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“Ready, Aim, FIRE!” April 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Travel & Leisure, Life Lessons, Special Events.
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11 comments

Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

Dad enjoyed his assigned rifle even though “all spare time has to be used to keep our rifles clean.”  In a letter to Aunt Pete and Uncle Webb:

“The rifle is really nice.  It takes an 8-shot clip which can be fired as fast as the trigger can be pulled.  When the 8th shot is fired, the clip is thrown out and the gun remains open ready for another clip to be inserted.  The peep sight has adjustments for both windage and elevation.”

In a letter to his dad at the end of July:

“We have been having more lectures on the rifle.  We spent four hours on adjusting our sights for elevation and windage.  They showed us how to determine the velocity of the wind, how the direction of the wind could be taken into account.  When Garrand invented this rifle, he did a darn good job.”

A highlight of basic training for dad, who had gone deer hunting in Vermont each fall, involved qualifying on the rifle range as an expert on the M1 semi-automatic rifle.  He enjoyed his time on the rifle range, despite having to rise early.  In a letter to his father dated August 5th:

“We are on the rifle range for a few days.  We get up at 2:45 and have reveille at 3:00.  We don’t come back from range till 7:00 P.M.  Then we have to clean equipment.  We will shoot 200, 300, 500 yards.”

Wikipedia ~ Basic Training (in Public Domain)

Two days later:

“We have had 3 days on the range firing the Garrand semi-automatic rifle (M1).  Today we started firing for record.  We use a 20-inch bulls eye at 500 yards, which is over one quarter of a mile.  I got 5 bulls eyes and 3 4′s which gave me 37 out of 40.”

“At 300 yards, I had 51 seconds to drop from standing to prone position, fire one shot, take clip from cartridge belt, reload and fire 8 more rounds. Out of the 9 shots, I got 5 bulls eyes, 2 4′s and 2 3′s, which totals 39 out of 45.”

“As a total of all my shooting for record I have 109 out of a possible 125 so far.  Tomorrow I will fire 17 more shots from 200 yards ~ a maximum score of 85 points.  We need 180 for expert, 165 for sharpshooter, and 140 for marksman.  It’s time for light’s out so I will finish tomorrow night when I can tell you how I qualified.”

The next night, he finished the letter with good news:

“We finished our time on the rifle range this morning.  Last night, I was a little doubtful whether I could make expert or not.  It meant getting 71 out of 85 points today.  I made it with 3 to spare ~ I got 74 out of 85. My total on record fire was 183 out of 210. That qualifies me as expert.”

“Nine of the shots I fired today were sustained fire (rapid fire).  It was another 51 second exercise.  I had to be standing, go to a sitting position, fire 1 round, insert new clip and fire 8 more.  Of the nine, I got 6 bulls eyes and 3 4′s for a total of 42 out of 45.  Out of the 42 shots fired for record, I got 19 bulls eyes, 19 4′s, and 4 3′s.  Better than I can shoot a 22.”

“Tomorrow morning will be a relief after getting up at 2:45.  We don’t have to get up until 5:00.  Next week we have bayonet drill.  They say that is a hard week, but it looks like fun.  I really should catch up on some sleep.  After all I have had only 5 hours of sleep per night for the last four nights.  Now for the sack.”

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A few days later, on August 10th, he shared an abbreviated version of his qualification experience with Aunt Lucy:

“This week we spent most of our time firing the M1 rifle at targets 200, 300, and 500 yards away. I did pretty good.  We needed 140 to get qualified as marksman, 165 to qualify as sharpshooter and 180 to qualify as expert.  I had 183, so made expert.  I feel pretty good about it.  I really didn’t expect to do nearly that good.

“As of today my training here is half over.  I have finished four of the eight weeks of training.  So far it hasn’t been bad except for the heat. This weekend I have a pass which allows me to go anywhere within 100 miles of the fort as long as I am back by 5 o’clock Monday morning.  I think I may take advantage of it.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Concludes tomorrow . . . “We Rest Here”

Can’t Stand The Heat? Get IN The Kitchen April 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Life Lessons, Travel & Leisure.
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12 comments

Dad enlisted in the Army and reported for duty on June 27, 1946, at age 18.

His enlistment, at the end of his first year at Northeastern University, coincided with the end of World War II, just before the Korean War.

