Welcome! This site is an endeavor to spread an attitude of positive thinking and optimism. By searching for joy and beauty in all things - even the mundane, perhaps a smile will spread from my computer ... to you!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Personal time....

Sorry for the absence, friends.... still dealing with some personal issues.  I will be out-of-town for the next week, and hope to return to you (and my page) with bells on as soon as I return.

Thanks for the understanding, and good wishes -  it's appreciated!

-Pam

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"Wordless" Wednesday: Craving....Sand & Surf !



Do you ever get the feelin' that you got to get away?
It's a sympton of the fever all across the U. S. A.

My family doctor told me "son the flu is what you have!"
But I know it's island fever, and I got it real bad.

Hey doc I need a pain reliever!
(Oooo I got it bad) I got the island fever!

I got it bad, I got the island fever!
(Oooo I got it bad) I got the island fever!

from the song: "Island Fever" by The Beach Boys
(Tom Melcher & Mike Love)



Well, we're not getting any beach-time soon...but I have amazing memories of previous vacations spent on sandy shores. 

Watching the waves roll in, clouds drifting in endless shapes and sizes, the sun warming my skin and healing my soul. 

Just looking at these pictures brings a smile to my face, and Joy to my heart as I recall those sensations.  Craving?  Yes.  But happy that I can always return another day....






Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5th - After the Fireworks

Upon visiting a new site for fellow bloggers and writers this morning, I discovered this picture.

It wasn't until after I had been staring at the photo (for several minutes!) and then left a comment for the host that I realized what the subject matter was, and then what I was supposed to do!

It took me a minute, but it hit me - it's a close-up of firecrackers!  Cool. Still feeling the "glow" of our 4th of July festivities and fun, I really liked this picture.  It just tied in beautifully with all that our family did over the long 4th of July weekend!

Magpie Tales  instructed us to write a "short vignette or poem" on the basis of this photo.  Today being Monday, July 5th, I have to say that it still feels like we're on the holiday!  Although many businesses are closed todayin honor of the holiday that fell on a Sunday this year - the "hullabaloo" is over, the cloudy haze from thousands of fireworks has cleared, the frantic last-minute grocery shopping is over, and even the traffic isn't as bad.   We are filled with great memories of another celebration of our country's independence and freedom.  Spent with family and dear friends, I couldn't let the day go by without remembering why I'm glad I'm an American.

We are Blessed and fortunate to live in a nation that - although it has it's flaws and failures - still continues to offer us so much more.  In that regard, I decided to keep today's posting simple. (and sometimes, "simple" is better!)  Thinking of all those reasons I'm glad to be an American, I actually started making this list last night while watching even more fireworks - way off in the distance - from the top of our front-porch roof!  (we have quite a "view" from that perch!)

Top Ten Reasons I'm Glad to Be an American
(in no particular order)
  1. My Catholic family and I can worship as often and where-ever we wish, with no repercussions.  We can worship in any faith that we choose.
  2. We can travel and participate in vacations anywhere within this great country without issue.
  3. We can even travel outside the country, visiting neighbors world-wide, knowing that we can always return home.
  4. My children have always been guaranteed an education.
  5. Regardless of the paperwork, red-tape, and hassle, we have always been able to find health-care.
  6. Even though we may not always choose to voice an opinion, we have the ability and the right to do so.
  7. Even though we may not always choose to do so, all citizens have the ability and right to vote for their governmental representatives. And we can do (or not do) this without fear of reprisal.
  8. If we don't "like" our current life and circumstances, we have the freedom to pick up and start over elsewhere.
  9. We have the privilege and ability to choose and participate in many forms of recreation and entertainment - from sports activities and clubs, to movies and concerts ( and yes, even neighborhood parties with fireworks!) -  without excessive censorship or interference.
  10. We can be anything we want - or dream - to be!


After the fireworks, picnics, sitting  with family, drinking with friends, playing with the kids, what better way to contemplate what this country stands for?  I also thank and honor all of those who have ever given the ultimate sacrifice in support of this belief and cause.


"In the truest sense,
freedom cannot be bestowed;
it must be achieved."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt



What are your Top Ten? 

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Pat On The Back!

I know deep within that we aren't always going to get to witness the outcome when we've offered "good deeds," words of encouragement or moments of support to others.  Faith teaches us that we continue on "just because."

My blog is an effort to just spread a small amount of happiness, in a small space, in a short amount of "time." Reaching out to whoever happens to cross this path.  But ocassionally, it does feel good when someone turns back to you and says "thank you," or "good job!"

