honk from behind is to encourage the others to keep up their speed? Also, when the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back and another takes its place as lead.

There are so many lessons for us here. First, people sharing a common direction can get where they’re going quicker and easier by traveling together. We should keep company with those heading in the same direction as us. Second, it makes sense to take turns doing the hard jobs and to remember to encourage those taking the lead.

Another thing about geese is when one gets sick or injured and falls out of formation, two others follow it down for protection and help. They stay together until it is either able to fly, or dead, and then they launch out again. They either fly on their own or join with another formation until they catch up to their group.

The final lesson here is to stand by each other. We should protect and care for each other. It is also good to make new friends who seem to be going in our direction.

If we follow the same guidelines as these geese, how much better would our lives be?

Your Words Matter

children, wisdomThe words came from behind me. I heard, “That’s good,” then, “Magnificent.” After a slight pause came, “Really nice.”

I only had to wait a few moments to see who was the recipient of this encouragement. A young boy rode past me on his bicycle. He wobbled a little. A slightly older brother followed closely and continued his support and encouragement as they carried on down the path.

The words of one gave confidence to his brother to keep going. These boys were a perfect example of the impact our words can have on each other.

Later, on another area of pathway, I came across words written in coloured chalk. They said, “You are loved.” The child who wrote these words brightened my day and probably that of many others as well.

Our words have the power to wound, discourage and anger. They can also bring healing, support, and a sense of well-being. In these troubled and uncertain times, I have observed too many cases of words used as weapons.

I am reminded of a passage in the Bible where it says, “they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” In today’s language, this would say, beat their swords into shovels and their spears into hoes.

To me, this shows our weapons can be modified into tools used to cultivate a better life. Instead of attacking each other, we can work together for the common good.

Like it or not, my words will have an impact on others. Do I want them to cause hurt and dissention or do I want them to offer encouragement so we can work together to create a better future? The decision is up to each of us. I’ve made my choice, how about you?

 

Don’t Lose Focus

paddle boardingIn August I was given the opportunity to try a new activity. Since I have a healthy respect, (bordering on fear), of water, the idea of paddle boarding brought mixed emotions.

My friend assured me the water was not deep and I’d be fine. She patiently showed me how to get on the board and how to go from sitting to standing. I was nervous but determined. To say I was excited when I managed to stand and maintain my balance would be an understatement.

After a few minutes I was feeling quite confident with my newfound skill. An insect landed on my arm and I used the other arm to swat it away. This caused me to not only lose focus, but my balance as well. My worst fear was realized as I plunged under the water.

Fortunately, the water was not deep and I was able to get on my feet with no difficulty. My friend told me I’d just done the most graceful backwards swan drive she’d ever seen! I may not have been graceful getting on the board but it sounded like I made up for it when falling off!

When I considered what happened, I realized my balance was lost because I got distracted and stopped focusing on what I was doing. The lack of focus was what caused my fall.

How often in life has that happened? More times than I care to admit! Distractions are all around me and if I give them my attention I’m bound to stumble and fall. Sometimes I can get back on my feet and other times I end up over my head. At the best, my goal is delayed. At worst, it has come to an untimely end.

My experience with paddle boarding reinforced an important life lesson. If I want to live a productive life I need to keep my focus on what is of importance.

Ready or Not

natureIt was a beautiful sunny morning when I paused to enjoy the reflection of trees on a smooth as glass pond. On the other side of the water, something caused me to stare in disbelief.

My eyes must be deceiving me, I thought. A closer look was needed. Unfortunately, my initial impression was confirmed. Although we were still in the first half of August, the leaves on a small tree had turned from green to a reddish orange.

I knew that summer would come to an end but wasn’t ready for it to happen yet. Shouldn’t we have another month before fall arrived?

Over the next week, the temperature dropped and so did the leaves from that particular tree. Its branches were now bare. Other trees seemed to have a few more yellow leaves each time I passed by.

I’m reminded of the game of Hide and Seek. When the chaser is finished counting and about to start seeking, he opens his eyes and says, “Ready or not, here I come!” This is true for more than the seasons or a childhood game.

While talking to a friend about something completely unrelated to weather, he said, “We knew it would come to an end one day. We just thought we could choose when and how it would happen.” Life is often like that!
change
I’ve lived long enough to know the world does not revolve around my timetable. I don’t have to like it but I do need to accept and make the best of it. Because, ready or not, change is often just around the corner.

People Watching

Observation
Original photo from Unsplash

Earlier in the morning the lakefront was calm and quiet. A couple of hours later the area was crowded with people, blankets, towels, coolers and the items needed for a day at the beach.

We set up our camp chairs on a grassy slope facing the water. Despite the fact I had a book with me, most of my time was spent people watching.

Laughter echoed in the air as children frolicked in the water. Several were on brightly coloured flotation devices. I watched siblings splash each other and parents introduce toddlers to the water.

A couple carried paddle boards down to the water. They climbed on, quickly found their balance, stood and paddled off. I watched their fluid strokes with admiration.

A little farther out a bright yellow kayak made its way close to the roped off beach area. On the other side of the rope a few speed boats towed water skiers.


The variety of activity was perfect for people watching.

A young boy, about three years old, ran back and forth on the pathway. A butterfly had captured his attention and he followed its flight. When it landed on a nearby patch of grass the boy slowly approached and leaned in for what I assumed was a closer look. I smiled at his curiosity and a moment later was shocked to see him stomp down and grind it into the ground. Not what I expected!

In a public setting, it is easy to watch people. On the lakefront I saw fun and laughter, some sweet loving moments and a few things I wish I hadn’t observed.

Most of us carry on with our lives unaware anyone is watching.

The fact is, I never know for sure if someone has witnessed my actions. I may be the object of someone else’s people watching. If so, what kind of impression am I leaving?