Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My 2011 Word

As I mentioned yesterday, my 2010 word (Serenity) wasn't as successful as I'd hoped.  So I did some soul searching on why it was harder for me to embrace and I realized that my life has too much stuff in it. Call it disorganization, call it clutter, call it my past!  But it's time for change. It's time to declutter. It's time to SIMPLIFY.

sim pli fy  verb
a.-  to reduce to basic essentials
b.-  to diminish in scope or complexity
c.-   to make more intelligible; clarify

Yep, that's my word for 2011 - SIMPLIFY. What's so funny is that as I say the word, I experience an AHHHHH moment. Have you ever had one of those? Where just one word fills you with serenity and peace? Where you feel all sorts of gratitude?? Wait, what's this? A connection with ALL of my words??  Hmmmm.... interesting. Maybe that's the way it's suppose to work!

I started to approach my blog buddy/Scrap Cellar Chick Leanne to help me out with creating a visual for my word. Then it dawned on me (don't you just love/hate those "duh" moments?)...KISS! Keep It Simple, Superstar! (yeah, I know it's usually "stupid" and not "superstar" but I'm not about to call myself stupid!!).
And so, this is my first step into SIMPLIFY!  Can't get any simpler, right??


And here's my plan for 2011...There are so many people in this world who need things. And there are so many things in this place I call home that it's time I get the two of those situations to meet up. It's time for me to SIMPLIFY. And it's not just my home. It's my diet, my scrapbooking, my relationships. I don't believe we were put on this earth to lead complicated, cluttered lives. I believe we serve God best by simply being our uncomplicated, uncluttered, simplified selves.

Funny thing about these one little words -- once you pick the word (or it picks you) you start moving in that direction.  You start wanting it in your life.  Every day, all the time.  How cool is that?!!??

I'm headed over to Leanne's.  She's got a linky thing going for our words for 2011.  And, of course, a thank you to Ali Edwards on starting this revolution.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Word of the Year Review

 Hard to believe it's been a year since I selected my Word of the Year.   Inspired by Ali Edwards, and nudged by my friend Leanne, I began this Word of the Year journey in 2009.  Ali E. says it like this: "A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow...One little word can have big meaning in your life if you allow yourself to be open to the possibilities." Tangible, intangible, feeling, thought, emotion.  It can be any of those.
 
Charm by Lisa Leonard Design
 My first word was Gratitude.  That word and the gift of a word charm from Leanne helped make it a gratitude-filled year.  What's nice is that this word had such an impact on my life, that I literally saw a shift in how I look at things, how I react to things.  HUGE impact!
Found at a little out of the
way place in Arkansas
My 2010 word is Serenity.  I had a much more difficult time searching for serenity in my life this year.  Mostly because I didn't focus on the word as I should have.  Oh, there were spurts.  And how wonderful those were.  But overall, not so successful with increasing the serenity in my life.  

So here we are, just a few steps away from entering 2011.  It seems like only a couple years ago that we went thru the Y2K craziness.  It's now time for me to choose my 2011 Word of the Year.  I've got it and will share it with you before we wrap up 2010.

So what will your One Little Word for 2011 be? 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Believe

Christmas 2010
Don't you just love when song lyrics keep playing in your head?  No, I'm not talking about the haunting feeling you get with "It's a Small World".  I'm talking about songs with a message that resonates within you.  

One of my favorite Christmas songs is a song that can be played 365 days a year.  Although it is the most popular song in the Polar Express soundtrack (sung by Josh Groban), it really isn't JUST about believing in Santa.  Here is the part of the song that stays with me, playing over and over in my head (and heart).  

Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate

Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe  

I hope your Christmas is joyful, restful, reflective, and filled with love. 
May it be the Christmas of your dreams.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Traditions

When my brother was an infant, my aunt and mother started a tradition that lasted until my aunt passed away.  My Aunt Marge found the Christmas card that my mother had sent her the year before, and because she liked the picture of the cherub on the front she put a new date on it and sent it to my mother.  So it went, back and forth each year, with maybe one year when the card got "lost." 

In 1985, a similar tradition started with my siblings.  But it wasn't a card...OH NOOOO.  You'd have to understand how twisted the sense of humor is with some of my siblings to comprehend how this ever kept going.  You see, we gift a pig's head. 

2007
It started off as a doll, then it lost its body, then it lost one of the eyes.  It was just ugly.  In 2003, the nieces and nephews pleaded with us to end this bizarre tradition.  Nah...that's not gonna happen.  So I gave him a bath, fixed his eyes, gave him some hip sunglasses (aging, y'know), added a little color to his cheeks.  (Chicagoans, note the box...Marshall Field's!).
2008
When this tradition first began, the recipient of the pig's head one year was able to decide who got it the next year.  But now, we just have a white elephant gift exchange and that's one of the gifts.  So there's no telling who will end up with it each year.   
2009
(Clearly my daughter was not thrilled to be the recipient last year!)

