In My Dreams

A place to nestle. Outerbanks Couch- Photo by Arhaus

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.

Serrv Baskets

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!”.

Wow, love this sofa!

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.

Blessings,

Joanne

I loved these 25 Cozy Interior Design Ideas from Lushome. Click HERE to check it out.

Have you done a makeover recently? Do you wish for one? Share your ideas here or on my Facebook page. If you want, set an intention and share it with us!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Amazing Things Are No Coincidence

The definition of happiness. Thank you to my sisters and everyone who gave us photos.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that God is at work, making things real, bringing people together and spinning His magnificent magic.

There have been a couple of things that happened recently that drove this home even further for me. My son was married on Labor Day weekend and so many wonderful and amazing things happened. I want to share some details that I’m still in awe about.

Amazing thing #1-

About an hour before the church ceremony we realized that Penny’s dress was at home. This was fine except we were half an hour away at the church when we realized this. I frantically called my sister in laws, managed to reach one of them, and fifteen minutes before the ceremony, they arrived with dress in hand. Penny walked down the aisle like nothing ever happened.

If my future daughter in law would not have said to me, “So where is Penny’s dress?” when she did, Penny might have walked down the aisle in her old pink onesie. Ha! Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Both Beautiful- Penny with her cousin Deanna

Amazing Thing  #2-

A blogger friend of mine, Daleen of Sunday’s Child, happened to be on the east coast from the west coast just days before the wedding. We have been phone friends for five years, sharing stories and encouragement in all walks of life, and here she was (and her lovely husband to boot), coming near me for the first time ever.

Almost a year ago Daleen and I realized this could happen. I kept hoping (and praying) the timing would work out and yes folks, it did. The night before the wedding Jim and I met Daleen and Bruce in the lobby of the Pittsburgh Hyatt (surreal!!) and whisked them to the rehearsal dinner. Wedding day dawned and we met for an early breakfast in the hotel. It was then that Daleen did the unimaginable. She offered to come over my house and gather the sunflowers into bouquets for Jess, Michelene, and Jana (and others!).

When we arrived at my house I ran around getting things together while Daleen made bouquets. The mason jars of fresh sunflowers from McConnells’ Farm were already together and I made yellow rose boutonnieres the day before. I decided to use soda pop plastic holders to contain the mason jars (genius!) and Bruce and Jim loaded everything into the car for the trip to the church.

When I nearly had a meltdown over Penny’s dress, Daleen and Bruce calmly offered to go and get it. Thankfully that wasn’t necessary but still, wow, what an offer.

Top row, L to R, Presbytera Anna and Me. Bottom, L to R, Daleen and Bruce, friend Lillian

Amazing Thing #3-

My sister Mary and I made a rogue Greek CD of music to play at the wedding. I wanted to do the official bridal dance while Jim splashed money over John and Jess. We had a blues band at the wedding- Eugene and the Night Crawlers (yes, that is really their name)- and I called Eugene a couple weeks before the wedding to see if he had a CD player attached to his speakers.

“Yes M’am”, he said. Ok, I figured we were all set except when it came time to play the song, Eugene’s CD player was one of those compact Walkmans from probably ten years ago. The disc was spinning but nothing was coming out of the speakers.

After a few tense minutes, my son wandered over and used his IT skills to diagnose the problem. I said a silent prayer something like, “God, help me. Can you please make this happen?”

Within two minutes, my sister had downloaded the song on her iphone and we plugged it into the speakers. Out came the official bridal dance song, played at just about every Greek wedding I’ve ever been to. We danced our hearts out to that one song.

Where was God? Everywhere. He was just ……everywhere. The icing on the cake was the comment Daleen made to me after the wedding. She said that Bruce’s definition of happiness from now on was going to be my face as I walked down the aisle. His definition of radiant? Jessica, as she walked down the aisle.

Radiant Bride and Handsome Groom

There are amazing things going on in our life every day. Instead of taking those wonderful moments for granted, or chalking them up to luck, think again. It’s the spiritual that really makes those things happen. I’m still in awe over my son’s wedding and thankful for the many blessings then and now.

My Family! From L to R, Cally, Me, Mom, Mary

A load of gratitude to my sisters who took great care of my mother the week before and week after the wedding. Thank you so much!!

Blessings to Ann, Jess’ mom, who is recovering from health issues. Please say a prayer for her.

There are more pictures on my Katherine’s Daughter Event’s blog. Click HERE for the link.

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
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The After-Holiday Holiday

I know the southern snow will not last. It will be gone soon and only the memory will remain. If you live in an area not normally affected by large snowfalls, what did you do? My guess is you hunkered down, put warm clothes on, and made something special to eat or drink. Maybe you made a good cup of coffee or cocoa. Maybe you lit a fire.

