Tuesday, January 17, 2012


This upcoming year, we have so much to look forward to..... The last week in February, we are going on a seven night, Western Caribbean cruise with some great friends, Floyd and Susan Cobb. Ray and I have known Floyd since we were 12/13, respectively. He was one of my best friends growing up, and Ray's as well. We went to Susan and Floyd's wedding and have managed to stay in touch over all of these many years. As much as we expect to enjoy the cruise and all that that entails, we are most excited about being there with our friends.

In late April or early May, we are planning to fly to Oregon, rent a car, and go exploring the north and central parts of the state and well as the west coast. We will dip into northern California to visit the Redwoods National Park, which is Ray's most favorite part of our trip. Seeing the giants has always been a big thing to him.

The following August, we will hook up the travel trailer and take off on a northern route, stopping to see friends and family in Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan. From there, we will head west, our destination - Glacier National Park. Our ultimate goal is to loop through Yellowstone, Grand Teton, hit eastern Oregon, and hopefully, Yosemite, before heading home. It looks daunting on the map. We'll have to see how it goes.

We've bought some excellent books on the area recommended by the Kestens. They have done all of the national parks and are great encouragers, as well as a fount of knowledge!

Looking back is important and reflection is necesssary, but, WOW!, looking head like this is really fun!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A New Year

As I sit here on a day I had looked forward to with so much anticipation, I have decided that being totally bummed out by changes in plans is also totally counterproductive. You know, the more special people are to you, the more you care about their happiness. So my pitiful "oh poor me, my plans are disrupted," it not only useless, it is selfish. When you love, truly love, you are no longer #1 in considering how disappointments should be handled.

I have so much to be thankful for. I never want to lose sight of the joy I receive from the people, family and friends, who are in my life. It isn't anything that they do, it is just enough that they are.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why Are We Here?

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
Leo Buscaglia

This quote, posted by a friend on FaceBook, struck a place in my heart.

I have always thought of myself as a caring person, but I have come to realize, later in life, that truly caring about someone means being a truly humble person. Sounds so easy, but if it were, there would be many more caring people in our world.

Humility smacks of being a pushover, being humiliated, being a doormat. But in reality, it is none of those. It simply means that you realize that we are all flawed and, as such, make mistakes and need understanding and forgiveness. Why would one worry so much about what others think of them, when most people are so wrapped up in themselves that they would welcome your interest and caring?

Here's the rub - just doing good things but for the wrong reasons, (like glorifying yourself) and not actually caring about others, what you have is false humility; you are a fake; you are in reality, a liar. It ain't easy being a truly caring person.

The one big reason I know that a should work on myself in this area is that I think of how truly caring God is. He knows my weaknesses and loves me anyway. Should I do any less?

I am blessed to have lots of people in my life whom I love, and who love me. I like to think that they know they can always come to me, talk to me, and ask me anything. I value them over myself. Now I must trust that I can expand this part of who I am to include those that I feel inferior to, that I think don't like me, and even those with whom I am frustrated or angry.

Remember to say the kind word, give a hug, encourage, listen, smile!

It is a good goal, I think. I will keep running the race....

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summertime at the Beach

"The Island"

This was the summer of fun, of no regrets, of relaxing, of feeling that being with family is the best time ever spent.

This was the summer of laughter: The Ultimate Dog Tease and the Not So Great Mystic Cat, on Youtube, going to the Mauraders game with Jenny and Tim, and having any conversation with Ben.

We felt complete, like a family should, even when it was just Ray and me.

The weather wasn't perfect, but it was.... calm, rough, hot, cool... no matter, we loved every day.

The first week we had regular morning visits from manatees, dolphins, and a pair of ospreys. Glorious!

We are happy to be home, but are ready to go back next year. I am so thankful and feel so blessed. 

PS   Oh my word! How could I forget Lily's "Oh my word," Sandi's pancake breakfast and homemade sour cream donuts, and Patrick's drawing/coloring awesomeness! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Living In the Moment

Salutation of the Dawn
Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.
- Sanskrit Proverb
When we are young and raising a family, we are so busy. Living in the moment is not a problem; so much to do, day-to-day, that we rarely look very far in the future. Oh, we acticipate holidays and summer, but staying grounded in the "Now", is more of a given than a choice!

However, the one thing about life is that you can be sure that it will always be changing. When things are bad, what a relief to know that 'this' won't be forever. When things are awesome, well, we always ask "Why can't our lives always be just like this?", don't we?

Getting older and adapting to the changes that entails, can rob you of the joy of living in the moment if you are not careful. Having a grandchild is the absolute best reminder, for me, to live each day to the fullest. I want to stay healthy and happy, so I can't just sit around every day, feeding my face, and reading a book . Three of my very favorite things to do! Perfect examples of how too much of the things that you love, not only aren't good for you, they don't make you happy either. I want to enjoy every moment with Patrick as he is growing up. I want him to have happy memories of his Grandma and Grandpa when he is grown. He is God's special blessing for us as we go through our later years.

