Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Fresh Perspective For The New Year

Most every writer feels compelled to write something about New Year's Eve at the end of December; including myself. But what can we write that is new and hasn't been said before? There are only so many ways to talk about resolutions and goals and dreams for the new year. Whether you will bunker down for the night with a book or a movie and a bowl of popcorn OR whether you will get dressed up and venture out to celebrate midnight and the 'dropping ball of lights' with friends. 

The last week, for many, has been a long one. With the Christmas and New Year's holidays falling on weekends many people had the week in between off of work or school, giving many of us a much needed break. A lot of people spent weeks preparing for Christmas; the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, and the entertaining ... that when December 26th hit most of us could be heard letting out a big sigh. Don't get me wrong, I looked forward to the holiday like everyone else, but then there's a point where you long for 24 hours with absolutely nothing to do. For me, that will most likely be tomorrow; New Year's Day, lol.

This morning my pastor asked how many people planned to make a resolution for 2018. The raise of hands was about 50/50. Many people will make a resolution that they will lose the same 10# as last year, or try to get more organized, or start the dreaded exercise program, or finally begin that special project that is always sitting on the back burner waiting for 'some day' to arrive. The others will not commit to a goal because for some reason they are never quite able to achieve what they set out before them. Perhaps the goal is too redundant or just out of reach, or they have to overcome road blocks that get thrown in their way. Maybe they just need to take some time to reflect and focus on something new.

Personally I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore, not because I always fail (sometimes I actually succeed) but because I like to take the pressure off myself to start over every January 1st. See, that's the thing; a new season can start whenever you choose for it to. Maybe on February 17th you'll have an epiphany that it's the right time to tackle your goal. Perhaps on June 1st you'll decide to make an important choice about the direction of your future.

Your life is YOUR own journey. When and if you succeed in climbing your personal mountains will happen when it is right for you - not when the calendar says it's the day to do it. No two people are alike, making it reasonable that everyone's journeys won't always align on the same days.

Don't set yourself up for failure. Don't try to force your life to match up with everyone else's. Instead, use this New Year's holiday for reflection. Think about the direction your life is currently going and think about whether or not you'd like to see something change. Maybe there is a part of your life that needs some work or to be strengthened. Those are questions only YOU can ask. The answers are at your fingertips just waiting for you to grab hold of them. Give yourself all the time and grace you need. You are worth it.

In the mean time I wish you lessons learned as you look back at 2017 and the courage you need to make your life what you want in 2018.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Magic of Santa Claus

This time of year (for many) is about shopping, decorating, baking, and spending time with family and friends. There is something special about the spirit of Christmas in general; the way most people will go out of their way to help a stranger. They will open a door and say 'Merry Christmas', they will shovel a neighbor's driveway without telling them, they will drop a dollar or two in the Salvation Army red kettle, and hopefully remember the 'every other car' rule when sitting in traffic. 

I've sat in church these last three weeks and talked about HOPE, PEACE, JOY (and next week, LOVE); the four candles of Advent. These are special messages that help us remember what is really important and get us over and through the difficult times. With all of the happiness and glad tidings that are present during December, many people continue to struggle (with finances, relationships, goals, and anxieties). We can be so caught up in the twinkling lights, the aroma of fresh baked cookies, and the festivities in general that we can easily overlook the simple signs. The person that is sitting alone at a gathering, struggling to feel social, because someone may not be with them this year. The person standing in the layaway line at the toy store literally counting out their quarters and dimes hoping to get their child that special gift for Christmas morning. The person that isn't decorating their house for the holiday, because they fear no one will be coming to visit them.

Try to see past the glitzy store displays, the over-the-top TV commercials that try to convince us that we simply can't live without a new Star Wars toy or a brand new phone, the general idea that new and shiny means bigger and better and we must have it or we've somehow failed.

Embrace the simple pleasures; the car ride through the neighborhoods to look at the lights, the impromptu snow ball fight because the snow is fresh and powdery, and the smile that tugs at our cheeks when a store Santa spots us from across the room and winks or waves to us (trust me, this happens every year and gets me every time).

Whether you are into the whole Santa Claus scene or not, take the time to enjoy the magic of the moment. There's something special about the Santa with an authentic beard, real wrinkles, and rosy cheeks. The one who has the friendly voice and the sparkle in his eye, that somehow just makes you feel better when you've had a difficult day or have a lot on your mind. I've seen a few Santas that were sub-par and had their beards dragging a little too low and needed to put a little weight on, but then there's that ONE that you run into somewhere that just makes the moment a little happier, leaves your shoulders sitting just a little lower, and leaves your heart feeling a little warmer. To those special Santas I take my hat off to you. Well done!

