Giving Thanks

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.Meister Eckhart

Let us all give thanks this day and every day. So many people in the US are traveling to be with family. I cannot understand that. Truly, why take the chance for a day or two of eating together? There are many ways to stay safe no matter what you do. I have three kids in three different states and my wife is away. So I will be celebrating by giving thanks for them being in my life.

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. A.A. Milne

I have been puzzling over how to keep moving forward through this pandemic. Here in the US, millions are setting off on the road and in the air. The flights overseas are incredibly limited. Massive airports are empty. I am one of those people who enjoys airports. When I was a little boy, my hero-uncle worked at our local airport as a mechanic. We would go visit him, and it was such an amazing place to me. The international areas of airports really are one of the most incredible places to me. I miss traveling, but at my age and with my health conditions, I wouldn’t even dare get on a plane right now. This morning I was cleaning and found my travel backpack had fallen behind some things. As I cleaned it, I started thinking of where I would like to travel to, after I get to hug and be with my kids again.

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus. Stephen Hawking

I would like to share my meal with all of you. From the top left to right: Stuffing – my mom made wonderful sage and cornbread stuffing, but that was decades ago. I like the tartness of cranberries, and they are essential in one form or another. My family always had creamed corn casseroles with saltine crackers – simple but the memories it brings back are priceless. Gravy – this was always one of my Dad’s favorites, and he never failed to tease my mother, asking her is the gravy wavy? Mashed Potatoes are a great filling part of the meal. I thought about adding mac and cheese also, but holy heck the carbs are already too much for me (maybe over the weekend :-). This year I am having a walnut brownie mug cake instead of pumpkin pie. Confession – I ate the pie already. I bought a small pie to share with my young remote learning students in China – and, well, it was delicious. I don’t have the room for a full size turkey any way. I’ve cooked many turkeys in my day. So this year it’s a microwave turkey dinner for me. No leftover turkey. Cold turkey is another joy I will have to do without this crazy year. Oh yeah, I gave myself a Christmas candy cane early this year, because I have been the best boy I could be.

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust

We all must measure the risks we are willing to take. This is true every day. We can run into unexpected risks in a variety of ways. For instance, this morning I was going to wander the beach. I have been driving over instead of walking, to reduce my chance encounters with people on the way. When I got there, the tides were rolling in higher than normally. This was not a risk I was willing to take, since I have dodged tides down there that have swept all the way up the beach. Don’t take chances right now.

That’s my Thanksgiving dinner, physically alone, but with my loved ones in my heart. I hope you all are able to spend time with someone who means the world to you. If not, please find reasons to give thanks for this day, and every day. Say a little prayer for your loved ones.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Make Your Soul Grow

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it. – Kurt Vonnegut

I normally spend part of each morning and evening reading, browsing through interesting facts, articles, and images. At various times during the rest of the day, I create things. I write, paint, and draw. But I also cook, clean and tend to the menial things that makes the world go ’round. This morning, to my delight I discovered the story behind the quote above. For an English assignment, a group of New York high school students had to send letters to favorite writers and Vonnegut was the only who replied. You can read his letter HERE. In the letter, Vonnegut advises the students to write their very best six line poem, and tear it into tiny pieces when they finish. “…you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

Make Your Soul GrowKurt Vonnegut’s letter read by Sir Ian McKellen

Our souls are not one size fits all. Your soul does not come preformed, packaged and ready-to-wear. Your soul is a unique universe nested within a universe of universes. Scientist have even tried to weight the soul as it departs upon death. The weight of the soul can be measured by the impact on the lives of others. The soul’s mass can be measured by life’s impact on you. But please do not measure yourself against the “famous”. You are unique. The word unique is regularly misused. Uniquebeing the only one of its kind; unlike anything else. And the gravity of your uniqueness increases through your experiences with others and with yourself. As the author of “The Little Prince wrote”…To live is to be slowly born.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The master storyteller Vonnegut recommended students make art throughout their lives. He wrote to them “…Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame…” Art, the act of creating, has shaped my soul more than anything. And I include love as part of art. Love germinates in the soul before it grows between: a couple, family, pets, nature… Love is Art expressed in infinite ways. Art is Love revealed through the reflections in immeasurable eyes. Any “student of life” is also a student of love-art-hope-faith-wonder. There is no sense to it, no rhyme or reason. In fact, as Picasso said, The chief enemy of creativity is “good” sense.

