Sunday, December 3, 2023

START YOUR DAY WITH A SMILE



 START YOUR DAY WITH A SMILE


This statement is so very true. Sometimes, I must be reminded of it by making myself just stop and think about what it is saying and all that I have to be grateful for and exactly why I not only 'should' be smiling but what happens when I do.

The example that I am going to scribble down today happened to me early Saturday. I was up and ready to be on the road to get to the train station at 6:45 AM. So happy to be riding The City of New Orleans down to see all of the Brownies. (This is my nickname for my son and his wife and my precious twin granddaughters.) Lucky for me, my SIL mapped out the route to avoid the closed roads for the St. Jude Marathon. We had no trouble at all. That helped to put a smile on my face even though I had lost something that I really needed to take with me the night before. My sweet youngest granddaughter searched everywhere at our home with her Mom after we left and crawling on the floor she found it. Jenni called me to tell me on our ride to Central Station but there was no turning back. I thanked her profusely and I knew that it was not the end of the world to wait until I returned to take care of this issue. Plus, I told her that she would receive a reward for her Piggy Bank for finding it. So the smile went back on my face.

Craig and I made it to approximately where the train car was that I would be riding in and my suitcase handle that made it easy to pull the wheeled luggage along did not want to cooperate. Finally, he got it out but when we got to my car, the attendant, nor Craig could get the long handle to go back down. The accommodating attendant, with a SMILE on her face, said there was no problem even though it would not fit with the long handle opened in the luggage compartment. She took it to an empty room where it would be safe. All I needed to do was to remind her where it was when I arrived in New Orleans.



I was still smiling, like a kid in a candy shop on my peaceful train ride to see the Brownies. The one thing that was on my mind is that the last time I was on this train ride, my ticket was marked assistance needed for the disabled. I had crutches that I needed at times for my arthritic knees. This time, I was so grateful to be able to step up on the train, tote my own carry-on luggage (a backpack that held my small handbag too). Also, the bedrooms and roomettes were all the dog-legged steps to the top of the train. I always get the bedroom, that is a little more private plus has the bathroom in the room. That is very nice to not walk down the aisles of the moving train to the public bathroom that sometimes has a line. 

Getting to my room and getting settled felt really good. I had about 20 minutes before the train would be moving along. My attendant told me where the coffee was just down the aisle if I wanted some  before breakfast was served. I walked down to get my coffee. I passed the car restroom and commented that I was so thankful that I had my own. She politely told me that not one single individual or public restroom on my car was working. She repeated to definitely NOT use any of them. By then the train was moving slowly. DANG! I figured that I had better follow her directions down the aisleway to the next car where there was a line to use the bathroom. REALLY? By the time I made it close to the door a man in front of me saw that I was leaning on the wall and let me go ahead of him. He was waiting for his son to come out. A woman behind me told me that she and her husband got the bedroom with the bathroom in it due to him having stomach issues and needing to be close by a restroom. (Good luck with that one!) 

Already, just a couple of hours from starting my day, I had been given so many reasons to smile and to be grateful. I had a choice to make. Be grumpy and use extra muscles to frown and be a Debbie Downer, or to count all of my gratitudes and smile to share with the world. It is so true that if you start your day with a smile then the day will smile back at you. There would be time to talk to Customer Support on Monday when they opened. I remember listening to Steve solve issues and his motto was that you catch more flies with sugar. No employee on this train could solve this problem. Time to deal with this when I call on Monday.

Everyone in the car that I was riding in were all were moaning and groaning. I actually closed my sliding door to drown them out. Taking a cue from my attendant as she smiled and was pleasant through all of the passengers' complaining: 'Be strong. You never know who you are inspiring.' She definitely inspired me. I, in turn, wanted to be an inspiration for others also. Sometimes it works and if it doesn't then that is just the way that cookie will crumble. At least I know that I tried. The bonus was that it made ME feel better. Call it 'cheesy' if you wish. But this meme is how I was feeling. What is the point of getting an attitude about this situation that no one could control at this moment.



