Friday, December 28, 2012

What was your special gift?

Today it is 3 days post-Christmas. I've eaten my share of the holiday food, baked some Christmas goodies, made a trip or two to the local malls for exchanges or after-Christmas sales, and am ready to say 'I need an afternoon at home with some down time.' Tonight we will visit with some extended family and this afternoon I will bake some homemade chocolate chip cookies, but for right now I am giving myself permission to take a short breather. It's nice to have the time off over the holidays but I guess I thought I'd have a bit more relaxation time. I've enjoyed having my kids at home and some family time in the evenings, but even we haven't found the time yet to play a game or two of Phase 10.

This afternoon I want to share some pictures with you of my 'favorite' gifts ... the ones I received from my family that meant the most. They didn't cost the most or come in the biggest box, but they're the best because because they were each chosen with 'me' in mind.


From my daughter I received a special pottery mug meant for relaxing cups of tea in front of the fireplace. She knows I do not like coffee and a hot cup of herbal tea is more my style. Ironically I got her one almost identical to it. Guess great minds think alike. She also knows that I enjoy baking, but my current cookie dough spoon has seen better days ... hence the 'new and improved' cookie dough scooper. I will definately test this one out this afternoon.


Next my son, ordered me a book by an author that we are both familiar with. The author also writes a blog that I follow. Now, don't get the wrong idea. I LOVE my day job! This book is more about remembering what your goals and dreams are and not putting them off til later. Unfortunately, 'LATER' sometimes has a way of never coming around. Hopefully reading this book (while drinking a nice cup of hot tea in my new mug) will remind me that it's o.k. to still have goals and dreams (especially when you're an employee, a mom, a wife, etc.).

And finally, my loving husband bought me a gift that will allow me to reboost my creative time. Since I was a little girl I've always loved to draw. Painting was never my strong suit. I love to draw, color, shade, etc. I love using pencil and color pencils the most. I don't anticipate showing my works in any galleries anytime soon, but I can hold my own. My kids still have brown paper lunch bags from school field trips that I adorned with their portraits on the front. You'd be surprised how hard it can be to find your lunch in the plastic bin when there are 25 other brown paper bags.

So, to my family I say 'thank you'. Thank you for remembering 'me' when you shopped this year.

Now I want to know what was one of the heartfelt gifts you received this Christmas and what made it special?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How do you feel about glitter?

Today I took a vacation day. My hopes were high for a peaceful relaxing day, unfortunately things haven't panned out exactly as I had planned. My goal was to wrap up a little Christmas shopping (no pun intended), then treat myself to a nice lunch, and follow it up with some quiet time at the library. How did I do? Well ... I 'attempted' to finish up shopping, but walked away not finding most of the things on my list. I went to one particular store to look for 2 very specific things (things that I had always purchased at this store), only to find out that they no longer carried the brands I was looking for. I was told they were 'fazing' out the brands to replace them with their house brand. Unfortunately their house brand wasn't anything like the brands they were eliminating, neither in style or quality. Bummer for me and bummer for them. My shopping experience wasn't a total loss, I did manage to pick up a couple of things that my husband can wrap for me and surprise me with on Christmas morning. Yes, that's right ... we tend to pick out our own gifts to help the other out. After 30 years of marriage we've learned that we have a hard time buying for the other. It's just less stressful this way. The ironic thing was that I was frustrated when shopping so I posted to my Facebook wall that I 'wanted a dislike button for stores that discontinue carrying products they used to carry'. Then when I was walking out of the store I ran into a friend who said 'Hey, were you talking about this store?' Lol, guess I was busted.

My lunch was a disappointment and I never did make it to the library. I am now sitting at the computer in our home office. I don't mean to sound like a whiner, guess I just put too high of hopes on my day and got stuck with a double dose of disappointment.

So you're probably wondering what any of this has to do with the title of this entry ... whether or not you like glitter. Actually I suppose it has nothing to do with it other than all of these events are little pieces of the Christmas season. With the topic of glitter I am referring to Christmas cards. I've sent mine out and have received a few this past week. My question for you is 'how do you feel about glitter?' Glitter certainly makes for some lifelike snow scenes on the cards, but have you ever noticed that once you've opened a card with glitter you can't get rid of the glitter? It is everywhere. It goes on your hands, your counter top, your clothes, and your floor. It seems to be made of some strong galactic compound that apparently only super heroes can conquer, because not even a super duper Hoover vacuum cleaner can pick it up. I love the artsy effects it gives the cards, but it does make me wonder what the floors look like in the factory where they make them. I don't think I'd want to be part of that cleaning crew.

So it's truth time ... are you FOR or AGAINST glitter?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Stop and Listen

It seems we are in full gear of the pending holiday season: Christmas lights are going up, holiday music is playing on the radio, stores are having sales, and signs are out advertising cookie walks and live nativities. There are lots of ways to celebrate the holidays. We cook, we bake, we shop, we entertain, we go to concerts and shows, and maybe we take time to walk down the streets in Rochester or Royal Oak. Most of us will be out amongst people at one point or another. When you're standing in line at the post office or sitting at a table in a coffee shop you need to 'stop and listen'. Listen to the sounds of the season. Listen past the music on the radio or the honking car horns on the street. Listen deeper and think about what you're hearing. You might hear the giggles of an anxious child as they stand in line at the mall to see Santa, you might hear someone who sounds distinctly like Scrooge yelling at the salesperson because they didn't like the price they paid for something, you might hear someone discussing their Christmas wish list, or you might hear people gossiping. The last one is the probably one of the saddest.

Today I made a run to Target then decided to grab a quick bite at a local fast food restaurant before pressing on to Kroger's for groceries. As I sat there eating my McDouble (please don't judge) I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of 3 high schoolers sitting at a nearby table. Teenagers have a knack for talking louder (not sure if that is intentional or not). The entire time I was there they were talking about other people. I never once heard them discuss themselves, only judging the other people they came across. 'Who does that girl think she is anyway? She's always in 'my' hallway. I mean seriously... she's not even in my class. Why is she even there?'

As the parent of a teenager I spend a good deal of time around kids, but the conclusion I've come up with is that people (of all ages) judge others. It's not age exclusive. Some may tell you they're above it, but if you really stop and listen you'll hear it. You'll hear it at your child's school, at your church, at a restaurant, at a booster or PTO meeting, at your job, at the mall, at the grocery store ... need I go on? I try to be aware of my own actions but catch myself being human as well - go figure.

Do you judge or criticize or critique your friends, your family, your co-workers, your neighbors, or more importantly strangers? Stop and listen to those around you. Hear what is really being said. Now stop and listen to yourself. Is everything you say free of gossip and judgement?

Christmas is the season of peace, love, joy and hope. Perhaps it's also a good season for reflection, for change, and for self-improvement. As the Christmas season draws nearer, let us all take the time to truly stop and listen. If given your choice ... what would you like to hear?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Are you a turkey lover?

