HAPPYLAND

IMG_0812Remember the terrible news coverage about upsetting and distressing cruises?  The information gave us reason to pause.  Even the cruise aficionados were cautiously concerned.  Afterall, the news was heartbreaking; putting one of our favorite pastimes in an unfavorable way.

I recently returned from a cruise, and happily enjoyed a few amazing days on the water.  While I could not help but remember with concern and sensitivity the tragic stories of those who were so greatly challenged on some of the so called, “cruises from hell,” I was thankful that my husband and I had a very enjoyable vacation.  There will be some who will give the cruise industry a second chance; there will also be those who have thrown up their hands in disgust that they’ve had enough – understandably so.  Those of us who enjoy cruising want to believe that steps have been taken to eradicate those things that create reasonable concern.  Afterall, we love the way our cruise destinations provide incredible escapes – both in the physical and the spiritual.

If you enjoy the cruise experience, you’re probably considering your next vacation.  If you have not had the opportunity, you could do yourself a favor by “trying it on for size.”  Most likely, you’ll wear it well.  On my recent cruise, I noticed several individuals booking their next cruise while onboard.  Afterall, you’re captivated!  Cruising has a very high satisfaction rate for families, couples, groups and the like.  The value is in the package:  visiting multiple locations, the entertainment onboard, siteseeing opportunities, relaxation and rejuvenation, friendly atmosphere, delicious food, and so much more – all in one convenient location.

Stay tuned for future posts about this remarkable journey.  It’s the stuff that “happyland” is made of.  It’s the smiling face, the satisfied spirit, and the incredibly healthy mind – free of worry and concern – if only for a short time until your next voyage – your next cruise to happyland!

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RACE RELATIONS IN A COMPETITIVE WORLD

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Consider the quotation, “The race is not to the swift.”  There can be so many connotations to this expression.  Literal races between competitors give credence to the degree of respect opposing parties have for each other when handled amicably.  However, the significance runs much deeper.  It is important to consider underlying factors such as how opponents respect and deal with differences beyond competitive qualities.

Competition is healthy.  Some think it’s the spice of life.  The means to an end.  That thing that keeps us excited and motivated and happy.  The list could go on and on.  The driving force; however, is the fact that with competition comes winners and losers.  It is not as consoling, especially to the loser, when one is told that “somebody’s got to win; somebody’s got to lose.”  It is more comforting when competitive forces unite to bring positive results to all.  A good starting point is when solid attention and serious and honest desires to create genuine and lasting human relationships surpass petty and fruitless tendencies which permeate objective views.  Only then can a simple competitive activity move forward with its true meaning; void of misguided idiosyncrasies or unrealistic and prejudicial beliefs.

When individual mindsets recognize the significance of looking through colored lenses instead of a black or white lens, an appreciation for any hue is recognized. Sensitivities to differences far surpass any unrealistic and misguided opinion.  When rational thinking equalizes irrational thinking, the judgments, opinions, and sentiments prevail and; therefore, encourage respect for uniqueness.

Acceptance of differences in individuals should be such an easy thing to do, yet a “lack thereof” sometimes rules the day.  It is when like-minded persons see the beauty in a rainbow.  Gray areas will always exist; just as clouds on a rainy day.  But it is far more appealing and inviting when a dash of color permeates the sky.

When biases interrupt logical thinking, society is dealt circumstances where children are sometimes mistreated because of living conditions, their race, education, etc.  Promotions on the job are sometimes not given because of one’s skin color or even gender discrimination.  Too many predispositions ruin solidarity of mind and spirit.

Stereotypical thinking exists for numerous reasons.  Hatred and malicious attitudes about race differences exist.  Racial, cultural and religious misjudgments manifest themselves deliberately and often.  What a wonderful world it would be if prejudicial teachings did not exist.  Remember the innocence of childhood – babies born of all colors and shapes and sizes – without a thread of negative, irrational and biased thinking.  A baby sees the beauty in a smile, the love in a hug, and the warmth in a touch.  There exists only a motivation for the simple and lasting things; nonetheless, if taught otherwise, this innocence fades.  One is left to ponder how preconceived inclinations are formed from an unintelligible thinking mind.

