It was just after two yesterday afternoon and I had literally just put out the food for the raccoons, birds, and possums.

I had walked away to get a dish of water for them and when I came back with it, Ricky was already there, digging into one of the dishes. She backed off as I put the water down but then swiftly returned as I got a few yards away.

Up until a month or two ago, I had been putting the food out around four or five, but Ricky’s early arrivals were giving me reason to do so a bit earlier.

She is the early adventurer and in my opinion is a real reason to organize things early. I hate the thought that any of these wild little creatures would come to one of the food stations only to find no food.

My intent is to give any of these little guys a safe place to come for “guaranteed” food. I imagine that life in the wild is difficult, so anything I can do the mitigate the difficulties for any of these creatures, reinforces my purpose.

I managed to take a bunch of shots with my big lens, which allowed me to be a good distance away from her and still bring the view close. While I absolutely love shooting these guys, I hate to feel that I am imposing on them and making them nervous.

The lens does a good job and I have put a whole bunch of them here at the end of the blog. Hope you enjoy!

As I went back into the house, I felt proud not just of being able to get the shots, but having the food out in time for the early arrival. And Ricky being hungry that early, gave me the affirmation i needed to understand that I am doing the right thing.

As I went through the images on the PC , I began to muse over the whole concept of affirmation and why in moderation, it is a very positive influence over our lives.

There are many times where the results of our actions are invisible to us and for years now I have been putting bowls outside for wayward strangers. For ages, their arrival was always in the dark, so the only real feedback that I got was picking up the licked-clean bowls each morning after.

There was that one moment a couple of years ago, when one actually left a present for me – a shiny bauble that they carried to the site of my bowls and rested it on the edge of a bowl. I definitely understood that to be a thank you and it very much made me feel good about my efforts.

Receiving positive feedback can be a real motivator and most parents instill this behavior in their parenting in order to encourage their children to continue the good they are doing. Of course some parents never tell little Johnny he is doing good and oftentimes little Johnny becomes a low-key under-achiever because of it. Then there are other parents that lavish false affirmation on their kids no matter how pathetic their performance is and those kids grow up to be entitled adults that think life owes them something.

There is a fine balance and when we lose track of it, we end up being those losers that drive around with stickers on the back of our car telling their world that little Bradley was named student of the week for having perfect attendance.

The schools that hand out these stickers are also the kind of bad influences that give every child in the race a medal for participation.

Well done Frankie, you may have finished seventeenth in the race but hey you managed to make it into school every day this week. You, my son, are a winner!

When balanced properly and genuinely recognizing something that a child has done, affirmation can be all a child needs in repeating or even exceeding an achievement.

The same is true for adults but the world we live in doesn’t hand out gold stars when we do something right. Most parenting falls by the wayside in our adult years and work, which houses our new set of familial bonds rarely contributes affirmation on a sincere level. Work will very quickly let you know when you have done something wrong, but unless you work in an environment that I have yet to see, rarely do they give you a sticker for your car for your perfect attendance this past week.

So, we need to look outside of work and home for most affirmations and oftentimes this affirmation will come like I describe here with the raccoons.

But most affirmation needs to come from within yourself.

Knowing that you have done something positive, knowing that you have given it your best, knowing that you have positively affected a situation with another person or creature … these are the kinds of things you must recognize as you put your head on the pillow and call an end to the day.

In so doing, we become that voice that says “well done, Johnny. Keep it up and maybe one day you will get a sticker too.”

And isn’t that all we really need as we close our eyes on life for the last time?

A sticker on our life that reads more than we were here every day and participated. I aim for one that says “He wasn’t perfect, but he did his best.”

… just a thought!