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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Hitting 30K

Mom's Begonias

Sometime this morning, my little blog counted its 30,000th visitor.  30,000!   When I started writing  last fall, I remember watching as the “site stats” numbers change and being thrilled to hit 100!  I recall the excitement I felt when the number hit 500, then 5,000, and later, 25,000.  It’s crazy fun to take notice of the numbers … but also to look at what resonates with others.

Now … here I am .. roughly 10 months later with 235 posts archived, 2,689 comments from you, dear readers, and 176 active subscribers.

I’ve been “Fresh Pressed” twice.. the first time, my post about Christmas music blaring on the radio the DAY AFTER Halloween hit a nerve with others.  “Sorry Frosty, not yet” was featured on Word Press’s home page on November 1, 2010.  I was so green to the process that I didn’t understand why I  suddenly had so many comments. 110 people commented and 46 bloggers “liked” the post enough to leave their smiling Gravatar on my home page.

I’ve written a lot, and it will not surprise anyone who knows me well that my single largest category has been based in “attitude.” HA!   Following that, the categories I have written the most about are: life, family, home,  love, personal, relationships and thoughts. I’m proud of these for they are testament to what matters most to me.

Imagine my surprise when my emotional post about bawling my way through the Royal Wedding called “So, did you watch?” was Fresh Pressed on May 3, 2011?  4,793 people read it, 137 bloggers gave it a “thumbs up” and 334 posted comments.   For days,  I was very busy responding to each and every comment … but oh was it ever fun!

For all the delightful visitors that popped in, the “Akismet” functionality also managed to block 822 Spammers.  Kind of like checking on a mouse trap, it’s satisfying to know the little buggers didn’t make it through.  Take that !!

Search engine terms that let others find me have included the following:

  • boogity boogity boogity amen
  • what dreams try to tell us
  • the best you you can be at any moment is yourself
  • princess diana funeral
  • william and harry
  • i found faith in my mothers kitchen
  • turbo jam
  • mj’s baked delights
  • no mom jeans
  • confidence at any age
  • what does doubt mean to you

What I can’t easily articulate is how validating this blog’s interaction has been for me. Yes it’s thrilling to be featured on Word Press’ home page but it’s also empowering to have struggled to write on emotional topics and later feel a connection to you via your heartfelt commentaries.

It’s both the creative outlet and the connection to you all that brings me back, time and again.

When I told the hubbs that I’d hit the 30K number today his comment was, “well you’re a pretty normal gal and I’m sure others can relate to you.”  He knows me well and his words mean a lot.  Especially since he’s never once read my blog.  In his words, “I don’t have to; I know you, and I know who you are and what you stand for.”  The funny thing is, he’s in so many of my posts, and the topics I write about, we’ve often hashed out together long before I start writing.  He’s proud of me and doesn’t hesitate to tell others what I’m up to. “Did you know she writes a blog?” he’ll ask.  Funny man.

Attitude, life, family, home,  love, personal, relationships and thoughts.

Thank you for visiting .. please come back again! 🙂

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Categories: Family, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Love, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Reflections

There will come a time when you will catch your reflection in the mirror and  stop to really see yourself.

You will see … you.

at 48, I finally accepted my naturally curly hair.

You will see a person who’s made their way in life, who has caused hurt, been hurt, laughed, cried, stumbled, loved and been loved.

You will see you as you really are and you’ll notice … when you lean in to look closer … that the creases around your eyes and the lines near your mouth …only go where the smiles have been.

You’ll notice the shape of  the body that carries you every day and maybe you’ll take a moment to be amazed at all it does .. and tries to do … when asked.  You’ll feel sorrow for the times you’ve taken it for granted and not rewarded it for hard work.

You’ll contemplate the many thoughts and ideas that cross your mind every day, every hour, every minute and you will realize who’s in the reflection; you’ll finally see your spirit living inside.

This moment may cause you to step back.. but then … you will take inventory of those who occupy the warmest spaces of your heart; those who love and support you and those whom you love and support.  And you will begin the eviction process for those who’ve wounded you and left marks upon your soul.

