Are You continuing or Complaining

It’s been a rough almost two years. And I’d promised myself I wouldn’t write something like this when I started writing again.

But I can’t help it. I have to say this.

From early 2020 til now we’ve seen the world, and our country, thrown into chaos the likes of which we’ve never known. Oh, we heard the stories from those who lived through food rationing, the depression, and world wars, but we never ever thought we’d see anything similar.

We were insulated from such things. We were used to having things just as we wanted, when we wanted. Store shelves were overflowing, grocery stores were fully stocked, employees and employees were enjoying prosperity. Kids complained about going to school as kids will do, but they went and they were taught by a lot of great teachers surrounded by their friends.

We weren’t hesitant to go out to eat,  go shopping, to the movies, go to baseball or football games, or fly across the country or even overseas. 

Life was good. Life wasn’t perfect, but we weren’t wondering if tomorrow would bring disaster to our way of life. We went along with our lives, as if nothing bad could ever touch us.

Then suddenly, everything changed.

A new virus we couldn’t see started making its way to other countries. It sickened those who caught it, sometimes for weeks, and began killing many others who caught it. Some people that caught it still experience lasting side effects from it. A pandemic hit us, and we weren’t prepared.

We were told it wouldn’t come here, not to worry, it was a hoax. It’ll just go away and life will be as it always was. Well, that hoax has killed how many of us in this country? Over 820.000 I believe was the last count I heard, but it changes hourly.

That’s 820,000+ families who were forever changed and yes, devastated by loss, by this microscopic potential killer. No, it doesn’t kill everyone who gets it, but a large percentage of our population is at risk for potentially disastrous results if they contract it. My husband being one of them because of his breathing problems and cardiac history. Even for those without underlying medical conditions, life can suddenly change for the worse, and have repercussions for the rest of their lives.

As the pandemic raged across our country and the world, hard decisions were made. Certain businesses were mandated to close because of possible contagion. People were suddenly without incomes, many had little or no savings. Newly unemployed people struggled to maintain their lives, feed their families, and pay their bills. It was a bad time for so many. Many of us were fortunate enough to transition to working remotely rather going to our offices. I did, and I’m still doing it. I actually enjoy it now, and I get more accomplished.

But many just complained that they couldn’t go to the gym, get their hair cut and styled. They couldn’t go to a movie. There were no baseball or football games to go to in person. Couldn’t go out to eat because so many restaurants had to close and only do carry out. It wasn’t fair! It was an inconvenience! Just for a little virus you couldn’t see that might make you sick! How dare the government tell us what to do!?

They never stopped to think about those thousands of people out of work because of it who were struggling. Or families who were losing loved ones because of it.

They never stopped to think about the healthcare workers who were suddenly trying to cope with an illness the likes of which they’d never seen, working extra long hours with little or no sleep and trying to save lives of people they didn’t even know. And putting themselves at risk as well. “Oh well,” people said, “it’s their job. They signed up for it, so they just need to do it; they’re getting paid!”

They never stopped to think about the people who got the virus and suffered and died because of it. “So what?” they said. “People die every day. Why do we all have to be inconvenienced?”

Grocery stores ran out of cleaning supplies and paper goods. Many people hoarded what supplies they could get. They fought over paper towels and toilet paper. “It isn’t fair! This is America, and we’re not supposed to have bad things happen. We’re supposed to be able to get everything we want when we want it!”

And unless the virus touched their lives personally, unless someone they loved contracted it and died, they complained about having to take precautions, with many refusing to comply. Many refusing an approved vaccine because “the government is trying to force me and it’s just another way to try and control me! I have my rights! I have freedom to do what I want! It’s my body!”

Yes, it’s your body. Do what you want. But don’t infringe on my choice of staying safe. You can be walking around carrying the virus, and give it to me, even though I’ve been vaccinated. And that can be spread to others whose immune systems can’t handle it.

It began to, and in many ways still does, divide this country and families in ways we never expected. 

My husband and I, and many of our friends, are fully vaccinated and boosted. Why? Because we don’t want to take the risk. We don’t want to potentially get this thing and spread it to someone who could die from it. I don’t want to risk my husband getting it. And I don’t look at it as if, “oh well, he’s going to die from something.” I want us to prevent that as long as possible. And if I hear one more person say something like that, I think I will scream in their face.

