Tag Archives: Love

The Differences Between Us

Jim and I in beautiful Nantucket, Fall of 2016

The relationship of husband and wife should be one of closest friends. B.A. Ambedkar

*This post has been so popular I updated it a bit on February 13, 2017

Jim and I will be married 36 years this coming May. The picture above is one of my new favorites, snapped in Nantucket during time away last fall. Though we’ve been married that long, my husband and I are often like night and day. Oil and vinegar. Fire and water. But somehow, it works. We work. We are still a work in progress.

This is a good example of our differences. When I am driving, I anticipate when I will need to get off at an exit. Usually I move over into the correct lane way ahead of time, probably 1-2 miles before. I don’t have to worry about crossing over large amounts of traffic or missing the exit. I like to play it safe.

Jim will be in the same situation and he will not worry about moving over until he is a half mile from the exit. He will need to cross over two lanes of traffic but so what? Even if someone won’t let him by, he will get over somehow. (and he will complain about the guy that didn’t let him over!)

This kind of stuff used to drive me crazy. But if you’ve been married a long time you know. You choose your battles and ask yourself “how important is it?”

Jim has a counter top in the kitchen where he puts all of his stuff. Papers, pencils, change, you name it. I have my stuff concealed in drawers and desks. His counter top used to drive me nuts. It doesn’t anymore. I hardly notice it.

His garage is the same way. A clutter. But he and his brothers can usually find what they are looking for. I’d love to go and organize it for them but I bet they’d have a meltdown. How would they find anything?

I can just about figure out where Jim has been and what he has done in any given day by the trail he leaves behind. Candy wrappers, hammers, pliers. I have to admit I’m guilty of the same thing myself sometimes. It’s just easier to look at someone else’s mess and point the finger. 😉

I’m a taskmaster, an administrative guru. I have file folders for bills and a place for receipts. Jim can usually not find a crucial paper unless it’s on that cluttered counter. Years ago, he would ask me where I put it. Now he asks me if I’ve seen it.

Jim is really the cream in my coffee and the dots on my i’s. Though many years have passed and we have seen our share of good and bad, we are a team. I never think that he doesn’t love me; he adores me in fact and that love is what keeps us together.

It is worth the time and energy to make a relationship work. I love weddings and the thought of forever after. It takes two to tango though and that’s the truth. Thank you Jim, for the willingness to tango.

JimandJo

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My “Heart Throbs” for You!

The Old Scrapbook

The Old Scrapbook

Years ago, my first employment right out of college was as a recreation director for a faith based nursing and assisted living ministry.

I had my own office and thought I had reached the pinnacle of employment success. My responsibilities included programming all the activities for 40 nursing wing patients and 40 residents. Meals for them were all provided, meds dispensed, oh and by the way, they were all women.

The average age was 85. It was a challenge to do activities planning with seniors of such limited physical movement. So I planned birthday parties of the month, brought in entertainment, utilized my piano playing skills (yes mom and dad, this did pay off!) and even brought in dogs through an organization that catered to the elderly.

But my absolute favorite activity was Poetry Corner. At first, I had a large turnout but gradually the numbers dwindled. Soon, it was just me and Constance. I loved Constance. She was in her mid 80’s and had alot of spunk. She also had a chaise lounge in her room that I loved. I’ve had a fondness for them ever since! One of these days, I’m going to have myself a chaise lounge.

Constance loved poetry and instilled in me an even greater love of classical poetry. She had two “Heart Throbs” books and we read from them over and over again. If you’ve never heard of them, here is what the inside foreword had to say about volume two: “Following the first announcement of “Heart Throbs” six years ago has come the most fascinating experience ever allotted to publishers. This book, containing 840 selections made from the contributions of 52,000 people, has become a classic in thousands of homes and libraries. The simple bringing together of the favorite selections of the people has far transcended the results of any mere literary or editorial compilations.”

I grew so fond of the books that when I left my employment at the home, I asked Constance if I could have them. She said YES.

