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!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Friends - One is Silver, The Other Gold..."

Ah, nostalgia. I believe I'm beginning to understand the real meaning behind the phrase “it is better to have loved, and lost, than to never have loved at all...”

To me, this statement doesn't encompass just those romantic loves we've experienced in our lifetimes, it also holds true in other friendships and relationships. We've all met people who have chosen to remain “closed off” from making close connections with others. Perhaps it is because of some past hurt or (worse) a traumatic event in their lives - they remain adverse to opening their hearts and themselves to not only love, but the infinite possibilities of friendship.

Perhaps people in those lonely situations don't really understand what they're missing...for they rob themselves of so many opportunities. From an early age, our friendships help in the molding and formation of our ultimate personalities.

In forming friendships we travel through various stages – needs - if you will. It's almost like buying and collecting shoes. (Girls, I'm sure you'll get the analogy!) We can buy a lot of shoes in our lifetimes. Some of those shoes are collected for “specific” purposes – you might have a pair for running or exercise, several more just for “dress”, a couple for bad weather days, those you wear just for work, and old ones for working in the yard and getting dirty.....(you get the idea!)

Our friendships are similar – and each of them are important to us for many reasons. Like our shoes, it's not unusual to grow away from certain friendships. Doesn't necessarily mean it was a “bad” relationship. We grow, we change – we are meant to constantly evolve. People we met and became close to in college may not continue to have the same interests we do after leaving school...those we meet while our children are babies, toddlers, then school-age, follow different directions as their children grow and change...individuals we've worked with might leave for other opportunities...and neighbors move. Like an endless cycle of ocean tides, friendships will eternally pass in and out of our lives. Sometimes leaving small, unseen impressions upon our heart, other times leaving profound imprints that permanently – and forever – change us.

Even though I have been extremely blessed with many, many friends throughout my life, I still occasionally experience moments of loneliness. We all do. Why, I don't know. It's at those vulnerable times that I let nostalgia take over my thoughts, and I let myself float back in time to happy days spent with best friends. You know the ones I'm speaking of....like the favorite pair of comfortable, old slippers or flip-flops, those are the friends that no matter what age you are, no matter what stage of life you're in, no matter where you live, or how long it's been since you've seen each other, they still fit. You "get" each other, and you know that when meeting again, you could carry on just like you'd never left or lost touch.

Years ago, I would have let that nostalgia just take over my heart, ending in nothing but a pity party, dreaming of “days-gone-by.” With age, I've discovered that those memories and most special friends bring warm smiles and healing laughter to my soul. I know I was blessed to have even had them in my life at all.

The dearest and closest friend I ever had (other than my husband!), I moved away from when I got married 26 years ago. Though miles apart, I still consider her the best friend I ever had – for she not only shared the best (and certainly the craziest!) of times with me...she knew my faults, my gifts, my quirks, my fears, my endlessly rosy look upon the world....she understood me. She just – got me, and I got her. We could tell each other anything, and felt comfortable enough in each other's presence that we could be or act like anything we wanted to. Instinctively, we knew when each other needed support, or needed constructive criticism. More importantly, I could screw up – she could screw up – yet we continued to forgive each other's failings, and could always move on.

Because we are separated by so many miles – she's in the great white north, I'm in the deep south – we've (unfortunately) only been able to visit each other a few times. (Funny how time, money and distance can keep you apart!) Yet I know that if I picked up the phone today and called her, or showed up on her doorstep, our friendship would pick up right where it “left off.” Though each of us has matured and moved in different directions, (and I just described our friendship in the “past-tense”) this old shoe remains as comfortable, as “stylish,” as fresh as the day we found it!

While thoughts of her and our experiences together are sometimes bittersweet (for I do miss her terribly at times)... I regret nothing, and wouldn't change a thing. I realize that our friendship really taught me how to be a good friend. Forming new friendships, acquaintances, and pals since then, I've discovered that each is unique and special in their own right. Some have lasted for years, some for short periods of time, some briefer still. But I count them all as friends.

“No man is a failure, as long as he has friends.” (Clarence in "It's A Wonderful Life") Just knowing that you are loved – and understanding how special it is to share that connection, even if only briefly – is a gift.

