Welcome! This site is an endeavor to spread an attitude of positive thinking and optimism. By searching for joy and beauty in all things - even the mundane, perhaps a smile will spread from my computer ... to you!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

"Candy Corn, Wax Lips, and Pixie-Sticks" (original publish date: Oct. 31, 2009)

Ah, the memories: Trick-Or-Treating in the neighborhoods we grew up in; costumes we bought - or costumes we made (usually at the last minute!); parties and Fall festivals; visiting our first "haunted" house; begging our moms to buy our favorite candy to hand out to our friends, but finding out later that the begging didn't do any good - our parents always bought their favorite!

What I find extremely funny is that now I'm doing the same thing! This morning while doing a little grocery-shopping, I found myself in the just-for-Halloween-candy-aisle, searching through what was left of all the sugar-coated, chocolate-coated, individually wrapped, bags of goodies. Of course I wasn't alone, and peeking out of the corner of my eye I happened to notice that the other three or four adults standing in that section were all middle-aged (like me). Surprised that none of us standing there had any kids roaming about, I could only assume that those parents of younger children had already prepared and purchased their treats and were (wisely) at home making their final preparations for an evening of fun with their families.

Did you ever notice how just standing in a candy aisle, with your mouth watering over all those sweet, gooey, delicious selections could bring back a host of childhood memories? I still enjoy sitting around with friends and family comparing the favorites we loved as kids: fake candy cigarettes (which our mother's abhorred), Pixie-Sticks, wax soda-bottles, wax lips, wax teeth, the (nasty) gum that came with the baseball cards, Zotz, Pop-Rocks, various bubble-gum and candy-bars...I'm sure we can all add to the list! It's really no coincidence when you think about it, how so many of our fondest memories (especially those of our childhood) contain a thought or two centering around candy. Whether it's digging through the trick-or-treat bags, pulling out our favorites and hiding them for later so that no-one else (or the kids!) can swipe it, or just having enough change in our pocket for that favorite candy-bar in the check-out line, candy holds a very special place in every one's heart.

A dentist's worst night-mare and a mother's last resort for bribery, a small piece of candy or chocolate can be an intense instrument of persuasion or "drug" (if you will). Depending on your "flavor" of choice, that first bite can totally transform a person's current state of mind. Taste and smell are amazingly powerful senses - when triggered, those senses have the ability to take us back in time, completely change our mood, even emote feelings of pure pleasure!

Sometimes those cravings for candy or chocolate are just that - our taste buds are screaming for something sweet, something to satisfy a hunger, or even cure a "bad taste" left over from perhaps a too-spicy meal. Personally I find that I derive the most from chocolate when eating it only for the sheer pleasure of it!

There's an old advertisement for Tootsie-Roll Pops that I've disagreed with my husband over for years....remember that old owl who was always wondering "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie-Roll Pop?" I believe that old owl had it completely wrong. Commercial after commercial, that owl could NEVER wait and just savor that lollipop (which my crunch-happy hubby is in total agreement with - he can't even suck on a mint or cough drop properly!) Me - I believe it's all about the enjoyment...with everything us working moms tend to be involved in these days, why do you think we "crave" chocolate so much? (Gentlemen, it DOESN'T always have to do with hormones!)

Simple pleasures....some might say "guilty" pleasures, but a pleasure all the same. The next time you indulge in your favorite sweet - be it a form of chocolate, gum-drop, jelly-bean, taffy or gum - try savoring that first taste. Let it linger on your tongue...for just a moment. Close your eyes and let your senses take over. It's really only seconds out of your day, but those few seconds can immediately transport you elsewhere and perhaps even ease a weary mind and body. A bit of Joy from one little piece of candy...no wonder these kids are so excited at my door tonight...they've already got BAGS full of the stuff!

There goes the doorbell again - have a treat - and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

(photo courtesy of Google images.)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Gone with the wind..."


So, I'm leaving work early today (I substitute teach at a couple of our local high schools), and it's another GORGEOUS fall afternoon. I have a sweet little red Mini Cooper convertible, and after looking up at the sky and noting one more time what a perfectly blue, cloudless sky it was, I decided to open the top. However, just after I sat down in the driver's seat and made ready to push the button that lowers the rag top, I experienced a fleeting moment of indecision...did I really want to totally screw up my hair - that's in dire need of a haircut, and therefore, extremely difficult to manage right now? After all, I had a get-together with my girlfriends tonight, and I didn't want to have spend too much time re-doing my hair. Furthermore, I didn't have my sunglasses with me, and wouldn't it be too difficult to drive with the sun shining directly into my dry and sensitive eyes?

