THE TIME TO PREPARE IS NOW!😲

Above is a picture of the Mitchell Park Domes. They are 3 giant green houses, for lack of a better description. They are only a few miles from my house. They are an important part of today’s post. Before we get to what the 3 giant glass domes have to do with living an amazing life, let me share a personal fact with you. I strongly dislike the winters here in Wisconsin. It gets so cold some animals sleep through it, many leave the state entirely. Unfortunately, at this time, I am not an animal that fits into either category. Therefore, I must make certain adjustments. This post will focus around that. Just like a lot of what we learn here, it can be adapted to your situation.

The winters here also lack sunshine and things that are…well…alive. The trees look like dead sticks, all the plant life is brown and shriveled up. I don’t mean to sound negative, especially after last post about the power of positive thinking. These are facts and they can make it difficult for someone, like myself, that has Seasonal Affective Disorder. That is where the lack of sun and such throws your hormones all out of wack and can cause feelings of depression. This used to pose quite a challenge for someone who writes blogs and books about living an amazing life. Especially since winter seems to last roughly 9 months here. Then I began to put into action many of the things I learned and began to teach. I would love to share with you what I came up with for my situation, in hopes you can apply it to your own.

I realized one of the most dangerous things about Seasonal Affective Disorder, or any condition, is the feeling of hopelessness you can fall into. Although I am not able to move south for the winter just yet, I realized there are other things I can do. Plan a vacation to the sunny Bahamas with my beautiful Margie, like I am this winter. That helps. Let us face it a tropical vacation is not always in the cards. That is where The Domes, as they are locally known, fit into the picture. As you can see in the picture above, they have living plants all year! They must also have some kind of light that allows them to grow in the gloomy Wisconsin winter. Spending time in these places are like a mini vacation. We also have an amazing museum that has displays of places like Bali, Fiji and other tropical locations I would like to visit. I can at least escape mentally for the time I am inside the building.

Add to this things like coconut scented oils, shirts with the Jamaican flag, pictures of past vacations and many other ways to at least take me away mentally. I also was given a ‘Happy light’ that mimics the sun by Margie. I often use that when I write. Even a little time in front of it, helps my spirits stay up. Plus, I read and research on other things that might help. Taking Vitamin D, listening to ocean waves. There are many options to employ and more I am learning every day.

I encourage you to take the same approach to whatever life challenge you are facing. I realize that I am not able to change the weather and make the sunshine at will. What I can do is some of the things that I mentioned in the paragraphs above. I also use this ‘winter dread’ to motivate me to save for a vacation. Having things to look forward to makes challenges a lot more bearable. I would love to hear how you approach and prepare for the challenges you are facing. Oh, and if you happen to have more suggestions to make winter bearable for me, I am all ears!

TAKE A GETAWAY TODAY!!

On occasion, it would seem my ideas run in a rather odd streak. They either happen while I am in the shower with no way to record them, or they happen just a minute too late. The idea I wish to share with you seems to have fallen into the latter category. As you read this I will be enjoying my first day back at work after a well-deserved two week vacation. Normally, this vacation would have been spent enjoying a great deal of time at our local state fair. Sadly, due to the corona virus, this year that fabulous event has been canceled.

This marks the second straight time my vacation has been altered due to circumstances beyond my control. Last year Margie and I had planned to visit the lovely tropical destination of the Bahamas. As it happens, the resort and part of the island we were due to visit was destroyed by a hurricane that had settled over the island. We had planned to explore going in March, but then we both had Covid-19 and were in quarantine. I guess that would make three vacations that have been postponed or canceled all together.

You may guess that all of that postponement of pleasure would have me feeling rather frustrated and irritable and you would be right. Being the optimistic, solution-oriented person I am, there is always an attempt to find a creative solution. In the first 12 days of my vacation there was an amazing and brief getaway with the love of my life a few towns away. I was determined to enjoy the last few remaining days experimenting with different states of repose. My house is located next to an open field. I took out this wonderful zero gravity chair and decided to sit in the sun. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine that I was laying in the tropics. Although the sun felt warm, it was hard turning the sound of the passing cars into boats on the ocean. Then it occurred to me, I put in some earbuds and looked up beach/ocean sounds on YouTube. Before long I was whisked away with tropical birds and ocean waves. I swear I could even small the salt water.

After a few minutes of this blissful mental escape I took it to the next level. No longer was I relaxing at a posh resort in the islands. No, this time I was on the deck of my own house overlooking the ocean. One of my neighbors was unwittingly participating in my fantasy and happened to be grilling out. The scent of the food cooking on the grill had me imagining Margie, or the maid if she wasn’t feeling up to it, in the kitchen preparing a fun lunch for when I had my fill of sun. The following day I even sprayed some sun tan lotion on for the coconut smell. (For the record, this is something I do not usually use as it is not needed for me) There I was, actually in West Allis Wisconsin where I live. In my mind, however, I was laying on the beach in… Jamaica, Fiji, the Maldives or any other tropical location of my choice.

