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Monthly Archives: December 2011

On actions

It felt good to get out of the house for a few hours last night; I’ve been sick and we’ve been home-bound for our entire vacation.  Hubbs has taken good care of me and I made sure he heard me telling others as such; his roosterfied chest told me he was happy to be appreciated.

A group of us gathered for a friend’s birthday and someone took it upon herself to question another’s intentions.  I know the person who started it and I know her heart; it’s good. It’s her delivery that’s not.

Too much was said to someone she doesn’t know all that well and feelings were hurt. It wasn’t necessary and her actions threw a wet blanket over an otherwise fun evening.

I kept seeing this visual and thought it was worth sharing … especially as we all go forward into a new night, a new day, and a new year.

People will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You might have a heart of gold but so does a hard-boiled egg. 

Keep your words soft and sweet, you never know which ones you'll have to eat

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Categories: Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Life, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , | 20 Comments

Making room

Here's the New Year lookin' at you; image from theguardian.co.uk

Here it comes, ready or not – The New Year is staring at us, peeking over the fence and waving.  For some this feels like the taunt of an unwelcome relative whose presence at the door brings heartburn and heartache. For others it’s a time to think about what to do differently.  What’s new? What’s coming? What’s exciting?

Newscasters are busy recapping the year, commentators are working to highlight the biggest stories, biggest scandals, biggest disasters, biggest whatevers. Yawn.

I’m taking a page out of my own book and revisiting where I was last year at this time .. and I’m not making a single resolution.   Too much pressure with too few results, in my experience.

It’s far more productive for me to just say “no” to what I don’t want to do, what’s not good for me, or what takes me away from what really counts.

Saying no takes effort, especially for me, a people pleaser, organizer of the fun and keeper of the peace.

Saying “no” has allowed more yes-es in my life.  Stopping myself from doing what I’ve always done allows room for unexpected and unplanned delights.

Saying no feels foreign, but I’m getting better at it.   Here’s the rub:  it doesn’t even need to be spoken.  It can be our little secret.

I know that this can’t apply to every category in life, it’s not practical.

But .. rather than beat myself up about failing at an unrealistic goal, I’m quietly continuing the personal progress I’ve made this year and carrying it forward into the next.

I’ve cleared out the clutter in my life so I can do what’s important to me.

I’ve stopped maintaining relationships that aren’t healthy.  Doing so has made more room for the ones that are.

I’ve gone to bed earlier, and looked better,  than the results any diet ever delivered.

I’ve faced fears, spoken up and taken on new things; these efforts have energized me more than any $100 skin care product possibly could.

I’ve stopped trying to do it all, be it all, fix it all for everyone else. I’ve started doing what matters… to me.

I'm taking a more relaxed view of the New Year ... bring on the pink pants, lose the cigar.

“Your closet should contain 3 categories of clothing: clothes you love, clothes that fit you now, and clothes that garner you compliments whenever you wear them.”  Peter Walsh, organizational expert.

Couldn’t the same rule be applied to relationships?  Look around.  The people you’ve kept close – do they “fit and flatter you?” Do you love spending time with them? Do they complement your life, your personality, your goals and your mindset?  Or are you reaching for the same old shlumpy dumpy mess because they’re familiar and comfortable?

Making room – it’s not just for closets anymore.

Happy New Year, friends.

Categories: Attitude, Family, Friendship, Holidays, Life, News, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , | 40 Comments

Adventures of Wonder Boy and Phlegm girl

Since summer we’ve worked for it. Throughout fall, we’ve talked about it: Christmas Vacation. That glorious week off buffered by two federal holidays – yippee skippidy-yi-yay.  Time to rest, time to play, time to dine, time to just be together.

And then it happened again.

I. Got. Sick.

The day before Christmas.

All our plans for romantic nights together – on hold.

All our intentions  – lingering at new restaurants – replaced by hot toddies and warm blankets.

Tender touches and shy smiles sure … but excuse me while I cough, sputter and gak.

Still Wonder Boy stays near.  He shaves, showers and dresses.  Puts on a little cologne, but not too much so as to make me sneeze.

I shower and dress, bundling in layers and find myself nearer the fire than normal. He likes that, for he’s near the fire, too.

He sips a brew and his broad hands bring a toddy.

He tries not to make me laugh for then I’ll cough and cough and cough.  But he does anyways because he’s funny like that.

We laugh a lot.

We smile.

We linger.

