Love At First Sight

We have been cat owners (owned by cats) for 20 years.  The joy they have brought to our life is immeasurable. As I think back on the story of how each cat became part of our family, I feel as though we were meant to be together.  With each cat it was love at first sight…attraction that leads to an long-term relationship.

They each have distinct personalities of charisma and charm.  Words that describe charismatic are confident, exuberant, optimistic, expressive body language, and a passionate voice.  In some ways I have become bilingual by learning the language of each of our cats. Each has private language developed with me.  They provide just as much nurturing to us as we do to them.  Our cats need us BUT there is a balance of these relationships: we need them.

Pets are humanizing.  They remind us we have an obligation
and responsibility
to preserve and nuture and care for all life.   
 James Cromwell

Einstein (10/21/01-10/9/14) and Reggie (10/21/01-2/1/19) are brother and sister pixie bob cats and were our first two cats.  The name Einstein was chosen because he was particularly smart and intelligent.  He immediately came to me, rolled over and asked for a tummy rub so he had to be mine.  Reggie (Regina – Queen in Italian) was our kitten for life…never weighing over 7 pounds.  Reggie was our queen.  She had an independence about her that required respect while exuding love and contentment.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.  **Anatole France
May the memories of our friends be with us forever.

They motivate us to play,
be affectionate,
seek adventure, and
be loyal.  
Tom Hayden

Until last Friday we had 3 cats Percy, Chester, and DJ.

Percy (named after a town from my early childhood) is a rescue cat and joined our family in 2012. She is a solitary cat who likes her alone time.  She kisses me with her eyes, likes to be near us but at a distance, and always shows contentment with her “hooked” tail.

Chester (named after the town where I was born) is a pixie bob and joined our family in 2014.  He is a cuddle cat who demands attention.  We share a favorite chair, he knows where the treat drawer is and “asks” for treats regularly.  He has a demanding voice only a mom could love.  

DJ  (named after my Dad) is a rescue cat and joined our family last year.  I have shared his story in a blog earlier this year.  He is best buddies with Chester and loves to have his lap time.

Buddy (named after a nickname for my grandfather) is a pixie bob and joined our family this past weekend.   We are looking forward to integrating Buddy into the group.  I am confident he will find his place and be a great asset to our family.

How can you not love this face?

Our cats had/have a power of immense, non-judgemental love…that is completely reciprocated. From the moment our eyes locked there is no going back. Our lives will forever revolve around each other.  Percy, Chester, DJ and Buddy are loved every day and we never take them for granted.

Practicing What I Preach: Year in Review

Late 2018, when the idea of Blooms to Blossoms was starting to take shape, I saw Vora’s blog post Share To Learn.  His brief narrative and sketchnote were instrumental in visualizing my plan.  His sketchnote clearly depicts the goals for my blog. 

Since I published my first blog (May 2019) I have been promoting integration of wellness, lifelong learning, and personal development.  As I consider my plans for 2020, I thought it might be a good idea to share my year in review.  

**What have I done in 2019 to practice what I preach?
**How can I build momentum into the new year?

So, it is time to look back, remember, learn, and plan.  

Personal Growth – Health & Wellbeing – Relationships
Year in Review

Writing Blooms to Blossoms

Writing the blog has been rewarding and challenging.  When I think about it, those are two outcomes that I had hoped for when I was developing the blog idea.  I wanted to express myself and share ideas about topics I find interesting.  After writing 30+ blogs I feel I am on a good path toward making a difference/adding value to my readers living and learning. I am sharing knowledge about a topic passionate to me. My blog work provides an academic/critical thinking outlet for me, enhances skill development through writing, expands my network of friends and colleagues, and broadens my scope of reading.

Hobbies

This summer I wrote a series of blogs on music.  The last post, titled Music Matters: Music for Me!! Music for You??, I shared that I started taking asynchronous piano lessons.  Coming from a background of teaching online for 15 years, it would seem a logical choice.  While the structure was fine and the teacher excellent, I was not satisfied with the overall experience and progress.  I found that I needed more structure, wanted a more personal connection with my teacher, and most important I wanted to choose the music I was playing.  In October I found the perfect teacher and now take weekly lessons (face-to-face).  Piano, as my primary hobby, provides a learning opportunity by being able to physically put the written music into action on the piano keys, enhances my social network through engagement with my teacher, and provides cognitive development as we discuss music theory.