If you are in need of a vacation, do what I did. Recreate the experience as much as you can. This can be as simple as looking online at resorts you may want to stay in and watching videos on them. (This is something I do way too often) It works even better if you can involve more of your senses. I had the feel of the sun, the smell of the grill and the sun tan lotion, the sound of the waves and the sea gulls in my ears. The more senses you can involve, the more real the experience becomes. Next time I will try to work in the taste of the rum. (I recommend Blue Chair Bay toasted coconut white rum) I only wish I would have thought of this great idea on my first day of vacation. Right now we could all use a getaway, let us do our best to give it to ourselves.

YOU HAVE A TRAITOR!

Has there every been something you really thought could be fun, but did not try because you were afraid of trying it? I think this is something we all have faced. Our minds are designed to keep us in our comfort zones at all costs. There is the fear of looking foolish the first time try something an fail. The sad part about this is what we miss by not trying.

I would like to offer a personal story to illustrate the point. I LOVE going on tropical vacations! Everything about it makes me happy. Sun, beach, happy vibes, rum, fresh fruit and relaxation. One of my favorite things to do is snorkel off the beach. I enjoy diving as well, but snorkeling is quicker and cheaper. Before I went snorkeling for the first time I was not so excited about it. Giving up time relaxing on a beach sipping some delicious cocktail? Learning to breath through that awkward device? No thank you. Trying to put flippers on while being tossed about in the waves? How about putting the flippers on before you get into the ocean and trying to walk across the sand without falling or resembling a penguin? It all seemed like a bit much.

For the longest time I did not do it. When I look back on my hesitation, all the great exercise and scenery I missed it saddens me. Whether it is tropical fish in Jamaica, conch shells in the Bahamas or a rubber duck in the bathtub, I can’t imagine a tropical vacation without time in the ocean. I am very excited and looking forward to the first tropical vacation with my lovely and wonderful Margie this year. You can be sure it will be filled with plenty of fun, sun, love and time in the ocean.

If you are faced with doing something new and the thought scares you as much as sitting in the waiting room at the dentist, do yourself a favor and jump in with both feet! Do so knowing full well that you will make mistakes and may even look foolish at first. That may not sound inviting, but it may help in the long run. I recall spending way too much time worrying that I would make a mistake and look foolish. It often caused me to be rigid and nervous in my approach. This not only increased my chances of making a mistake, but took a lot of the joy out of it. The joy in being absolutely terrible at something is there is a tremendous chance of improvement. Knowing you will get much better than you are now should allow you to shrug off any feelings of inferiority. Have fun. Use it as practice to laugh at yourself.

Start off a new experience with the thought, “I am new at this and will probably make some mistakes and look foolish, but I will sure have fun and get better each and every time!”

A HORSE THAT SWIMS!

Here are two things this author enjoys very much, swimming in tropical waters and learning new things. It is with this two things in mind I write this post. When you can combine things that you enjoy it gives you a whole new sense of enjoyment.

One of the things I look forward to seeing while I am either snorkeling or diving is the sea horse. The sea horse’s scientific name, hippocampus, comes from the Greek words meaning horse and sea monster. Anyone who has encountered these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat know that they are the furthest thing from sea monsters. To that end, I would like to include a few interesting facts about the sea horse.

They are technically fish, but have no scales. Instead they have skin stretched over boney plates. They swim upright and are not very good swimmers. The slowest swimming fish is the dwarf sea horse that swims at a speed of 5 feet an hour, or about the speed in which I move in the morning. They prefer to use they tails to hang out at spots of their choosing. The most amazing fact about sea horses for many is that the female deposits the eggs in the male who carries them around from 9 to 45 days until they emerge fully developed.

One of the things the sea horse does for me personally is shatter a lot of stereotypes. It is a fish, but has no scales. It swims, but does so upright. To, of course, the fact that the male carries the young.  Although the ladies out there reading this may feel it is unfair that finally a male has to carry the baby and it only has 45 days at the most instead of 9 months. Still, the sea horse can show us that we can never be too set in our opinions.

Reading this post again, it is worth note that is sounds better than most school papers I have ever written. If you want an example of how bad some were feel free to read the post we did two days ago on four letter words. This brings us to our next important point. Learning should not stop after school. When you find things that interest you as an adult it can be fun to learn more about them. With the internet, that research should take but a few minutes to accomplish. When you combine what you have learned with what you already know, say for example the life of a sea horse with self-improvement techniques, you can come up with a few new distinctions. As a added bonus, life-long learning keeps our minds sharp and helps us stave off age related mental illness.

I would invite you to share what you have recently learned and how you used that to come up with new distinctions in your own life. Feel free to share with us in the comments below.