I made it to New Orleans, walked the length of the train up to the station instead of being taken in golf cart with my luggage and crutches only to meet up with my son, Doug, Emma and Hazel. What a wonderful start to being in New Orleans with my family. 

Home to unpack, freshen up and amazingly still have enough energy to change clothes and head out to a fun Christmas party with Doug and Lizzie. 




ALWAYS!

Sunday, November 26, 2023

WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

 WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

 What exactly is Thanksgiving all about? In general, I would think that it is a large group of us in the United States that believe it is a long list of things such as:

food, food, and more food

football

family

friends

Macy's Day parade

decorating for the holidays

resting

Black Friday shopping

Those are some of the things that come to my mind. I do remember my first Thanksgiving with Steve. I asked him, quite innocently, about what did his family do for the Thanksgiving. Without a blink of an eye he said that they celebrated because they sent all of the 'Yanks' off in ships to America. 

I fell for that one BIG TIME. He graciously always celebrated Thanksgiving with me and my family. Sometimes it was just the two of us and other times it was a very large crowd. He even joined in by making some of his own unique British dishes, such as real roast potatoes. They quickly became one of the favorite dishes of everyone at our gatherings. 

Over the years we tried many different ways of celebrating. Some traditions we kept, while others were tweaked here and there. 



I miss our Thanksgivings together. I miss being with him - just plain and simple. All the times together. Now we have new celebrations in different ways. Still good and I still hold him in my heart always. Thinking how he would get a big kick out of his granddaughters and his daughter and sons. His granddaughters all remember him and mention him in such sweet ways and their own memories. 



He would have enjoyed watching the four granddaughters playing outside when the weather permitted. Going on the long walk with them around the lake with the dogs. On the rainy day we all headed for Neon Memphis Monster Miniature Golf. Inside neon monsters based on the Memphis music scene - right up his alley. Probably he would have joined me staying home when they headed to the new Troll movie. I enjoyed just having a little quiet time and preparing a pot of chili for the rainy gray and chilly day. We also had quite a few good leftovers so it was a free for all kind of night for dinner.






Lots of football to watch. Kids played games. And then by the actual day of Thanksgiving they had to get back home to New Orleans and we headed out to even more family for a big get-together. This time there were eleven humans and six dogs. We brought our two and others were there also. The food was wonderful and everyone was having a very grateful Thanksgiving. We all had a lot to be thankful for. Blessed? Yes! 

It was a gorgeous Fall day. So most of us were outside enjoying the sunshine, with our lightweight jackets. The dogs were totally having the time of their lives, just running around and being happy in the big fenced yard. However, we all witnessed a crazy little "love" thing going on. One very handsome golden retriever named Finley seemed to fall totally in love with our goldendoodle, Maggie Mae. He followed her everywhere, kissing her on her ears, watching her every move and never leaving her side. 



After eating, watching football, watching the dogs and kids playing we headed home for some quiet time. The next day we planned on decorating and decorating we did. Everyone got involved. Craig took care of the outside lighting and we worked on the inside.








Just as we had a special place for Steve's stocking with our Moms' stockings, we decided to put Davis' stocking on the stairs with the other two dogs. He was with us last year but we lost him not long afterwards. It really brings tears to my eyes when I think about the wonderful memories of the holidays before they left us. And, that is how Steve would want it...tears of joy and happiness in remembering and celebrating...no sadness. Easier said than done but I am working on it. The good memories are easy. Wanting more? Yes, I do. Is that selfish? Maybe. But these are my honest feelings. To still want hugs and kisses and talks and hearing and saying I love you...They must be in my heart and dreams and they always will be.

When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them but to live with the love they left behind.

AND WOW - STEVE and DAVIS LEFT LOADS!


