Friday, September 30, 2016

The Three S's

There are three very important words that will help your spirit stay healthy and happy.  They are:  SUN, SAND, and SURF!  Research has been done on this fact, not that I needed some scientist telling me about why it is so good for me.  Just think about how it makes you feel.

There are some very scientific reasons that I do not plan on delving into deeply.  Just trust me or go and google it for yourself.  One fact is that going to the ocean gives you the 'Magnificent 3,' which are magnesium, vitamin D and iodine. (I don't know about you, but I had rather get my vitamin D at the beach instead of a green gel pill that my doctor prescribes to boost that vitamin in my body!)  We need all of these in our bodies to be healthy.  Salt water also heals cuts and scrapes, with only a short little sting, and then it is all better, you are at the beach after all.  And what is even better is that you don't have to go in every day to reap some of the benefits.  Just breathing in the air helps. The sea mist travels through your respiratory system.  Who knew?

Did you know that the salt water is a natural exfoliant for your skin, which includes your scalp?  And who does not want that sometimes elusive 'beach hair' look?  The salt water and air gives it to us naturally.  It is a rather laid back kind of look and atmosphere wherever you go at the beach.  You are not at work.  You may be absorbing some good reading material and having a lunchtime brew, just because you can (not talking about tea)!  If you feel any guilt at all, there is the wonderful sand to take a walk on and burn some calories.  You really do use more muscles walking in sand then on a treadmill or other flat service.  Plus, as you breathe in, the air is so good for your nasal passages.  That fresh sea air will give you marvelous deep sleep.

Psychologically, you know it is good for you.  The calming of the ocean sounds relieves stress almost immediately.  It helps you connect with yourself.  Brain wave patterns are actually altered by ocean wave sounds.  If life is truly a beach, then why aren't we always walking on it and living in bliss?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Do Positive

The background noise is deafening!  All I can hear is, "Oh, no! Here she goes again with that Think Positive stuff."  Well, here is my little secret...I know who you are.  How, you may ask?  It shows in your words and your comments, plus your outlook on life in general.  I try to overlook it most of the time.  You may not want my sympathy, yet I can't help but to feel sorry for you.  No one can live a positive life with a negative mind.  

For anyone who asks themselves why positive thinking doesn't work for them, I am about to give you some insight as to why. Positive thinking evokes more energy, more initiative and more happiness than you could ever imagine, if you give it a chance. Things won't get better unless you think better!

Sound simple?  It is, yet it requires a little more information for you to understand it all.  Let's start with positive visualization.  It is a known and proven fact that outcomes really do improve by doing this.  Some people take this way too literally.  You ask the universe for something, you visualize it daily, staying positive and NOTHING!  There is a reason for this. Nothing will ever happen that way.  

We have to be a bit more pragmatic.  Being happy and upbeat is most definitely  better than being miserable and pessimistic.  That fact alone is a good thing going on in your life.  Plus, you are a lot more fun to be around.  Being positive has all kinds of implications on our bodies, souls and minds.  

This is nothing magical.  It is the starting point of getting to where you want to go.  It makes me think of what computer nerds say all the time:  "Garbage in; garbage out."  This simply means for them that if you put in a bad code or data that you should not expect good results.  Makes perfect sense in that scenario so why not think about it on another level.  YOUR thinking.  If you are telling yourself that you are going to fail, that you don't deserve this, that there is no point to even bother, then you  are putting the garbage in and all you are going to get back is garbage.

If on the other hand, you are putting in positive thoughts and programming your brain to think in that kind of mindset, then you are ready for the next step.  The ACTION, which is the daily learning and practice and training to get where you want to be.  You must believe in yourself and know that you must make a total emotional investment in yourself.  It truly does take a lot of work for people who have been on the negative side of the fence for a long time.  Practicing having happy thoughts to change our moods is what must happen first.

The big secret here is that there is no big secret.  If you are willing to change your thought process and then set a goal, small ones leading to the big one, then you are ready for the action part.  If you aren't willing to act, you aren't going to get the results that you desire.  It boils down to cause and effect (no action, no result)!

Never would I rule out the chances that luck could come your way, just as I would not rule out that you will win the Lottery tomorrow. Yes, you can think positive, yes, you can visualize that.  Millions of people can.  Does it happen?  It does, just by the fall of little ping pong balls.  I think that I would rather go with the odds of knowing what I want, believing in it so badly that I won't let anything stand in my way of achieving it and working toward that goal.

Let me try putting it in simple terms that helped me see the light. First of all, the major problem most people have is the lack of action.  You can have results without positive thinking and visualization, it is true.  You can't have results without action.  And when you put all three together?  You can achieve just about anything that you desire.  

It is all about getting positive and getting to work.  If you want to get your body in shape and fit into those skinny jeans then it will take work which does not involve shoving cookies and candy into your mouth.  The grunt work becomes bearable when you focus on the positive outcome, remaining happy and visualizing what you want to see in a realistic time frame.  This is just one example.  You can take on any circumstance and make it happen.  Just don't get caught up in the how it is going to happen.  Your goal is to think positive, visualize and work towards making it happen for yourself. Just let it be.  

Maybe it would help those having trouble with the 'Think Positive' concept is to move to the concept of DO positive and focus on the right things to take action.  Skeptical people need to fumigate the negativity within themselves and plan on positive outcomes through their positive thinking and doing.  

Let's touch on reality.  Reality bites.  Be sure to remain realistic in working toward your goals.  Athletes do not visualize themselves standing on a podium waving the trophy to the crowd, rather they see themselves performing well at their events.  Visualize your training and learning processes.  This is what will motivate the action.  

