Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My 2010 Word


My word for 2010 came to me about a month ago. It's funny how when you decide on the word, you actually see/hear it often. You "own" your word. You actually say to yourself, "Hey, that's my word" when you hear or see it.

My word is SERENITY.

se-REN-i-ty
1. The state or quality of being serene, unruffled, tranquil.
2. Clearness, brightness.

So, what is it about SERENITY that makes it my word, you ask. Okay, so maybe you didn't ask, but as long as you're still reading, I'm assuming you're a little curious.

In 2008, I was involved with a mindfulness program as part of my wellness journey after breast cancer.  One of the things we learned in the program was meditation.  Although it wasn't an easy thing to learn (and I certainly haven't mastered it), I persisted and learned that there is an amazingly tranquil feeling you get when you meditate.  You can feel so rested without having slept.  I crave that tranquility in my life right now. 

I want to handle things in my life without getting flustered.  I know I'm better at that than I was a few years ago, but I want more of that.  I want to walk through my somewhat organized home and feel the tranquility.  I want to feel the goodness all around me and I know when you come from serenity, it's much easier to do.  I want to find the serenity in photography.  I know I've made a start, but I want more of it.  I want to feel the strength you feel when you are tranquil.

I thought about whether I wanted to have the word PEACE for my 2010 word (which is what my blog buddy Leanne had as her word of the year in 2008).  But SERENITY speaks to me as "peace within" if that makes any sense.  And I firmly believe that when you work on the peace within, you actuate peace all around. 

I have two dear friends who are also posting their Word for the Year today.  Please visit Leanne's blog and Cindi's blog for their words and what their thoughts are behind their choice.  And as I mentioned in yesterday's post, the original idea came from Ali Edwards.  You can read about her words here

I challenge you to come up with your word for the new year.  Make it something that inspires you.  Make it something that nags you, nudges you, tickles you.  Make it something that fills you with passion.  Just know that something as simple as a single word can have a huge impact on your life. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What's the Word, Hummingbird???

2010 is fast approaching and as many of us do, we reflect on:
  • where the heck did the year go?? (yes, Virginia, it does speed up as you get older)
  • what did I accomplish this year (besides getting up in the morning and making a cup of tea)?
  • did I make it a good year?
  • what are my goals (a.k.a. resolutions) for the coming year?
Adding to that, might I humbly suggest you consider finding your word for 2010?

Early in my blogging career (y'like that??), I posted my thoughts about my 2009 word (which came about through my friend, Leanne).  She got the idea of the word for the year from a blog post by Ali Edwards (a.k.a. scrapbooker extraordinaire). Ali says, "a single word can be a powerful thing. It can be a ripple in a pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow." Take a minute to think about that statement alone. Have you ever heard a word, a single word that has an immediate effect on you? Either good or bad?? If so, you understand the power of a single word. I say, why not let the power of a single word work to your advantage? Why not let that single word have the power to focus you on what's most important to you in 2010?

This, my dear friends, is not an impossible mission. This, my dear friends, can actually have a cleansing effect.

So your mission, should you decide to accept it, would be to think of words that express what you want in or out of your life in 2010. But before you decide on THE word, sit on it for a day or two. As Ali says, "let it percolate a bit". Even if the words that pop into your head make no sense at the moment, don't toss them out right away. Write them down and ask yourself what they might mean to you. (You gotta give your subconsciousness some play time, y'know!!)

Need more inspiration? Visit Ali's blog post that lists links to all her previous Word of the Year posts.

My word??? I'll let you know tomorrow!  I've been blabbering on too much already.  Until then...enjoy your brainstorming.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Joy of Gift Giving - Part II

While finishing last minute shopping on the day before Christmas Eve, I found a stocking that practically screamed, "TAKE ME HOME WITH YOU." Although I initially resisted, I finally talked myself into it (or rather the grandmother of 7 sales clerk convinced me). Yes, it was totally an impulse buy. But you see, my younger grandson has recently found the wonderful world of Star Wars. And as if looking to capture my heart (yeah, like he even needed to try), his favorite character is also mine...Yoda.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I couldn't have felt more joy in giving this gift. Watching the excitement in his face as he enjoyed it was just about the best gift I've ever received. And although I still have a couple more Christmas get togethers to attend over the next couple of days, it is difficult to imagine that I will experience anything more satisfying than watching the excitement on my grandson's face.

I hope your Christmas Day turned out exactly the way you wanted it to be. Mine was!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Joy of Gift Giving

Here we are, the day before Christmas Eve (a.k.a., Christmas Eve Eve).  I've got the tunes on, enjoying the beautiful snow (isn't it always beautiful when you can stand at the window and enjoy it?!) and finishing the wrapping of the last of the Christmas gifts.  It has dawned on me that each year, I go thru the same thought process as I wrap gifts.

There's always that last minute "idea" that pops into my head..."Oh, I should have picked this up for..."  I think that's called doing your best work in the 11th hour.  I'm resisting that this year.  I'm not going out anymore.

So as I wrap each gift, I think about the recipient, what their reaction might be when they open it.  I inevitably question whether it was the smartest choice for a gift.  I hope and pray that they will be grateful for the thought behind the gift. 

