A Wedding Invitation: Come One But Not All

Hi!

I’m getting married this year. My fiancé and I have decided that we want an intimate setting for the ceremony with only our immediate family members in attendance. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by not inviting them but we also do not want to create a bigger expense than we can afford. Any suggestions on the best way to pull this off?

My opinion:

Happy New Year and congratulations!

Are you familiar with the old saying, ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time’? This is one of those situations. Your wedding is a special day for you and your future spouse.  It can also be very stressful making arrangements and keeping up with all the planning and preparation that goes into it. With that in mind, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a smaller wedding. Don’t feel obligated to include people just because you know of them, especially if a large guest list oversteps the boundaries of your budget.

You’ve indicated that you wanted an intimate ceremony. Are you also planning a reception? It’s not a rare thing to have a small ceremony or a trip to the Justice of the Peace for a quick I do and then celebrate the night away with friends and family. I’m not sure which season you are planning to wed but you may want to consider hosting the reception in your home or backyard or that of a friend or family member during warmer months, or in the home if the weather is not so compliant. Local community centers can be a very inexpensive way to go and may include the rental of tables and chairs. You do have to supply your own decor so shop around for sales and deep discounts. The internet may prove to be your best ally for this.

Other ways to save, if you are considering a reception include enlisting the help of family and friends. You can save lots of money by:

  • Having someone you know who enjoys taking pictures be the amateur photographer for your wedding. It saves money for you and gives them great content for their portfolio.
  • Have the best family cooks cater the venue instead of hiring outside caterers. Do it yourself=money saver.
  • If you know someone who can get the tunes right ask them to lend a hand.
  • If it’s not too late, make your own invitations it’s easy and it saves big time.
  • If regular paper products won’t suffice, go for ‘like real’ paper plates, cups and utensils. It’s cheap, makes for easy cleanup, and adds a touch of elegance because it actually looks real.

If you are looking to stick to a simple ceremony and dinner at your favorite restaurant, just be honest with those people who may take some offense if they don’t get that invite in the mail. Pulling a rabbit out of a hat is much easier than testing the limits of your bank account.

Good luck to you and whatever you decide. Best wishes for happiness and prosperity to you and your spouse.

If you would like my opinion, please complete the contact form below. Name and email are not necessary, however, if you would like notification when your situation will be displayed on The Blog Dahlia, please include an email address.

The World Through My Eyes

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Where did I go? As I walk to the mirror to see what it shows. The face that looks back at me holds-

A resemblance of a girl I used to know. Her eyes, though the same color are darkly tinted with hurt and fear, blood and punishment,confusion and hate.

Her body wears scars of war. A war she physically survived but mentally she’s no more.

Teeth marks, stitches, scratches… Bruised by choking, palms, fists and feet… Knives, belts, bottles,chords…guns… She’s still here but doesn’t realize she already beat defeat.

Why? Only God knows why. Only God can make sense of the life he designed. Only God can describe the pieces he arranged for the puzzle of a life that’s mine.

Only God can describe all the work that he’s done to redirect the pieces of me that I destroyed because I felt

Because I felt they didn’t belong.

Who was I to challenge God’s masterpiece design? To take it upon myself to edit any lines written by Him on what would become me- who I was then and who I was destined to be. Why couldn’t I recognize the disaster I would create and all the work He would have to put in to set my mess straight?

Why is the flesh so strong and the mind so weak? Why do we want more but want to do less to make it complete? Why do we blame others for our actions that become our mistakes? Our regrets that take over every moment we are awake.

What’s wrong with this place called Earth? Why are there so many wars? Why do I see so many men and women with potential behind bars? Why are women having babies for the color of his eyes to be raised up in the system and constantly fed lies?

Why are our boys becoming girls and our girls becoming guys? Where is mankind headed? Am I watching its demise? Rick is with Renee and Tina with Ty. Ty and Rick are in the closet and Tina has Sean, Mike, Derrick and Dave on the side.

Don’t forget Kim she wants a piece of that pie so she’s subtracting her value with all of them to make sure her light don’t die -but 8 a.m. the next morning she still standing on that welfare line. Why?

We’re birthing kings and queens but raising thugs and thots. Teaching our boys to wear makeup and our girls to grab their crotch. Where’s the love for others? Where’s the love of self? Where’s the savior for this generation? They can’t save themselves.

We have Pastors stealing money and Priests raping boys. Teachers bedding students and children mistaking guns for toys. Known murderers walking around free to kill again.

While somewhere A man lies dead.

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41 Shots for the wallet that was in his hand.

Kids can’t play outside because the gangs are going to war. Then again they’re not safe inside because the bullets are busting through their windows and doors. You have parents deciding they can’t take it no more; leaving their children annihilated on the bathroom floor.

We’ve already lost trust and hope is fading fast. Don’t know about you but I’m tired of blaming my future on my past. We all want change-justice, equality, more food and money for the poor but when the opportunity knocks, we’re afraid to open the door.

As I look in the mirror I see the world in my eyes. I see all the confusion and hate that’s disguised-

As love for our friends for our families for ourselves but all it is-is a bounty that we collect for someone else.

We don’t gain fame for hating ourselves or each other. That news coverage make us infamous gracing mugshot  books, obituaries, and America’s Most Wanted Covers.

It’s sad and it hurts. All I do is cry. I wonder if I’ll ever see a change before I die. If not in others then definitely with myself but I have to realize that I can’t just sit here and wait because this circle of life can’t change itself.

Spending the Holiday with Family

Finally got a chance to see Almost Christmas and I loved it! Aside from it being reminiscent of a Soul Food/This Christmas hybrid, the casting was the perfect recipe for endless laughs and foolery. Just in case you haven’t seen it, I’ll try not to spoil it for you but I do recommend it! Check out the trailer here (Warning. Contains profanity).

At some point in our lives, we have all had that Almost Christmas experience. We have been in attendance to a family gathering meant to eat, drink, and be merry with those we are closest to and love. But, what is a family get-together without the family drama? There’s nothing wrong with a little clash of personalities, right? How often have you witnessed this clash? How many times has the clash of personality turned into this scene from the movie 300? Ok, maybe this hasn’t actually happened but you have probably thought about it on a few occassions. I’m sure we all can pinpoint those family members who match up, perfectly with the characters of this movie.

We all have that one strong, independent, don’t need anyone to help them type of family member.

The one that always puts work first. This one might not even show up.

The one that used to be successful and still is…in their head. You know the one.

The one that thinks everything about their life is better than the rest of the family. (Sparta kick).

The one that can’t cook but is always trying to feed everybody. Gosh, and always makes A LOT of whatever that’s supposed to be.

The Peacemaker is always 2 hugs away from making everyone sing Kumbaya My Lord.

The ones who just can’t get along. Get the popcorn because the movie is about to start.

The Joker. You gotta love this person. He/she keeps the laughs going.

The one who is addicted to something. This person can’t sit still to save a life. Every 5 minutes he/she has to ‘use the bathroom’ and every 6 minutes everyone else is touching their pockets and purses to make sure they still have their wallets.

The ones who are always pulling out their phones or other electronics. What ever happened to family games. Today’s technology keeps everyone tucked away in their own personal bubble.

How many of these characteristics come to visit during your family gatherings? I’m pretty sure…NOOO, I’m absolutely positive I have quite a few of them in my family tree.

A Happy Family New Year

This past weekend was absolutely amazing! I celebrated my one-year wedding anniversary on New Year’s Eve at my favorite restaurant, The Melting Pot and brought in the New Year with my family.

I can remember, not so long ago, when New Years Eve signified party time. I wanted to hang out, have a drink or four and dance the night away surrounded by hundreds of people I didn’t know. Now, the best way to ring in the New Year is with my family. Whether we are at home or in another family friendly environment, nothing is more appealing to me than the time I spend with them. I have spent a lot of time, in my early adult years, growing up. Being a single, childless adult is a wonderful thing. The list of responsibilities are, compared to that of someone with a family-someone like me, minute. I’ve learned that it is not only tiresome to try to juggle a single lifestyle in a family style frame but it is also non productive. If I am going to be tired, I would like to invest that spent energy in my home and all those who reside there.

The home is the first learning institution a child will attend. If the lesson plan is poor the child will not be enriched. -Liz McKenzie

I recognize that, over the past few decades, the dynamics associated with the family life have changed in drastic proportions. With the most recent addition of technology, the existing dynamics have almost faded away completely. It’s a sad state that I don’t want my family to succumb to and that is why I made the decision to want to cultivate a home life for them.  It’s the simple things that mean so much and teach so much more. We have family movie night, family game night, we even do family date night, the point is we make time to spend with each other and that’s what makes me proud. In our home, my husband and I put strong emphasis on respect and communication-something we see less and less of in many children as the days go on. We are teaching them but they are also great teachers and I am glad to be apart of their learning experience.

Life is so much more than just personal indulgence, especially when there are other people who depend on you. Too often, we take for granted the people we have around us. We think they will always be there, but they won’t. As we grow older, so do our children. Eventually, they will leave the nest and create a life of their own. Enjoy them while you can. I know I do!

From my family to yours, Happy New Year!!

Featured Photo courtesy of Pixabay

12.31.16-New Year’s Eve To You But So Much More To Me

1 YEAR
12 MONTHS
365 DAYS
8,760 HOURS
525,600 MINUTES
315,360,000 SECONDS

A couple of months ago I came across a blog post about a very interesting topic. When I saw the title of the post I immediately raised not one but both eyebrows and let out a quick hmm. As I read the content two thoughts occurred to me,  1) the writer of the post was a genius for being able to create such a wonderful deductive comparison between life and love and 2) someone was finally able to crack the code on my life of love. I chose to hold off on writing about this gem of an evaluation specifically for today.

This particular post described three different loves that we experience throughout our lifetime. I’m not sure what will resonate to you when you read it but it concisely read me my rights. As described, I went through the first love, I’m a survivor of the second and now here I am. All of the hard relationship work is finally paying off. Life no longer seems like a fuzzy blur.

Our story is 29 years in the making, even longer than that if you can believe some of the interesting facts surrounding us. I, officially,  met him through a mutual friend while in junior high school. The irony is that we never spoke one on one, we were always in a group. His memory about me back then surpasses mine, tenfold. He remembers the way I used to wear my hair, the way I used to sit in my bedroom window with my arms folded and just shake my head at the silly conversations our mutual friends had. I only remember bits and pieces. He remembers vivid details. Before we reached this point in our lives, he also experienced the first love and survive the second.

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We reconnected on Facebook, sarcastic surprise! But even though we were Facebook friends, we never interacted with each other except for the yearly happy birthday courtesy of the Facebook notification. There were no hi, how are you’s or anything. For two years we scrolled past photo and status updates until a quick scroll and eye trickery on a celebrity image (he would kill me if I told which celebrity) made me think it was him. When I realized the faux pas, I tagged him in the image and describe what happened. This was our first contact at the end of the second year of us becoming Facebook friends it was also the night before my birthday.

