Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Should I Write About?

What should I write about? Some days that is a really big question. I like to try to keep my posts as motivational, uplifting, and inspiring as possible. But, like you, I am human. There are times I have A LOT on my mind and would love to tell everyone exactly what I was thinking, but those posts would ultimately be considered a rant. Rants are never healthy; for the writer or the reader. I always talk about the power of words. Even the simplest of words have enormous power; to build people up or tear them down. You can give people hope with kind and generous words, just as you can break someone's heart or belittle them with harsh ones.

Every time we open our mouths we should consider the responsibility that we have. We should choose to use our words for good; to better ourselves and those around us. Whenever we spew ugliness for the sake of trying to get our viewpoint across or to make ourselves feel better at the risk of making someone else feel worse, we are making a bad choice ... a sad choice.

Words, whether spoken or written, carry consequences. In today's world we see and hear it every day. For every good word spoken there are bound to be five that are not. I've said it before and I will say it again ... words, once they are out, cannot be taken back. You can say you're sorry to someone. You can tell them you didn't mean to say the ugly things you did, but the truth of the matter is all you can do is continue to try to win someone back over and hope for forgiveness. You'll never be Harry Potter or a magician. You will never be able to fully take back the ugly things you've said. It just doesn't work that way.

There is the saying that 'actions speak louder than words'. That is often true, but whether we are speaking aloud or sharing our words on social media or acting out what is in our hearts we ALL need to take a step back and ask ourselves, 'Is this worth it?' 'Is this going to help or make things worse?'

I listen to the news, I read the online headlines, I observe people, and I feel sickened; by the things I hear, by the things I read, and by the things I witness. I am not one to judge what is right and what is wrong. I have to hold on to my faith that a higher power will make that judgement. I read some online comments and am disheartned by some of the things that I read. People will respond to a story or a Facebook post in the ugliest of ways. They will quickly get off topic and try to throw in their own agenda. They will suggest they are smarter and wiser and better than everyone else and therefore entitled to their disruptive opinion. That's the beauty of America. Everyone IS entitled to their own opinion, but too many people hide behind Amendments and use them as a shield to do or say irresponsible and disruptive things. That is the really sad part. People fought for the rights that others choose to take for granted.

Do I have all the answers of how to make the world a better place? Absolutely not, but I sure wish I did. I'll bet we all wish we did. So what can you and I do? We can start with us. We can't make decisions and choices for other people, but we can choose what our reaction will be and how we will deal with the unpleasantness. We have the ability to choose not to make things worse by adding fuel to the fire. We can think twice before we speak.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How long does it take you to relax?

This week I am conducting a study of sorts and putting myself at the center of the study. Like MANY other people I work full time, I have a family, and I have a lot of responsibilities. Who doesn't, right? I am certainly not centering in just on my habits, but my habits are what I know best.

I am a people pleaser, we've already established that. I never want to inconvenience anyone or add any responsibilities to their already crazy days. In order for me to feel I can go away on vacation I feel I must get all my ducks in a row; at home and at my job. Don't get me wrong, no one expects it of me other than myself. Definitely self-imposed, but that is how I roll.

This week I am on vacation with my sister; a first for us. The first night I slept pretty darn good; the bed and pillows were super comfy, the sunset was amazing, and the skies have been nothing but blue. The second night ... not a lot of sleep. My heart and my body were saying, 'Go for it, relax'. My brain? Active as usual. So how long does it take YOU to relax? Do you leave home and sleep like a baby? Do you never feel the need to check your email or phone? Can you leave the stresses and worries of everyday life back at home? If you can do all of these things, PLEASE message me with your suggestions of success.

Our goals for this week are simple; reconnect as adult sisters, not set a morning alarm, read our books until we are cross-eyed and can't read anymore, and try to just enjoy the moment. So far we seem to be doing pretty well (I think). No one has hurt anyone, lol. We've talked, we've reminisced, and we've given each other space when we need it. Like right now ... I am blogging and she is reading on the balcony. All is good.

My sister recently went camping for five days and said it took her four nights before she got a good night's sleep. I am hoping that since today is day three of five for us I am holding out for the every-other-night routine and am hoping for some serious ZZZ's tonight.