Since then, life, marriage, children have all taken precedence. I’ve not looked at the books much but I do bring them out every Valentine’s Day. I happened to think of Constance recently and my heart did a leap. Her face came into perfect view and I can remember her just like it was yesterday.

In honor of Constance, here is one of my favorite poems:

The Arrow and the Song

I shot an arrow into the air

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For, so swiftly it flew, the sight

Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,

It fell to earth, I knew not where;

For who has sight so keen and strong,

That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak

I found the arrow, still unbroke;

And the song, from beginning to end,

I found again in the heart of a friend.

Henry W. Longfellow

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Jim’s Favorite Egg Story

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I woke up to the sound of little feet running past my bedroom window.

As I opened my eyes I could see the early summer light streaming through the room. I heard the back door open and shut. I realized it was my grandson Gavin.

He had just come in from collecting fresh eggs from our backyard chicken coop. One of his favorite things to do was to feed and water the chickens and look inside their nests for eggs.

As I started to get out of bed, I could hear him running into the bathroom. The high pitch sound of his voice made me figure something was wrong. “Ah man, this is bull#!@*. This is BS! AH!”

I knocked on the bathroom door and asked “Gavin, what’s the matter?” He said it was ok for me to come in.

DSC_0028What I saw was a young boy with yolk on both of his hands and in his hair. I asked him if the chickens had thrown eggs at him? 😉 “No Jim! There were so many eggs I put some in my pockets. When I went to get them out, one broke. When I went to get the other one out, that one broke too. I forgot I had eggs in my hand and I got it on the door handle. When I saw this, I smacked myself on the head and it went into my hair!”

I had lectured Gavin about using inappropriate language in front of his Nana and girls. It was ok for him to use it in his tree house and in front of guys. But I tell you, I had to hold my laughter back in these crazy few moments.

I had Gavin step out of his pants and reassured him that tomorrow would bring more eggs. No harm done! And Nana came to the rescue with a special basket, just for gathering eggs. So no more need for eggs in pants’ pockets!

Thank you to my husband Jim, for this great contribution of his favorite egg story! Do you have a favorite story that involves an egg? I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below or send me an email at katherinesdaughter@gmail.com.

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Keeping My Spoon in My Own Bowl

Bowl Stack

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very gradual progress, punctuated sometimes by heavy setbacks. Our oldtime attitude of all or nothing will have to be abandoned. Grapevine 1962

So as usual, God has an interesting way of teaching me a good lesson in humility.

Something I did recently, with no harm intended, triggered a domino effect of major proportions. This has served as a reminder to me that a desire for control will sometimes present itself in the most creative ways. And sadly, an issue that could have been solved in a quiet and kind way, ended up bruising my ego and yes I admit, my heart.

I am surviving this by remembering what an old friend taught me years ago. I need to keep my spoon in my own bowl. It is a hard thing to do but truly I think, therein lies the secret to serenity.

When I have my spoon in my own bowl, I cannot pay attention to what is going on in other people’s bowls. Minding my own business becomes easier. It helps me set boundaries and parameters that keep my head in line with my heart. I remind myself, “What other folks do, or think of me is really none of my business.” My own mental health becomes a number one priority.

Bowl SingleYears ago, I had a terrible falling out with a close friend. She was under a lot of stress and one day, called to read me the riot act for a good 5-10 minutes over something I did. During the course of the conversation, she continued to berate me even though I apologized several times. I almost hung up on her but out of respect for our long friendship, I held on until the end.

It took a week or two but I sent her a card. I thanked her for her honesty. I tried to think of that note as act of humility, not a humiliating act.

Our friendship suffered greatly because of this incident. Eventually, I let go of the pain. I didn’t spread any gossip nor did I try and get other friends to take sides. That would have been the easy road. I could have avoided our whole group of friends so I wouldn’t see her. But I was not about to give up my other friends because of what had happened. I continued to show up at get togethers. I just kept my distance from my old friend.

