BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 4

The intent of BtoB Matters is to share “tidbits to show the integration of wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development make a difference”.  This issue integrates ideas about how our openness to learn and our character traits contribute to a “good life”. Consider how aspects discussed this month can influence all components of wellness (intellectual, emotional, social, physical, spiritual, occupational, and environmental). 

Why Understanding These Four Types of Mistakes Can Help Us Learn

Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are part of life. Mistakes are a part of growing and changing. Mistakes can be a blessing in disguise.  Our mistakes and failures are a gift, a jewel, a signpost for our learning and growth as human beings.

If we are willing to view our mistakes as teachable moments and opportunities, we can enhance our lifelong learning and personal development.  Learning from our mistakes helps us create a greater awareness of who we really are and what we want out of life.

The willingness and openness to accept mistakes and learn from these influences the ability to achieve your personal and professional goals.  The process of moving through trial and error to trial and succeed help us discover:

**who we are,
**what we can do,
**our limits,
**our abilities.

Reflect upon what you have done to change your life experiences based on mistakes and the solutions you create to make a change. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are…valuable life lessons.

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. – Theodore Roosevelt

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. – Albert Einstein

Read the full article: Why Understanding These Four Types of Mistakes Can Help Us Learn
To learn the most from our mistakes we need to reflect on our errors and extract lessons from them.

Read more on the topic: Don’t Fear Failure: Nine Powerful Lessons We Can Learn From Our Mistakes
Our mistakes and failures are gifts, gems, guideposts in our learning and growth as people. So embrace failures, mistakes, screw ups and shortcomings because they not only make us uniquely who we are, but also teach us powerful lessons 

10 Positive Character Traits Parents Should Teach Kids

Character development is a lifelong journey.  Your personality, morals, and beliefs guide the path you take. We are all a consumer, learner, developing human, perceiver, inhabitant, and participant in life.  This diversity of experiences influences individual character development. Character traits define the essence of a person. 

Woodrow Wilson (in Princeton Alumni Weekly volume 65, no. 29 June 8, 1965) describes how life influences learning and development.

“The mind does not live by instruction. The real intellectual life of a body of undergraduates manifests itself not in the classroom, but in what they do and talk of and set before themselves as their favorite objects between classes and lectures. If you wish to create a college, and are wise, you will seek to create a life…my plea, then, is this: that we reorganize our colleges on the lines of the simple conception, that a college is not only a body of studies, but a mode of association…it must become a community of scholars and pupils”

In my October 2019 blog Student Development and Learning: It Takes a Village I share how we can all put the above quote into action. Learning, personal, and character development takes place through discovery.  In my July 2020 blog Forming Values Throughout Life, I share the idea that the values for student and professional leaders are similar.  

As you journey through life, formation of character traits evolves to allow you to live your life to the fullest.  To “teach” character development to your children and students you need to “walk the walk” and live them yourself.

Read the full article: 10 Positive Character Traits Parents Should Teach Kids
As a Parent, We Want What’s Best For Our Kids. But if We Truly Want Them to Succeed in Life, We’ll Invest in Helping Them Develop Key Character Traits That Will Guide Them For the Rest of Their Life.

Read more on the topic: Positive Character Traits are Lifelong Assets
Moral principles guide our thoughts, emotions, and actions. We can become happy and successful in life. Having positive character traits enhance our ability to form a pleasant personality. You should develop a personal value system. It will help you to determine your life goals. It makes your life meaningful and worth living.
NOTE:  Click on 14 Benefits of Positive Traits and How to Develop Positive Character Traits to see how character development is a lifelong endeavor. 

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

To be what we are and become what are capable to becoming, it the only end of life.
Robert Louis Stevenson

The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be.  Being alive is the meaning.
Joseph Campbell

The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The work of life is to develop it. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.
David Viscott

Take 15 minutes to watch the videos below.

In What is “the good life”? similarities between different cultures explains what “the good life” means for everyone.

In 5 Lessons To Live By Wayne Dyer outlines his 5 Principles of a good life:
1. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
2. There are no justified resentments
3. What you think is what you become
4. Be open to everything and attached to nothing
5. Don’t die with music still in you.

Read the full article: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness
What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

Read more on the topic: 10 Steps to Savoring the Good Things in Life
“It’s been presumed that when good things happen, people naturally feel joy for it,” says Fred Bryant, a social psychologist at Loyola University Chicago. His research, however, suggests that we don’t always respond to these “good things” in ways that maximize their positive effects on our lives.

