YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE…๐ŸŒž

Where I live, there has not been a sunny day in weeks. For someone with Seasonal Affective Disorder, this can be a serious challenge. I am sure a lot of you in the northern hemisphere feel the same way. Those of you in the southern hemisphere…care to host a book signing?๐Ÿ˜‰

Considering we cannot change the weather (trust me I’ve tried) I thought about what we can do to keep our spirits up during the cloudy weather ๐Ÿค”. We have to not only bring our own sunshine, we have to be sunshine for others! That is what I am encouraging you all to do this week. Find ways you can be the sunshine for your friends family and even complete strangers!

How can we be sunshine for others? The possibilities are endless! We can post positive comments on other’s social media pages. We can send someone a card in the mail. Remember those? How about surprising someone with an inexpensive, yet thoughtful gift? Paying a sincere compliment to someone helping you in a retail environment?

I would love to hear any suggestions you may have to bring sunshine to others. The more we share here, the more we can make the world a sunny place! ๐ŸŒž

IT IS THE LITTLE THINGS

For those of you has been following this blog for any time, or those who know me, realize winter is a tough time for me. I drive to work in the dark, drive home in the dark. For someone who loves the sun, this is tricky. Not to mention, we have not had a sunny day here in several weeks.

One thing I’m working on this year, is to find as many positive things as possible. Even though I write these blogs, trust me when I tell you there are many issues I’m working on too. Staying positive in winter is one of them. Today, while checking the weather on my phone, as you can see in the picture above, I noticed the sun had set a minute later! That means, the days will start to lengthen from here until June!

One minute certainly isn’t much, and you can see Friday it will be -2, but it is something. That’s kind of the secret to remaining positive. Finding the little light in the darkness. It is the flower growing in the crack in the pavement. It is the smile from a stranger on a tough day. Look for all the good you can in your own life. Remembering, quite often, the little things are the big things. โ˜บ๏ธ

THEY DID IT FOR YOU!๐ŸŽ„

Anyone who knows me even a little, and most of you who read this, are aware that I do not like winter, the cold or anything associated with it. In my neck of the woods, everything looks dead and brown. As winter progresses, the snow turns grey and black with pollution and dirt. This means, everywhere you drive, you see dead brown trees. Dirty snow with brown grass underneath. These are not the most inspiring sights.

Any indication these things are on the way tends to dim my enthusiasm. So, when on November 1st, I see people putting up Christmas decorations I mumble to myself as I am driving by. That is until I read this picture above. It made me think how much putting up decorations may improve the mood of those doing it. In addition, their efforts bring light and a sense of joy to the afore-mentioned dark and gloomy atmosphere. I always saw winter decorations as a sort of harbinger of doom. I know, not very cheery for a motivational author. Living with Seasonal Affective Disorder in a state with 9 months of winter will do that to you. Now, however, I see them in an entirely different light. Pun intended. These decorations, while alerting me to the frosty temps and snow about to come, add a splash of color and cheer to a bleak environment. Some of them are even rather humorous.

I once heard Tony Robbins list in his grateful journal going to the movies. Some people grumble at the price of a ticket, which could be understandable. He told us to focus on something else. There were people who spent days, months and often years, not to mention millions (sometimes hundreds of millions) of dollars to create 2 hours worth of entertainment for you. Actors studied and practiced their lines. They spent countless hours on set, in make up chairs and more. Directors searched and tried countless camera angles and dialogue. Make up artists worked to get looks just right. Set designers. People in the computer graphics department. Writers and story board creators. Audio people. Lawyers. There are so many people involved it is crazy. Sit through the credits once and look at the people involved. Those are just the ones listed. There are countless others whose names did not make it on the big screen. The janitors who cleaned up after. The security who guarded the set. All of this so we could laugh, cry, scream or be held in suspense for a few hours. I had my own television show for a while. Trust me when I tell you, there is so much more that goes into creating content than you can imagine.

