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!

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."

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 :

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

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

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

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

(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.