It’s a Brand New Year

What are you going to do with it?

That’s 365 days. It’s a lot of time to do something you haven’t done before.

To try something new. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something you’ve thought about but just haven’t had the opportunity – or the confidence – to try. 

You’re not happy with where you are, what you’re doing? What’s keeping you from changing it? Fear of failure? Or fear of succeeding? Lack of motivation? Lack of self-confidence? Or just not knowing what to do or where to go next?

You’ve heard me say many times I don’t make New Years resolutions. Resolutions are broken usually within the first couple of weeks of the new year. Everyone can resolve to do something, but resolving and actually doing are two different things.

To be successful in this new year you’ve been given takes planning, determination, focus, willpower, and something one of my favorite high school teachers called stick-to-it-ive-ness. Keeping at it no matter what.

It’s always easier to give up when it gets difficult rather than to keep pushing through to your goal. It’s easier to say “I can’t” rather than “I can.”

That’s not saying you have to keep doing the same thing over and over if what you’re doing just isn’t working. Take a hard look at what you’re trying to accomplish and try to figure out how to do it differently to produce the desired results. Ask others to give their input and don’t be afraid to listen to what they have to say. Many times a fresh pair of eyes can see things you can’t, and suddenly you figure out a new plan that will change your outcome.

What’s your first and most important thing that you need to re-do?

Are you trying for a new job, but nothing seems to be working? Is it because you’re not presenting your qualifications properly? Or maybe you’re trying for a job that’s just not right for your skills and interests? Or maybe you’re trying for a job instead of a position that excites you; a position that enables you to use your past experiences in a new way, maybe in a new field.

Try writing out a job description of your ideal position, using your qualifications and experience as a base for what you’d enjoy doing. And don’t give that position a name, because it limits your creativity and boxes you in to a particular job. Again. Then make your plan to look for a position that incorporates those skills. Who says you have to stay in the same line of work you’ve always been in?  Your unique set of skills may open you up to an entire new career.

Maybe you want to start your own business. Be your own boss. While that’s not as easy as it sounds, if you want to do it, what’s holding you back? Try it. Put together your business plan. And if it doesn’t work right at first, instead of getting discouraged and giving up, take a hard look at what your business is. Are you selling a product, and if so, is it a product lots of people will want, and can you sell enough of that product to make it a full time endeavor? Maybe, although it’s a product you’re excited about, maybe you’re one of the few who are excited about that product. So what could you change about it to make it more desirable to others? Or what could you add to your product line to generate business?

If you’re offering a service, is it service that lots of people need? Who are you trying to reach? How are you trying to reach them? Look closely at how you’re marketing the service. Are you reaching your target audience?  If not, what can you do differently so those people will know you’re out there, ready to help them?

And if your business plan isn’t working, maybe you need to redo that plan so it’ll work.

Or maybe you’re looking for a new relationship. Maybe you’re stuck in a relationship that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. You don’t want to give up, but you also aren’t happy. So are you going to settle for what you’ve got or decide to go for someone who’s more suited to you, whose interests are the same as yours, and who enjoys spending quality time with you? Rather than being afraid you’ll not have anyone at all, look for someone who’s more suited to you. Which is worse – settling for what you think you have, or deciding there’s more to life than what you currently have, and doing what’s necessary to change it? Being alone with yourself is usually better than being alone in an unhappy relationship.

Maybe you want to improve your health, exercise more, eat healthier. That’s a great goal, but you still need a plan, and you need to stick to it. You’re the only one who can make that plan work. And remember that’s going to be a lifetime commitment. Not just for this coming year. And believe it or not, this will be the hardest of the four ideas I’ve just presented to be accomplished. 

These are just a few things you can look at changing for the new year. Notice I still didn’t say the word “resolution”. Because resolutions don’t work. Plans can work. But change only works when you make a plan and stick to it. 

And remember all plans have to be flexible. Because something is always going to come up and try to derail your plan, no matter how well thought out it is. And that’s called life. Life happens to all of us. And we have to continually be prepared to change our plans to fit in with what life brings us.

Sound like an impossible situation? Not at all. All our plans and goals are important to us. It’s what makes us who we are. And just because our first set of plans don’t work, it doesn’t mean we’ve failed. It means we’re learning. And growing.

Happy New Year to everyone!

How Do You See the Glass?

Half empty?

Half full?

Or maybe it’s leaking and there’s no plug to stop it.

That’s a decision you need to make. Now. The new year is only a few days old, but already you’re complaining that it’s just a repeat of last year.

The same problems, the same situations that you were stuck in last year. It’s a new year and you’re still miserable. What’s the point?

So the glass is half empty? Or is it leaking like a sieve and you can’t find anything to plug the hole?

Are you going to waste this entire new year ahead of you concentrating on everything that’s still wrong in your life? Complaining, feeling depressed, and concentrating on everything that you think is wrong in your life instead of looking at what’s good in your life, and finalizing and working those plans to change what’s still wrong?