This pandemic has sadly become a political issue more than a health issue. And I’m tired of it being that way. Not everything in this country is a political statement. And just because you personally haven’t been affected yet doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Because we personally know far too many people who it has affected, several of whom who have died. Far more frightening are the number of people who are getting this and have already been vaccinated.  Yes, they are experiencing milder cases of it than those who haven’t been vaccinated, but they are still becoming infected, and still needing medical care for their illness. And it concerns me daily that even with my fully vaccinated husband being careful and wearing his mask almost everywhere he goes, that he could still contract it.

Somewhere along the way we’ve lost part of our humanity; our concern for others. That thing about “love your neighbor as yourself?” To paraphrase a popular saying, it’s just a “thing” now. It really doesn’t mean much to many people who’d rather criticize and complain because their lives and the world have changed, and it’s inconvenient for some of us.

I am not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but if this makes you uncomfortable, maybe there’s a reason for it. 

You have your own ideas and beliefs, but when your beliefs and ideas put me and my family at risk, I do have a problem with that. And I can choose how to handle it. And I choose not to go around those of you who are not vaccinated.  I also choose to ask if you or others who are possibly going to be around us at a function have been vaccinated, and we will determine at that time if we want to take the risk or not. It’s not personally against you; It’s personal  because we choose to play it safe.

May all of us one day soon be able to return to life sort of as we knew it before Covid. May we stop being divided and come back together as families and friends, and not enemies because we see things differently. May we learn to care about others’ feelings and beliefs rather than condemn and denigrate those who don’t agree with us.

By this time many of you who are/were our friends will have decided to un-friend us, and that’s ok, too. If you cannot handle our feelings, and cannot accept our feelings, then it’s ok. You’re entitled. So are we.

However, we are continuing to try and stay safe. We continue to use our masks in public places. And will become more diligent with those with who we are still friends with. And we are choosing to stay safe rather than risk our lies and others’ lives as well.

Stay well, and stay safe.

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!

After Christmas Blues?

Yes, it happens. It’s real. And there are reasons it happens to some people, most of us, really, to some degree. It’s a natural reaction.

Think about it for a minute. 

You work so hard at preparing for this one big, important day. For many of us it starts before Thanksgiving. We’re bombarded with Christmas shopping ads on the radio, TV, and social media almost as soon as Halloween is over. 

Suddenly the stores are filling with gift ideas and holiday decorations. Craft stores are stuffed with Christmas goodies of every kind to make special gifts and fun projects for the kids and grandkids. You’re hearing wall to wall Christmas music everywhere you go.

It’s already overwhelming and it’s not even Thanksgiving.

There’s an unspoken push to rush to get everything done so you can have a picture perfect Christmas. Which actually doesn’t exist, by the way.

We’re almost as bad in our household. Our ten trees (yes, ten; read my series describing them “Each Tree Has a Story”) go up every year now before Thanksgiving. Why? Because I love the beauty of them and the way it brightens our home. It’s a lot of work, but I really do enjoy it.

But then there’s shopping, baking, gift wrapping (thank goodness for my husband who enjoys it), visits to Santa with the grandkids, Christmas lists, parties (well, not so many of them in recent years). It’s almost an overload, and for some people it is.

Instead of taking time to enjoy the beauty and peace of the season, many of us frantically rush around and knock ourselves out trying to be sure every little detail is perfect. Our lists have lists, even.

It just gets totally crazy. 

And for those with kids, it’s even crazier, because they’re so excited about Santa Claus, and presents they just can’t wait. “How many more days, Mommy?” is heard at least ten times a day, or so it begins to seem.

It’s exhausting. 

And Christmas Eve sometimes brings panic in procrastinators who put everything off til the last minute. Those of us with lists go over them two or three more times to be sure everything is done, from presents for everyone on our lists to Christmas Day breakfast and dinner. Do we have everything?  What did we forget? Instead of breathing a sigh of relief and relaxing, our nerves are on edge. 

Then comes Christmas Day with all the madness. All the carefully wrapped gifts are torn open, wrapping paper and bows discarded everywhere, and quickly the room where presents are opened goes from beautiful anticipation of what’s inside those boxes and bags to a blur of chaos, trashed paper, and boxes piled around everywhere. And at our home, the grandkids deciding to play with the empty gift bags and putting the dogs’ toys in them to give as more “gifts”.

And suddenly it’s over. Done. All that hard work for an hour or two of excitement.

