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Wade Heath Summer is a great time for reading and relaxing

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Wade Heath

Posted: Monday, August 8, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 6:14 am, Mon Aug 8, 2011.

Ah, summer. A time to relax, unwind and take a "you" moment or two. Whether it is a trip down the waterslide or catching up with an old friend, summer is the perfect season for it, with endless days and comfortable nights.

But this year, as I continue with my personal theme of "My character, My happiness, My life," I have decided to embrace a summer of gratitude and enrichment; gratitude for all of the things I appreciate, and enrichment for all of the things I sincerely hope will make me better.

First, the gratitude: Being thankful for, well, everything!

It's easy to get bogged down by so much of the negative in life. Why not look for the things to be thankful for? Friends, family, a job (even a bad one), food on the table, the sun in the sky and the heart beating in your chest. All reasons to be thankful, am I right?

A deep sense of gratitude will ultimately feed your soul with so much glory and goodness, you'll start to feel more at peace. Expressing gratitude is critical to self-restoration if you are trying to jumpstart your life after a crash and burn, which I know many people are currently going through right now.

As the old saying goes: You can't control what happens to you, but you can control how you deal with it.

I love volunteering. There's something so amazing about giving of yourself and not expecting anything in return. You give because you have a desire to do so. This summer I've pledged to volunteer more, and in a variety of different ways: meals on wheels, environmental clean-up and mentoring, to name a few. Sure, I work full-time, but spending some of my free hours helping others is a tremendously satisfying reward.

Writing quick thank-you notes to those who mean the most to you, or who simply make your life better, is a fantastic way to show gratitude, and something the recipient tends to really appreciate since we live in an electronic world full of tweets and instant messages. Something hand-written really makes an impact.

One of the places I feel most filled with gratitude is nature. God's amazing creation is inspiring, and many times I feel as though being surrounded by the beauty and majesty of it all (like the beach or the wilderness) helps put me in tune with my place in this world.

Books. They're great any time of the year, but during the long summer days there's more daylight than ever to read up. I enjoy learning new things and about old things. Whether it be history, politics, points of view or cultures.

"Dare to Win" is a book about achieving dreams and making the most of your life by the boys who brought you the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series, Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield. It's been inspiring, to say the least, and while it has been out for more than a decade, it's a new treasure to me. I highly recommend it if you've never cracked the pages of this one before.

"Split: A Divided America" is a documentary film I had shelved until I had time to sit down and enjoy it recently. It is an award-winning film that takes a look at the incredible divide among American citizens, the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Civil War. The film, a "coast-to-coast investigation of the divided states of America," is fairly objective and does a fine job outlining political differences and even political ignorance that has been breaking a united citizenry apart. The film can be viewed for free at Hulu.com.

Ever wonder how big government as we know it came to be? Or where the birth of today's liberal ideals came from? Look no further than "Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism," by Ronald J. Pestritto, on the 28th President of the United States.

I've only just begun to read this stirring look back at a man who changed the way we see this country. From snubbing the Constitution to completely disregarding many of the founding wishes of those before him, President Wilson could very well be considered the founding father of the new progressivism we see today.

One thing I like so far is how Mr. Pestritto is using the former president's own words and writings to show that this isn't some skewed interpretation of the Wilson legacy, but in fact a reality.

Of course, I might also take a trip somewhere fun and get a little silly in the process, but my summer, for the most part, is pretty much laid out before me. What are some of your summer plans, reading lists or to-view movies.

Columnist Wade Heath, of Lodi, is editor of NationalTalkLive.com. He can be contacted at wade.lodi@gmail.com.

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