Your life is a creative act of faith. No matter the situation, to keep going forward requires faith in oneself and the soul’s connection to something – anything. The more positive connections one can make, the more the soul grows and expands. I learned this lesson as little boy. My beloved grandfather died. I was lost for a time – adrift in a world without the one person who accepted and nurtured me without hesitation. The loss of the great soul in my life though led me eventually to discover the goodness in my heart, the positive energy flowing through my soul. My grandpa is still with me, as are so many others dead and living. In this way, I feel my soul is like the universe – ever-expanding at the speed of life. The known is finite, the unknown infinite.Thomas Huxley

I have a three-part assignment for you, like Vonnegut. Gaze out a window today. Clear your thoughts and just look. Let your mind wander the landscape around you. Engage all your senses. Gaze at the nature, humanity, spirit, art; listen to the shouts, laughter, songs; smell the meals cooking, the rain on the asphalt, the salt and sewer; feel the wind, stroke the sill’s rough-smoothness, caress life; taste the air, savor the zest of becoming, appreciate the joy of making your soul grow. Now create something – an artifact of that joy your discovered, or re-discovered. It doesn’t have to be grand. It is already perfect because it is an expression of your soul. Now, give that object to someone you love. Tell them you love them. Mean it when you say it. Be fearless and truthful. Let your souls grow closer.

Count Your Blessings

Reflect upon your present blessings – of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. – Charles Dickens

The word blessing carries different connotations depending on one’s personal beliefs. Eudaimonia is a Greek word for happiness, human flourishing, and blessedness. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, used the word to represent the highest human good. This happiness blesses life with meaning and fullness. Overall, when one is blessed there is a presence walking beside you. A sense your feet on on the right path, at least for now. All people have been blessed. The blessing of the first light to enter your newborn eyes lights your soul to this day and unto your last day on earth. There may be many rough patches on our path, but there will be an abundance of blessings as well. Count on it.

Some days we feel like a fish out of water. The world we understood falls away and leaves us stranded. A cursed day has been visited upon us. You could surrender to the dire straits and be annihilated; or gather up the necessary courage for the struggle ahead. To overcome adversity, you have to count your many blessings. Let goodness and grace fill your heart. All of us have been dragged down and stepped on at one time or another. But we have found the strength to endure and once again flourish. This is the core of our shared human-nature. We have all been blessed by the tens of thousands of ancestors that came before us.

The modern world is blessed with incredible varieties of foods. Sharing this abundance with those we love is one of life’s great blessings. Nurturing the bounty of the land with your own two hands connects your life to the vitality of our good Earth. Seed to seedling to ripe maturity we too flow through many life-cycles. The ever-changing rhythms of life can gallop or crawl. Just remember, life is not a race. The goal is not to hurry to the end, or to be so busy you don’t appreciate the journey. Slow down the pace and count your blessings. Take stock of both the fullness and the limitations. Pay special note of the loved ones in your life. They bless each day with happiness beyond measure.

There will always be unknowns on your path. That too is one of the great blessings of life. Imagine for a minute what an entirely predictable day would be like. Life is not meant to be live in an unchanging tedium. The challenges we face are what define our character. The unfamiliar, unexplained, and uncharted bless us with the opportunity for self-discovery. As T.S. Elliot wrote, “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” Challenge yourself to discover the blessing within the unknown.

Your soul is eternal, but your body has but one life. No one knows the number of days they have, and that is perhaps one of our greatest blessings. Do your best to live each day as fully as possible. There is no need to take extreme measures to increase the excitement, or sense of fulfillment. Your everyday life contains countless benedictions. May your daily blessings fill your heart with light. Peace and Love.

Love Peace and Soul

Wherever there is love, there is life. Mahatma Gandhi

I have been dreading these days for months. This week in America the number of deaths due to the pandemic rose above 250,000 – A Quarter of a Million. And that number could possibly double before spring. I have found it difficult to find the light ahead. Yesterday and today were haunted by a deep and potent angst – dread, anxiety. The frightening amount of death – 250,000 – projected months ago had become all too real. But it is not the number. Like so many statistics, people lose sight of the reality behind the numbers – more than a quarter of a million unique people are no longer with us. Thinking about so many empty chairs and empty pillows, broke my heart. But this afternoon as I marveled at a double rainbow, I found hope in three words: Love, Peace and Soul

Warren Zevon Keep Me in Your Heart for a While

I learned about love from my mom. I learned how to give love from becoming a father. And I learned how to receive love from my children. An old song from my childhood said, What the world needs now is love. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love those around you. Love that you are on this good earth. No matter your troubles and woes – You are Here and You are Loved. Life is the divine vessel for receiving and giving love. All of us alive now are cousins. And as cousins, we are family. Our human family could use a lot more love in our life right now at the end of this viscous year 2020. Please stop and think the next time you feel cross, or upset at others. Your cousins need your understanding. See the world through the prism of love, and there may truly be peace on earth.