And now what? We have our traditional dinner and eat too much, friends and families may drop by, and then suddenly it’s over, almost as quickly as it began that morning. 

To some of us it means another Christmas of happy memories to cherish. To some it’s a relief that it’s all over and things can return to normal again. To some it’s the opportunity to go out the next day and collect more things on sale for next Christmas. Like we really need to do that.

But for many others, it’s a sense of letdown. There’s nothing left to anticipate. There’s nothing to plan for right away. Nothing to look forward to with excitement. Just the remnants that have to be put away for another year.

Or for some, it’s disappointment that Christmas didn’t measure up to what they expected, what they wanted, or what they hoped for. All that hype and preparation, and for what?

Suddenly life returns with a vengeance. All the things we put out of our minds for this special time quickly come back, and once again we’re overwhelmed in a different way. This beautiful time of friends and family and joy we just experienced is gone. 

Or so it seems. We think about how we’d like to go back to those feelings we had on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but sadly, the magic seems to be have left when the clock struck midnight. And now the winter is ahead and we realize it’s back to our day to day world. As if Christmas never happened.

We miss that anticipation of something wonderful being about to happen. And worry about what life is going to bring next. And it depresses a lot of people.

Why can’t every day have the excitement of Christmas? Wouldn’t it be nice? But then, we’d lose the sense of excitement of those special days in our lives.

Why not start changing your outlook now by taking a moment each day to think about something you’re anticipating. Not the daily dreading of a day that might not go as you’d like, but the anticipation that something wonderful could happen at any time. Something to look forward to.

A surprise phone call. A chance meeting with someone you never expected. A friend bringing good news. Reconnecting with people you haven’t seen in months, or even years.

Something great can happen at any time. And it usually does when you least expect it. 

Because not everything wonderful that happens is limited to Christmas. That’s just the beginning. It’s time to turn those blues into sunshine.

Who Needs Daylight Savings Time Anyway?

In the spring it’s not too bad. After all, we do lose a hour of sleep, but the good thing is, we gain an hour of daylight. For a while, at least. 

Assuming we remember to change the clocks that don’t automatically change by themselves.

Yes, we’re tired those first few days or so, because our sleep patterns have to get used to the change. And for those with small children or infants, it’s really a problem getting them adjusted. It takes a few weeks. 

And those of us with pets, well our furry kids don’t understand either. They have a set schedule and they don’t like it messed up.

But the longer we have sunlight in the spring and summer, the better I like it!  There’s more time for outdoor activities, especially using the pool later in the summer. We can also do later cookouts, evening bike rides, and just enjoy being outdoors a little longer.

We get used to the time, but just when we’re comfortable with it, it’s time to change again and turn the clocks back an hour! And suddenly our body rhythms are all messed up again!

At least it’s been changed to turning back the clocks after the kids go trick or treating on Halloween. By that time it’s getting dark early enough; we don’t need it to be worse!

But then it messes us up all over again. We go to bed Saturday night at our normal time, hopefully remember to change the clocks, and then our bodies wake us up an hour too early! While we know in our minds we can sleep a bit later, our bodies don’t let us. 

And again, for those with babies and small children, they’re up and ready to go when their bodies wake them up. The dogs and cats? They don’t understand either, and they’re ready to  go out and then be fed at their normal body time.

We just can’t win.

We go through that first day, watch football all afternoon, and by the time it’s 7:30, we’re getting tired and thinking it should be 9:30 or 10:00 and time for bed!

This really is crazy when you think about it. We gain something in the spring, but in the fall it’s taken away. Our sleep patterns are screwed up twice in a year, and for those of us who are in our later years, it’s even harder to adjust because we don’t always sleep well anyway!

It takes us a couple weeks to get situated, and then before we know it, the cycle’s starting all over again.

Here’s a suggestion. How about next spring we set the clocks ahead at the normal time and then leave them alone!? It would sure make all our lives easier.

Who’s with me?

Take Time to Smell the Roses

We’ve all heard this so many times. And we think what a good idea that is. To stop and take time for ourselves. To take a break from our busy lives where we’re constantly pulled in different directions. When we scarcely have time to finish one project before we have another that has to be done immediately. When at the end of the day we have more still to do than we had accomplished during the day.

It gets to be exhausting. And we find ourselves keeping so busy that we forget to take time to do the things we enjoy. The things that make us who we are. That give us that welcome distraction we all need in order to recharge our batteries.

But sometimes we don’t even have the energy for that. But it’s important.