The word wellbeing is about the search for what gives you meaning and happiness in life. It is about bringing happiness into your life from within and finding meaning and purpose in your everyday activities. Every human being strives to live a meaningful life.

To have a good life, you must first believe you are a person worthy of happiness. Character traits define values. Have the integrity to be true to yourself based on time-tested principles and self-reflection grounded in an openness to learn.  

What are the primary factors to define “your” good life?

More April Feature Articles include:

Can you solve Einstein’s Riddle?
Before he turned physics upside down, a young Albert Einstein showed off his genius by devising a complex riddle involving a stolen exotic fish and a long list of suspects. Dan Van der Vieren shows how to solve this riddle.

45 Life Lessons From A 90-Year-Old
Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift. Wisdom of elders is humbling. When they speak, we are like children again, cross legged, starry eyed, taking in & analyzing every word (ARC21).

BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 3

The two hemispheres of the brain function differently but there is integration of the left (verbal and analytical) and right (visual and intuitive) as they work together and complement each other (Weatherspoon, 2019).  The Feature Articles this month show ways the left and right brain work together to form habits and enhance personal development.  Below I share my thoughts on creating habits, writing by hand, and why people who doodle pay more attention.

Creating Healthy Habits That Last

Creating habits for an integrated life is one of the most important concepts to as you pursue your personal development journey. Personal development is about the integration of your beliefs, values, and principles.  Information, knowledge, people, places, and the experiences of life guide this integration.  What does it really mean to live an integrated life? It means you are using all these elements in your personal development journey.  Creating habits for an integrated life begins with choosing the right goals. These goals need to align with your core values.

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. – James A. Michener

Consider the idea that all habits are seen as patterns. You can learn new habits, put them into practice. Creating habits for an integrated life means finding the right patterns to adopt. 

Read the full article: Creating Healthy Habits That Last
Read more on the topic: How To Make Good Habits Stick: 11 Secrets From Research

Writing by Hand Boosts Brain Activity and Fine Motor Skills

Write or type??  Type or write??  Which is your preference?  

Handwriting is one of humanity’s most amazing and most influential inventions. It is rooted in artistic representation— images etched in sand, rocks, and walls that eventually morphed into letterforms. When we write by hand, we are still performing that ancient act of using our hands to recreate what’s in our minds (Bash, 2016 para. 3).

Writing by hand…
**releases your creativity because your brain is given time to explore ideas and to expand on connections between different images and thoughts.
**forces you to sort out what is important and what is not.
**helps the brain connect images and words in your memory.
**stimulates both sides of your brain.
**helps you to create flow. Flow is simply a mechanism in which ideas start blending and connecting.
**improves your fine motor skills. 

Writing by hand, strengthens the ability to concentrate, creates a clearer mind, and even boosts memory. The outcome of writing by hand is the ability to focus, understand, and learn (Carlyle, 2019; Gayomali, 2015; Neera, 2020).   

Writing by hand is more than a physical effort of putting pen to paper…it is a workout for your brain.

Read the full article: Writing by Hand Boosts Brain Activity and Fine Motor Skills
Read more on the topic: 16 Powerful Benefits of Writing by Hand

Why People Who Doodle Pay More Attention

Creative thinking is the ability to see things in a new way. It is about learning and acquiring knowledge. Creative thinking is about how you perceive a subject or a situation. What you are doing when you are doodling is immersing yourself into a new form of thinking; an experience that will open your mind and transform your learning. Doodling allows for exploration of personal creativity and provides a unique learning experience.  Developing a personal visual vocabulary help process information.

According to Sunni Brown, author of “The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently“, doodling is thought to stimulate areas of the brain which normally remain dormant when you’re just in linguistic mode. This can help you to analyze information differently. When you doodle “you are lighting up different networks in the brain” and “engaging different information.” This can lead to “ah-ha” moments when the solution to a problem you’ve been struggling with suddenly becomes evident (Fabrega, n.d.).

Read the full article: Why People Who Doodle Pay More Attention
Read more on the topic: Doodlers, unite!!


Habit formation is a system of patterns and a mechanism for accountability to reach your personal goals. Through a blending of logic and creativity, the right and left brain working together, patterns develop and habits will become second nature.


