Snap, Crackle, Pop ~ We’re All Free

independence-day-sharon-mick

 

Question, how many people still wear their Old Navy Flag shirt from 2002? LOL! Nothing screams 4th of July than that. Just one more reason I love this holiday.

Even though I don’t light off fire crackers, bake apple pie or get crazy drunk at a family barbecue anymore, doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate our Independence. I just look at this holiday a bit more maturely and my son is not a fan of fireworks. Otherwise, I would still probably be outside blowing up coffee cans.

Anywho, today is the National day of the United States. What does that mean? Well, fireworks, barbecues, parades, and family reunions of course. But have you stopped to think about the history of our freedom? It was actually July 2, 1776, during the American Revolution that the Thirteen Colonies received legal separation from Great Britain.

After receiving our freedom, Congress wrote the Declaration of Independence explaining this decision. Thomas Jefferson was the main author. It wasn’t until July 4 the document was finally approved.

It is believed that the first use of the term “Independence Day” was in 1791. And in 1938, the 4th of July became a national paid federal holiday. Thank you, President Roosevelt.

As our country has evolved, the term freedom has changed over the years. To many, freedom is all political. Freedom to vote, freedom or speech, etc. To others it’s financial. The freedom to have credit, savings and debt. Or the freedom from sin by the grace of God. And what about the freedom to dream, grow and be whoever you want to be?

This topic can get a little hairy because freedom means different things to different people. And on this day of freedom, I want to share my thoughts on the subject.

When I was a little girl, I ran free in my backyard. I had my own bedroom, food available whenever I was hungry, a bike to ride, and friends to play with. I got to go to school, watch Saturday morning cartoons, drink chocolate milk and eat ice cream. I had a Christmas tree, birthday parties and a stereo to listen to music. In my childhood days, that was freedom.

In my teenage years, freedom changed from being taken care of by my parents to exploring the world on my own. I had my own car, job and money. I got to make my own decision on what I wanted to wear, who I wanted to hang with and where I wanted to go. That was freedom.

In my early adult life, I got to vote for the first time, pay taxes, get loans, go to college, have my own house and even kids. Regardless of the hard work, it was still freedom.

Today all those freedoms above still hold true. But I can add a few more to the list. Like, the freedom to use the internet, access to medical care, worshipping in a church, and writing this post. Many across our world don’t have the right to these simple freedoms, but I do.

Freedom is far greater than just the right to act however I want. It also stands for allowing equal opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Freedom begins in the heart.

Where would we be if our founding fathers didn’t have the passion and drive within themselves to fight for a better life for their generation and the many generations to come?

 

Sadly, freedom does come with a price. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Freedom isn’t free.” And that is true. I have to thank all the military men and women who have served and lost their lives to keep mine safe. I believe, with all my heart, that our military is the best there is and they are true heroes. From the War of 1812 to the battles we are still fighting today, no one deserves honor and praise than every single soldier (past and present) fighting to keep me free. The heart and soul of a soldier has the same burning desires as our founding fathers.

On this day, I am thankful for my freedom. I am thankful for peace. I am thankful for God and country. I am not worried about terrorism, who can use what restroom, and which clown is running for President.

So whatever freedom is to you, embrace and celebrate it today. In fact, we should be celebrating it every day! And regardless if we agree on politics, religion or worldly views, we all have one thing in common that will never fade – we are Americans, we are loved by God and we are united. Let freedom ring!

Now go blow stuff up and eat apple pie. Happy 4th of July!

 

 

 

Make Someone’s Day By Giving Something Away

“Never worry about the numbers. Help one person at a time, and start with the person nearest you.” ~ Mother Teresa 

It takes way less work to be kind to other’s than it does to be hateful. You can make someone feel special by simple, small acts. If you aren’t sure how to be kind, you can always search Google, but I came up with a few ways you can make someone’s day.

I just like to smile, smiling’s my favorite.” ~ Buddy The Elf

Smile. Scientific studies show not only does smiling have a calming effect on others, but decreases stress for you as well. Smiling releases endorphins that make you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. Smiles are contagious and 50 percent of people will smile back. And my favorite trait of smiling, it makes you more attractive and trustworthy.

Make new friends but keep the old; One is silver and the other’s gold. ~ Anonymous

Say Hello To A Stranger. I think we tend to take social interaction and communication for granted. There are people who don’t have someone they can talk to every day. Striking up a conversation with someone you don’t know can make them feel noticed and important. And a bonus for you, you just might make a new friend or learn something new.