Now for me, smelling the roses has a special meaning. My mother loved roses, and I still remember the two rose bushes she had planted beside our grape arbor when I was growing up, and how I looked forward to their blooming every spring. There was a white one that bloomed and bloomed. Profusely. There were fluffy white blooms everywhere. But there was no fragrance, no smell.

The other was a deep red rose, so deeply red it was almost black. It was gorgeous, with huge velvety blooms, and it smelled absolutely wonderful. As soon as it started blooming, I’d make sure to go outside and smell its beautiful fragrance every day. It just made me feel good.

And since I didn’t want the other bush to feel left out, I always put my nose in the middle of one of its blooms as well, and every so often I smelled that faint sweet rose smell. Or thought I did.

Maybe it was just the act of reaching out to smell those roses. Taking the time to just stop and recharge. To do a little thing that made me feel good. To breathe in a fragrance of peace and beauty that for a few moments made me forget the world around me.

Unfortunately those particular rose bushes are now gone. But I still remember them, special memories of my youth now well into the latter days of adulthood.

But my love of roses isn’t gone. I have several rose bushes around our back yard. In the spring they’re so full of blooms that all you see is a sea of pink. But if I don’t stop to take care of them, they start to lose their beauty, to fade and lose their petals, and they don’t bloom as much.

Like ourselves, roses who are untended begin to lose their beauty, their fragrance of life; they don’t continue to thrive. And unless we stop to smell that special fragrance, we too, begin to lose our beauty and our zest for life. We become untended and don’t stop to take time to care for ourselves. Caring for our inner self; the thing that makes us “us” is important.

Being active is fine, no matter what our age. But we still have to take the time to rest, to relax, and appreciate the world around us. To stop and smell those roses before they’re gone.

I’ve been very guilty of that lately, I must admit. And one night last week, I decided it was time to stop and take time for just me. To do what I enjoyed, and not what other people wanted to do. And I did. And it was refreshing.

There weren’t any real roses around to smell, but I took the time to sit and read and listen to some of the music I really enjoy. And yes, I even sang along with some of it. I took time to finish a jigsaw puzzle and even colored a couple of pictures.

I recharged my batteries. And the next morning when I went out to water a few flowers before going to work. I walked over to my rose bushes. Even though they’re somewhat faded now because it’s fall, there were still a few blossoms waiting for me to stop and smell.

And I did.

And I’m going to do it more often.

Not always literally, but I’m going to start taking more time to stop and recharge; to do things I really want to do but never seem to find enough time for. I’m going to make that time instead of trying to accomplish a zillion things each week.

And when I see some roses, or other flowers I really like, I’m going to take the time to enjoy them, and take in their beauty.

And I’m going to keep smelling the roses.

I’m Tired of Adulting

For those of you on Facebook, we see this almost daily in someone’s status. We usually laugh it off, make funny comments, or just scroll on by because it’s, well, old news, as the saying goes.

But right now, after a few long and difficult weeks, I think giving up being an adult sounds like a really good thing! I’ve tried it for a lot of years now. The first few were kind of fun. I could sort of do as I wanted and no one told me I couldn’t. Well, that’s not entirely true, because the first few years as an adult I was in college, and I had to do what our instructors said in order to get decent grades, but that’s different.

When we were in high school we couldn’t wait to be 21 and be “adults,” whatever that meant. And yes, back then, you weren’t really an adult til you were 21, although you could get married and serve in the military at 18. And when we graduated from high school at 18, many of us started careers or got married…before we were really “adults.” We couldn’t wait to be grown up, to be adults.

We thought life would suddenly be great when we really became “adults.” Well, that suddenly happened. But it wasn’t the way we expected.

The world we thought we had grown up in, the world that seemed to have so many opportunities and such a bright future, took on a new look of war, social unrest, and rioting. And we realized that maybe being an adult wasn’t quite what it was all rumored to be.

Adulting came with responsibilities, and a lot of them we weren’t ready for. And many of us still aren’t, although we have no choice.

Adulting means making decisions we really don’t want to make; decisions that affect our lives, as well as other people’s, for the rest of our lives. If we make the wrong one, there’s no one around to fix it for us. We have to live with it or work really hard to turn things around.

We thought being an adult would make our lives simple. Instead we had to work for a living; no parents to pay our way any more. We had bills to pay, cars to buy and repair, rent or mortgages to pay. We had to buy our own food, and prepare it, on a daily basis.