We messaged each other via Facebook for 3 days before he gave me his number.  It would be another two days before I actually called because I wasn’t sure I wanted him to have mine. You see, I had built a mental wall around me for the purpose of not letting anyone in. The diligence of a determined man is like no other. We were pretty much telephonically inseparable after that. We lived 2 hours away from each other so an actual face-to-face wasn’t in the cards or at least that’s what I told myself. It turns out he didn’t mind driving 2 hours even if it was only to spend 1 hour just to get back on that 2 hour ride back. His actions and memory made it hard to discredit the crush he said he had all those years ago.

We found out a lot about each other that still has us both in awe. We found out that we have always lived in close proximity of one another since we were aged in the single digits I’m not just talking about the same neighborhood, either, we lived on the same street! We relocated together but never knew each other. Now here we were again living in the same state 2 hours away from each other. So what’s so special about that well we moved from the same state to the same state 6 months apart. Oh yeah, I almost forgot we also have matching birthmarks on our left thumb mine is lighter while his is darker and much like our wedding bands mine is thinner and his is wider.

I can’t say for sure why, throughout the years, we have always been so near yet so far to each other. For decades, we orbited each other in a seemingly parallel universe, one oblivious to the other. My theory is that we were always meant to be but in order for us to truly appreciate the role we were meant to have in our union, life had to teach us a few things and we were slow learners. We were seduced by the imagery of love the first time and the Venom of its Wrath the second time now we are in a place where we can create our own fairy tale because we know how to build upon the traits that we need so they can manifest into the traits that we want.

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On 12/31/15 exactly one year after we officially realized that the powers that be were pushing us together no matter how hard we tried to convince ourselves that we were done with love, my husband and I were married. We are still shocked!  For us there was no better way to end one year and begin another.

If you don’t have a best friend that can walk beside you when you’re strong and carry you with no hesitation when you’re weak you’re missing out. I would tell you to go out and look for the love you want but then you wouldn’t be home when the love you need comes knocking. I’m glad I was home.

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”-Brad Paisley

Pulling the Weeds and Trimming the Hedges.

And this just in:

“I’m making some changes in my life. If you don’t hear from me you were one of them.”~unknown

So nice, I had to say it twice! The second time doesn’t sound as cruel as the first. At this stage of your life change, it actually might be music to your ears.

Now that your mind has been recruited, it’s time to make a few necessary adjustments in the who, what, when, where and why’s of your social circle, both personal and professional. Not everyone will be happy with your steps towards change and you will find that you may need to change the people around you. No worries! Your change is for a better you not a bitter them.

Not all of your old friends and associates will be able to or even want to speak your new language. Running with the same crowd may make you feel like the odd man or woman out, especially if your goal is to change some of the mutual habits shared that you want to lose but they wish to keep.  Those behaviors may be a negative impact on all of the progress, regardless of how small, you have made and you just don’t need it! Switch it up. Find local or online groups of like-minded individuals that you can interact with. Go to museums, art galleries or do volunteer work at an agency of your choice that will keep you in step with your goals. Whatever compliments your mental framework, just do it!

Next, is it time to move on professionally? If your current employment venture is failing to adequately meet your needs, it may be. I don’t, however, recommend storming into your boss’s office spewing different forms of profanity and then quitting on the spot. While it may be a great source of temporary gratification, it would certainly be the end of work as you know it. Instead, brainstorm. Think about the possible options available to you. Is there room for advancement? Are there other departments that may be more suitable for your needs? If you do need to seek out other opportunities are you qualified to meet the demand or will you require formal educational training?

Whatever you decide, stick to the plan. Only you know where you want to go. If you have prepared yourself mentally, you will successfully navigate around issues as they occur. If you have begun cultivating an environment that will enable you to grow, you’ve already won half the battle. No plan is without flaws so you should expect setbacks, within reason. Do your best not to succumb to discouragement and just keep pushing!

 

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The Mental Preparation

“Your mind is where your problem is in the first place”. ~Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind.

As mentioned in my previous post, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Change?, transitioning from the person you are to the person you desire to be is a far cry from being simple. Mental preparation should be the first step in your journey for change. Well, maybe not the first step. You do need to be able to recognize when change is essential. Once hindsight has been discovered, then the process can begin.

The way you mentally process information and situations today may not be appropriate or provide room for growth in where you see yourself tomorrow. Your thoughts can manifest into your actions. If you envision yourself on the road to happiness or success you will physically place yourself on that path. Likewise, if you are pessimistic in thinking you will see many unproductive days.

It’s ill-advised to think that real change can happen overnight! Don’t get me wrong, your situation can be one way today and a different way tomorrow, by chance. That doesn’t necessarily indicate true long-term change or even a stable one, for that matter, if you are not mentally prepared to make it so. Securing your mindset enables you to hold yourself accountable for every thought, decision, and action that pertains to anything you do when you are in a season of transition and beyond. You may find it beneficial to talk less and observe more. This doesn’t imply that you should not speak up it simply means sometimes, when you incessantly verbalize, you block out the lesson that’s being taught. During your mental transition, its all about learning new ways and molding them into your own self structured life plan.

To help you gain clarity, try these suggestions:

  1. Meditate
  2. Keep a journal to help you stay focused.
  3. Recognize triggers that offset your peace. Find a new more positive way to deal with them or, if you can, get rid of them all together.
  4. Replace negative thoughts and emotions with positive alternatives.
  5. Surround yourself with people who are supportive.
  6. Incorporate new daily routines that serve as a pathway toward your desired goals.

Again I say, mental preparation is by far the hardest part of the change process. You are, after all, attempting to redirect what is now a hard-wired thought design that is years in the making. Even more challenging is that a mental change is not a cosmetic attribute and, the way our hard wired thoughts are set up, any change or anything new needs to be visible. We like to flaunt it. What is there to possibly flaunt when we are on mental haywire balancing act? FLAUNT YOUR FOCUS!!!

Listen, if you are one who still has major concern about what someone else may see when they look at you during YOUR season of personal change, then you are already sabotaging your success. It doesnt matter what they see! What is your vision for yourself?  What do you see?

 

 

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Change?

Over the next few days I will be sharing my opinion on the importance of something we all need yet many despair.

“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.~ Robin Sharma

The only thing harder than personal change is finding that needle in the haystack. Over the years we have been introduced to various aspects of various lives. Some we’ve adopted, some we’ve outright refused, and others we’ve tested but didn’t like the taste. In case you didn’t know, change is imminent. There’s no way around it. Sometimes the change you want may not be the change you get and the change you need may not be the change you want.

“We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are.” ~Max De Pree

If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be? Have you thought about all of the actions that would need to take place in order for you to achieve what you really want? Have you already begun preparing yourself mentally, physically, financially or any other way necessary to become who you feel you are destined to be? Let me tell you, its NOT easy! Everyone has a different aspiration for where they want their life to go and, because of that difference, everyone’s journey will be different. The work they have to put in will be different. It’s impossible to measure the outcomes of your desired situation by the actions of others. It is also foolish to think that if you remain the same change will occur anyway. That the equivalent of constantly squeezing apples and waiting for orange juice to appear. If you want change, you have to be prepared to get down in the trenches and square up with your opposition.

If you are like most people, you actually want change. You know change is good but you are also a victim of your own irrational fear that leads you to dread the actual process of it. Fear is a natural feeling but ask yourself this, if things were to always remain the same, how would you learn something new? Do you want to evolve or do you want to become obsolete?

Being afraid of change equates to:

You being stuck waiting for the familiar bus and letting the bus with all of the opportunities just ride past.

Acknowledging change equates to:

Being ready to walk in your own light. It’s okay to enjoy the shine from someone else. It’s beneficial when the shine is your own.

Embracing change equates to:

You no longer jumping on the bandwagon when you know you should be piloting the plane. Too often, people underestimate their own capabilities and seek the easy way out by following the leader. Embrace change! Hop off that wagon and do your own thing.

The goal is to be successful with your change. Don’t aim for major changes in a small amount of time, especially, if you have big goals. That’s a recipe for disaster. Start off subtly and build your way to a new you with new habits. Try dedicating a specific day to a specific task on your to-do list, and focus on that task only. If you can squeeze in another item after that is completed, then go for it. If not, tomorrow’s another day. Just stay committed!

“I’m making some changes in my life. If you don’t hear from me you were one of them.”~unknown

I know that sounds cruel but it’s the truth. Sometimes you have to sever ties with things or people who are not contributing to your progress but are, instead, holding you back. It’s not being selfish. It’s taking control of self. Knowing who and what you need to get rid of in order to make your change become a reality may be, perhaps, one of the most difficult things to decide. You may be put in a position where you feel you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or maybe that person is too nice or that person has never done anything to you that you deem worthy of a chop. That may be so. In contrast, ask yourself, has that person ever been a top or even bottom contributor to your success? Do you here Erykah Badu singing Bag Lady?

Surround yourself with a melting pot of like-minded individuals. Remember, you all don’t have to have the same interests but you should understand the need for encouragement and the desire to encourage for the sake of each other’s success.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Choosing to be Better

A quick check-in as another week is nearing it’s end.

Sundays are notorious for being church, laundry, house cleaning, big meal cooking, sports watching or do nothing all day kind of days because the new week – be it a work week, school week or homemaker week – is about to begin.

Regardless of what you have to look forward to in the upcoming days, are you happy to face them as the same person you were yesterday? You probably met deadlines – barely, interacted with people in a not-so-great mood, started a new diet with a little enthusiasm and a lot of self-doubt, or had a mountain of items on your to-do list and only managed to check off the box for the things you didn’t get done. Maybe  your milestones were at the other end of the spectrum. Maybe you jogged that extra mile, drunk more water, or spent less time on social media and more time with family.

Whatever your flow was this week do it better next week. Think about what you can do to push yourself forward and what you need to do to eliminate those things that keep you stagnant. Make a greater effort to host a positive atmosphere because the energy you give off has a way of finding it’s way back to you. Take small steps each day to be better than you were yesterday. Remember, little things can turn into big things if you focus on it long enough. Just be wise about which little thing you want to grow.

Enjoy!

 

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Through the Looking Glass

Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with the husband of a woman who had recently passed away. This was my first time ever speaking with him but I immediately felt a connection. He wasn’t sad about her passing. In fact, he was happy to share feelings about his wife’s life and death as well as his own. He said talking about it kept the sadness at bay. Listening to him pushed a multitude of emotions through my system. It made me happy, sad, nostalgic, curious and enthusiastic. It also made me appreciate and respect all that life is and can be.

He spoke about his past and, being an older African American man born and raised in southern Alabama in the late 1930’s, his past was full of good, bad, and ugly. He talked about cousins lost to lynchings, brothers tarred and feathered, sisters raped by white men, and friends beat beyond recognition because they looked at a white woman.

