Friday, June 30, 2017

Independent State of Mind

Today through the 4th of July are very special days in our household. We will have all four of our granddaughters, age 5 years to 9 months together. Lots of pics and lots of fun. In order to get ready for the fun of so many in one home, I must declare a state of independence from my blog for today and for Monday.
No fear...will be returning next week on Friday (probably with some funny stories with our times together)!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Depending on who you talk to, you may get different times of what exactly defines a morning person or a night owl. Just so you will have my perspective on what I am calling a morning person vs. a night owl; a morning person is someone who gets up at a civilized time such as 7:00 A.M. and a night owl is someone who stays up to the wee hours of the morning, of which I call 1:00 A.M. The morning person has a routine of going to bed around 10 P.M. in order to get a good 8 hours of sleep. The night owl must sleep till 10 A.M. in order to receive the same amount of sleep. 

Science has proven that the human body functions better on 8 hours of sleep. I do have some friends who insist they only need 5 hours. Then, to them I say, "Rock on!" I am not one of those people. When I had a job that required me to be at work at 7 A.M., I did need a swift kick in the rear to get me up at 5:30 A.M. That is just an indecent time for me. Even though that was my routine, it was not a pleasant one for me. 

Reading through some articles on sleep which tried to prove to me differently is the reason that I am writing this blog. If someone does not want to change their mindset of being an early bird then I really don't believe there is a chance of switching their belief. For me, I had to go to bed at 9 in order to receive the benefit of having 8 hours of sleep. If it was not a night of enough deep sleep, I was fit to be tied. Bring on the coffee, strong and black and lots of it.

Having a nightly routine and a morning routine when keeping those kind of hours was a must for me or else you would not want to be around me. Since my job entailed lots of instant decision making, I had to be ready. There was no gradually getting into my day. I did find that when the time of year rolled around when the sun was up, it made it a bit more bearable to rise and shine. Luckily for me, I never got in the habit of hitting the snooze button. Plus my husband put the alarm clock on the other side of the room. The sound of Van Morrison singing softly at first was the signal to get up before he started singing at top notch volume.

If you added up the times that I listed above, you may see that they equal 8 1/2 to 9 hours of time. I did this on purpose because if you have ever had your sleep monitored, you know that it is not a constant. I am lucky enough to have a FitBit which measures my sleep efficiency. It shows me in a graph form of when I was restless and when I was in a deep sleep and adds up the total time of deep sleep. That is the kind of sleep that you need to be productive and creative.

There is a point that I disagree on, and that is that morning people are more productive and creative than night owls. Think about entertainers who have the night life due to their performance times. They then must sleep a lot of the morning away in order to get their 8 hours of sleep. Some of these night owls write beautiful music and are some of the most highly creative people on earth. This is their bodies' creative time.

Due to job circumstances, they may not be able to make the switch, even if they wanted to, in order to be a morning person. Benjamin Franklin's saying of "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise," certainly does not fit some of the multi-millionaires in the entertainment industry. Jobs that are 24/7 which require some to work night shifts fall into that same category (only without the mega-bucks for the most part)! 

It is my belief that each one of us must find where we function the best if we are lucky enough to have that option. I feel best when I get up and get into a routine. The one routine that I have not been able to get through the hurdle is to get up, throw on exercise clothes, drink water (not glorious coffee) and go to exercise. This is in spite of the fact that I am lucky enough to have an exercise room with three machines and weights. Also, at least 5 months of the year, a beautiful pool to swim in or do water jogging. 

All of the experts say that exercise in the beginning of the day is better for you and gets your metabolism started for the day. I find that it works best for me to exercise after I have had coffee while dressing, then have breakfast and get started on my research and writing. This is the time of the day that my creative juices are slowing down. I may need a power nap and then a work out before dressing for the evening for dinner.

Find what works for you in order to function at your optimum level.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Rainy Days and Summer

All of the "Keep Calm" sayings which originated in the UK from "Keep Calm and Carry On" are usually quite humorous. The one above makes absolute sense if you live in the UK. They do have more than their share of rainy days. That is why the countryside is so beautiful with greenery and flowers.

Although here in the South where I live, we get plenty of wet weather, we have much more of a sunny Summer than some other parts of the States or other countries.  That is why I am writing this blog about Rainy Days and Summer to offer my perspective of taking the rain and making it a positive thing.

