39 is Far Too Many

The first thing I read in the news the other morning was about ANOTHER mass shooting. Another in California. California’s THIRD in as many days.

But this isn’t about California. It isn’t about all the recent mass shootings at Walmart. 

It isn’t about school shootings.

It’s about our country’s refusal to realize that something has to be done to stop this madness. 

And that doesn’t mean we need to license more people for concealed or open carry.

It doesn’t mean we need to arm our teachers in their classrooms. They’re there to teach, not stop a gunman from shooting their students. Or a student shooting other students.

We need to make changes in our gun laws. And we need to change our attitudes about guns, as well as our attitudes about mental health.

Yes. Mental health. Because these people who are committing these horrendous acts of cowardly terrorism are most definitely in need of intervention. 

In the aftermath of these horrific incidents it’s very often discovered that a majority of the perpetrators have exhibited signs of serious and disturbing emotional and psychological problems. Which unfortunately are very often being largely ignored by friends, family, or coworkers.

Could some of these massacres have been prevented if people had spoken up instead of turning away and ignoring what they saw? Possibly. But we’ll never know, will we? Because so many people just don’t want to get involved.

But maybe at least some more massacres could be prevented if people took more careful note of others around them doing or saying things, posting things, that possibly could be an indication of a problem, and letting someone know. But then again, too many people like to ignore such things, afraid of retaliation or retribution from others. So they stay silent, and when something happens, that’s when they speak up. 

After it’s too late.

But this does not negate the need for stricter gun laws. AND the need to enforce those laws rather than oftentimes look the other way when someone wants to purchase a firearm who doesn’t meet the criteria under the law.

And by all means, we need to pass a ban on assault weapons. No one needs them for hunting. They are weapons for war, for quick kills. Why does Joe Public need one? And don’t tell me it’s to defend his family, because there are other ways. Yes, the Constitution allows us to keep and bear arms, but laws are designed to regulate how that is done.

And yes, I understand that there will always be an element of society that will find ways to acquire weapons no matter what. And in that case, when they’re caught, we need the laws to be strictly enforced, with no plea bargains. And all rights to gun ownership resulting in a lifetime ban on future gun ownership or possession with harsher penalties for violation. 

And what about educating gun owners on the proper and safe methods of securing their firearms? Perhaps even requiring those who legally own a firearm being required to take a safety course every so often in order to keep that license to own a gun? Don’t we have to have our drivers licenses renewed on a regular basis? What’s the difference?

By now I’m sure many of you will have tuned out and think I’m crazy to suggest any such limitations in gun ownership. After all, it’s their right!

Well let me close by asking this question? How would you feel if your loved one was killed or hurt in a mass shooting? What if there were a shooting at your child’s school? Would you still think there’s no need for stronger gun control laws? Picture yourself getting that phone call or seeing it on the news.

My friends, it’s time to make our voices heard and come up with a solution to these problems. Before there are more mass murders. 

Even one more is too many. 

Overcoming the Victim Mentality

He did this to me.”

“She said that about me.”

“I was being bullied because someone said something that I don’t agree with and I didn’t like it. They’re making me feel like they hate me.”

“He told me I’m fat and ugly and don’t deserve to have anything nice.”

“Everyone picks on me. No one understands what I’m going through. They don’t get it. I’m always being picked on.”

“He/she deserted me for someone else and now nothing’s going right. It’s not fair.”

“Whatever I do or say, someone always tells me I don’t know what I’m talking about and makes me feel bad about myself. They’re always picking on me.”

Do these statements sound familiar? 

Does someone you know say such things all the time? Or do you find yourself saying them?

What do these statements all have in common?

They’re what you use to make yourself the victim in everything that goes wrong in your life. Because it’s easier to blame someone else for everything than looking at yourself and asking why all this seems to be happening.

Maybe you’re the type of person who just can’t be happy unless there’s something to complain about.

Maybe it’s easier to explain away all your unhappiness because it’s someone else’s fault. 

But when you keep repeating the same reasons over and over in every unhappy situation there’s a problem.

It’s your victim mentality. Because it’s easier to blame someone else rather than look inside yourself and try to figure out why this same situation happens time after time.

Maybe you don’t know any other way to be. And maybe keeping that victim mentality in its strange way makes you happy. Because it’s easier to keep complaining than move out of your comfort zone. 

There’s always an excuse. But what you don’t realize is, you’re the excuse, because you’re always playing the victim.

And if you don’t stop, you’ll never be the conqueror.

And isn’t it time for you to be a conqueror rather than a victim?

