The Battle of the Sheets

Happy Monday,

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Yes, Monday..that day of the week that can be so difficult. This morning particularly I did NOT want to get up.  The beginning of Fall I find difficult because it’s still dark out in the early hours of the morning and it gets dark earlier in the evening.  I really miss the sunlight.  I have to be honest, it’s so much easier getting up when it’s bright and sunny.  Today on the other hand, is dark, overcast and rainy. A mixture of the worse combination of weather, for a Monday morning. So i had a what I call “the battle of the sheets.”  You know how that is, when you want so desperately to stay in bed and sleep “just a bit longer.”  It was a struggle, a massive struggle this morning!  I am here to tell you, I won!  I forced myself out of the comfort cocoon of warmth and set my feet on the floor.  Once I took charge of myself and set my feet on the floor, something transpired inside of me.  I felt the victory; I realized I had won.  My mind began to fill up with words, things to say, and messages to write.

I began to understand how this small triumph really is part of a much bigger picture.  Okay, so I sleep in a little bit, no harm done…but what about the time I would rather surf the net than write an article, or the time I would rather stay at home instead of going to businesses to promote my business, or the time I would rather get “take out” because I am too lazy to cook a well balanced meal?  Can you understand the concept here?  All of our little actions begin to be part of our larger actions.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we can never sleep in  or grab “take out” occasionally, what I am expressing is that we need to practice habits that build good qualities inside of us.  When we begin to let our desires overpower us and control our actions, we are practicing poor management skills. What you don’t master begins to master you! Small, seemingly benign, actions grow into large monsters if we aren’t careful.

Today, was a powerful example to me.  If I had just turned over and said, oh well, I don’t feel like getting up; I would have missed this revelation of the importance of controlling myself and enforcing healthy behavior patterns.  My mind is alert, pregnant with possibility this morning.  I feel as though a river of inspiration is running through my brain.  This doesn’t happen everyday (unfortunately) and to think I would have missed the opportunity to experience this if I let my desire to stay in my cozy bed overtake me.

We all have missed opportunities.  We all slack at times.  Personally, I am going to begin to use the term “battle of the sheets” as a guideline to monitor those times I allow myself to become complacent.  I will acknowledge, this is a “battle of the sheets”  who is going to win?  I know that I will begin to be even more productive by seeing that I have a choice.  I can allow the “sheets” to keep me wrapped up, OR I can put my feet on the floor and carry on in strength and victory. I want to be the winner!

Today, let’s be motivated to be the very best we can be!  Let’s master our desires and impulses. As we do, we will be in such a better place to receive the rewards of our harvest.

Have a tremendous Monday!

Charlene

The Changing of the Guards..um, I Mean Seasons

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Hello everyone,

I don’t know about you, but as for me, it always seems that I am just beginning to relax and enjoy the summer when BANG, it’s fall! Seriously though, I do love the changing seasons. ( I don’t think I could live in an area that was relatively the same all year-long.) There is so much beauty to enjoy in each and every season. I am totally mesmerized by the magnificent display of colors in the Autumn. Every day shows more and more variety of hues. I have been blessed to be able to witness this each year. I enjoy the fresh brisk air that Autumn brings. The chilliness in the air makes me feel so alive and charged. The kid inside me, really enjoys running through the leaves and hearing them crunch!  Then afterwards, I long to go into my kitchen and bake warm homemade pumpkin bread. Hot cups of coffee mixed with homemade goodness, shared with family or friends, is the perfect blend to enjoy an Autumn day.

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I get so excited about decorating my home with the onset of each new season. Fall is one of my favorite decorating times. I just love the look and feel of the autumn colors. I have to admit I am a candle lover as well.  I thoroughly enjoy the scents that come out at this time of year. The smell of cinnamon, cloves and apple are among my very favorite. Due to the fact that it gets dark so much earlier now, I routinely add some ambiance in our home by the lighting of candles.

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Our lives are very much like the seasons. Seasons provide the Earth with what is needed in the next season.  Again, our lives are like this. When we’re young, time seems to stand still, and we can’t wait to grow up. When we’re old, time passes at a whirlwind speed, and we look back longingly at the earlier years. In between is the fullness of our life—the longest and most important season. It has been said that the spring of life consists of the time from infancy until approximately twenty years old. This is the time that it takes to go through the process of becoming an adult. Before you know it, spring is over and summer is upon us. Are those young men and women in their caps and gowns our kids? It can’t be! Why, it was only yesterday that …

And so it is, that our children begin the next season. The summer season in our life span is the longest, covering the period from about twenty years of age to the average retirement age of sixty-five. In early summer, young adults are busy raising their children—concentrating on the present. Lives are blossoming and charging full speed. But the finger of time moves on. The nest becomes empty, after our children have ventured out on their own and have started raising their own families. Late summer finds us focusing more of our energies toward slowing down and enjoying the fruit of our labors. This is generally a wonderful season. As wine mellows with age—so have we. We seem to draw closer to our loved ones, and we now have the time to pursue hobbies and to travel.

