A Season of Hope. Winter Solstice

The winter solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. As the shortest day/longest night of the year, this start of the solar year is a celebration of light and the rebirth of the Sun. We have all completed one more official journey around the Sun.

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As the Winter Solstice has arrived, it is a time to consider yin and yang, darkness and light – and the exquisite balance that exists between all things. After weeks of shortening days, we have been affected in a number of ways by the scarcity of light and the growing darkness. Though we may have experienced sadness or slowness as a result of this winter season, we must also remember that the darkness is necessary in order to experience light.

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Many of us gather with our friends, family and loved ones, and no matter what tradition we observe for this holiday season, we begin to create our own light – the light of the love we feel for those we care the most about. It’s also a time for remembering those we love that are not with us- those who are separated from us by miles or death or simply the loss of relationship.

Many of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with the Solstice have survived into the 21st century so let’s see how we can join in this ancient celebration to bring love, light, joy and meaning to this season.

ENLIVEN YOUR SURROUNDINGS with the color red. The color of the sun is energizing, and symbolic of love, courage, warmth, fire. Wear red sweaters, scarves and hats, light red candles, bring in red flowering plants (the red poinsettia is a great one). The color red has a powerful effect in the darkest days of the year to lighten your mood and create a festive, heartening atmosphere.

ADORN YOUR HOME with sacred herbs and colors. Decorate your home in holiday colors red, green, and white. Place holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, and pine cones around your home, especially in areas where socializing takes place. Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold, an evergreen wreath on the front door to symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year. Bring in a Christmas tree with colored lights.

CONVEY LOVE to family, friends, and associates. At the heart of the Solstice was the custom of family and friends feasting together and exchanging presents. Continue this custom by visiting, entertaining, giving gifts, and sending greetings by mail and/or phone. Play games, enjoy children, roast chestnuts over an open fire (what fun). Consider those who are and/or have been important in your life and share appreciation.

HONOR THE NEW SOLAR YEAR WITH LIGHT. If you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire circle, burn an oak log as a Yule log. Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home with electric colored lights.

PARTY HEARTY on New Years’s Eve, not just to welcome the calendar year but also to welcome the new solar year. Celebrate and remember how much the sun means to our planet earth, bringing heat, and light.

CONTRIBUTE TO THE MANIFESTATION OF MORE WELLNESS ON OUR PLANET Donate food and clothing to the poor in your area. Volunteer time at a social service agency. Put up bird feeders and keep them filled throughout the winter to supplement the diets of wild birds. Donate funds and items to non-profit groups, such as churches and environmental organizations. Meditate for world peace. Work magic for a healthier planet. Make a pledge to do some form of good works in the new solar year.

CELEBRATE As you think about setting goals for next year, take some time to write down and celebrate everything you have accomplished this year. Keep your focus on your successes. Be careful of negative self-critical thoughts coming in when you remember the goals you did not achieve. Put those on your list for next year.

CELEBRATING keeps our focus on the positive and attracts more for us to celebrate. Take this energy of celebration with you into the new year and keep it with you throughout the whole year.

However big or small the occasion, look for excuses to be in a state of celebration. You can celebrate failures too. They open doorways for something new to come in. Your positive attitude will make sure you attract more positivity and goodness.

A Season of Hope. Coolest songs for an alternative Yule.

I found this article. Great songs. Some of my personal favorites and some I have to go and find.

https://www.udiscovermusic.com/stories/cool-christmas-songs-for-an-alternative-yule/

 

The 20 Coolest Christmas Songs For An Alternative Yule

So this is Christmas? As we’re knee-deep in Yuletide adverts, Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ and Wizzard’s ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ are on heavy rotation. Fine if that’s your thing, but it may not satisfy those keen to celebrate a hipper festive season with more ostensibly cool Christmas songs.

Don’t get us wrong here. This isn’t a Scrooge-like attempt to knock the traditions any more than it’s intended to denigrate festive greats such as ‘White Christmas’ or ‘Winter Wonderland’. Yet, if Christmas is meant for one and all, then we feel it’s also fair to offer a gift to the more adventurous music fan. If you like a hearty slice of credibility to accompany your glass of festive cheer, here’s our selection of 20 cool Christmas songs, compiled just for you.