If you continue to see the glass as half empty, it’s only going to start draining down further, and eventually it’ll be empty all the way.

Then what do you do?

Sitting around and looking at things negatively isn’t going to make that glass fill up; it’s not going to plug the hole that allows what’s still inside to pour out and become wasted.

“But you don’t understand how I feel. You have a job/a nice home/a boyfriend or girlfriend/husband or wife/you’re not in pain all the time and facing surgery/your kids aren’t in big trouble/you’re not down to your last few dollars and can’t pay your bills….”

Sound familiar? Guess what? You have no idea what that other person is going through. Because you’re concentrating on how miserable your life is and comparing it to everyone else’s life when you have no idea what they’re going through.

They may be fine on the outside, but inside they may be going through just as many struggles, or more, than you. They just don’t share them and complain about them.

They look at things differently. They see the glass half full. Sure, they want it fuller than it is, but they know things will improve. They’re working toward that goal by thinking positive, and doing things to reach that goal.

They know the glass is only half full right now, but they also know it’s eventually going to get more in it.

They’re out there working to make things happen. Sure, it’s not always easy, and there will certainly be setbacks, maybe even failures along the way. The glass will get a little fuller, but then it’ll drain out a bit. Again.

It’s never going to be completely full, because life isn’t always perfect. And if that’s what you’re looking for, your glass won’t even be half full; it’ll be almost empty.

There’s no quick, magic solution to fix your problems, and to make that glass fuller. When you turn on the faucet to fill your glass, it doesn’t instantly fill. It depends on how fast the water runs, and if you allow some to splash out because it’s running too fast.

Being miserable and telling yourself no matter what you do it’s not going to work becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. You’ll stay miserable and unhappy and your glass will keep draining until there really is nothing left inside.

But doing something to make the situation better, and doing it daily, will eventually result in the glass becoming fuller. You may not notice it at first, but all if a sudden you’ll see it differently and realize, it is fuller…and by more than half.

How do I know? I’ve been there. I compared my life to everyone else’s and thought mine would never be better. And until I started to see the glass as half full instead of half empty, I didn’t think things could ever be better.

My life isn’t perfect; no one’s is. At least no one I know. But my glass is a lot more than half full. And I work on it every day because I don’t ever want to see it half empty, or worse, almost empty, ever again.

Keep that in perspective. Write down the good things in your life. Not just the big things, but the little ones, too. Then do the same with the things you need to change. And then…write down how you’re going to change them for the better. And don’t stop until you have at least one idea on how to change each bad thing to better.

It’s all up to you, you know. It’s your glass you’re seeing. And you’re the only one who can change how you see it.

There’s a lot of new year left. Start filling that glass!

And It’s Almost Over

How many of us are saying that this year? I know I am! It’s been a rough year for a lot of people, some much more than others.

At times it seemed this year dragged in forever, and then suddenly were wondering where the year went!!

Life has changed for lots of us, in so many ways, and not always for the good.

Sure, there have been some happy and wonderful events in 2018. Engagements, weddings, new babies, expected babies (our daughter and two of her best friends are welcoming baby girls in the spring), graduations, new careers, and new beginnings.

But it’s also not been so easy for so very many. There have been unwanted and painful separations and divorces. Unexpected deaths of loved ones and friends. Life changing diagnoses and accidents. Job loss and continuing unemployment. Financial struggles.

There are now 800,000 people affected directly by an unnecessary government shutdown, 420,000 working with no pay and 380,000 furloughed, which means they may or may not get paid eventually. Plus many thousands more who are being secondarily affected, and wondering how they’re going to pay bills and put food on the table until the mess is over.

Then there are the catastrophes hitting thousands of people at once Disastrous hurricanes and torrential flooding. Catastrophic wildfires. Earthquakes. Tsunamis Loss of thousands of homes with people left wondering “now what do I do?!” Mass shootings for absolutely no reason except hate.

Now you may say these thing happen all the time; we just hear about them more because of the times we’re living in. That may be true, but to the people affected, it doesn’t make it any easier.

You may be directly affected, or you may not. If not, what if you were? Put yourself in their places for a little while, and your circumstances aren’t quite as bad.

Personally our year has been ok, but it’s had its moments. We’ve had medical issues with my husband, actually a couple of times this year. We’ve had friends going through extremely difficult situations, including job loss, serious illness, and loss of family members. We’ve stood by them as they stood by us, because that’s what friends do.

Some weeks it seemed like all we got was bad news. I almost didn’t want to answer my phone or read text messages because it was probably more bad news coming.

Did you feel that way? Do you still? Are you as glad as I am that this year is almost over?

But just remember, we felt a lot like this last year at this time.

We entered into 2018 with hopes of a bright future. Changes for the good. New beginnings. Some of us had them. For some of us, it was more of the same.

So this year let’s try something different. Instead of looking and waiting for change in the new year, let’s help make it happen. Waiting and hoping and doing nothing won’t cause the change we want.