You see, when I was newly married I had an experience that nearly crushed my soul when it came to gift giving.  Long story short, my husband was disappointed in the gift I'd gotten for him.  He had it in his head that I would get him...wait for it...the Atari PONG game.  This, after telling me NOT to get it.  It was just a matter of me not "reading" him correctly, I guess.  It happens with newlyweds.  As you can imagine, it caused a big fight.
 
On Christmas Day. 

That was a new experience for me...fighting on Christmas. 

You see, when I was around 8 years old, my sisters and I were given a couple of dollars to go to the local five and dime (the predecessor to the dollar store, for those of you who just said, "Huh??") and those couple of dollars had to stretch to cover six siblings and two parents.  Needless to say, my brothers and Dad got pocket combs.  And as much as they probably thought it was a lame gift, never once did I get the impression they were anything but grateful for the gift. 

Here's the point I'm working toward (I do digress, don't I?).  That saying "tis better to give than receive" really does carry some weight around the holidays.  Sure, it's fun to receive gifts.  But have you ever seen the look on a child's face when they've made something for you that they just KNOW you'll love??  Is that not just priceless??  They haven't yet felt the disappointment that comes when the receiver isn't really thrilled with what they got.  With some luck, they never will feel that disappointment. 

There truly is joy in giving gifts.  And sometimes, the reaction to the gift received could very well be the gift that the receiver gives the giver.  Keep that in mind when/if you receive a gift that isn't quite what you were expecting. 

I'm not sure I'll post anymore before Christmas (c'mon...let's look at my track record here!!!), so I want to wish each of my blog friends a joyous, love-filled Christmas.  Enjoy each gift that comes your way!  I know I've enjoyed the gift of your comments for the last six months.  It's the best gift I could have ever asked for!!

Merry, Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

I was able to spend some time with my daughter and grandson this weekend.  We were in the car, radio on, headed to the store and my daughter said to Cormick (who was a bit cranky that day), "Tell Grandma what your favorite Christmas song is."  ... Silence... Nada... Not a word. (okay...still cranky).  Waited.  I finally said, I bet I know.  Does it have to do with a man who has a hat?  (thinking his fave was "Frosty").  ... Silence... Nada... Not a word.  So she and I continued to talk. 
All of a sudden we hear from the back seat, "Loud.  Mom.  Louder."  They had been waiting all week to hear the song on the radio. "...I play my best for him, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum..."  We sat listening to every word, singing to ourselves.  As we were eating dinner, I said to Cormick, "Do you know what my favorite part is?  Pa rum pum pum pum."  "I like that, too", he says with a huge smile.  Turns out he knows the story behind the song.  He knows why the "little boy drummer" plays the drum and who he plays the drum for.  Another "ahhhhhhh - life is good" moment. 
(little drummer boy pic grabbed from gumnutcottage.blogspot.com)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas, er, Winter Cards

Many people know that one of my hobbies is cardmaking.  It's sort of an offshoot from scrapbooking.  What it does is offer you a quick fix when you need to create and don't have a lot of time.  Well, every year I have good intentions to make my Christmas cards.  The theme is always snow, snowflakes, snowmen...you get it.  I've included a couple pics of previous years' cards.  (Boy, I've grown in my cardmaking skills!!!) 
I very much enjoy making the cards, but I know I should start much earlier in the year to get the cards completed.  But I don't.  As a result, most years my good intentions of getting these cards in the mail get, er, let's just say sidetracked.  The Christmas cards end up getting mailed the week between Christmas and New Year's.  So, I can't really call them Christmas cards, can I??  Among my fellow scrappers, it's now become standard practice to call the cards I send out at this time of year "Winter Cards".  I mean, it's not like they have a Christmas tree or Santa Claus on the card.  They have some form of snow on them.  And when you think about it, isn't it kinda nice to receive a card with a peaceful theme AFTER all the hustle and bustle of the holidays??  See??  I could very well be on to something here.
Well the good news is, I spent some time with some good friends in the Scrapbook Cellar yesterday and TA-DA!!!!!  I got some cards done.  This time, no two are alike.  Except for the greeting.  The greeting never changes.  I think it's one of the most beautiful messages we could hear, not just at Christmas/Winter time. 
Care deeply,
Give freely,
Think kindly,
Act gently,
And be at peace with the world.
This is the spirit of Christmas.

