Happy Fourth of July ~

“Freedom’s natal day is here.  Fire the guns and shout for freedom, see the flag above unfurled!  Hail the stars and stripes forever, Dearest flag in all the world.”

~  Florence A. Jones ~

Old Glory

Old Glory

Happy 4th of July!  

While celebrating, let us remember the significance of this day, as well as the individuals that strived for our freedom, along with the men and women that continuously work to preserve our liberty.

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Thank you Mr. Emerson ~

This morning while turning the pages of one of my favorite authors, this verse touched my heart.  The words of Ralph Waldo Emerson always resonate with me, causing me to pause a bit and wonder.

Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

The verse forced me to stop and examine how often I follow these wise words, and how often that I allow fret and anxiety to invade my space.

This new year, 2014, is going to be full of many best days, as that is what I’m choosing to write on my heart each and every day.

Write on your heart~

Write on your heart~

There is no doubt that there will be days that will kick my rear-end; however, those days will not define the rest.  They will be dealt with directly, and pushed aside so that I can continue on the journey of my life.

Happy New Year to you all, and with that… will you join me in looking for the good in every day… and setting the garbage aside for pick-up?

Posted in Gratitude, Reading, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Gift ~

It didn’t matter what it was ~ jewelry, a book, a teddy bear, or a simple little dish that was picked up at the flea market.  This price tag, whether high or low, just didn’t matter.

It was the manner in how the gift box was presented that made the difference.  Mom cared.  Regardless of its content, the box was always presented with detail.  I didn’t always understand why, but I do now.

The tissue paper that lined the box, protecting and hiding its content, was always handled so delicately – each piece folded back and doubled over with care.

The wrapping paper that was used on the outside… always the perfect choice for the person receiving the gift.

The bow ~ oh, the bows were a work of art; the additional time that was spent fluffing and cutting the ribbon.

Love and care ~

Love and care ~

You see, it wasn’t always about the object that was hiding within, that I focused on.  It was the great amount of time and thought that went into the preparation of the box, that to me was a gift in itself.

The presentation was not about perfection; it was about life.

She truly handled it with love and care ~

Posted in Christmas, Gratitude, Holidays, Mom, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Santa’s Simple Request ~

Ever since I was a little girl, I have been enamored with Santa, or the mere thought of him.  What is his secret?  How does he stay so happy all of the time, even when little children are screaming to get away from him?  What is his magical technique for spreading Christmas joy?

My first visit to Santa brings back memories of mixed emotions.  The excitement of meeting this amazing man, who traveled the world in a night, and the apprehension of sitting with this stranger seemed all too confusing, for this skittish little girl of five years old.

My first visit with Santa ~

My first visit with Santa ~

Once it was my turn, I made my way up to the big man.  He could sense my apprehension, so he started talking about Rudolph, Mrs. Claus and all of his helpers.  He established how important his family was to him, and how each one was necessary in their different roles.  Each member of his family had a purpose to help one another, so that he would be able to deliver the gifts of toys and good cheer; they were all equally important in the preparation of his delivering happiness to all.

He asked me if I behaved my parents, and if I treated my little brother kindly.  He was now focusing on my family.  Now I couldn’t tell a lie, because I knew this man saw everything.  All. Year. Long.  Whew, that’s a lot of pressure for a five-year old.  So I told the truth~ I made mistakes, but for the most part I was a help to my mom and dad, and I loved my new brother; however, I was worried about having to share my parents with him. 

He replied with his jolly ole laugh and said, “Mistakes happen and that’s ok,  you just don’t want to keep making the same ones over and over again.  And as for your little brother, sharing good people and kindness with each other will just make our world a happier place to be.”

We didn’t really talk about toys very much because I figured that he was Santa, and he already knew.  He more or less had me mesmerized with his kind and gentle voice; he seemed to have this wonderful compassion for the world, and it twinkled through his eyes.

To this day, some forty-seven years later, I will wink, nod, and give him a gentle wave, as I pass by during his busy time of the year.  You see, I still believe.  He may not shimmy down our chimney, but he passes on the good cheer, as he encourages the little children to help their family, to be a caring brother or sister, or conveys the importance of sharing and kindness.  I guess that one could say, he’s kind of my super hero.

Several days ago, HUBS and I were out enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, taking in all the decorations and festivities.  We walked past Santa, as he was stretching and taking a break from the little tykes.  He waved and smiled, as if he remembered us both from many, many years back.  The guy just has that wonderful way about him.

I stopped and asked him if he had a second, and of course he did.  He always has all the time in the world, or so it seems.  I asked him a question that caused him some confusion, and I could see it on his face.  He had no trouble coming up with the answer, it was the fact that I had to ask the question that troubled him.