Swiftness.  Competitiveness.  Acceptance.  These are included in the recipe for positive and fulfilling relationships; regardless of race or creed.  Let’s start today looking inwardly, by examining ourselves and asking “if individually we can help to promote healthy interactions with all; paying tribute to and embracing our differences.”  It is only then that we can truly say, “The race is not to the swift.”  Reference Ecclesiastes 9:11 (KJV) as follows:  I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.  In this verse, we are reminded that it takes more than power and might to make it in life; it takes belief that God can erase hurt and harm to those who live by his word; thus, rendering the rejection of individual differences as irrelevant.  True competitive relationships are then born where the driving force is not defined by diversities in people but the quality of the game itself – the game of life!

TO WORDPRESS BLOGGERS: TRAVEL TIME: YOUR FAVORITE TRIP

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Note to WordPress.com bloggers:  Please indicate below in the comments section your advice on where I should take my next vacation.  I am in the process of planning it for next May and would like to hear from you.  Please also take the time to tell me about your favorite trip.  Your comments will be published collectively in an upcoming post.  Could serve as inspiration and information to all.  Look forward  to hearing from fellow bloggers.

Two Lives! Two Deaths!

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As I was reading a quote by George Eliot’s character, Adam Bede, “Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them,” I became determined to tell you about two adorable people who lived…

The couple dated in high school and eventually married.  They were very much in love and it appeared that they would navigate through life together until at death when they would depart.  However, life happened!  Its challenges, its stresses, its disappointments.  So, eventually they went their separate ways:  He set off for service to his Country and she went back home to her parents.  Through the years they lived good lives – separately.  However, they always remained friends and would keep in touch.  Afterall, they were from the same hometown and were bound to run into each other from time to time.  Due to comments they made about each other, it seemed to some that they secretly wondered, “what if?”  What if we stayed married?  What if we experienced life’s challenges and disappointments together?  What if?

Life is all about making choices.  It’s about making decisions that often affect us for a lifetime.  So it was for this couple.  In later years, even as they both battled physical ailments, they managed to talk to each other from time to time; keeping each other uplifted and often reminiscing about their life together.  Unfortunately, good things sometimes end – especially this love story that never had enough time to blossom efficaciously.

So, on March 27, 2012, she passed away.  Four days later, on March 31, 2012, he passed away.   Only four days apart – a driving distance of 962 miles, 1,259 kilometers, or 679 nautical miles apart, these two wonderful, loving, and caring individuals – my parents – transitioned from this life.  The pain of losing them is still very intense and my love for them is for a lifetime.  So, to quote George Eliot’s character, Adam Bede, “Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them,” my parents will live forever because I will never forget them!

JUST DO IT!

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Have you thought back to the New Year resolutions you made?  Have you continued to hold fast to them?  Did you remember to include benchmarks?  Periodic evaluations?  As I walk through the malls and see the seasonal decorations, I’m reminded on this fantastic day in October that a new year is on the horizon.  You might consider pulling out those resolutions and checking off successes or disappointments.  Beyond the resolutions, did you remember to do those things we need to do to stay happy and healthy and fit?  These actions would include checking off annual physician visits, making time for daily exercise, adopting wholesome eating regimens – simply being good stewards over mind and body. 

When we accomplish goals and objectives, and include them in our everyday lives, it is only then that we can spend precious time tending to those priceless things that mean so much.  Such as spending meaningful, loving and fun times with family and friends; letting your parents know how much they mean to you; taking a vacation; reading a good book; going for a long walk; taking a drive along the lake just for the view and tranquility; turning off your devices simply so you can enjoy an uninterrupted meal with loved ones.  This list could go on and on.  Accordingly, when we “take care of our business” we begin to reap the rewards of a GOOD LIFE.  Get busy and just do it!

No Disenchantment Here

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Just read a headline that simply stated that any American disenchanted with the Country might wish to press the button so they can “get off.”  Huh?  Sure, in droves we are feeling let down as a people, angry, unhappy, disillusioned, and downright disgusted at how the order of business is being conducted in our Nations’ Capitol where decisions are made supposedly for the greater good.  While there is much to be worked out among our elected officials and an abundance of negotiating to do, be sure to take a moment to reflect on those things that are good and decent and noble in our society.  While there is much we tolerate, there is equally as much to consume.  Consider the numerous other countries that only wish they had it so good – foreign citizens who would trade places instantaneously.  We remain sick and tired of being sick and tired of a lack of unified governmental collaborating, and yet we can rejoice in the fact that we have choices.  Disenchanted enough to want to “get off?”  Surely you jest?