As we gear up for this final week before the big holiday let us all remember the real reason for the season, be a little nicer to one another, share what we have with others (whether we know them or not), and make each other proud.

I wish you an early Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

What is your catch phrase?

It's the time of year when we are caught up in holiday traffic, standing in longer lines at the stores, and have To Do lists that are way too long to get accomplished in the hours of a typical day. It's only normal that we have moments of anxiety. We try to handle the unexpected times of stress with grace and finesse, but we are only human and are bound to stumble from time to time.

When I was experiencing one of those moments yesterday I had someone gently remind me to take the long deep breath in and the slow exhale out. It was helpful. Everyone has those certain techniques that work best for them in specific situations. 

What helps you count to 10 and regroup when you're feeling a bit frazzled? What is your catch phrase that puts things back into perspective for you? What can you say (preferably in your head and not out loud) that will help you get through your moment?

'Bite me!' (not sure where this one came from unless it was a vampire movie)

'Takes one to know one!' (when someone is rude for no reason)

'I know I am, but what are you?' (When someone calls you a sarcastic name and you feel like dishing it back. I think this was applicable in junior high.)

'People suck'! (for those rude drivers that cut you off in traffic)

Now, I didn't say these were all classy responses and I DID suggest that we only say them privately in our cars or in our heads. I'm a firm believer in the old adage that once words are out, you can't take them back - so say all you want in private if it helps you regain perspective and get past the moment.

It's only December 2nd and the traffic is going to get heavier and the department and grocery store lines will undoubtedly get longer. So keep calm, breath deep, whistle a happy tune, sing a perky Christmas song (this you can actually do out loud), and most importantly remember that this too shall pass.

We all have enough things to stress about in the world that it is okay to not have it all together all of the time. But perspective and self-control can go a long way in changing the path of your day, as well as someone else's. Before you yell at the cashier for the stock issue you might be experiencing (which they have NO control over), think again before you react. Before you vent on a complete unsuspecting stranger, think of the long term effect your rant will have on them and all who stand by observing the scene. 

Changing the world is a mighty task, but it can all start with you and I. Let's get creative if we need do and make the best of any bad situations or anxious moments.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Safe Thanksgiving Conversation Topics

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. It's a day packed full of traditions; turkey and mashed potatoes, watching football, a little competitive ping pong (usually dads versus the kids), and time spent after dinner scrutinizing the Black Friday newspaper ads.

It's a holiday filled with snacking and catching up with those we haven't seen in a while. The time comes when the food is laid out, everyone packs their plates, and then chooses their seat at the dinner table (depending on the size of the group there may still be an adults table and a kids table).

Then the moment of truth comes; everyone is seated across from each other without the distraction of people coming and going and a football game on the TV. So what do you talk about now? Here is my list of bad conversation topics and the tried and true 'safe ones'.

Don't start any sentence with 'When are you going to ...'

When are you going to set the date and get married?

When are you going to get a job?

When are you going to stop smoking or start exercising?

Never put someone on the spot. It's not like you pointing out the topic in front of a roomful of people is suddenly going to give them the answer that you want to hear. In general it's a good idea to avoid the topics of politics, increased healthcare costs, and whether or not professional football players should be kneeling during the anthem. Try to avoid the topics that you know will undoubtedly push someone's buttons. Remember that everyone has already had a beer or a glass of wine and is there to enjoy some down time.

Thanksgiving is a time for gathering and for being thankful. Bringing up conversation topics that will cause indigestion is never a good idea.

My advice? Stick with the topics that start with 'Remember when ...'

Remember when we went to that concert and stayed out too late?

Remember when we were kids and we broke the bed and tried to put it back together without mom noticing?

The 'Remember when ...' topics result in a lot more laughter and truth be told, the stories get better each time we tell them, even if they are exaggerated just a bit.

So this Thanksgiving be grateful for the food, be grateful for family and friends, and be thankful for the laughter. We'll try to solve all the world's problems on another day.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What do you notice?

Noticing something is a way of acknowledging that something or someone exists. We don't always do things to be noticed, but it's also nice not to feel invisible. Acknowledgements go a long way to establishing our level of self-confidence, building our character, and defining our personality. Sometimes a mere acknowledgment lets us know that we are on the right track and doing something right. We don't necessarily need a big, flashy billboard saying 'WELL DONE!' ... a smile or a gentle pat on the back works nice too. It can give us the encouragement we need to keep moving forward.

