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Monthly Archives: May 2012

What you can do today

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States.

A day to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and safety.

What can you do today?

By all means, please enjoy a BBQ, the sun on your face and a cold drink in your hand.  Laugh and goof around with family and friends.  Stand in the yard and look up at the sky and revel in the fact that you can do all of these things without fear.

And then, then you can say thank you.

How?

It’s simple, really.

Don’t know a veteran?  Local Military hospitals and Veterans Homes would be happy to have you volunteer. You can give your time or money. Don’t have a lot to give?   That’s perfectly fine … you’d be surprised how far your monies can go.

When I became a citizen, I asked family and friends attending my celebration party not to bring gifts but instead buy raffle tickets benefiting our local Veterans Home.  Together, we raised over $250 for the “fun” fund – this pays for birthday parties, bingo prizes, board games and such.   I’ve never been prouder – or smiled harder – than I did walking into the V.A. home to present that check.  The same group buys small items for resale in their gift shop: at Christmastime, residents can “shop” for family and friends far away.     I pick items up throughout the year and bring them forward in the fall.  Smiles all around.  Volunteer opportunities can be found here http://www.volunteer.va.gov/.

Lastly, please remember the thousands of men and women still serving us every single day.    Operation Gratitude aims to provide comfort items to troops overseas.    I find Beanie Babies(R) at Garage sales and donate discounted candy; my elderly father-in-law crochets scarves and blankets.  Together, we pool our donations and giggle as we mail in our contributions. You can find a variety of ways to help by visiting their website here http://www.operationgratitude.com/ .

All gave some, some gave all. To our military and their families,  thank you.

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Categories: Attitude, Charity, Faith, Holidays, Patriotic, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 36 Comments

Fill ‘er up

“Many of us harbor hidden low self-esteem. We deem everything & everyone more important than ourselves and think that meeting their needs is more important than meeting our own. But if you run out of gas, remember that everyone riding with you will be left stranded by the side of the road, too.”

– Bishop T.D. Jakes

I read that quote and saw myself in there.

Yep, it was like a slap with a wet towel, the kind my brother used to deliver near Mom’s kitchen sink.

Sharing it here, please know, I’m not advocating selfishness.

I’m just saying that when you’re busy making this weekend’s to-do list, it’s perfectly OK to leave a little room on it … for you.

When you run out of gas, how do you fill back up again?

Categories: Attitude, Family, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, Mom, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 31 Comments

Brown paper packages tied up with string

Brown paper packages tied up with string ….these are a few of my favorite things…

I rec’d these questions in an email and thought they would be fun to share here in the blogosphere.  I’m posting the questions (and my answers) and hope you’ll consider “playing along.”  Just for grins, I’ve answered in pictures because I’m goofy like that.

1.      What’s a movie you’ve enjoyed more than once?

… a delicious little movie …

2.      What recent book has been impactful on you?

by Laura Schroff

3.      What chore would you happily pay someone else to do?

pulling weeds … ugh!

4.      What song will you always crank up the volume for?

mmmm… Elvis

5.      What’s a food you loved as a child? Do you still eat it?

mmmm black licorice !!

I’ve told you a few of my favorite things … Tag, you’re it!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. On Monday, I celebrated four years as a citizen.  I’m grateful for the sacrifices of many … Land of the free, because of the brave!

*all images from Google.images.com

Categories: Attitude, Family, Fun, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, music, Patriotic, Share | Tags: , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

When you know for sure

About 15 years ago, the hubbs and I were working corporate jobs in Houston, Texas.  Our life was fun but our jobs were  fast paced and often stressful.   On a whim, I signed up for a three-day class that took me out of my office cube and into an interactive workshop. This seminar required participants, through a series of interviews, questionnaires and homework assignments, to create their own mission statement. Most attendees were nearing the end of their careers and beginning to think about what was next; I was the youngest by easily a dozen years.