The song Rainy Days and Mondays from the Carpenters can cross your mind and play with it if you allow it to. Think back to some of the lyrics such as:
"Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
Sometimes I'd like to quit 
Nothin' ever seems to fit
Hangin' around
Nothin' to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down."

Now I don't know about you, but that is a song for a somewhat depressed soul. It is beautifully sung as only Karen Carpenter could sing in her soulful voice but it makes the positive and optimistic soul from within me want to shake, rattle and roll. Take another view; one that is much more positive.

In our part of the country we just had Tropical Storm Cindy come through and close down the Gulf Coast, where many go for vacations. Although we were not there, we have been to the Gulf and had to deal with rainy, stormy days. Whether you are dealing with it for a vacation or just being home, there are some fun ways around it all. Staying dry on a balcony overlooking the ocean, watching and listening to the waves crashing in is one of the most relaxing scenes to me. Make yourself a Mimosa or a Bloody Mary or even a simple cup of tea, have a book or just sit back watching, listening and very relaxing!

Rainy days in the summertime will make our gardens even more beautiful than paying for the water to keep them growing. Rain water is so much better for them that you can almost watch them grow as the rain comes down.

 If there is no danger of lightning, it is a perfect opportunity to go out and play in the puddles with your children. Even a time to make mud pies. Let your inner child come out with them.

It also is the perfect opportunity to use to take care of organizing or tidying up around the house. Those little pesky chores that are so easy to put off on beautiful days. Use the rain as an excuse to put on some of your favorite music (hopefully upbeat) and get a job or two completed.

Afternoon matinees  -  ahhhhh  -  I find it hard to go into a movie theater for a matinee when it is a gorgeous day outside, however, on a rainy day? Perfect! The same with a museum visit. I find that I am in no way rushing through when it is raining outside. It even is a great time to go in the museum's little cafes and have a cup of tea. 

I did save one of my favorite things to do on a rainy Summer day.

Just grab a good book and curl up in comfy clothes with a soft throw, a cup of tea and let the book take you away to another world. For me it is the perfect opportunity to catch up on my stack of books that I have been waiting to read.

With all of this being said, my point is that Rainy Days and Summer go hand in hand if used wisely.
So Happy Rainy Day to all of you! Enjoy!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Yesterday I got the word from my cousin that her Dad, my Uncle Bill, had passed peacefully in his sleep at 5:30 A.M.  This brought back so many memories, not only of my Uncle, but how I grew up for most all of my childhood without what is known as a Father, but a Grandfather. In my later years, I can appreciate that fact in ways that even I have trouble wrapping my head around what an outstanding father figure that this man was to my brother and me.

When I was growing up I did not know that my family was different, really. It all seemed perfectly normal to me. My brother and I had our Mom, plus we had our Grandparents. All three worked hard at jobs outside of the home, yet somehow they always managed to be sure that one of them would be home for us. None of my friends ever commented on me not having a Dad. 

It was not until I was in 3rd grade that I saw what I now refer to as the "Harper's Valley PTA" come to life. It seemed that my Mom filled out the form to become a member of the school PTA organization and she left the line blank that said Father. In the classroom, the "Mommy Dearest" who was over the PTA called me up in front of everyone to ask me the name of my Father. I did not know. This adult really seemed to be upset that I did not know and started talking to the teacher, who actually allowed this to go on for a while. I was feeling quite embarrassed. 

When I got home, I discussed it with my Mom. She automatically went into a total hissy fit. She repeated that she was so mad that she could just spit! Well, anyone that knew my Mother knows that something major happened to make her go over the edge like that. Believe me, you would not want to be the person on the other side of 'the edge.' My Grandparents did calm her down for the night, at least. 

The very next day we were in the Principal's Office. I stayed out in the waiting area while she went back with Mr. Bickers to tell him of the problem. I can guarantee you that was all it took. There is no way to know what he said to the teacher, however, "Mommy Dearest" was no longer the one coming in to pick up PTA forms for membership.  hmmmmmm

So there was my first clue that I came from a different kind of family and I have only positive things to look back on from growing up in that environment. My Papaw gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person in that he believed in me. He demonstrated to me how a lady should be treated by his gentleness toward my Mamaw.

