Facing your past to better your future

OK friends, Our pasts are in our past for a reason, but I hate to break it to you…. sometimes it is very necessary to revisit them. Open the history books and re-read a few chapters to be able to digest it properly in order to charge forward. This is NOT always a bad thing. Hear me out.

This is my belief and you do not have to co-sign it or agree. As my dad always said pinions are like butt-holes (not exactly the word he used, but you get the idea). We all have them and they are worth exactly what you pay for them, which is nothing. So here is mine. Take it, or leave it.

First, imagine a car. There is a LARGE windshield and a MUCH smaller rear view mirror. Both are necessary for driving. I will agree, using the rear view mirror is optional, but it does help in many cases. The windshield is your future. The rear view mirror is your past. You always look forward through the windshield and you occasionally glance into the rear view mirror. YOU are the driver and you are the present. The here and now in your life. (WOW, what a metaphor).

Recently, I explored my past to deal with some issues that were holding me back with moving forward with my marriage and being there for my family. In doing so, I now have a much better relationship with my husband and I feel like I am able to be there for my children and grandchildren where I was previously more withdrawn personally (though they may not have been aware). I had not faced things that had occurred in my younger years. I simply swept them under the rug and kept charging forward with life pushing them and the memories attached to them “under the rug” hoping to pile more (and hopefully better) life memories on top of them. My friends, this does not always work. There are triggers in life that let the ugly memories of the past pop right back up.

As life moved on, Other situations have presented themselves. Other people have come into my life and shall remain nameless. These people also have had to face their pasts. In their situations it was to help those they love move forward in similar situations (not exact) to their own. It was to help them understand they are not alone in their situation and also to help them cope and learn. To stop a cycle, to get them to a better place in life, to love them through a transition, to keep them safe and to comfort them.

The moral of this story is to share with you that our pasts are there to learn from. To not only to help us grow, but also to pass on and to help others maybe not make the same mistakes. Our pasts are not a judgements of who we are. The things that “happen to us” as children are not our fault. Children cannot be held responsible for the decisions adults make, do not beat yourself up for anything that has happened to you as a child, that does NOT make you any less of a person. If anything, it makes you stronger because you have survived. The choices that we make as young adults may very well be our fault, but s*#t happens and life MUST go on.

As parents and grandparents, looking at our pasts and sharing the growth we have and the lessons (not the details) from those experiences allow us to be human and real in the eyes of “Tiny Humans” who may see us as super hero parents. Sometimes, these little people need to see that. They struggle too.

It’s ok to have a past that may not have been so perfect. It’s in the past and it cannot hurt us. The past made us the fabulous, strong, resilient people we are today. The past has taught us to survive, taught us to prevail, taught us to fight, to stand up if we have fallen, dust ourselves up and charge forward again.

It is important to remember, the rear view mirror is small for a reason. It is NOT meant to be stared into. It is meant only for a glance. The wind shield is large for a reason as well. It is meant to remind us to see far far into the future. On a country road, you can see for miles. You are only limited to what you set your own limits to.

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When life gets in the way of your regularly scheduled program…

We will now return to your regularly scheduled program….. Hi friends and family! It’s me! Mrs. Go To Girl! I know, It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted a blog so here I am being real about life.

My life has gotten in the way of my regularly scheduled program. My kids, my husband, my family and friends will all tell you I am a control freak. Yes, I do live by the seat of my pants when it comes to “ME”. But, when it comes to “them”, I usually plan the day-to-day life stuff down to the wire. The breakfast, lunch, dinner, homework, weekend activities, etc…. all planned. Who is going where? Who will be in town, and who is scheduled to leave? What bills are getting paid? What laundry needs to be done for which uniform or activity? All of it, carefully orchestrated like a magical symphony to keep a busy and active family running smoothly with very few hiccups.

But my life….. HA! Total train wreck on any given day. MY sister has always found this incredibly amusing. In my life and the careers I have had I have very literally planner large scale events to include thousands of people and they have gone off without a hitch, but can’t manage to schedule my own hair appointment and can manage to forget a prescription refill for two weeks past the due date! I am that lady who sees the blinking gas light and passes three gas stations before stopping for gas. Why do we do these things?

So here I am asking for your forgiveness in being remiss on staying on top of my blog posts. I will get back to enlightening you with my little quips and silly tips and tricks and thoughts on the world once again if you wish to read them. We shall return to the “regularly schedule program” as they say.

It’s funny how life get’s in the way. I suppose that’s a good thing from time to time. I think it means we are alive and living in the moment. I for one, know I do plan too much and need to embrace more adventures. Those who love me do joke about my “Grandma Adventures”, but I love the ones I get to take the kids on and I know one day they will out grow them so I want to soak them up while I still can.

Recently I have been so overwhelmed with life that even my husband noticed and he literally said “let it go”. So this is what I am attempting to do. I hope you will embrace this new choice with me. Yes I want my family to be healthy, make good choices, use good manners, be educated, and go far in life, but not at all costs. I most of all want them to be happy. Live in the moment. I want to lead by example. And this, I need to remember.

Have a happy day!

Need a a little giggle?

I love to send corny jokes to my kids randomly. They are absolutely silly and usually completely random, but I know that they make my kids laugh inside, usually smile and they almost roll they eyes and say “oh mom!”. It’s the best. If nothing else, it makes me smile just to send them. I thought I would share some of these silly little snippets with you in case you find it in your heart to send a random message to your loved ones today…. just because. I promise, making someone “LOL” for no reason at all is the best!

Here are a few….

  1. How do you make a tissue dance? (Put a little boogie in it)
  2. Why is 6 scared of 7? (Because 7 8 9)
  3. Why do some fish live in salt water? (Because pepper would make them sneeze)
  4. Where do bees go to the bathroom? (The BP station)
  5. Why did the picture have to go to prison? (It was framed)
  6. Why is it impossible for your nose to be 12 inches long? (Because then it would be a foot)
  7. Why did the physics teacher break up with the biology teacher? (There was no chemistry)
  8. Why do the French like to eat snails? (They don’t like fast food)
  9. Why is it a bad idea to insult an Octopus? (Because it is well-armed)
  10. Why do cows wear bells? (Their horns don’t work)

I know this post is a bit corny, but who can’t use to be a little silly now and again. In today’s world we could all stand to lighten up and just laugh. Pass these along to someone in need of a smile instead of a frown and in case I haven’t mentioned it lately… Have a Happy day!

Schedule “Me Time”

It happens to the best of us, life gets busy and as our schedules and “to do” lists get longer and busier, the time we take for ourselves tends to disappear.  We feel like if we take time for ourselves we are neglecting our family, acting selfishly, or neglecting our responsibilities.  This could not be further from the truth. Life is noisy.  Life is busy.  Life takes up so much of our energy.  It’s understandable that every individual has different work situations that are unique to their field, but it important to remember that you don’t live to work. Sometimes, putting aside time for yourself may even prove to be the ideal catalyst to liberating yourself from all the struggles that are suffocating you.  

Let’s take a look at what happens when we don’t take time for ourselves and some suggestions on how to avoid or change this situation:

  1. Mental and Physical Exhaustion: people may experience mental fatigue, insomnia, confusion, poor concentration, depression, anxiety, and increased irritability when they do not take time to take care of themselves. Just like we need sleep, we need time out. 
  2. Resentments and anger build up: 
    The lack of time to yourself can cause you to build up resentments that can harm both you and your relationships. When you spend all your time filling other people’s cups, it’s likely yours will run empty. Sometimes, especially when we’re tired, we may become angry about giving so much. 
  3. Poor self-esteem develops:   
    Self-care and self-love are very much connected.  If we truly love and care about ourselves, we would make the time to care for both our physical health and mental health.  Sometimes a reluctance to make time for self-care can go deeper, to issues of self-worth and self-love.