Health & Fitness

I have been active all my life. In fact, sometimes I wonder if my first steps might have been at a running pace.  I have written about the influence of sports/activity in my life in prior blogs titled, Run for My Body, Run for My Soul and Mentoring is Enduring.  You could expect that being active and eating healthy continue to be key aspects of my life.  Transition from being an “athlete” for over 20 years (high school through post college competition) to just being “athletic” has been a challenge.   Recently I changed gym memberships.  I joined F45…a 45-minute functional high intensity interval training workout.  Their tagline is “team training, life changing”, and I would agree 100%.  In October, after watching Game Changers, a movie about plant-based eating and strength along with doing some of my own research, I started eating a plant-based diet. My exercise and my diet provide a lifestyle that fits my personal goals, enhances my social, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional wellness.  I continue to learn about myself and how to live a healthy life as I actively engage in workouts and learn more about diet, exercise, and aging.

Relationships

We all have various relationships in our lives, acquaintances, colleagues, friends, pets, family, that are important.

**My blog has opened doors to relationship building.  I have reconnected with friends and colleagues from the past and am expanding my network. 

**Over the past few years my family has sacrificed location and convenience to move nearby.  I am grateful for what they have given up so we can share life more fully.

**Reggie, my first girl cat, passed away in February.  She was with us for over 18 years and is now with her brother.  During Reggie’s last few months she helped welcome our boy DJ to the family.  

**Every year is better because of my husband.  Life is good.

Personal Growth – Health & Wellbeing – Relationships
What’s Next

In the coming year I plan/hope to:

**combine my blog writing with my desire to sketch by including sketchnotes in my posts.

**continue to expand the scope and breadth of my reading.

**continue my piano lessons and strive to be more comfortable playing for others.

**complete at least the first five books in the Fundamentals of Piano Theory by Snell and Ashleigh.

**improve my ability to draw/sketch.

**continue an active lifestyle keeping in mind my motto (as I get older) that “something is better than nothing.”

**increase readership of my blog/social media presence as outreach to achieve the purpose that together we will create a community of scholars, practitioners, and pupils.

**build my network of friends and colleagues.

“Life’s not about expecting, hoping and wishing,
it’s about doing, being and becoming.”
unknown

I felt it was important to share with you that my actions are consistent with the thoughts and ideas I share in my blog.  My purpose is to live an integrated life that focuses on wellness, learning, and personal development.  My actions are louder than my words.  Wellstone, academic and author, states, “Never separate the life you live from the words you speak.” 

You may be reflecting on 2019 and planning for 2020 to be your best self.  Be true to self as you plan and align your words with your actions.

We will open the book.
Its pages are blank.
We are going to put words on them ourselves.
The book is called opportunity and
its first chapter is New Year’s Day.
Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Spiritual Wellness: Our Beliefs & Our Values

Everyone celebrates the holiday season differently.   We can express our belief in the principles of Christmas in many ways.  No matter how you celebrate you deserve to share happiness of the season.  I wish everyone health and happiness as you wrap up 2019 and move forward to 2020. For my holiday blog, I share some thoughts on spiritual wellness.

We commonly define spiritual wellness as obtaining meaning and purpose in life.  Zippo (2010) provides a framework for a wellness journey by stating: 

Wellness encompasses a balance of the multidimensional 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.

Overall wellness, integration of body, mind, and spirit, is an intricate personal journey leading to an enhanced quality of life.  Spiritual wellness depends on our beliefs and values.  How each of us answer questions such as those below will guide this journey.

**Is my life purposeful?
**Is my spiritual growth defined and expanding?
**Do I show trust with others and am I able to forgive?
**Are my values and actions consistently presented?
**Am I grateful and open to others’ beliefs & values?

