The Poppy Story

I have written blogs in the past year about how memories and keepsakes can symbolize and tell the story of your life.  Today is Memorial Day and it made me think about what are the symbols that tell the story of our country’s life. In my blog Memorial Day 2019 I stated, “Today is a day to remember the fallen, and the sacrifice made for our country.  This is a day to honor that sacrifice by living a meaningful life.”  The Library of Congress seemed like the place to find out about what has been written about our symbols.  I found a perfect source titled “Symbols of the United States”.  

Every nation has symbols—specific objects that represent beliefs, values, traditions, or other intangible ideas that make that country unique. While these symbols may change over time, they can help to bind a nation together by reminding its people of their nation’s history and most important principles. Six U.S. symbols are depicted in this primary source set: the Liberty Bell, the U.S. flag, the bald eagle, the national anthem, Uncle Sam, and the Statue of Liberty. 

These six symbols represent the broad view of American history. The symbol that identifies, describes, and commemorates Memorial Day is the poppy. In 1920 the American Legion began distributing poppies to memorialize soldiers who fought and died in World War I. I have often donated to the American Legion in exchange for a poppy.  I proudly hung the poppy from my rearview mirror in my car or attached it to my bulletin board at work.  I only know the basic story about the poppy and the symbolism. I wanted to find I more.

The Poppy Story That I Know

The poppy is a hardy plant and one of the few plants that would grow and flourish on the desolate battlefields after the war.  The red poppy would come to symbolize the wartime bloodshed.  The flower became an inspiration for McCrae’s 1915 poem, in Flanders Field.

The theme of the poem:

The living must continue to live for those killed to ensure the soldiers have not died in vain.

Read more: Inspiration for the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae

There is more to the Poppy story…The Poppy Lady

The origin of the red poppy as a modern-day symbol of Memorial Day was the idea of an American woman, Moina Michael. 

Read more:
Moina Belle Michael and the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy

In New York in November 1918 an American woman called Moina Michael came across the poem by John McCrae. She was so moved that she made a personal pledge to “keep the faith”. She felt compelled to make a note of this pledge and hastily scribbled down a response entitled “We Shall Keep the Faith” on the back of a used envelope. From that day she vowed to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance. Source: Unknown

From Amy Pak – Home School in the Woods (facebook post)

The importance of knowing our history is that it provides us a window into the past.  Understanding the past allows us to appreciate the present.  Memorial Day is associated with the beginning of summer, picnics, etc.  I hope you take a few moments today to honor the past and appreciate the how the sacrifice has enhanced your present.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget
that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words,
but to live by them.
John F. Kennedy

Well-Being: Self-Exploration Pt. 2

During the first two weeks of The Science of Well-Being I completed assessments to establish a “happiness baseline” measurement.  At the end of the course I will revisit these assessments as a post-test measure.  I learned that gratitude can be even more powerful by savoring life events.  In Part 1 of my 3-part self-exploration series I shared Santos comments about savoring.

Santos discusses how gratitude can enhance and expand well-being by taking time to savor and think about (realize) why you are thankful. Savoring is finding the beauty of the moment and being grateful. Savoring is the “simple act of stepping out of your experience, to review it, and really appreciate it while it’s happening”.  

Interacting with others, kindness, taking time for self, exploring mindfulness, and thankfulness were the key concepts of weeks 3-5.  Below is a summary of the concepts.

Below I share my thoughts and actions related each of the concepts above.

Supporting Research…for those who would like to read more:

Social Connections:   Diener & Seligman (2002) Very Happy People

Random Acts of Kindness: Sreenivasan & Weinberger (2017) Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-Being

Exercise:  Britt (2019)  Can Exercise Make You Happy? Or Does Happiness Help You Exercise?  

Sleep: Booker (2013)  Good Night’s Sleep Linked to Happiness

Meditation: Shapiro & Shapiro (2014) Mindfulness Meditation is the Direct Way to Happiness

Gratitude: Stoerkel (2020)  The Science and Research on Gratitude and Happiness

I am growing and learning and happy.
Bringing together the past, present, and thinking about the future.

Day One…Year Two!

I started writing my blog in May 2019.  
Today is blog #53…the first blog of my second year!!  
Happy Birthday Bloom to Blossoms!! 