I took a short break from writing this month, in case you've been looking for my posts (please tell me you have ... lol). The truth of the matter is there's just been a lot going on. Sure, there have been the usual parental duties (fortunately many of which are pleasures), my job, my family, cleaning out my perennial flower beds for the winter, and this past week my husband and I  started prepping for the Christmas holidays. I know what you're probably thinking, that I'm one of those people who rush through their holidays. Actually that couldn't be further from the truth. I actually try to savor every part of the process. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Lots of people are either on the road today traveling to visit family and friends for a few days or they're home chopping and dicing and prepping for tomorrow's festivities. Whichever end of the scale you're on, remember to take time to breath along the way.

Thanksgiving is about alot of things; different things to different people. The first thing to take time for is being thankful. What are you thankful for this year? I'm thankful my son is driving home tonight and we'll have 4 glorious days together as a complete family. I'm thankful for my wonderful husband and my beautiful daughter. I'm thankful to have a roof over my head and food on the table. I'm thankful for my extended family, my church, and my church family. I'm thankful I get to get up every morning and have a purpose for my life. Tomorrow my family will join with my husband's family for dinner. We'll eat (probably too much). My husband will get the honor of taste testing his sister's stuffing before anyone else. I'll sneak the first taste of the turkey while my brother-in-law pretends not to notice. My daughter and I will play our annual game of chess (while my nephew's dog, Max, watches our every move). We'll all yell at the TV set watching football and then after dinner we'll all lounge around watching 'Pumpkin Chuckers' (a truly unique experience).

Some of the younger ones (actually the niece & nephew are in their mid 20's now) will scour the Black Friday advertisements and strategically plan their hunt. Although I hope my niece takes the year off since she's expecting her first child soon. We don't want her or the little one getting trampled on over the 'big deal' of the day.

Be thankful for the big and small things in your life: your health, your faith, your family, your financial stability, your morals and values, that your kids can make you laugh, because you fit into jeans last month that were a size smaller, and for your talents. Be thankful for who you are and what you've been blessed with.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Life Is An Adventure

Life is an adventure, full of surprises, and its share of ups and downs. No one ever said that life would be easy and unfortunately life has never come with a handbook. There are certainly times when I wish it did.

I remember being pregnant with my first child. People meant well and were full of insights and advice, but if I'd listened to everything everyone told me I guarantee I would have never made it to the hospital on time and my son would have been born in the car racing to get there. People told me not to panic that my baby would be quiet for a few days before birth, that he was just 'saving up his energy' to be born ... not in my case. My son kicked for a solid week and then through the whole delivery. I guess he was anxious and ready. People told me that when he came home he would need to be fed every four hours. I worried when he didn't want to drink at 2am ... he just wanted to sleep, then a nurse told me 'Are you crazy? Never wake a sleeping baby.' When you're young and it's your first child you try to listen to EVERYONE, but sometimes that just drives you crazy. Eventually you learn to trust your own instincts. One thing I can tell you is that you will have way more confidence the 2nd time around. Luckily my firstborn survived. lol

Six years ago I went through cancer treatments. That was definitely a period in my life when I was scared and uncertain. I had so many questions and wanted answers and insights. I was fortunate to have a great support system. Not everyone could give me the insights I needed, but most were there to make me laugh, be supportive, and make the occasional meal for my family. I did meet two ladies though (both cancer survivors) who were able to share those special insights about symptoms, medication reactions, roller coaster emotions, nutrition, self doubt ... you name it. I don't know what I would have done with Angel Laura or Lori. There were both a real God send.

I like to think that God will never throw more at me than He knows I can handle. I still have doubts often, but I know He is strong and will watch over me and protect me.

If you're experiencing one of life's ups or more importantly one of the downs, remember that you are never alone. Don't try to carry all of the burden yourself. No one's shoulders are meant to carry that much. The load will always be lighter and easier to bear when you share it. I know many of us have a difficult time accepting help. We all want to think that we're stronger than that, that we can do it all on our own. I also know it can be extremely humbling to ask for help or even for someone to just listen. But God never intended for us to be a 'solo act'. Think of all the times you've been there for someone else. Now be willing to let them return the favor.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Amazing How Words Tie Together

I can't believe that the month of October is nearly over. It seems to be flying right by, at least for me. I was thinking about this blog yesterday and realized it had been 3 weeks since my last entry. I think the longest I had ever gone was 2 weeks. Trust me when I say it certainly isn't because I have nothing on my mind or nothing to say. Guess I just need to fall back on the old standby excuse that I was busy, but then who isn't?

Lately I've been caught up in busy schedules, mile long TO DO lists (all of my own making I'm sure), some physical therapy, the Tigers going to the World Series, and the election debates.

So what's on my mind today you ask (I'm sure you're just dying to know ...lol)? Let's see ... I've written blog entrys before about the value of a single word, how much impact they can have, how they can support people and at the same time tear people down. I've talked about how we need to be responsible with our words and learn to use them wisely. Today I want to write about how cool it is that words are often connected in ways we don't even realize. The other night I was helping my daughter memorize lines from Hamlet for her AP English class. Of course I really couldn't come up with a good reason for her when she asked me WHY she had to memorize 10 lines and recite them in front of her class. Reciting lines has never been one of her favorite things to do. The observation I came up with was how 'connecting' words could help her with her task. In Hamlet's case the ending words of a sentence often rhymed, making it easier to connect and lead into the next sentence.

Last night I heard a commercial where they used words to connect thoughts ... not rhyming words this time, but in a different way. Here is an example:

Words can create peacemaking ... it'll give you peace of mind.
Remember to mind your manners ... it's all in a manner of speaking.
Speaking of work ... you look very hard at work ...
because you work for living.
Just be sure that you're not living on the edge ...
unless you're on the edge of your seat.


I could go on, it's kind of like one of those brain games that's supposed to stimulate your mind. What do you think? Can you create an example like the one above? See of you can tell us something about you in just a few quick fun sentences.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's Been An Interesting Couple Of Days

It's been an interesting couple of days. Last weekend was my daughter's homecoming football game and dance. The team won their game, the marching band sounded awesome, and the kids looked great and had a wonderful time dressing up for their dance Saturday night. What did amaze me though was all the drama that was involved. I guess I don't remember it being that way when I was in high school, probably because we wore our 'good' jeans and the dance was in the school gym following the football game. Sure isn't that way anymore. I saw a funny Facebook post written by one of the neighbor girls down the street. She and her sister had already graduated, but their younger brother was going to the dance. Don't quote me but her post said something to the effect that ...

When girls get ready for the homecoming dance there are hair and nail appointments involved, a new dress, shoes, and accessories, the importance of the right date, and which 'group' you're seen with eating dinner. When boys get ready for the dance (assuming she was referring to her brother) it's about getting his suit dry cleaned, buying a shirt and tie to match her dress, taking a shower, and making sure his socks matched. I would say that the preparation & stress levels are slightly off kilter, don't you agree? I am the mother of both a boy and a girl and I can say that I agree with a lot of what the girls observed. Maybe somethings don't change, although I'll admit that we skipped the salon and my daughter allowed me to do her hair and nails.