But acknowledgements can be tricky; sometimes they are positive and can build us up, just as sometimes they can be negative and tear us down.

What do you tend to notice?

Do you tell your children, 'I noticed you did a nice job making your bed' or 'I noticed you got a good grade on your book report'?

Do you tell your employee, 'I noticed you worked late last night and have been putting in a lot of extra effort'?

Do you tell someone, 'I noticed you got a haircut. It looks very flattering.'?

Or do you only seem to point out the negatives?

'I noticed you didn't wipe off the table after dinner.'

'I noticed you didn't cut the grass.'

'I noticed your bedroom looks like a tornado hit it.'

Sometimes I think that the things we choose to acknowledge and how we say it can say more about us than what or who we were noticing in the first place. I know someone who every time I get my hair done will tell me that it looks nice, but that they really didn't like it the last time. Ironic, because they said the same thing last time which either means I am always improving OR they never like it anyway, lol. I think it says more about the person than it does about my hair, but that's just my personal opinion.

So what kinds of things do YOU notice? 

Are you, by nature, a positive or negative thinker?

More importantly, what do you do then? How do you choose to share what you notice?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Dilemma of Gift Cards

Remember when gift certificates were all the rage? Restaurants, hair salons, clothing stores? It was exciting to give someone a day of pampering and a day of choices. Didn't know exactly what to give someone for a gift - let them pick it out themselves. Then technology and time moved forward and everything became more digitized. Now it's all about the gift cards. Some gift cards come in packages; dinner AND a movie, some are good for more than one restaurant or apparel store. Gift cards can make life easy (for the buyer and sometimes for the recipient).

A lot of places will offer incentives; buy multiple gift cards and get a coupon or small gift card for yourself, buy your gift cards in bulk at Costco or Sam's Club and get a discount, buy your gift cards at Kroger and you can earn gas points (sometimes even 2x or 4x the value). Yes, society makes it REAL easy to shop - what the heck, you can even purchase gift cards online and never leave the comfort of your laptop and pajamas.

My mother always had a problem giving gift cards as gifts. Sure, she loved the whole wrapping and presentation process of the package, but truth be told I think she also liked picking out the gifts. She would put a lot of thought into it and often start months in advance. Unfortunately, sometimes what SHE thought was the perfect gift for you wasn't necessarily something you would like or want to be seen in, lol. But the thought and the gesture were there. Eventually we would convince her that it would make her life a little easier and people could get what they wanted. After all, you can still find creative ways to wrap a gift card.

But, then there is the issue that recipients can lose the gift cards or just put them something place and forget that they have them. Or they have them at home, but not with them when they are shopping or out when they could actually use them. Sometimes, gift cards are received with enthusiasm and spent the way they were meant to be spent. Other times they are re-gifted. Other times they collect dust and sit in that special place everyone has, because for some odd reason some of us feel like we are being too frivolous when we use them, lol. Silly huh?

Yes, human nature can be just as unpredictable as gift choices sometimes. But since we are now in November and 'pre-' Black Friday sales are already starting to show up it's just one more thing for us consumers to contemplate.

Any stories of gift card mishaps that you can share with the rest of us?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Are You Evolving?

I never pretend to be an expert on anything and I am ALWAYS open to suggestions, whether that's on how to best prepare a recipe or how to be a successful parent. My husband and I have been married for 35 years, a great accomplishment (we think). We've both grown A LOT over the years. We've made mistakes and we've done a few things right. We've been supportive and we find that we are always evolving.

Together, over the years, we've built a home. We've had careers (a few different ones along the way). We've battled a disease. We've cared for our parents and we've suffered some loss. We also managed to establish a strong family unit. We have two amazing kids and have supported their interests, their hobbies, their goals, and their relationships. We served in school PTOs and marching band organizations. We've coached roller hockey and science olympiad. We've chaperoned field trips and we've transported mini fridges and 'stuff' to multiple dorm rooms and apartments. We've encouraged our children as they found their way and established careers. Being a parent has always been a big part of our identity.

We enjoy celebrating their milestones; the graduations, their musical performances, their jobs, a wedding, our 2 beautiful granddaughters, when the son who is a high school chemistry teacher by day and a woodworker by night sells a custom dining room table, and when the daughter who is establishing herself in her first big post-college job gets a box of personal business cards and can't wait to show you.

