Saturday, October 13, 2018

Does Your Heart Listen To Your Head?

We've all had moments when we had to make big decisions; those decisions that make you stay awake all night playing out every possible scenario in your head. What if I choose (fill in the blank) and it's the wrong choice? What if it's not the right time to (fill in the blank)? What if I choose one direction and find out later I should have gone the other way?

The thing is that none of us have a crystal ball. None of us have someone that can tell us what the right choice is. The choices we are presented with aren't always clear; we won't always know what to do or if the choice is really what is being presented. Maybe we think it is offering us one thing, when in reality it really isn't. Sometimes if an opportunity seems too good to be true, chance are it might be. It's always going to be difficult to know.

When you have to make a big decision or a choice, people will say to 'go with your gut', 'trust your instincts'. Then you have to ask yourself, 'Do you tend to react with your heart or with your head'. Those that react with their heart may be more emotional; how will something make you feel? Happy, sad, stressed, needed, appreciated? Some tend to react more with their head. They will look at a situation or decision and think about the pros and the cons. What will the job offer? How much time will I be on the road and away from my family? Will the choice they make get them where they want to be and doing what they what to do?

Choices can be about relationships, finances, starting families, choosing the right health treatment, new jobs, taking risks, going back to school, etc. We all make tough choices and make decisions each and every day. We need to have faith that whatever decisions we make are the right ones for us. Will we make mistakes? Undoubtedly, we are human after all. Will we learn from our mistakes? Hopefully so. Will whatever choices we make in our lifetime develop and define our character? You bet they will.

When you have a big decision to make do you tend to go with your heart or your head?

Does your heart ever listen to your head or vice versa?

Does making a big decision tend to keep you up at night?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Defining the Moment

Have you ever listened to the lyrics of a song (that perhaps you've heard before) and for whatever reason they felt new? Have you ever looked at a painting and suddenly understood the meaning the artist was trying to convey? Have you ever felt like a friend supported you with kind words at just the right time?

Sometimes the moment you hear a song, read a poem or a scripture verse, or get a call from a friend is the exact moment you needed for it to happen. Call it luck, call it good timing, or call it destiny if you prefer. I don't always understand why it happens that way, but feel extremely fortunate and blessed when it does. 

We never know when we are going to need to be on the receiving end of 'that moment', but we can cross our fingers that it will happen. 

What can we do? We can stop and think twice the next time we are prompted to do something nice for someone else, whether it's a phone call just to check in, drop off a plate of the cookies we made (because we always make too many, lol), or just compliment the stranger that we chat with while standing in line at the store. Maybe the moment we choose to make that extra effort is 'the moment' they need to know they are being thought of or cared for. 

You know what they say about karma? It always comes back around (good or bad).

My advice, for what it's worth? Be proactive. Be nice. Be considerate. Be thoughtful. Be respectful with your words and actions. In a time when our society is up in arms about everything under the sun and choosing sides over every possible topic ... well, I think a little niceness could go a long way. Will it solve the nastiness of the upcoming elections or social media topics? Probably not, but if I can go to bed at night knowing I tried to be part of a solution, rather than contributing to a problem, I may be able to sleep a little better.

When's the last time you had a moment? The kind of moment where things were turned around for the better, you felt loved and supported, or you felt blessed? I felt blessed last week when my kids (now adults) were in a car accident. The angels were watching over them as they skidded on a wet freeway, not hitting any other cars or getting hit by anyone else. Vehicles can be replaced and bruises and soreness will go away, but it was a moment of real blessing for my family. A moment we can't necessarily explain, but a moment we are truly grateful for.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Stepping Into Autumn

Usually after a long, cold winter many people are thrilled when summer finally arrives; the warmer temperatures, the playful days at the beach, and the many colors of the green grass and beautiful flowers. I love the season of summer as much as the next person and enjoy getting a little color on my skin on a sunny day. But truth be told, by the time August rolls around and we've had 90 degree days for literally weeks I am ready for some cooler nights and the chance to wear a sweater.

I love to grow a variety of outdoor flowers and enjoy the vibrancy of the pinks and purples and yellows in my summer flower pots. My husband laughs at me because if I find a new ceramic pot or a see an annual on sale at a local store I can't help but adopt it and find a new home for it on my porch or patio. Then ... September arrives. Children go back to school, schedules change, my husband and I celebrate our anniversary, and then suddenly it's the end of the month and the leaves on the trees are starting to show their first signs of color changes; just a splash here and there of reds and yellows and oranges.