Well, the homecoming weekend is over and life does goes on. The dress is neatly hung up in the closet, the corsage is still sitting prominently on my kitchen counter, and the photos continue to pop up on Facebook. It's a wonderful time in the life of a teenager, but yes things will continue to move forward. For me this week has been about a funeral for a friend's mother, my job, about attending a band booster meeting tonight and hoping to 'Win the Band', and a couple of marching band rehearsals and a symphony rehearsal for my daughter.

Oh and then something unexpected happened ... yesterday I won a couple of tickets to a breast cancer awareness and support luncheon for this weekend. Definitely never a dull moment. Something for me ... nice.

So, what's your week look like? Anything interesting coming up we should know about? Maybe we could meet for a cup of tea and see what's new with you.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The 80/20 Rule ... Which Side Are You On?



Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It's pretty common and can apply to just about any scenario that involves people and getting work done. The 80/20 rule refers to 20% of the people doing 80% of the work. I've seen it action ... from volunteers at school, volunteers at church, and homeowners in my subdivision association (although there it might be more like 90/10).
So which percentage do you find yourself in? The bigger question would be 'why?'. Are you part of the 20% who are active and involved or are you in the 80% that sit by quietly waiting for someone else to pick up the slack? If you're in the 20% do you pitch in and participate because you enjoy what you're doing or do you do what you do because you're worried that no one else will do the task and then it won't get done OR if it does get done it won't be to your liking? The important thing to remember is that whatever you do you should be doing it not because you feel pressured or coerced or guilty, but because you enjoy the task and truly want to make a difference.
If you find yourself in the 80% then there must be a reason why. Surely there are seasons in every one's life when they have more time or more energy or more interest. Perhaps you were voted the #1 volunteer of the year when your kids were younger and in school. If that's the case then you've probably earned the right to take a break. BUT if you still enjoy volunteering, find another avenue that interests you now. Volunteer at your church answering the phones, read to someone at the local hospital, spend time with your grand kids, or rake the leaves for the older man that lives next door and can't bend down to do it because he uses a walker now. There are numerous ways to get involved and make a difference. However, if you're in good health and have spare time on your hands AND you're just sitting home looking for something to do then maybe it's time that you switched sides on the percentage ratio. Take a leap of faith and go out on that proverbial limb. Try getting involved. Everyone will benefit. If you're thinking that you're not needed because it APPEARS that all of the tasks are getting done fine without you ... then THINK AGAIN. There is always room for you and always a need for you.
My best advice though would be 'never volunteer someone else'. I had a funny thing happen this week while attending the high school band booster meeting. The friend I was sitting with asked a question about a fundraising possibility. During the discussion someone on the board suggested that perhaps since she was interested she could look into it for them. Immediately she told the recording secretary 'but I don't want to lead it.' The secretary asked for her name for the sake of the meeting minutes to which my friend (without missing a beat, I might add) assertively gave them my name. Obviously some people there knew me and some didn't, but we all got a good laugh because of her wittiness and her timing. Don't worry though, I immediately corrected the situation and spelled out Laura's name for them.
Just some things to think about before you make your next decision about whether or not to volunteer and get involved.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What keeps you motivated?

If you're anything like me, you've probably set a goal or two for yourself  over the years. My history of completing goals would look like a roller coaster at best. Sometimes I'm up and sometimes I crash and burn. If intentions counted for anything mine always start out good. I set my goal, devise my plan of attack, and go after it with all I've got (well, at least for the first few weeks). I'm one of those people who wants to see results; not necessarily instantly, but if I can see that things are at least headed in the right direction and making a difference I'm definitely more apt to keep making the effort. It's when I work really hard at something and I see little or no results that I get frustrated. But then who wouldn't, right? I mean we are only human.

I'll be honest, this past year or so I've been struggling with gaining weight. My doctor says, 'You're not that bad, really. Just eat right and start exercising.' Wow ... and they needed a college degree to be able to tell me that? Could I eat more fruits and vegetables? Absolutely. Could I exercise more than I do? You bet. But at the same time, I feel like I'm rarely ever sitting down - except for the 9 hours a day that I'm at my desk at work (which could easily be contributing to my problem). Two years ago I trained for a 60 mile 3Day walk for breast cancer. I walked more than 540 miles during my 9 months of training. Did I lose even ONE pound during that 9 months? Nope, not a one. I'll admit that my calves were toner than they'd been in a long time and my tan was pretty good, but my weight did not change at all. Then last year I broke my ankle which limited my exercise and walking for a few months. I know what you're thinking ... excuses ... excuses ... AND you're probably right.

I've tried to make some subtle lifestyle changes ... better sleep ... more H20 ... less caffeine ... always parking further out in the parking lot. BUT I know I need to do better.

Any ideas? I know I need to make myself accountable and it would certainly be easier if I had an exercise buddy or someone who was checking up on me. What keeps you motivated when you're trying to improve on something? It could be weight loss, quitting smoking, having a more positive attitude, or accomplishing something you've always wanted to do. I'd love to hear about what works for you.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back To School ...

Tomorrow is Labor Day which for a lot of people means they have a 3-day weekend. Tomorrow there will be time spent with friends and family, perhaps a BBQ, or maybe even a baseball game. In my case it'll be a local parade. Over the years my kids have marched in several of the local community parades. My son marched in a Sterling Heights parade when he was young with his softball team (they were the city champs that year in their age division). All through high school he marched with his marching band at the Romeo Peach Festival Parade. Now for the last two years it's been my daughter's turn with her marching band. I love to hear the bands play and I laugh when I watch all of the little kids scramble at the curb for the candy that the clowns throw. Labor Day for many is a day for rest and reflection and appreciation. Many veterans will march at the parades and it's a wonderful sight to see people cheer and honor them for all they have given.

Labor Day also says that the summer season is drawing to an end. Yes, we will still have warmer temperatures for a few weeks, but many of us will be so busy we won't even notice. The day AFTER Labor Day (at least for those of us in Michigan) marks the first day of the new school year. The school supplies may already be bought, the football games have already begun, and many of the high school girls are already talking about their homecoming dances.

This year is unique for me. My oldest just got a new job teaching high school chemistry and my youngest is a high school senior. I guess times do change, whether we're ready for them or not. This year will be full of excitement for everyone. Whether you have kids of your own, nieces or nephews, grandchildren, or even have a soft spot for the boy down the street who shoots hoops in his driveway every night til it's dark ... be there for them. Being young and being in school is a special time for every child (no matter their age). Help them to make the most of it. Encourage them. Show them your support. Drive them to a dance class or soccer game. Shout their name from the stands when they score a touchdown or do a cheer. Let them know that this is their time to have fun, experience life, and learn, but it's also important to teach them to be good people.  Kids today face a lot of peer pressure and bullying. Too many times kids feel alone and that they have no one they can talk to. Don't let that be the case. Be a mentor or a coach or just a friend. With everyone doing their part I think we can be ready for another great school year. What do you say? Can I count on you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Past...Present...Future

'Past' ... 'Present' ... 'Future' ... which one do you prefer to live in? That's a tough one I know. Some would say that it depends what season your life is in, while others might venture to say it only matters which day of the week it is.