Here is a quick list of ways to improve your “me time” and take better care of yourself on a daily basis:

  1. Schedule it! – Make a meeting with yourself daily or weekly depending on the content of the meeting.  Do you need a daily reprieve, or do you want to schedule an hour or two for a mani/pedi, exercise, or just to sit by the pool and read?  
  2. Make it count! – Don’t just “schedule” ten minutes a day or quiet time, make it quality time.  Just as you would give your newborn child your undivided attention, you deserve your attention too!
  3. Delegate tasks! – don’t let life get in the way.  Don’t get bogged down with a long list of “to do’s”  
  4. Check your e-mail and social media feeds at delegated times – Are you attached at the hip to your smart phone?  Put it down and schedule times that you will pick it up and review the latest updates.  
  5. Take 5! – Whenever you start to get overwhelmed or feel anxious, take 5 minutes to step outside and take a deep breath.  Walk around your office or work space.  there is no harm in taking 5 minutes to regroup.
  6. Say no with dignity an grace – You do not have to accept every invitation to get together or take on every task given to you.  Do not take on more than you can handle, and really take a long hard look at what you can realistically handle.  Unless you are wearing a cape and tights, I’m pretty sure you are not a super hero.  
  7. Shower time is “your time” – This is one of the few times in your day that you can guarantee peace and quiet.  Take advantage of it.  
    Purchase some aroma therapy products that you love and treat each shower like it is a spa getaway. Take some deep breaths and let the warm water wash away any tension that you were having.
  8. Take the long way home – no matter how you get o and from work or your daily activity, take the scenic route and enjoy a little peace and quiet before switching gears to family and kids and responsibilities.  

Keep in mind that carving out time for yourself is vital for keeping yourself healthy, and that means a happier family and more productive work and school life.

This blog posts was written in honor of my sister.  She takes on the world everyday.  She is strong, beautiful, smart, giving and many times forgets to take care of herself. 

Live happily,   Mrs. Go To Girl

Learning to let go

Learning to let go is a hard lesson to learn but oh so important.  So often we get bogged down with a mile long list of “to do’s” and follow that with a busy schedule, a long list of people (friends and family) that crown our minds with their own issues and you have the perfect recipe for anxiety, stress, and an overall sense of doom if you’re not careful.

It happens to the best of us and far too often.  We let our inbox fill up and sit there staring at it not even sure where to start.  This is where “letting go” comes into play.  I have two thoughts to share with you:

  1. My dad always told me that even after you are dead and gone, people will still put things in your “inbox”, the trick is to focus on what is important and don’t worry about all the small stuff.
  2. There is only one way to eat an elephant and that is one bite at a time.  Even when your lists of things to do and places to be pile up…. in the end you can only be one place at a time and do one thing at a time.  Sure there is the novel idea of multi-tasking, but a task done right deserves your full attention.

So where does this leave us?  Yep….  sorting through our mess and figuring out what to let go of.  We can’t do it all and we can’t be everywhere all the time.  You know I love lists and here is your turn to make your own.  There are two lists that you need:

  1. List of priorities in life
  2. Current list of things to do (this is a daily list)

The first list (Priorities) is the most important and will help you keep perspective when making your daily list.  The priorities list is one that stays fairly constant and only changes when major life events happen.  (The birth of a child, a marriage, a divorce, or even a death).  This is a list of who, what and where your personal priorities are.  I will give you an example of my list to kick off your thought process (This is by no means the same list you will have, but you get the idea).

  1. My Sobriety
  2. God
  3. My family
  4. My job
  5. …… this list can go on, but the first four are the most important to me.

The order you make the list is also important.  As you can see from my list, my sobriety is #1 on the list.  I am currently 15 1/2 years sober.  God willing, I will be 16 years sober and counting.  This is a choice I have made in my life and live this choice one day at a time.  It is at the top of the list because without it, I lose sight of my faith, crush and ruin my family and will ultimately lose my job.  #2 on my list is God.  For me a solid faith in a Higher Power comes before my family.  Without my faith in God and the ability to trust in him, I fall to pieces.  Faith can move mountains and my life is proof of that.  #3 is my family.  My husband, my children, my grandchildren, my parents and siblings.  I am blessed with an enormous, loving family.  It is my priority to show up and be present for them.  They are my rock when I waiver in various areas of my life and they keep me grounded.  Finally, my job is on the list.  I work to live, I do not live to work.  I need to place importance on my job in order to provide support to my family and to be an active member of society.

This is just an example of a list (that happens to be mine).  With this list in place, I can build my daily “to do” list.  It is a daily activity because as we all know, life throws us curve-balls all the time.  The order of this list, the contents, and the length of the list changes daily.  It is supposed to.  IF it was always the same, I fear we would lead very boring lives.  Here is an example of my “to do” list:

  1. Exercise – usually done first thing in the morning, but a daily goal for my physical and mental health
  2. Get my grandson ready for school – I have made a commitment to my family to be the best mom / grandma possible and helping this little guy out is very important to me.
  3. Work (Work has it’s own “To Do” list of course, but I try to keep that list confined to the hours spent at the office.)
  4. Spend time with my husband – He and I have completely different schedules when it comes to work and this keeps us missing each other if we aren’t careful.  When I married this man, in my wedding vows I promised to make him a priority in my life.  I keep this promise by making sure he is on my daily list.  Even if it is a simple shared cup of coffee or a walk on the beach holding his hand, that is very special quality time.
  5. ….. this list can go on, but you get he point.

Sometimes there are other task involved.  Do I need to call the doctor and make an appointment?  Do I need to stop by the store on may home and pick up groceries? Do I need to go to a meting in the evening or do I have plans to meet up with a friend?  All of these go on the list and the list is ever changing.

Once my lists are complete, the next thing to do is step back and take a look at the size of my “elephant”.  The only way to get things marked off my list is to put the list in order and then ready set go!  One thing at a time.  One task, one errand, one little tiny goal to be accomplished.

Sometimes life can feels like it is only tiny goals and the milestones are never hit.  When that feeling creeps in and your lists begin to overwhelm you that is when it is time to take a step back.  DO a little inventory of your life over the past month, year, or several years.  See where you have made major progress and take time to celebrate.  The little voices in our heads can so easily get us down on ourselves.  Are you climbing the corporate ladder fast enough? Are you the best mom or dad you can be?  Are you keeping up with bills and chores?  When stepping back to look at life for a brief moment, realize a few things….  your lights are on, your able to keep warm when it’s cold out, you’re able to reach out to your family when you need to, you’re able to eat a good meal or even enjoy a fun time with friends.  This must mean you are doing things right.  Do you have a place to lay your head at night?  You did that (by working, paying bills, and being present in life).  Do you have people who love you?  You did that (by being present in their lives too when they needed you).  I could step back at your life and tell you how wonderful it is, but that isn’t what you need.  You need to give yourself a pat on the back for making the good decisions that got you to the age you are.  A little hug now and then for not giving up. Trust me, giving up may many times seem like the easiest thing to do, but don’t give up before the miracles happen.  You will miss out on the most beautiful thing yet to come.

I will close with this…  When your list is long and life seems overwhelming, break it down.  If the lawn doesn’t get owed today, it will be there tomorrow and maybe then your list will be shorter.  Base your daily list on your priorities list.  For me, it is a gut check on the strength of my sobriety.  It is a moment to pray and thank God for his blessings and ask for his will in my life.  It is a call to my kids and a stolen glance with my husband even on the busiest of days.  These are the top three things on my list.  The rest is just “stuff”.