The cider mills are open, pumpkins are being picked in the fields, high school football games are being played on Friday nights, tailgating is taking place as college rival games are being played on Saturday afternoons, teenagers are getting dressed up and going to homecoming dances, and the temperatures are finally not quite as warm meaning I can finally throw on some jeans to cover my pale legs that have lost whatever tan they had from the summer.

Everyone in Michigan knows we have the best state because we get to enjoy four wonderfully different seasons; each of which has their own unique qualities. I like all four for their own reasons, but of the four autumn has to be my absolute favorite. Taking a Sunday afternoon drive in the country is like looking at a beautiful canvas created by God. Trees adorn a palette of fiery colors; crimson, oranges, and sunny yellows. The leaves blow off the trees and literally chase you down the road as your car drives by. It's breathtaking and peaceful and relaxing, all at the same time. Yep, it's definitely my favorite.

What's your favorite part of autumn? The cider and donuts? The walks in the park?

What special traditions have you created with your family and friends? Hayrides? Pumpkin picking? 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Nostalgic First Day of School

Today Facebook has been flooded with 'first day of school' photos; at least in my neighborhood. I have a great nephew who started kindergarten this morning, as well as a friend's granddaughter. Aah, the memories of a first day. The first day of elementary school, the first day of junior high, the first day of high school or college, and the first day of a new year for a teacher. Life is all about making memories and first days.

It's wonderful to see the kids so excited about their first day; smiling faces, new backpacks and sneakers, a new lunch box. It's always good when it's a positive experience. Many will come home to tell their parents about their teacher and classroom or their new best friend. Hopefully they will all feel the same next week when they realize they need to keep going, lol.

There are lots of things to remember about the first day of school. My kids are grown now; adults and well past the age of K-12, but I still remember their first days. I also remember the trips to Target or Office Max for the needed school supplies and the dreaded TI-86 graphic calculators. Once they were in junior high or high school it seemed like they needed a new version of calculator every year. By the time they were in high school we had the school supply shopping down to a 'science' or an 'art' form, pardon the school puns.

As a parent who has survived 2 children going through their general education, as well as obtaining their college degrees I pray each day for the students, the parents, and the teachers. So much to learn, so much commitment, and so much responsibility ... for all of them. Education is a beautiful thing and something that should never be taken for granted. As I sit here typing out this blog post I am watching the season premiere of The Ellen Degeneres Show, where Walmart just shared their commitment to education by supporting 5 students currently pursuing their college degrees with $50,000 in scholarships each. OMG! How wonderful for those five students. Taking a little of the stress out of pursuing a better life. That is to be commended.

Here's to a new school year for everyone. May it be one of new experiences, learning new things, making friends, and being respectful of everyone.

If your children are past this 'first day' what are some of your favorite memories?

If you sent your children out the door this morning for their 'first day', how did it go?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What inspires you?

There are days we think we have it all together; that we can accomplish anything we set our mind to. Oh, if that were just the case every day. Some days we need a nudge, a vigorous shove, or some help from outside sources. Often that help can come in the form of inspiration.

If you are an artist you may need to take a walk in wooded nature or on the beach to visually take in all the colors and textures before you put your brush to the canvas.

If you are a songwriter you might want to observe the people and circumstances around you before you feel you can adequately retell the situation with song lyrics.

If you are a writer you may get your best inspirations from quotes that you come across. Sometimes you find the quotes and sometimes they find you; for me those unexpected ones are the best. Here is one that was part of an email sent to me recently by a friend.

'When you discover something that nourishes your soul and brings you joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.'   ~ Jean Shinoda Bolen

This quote, for me, is literally the vigorous shove or the proverbial 2x4 between the eyes. Some people simply have the ability to point out clearly exactly what I need to be reminded of. Like many other people, I wear a lot of hats. I'm a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law, a grandmother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a friend, someone who likes to putz in her flower beds, a Christian, a cancer survivor, and when I can make time for myself ... a blogger. Writing, for me, is that thing that nourishes my soul and brings me joy. Sometimes, though, the hours and the days get away from me, because 'life' shows up at my doorstep. When I remember to care about myself, I make time to write. It helps me sort through all the 'life' stuff and hopefully regain a little order in my day.

Sometimes I remember and then I blog twice in a week. Other times, like the last 2 weeks, I forget and then days slip by in between blog posts. 