A willingness to be inquisitive and curious as you explore your spiritual essence contributes to overall wellness, personal growth, and development.  The goal is harmony between self, others, and the world. Finding ways to “practice” or apply your spiritual beliefs and values may contribute to your overall wellness; it may also improve the lives of those around you.  The National Wellness Institute describes the spiritual connection of self and others.  It is better to:

ponder the meaning of life for ourselves and to be tolerant of the beliefs of others than to close our minds and become intolerant.

live each day in a way that is consistent with our values and beliefs than to do otherwise and feel untrue to ourselves.

Putting your spiritual growth into practice may include:

**volunteering
**making social contributions
**fellowship experiences with others lead to optimism and belonging
**expressing compassion and forgiveness

So what is spirituality?  American Nurse Today 2018 blog answers this question.

It’s about what inspires you, what gives you hope, and what you feel strongly about.

Your spirit is the seat of your deepest values and character. Whether or not you practice a religion, you can recognize that a part of you exists beyond the analytical thinking of your intellect; it’s the part of you that feels, makes value judgments, and ponders your connection to others, to your moral values, and to the world.

For this reason, spirituality frequently is discussed in terms of a search. Spiritual wellness is a continuing journey of seeking out answers and connections and seeing things in new ways. It also means finding your purpose in life and staying aligned with it.

How do you define spiritual wellness?

How can that definition find expression in a meaningful practice?

How can you incorporate that practice into your life?

How can you use that practice to help you with the everyday stresses and anxieties?

Listen with your heart and
live by your principles.

Become the Best Version of Yourself

This is the time of the year when contemplation about the past and anticipation about the future is in the minds of many.  The year 2019 is about to end and 2020 is on the horizon. Consideration of how to be a better version of you is a common notion.  Resolutions for the upcoming year are planned and promised.  The first of a new year is a good reflection and planning milestone. I am not a person to make New Year’s resolutions, but I often take time to think about how I can be a better me.  Every action I take and every thought I have combine to define who I am.  

I believe taking care of and understanding integration of body, mind, emotions, spirit, and relationships is the path toward “being the greatest version of you that you can be.”  

In the mid-1990s I bought a pair of running shoes and received a calendar for the upcoming year.  The images and narrative in this calendar has been inspirational and motivational ever since.  I kept most of the images, framed the group, and have hung it in my office or home ever since.  Twenty-five years later I still have this compilation of pictures hung in our workout room.  

I share the individual pictures and quotes below and encourage you to refer to a wellness checklist I posted in Blooms to Blossoms resources. You might use these as aids for your thoughts and planning for the upcoming year.

Integration of body, mind, emotions, spirit, and relationships
is the path toward “being the greatest version of you that you can be.”  

You must do the thing
you think you cannot do. 
Eleanor Roosevelt
So many moments, all so simple.
God, do I love it here on earth. 
Fannie Gaynes

One can never consent to creep
when one feels an impulse to soar. 
Helen Keller
It isn’t the big pleasures that count the most, it’s making a big deal out of the little ones. 
Jean Webster

The body is shaped, disciplined, honored, and in time trusted. 
Martha Graham

Athlete is a fine, strong word…there’s nothing female or male about it.  Mariah Burton Nelson
Grace fills empty spaces. 
Simone Weil

Energy creates energy. 
Sarah Bernhardt
It is never too late to be
what you might have been. 
George Eliot

There are multiple meanings to each picture. Think beyond the physical presented. Probe your thoughts about how the picture, the quote, and your personal appraisal of each wellness component can help you design how can you be your best?

Embrace self-improvement.
Become the best version of yourself.
Create, Contribute, Share.

Be Thankful & Grateful; Be Aware & Appreciative

Most would agree that Thanksgiving is a day to express thankfulness and gratitude…my questions to consider are:

**Does this expression on Thanksgiving day have to be the only day? 
**Why would we limit our thankfulness and gratitude to one day? 
**How do each of us practice thankfulness?
**How do each of us practice gratitude?

Thanksgiving is not only a day to reflect on the past and enjoy the present.  It can be a day to start an ongoing life of gratitude. 

