Friday, December 30, 2016

The Year Is Winding Down

Tomorrow is the LAST day of the year. 2016 will soon be nothing more than another chapter in our life book. Surely, there were high and low points; no one's life stays on a constant horizontal balance 100% of the time. As New Year's Eve draws nearer it would be customary for people to talk about resolutions and goals; some undoubtedly will revolve around diets, relationships, jobs, and finances (they always do). Maybe what is better to think about is how did you do with your resolutions and goals from one year ago? Did you pick a goal that was repetitive? Have you been setting yourself up to fail? 

A year ago I got the news that my cholesterol was higher than I would have liked. My weight wasn't exactly where I wanted it to be. My overall attitude needed some adjustments. I sincerely needed to find better ways of dealing with anxiety and stress. So, here I am one year later and it is time for a progress report. My cholesterol has gone down and is still improving. I made some lifestyle changes and without any dieting I am down 22#. My attitude, like anyone else's, remains a constant work in progress. But on some days, I am proud to report, I feel like I am doing a little better.

I don't like picking resolutions on demand at the end of year with a party horn in my hand, they feel too forced for me. Goals can be a good thing, as long as they are reasonably attainable. For me, I would rather reflect on where I am today, think about what is working and what is not, and think about whether or not I can do anything at all to improve it.

If you check dictionary.com synonyms for the word 'resolution' include determination, perseverance, strength, and fortitude. I sincerely like the sounds of these words. They all suggest positive images and success. Rather than saying you want to lose 20#, tell yourself that when the end of the year comes you want to be a healthier you (whatever that looks like). Rather than saying 'I want a new job', pray for a sense of commitment, respect, and accomplishment in whatever you are doing. Rather than saying you want to be in a certain place in a relationship, work toward being in a healthier and stronger mindset - the rest will come when it is the right time.

I had a lot of highs and some lows in 2016. I stepped out of my comfort zone, tackled ballroom dancing and raised a lot of money for a great cause. I played with my granddaughter whenever I could. I added some flowers to my garden. I bought my first-ever pair of straight leg skinny jeans (and wasn't embarrassed to wear them outside of my house). On the downside, our family lost someone special, I have learned more about elder care and being a power of attorney than I ever wanted to know, and I still have moments when I deal with anxiety and insecurities (but who doesn't?).

So, what has been great for you in 2016? 
What's been not so good? 
Where do you see yourself one year from today?
How do plan to get there?

Monday, December 26, 2016

It Takes Time For A Change To Transition Into A New Norm

Right now we are in full swing of the holidays. We've shopped, we've wrapped, we've stood in lines, we've baked and cooked, and we've socialized. We've made it through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and now it is the morning after. We're relaxing, we've attempted to tidy up our houses to regain a little bit of order. We will undoubtedly eat leftovers for the next few days until the time comes when someone cries out, 'I need a hamburger; no more ham, PLEASE.'

During the holidays, including up through New Years, we try to catch up with friends and neighbors, and have family gatherings. For some, the holidays have looked a little different this year. I know it has in our house. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner, if I do say so myself, but it was still different. In years past we played host to a larger extended family or close friends, but this year it was just 3 of us. We prepared the same dishes, decorated the house, went to a candlelight worship service, and watched Christmas movies on the couch. We missed having our whole immediate family here with us, but we understand that life changes; kids get married, start families of their own, and start new traditions (that perhaps do not mesh with ours). A family member passed this year and wasn't part of our holiday routine, and another family member is now in a nursing care facility which created yet another change.

The 3 of us slept in on Christmas morning and went through the rest of our day at a slower, more meandering sort of speed. Now it is Monday and we are all feeling a little lost. We have a couple of days off and want to make the most of them, but also aren't sure what to do. I do not have the desire, nor the energy yet today, to go shopping. I may do a little bit of Internet research for the best way to spend a gift card and perhaps venture out on Wednesday, lol.

The thing is, there is A LOT of hype that gets us up to the holiday (holiday music on the radio for one), but nothing that tells us what to do the 'morning after'. This morning my husband told me he saw one of our neighbors already taking their outdoor lights down. What? Seriously? I'm not ready to go that far. We have an entire year in between the holidays; meaning that a lot of change can take place during those 12 months. Relationships can change, for good or bad. Families can become bigger; we may have added spouses or new babies. As our small corner of the world changes, so do our traditions and the way we do things to make life special. Changes can happen literally overnight, just ask someone who has lost someone unexpectedly. In order for changes to become the new normal, though, we will need time. Thankfully, there is no time limit for a change to transition into a new norm. It won't happen over night. We'll have old memories to consider and new memories to create.

So, first off, how was your Christmas? What made it special? What was new about it? What, if anything, changed for you?

What are you doing today on this 'day after'? What does the rest of your week look like? Anyone that knows me well knows that I am a planner, a scheduler extraordinaire. I worked at a frenzied pace the entire week before Christmas and now I have a little time off. I could be curling up with a book, watching a movie, or sitting in my retreat room facing my laptop (oh wait, that's exactly what I'm doing right now). The point is I still feel a bit lost. When you're always used to your calendar being full you suddenly aren't sure what to do with an open slot; sorry if that sounds as pathetic as it presently looks on my laptop screen.

What is my big point today? Only that if you've experienced a big change this year (or even a small one) that has you feeling a little out of sorts and a little lost, that's okay. Take as much time as you need to face those changes head on, to try to understand them better, to appreciate and digest them, and to learn to accept them for what they are (or aren't). Given the right amount of time, your changes will transition into your new norm. Your holiday, this year or next, can be whatever you want it to be.

Friday, December 9, 2016

When It's Okay To Let Go Of A Friendship

Generally at this time of year I find myself blogging about the holiday season; the twinkling lights, the decorations, the hustle and bustle, and the real reason for the season. I try to keep my topics positive and uplifting; there's enough sadness and chaos in the world as it is. 

I recently asked my readers online for some topic ideas. I wanted to get a feel for what people were dealing with, besides the obvious holiday things. I inquired about traditions and things they looked forward to this time of year. My sister replied that each year she tackles a 1,000 piece puzzle. She starts it at Thanksgiving and tries to finish it by New Year's. It's a goal she finds relaxing.

By December 1st I try to have my Christmas cards written and in the mail. People joke that I am usually ahead of the pack; but, truth be told, no matter what day I send mine out on I will always get one from a previous co-worker first. Darlene beats me every year! That's become our tradition.

For me, writing out my Christmas cards can be both good and bad. The good part is I enjoy it; at least the part that involves reconnecting with family and friends with pretty and festive cards. The bad part comes when I look at my last year's list. I review it and add in the change of addresses, changes in names because someone has gotten married or worse someone has died, and then there is the issue that presents itself ... friendships that have changed.