There are 365 new days coming in a new year. 365 opportunities to make something better happen. Sure, a lot is dependent on others, but you still can make a difference by changing the way you look at your circumstances, changing the way you think about them and deal with them. Some problems may not be solveable that easily, but making plans and goals to get you where you want to be is a great start.

And your attitude is the beginning. If you start by saying “I can’t do this without that.” “Someone else will have to do it for me,” then you’ll not get anywhere. You won’t be able to make your plans and hopes and dreams for the new year become a reality.

You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but I can almost guarantee those people with that greener grass think their grass isn’t nearly as green as THEIR neighbors’!

“If I just had __________________.” isn’t the answer either. There’s no magic solution that’s going to make your new year automatically better. It’s planning and attitude. It’s how you see things and how you deal with them. Perhaps, like us, there are a few things you know you’ll be facing in 2019 that are somewhat out of your control, but still, it’s how you handle them.

Because you can’t control everything that happens in the coming year. There will still be losses we will have to face. There will still be natural disasters that we can only prepare for as best we can and hope for the best. And we certainly cannot control the actions of others, and how they affect us, but we CAN control how we react to them and how we deal with it. And not let them get the best of us.

Yes, I’m glad 2018 is almost over. And I’m hoping 2019 is a much better, much more prosperous, and much healthier year.

Yes, there are sure to be tough times as well, but overall I’m looking for good things for this year for all of us.

That’s how I’m going to look at it.

Happy New Year!!

Resolutions…or Not?

Traditionally almost all of us make at least one or two New Year’s resolutions. We say we’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get our financial lives together, or spend more time with our families instead of our jobs.

We really mean it when we make those resolutions. But by the end of the first couple of weeks, or at least by the end of January, all of those resolutions are forgotten. Discarded. We just can’t seem to make them work. It takes too much effort, or we lose interest.

Personally, I hardly ever make any New Year’s resolutions, because I know I won’t keep them. What’s so special about making a change in our lives simply because it’s a new year? If we don’t change ourselves and our way of thinking, turning over the date on the calendar isn’t going to do it.

And once again I didn’t make any resolutions. Instead of making resolutions I’m going to continue to be thankful for the things I have. The things that really matter to me. Because that’s what it’s all about.

In fact, I can almost bet that a lot of those resolutions many of you made Sunday evening on New Year’s Eve have already gone by the wayside. Or are already close to being gone and forgotten.

So here’s what I am thankful for.

Health – My husband’s as well as mine. He’s had a number of medical issues over the years…heart, high blood pressure, a cornea transplant, lung issues, and sleep apnea. But he’s still going strong, and all of the recent doctor reports have been good! I am still extremely healthy. I may be stressed, but who isn’t!? I’m not overweight. My cholesterol and other bloodwork are fine. Although I did have some issues after a serious auto accident which resulted in surgery for a broken wrist, I’m still quite healthy. With a number of friends and family members going through some serious health problems right now, good health is a huge deal!

Friends – Ben and I have several very close, very dear friends who are always there for us when we need them, just as we are there for them. They are not acquaintances. They’re our family, and we love each other dearly. I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Our home – I may grumble about having to cook and clean, but we have a comfortable home. It may need fresh paint and new carpet here and there, but it’s our home, where we raised our daughter, entertain our friends, and just enjoy being together.

A loving and helpful husband – Ben helps me around the house without my ever asking. He brings me coffee in the morning, does the grocery shopping, helps clean and do the laundry, and usually has dinner almost ready when I get home from my job, since he is now working part time. He is a gem, and I would not trade him for anything in the world.

Our children and our grandchild – Our daughter Ashley and her husband Chris, who we consider our son, presented us with our first granddaughter Rachel a year and a half ago who is a constant source of joy to us. What could be any better? Except maybe another grandchild in a year or two?

Our pets – A friend of ours had to find a new home for her beloved Yorkie last year and we were only too glad to volunteer. What a difference that little guy has made in our lives! And we’re already talking about trying to find him a “sister” Yorkie to keep him company. As if our two cats aren’t enough to keep him occupied!

Our country – We live in a country where we are free to worship as we please without fear of being arrested because of our beliefs. We are also free to voice our opinions without fear of being imprisoned. Is it perfect? No. We still have a lot of problems to reconcile. But our country is so much better than all of the rest.

Our Lord and Savior – who loves us unconditionally, who answers our prayers, even when we don’t like the answers, and promises us the gift of eternal life, just because we love him.

With blessings such as these, who needs New Year’s Resolutions?

What blessings do you have that you may take for granted every day? Stop and think about them. Even if your life may not be as perfect as you’d like right now, I can almost guarantee if you stop and think about it, you can think of at least five, if not more, blessings that you enjoy that many others wish they were lucky enough to have.

May each of you have a blessed and Happy New Year! Count your blessings rather than your resolutions, and if you wish to share those blessings, we’d love to hear them!

Goodbye to the Old

2017 started out as a great year. Lots of promise and excitement ahead, as, let’s admit it now, each new year brings. 