So, now all I need to do is get them addressed and into the mail. Hmmmmmm, I wonder if I can do that before Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Poker Chips

I have to admit, I have probably started a half dozen posts and none came alive as I typed.  So that's the reason I'm so late in posting something new.  But my dear friend, Leanne, posted something on her blog that got me to thinking about a topic that is so important for the survival of each and every one of us.  And even more so during a season that is filled with so much happiness and at the same time, so much sadness. 
When my daughter was in college, she wrote a paper about giving kids encouragement and praise to build up their bank account of self-esteem.  This was based on a book by Rick Lavoie called "When the Chips Are Down."  She and I affectionately refer to the whole concept as "poker chips" and  we still have conversations about the necessity to accumulate poker chips.  Jack Canfield, the originator of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series maintains that it's not just kids who need poker chips.  We all do. 
Just as Leanne mentions in her blog, I no longer watch the news.  Do you remember back when one of the local networks would end their newscast on a positive note?  Always a story that would make you laugh or sigh a happy "life is good" sigh.  They might still do it for all I know.  I just think more people need more of that in their lives. 
The point I'm trying to make here is this:  Is it all that difficult to come up with positive, uplifting things in your everyday life?   The law of attraction tells us that what we think is what we draw to us.  Whether or not you believe in that (I'd love to hear how it's any different from prayer) it certainly couldn't hurt, right? 
Just think about this...you stand in the brightness of a warm sun and it lights you up, energizes you.  Conversely, you stand in a dreary, cold rain...how does that make you feel?  Don't you do the same thing with your thoughts?
I'm making a conscious decision to think of "feel good" things (or as one of my Texas friends would say, "chicken soup" things) that warm my soul.  I'm approaching this like it's an infection...the best possible infection that could be spread.  You with me???

Poker image courtesy of http://www.ehow.com/about_4571488_professional-poker-chips.html

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reflections


As I fell asleep last night, thinking about the events of the day, I realized I hadn't taken the time to update my blog on Thanksgiving!  What's up with that?!?!  So let me just share a few reflections on the day (I'm going for full disclosure here, folks!)...
  • I seem to go thru a "I don't want to go" thing every year at Thanksgiving.  Although it truly is my favorite holiday, there's something about having the 4 days off that makes me want to stay home and get something done.  I'm so glad my PG talked me out of  "calling in sick".  He SO knows how to play me, y'know?? 
  • There's a certain energy I feel when we all get together at Thanksgiving.  I can tell you that it's not just a "feel good" energy...it's an energy that has momentum.  I can't even fully describe it, but I can tell you that it feels like goodness.  You know how it's said that EVERY family is in some way dysfunctional.  (I'm one that believes that, but I also feel that labeling "dysfunction" is a judgment call).  But when we're together on Thanksgiving, I just don't feel that.  So to my brother and sister-in-law hosts, I thank you for providing us with an atmosphere that is warm and loving. 
  • I am giddy with delight to see our family growing with the next generation.  We now have 4 grandkids and one on the way.  It's sometimes still mind-boggling to look at my siblings and realize that some are grandparents or mmmm.... grandparents-in-waiting!  (Sorry, kids).
  • I admire people who are willing to step into the adventure of trying new recipes.  I tend to stick with the tried and true.  But there's a whole bunch of good food waiting for you when you take the time to watch the food channels.  We had some good stuff to eat yesterday.
  • I am so thankful for so much in my life.  From the little conversations I have with my grandson ("Go away, grandma") to where I am in my life right now.  I am truly blessed.  I just wish I was better at putting the little things into words...I'm working on it, but it's likely to be dangerous, y'know...then I'll NEVER shut up!!
  • Finally, a dear friend of mine lost his mother the day before Thanksgiving and my heart is breaking for him.  Although his mom was sick for a while, it seems that no matter how well prepared we think we are when it comes to the loss of a parent, it still catches us off guard.  She was a strong woman, a wonderful role model, taught her kids how to fight back from adversity, but it was time for her to "go with God".  To my dear friend, you and your family are in my prayers. 

Have a wonderful Black Friday, all.  I think I'm done shopping for the day, did it all online.  Now it's just a matter of taking advantage of the 3 days left.  I've got some cards to make, some gifts to wrap, and some pictures to take.  Have a happy day. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nick's Back in Business

We had dinner at Nick's last night.  Well, to be a bit more technical, we had dinner at Natalie's, which is owned and operated by Nick.  He thinks he'd like to change the name of the place back to Bill's.  We agree.  Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me back up.
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer and while I was going through radiation, I just didn't have a lot of energy to cook.  So my PG and I would frequent the Crossings Grill, a local restaurant in Franklin Park run by Nick, a.k.a., The Greek.  Nick had THE BEST cream of chicken soup I'd ever had.  But the restaurant just didn't draw enough business.  You see, by the time Nick opened his business in a brand new condo building, downtown Franklin Park had become something of a "no man's land".  People from town just didn't go there.  No matter what Nick did, he couldn't draw more people in.  Those who did go, loved it.  But even word of mouth wasn't enough.  So he closed his doors last spring.  We felt like we lost a friend. 

He finally found a place to land in the city, about 20 minutes away.  We found out about it last night, and 30 minutes later we were on the road to Nick's place.  We sat and talked about the place, what it was right before he bought it and what it was like prior to the last owner taking over.  Everyone knew the place as Bill's Drive In.  So Nick is considering changing it back to that name.  Won't mind at all if people come in and call him Bill.  Just as long as they come in. 

Wednesday is Cream of Chicken soup day.  Guess where I'll be for dinner!!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Angels vs. Science??