Friendships can be tricky, because they can often be seasonable. The thing about friendships is while we hope that they will be honest and true and last forever, they can also be outgrown. For friendships to work in a healthy way, there needs be some give and take. They need to be 2-sided and there needs to be growth. I've experienced friendships that were great for literally years. We were there for each other, we supported each other, we cried together, and we talked ... a lot. Then one day out of the blue something ugly and unsuspecting happened with one. It hit me like a 2x4 between the eyes. My first response was, 'What did I do wrong?' All communication came to an abrupt halt only to leave behind unanswered questions and 'what ifs'. Years later this friend approached me out of the blue and asked to meet. We did and we talked. Turns out they had had personal issues they were dealing with that they had never been able to share. They apologized and proceeded to fill in all the blanks. We don't talk much now, but at least we have clarity and they know that I am here for them IF and when they are ready.

I had another friend, who was a very dear friend for more than 20 years. One day, their life changed, and apparently they no longer had room in it for me. Unfortunately, there hasn't been the clarity of an explanation; I believe they just outgrew our friendship. Perhaps we just didn't have things in common anymore. Perhaps it was a work in progress and I missed the signs. Clarity gives us closure. Without it we tend to speculate and place blame, sometimes in the wrong spots. A true friendship takes work, genuine effort, communication, and honesty. When even one piece is missing the friendship can take a serious hit.

I may be a little older and a bit wiser now as I sit here and reflect, but I'm not too old to not still wonder what happened? or what might have been? I am aware enough that I can see many people struggling with friendships; from the young ones all the way up to aging parents.

Yes, friendships can be great, but they can also be stressful and hurtful. They can be the cause of some serious reflection. Do we want to put in the work to fix the broken friendship? Do we want it so bad that we're willing to let ourselves be manipulated? The truth of the matter is, in my humble opinion, that people change. Sometimes they grow, they mature, their wants and needs change, and often times they're just looking for convenience or something new. Sometimes the novelty of the friendship wears off. If it never truly meant much to them to begin with then they won't feel the need for remorse or any pain. But while they may not feel it, the other half of the friendship may. You may be the one who is left asking the questions of what changed or who? When did you no longer become important enough in their life to matter? When did your feelings no longer count? At what point did they think it was okay to treat people with such little respect?

It's been said that time reveals all truths and time heals all wounds, but that doesn't make broken friendships any less hurtful or disappointing; especially during the holidays.

People change ... every where ... every day, you and I included. Sometimes friendships will be lost. It may be difficult, but it also may be necessary. In the long run it is probably better for us to see people for who they really are.

So, as you send out your Christmas cards this year or birthday cards or anniversary cards, know that it's always okay to try one more time. Sometimes we're lucky enough to know what is going on in people's lives, but more often than not we don't and can only speculate. Go with the spirit of the Christmas season; try again, be forgiving if you can, show grace when you can, but know that you deserve two-sided friendships. You are a strong individual. You get back what you give. If you put effort and honesty in, you can hope to have it returned, but if it isn't then it's okay to accept it for what it was and allow yourself to move forward toward something better and deserving.

That is my Christmas wish for you.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Let The Season Begin

This time of year can be difficult for many; for a lot of reasons. Some people will be dealing with their first holidays after the loss of a loved one. Some people will be financially stressed. Some people will be battling an illness. Some people will be working on troubled relationships. Most everyone is dealing with 'something', but most people will try to keep their troubles and stresses covered and to themselves.

It should be the season of hope, of families, of good will, and of miracles. Yet, many will be overcome by the commercialism of the season, the self-imposed stress of wanting to buy and give too much, some sleepless nights, and the To Do lists that require writing on the back side of the paper. Many people will have long overdue lunches with friends they haven't seen, many will rush in traffic, and many will become short-tempered for no good reason. Some will treat the wait staff  and the department store cashiers well and others unfortunately will not.

Before you accuse a seasonal worker of not being 'fast enough' or 'friendly enough', stop for a moment and put yourself in their shoes. They may be taking on extra seasonal work to help make ends meet. They may have already put in a 10 hour day on their feet trying to help crabby customers. The transmission on their car may have gone out that morning. They MAY be doing a great job and the attitude adjustment needed isn't theirs, but YOURS

Someone read a devotion in a staff meeting the other day about how 'hurt people hurt'. This analogy works all year long, not just during the busy holiday times. If you run across a cashier or waiter or mechanic or postman (or whatever profession) who seems to be having a frazzled day, stop yourself before you react with judgment or a criticism. Stop and find out their story. Ask them about their day. Tell them you appreciate their work and their effort. You have the ability with a few words to turn their day around. Sometimes it is even the other way around. YOU could be the one having the bad day and some one's kind words and a smile turn you around.

Grace is a beautiful thing. It can be life-changing AND it costs you nothing. Often times, it is easier to show kindness and grace to a stranger, rather than a family member or friend. I'm not sure why that is, other than perhaps we are too connected to the situation to be as objective.

As the holiday season gets further underway, make the most of it. Be the one who holds the door open for a stranger, the one that says thank you, the one who lets the person with only one item in front of you at the check out line, or gives the tired waitress an extra $5 in her tip. You have the ability to make this holiday season one filled with positiveness, kindness, generosity, and good cheer.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Is It Too Early?

You'd have to be living in an isolated cave somewhere to not notice that Santa is already in some shopping malls, lights are being hung, ornaments are festively being put on display, and sales are already happening. Is it too soon? This is and always has been a controversial subject for many this time of year. There are valid arguments on both sides. Some don't want to feel rushed and quickly feel stressed that they won't be ready in time. They will argue that they don't want to hear Christmas music on the radio before Thanksgiving; very valid points. Others LOVE the Christmas season and simply cannot wait for it to get started. I would venture to say that I am some where in the middle, but leaning more toward the tinsel side.

While I do enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday; a wonderful meal, football, and time with family and friends ... I am a multi-tasker and can enjoy Thanksgiving Day and still get a little pumped about the Christmas season. I look forward to the decorations, the lights, the Hallmark movies (which I am already watching), the store displays, shopping for those special well thought-out gifts, wrapping, and even sending out Christmas cards. The month of December goes by so quickly as it is that I don't mind stretching it out a little longer. My theory is that if I get started earlier in November then hopefully I won't spend my December feeling as anxious. The sooner I check things off my proverbial 'list', the more time I will have to take walks in downtown Rochester to see the light show, meet a friend for hot chocolate, or curl up with a cozy blanket to watch a Christmas movie.

During the last 10 days our country has endured a controversial presidential election, Facebook has served as a sounding board for hatred and meanness, and my family suffered the loss of a great woman. Needless to say my emotions (as well as many other people's) have been on an unpleasant roller coaster ride. Next week we will gather once again for Thanksgiving and be thankful indeed ... for family, for good health, for having food on our tables, a roof over over our heads, and abundant love in our hearts. At the same time I will look forward to the future with hope and anticipation; a hope for a more peaceful world and anticipation that people can learn to unite for the common good.