You will realize that the time has come; the time has come to accept all that you are and to finally see all you bring … to the world.

The time has come to be thankful, to be accepting, and most of all,  to be loving.  For if you cannot do this for that person in the mirror, how can you pretend to do it for anyone else?

We are more than the sum of our parts; join me and give thanks for every step of life’s pathway.

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Patriotic, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Share, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The power of our thoughts

image from pickycook.com

“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.” ~Bill Meyer

Categories: Attitude, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Personal, Quotes, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , | 12 Comments

Self-sabotage or something else?

Self-sabotage or self-preservation?

Let’s look at the root of both words:

  • Sabotage – to damage, disrupt, interfere with or harm.
  • Preservation – referring to protection, safeguarding, maintenance or continuation.

I’ve used the first when I might really have meant the second; talk about different meanings… yikes!

Have you ever charged so hard down a goal’s pathway only to stop and then realize you’ve put very unrealistic expectations on yourself?

I have.

Recently, I plowed down the exercise path, again.

I say “again” because it’s taken me this long to really understand myself and here’s what I’ve learned:  Routinely, I set very high standards.  Standards that can be difficult for me to maintain.  Then .. when I can’t, I get frustrated and, in turn, am extremely hard on myself.

Example:  I’m gonna _____ *fill in the blanks

1)      Exercise every day!

2)      Eat only healthy stuff all the time!

3)      Etc. etc. etc.

The problem isn’t in the doing or in the determination. I have plenty of both.  The problem lies in the fact that, sometimes, life gets in the way. It has to.  I’m not a celebrity. I don’t have a chauffeur, cook, or anyone else.

I get busy.

I get bored.  *Yawn*

I get frustrated.

I get tired.

Can you relate?

But here’s something I’ve learned: I thought self-sabotage had to be the reason that I stopped.  I thought that, somehow,  somewhere, there was a deep, dark part of me that just didn’t want “it” badly enough.

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

So, by berating myself after I gave up, I, in effect, neglected to see what had already been accomplished.

But recently I’ve learned another way of looking at this: maybe tucked in there with the negative connotations instead lies a semblance of self-preservation.

Maybe, at my core, I know better?

Hmm.

Maybe when I am fatigued and stressed and stop to take a day or three off it doesn’t have to mean that it’s all or nothing.

Maybe, I’m just tired.

Maybe I’m not a failure.

Maybe … if I instead acknowledge that some standards are too restrictive to be maintained I can see that it’s not always self-sabotage.  Perhaps it is, instead, self-care?

Perhaps it’s my inner voice suggesting … hey hot stuff, how about you go at it 3 – 4 days a week?  Pick something you enjoy and mix it up a little when it gets stale?  It’s OK: It will be enough.  You will be enough.

I get it now, I think.

image from beachbody.com

So last night, I danced, punched and shook my way through a round of Turbo Jam (fun!), enjoyed a luxurious cool-down in the pool and, after supper, took old dog for a leisurely stroll in the neighborhood.

None of it felt like exercise.   I never once looked at my watch. And all of it … felt like… fun!

Today?

Today’s a new day and while my intentions are great, my expectations … are a bit more realistic.

Having fun might just be what brings me back for more.

# # #

You?  What keeps you moving forward to your goals? Have you ever stopped, erased what you’d planned, and started again? 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Opinion, Personal, Products I love, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Boogity, Boogity, Boogity … Amen

I am not a NASCAR viewer on any regular basis but this fervent pre-race prayer by Nashville Pastor Joe Nelms certainly got my attention – and that of many others, too.

Ricky Bobby, is that you?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Humor, Joy, Life, Men, News, Opinion, Quotes, Sports, Technology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Garden of Weedin

Today is overcast and muggy.  The soaring heat seems to have passed, for now anyways.  With a week’s worth of heat behind us, my plants have limped along but the weeds have flourished.  So … water in hand, me and old dog ventured out to the yard earlier today to pull weeds.  I pulled a few and sprayed a lot,

The Swamp Dewberry; nice name for a weed!

watered my pots and spilled a little water for the frogs hanging around.  The birds swooped in and out of the sprinkler, enjoying a brief respite.

