Keepsakes and Memories

I posted the following “story” on Blooms to Blossoms Facebook page this week.  

One of the many ways a quilt can have meaning is as a tie to friends and family. My friend Carol rescued a quilt from the materials bin at the church and has completed the work of the initial quilter.  During the time, Carol was working on the quilt a neighbor provided more insight into the quality of the work and materials used. After telling me the story of the quilt, I stopped by Carol’s house to see the project AND loved it!!!  Not only is the quilt a perfect fit for use in my home but the story and her “rescue and recovery” work is meaningful to me.  Since our move to the neighborhood Carol has been a great friend.

“Good friends are like quilts. They age with you, yet never lose their warmth.”

I am reading the Elm Creek Quilt series by Jennifer Chiaverini and the timing of Carol’s find and work is a nice coincidence.  A quilt is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere. 

Carol’s quilt

I started looking around my office, my home and even my yard and my car…interesting to consider the stories behind the keepsakes and mementos that surround my life. Tangible reminders can be inspirational and a guide. Revisiting the meaning of items in my office gave me the idea for my blog. I have a replica of a 1948 F1 Green Ford pick-up in my office. The significance is my Dad started his first business using that truck. He believes “we are all made up of potentials which can grow to be actuals” so that’s what I believe!! I have a cup of buckeyes (picked by me from under a buckeye tree outside of the Rec. Center at OSU on graduation day) with my doctoral degree graduation tassel and butterflies on a shelf in my office. My education provides opportunities for me to spread my wings to move from potential to actual. Putting these two “Elaine artifacts” together gave me the idea of Blooms to Blossoms.

The keepsakes of your life are objects that mean something to you; symbolizing a snapshot of your life that has personal meaning to you.  Keepsakes are forever and a reminder of a person, experience, event. Sarah Hosken (2014), a cognitive-behavioral therapist and counselling psychologist, encourages people to keep memento boxes. She explains that the overall process of keeping mementos stimulates people to put time aside to reflect upon what is precious to them at various stages of life’s journey. Gathering mementoes of places, people, and situations past, present, and future, inspires people to savor the meaning of their positive life experiences and to enhance their overall sense of wellbeing.  

Ways to preserve memories:

A memory book or box is a place to keep sentimental items, but not to display or to have on hand daily.  The tangible reminders of life that affirming interaction, encourage reflection, and celebrate events. Examples of items to include are: a book that inspires you, a bracelet, a letter from a friend, pictures, charms, knickknacks, quote from a card.  Keepsakes remind and comfort. There are so many items I’ve kept that I now look at and smile back to myself. Having something tangible is just one extra thing that helps me re-live the memories. 

Bookmark from Dad in 2015 that has also at times been a cat toy!!!

Reminiscing activity group comes from the therapeutic recreation field is another way to preserve memories. It is a social participation activity that stimulates and shares memories with others. Sharing with others the stories of the mementos are as important as preserving the mementos themselves. 

Sharing stories with others (verbally or written) can entertain and enhance relationships. DearPhotograph is an interesting way to share photos, tell a story, and preserve family history.

The Story of Campbell (told to me by my mom)

We were at a small, scenic park that we often like to drive through from time to time.  One morning on the way through the park, something caught my eye.  We stopped to take a better look and there next to a trash can was a tiny, little kitten with its head stuck in a Campbell soup can. The poor little kitten could not get its head out of the can…goodness only knows how long it had been there. As we tried to remove its head from the can without hurting the kitty, it would occasionally mew.  Finally, its head came loose and with a startled look it broke loose and ran into the woods.  We often reminisce about the kitten, we named Campbell, that was almost ours. 

The picture I added to depict the story
(this is not Campbell)

A study from the Association for Psychological Science (2014) reported that nostalgia is now emerging as a fundamental human strength.  Studies by Hallford and Mellor (2015), Melendez Moral & Fortuna Terrero, Galan, and Rodrigues (2014) support the idea of enhanced self esteem, life satisfaction, socialization and overall wellbeing through reflection and sharing of key life events. 

What mementos tell your life story? 

Feel free to share a story with my readers.  

Recreation & Leisure: Rhythm of Life

The real value of recreation and leisure is
its effect on life itself.
Look at the people around you.  
How many of them look like they enjoy life?  
How many times have you heard reference to
life as a rat race? 
Life is more than existing, and 
an active lifestyle can give you that extra ingredient.

Six points stand out when considering the value of participation in recreation and leisure activities.

