The 12 Doves of Christmas

December 2015

 The 12 Doves of Christmas - Thoughts from Each Day's Chocolate by Dennis LoweryI like dark chocolate and sometimes have a piece in the morning with my coffee. There’s a brand of individually wrapped pieces called Dove that includes brief thoughts, statements, inside the wrapper. With our preparation for the holiday season my wife bought a new bag of them and I thought beginning on December 14th, I would take that day’s chocolate wrapper and write a little bit about my first thoughts on reading it. Here they are (sidenote – Dove’s advertising firm spotted this post and sent me this gift):

The 1st Dove of Christmas
The First Dove of Christmas

Engage, Embrace and Enjoy the special moments… a sunrise, a sunset, a full moon in a bright, crisp, autumn sky, a smile, a hug… all that is simple and beautiful in our world.

The 2nd Dove of Christmas
The 2nd Dove of Christmas

Sometimes we think this takes money. We have to be able to travel and go to new places. Not true. Discovery often comes from merely doing something different or something familiar differently. Discovery means having a mindset open to its potential… knowing that there are opportunities for it, to a greater or lesser degree, each day. And when the chance is there we take it. Even in little amounts, we can learn and benefit from it. I believe when you live with a purpose that there’s something to discover every day.

The 3rd Dove of Christmas
The 3rd Dove of Christmas

We all do it. No, not that… I’m talking about daydreaming. That moment when we slip into a mindscape of wishes wants and maybe a what-if or two. There’s been a lot written about visualization and how athletes use it for peak performance. Doing it in your mind helps. No, not that… well, maybe that, too. But I digress. I think that daydreaming can be constructive but only if anchored, mostly, in reality. I mean that it doesn’t become or isn’t, from the start, an absurd fantasy. Guide your daydreams, basing them in your real world, in a way the fits what you do, who you are and what you want from life. Make them possible… the kind of daydream that requires you, in the real world, to stretch and reach… and if you do you have a shot at manifesting it. Making it real sometimes starts with imagining it can be so and then believing in yourself enough to take action and get it done

The 4th Dove of Christmas
The 4th Dove of Christmas

I disagree with this one.

What this Dove says (I think) means to not restrict love… let it flourish unbound. Don’t tell Love what to do.

Love can be unruly. It can happen when we least expect it. And it can run from us if we chase it. That can be problematic when most seek love and companionship in their life though I know those who are content without it.

But new love, at any age, that runs wild and free with the wrong person and a seasoned, mature, love that becomes abused or untended can wither and end in anger, sadness, hurt and pain.

For love to work, I believe one basic, paramount, rule is necessary. To only love someone who loves you in equal measure; love only someone who respects you as much as you respect them. This must hold true at the beginning and throughout any relationship.

The 5th Dove of Christmas
The 5th Dove of Christmas

Smiles always get me. The most beautiful sight, to me, is a smile on my wife and daughter’s faces. I’ve seen spectacular vistas, cities of light, the subtle shades of sea greens and blues in oceans and waters around the world… nothing matches their smile. Nothing makes me happier to see.

So give and get some smiles this Christmas… yours for them (your loved ones and friends) and theirs for you.

The 6th Dove of Christmas

The 6th Dove of Christmas

Love. That’s what I got, along with the 6th Dove, for my birthday. Love: My wife, daughters and son-in-law to celebrate with me. A hand drawn Daredevil picture — check out the perspective — and a Man Without Fear badge for me made by Beta. A lovely card (and more enchanting message inside) from my wife so sweet and tender it made me feel a surge of love for her as if it was our wedding day and not 32 ½ years later. A handmade card from Alpha (with her quirky and touching and so interesting thoughts inside). Cards from my oldest two daughters (the extended personal message within meant the most) that tells me my wife and I haven’t missed the mark in raising them to be young adults (Cassidy soon to be 20 and Karen is 27) with their heads on straight about what’s important.

I don’t need material things. I have all that I need and lack for nothing. [And yes I’m fortunate and blessed to say that, but my wife and I have worked hard for what we have.]

I count my riches in the love that I receive and that I can in turn give to others (that deserve it), especially my family.

So for my birthday, I got the greatest gift of all. Love.

And the chocolate cream pie didn’t hurt, either. 😀

I hope this Holiday Season, you all receive and give love in equal measure as deserved.

And I hope you get chocolate. The kind you like and if that’s not what you like… then the sweetest treat you enjoy most.

The 7th Dove of Christmas

The 7th Dove of Christmas
This one says: “Take advantage of every free moment you have.”

Some would say this advice is about being productive; don’t waste time. Squeeze every bit into producing something. That in and of itself is not bad advice. I believe the way to get ahead in the world is paved with effort.

My writing work is largely done in my head so wherever I happen to be I can also be working on something. Here, in this picture, you see the area next to my recliner, by the fireplace, in our family room. It’s prepared for when I have those moments when I need to write something I’ve just thought of down or to make a note.

I believe we should always be conscious of moments, lulls in the day so that they can be useful. But you don’t have to always feel compelled to fill them with work. Many serve you better as a time for quick reflection… for thought.

For me it could be a moment to pay attention to the course of events around me—step away from the work inside my head. To catch the flash of my wife or daughters’ smile… or hear a low laugh that spills from some other part of the house; when my girls are enjoying something in their rooms… to overhear my wife talking with one of her friends and laughing together over something. To listen to Alpha and Beta singing in the shower… the streams of it we sometimes hear in the evening. Those moments make me appreciate that we’ve created a family environment where we easily laugh and sing.