Little Did I Imagine…

…when I first saw you, my beautiful baby daughter, when I first held you, where life would take you. I had no idea where your life would take you. All of the adventures ahead. All of the exciting times. The special times in your life. Your first boyfriend. Graduating from high school. Meeting Chris, the young man who quickly stole your heart.  Your 21st birthday. Graduating from college. Getting engaged. Your wedding day. You and Chris announcing your first pregnancy.

Little could I imagine where your lives were going next….

I couldn’t take my eyes off your own first daughter Rachel when I first saw her. I cried. I couldn’t help it, because I saw my own mother’s eyes in her. She looked just like you when I held you in my arms the first time. And you looked exactly like me when I was a baby. There’s no doubt we’re all related. Your grandmother even used to call you by my name when you were younger.

I watched as you adjusted to being a mother, watching your grow into a new level of adulthood. You and Chris both changed your lives, as you learned how to be parents. And that’s not an easy thing to learn. (I think your dad and I are still learning.)

I watched Rachel grow from a little baby into a toddler, running around and keeping you both on your toes. Then there came the day you sent us a picture of Rachel looking at a “big sister” book and I couldn’t call you quick enough! What a double blessing you’d given us!

Little did I know what you had in store with those two little girls…sisters who I know will end up being best friends forever. Even though right now they alternate between loving each other to yelling and screaming at each other. Sometimes in the same hour. I do often wonder what would’ve happen if you’d had a little sister like that. Most likely the same things you’re seeing them go though now. And since you’d have been the oldest, I can imagine you’d be acting a lot like Rachel!

And I kept telling you you’d have a boy next time, which you and Chris both wanted. I just felt it. And you didn’t believe me. And little did you know, but I was right. I knew it when you sent us a picture of your two girls both wearing “big sister” shirts. And once again I couldn’t call you quickly enough!

Little did you know this time it WAS a boy, even though Rachel kept telling you it was, even before any of us were able to confirm it. And I knew he’d look just like his daddy.

We did know you’d probably have the same problems with daily morning, afternoon and evening sickness you’d had with your other pregnancies, although we were hoping for an easier time.

But little did we imagine you’d develop a rare pregnancy-induced liver condition that would endanger both you and our grandson. Fortunately you had excellent medical care and a prayer team who never stopped praying for you and baby Ryan. And he was born just five days before Christmas. Five weeks early. You said he’d be early, and you were right!

And little did I expect to have the reaction I had when he was born. I’d been so nervous with this one, especially knowing how early he was, and sitting in the waiting area pacing back and forth waiting for news.

I wasn’t prepared for a nurse coming out to get me and telling me there was someone who wanted to meet me, and I should come with her. I’d been so nervous that it took a minute to register what she was telling me. “He’s really anxious to meet you,” she said, “but you can’t touch him yet!”

At that point it registered, and I almost ran back to see our son-in-law standing by the isolette with their new son, all 6 pounds of him, his little head covered by a red and white crocheted cap for Christmas. “He’s perfectly healthy,” Chris said proudly.

And I couldn’t do anything but cry my tears of happiness, and relief that our miracle child was here. He was beautiful!

But little did we know he’d be back in the hospital on his one week birthday because he wasn’t holding his body temperature. Fortunately once again our prayers were answered and he was back home within three days, just in time for the new year!

Little do we know what lies ahead for all of you with your family now complete. Three beautiful children. And now celebrating 15 years since your first date and almost 8 years married! And look at where life has already taken the two – now five – of you. And it’s hard to believe little Ryan is already one month old.

Life is always interesting and certainly never boring, and your lives will definitely remain interesting, to say the least. We love you all so much.

You Don’t Want to Be Like Anyone Else

You just want to be you. Because that’s who you are. There’s only one you.

Only one person in the world exactly like you. Others may look a bit like you, like a lot of the same things you do, even dress similarly. But there are still differences.

Even identical twins have slight differences. And sometimes only they can know the differences. But they’re still there.

You’re unique. You are wonderfully and perfectly made to be exactly who you are.

So instead of wanting to be like someone else, cherish your uniqueness.

Because there’s someone out there who wants to be like you!

There Will Never Be a Relationship Manual

So don’t look for one.

Why? Because relationships involve two people, and no two people are alike.

So how can any relationship be anything like another?

You have to write your own manual. And that manual is one you add to every day. There’s no end to it.

Relationships are complicated. What works in one relationship won’t work in another. They’re the hardest things in the world to get right because they involve people, and you can’t control other people. You can’t make decisions without them, and you should never make decisions without consulting them.