The one thing that changed my whole experience with both of these situations, and thus my level of joy and happiness, was a change in perception. When it comes to living an amazing life, is not joy and happiness what matters? Wayne Dyer once said, “When we change the way we look at things; the things we look at change.” I think this is true in both of these occasions. Next time you see a feature film, or your neighbors Holiday decorations, send them a thought of gratitude for their efforts to bring you joy. They are making our world a better and brighter place.

THE CHALLENGE BEGINS ๐Ÿฅถ

What a crazy week it has been! November in Wisconsin, the state I live in, can be one of the hardest months for me. To say that I am not a fan of cold weather is one severe understatement. My good fortune is that up until recently, the weather has been mild for this time of year. In fact, last Thursday the high temperature was 75 F. By the next day, the high temperature was only 40F. If you are keeping score at home, that is a drop of 35 degrees in one day. On top of that, I get home from work at roughly 2:40pm and today the sun set at 4:29pm. Not much light to enjoy which causes the energy levels to plummet. I even started wearing my winter coat.

All of this can really cause my mood to go south as well. This year, I am determined to keep my spirits up. I am going to really put into practice a lot of the things I teach in my first two books, A Happy Life for Busy People and Living the Dream. I am also exploring some new things such as daily use of a ‘Happy Lamp’ for artificial sunlight and creating a list of things that lift my spirits. This should help a great deal. Those of us in the Northern hemisphere could use a little lift and I am suggesting you approach it as a challenge. That is what I plan to do. I can’t change the weather, but I can find more and unique ways of adapting. If you have any other additional tips and tools to help keep my mood up as the sun stays down I would LOVE to hear them.

THE TIME TO PREPARE IS NOW!๐Ÿ˜ฒ

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!

FINDING JOY WHERE THERE WAS NONE

Above is a picture of a trail I was walking on this past Monday. As you can see, the trees are turning colors and many of them have already lost their leaves entirely. It is fall here in the city of West Allis Wisconsin where I live. This means temperatures are starting to dip, birds are packing their bags and flying south for the winter ( I am a little bit jealous but I will get over it ) Snow will soon cover the ground and there will be a few days when even stepping outside will be hazardous to your health. This is truly not the climate for me. I suffer from a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is where feelings of emotional depression and hopelessness can creep in as the seasons change. In short, my mood tends to drop with the temperature. This has something to do with the bodies reduced exposure to sunlight they say. All I know is, for me, winter sucks.

As I continue to further my plan to become a best-selling author and move to San Diego, I am also on the lookout for ways to make living in a northern climate more bearable. My beautiful Margie bought me a “Happy Lamp” which mimics the sunlight. As a matter of fact, I am using it as I write this blog for all of you. I make sure to exercise daily, take vitamin D and do all of the other things they recommend. Still, at times especially after the holidays, I can find myself in a serious funk! As I was walking on this breezy fall day watching the leaves fall from the trees I noticed something off to the side of the trail – a mushroom growing right out of a tree!

As you can see in the picture above, it almost looked fake. My mother, who was walking with me at the time, laughed with me as we marveled at the strangeness of it. About a mile further down the trail I saw something else, a sign in the middle of some tall grass. This indicated there was some additional side trail we had not known about earlier. Although we choose not to explore it that day due to an over consumption of coffee prior to heading out on this walk, we certainly made a note of it. Here is the funny thing, neither of these things would have been noticeable if the leaves had been on the trees or if the grass had been full and green. It was only through the ‘death’ of the season that we discovered these things.

I began to ponder as we walked along. Thinking as I walked, which I so often do. This is true for the passing of the seasons, but it is also true in many other areas of our lives. When we lose a job, we not only develop a sudden appreciation for the reliable income that comes with a job we must go to everyday, but we also are forced to be creative in our search for new employment. We brush up both our resume and networking skills. Perhaps we consider taking a new course or starting that side business. We may even have an opportunity to pursue something more in line with our passions. It is only with the loss of the job that all of this is usually made possible.

Even the sad situation of losing someone we care about brings many things to light. Memories and things you may not have appreciated about that person. Love for, and the importance of, life itself. The value of the relationships we have with others. Making sure that we live our lives in such a way that we give the most to others while we are here. All of these very important, and often positive, events seem to occur after we lose someone close to us.

