Always Ready

Brrrrrrrrr!! Whoooooshhhh!!  After yesterday’s temperature reaching almost 70 degrees, winter has returned. It is in the 40s with wind gusts up to 45 miles an hour.  I was up half the night listening to the wind attempting to shake the house and everything in it.  When I woke up and looked out the window, tree limbs were being tossed around like a ship in a storm. I said a silent prayer that none of the large branches would come down on our cars or house! So far, so good!

This wacky weather in New Jersey is making outdoor activities difficult.  I try to walk our dog, Scraps, every day at least once a day.  He is a terrier with a lot of energy! This morning, as I listened to the winds and watched the weather on TV, I pondered whether or not I would be taking him today.  Scraps seemed to sense my hesitation and almost immediately, his ears perked up, his tail started to wag and he looked at me with an expression of pleaing, “It’s not that cold! I’m ready! Let’s go!  It’s just a little wind! What’s the problem?”

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So, as usual, I gave in and bundled up. There seemed to be enough time between the strong gusts that I could at least take him around the block.  I opened the door and put out the American flag as I do every morning, making sure it was secure. Scraps was anxious to get started and started to pull to being the walk. Almost immediately, I regretted not putting on my gloves.  It felt like it was in the 30’s again.  Ugh! I pulled my hat down further over my ears and started moving.

The neighborhood was littered with garbage cans since today was garbage day. I shivered a little and pulled up the zipper on my coat to my chin. BRR!  Scraps, however, was trotting along without a care in the world.  Wind? No problem!  Cold temps? Don’t be a sissy!

A few minutes into our walk, a gust of wind came and blew the top of a garbage can a few feet in front of us, just missing him. Scraps pinned his rather large ears back (I guess to keep the wind from blowing in them) stopped, lifted his leg on a tuft of grass and kept right on going, happy as ever.  For a split second, I considered turning around but then realized that Scraps is like that in any kind of weather. He is always ready to go for a walk. It could be 100 degrees out with 90% humidity (and yes, it does get that hot in NJ) and he is ready to go.  It could be snowing and even sleeting out, but he is always, always ready for a walk.  If I was willing to take him, I bet he would even walk in the pouring rain (well, maybe with his coat on).

I once read an article that we should try and be more like our dogs. It focused on their love of play, long amounts of sleep and being a loyal companion.  I would like to add one more thing to the list – to always be ready to walk/exercise and truly enjoy it as much as he does!  No matter what!

 

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New Year, New Idea

Happy New Year! Well, if you made a New Year’s resolution, you are almost one full week into keeping it! How are you doing?

I was not going to make a resolution this year. Usually, I vow to eat healthier, exercise more, blah, blah, blah. And every year, I do it for a few months and then tend to go back to my old habits. Can any of you relate? I did not want to set myself up for failure, as terrible as that sounds.  So this year, I did not make any resolutions…until I read a blog written by Missy Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

If you know anything about the show, you know they are a deeply religious family from Louisiana. It is really an amazing story and one that exemplifies the American Dream.  Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, literally went from rags to riches based on an idea, hard work, and the grace of God.  The first two seasons were my favorite ones because they were less scripted but I still watch the show.

This family has had a profound impact on my life. In fact, I credit them for bringing me closer to God, but that’s for another post. Anyway, Missy is Phil’s daughter-in-law and has gone through struggles of her own with her daughter who was born with a cleft lip and palate. This family stands strong however, and does something I think is brilliant.  Instead of making a resolution to improve their appearance or to stop a bad habit, they choose a verse from the Bible as their resolution for the year. And they do it as a family. What a great idea! There are so many short and simple verses that tell us to lead a good life. Why not choose one of them to  focus on? We will not only improve ourselves, but the lives of those around us.

I started to examine myself and one of my biggest issues is worrying about things that may or may not happen.  I have gotten better about realizing that all things are in God’s hands and that worrying does absolutely NOTHING but rob me of peace, but I still tend to do it. Sometimes, I am good during the day and then when I go to sleep at night, the “what if’s?” start creeping in my brain and prevent me from sleeping.  My mind starts racing and a million different thoughts come into my mind.  I hate that!  I know many of you can relate. An alarming number of Americans (including a growing number of children) are on medication for anxiety and depression. While it may be human nature to worry, some of us take it to the extreme.  But the verse below tells us to live in the present and not think about what we cannot control in the future.

Matthew 6:34:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)

And there it is! That’s the one. That will be my resolution for 2017. It will be a challenge, but that is what a resolution is supposed to be – a challenge to make you a better person. If you want to try this, you can simply google “Bible verses on…anxiety, depression, fear, love, etc.”