More March Featured Articles include:

16 Facial Expressions Most Common to Emotional Situations Worldwide
“This study reveals how remarkably similar people are in different corners of the world in how we express emotion in the face of the most meaningful contexts of our lives.” NOTE: For those who may be interested there is a link at the end of the article to read the full study.

Learn Better with 10 Ways to Be a Better Learner
Jeff Cobb (2012) published 10 Ways to Be a Better Learner.  This book is brief, action-oriented guide, grounded in research, to help you become a better learner.  Here are links to additional resources for each chapter. 

BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 2

In my blog Oh the Places You Will Go I wrote: 

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.

The Feature Articles this month shows that integration of life and self-improvement can come from a variety of experiences.  Below I share my thoughts on benefits of small talk, power of introverts, and how making art contributes to well-being.

The Big Benefits of Small Talk

Small talk or chit chat is often a way to start a conversation. Casual conversations can sometimes lead us to moments of real connection. Small talk can also be a gift that we give each other. Even conversations that appear inconsequential can be profound (Halton, 2020).

Finding common interests is the core of tapping into your ability to carry on casual conversations. The ability to start small talk through common interest is the anchor to relationship building. You build rapport, and it is where you also build trust. Moving from topic to topic without getting bogged down with lengthy details guides small talk toward a launching pad toward engaging interactions with others.  

In addition, listening is one of the most important skills you need when trying to master small talk. Through thoughtful and attentive listening you will discover commonalities which builds rapport and shows respect for the person you are talking to. If the discussion is on a topic, you know about, the best way to enhance the conversion is to listen first and ask open-ended questions. Always make you questions supportive, not challenging. Instead of saying: “I don’t think you are correct with your opinion”, we can say “That’s an interesting point, what do you think about this idea” (McCarthy, 2020).

Small talk can enhance your wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development.

One of the first benefits is that small talk can be a great social function for you and your friends. This can be a chance for you to get to know other people who share similar interests. For example, if you love gardening, then finding someone who enjoys talking about plants and growing them can be a fun way to bring an additional element to your conversations. Similarly, if you enjoy music or spending time with musicians, small talk with people who share similar interests can enrich your social experience.

While most people use small talk to make acquaintances and establish bonds, some use it as a form of intimacy. I enjoy the opportunity to learn about another person. Our discussions deepen our understanding of each other’s thoughts and feelings.

Talking about stuff that matters is good for you and good for the person you are chatting with. Try to have at least five substantive conversations a week—not only will they boost your spirits, they will open your mind (Boardman, n.d.)

Read the full article: The Big Benefits of Small Talk
Read more on the topic: An Introvert’s Guide To Small Talk: Eight Painless Tips and
8 Ways to Make Meaningful Small Talk

The Power of Introverts

Introverts are often thought of as timid people that dislike social activities or are shy. However, introverts are not shy, quite the contrary. Introverts are self-confident, assured, directed, and sufficient individuals. Introverts thrive in a small group environment where there is a level of comfort and security. Both introverts and extroverts thrive and achieve success in groups and in isolated situations.

When thinking about the personality spectrum, introvert and extrovert are most familiar. However, no one is a pure introvert or extrovert. We live a hybrid style/flexible style that is situation specific known as ambivert; a blending of introvert and extrovert traits. Combining, blending, and integrating aspects of life requires social adaptability. This is the core strength of an ambivert.  

Read the full article: The Power of Introverts
Read more on the topic:  Are you an Ambivert, Introvert, or Extrovert? Learn the science behind your personality and
The Introvert and the Extrovert (Collaboration)
NOTE: See the image How to Care for Extroverts/Introverts (you may find that you appreciate aspects from each list).

What Happens in Your Brain When You Make Art?

The Split Brain Theory (Sperry, 1960), identified the specialized behaviors of the right (creative, spatial and visual thinkers) and left hemisphere (logical, analytical, and word oriented). Recent research (Brincat et al., 2021; Corballis, 2014; Nielsen et al., 2013;) support that idea that the left brain and right brain rely on each other and there is “interhemispheric communication”.  There are several types of stimuli that have proven effective at stimulating creativity and the brain. Paintings, drawings, video art and audio art all require the use of the right side of the brain, which deals with emotions and ideas, along with the left side of the brain, which deals with logic and precise detail. 

Creativity and the ability to see a task through to completion depend on a steady stream of ideas from the creative side of the brain and the analytical side. Music, solving problems, and movement along with artistic endeavors stimulate creativity and analysis…using the right and left brain. Many of us engage in artistic and creative activities because we enjoy them, but did you know that art and creativity also have significant wellness and personal development benefits?