For many, Christmas is a season filled with hope and love and goodness. That is something I can wrap my head and my heart around. If I could start celebrating it in July or September or any other month I probably would. It's not about the gifts or the material things (my shopping list actually gets smaller every year), it is about the spirit and the hope.

So is it too early to be decorating, or looking at lights, or buying Christmas cards, or listening to holiday music that makes you smile? I say no, but that's just me. Sure, I will have my days when I feel a bit overwhelmed and anxious, but truth be told that also happens in February and April too, lol. 

The holidays (any of them) are what we choose to make of them. Yes, department stores will continue to set up displays earlier and earlier ... but so what. If it bothers you, then do your best to avoid it or simply don't let it get to you. But don't be a scrooge to those who look forward to it. Many people are lonely or sad or simply looking for more positiveness in their world. If they can find it in a store display or by looking at the twinkling lights on the trees, let them. It doesn't mean you have to hang a wreath on your door or a stocking on your mantle just yet. You can wait til the time is right for you.

I hope that all of us can embrace the goodness of the Christmas season, as well as be thankful for our blessings (but we can be thankful EVERY day - not just on the fourth Thursday of November).

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Turn Over A New Leaf

Happy November 1st! We've made it through the summer months and are cruising smoothly right through autumn. We are almost to peak color here in Michigan due to the rains, chilly days, then warmer days. As of last night Halloween has come and gone. Depending on the children traffic in your neighborhood, many adults will be running on a sugar high today as they've been sent out the door with the leftover candy.

With the seasonal change comes lower temperatures, the colors on the trees are now reds and oranges and yellows, and there's a certain sense of calm in the early morning hours. The air is crisp, there's a covering of frost on the grass and the rooftops, and there's a feeling of peace and quiet. And then another ten minutes goes by; the sunrise is just a memory and the traffic and noise begins once again.
 
For me, autumn is the season of leaves; they're colorful, they're crunchy when you walk through them, and there's the sense of peace and adventure everyone experiences when they drive down the road and the wind swirls all the leaves up into the air and around your car. For that brief moment you can just take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty of the moment for what it is.

Many people associate New Year's Day with the day you set a new goal and focus on the changes and opportunities that are presenting themselves to you in the upcoming year, BUT why not take advantage of November 1st and the glorious autumn season to TURN OVER A NEW LEAF? Why wait another two months to begin fresh and make a needed change? Why not get a jump start on improving your life by beginning today ... right now?

In another seven days the election will take place and life, as we know it, will change big time. No matter WHO you vote for and no matter which side you're on; someone will win and someone will lose. Someone will have a less than desirable moral character and someone will be considered corrupt. Both candidates will continue to bash each other and then act surprised and hurt and violated when the tables are turned. Some voters will be thrilled and others will be devastated. I will always be entitled to my own opinion and beliefs, as will you; but I can still hold firm to my own values and hope that my vote will still make a difference. Early polls and phone surveys will still try to sway potential voters and predict a winner a week before the election (which always fascinates me because in all my years of voting no one has EVER asked me who I plan to vote for; although even if they did I would tell them that was my business and not theirs, lol).
 
Yes, our country is at a pivotal point for all of us. History is about to be written and added to the books. Either we will have our first woman president or our first non-politician president. Future decisions will be made for us (supposedly with our interests being considered, but I have yet to see any real proof of that). Right now the ONLY thing I can do is cast MY vote. I will continue to listen and observe and think and ponder and HOPE that my vote and yours actually matter.
 
I am choosing to honor today by turning over a new leaf. I will hope and pray that by honoring my civic duty and voting - I will be making a difference. Yet I have the peace of mind knowing that while I may not be able to make a noticeable difference on the larger scale I CAN make a difference in my own life by living my days based on my morals and values. I can choose to live MY life by the standards I deem are important. Government may be in a position to tell me how much more I will pay for my required healthcare, how much my taxes are going to cost me, and what the economy will look like ... BUT they can never tell me not to still be nice to my neighbor, to not be a courteous driver, to not continue to try to make a difference at my job or as a parent. While the characters of most politicians may be questionable, I still get to decide my own. Whether I'm doing a good or bad job of that just shows that I am human and clearly a work in progress. It also means, on a good day, that I get to sleep at night with a clear conscious.
 
What about you? While I encourage everyone to vote in this upcoming election, I also encourage you to take the reigns on your own life. Stand back and look in the mirror. What are you happy with in your life and what do you think needs a little work? Where do you think you can improve and make a difference? Making a change requires effort and forethought; it's never easy, but definitely worth it.
 
Happy November 1st!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

When Negativity Feels Like Quick Sand

DNA is an interesting thing. Our DNA makeup is unique to us alone. It defines the color of our hair and eyes, our height, the basic foundation of our health, and much of our personality. But even having the firm foundation that we each do, we also have a lot of areas in our life where our minds get to help us define who we are. We can choose how much we exercise, what foods we put in to our bodies, the words that come out of our mouths, how we choose to treat those around us, and what our daily outlook will be.
 
Everyone has 'things' thrown at them (unwelcome things) that can alter their mood and outlook in the blink of an eye. That's unfortunate, but a reality nonetheless. Many people are what I would term a 'Pollyanna'; they see everything with a positive set of eyes. They first look for the good. Others will be just the opposite. They will have an negative outlook ... about everything. They won't want you to lift their spirits or share a better approach with them. As sad as it is some people view negativity like quick sand. It's all they are exposed too and they can literally feel it pulling them in and under. Some will try to hold on to something positive, but it can be difficult.
 
Some people are a little of both; they'll have their good and bad days ... but holding on to the positive by the tips of their fingers is to be commended, because they have not given up and they are still willing to look for the light.
 
If you or someone you know experiences their life this way, as hard as it is some days, don't give up on them. Continue to try and help them focus on the good, on the possibilities, and on ways things could get better. The reality is YOU can never do it for them. You can't tell them how to feel or what to accept, but just because they are leaning toward giving up does NOT mean that they get to drag you down with them. Don't be sucked into a negativity that isn't yours.
 
Stay positive!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How Strong Is Your Passion?

I've been extremely busy with 'life' the past few weeks, but today I am attempting to take a well-deserved break. So what's on my personal agenda? Of course, some time at the library where it's quiet and the phone won't ring; although there is a tired three year old somewhere nearby letting us all know that he's done for the morning and would rather be somewhere else ... but hey, we ALL have moments like that. Then I'll be off for Taco Tuesday with my daughter for a quick lunch break and then perhaps a trip to the cider mill this afternoon with my husband (because I know if we don't go today another season will have gone by and we will have missed out on our chance once again). Sometimes we just need to put the 'lists' aside and savor the moment; I know, that's ironic coming from someone like me who always has a list with them. I guess you could say I am attempting to live on the edge today.

So what's been going on in my world lately? A lot. A fundraising project that included a dance performance recently wrapped up this past weekend, a few loose ends that still need tightening up regarding elder care for my mother, and then there's the ongoing election (something no one can seem to avoid).