He sees my red nose and brings home Puffs.  He gets up to let the dog out and shuts the door so I can rest longer.

He answers the phone. Wonder Boy never answers the phone.

We don’t try new restaurants.  We don’t go out.

We stay in and slowly, ever so slowly I heal.

And it’s not the Prednisone or the Zithromax or the Mucinex that do it, although they help.

It’s the love.

Stay tuned for more Adventures of Wonder Boy and Phlegm girl ….

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Home, Love, Men, Relationships, Romance, Thoughts | Tags: , , | 31 Comments

Life lessons in pond hockey

As kids, we played a lot of pond hockey; the differences between pond and rink hockey are many, with boundaries being just one. In pond hockey, there are no boards to get body-checked into, only frozen roots to trip over.  Our penalty box was several large rocks bordering the south side. Regulation play teams have 6 players; with five kids in our family, and a smattering of cousins along, we took turns as goalie, and playing forward or defense. I loved getting the puck and confidently skating towards the opposing goal. I didn’t get there often, as my cousins and brothers were much stronger and faster than I, but what I lacked in size, I made up for in determination.  Each of us dreaded being goalie; having to defend the net (and our heads) from slap shots.  I remember the fear; the lack of protection, knowing what was coming and doing my best to stop it.

I’ve come to see that childhood roles can still play out in our adult lives. How? I’m used to being the forward; being in control, moving with intention and taking my best shots.  I rarely have to play defense. Why?  Because playing defense means that I have done something to defend.  When someone else puts me on the defense,  I’m transported back to that gangly kid again… wondering how exactly it got to be my turn at net.

It happened to me.   Someone took a position polar opposite mine. That’s fine, it’s a free country after all, I thought. But it wasn’t fine.  You see, being opposite of this person is not done.    Their approach, and their subsequent attack of me, rocked me and then some.

Sweat formed, my stomach fell and a familiar surge of terror took hold.  I stumbled my way through, listening in disbelief and wonder at how this came to be.

I tried to state that I didn’t mind how apart we were on the issue but, you see, that was the issue.  Not just that we didn’t agree … but that I was clearly so wrong and it was their job to set me right.

Don't body-check me. image from hockey independent.com

Sometimes, in those moments, that former scrappy kid is tempted to re-emerge. Some swagger could step forward. More realistically ..  disbelief and shock immobilize and quietly, I’ll just take the hit. I’ll take it … just to get it over with.  And later, when I get back up, disappointment’s slap lingers on my face and my heart. The stings come again when I realize I was never wrong to feel what I felt; I was wrong to believe that my thoughts and opinions had a place at their table.

It mattered not that we thought differently on this topic, to me.  And in the end, that was all that mattered to them.

What couldn’t be seen from the other side was how any other position could ever be played. What couldn’t be seen – will never be seen – is why play any other way than theirs.

Talked to like a child, reprimanded like a fool, I heard life pleading with me to load up on safety gear, hover in one spot and play defense.  I won’t do it.  I don’t want to live like that. I’ll never get used to being emotionally body-checked but I’ve learned that moving forward means that, sadly, there will always be a few who’d rather knock me to into the boards than see me get to goal.

Has someone else ever forced you to into a role you didn’t want to play?
Do you have any forwards skating alongside you in life?

Categories: Blogging, Friendship, Grief, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

On Messes

Christmas has been here and gone.  The house is a mess and I’m recovering from bronchitis.  (I stood in for Rudolph this year …)

We had fun and I’m leaving the mess a little while longer.  Why?

Read on …

Categories: Family, Fun, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Quotes | 24 Comments

Not a sugar plum in sight …

Frankie dreams of slow squirrels, 3-legged chipmunks, pokey mailmen and little kids who share their cheese & crackers.

May all your Christmas dreams come true!

Categories: Animals, Family, Holidays, Home, Life | Tags: , | 10 Comments

1 Corinthians 13, the Christmas Version:

*I didn’t write this; it was sent via email yesterday. It’s just too beautiful to keep to myself.   Enjoy.

1 Corinthians 13, the Christmas Version:

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, friends and neighbours, I’m just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, etc., I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, etc., it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point!

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure forever.

Christmas is love.  May you have love on Christmas and always.

* * *

although it's been said many times, many ways .. Merry Christmas .. to you.

Categories: Beauty, Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Joy, Love, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 34 Comments

Meme Christmas!

I’ve never done a “meme” before but this one was fun and easy to do – so thank you Terri at Into the Mystic for the idea.  I hope you’ll give this a go, too.

