Every Monday, I’ll post about discovering genuine hope and authentic answers for living a healthy life.

Last Wednesday, I wrote about decreasing boredom by examining everyday things with all eight of our intelligences. I used pine cones as an example.

I collect them. Not just any pine cones, though. Specific ones.

About a month ago, I rearranged how I display things on my shelves in the living room because I added a piece of furniture that has shelves. I dusted and cleaned my pine cones and arranged them back in the corner of the second shelf. I was as careful with them as I was with my Hummels and the vase my grandmother painted when she was 18.

The pine cones themselves have no value. The memories attached to them do. That’s why I have, will keep, and will add to my collection. They serve to remind me of my security, identities, and belonging. What do you own or collect that serves the same purpose? Please note! They are not your security, identity, and belonging. They remind you of your security, identity, and belonging. That’s a huge difference!

My most important ones are small and about 45 years old. They’re from the Christmas tree we had that year. I was about 12 and had gladly given up my bed to one of my many Great Aunts. I was trying to sleep, on the couch in the den where we had set up the tree, but I kept hearing strange sounds. I eventually fell asleep, but mentioned the sounds to my parents that morning because I wondered if there was a mouse or something in the room.

When we were quiet, we could hear the noises. They sounded like popping or crackling. I don’t remember now who figured it out, but one of my parents realize d the sounds were tiny pine cones on the tree opening as water reached their branches.

When un-decorating the tree after Christmas, I chose to keep some of the cones because it was funny that I thought the sounds might have been made by a mouse. Now they remind me of a fun Christmas experience and my fabulous extended family.

Some of the largest pine cones are from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where I had a fabulous experience teaching a five-day course to Marines and civilian employees several years ago. I also have some from a Colorado mountain picnic the day after Thanksgiving a few years ago. Some are from beautiful golf courses.

Collectively, they all remind me that I have a rich life.