It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Look up for some awesomeness!!

I have done a lot of traveling in my lifetime.  Often not very exciting places but between being a military wife and business I have been in lots of different locations  and in quite a few airports.

Lots of changes have happened especially over the last few years.  Gone are the banks of payphones and in their place are “charging zones” for our various electronic devices.  People still bury their heads in books or e-readers.

The nosy person in me loves it when people bring real books.  I love to see what people are reading!!

And for those of you who are curious ( aka nosy, lol) about what I have been reading, here you go:

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The other thing people bury themselves in are their phones.  Row after row of people with their heads down, totally oblivious to the people around them.  I have even spent a whole flight sitting next to someone who never even said “hi”.

I am here to tell you that you are missing out on a whole lot of awesomeness.

When we traveled to Italy two years ago I learned quickly to always look up.  The ceilings in the historic and non historic places always had a story to tell of craftsmanship, beauty and brilliance.  It started to be the first thing I did when we entered a building.  I was never disappointed.

Sometimes I saw incredible artwork:

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So Gorgeous!!!

 

And sometimes we were entertained by a lively conversation complete with hand gestures!!

Wish I knew what they were saying!

Wish I knew what they were saying!

Being in Italy and knowing that if I failed to look up I would miss out on so much instilled the habit of looking up and all around everywhere I am, especially in crowded places like airports and coffee shops.

That one simple habit has filled my heart more than once.

Just last month I was waiting to board my flight and saw an elderly gentleman in a wheelchair parked at the gate agents podium.

He was all alone.

It is almost always easy to start a conversation with an older person.  They love to talk.  This gentleman made it easy because he was wearing a Marine Corps Hat.  A quick “Semper Fi” and we were off and running.

His name was Marvin, he has five kids, told me all about his military service, his farm, his deceased wife, and the fact that he just turned 90!!  I told him both my parents turn 90 in the next 6 months.  He smiled and told me not to tell them but the truth was ( his words) “Its all downhill once you turn 90”  He said it with a smile and I promised not to tell.

He was a delight and far more entertaining than my phone and certainly enriched and touched me in ways the internet never could or will.  My only regret is we didn’t get a photo together.

Other past encounters include a woman dressed to the nines with most impressive jewelry.  She was a blind pianist. I also met a guitarist from the group “White Snake”, a delightful artist from Florida, a retiree with a broken leg moving to Chicago, an inspirational speaker who had a good experience as a foster kid and was paying it forward as a speaker and advocate for foster children!

As much as I love getting a handwritten letter the other part  of this  is interacting with the people around us.  You just never know who you will meet, how you will touch their lives in that moment or maybe forever or how they will touch yours.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One and remember to Look Up!!

 

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday: # Kindness Counts

Yes !

Kindness counts in so many ways.  

This has been on my mind for a long time.  Just today it came up again as I was reading a post from a blogging friend.  She was uber excited about a trip her family is on and fortunately for those of us who have the pleasure of knowing her, she is keeping us updated on every detail.

Normally I wouldn’t want to hear every detail but this trip is different. The purpose of this trip is both heartbreaking and heartwarming so when I eagerly read her post this morning my heart sank when one of the people commented that she needed to remember the focus of the trip and to curb her enthusiasm.

I wanted to cry.

There is no way my friend could forget the purpose of the trip to Disney or why they were taking it.  She has been preparing for months.  Her organizational skills astonish me.  She has 7 kids.  Most are adopted and have special needs.

I can barely get myself out of the door let alone do it for a family of nine.  And she does it with a smile.

As you may have guessed this  is a “Make a Wish Trip”.  One of her daughters has a limited life span and they are taking the trip while she can enjoy it.

So no she hasn’t forgotten the purpose of the trip .  I applaud her enthusiasm and excitement.  I hope she enjoys it just as much as the kids or even more.

Maybe the person commenting was having a bad day or jealous of their adventure. Who knows?  It’s easy to comment negatively on social media sites.  I wonder if this person would have said the same thing to her in person.

That is my top rule.  If  I wouldn’t say it in person it has no business being posted or written anywhere .

Let’s start a movement of being kind to one another, supporting one another and celebrating others excitement and enthusiasm.

Start now.  Pick up the phone, write a note, celebrate an adventure, support your friends with kindness.

Kindness does count and we all could use a daily infusion of it.

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Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One!!

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Living Single While Very Married! The first of many good-byes…

After our very long road trip to get Paul to his new job the day we were dreading arrived.  No matter how many times we have done this, saying good-bye never gets easy.

