Category Archives: Thanksgiving

Grace and Wellness

sunlight-through-the-fog-2

With the help of a good friend I am beginning a journey towards better self care. It’s not that I wasn’t good at it before but you know how it goes. Get busy, neglect sleep, eat poorly, and forget the exercise. The typical stuff of a mid life woman who tries to do too much.

I procrastinated about this wellness focus for months, waiting until my schedule finally cleared enough to give mental space (and energy) to the idea. My friend said to do this alittle at a time (thank God) and she sent me encouraging emails with her own health and wellness tips.

First up, a plant in my room. Sounds so simple but a plant provides oxygen and that can only be good. Second, I ordered a good book- Food Rules by Michael Pollan. I couldn’t resist skimming the first few chapters and wasn’t surprised. Eat more plants and don’t eat things that have more than five ingredients on the package. Right!

Of course it was a few days before Thanksgiving when I read this. I gave thought to what I was going to be eating on the holiday. Turkey, well, only one ingredient there. Baked yams and pineapple, pretty good.  Hawaiian rolls, probably not so good but delicious. Mashed potatoes made with Yukon golds, butter, and a little cream. I thought this really wasn’t so bad.

The pumpkin pie was made from a can that needed condensed milk and eggs. Mom made homemade crust with flour and crisco, a big no no I’m sure but heck, it’s the holiday right? Plus I am not going to tell mom not to make pie. 🙂

All in all, I would say I did not overeat on Thanksgiving. I felt fine afterwards. I cleaned up the kitchen and sealed up leftovers for the next day. No need to cook dinner tonight!

I think the hardest thing about health and wellness for me is putting myself first. Life is ongoing around my house. There are always things to do and some kind of agenda. Even though I no longer work full time, I have a million mundane things to do (laundry, housekeeping, dog, babysit Penny, help my mother). Prioritizing is key. The one gift of menopause has been the recognition that I can’t do it all. I don’t feel guilty saying no anymore. I’ve done the committees, the grunge work, the volunteering. It’s ok by me to say no.

Making an effort at better self care is good. Not feeling guilty about what I don’t accomplish is a challenge. Setting realistic expectations is the order of the day. The grace is in turning it over to the universe.

I hope you have a wonderful week! If you have any tips for self care, I’d love to hear them.

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sebastian the Rescue Pup

Snow much fun!

Snow much fun!

Thank you to my daughter Michelene who wrote this beautiful post about her rescue dog Sebastian. Enjoy this heart warming story! xo Joanne

“Life is a Series of Dogs” ~ George Carlin

We had moved into our lovely house in the country with almost twelve acres and rescued a Great Dane named Molly. She was growing up quickly and required a lot of love and attention. After much thought, planning, and financial checking we decided that we wanted to adopt another dog. Our pet needed a pet- someone to run around and do dog stuff with.

We looked for weeks and met plenty of wonderful dogs of all breeds and ages. Some rescue organizations were easier to contact than others and a few private rescue groups never returned our calls or emails. One hot summer day a darling young pup showed up on petfinder.com. He had the cutest face and a slightly tilted head that spoke to his intelligent and inquisitive nature. The rescue group said he had a great personality but he had been adopted and brought back to the shelter three times because he was simply too rambunctious for his previous owners.

Molly was more than happy to tote along on the two hour car ride to meet Sebastian. She rode most of the way with her beautiful face out the window basking in the waves and stares from the other cars. We took Molly to a park down the street to get away from the barking and frantic atmosphere of the rescue kennel and one of the staff members brought Sebastian down to meet Molly. From the moment Sebastian laid eyes on Molly standing under the pavilion in the lush green park- he was in love. Molly was having none of his affections though and gruffly told Sebastian that she was a lady and his rude behavior was not going to be tolerated. There was no aggression in either dog so we asked the rescue group if we could give it a try. They checked our references and said they would be thrilled for us to adopt Sebastian and any other dog we wanted. We were humbled and made arrangements to bring Sebastian to his new home.

