My 60th Birthday

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
― Maya Angelou

The Jamis Girls at Poros, Pittsburgh

It has been a wonderful week. Turning 60 has been a happy experience for me in many ways. My sisters (who both live in NC) came home for the week which of course, happened to be Thanksgiving as well.

I wanted a few close family and friends on my actual birthday. No fancy stuff; just pizza and cake. It wasn’t about the food, it was about love and friendships. Penny was there of course and though she wouldn’t sit on my lap, she loved watching everyone sing. John and Jess gave me a blanket with their wedding pictures all over it. What fun!

Too many candles!

What have I learned by this age? Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve learned that I can be myself and if people like me for who I am, that’s great. If not, I’m ok with that. I have a smaller circle of friends but I kind of like it that way. I don’t have the stamina that I used to have, but I still have plenty of energy. I will make time for anyone who wants to talk to me (about anything). My ministries are important to me (my mother and FOCUS) and my love for writing and blogging has only increased.

My faith is my guiding light and it keeps me centered. I try and remember to be grateful every day for the blessings that surround me.

My sisters planned a gift for me that they thought would arrive on my birthday. It did not and though Mary was upset, I was fine with it. They took me to lunch on Wednesday to Poros, and my daughter and two cousins showed up.  I didn’t know Nini and Lisa were coming until the last minute. I love surprises. Then we decided to text my cousin Nick (who works around the corner) and he came within twenty minutes! Wow!

Wonderful time!

So the day after Thanksgiving we finally all met at a coffee shop and my gift had arrived. Imagine my surprise when it was a hardcover book of my first three years of every Katherine’s Daughter post! I cried a bit when I saw this. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was!

What a great gift!

Last night I sat down for a while and read the book. It was wonderful to read my posts from the beginning. It was very insightful and I was frankly, a little proud of myself. I couldn’t believe how much I accomplished.

My sister Mary wanted to motivate me to think about compiling my favorite posts into a book. I told her she has succeeded and this is definitely inspiring me to sit down and do the work.

Thank you to my sisters, mom, Jim, Michelene, Jessica, John, Penny and all of you who made my birthday so special. The blessings, wishes, and love from all of you have filled me with joy.

*Do you have a blog you’d like to turn into a book? My sisters used Blog2Print. They’re having a Cyber Monday sale right now so use the code SHOPCOZY for 35% off. 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

A Letter to My Grandson

A few years ago, but us none the less!

Yesterday I was going through some office papers when I stumbled across a note that Jim wrote to Gavin last year. I was supposed to post it to my blog but somehow I completely forgot. (please forgive me Jim)

While Jim and I were on vacation last year, Gavin assumed most of the care of our home, including our 13 year old dog Jordan. During a shopping experience at the Nantucket whaling museum store, Jim picked a beautiful compass for Gavin as a gift. He gave it to him when we arrived home.

Without further ado, here is the letter Jim wrote to Gavin.

Compass: A tool often used to help with direction.

Dear Gavin,

While proving yourself this past week by taking care of the house, chickens, and the dog, I was thinking of myself when I was your age. I don’t think I would have done as good a job as you did. Most likely, I would have declined direction or refused the instructions offered to me, thinking that I knew better. Most of the time in my life, when I found myself lost, it was because I declined to use the tools and direction that were so freely given to me.

My hope is that if you use this compass to know the direction you’re starting in, you will always be able to find your way home. But please remember that it works best if you know where you are starting from.

Hopefully, with some Good Orderly Direction, you will never get lost. Always know that I love you.   Jim

PS. Clean up your room, stand up straight, and listen to you mom (lol)

When I found this yesterday it melted my heart. Gavin is going to be 17 this coming April. Hard to believe. It feels like yesterday that he was just a little guy.

Thank you Jim for helping me clean out my office and for writing this beautiful letter.

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

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.
1015

Life’s a (Nantucket) Beach

nantucket-cover-photo
Nantucket- Land of Idyllic Beaches

I have been going to the beach ever since I was about ten years old. My family’s favorite spot for years was Ocean City, Maryland. Life is truly wonderful at the beach, isn’t it? Many a fond memory began for me in Ocean City.

Happy to explore North Carolina beaches, Siesta Key Florida, Panama City Beach, Myrtle Beach and many others over the years, I never thought of going to a beach town in the off season. Recently Jim and I spent a whole week in Nantucket, an island about 20 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Of course I’d heard of it! Who hasn’t? I’ve listened to stories about Nantucket and hoped that someday I would visit. A few months ago Jim said he had the third week in October off. Our close friends were willing to join us and had connections there. It seemed like the perfect opportunity.