 💕

Sunday, November 19, 2023

BE PROUD

 BE PROUD



At this time in my life, I know that I am making my tomorrow self proud with what I am doing today. It is totally awesome to feel this way. Why? It makes me happy. Happiness in all of our lives is so very important. It has been proven as a factor to help in living longer. Add that to what I am working on for my own health? Now, I am hoping to at least be more comfortable within myself. Losing 80 pounds is a really good start. Not only do I feel happier; let's just say I feel the weight of the world off of my shoulders...and my knee joints, and my back, and my feet. The list goes on and on.

If I start from the beginning, about 7 months ago I made a commitment to myself to do something about my weight. It was making me so UNHAPPY. Finally, the clothes that I had in my closet no longer fit. I was needing to go up to the next category - what I called the 'Big Mama' clothes. I can say that for me it was a wake up call. I do not mean to offend anyone who is in that category of clothing. It just was not for me. I will never judge anyone else and I expect the same from others concerning me. Others never know about what may be going on in the lives of other people unless they have walked in their shoes.

For me, I had a little weight to lose before the love of my life passed away unexpectedly. Not a whole lot of weight. I knew that I could work on it and actually had already started watching the carbs and such to work on. Without even realizing what I was doing, I went into an emotional eating disorder. Those are my words now as I look back. If anyone had said anything to me, I can assure you that I would not have listened and would have been in total denial. It took me, myself and I to finally see the 'LIGHT.'

It took me a while to get on board with my journey for the rest of my life. I had a very good friend who took the journey three years earlier and looked fantastic. I never realized that she had 45 or so pounds to lose. She did not appear to be overweight to me. Of course, I was looking through my rose colored glasses. Plus, the second amazing thing was that she had kept the weight off now for over 3 years. That was the key. Learning a lifestyle of eating habits. It is a matter of not living to eat but eating to live.

Yes, I agree, that it is nice to enjoy a good meal of some of our favorite foods. Spacing those 'good foods' is the trick; along with portion control. 


One way that I try to make my tomorrow self proud is by working on something challenging to me (such as taking this life journey of healthy eating and losing extra weight). All the while focusing on my purpose for doing it vs. indulging in self-doubt. It can be a matter of practicing gratitude and reaching out to connect with others. I have discovered there is a whole community of others who are following this journey that I have chosen for my health. 

At the end of the day, what really matters isn't what others think of me. What matters is how I feel about me. That is when I know that thinking about my future self is helpful because it changes my perspective and increases the timeline so that I am able to see the impact of my actions. I know that I want to be healthier so is it worth it to drive my car through the drive-thru window and get some fries? My tomorrow self shouts out a big fat, "NO!"

Words such as create, inspire, balance, smile and progress, along with so many others are words that I reflect on as I think about continuing my journey and are what help to make me proud of me.


It is all about changing up my overall lifestyle. A new mindset, so to speak. And then to be proud of the changes. 



Sunday, November 12, 2023

WHERE IS YOUR EMOTIONAL ENERGY LEVEL?

 WHERE IS YOUR EMOTIONAL ENERGY LEVEL?

There are people in all of our lives that just fill us up with positive energy. They uplift us. They are fun to be around and give us support and love. I am sure that everyone could name at least five people who have this characteristic. They can be people that you work with, people who are neighbors or friends. They can be people in your family. 

These people all have similar traits such as being understanding of your feelings, always looking on the brighter side, quick to forgive, understanding and encouraging.

In other words, they build our energy levels up high. We want to be around them. It is always good to share in this endeavor. Why? Because we do live in a self-serving, self-centered, and self-obsessed modern day society. Everyone rushing here and rushing there. It is always a good idea to try to differentiate  ourselves in this kind of world. If we all try to become more people oriented then I believe that is where we will start to build a better world - one person at a time.


Start with working on learning how to be happy yourself. Once you are then you will not want to be around people who make you feel anything less.


People who support and love us make us feel happier. It is a circle of happiness. These are the kinds of people that we all want to be around. It also is what each of us should strive for. Our inner atmosphere either fuels others with energy or drains them. Which would you rather be?