I dedicate this posting to ALL my friends....the old ones, the new ones...the ones I don't see very often, the ones on-line, the ones I see all the time! Some of us have a “history,” some of us share similar interests or hobbies, some of us worship together, and some of us may still be getting to know one another. When feeling down, or sorry for myself – I don't have to search for my dose of positivity too hard. God has Blessed me with each of you, and you all have played a part in who I am and continue to be...I'm so very proud to call you all my friends!

To “Keets:” words are never enough. You are a part of who I was yesterday, today, and yes – even tomorrow! Guess that's how the term “soul sister” came into being! I'll love you forever - remember I've always got your back...

I'd like to close with (probably) my favorite childhood song - I first learned it as a Brownie (at about the age of six) in the U.S. Girl Scouts, and we sang this "round" near campfires throughout my years as a Girl Scout:

“Make new friends, but keep the old...one is Silver and the other Gold.”
Girl Scouts U.S.A. - campfire song

Pretty much says it all, don't ya think?

Pay it forward – spread a smile!

Monday, January 25, 2010

"An Introduction..."

Recently asked to join a group of writers at another Blog, it was requested that I "introduce myself" to my fellow writers and readers by furnishing a short bio of myself.

Since I haven't "properly" done that here, I decided to offer you the piece I posted today over at Writer's Rising. Writing this gave me the opportunity to more deeply explain my decision to explore the world of creative writing, and the new "age" of blogging! I encourage you to explore this other blog, and the fine collection of various writers there.

...as the “new kid on the block” it has been requested that I introduce myself! While I'm certainly no kid, I did recently make a mid-life decision to revisit a life-long dream of mine....to further explore the world of creative writing and my possible place within it. Putting my personal thoughts to paper has sometimes been a difficulty for me – I still have vivid memories of several attempts I've made over the years to begin (hand-written) journals - the challenge lasting maybe a few months, then eventually loosing my momentum and desire.

I discovered the world of blogging late last year – this medium opened up a whole new vista of possibilities to me. Thus, my desire to leave a footprint...a mark...perhaps even a legacy to my family and my world community has been restored. More than just a recording of my day-to-day activities and the important milestones I've experienced within my life (and that of my family), I began to realize that a blog was a form of communication – an opportunity to not only express my inner-most thoughts and personal views of the world around me, but the chance to exchange emotions and viewpoints with other individuals the world over.

This new opportunity has lead me to some wonderful discoveries. The mere process of reading and exploring another person's thoughts, views, and reactions to the world around them brings us profoundly closer together. Cyberspace in general, makes this infinitely easier. But through the personal window of a blogger, we are permitted to discover each other's humor, sadness, joy, wisdom, insight, spirituality, and so much more. The world indeed, becomes a much “smaller” place. I don't believe I will ever tire of feeling the thrill of learning that someone else “out there” is feeling or has felt about something the same way that I do. In addition, by accepting and absorbing views and feelings that differ from mine, I have expanded my vision and personal boundaries. I'm prepared, now, when others begin to question me about the importance or significance of writing a blog: I understand how it brings me closer to the world at large, and that I become an active rather than passive player upon its stage.

My family – like all families - has certainly dealt with its share of toils, troubles, heart-ache, illness, death, and pain. However, we've also been blessed with an amazing number of Joys. When first making the decision to begin a blog, I struggled with the question of what “genre,” which direction, my blog-writing should take. There were and are so many wonderful and creative “mommy-blogs” out there, and while each of us is more than capable of sharing unique and individual stories, I felt that I didn't quite fit that shoe.

My husband (and most of my family) will tell you that I tend to perpetually wear a pair of rose-colored glasses. I heartily admit that I've had some (extremely) low points of self-esteem and sadness in my life, but I almost always bounce back, remaining the “cock-eyed optimist” that I am. I most certainly am not claiming to be perfect - believe me, I'm still working on ironing out some personal issues at the age of fifty! But more-often-than-not, you'll find me searching for the positive part of any situation - or person, for that matter.

Thus, it made perfect sense that I focus my energies, my gifts, on seeking out the positive in all that I undertook while writing for my blog. My desire is that while continuing to learn about, absorb, and appreciate the world around me (in the company and in guidance of fellow writers), that I return a smile, a small slice of Joy...a brief respite for my fellow travelers on this journey we call life. I am SO looking forward to meeting other writers and readers via Writer's Rising, and rubbing elbows with those I now consider my teachers and colleagues.

I'm humbled and grateful that you landed here, chose to read my thoughts, and are sharing the ride with me!

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Imagine my surprise a couple days ago, when I opened a message - via a fellow-blogger - to view her recent posting to receive "a gift."