Suddenly we became parents, and had responsibilities for our own children. And wondered how our parents ever did it! Raising children was certainly not as easy as we thought.

And then there were the adult problems that came along as we aged. Our health, or our friends’ or loved ones’ health, began to deteriorate. Addictions and rehab became a part of many of our friends’ lives. Serious illnesses attacked many of us or our loved ones, changing our lives forever.

The ones we married and thought would love us forever didn’t. Many of us experienced divorce, and sometimes even more than once. And it was nothing like the breakups we had in high school…the ones we never thought we’d recover from. Until we found someone else the next week.

No, divorce was far worse than that, and we really began to wonder why being an adult was supposed to be so great. Being a child was much easier.

Being an adult is tough. No matter how old we are. It’s a huge responsibility.

So many times we look at our kids, or our grandkids, as the case now is, and for a moment or two we think how wonderful it would be to have that childhood innocence back; to be a child whose biggest concerns are what they’re going to play with next, what their mom or dad is going to fix for dinner, and how they’ll avoid going to bed too early.

And I think back to those long ago times when our own lives were like that. And yes, I get nostalgic and wish I could stop being an adult for awhile and just be a child again. No worries and no responsibilities.

But then, would we want to go through growing up again? Through all it entailed? Would we want to face becoming an adult again and having to go through all the rough times again?

No. Probably not. At least I wouldn’t.

But wouldn’t it be nice to just imagine times being so simple again?

At least for a day or two. How about you?

Give Every Day….

…the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life!

What?

How can I do that? After all the awful stuff yesterday that’s going to carry into tomorrow…my whole life is a wreck. Nothing’s going right. I don’t know when it ever will go right again….

Is this you?

Well it’s never too late to become who you might have been.

Think about that for a minute.

You have choices. You can give up and just decide nothing will ever change. That you’ll always be in this same old rut; this same old place that you were in yesterday, and the day before, and you figure you’ll still be there tomorrow.

Well, that’s most likely true. As long as you keep thinking that way and keep making the same choices over and over again. If you don’t give every day the chance to be the best day of your life…if you don’t try to make it the best day of your life, or at least one of the best you’ve ever had, or at least one a lot better than the day before…

How are you ever going to be who you were meant to be?

That takes work, you know. It’s not handed to you without your working to make it happen. Opportunities come to you every day. You may not even recognize them because they’re little things, small steps that you need to take in order to get to where you need to be to take those larger steps.

Someone may ask you to meet them somewhere, and that meeting could possibly lead to something bigger. A new job opportunity. A new chance to get involved in something that’s always interested you. A new love interest that you never expected. A chance to go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but didn’t know how you’d ever be able to make it happen.

Yes, things like that happen every day. If we just look for them. If we’re not afraid to say no. If we’re not afraid to say “I can’t because….”

It’s not ever too late to become what you were meant to become.

Sometimes we hold ourselves back because we’re too stuck in yesterday to take advantage of what happens today that will shape our tomorrow.

Read that again.

Did you give yesterday the chance to become the best day you’ve had? Or did you just say, “Here’s another day of the same old stuff. When will it change?” And go about your business the same way you did yesterday.

And you expect today to be different. And it isn’t. Because that’s not how it works.

It’s not ever too late to become what you were meant to become. But unless you do something different, you’re not going to move ahead and into the person you’re supposed to be. We’re not meant to be stationery beings. We’re meant to move, to enjoy, to accomplish, and to make a mark in this world.

But unless you start to do things to make that happen, you’re not going to become who you’re supposed to be.

Who do you want to be?

What do you need to do to make it happen?

And when are you going to start?

There’s no day like today.

What are you waiting for?

I’m Just Not Ready!

A lot of my friends are, though. And I really don’t know why. Our daughter certainly isn’t. Not a summer lover like her! She even wears flip flops in the winter!

No, I’m not ready for summer to end. I’m not ready for those weekends in the pool, with the sun shining bright and the dragonflies flitting around us, to end. I don’t want to not be able to rush home from work, throw on a swimsuit, grab a float, and enjoy an hour of peaceful tranquility, floating around in that nice blue water, a cold drink in one hand, and a good book in the other.

I really love summer. Even when it’s sweltering hot. I love the sunshine and blue skies. The long days that only end at 8:30 as we’re sitting on the porch listening to the frogs and the crickets. I love wearing swimsuits and flip flops and the smell of sunblock and buying more flamingos to hang around the pool with us. I like ice cream on a hot summer night and sharing it with our Yorkies. The scent of flowers happily blooming in the garden.