We flew into Boston, drove to Hyannis and had lunch at the Black Cat Tavern. We walked up the plank onto the Hyline and enjoyed a one hour cruise to Nantucket. The only way to get there is a boat. 🙂 It’s an island, after all.

hyannis-signage

I could go on and on about what we did, things we saw, but I will reserve that for a few links at the end of this post. What I really want to tell you about is what it was like to be at the beach in an off season and truly relax.

First, it’s much quieter (of course). The weather is cooler which when you get to be my age is ok. The cost of a three bedroom house was about 1/3 of the price it would have been in peak season. There are no lines at the restaurants. The weather was in the 60’s and 70’s and absolutely beautiful. The tourist destinations are much less crowded.

port-view-nantucket
Picture perfect Nantucket

Now the relaxing part. I love that we made no plans. Literally the week unfolded one day at a time. We’d get up in the morning, drink a big pot of coffee, watch CNN for the latest news, talk about what we were doing, get dressed and head out for the day. Breakfast was big or small, depending on how we felt and if we were going to have lunch or dinner somewhere. And many times, we decided at any given moment where we were going.

Since I’m an event planner, it was a big deal to not plan anything. I always say I do details for a living so I don’t want to do them on vacation. I tried to keep from piping up about what we were doing and when, and I think I did a good job of keeping quiet. Relishing the spontaneity became a simple pleasure.

We ate lunch out some days and dinner only a couple of times. We cooked at the house on the grill and made amazing meals. We drove on the beach in a red Jeep and obeyed the signs that warn- “You will get stuck! You must take your tires down to 15 lbs!” (haha!) I saw sea lions for the first time ever. I think my mouth dropped open when I first realized the nose in the water was a seal and not a dog.

Here’s some of my favorite shots of the week. My friend Lynda’s photos are designated by “LZ”. There’s also a beautiful seal video at the end- thank you Lynda!

Art work in Hyannis
Art work in Hyannis
View from the boat
View from the boat
#6 Weymouth
#6 Weymouth

 

pretty-good
Couldn’t resist this shot
See that blip?
See that blip? Yep, a sea lion!
LZ - My favorite Lighthouse
LZ – My favorite Lighthouse
LZ- Or maybe this one?
LZ- Or maybe this one?
the-four-of-us
Thankful for good friends.
gnome-sign
Got a chuckle out of this.
yellow-windowbox
Window boxes like out of a magazine!
LZ- Pumpkin paradise
LZ- Pumpkin paradise
the-wauwinet-woodie
The Wauwinet’s Woodie
The Wauwinet
LZ- The Wauwinet Hotel. Gorgeous. We ate lunch on the patio.
LZ- Ed and Lynda
LZ- Ed and Lynda
jim-and-i-at-light-house
Jim and I
LZ- Picturesque Jetty
LZ- Picturesque Jetty
LZ- Jeep Ride
LZ- Jeep Ride

beach-fence

LZ- Yours Truly, barefoot on the last day
LZ- Yours Truly, barefoot and talking to the sea lions

It isn’t until I get away for a solid week that I realize how much I needed a vacation. Nantucket was the perfect thing. And when you go away with friends you’ve known for thirty plus years, it makes it even better.

Nantucket, hope to see you again soon.

Where we ate:

The Black Cat Tavern

Fifty Six Union

BYB- Back Yard Barbeque

Toppers at the Wauwinet

The Fog Island Cafe

Places to Visit:

The Lighthouses of Nantucket

The Whaling Museum

Petticoat Row Bakery

Bartlett’s Farm

What’s your favorite beach? Leave a quick comment and tell me about it.

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Treasures of Christmas

Poinsettia 3
Janoski’s Poinsettias- So Beautiful

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

So here we are in the “in between” week, the week between Christmas and New Year’s that gives us a chance to catch our breath. It’s a good time for rest, relaxation, and yes, reflection. Maybe you’re with family, friends, and your children. Maybe you have time off from work and are taking a well deserved break.

I did a lot of entertaining the last few days. My cousins are here from New York, my sisters are both in, and my (soon to be born) granddaughter’s other grandma made a visit to Pittsburgh to spend Christmas with us. Talk about blessings. Jess’ mom Ann brought me this oh-so-cool gift of special M&M’s with my son and Jessica’s picture on them (no kidding). They were even in this box with little feet on them.

Holiday M&M's
Is This Adorable or What?