Sometimes you just get tired; the kind of tired that a good night's sleep can't cure. That is another quote I heard somewhere recently, but can't remember where or who said it, sorry. I am feeling inspired by the quotes that have found me. I wrote them out and put them where I can read them whenever I need reminding; which sadly is too often.

Are you feeling frustrated? Overwhelmed? In a rut? 
Ready for a life transition? Encouraged? 
Ready to make things happen in your life?

Where you do find your inspiration?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Not Sweating The Small Stuff

I read a book once (actually I've read many) called 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and It's All Small Stuff' by Richard Carlson, PH.D. It was about learning simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life. There's a lot of wisdom in that little nugget itself. Simplifying things down to their basic core can help you gain (or regain) perspective. The trouble though is that not everything is small stuff and a lot of it isn't even 'your' stuff. That's when things get tricky.

I'll bet if someone did a scientific study on my DNA they would find that besides me being Irish and having more freckles than I can count, I am also a habitual worrier, a planner, a master organizer, one who stresses easily, a born mediator, someone who LOVES a good pizza, etc. The human mind is a very unique thing. Everyone's is different. People behave and react to things differently. What sets one person off and makes them feel anxious sometimes wouldn't bother the person standing next to them in the least. Some of us are detail oriented (to a fault), so much so that we don't miss much. We see how we think things should be and know how we think people should behave, but when things don't fall into our plans in a neat and orderly fashion ... we stress, we worry, and ultimately we try to fix things. Truth is that some things aren't meant to be changed and many aren't even our problems to fix. 

In a perfect world, we could be more objective, be patient, stand back and wait for people to tell us if they needed our help. But I haven't found that perfect balance yet, have you? I see someone else stressing or worrying and I am compelled to be empathetic and feel their stress. Unhealthy for me, I'm sure. Yes, I am one of those people who can watch a Hallmark movie or a Mother's Day commercial and cry before it's even over. 

What am I saying here? That I can admit my strengths, as well as my faults. I care a lot for those in my circle (my family, my friends, my acquaintances, my co-workers, and sometimes even people I've never met). I want to help people. I want to understand what makes them do what they do. I want to fix things. I don't want to stand by and see people hurt (mentally or physically). Those I suppose would be strengths. My weaknesses? Yes, I can be honest - I have those too. I will get hung up on things I shouldn't be stressing over, sometimes little things (like people's behaviors and lack of respect) and sometimes big things (life changing situations). I will admit that when I get hung up on something and can't seem to get past it I've been known to rant about it ... for a while ... probably for way too long. I am not naive enough to think that some of my closest friends don't have moments where they think to themselves, 'Wow, is she still going off about that? Get over it already!' To those friends, I say, 'Thank you for being patient with me. You're the best!' I appreciate them not giving up on me.

What small stuff are you able to put aside and easily get over?

What things do you have a harder time with?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Focus on the Ordinary

Ever notice how there are always those people who seem to be able to accomplish amazing things? We read about them on the Internet and follow their statuses on Instagram. Maybe they are a performer, a well-known chef, an Olympic athlete, an artist, an established author, or a gardener. Maybe they do amazing things or say profound words; regardless you sit and wait with bated breath to see what they will do next. Guess what? They really aren't any different than you or I. Sure, maybe they can sing better or paint better or write better or make us laugh or cry more, but they are still just other human beings. We all have our own insecurities and our own strengths. 

Sometimes it's nice to have the things we do get noticed, but that isn't always why we do what we do. We write or garden or sculpt or run because it makes us happy. We may not be the best at it, but we put our best into what we are doing. If someone else likes it or feels encouraged by it, that is great ... that is a bonus.

Simplicity is about being authentic. Do what you like to do; what makes you feel good about yourself, and just do your best. Often times the ordinary is just one small step away from becoming extraordinary. Everything you do matters; to you and to those around you. We don't always realize it when we're singing that special song or planting the colorful garden for others to admire or creating that one-of-a-kind art piece that will make someone look at it with awe ... that we've turned our gift or talent into something someone else thinks is amazing. Any God-given talent we have should never be wasted. We need to honor the gift and share it.

So, focus on the things you do that you think are ordinary ...believe in them and in yourself and you may be surprised by the end result. You may start to notice all of the amazing things you've already been doing.

Who do you admire and why?

What do they do or say that affects you?