Just last Sunday in church my pastor said something in his sermon about how 'you can't avoid the bad things, but you can prepare for them.' Unfortunately that is how many are categorizing this year's election. Good or bad, it will be one for the history books; the year a woman became the first female president or the year a non-politician did. There has been more mud-slinging in this campaign than with the pigs at an over-crowded 4H fair exhibit. Candidates aside, there are many voters who are disgruntled, many have become antagonistic, many have lied, many have shown their true character (or lack of it, depending on who you ask), and that probably goes double for anyone in the media or who is part of a campaign team. There has been more 'dirt' dug up on both sides that leaves many voters feeling they are left in a position of having to vote for the 'lesser of two evils'; which again will vary depending on your point of view.

Now, some may choose to comment to this blog in defense of their candidate of choice which would be ironic since I never said WHO I plan to support; so if you do make that type of comment know that I may choose how far I will allow it to go (keep it clean, keep it appropriate, and keep it relative to THIS blog post). I don't support conversations taken out of context. Social media has been flooded with personal attacks against candidates, as well as anyone who states an opinion that may differ from their own. We are all empowered to have our own opinions, I fully support that, but even one politician must concede at the conclusion of an election and for the good of our nation at least claim that they will come together and support the country going forward (for the most part). It's sad, but I've come to expect politicians, campaign managers, and the media to choose sides, wage verbal battles against the opposing side, and try to sway us to their side. I suppose that goes with the territory, but when I start reading personal Facebook, Instagram posts, etc that have strangers slamming each other down for having a different belief I am even more saddened. Why are we allowing others to dictate to us whether our personal opinion is better or worse than theirs? People will always be passionate about their families, their causes, their religions, their political points of view, etc. But when people spew off their words without thinking first they can become something they can't take back. True ... you can make a media post and sometimes delete it if you rethink things, but once you've sent an email ... it's gone. Once you've mailed a letter ... you can't get it back. Once you've said or done something ugly there's no going back for a re-do; you can apologize later, but you can't undo it, and you can't change it. Seems logical that a little more thought put into ANYTHING beforehand could be beneficial. Choosing to gain your few seconds of fame at other people's expense will never be something I can support. You may have a few people say, 'hey, way to go!' and you'll be feeling popular and important (for a moment) and you may not even care about those you insulted or stepped over for your few seconds of notoriety, but it will be your sleepless nights and conscience that you'll have to deal with ... maybe not today, but some day. We've all been there; done or said something we've regretted. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Words do have the power to build people up, as well as tear them down.

Passion can be a beautiful thing. It means you care enough about something to not keep it to yourself. That's never a bad thing; it's how you choose to act on it that becomes important. Sometimes, though, when passion comes into play, logic and common sense can fly right out the window. Relationships will be damaged, jobs and reputations can be jeopardized, and opinions will be formed. Of course, opinions and what others think of you may or may not matter to you, but if you ever plan to do something in your life where you hope people will support you  -  you may want to be careful.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Why Didn't I Hear Back From You?

Communication is a funny thing. It takes a commitment from both sides. If you ask someone a question whether in person, by text, by email, or in a letter you hope for a response. That's seems pretty natural and not asking too much. Some people see the effort you put in to the question or conversation and respond accordingly; others will almost always leave you hanging. Why do you suppose that is?
 
I'll admit, by nature, I am a detail oriented person. Whether it's a personal email or a work-related one, if I make an inquiry or extend an invitation or even just start a conversation I hope for a timely response (I suppose it would be too pushy of me to expect it?). Some people I know see the effort that goes into things and they respond, others for whatever reason don't bother. I certainly understand the demands of busy schedules; my calendars and To Do lists would be mind-boggling to some.
 
To say that how people respond (or don't) could be correlated to being a generational thing, to me, is just an excuse. Some people (young or old) are quick to ask a question, but when you reply, they leave it at that. They don't comment, they don't respond; basically they leave you wondering if they even received your response or if they did are they upset or just being nonchalant about it. If you follow through on it you may eventually get caddy responses like: 'Sorry, I'm just so busy, you wouldn't understand' or 'I thought you'd know.' Really? Are we suddenly expected to be mind readers? I don't know about you, but my crystal ball is a bit cloudy. Perhaps we didn't give them the response they were hoping for so they've simply moved on.
 
Should we have to ask people to be courteous? Must we include disclaimers in our messages like, 'Please respond so I can get a proper head count for the event', 'Please respond so I know whether to keep time open in my afternoon for you', 'RSVP', or 'Please confirm that you received my response'? I can see some of those being appropriate if it's work-related or you're trying to meet a deadline, but on a personal basis it would seem petty. But then, if we're being honest, many of us wish we could be more blatant and say what we are really thinking. Of course, lol, if you're a blogger you've created a platform for yourself to be able to say things without really saying them. Kind of like a subliminal message that works IF the right people take the time to read it.
 
So what has been your experience? Are you good about responding to people in a timely fashion? Do you consider the value of the other person's feelings or schedule? Do you experience people not responding to you? How does that make you feel?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

It's About More Than Chicken

This past week my husband and I celebrated 34 years of marriage. Our children are either married or away at college so we are still adjusting to the empty nest syndrome. We threw caution to the wind and left for one night away at Frankenmuth, MI (Little Bavaria as it's commonly referred to). If you've never visited Frankenmuth you really need to Google it and then go for a visit. There's the traditional homemade chicken dinners with yummy sides of buttered noodles, mashed potatoes with the occasional lump just so you know it's real, stuffing, veggies, soup, assorted salads and breads, and then finally you top off the meal with a small dish of soft serve ice cream, but always topped with a plastic camel, mermaid, or figurine rather than a cherry. It's a time-honored tradition.

On this visit we had a terrific waitress named Jan. She was strong (especially when she lifted the heavy trays), but a real people person. We were one of her final tables for the night so we weren't in any sort of hurry. We started chatting about life, people, problems with the world, and ways the world could be a better place. Jan is not just a waitress at the world famous Zehnder's restaurant, Jan is also an 8th grade U.S. History teacher at an inner-city school. She is passionate about her job and really wants to make a difference; one student at a time. As we chatted we discovered she'd had one student who was 15 years old and was being tried as an adult for murder. She also had a student who was finding his way out of his predetermined life and was receiving a full scholarship to MSU. Jan had seen the full scope of possibilities and downturns in this school district, yet she is still driven and passionate about making a difference; one student at a time. Along the way she teaches life lessons; what is acceptable and what's not, manners, and respect. You need to take pride in whatever you do and give it your all. You will never be given respect if you don't first respect yourself.

We couldn't help but ask why, after a long stressful day at school, she was moonlighting at a very busy restaurant in the evenings. The answer was clear; one that we hear way too often in today's society. The teachers in her school district had taken a 9% pay cut to help with a budget deficit. There are often many misconceptions about teachers. Sure there are some who've been in the system long enough that they are making decent money, but many teachers today (with both bachelor and master degrees) are not making a fraction of what they should. Of course, people will say it's an EASY job and you get summers off. Sure an average teacher has 6-8 weeks off during the summer, but many teach summer classes, continue to tutor, take on outside summer jobs, coach sport teams, teach driver's education, etc.
 