He talked about watching his mother struggle to make ends meet when his father had to leave home for long periods of time just to find work, and often coming back empty handed. Altogether, there were 11 of them-his father, mother, 6 brothers, 2 sisters and himself.  The lucky seven. That’s what his mother called them. All 7 of her sons lived through a time when many became strange fruit or alligator bait. He remembered how they all would pitch in to help earn money to put food on the table-cleaning yards, chopping wood, delivering groceries and anything else they could find to do. He remembered a time when the only thing he could call shoes was the 2 pieces of cardboard that he had to tie to his feet-but he still went out and chopped that wood. He said his momma taught him how to cook, too, and that’s why his wife married him.

When he and his wife met they were both getting over previous relationships and had children of their own. He remembered how fond his mother was of his wife. She told him, ‘don’t you hold that gal in a drawn out situation if you dont want to hold her heart through life. She’s better than that last one you had and she deserves better than that last one she had’.  He told me he was almost certain, to the best of his old mind, that those were his mother’s exact words. Then she asked him what he was going to do.

I now pronounce you husband and wife…

As a couple, they had been married for 54 years. They had their ups and downs, which is to be expected in any relationship, but they never gave up. I listened to him reminisce about the different things that they did together. He laughed at how often his southern charm put him in hot water. His wife was a firecracker and she didn’t take no mess. She had been sick for a long time, cancer, and as much as it brought him joy to see her smile, his heartache tripled to watch her suffer.

Towards the end, he had become sick himself and had to be admitted to the hospital. “I got that wheezing problem and have a hard time breathing”, he told me-asthma. His wife was supposed to come visit but his daughter called and said she hadn’t been feeling well and was taken to different hospital. He said when he was discharged, he would go visit his wife and, even laying in the last bed she would rest on, she would vibrantly cuss him out for that old southern Alabama charm and those nurses.

Till Death, Do Us Part…

On her last day, he had an appointment and wouldn’t be able to get to the hospital until later in the day. He said she called him. She sounded tired but he was used to hearing her like that. He said she asked him how much longer before he would get to the hospital because she was trying to wait for him but it was getting too hard. He knew what she meant. He said he told her not to worry because he would be there even if she wasn’t. They exchanged I love you’s and said their goodbye’s. That was the last time they spoke.

I allowed him to speak for well over an hour and in that hour he was able to recount what took more than 54 years to live. Yes, he was going to miss his wife. Their lives together was the equivalent of a single strand of dna. He would miss her but he will always find her in those memories as long as he was able.

Remember those emotions I mentioned earlier? Well, I was happy because I was blessed to be able to get a glimpse of the past through the eyes of a stranger. Nostalgic because he made me think of my childhood and how vastly different it was from his. My sadness was because, like most children, I didn’t recognize or appreciate my parents and the sacrifices they made as much as I could have. My curiosity and enthusiasm made me think about all the things that were to come. I don’t know the order of my steps but I’m looking forward to where they may lead. I appreciate this man for allowing me a glimpse at his life. I now have a more heightened respect for those older than myself. The next time you encounter an elderly person, I hope you are as lucky as I was to have been taken through the looking glass. I know I will never speak with this man again but I thought it would be appropriate to give him recognition.

Thank you, Mr. Gordon!

 

 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Reversing Murphy’s Law or, at least, remaining sane while it wreaks havoc.

For those of you who are not familiar with Murphy’s Law it simply states anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Feels good to have a name for the chaos in your life now, doesn’t it?

Have you ever had one of those days where Murphy’s Law and all of his friends camped out at the foot of your bed and followed you around all day? I’m talking about one of those days where, after you get off of work, pick the kids up from school or whatever your daily ritual is, you find yourself at the grocery store intending to get something for dinner but, instead, you purchase 3 bottles of wine, two tubs of ice cream, some cereal and some milk. The day you had may have been so overwhelming that this form of splurging is all that made sense at that moment.

I do believe that, to a great extent, we can control the positive and negative energies that we interact with which can influence 1) who we are, 2) our actions and 3) our reactions. If you wake up in the morning and the first thing you think to yourself is that you are going to have a feces filled day, that’s exactly what you’re going to have to look forward to. You’re allowing yourself to be consumed by negativity. You move through your day thinking it’ll all be fine once you get home or it’ll all be fine once this day is over but, the truth is, if your mind is trained to seek out all of the negative shades in any situation, you wont be fine. Every day, without fail you will repeat the same thing over and over again. The problem may not be the situation the problem may be you.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
-Anais Nin

Don’t believe it? Think about that friend, family member or coworker that does NOTHING BUT COMPLAIN. Everything that can go wrong with that person does go wrong. When was the last time you heard that person say something genuinely positive that did not have genuinely negative undertones? My guess would be Neveruary 32nd 1800 BC. Have you ever assessed the situation only to be more confused because there was no clear issue to be found? That person just may be negative soul seeker. Don’t be that person!

I’ve learned to live with, laugh at, learn from and love every part of my crazy days-even when I hate them. If you think about it, what good would it do for you to submit your anger to problems that you have no control over? It doesn’t change the fact that the problems exist and it, definitely, doesn’t bring resolve. I don’t know about your problems but mine can be very resilient and borderline hardcore bullies that laugh in the face of my anger. So, if you find yourself constantly in the grips of Murphy’s Law, give him a wedgie. That’s what my son did to a bully on his school bus and it seems to have worked.

On a serious note, these ideas worked for me and maybe they will help you too.

  1. Find focal points that convey positive thoughts. Pictures usually make great focal points.
  2. Know your anger threshold. Breakaway BEFORE you reach a level unreasonable feelings.
  3. Set meaningful but reasonable goals for yourself. These are very positive reinforcements that you actually can control. I’m a control freak so when I have my own goal that no one else has access to as long as I remain focused. I. REMAIN. FOCUSED.
  4. Throw some optimism at ’em. I have won many internal and external conflicts with an ounce of optimism.
  5. If you can’t gain some positive mileage, take a look at your surroundings. It might be time to change your environment and the familiar faces in it.

Listen, life knows how to go all out for the best comedy drama of the year award. The only thing is that the actors don’t usually find it funny. When I’m up for nomination, instead of flipping the bird and rearranging my letters to form various sequences of curse words – okay maybe I do do that (do, do/ do-do 🤔…I hate when my word-formation forms other unintentional words). Anyway, yes, those actions are done by me. Is that better? I try not let those things consume me. I still manage to get past the irony that is a part of life. Yes, I may need to take a step back,  inhale and exhale but then i regroup. It’s doesn’t have to be permanent and I’m not going to let it determine how the rest of my day goes. So the next time you wake up, breathe life into the kind of day you want to have not the kind of day you want not to have. Heck, why wait? You can do it now!

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Domestic Violence

I never cease to be amazed at the foolishness that travels the lines of media across the world. By now you may have heard about the Moroccan TV show that aired a tutorial to teach women who have been victimized at the hands of their domestic abusers how to apply makeup to cover their bruises. After numerous head shakes, I have finally been able to form words that can animate some of my thoughts.

I am appalled that a mainstream Moroccan network channel would deem it appropriate to make domestic violence beautiful. Then I remember, it’s Morocco. A place where, just yesterday (actually 2004 but it seems like yesterday since woman have existed for what, forever maybe), the Moudawana, or family code, was amended to increase some of the rights of women but made no attempt to address or label domestic violence or marital rape as a crime. All hope, however, is not lost for the women of Morocco. They have been extended options:

  • Report the abuse but receive no protection from the offender until after the investigation of allegations are completed. Leaving the victim vulnerable to the unthinkable.

“I do not see how intimate acts between men and women that cannot be defined or proven can be penalized.” -Justice Minister Mustapha Ramid

  • Leave their abuser but, please, do not look forward to any financial assistance or shelter and be prepared to live a stigmatized life.

No, all hope is not lost because there was never any hope to begin with. How sad it must be to think that it is easier to apply makeup to a battered face than it is to seek justice. How equally horrifying it is to view domestic violence as a way of life as many women do. This Newsweek article further highlights the horrors faced by Moroccan woman.

Life for women in Morocco is far from unique and, before anyone decides to pull the cultural or religious card, let me fly the pigeon with the not so new message. Domestic violence is a widespread contagion from sea to sea, from Australia  to Zimbabwe . It does not submit only to a cultural sect. It does not care who you pray to or how you dress. It has no eyes and, therefore, does not see race, color, age, sexuality or gender as a reason to divert its offense.

Domestic violence is a relentless threat to the sanity and existence of society. There is so much more to it than the visible marks it leaves. It causes, depression, anxiety, PTSD, low self esteem, hatred of self and suicidal and homicidal ideation. The psychological effects are, also, not just present in the victim. It trickles down to the children, family and friends who witness or are aware of the situation.

Domestic violence spins a large web of fear and hate and it is, in my opinion, an insult to women worldwide to suggest ways to simply cover it up. Next time, try suggesting tougher laws to protect the victims and their families. Next time, make suggestions on ways to improve family life to prevent domestic violence. Next time, donate time, money, clothing, etc to domestic violence shelters. Next time be a part of the solution. The problem doesn’t need beautification.

Here are some links to true domestic violence experiences from around the world.

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (dvrcv)

Good gone bad

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

A Cup of Coffee

It’s amazing how normal everyday things can be a source of inspiration when you have the desire to write. Something as simple as a cup of coffee can help you tell a story.

Imagine sitting across from someone whom you haven’t seen in years. Imagine, placed between the two of you, a table on which sat two mugs of freshly brewed coffee. Imagine your surroundings. Are you at home or at a local coffee shop? Imagine the weather. Is the sun dominating the sky or are the clouds flexing their muscles? Imagine the face of a person who you’ve missed who now sits at this table with you and those two cups of coffee.

Here’s what I would want my person to know.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about the road that I’ve travelled. The experiences I’ve had and the lessons I’ve learned.

If we were having coffee, I would share stories about my children. You would be as proud of them as I am.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I still have not found anyone who could make cornbread and lemonade quite the way you do and, no matter how many times you gave me the recipe, I knew it just wouldn’t be the same.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how much I missed summers at your house when I was a little girl.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how I still laugh at the memories of you hopping from one foot to the next doing the ‘Ooga Booga’ dance just to get Vicky to eat.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you whatever happened to that blue blanket that Richie refused to leave home without. The one that you could only wash when he was asleep. Then I would tell you that you were a genius in successfully getting rid of it altogether.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how spoiled Freddy was but then you already knew because you were the one who did it. You spoiled me too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you to drink yours very slow so I could cherish every moment until it was time for us both to go. ❤

What would you say to your person?

