Friends, Family & Fun

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the wonderful people in my life. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family who love and care for me. As I have reflected, on all those I hold dear to my heart, I have felt deeply blessed to be the recipient of so much love and affection.

Each and every morning our bodies awake and arise, from the sleep so desperately needed during the night. As we open our eyes, and take in the morning, a new day awaits us. Our mind begins to churn with the thoughts of what our day might bring. Our heart begins to beat a little faster. Our senses begin to work in earnest, at the realization that a new day is upon us.

Often we begin our day with a quick, mental countdown of everything on our “To Do” list for the day. Sometimes…we awake slowly, and take time to savor those early morning feelings of peace and contentment, and the realization that today is a gift from God.

I have thought often lately of the many gifts that God has given me. Family and friends seem to be at the top my my list. I have been blessed with a wonderful family (immediate & extended), and I have been blessed with so many wonderful, and caring friends.

It is easy to get caught up in the challenges of the day. Each day we are faced with so many choices. What will we eat? What will we do? Who will we see? How will we act? Will we be kind? Or, will we lose our temper? Will we be observant of those around us? Or, simply focus on our own needs? Will we notice how our words affect others? Will we take the time to express gratitude? Will we stop and take a moment to truly observe those we are interacting with? How are they feeling? What can we do to lift them up?

When we take time to put others first, our whole world begins to change. Suddenly, it is as if you can read their thoughts and sense their feelings. You sense their frustration, their sadness, and how lonely they sometimes feel. You can sense their desire to be loved, and their quiet yearning for friendship.

You smile as you observe their joy, as they observe something simple that brings happiness to their heart. You watch as they go about their day. You understand that what they show on the outside (through their words and actions) is often very different from what they are feeling on the inside.

You feel all of their emotions that they try so desperately to hide. You feel their sadness, their pain, their longing for something better. You feel their joy, their happiness, and their love for others. You wish desperately that you could help them to understand how loved they are and how truly important they are in this journey we call life.

It is with new eyes that I observe those around me. My family, my friends, and even strangers that I encounter in my daily life. I am deeply grateful for each and every person who has been, who is, and who will be a part of my life. Each person brings unique gifts and talents to this world and each one seems to have a profound impact on my life.

It is for this reason that I write this post. Know that YOU are a gift from God. He has placed you on this earth to learn and to grow. You have been placed here for a special purpose. You can bless the lives of so many. There are some lives that only you can touch, in the way that is needed. Will you rise to the task? Or, will you go about your day oblivious to those around you. Only you can decide…

My challenge to those of you reading this post is to take the time to be more observant of those around you. Be less judgmental and more loving & kind. You may never know the trials and challenges facing those around you, but rest assured, they have them just like you.

Take the time to express gratitude, to show kindness, and to be patient. Pay attention to the body language of those you interact with. While you can, and should, listen to their words, their body language will tell you so much more. Listen to what they are really saying. Often, when we think others are angry, it is in reality that they are feeling hurt. When you recognize this simple truth, the outcome can be so much different. You can help to heal broken hearts if you will but truly listen.

“No Act of Kindness, No Matter How Small, is Ever Wasted” Aesop

Today I bought 30 Roses…

ImageI had just left the restaurant after having a delightful lunch with my husband and two of his coworkers. My husband had sent me a text earlier, inviting me to join them for lunch. I have to say that we had some great conversations and laughed A LOT! I’m not sure what was more fun, listening to the funny stories they shared, or watching them laugh so hard I thought they were going to cry. It was definitely a much needed break from my work day.

As I got in my car to leave, I remembered that I needed to pick up some laundry soap. So…I drove to the nearest grocery store to buy some. Upon entering the store I noticed all the beautiful flowers for sale. I’ll admit that on most grocery trips, I walk right by the flowers with nothing more than a quick glance in their direction. Today was different…

As I walked by the flowers, I looked at all the beautiful varieties and vibrant colors. I kept walking on by, as usual, when I suddenly decided to turn around. I walked back to the flower section and moved among the flowers, glancing at all the many choices. My eyes were naturally drawn to the roses, as they have always been a favorite of mine.

I soon found myself standing in front on the many, many, roses they had on display. I took in all the vibrant colors, and the aroma that wafted into the air surrounding them. While there were a variety of vibrant colors, I found myself searching for the white ones. They have always been my absolute favorite!

I spotted several bunches of white and ivory roses. I decided that today, the ivory colored roses seemed to draw my attention more. I picked up a pre-wrapped bunch, which contained 18 ivory colored roses. I decided I would buy them on an impulse. As I prepared to walk away, my eyes rested on a dozen red roses at the other end of the display. Okay…that was it. I was buying both!

I don’t often buy myself flowers, but I said to myself, “Why not?” I love flowers and the beauty they provide. Most often I observe them in their natural state outside. However, I have always loved a beautiful display of flowers in a vase. Today I was buying 30 roses for myself and completely happy with the arrangement.

When was the last time you bought yourself, or someone you love, flowers?

