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.)

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Need

 What a dumb time to start another entry... I have four minutes before I must get up and get going for the day. Patrick is still asleep; and so are his dad and grandpa. It is just Mom and Grandma who is up (she wrote with a smile=).

Actually, it's the role thing that I want to write about. You know, daughter, wife, mom, etc.  Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I want to write about the person who occupies those roles. Where is she?

The older I get, the less I think about who I was when I was young. This, I am coming to believe, is a major mistake. Because many of the things in life that made me a happy person as I was growing up, are things that I don't do any more. So am I still that person I started out as? I really do want to be that happy and stress-less again. So how do I find her? Is she gone forever?

Change.... when it happens gradually, we hardly notice; we just keep moving. Always dealing with the events of daily life, some happy, some not so much. But with little time or energy left over to play outside, read for fun, draw or write; I forget how to just do. Now that there is time, will I able to get out of my rut and find the joy of so much I left behind? I feel the need to try.

I will make a promise to push myself toward recovering lost joys. To push toward being happy as I pry myself out of complacency.

I love my family. I love my life. But I could be happier and more content with just a little effort and some change.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Truly Living Our Life - Some Quotes

People are like stained-glass windows.

They sparkle and shine when the sun is out,

but when the darkness sets in,

their true beauty is revealed

only if there is a light from within.

~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross ~


If there were ever a time to dare, to make a difference,

to embark on something worth doing,

it is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily,

but for something that tugs at your heart,

something that's your aspiration,

something that's your dream.

You owe it to yourself to make your days here count.

Have fun.

Dig deep.


Dream big.


When you come to the edge of all the light you have,

and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown,

faith is knowing one of two things will happen:

There will be something solid to stand on,

or you will be taught how to fly.

~ Patrick Overton ~


The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur

when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.

For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort,

that we are likely to step out of our ruts

and start searching for different ways

or truer answers.

~ M. Scott Peck ~
(More to be added as I search.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Understanding and Accountability

There is a very fine line between understanding a problem and then making excuses for why the problem exists.

As a teacher, I always wanted to know if students had learning issues. SLD, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, processing/ordering/ visual/ auditory, etc. If you want a child to succeed, you must know their needs so you can use the best strategies to facilitate learning.  Did I require less quantity and quality sometimes for one student than I did for the majority? Yes. I expected what I thought was reasonable and doable for that student, at that time. But sometimes, a student would refuse to put forth the effort to learn, no matter what I did. Did he fail? Yes. Did I fail? I don't think so. Learning requires participation from both parties.

Traveling life's road, we owe it to ourselves to look at our own issues; not only for ourselves, but for those we love. Thankfully, there are educators along the way to help us. Friends, family, counselors, books, internet.... can all be part of the process. But we must be willing to explore our issues. And this often means exposing ourselves to painful realities of who we are or have become.

Alcoholism runs rampant through both sides of my family. That is a fact that I have been keenly aware of all of my life. I am very sensitive to my own enjoyment of wine, beer, and other types of alcoholic beverages. My guard has always been up.

But there are other traits and tendencies I have found wandering through my family tree as well. Traits that were not so obvious, but could bring you to your knees just as readily as alcohol - and did. Depression, other addictive behaviors, lack of focus/drive, the 'somewhere over the rainbow' syndrome. They are all sprouts on my tree.

The longer I live, the more I am sure that God doesn't expect us to be perfect. But He does expect us to learn from our mistakes. He expects us to do the best we possibly can with what He has given us. It goes back to being aware and putting forth effort. Being aware of what His expectations are; putting forth the effort to make changes that need to be made.  I believe that He will hold me accountable for how I lived my life. So, can I not do so as well?  I must continue the process, until my time runs out.

I know that God loves me. He loves me enough to hold me accountable for who I am and how I live out my time here on earth. I'm glad He doesn't make excuses for me... I want to get past my faults and failings and be a blessing to those I love.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Little Things

As I reflect on my early years, I think about why I was such a happy kid. (My late teens not withstanding!) I really had a carefree existance. Free from worry; free from meanness; free from sarcasm; free to be me. As I got older, I realized that not all kids were as fortunate as I was. Even within my extended family, some of my cousins dealt with harshness and sarcasm during the whole of their growing-up years. I'm not sure that they have ever recovered from it either. To think of living your whole life and never feeling truly happy is probably one of the worst, if not the worst, thing I can think of. The one thing I am sure of is that happiness comes from the little things in life. Yes, we need to have a few of those take-your-breath-away happy times. But true happiness comes when your daily routine brings you joy.