You think there are perfect relationships? I have to tell you. There is no such thing. If you find someone who says they’ve never argued with their partner, they’re not telling the truth. 

In every successful relationship there are always times one or both partners feel like they want to give up. Start over with someone else. But that’s not how it works. 

Sure there are situations in which there are totally irreconcilable differences…abuse, cheating, untreated drug or alcohol abuse, to name a few.

But more relationships fail because of lack of communication and a true lack of commitment than the reasons I mentioned above. Without each person being able to communicate to the other, being able to express their feelings, and being ready, willing and able to truly listen to what the other has to say, it’s much harder to make the relationship successful. 

Trust is also vital. If you can’t trust someone with your feelings, how do you expect them to trust you with theirs?

Where is your relationship right now? If it needs some work, there no time like now to get started on repairs.

And if it’s going along beautifully, you’re truly blessed. Because in each relationship there’s always a little something that can be improved.

Problems Just Don’t Go Away

It’s a mistake to turn your back on a problem. Or run away from it.

Because it’s going to follow you. It’s going to keep right on your heels until you turn around and face it.

It won’t ever go away on its own. You may think it has. But it’s still there, hiding, and biding its time til it’s ready to return and remind you it’s still there.

And it’ll return when you least expect it.

So my advice to you: turn around and deal with it now. Because each time it returns, it’s bigger than before.

Deal with it now. And be done with it forever.

Decisions

We make them every day, you know. And they’re not always big ones.

We decide what we’re going to wear that day, and what shoes go best with that outfit.

We decide what we’re going to eat. If we’re going out to eat, and if so, we decide where. Or if we’re staying at home, we have to decide on a menu, and if we’re cooking it ourselves or having it delivered from a restaurant.

If we have children, we have to help them decide what to wear, and what they’re going to eat. Among other things.

We have to decide what we’re going to do on our weekends. Where we’re going and with who. Or if we’re just going to enjoy time to do nothing.

If someone we care about has a birthday coming up, we have to decide on a gift.

When it’s Christmas we have to decide on gifts for our family and friends, and even more, decide on ways to make the holiday a very memorable and special time.

These are decisions we make that many times we don’t even realize we’re making them. They just happen and we usually do them without a lot of thought. 

They’re easy to make.

But then there are the other decisions. The tough ones. The ones you don’t want to have to make, but you sometimes have no choice.

The decision to leave a job and start over, when you see that things are going terribly wrong and may not get better. Or you’re not going anywhere with your current job and you know you need to make a change. 

The decision to move yourself and your family several hundreds of miles away for either family situations or employment opportunities, leaving behind other beloved family members and friends you’ve known forever.

The decision as whether or not to split up with a spouse for totally devastating reasons: unfaithfulness, theft of your personal savings; criminal activity; severe drug or alcohol abuse; physical or emotional abuse. The list can go on but you get the idea. And it’s especially hard if you have young children.

The decision to move an elderly parent or maybe your spouse to a nursing home or other specialized care facility because they can no longer care for themselves and you cannot do it either.

Or even worse, the decision to take a family member off of life support because there is no hope for recovery.

Decisions are sometimes easy, and other times difficult, even gut wrenching. Unfortunately they’re part of life, and there’s sometimes no choice in the matter. You make the best decision you can under the circumstances. And once you do, you can’t look back and do a “what if?” Because those “what if’s” aren’t going to happen. 

Whatever decision you may be facing in the coming days, weeks, or even months, make the best one you can under the circumstances. And don’t look back, because you did the right thing at the time. 

May you have the confidence to make the right decisions in the coming year, and may you make them with no regrets afterwards.

Be at Peace…Not in Pieces

I don’t know about you, but lots of time I feel like I’m pulled in so many different directions I’m in the middle of a tug of war and about to be torn apart.

Sometimes I just need a break to regroup and let go of some of the things that are pulling at me and threatening to tear me apart or crush me into pieces.

What about you?

Everyone needs a time to rest; a time to relax. A time to do only what you want to do.

Some time to say this is MY day to be with me and no one else. To spend time catching up with yourself. Asking yourself what’s gotten you in this shape and what you need to do to get yourself back to you.

And don’t be afraid to answer yourself.

Go to your quiet place and just be you. Do what you enjoy most by yourself. It may be reading, writing, painting or drawing, creating jewelry, or just taking a walk on the beach or having a massage.

We all need this escape from time to time, to be at peace with ourselves. Not in a bunch of pieces that seem to get more and more broken as we go along. To put those broken pieces back together.

Take some time to find your peace this week. Before life starts to break you again.