There is a distinction between thankfulness and gratitude.  I believe thankfulness is more momentary while being grateful is a deeper level of thankfulness and grows over time.  As you think about how you differentiate between thankfulness and gratitude, consider life experiences, blessings you have received or shared with others, the good within you, and the good within others.  Awareness (thankfulness) and appreciation (gratefulness) should extend beyond the day of Thanksgiving.

Razzitti (n.d.), Schultz (2018) and WisdomPost (n.d.) point out differences in the terms. Being thankful or thanking someone often implies you are acknowledging your recognition for something that someone has given you or done for you. Being grateful is about appreciating what one has, as opposed to what one wants.  Gratefulness is an emotional response to reflection of an occurrence or series of occurrences that have made a difference in your life. WisdomPost lists several distinctions between thankfulness and gratitude.

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

It would seem logical to believe that expressing thankfulness and gratitude would lead to a better life. Research supports the assumption that taking time to feel thankful and to express your gratitude leads to a better life.  Several studies (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Morin, 2015; & Wood, et al., 2008) report that being thankful and grateful improves mental and physical well-being, boosts self-esteem and contributes significantly to overall satisfaction with life. It is difficult to show/prove a cause-effect outcome between these factors. Evidence is mounting that gratitude may well be one of the fundamental pillars of a healthy lifestyle (Allen, 2018).

There are many ways to document or track thankfulness and gratitude. A few examples are:

**Journaling to tell your stories
**Daily reflection to celebrate successes
**1-2 lines a day to highlight a memory
**There are (of course) even apps available   : )  

If you’re not sure how to start a gratitude project consider creating a “blessings” jar.  This is the same concept as the memory book I mentioned in a prior blog titled, Sharing Stories, Sharing Life .

From Grandmother’s Love Facebook page…you could start a blessings jar at Thanksgiving.

An interesting approach to stimulate thought on thankfulness and gratitude could be to establish a baseline starting point.  I share the info and tool below to inspire you to delve deeper into your personal perspectives. If you choose to use the Gratitude Quiz keep in mind that this is a self-report, subjective snapshot (read about the validity of gratitude scales in the article below). 

PositivePsychology shares 7 measures of gratitude used by researchers.

The Appreciation Scale developed by psychologists, Mitchel Adler and Nancy Fagley (2005) is a tool you can use to explore “how grateful you are”.  This tool shows the importance of the feeling of appreciation and its relationship with improved well-being. The assumption in the use of this scale is that appreciation subsumes gratitude.

This scale has eight subclasses that covers the various areas of appreciation including: “have” focus, awe, ritual, present moment, self/social comparison, gratitude, loss/adversity, and inter-personal appreciation.

Being thankful and grateful takes time to pause and time to reflect…something we all should do a bit more. 

**How do you define and practice thankfulness?
**How do you define and practice gratitude?

Watch this short video, An Experiment in Gratitude: The Science of Happiness  (7 minutes), to see how simple it is to share thankfulness and gratitude with others…you both will reap the benefits. Expressing yourself will impact your happiness. Try it out!!

MuSIC – Music Stimulates Improved Community

A few months ago, I wrote a 3-part series on Music Matters. Reading this series shows my belief that music is more than just notes on a page or sounds in the air.  

Music Matters: Master Class
Music Matters: Musicians & Athletes
Music Matters: Music for Me!! Music for You??

I want to expand on the idea that music (making music or listening to music) can be an avenue to crossing boundaries.

Ludden (2015) discusses the idea that music can be considered a universal language. Music certainly isn’t a universal language in the sense that you could use it to express any thought to any person on the planet. But music does have the power to evoke deep primal feelings at the core of the shared human experience. It not only crosses cultures, it also reaches deep into our evolutionary past. And it that sense, music truly is a universal language.