1. A Christmas song I can listen to even in June is: “Christmastime” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio (Charlie Brown).  It takes me right back to being a kid and the wonder and excitement that Christmastime always generated.

2. Hot chocolate, eggnog or mulled wine?   I’ll take an extra hot Chai Tea Latte, please!

Hot Chai tea? Yes, please

3. When do you put your Christmas decorations up? Usually about 10 days ahead of Christmas; I used to decorate every single room – now we only decorate the living room and front door.  Why?  What goes up must come down.   (Read how I nearly lost my cool here: Rants of Christmases past ).  Yep, no more manic merriment for me.

4. What are you having for Christmas dinner? We’re not. We’re having appetizers & pizza the afternoon of Christmas Eve so we can all feel like little kids again! Christmas morning we’ll have brunch featuring my company Fresh Toast … and dinner that day will be … leftover pizza! 20+ years of holiday cooking has taught me one thing: Simple. Is. Good.

5. What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? We always visit with family & friends on December 26th – Boxing Day. Never heard of Boxing Day? Read here.

6. Have you ever gone caroling? Yes, with my Sunday school class. I remember being very cold and wondering just who had the hot cocoa?

7. When did you discover the truth about Santa? Don’t know what you’re talking about.

8. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Our tree is a compilation of glass ornaments and hand-made paper treasures from the boys. Few items match, but it’s multicolored and has special items of significance from all of the places we’ve lived – Canada, Connecticut, New York, Texas, and Michigan.

a shot of youngest boy in grade school ...

the letter "B" for his big brother

handmade reindeer and holiday glass

and some Elvis for me!

9. What’s the best thing about Christmas?   All of it: time together to laugh, to play, to sing, to smile, to eat, to rest and to just … be.

10. All I want for Christmas is: See # 9.

  Christmastime is here… Merry Christmas to you & yours!

Categories: Blogging, Family, Holidays, Home, Traditions | Tags: , , , , | 28 Comments

The Wish List

Chatting with son #1 yesterday, I could hear the stress in his voice. He’d held off shopping for gifts because he just now has the cash to do so; he called on his way out, looking for a few ideas for me and his Dad.  I gave him some practical suggestions but tried to encourage him not to spend too much. I tried talking him through what I knew he could only learn on his own:  that Christmas is not about that. But he didn’t hear me.

He had a deadline, a list to check off, and so much to get done before he had to be back to finish up the day and ready the little ones for bed and himself for his work week. And. And. And.

I remember those days.  Those frantic, manic, Christmases. I remember working myself down to the nub when all I really wanted was one good sleep.

I remember.

And now, I am so grateful to be this much older with this much more experience.

I’ve cut way back this year;  less gifts, less stress, less work. Less. Less. Less.

Today starts my last week of work for the year.

There’s a stack of books calling my name and I’ve set them aside for Christmas vacation.

It’s hard to come up with a wish list just for the sake of it.

What I really want… I have: some time off with pay,  time for me and hubbs to slip out for the night,  to share a laugh and a look and a promise of what’s to come. Time to sleep in, to cook, to read in the winter sun.  Time to play with the kids & grands, and to visit friends and family.

Unscheduled time to goof off and to accomplish absolutely .. nothing.

I've always wanted to try yoga ...

I’m not hard to buy for; I just don’t need anything.

What’s on my wish list?

Nap? Yes please

My wish is that anyone reading this will see the promise of what is Christmas.

When possible, forgive. When not, give yourself the freedom that comes with letting go.

When you can help another,  do it.  You’ll get back more than you give anyways.

Take care of yourself.  Walk.  Stretch. Rest.

Take care of others.  Choose words carefully; hold back criticism, be generous with praise.

... see the humour in everyday things

Have fun; be curious. Play.

... off to explore new things!

Mix it up.   Stop the schedule.   Slow down.

Look around. Try something new.

Celebrate what is.

and give thanks via knee-mail

*all images from Pinterest

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life | Tags: | 34 Comments

Kristmas wishes from K-Tel

As a child, our Christmas wishes were heavily influenced by the Sears Wish book,  K-Tel commercials and the shared dreams of our friends.

Who could forget K-Tel Super Slider Snow Skates?  I couldn’t.  I wished and hoped and prayed for these and my cousin and I both got them one year. Oh the fun we had: skating down a snow covered road, slip sliding behind a snowmobile with a tow rope (probably not the best idea but, boy it was fun) and trying to ski downhill. That always ended dramatically in a thicket of thorns.