Written With Love,

Mrs. Go To Girl

 

Stand tall with grace (part 1 of 2)

I warn you in advance, this is a long blog.  In fact I’m going to write it in two parts, so I hope you stick around for both segments.

PART ONE:

I have a few things I am crazy-passionate about:

1. Paying It forward (Hold the door for the next in line, smile at a stranger for no reason, pay for the person behind you in line because you can, doing a random act of kindness expecting nothing in return).

2. Keeping a balance in life (saving vs spending, eating healthy vs splurging on my favorite foods, keeping enough positive thoughts in my head to keep the negative self-talk at bay)

3. Having fun at everything you do (You only get one chance at life, don’t be held back by your fears.  It is your fear that keeps you from even knowing what you are missing.  Take a leap of faith)

4. Loving my family with every fiber of my being.  My family are “my people” .  The consists of blood and non-blood relatives.  Some by marriage, some by adoptions and some by many years of love laughter and tears that has made them mean more to me than any birth-right ever could.  These people in my inner circle of life keep me ground and still encourage me to keep my free spirit flying happily with the angels in the clouds.  I need them.

5. My faith in God.  I am a Christian Woman.  To me that is a very beautiful and bold statement and one that I am most proud of.  I have accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and have placed my eternal faith in him forever.  I have experienced many miracles big and small, in my life and have no doubt there is a power greater than myself at work lighting my path.  Without him there is no doubt in my mind I would not be here today. I am stubborn and hard headed and I some times need a giant blinking neon sign to fall on me to hear God’s word, but it is there everyday of my life.  All I need to do is be still and listen.

There are many other things in life I love and have passion for and want to share with the world, but the above 5 are the key ingredients to may life.  Now with that said, I want to tell you why these things are so important o mention.

As we start out in  life we fall down and get bumps and bruises on our knees.  Our moms and dad help us up and brush us off and send us back on our way hoping we learn from whatever caused the bump in the first place.  Maybe don’t run so fast on the wet grass, maybe don’t hit the brakes on our bikes as we try to jump the speed bump.  These are lessons we only need to learn once.  The scrape or bump hurts, but heals and we move on with no major scars.  But what about the bigger bumps and bruises.  The ones that happen to our hearts or egos.  Hope fully we are old enough and have a solid enough foundation to handle them as they come at us, but this isn’t always the case and then the scars form.  After time, scar tissue gets thicker and bigger until what’s underneath (our child-like heart and ego) is hidden and our true, genuine self seems to have dissipated.  The truth, it isn’t gone at all.  Just covered up by the jaded experiences of our lives and we have to learn how to uncover them in a healthy manner so that we to can be the strong mommy or daddy to help our next generation dust off and get back up when they fall.  It is a never ending circle.  In the beginning others are responsible for us, but along the way there is a shift and we become responsible for ourselves.  How was fall and how we get up, but also how we heal and move forward.

As I sit here today, an adult, a woman, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a niece, and a granddaughter; I think about the way I fall, the way I get up and how I move forward each day.  The 5 things I’m passionate about have become my foundation on which I choose to fall.  I run toward them, striving to help them grow stronger.  I fall back on them knowing they are there for me because I have nurtured them along the way, and I bask in the enjoyment of them when I just need a little time for myself to reset and regain my balance.

 

 

 

Find your tribe, love them hard

I am a huge fan of “Family” quotes.  I wanted to take a moment and share some with you.  To me, family is everything.  It is the foundation that built me, the love that has shaped me and the rock on which I can always fall back on.  Throughout my life I have watched my family evolve into what is the most precious thing I have to date.

  • Family – Where life begins and love never ends
  • The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing
  • Family – We may not have it all together, but we have it all
  • Family is not about blood, it is about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it the most
  • Family is family, whether it’s the one you start out with, the one you end up with, or the family you gain along the way.

I suggest you take a moment and draw your family tree.  You may be surprised to see the list of parents, cousins, nieces, nephews, etc. that are there.  If your family is small, try adding leaves to your tree that include your complete tribe.  Do you have a family friend that has been like a sister or aunt to you?  Do you have a best friend that has helped you raise your children?  They are all leaves on our trees.

When you get a moment, send a note to your tribe and let them know what they mean to you.  Here are my little notes:

To my parents: “Thank you for teaching me to eat with a fork, to wipe my own butt, to get up when I fell down and to laugh so hard my belly hurts.  Thank you for teaching me that this life is a beautiful gift and then telling me to go live it”

To my sons: “You may not have the same eyes or smile as me, but from the very first moment, you had my heart.”

To my grandchildren: “Trying to explain how much I love my Grandkids is like trying to count the stars”

To my cousins: “God made us all cousins because he knew our parents couldn’t handle us as siblings.”   Thank you for being my first playmates and now my greatest friends.

To my extended family: “Family is much more than a word – It’s a feeling of warmth and love that neither time nor distance can change.”  Thank you for always being on the other end of the phone, a text, or an e-mail.

To my husband: “You are my forever and always”.  God knew what he was doing when our paths crossed.  There is no one more patient, loving, understanding, strong, or crazy than you.

To my friends (Both near and far): “Friends go like waves on the ocean, but the true ones stay like an octopus on your face”  Hahahaha…  and this is why we are friends!

 

Digital memory books (AKA E-mail)

Have a child in your home or one you are responsible for or assist in raising?  Create a digital memory book for them.  You can do this at any time in your child’s life (as a newborn, school age, heading off to college or the military, or as they have children of their own).

Create an e-mail account for them.  (I suggest doing this with a service that is tried and true, dependable).  I am not supporting one outlet over the other, but I prefer g-mail becuase I’m pretty sure Google will be around for a while.

Don’t give them the password for this account until you are ready to share with them the contents.  The purpose of the e-mail is to provide them with bits of advice, stories about themselves or their heritage, and other funny things that happen throughout their lifetime.  Keep this e-mail address to yourself or share it with your family and friends.

Anytime you experience a situation where words of wisdom have helped you, send an e-mail to this new account.  Family recipes, photos, etc. are all great things to share.  So many times we wait until we are older to ask our parents for stories of our childhood or of our heritage.  There will come a day when we leave this world and leave our children behind, this is a great way to create a memory book of sorts for them that they can rely on for years to follow.

Have you personally lost a parent or close relative or friend and later wanted to give them a call to ask a question or are sure that if they were here they would know the solution to a situation?  Take this “digital memory book” and use it to alleviate the pain of not being able to call years down the road.

I have lost my grandparents and a few other friends and relatives.  I wish they were here now to share all of their wisdom and wit with me.  Take advantage of your resources in today’s age and pass on some history wrapped up in love and good intentions.  Your child will cherish it later in life.

SIDE NOTE: Share the password with them at a turning point in their life.  When there are no words at the moment, but so many thoughts have come and gone.  A child heading off to college, or preparing for their own child are perfect times.

 

Opinions: We all have them but nobody really wants them.

This morning I was listening to a talk show discussing opinions and judgement of others.  It reminded me of what my father has always told me… “Opinions are like bellybuttons, everybody has them.  They are also worth what you pay for them which is usually nothing.”  That has resonated with me my whole life and listening to the talk show this morning brought it back to the forefront of my mind.

