Category Archives: Acceptance

Faith is Freedom

Photography by FitzPicz

Photography by FitzPicz

“Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.”

Rabindranath Tagore

I spent last weekend with some good friends. We braved the winter weather of snow and slush. The sun came out briefly before the rain began and gave us something to smile about. It wasn’t a much warmer place, but it was a good place none the less.

I had alot of time to think and rest. Sometimes I find the only way to get inspired is to get out of town. Truly it seems that when I am an hour or more from my own home, my brain starts to relax. It begins to think of new ideas for just about anything, and creative ways to market my business. Without my usual responsibilites for those few days, I can feel free to read, walk, nap or socialize without worrying about what’s for dinner or anything else!

FitzPics

FitzPicz– Beautiful

I’m back home now. Though it is still cold and snowing on and off, I know winter is almost over. In a few weeks I will walk to the back of my field and snow drops will be peeking up through the tiny bits of snow under the trees. I will count the days until Easter and look forward to my church services and a pascal dinner at my aunt and uncle’s. Those snow drops will be only the beginning. After that will be daffodils, tulips, and forsythia. I will know what a spring breeze feels like again. I will wait for the days to get warmer and longer.

Last month I wrote about having a different attitude about winter. So far it has seemed to work. I’ve never been fond of this season and the weather for the last two months has given me its best. But I’ve survived! Here’s what’s contributed to my tiny bits of gratitude and happiness, and kept me in an upbeat mood.

The birds in my backyard. They are here daily and are stunning. Red, blue, black and white. Just gorgeous. The photos I’m featuring today were taken by a friend of my cousin. John is actually from Kentucky but it feels like he is next door to me. The cardinals in flight are simply beautiful. Bird watching has given me pause for gratitude every day. Thank you John for allowing me to showcase your photos!

My friends and family. I make a point to get out at least once a week for lunch with a friend. It isn’t expensive. We do hamburgers or salads and chat it up. There is nothing that can replace a warm friendship with another woman. Nothing. Especially one that you truly love. And I’m thankful for my phone friends as well. I have those too and my God those women are awesome. And family? Well, it goes for the saying that when I am surrounded by my family, I’m in a magnificent place.

So here we are. It is almost March. Hopefully, spring will come a bit early and lighten us all. If not, so what? Faith is freedom. Faith is believing that spring will come and soon enough we’ll be sitting outside, enjoying a cool beverage and a warm breeze!

Thank you FitzPicz

Thank you FitzPicz

Please follow and like us:
1015

Being Ok with Winter

Winter White Pines by my House

Winter White Pines by my House

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

If you know me, you know that I am not the best winter person.

In the past, I have mostly complained about the winter. Too cold, I hate driving in snowy conditions, blah blah blah. But lately things have changed. Or maybe I have changed.

Used to be I lumped winter with Christmas. I thought of winter as Christmas and when Christmas was over, I was depressed at the thought of two more months of snowy weather. How unfair. Why couldn’t Christmas just be a little bit longer?

So I always extended the holiday on my own. I’d leave my decorated tree up longer than most people I know. (last year, it was up waaaay long). But sooner or later, even I have to face the weather.

View From My Window

View From My Window

This year I’m trying something new. I’m making an effort to embrace winter. Currently it has snowed about seven inches here in my neck of the woods. I was in the house most the day Sunday; I made homemade chicken soup. The smell was delicious and made me smile. I filled my bird feeder with sunflower seeds and watched the cardinals, blue jays, and the chickadees compete for best positioning. The birds are probably my favorite part of winter.

Jim was a good sport yesterday and cleared the driveway (thank you to his brother Chuck for use of the plow). I was beginning to worry I wouldn’t get my car down the driveway.

So I’m making the best of it. For years, I commuted fifty miles round trip to work in all kinds of weather. I dreaded those snowy mornings and that stressful drive. We had a terrible snowstorm in Pittsburgh about five years ago and I drove to work the very next day! I still can’t believe I did that. Locals called the storm “Snowmageddon.”