The worst feeling isn’t being lonely. It’s being forgotten by someone you would never forget. ~ Qoutesgram.com

Learn Someone’s Name And Use It. There is nothing worse than coming across someone you’ve met and for the life of you, you can’t remember their name. Not only is it embarrassing for you, it’s insulting to the other person. When I worked with middle school students, one of the most important things I learned was these kids wanted to feel important and that they mattered. It was our ministry goal to try to remember the names of the students who entered our door. It was hard because we would see over 300 students on a given weekend. But once I really started being intentional about knowing these student’s names, it became easier. Remembering a name is a win for both parties involved. For them, they feel like they matter. For you, the win is the trust and respect from the person who’s name you could recall. Here’s some tricks to help remember someone’s name.

  1. Upon introduction give your full attention. Make eye contact and shake their hand.
  2. Ask them to repeat their name if you didn’t fully catch it or are having trouble pronouncing it.
  3. Repeat the person’s name in the conversation, especially in the greeting and closing. Example, “Nice to meet you, Dee Dee.” and “It was great meeting you, Dee Dee.” 
  4. Write their name down.
  5. Use association to help trigger their name when you see them again. Example could be, “Brenda has blonde hair.” 

“Give me liberty or…OOO..a jelly donut.” ~ Homer Simpson

Bring Donuts To Work. There is no real reason other than who doesn’t like donuts? And random acts of kindness can always brighten someone’s day.

Nothing proves that you love someone more than mentioning them in your prayers. 

Pray For Someone. Prayer is one of the most powerful resources we have. And this world spits out some pretty nasty situations and circumstances. One way to make someone’s day is to simply pray for them. If you know a friend is hurting or a co-work is struggling, lift their name up in your prayer time. Or if you are brave enough, ask them if you could pray for them. If you do have someone ask for prayer or you offer to pray for them, really do it. Don’t just say you will be praying for them then don’t. That makes my blood boil like hot soup.

Give credit where credit is due. 

Praise Success. Don’t hold back telling someone they did something good. There is so much negative in our lives, bringing out the positive will defiantly make someone’s day. And it makes them feel important and they matter. Also, do be jealous of other’s when they do well. No one has time to deal with that.

 “Words written in love doesn’t just mark up paper, but leaves an imprint on you heart.” ~ A Dee Dee Baron Original 

Write A Note. It’s called pen and paper, people. Old-fashion, I know, but there is nothing more dear than receiving a hand-written note or card. Back in the day, we would pass notes to our friends and mail letter to pen pals. Some I still have from 20 years ago. Reading them today still holds as much sentiment as it did on the day I received them. Express your affection to other’s by writing a note. Send your thoughts via snail mail. The postal service can deliver more than junk mail and bills. P.S. I recently discovered my own children did not know how to address an envelope. I was floored. I thought they taught that stuff in school? Apparently, not anymore. If you don’t know how to address an envelope, here is a link on how to do that. Please learn.

How To Address An Envelope

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” ~ Mark Twain

Share A Compliment. Giving someone a compliment can go a long way. If you notice something awesome about someone, share it. One of my favorites, “You’re more fun than bubble wrap.”

It boils down to this. We all want to be noticed. We all want to be loved. These few steps don’t cost money, well except for the donuts and a stamp, (Yes, to mail something you have to purchase a stamp.) and their impact can literally change the outlook of someone’s day and possibly their world. All you have to do is rid yourself, if only for a moment, of selfishness. We all have the power to changes lives every time we walk out our front door. From opening a door for a stranger, to allowing a car to enter slow moving traffic. If we all did one act of kindness every day, not only would the world be a better place, but our own spiritual well-being would improve. It’s a complete win-win. So be awesome and make someone feel incredible.

Negative Road

Negative PeopleThis morning as I was driving into work there were two cars ahead of me. I couldn’t help but notice the car directly in front of me, the driver was throwing his hands up like he was irritated. That’s when I realized we weren’t traveling fast. The driver in front of me was upset because he couldn’t pass and he must have been in some kind of hurry. After a few more hand raises and some bobs of the head, the anxious driver could get around the speed limit abiding citizen and floor it down the road. As speed-racer passed, he gave a nice gesture and was gone. What a great way for those two people to start their day. One all pissed off and the other insulted for driving the speed limit.

It is easier to find the negative in situations than seeing the positive. When things don’t go our way, we immediately start to complain and gripe, not even blinking an eye. From being angry at the fast food restaurant putting onions on your burger, even though you specifically said, “No onions.” to being annoyed at your child for constantly leaving their backpack right in the pathway of the front door. Looking at the negative side of our situations seems to be our default setting.

You Can’t Litter Negativity Everywhere Then Wonder Why You Have A Trashy Life

I wonder why it is our nature to focus on the negative, instead of embracing the positive?  Was it the way we were raised? Is it the people we associate with? Perhaps it’s because we can’t catch a break and nothing in our life ever goes our way? I have no idea, but I do know negativity spreads like the plague and attaches itself to the people around us.