My blogger friend Michelle took a long walk in the woods with her lucky dog. She turned a beautiful snowfall into a good reason to get some exercise. We should all do the same thing. I was so impressed with this. If I was ten years younger I’d get my boots on. 😉

I am used to snow in January and February. Two years ago I wrote on how I tried to embrace winter and just accept it. I wanted to find joy in it instead of feeling depressed over shorter days and less light. It worked. I changed my attitude and there was a definite shift in how I feel about winter.

When I worked full time, I wished for days when I did not have to clean the snow off my car at 6 am on January mornings. The long drive into Pittsburgh wore on me as I got older. I didn’t mind it in the younger days but my mind and heart were not into it as I got older. Now, without that commute, I am free to relish snowy mornings. To look out the window at them and revel in their beauty- the sunlight on the snow, the colorful birds at my feeder, the deer in my back yard munching on the hard corn that Jim has sprinkled for them.

This is the time of year when I get some rest. After the holidays, this is my holiday. I enjoy this quiet after Christmas down time. My tree is still up, the twinkle lights and red/white ornament colors a glowing contrast to the darker days. I’ve put most of my other decor away, but the tree is the last to go. The twelve days of Christmas were just over; let me enjoy the feeling as long as I can.

Winter Beauty- My Christmas Cactus’ are still blooming!
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Sunlight through the Fog

Foggy Morning Beauty
Early Morning Beauty

When I took Jordan out early Thursday morning, there was a beautiful mist. Everything was covered in a soft white glow and the glorious super moon was still present in the sky. I was so taken by the sight of it all that I went back in the house for my phone. Snapping photos while enveloped in the mist, I was witness to the magnificent dawn.

My wedding season ended last Saturday and I’m looking forward to no commitments for the next few months. This break will give me the freedom to do whatever I want- a luxury in my mind. I am a worrier by nature (I come by it honestly!) and so it takes an effort for me to let go of thinking too far into the future, i.e. next year’s season, will there be enough events, will there be too many? (oy!)

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”
– Leo F. Buscaglia

What do you worry about? (Maybe you’re not a worrier- lucky you!) For as long as I can remember, I hold too much weight on my shoulders. I’m a recovering perfectionist you know, one of God’s most needy children, and it is only through faith that I’m able to work at turning things over. When I saw the sunlight through the fog that morning, it reminded me that God can be the beacon through my worry. The worry is the fog, the sunlight is faith.

“Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.”
– Henry Ward Beecher

Faith is a deliverance from worry. It is a breath of fresh air, a dark chocolate bar, a new puppy. It reminds me that everything will work out in its time. The one thing I try to remember is that I cannot solve my problems all at once. Honestly, sometimes waiting it out proves more helpful. Rather than force solutions, I pray, turn it over, and let God provide the answers.

This week, for the first time ever, I joined my church women’s group as they made homemade nut rolls (yes, from scratch). They sell them and donate all the profits to charity. This has been going on for AGES but I was always too busy to participate. This year, I wanted to help. I showed up at the chosen time; one of the ladies was making dough, the other was mixing nuts with various ingredients for the filling.

Over the course of the next half hour, other women showed up. I was told to bring a rolling pin and I did. Soon there were several of us rolling. I can’t tell you how therapeutic this was. I rolled dough for a while then I helped spread filling. I think we made at least 30 nut rolls that morning.

When it was all over, one of the ladies made lunch. Delicious scrambled eggs with fried potatoes, Greek salad, feta cheese and pita. My favorite part? A warm from the oven nut roll, cut up in big chunks. Boy was that good.

I told an Orthodox friend later that this experience inspired me. She said ” Treasures In Heaven”. I asked her the meaning of that and she said, “What you do here on earth will bring you treasures in heaven.” To work with these ladies (I was the youngest one there I think), spend time with them, learn from them- it was something sweet. And I’ll tell you. I didn’t worry about a thing when I was rolling dough.

Rolling out the doug
Rolling out the dough
Spreading nuts
Spreading nuts
Just before baking
Just before baking
The finished product!
The finished product!

Looks wonderful, doesn’t it? If you have an opportunity to make treasures in heaven, wow, I encourage you to do so.

To you and your family – have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

For another inspiring story, check out my latest post on the Orthodox Christian Network. Click HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
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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.

FitzPicz
FitzPicz

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

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Into the Quiet

Beautiful deer, Photo by my daughter Michelene
Beautiful deer, Photos by my daughter Michelene

“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”
Mary Oliver

How has your new year been so far? After a calm weather period during the holidays, it has been so cold and snowy here in the Northeast. I started my new swim class of the year, diligently bundling up in sweaters and boots afterwards (yes, the class is indoors!), and walking to my car to 2 degree weather.