Have you ever had times where something keeps showing up over and over again?  Wait, let me give you an example:  Lately I've been running into phrases/words/quotes that have to do with mindfulness.  Here's a quote from Julia Cameron that just showed up in an email today: "The act of paying attention is what brings us peace."  (How true is THAT??)  Anyway, I can't tell you how often over the last couple of weeks I've been hit with little reminders of being mindful.  Now, I prefer to think of it as my angels at work.  But then, I believe in angels. 
My son, who is a more "logical" thinker (think Mr. Spock), would prefer to call this confirmation bias.  So I looked it up in Wikipedia.  It basically says you selectively collect new evidence to confirm your preconception, rejecting evidence that doesn't "fit".  Sure seems too scientific for us humans, doesn't it? 
I read a story a while back (I wish I could remember where because I'd certainly give credit here) about a woman who was told to look for butterflies during the week.  It was the middle of winter, there was a foot of snow on the ground and she was told to look for butterflies.  How insane, she thought.  Yet, she noticed butterflies everywhere.  A bumper sticker on a car, on stationery, on a card she'd received.  Butterflies were all over the place.  How was it possible??  Because she opened her eyes.  She was mindful of watching for them. 
Test it out for yourself.  Try this...since green (the color, people) cars aren't one of the most common, see how many green-colored vehicles you see today.  Let me know what you notice. 
In the meantime, I will listen to my angels.  They are reminding me that I really need to be more mindful in everything I do. I know this. It's not a new idea, it's just a reminder.  Thank you, dear angels.  Thanks for hitting me over the head, ever so gently. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving - Then & Now

It has become a tradition to have Thanksgiving at my brother and sister-in-law's house each year.  Their house if big enough to hold our whole family; brothers and sisters and spouses and kids and grandkids.  And the adults are in one room, kids in another, although the rooms are connected.  By the way, I use the term "kids" loosely.  Most are adults -- but they're still our kids.  My sister-in-law, Carol, does a phenomenal job (truly a job) at pulling this all together.  And she makes it look so simple. 
It's so much fun to hear the chatter from the kids' room.  Can't hear what they're saying, but the noise level is soothing. 
I found the black and white picture above while I was going through old pictures.  I can't help but believe it was of Thanksgiving.  If not, so what...it's my Dad, his sisters, their spouses and kids, Grandma and Uncle John gathering for a meal.  This warms my heart.  Can't you just hear the chatter??  And knowing my Dad and Uncle Jimmy, I can also hear the laughter.  Because one of them, just like my brother does now, would always be cracking a joke!! 
It's no wonder Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another Inspiration Filled Day

Ahhhhhh!!  Spent another day in the cellar - y'know...the Scrapbook Cellar.  What a good feeling to spend a little time chatting, creating, enjoying others' creativity, catchin' up on family stories.   When I look at the mounds of pictures I have, I wonder whether I will ever really finish getting them into books.  Today's digital photography is nice, because I don't need to print anything I'm not going to use...but I have decades of pictures that I am currently working on.  Add to that the pictures I have of previous generations and it can get overwhelming.  But if you align yourself with the right people, who become your cheerleaders in this game of life, it makes everything easier. 
So let me share with you some ideas that popped into my head about scrapbook pages I would like to do...
  • The impact my daughter has had on my life. 
  • How awestruck I am at the depth of my son's interests and talents.
  • How incredibly grateful I am at how incredibly generous the husband of one of the Scrap Cellar participants (actually, he is part owner of the place) is.  CT is just the bestest when it comes to understanding that we girls need to do this, and that he's willing to stop and get us lunch.  "Love ya, Hun!!!!"
  • How, when you least expect it, there are angels in our lives at the some of the oddest crossroads we travel...and how sometimes those angels can turn into real buttheads.  I try not to question why that happens, because I know that things happen for a reason.  But sometimes it's a bit perplexing.
  • How the feelings I have about being a grandma are probably the most difficult to describe.  I honestly don't know the words that describe the depth of these feelings.  And although I know it's love, it certainly goes deeper and wider than any love I've ever felt.  (Sorry PG, but I know you know it's different!!)
So that's just some of the pages I'll be working on.  My scrapbook pages are much wordier these days.  So it's more difficult to show you.  But I'll see what I can do about that.
Happy Sunday, All!!  

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day 2009

Then = Nov. 11th - Another day off of school.  WOOHOO!!
Now = Nov 11th - Another day off of school.  AND a BIG thank you to all those who have served and are currently serving to protect our country.  It's because of you that we have the privilege of being able to openly say, "God Bless America". 
Then - "Why do my brothers have to join the Navy/Army/Air Force?"
Now - I'm so proud that my older brothers and father and uncle (who emigrated from Ireland), and the love of my life elected to serve in the military.
Then - I think we had a better idea of who the "enemy" was.
Now - In this age of political correctness, are we too afraid of even THINKING someone might be an "enemy"??
Don't get me wrong on this.  I'm not a war-monger.  Nor am I a pacifist.  I believe we must do whatever we must do to keep this country safe.  And if it means NOT being PC, so be it.  I want to know that my kids and grandkids will be able to live in a country that will allow them the freedom to say what they think, no matter how contrarian it might be. 