 

Family Ties

It’s true. Our family are the first friends we have in life. They are the ones who witness just about all of our firsts. They are the ones who pick us up when we fall-after they laugh, of course. They are the ones who wear our clothes without permission or steal the last ice cream from the freezer even if they know you haven’t had any, only to share with you later-sometimes and wipe are tears when we cry.

Family, whether it’s your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings or cousins, are the first ones to teach you how to love, how to hate, how to dream. The bond you have with your family should be one that trumps all others. It should be a bond rooted in strength and forgiveness, kindness and trust. Family is home and home should be your sanctuary.

Times have changed so much. Nowadays, the family circle is broken and, in some cases, irreparably so. As we get older, we change. Our interests change. Our thoughts are overloaded with the sights, sounds, touches and tastes of our environment. We meet new people and adopt some of their qualities. We go through the many sequences of trying to shape-shift into who we are meant to be in our next stage of life and, sometimes we step away from our sanctuary.

Stepping away, in my opinion, is not the same as branching out. When you branch out, you remain rooted to your core. You still flourish from the nutritional strength that gave you life and maintained you and you can now expand it and make it stronger. This in no way declares eternal dependency. It, instead, develops independent success. When you step away, you detach yourself from that which you came. You can no longer gain sustenance and you can not add to it.

There may be many reasons why we step away from the roots of our beginning. Sometimes, the cause is so extensive that the only choice we have is to sever the ties. Sometimes, however, the cause is just a wrinkle that no one wants to straighten out. Sometimes our own mind magnifies a situation to imaginary proportions; other times, it’s our pride.

No one ever wants to be the first to say they’re sorry because, let’s face it, who likes to admit they’re wrong? In some cases, you may not even be the one who’s at fault. Those are the times we need to rise above the glass encased emotions that we harvest and recognize what’s really important. If you can remember a time when your family was crazy but cool, you should also remember some key factors in keeping them cool (the crazy will always represent itself):

  • Communication is one of the essential elements that keeps a family strong. Take time to talk to each other. Celebrate successes. Talk about future plans. Send a quick text to say hello. Keep it personal. Social media love isn’t always sufficient.
  • Be positive. The sun doesn’t always shine. Sometimes you have to bring your own light to illuminate someone else’s darkness. They’ll thank you for it and you’ll recognize their appreciation if you’re not, solely, looking for it.
  • Family night. A lot can happen in a week. Plan a day-maybe once a month-where everyone can get together to catch up. Have fun with each other, play games, reminisce. Make memories.
  • Be there for one another. Even the strongest shoulder needs someone to lean on. Let your family know that you are there for them. Even when you think they should know, say it anyway. Reinforcing how much you love and care for someone can move mountains.

There are so many ways you can maintain the bond with your family. It may take lots of creativity and patience but it’s well worth the effort. Just like you’ve changed, so have they. You all have so many NEW things to learn about each other. Take advantage of it.

No meat, please.

Hi all! So, on Thanksgiving day, I spent a few hours in the emergency room where I presented for chest and neck pain. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing serious. My dilemma is, since that day, I have not wanted to eat a single bite of beef, chicken, or turkey. I will eat seafood with no hesitation but the thought of eating anything else makes my mouth water in a not so flattering way.

In case you’re wondering if it was something I ate on that day, the answer is no. I, actually, had not eaten anything that day except a chocolate almond milk, peanut butter and banana smoothie (delicious). The night before, however, we did go to Wendy’s. Normally, I get the grilled chicken asiago sandwich but that night I opted for the crispy chicken. I don’t know if that was the cause but I will never eat it again. I am emotionally scarred.

Since I have no way of knowing if this will be a permanent way of life for me, I am seeking ideas. If anyone has any tried and true recipes that I can take a shot at, please feel free to share. For the record, I have tried and love the spicy black bean burgers and chik’n patties and nuggets for quick fixes but that doesn’t compare to actual meals. I made a vegetable lasagna that the kids loved but trying to get my husband to eat anything with spinach is like trying to get the 41st president to eat broccoli…won’t happen, cap’n. The face he made looked like one a baby would make when fed pureed peas after giving him a taste of pureed banana.

So, yeah, any recommendations that will trick the picky palates in my home would be greatly appreciated.

 

The Top 25 Things I Don’t Understand.

 

  1. Morning people. You know who you are. You guys wake up like the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil and immediately start hurling your good mornings and chipper smiles all over the place. I secretly hate you!
  2. People who watch tv shows that you dislike but insist on having a full-blown, one-sided conversation with you in an attempt to convert you.
  3. People who invite you to their home to sit around and do nothing. I can save gas and do nothing at my home by myself.
  4. People who call and have nothing to talk about so now we’re just going to spend 15 minutes listening to each other breathe.
  5. People who are trying to say bruh but say brrrr. I’m confused. Are you cold? Just stop saying both words, please!
  6. People who say skreet. I hate you for making me check the dictionary to see if that was actually a word!
  7. People who put a T in shrimp. For the millionth time, THERE IS NO T IN S-H-R-I-M-P!
  8. Close talkers. They sure know how to back you up into a corner, don’t they?
  9. Cable TV. You pay all of that money for all of those channels and they show the same movies back-to-back, over and over again.
  10. Group messaging. Please just tell me what’s going on after you all decide.
  11. Passwords. I can’t be the only one who is tired of changing my password because I can’t remember the password because in order to save the password it has to be one that no one can guess, including myself!
  12. Automatically. ..No, autocratic…Nooo, autoclave…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! AUTO CORRECT DAMNIT!! Now I’m mad!
  13. People who post selfishness…grrrr…SELFIES every hour. Enough already. We know what you look like. Absolutely, nothing has changed about you. Oh you have on a hat? GREAT! It looks stupid. Please stop!
  14. Body odor. If I can smell you, why can you not smell yourself? If I say do you smell onions and you say yes, is it not obvious that you are the onion?
  15. People who drive too close. Riding my tail is not going to get you to your destination any sooner. On another note, you’re probably a close talker too.
  16. People who take forever to order at a fast food restaurant. The menu hasn’t changed people!!
  17. Ridiculous ‘hair helmets’. I love for my hair to look good just like most people but this horrendous wig epidemic is going to far. If you’re going to wear one at least put it on right. If your head isn’t pointy at the top, then your wig shouldn’t be either. And please, PLEASE pin it down so it can stop sliding!
  18. People who wear too much makeup but then say they’re afraid of clowns.
  19. Hypocrites who verbalize everything they are against but secretly do.
  20. People who prefer to eat your food over theirs. I am one of these people. I just don’t understand why yours tastes better than mine. Yes, I know it’s the same thing.
  21. The spoon, fork, and matching socks conspiracy. Where do they go?
  22. The sudden burst of energy at 11 o’clock at night that lasts for 4 hours and then challenges you to wake up on time for work.
  23. People who dress for the body they want and not the body they have. Do you really think it looks good or are you hoping no one notices?
  24. People who buy Christmas trees the day before Christmas. WTF? Why?
  25. People who buy Christmas trees       ON Christmas. My WTF needs a         WTF! When, exactly, do you take the tree down?

 

HPV vaccine for infants?

Today, I want to piggyback, slightly, off of my last post on STI’s.

A brief look at HPV.

The Human Papillon Virus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted infection that is spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex in both males and females. More than 40 classifications of this virus exist and, at some point during the sexually active phase of their lives, nearly all males and females will contract it. To make it even more perplexed, of those who contract the virus, symptoms may take years to surface  eliminating the possibility of pinpointing the source of infection.

For most people the virus will clear itself up without leaving a trail of health complications. For others, especially those with a weakened immune system, the virus lingers and can be the cause of genital warts and cervical, vaginal, penis and anus cancer. It can also be linked to cancer of the throat, tongue and tonsils.

The HPV vaccination is recommended as a safe and effective way to protect against the virus.  I, however, am on the fence with how I feel about who gets it.  I,totally, get the concept of wanting to safe guard against this disease. I love that notion! For me, the problem is not the act of getting this vaccine or any others. Immunizations are the reason I used to call my pediatrician Dr. Stickum. They are also the reason that I have never contracted that of which I am vaccinated against.

My concern.

I understand that there is always some risk association for drug related side effects.  Heck, I have asthma and one of the side effects of my inhaler is asthma. Yes, I said asthma is a side effect associated with using the asthma inhaler! Talk about a modern day revival of what came first the chicken or the egg.

Getting back to my concern…

The HPV vaccine is now being considered for children…Babies…Wee little ones or little big people, whatever your term of humorous description is for them. I have a hard time accepting this.  Their little developing bodies and organs  can’t possibly be ready.  Why do they even need this type of injection?  In older children, aged 11-12, the recommendation was for 3 doses for the vaccine. The CDC has recently scaled it down to 2 doses for that age group but those aged 15-26 years of age will remain at 3.   I have read that the injection is effective for a ‘very long time’ but what does the really mean?  I haven’t read anything about a booster shot for this. Am I supposed to equate a very long time to mean,’You are safe now but all bets are off when you turn 50′.  If it means 8-10 years, as some readings have predicted, then all bets are off even sooner.

It is just my opinion but I don’t think the HPV vaccine for infants is appropriate.  I don’t understand why a child so young would need this type of inoculation.  Maybe someone out there with a better understanding  would be able to drop that knowledge on me.

 

 

Is it an act or a fact?

If your act of kindness is only for the camera or for the praise, it’s not kindness at all.  It’s just an act.    ~Liz McKenzie

How many of you know someone who is always there to lend a helping hand BUT they have to prepare their acceptance speech first?  How many of you are that person?

The acts of kindness and appreciation are, slowly, becoming extinct.  Many people, I find, get so wrapped up in their expectations of the reactions of others based on a, seemingly, good deed that they forget to appreciate the fact that they were in a position to help in the first place.  It’s easy to hone in on what others don’t do but what about you?  What about all the things you can do but don’t do?  What about all of the things you take for granted on a daily basis?  Do you genuinely appreciate what others do for you or do you simply feel privileged, like it’s your birth right?

Let me be the first to confess that, as the baby girl to four brothers and one sister, I thought it was my birth right to expect without much appreciation.  Then the growing pains of reality hit…HARD.  Luckily, for me, I was able to recognize it for what it was (not instantly, but after some bumps and bruises, I was good).  I wasn’t so trapped in a wonderland that I needed to pout or throw a tantrum just to have my way.  I learned that wants were not necessities and was able to outgrow my selfishness and embrace the perspective of, not only putting other people first, but also being genuine in my thoughts and actions. Let me interject; putting others first DOES NOT mean ignoring your own needs.  It DOES mean prioritizing your wants when someone else is need.

I’m sure you have all, at some point, been told not to expect people to behave or react the way you would.  If you haven’t, reread that last sentence and consider yourself told. If your actions are based on how you think someone should react you are setting yourself up for huge disappointment.  Learn to give without receiving.  Learn to understand that the kindness of giving is not just monetary.  Giving is time.  Giving is lending an ear or giving advice.  It’s sharing words of encouragement or a joke to clear the air. It’s all of these things sans the need to gloat.  Additionally, in your time of need, try being the person you want others to be. Put your privileged thoughts aside. Lead by example.

