Always Loved

The older I get, the more I realize how fortunate I am to have always felt loved, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of my life.  I have been blessed with many things in my life, but by far, the greatest blessings I have received are the people God has put in my life.

My first valentine was my dad.  He always made the day special by getting me a box of Russel Stover candy – the one with the deep red cellophane on top. I remember it having dark chocolate, milk chocolate and one piece each of a pink and yellow chocolate. I loved each and every one and loved my dad for making the day special!  My brother later played a role and would give me stickers for my sticker collection or a small box of chocolates. I remember one year when I was in my 20s, I had just broken up with someone and my dad and brother sent me flowers at work.  I broke down in tears and still have the card they sent.  It meant so much and cheered me up right away!

In elementary school, my classmates were my valentines. We gave each other valentines to put in our decorated paper lunch bags. I fondly remember giving and receiving Scooby Doo valentines along with the The Flinstones, Barbie, Transformers and Strawberry Shortcake! Yes, I am dating myself!  I don’t have many memories of Valentine’s Day in middle school, other than one boy giving me a flower, but he was not my boyfriend. In high school, I only had a boyfriend my junior and senior years and remember getting pink and red carnations at lunch in the cafeteria. Such a romantic place to get a gift! HA!!

My mom was my valentine a few years as well. I remember one year, I was dating some yahoo who did not get me a gift for Valentine’s Day. She felt badly for me so she bought me a beautiful silver locket with a rose engraved on it. It meant so much to me and still does to this day.

For a few years, my students and niece and nephew were my valentines.  They would give me valentines and little boxes of chocolate. It was so sweet for the kids to think of me.  Even if I was feeling lonely, their heartfelt cards and gifts always warmed my heart and made me smile.

For over a decade, my girlfriends were my valentines since we were all single! There were a few years where one or two of us had dates, but for many years, it was just “the girls.” And that never stopped us from having a great time! We would go dinner or to our favorite martini bar or wherever we wanted.  I remember one year, we all met at one of our favorite bars and every single one of us wore red.  The bartender referred to us as “the girls in red” all night. Hey, it helped us get free drinks! One of the best times was the year we went to Atlantic City to celebrate.  Our usual night of drinking, dancing, and gambling made it one of the best times! So. Much. Fun!!

When I was 34, I met my ultimate valentine, my husband! Though I didn’t know it at the time, the day we met was the day my life would change forever. Since that date, almost 10 years ago, I met the man with whom I would spend the rest of my days.  I could not have imagined that one person could bring so much joy, happiness and love into my life. He is an amazing husband and person and  I love him with all my heart and soul!

Today is a day about love. But really, every day should be!  There is love all around us but sometimes, I think we forget how much we are loved by our parents, siblings, children, friends, and significant others. I hope each of you feels love today and every day and have a wonderful year filled with happiness, laughter and smiles!

 

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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!

 

This Year for Lent…

I am giving up Facebook. I don’t post much on Facebook, but I scroll and “like” things.

A lot.  Too much.

Why? Because I am nosy.  Yep. I hate to admit it, but it’s true.  While Facebook and other social media can be great outlets to bring awareness to causes and see friends and families on vacations and other positive things, it can also bring out the worst in people.

Or maybe it’s just me.

As I scroll along my feed,  I have noticed that seeing certain people’s pictures or reading “news” articles tend to bring out my judgmental side.  I don’t want to be judgmental and wonder if I have become more judgmental since I started on Facebook. I’m thinking yes. Also, I  get very angry reading articles on the awful things people do to each other and do not want to see pictures of abused animals or children on my feed.  I know evil exists and that God will take care of them, but when I see abuse, especially of a child or animal, I wish HORRIBLE things on the abusers, which is also not very Godly. Shame on me.