Or just now. A glance and I see movement around the Christmas tree… Murphy’s suddenly discovered his in-the-house ball had rolled under the Christmas tree and he’s belly crawling trying to get it. He looks over at me and pauses as if to say, “Give me a chance… I’ll get it.” I do and he does. He takes it, climbs up on his chair with the Batman blanket in it and he’s lying over there now alternating gnawing on the ball and looking at me. It’s just a moment, but I’m mindful of it and him. It makes me smile.

I guess what I’m advocating is that in our so demanding world of digital devices, alerts and reminders of a plugged in, multitasking and connected world… this holiday time of year that can be so hectic and hurried… that when we have a moment… take it for ourselves. Hear the sounds, see what’s around you… that can make you smile… and plug them firmly into memory.

They come and go quickly, but they all add up… if we pay attention.

Here shortly, this morning, my daughters and I will make and bake Christmas cookies. And you know when they come out of the oven, and that wonderful aroma fills the house, I’ll savor the sensation and appreciate the time with them to make the cookies. It will trigger thoughts — year after year it always does — to back when they were shorter and had to stretch to get at them. Little hands reaching up to the kitchen counter, or bar, where the cookies cooled on sheets of aluminum foil. And I think of how they’ve all grown up. Just that moment makes my day a better one.

I hope that something in each and every day bring a smile to your face and a good feeling in your heart. Just remember they’re often there… if you pay attention to the moments.

The 8th Dove of Christmas

The 8th Dove of Christmas


I know that some of you do.

Others that I don’t know probably do, too.

And I’m sure some assholes don’t. They do the opposite and no one likes them. 😉

The 9th Dove of Christmas

The 9th Dove of Christmas

I feel right… and I hope you do, too.

The 10th Dove of Christmas

The 10th Dove of Christmas

I love this one. There have been times in my life — twice at critical points — when I didn’t wait for permission… didn’t wait for an opening… didn’t wait to be considered… did not hope for approval before I did what I needed to do. I showed up expecting to be accepted. And it worked, extraordinarily, to my benefit.

When we, my family and I, drive somewhere and we’re parking… we check the closest parking to where we’re going. When there’s an open spot I always say, “They knew we were coming.” I tell my girls that only half-jokingly.

I believe, in life, you have to expect room in the front row and expect to be welcomed and appreciated. I know from experience that doing so (intelligently, with good taste, and hard work, you can’t be a dumbass slacker and pull it off) works out in your favor more often than not. And that can create a good life for you. Or turn one around.

The 11th Dove of Christmas

The 11th Dove of Christmas

This one likely means to not let the clock rule you. To take the time to smell the roses and there is value in that. You should take time for yourself.

But another thought about this comes to mind. I have a thing about this; a focus on timeliness and being on time that preexisted the focus that military training, especially combat and force operations, instills in you. Time matters: Time on Target, Time to Impact, Course and Time to Intercept, Last Contact Time… Run Time, Speed and Distance (range rings) On Submerged Target. Relieve the Watch On Time. Time and Tide Wait for No Man. And on and on…

I believe being disciplined with time is an important part of success in life. But you have to be smart and make sure that it is spent on the things worth spending your time. And on what’s important to you and not someone else.

We all have job/work clocks and schedules. Even as a business owner/self-employed professional for 20+ years I still have deadlines and a clock and calendar determined by what is negotiated in my contracts with clients and the demands and requirements of publishing and publication deadlines (including production and book manufacturing lead times and schedules).

But I believe there are times when people let someone else’s clock (not their job or work) rule their life.

Others expect this or that from you… you always say yes to them when you should, more times than not, say no. For some reason, you feel obligated to do as they ask or are compelled to do it to curry favor. Sometimes you remain the gerbil on that wheel because you don’t know how to stop. And so you end up tense, frustrated and feeling life is out of your control. If that’s how you’ve let things become, then it’s true. You don’t have control over your life. You’ve ceded that to someone else or to the whim of circumstance. Your life is governed by the ticking hands of someone else’s clock. And that is the clock you should ignore.

To correct that, start with this: understand precisely what your clock requirements are and make those your priority. It has to be a balance of work/job, family, and personal goals/objectives. Once you’ve got those covered if you have extra then allocate that time as you see fit.

The 12th Dove of Christmas

The 12th Dove of Christmas

Some will read this, agree with it and be thankful. I did, do and am. Others might view it differently. How you feel when you read this depends entirely on where choices, and to a degree, chance, have led you in life. I believe the former more than the latter are the drivers and determinants of our life: the past, present, and future. Just remember that:

The past does not chain us.

The present is a moment in time.

The future is not fixed or pre-determined.

Dennis Green, the former coach of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings in a now famous post-game rant, said about an opponent (they had just lost to): “They are who we thought they were.” It was part of a bizarre tirade but here’s where it’s apt in the context of my thoughts on this Dove. “We are who we think we are.” And I’d join that with “We are where are decisions have led us… so we are where we are.”

This Dove’s use of the word ‘supposed’ is key. Here’s the definition of that word: generally assumed or believed to be the case, but not necessarily so.

So maybe you read this and feel you are not where you’re supposed to be. Where you are is not a happy place or maybe it’s marginal… not bad but not great. Maybe it’s limbo.

But there it is. It is where you are.

The question I have is whether you can read this Dove’s statement this time next year and feel the same way—or will you feel different.

It primarily comes down to your choices between now and then.