When you think of your home, what space would you most like to treat to a makeover? Recently, Jim and I made the big decision of removing our wall to wall carpet and exposing the gorgeous red oak floors below. It was a major move for us. The floors have been covered since we moved in thirty four years ago. No sanding or varnishing was necessary. The floor is absolutely beautiful.
My home doesn’t look like the picture above (I wish!). But it’s ok for a girl to dream, isn’t it? Since I’ve been taking care of my mom for the past four years, I’ve been embracing simplicity. There are limited extra funds these days but I’m ok with that. Being able to spend time with my mom is worth it. Still I know the day will come when I will pick a new look to go with those hardwood floors.
Let’s dream together, shall we?
I’d like to make my living room the kind of space that would be a welcome retreat. When I come home from a busy day with mom or Penny, I’d like to melt into a comfy sofa with lots of pillows, a throw blanket of fleece or warm cotton, and my perfect reading lamp nearby. Arhaus has a lot of great lamp options you can check out. It might be snowing outside so I’d have a delicious mug of cocoa (yes, with mini marshmallows).
Or, I’d have a warm and inviting chair I could cuddle up to, a soft ottoman to rest my feet on, and the sunshine of the day behind my shoulder. The other colors in the room would be neutral and soothing.
I checked out the Arhaus website recently and found this gorgeous chair. It would be perfect next to the oak floors. A throw pillow behind my back and I’m ready to relax. I’m a fan of white walls. They look so clean. How about a few potted plants? There are plants everywhere in my house including my bedroom. Did you know certain plants are helpful for rest and relaxation?
What would I be reading? I love fiction novels with happy endings, non fiction books that inspire, and decor dream magazines like Country Living. My books would be stacked in fair trade baskets from Serrv. I love their mission and what they stand for.
This past weekend, out of the blue, I ended up in Wexford PA. I stopped at my favorite clothing place and behold, an Arhaus was next door! I stopped in and walked around the store not once but twice. I asked one of the nicest saleswomen ever to take my picture. She asked if this was going to be my Christmas card. I laughed and replied no. I said, “A girl can dream, right?”. She said, “Absolutely!”.
I hope this post will inspire you to think of your home as a sanctuary. Clean out clutter first. Go through your things and decide what’s really important and give away what is not. If you don’t have the energy or motivation to do this, hire someone to help you. Organizers are worth every penny. Then think about what you’d like to do. Check out Pinterest for some great ideas. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming and who knows? When we set an intention, we let the universe know what we want. And I believe the universe will conspire to bring it to us.
“I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”
― Anne Lamott
Happy New Year! How was your holiday? I can’t believe it’s over already. Now it’s back to reality and real life! I couldn’t resist the above quote by Anne Lamott. She makes me laugh, cry and smile, sometimes all at the same time. Reading her books and writing can turn around my whole day.
When I look back on this year, I can consider it an amazing one. I did many more events than I thought possible. My church had a centennial celebration that I was blessed to be a part of. Penelope Katherine, my newest grandchild, was born on January 24 and brought such joy to my (and the whole family’s) life. I published my first book, Ordinary is Extraordinary and sold more copies of it than I thought possible (thank you!).
On the flip side, I was sometimes overwhelmed by too much to do. As usual I think I am managing well but then a dark cloud comes over me. That is why that quote above is especially poignant. I can really relate to it. Sometimes it is other people that bother me, sometimes it is the situations I create myself.
My word of the year for 2016 was Believe. It was a great word and I have kept it in mind all year. I hoped to use it to deepen my faith and I believe I accomplished that goal. I also know I will always keep building my relationship with God. I am never done and He will never be rid of me.
In the past two months, I lost a good friend to cancer. Another friend of mine, who was to be a first time grandmother, experienced a stillborn loss that I am still struggling to believe. Both of these were deep losses that I felt (and am still feeling). This is the hard part of growing up, getting older. You lose people that you love, bad things happen and we don’t understand them.
I remember when my father died almost nineteen years ago. We didn’t really see it coming although he had been sick for quite a while. The day after his death the sun came up. Time waits for no one I thought. Despite the awful loss of my dad, the world did not stop. People came and went. Friends showed up.