In Jan's case she took on the 2nd job year round as a waitress so she could still keep up with her mortgage. My son and daughter-in-law are also teachers. I know MANY teachers that attend my church. Teaching is a job that demands respect; they have a great deal of responsibility in helping to raise our children. We've been blessed to have had some amazingly devoted teachers pass through our children's lives over the years; teachers that made a HUGE impact.
 
So how did we leave the evening? We'd gained some insights into a common problem, we listened to someone else's perspective that we didn't know, and we left a sizable tip as a thank you (that sparred a whole new conversation). Jan didn't take anything for granted and was extremely thankful.
 
Not every blog post will have the promise of a hidden gem of intuition that is priceless, but that's life ... no guarantees. I write about real life ... my life. I write about what I know and what I observe and hope that others can connect to it. The moral of this post? When you take pride in yourself and your work, the respect will come. Do the right things first and foremost for yourself and hope that others recognize your diligence.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Autumn Is Upon us

It is that time of year when the yellow busses are out making the rounds in the early morning hours, some of the nights are getting a little cooler, holiday decorations are changing in the department stores, and football is underway.
 
So what are your favorite parts of autumn? The trips to the cider mills? The 'pumpkin' everything at Starbucks and Tim Horton's? The thrill of a touchdown and hopefully the marching band playing a high school halftime show? What about the change of tree colors that will arrive in the next 30 days or so? There are A LOT of great things about the upcoming season. I actually look forward to putting on a light sweater. I think I am just about done with wearing my shorts and showcasing my 'extremely white legs'.
 
Every season has it's downfalls though. For many the summers can be too hot, the winters are too cold and snowy, and the springtime causes too much coughing and sneezing. But what about autumn? I LOVE the fall! I love having the windows open again. I love the splendor of the tree colors. I love going for walks and hearing the crackling leaves under my feet. What do I not care for? Hmm ...
 
While I do enjoy college and professional football and having a game on in the background while I do something else I don't care for the attitudes and showboating of many professionals. Players get paid A LOT of money, most of them anyway, but when some score a touchdown they showboat with a ridiculous little sidestep or salsa and (in my mind) look completely ridiculous. Okay, so they got a touchdown ... isn't that in their job description? Isn't that what they're being paid to do? I understand being caught up in the moment and being excited; that's the sport, that's adrenaline. Showboating with a rehearsed dance, to me, makes them look immature, cocky, and kind of dumb. Now there's a roll model, huh?
 
Maybe when the cement worker finishes laying a seamless new driveway he should break out into a waltz or a gliding side step to show everyone how 'smooth' his moves are. Maybe when a college student aces a midterm they should start a line dance down the hallway. We don't see baseball players choreographing their celebrations when they hit a homerun. A basketball player will execute a slam dunk and maybe high five his teammates. So why do football players (guys who will mostly only play 16 actual games in a season) feel the need for the hype? Why do they need to capture the attention of the nearby cameraman? Is it because they only play once a week? Is it because their seasons are so much shorter compared to other professional sports? Does it give them less time to attract sponsorships and fans?
 
I may be a suburban housewife who works full time, writes a blog, has raised her children, adores her granddaughter, does a great deal of fundraising, and takes dance classes on the side but I do know that I find it annoying to watch a grown man prance around like a peacock displaying his colorful feathers. Will it ever change? Most likely, not. Most likely neither will my opinion.
 
What do you think? Does it bother you? Do you enjoy watching it and learning a few new dance steps? Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Going Back To School

Flipping the calendar from August to September represents more than just the start of a new school year for kids, their teachers, and bus drivers. It's also the start of a new season for parents; funny thing is it doesn't matter if you're the parent of a 2nd grader or a college student. My youngest packed up last week and headed back to college for her senior year. As the parents of a last child going through the process there are a lot of things that will change; some we're glad for, others not so much.

My husband and I were thrilled that we did not have to tote a mini-fridge or microwave this year; especially since her campus apartment does not have an elevator and she's on the 3rd floor (that's 35 steps up and 35 steps back down, but who's counting). We're certainly not saddened that we'll never have to complete another FAFSA form. There has been a realization this past week, though, that while the routine has seemed extremely familiar it also seems a bit nostalgic. It's a big year; for her and for us. She has a lot on her plate this year with musical performances, classes, internships, a pep band job, and being the president of a new school club ... oh and just to add more into the mix she's hosting her own radio show once a week. 

For my husband and I, we have another 2 semesters to help prepare us for our empty nest (good thing we really like each other). Of course, she's more than welcome to come back home after graduation (at least til she's ready to start the next phase of her life). So what did we do this past week? We helped our daughter move back to school. Once in her room I did, once again, what I've done for her and her brother on move-in day each and every year at college ... I unpacked the linens and made the bed, then took her to the grocery store and bought her a bag of groceries. For the first week, at least, I have complete peace of mind that she has a comfy, clean bed and food to eat for breakfast. From here on out it's her responsibility to remember to eat and make her bed (fortunately she is a neat freak and always keeps her room organized and clean ... proud mom moment).

I remember when my son had his first move-in day at college (back in 2004). We pulled the car up to the curb and were given 10 minutes to unpack EVERYTHING onto the lawn, then move the car. We could take as long as we needed then to transfer everything to his room. I stood in awe and watched some parents unpack their car, hug their child (young adult), then drive away and leave them standing there alone with all their stuff in a giant pile on the lawn. I can't tell you how many 'piles' I supervised for kids I didn't know just so they could start making trips to their room. It was their first clear moment of panic. I always believed that the responsibilities of being a parent didn't end when the child turned 18 or you dropped them off at their college, but maybe I am old-fashioned.

Next spring when our daughter graduates she will walk across the stage and receive her diploma and afterwards we'll hug and look at each other and say, 'We did it!' Okay, maybe 95% of the credit will be hers, but the other 5% will go to my husband and I (for the packing, the unpacking, the carrying of mini-fridges and microwaves, the financial assistance, the pep talks, the Sunday dinner leftovers packed in Tupperware containers, the mailed cards with encouraging words, and the homemade treats - enough for her AND all the roommates.)

So here's to another year. May it be an exciting one full of good challenges and lots of memories.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What do you do when you're disappointed?

What disappoints you?
The weather? The ending of a movie or book? Your finish in a race? A meal at a restaurant? Politicians; or just people's behavior in general?
 
