Change your mood by adding some color

Did you know colors could affect your moods, feelings and behavior?  There have been many studies done on how exactly colors can affect us and of course, you must take into account your personal culture and experiences.  There is a great article found on www.verywell.com about this very subject where the psychological effects of color are examined.

To keep it simple, think of your own life situations.  Does the color blue make you think of calm and cool things?  Does the color red trigger a sense of urgency or excitement?  Have you heard the saying “Green with Envy”?  Either try adding colors into your décor at home or work to adjust your moods.  This little “life hack” can also be used in the business world for marketing purposes.

How do people respond to different colors? Take a look at the list of colors below and possible effects and reactions:

Black: Used in fashion as a slimming quality and with formal wear.  Is associated with death or mourning.  It is associated with villains and evil characters in films.

White: Many people associate white with purity or innocence.  Bride wear white as do small children for religious ceremonies.  It is also associated with being sterile, clean, and adding space.

Red: Red evokes a lot of emotion.  It is associated with love, power, anger, and intensity.  In fashion, it is usually a bold statement of confidence and self-acceptance.

Blue: In general, blue provides a calm serene feeling.  It can even make you feel a cooler temperature at times when used in décor.  It also represents sadness as an emotion.

Green: Green symbolizes nature and health.  IT also symbolizes luck, money and jealousy.  It is thought to relieve stress, be a sign of fertility and growth.

Yellow: This color is bright, cheery and warm but can be the most exhausting due to its brilliance of color.  Yellow can increase metabolism as it increases your energy level but can also increase your frustration levels.  It is a very attention grabbing color.

Purple: A sign of wealth and royalty due to it being hard to find in natural settings and frequently requiring dyes and a great deal of effort to obtain the color.  This color is often perceived as mysterious and even spiritual.

Brown: Brown is a sign of strength, reliability, security, and safety.  Brown can bring to mind conventional and natural dispositions.

 

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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!

 

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.

Easter isn’t just for the little ones… it is a family affair!

Don’t let the fun of Easter fade just because your little ones are growing up.  This season try a new twist on the Easter holiday if you have slightly older kids in your home.  If you are planning an Easter dinner, you are of course going to spend a little on grocery shopping and that will take time.  or maybe you are planning on eating out as a family.   Well, I propose a little something different.  Take that cash you will spend and hide it in the little plastic eggs you can buy at the dollar store.  Send your kids on a fun (potentially long) egg hunt and this one could include a scavenger hunt if you have older kids.  If you prefer not to do the plastic eggs, than just make it a scavenger hunt where each clue leads your kids to a cash prize and closer to the finale where they will find out the location of dinner (and the fact that the cash is what will pay for the dinner!)  That’s right…. dinner is on them this year!

If you are a softy like me, you will of course have their Easter basket for them at the family dinner or at the final clue location so there are candy and treats to be enjoyed, but the fun can be had for older children as they figure out the clues and race through the yard as they did when they were younger hunting for eggs.  Below are some examples of great clues:

  1. If you’re in a hungry mood, go here first and find some food.
  2. Now you’re on your second clue, these go on before your shoes.
  3. If you want your teeth to shine, pick this up and spend some time.
  4. Take a walk and step outside, this is where you go to ride.
  5. I used to write to send a letter, but now this machine does it better!
  6. Rubber ducky your the one!  You make ______ lots of fun!
  7. Hickory Dickory Dock, The mouse ran up the ________!

There are so many more you can come up with.  You can google “Scavenger Hunt Clues” and the lists are endless or come up with your own to include the fun places in and around your house.  Use a theme, rhyme, or make fun jokes.  Have fun and make it interesting.  This can be a fun tradition your children will look forward to each year.

On a side note, have you ever wondered about the history of the Easter Egg or the Easter Bunny?  What are they and where did they come from?  Well here is a quick history lesson for you as we hop into the holiday and hunt for our eggs.

The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and rebirth. In Christianity it became associated with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.[102] The custom of the Easter egg originated in the early Christian community of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion.[103][104] As such, for Christians, the Easter egg is a symbol of the empty tomb.[14][15] The oldest tradition is to use dyed chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute decorated chocolate, or plastic eggs filled with candy such as jellybeans.

The Easter Bunny is a popular legendary anthropomorphic Easter gift-giving character analogous to Santa Claus in American culture. Many Americans follow the tradition of coloring hard-boiled eggs and giving baskets of candy. On Easter Monday, the President of the United States holds an annual Easter egg roll on the White House lawn for young children.[105] Since the rabbit is a pest in Australia, the Easter Bilby is available as an alternative. Easter eggs are a widely popular symbol of new life in Poland and other Slavic countries’ folk traditions. A batik-like decorating process known as pisanka produces intricate, brilliantly-colored eggs.

The celebrated House of Fabergé workshops created exquisite jewelled eggs for the Russian Imperial Court.

I hope you enjoyed the quick little lesson and I certainly hope you plan on trying a scavenger hunt or something fun with your family this Easter.  As always, have a happy day!

Vacationing – “Gypsy Style”

The best vacations are the unplanned ones.  My husband and I have just returned from a whirl wind trip around Florida where in one week we accomplished the following:

  • A weekend trip to a friends wedding where I participated as a bride’s maid.
  • A visit to my dad’s lake house to pick-up a few things for my dad (pre-surgery for him)
  • A few days in the keys (fishing, kayaking, site seeing, etc.)
  • A celebration of life for my Great Aunt who has passed away (at 95 years of age)
  • A visit to my father’s house (post-surgery)
  • A visit with  my son and some house hunting
  • And home to in-pack and do some laundry.

Now, I will admit, some of these little day or multi-day trips were pre-planned, but for the most part, we just jumped in the car and headed out for a road trip and our vacation worked our beautifully.  Stress free and my husband and I laughed harder and longer than we have in so long.  Along the way we made new friends and connected with old ones.  We made side trips to the Sponge Docks of Tarpon Springs and took a little hike thru the Florida Panther and wildlife preserve down in Alligator Ally (neither of which were even thought of in advance).

If I can offer a few pieces of friendly advice they are the following:

Love often and laugh hard.  Tell jokes!  Sing along to the radio.  And don’t get mad if the other person likes to hum.  That’s right hum.  I have learned that my husband hums when he is happy.  It used to irritate me, now, I listen for it because it lets me know that he is genuinely happy in is heart and then I have done my job.

Hold hands with your best friend just because you can.  I love it when my husband comes up beside me and takes my hand to go for a walk.  There is no reason.  He isn’t “Dragging me somewhere” or “Showing me something”.  He just likes me close to him, and I, he.

Stop and smell the roses, and take a picture too!  Along our trip, we noticed things that had we been in a rush we would have missed.  The Alligators on the shore of the ditch along the road.  The iguana eating lunch in the mangroves as we kayaked in the afternoon.  The beautiful shells along the seashore and the tide changed.  The local food, the music, the smells in the air, all so beautiful if we just slow down and put our electronics away for a moment.

Stop worrying.  We had so many things to see and do during the week.  A wedding, time for each other, a surgery for my dad, extended family worries, and a funeral of sorts.  But as my dad has always told me….  Even when you leave this world, someone will still pile things into your “inbox” and the world will still turn.  Do what needs to get done and don’t sweat the small stuff because after all, it’s all small stuff.

So with that in mind, we enjoyed the heck out of each day and love each friend and family member as we made it to them.  And all the while, we held hands, sang songs and laughed.

May your next vacation be very soon.  Try to take an evening away, a little weekend getaway or even a few days to get back to what is really important and that is each other.  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!

 

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!

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