Yes, we love our kids, our daughter-in-law, and our granddaughters. We love encouraging them and watching them navigate life in their own way. We've also discovered a few things about ourselves and where we are in our own journey in life. We've gone from being a young married couple, to being parents, to being caregivers for our parents, to being almost empty-nesters, to being grandparents. All along we've run households and businesses. My husband and I love where we are in our lives and wouldn't trade it for anything.

We also try to keep a balance though, which on many days can prove to be challenging. We make our choices and we're happy with them. We also try to remember what our own hobbies and interests are. It's not that we've given anything up, we've just rearranged our priorities. Family and responsibilities will always come first; always have. I'll admit, some days we find it is harder to be selfish and more difficult to carve out time for us and our own interests. Don't get me wrong, I will always find a way to plant flowers in the summer and in the winter months when there is less outdoor projects I will make sure my husband finds time to work on his train layout. 

Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves that it's just as important to make time for us, so that we can be in a better place when we make time for others. My husband and I belong to a small group. There are nine of us who gather once a month for dinner and conversation, we've done this for a number of years. Truth be told, it's one of our best nights of the month. We share a meal and stories of our kids, our grandkids, and remember back to how it used to be when we were all a little younger, lol. Just this week, one of the ladies in our group came home from teaching school that day (bless her for teaching kindergartners!) and fighting a cold and feeling a little worn out and opted to go back out in the rain to meet us for dinner. She said she reminded herself that she needed to 'make an effort to be social', but in the end was glad she did. She made a choice, one that was healthy for her.

Yes, I will never pretend to be an expert on anything (because I am not). I will readily admit that I am a work in progress and most likely will be for many years to come.

Where are you currently in your life journey?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Who Says We Can't Go Back?

Often I sit down to write a post, but I take a minute first to look back in my own blog archives. Sometimes I can find the answers in my past to the questions I ask today. What does that mean? Well, it could mean that I've experienced a certain dilemma before. Sometimes I can read something I've previously written and use my own advice now, but in a different way. We all grow and experience life differently and at different times. I can read a scripture verse one time and walk away with one message, but the next time I read it I may be in a different place and I grasp a whole new viewpoint. Blog posts, I hope, are the same way. Something I wrote six months ago may send an entirely different message to a reader today.

Just this afternoon I was in a meeting and we were discussing people's gifts and talents AND how they change and transform over time. I had a sort of deja' vu moment, like I'd had this discussion before. Sure enough, this same thought was on my mind just six months ago. I thought I'd share the post below with you once again. You may take something different away from it than you did before AND if this is the first time you're reading it, that's great too!

(April 2017)

Have you ever noticed how different you are from other people? Have you ever wished you were more like them? Perhaps you wish you could sing like they do, or speak in public as easily as they do, or had relationships as relaxed as theirs? It is absolutely okay to observe other people and notice what you like about them, as long as you don't expect everything to be exactly the same in your own life.

You are a unique individual. Believe it or not, God made you exactly the way you are ... for a reason. We all have different skills and characteristics: some good, some maybe not. I am known for being organized and detail-oriented (sometimes to a fault). I see others who are able to 'go with the flow' and I often envy that. At times I wish I could be more easy going and learn to just accept things and let other things go, but that isn't always me. It's easy to feel a little judged when people tell you, 'Don't stress. Don't worry so much. Just let it go and hand it over to God.' Gosh, how I wish I could do that more. But guess what? God made me just the way I am. Maybe he wants me to over-think sometimes so that I don't miss the little details. Maybe he has a reason for giving me the skill set that he did. I may not always understand it, but I can hope that all my worrying and reasoning isn't all for nothing; that positive results will come in the end.

Rather than focusing on what we are not, we should focus more on what we are. We should acknowledge our gifts more; they have purpose and we shouldn't try to sweep them under the rug just because others don't agree or understand us. We should feel confident enough to be genuine, be true to ourselves, be proud of our gifts and talents, and OWN them.

The next time I see someone who is able to 'go with the flow' more than me, I should applaud them for being able to do that, but at the same time applaud myself for noticing the details in my own life. That's what makes it easier for people to work together. If everyone was all about the details, we would probably drive each other crazy. At the same time, if everyone just went with the flow some things might get missed. BUT if we all work together more and appreciate our differences and support each other, we will undoubtedly accomplish more.

Some people have the ability to dream the dream, but don't see all that it will take to get it done. Other people might not be equipped to imagine the vision, but are more than willing to help make it happen.

