Category Archives: Inspiration

Sustained By Song

My beautiful sunshine-y daughter Michelene and I at her conference

My daughter Michelene and I at her conference

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you, and everything you do, yeah, they were all yellow. From the song, Yellow, by Coldplay.

Have you ever had a song that was stuck in your head? That was me, last week with two songs that just fit perfect. Perfect that is, for exactly what was unfolding. For you see it was my Holy Week, leading up to Greek Easter, and I was assisting my daughter with her work conference.

The first song was Yellow, by the band Coldplay. When I initially heard it last year I was doing a wedding coordination. I went straight to the DJ and asked him what the song was. He told me; I went home and looked it up. I have been listening to it on and off ever since. Last week, wow, I was obsessed. It was stuck like something fierce in my head.

So out of curiosity I looked up the lyrics, then I searched to see if Coldplay had ever talked about their meaning behind the song. I thought initially it might be about jealousy (you know, yellow) but it turns out they say it is about devotion, pure and simple. I loved that. It made complete sense. I wondered of course if it was possible the song was a reflection of my devotion to Holy Week, and also to my daughter? If you click on the word “lyrics” above, you’ll see the words to the entire song. Tell me what you think.

So all week, I allowed that song to float through my head. As I was helping my daughter I stayed in tune to the Holy Days. I thought of my church and knew I would get there on Friday. The conference was (magically) on diversity and there were very inspirational speakers and people there. It was truly amazing to be witness to this amazing group and their message. And I got choked up a couple of times seeing how beautiful my daughter was; a true professional and a stellar coordinator. She was just like the stars that shine, in everything she does…..exactly like the song said.

My church on Good Friday. Thank you to Christina for this picture.

My church on Good Friday. Thank you to Christina for this picture.

When the conference was over, it was Friday around 1pm. A different song slowly crept into my head, replacing the former. It was an ancient hymn, a huge part of Good Friday services. My cousin Christina and I went together to my church that evening. As soon as the Metropolitan and the choir began to sing, I got chills. I’ve sung this song over and over since I was a child. It was so beautiful and it struck a chord deep in my heart. Thank you to my sister Mary who found this rendition of the hymn on the internet by Glykeria.

So two songs and deep faith got me through the week. I am forever grateful to have had them fixed in my mind to remind me what a precious week it was. Not only for the love of my daughter, but for the everlasting love of my faith and Savior.

Christos Anesti!

 

 

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Count The Moments Precious

At Opa Opa Greek Restaurant, Sarasota Florida

Me (left), Mom, Cally (far right), and Mary at Opa Opa Greek Restaurant, Sarasota Florida.

Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments. Rose Kennedy

I just returned from a beautiful week in Siesta Key, Florida at the Crescent Royale with my mom and two sisters, Mary and Cally. It was a warm, sunny week with temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s. After months of cold and snowy weather in the Northeast, it was a welcome relief to be in the sun. My three aunts and uncles were there also (one being my mother’s brother Steve) plus my aunt’s sister and her husband as well.

On the beach! From left, Me, Mary, Aunt KC, Cally, Joanie

On the beach! From left, Me, Mary, Aunt KC, Cally, Joanie

It was a week of magical moments. There was the moment I first walked on the beach after an almost three year hiatus. I can’t tell you what it was like to put my toes on that powdery, fine white sand. I was one happy gal.

Then, day two and I am scanning my Facebook timeline.  I see that an old friend of ours from church (and our hometown of Ambridge, PA.) John D., was playing the bouzouki at a Greek restaurant just ten minutes away.

Mom and John Demas

Mom and John with his bouzouki. Photo by Mary Jamis

We ended up crashing the wine tasting party at Opa Opa Greek restaurant just to see John. There were red carnations all over the floor, delicious food was being served and John was the consummate host and welcoming committee. The whole experience felt surreal; like we weren’t really there and it was a glorious dream that we didn’t want to wake up from. My mom was thrilled with the whole experience, listening to the music, meeting the customers of the restaurant and reminiscing with John about his family.