Summarizing takes us to our mindset, then daily practice and learning and last but not least, the action.  You have heard the expression about talking the talk but not walking the walk.  There must be both.  Start with baby steps of getting your mind to focus on positive thoughts.  Then move on.  If you are already set in a positive tone then you know dreams are great, but you can only expect something to happen when you act on it to become a reality. Positive building blocks will help you become the architect of your dreams.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Right Track

"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."  Will Rogers

That is most definitely 'righter than rain.'  In the picture above you do see a figure that appears to be Sherlock Holmes sitting.  You and I both know that he was not sitting for long, because Sherlock never, ever got left behind or run over.  His brilliant mind was always churning.  Opportunities for solving crimes were always right in front of him, just as our opportunities are.  

This is in part, what we all need to achieve...a plan to be ready and prepared for what will be coming our way.  Knowing the steps that we need to take now in order to act and follow our hopes and dreams is what will make things happen.  All mysteries will be solved easily as each one unfolds before us, if we are prepared.   

Really it is all about being focused and having a purpose.  This is nothing to be ashamed of, as some happy-go-lucky people would have you believe.  It is something to be proud of and relish in the fact that yes, you were in the right place at the right time. Overnight successes do not just happen.  Someone had to work toward the goal, not just sit and wait for it to happen.  You were in the right place at the right time because you made it happen.

We have to ask if we are prepared for what opportunities are out there for us.  It is really not luck in the first place, rather it is more about preparation and opportunity.  Thinking of this brought up a great quote by Brian Tracy (and others who have claimed this quote) that "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity."  There is no depending on others.  Prepare and plan for your own future by setting the goals that will take you there.

One thing is for sure, is that you never know when the 'opportunity' that you have been waiting for is going to pop up, therefore, you need to be prepared for it in every way possible.  This means fiscal responsibility as your top priority.  You never know when that opportunity will require some quick cash.  The best planners don't go deep into debt with loans.

In order to take advantage of opportunities, we must be prepared. It is too late to prepare once opportunity has knocked.  It is not going to wait around for you to get your game plan together.  This means that it is extremely important to be aware of what is going on in our lives from within...using reflection to reset yourself and prepare yourself for success.  Reflect on each and every experience that you encounter.  Find your time and place to do your creative reflections. This is not some haphazard activity.  It is a process that is so very important to your success.  

Networking and focusing on building relationships will help you open up opportunities.  This helps to shape you into your true self. There is no need to change.  In fact, this would be detrimental to what you are trying  to accomplish.  It is simply reflecting on ways to improve.  It helps to keep your mind active and to find patterns of successes that you already have met.  

There is no perfect time to take action.  The big picture has been in your mind and you will know when it is time to get up and go there and make it happen.  Choose your action.  You need to have the discipline to choose getting out of your comfort zone.  Remember that we all have the ability to create our own opportunities, even when they are not right in front of us.  Keeping our eyes open and the courage to go for what we want is hard work.  How important is it to you?

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Is Marriage Suppose To Sound Like a Dial Tone?

 It has been said that all of life is a cartoon, just waiting to be drawn.  What brings me to even be thinking of life as a cartoon is the fact that the other day while browsing through the newspaper, I stopped to read a few comic strips.  One that caught my attention was For Better or For Worse by Lynn Johnson.  Two friends who were having coffee and discussing an elderly neighbor who is so excited because she has met a man at her new Senior Living home and she said that he makes her heart skip a beat.  She said it was so wonderful to be in love again.

One of the friends asked the other if she considered herself to be in love.  Her response was that she guessed so, however after ten years of marriage and three kids, there really wasn't that much to jump up and down about.  She went on to say that it seems like to her that if you are not falling in love or breaking up that you just take each other for granted and love becomes sort of a dial tone...hummmmm.

I found that so sad.  I also know that this is how many married folks feel and it does not have to be that way.  Marriage should be fun and exciting.  It is all in the attitudes of the marriage partners. A good marriage doesn't just happen.  It does take special care and attention.  So many times, it is the little things that matter and add up to the big things.    

Trust me.  I am not here to tell you how to run your married life, however, many times over and over again, friends and acquaintances and sometimes even strangers make comments on our marriage and how they wish theirs had that spark.  This is not by what I say or he says.  It is what they witness.  Words can be said, it takes action.  Some of the fun things that we do for one another are things such as hiding little love notes in special places. I have even drawn hearts on the bathroom mirror with xxxx in my red lipstick to surprise him when he gets up to shave and shower.  I love seeing his face when he walks in and flips the light on.  

We always go to bed at the same time.  And no, get it out of your head right now, it is not always for sex.  There is a certain intimacy of just cuddling and having pillow talk.  One of our favorite times of the day is when dinner is cooking and we sit together in our Reading Room or the screened in patio if weather permits, with music playing.  We may spend time reading, take a little time to talk about our day at work...the main thing is that we are together sharing our day. This is also the time that we use to make some major decisions about purchases or vacations; just a great environment for chatting.  Music is playing softly, we are sharing a glass of wine and talking about the important and the not so important things going on in our lives.  

While we are on the subject of music, my husband has a major sound system in every room that we spend time in.  Music is an important part of our lives.  (NOT the TV.)  We watch some sports, major Award programs and Downton Abby, and always together. Otherwise, it will be a movie on the weekend, usually in our very own media room.  It is so nice to have a private screening versus going to the movie theater.  

Another every day event that we take care of together is going to the grocery store.  When we go, we just look around and there are hardly any other couples in the grocery together.  Since we both cook, we both have staple ingredients that we want in our home pantry, refrigerator and freezer, so we both enjoy shopping together.  We both enjoy finding new things to try.  Plus, going to the grocery with my British husband is never boring.  He has no problem calling out to me about picking up certain vegetables, holding them up and what he asks could be interpreted any way a stranger may choose.  (Not going into detail, just use your imagination.)

Speaking of strangers, when we get in the car or out of the car, he always gets the door for me.  I have witnessed women elbowing their own significant others to watch how a real gentleman does it. It is just something that Steve has always done for me.  It does make me feel special and very loved and I never take that for granted. 

Brag on each other to other people.  It can be something that one of you did that would surprise others, as simple as that fact that one of you vacuumed out the cars or cleaned out the garage, or planned a huge company chili cook off, as well as making a chili to enter the contest.  It truly makes the other person feel appreciated in a very special way.  