Isn’t this how we get through life? We plod along and sometimes there is deep mud to walk through, rain that beats down on us, and the occasional lighting strikes. Then there are those days when the sun comes out, someone gets married, a baby is born, a new friend is made. These events are what makes life worth living.
May you go forward in 2017 with a renewed attitude, a motivation to learn something new, and an awareness of the grace that will surely come your way.
I wanted to share some highlights of my year. These moments were especially wonderful. xo
“Purpose implies a spiritual intention, a goal that helps define why an individual chose to travel to this earthly plane.” Lillie Leonardi
Lillie Leonardi and I go back a few years. My sister Cally was instrumental in helping her with her first book, “In the Shadow of a Badge.” When Cally pitched a story to the Huffington Post about Lillie’s book (during a fourth of July weekend), Lillie’s book took off in popularity. She’s now a Hay House author and “The White Light of Grace” is her second book.
I have had the pleasure of being around Lillie through my sister. My feeling about her is that she is tough on the outside and soft and caring on the inside. We have some core things in common. She was a young mother and my daughter was a young mother. We talked about this once and her sharing was very helpful. Our fathers were key in our lives and we were very close to them. We both have had pasts that were affected by alcoholism the disease.
In reading “In the White Light of Grace” it struck me how much Lillie has pushed herself to grow. She became a police officer at a fairly young age and at a time when not many women were doing such a thing. My favorite story is when she responded to an emergency call for a domestic situation. She found a woman in the home, assaulted and alone. She interviewed her and as Lillie was walking out and onto the porch, the woman’s husband came walking around the corner. Here’s what she says:
“I knew instinctively that he must be the woman’s husband. No words were necessary. His manner and her reaction to his presence said it all. Within seconds, he began screaming obscenities. He was furious at her for calling the police. “Leave the premises or I will arrest you!” I shouted. Without any warning, the man lunged at me and yelled, “Yeah, you and what army?” Before I had time to gather my thoughts, I grabbed him and shoved him over the front porch rail. He landed facedown on the ground. I ran down and managed to cuff him with one swift sweep of the hand. As I lifted him from the ground, a patrol car pulled up along the curb and an officer I did not recognize asked me, “Are you okay? Where is your backup?”
Of course Lillie did not have a back up. She did it all by herself. There were some men sitting across the street, watching the whole thing. All at once they started clapping and singing, “I am woman, hear me roar.” GO LILLIE!
If you believe in angels, this is the book for you. Lillie details her early and repeated encounters with Archangel Michael in many chapters of the book. In her childhood she referred to him as the “Blue Man with wings.” She was reprimanded about her sightings and so stopped sharing them with others. But she did not stop believing and always felt herself channeled to the angels.
“It seemed as if I had an energy that flowed to me, through me, and permeated every aspect of my being. And although my youthful mind was not able to fully comprehend angelic channeling, I was astute enough to recognize that something amazing was transpiring.”
Lillie loved to retreat to her bedroom to write and dream of angels. In her chapter “The Origins of Grace”, she talks lovingly of her grandmother Situ (Arabic for grandmother) who encouraged her to believe and have faith. Situ encouraged her to pass this birthright on to the next generation. Lillie believes this has been a blessing on her family to have these gifts.
I preferred to read Lillie’s book slowly and savor it, rather than hurry through it. It reads like a spiritual reference guide, encouraging the reader to think of their own experiences and how to live a more openly spiritual life. The book is beautifully written and is a lovely example for me as I move forward on my writing journey.
Other chapters contain insight into Lillie’s recovery from PTSD, her health issues, male relationship struggles, mother daughter angst, and deep sharing about her love for her father.
“As I look back on my life, I am amazed at the twists and turns it has taken. In retrospect, I can see that it has been filled with time of pain and sorrow mixed with moments of sheer joy. Each chapter has moved my life towards surrender and grace.”
I have a guest blogger today! She is my friend from the West Coast, Ms. Daleen of Sunday’s Child. When I read this post, I admit to crying just a bit. 🙂 Friendship can be that way. God has blessed me with amazing friends.
Here’s her sweet post. Please leave a heartfelt comment and I’ll enter your name in a drawing to win an autographed copy of my book!
