It’s Thoughtful Thursday! What I learned from Betty’s weekly hair appointment!

One of my earliest memories is my Dad making dinner for us on Friday nights.  He only cooked on Fridays because that was when Mom was at the hairdresser for her weekly appointment.  I probably remember those dinners so well because Dad only cooked two things:

Scrambled eggs or Tuna glop.

I believe the ” Tuna Glop” consisted of a can of tuna mixed with cream of celery soup served over cornbread.  It’s about as appealing as it sounds.

Some Fridays we made out if Mom cooked ahead of time and had it ready so the only thing Dad had to do was serve it.  Back then I really didn’t get why Mom had to have this weekly outing.  Now many years later I understand it was probably her only time away from us kids and the house.  It was her girlfriend time.  I’m sure there was a 1960’s Steel Magnolias thing going on at the shop and not only did the new “do” make her feel better but I’m sure the time away with other women did as well.

I remember going with her on a couple of occasions when her appointment was not on a Friday evening and I always thought it was strange to see the women in their curlers under those big bulbous hairdryers sleeping.  My 6 or 7 year old self couldn’t understand why anyone would want to nap under a hairdryer.  Why would anyone voluntarily take a nap?  Of course I get it now and it seems like the perfect plan and the roots of multi-tasking: new hair do, girlfriend time and a little nap..the perfect trifecta..add in some wine and it would be amazing.

So fast forward a couple of decades and a change of location. My siblings and I are  grown but the one thing we know for sure is that you don’t mess with Betty’s hair appointment.  A tornado, hurricane or the apocalypse would be coming and you could be sure Betty would some how, some way make it to her hair appointment.

I still didn’t get this ( much like I didn’t get the napping earlier).  I mean what happens if a hair appointment got skipped?   I knew what would happen!  Mom would be unhappy and  my family knows “If Betty ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.”

A couple of years ago my Dad started chauffeuring  Mom to her hair appointments.  He would regale the hairdressers with his latest jokes or stories, ask about their families, settle himself in with his newspaper and visit with those who were waiting their turns. My father was the original social butterfly..he truly loved to chat and have good conversations.  The shop in turn loved my Dad.

I started to “get” why this shop was so special when the week of his 90th birthday they honored Dad with a surprise cake, candles, cards and treated him to a  shampoo and blow dry with what little hair he had left.  He was thrilled and touched.  I heard all about it from Mom. She went on and on about how Bonnie and Joy and everyone else there had fun celebrating Dad.

When Dad unexpectedly passed away in March I took Mom for her hair appointment.  Now I really got it.  For one the shop is as nice as it could be. Not large but just so warm and lovely.  Bonnie and Joy talked with me, told me how they loved my Dad, how they made sure he had his favorite cookies, his favorite red cup and how he was intrigued by the Keurig coffee maker and loved the hazelnut coffee which they, of course, made sure was there for him.

Their concern for my Mom as nothing short of amazing.  As we left they handed us an abundance of food, their phone numbers, email addresses ..just about everything except one of their sinks.

And now some 4 months later I don’t like to miss the appointment with my Mom.  It is a community of love and support.  They even washed and blew dry my hair as a treat for being there for my Mom.  It IS Steel Magnolias.   I so get it!!  Its not just the hair do..it’s an infusion of joy and love and I am ever so grateful to them.  Here’s to the crew at Side Street Salon in Springfield, VA….Joy, Bonnie, Rosario, Sara and Natalie and everyone else who brightens Thursdays for us. Yes her appointment is always on a Thursday..so perfect!  A living Thoughtful Thursday if I ever saw one.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful one for you and someone else!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday….We’ve all said this but please stop!

I was watching a heartbreaking video by a Mom about her severely non verbal  autistic son.  It was sincere, honest and brought me to tears.  She was confessing that she had to let go of the dreams she originally had for her son.  We all have those dreams for our children.  Dreams of success, adventures and possibilities.

This Mom had one last dream for her son.  To be happy. She was struggling to let that be enough and at the same time  she was dreading going into work because the night before she and many of her co-workers went with their children to see Elmo. Her  friends witnessed  the struggles she was having with her son.  That was okay with her and not what she was dreading.

She was dreading the one sentence that we all say.  We mean it as a compliment but it really isn’t despite our good intentions.