Then we stumble upon the last season of our glorious existence, the winter. In the old age of winter, you will find us in our rocking chairs reminiscing over the years we have experienced. Poring through our memories of the important days, life time events,  and all the things in between that have made us into who we are. This isn’t a time of sadness and defeat, although we know that the call of death is imminent, we can look to our children and grandchildren and rest assured that the circle of life will continue long after we are gone.

Seasons come and go. It’s important that we take the time to fully enjoy each one before it passes!

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 I have included a few interesting quotes on the Seasons of life that I enjoyed.  Talk to you soon…off to have a cup of yummy hot chocolate!

You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything
tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is
round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power,
whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. . . .
Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always
come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle
from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.

Black Elk 

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There was an Indian Chief who had four sons and he wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly.  So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer and the youngest son in the autumn.

A year later, when they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the pear tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no, the pear tree was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said the pear tree was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said the pear tree was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The Indian Chief then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree’s life.

He then told them that they cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy and Love that come from life can only be measured in the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it’s winter, you will no doubt miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer and the fulfillment of your autumn.

Author Unknown

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The question, “Which is the happiest season of life?” was asked of an aged man.
And he replied: “When spring comes, and in the soft air the buds are breaking
on the trees, and they are covered with blossoms, I think, ‘How beautiful is spring’;
and when summer comes and covers the trees with its heavy foliage, and singing birds
are among the branches, I think, ‘How beautiful is summer.’  When autumn loads them
with golden fruit, and their leaves bear the gorgeous tint of frost, I think, ‘How
beautiful is autumn.’  And when it is severe winter, and there is neither foliage nor
fruit, then I look up through the leafless branches as I never could
until now, and see the stars shine in God’s home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               unattributed

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The Truth Hit Me .. and I was Changed

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I have had the privilege to volunteer many times for Free the Children,  an organization I deeply admire.  The organization was founded by Craig Kielburger in 1995 when he gathered 11 school friends to begin fighting child labour. He was 12.

One morning, Craig flipped through the Toronto Star in search of the comics, he was struck by a story. A raw, but courageous story of a boy his age named Iqbal. Iqbal Masih was born in South Asia and sold into slavery at the age of four. In his short life, he had spent six years chained to a carpet-weaving loom. Iqbal captured the world’s attention by speaking out for children’s rights.  Eventually, Iqbal’s wide media coverage caught the attention of those who wished to silence him. At 12, Iqbal lost his life defending the rights of children. What Craig learned from Iqbal’s story was that the bravest voice can live in the smallest body. Craig had to do something. Craig gathered together a small group of his Grade 7 classmates and this is how Free the Children was birthed.  Today, Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner, with more than 1.7 million youth involved in our innovative education and development programs in 45 countries.  I admire many things about Craig and Free the Children, but his passion and integrity are two characteristics  that are extremely refreshing.

It is amazing what one person can do to cause change in the world. Imagine, he was only 12!  He saw a need and developed a passion and vision. How inspiring.  For more check out  Freethechildren.com

So back to my story!  I was asked by Free the Children to do an interview for a video for ” We Day.”  Snippets of what I said, along with others, on how we felt about the organization and volunteering for them, would be blended into a presentation. I was honored by this opportunity. This was a cause that I truly believe in.  I pondered what I could say, in a few minutes, that would influence others. If you aren’t familiar with “We Day,” it’s a huge, one – day, event with thousands of young people and adults in attendance.  I wanted to make sure that what I said, mattered.  I contemplated for days.  Then I began to think about what I was going to wear for this video footage.  I mean, seriously, I had to look good, after – all I was going to be on the big screen with thousands of people viewing this video!   I picked out an outfit that I felt I looked best in.  I made sure all my accessories were matching.  My hair and my make up were just right.  I left for my interview; feeling a bit nervous but very inspired.  I was excited.  Just a few minutes before I arrived, I realized that I had forgotten  to put my dressy shoes on. I was wearing my slippers!  For a split second, I was mortified.  Here I was working so hard to create an image that was appropriate and now I had shown up in my slippers.  I had no time to go back and get my shoes.  I was doomed to film in my slippers.

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That is when the truth hit me and it hit me hard!  Here I was, speaking for a group of passionate people about being the change in the world and I was concerned about my shoes!  My priorities were out of line.  My attitude was  quickly readjusted, as I began to think of children in other countries that don’t have the opportunities that we have.  They aren’t allowed education and access to water and a wardrobe of clothes with shoes that match their outfits.  I felt so ridiculous to be concerned over such a trite issue.  I walked into that interview with a real story and a renewed purpose that day. I shared my experience with them.  I was humbled by the life lesson I learned by accidentally forgetting my shoes that morning.