I am so proud to say I am an American.  I am so honored to know that millions voluntarily step up to serve to protect us.  I'm so privileged to say, openly and from deep in my heart,
GOD BLESS AMERICA - LAND THAT I LOVE

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I'm Just Tickled Pink!!!!

I'm in heaven.  My daughter had an ultrasound done, and found out it'll be a girl.  Now, let me be clear on one thing right away.  It wouldn't have mattered to me whether it was a boy OR a girl.  I'm just delighted I've got one more baby in my life to love!!
Here's what so cool about the way Christine and Steve handle the whole issue with baby's sex/ what's the name/ yadi, yadi, yadi...They find out the sex ("Mom, I don't know how people waited 40 weeks to find out the sex of their baby.  I want to be able to call it something other than 'it'"), but they will NOT tell us the baby's name.  We don't get to know that until we are formally introduced to the little one after "it" has made it's grand entrance.  I just think that is SO very cool!! 
So anyway, back to my first thought...I just think it's kinda cool that my firstborn was a boy, then I had a girl.  My daughter's firstborn was a boy, and now she'll have a girl.  My blog buddy, Leanne, has two girls.  And her mom had two girls.  Nothing to read into there...I'm not going to go on about the planets aligning, or the will of God, or the law of attraction.  I just think it's neat!!
And as far as getting the frilly little dresses and "ruffle butts" (as my mother used to call them), I think the first piece of clothing I get my granddaughter will be a pair of jeans.  Nope, not pink jeans.  I'm getting her BLUE jeans (with maybe a pink top).  Because every girl needs a nice pair of jeans.  That's just standard!!  Now if I can just find one that won't make her butt look big!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A "Confession" of Sorts

I have a confession to make...this isn't easy.  I feel quite isolated in my thoughts.  But I'm just going to come out with it!!  Don't hate me for thinking like this.  I know it's not popular but I feel like I've felt like this my entire life.  Okay...here it goes...
I really, really don't like Halloween. 
Go ahead...lemme hear the collective gasp!!
So maybe it hasn't been my entire life that I've felt like this.  But I can't remember a time I didn't feel this way.  Here's the thing...I think of it as ... "the beggar's holiday".  Well, c'mon...think about it!!  Are kids really all that big on WHAT they're going to be?  For the little ones, it's more of a pain in the butt for the parents to get them in costume.  All to result in your kids going door to door to beg for candy.  Candy that will likely get tossed, eaten by others, or rationed out- one piece a day.   And the older "kids"??  C'mon!!  Most times they don't even dress and many times I have to prompt them to say "trick or treat".  And here's the topper...I even get the adults, pushing a stroller who come to the door to trick or treat for THE BABY!!!!!!!  Do you see what I mean???  I'm not asking if you agree... but do you see what I mean?  Hell, I've seen vans pull up at the end of the block and 10 people unload!!
To make matters worse, when my kids were young, I couldn't even carve a pumpkin with them.  It would make me sick to my stomach to clean out the innards of a pumpkin.  Have you ever seen the pictures of the vomiting carved pumpkin? I gotta tell you, I practically felt like that when I saw the picture.   Picture courtesy of www.mistupid.com/pictures

Well, all that sort of changed when I wanted to carve a pumpkin with my grandson.  (I'd do just about anything for that kid!)  So for the last few years, I've managed to dig out the muck inside, find some interesting things to carve, and had a good time doing it. These are the two I did last year. 
Okay, so now that I've got that out of the way, I've got one more confession.  I don't feel like handing out candy this year.  I'm trying to figure out what I can do to be able to stay home yet not answer the door.  To accomplish that, I'd probably have to leave the house dark.  Hmmmm... I'm gonna have to think about this a bit.  But just consider this fair warning...don't come to my house. 
I'm not answering the door. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Venus vs. Mars


Venus vs. Mars
Women vs. Men
Little displays of affection daily vs. Big displays weekly
Fix it vs. Understand it
I've given a lot of thought lately on why men (generally) don't seem to be as willing or able to deal with hurtful things in their lives.  Recent events have prompted me to give some thought, ask some advice, get some opinions on how things are sometimes, most times, vastly different between the sexes.  Some things I've read in the past pretty much state that men are fixers.  And it's sometimes too darned hard to "fix" the hurtful things in their lives.  What's so amazing to me is that some of the hurt is actually brought on by their actions (or inactions).
At first, I thought it was more isolated in its occurrence.
Not so.  Over and over I hear from Venus that "that's a guy thing!!"  And the more I think about it, I am agreeing. 
Venus (women) complain about their problems because they want to be "heard".  Mars (men) complain about their problems because they want them "fixed".  How many times have you (or the woman in your life, men) said, "I don't want you to fix this.  I just need to vent."? 

A generalized conversation: 
He: "How was work?"
She: "You're not going to believe this.  Do you know what Jane Doe said today?  She said to me, blah, blah, blah."
He:  "Well, did you tell her that she was wrong?  Did you point out to her how many times she's done the same in the past?"
She:  "I'm not telling you in order to find a solution to fix it.  I'm just telling you about my day." 
Sound familiar??  So here's the short version of what I'm saying...
Men -- When she talks, before you offer a solution, ASK if she's looking for a fix.
Women -- Before you talk, TELL him you aren't looking for a fix.  You just need to vent.   
Men -- When she asks for a fix, don't always think you're the one to fix it.
Women -- It's not always easy for him to admit he's not able to fix it.  Give him a little room to realize that he needs to call in the professional. 
Picture (in public domain) obtained from wikipedia.com:  Venus and Mars by Sandro Botticelli-1483

Friday, October 23, 2009

Time for a Little Squeeze???