That one sentence is ” I don’t know how you do it”

Innocent enough.  It has been said to me multiple times over the years when Paul was on Navy Deployments, when my kids were little and when I was going to school and Paul was traveling and most recently while he has been working 1300 miles away from home.

I’m sure that Mom would like to say out loud to those who “compliment ” her what was being said in her head:

“Wait don’t you get it?  I don’t have a choice.  This is my life and I do what needs to be done just like you would and by saying that you are also saying to me that you are so glad it’s not you.  You may have never intended to say that but the subtle message is there.”

In my current situation we did have a choice and I chose to stay here and let him go to a job that he really wanted and we knew it would be semi-temporary.  Yet wives of military guys, Moms of special needs kids or parents with dementia or Alzheimer’s have no choice.  Neither do the people who lose spouses or children to cancer, car accidents, or heart attacks.

We do what we have to do.

Please do not beat yourself as you think back about ALL the times you have said it.  We all have.  Now you know it’s not really a compliment.  Find something else to say.  Bring her a cup of coffee, or flowers, a post it  with a sweet note or chocolate.  Chocolate is always good. Make her laugh!

Most times in these situations you can’t change what has happened or what is happening and it  will continue to be a part of your friend or loved ones life.  You CAN be there for them in little ways and those seemingly little ways are HUGE!!

Words are powerful, use them wisely.  Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One!!!

P.S.  Here is the link to the heartfelt video from Cooper’s Mom :https://www.facebook.com/findingcoopersvoice/videos/823629497779513/

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Forever and Always My Baby You’ll Be!

All those parenting books never tell you the one truth that you have to figure out on your own.  Parenting never ends.  No matter how old your children get, or how many amazing grandchildren they give you, you never stop being their parent.

Nope!

And it is all okay.  We signed up for this gig many many years ago and I wouldn’t trade it for the world but some days  my heart is a little more tender than others.

This past Monday we waved good-bye to our youngest and only son. He is heading overseas to a new job and we probably won’t see him for another year.  It was time for him to go.  He had taken a break from his previous job and stayed with us for a few months and now he is on to new adventures.  Still I started missing him the moment he firmed up his travel arrangements.

He is a grown man and has been out on his own for several years and yet I did not see a grown man wave to us one last time as he walked down the jetway.  This is what I saw:

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At home in a way too quiet house I sought to console myself.  My husband ( as Dads tend to be) was more philosophical about it relying on the knowledge that it was time for him to move on.  I needed something.  So I baked chocolate chip cookies, ate way too many and saved the rest for the grandkids.

I am grateful for the long visit we had, his sense of humor and especially that THIS time I did not need a hazmat suit to enter his room after he left!   He left his mark as most adult children do.  I will be spending the next couple of months figuring out where he put stuff  away in the kitchen.  He tried but I am finding things in the oddest places.

I am also grateful that we can Skype, text message or hangout thanks to Google.

And yet this week will be one of continual Thoughtful Thursdays and honoring all my emotions.

Most of all I am grateful that this parenting gig never ends and my children, no matter how old they get, are always with me even when they are far away.

And yes even when I find petrified PB&J’s under the bed along with dirty laundry. Some things never change!!

There will come a day when he finds the same stuff under his son’s bed!

So your assignment this week is to go out and be thoughtful to yourself and give yourself permission to stretch Thoughtful Thursday into a whole week..sometimes you need it.  Well that and some warm chocolate chip cookies and  a big hug.

Now go out and make it a Thoughtful one!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! This gift is always “enough” !

It’s September 1st and while others are mourning the loss of summer I am relishing that things will get back to a regular rhythm. The kids are back in school  (or in my case the grandkids), there will be some really gorgeous fall days and crisp mornings and I, for one, am ready for the change of seasons.

Our family will kick off the fall by celebrating my Dad’s 90th birthday.  I cherish this time I have with my parents and know that each day is a gift.  Except for some hearing issues and forgetfulness my parents are doing well.  The internet and “the facebook” baffle my Mom.  My Dad does know how to send an email or play solitaire on his computer.  Downloads confuse him but then they sometimes hang me up as well.

My Dad requested no gifts for his birthday.  He just wants to be around family.  I actually had to convince him that a family gathering would be nice ( he didn’t want a party).  In the end it was a matter of semantics as we are having a party but not using the “p” word.

