The Christmas Clip

How To Keep Christmas In Your Heart

Recently, I noticed I had missed a gutter clip when I took down my Christmas Lights in January. I made a mental note to take it down, but now I think I’ll leave it up. With all the nastiness in the world today, a little reminder that a season is coming that promotes peace on earth is a good thing. Plus, that’s one less gutter clip I’ll have to put up in December.

I’ll admit it, I’m a Christmas Junkie. I don’t create a light display you can see from space, but I do like to have the house nicely decorated. A few years ago, I discovered Organized Christmas. This website has helped me put my obsession into a highly structured checklist. Last year, I experienced a very well-organized and relaxed Christmas. Even with the Lambert Family Christmas Eve being held at our house. To cap it off, it SNOWED on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! It doesn’t get much better than that! However, I’m sure my family members (who had to crawl their way through unplowed streets) weren’t laughing all the way.

When I saw the clip on the gutter, I was reminded that the Christmas Spirit is always there, although sometimes you have to look very hard to see it. I know what you’re thinking, “This guy is crazy! It’s only July!” I know, but the back-to-school items are already on the shelves and that means Halloween ghosts and goblins can’t be far behind. On my blog The Brown Parachute Club, I have written two articles with a Christmas theme. They are about appreciating your life, as well as transforming it. Being George Bailey and Being Ebenezer Scrooge. If you can’t bring yourself to look at them now, please bookmark the links for later. When you do get a chance to read the articles, please leave a comment if you enjoyed them. Thanks!

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new postings, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Thanks for visiting! 

Swimming Between the Raindrops

Learning To Swim In The Sunshine

The other day, my friend Karen posted on Facebook that her grandkids were in the new pool and they were “swimming between the storms”. I know a perfect blog topic when I hear one, so I asked Karen if I could use it. She is a BNAT reader and happily gave me her approval. Karen’s statement is certainly a life lesson. I changed it up a little because it sounded too much like a book by Tony Robbins or Brendon Burchard. I don’t want to get sued!

Many times in life, it seems like we are completely obsessed with the problems raging all around us. The Storms. It seems to me that the key to living a happy life is to swim between the storms or the raindrops, as it were. I don’t want to get too deep here, but it’s an interesting analogy when you look at it from a weather angle. If you look above you, all you can see is your patch of sky. There may be storms in the surrounding area, but in the blue window overhead, your weather is beautiful.

Our recent heat wave illustrates this attitude perfectly. After a week of upper 90-degree weather, we finally got a break and had two beautiful days. I fell for the trap of looking at more 90-degree weather that was on the horizon after those two lovely days. Then it hit me, enjoy the days you have been given! Swim between the Raindrops (or Heat!). Storms will always be there, but you have to learn to Swim in the Sunshine! Thanks for the wise words, Karen!

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new postings, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Thanks for visiting! 

Harry Potter Lullaby

Just Like That, Kevin Was My Little Boy Again

Recently, I went down to the basement to get my workout clothes out of the dryer. Our youngest son, who has recently moved back home (temporarily we hope), was catching some zzzs on the couch. He was recovering from a long shift on one of his two jobs. As he snoozed, I heard a podcast playing on his phone. Some things never change.

I was immediately reminded of what I always called the Harry Potter Lullaby. Since my wife is a TV Sleeper, early on my sons developed the habit of falling asleep while listening to background noise as well. They would listen to the soothing sounds of Jim Dale, as he recited one of Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s greatest adventures. Or, maybe it would be Artemis Fowl or The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This would provide the necessary white noise as they drifted off to sleep.

For 19 years, I worked afternoons and my wife worked days. When I arrived home after midnight, odds were good that Harry would be playing on one or more MP3 CDs, my wife would have the TV going, or both. I fall asleep quickly, but I am a light sleeper. I would carefully turn off all of the CD players and TV, then gingerly crawl into bed before anyone realized the background noise had stopped. It’s the kind of ritual that’s a pain in the butt at the time, but when I look back on it now, I kind of miss it. Kind of.

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new postings, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Thanks for visiting!

Firefly Trail

Just A Little Everyday Magic

Since we never had any in our Detroit neighborhood when I was growing up, I’ve always had a fascination with fireflies. After my wife and I bought our house in the suburbs, I was sure there would be some out here. Nope, skunked again. However, over the past few years, we have started to see some in our neighborhood. Last year there were a lot, and this year there are even more.

For obvious reasons, I always thought fireflies had a magical quality about them. In the past I never really had the chance to explore that idea. However, the other night my thesis was confirmed. I was out walking my dog on a very hot and humid evening. Suddenly, the path before me was a mass of glittering fireflies. I felt like I had been transported to the Elven City of Rivendell. I almost looked around for Frodo and his traveling companions. Magic indeed.