In support of Ludden, Steele (2016) adds:

Music does not suffer the frustrations of catering to the diverse group of people that we are likely to see in a modern community because music is non-verbal and does not differentiate or discriminate between age, culture or ability.  The benefits of community engagement with music are multifaceted and wide ranging. This is because music is a very powerful medium, evidenced by the fact that in some societies there have been attempts to suppress or control its use. Music reflects and creates social conditions and is powerful within a social group because it can facilitate or impede social change. For these reasons community music therapy has recently emerged as a context driven and ethical practiceand it has become necessary to develop theories that explain how we ‘can use music intentionally to enhance connectedness.

My contention is that music is community building. Music experience(s) crosses boundaries of lives, stories, language and is a blending of science and art.

Below I’ve highlighted snip-its from various publications and organizations to provide examples of music at work.

Music…

**surrounds our lives
**tells stories
**encourages creativity
**shares insights of others
**enhances the quality of life
**is a second language
**is transformative
**is a fusion of science and art

Links are shared in each example below. I hope you take the time to review the sections that connect most with you.

Musician Leo Samama discusses how music surrounds our lives in his book The Meaning of Music (2015)

For virtually all of our lives, we are surrounded by music. From lullabies to radio to the praises sung in houses of worship, we encounter music at home and in the street, during work and in our leisure time, and not infrequently at birth and death. But what is music, and what does it mean to humans? How do we process it, and how do we create it?

Samama discusses these and many other questions while shaping a vibrant picture of music’s importance in human lives both past and present. What is remarkable is that music is recognized almost universally as a type of language that we can use to wordlessly communicate. We can hardly shut ourselves off from music, and considering its primal role in our lives, it comes as no surprise that few would ever want to. Able to traverse borders and appeal to the most disparate of individuals, music is both a tool and a gift, and as Samama shows, a unifying thread running throughout the cultural history of mankind.

TEDxYouth (2014), are events designed for, and often organized by, young people. They bring ideas worth spreading to all ages.

Jack Lovelace, then a freshman at Flint High School, is passionate about music and storytelling and shares his insight on the idea that “storytelling through music is an indispensable part of life”.

Austin Classical Guitar Society Audience Engagement program encourages creativity through music and storytelling. Artist in Residence, Joseph Palmer travels to local schools and area venues to share a program he developed that engages children and young adults in that arts through integration of music and story telling.  “His emphasis on learning the listening process to influence the emotions, aids students in imagining a story based on the sounds they are hearing” (ACG, 2015).  Music and storytelling has been central to society for generations. 

NPR Milestones of the Millennium (1999) shared insights from others about the impact music has on the stories and lives of others over the years. Lieberman & Corigliano in their article Once Upon a Time: Storytelling.  Musical storytelling has been enjoyed by audiences for most of the millennium, and will surely endure for ages to come. The possibilities for musical storytelling will continue to develop as composers continue to discover new means of musical depiction.

In 2011 Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) hosted a professional development conference in Tampa.  Fung & Lehmberg presentation titled Senior Citizens’ Music Participation and Perception of the Quality of Life provided an overview of their literature review published in 2010.  The literature review focused on the physical, psychological, and social benefits of active music participation for healthy senior citizens. It shows a connection of these benefits to an overall quality of life of older adults. Evidence suggests that active music making has a positive effect on quality of life. Active music participation holds numerous benefits for senior citizens, including, but not limited to (a) an overall sense of physical and mental well-being, including the lessening of stress, pain and medication usage, (b) the slowing of age-related cognitive decline, (c) feelings of pleasure and enjoyment, (d) pride and a sense of accomplishment in learning new skills, (e) creation and maintenance of social connections, (f) a means of creative self-expression, and (g) the construction of identity at a time in life when sense of identity may be in flux. 

Music is a second language for students at Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI) in Austin, Texas. They describe what it is like to learn guitar. TSBVI instructor Jeremy Coleman shares his teaching philosophy. Coleman developed his approach at TSVBI using Austin Classical Guitar’s GuitarCurriculum.com, which he has adapted for Braille. Coleman also serves as Austin Classical Guitar’s Inclusion Expert assisting classroom guitar instructors throughout the United States with solutions for students with disabilities.

A short documentary, Music Transforming Lives, by filmmaker Jenna Creech focuses on Austin Classical Guitar’s Youth Orchestra, culminating with the ensemble’s debut at the Long Center for the Performing Arts in October, 2013.