Stuckey and Noble (2010) completed a meta-analysis of over 100 studies and found creative expression to have a strong positive influence on health and well-being. A growing body of research (Benefits of Creativity, 2018: Grigonis, 2018: and Martin, n.d.) focuses on the role creativity plays in the development of mental health and its health implications. Researchers have found that the way creativity affects the brain and body leads to increased mood, reduced anxiety, increased cognitive function, reduced risk of chronic disease, and improved immune health. In this study, cognitive neuroscientists find that by creating art, people can create a positive state of mind in themselves. For example, the researchers examined the effects of visual arts using biofeedback to find it promotes health or well-being and promotes an adaptive response to stress. 

Creative hobbies not only contribute to brain health, but creativity allows people to change their perspective on life.

A handmade life is a beautiful, happier and healthier life (Winnicot, n.d.).

Read the full article: What Happens in Your Brain When You Make Art
Read more on the topic: Feeling Artsy? Here’s How Making Art Helps Your Brain

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”.  

More February Feature Articles include:

10 Keys to Happier Living

Critical Thinking Skills

BtoB Matters Vol.1, No. 1

The first year and a half of Blooms to Blossoms I wrote about the integration of wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development from a personal perspective. During this time, a network of colleagues and friends made contributions to building our community of scholars, practitioners, and pupils. Entering 2021, my primary goal is to add to the knowledge base focusing on this integration.  Part of my work will be through co-creating content by expanding on the work of those in my ever-growing network.  

There are two objectives for BtoB Matters:

**To share information about the integration of wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development, and
**To show that this integration can make a difference in life.

The first of each month I post feature articles on the Blooms to Blossoms homepage and in The Hive.  I plan to use BtoB Matters to share thoughts, ideas, and personal perspectives to extend and broaden the meaning within these articles.  

Learn Like an Athlete

If you are thinking about learning something new and challenging yourself with it, there is no better way than by learning like an athlete. Athletes train. Musicians train. Performers train.  Why not you?  

Whatever path you take to learn, you should think like an athlete and practice like one as well.  A practical, functional, and sequential process along with a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses will guide your learning.  Developing a self-directed learning plan allows you to learn at your own pace, build up your self-confidence, and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

How do you train yourself to become a better learner? You train yourself by finding out what questions to ask yourself and how to answer them, and then you train yourself to find the right answers. The second part of the learning plan is not so much what you do, but how you do it. When you are in a classroom or with a group of people learning something new consider these three practices: 

**take the time to listen carefully, 
**take part in the discussions, and 
**ask questions to gain a deeper understanding.

The key to a lifelong self-directed learning plan is to apply these principles to your personal goals and objectives.

Read the full article: Learn Like an Athlete
Read more on the topic: The Montessori Method: A Self-Education Mindset for Creating Innovators 

Improvement and Tending a Garden

Self-improvement means working on your abilities and talents and working to become the best version of yourself you can be. This may seem like an impossible task, but it is something that is best done step by step. Personal growth is a never-ending journey, as you strive to become a better version of yourself, no matter how great you are already.  If you decide to take a journey of self-improvement, the goals you set should be realistic and straightforward.  Setting milestones is a way to achieve gradual success to encourage more self-improvement. Combine these minor victories with the consistent application of what you learn through your personal development journey.

Remember, the plan you develop should allow for adjustments along the way. Lifelong learning and personal development will take patience, commitment, determination, and perseverance. Personal growth is a journey that does not end. You continue to change your mindset, so it matches your goals.

Read the full article:  In 100 Words: Improvement and Tending a Garden
Read more on the topic: Life is Like a Garden

Why Do We Feel Nostalgia?

Childhood memories play a vital role in forming one’s identity, and this holds true for adults as well. Past experiences shape us and our behavior.  Today we reflect on why the act of remembering can help us search for meaning and to rewrite the history of our lives. Nostalgia connects our past and present selves. Nostalgia can give us a positive view of the past. Indulging in nostalgia can help us gain a greater sense of continuity and meaning in life. It can uniquely enable us to communicate a deeper understanding of ourselves and our relationships with our family, friends, colleagues, and even the world.