Weezer: ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ (2008)
A short, sharp and faithful pop-punk take on the popular festive staple from the 2008 Christmas With Weezer EP. The record’s six tracks were originally recorded for Apple’s iOS video game of the same name.

The Smashing Pumpkins: ‘Christmastime’ (1997)
Recorded during the sessions for the band’s fourth album, Adore, but released on one of A&M’s star-studded charity compilations, A Very Special Christmas 3 – the third in a series of releases home to many cool Christmas songs.

No Doubt: ‘Oi To The World’ (1997)
Infectious, skinhead-style ska salute to Christmas. Originally the B-side to ‘Happy Now?’ from the Diamond-selling Tragic Kingdom.

Eels: ‘Everything’s Gonna Be Cool This Christmas’ (1998)
Another gem tucked away on a B-side. In this case, the flip to ‘Cancer For The Cure’ from Eels’ acclaimed sophomore album, Electro-Shock Blues.

Amy Winehouse: ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus’ (2004)
Amy Winehouse’s earthy, bossa nova-style version of Jimmy Boyd’s 1952 Billboard chart-topper was recorded live for a BBC Radio 2 Christmas Day special, The Gospel According To Christmas.

 

The Killers: ‘Don’t Shoot Me Santa’ (2011)
Collecting The Killers’ annual Xmas singles from 2006 to 2011, the digitally-released (Red) Christmas EP – featuring this track – was a charity record with the proceeds going to the anti-AIDS Product Red campaign headed by Bono and US activist Bobby Shriver.

Queen: ‘A Winter’s Tale’ (1995)
A dreamy, psychedelic beauty of a song recorded at the very end of Queen’s career with Freddie Mercury. It appears on the posthumous 1995 album, Made In Heaven.

David Bowie And Bing Crosby: ‘Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy’ (1982)
Described by the The Washington Post as “one of the most successful duets in Christmas music history”, Bowie and Bing’s transcendent version of this stellar Christmas song is actually a cover of a track first recorded by The Sound Of Music-inspiring Trapp Family Singers in 1951.

Beck: ‘The Little Drum Machine Boy’ (1997)
The self-proclaimed “holiday robot funk” of Beck’s seven-minute ‘Little Drum Machine Boy’ appeared six months after his landmark Odelay album, on Geffen’s Just Say Noël compilation. It’s got freaky Roland 808 drum beats, sleigh bells and cowbells, and it’s quite brilliant.

Tom Petty: ‘Christmas All Over Again’ (1992)
Rousing, widescreen anthem with a Jeff Lynne co-production credit and a touch of Phil Spector. It was included on another of A&M’s double-Platinum Christmas collections, A Very Special Christmas 2.

Lady Gaga: ‘Christmas Tree’ (2008)
A digital download-only festive rarity which liberally samples the classic Christmas song ‘Deck The Halls’. It cracked the Top 30 of Billboard’s Holiday Songs Chart, despite the lyrics’ sexual innuendos.

 

Blink-182: ‘I Won’t Be Home For Christmas’ (2001)
Originally recorded and issued as a radio promo in 1997, but only officially released as a single in 2001. It remains the Californian skate-punk stars’ sole Canadian No.1.

Bon Jovi: ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’ (1992)
Jon Bon Jovi’s emotive cover of Charles Brown’s 1960 Billboard chart-topper was originally another stand-out on A&M’s A Very Special Christmas 2 in 1992. Issued as a single in 1994 (under the Bon Jovi banner), it went Top 10 in the UK and Ireland.

Snoop Dogg: ‘Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto’ (1996)
Featuring a sample from Isaac Hayes’ ‘Do Your Thing’, Snoop’s festive treat appeared on a Death Row Records charity compilation, Christmas On Death Row.

Chuck Berry: ‘Run Rudolph Run’ (1958)
A bracing rocker in the same 12-bar vein as Chuck’s signature hit, ‘Johnny B Goode’. Has since been covered by artists as disparate as Bryan Adams, Luke Bryan, Grateful Dead and Slaughter And The Dogs.

