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John McCain’s Farewell August 27, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, People.
16 comments

“My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

“Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

“I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.

“I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes – liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people – brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

“‘Fellow Americans’ – that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

“We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.

“Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening.

I feel it powerfully still.

“Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

“Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.”

Aah . . . that’s better!

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Wanted: Optimists August 21, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness.
19 comments

C’mon, get happy!

Stop focusing on the 24/7 doom & gloom news feed and savor something fun:

There’s one problem with the pessimist’s perspective: it’s wrong.

That negative dystopian soup is an illusion, the result of an unfortunate collision between a 24/7 news cycle and the brain’s tendency to hone in on any possible danger and ignore everything else.

Overall, things on planet Earth are pretty good — or at least, in many ways, they’ve never been better. No country in the world has a lower life expectancy now than the countries with the highest life expectancies in 1800. More people around the world believe in gender equality than ever before, and more value religious freedom. Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labor and infant mortality are all on the decline.

Humanity has made enormous progress by almost every measure, but that progress has become the water in which we swim, and like fish, we take the water for granted. We focus on the beasts that are still out there in the deep rather than on those we have tamed because that’s what we’re designed to do.

As neuropsychologist Rick Hanson described in his 2013 book Hardwired for Happiness, our brains naturally put greater emphasis on the negative. “Just a handful of painful experiences of futility can rapidly become a sense of helplessness,” he writes, while “most good news has little or no effect on lasting memory systems in the brain.”

In other words, it’s natural to let the bad news overwhelm us. Fortunately, with practice, we can help our brains to give the good stuff equal weight. Dr. Hanson’s advice: when you hear a great story, achieve something in your own life or just find yourself in a beautiful place with those you love, deliberately rest your mind on that experience and stay with it.

Sink into that feeling, he writes, “as it sinks into you.” Describe what you’re doing to your kids, and encourage then to dwell on their joys and pleasures as well.

To read more:  How to Raise Optimistic Kids in Pessimistic Times (Times)

Aah . . . that’s better!

Providing Perspective August 11, 2018

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

Life is not half bad.

Yes, I know that POTUS + Power are NOT perfect together.

And I know that wildfires are raging out of control, earthquakes are shaking things up in Indonesia, and global warming is wreaking havoc on the ice caps and glaciers (unless, of course, you are convinced that that’s all Fake News in which case God Bless You).

But I still say that “Life is not half bad.”

Why?

Because of what I just learned about the Black Plague.

A few facts (that may or may not be entirely accurate, but could be) excerpted from Philip Ziegler’s classic account of the Black Death, aptly entitled The Black Death . . . (as recounted by Bill Bryson in his humorous travelogue, aptly entitled Neither Here Nor There ~ Travels in Europe):

*Half the population of Florence Italy (roughly 100,000) lost their lives in just 4 months.

To put that in perspective, think about waking up 4 months from now (on New Years Day, say) to find one half of your street, neighborhood, town, or city dead.  As a doornail.  Like Marley of A Christmas Carol fame.

Not an auspicious start to the New Year, eh?

*Milan reacted to the news swiftly ~> families suspected of harboring a plague victim were walled up inside their homes.  Definitely a solution designed to add to the death toll.

As Bill Bryson put it:

“There’s nothing like reading about people being entombed alive to put your own problems in perspective.  I tend to think of life as bleak when I can’t find a parking space at the supermarket, but imagine what it must have been to be an Italian in the fourteenth century.  For a start, in 1345 it rained nonstop for six months, turning much of the country into a stagnant lake and making planting impossible.  The economy collapsed, banks went bust, and thousands died in the ensuing famines.  Two years later the country was rocked with terrible earthquakes ~ in Rome, Naples, Pisa, Padua, and Venice ~ which brought more death and chaos.  And then, just when people were surely thinking that things had to get better now, some anonymous sailor stepped ashore at Genoa and said, “You know, I don’t feel so hot,” and within days the great plague was beginning its long sweep across Europe.” (p.181-82)

Perspective is everything.

We are HERE and it is NOW.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Birthdays Are Good For You! July 14, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Joke.
21 comments

* About the only thing that comes to us without effort is old age.