“We are living in a time of change and instability right now. Nostalgia can actually be a stabilizing force for us. Studies have shown that people with a greater propensity for nostalgia are better able to cope with adversity and are more likely to seek emotional support, advice and practical help from others. It’s shown to boost a person’s mood, reduce stress, increase feelings of social connectedness to others and offer optimism about the future. Research shows nostalgia makes people feel loved and valued and increases perceptions of social support when people are lonely”  Nelson-Simley, 2020, para. 4).

View the video: Why Do We Feel Nostalgia?
Read more on the topic:  Are Your Feeling Nostalgic These Days?

The concepts of how the pieces of life are integrated and impact the quality of life and learning is of deep interest to me.  In the first issue of BtoB Matters I offer some insights and additional readings on the topics of learning, improving, and how the past influences the present and future.  It is my hope that you find BtoB Matters interesting and useful.  

More January Feature Articles include:

Happier January

Mental Dynamics: How to Constantly Change and Evolve Your Mindset

Five Surprising Ways Exercise Changes Your Brain


Ikigai: One Path Toward an Integrated Life

Since I started writing Blooms to Blossoms, I have unknowingly been on the Ikigai path. My passion, mission, vocation, and profession resulted in the desire to share ideas about integrating wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development through writing my blog.  August 7 Visual Blossoms post identified internal and external aspects of life.  Each day, based on our life goals and vision while keeping in mind our commitment to others, we prioritize how these pieces fit together.  Last month I happened across Tanmay Vora’s book review sketchnote of Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life.  I mentioned in my August 14 Visual Blossom that his summary statement stimulated my interest in how I could apply the principles of Ikigai to the purpose of Blooms to Blossoms.  

Ikigai is the intersection/convergence of four core elements. Charlton (2018) explains the core elements as follows.

**What you love (your passion) — what inspires you?
**What the world needs (your mission) — what makes you feel useful?
**What you are good at (your vocation) — what are you drawn to?
**What you can get paid for (your profession) — what activities do your find most productive?  
NOTE:  Remember that “paid” can mean outcomes/rewards beyond money.

Blooms to Blossoms strives to contribute to the enrichment of young adults and beyond by demonstrating that integrating life and learning makes a difference.  How can you use your knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs to envision and build your future?

Zippo et al. (2010) assert that wellness encompasses a balance of the multi- dimensional journey that each of us takes at one time or another. Each of our journeys is unique and different. We all strive to succeed as individuals who create our own paths in life. Yasuka (2019) supports my idea that wellness and ikigai are on the same path toward lifelong learning and personal development.  He states, “every person is said to have their own ikigai. An ikigai is personal and specific to each individual’s life, beliefs, and values. It should reflect one’s inner self” (para.2).

Wellness components related to Ikigai core elements

Ikigai is the union point of four fundamental components of life: passion, vocation, profession and mission. In other words, where; what you love meets what you are good at, meets what you can be valued and paid for meets that which the world needs. Ikigai is only complete if the goal implies service to the community. We feel more satisfied giving gifts than receiving. The next step, once you’ve identified these components, would be to start following your compass (Grant, 2019, para.9).

Linkage of wellness, lifelong learning, personal development to Ikigai
Ikigai diagram modified | Alex Tanchoco

Finding your ikigai…start by answering the questions. Kolmodin (2018) shares a tool to facilitate personal growth to find happiness and meaning to life. Click on the link below to download the template.

Smell the Roses: In-Between

On October 28, 2019 I published a blog titled, Be Open: Inspiration Comes from Everywhere.  In my opening I wrote:

Many people act as though the future is something that happens to them rather than something that you can create every day. Have you thought about what inspires you? It is interesting to consider that inspiration comes from everywhere if you are open to the possibilities.

This week my blog and a refreshed perspective on life resulted from a comment on ESPN, a song, a podcast, and a book.  

A Comment on ESPN:

While watching SportsCenter on ESPN this week the announcers referred to a quote attributed to Lou Holtz.  “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it”.  Their point about the quote is that Holtz’s intent may have been about attitude.  As I thought about this quote and researched various interpretations of it, I found that it applies to life.  Flom (n.d.) states:

We all carry loads, and we all carry them in different ways.. the key is to carry your load the right way. That means with your head up, back straight. Bend at the knees so the load is distributed better and doesn’t wreck one part of you. If it’s too heavy to carry alone, ask for help. Keep moving forward so that momentum is on your side. Where you were when you picked up the load doesn’t matter. Where you’re headed with it does.

