It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Kindness Always Counts

I went running the other day.  My running has changed so much over the years and I love how I now have no expectations of speed, time or distance.  I am happy to be out there and enjoy nature.  I stop when I need to or take a walk break.  Aside from the cardio work-out it does wonders for my spirit and mood, in other words I literally  run off the stress !

My route is pretty familiar.  Maybe too familiar.  I could change it up but until it gets boring I will keep it the same.  There is log just off the route that I sometimes stop and sit on to rest or think.  It is always in the shade so on the hotter days its a great place for a break.  I never thought anything about it until the other day.  I stopped for a break, caught my breath and after a minute or two started running again.  By the way this path just happens to run parallel to the main thoroughfare of my community.  This woman slowed her car down, leaned out her window and asked if I was all right.   I sort of chuckled because if I am having a good day running I feel like a gazelle but having seen many photos of me running I know I just look like a regular person running.  Did this woman think I was struggling??  Maybe I don’t look “normal”?  Actually she stopped because she saw me sitting on the log and was checking up on me.

How nice I thought. I  reassured her I was fine and kept on running.  Then I saw something that made me so appreciative.  I saw her turn her car around.  She had actually driven past me when I was sitting, turned around and came back to check up on me.  She does not know me and I couldn’t tell you who she was or even pick her out of a crowd.  Wow!  I was blown away by her kindness and effort to check on me. It buoyed me up for the whole day.  In this world where everyone is in a hurry she took the time to turn around and possibly help someone.  She actually did help me.  She reminded me that people are truly good at heart and despite the news, ready and willing to help.

My father often did this.  It was obvious his love language was acts of service.  Even at 90 yrs of age he loved when it snowed.  He would fire up his snowblower and do his driveway and all the neighbors.  I have operated that thing and it is a beast.  How he did it at his age is remarkable.  He thrived when the power went out. With his generator up and running and the help of my mother he delivered hot coffee to all the neighbors without power and offered to have them come over for an impromptu gathering.

He was such a cornerstone to the neighborhood that when he died suddenly, my friend no longer felt her elderly parents who lived across the street were safe to live alone.  She actually told me ” I could always depend on your Dad to check on them and he was their safety net.  Now that he is gone they really need to move”.  My Dad would argue that wasn’t the case but it truly was.

Of course all my siblings will tell you that Dad did carry it to extremes.  Several times he stopped the car abruptly to save a box turtle meandering in the road.  And when I say stop  I mean a screeching halt like something was wrong and this was before seatbelts.  Still it makes me smile at his tender heart for all living things.

While  I don’t stop for turtles I do go out of my way to hold doors for people especially young Moms struggling with a stroller, a toddler and packages.  My favorite thing is to compliment someone just randomly.  I did this recently to an older gentleman who was walking slowly with his head down.  I caught his eye and told him I loved his beautiful green shirt ( it was lovely) and his face lit up and he smiled as he thanked me.  He walked a little quicker and with head up the rest of the way.

All of this is a reminder to slow down, check on your friends, neighbors and strangers.  Offer someone a compliment .  I have no idea who that gentleman was with the bright green shirt but I often remember that brief moment when his face lit up and it lifts me up.  In other words, acts of kindness benefit everyone.

Maybe the lesson comes from the turtles after all.  Slow down, take your time and look around and remember one small act of kindness can make a huge difference.

Now as always..go out and make it a thoughtful one. 🙂

One of my better running photos!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! The Easy Way to Bring Joy to Yourself and Others

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter or note?  Bet it has been awhile.

I love receiving unexpected notes or letters .  Even if I know everything that is going on in that persons life  it is always good to see familiar handwriting in my mailbox.

You can bet it is the first thing I open.

Why is it so special?  I can only speak for myself but I always feel a little extra love  when someone takes the time and makes the effort to write a real note, find a stamp and get it in the mail.

It is the personal touch that means so much.

When I find letters from my grandmother in her very distinctive handwriting it is like having her here next to me.  At some point in time she touched the paper and wrote those words.  It will never be like having her physically here  but it is something I can touch and hold.  Just seeing it makes me smile.