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  No doubt you've seen plenty of pink ribbons in print advertising this month.  Followers of my blog and friends and family already know I am a two-time cancer survivor.  Next month, I celebrate my 1st anniversary of completing my radiation.  Do you remember what it felt like when you graduated from 8th grade or from high school?  That's kinda what it feels like when you "graduate" from radiation therapy.  I got pretty emotional on my last day (Of course I did...I cry at birthday parties).  Hell, I get emotional thinking about it now.  The whole radiation experience was one of those life things that I felt compelled to document with photos, partly to get past the pity parties I occasionally went through.  Haven't scrapped it yet, but when I do, I'll post it on another blog that I'll start eventually.

But I digress...

So, usually my birth month (June) is a signal for me to take care of my health issues, like my annual visit to the doc for my meds, making sure I take care of any annual tests that are needed for someone, mmmmm, over 50, let's say.  Don't ask me why I do it then...so many people do it at the beginning or end of the year. 

But I digress...

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I vowed that I would send an annual reminder message to all my friends and family to make sure they set up their appointments for their mammograms.  I didn't do that this June (although I mentioned it in an August post about the Relay for Life).  Other health issues took the front seat.  So before I digress again, I'm just going to come out with it.  Have you scheduled your mammo for the year, or have you asked your wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother if they have??  This is important...VERY important. 

You'll note I didn't mention chemo in my treatment.  I feel (this could very well be simplistic thinking) that I didn't need chemo because I caught my BC early enough.  And I strongly believe that's because I go for my annual mammogram.  Whether or not it's true, what matters is that I have been given an opportunity to pester the hell out of those I care about to make sure they get in for their mammograms.  So here I am, pestering you.  Yes, I'm grateful that you visit my blog.  I'm very grateful when you leave comments.  So allow me to be grateful to celebrate your health.  If you haven't already done so, please schedule this year's mammogram. 

Oh, and one more thing...don't forget your BSE!!  It's best to do that on a set day each month.  Pick a day... The first of the month, the first Monday, the first paycheck.  Just pick a day.  What's that???  You don't know what a BSE is??  It's something every woman should know!!  It stands for Breast Self Exam. 

Do your loved ones a favor.  Do yourself a favor.  Get 'em squeezed!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I am taking an online class to help me with my scrapbooking.  I have mounds and mounds of pictures and I tend to take too much time thinking about layouts and embellishments and papers, etc. to really be effective in getting things done.  So I thought this online class at Big Picture Scrapbooking might help me "git'er done".  I'm in week two, and this is my completed intro page. 

What I found interesting was that the homework for week one was to  answer the question:  "If I were gone tomorrow, what would I want people to know?"  So I spent some time looking through old photos and scanning them.  I even sent some to my brothers and sisters, in a quest to find out who really is in the picture.  But I found myself wondering things about my parents and grandparents.  It really makes you realize that unless you sit down with them to get their story, it will be gone.  And I've always said this about scrapbooking...If nothing else, I'm giving my kids, grandkids and great grandkids a history for them to look back on. 
Because I've done some genealogical research, I'm usually the one the family turns to to figure out the relationships in the family, when someone was born or died, etc.  I used to have a whole lot more in my head, but have come to realize that it needs to be documented (and it's slowly getting there with the help of Family Tree Maker). 
My future daughter-in-law, Jamie, loves genealogy.  I'm so glad!  She might very well become the family expert once she gets her hands on the info I've collected.  And many times I think about ways I want to incorporate my genealogy research in with my scrapbooking (let me count the ways, people!!). 
A curious observation:  My daughter and I took a trip to Ireland about five years ago.  When I would ask questions of people who knew some of my grandfather's family, information didn't necessarily "flow".  It was almost as if they would hold on to the stories because it gave them "one up" on others.  (I assumed this had to do with the infamous storytelling that took place in the local pubs).  The sad thing is, when they die, the story dies with them. 
I now have no one in my family to ask questions that I should have asked years ago.  Questions I didn't ask because I never slowed down enough to hear what they would have gladly shared.  That makes me sad.  And at the same time, it motivates me to tell my story, and the stories I do know of my ancestors.  Have you taken the time to ask? 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adoring Eyes