Admit it, we have all said it. “Geesh, I need some new friends.”
While in algebra class, it was easy to find a study friend. During ballet practice, friends were there to help us learn. Moving with the Army, we met new friends every 4 years.
However, once you go over the 50 year mark, new friends are few and far between.
Most of us have settled down, take a class now and then, same job or work from home, same church friends, same neighbors, not many faces change.
Then when you aren’t looking, almost magically, God hears your prayer and slips a new friend into your pocket. One of those good kind of friends. The ones with a fabulous laugh & beautiful heart. The kind of friend who while talking on the phone, just as she arrives at an event, you politely say good bye and good luck, then SCREAM, WAIT! Do you have on cute earrings and good lipstick? Seriously, she says, oh yes. Then tells you the kind of earrings and shade of lip stick she chose.
To be honest, you feel a tiny bit guilty that she is making others wait while she finishes the phone call. (To the world, it looks like an important phone call. Reality check, Lipstick color IS important!) Along with that tiny bit of guilt, you feel lucky. Lucky that she is your friend and she is choosing to answer your important lip stick question before she races off to put the fine touches on an event.
Little did I know those five words would help me find a friend. I write about the grace that swirls around me.
As you well know, life throws us for a loop now and then. A couple years ago, I was on the ground trying to get back up onto the trampoline of life when Joanne offered me a cup of coffee and a hug.
Two people living on opposite sides of the country, God saw fit to bring us together. It is Grace pure, sweet and simple.
I can’t tell you how many times I have written a slip of paper for my grateful jar about Joanne. (I just re-read this, it sort of sounds like I am a weird stalker of some sort. I prefer to think of it as the Joanne Fan Club!)
Joanne sent me a good wish card with a picture of lilacs!
Joanne has a new grand baby!
Joanne shared some honey!
Joanne published her book!
Believe it or not, we have never had a cup of coffee in person. Honest truth. We text and say, I can chat in 15 minutes, pour your coffee and let’s talk. Then we get to put our feet up & drink coffee until the cup is empty or our phone batteries die. snort. Yes, we have talked over those annoying beeps. Oh you don’t know? After you chat for 3 hours on your phone it starts beeping. The beeping means, Enough girls……..go live more life so you have something to talk about next time.
We talk about our grands. We talk about food, husbands, kids, weddings, more food, bees, honey, quilts, cross stitch, blogs, lipstick, earrings, books, writing books, travel, vacations and yes plans to meet one day.
Joanne writes a blog about grace & love. She writes what she lives. With the amazing ability to make those around her feel covered in grace and goodness, she somehow makes you feel better just by stopping by.
Yes, her writing is a respite in the glorious commotion of the day. She gracefully & simply refills your spirit. Her words remind you that there is good out there and there is an abundance for all of us.
One day, she asked if I would help her with her book. Good Golly, Miss Molly! I was beyond flattered that she would consider me. I was rubbing my hands together with glee. So excited and thrilled that she asked me to be part of her book writing journey.
Oh no, then it hit. How on earth was I going to look over her writing and make as I call them “gentle suggestions”? While in school and even when I home schooled, I loathed corrections made with red ink & capital letters. Urgh. Seemed so mean and awful and not very encouraging. I didn’t want to come off as a school marm with a waaaaaay too tight hair bun, slapping a ruler in my hand wearing less than cute shoes. I didn’t want to judge.
The air quickly leaked out of my (imaginary, celebratory) fancy balloon bouquet.
While I was thrilled for her book accomplishment, I didn’t want, even gentle suggestions to smudge our lovely friendship. We had to talk.
We talked and talked and wrote back and forth and talked some more.
In the end, I used green ink to make my gentle suggestions. I asked questions. Some suggestions she jumped on, others she gently let go. We found a way to balance on the see saw.
In the style of friendship, grace guided us through.
Oh yes, I am beyond happy for her and her accomplishment. I am grateful we worked on part of her dream together. It was such a huge moment her life, by her sharing, somehow our friendship sort of seems sealed in the grace of the work.
I got to chat with her on the day her book cover was decided. The day her book was being published, again we talked. We talked as she drove to her book launch.