We all need to hear and feel those words from time-to-time.  I received a little award last night from a new blogging friend, and I must say, the name of the award says it all.  I'm glad Suzie believes I truly have something substantial to offer.

In receiving this Blog of Substance Award, I am to describe my blog's purpose and "philosophy" in 5 words:

a little ray of sunshine

And in that same spirit, I'm to share this award with 10 additional bloggers:
(in no particular order)

  1. Lessons From the Monk I Married
  2. Fake It Till You Make It
  3. The Joy of Birdwatching and Living A Simple Life
  4. Crimson Covered Farmlife
  5. I'd Rather Be Blogging
  6. Butts and Ashes
  7. Healing Morning
  8. Daily Coping Skills
  9. Random Recycling
  10. My Daily Spirit
I'd like to personally thank each of the above-mentioned writers for continuing to bring me  a bit of inspiration (and motivation!) each day - each of you write with conviction and faith.  Be sure to check them out!

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pay It Forward Fridays: Shopping With A " Stranger "

I missed last weeks "Pay It Forward Friday" - had a much-needed date-night with my hubby last Friday, and it was simply too late when I got home to write!

Been thinking about what I could do for someone this week, and my opportunity presented itself in a very fun way on Wednesday.  After meeting a "long-lost" friend for an amazing lunch, I stopped at our local craft and hobby store for some supplies and 4th of July decorations.  I had made arrangements to take my youngest niece out to the movies that afternoon but fortunately wasn't in too much of a rush.

Holding some decorations and a couple jars of decoupage glue, I was searching the aisles for a specific kind of craft paint.  Looking up and down the racks, the woman next to me leaned over and pointed to the items in my arms - "you look like a crafty person, could I ask for your opinion?"

Now, the first thing that came to my mind was "I look like a crafty person?"  But I found myself answering her with a "sure!!" anyway.  I'm certainly not an expert in any particular art medium - by any means.  But I have dabbled in quite a few craft projects over the years, particularly faux and decorative painting.  Trying to decide the best way to make over a gold, plastic angel, we started to fall into an easy discussion about paints that would offer the best coverage and give her the look that she required. 

The next thing I knew, we were walking up and down the aisles together, searching for products and discussing color-choices.  Before I knew it, 20 minutes had gone by!  Again I wasn't in a hurry, but I did need to pick up my niece in a timely manner. 

My new friend and I continued to discuss her project and look at paints for another 10 minutes, and I then explained I needed to check out.  She thanked me profusely, and I felt genuinely happy when I responded with "it was my pleasure."  I bid her the best of luck on her project, and wished her a wonderful holiday weekend.  With another thank you and "Happy 4th of July," we parted without ever exchanging names.

I don't know if I've ever done that before - I mean, I've quickly helped someone look for something in a store before, but to actually spend a little time discussing something and exchanging ideas with a total stranger?  Never.  And it was cool!

I feel like my little random act of kindness was "re-paid" yesterday when going to lunch with my boys at a local fast-food chicken place - the restaurant was absolutely packed, and we had trays full of food and no where to sit.  Another mother with two kids in tow came up to me and said we could have their table.  They weren't even quite finished - her little girl was still finishing up her dessert, but she gave us her table anyway. 

Hmmmm..... one simple act of kindness begets another?  Hard to prove, I know.  Still, I can't help but wonder what our world would be like if we ALL started to practice these tiny - yet significant - little exercises of cheer and kindness.

Wow - isn't it cool to know there are strangers out there who are our friends?

Pay it forward - Spread a smile!

Photo courtesy Google Images and Photosearch

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Polishing the Dull Side...

I've been obsessing over the carpet in our home lately.

First of all, it's a light color. (not white, mind you, but a very light beige!) Second, we have 3 boys, 4 dogs and a cat. Third, the house is 11 years old.....high traffic, high maintenance for eleven years adds up.

I've cleaned it, and cleaned it.  And ....cleaned it some more.  It's really starting to show  the wear-and-tear.  While part of it doesn't look "too" bad, the few real stains that are present are way beyond ever coming out.  A professional steam cleaning isn't even going to help now...

To top it all off, the wood flooring that we have throughout the kitchen, dining and hallway areas are pretty beat up as well.  That either needs to be stripped and re-surfaced, or completely pulled up and done over.  After eleven years in our home - I keep finding so many things that are now either coming due for replacement, or major repair.  It's overwhelming, and I know there's no way we'll be able to tackle these kind of expenses any time soon.