Which way do you see yourself? Do you embrace your gifts for what they are and run with them or do you stand by waiting for someone to give you permission? If we are being totally honest, I can admit that I've been on both sides of this scenario. If I am confident enough in a situation I will move forward with a vengeance. If I allow myself to be unsure then I am going to wait for someone to push me in a direction (often, their direction - not mine).

Just something to think about.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Tipping The Scale

Life is all about balance, or at least that's what most of us strive for. We wake up in the morning and we anticipate what our day will bring. What will our To Do list look like? How much will we actually accomplish? What relationships will take center stage today and need our attention? What unexpected drama will we be faced with? Who will push our buttons and allow us to feel stressed? Or will we get through our day and feel accomplished and at peace?

Whew ... that's a lot of what ifs and scenarios that will most likely get played out in a 12-14 hour period of time. 

On our best days we think we'll be able to tackle anything that comes our way. Everyone faces unexpected bumps in their path, but it is how we are able to deal with them that matters most and defines our character and our strength. While I feel it is good to start our day with a general plan and a goal, it would be unrealistic to think that plans can't and won't be changed (whether we are in agreement with them or not). To ultimately get through any day we need to be able to go with the flow and tell ourselves that it is okay if we don't get through the daily list because tomorrow is a new day and we can try again.

We try to keep a handle on life and we try to keep our heads above water. Some days we are able to succeed better than others. Some days we are weary from treading. 

What tips the scale for you? What throws you off balance and challenges your strength?

  • a lack of sleep? (I totally get this one. I am an insomniac most nights.)
  • a crying baby in public that distracts you from your moments of peace? (The grandma in me wants to go and help, but sometimes it is wise not to butt in.)
  • a honking horn from an impatient driver while sitting in traffic?
  • politics and the media? (in general)
  • people who swear in public?
  • people who smoke outside, but directly in front of a door to a restaurant or business that you need to walk through to get to your destination?

Everyone has their triggers; the things that tip the scale for them and throws them off their stride. When that happens ... and it will ... what do you do to regain your balance? Do you choose to ignore whatever inconvenienced you? Do you immediately become defensive? Do you respond or choose to keep quiet and keep your feelings to yourself?

There is the old saying that we should think before we speak (sort of a take off of 'measure twice, cut once'). Always best not to react right away; but rather observe, then think, then decide if you want to fight that battle. I've always stressed that once words are out (good or bad), you cannot take them back.

The next time your scale has been tipped and you find yourself off balance, take a deep breath and think about the most constructive way to get back to where YOU want to be. Be part of the solution rather than a new problem for someone else.

Monday, October 2, 2017

I Don't Understand

Yesterday my pastor spoke in his sermon (with a reference to Matthew 21:23-32) about when 'we don't know why ...' You can fill in the blank with just about anything. We don't know WHY someone behaves the way they do, so we judge and assume. We don't know WHY one person works for a living and another steals. When we don't understand the WHY of an issue, we find ourselves looking for a valid explanation. The fact of the matter is that people make choices. Sometimes they are the only ones affected and others not. There are some simple explanations, but many explanations aren't to be found.

In today's society I find myself saying, 'I DON"T UNDERSTAND'. Very similar to wanting to know the WHY, but it goes deeper for me. I go to church regularly, I read my bible, and I pray ... daily. My faith is very important to me. I choose not to push it on other people. I choose to respect our differences, but it goes deep down to the core of my being. There are days when I read headlines and listen to people offer their non-expertise opinions on everything from why the sun comes up to why football players take a knee before a sporting event to why someone would wake up and decide to shoot hundreds of complete strangers they never met. Many people are more than eager to add needless fuel to the fire and site their right to freedom of expression. Yes, we do HAVE freedoms, but with those freedoms should also come respect and responsibilities. I will never get all the WHY answers that I seek, but I will still struggle with not understanding the motives behind the actions. I am always seeking the 'thing' that will make some sort of sense out of a situation.

Sure, some people will say that if there truly is a God WHY would he allow the bad things to happen; the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the tornadoes, and the mudslides. These are natural disasters and scientists will continue to argue their specific causes and effects. Then there are the human-related bad things that sadly take place daily.

I will never fully understand why there has to be war; sure I understand the need for laws, and rights and wrongs, and protecting each other and our country, our rights and our freedoms. But I struggle some days with how it ever got so bad. I see so many soldiers give their lives and their livelihoods for our country, for us; but am saddened when the respect is not there and when one task is accomplished a new problem always seems to arise.

I will never understand why there has to be poverty and sickness, and so much hatred.