"Of course, but it's really so simple!"

“Of course, but it’s really so simple!”

He said, “Hey Red, how are you doing?  It’s been a few years, how are your children?”

“Oh Santa, it’s so good to see you, and thanks for asking… they seem to be doing very well.  By the way, I have a request for you… it might seem pretty hefty, but it’s worth asking.”

“No problem,” he said, “go ahead, let me hear it.”

“Well, there’s not much that I want for myself this year, but rather something that I would like for ALL of us, and I mean ALL of us.  Do you remember years ago, when you talked to me about the importance of helping each other, and that we all have our own special roles in this life, as well as the importance of sharing?”

He quietly and solemnly uttered, “Well, yes I do.”

“Santa, I’d like to ask a huge favor and I know that many other people feel the same way.  Would you please bring us world peace?”

Santa smiled and said, “Now Red, you know I will ~ consider it done; however, there is one condition.  I will deliver world peace, as long as everyone is kind and offers a smile to everyone they encounter; it’s really that simple!”

I smiled, thanked him, and wished him a very Merry Christmas, and let him get back to the little ones.

I turned and smiled at HUBS and stated, “It really could be that simple, couldn’t it?”

Let’s all do our part and amaze this world of ours, with the peace that we all have to offer one another!  

Photo credit:  2nd image – Don Rives

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How Do You Envision Your Hook?

The afternoon started with a loud clap, that of what seemed to be cracking thunder.  As Oldest described it, “It was as if I watched it all happen in slow motion.”  Isn’t that how accidents seem to happen?  You’re aware of what’s taking place, but it all seems surreal, as your eyes try to take it all in.

Earlier that morning, I had moved all of our outside chairs and hanging flower pots close to the exterior of our house, into a corner that is rarely bothered by high winds and rain.  Living on the East Coast, I was doing what I could do to control the negative effects of flying objects from Tropical Storm Andrea.  While not being directly on the Coast, the wind and rain from these hurricane season storms can definitely cause the inland some damage.  One weather report had stated that our area was to endure heavy rain, with gusting winds of 35-45 miles per hour.  Moving patio chairs and garden objects that had the potential to behave as though they had sprouted angry wings just seemed like a smart thing to do.

The rain came, but not the torrential downpour that I’d thought we would receive; however, it was a long and steady rain.  The wind gusted here and there, but not the threatening wind that forces me to sit within an interior room with no windows.  I thought that I was prepared, but some events are out of one’s control ~ they just happen.

While I was attempting to organize a disorganized laundry-room, Oldest broke into her best rendition of, “Mom, Mom, come here quickly… hurry up!”  These words usually equate to me finding evidence of digestion gone-bad, thanks to Scruffy.  He still likes to get into food that he shouldn’t have, and it still likes to disagree with him.  This call for my attention had nothing to do with the Scruffster; it had to do with our backyard.  Our garden was sporting a whole new look!

In an instant, our garden had gone from this ~

The irony of posting this photo on FB, Thursday ~

The irony of posting this photo on FB, Thursday ~

to this ~

... and seeing this on Friday ~

… and seeing this on Friday ~

For those of you who know me, you’re probably wondering what set of 4-letter words  that I strung together.  You’d be surprised ~ my words were, “oh, my!”  The rain was steady, the wind wasn’t freakishly strong, and the tree had all signs of being healthy ~ Oh. My.  It’s all I could say.

On went my raincoat, and up went the umbrella ~ I had to go out and walk the yard; survey the damage, so to speak.  The peaceful Dogwood that sparkles at night had taken a direct hit; it was hard to tell where the damaging tree stopped and where the Dogwood started.  All I could see was a jumbled mess of leaves and branches.

While taking in the new garden, I was afraid to look into the center.  The center is where we have placed Freida’s bird bath.  It’s one of those sentimental objects; it belonged to my husband’s mother, Freida.  She had searched tirelessly, for just the right one, and it had been in her garden, for as long as my husband could remember.

Looking at the size of the branch that had fallen, there was absolutely NO possible way that this treasure could have survived.  Again, I uttered the words, Oh My.  Along with the Dogwood, our Shepherd’s hook that usually holds two hanging plants (plants since removed, due to the impending storm) had also taken quite a beating.  What was once an evenly balanced piece of iron, was now a tangled question mark gently holding the bulk of the fallen branch, that was within inches of crushing the treasure.

Of all things… how symbolic is it that a Shepherd’s hook kept so much from being completely destroyed.  This scene left me wondering what my Shepherd’s hook looks like.  The one that is used to keep danger out of my way ~ well, I imagine that it’s a gnarly dented mess.