As I stood in line to pay for my roses today, I noticed the gentleman in front of me. He was waiting to pick up some flowers he had obviously purchased. As we began to chat, while we waited, he said to me, “I’m going to break into my wife’s car today while she’s at work.” He had a huge smile, that brightened his entire face, and I could tell he was excited to surprise his wife with flowers today. I smiled contently, as I watched and listened, to this kind man who was obviously planning to surprise his wife today. He was so excited, to share his surprise with me, that it was obvious he loved his wife very much.

How do you show your love for those you care about? Oftentimes, it is the small, simple gestures that mean the most. It doesn’t have to be flowers. It could be a simple note telling them you love them. Perhaps its a text message during the day to let them know you’re thinking of them. Maybe, its just spending time with them.

Often, we get caught up with our own busy lives, and all we have to do each day. It’s easy to forget to stop, and pay attention, to the subtle signs that could easily be overlooked. Think about those you love, and take the time to really notice them, each and every time you see them. Are they worried, stressed, happy, sad, content, overworked, exhausted, sleep deprived, serious, or playful? Consider how their day may have gone and find a way to do something kind for them. Remember…its the small things that matter most.

4:30 am is REALLY EARLY!

My adorable daughter and granddaughter who came to visit recently.

Okay, I’m back. It’s been about 3 months since my last post and time to write again.

This morning I awoke at 4:30 am to get up for my new morning workout schedule. I’ve been trying to determine the best time to workout as my life is much busier than last year. I finally concluded (with the help of my husband and daughter) that 4:30 am would have to be the time. I’ll admit that I had mixed feelings about getting up that early but I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself actually excited to head to the gym. I actually think I’m going to like that time.

When we walked in to the gym there were only a few people so it was wide open for anything we wanted to do. My husband, daughter and I all walked off in different directions as we had our own plans in mind for our morning workout routine. It was fun to have them there with me and just knowing that we are going together makes it a little easier to arise so early.

My goal is to go at least 5 days a week (preferably 6). After my injuries last year its taken me a while to get back into working out regularly again. My first day back was Saturday and just after Saturday’s and today’s workouts I am already feeling sore. I must admit that even though I’m sore, it feels good to be back.

I grew to love P90X last year and will most likely toss some of those workouts in now and then, but for now I’m hitting the gym and varying my workouts to keep my muscle groups confused and constantly improving. The one session of P90X that I plan to implement regularly is the Ab Ripper X routine. It’s brutal but REALLY WORKS! I’m going to start adding that in again next week.

Wish me luck as I “get back on the wagon” so to speak.

The photo I’m including was taken recently when my daughter and granddaughter came to visit. I just returned from visiting them last week as well and my granddaughter started walking while I was there. So fun to spend time with them. For those of you who are family, I’ll try to post some new photos soon of Ady’s first birthday.

Short & Sweet

We just finished spending the past two weeks with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter in town. It was fabulous! Being a grandma is incredible. I can’t even describe how happy I am every time I get to see and hold my granddaughter. It was a little disappointing this morning waking up without being able to hold my smiling, happy granddaughter before heading off to work. Adalynn is such a delightful little girl and so full of smiles and laughter that she is truly missed.

I had big plans to take lots of photos of her while she was here but ended up spending most of my free time playing with her and holding her. I did manage to snap a few photos though and thought I’d share a few here so our extended family could see how much she’s grown.

We were able to take Jessica, Ryan & Ady with us to cut down our Christmas tree. Ady had great fun checking out all the trees and people along the way. Here are a few photos of our adventure…

Here is Ady watching all the fun taking place…

Freezing cold but hanging in there…

Walking through the forest with her mommy…

Pretending to be a Christmas Tree ornament with her daddy…

No dad, I don’t think that is a proper Christmas tree…

Finally headed back to the car after finding the perfect tree. Thanks grandpa for carrying it!

I was able to snap a few photos of Ady while we were relaxing at home with the family too. Here are a few pictures of her…

Smiling for Grandma…

Pretty please can I have another cookie?

Ady loves to clap all the time, especially when she’s happy. You can’t help but smile when you watch her…

It was so much fun having all of my children home for a couple of weeks. As our children grow up our family just grows in size as new ones are added to the mix. I’m so grateful for all of my family and the happiness and joy they bring into my life.

Take time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life like spending time with your loved ones. Smiles and laughter are good for the soul so be sure to smile and laugh often…

Beauty Forgotten

So, this past year my family moved. We had lived in the same home for 18+ years. After moving 18 years worth of “stuff” to the new place we went back numerous times to clean, touch up paint and spruce up the yard before listing our home for sale.

On one of our trips back to the old house my son said to me, “Mom, we have to take these!” I looked over at him to see that he was pointing down at our beautiful lillies in the front yard. We had planted them the year before and they provided a vibrant and bright splash of color to the front yard. Of course, it was early Spring and the lillies were just beginning to grow and their vibrant color had not yet emerged. At first I was hesitant to move them, afraid that they would not handle the move well. My son won out and we finally dug them up on a later trip back to the house and brought them to our new home.