I was reminded of a TV show I had seen many years ago. It may have been Stephen Spielberg’s Amazing Stories. A young boy is disappointed to learn that magic is just an illusion. In order to console him, his father tells him to take a stick and drag it along some reeds in their backyard. A large cloud of fireflies emerges from the reeds, confirming that magic does indeed exist. Somewhere, Albus Dumbledore is giving us a sly wink.

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new postings, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Thanks for visiting!

Green Highway Signs

Becoming Part Of A Mobile Community

I have quite a drive to work. Thirty-one miles to be exact. It’s not that far, but when you factor in the afternoon rush hour and construction projects, a thirty-five-minute drive can turn into an hour. I’m not looking for sympathy, I just want you to know I spend a lot of time on the freeway. While driving home from work one day, I saw a sign that said Port Huron 74. I was reminded of something that struck me during our recent Florida road trip.

I never really noticed before, but when you’re driving on vacation, your focus is primarily on reaching the next major city on the green highway signs. However, many people in the cars around you are just driving through life. They’re on their way home from work, going to the movies, meeting friends at a restaurant, picking up their kids from practice, etc . . .

Driving home from work today I wondered, how many of these people around me are traveling to Pure Michigan on vacation? How many of them are heading west to Chicago, or California? While you’re driving on vacation, you’re just passing through. However, you’re temporarily part of that town, city, or village. For a brief moment, we are all part of a mobile community. As we drive on, we leave our travel companions behind. Soon, we join a new community and the process repeats. I find that kind of comforting.

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new postings, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Thanks for visiting!

Cool Nights

Be Careful What You Wish For

After being cooped up in our homes in Metro Detroit from early November to late May, it’s good to finally get some weather where we can open our windows and “air out the house”. Unfortunately, our miserable springs are usually followed by Hotter than Hell Memorial Day weekends. This year was no exception. However, once all of that calms down, we are usually blessed with warm days and cool nights for the remainder of the summer.  Until this year.

Anyone who lives in Michigan is aware of the radical temperature swings that can often occur within hours, if not minutes. However, this summer has been positively schizophrenic. It has been as low as 46 degrees in the morning and as high as 96 in the afternoon.  It has been a roller coaster of temperatures that will be in the mid-70s all week, jump into the 90s for a couple of days, then nosedive again back into the 60s. 

It’s truly amazing everyone in this area isn’t sick.  I was knocked out for a few days when Air Conditioning Laryngitis (yes that’s a thing, and I reserve the rights to that name) turned into a full-blown cold. On the morning I wrote this, it was 51 degrees and going up to a high of 80 by late afternoon. By this weekend, we are supposed to hit 97. Don’t get me wrong. I love Michigan, and I consider myself blessed to be born in the Great Lakes State. However, I think Tim Allen should do a spoof commercial where he says, “Have you ever run your furnace and air conditioner on the same day?  If you have, then you have been to Pure Michigan.”  Only us Michiganders would get the joke.

If you like what you’re reading on this blog, please leave a comment and share it with your friends. Also, if you would like to be notified of new postings, please click on the “Follow” button in the lower right corner. Thanks for visiting!

Become Nostalgic About Today

Random Thoughts On Appreciating The Moment

A while ago, I was inspired to start a blog based on a simple statement. Become Nostalgic About Today. What that means to me is to develop warm, nostalgic feelings for whatever I might be doing at the moment. Raking the autumn leaves, listening to kids playing on the playground at school, or driving with the windows open on a beautiful day.

Life’s simple pleasures that often pass by without us taking notice. It’s understandable. Between work and home, most of us don’t have a spare minute to ourselves. However, pausing for a moment in our busy day and noticing these little things can make life more enjoyable.

I decided to start an idea journal and began jotting down story ideas as they came to me. That was about six months ago. I had some good ideas right away. However, after that initial creative rush, they all dried up. Then a weird thing started to happen. As I became more in tune with these nostalgic moments, I started to notice them more and more. Kind of like when you’re shopping for a new car and you start to see that model everywhere.

I decided BNAT was going to be a blog only, and not an online resource library that I hope TBPC has turned into. Also, I decided to write these articles as brief observations of no more than three or four paragraphs. Something you can read with your morning coffee or when you’re stuck in line at the supermarket checkout.

So that’s it. Hopefully, you will check out this new blog, enjoy it, and share it with your friends. To kick it off, I wrote an article that goes into much more detail about how I got the idea for the blog and what I hope to accomplish with it. I also posted an article called, What Good Will It Do? It seems very relevant to the times, and I hope it will give you something to think about.