Two unrelated stories...yet here I go connecting the dots.
1) As I mentioned in yesterday's post, my younger grandson is at the age where he adores his parents.  Even goes so far as telling his mom she's pretty when she gets a little dressed up (y'know...like maybe putting on earrings or a necklace). 
2) In talking with a coworker this week, we were discussing how her son finally "got it" when he realized that "Gee, Mom really DOES know a thing or two about how and why coaches treat players the way they do". 
It brought to mind the thoughts of Mark Twain:  "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he learned in seven years."
Or this piece entitled "The Images of Mother"
Age 4: "My Mommy can do anything!"
Age 8: "My Mom knows a lot! A whole lot!"
Age 12: "My Mom doesn't really know quite everything."
Age 14: "Naturally, Mother doesn't know that, either."
Age 16: "Mother? She's hopelessly old-fashioned."
Age 18: "That old woman? She's way out of date!"
Age 25: "Well, she might know a little bit about it."
Age 35: "Before we decide, let's get Mom's opinion."
Age 45: "Wonder what Mom would have thought about it?"
Age 55: "Wish I could talk it over with Mom."
I know it's part of growing up, but isn't it just a shame that it has to be that way?  I don't think I know anyone who hasn't gone thru that with their kids or grandkids.  And I know it's necessary for kids to develop their independence.  My kids used to roll their eyes.  Now, I notice that they are silent with regard to "my ignorance".  Over the last six months, I've gradually watched my older grandson work his way to thinking that his grandparents really don't know everything.  Won't be long before the eyes begin to roll whenever I open my mouth.  Hmmm..... I liked it better when the look in his eyes melted my heart.  If yours are little, enjoy the adornment in their eyes.  It won't last!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A sweet, very short story

My grandson has been waking up early lately...really early... 4 a.m. early!!  But Mommy and Daddy don't get him up until 5 a.m.  So he spends the first 15 minutes calling "Ris-tene".  When that doesn't work, he spends the next 15 minutes calling "Maaaameeeee".  Today, he slept til 5 a.m. and gave Mommy a big hug when he got up.  This is the conversation that followed:
Mommy:  Did you have nice dreams? 
Cormick:  Yes
M:  What did you dream about?
C:  You.  I dream 'bout you.
M:  Oh, honey, that's so nice.
C:  You my best friend. 
Pretty cool, isn't it?  Mommy's his best friend.  Tomorrow, I'll post related thoughts.  But I just needed to share this story with you today.  Life is good.  I am lucky!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Old Habits, New Habits

This week, I started an online class that will teach me how to develop some new habits, and break away from some old ones.  It's a class about scrapbooking, but it's already got me thinking about other habits.  Like this habit I have of not exercising.  I know...there are some of you who will say, "I see nothing wrong with that habit, Peggy" while others will say, "Yeppers, it's about time, PK!!"  My latest "excuse" to not exercise doesn't really matter.  It's all a matter of me B.S.ing myself.  So now that I've given it some thought, I've decided there's no better way to commit to something than to put it on my blog.  How's that for courage?  I do like how I feel when I exercise...well, not while I'm exercising, but when it's over, I like how I feel.  I did something good for me and "gosh darn it, I'm worth it!!" 
You know how they post on jobs that it's X amount of accident-free days?  I decided I'm going to post on my blog (over to the right) how many days I've stayed on track and gotten some exercise in.  I'm also showing how many times I've used a lame excuse.  This is a bold move for me, folks.  But I'm hoping by doing this, you'll feel free to comment if you see me slacking off!!  We'll see how this goes!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friends and Inspiration...From a Cellar

Ahhhhh..... I spent last Saturday in the cellar, and I feel refreshed, inspired and incredibly grateful for very talented friends!!  The cellar is what we have affectionately labeled my girlfriend's basement.  The formal name is "Scrapbook Cellar".  We try to meet there once every 4-6 weeks to scrap for the day, without having to pay the fees they want in all day scraps at stores (where you always spend more money).  The nice thing is we inspire and energize each other.  This time, I learned how to quickly scrapbook 30 random pictures.  It's like a lightbulb went off in my head!!  A real "duh" moment....why hadn't I thought of that sooner!!
Robert Louis Stevenson said "A friend is a present you give yourself."  I hope you have friends in your life who listen to you, advise you, inspire you, laugh with you, act as your cheerleaders when you aren't quite sure, and let you know they are there when you need them most. I'm so grateful that I do. (And grateful to certain spouses who do lunch runs!! - Thanks, CT).

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Power of the Little Words

This week, there were a number of instances where I gave some heavy thought to the power that even little words have in our lives.  A girl I work with gave me a list or rather, MANIFESTO, of things that are just good for people to live by.  After I read the list (and there are some VERY good items that I'll likely blog about later), I started thinking about the word "manifesto".  I always felt the word was extremely strong, but that it had a negative connotation.  I don't know why but I'm sure it had something to do with what I learned when I was in school.  To be honest, I think I associated it with communism.  But it's not a negative word.  It's a public declaration of one's intentions, motives or views.  I LOVE the strength that I feel from this word. 
Here's another one...while watching the season premiere of "House" (one where I was a bit skeptical that they could show two hours of him in a psych ward but it was done to perfection), he uttered two words from the heart.  Two words that should be in everyone's vocabulary.  Two words that should only be used when coming from the heart, but at the same time be quickly on the lips.  Those two words...."I'm sorry".  Say it with meaning, folks.  I'm sorry.  There's no weakness there.  Not when it comes from the heart. 
And one more word that I always give thought to...one I've used here today.  This one is probably a bit more controversial.  The word is "should".  Somehow, I can't get away from the fact that the word "should" is judgmental.  I've had discussions with people about how it is often used to teach kids what is expected of them.  But isn't that a judgment call?  Seriously, we all have different thoughts on how we raise our kids, so telling our kids what they should or shouldn't do might be different from one family to the next.  Try to listen for how many times someone says the word "should" and really think about whether it is a judgment on their part.  It's no wonder you hear "why?" from the little ones when we tell them what they should do.
Okay, so enough of the food for thought.  I'm sorry, but I should be going.  I've got plenty of things on my to-do list today (just can't seem to fit the word manifesto in there!!). 
Have a happy Sunday!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cherokee Wisdom