This Sunday is the family Christmas with my siblings and their kids and grandkids.  Can't wait to see who gets to bring home the most prized Christmas gift ever!!
Do you have any bizarre traditions?  Share!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Hate the Cold!!

Here in the Midwest, we are in the middle of winter.  Yes, I know the calendar says not yet.  I know the official start of winter is December 21st.  But Mother Nature has a different idea. 

And as I sit and look at the temperatures on Weather Channel, I can't help but shiver!!  You see, I really hate cold weather!

You will never find me on a ski slope or an ice rink.  I will go out and shovel snow, but I'm not gonna be happy about it.  I will even go out and help my grandson build a snowman.  Not for long, but I'll do that.  There's nothing about being cold that I find appealing.  I can actually get creative with chattering teeth!  Yeah...I just hate the cold!!

So how ironic is it that when I make my Christmas cards each year, the theme is LET IT SNOW! 

Let It Snow 2007-2010
These are some of the cards I've made over the last few years.  I enjoy making them, but there have been times that I made 'em but never mailed 'em.  Don't ask me why.  I have no idea!!

So why do I make let it snow cards when I hate the cold?  Simple...I love the beauty of a snowfall.  I love how quiet the streets get when there's about 2 inches on the ground.  It's one of the most peaceful moments I know.  
The Weather Channel forecast
at 5 a.m. this morning

I'm not going to pay attention to the forecast for today.  Instead, I'm going to focus on the calm and peaceful feelings I get when I think about a blanket of snow covering our area.  And I'll just pretend that someone else has to shovel it.   

I think I'll go address some "Let It Snow" cards.  Maybe I'll get them mailed before Christmas!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Oh, Those Movies of the Season!

Yep, the time has come to see those favorite movies of the season.  The movies that get rolled out this time of year to let you now how much you should appreciate the life you live.  The movies that make you see the wonder of the season in the little faces in your life.  Classics like "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 34th Street" and then the more modern movies like "Christmas Shoes" and "Elf".

Last night was one of those movie nights.  Imagine my joy when scrolling thru the Comcast guide I find "The Wizard of Oz" on TBS.  Now, I know that since TBS owns the rights, they air it more than once a year.  That was never the case when I was young.  It was aired once a year, and there were no VCRs with which to record it.  You made time to see it that night!  So I turned it on.  Heck, the house was quiet, my PG was shopping, I was crafting, so why not watch and craft at the same time!?!

My PG came home near the end of the movie.  I told him if there was something he wanted to watch, he could feel free to change it.  (It was a lion part of the movie, and I've never been a fan of the lion).  But no, my PG sort of hung around watching it.  When we got to the part (SPOILER ALERT ---seriously, Peg????) where Dorothy throws the water at the Wicked Witch of the West and said witch melts, my PG says "So, the witch just melts with water?"   

Me:  (slow turn of the head)  Have you never seen this movie?
My PG:  (slight smile)
Me: Seriously, did you never take the time to see this?
My PG: Well, it was on every year, right?
Me:  You're not answering my question.  Have you ever seen this movie?
My PG:  I'm sure I have.
Me: (I think not!)

Well, this certainly clears up things in my little world.  For those of you who have been lucky enough to see Wicked on stage, you understand that although you don't need to know the story of the Wizard of Oz, it helps to further your enjoyment of Wicked. 

It opens up your mind to realize that there are two (or more) sides to every story and that you shouldn't judge things based on the first story you hear.  But I digress. You see, Wicked was the only live musical that PG and I have gone to.  And although he enjoyed the singing, I now know that he didn't fully understand the storyline.   And today, I'm told that girls enjoyed it more because the Wizard of Oz was all about Dorothy...What a guy!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is, by far, the holiday I look forward to most.  Many of my brothers and sisters and their kids and grandkids all get together at my brother's home.  The weather usually cooperates by not being so cold that it goes right to your bones (although it's questionable this year!).  Preparing the meal is half the fun of getting together, since my brother's kitchen is big enough for most of us to hang out. 

It's just such a peaceful time!! 

I am so incredibly grateful for my family.  And when they say that the longest relationship you will ever have in your life is the one you have with your brothers and sisters, it makes me glad to know I have them.  Because no matter what, I know they're there for me. 

Be vocal with your gratitude.  Tell them all how much you appreciate them in your life.  And have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

To Those Who Protect Our Freedom

It's been about a month since I've posted.  For some reason, I've been unable to come up with anything I felt was blog-worthy.  So without warning, I disappeared!!  To those few who frequented my blog, I apologize for not giving advance notice.  Who'd have thought I'd be that quiet for that long?????
Today, I have a good reason to speak up.  Because today we honor those who served to protect our freedom. 