We all have known people who are like a dark gray cloud hanging over us. It almost seeps inside of us if we allow it to. It is much nicer to feel the sunshine.

To do this it is important to know what signs to look out for when others are energy vampires.


How do we survive energy vampires? First, look out for those who don't take any accountability. Often, they are very charismatic and know how to slink out of trouble with their charm. They tend to always be involved in some kind of drama and find themselves in the middle of a major catastrophe quite often. They try to drag others around them into the drama with them. Know anyone like this?

Another type of energy vampire just never seems to have good news. If you asked them politely, "How are you today?" Don't expect a short answer. They will go into lengthy health details of everything that is wrong with them. If you allow it to happen, they will drain your energy levels and cause you the stress that has built up in their bodies and minds.


The bottom line is that we all need to be able to recognize these behaviors in others and put an end to it in order to protect our own health and well-being. We all have choices to make and their burdens are not ours to bear. Adjusting our expectations will help and establishing the boundaries. 

Have you ever had a check in time with yourself just to help you to know where your own energy level is? That let's us know if we need to adjust it. Asking ourselves whether we wish to be the uplifting friend or the energy zapper vampire - then choosing who it is that we want to be around. It sets it all into motion.

Here is a quote that is a great reminder:



Sunday, November 5, 2023

HAPPINESS

 HAPPINESS





That statement seems to be very positive. And it is. It also is sometimes easier said than done for many. Really, it is all about knowing what has been found as the key to happiness. A Harvard study that has been going on for 85 years discovered that it is not money, not achievements, not success, and it is not even about where you live or the number of sunshiny days that we have. There may be some people who would argue that last point. There are therapists who see people who have legitimate depression and are prescribed seasonal therapy lamps for those who need help through depression based on lack of sunshine.

The study found that the #1 contributor to happiness is having strong positive relationships in your life. When I stop and think about it, my happiest moments are when I am with other people. The people that I love. The people that make me feel good. These people can be people in my family or neighbors, or co-workers. In general, they are people who make me feel good and hopefully being around me makes them feel good too. It reminds me of the song that Barbra Streisand sings: People Who Need People Are the Luckiest People In the World. And who is going to argue with those words. Why? Because it is true.


Some of my most happiest moments were most definitely with the love of my life. It could be alone time with him or together with him and others who made us happy to be around, whether it be family or friends. When we were going through the pandemic, we were together constantly, as many families were. It definitely was better than being home all alone. At least we had each other. And it made us happy to be together. 


When you are with those that make you happy, of course they give you peace of mind. Not so much 'the things' that will make us happy but 'the things' that people bring to the relationship. That is the true feeling of peace of mind. I know that when I no longer had Steve in my life, physically, the hardest part of healing was working on recovering "the me" that went away with him. In order to be happy this was something that I had to work on. It is a part of the grieving process. It is different for everyone. No time limits on each step of the way. It is important thought to eventually get to finding the 'you' and being happy. Our loved ones would want it that way. So let's just end on that note:


Saturday, October 28, 2023

GOING FORWARD - NOT LOOKING BACK

 GOING FORWARD

NOT LOOKING BACK


Mary Engelbreit said it well. But how do we move our lives forward? Sometimes, it seems overwhelming just trying to decide what direction to take when it comes to making decisions in our lives. It does not come easy for most of us. I know that I watch others around me and it seems to be 'second nature' to them. As if they have an innate sense of where they are headed, such as their career or where to live or even whom to marry. I did not know until the third time. And as for my career decision? That is a whole different blog. From a high school senior all the way through college, I changed my mind at least ten times. 

If you are more like me (and many others,) then join in the group that a research team called 'dabblers.' This group never seems to be able to stick to just one choice. We travel through life changing lanes and taking up new interests on a regular basis. We seem to skim the surface of things. For me, it is to be able to enjoy as many different experiences as possible. I have noticed though, that it is hard to get things completed in this mode of operation. There are ways to overcome this so that we can move forward in our lives.