As I tore open the end of that padded yellow envelope, I held my breath, the book, her book slipped gently out and onto my counter. I was teary eyed.
I am so proud of my friend. She is (with gorgeous lipstick, sassy earrings and a beautiful smile) standing in the middle of her goal. Sort of dream like, only for real.
Heartfelt congratulations my friend! I loved watching you cart wheel through the book writing process. You inspire us, your readers.
Here is the beautiful part. The book is good. Really good. Each chapter is a nugget of gold. You feel bathed in grace with each page you turn. You almost don’t want to dog ear the corners. Ha. I already have. I have drawn hearts and underlined inspiring phrases. You feel as though you are sneaking a peek into her world. Secret gems that you might use in your own jumble of life. I know the book was written with the idea of reading a chapter here or there with a lovely cup of coffee. However, once you open the cover, you fall into the pages and are covered with goodness & love. You can’t put it down. Yes, that good.
Grace, it’s Amazing.
From Joanne: Thank you Daleen for this beautiful post! Friends, please leave Daleen a comment and you will be entered to win an autographed copy of my book! Be sure to check out Daleen’s blog!
Today is a special day. I am sharing my first book with you! The excitement of this has been building over the last couple of months and I am over the moon about it. This weekend I will be speaking at the women’s empowerment conference in Ligonier, PA and sharing my story.
When I received the first early copies of my book, I gave one to the mother of my granddaughter Penelope. Jessica is my friend and the partner of my son John. She is the manager of the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Allegheny Valley, PA.
As luck would have it, Jessica, Penelope and I went on a little field trip yesterday. We visited another Restore and stopped for lunch afterwards. We talked about how to market my book and Jess offered to do a review for me. I took her up on the offer!
So here, without any further ado, are Jessica’s thoughts on “Ordinary IS Extraordinary.”
When I read Ordinary IS Extraordinary I was nursing my infant daughter, Penelope, and read most of it out loud to her.
We cried at different parts for different reasons…
I had tears in my eyes when Joanne shared her journey of rediscovering her faith and loving herself. I smiled as I pictured her as an awkward young person. Looking down at Penny while we read, I couldn’t help wondering if she would face some of the same challenges in life.
I was inspired by Joanne’s discoveries of growth, as the lens she saw both the world and herself through, changed as her experiences colored the glass.
When I closed the book..I found myself savoring so much of her insights, that I let out a huge breath I didn’t know I was holding…and with it a burden I didn’t realize was there. As for Penelope, she always loves hearing her Nana’s adventures, even when she’s hungry.
Grab a cup of Jo, your favorite snack, and devote a morning or afternoon to walking in her footsteps. I know you’ll enjoy the landscape. The writing is honest and you’ll feel as though she is sitting across from you on that lounge chair, having a coffee, sharing in your delight along the way.
From Jessica Levine
Jessica, thank you so much for your beautiful words!
Click HERE to order my book on Amazon. There’s a Kindle version too! You may want to order two books ;), one for you and one for a friend.
When you read Ordinary IS Extraordinary, I’d love to hear from you! Please email me at email@example.com with your thoughts. If you are a blogger that writes on spirituality, I would be happy to send you a book to review.
Sophia Mou, Thank you for saving me from myself. I know you will be magnificent tonight.
Love, Dino (from Evanthia’s Gift, by Effie Kammenou)
I haven’t written a book review in a long time so I am well overdue. I guarantee you this book is worth the wait.
I have been following the blog “Cheffie’s Kitchen” for about a year. I’m not sure how I found Effie Kammenou but I’m so glad I did. Her blog is filled with stories and old world Greek recipes, the kind I grew up on. As a matter of fact, my mother Katherine and I love to look over Effie’s blog and see what she’s cooking.
So when I saw that Effie wrote a multigenerational Greek love story entitled “Evanthia’s Gift”, I was intrigued. I wrote to her and she offered to send me a copy to read. It was a few weeks before all the holiday hoopla and Jim’s hip surgery was coming up. I began the book and loved it from the get go. It was reminiscent of my heritage, my family, and a love for all things Greek.
I finally finished the book this past weekend. I chose to savor it and not rush through it. When I finally began to dig in last week and dedicate myself to reading it, I could hardly put it down.