As I mentioned back in my 2009 Veteran's Day post, my dad, brothers, and uncle who emigrated from Ireland served in the Navy, Army and Air Force.  Luckily, none of them saw combat, even though they served during World War 2 and the Vietnam War, respectively.  That doesn't make the jobs they had any less important.  Even those in the battlefield know they need the behind the line support to keep things running.  But I have to say, growing up I rarely heard any conversations that involved the time they served our country. 

I will admit I don't keep up on topics of the day.  I don't watch the news every day.  When I do hear of a loss of one of our troops, my heart hurts for the family. 

But keeping up with the news from Afghanistan is not what this post is about.  This post is meant to honor each and every individual who took a step forward and said, "I want to defend this country."  Because without them, my kids and grandkids might not be allowed the freedom to say what they think. 

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Are you a worrier?  Do you worry about how your kids are doing in school?  About your health?  About how you are going to pay the bills?  Oh, the list can go on and on, can't it?  So now that you've answered what it is you worry about, let me ask you this... How's that workin' for you??

"Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow."

I used to worry more when I was younger.  Not a lot, but more than I do now.  Most of the time, it had to do with me being a perfectionist.  I am always harder on myself than anyone else could or would ever be.  I finally learned to ask myself this question when I realized I was worrying about something: "If I died tomorrow, is this what they would put on your gravestone?"  Somehow, as morbid as it sounds, that put everything in perspective for me.  Think about that question.  I would love my epitaph to be something like this:  Mom, Grandma, Sister, Lover, Friend - She excelled in those roles, the most important in her life. 

The only thing worry does for me is to give me a better idea of what's important to me.  Worrying about my kids doesn't prove to them I love them.  But showing them I have confidence in their decisions does.  Worrying about my health doesn't change the issue.  Talking about, and doing, what I need to do to change it does.  I know what I'm saying can sound cavalier to some.  I think some people are hardwired to worry.  But if you really think about what you accomplish by worrying, you'll realize you can take away its power.  You'll no longer say, "I can't help it.  I worry."

So for all those worriers out there, I'm going to offer the wise words of Leo Buscaglia,

"Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow,
it only saps today of its joy."

What about you?  Do you worry? 

Friday, October 1, 2010

What's YOUR Neighborhood Like??

Have you ever gone back to the town where you grew up after being away for a few years, and notice the things that have changed?  "Oh, the gas station on the corner closed up!"  or "What happened to Murphy's Tavern?  It's now a pool hall??" or "Whoa, they built a new post office??"  You knew that town.  You explored the streets when you were a teen, hangin' with your friends.  It was familiar to you.

Are you that familiar with your breasts??  (enter sound effects of car screeching to a halt).  WHAT DID SHE JUST SAY?????  Okay, stay with me for a minute.  This is one time I don't digress!!

You see, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  And a couple of years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer, so I decided that I would be a bit of a nagging angel to my friends and family when it came to getting their mammograms.  I try to send something out each year reminding them to go for their mammogram.  But monthly breast self exams (BSE's) are important, too.  BSE's allow you to learn the terrain of your breasts.  You learn what's not right when you exam them once a month. 

It's true not all breast cancer can be felt.  Especially when it's early.  I was one who would not have felt the cancer had I been doing a monthly BSE (which I wasn't).  But since going thru the surgery and radiation, I've taken a class on what to look/feel for.  I have learned the terrain, scar tissue and all.  I know my neighborhood. 

So, I'm here to nag you into
1) schedule your mammogram,
2) learn how to do a breast self-exam, and
3) learn your neighborhood. 

Don't wait til you're in your 40's or 50's.  Do it now.  Do it for your family.  Do it for you. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Embracing Imperfection

Are you a perfectionist?   Do you make lists and get a little annoyed when you can't complete everything on those lists?  Do you suffer from do-overs because what you've done isn't quite good enough?  Or do you talk yourself into not starting something because you don't have time to finish it?  Or worse, you don't allow yourself to start something because "I can't do that"?

Over the summer, Leslie at Words of Me Project had a 31 Day Challenge to inspire creativity.  She issued prompts each day to help trigger some sleeping creativity in us.  I've watched as Leslie created all kinds of beautiful, artful things.  All the while telling myself, "I can't paint/create/do that".  You see, I let the perfectionist in me have the stronger voice.

I'm ready to change that reality.  A couple of weeks ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone with my big toe.  I pulled out the mod podge and covered a composition book with some pretty paper.  Not all that extreme, in fact the design is very low key.  But this little blank book will be placed in our Lactation Station (a.k.a. The Pump Room) at work for new mothers to journal if they so desire.  Idea inspired by The Milk Memos.  But I did something I wasn't used to doing. And it felt good.