Finally, a lot of gossip stems from Facebook posts.  I do not want to be a part of gossip anymore.  I feel that while I have gotten better about it, I still have some work to do.  Every now and again, I still get sucked into “Did you see what she posted on Facebook?” “Wow. What was she wearing?” “Why would she post THAT?”  Who the heck am I to think these things? Shame on me again.

Since Facebook definitely causes me to be un-Godly at times and takes my time away from doing something productive, I am giving it up for Lent, along with my traditional pleasure food – chocolate.  I am also pledging to read and reflect on scripture every day.  That way, maybe I will have the strength and guidance to be a better person – on and off social media. Who knows? Maybe I will not be on Facebook at all anymore after this experience.  Time will tell…

What are you giving up for Lent this year?  What do you hope to get out of it?

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.”

 

It’s Their Birthdays!

 

 

Today is a very special day in my husband’s  family. It is the birthday of three family members, one being my amazing husband (Happy 40th, honey!) Now, what are the chances that THREE family members would be born on the same exact day?  Well, birthday sharing seems to be a pattern with me.  My husband shares his birthday with his father and God-daughter,  I was born on my aunt’s birthday, my brother was born on my father’s birthday and my mom shared her birthday with my late great aunt. I think it’s pretty neat that so many people close to me share their special days.

Last night, as I struggled to fall asleep, I started thinking about birthdays and realized a few unusual things.  Six months out of the year, we celebrate multiple birthdays from both sides of the family (taking into consideration our immediate families, parents’ siblings, first cousins and their children).  Check it out…

March – Four birthdays

June – Five birthdays

July – Three birthdays

August – Four birthdays

September – Three birthdays

November – Three birthdays

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that is really neat.  Along with our love for family and food, Italian heritage and strong core values, sharing birthday months  is one more thing our families have in common – which is why I will say again that I am so blessed to have been born into a wonderful family and to have married into another.

 

 

 

 

Respect the Position

 

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Happy Presidents’ Day!  This holiday was originally created to honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, two men who led the nation during very difficult times. Any president who led our country while we were at war had a tremendous task – to make sure that America was secure.  Over the years, the day has been changed to honor all of our presidents.  Men who chose and were elected to the highest position in the world.

I won’t talk politics, but will say a few things about the position of the President of the United States:

1.  It is not just the president who makes the decisions. He has numerous advisers, cabinet members and even family members and friends who affect what he does and says.  However, it is he who ends up taking the blame for his entire administration, which I guess is only right since he does have the final say.  But his decisions are based on information gathered and given by others.  He is only one man with many things to handle in American and overseas.  He must base his decisions from intelligence and the experience of others.  He does not and cannot possibly know every single thing about every single issue. He relies on others to do this for him.

2.  No matter how you feel about a president, he deserves respect.  He is the most powerful man in the world and he represents America.  I cannot stand when people publicly bad mouth our leader. While we do have freedom of speech, hearing someone call our president a “baffoon” or “idiot” on TV or in the newspaper makes our entire country look bad. Even if we think that, it should not be said publicly. You can certainly say it in your home or when you are with friends, and everyone is entitled to their opinions, but statements that degrade our president in front of the world make us look bad.

Years ago, while touring in England, the Dixie Chicks said they were “ashamed” of President Bush. I had a ticket to go see one of their concerts and immediately sold it.  I think it was disgraceful that they bad-mouthed the leader of our American family, especially in another country and especially during one of the most difficult periods in American history. Say what you want about Bush, but no other president was ever put in the situation he was and many would agree that 9/11 was by far, the darkest day in our history.  We needed to stand together, not blame one person for the response.  The same goes to those who blame President Clinton for not having Bin Laden killed when he had the chance or who feel that Bush knew there was a hijacking attempt in the works.  If you want to blame one man for 9/11, go ahead.  But blame the person who was really responsible –  Bin Laden.

I am glad that all of our presidents are honored today. While some certainly did more than others for our country, we have to remember the time period in which they served. If it was a peaceful time, they did not have to do too much.  But those who served during crises in America and  abroad are the ones we really remember.  Their ability to lead was put to the test.