To quote one of my heroes Louis Armstrong, It seems to me that the world isn’t so bad, its what we are doing to it… Love baby Love, that’s the secret.

I wrote a week ago about how my WWII combat veteran uncle said they won the peace. Peace can be hard to maintain in uncertain times. But we all can seek inner peace. Increased inner peace will lead to increased world peace. Inwardly peaceful/ Outwardly peaceful. Find a way to calm your heart and soothe your mind. When I was young, other boys started fights with me. Maybe it was because I was big for my age, or I didn’t run away. My dad told me to never start a fight, but always end them. And I ended every one and never lost a fight. But afterwards, I felt terrible. Later in life, I figured those terrible feelings must have been because those bullies took away my peaceful nature. I have since learned how to cultivate inner peace. Nurture your inner peace and feed your soul.

Love Peace and Soul

When I was young guy (still am on the inside 🙂 I used to watch the TV show Soul Train. The R&B, Soul and Blues music resonated with something deep inside me. The host, the great Don Cornelius, ended every show with the words Love, Peace and Soul. That three word blessing set loose a stream of positive energy washing over my heart every time. Although the effect only lasted a few minutes, the vibration was there, harmonizing with the greater world, out there over the rainbow. Those three words – Love – Peace – Soul – plugged my heart into real human power. America was a troubled place when I was a kid: war, assassinations, protests, riots. But those troubles gave rise to soulful expressions in music and other arts. Just as the Dark Ages gave rise to the Renaissance, these times that try our souls, will also inspire great outpourings of creativity.

Al Green – United We Stand – October 2001 – Change is Gonna Come

Many cultures celebrate holidays at the end of the year: Diwali – the Festival of Lights was last weekend, and next week America will celebrate Thanksgiving. This year there have been a lot of discussions about whether or not to hold traditional Thanksgiving get-togethers. In a word – NO!

Why would you risk killing your close family and friends and at the same time, risk the lives of every one they meet in the next two weeks. Is marking another holiday worth becoming one of the potential 250,000 who might die before spring? Just for some turkey, pie and cranberry? Stay home. The life you save may be your own or those your love. Celebrate Thanksgiving by enjoying some Love, Peace and Soul. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay home.

The Beatles Here Comes the Sun

My Book’s New Cover

I redesigned the cover of my book – Unboxing Your Soul.

We are all wandering timelessly through paradise. Unboxing your soul reveals who you truly are. After a miraculous epiphany changed my life forever, I wanted to share what manifested in my life after I unboxed my soul. I hope by reading this book you can discover your own unique way to unbox your soul and manifest a brighter future.

In this book there are over one hundred reflections in five sections through progressively deeper layers of the Self: Self-Expression, Self-Esteem, Self-Awareness, Self-Actualization, and Self-Transcendence. There are nearly one hundred fifty inspirational quotes and terms to encourage your journey. Additionally, there are two hundred tips for improving your life from general wellness to transcendence. I sincerely wish you peace and happiness on your journey. Everyone’s journey is different, but the broad steps are similar. Peace

Lightgiver

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Martin Luther King Jr.

Light is life. The sparkle of humankind increases with all our distinctive lights. Each and every open heart illuminates life and drives away doom and gloom. A life lived in willful ignorance is woven from shadows. And there have always been malevolent specters who fabricate falsehoods in order to snare the misinformed and oblivious. But they can be turned from seeking further darkness. Be a lightgiver. Stand firm and shine with a steady light at the crossroads. Light the way for them. Shine forth with the unwavering conviction.

Our Universe, and our life emerged from the darkness into the light. The spectrum of truth in our life is reflected in our viewpoint. This point of view is changeable. Day after day, bad news, dire warnings, and gray skies can dampen the spirits and paralyze the will. It is in anticipation of these days that we must steel our hearts and strengthen our spirits. When hope is overshadowed by uncertainty, resist immersing your soul further into the darkness. Look beyond the pale shadows of doubt. Persevere. Rise up into the light and shed the gray cloak of resignation.

