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
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…
We just returned from a fun filled family vacation at the cabin. Many thanks go out to my husbands family for making our time with them so much fun. This post is dedicated to my father-in-law and his wife so they can share in the many photos we took from our time with them.
“The Cabin at 10 Acre Woods” is a favorite place for my family. We have spent many vacations there and when we’re not all able to go back we’ve sent our children to spend time with their grandpa in the summer’s. Life moves at a slower pace when we’re at the cabin. We rarely look at a clock or worry about the time. We just sit back, relax, and have fun!
The kids love to spend time in the lake and that is where much of our time is usually spent. The cabin sits on 10 acres with 1000 feet of waterfront on a spring fed lake. The water is crystal clear and refreshing to swim in. Launching the floating dock out into the lake is always a fun adventure. My three boys took on the task this year and had a blast doing it. Here’s a few photos of the launch and anchoring it down so they could jump off it.
Once the dock is pushed away from the shoreline the kids scramble to get into place so they can begin paddling it out farther into the lake. James had the easy task of enjoying the ride while his brothers paddled them out into the lake.
I love this photo of my boys. They had so much fun taking the dock out into the lake so they could jump off and swim in deeper water.
Jeffrey decided to be the first to jump in so he could test the depth of the lake to make sure they’d moved it out far enough into the lake. Big brother, Jonathan, dropped the ladder so Jeffrey could climb back up. I love this photo because it actually looks like Jeffrey is walking on water…
James decided to be next to jump off and didn’t waste any time jumping in. Jacqueline, Jim and Patricia all made their way to the dock rather quickly as well.
Knee boarding was one of the funnest adventures this year. My daughter, Jacqueline, could hardly wait to go! She had spent time at the cabin last year with her cousins and knew how much fun it was. She was amazing and it was so much fun watching all of her crazy expressions as my husband tried to make her task more challenging. After Jackie had her turn she decided to show her youngest brother, James, how to knee board. He had never been before but learned very quickly. He amazed all of us with how quickly he was able to get up on his knees. Here’s a few shots of their adventure.
Jackie just had to show off a little…
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jacqueline as she maneuvered all over the lake…
Jackie decided to stay in the water as she taught James what to do. Little did we know that she would end up staying in the water for much longer than she planned. James got up so quickly that we had to leave her in the middle of the lake as James cruised around on the knee board. Thank goodness she had her life jacket on and there weren’t any other boats on the lake. James had a blast smiling at her as he cruised by, multiple times, as we took him around the lake.
Here’s James in the water getting ready for his first try…
Here is James as he just begins his first run. One minute he was laying down and the next minute he had jumped up onto his knees. My husband and I kept looking back and forth at one another saying, “Did you see that?” We were shocked he got up so quickly.
Here’s my little boy enjoying the ride…
It’s usually pretty warm at the cabin so the kids spend lots of time in the water. My oldest daughter joined us at the cabin and brought my granddaughter with her. Ady had lots of fun checking out the water! Here’s a few photos of the kids and the lake.
Ady checking out the water for the first time…
Ady getting knee deep in the water…
Jess & Ady watching as the kids take off inner tubing with Grandpa…
This was one of the first photos I took at the cabin. The kids could hardly wait for their first dip in the lake…
Here’s a view to the south of one of the docks showing the various boats kept on the property for enjoyment. I realized after reviewing all my photos that I didn’t take a turn in the paddle boat this year. I love going out in that and peddling all over the lake. Oh well…there’s always next time.
Here’s a view looking north of the dock showing the shoreline. The water seemed a little higher this year as it came all the way up to the grass & trees. Normally when we go there is a few feet of sandy beach along the shoreline…
One of the days we spent at the cabin the weather was a little on the chilly side. My father-in-law decided to head outside and chop up some wood to stock up for the winter. Jessica, Jonathan and James decided that sounded like fun and followed him outside to help. Little did they know that the weather would turn wet and they’d end up finishing in the rain. They were all great sports and didn’t seem to mind the rain at all.
After spending some time watching his older brother chop wood, James decided he wanted a turn. Grandpa was kind enough to find a saw for him and took some time teaching him how to saw off some of the smaller, lower branches on the nearby trees that could be used for kindling.