How do you react when you're disappointed? If you're like most people you run through a whole mix of emotions. You may feel sadness, regret, anger or bitterness, or even a bit of guilt. The first reactions are to be expected, but why do we sometimes feel guilty? We may wonder if the person or situation that has disappointed us could have been avoided. Was it because of something we did or perhaps didn't do? Is the situation or outcome potentially any fault of ours? We'd be naïve to think that we're completely blameless in some situations. Choosing to eat that heavy dessert after dinner may not have been the wisest decision, so we need to accept some of the blame when we don't feel well later. But people are different, they definitely aren't a dessert that we chose to over-indulge in.
 
People are complex, and YES, people can make choices. If you feel disappointed by the behavior of someone step back and take an objective look before you start blaming yourself. It's fine to accept some of the blame at times, but I don't think we should automatically think their behavior had anything to do with us. Everyone has the ability to make a choice, but in doing so we should also accept responsibility for any outcomes related. If someone behaves poorly or out of character, maybe there's something else going on. Before we automatically think, 'Oh, I'm sorry. Did I do something to provoke their behavior?' perhaps we should take a deep breath and ask ourselves, 'I wonder what THAT was all about?'
 
It's normal to be disappointed; in others' behavior as well as our own. Maybe it would be more constructive and beneficial to find out the 'WHY something happened' rather than the 'WHAT happened'. We cannot change the choices people make, only our own. We may never uncover, or even understand the 'why'. We need to cut ourselves some slack. I know, easier said than done. It's hard not to want things to go smoothly or even nicely. It's disappointing when we witness people behaving in selfish or vicious ways. People will always do and say things they regret, but actions AND words have the ability to be hurtful and cannot be taken back. Someone can acknowledge what they've said or done or sometimes what they haven't (but should have). That moment can be crucial and life changing, but it's their moment to take ownership of - not ours.
 
Be supportive, be a good listener, but never allow yourself to be a doormat.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Don't Lose Sight Of Yourself

It's the time of year where when you run into someone you haven't seen in a while they ask you, 'How's your summer been?' Lately when asked that question my husband and I have been responding with, 'We're hoping next summer has a little less drama and chaos.' Our last two summers have been filled with a lot of good, but also a lot of 'life'. Primarily we've been dealing with the needs of our mothers; their medical care, their residences, etc. Needless to say, we've had a lot on our plates for two summers in a row.
 
When 'life' happens and hits you smack dab between the eyes you do what you do best ... you deal with it. You put a lot of yourself on hold and you take charge. You put in long hours, you handle the new responsibilities, you try to cheer them up when they need it, and you grab some sleep when you can.
 
It's easy to lose track of your own life when things like this happen. You tell yourself that YOU can wait; your laundry can wait, taking care of your yard can wait, grocery shopping can wait, and vacations can wait. But is that a good idea? Probably not. There's a lot to get done; a lot with deadlines. You get done what you can and add the rest to tomorrow's To Do list.
 
A few months ago my mother broke her hip, had surgery, and went into physical rehab. Unfortunately she did not get the outcome she had hoped for and made a move into nursing care. At the same time that all of this occurred I was approached to participate in a special project. I was barely keeping my eyes open during the day due to the lack of sleep and added stress, but the more I thought about it the more I still wanted to participate in this project. The timing may not have been the best, but timing has never been perfect or predictable.
 
This year marks my 10-year anniversary of being cancer-free. In the midst of everything else going on in my life right now I didn't want to miss out on this chance to celebrate. I didn't want to lose sight of the goodness. So I jumped in with both feet, literally.
 
I am participating in a 'Dancing With The Survivors' fundraiser on October 8, 2016 for The Pink Fund; a local non-profit organization that assists breast cancer patients currently going through treatment with non-medical expenses. Fighting cancer takes a toll on people physically, mentally, and financially. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone (and learning ballroom choreography no less) to raise funds for this event, help people I can personally relate to, and celebrate life!
 
Whatever curve balls life throws at you remember to keep your eyes open and duck if necessary. There is a lot we cannot control on a daily basis, but there are some things that we can. We can keep a positive attitude, we can focus on the good, and we can try our best to make a difference.
 
If you'd like to support the 'Dancing With The Survivors' event please click on the link below.
 
 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

It's All About The Curve

When I was a young girl one of my best memories was going to the Detroit Tigers baseball games with my mom, my dad, and my sister. My dad generally travelled most of the week for his job, but if it was summer time you could bet that if the Tigers were playing at home we would pick my dad up from the airport and go straight to Trumbull Ave. to catch a night game. My dad insisted (no matter how young we were) that if we were going to go to a game, we were going to UNDERSTAND the game. He would buy a program and teach us how to fill in the stats; the number of pitches, the strikes, the fouls, the outs, the batting order, etc. He would teach us to watch for pitches; the slider, the fast ball, and the curve ball. The curve ball was interesting - the way the ball would seem to switch directions and turn back in.
 
A curve in baseball can change the game. A curve on an icy or wet road can be treacherous. We don't always see a curve coming, then we have a mere instant to react.
 
Life is sometimes no different. Every day 'life' has a learning curve attached.
 
  • Young children don't come with an instruction manual; we try our best with what we know but some days they will get IT right and other days they won't. There may be some tears involved and perhaps a few Band-Aids.
  • Teenagers present a whole new set of challenges. They suddenly become the age where they're convinced that you know absolutely nothing, you could never understand what they are dealing with, and they often feel like they are invincible and untouchable.
  • Life continues and we suddenly find ourselves trying to care for our parents. They may or may not have had a plan, but now it is up to us to work through their past, their present, and their future. Sometimes in a short amount of time.
Yes, life definitely has a learning curve. Some days we will find ourselves exhausted, a bit frazzled, majorly overwhelmed, and often talking to ourselves.
 
The moral of this little story ... don't give up, don't give in, keep on trying a new way to smooth out the bumps, and always continue to search for the calmness that will eventually come. Will we have all the answers? Probably not. Will we make mistakes and poor choices along the way? Undoubtedly. Will we survive to see a new day? That's my hope for you, as well as me!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Catch A Glimpse

There are days we look in the mirror and think, 'Who is that person?' We don't recognize them. We've changed. We've gotten older or heavier or thinner or maybe we look sad or tired. How 'we' see ourselves is often quite different than how others see us. We see ourselves mostly with our minds, by how we think and feel. We forget to use our eyes; well most of us anyway. We see what's in our hearts and in our gut. Some of us have forgotten how to just 'see'.  We'll meet a stranger who sees us for the first time and their perception will most likely be more accurate; they're seeing with their eyes. They don't see the baggage or the struggles or the accomplishments. They see what is right in front of them; pretty eyes or a warm smile.
 