Molly and Sebastian

Sebastian (L) and Molly (R)

I left the windows cracked the whole drive home. I wasn’t sure if Sebastian liked car rides, got car sick, or if he would have any other surprises for me. It’s always best to err on the side of caution when dealing with a new animal and I wasn’t about to let him take a flying leap out of the car on the Turnpike. To my surprise, he simply sat in the back seat and gazed at me. It wasn’t intimidating or worrying. He just seemed to be curious about me and my intentions (or maybe he was judging my driving). 🙂

Back home Sebastian fit right in. His favorite place to sleep was downstairs in the doggy kennel portion of the basement with a couch and chair. We figured he liked the quiet after the craziness of the shelter environment which is brimming with anxiety and energy.  He was not into wagging his tail or getting excited over much of anything. We were careful to put him through his paces (checking for food and toy aggression) and give him plenty of exercise in our back yard with an acre of fenced in land. Sebastian loves to play fetch with balls and Frisbees and anything that bounces and scampers across the yard. I’ve shared most of my life with dogs but never had one that played fetch. I was beyond thrilled!

Gavin and Sebastian

Gavin and Sebastian

Sebastian did have some quirks. I don’t think he had ever seen a sweeper, Swiffer, pots, pans, and many other household items. One night he woke me up in the middle of the night barking at the giant canning pot in the kitchen. He was not sure what it was but he was sure it didn’t belong there! Obviously it was a potential threat worthy of waking me up to check out. He also had some skittish behaviors that led us to believe he’d been abused at some point. Molly loves to grab water droplets from the air when Gavin washes his hands and flicks the remaining water drops at Molly. Sebastian cowered from the water drops and any other gesture that he was not familiar with.

Sebastian's Swiffer Face

Sebastian’s Swiffer Face

After about a month of having Sebastian in the house I felt comfortable enough with our trust level to try something new. We were standing in the sun soaked kitchen one beautiful afternoon and I reached down and hugged him lightly with both arms. That was the first time I saw him wag his tail. We had been giving him plenty of space and just thought he wasn’t a particularly snuggly or affectionate dog (we were fine with that). I think he was waiting for us to take him back to the shelter like his previous families had done. This guy was ours and he wasn’t going anywhere! I wish I had a picture of the first time he laid on the couch with us. At first he wasn’t sure what to think about the potentially precarious situation. After about two minutes he was comfortable and snoring so loudly I had to turn the TV volume up to hear it.

On the Couch with Michelene

Time for Snuggling

Time for Snuggling

Sebastian and Molly sometimes get into trouble but they prefer hiking around the many trails and chasing wildlife through the yard. Furniture destruction is only a backup plan for when there hasn’t been enough excitement and mystery in their lives. You never know what could be inside of a couch cushion until you look, right?

Doggies and their Stuffing

Doggies and their Stuffing

Today we’re grateful that Sebastian has been in our lives for well over a year and is such a wonderful addition to our family. He plays well with people and dogs alike. He and Molly are like siblings with the appropriate amounts of love, playfulness, with a sprinkle of trouble and getting on each other’s nerves from time to time. The shelter dog who had four families took as much of a chance on us as we did on him and we all lived happily ever after.

Gavin, Sebastian and the Tractor

Gavin, Sebastian and the Tractor

Doggies watching Doggies

Doggies watching Doggies

Lots of Hiking Space at Michelene's

Lots of Hiking Space at Michelene’s

We Love Each Other!

We Love Each Other!

Happy Endings

Happy Endings

If you are considering adding to your family, please consider a rescue.

Please post your furry family members on our Facebook link or feel free to leave a comment below about your favorite pet!

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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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What I Am Grateful For

Pine Trees Winter 2013

Pine Trees Winter 2013

Here it is- the first big snow of the season. Today is Thanksgiving in the USA and the Northeast is in the grips of some pretty cold weather. Thankfully, I am not traveling. I am the chef du jour, making most of the gratitude dinner with a little help from my friends.

