smile

Staying in Focus: Focus On: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GAVIN

We celebrated my grandson’ s 5th birthday this week with a chocolate chip pancake breakfast at Bob Evans. Here are some photos of the event:

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To Gavin

How can it already be year number five

since you first arrived, so precious and  small?

but in almost no time at all

you won my heart with your winning smile,

and vibrant personalityIMG_6070

I love the special kind of hugs

and kisses that you give to me

you have such a great imagination

I look forward with expectation

to find out who you decide to be

your father says right now the choice

is between being  a daddy

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and Ironman.

To be both of then, I think you can –

but in my heart and memories

you’ll always be my little man.

Happy Birthday!

Grams

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Focus On: Dr. Seuss, Smiles and the Moments of our Lives

        don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened — Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote by one of my favorite writers, Dr. Seuss, and I realized how nicely his words speak to the cultivation of mindfulness.   How often do we miss out on the joys in our lives by anticipating their conclusion?.  How many moments are lost to our attention by our fear of living them and letting them go? This can apply to everything from a long anticipated vacation to a simple weekend.

Let’s take today, for example.  I have a choice.  I can fill my day up with things I enjoy doing with mindful attention, or sit here and lament the fact that it’s already 10:00 AM on Saturday morning and the weekend is already slipping through my fingers.

A great example of this is Christmas.  We spend so long anticipating this celebration. We decorate, buy and wrap gifts, plan menus and are so wrapped up ourselves in the planning that we hardly take time to really enjoy the moments of the season itself.  When we suddenly find ourselves sitting amidst the torn wrappings or looking at the remains of the holiday dinner, we feel a big letdown.  Christmas Day itself becomes anticlimactic, and we get the blues as we  dwell on the fact that it’s over, when we should be happy to have had the opportunity to enjoy this holiday with our loved ones once again.

Last summer, when we  were on our cruise to Alaska, we noticed there were floor mats in the elevators with the day of the week printed on them. Now, we could look at those mats each morning and think , “Oh, no, it’s Wednesday already.  Our cruise is almost over”, or we could choose to smile and think, “another beautiful day on this cruise is waiting for me to discover and enjoy.” A simple change of perspective can change the way you live your life.

I must admit  I did let the blues slip in when this experience in Alaska was over. It’s hard to go from a life of pampered leisure on a cruise ship, or a week hiking in a national park, or returning from a part of the world we never thought we’d see, and go back to life as usual, with the harsh reality of work, bills to pay and doctor visits to endure.

But mindfulness teaches us the importance of being present in the moment because this moment is all we really have.  It is pointless to waste it lookinging back, or anticipating the future. In this moment, right now, the sun is shining on a beautiful Saturday morning,. I am writing which gives me great pleasure, I feel good, I’m not in pain, I have much to smile about and I don’t have to be in Alaska to do it. (Although it would be nice…)

So let’s embrace the moments of our lives with attention and joy, and not squander them with regret, but  rather celebrate them with a smile – – because they happened.

Moments

Nothing is worth more than today,
A simple thought — but true,
For the past is just a memory
and no one has promised tomorrow to you.
So embrace today as the moments unfold,
Each one more precious than silver or gold,
Love and be loved, live and forgive,
and show true compassion for all living things
Then you’ll find peace of mind and joy of the soul
And your spirit will soar on gossamer wings.
                                                               pc ‘08

Staying in Focus: Calm Amid Chaos

I had the CT scan on Monday. I’d like to know why, if they can make the contrast you have to drink for a CT scan palatable, can’t they do the same for the colonoscopy prep?  I challenge any enterprising student of medicine or research to come up with such a product. and you will be the hero of millions.  In fact, you may even save lives as more people might be willing to take the test if that prep didn’t send your taste buds running for the hills. Anyhow, I don’t have to have a colonoscopy until January, unless this CT scan shows something we’d rather not think about.  Either way, I assume the same old prep mix will be on the menu.  Along with chicken broth, popsicles, and God save me from jello So now it’s back to waiting.  Meanwhile…

I feel in the mood for a little humor, so I will share with you some creative exercises we did in poetry class this week.  They are basically putting together random words or phrases in a variety of ways from different source.

 calm within chaos

can one find calm within chaos?
I am open to the possibility
the situation is similar
to twisting out tension

perhaps it takes
a whack on the head
some begging and bribing
to get one to sit in a white plastic lawn chair
and gaze with sightless eyes
at the saintly bird-feeder

be consistent and compassionate
for failure is the name of  a song
imagine your thoughts 
are orphaned popsicle sticks
scattered like fractured bones
and let go

when the images
of a mustachioed mouse.
or balloon animal bookends
rise in your mind,  there is
calm within chaos
satisfaction guaranteed.