Another moment was at the Oyster Bar  on Siesta Key. My aunt’s sister Joanie told us they had oysters for half price from 3-6pm, so we headed over the next day for happy hour. There were TWELVE of us! My Uncle Jim said he’d have bet his Cadillac that my mom wouldn’t eat oysters. I said I should have made that bet because my mom ate a whole dozen.

Mom at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar

Mom at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar

That was a fantastic moment.

There were many other moments- times on the beach and at each other’s condos, where we drank mojitos and talked about the old days. My mother reminisced about trips to Greece and relatives long gone. It occurred to me, and not just once or twice, that these will be the moments I will long remember. These tiny bits of time, with my mom, sisters and aunts and uncles, will be re-played over and over in my mind, the delicious parts savored and lovingly shared in the years to come.

Sunset on the Beach

Sunset on the Beach

On the day we left the beach, we drove to Clearwater to see another old friend from our hometown. It had been almost thirty years since my mom laid eyes on Alicia.

Mom and Alisha. Photo by Mary Jamis

Mom and Alicia. Photo by Mary Jamis

Another beautiful moment to count along with the rest! I’ve probably got one more post in me about other aspects of this trip. But for now, I am content to just remember how truly blessed I feel after spending this glorious week with my family.

My Mom and her brother Steve. Photo by Cally Jamis Vennare

My Mom and her brother Steve. Photo by Cally Jamis Vennare

Are we beach beauties or what? Cally, Me, Mom. Photo by Mary Jamis

Are we beach beauties or what? Cally, Me, Mom. Photo by Mary Jamis

All of us!

All of us!

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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.

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

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Love and Marriage

Looking pretty spiffy at the FOCUS fundraiser

Looking pretty spiffy at the FOCUS fundraiser

“If I get married, I want to be very married.”
Audrey Hepburn

I love to hear Jim tell the story of how we met. When people ask, he tells it like this. “I was at the VIP in Baden (a disco) and looked across the room. I saw this beautiful woman, sitting at a table full of dirty glasses and I could have heard a pin drop. I said to my friend Jeff, I am going to marry that girl.”

If you believe in love ever after, then I have to say you are in good company. Jim and I are coming up on thirty four years of marriage. He still thinks I am a size five. I am one lucky girl.

I could tell you it has all been wine and roses but that would not be the truth. Anyone who has been in a long term relationship will say HA! to that. It’s true. We have been through our share of thick and thin.

At the start of our marriage, Jim switched careers and went to nursing school (a good move). We had children young (never regretted, also a good move). I started a gourment coffee business, then a major competitor came to town (bummer). We remodeled our house a couple of times. We got a dog, chickens, bees, and a grandson (awesome stuff).

Jim is my biggest cheerleader. He is always behind me; game for almost anything I have a desire to do. He also pushes me to do things I don’t always want to do- like looking at the reality of situations. Or asking me what my motivation is behind doing the things I want to do. When I’m upset about something small, he reminds me I have bigger fish to fry.

If I could describe Jim in a few words it would be “easy does it.” I bought him a license plate for the front of his truck that actually says this, because it is true. He will rarely get fluffed about anything and when he does, he tends to only tell people he really trusts. He isn’t a blabber mouth. He is a man of few words but those words are either hilariously funny or seriously wisdom filled.

I am thankful that God brought Jim and I together. Sometimes when I am troubled, I get up so close to him that he probably cannot breathe. I can feel my heart beat slower and more confidently, just because he is near me. I can hug him for a long time and he will let me.

If I could give advice to any newly married couple it would be this. You cannot be selfish when you are married. In order to have a loving, serious relationship, you have to be unselfish. And you have to have respect for your partner, no matter what. You can disagree, have different opinions, but you have to love and respect them for who they are. 

Jim and I work on our marriage. We spend time together and make dates when we know that we have been too busy. Our friends are a huge part of our life. We have separate hobbies but we also love many things mutually- good food, family, and outdoor spaces.

How blessed I have been. Happy Valentine’s Day Jim!

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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!

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A Call to Thanksgiving

Loved this selection of Turkey Calls from the Rogers, OH Flea Market!

Loved this selection of Wooden Turkey Calls from the Rogers, Ohio Flea Market!