Rev Run and many others   Santa Baby mix

The Kinks: ‘Father Christmas’ (1977)
From The Kinks’ underrated Misfits comes this hard-hitting, socially-aware rocker, wherein Ray Davies threatens to duff up the big man with the white beard unless he “gives my Daddy a job ’cause he needs one/He’s got lots of mouths to feed”.

Pearl Jam: ‘Let Me Sleep (Christmas Time)’ (1991)
Early – and extremely collectible – Pearl Jam single, later recorded live for the 2011 compilation album Pearl Jam 20.

The Pogues (Featuring Kirsty MacColl): ‘Fairytale Of New York’ (1987)
Aside from Bowie and Bing, the only mainstream hit on the list, but it more than earns its place among these cool Christmas songs. It’s impossible to imagine the holidays without ‘Fairytale Of New York’, which was, bizarrely, recorded on a sweltering summer’s day in August ’87.

Low: ‘Just Like Christmas’ (1999)
Usually known for funereally slow alt.pop, Minnesota trio Low released the glorious Christmas EP in 1999 as “a gift to fans”. It’s transcendent and opens with this blissful bout of unashamedly pure, sleigh-bell-assisted pop.

Dropkick Murphy’s   The seasons upon us

Fountains of Wayne. Valley Winter Song

 

A Season of Hope. Cherish our Differences 

Our strength is in out differences.

Have you ever heard the story behind this highest selling Christmas carol? Robert May was an advertising executive that first wrote the poem “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” in 1939 as an ad gimmick for a local department store. 10 years later, May’s brother wrote the music. The song was turned down by Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, but Gene Autry recorded it. Today “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is the highest-selling Christmas carol, at more than 25 million units.

Do you know why the carol is so loved? You might say that it’s the courage and fortitude of Rudolph, the apparent hero of the story. But the real charm of the carol is found at the heart of what the carol is really about—grace! Despite that Rudolph was clearly an outsider and an apparent reject due to the glowing flaw of his shiny red nose, Santa chose him. When the fog rolled in and the moment became critical, Santa called on Rudolph, the reject reindeer with the big, weird, red nose to lead the pack. What everyone else saw as weakness, Santa saw as the vital component of strength to accomplish his purposes.

We each have things that make us unique. Instead of trying to hide those things and viewing them as a weakness, lets view them as a strength. Not just in ourselves but in others.

I was the weird kids growing up. I was the gymnast in a town full of football players. Look at me now! If I had listened to those who wanted me to blend in and conform I would not have be contributing to the lives of thousands of children.

As an employer, I am looking for people who are individuals but share our same passion. It is those differences that add spice to life and make Atlantic Gymnastics an exciting place.

Cherish the differences in those around you. Appreciate each indivual.

A Season of Hope. The Next Generation

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Today marks an anniversary of one of the worst days in America. The day a man with a gun walked into a school and killed 20 Children and 6 Adults at Sandyhook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct.

I cried that day and the world cried with us. What happened next was an embarrassment. What happened next was, nothing…. Nothing happened. We as a country failed to pass a common sense gun law. We didn’t do a thing.

We, as a country, seem to love our guns more than our children. For you Gun nuts who think the country would be better if there were more guns. FUCK YOU. Stop reading. Go away. You are hopeless. You are a sheep who is being lead by the NRA and what you read about on your right wing conspiracy blogs. If you are so tough, you should stand up and say, “Enough!” we no longer live in the wild west. So I say again, Fuck you. You don’t have to look these parents in the eye when you see them at a gymnastics meet.

I have raised my children in a world where school lockdowns have become common. Where another school shooting, drive by shooting, shootings in churches, movie theaters, and playgrounds have become common place.

You know who I have hope for? The next generation. Their voting patterns show that they want REAL change. They do not want to raise their children in a world where politicians and right wing media can deny science. Where the president elect can make up facts and deny the truth.

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This is NOT a Clinton/ Trump thing for me (I supported Sanders in the primary). I look and see that the 18-24 years olds largely did not vote for the climate change denying, NRA and KKK supported pussy grabber.