It was at that moment that I heard the bell to change classes ring. Students came pouring out of the school campus from various doors, meandering this way and that, across the parking lot and common area. While everyone was most decidedly in a hurry to get to their next class, you could still sense an air of happiness and freedom that only being young - and outdoors - can bring. Some students cross this portion of campus simply to cut their walking time in half, but there were a lot of students outside, and I could tell that many of them simply wanted to enjoy being outside in the sunshine - if only for a few short minutes.

I pushed the button - and lowered the rag top. What the heck - it's only hair! A memory returned to me of a much younger woman - at one time in her life MUCH more concerned with never messing her hair or makeup just in case I ran into someone I knew, or someone I didn't know (but that might be important), or better still - a good-looking, eligible bachelor! Now, I'm still a little old-school when it comes to looking "presentable," even when running to the grocery store or the gas station...I may not always wear a full face of makeup on those occasions, but I hardly ever go without mascara and a little lipstick. However, even though a small part of that younger woman will always be with me, I've learned that sometimes we can miss the small, carefree moments of "letting our hair down" - or in this case, letting it be blown completely crazy in the wind!

What did I get a convertible for, anyway? Am I too "old," too "stuffy," or too wrapped-up in self-pride to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, the smell of fresh air and autumn leaves, or the rush of freedom and joy you feel when driving alone in an open vehicle? Never. Perhaps this is why many of us mid-lifers are drawn to finally purchasing convertibles, motorcycles, or even boats; even if those items aren't expensive top-of-the-line models.

It's not just because we're approaching our later years and worried that "we might not ever get the chance if we don't do it now," or that "we've paid our dues, we finally deserve it!" I like to think it's because we've also learned that no matter how old we get, no matter how far up the social ladder we've climbed, and no matter how classy we dress, it can still feel good to let our hair blow in the wind and not care about who might "see" us doing so!

When is the last time you opened all the windows, the sun-roof or the top of your car; sat at the bow of a cruising boat on the water; rode a motorcycle, bicycle or even a horse, and just...breathed? Open a little window in your life - it's o.k. - I won't tell anyone your hair's a mess! Even if it's pouring rain outside.....it's only hair!!

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"The beginning - a search for Joy"

I always find it amazing how very simple things can lift our spirits and make a "so-so," hum-drum, kind of day (or even a week) into something SO much better...even memorable:

Taking a walk outdoors with family or friends (like I did this past weekend!)- not spending any money to drive great distances but enjoying the day for what it is - perfect sunshine, leaves beginning to turn color, the joy of taking pictures in nature's perfect lighting. The cat - who normally favors everyone else in the family with her affections but you, - yet suddenly and lovingly jumps in your lap with a purrful rub of her little pink nose and curls sweetly in the crook of your arm. Your teenager - who's on the brink of manhood, and usually too engrossed in his own thoughts at warp-speed to pay attention - that catches you at just the right moment and squeezes you in a bear-hug that takes your breath away. A wave or thumbs-up from a passing driver, who's flashing a broad smile because you're driving the same make car, knowing we're in a special, yet un-spoken "club." The familiar tune of your favorite song coming on the radio - and the pleasure you feel knowing that you know all the words!

Devoted to uncovering the joy and positivity in all things, I hope to help others who happen across this site to seek out "the brighter side" of whatever life might throw at us. An easy task it's not always going to be. I confess, my desires and goals are not completely unselfish...for by developing a motivation to face the blank page and write daily on a belief so dear to me, I know that I will continue to grow and experience life on a whole different plane than what I do currently.

For those of us whom others have called perpetual "optimists," we instinctively know why an attitude of Joy is important - and it's usually a way of life. A positive attitude can effect everything we do. Proven by scientists and doctors, a positive attitude and outlook literally affects our health - and those around us. Most of us have had several experiences in our lifetimes where we have been in the presence of someone who exuded feelings of negativity and sadness. Emitted in forms of complaint, criticism, or even abuse, we've all felt an immediate change in our own spirit and energies when we've been on the receiving end (or even just witnessed) these negative thoughts and emotions. It can be very easy to loose ourselves in that darkness.

While I by no means claim to have any "magic pill" or solution for some of life's most devastating and heart-breaking periods (and let's face it - we will have them), I do hope to place in your path at least one little thought or treasure of Joy each day. There is no substitution for those who need serious medical attention and intervention in the case of severe depression or anxiety, and I know from personal experience that clinical depression requires more attention and help than just reading a small blog each day!

I might not be able to "move mountains" with this blog site....but I do understand how powerful positive, happy thoughts can be. Even Peter Pan discovered that he couldn't fly without them.....Tinker Bell would've sprinkled all the fairy dust in Never-Never Land on Peter, and he still wouldn't have been able to fly.....he had to think happy thoughts in order for it to work!

I hope this was one little ray of sunshine in your day....pay it forward, and spread a smile!