**Sociability – making and keeping friends
**Transmission of and adherence to proper values
**Deemphasize spectating
**Supplement stimulation of physical fitness; carries over to emotional well-being
**Self-identify enhancement

Most participants determine the purpose of their engagement through their own attitudes and values. Some play for fun, some play for serious competitive reasons.  Daily activity programs are more and more a way of life.  Leisure-time pursuits not only enrich present life but adds enjoyment to the quality of life in the future.  Participation should emphasize the recreational aspect of experience.  While certain sports requiring tedious training are beneficial to the participants, equal attention to activities that can be enjoy spontaneously is important.  Fun should not be organized out of leisure activity. Participation should be enjoyable.

Participation in leisure activities afford an opportunity for individuals to achieve purposeful living. The experience allows a discovery of personal goals and builds relationship with other people and the environment.  The participant is becoming more self aware.

One of the most important values of recreation and leisure endeavors is the opportunity for individuals to respond to success and failure experiences.  A measure of success can be encouraging while failure can be motivating. The mental adjustments to success and failure is excellent training for similar experiences in other phases of life.  Success and failure elements exist whether in competition with others or as one tries to improve personal skills.  It is these elements that are of immense value to an individual’s development.

Where the physical begins and intellectual ends is difficult, if not impossible to determine. Advocates of “total development” suggest that fitness extends beyond the muscle and we must view a person as a whole.

Physical activity develops strength and endurance and the neuromuscular coordination that contribute to agility and confidence in the control of one’s movements. Participation develops the ability to handle the body gracefully and efficiently.  The qualities of strength, endurance, and agility are directly useful in meeting the stresses of everyday life.  Indirectly, they comprise a great asset for anyone through the inner confidence and self-assurance achieved. An active lifestyle is one of many ways through which we may reach the goal of total growth and development.

The learning ‘products’ of active engagement with others include qualities such as sportsmanship, appreciation of effort, and factors associated with adjustment and modification of reactions to others and their ideas. Experience in group activities broadens the individual viewpoint, enhances self-assurance when in the company of others, and teaches the meaning of loyalty and cooperation.

I believe the purpose of an active lifestyle contributes to physical, social, intellectual, and emotional well-being.  A goal of participation is to enhance the quality of life, feelings of self-worth, and satisfaction through leisure pursuits.  The purpose of participation is simply and fundamentally to achieve a better state of being.

Oh the Places You Will Go

In the mid-1800s Abraham Lincoln stated, “I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” My perspective of Lincoln’s quote is that undertaking self-improvement throughout life is the aim of enhancing knowledge, skills, and competences. Lifelong learning is a continuous development and improvement process aimed at personal fulfillment.  The result of this effort will be a life well lived.

Learning by doing and using prior knowledge in new situations are attributes of a lifelong learner.  These are attributes that would lead someone to being “wiser today that he was yesterday.” The concepts above could apply to the message of Dr. Seuss’ 1990 book Oh The Places You Will Go! 

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.

The main distinction in the above two examples is the influence of being with and learning from others can have on personal development and personal fulfillment.  Interpreters of Lincoln’s quote express that you “must decide to walk with wise people and learn from them.”  A lifelong learner is curious and open to the valuable lessons of others. A lifelong learner is also self-motivated and self-reliant. Rather than a passive role in life one is actively engaged. Including others in your experiences and independence not only enriches the growth opportunities but contributes to personal well-being. 

Ron Charles of the Washington Post, May 2019, discusses how Seuss’ book …”became a graduation-gift cliché”. He expressed the idea of a need to progress beyond moving through life in solitude.

Take a few minutes to skim the Washington Post article and review the Dr. Seuss video. Then consider the following comments.

Being self-sufficient, confident, ambitious, self-motivated, and achievement oriented, as in the Dr. Seuss book, combined with the ability to “walk with wise people and learn from them” will result in desired outcomes of lifelong learning.

**Enriched life
**Relationship building
**Engaged contributor to society
**Adds meaning to life
**Increases wisdom/mental stimulation
**Creates curiosity

Recognizing and understanding your personal learning style will guide choices of hobbies/activities. Understanding self contributes to the quality of the experience.

Learning Style
Visual (spatial)You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
Aural (auditory-musical)You prefer using sound and music
Verbal (linguistic)You prefer using words, both in speech and writing
Physical (kinesthetic)You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
Logical (mathematical)You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
Social (interpersonal)You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
Solitary (intrapersonal)You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Narushima, Liu, and Diestelkamp (2016) study on effect of lifelong learning and well-being and Park, Lee, and Dabelko-Schoeny (2016) study evaluating a lifelong learning programs found enhanced personal development and fulfillment through individual and group engagement.  Being autonomous and expanding social networks both offer knowledge and skill development.  Continuous participation in a pastime, hobby, or taking a subject matter course sustains psychological, social, and emotional wellness.  Whether the interest is creative, athletic, academic, something distinctly personal, or something social YOU make the choice. What matters is that it is something you find meaningful and enjoyable.