One way is to go ahead and totally commit to the decision for a month. Each day for a month schedule 30 - 60 minutes to work solely on the project. This can be a job search or research on different opportunities. Or it could be painting techniques to use, even a neighborhood or city that you may be interested in moving to. Then, make a list and pick the one idea that stands out the most. Here is where the dabblers have trouble. Flip a coin if you must. The idea is to just choose something. If the idea is only in our heads, there is no way of knowing if it is for us or not. I am the famous 'list maker.' I do pros and cons list on my decisions on whether to go this way or that way.

It is important to not rule things out totally too quickly. If something isn't working or making me happy it is easier for me to just ditch it than to spend time thinking about what I would need to make it work for me. The important thing for me is to remember not to bail out too fast before giving it a chance. Become a problem solver, so to speak. Not always easy for me to come up with other possible solutions to what I had already planned and set into motion. Even if the plan was not working. It is just more simple for me to scrap it than to revamp it. That is definitely something important for me to work on. 

Really, it is a matter of being flexible to go to Plan B and then Plan C and maybe Plan D? I am ready to jump out and bail before giving things a chance. I must remember that I can do almost anything if I do the work, but it is worth remembering that some things are much more difficult and competitive than others'. WOW! Do I ever know that? Example? My novel writing. And no, I have not given up. I am only rethinking and doing the problem solving myself. I feel confident that I will accomplish my goal.

Sometimes people fear that when they commit to one option that they are stuck with it forever. There is such a thing as a compromise. As my novel has evolved, I have added compromises...many, many times over and over and over. So now, as of the writing of this blog, I am ready to move forward. There is no looking back and saying, "I should've, I could've, if only I would've." JUST DO IT!




Sunday, October 22, 2023

A LOVE LETTER

 A LOVE LETTER 



Steve,

It is very hard for me to grasp the fact that as of Monday, October 23rd, you have not been in my life. It was all so sudden and so unexpected. There is not a day that goes by that I do not talk to you or write to you in my daily journal. I have tried to keep the same routine that you and I had of writing in our journals as our dinner was cooking. 

So much of my life has changed without you. Missing someone who passed away is a whole different type of heartache. You would be so proud of your daughter and her family who have stepped up and tried living here in our home to help me get through the grief. Then we discovered that yes, this will work permanently. I know that you hear your granddaughters, especially the youngest one, as she puts her hands together and prays to you out loud, her "Smiley." You will forever be in their hearts. Even our granddaughters down in New Orleans, who we did not get to see nearly as often, still talk about their "Smiley." It does my heart good.

And, I believe that you had something to do with how things worked out in our home. It is now a home of 5. We do things a lot differently than when it was just the two of us. There are now two children living here. This alone makes our home such a happy place. From the saxophone playing (sort of, kind of - she is a beginner in the Middle School band) to the youngest one who is now the Karate Kid! Very active lifestyles with volleyball, drama clubs, etc. Truly, I know in my heart that you knew this is what I needed and helped to make that all happen. Luckily, this house works perfectly due to the size of it for them to live upstairs, just as Tom did before he moved into his own place.

I know that I have to let go of having you by my side. Holding your hand, talking face to face. But I will never let go of loving you, remembering you, honoring you and missing you. It's hard missing you. But, I know that missing you means that I was lucky. It means that I had someone so very special in my life, someone worth missing!

My mind still talks to you. My heart still looks for you. My soul knows you are at peace. But I still miss you. When I lost you, I have never gotten over it. I am slowly learning how to go on without you but you are always tucked safely in my heart. 

You were taken from me much too soon. I think of you all the time and talk to you. What I wouldn't give to hear your voice, just one last time. I miss your laugh. I miss everything about you. I will always love you deeply. A quote from Cindy Adkins in the book Angels at My Door sums it up well.



There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart!

Mahatma Gandhi