I stood in the airport trying not to feed into my fear and uncertainty.  We had no idea how long this would last, how often we would see each other, if he would like the job, or if it would just be too much for the both of us.

What had we done?

The list of unknowns grew exponentially and I finally had to put it out of my mind or I was going to go crazy.

I thought back to our very first real good-bye when we were  at the ripe old ages of 21 and 22 yrs. He headed to flight school and I headed back to college. It was hard enough then but we did have the advantage of a pretty solid time frame and a date when we knew we would be together forever.

Navy deployments followed, along with TDY’s ( temporary duty assignments) and other things that kept us apart.

One thing remained constant.  We always dreaded the good-byes.  The last hug, the last kiss, the promise to write ( calling was not always an option, no cell phones or even computers back then) and the hope that time would go quickly.

Thirty years later and we were back to where we started.

So we hugged and said good-bye, took some deep breaths and I boarded the plane and started this new unknown adventure.

Three  things I knew for sure:

I loved Paul enough to let him go pursue his dream.

He loved me enough to understand that I needed to stay.

And the one  other constant with all these separations that we always looked forward to…

The “hello’s” are ever so delicious!!

I don’t have any photos of our goodbyes and only one of our hello’s but it remains a favorite.  At Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Oahu , Hawaii  Feburary 1984..a few days away from being a family of four!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Feeling a little stressed over the holidays..then it is time to…

“Disclaimer”  Since I am dedicated to NOT make myself crazy I am being a good environmentalist and recycling a post that I wrote at this same time last year.  I had to laugh when I reread it because my tree is up, lights on and once again it is surrounded by boxes of decorations….some things never change 🙂  Enjoy!  Also begging forgiveness from my daughters for giving them that *&*%$#$ Elf on the Shelf several years ago..yikes!

Join me for a  little cup of self compassion and letting go.   At the risk of getting horse whipped by Elf on the Shelf and shamed by Pinterest addicts I will share with you that Christmas is not my favorite holiday.

Pause for a collective GASP!

I mentioned this to a few of my friends and was dutifully shamed since evidently I am suppose to LOVE everything about the holiday and put up my decorations mid November.

I think not.

I don’t LOVE everything.

What I do love is the spiritual side, advent and getting together with family, and pulling out the faded construction paper ornaments with macaroni and toothless grins from long ago.

I love the music…in December and not before.

What I don’t love are the little voices in my head that constantly barrage me this time of year:

  • Did I remember everything and everyone?
  • Wait where did I put this gift…did I even buy it or did I just think I bought it?
  • It’s Dec. 10th and my tree is not up..what’s up with that? ( It is actually up with a trillion boxes surrounding it full of ornaments yet to be hung)
  • The sale ends tonight, must hurry, must bake, must do everything

and the quintessential:

 “What’s wrong with me, everyone else seems to do this without breaking a sweat”

I actually know the last one is not true, it just feels true.  Especially when I hear things like this starting on Nov. 29th:

“My shopping is all done, cards are ready to be mailed and I just baked 15 dozen cookies”

And me….I am thinking ( among other things that can’t be written here):

“Wait, I haven’t even finished digesting my Thanksgiving dinner and you are all ready for Christmas?”

And then to console myself I have another piece of pie.

So what does all this have to do with Thoughtful Thursday?

Aside from starting a support group for those of us who would like to celebrate Thanksgiving and then ease into Christmas then the  best we can do is really, really practice self compassion and let go of what does not serve us.

Take a breath, have a cup of tea, keep it simple and do what brings you joy.  Elf on the Shelf might need to take a vacation this year..or permanently.

If you have small children think about what you remember about Christmas.  I bet you hardly remember the gifts but you do remember your Grandpa’s laugh, fun with your family or making cookies with your Mom ( just not 15 dozen and slice and bake work just fine)

As for me, I am putting a mute button on all those nagging questions that run through my head, making a cup a tea and hoping I don’t trip over all those boxes around the undecorated tree as I go to the kitchen.

Make this Thoughtful Thursday about you today!

P.S. Written quickly so all my typos and grammatical errors are my gifts to you!  Phew..

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Awaken Your Heart :)

I had no idea until just a few minutes ago what I would be writing about today for Thoughtful Thursday.  I started looking through my pile of “to read” that was surrounding me in my little morning nest of books,  journals and just random pieces of paper ( yes this drives my very orderly husband nuts) when the end of this yoga article by Anne Cushman spoke to me:

“And when your hearts awaken, even small gestures can have an immense effect.”candle-386607_1280

As we end November in which we focus on gratitude and immerse ourselves into the often times crazy holiday season I hope we can remember the small gestures we can do for others and even for ourselves.  