Find fun and exciting ways to make your loved one know that they are still the one and that you are still having fun with one another.    

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Life is a Highway

Life is like a highway, as the song goes...Life's like a road that you travel on when there's one day here and the next day gone. Sometimes you bend, sometimes you stand, sometimes you turn your back to the wind...There's not much time left today!

I am making this comparison of life to a trip down the highway and what exactly we are in control of and can do something about. There are people in positions of authority that can behave as bullies and can try to take things that you can truly take charge of if. That is your decision.  You must give these bullies permission to take your special gifts away. Are you really prepared to do that?  What can you do to become self-empowered to retain your self-beliefs? You must be strong willed and have a mindset to succeed, plus it helps tremendously to have support from others that you are making the right decisions for yourself.  There is a road to happiness...just waiting for you to map it out to find the 'fundamental you.'

There are all kinds of things that can be stolen from you such as your possessions, your youth, your health, your words  -  there are many things that no one can ever take from you, especially those bullies that may be in authority over you if you plan an escape.  An escape may mean a change, such as a transfer, a move, or something else that will remove you from their poisonous venom of trying to take your 'fundamental you' away.  There must be an amount of patience involved, because things can't change overnight.  However, if you have started the process of the map plan, then your psyche is moving in the right direction.

For example, let's go through some of the things that no one can take from you:

Positive Attitude  -  this is the way that you choose to respond to what others say and do to you.  You will find the happiness within yourself and nowhere else.  Smiling is what keeps others guessing at what is going on in your mind.  This is good.

Self-Esteem  -  It takes a long time to learn how to not judge yourself through someone else's eyes.  You and you alone have the ability to discover your own life and review it through your eyes, not worrying about what others think.

Character  -  This is your whole internal core.  It is what gives you the ability to grow strong and be brave, choosing the right path, even when no one else is looking.  Keeping your eyes wide open, accepting your own mistakes as learning lessons without second guessing yourself.  Continue to stand tall, learn and grow.

Uniqueness  -  This is ALL YOU.  No one else is quite like you.  It is not being selfish in standing in your own glory of what is special about you and what you can do.  Great things will happen to you and happen for you, all because of YOU.  If there is a fork in the road, your style will find the right way for you to go.  If it turns out to not be the right way, you will find a way to turn the lemons into lemonade due to your uniqueness that no one else has.

Hope  -  You can carry the load that is given to you because you believe that it is possible.  Your inner voice is shouting that yes, you can do this, even when the world seems to be telling you that it is impossible.  You have the will to try it, making adjustments along the way.

Why do I believe that you have the map to the highway of life? Because you will continue to learn the lessons of life, releasing the pains that life tosses your way now and then and move on. Remember these words:  Scars remind us of where we have been, not where we are headed.  It is YOUR choice.

Monday, September 19, 2016


Training!  The very word bothers me.  It makes me want to get back in bed and cover my head.  I consider myself an intelligent human being.  I know the health benefits of being in physical and mental shape.  With that knowledge, and now being a breast cancer survivor, completed radiation therapy and the healing process that followed, I realize that I must get in a routine of physical exercise to remain healthy.  

While in the healing process, I had time on my hands to research and discover exactly what was out there for me to do and most importantly to want to keep doing.  In order to make it a part of my lifestyle and mindset, it had to be something that worked for me.  

There is no way that I needed something so strenuous as the Olympic athletes work on at the Colorado Olympic Training Center.  Just for fun, I looked up some of what they did and it really blew my mind.  Of course, they had to have a good diet and stay hydrated, as well as getting 8 - 10 hours of sleep at night.  They needed proper warm ups before diving in full speed ahead with an assortment of different types of exercises.  It was important for them to have a personal coach to keep them on track.  The mental part of their training was also important and could not be overlooked.  They each had their positive mantras and/or inspirational books that helped to keep them motivated.  

Let's review that list of what is possible for me, remembering that I am not going for the GOLD, just training to be in good shape.  First of all, looking at what I eat and keeping a track record of everything that goes in my body is important and something that I can do with my FitBit online.  It also will track how much water that I drink.  Right there is a bonus for me.  An automatic calorie counter, as well as tracking how much protein, fats, carbs, an sodium would be a good thing for me.

The last ten years or do, I know that I lived on 6 hours of sleep and thought that was the only thing that was possible.  If I got up at 5:30 in order to dress, have breakfast and drive to work by 7 then   basically, to get 8 - 10 hours of sleep meant I had to go to bed at 7:30.  When I was getting home from work at 5:30 or 6, I was not prepared to make a quick dinner, shower and go to bed.  

What kind of life is that?   I know that I was sleep deprived.  Now that I have more control of when I get up to go to work, which is a much more civilized time of 7:30, this means that I can work on heading to bed at 9:30ish.  Again, a civilized time for the work week.  Even 10 now and then works fine.  Telling myself what I can accomplish that even competing athletes do such as keeping track of what I eat and drink, how much sleep I get, having a positive and inspirational mantra each day and using warm ups to get into physical activity,  I would say that I am off to a good start.

When searching out what Olympic athletes did, I ran across an interesting article about Matt Damon getting himself in shape for his latest Jason Bourne movie.  He stated that now at 45, it is a lot harder to do than from his earlier years.  Again, he was training for the perfect body that a character needed for a movie.  For him, it did mean having a full time trainer that had him running, cycling, completing 100 sit ups and 300 push ups each day as well as sled pushing and pulling.  If you have never been in a gym and had the pleasure of this exercise, let me assure you that it is brutal.  Matt's own words was that he had to say a lot of no's and not one yes because he enjoyed his burgers and beers, yet he had to always be saying, "No, no no!"  This is fine for a short period of time getting in shape for a character role.  This is NOT real life.

