The Graces of Sisterhood


1.Greek & Roman Mythology Three sister goddesses, known in Greek mythology as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispense charm and beauty.

2. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.

3.The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.

4. An excellence or power granted by God.

 I have been wanting to write about my two sisters for some time now. There are those ideas, as I’m sure other writers will attest to, that are just challenging to put into words. But here and now I’m going to try and describe the feelings I have for my two sisters.

L to R, Joanne, Mary, Cally

First, just bit of background. Mary is two years younger than me. When we were growing up, she and I played Batman together, rode Schwinn bikes together, fought and protected each other. Today she is an entrepreneurial, forward thinking, loving woman who makes time for anyone and any good mission or project. Cally is four years younger than me. I remember her as a child, but just barely. I am sure I protected her, watched over her, as my father often reminded me of my caretaker and role model responsibilities. Cally is soft and quiet but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t step up to the plate. She is quite the leader, eloquent writer and artistic creator.

I think the three of us are a blend of my father’s outstanding leadership qualities and our mother’s (Katherine) wisdom, strength and great Grecian- inherited event planning skills. How very lucky we are to have been so blessed!

It was not until the three of us left for college that I felt how really close we were. Though separated by distance, we would come together at holidays and on special occasions. As we got older, we shared our life experiences, our trials and tribulations of growing up. We have not agreed upon everything but we respect and support each other. I think we make a great team, bouncing ideas off each other and managing some good retail therapy when we have a chance to be together.

There is no denying that now, the relationship between us is very strong. I found a quote by Susan Ripps in which she says “There is no outsider anywhere who wouldn’t appreciate and even envy the tremendous advantage that sisters have, if properly utilized, against all odds”. How true!

At the Base of the Acropolis!

God must certainly have Grace in mind when he creates sisters.  Divine love, the state of being protected, and power to support, love and care for each other. When I found the definition of Graces in Wikipedia (in my opening), somehow it was just perfect for describing my relationship to my sisters.

Do you have a sister? Whether she is blood related or not, sisterly bonds can last forever. I can think of several people who I feel special enough about to call them sisters. Tell me in comments below what your sister(s) mean to you. I’d love to hear about it!

Join me on my graceful journey.

To Amy, With Love

A few years ago my husband Jim and I were invited, by our good friends Amy and Joel, to spend a weekend in a cabin among the beautiful tall trees of Cook Forest.

If you have never been to Cook Forest, it is worth the drive. It is a rustic, back- in- time, beautiful kind of state park. It is lush with trees, big rocks, streams (you can go canoeing!) and of course the usual little gift shops. It’s very spiritual and a great place to unwind.

That weekend Jim, Joel and I got to the cabin ahead of Amy. Amy was riding up with her daughter Becky. Apparently it had been a long drive because when Amy got out of the truck, the first thing she did was bend over, grab a flat rock and turn it over.

I missed this somehow but Jim caught sight of it. He said to me later, “Did you see what Amos (our pet name for Amy) did when she got here?” He clued me in. What this meant was, something frustrating had gone on in the truck and Amy, in her wisdom, decided to turn it over.

Turn it over means let it go. Sometimes it can mean look at it in a different way. Other times it means I’m so angry I can hardly think!

Amy and her grandbaby, Willow

Amy has been an example to me of how to turn it over. She has had some troubling things happen to her in the last couple of years…. things that would have sent others over the edge. She just keeps going, keeps turning it over, keeps faith in her core. I can have the worst possible day going but if I see Amy, I always feel better.

Sometimes we all need an extra prayer. This week is a trying week for Amy as some memories are front and center. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I’d really appreciate it. Thank you and have a blessed day!

Join me on my graceful journey.

God is in the Parking Spaces

I try not to take my peaceful state of mind these days for granted. Blessed in many ways, there was a period in my life when my faith was not in a good place. Some sad events were going on that had me thinking I was being punished for some bad deed(s) I had committed somewhere along the lines of my life. I wasn’t even sure what the deeds were. I was caught up a depression, the likes of which I had never experienced.

There was a group of friends who saw me through this bad period. They shared their own experiences, strength and hope with me. Not necessarily church goers, they none the less had their core grounded in a power greater than themselves.

For a while, they were the source of my everyday strength. When I was down, they lifted me up. When I was fine, they encouraged me to grow. They hung out with me when I was depressed. I got tired sometimes of their relentless optimisms, but I kept coming back for more. I envied their serenity and peace of mind. They were willing to cede unmanageable parts of their life to God.

Little by little, their faith began to seep into my heart. My friends were living happy lives, though not necessarily problem- free. I was getting brave enough to give faith a new go.

English: Parking spaces, Moira They run parall...
Say a prayer!