During free time, he enjoyed playing cards, buying drinks at the service club, going to the movies (“to take advantage of the $.15 tickets”), and getting to know his fellow enlistees.

“Tonight I am down at the service club.  They furnish stationary, desks, etc.  They have a nice restaurant and also a soda bar here.  There is a large room with easy chairs that would equal a very nice hotel lobby. They also have pool tables and ping pong tables.  I am down with two other fellows, both from Massachusetts.  We ate in the restaurant to see what it was like to avoid the mess hall of our company.”

“Right near the service club is the post library.  It has a lot of good books and most of the latest magazines.  It really wasn’t any hardship not to get a pass this weekend.  I am going to stop now and drink some milk that we bought here at the service club.  That is one thing the army doesn’t serve much of here.  They say it would make us sick on the kind of work that we are doing.  P.S. I really do not dislike the army.  Of course there are moments that are a little disgusting.”

Dad took advantage of the post library rather than getting a weekend pass to go into town (especially after being told that “there are more soldiers there than anything else”).  In a letter to his dad at the end of July:

“I have taken a book from the library on sea navigation and have been studying it during spare time.  I’m still glad that I enlisted and think that I will be a lot farther ahead at the end of one year and a half.”

In a letter to his dad, dated July 26th, he recounted some of the challenges of basic training:

“Just a few lines tonight.  I drew my first K.P. since I hit Fort McClellan. Tomorrow, instead of getting up at 5:15 as usual, I will have to get up at 4:30.  I get off at 7:30 P.M.  I think that it will keep me from having to stand inspection.

“The training has been pretty tiring, mostly on account of the heat.  I don’t have access to a thermometer, but one of the sgts said that it was 127 degrees F yesterday noon.  After marching, standing, and running the obstacle course in that all afternoon we didn’t care much whether we had supper or not.  After I cooled off I was hungry enough though.”

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Dad ~ Top Right

A few days later, in a postcard to his step-mother, Margaret, he concluded with: “The life here is really pretty easy.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Continued tomorrow . . . “Ready, Aim, FIRE!”

3 Easy Ways to Better Days March 10, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Mindfulness.
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34 comments

Tigger-Bouncing1.  The easiest way to have a better day . . . mindful moments.

Press the PAUSE button and check in with your surroundings ~ what do you see, smell, hear, feel, taste, touch, and sense?

Claim the Moment.  Notice what’s happening.

Put your To Do list aside for a moment and Be Here Now:

* If you’re eating, taste your food.
* If you’re listening to music or nature, hear the notes.
* If you’re peeling an orange or spy a rose, smell the fragrance.
* If you’re walking, notice the miracle of movement.

Tigger-PogoOur best days are filled with mindful moments when we’re not pulled into the past, pushed into the future, or lost in thought.

We start to “notice the good” and stop taking it for granted.

We’re inspired to make more of the moments of the days of the weeks of the years of our life.

2.  Allow your Inner Tigger to surface, pull up a chair, and stay awhile.  

Tigger-Looking-At-His-TailOh, who am I kidding?

Tiggers are way too busy bouncing and giggling to pull up a chair.

You’ll have to pull it up for him.

But remember, you can lead a Tigger to a seat, but you cannot make him sit.

3.  Create space for what matters.  Have a family game night.  Award prizes.  Go for a picnic in the park or a walk on the beach.  Play on the playground or toss a Frisbee around.  Organize a theme night for dinner ~ exotic costumes optional.  Have a talent show.  Tell jokes.  Laugh.  Have fun!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Think back to the best days in your life.  What made them so special?

Related posts:  Moment by Moment (Mindful Balance) * How to Stop your Mind from Talking all the Time (Raptitude)

Behind The Clouds February 27, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Nature.
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26 comments

Bunnies always make me smile.  As do tiny tots, especially when they laugh.

Sometimes the smallest thing reminds us that the world is ripe for picking:

* a fragrant orange entices our taste buds

* a songbird’s trill resonates at our core

* a blank sheet of paper invites insights

“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.” ~ Charles Dickens

Pulled into the Now by our senses, we remember . . .