Note: It’s hard to believe this post is two years old! I’m still grateful for all these beautiful things. But of course I have to add my new granddaughter Penny, her wonderful mom Jessica, and Jess’ family to my list of things to be thankful for!

Dictionary.com defines Thanksgiving as the following: 1. the act of giving thanks; grateful acknowledgment of benefits or favors, especially to God. 2. an expression of thanks, especially to God. 3. a public celebration in acknowledgment of divine favor or kindness. 4. a day set apart for giving thanks to God.

I say “How beautiful.” Not only the definition, which in itself is a surprise, given that God is rarely mentioned in such a public description. This is something I don’t often see.

What are you grateful for? Maybe it’s your family, friends, husband or wife. Maybe it’s your job, your dog, your grandchildren, your mother or father. These days I’m thankful for many things, mostly that I have taken the time to work my own business with the added bonus of spending lots of time with my mom.

I’ve been thinking of the simple things, the not so often thought of things that, when I remember to remember, I am very thankful for.

Here’s what they are:

My Chicken Pillow- Thank you Daleen!

My Chicken Pillow- Thank you Daleen!

My Bed: A few years ago Jim and I got tired of complaining about our bed. We were always sore when we woke up in the morning and it was at least ten years old. Finally one morning I said “That’s it. Time for a new bed.”

Well Jim went out and bought a “Cloud”. That’s right. It was a pillow top mattress that was so comfortable we’ve never had a morning back ache again. As of this moment I have warm flannel sheets on it, an electric blanket. two pillows each (soft and slightly hard), and an awesome decorative pillow my friend Daleen sent me from Spanaway, Washington. When I climb into this bed every night, I tell God how special I feel to sleep in a warm bed, in a safe place.

My Family: I’m not taking them for granted these days. Jim is numero uno, my main man and he is my biggest fan. My kids are terrific and so is my grandson. My mom, well, she is my best friend and my sisters too. I love them all dearly. I tell God, HOLY COW, you couldn’t have done any better job than the family you gave me.

My Country: The older I get the more I realize how truly lucky I have it to be born in the USA. I am protected and feel safe, and I can do and achieve whatever I want. I appreciate those who fight for my freedom and I tell God, please watch over and keep them safe.

My Friends: Kathy, Susan, Lynda, Sherri, Ed, John, Tracy, Karen, and many others including you. If I had a crisis or problem, half would show up with soup or cookies and a box of kleenex. The other half would pray for me. I can depend on them. They are there for me. I tell God, you must really love me.

My Dog: She keep me company during the evenings when Jim works. She barks at strangers. She kisses my friends and makes them feel welcome. Most of all, I feel safe when she is with me. I tell God, thank you for Ms. Jordan.

Jordan the Wonder Dog

Jordan the Wonder Dog

May you realize your true blessings on this Thanksgiving and for many days beyond. You are a treasure and I hope you have a wonderful day!

What are you grateful for?

 

 

 

 

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Unquenchable Thirst

 

And so our troubles, we think, were basically of our own making.

The Big Book 

My blog is almost three years old and I’ve begun to think about it in different terms. I’ve skated around a few issues here and there, but mostly written about the many things that have a positive influence in my life.

Originally when I began, my website URL was Everyday Life in Recovery. Then I switched it to Katherine’s Daughter. I’m ready to share with you what that was all about and why it is still such a huge part of my life.

About eighteen years ago my life changed in a big way. Someone near me made the decision to stop drinking alcohol. It was a profound decision, one that I really didn’t realize the gravity of until much later.

You probably know someone who drinks just a bit too much. Maybe you know someone who overdoes other things too much.  Just for today I’m going to talk about alcohol but you can substitute the words food, gambling, pornography, drugs, sex, video games, control, anger, and money- anything that can be an obsession or fodder for over use. Because what I’ve learned is- addiction is addiction- doesn’t matter what it is.

I’ve read some good stuff on the internet lately about recovery. It is amazing to see people talking about it. The holidays are coming and I used to love and hate the season. It was usually a tension filled time. There were unrealistic expectations on my part. Sometimes depression and anxiety. Controlling situations meant more work and ultimately, more disappointments.