I immediately did as she requested, and there my name had been generously added to a list of bloggers she has come to enjoy and personally resonate with. Katherine at Lessons From The Monk I Married is a seasoned and gifted writer....I consider myself one of the new "kids" in this world of blogging, and she has already become a mentor and example to me!

Katherine has traveled and experienced more of the world than most of us will ever even dream about....though I have figured out that I am her "senior" (only in years!), her wisdom and truly enlightened view of our human spirit continues to be an inspiration and education to me.

Because I personally consider this fellow-writer as a mentor and teacher, you can appreciate my feelings of humble gratitude for her act of recognition and kindness. Receiving this small confidence-booster brought to mind something I've always believed in, and try to practice as often as I can. What we consider a "small" word of kindness or encouragement, can mean infinitely so much more to someone who may not realize they've touched your life in some way. Taking the time to extend a thank you, or recognition for a job-well-done, or supporting any form of heart-felt effort never gets old. We all need to hear those words of encouragement, support, and bravo!

In today's world of "I need it immediately" and "what's in it for me," how often do we take the time to thank someone for their hospitality, a friendly transaction, or "going the extra mile?" Many of us have emailed or hand-written notes and letters of dis-satisfaction and complaint. But how often do we remember to verbalize our appreciation or thoughts of "Well Done!" to someone?

For example: There have been a few teachers over the course of our three son's lives that I actually wrote letters of acknowledgement and appreciation to. I wanted - actually needed - them to know how much they had touched that particular child's life. Deep within me, I knew that such letters would most likely become treasured keepsakes and reminders of their life's calling as a teacher for many years.

"Awards" or trophies can definitely be testaments of our efforts - we've all attempted to be "the best" at something. But all the trophies, awards, or certificates of merit can't hold a candle to personal words of praise and affirmation. Particularly when those words come from others we serve, love, and admire.

What a gift - what a treasure - when we are the recipients of such pats on the back. As Katherine Jenkins wrote in a recent posting: "I have heard of bloggers who don't accept awards. I accept them with open arms...why not? When we spread the love and gratitude around, we have more love and gratitude to give."

In that regard, as a recipient of this little blogging recognition, I am to pay-it-forward, by listing 10 things that make me happy, followed by a listing of ten of my favorite blogs:

Ten things that make me happy (in no particular order!):

1. My 3 boys!
2. My husband.
3. Our household of pets (see my profile for a listing of the furry kids.)
4. Singing (& music in general.)
5. A great book- read in a comfy chair, a quiet room, with a hot beverage, my pooch beside me!
6. Organizing/cleaning....(I know, that sounds truly anal, doesn't it?)
7. Writing!
8. Gardening/working in the yard on a beautiful day.
9. Sitting with my feet in the sand on a sunny beach.
10. Making/creating gifts for friends and family.

Ten of my favorite blogs (again, in no particular order!):

1. "Lessons From The Monk I Married" - Katherine Jenkins http://lessonsfromthemonkimarried.blogspot.com/

2. "Mod Podge Rocks" - Amy Anderson

3. "I'd Rather Be Blogging" - Maureen Kuppe

4. "My Favorite Things" - Molly Elmer

5. "Writer's Rising" - various contributors

6. "One Woman's DayDreams" - Lady Of The Lake

7. "Thoughts Along Life's Highway" - Lois Houston

8. "The Positivity Blog" - Henrik Edberg

9. "Dooce" - Heather Armstrong

10. "Ugly OverLoad" - Raging Wombat

To those I've mentioned here, I sincerely thank you for allowing me to follow your progress, sneak a peek into your lives, and learn from your example!

Still a newbie in the blogging world, I continue to discover blogs that are inspirational, humorous, moving, fun, and joys to read. Thank you for sharing your talents - and yourselves - with the world.

And to my new friend, Katherine: You are a Blessing and a gift - I look forward to absorbing your wisdom and teachings in the days to come! Peace.

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Inspirational Reading"

I recently finished reading "The Last Lecture" - an amazing story of courage, dreaming and achieving your goals, perseverance, and just....living.

The story was that of Randy Pausch - quite a few readers may recognize the name, as he gained fame and notoriety after the academic community released his inspiring story to the public, and shows such as Good Morning America and Oprah clamored to have him appear on their programs. I remember catching his appearance on Oprah a little over a year ago, and watching segments of this taped "last lecture" on her program. It was both heart-breaking, and yet extremely inspiring.

Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and at the age of only 46, was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. Always an optimist, this young, fun-loving and inspiring professor was motivated to give his "last lecture," triggered by an age-old question - "what would you do if you had only six months to live?" His moving lecture, which focused on how to live, so exemplified the virtues of grace, hope, love and courage, that it encouraged the entire university to carry his message, and it spread to millions throughout the U.S. and eventually the world.

The lecture was video-taped, and was re-played by various news and media sources over the course of his illness...Randy had no idea that his message would go on to touch the lives of millions of people. Originally meant to be a lasting legacy to his family, students and colleagues, Randy deeply desired to share the lessons and life-experiences that he believed truly shaped and cultivated his optimistic zest for life, and achieving his dreams. While it was basically a record of virtues and attributes he came to believe were essential to achieving your greatest desires, Randy's final lecture - "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" - was also a lesson in having fun. Published after his famous talk, the book goes on to include how it IS possible to make your life meaningful, abundant, and worthwhile every day.

This book was so full of life, so full of optimism and hope, that I found it almost unbelievable that Randy lost his battle with cancer on July 25, 2008. I already knew (prior to purchasing the book) that he had passed away, and when I came to the final chapters of his book, I was astounded that I was feeling both grief and happiness. Even though Randy Pausch died over a year ago, and the world has lost a phenomenal spirit of Joy and Hope, his recorded thoughts and teachings will continue to be a noble example of "seizing every moment....because time is all you have....and you may find one day that you have less than you think."

The experience of reading this book was yet another poignant illustration to me that even in the face of death, in great sorrow - we can find Joy. Through the tears there can be laughter, there can be humour...there can be hope. Only a couple-hundred pages long, I sincerely recommend this small, yet totally fulfilling book to everyone....particularly young adults as they embark on choosing or beginning new careers and making significant life-choices. I'll definitely be encouraging my three sons to read it!

You may read more about Randy Pausch's amazing life and view video of his final lecture at the following website:

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer."

Picture and quotations from "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch.

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"They're Not Heavy - They're Our Brothers...."

In a world suddenly filled with pictures of destruction, death, heart-break and loss, how can I possibly find something "positive" to write about?

The almost hourly reports coming out of Haiti today are staggering, to say the least. Each time I view new pictures on television of this country's devastation, my eyes are - for some reason - riveted to the screen in horror and sorrow for these broken people. I want to look away, but can't....perhaps it is because I'm in such disbelief of the sheer magnitude of this catastrophe.

The last report that I, personally, heard this afternoon on the local news was that the Red Cross had currently (at that moment) predicted the death toll to be "at least" 50,000. That was when I actually did start to cry....."at least?" At that moment, my heart (and my mind) just couldn't fathom the extent of the destruction, or the massive loss of life. I realize that it will be days, perhaps months before we know the actual number of lives lost in this travesty, but from today's reports it appears that the current predictions will not be far off. In the days to come, most of the world will be coping with these same feelings of disbelief...trying to come to "grips" with the reality of what the people of Haiti are facing....yet unable to even fully imagine what their world must be like.

How do we remain in a "positive" frame of mind when faced with life's largest sorrows? How do we continue to lead our own lives, while others are in such obvious need and pain? From an "armchair" observer of history's current events, I offer the following:

First, we grieve. Along with those brothers and sisters who are suffering...though we are not participants, we attempt to share in their pain, their loss, their grief.

Second, we ACT. We offer ourselves in the way(s) that each of us is most able....physically, financially, spiritually. Each of us is capable of offering at least one particular gift - for that is what makes us, as humans, unique and individuals. Already, medical personnel from the world over are beginning to volunteer their services to the thousands of injured in Haiti. The word is out - via the Internet, radio, television - that just a donation of $10.00 will be so valuable in relief efforts. And in every country, on each continent, people from every religion and spiritual persuasion have lifted their hearts and souls in prayer for the multitudes currently feeling so lost and hopeless.