A president’s legacy is all about timing.  And they have no idea what may happen while they are in office.  We have to hope and trust that whatever does happen, our chosen leader will assist and protect us to the best of his ability.  So, please – at the very least, respect the position of being President and while you can say and think what you want, remember who might be listening…

 

To Give or Give Up? That is the Lenten Question…

Christianity religious symbols, cross and book

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent for Catholics and other Christians.

It was the first of 40 days of  fasting and repentance.

But today is Valentine’s Day and when this day of love falls during the season of sacrifice, it poses a problem for some people.  According to what I was taught, Lent is about sacrifice, abstinence from pleasures and moderation.  But Valentine’s Day is about giving – jewelry, flowers, chocolate, food, wine….love. As you can see, these are quite the opposite of what we are supposed to observe during Lent.

According to dictionary.com, Lent is:

(in the Christian religion) an annual season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 weekdays to Easter, observed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, and certain other churches.

Typically, people give up sweets or chocolate or snacking between meals.

If you do observe Lent, you might be asking yourself these questions…Should I eat my chocolates even though I gave it up for Lent?  Should I indulge in that ice cream brownie dessert after dinner if I’ve give up all sweets?  Am I allowed to have dessert during Lent?  If I eat the chocolates later this afternoon, is that snacking?  Aren’t we supposed to fast between meals? Or is it all day? Can I cheat on Sundays? Does abstinence really mean abstinence from ALL pleasures?  HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!

The practices of Lent have changed drastically over the years.

Here is a brief history of Lent from my Catholic family’s experiences:

My parents are the same age, but one grew up in New York and the other in New Jersey.  When my father was a child, it was a sin to eat meat ANY Friday during the entire year. He was told it was a  mortal sin (one that could lead to a person going to hell).  My mom was told it was a venial (minor) sin, but still it was a sin. No meat on Fridays ever. This was during the 1940’s – 1960’s.

When I was a child in the 70’s and 80’s you were not to eat meat on Fridays during Lent and we also gave something up for the full 40 days.  In the 90’s when I was a young adult, I used to give up chocolate for the 40 days and twice I gave up drinking. That was a huge sacrifice when I was in my 20’s.  I was the designated driver every week and saw a whole different view of “going out.” But I did it and I was pretty proud. Which I think is actually a sin.

Then, in the early 90’s and early 2000’s, I heard from my students who were in CCD that their priest said they were allowed to cheat on Sundays during Lent. It was a “free day” to indulge in whatever they gave up. I was really surprised.  This was quite different from what  I had been told and I kind of felt that it was cheating.  Why wouldn’t the sacrifice last the entire 40 days? When did that change?  Was the priest just being nice to the kids?  Did that apply to adults as well?

At mass one Sunday a few years ago,  a priest said that it was more important to do things for others than to make a sacrifice during Lent.  He said Lent was a time of service and that we should be devoting our time to helping others and doing good deeds. Maybe we could volunteer, offer to help  neighbor.

While I think we are supposed to be helping those in need anyway, I am wondering if we are still supposed to give something up.  And, if Jesus sacrificed his life for us, aren’t we supposed to make a sacrifice for him? I was very confused.  I am still confused.

One thing is for sure though. Not eating meat on Fridays during Lent is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.  It was something made up by the Church.  From what I heard, the fishing industry in Rome was doing poorly and that the Catholic Church created the “no eating meat on Fridays” rule to help them out.  If people did not eat meat, they would eat fish. Today, in America, it’s the pizza parlors that profiting from this rule.

So, for the next 39 days, should we give or give up?  Is Lent about service or sacrifice?  I really have no answers.  I do know that I cannot seem to understand or keep up with the ever-changing rules of the church.  However, I will continue to try and live a good life and be a good person. That is one teaching that hasn’t changed.  And one I can follow without question.