Whatever you resolve to do, I wish you the best of luck!  Hope you all have happy and healthy 2017!

 

I Don’t Know What to Say…

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It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything. Today’s post is a little depressing – just warning you. If you live in the Northeast, my mood right now is reflective of the gloomy weather we have been having. Almost a full week of rain is enough to make anyone a little sad. But the sun is coming out in two more days.  Or so the weathermen say…

Have you heard of Caring Bridge?

It’s an online journal for cancer patients so that their families can keep friends and family updated on their loved one’s progress. I have two friends who have Caring Bridge Journals set up for them. Both of them are younger than me. Both are in their 30’s. One was in her 20’s when she was diagnosed. Both now have cancer ravaging through their bodies despite years of chemo, radiation and other medications that are wearing their bodies down. However, these girls have a strength and determination that is unwavering. They are amazing and I admire their strength and courage.

Last night, I was telling my mom about one of my friends and she said, “It’s just not fair.” And it’s not. Cancer is terrible at any age, but when someone who is younger than you gets it, it really hits your heart. My heart is aching for my friends and their families.

Cancer has touched all of us in one way or another. I have lost several family members and friends’ mothers to cancer. My grandfather died of lung cancer at 53. My grandmother died of complications due to Hodgkin’s disease at 59. My dad’s cousin died of lung cancer that spread to her brain. She was 52. Three of my very close friends’ mothers are gone due to this rotten disease. Unfortunately, I could go on and on and on about how cancer has touched me personally.

My sister-in-law had thyroid cancer, but is now considered a “survivor” after almost 10 years of treatments, two surgeries and medication. I know there are more survivors and hope my friends will be added to that list one day.

When I hear that people have cancer, I am sometimes unsure what to say to them and their families. I usually tell them that they are in my thoughts and prayers (which is true) and that seems to be good thing to say, but sometimes I want to say more and am not sure how to do or say it. So I say nothing.  And then I feel guilty.

One of my uncle’s favorite sayings is, “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” I keep that in mind when I read the updates on their conditions. And I pray the right words will come out of my mouth to show them my support, love and concern.  Words can mean a lot.  I just need to find the right ones.

 

All You Need is LOVE!

 

Today is a day that is all about love and whether or not you have a sweetheart, there is love all around you.  Open your eyes and your heart and see it.  And feel it. And know that giving love can be just as rewarding as getting it.

I am extremely fortunate in that I have always felt love from God, my parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephew,  friends and even my beloved dogs! I now feel a love for and from my husband that is more powerful than anything I could have imagined. It is a wonderful feeling that warms my heart and soul.

But, for many years, I did not always see how much love was around me. I wanted the wrong person to love me and sometimes for the wrong reasons.  I saw my friends go through this as well in our numerous years of being single.  But now that I am older and wiser (I think),  I have realized a few things:

  • You cannot make a person love you.
  • It is never wrong to give or show a person that you love them.
  • Love is the strongest force on earth.
  • Letting someone love you is not always easy.
  • Being in love is wonderful, but it should not define who you are.
  • You have to love yourself first. No matter what.

So, as you celebrate Valentine’s Day (or not), remember those around you who love you not only today, but every day. And love them back. As the Beatles said, “All You Need is Love.”

 

Snow Days!

Okay, if you live in the Northeast, you might be sick of those two words.  In fact, you might resist the urge to even say them since we have had so many so quickly.  And it’s only February!

On Wednesday, while I was working from home (now that I am a consultant, there are no more real snow days), I saw on the news that parents and kids were going stir-crazy and that parents were walking or driving out to places where kids could play.  That made me stop and think.  Was I ever bored as a child when it snowed? Did my mom have to take my brother and I somewhere to be entertained? The answer is unequivocally – NO.  In fact, I rarely ever remember being bored when I was younger and especially not in winter!

When my mom would let my brother and I know that we had a snow day, it was a a cause for celebration!  Vince and I savored an extra day off because we used to PLAY.  All day. If it was really nasty out and we ran out of pretend games like Batman and Batgirl or having stormtroopers invade the family in my doll house, we would break out board games.  My personal favorites were Monopoly, Parcheesi, and Pokeno.  We also played card games such as Go Fish, Crazy Eights, War and Spades.  My mom would join in with those games as well, which was great!  When we were able to go outside (which we both preferred), our imaginations ran wild.  If we were not running from the abominable snowman, we were trapped on Plant Hoth (I was always Princess Lea, he was Luke Skywalker and our neighbor was Han Solo). We also went sledding, held running contests in the snow, made snowmen and snow forts and had snowball fights.  And, yes, we also helped shovel the driveway. In fact, my parents got us each our own red shovel.  Hmm. Now that I think back, I guess that was smart parenting move.  No excuses for EVERYONE not to help out!  But we just loved being in the snow and having fun!