Jonathan helped chop up a lot of the wood and then he and Jessica loaded it all up into the wood shed. Yes, they got a bit wet…
I love this photo of my father-in-law! The kids had so much fun working with him to chop up the wood.
Are you wondering what the cabin looks like? Well, here are a few photos of the cabin and the property surrounding it. It’s so peaceful here that I always feel like I could spend my entire summer here. My father-in-law and his wife bought the property years ago and have spent a great deal of time improving the property and the cabin over the years. When my oldest two kids would go back to spend summers with them it was just a tiny one room cabin that they built by hand. The original cabin is still part of the house today. They added the larger section about 10 years ago along with indoor plumbing and electricity.
Here’s a photo of the cabin and deck.
Here’s a view of the side of the cabin showing the smaller section, which is the original, hand-built, cabin. It has a screened in porch facing the larger main deck today.
A huge deck surrounds the south and east sides of the cabin offering plenty of space for BBQ’s and relaxing. They have fabulous lighting around the outside in the trees and down the railings of the two staircases.
We had a couple of huge campfires at night and made S’mores one night (which were delicious I might add).
Our vacation time at the cabin would not be complete without our family photos taken on the stairs. We do this every time we go and its fun to see how the kids have grown over the years.
Here’s Grandpa Jack and the kids.
Here’s my family. Everyone is here except my son-in-law (we missed you Ryan!).
Jim and his dad…
I can’t forget to include some photos of the rest of our extended family that we saw while visiting.
Here’s Jim and three of his siblings.
Here’s a photo of my husband and our two daughters and granddaughter.
I love this photo of Jacqueline and my granddaughter Ady. It seemed that every time I turned around someone different was carrying Adalynn in the pack. Fun times!
My wonderful husband. This photo was taken as we were cruising up the Mississippi river on a paddle boat.
Jim and I on the boat on the Mississippi river.
Two of my beautiful nieces. We had so much fun spending time with them and their parents.
Jackie and her aunt Kathy. Jackie actually had no idea that Kathy was behind her when I snapped this photo. Kathy saw me getting ready to take it and quickly leaned down to get in the picture. Jackie was so surprised when she turned around after and saw Kathy so close. It was actually quite funny!
Mary Kate was FABULOUS with Ady and spent a great deal of time playing with her while we were visiting them. Ady loved every minute of it too!
My sister-in-law, Ginger, and my niece Kelianne.
My oldest son, Jonathan.
The spectacular view from my sister-in-law’s (Kathy) house. I LOVE her view!
My post would not be complete without a few more photos of my kids and granddaughter…
My youngest son was thrilled to find this fountain after our cruise on the Mississippi River. As soon as I’d snapped this photo he immediately took off his shoes and cooled his feet off in the water.
I think James started something because pretty soon everyone was taking off their shoes and dipping their toes in the cool, refreshing water.
James was thrilled when his Uncle Pat let him ride his motorized scooter! When we went for a walk that night he rode it right along beside us the entire way. He thought that was the coolest toy ever! Thanks Pat for sharing your toy with him.
My two youngest boys had fun swinging with their niece on the porch of their Aunt Kathy’s house. Jeffrey spent many hours curled up in this hammock chair reading a book. The temperature was perfect out on the screened porch and the view was spectacular.
Here’s James and Ady taking their turn in the hammock chair. James was making sure to hold her in safely so she didn’t fall out.
This is one of my favorite photos of Adalynn. The colors are so vibrant. She sure was a great sport and so happy the entire time. I kept telling my daughter that she was blessed with the perfect baby! Ady was always happy and smiling for everyone.
Adalynn had lots of fun hanging out with her Grandpa Jim. Here she is sitting on her grandpa’s lap out on the deck at the cabin.
Even though my son-in-law wasn’t able to come with us on this trip he was always just a phone call away for my daughter. Here Jess is talking to Ry on the phone as we hung out on the porch of Kathy’s house. Good Food, Fabulous Family & Lots of Fun!