So how do you approach your vacations? With expectations and schedules or more of a 'go with the flow and see what happens' approach? I'd love to know what you look for in a vacation and whether or not you are successful. Are they more about the destination or the company? About the activities or the down time?

Stay tuned. My next post will share some of our highlights so far.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Making The Quick Decision

Are you a good decision maker? Do you make snap decisions or are you a thinker; someone who analyzes every possible angle before choosing which way to go? Truth be told I am probably a little bit of both, just depends on the situation (and the day).

Having the ability to make a quick decision or choice is good if it's a life-saving reflex. We've all heard of the right arm 'mom seat belt' right? I've saved many lives in my lifetime, although I'm sure that the seat belt that came with the cars worked just as well as my arm ... but hey, better safe than sorry. If you see a child wander into the street while playing, you run and stop them, right? Doesn't matter if it's your child or the kid from down the road. Yes, some quick reflexes are helpful when it comes to making that split-second decision.

But making a quick decision about something that ultimately could change your 'big picture' in a way that's stressful or unhealthy isn't a good thing. That's when it would be a good idea to pause and think about everything involved before committing yourself to something. Sometimes we take the wrong job or agree to be part of a relationship because we feel pressured. I once held a job at a travel agency that dealt only with cruises. I agreed to give the job a try because the employer made it sound very enticing. After one week and finding out her expectations (and unhealthy demands) I decided I was not the right person for the job. Looking back I wish I had thought more about my decision before I accepted so quickly. If I had I would have had another 5 nights of good sleep under my belt, but lesson learned.

So why do we sometimes find ourselves making the quick decision that isn't necessarily right for us? I can only speak for myself, but I can admit that I am a people-pleaser. Maybe that's a good trait on most days, but some days it isn't. I often have a hard time saying no because I don't want to disappoint anyone. The fear of disappointment can be very daunting. I somehow convince myself that if I say no things won't happen or get done in a timely fashion and I will be letting someone down. It's hard to accept the fact that even I am dispensable; even I can say NO and things will still proceed without me. Who knew that the world didn't really revolve around me, lol.

We all make our own choices and must then accept the responsibilities that go with them; good or bad. If we all knew how to make the right choice all the time I'm sure we would, but we don't and need to accept that (sometimes daily, lol).

The next time you're faced with making an important decision remember that it's okay NOT to give an immediate answer. In the long run it's better that your answer is the right one for you, rather than just being the speediest.

What was the last quick decision you made? And no, I'm not referring to making a dinner or movie choice. :)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Is Your Summer Half Over?

There's that old controversy 'Is the glass half empty or half full?'. It doesn't just pertain to attitudes; being an optimist or a pessimist. Many people are lighthearted and full of optimism; they see the good in us and themselves (that we can't always see). Others (and I know many specific cases) will be negative about EVERYTHING; the weather, the economy, their relationships, their health, and any other little thing that crops up on any given day. Is being an optimist in our DNA? I'm not a scientist (nor have I played one on TV, lol) so I really couldn't say, but I do think most times it is a choice. 

I can get up any morning to listen to the weather report and decide right then if I'm going to let the fact that it may be hot and humid outside ruin my day. Will my hair get frizzy, yet flat on top? You bet it will, although you would think that combination wouldn't even be possible. I have choices. I can wear a scarf or a hat or wear a headband. I can make the best of the situation and laugh about it with everyone else I see that isn't having their picture perfect day either. We are never truly alone.

If we start out our day with the mindset that it's going to be disappointing or a complete let down, then chances are we've already set the stage and nature (and life) will just take its course and follow. We always have a choice when it comes to our attitudes. I know there are A LOT of very real things out there in the world that I have no control over. I can't control how other people drive. I can't control when something will or won't happen. Just as I can't control when God is going to send someone my way at just the time when I need them most. 

I know one rather negative person who I always joked and said, 'Thier glass isn't just half empty, to them it also has a hole in the bottom.' They choose to look for the bad and then somehow make it bigger or worse. I don't know that I could live that way. It would be too sad and too lonely, but everyone has to make their own choices.

