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.

 

 

 

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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.

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.

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!

 

DIY – Valentine’s edition

February is a fun month!  Love is in the air.  Winter is just peaking and starting to pass.  Tulips are popping up through the snow.  It’s time to have some DIY Fun with Valentine’s Day ideas!  Here a few suggestions to get an un-expecting, friend, child, loved one, or even co-worker giggling and into the spirit. 

1.       Love potion labels – Get your kids in the Valentine’s Day spirit by removing existing water bottle labels and replacing them with these free “love potion” printables. Crack these water bottles open and love just might fill the cafeteria. Is it magic or just a mother’s love? (suggestion from good housekeeping.com)

2.       Heart Crayons – This is fun to do as a surprise for the little ones in your life or as a project with them so they can spread their own love with friends.  (NOTE: this project can be rough on your metal pans, try using a silicone heart mold.  This can be purchased on line or found in your local craft store).  Separate your crayons by color groups: reds/pinks, purples, blues, greens, oranges/yellows. To get the paper off easily, cut a slit down the length of the crayon with a knife. Break them into ~1/3″ – 1/2″ pieces and place like colors into pans. You get a better result if you mix lighter shades of a certain group with darker shades. The color contrast is pretty fun and makes for unique hearts. Bake between 225F and 250F for about 10 minutes. Take a look at them after 10 and if they are completely melted, gently take them out, and let them cool for at least 10 minutes. If there are still some chunks after 10 minutes, let them go for another minute or two. Keep an eye on them! (Recipe from goodknits.com)

3.       Heart Shaped Hand warmers (Or any shape and color to use for all cool seasons) – You will need, felt, Embroidery Floss and a needle, Un-cooked rice, dried lavender or an essential oil that you find soothing.  Cut the felt into the shape you prefer (hearts are great this time of year).  You will need a total of four identical pieces (two for each warmer).  Knot the embroidery floss and thread your needle.  Sew your two shapes together until you are about ¾ complete.  Be sure to sew you loops close together as not to allow the rice to escape through large gaps.  Add the rice and lavender / oils to the pouch you have created.  Be sure not to pack it tight as you need a little wiggle room to sew it shut and also keep them flexible.  Finish sewing the open gap closed and secure the thread.  To use these awesome warmers, microwave the, for about 30 seconds and tuck them into coat pockets.  Your hands will stay warm and toasty.  Re-heat as needed to re-use, but be sure not to heat for too long. 

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking creatively.  Ignite the passion and creativity inside your heart and share it with others.  As always, 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!

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