And lately, I've been hopping around looking at blogs that show "how" to art journal.  And as much as I've told myself I can't do stuff like that, I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can.  So I've gathered some acrylic paints that were on sale at Michael's and I'm going to get myself some paint brushes, grab my mod podge, embrace imperfection, and just do it.

I owe a big thanks to some of my fellow bloggers.  Thank you to Leslie, Cindi, and Leanne who toss inspiration my way.  And as I create, I will give you more links to those who inspire.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm Her Guest, I'm Her Guest

Side-by-Side, I'm With The Best

Today, I'm guest posting over at Leanne's place.  Whilst she and her family are enjoying their time in the Magic Kingdom with the Big Mouse Dude, she has entrusted some of her friends to fill the gap created by her absence!!

So my wish today is that you click on any of the links you see here to jump over and find out all about wishes.  And while you're there, check out some of Leanne's other posts.  You'll love her look at life!!!  And almost always walk away with a smile on your face!

Check out From Chaos Comes Happiness today!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Skeletons In The Closet

Do you remember the children's song about the bones in your body being connected?  "The hand bone's connected to the wrist bone, the wrist bone's connected to the arm bone..." and on it goes about "Dem Bones".  That's pretty much describes my hobbies.

It formally started when I was attending college.  I suppose the fact that I was in my 40's was one reason why this caught on with me.  We had to do a paper about our heritage.  So I pulled out the information my mother assembled years earlier (when I didn't care a wit about it) and wrote an essay about my parents and grandparents.  I think from that point on, I was hooked.  I became known in the family as the one who knew how everyone was connected.  Next thing I knew, I found myself looking for genealogy software.  I had to get this documented!!


When my mother passed, I was the one that got a lot of the "stuff".  My Dad's paystubs going back to 1957 when his take home pay each week averaged $140 and that had to feed seven people.  Old bank books and insurance payment books from my grandparents.  My great-uncle's eyeglasses and prayerbooks.   Hundreds of pictures of people, to whom I couldn't even guess on how I am related.  As I explore these documents, touching a bank book of a man who died 2 months after I was born, I tell myself, "I have to get this documented!!".  And so, my scrapbooking passion is fueled. 

Cardmaking?  That's an offshoot of scrapbooking...when you don't have time enough to complete a scrapbook page, finishing a card can give you that creative "relief" that you sometimes need when you feel like you're going to burst if you don't "DO" something.

My photography hobby?  Easy...I want to be sure that my life and our family history is documented.  I want to be sure that when my grandkids pick up pictures, it tells who is in the picture and what the story is behind that picture.  I want to be sure that the generations that I won't meet will know their past.  The best way is in pictures (with journaling). 

As for the title of this blog post, let me get to that little bit of "dirt".  In November 2003, a month after my dad's sister passed (she was the last of that generation), I received a call from a woman who had spoken with my brother and was advised to call me because "Peggy knows how everyone is connected in the family."   This woman proceeded to tell me that she was my cousin, who had been given up for adoption when another of my dad's sister's was 18 years old.  She had done her research and was willing to share it with me.  Obviously, I was skeptical.  There's no way this could be, I thought.  Nothing I'd seen up til then indicated anything like this happened.  I kept thinking about how it was only a month after the one woman who could possibly substantiate any of this was gone.  Coincidence??  A con??  

I took her number, told her I'd contact her "brother" and then we'd see where it went from there.  Calls were made, faxes were sent.  This was for real!!  When she walked into a party I was having in December, our jaws dropped.  She was the spitting image of my grandmother in this picture. 

There was no denying she was related.  Slowly, the other cousins added puzzle pieces that made this whole thing come together.

Since then, I've found other papers that spark more questions about all sorts of things in the family.  I may not have the answers, but the journey and the questions that surface are a lot of fun to contemplate!!

So, any FUN skeletons in YOUR closet??


Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 - Angels At Work

As I sit here thinking about what I want to say in today's post, I'm overwhelmed.  How do I say something unique to honor those who lost their lives nine years ago?  What I want to say has been said so many times, by so many people.  It feels trite.  But to not say it seems disrespectful. 

You see, I feel the way to honor each of those lives ended on 9/11/01 is to allow each of those angels the opportunity to create the peace in this world that we so desperately need. 

This may seem simplistic but if you don't mind, follow with me for a short journey.  Imagine you lost a loved one that day.  (I know this is not such a stretch of the imagination for many of you).  Think about the things you did, the fun you had, the way they made you feel when they walked into the room.  When you think of that, are you filled with peace or anger?  Chances are you feel the joy of that relationship.  You feel the peace in your life that your guardian angel would want for you.  You feel the peace that this world needs.

The news media these days certainly throws a lot at us to stir up anger.  Whether it's about building a mosque at Ground Zero, or burning Qurans in Florida, it seems they want to keep those fires burning.  Sometimes, the best way to extinguish those fires is to turn off the news. 