Actually, none of what Matt Damon's workout and training would be for me.  Taking it down a notch by reading up on what Gretchen Reynolds suggests in some of her articles would work for me.  It is much more for the typical person.  She says that we as humans, were made for walking. (I like her already!) It is more efficient than running and easier on your body.  She does not take anything away from the runners of the world, just says that it is not for everyone, and those of us who are the walkers of the world have nothing to be ashamed of.  Also, it is good to vary where you walk.  Outside is good when weather permits.  I am most definitely a fair weather walker. Otherwise, you will find me inside walking the perimeters of the house or cycling to get steps in for the day. According to Gretchen and other experts, a very good drink for after your workout is low fat chocolate milk.  Not gatorade!  That makes me happy.  A special little treat just for me.  A bonus in that it helps to give me more calcium, too. 

The fact that she says our bodies respond to music and that we do tend to move to the beat of the music that we are listening to, so why not pump it up a notch?  This can be done while walking, cycling or with weights, which has proven to be very beneficial to all, especially to older individuals, as it builds muscles and works on good balance.  The one important thing to remember is that birthdays do not dictate your age.  It is simply a number.  If you look at it in a negative way, you are destroying your mindset of what it is you are capable of achieving.

Printed off for me to look at each day is my main positive thought of the day, even though I have a new one each day, this is the one that makes me get up and move often: 

"People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things.  When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success. "  Norman Vincent Peale

I plan on believing that I can do what I set my mind to doing and therefore I have unlocked one of the secrets to success.  

Friday, September 16, 2016

Technology for Little Kids - Good or Bad?

Currently, there are tons of studies by so called experts on whether technology is good for kids.  As I recall, there were these experts around giving out advice on sitting kids in front of the TV when my children were young. There will always be the so called experts around to let you know that you are probably doing it all wrong.  

Before I get into some of what is being advised to do in 2016, let me share a few things with you.  One of our granddaughters is four years old.  She has been around smart phones, IPads, and computers all of her young life.  Before she was two, she could sing nursery rhyme songs and name Disney characters from games on these tools.  There was a time and a place for them, just as there is now and always will be while she is a child. 

Last year this child knew the code to get into her Mom's phone, as well as mine.  We are responsible adults and have places on the devices that she knows how to operate, including the camera and taking selfies while traveling in the car.  When she wants to talk to me or other family members, she has known for quite a while how to call or FaceTime any of us or send a gif as a text.  Some of these things she has figured out on her own.  Some of them she has watched and learned.  

When I picked her up from kindergarten one day recently, we came in the house for a snack and a coming down from the day time. She asked if we could watch YouTubeKids.  I, being from the pre-historic era, told her that we did not have that here on our TV. Quickly she asked politely for the remotes so that she could show me that I was mistaken.

 Now, I must admit that I have step by step directions on how to get myself to Pandora Radio, Netflix and just the regular TV channels. Again, I am sharing this so that you know I know just enough to be dangerous. In my opinion, watching TV has become way too complicated. Bailey Grace at this time, very confidently showed me how to get to YouTube for Kids.  I just stared at the TV.  Bailey had to call my name repeatedly because I was that much in awe. How did she know this stuff?  The same way she knows how to get around on the computer.  Now, I ask you, is this a good thing or a bad thing?

You can find research that says this is a terrible thing.  That no child before the age of 6 should be allowed near a computer or smart phones/tablets.  And, you can find research that states just the opposite.  Instead of totally embracing or totally escaping this high-tech world that we live in, this expert (ME) is going to venture out and tell you that we have to find the right balance.  

The right balance means both mentally and physically.  Just as I had time limits and monitored what my children watched on TV back in the day, today's parents need to also have time limits. Children need to hold real books, too.  They have not become obsolete just yet, even with the ever popular Kindle.  Children also need physical activity outside and they need to learn how to play board games.  Just as parents read and play these games with their children, they also need to join in with them on the IPad or technical device to make it a "together" time.  If you are reading a story together, stop now and then to ask questions about what might happen next or how do you think the character was feeling. There is a lot to be learned from technology and I don't believe any parent wants their child to be left behind.  Find the balance.

More and more textbooks in schools are available on-line.  Some of the testing is done on-line.  Teachers are finding that they must stay ahead of their students, or at the very least know as much as their students seem to know.  This is a true story.  Thirty years ago, my son was in first grade.  The school district that he was in had purchased computers for the classrooms.  All teachers were to take attendance and send it to the office, as well as the lunch count to the cafeteria manager so that she would know how much to cook. The computer was the same computer that we had at home.  Our six year old knew how to operate this Commodore 64.  His teacher did not and had no idea about what to do with it until my son got on it to show her how.  From that day forward, Doug was known as the whiz kid of technology.  Fast forward and that same boy graduated from Tulane with honors in two majors:  Computer Science and Computer Technology.  This has been a major part of his career.

We want our children to be connected to the ever evolving digital world. Simply knowing how to use computers gives them academic confidence and entry level skills. It will open the door for questioning the real world and being able to see things such as a butterfly emerging from the chrysalis or visiting museums that many will not be able to physically visit yet on a small device seeing the whole world. It would not be fair to take that kind of knowledge away, nor would it be fair to simply place them in front of a device for endless time and walk away.

We need some "Take Charge Rules."  Always set a realistic time limit on media use, which may change depending on homework or projects from school.  It is also a good idea for parents to 'unplug' themselves.  Does the TV have to be on, even when no one is using it.  Some quiet time or softly playing music may be more soothing. Teach children about table etiquette as far as cell phones go.  It totally amazes me to see families out at restaurants and everyone is looking down at their phone.  Where is the conversation?  Also, be skeptical of what you allow your children to view.  Just because it says YOUTUBE for KIDS?  Some of the things that are on there may not be age appropriate for all children.  Stay nearby and monitor.  Be engaged with them.

The days of looking up research in the set of World Book Encyclopedias have long gone.  Children can Google instant information now.  Along with that instant information, it takes someone then to show children the importance of critical thinking skills with what they learn, just as in the days of encyclopedias. There is the information, now what does that mean, exactly?  