So yeah, I have more HOPE for the next generation.

 

A Season of Hope. For those no longer with us.

I had a different plan for what I was going to write this morning.  Then I started thinking about my friends and family who are no longer with us. The pain will always be there. Is it odd to find comfort in the pain? It is how I remember them.

I went to see my niece in a play the other day. It breaks my heart to see her and her brother because they look SO much like their dad who passed away.

My friend Jeff who just lost his mother asked, “How do you continue on when the person who built your heart is gone?”  

There are no simple answers. Life is comedy and tragedy. The minute you are born you spend the rest of your time on earth either living or dying. I believe in the Butterfly Effect. Your parents gave you more than life. They taught you lessons. Your job was to continue and teach those around you.  As a parent there are three things that I wanted to teach my children. The “3 R’s” 

  • Respect
  • Reliability
  • Resilience. 

We want our children to respect others and to be respected.

We want our children to be reliable. To be that person that others turn to and can count on.

We want our children to be resilient. To bounce back. I want my children to be a super ball. As children we remember the awe, how can this little ball store so much energy to bounce so high? bb0273915d14e24a6ec801a138f012f8

That is what I want from my children and, my friends, that is what your parents would want from you.  Today, tomorrow, this month. BOUNCE. Bounce so high you touch the stars. Bounce so high others look at you in awe and wonder, “how can someone store so much energy they can go so high?”

That is the most important lesson. That lesson, I hope, will give you hope and hope to those around you.

I love you both and hope that you can bounce.

What is dying?
I am standing on the seashore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object and I stand watching her
Till at last she fades from the horizon,
And someone at my side says, “She is gone!” Gone where?
Gone from my sight, that is all;
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
And just at the moment when someone at my side says, “She is gone”,
There are others who are watching her coming,
And other voices take up a glad shout,
“There she comes” – and that is dying.

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A Season of Hope. Compassion

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For the last nine years, Eric Schmitt-Matzen has dressed up as Santa to spread joy around Knoxville, Tennessee.

A few weeks ago, he also brought peace to a five-year-old terminally ill boy, who ended up dying in his arms.

The 60-year-old Schmitt-Matzen was working at his day job as a mechanical engineer in Jacksboro when a nurse called him from a nearby hospital.

The name of the hospital is not being named out of the privacy of the parents.

“She said there was a very sick 5-year-old boy who wanted to see Santa Claus,” Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “I told her, ‘OK, just let me change into my outfit.’” She said, ‘There isn’t time for that. Your Santa suspenders are good enough. Come right now.’”

When Schmitt-Matzen got to the hospital, he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit where he met the boy’s family and was given a toy to give to him.

Schmitt-Matzen also gave the boy a pep talk.

“I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas! Why, you’re my Number One elf!

“He looked up and said, ‘I am?’

“I said, ‘Sure!’”

Schmitt-Matzen said the boy then asked him point blank: “They say I’m gonna die. How can I tell when I get to where I’m going?”

The kindly Kris Kringle figure told the boy to just tell everyone “you’re Santa’s Number One elf, and I know they’ll let you in.”

Schmitt-Matzen then hugged the boy as the child died in his arms.

The story has since gone viral and is touching people based on social media comments.

The experience was emotionally draining for Schmitt-Matzen, who admits he thought about hanging up his Santa suit for good.

He has since changed his mind after doing what he thought was one final show, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

“When I saw all those children laughing, it brought me back into the fold. It made me realize the role I have to play,” he said. “For them and for me.”

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A Season of Hope. Holiday Commercials.

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The commercialism of holidays is something we’ve been hearing about for decades.

Greg Lake, who passed away yesterday, penned the song with Peter Sinfield,  “I believe in Father Christmas” in the mid 70’s. Although it is often categorised as a Christmas song, this was not Lake’s intention. He said that he wrote the song in protest at the commercialisation of Christmas.