Years later, it was she who reached out to repair our relationship. I welcomed her with open arms. We are dear friends again and I would do just about anything for her.

While driving home today a thought crossed my mind. Could my own humility be a God lesson to someone else? Is it possible that in my own self centeredness, I fail to stop and consider what someone else might learn in a challenging situation? Who knows? I try not to really think about it because after all, my spoon is in my own bowl.

Bowl Multiples with Red Vase

(all photos by me and my lovely Android cell phone!)

How do you practice humility?

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Good Golly, Miss Molly!

Miss Molly, Photo by my daughter, Michelen

Meet Miss Molly! All photos by my daughter, Michelene

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” ― Charles M. Schulz

Who’s big, shiny black and carries a big stick? Why it’s my daughter’s new puppy, Miss Molly!

She’s a Great Dane, just a little under one year old and even in couple of months, has grown larger almost right before our eyes. You can tell by the pictures, I’m sure, that she is quite the happy girl.

I knew a Great Dane years ago, when I dated a young Italian who had one. That was long ago and though the memory is faded, I knew Danes to be loving and gentle dogs. That didn’t stop me from being a tad bit scared the first time I met Molly. But that quickly faded as I saw how sweet and sincere she is.

My daughter is Molly’s third owner in her small life. When Michelene told me that I said, “Well, you have to keep her now.” And Michelene agreed. It’s a done deal. Molly is a member of the family.

Molly loves to play fetch in the basement with balls. Intially, she would not go downstairs because her second owner kept her in a basement all the time. 🙁 Michelene was very patient and encouraging with Molly to help her overcome this. She placed dog treats on each step leading down to the basement, and gradually Molly overcame her own fears.

With my daughter’s large yard and property, Molly has plenty of room to run and play. My own pup, Miss Jordan, was initially petrified of Molly but that didn’t last long. They are bosom buddies, often romping in the back yard of Michelene’s house together.

Molly eats two pounds of dog food a day and drinks a LOT of water. She has a special dog/water food combo dish that is elevated off the ground due to her height.

She loves to look out the window at everyone and everything!

How much is that puppy in the window?

How much is that puppy in the window?

I think we know deep down that Molly is an example of how you can be moved around, not sure where you are going, but end up exactly where you are supposed to be. There will always be someone who will love us exactly the way we are. We love Molly for who she is and the potential for what she can become. She is a beautiful dog, inside and out.

Cathching a few Zzzzz!

Catching a few Zzzzz!

Here’s to many good years ahead! We are blessed and lucky to have Molly as a part of our family!

Who is a blessing in your life?

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Sisterly Love

With my Sisters, at the Base of the Acropolis!

With my Sisters, at the Base of the Acropolis! L to R, Cally, Mary, Me

There is no outsider anywhere who wouldn’t appreciate and even envy the tremendous advantage that sisters have if properly utilized, against all odds- Susan Ripps

Today is my sister’s birthday- Happy Birthday Mary! It’s also a perfect time for me to spend a few moments thinking about sisterhood.

If you have a sister, you will understand. You will know about the good times, the growing up times, the not so easy times and the special times.

The Oldest and (temporarily) the Tallest!

Me- The Oldest and (temporarily) the Tallest!

When we were growing up, we three were like jam (stuck together!) and we watched out for each other. We rode bikes, played Batman and Robin and jumped on our beds just like most other kids.

We fought and made up. We dished and kept quiet. We occasionally told on each other and then stuck our tongues out to rub it in good.

We sang in middle school chorus and took piano and guitar lessons. The church choir was our back bone and GOYA (the Greek Orthodox Youth Association) our teenage learning years. Greek school was mandatory but there’s not much we remember about that today.

Our mom was tough but Dad was even tougher. Three daughters must have been quite hellish for him at times; too much to worry about. But they did a fine job and I must say we are quite the talented bunch.

To this day, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t share with my sisters. Though I was encouraged to be their role model, they have seen me stumble, fall, get back up, fall again, hit the wall, succeed. They stuck with me through all of it, never making fun of me or thinking less of me. I guess I have shown them my imperfect side, my soft side, because the role model side would not have taught them as much.