I read the Washington Post article a month or so ago.  I “googled” Oh The Places You Will Goto refresh my memory of the book.  I found that my view of Seuss’ work differed from Charles.  I realized that lifelong learning and personal development is an individual pursuit to find your own path.  Choices made to guide the path taken differ with each of us…”one size rarely fits all”.  

Find Your Own Path by Cory Miller
(partial excerpt)
 Be careful when you expect
or demand someone else do
it your way. 
And be careful attempting to do it someone else’s exact way. 
One size rarely fits all. 

Nature, Wildlife & Well-Being

Photo Source: Maria C Dawson: Stupefied “Connection”

Last week I found a squirrel with a broken back leg on our porch. I was able to (hopefully) save it by taking it to an emergency rescue location near our home. It made me a bit stressed and then a bit hopefully (emotional wellness roller coaster). Since this experience I have been thinking about nature, wildlife, and wellness. 

Personal well-being is a primary focus of Blooms to Blossoms.  One aspect of wellness that I have not discussed yet is environmental wellness.  Environmental wellness includes an awareness of surrounding environment and community and the ability to live in harmony.  Attention on individual well-being leads to a consideration of what is important and beneficial to our personal lives, but it must include what is beneficial to society.

In my May 20 blog, I shared my intent (purpose) to build a community to discuss the meaning of an integrated life. Together, our effort will result in the creation of a well-being legacy to live and to pass on to others. I concluded the blog by asking the question:

How can we live and share our personal well-being legacy?

Our personal well-being legacy has a broader scope reaching beyond ourselves to the larger community.  How do we care for ourselves, others, nature, and wildlife?

University of Minnesota Taking Charge of Your Health and Well-Being Blog series titled Nature and Us explores how nature can impact well-being.

The 4-part series includes:

How Does Nature Impact Our Well-being?
**Nature Heals…decreases stress/anxiety, increases pleasant feelings
**Nature Soothes…trees, plants, openness of outdoors mitigates pain
**Nature Restores…time in nature enhances vitality and mood
**Nature Connects…encourages support person to person and person to the larger world

Enhance Your Well-being in Nature
**Encourages “getting outside”…if nothing more than the breath fresh air and give your mind a break.

Bring Nature Indoors
**Shares ways to “bring small doses of nature into your home” to enhance well-being.

Nuture Nature
**Discusses the influence animals and pets can have on personal wellness.

Brittnei Miller also shares insights about nature and us in her August 2018 blog Why Should You Care (WSYC). She states, “I believe that positive self-care will generate additional positive feelings throughout our lives.  We generally feel more likely to take pride in the world around us (people and animals) when we are also taking care of ourselves.”

Bringing nature and wildlife together as an influencer for wellness, a 2017 WSYC blog post summarizes a 2011 research study published in Tourism Management by Ballantyne, Packer, and Sutherland titled Visitors’ Memories of Wildlife Tourism: Implications for the design of powerful interpretive experiences.

Four main categories emerged:

Much of our neighborhood and our house backs up to a conservation area. Over the past several years I’ve had many encounters with wildlife. Below are 3 collages of pictures I’ve saved.

Pieces of life weaves together in many ways. My blog on July 15, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul , shared my perspective of a lifetime of running. Thinking about the above comments from Miller’s and U of MN blogs another aspect of my running is more clear. I enjoy being outside. Interesting that when I think about places I’ve lived I can still envision my favorite running routes. Most of my runs were alone and with my surroundings.

The level of engagement I have had with the animals visiting my yard is varied and touch on all aspects summarized in the 2011 Memories of Wildlife study.

**I was able to “pet” the calves before Farmer John herded them back home.
**Catching lizards and frogs in the house is a ‘game’ my cats enjoy.
**Being able to watch the bird we rescued fly off into a sanctuary area was fulfilling.
**Providing a nesting blanket and watching the squirrel ‘tuck’ himself in for the ride to the animal rescue location was a bit emotional…felt sorry for the squirrel but happy I was helping.
**Observing ‘mom deer’ jump my fence and retrieve her baby was amazing.

Note about deer: beautiful animals and I enjoy seeing them, however, it would be nice if they would quit eating my landscaping. :- )

Raccoon looking in my office window, Cows broke free from neighboring farm & are heading toward our front yard, ducks and gator on our pond, and sand cranes visiting the front yard.
My recent squirrel rescue, a bird released after rehab (neighbor and I saved), mom deer retrieving baby from backyard after baby napped in my flowers, owl (same neighbor and I) released from a pool enclosure
Osprey maintains residence in wooded area behind our pond, catch and release (thanks to my cats) of a lizard (green anole), catch and release of a frog (thanks to my cat), herd of deer passing through, turtle heading for our pond

I hope you enjoy some of my experiences….I hope you enjoy the video below. Please share a story or two with our readers.

A healthy, diverse and vibrant natural world is essential to human health, happiness and wellbeing.