Could any of these things happen without the loss? Perhaps. I could venture off the path while I am walking and see what I find. We can always start our passion based business or brush up our resume while still employed. Perhaps there are also ways to more fully appreciate the fragility of life without losing someone who means so much to us. These things are possible, but are often only brought to light through a loss. It is a great lesson the change of seasons can teach all of us. Even a future best-selling author in a state with 9 months of winter and 3 months of very poor sledding could come to appreciate some aspect of winter.

The point here is that in many situations that we feel a loss of joy, there are gifts to be found. In every challenge there is the seed of equal to or greater opportunity. This winter, in addition to the steps I am already taking, I will look for additional gifts the cold weather reveals. Snuggling closer to the beautiful woman I have in my life. Appreciation for the wonderful meals I can enjoy without leaving my house. The simple pleasures of a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter day. That is not to say that I would pass on that ocean front villa in the islands, but until then I shall look for the joy where there once was none.

NEVER CUT DOWN A TREE IN WINTER

This is a very important statement to ponder. You may even wish to print it out and keep it somewhere as a reminder. As I write this I am sitting in a newer Starbucks that has windows almost everywhere. This normally would be ideal, except it is like winter in Wisconsin where I live. Add to that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this disorder, more commonly known as S.A.D., is allow me to explain. S.A.D. is a condition that physically changes a person during the dark dreary months of winter. There are changes in hormonal levels that cause irritability at best and can bring on seasonal depression at worse.ย 

As you may imagine, this can be quite a challenge for someone who lives for inspiring and encouraging others. That challenge is compounded by living in a state that seems to have winter 9 months out of the year. We are working on changing that. (San Diego stay tuned) I can be in moods that are less than ideal in the coming months. Fortunately for me, the passion I have leads me to look for solutions instead of just acknowledge the problems.

It has also instilled in me a passion for controlling my emotional states. This can be helpful all year long. It is often tempting to make a decision when we are in an extreme emotional state. Especially when we are angry. The adrenaline these emotions give us can leave us feeling more powerful and motivated. Generally, this is a positive aspect of life and can be great if we use it to go to the gym and have an intense workout for example. This is why it is so important to have a healthy way of dealing with anger put in place before it occurs.

Extreme emotional states can twist our perception of reality. We tend to see things different than they really are and very often worse than they really are. Remember just as we have days that are meant to challenge us and make us grow, so do others. A good portion of the world has not learned to use challenges for growth. Sometimes their ignorance may manifest as poor treatment of you. Instead of getting mad and treating them harshly, why not use their treatment of you as an example of how to use challenges for growth. In my past, I did not always respond to challenging situations in a healthy way. It was those who responded with patience and understanding that taught me far more than those who responded with anger of their own.

Here is another reason, albeit a bit more selfish one, to not respond in anger. It saves you from looking like a fool. We all know a couple that personifies this. One day they are posting how terrible each other are on social media. They next day they are madly in love. Not only does this make you look silly, it weakens your relationship and calls into question the integrity of your character. Although having it in black and white for the world to read is pretty dramatic, the same holds true for what you say in person. If you are having a disagreement with someone be it your friend, spouse or coworker and you proceed to share the details and bad mouth them to everyone you see, it does not reflect as poorly on them as it does on you. Imagine what the person you are talking to will think when you have a disagreement with them? Fight to master your emotions. It will serve you, it will serve those who are in your life.ย 

WHAT TO DO WITH THE WINTER BLUES


Here is the latest addition of See Beyond magazine. I invite you to not only check out my article on page 32, but do read through the rest of the magazine as there is plenty of good information you can use.
My article is about my personal struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and the ways in which I do my best to counteract it. Just click on the link below to read the whole article. Again, it is on page 32.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE LATEST ISSUE OF SEE BEYOND

A GREAT FEELING

Here is a picture I took at our local library. I happened to be searching for a few films to bring home when I decided to search for my own book. Imagine my joy when not one, but four copies came up! It gave me a great feeling to know that many people were interested in what I had written.

