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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Epic fail, Newsweek

Despite their best intentions, Newsweek failed to put this city down.

Yes, the economy has beaten many people down and some have left for opportunities elsewhere… but labeling Grand Rapids, MI,  a “dying city,”  (more here) only prompted our hearty Midwestern pride to shine even brighter.  A collection of creative Grand Rapidians created the video below showcasing our clean and a friendly Midwestern town – a city I’m proud to call home.

Take a peek; you just might want to come experience Grand Rapids, too.

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Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, music, Opinion, Personal, Random, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Merino A No-No

So, the hubbs loves himself a nice sweater. Not a sweater vest, just a cozy cotton sweater.  He’s always cold and doesn’t hesitate to layer up, even on a Michigan summer night.

I was going through some older photos today and found this one.  Yep, this is is what’s known in our house as the “Merino a -No No.”

What do you do when a merino (wool) sweater takes an unexpected tumble in the dryer?  You put it on the dog and you laugh your face off!

"you guys are ridiots"

Categories: Animals, Family, Fashion, Fun, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Men, Personal, Share, Traditions, Uncategorized | 19 Comments

Time out

the land from which we come

Events of late have left me sad because someone precious to me is hurting. It’s excruciating and nearly debilitating to witness.

I witnessed the pain in his eyes as he cried before us, saying he didn’t know how to go on. That he doesn’t know what to do next or how to live his life without her in it.

I watched as pain’s shadow darkened his beautiful face and prayed  for insightful words to make it all better.

I don’t know what to do, except to listen.

I don’t know what to say, except to comfort.

I don’t know.

I can’t cry any more.

Actually, yes I can (just did).

This life.. it’s all we have.

Why spend it miserable?   Why?

I can’t help but flashback to myself – a young woman in a miserable marriage with a mean spirited person who’d rather put me down than pull me up, for whom no effort was ever enough, for whom I’d never be enough, have enough or do enough.  I remember thinking to myself one night – and I do honestly believe it was the Voice of Spirit reassuring me – “I’d rather be lonely and struggling than be with this person one minute longer.”  And once I heard that – and believed it in my heart that I would be OK – that was it for me.  It took time, but, methodically, I put a plan in place and I did it.  I got us out.  We didn’t have much – my job, a barely running car and an apartment partially filled with garage sale furniture and  used books.  But .. we had each other, my beautiful 3 year old boy and me.  And it was more than enough because finally … we had peace.

Back to today – He hasn’t t asked our permission; he only asked that we listen.  And so we have. But it is so hard to just listen. It’s  our nature to comment, to comfort, and to guide.   Hands off? Suck it up? Get over it?  That’s not how we roll.

But it’s not about us.

Or what we’d tolerate, condone or accept in a relationship.

And so .. we listen. We comfort. We answer questions.  And when he’s not looking, I cry .. and together, we wait it out.

But between you and me … I want to saddle up my trusty steed, arm myself with everything I’ve got and head into battle, guns drawn, and fire bombs a-blazing!! Truth be told — I want to right the wrongs and confront anyone who’d ever hurt my boy.

But … I can’t.

I’m in “time out.”

It’s not for me to fix and that kills me.

And so we sit… and we trust that, somewhere along the way, what we’ve taught him about self-worth, happiness, peace of mind, mutual respect and mature love .. bubbles up and washes over him, giving him the strength he needs to get through this and go on.

 * * * * *

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Family, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Men, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Random, Rants, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

I believe

I believe … that I am never closer to God than when I am outside.

I believe … that I can do anything I decide to try. I just haven’t tried it all yet.

I believe … in life after death, that I know things I shouldn’t, and that I can sense good from bad.

I believe … in the magic of a favorite song on the radio, the wind in my hair and sunshine on my face.

I believe … that there’s a reason babies and animals come to me.

I believe … that good cooks have plenty of friends.

I believe … that there is more right with this country than there is wrong with it.