It is totally understood that a falling tree, into one’s garden, is a very, very, very small event in the whole scheme of life.  Years ago, I might have said a bit more than , Oh My.  For now, I am thankful for quick-acting and friendly neighbors who called a tree-cutting service, right away;  HUBS , who came home from work and sawed and removed branches in the rain, to preserve what wasn’t damaged; a twisted piece of metal that reminded me of how protected we are, by the unseen Shepherd’s hook ~ the one that guides and protects us, daily.

Posted in Friendship, Gratitude, Nature, Uncategorized, Weather, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Faith to Listen ~

Last year it was faith  the word that I chose to reflect upon throughout the year.   When I mentioned the word faith to a friend, she stated, “Ah ~ Faith… the opposite of fear”.  I love it when someone can state something so clear and simple, yet so powerful at the same time.   In fact, I wrote down Trish’s definition of faith, and it is kept on my desk, where I see it daily.

Faith is something that has usually been fairly easy for me, not always, but usually.  Being raised by women and men of strong faith probably has had something to do with how I feel about it, but my faith also has to do with what I know.  I know that as much as I would like to say that I have complete control over my life and its destiny, I do not.  I can plan with the best of them, but then a few unforeseen monkey wrenches get thrown into the mix, and my so-called plan is in shambles.  The faith part leaves me wondering if my plan was just a stepping-stone to the real plan ~ His plan.  Faith has allowed me to believe in my journey, as it’s my life’s path, knowing that He is guiding me through it.

Now some days, that journey is as pleasant as a hike up a beautiful mountain; it leaves me reflecting on all the beauty that surrounds me.  Other days, the journey may leave me shaking my head, Linda Blair style… a full 360, if it was humanly possible.  Those are the days when the faith is tested, and I remember the words that Mom use to repeat often, this too, shall pass ~  There is a strong comfort in those words, as they bring awareness that many troubles are just road bumps in life, a small sliver of the overall journey.  Just what is it that can be learned from the troubles?  There is always a lesson to be learned, about a situation or yourself; it just takes the ability to listen.  Ram Dass said it best when he stated, “The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

OneWord2013_Listen

Listen ~ My focus word for this year ~

 

This world that we live in is a crazy, fast-paced, hectic, out-of-control, roller-coaster ride on any given day.  Just turn on the news, any news, and that should give anyone reason to wonder, what the hell?  I guess that word faith is being put to the test ~ Big Time!  But when you listen, and hear the lack of common sense in some of what is being reported, it should cause us all to pause and question ~ why?  What is the lesson that we are meant to learn from all of this madness?

Are people not listening to one another?  We can’t communicate with each other, if we’re unwilling to listen; talking is only half of the process of communication.  How many tragedies could be avoided if we all listened with 100% attention?  I’m not saying that we can solve all of the world’s problems, but we can learn to listen more effectively, as well as to speak more assertively.  Who knows, logic might even be heard, if we let go of our own agenda long enough to focus on another’s words and concerns.

You know when listening is not taking place… that moment in the conversation when the speaker is speaking and the listener is saying, “U-huh, u-huh, m-huh, m-huh”.  That’s the moment when I know that my words are coming across as, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah”.  It’s also the moment when I want to break out in song.  Something. Anything, to break the U-huhs!  Just the other day, I had one such conversation, where I was the u-huher, and my daughter was the blah-blaher.  She has more decorum than I, when it comes to being put off.

While wrapping the last of the Christmas gifts, my daughter approached me to tell me about her day.  The gift, right there, is that she still loves to tell me, and she’s a teenager!  Keeping in mind that I was wrapping presents, and not learning surgical skills, I should have listened to her with 99.8% percent of my attention (.2 percent focusing on the scissors).  Seriously, I have wrapped presents for the better part of my life; I could do it blindfolded, and do it well!

As she proceeded with the details of her day, I started the u-huh, u-huh, u-huh – quick nodding of my head, the annoyance of being interrupted.  For crying-out-loud, wrapping-interruptous… doesn’t she know that I don’t have elves?  She quietly walked away in the middle of an u-huh, and I quickly thought, good for her, I would have, too!  What rotten behavior on my part; it left me remembering my parents, and how they attentively listened to me.

It was a different time, a simpler time.  There was no Internet, texting, e-mailing, you know… keeping up with EVERYTHING at the press of a button.  People kept up with the important things, by sitting down and listening.  Talking in the car, talking on the golf course, talking over coffee, it was eye to eye, and there seemed to be more of it.  Talking AND listening.  Sometimes it’s what’s not said, that you hear the most; it’s all in an expression.