A Song:

While doing errands this week I was listening to my favorite streaming station (Lee Greenwood Gospel).  I like to songs and there is good variety.  The 1974 song ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ by Mac Davis came on…I sat in the car and listened to it a couple times.  This song connected to Holtz quote, Flom’s interpretation, and to my Visual Blossoms post Piecing Together Life… “Life is a journey, and there are bumps in the road.”   It is important to find a way to carry your load and count your blessings. Some of the Mac Davis lyrics are:

Hey Mister
Where you going in such a hurry
Don’t you think it’s time you realized
There’s a whole lot more to life than work and worry
The sweetest things in life are free
And they’re right before your eyes


A Podcast:

When I bike, I usually listen to audiobooks (leisure reading) or podcasts (for blog ideas).  I chose a Psychology at Work podcast by Lankow and Johansson. They “envision a world of work where people realize their significance and purpose.”  They “explore how to make positive meaning of our relationships and contributions (and what can get in the way), which leads to being more engaged, present, and effective.”  Based on the ESPN comment and the song, I chose the (2019) podcast “Eustress, Distress, We all Stress.”  They discuss and reiterate ideas that stress is not always a bad thing. 

Wack (2020) defines eustress as a term for positive stress that can have a beneficial impact on your life. “Eu” is a prefix meaning good or well, also used in words like “euphoria” and “eulogy.” Eustress can refer to challenges in work and life that put pressure on us to grow and improve. 

Coor (n.d.) defines distress as typically accompanied by feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, which are perceived as negative and unwanted.

The key is to be mindful and control what you can…do not let your goals become a form of distress.  In other words, carry your load the right way and take time to smell the roses.

A Book:

The quote, the song, and the podcast led me to search for books related to finding opportunities for growth.  I found an interesting choice written by Jeff Goins titled, The In-Between: Embracing the Tension Between Now and the Next Big Thing.  The book explores searching for a breakthrough, loving the journey, and life worth the wait. “The In-Between is a call to accept the importance that waiting plays in our lives by helping you find personal meaning in the times that make the least sense and hone the underestimated art of living in the moment.”

The expression “stop and smell the roses” is not simply about flowers, but rather about how to live your life with a deeper appreciation of the world around us. It reminds us to slow down and notice the little things that make life worthwhile. Despite a busy life, it is important to know how to be present in the moment; otherwise those moments will pass you by. Herst (2019)

My New Anthem for Life:

Pause, reflect, appreciate, move forward 

***********
“Don’t hurry. Don’t worry.
You’re only here for a short visit. 
So don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.”
Walter Hagen

My Garden: Well-Being & Teamwork

My recent Visual Blossoms post, “How Does My Garden Grow? With A Lot of Help!“, I shared that my gardening hobby is supported by the help from others.  Teamwork makes the dream work!!  Whether you garden alone, with others, or with the help of others it can be a rewarding hobby with positive effects on your overall wellbeing.

Studies show that gardening can positively influence physical and mental well-being.  Soga, Gaston, & Yamaura (2016) performed a meta-analysis (twenty-two cases studies published after 2001) of the effects of gardening on health and well-being.   “Most studies came from the United States, followed by Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Studies reported a wide range of health outcomes, such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, as well as increases in life satisfaction, quality of life, and sense of community. Meta-analytic estimates showed a significant positive effect of gardening on the health outcomes” (p.92).

The benefits of gardening extend well beyond the physical aspect of digging in the dirt. No matter how small or large your garden is or if your garden is indoor or outdoor, your well-being benefits. With each garden there is a hope for beauty and success.  Whatever the outcome may be, there are many advantages to the process.  I find creating a beautiful garden means more than pretty flowers. Gardening is an opportunity to create a better life. Gardening encompasses Blooms to Blossoms purpose…integrating wellness, lifelong learning and personal development. The chart below depicts how gardening affects my life.

I am forever grateful for the help I have to make my vision come to life and forever hopeful for a good outcome.

Look back and be grateful,
Look ahead and be hopeful,
Look around and be helpful.
Unknown

Fitness IS a Spiritual Practice

Mavens (2018) defines spiritual practice:

A daily spiritual practice refers to any ritual that we perform each day to nur­ture our deep inner being. A spiritual practice quiets the mind and brings us into a state of peace or harmony with ourselves. A spiritual practice can take many forms—but it is not the form that matters so much as the intent. In fact, a spiritual practice does not even need to be explicitly spiritual to be effective. It simply needs to be something that helps you turn inward and connect with your own truth and purpose.