The Musical Mind of Albert Einstein: Great Physicist, Amateur Violinist, and Devotee of Mozart explains the fusion of science communication and classical music. Music and physics as disciplines complement each other. The mixing of disciplines enhances learning.
(NOTE: Be sure to watch the video embedded in the article)

Be Open: Inspiration Comes From Everywhere

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.

The definition of INSPIRE is: 

**to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

** to create (a feeling, especially a positive one) in a person.

Merriam Webster provides the word history of inspire.

This moving little word may be traced back to the Latin inspirare (“to breathe or blow into”), which itself is from the word spirare, meaning “to breathe.” It didn’t take long to establish itself in a figurative sense, as our earliest written English uses of inspire give it the meaning “to influence, move, or guide (as to speech or action) through divine or supernatural agency or power.” Many of the early figurative senses of inspire are religious in nature, so it is not surprising to learn that the word shares a connection with spirit (which comes from the Latin word for “breath,” spiritus, which is also from spirare).

I am not a church going person BUT that does not mean I am not open to inspiration, support and guidance found from living my day-to-day life. Inspiration, for me, comes from everywhere.

I subscribe to a couple reading listservs. I receive a daily email with descriptions of suggested books in categories I self-selected.  Recently a book series was profiled, published by Guideposts.  Guideposts is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring the world to believe that anything is possible with hope, faith, and prayer. Their programs extend to writing workshops and encouraging wellness.  I didn’t know Guideposts published fiction so I read the profile and decided to get the first book in the series.

I ordered the book through interlibrary loan.  It is not “blog-worthy” news that I ran an errand to get my book last week…however…what I found in the book is quite inspirational and something I would like to share.

Inside the front cover of the book were two pieces of paper.  Someone (or maybe more than one person) typed the content on the pages on two different typewriters.  Also, I could see there were pin holes in the corners of each page. Someone had tacked these pages to a bulletin board or wall.

Guardian Tree Productions blog shares several articles on responsible living. One article, Finding Guidance in Your Life, connects to the ideas shared in my blog this week.  I believe that being open to inspiration that comes from everywhere is a key factor to finding your path in life.

Guardian Tree states, “The key to finding guidance in your life is to start being responsible for your own growth.”

DJ Finds His Forever Home & Best Friend

We have been cat owners since 2001.  Well, we have been “owned” by cats since 2001.  If you are a cat owner or if you know a cat owner…either way you would more likely agree the cat is the true owner. The most recent addition to our family is DJ. Just over a year ago, on September 25, 2018, he sauntered up to my Dad and seemed to have decided he had found his way to his forever home. 

The Story of DJ:

Dad says…I found him late at night on the sidewalk. He seemed nervous and upset.  I meowed at him (my Dad talks to all my cats) and he relaxed so I could pet him.  When I got ready to go home, he insisted on coming with me. As I walked, he kept getting between my legs all the way home. He would not come into the entryway to the front door…he had gone far enough on that first day. The following night, I found him sprawled out asleep on the sidewalk and he followed me home again.  He came on into the entryway where he enjoyed a snack.  Your sister said she had someone who would take him if we could catch him.  The third night, he was again on the sidewalk and he again followed me home.  We were able to get him to come into the house.  He was nervous but ate and drank warm milk.  Then he checked out the house by roaming around, even into dark rooms.  Afterwards, even though it was pouring rain, he wanted out.  We opened the door and he left. The next morning, we found him laying as close as he could get to the front door.   We coaxed him in with food and “entertained” him until your sister came to get him to take him to the vet.  

Over the next few days a neighbor friend of my parents fostered DJ. After receiving pictures and pictures of DJ from my sister (who lives near my parents) and told over and over “what a good cat he is” we decided he needed to be a member of our family.  It was difficult to resist DJ.  He is cute, well behaved, and has a soft “squeaky” voice.  Ten days later, October 5, 2018, DJ came to our house for a weekend visit and introduction to our cats. This was the day DJ found his forever home AND his best friend.

DJ sitting on my lap the first day.