So many times we ask for an opinion for a friend, colleague or family member.   When that happens, are we really asking for their genuine opinion or are we just asking them to agree with ours and possibly seeking praise?  Yes, there are absolutely times when we seek out a genuine opinion of a subject, I’m not saying this is an all or nothing discussion, but generally if I ask “how do I look” I do not want to hear, “You look like crap or that’s the ugliest outfit I’ve ever seen.”  This is the age old joke about the wife asking if a dress makes her look fat and the universal husband answer is “No”.  It doesn’t matter if the dress is ten times smaller than the wife, but there is no reason to be hurtful.  A smart husband will usually answer “Maybe a different color or pattern would work”.  The same opinion gets across, he doesn’t like the dress, but in a less hurtful way.

Not everyone will agree with this, but words can hurt and you can never take them back.  Physical wounds heal and a scar may remain, but you can never “un-experience” something and words can be heard differently than they were meant to be spoken.

I challenge you to pause before passing judgement and the same when offering an opinion.  Is it necessary?  Will your words or actions be hurtful and unable to be repaired?  Are you speaking out of anger? Jealousy? Resentment? or is your opinion heartfelt, and coming from a good place?  It is not our place to judge others, we may have an opinion of a persons actions or words but it is just that, our opinion.  Of course speak up when you see wrong being done.  Don’t sit back and let others get hurt, but question your motives and make sure your behavior is of a genuine nature.  The way we speak to our children, our spouses, our extended family and friends shows what type of people we are the character we have. How do you portray yourself and how do others view you?  Remember, our children are always watching, listening, learning and many times repeating our behavior including how we treat others and speak to them.

SIDE NOTE: It is my opinion that if a person is continuous in a behavior or mindset that you don’t approve of or wish to partake in, than leave the situation or detach from that person.  You only go have but one life to live, choose happiness and peace of mind.  My personal rule for things such as social media is a three strike rule.  If I have friends that post three negative comments in a row or comment three times about an issue sensitive to me, I unfriend or unfollow them.  That is not me saying “I don’t want your friendship”, it is me saying “I don’t want your opinion” so I choose to not read about it.  It is anyone’s right to post their opinions ans feelings, we do not have to agree but we also do not have to participate.  Surround yourself with positive attitudes and positive people whenever possible.

Love yourself, love others, and have a happy day.

You are responsible for your own happiness

I learned a long time ago that no one can MAKE you happy or MAKE you sad.  You in fact are responsibly for your own happiness and the way you feel.  Now, don’t get up in arms so quickly, finish reading with an open mind before you come up with a hundred scenarios to try and prove this statement false.  Yes, there are many, many many situations that are very very sad, even tragic.  And there are many many situations that are so filled with joy is can bring tears to our eyes almost uncontrollably.  Now I ask you, do these feelings last?  Do they last five minutes? Five days? Five years?  Because if they do, than maybe I’m wrong, maybe these are the things that make us happy and sad.

What I mean when I say we are responsible for our own happiness is just that.  I allow what others say and do to affect me negatively or positively.  Take the birth of a child.  If my friend has a baby, I may be filled with joy for their new arrival.  I may be filled with jealousy over wanting a little bundle of joy.  I may be filled with concern over their ability to care for the child, or for the child’s well-being in general should there be an issue.  None of these are brought on by the mother or the children they are all in my head and in my heart and I choose to feel them and think them.

Recently I lost a friend due to alcoholism, liver failure to be exact.  I chose to not be filled with sorrow though I was very sad.  I choose to embrace his memory and his struggle and use it as an example of what alcohol can do.  Share his story and move forward.  I think I would have a good reason to be very sad for a good length of time considering the back story on my particular friend and the situation,  but again…. I am responsible for my feelings and my thoughts.  This is my choice.

When I was a child and was angry or upset, my parents would ask me how long I intended to be angry.  At first I thought it was strange, but then it became normal behavior.  If I responded with twenty minutes, than for twenty minutes, they would leave me alone and let me sulk and be very very angry with them.  However, at the end of the twenty minutes, they would come to me and let me know my time was up.  It was time to change my outlook on the situation.  Now there were situations as I grew older that required full days or even several days of anger or sadness, but just the same, at the conclusion of my time frame, my parents would come back to me and check to see that my frame of mind had adjusted and let me know it was me responsible for my happiness and it was time to find that within me once again.

I watched a video this morning on this very topic.  It spoke of being responsible for your own happiness within a relationship (marriage specifically).  If you are not happy within and responsible for your own happiness, than you come to the partnership with an empty cup, constantly rattling it begging for someone else to fill your cup for you.  If you both come to the table that way, it is destined to fail.  If one of you comes to the table that way, it is destined to fail.

A partnership is defined as a relationship resembling a legal partnership and usually involving close cooperation between parties having specified and joint rights and responsibilities.  Notice the words “joint rights and responsibilities“.  JOINT.  Not part, not sum, not half-way.

Come to the table with your own joy from within.  Throughout your marriage there will be many peaks and valleys.  Sometimes you will pull 50% of the line and sometimes 70%, even 90%.  Just remember, there are days when your partner will be pulling the same amount when you are in a valley.  If you are responsible for your own feelings, it will make towing the line int he relationship so much easier.  As thought there is no anchor weighing you both down.

I hope you find your happiness within and enjoy your journey through life.  As always, have a happy day!

Feeling fluffy and finding my way

So I just have to share a little about self-esteem today.  I have struggled with this a lot in the past year.  Probably more so than I ever have in my life.  About a year ago I got super sick out of the blue and was very scared and unsure of what was to come.  I lost a lot of weight as a result.  Though I’ve never been a very large woman, I started to look like Skelator with a bobble head and it was very scary.  My friends and family were noticing and getting super concerned as well.  I have since made a full recovery and have gone in the opposite direction and am now feeling a little fluffy.  Still not a very large woman, but bigger than I would like to be.  Then again, I think this could be the complaint of any woman on any given day.  Now, I am not looking for diet advice or a compliment here.  Trust me, that is the furthest thing from my mind.  What I am trying to do these days is find a happy medium in my mind.  It truly bothers me when anyone makes any comment good or bad about my looks or my weight.  It always has.

I am curvy.  I am not small.  I am not large.  In my husbands eyes, I am beautiful and this is really all that matters.  But I want to see beautiful when I look in the mirror too.  I see other woman who are bigger than me and smaller than me and I am secretly jealous of not their beauty, but of their confidence.  I want to be as confident of a large woman who holds her head high and knows she is just as beautiful as a small chested very petite woman.  Self-confidence starts at a young age.  It is built up and broken down.  I’m not really sure where mine went off track, but in the past year of my body shape drastically changing, coupled with many years of drastic changes due to decisions of my own… my self-esteem was the first thing to suffer.

Here I am trying to re-build it.  I have tried and am trying all the fad diets, the trendy outfits, the make-up and more.  As I think of it, it is truly an inside job.  I have to accept me for me and love me.  I have a beautiful life.  A wonderful husband.  Two wonderful sons who I am beyond blessed to have, grandchildren, a sister, amazing parents, and friends.  (Notice I didn’t mention the “stuff”)  Sure, I have “Stuff”, but it’s the people in my life who make me smile and fill my heart.  The stuff keeps me comfortable, but I can’t take that with me,  The memories I make every day with the people I love is what matters.

I have no idea if anyone out there feels that same way.  Confused and struggling with their self-image, but all the while knowing they have a pretty damn good life and happiness is right there.  The smile is waiting for me in the mirror if I just give myself a chance and cut myself a break.  I guess I just needed a reminder.  A daily reminder to keep smiling at myself in addition to the stranger on the street.

I hope you are having a happy day.

