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Why This Summer Is Special

Relax with Gratitude

Jay shares thoughts on the special season of summer – as a time of gratitude and a moment to enjoy the fruits of all our hard work during the year.

Life moves fast. We work hard all year. And, when summer comes along, what a great time to reflect – with genuine gratitude for the blessings in our life – and take some special time to enjoy with family and friends. Go on trip or enjoy some relaxing time at home. Whatever your preference, summer is a time to treasure.

One thing I’ve always been proud of as an American is the incredible work ethic that exists in this country which has been passed down from generation to generation. And when times get tough, as we’ve seen this past year, countless numbers of individuals go above and beyond the call of their own responsibilities to help others. As we go through this year, however, working to provide for ourselves, our family, or even our friends in some cases, there are generally few opportunities like the summer to take a moment to both appreciate the fruits of our labor and to express gratitude for the good things life has afforded us.

If you know me or if you’re a regular reader of the Sunshine Report, you’ll know how much I believe in the power of gratitude. But what is it and why is expressing gratitude considered to be such a good thing? Dr. Robert Emmons, often considered one of the leading experts in the area of gratitude writes, “​​it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.” In other words, expressing gratitude grounds us and not only gives us a sense of appreciation for things we’ve worked for, but also for what others have done for us. On top of that, numerous studies have shown that expressing gratitude has incredible physiological, physical, and social benefits for those who regularly practice it. This isn’t to say that life is always peachy, but by expressing gratitude, we encourage ourselves to look at some of the goodness we have in our lives and focus on what is positive rather than what isn’t.

After almost a year and a half of this pandemic, and with the peak of summer just around the corner, I can’t think of a better time than now to take a step back while we’re on ‘summer time’, to count our blessings and cherish the things and people we admire and adore. In doing so, our appreciation for the value of those things grows, and when our appreciation grows, we benefit from it more and are less likely to take it for granted. The great thing too is that it’s a relatively easy thing to start if you don’t regularly practice already. One way to practice is to write down three good things that happened during your day or that you’re grateful for, either before you start your day, after your day is over, or both. Another practice is to write a letter of gratitude to someone or even something you’re grateful to have in your life. You’d be surprised how sharing your appreciation for someone or something can not only help you improve the relationship, but also strengthen your overall level of gratitude and joy.

It’s fair to say that I work a lot. But after a long day of work or an extended road trip away from home, the one thing that always helps me appreciate each and every one of my experiences is by taking a moment simply to be grateful that I was afforded the experience at all. So, as you enjoy summer vacations, backyard cookouts, time with friends and family and more, be sure to sit back, relax, and take a moment to truly enjoy the experience, you deserve it.

New Hampshire’s Castle in the Clouds

In Moultonborough, New Hampshire sits a lesser known gem called Castle in the Cloud. The “Castle” is a mansion placed on an outcrop that looks out on the Ossipee Mountains with views of New Hampshire’s largest lake, Winnipesaukee. The story behind the property is as fascinating as the property itself and involves a true American success story.

Tom Plant was born in Bath, Maine to French Canadian immigrants and began working at a shoe factory when he was 14. He was a hard worker and went from factory worker to factory owner in 11 years. Then, in less than a decade, Tom expanded the plant to become the largest shoe factory in the world, and he did this all by his 32nd birthday. He continued to work, retired at the age of 51 and began to look for a place to enjoy his retirement years and that place would end up being the Castle in the Clouds.

Originally called Lucknow, the 16-room mansion was made with local materials including pink granite from Conway, NH and white oak from Maine. Sprawling across 6,300 acres with trails and even a manmade lake, this property was designed to incorporate elements of nature and the surrounding sights. The Plants enjoyed the property until Tom’s passing when the property transferred to the Tobey family who cherished the property to the point where the matron of the family, Susan, actually refused to allow President Eisenhower to use the estate as a summer retreat!