I believe … that the quiet Sunday afternoons I carve out are some of my best days.

I believe … that my children and grandchildren love me because I first loved them.

I believe … that being related doesn’t give someone the right to be hurtful.

I believe … in never turning down the hubby’s kisses.

I believe … in the power of a gentle touch, a kind word, and an open heart.

I believe … that a confident smile is the sexiest accessory.

I believe … that if you have to tell me how religious you are… that I’d rather watch your actions and decide for myself.

I believe … that I will meet my father, grandparents and others again.

I believe … in music, books, and just being still sometimes.

I believe … that I am at my strongest when someone I love is hurting.

I believe … that we are all a work in progress.

I believe … the best is yet to come.

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Charity, Determination, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Gratitude, Grief, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Men, music, Opinion, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts | 26 Comments

Next is not promised

my Lilacs are blooming and they're simply gorgeous!

The latest natural disasters have made me think again about what’s important to me.

It is NOT a tidy house or a clean desk.

It’s my family & friends.

BE mindful.

ENJOY each minute because the next is not promised to you.

Do what you love.

Smile more. Give more. Be more.

Laugh, love … shed only happy tears, dance to what moves you, forgive, let live and for heaven’s sake … BE grateful!

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Faith, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life Lessons, Love, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

On saying “No”

I’m a habitual organizer, somewhat of a people-pleaser and writer of daily “to do” lists.  I have often taken on too much and sometimes it’s other people’s “stuff.” Their issues, their fears, their problems.

I’m learning to say “no” to what’s not right for me.

I’ve started stepping back and examining the other person’s intentions … and my own.

Am I really helping them? Or am I just doing their work?

Am I really needed here?  Or do I just like the feeling of being needed?

It’s difficult to do because this contradicts learned behavior.   The word “no” never came out of my mouth without some sort of explanation designed to make the other person feel better. To let them off the hook.

Saying “no” felt foreign at first.

Fears tumbled in my head: What will they think? Will they still be my friend? Will they still love me? Will they ever talk to me again?

Then I asked myself this: Are you saying yes for them or for you?

And I realized that every time I have chosen to say “no” to a situation that wasn’t right for me .. I have made more space in my life for the ones that are.

No.

It’s a sentence.

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Friendship, Life, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

When you say nothing at all

A skill I’ve learned from hubbs has been put in play of late.

It’s powerful and one that takes practice, because it goes against my learned methods of communciating.

 But every time I have to pull it out of my bag of tricks, I am reminded again of its power.

What is it?

It’s the art of not engaging.

Example:

When someone is spinning out of control and tries to drag you into their negative vortex … step quietly to the side, and let their momentum take them elsewhere.

When a harsh words beg for commentary … refrain.

Let the ugliness hang in the air; let the person who dealt them watch their poison fall to the ground.  They’re counting on sucking you in.  Don’t. Go. There.

Not engaging.  Powerful stuff.

Sometimes … the most influential words are those left unspoken.

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Life, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Write what you know

Never gonna be a Spice Girl ... might just as well sit down & write something!

Asked about blogging, it hit me what I’ve learned from the experience:

1. Write as often as you want to but resist the pressure to publish every day.  Remember that you do this because you enjoy writingExample:   At first, I obediently followed the mandate set by my instructor –  to write and publish daily.  I know she meant well because her point was to keep it fresh and avoid too many days between posts.  But now, looking back, I can tell the difference between my “going through the motions-posts” and those that were really me –  at my most authentic.  And if I could tell, I’m pretty sure others could, too.

2. To that end, let your posts breathe.  Not all of your readers are “online” at the same time and when you post something new, older posts get pushed to the bottom.  Give each one its due.

3. Read (and be inspired) by the work of others:  Be moved by the posts, dreams and the designs of the many talented writers here in the blogosphere.  When I feel “stuck,” all I have to do is click & read.   In no time at all, I’m laughing, smiling, crying, nodding my head in agreement and commenting.  In no time at all, I’ve forgotten about my little blog and have subscribed to several more.