Third,we focus. It can be so easy to loose ourselves in the grief and despair that comes with such loss. It can be easy, too, to complain and obsess with how or why things happen, or with what "doesn't" get done, or who didn't help, or who's "fault" it is. In order to make healing possible, in order to progress and move forward, we must focus on those things that are useful, positive, and constructive. While a host of negative and horrible situations will certainly come as a result of such calamities, it also gives us the opportunity to unite as a world community. Already, nations from the entire globe are generating aid - countries are working together to ensure that aid is generated and delivered. Sure enough - it won't be perfect, but it will be done! There will be amazing stories of heroism, compassion, friendship, and love. And after each recognition of grief, we will need to focus on today - the positive - and the future.
Fourth,we remember. "Rome wasn't built in a day." Such disasters aren't overcome or "fixed" over night. People living in such destitute conditions won't be in a new home within a week....those of us on the outside must continue to remember that the reconstruction, rehabilitation and renewal will be on-going. For years, most likely. Our obligation, as fellow inhabitants of this global community, is to continue "checking in" with those less fortunate, examining and reviewing their progress in healing - continuing to lend a hand when needed.

I certainly don't claim to have all the answers in such monumental moments of history...but I do know that history has shown what we are capable of in the face of such sadness.

While the news from Haiti is still so very raw and heart-wrenching, I remain confident and strong in my belief that the people of the United States - and the world - will unite in their efforts to comfort and help this small, and desperate country.

We are already on the move: to make a contribution, or obtain more information on Haiti relief efforts, you may visit one of the following websites:

*The U.S. State Department suggested making donations by text message: If you text HAITI to 90999, a $10 donation to the Red Cross will be charged to your cell phone bill.

*Red Cross online:

*William J. Clinton foundation:

*Americares: 1-800-486-HELP -or-

*American Jewish World Service: www.ajws.org/haitiearthquake

*Catholic Relief Services: 1-877-HELP-CRS -or-
These are just SOME of the nationally recognized organizations that are accepting donations for relief in Haiti. PLEASE be very prudent and careful in donating to unfamiliar organizations asking for monetary donations for Haiti - a few have already popped up, and are most likely fraudulent.
My heart is lifted in prayer for the people of Haiti.....and I also give thanks to God for the gift of living in a nation and world where we still recognize and act upon the needs of others.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where

But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there

For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That every one's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share

And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy he's my brother

He's my brother
He ain't heavy, he's my brother

He Ain't heavy....He's My Brother - by Bobby Scott & Bob Russell

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Image courtesy of Google Images

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Snow Day!"

North Georgia, like much of the rest of the country, has been experiencing some highly unusual weather of late. Extremely cold temperatures - way below freezing in fact - have blasted the southeastern portion of the country, and last night most of the northern half of the state was blanketed in snow and ice by midnight.

This part of the country isn't prone to this severe weather very often. Therefore, we lack sufficient heavy equipment to clear roads of snow or salt for "black ice" when a snow front finally does come barreling through. When this happens, us transplanted Northerners (translated: "Yankees") are usually in amazement when the entire metropolitan area of Atlanta seems to "shut down." Entire school systems close, colleges are put in holding patterns, and everything just comes to a screeching halt. Local television stations air reports of emergency personnel and police forces recommending everyone in the viewing area "to just stay indoors!"

I've listened to quite a few northerners (who haven't resided in the south for a very long time) complain about, laugh at, and sometimes slam the state of Georgia for these closings and precautions. There usually follows a long oration of how they grew up in the midwest/north/east/northeast/mountains..... wherever; and how they can drive in any kind of foul weather (complete with stories of living through some of the "worst" winter storms on record!). Doesn't matter that we receive more ice than snow in the south....seems people in the south just "don't know how to drive in nasty weather conditions."

As one of those former "Yankees," I can honestly say that I, too, was utterly shocked when I first experienced a freak winter storm here in Georgia back in 1983. This occurred the week that we moved here - immediately following our wedding - my new husband and I had the hair-raising experience of traveling with a moving van in one of the worst ice-storms the state had seen in many years. Needless to say, I had no idea that winter storms like this could happen in "the south," and it made the entire episode of leaving home and family that much more heart-breaking!

I completely understand how someone who was raised in a colder climate can be stunned when first encountering the excitement, last-minute-shopping, premature closings and constant monitoring of the local news stations that herald the (possible) coming of any winter precipitation here in the south. After all - us Yankees grew up in areas where you learned to how to drive in several feet of snow and how to "turn into" a slide when your car hits a slick patch of packed snow or ice at the age of 15!

I've been in Georgia now for 26 years. My blood has thinned out, and I know for certain that I'm not used to those frigid temperatures any longer. (Call it my age, but it has been a long time since I had to endure more than just a few days of freezing temperatures!) However - I really try not to complain about the wintry weather we do get in the south. Because I know what it could be I try to remain positive about it, even though I find myself dreaming of white sandy beaches, tropical drinks and sunsets along with everyone else!