Sometimes it can be difficult to let go of hurts from the past making it hard to move forward. There's also those who refuse to grow up and want to re-live their past (usually through their kids ... just think of TV reality shows like 'Toddlers & Tiaras' or 'Dance Moms' ... enough said). How we remember the past can affect what we choose to hold on to and what we choose to let go of.

There's the present; living each day for the unique beauty that it presents. That could be a baby's laugh, a double rainbow, or getting on the scale and realizing that you finally lost 5 pounds. Enjoy all the little things that are uniquely 'today'.

Then there's the future. The future is the ultimate unknown. It holds uncertainties, lots and lots of questions, hope, and often stress. The point is you can't control the future ... only your present.

Try to live today as if it were your last. There's an old saying 'Don't put off til tomorrow what you can take care of today'. Could that be any more accurate? I kind of think it says it all. Live today with all the hope, strength, ambition, and focus you can muster and it'll get you where you need to be tomorrow.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How do you handle temptation?

Question of the day ... can you resist temptation?

This is when we answer honestly ... even anonymously, if necessary.

Lately I've been watching the Olympics (like a lot of other people I imagine), but have had to deal with the time zone difference. I am working on a computer at work most of the day and various 'Spoiler Alerts' will flash at the top of the Yahoo page. So ... have you been able to resist clicking on the convenient link to see who gets the Gold OR have you shown your supernatural will power and waited til you've been able to watch the event later on in the day? I'll be honest and admit the first few days I didn't know about the spoiler alerts and waited, but once I became aware of them my will power slowly began to dwindle. A few times now I've realized that my evening schedule was possibly going to prohibit me from watching my favorite events, so I decided to just grasp the spoiler alert and wait for the recaps. Not quite as much fun, but definitely better than not knowing, right?


So, Olympics are one level of temptation, then there's french fries, DQ and the secret snack size candy hidden in the volunteer desk drawer. Uh-oh, now the secret is out. Oops! How do we  handle these temptations? Obviously these are some of my weaknesses - yours may be different. To be totally honest I've only had DQ a few times this summer and when I have I've tried to show great restraint and order the 'MINI' blizzard (seriously it's like the size of a bathroom Dixie cup). How much more restraint can a person be expected to endure? French fries ... I generally never order my own, I share with someone ... that's resisting temptation, right? OK, maybe we shouldn't talk about the secret candy in the drawer - I've got nothing to say on that one that won't incriminate me. Guess I'm human after all.

Just curious about what temptations make you stress a bit? How do you handle them? If you're stronger and more disciplined than me - that's awesome for you, but please share some of your secrets and techniques with me. I could use some help. While I may sound like everything is casual and whimsy, society clearly says otherwise. I'm fortunate not to have any big temptations in my life and I'm blessed not to have any addictions (alcohol, smoking, or gambling). If you find you're facing those kinds of temptations, please seek out some help. Find someone to talk to. Don't feel like you have to be superhuman and handle everything life throws at you by yourself. You're never alone.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Are you part of a stereotype?

Today's question is 'Do you steroeotype people and situations?'

An interesting thing happened at work today. We had ordered a bench to be placed outside the front entrance. Timing was impeccable as the freight truck showed up '5-10 days' early at precisely noon ... the same exact time that 85+ children (ages  preschool - 4th grade) were being picked up following an action-packed morning of vacation bible school. Yes ... it apparently is all about the timing.

The freight truck driver was pleasant and agreed to wait 10 minutes til the children and traffic eased out of the church parking lot. Then he placed the 270 lb. load on the designated sidewalk for us. My co-worker and I (as a disclaimer I will mention that BOTH of us are stubborn women, although I'm pretty sure only one of us is Irish ... me). We checked out the materials for damage, counted the bolts, reviewed the situation and proceeded to assemble the 6 ft. bench ourselves. We had a bad ratchet, but still got the project done without any scraped knuckles. The funny thing was that several people suggested we call around and get 'some of the strong guys from the church' to put it together for us. Obviously they didn't know us very well, because we were already outside assembling the bench. I wouldn't really call either of us 'women's libbers', but neither of us has the time nor the patience to wait around to call someone else in to do the job  ... 'male' or 'female'. We've both been known to pull shrubs, lay mulch, paint offices, reorganize storage closets ... whatever needs done.

So back to the original question ... 'Do you stereotype people and situations?' (even if unknowingly) Have you ever found yourself to be stereotyped? And if so, how did that make you feel?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hey, It's OK ...

It's been nearly 2 weeks since my last blog entry, guess my only excuse is that life has kept me busy. There was a new roof installed at our house, haircut appointments, piano lessons, marching band sectionals, back to work after a week long 'staycation', etc. Like I said, last week was a busy one, but that doesn't mean my mind wasn't always in its ever-observant mode ... always looking for new and fun things to write about.

Well here is what I came up with. We all know that I'm the master at making lists. Usually they are TO DO lists, and 'yes' I made those too (daily, sorry to say) - BUT this past week I gave myself an assignment to make a list of things that I think  are 'OK'  and 'NOT OK'.

Here it goes ...

Hey, it's OK ...

... to turn your cell phone off while at the dinner table OR when you have company over trying to engage in conversation.

... to sing in your car at the top of your lungs, even if you're off key.

... to cry during sentimental commercials (like when a military mom or dad surprises their child at a school assembly).

... to feel a 'little bit' flattered when someone toots their car horn at you. (It's only slightly embarrassing to look over your shoulder to see if there was someone else standing behind you.)

... to take a lap around the office to see whether people notice your haircut.

... to admit that you actually like the frilly bridesmaid dress. It can happen!

BUT, it's NOT OK ...

... to bring a plastic bag with you when you walk your dog through the neighborhood if you have NO real intention of ever actually USING the bag.

... to talk extremely loud in public places like the library, the bank, or the movie theatre. We REALLY don't want to know all of your personal business.

... to toss your butts or dump your leftover coffee out of your car window - the world is NOT your personal trash can (and NO there is not a maid in the car behind you just waiting to clean up after you).

... to take your opponent out during a game of 'flag' football.

... to flirt your way out of a traffic ticket if you're married (this one applies to both men and women).

... to use more than one parking spot for your car when yours is the same size as everyone else's.

... to be the girl who gets way too competitive about catching the bouquet. After all, it's a wedding, not The Hunger Games. This also applies to the overeager guys going after the garter belt.

These are just a few of the items that made my list. I'd love to hear some of your observations. What do YOU think it's OK and NOT OK to do?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What do you do when 'relaxing' becomes just another item on your TO DO list?