My two daughters and my niece spent a quiet afternoon hanging out with me on the porch. Much needed “Girl Time”. Ady had fun hanging out with the girls.
I snapped this tender photo of Adalynn the night before we flew home. She had crashed on my bed and was sleeping so peacefully that I just had to take a photo. She had a fun filled busy week and was all tuckered out and ready for a good night sleep.
Well, that’s about it for my photo journey of our vacation. I have literally hundred’s of photos that I took but thought I’d share these so that our extended family could see some of the pictures from our trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. Thank you to all of our family who made this trip so much fun! We Love You!!
Life has a way of throwing you a few curve balls now and then. As I reflect back on my life thus far, I am amazed at how each and every moment has helped to shape and mold who I am and who I am becoming.
My childhood years were filled with laughter, joy and happiness. I was raised in a good home with parents and siblings who loved me. They each played an important role in providing me with a solid foundation to build upon.
The teenage years brought with them the reality that sometimes hearts are broken and friendships are lost. I began to awaken to the reality that life was not always sunshine and lollipops. As I look back on those years I realize that they too shaped me in many ways. It is during this time that I began to think more deeply about what I wanted and who I wanted to become.
I’d have to say that my 20’s were some of the toughest years of my life. It was during this time that I experienced some of my most difficult trials. At times they seemed too difficult to overcome and there were times when I just wanted to give up. Fortunately, I persisted and gained the strength necessary to overcome them and endure them as best I could. Even though most of my 20’s were difficult, it was near the end of those years that I found the love, peace, and joy that I desired.
Then came the 30’s. Wow! Those years seem to be a blur to me in many ways. Life was busy, hectic and fun! Our family grew in size and my career took off and catapulted me far and fast. It seemed that much of this time I was just trying to keep up and do everything that was required of me. Life was good. However, this was when I started to reach deep within myself as I tried to figure out what I really wanted out of life.
That brings us to the 40’s. As I entered my 40’s I put on the brakes. I decided that I needed to slow down and catch my breath. I was purposeful in my decisions and began to evaluate all aspects of my life. I reflected on what was good and what needed some extra attention. I began to make the necessary changes needed, and this brought with it more clarity and understanding. My relationships with others took on a whole new meaning.
It has been interesting to contemplate where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I am headed in the future. I have discovered, over the past couple of years, what inspires me and what makes me tick. I understand myself better today than I ever have. I have waded through troubled waters, floated upon waves that carried me far beyond my wildest dreams, and sat peacefully in tranquility, contemplating where to go next.
Through the process of re-discovering who I am, I have come to realize that I am, who I have always been. I have come to accept that my strengths, and my weaknesses, help to shape who I am. I have discovered that those who know me best recognize my strengths better than I do. They see beyond my weaknesses and offer encouragement as I pursue my path in life.
Where would we be without friends and family? They help to shape and mold us throughout our lives. When we stumble, they are there to lift us up. They provide a shoulder to cry on, and they are the first to make us laugh when we are down. It is through my conversations with my closest friends and family that I have come to recognize that there are innate characteristics that form who I am. As I have made my way through life, I have come to accept and love who I am and who I am becoming.
Life is a journey. It is riddled with rocks and stones that at times can make us stumble and fall. However, life also provides many anchors and pillars of strength, that if we hold onto we will eventually find our way. Just as each year we experience the different seasons, and the changes they bring, we too experiences various seasons of life. Each one is important and brings with it new growth and a new awakening to what is to come.
Take time to enjoy the moment, and the season of life, you are in right now. With time, the seasons of your life will change and bring with them new opportunities for growth. Take time for reflection and learning, for they will bring with them a new outlook on life and more clarity as you move forward and into the next season of life. As you seek to re-discover who you are, you may just find that you are who you always thought you were. Accept yourself for who you are. Recognize your strengths and understand your weaknesses. When you do this, you will be better prepared to face the future with boldness. Then, aim high. Who knows, you just might reach your goal.