I'm not looking for perfection here, but I do mind these things when they start to look dirty and unkempt.  I've known for a while that I'm a little obsessive-compulsive when it comes to organization and neatness, but I'm usually not too picky when it comes to the heavy cleaning.  (With three boys, I'm sure you could relate!)

Why am I writing about my dirty floors on a blog that should be offering snippets of positivity and inspiration?

Even though I have been unhappy with the way certain areas in our home are beginning to appear faded or dingy, I'm truly thankful that I even have a home to clean. I'm almost looking at those stains now as  "badges of honor."  With so many families losing their homes in this dark economic era (and some losing even more) I have nothing to complain about.  Reminders that a close and loving family fills this dwelling, those stains are starting to remind me just how fortunate and Blessed our family is to have a home to clean....

Even though their bedrooms constantly need vacuuming and dusting, my boys are lucky enough to even have their own personal space, and a bed to lie on.

Even though I cringe when I note the wood decaying under the dishwasher in our small, crowded kitchen, we are Blessed with a full pantry and refrigerator.

Even though we don't have the financial means to  create the landscape of our dreams, God continues to grant us the ability to call this little slice of heaven our home....and it is filled with love.

It's more than just your average "attitude of gratitude."  This has been a conscious decision on my part to face an otherwise depressing or challenging moment, and try to turn it into a reminder of truth.
My truth:  the worn-out carpet, flooring, paint, and fixtures of my abode have never defined those who dwell within.  Home is what you make it, and how you live it.

"If you can't see the bright side of life,
polish the dull side."
-Unknown

In a nutshell:  I'm rich!!!  :)



Pay it forward - Spread a Smile !


Photo courtesy of Google images.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Pets - Part of The Family!







Well, I'm feeling better!  But due to some time constraints today, and still feeling like I'm in "catch-up" mode, I thought I would introduce you to some of the other members of our family.


 
Looking into the eyes of each of our pets, I personally know that there must be a special place for these amazing and insightful creatures when they leave us...often much too soon.  They just know and understand too much (in my opinion) to not have some kind of soul.

Introducing :




Lizzie
Havanese
(aka: Mom's "girl," "the Princess", thinks she Alpha!)



Ricky
Imperial Shitzhu
(aka: "Little Buddy," Gremlin, EWok, 7 lbs of pure Ninja!)

Rusty
Terrier Mix
(aka: Chewbacca, Corned Beef, "I Love you, Man!")


Mitch
Shitzhu
(aka: "Space Cadet," Tri-Pod, Stinky)



Miette
Snow-Shoe
(aka: Pretty Girl, Dog-Lover, name is French for "Sweet.")



"Animals are such agreeable friends -
they ask no questions,
they pass no criticisms."

- George Eliot  (Author 1819-1880)


Pay it foward - Spread a Smile !

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pay it Forward Fridays - Reposting: "Smiles...at a Bargain!"


Okay, so, I've been fighting what I know is going to ultimately go down as another sinus infection this week.  Honestly?  I've truly been thinking about random acts of kindness all this week, and what I could do...but my energy has "gone up and went !"

Because I love the idea of what even little things can mean to other people, I'm reposting one of my first blogs today .... 

From November, 2009:

Anyone out there really like finding a good bargain? With most people in this country experiencing the recession in some way, I'm sure we all understand the importance of being frugal and "penny wise!"

Like many others, our family's income has suffered some major blows over the last year or so, and I find myself cutting corners in any way that I can when doing the household shopping. We have three sons, all of whom are still living at home: the eldest, age 25, received two Associates Degrees in computer science recently, works full-time and will be continuing his education and certifications this coming year; our middle child - age 22, has completed Culinary School and is a full-time Chef for an organic and gourmet food chain; and the youngest is 17, a swimmer and Senior this year in high school. My husband and I are very blessed - all three of them continue to pitch in with household chores and responsibilities (usually without too much complaint!) The two eldest, who might be continuing their education, contribute financially as much as their "early career" incomes will allow!

I'm sure - even if you've never had a son - that you can appreciate just how much food this family can go through (not to mention all those "little" things like soap, laundry detergent, deodorant and shaving cream!) Let me tell you, I've had these boys around for some time, and it STILL amazes me! The youngest one - the swimmer - even amazes his older brothers in his ability for mass consumption. When all three are actually present at the dinner table (yes, we still manage to do that several evenings a week!) it's basically a "free-for-all" ....you snooze, you loose!