From Here You Can See An Ocean of Possibilities

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Had a lot on my mind.  Wanted to find a way forward.  Decisions needed to be made.  I wanted some quiet time; freedom to think, perhaps to dream.  Even in the happiest of times and the most successful lifestyles, an outlet to explore your thoughts is vital.  At times, we are creatures of habit; going through our daily routines not giving much credence to what we do or how we do it.  Perhaps overlooking who we’re actually placating.  But there comes a time when being reflective can be therapeutic – even rewarding.  It allows us to hit the pause button of life and determine if  the journey in which we travel is yielding the best dividend on our investment in ourselves.  After all, aren’t we the most important architects and influencers in our own universe?  When we figure out how we live to our fullest potential, it is only then that we can be the best for those we love; give our best to those we love.  If we are happy and content and free and lively and energetic and smart and healthy and fit and informed and loved, isn’t that just about the best it can get?  However, it takes a lifetime to figure these things out – to make them happen.  It takes being in a wonderfully rewarding and carefree place – a place where we can see our entire life – our own personal space in a world of possibilities – a world where the sky is not the limit.  This place is the Ocean!  It’s music to the ears!  I like to visit it often.  It helps me see clearly.  My direction and purpose are rebooted.  Take time for a visit, whether near or far; the water is quite soothing to the mind and the soul!

Food By Any Other Name…

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What could be better than walking though crowded tailgating spaces at football games, delighting in the sweet aroma of charcoal and the succulent smell of food grilling to perfection?  It’s the sweet savory taste and succulently prepared meal that only loved ones prepare for each other.  It’s the way friendships are born.  It’s the way fellow sports fans communicate.

Ever enjoy a home cooked meal at mom’s place?  You could visualize the table spread to perfection with all your favorite foods; even smell the scent of the delicious cuisine even before you pulled into the driveway.  As you got closer, you remembered how mom delicately prepared each dish.  You could hear the melodies she sang as she stirred the creations that only she could produce.  It’s the way mom communicates.

Think of those family picnics in the park.  Rejoice in thoughts of sitting with friends at the local pub enjoying your favorite team playing on the large screen – talking and laughing together as if nothing else matters.  Good food and good fun – the recipe for the day!  Think back to the cafeteria in high school or college when you sat with fellow students and friends.  Some of the meals you’d even write home about – begging for a “goody” box to be immediately mailed to you because you just “couldn’t stand another meal in the cafeteria.”  But somehow you made it through.  The meals were still never that great but the ensuing friendships were lasting.

Just a few examples of enjoying food with friends and family.  When you think of all the good times to be had, somehow the food became secondary.  It was always more about togetherness; relationships; caring.  It was simply food by any other name – love!

 

What If? Ever Second-Guessed Yourself?

Question2Do you sometimes find it easy to adopt habits even when you know there is a better way but you stick with it because it is the easy thing to do? Perhaps the most effortless? We tend to steer clear of anything presumed to be problematic, right? I often travel a busy road getting to and from my house. The speed limit signage very visibly displays 45 in certain areas and 55 in another. I find it easier and safer to simply obey the speed limit; however, often times cars are right on my bumper as if they might be saying, “Move along. You’re driving too slowly.” Even in 45 mph speed zones, I observe many who are driving at ranges far exceeding. I sometimes wonder if it is because they no longer pay attention to the speed limits or if they have ever been ticketed for speeding or might they be creatures of habit driving the same speed regardless? Similar concerns apply to driving while texting. Is the public getting too comfortable doing so? Comfortable, maybe. Safe, no. Just ask someone who lost a loved one due to someone else’s disregard – drivers who thought they could successfully manage driving while texting! Or, have you ever driven in your community and saw waste scattered about? Perhaps the litterer did not see anyone and decided it was easy to simply toss it on the ground. Keeping it until they reached the nearest waste receptacle was not easy enough. Could there be any satisfaction in littering? Perhaps you indulged in a food item even though you knew it would make you sick and later second-guessed yourself, but long after you consumed it in its entirety? Most of us in some way or another have likely done things or made decisions only to later regret them. It might be helpful to pause for a moment and consider the ramifications associated with speeding or driving while texting or littering our beautiful planet and other decisions that might be made otherwise. Think about it!