 We wake up on each January 1 with a renewed purpose for our life, new energy, and a new determination to accomplish all that we didn’t accomplish in the previous year.

 As the saying goes, each new year brings 365 blank pages to write on. Make each of them special. And like almost every one of you, I was determined to do that! Ready to go! Ready to take on whatever came my way!

 And as fate…and life…would have it, in 2017 those promises and excitement were (sometimes too quickly) replaced with anxiety, setbacks, disappointments, and for many of us, even life changing events.

 In the blink of an eye circumstances changed. And many of us will never be the same again. Unexpected medical issues. Sudden deaths of friends or loved ones. Accidents. Tragic acts of terror resulting in deaths and physical conditions that will take the victims months or even years to recover from or adjust to. Worshippers and concert goers gunned down in senseless acts of violence. And let’s not forget divorce, job loss, and betrayal by friends or family.

 And that excitement and determination was lost; put away in a box on a dusty shelf to hopefully be pulled out again at another time and actually used. 

 Personally, the year was not nearly as bad for me as for others we know. Although I was involved in a serious accident which resulted in among other things, surgery for a broken right (of course I’m right handed) wrist, all things considered it could have been much worse. Even realizing now that I most likely had a mild case of PTSD as a result, I am putting that behind me as well and finally becoming more of my old self. And I realize how much I’ve missed that “me”!

 Many of you aren’t so fortunate and may still be struggling with things from last year. And you may be struggling for some time. But the important thing to remember is that the struggle will end. Yes, it will. It’s all a matter of how you deal with it. That’s not to say it’s not a struggle. I know that it is. But your perspective has to be positive. You have to make a conscious decision to change how you look at your circumstances…and how you deal with them. If you need help doing it, get it. There’s nothing wrong with that.

 It’s really easy to sit and feel sorry for yourself. And sometimes that’s the best thing to do. But only for awhile. Get it out of your system, because only then can you really begin to move on. 

 And unless you move on, you’re going to be stuck in a rut…in a bad place you don’t want to be in. And you’ll never be able to move on. You’ll never reach that point of healing. You’ll never feel like yourself again. And you’ll miss out on the life that was intended for you.

 That’s not what you want to do. Because there’s more to life.

 This is a new year. A new opportunity. A new chance to begin, or to pick up the pieces where you left them, and put them back together. They may not fit exactly like they used to, or like you might want them to,  but pick them up anyway. And make them fit together again.

 This is another new year of promise, of hope, of new adventures and new opportunities. There are 365 blank pages to write on. 

 What are you going to do with them?

 As for me, I’m starting to get back into my writing, which suffered severely after my accident. I just couldn’t seem to get motivated, because I didn’t think I had that gift anymore, and I didn’t think anyone would want to hear what I had to say. I lost my confidence as well as my motivation. 

 But I’m determined to get that back and keep it.

 What do you need to be determined about? 

 Perhaps it’s recovering from a devastating accident, far worse than mine. Perhaps it’s recovering from a total lifestyle change, like a job loss or divorce or death of a spouse or child. Perhaps you’re feeling like there’s no hope any more. And that’s just not true.

 You have an opportunity ahead of you to make this your best year yet. That’s not a cliché. This year is going to be what you make it. A blank slate ready to be written on; a new story to be written; a new life ready to be lived. An adventure ready to happen.

 It all has to begin with you. And your attitude and your outlook on life. What’s it going to be? More of the same? Or a new chapter? A new episode?

 It’s not just a resolution. It’s a life changing decision.

 And one only you can make. 

 Make it now. Before another day is over.

 What does the first page of your 2018 look like?


Flamingo Resolutions

I hadn’t heard much from the flamingos recently, and I have to admit I was a bit surprised that I didn’t see them planning a New Year’s Eve party. After all, flamingos are party birds, and I couldn’t imagine them wasting a great opportunity to throw a really lavish party!

Then I discovered some of their friends invited them to Key West for a true pink flamingo New Years Eve bash, and of course they went! And they had such a great time they stayed a few extra days, enjoying the sun, warm weather, and great seafood! Yes, I have to admit I was jealous!

They could have at least invited us to go!!

And of course while they were there, they decided to come up with some appropriate New Years resolutions. I guess they didn’t take my advice on not making any, but they’re flamingos, and they don’t really listen to what I say anyway! They just do their own thing.

So here are their resolutions. Not too bad, for flamingos!

1 – Find more ways to cook shrimp – They get tired of the raw unseasoned shrimp they usually eat, so they’ve decided to see what kind of shrimp culinary delights they can come up with. I’d guess some types of steamed shrimp would be the best, and I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to add a touch of pink dipping sauce in the side.

Or perhaps shrimp with pink rice and some cherry tomatoes? Yes, pink rice. They’re flamingos, and they use food coloring when necessary!

They casually mentioned even putting a collection of their recipes together and publishing a cookbook! They could call it “The Flamingo Cooks”. Now there’s a resolution…! Of course I’d have to sample all the recipes.