Don’t try to find you in someone else.  Everyone is different.  We all live, laugh, and love differently.  We talk differently, find happiness differently and we have our own ways of showing our appreciation.   Remember, if your kindness isn’t genuine, the appreciation will most likely be reciprocal.

Reflection

As Sunday nears to an end, I prepare for the week ahead.  Dinner made (vegetable lasagna and garlic bread).  Check. Laundry done (done as in washed no guarantee on the fold).  Check.  Kids ready for school.  They are today but, as routine goes, they won’t be able to find anything tomorrow.  Ditto for my husband.

So now that things have somewhat settled down, the kids are in their rooms and my husband is in his favorite recliner watching football, I can attempt to have my moment.  However, I have to remember not to make my me time seem too enjoyable because it will emit a signal setting off everyone’s ‘she’s relaxing we MUST intervene’ radar.

My me time is nothing extravagant.  It’s definitely not anything to put me up for consideration on the Real Housewives of anything.  I may have a glass (or bottle, everyone measures things differently) of my favorite wine and sit back with my current book of choice.  I’m not much of a tv buff but I may channel surf or watch a movie.

The most important thing that I do to prepare fo the upcoming week is reflect. I do this without fail.  I think about all of the situations that presented themselves to me in the past week and how I responded to them. I think about the things I could have done differently for a better outcome.  I think about all of the good and bad news that circulated on TV and Web posts.  I think about where I am today and compare my destination to those of a million yesterdays. I can smile because I’m definitely not in the same space.  I think about mistakes I’ve made and am thankful that I made them. Mistakes pave well defined roads.

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image source

Reflection mentally charges me.  It helps me remember who I was yesterday and how I evolved into who I am today. Reflection recharges my compassion and builds my spirit.  It helps me let go of things that I no longer need to carry. Things that can weigh me down and interfere with my growth.

Take some time and reflect on your life. What you’ve been through, your best and worst experiences, who’s there for you now and who you have lost along the way.  Putting these things in perspective has a way of making you appreciate the days ahead.

Here’s to a fabulous week!! 🍷

From a Mother to her Children

Sometimes there are things I want to say but don’t.  Sometimes there are things I do say that just doesn’t come out right. Sometimes I am wrong- I’m human.

Just know that the love I have for you is forever constant.  There is nothing that I wouldn’t do to keep you happy and keep you safe.

Your existence gives me the strength of a million men but also softens me more than what I imagine a sky full of white, fluffy clouds would feel like.

Without me, you wouldn’t exist but without you I would never have experienced the true beauty of life.  You are students who teach the teacher.

The spirit that feeds the soul.  My sun, my moon, my stars, my earth.  I loved you yesterday.  I love you today. I will love you always.

Law and Disorder

Pregnancy has a way of uncovering many emotions.  Shock, joy, fear, and excitement spread through expectant mothers and fathers as well as family and friends.  The ability to procreate and carry another living being within your body is an amazingly beautiful thing that is not awarded to everyone.  While baby is developing, mom and dad get to fantasize about what traits their baby will have and who this precious gift will look like.  They get to marvel at all the kicks, twists, turns, and stretches that can be felt and sometimes seen.  They form a bond with their baby before they even meet.  It is a beautiful thing.

But, what happens when that baby is conceived as a result of a heinous crime? What if love wasn’t a deciding factor but violence, force, or unknown consumption of drugs was?  What feelings are present then?  Thousands of women experience this crisis called rape every single year and each one of them are placed in a position where they can choose the life or death of the entity now taking up residence within their body.  It seems that regardless of the decision to present new life to a world that has seen many dreary days or to terminate that of which has been fertilized with the seed of assault, the decision made will be one not without conflict.

If she chooses to speak up about the rape she is met with skepticism .  Victims of rape are often deemed responsible for the actions of another.  A sick part of society believes that the woman is at fault for her own sexual attack.  Society immediately becomes concerned with the clothing she wore or the behavior she exhibited.  The actions of the felon, in this sick society, are taken into account tertiary to the search for the actions of the victim that warranted a non-consensual violation of her body.

If she chooses abortion, she is condemned by society.  She gets thrown into the pit of sin.  She is verbally spat on by religious law  up holders because ‘thou shalt not kill’.  Thou also shalt not steal,  lie, cheat, judge etc.  All those not guilty please stand.  Everyone else, please take several seats to the left. Your sin does not bear less conviction than anyone else’s.

What bothers me the most is if she chooses life, she is condemned by the law.  Imagine the torment…the continous torment that a rape victim must go through because the law states that she must co-parent with her attacker.  Furthermore, her convicted attacker can be allowed UNsupervised visits with the child.  The reasoning behind that, no harm was directly caused to the child.  In other words, the woman should just get over it and let’s wait and see what happens with the kid. Someone in legislation needs to work on their preventative tactics.

Take a look at this CNN video interview with one victim.

Or read about a similar story here. Inside Edition

If you or anyone you know are in need of assistance RAINN (Rape, Abuse and, Incest National Network) can help.

Crisis textline provides resources for a many crisis counselors for various issues.

Although this article was written in 2013, it provides some head shaking information worth sharing.

The Countdown Begins

Well guys, it’s that time of the year again!  With the start of New Years Resolution season vastly approaching, I thought it would be fitting to highlight some resolution inclusions that are definitely worth considering for the new year, new me crowd.

Getting healthy and staying healthy is not just about what you eat and how much exercise you put in.  Healthier living consists of unadulterated unabridged internal and external TLC. It’s a clear-cut e=mc² formula: your mental needs to connect to your spiritual needs to connect to your physical.

Opting for a healthier lifestyle is not an easy choice.  It, certainly, is easier said than done to wake up and say goodbye to the many staples that have been there for you through thick and thicker and comforted you through sick and sicker for years.  Rest assured, I am in no position to preach condemnation to the choir about that of which I am guilty but I will offer some good tips that have been shared with me.  In my honest opinion, I think that if chocolate had been around when Eve walked in that garden…..Apple what?  There probably wouldn’t even be an apple iPhone today!!

But seriously, choosing to dump those unhealthy habits is an awesome idea! Just be sure to grab the bull by the horns with some essential operations.

  • Annual health maintenance. Your doctor has spent years learning the human body and its functions so let him/her giver yours a once over. No one is immune to the laws of nature.  We all age differently but don’t let that fool you.  Just because the porcelain may still look A-1 doesn’t mean the pipes are without rust.   There are numerous common yet preventable illnesses that can be contained and even reversed by maintaining a close working relationship with your healthcare provider.  Keeping tabs on your cancer screenings, and monitoring such things as your blood sugar, cholesterol and thyroid levels are an essential part to longterm health.
  • Curbing your unhealthy habits and boost healthy alternatives.  Everyone is familiar with the eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water spiel so I won’t harp too much on it but, seriously, it needs to be done.  If you don’t incorporate better eating habits into your notion of being healthy, your attempts will be futile.  Unless you have the metabolism of the Acme road runner, your pantry needs to be nutritionally ready for this voyage.
  • Park and walk.  Most drivers, myself included, park directly in front of their destination whether at home, work or a shopping center (if you’re lucky).  Take advantage of parking a few houses or maybe even a block away from your home. find a spot at the opposite end of the mall and opt for the stairs instead of the elevator.  Making these simple changes adds a few more steps to your day and contributes to more calories burned, with the proper diet.
  • Get moving but MAKE IT FUN. This may be one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself motivated.  Switch up your routine.  Everything doesn’t have to be so cut and dry. Trade the gym for a scenic walk or run on a trail.  Participate in walkathons or run a marathon. Try ice or roller skating. Go dancing. Whatever you decide to do just get moving.
  • Decrease stress.  Choose your battles wisely.  Not every stress party requires your attendance. Weigh your options and ask yourself: Can anything be done to change this outcome?  Is it worth the emotional strain?  If I worry enough to get my blood pressure to critical levels will this problem, that I have no control over, have mercy on me?  Chances are the answer is no.  Learn to let it go.  In unavoidable situations, finds ways to redirect that negative energy. Go to the gym, walk it off or just meditate yourself back into a healthy state of mind.
  • Have a good team.  Form relationships with like-minded individuals.  Build a social network that will walk with you on this journey and encourage you when you’re at your worst.

Lastly, take it slow.  Don’t overwhelm yourself with the process of achievement.  Set goals and focus on one or two at a time. Start off small and gradually incorporate more as you go along. You don’t want to run the risk of being burned out by January 2nd!

Fool’s Gold

Have you ever been caught up in chasing fool’s gold?  Jill Scott, poetically, described chasing a dream that didn’t exist in her soulful song with the same title.

While driving around running errands one day, this song came on the radio.  Now I have heard it hundreds of times but on that day I really listened to the words. I turned the volume down so the lyrics could resonate better with my thoughts. If I could have removed all of the instrumentals, it would have been done. Those words truly carried on their own.  Ms. Jilly from Philly summed up in three minutes what certainly took me years of hurt and mistakes to rationalize.

“I was living a dream believing things that just ain’t true…”

~Jill Scott

If only the human mind and heart were susceptible to learning from the mistakes of others. Hell, if only we learned from our own mistakes!  How often do we repeat situations because we are looking for the outcome that we want?  What is that old saying?  Oh yeah, if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

Fool’s gold talks about giving up your most prized possessions – be it your time, your patience, your love, your money – to other people, situations or circumstances that just don’t deserve it.  Of course, there’s the love/lust driven fool’s gold but what about work?  What about friendships?  How many times have you found yourself in the same situation with the same friends vowing never again only to repeat it All.  Over.  AGAIN?  How many of you are now , or have been, at a place of employment mentally using up all your sick days and trying to figure out how to go on long-term disability for the paper cut you got at the printer after being passed up for that promotion… for the second time?  Women stay in relationships that are blatantly unhealthy with a man who may be right somebody but is just not right for her.

Did it ever occur to you that maybe, although they are cool, those “friends”aren’t meant to compliment your style.  Maybe that job wasn’t meant to support your growth.  Maybe that man is not equipped to embrace the strength of you.  Stop chasing the fool’s gold of familiarity.  Stop being comfortable.  You can’t buy happiness with fool’s gold.  Your dreams are in the unknown.

Oh, and ladies, men chase fool’s gold too.  You know that I know that YOU KNOW that we’re not always sugar and spice and everything nice.  Men have feelings too.

In a nutshell

First, the meat and potatoes…

A conversation with my husband led me to this moment in time. For awhile-years actually- I had been feeling out of touch with myself. I was actually at a point where I was my own personal stranger.  The face in the mirror was familiar but I constantly questioned the operator behind the eyes.  It seemed as if there was no way to get into the Emerald City of my mind (I am an avid Wizard of Oz/The Wiz watcher, by the way) to have a good old fashioned meet and greet with that wonderful wizard.

