MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!!!

As you are reading this post I will be at the Wisconsin State fair. Today is the first day of the 11 day long festival. It is by far my favorite thing to look forward to all year. In the past I have stressed how important it is to have events to look forward to throughout the year. This is by far the one I look forward to the most. There is also a winter vacation, the bike expo, the first day of spring and many others, but the state fair is the biggest.

If I were someone who sat back and let life happen to them I would enjoy  this festival to the fullest for 11 days straight and them be sad when it is over. To some extent that is what happens, but I advocate and practice getting every last drop of joy out of life you possibly can. How do I apply this to the Wisconsin State Fair and how can you apply it to activities you look forward to in life? Let us take a look and start coming up with a few ideas.

First, as you can see by the photo above, spend the activity you love with the people you love the most. This is a picture of my lovely Margie and I on the sky glider last year. Margie and I have a wonderful relationship and both work hard to keep it that way and improve it all year long. We are always on the way to increase the amazing love we already share with each other. Being with her at one of my favorite places where I am extremely excited and happy provides a great opportunity to create life-long memories that will keep us smiling for a long time. It also increases the love and connection I feel with her. Having happy and joyous memories at my favorite place with my lady just leaves me with a feeling of love and gratitude for who I share my life with. In addition to Margie, I plan to enjoy days at the State Fair with my mom, and many of our friends. Together we will all create happy and joyous memories.

Then there is the planning. There is so much fun in just exploring and seeing what we discover. Making sure there are a few things we know we will enjoy is important as well. To that end we always look at the preview guide that comes out a few weeks ahead of the fair. There we discover bands we may like to see, food we may like to try and many other fun things to look forward to. This year we are even planning on an art walk they have to see many artistic displays featured in the park. There is also a garden walk in which you are shown different displays of greenery and how they are cultivated. Both walks feature a prize upon completion and are completely free.

Pictures. This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes those are the easiest to forget. Taking pictures of the fun activities you experience and the great, and sometimes no so great, food we try will give us something to look back on for years to come. This keeps the great memories alive after the event, and sadly sometimes after the people have passed. In the past year with all of the loss Margie and I experienced, videos and pictures have proved to be a invaluable link to the past and those we care about. This has brought to our attention the importance of capturing all the joy as it occurs.

Being present. In contrast to being behind a camera or cell phone to capture the joy that is occurring, there is the act of being present. Noticing the taste of what you are eating, the people you are sharing the moment with, or in my case the smile on the face of the beautiful blonde lady next to you. There is so much beauty to behold in life that we must remain alert to soak it all in.

These are just some of the ways I will enjoy the Wisconsin State Fair this year. Add to that my new career as a food critic and I will have plenty of chances to practice that. I welcome you to share your ideas on how I, and all of our readers can make their special moments even more special in the comments below.

TAKE IT WITH YOU

Above you find two great nature photos. The top one is actually pretty neat. It is a photo of my lovely Margie taking a photo right outside Greenfield park before we began our nightly walk there. Later I will share one that we managed to capture while walking in the woods. The lower picture is of a great blue heron, which happens to be my favorite bird. It was taken just outside the post office I work at. I was walking to the bank and it happened to be right there.

One of the great things about technology is it can either serve to take us away from nature, or help draw us to it. I never would think of carrying a camera while at work, but did have my cell phone handy. In a world of selfies and social media I think using our cell phones to capture the joy of nature is a wonderful use of technology. While the debate rages on about the environment, I just enjoy finding new ways to enjoy it. Use your cell phone to get you out in nature! Capture all the natural beauty you can find.

I invite all of my readers to share some of their favorite photos in the comments below. I would love to see all the natural beauty we have captured. Whether it is an elephant in South Africa, or a squirrel in South Milwaukee please let us share your joy.

WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM?

These last few days have been filled with sadness as we have been mourning the loss of Margie’s mother Ruthanne. I have always been someone who searches for the light in the darkness. There is no more difficult time to do this than when we lose somebody who means so much. If there is anything my faith has taught me is that there is always something to be grateful for.