I believe it is time we all begin to shift our perspective.  We need to be less concerned with frivolous issues.  It is time to get a vision for the issues that matter.  In closing, remember the words of Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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It’s all in the Plan

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Happy Monday Motivational!  All weekend I was contemplating what to share for motivation today.  I was asked last week what the vision for my life is.  Hey…that’s a BIG question.  Fortunately, I am in a place that I do have a vision for my life.  Sadly to say, I haven’t always had a vision .  I guess I was somewhat assuming that “things” just kinda happen while you live.”  While it is true, things do just happen while you are living ; the truth is, unless you have a vision or plan for your life so much time and effort is wasted and you set yourself up for failure.  If you don’t have a PLAN,  you are planning to fail.  I started going over this concept again and again in my mind this weekend.  I thought how many,really great people,are just aimlessly living their lives?

The other day I was walking through my neighborhood and came to an area where a bunch of carpenters were.  They all had their tools and were conversing about building a complex.  Quite interesting.  So there they were with tools and just decided to put up random pieces of boards and doors and a window or two…obviously this is a bizarre story.  We all know that this is not what really happens.  The carpenters at this site all have a blueprint for the project they are building.  Every single detail is listed and thought out before the ground is even broken.  They have a “plan” and they will succeed at building the complex as long as they follow the blueprint.

Have you ever watched a chef as he prepares a gourmet meal?  It isn’t some arbitrary throwing together of ingredients.  Each step along the way is built into the recipe.  The chef knows that when he has finished, he can expect a certain end result.  If he were to just throw in” a bit of this and some more of that ” there would be no guarantee of the finished product.

When you get on a train in NYC and have the destination of Disney in Florida, obviously the conductor of that train has a route to follow.  You don’t purchase your ticket in hopes to arrive at the destination.  The conductor has a path to follow.  You can rest assured that the train you are on will arrive exactly where you desire to go.  There isn’t any guessing work because he has the route already mapped out.

So it is with our most precious commodity, our lives.  Unless we have a vision for our lives, then we will not get the desired effect that we are hoping for.  The time we have to live is limited.  It is really important for us to examine what it is that we want to accomplish in this life .  Make it happen!  Set up some goals, make some action plans, and become accountable for what you desire to happen in your own life.  This may sound like a lot of extra work but honestly in the long run it actually causes you to have a better quality of life.

Have a great Monday!

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In the Shadows of the Night

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In the Shadows of the Night        by Charlene Tops

In the shadows of the night, I peer out my window.

Across the street I see perched on the neighbor’s roof, a man looking like a leftover elf from Christmas Eve.

Wait, no, it’s an evil man lurking in the darkness!  Could he be waiting till all are asleep, so that he can climb into their window and rob and destroy them?

No, it’s a witch on a broom , riding through the neighborhood, cursing the house she has landed on.

No, as I gaze closer, I see the head has turned; it is now a wolf; sneering and baring teeth ready to lurch on someone aware.

My heart races, as I see each fallacy as truth, in the shadows of the night.

In the shadows of the night, my mind peers out the window of my world.

I see perched on the ledge of my thoughts, someone appearing as a leftover elf from Christmas Eve, sprinkling joy into my world.

Wait, no, it’s an evil man!  Could he be waiting till I am asleep to rob me of my dreams and destroy my world?

No, it’s a witch on a broom, riding through my mind, cursing and despising my vision and passions for life.

No, as I gaze closer, I see the head has turned, it is now a wolf; sneering and baring teeth ready to lurch on my life and tear me to shreds while I am unaware.

My heart races, as I see each fallacy as truth, in the shadows of the night.

History of Poem:  One night I was having trouble sleeping, so I went outside to my front porch.  While sitting there I was gazing around.  Across the street, the shadows began to play tricks on my eyes…the image I first saw switched several times. The next morning when I went out to the porch in the daylight, I could clearly see.  I began to think how true it is, that in the dark stillness of the night we can imagine all kinds of things.  I was contemplating a life path change and was doubting whether or not I really could do it.  So, of course, at night I was plagued with doubts and fears but in the daylight that morning I realized that sometimes the things we see are just false.  I made my decision that morning to go out of my comfort zone and pursue what I have always desired to do.  So thankful I did!

My favorite place in the world

Sitting on the deck..sipping coffee …hearing the sound of the waves crashing on the sand. THIS is my favourite way to start my day. If I could chose anywhere to be, it would be here. I am currently in Rhode Island at a beach house with my husband, all 5 of our daughters and all 4 of our grandchildren! Life is sweet.
Just a short post today just to let you know why I haven’t posted recently. I am unplugging as much as possible. I don’t want to waste any of our precious time! Love to all and enjoy your week!

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