The last day, each of us stood before the class and presented their personal manifesto.  Perusing mine, not one item on it had anything remotely to do with work.

Highlights included:

1.      I want to live in 4 seasons

2.      I want an older house with a screen door

3.      I want the boys to be close to their families

4.      I want to have a dog again (Houston is hot and humid most of the time, and not a desirable outdoor clime for anything sporting fur).

At the end of the class, I tucked my list into my Franklin Planner, went back to work and proceeded to forget all about it

Flash forward a few years … Hubbs and I found ourselves outgrowing our cute little brick home. We realized we could afford a bigger house so off we went, gallivanting through open houses and poring over floor plans.  All of the homes we looked at were big and glorious and about 2 feet from each other.    Hubbs could sense my frustration and one night, sitting out under that big Texas sky, he asked me what was up. “All the houses are beautiful and you don’t like any of them. Why?”  I looked at him with total clarity and said, “I want to live in the 4 seasons again, with a screen door and a dog and have us be near family.”  He quietly commented that “we could do that in Michigan but that’s not possible.” And I said,“why not?”

And once we entertained the “why nots” it was like someone had given us the key to the kingdom.  We could feel the possibilities again.

His mother was ailing, his Step-Dad was overwhelmed trying to care for her and our boys, now 12 and 5 were at as good of an age as any to make a move. Our careers were going great but we figured we could get work anywhere.  We listed our house, sold it in 30 days, rented an apartment over the phone and gave notice to our companies.  They thought we were nuts but I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.  At the last minute, my employer asked if I’d consider working remotely for a year while they went through a merger.  Consider? Heck yeah I’d consider it. 🙂

It was a sweltering June day 12 years ago that we shoved the last of our belongings into a 24 foot U-Haul.  Tears streamed down my face as we left our neighborhood behind; I drove the SUV – as packed with our suitcases and as many snacks  as a 5-year-old could hold.  Oldest boy, then 13, jammed his 6’2” frame into the truck cab with Dad for a bouncy, squeaky ride cross-country.  We had 2-way radios for communication between us.  Three days later, we rolled into Grand Rapids on a mild Michigan morning.  I’ll never forget that feeling; it was the feeling of coming home.

They loaded up the truck and moved to Beverlee … Hills that is … swimming pools, movie stars. {{google.images.com}}

And now as I look back on that time, I marvel that we pulled it off.

I look at our boys and grin when I realize that they grew up knowing their family, enjoying the seasons, banging a screen door closed …  and loving on their dog.

When did you know something for sure?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Family, Growth, Home, Life, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 61 Comments

Virgo and the Circus

I’m not a big follower of Astrological signs. I mean, I read my horoscope from time to time, but I’ve never put much stock into them.

Until I started paying attention to my Hubbs’ Virgo personality:   Tidy. Sensitive.  Analytical.  Logical. Grounded. Keeps feelings inside. Respectful.  Dependable, predictable and loyal.

And mine (Gemini):  Independent. Easily bored.  Creative.  Expressive. Challenging.  Quick. Adventurous.  Cautious, optimistic and loyal.

And then I ponder on how different our interests are:  his love of golf and sports and anything competitive.  My love of being creative: in the kitchen, at the computer, piano or with a paintbrush.

And when I think of us, the image that comes to mind is the Circus.  I just love the energy of the performers, the colors and the action; I would be exhilarated from all that activity.   He would shudder at the mere suggestion.   I love to travel and go; he sweats when filling a suitcase.

But when I picture us, I can’t help but smile at his stoic Virgo-ness and how he gently but firmly grounds my Gemini circus balloons.  On the contrary, it’s my Gemini twins who shake up his world and let him know that coloring inside the lines is not always necessary.  In fact, stepping out of them can be a whole lot of fun.

In the end, I suppose it’s all about balance.

How about you? Have you ever considered how the Zodiac affects your relationships?