What awakens your heart?  What small gesture can bring a smile to your face and a sense of peace?

When I am out and about I look for those little things. Holding the door open for a Mom with little ones or anyone else who seems to need it, thanking  the cashier, complimenting someone on their beautiful sweater or great smile. I am also known for gathering up all the errant shopping carts that are left around the parking lot.  I make up stories about how these people were having a rushed or bad day and just couldn’t get the cart put away ( that may not be true but it keeps me from being negative).

When I am home and grousing about the little things that seem big at the moment ( the endless amount of dog hair, the papers that seem to pile up and breed overnight, the internet that lately only works when it wants to) I try and center myself and remind myself that these are all little things.  If I can’t move forward, if I am really stuck there are couple of things I can try to awaken my heart.

One is journaling.  There is just something about putting it on paper that gives me perspective.  

The other one that always works  for me when I am home is to turn on Netflix and tune into the British show “Call the Midwife”.  Even if I just have it on in the background, the music and the sense of peace around that show settles me down and helps me get back into my heart.  It might not be your preference but this show is all about kindness, love and helping women who are often times living in really dire circumstances and yet the midwives and nuns focus just on the person and love them right where they are.

These are just two of my own personal examples. I have way more and I’m sure you do as well.  If not, have a quiet moment today and find something that calms you and awakens your heart.  It’s good to have it in your “tool” box for those times when things get a bit crazy.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile a conflict or open the door to liberation. One action can save a person’s life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity.With compassion in our heart, every thought, every word and deed can bring about a miracle.

Have fun awakening your heart and as always …Go make it a Thoughtful One!

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How I “became” a “real” runner on Saturday!

I recently read a comment from a fellow runner on another blog that said despite the fact she had run 20 marathons ( yes 20!) she still didn’t consider herself a “real” runner.

WHAT???    20 marathons is 524 miles….whoa.

It got me to thinking what makes someone feel like a “real” runner.  Obviously completing 20 marathons wasn’t enough for this woman.

OMG

I have never done a marathon.  I might never do one and yet I felt more like a “real” runner this past week-end than I ever have.   Before I tell you what happened I have to share a passage from a favorite book that has the best description of what it is to be “real”.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

So for runners I would change that last line to:

“But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be slow, or last or not a good enough runner, except to people who don’t understand”

As promised here is why I now feel like a “real” runner.

This past Saturday I ran an 8k (5 miles).  It was suppose to be a half marathon (13.1 miles) but my training went poorly so I changed to the 8k and wasn’t even sure I could that.

A couple of days before the race I decided that no matter how I felt I was going and I would run with joy and to have fun.  I was a little nervous especially since on Wednesday I had barely eeked out a mile, but I went.

It helped that the day was chilly but gorgeous.  I put a big grin on my face and just trusted that this would be okay.The first two miles were stop and go.  I had to stop and tie my shoe, then I had to stop to get a pebble out of my  other shoe.  As we approached Mile 2 it became evident that I needed a porta potty quick.  I gotta tell you seeing those line of porta potties at Mile 2 was a beautiful site.  I ran in, ran out and joined the race again.

It was all okay.  Never had to stop that many times in the first two miles but I didn’t stress about it.

I looked around at all the runners.

It reminded me of the old Oscar Meyer Weiner Commercial:

“Fat kids, skinny kids, kids that climb on rocks. Tall kids, short kids, kids that have the chicken pox”

Hopefully there was nobody there with the chicken pox!

The variety of ages and sizes was beautiful and we were all encouraging one another.

And I ran with joy and gratitude to just be out there.

That’s when it happened.  I became “real”  and I was surrounded by “real” runners because we were out there and we were doing it and we all had smiles on our faces and we were triumphant in the “doing”.

Wait there was one more “real” moment after I crossed the finish line when I turned to another woman runner around my age and said “Wow, what an awesome day and great race!”  and she asked “What was your time?”

My reply: ” I have absolutely no idea”

That is what sealed the deal and made me a “real” runner.  I ran with joy and because I could. IMG_2458

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday: Remember these two words…

Do you remember when the letters of the alphabet finally made sense?  When you finally realized that if you put those letters in a certain order they actually made words.  Words that you could read?

It’s a powerful moment.

That moment came to me in first grade and the word was “Jump” !  I often wondered why I remembered this moment so clearly and even what the word was and the excitement I felt that this reading thing, these letters, that word finally made sense.S059QDGBOG

So  many years later I realize that making that leap from just letters, to words, to reading opened up an entire new world to me.  It’s like an exciting trip I’ve been on that never ends.