Today is one of those days. A day when I don't have to go to work, yet a day when I don't really have anything planned. This week has been a 'staycation' for me. Sure, it'd be great to have some amazing vacation destination to go to, but at the same time it's been nice to have a bit more flexibility in my days. I've taken early morning walks this week, ridden my bicycle with my daughter, worked in my flower garden a few times, been to the library twice, attended one college visit and have watched TV (Hallmark movies to be precise) a bit more than I usually do. I've also had erratic meals (some good, some not so good), which was clearly reflected on my scale this morning. As a disclaimer, I will say that yesterday was a holiday and while I did take a 2 mile walk in the morning before the heat got too bad I did end my night sitting on a blanket on my driveway and ate 2 toasted marshmallows while watching the neighborhood fireworks light show. I guess I will give myself a bit of grace then. After all I can certainly remedy the scale situation during the balance of my week.

I am so used to filling EVERY minute of my day with work, errands and schedules that when a day or even a week comes along that breaks up the routine I feel a bit lost and confused. The first couple of days I can sit on the patio and read and tell myself I deserve it because 'I'm on vacation'. Then the novelty wears off and the guilt sets in. Not really sure how to avoid it. I'll do a few quick projects so that I can justify to myself that I 'deserve' to relax. Wow! Do I REALLY sound that pathetic? How do you cope with staycations or even the occasional day off? Is there some sort of secret that I'm not aware of? What do you do when 'relaxing' becomes one of the things you pencil in on your To Do list? AND ... it's all the way down the list as #6 or 7?

Monday, July 2, 2012

'BUT ...'

'But' is nothing more than a 3-letter word in the English language, right? Wrong! True, it is indeed a 3-letter word, but it can take on a life of its own. It can have so much power for 3 simple letters. The word 'but' usually leads you into something else ... whenever a thought or sentence has more to say there's usally a 'but'. Like when you're 8 years old and trying to defend your actions to your parents 'BUT I didn't know we'd get burned if we touched the car lighter with our fingertip.' When you hear 5th graders talking behind someone's back on the playground and their response is justified with 'BUT I didn't think Joey could hear me.' Clearly, the actions were wrong, yet somehow someone thought they were justifiable because they added a 'BUT'.

Not too long ago I found myself in the midst of a very awkward conversation. What do you do when you're spending time with someone (and you're committed to hanging around for a while) and you suddenly find yourself feeling very anxious, getting very quiet and taking a step back to hear what is really being said? In the course of less than 10 minutes I felt as if this person justified their selfishness and lack of morals by using the word 'BUT' more times than I could even count. For example, 'I'm not poking fun at so-n-so, BUT did you see what they were wearing?' 'I'm not biased and don't really care what other people do, BUT I can't imagine ever doing anything that terrible.' 'I'm not saying that they're not smart, BUT I can't imagine that they'll get that job.'

Since when does a person become so smart and so superior that they can tear others down whenever they choose, simply by adding a disclaimer? I think it'd be wiser if people broke their sentences down in their heads first before they opened their mouths. The word 'BUT' is similar to the word 'AND' in that sense. Break the sentence down and see if the first part (before you add the 'BUT') or the second part can stand on their own. Can they? And do either parts convey the message that you really wanted to express when they stand alone?

There is a certain scripture (and I believe a commandment) that says 'love your neighbor as yourself'. It talks about treating others the way that you would want to be treated. Would your child (or you for that fact) feel hurt or betrayed if you walked in and heard people talking about you (unfavorably) behind your back? Would you just blow it off when they said, 'Oops, but I didn't know you were there'? Would that somehow make their lack of judgement acceptable? I know it wouldn't for me.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Do you throw the fish back?

I read a story the other day that I found intriguing ... about two guys who would go fishing together. Whenever one of the men would catch a 'larger' fish he would look at it closely and then throw it back into the lake. After doing this several times the other man finally asked him, 'Why do you do that?' The first man replied, 'Well, I only have a very small frying pan in which to cook them.'

This is a great story ... not just for its simplicity, but also for its comparison value.

Do you limit yourself by your present situation or do you allow yourself to dream and to imagine the life that you desire to live? Think of it this way: Five years from now, if there were no obstacles in your path, what big dream or journey would you be actively pursuing? If your potential were unlimited, what would you be doing with your life? Would you be going back to school to finish a degree? Would you be retired and coaching your grandson's Little League team? Would you be traveling the world and seeing some of the things you always wanted to see? Would you be writing a book or perhaps starting a business of your own?

I remember when my husband and I were much younger we would try to plan our future and determine that when we had a certain amount of money saved and in the bank, we would start our family. Little things like 'life' pop up and often altar your plans. We finally put our faith in God and decided after a few years that we would go ahead and start our family, and guess what happened? We didn't have absolutely everything in place, but everything worked out anyway.

My question to you today is what dream or personal journey are you postponing for 'someday'? Exactly what is standing in your way? If you're waiting for the stars to all be perfectly aligned, you may be waiting for a very long time. I know I certainly find myself in this category too. I'm sure many of us, if we're completely honest, put things off. The bigger question would be are we putting things off for justifiable reasons or are we just scared and afraid of perhaps failing? There's an old saying that says 'you can't fail at something if you never tried to begin with.' Maybe we should go ahead, be brave, support each other, not be afraid of failing, and JUST GO FOR IT. What do you think? What's your dream?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Do You Quote Lines From Movies?

How often do you flip the channels on the TV remote and stop on a movie and say to yourself, 'Oh, I'll watch this. I know every line and I know how it ends.'? That happened to me the other night. We were visiting my mother-in-law. She was watching a Hallmark movie and quickly said, 'You can change the channel if you want to. I've seen this movie so many times I have all the best lines memorized.' I had as well, but we watched it anyway and laughed at each other as we quoted aloud all the lines before the actors had a chance to say them. If we had turned the volume down it would have reminded someone of a bad Godzilla movie where the mouths moved but there was a 2 second delay for the words to be heard.

It had me thinking about great lines from movies. I certainly don't want to be known as a biased blogger so I'll share some of my favorite lines from gender-neutral movies.
  • 'Taking it to the mattresses.' Although some would argue that it came from The Godfather, I only know it from Tom Hanks using it in an email to Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. I'll admit I've never seen The Godfather movie. I prefer my horses to be galloping in a green sunny pasture rather than in a bed. Yuck!
  • 'Who would have thought ... my nanny, your butler.' One of many classic lines from the remake of the Parent Trap (back when Lindsay Lohan was an innocent preteen.)
  • 'In case I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight.' I needed a Kleenex handy when Julia Roberts stood in her red evening gown and told Richard Gere that in the elevator. I think even he was stunned. Pretty Woman is definitely a classic chick flick.
  • If we really want to talk chick flicks, there's always Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing telling Jennifer Gray's father, 'Nobody puts Baby in a corner.'
And of course who could forget ...
  • In Remember the Titans there was a scene when Julius walked solemnly into Gerry Bertier's hospital room. The nurse said, 'I'm sorry, only family can visit. He needs his rest.' To which Gerry replied, 'Alice can't you see the family resemblance? This is my brother.' I absolutely LOVED this movie.
So my question to you ... what are some of YOUR favorite movie lines? And if you can be really honest ... how many times have you seen the movie?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

To 'Garage Sale' or Not? That is the Question.