I can smell the peanuts from here: google.images.com

Categories: Attitude, Family, Home, Love, Men, Personal, Relationships, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , | 45 Comments

Hope rising

Land of living skies; an emjayandthem photo

Have you ever noticed that while everything around you changes and churns, our sky is always there?

Oh yes, it’s ever moving, especially those prairie skies I remember from days of old.

I found this photo by accident; digging through photos of our soon-to-be-graduate, this one appeared.

It gave me pause.

I stopped what I was doing and, for a time, I was transported.

Once again, I smelled wild sage and marveled at the scars prairie schooners had left in the hillside.  Mica crumbled between my fingertips and I gasped remembering the feeling of ancient arrowheads scratching my skin as I stuffed them into my Levis.

When you find yourself overwhelmed or stressed, do what I do:  Look up.

Look up at our shared sky and dare yourself not to be filled with wonder.

Dare yourself not to be transported.

Dare yourself not to feel hope rising.

Categories: Beauty, Home, Life, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 39 Comments

Live & give

Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people.


Before you tell me how much love your God, show me how much you love all His children.


Before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors.


In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as in how you choose to live and give.

-Cory Booker, Mayor-Newark, New Jersey

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”~ 1 John 2:6

*All images from Pinterest.com

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Life, Love, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 32 Comments

In the details

Yesterday the boys worked through the rain to line my flower beds with mulch.

Pride puffed their chests when Dad said, “Now that’s a job well done.”

The grands – oh they worked hard, too – building forts and cookies with Nana.

We played, we laughed, we dined and we loved.

Delighted giggles filled the house as little ones made memories, baking cookies for Mommy.

Tracing dimpled hands, trying on old Halloween costumes and discovering toys from long-ago.

A day spent just “being.”

Mother’s Day came early you see, and my gift was in the details.

MJ & AB baking cookies for Mommy

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother is a verb, not a noun.  ~Proverb

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Fun, Gratitude, Holidays, Joy, Life, Mom, Quotes | Tags: , , | 27 Comments

“I’m Gay”

Remember when personalized license plates came out? I do and I’ll tell you why.

I was a teen, living a country girl’s dream down on the family farm.  It was summertime and my days were spent riding my horse, swimming in the lake, and hanging with my cousins.  (When I wasn’t pulling weeds, cleaning the basement or helping in the kitchen, that is).

Mom, on the other hand, spent her days running Dad and my brothers back and forth to the field, serving meals, moving farm equipment, keeping up with the garden, and carting my hind-end to swimming lessons.

It was on one of those hot and dusty July days that she lost it.

L-O-S-T it.

Even though she loved living on the farm and said so often, she worked hard to carve out a semblance of a ladylike life in spite of the dust and the chores, the dirt and the animals.

She wore aprons. On Date Nights, she paired cute outfits with kitten heels. Her hair was up in rollers more than it wasn’t. She used her Nivea cold cream at night and her Avon lipstick samples by day, a favorite being “coral frost.”  I lingered when she dabbed a teeny bit of “L’air du Temps” behind her ears before they headed out for an evening.  She also didn’t hesitate to lug the 30lb canister vacuum across the yard and down to the barn; that’s where the nearest outdoor outlet was and, in turn, the only place she could clean out the Pontiac.

It was one of those sweltering summer days that Mom made a declaration, and it’s one I’ll never forget.

She’d worked hard to keep that car – burnt sienna in color – in immaculate condition.  She’d made the payments, not the farm. She kept the gas in it, not the farm.  It was hers and hers alone and, in the 1970s, that in itself was something to be said within earshot of impressionable girls, namely me.

She and Dad planned on watching their horse race later that night; Mom picked out a cute pantsuit and Dad assured her he’d be in from the barn with plenty of time for a bath, a shave, and the one hour drive to the city.

As was her habit, she was ready long before he was.  With his leather jacket and her evening sweater in hand, I watched her head out to the car.