Wine and Paint – Flamingo Style

By now I’m sort of used to the flamingos just wandering into the house at any time. It’s what they do. They get an idea in their pink heads, talk and squawk about it among themselves til they get their ideas planned out, and then come and tell us about it, knowing that (usually) we’ll support them in their ideas.

I had no idea what they were planning this time, since they walked in carrying blank paint canvases, an easel or two, and boxes of watercolor and acrylic paints, as well as a selection of colored pencils. With a lot of various shades of pink, I might add.

“So what are you all up to this time?” I asked, looking at all the supplies they were carrying. I wondered what room in the house they were planning to disrupt with their latest project.

“Don’t worry,” they said. “We’re not leaving all of this here. At least not this time. We’re going to a party.”

“With paint supplies? What kind of party?”

Have you ever seen flamingos roll their eyes? Sort of like they’re saying, do you not get it? 

So they explained their plans. And actually it sort of made sense. In a flamingo kind of way, of course.

It started with their wine tasting trip a few months ago. They’d had so much fun (and drank so much wine), they’d decided to find more activities to do which involved wine. Why not? They’re flamingos, and they like to party.

So they looked around and found several places that offered wine and paint nights. They called around and found one that could accommodate a group of flamingos 

“They told us if we wanted to, we could bring our own supplies and brushes that would fit our wings easier, so we have everything together. We’re going tonight, and our limo is on its way. Hey, would you like to join us?”

I was sort of tempted, but I explained I’d let them have all their fun this time. “Maybe next time,” I added.

They agreed, and headed out to the limo, ready to have an evening of fun.

The next morning we found several paintings in the foyer, as well as a few wing-painted wine glasses. They’d actually done a really good job!

A few hours later they came in and told us all about the night. They’d obviously had a great time! You could tell from all the paint all over their feathers! Obviously when they’d gotten home they sort of just fell into bed! 

They’d been given a private party room, which is not unusual for such an event. The restaurant set them up with three or four selections of wine and champagne, along with charcuterie boards with cheese, fruit, and shrimp (of course).

They had their choice of painting on canvas or watercolor paper, or selecting a plain wine glass and painting that with their own design. And since the flock couldn’t agree on the same project, the restaurant let them do whatever project they each selected.

Fortunately there were two art instructors there to help them, and the flamingos said the instructors were quite impressed about how well they did, and said they’d love to have them come back and do it again.

“They even asked to keep a few of our paintings for display pieces to show how anyone can do art, even if they aren’t experienced, and even if they’re flamingos!” said one of the birds quite proudly.

“And the next time we go you’re going with us!“ they added. “You and Ben haven’t partied with us for awhile, and it’s time!”

“We shall see,” I answered. “Now go wash the paint off your feathers from last night. You must’ve been really tired when you got home.” They started grumbling a little, and I had to remind them there’d be no going in the pool until they did.!

That was one way to handle those cute but pesky and somewhat hung-over flamingos!

So stay tuned for the next flamingo adventure which certainly sounds like we may get to experience first hand. You just never know what they’re going to do next.

Starting Another New Year

And once again looking expectantly to starting something new. Maybe becoming someone new. 

We all have that feeling at first, or a part of it. This is going to be a year of changes, a year we accomplish something new, a year of becoming a new person, etc.

All over social media we see the examples, many times in the form of ads for products being pushed on us that are supposed to make that huge change in your life.

Ads for new journals to use to record all the wonderful things you’re going to do. Ads for art and writing classes that will suddenly change your entire life, just by using their product. Ads for cosmetics that will instantly make you look ten or twenty years younger overnight. Ads for products that will teach you a new language, a new skill,  or make you lose weight easily and quickly; all you have to do is buy the product!

So what’s the magic formula that changes December 31, 2022 at 11:59 PM to January 1, 2023 at 12:00 midnight that suddenly makes all your hopes and dreams come true in just a second of time? What causes that transformation from who you were that particular second to the new person you become the next second?

Do you magically feel different, look different, think different, maybe suddenly have everything you ever wanted?

It’s not that easy, is it?

Our expectations are easy to imagine in our minds. But to make them actually happen is another matter. 

Sure, we start out believing that THIS new year is “it”. The year we do this, that or the other thing; the year that we become who we’re destined to be; the year we find that perfect job, that perfect relationship, that perfect thing we’ve been looking for for so long.

We’re expectant. We’re excited. We start new things and vow to continue our new “me” forever. 

And for several weeks we do. But the novelty wears off, and we quickly become tired of trying so hard because we don’t get what we want right away, and by the end of January we’re back to our old selves, wondering why nothing has changed yet.