We have often wondered about what life was like for DJ on the streets.  He seemed self-sufficient and was in good physical condition when he found Dad but life on the street is no way for a cat to live.  DJ was in search for his forever home.

As expected, DJ’s transition into our home, with our other cats, had a bit of a learning curve.  Initially, DJ and Chester were leery of each other and competed over their “ownership” of me.  With some planning and some patience from all of us after a couple of weeks it was amazing to see how close they were becoming.  Over the next several months they have formed a close bond and are often inseparable.  I have always thought cats were independent and solitary, but DJ and Chester have become pals.

DJ knew he was in a safe and loving place…being with us was the second chance he was looking for when he approached my Dad. I could talk a bit about the wellness benefits of rescuing an animal (for us and for DJ), but I think the poem below really tells the story.  DJ enriches our lives.  I am so glad we made room in our home and hearts for DJ. He is a great addition to our family.  

Tail tucked between your legs,  
Confusion in your eyes –  
I know it’s hard to understand
That someone heard your cries.  
When loneliness is all you know
And pain is all you feel
And no one can be trusted,
And hunger is all too real…
That’s the time the Lord sees you
And lets you know He’s there  
That’s when He sends His messengers
The hearts that love and car.  
Yes, rescuers are angels 
You cannot see their wings,
They keep them neatly folded
As they do their caring things.  
The medicine to make you well
Good food to make you strong.  
And finally to help you learn
That hugs are never wrong.  
The perfect place then must be found   
The home where you can live
Secure and safe and happy
With joy to get and give.  
When you reach your Forever Home,
Your place to feel whole,
The Angels smile, and off they go
To save another soul.  
author unknown

Sharing Stories, Sharing Life

“Because stories are forgotten if left untold.” unknown

Chasing white squirrels because Dad said if we caught one, we could keep it.

Providing numerous opportunities to gain an appreciation for yardwork.

The brownie scout experience.

Bike ride in Texas…we said turn LEFT!!

In my blog Keepsakes & Memories I stated…Keepsakes of your life are objects that mean something to you; symbolizing a snapshot of life that has personal meaning & enhances a sense of wellbeing.  Our keepsakes are our personal history and act as memory triggers.  My blog last week, Storytelling and Education, I stated that storytelling is about sharing experiences and ideas with others in an interactive engagement.  

The opening lines above are from memory books my sister and I made for our parents for their 60th birthdays.  We made a memory book with 60 memories for mom and one for dad.  The stories within the memory book is family history…the inside scoop/private jokes that only we know.  

There is also a story within the stories of the memory book.  While compiling the list of memories for the books I recall my sister and I would often have the same memories. The more interesting aspect of creating the list for the books was when our perspective of these same memories would differ. The resulting conversation generated more stories and memories.  Also, as we “gathered” our memories we would say to each other “I don’t remember that” which led to another story.  The stories for the books became more robust as details of our shared experiences unfolded.

Ronquillo (2018) states, “each moment in life, however mundane, can be a story worth telling, because sharing stories isn’t just about relaying information. It’s about sharing life with others…”  She continues, “the continuous telling and retelling of stories keeps bonds strong and memories alive in ways that even photographs or records can’t, because when we tell them, they grow with us.”

The memory book is a keepsake…we could forget the stories behind these lines if we leave them untold. A great family story probably does not have just one point; there are multiple layers to the meaning of each story.  Listening to and telling stories share a common history with family and friends. The outcome of sharing stories improves quality of life.  Stories are powerful tools to stimulate the mind and the body.  Sharing, reminiscing, and reflecting on the stories of your life is a collection worth exploring.

Barnier & Van Bergen (2014) state, “our memories provide a database of evidence for events we have experienced and what they mean to us.”

Here is one example of an organization helping families tell their story.

FamilySearch is a nonprofit family history organization dedicated to connecting families across generations. Their #52Stories blog includes articles such as:

Preserving Family Memories: Real Life Success Stories 

How Family Stories Shape Our Identities

Keeping the Stories of Family Heirlooms Alive

In 2016 FamilySearch provided resources with their #52 Stories project to inspire telling your story.  I share this information with my readers to show an example of how to tell your story.  