What can I do? That is constantly on my mind. I want to be part of a solution, not part of the problem. I don't want to spread hatred, innuendos, false information, or gossip. I will continue to wake up each day, not knowing what it holds. I will continue to pray for peace, for less homelessness, for more practical solutions, and for hope. It would be so easy in today's world to live in fear; fear of being in a car accident because someone else chooses to text or drink while driving, fear of being a victim of someone else's random craziness for the day, fear of watching the world pit itself against each other, fear of getting sick, or fear of losing a loved one.

I worry enough about everything. I worry for myself, for my family, and for people I don't even know. I worry about a lot, but I refuse to live in fear of the things I cannot control. It is tough, especially with everything that is out there - but I try. I will get up tomorrow. I will continue to pray for myself and others. I will continue to try to be nice and accepting and kind to everyone I meet. I will lean on my faith and hope for better days.

What things do you find yourself struggling with and trying to understand better?

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Love-Hate Relationship

According to the calendar today is the official first day of autumn. Some people would say it's already been here for weeks since we've seen fall and Halloween decorations in the stores already; pumpkins, corn stalks, mums, and spooky spider webs. The coffee shops have already introduced their pumpkin spice flavors. The local cider mills are bustling with cider and donuts, petting zoos for the kids, and corn mazes. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE autumn. I love the color changes on the trees, the crisp mornings, and the fun of getting out my thick and cozy sweaters. But somehow it just doesn't quite seem like autumn this week. The temperatures here in the mitten have been above 80 all week, closing in on 90 today and tomorrow.

My flowers and plants are a bit confused; the leaves are turning brown but the flowers are blooming for a third time. The calendar and previous years tell me that towards the end of September it's time for me to deadhead my flowers, trim back my perennials, and start to prep my gardens for their dormant season. But this morning I had to work outside well before 7:30 a.m. in order to get my work done before it got too hot. That's right, it was already over 70 degrees when I woke up.

There is a part of me that is ready for summer to be over. I am tired of being too warm. I am looking forward to the cool breezes and the sweaters when I take an evening walk, but then it seems like autumn flies right by and we move straight into the winter months. While I may whine about the warm temperatures, I will whine even more when I have to drive on icy roads. I guess I just like to whine a lot, lol.

For all the people who love the cold or the warm temperatures year round, I take my hat off to you. I, on the other hand, look forward to the variety. Here in the mitten we have four seasons and for that I am thankful. I am not sure how I would do if EVERY month was the same. Just like shoes and a good haircut, change is a good thing.

What's your favorite thing to do in the fall?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Make The Time

How often does something happen and you wish you had more time? You or someone you care about gets sick. Your kids have grown up in what seems like the blink of an eye. There's a hurricane or a tornado. Time moves by so fast and yet we find ourselves wishing that we not only had more time, but that we had better used our time.

It is my nature to be a planner. I'm ALWAYS planning ahead; trying to be responsible and be prepared. I was a Girl Scout for many years when I was growing up, perhaps that is when the characteristic rooted. From an early age I became dependent on myself. If I wanted something done, I needed to make it happen. I learned not to depend on other people, but rather be in charge of my own destiny. Somewhere along the line though I became TOO good at being a planner. I can admit I often forget to make time for myself or the people I care most about. I tend to get caught up more in what will be happening next week and next month, so much so that I often forget to enjoy today. 

I need to learn that while it is important (and responsible) to be an organizer and an efficient planner, it is also important to learn to create a better life balance. I need to smell the roses more. I need to hold hands with my husband when we're taking a walk. I need to laugh more at witty puns and jokes until my sides ache. I need to embrace today more. If I manage to do that then I believe I will have the stronger stamina I need to tackle the responsibilities and obstacles that life will undoubtedly throw at me.

But how do I make that happen? I suppose being aware and acknowledging the problem is the first step. The next step? Great question. If you have the answer, I am all ears. I could remind myself over and over again to not worry as much about tomorrow and next week, but embrace the here and now. And if I can't remember I can only hope that my family and friends will be there to remind me, stick post it notes on my windshield, write me messages in the steam on my bathroom mirror, send me texts and emails ... whatever it takes for the proverbial 2x4 to hit me square between the eyes.

How balanced is your life? Can you relate or am I experiencing this dilemma all by myself? What helps you to keep an open perspective and to live more in the moment?

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's An Educational Anniversary

Milestones are important. They signify something monumental; the length of time you've been at the same job, the number of years you've been married, or how long you've been cancer-free. We tend to celebrate the big numbers ... five years, ten years, twenty years, fifty years. Any time you've been at something for a long time you deserve a proverbial pat on the back. Why? Because it signifies loyalty, commitment, accomplishments, and focus.