My Mother and Mamaw gave me my determination, but it was my Papaw who gave me my dreams and to go for them. He would take me and my brother fishing. Even though I had trouble being quiet and he was always shushing me unless I wanted to scare away the fish. He never took me hunting; then again it was something that really never appealed to me. Once I was in the backseat of his car driving home from his parents' country home when he stopped the car and got out his shotgun. I looked over in the field and saw a herd of rabbits near their warren. To my horror he was aiming for them; that is until I yelled out the window, "Run, rabbits, run!" 

This patient man had a look on his face like I had never seen before. I knew that he wasn't happy, yet he never once scolded me. I, on the other hand, was extremely happy that I had saved those rabbits from rabbit stew. (Not that I would have eaten it anyway!)

Without going into too much detail, I did get to make a brief contact with my birth father. He was living in another state. It was a very emotional contact and one that I am so glad that I was able to make. Before we could plan a trip to visit him, we got the word that he had passed away from a massive heart attack. What I do feel good about is that I was able to at least let him know (even though I am sure that he did know, he got to hear the words from me) that I have no blame to place on anyone.

Life is too short to have crazy, needless drama going on. So I count my blessings that I had a Papaw in my life who always had a guiding hand on my shoulder to steer me in his calm and gentle manner.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Could've, Should've, Would've

All I can say is that for today's blog I am celebrating the whole day with my darling husband! There will be the traditional handing over of his "official badge" and check out for his retirement and then the Retirement Celebration begins at his workplace with team members and family.

So - I could've pre-written my blog so that something else could be here.  I should've thought of this before hand. I would've done so, had I not been so excited for him to soon be in retirement. The next chapter begins!  A big toast to Steve!  xxxxx

Monday, June 12, 2017

Happiness Is An Inside Job

William Arthur Ward, one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims, stated that, "Happiness is an inside job." This is one of my favorite all time quotes. (I know that I am a quote nerd and there are probably at least a hundred or more on my all time favorite quotes list!) This is another way of saying that happiness is not out there-it's in YOU!

For me, it is a choice to be happy. Everyone has that choice. Even when things happen (and they will) that attempt to bring you down, you must decide if you are going to let it ruin your day and make you spiteful or if you are going to let it go and move forward. Having a partner, such as I do, helps me get over hurdles that could, if I allowed them, bring me down. He will ask me if I want that to bring down and ruin my/our whole day or if I would rather let it go and move forward? I never want something to have that kind of power over me so my choice is to always let it go. For the most part, over the years, I have learned to ask myself this before he needs to even get involved.

After thinking over about people that I know and people that I observe, there are other certain things that I see happy people do or hear them say.

  • Happy people do not feel that they are entitled to anything special. They are grateful for what they have and are willing to share it. They make a mental list or as I do, journal what you are grateful for. It would surprise you if you take the time to stop and think about what you do have instead of what you don't have. If you want something bad enough, then you have to make it happen because you are in charge of your life. If something else comes along, and sometimes it does, then that is what I like to call, 'The Bonus.'

  • I know that I have learned to just enjoy the ride, whichever way it goes. Just be sure to slow it down so that you can enjoy life with those you love. Happiness is most definitely not a destination. Each moment can be and should be filled with the joys of life.
  • Want a take a shortcut? Remember, happiness is not a destination. There are no shortcuts - it is hard work to go out and take control of your life by doing things that make you happy or will get you to your goal. Getting to your goal should be little happy steps toward the big picture.
  • Having a good attitude is part of making the choice to be happy. Being positive always helps anyone feel happier. It is something that each one of us is in control of. Know that you matter and those around you matter. If you speak positive and uplifting words to others, it not only helps you, but the ones around you also. 
  • Most of all what I notice about happy people is that they smile. I actually read a scientific fact that smiling stimulates the brain. Not that I needed a scientific research team to tell me this, I now at least understand more about why this phenomenon happens. Apparently, it is like a two way street: our brain feels good and tells us to smile, we smile and tell our brain it feels good, and so on and so on....
The bottom line is SMILE! I have found that it is contagious.

Friday, June 9, 2017


There are many times that I am asked how do I decide what I will write about in my blogs. All I can tell you is that there is no rhyme nor reason to my subjects that I write about. My mind is constantly whirling and swirling. Sometimes it stops for a brief moment; this is when I say to myself that is it! Once again, my mind starts whirling, only now it is whirling in a specific direction - a specific subject that I will write on for the day.