This past weekend I participated in the 'annual' neighborhood garage sale. I say 'annual' loosely only because our homeowner association rules indicate that we are allowed to have 'one' garage sale per year, which is why they organize it to get the most exposure possible. However on any given day I can still drive down my street and observe a garage sale taking place. Guess they didn't thoroughly read that part of their By Laws. Garage sales, though, are like outdoor graduation parties ... you plan for them despite having no guarantees on the weather. Our sale was advertised for Friday and Saturday. Friday's weather was damp, on the cold side, and rainy. Not a good day for a garage sale. Saturday was a bit better ... bluer skies, a tad warmer, but extremely windy. Overall, it was a lot of work without much reward, but that's the gamble you take.

Like anything else in life you have to look for the good within the not so good. The weather wasn't great, my sales weren't amazing, and the overall turnout wasn't anything to write home about. So what's the 'good' in this weekend's garage sale experience? Well, I finished my library book BEFORE it was due, I read through my week's newspapers and advertisements BEFORE Tuesday's recycling/trash pickup, I got a ton of exercise lifting things up and putting them down (kind of like Planet Fitness), I did some effective spring cleaning, I made a few bucks, and I got to have fun with some serious people watching. The last part can be very entertaining. Don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against anyone who has a garage sale or anyone who goes to one, but I was rewarded with a few chuckles. There was the lady who brought her own scanner to check the UPC codes on my paperback books. I was intrigued. She explained that she resells items on Amazon and by scanning the codes she can determine what the current values are and whether or not it's worth her purchasing it. I guess my 25cent charge for the paperback version of the Horse Whisperer was too high because she left without it (lol). Then there was the chatty lady who was in a great mood but somehow felt it necessary to share with me that she'd just eaten a '7-layer bean burrito' at Taco Bell and as she said 'It was worth every calorie'. OK, so tell me exactly WHY did I need to know that?

Well, my garage is almost back to normal and I have some donations ready to be dropped off this week. All in all I'm glad to be done with the sale. I hadn't done one in 3 years and most likely it'll be another 3 years til I do one again. Maybe by then I will have stocked up on the apparent premium garage sale items ... WWII items, tools, Barbies (in the original boxes, of course), hunting and fishing stuff, and kids' clothes. Well, maybe not. None of those items seem to be in my supply anymore. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It Takes A Village

Do you recall the saying 'It Takes A Village'? I may be remembering it wrong or this could just be my interpretation, but I seem to recall it being about community. Last night I attended my daughter's high school music program's end of the year banquet. We had a great time. We had a good dinner, the serving staff was attentive, the jazz band played some great music, and we were able to spend an evening with friends we've had for a while, friends we hadn't seen for a while, and make some new friends as well. It was definitely a win-win kind of night.

There always seems to be more bad than good relayed to us on the news these days ... bullying, thefts, shootings, threats - you name it. But sitting through an evening like last night restores my hope in future generations. My situation was the music banquet; but it could just as easily have been a football or soccer banquet, a senior honors night, or an end of the year celebration for the drama club, dance team, or Science Olympiad. Every group has its booster club supporters, its grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and friends that come out and cheer at their events, games, and concerts. Letting today's youth know that we care and that we support their skills and their efforts can and will make all the difference in laying the foundation for their future.

Last night at the banquet I sat and listened to underclassmen pay tribute to the outgoing seniors. I heard about their talents, their drive, their ambitions, and their quirky and embarrassing moments. I also heard words of inspiration - from students who looked up to their mentors and from adults who support the program.

One woman (who offers a memorial scholarship each year) talked about the importance of living for today and about the responsibility the youth have to embrace their talents and gifts, but also remembering to pay it forward. As a parent I support my daughter, but it's my daughter's responsibility to support the generation that follows her. No one can do it alone. It takes family, teachers, neighbors, friends, AND a community. It takes a village.

Whether you currently have young children, your children are already grown, you have nieces or nephews or grandchildren, or there's a teenager down the street from you that actually remembers to wave hello when you drive by - show your support. That child might not have any support in their life. YOU could be that person. Just something to keep in mind.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

With Spring Comes Motivation ... Hopefully!

Nothing gives me a motivational burst more than a blue sky, warm sunshine, a mid 50ish degree morning, and a cool breeze. Today it's not quite that warm yet, but yesterday morning was perfect, at least in my opinion. I went to work early with my garden gloves and shovel in my car. I was determined to transplant some of the hearty Iris' that were growing in abundance in the back of the parking lot. I was convinced they needed a new home, a place where they could thrive in the sunshine, have space to grow, and be admired every time someone walked into the church. Isn't it great when you can make all of these life-changing decisions on behalf of a plant? lol. Fortunately my co-worker agreed with me. We instantly went into action mode ... dug up and separated stalks of plants, found other areas that we felt were more deserving, dug holes, and transplanted them. Of course then we decided that they would have a much better chance with their relocation if we put fresh mulch down around them. Lucky for us there was still a big pile of it in the parking lot leftover from the weekend's spring clean up day. To finish off the day, it rained in the afternoon ... a good steady rain that lasted long enough to give the flower beds a good soaking. Isn't it amazing how God made sure they would have just what they needed to get settled in their new home?

What things give you that little burst of motivation that you need? Is it a hobby, a walk around the block, a trip to the library (that's one of my favorites), or a cup of tea with a friend?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How far ahead do you plan?

I was having a phone conversation recently that got me to thinking, which isn't a stretch for me. I often tend to think 'too long' and 'too hard' and generally about 'too much'. I guess you could say I'm a 'thinker' and a 'planner'.

I've spent most of my life thinking ... about little things like what will I wear to work today (since I heard 3 different weather reports on 3 different stations this morning), what should I fix for dinner tonight, and what color flowers should I plant in my garden next month. There are the more serious issues ... will my daughter find the right college to go to in a year and will my son get a new teaching job now that he's graduating. Then there are the really serious topics ... will the economy improve, what will gas prices look like later this year, and will my family continue to be healthy.

There are so many things that need to be considered in life on a daily basis ... your responsibilities as a parent, perhaps as a spouse, and even as an employee (if you're lucky enough to be working). I guess my question to you is 'Do you live in the present OR are you always planning for the future?' The ironic part is that none of us possess the control that we think we have. Life is full of obstacles - things can get thrown into our path at any given moment. Do we let the obstacles obstruct our way OR do we attempt to leap right over them (sometimes succeeding and other times not)?

The reality of being consumed with planning ahead is that it is too easy to forget to live in the present. Most of my adult life I've had the urge to write ... everything from journals to business letters to resumes to blogs. I've always dreamt about writing something 'bigger'. There never seems to be the right creative location where I can close everything else out or the time that I can devote to myself. Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking for a pity party. I think we all go through this at one time or another. There are things that I'm doing right now that don't leave me time for doing other things, BUT 'I' choose to do the things that I am doing (working, band boosters, volunteering, etc.).