This month my husband and I are celebrating two big milestones. We will have been married for thirty-five years, which seems impossible to us (I suppose because we try to stay young at heart). We have two adult children, a wonderful daughter-in-law, and two precious granddaughters. I'd celebrate them all every day if I could. But this month we are also celebrating something else. For the first time in twenty-five years we are not driving someone to school, purchasing school supplies, attending a school musical concert or a Science Olympiad tournament. We didn't send anyone off to band camp, we didn't move someone into their college dorm, and we didn't help relocate a child off to another state. I didn't need to watch the advertisements for Bed, Bath, & Beyond or Target and I didn't make an extra trip to Sam's Club to buy granola bars or mac n' cheese in bulk. 

Yes, this is a monumental milestone for us; an educational anniversary of sorts. We've watched two children blossom into smart, talented, and God-loving adults. We'll continue to watch them find their way and their nitch in today's demanding world. We'll continue to give them both our love and our support. We'll always be just a phone call away and will always be willing to be a sounding board as they make their decisions and tough choices.

To all the parents out there who are buying new sneakers and a backpack for their elementary-aged child, we wish you luck as you and your child adjust to this week's new sleep schedule and routine. To the parents of the middle school aged kids ... brace yourselves ... they will go to school happy and come home feeling defeated because their best friend didn't say hello and someone else wore the same blouse to English class. To the parents of the high school students; pay attention to 'who' your child hangs out with, follow them on social media, and always remember that they already have enough 'friends', what they really need is for you to be a parent. For the parents that are carrying the mini-fridge up to the second or third floor of the dorm ... remember, lift with your knees! It will be easier at the end of the semester when it comes down. 

As our children hit their late teen years and even their early twenties, we always told them we would be there for them; as a sounding board, to help them study for an exam, to meet up for a burger when they were tired of cafeteria food, or to be their 'way out' of an uncomfortable situation. Trust me, when your daughter (or son) goes off to that one college party where no one was supposed to drink, but suddenly everyone was and they're worried about getting home we want them to know they can call home at any hour and we can help them work out a solution that will keep them safe and help them still be cool with their peers (which is important to them at that age).

So, here's to all the parents out there who are celebrating any sort of an anniversary or a milestone. Congrats to you for a job well done.

What life stage are you currently in and how's it going for you? Any words of wisdom for the rest of us?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Look For The Goodness

As usual, the news is full of negative things; shootings, politics, racism, controversies of all kinds, and life-threatening hurricanes. The media, and people in general, are too quick to point out the bad stuff, but if you have your eyes (and your heart) open you will also see some positive things.

Skimming through the Internet headlines and photos yesterday I saw a lot of hardship and sadness caused by Hurricane Harvey. Streets were flooded, people were forced to evacuate their homes, and the weather channels were forecasting even more rain. But I also saw strangers coming together to help strangers. I watched one video of a group of people carrying a 91 year old man down a flight of stairs in his home to place him in an inflated canoe in his living room so they could pull it out the front door and to safety. The road in front of his house, as well as his entire first floor were under water. These people were gentle, they talked to him every step of the way, and they were compassionate. This man was only one of literally thousands who needed to be rescued, but in times of crazy uncontrollable events people still manage to put their differences aside to do the right thing. It's stories like this one that give me hope; hope that there is still decency left in the world, hope that there are still times when people react from the goodness of their heart rather than being reactionary to negativity.

In the midst of tragic times, good things still happen. Babies are still born in the most dire of circumstances reminding us that there is still a tomorrow. People forget about their personal financial stresses, their dysfunctional families, their job searches, and their relationship problems and they simply put everything personal aside and pull together to help strangers in need.

I prefer to think that God doesn't cause the bad things to happen in people's lives, but rather is there giving us the strength, patience, understanding, and compassion we need to make a positive difference as we deal with all the uncertainties we are dealt. There are many, many things we cannot control in today's world, but we will always have the ability to choose how we will react. Will we allow the negativity to suck us in and hold us under or will we fight back with everything we have and overcome the obstacles? I prefer to think that everyone has an unbelievable strength hidden deep down inside. Unfortunately, sometimes it just takes the big, unpleasant stuff to push us into digging deeper.