I am looking forward to getting to know Ann and Jessica’s family better in the coming years. A new child is so bonding and we will all have Penelope’s best interests at heart as we go forward. She is due on January 9, 2016 (my son’s 30th birthday ironically) but really, she could come at any time. We are anxiously awaiting her arrival.

What are the treasures of Christmas for me this year? It was quality time with my husband’s family on Christmas Eve. Then Christmas Day with my kids, cousins, sister and husband, Jessica and Ann, and especially another holiday with my mom. She never fails to keep up with it all, staying up late, getting up early, and always ready for whatever we want to do. I tease her about the planning we do- the food briefings for Christmas were months ago- but it’s all in jest. Really, her entertaining skills were my basis for what I do today. 🙂

The true treasure was keeping the origin of Christmas in my heart despite the rush and commercial tugs of the holiday. It was about coming back to center, recognizing and honoring what this holiday truly means. I wrote a post about the Navitiy icon for the Orthodox Christian Network and it was even an education for me. That is the great thing about writing for them. I learn in the process too.

I want to wish you a very happy New Year and thank you for all your love and support this year. I am truly blessed with such a beautiful group of family and friends. It makes my life so rich.

Christmas Morning 2015
Sunrise Christmas Morning 2015

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

The Saturday “Not So” Blizzard

Olivia Marie and her favorite doll
Olivia Marie and her favorite doll

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”
Coco Chanel

The day started off pretty simple. I had signed up for a cupcake class from my friend Brandi. She’s a Wilton instructor and the owner of her own cake business, Event Cakes PGH. During the winter, it pays to look for something creative to do and one of Brandi’s classes was just the ticket.

This was too much fun!
This was too much fun!

My daughter Michelene was due to meet me right after class. We were headed to our cousin Nick and (his wife) Kristen’s house. Kristen had offered Michelene some professional clothes, as Michelene has a special work conference coming up in April.

I had checked the weather that morning. I knew there was some snow predicted but ultimately, I left it up to Michelene to decide. She said let’s go.

The ride to Nick and Kristen’s was smooth. No problems. A snowflake here or there but overall a pleasant drive. We arrived and Olivia Marie (their three year old daughter) was there to greet us in her Valentine’s Day red dress and silver tights.

I hung out with Olivia while Michelene and Kristen looked over the clothes. Kristen’s house was warm and pretty, with fresh tulips and roses on the counter. Nick arrived soon after, with more flowers, and we settled in for a nice catch up conversation.

Around 1pm I looked at Michelene and said we should go. She agreed, so we said our good byes and headed out. All was fine until we went off of 70 West, onto 79 North. It was like suddenly crossing an imaginary line. The weather went from nothing to a big something. Snow came down so hard I could barely see to drive.

The view from my windshield
The view from my windshield

So I did something I don’t believe I’ve ever done before. I pulled over. I said to Michelene, we’re going to wait this out just a bit. I went onto the berm of the road and put my flashers on. Soon, a few others did the same and we were like a mini line of flashing red cars.

Michelene checked the weather map on her phone and then apologized for getting us in the middle of the storm. I wasn’t worried. I knew the original forecast was for one to three and already one inch had fallen before we even left that morning. I told her not to worry.

And sure enough, about fifteen minutes later, the visibility improved. The scraping road truck went by and we pulled out shortly afterwards. We took our time and probably didn’t go above thirty miles an hour (like every one else) until we got off the interstate. The roads were better then and the snow had stopped.

When I told my mom this story, she asked me if I was scared. I said No. I knew what the forecast was and that the snow was predicted to be intermittent. I felt confident that we were not in danger. It was not so much a blizzard as a bit of a blizzard.

And I’ll tell you, it was worth it all to spend some quality time with Olivia Marie. She is the sweetest little girl and we had a good time together drawing on the artist board she got for Christmas. And I am thankful for Kristen, who was so giving of herself to share her beautiful clothes with Michelene.

Just too sweet
She’s the best Valentine
Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

View From A Farm

The Field at the Farm

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”
Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Dance: Moving To the Rhythms of Your True Self

Every now and then I take the time to slow down and I remember who I am again. It happened last week when I spent four days with my sister Mary and her partner Starr.

Mary had a big event she could have used some help with and well since I’m an event coordinator (after all!), it was easy for me to head down to be of assistance. While I was there, I met some amazing new people and got to visit with some wonderful old friends. This event was called “In Good Company” and was a first time fundraiser for the Winston Salem LGBT community center North Star. I declare it a great success. There were 250 guests plus awards, speakers, music, food, silent auction- what more could a person want?