If you choose to put off doing something for now, then you owe it to yourself to make yourself a promise to one day make the time for you. It's a gift only you can give yourself. No one will ever hand it to you on a silver platter.

Today's question: Do you make time for yourself and what do you do with the time (a hobby, volunteering, work)? The next question is probably the harder one ... how long did you make yourself wait and what finally changed to make it happen?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New and Improved?

Ever notice how as soon as you get used to a service or a product, the company changes it? Here's an example .. remember when Facebook changed to their 'timeline' format? Some people I know loved it and many others did not. I suppose the biggest reason for many was because they weren't given a choice ... we were told that we had until a certain date to change our formats over on our own or on a given date it would be changed for us. I chose to change mine over, so I'm not actually sure if that threat ever happened or not.

It seems the concept of always changing things and claiming that the changes are 'new and improved' aren't always accurate. Change CAN be a good and productive thing ... some times, but when things change just for the reason of making a change is that always a good thing? I don't think so. I used to love my white leather Keds sneakers because they fit just right, I could wipe them off when they got dirty, AND I knew exactly what to expect. Then they 'tweaked' them. Why? There wasn't anything wrong with them. So why change them?

Another example ... I've used cleaning products before that I relied on. Then the company 'tweaked' them, changed the formula and the packaging, and called them 'new and improved'. Why? I don't know, but I do know that I don't like the products any more and won't use them now. Personally I think that every year or so many companies change their products (or 'tweak' them, since that seems to be my word of the day) only to keep their advertising and marketing departments busy. Sort of a 'job security' approach, I suppose.

All I know is that summer is almost here and I'm still searching for a new pair of sneakers that fit like my old Keds!

What do you think? What has changed in your life recently? Was it a good change or an unwelcome one?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do you wear blinders?

I've been doing a lot of people watching & listening lately. I read Facebook postings to see what is new with the people I know, I listen to conversations to hear who could use my support and prayers, and I observe people's reactions and behaviors to see what their priorities are. I've become more aware recently that a lot of people seem to wear blinders (metaphorically speaking). While many people are fully aware of their surroundings, a lot of people seem to look past (intentionally or not I wouldn't begin to assume) what and who is around them.

My church recently held a volunteer food packing event. My daughter took a donation bag to school to see if anyone would want to donate to the cause. The students in one of her classes were watching a documentary about a past tsunami and how it devastated the area and the survivors. She took the opportunity to ask her teacher if she could speak to the class about the upcoming food packing event, to which he said 'yes'. She explained the concept of packing the food and how it could get shipped to areas of disaster where it was needed most. While some students donated their leftover change from lunch, a few students were dumbfounded and responded with replies like 'isn't that like volunteering?' and 'you mean you actually give up time to volunteer?' as if to say 'what's in it for you?' My daughter had a mix of emotions ... thankfulness to those that had donated, anger to those that mocked her efforts, sadness to those who were oblivious, and disappointment for those that didn't seem to care one way or the other.

Last week I was speaking with some adults at a school function. We were discussing the differences and options between fundraising for groups and the possibility of just charging larger amounts to the parents for their student's involvement in the program. There are a lot of opinions on that subject, so I'll save that topic for a future blog entry. Some parents like the fundraising aspects because it's a way to unite the families that are involved, while some parents would prefer to write a check. No one approach is right or wrong or better than the other. The part of the conversation that surprised me was when one parent (who I like) suggested that she didn't understand why everyone wouldn't just want to write a larger check and be done with it. She suggested that we lived in nice area and she couldn't believe that not everyone would have the money available to them to do it. My input was that perhaps she wasn't seeing the whole picture. I mentioned that I knew of people who had 2 income households and after one or both of them had lost their job they were doing their best to maintain their home and lifestyle. If we really look around us we will see that some households are doing fine, some are tightening their belts, some are re-prioritizing their needs and wants, and some are experiencing the possibility of losing it all. The teacher that was present even suggested (to her surprise) that our own high school was considered in need (not sure if that is the correct term) because a large enough % of the students qualified and received free school lunches.

The point is that when you walk down your street and criticize someone because their grass is getting a little tall for your liking, maybe you should ask yourself why. Have they taken on a 2nd job recently and haven't been home all week to cut the grass? Is the house in foreclosure? Did the homeowner suffer a heart attack last month and isn't able to handle the maintenance just now?

If we don't make the effort to interact with our neighbors, friends, and even strangers how can we truly expect to see the big picture? How can we know what is needed or how we can help?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Why are some decisions harder than others?

Today I entered a Facebook post that simply asked 'Why do we struggle with decisions some days more than others?' A friend responded rather quickly suggesting that it would make a good 'Insights Are Blooming' topic. Well, there you go ... talk about inspiration.

Decisions can come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes with a lot of strings attached. Some decisions are what I like to call 'no-brainers', while trying to make other decisions often cause us to lose sleep. Those are the difficult life-changing ones. I don't think there is a one of us who doesn't have to make at least one decision a day ... our lives are overflowing with choices. What should we wear to work today? What should we pack in our child's school lunch (that we hope they will actually eat)? Should we put time aside this week to actually call that friend or relative who is still waiting to hear from us? Should we plan a vacation or stick close to home? Should we downsize our home when our kids are grown and out of the house? Should we hold on to hope and try the medical treatment that might save our life? Should we retire or continue working for another year or two?

Everyone's 'choices' that are currently weighing them down may or may not be just like those of the person next to you. We often think we are faced with decisions that no one else could possibly understand. We often feel alone. At the same time, we just might be more like the person standing next to us than we thought. Making serious decisions can be difficult. Of course, we need to do our research and weigh all of our options. Be thorough, but in the end trust yourself.

What was your most recent decision (serious or trivial)?

Friday, April 6, 2012

What's your favorite school time memory?

It's been a week since my last post. No excuses here, just been REALLY busy. It's spring break for my teenager which you might think would give me some free time (parental math problem ... her schedule = my schedule). Not the case though. It's Holy Week which made for a busy week at work for me ... additional sscheduling ... Easter flower deliveries ... lots of worship bulletins, etc. This week though the weather has been decent, a few warmer days and a few chillier days ... but today is a nice one. Blue sky and sunshine go a long way in my book. Baseball opening day was yesterday and the Tigers won. As my Pastor (and boss) left the building in the afternoon he said 'It's nice that you have Christian music playing on your computer, but if I were you I'd turn the game on on the radio.' No one had to ask me twice. It's amazing how much work a person can accomplish in their last 2 hours of the work day if they're the only one left in the building, their office window is open with a cool breeze coming in AND the Detroit Tigers have a great bottom of the ninth on opening day at Comerica Park. Great way indeed to end my work week.