Let me use our homegrown bitter melon as an illustration of perseverance. Bitter melon is a powerful medicinal vegetable. It originally came from India where it is known as karela. It is eaten throughout Asia in fact. My wife enjoys eating them not just for the taste but for the healthiness. To her the flavor is delicious, nutritious and healthy. As an American from the Midwest, they are strange, bitter and I swallow the pieces without chewing. But I believe in their health benefits, because I trust and believe in my wife. The plant does not grow outside easily where we live, and so she made a window box and planted it inside. Each day she cared for the plant, and watched the sunlight power its growth, until the plant sprouted a single bitter melon. Just before it was time to harvest, my wife’s dad died and she had to go back to her hometown.

I continued to care for her beloved bitter melon, and promised to collect the seeds. A week after she left, the plant burst open and started dropping these blood red seeds. Although we are almost 10,000 miles apart, we are making plans for next season. That is what we all must do now. Although we may be away from loved ones, we must trust and plan for the light of next year. Believe the seasons to come will be brighter, and they will.

Each day the sun rises, and each day the sun sets. It is darkest before the dawn. But the light always returns. The truth and beauty of life is eternal. In the darkest times, a million lights glow within us: faith, hope, truth, love, peace, happiness, and more. These are the lightgivers of our lives. Positive light conquers the negating dark. Hold up the candle of hope and guide others away from despair and into the light. Stay safe and keep healthy. Peace

We the People of the World

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. – J.R.R. Tolkien

The covid-19 pandemic has sent our world whirling down an accelerated timeline. Those breezy pre-pandemic leisure moments are gone. All jobs have changed forever. Distance learning and remote work are the future. These changes are just beginning. Above all else, we need to keep our faith in each other. Many years from now, the history of this time will show this wretched pandemic was stopped by the people – We the People of the World. It will be us, united against this common enemy, that will extinguish the deadly hellfire of the covid virus. The day-to-day real burdens fall on our shoulders. We and our loved ones, must do the heavy lifting, sacrifice and adapt. To be victorious, me must have faith in ourselves and in We the People of the World.

Between 1776-1777, Thomas Paine wrote a series of thirteen pamphlets entitled, “The American Crisis”. Just before Christmas of 1776, he published the first of the series. The work begins with one of the most famous lines in American History: “These are the times that try men’s souls”. This line became the watchword for Washington’s troops. A watchword is: a word or short phrase to be communicated, when challenged, to a sentinel or guard. Paine used the pseudonym – Common Sense. In these modern trying times, we must use our common sense in order to survive and keep the faith in one another.

Unexplored lands were often designated on maps with fanciful mythological creatures. Great unknowns now occupy the lands of our minds. Billions of lives have unraveled and shattered. According to the United Nations, working hours fell 14 per cent during the second quarter of 2020 – equivalent to the loss of 400 million full-time jobs. Think for a moment of the impact on people’s lives that loss of income made. We all are feeling it. The demon viral creature still stands at the border between here/now and the horizon.

Thomas Paine’s intellect was a product of the Age of Enlightenment. The Enlightenment began with Newton and Descartes (I think therefore I am). Some of the guiding principles of the Enlightenment include: liberty, tolerance and progress. This is the third decade of the 21st Century. And we have been given the task of rebuilding our world. Some enlightened governments will rise to the challenge and perform well; other less enlightened ones will falter and fail, leaving their citizens to fend for themselves. People of privilege long ago insulated themselves from the impacts of the pandemic. We, the multitudes, must walk beyond the rubble and ruin of the old world. With our hope-filled hearts, we will build this new world ahead as we did the last.