Losing your place in line

Do you ever feel just a little bit lost?  Like you know you belong but you still feel out of place?  Like you’ve been standing in line for a long time and for some reason lost your place and now you are standing outside of a crown looking in?  This has been me lately.  I’ve always shared pretty candid blogs and mostly very upbeat, but today, I’m tired.  I feel like I’ve been trying to keep up for a long time and I’m simply running on a hamster wheel.  Like I have a voice that cannot be heard for some reason and now it feels like I’m drowning.

LOL, Wow, that is a lot of metaphors.  Please don’t misunderstand, my life is wonderful and I’m generally very happy but from time to time I think we all get just a little stuck.  We start to feel maybe a little numb inside where we are sure there should be joy and happiness.  My question to you is what do you do to get out of it?  As I was waking up this morning and to be honest, fighting back tears and the desire to stay in bed under the covers, I watched my husband as he opened the blinds this morning.  This may not sound like a lot, but it truly made my heart smile at the perfect moment.   He isn’t usually the one to open the blinds and let the sunshine in.  He sleeps during the day and works at night.  But this morning, I know he did it to make me smile and feel better.  I am pretty sure I fell in love with him all over again just for that one little act of kindness.

As I watched him, I realized that it is up to me to participate in life.  He open the blinds and it was like a hand up in the right direction.  Now it is time for me to do something to get off the pity-pot.  And to be honest, I’m not even sure what has made me sad.

I may be blue and feeling a little lost lately, but as I got ready for work and drove, I realized how lucky I am to have someone who can see me.  Really see me.  Just when I feel invisible and a bit run-over, he opens the blinds just because I love the sunshine and he knows that.  He sat with me on the back porch and talked about little silly things with me and he hugged me.  It’s times like those that make me realize, I’m not lost… just a little down and there is always a way back.  The people in our lives matter.  Family and friends (no matter how many or how few) matter.  I thought about people n my past.  Relationships, friends, and others who aren’t here anymore or for some reason our lives have gone in different directions.  I am grateful for exactly how things worked out.  My dad used to tell me the most beautiful roses grow through sh*t and come out better than ever.  I think of that often and it reminds me to be so grateful for the path I have walked and reminds me to be very happy with the shoes on my feet rather than want to be in someone else’s.  My path made me the quirky, weird, slightly off woman I am today.  Any other path would have not made me… me.

I know it sounds cliché, but so many times a hug really does fix so much.  A smile, a laugh, or just a text to say hello can mean someone is thinking of you when you feel like the world is passing you by faster than you can keep up with.  I am a pretty spiritual woman and I believe in God.  At my darkest moments, I’m sure I was not alone then either.  I am sure that the people who are gone are meant to be and the people who are right here, are here for a reason.  It is up to us to embrace the little tiny moments and take the hand-up.  If we don’t, than it is our fault we remain on the pity-pot and we will end up sitting there alone.  So if you are there as I am (and have been), it’s time to take whatever smile is tossed your way and grab hold of that joy.

So today, have a happy day.  Realize that even if you are feeling a little blue or down, your smile can change someone’s day and theirs can change yours.  Today, I will smile at a stranger and hope they know “I see them, and they are important”.

Keep positivity in your life, let negativity pass you by

As I was driving into work this morning I was listening to a radio show that was right on target with exactly what I believe.  They were discussing negativity as it relates to social media and in life in general.  The example given by the radio host was this: “If you post a picture of a slice of pizza, comments back should pertain to the slice of pizza.  How can there be much negativity surrounding the pizza?”  Potentially, there may not be fans of the topping flavors and that is acceptable banter between friends of course, but this is not a platform for a political ambush. Would you agree?  Well, I do!

A long time ago a good friend offered me a bit of advice.  Surround yourself with positivity and let the negativity pass you by.  Step aside and let it go whenever you can.  Negativity is everywhere and it is so much easier for us all to go so quickly to the darker side of things so take a moment anytime you can, to find the silver linings in all of life’s little situations.  Your life will be better for it.  I’ve started doing this years ago.  I personally have battled levels of depression at times in my life for various reasons and this advice has truly helped me battle through.  Obviously I subscribe to many platforms of social media and I have a hard and fast rule for all of my connections; If you post three negative things back to back, I will disconnect from you.  This does not mean I don’t want to associate with you.  It doesn’t mean I don’t like you.  It means that when reading my social media feeds, I prefer them to be positive.  Constant negativity is not what I choose to allow to filter through.  Once or twice is understandable and I want to share in the lives of my friends, but continuous complaining or bashing is a no go for me.

Think about it.  When you turn on the news, read the paper, even drive down the road and read signs… is the news 80% happy?  70% happy? even 60% happy?  If the answer is no, then all of this negative information is being inserted into your brain and into your heart for you to filter through and process.  I’m not saying we should block out the news of the world and live sheltered lives where there are only unicorns and rainbows.  I am saying that it is up to us to see the wild flowers growing in the median and notice their beauty.  It is up to us, to see the ducks and their babies floating in the retention pond and maybe stop to feed them once in a while on a lunch break.  Enjoy the beauty and the world around us. Giggle out loud when we see something funny.  Take a moment and think about yourself.  Do you walk around with a smile on your face generally or do you frown?  This is how the world sees you.  Have you ever thought of that?  This is how your children see you as they glance across the room.  Are you a general happy person?  Or have you allowed too much negativity to turn your child-like smile to a more permanent frown?

I will admit, I am a hippie at heart and if I could fill everyone’s day with a happy thought, start everyone’s day with a smile and a hug I absolutely would.  But I can’t.  It is up to each of us to remember to hold the door for a stranger, smile at the cashier, say please and thank you, but most importantly, care for our own precious souls and ensure they are positive ones, always.  Please remember if you have little children, they are watching you always and they see you when you don’t think they are looking.  Even as they get older, they are still watching you and learning from you.  Please be a positive, happy role model for our future and keep the positivity flowing.

As always, have a happy day.

When water is thicker than blood

Many times I have heard the saying blood is thicker than water when it comes to family matters but I have found that this is not always true.  If you have had the pleasure, the HONOR, of living in a blended family than you know that water can be thicker than blood.  Let me give you some beautiful examples from my own experience.

Let’s start with my parents.  Both of my parents re-married when I was young and I was blessed with two step-parents who love me as their own.   My step-mom is my first example.  From the word go, she has treated me as her very own daughter and never waivered.  I have tested her love, tried her patience, and even tried to drive a wedge into her marriage to my father simply because I was a punk kid at times.  (Even into my twenties).  I made some rough choices and she stood by my side, encouraged me, lifted me up and helped dust me off when I fell.  She is one tough lady but has always been there standing next to me and even behind me letting me shine as I found my own light as an adult.  Just as my own biological parents have done.

Next there is my step-father.  This is another example of unconditional love.  He and I have a different relationship than he does with my other siblings.  Though he loves us all very much, he and I have a special bond that I value very much.  This bond is a result of choices I made in my twenties that changed my life and the lives of my family. (I will go into this in a separate blog someday down the road, but trust me, bad choices bring out major changes).  My parents, all four of them stepped in to help me at varying degrees and this opened up many channels of communication that I never thought possible.  It was when I was at my lowest point that I found the most love and tolerance.  I thought I had pushed all of my family to the breaking point, but this couldn’t have been further from the truth.  My parents and my step-parents have taught me what real unconditional love is for a child and for another human being.  For that, I am eternally grateful.

This brings us to the present.  I am now married and a step parent to two wonderful grown men.  They of course don’t need a mommy or by any means even a mother, but here I  am and they are stuck with me.  I say that jokingly.  I love these two men as if they were my very own all along.  I now know how my step-parents felt and feel.  I worry about these guys constantly and want the best for them always.  It’s crazy!  They have children of their own and I am beyond blessed to be their “grandma”.  Words cannot describe the feeling I get when the family I married into comes together.  Some live close by and some are out of state, but I assure you they are all as close to me and as important to me as my sister, my niece and nephew, and my own parents.