* Looking fifty is great . . . if you’re sixty. ~ Joan Rivers

* Despite medical advances, there is still no cure for the common birthday.

* Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened. ~ Cora Harvey Armstrong

Tigger-Pogo

* Birthdays are good for you ~ the more you have, the longer you live.

* A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday, but never her age. ~ Robert Frost

* Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative. ~ Maurice Chevalier

* If I’d known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself. ~ Ubie Blake

Tigger-Bouncing

* Just remember, once you’re over the hill you begin to pick up speed.

* A man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ~ Muhammad Ali

* No wise man ever wished to be younger. ~ Jonathan Swift

Aah . . . that’s better!

Prana Flows & Flows July 5, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Meditation, Mindfulness.
12 comments

Taking time to breathe
Balancing effort and ease
Prana flows and flows

Aah . . . that’s better!

A Man of Few Words May 23, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Gratitude, Happiness, People.
17 comments

My grandfather in Vermont was a man of few words.

Tacked on to a newsy birthday card from my grandmother was a note from my grandfather:

“A Happy Birthday.  Of course.  Grandpa.”

Margaret & Walter at my parents' wedding, 1955

Despite the lack of verbal acknowledgment, I never doubted my grandfather’s love for me.

Among other things, at cocktail hour, while the adults enjoyed adult beverages, grandpa would fix me a “kiddy cocktail” (fizzy ginger ale that tickled my nose, complete with cherry).

Some things require no words!

C'est Moi!

Aah . . . that’s better!

NEST Education Center March 5, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Nature, Travel & Leisure.
23 comments

Robinson Preserve is expanding . . .

Two weeks ago, we had a chance to enjoy a sneak peak of its new NEST (Nature, Exploration, Science, Technology) Education Center . . .

NEST is an elevated treehouse with a rooftop cupola . . .

Complete with slide (for emergency egress) . . .

And rope ladder (for ingress and egress) . . .

The facility has a wrap around deck . . .

Overlooking the native vegetation . . .

Including this nifty specimen . . .

Even the restrooms have a bird’s eye view of the preserve . . .

The NEST is surrounded by 150 acres of the Robinson Preserve expansion, which, when completed, will include canoe and kayak launches, mangrove islands, a 5k track, a jogging and walking trail, freshwater ponds for a sport fish nursery, restored wetlands and a connection to the existing preserve.

While there, we wandered the new trails . . .

Admired the views . . .

Took in the new bridges which will connect the walking/jogging trail to the bicycle path . . .

In due course, our lengthening shadows told us it was time to leave . . .

Can’t wait to head back . . .

Aah . . . that’s better!

Two New-To-Me Heirlooms January 11, 2018

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Home & Garden, Humor.
24 comments

I acquired two additional family heirlooms for safe-keeping this year.

The first is this handsome dictionary stand built by my maternal grandfather who had a way with wood . . . and words!  I enjoyed dressing it up for the holidays.

The second is this rustic 2-drawer pine table built by my Great Uncle Lee ~ my paternal grandmother’s brother.  When I open the drawer and inhale, pleasant scents associated with visits to Vermont permeate the air.

I also enjoyed decking it out for the holidays with Santas from around the world, Frosty’s hat (which I have for safe-keeping), and some humorous reptiles created by my niece Sarah.

Aah . . . that’s better!

All The Best In 2018! January 1, 2018

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

May the best ye hae ivver seen be the warst ye’ll ivver see.
May the moose ne’er lea’ yer girnal wi a tear-drap in its ee.
May ye aye keep hail an hertie till ye’r auld eneuch tae dee.
May ye aye juist be sae happie as A wuss ye aye tae be.

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The above, in translation, reads:

May the best you have ever seen be the worst you will ever see.
May the mouse never leave your grain store with a tear drop in its eye.
May you always stay hale and hearty until you are old enough to die.
May you still be as happy as I always wish you to be.

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All the best in 2018!

Season’s Greetings! December 25, 2017

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Less IS More, Life Balance.
19 comments

May your holidays be Merry & Bright . . . filled with Love Laughter & Light.

Aah . . . that’s better!