Here’s a few bits and pieces about the story, just to tease you. It starts out in the 50’s and Anastacia Fotopoulos is pregnant. Her husband does something unthinkable and Ana goes off and running to her family. Of course they fix the whole problem (they’re Greeks!) and Ana goes on to meet and fall madly in love with Alexandros Giannokos (what a name!). The child is born and they name her Sophia. The Giannokos and their other Greek neighbors, The Papadakis’, are very close and do everything together. The Papadakis’ have a son and daughter. The son is Dino. From the time they are little children, Dino watches over and protects his Sophia Mou.
As he grows up, Dino begins to object to his father’s strenuous adherences to Greek heritage and culture. Of course this causes a rift between him and his father. This affects Dino and Sophia’s relationship as well. You can probably guess what happens but I’ll tell you this. Their lives are like all others; the very good moments intertwined with the seriously challenging. Things do not go smooth for Sophia and Dino and I could not predict (as I usually can do) where this book was going to go. But their love and devotion to each other is the kind you wish and hope for in your life. They are madly, passionately in love.
During the holidays, the two families cook up a storm and Effie puts her magical Greek recipes in between chapters of the book. Tantalizing recipes for baklava, revani, tiropita, pastisio, and many more. You can practically feel yourself sitting at the table and eating along with the Giannokos and Papadakis families for Easter and Christmas.
Effie’s writing style is engaging. She weaves this story effortlessly, smoothly, and in such a warm fashion. I am in awe of how she sets us up at the end for the next book. Bravo Effie! I can’t wait to read it!
Click HERE for the Amazon Link. Kindle Unlimited readers- it is free.
Years ago, my first employment right out of college was as a recreation director for a faith based nursing and assisted living ministry.
I had my own office and thought I had reached the pinnacle of employment success. My responsibilities included programming all the activities for 40 nursing wing patients and 40 residents. Meals for them were all provided, meds dispensed, oh and by the way, they were all women.
The average age was 85. It was a challenge to do activities planning with seniors of such limited physical movement. So I planned birthday parties of the month, brought in entertainment, utilized my piano playing skills (yes mom and dad, this did pay off!) and even brought in dogs through an organization that catered to the elderly.
But my absolute favorite activity was Poetry Corner. At first, I had a large turnout but gradually the numbers dwindled. Soon, it was just me and Constance. I loved Constance. She was in her mid 80’s and had alot of spunk. She also had a chaise lounge in her room that I loved. I’ve had a fondness for them ever since! One of these days, I’m going to have myself a chaise lounge.
Constance loved poetry and instilled in me an even greater love of classical poetry. She had two “Heart Throbs” books and we read from them over and over again. If you’ve never heard of them, here is what the inside foreword had to say about volume two: “Following the first announcement of “Heart Throbs” six years ago has come the most fascinating experience ever allotted to publishers. This book, containing 840 selections made from the contributions of 52,000 people, has become a classic in thousands of homes and libraries. The simple bringing together of the favorite selections of the people has far transcended the results of any mere literary or editorial compilations.”
I grew so fond of the books that when I left my employment at the home, I asked Constance if I could have them. She said YES.
Since then, life, marriage, children have all taken precedence. I’ve not looked at the books much but I do bring them out every Valentine’s Day. I happened to think of Constance recently and my heart did a leap. Her face came into perfect view and I can remember her just like it was yesterday.
In honor of Constance, here is one of my favorite poems:
“People who love to eat are always the best people.”
― Julia Child
I have a confession to make. When my husband wanted to raise chickens a few years ago, I was not in favor of it.
Yes, it’s true. I pictured my grandfather’s chicken coop, messy and scary with cackling chickens all around my feet, just scaring the beeswax out of me.
Well, here I am all these years later, admitting the truth. I love fresh eggs. Jim and our daughter Michelene have kept their word and they’ve taken good care of the chickens, all without any responsibility on my part. That was the other thing I was wary of. That the care of the chickens would become my responsibility.
Nothing of the sort has happened. And in the meantime the delicious yellow yolks, bright as sunshine, coupled with the delicate white have graced our table many times. In any way shape or form, the eggs are delicious. Scrambled or sunny side up with a side of toast, or cracked into the latest cake, those eggs have become a part of our lives.