Thoughtful Thursday started with the intention of writing real letters.  I have fallen down on the job lately so I am jumping back in and committing to sending more letters via the post office.

Just like painting it has a soothing, relaxing effect on me.  Watching and feeling the pen glide across the paper and taking the time to think of what I really want to say makes me slow down and be in the moment.

While you may think e-mails are forever, maybe not.  A handwritten letter has a life of its own.  At least it feels that way.  And opening up an older one feels like a treasure found and a bit of the past come to life.  I have all the letters my husband wrote to me while he was on Navy deployments and while we were dating.  I have a box of love letters between my parents and handwritten notes and recipes from my grandmother.  They are a bit of my personal history.

I also have letters my grandfather typed.  He even managed to find a typewriter  and write one while vacationing in Europe in 1964.  I imagine they had business centers back then as well but instead of computers they had  typewriters.

Honestly it is not cheating if you don’t like your handwriting and you want to type it but always remember to add a handwritten P.S. and your own signature 🙂

I will type some of my letters but my way of typing is definitely old school.   🙂  A throwback to my grandfather 🙂

Love this script typewriter

Yes I have a fascination with typewriters.  I make mistakes, I x them out.  It is so fun.  And I get lots of reaction from the recipients.  The added bonus is there a real satisfaction at pounding on the keys.  Not sure why but just the extra force needed feels like I am accomplishing something.

Here is the other cool thing about mailed letters:

Letting go of the immediate reply

I am never sure if it arrived or when it did and I never  expect a handwritten response.  Of course I would love one but that is not why I do it. I do it for the connection, and mostly just for the pleasure of imagining the smile on someones face when they open their mailbox to find something besides the ordinary bills or advertisements.

Ok..there is the possibility the person won’t smile..but I’m guessing they will.  And guess what?  I may never know and thats ok.

I send it off and hope it does its’ job to bring a little joy to a someone special.  Give it a try..it does a heart good.

Now as always..go out and make it a Thoughtful One.

Jennifer

 

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Using “Young” Wisdom to Pick my Next Book!

Is it possible we were smarter as kids then we are now? It’s not only possible it’s the truth.  Granted, as kids, we did not have all the life experiences that bring more common sense and obvious solutions.  We can make a batch of brownies without a chocolate explosion in the kitchen but the reality is I listened more to my heart when I was eight years old.  I knew what I wanted as a toddler ( even if it was unreasonable) and at eight.  I didn’t give two hoots about what I was suppose to wear, what the latest fashion was or if my belly was too big or my thighs were too chunky.

Given the era I grew up in the input from outside sources was limited to my parents, grandparents, older siblings (my sister was especially embarrassed by my fashion sense) teachers and my friends.

I had a second grade teacher who encouraged us to express ourselves through creative writing.  She wasn’t concerned about grammar or spelling or what subject we chose. She made the writing time more appealing than recess.  We couldn’t wait to get going on our stories.  It instilled in me a love for not only writing but reading as well.  I still have my box of writings with crayon illustrations.  A true treasure.

I was a voracious reader as a kid, it slowed down in my teen years and came to a screeching halt in college when I was forced to read textbooks that gave sawdust a run for its money in being interesting.

Lately I have been doing more reading in an effort to reduce the number of books in my house, to offset the crummy weather and no where to go pandemic boredom.  Also my pandemic pudge needs to go, so book in hand keeps hand out of mouth or so I am hoping.

It has been so interesting  to see what books I am choosing to read or maybe what I am not reading.

I could choose from one of the many  Pulitzer Prize winners, best sellers or a book from one of the endless celebrity book clubs made famous by Oprah. And yet those types of books rarely work for me.  I tried twice ( real book and audio) to get through “Olive Kitteridge” , a Pulitzer Prize winner, and I just couldn’t do it.  I could not believe it won that prestigious prize. Best sellers can also be great but when they are really awful I wonder how many have been “sold” but never read.

As far as the books go from the celebrity book clubs I am often puzzled  as to why they would choose a certain book.  I tried to read some of Oprah’s selections but honestly I found the ones I chose to be dark and dreary.  I actually purchased “Lovely Bones” and read it .  It has the distinction of being the only new book I have ever thrown out.  It was so disturbing I could not give it to a friend to read.   I was not going to be responsible for wasting someone else’s time with such a creepy book.