All we know for certain is Today. But remember, yesterday was once today; and tomorrow will become today. To quote Mahatma Gandhi “The future depends on what you do today.” Today is yours. Today is ours. This day can shine like a miracle. Strengthen your resolve to endure and prosper. To succeed, we the people of the world can pledge ourselves to the promise of peace and love. The fog of uncertainty and doubt will pass. We the people of the world can find a way – if we work together. Keep the faith in each other. …You and I are children of one faith, for the diverse paths of religion are fingers of the loving hand of the one supreme being, a hand extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, eager to receive all. Kahlil Gibran

Win the Peace

Today is Veterans Day in the US. This is the day set aside to honor military veterans. The day was originally called Armistice Day, because November 11, 1918 at 11:11 AM soldiers laid down their arms and hostilities were suspended. It wasn’t until 1926 that Congress officially recognized the end of World War One. Part of that resolution included this passage: Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations. In 1954 after World War Two and the Korean War, the day was renamed Veterans Day. I come from a very long line of veterans. My ancestors fought in countless wars and battles. From the veterans in my life I learned the sacred value of PEACE. Peace is the precious gift they paid for with their youthful vigor. “We won the Peace” one of my uncles said once at a family gathering. All my battle-scared uncles, my dad and their wives paused for a moment of silence before raising their glasses to peace.

I never got to know my mom’s father. He was a veteran of the trench warfare of WWI – the war to end all wars. During the war, he was hit with poison gas several times. After the war he was a sharecropper and coal miner. My mother told me, in lieu of government military payments, they had WWI vets sell Buddy Bars – candy bars. They were paid a commission on the candy they could sell. Such a thing would be inconceivable now. This treasured “Buddy” hat is one of the few items I have from my grandfather. My mom told me during the Great Depression my warmhearted grandfather always kept a pot of ham and beans on the stove, in case he saw someone in need. When a neighborhood child was stricken with spinal meningitis, my grandfather drove him to a distant hospital. Afterwards, he caught the terrible disease and died. He had sacrificed himself for a child. My twelve year old mom had to leave school and go to work in a laundry to help support her family. To the day she died,she hated the song “Taps” which is played at veterans’ funerals.

Veterans have not always been well taken care of. After World War One the families of the vast majority of WWI vets were in desperate need. For instance, the government passed the World War Adjusted Compensation Act in 1924 which would not be paid until 1945. As the Great Depression wore on, a group of tens of thousands of veterans and their families marched on Washington in July 1932. Calling themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Army, they demanded payment of their promised compensation. The payment of a veteran “bonus” went back to America’s founding in 1776. At the end of the Revolutionary War in 1781, the Army was disbanded. In 1783 the government still hadn’t paid the veterans bonuses (land and cash). A group of veterans marched on the Philadelphia (the capital at the time). The Congress fled and sent in the Army to expel the protesters. The same thing happened to the so-called “Bonus Army”.

Republicans in the US Senate voted down a bill to pay out the promised bonus. President Hoover ordered the Secretary of War to disperse the peaceful protesters. Soldiers pushed out the unarmed veterans. When the vets tried to re-enter their encampment, local police shot and killed two of them -William Hushka and Eric Carlson. Both these men are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The protesters fled across the river. Hoover ordered the Army to stand down, but their commander Douglas MacArthur disobeyed. MacArthur’s infantry joined up with the cavalry, and six tanks commanded by George Patton. They formed up on Pennsylvania Avenue. The veterans thought the military was there to support them and cheered the troops, until Patton ordered his men to charge the vets. The infantry fixed bayonets and used tear gas to evict the vets and their families. The President ordered them to stop several times. Despite his aid, Dwight Eisenhower advising against it, MacArthur ignored the orders again and charged across the river. Many people were injured in that attack which pushed the vets out of Washington.

Hoover lost the election. Roosevelt opposed the veteran’s payments. Veterans returned in May 1933. Roosevelt greeted them warmly, and his wife, on her own, met with the vets. Later, President Roosevelt issued an executive order allowing for 25,000 vets to join the Civilian Conservation Corps. Later, in 1936, a Democrat controlled Congress passed a bill authorizing the payment of $2 billion in WWI bonuses. Roosevelt vetoed the bill and Congress overrode the veto. In the end, the veterans had finally won the peace they had sought. But as we know, that peace was short lived. I am sure my twelve year old father did not know at the time, he would have his once peaceful world torn shattered just after graduating high school.

On November 11, 1921 the Tomb of the Unknown Solider was dedicated in Arlington National Cemetery. On Veterans Day the President will lay a wreath at the Tomb. The inscription reads: “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.” We must honor our veterans. They sacrifice so much in the service of their country. But veterans would tell you, their cherished dream is for peace. Many of my family are buried in military cemeteries. I grew up listening to their stories, but it is their spouses who loved them, and soothed their nightmares. My parents were reunited in death, as they share the same grave now. We must always remember, some vets, like my Dad, were haunted by the hellish horror of war their entire lives. Never forget the cause for which our brave veterans put it all on the line – PEACE.