But .. here’s the thing with weeding:  I despise it; there’s nothing about it I enjoy, however, it’s necessary so my strategy is to get out early, ahead of the heat and after a rain if possible.

Hours upon hours of my youth were wasted … weeding.  Mom had a garden the size of a city block, or so it seemed, with rows and rows of corn, peas, carrots, beets and green and yellow beans. Then there were the onions, cucumbers and radishes. She always had at least one row of gladiolas followed by cabbage.  Along the garden’s edge were strawberries, muskmelon and watermelon.  And all along the far western corner grew raspberries, wild and prickly with thorns ready to tear your skin.   My mother’s garden fostered our love of vegetables and fruits, of that I’m sure.

Managing this garden required hours of sweat.  Hours that I’d much rather have been off riding my horse, bike, or exploring the coulees around the farm.

So .. my sisters and I would don our bathing suits, slather on suntan oil and head off to the garden with mason jars of water for an afternoon of weeding.

It was hot.

It was dusty.

It was boring.

And it was back-breaking.

Usually my brothers were busy helping Dad with other farm chores but, on occasion, they’d tag along too.  One brother improvised and thought to bring along a battery-operated radio. Great fun until he tired of it and started chucking dirt lumps at us girls.  Sweaty suntan lotioned girls + dirt?  Not the happiest combo.  He stirred up enough of a disturbance to get himself banished … which was just what he wanted in the first place.

And there we’d be, 3 girls and Mom, all of us sweaty, hot and crabby.

If we didn’t complain too much, Mom would reward us with a trip to the lake for a late-afternoon “dip” and maybe an ice cream cone. We learned not to complain and instead became efficient weeders.

To this day, both of my sisters have spectacular gardens, bountiful flowers and perennial beds that seem to go on forever.

Me?  Nope.  Still hate weeding.

image from mlive.com

I do love the farmer’s market, however :).

You?

Categories: Determination, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Life, Personal, Rants, Seasons, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , | 14 Comments

Feeling Fabulous?

MJ's Fabulousity Squares: see the bit o'Ritz in the center?

You will with a pan of my “Fabulousity Squares.”  Containing just 3 – count ’em – 3 ingredients, this easy-peasy recipe is prepped & baked in less than 30 minutes!

Got a reunion, pot luck or BBQ to go to? Offer to bring dessert.  These offer a sweet combination of buttery crunchy goodness with just a hint of chocolate. They’re easy to make, travel/freeze well (no melting) and the fun comes when you challenge their various admirers to guess the ingredients (trust me, they will never suspect what’s in these bars).

Ready?

Here’s what you need to make them:

  • 1 bag Heath OR Skor bar pieces (you’ll find them with the Chocolate chips)
  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 sleeves of Ritz crackers, crumbled. *
  • Optional: you can add a 1/4 cup of chopped nuts if you wish but they will make the bars a tad bit dry. I prefer to skip the nuts so as to achieve gooey greatness!

*To crumble the crackers I dump them into a large ziplock bag and pound them with a plastic tumbler.  It’s a great way to relieve the day’s frustrations 🙂 and is also a fun way for  kids to help. You could also use a pastry roller but I don’t have one ..hence the plastic tumbler.

Mix all ingredients and press into a well greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 325 for 20 min. Let cool and cut into squares.

Now .. let the guessing begin!

Categories: Attitude, Family, Food, Friendship, Fun, Home, Personal, Recipes, Share, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Four hundred children and a crop in the field

Poor Kenny; ole Lucille picked a fine time to leave him, didn’t she? Except for the fact that the song lyrics were actually, “four hungry children and a crop in the field.”

I remember riding my 5 speed along a dirt country road, my face in the wind, braids in my hair, and belting out all the popular hits of the time.  I loved to sing, and I still do, except that, most of the time I had the words … all wrong.

Remember?

“There’s a Bathroom on the right”  oops .. it’s really “There’s a Bad moon on the rise…” (Bad Moon Rising, by Credence Clearwater Revival AKA CCR)

Who could forget “The girl with Colitis goes by..”  Um that’s the “Girl with kaleidoscope eyes,” from the Beatles’ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (later sang by Elton John.)