Despite my mothers confusion about computers she is aware of Amazon and will ask me to order things.  Recently it was a gift for a friend who is turning 90.  My mother was concerned it wasn’t “enough” of a gift.

We have all been down that road before.

I really dislike the notion of any gift not being “enough”. Who decides what is enough?  My parents are actually going to the party which in my mind is gift enough but my mother would not let it go.

Finally I came up with the perfect addition to the gift.  Feel free to steal this and use this as we approach the holidays.  It is definitely the quintessential one size fits all and will be universally loved by all who receive it.

I told my Mom to write Sylvia a note and include all the special memories they have shared and why her friendship and connection through these many years has meant so much.

It is one thing to know this.  It is one thing to verbalize it.  Having it written down adds a new dimension.  It can be read, and reread, held close to the heart and touched.  Running a hand over a written note can be soothing and a connection can be felt to the words and the time and sentiment that went in to writing the words on paper.

A handwritten note is a gift that fills the heart. It can be read, and reread, held close to the… Click To Tweet

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I’m pretty sure something like this can’t be bought at Amazon…or at any store.

Not to spoil the surprise but I know what I want to give and receive as a gift these coming months..and it is more than enough!

Now you know what to do…go out and make it a Thoughtful one!!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday…Cherishing those 45 seconds

It was a busy weekday afternoon.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Life at my daughters’ house was full of kids, laughter, teasing and loud voices.

The voice of  urgency to get everyone ready for soccer practice rang out a familiar tune as kids ran around getting things together, filling water bottles, looking for lost shoes.

A little deja vu for me from years past.  I sometimes missed those crazy days and enjoyed being in the midst of all the chaos for a bit.

Ava Grace sat on her Dad’s lap getting soccer shoes tied with her long wavy hair in tangles around her head sweaty from a day of soccer camp.  She jumped down and handed me her hair elastic to help her put her hair up.  I was grateful there was no need to brush out the many tangles but I made an attempt as I gathered her hair up and stroked it gently…braid or pony tail ….pony tail…I gathered up her hair like I had done her for her Mom for  many years and quickly made a pony tail wrapping the elastic around it…akin to riding a bike, something I could do blindfolded.

How many times and how many pony tails had I gathered up for my daughters?  Did I relish the moment?  Did I cherish it? Did I know how special it was to have that moment.?  Nope. And  today I got a do over in my heart .

It was only 45 seconds.  Ava Grace did not give it a second thought, but I did.  There is something special and elegantly simple in creating a ponytail.  It is just an everyday ordinary moment that I have done a zillion times. And yet today it meant something.  If felt like an honor to do something so ordinary, so simple.  It is those simple things in life that connect us.  Making a meal together, doing dishes, brushing hair, whispering good nights.

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It is the simple things in life that connect us Click To Tweet

My wish for you on this Thoughtful Thursday is to honor those wonderful but often ignored moments.  Cherish those 45 seconds and savor them.  They are quick but oh so important.  Now you know what to do 🙂  go out and make it Thoughtful One.

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday…Loving all that is YOU!

One of my favorites originally published on Aug. 14, 20014

I am reading a wonderful book  “A Thousand Days in Tuscany”  by Marlena De Blasi.

It’s the kind of book that I want to go on forever.  The descriptions of her experiences in Italy are like taking a bite of a decadent dessert that romances your mouth and leaves you craving for more.

Warning:  She is a cook and her descriptions of food will make even the fullest tummy desire a tasty italian dish.

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

Marlena writes a passage in the beginning of her book that I have read a hundred times over.

It reminds me of treasured relationships.

Not just between man and wife, but those who have known us and loved us at each and every station of our life.

Loved us at the beginning, the middle and the end and wherever we choose to stop in between.

And we have people whom we love this way as well.

On this Thoughtful Thursday take some time to love with words, love with hugs, love with memories of the people who have loved us well.

Savor this passage..read slowly.  It is divine.

May today be a Thoughtful one for you.

How delicious it is to rest after such a day.

To lay down blood and bones in a place, almost any place

where someone waits to hold what’s young of you and what’s old of you.

What’s just happened to you and that which has happened so long ago to you.

All of you.

Marlena De Blasi, “A Thousand Days in Tuscany”

A Thousand Days in Tuscany

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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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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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