It was then that she saw it: the dusty outline of my brother’s form imprinted on her velour-covered front seat. He had done the unthinkable:  He had taken her car to & from the field, traversing a dusty prairie trail (likely at full throttle) and, in the process, he’d left a mess.

I was in the kitchen, drying dishes. At the table sat my brothers, finishing up the last of their supper.  The clickety-click of her heels was unmistakable as she marched up the stairs and into the house. We turned to face her as she stood before us all, hands on hips, and announced, “I’m Gay.”

Confused, my brothers and I exchanged several wide-eyed looks.

Of course we knew that our Mother’s name is Gay, short for Gaynor, but none of us knew where this was going.

Somehow we knew enough to keep our traps shut.

Standing there, her patent leather shoe tap-tap-tapping the linoleum, she declared, “Yes. I’m Gay. I’m Gay and I’m going to have MY LICENSE plates on MY CAR changed to say EXACTLY that.  Then none of you will ever, ever have the nerve to take MY car out into a dusty field – or anywhere else – again.”

Not driving around with this on my car; google.images.com

With that, she turned, shot my Dad the kind of look that only says “move it!”  He had the good sense to hustle.

Grandpa and Grandma’s 50th Anniversary; Mom’s rocking her red shoes & Dad’s sporting swanky pumpkin socks.

She never did go through with it, you know. She never had to.

Neither brother confessed but neither one ever took her car again, either.

Discussing Obama’s recent shift on same-sex marriage, her commentary didn’t surprise me, “It’s no skin off my nose; love is love.”

Then and now, she inspires me with her abundance of determination, good humor, tolerance and common sense.

 * * *

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

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Family, Home, Life, Mom, Personal, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 41 Comments

Beauty tips

Smile often. Smile hard.

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” ~Mark Twain, Following the Equator

I’m smiling because I love this song and I think I love the video just as much.

I loved it so much I’ve added it to my MP3 player for the drive to work today.  But first I am going to stop and vote, and if that’s not something to smile about, well I don’t know what is.

What are you smiling about today?

Categories: Attitude, Fun, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, music, Opinion, Patriotic, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Vote | Tags: , , , , , | 45 Comments

Keeping my Sundays

I don’t know about you but lately, life’s come at me fast.

My job’s been hectic and our social life equally so.  Recent rains mean the yard needs attention. This old house is always needy and it feels like someone’s calling for me on a steady basis.  I have scrapbooks to finish and graduation invites to mail. And. And. And.

And I’m not doing any of it today.

None of it.

Zero. Zip. Nada.

Yep, I got up this morning, looked out at the week ahead (meetings, travel, projects, conference calls….) and decided  today’s the day.

Today’s the day to do whatever it is I want to do. To do whatever it is my soul needs.

Read. Walk.

Putz in my kitchen.

Play the piano. Sing a song.

Be still. Be quiet.

Be.

“Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.” ~Albert Schweitzer

Put your paws up and rest a spell; image from Pinterest.com

 How about you?  Are you keeping some of Sunday just for you?

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Faith, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Quotes, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 33 Comments

On perspective

Like many of you, I’ve been working out (more) often and happily, I’m starting to see the benefits of my hard work (I’ll blog more about that later ).  The biggest shift has been from feeling obligated and petulant about exercise to looking forward to my time.  I’m proud of the effort, I enjoy the sweating, the puffing, the sore muscles and the energy boost. My clothes are looser, I’ve lost inches in places I didn’t expect to and that keeps me motivated.

But sometimes, in the huffing and puffing and the steadfastness, you come across a few words that make you tip your head back and laugh.  Life still manages to give me perspective where I least expect it.

“I really don’t think I need buns of steel. I’d be happy with buns of cinnamon.” ~Ellen DeGeneres

.. google.images.com ..

What quote inspired you lately?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Food, Growth, Humor, Joy, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 42 Comments

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