SO - with all the shopping I still have to accomplish each month, I've found myself frequenting some discount establishments that (years ago) I would never have thought would now be a regular stop on my bi-weekly excursions. I've given up the need for the "expensive" shampoos, body washes and facial care products, have opted for off-brand cleaning and paper products, and continue to select "store-brands" whenever possible. Usually shopping at our local grocery store for most everything (with coupons in hand) I recently discovered that I can save even more money on some of my monthly necessities at a small discount store. I stop at this store before making the trip to the grocery store, and I always manage to cut quite a bit off my shopping budget for the month.

Yesterday being the end of the month, today was most definitely the day to refill the pantry, so once again I stopped at that little discount center first. Because I had balanced the checkbook before leaving (and took a peek at the bills I would have to pay later in the day) I wasn't in the cheeriest of moods this morning as I wandered around gathering the usual specials. I finally got to the aisle where I always buy this store's brand of facial products...and felt myself giving in to an immediate self pity party. "Why do I have to scrimp on my beauty products - at this age (when I need them the most!)" After all, it wasn't like I was buying those expensive department-store brands ...now I'm buying copies of the COPIES!! (I wasn't raging mad, mind you - but the internal pouting I was doing would have shamed a two-year-old.)

I made my way over to the tiny check-out area, which is just crammed with all kinds of candy, lighters, trinkets and dollar-items...there's barely enough room there to lay out your purchases. They usually keep only one register open in this place, and I waited behind one other person as they placed their items on the counter one-at-a-time for the clerk to ring up. It was getting a little annoying as she methodically picked up one thing at a time out of her cart. However, she finally completed the process and paid her bill. Just as she was finishing, I turned to look behind me and standing there was the tinniest little old woman - I mean little! (I kept wondering later if she actually drove herself to the store, and "could she see over the steering-wheel?") She wasn't terribly old, but a good bit older than my mom. She was holding a bottle of Mr. Clean and a box of something (I couldn't see) in front of her, along with a handbag almost as big as she was.

You've done it, haven't you? You have a shopping cart full - and even though you're worn out, completely "over" the whole shopping, saving money, and comparing prices thing and want to get home - you've let someone holding only one or two items check out ahead of you. Thing is, today it made me feel better. That little old lady asked me twice if I was sure I didn't mind (probably because we'd both been waiting behind "Ms. Poky!") She couldn't believe it, and I reassured her it was absolutely fine...she only had 2 items!

My pity party was over. By doing a small, random act of kindness I felt better. Maybe it made her feel good too, I may never know. What I do know is this...even though some people might say the "random act of kindness" and "pay-it-forward" thing has been over-done, it ultimately does matter to us - on a personal level. It's not always about making another person feel good or making their day....it's also about reminding ourselves how it feels to be kind, while possibly healing a little something that might have been missing within ourselves for awhile.

I still had to complete the major portion of my grocery shopping after that, and I didn't relish the thought of spending even more money. Taking a moment to let the little favor I just granted to a stranger sink in, I walked to the car with a smile on my face - knowing that I had just put a smile on hers.


Pay it forward - spread a smile!

(photo courtesy of Google images.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Beautiful Butterflies !

adore butterflies and moths!

...their amazing and brilliant color schemes, intricate shapes, and sizes from extremely tiny to that of a dinner-plate. Their ability to just "float" on even the slightest breeze never ceases to capture my interest, and I watch them in awe whenever I'm in their weightless presence.

I've been to a couple different Butterfly Farms in Florida, and if you ever have the chance to visit one of these amazing places, I highly recommend taking the time to go!

From my collection:

























'Happiness is a butterfly which, when pursued,
is always beyond our grasp,
but which if you will sit down quietly,
may alight upon you."

- Nathaniel Hawthorne



Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Introducing: "Pay it Forward Fridays"

At the suggestion of a new blogging friend, I have been inspired to include a new meme at A Dose of Positivity.  A "meme" in the world of blogging is another catch-phrase for creating a specific theme - usually one specific day of the week -  devoting the posting for that day entirely in support of the meme's message and purpose.

Kelly at Blue Frogs Legs initiated a most wonderful idea for Fridays - "Pay it Forward Fridays."  Being a devotee of the novel, movie and mantra of the same, I couldn't help but be drawn into her idea and dream for this movement to move into more of the blogging world.  We bloggers have so many ways to touch the hearts of many, and whether we write about family life as mommys, review books or movies, keep travel logs or anything, I think we can all agree on one thing...random acts of kindness - in any form - when paid "forward" are contagious, and now within the world of cyberspace, we writers have infinite possibilities to touch lives the world over!