On top of that, I was always enveloped in some form of anger. Usually it was a stagnant type of anger, just there keeping me company. A shadow whispering in my ear about any and everything of the dont-make-sense variety. Whispering just enough to keep me quietly agitated 24 hours/7 days a week.  There were, however, occasions when my anger was eruptive. I’m talking volcano ash and lava.

A simple question…Grrrr… Deciding what’s for dinner…Grrrr… Talkative cashier…Grrrr…Talkative anyone for that matter….Grrrr, Grrrr and more GRRRRR!!!! It wasn’t pretty and it also wasn’t necessary.

With all the emotional whirlwind going on, my husband suggested that I place more emphasis on things I liked to do outside of being employed full-time, and being a mother and a wife. I believe his exact words may have been, “Get a hobby or prepare yourself for a lifelong supply of 500mg of Chillaxaquil 3 times a day”!  After giving it much thought, I realized that I didn’t have anything to put emphasis on. Absolutely no favorites!  There was not one solid thing that I could come up with that I genuinely liked to do.  WTH? This was insane because I could remember a time when my mind flowed with creativity! From writing poetry and wanting to write a book, to arts and crafts and thoughts of creating my own bath, body and massage product line. Once upon a time, this girl had big dreams! Now I was stranded on a deserted strip of road in the middle of nowhere with 3 flat tires.  Suddenly, 500mg of Chillaxaquil didn’t sound so bad.

So, with all the sugar plums that danced through my head, why was it now so hard to find that one thing?  The niche so to speak?  What happened to my drive?  Where did my ambition go?  I could sit here for days on end and place blame on other people for the situations I have faced and the unfortunate series of events I have attended that may have darkened my dreams.  I could but I won’t.  The fact is my experiences, or lack thereof, are just as much my fault and, in some cases, much more than anyone elses. I am the originator of my successes. I am the only one who can label a failure as a lesson learned or allow a lesson to label me as a failure.

The more I reviewed my past the more I realized that, through the years, I managed to lock myself in a mental box that limited me from experiencing new things.  I, essentially, stunted my growth. It is cringe worthy to admit but necessary to be said that I stunted my growth because I didn’t want to overwhelm someone else with my potential greatness. I allowed someone’s intimidation of me evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly to trap me inside a cocoon that became poisoned from my own carbon dioxide.  I have come to realize that when you are surrounded by toxicity, every aspect of your being is chipped away.  I spent years trying to get someone to see the good in me instead of me trying to nurture the great in me and, as a result, I have lived with the dissatisfaction of me and it is time to move on.

First blog complete!!! Yaaay!!!!

 

 

Not A Lie But Not The Truth

Hi Liz,

I need your opinion. I have been talking to a guy for about 2 months. We live in 2 different states and started talking through a facebook group. I really like this dude and we have plans to meet up soon. I’m a little nervous to see him because I said something that wasn’t exactly true. I mean I didn’t lie but I didn’t tell the truth either

I told him that I was still a virgin. I said it because I didn’t want him to think I was loose. Now I feel kind of bad because I really believe he is being honest with me. Do you think I should tell him the truth?

My response:

I am confused. You said you didn’t lie but you didn’t tell the truth either. If you’ve had sex previously, you’re not a virgin. Virginity doesn’t come back so once it’s gone it gone.

If you’ve only had oral sex then, technically speaking, you can still consider yourself a virgin. Some people only classify vaginal penetration as the determining factor of loss of virginity. The fact still remains that you have had some form of a sexual experience of which I don’t think is grounds for lying.

If you are really interested in this guy, I don’t think it’s logical to start a relationship based on a lie. It will eventually come out. If you decide to be honest, I would probably just try to soften the blow by saying you didn’t want him to think differently of you. Then again, a lie is a lie. Ultimately it’s up to him to decide if he wants to continue to see you.

If you have a situation you would like my opinion on, please submit it to lizonlifeandlove@gmail.com with Ask Liz in the subject.

 

 

 

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We Can’t Be Friends…Or Can We?

Among the top age-old debates is the controversial question, can men and women be friends?

As a woman with male cohorts, I can confidently say that, yes, a platonic relationship can exist between the sexes. We can stand to gain valuable insight from the benevolence of having friendships with the opposite sex.

Having male friends, for me, stimulates my curious side. Through them I get to see a whole new look on life from the male perspective.  In some ways male companionship is an escape from all of the drama filled air some female friends can bring.

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It’s no secret that women can be highly emotional and irrational. I know this because I’m a woman and sometimes I just need a break. Therefore, having meaningful conversations with someone who does not emotion like me serves a therapeutic purpose. It’s almost like taking a break from myself.

There is the caveat of maturity, respect, and understanding that men and women should be mindful of, especially if you are already in a relationship with someone else.

Male and female friendships can be complicated by a superbug called feelings. It’s easy for one or the other or even both individuals to become smitten with the each other.

That’s why it’s important for you to have boundaries, guidelines, and expectations for the people you decide are worthy and necessary components to your life.

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My husband and I had this conversation about friendships and where we both stood on them.

Of course, we entered into our relationship with our own set of established comrades so having friends wasn’t much of an issue.

For both of us, especially after having been in previously unsuccessful and misunderstood relationships, we were ok with friends but understood they needed to be bound to a mutual agreement.

We both agreed that it was healthy to maintain contact with our friends and we both were cool with the phone calls, text messages, and social media interaction AS LONG AS IT REMAINED RESPECTABLE.

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When it comes to getting together for some face-to-face catching up, we are a package deal. Take it or leave it.

He and I both had to let go of friends of the opposite sex because they failed to pass the criteria that we agreed upon to maintain the comfort levels and functionality of our relationship.

His former friend wanted to talk and text but admitted discomfort in doing so when I was present. My former friend didn’t respect the boundaries of our relationship at all and insisted on striking up inappropriate conversations.

They both had to go.

It is the responsibility of you and your significant other to establish the foundation that your relationship is built on and to demand all outsiders respect it.

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If your friends of the opposite sex can go with the flow of the life you are trying to build as a couple. They are definite keepers.

Determining where your friends stand in your relationship isn’t the only obstacle you need to get a feel for. Your own personal feelings play a major role in whether or not you should part ways with that long time buddy.

Here are five questions that you can ask yourself to help  determine if your friendship is hazardous to your relationship.

  1. Have you ever fantasized about your friend?
  2.  Do you make comparisons between your friend and your significant other?
  3.  Is there a physical attraction for your friend?
  4.  Do you or your friend change the way you behave with each other when your significant other is around?
  5.  Would you be comfortable if your significant other was in a friendship with someone of the opposite sex that mirrored your behaviors and feelings?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you need to take a step back and give yourself a reality check.

Your friendship is toxic to the sustainability of your relationship but before that, if you feel that type of behavior is okay, then you yourself may be toxic to the relationship.

If your relationship is your priority, friendships with those characteristics have no place in your life and it’s time to say goodbye.

Share your story. Have you been faced with the decision of having to choose between a friend and a mate?

 

Minnie’s Story

It has been a long time. For some, it may seem like it was yesterday, last week, last month or last year. Others, however, wake up and relive it day after day after day as another anniversary quickly approaches.

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Image courtesy of pixabay

There are three types of people who know what I’m talking about. Those who were onlookers, those who were responders and those who became victims.

September 11, 2001. The day NYC, briefly, stood still in disbelief and then erupted in fear and tragedy. The day the Twin Towers were brought down and, for a moment, the day we were all the same.

There was no black or white, male or female, rich or poor. There was only people in need of help and people who did. There were faces full of dust and tears and the shoulders and arms they rested in.

I was an onlooker. From the safety of the television, I saw terror unfold and the fear I had was almost debilitating. Yet, it would never compare to the experience of the responders and victims who had lived through it or perished because of it.

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Image courtesy of pixabay

Minnie’s Story.

We share the same blood line. We’ve shared family meals and moments and have supported each other in many ways.

Our commonalities end at the beginning of the terror we experienced that day. Like most people, I couldn’t imagine being in that situation. Minnie didn’t have to imagine. She was there.

Today, I’ve decided to share her answers to my questions about her experience on that day.

Originally, I considered shortening her responses for the sake of this post being too lengthy but decided that if I can’t erase her experience, why would I trim her account of it.

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On 9/11, you were fortunate enough to wake up and get ready for work. Unfortunately, you would be heading towards the world trade center that would be attacked no more than one hour after your shift begun. What do you remember about that day?

Minnie:

Yes I was. I can remember how beautiful the day was and how blue the skies were. My physical and mental being was very good and in a very happy place. I always felt some kind of way about working so far downtown; however this day of 9/11, I felt wonderful not thinking about the train ride or how far I had to go in order to get to work.

I lived in the Bronx on Gates Place, where my travel to work was not complicated by having to change trains.  I would take the #4 train all the way to my stop which was Bowling Green. I always got a seat, too.

On the day of 9/11, the beginning of my day was peaceful and I was really looking forward to getting into work with a little time to spare in order to pick up a bite to eat and coffee and to support the early morning street vendors that were out.

I can remember being on the train one stop before bowling green and all of a sudden hearing some type of noise or thump and then feeling the train move a little from side-to-side.

All of the passengers were a little confused as we all just looked at each other, as the train closed its doors and move on to my stop at Bowling Green.

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I remember there being more crowding than usual and, when I finally got outside, people were gathered in groups looking up. Some were still walking but really fast and there was debris falling down.

As I walked I noticed more people were looking up and pointing and when I looked up I saw a plane in the first tower of the world trade center. That’s when sadness kicked in.

In my mind, I thought it was a terrible accident, but then as soon as that thought surfaced, another plane zoomed into the second tower and I knew that was no accident. That’s when fear took over. Panic broke out and my heart began to beat faster than I thought possible.

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Image courtesy of pixabay

Did you work in one of the towers or were you working in the surrounding area?  

Minnie:

I worked in the surrounding area. I ran to my job which was just adjacent to the world trade center.

I remember people screaming, running and yelling. When I got to my job, I was already in tears and everyone else was screaming, crying, making phone calls and running around trying to figure out what was going on.

I called my daughter and told her we were being attacked-she was home that day and was asleep. I told her to turn the TV on and watch the news.

Then the phones and everything else all shut down and there was no more contact-seemingly with the outside world.

A very short time afterwards, we received word that there was an attack taking place and the pentagon was also attacked by another plane.

We were told to form groups that we could leave with. I was in a group with five of my co-workers. As we left, we made a pact to stay together, however, that did not happen once we got outside.

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Image courtesy of pixabay

We heard something like an explosion that set fire to our fear and we got separated. I found myself alone trying to find my way out of all the chaos but couldn’t.