So Carpe' Diem, y'all!

Monday, June 20, 2011


I removed my last post because I thought it sounded too much like I was whining or feeling sorry for myself. However, I don't mean to do either. So I reposted it since it honestly reflects how I have been trying so hard to not slide into an unhappy place.

After spending this weekend with so much family around, including our wonderful grandson and Jenny and Tim (who are not able to get over often), I know that I have turned a corner in this phase of my life. I just have too much to be thankful for to get bogged down in life's twists and turns.

I'll never be perfect, and that is OK. I am loved and have lots that I love as well.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

OK, I have to admit to myself that the past few months have been a bit stressful. As I have acknowledged in earlier posts, I tend to worry.... alot. Knowing that I trust in God and that He is my strength, worry should not take such a hold on me. But sometimes, it just does. So this post is about the events and circumstances that have led me to this bottom of the rabbit hole feeling. That being said, it is obvious to me that God is not the problem here, just my human failing to pray, trust, and listen when He speaks. For this, I will ask for forgiveness - again - and because He loves me, I will be forgiven - again. But also, I am hoping that writing about the process will help me not sink this far again. God does work in wonderous ways!

One year ago, I retired from teaching. The right thing to do and the right time to do it. That given, it was a major change in my life that required a restructuring of my life.The bulk of my interactions with people were no longer primarily tied to my job and the bulk of my time was not spent preparing for and doing my job. Since I loved the majority of my students and the people with whom I worked, there was a major hole left in my life.

Our son and daughter-in-law separated and in the fall, he came back home and has been living with us while trying to put his life back together. Because he is also the father of our most wonderful and exceptionally smart (read genius =) grandson, we have reaped the benefit of having him here often as he visits his Daddy. Lots of love and time filled with happy activities. However, the more love, the more concern for the well being of the person. Watching those you love flounder and make questionable choices is awful. Figuring out the fine line to walk as they are doing those things is no picnic either.

My Mom is in assisted living and has been in a steady decline since 1998 when my Dad began having physical and mental issues due to the onset of dementia. From the beginning of this horrible process of dying, I have been there for them. I wanted to be there for them. I love them so much and they more than deserve all of the time and love I could give them as they went through this difficult time. My Dad died in 2001 and my Mom has continued her decline. She no longer recognizes who we are, although I think she knows we are someone special to her. I know she doesn't even recognize herself. Bottom line here: I no longer visit her regularly and feel tremendous guilt because I can't get past the sadness I see and feel there, especially since she and I no longer have any real interaction. Guilt is a bummer.

My wonderful husband retired in November and in most ways, he was dealing with the hole left by it just as I was. For the first time in a long time, we were around each other 24/7 for long periods of time and not surprisingly, we got on each other's nerves. I thought he was doing things that were just off the wall - no rhyme or reason- and the fact that he tuned me out when we were talking just about convinced me that all he cared about was himself. Well, anyone who knows us and our relationship that has been around since we were in seventh grade, knows that Ray loves me more than he loves himself. His "man-thing" of not listening was not new, it was just that I was confronted with it more. And, my lessening of interaction with others had deprived me of lots of the meaningful conversation I was used to. He accused me of not having a sense of humor any more because I was overly touchy about things he would say and do that he thought were just him being him. And he was right...

Add money issues to the retirement mix, and worry can take center stage pretty fast!

Now we have done some awesome trips around FL and a month long one to GA/NC/VA, that pretty much made me confront all of this worry and relationships issues. And guess what I discovered? Well, the problem is me.

We have wonderful friends that we love, trust and have known for 40+ years. Reconnecting with them has been a major bright spot. I am a reader and we often discuss what we have read and share titles. Well, they recommended "Blue Like Jazz", by Donald Miller. What a blessing! This book spoke to my own insecurities and my personal beliefs about what my relationship with God looks like. He just has a way of letting you into his head, and amazingly it is alot like what is going on in your own head.  He is one of the most original writers I have ever read. AND he is funny!

So, having said the problem is me, I realize that too often I thought about me first and foremost. My doubt, worry, insecurity, and jealousy, stem from an "everything is about me" mentality. "Whoa", I thought to myself as I realized that I blame myself for everything and constantly doubt that anyone could really like, much less love me. This is a form of self-centeredness that had never occurred to me. When God said, "Love your neighbor as yourself..", He meant I was supposed to love myself, as well. I am just not very good at it. To be good at something, you must practice it. I haven't, but I have decided, that with His help, I will.

So,hopefully, my "Rabbit Hole", that I have retreated to on so many occasions will be a place that resides in my past. My future will be spent in the sunlight of the love of my family, friends, and God.

(The link to Ray LaMontagne's song is a shout out to both the song and to him.)