Maybe that makes it all the easier now to relish my pajama filled mornings and endless cups of coffee. 🙂

Lest I gather too much guilt over my current home bound status, I continue to work on my wedding business. I got on Instagram yesterday and boy, that was challenging. I am teaching a wedding planning class next month so plenty to do there. I continue to make optimistic appointments, despite the uncertainty of February weather. I preface each appointment request with the words “weather permitting” and I mean it. We can always reschedule if the roads look a bit too slippery.

So winter, here I am. I embrace thee. And I make another pot of coffee…..

 

Just beautiful

Just beautiful

 

How are you dealing with winter? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
1015

My Unresolutions for the New Year

Calvin is Perfect! Nothing to Change! Photo Credit Decibel Magazine

Resolutions, ME?

Yes, I have to admit that in the past I was always reluctant to set New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I still am. But today I am thinking about what may be worthwhile to change as I go into this new year.

Being an over-doer and over-thinker, I hate setting goals that feel like more pressure. I already place too many expectations on myself and the thought of more pushing can overwhelm me.

But I am thinking that I can set some “un”resolution goals. This could be a good thing for me; a “restore-myself-to-sanity” thing and guess what- my word of the year just happens to be (drum roll please) – Sanity.

So here we go. I’m officially offering up my unresolution goals in the hopes you over-doers out there will join me.

1. I resolve to unhook myself from negative thought. As soon as my mind starts on the “you’re not doing enough, blah blah blah” I resolve to kick it to the curb and look at myself realistically. Am I really doing enough? If the answer is yes, well then, Good Enough is really Good Enough.

2. I resolve to un-counch-potato myself and get the heck to the gym. Yes, I’m signing up for a swim class and not making excuses about why I don’t like to exercise. Enough already- just do it!

3. I resolve to undo my own guilt trips about food. I noticed recently how much grief I give myself about any sweet treats and honestly, I’m tired of my own berating. If I want a cookie (provided I haven’t eaten ten of them already), I’m having it without guilt. If I work on loving my body for what it is (a beautiful thing!), the chances are I will make better choices anyway. (This may not always apply at Sunday’s donut fest after church services. 😉 )

4. I resolve to uncontrol my life more and give the big issues to the Universe. Honestly God does a much better job of figuring things out vs. my struggling and struggling.

5. I resolve to unleash my mind and let it live in the moment. I want to live more freely, more spontaneously, more enjoyably. I don’t need to plan as much, just go with the flow and enjoy what comes my way.

I’m smiling just looking at this list. I think I’ll print it out and hang it somewhere.

Will you join me? If you create an unresolution list, comment below and share a couple.

Happy New Year!

Please follow and like us:
1015

The Differences Between Us

Jim and I in beautiful Nantucket, Fall of 2016

The relationship of husband and wife should be one of closest friends. B.A. Ambedkar

*This post has been so popular I updated it a bit on February 13, 2017

Jim and I will be married 36 years this coming May. The picture above is one of my new favorites, snapped in Nantucket during time away last fall. Though we’ve been married that long, my husband and I are often like night and day. Oil and vinegar. Fire and water. But somehow, it works. We work. We are still a work in progress.

This is a good example of our differences. When I am driving, I anticipate when I will need to get off at an exit. Usually I move over into the correct lane way ahead of time, probably 1-2 miles before. I don’t have to worry about crossing over large amounts of traffic or missing the exit. I like to play it safe.

Jim will be in the same situation and he will not worry about moving over until he is a half mile from the exit. He will need to cross over two lanes of traffic but so what? Even if someone won’t let him by, he will get over somehow. (and he will complain about the guy that didn’t let him over!)

This kind of stuff used to drive me crazy. But if you’ve been married a long time you know. You choose your battles and ask yourself “how important is it?”

Jim has a counter top in the kitchen where he puts all of his stuff. Papers, pencils, change, you name it. I have my stuff concealed in drawers and desks. His counter top used to drive me nuts. It doesn’t anymore. I hardly notice it.

His garage is the same way. A clutter. But he and his brothers can usually find what they are looking for. I’d love to go and organize it for them but I bet they’d have a meltdown. How would they find anything?