My mom has been with me for a few days. I gave her a lecture a month or so ago about snow. If we are expecting any big accumulations I said, you have to come over. She didn’t argue with me when I told her Monday morning I was coming to pick her up.

So she and I have been spending some quality time together. I decided to put up my Christmas tree on Tuesday because I had a whole free day (and it snowed all day!) and those little lights just bring a lift to my heart. The nativity set went underneath right away. I have to keep in mind the reason for the season.

Region 1 DVD cover

Region 1 DVD cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We indulged in a whole recliner session of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It occurred to me how Rudolph was bullied- no playing with the others in reindeer games, all because of that red nose. I seriously shed a tear when the program was over and Santa said “Merry Christmas!” from his sky high sleigh.

So as I think about Thanksgiving, there are many things I have to be grateful for. I wanted to share my list with you and I’d love if you’d leave a comment and tell me what you’re most grateful for.

1. Family- Where would I be without them? My husband Jim, my kids Michelene and John, my grandson Gavin, Gavin’s dad Jonathan, my mom Katherine, sisters Mary and Cally and their beautiful partners Starr and Raymond. Jim’s family and both our extended families. My beautiful yellow lab Jordan. They are my greatest treasures.

2. Friends- Oh they have seen me through some troubling times. As has my family but my closest friends are privy to my thoughts, words and deeds of high and low. I owe my salvation to my recovery friends and their infinite wisdom on life and teachings on practicing these principles in all my affairs.

3. Faith- Deep as the ocean, infinite as the sky, my love for God only grows and grows each day. I realize how walking a spiritual path has changed everything. It makes me understand that I am not in control and God is.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you are alone, give me or a close friend of yours a call. We should all be together on Thanksgiving.

I wish you a happy Thanksgiving of great blessings! Tell me, what are you grateful for?

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A Blessing on Your Head

A blessing on your head Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov…Fiddler on the Roof

Meeting my favorite author!

Yesterday was my 55th birthday and today is Thanksgiving. This same remarkable timing occurred five years ago when I turned 50. I consider it a beautiful juxtaposition of birthday to gratitude day.

Five years ago (on my FIVE OH birthday) I took my family to Fallingwater– the stunning Frank Lloyd Wright house which sits over a rushing creek full of water. The house was much smaller than I had imagined but it was still breathtaking beautiful. We had lunch in the cafe, took the tour and walked around a bit in the nearby woods. Then we all headed back to dinner at my sister Cally’s house where her husband Raymond had prepared a beautiful dinner of lemon shrimp and orzo. We even Greek danced a little after dinner, just to connect with our deep roots.

My birthday this year was another dreamy day of inspirational happenings. A couple of months ago I noticed via Facebook that my favorite author, Anne Lamott, not only had a new book coming out but was coming close to where I live. She was going to be less than two hours away in Akron, Ohio at a public library.

I asked my sisters if we could go hear her speak. Ironically (or not so) my North Carolina sister Mary was coming home for Thanksgiving to attend her class reunion. The timing was perfect.

The view from the hotel!

We left the day before my birthday and stayed at a hotel that overlooked the Cuyahoga Falls (and the Schwebel’s bread factory!). Dinner was at a lovely little place called “Crave” in Akron, a mere block away from where Anne was speaking.

I insisted we get to the library early and we did. An hour and a half early. My sister Mary thought I was crazy. But there was a small line forming already. We decided to buy a family library membership for $20 and that got us into the auditorium early. We sat in the front row, dead center.

Have you ever been in a situation that felt surreal? That’s how I felt in that auditorium, an hour before Anne came out. When she walked across the stage to the podium, with her dreadlocks and bandanna wrapped around her head, I instantly smiled.

She spoke for over an hour then answered questions. She said many awesome things but my favorite was “we are really here to help each other get home”. I loved that.