Today, I choose to honor those angels who are working double time to combat all the anger in our world.  Today, I choose to live a peaceful life.  Today, I choose to thank those whose lives were given involutarily so that they can be the angels that remind us that peace in our world starts with each of us individually.  Today, I choose joy and peace.  And today, as always, I will not forget.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tag, I'm It!!

Darn it...I've been tagged!!

Laura at The Adventures of Mr. CT and Me went and did this tag thing.  She's so new to the blogging community.  How in the hell did she get roped into that so quickly?  (I'll bet it was her sister, Leanne).  I'm not much of a fan of this tagging, but because she's a newbie, and because I'd love for you to stop by her place, I'm feeling the need to play along.  This is sort of like the emails you get from friends with 25 random questions that you have to answer and send to all your friends.  Just not a fan.  But here are my answers to Laura's questions. 

1. What is your all-time favorite movie (the one that you can watch over and over, when just hearing it in the back ground is enough to imagine exactly what is happening on the screen)?

I've got a lot of faves, but I think "Pretty Woman" would have to be my all-time fave. Actually I love almost every movie that Julia Roberts is in.

2. Tell me about one Halloween costume you remember wearing as a child.

Would you believe I can't think of even one?  As some of you know, Halloween has never been a holiday I've embraced.  Maybe there's a connection between not liking the day and not remembering a costume.  Last time I dressed was when my daughter was in 1st grade and I was room mother.  I was a witch!!  Go figure!

3. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because I thought it was another piece of social media that I wanted to know about.  I was on medical leave from my job, set that as one of my goals whilst I was out. Can't say that what I write about is all that deep, but it means something to me.  And I'm delighted when it means something to someone else.

4. What makes you happy?

The first thing I think about when I need to have a dose of happy are my grandkids.  They absolutely energize me.  I read somewhere once that grandkids can actually change your hormone balance.  That certainly explains a lot.  Seeing my kids happy makes me happy.  Meeting up with my siblings makes me happy, as long as it's not too often (my brother, Terry, will get that).  ;)  And getting to the basics (not the everyday grind), knowing I will spend the rest of my life with my guy makes me very happy. 


5. If you were able to go back in time, where would you go and why?

I'd travel to Ireland, to see how and where my great-grandparents lived.  Went there once with my daughter to find the homestead, but I'm not sure we found it.  And that makes me sad.  I would love to just sit down with them to know about their life. 

6. What was the last thing you bought at the grocery store?

I'm so incredibly lucky to say that I rarely go to the grocery store.  My honey does most of the shopping.  I honestly can't remember the last time I was there. If I were to guess, I'd say I bought yogurt.  (Doesn't THAT sound healthy?!?!)

7. How do you take your coffee? (If you don’t drink coffee … wait, let me get a handle on that … YOU DON’T DRINK COFFEE??? Ok, if you don’t drink coffee, then what is your favorite beverage?)

My summer favorite has been Starbucks Caramel Frappuchino.  Then I moved to Caramel LIGHT Frappuchino (no whipped cream) but with a little extra caramel sauce.  My cold weather favorite might be Caramel Macchiato.  I guess I love caramel in my coffee.

8. Brag a little . . . tell me about a recent RAK (random act of kindness) that you took part in.

Here's my thoughts about RAK's.  You just do them but you don't talk about them. 

Well, that fulfills the "answer the questions" part of the tag.  But to be honest, I don't have anyone that I can now tag, because my blog friends have all been tagged by others.  So, I guess the tag stops here!! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Happy Dance

This is one of the best videos I've ever seen on youTube.  You can't help but want to get up and dance!!
Enjoy!! (Turn your speakers up!!)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

3 Words I Love

Leslie from Words of Me Project inspired her followers to join her in a 31 Day Challenge to write, create, be.  Her day 2 challenge was to choose three words that you love and create some word art with them.  My three words were Serenity, Gratitude and Dream. 
I decided to work just a little out of my comfort zone in creating the word art.  I used paints.  Not sure at all that I'm comfortable with them yet.  But this is the wall hanging I've completed. 

It will hang in my "Craft Cave" and serve as a reminder to me of what's really important.  Just saying these words can de-stress me.  So, what words de-stress you???

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Practicing Gratitude

Hello again!!  Yes it's been a couple of weeks since I've posted.  I've been a little busy at work, trying to get our high schoolers registered and started!!  It's taken almost six months, but after having interaction with nearly 1700 families (with at least a third of them waiting til the week before school to register) they are in school and things have finally slowed down a bit. 

This time away has made me think about all the things I've missed when my main focus has been my job.  This morning, I had an opportunity to enjoy a video that Brene Brown has on her blog.  Brene has done research on authenticity, shame and vulnerability.  It's an interesting 17 minute video that explains why so many of us have difficulty being authentic in our lives.  Also interesting is that Leslie from Words of Me Project has chosen "authentic" as her one word for this weekend.

