Mark Ballard

The seasons of a lifetime

The palette of autumn is a spectacular one. Every year its brilliant colors transform green leaves into colorful masterpieces.
The palette of autumn is a spectacular one. Every year its brilliant colors transform green leaves into colorful masterpieces. Mark Ballard

Looking through the window, I could see the morning sun peeking through the orange and red leaves of a tree in our yard. The light was softly bouncing off of the crisp, brittle leaves as if it wanted to showcase them one more time before they released from the branches and floated to the ground.

The palette of autumn is a spectacular one. Every year its brilliant colors transform green leaves into colorful masterpieces. The cool nip in the morning air is also a welcome one. The time changes and so does the season. All these alterations are very much a part of life.

I was cleaning out my closet the other day and realized just how much things really do change. A shirt I thought was wonderful when I purchased it didn’t have the same appeal a few years later. Fashions change and so does life. We could all benefit from spending some time cleaning up things in and around our lives.

The older I become the more I realize that each stage of life offers a different way of seeing things. Our perspective shifts and we realize what’s really important. Just like a tree sheds its leaves to begin another season, we need to do the same thing.

One thing I notice as I’m striding through the other side of middle age is that I’m getting much better at paring down the noise around me. With each year, we should strive to become a little closer to understanding the process of living. As we do, we will realize just how precious life is and won’t want to waste a single second.

There should be no space in a lifetime that isn’t filled with positive things! Negative things and people are like heavy anchors pulling us down and wasting our time. The first step to being fulfilled and happy is freeing yourself from negative energy. Maturing helps you realize this.

The best way to accomplish this is to surround yourself with only positive influences and people. We all have people in our lives who bring out the worst in us. They push unhealthy buttons and cause us to waste positive energy. If you dread being around someone, you may need to ask yourself why. People always show you who they are. Sometimes we just have to take a good look to truly see.

I attended a party last week at the home of one of my childhood friends. It was so special to see them and many of their family members. I left the party happy and with a smile on my face. Each of them played a role in my younger life. I was grateful to spend some time with them.

The positive people whose paths we cross on our journey through life are always willing to lift you up. It doesn’t matter if you saw them yesterday or 20 years ago. They are the friendships that have survived the test of time. They are the ones who made a positive impact.

I’ve realized another thing about myself as I age: I’m less competitive with those around me. Instead of the goal being to have more, do more or be more, my goal has shifted to just being the best I can be. When we put all our energies into becoming the best we can be, there is no time left for comparisons.

As I age, I laugh more, try to cry less, do things that make me happy and try to stay positive. It’s not always easy but I’m getting better and better as every year ticks by. With each of my passing seasons, I have the potential of new growth. Without new growth, we can never change!

▪ Visit Mark and over 100 other fine vendors at Mistletoe Market at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry. He’ll have all his new holiday merchandise and much more! And, he’ll be on stage daily at lunchtime demonstrating recipes and decorating tips. Show hours are Nov. 18 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Nov. 19 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Nov. 20 from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are good for all three days.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.