Recently I've taken on a new exciting project (more details to come), but I can
tell you that this project will take me completely out of my comfort zone to a place where myself and others will definitely SEE me differently. For this project I needed a photo that could be used in promotions. I couldn't come up with any that I could use; I generally seem to be the one taking the photos. So what did I do? I engaged the services of a talented young lady who was beginning her photography business. Sometimes you just feel like things are meant to be. I was nervous to get my picture taken. I was nervous that I would feel awkward. I was nervous that even though I'd recently lost 20 pounds that I wouldn't look the way I wanted to. Then I met Sarah. Sarah Zick is a wonderful new photographer who has an engaging spirit, a God-given talent, and a knack for making her subject feel relaxed. Now, I am in NO way suggesting that I am quitting my day job as a Church Administrator and becoming a super model (yah, right, lol), but I am willing to admit that after looking at Sarah's pictures I am starting to see myself again perhaps the way others see me. Yes, I have flaws (plenty of them), but I'm more comfortable now about not hiding them. I am who I am and I need to learn to be proud of that.
 
It's a rare occasion that I endorse a service or product, but if I believe in it or them then I will. I would recommend Sarah's photography skills to anyone. She was an absolute joy to work with and I wish her nothing but the best in her growing career. She truly sees her subjects (both inside and out). She finds a way to make them blend.
 
If you would like to check out Sarah's photography you can find her on Facebook at 8:28 Photography or on her website at http://www.8-28photography.com/.
 
 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Pet Project: DIY Hanging Basket Kit

The time has come to share my 'pet project'. Many of you know I have a love for flowers; the multitude of colors, the shapes, the sizes, and the endless combinations. There are so many gardens out there to enjoy; so many better than mine. They inspire me, they make me feel creative, they lift my spirits, and they give me hope.

My blog has always been conversational; the kinds of posts I share come from my heart. I write as if we were talking across the kitchen table; sharing insights and ideas while maybe snacking on a plate of home-baked cookies and fresh iced tea. I don't usually advertise or promote on my blog unless it is something I really believe in and have tried myself.

A while back I wrote a teaser review on a sample flower from Proven Winners
Direct. It was a hit, so I was willing to expand with a bigger review. A few weeks ago Proven Winners Direct mailed me a DIY Hanging Basket Kit. I was so excited when the big box was delivered to my front porch on June 23rd; I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.

Everything I needed was packed neatly and securely in the box (absolutely nothing was damaged in any way); the basket, the sturdy hanger, the exact amount of potting soil I would need, the packet of Premium Continuous Release Plant Food, six Proven Winners annuals, and a simple diagram with easy to follow instructions.


I carefully laid everything out and took a quick inventory.  The planting process was a piece of cake. I grabbed my favorite orange garden gloves (always a bright color so I can find them when I leave them behind) and my hand shovel and in under 15 minutes I was done! I even had a little friend stop by to watch.

Ready to get started ...
A great combination of colors!








He stops by quite often.


Just about finished.
I initially hung the hanging basket on a shepherd's hook, but after a lot of growth in just 2 1/2 short weeks my shepherd's hook started to lean and bend. That was okay. I found an easy solution and a better way to properly showcase my 'pet project'.








A good friend gave me a portable small white table. It was perfect! I easily removed the metal hanger and moved my new plant to a better location. IT IS THRIVING!! I think it likes the new location. You know what they say; LOCATION ... LOCATION ... LOCATION.

TA DA !!!

Want in on the summer fun? It's easy! Proven Winners Direct by Four Star Greenhouses, Inc. wants to offer you a chance to enjoy their premium DIY Hanging Basket Kits at a discount.

Your unique discount code is SEASONPWDIY.

Use this code when ordering from ProvenWinnersDirect.com.

The code will be live from 7/18/16 to 8/1/16.

Now go out there, plant some color, and enjoy! If I can do it - so can you.

I received this free product from Proven Winners Direct.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Where Do You Fit Compassion In?

Compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering; at least according to dictionary.com. Compassion is about remembering other people's feelings and taking them into consideration. It's about being mindful and aware and hopefully respectful. Showing compassion in all that we do can sometimes be tricky. In our hearts and minds we feel empathetic, but if we have to answer to someone else there are things like policies and procedures that can get in the way of doing what's morally right.
 
Whatever you do professionally or personally, whatever your role is and your responsibilities are it's important to TRY to keep compassion in the equation. I see paramedics, policemen, and firemen show compassion a lot while still doing their job. I understand that getting the right balance can be difficult, but it's worth the effort when you consider the person you're trying to help.
 
If you are a boss and are about to lay someone off from their job, do it with compassion. See them as more than 'the bottom line'. Be prepared to give them a good referral or advice of who to contact for a new job.
 
If you're a doctor and are about to give a patient some bad news, keep in mind that they are a human being with feelings and not just another billable patient. I've known some amazing doctors over the years whose one-on-one communication skills are top notch.  If I have to wait for an appointment because my doctor is running behind I can only hope it's because he's taking the time needed to deal with something or someone important.  You never know when YOU might be grateful that the doctor spent a few extra moments with you.
 
In today's human race there are many moments where compassion seems to be missing. Some days I feel like the world is about nothing more than crime, politics, policies, deadlines, and bottom lines. So many bad people, bad decisions, and bad ideas. Sure, it's easier to just go with the flow and assume that everything in life is black and white, right and wrong, profit and loss, etc. But why settle for the easy way?
 
Some people may consider me a Pollyanna, but I don't care. I would much rather walk around reminding people of morals and values, and pose questions to them like, 'Is there another way we can do this?' 'Do we have any other options?' 'What can we do to make the situation a little better?' 'How can we show some more compassion?'
 
You remember the saying, 'No pain, no gain'? Well here's another one ... 'If you don't ask, you'll never know.' Maybe there's a better way out of your situation. Maybe there's light at the end of your tunnel that you just can't see right now because of all the obstacles.
 
Hang in there, wherever 'there' is. And remember that what goes around comes around. Start showing more compassion in your life and hopefully it will be returned to you tenfold.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

When You Know More Than You Ever Wanted

There are times in our lives when we strive to know more. We want to be smarter. We want to be more organized. We want to be able to compete with our peers. We want to be our best and do our best. Anything worth being a goal is going to take work; hard work. That work may be mental, physical, or spiritual. We'll need to put ourselves out there. We may need to do a ton of research and learn, and we'll need to learn how to apply our newly gained knowledge.
 
But sometimes we're put in situations that we don't want to be in. We're dealt a new hand of cards that, to be honest, leaves us feeling vulnerable and completely out of our comfort zone. We aren't sure how to act, how to move forward, what to think, and what not to think. We simply don't want to be in the situation we are now forced to be in.
 
Maybe you find yourself going through a divorce. Years ago when you said, 'I do', you thought it was forever. Now you're running a household by yourself, raising a family, going back into the workforce, and trying to sleep at night amidst all your new worries.
 
Maybe you've just lost a loved one. Perhaps you knew it was coming, but maybe you didn't. Maybe when you kissed them goodbye that morning you didn't think it would be the last time. Now you're trying to plan a funeral and figure out not only how you're going to attempt to reorganize your life, but how you're going to wake up each morning to a bed that's now half empty.
 
Maybe you've just been diagnosed with a disease. You had your life going pretty good. You had plans. You had goals and ideas. Now all your plans have changed. Instead you're feeling sick, you're going through treatments, and you're taking time off away from your job, your schedule, and things you wanted to do with your family.
 