The sun is always shining somewhere behind the clouds.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Seven Wonders of the World (Grannymar)

Image:  Wikipedia ~ Peter Rabbit (in Public Domain)

A Double “A Ha!” Moment February 23, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness.
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40 comments

Mickey-OKYears ago, I cracked open a fortune cookie and pulled out a fortune:

“You will live a happy and peaceful life.”

Yes! 

I taped it to the top of my alarm clock where I would see it each morning as I smacked the Snooze Button into submission at the false start to another “peaceful day.”

Flash forward more than a dozen years . . .

This week, as I pondered the goal-setting advice in Do It!  Let’s Get Off Our Buts by Peter McWilliams, I had an epiphany ~ a double “a ha!” moment:

1.   I want a happy and peaceful life.  Contrary to evidence to the contrary, my desire for peace and quiet reflection is NOT holding me back from achieving my Dream(s) . . . my desire for peace IS my Dream!

2.  I am living my Dream.  When I act as captain of my ship, I am happy, peaceful, calm, relaxed, here, now, etc.  My life has balance.  It is only when I allow others to “steer my ship” that the waters get a bit choppy.

As I skimmed through exercises, advice, and a plethora of great quotes, I found this nugget on p. 457 of Do It!  Let’s Get Off Our Buts:

To fulfill our Dream, we need only examine our life and do two things:

1.  More of what works.
2.  Less of what doesn’t.

Exactly!

So, I’ve decided to “clear the decks.”  Anything that “doesn’t work” will be tossed overboard. Excepting the cat, of course.  Unnecessary ballast drags us down faster than a bloated anchor no matter how much wind fills our sails.   We travel best when we travel light.  

Once the extraneous has been cleared away, I’ll load the hull with more of what “does work” ~ laughter, joy, peace, calm awareness, compassion, kindness, exercise (walking, biking, swimming), inspirational books & movies (and blogs!), good food, chocolate, music, writing, simplicity, time for reflection and meditation, and anything else that sparks an interest.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Lack of motivation (to “get off our buts”) may stem from fear, guilt, anger, unworthiness, laziness, etc.  Or our lack of motivation might mean we are content where and how and who we are.

Eat when hungry, sleep when tired . . . move when restless.

Related Post:  Is It Really Important? (Awakening to Awareness)

The Fruit of Friendship February 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Life Balance, People.
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24 comments

Tiggers-R-UsFriendship is a fluid concept, changing as we change.

At its most basic, I would define friendship as a “mutually rewarding relationship” ~ a give and take, fueled by reciprocity and generosity.

Friendships blossom in comfortable silences and shared smiles.

Friends don’t all offer us the same thing.  We may have different friends for different reasons (and seasons):

* Some lighten our load when we’ve had enough.
* Others make us laugh.
* Some offer a shoulder to cry on and bring us soup when we’re sick.
* Others tease us and remind us not to take ourselves too seriously.
* Some are trusted confidantes.
* Others share our love of art, music, dance, books.

The occasional few do ALL those things (and more).  These keepers, like Hobbes, become our BFFs ~ Best Friends Forever.

Friendships ripen over time, developing depth of character with age.  They improve our journey, no matter the length of the road.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Thoughts on Friendship (Lisa A. Kramer)

Gratitude is Gratuitous, not Fortuitous February 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Mindfulness.
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35 comments

An attitude of gratitude is gratuitous, not fortuitous.  It does not happen by chance, but by choice.

We choose our focus and fill our coffers.

What we focus on expands, crowding out niggling doubts, reminding us that simple pleasures are life’s treasures.  

Think about the good that surrounds you, here and now.  Gratitude magnifies happiness.

Fortune smiles on us when we smile on it.

* It’s not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness. ~ Charles Spurgeon

* There is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings. ~ J. Robert Moskin

* We can only live happily-ever-after on a moment by moment basis.

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Sifting through our 2013 Gratitude Jar put us in a GREAT mood as we recalled all the things we’d enjoyed.

For 2014, we swapped our Gratitude Jar for a Gratitude Basket ~ it’s BIGGER to hold even more good stuff.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you ever kept a Gratitude Journal or set up a Gratitude Jar?  With what results?

Related post:  An Appreciation Jar (Pocket Perspectives)

Walking The Streets Like Beggars February 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Mindfulness.
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24 comments

Donald-Duck-LazyUnhappiness often arises from holding on to the past or worrying about the future.