I do not share this out of conceit, but as a tool. A personal revelation is that I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. This time of year there are times when it is very hard for me to remain upbeat. The lack of sun and cold weather can really sap my energy and my spirit.

As an author, blog writer and speaker on all subjects positive this can leave me with an interesting challenge. I have recently written what I think is a very enlightening and helpful article for the January issue of See Beyond magazine. For today, I will share with you one of the tools I personally use to get me thorough this tough season.

Surrounding myself with reminders of positive aspects of my life good a long way to lift my spirits. Whether it is vacations, race medals or pictures of my book being available at the local library.

Reminders of what we have done right in life are always a good idea to keep on hand. What items do you use to remind yourself what a great person greets you in the mirror every morning?

BE ON PURPOSE

I did a YouTube video on this subject a while back titled Waking up in Neutral. You can find the link on the bottom of this blog post. It is a subject that bears repeating. In my daily work I see and hear people who leave their lives up to circumstance. Oh sure, they may not view it or certainly say it this way, but that is indeed what they are doing. I will hear such reasoning as “Did you see how much mail I have to deliver?” or “Can’t you see it is raining outside?” Quite often I have to stop myself from inquiring, “Let me get this straight, you are telling me the amount of work/sunshine will determine how happy you are going to be?”

What I want to remind all of us, including myself is that we are giving away one of the greatest powers we have – choice. When we put our feet on the ground first thing in the morning we have a choice. We can decide it is going to be a bad day, a good day or as most of us do, wait and see what kind of day it will be. As someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder and lives in a state where the two seasons consist of 9 months of winter and 3 months of really bad sledding, I can fully understand some days are a little bit more of a struggle to smile in than others.

Some of us wake up in pain every single day. Some of us are facing life-long health challenges. Some of us are really going through some tough challenges. Understand in no way am I making light of your challenges. What I am telling you is even though it may not seem like it, you have a choice. Let us take the example of Helen Keller. She was both deaf and blind. More of a challenge than most of us face. Yet she wrote several books, became the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree. Do you think she could have done all that by saying “I’ll be happy when I can see and hear again.”? Of course not. What did she have to say about life?

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

If someone facing that much of an obstacle can overcome their own feelings and accomplish great things, why can’t we? When you wake up first thing in the morning you can say to yourself or out loud would be even better, “Today will be a great day!” Why let you job, the weather, your health or anything else tell you what kind of day you are going to have? You decide. Say to yourself, “No matter what comes my way, I am going to have a great day.” You might feel down at times, you may get angry, you may cry, but do not let that stop you from having a great day. You boss may chew you out, don’t let them ruin your day. Your spouse may be in a bad mood, don’t let that ruin your day.

Easier said than done? You bet, but that is due in large part because we are out of practice. We have given away control over our own emotional well-being for so long it is almost hard for us to understand that we can have control over how we feel. I am going to give you 3 quick tips to help you along the way. Use these when the car breaks down, when you are asked to work overtime and you really just want to go home or any other such challenge comes up.

First and most important, begin each day with gratitude. This has been such a clichรฉ these days you may be tempted to overlook it – don’t. Beginning your day saying to yourself, “At least I am still employed. I am have chance to earn some money.” starts you off in a far better mood than “Do I really have to go to work again?” The next two items can turn any day into a game of finding the way to succeed. When a challenge comes up I want you to do two things. First ask yourself, “Am I going to let this have control over MY day?” It is indeed your day. Why give your happiness, your well-being over to the boss, the spilled cup of coffee or whatever else is upsetting. Next I want you to ask yourself this question, “How can I use this?” The boss blaming you for something that isn’t your fault? How can you use that? Maybe practice your ability to stay calm and convey your opinions in a constructive manner. It is raining and you had a fun day at the ballpark planned. How can you use that? Stay home and work on that book you planned on writing.

If you look hard enough you can always find ways to use whatever life throws at you. If Helen Keller can use her blindness and deafness to her advantage, can’t we do the same with whatever struggle we are facing?

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO