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Does Santa Make Kids Selfish? December 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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44 comments

Xmas-CatThe training of new consumers begins on Santa’s lap. Ho~Ho~Ho!

And continues in front of the TV as animated ads from Toys ‘R Us ask . . . “What’re ya gonna get? What’re ya gonna get? What’re ya gonna get?”

We are programming kids to become greedy meanies.

For an eye opening look at how Santa’s questions frame responses and keep the materialistic spiral going:

But all is not lost.

Once Santa shifts his script from getting to giving . . . the kids opt to give the larger piece of chocolate away.

Aah . . . that’s better!

A Bolt of Lightning December 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fiction, Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance.
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88 comments

2014-11-30 13-50-44_0013Joan flipped through sales flyers for the mall, planning her attack for Black Friday.  The front door slammed with insistence.

“M-O-M!  Christmas is ruined!”

“What?”

“The mall exploded!  It got hit by lightning and a generator blew up. It’s closed until January.”

“January?”

“Yes!  Christmas is ruined!”

“Calm down . . . there’s always Cyber Monday.”

“Ugh.  I hate on-line shopping.  No pushing.  No shoving.  No lines.”

Joan smiled at her daughter.  “And worst of all . . . no food court!”

Cathy collapsed into a chair.  “I’m going to go into serious sugar withdrawal without my weekly Cinnabon!”

Tossing the flyers into recycling, Joan stood.  “Don’t worry.  We’ll think of something.”

Joan found her husband tinkering at his workbench. “Paul, the mall has closed in a puff of smoke.”

“So I heard.”

“You did?”

“Yup.  I heard Cathy’s concerns about Christmas and Cinnabons loud and clear.”

santa0001

“What are we going to do?”

“About?”

“Are you daft?  Shopping.  Gifts. Christmas.  Ringing any bells?”

Paul caught Joan’s gaze. “Let’s make hand-made gifts.”

“You have sawdust for brains.”

“Hear me out.  Instead of poring over flyers, hunting for parking spots, and lugging piles of stuff home, let’s create gifts from the heart.  I’ll make wooden trains, planes, and puzzles for the kids. And a pipe rack for your dad.”

“What about me?”

“Your friends would love your homemade fudge or toffee . . . or one of your famous Grand Marnier cakes. You could make your mom that wreath she’s wanted.”

Warming to the idea, Joan returned to the kitchen and grabbed her recipe file.

IMGP0736

Soon delicious aromas circulated, mingling with carols.  As fragrant cakes baked, Joan created a starfish and sand dollar wreath for her mom, scented candles for her sister, and an afghan for Cathy.

Paul spent hours in his workshop emulating Santa’s elves.  Sawdust flying.

Cathy mastered the art of the Cinnabon.

Instead of waiting for the Big Day, Joan, Paul, and Cathy delivered treats to delighted friends throughout December.

Christmas morning, Cathy served fresh home-baked Cinnabons to her parents and grandparents.

Between bites, Joan grinned at Paul, “Hey, sawdust for brains! That was some bolt of lightning.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Written for Susanna’s 4th Annual Holiday Contest.  Entries accepted through 12/12.  Complete rules and other Merry & Bright Submissions ~> HERE.

2014-12-01 14-10-09_0014

Joan’s famous Grand Marnier Bundt Cake:

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup Grand Marnier (or other orange liqueur)
4 eggs
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and mix well, about 5 minutes, with an electric mixer or whisk.  Pour into a well-greased and floured fluted Bundt pan (or 10-inch tube pan).  Bake in pre-heated 325 degree oven for about 50 minutes.  

OPTIONAL: Drizzle with Grand Marnier glaze or sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.  NOTE:  Cake Freezes well before topping.

Giving Thanks To Promote Giving December 4, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Mindfulness, People.
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36 comments

devious-hobbesMy e-mail box has been FLOODED with four types of messages this past week:

* Black Friday Sales Flyers
* Cyber Monday Sales Flyers
* Thanks Giving Thanksgiving Missives from Non-Profits
* “Giving Tuesday” pleas . . . please!

Black Friday Sales have overflowed the banks of traditional brick and mortar storefronts to infiltrate automobile advertisements, performing arts centers, and even the Smithsonian Museum.  Most are dispatched without whetting my appetite to Buy More.

The same goes for most of the Cyber Monday Sales Flyers.