Awareness has healing power.  

Simply watch your thoughts, relax, and allow them to drift away . . . as darkness gives way to light.

* You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~ Buddha

Observe your breath and it will slow down.  Follow your breath.  Become calm and centered.  Allow your thoughts to settle down.

Measure your success by the degree of PEACE you feel.

IMGP2577c

* Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly. ~ St. Francis de Sales

If you are not happy, you have disconnected yourself from your true self.

* Many of us are millionaires walking the streets like beggars because we’ve forgotten we have untold wealth within.

To tap into pure being, follow your breath.  Let go of fear.  Step into love.

Aah . . . that’s better!

26 Things To Keep In Mind February 9, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Mindfulness.
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32 comments

IMGP1472aHere are 26 Really Important Things to Keep in Mind while developing the habit of focusing on the positives:

1. Acceptance of the “what is”

2. Balance

3. Compassion

4. Delight

5. Enthusiasm

6. Forgiveness

7. Gratitude

8. Health & Wellness

9. Inspiration

IMGP2751b10. Joy

11. Kindness

12. Love

13. Mindfulness & Meditation

14. Nature

15. Observing the NOW as it is

16. Peace & Patience

17. Questioning (with alert curiosity)

18. Relaxation & Breathing

_0001c19. Stillness & Serenity

20. Tranquility

21. Uplifting thoughts

22. Visualization

23. Well-being

24. Xanadu

25. Your purpose & passion

26. Zen Wisdom

Aah . . . that’s better!

What would YOU add to the list?

“It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.” ~ Rene Descartes

Related reading:  How To Be Happy Right Now (Gems of Delight)

No, No . . . NOT the Negative! February 6, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
Tags: , , , ,
40 comments

Chinaman-fishingAssume for a moment that something’s happened to “rock your boat.”

Let’s call IT the “what is.”

For purposes of this discussion, it doesn’t much matter if someone cut you off in traffic (or mid-sentence), called you names on the playground, stole your lunch money, or died.

The “what is” is.

IT happened.  And, like much of life, IT is out of your control.  IT cannot be changed.  The question becomes:  How are you going to respond to IT?

How you relate to IT is the issue.

“Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.” ~ Simone Weil

The-Pink-Panther“To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.” ~ Miguel de Unamuno

How we feel about life depends on where we place our focus.

If we get in the habit of focusing on the negatives, life is a dark and dingy place.

If we turn our attention to what is “right” with life, we find ample evidence that life is light and bright.

Focusing on the positives does not mean that we ignore warning signs and symptoms.  We note them, decide on a course of action, and then turn our attention to other matters without dwelling or obsessing on the negative.

Exercise-SunsetA strong positive attitude helps us overcome challenges and bounce back from adversity.

We become strong by stretching our muscles and daily repetition.

If we don’t use a muscle (including our funny bone chakra), we lose it.  It atrophies (and so do we).

“Do not take life too seriously.  You will never get out of it alive.” ~ Elbert Hubbard”

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

Gymnastics

If you want more joy in your life, start now.

Do whatever you’re doing with more joy.  Even if you are peeling potatoes, dusting the living room, or cleaning the toilet.

“There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction.” ~ Salvador Dali

Go easy/easier on yourself and others.  Practice acceptance, patience, simplicity, forgiveness, and gratitude.

Scruffy-Cat“If at first you don’t succeed you’re running about average.” ~ M.H. Alderson

“What a wonderful life I’ve had!  I only wish I’d realized it sooner.” ~ Colette

Find peace with the “what is” . . . whatever IT is.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Yesterday, BFF and I had a 2nd Blog Meet Up with Pix and CH from the Tiny Ten in Missouri (Sweet Days Under The Oaks).  Pix met Tigger for the 1st time and found him to be a happy little guy.  (Much happier than the scruffy cat in the avatar above.)

After giving Tigger a treat and a pat on the head, we swung by a Clyde Butcher exhibit at the Studio at Gulf and Pine where we spied a photograph offered for sale at . . . $130,000!  We didn’t buy it.  We popped into the AMI Historical Museum and wandered the Anna Maria Pier before returning to the villa for Heavenly Cupcakes and Wine Time!  A Fine Time.

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