Even if you don’t like to read or write, words will excite you in other ways.  What new parent doesn’t get excited over their child’s first word?  Just recently my grandson started saying “Grandma”.  Up until that moment, for some reason, he called me “Grandpa” 🙂 It may seem like a little thing but when I walked in and he said “Hi Grandma” my heart sang.

This morning as I was scrolling through my mail I ran across a piece of art by Kelly Rae Roberts.

It simply said these two words:

LOVE WIDE

It stopped me in my tracks.  It said to me we can love in all directions.  We can really love wide with all our words.  Make them big, make them simple but spread them widely to your friends, family and strangers.  Spread them via snail mail,  texts, or emails.  Leave them on post it notes for people to find on windshields, in desks, in pockets, on steering wheels, in lunches, on coffee cups.notebook_pen_hires

 

Better yet leave them for strangers to find.  Imagine finding a note under your windshield wiper that said “you matter” or “you are loved”.  Those could be the only kind words that person encounters today.

Those words, that small gesture won’t be forgotten.

So this Thoughtful Thursday love widely with your words however you choose to do it.  I’ll bet the thought of  this just made you smile!

As always, go out and  make it a Thoughtful One!

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Are you really being grateful?

I love November.  I love Thanksgiving!  I also love that people focus on gratitude intensely this month.

The “attitude of gratitude” is rampant and that’s a problem.  It sounds nice, it has good intentions but often that is where it stops.  I never even thought about it until I heard author and social worker Brene Brown speak about yoga.

She said she loves everything about yoga:

  • the mindfulness
  • the peace it brings people
  • the comfy clothes
  • the music

She loves it and thinks it is awesome and has tons of yoga clothes that she loves but then she said …..

She has never done yoga.

Not even once.  Never on the mat.  No downward dog.

She had an “attitude of yoga” but not a “practice of yoga”.

Makes sense, right?  We can have all the “tudes” we want but until we get out there and actually do it, it remains an attitude with no action.

Every time I post about Thougthful Thursday I always end it with “Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One”!

And today I will challenge you to take your “attitude of gratitude” and make it a “practice of gratitude”

What does that look like?  It will probably be different for everyone but it can be as simple as saying “thank-you” for something somebody does for you everyday but never gets noticed … as in thanking your spouse for remembering to put the garbage out or always changing light bulbs.

It wasn’t until I was almost in the dark after Paul had been gone for awhile that I realized he ALWAYS replaced the burnt out light bulbs.  I thank him when he is home for doing the “Bub” patrol as we call it!!

A speaker that I know, Connie Podesta, put this saying on her facebook page and I stole it ( the saying not the photo) and I also adopted it into my daily gratitude practice.  It doesn’t get any simpler than this:Image-1

So today and for the rest of the month ( and hopefully forever) have a “practice” of gratitude.  It will do your heart good.

Now go out and make it a “Thoughtful One” !  I KNOW you will!

 

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Living Single While Very Married: On the road again…sharing a seat and a laugh with George and Gregory Peck!

So a little over 2 years ago we began this adventure.  It has had it’s up and downs and we are ready for new adventures of “Living Together While Very Married” !  That is what we both signed up for but we keep hitting the replay button on this “Living Single While Very Married”   What?  Nobody is more surprised than we are and fingers crossed we will end this journey in 2016…BUT in the meantime let me catch you up.

So Paul took his “dream” job and I am keeping  the home fires burning here on the East Coast.  We had ( still do) really great reasons for doing this and there have been some really good things that have come from this arrangement.  There have also been some really difficult times and despite seeing each other as often as possible we miss each other tons.

One of the first parts of this was our road trip to get Paul to his new job.  Flying is great but there is nothing like a road trip to really see the country.

As we made our way across the United States we had fun seeing family in Ohio and Michigan/Indiana ( also known as Michiana) and we made my one requested stop to my childhood stomping grounds of LaGrange, Il just outside of Chicago.  I spent my “wonder years” there and still love the place.  As kids we had such freedom and walked EVERYWHERE ( school, the movies, shopping)  In the summer we left to go play and we were lucky if our parents could get us in for dinner.  Good times.

623 S. Kensington Ave LaGrange, IL

My “Wonder Years” home..good memories!

As we left Illinois and ventured onto RT 80 in Iowa we discovered some really interesting and fun places.

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Just in case we weren’t sure what road we were on!

We, of course had to stop at the “The World’s Largest Truck Stop”  Paul  heard a rumor they served the world’s largest hamburger ( his favorite meal) but turns out it was just a rumor.  Still it was fun.  Here are a few photos:

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Just in case we forgot where we were

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And just what you need to find at the World’s Largest Truckstop!