You do not need to be religious or even spiritual to benefit from develop­ing a spiritual practice. A daily spiritual practice is not about dogma or wor­ship; it is about tuning in to your own sense of spirit.

Life is multi-faceted…it would be difficult, if not impossible, to disconnect the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of life.  There is a relationship of these elements that permeate and integrate with living. For me, physical exercise is a form of spiritual practice that is the catalyst bringing these aspects together. In my blog, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul, and my three-part series on Well-Being: Self Exploration I describe how my running is more than just the physical action of putting one foot in front of the other. Bringing the body and mind together is a form of spiritual practice.

“The older I get, the more I realize there is more to these activities than just the competitiveness I found in the past.  
Improving and enhancing body, mind, and spirit
result from my physical activity.”

“I savor the peacefulness of a light rain and the solitude of my run. 
I have always been grateful for my runs (good, bad, or indifferent).
I have learned through this experience is to be more aware
of the meaning my day-to-day activities.
This awareness will have an influence on uplifting my well-being.”

Movement can be a way to focus on our well-being.  Think about it…exercise is like cross training for life.  The physical aspect of movement is just one of the many outcomes. Movement improves thinking, perspective, and purpose.  When you move you become physically and emotionally healthier. The more you move the more you confident and capable you become.

Scott-Dixon (Precision Nutrition)

Dupue (n.d.) provides reasons why he believes fitness is a form of spiritual practice.

  • You use it for greater happiness and fulfillment.
  • You use your workouts as a time to reflect.
  • You face yourself and grow in more ways than physical.
  • You test your will.
  • Your heart is engaged.
  • You expand your comfort zone.
  • You change your karma.
  • You release emotion and energy.
  • You take a moment a breathe.
  • Your mind quiets down, and you are present.
  • You have mental or emotional breakthroughs.

Here are a few examples of how fitness can be a spiritual practice…you may already engage in some of these suggestions. These rituals, relationships, and reflections through movement, exercise, fitness, working out to enhance your personal growth, your purpose, your engagement in life with self and others.

  • Listen to inspirational music
  • Listen to a book or podcast
  • Listen to the sounds of nature 
  • Mindfully notice your surroundings
  • Mindfully notice how your body feels as it moves
  • Participate with others to stay connected
  • Reflect on what you are grateful for
  • Savor the experience as it is happening and afterwards

A Virtual Trip Down Memory Lane

Last year (August 2019), I published a blog Keepsakes and Memories.  I concluded by sharing research to support the contribution of reminiscence to meeting the intent of Blooms to Blossoms.  I stated: 

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 well-being through reflection and sharing of key life events.  

A couple weeks ago I shared an article I read about “front porch memories” and community building.  After reading the article I did a virtual search for, and found, my grandparents’ front porch.  Since finding my grandparents’ front porch I wondered about other places I have lived, gone to school, worked, and played.

Addis (2015) describes memories as having an important role to play in functions that directly impact our well-being. Moreover, memory is critical for our sense of who we are – in the past, present and the future. With the idea of connecting past, present and future with well-being I made a list of addresses, locations, and events I attended over the years, opened my map app and took a virtual trip down memory lane.

As I started my trip down memory lane, I was mindful that this adventure would be exciting and at times disappointing.  Like my grandparent’s porch, some places in my past were not visibly as grand as I remembered BUT the memories of my experiences and the people were wonderful.  I took my trip in chronological order so I could revisit how I moved from point A to B to C….ending this past month.  

Social connection and self-continuity describe the benefits identified by Baldwin, Biernat, & Landau’s (2015) review a group of studies on nostalgia and sense of self.

Baldwin, Biernat, & Landau BenefitsMy trip down memory lane
Boosts moods**remembering events, athletic competitions
Triggers inspiration & motivation**remembering educational and work accomplishments
Provides a glimpse of your authentic self**remembering who I truly am is a result of decisions and choices I made 
Aids problem-solving**remembering that various “bumps in the road” make me stronger
Creates sense of well-being**remembering my belief in the importance of a holistic, wellness guided life 
Improves relationships** remembering family, friends, students, teachers, mentors, and colleagues

I refined my goals, values, and ideals over the years, but I found a stable sense of self.  By reflecting on my past, I gathered insight into my present AND inspiration for my future.  

Life is a journey of experiences + people = the identity one becomes.
I discovered myself again after taking a trip down memory lane.