4. Commenting on blogs is a wonderful way to connect but there’s a tiny line between being interested and supportive and just being there to promote your stuff.  People will find you if they’re interested and they don’t … then they don’t.     The self-promoting commenter makes me think of that snot-nosed kid who dumps his milk at the dinner table on purpose: Look at me, notice me, see me, I’m here.   Geez I get it already now knock it off!

5.  Mind your manners: respond to comments and acknowledge those who took the time to weigh in.  However, if someone chooses to swear at me, their comments will not see the light of day.  Constructive criticism – bring it on but general viciousness? Hell to the no.  My blog – my rules.

6.  Take a challenge:   The topics I care most about are the hardest for me to writeSo when I find myself feeling that pinch, I dig a little deeper and keep at it because I know I’ve hit the good stuff.

7.  Slog through:  Often, what I feel most passionate about can leave me feeling vulnerable and it’s tempting to self-censor…. but then I can easily lose the point of my post.  However, what I’ve learned is that the most difficult posts to write have become my favorites. Maybe not the most read, but.. My. Personal. Favorites.  And that counts for something, too.

8.  Be open to ideas Ideas come in all shapes and sizes and often at random times. Keep a list.  You can email ideas to yourself, record messages on your cell phone or, like me, scribble notes down on the backs of envelopes, post-its and grocery lists.

9. Have fun: If writing starts feeling like a chore, step away and do something else.  Chances are something else in your day will inspire you.   We’re not curing Cancer here, people!  Step away, mix it up, come back & let ‘er buck!

10. Write what you know:  Lastly, lots of blogging “authorities” will tell you to “become the expert,” or to find out what you’re an expert on.  Well, the only thing I am an expert on is me, my life and my experiences … and all of it is a work in progress anyways.

  Your turn: What has blogging taught you?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 39 Comments

On Week-ending

my Rhododendrons in their full glory

I woke up this morning to the sound of thunder; smiling, I snuggled in for another half hour’s rest.  When I did get up and find my way downstairs to the coffee pot, the house was still dark and the rain could still be heard, battering us. Old dog, curled in his bed, watched me with one eye open.  I poured a cup of coffee and found the hubbs – standing in the garage watching the rain blow in from the west. 

The house is sparkling from yesterday’s efforts; even the garage is shining, for he spent most of yesterday scubbing and sweeping his “man-land.”  The fridge is stocked with foods I prepared yesterday morning, and the counters show off my baking efforts.

Sunday has come again and I love to linger in it; I always try to slow it down and not let it go away so quickly.   I’ve written about my love for Sundays before, including here.

No offense to the other days, but Sunday stands alone as my favorite.   Friday night is for fun, Saturdays you’ll find me tearing through my “to-dos,” but Sunday?  Sunday is my day.  A day to pause, to think, to reflect, to appreciate.

~*~*~*~*~

Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.  ~Bill Watterson

There aren’t enough days in the weekend.  ~Rod Schmidt

Of all the days that’s in the week
I dearly love but one day
And that’s the day that comes betwixt
A Saturday and Monday.
~Henry Carey

Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them.  ~John Shirley

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week.  ~Joseph Addison

What do you love most about your favorite day of the week?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Family, Food, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Random, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Now I know . . .

image courtesy of tacticalsupply.com

In an effort to eat healthier, I’ve been packing my lunch to take to work with me.  Doing so saves me $$, I eat better, lunchtime decisions are easier and I can run a quick errand while still having a respectable lunch to look forward to.

However, long gone are the days when packing a sandwich or just a bit of left-over’s is going to pass muster;  instead, I’ve been assembling a large, colorful salad (2 cups) with about 5 oz of protein, opting for leaner meats like chicken and turkey.  And, sometimes, I’ll use a bit of water-packed tuna just to mix it up.  Sunday afternoons I cook up the chicken or turkey and wash and chop up a variety of fresh vegetables including:

  • English Cucumbers
  • Red Onion
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Red Peppers
  • Mushrooms (I buy these washed & pre-sliced)
  • “Shreds” – shredded Broccoli-Carrots-Cabbage slaw 
  • Fresh green beans or sprouts
  • Zucchini, sliced & chopped
  • And whatever else is in season – this week, I’ve added sliced fresh strawberries. Ooh la la!