To get to the new blog, just click on this link

Please leave a reply in the comments box at the bottom of each article to let me know if you enjoyed it and share your personal observations. Thank you!

What Good Will It Do?

Ask Yourself A Simple Question

This question has two completely different meanings. The first meaning is futility or pointlessness. The second meaning is a legitimate question, “What GOOD will it do?” That is a completely different question when applied to Social Media.

This hit me one day as I was thinking about the endless Facebook and Twitter Wars that are constantly being fought between the Right and the Left.  I was considering posting yet another article that was designed to convince the other side that we are right, and they are idiots. Then I thought to myself, “What good will it do? People have their own viewpoint and this article is not going to bring them over to my way of thinking.”

Then it hit me again, “What GOOD Will It Do?” Will this posting lift someone’s spirits, give them a laugh, inspire them, or help them to look at a problem a different way?  If not, DON’T POST IT! Since I have had this revelation, I have been guilty of some one-sided postings, but I try to remember to ask myself this question first. Give it a try! Before you post on Social Media, ask yourself this simple question, “What GOOD Will It Do?”  


Become Nostalgic About Today

Alerting Yourself To Mindful Moments

Have you ever had a moment when you were doing something, and you suddenly felt nostalgic about whatever you were doing at the time? Walking your dog on a beautiful Autumn day, reading a good book in front of a roaring fire, or finally completing that long-postponed task. We’ve all had these experiences and I think it has a lot to do with Mindfulness, or really being present in the moment.

Recently the phrase Become Nostalgic About Today popped into my head out of nowhere. Like anyone these days, I immediately went to Google to see what it meant. Now for the really interesting part. It wasn’t there! I had a fully-formed life skill drop right into my lap! Thank you, God! As I thought about the phrase and what it meant, a couple of things occurred to me.

First: I had already adopted a similar sentence as my new motto, Today Is Yesterday’s Tomorrow (Thank you, Michael Bublé).  This should be a touchstone for procrastinators everywhere. Even though the phrase might make you think of Time Travel, it’s actually a lot simpler than that. Simply stated, Today is the day you were talking about when you said you would take care of that job or task Tomorrow. A simple, elegant phrase if ever I heard one.

Second: Even though the statements are similar because they both mention Today, Become Nostalgic About Today (or BNAT, I’m a sucker for acronyms) centers around Today only.  More specifically, to whatever task you are doing right now, one that you may look back upon fondly in the days, months, and years to come. This phrase can be applied to just about anything. Watching a movie with your dog snuggled up next to you, preparing items for the church flea market, or even washing your car on a beautiful day.

Over the years, I have had some issues controlling my temper in stressful situations. “Who hasn’t?” I hear you say. However, a few years ago, I heard a phrase that really rang true for me.  Whenever I am in the middle of a stressful situation, especially when traveling, I simply ask myself, “Is this something you are going to laugh about when you tell this story years from now?” If so, then LAUGH NOW!

As a recovering “Doom & Gloomer”, I know how easy it is to let a frustrating situation spin out of control.  It can ruin your whole day. But, if you apply BNAT to the issue, you will be able to see the humor in just about any situation and immediately switch gears into “problem-solving mode”. While it’s easy to fly off the handle, the BNAT approach is certainly much more productive.

I have to admit it, I’m a sucker for Fall.  It’s my favorite time of the year for many reasons.  Cooler weather and football, cider and donuts, the changing leaves, and just about everything that makes Autumn so special. It also signals the beginning of the Holiday Season. Before you know, it’s Halloween, then it’s time to pick out the turkey for Thanksgiving, and then you’re already behind on your Christmas Shopping. “But it’s only September 24th!” you say!

You can see how easily your calendar can turn into a runaway train!  Then it all comes to a screeching halt on January 2nd. How often do we look back at the previous three months and ask ourselves if we truly “enjoyed” the holidays?  I believe living your life in a BNAT frame of mind will help you enjoy most days, not just the holidays.

I have decided to start writing about this process. Becoming Nostalgic About Today will take a lot of practice, but practice often turns into habit. Hopefully, before long, I will be living each day in the BNAT frame of mind without even thinking about it! At least that’s my hope.

Please visit again as I post my random thoughts and observations.  Some of these might be truly nostalgic memories from days gone by, but others may be just about what happened today. We’ll have to see where this journey goes. Wherever it ends up, I’m sure I’ll be living a more fulfilled and joyful life as a result!

Until next time, remember. Become Nostalgic About Today!