We went out to dinner the other night just the three of us and our mom. We toasted our dinner and our time together. It’s been a great holiday and it’s about to get even greater with a shopping trip today and dinner out tonight including our fabulous partners.

So here’s to Mary- Happy Birthday!

Do you have a sister or someone who is like a sister to you?

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Gifts in Strange Wrapping Paper

“From the clear center of my heart, there are no edges to my loving you. I’ve heard it said there’s a window that opens from one mind to another, but if there were no wall, what need of installing a window?” – Rumi

The Heart of the Matter

The Heart of the Matter

So begins Chapter 1 of The Heart of the Matter: A Simple Guide to Discovering Gifts in Strange Wrapping Paper by Dr. Darren R. Weissman and Cate Montana, M.A. , a beautiful book in theory but a challenge to work through none the less.

I found it interesting that the authors believe that most aches, pains, diseases and emotional suffering are gifts in strange wrapping paper. They are messages to discovering the truth of who we are. There are some stories and examples given that illustrate how early traumatic incidences can have deep emotional roots in our subconscious.

The theory is to learn that these symptoms are not personal in any way, but rather spiritual in every way; they are wake- up calls to alert us to evolve to our fullest potential.

Do I agree with this? Tentatively, yes. I have to say that I think many illnesses are stress related and triggered by old emotions we have no conscious awareness of.

The book identifies a way to work through uncomfortable problems and just about every situation. It’s the See Feel Hear Challenge. I’m not going to give it all away but basically the authors teach us how to slowly allow ourselves a way in which to face and work through anything that is causing us pain or discomfort. No crazy stuff, just good old fashioned introspection- and a whole lot of courage.

My favorite section is on setting an intention. This is something I am trying to do more of lately and the book describes the process in very good detail and easy to understand directions.

Other chapters are on responsibility and the freedom to choose, social conditioning, addiction and compulsions and some other challenging subjects. If you are looking for a book to guide yourself into the next spiritual plane, this one may be exactly what you are looking for.

And here is my disclosure per Hay House Publishers. I get to choose the book I wish to review, it is given to me free of charge, and I am not compensated for my endorsement of this book. This review is my personal opinion.

There are some other reviews of this book on Amazon.com.

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Everything I Own Has Alittle Bit of Doghair On It

 

Our favorite dog Ms. Jordan

Our favorite dog Ms. Jordan

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
Josh Billings

I put a jacket on the other day and there it was. Golden yellow flecks of dog hair.

I put a pair of black pants on to go to a special event- there it was again, more dog hair.

Everything I own has alittle bit of doghair on it.

Do I say with this impatience, aggravation or anger? No. As a matter of fact, I have complete and total acceptance of dog hair.

Our yellow lab Jordan is a member of our family. We have had her now for eight years and it seems like she has been with us always. I try and remember life without her and it just doesn’t seem the same.

My daughter found Jordan (or Jordan found her) when she went to pick up her son one day at his father’s house. Michelene said when she came back out to the car, Jordan was sitting next to the car wheel smiling as if to say “Here I am! What are we doing next!?”

Thank goodness Michelene had the nerve to go to Jordan’s house of origin and ask if she was available for adoption. The family said “Hold on a minute” and came back and said “You can take her.”

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I fell instantly in love when I saw Jordan. Lab pups are too cute and the bond between Jordan and us was immediate. We had a border collie at that time too. I don’t think Lucky was initally excited about another competitor in the house. Thankfully he got used to it and they played like brother and sister.

Chicken PictureJordan is outside most of the day and is our official “protector of the chickens.” That is, we have a coop with twelve chickens and she protects them from hawks and wildlife. In the late afternoon we let the chicks out to roam. Jordan is ever watchful, ever vigilant. For her devotion, she gets a fresh egg reward.