So, as I sit here at my computer and glance at the calendar I notice that we are past the half way mark in the month of July which could mean either ... your summer is half over ... OR you have half of your summer yet to look forward to with anticipation and thankfulness.

What's your outlook? Are you looking at Labor Day as being the end (of whatever that means to you) or are you looking at today as being the start of another great day full of opportunities.

Hmmm, I think I will be optimistic that today's humidity won't be TOO bad and look forward to all that is yet to come.

What's on your horizon for the next six weeks?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What motivates you?

What is your current goal? What is your long term goal? What makes you finally define something as more than just a passing thought, but rather as a goal (which requires commitment)?

Do you want to lose 10# to wear that special dress to a wedding at the end of the summer? Are you interviewing for your first post-graduate job? Are you trying to save money to tackle a certain project that's been on the back burner for too long? Do you want to finally get your life (and basement) organized?

Why do you want to achieve whatever 'it' is? Will accomplishing 'it' make you feel more fulfilled?

What will it take to make you succeed? Your passion? Your unbelievable drive? The potential end result? Will it be your amazing support system or giving yourself a deadline that will help you succeed?

There are self-help books on the market. There are motivational tapes you can listen to (if you still have access to a Walkman). There are life coaches and fitness trainers who will help you stay on track.

I'm not talking about the achieving the predictable New Year's Eve resolutions or the 'it's time to get back into the summer swimsuit challenges'. I'm talking about conquering your fears in the here and now. What is it you REALLY want to do? Why do you want it so bad that you're willing to put yourself in a vulnerable position to go after it? Who is in your corner to support you? How will you feel when you get to the top of YOUR mountain? What will your mountaintop view look like?

I know what MY current challenges are and why I want to overcome them; I want to lose the nagging 5-10# that will never go away, I want to sleep through the night more than two nights in a row, I want to spend more time with my granddaughters, I want to be able to give myself permission to carve out the occasional ME time and not feel guilty for doing it, and I want to learn how to forgive and move on. I am a work in progress, but that's okay ... at least if I am in progress I must be moving forward.

How about you? 

What are your current challenges and how can I help you over come them?

Friday, June 30, 2017

I Planted My First Rose Bush

This week marked a 'first' for me. I planted my first rose bush. I've always admired that a plant with such prickly thorns could produce flowers that were so delicate, yet sturdy at the same time. It's not often that I write product reviews, but occasionally I do make an exception.  My blog has never been about promoting things or gaining advertisers or trying to make a profit off of my words. My blog has always been more about conversations, thoughts, hopes, and dreams; but when I have an opportunity to combine the two together ... well, I consider it a challenge and a little bit of fun. Who could turn that down?

I was approached last week by Proven Winners Direct to write a product review for them. Some of you may remember that last summer I wrote one for them for their new DIY Hanging Basket Kit. I had so much fun with that one and was so impressed with the quality of their product that I just couldn't say no to this one. This time, in celebration of National Rose Month, they asked if I would review their brand new 'At Last' Rose. At Last combines all the fragrance of fully-petaled tea roses with the no-nonsense practicality of a disease-resistant landscape rose. This is a sneak preview of the 'At Last' Rose that will not be available to the public for purchase until 2018. I feel so ahead of the times, lol.

They've arrived safely.
Let's begin ... I received an email from Proven Winners on Monday and responded. By Tuesday I was contacted that my roses were on their way. On Wednesday they arrived. I was SO excited when my husband called me at work to say, 'There's a BIG package on the porch for you!' I couldn't wait to get home and check it out. Thursday night I went to work; I needed to free up a little space in my garden beds first to make room for the newcomers.

Packed with special care.
Proven Winners always ships their products in sturdy cardboard boxes. The plants always have access to the air and they've never arrived squished or damaged. I'm always amazed with the thought and care they put in to their packaging. It makes ordering plants from the convenience of your kitchen or office so simple, especially when you feel confident that they will arrive safe and sound. It's super easy!

All this came in one box!

I opened up the box the night they arrived and left it in my garage. The next day when I was ready to plant I took everything out on my driveway to see exactly what I had ... 4 beautiful At Last Rose bushes (all in 1 gallon containers). I was SO excited! My neighbors must have thought I was little goofy as I stood there just looking at them from all angles and taking pictures (with a big smile on my face, of course, lol).