That’s the great thing about cyber trash . . . No Residue.

Most Thanks Giving Missives received on Thanksgiving seem designed with manipulation in mind.

The-Pink-PantherAlma maters, non-profits, restaurants, charities, and businesses give thanks for past giving (encouraging us to bask in the glow of their “sincere” appreciation for past support) before asking us (in almost the same cyber breath) to reach into our piggy banks, wallets, and IRA’s to provide them with continued support.

Maybe it’s just me being cynical, but I tend to question the sincerity of Thanks given with a plea for me to Give More.

Especially when it’s followed up with “Giving Tuesday” pleas to “please give!”

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  I Hate This Time of Year Rant (Crowing Crone Joss)

How We Plan To Spend The Holidays November 29, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Special Events.
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32 comments

15ff2004-4

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quaint Colloquialisms November 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Life Balance, Life Lessons, Word Play.
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33 comments

Pooh-With-MailbagAs I read through my grandfather’s letters, his occasional turn of phrase made me grin.

For example, instead of calling someone a jerk (or worse), you might point out that they are “trying to be a bit odd” . . .

* 12/4/55 ~ Following his retirement from post office after 30+ years of service, my grandfather shared:

I am having some little fuss over the records but feel it can be cleaned up. Both Tim and Armond are trying to be a bit odd.

I bought a 160# quarter of beef. Have it hanging down stairs. I hope we continue to eat anyway.

As a pragmatist, my grandfather obviously felt that if you didn’t starve, you were doing alright.  Here’s another example along the same lines:

* 1/1/57 ~ “I read The Bible As History and a notorious new book with a local background across the river from White River ~ Peyton Place.  The author’s husband lost his teaching job in a N.H. High School over the book.  He got another job and did not starve.”

Mickey-OK

And he dished up some good dope:

* 9/14/57 ~ “About the weekend of 25-26: I want to give you some dope on that.

* 11/26/61 ~ “So life goes on and it is foolish to brood over the mistakes we made.”

* 9/20/62 ~ “Don’t work too hard. I don’t if I can dodge it.”

He was happy to be needed . . . or not:

* 7/22/66 ~ “Margaret has gone slumming.  An Art Exhibit in Hanover and some shopping.  I did not seem necessary ~ happily.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Practical Resilience November 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Joke, Life Lessons.
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41 comments

Our hearts, like eggs, are fragile.

However, even when broken open, infinite possibilities await.

We can collapse into a pool of tears, become hard-boiled (or scrambled) by the ways of the world, or emerge sunny-side up.

get-attachment

Aah . . . that’s better!

Even The Grin Of An Ordinary Guru October 23, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Health & Wellness, Humor.
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35 comments
Cheshire_Cat_Tenniel

Happy Birthday to my Ordinary Guru

Life often conspires to teach us what we need to know.

Some lessons seem negative because our vantage point is limited.

We are lost in the trees.

Once we move farther along the path, we see more of the forest.  Our changed vantage point provides clarity.

With expanded cognition, we find that the “negative events” we resisted resulted in valuable lessons and navigational aids:

* Perhaps we learned to be patient and allow life to unfold.

* Or we shifted our perspective from malignant thoughts of certain doom to benign thoughts of light and laughter.

* Maybe we gained proficiency with a valuable life skill, such as living in the midst of uncertainty without gravitating to worst case scenarios, wild imaginings, and dire predictions.

Anything, even the grin of an Ordinary Guru, can be a nudge in the right direction.

A shortcut to becoming who were were always meant to be.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Acupuncture ~ A Jab Well Done October 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Health & Wellness, Life Balance, Nature.
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48 comments

Acupuncture Meridians, in Public Domain (Source: Wikipedia)

Ever since I practiced law, I’ve stored stress in my neck.  And the weight of the world on my shoulders.

In 2013, I tried chiropractic therapy and had regular deep tissue massages to relieve the pain.  Both provided temporary relief, at best.  I would feel better for a few days before the pain returned at its previous level of intensity.

This past Spring, we went to a lecture at the library on Acupuncture.  The DOM (Doctor of Oriental Medicine) asked for volunteers for a quick demo.

I agreed to be a guinea pig, open minded, not expecting any real relief.

She stuck 8-10 needles in me ~ from my feet to my neck.  Twenty minutes later, she pulled them out.