I had a blue pin-stripped skirt suit and heals, which I removed so I could run and, even then, it seemed no matter where I ran, I got nowhere.

The crowds were overwhelming and my feet were pounding with pain and began to swell and then later bleed.

The debris and dust were so thick and dark/foggy, making it very hard to see and even breathe.

I can remember trying to run across a street and got struck by a yellow cab. I kept running but it still seemed like I was going in circles. All of those short and narrow streets seemed more like a death trap.

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I kept running and thinking about my daughter, my life was flashing before me and I kept thinking how was she going to feel loosing her mother. What would she do, and does my family even know that I’m in this mess?

I cried out very loud, I  was weak and I began to pray asking God to forgive me for my sins and save my life because people were dying. Seeing people jumping from the building and knowing others were burning to death was too much for me.

There was one point where I had no more energy to even carry my purse so I threw it away.

The screams were so severe and seeing people with blood and dust all over them was extremely frightening. It felt like a horror movie but it was a reality!

I ran until I couldn’t anymore. I needed to rest, but felt if I did, I would die. My energy was gone. I could not run anymore, so I continued to pray really hard while sitting/squatting down by a van or some sort of vehicle.

I prayed and prayed. I literally heard the voice of God. He said I was saved and then literally out of nowhere, a co-worker called out my name! I will just call her (G) She was just standing there!

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It was like God just placed me in her sight and She said “Minnie”-and she reached out her hand and I looked up and took her hand and she pulled me up and we hugged and she then looked at me and she said “You Know We Are Going To Be Friends For Life, Right”?

At that time I was also still feeling pain from being struck by the yellow cab along with everything else, but when she pulled me up I didn’t care about the pain anymore.

We both started to run. I, distinctly, remember that she didn’t show any tears, she was just focused on getting out! I was happy to see her but still afraid of getting trapped.  The pain in my feet was excruciating. I had to block it out and think about living.

The buildings of both towers were continuously burning as people were diving out of the windows and the bodies hitting the ground was  devastating.

I could not stop crying and screaming, still thinking about my daughter and wondering if she was ok. There was no further contact via phone. The subways were shut down and nothing, vehicle wise, could make in it or even out of that area.

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Image courtesy of pixabay

Police and fire trucks were everywhere! People were being directed to go on the Brooklyn bridge, but my co-worker said no-way because all we could think about at that point was if we go on the bridge and there is another attack that would be the next place.

When the first tower began to fall, we weren’t out of the area yet and the noise of the falling buildings sounded like my brain was being cracked-it was extremely loud like it was in my head and was capable of mentally crippling me.

Then the second one started falling down. I saw them both just crumble down. It was unbelievable that there was so many people still in those building as they slowly fell down.

Seeing this made me feel like I was going to lose my mind. It was one of the most horrific feelings of knowing so many people were dying all at once.  I knew people who worked in those buildings.

One of my best friends worked there and I could not stop thinking of her. I had other friends that worked in the towers. Some of them died.  However, we had to keep running.

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Image courtesy of pixabay

My co-worker would sometimes make stops because I was in so much pain with my feet and we both were suffering from exhaustion, and needing to have a drink of water.

She was my guardian angel that day and she stuck by my side the entire time even when I felt I couldn’t do it anymore.

I was crying and screaming and she helped me through the grace of God. I truly believe that and I’m grateful to her.  She and God kept me going. She was such a warrior through it all.

We continued to run and made a brief stop to catch our breaths and, finally, was able to get some water.

My co-worker and I finally found our way out of the debris and the chaos. We ran from lower Manhattan to Midtown and stopped at the Omni Hotel on 41st Street and 5th Avenue.

That’s where we stayed. My co-worker actually lived in New Jersey and I lived in the Bronx and subways were still shut down and other transportation was not available.

I can remember being at work in Yonkers, New York on that day and being told the office was closing. Transportation was nearly at a standstill. How did you get home?

Minnie:

I was, eventually, able to take a taxi.  We stayed at the hotel until the next morning. When we got up we prayed together. I had no money on me or anything. My co-worker paid for me a taxi to get home which was around 10:30 the next morning.

I was still crying in the cab and when I finally got to my neighborhood, I felt a little more relaxed and so happy and relieved to see my daughter as she was to see me. We hugged so tight and we both cried all over again.

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Minnie and her daughter, Teneshia

I got a little rest but then the pain from being struck by the car was resurfacing and I decided I need to see a doctor. Honestly, I was still in shock and panic mode. When I got to the doctor I explained what happened and they were very attentive to me.

My tests came back as me being ok except for a large bruise on my thigh area however, it was treatable with over the counter medications.

Since then, many people have had to deal with the mental and physical stress caused by the traumatic events of that day. How were you affected?

Minnie:

My state of mind was, definitely, concerning to the doctors. They immediately directed me to get counseling and I accepted it. Depression, on-going nightmares, fear of any type of noise, especially planes and fear of taking trains was a real issue for me. Physically, my feet were badly damaged. Years later, I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocyte Leukemia…too emotional to talk about but I am still being treated.

**(there was so much I left out but I gave the best that I can.
My emotions are still fresh from this devastation, especially with this new diagnosis – Minnie)**

What type, if any resources were made available to you to help you cope?

Minnie:

I am certified with the WTC health program as a 911 survivor, where ongoing counseling is offered, and payments for medically necessary treatment which is located at Bellevue Hospital where they also provide on-going monitoring for any present/future healthcare issues.

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♡♡♡♡♡♡♡

I am grateful to Minnie for sharing her story with me and allowing me to share it with you.

We will never know the outcome of our today until tomorrow. Some people, unfortunately, won’t know it even then. No one expected the events that changed the lives of so many that day. No one thought they wouldn’t make it home that night.

Do you still take life for granted?

A Cure For Chaos

20170827_161409It’s that time of the year again. The slow trickle of the back-to-school celebrations have commenced! Newbie back-to-school parental units, fret not. You’ll catch on.

This is the time of year that your home becomes more hushed during the day and bedtimes arrive a little earlier at night.

For parents that means the first and last sips of your coffee, tea, wine or beer and that relaxing sensation from that shower, bath, or book will be accompanied by the heavenly AAAH of our mental do not disturb feathers ACTUALLY not being ruffled.

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Much like the changing out of summer clothing for fall attire, our school aged home dwellers must change from vacation mode vigilantes to studious independents.

That means homework takes priority over leisure and outdoor shenanigans may be cut down as an earlier curfew takes the lead.

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That means our big little people will be standing at attention ready to start their day every morning and armed with energy and enthusiasm to finish strong every evening.

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*sigh* Yeah, I didn’t believe that one bit while I was writing it either but I figured it was worth a shot. You know how that whole “Speak It Into Existence” concept goes…

Everything always looks better in black and white. In reality, however, it sometimes looks like chaos.

During the summer vacation, there were probably things that you loosened the reigns on and other things that were easier to keep up because there was no early morning wake up calls or late night homework sessions.

Now that school is back in the equation, it can quickly become exhaustively overwhelming trying to keep your home in order and your kids motivated to stay on track without becoming a nagging, screaming, scowling sea witch.

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Whether you work outside of the home or are a SAHWAH parent, you need to begin your bid for organization early to combat the back-to-school crazies.

Your method of organization may vary greatly depending on the ages  of your children but the need for organization will remain, nevertheless.

I thought I’d share a few things that have remained consistent for me year after year and how I’m combatting my biggest pet peeve.

Most kids are never ready to go back to school. Usually, the only time they, happily, wake up early is the only day mom and dad can afford to sleep in late.

Getting your kids back on an appropriate sleep schedule before ‘D-day’ (or Yay-day depending on which side of the spectrum you stand) should be on your top list of things to do. It helps the morning madness when they have had their practice bedtime/wake up drills.

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Make Space. It’s a new school year. Get rid of the old items taking up space in your home. I don’t know about you but I find it extremely hard to focus around clutter. Less clutter means less cleaning.

Those old books, clothes and shoes can and should be donated. Those papers that you have that you may need one day but haven’t looked at in the last year…GARBAGE! If you absolutely can’t part with them, use bins and folders.

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Bins are your friends and folders are your soldiers. Use them to keep track of assignments, trips, projects, and notices.

Kids are huge contributors to the thumbs down movement for homework, chores, curfews and early bedtimes.

Are your army fatigues washed and pressed? You may be going to war on this one because none of those things are fun but someone has to do it…and it shouldn’t just be YOU!

My sweet not so little dust bunnies are a very soon to be 13-year-old, young lady and a stuck at age 10 for 5 more months, young man and they are chairpersons to the cause.

In the years past, I’ve spent immeasurable amounts of time stuck in repetitions of “Is your homework complete?” “Are your chores done?” “Who left dirty dishes on the table? Or in the bedroom? Or in the living room? And yes, there has even been a cup or two found in the bathroom. WTH???!!

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(Can you tell what my pet peeve is?)

This year, I’m rebelling. I am going to stomp my feet, fold my arms, and put in a lot of pouting and eye rolling work…or, maybe, I can teach them the pros and cons of responsibility vs. irresponsibility.

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Now, I don’t want to come off as superhero Mean Mom (M&M for short) but I do want to give my kids an incentive to be a bit more responsible while maintaining some levels of my sanity.

Let’s be honest. It’s a struggle to maintain the activities of daily living for more than one person. Heck, sometimes it’s a struggle to manage them for just yourself. That’s why the word HELP is a common daily verb in my home.

With all hands on deck, our day-to-day activities are accomplished in a timely fashion without much hassle and headache.

My solution? A chore chart that will help them stay on top of their responsibilities and their math $kills!

I used a similar chart for my two oldest children, who are now in their 20’s. They survived!

This is an example of what the completed chart could look like:

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Grab your chart here!  Print it out and customize it to suit your needs.

I include duties that are non-negotiable non-payable requirements. These are things that MUST be done, like it or not. While they will not earn an allowance for them, duties can affect the amount of their payout at the end of the week.

Chores are those things they can help you do around the house to make it run smooth…that you don’t mind rewarding them for.

Bonuses are those extra odd and ends that they can do. In my home, if one washes the dishes, the other can get the bonus for sweeping the kitchen floor or emptying the dishwasher. (Hi-five that teamwork action 😉).

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Penalties will pretty much speak for themselves. After the first 2 weeks of being penalized, my beautiful doves prefer not to use it at all. (Responsibility download complete).

Best wishes to you and your scholars for a successful and less stressful school year!

 

 

The Balancing Act

Life is a huge circus and you’re the tight rope walker.

-Liz McKenzie

At any given time, any one of us can be juggling a cluster of life’s necessities in one hand – education, work, family, religious and social obligations, etc – and the residual effects of life’s necessities in the other hand – happiness, sadness, stress, contentment, fatigue, etc.

In order to remain functional, you have to compose a modus operandi that will keep you from becoming a casualty of your own gravitational pull.