I have learned not to post about a book I did not like on social media. Okay..maybe I just did in that last paragraph but I will risk it. People take their book loves very personally and if you dare to say you didn’t like it they act like you said their kid was ugly.  Wow!  Then they will plead with you to try again.  If I have to struggle to get through the first 50-100 pages then it is a no go.  Try again?  Probably not.  Life is too short to read books that I  don’t like no matter how many people love them.

So back to my wise and wonderful 8 year old self. 🙂  I have fond memories of climbing the winding stairs of the old library in our town.  Sometimes I would race up them to get to the children’s section.  I would plop myself down on the scuffed up wooden floor in front of the shelves and start looking, pulling out the ones that interested me, reading a few pages, putting it back or deciding it was a keeper.  Without lists, suggestions or book clubs I managed to pick out some gems:

  • The Secret Garden
  • Stuart Little
  • Caddie Woodlawn
  • Henry and Beezus ( actually anything by Beverly Cleary)
  • Harriet the Spy
  • Nancy Drew ( The Ghost of Blackwood Hall scared the pants off me)

 

Much like the imaginary friend I had when I was five, I now take my 8 year old self with me to the library, the bookstore or where ever I find myself looking at books which is just about everywhere I go.  Together we pick out books that I often can’t put down.

Trust yourself like you did when you were a kid.  Read what you love whether it’s  fantasy, romance novels, thrillers, classics, comic books or Sci fi.   What YOU love…nobody else has to love it. As long as it brings you joy than it’s the best book for you!

So here’s to you next best read…may it make your February days warmer and transport you to another time and place..a mini vacation pandemic style!

And as always..keep triing!  Jennifer

P.S.  If you want to know what I am reading you can find me on GoodReads where I sometimes ( tri) to list the books I have read.

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday..Spread kindness like glitter

I lost a friend to cancer the morning of December 24th.  She did not want to leave her family, husband, kids, grandkids or friends.  She was not so much concerned for herself but for them.

I have another friend who is awaiting test results.  She is hoping for good news.  Not so much for herself but for her family and especially for her recently widowed mother.

So many are fighting battles out there. Battles that they entered unwillingly and have little control over and yet their concern is for  those around them.

So I’m asking you on their behalf and those like them that just for today to be a little kinder, a little more forgiving, slower to anger, better at scrolling past social media posts  and not leaving comments you may end up regretting.

Let us love more, smile always and find new ways to be thoughtful.

We can all benefit.   Your thoughtfulness may make someones’ day just that much better and no doubt yours as well.

Those small acts of goodness are like a handful of glitter..it sparkles, it spreads brightness and once scattered  it goes everywhere.  Let’s put a little more kindness glitter in the world and make it sparkle.

Go be that sparkle of kindness ..makes you smile just thinking about it doesn’t it?

And as always..go make it a thoughtful one…with a little glitter:)

Jennifer

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The Perfectly Imperfect Christmas Tree

Every single year on the day after Christmas I make myself the same promise.  Next year will be different, next year I will be the one that has it all together for the holidays.  My shopping will be done early, the decorations will be up right after Thanksgiving, cards will be mailed out on time and I will sit back and relax and enjoy the holidays.   Oh and my tree will be one of those gorgeous ones that everyone ooos and ahhs over.

Oh yes…except it didn’t happen this year and it probably won’t ever happen.  Not just because of Covid and all the crazy things that happened this year but because it is just who I am.  Would it really be Christmas if I didn’t feel like my hair was on fire at least once?  Nope!

Honestly I think its in my DNA .  I will never be one of those people that has it all together all at the same time and at my age I am waving the white flag.  It’s who I am and it’s never going to change.

I KNOW I am not alone.

Let’s just take the tree for example.  For years when I was very young the tree didn’t go up until Christmas eve (my friends that put their tree up in Oct are going to need to be revived).  It is true. Oh and Santa dropped it off. One year my parents laughed and laughed because when the tree was delivered (I guess Santa just dropped it from the sky) it leaned to one side and evidently the Christmas tree place where Santa got it was next to a nudist colony. Wait , what?