I have touched on this "theory" several times in past postings, (see "Smiles - At A Bargain" ) and usually try to incorporate a message as often as I can on how very simple things can make a huge difference in another person's life.  Seeing Kelly's post and new idea was a "light-bulb" moment for me, and I'm honored to take up the challenge. 

Recently, a very close and personal friend of mine was presented with an opportunity to actually put this "theory" into practice.  About a week ago, my friend had stopped at a convenience store/gas station within the city to purchase gas and some snacks before getting on the expressway for his long ride home from work.  As he was leaving the store, heading back to his car, a man who definitely appeared to be "down on his luck" came up to my friend and asked him if he could spare a little money, because he hadn't really had anything to eat in a while.   My friend knew by looking at him, and the tone of his voice, that this man was probably truthful.  Quickly looking around, my friend noticed a fast-food chicken restaurant directly across the street, and made a quick - yet monumental - decision.  Telling the man to get into the passenger's seat, my friend then drove him across the busy road to the restaurant, where he took the man inside and purchased him a full meal.  He left the man inside to eat his meal in peace, never knowing exactly just how long it had been since this humble person had actually had a meal.

I've been thinking about my friend's experience for quite a few days now, and reading Kelly's post, I knew that I could finally write about this amazing little story of generosityWhile I won't embarrass my friend by posting his name, I have to say how proud I was to hear of this story, and how grateful I am to personally know someone of this caliber - for it really did happen, and I know deep within that at the moment, my friend wasn't even thinking about the "pay it foward" movement - it trully was a random act of kindness.  Moments like that are usually unexpected, but when we are faced with them, they not only change the outlook of the recipient, but in the blink-of-an-eye, they change us.  Sure, many people might walk away thinking in "today's world" such an act of faith would be very risky...would you, when faced with a similar dilemma, invite a seemingly homeless stranger into your car, even though it's only across the street?

Maybe most of us aren't presented with opportunities such as this to perform such a selfless act, but all of us are usually given many moments where we have an occasion to share something. Usually, it doesn't even have to cost us anything - as I've posted before, sometimes taking the time to offer someone a handshake, welcome or smile, can mean so much more....  why does this seem so important to me?  In a nutshell, I firmly believe that continuing to pass on a spirit of kindness - of any kind - offers us hope.  All of us, when on the receiving end of a selfless and generous deed know that there is, indeed, still kindness and love remaining within the world.

In this spirit, I would like to begin posting examples on Fridays of those who have "paid it forward."  Ways other readers are - or have experienced - paying it forward, and even notes on how I, myself have strived to exercise this belief.

I sincerely hope that you will join me and my new friend Kelly in promoting the dream.  One blog, one story at a time, each of us can make a difference for positive change within the world! 

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."
- Lady Diana


Looking for ideas, additional thoughts, stories and inspiration on how you can get started?  There are many links to visit on the Internet, offering tons of suggestions, tips and information.  Here's a couple to start:

The Pay It Forward Movement:   http://www.payitforwardmovement.org/

The Random Acts of Kindess Foundation: http://www.actsofkindness.org/


I look forward to sharing some memorable and inspirational moments with you on "Pay It Forward Fridays!"

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Photos courtesy of Google Images.

Friday, May 28, 2010

YAY! IT'S SUMMER!!!

It's here!  The beginning of Summer!  Something about the 3-day Memorial day weekend, the last day of school (for us, it's today) and warmer temperatures just say - it's Summer! Even though the "official" first day of Summer isn't until the Summer Solstice on June 21st, most of us consider this weekend in America our beginning of the season.

As I was going about my morning routine, I over-heard on the news (I'm usually "over-hearing" everything on the morning news, as I'm doing breakfast, chores, etc. - not actually watching!) that AAA is expecting an increase in the number of people traveling this weekend - up about a million and-a-half people over last year.  They attributed this to the fact that many people are just getting "tired" of staying at home, and are finally venturing out for some much-needed relaxation.  Hey - I say GO FOR IT ...and it's a good sign for the economy!

Our family will not be heading anywhere special this weekend, but we will be hosting a cook-out for friends and family.  First thing I did was check the weather forecast...uh-oh.  Intermittent thunder-showers all weekend.  My boys and husband have each asked me whether we'll still have the picnic because of the forecast.  I said - yes - why not?  Rain or shine, we'll open up the garage, put extra tables out there, (we don't have a very big deck) and still have a great time!  After all, my hubby has grilled in the rain many times before!  Hey - when you want a party or celebration bad enough, nothing should stand in your way.