I don’t have the obsession to drink. If I have one or two glasses of wine in a month, that is about it. But since my life is affected by drinkers I go to a twelve step meeting for those who love an alcoholic. To respect the anonymity of my friends, I am not going to divulge any names. To follow the traditions of the program, I’m not going to name the group. You can easily find a twelve step program on the internet.

Going to recovery meetings has affected my life in such a positive way. Members share their experience, hope and strength. No one tells me I should do it this way or that. It is there I learn how not to be absorbed by behaviors or situations around me. I make an effort to mind my own business. I try not to stick my nose where it doesn’t belong.

The twelve steps are a calming force in my life. They enable me to have quality relationships with others and with my family. It is work, yes. Even after all these years I still go every week. The biggest thing it helps me with is setting boundaries.

I’ve always been a fixer, a take charge person. And I’ve prided myself on that. And that is something to be proud of unless you prevent someone from hitting their own bottom, or interfere where you shouldn’t. The meetings have taught me where in that line falls.

Now here’s no big secret. I love going to open twelve step meetings where alcoholics meet up. I love when the chairperson reads the promises. I love when the recovering speaker gets to the podium and shares his or her story. Wow. (and it’s usually a whopper). Guess what? It is rarely the bum under the bridge. It is the successful businessman, the hard worker, the mother, the wife, the son or daughter, the CEO of his or her own company. Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone.

By the time I leave the meeting I am uplifted. I have often thought that you cannot get closer to God than being in a room full of recovering drunks. Honestly, I so love and respect them. They have taught me so much.

I love the slogans of both programs like “Easy Does It” and “Keep It Simple.” There’s a lot of forgiveness in the rooms, and just as easily, accountability. The alcoholics keep each other sober by sharing experience, hope and strength. They work their own twelve step program. It works when they work it, just as it does for me.

All these years later and I am still in awe of my friends who chose to put the drink down and live life without numbing themselves. Alcohol is so glamorized in tv and media and I can’t help thinking what a monumental task is it to quit. But from what I can see it is worth it. That’s when the living really begins.

 

 

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Is It Odd or Is It….Waffles?

Chocolate Chip Waffle from Bob's Diner

Chocolate Chip Waffle from Bob’s Diner

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous- Albert Einstein

It all started with a phone call.

I called Aunt Joy this morning to see if she wanted to check out the new library. I confess this was our old library, just re-opened in a new spot. They moved in quite a few months ago but it’s been a long winter. I kept telling Aunt Joy, “We’re going to go see that new library.”

Well that day finally came. I called her and asked what was she doing today? She said “Nothing!” So I picked her up and we found the new library. Wow, was it beautiful. Rows of books, quiet, and very nicely decorated.

While I was clipping my new library tag onto my key chain, I noticed a small, strange key with a tag on it. I looked at it more closely and realized it was a key from my former job at Joe’s office. I couldn’t believe, in a whole year of leaving that office, I had not noticed the key. It was kind of an important key, to the drawer in my old desk.

I knew I’d have to drop it off today. Likely, when we were on our way home.

Aunt Joy and I spent some time at the library and then we headed down to the grocery store for a few items. While there she said, “How about lunch?” and of course I said “Sure!”

So we headed to Bob’s Diner, just a stone’s throw away from the grocery store. On the daily special was chocolate chip waffles! I briefly debated the healthy choices (oh sure!) such as grilled chicken salad, etc. but in the end, the waffles won out.

Aunt Joy ordered them too! The waitress said “Do you want whipped cream?” We both said “YES.” 🙂

While we were waiting, in walked my old friend Jeff. Now how did God know that I owed Jeff an amend for something I did lately? (I got ticked at him over a Facebook post recently and deleted his comment!) I got to apologize to Jeff and give him a hug. That was grace on the spot.

Then, I kid you not, in walks Joe, my old boss, and his wife five minutes later. We chatted for a few minutes and I handed him the key to my old desk. I said I was sorry, I didn’t realize I had it. He said he had been looking for it and we both smiled at each other.

Is it odd or is it God? When you have those coincidences that just don’t seem so….coincidental. I know they are a sign. Someone is watching out for me, keeping me on their radar, and helping me out.

Thanks, God!

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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?

 

 

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