2 – Learn to swim – With all the pool parties they attend as well as host in the summer, have you ever noticed they’re not in the pool very often? Unlike their Florida flamingo friends, our flamingos can’t swim. They have to either borrow one of our floats, or wade in the water with those long legs. So this year they’re vowing to learn to swim!

This should be interesting. I wonder what kind of swimsuits they’ll be wearing. Maybe they could also start a clothing line… maybe call it “The Fashionable Flamingo?”

3 – Improve their karaoke talents – Because of their love for parties, they also love music, and after a few flamingo pink martinis, you can find them around the karaoke machine, squawking away! Unfortunately their squawking doesn’t sound much like whatever song they’re trying to sing!

So this year they’re going to get serious about their singing and have a repertoire of songs ready for the first party of the season!

I heard them talking about learning “Wasting Away in Flamingoville” and “Just Another Flamingo Sunrise” to start with.

Any other suggestions?

4 – Have more parties – Well that goes without saying. With all of their interest in cooking, learning to swim, and their singing, naturally there’s got to be parties involved. As long as they plan them, pay for them, and clean up afterwards, they can go for it!

And one more stipulation…we have to be invited from now on. If we’re providing the pool and the house, we’re going to be there this year!

5 – Start their own business – Now I do think this one is a great idea. They’ve already talked about a cookbook, and I just thought about a clothing line, so why not their own business? After all, they’re very creative birds, and surely if they put their pink feathers together they can come up with a few more ideas?

I suggested party planning, and they seemed to like that idea. As long as they were invited and got to participate in the fun, of course! They even came up with a couple of names, like “The Party Birds” or “Parties in the Pink”. Hmmmm…they may need a little help with the name…

But the one idea they really started flapping around about was an interior design business. After all, they had a great time decorating around the holidays, and I have to admit they did a great job!

Of course, their decorating talents would be very specific. They don’t decorate in that classic, understated elegance that many people enjoy. Their rooms are whimsical, and, well, sometimes a bit “out there” as we should best describe it.

They’d be perfect for specializing in Florida rooms or sunrooms, nurseries, and children’s bedrooms…especially girls’ rooms, since they’re naturally into pink. Big time into pink, as you know!

We even thought about a few names for the business, “The Designing Flamingos”, “The Flashy Flamingos”, or my favorite. “Rooms with a Feather”. Well, maybe the names need a little work, but you get the idea.

So which resolutions will the flamingos keep? Hard to say. After all, they’re flamingos, and a bit flighty. So you just never know.

But I’ll keep you informed!

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New Year, Same Old You

If I read one more article, one more post about it being a new year and how “I’m going to be a new person this year!” or “I’m changing everything this year!” I think I’ll scream!

Is no one happy with who they are? Is no one happy with their life? Even any part of their life? Why do we continually look at other people’s lives and decide if our lives were just like that, then we’d be happy? And do you realize those people you think you want to be like actually look at other people and feel the same way?

Everyone seems to want to make all these changes in their life, their circumstances, themselves. And it seems they think all it takes is a date on the calendar to make those changes. As if by magic, turning the month from December to January will transform them into exactly who they want to be, or think they want to be.

Is it really that simple? Can a piece of paper that proclaims it’s a new month in a new year suddenly change your entire life? Your entire YOU?

I think not. Because there’s a lot more to it than just saying, “I’m going to be different in this new year. I’m going to stop thinking this way, and start thinking that way.”

“I’m not going to do XXX anymore.”

“The new me is going to be so much better! I’m going to enjoy life so much more because….”

Because of a date on the calendar?

Suddenly that’s going to change you from the person you’ve been for years into the new person you picture yourself becoming?

It isn’t that easy. You don’t just automatically wake up one morning and become a totally different person, with different thoughts, different attitudes, different ideas. Sure we try, and for a while, it actually may work.

But then we find ourselves going back to our same old self, with our same ideas, same attitudes, same prejudices. And sometimes we don’t even notice.

Why? Because change isn’t done overnight. It’s a process. It has to come from within; first from our hearts, and then from our head. Our hearts must want to make changes, and if our heart is sincere, then our heads, our thinking, can go along with it.

But you’re never going to totally change everything about yourself. Because who you are, is who you are. No matter how much you want to become someone else, there’s always going to be certain parts of you that will stay the same. Certainly you can improve yourself, change your ideas and your attitudes, but you’ll always be yourself.

You cannot totally become someone else. Because you’re you. Sure, you may eventually make changes in your life for the better, and people may say the like the “new you” a lot better.

But you are still who you are. You’re not, and never will be, that other person you may envy so much and want to be exactly like. You were uniquely created; there’s only one you. You are the only person in the entire world with your own unique fingerprints, your own unique DNA. No one else will ever be exactly like you. Even identical twins have subtle differences, not only in appearance, but in ideas, thoughts, and attitudes.

God created you just like He wanted you to be. Who are you to say He was wrong?