But sometimes I think I’m in the minority.

My friends are posting “welcome fall” pictures. They’re talking about pumpkin spice everything. Coffee, cookies, pumpkin pie, even pumpkin spice Oreos and donuts!

No. Not me. Where’s the key lime pie and strawberry shortcake? Fresh fruit sangria? Sitting by the beach or the inlet at a favorite restaurant eating fresh steamed shrimp and watching the sea gulls.

No. I’m not ready for fall. I’ve not had enough summer yet. Not enough beach or pool time.

As much as I enjoy it, I’m not ready for football yet; baseball is still going strong and one of our teams has a chance for the playoffs.

I’m not ready for heavy sweaters and boots, as much as I like them, because I still have my flip flops and tank tops to wear!

I’m being slowly dragged kicking and screaming into another season where I’m just not ready to be, because I’m not ready to let summer go.

Can’t we just have another month or so???

Who’s with me??

The Calm Before the Storm

How many times have we said that? How many times have we really thought about what it means?

The other night as we were outside in the pool for perhaps the last time of the summer, I started thinking how calm everything was.

How much clearer the sky suddenly seemed. How the clouds looked so

much more defined. The air itself even felt different. Like something was changing. And it wouldn’t go back to the way it was for quite a while.

Yes, a storm is coming. We know that. Hurricane Dorian is making her way slowly up the coast, after leaving a trail of devastation and destruction that is unimaginable to most of us.

We know it’s coming. We don’t really know exactly what and how bad, but we do know it’s on the way. Most of us are prepared, at least as much as possible, but we’re still wondering what’s really going to happen. Part of us says we’re imagining it, but that other part of us knows we’re not.

The calm before the storm is definitely real. You can actually feel the difference in the air. Sense it around us. The nighttime insects sound different. Our pets are acting different, like they’re sensing something coming…something they don’t like. The birds seem to have suddenly disappeared. The squirrels, actively running around the yard a few days ago grabbing food wherever they found it, are all of a sudden nowhere to be found. The lizards that were crawling around in the flower beds just yesterday are gone.

The air is different. There’s a strange coolness with just a hint of humidity. You can’t determine what’s caused it; you just know something is coming.

You can feel it coming. Something that probably isn’t good. But we also know it’s something we can’t prevent.

Past experiences tell me this is normal. I’ve gone through it many times before, right before a hurricane approaches; before it strikes. One day it’s calm and clear; within 24 hours it’s blustery, rainy, and feels like we’ll not get through the storm in one piece. And sadly, in many areas, they don’t.

But the next day the storm has passed; the skies are once again clear, the sun is shining; the air is back to normal. The storm has left behind piles of destruction and ruined many things. But we pick up and begin rebuilding.

The calm before the storm becomes the calm after the storm.

And in most cases we’re thankful it was no worse than it was.

With this hurricane we’ve seen some of the worst destruction from such storms in many years. People have lost all their belongings, their homes; many lost their lives. For them, the calm after the storm becomes a stark reflection of a harsh reality; and the beginning of starting over from scratch.

It’s frightening.

This morning, count your blessings. Embrace the calm before the storm, and appreciate the here and now. Look at your piece of the world around you. Study it. Remember it.

This is life. This is real. We can experience many things while going through the storms of life, but we come through them. Not always unscathed, but we come through, knowing there’s a tomorrow filled with another time of calm before the next storm.

No Parent Should Ever…

….ever, not ever, have to bury a child.

It has to be their worst nightmare; one that never ends. One that demolishes your life.

I seriously cannot imagine, nor do I ever want to. I pray daily to keep my daughter and son-in-law and their children healthy and safe.

Over the years I have known people who have lost children. One woman, the daughter of a very good friend of ours, lost her baby girl to SIDS at the age of only 3 months. I remember it as if it were yesterday. How she walked into the nursery and found a blue, unresponsive infant, and frantically began doing CPR as she shouted to her oldest son to call the ambulance.

No warning. No indication of any problems. Suddenly she was gone. And nothing could bring her back.

A devastated family. A life cut far too short. I remember this mom saying how she felt going out to buy her daughter the most beautiful dress she could find to bury her in, because she’d never be buying her a prom gown, or enjoy the very special time of going with her to pick out her wedding dress.