I have seriously been slacking in my daily blog posts the past few weeks. No, I’ve not forgotten about my blog, I’ve just been busy or sick. I was thinking this past week about the many posts I’ve written since beginning my blog in January. Here are a few of my favorites so far…
Running at Night Changed My Life – This was one of my early posts and still remains one of my favorites. In this post I share some very personal feelings about a difficult time in my life. What I love about this one is the important lessons I learned and how having a true friend can really make a huge difference in overcoming challenges. This post shares a “turning point” for me in the healing process while grieving the loss of my brother. Much of what I learned during that time helped me immensely as I grew older and experienced other challenges in life. It shows how ONE PERSON REALLY CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE in the life of another. You can click here to read the entire post.
Cabins, Caves & Sand Dunes- Will I Survive? – This post highlights the joys of childhood as I reflect on a summer day in my youth. I grew up in what I would consider one of the best times to be a child. Summer days were spent exploring nature, playing with friends and letting our imaginations entertain us! Life was great. I wish every child could experience days like the one I share here. You can click here to read the entire post.
18 Candles, Soft Music & A Hot Bath – I love this post because it reminds me of how thoughtful my husband is. This single act of kindness was so unexpected at the end of a long, tiring day. We were both exhausted, and yet he still thought of me and took the time to perform a simple act of kindness…one that literally took my breath away. It reminds me of our constant need to be thoughtful and kind, to think of others before ourselves. It reminds me to ask myself, “What can I do to brighten someone’s day or lighten their load?” You can click here to read the entire post.
The Challenge – Are You With Me?– This particular post sent me on a journey of self-discovery. This was the “seed” that planted my desire to complete P90X. The journey was tough and filled with challenges. Each day I woke up sore, tired and in pain. In spite of feeling sore each day I realized what I was truly capable of. The program requires 6 days of INTENSE exercise. It took a lot of mental and physical commitment to complete this challenge. I learned a lot about myself during this time. You (my readers) were fabulous in providing encouragement along the way. This post was just the beginning of a marvelous journey. You can click here to read the entire post.
Of course there are many more posts that I have enjoyed writing, these are just a few of my favorites. What are some of your favorites? I’d love to hear your feedback.
It was Saturday morning and I had just loaded up my trunk with all my son’s baseball gear for his game. As he and I climbed into the car and prepared to leave for his game I realized I had forgotten my cell phone in the house. I put the car in park as I prepared to go back inside to get it. My son, anxious to get to his game, said to me, “Mom, just forget about it, let’s go!” I looked in the rear view mirror and saw that he really meant it. He didn’t want to be late. I made the decision to just “forget about it” and we headed off to the game.
I must admit that while driving to the ball field a million thoughts ran through my head about all the possible things that could go wrong and I would be stuck without a phone to call anyone. By the time we finally reached the ball field and unpacked all his gear and mine (chair, blanket etc.) I had accepted the fact that I would be phoneless for the next 2 hours. How would I ever survive?
In truth, I survived just fine. In fact, I enjoyed the game more than ever before. I was not interrupted by calls or text messages and it was heavenly!
We live in a world where everyone is connected 24/7. We either have our cell phone handy or are keeping in touch via email, facebook, twitter or the many other sources of communication. While I am not complaining about the many avenues of “staying connected” I miss the days when life was simpler. The cell phone is one of my favorite ways to stay connected, however it also interrupts my life in so many ways.
Have you ever been talking to someone in person only to have them ask you to “hold on” for a minute while they take a phone call? How does it make you feel? We all do it. Whoever is calling always seems to be more important that those we are with. This has been one of my biggest frustrations with the cell phone. I have worked in an industry for 16 years that requires a lot of communication via phone. About 10 years ago I made the decision that when I was with a client I would not answer my cell phone. I prepared all of my clients that this was how I conducted my business. I respected and valued their time and would give them my undivided attention when we were together. I also explained to them that there may be times when they would get my voicemail because I would be with another client, whom I also showed respect for by not answering my phone when I was with them. While I am the first to admit that I’m not perfect, I truly made an effort to respect the time my clients were with me.
One of the areas that was more difficult to apply this rule was when I was with my family. While I did not answer the phone when I was with a client, I would answer a client call when I was with my family. This became a frustration for my husband and children. I struggled with the “need” to catch up on client calls while we were traveling to dinner or doing other activities together. It took quite a bit of time for me to truly understand the message that I was sending to my family, “They came after my clients.” This was not the message I wanted to send.