Cold, yes. But the swim class has lifted me up, reminding me of how much I love a chance to move my body, especially under the water. I’m taking a simple aqua balance class twice a week at the Y, and what a difference in how it makes me feel.

This is typically the time of year when we want to lose weight, start new goals. It’s a good time to re-evaluate what’s working and what to leave behind. I am trying to work on balance. I stand on one leg in swim class while pulling my other leg up and holding it. Sometimes I can stand perfectly still; other times I cannot! But I don’t mean just physical balance. I mean overall balance in my life between work, family, and play.

Life is so busy. I scratch my head over how hard people are expected to work these days. It seems like thDeer Winter 2015 #4ere is never enough time in a day to get it all done. More sales, more meetings, more internet time. Maybe it’s time to take a step back.

So I am Into the Quiet as of late. Yes I am still trying to accomplish much. Yes, I am working on my business and following up on leads. But I am usually wrapped up in my sweater at night, reading or watching a favorite show. I spend time with my mother. I made time to make chocolate chip cookies. I can take a break from accomplishing.

Jim has been putting dried corn out in our back yard for the deer. I have been filling up my bird feeder. Around dusk the deer will sometimes come. The other night we had six deer come for a visit. One was a six point, one a four point. There were some yearlings too. The birds come all day and visit the feeder. What do they remind me of? Peace. Quiet. Why? Because I stop and watch them. I am still.

So here’s to the new year.  A chance to work, but also a chance to rest. To establish new habits of quality time with myself and slow down just a bit. To listen, and to hear myself.

Wonder what he's thinking???
Wonder what he’s thinking???

Winter Deer and Bird

 Winter Birds

Just Beautiful
Just Beautiful
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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!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Finding Holiday Peace of Mind

Winter Sunrise by Jim C.
Winter Sunrise by Jim C.

“The Simple Path
Silence is Prayer
Prayer is Faith
Faith is Love
Love is Service
The Fruit of Service is Peace”
Mother Teresa

How are you finding holiday peace? I have to tell you- I am not finding it at big box retail stores. It’s not in the canned music on the radio station either.

Instead, I am finding peace through time with friends and family. I am also finding it through tiny bits of service.

I don’t have much extra money these days so I look for creative ways to serve others. Last week, a good friend of mine gave me a pail of dog food. She lost both her pets a few weeks ago and I said yes to the food for my dog Jordan. Here’s what happened on the way to my mom’s, less than an hour after she gave me that pail.

I was driving up a long hill and noticed a small dog running across the road. I slowed down. Then a young teenage boy appeared, running after the dog. I slowed down even more. Next thing you know, the dog runs back across the road and the boy is flailing his arms as if to stop traffic.

I remembered that dog food in the back of my car. I pulled over and flipped open my hatchback. I grabbed a handful, sat down on the ground, dropped the dog food next to me. Can you guess the rest?

I called the dog and here he comes. It takes less than one minute. The boy grabs the dog while it goes for the dog food. In between hugging his dog, the young man says at least three or four grateful thank you’s in a row. I said “thank you for helping me do a good deed today.”

My Grandson Gavin (L), Anna, My Daughter Michelene (R)
My Grandson Gavin (L), Anna, My Daughter Michelene (R) making sandwiches!

At my church two weeks ago, fifteen plus volunteers assembled 240 ham sandwiches to make 120 lunches for the hungry families of FOCUS Pittsburgh, the Orthodox ministry center in the Hill District. Jim and I delivered them next morning and wow, was that a good feeling.

Small ways to serve, and BIG ways to serve. I read with interest the woman who went to Toys R Us in Bellingham, Mass and paid off $20,000 worth of layaways. (I wondered how much her personal wealth is. Maybe that was most of it?) Or 9 year old Jarrett who cashed in a $160 tablet he won in a school fundraiser, grabbed tags from the angel tree and bought gifts for 15 children. Amazing.

It’s nice to do great big things but it is also very fulfilling to do small things. I believe it doesn’t matter if you do non profit work for a living (I did for a long time). When I get paid for work, I don’t count it as service. We all have a few extra hours to do something for someone else less fortunate this holiday.

My friend Daleen recently wrote a post on keeping dollar bills handy for those Salvation Army buckets. I personally never pass one up. I give small amounts but when I think of those like me (who also give small amounts), I bet those add up to BIG amounts.

No matter your contribution, this is what I believe the season is really all about. Kindness, compassion,  new birth and life. We owe it to ourselves and others to give in the most generous way we possibly can.

Join me on my graceful journey.
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