Each of my sons participates in a blended family as well and I am so proud of the kind of men they are.  They are great husbands / boyfriends and amazing fathers.  Raised by an amazing man, my husband.  Though I didn’t have any part in raising them, I am still just as proud of them as ever.  My cup runneth over!  For the longest time as a child I took my step- parents for granted.  I was so very wrong.  They chose to marry my parents, they chose to be a part of my up-bringing and they choose to still be a part of my everyday life and for that I am so eternally grateful and blessed.  I too choose to be a part of my sons lives and I am so blessed that at this stage in their lives they let me.  As adults they have the opportunity to accept me into their lives, their homes and their new families.

Throughout my life, one of the greatest lessons I have learned is that your family is what and who you make it.  It consists of blood relatives, people you marry and friends that are just as important or even more important than family.  Family can be close in proximity or live far away.  You can talk every day or once a month or once a year, but they are still there for you, supporting you, loving you, and in your corner when you need them and you are there for them as well.

When I play those silly games wondering what would you want with you if you were stranded on an island, my answer is always my family.  I can  make it through anything anywhere with them by my side.

My wish for you, my friends, is that you love your family / friends as much as I do.  That you have the opportunity to make amends if they are needed and that you embrace life and love more than “stuff”.  At then end of the day you “can’t take it with you”.  After all…

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away.”

As always, have a happy day.

Speaking without words – love

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without the words “I love you” or “I’m sorry”?  Without being able to say “I’ll fix it” or “I’ll make it up to you”?  Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if we all “spoke” without ever saying a word.  No sign language, because after all, those are still words.  But actually not using those phrases or anything similar to those at all?  Here it comes my friends, another challenge!  Valentine’s day is right around the corner. New Year’s has come and gone, and I suspect some of us may have already fallen short on a few resolutions.  So here is my February Challenge for everyone.  Try speaking without words.  You read that right!

I’m asking you to try to learn all of the different languages of love that are out there.  Try “doing” instead of “saying”.  Is it a smile instead of a frown?  Is it a gesture of making the bed or actually hanging up the towel or folding the laundry that catches your partner’s eye and lets them know you heard them?  Is it showing up maybe five minute early to pick up your child so you can see their face light up that you took time out to put them first instead of being the last to pick them up?  (It does make a difference.)  Is it remembering what a favorite meal is for breakfast or adding a note in a lunch box or writing a note in the mirror from the steam of the shower?  The point is to slow down and not make excuses or high five in the hallway this month with the traditional kiss goodnight and “I love you”.  Please try to figure out what makes your friend and family feel special or make them feel like you heard them and DO THOSE THINGS.  I promise, it comes back ten fold in happiness on all levels.

I will give you a hint (and a glimpse into my life).   Even setting up the coffee in the morning for your spouse so they just have to turn on the machine goes a long way.  My husband does this for me and every morning it starts my day with a huge smile because I know in his morning rush, he took a few minutes to think of me when he didn’t have to.  He measures out the cream and sugar and puts the K-cup inside the Keurig so that all I have to do is press the button.  He even puts the spoon inside the cup to remind me to stir.  Every single morning, he manages to melt my heart without saying a word.

I hope this challenge pays off for you and everyone you try it with.  As always my friends, have a happy day!

 

Everyone is someone’s valentine, don’t forget to spread the love

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and love is in the air everywhere I turn!  It makes my heart smile so big this time of year.  Valentine’s Day isn’t just for new love or celebrating old love.  It is also for celebrating friendships and family.    This Valentine’s Day, remember to do something for those extended friendships or family members that deserve to know how much they mean to you just as much as your husband, wife, or significant other. 

This is one of my favorite times of year.  It gives us all the ability to re-enact the “Secret Santa” idea and leave secret notes to brighten a day.  If you have the means, send flowers to your best friend.  Leave a little love-note for your child in their lunchbox from time to time through the days surrounding Valentine’s Day (or all year for that matter).  Make pancakes or eggs in the shape of a heart for breakfast.  (NOTE: Use a metal heart-shaped cookie cutter as a mold when you break the eggs into the pan or when you drop pancake batter into the pan.)  Why not have breakfast for dinner and change things up just to add a pinch of spontaneity to your day. 

Make this day, weeks and month fun for everyone.  Try a scavenger hunt through your home for your loved one or for your children with a treat or gift at the end.  Send a card or note in the mail to your parents reminding them how much they mean to you.  Spreading love with make your heart feel warm and fuzzy inside and knowing you’ve brightened someone’s day is the cherry on top. 

My wish for you as Valentine’s Day approaches is to think outside of the box.  This is always my challenge for you.  Get creative, get generous, get crafty, and get sentimental.  Don’t forget those less fortunate.  Money isn’t always the answer.  Sometimes holding a door or offering a hand goes so much further  What a better time to spread the love than now?

Lastly, remember to love yourself on Valentine’s Day.  Dress a bit nicer.  Be sure to do your hair and/or make-up and give yourself a little extra smile in the mirror.  After all, if we don’t love ourselves, no amount of love from anyone else will ever measure up.  I was once told that you can’t take “pretty” with you unless you have it on the inside.  A compliment is wonderful and always welcomed, but get up, get dressed and look at the person in the mirror.  Tell that person you love them and they are worth it. 

As always, have a happy day!

Happy New Year!

I always get super sentimental this time of year… Goodbye 2017, hello 2018. Lessons learned. Friends made. Loved ones lost. Memories made. Here is my list (I do love a good list) of lessons/thoughts/memories/ I will keep close to my heart.

1. Always keep it simple and when all else fail go back to what you know… Back to the basics. It will always help you find your way to the right side of the road.

2.  Put a little of yourself and everything you do and the details really do matter.

3.  When seeking the opinions of others be sure to seek the correct ones. Don’t ask a professional ballerina how to fix a car just because she is your best friend. Everyone has a gift but not everyone has every gift. And remember that everyone will have an opinion, you don’t necessarily need it.

4.  Find the best in everyone. We all have bad days. I know I have and will. Love people despite your differences.

5.  Try new things. Even if it means trying food that touches!  You might just like it. You only get one shot at this life. Make it count.

6.  Smile often. It’s contagious. (But be careful, apparently so is the flu). Just the same, give hugs to your friends and family. You might just make their day.

Happy New Year to all of my friends and family. I Love You for being a part of my very strange beautiful roller coaster ride of a life. Thank you for loving my silly gypsy spirit.  As always, Have a Happy Day!

What quirks make you… you?

Some would say I am a creature of habit and others would say I am a wild unicorn with a gypsy soul, leaving a trail of glitter wherever I go.  Is beauty in the eye of the beholder or is it your the time of day you catch me?  I will admit there are not too many thing I do on an extremely regular basis and I find it incredibly difficult to pick up good habits (bad habits are a completely different blog all together, and thankfully, a different time in  my life).  However, there are a few things I am know to do and my day is a miss when these things are out of sync.  Ever stop and think about the silly little idiosyncrasies of your life and how if you don’t do them regularly you just feel all out of whack?

