Life Changing Moments

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When we establish human connections within the context of shared experience we create community wherever we go.”Gina Greenlee, Postcards and Pearls:

As a follow-up to the writings of the past two days about how our life stories come together through the associations we make with others, once again I am reminded that we really are never alone. Here is how it happened:

gym uniformsI am connected with an on-line group of people who grew up in the town and area that I did. Someone posted a picture of a vault box used in gymnastics. An onslaught of postings followed of individual memories of junior high and high school gym classes during the 50’s and 60s.

Comments about the vault box echoed my sentiments exactly. Many said “taking showers in a non-private environment was so humiliating because we were at a vulnerable age when bodies were changing and teens were so sensitive about how they looked to others.” Others stated their distain for the gym uniforms because they were “dorky.” Others mentioned individual sports that they detested or were no good at. Some said “they loved gymnastics and the vault box but hated running laps on the track or in relay races.  That’s when they felt so inadequate.”

Junior high and high school gym class held such strong memories for me that I even devoted an entire chapter to it in my memoir. I had a life-changing moment in the gym in the Towsontown Junior High School, that will never be forgotten.

Do you have any moments in your life that changed the direction of your life forever? If so, I’d love to hear from you. Post a comment.

This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author of  Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul, Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Wear Red Tomorrow

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“Red is the first color of spring. It’s the real color of rebirth. Of beginning.” ~ Annie Condie

Are you planning on wearing red tomorrow? The American Heart Association has declared February 5th National Wear Red Day. This day is dedicated to raising awareness that “heart disease and stroke kill 1 in 3 women, yet 80% of it is preventable.”

On the Go Red for Women website there are educational articles and resources to educate the public about the importance of children and fitness, and factors which increase chances of heart disease such as high blood pressure, smoking, inactivity and high cholesterol. The useful and free information is there for each and every one of us.

As Conway Twitty once said “listen to advice, but follow your heart.” Always listen to your body, and if it is telling you something is not right, don’t wait – go see a doctor. It could be the difference between death or life.

You can help the fight against heart disease by posting #GoRed on your Facebook page or through other social media.  Remember to #gored tomorrow, donate to the cause or fill a shopping cart at the GoRed on-line store.

Thanks for listening and tomorrow is a good a day as any to begin improving your heart health.

My award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected speaks to this issue which is close to my heart.

 

Keep a Heart from Aging

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The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball. ~Doug Larson

Guess what I got last week? A Save the Date notification of my 45th  high school reunion. When I first read it, I thought, “Oh, there is a typo,” until I made some mental calculations. How could it be that so many years have passed?  After all, wasn’t it just last week I was a teen?

In all those years since I was a student I have only attended one college reunion. I guess it’s because I am more interested in living in the present.

 I’ve maintained some friendships in my home town as well as my college town  over the years so I haven’t let go of my schoolmates completely.

About a year and a half ago, I had a book signing  for my award-winning memoir at Ukazoo Books in Towson, Maryland, the town where I grew up. It’s the setting where most of my memoir takes place. It warmed my heart to see some faces I hadn’t seen in decades.

Sue with snowball heart close upLife has been kind to me despite very tentative beginnings and I am extremely grateful for that. I feel very young at heart and try to do all in my power to stay healthy. There are lots of theories of how to achieve that, but moderation in all things is the key, in my opinion.

An exception to the rule is allowing oneself to do kid-like things frequently. What’s good for the heart and soul is guaranteed to be good for our health, including residing since 1975 in the snowy mountains.

This article explains the benefits of getting out and enjoying some wintertime activities!

Sue with snowball heart

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

 

 

Living With the Heart of a Child

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“Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming.” ~ Joseph B Wirthlin

It’s a wonderful thing to live as an adult with the heart of a child, still full of wonder.

We’re never too old to engage in childhood activities like taking a trip down the sliding board, pumping higher and higher toward the skies on a swing, wading in the waters of a rippling stream, getting messy with finger paints or diving into an ice cream Sundae with such zeal that it ends up all over our face.

The day after Christmas my son, his gal, my husband and I walked into Michael’s Craft Store, looking for a picture frame for a photograph of the two of them they had given us for Christmas.

“Pick out a frame you are happy with,” said Marc, “it will complete the present.”

Before we were finished shopping my son said “Mom, did you see what’s at the front of the store? You might be interested. Go pick one out for yourself.”