First I must say that my husband was probably as excited as I was to be adding these beautiful flowers to my garden. His mother passed away just last fall. He said the roses reminded him of his childhood when his mother had rose bushes planted by their front porch and the side of their house. My mother-in-law's middle name was Rose (which is why we gave our daughter the same middle name). I'm thinking these new At Last Roses will be a wonderful memorial tribute to her.

Getting settled in its new home.

Back to the planting. The biggest portion of the planting process for me was actually digging up some flowers to make room for the new ones. I found two perfect places right away and went to work. The third plant I am still deciding where I should plant it. The fourth I gave to one of my neighbors who loves flowers as much as I do. I figure whenever we are blessed with something we weren't expecting that it is only right to pay it forward and share the good fortune ... besides I may even get to look out my window and see the plant growing in her yard. It's a win-win for sure.

Such a BEAUTIFUL color!
These At Last Roses are the prettiest color I think I have ever seen. They look so fragile, yet are so strong. They combine fragrance and disease resistance. They will be easy to take care of: no spraying required and no need for fussy pruning. AND they will bloom for a LONG time, with flowers present from late spring though frost. They will grow 30-36 inches in height and spread 30-36 inches. Just plant them in average soil with sunlight. I'm thinking these are going to be a HUGE success in my garden.

Do you want to try them out as well, before they are available to everyone else next year? 

Proven Winners is letting me offer a GIVEAWAY! They will send four At Last Roses (one gallon size, just like mine) to one lucky winner. What do you have to do to win? It's easy. Just post a comment to this blog post telling me WHY you would like to win; to plant the flowers in your own garden, to share them with someone else, or whatever your reason is. Post your reply no later than midnight, Thursday, July 7th. I will choose one lucky winner and you'll receive your beautiful roses shortly thereafter ... in plenty of time to enjoy yet this summer. How easy is that? I can't wait to read all of your comments. Proven Winners asks that whoever the lucky winner is shares with them WHAT they did with the flowers. Maybe you have an interesting landscape idea or will plant the roses some place special. They ask that you share a photo using #atlastrose and tagging 'Proven Winners Direct' on Facebook. This will enter the winner for a chance to win more roses. Is that cool or what?

I hope you are as excited about these roses as I am. I can't wait to watch them grow and post some photos of their progress.

* I received this product from Proven Winners Direct.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Is Your Purpose?

Life is full of transitions. We grow up. We grow older. Hopefully in the midst of it all, we even grow a little wiser. We face challenges and battles; some expected and some not. I often wish I had a crystal ball that could clue me in on what I am supposed to be doing, when I should be doing it, and what the ultimate goal and outcome will be. It's mind-boggling when I think of the time and effort I put in to projects, never knowing if I am ultimately making a difference or even on the right path.
I know many people who have struggled after a divorce or the death of a loved one. They felt lost for a long time and tried to figure out what their new identity looked like now that they were 'one' instead of  'two'. I've seen some college graduates wander aimlessly after graduation, with their diploma in hand, trying to discern what they would do next and where they would go. Life is full of questions.
We look around. We assume we know what direction we are heading. We hope we know what our future holds. Sometimes, though, what we are meant to do finds us when we aren't looking for it. We're so busy focusing on the bigger picture that sometimes we don't see what is right in front of us.
We should ask ourselves WHY we think we want something. Is it our head or our heart leading us? Maybe we should be more open to the possibilities. Life is full of them. The right job, relationship, and project will come along. By nature, we are impatient. We want to know the WHO, the WHAT, the WHERE, the WHY, and the WHEN. We don't like to wait and we certainly don't like to guess what is coming next. How can we be expected to be ready or do our best if we are surprised?
So what do we do? We hold on to hope and faith. The hope is something that gives our mind reassurance. The faith is something that reassures our heart and soul. Ultimately God knows the plan and will clue us in on the details when the time is right. Knowing that we are never alone is reassurance of the biggest kind, that's where we'll find our drive and our strength to face the uncertainties.
How do you stay focused and on track with your goals and clarifying what your purpose is?