One of the things Brene mentions in her video is how to become authentic by practicing gratitude.  I've been a little lax in that area lately.  So I'm glad to have taken a little time this weekend to sit and ponder about the things that really ring my chimes, float my boat, give me flight...you get it!

Things like this little girl vocalizing so loudly as she laid on the floor and watched her mommy on the phone, that I was unable to hear what my daughter was saying,

and like this little guy deciding that life is moving too fast to take the time to call me "Grandma" so he now calls me "Gram" (after all, we are talking about saving the time it takes to speak another syllable),

and this not so little guy who is starting 7th grade with his new school supplies that I've happily shopped for each year (this is a joy for me...I don't want to give up the school supply shopping)

and these two who have made me realize that, in spite of what may have been mistakes in raising them, have given me such joy and pride in being able to say I am their mother,

and this man who has truly been my rock and who after watching "Juno" last night and hearing the dad say "Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with." says "That's right" (hmmm...)

and brothers and sisters, their spouses, kids and their spouses, and grandkids (26 in all) who have a most special place in my heart and who can't be shown here because a) I don't have an "All In The Family" picture of them and b) I don't have their permission to post their pics,

and last but certainly not least, a very electic group of friends who, when I am at my worst, always see my best!!!

It is for these and so much more, I am grateful.  My life is incredibly blessed.  And when I remember to express my gratitude, to feel how truly blessed I am, I find serenity.  I guess you could say my cup runneth over!!
One of the challenges from the 31 Days Challenge at Words of Me Project was to come up with a list of 50 things I value.  Well, listed above are just a few.  I'll share more with you in the coming days.  In the meantime, please feel free to share with me what you value in your life.

Thanks for stopping back, and thanks for hanging in there with me!!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another Day of Random Thoughts

I ask you... would you pay $150, wake up at 4:30 a.m., travel in fog so thick that you can't see farther than a block, to compete in a competition where you end up looking like this??? 

For 4 of the past 6 years, my daughter and her girlfriend have participated in Muddy Buddy-Chicago.  It takes place in August each year and it's a ride/run competition (As one rides a bike, the other runs, then they switch halfway thru the course).  And there's a twist...

When both team members have completed their ride and run, they meet up at the mud pit.  That's right, they need to crawl thru the mud together in order to complete their race.  Now, this is on a large farm so there's no telling what's mixed in with that mud!!  But these girls love it.  And they're good!  Two of the four years they were 1st in their age group.  I am still in awe of how athletic my daughter is.  Although I'd be delighted to say that she gets it from me but no... that would be... mmm...inaccurate! 

A couple of weeks ago, we attended a wedding out of state.  One of the things we happened upon during our drive was this:
Is it just me, or does anyone else find a windfarm fascinating??  I'm so excited at the thought of renewable energy.  I'm amazed that anyone can see this as "ruining the landscape".  A new friend mentioned that she doesn't mind seeing them, but doesn't want to hear them.  (Yes, they do make noise, depending on how fast they turn).  And did you know that in high winds, they shut the turbines down?  You get these babies moving too fast and they're likely to explode!!

It figures...I join Leslie at Words of Me Project for her 31 Days Write, Create, Be. challenge and I feel like most days, I'm coming up with nothing!!  I know most bloggers have days like this, but I feel like I can't even finish a post in a day!  Nope, not complaining.  Just looking forward to the turnaround that happens when you come out of writer's block. 

So I guess this is enough rambling.  There were more random thoughts I had when I sat down, but once again, they have now vacated this place I call a brain.  See what I mean?  I know I need to write it down.  Now where's that pad of paper??

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Night in the Cellar

I know I've talked about this before, so my long time followers will understand.  I'm so excited!!  Tonight, I'm spending it in the cellar.  No, not a wine cellar.  The Scrapbook Cellar, silly!! 

My friend Laura graciously offers her basement/cellar/converted craft room for our monthly (roughly) getaway to help us explore our creativity.  It's there that I join her, her sister Leanne, and Cindi E in an evening of inspired creativity, snacking (with chocolate as a staple), kvetching (yes, even crafty, upbeat people have issues), and laughter (at times, side-aching laughter).  I have to say, spending time with these very talented ladies is truly one of the most enjoyably creative evenings I've ever had.  I am so incredibly grateful for all they do for me. 

And one more thing...Laura's husband, CT is just about the best hubby around for putting up with this invasion each month.  He helps us by hauling our bags (those of you who scrap know perfectly well that scrapbookers rarely travel light) down and back up the stairs, running out for our lunch or dinner, and delivering any packages that just might arrive during our session.  He's just a good guy.  We love ya, CT!! 