The older I get, the more I see myself picking and choosing the situations I allow myself to get “butt hurt” over. I guess you could say I am maturing, not being bothered by the trivial things. For example, my experience from earlier today. Instead of the angry driver getting all upset because the person in front of him as driving slower than he would like, he could have kept calm and waited for the opportunity to pass, enjoying the beautiful trees that hung over the road. I know I noticed them this morning. Instead, his negative attitude most likely trickled over to the innocent driver when he gave her the “bird.” I just hope that didn’t ruin her day and I sure hope that guy’s attitude improved or better yet, got a ticket.

We all need to stop being negative over stupid, little issues. Life is too short and just because negativity might be knocking on your door, that doesn’t mean you have to open it.

Not Your Ordinary Gratitude Post

Now that Halloween has come and gone, we can all start to get in the spirit of giving. I love this time of year. There are so many things I look forward to when the leaves change from green to the bright colors of orange, yellow and red, when the wind shifts ever so dramatically out of the North and the mornings are chilly enough for a jacket. Here are a list of a few things I enjoy during the fall.

  1. Pumpkin spice donuts and coffees. Heck, pumpkin spice anything.
  2. Sweatshirts.
  3. McDonalds brings back the McRib. (No judging.)
  4. Football.
  5. Daylight Savings Time. (It’s dark by 6 p.m. and I am ready for bed by 6:30 p.m.)
  6. Wearing boots.

Some are thankful for family and friends. Many are thankful for God.

This season is the sign the year is coming to an end, you realize you didn’t accomplish any of your New Year’s Resolutions and old man winter is going to be rearing his ugly head. Well, that’s what I think anyway. I am not hating on Fall, actually, it is my favorite time of year. There is an excitement in air which I have always enjoyed. It also makes me remember all I am thankful for. Tonight as I was Facebook stalking people, I noticed many posting the 30 Days of Thankfulness. I do like reading what my friends are most thankful for. Some are thankful for family and friends. Many are thankful for God. Personally, I am thankful for the McRib. Did I mention it is back?

It’s only when I dig out my Broncos hoodie and hang the Fall wreath on my door that I begin to feel appreciation and gratefulness.

In the past I have participated in posting on social media something I am thankful for each day during the month of November. I think it is a great way to appreciate others and the gifts God has given, but I couldn’t help but start to kick myself for not being more thankful through the year. I started thinking why do I not show thanks and feel thankful each and every day? I have blessings given to me all the time. I am given opportunities to show gratitude to others when I walk out my front door. But do I? Nope. It’s only when I dig out my Broncos hoodie and hang the Fall wreath on my door that I begin to feel appreciation and gratefulness. And for me, I think that is a damn shame.

I started digging around on the internet to see if I could find any statics of what Americans are most grateful for. I found a list of nine things we, as Americans, are grateful for from a 2013 survey conducted by International Business Times. Here is what they discovered. Cue drumroll.

  1. Health.
  2. Family relationships.
  3. Technology makes it easy to stay in touch with family and friends.
  4. Good technology is easily accessible.
  5. Personal economic situation.
  6. Personal work situation.
  7. It is safe to walk in the streets.
  8. The way people treat one another.
  9. The economic situation in the US.

Everyone’s list is different and is never complete.

These are all things we should be thankful for, I guess? Everyone’s list is different and is never complete. When I read that list, I tried to relate my blessings to each one of the nine answers. I could think of something for each of them, but I think my list would go like this.

  1. God.
  2. Family.
  3. Laughter.
  4. Health.
  5. Freedom.
  6. Job.
  7. Shelter.
  8. Happiness.
  9. McRibs. (Ok, ok. I’ll stop.)

One thing to be thankful for is having underwear.

The point I am trying to make is I wish I kept the attitude of gratitude with me every single day, in every season, 365 days a year. But just being real here, I don’t. There are days, even weeks, I feel I have nothing to appreciate. I walk around playing the victim card, thinking my life sucks. How messed up is that? In reality, it’s not. We live in a world where we struggle to make ends meet, rush around to get things done and barely have enough time left to make sure we change our underwear. One thing to be thankful for is having underwear.

As the month of November kicks off, embrace the season of giving. Let the spirit of appreciation feel you full until its spills out of your eyeballs. However, don’t let it dry out on January 1. Try to keep your blessings in the front of your mind all year long. Even on the days you think you have nothing to be thankful for. For me, it will be a challenge that is for sure. Here are some ideas to help motivate you to see the goodness in every day. Side note, apparently I am on a “list” kick at the moment.

  1. Showers.
  2. Having exact change.
  3. Colors.
  4. Pillows.
  5. Salt.
  6. Air conditioning.
  7. Good hair days.
  8. Music.
  9. Hitting every green light when you are running late.
  10. Toilet paper.

Remember there is a difference between being thankful for things and being a thankful person. When we start to realize the blessings in our daily routine, the happier we become. I think Oprah said it best, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never, ever have enough.”

I would love to hear what you are thankful for. Leave a comment and let me know. It would totally make my day!