For myself, I actually like who I am. It’s taken me years to come to that realization, and I do believe that such a realization actually comes with getting older, or should I say, more mature? I am who I am, even though I am a work in progress, and always will be. I accept me for who I am, and I hope other people do as well.

And once again for this new year, I’m still going to be me. I may develop new ideas, new attitudes. I will probably make some new friends, and go to some new places. My hairstyle may even change.

But I’m still going to be me.

New Year…New Outlook…New Life

First of all, let me start by saying I don’t make New Years resolutions. I haven’t for years.

For one thing, no one keeps them, including me. Certainly we have good intentions when we make them, but within a week or so those good intentions are gone, and unless we wrote the resolutions down somewhere, and can actually remember where we put them, we’re never going to remember them all anyway.

Why bother? Because the only way you can change your life is by actually doing it. Not by resolving to do it in the future; not by talking about what you’re going to do; but by actually doing something to change your life now. And continuing to do it. Not just doing it for the first few days of the new year.

Why do we seem to think we have to make resolutions when a new year begins? Because it’s new. A new year means a new beginning. You look at the year ahead as a blank canvas ready to be filled with all sorts of wonderful things you’re going to accomplish.

You mean well; you really do. But somehow along the way, as the month of January progresses, all those plans and resolutions are forgotten, put away with all the good intentions from last year, and the year before, and the year before that. And your canvas remains blank, without even the beginning of a sketch on it.

And before you know it, you’re in the same old rut as last year. Doing the same things with the same results. Wanting to break out in a new direction, do something you’ve always wanted to try, but just never getting around to it, because something else always comes up.

I read a quote the other day that really sums this all up. “A person that really wants something will find a way to make it happen. A person who doesn’t will find an excuse that it didn’t.”

And if you really want to accomplish something in the new year, to step out of your comfort zone, you’ll stop talking about doing it and actually start! You won’t need a resolution. You’ll just need a plan. And the willingness to stick to it.

My biggest goal for 2016 was to get my first book published. And I did. It wasn’t always easy, and I almost gave up a few times. But I did it! And the feeling of accomplishment was incredible! And it still is.

My husband and I both have things we want to accomplish in 2017. We’re planning on how to accomplish them; setting measurable goals; and planning on keeping each other on track as far as what we want to get done, and by when. And we will evaluate our progress as necessary to keep each other on track.

But resolutions? No. Anyone can make those. It’s setting goals and adhering to them that makes our plans work.

Happy New Year 2017! May it be your best year ever!

When the Confetti is Gone

Times Square was filled with people. Thousands of them cheering and screaming and waiting for the ball to drop. There were party hats and noisemakers. Streamers and confetti. Entertainers and TV cameras. Each and every one couldn’t wait til that magic moment.

You could almost feel the anticipation as we watched the activity on TV in the comfort of our home, like millions of others across the country and the world.

Like us, they were waiting. Across the globe other time zones had already passed into the new year, and the cameras would occasionally switch to show the other celebrations that were already over….almost as quickly as they began.

In the scope of mere seconds, another year had ended, and another had begun. We were all excited, as we celebrated a new beginning, watched fireworks and tossed confetti, called and texted friends and wished them “Happy New Year!”, and then….what next?

Within a half hour Times Square was almost empty, except for those whose job it was to clean up after the party was over. The celebrants had left, moving on to other parties to find another reason to celebrate, or going back to hotel rooms or homes, as the feeling of euphoria and excitement they’d just experienced slowly left them, and the same old feelings they’d tried to leave behind returned. The confetti and streamers that had been tossed in the air a short time ago, were already being swept away and discarded…forgotten. They were no longer needed or wanted. Because there was no more anticipation or excitement; nothing to look forward to. Really? Are you sure about that?
Life often hits us like that. We spend so much time preparing for and anticipating an important event…and when it’s over, we’re let down. Almost depressed. We dissect what took place, look at the pictures, share memories with friends, but we can’t quite seem to capture that exact feeling again. We keep looking for that same excitement to reoccur, and we’re disappointed when it seems to be back to business as usual.

Or is it back to business as usual because we allow it to be?

We forget how to look ahead with expectancy and excitement, unless it’s for some big special event coming up. We forget there are little things to be excited about, as well as the excitement and anticipation of things to come that we don’t even know about. There are things we’ve been hoping for, and praying for, but we’re almost to the point of giving up on them. Because we’ve been waiting so long, and we just don’t think it’s going to ever happen.

But guess what! It is! Isaiah 43:19 tells us, “Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?” (NCV) We only need to look with our spiritual eyes and heart. We need to see it as already accomplished and begin thanking the Lord that it’s already done. Because He has promised us, and we know that those promises are always fulfilled!

I’m guilty of feeling that way, too. More often than I’d like to be. But this year I’m making a serious effort to change that! I am determined not to go back to that old way of thinking, and I’m going to start seeing all of those things as already done. There’s so much to look forward to in this coming year. The birth of our first granddaughter in May is the only one I really know about, but I know there are many more exciting blessings coming our way! I just don’t know when they will occur, or exactly what they will be, but I know they are coming.