The solution that I finally found to work was that I would schedule time with my family. They were booked in my calendar as appointments, just like my clients. I tried to honor my time with them and respect my time with them. This worked wonderfully. When I would finally return calls it would be after my appointment (whether that was with my family or a client it was the same). This made a huge difference in our relationships. My family began to see that THEY were important to me and I would give them my undivided attention. I’ll admit that it was incredibly difficult, especially when I was in the middle of negotiating a sale. However, I knew that I had to do it.
When I entered the industry I’ve worked in for the past 16 years I realized pretty quickly that far too many sacrificed their families for the business. I made a decision never to do that. As business began to take off and snowball it carried me with it. Life and work got busier and busier. It was at the height of it all that I had to step back and say, “Whoa…slow down. What’s happening here?” My family was suffering from my crazy schedule and lack of attention. I had to do something and I had to do something fast. It was then that I put on the brakes and started investing more time and energy into my family. Thank goodness I did! They are everything to me.
Take a moment to evaluate your day today. How many times did you pick up the phone to answer a call when you were spending time with your family or friends? How do you think that made them feel? Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re doing. What messages are you sending to your family? Who’s more important in the eternal scope of things? You will be amazed at the difference when you finally give your family the respect and time they deserve.
Have we really become so attached to our cell phones that we neglect those we love? We have voicemail for a reason….so people can leave us messages. Don’t be afraid to use it. Have respect for your family and friends and then respect them for doing the same. It’s okay to unplug now and then. Learn to let go…
You may or may not agree with me on this one, but take it from someone who learned this the hard way. Show those you love that they ARE important to you by giving them the respect and time they deserve. Turn your phone off, put it on silent, or just leave it home every once in a while and give them your undivided attention. They’ll appreciate it and you might actually enjoy the break from your ringing cell phone too!
I didn’t know it at the time, but with the arrival of my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter I also received the added gift of having my own personal chef for 2 weeks! My son-in-law loves to cook! For the past two weeks I have come home each day to the delicious smells of dinner cooking. As I would enter the house I could not only smell the food but hear the laughter and noise from the kitchen. It was fun to walk in to the kitchen to the sight of my daughter and son-in-law cooking. We were delighted each night with delicious meals and often a yummy treat as well!
Ryan has a delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe that he must have baked up at least 4 times during the past two weeks. He has it memorized and loves to tease everyone that he will not divulge the recipe. The cookies are absolutely HEAVEN! Twice while he was here, my daughter helped him make delicious cakes from scratch and decorated them in fun ways.
I realized early on that Ryan was fabulous with the grill. He loved to marinate meats and cook them on the grill. He even added grilled pineapple one night which was absolutely divine. I think my absolute favorite dinner was the chicken enchiladas. I don’t know what all he put in the sauce (he refused to tell me), but they were incredible. I think I could have eaten them every single night and been extremely happy. I must admit that my goal to “eat healthy” was severely challenged during the past two weeks. But hey…it’s only two weeks, right? I probably should have taken photos of all the fabulous meals but quite honestly, I forgot. Sorry.
I know that I have slacked on my daily posts over the past two weeks but I have been busy enjoying the company of my daughter and her family. I have spent much of my free time holding my granddaughter and visiting with family. The time has flown by so fast and I was sad to have to say goodbye this morning as they left to head back to their own home. I will always treasure the time we were able to spend with them. I’m already trying to figure out how I can squeeze in a trip to visit them this summer.
On another note….Yesterday I finally went to the doctor and had him look at my leg (I injured it 3 weeks ago). It was as I had expected…a bad muscle injury. He said the type of injury I have, takes at least 6 full weeks of complete rest to heal. I guess that explains why I keep re-injuring it each week as I try to push myself. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I have to give my leg the full 6 weeks to recover. Since the injury is in my right leg I’m hoping that I can still do upper body workouts. I’m going to at least give it a try so I can get some exercise in. This was disheartening news but I know I need to follow the doctors orders so that I don’t make it worse.