An Ascorbic Acid Wit

though your achievements may be
astronomical, what I associate most with you
is your ascorbic acid wit 
when accentuated, a wit capable of causing
pandemonium, which cannot be halted
the last time, it took hours to pacify
the students and  a phalanx of counselors

to  treat the amnesia you induced.
I would be deemed an idler if I failed
 to accost you, and get to the root of this matter. 
while you are free to glorify your behavior. I
 must be illiberal with my words and paint a
picture you will understand:
 Take  a pestle to that wit.
you are walking on glassine here, young man.
and  furthermore:
no more hokey pokeys in the corridors.
no more paintball in the gym.
Stop acting like  a hoodlum.
My advice: take up the accordion i

it’s all in the name

the names 
given to paints
are irresistible
to one who paints
with words,
just look at the
damage a thesaurus
can do:
hello, yellow
(salude, sunshine)

open sky
(yawning yonder)

sweet tangerine
(sentimental orange)

mystic wisdom
(preternatural perspicuity))

sweet 13
(pure in pink)

timberline
(a bucket of bark)

mariner
(aquanaut in aquamarine)

ready to paint?

 Hope you got a little chuckle out of those. I get lost in the words and imagery of poetry and it helps me to find calm within chaos. Hope it gave you something to smile about.

Focus On: Smiles

    a smile is a special gift
   to share with one another
   to do so gives your day a lift
   and makes the world look kinder
   when you see your smile reflected
  on the faces of people passing by
  you’ll know they’ve been infected
  by the twinkle in their eye
  and the smiles swiftly spread
 to others through the day
 and all because you had one
 to kindly give away
          – pc 2012

The other day, while going through some photographs, I spied one of my grandson that I just adore.  And although I think he is  the cutest little boy in the world, it’s his smile that captivates me in this picture.

And I thought about how easily children share their smiles with others, and in doing so, brighten up our day.  Just because we are grown-ups now and busy doing serious things, doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to share a smile with someone we encounter as we dash about.  And smiling is infectious.  When a person passing  by flashes you a big smile, it’s difficult not to return in kind. I’m a lucky one.  Between Evelyn and Gavin, I’m surrounded by smiles that light up their faces whenever they see me.  Talk about the power of a smile.  Nothing finer!

My mother is a great example of this.  She has weathered her share of difficult times in her 89 years of life, but she is always has a smile on her face when she greets other people and everyone she meets  is immediately taken with her.  I think a big part of this is her friendly personality, and a big part of that is her smile.  It makes people feel good to be around people with a smile on their face.

This brings to mind my favorite scene in the movie City Slickers.  Billy Crystal plays the role of a man somewhat dissatisfied with his life.  His pals give him a birthday trip to herd cattle at a ranch out west.  His wife, aware of his state of mind, encourages him to go.  Needless to say, all three of the pals experience revelations about their lives as they face  many challenges.  But when Billy Crystal arrives home, and his wife greets him at the airport he says, pointing to his smile, “Look what I found.”  She asks, “Where was it?” And he replies,”In Colorado.  It’s always in the last place you look.” Funny, but so true.  Sometimes we simply don’t know where or when we lost our smile, but there are ways to find it.

If you come to a point in your life when you cannot muster a smile, you have work to do.  Meditation can help this, as Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist teacher and author, writes in his book, Peace is Every Step. Meditation can help, for the source of a true smile is an awakened mind. Meditation  can help us deal with matters that may be the cause of our unhappiness. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests  we practice smiling by doing so when we first wake up in the morning.  A smile, he writes, affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.  Let the singing of the birds or the slant of sunlight streaming through your window remind you to smile.

Marion Tripp,  a friend of Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote “The Dandelion Poem”, which he includes in his book, Peace is Every Step:

I have lost my smile,
but don’t worry.
The dandelion has it

As long as you can recognize that your smile is somewhere, all is not lost .Open yourself to the help and support of those around you and your smile will return.

Once you have it safely in place on your face, share it with others, and watch the happiness you spread grow and infect the rest of the world.  Who knows, maybe something as simple a s a smile can save us all. At the very least, it can save me and you!

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