So I’m getting out the confetti and the streamers (and maybe a few balloons), and I’m getting ready!

How about your joining me in the celebration?

New Year’s Traditions…What Are Yours?

We’ve all heard about having black eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day. Friends of ours have an open house on New Year’s Day and there’s always a pot of them included in the party fare. But here are a couple more I hadn’t heard about. And I wish to give a huge “thank you” to my friend Dianne Disharoon for sharing them with us. As well as another big thanks for her giving me permission to post it here. [With my comments added in brackets, of course!]

“Sauerkraut is ready for tonight. Black eyed peas ready for tomorrow. I just need a tall, dark-haired male to be the first visitor tomorrow. Then, I’ll be all set for good luck in 2016!

My grandmother ALWAYS had a pot of homemade black eyed peas (Blackeyed-peas1with ham hock or fatback) on New Year’s Day. She was Southern to the core. I’ve got my black eyed peas ready, but not in the manner she ever would have considered serving….they’re in a salad. She’d probably be appalled! [Now this sounds interesting]

Her English heritage was evident in her observance of the Northern England and Scottish tradition of “First-Foot.” The First-Foot is the first person to enter the home on New Year’s Day and is said to be a bringer of good fortune for the coming year. It is said to be desirable for the First-Foot to be a tall, dark-haired male. A female or fair-haired male are regarded as unlucky. The dark haired male is believed to be a throwback to the Viking days, when a big blonde stranger arriving on your door step most assuredly meant big trouble. [Now I can go along with this being good luck, especially for certain of my female friends who are single…send him over and I’ll keep him here until they come over!]

My father and his two brothers were always my grandmother’s first visitors on New Year’s Day. However, as my Uncle Mervin was blond, he had to wait until either my father or Uncle Wilson crossed the threshold first. [Wow! Hope they all arrived in one car!]

However, my grandmother took the tradition one step further. She wouldn’t allow ANY female to cross her threshold all New Year’s Day! One year my Aunt Mary Anne (her daughter, no less!) came for a visit. Nope, wasn’t going to happen; she wasn’t walking in that house! My grandmother stood at the back door and barred her entry. [Probably with a broom!] My poor aunt went back to Virginia [Dianne and her family live in Maryland] without stepping foot inside her own mother’s house.

Since my mother was half German, she always had sauerkraut on New Year’s Eve (to my father’s chagrin – definitely not his favorite!). Thankfully, the one-fourth German in me [Dianne, that is, I only like sauerkraut on a Reuben sandwich] loves saChucrutuerkraut. German tradition says eating sauerkraut will bring blessings and wealth for the new year. So before the New Year’s Eve meal, everyone seated at the table wishes each other as much goodness and money as the number of shreds of cabbage in the pot of sauerkraut. So I’m sure that pot is always overflowing!]
I’m all set for New Year’s Eve and Day except for the tall, dark-haired male visitor!”

Sounds like an interesting combination, don’t you think? What New Year traditions do you have?

Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

No More Resolutions

Traditionally almost all of us make at least one or two New Year’s resolutions. We say we’re going to lose weight, exercise more, get our financial lives together, or spend more time with our families instead of our jobs.

We really mean it when we make those resolutions. But by the end of a couple weeks, or at least by the end of January all of those resolutions were forgotten. Discarded. We just can’t seem to make them work. It takes too much effort, or we lose interest.

Personally, I’ve hardly ever made any New Year’s resolutions, because I know I won’t keep them. What’s so special about making a change in our lives simply because it’s a new year? If we don’t change ourselves and our way of thinking, turning over the date on the calendar isn’t going to do it.

Instead of making resolutions I’m going to do something a little different this year. I’m going to list the things that I’m grateful for. The things that really matter to me. And when I get discouraged during the year, I’m going to pull that list out and read it, and remember how I started the new year with a grateful heart, because resolutions don’t last. But the things that we’re grateful for should.

Here are a few of those things which give me reason to enter into the 2016 with a new attitude of hope and expectancy.

My husband’s health – Ben was rushed to the ER a year and a half ago, and flat-lined in front of Ashley and me almost as soon as he arrived. It was the most frightening thing I have ever been through. But he survived, received a pacemaker, and was home the next day. He returned to the ER this summer, shortly after our daughter’s wedding, with congestive heart failure. Eight days later he was back home, and six months later his heart is back to normal and he has no restrictions except a low sodium diet. Praise the Lord!

My health – I am extremely healthy. I may be stressed, but who isn’t!? I don’t exercise. I’m not overweight. My cholesterol and other bloodwork is fine. I am thankful every day for the gift of good health.

Friends – Ben and I have several very close, very dear friends who are always there for us when we need them, just as we are there for them. They are not acquaintances. They’re our family, and we love each other dearly.

Home – I may grumble about having to clean, but we have a comfortable home. It may need fresh paint and a bit of new carpet here and there, but it’s our home, where we raised our daughter, entertain our friends, and just enjoy being together.