Your True Colors

Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration. – Marc Chagall

They say red is the color of passion, but if you are not careful you can get caught red-handed. Green is the color of nature but also envy. People sometimes get the Blues, but, in business, brainstorming new ideas is called blue sky thinking. A person who is healthy is said to be “in the pink”, and at the same time, one can be tickled pink. Things that are clear are said to be in “black and white”, but in between the two can be a large a gray area. Today is the perfect time to show your true colors and chase away the grayness of the past few months.

In many world mythologies and religions, the universe was manifested out of darkness and chaos. A divine being or omnipotent force set in motion the creation. All things are manifestations of this initial point of origin. Just as our spirits were born from a cosmic realm into this world, and will one day return to the divine universe. Our perceptions color our life experience across a broad spectrum from pure light to, in hard times, deep darkness. Just as color is created by the reflection of light, your life can reflect your true colors.

People often ask, what is your favorite color? I answer blue and green. A recent trend asks, What is your “Birth Color”? To find out, use a search engine. Type in the six digit code of your birth. The format is up to you: month/day/year; or day/month/year, or year/month/day. Search for “hex color code ______”. You might discover why you have always liked a certain color. Here is my birth color, and it’s compliment. I put them next to those of my better half . I was not surprised to find another way we compliment one another in mystical ways.

A Gen Z trend you might see is using the color “Yellow” #yellow, or #myyellow. People then post a photo of the irreplaceable someone, or some thing that gives their life meaning and happiness. According to the urban Dictionary: You would do anything for them in a heartbeat. Your yellow is the type of person that can light up an entire room just with a smile. If someone calls you their Yellow, keep them close to you. They would do anything and everything for you.

The trend was inspired by the Coldplay song “Yellow” : Look How they Shine for you.

When it comes to understanding life, I turn to the greatest minds – children. I love kids. Perhaps it is because I have never fully “grown-up”. 2008 was the 50th Anniversary of the greatest treasure box in life – the 64-color box of crayons. I got my first several 64-count box years into grade school. I still remember the joy of putting them all in the box upside down so I could read the color names. I was thrilled simply by the fabulous names: To celebrate the 50th Anniversary, the Crayola company let kids name some colors based on their color associations. There choices show why kids are the greatest artists. A couple of their suggestions – Fun in the Sun – Orange; and my favorite – Super Happy – Yellow.

In China, in addition to my university classes, my wife and I had our own little school. Our classroom was near the grade school, and cheer the kids as they walked past, we painted the walls sunshine yellow, with a big shiny golden sun on the door. We taught English to hundreds of kids from 7-16 years old. The language barrier was difficult to get around sometimes, but a smile and patience would always win them over, plus my wife (the master teacher) was in the next room teaching. We would both teach an hour then switch groups. I structured my classes to always have a hands-on activity at the end. Their favorite activity was cooking. Oh my how they would happily shout when they saw the microwave was in my classroom that day. Their second favorite activity was arts and crafts. All children love to make stuff. Every kid, even the older ones, would get excited whenever they saw my big bags of markers. I can say without a doubt, their favorite color was red – they used up red markers five times faster than any other. Kids have a cherry red passion for creating.

Sometimes, my university students in China would go to visit less fortunate rural schools. These schools have few supplies for students. In some schools, students even have to bring their own desks. Several times, when some of my students told me they were going to visit one of these schools, I would buy a dozen or so packs of markers. Few things brighten a child’s dreary school day more than a rainbow of colors to create with. My university students would tell me I had a colorful life. Many times I have been awarded with the moniker “colorful character” – so true :-). Winter has arrived. These are the times of short days and long nights. Brighten the gray days of those around you like a rainbow of positive light. Let your true colors come shining through. Peace.

Color Our World with Joy

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. – Martin Luther King Jr

Today, painted with the first blush of angel blue,

Lights the horizon with cheery hope.

A joyous sparkling chorus

Rises from the fading shadows.

As a sweet breeze sweeps away the gloom,

The long dark night is coming to an end.

The promise of a new world

Lifts up the spirits of millions.

Great unknown mountains and

Broad tempest tossed seas

Await our best efforts.

Seize hope with both hands.

Gather up the promise of now.

Fashion the golden aspirations of today

Into bridges across the dark chasms of yesterday.

May the blessings in your life

Be as plentiful as the stars;

And the positive light of hope

Brighten your life forever.