So tonight, I think I will draw some inspiration and maybe try to venture out into a new area.  Inspired by Leslie's 31 Day Challenge, I might try to paint some background paper.  I'll see how I'm feeling at the time.  If anything wonderful comes from it, I'll post it tomorrow!

And one thing I really need to do is get my head around doing some heritage pages.  I've got a promise with another scrapping friend to get together to work on heritage pages, now that she knows she doesn't need to do them "in order". 

What's not to love about Fridays?!?!  And what are your plans for the weekend???

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Create...Therefore, I Am!

Today, I begin a 31 Day adventure proposed by Leslie at Words of Me Project.  Leslie is inspiring her blog friends to join her in a journey to find their creative side.  All I need to do is spend at least 5 minutes each day in a creative frame of mind.  Whether it's writing, scrapbooking, cardmaking, or painting....er...strke that painting suggestion.  Not sure that'll do it for me.
The point is, when you spend a little time each day creating, it makes it easier for you to tackle the things in your life you find less "creative".  Y'know...like laundry.  Or dishwashing.  Or dusting.  You get the idea. 
So I think tonight I'm going to review some recent pictures I've taken and see if I can create!
If I come up with something, I'll come back and post it here. 

Feel free to join us in this little journey.  Just stop by Leslie's place for a prompt!   It'll be fun to see what others are doing.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Everything Old is New Again

It's been an interesting journey going thru old boxes that held items that my parents decided were important enough to save.  Things like keys (and to what do these belong???), eyeglasses (probably my dad's but might have also been my uncle's), religious scapulars, a dance book from Lane Senior Prom, the hospital crib tags when my little brother was born, and a Catholic's pocket manual (Seriously??  A Manual?? Like a manual to fix a car??) 


I also found some class pictures (probably my mom's) and other pictures of people I'm clueless to identify.

All were kept in this very old, very heavy suitcase. 


I suspect this case made its way to the U.S. from Ireland in the hands of my Uncle John when he emigrated to the U.S. and became a citizen in 1935.  Before I came to that conclusion, I was considering getting rid of it.  Now, I have second thoughts. Maybe it's not an antique, but it's a part of my history. 

So today, I've come up with a solution.  It will start a new life.  It will house my scrapbooks.  Now, I could go to Hobby Lobby this week and get 50% off a decorative trunk.  But I've got something better.  Whether or not this case originally lived in Ireland, or whether it started its life here, it's part of my history.  So I'm keeping it!!  And using it!  And remembering! 

And I guess that's my creativity for the day!  So, have you taken something from your past and found a new purpose for it in your life?  I'd love to hear about it!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Creativity - Are You In????

Well, we've finished installing the shelving in the craft closet, so I can start to get my craft room back in order.  And just in the nick of time.  You see, a fellow blogger has issued a challenge.  Leslie at Words of Me Project has proposed a creativity challenge that will last for 31 days beginning on July 26.  During those 31 days, we are to do something creative every day.  Whether it's writing in your journal, scrapbooking or cardmaking, painting (yes, painting walls counts), gardening, photography or whatever else is in your creative veins.  Maybe it's a little bit of each. 
By the end of the 31 days, by taking the time to care for yourself, you are happier and healthier for it.  How can you go wrong??
So I'm in!!  I'm going to spend 31 days finding something creative to do, each and every day.  It might be taking some pictures, or creating some cards, or penning some deep thoughts!!  And I'll post some of it here. 

Would you like to join in this challenge??

OH, and along with my search for a new look to my blog, I've been encouraged by Leanne at From Chaos Comes Happiness to add a button.  She's the genius behind making buttons work, so I'll need her help to make this happen.  Watch for my button in the next day or two!!  It'll look something like this:
I guess I'm getting a head start on this creativity challenge!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

After Awhile You Learn

Going thru piles of old papers, shredding/recycling most of it, I came across this poem that my daughter emailed to me back in 1998, when she was a freshman in college.  Her note attached said it made her think of two people, me and her English IV teacher.  I wanted to share this with you.  I found it comforting:

After awhile you learn 
that what you really are
 is all the experiences
 and all the thoughts
 you've ever had
 and all the people
 who have touched your life,
 no matter how briefly.
And after awhile you learn
 that troubles are temporary
 and relationships
 aren't always permanent. 
You learn that many people
come into your life
and fade into forgetfulness,
while others remain
as warm places in your heart. 
You learn to forgive the bad times
and overcome the resentments.
And you learn to live
with love in your heart
for the good times
and for good friends
who may not be present,
but who never go away,
because the warmth of their friendship
and their essence lives within you
and becomes a part of what you are."