Speaking of … I remember crooning “Hold me closer, Tony Danza!” except that the words were actually,”Hold me closer Tiny Dancer” from Elton’s “Tiny Dancer.”  Oops.  Hey … who wouldn’t want Tony Danza to hold ’em closer? I’m

Tony Danza .. hubba hubba (image from Facebook)

just saying …

In hindsight, I committed many a “Mondegreen” (for more, click the link).

It doesn’t happen as often now .. but still I still feel a pinch of embarrassment when I realize that a song I love and have been singing along to ….I’ve been  singing with the wrong words all this time.  Somehow though, I am sure I’m not alone.

Here’s some vintage Kenny with the lyrics to back me up; an interesting side note, my parents took us to see Kenny Rogers and the First Edition in concert.  I think I was around 8 or 9.  I remember reading every detail in the programme, how much I enjoyed the concert  (“Something’s burning…and I think it’s LOVE..!”) and how handsome I thought he was .. for an “old” man.  Ha!

How about you?  Ever realized … 10, 20, 30 years AFTER the fact that the song you’ve been singing along to doesn’t exist as you sing it?  🙂

Categories: Attitude, Family, Friendship, Fun, Growth, Humor, Joy, Life, Men, music, Personal, Random, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

How do you “be” vulnerable?

spring wheat

Recently, I was given the advice to try being vulnerable with an added footnote of ” … it might be good for you.”

Me.

Be needy-er.

To let others take care of me.

Do less … let others do more … and be all right with it.

Great advice, except for one little thing:  I. Haven’t. A. Clue. How.

To make the point further, I was asked, “When was the last time you made a mistake?” Dumfounded,  nothing came to mind.  Please know that this does not  infer I don’t make them, what I am saying is that, generally speaking, unless they’re really big and cataclysmic,  I don’t keep track. I know I forget names quickly  (ask me your name 5 seconds after we first meet .. Bill, Bob, Burt …um… oh, crap!), published with typos, turned left when I should have turned right, etc, you get the picture.

I don’t keep track of mine and I’m not keeping track of yours.

But the advice given did make me stop and think.

Be. Vulnerable.

How?  I don’t know how to do vulnerable.

Thinking about it more .. I think I understand what was meant: I do good job of taking care of everyone else. Of making sure that things happen. Birthdays aren’t just remembered, they’re celebrated.  Parties aren’t just held .. they’re thrown.  Dots aren’t just connected … they’re dot-to-Shazam-dot!

The point being?

Who does it for me?

It’s not that others don’t want to care for me … I haven’t let them.

I have no needs because I’m “fine.”

I’ve built a life out of being “fine.”

Ouch.

I get it now.  What she really meant was this: It’s OK to do a little less for others so as to leave room .. for me.

It sounds good .. in theory.

It’s also completely foreign to everything I’ve ever done.  It’s the opposite of me –my over-the-top, exceed all expectations, never-let-anyone-down- kind of way.

Make a mistake on purpose?   Are you kidding me?

What was your name again? 

 + + +

So … how good are you at being vulnerable?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Life, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: | 15 Comments

Life is a school

Life is a school.

Think about it.

Every day we get opportunities to learn.  Sometimes the lessons are easy, some feel redundant and, more often, many are a little more difficult to grasp.

Today, during a conversation,  a situation unfolded that reminded me of something I’ve written about before … the art of not engagingI listened as her frustrations and negativity wore her out.    I waited until she was done.  Then, I responded, but not in the way she thought I would.  I didn’t jump on the bandwagon, I didn’t rescue her, I simply didn’t go there. I addressed the issue and was polite and firm, leaving no wiggle room. The response?  Startling.

Suddenly, when the desired reaction wasn’t attained, the tone abruptly shifted and the conversation ended.

School’s in session, baby.

.:.

I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Random, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , | 23 Comments

Unabashed delight

one of my favorite pics: baby MJ and big brother A .. taken Spring 2010

Grandchildren fill a space in your heart that you never knew was empty.  It’s true.