 

My  favorite stop was “The Wilton Candy Kitchen” ( not to be confused with the Wilton Cake Company)  I had envisioned this quaint little town, bustling with visitors and a busy old fashioned candy and ice cream parlor.

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Not exactly what I had envisioned..but I loved it!

Well I got it partially right.  We drove through Wilton, IA and the town looked like it was on vacation and the Candy Kitchen appeared to be closed.  I got out to take photos and up drove Thelma and George….the proprietors.  Thelma was busy bustling around, complaining about George ( in a humorous way) and was out the door before we knew it with ice cream sodas for some good friends.

George had worked in the Candy Kitchen since he was 6..he was 93 when we met him and very entertaining.  We felt like we stepped back in time.  I was wondering if  Sheriff Taylor, Barney Fife and Aunt Bee were nearby.

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I swear Barney Fife is near by!

We ordered some ice cream sodas and watched as George operated the machinery like he was still 6 years old.

They were very proud of their famous celebrity guests  Gregory Peck and Brooke Shields.

I even got a photo behind the counter with George but first I had to promise him that I would never tell Thelma he allowed me behind the counter.  Evidently Thelma wore the ice cream pants in this family.

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George really loved serving up ice cream!

It also looks like she had no problem having Gregory Peck behind the counter!!!

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We asked George to take a few photos…I think the digital camera threw him off a bit but he gave it a good shot.

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I was a little sad to leave and promised myself we would stop by when we made the trip back in a few years.

Sadly if we do get to stop George will not be there.  He is now serving ice cream to all the angels.

It would have been easy to just blow through Iowa and not stop anywhere and make a beeline for Paul’s new stomping grounds.  So happy we took the time to see the sights and meet the people.

We only spent an hour or so with George and Thelma but I smile each time I think of them.  I might have to go out and have some ice cream in George’s memory.  Won’t be as good as his homemade ice-cream but I can pretend!

As always keep triing!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Take the risk and say this….

Sometimes the most thoughtful thing you can do to connect with someone is also the hardest.

Losing someone you love dearly is gut wrenching.  Saying goodbye is never easy even if the person you are saying goodbye to has had a long and good life.

I think there is an added dimension of grief when it is a young child or baby.

We all have good intentions when supporting our friends and family during this emotional tearful time.  We bring food, we call, we send cards and then….well then it gets awkward.  Do we bring another meal, send another card or do we even bring it up at all?

Do we mention their name?

We are afraid of adding to the grief, of being the reminder that their loved one or friend is gone.  We long for them to find joy again, to take away their pain, to have it all be good.

So often we say or do nothing and promise ourselves we will call tomorrow or send a card in a few days.  Those days become weeks and soon it has been months since we have made that promise.

We have all done it.  Put a BIG guilty stamp on my forehead.

And then I had an amazing lesson in what I know to be true.

Many of you know I work at our local hospital in the Mother Infant Unit.  I work with some awesome women.  The vast majority are younger than I am so we have lots of co- workers having babies.  We get so excited over one of our own having a baby.  So much so that you never know we see it on a daily basis.

One of our co-workers was 16 weeks pregnant when shewent to her OB appointment and discovered her baby’s heart had stopped.   She was devastated. We all felt horrible.  We supported her as best we could and after a little while she returned to work.  It must have been so difficult to come back to work and see all the Moms with their newborns but she did it.

Fast forward to 4 1/2 months later and I sat down next to Carol to chart on the computer.  I suddenly realized that her original due date was that month.

I had a little conversation with myself.  Do I say anything?  Does she want to remember?  We are at work, will it upset her too much?  Finally I felt a gentle nudge at my heart.  I like to think it was spirit or perhaps my guardian angel who whispered “What would you want?’

So I leaned over and said ” I just want you to know that I didn’t forget  your baby would have been here this month and I am thinking of you.”  She thanked me, smiled and then leaned into me and said “Want to know a secret?”  I nodded and she said “I’m pregnant” I was one of the first to share her joy.  What a privilege!

That was three years ago.  She welcomed a healthy son into the world to join her two daughters.  I KNOW she has not forgotten the baby that will never get to grow up with the other three. And even if my gesture had not been met with such joy I know it would have been appreciated that I remembered her little one.

I keep that in mind when friends have lost loved ones.  I mention them. I share a memory.  I keep their photo on my frig.  I want them to know I did not forget.

So being thoughtful can sometimes be hard, but it is worth it.  It is so important.

And as gently as I can say this “Go out and make it a Thoughtful One!”

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