All of these yummy, crunchy veggies are tossed with a variety of lettuces – bib, romaine and iceberg. If I’m feeling particularly inspired, I’ll add spinach for good measure.

I have been feeling good about my game plan because, generally speaking, about 1 hour of prep time nets me 4-5 good quality lunches for the week!   After supper every night I assemble the next day’s salad, pop in the chicken, turkey or tuna and –voila – it’s ready for me to “grab & go” in the morning.   To make it easy, I keep a jar of Balsamic Vinaigrette in our office fridge.

So, it was with great delight that I found the following on sale at my local grocery store: 1 lb of Italian seasoned ground turkey breast for $2.74.  Normally 1 lb of ground turkey sells for $4.99/lb where I shop – and this was on clearance ???    Screech!!!!!! My shopping card skidded to a halt and, happily, I placed not one but two – count em two – packets into my cart.   I figured I’d make one packet into turkey patties and freeze the other for future use (just shape and roast 10 min per side at 350 degrees).  Awesome!  

Because I had some grilled chicken on hand, yesterday was the first day that I tried one of my turkey patties with the daily salad.  As I am wont to do, I ran a quick errand and, before I left, took the salad out and set it on my desk for later. (I despise cold lettuce clanging against my teeth – shudder!!)

I was back in my chair within 30 minutes so I easily had time to peruse some online news sites while I enjoyed my lunch – first I cut up my turkey patty and spread it through the salad, then I drizzled a small amount of the Balsamic over the mixture.  Yum-o!

Taking a big bite, the first thing to assault my senses was the taste. 

And. it. wasn’t. good.

What the ???

Fennel? Basil? Oregano maybe?  Try dirt… dried toads and bovine toe-jam!

Whatever the offender’s nature, it tasted like a mix of 3 day old coffee, scorched licorice with gorgonzola cheese sprinkled on top! Yuck!

I couldn’t enough drink water quick enough to drown out the taste of that nastiness.

Ever hopeful, I combed through the salad, thinking that perhaps the next bite would be better?

Wrong.

No offense to black licorice, which I happen to love but … This was no black licorice. This was a rude combination of basil, oregano, salt and maybe a touch of fennel thrown in for added measure.  And it was nasty. Disgusting. Disturbing.  I actually …. shivered.

Pouting, I picked out the offending gnarliness and chomped my way through the rest of my roughage, feeling like the Billy goat I resembled.  Scrounging through my stash of healthy “snacks,” I settled on a Greek Yogurt, ½ a banana and a handful of almonds  for the balance of my lunch.

Next time, when something’s on sale, I’m paying attention as to why that might be? And my cart?  It’s staying far, far away from pre-seasoned anything.  Shudder.

   How about you? Experience any mishaps in the *sale* section lately?

Categories: Food, Fun, Humor, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Rants, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

The first real taste of life

image from onlineseats.com

Over time, most of us have found ourselves drawn into shaky scenarios, usually when we were quite a bit younger.  Me?  I’ve had many.  One that comes to mind is joining Columbia Record House at 14. Yep, for only a PENNY I got an incredible music collection!!  12 – count ’em – 12 brand new 8-tracks for just a penny!! (just buy a predetermined amount later at “regular Club House prices.” )  What a deal!    Yeah … not really.

Recently, our youngest found himself facing an “opportunity” that, to me, sounded a little too good to be true.  Kind of like winning a sweepstakes that you never entered. Hmmm…let’s just say that my “Spidey-Senses” were a-tingling.  I tried talking him through it and I tried talking him out of it, but to no avail. He believed.  He looked at me, with those eyes, so full of trust and youth ….so I agreed to go along and find out more information.