Mary and Rex at In Good Company
Mary and Rex at In Good Company

When that was over, I spent the next couple of days eating Greek food (and visiting with an old friend), going to the movies, shopping, and having Starr’s wonderful homemade cooking. I had lunch with my webmaster and learned some new things. My favorite gift hang out is still in downtown Winston Salem, Earthbound Arts, which you absolutely have to check out when you’re in the neighborhood.

But guess what I did in the down time? Nothing. Yes, that’s right. NOTHING. I laid in the big bed of my room and read and slept. I took lavender scented baths, and looked out the window. Here’s the view.

Sunrise on the Farm

Amazing, isn’t it?

What do you do when you slow down? For me there was no cooking, no driving, no laundry, no meal planning and only worrying about me. That is a hard thing to come by these days since my life revolves around my family and business. But this is important. This is necessary. This is what taking a break is all about.

And since Mary and Starr live on a farm, there were great views and scenery to remind me to keep it simple.

Even on the plane ride down and back I read, napped and took it easy. Unbelievable. But I have to tell you. I had a great time!

Morning Walk with the Dogs
The Barn
The Field Mid Morning
View from my Window

Thank you to Mary, Starr, Julia, Susan, Tamara, Gordon and the North Star friends who made this trip really special.

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Take Me to the Trees

Cook Forest Fall of 2014
Cook Forest Fall of 2014

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
John Muir

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a “tree hugger.” Literally no, I don’t really hug trees (although maybe I have once or twice) but I revere them, love them, and am in awe of them.

About a dozen years ago, I worked for a non profit in Pittsburgh that planted lots of trees. I learned even more about trees, which ones were endangered (ash trees for one), how beautiful a ginkgo leaf was, and how much I like a good, solid oak.

More trees
Morning Light

This weekend I was again in Cook Forest with my close friends. Our cabin was in the midst of tall trees that provided a lovely green canopy. This morning, the light was just perfect and I caught these gorgeous shots of the pine, maple and oak trees that were such a perfect part of our weekend landscape.

I think John Muir had the right idea. Being among trees can clear my mind and make me forget about anything that may be bugging me. I can walk on a tree lined path and think completely new ideas and thoughts. It is amazing what those trees can do for me.

The Tree Canopy
The Tree Canopy

I hope you have a great tree place you call your own.Thank you again, Cook Forest for your ability to inspire me!

Cook Forest Fall 2014 #4

Cook Forest Fall 2014 #5

Join me on my graceful journey.
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?

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Cultivating Happiness

Cherry Blossoms by my daughter, Michelene
Magnolia Blossoms by my daughter, Michelene

Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast. Norman Vincent Peale

I love this optimistic quote. I’m into happiness these days because even though we still have some snow on the ground, I am thinking, dreaming of magnolia trees!

Their beautiful pink color, guarantee of spring and summer, and magnificent beauty bring a smile to my face. I think I first laid eyes upon a magnolia tree when I visited my godfather John in Charleston, South Carolina as a little girl. I remember their huge blossoms and heady fragrance. I probably fell in love with them on the spot.

Around here in SW Pennsylvania, the magnolia trees will bloom if it gets warm and stays warm. I am keeping my fingers crossed this year for no late frosts!

Magnolia 2

Magnolias seemed a fitting entry flower for this first post on my new self hosted website because they make a bold, beautiful statement. Yes, I am wearing my big girl bloomers and hoping, praying that my email subscribers and my blogger friends are viewing this post. Can you please let me know? A quick comment below or an email to me at katherinesdaughter@gmail.com will do much for positive reinforcement!

After this long and challenging winter, I am patiently cultivating happiness. Dreamy images of digging in soft soil with a warm sun bring me closer to nature and to God. I can’t wait to make my first backyard campfire and hear the crackle from all those random branches that have been laying around my yard for months. My New York cousin made her reservation this week to come with her daughter for some quality time during April’s spring break. This makes me very happy. Lent has begun with its great promise.

How are you cultivating happiness? My daughter Michelene is an avid gardener and she shared her seed wish list with me the other day. Squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, heirloom tomatoes were all there and more, and I could see the twinkle in her eye. She is ready for her own garden, at her own place and I bet she’ll share her seed extras with Jim and I. This is cultivating happiness.

If we are not defined by our problems but by our gifts and talents, life becomes a canvas on which we can paint the world we have always dreamed of. The challenges of the past will not matter. We can move forward, confident of our God given abilities, and with appreciation for our own beauty within.

As one of my favorite artists, Mary Engelbreit would say- “Bloom Where You Are Planted”.

What is your favorite way to cultivate happiness?

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015