Our eldest granddaughter has conversations with the Amazon Alexa.  She has learned to call out her name to get her to play a song she wants to hear or to add her favorite treat on to the grocery list, as well as telling her, "Good Morning."  Alexa replies back with another, "Good Morning," and then goes on to give out a fact about that day.  It starts off a whole conversation about 'National Donut Day' or 'Friends Day.'  When Bailey is riding in the car, she also talks about the GPS telling us to turn right or left and why. This is a part of her world.  This is a part of all of our children's world!

We all want our children to be smart media consumers.  It is up to us to lead the way.  Here is a poem by Rudolph Rinaldi that may give us the reason of why it is so important for us to lead the way in the balance of using technology:

Fall and 
red yellowing leaves in the trees

an old man sitting
on a bench
watches them
and thinks of his youth

a youth
sitting on a bench
looking into his iPhone
simulates the falling
red yellowing leaves
and googles
the future
of trees

Our children are living in the 21st century.  It is our responsibility to live in the same century as them.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


The last blog was about the trials and tribulations of moving from the South to the North and all of the adventures involved.  This was about just me making a move from one part of the country to another after getting married.  The time spent there was amazing and I did make some good friends.  I suppose that the one thing that I would say is that living through the winters there, I now do know for a fact that I do NOT like anything to do with snow and cold.  It truly blew my mind that I would have to fight hard to push open the storm door so that I could go out and shovel a path for our dog to go out to take care of his business.  Otherwise, he would fall through the snow and make a mess or heavens forbid, never be seen again.  He was little, however, at least he was a black cock-a-poo. More on the adventures of living in Pennsylvania in future blogs.   

This blog is about not just one newly wed me moving from one section of the country to another. This is about a whole family making a big move.  Fast forward to the two wonderful children that I mentioned last Monday that became my everything when I felt all alone. Now they are in high school with friends that they have known and been with since playgroups and kindergarten. Everything was moving along smoothly when their Dad came home to say that if he wanted to keep his job, that he must move to Houston, Texas to relocate due to a company buyout.

We discussed choices that we could make, such as he would go ahead and move and visit us when he could.  I would stay there so that both children could finish high school and then we would move when they went off to college.  Maybe Jennifer, who would be a senior could stay with me and Douglas could go with his Dad? The problem there would be that there was still a substantial amount of travel involved and no one home with our son, so it would mean we all go to Texas or the kids and I stay in Pennsylvania. Since I actually was born in Texas and lived there about 5 years, I was rather happy about the turn of events, even if at that early age, I did not remember much about it. 

After great deliberation, I came to the conclusion that for two years of our lives, it was not acceptable for our family to be torn apart.  It did cause both children to go into the 'life is not fair' and everything that goes with it mode.  Little things that we planned to help to make this an adventure and less painful helped a little bit at times, depending on where their thinking was at that moment.  Luckily, the company flew us all out to find a place to live and explore the area.  I had researched the schools and the area and knew the school district that met our requirements.  It was in the Katy, Texas area, which was also close to where my husband had to go to work. As far as the two airports were concerned, there was no way that we would live within a close proximity of either one, so I just said for him to suck it up, Buttercup.  You can't have everything. He did agree once he saw the housing and school district information that I provided.   

While we were there scoping out our new city, he went off to work in the rental car each day, while the kids and I traveled around with an Ann Richards look alike, searching for houses.  We had narrowed it down to a few before we shared with him. Unfortunately, the ones that we all liked would not quite be finished when we had to be there for school to start.  The company put us up in an apartment for a month while the builder finished our home.  It was considered a "luxury apartment" and would be completely furnished.  It also meant a lot of me working daily with decorators and contractors to pick out all of the last final details.  Things like the appliances, to the floor coverings and the lighting, all the way down to the hardware on the cabinets. Never having to deal with these kind of details, I was astonished at how much was involved.  I just took for granted about towel racks, toilet paper holders and spigots. Who knew?  

There we were a few days before school started that we began living in this luxury apartment of 1700 square feet.  You really could not get away from one another.  I, for one, was rather glad about this, because we were not alone in that apartment. Basically, we rather sat huddled in the middle of the one room with a sofa, chairs and TV watching the Texas size cockroaches going across the walls.  At the time there was a movie out called Joe's Apartment, which we nicknamed this place, although our cockroaches did not sing or dance. I called the apartment office the next day and was told that the pest guy would come out, however, I was told that this is a part of Texas. NOPE.  It was not going to be a part of my Texas, that I would make sure of. Whatever it took.  And, I can say that the pest guy and I became friends, because I had him out every other day to spray.  I made note of this for our new home, because no way would I stand for such nasty critters to be a part of our lives in our home.  

In this short time frame, I also got a chance to go out driving with both kids to show them how to drive on I-10 in Houston.  There was nothing that compared to that where we came from.  Their instructions from me was to stay off I-10 until we practiced more. There can be no hesitation when you are going from the on ramp to the interstate, just as you had better be in the right lane for when you want off the interstate.  It is not an easy task to quickly travel across eight lanes of fast moving traffic. They each had a car that they registered at school in order to be allowed to park it on campus. Due to their after school activities, they each needed a car. 

Finally, the first day of school arrived.  I could tell that they were a bit apprehensive, however off they bravely went with their schedules in hand.  At least they were able to register and walk the campus before the first day and knew a little about where to go. Doug was the first one home.  He really did not have much to say and I did not want to push him just yet.  So I let him have his 'thinking about it' time and thought that once we sat for dinner as a family, that the two of them could open up about how things went during their first day.