Our eldest granddaughter (soon to be 5) called me to ask if she could Face Time me later that evening so that she could show me her "beautifulness." I am not sure that I even had heard that word before, however, I loved it. What she happened to be talking about was that she and her Momma had been out shopping for make-up that she would need for her upcoming Dance Recital. 

In this little 5 year old's mind, she would have on this make-up to show her beautifulness on stage. When I told her that she was already beautiful, she quickly said, "Oh Lola, I know that. This will be for a special day."

My heart was filled with such joy that her Momma, my daughter, had given her such a powerful self esteem and the knowledge that it takes so much more to have beautifulness. It comes from within your very soul and make-up tips can only help with a touch of physical beauty. 

In the dictionary the word beautifulness is a noun that refers to a pleasing appearance and has the perfection of form or noble and spiritual qualities. In Hungry Hearts by Anzia Yezierska the quote of, "Nothing can hurt me no more--and you always stood out to me in my dreams as the angel from love and beautifulness." All things are beautiful if you love them, therefore the age old saying of "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder" only has a deeper meaning."

To have beautifulness inside and out is to attend to your outer beauty by all means. Let's not forget what goes on inside that flows outwardly to others. Little things mean a lot such as:

  • empathy
  • kindness
  • smiling
  • listening
  • positivity
  • goal setting
  • gratefulness
Character and appearance together will create a beautifulness.  Thank you,Bailey Grace, for teaching your Lola a new word. This word goes on my list of favorite words. Are writers the only ones that actually make a list of favorite words? It sounds rather nerdy. That does not bother me one little bit. These are special words that have special meanings to me. Everyone should start their own list.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Retirement: Next Exit

Retirement can be an exciting new adventure in our lives. It most definitely has been that way for me. Truly, I do not know how I had time to "work." Most definitely "work," as in the 40 - 60 hours a week job that I used to have, would now not fit in my daily schedule. I found that retirement is when you stop living at work and start work at living. Each person is different and has different expectations. I knew that I was ready to move on, not because I did not love the people that I worked with, including the children. The problem that I was having difficulty with boiled down to the "red tape," so to speak. All of the political decisions made to better the politicians and appointees, not the children.

The biggest piece of advice that I can give to someone who is considering retirement is know that you are retiring from work  -  not from life! For me, life began at retirement. Retirement only means that it now is time for a new escapade. The only trouble with retirement, according to Abe Lemons, is that you never get a day off. I beg to differ with him on that subject. Now, I get to pick what days off I want to take, instead of having it dictated to me.

The new experience for me was to become what I dreamed of doing in my life for a long time. I would say that you need to have a plan for the hours that you used to be at work. There is only so much sleeping and daytime TV that a person can take. The old rocking chair symbol for a retired person needs to be thrown out the window. 
There is a difference between sitting like some little old lady/man in a rocking chair doing nothing and some woman/man of the world doing what she/he wants when she/he wants and not having to set an alarm clock to do it.  As C.S. Lewis stated, "You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream." My dream is NOT to be sitting in an old granny rocker. My dreams are so much more lofty than that. I want to be on my book signing tours for my novels that I write.

Retirement is not the end of the road but the beginning of the open highway. Make your plans accordingly. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? Plan way in advance about your funds. Unless you are wanting to take a part time job somewhere to help support your lifestyle, then be sure to get some savvy financial planning working for you. Get all of the information that you can on your portfolio and how investments with dividends will support you along with your pension and social security. You really want to be saying with clarity, "Goodbye tension, hello pension" and mean it! With the right kind of planning, you will be able to just let it go and live life to the fullest.

First of all, there are many things that you will not be spending money on, which is a good thing because you will want to be spending money on other things that you may have put off until retiring. One thing is traveling more. The best advice that I received is to travel NOW. Do it while you can enjoy your trips. No longer is it a vacation and putting in a request for vacation time; it is a true holiday. I prefer this word to vacation when my British husband used it when asking me early in our marriage about where did I want to go on our holiday? That is such a charming word.

Most other retirees have basically the right frame of mind for being in retirement. They continue to challenge themselves intellectually and socially, which is a huge part of this magnificent adventure chapter. Most retirees start to look younger and actually are healthier because they have time to exercise, eat properly and get enough sleep. I could not tell you how many retirees actually told me that they no longer have stress in their necks and shoulders 24 hours a day. (I am one of them!)