A loving and helpful husband – Ben helps me around the house without my ever asking. He brings me my coffee in the morning, does the grocery shopping, helps clean, fixes my lunch for me to take to work every day, and usually has dinner ready when I get home from a job that’s 45 minutes away. He also works full time. He is a gem, and I would not trade him for anything in the world.

Our country – We live in a country where we are free to worship as we please without fear of being arrested or killed because of our beliefs. We are also free to voice our opinions without fear of being arrested or imprisoned.

Our children – Our daughter Ashley is now happily married to her long-time boyfriend Chris, who we love as much as we do her. They have bought their first home; they both have good jobs; and best of all, they are expecting our first grandchild, a daughter, this summer. This is the greatest blessing of all…except…

Our Lord and Savior – who loves us unconditionally, who answers our prayers, even when we don’t like the answers, and promises us the gift of eternal life, just because we love him.

With blessings such as these, who needs to make New Year’s Resolutions?

May each of you have a blessed and Happy New Year! Count your blessings rather than your resolutions, and if you wish to share those blessings, we’d love to hear them!

Looking Ahead…Not Back

The last two years have been challenging, to say the least. In fact, for our family as well as so many of our close friends, it seems like it’s been one battle after another. Hard fought battles, I should add. Not mere skirmishes that last for an hour or so, but in some cases battles that have lasted almost the entire two years, and are still continuing.

Last New Year’s Eve we all counted down the seconds as we watched the ball drop in Times Square (on TV of course), toasted each other, yelled Happy New Year to everyone in the room, and said, “Thank goodness that year is over! This one has to be better!”

Surprise! Although 2015 saw our daughter happily married to the man of her dreams, which has now led to our status as future grandparents in 2016, this year was as difficult as the year before. And for some of our friends, it was even worse.

Job losses and its resulting financial crises. Broken marriages and sudden spousal/parental desertion. Serious illness and terminal diagnoses. Runaway children turning to drugs. Auto accidents. Unexpected deaths of parents and spouse. Not to mention dealing with the stress from all of these incidents, whether our personal situations or our friends’; when our friends are hurting, we’re hurting as well.

There were times we dreaded answering the phone because it could bring more bad news.

I can’t count the number of times all of us have asked each other, “Lord where are you in all of this? Why are you allowing this to happen? When are you going to intervene? Why have you deserted me? I look at others who aren’t believers and their lives are so much easier. What’s going on? Have you forgotten us?”

How do you answer that when your friends are hurting so much? And so are you?

Why are we experiencing all of these trials? I have no answers. Except that we live in a fallen world. Things happen. People make bad choices that affect others as well as themselves. God gave us all free will. And although He wants us to live the way He intended us to live, the choices we make, as well as choices others make, do not always align with His word. Although He could easily control all of our lives and our actions, He allows us to make our own decisions. Some good, and some not so good. And many decisions we later regret.

We know John 16:33 tells us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” But so much trouble at one time? We look back and wonder what we did wrong. What if we’d done this, or that? What if we’d worked harder? Gone to the doctor more often? Done things differently in our marriage or with our children?

It’s all too easy to mire ourselves in our past. We dwell on all the negative things that have happened and are still happening. We talk about them all the time and we relive each moment of the pain and over and over again. We try to figure out what we could’ve done differently to change things. As one friend says, it’s like opening up a wound over and over…a wound that is starting to scab over and heal, but we won’t allow it to do that. And then we wonder why things don’t change.

The longer we dwell on the past, the longer we stay in the past. We can’t seem to look ahead because we keep looking back. When Lot and his family were told to leave Sodom, the Lord told them not to look back. But Lot’s wife disobeyed and looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt. There was a reason He told them not to look back. He had a new life waiting for them; something better. But they couldn’t experience that new life if they kept looking back and dwelling on the past.

Isaiah 43:18 tells us to “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” So why do we continue to do so? Is it because sometimes it’s easier to try and dissect what went wrong, rather than look ahead to the better things the Lord has in store for us? Because we can’t see them yet?

In 1 Corinthians 2:9, we are reminded, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” If we love Him, we are to trust Him. Because He has this under control, whether we think He does or not.

If you remember, Jesus prayed to his heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane to “take this cup from me.” He felt abandoned by the Lord as well, and He was His SON! And He knew the ending of the story. If the son of God can feel that way, no wonder we have our own moments as well.

The Lord told us, “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) And He doesn’t. Even when you feel at your lowest, He’s there, preparing to give you something so much better than before. And it will be in His perfect timing, at the perfect opportunity. We only have to keep our faith. It won’t be too early, or too late. Because He knows best.

This year, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, don’t look back. Look ahead. The Lord’s promises are about to be fulfilled in your life…and in ours as well. It may not be in the way we expect, but it will be exactly as He has planned.

Happy New Year, and may the blessings of the Lord be abundant in your lives in 2016! The best is yet to come.