Though we did have a couple days where we lacked some sunshine, and even though snow and ice did cover a good many side roads, bridges, homes and trees today, the sun did come out. Though temperatures were still below freezing, children and families were given the thrill of sledding down hills and in yards, took peaceful walks through snow-quieted neighborhoods where a touch of ice or snow turned everything into works of glistening art, drank cocoa and sat together near warm, usually untouched fireplaces.

There's almost always a positive spin to something - if you look hard enough. Standing on my front and back porches, I didn't have to look very hard. That which has been drab and dirty looking is now covered in white, and even though it's only for a moment, my young men are at home enjoying a "snow day" with mom and dad. I'm off to play a board game with them - won't be able to do that much longer!

Hope you have a beautiful snow day - week - even month! (Remember, it won't last forever!)

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Paying Attention"

Something very cool happened to me this morning. Call it an epiphany, "light-bulb moment," a close-encounter of the spiritual kind - whatever - I prefer to call this a "Hellooooo......McFly" moment.
Remember the movie "Back To The Future" starring Michael J. Fox? There is a scene in the movie where the bully, "Biff" has grabbed George McFly and starts rapping on his head saying "Hello - McFly!" and the phrase has hung around in conversation since 1985. (I can honestly say our family has repeated it several times!)
What I experienced this morning can only be described as God grabbing my attention, and (practically) rapping on my head.
I've always joked with my husband that he seems to be able to receive obvious and discernible answers to his prayers or conversations with God. Whenever I've been faced with a major decision or cross-roads in my life, it seems that answers and direction never come easy for me!
We learned this past week that a dearly-loved and former priest from our parish was recently diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, emails and phone calls have been flying around the community, alerting our church family to unite in prayer for this extraordinary man. Our women's council has really gotten "the ball rolling" by enlisting our council members and their families to pray the rosary each day until his surgery later this month. They then will send him a card with the names of those participating and the number of rosaries offered up in his behalf.
Not only is this call a chance to join in a common purpose with my faith community in the spirit of love and prayer, it is another opportunity for me to grow in discipline. When I first responded to the request to offer a daily rosary, I imagined myself taking some quiet time each evening, probably just before bedtime, to spend in prayer and recite the rosary. After all, this was another one of my New Year's resolutions - to develop a better habit of daily prayer, meditation and perhaps a little scripture reading. Adding the rosary for my former pastor was surely an added inspiration.

Today after my usual morning routine, I decided to color my hair. Now, the decision to do this myself (again, after about 8 years of having someone else do it) is a whole other blog on its own! Anyway - after applying the color and discovering that I had to wait an entire half-hour for the product to effectively cover all my gray - I put a plastic cap on, turned on the television in our bedroom, and proceeded to look for something interesting to watch while I waited. I couldn't find anything. "The View" was a re-run, there weren't any interesting shows on the "Home and Garden Channel," and even the shows on the classic movie channels were ones I had seen just way too many times. Funny thing is, in-between clicking the remote, I kept thinking that "I should start that rosary....read another chapter in my bible...." I really did. I must have stood there in my old pajamas and a plastic bag on my head clicking away at the remote control for a good ten minutes. Nothing was capturing my interest on that television. I finally decided "what better time than now?" I selected one of the music channels playing soft, "new age" type melodies, and sat down near my bible and a couple of the other devotional-type books I occasionally read.

I picked up my small devotional book first - entitled "Daily Wisdom for Women" - designed to be read daily, with the day of the month printed on each page. I turned to January 6 - each day's reading begins with a bible verse, and today's was from Psalm 5:3: "In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
It had my attention. The short story that followed was a reflection from another mom who shared how she developed a habit of rising before anyone else in her family, in order to have time alone to pray. Wow. It hit me - I've been enjoying the feeling of snuggling in my big king-size bed under the warm and fluffy comforter with my honey way too long...I've become a little too complacent recently. Cold weather and a long holiday break aside, I knew when reading this, that the time had come for me to put aside this lazy luxury and devote at least a little time to my spiritual health.

But the real kicker came when I read the short prayer at the bottom of the page:

"Lord, I wander around like those who have no hope, forgetting to ask You for wise solutions to my dilemmas. Help me remember to come to You before I start my day."

