JOHNNY APPLE SEED AREN’T WE ALL?

Countless are the times that people have come up to me and said things such as, “I was thinking about what we talked about a while back….” I am sure we have all heard this in our lives. We have all been on the opposite side too, haven’t we? Something someone was telling us didn’t make sense to us at the time, but through some change in life circumstance, we can appreciate it now. Maybe it is a loving thing they told us, the reminder of which has helped us make it through a tough time we are currently facing. This can work in the opposite way too. How many times have we remembered something hurtful that was said or done to us? I am not sure why we choose to do that, but that can be how the human brain works.

What we must keep in mind is that everyday we go through life we are planting seeds. Much like a farmer, what we grow will depend on what seeds we plant. We can plant beautiful flowers, fruit, or even a poisonous plant. The seed may take root or it may not. It may grow in our garden or others may be left to benefit, or be poisoned by what grows. In this way we have an ability to affect not only our life, but the world at large. Allow me to explain what I mean by use of a historical figure.

Johnny Appleseed, better known as John Chapman was an American Pioneer nurseryman who planted apple trees in several states and in part of Canada during the late 18th and early 19th century. A lot of the trees he never saw grow, but in the places he visited people were eating apples long after he was gone. We do much the same things with our words and actions. They may not be apple trees, but we are planting seeds just the same.

If we think in terms of Johnny Appleseed’s story, what will grow from the seeds we plant? If we are planting seeds of kindness and encouragement every where we go, we will see kindness blossom and grow. We will see the confidence and joy continue to grow in the hearts of our friends and family. If we plant seeds of gossip and complaint, we will see melancholy, sadness and resentment blossom all around us. In this way we do a great deal to shape the world in which we live.

What about the world at large? Truly, the seeds we plant can’t make much of a difference on a global scale? Think about this. When you go to purchase a cup of coffee at your local Starbucks, treating the employee with extra kindness could ease a tough day they are having. There you affect one person. Due to that act of kindness, they may treat the next person in line with an extra amount of customer service. Then you have affected two people. Maybe that person is on the way to the airport to fly home to a different city or even country and now feels good thanks to the good service they received. They may go on to treat people they encounter on their journey with more kindness and compassion. Thus, your simple act of kindness could affect people halfway across the world. It may not reach such global proportions, then again with comments on social media and the internet we can spread a great deal of seeds without even leaving our homes.

Although this was a positive example, the same holds true in reverse. You may think comments and they way you treat people are harmless, but you are forever planting seeds. We may not see them grow and it may take years for them to blossom, but given time they will. Let us all do our part to plant seeds of kindness, compassion, encouragement and joy. We will grow a garden of positive results. Let us be equally vigilant against casting seeds of negativity, gossip and judgment to the wind. They too, will grow into a world of negative people, places and things.

Let us all remember we are Johnny Appleseed in our own way. Let us plant seeds to grow positive families, friends, communities and the world at large.

LET THE BEAUTY SHINE THROUGH

I took this picture the other day. Immediately I noticed the daisy. It is as if it were growing straight out of the rocks. You could say it is the rocks that made the daisy stand out. If this flower had been in a meadow it may not have grabbed my attention so much. This struck a chord in me. Beauty can often best be appreciated where there is none. For those of you who are a fan of rocks, I apologize and am not calling them ugly. Even if you are a fan of stone formations, you must admit the daisy does jump out in the picture.

This is not a blog about gardening, rocks or flowers, but one about improving our lives and ourselves. So, how do the two come together here? If we pay attention to the media at all we are filled with stories of hate crimes, war and other not so fabulous information. I don’t even watch the news, but see these things as I log into my email. It can make you feel there is no point in trying to be positive, that the world is going in the wrong direction. Even in our daily personal struggles life can seem overwhelming. We take one step forward and can fall three steps back. You can be tempted to throw in the towel and give up. Your life can seem like…well…a pile of rocks.

This is where the picture comes in. In a world, be it personally or globally, that can seem negative at best, hopeless at worst it is easy to just become another ‘rock’. It is also easy to save expressing our beauty around people that we know we receive it well. There are pluses to that. It helps us gain confidence and expressing our beauty anywhere is better than not expressing it at all. When we express our beauty in a place that truly needs it that is when we truly stand out. In fact, it is the very troubles in our lives that can make our beauty the valuable gift it is. Look at the daisy among the rocks. In a field of daisies we would be hard to pick out just one even though they would all add something special.

A real world example I can think of is Mother Teresa. She could have helped any part of the world. What makes us remember her is her choice to help those who were in some of the ugliest situations. She chose to help the people of Calcutta in India. Her foundation, Missionaries of Charity helps those suffering and dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. As well as soup kitchens and orphanages. Those in the foundation take a vow to provide “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”. Wouldn’t it have been easier to teach children of wealthy parents to read? Absolutely. That would have been a noble deed as well. By expressing her beauty in a place that needed it most she did more than give medical attention to the sick and dying, she gave them something far more valuable. She gave them hope and beauty they needed. She was there daisy among the rocks.

Now you do not have to move to a poor country and help the poor (although the world always needs more of that) to take from this example. Just know when you are tempted to give up in the face of negativity and challenge, whether that challenge comes from abroad or right in your own life, be the daisy. Give beauty to a world that so badly needs it.

A CONSTANT REMINDER…

Wouldn’t it be great if we had somebody to follow us around and let us know when doubt, fear, negativity and all those other spirit vampires come calling?  Somebody to follow us around and remind us “look for the good in life”  or  “Don’t let your outside control your inside”.  Well unless you have a lot of discretionary income, or friends who really have nothing better to do, chances are this will not be possible.  So if all your friends have healthy social lives and you can’t afford to hire a ‘personal reminder’ what then?  Employ someone or more accurately something you can afford!  Just what is this crazy guy talking about?  Symbols!  They can be anything.  Something visionary, a trigger phrase, a scent.  Just pick something you may see on a regular basis in your daily life.  Now don’t make it to obvious.  I work at the post office so I wouldn’t choose ‘a stamp’.  It has to be somewhat random.  For example I might choose the phrase “First Class” and it will remind me to live my life in a first class manner, or to have a ‘first class day’.  I’m also a bartender so every time I see a bottle of gin I can think to myself ‘give individuals niceness’ or when I smell coconut rum, I can remind myself to “live like I am on vacation” and enjoy each life to the fullest.  These may all sound a little corny, but one they are off the top of my head, and two, why not put the world around us to work?  I know each day presents its own unique challenges, so each one should come with little reminders to keep smiling and enjoy the life we have been given.  So pick just one or two reminders. Deciding what they can be and what they will mean to you is just the start of the fun!  I must go now, I have the sudden urge for a rum and coke…