A few weeks ago we attended the funeral of a 28 year old man, the eldest child and only son of a co-worker. The young man had been an exceptional student, an athlete, and had everything to live for…until he was diagnosed with a rare and extremely deadly form of bone cancer.

He fought hard and went through procedures and surgeries which we cannot imagine, even losing a leg. He fought to the end, his family alongside him, including his fiancée and love of his life, who he had proposed to only a few months before he passed away.

Once again, a devastated family. A life cut far too short. As his father said as he gave his son’s eulogy (and I have no idea how he managed to get through it) he left behind all that he still wanted to do. He left behind the love of his life, and the life they never had a chance to establish.

But he ended with this reminder…”the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I am also reminded of the mass shooting victims over the past several weeks as well as the past several years. Too many to count. Families lost children; some lost more than one. Suddenly life as they knew it ended, and will never be the same again. The grief will never stop. It doesn’t matter whether you know your child has a terminal disease and you have time to say goodbye. Because you’re still clinging to that tiny piece of hope that there will suddenly be a miracle. A child’s death is still something that should never happen.

Time heals, but there are certain things that not even time can completely heal. And all we can do is cling to our faith.

Parents should not have to bury their children.

Parents, the next time you’re awakened at 3 am by a screaming infant be happy that child is there crying, breathing, and calling out for you. What if your nursery were suddenly forever silent?

The next time your toddler has meltdown #20 of the day, imagine what it would be like to never hear that again because your toddler is no longer there to have a meltdown.

The next time your middle schooler refuses to do what you ask him to do, talks back to you, and runs to his room and slams the door, imagine what your life would be like without any other episodes ever taking place again, because he’s no longer there.

The next time your high school student defies you, lies to you, or gets in trouble, before punishing her, imagine what life would be like if she were no longer there. Tell her you love her, and then deal with the problem.

The next time your adult child makes you crazy with worry, forgets to call, or tells you he doesn’t need your help any more because he’s grown, as you’re dealing with your hurt feelings, and trying to decide what to do, think about what it would be like to no longer have that adult child alive and well.

Parents, go hug your children. Tell them how much you love them. If they’re grown and living away from you, call them or face time them. Tell them how you feel.

Because tomorrow is not promised. We only have today. And today doesn’t last forever.

Are You Settling or Choosing?

Sometimes you hear a phrase that speaks volumes to you. That really makes you stop and think. That makes you pause and reflect and say to yourself…”I need to think about this…”

The other morning that happened to me.

What was that phrase?

“10 years from now, make sure you can say you chose your life. Not that you settled for it.”

That’s a tough one to think about, isn’t it? Because in all honesty, most of our lives are a combination of both.

Sometimes we make good decisions, good plans. And sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we think carefully about our plans and decisions, talk them over with friends or family, weigh the pros and cons, and come up with what we think is the best plan. Sometimes it is; sometimes we find out years later it really wasn’t.

Sometimes we make long term

plans based on spur of the moment decisions, jumping into something because at the time it sounds perfect, almost too good to be true. And then find out we made a terrible mistake and have no good way to get out of it.

Many times we all look back at times in our lives and realize the plans we made, the decisions we made, were the wrong ones and wish we could undo them and start again.

Sometimes we make decisions because we don’t think we have a choice, don’t think a better opportunity will come along, and decide to make that step, even though we know deep down inside it’s not the right thing to do.

Does this resonate with any of you?

We may not have necessarily chosen the life we have right now. It may be the way it is because some one or some people made it the way it is. It was not our choice.

But….

We can choose how we handle today in order to make tomorrow more of our choice than settling for something else. Something easy. Something we know isn’t right for us, but we don’t think we have any other choice.

But let me tell you, we always have a choice. We can settle for status quo, decide that where we are now is where we’re always going to be. We can decide to just say “I’m done” and stop striving for more. And settle for what we have.

We can remain in the same place and give up trying to achieve what we know we want, because we’ve lost our hope.

Or…we can say to ourselves “I’m not settling for second best. Or third best. I’m not settling until I have what I know I deserve, and I’m choosing right now to make it happen. Somehow.”

You may not know how you’re going to do it, but just by making that determination, you’ve already started making it happen.

Yes, realizing our hopes and dreams, making our choices a reality, isn’t always easy. There are bumps along that road, but in the end, it’s worth it.

It won’t happen overnight. Anything worth waiting for never does.