I can just about figure out where Jim has been and what he has done in any given day by the trail he leaves behind. Candy wrappers, hammers, pliers. I have to admit I’m guilty of the same thing myself sometimes. It’s just easier to look at someone else’s mess and point the finger. 😉

I’m a taskmaster, an administrative guru. I have file folders for bills and a place for receipts. Jim can usually not find a crucial paper unless it’s on that cluttered counter. Years ago, he would ask me where I put it. Now he asks me if I’ve seen it.

Jim is really the cream in my coffee and the dots on my i’s. Though many years have passed and we have seen our share of good and bad, we are a team. I never think that he doesn’t love me; he adores me in fact and that love is what keeps us together.

It is worth the time and energy to make a relationship work. I love weddings and the thought of forever after. It takes two to tango though and that’s the truth. Thank you Jim, for the willingness to tango.

JimandJo

Please follow and like us:
1015

And the Greatest of These is Love

Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet's Garden NY

Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet’s Garden NY

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13: 13

It was one of those heavy heart weeks. A young woman who I have grown up with my whole life, passed away suddenly at the age of 49.

Jim and I went to the funeral home last week. The line to see her and the family was outside, down the block. Her children were there, young and sweet, playing with their closest friends.

This is more traumatic the older I get. People, loved ones, are passing. I am not happy about it. I try to be accepting of it. All the while wondering what the heck is going on.

I’m sure you know of someone who has passed suddenly, quickly. The family is left wondering, we are all left wondering, what for? Why does this happen?

I tell you. I don’t know the answers. I wish I did. Years ago, I had different ideas, based on fears and folklore. Someone is being punished, someone did something wrong- the whole evil eye stuff I grew up with.

I no longer believe in a punishing God. I believe in a loving, caring, take your burdens off your back God. He is there, ready to lift me up, lift us up from the weight of our sorrow and our problems. Things happen, LIFE happens and grief overwhelms us at times. LIFE is unpredictable, sudden, chaotic.

BUT. It is also Sweet. Delicious. Loving. Caring. We are here for only a short time on this magnificent planet we call earth. As heavy as our sorrow is sometimes, the sun rises the next morning. People go about their business. The world goes on.

Deep down, it is Love that will get us through the worst of times. Knowing the love that WAS, from our departed ones. The LOVE from our family and friends that will see us through. The hugs and kisses they will bestow on us. The prayers they will say and the thoughts they will think.

I know one thing that I don’t want to do. I don’t want to wallow forever, stuck and wondering. I want to grieve and move on. I want to remember forever, the loving person that my friend was and the example she set of family love and devotion. There is light in the darkness and the sun will shine tomorrow morning.

I am certain of it.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Matthew 5:14-15

Please follow and like us:
1015

Surrounding Myself

Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet's Garden NY

Rose by Christina, my cousin, via Monet’s Garden NY

Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher- Oprah

It’s been almost a year since I left my full time job. Hard to believe but here I am, Spring rapidly approaching and life completely changed.

How I can go from being employed full time only a year ago, to my now current state of underemployment (yes, that’s what I’m calling it!), yet still have a full plate of activities, boggles my mind.

I have filled my time with all the things I always wanted to do but had to squeeze in the time for before. Time with my mom, grandson and my own kids, phone and real time with friends, lunch with Jim, working on my business. I pinch myself daily and then say a gratitude prayer.

My event business is slowly gaining speed. I receive phone calls, follow up and then meet people. I have a couple of exciting things on the horizon and really, my cup runneth over. God is blessing me in many ways.

I’ve never been good with uncertainties but lately, I am learning to accept each day as it unfolds. Everything I need is being provided to me. I sometimes miss my full time income but in the next moment, I realize I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s really about what I can do for others.

Remarkably, the friends I am spending time with are lifting me higher. They so believe in me that even I wonder myself what they see. I have felt for a long time that God sees things coming. Perhaps (S)He is sending me the people who will guide me down this constantly changing path of mine. I know this- I will honor the path by keeping the faith.

Is there someone in your life who lifts you higher?

 

 

Please follow and like us:
1015

God Has Confidence in Me

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about minding my own business. It was called Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl. Since then, a few more things have happened that have me scratching my head in wonder.

I’m not sure if it’s this long winter and the toll it is taking on me or others, but honestly, I’m feeling like I need a long vacation. I seem to be ticking people off and not in a good way. It’s been a very trying couple of weeks.