Ahead of our outing, the hubbs and I had several side conversations that went a little like this:

“You do realize this whole thing is bogus, right?”

“Of course I do.” I replied.

“So … why are you going?”

“Because sometimes kids just have to learn on their own.” I replied.   “I have talked to him till I’m blue in the face; he’s heard me but he’s not listening.”  

Now Hubbs and I agree on many things but sometimes we just parent differently.  He’d have said “No, it’s stupid, it’s a waste of time and you’re not going,” and that would have been the end of it…  in his mind.

Me?

Sometimes I am that abrupt but this time, something inside told me that it was less convoluted to tag along and let the proverbial chips fall where they may.

So, off we went. 

Arriving at our destination, I watched his eyes as he scanned the room of other young hopefuls nervously clutching the same paperwork as he.  I saw the look on his face when he realized that everything he hadn’t wanted to hear – was spot on. 

I kept my trap shut.

Whispering, he asked if I wanted to leave.

“It’s up to you,” I replied, “but there’s no harm in hearing what they have to say.”

He grinned, we stayed; turned out, it was way bogus, as in really ridiculously-cornball bogus and later, he laughed.  What started out as a chuckle grew to tipping his head back in a full-out holding onto-his sides with laughter.

That afternoon, over cheeseburgers and a shared shake, we talked about the day and laughed over the absurdity of it all. Suddenly he stopped, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mom … you were so right. How did you know?”

Smiling, I gave him a one word answer, “Experience.”

I never said “I told you so” and I didn’t poke his wounded pride by teasing him about it.

We shared the moment, he learned yet another life lesson, and that was that … with that.

.::.

“Kids … they learn more from their own mistakes then they do from ours” – My Mom

Categories: Confidence at any age, Determination, Family, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Men, Opinion, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

On Mothering

 

One of my favorite pictures of Mom & me... having a Killian's in Branson, MO

A mom reads you like a book, and wherever she goes, people read you like a glowing book review.  ~Robert Brault

***

We all need someone who believes in us – someone who sees our potential and who encourages us to keep on going when times get hard.  Someone who reminds us of what is working in our life and that tomorrow will be better.  Someone who points out all we have to be grateful for right now.

We need someone who cheers the loudest when we succeed and stays the closest when we’re hurting.

No matter how robust our self-confidence is, knowing that we are treasured is the magic elixir that gives us the ability to be our best.

In everything I’ve ever accomplished and all that I’ve ever experienced, I’ve had one tiny but mighty powerhouse behind me: my mother.

Thank you to my Mom who taught me the importance of a meal lovingly prepared, of make-believe play on stormy days, the joy of reading and the ability to laugh at myself.  Thank you to my Mom for driving me to piano lessons even though I could “hear” the music and didn’t bother learning to read notes; for sewing my skating costumes, helping me finish 4-H projects and listening to me practice my speeches.  Thank you to my Mom who put up with my petulance at 14, true love at 16, and impatience at 18.  Thank you to my Mom who taught me that a real man cries, loves children and animals and his wife, and shows up. Thank you to my Mom who  inspires me to challenge what I know for sure, to stretch my limits and to never underestimate what can be done.   Thank you to my Mom, who let me have sleepovers, talent shows, weenie roasts and birthday parties. Thank you to my Mom for teaching me how to have a warm & inviting home; to cook, clean and entertain in a way that makes my family want to be home more than not.  Thank you to my Mom who taught me to not save my best manners for strangers and to, no matter what, stay up for kids coming in at night so there’s always an audience for their stories.  Thank you for my Mom who let me go; who, in spite of the miles that separate us, and the time between our face-to-face conversations, has never failed to rally behind me and say “You can do it, kid.”

The greatest gift I’ve ever received … is a Mother who is happy to be one.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Charity, Faith, Family, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Mom, music, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , | 31 Comments

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