And my neck felt . . . Better.  Looser.  Lighter.

The relief continued unabated for the next 3 weeks.  My neck felt better than it had in decades.

Now I’m a believer!

Acupuncture ~ in Public Domain (Source: Wikipedia)

Acupuncture dissolved a 25-year-old energy block and allowed the Chi to flow.

We found an acupuncturist on the island and BFF had similar success with his long-standing lower back pain.

After 2 months of once a week visits, we now see Tricia (also a D.O.M.) once every 3-4 weeks. And our insurance covers it.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Have you ever considered trying acupuncture?

Related post:  Listen To Your Body, It’s Listening To You (Find Your Middle Ground)

Choose Happiness September 15, 2014

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

We can choose to be happier by changing the focus of our day-to-day thoughts.

Like any skill worth having, changing the way we look at the world will not happen on its own.

We don’t learn to swim, or speak French, or play golf by wishing we had those skills.  We learn those skills by practicing them until we become adept.

If we wish to change our minds, it helps to understand a few key concepts:

1. Thoughts create our reality.  

When we dwell on past hurts and frustrations, our thoughts and emotions are apt to be negative ~ sadness, anger, and resistance fill our world.  When we count our blessings and envision a positive future, our thoughts and emotions tend to follow suit, increasing the level of our happiness.

Sometimes nothing needs to change but our perspective or frame of reference.

2. We can choose the way we view the world.

Our thoughts are tools which help or hinder us as we journey through life.

When we learn to view the thoughts running through our brains in the same way we view images on a TV or computer screen, we realize we can change the channel any time we don’t like the program being broadcast.

Watching the same tearful melodrama for days (or years) is like watching a sad movie over and over again.  Instead of watching stale reruns, we can reclaim the remote, switch channels, and watch more positive and uplifting fare.

Monitoring our thoughts allows us to re-program the default setting on our remotes and trains our brain to broadcast shows that are worth watching.

3. It’s hard to stop thinking about pink elephants. 

If we’re told not to think about pink elephants, the image of a pink elephant is apt to appear, front and center. Telling ourselves to stop thinking about pink elephants is an exercise in futility.

Instead, like training a teething puppy, we must give our minds something else to chew on:  planning our next vacation, writing out a grocery list, playing Sudoku, making weekend plans.

Better still, we can do something:  Read a book.  Watch a movie.  Fly a kite.  Ride a bike. Paint a picture.  Take a hike.  Send a note.  Float a boat. Feed a goat.  Dig a moat. Phone a friend.

One of the best ways to distance ourselves from the habit of negative thinking is by distracting ourselves with a dose of positivity.

4. Emotions follow our thoughts, not vice versa.

Think sad, feel sad.  Think mad, feel mad.  Think glad, feel glad.

As we tune into the ticker tape of monkey chatter racing through our mental corridors, we notice emotions as they arise ~ e.g., a flicker of annoyance.  We take a mindful peek at our thoughts to see if they are true, helpful, kind, etc.

If not, as is often the case, we switch channels to a more positive broadcast.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  A Simple Choice

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.  By being happy we sow anonymous benefits upon the world.~ Robert Louis Stevenson

When I Am Well Rested . . . September 14, 2014

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

IMGP3523bSleep and present moment awareness go a long way toward making sure we focus on what matters most to us.

When I am well-rested, I am happy, enthusiastic, upbeat, positive, and at peace.  I exude joy!

I slept LATE
(Til half past nine)
It felt GREAT
Sleep is divine!

In the flow of life, I remember to eat right, remain mindful, and get daily exercise.

Expanding my happiness still further.

I enjoy life, relax, and overflow with vitality and gratitude . . . and all that positivity spills out on those around me.

When I am well-rested, I remain awake and aware.  I avoid getting thrown off kilter by the every pothole in the path:

“A stable mind is like the hub of a wheel. The world may spin around you, but the mind is steady.”

Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja (BKS) Iyengar

Scruffy-CatIn contrast, when I’m overtired and forget to stay in the NOW, I’m cranky and irritable and the toxic sludge of negativity keeps me from “going with the flow.”

Things slip through the cracks until, exhausted from struggling against the current, I go back to Step One and get some sleep.

Aah Morpheus . . .that’s better!

Related post:  Sleep, Beautiful Elusive Sleep (Views and Mews by Coffee Kat)

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