Finding the right balance between the various aspects of your life is critical to the progression of your purpose.

You manuever through milestones towards your goals but not without a teeter here and a totter there.

If any one element demands or steals more of your time, the other areas will be starved of the energy required to keep you balanced.

1. First things first. You have to want balance. You are who you say you are and you can do whatever you set your mind up to do; whether it’s to fail or succeed. Therefore, making a conscious effort to seek a healthy balance in your life puts you in a better position to obtain it.

2. Identify your life components. In order to understand where you’re off-balance, you need to be familiar with…well, YOU. What are your daily activities and your obligations, your needs and your wants. Where do they rival?

3. Prioritize. Now that you know the who and the what’s put them in their place. It’s not always easy to tell your wants to take a backseat to your needs. It’s even harder to distinguish which need you should tackle first. I wish I could pinpoint it for you but, unfortunately, only you can sort through that stack.

4. Break it down. You won’t find balance in one lump sum and you won’t be able to magically pull it out of a hat. It takes time, patience and work! Set short and long-term goals to facilitate habit and to monitor your progress. So you can celebrate, of course!!!

5. Speaking of break, don’t forget to take one. Physical and mental fatigue are vultures when it comes to balance. It’s okay to walk away or find a mental retreat to help rebuild your momentum.

6. Share the load. Even Superman needed help. Enlisting people you trust with tasks that can be executed without your physical presence frees up a lot of time for you to tend to another part of your garden.

7. No is a real word. Sometimes, maintaining your balance means saying no. You can’t be everywhere at once or do everything everybody wants you to. Your stamina won’t stand for it and your balance will suffer. Choose your participation wisely, not every situation pairs well with your goals.

8. Activate your social namaste. All work and no play makes Jack and Jill B-O-R-I-N-G! The key is finding the right people to relax, relate, and release with. Spend time with people who invigorate and nurture and support you. Stay away from negative vibes!

9. Family Ties. Your family is one of the reasons why you strive for more in life. Take time to give them your undivided attention. Memories last forever so make some.

10. Don’t forget your needs. I saved the best for last! You are pivotal to maintaining your balance so, naturally, you need to cater to yourself. So what does your happy dance look like? Massage, meditation, exercise, hobbies, connecting with your spirituality. Whatever it is, make time for it.

11. Leave the guilt behind! I felt it was important to throw this in because it was one of my personal offenses. It’s almost shameful to hear me say that when I used to “steal” time for myself, I FELT GUILTY!! What kind of fraggernackle bull cocky is that? Why the heck should anyone feel remorseful for taking care of themselves and doing what makes them happy? You’re not stealing time, it’s yours! Drop the guilt!! You don’t it. It serves no purpose to you. It’s a fake supporter to your cause!

I hope these tips are able to assist you on your journey to stabilizing your balance.

I am always eager to hear what works for you so feel free to share!

An Attitude for Gratitude

G-R-A-T-I-T-U-D-E!

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful and a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude helps you bring recognition to the value of every aspect of your life and the lives of others.

In my observations, it was apparent that while people issued thank you’s, there was a huge gap between the thank you and the gratitude.

1499365595873and realized that I was just as guilty of not overindulging in it as so many others.

To be honest, when I first began this journey into the dissection of gratitude, saying thank you and being grateful was one big melted crayon. I wasn’t aware that they were two separate entities that were co-dependent on one another.

Consider this:

In the supermarket, an elderly couple were waiting for the cashier to ring up their items. The wife left the line and returned with ice cream sandwiches. She said to her husband, “I know how much you like these so I grabbed you a box”. The husband, who had been looking at a magazine never glanced up but said, “Thanks”. grandparents-962866_640The wife became visibly irritated and told her husband he was very ungrateful. He looked up and said, “What? I said thank you”.

At home that night, the supermarket couple came to mind. This time in a different way. While I could only see the side of her face, the elderly woman’s posture gave away her disappointment in her husband’s, seemingly, lack of appreciation for her thoughtfulness.

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At the same time, her husband, whose face was in full view when he turned to look at her, had an expression of genuine shock and confusion because he overestimated the power in his thank you.

It was easy to put myself in both of their shoes. I understood what made her feel unappreciated and I also understood why he thought thank you was enough. There was a void of gratitude or, at the very least, their use of it was very weak.

Here’s another one:

When your mind is set on something the expectation is that you get what you see at face value. You tend to not plan for deviations. You know what you want and you expect to get it.

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For almost 2 weeks, a friend’s car had been out-of-order. I offered to transport her to and from work until her vehicle was ready. One day, however, I was not going to be available and, 2 days prior, she was informed that she would need to find an alternate way to get to work.

She was bothered instead of being grateful that, for 9 work days out of 10, I made sure that she made it to and from a workplace that I was not employed (I work from home). She allowed one deviation to drop a nest of entitled hornets into her happiness bag.

The verdict was clear. When you are not well versed in gratitude, one stray hair can ruin your whole hairstyle.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude humbles the materialistic selfish desires of the human nature and teaches you to recognize the value of what is already in your possession.

You learn to appreciate more what you have and look forward to what can be yours and then you learn to appreciate that. You learn to celebrate what’s current and constant in your life and, through it all, your happiness increases.

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I started thinking about the countless times I was less than appreciative. Those times when my thank you just didn’t match my gratitude and I was NOT impressed.

If you thought about yours, how many could you count? (Hint-Even one is too many).

In comes the gratitude challenge.

The act or expression of gratitude has taken a backseat to narcissism-but not always on purpose. Sometimes it gets rusty and dusty from under-utilization.

I created this challenge is to encourage you to:

  1. Look at yourself. Where you have been, where you want to go, and where you could possibly end up. Your vision can change with the blink of an eye.
  2. Look outside of yourself. gratitude-1251137_640Recognize that you’re not as self-sufficient as you think you are. From the insects to the sun and the gardeners to the teachers, there is someone doing something beneficial to you.
  3. Look to those around you. Be willing to be a source of direct and indirect motivation, positivity and generosity. In some way, someone at sometime was all those things to you.

I believe gratitude is something that should come full circle but it has to start somewhere. In order to make big, meaningful and permanent changes you have to:

  • Make the decision to change
  • Make the committment to change and
  • Start small
  • Share your gratitude and teach others to recognize and appreciate their own beautiful messes.

Once you start living intentionally in gratitude, the world will open up, take on a new look and have new meaning. Are you ready? (Click the image below).

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I’m Ready For The Challenge!

WEDNESDAY PEP-TALK

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Move to the beat of your own drum. Everyone is not going to support you on your journey and some people will try to convince you that you’re going the wrong way. That’s why it’s so important to develop and strengthen your knowledge of self. When you know who you are, what you want, and where you want to go, it’s easier to filter and dispel the naysayers and success blockers. Tune out the obstacles and keep moving.

A Place For Everything

What’s a gal to do? I am almost envious of you awesome bloggers who can so eloquently and creatively share your footprints in the sand. The niches of the blogging world are endless and you guys dress it up beautifully!!

As I become Dora la exploradora in my mind, I venture off on a niche adventure to walk in your shoes.

Here’s what I got so far:

Fashion – Well, I’m not really big on fashion and can’t, for the life of me, figure out the makeup maze.IMG_0192 Anything past lip gloss and eyeliner would require lifeguard assistance… or some balloons, big red shoes, and a big red nose.

Art & Design – NOT. A. CLUE. IMG_0196Next

Money Business– Oh you money savvy sweethearts! Where do you come from? From what cloth are you cut? If only I could have one single drop of your financially free, coupon cutting, sale soliciting blood run through my veins.

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👍🏾TOTAL FLOP👎🏾

Health & Fitness – I like donuts and hate exercise. I’ve been doomed from my first bite. The end.

Foodies – Thank you for recipes that help maintain my fluffiness.

Pets – Let’s see… well, I do have a 65lb dog

who thinks he’s a cat and an 8lb cat whom we, seriously, call Cujo Kitty.

I may be able to get Cesar Milan and Jackson Galaxy on board for an awesome premier of cat-dog live.

Hmm…

Guess I better have a chocolate-2202127_640 because I’m not myself when I’m hungry.

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So, here it goes.

Walking in your shoes is DEFINITELY not MY niche. I would probably be my only follower if I even attempted to recreate the greatness of any of you.

So why do people do it?

Why replicate when you are already in possession of an original? IMG_0190 Why do people venture so far out of their zone to dance with success?

My guess? Chlorophyll. Yep, that must be it! Chlorophyll gives grass all of that rich, vibrant green color and the other side is full of it.

I don’t doubt the vanity of the green over yonder. You shouldn’t either. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t even ping on your radar if your “agenda” is to succeed in your own element, in your own shell, in your own shoes; filled with your own interests, your own experiences and your own point of view.sheep-161389_640

If your agenda is nothing more than to imitate then please, by all means, continue to gaze and graze.

Guess #2 Self Doubt. If, in your mind, success is only achievable by becoming a surrogate to and of someone else’s hopes, dreams and hard work skeptical-2245968_640 then you are, unfortunately, a stranger to the meaning of success and possess a great amount of self-doubt.

Believe you can and you will succeed or fail.

Guess #3 Fear. We all have it and that’s ok!  I guess, it seems easier and safer to do what someone else has already done. equilibrist-1831016_640 (1) The risk factor is already subdued, right. Not at all. You still run a risk of mistake and failure.

Why not take the mistakes from YOUR ideas and learn from them? Why not use your failures as a pilot for your dreams. What doesn’t work go back in and rewrite it. Don’t let fear rationalize and minimize your potential.

Everyone and everything has its own place in this kooky world. It’s up to you to find yours.

 

Just a little food for thought

Are you happy with what you see and where you’re going? It’s not too late to make some changes.

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What is one thing you think you need to change that would be beneficial to your future? Is it a work in progress or is something holding you back? What do you need to do to make it happen?

The future is not set in stone until it becomes yesterday.

#makeachoice

#makeaplan

#makeithappen

 

It’s The Simple Things

Can you believe it? The year is halfway complete!  While we were doting on one task or other, Father Time whispered sweet nothings into the winds of Mother Nature’s kiss.

When we weren’t looking, Autumn turned to Winter and Winter became Spring as Summer patiently waits in the shadows.

Amid the changes of the seasons, some of us may have gotten caught up in the rapture of one task or other and forgot to stop and breathe.

You put off for tomorrow what should have been done today…3 (hundred) times over. Tomorrow, you will make that call. Tomorrow, you will stop by to say hello. Tomorrow, you will spend more quality time with friends and family.

Sometimes, tomorrow doesn’t come. Sometimes, that last hello is the final goodbye.

Life will always leave us with some regret. We’re not superhuman and can’t be everywhere each and every time but we can -and should- make time for the little things. For the simple things. It’s those little things that mean so much to someone whom you care for.