Then the door flew opened and slammed. I could not quite make out what Jennifer was ranting about, however, she was in quite a state and so unbelievably angry.  She went on for a bit before I helped her with all of her tennis gear and backpack and sat her down with a bottle of Gatorade.  Finally, she could talk where she was making sense.  Apparently, the tennis coach told her that the team had really already been chosen, however, since she just moved here and had been chosen to be the captain of her former school's tennis team, that he would give her a chance.  Ha! Well, la-ti-da!  How big of him! Except, he did not leave it at that.  He told her when and where to show up for a try-out and just when she was thanking him, he said to her that she had to understand that they played "Texas Tennis" there.  He is lucky that she did not go totally ballistic, right in front of him.

She waited until she got in the car.  She was probably very lucky that she was not pulled over for speeding or aggressive driving.  At this point, I asked her what was she going to do?  In the back of my mind, I knew exactly what she was going to do.  This sorry excuse for a coach had ticked her off royally.  Enough for her to want to show him exactly how the cow eats the cabbage and how she can play tennis quite well in Texas or anywhere else, thank you very much.  (Just for the record, she did make the cut and was placed on the team!)

There were many events that happened at school that day for both of them.  At dinner, both kids, almost simultaneously informed me that Texas is not part of the Union but a country in its own right.  I questioned why they would say such a thing. At this point, they both said that part of their homework for their homeroom class was to learn how to recite the Pledge of the Texas Flag.  They said that right after the Pledge of Allegiance was said, they sat down, only to quickly get right back up because everyone else was standing and now reciting, "Honor the Texas flag:  I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible." 

After the first day of school, I learned to make lemonade from whatever Texas lemons were thrown my way.   

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hi Y'all

If you have ever physically moved away from where you have lived for sixteen years, and feel excited about it, then I for one say, "Good for you!"  You are willing to step out of the box, your comfort zone, and experience something new.  I did this very thing. Being a true GRITS (Girl Raised in the South) girl, this was a major dot deal, especially to my friends. They all stood in amazement that I would attempt such a wild and crazy thing.  Of course, they knew me well and this was most definitely not the first wild and crazy thing they have ever witnessed me doing. Before the man that I thought that I was in love with popped the question, we had conversations of where we would live if we did marry.  He had the much higher paying job than a teacher's salary, so there really wasn't much of anything to discuss.  Up to the North it would be!

Being young and carefree, I thought that it would be a wonderful experience to live in a totally different environment than Texas, Mississippi or Tennessee.  I can tell you that it was an experience, for sure. Sometimes wonderful and sometimes I questioned myself about what the hell was I thinking when I said yes. For one thing, it gave me a whole new perspective on life in general.  In my opinion, now at my age based on what I know, this is always a good thing. At the time, not so much! 

Before the wedding, I visited to meet his family and friends, as well as to find a house where we would live. One of the first things that reached out and slapped me across the face was when I was introduced to my soon to be mother-in-law. She curtly asked to see my ring.  I gave her my hand and she stared at it and then stated with the attitude of a shark ready to devour her prey, "You know that MY son is NOT rich!"  The said ring was a simple 1 carat diamond.  So now I know that I am most definitely not welcomed as a soon to be daughter-in-law, but as a female after her son's money! Probably a time to run there and then.  Did I? No!  

Friends of his were welcoming, yet also a bit taken back by the southern drawl, no matter how hard I tried to conceal it, it just slipped out. I could see that they heard "red-neck" and not a soft southern drawl. Comments were made to me that I did not have to wear make up or dress up to meet them for a boat ride on the Susquehanna River or to go to a Penn State football game.  I told them what I was wearing was my casual clothing and that I have always been taught by my Mom and Grandmother to wear makeup and to dress in style for the event that I would be attending.  I even went on to explain how dorm and sorority mothers teach the young women how to dress the part for different occasions, so it was pretty much who I was at this stage of my life.   

Let's back up to the football game.  I will say that Penn State knows how to have tail gate parties very well, just not dress for them the way that an Ole Miss coed would dress.  That is okay.  Every place has their own traditions. I was aware that I took them by surprise. It was as if they were expecting characters from TV shows that portrayed women of the South, such as Petticoat Junction or The Dukes of Hazard.  In other words, there were ways that I burst their bubble on that misinformation. 

However, just let me take off my shoes at home and go barefoot? Then the teasing came in based on the fact that they had always heard that women of the South are all barefoot and pregnant. It did not help much, that soon after our wedding, I was indeed pregnant. The teasing got to be a little too much at times.  Feeling outnumbered, I usually just went on about my business and ignored what I felt was totally inappropriate rudeness.  I, after all did not make fun of them calling out "you's" to my "y'all.   

Another huge difference was the weather.  My first October in Pennsylvania was beautiful, although a bit chillier than I was ever used to in the South.  It made up for the chilliness with the colorful fall trees. That is until 6 inches of snow fell.  IN OCTOBER!  This blew my mind.  I had a husband out of town working (which was quite often) and there I was alone to deal with shoveling sidewalks and driveways, because I was told (and it was true) that I would be fined if I did not have it cleared within 24 hours. Pregnant and shoveling?  A little at a time, I did manage to get it done.  In all fairness, once that happened, a company was hired to come over and do the shoveling or snow blowing whenever I needed them to help, which by the way, was quite often.  

New experiences were happening all around me.  One day, I heard a loud engine outside of our home.  I looked out just in time to see a man getting out of his big tanker truck, pulling on a big gas hose from the back of his truck and hauling it up to our home.  What was he doing?  My wild imagination was going over the edge at this point.  Was he going to ignite our house?  What could he possibly be doing?  I was trying to call my husband to find out just as this man was walking between our home and a neighbor's home.  He was placing the nozzle into something on the side of our house when my husband answered the phone. He was able to calm me down by letting me know that this was how fuel was pumped into our home in order to heat the house.  At least the older homes, of which we had purchased had this type of heating.  OMG  Who knew? 

It just so happened that the same day, a man showed up on the front porch to say he needed to come in to get to the basement so that he could read our meter.  Again, another call to my husband.  I had never heard of such a thing, yet it was true. I had to let this man in our home to go trudging through the house in order to go down to the basement to read the meter. Who knows at this point what the meter was for?  Gas?  Water? Electricity?  All of the above?  It just seemed barbaric to me.   