To watch Jordan eat an egg is like being a witness to a spiritual experience. She handles it like glass. Gently taking it in her mouth, she lays it down on the ground. How she cracks it open so perfectly I don’t know. When she licks the egg out you know she is savoring it. Finally, she eats the shell and finishes the treat.

If anyone raises their voice at our house alittle too loudly, Jordan walks over and nudges them. She is uncomfortable with upset people, us or guests, and she has become an emotional baromater for our household. Get alittle too excited and Jordan will gently touch you and make you calm the heck down.

Are you worried about something? Jordan will come and look at you with her big eyes, silently requesting a head scratch or belly rub. By the time you are done, your problem will not seem so big.

I consider Jordan one of the most precious gifts in my life. She keeps me company when Jim works a long shift. It is just me and her some nights. I am fine with that.

 

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Rocky Mountain High

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I don’t know about you but sometimes I can really get a committee going in my head. The committee sometimes makes good sense or helps me through a problem in a loving and encouraging way. But sometimes the committee speaks too loudly and makes no sense.

It likes to go on and on about dumb stuff and I just follow along, wimp like, victim like while it chastises me for various things. I didn’t do this or that good enough, or wow, how could I have reacted in that situation like that. On and on it goes, just making me feel bad.

Until I got the bright idea one day that I could just change the station in my head. Just like turning the knob to another radio station, I can switch off the bad thoughts and tune into another station. I mentally try one station- soft music- and in my head suddenly I am singing an old familiar 70’s song like yep, Rocky Mountain High. I saw John Denver in person once, the year before he died, and he performed with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. That was the first song he walked out on stage singing and I still get chills just thinking about it.

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So now my head is filled with glorious music and a stunning mountain vista, instead of those pesky, bothersome committee members.

If the song ends in my head, I can again switch the station. This time, I switch to the spiritual station. In the background I can feel the warmth of soft candles. My Higher Power is there, s(he) is engaging me in loving thoughts and encouragement. I am again bathed in a wash of light and happiness, grateful to be alive and ready for my next destination.

This takes some practice, but I am getting pretty good at switching stations. The committee is learning that it can’t sit there and complain and give me a hard time or the door will close to its room. I’ll be off and in another direction, content to find another, more happier place in which to hang out.

Thanks to my daughter Michelene for her stunning photos!

Where do you go (in your head!) for a change of scenery?

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What Speaks of Love?

The Bonfire

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa

I was loading socks into Jim’s dresser drawer when I remembered a moment in time. It was a flashback to a conversation between Jim and our close friend John.

Jim had asked John what act of his wife’s spoke of love? John thought for a moment and said “The smell of dinner when I drive up my driveway! That spells LOVE to me!”, said John in his big, beautiful voice. I braced myself for what Jim would say. “A drawer full of socks, John. I love when I open my drawer and see it full of socks.”

Since then I have remembered what filling up that sock drawer means to Jim. It speaks of my love for him. It took me only a moment (and thirty years of marriage) to realize how much he appreciated it.

What does Jim do for me that I love? He builds great campfires. He sets up the logs in a nice, stacked fashion, utilizes newspaper strategically, and sometimes even gets creative with a few charcoal briquets just to get things going.

I once told Jim that his fires “flickered in all the right places.” He loved that and says it’s one of the nicest things I have ever said to him.

When I think about it, it’s really those little things that sometimes mean the most. I try and pay attention to what I do for the special people in my life- my kids, my mom, my grandson, my family, my friends. Thoughtful and kind acts are not necessarily about great or expensive gifts. Meaningful acts of loving kindness can be simple and sweet, inexpensive and lovely.

I like to take my mother a mason jar of flowers from my yard when I visit her. Or, I take her something special from the farmer’s market- those little zucchini, an eggplant or some fresh green beans. I know how much she likes those kinds of things.

This weekend, I hope someone does something special for you and vice versa. Have a great holiday!

Does someone you know do something especially kind for you? Or do you have a great memory of a parent or loved one from your past? Here’s your chance to share it with us and give us some good ideas!

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