But do you want to say in 10 years you settled, or do you want to say you gave it your best shot, and made your best choices?

You’re too old, you say? My friends, we’re never too old to make choices that we will live with the rest of our lives.

It’s your choice, and it’s up to you to make it. Do you settle or take a chance?

I know which one I’m taking.b

Are You an Ostrich?

We’ve all heard the stories about ostriches hiding their heads in the sand. It’s associated with people trying to avoid dealing with problems by ignoring them. That way, they just hope they’ll go away.

Well, listen to this story and see what you think.

One day a wise older flamingo out for a stroll on a warm summer day happened to walk past an ostrich whose head was obviously buried down a hole in the sand.

“Curious,” thought the flamingo. “Why hide your head in the sand on a beautiful day like today?” So he asked the larger bird that question.

“Excuse me, Ostrich, but why is your head buried down in the sand? It’s a glorious day and the sun is shining, and I even hear other birds singing as they splash around in the water. You’re missing out on all the fun!”

“Fun?” Said the ostrich. “Fun?! How can I have any fun? You don’t know what I’m going through. There’s no fun around me. Everywhere I look there are problems. My family’s a mess. My job doesn’t pay enough. I have bills I can’t begin to pay. There’s no fun in my life! None!”

Puzzled, the flamingo replied, cocking his head at the ostrich, “So what are you trying to accomplish by standing here and sticking your head in the sand? You can’t see anything around you, and I’m even surprised you can hear me speaking to you.”

“Ahhh,” replied the ostrich, “that’s simple. If I can’t see the problems, I can forget they’re there. And they go away. It makes me much happier.”

“But that’s ridiculous,” said the flamingo, “ignoring your problems doesn’t make them go away. They just get worse the longer they’re ignored.”

“But I don’t totally ignore them. I pull my head out of the sand once in awhile. I have to eat and breathe, you know. But the problems are still there. And I really think they’re getting bigger. It’s really much easier to live with my head here in the sand. It’s actually cool here. And quiet.”

The flamingo shook his head. And looked around. He saw sea gulls flying over the water and dipping down every so often to grab a bite to eat. He saw groups of pelicans flying over the waves, obviously with fish in their pouches. He saw sandpipers scurrying across the beach, occasionally dipping their beaks in the sand to pull out a tasty insect.

Some of the birds even came up to the ostrich as if attempting to make friends, and have him pull his head out of the sand. But to no avail.

Once again, the flamingo tried to reason with the ostrich. “Do you hear all of the other birds flying and splashing around? I’m sure they have problems, too, but they’re obviously dealing with them. They don’t have their heads stuck in the sand all day. They’re living their life, making things work. They’re going places. You’re just stuck here, with your head in the sand. You’re going nowhere and accomplishing nothing. Is that fair to your family? Your friends? Are you happy?”

The ostrich pulled his head out for a moment. He looked around, and simply replied. “If I don’t see problems, don’t think about them, or don’t worry about them, they just don’t exist for me. So I’m happy. Why deal with something that upsets me when I can ignore it?”

And he put his head back in the sand.

And the wise older flamingo just looked at him sadly.

“One day,” said the flamingo quietly, shaking his head sadly. “One day you’ll understand. And hopefully it won’t be too late.” And he walked away.

Sometimes it’s a lot easier being an ostrich. It’s sometimes a lot easier to bury your head in the sand and not deal with problems that come up. But they unfortunately don’t go away by doing that. They usually get worse, and actually become so much harder to fix the longer you ignore them.

If you’re like that ostrich and keep burying your head in the sand, you’ll never solve any of your problems. Face them head on. Deal with them. Don’t rely on a friendly flamingo to try and convince you to do the right thing, because flamingos, like people, get tired of giving advice that isn’t acted upon.

What are you hiding from today? And why?

What’s it going to take to face it head on and fix it?

Believe me, you’ll be a lot happier when you do.

P.S. Ostriches don’t really hide their heads in the sand for long periods of time. They couldn’t, or they wouldn’t be able to breathe. Since they lay their eggs in the sand, because they can’t fly into the trees to make their nests, they actually do that to keep their eggs warm. Or they’ll sometimes do it for camouflage because their enemies can mistake that huge body for a big bush and move on. They’re actually very intelligent birds, even though they can’t fly. And they’re a lot more likely to face a problem head-on then run away or hide. Take a moment to read about them. You may be surprised.