And what a great way to begin this season of vacations, picnics, baseball, time-off, out-door projects, etc., than by remembering those who made this joyful freedom possible?  We Americans are so blessed that we have the ability to enjoy doing and going wherever we care to ... even if we stop for only a brief moment this weekend, the sacrifices made by our men and women in each branch of our nation's military should be recognized and brought to mind.  Most of us in the U.S. haven't experienced other cultures around the globe - to us, our freedoms and privileges have become things that we don't even consider on a daily basis any more.  There are still places in the world where you cannot freely attend the church of your choice whenever and wherever you wish.

So, even though we might get rain, or we don't have the most elaborate patio or deck, or we're not able to leave for some other great vacation destination...we will be celebrating.  The blessings of family, friends, good food - it's enough.  Nothing better than the smell of all-American hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, kids laughing, everybody chattering at once, music playing in the background....we Americans do that rather well, don't ya think?

Happy Summer!  And while enjoying your freedom to worship, play and love under the sun, don't forget to take a moment to remember so many who gave their lives for us, our children, and our children's children.






Pay it forward - spread a smile!





Photos courtesy of Google images.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"What's Wrong With The World....and Does It Matter?"

You might have noticed that I've been away from the page for a few weeks...sorry!

Call it Writer's Block if you want, but I really did need some time “away.” Honestly, I've been too engrossed in my own problems, worries and issues to even think about writing something upbeat and positive.

So what brought me back to the page on this particular day? Actually, I've been mulling over the decision to get back into a “semi-healthy” writing habit all week.... it was today's morning news I caught while getting ready to head out that fed my desire to pull out my laptop again. Blasting out at me from the television were the latest efforts to clean up the oil spill in the gulf, mounting financial concerns in Europe (and throughout the entire world), stocks plunging in America, the U.S. unemployment rate back up again, gas prices soaring, and new concerns with the volcano in Iceland. I wondered out loud ...“what is going on?”

Listening to all this, my emotions were assaulted by an over-whelming realization – it's clear that many, many people are NOT happy. Not happy with our leadership, health care, our financial situation(s), environmental issues, communities, the list is huge. And it's not just outside our own back door – our entire global community is suffering. It seems like everyone I know is complaining or hurting in some way. Well, maybe our media makes it seem much worse – it always appears as if there is nothing good to report or talk about in the media these days.

Our parents used to have a saying: “the world is going to hell in a hand-basket.” I used to laugh at this little snippet of pessimism, but I've found myself actually thinking this same sentiment a couple times over the course of the last few months. Now, I certainly don't intend to sugar-coat current events and the impact such things have on us. However, I do know that dwelling within them is not healthy. If we're not willing to look beyond the dark and dismal pictures placed in front of us every day, our communities, our nation, our world will not heal – ever.

My youngest boy who is 17, actually brought up these same feelings and emotions this morning as we drove to school. Talking about the latest impact to the environment in the gulf he said... "man - what's going on, mom? It's like everything is falling apart!" Wow. We forget our kids are noticing this – all of it. We may think these teens are too caught up in their friends, dating, and just having fun, but in reality – they are watching. I agreed with my son – I told him that I, too, had been thinking lately that “the world was going to hell in a hand-basket.” But then I tried to share something with him that would hopefully remind him that there still remains a great deal of good - and good people - in this world, and that bad times won't last forever.

I reminded him that I personally don't believe God “causes” bad things to happen to us and the world, but we are given opportunities to rise above these periods of hardship and pain. What we do, and the decisions we make during those moments of extreme challenge, upheaval, and even unimaginable pain is what ultimately matters. This happens to us as human beings on personal levels, as well as within our local and expanded communities.

Like many other periods in history, we continue to move through the valleys and peaks of light and darkness. For any period of happiness and content we might experience, there is also a time of sadness and pain. It may sound trite, but without enduring upheaval and strife, none of the people who inhabit this earth could possibly understand what peace or contentment mean. Doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor....on a fundamental level, we all know and feel the difference between peace and pain. Though many of us may not have actually experienced these notable periods, the people of earth have survived and overcome terrible odds. The “Great Depression” of the 1930's brought our country to it's knees, while the global economy also suffered immense loss and progress was crippled. World War II had a negative impact on each community, every country of the world in some way – and we were forced to become more aware of our global connection to each other. During each crises, I can only imagine the fear and loss of hope that those who actually lived it might have felt. But people pulled together, learned to rely on one another - sometimes on a global level- and continued to believe and search for the good in the world.