So, what’s your story????

Sports: A Spectator’s and a Fan’s Perspective

A person who watches sports is a “spectator” and/or a “fan”. A spectator is an active observer of the event.  A fan is an admirer or aficionado of the sport and often links identity to a team. Both have emotional significance, value and connectedness derived from group membership.  When watching a sport, a spectator typically refers to “the team” while a fan uses the word “we” when referring to the team.  

I became a spectator and a fan of sports
during high school. 
I was an active observer and
an admirer of these guys!!

My perspective of “watching” sports during high school was narrower than it is today. At the time, I watched as a social event and to support my classmates who were playing.  It enhanced my psychological wellbeing through the social connection with others. Identity formed from talking about the games, sharing experiences and bonding with a group. The videos produced by the Power of Football share the broader perspective of “tradition; brotherhood; moments; community. Football’s positive impact transcends communities across the U.S. — both on and off the field.” 

“There’s something special about high school football.” 
Video (1:52)

There is much written about the value of sports from the players perspective.  The literature lacks content on how spectators and fans perceive sports. Brown (2017) wrote about the influence of identity development through any level of watching sports.  Those watching sport (in person or through the media) consistently mention sense of belonging and feeling part of a group as outcomes of the experience.  Camaraderie, upholding tradition, and community pride are results when friends, neighbors and other members of the community support a sport team.

Almendraia (2017), senior reporter for Huffington Post, interviewed sports psychology professor Daniel Wann of Murray State University. Wann is the author of the book Sport Fans: The Psychology And Social Impact Of Spectators. He explains that there are two routes to feeling good through watching sports.

“One would be following a successful team, and the second would simply be identifying with them. You can get well-being benefits even if your team doesn’t succeed.  It all comes down to how community lifts our spirits and the sense of belonging-ness that increases with a group of like-minded individuals.”

Gau & James (2013) share a value-type framework associated with spectator sports. The goal of the study was to fill the gap in the literature since prior research focused on the participant rather than the spectator. In addition, the literature review found that much of the prior research investigated motivation for watching rather than personal values.

A summary of how the study participants describe
values of spectatorship

ValueDescriptors
EnjoymentExperience success & failure, relaxing, distraction for daily routine, drama of unpredictability
SociabilityInteraction focused on a common goal with friends and strangers
IdentityTeam and player identification, nationalism, parental and peer pride, and hero admiration
StatusSport is important to society so being knowledgeable and able to discuss sports improves self esteem
SpiritualFulfilling, self-satisfying, self-acceptance, vicarious sense of achievement, quest for perfection
MoralSense of fairness and integrity, empathy, discipline, courage
CognitiveStrategies, techniques, tactics, statistics and records, team history
AestheticBeauty and grace of movement, sport is an art form
RitualCeremonial aspects of sport such as tailgating and booster events, observation of athlete rituals

“It is pure escape—it provides me something to just plain enjoy or get mad at, it connects me to my friends, my neighbors, and to random strangers who feel the same pull and passion of the game.”   Becky Simon-Burton

Becoming a spectator and a fan of sports started during high school.  Today I don’t follow high school sports as much as a fan but I do embrace high school sports as a spectator by “keeping up with” local school results.  

Now I’m an avid spectator and fan of college football.  The power of football for me is that my community is across the U.S.  whether I am directly in contact with others or not. The feeling of community exists (a sense of belonging with like-minded people).

I particularly enjoy rival games (Army-Navy, Ohio State-Michigan, Oklahoma-Texas, Alabama-Auburn…to name a few) because of the tradition and camaraderie shared by players on each team and by the spectators/fans in the stands.

The values of spectatorship listed above connect with me. In most every game I watch I can easily point out examples of each value. I’m definitely a college football fan and spend a lot of time watching games…this enthusiasm to “watch” sports began in high school watching MY team play the game.  When I think back on those years…”There is no other place I’d rather be.”

I hope you enjoy the video below.

No Other Place I’d Rather Be  
(Video 2:47)