Around this time I owned a street front business with challenging parking. Many times, I would arrive with supplies to unload only to find no parking spaces available. One day I decided to ask God to have a space available to me when I got there. Miraculously, there was a space waiting for me, right across the street from my store. I thought hmmmm, probably just a coincidence. The next time I did the same thing. Prayed. Parking space again. Then, bravely, I started to ask for parking in other areas of the city. Again, I would almost always find a space when I needed it.

This tiny turning over was the sprout of my renewed faith. I slowly began to turn over (i.e. give up control of!) my slightly more annoying problems and ask for help. I didn’t ask that it be done my way. I didn’t have the strength for that and besides, my way was not working.  Slowly, my problems began to get solved. I really didn’t do anything but pray for help and WAIT.

It takes some self control not to force solutions. Personally, I like to be in charge and call the shots. But there is a calm and peace in not feeling compelled to solve every problem or climb every mountain. Letting my faith take over is a heck of a lot less stressful.

Today, my life is in a better place. It’s not always perfect (far from it!) but today I live day to day knowing that whatever life throws at me, things will work out if I just have faith. One of my friends once said, God never hurries but he’s always on time. I find that to be true time and time again.

Thanks for stopping by my space!

Join me on my graceful journey.

Get ready! Saturday is Jammie Day!

Calvin and Hobbes
Saturdays are for relaxing!

I have been really busy lately. It will be June before my five day work week becomes a four day work week. And as Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes!) would say, the days are just packed. So in order to ward off a winter meltdown, I have invented a new Saturday morning splurge for myself. I fondly call it Jammie Time.

Just in case you think I am talking about grape jam or orange marmalade, let me clarify. I am talking about pajamas. Wonderful, warm and soft pajamas. Last Saturday, I happened to stay in my pajamas until NOON and did not do any form of work. I reveled in the simplicity of an endless pot of coffee, numerous favorite shows in my DVR and a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove. What luxury! What decadence!

Lest you think I have completely lost my mind, remember I am an over-doer. Sitting around in my jammies until Noon is kind of a no-no. I usually have a line up of things to do, people to meet, goals to reach. But even God took one day off. Why not me too?

I loved my Saturday morning so much, I want to spread the idea of Jammie Time! I want to encourage everyone to have JT at least one morning a week. The catch is, you cannot do something you consider to be work. Maybe your idea of relaxation is baking. Maybe it’s knitting or reading. Whatever it may be, just go for it! Just don’t go and clean out your extra storage room. That is not relaxing!

By the way, I have to mention my new favorite pair of jammies. They are from Soma, a beautiful store at the mall. They are all cotton and oh so soft. The top is a red Henley and the bottoms are decorated with little black and white penguins that have red scarfs around their necks. They are totally silly jammies but I love them.

It is so worth it to set aside time to regroup and recharge our batteries. Join the bandwagon and embrace Jammie Time! Let me know your favorite JT activity(ies). And spread the word!

Join me on my graceful journey.

Coloring Outside the Lines

World-famous Crayola crayons are manufactured ...
What's your favorite color?

Coloring was one of my favorite things to do as a child. Back then of course there were no video games and limited tv channels. Life was simplier. I loved to color for hours.

That said, I remember outlining the edge of whatever I was coloring with a bold or dark color and then filling in the design, character (whatever) by lightly laying my crayon on its side and moving back and forth. I was a very neat colorer.

Recently, I came to view my husband as one who probably likes to color outside the lines. A funny incident occurred in which he was not really coloring but the thought process was quite the same. Here’s how it went. He was making an easy recipe of Stove Top stuffing, chicken, sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. And, he was making it for the entire family, including my son’s practically new girlfriend that I am hoping is (up to this point) thinking that we are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

(FYI, I want to mention that Stove Top chicken bake is not my idea of a gourmet or even a special meal, but occasionally we really love chicken and stuffing. And besides, it is a really easy meal so what’s not to love?)

But instead of making the recipe in the traditional way, my significant other did it his way. He laid the entire bag of dry stuffing on the bottom of the pan. He put the chicken on top of the dry stuffing then he mixed the soup with water and poured it over top of everything. He completely forgot (or shall I say….eliminated the sour cream). When I asked him why he didn’t follow the recipe, his answer was “it’s the same concept”.

I was tempted to either read him the riot act or pretend I had a last minute engagement I had to attend. I decided instead to let it go. When everyone was getting ready to sit down for dinner, my son’s girlfriend asked how he made the chicken bake. My husband generously offered the recipe to which I couldn’t help but add “that’s not really the recipe. he just likes to color outside the lines….”

This got a chuckle from everyone, including my husband. And how was dinner? Well, it was fine though the stuffing did not all puff up and so some of it stuck to the bottom of the pan. With a little cranberry sauce, it was just fine. Everyone declared it delicious and hey, I didn’t have to make dinner!