I stated in my first blog that I hope to create a community to share ideas and experiences about ways to live a healthy, evolving, and enriching life. Intellectual stimulation and community building continue to be two of my primary goals.  Reading, thinking, and writing about topics I care about moved me from being a passive consumer to an actively engaged consumer. Over the past year I feel like I progressed from questioning “am I a blogger” to believing “I am a blogger”.  

Sitting on the porch last week, I did some brainstorming with myself about my first year as a blogger and what I wanted to do next. Below are some key ideas and I am excited to share an additional aspect of Blooms to Blossoms that will begin on Friday.

  • Blogging is more time consuming than I had expected BUT it is time well spent.  Consistency in writing and publishing is important.
  • Finding a niche/brand/identity (my purpose) helps focus my writing.
  • Learning from trial and error is part of the process; trial and error is really a fundamental problem-solving process.  Trial and error is insightful learning.
  • Being “out there” (publicly sharing my writing) is a bit daunting and intimidating but fulfilling after publishing each blog.
  • Inspiration for topics come from everywhere.  Being open to influences from my surroundings and my day-to-day life is a creative process of writing.
  • Information overload happens so organization of ideas and materials continues to be important.
  • Reconnection with friends and making new friends is a benefit.  Making connections with others is the community building aspect I plan to continue developing.
  • Engagement in the blogging community provides support and resources.
  • Patience is a virtue 

The past 52 weeks topics of my blogs have been varied. Learning is a lifelong process integrating all aspects of the wellness (physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, etc).  

Feature images from Blooms to Blossoms Year One

On Friday I will launch Visual Blossoms.  The purpose of Visual Blossoms is to share my thoughts about the purpose of Blooms to Blossoms with readers through sketching.  The intent is not to repeat the blog in graphic form. Visual Blossoms will expand the purpose of Blooms to Blossoms…to tell the story in a distinct way.

Blogging provides me the opportunity to connect my personal and professional life and continue to learn something new every day.  I couldn’t have accomplished getting Blooms to Blossoms online without the encouragement and support of my family and friends.  I appreciate your input and feedback. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. As I continue to increase my readership I appreciate you sharing my blog with your family, friends, and colleagues.

In addition, when I met Conor (my web guy), and he told me, “I love solving problems and telling authentic stories” I knew he would be a key contributor to my success. Conor listens to my ideas and then creates a custom identity and design for me to accomplish my goals.

The past year I have learned A LOT.  I have filled an intellectual/creative gap missing in my life.  The blog journey is off to an excellent start.  I am looking forward to the upcoming year to see where it takes us. 

Stay Calm, Connected, & Active: Stay Positive

Don’t wait for things to get easier, simpler, better.  
Life will always be complicated.  
Learn to be happy right now.  
Otherwise, you’ll run out of time.  Unknown.

Last week in my blog I mentioned that I was “trying to keep my glass half full as I savor the moments of each day.”   As I continue on this path, I was thinking about how our perspective affects our attitude.  Jantz (2014) writes about 6 Ways to Become More Positive.  His main contention is “perspective is destiny”. With that in mind, I reviewed several articles in one of my “go to” sources for stories on diverse topics related to my blog purpose; Thrive Global.  I did a basic search on topics about staying positive.  I was interested to read how others, along with Jantz, discuss the impact of perspective on attitude.  

One article of particular interest, because of the Covid-19 life we have been living the last couple months, was Safarian (2020), 10 Things You Can Do to Stay Positive During COVID-19: Keeping Calm in the Time of Corona.

Below is a sketchnote outlining the key components of her article, followed by a summary in narrative form.  I want to share these ideas because COVID-19 or not, these elements are 10 things to help you stay positive in life.  As Jantz says, “perspective is destiny.”

Looking at life from a different perspective makes you realize that it’s not the deer that is crossing the road, rather it’s the road that is crossing the forest.  Muhammad Ali

The intent of positive thinking is not a pollyanna approach to life; bad things happen to all of us.  Having a positive attitude or finding the good in each day is an approach to enhance your overall wellness. There are physiological, psychological, and even physical benefits to positive thinking all contributing to living the healthiest life possible.  Consider Harry Truman’s quote as you reflect on the 10 factors introduced by Safarian. 

Be grateful, positive, slow down, relax, exercise, leverage your community, breathe, find humor, know when to walk away, and have faith in yourself and others.

 “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”