Hormones and anxiety kicked in for sure.  I made a call home crying to my Mother that I needed to come home because I had made a terrible mistake.  She listened and she tried to calm me, yet I still don't think she heard me totally.  It was a year basically of one catastrophic (at least in my mind) event after another.  Every once in while, I met some new friends and neighbors who embraced my diversity as much as I embraced theirs.   In fact, we are still friends through Christmas cards and Face Book.  

Then, the one most beautiful thing in the whole world did arrive.  A beautiful baby girl came and helped to take everything else away, sort of like the Calgon commercial.  I was focused on being a good Mom to a precious adorable little girl. So in fairness, at least for the time being, Jennifer did arrive "to take me away."  Just so the story does not leave you dangling with wonder of what next?  Eighteen months later a handsome baby boy arrived.  Douglas stole our hearts and by now with two infants, I most definitely did not have time to focus totally on me.  There were two cherished children that kept my attention totally.  No longer was it about me.  Children have a way of doing that to a Mom. So my years in Pennsylvania was not so much of an exile, as it was a journey in exploring an entirely different culture.   


Friday, September 9, 2016


If someone asked me to make a list of things that make me happy, a few of the items may be extravagant.  At a point in everyone's life, we come to realize that we need less than we actually have and then we seem to have more to give. Embracing simplicity can be a beautiful moment in our lives.  

Being the list maker that I tend to be, I actually sat down and made out a list of things that do make me happy.  As I wrote them down, I also came to the conclusion that these little things brought me so much joy and comfort.  It helped me to see the real me, for who I really am and not for someone that other's thought that I should be. I fell in love with a term that I read about and that was becoming the "authentic me."  It is a way to understand that I am now understanding about being happy with the simple things and finding beauty, strengths and flaws within myself.  Living a simpler
life was giving me the picture of my authentic self.  No more layering.  No more clutter and distraction.  There seemed to be time opening up to enjoy these things.

Real examples of how I started my thinking in a simpler lifestyle was to de-clutter.  What was all around me had to have meaning and the rooms that I lived in had to be a place where I could unplug and relax, surrounded by things that are beautiful and useful to me. This in turn helped in my health.  I began sleeping better and became more mindful of how much exercise I was getting and what I was eating.  

It really is a matter of starting now and starting small.  Rome was not built in a day.  Using your senses, start becoming aware of what feels good to you.  In the morning, stay snuggled in your bed for an extra minute, just to enjoy the warm comfort and then turn it around and use it for a boost of fuel for your day.  What a wonderful way to put a positive feeling in the beginning of your day.  

As for me, as my day progressed, I needed to stop now and then to think of what particular sense I could use to take me away from the hectic "stuff" going on around me.  A great way to 'take five' is to literally go for a walk, even if just for five minutes.  Being aware of your breathing, step away and just walk around where you work and think of happy thoughts, such as a baby's giggle, cool cotton sheets, a warm bubble bath, a favorite meal, or a hug from the ones that you love.  Sometimes you may be able to put in your workplace something to distract you from the complexities being thrown your way, to something simple that will put a smile on your face as it simplifies the moment.  For me, it was placing humming-bird feeders outside the window where I work.  It is a guaranteed smile coming my way each time I watch them.

Just speaking on the way that my brain processes things that must be done, when I know it is time to go to the grocery, I go.  I started questioning myself about why did I not take the time to go to the local Farmer's Market?  It is a totally different atmosphere, no buggies bumping in to one another, along with the fact that the people are so friendly and much more relaxed.  Is it the country air that their products brought in on their pick-up trucks?  Or the pride that the farmers take in selling to others what they have taken the time to grow?  Whatever it is, it works for me.  

There are times that I get to sleep a little later than usual and the way the sunshine comes in through the shutters with the warmth of the sun shining on me is the most glorious feeling when I take the time to acknowledge it.  The whole point of this blog for me is to say that I know that there are times that I tried to halt my emotions and now I work much harder at channeling them into something much more positive.  It is no more running from myself; it is growing into myself.  

There is a beauty in this way of life and it becomes even more beautiful when you have a partner who cherishes this definition of taking the more scenic route of life. Even if there is no particular partner, your sunshine will be always shining and you never know what could come of that.  We have the choice of sharing our sunshine and someone may just come along that wants to share it with you.  

Sometimes our biggest challenge is learning to let go so that we can enjoy the moments that are truly important and meaningful.  You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need. I do believe those are some of the lyrics to The Rolling Stones song of "You Can't Always Get What You Want."  So, let's be happy with the simple things that we need 
to be truly happy and celebrate that.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Mistakes and Imperfections Make Us Real

There is one sure fire way to be happier in our lives.  That way is by finding beauty in our own mistakes and imperfections.  We all need to accept and forgive our own failings.  Humans are most definitely a complicated bunch.  There is no way any one of us remain a constant.  We all are a bundle of contradictions in all that we say and do.  Embrace it.  Learn from it.  Smile that smile that says to the world that you know where you went wrong and you have a plan to make it all better.  Not only will we be happier with this decision, it will give others hope that the choice is out there for everyone to handle mistakes and imperfections in this manner.

The pursuit of perfection is a fruitless endeavor.  The misery that it can cause is overwhelming.  Why would any of us want to inflict this pain upon ourselves, when in reality there would be no growth, no surprises and life would be just so dull and boring if everything were perfect without mistakes?  For example, are you aware that through mistakes of others we have, to name just a few, penicillin, aspirin, X-rays, Teflon, Velcro, Post-it notes, cornflakes, chocolate chip cookies and Coca-Cola? 

No one can go back and make a brand new start, however, everyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.  It really does not matter how much analyzing that any one of us want to take up time to do; it is wasted time.  Telling ourselves that if only we had chosen another way will not change the outcome of events.  So my take on the whole process is to move forward with another plan.