Got this in an email...thought it was profound. Let me know what you think.
One evening, an old Cherokee told his grandson about the battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is evil -- It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good -- it is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."  (photo courtesy of http://animal.nationalgeographic.com)

Sending happy birthday wishes to my beautiful daughter, Christine!!  You have brightened my life more than I can express in words.  I thank God for the experience and honor of being your mother.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Random Thoughts

TGIF!! Not that I've had a particularly difficult week at work...to the contrary, it was a week that allowed me time to clean off the mounds of paper from my desk. But sometimes, don't you just want the weekend to get here? No, I don't have anything special brewing. I might just do what I did last Sunday; stay in my PJs and make cards all day. Or I might get out into the garden and pull out the weeds that were given a nice home this summer. I have nothing pressing, and I'm looking forward to that.
When I got home tonight, I walked in the backyard briefly. An absolutely pleasant surprise awaited me! My clematis was in full bloom! I can't even begin to describe the wonderful fragrance that comes from this vine. The first thing I thought of was that I needed to find a picture of it to post here. And I am very sorry that this isn't a scratch and sniff blog (I'm guessing that doesn't exist YET). Because I would certainly subscribe to it if it meant sharing this fragrance with each of you.
So, short of sharing that with you, I thought I'd share some random thoughts of the week.
  • Perennials are one of the best things Mother Nature ever came up with. Plant 'em once and they share their beauty every year.
  • There are good "geeks" in high school, and some of them are even popular.
  • Everyone can use a little "reinforcement" from the sisterhood once in a while. Sometimes it's enough to convince you to move forward with your dreams.
  • My daughter is a grown woman who is extremely capable of making very wise decisions.
  • The saying that "being a parent is a job that, when done well, gets you fired" is one that makes me both sad and joyful at the very same time.
  • Sometimes, I need caffeine. Well, maybe not NEED... but want. Sometimes I want caffeine.
  • You can do someone a favor by being straight up with them. Don't beat around the bush trying to gingerly say what you are saying. Sometimes it's the straight talk that makes things crystal clear.
  • Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.
  • I couldn't ask to have fallen in love with a better man than the one I'm in love with.

I hope you all have a wonderful, sun-filled weekend. As for me... I've got two days in front of me to do whatever looks good at the moment!! I'll let you know later what that ends up being.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Touch-A-Truck Date

Today, I'm giddy with excitement. I have a date...with my 2-year-old grandson. We are going to the Touch-A-Truck event. Every year, the town he lives in hauls out their big trucks, tractors, fire trucks, etc. and let's the kids climb on/in them and enjoy them. Last year, just barely over a year old and walking only a few months, this little boy nearly ran to each of the trucks. Today, a year later, he can tell you the official name of a "bobcat" vehicle. For those uninformed among us, a bobcat is actually called a skid steer loader and if you have a conversation with Cormick, he WILL set you straight. We've already had a conversation this morning, with him telling me which vehicles he wanted to see (dump truck and bulldozer) and him asking me what I want to see (fire truck). And he's only 2 years old!!!! I am so blessed!!

Will post pics of this year's event when I'm back home later this afternoon!! See ya!!
Sunday, 9/13/09 - Okay... update on my "date" yesterday.... we had a ball!! On the way to the event, he revised his list of what he wanted to see... besides the dump truck and bulldozer, he added EXCAVATOR. Yes, he used that word... How many 2 year olds do you know who will say they want to see an excavator? I'd guess most adults don't know what one looks like, but he pointed one out to me on our way to the place. I'm so in awe of this kid!! And he was in awe exploring the trucks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11/01 - Never Forget

We went to my grandson's sixth grade open house last night. The social studies teacher told us that today, the students would be discussing 9/11 events. She pointed out that these students were so young that many did not know the significance of the date. I looked at my grandson who was nodding his head. I felt like we had missed an opportunity with him. An opportunity to talk about how incredibly sad our nation was within minutes of the 9/11 attacks. An opportunity to tell him how people really do come together in the neediest times, without regard to differences in lifestyles or race or politics or economic well being. We were a nation that pulled together with one cause in mind. We were a nation UNITED.

My very first visit to New York was just a couple of years ago. I visited Ground Zero. I was in awe at how reverently quiet it was, surrounded by New York street and pedestrian traffic. It's almost as if you could feel the angels protecting the area. It was a feeling I will never forget.

God Bless America
And those who continue to protect us
Each and every day.
9/11/01
(Photo origination unknown)