I will share of few of mine with you in hopes that you can feel a bit more normal. (And I will assume there are readers out there nodding their heads saying, oh yes I do that to, so I too shall feel a little less out of place).  Here we go…

  1. I must make my bed everyday. (Today, by the way, I did not and it’s making me nuts)  I love to have my bed made and when I am running, so late that I don’t make it, I come home at the end of the day and make it anyway.  I truly enjoy climbing into a freshly made bed.  I love having the sheets folded back like my own turn down service.
  2. Speaking of bedtime, I always sleep under the covers and I prefer a comforter to a quilt so if it is super cold, I will just pile blankets on top of my fluffy comforter rather than exchange the comforter for a heavy quilt.  Also, if it is hot, I will turn the AC to super cold just to I can feel nice and cuddly at night.
  3. I drive the same way to an from a destination.  Once I go somewhere once, that is how I know to get there and I cannot deter from those directions or I get lost.  don’t get me wrong, I love to go on driving adventures and do very frequently.  However, as I drive to work, my kids house, my husbands work, etc. I can only go one way or I am completely lost.  Additionally, I get very frustrated at the suggestion of a new way to travel.
  4. Whenever I take a road trip, I must have the proper road trip snacks.  These consist of a Fountain Soda and something sweet (usually skittles) and something salty (usually Pizza pretzel Combos).  And a road trip can be any drive longer than two hours.

These are just a few of my always, no matter what, absolute never changing things I do.  I would love to hear some of yours.  I love my little quirks and I have plenty more that I’m sure I will share along the way.  I hope these made you smile a bit today.  As always, have a happy day.

The Hustle and Bustle

Its that time of year where no matter how hard we try it seems that we can’t slow down the clock and there seems to be more on our “to-do” list than there is time in the day.  It’s crazy how that happens year after year.  I have to share a few phone calls with you that made me just sit back and smile and reminded me that the world will go around no matter what I do and that is really just fine with me.

I spoke to my mother the other day.  She started a business a few years back and this is her busy time of year.  She has yet to put her tree up or trim her house in holiday decorations and I was surprised to hear this.  Her answer was that it will get done next weekend and she didn’t seem that rushed to do it.  It will get done before the holiday and before the family gets there.  That was what mattered.  It made me smile.  Now, I know she loves her decorations and I know she loves her morning coffee in front of the lights, but she reminded me without even knowing it, that everything will get done in due time.  I needed that reminder so very badly.

Around the same time frame, I spoke with my step-mom who had been ill for a few days.  She and my father have company coming for the holidays. Though the company won’t be staying in their home, they will be in and out and they want their home decorated for the holiday.  Due to not feeling well she said she felt like things just wouldn’t get finished in time.  My father and she looked around the house and decided that what was decorated would be great and  once the boxes were put away, what was set-up would be perfect.  Again, another reminder that we get what need to get done in perfect timing.  Another reminder for myself was that sometimes we set the bar higher for ourselves than others do and our friends and families love us just the way we are.

Ironically, for the first time since I can remember, I have my tree up and gifts wrapped and am not stressing over the holidays.  My biggest concern is making sure I am setting traditions and keeping traditions with my family.  I have a goal this season of making the most of the little things and finding the good in the smallest things. Its funny, with parents like mine, ever reminding me that life will go on and not to sweat the small stuff, I have learned to calm down and get the things that really do matter to me done and let the rest fall to the wayside.  I may not have the finest things in the world, but I sure do have the greatest family a girl can ask for.  They are crazy, silly, and full of quirks in all the ways you can think of, but I would not trade one of them for all the gold in the world.  I sure do hope you feel the same about your family.  Large or small, friends and family are the greatest gifts by far.  You can’t take it with you in the end so enjoy the life you are given and make the most of each beautiful day.  As always, have a happy day.

 

Holiday Cheer Challenge

Winter is here, Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas (or Hanukah or Kwanza) is at the forefront of every mind right about now.  But why do we celebrate these Holidays?  I can’t speak for Hanukah or Kwanza as I am truly not that knowledgeable on either, but I can speak about Christmas.  This is a season of giving and family.   Whether you are a religious or spiritual person or not, this description pretty much fits the bill.  For those a bit more spiritual, it is a time of celebration and reflection.  A time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  No, I’m not going to get super religious in this blog, not to worry.  I simply want to point out that however you celebrate and for whatever reason, a general basis world wide is that this season is about family, giving, sharing, and love.  (Insert the holiday song Peach on Earth…  in fact, turn on your Christmas music!)

I would like to generate a Holiday Cheer Challenge.  For the rest of the month, I challenge myself and all of you reading this blog, to promote Holiday Cheer each day for the rest of the month.  I am a huge fan of making every day a happy day and sharing your happiness with the world.  By doing a Random Act of Kindness, being a secret Santa, making a conscious effort to pay it forward daily, I am positive you will find that your heart grows daily and by helping others, you will be filled with a little more peace and happiness in your soul.

Take a moment and think of a few ways you can do this:

  1. Random Acts of Kindness (these are always fun and usually super easy when you extend the olive branch to help a stranger)
  2. Become a Secret Santa.  This is fun to do in your home with your family or even extended family or ignite the tradition in your workplace.
  3. Pay it forward.  Surprise the car behind you in the drive–thru line by paying for their lunch or cup of coffee.
  4. Get involved in your community.  Commit to volunteering for one or more charitable organizations this month.  There are so many opportunities for adult, kids or the whole family together to help organizations or participate in community events this holiday season.
  5. Be a greeter for a while.  This may sound strange, but try standing at your local store this month for about 10 minutes and just hold the door for guests coming in and out.  Wish them a happy holiday season and brighten their day.  It may sound strange, but how many times has a door been held for you when your arms are full of shopping bags and it really made you grateful for the help?
  6. Spend more time with your family (near and far).  Turn the television off, jump n the car and go look at Christmas lights.  Visit a local church to hear a living Christmas Tree.  (If you have never heard or seen one, they are breathtaking.)  Keep that television off and play a board game.  Write a note to a friend or family member each day wishing them a beautiful holiday season and new year.  (Sending out holiday cards is always a great time and reason to send a little hug in the mail).

There are countless ways to spread a little happiness and if we all did this for just this month, the world will be a little bit brighter and less stressful for all of us.  Who knows, it may become a tradition in your family or a habit you keep all year long.  This may sound trivial to some of you, but by taking a moment to stop and think of others daily, you will find a little renewed pep in your step.  (The trick is to do these tasks without expecting anything in return, truly share and give of yourself).

I hope everyone one is jumping into the Holliday this year with both feet.  In my humble opinion, there is no greater time to get into the habit of sharing and caring for others more than right now.  Wishing you all a beautiful and blessed holiday season and as always, have a happy day.

Turn your gratitude into your goals… even better, a bucket list.

I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m thankful for and watching my friends and family lately.  Talking to them on the phone. Learning about their lives as time rolls on and finding out what is important to them.  It’s made me think about what is important to me and has me thinking about my goals for the future.  The New Year will soon be upon us and, as we all typically do, a list will get made of resolutions. As quickly as it’s made, it is forgotten.  I propose a challenge for us all, to do something different this year.  Let’s turn our gratitude list into our goal list.  Let’s create a bucket list for one year only.