So what do you do when your words or actions are fodder to the fire to another person? I know what I used to do. Admit to nothing, deny everything and counter accuse. I literally could do no wrong. Never looking at my own part in any conflict used to be the norm, even when I might have had that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

What is the difference now? When I upset someone, even if I mean no malice or ill will, I will apologize. If I feel truly in my heart I did no wrong, I will still say “I”m sorry” if someone takes what I did as a personal attack. With this action, I pay attention to my side of the street. I keep it clean.

I do this because I know deep down, God has confidence in me. If there is a lesson to be learned, then let me learn it. Perhaps I am being used as an instrument for someone else’s lesson. Whatever the reason, my soul is restored through honesty and the willingness to look at the log in my eye instead of the splinter in everyone else’s.

The maladies I caused myself by my own past thinking, stinking thinking as I like to call it, were numerous. Sore back, restlessness, discontent, sleeping problems, irritability. It was because my slate was not clean. I carried around burdens and behaviors that I didn’t know how to get rid of. Only through deep introspection and revelation to trusted individuals were these burdens removed. And then apologies doled out, the sweet antidote to my troubled ego.

I fight this of course. Don’t think I go around apologizing and then feeling all cozy and warm. My head fights with me, I chastise myself for getting into situations and not thinking more clearly. But, who is to say that my challenges were not exactly as God planned them? Maybe they were meant that way for a reason.

DSC_0036So I keep plodding along, putting one foot in front of the other, waiting for spring, waiting for the promise of renewal. I will watch for the snow drops soon; they will begin to come up in my back yard. I embrace the sunrise and the sunset because that gets me closer to the beauty of a new season, a fresh start. I go easy on myself because deep down, I am keeping the faith.

Please follow and like us:
1015

Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

Bowl Stack

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of all or nothing will have to be abandoned. Grapevine 1962

So as usual, God has an interesting way of teaching me a good lesson in humility.

Something I did recently, with no harm intended, triggered a domino effect of major proportions. This has served as a reminder to me that a desire for control will sometimes present itself in the most creative ways. And sadly, an issue that could have been solved in a quiet and kind way, ended up bruising my ego and yes I admit, my heart.

I am surviving this by remembering what an old friend taught me years ago. I need to keep my spoon in my own bowl. It is a hard thing to do but truly I think, therein lies the secret to serenity.

When I have my spoon in my own bowl, I cannot pay attention to what is going on in other people’s bowls. Minding my own business becomes easier. It helps me set boundaries and parameters that keep my head in line with my heart. I remind myself, “What other folks do, or think of me is really none of my business.” My own mental health becomes a number one priority.

Bowl SingleYears ago, I had a terrible falling out with a close friend. She was under a lot of stress and one day, called to read me the riot act for a good 5-10 minutes over something I did. During the course of the conversation, she continued to berate me even though I apologized several times. I almost hung up on her but out of respect for our long friendship, I held on until the end.

It took a week or two but I sent her a card. I thanked her for her honesty. I tried to think of that note as act of humility, not a humiliating act.

Our friendship suffered greatly because of this incident. Eventually, I let go of the pain. I didn’t spread any gossip nor did I try and get other friends to take sides. That would have been the easy road. I could have avoided our whole group of friends so I wouldn’t see her. But I was not about to give up my other friends because of what had happened. I continued to show up at get togethers. I just kept my distance from my old friend.

Years later, it was she who reached out to repair our relationship. I welcomed her with open arms. We are dear friends again and I would do just about anything for her.

While driving home today a thought crossed my mind. Could my own humility be a God lesson to someone else? Is it possible that in my own self centeredness, I fail to stop and consider what someone else might learn in a challenging situation? Who knows? I try not to really think about it because after all, my spoon is in my own bowl.

Bowl Multiples with Red Vase

(all photos by me and my lovely Android cell phone!)

How do you practice humility?

Please follow and like us:
1015

Far From Perfection

Christmas Tree

So Jim tells me the emergency room (where he works) has been swamped the last couple of days with all kinds of non urgent cases. I wonder if it’s the stress of the holidays and maybe the dis-EASE born of pressure, overspending, and overeating that most of us are not even aware of. Plus it’s a full moon. Always a factor for consideration.