“I followed his orders and have enjoyed being a child all over again – all wrapped up into something that used to bring me hours of pleasure as a child.”

According to this article from Business Insider, I am not the only one who is having fun revisiting my childhood!

coloring book2

On some of these long, dark winter evenings, coloring has been a good change of pace from reading.

This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

Conversations about Kindness

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Kindness is just love with its workboots on. ~Author Unknown

Do you think traits such as kindness and compassion can be taught or are some people endowed with these traits from the start (innately)?

Many educators feel character education is the only way to reduce bullyng in schools.

YouAreNeverAloneFoundation.org has found a way to involve children in their program “I Matter, You Matter: Let’s Start the Conversation.”

In fact, school kids put their most pressing questions down on paper hoping to help improve their relationships with schoolmates, their families and friends. Through practicing empathy and understanding other’s points of view, the goal of this program is to advance listening and compromising skills and provide help in identifying one’s own feelings, too.events_kindmatter_overview_logo Teachers, your school can become involved, and the questionnaire that is being used in schools to begin the dialogue between children can be downloaded on-line. 

Caring coins are also available with this program, which is an easy way to pass a message from person to person. More than 176,000 of these wooden coins have been shared around the world as a part of the YANAF mission. It started at the grassroots level to inspire caring connections in our community and the greater world by providing hands on opportunities to be kind.”

If you are concerned about our future generation of children, please spread the word about this program.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard.

Bringing Cheer over the Holidays

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Let’s state something up front! There is no perfect life. There just isn’t. Postings on social media might lead us to believe otherwise but, remember, we are often only seeing the good parts. During the holidays people ramp up their efforts to create images of having perfect lives and Christmases.

Everyone has struggles and things to overcome in life. But as they say, what you do with those challenges is what counts. That is why it’s important that for those who have inspirational stories to tell and feel they could write a book about it, to do so. The reason I penned a memoir in the first place was to help others who struggle with health issues understand that our attitudes profoundly affect our well-being.

I’m very proud to say that this past Christmas, thanks to the Mickey Barrows Memorial Endowed Fund which “benefits children who are confined to the hospital during the holidays,” copies of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected found their way to families through the Childrens Colorado Foundation in the Denver area. The hope for the initiative is that the book brought some smiles and cheer to faces and encouragement to teen cardiac patients who were hospitalized during the holidays. The book has won the Harvest Book Award in the young adult category and two EVVY awards from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association.

So, for anyone who is considering writing a narrative that will bring light and love to others, here is my message: Help others to know you are never alone.

Your story matters!

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul and the EVVY award-winning anthology Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

See you back here on Monday!

 

 

Ticking Off the Bucket List

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“Better to see something once than hear about it a hundred times.” ~ Juurai Bayanjargal

Since it’s a New Year, we have been focused on new experiences this week on All Things Fulfilling. It has been said that there has been a movement away from amassing lots of material things, and replacing them with investing in unique life experiences. Experiential travel, which is said to bring increased happiness, has grown in recent years.  Perhaps living life differently, we don’t end up in our later years having big inventories of “things” to get rid of, instead our memory bank will be overflowing. Graham Hill speaks about living life edited in his TED talk. Take five minutes to listen to it!

I may not ever have the where-with-all make it to the moon in my lifetime to experience weightlessness in space, but I can now say that I have experienced it in a more contained environment here on Earth in a float pod. It’s terrific! To learn more about this adventure, read the previous two blogs – Practice the Pause and From Lightweight to Weightlessness.

heck yesWill you remove any “thing”  from your “bucket list” and replace it with a real life experience in 2016? If so, what is it? We would love to hear from you. Post your comment right here on All Things Fulfilling.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, award-winning author of ~

Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Will we see each other right here tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling?

 

 

From Lightweight to Weightlessness

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You don’t realize that you are weighed down all the time by yourself, and your organs, and your head. ~ Mary Roach, author of Stiff

“How was your float?” Valerie McCarthy, Owner of  Neptune Healing & Float Spa asked as I exited the private suite that held the pod (or tank) and shower area where I had spent an hour engaging in the closest thing I have come to nirvana.

“Wonderful! I guess it is the first time I have truly experienced total weightlessness.” Think about it, even when we are trying to float in salt water of the ocean, we are fighting against the tides and body beating waves. The high concentration of epsom salt in the float pod was beyond any other buoyancy I had yet to experience. I am a lightweight, and don’t have much body mass to move around, but still taking all weight off my structure (and brain!) was something I have never known -a complete yielding for one blissful hour. I believe I may have fallen asleep for a few minutes. However, Valerie said I may have reached the theta state (that gray area when you are not sure if you are awake or asleep).