There it was....."HELLO - McFLY !!!!!"

Considering what had just occurred, and what I had been contemplating this morning, I was seriously humbled - tears came to my eyes. He heard. God answered me. Maybe not in the way I was expecting, but He listened....and then got my attention. Yep - He pretty much had to hit me over the head, but it worked. As I continued to sit there in my chair with my stinky, gooky hair in a plastic bag and my pajamas on, I continued to read a short chapter in my my bible, and then prayed a rosary. The half-hour I could have spent just mindlessly watching T.V. became a true moment of enlightenment in my life.

I've briefly mentioned before that our family like many others, has experienced some hardships over the past year or so. And while I do take time for prayer and worship, my personal life of devotion has seriously slipped of late. That little prayer at the bottom of today's daily devotional really said it all - I need to start my day by speaking with God, reflecting on His word, and (even if only for a moment) meditating on how I can be a better child of God over the course of the coming day.

I've always known that He's there. I just forget to recognize his presence in the every day "stuff" - the little surprises, the opportunities given, the people I meet or talk to. It makes sense to me now: by taking the opportunity to get myself up a little earlier and "stealing" away for some quiet time with God, I'm actually devoting time to me. Call it an exercise in spiritual health (if you will) - but I know that by doing so I will continue to gain understanding, wisdom, and most importantly, faith. For once in my life, He's made it perfectly clear...I just need to seize the day!
May God Bless you today with an "Ah-ha!" moment, a "light-bulb" moment, or even a "Hello! McFly." (Just be sure to listen!)

Pay it forward - spread a smile!

Prayer and excerpts taken from "Daily Wisdom for Women," Carol L. Fitzpatrick (Barbour Publishing, Inc.)

Image courtesy of Google images.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Low-Impact Effort"

Well....I did it. Signed up for an aerobics class. Yep. Part of the New Year's resolution thing, and after our first class this evening, I can honestly say that I'm hoping I got what it takes to continue and stick out the six week schedule (and hopefully beyond!)

I haven't joined an exercise class in about 8 years....and the last one was "just" a yoga class. Now aerobics - that's a horse of a different color! Thank goodness I was encouraged by a fellow buddy from church to look into something this year - without a girlfriend to chum along with, I really don't think I could handle the whole experience! After chatting with her one evening after church and discovering that we both needed to loose almost the same amount of weight and had similar health-goals in mind, I knew I had to get into something - anything, and give it my best shot. I thought, "what the hell - I walked my first 5K back in September, completed it and survived - I should be able to handle this, right?"

Supposedly this class is what they call a "low-impact" aerobics class....I think it's just because the floor is nicely padded. I read that the instructors would be incorporating some "Zumba" moves once a week into this 3-days-per-week class. I took this to mean that there was just some Latin dance moves thrown in for a little variety and "excitement." Well...... WOW. What else can I say, except....WOW. I learned that we would be doing this "Zumba" stuff every Monday evening. Let me tell you.....I used to think I was a pretty good dancer. But, holy cow.....after watching the instructor wiggle, jiggle, and literally vibrate her (very tiny, round and firm) butt all over the floor (while exhibiting AMAZINGLY buff arms), I felt immediately and totally uncoordinated! Of course witnessing my now large and mid-life self in the full-length mirrors during this evening's selection of chili-pepper-hot Latin tunes was most encouraging. I would have been melting down in an utter laugh riot, had I not been concentrating so hard on getting the steps down. (but that will take a while!)

I could have left that class feeling very sorry for myself...I mean, after all - several of the other women in the class really seemed to know what they were doing. And that instructor - well, that's what she does for a living, right? She's supposed to look like that! But you know what? Even though I left knowing that I have some serious catching up to do, I felt okay. A little winded maybe, but good. And I'm not the only middle-aged woman in the class with some weight to loose - I'm not alone. A couple were actually quite a bit older than me - "if they can do it, I can do it!"

This is precisely why I needed to join a group to get motivated. Some of us really need the camaraderie of others to help us along a challenge - I'm one of them. Actually, I think most people will benefit from having the companionship of someone else who's experiencing or attempting a similar goal. Whether it be a college course, study group, exercise class - anything - it helps to have another person around to bounce ideas off of and share ideas with. While this doesn't have to be a close friend, finding someone to sharing a growth or learning experience with does merit some important points: they should share some of your immediate goals; be willing to provide you with honest and constructive feedback; and be willing to commit to the entire duration of the project or goal, while encouraging you to do so as well!