It happens to all of us at one time or the other. Sometimes over and over.

Because making a change entails a lot more than saying you’re going to do this or that. It involves changing your mindset, the way you think about things.

It involves stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a chance. It involves doing something new, in order to make a change. 

And it also involves sticking with something even when you don’t see the results immediately, like in a few weeks or maybe a month. Because change isn’t instant. You can’t wiggle your nose or snap your fingers and instantly change your life. That’s not how it works.

Yes, the new year is a great time to make promises of things you’re going to do to change your life. But that change will only happen if you make a conscious and conscientious decision to really do it, and not give up and not stop until you reach your goal. 

Change can only come by working toward a goal and continuing, even when you don’t see things happening right away or the way you expect them to.

It took a lot of years to become who your were on December 31. So why do you expect to immediately be someone else on January 1? 

Promising yourself to do something different in this new year is great, but don’t lose sight of that promise on January 2, or 3, or January 20….or the next month or two. You can accomplish your goal, but not without changing your mindset and your way of living.

So try it. What have you got to lose?

Happy New Year to each and every one of you!

And Once, Again 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 2022. Engagements, weddings, new babies (our new grandson and a couple of babies for our daughter’s friends), expected babies, 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. High gas prices (which are fortunately going down now). Inflation.

Then there are the catastrophes which hit thousands of people. Disastrous hurricanes and torrential flooding. Brutal snowstorms and below freezing temperatures which have already resulted in a number of deaths due to the temperatures. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Loss of thousands of homes with people left wondering “now what do I do?!” More mass shootings for absolutely no reason except hate. The horrible war in Ukraine which has resulted in thousands of senseless deaths, thousands of devastating forever life-changing injuries, and thousands of people losing their homes and everything but the clothes on their backs.

Now you may say these things 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 some medical issues, not only with my husband this time, but with our daughter’s complications during her pregnancy (which fortunately resulted in a healthy baby boy). 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 2022 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.

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 2023 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 2022 is almost over. And I’m hoping 2023 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!!

Making a Special Christmas Dinner

As I shared a few days ago, our Christmas was a bit different this year. And certainly not what we’d planned. 

Of course we had a good reason for it being a bit different, because five days before our daughter and her husband presented us with a new baby boy…5 weeks early. Our tiny grandbaby was definitely the best gift we’ve ever received for Christmas. 

But he certainly caused us to use a lot of creativity and ingenuity in order to create a festive dinner with only 24 hours to plan it, since we didn’t know until the day before if our new mom would be up to traveling (which she wasn’t). And although not what we usually do, we made it work. 

Fortunately my best friend Karen is an event planner who specializes in creative picnics for various occasions. She was already included in our family dinner, and we put her decorating and cooking skills to work to help put together and set up a traveling Christmas dinner at our daughter’s house, complete with all the gifts, food, and even impromptu table decorations gathered up from my Christmas craft supplies. 

A festive occasion calls for a properly decorated table, as well as a good presentation of the food, even if we had to improvise a bit. 

Which we did.

After our preparing almost everything in my kitchen and Karen’s, we packed up two cars, one with gifts and one with food, and headed to our daughter’s home some 30 minutes away.

Trying to put together dinner in someone else’s home, even if you’ve prepared almost everything in advance, isn’t the easiest thing to do, as many of you know. Although we tried to bring all the serving pieces, serving dishes, etc., there were still things we had to finish in an unfamiliar setting, which called for more improvising, including searching for sharp knives, saucepans, and the like. Our son in law had to clean his fishing knife in order to carve the turkey, and then we had to warm up the gravy in a small fry pan, which was all we could find.

Not to mention having to use an oven that wasn’t properly calibrated, which meant we had to guess at the time it took to bake my “famous” cinnamon buns! (Thank goodness we were able to figure the cooking time out and they turned out perfect!)

Karen used a tablecloth and napkins I’d brought, along with a few candles our daughter had, and put together our dinner table. Yes, we used paper plates and cups, but it worked. 

And the new big sisters pretended they were at a restaurant at their own special table and even used their “menus” to order their meal! But they did forget to leave their servers a tip. Even after having a third serving of my cinnamon buns.

But all of this just continues to reinforce that Christmas isn’t about fancy decorations, or food that looks like it came from a restaurant or the pages of a magazine. It’s about family and friends, being together, and loving each other. We were together and that’s what counted the most. 

Definitely a Christmas Day we won’t forget. Especially with our newest member of the family!

Hope yours was wonderful as well!