My point is this – we've been there before. And each time our country or world has endured extreme adversity, hatred and even death, we've survived and come back stronger. As individuals, we experience these lowest moments deep within our souls. A former spiritual advisor of mine once referred to our lowest periods of faith as our “desert moments.” Again, it never matters whether you are Protestant, Hindu, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or any of the numerous faith traditions of the world - we all have experienced and will experience moments where we think our faith has left us, or is tested. But when we rise – and we will – that renewal of strength and faith is stronger than what we might previously have believed.

Pretty big “pill” to swallow, isn't it? That we have to endure these tough times? Having the bad news thrown in your face on a daily basis doesn't help, I know. Whether it's the front page of the local newspaper, the news source on your I-phone, or the 6 o'clock news on television, we just can't escape it. And to top it all off, we're each dealing with our own personal demons, issues and situations.

A key word for today: Believe.

Believe that there are still good people around you, in your hometown, in your state, your country, around the globe. If you have a day where you feel you just haven't witnessed or felt any glimmer of hope or goodness from those you've come in contact with, strengthen your belief by choosing to search out stories of people reaching out beyond themselves, performing random acts of kindness, or love unconditionally.

Believe that the best is yet to come. “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.” Current events are exactly what they are – current events. This too shall pass, and another day will dawn.

Believe that you can be anything you want to be. Each of us, by doing one small thing each day CAN make a difference, make a change, have an impact. If everybody thought that it “wasn't worth it” to write a letter to their congressman, or “it doesn't matter” if I donate $1.00 to this charity, or “my presence at this meeting” doesn't matter – we all know that nothing would ever change. Change is a collective effort – the act of complaining about someone else's actions or lack there-of never produces results.

Believe that Angels are among us...and YOU just might be one of them. Take time to notice those around you who have made an impact in your life, and recognize their presence. Remain open to the possibility that even your smile or “hello” could lift the heart of another.

I don't know about you, but I feel better now...

We may not have seen our darkest days on this planet, but I'm confident in the innate goodness of humanity and our common goal to love and be loved. Really, what else matters?

As citizens of such a large planet, we are spread thousands of miles apart with cultures and customs so incredibly different from each other. Yet we are still very much the same - we all feel pain, but we all have a tremendous capacity to love.

Yep, the “world may be going to hell in a hand-basket,” but I am now reminded that my personal worries are just a minute speck of dust in the millions of emotions floating around this world.

A better day IS coming, for all of us –

I Believe

Words and music by Erwin Drake, Irvin Graham, Jimmy Shirl, Al Stillman

I believe, for every drop of rain that falls,
a flower grows.

I believe that somewhere in the darkest night,
a candle glows.

I believe for everyone who goes astray,
someone will come, to show the way.
I believe, I believe.

I believe above the storm the smallest prayer
will still be heard.

I believe that someone in the great somewhere
hears every word.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
or touch a leaf, or see the sky,
then I know why I believe!

I believe above the storm the smallest prayer,
will still be heard.

I believe that someone in the great somewhere,
hears every word.

Every time I hear a newborn baby cry,
or touch a leaf, or see the sky,
then I know why, I believe!


 
 Pay it forward - spread a smile!


Photos courtesy of Google images.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Been on "hiatus!"  Returning soon.....bless you all for your patience!!  :-)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Ah, The Wearin O' the Green..."

Did you ever notice how so many people thoroughly enjoy getting into the spirit of this popular holiday? At school today I was amused and cheered to see how many high-schoolers were wearing green, quite a few of them really getting into out-doing each other with crazy leprechaun outfits or died hair!

Personally, I think part of the appeal of our “Americanized” St. Patrick's celebration is where it falls within the seasonal calendar. Temperatures are beginning to warm up (pretty much throughout the continental U.S.), and everyone is more than ready to shed the dark colors and heavy sweaters of winter. With Easter only a few short weeks away “spring fever” is taking hold, and it seems that everyone is looking for an excuse to celebrate the end of winter and just – break out.

Originally a feast day for a beloved Catholic saint, St. Patrick's Day brings a whole lot more to the American Public these days than just the “wearin o' the green.” Numerous cities and towns across the U.S. host parades and festivals, with most local bars and taverns offering some form of Irish beer (or beer died to various shades of green). With so many opportunities to party, who can't love St. Patty's Day?