The relaxed, “putty-like” feeling continued throughout the day and that night I slept like a baby (although admittedly, I often do). Every tension of 2015 was removed while I “practiced the pause” and drifted unsinkable in the pod.

float podFloating is said to be one of the top ten wellness trends to watch in 2016 and it is even being used in athletic science. Top athletes are jumping in the pod to relieve muscle aches and pains and reduce stress to improve performance.  Floating is also said to increase creativity. Rehab facilities are including float pods for their athletes. According to an ESPN article Stephen Curry is among those elite athletes who is taking advantage of this wellness modality.

I am feeling rejuvenated and have a sense of well-being about the New Year. Bring it on 2016, bring it on!  I am ready!

I would highly recommend this experience. I can see how floating could be even more beneficial to mind/body and spirit on a regular basis.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard. EVVY award-winning of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

Practice the Pause

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The greatest failure is the failure to try. ~William Ward

Join us today and tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling as I relate how I started my New Year by trying a new up and coming healing arts experience….

I arrived at Neptune Healing & Float Spa, knowing a little about what to expect because I had read the arrival instructions and watched their video describing the benefits.  I know myself well enough to know my biggest challenge would be surrendering fully to the experience by shutting down my mind, trusting the environment (the bouyancy of the water) and just enjoying the total experience.

neptune floatMy apprehension came from wondering whether I would be cold (although the water was said to be skin temperature) and could I float for an entire hour? I am not a person who puts my feet up very often but rather inclined to be engaged in doing something constantly. The very reason I decided to engage in the mind/body/spirit experience in the first place – to practice the pause!

My uneasiness about trusting the environment was laid to rest immediately as I climbed into the “pod” and let myself be lifted, being fully supported by the density of the salt water.

I kept the pod covering open simply because once I began floating I was much too comfortable to change positions to close it. While the room faded into darkness a few minutes after I began my float, I keep the spectrum of multi-colored lights on under the water in the pod. I also requested that the music stay on. It was bearly audible but it kept me entirely focused on enjoying the experience.

When the hour was over I couldn’t believe it. My concerns about being in the pod for one hour and being cold were ridiculous. Nothing more than a case of worrying about something before it even happens!

Tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling, I’ll tell you more about the benefits of “practicing the pause.” Floating has come into one of the top 10 wellness trends to watch for in 2016 and tomorrow we will be sharing articles that tell you why!

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, Sue Batton Leonard.

 

 

 

Rock Solid Performance

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“Come on Dad! We’re going rock climbing!” My husband looked at my son and didn’t argue. He is always up for an athletic adventure.

“I’m coming too!” I said.

It was the day after Christmas. My son and his gal wanted to treat my husband to a new experience. Off we went to Stone Age Climbing Gym. After the three got suited up with harnesses, rope, chalk bags, belay and rappeling equipment we four stood looking straight up at the wall my husband was about to tackle. As he began his ascent, the man on belay (my son) yelled out instructions. “Go, Dad, go!” Terry look another step up.

“You are doing well!” Marc said with a grin on his face, after his father began to progress further. “Are you weary?”

“A little, mostly my forearms,” my husband yelled down.

“Then let go! I have you,” our son yelled out. I sat behind him on a bench watching my husband dangle from the rope, forty feet up in the air. In order to take a load off his legs, arms and hands he had to surrender himself from the challenge for a few minutes.  After a short break, Terry continued climbing.

“Reach higher, you are almost to the top!” Marc yelled up about 20 minutes later.

Marc turned to me and said “Mom, I’m really impressed. Dad is doing as well on his first attempt as young guys my age. There seems to be no fear of heights or falling!” It was interesting to see the role reversal between father and son. My husband has spent a lifetime coaching athletes.

Terry’s first attempt at a rock climbing experience was a great success. When I asked him if he’d like to repeat it, he said, “Only if I am with Marc.  There is a level of trust and faith in others involved in it.”

“I could see that,” I said, as I thought about my husband dangling from the rope only anchored by my son.

terry rock climbing

Trust

Come on back tomorrow, I will be sharing my own new adventure into the New Year. I’m a little apprehensive because I am not quite sure what to expect from myself. But, I’m entering this new experience with a positive outlook.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.