Anyone who has moved knows that its a BIG job! Somehow, our lillies were forgotten and left in temporary pots under the deck at our new home. We had become busy with unpacking and getting settled in our new home and forgot to re-plant the lillies in the ground. Each time we worked in the yard I would walk past the lillies and say to my son, “We really need to transplant those to the yard.” Well, we got busy and Spring soon turned into Summer.

One day, as I was sitting in the family room, I looked out the window and a flash of color caught my eye. As I took a second look, I realized that my lillies were in full bloom in their temporary pots under the deck. I quickly got up and walked outside to investigate further. I was amazed to see that each and every flower was in full bloom! I was surprised to see them in bloom as they had not received much light under the deck. In fact, I was shocked that they had bloomed at all. They were all leaning in odd directions as we had failed to support the stems due to the fact that we had quite literally forgotten all about them.

As I stood staring at the beautiful flowers a smile lit up my face. I LOVED my lillies and they were absolutely beautiful! It seemed that they didn’t care where they were planted, they were determined to bloom full and bright regardless of their surroundings. They had endured the shade and reduced sunlight. They had endured the small meager amount of dirt that we had planted them in “temporarily”. They had endured the lack of water as we had “forgotten them” quite literally. In spite of all the hardships they had endured, they were bright and beautiful.

I couldn’t help but think about all my wonderful friends as I stood looking at my lillies. I knew that many of my friends were enduring hardships of their own. We each face our own set of challenges in life and sometimes we may feel like these lillies, left and forgotten.

While many may be struggling to find nourishment spiritually or temporally, we can continue to shine forth as beacons of hope to others.  Regardless of our circumstances, we are important. We matter. There will always be someone who’s life we can touch through our example. Rather than hibernate in the dark we can shine forth and bring light to others through our service. Just as my lillies emerged from the darkness and overcome obstacles, we can overcome our trials and find beauty in living.

How will you choose to beautify the world around you? Whose spirit can you lift today? Is there someone you know that could use a good dose of laughter, a gentle touch,  or a kind word? How will you make a difference in the life of another. Will you? When we forget about ourselves and seek to lift another, our burdens become lighter.

Don’t despair if you are feeling “forgotten”. Search deep within yourself and find your “roots”. Whether you are planted on a firm foundation currently, or tipping slightly over, let your roots grab hold and pull you back to where you can stand firm again. Remind yourself that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU MATTER! Grab on to the HOPE that you will again STAND TALL and FIRM in your foundation.

Take one day at a time. CHOOSE to find the beauty in today!

The Miracle and Beauty of Fall

I LOVE FALL! It is one of my favorite seasons. Everything comes alive with vibrant colors of yellow, red and orange. As summer fades away and winter draws near everything is in a constant state of change. I can’t help but notice all the beautiful colors as I drive down the road. I find the transition that nature is undergoing breathtaking.

Some may think that having all the leaves drop from their branches is dreary, but I find it truly spectacular. The fact that every plant and tree are preparing to “hunker down” for the winter is amazing. I think we could all take note and learn something from the seasons. Just as each season has its own unique beauty, so does each season of our life.

The many colors of fall are some of my favorites. If I could, I would paint my entire home in the colors of fall. I find them warm and inviting. They are in stark contrast to the cold, bare colors of winter. In the fall I enjoy curling up with a good book, drinking something warm and soothing, and spending my extra time in perfect serenity as I watch the seasons slowly change. For me it is a time for meditation and contemplation and I enjoy every moment of it.

What do you enjoy about Fall? Do you love the colors as much as I do? How do you “transition” mentally from season to season? Do you look forward to the changes or do you dread them?

I have come to enjoy each season and the beauty within it. Have you?

The beautiful photo included with this post was sent to me via text by one of my dear friends. I loved it so much that I asked her if I could share it with all of you via my blog. The fabulous thing about having a good friend is that they know what will inspire and lift you. It made my day to know that my dear friend was thinking of me when she snapped this photo and sent it to me. What captures your attention and who does it remind you of? When you see something beautiful share it with a friend. Trust me, it will make them smile to know that you were thinking of them.

Counting the days…

Ady is sitting up all by herself and has 2 teeth now. What a cutie!!

Today I woke up thinking about my darling granddaughter. She lives in another state so I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like, however my daughter and son-in-law are wonderful about texting me photos and short video’s as she is growing. My daughter and I skype often so I can “see” Adalynn and chat with her face-to-face (over skype that is). Technology has made it a little easier to be so far away but it just isn’t quite the same as being there in person. I’m counting the days until I get to see them all again in person. Just a couple more months.

I can’t explain the joy I feel at being a grandmother. It’s a wonderful feeling. When they say you find joy in your posterity it is really true. Today I am grateful to not only be a mother but a grandmother. Life just keeps getting better.

What are you grateful for today? Take a few moments to make a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life. When you count your blessings you realize how much there is to be grateful for.