This morning, as I was ironing Drew's pants and shirt, I realized how I enjoyed doing this particular thing for him. If I were ironing for myself, it would be just another tedious thing like putting on makeup or fixing my hair so I wouldn't scare people. Fixing Ray's first cup of coffee and taking it to him in bed makes me happy. It also makes me happy that he does the same for me. When he cleans up the kitchen after I have been cooking and/or working all day. This makes me joyous.  Remembering not to put fingerprints on the car that he so lovingly cleans, makes me happy. Love can make tedious things enjoyable at best, and tolerable at worst. Just small, ordinary, and sometimes silly efforts can make such a difference for others and yourself.

My parents were not complainers. And they were strict. They expected us to do what we were told and heaven forbid that we would ever talk back to them. They spanked us when we weren't minding if that was the only way to get our attention. The worst spanking I ever got was when my mother told my father that I talked back to her and did not do as I was told. I was about eight, and I never got another spanking after that. Honestly, I think it hurt him more (well maybe as much) as it did me. My younger sisters got fewer spankings when they got to be school age than I did. I imagine that, by then, my parents had decided that other methods were better than spanking. We always knew that they loved us though, even when they didn't say it all the time. All of us girls raised our children very much the same way, except we say "I love you " constantly. I think my parents would approve.

Life is hard. But thank goodness, not all of the time. If you look at your life and all you see is hardship, boredom, defeat, unfulfillment, regret; you will be miserable. There is not one person on this earth who has a life devoid of any of those things. The difference is in your perspective. The glass being half full or half empty metaphor has been used to death, but it does get the point across. You must choose to be happy. You must get outside of yourself and love making other people happy.

I am a genuinely solitary person. When I was growing up, my favorite things were to go exploring by myself or climb a tree and let my imagination run wild. I was never really comfortable with lots of people around. But, I did learn to be happy in groups as I got older when it became obvious that I was not going to be a nun or run away and be a hermit.  Kind of ironic that I became a teacher; last thing I ever wanted to do growing up; surrounded by groups of teenagers from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon, for 34 years. And for the most part, I was very happy during my teaching career. Remarkable!

Building happiness:
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

"The happiest people seem to be those who have no particular reason for being so except that they are so."

William Ralph Inge

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter I
I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost... I am hopeless.

It isn't my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don't see it.

I fall in again.

I can't believe I am in this same place.

But it isn't my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it there.

I still fall in... it's a habit... but,

my eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

- Portia Nelson

Sunday, January 9, 2011


* Reminder to self:  Strength is an attitude that builds upon itself.  If I want to be strong physically, then I must have the strength to actively seek it. The same goes for believing in myself and my own worth as a person.  Don't fall into the trap of lethargy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Happy Days

You know, sometimes you wake up and you just know that this is going to be a good day. The worries of the day or night before don't seem so worrisome and the challenges don't seem so daunting.  Looking ahead holds promise, not dread. Self-doubt takes a back seat to a feeling of confidence that this will be a day of accomplishment.

I have always tried to live in the moment, trying not to always look forward to some specific time or event.  For the most part, I have been successful with that and it has helped to make me a happy, contented person.  Being a teacher, there is a great temptation to looking forward to holidays... long weekends.... SUMMER!  But honestly, I rarely did that.  Loving where you are has a major impact on how you interact with others.  That is not to say that you shouldn't plan ahead and make changes.  No, just that it is hard to have a positive outlook on life if all you can think about is stuff that is "around the corner," so to speak. And I have always wanted to impact those around me in a positive way, especially my family.

My worries about my immediate family have lessened a little. Jenny and Tim are taking more time for themselves.  I think they have turned a corner in their relationships with other family members and with each other.  This is due in great part to how they dealt with the loss of Linda, Tim's mother.  I am so proud of them both.  The nagging issues I have worried about the most, have softened as I have seen them come through one of the hardest situations one deals with in life.  Drew is also in a better place than he was just a few months ago.  He is happy with his job; has friends and co-workers that he enjoys; and can see light at the end of the financial tunnel.  As we have talked and shared our concerns and feelings about his separation, Patrick, and starting over, I see the promise of the man he can be shining in the man that he is.

Then there is us... the us that is a couple, parents, grandparents, and retirees!  As individuals we are dealing with a drastic change in our everyday life. Routines that kept our lives in order are being reworked. We stumble and occasionally we fall, but thankfully we both have a sense of humor!  We are more excited about the future than we are fearful. It is true that growing old isn't for sissies!  But all things considered, although we are treasuring our memories, we are so looking forward to making more of them.  Life goes on and we want to make the most of it.

So, there it is.  A kind of day that brings a promise of happiness and a future is what I strive to have every day.  Do I always succeed?  Of course not.  Does it matter that I try?  I believe it does.