Of course we would all very much like to have Ruthanne back to hear her sing one more song, laugh one more time with us or even just to put things in perspective the way only she could do. Thankfully we have lots of videos, pictures and memories where those moments will live on. In addition to the great lessons in life that she has left behind, there is another gift I have discovered in the midst of this somber time.

While making arrangements for the celebration of life planned for Ruthanne, there were generations worth of pictures to sift through. I am a big fan of history to begin with, but being able to see first hand the family history of the woman I love is something truly special. Of course we would love to have Margie’s mom present to go through these photos with us, especially to enlighten us as to who some of the less familiar faces may be. Yet, it is through her passing that the gift of discovery and in some cases revelation of many family facts and stories.

On a more personal note, I could not be more grateful and excited to learn more about where the love of my life came from and the people, places and events that help shape her into the amazing woman she is today. Plus, adorable baby pictures like the one above are hard to pass up. I was honored to get to know her mother and see how Margie learned a lot of the traits that make her the woman I love. I am also humbled to be the man she chose to have by her side as she goes through with what is the most difficult time of her life. It is my sincere hope that the knowledge I am gaining by listening to the stories (and Storys) and looking at the pictures will help provide me with more and better ways to help provide her the love she needs as her heart makes the long journey towards healing.

pick your posse

Your selection of friends be they supportive or weighing. Smart, funny, depressing, spiritual, or just plain insane. Choose wisely as this will go a great way in defining your life experience

As I mentioned on Monday, this weekend was my high school reunion.  It was a rare chance to be in a large group of people having conversations that you may not have planned on. On a daily basis we are generally surrounded by a select few people. The key word here is ‘select’. Who does the selecting? That is the key point here. I found myself a few times in conversations that were rather uninspiring to say the least. I had not really noticed how much my circle have friends has changed, or to be more correct evolved as my pursuit of a more successful and rewarding life has. If your goal is to lose weight, you would not make it a habit to hang around people who have issues of over-eating. Consequently, if your goal is to live a life with more optimism, more direction, and more determination, you should make a point to befriend and spend time with people who if not have those very qualities, but at the very least will hold you accountable. So take a good look at your current circle of friends, is there someone who is always a ‘Negative Nancy’? Someone who always says “woe is me”. Limit your exposure to people who limit themselves, because inevitably they will end up limiting you. Now I can hear you saying “I would love to Neil, but they are my friends!” I can respond to that by offering you two very important pieces of information. First, if you do not value your own well-being over that of someone else’s hurt feelings you are not going to continue to evolve in life. Now, you don’t have to be mean, ditch your friends all together. In fact, I always recommend trying to get them involved. There are people I have the pleasure of speaking with on almost a daily basis and I have enlisted their help in accomplishing my goals. All you have to do is make yourself accountable. I have said to a friend of mine, “Kim, every time we chat, ask me how the book is coming or ask me how the writing went” Not only does it hold you accountable, but your friends play a key part in your success, which fosters a feeling of gratitude within you for the friendship. Thus, the friendship becomes stronger. Now, back to our negative nancy example. If you say, “Sandra, I am trying to build a more optimistic outlook, so if you hear me sounding negative can you give me a reminder?” that may work in one of two ways. One, your friend may develop a more optimistic outlook themselves by assisting you. If so, great. They may also go with the Debbie downer aspect and say things like “OK, but it won’t work” In this case you don’t have to comment on their negative attitude or even try to fix it. Just run like hell! maybe not literally, but let this be a red flag. Now if you are still concerned with limiting or even eliminating negative people from your life, you can start by adding positive people. Think of the area of your life you wish to work on. Weight loss? Find a friend who is a healthy eater, sticks to their workout routine, or even just has a very encouraging attitude. Finances? Find a friend who is good with their own. Start spending more time around them. With adding more positive influences, the negative ones with naturally fall away. So, take a look at your current circle of friends. are there some you could benefit by spending more time with? Some you could do with spending less time with? Then make up your mind and begin to pick your own posse!