Today my daughter and husband took a break with me from our day's schedule and went to Good Friday worship. My teenager did one of the readings and did an awesome job. I still find it amazing to watch my daughter perform her music or do public speaking in front of people. She's poised and confident. Nothing like the old kindergarten days when she would clutch my hand so tightly that my knuckles turned white. Somewhere along the line she blossomed - I can't say exactly when it happened, maybe it was a gradual process, but in a lot of ways she definately isn't the little girl I remember.

Seeing all of the kids out of school this week had me thinking about my own childhood memories from elementary school. We used to do so many cool projects. I wonder if kids still do them today - especially since they don't involve computers or iphones. I used to love the science projects we would do that involved plants and seeds. We would put the lima bean inside a folded wet piece of brown paper toweling, put it in a sealed ziploc bag, then tape the bag to the classroom window. We always seemed to do the project on a Friday afternoon. We'd come back on Monday morning and I'd run to the window to discover that my seed had sprouted and was green. I WAS AMAZED!!!

What's one of your favorite childhood school memories? Something about recess? Something about getting Billy to shoot milk out of his nose during lunch? I told you one of mine, so you should tell me one of yours ... it's only fair.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

What would you do?

There's been A LOT of talk lately about the bigger than ever 'Mega Millions' growing jackpot. I've heard that whether the jackpot is $12million or $400million any one person's chances of winning remain the same at something like 1 in 175 million (based on the # of number combinations - not the # of tickets sold).

They say money can't buy happiness and that is most definitely true. On the other hand money can often times eliminate stresses, give people financial security, enable people opportunities to help others, award people the chance to go back to school if they want, or even start a business. Winning a lotto jackpot (either way) changes peoples lives ... the question is 'what would you do?' Would you do nothing more than go on a spending spree buying ridiculous things that you don't need? OR Would you set yourself up for a financially secure future that would allow you to do things you never thought possible ... travel ... spend more time with family and friends ... volunteer or start a non-profit that would help others?

You've probably seen one or two of those reality TV shows about people who have won 'millions' ... they show everything from one extreme to the other. There was one family you won the lotto. They paid off their farm and expanded it by purchasing the adjacent 40 acres, bought the best tractors and equipment there was, refurbished their farmhouse, set up college funds for their grand kids and then the man splurged on one item just for himself  ... 'a shiny red Corvette convertable'. He said he'd always wanted one. He drives through his small country town and waves at every person he sees (of course he's wearing new denim overalls now). He said he'd fulfilled every dream he had and couldn't be happier.

Then there's the opposite extreme (perhaps the one who gets sucked into the excitement and the glitz). There was a man who lived in a run down trailer with no heat or electricity. He most likely spent his last dollar buying his ticket. What did he do with the money he won? He bought an outrageously big house with 8 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms (but he still lived by himself). His bathrooms had gold faucets and he hired a butler and a chef to serve him everyday. Everyday, that is, until he went bankrupt within a year.

So who was the 'richer' of the two? Of course, I'm not just talking about spending the money wisely. I'm also talking about the choices they made and how they chose to set their priorities.

If I won the lotto I'd have some definite plans that like a lot of people would involve paying off any debts, taking care of education needs for my children, helping out family and friends, donating to my church, starting a scholarship fund, and more. If I were to splurge on just one thing for myself what would it be? Hmmm... probably figure out a way to add a Florida room to my house, a place where I could sit on a comfy cozy couch, plant some flowers and green plants in colorful pots to scatter around the room, soak up the warm sunshine as it came in the windows, a maybe buy a laptop & a Kindle so that in my spare time I could read and blog ... and then blog and read.

What would you do if you won the lotto?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Try Not To Worry

I attended a Midweek Lent Worship service this week. It was a small service - but packed a big message, one that hit home for me. The scripture basis was Matthew 6:25-34 which discussed 'not worrying' for God was in charge. The last part of the scripture said "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."

In a nutshell ... anxiety and worry are human traits. Most of us have been brought up believing that we have to be in control and be responsible for those things that affect our lives. The reality of it is that we can't do it on our own. Some of us get support from our friends, a sibling, a parent, perhaps a spouse ... but God is the one that gives us the most support whether we realize it or not. God's love is infinite - He will take care of us forever. The opposite of anxiety is trust, which is obviously more productive.

Question for the day: What do you worry about? Everyone worries about something ... their health, their finances, their children, their parents, the world, terrorism, etc.

Next question: If everything you worried about was suddenly fixed would you be less stressed or would you find something new to worry about?


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are you having trouble finding your voice?

I read something the other day that talked about blogging. Someone asked an established blogger how he could find his 'writing voice'. The blogger replied, "Just write." Sounds simple right? Yes and no. The writer in question thought that he needed to have everything completely figured out first BEFORE he could actually set his thoughts to words. I understand where he was coming from. I've been there. I've often thought that unless I was a 'paid' writer, then I couldn't possibly write a blog. Well guess what? I've finally gotten past that stereotype. I write for the pure enjoyment it gives me. I write because I enjoy hearing responses and feedback from readers. I write because I want people to think about different things (whether those things are serious, funny or trivial doesn't matter).

The truth of the matter is your 'voice' will only materialize when you actually start using it.

Do you have a dream of being a master gardener, but don't have a fully developed landscape drawing set to paper? Who cares? Find your gardener's voice ... scatter some seeds and see what happens. You can tweak your garden when the seeds start to grow. Half of the fun is being surprised (I know that comment sounds strange coming from a control person like me, but I love gardening).

Do you have the makings of being a leader? Find your leader's voice and start a small group (of any guide).

Deep down do you want to be a chef? Then find your cooking voice and start trying out some new recipes. I'm sure your friends and family would love to be your guinea pigs to help you get started.

Do you want to find a new fulfilling career? Doesn't matter if you're a new college graduate or if  you're just ready for a change. Find your ambitious voice and start applying for some new jobs. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Do you want to be an artist? Then find your painting voice. Pick up a brush and just attack the canvas. You may be surprised at the outcome.

My question to you - what is your inner voice telling you to do and how can we help?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Are you ready for spring?

I don't know about you but I feel like I skipped right over the month of February - like I played leap frog and went from January straight into March. This week there's a bit of spring in the air. I took an outdoor walk with my husband yesterday afternoon AND we opened a few of the house windows as well. Tonight I wore a sweatshirt in lieu of a coat. The temperatures will be at or near 60 all week, which I admit I am more than ready for. Trust me I'm not complaining. This winter has probably been the mildest I ever remember for Michigan. This Saturday will be St. Patrick's Day so I'm hoping the nice weather holds out just a bit longer. I REALLY don't want to have to cover up my green apparel with a coat. That would just be unfair!

Maybe I have a case of spring fever? I'm not sure. Could be. It might be contagious so you should be careful (lol). I know a lot of people who normally struggle during the months of January & February. They need warmth and sunshine to keep their outlook in check. Hopefully it's been a bit easier for everyone this year. Truth be told, I don't think any of us will pass up a week of warmth.

So are you ready for spring? I know I am!