Taking the time to pause and really value each of the events that pass our way, rather than just moving mindlessly from one moment to the next, can ensure that we really experience life, instead of failing to see the ties and connections that truly prove the connectedness of us all.  Wolbe (2017)

Creating Community on a Porch

A few months ago, my Dad gave me a briefcase full of reading materials he saved over the years.  The materials in the briefcase were from the last three decades.  Every time I open the briefcase, I find new treasures that result in bringing back memories.

Recently I have been reading articles in the Reminisce magazines from 1994-97. The article from July/August 1994, Our Front Porch Made Warm Memories of Summer, brought back memories of sitting on the porch at my grandpa (Buddy). My grandparents’ house was on the “main” street of a small town.  Buddy and I would sit on the porch and wave to any car that drove by…it seemed like we were the town greeters and it was fun.  We would also chat with neighbors and share stories of the day.  I have not been back to my first home since 2004 so I decided to use a map app to see if I could find my first porch.  I found the house and was able to see the porch.
NOTE: It was sad to see the deterioration and lack of landscaping but still brought back good memories.

By using a virtual tour, I could scroll up and down the street, through the neighborhood and the town. I spent a lot of time at the next-door neighbor’s porch and my dad’s sister lived on the same street. Her house had a covered front porch.  Once I reminisced on my own, I had to share this with my mom and her sister.  Below are some of the stories they shared with me:

Buddy and Granny had a closed porch (what I call a sunroom) and a stoop. The closed porch was not inviting to others but on rainy days it was nice to just sit and watch the rain and the cars on the highway go by.  On a snowy winter night, it was beautiful and peaceful to watch the snow fall.  The stoop (open porch) was an inviting area of the home.  If you were sitting there, you could and would expect anyone who passed by to say a few words or sit and visit.
++++++++++++++++++
Back when mom and dad bought and remodeled the house there were windows across the front and on the sides of the front porch, with sidelights by the door and venetian blinds on all the windows. The siding was white and there were shrubs beside the steps and a tree in the front yard.  Your grandma took pride in her garden of petunias and 4 o’clocks.
++++++++++++++++++
The neighbor’s porch was used by most of the neighborhood. It had a swing and chairs. If necessary, lawn chairs would be brought up to the front yard to accommodate more people. Being a small-town people knew each other and so many times walkers from other neighborhoods would stop by also. Our neighbors would visit and work, shelling peas, sewing quilt blocks or a variety of other chores.  
+++++++++++++++++++
Even as a kid I would sit with the adults until dark and enjoy the porch and the people. There were other porches in the neighborhood that were used in the evenings but none so much as our neighbor’s porch.  
+++++++++++++++++++
Your aunt’s porch had a swing too and neighbors sometimes gathered there in the evenings but the thing I really remember about that swing is how pleasant it was to sit out there and just enjoy day. And now while I don’t have a porch, I have the lanai and a glider and as I write this, I’m sitting listening to the rain and enjoying quiet time.  It does not get much better than this.

From Rory Feek blog “The Best Medicine.”

The founder of the Professional Porch Sitters Union (PPSU), Claude Stephens (aka Crow Hollister) believed porch sitting was a way to create community.  “When you’re on your porch you’re a part of your community. When you’re in your house you’re not.”

A porch community promotes face to face interaction and people connecting with one another.  Social connections form and people share recollections from the day, memories of the past, and dreams for the future.  The simple acts of relaxing and reflecting with others strengthens the community. This engagement leads to emotional well-being and happiness and scientific evidence supports the affect between happiness and health. I find that even if I am sitting on my porch alone I feel part of the neighborhood community. We live in at cal-de-sac so the traffic flow is limited but I carry on the tradition started with Buddy…I wave to anyone going by.

If you want to be nostalgic scan through the images and quotes provided by Porch Sitter Union.

Porch pictures & quotes 1
Porch pictures & quotes 2
Porch pictures & quotes 3

Porching isn’t just for small towns. It is needed now more than ever in cities and neighborhoods where we spend so little time thinking about the world outside the four walls we live and work within. Welcoming neighbors to our “porch” builds community. When people are connected within neighborhoods, their neighborhoods are healthier. As we build these connections throughout various neighborhoods, the anticipation is that our city as a whole will become healthier. Creating a sense of knowing, belonging, and connection to where we live and a renewed sense of the important role all people play is critical in making a community healthy and whole. Taft 2018

My friend Jim.