Join me today as I pray for everyone dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. May God watch over everyone dealing with the high waters, the many uncertainties, and help to keep everyone safe.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Have A Little Fun

Most things in today's world seem to involve stress; gas prices, politics, the weather, your health, your employment, the economy ... you name it. Yesterday, however, was ALL about the eclipse. People traveled for miles to see the best darkness. Hotels were built in smaller towns to accommodate the extra people. Traffic was backed up on some interstates for miles and miles. But people had an opportunity to witness something they might never have another chance to experience. People took advantage of the opportunity and made memories.

Amidst all the daily stresses it is important to try to create a healthy balance. Yes, we all have important choices and decisions to make, but we also need to learn to lighten up once in a while. We need to have a little fun.

There is a car commercial where a man is belting out a song in his car (with his windows down), he pulls up to an intersection where the lady in the car next to him decides to join in and belt out the chorus. Makes me smile every time. Why? Because it's something I would do. I've been known to dance around the house while dusting because a Backstreet Boys song came on the radio.

We all need to be able to say, 'What the heck' and dance around the house or sing in the car or laugh in public so hard that we have tears rolling down our face. Just last weekend I was eating dinner in a restaurant with my family and I noticed a roaring laughter coming from another table. At first I thought they were being a bit rude and rather loud and distracting, but then I noticed how much fun they were having and then all I wanted to do was find out 'what' they were talking about so that I could laugh too.

Laughter is a cure all for just about anything. Last night my adult daughter and I sat on the couch and decided to create a Bitmoji for me. We laughed as we downloaded the program to my phone and then proceeded to pick out the perfect auburn colored hairstyle for my character, the snazziest clothes, the right makeup, the freckles, the eye color ... we got REAL specific, lol. Then before I could stop her, my daughter sent messages to my husband's phone (of course he was only one room away). She laughed. I laughed. My husband laughed. Bottom line? We had a little fun at the end of an otherwise stressful Monday.

How do you have a little fun? What makes you laugh and temporarily forget your stresses?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Should I Write About?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How long does it take you to relax?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Making The Quick Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Is Your Summer Half Over?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

What motivates you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How about you? 

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

I Planted My First Rose Bush

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

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

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

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

All this came in one box!

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

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

Getting settled in its new home.

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

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

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

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

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

* I received this product from Proven Winners Direct.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What Is Your Purpose?

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

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Some Things Run Their Course

Canned foods have a shelf life. Fresh fruit and meat will spoil after a certain number of days. Plants and flowers have certain seasons of growth. Some things in life run their course, and that's okay. Not everything lasts forever. Relationships will mature and change, they won't always be exactly the same as they used to be. Even friendships will go through cycles, some will last and some will not.
I've noticed through my job and various volunteer organizations that even some projects have life spans. I've been part of different service and outreach groups over the years that had a lot of momentum for a long time, then things changed. Life changes. Your core group of volunteers move through different phases of their lives. The economy changes, ultimately limiting the funding that the projects need. Sometimes the passion or interest just isn't there anymore. When that happens, it is okay. It doesn't mean that the project is no longer good or isn't serving a purpose. It can be compared to pruning a plant. Sometimes you need to trim back the stagnant growth in order to make way for new and better growth.
Projects need to be backed by people who have the right motivation and passion. We are all human. Our responsibilities, our goals, and the amount of time we have to offer changes (sometimes all in the same day). When this happens we need to know that it's okay for us to step back and make way for someone new to jump in. It doesn't mean we don't believe in the project or the relationship any more, it just means that our perspective and what we feel we can offer has changed. Often when I've done something for a long time I feel like I am somehow abandoning it when I have to step back, when in reality I am not. If the project is meant to continue, it will. If the friendship is meant to stay strong, it will. I can only accept responsibility for my own actions. Projects and relationships involve more than just me. They require commitment and involvement from others as well. Those other people will take responsibility for their choices, as I have for my own.
Things will work out in the end. If you ever feel overwhelmed, overloaded, or over-extended  ... know that it is okay to step back and take a breather. Perhaps your heart is leading you towards a new project, something that you feel a renewed sense of passion for. It is okay to put yourself and your needs first. You can't give more of yourself than you have to offer. It's better to feel that you've done something well and with excitement than continue to do something your heart is no longer in to.
Volunteering is something I have always felt passionate about, but what I have accomplished and where I have done it does change with time. Volunteering is part of my core being. Volunteers should never be overlooked or underappreciated. Without us, a lot of things would never get done. Some volunteer opportunities will run their course, and that is okay. New opportunities will present themselves at the right time. Something you have moved on from may be the exact starting point that someone else is looking for.
When is the last time you gave in to the urge to step back from a volunteer role?
Did things still move forward without you?
Did you find something new that you could feel excited about?