I've searched and can't find the author, so if anyone knows, please let me know. I'd be happy to add the credit!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Random Thoughts

  • Having a dream about the death of a friend of a friend is disturbing. Especially when you're pretty sure the friend of your friend is pretty healthy.  Do you tell your friend about your dream and risk upsetting him, too?
  • Crawling up into the attic (thanks to help from my older grandson) is sort of like a treasure hunt.  Things have been up there for so long you forget what's there.  It can be both a sad and a joyous adventure.  And a walk down memory lane.
  • I'm hooked on Starbucks' Caramel Frappuchinos. 
  • Once you forget about expressing gratitude every day, you open the door for the negativity to walk right in.  Makes getting angry so much easier.  YUCK!!
  • Having a weekly chat with a friend sort of centers me and gets me focused all over again.  I hope I give her the same "feel-good" feeling. 
  • It is amazing how spending time with your grandkids will fill you with such joy that it changes your outlook on everything!!
  • Accomplishing some long neglected things around the house gives me an incredible high.  I love marking things off my to-do (or as Leanne says, TA-DA) list. 
  • Digi-scrapping can be the quick fix to fulfill the creative need.  I've found that I enjoy digi-scrapping while my beloved PG sits watching TV.  We can both be in the same room, yet do what we enjoy.
  • I love making pasta sauce, love the way my house smells as it cooks and even though it was a weird day to be make it (given that it was 90 outside), I'm glad I took the time!
  • I've begun a daily gratitude email with my girlfriend.  We make sure we tell each other each day what we are grateful for.  First steps in getting the law of attraction to bring you more of what you can be grateful for.
So, if you were emailing me your gratitude for the day, what would it be??

Monday, July 5, 2010

Two Raisins

I participated in a mindfulness study a couple of years ago.  Women with breast cancer were invited to this study to see whether practicing mindfulness regularly would make a difference in immune system activity.  We were taught how to meditate, a little yoga, and other mindful exercises.

On the first night, as these dozen women sat in a circle, we briefly shared our journeys that led us to become participants in this study.  Once we got to know a little about each other, it was time to begin with a little exercise I've since nicknamed, "Two Raisins."  The leader placed two raisins in our hands, and she would then coach us in "mindfully experiencing" these raisins. But as she placed those raisins in MY hand, I looked at them, looked up and looked right into the eyes of the girl directly across from me.  The one sitting right next to the leader.  Gina.  And when I looked into her eyes I saw the same thing my eyes must have been telling her.  Neither of us liked raisins!!  She mouthed "I hate raisins".  We both smiled.

At the break, Gina and I sat and talked.  We talked about life with breast cancer and she shared what her life had been like dealing with metastatic breast cancer.  We talked about our families.  We connected.  I loved her smile.  I loved her outlook on life's obstacles.  I loved hearing how she reestablished her relationship with her dad because of her cancer. I got angry with her sister (even though I'd never met her) when her sister was a little too blunt about survival rates for her type of cancer.  We just connected. 

When the study was completed 8 weeks later, we kept in contact via e-mail.  Not often.  Mostly as an update on what she was next going thru for treatment.  Tried to get together a couple of times, but the timing just didn't work out. 

As I was watching TV last night, I saw a commercial that reminded me of Gina.  And I realized it had been a while since I'd received an update.  Checked my last sent email, and it was last November.  Hmmmm... she'd never gone that long before.  I googled her name.  And found her obituary.  My heart felt crushed.

You know that expression that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime?  I met Gina for a reason.  And I think I know what that reason is.  When I think of her, I think of serenity.  I think of peace.  And I smile.

God bless your family, Gina.  You certainly showed your daughters how to live a full life, no matter how short it might be.  And thank you for coming into my life.  It may have been brief, but it sure was a joy to know you.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating our Independence!

When I was in high school, I really couldn't get the whole significance of studying history. SNOOOOOOZER classes.  Somewhere along the way to having grown kids, I found history.  Maybe it was a combination of scrapbooking and genealogy and realizing that, duh, my ancestors had something to do with history!!  Not sure!  But when I think about what was involved in making this country free, I'm amazed. 

One of the best movies that I've seen about our country's struggles to become independent was the movie "John Adams" released in 2008.  It's a multi-part made for TV movie, so you need to take it in small doses, but it's really a great look at the sacrifices these people made to break free from their ties with England.

This may make me sound like a mega-dork, but I have always felt a tug at my heart when I hear and sing the Star Spangled Banner.  And when I pledge allegiance, I feel the allegiance.  I love this country.  I love that there were men who sat around discussing what it meant to be free.  I love that they decided to put it on paper.   
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
On this day the celebration of our independence, I just want to say a prayer and thank those who have fought for our freedom. And in this crazy time when there are threats to change the interpretation of that constitution, I pray that those whose voices have long been silent will step forward to be heard.

To my dear blog friends, I hope you have a fun filled weekend celebrating your freedom with your family and friends.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!