Moving forward in new ways.  If we keep doing things the old way then we will keep getting the same results, therefore, it is important to find opportunities to reinvent ourselves and to organize ourselves to a new way of thinking.  

I, for one, do not have to be defined by the things that I have done in the past.  The future is out there for me.  It is out there for all of us, if we take off the blinders.  It is not possible for any human to not make mistakes.  That is out of our power.  What is in our power is to learn from them and move on to a better future.  

Most of us always take a moment (some longer moments than others) to beat ourselves up over the mistakes that we have made. We all despise making obvious mistakes when all of the red flags and other signs were there right in front of us.  Once the mistake is made, exactly what good is hindsight?  What we do need to think about is how much more time do we wish to waste in judging ourselves when it was inevitable sooner or later.  Learning experiences are much more beneficial.

In one respect, my mistakes can help open me up to taking new risks that I may not have been ready to take on before.  It leads me to a clearer idea of what I want and how to achieve it.  Once we realize that we all are not so perfect, and this is what creates our unique personalities, we can accept who we are and start a new path towards success. There is an integrity in admitting to your mistake and taking responsibility for it without blaming others.   

Two of the most positive lessons that I have learned in my humanly imperfections and making mistakes is that it has taught me that I need to live fully engaged and to settle for nothing less.  The second thing that I am proud to say that I have learned, is that by the way that I accept me for the person that I truly am, it has helped some others to become inspired to move on with their lives in new directions.  I do say this with a humbleness.  There are some who have shared this with me.  There is no way that I have the answer to end all questions.  None of us do.  My thoughts are that if I can inspire another human being to pull themselves up again and to move forward then I have not only helped myself, but others too.  

In one of Billy Joel's songs, he writes that, "You are only human, you're allowed to make your share of mistakes...Don't forget your second wind...It's alright!"  We are only human!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Friday, September 2, 2016

Pay It Forward For YOU

Paying it forward is a win-win situation.  You can make someone's day very special when they least expect it, plus it makes you feel good to be able to do something for someone without expecting anything in return.  This is a good thing, right?  We all need to try to do a 'Pay It Forward' act in some way to somebody every day.  It can be as simple as a little note in your child's or even spouse's lunch box. Of course, it could be more elaborate such as taking care of someone's meal at a restaurant or groceries at the store.  It does not always need to cost money.  Giving of your time or heart is a way to pay it forward that many people seem to forget in our busy lives.

Today's blog is a way to 'Pay It Forward' that at first might sound a bit selfish.  It is a way to take care of yourself so that you will be around to help others and feel your best while you are doing it. Taking care of your body because it is the only place you have to live in is so very true. 

Sometimes it takes a jolt in us when we get older to get the true meaning of this.  We must continue to work on a healthy lifestyle for ourselves, as well as those we love.  My husband is the one who taught me this, not through his words but his actions.  He did it for himself so that he would be here for me and his children for a much longer time.  Truly, he is my role model and it does help to have one.  If you don't, then why not start out by doing it for yourself and perhaps you will be someone else's role model.  A way of 'Paying It Forward' for others, as well as yourself. 

You always have to believe in yourself.  Do what is right for you. One of my favorite ways to exercise and not even realize that I am doing so, is to turn on Netflix and walk on the treadmill.  However, I had to change my  whole way of thinking due to a weak ankle and the steadiness and routine walk that happens on the treadmill.  I must admit that I am a fair weather walker, so it can't be too hot or humid, nor cold and windy for me to venture outside for a walk. Quite a few days/weeks/months get ruled out simply by that fact. New plan:  while writing at the desk which is my job, take a ten minute walking break every hour around the house, simply to move.  It works!  Also, keep watching Netflix, only move over to the recumbent bike.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

Getting enough sleep is more important than you realize unless you have researched some of the newer studies.  It takes getting yourself into a routine in order for you to get 8 - 9 hours of sleep. Those little wrist bands such as FitBit are wonderful in letting you know how much sleep that you actually received.  Just because you were in bed for 8 hours does not necessarily mean that you slept for 8 hours.  This little computer chip can show you the bar graph of your steady sleep and your not so steady sleep, thus breaking it down for you.  It is a case of mastering our sleep. (I wish I had words of encouragement for those insomniacs.)  

How many times have I asked myself where the time has gone when things did not get accomplished in my day that I had put on my TO DO list?  I now have come to the conclusion that it is okay to have a TO DO list, just prioritize it so that even if everything did not get done, the top three or top five that were high in priority did get accomplished and then stop beating myself up over why everything did not get done. Be kind! 

Positive talk is very important, not just for others, but for yourself to talk to that little part in your mind that wants to pull you down. Be your own positive advocate.  Clap, cheer, kiss your brain! Staying present in the now moment helps you keep your brain from wandering in the wrong negative directions.  The past does not equal the future.  No one can undo the past.  No one can predict the future.  What we can do is to live in the present with a plan and a goal for the future.  If it needs revised now and then, step in and do so.  Nothing needs to be written in stone.

Simple things that you can do for yourself to fill your heart and soul with happiness are important. Something that my husband helped me take care of was to get hummingbird feeders set up outside the large window where I work on my writing.  We also set up a feeder with special seed that brings in cardinals and other colorful birds.  The regular bird feeder worked immediately.  The second day we had cardinals and now even have the baby cardinals coming in.  The hummingbird feeders were not working at bringing in a single hummingbird. I was about ready to just give up when all of a sudden we have visitors now and as nerdy as it sounds...I LOVE IT.  I am not sure what this is a sign of, all I know is that it makes me happy.  Just as taking a moment to make myself some southern iced tea each afternoon.  

Promoting your health in all aspects, heart, soul and mind, takes a 'Paying It Forward' attitude for you in order to be who you want to be, as well as reducing medical costs in the future.  You then have the energy and stamina to pay it forward for others.  You may find yourself becoming more grateful for everyday of kindness that you naturally extend to others, simply by helping yourself to become a healthier you.