While a small part of me was feeling my age and weight-gain (okay, I wouldn't be human and a girl if I didn't), it really brightened my outlook on the whole exercise/weight loss/diet process knowing that I had started to meet some other people who obviously were there working on similar goals. It also occurred to me that they weren't looking at me and what I was doing the whole time - each person was concentrating on their own personal performance and effort. As well it should be....doesn't matter that I don't have cool and fancy workout clothes, no make-up, my old glasses on and contact lenses missing, my desired weight currently off-target. We were all there together focusing on a common effort and desire - though we just met, the feelings of support and encouragement were definitely present.

I'm now looking forward to my next aerobics class....I know I've got some catching up to do, but I know I'm in good company. Combining effort with a partner(s) is much more "low-impact!"

"Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that's real power." - Clint Eastwood
Pay it forward - spread a smile!
Clip Art courtesy of Google images.

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Looking Forward To The Future"

Welcome to 2010, everyone!
My husband and I did something very different last night for New Year's Eve (well, for us anyway!): we stayed at home, and did.....virtually nothing!
At first, I thought maybe it was a sign that we were getting older. Actually, we've had a couple of sick kids in the house this week, and between all of us just needing to "kick back" and relax, we really didn't need to spend any money on hosting or attending a big New Year's celebration. To me, last night turned out to be a special Blessing.
All the boys were home for dinner last night, and we shared a simple but delicious meal of home-made turkey and rice soup, and fresh bread. I then attended Mass at our local parish in celebration of the "Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God," celebrated on January 1st of each year. While this particular feast day in the Catholic church holds its own special importance and meaning to us as Catholics, last night's Mass and the homily our pastor shared with us was particularly poignant at the start of this new year, and new decade. I couldn't help but notice how full the church was last night, and I could tell by looking at the sea of faces in the congregation (I lead music as a Cantor) that Father's message on this New Year's Eve was touching everyone... the sense of hope and anticipation was definitely palpable.
I'm ashamed to say that I don't remember the last time I attended Mass on New Year's Eve. My youngest son attended the service with me last night, and I mentioned to him as we were leaving that "it just felt - right." My son agreed, and we discussed how appropriate it was to begin the new year in that spirit of peace, reflection, and hope.
Through the remainder of the evening as we quietly "chilled" together in front of the television, I began to recognize the ways we celebrate, and then understand why we celebrate the coming of a new year. Yes, it's the beginning of another start, another chance.....a "do-over." But more importantly, I believe it's because we're grateful for the renewed gift of hope.
As I watched several television hosts interview various celebrities and members of the public within their live audiences, I noted that many of them made reflections on the many difficulties and hardships our country (and the world) continued to experience in 2009. While it seems that everyone had some sort of comment on either the economy, the war, health care concerns or the relations of our world in general, it occurred to me that everyone was also happy. Not dwelling on the past, not dwelling on the negatives, not dwelling on all the things that have gone "wrong..." but hopeful for what can be.
Hope. Without dreams and visions of greater possibilities we are lost - stuck in an endless loop of treading water, doing the same things the same way. Without hope and the ability to dream, the human race would never accomplish, achieve, or improve. The word "future" would not be in our vocabularies, for what would we have to look forward to?
Like many of you, throughout 2009 our family experienced much: heartaches, health-scares, tragedies, financial woes. Yet in between these "speed-bumps" we've also experienced the gift of new friendships, strengthened or re-kindled relationships, lessons learned, accomplishments made and personal victories won. I can honestly say (even though it is in hind-sight!) that I wouldn't change a thing....well, maybe the financial part! But we've continued to grow, even through the "bad" stuff, and I know deep within that 2010 will hold just as much, if not more, of those same gifts for each and every one of us.
A New Year is a time to celebrate, and look forward. And when mankind looks toward the future together - in a spirit of hope - our dreams and desires, even if held only briefly, are the same. Basically, we all want the same things - worldwide, black or white, male or female, young or old: to love and be loved, health, shelter and safety, peace in our future and our children's future. Anything else (in my opinion) is icing on the cake.
"The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started."
- Norman Cousins (American Essayist and Editor)
As you begin your New Year, may you and yours look toward the future with great expectation and Joy, and may you be Blessed with hope in all you attempt or undertake.
"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
Pay it forward - spread a smile!
Clip-art courtesy of Google images.