I have been retired since January, 2016. Today I am happy to announce that my darling husband is joining me. Today was his first Monday of not getting up and going in to work. He came in to join me with my coffee and his tea and after about ten minutes, he said that he felt lighter. Imagine? Yes, I can imagine because I had that very same feeling myself.
Just as I used a month to give my body, mind and soul time to come down to a new reality, he is planning the very same actions. 

We will now have two writers in the house and we each have our own office. Because we have always loved doing things together, this is perfect. We go to the grocery together, we cook together, we read together, and oh my goodness there are many nights that we have soft music on and sit and talk for hours. There are some pretty awful retirement quotes out there about when a man retires and I have actually heard some women use similar words: 'Behind every retired man is a wife wishing he would go back to work.' Or how about this one, 'A retired husband is often a wife's full time job.' I saved the most cynical one from Chi Chi Rodriquez for last, 'When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income.' I would imagine that in Chi Chi's day,twice the husband and half the income would work out just fine. It is just the tone of this quote that disturbs me, probably because I have actually heard some women who say that their retired husbands are driving them crazy. 

To this I say to them to start planning some interesting adventures with your man. He is home with you and now is the beginning of the rest of your lives together. Have a wonderful stroll down Retirement Lane.

Friday, June 2, 2017


One very important lesson that I learned the hard way (which is the way most of us learn lessons - School of Hard Knocks) is to listen to others. No one person has all of the answers to everything. I wish that I had listened more and made my decisions based on what others had experienced and some of their beliefs. I may not have agreed with everyone, I just needed to be more open to LISTEN before I made important life decisions and choices.

Over the last few weeks, I just happened to stumble on some wise words from some famous people that seemed to make a lot of sense to me. You can decide for yourself after reading. For me, I may not agree with many things that some of them basically stand for, I just had to be open minded enough to at least listen to know if their advice could help steer me in the right direction. Throw away all judgment calls.

Out of the seven people that I chose, five just happened to be women and two were men. I am not focusing on what they particularly stand for in their lives, but their words of wisdom. (At least to me they were 'words of wisdom' and made perfect sense).

Let's start with Betty White. She truly is one of my heroes. For those who know me well, I think that you will see when I let you know that her philosophy on life and her longevity is that if you start off your conversation with, "You know what I hate," then you are going to go right down the tubes. She said that she knows it sounds boring but being a positive thinker and a cock-eyed optimist is how she has stayed happy all of her life. Her thought process is that you've got to get through it so just put one foot in front of the other and go for it.

For Viola Davis to say that when she is in doubt, she dives, is an understatement! Her belief is that if we hesitate too much then nothing will happen. We all need to ask for what we want, as it is rarely handed to you. We must go out and take what we need. She obviously lives by this; just look at her accomplishments!

Some of Senator Elizabeth Warren's political thoughts may not be mine, however, I believe that she is spot on with her mantra. I am not endorsing her or any of the other famous people that I am using for examples. Her mantra is to not be so focused in our plans that we are unwilling to consider the unexpected. So very true! 

Cher gives more of a visual for all of us who need to be able to visualize what she is saying, and I include myself. Her belief is that we all have to be like bumper cars. We hit a wall and we then must back up and go a different way and you hit the wall again. The only sure thing according to Cher is that you don't give up. Giving up is not an option.  

Warren Buffett believes that there will come a time that you should take a job doing what you want and love. The kind where you will jump out of bed in the morning excited to get to work. He believes that the younger generations are finally getting it and that is that you don't always need to take a specific job just to look good on your resume. His sense of humor is not lost when he ended this interview by asking if this wasn't a bit like saving up sex for your old age? 

Bill Gates has a simple method to use when making decisions. He states that we should not make the same decision twice - meaning why bother deciding on an issue if it really isn't decided?

All of these famous people do not have all of the answers and have made their own life mistakes. This is called being human. I just find it interesting to listen to others and fit in what will work for me. When I read a story written about Dorothy Hamill
advocating for women to stand up with their doctors for breast cancer and ask the right questions, it was an eye opener. It gave me back some of my own self-confidence that I allowed to be taken away by a particular doctor and his intern. Now I know better.

I can honestly say that I have learned (at least 95% of the time) by following some of the advice from above. Most of the advice is really nothing new, perhaps just stated in different ways by different people. Sometimes, I just need to be reminded. A quote on my desk calendar for today is from Bruce Lee. "Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it."