This may sound sort of strange at first and I haven’t carved the whole thing out yet but let me start by sharing a little story with you.  A few years back my sister and I asked our mother to create her bucket list.  Her response was of course, “Girls, I’m not dying!  I’m not even sick!”  We laughed and agreed.  Our mother couldn’t be in better health.  In fact she will probably out live all of us.  We corrected her and pointed out that the fun part of a bucket list is doing the things you’ve always wanted to do while you can actually do them, NOT when you are past your prime and wish you had the strength or energy.  She thought about it and at first her list was small.  We went to a painting class, then a hockey game.  Her list grew as the ideas came to her of things she had never done but wanted to do or sounded like fun to try.  My sister and I have had so much fun helping our mom to tick things off her bucket list one by one and her list has grown just as quickly as we knock items off.  That is the fun of it, never finding the bottom, but always finding new adventures together.  We have since gone to her first concert, gone zip-lining, taken a Segway tour around a quaint town we had never visited before.  Just this past summer we were able to enjoy a cruise to Mexico with our mom.  It was the first time our mom had ever been on a cruise and she loved it.  The best part; it was just the three of us, my mother, my sister and myself.  It had been so long since the three of us had taken a trip that I’m not sure if it was the destination, the method of the destination or the company that made the trip absolutely perfect and a memory for a lifetime.  The point of this short story about my mom is that by asking her to make a bucket list, my sister and I have been able to share experiences with her that we never knew she had wanted.  These experiences are now beautiful memories for us all.  Now, each time I miss my mom I send her a note and ask what our next adventure will be.  For Christmas, my sister and I get a hand-made gift certificate from her good for one day to do whatever we want, a date with our mom.  That may sound trivial, but in a large family whom all have very busy lives and live across several cities, this is one of the most beautiful gifts I get each year and I look forward to it each year.

Circling back to the point of this blog if I haven’t lost you yet, I would like to take this time to think of all the things we are grateful for.  If you have small children in your life I’m sure they are bringing home crafts from school with little turkeys and feathers indicating all they are grateful for.  If you have older ones, take your next meal and make this a topic of discussion.  Learn about each other.  From there take a few days to think about it and begin to think how you can take what your family is grateful for and turn that list into a bucket list for next year.  If your family is grateful for “family” than take a family trip or maybe one day trip a month to somewhere new; A trip on a tankful.  If your little one is grateful for breakfast (there are always funny things they are grateful for), thank take that to heart and have your little one cook breakfast once a month on a weekend or maybe go out to breakfast once a month to a new restaurant or a special place.  The point is to turn your gratitude list into goals or a bucket list for the next year and embrace what your family feels is important.  Have fun with it and include them in the decisions for your list.

The experiences my sister and I have had with our mom have been priceless and each year we learn more about her; what her likes and dislikes are, what her dreams are and what she is looking forward to.  It was not until I was older that I have learned to appreciate these qualities in another person. They are what make up their whole person and what make them special.  Take time as you are learning about what your family and friends are grateful for this season to step back and really see what makes them special.  What are their wants, their fears, theirs hopes and dreams?  Can you help them accomplish them and in turn be a part of their memories and them be a part of yours?  Enjoy this beautiful season and enjoy your family and friends.  As always, have a happy day.

An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s November and this is typically the time of year when we all take more time than usual, or possibly stop for the first time all year, and begin to list the things we are grateful for.  Thanksgiving brings that warm loving feeling out in a lot of us and reminds us of the importance of family, friends, and quality time.  Here are a few challenges for yourself, your family and friends this fall season.  I challenge you to try one or all of them, bringing an “attitude of gratitude” into your home and possibly having it last beyond the holiday season.

  1. A daily gratitude list – Each day write down one thing you are grateful for. Put it on a small piece of paper and drop it into a mason jar.  On Thanksgiving Day, take time for each person to pull out their papers and share with family and friends what they are grateful for.  To expand on this idea, make it one jar per family and write your name / date on each note (so you remember who wrote it and when).  These can be one word notes or maybe a small message.  It will be a great way to start your Thanksgiving Holiday as well as start each day with an Attitude of Gratitude.  To keep this fun tradition going past the holidays, set dates for family gratitude dinners.  (Christmas Eve, New Years, Day, the first of each month, maybe every Sunday Night).  It can be a great way to keep a grateful heart and a great way to keep your family close. You might be surprised to find that one moment you took from your day, really touched a family member enough to make it on their gratitude list.  Now that is a full circle of happiness!
  2. A daily or weekly Random Act of Kindness – These can be a lot of fun and really make your heart smile! Do something for someone else that is unexpected and unsolicited with no expectation of a return gesture.  Some ideas that are fun can be paying for the car behind you in a drive thru line at a fast food place or coffee house.  Leave a kind note randomly on a parked car in the mall on a busy shopping day to simply wish a stranger a great day.  Stop and speak to a cashier or retail associate, look them in the eye, and ask how their day is going.  Thank them for working today.  If you have ever had a retail job during the holidays, than I’m sure you know that a person taking a moment to be nice goes a long way.  NOTE: This is also a great opportunity to set an example for the little ones shopping with us.  They learn by what they see and if your manners are great, it will rub off on them so remember please and thank-you as well.  There are so many ways to leave a smile, help another, the possibilities are endless, and this is a great way to use your imagination and do these things as an individual or make a greater team effort as a family.
  3. Contribute to a charitable organization or participate in a charitable event – Contributions come in many forms other than money. Two that come to mind are time and effort.  Volunteer for a local event, participate in the planning process, or maybe stay after to help clean-up along with participating.  This is a great way to help important causes in your community, get to know your neighbors, and work together as a family.  It feels good to give back.  Soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers, as are pet shelters.  Another great way to contribute (and get ready for Christmas) is to clean out your closets and toy boxes.  So many toys and clothes go unused / unworn and eventually get tossed out with the trash.  Make it a habit to help your children donate the items they are no longer using or have outgrown.

These are just a few ideas of how to have an attitude of gratitude and to help keep it past the holiday season.  I hope you and your family are enjoying the cooler weather and as always, I have a happy day!

Send a hand-written note

When was the last time you received a hand-written note in the mail.  Whether it be a thank you note, a birthday card, or even a letter from an old friend; do you remember the feeling you had when you checked the mail and saw the envelope?  Did you get a sudden warm-fuzzy feeling as though someone literally hugged you through the mail?

Long ago there was no e-mail, heck there was no internet.  There was no text-messaging or face-time either.  The world was a simpler place, and it seems a lot less busy.  As time has passed by so quickly, the art of a hand-written note seems to be a thing of the past.  Don’t let this happen.  Be the one to send the note.  You!  Yes you!

If you know what it has felt like to be an excited kid getting a card from Grandma or a twenty-something young adult receiving a care package in college, then as an adult wouldn’t it be great to carry on this tradition?    You have the ability to hug someone or put a smile on someone’s face who truly isn’t expecting it.  The beautiful thing about the old fashioned U.S. Postal system is that when you put your letter in the mail, there is NO instant gratification other than your personal knowledge of doing a nice thing.  This simple act shows that you took time out of your day to think about the receiver of your note.  (insert the warm-fuzzy feeling).  Your message can be short and simple or long and heart-felt.  It’s absolutely the thought and time you put into it that counts.  And I must confess, I have kept many of the hand-written cards and notes I’ve received over the years.  I can probably bet you have kept a few yourself.  By sending your note to a loved one or friend, you too will become a kept memory to reflect back on and smile.  Face-time and text messages can’t exactly do this, now can they?

Tip of the day…  the next time you pass a dollar store, pick up a few cards and keep them around the house.  (Even pick up some stationary if you like from your local card store.)  Also, keep some postage in your home office as well.  From time to time, take a moment and send someone special a note in the mail.  If they live around the corner or across the country, getting a piece of mail that is personal and NOT A BILL is a refreshing moment in anyone’s day.

Second tip…. If you are travelling somewhere and you happen to be without your loved ones or significant other, send them a postcard from wherever you have travelled to (while you are in the midst of your travels).  Even if you are gone a few days, it is a great way to show them they have been on your mind even as you are away.  I actually sent my husband a postcard when we first started dating while I was on vacation in Kay Largo, FL just to let him know I was thinking of him.  He still has that postcard today.  It makes both of us smile when we run across it in the house.

My friends, take a moment to send some love in the mail, share a kind thought and as always… have a happy day.

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