I stood in line to meet her and get my (her) new book signed. We chatted for a few seconds and as I was walking up the ramp to exit, a group of locals began singing Happy Birthday to me. They knew it was my birthday and wow, that just made my day!

When I got home yesterday, there was a song in my head. It was A Blessing on Your Head, Mazel Tov, Mazel Tov. I’m a Christian but I love that song and I love all of Fiddler on the Roof. The song seems fitting, doesn’t it?

Have a wonderful, gratitude filled Thanksgiving day! What are you doing today?

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Become the Beacon

I have been reading faith based books lately and occasionally watching ministry programs on tv. In my quest for spiritual self-discovery, I like to explore faith via one of my favorite slogans- Take what you like and leave the rest.  I don’t have to try anything that doesn’t feel right and it’s good to just listen and learn.

So yesterday morning, before work, I was watching Joyce Meyer. She is I think, a mega star and boy, she preaches to some large audiences. Years ago I used to reject these types of ministries as ridiculous, so it’s a big step for me to sit and listen to her.

Joyce was talking about “complaining”. She basically said we will get no where if all we do is complain about our life. Prayer is the answer, says Joyce. Also, having gratitude for the life we do have and thanksgiving for all our blessings is what gives us greater happiness.

Well Joyce (I think of her as my friend now, I’m calling her by her first name) I know this is true. Gratitude is one of my favorite things to post on and I’m a big believer in it. And even though Joyce is a Christian bible teacher and author, I’m sure many other religious and non-religious doctrines believe in gratitude over complaining any day.

One of the things I heard Joyce say that morning was when we bring the light into our life, we can become the light for others. When she said that I immediately thought of a lighthouse, standing with its beacon to bring others into shore safely. I think Joyce is right; people who don’t complain and show daily gratitude become the beacon for others to navigate by.

Do you know someone who is a beacon? I know a couple of beacons. When I am feeling down or can’t get my grip, I want to be in their light. I call them and ask if we can meet for coffee. Or I just call them. Then I say How are you? When they start to talk I feel their light coming through, even over the phone.

Do you have a beacon or someone who brings light and joy into your life? Tell me about him or her! 

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Thank you!

Artwork by Rae 02-01-81 – 06-06-09

Every afternoon when I leave work, my boss says “Bye! Thank you!”

When I make dinner for my grandson Gavin, he says “Thank you Nana!”

My husband Jim loves to open his sock drawer and find it filled with clean socks. He says “Thank you!”

It sounds like such a little thing but really when you think about it, it’s not. How many times a day do you say “Thank you”? I try and say it all day. Honestly, I say it to strangers in the supermarket, customer service people on the phone, the receptionist at the dentist office. I bet those are people who don’t hear “Thank you” much.

Princess Willow

My favorite way to hear “Thank you!” is when Amy’s granddaughter, Willow, will say Grace before a meal. It was her third birthday last week and I was there to share in the special occasion.

When we sat down at the table, we all held hands. Amy asked Willow if she would say the prayer. Willow’s face lit up and she said “Thank you!” with a big smile. It was a joy filled moment!

Many of my dear friends say that gratitude is the way to live a more peaceful life. I agree. I try and be grateful every day and I want to share that feeling with others. By saying “Thank you”, I appreciate what others do for me and I keep gratitude front and center. It may be hard to believe, but saying it in a heartfelt way and with a smile can change someone’s bad day to good.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’d like to start a world wide movement to say “Thank You” more. I’m going to start right now by saying “Thank You!” to all my blogger friends, email subscribers, Twitter and Facebook fans who read my stories on a regular basis. You have no idea how much your comments, “Likes”, private emails and personal comments (when I get to see you!) mean to me. I love writing stories and I appreciate all your heartfelt support.

I think “Thank you” can be a pathway to peace of mind and a happy heart. Give lots of “Thank you’s” away and just watch how it changes  your life!

Are you with me? Say “Thank you!” a whole bunch today!

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