Today the property is open to the public and is being preserved so that this amazing building can be enjoyed by everyone with the inclusion of a restaurant and 35 miles of hiking trails! On your next visit to the Lakes Region, you will definitely want to take a visit to Castle in the Clouds. I promise, it will not disappoint!


This past week our daughter Morgan visited us from the west coast. It was a great delight to have her home. Like so many of us with kids outside the nest, we always enjoy their coming home and we reflect on the times we spent with them growing up. One of the things we truly enjoyed have enjoyed as a family has been hiking. Right here in New Hampshire we have over 4,000 miles of trails that are maintained by our state’s Department of Cultural and Natural Resources as well as volunteers.

From beginners to experts there is a hiking opportunity for everyone. We have 48, 4,000 foot mountains for you to test your skills and enjoy the great outdoors. Every county offers opportunities to enjoy hiking and I encourage you to get out there and do so.

If you are someone who enjoys dogs like I do, then take out for a hike. The state of New Hampshire has dog friendly trails and a chance for dog to be a dog! Can’t beat that. Last weekend, my son Gates made the fun climb up Mt. Kearsarge along with his dog, affectionately named Tiger Woofs! A wonderful, highly energetic Belgian Malinois. The same breed used by our Navy SEAL’s.

Year round we can get out there and hike. In the summer you can hike to the top of the mountain often in short sleeves and a pair of shorts. In the fall you can take in the all the gorgeous colors of the leaves and enjoy the crisp air. In the winter you dust of the snow shoes, and in the spring you can hike along a river and guide yourself to an amazing water fall.

Hiking is truly one of New Hampshire’s great past times and an opportunity to make memories that will last a lifetime. Family adventures and great fun!

Happy Hiking everyone!

Positive Profile of the Week: Augusta Petrone

I’m so very delighted this week to highlight a wonderful friend and true New Hampshire treasure, Augusta Petrone.

Augusta is in a class by herself. Upbeat, positive and always with a sparkle in her eye. She is one of the most amazing and gracious people I have ever had the pleasure to know. And of course, If you’re involved in politics in the Granite State, it’s no doubt you know the name Augusta Petrone. From the White House to the State House, Augusta is always there to be involved, share insights and participate in our great American democratic process.

Most people know that Augusta has opened up her amazing home in Dublin (once a summer vacation spot for President Taft) to help causes, share cultural opportunities and bring people together. Augusta has hosted operas, political fundraisers for major office seekers, and intimate teas with people across the region to hear about the amazing things they are doing in their fields. A few years back we visited Augusta for one of those teas to share the news of Children of Fallen Patriots and the naming our annual award after her late husband Joseph. She was delighted for this news but in true Augusta fashion was ready to jump into the deep end to ensure that the Children of Fallen Patriots organization would be successful. And, thanks to Augusta and the many volunteers, it has been remarkably successful, and there is more to come on that I promise.

Although modest and understated, make no mistake about it, Augusta Petrone is a political powerhouse. And, passionately devoted to our American freedom. She served as Co-Chair for the Reagan Bush campaign in Iowa in 1984. Has attended multiple national conventions as a delegate and thanks to some fun browsing on the C-Span ‘Road to White House’ archives, I stumbled across the 2000 New Hampshire Electoral College ceremony held in the Executive Council chambers featuring none other than Augusta. Listen to her speech and in true Augusta fashion she praised the process, those involved, and those who traveled to witness history. It was never about her, but instead, she was delighted to see people “uphold the fabric” of democracy. Here is the link -

There is no finer lady than Augusta Petrone and Karen and I like so many, are honored to call her friend!

Positive Quotes of the Week: Relax

“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer.”

Leonardo da Vinci

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

William James

“Take charge of your schedule. Make time for reflection and relaxation.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”

Thomas Aquinas

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.”

Jane Austen

1 Comment

Jul 24, 2021

Your ideas on gratitude are great

I'm going to take your advice and write down 3 things I'm grateful for everyday

Love it🙂

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