Used to be I could never get Christmas quite perfect enough. There would always be some small thing I was unhappy about- my own presents, not enough money for everything- you name it and there in would lay my dis-ease. Over the years, I’ve had to get over myself and my quest for perfection in everything. It’s just too much work.

When I was in the big throes of menopause a few years ago, I honestly wanted to check into the Hyatt during the days of Christmas. My responsibilities (or my perception of them) so overwhelmed me I didn’t know how I was going to get through it all. I didn’t want to take medication; I wanted to figure out how to manage without a meltdown. I did it and I have my family to thank for it.

I divided up food obligations and asked for help. We ate out a couple of times or ordered pizza when I wasn’t up to cooking. We rolled up in old blankets on the couch instead of matching sheets and comforters. I got through those hot flashes by easing myself into a humbler, less complicated existence.

Also important is my conclusion that God loves me no matter my flaws. My failed dessert, my dusty house, my occasional impatient words to my husband or kids- thank goodness I am forgiven all of it. I am not unique in the sense of my suffering and the sooner I get over that, the better off I am.

My holidays are not entirely stress free now but they are much better. Years ago I saw a close friend of mine react so calmly in the face of a hostess calamity. She had been through the death of her husband only a few years before. We were outside in her yard and a huge table filled with potluck dishes decided then and there that it wasn’t equipped to handle such a load. Down that table came, crashing to the ground and with it, all those donations of salad and dessert. I watched as my friend calmly finished what she was doing (at the other end of the yard) and allowed her friends to grab and handle the mess. What an example she set for me.

People who have been through the wringer emotionally, financially and otherwise, can sometimes achieve a level of acceptance and serenity about life that serves as an example to the rest of us. Allowing myself the opportunity to work through the great pain and dis-ease of wanting perfection but falling far from it, is the best gift I can give myself.

How are you handling the pressure this holiday season? What have you let yourself off the hook for?

Please follow and like us:
1015

Happiness Is An Inside Job

Happiness is Family. From L to R, sister Cally, Mom, Me, sister Mary

Happiness is Family. From L to R, sister Cally, Mom, Me, sister Mary

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Abraham Lincoln

I was reading the paper this morning and the news is depressing and discouraging. Some of us are unhappy and miserable; worse yet, we are taking our anger out on other people.

Companies expect more and more from their employees. Boundary issues creep up when you want to keep your job but more and more is dumped upon you. What’s a person to do besides chuck it all and head for the hills?

Deep down inside of me there is a little voice that will sometimes cry in the wilderness. If the forest gets too thick, I don’t hear the voice. When I go for a walk with myself, I walk towards the voice. As it gets closer and closer, I slowly regain my sense of self.

What does the voice say to me? It will sometimes say “You are a good person” when really, I am not feeling so good about myself. It will also say “You need to slow down a bit, stop and smell the roses.” Ah, that is a good one. It will also say “You are eating too many mini Snickers left over from Easter.” To that one, I usually laugh and we have a good chuckle together.

I finally consider myself good company. There was a time when I spent no time with me because I was too busy, buried in responsibilities and other mind consuming functions. Rarely did I stop and listen to myself. I sometimes didn’t like what my own inner voice said to me.

Truth is, when I am tired and stressed, my thoughts are not calm. They can be hurtful, toxic and mean. A good night’s sleep and simple food can sometimes restore them. Getting out for a walk or being among nature almost always restores my center.

Happiness is an inside job. Since I cannot change others, I can only change myself. The responsibility to create a happy life is mine and mine alone. So I can either change my thoughts or reposition my own life. Stress management techniques can help us center ourselves better. It is not a sign of weakness to reach out for help. It is a sign of strength.

I bring with me the tools I learned in the past to help me cope with the present. Sometimes I need more tools in my happiness toolkit. These tools I find in great books, awesome people and spiritual encounters. It takes a bit of humility to open myself to a different way of thinking but it is worth it. I am in charge of my own happiness.

Have you ordered/read my book yet? If not, click HERE for the Amazon link. Thank you!

Please follow and like us:
1015