So though I like to color inside the lines, there are clearly others who love to go beyond and color wildly. I need to respect that. That is what makes life alittle more colorful.

Join me on my graceful journey.

Magical Moments

English: Fireworks on the Fourth of July
Happy New Year!

How was your New Year’s? I spent mine differently this year. Usually I stay home with my significant other, have something special to eat then either go to bed early or watch the ball drop, then go to bed.

I belong to a church that had a New Year’s dance this year so I knew I had to go and support it. My mom wanted to come as did two other couples we know via the sobriety community.

We had a wonderful time. It is amazing how truly possible it is to have a good time without alcoholic beverages. The food was good, the music was great and it felt magical to be out celebrating a holiday with so many other people.

Two other moments happened on New Year’s Eve day. First, I sent a text to my husband about a friend of ours and in less than a minute, the friend just happened to call me. In another moment, I walked to my mailbox (it is down abit on our road) and while there, I saw my nephew about to leave for a three week journey to another country. I ran to give him a hug and kiss and wish him safe travels.

These small moments mean something very big to me. The timing of them suggests a spiritual connectedness. It makes me wonder: if I was less distracted by minor concerns, would I notice more opportunities that I may be currently missing? Could I be led along a more meaningful path if only I paid a bit more attention?

I am always searching for a deeper relationship with God and to my fellow human beings. Experimenting with different acts of loving kindness, surrounding myself with people who are also striving for meaningful relationships, and trying to live a less ME- centered life may make this happen.

In 2012, my goal is to slow down and listen for direction instead of forcing it. Who knows where I may end up? Happy New Year to you!

Join me on my graceful journey.

Humility does not need to be Humiliating….

Cup of Coffee with Spices
Take your time!

As I write this, I am at a coffee shop using my small laptop and a new Christmas present. My son, who has helped me numerous times with all things tech based, informed a relative of mine that a great Christmas gift for me would be a wireless mouse to work alongside my little laptop.

I got some quick instructions when I opened my mouse gift a couple of days ago. It went something like this: plug the USB port into your laptop, turn on the mouse, place the port here for storage……..

Sounds easy, yes? Yes, but I have always been fearful of learning something new, especially when it involves technology. I still try, but I am half scared to death when I do it. This morning, I thought for sure I would not be able to figure out where to plug the USB port into my laptop. Well, I figured it out and my computer did not crash, I did not have a meltdown and I did not make a complete fool of myself in the middle of the coffee shop. Also, my computer warned me immediately that my laptop battery was low. I took my handy dandy cord, plugged it into the wall socket and into the correct port on my computer, and viola! I can write all I want.

Why do I occasionally panic about this little stuff? The tiny voice inside my head wants to talk me out of any new endeavor for fear of failure. Danger! Danger! This is way too hard!…or so it likes to tell me….

Then, somewhere between a state of panic and my ego I find humility.

Per Wikipedia, humility is the quality of being modest and respectful. I think humility does not need to be humiliating. While I trusted my ability to figure out the mouse, I realized that I needed to take my time, remember my son’s instructions and give it my best shot. Ego has to take a back seat too because if I did not take time to remember my son’s instructions, I would barrel through the process, likely with no thought to what I was really doing.

I recently completed a large project at work that required my learning a whole new database management system. Since I’d only been with this company for two months before the download of hundreds of names into the new database, I thought, (panicky) how am I going to do this? Will I really be able to figure out this new system? How I did it was one name at a time. Instead of thinking about the whole project looming ahead of me, I concentrated on one letter of the alphabet and one name at a time. I took the tutorials the software company offered and asked questions when I couldn’t figure things out. The project took three months but I finished before my goal date. I felt really good about it when I was all done.

The older I get the more I realize it is truly ok to make mistakes in the learning process known as LIFE. Recognizing myself as a beautiful human being, strengths and weaknesses included, keeps my humility in the right place and my faith on the front burner.

Join me on my graceful journey.

Christmas Expectations

Take a rest from expectations!

Christmas brings out the best and worst in me.

I like to organize, plan and execute the most perfect events. I like my presents to be carefully chosen and exquisitely wrapped. I like my cookies to be freshly baked and melt in your mouth buttery. I watch shows on how to do it all; I read articles and email blasts on the greatest holiday gift ideas, the perfect way to use leftover turkey, etc. etc…..

That said, I can also have the world’s worst case of holiday depression from trying to do it all and expecting others to know how I want it done. I am better than I used to be in this regard (oh, the perfectionism!), but I can still use a bit more work in the whole realistic/unrealistic thinking arena.

My husband likes to say that an expectation is a premeditated resentment. I think this hits the nail on the head! Better to go with the flow, let things happen as they will and mind my own business. If I let go my expectations towards others and myself, my life is much happier and easier.

Merry Christmas my friend!

Join me on my graceful journey.