Maybe you're caring for an aging parent. Hopefully you've been fortunate enough to have a good relationship with them before all of this happened, so now you're working together as a team to make things better or least as comfortable as possible for them. But maybe you haven't been that lucky. Maybe you've had a strained relationship for years and now you're in a position to try to help this person, but they don't want your help.
 
Most people, if they're being honest, have dealt with ups and downs in their life. No one's life is perfect. We'll try to live responsibly, productively, and hopefully humbly. We'll focus on our own lives, our families, and our responsibilities; but we'll also try to get through the less than perfect times. We'll be afraid, we'll often feel uncertain, and we'll definitely feel frazzled ... a lot. We'll search for the strength we need from God and our families. We'll learn what we need to learn and when. We'll have many sleepless nights and perhaps a few more grey hairs. But in the end we'll get through it and discover that we know more than we ever wanted.
 
Someone recently gave me a book to read. On the back cover it says, 'You'll get through this, whatever "this" is.' I'm going to hold on to that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Can You Keep A Secret?

Can you keep a secret? How many times have you heard those five awful words? I say 'awful' because those five simple words have the power to put enormous stress into relationships, increase anxiety, and mess with people's demeanors and their ability to trust.
 
There are different kinds of secrets; some good, some not so good. There are the secrets like 'will you keep Billy's party a secret until next Friday so we can surprise him?' Those secrets are harmless and worth the temporary deceit. There are harder secrets like sharing a confidence with someone who is being verbally or physically abused. They ask you not to tell anyone because they are afraid of their well being as well as yours, yet they NEED someone they can confide in. Hopefully being there for them as a support system will give them the ability to gain clarity and feel safe about making a plan to get out of the abusive relationship. Sharing a secret like this needs to come with understood boundaries though. You will keep their secret 'temporarily' as a show of support UNTIL they can resolve the issue themselves, however IF you feel the need to step in and share the secret in order to protect them then you will. They will be stronger for it if they can be the one to reveal the truth with you by their side.
 
Then there are secrets that, in my opinion, are simply NOT okay. The secrets that are harmful to relationships and make it difficult to be able to trust and believe. It's never good when someone starts a conversation with, 'I don't want (fill in the blank) to know this, BUT ...' or 'I don't want to tell (fill in the blank) this because I know they'll have their feelings hurt or they'll misunderstand.' IF a person begins their conversation with you in this way STOP and see the warning signs. You are about to hear gossip. You are about to be pitted against someone else, whether you approve or not, because this person doesn't want to give you a choice. I know people like this and deal with them every day. When they start a sentence with, 'I shouldn't say anything ...' I immediately stop them and say, 'Then don't. If you don't want them to know, do not tell me. Don't put me in a position I don't want to be in.' If the sentence starts in a different way such as, '(fill in the blank) doesn't want you to know this, BUT ...' I stop them before they can go any further and say, 'Then don't tell me. If they want me to know something it's up to them to tell me, not you. I don't want to know.'
 
Unfortunately some people thrive on secrets; on sharing them AND being the recipients. Though many don't seem to fully comprehend the concept. Secrets are not to be shared; hence they are a 'secret'. How do we handle those who behave like a kid in a candy store when they have a secret and are about to burst because they just can't hold it in? How do we reign them back in to focus on the part where they gave someone their 'word' that they wouldn't tell? How do we re-enforce the need for keeping our word, maintaining our integrity, and being worthy of people's trust?
 
I don't pretend to have the answers. I am still a work in progress, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Sacrifice Must Have Value

You've heard the clichés 'nothing ventured, nothing lost' or 'no pain, no gain'. What do they mean; besides the obvious? I think they are referring to sacrifices and the concept that you have to give in order to get. What you give needs to be big and important and worth it, otherwise it doesn't really count as a sacrifice.
 
So, the BIG question is what do you hope to accomplish? What is your goal? The even BIGGER question is what are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it? Your time? Your money? Your sweat and effort? Or how about your pride? What things are so important to you that to give up even a little of it will be huge?
 
Everyone's goals, dreams and struggles are as unique as snowflakes; no two are going to be the same. In the same way each sacrifice is going to be different, as well. What is important to one person is going to be entirely different than the person standing next to them in the grocery store check out line - and that's okay. That's as it should be.

Setting a goal is the first step; whether it's for a better lifestyle or a new job or if it's something necessary to overcome an injury or disease. Set the goal and think about how important it is to you, to your family, etc. Think about what it will take to tackle it head on. Think about what that will mean; how much time will it take, what will it cost, and how involved will YOU need to be in the process. Then decide how you can make it actually happen. What will you need to sacrifice? How will you readjust your schedule to make the time needed? Will you be able to cut back on a certain expense to have the extra money you may need? Can you dig deep and allow yourself to put your pride aside if you need to ask for help?

The sacrifice must have value or it's not a sacrifice.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Value of Structure

Some people are free spirits; they are able to live their lives one day at a time and one moment at a time. They prefer it that way. There are days I wish I could be more like that, but I don't think that it's in my DNA.
 
There is something to be said for structure; schedules and lists (as long as you don't get too consumed with them). Being able to remain flexible though, when necessary, is key. For me, meeting deadlines is crucial. I'm too hard on myself when I miss them, because I worry that I've left someone else waiting. I understand the value of time, both mine and theirs. I don't like it when I have to wait on someone else, so I try to keep it mutual. Working with a schedule keeps me accountable. I am expected to work 40 hours a week at my job and I always meet that requirement. At the same time I am thankful I work with a wonderful group of people that can be supportive when something comes up that requires me (or any of us) to be flexible.
 
I know this may sound a little old school, but I firmly believe that there is value is respect, in honesty, and in expectations. Our children are taught at an early age that their homework has deadlines and it's important to meet them. We teach them as teenagers when they get their first part time job that it's important to arrive at work on time and give their responsibilities all of their attention. It's considerate when you're sent an invitation to send the RSVP back on time. We all have deadlines and should respect each others.
 
This past week someone in my immediate family broke their hip, had extensive surgery, was hospitalized for over a week, and just transferred to a rehab facility. They have a long road ahead of them to hopefully get back to where they were, but their life just changed in some very dramatic ways. While in the hospital they received a lot of one-on-one attention, they were catered too, and taken care of in every way. Literally everything was done for them. That all changes this week. They will now face a new environment packed full of structure. They will be gotten out of bed. They will be worked with at physical and occupational therapy (every day). They will be required to sit in a chair for designated amounts of time each day. They will eat their meals at scheduled times. All of this won't be done to be controlling or rigid, but rather to provide the structure they need to heal and get stronger. Yes, there will be tiring days ahead (for her and others), but there is value in structure.
 
How do you deal with structure? Do you find yourself establishing the structure and trying to run the tight ship, whether at home or at work? Or do you have a free spirit and just 'go with the flow'? Which do you prefer and why?