Being with them is like getting a time travelers ticket back to our boys being little; days of juice boxes, fruit snacks, Legos, Ninja Turtles and trains. Days of Play-doh, fort building and battles with light sabers.  It puts me right in there with “couch beds,” cinnamon toast, sleepovers and marveling at a simple flashlight’s ability to elicit hours of giggles.

Unlike when our boys were tiny, I am not as harried now.  Yes, I still work full-time and maintain our home but today … when the grand babes are with me ….  I completely roll in their being.  Laundry sits and supper waits.  I indulge in conversations, taking note of dimpled hands and how our grandson’s cowlicks swirl up in the back of his hair.  When I coax a smile and a giggle out of wee MJ, I grin like a drunken fool.  When either reaches their arms up to me, I melt and I give in, every time.

I love to let them “help” me water the flowers (and each other), brush the dog, and cook.  They like to measure and stir and, most of all, taste.  I enjoy answering questions, explaining things, and reading to them. Cuddling up on the couch together, and singing along to a favorite theme song, is some of the most cozy time I know.

baby MJ, giggling with her Daddy on my birthday. And that's my bracelet she's got!

I often reflect on who they’ll be one day and if they’ll remember me as fondly as I do my Grandmothers.  I’m lucky for I had two; two that couldn’t be more different.

There was Grandma F, who lived in the big farmhouse less than a mile away.  She, maker of cake donuts, fry-pan burgers, “Aunt Mary’s” cookies and the world’s softest lefse.  She graciously welcomed company and didn’t hesitate to invite me in, sweaty and smelling of horses, to stay for a “bit of” lunch, tea and treats with her and Grandpa.  Grandma was pretty and feminine, shapely and modest. It is from her that I developed not just my love of cooking but an ardent appreciation for … jewelry; over the years, I admired her pendants, brooches and bracelets.  I saw her transform from housewife to “dressy” Grandma and I wanted to emulate her. Lucky me, a few were passed on and yes I wear them.

A. with Frankie, the old dog.

Then there was Nana M, sleek and elegant; Nana wore pantsuits and turtlenecks, got her hair “done” and looked like a movie star.  She favored fragrances like “White Shoulders,”  and “Elizabeth Arden.”  Nana did things like floor workouts and stretches, stuff I’d never seen a Grandmother do;  she was slender and sophisticated, smart and beautiful and died from cancer when I was 9. Her passing marked the first time I ever saw my mother cry.

So every time I am greeted by the eager, excited faces of our grandchildren, I am reminded at how quickly dimples depart those tiny hands, and how swiftly children grow.  It won’t be long before they will be way too cool to hang out with Nana. But here’s the rub … I’m smarter than that. This ole fox has it all figured out:   I am treasuring and savoring every minute and I am … making my mark.

I only have to look at our own two boys filling the doorways to know how quickly it all flies past us.

“Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap.” -Doug Larson

Categories: Attitude, Family, Food, Fun, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Love, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery | Tags: , | 23 Comments

Nothing to do .. and all day to do it

Summer vacation ….Oh how I love you.

The past week of purposeful nothingness has been just what I hoped for and exactly what we needed:

The pinch of summer sun on shoulders, ears and noses.

Freshly grilled meals. Crunchy summer salads, orchard fruits, farmers market finds and ice cold beer.

Wrinkling of toes, too long in the pool.  Water splashed onto my book.

The daily presence of friends, Tigers baseball and a  steady shuffle of songs on the mp3 player.

The squeaky voices of delighted grand-babies.  The oohs and ahhs from fireworks.

Summer means grandbaby MJ celebrates, too; (C) an emjayandthemphoto

Flags waving in the summer breeze.

Finches fattening at the feeder.

Naps.

Meandering mornings watering plants who will mourn vacation’s end.

The lazy evenings watching fireflies dance through the yard.

Summer nights under the stars, talking, laughing, living.

Shared glances, twirly skirts, golf dates and date nights.

Summer vacation.

An absence of schedule.  Lack of obligation. No particular place to be.

Summer vacation, oh how I love you.

Categories: Attitude, Family, Friendship, Fun, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Love, music, Patriotic, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , | 27 Comments

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