America has been touched heavily by the Irish, with many relocating here in the seventeen and eighteen-hundreds, slowly migrating across the continental United States by wagon train. Many families can today trace their heritage back to at least one Irish ancestor, and those of us who can't still like to think they're just “a little bit” Irish!

Indulging in the customs and traditions of the holiday, anyone can be Irish for the day. Dreaming of green hills, thatched-roof cottages with flowers at the window, and the commraderie of a small village at a local pub, we imagine a land of eternal spring as our snow melts and seasonal rain showers begin.

Some might consider the holiday useless and frivilous, but the fact remains that St. Patrick's Day brings a smile to many a face as we anticipate the burst of color and renewal brought with the return of Spring.  





When Irish eyes are smiling,

Tis like a morn in spring.

With a lilt of Irish laughter

You can hear the angels sing

When Irish hearts are happy

All the world is bright and gay

When Irish eyes are smiling

Sure, they steal your heart away.
 
Irish Eyes

- Song, by Chaucey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.

Pay it forward - spread a smile!


Photos property of Google Images

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Dirt Therapy"

I'm ready to go back outside! The beginning of this week brought Spring into North Georgia with warmer temperatures and clear, blue, sunny skies.

We immediately headed outdoors to begin the annual “Spring clean-up” around our house, raking leaves and generally clearing away the debris and muck left over from a late winter snow.

While my husband started the cutting and treatment of the lawn for it's new Spring growth, I began the arduous task of raking the dead leaves and over-growth from around the walls of the house and from under the trees and bushes surrounding our large and partially-wooded lot. It took us almost all day to complete these projects, but we enjoyed the fresh air and the sun on our skin as we plugged away with a common purpose.

The last few weeks of winter being rather gray and gloomy, it was a particularly beautiful day. The smell of damp and freshly-raked earth brought through open windows on a sunny breeze was intoxicating and tempting. It was evident that many in our community were experiencing the thrill of finally leaving their dark interiors to herald the new season. Amid the birds were the sounds of mowers, tractors, clippers and saws; dogs barking; children calling and laughing. Greetings were shouted across neighboring yards with smiling faces in a spirit of vitality and good-will.

After transporting all the leaves and brush to a clearing prepared for burning - and putting the tractor and tools away – I stood on our back deck to survey our handiwork. Sore, filthy and tired, I still felt energized and happy. Some people may not be able to truly appreciate the joy and satisfaction that comes from working amid dirt and plants, and I understand that it's probably just “not their thing.” I, however, thrive in this environment and always feel better when I've had time to spend digging in the dirt again.

I've discovered over the years that while home-ownership demands a good deal of responsibility, I really don't mind the work required in maintaining the outdoor portion of our home. For no matter where we live – whether it be a ranch consisting of hundreds of acres, a home in the middle of suburbia, or a small brownstone within city limits - the area surrounding and entering our home is an extension of our personality and the life within.

Physical work of any kind permits us an opportunity to clear our minds and bodies of stress and fatigue, the oxygen clearing away the cobwebs in our brain. Though energizing, I always find myself more relaxed and in better spirits when working outside in the yard or flower beds. Yes, it can be a real hassle to try and keep up with weeds, over-grown shrubs and grass. But if we take the time to enjoy the personal solitude incurred while performing these tasks, those moments become a time of reflection, meditation, or prayer … all in the midst of nature.

A well-known chain of landscaping nurseries in the southeast has a slogan that I have loved for years: “Come play in the dirt again!” Like a child, I need not worry about what clothes I'm wearing, whether my hair is messy, or how dirty I get when working outside. Focusing on nothing but the task at hand – whether pulling weeds or the repetition of hoeing or raking – I totally let go of any stress or worries plaguing me at the moment. As my mind becomes clearer I begin to commute with God, the conversation progressing as though He's standing and working right beside me. I almost always find myself singing (in my head, or sometimes out loud!), offering my notes to heaven.

It really is the best of two worlds for I gain valuable prayer, meditation, and alone time while accomplishing an important job. No spa or retreat-center required. (although, occasionally my muscles might be screaming for a massage afterwards!)

I'm looking forward to Spring kicking into high-gear. I can't wait to get back out there and do some more cleaning and planting. Far from finished, we have a small garden to prepare and more to clear away.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God's heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.

~Dorothy Frances Gurney, "Garden Thoughts"


It's not just the work and the end-result I'm looking forward to... it's the therapy!

Pay it forward this Spring – maybe by taking care of the small piece of earth around you - in return, you'll receive so much more than beautiful blooms!


Photos property of Google Images, Washington Post & Stock Photo