Bored?  A need for entertainment?  My mother having to take us some place to be entertained on a SNOW DAY? Not for us!  Our house (inside and out), our imaginations and our games were all we ever needed.

The Birds, The Bugs and Me

Lately, due to the heat and because I can no longer seem to sleep past 5:30 AM, I have been going on very early morning jogs/walks.  I have always liked working out in the mornings to get my day started and watching the town stir from its sleep and awaken for another day.

My town is about 10 miles from New York City. It is small – only 4 by 4 square miles, but it represents many towns in New Jersey in terms of being extremely well (and overly)-populated.  I did not grow up in a town that had tons of people, so living here has been quite an adjustment.  If  I walk during the day, I smell the fumes of cars long with freshly laid tar (they are endlessly working to improve our streets).  I hear horns beeping, trucks roaring  and children playing the streets.  People are everywhere;  driving all over town, walking down the streets and sitting outside their houses or cafes enjoying the summer sun.  It takes several minutes to cross the street and I often have to dodge people walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk or with baby strollers along with fellow joggers/walkers and people walking their dogs. I guess it’s good because some days, it feels like an obstacle course!

Mornings, however, make my busy little town seem to somewhat of a desolate place.  The only sounds to be heard are those from birds and bugs.  I hear the birds calling to each other, squirrels with their high-pitched squeaks warning others that I am coming and of course, the heat bugs. I am not sure what the scientific name of these bugs are , but I call them heat bugs and have since I was a child. I remember my father telling me that when you hear a buzzing going duh-duh-duh-duh (say that REALLY fast) in the early morning, it is going to be a very hot day. And he was right.  Every time I hear that bug, I know it’s going to be a scorcher.

My latest walking route has me going down side streets with houses that are very well kept with lush lawns and beautiful landscaping.   I love looking at these houses and wonder who is living inside. I wonder what the inside looks like and who lives there.  As I walk past the charming older houses with lovely front porches, I see squirrels and chipmunks scurrying around getting their breakfast and likely storing up food for later on in the day.  I sometimes smell the alluring scent of pancakes or bacon coming from an open window. Mmmmm.  (They smell so much better than tar.)

Occasionally, I will see another person. Usually, it’s someone walking his/her dog or someone dressed in pajamas, opening their front door to get the morning paper.  Other than that, it’s just me.  And the animals, birds and bugs.  It’s tough to believe that in just a few short hours, the town will be filled with people much like raindrops fill a puddle.

And then, my quiet little town will become the bustling little city that most people know it to be. The squirrels and chipmunks will stay out of site.  The sounds of the bugs and birds will simmer down as if they do not want to compete against the sounds of the cars and trucks and people. And I will continue my day with a smile on my face. As if I have a little secret that no one else knows about.  And I will look forward to the next morning.  When it’s just the bugs, the birds and me.

 

 

For the Girls…

Today, I am thinking of all the wonderful women I have in my life from my mother and mother-in-law to my aunts, nieces, cousins and friends.  While I am not an expert on life or have a degree in philosophy, I do have some tips that I hope will make their day a little brighter. I am very blessed to have such strong and amazing females around me.  Taking the words of Martina McBride…”This one’s for the girls.”

Ladies,

1.  Don’t settle for ANYTHING or ANYONE.

2.  Do what makes you happy.

3.  Believe in yourself and you will be successful.

4.  Love yourself and your body just the way it is.  Do not compare yourself to the altered images of models in magazines and on TV.  They are altered. You are real!

5.  Cry. When you need to and when you want to.  It is not a sign of weakness.

6.  Take time for yourself, especially those of you who are mothers with careers.  I admire working moms more than any other group of people.  You are my heroes!

7.  Find something to smile about each and every day.  Hopefully, you won’t have to look too far!

8.  Do not waste your time with a person who puts you down – be it a boyfriend, friend, relative or husband.  People treat you the way you LET them treat you.  If a person is always negative or makes you feel badly about yourself, end that relationship and move on.  You deserve better!

9.  Enjoy the company of other women.  When a bunch of women get together, there is always laughter, smiles and great times!  GIRL POWER!

10.  Ask for help when you need it.  Women today are expected to do it all from being mothers and wives to having successful careers and running a household. When you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. It’s OKAY!!