They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
But instead it just kept on raining
A veil of tears for the Virgin birth
I remember one Christmas morning
A winters light and a distant choir
And the peal of a bell and that Christmas Tree smell
And their eyes full of tinsel and fire

They sold me a dream of Christmas
They sold me a Silent Night
And they told me a fairy story
‘Till I believed in the Israelite
And I believed in Father Christmas
And I looked TO the sky with excited eyes
‘Till I woke with a yawn in the first light of dawn
And I saw him and through his disguise

I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave New Year
All anguish pain and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
They said there’ll be snow at Christmas
They said there’ll be peace on Earth
Hallelujah Noel be it Heaven or Hell
The Christmas we get we deserve

I want to believe that everyone (except for advertising executives while at work) want to get away from the commercialization. They want this time of year to be about Peace and Hope. That may be why there are a few commercials every year that are released to actually make you feel good.

 

You are destined to see this in a later post because it is based on an actual event.

Sometimes you just have to make the best of the situation you are in

A reminder to slowdown and spend sometime with your family

 

And (in my opinion) the best commercial for 2017- MOZ the Monster

Season of Hope. The Psychology of HOPE

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Talent, skill, ability—whatever you want to call it—will not get you there. Sure, it helps. But a wealth of psychological research over the past few decades show loud and clear that it’s the psychological vehicles that really get you there. You can have the best engine in the world, but if you can’t be bothered to drive it, you won’t get anywhere.

Many have proposed lots of different vehicles over the years. Grit, Conscientiousness, self-efficacy, optimism, passion, inspiration, etc. They are all important. One vehicle, however, is particularly undervalued and underappreciated in psychology and society.

That’s hope.

Hope often gets a bad rap. For some, it conjures up images of a blissfully naïve chump pushing up against a wall with a big smile. or Don Quixote tilting against windmills. That’s a shame. Cutting-edge science shows that hope, at least as defined by psychologists, matters a lot.

Hope is not a brand new concept in psychology. In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with Hope Theory. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways.  The person who has hope has the will and determination that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies at their disposal to reach their goals. Put simply: hope involves the will to get there, and different ways to get there.

Why is hope important? Well, life is difficult. There are many obstacles. Having goals is not enough. One has to believe that they can accomplish their goals, amidst all the inevitable twists and turns of life. Hope allows people to approach problems with a mindset and strategy-set suitable to success, thereby increasing the chances they will actually accomplish their goals.
Those lacking hope, tend to adopt mastery goals. People with mastery goals choose easy tasks that don’t offer a challenge or opportunity for growth. When they fail, they quit. People with mastery goals act helpless, and feel a lack of control over their environment. They don’t believe in their capacity to obtain the kind of future they want. They have no hope.

It seems that performance can be enhanced in the short term by reminding people that they have the motivation and the means to pursue a goal. This “situational hope” could potentially be useful in the future as a means of short-term intervention to enhance performance. By reminding people before tests or situations in which performance and achievement are required that they have the will and the ways to do well, possible potential can be better utilized.

Athletes had higher levels of hope than non-athletes. I have seen that among my gymnasts, the state of having hope predicted outcomes beyond training, self-esteem, confidence, and mood.

I like to think that current ability is the best predictor of future success. Important psychological studies show that ability is important, but it’s the vehicles that actually get people where they want to go. Oftentimes, the vehicles even help you build up that ability you never thought you had. And hope—with its will and ways—is one of the most important vehicles of them all.

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Season of Hope. Holiday Movies!

I missed writing yesterday. Just a crazy busy day. We had our first significant snowfall and I had to plow my gyms.

There are so many wonderful holiday movies. Most are at least well done. There is not one particular movie that I MUST see every year. But there are many that I enjoy.

Here are my favorites.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Scrooged

Trading Places

Christmas Carol (1938)

Meet Me in St Louis.

The Santa Clause

 

Miracle on 34th St. (1947)

Gremlins

Joyeux Noel

Christmas Vacation

Christmas Story

Holiday Inn

Home Alone

Rudolph The Rednosed Reindeer

and no Christmas is complete without seeing Hans Gruber fall of the Nakahashi Towers. Die Hard

Have a favorite? Let me know!

Twitter @tretrosi