This past December, while partaking in the annual Christmas cookie bake-off, I was pleasantly reminded of my father’s ability to listen ~ he still has it.  While my job is to man the oven ~ dough in, cookies out, my daughters and my father mix, decorate, and discuss.  While listening to their conversations about each other’s lives, in general, I’m reminded of the gift of listening; the importance of validating someone’s thoughts and feelings, by eye contact, a touch, or simply rephrasing what was said.  They all three do it well~

This year it is listen… the word that I choose to reflect upon throughout the year.

Not only will I attempt to be a more attentive listener to others, I first must have the faith to listen to myself ~

I did not purposefully choose a word to reflect upon this year, until I was reading a post over at A Deeper Story, which led to One Word 365, which led to Melanie at Only A Breath.  If you are so inclined, please check them out, and contemplate what would your word be for 2013?

It wasn’t easy to come up with just one word, but when looking back on 2012, I felt that “listen”, or lack of it, needed to be focused on.  Sit back, think about it for awhile, and choose a word…

Share your word in the comments section; I’d love to know what word matters to you ~

Image credits:

Post header – D.L. Rives,  Listen image – Melanie of Only A Breath

Posted in Blogging, Christmas, Dad, Etiquette, Holidays, Mom, Parenting, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

A New Year’s Wish For You ~

Let’s all work together, to make this year a more smile-producing year for one another!  Are you in?

Happy New Year

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When Mother Nature Speaks ~

When Mother Nature speaks…

Love ~

… sometimes it’s with a gentle whisper that says, “Realize the love that surrounds you!”

original photo credit:  D. Rives

Posted in Beauty, Blogging, Environment, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Equal Importance ~

It was a peaceful day, a quiet day in the college dorm; a rarity, I’m sure.  As I stood there in Oldest’s dorm room, looking out her window, I was so pleased to see that she had a lovely view of a peaceful path.  The brilliant autumn colors were scattering down to the ground and if I put my imagination to work, it almost felt as though I was in a high-rise tree house amongst the mature pines, tall oaks and dogwoods.

Once I had admired the outer view, I began to take in the room that she now calls home for nine months out of a year.  It’s the typical dorm room… small, two beds, two desks, two built-in dressers and a micro-fridge that requires some creative furniture placement.  The walls were adorned with pictures of old high-school buddies, as well as new college friends; needless to say, it was a good feeling.  Then I saw it ~ a beautiful card with a beautiful quote sitting in the back corner of her desk, placed intentionally so that she would see it, as she settled in to conquer her studies.

Set Your Pace ~ 

“To succeed at any challenge in life, you’ve got to tune out the noise around you ~ the footsteps of others (ahead and behind), distracting “advice,” doubters who tell you it can’t be done.  Instead, focus on your inner voice.  Setting your own goal, charting your course and trusting your instincts take courage, but they are the surest route to crossing your personal finish line a winner.”            ~ author unknown ~                                

The above quote was placed on a hand-made card by my sister-in-law, who takes a great deal of time cutting and pasting from old magazines.  She has a gift for listening and remembering your interests and how they are relevent in your life ~ the path that is your very own.  You should see some of the birthday cards that our family has received; the front, the middle and the back are covered with symbols and words of love that are more meaningful than any store-bought card could ever convey.  Aunt Gayle had taken the mental encouragement so often used in running and fitness, and placed it in the hands of a college student. Oldest knew this card was a keeper, and placed it well.

Oldest ran cross-country in middle school and high school, so she knows a thing or two about the importance of setting one’s pace.  She’s paced fellow runners, in order to help them finish.  Conversely, she’s been the recipient, as her dear friend and teammate ran by her side, in order to help Oldest beat her own personal record on Senior Night.

Pacing, now, is measured more importantly in the academic endurance test.  Not that it didn’t matter in high-school (that’s a post of its own for another day), but this endurance test comes with more independence and more distractions.  That beautiful card and its strategic placement show me that Oldest is well aware of the importance of pacing herself.

One of my many wishes for my oldest daughter is that she will take the time to slow down when the workload becomes too heavy, and to look out upon that peaceful path and relax, reflect and realize her path.  To know that her path and her pace are of equal importance, in the balance of her life.

How do you tune out the distracting noise of others, in order to listen to your inner voice? Does pacing yourself bring you peace?  Please scroll down and leave your thoughts, below~

Quote credit:  found in Self Magazine, author unknown

Posted in Blogging, Education, Fitness, Nature, Relaxation, Running, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Simply, Thank You ~

For all of those that go into harm’s way, in order to keep us safethank you ~

Posted in Gratitude, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments