Is Hope Lost During the Holidays?

Holidays, Celebration

The holidays seem to be a time when many dread celebrating because of tragic things that may have occurred during the year. We try to smile and be as pleasant as we can, but there is a void that cannot be filled and a thirst that cannot be quenched. Many try to put on holiday music to get into the mood, yet the air still feels stagnant and stale. What do you do and how?

Challenges, Struggles

I look over the events of this year and think about the challenges many of us faced whether with a physical ailment or diagnosis, the pain of losing someone you love, the financial struggles or becoming a victim from the many natural disasters that shattered normal lives around the world that we could do nothing to prevent.

Still, as we look at our experiences and the loneliness we feel or the adversities we faced, we glance over at the next person who probably faced great odds as well, who is trying to just get through one day at a time, with an inkling of hope and optimism.

Celebration, Hope

It is said that things could be worse and while we know that holds much truth, we try not to think it into existence. We struggle to pump up the volume of hope, trying to snuff out those voices that yell fear, trying to plant seeds of doubt and despair in our spirits.

Hope, Bird, Celebrations

But, as I glance outside my window, as the storm today has passed leaving remnants of its presence behind, I smile and I am encouraged by the primal sounds of birds, flying in gaiety. I do not witness their sadness or mourning, only life, and celebration. I am encouraged by this. Nature, animals, and children have an instinctive and animated way of making our gratitude meter rise as we laugh affectionately at their antics and embrace hope no matter the occasion.

Party, Celebrate

In Search of the WOW Factor

Exotic Bird

George Hodan – Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura Victoria)

Think about those things that make you go “WOW.”

Boulder, Sequoia Park

TBridget Mac – Huge boulder at Sequoia Park, making a tunnel

My WOW has certainly evolved over the years. What I wowed about as a child is different from my wow as a teen. My wow as an adult continues to evolve into wows of simple, overlooked, awe-inspiring treasures.

Jezebel Butterfly

Jean Beaufort – Common Jezebel Butterfly on a Marigold

Sometimes we look for those over-the-top, extravagant, mindblowing creations and miss the spectacular “wows” and “whoa’s” that appear before our very eyes.

Lava, Volcano

Jean Beaufort – Flowing Hot Lava from a Volcano

Sometimes those wows can naturally depict the image of¬†an ironsmith’s workshop through the flow of firebreathing lava.

Banyan Tree

Andrew Schmidt – Large, Banyan tree outside the zoo entrance in Kapiolani Park, Honolulu, HI

Or our wows can stem from gazing at the artistry of a banyan tree whose aerial branch roots cascade downward to build a village of intimate shelters.

ocean, lighthouse, birds

Karen Arnold – Sunset over the ocean with lighthouse, birds, and grass

Even in the midst of great storms our senses are zeroing in on mindboggling wow moments that teach priceless lessons! Sometimes those lessons are simple, tranquil and breathtaking moments. Moments that make you go ‘WOW!”

It‚Äôs in the Storm That We Pay Attention

Storms, Life's Storms

George Hodan

In the approach or in the midst of a storm, our awareness antennas go up and we pay attention to the least little thing. During days when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the clouds are a perfect opulent shade of milk-white, and the temperature is ideal, we get caught up in moments of either self-gratification or nonobservance of treasured details that surround us.

When there is an oncoming storm (hurricane, tornado, snowstorm, etc.) however, we zero in on the forecasts of local weather reports from meteorologists updating us on weather and climate changes. This helps us to prepare for the possibility of a shift to the worst case scenario in preparation for our safety.

We are glued to the TV, radio, Internet, Smartphones or any other broadcasting devices to give us the latest updates from the weather service. We pay attention to wind gusts, water surges and any other facet the eye of the storm may bring.

As we look at life, our lives and the lives of others whether in our community, city, state, nation, country or continent, we pay little attention to those important details that affect the health, welfare, and lives of so many others outside our circle. It seems as if it doesn’t affect us personally, then there is no need to care. Yet, like the weather-related and natural storms occurring throughout the seasons, just as the reach of the storm has a domino effect that affects the lives of hundreds and thousands of people, the same applies to the storms occurring in the lives of other people having an adverse and residual effect on us.

As we band together during natural disasters or other crises that impact our lives and that of our communities, so must we be cognizant of those challenging ‚Äėdetails‚Äô others experience that could be the epicenter of a massively destructive personal storm headed our way. It‚Äôs sad that it takes a storm for us to pay attention to the very things that mean the most to us, which we miss when they‚Äôre gone or destroyed.

The Morning Game of Chase

Chasing, animals

Image Credit:¬†ŇĀukasz Zarzycki

Run, run, run…squirrel chasing squirrel.

Birds Flying

Image credit: X posid

Fly, fly, fly…duck chasing duck.

Bees, Flowers

Image credit: Lilla Frerichs

Buzz, buzz, buzz…bee chasing bee.

Butterflies, David Wagner

Image Credit: David Wagner

Flutter, flutter, flutter…butterfly chasing butterfly.

In the early morning hours, where fear and worry do not occupy the presence of their frolicking, they are free!

A Time for Every Purpose Under the Heavens

Purpose, Life, A Dog's Purpose

Image Credit: Karen Arnold

Everything has its season, and every part of creation has a purpose.

I believe there is a higher power whom I call God, giving everything created in this universe a purpose. Scientific evidence may be explanation enough for some, but there is a curiosity indwelling inside of me that speaks of a power greater than you and I, giving instruction to the realm of creation in which we are a critical member of. This power, telling the sun when to rise and set every day or when the seasons of the year are to be rotated, fills me with curiosity and excitement. Every human being, tree, flower, insect, animal, foul of the air, and creatures of the sea has a purpose.

I watched the movie “A¬†Dog’s Purpose” and while the movie is classified as a comedy-drama it was like viewing a “Hallmark” movie. The premise of the movie involves a dog who is reincarnated multiple times, trying to understand the meaning of his existence. With each new birth, he is introduced to a new family, with varied lifestyles. Some good, some not. In the end, as the dog narrates his multiple journeys, he remembers certain smells and associates them with familiar circumstances and people. In the end, the dog discovers his purpose: “Be here now!”

Whatever ‘here’ is and wherever ‘here’ maybe, just¬†“Be here now!” That is sometimes all the purpose you need to do what must be done in this present moment.

Our Personal Change: Is it Authentic, Natural, Adapted or Distorted?

Life, Distortion

Change occurs every single day, whether we want it or are prepared for it. Are we really the well-oiled machine we think we are? At some point and time, perhaps by the news of someone’s sudden death, we hear the reverberating old adage, “Life is too short.” Sometimes when you take time to meditate and reflect on life, do you see things differently, feel a heightened awareness in your spirit about creation, and then wonder and ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?”

Whether or not we realize our apparent willingness to accept, adapt and normalize a life whose RPM’s are revved up like the engine of a race car, just because these are fast and abbreviated times we are living in, should we? Are we dummying down our human logic, deep learning, individuality and manual reasoning by turning over our humanness and humanity into the hands of artificial intelligence and a life of truncated virtual or augmented reality?

As we contemplate and take into account the facets of our lives and life that abounds around us, we must ask if our images of change fall in the natural order of things, or are we becoming like a text message, short and distorted reflections as seen in a funhouse or carnival mirror.