Now some of you know I have been blessed to have a blogger friend on the west coast, Sunday’s Child. She began her own love affair with chickens last year! She has an awesome coop and has just embraced the whole chicken raising thing, chick and caboodle.
Recently, Ms. Child began to place her light brown or green eggs amongst her pitcher collection or in other very creative places and snap beautiful artistic pictures. The juxtapositioning of the eggs! The beauty of the pitchers! The sunny yellow of the daffodils! My oh my, my heart was singing!
I casually mentioned to Ms. Child that she ought to consider a coffee table book with those spectacular pictures, alongside say some great egg stories and perhaps some yummy egg recipes. At first she said, “Haha, funny, yes, you and I would be the only ones buying the book!”
But then her friends started to tell her the same thing. I sent her an email and she said someone had mentioned the coffee table book idea to her right before I did. (I think there are no coincidences!)
So we are exploring this idea of an artistic, yet country style EGG BOOK. What do you think? Are you an egg lover yourself? Do you have an inspiring egg story to share? Better yet, do you have an original or favorite egg recipe that you’ve made for years? Believe me the simplier the better. I love easy recipes.
Please share your thoughts and ideas with us. If you want to email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org, that’s fine. If not, leave a comment below and I’ll know egg-actly how you feel!
“From the clear center of my heart, there are no edges to my loving you. I’ve heard it said there’s a window that opens from one mind to another, but if there were no wall, what need of installing a window?” – Rumi
I found it interesting that the authors believe that most aches, pains, diseases and emotional suffering are gifts in strange wrapping paper. They are messages to discovering the truth of who we are. There are some stories and examples given that illustrate how early traumatic incidences can have deep emotional roots in our subconscious.
The theory is to learn that these symptoms are not personal in any way, but rather spiritual in every way; they are wake- up calls to alert us to evolve to our fullest potential.
Do I agree with this? Tentatively, yes. I have to say that I think many illnesses are stress related and triggered by old emotions we have no conscious awareness of.
The book identifies a way to work through uncomfortable problems and just about every situation. It’s the See Feel Hear Challenge. I’m not going to give it all away but basically the authors teach us how to slowly allow ourselves a way in which to face and work through anything that is causing us pain or discomfort. No crazy stuff, just good old fashioned introspection- and a whole lot of courage.
My favorite section is on setting an intention. This is something I am trying to do more of lately and the book describes the process in very good detail and easy to understand directions.
Other chapters are on responsibility and the freedom to choose, social conditioning, addiction and compulsions and some other challenging subjects. If you are looking for a book to guide yourself into the next spiritual plane, this one may be exactly what you are looking for.
And here is my disclosure per Hay House Publishers. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.
There are some other reviews of this book on Amazon.com.
When my grandson Gavin was born, there was really no easy Greek translation of his name. So when he was christened, the baptismal name he was given was Gabriel.
Since then, it has been my wish that the Archangel Gabriel watch over and bless my grandson Gavin. And with that thought, I just couldn’t resist the latest book from Hay House Publishers “The Miracles of Archangel Gabriel.”
The author, Ms. Doreen Virtue, has also written a book on Archangel Michael. In her book on Gabriel, Ms. Virtue goes into a biblical history of the Archangel, beginning with the poetic first words he spoke to Mary, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…..”
From there, the author takes us through chapters of how Gabriel has assisted women through conception and pregnancy, parenting and childhood, and interestingly enough, how the Archangel has affected writers and the way they communicate to others.
For those of us who love to write, Ms. Virtue urges us to press on. “I believe that the desire to write is a signal that it’s part of your life purpose. Those who continually think, I should write, are getting Divine guidance to express heavenly messages through a book, article, blog or other medium. In some cases, Gabriel will suggest journaling or keeping a diary as a way of opening the creative pipelines. Whatever form the writing takes, the process of putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is soul- stirring.”
I loved that motivation! This book is encouraging and thoughtful, with beautiful pictures and inspirational stories. If you are looking to further your knowledge of Archangels, this is a great book to add to your collection.
And of course, here is my disclosure per Hay House. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.