Slide! Skate! Ski! with these!

When we went to town, it was a right of passage to be “big” enough to wander the toy section of the local farm implement store by ourselves.  We’d linger over board games like “Battleship” and “Masterpiece” and stare lovingly at wood carving kits, model cars and “Easy Bake Ovens.”  We’d admire the “Lite Brite” display, new sleds, race car sets and secretly hope that a sun-tanned “Malibu Barbie” might grace our stocking that year.

There’s one gift I longed for but never got and, looking back, Santa did the right thing not bringing it to me. My style would have been forever altered.

Be the envy of your friends with this:

What Christmas gift did you wish for most?

Categories: Family, Fun, Holidays, Life | Tags: , , , , | 20 Comments

Frankly speaking

On this, my 325th post, I decided to feature a guest writer.  Meet Frankie the wonder dog …. AKA Captain Cuddles. General Zozie.  Mozey-Dozie.  Frankie 6 Paws.  SuperFrank.  Frankie Bear.

Meet Frankie … our family dog. 

***

Hello.

I’ve been trying to get my paws on this thing for a while now but Mum’s a little protective with it. I usually just stay near her as she writes; she laughs and smiles a lot when she does.

I’ve been trying to get on here because I want to tell you how she came to be mine.

You see Mum & Dad had talked about getting the boys (my adopted brothers) a dog for quite a while. It seems they’d visited the shelter a few times and always left empty-handed. Well, that’s where I come in.

I was just a little ball of fluff when I found myself there. Oh the people were nice, but it was a loud, scary place and I didn’t like it very much.  To top it off, they stuck me in with 6 or 7 older, bigger pups. You ever been tossed into a playground with a gaggle of goons? That’s what it felt like: wrestling for attention, not to mention food. I still eat my crunchies away from my pack, even now.

The day I met Mum will live forever in my mind.

my first weekend with my family

I spotted her long before she saw me.  And as they always did, those undignified clods surged the kennel door, clamoring, clawing and yapping for her attention.  And that’s when I made my move… by staying perfectly still. I sat as tall as my 11 pounds could stretch, and I pushed my chest out as far as it would go.  I cocked my head to the right and gave her my most curious look (see above).   And then it happened:  She stopped and reached into our pit of puppies.  Could it be? Could my dreams really be coming true?  I heard her ask, “Oh ..look at you; what’s your story?” She picked me up and cradled me from below.  Shyly, I tucked my nose into the crook of her elbow and kept my head down, shivering with nerves and delight.  She cooed softly and I felt us moving as she walked to the “visiting” room, whatever that was.  She sat on the floor, cross legged, and put me down in front of her. I did the only thing I could think to do: I ran right back to her! She laughed and picked me up again, and then looked me in the eye.  I looked back and then burrowed my face into her neck and licked her hand as politely as I could. She whispered, “Are you sure?” and my eyes pleaded “Yes, Yes! Please pick me.” And she did.

A day passed. I got a bath and yelped a little when poked with something sharp. One more big sleep and my loneliness fell away when I saw her coming for me.  Me! She took me to meet my new family; it was the best day of my life because I not only got her, I got him plus two glorious boys of my very own!  And every day, for all of my 11 years, I’ve had one or the other working out of the house.  They have to leave sometimes, and the boys go away more often, but when they come back to me, it still feels like that very first day.  I’m older now and I don’t run as quickly; it’s hard for me to get up the stairs or onto my boy’s bed, but I still try because they need me so much. I take my job – loving them – very seriously.

I've guarded yards; Rin Tin who?

I've guarded babies

I've guarded hearts ... and they've guarded mine.

Mum says Christmas is nearly here; I know this by the jingle of the shiny things on the door and the boxes under the tree that I’m not supposed to sniff.  I know she’ll bring me squeaky toys and a new bed but what she doesn’t know is that I get to feel Christmas every day.  Why?  I have a fur-ever family. I wish all animals could be as lucky as me.

Rappy Rolidays!

Thinking about adopting a fur-ever friend? For tips to consider, visit  the Humane Society by clicking here .

Categories: Animals, Family, Love, Relationships | Tags: , , , | 42 Comments

Hope, peace, love and Reindear

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.
~Ada V. Hendricks

… and a ReinDEAR to make your heart smile. 

our grand-daughter, M.J.

Categories: Faith, Family, Holidays, Home, Joy | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments

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