For one I was too young to know what a nudist colony was and just now as I was thinking about it I realized that we lived in Indiana.  A nudist colony in December in Indiana?  Those are some hardy people.

We had Christmas tree lights that were so hot I’m surprised the tree didn’t catch on fire and we took great joy in just flinging that silver tinsel everywhere despite my mothers repeated requests that we “place” the tinsel carefully on the tree.  That just never happened.Who me? Iwasn't throwing the tinsel!

Who me?  I didn’t throw any tinsel!

So is it any wonder with that history I am unable to create a tree with the perfectly placed ornaments that are uniform in size and  all the same shade of red and green, while the base is surrounded by a variety of perfectly blooming poinsettias?

I thought about it this year as we pulled out the decorations.  At the base of the tree is the Christmas tree skirt I made when we were newly married and had no money. It is a patchwork of red and green squares. It is a reminder of simpler times, and has seen more than 40 Christmas’, 3 children, 6 grandkids and many friends.  On the branches are the photo ornaments of our children on their first Christmas, macaroni and falling apart construction paper ornaments,  decorations from all the different places we have lived, pets that have loved and left us and the pipe cleaner angels and a ballerina that adorned my parents tree for more than 60 years.  I am honored to place them on our tree.

So House Beautiful won’t be calling to photograph our tree, and my hair will catch on fire at least once before Christmas actually arrives. There will be at least one Christmas gift that gets lost before it is wrapped and one room in my house ( or maybe two) that looks like a wrapping paper bomb went off in it. We may or may not get a family Christmas photo with everyone looking at the camera and unlike last years photo my youngest grandson will NOT be flipping everyone off  AND I will forget and burn the rolls.

You have your traditions we have ours and burnt rolls is one of them.

Oh and before all this happens I will have to refrain myself from strangling the person who tells me how all their shopping is done, wrapped and cards mailed on Nov. 30th.

Just in case I do lose control the above is NOT a confession even though it looks like one.

Our tree and our Christmas will be perfectly imperfect.  We will do what we do best, laugh, make more memories and hope the macaroni ornaments hang on for one more Christmas because those are my favorites!

May your holiday be one filled with laughter and the blessings of family and friends even if we are all on Zoom.  Oh and I am here with the fire extinguisher for those hair on fire moments…plus lots of wine.

As always..doing what I do best..I keep triing.

 

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday : I will always be up for you..even if it’s 3am

I have been kind of absent here.  I had good intentions to get posts written but real life got in the way and then there is my dedication to procrastination.  I have written dozens of posts in my head but somehow they never made it onto paper or on the computer.

In a nutshell our experience with Covid 19 had an added dimension.  So much so that the quarantine was on top of me before I knew it.  I was like..wait, what?  Right before it reared its ugly head my elderly mother suffered a stroke.  The neurologist ( via the computer screen) assured us that it was the best kind of stroke to have and all of her deficits would resolve.

I wish I could remember his name because honestly I would like to egg his house or at least tell him he was so wrong.

You see while my mother suffered no physical deficits from the stroke it threw her into dementia.  She could not return to her independent living apartment and by the time she got out of rehab Covid 19 had actually locked her out of the facility. We ended up bringing her to our house.  For the sake of the quarantine it was the best option but with it came a ton of other problems including keeping her safe as she constantly tried to get out of the house.

About an hour away from me, my best friend, had a similar situation.  Her mother in law was gravely ill.  She needed round the clock caretakers and in July entered hospice.

She was my lifeline and I hope I was hers.  She was the person I could talk to…as in I could say anything to her and there was no judgement, no shoulding, no criticism.   We gave each other unconditional love and understanding.

We understood moving up cocktail hour a few hours, tears, frustrations, paperwork, the need to vent, and lots of dark humor which we both desperately needed.  We shared resources, tips and tricks and became each others “pushers” as in “hey this is on sale”  or “I just added this to my cart and thought of you.”

Our situations both changed in July.  We made the difficult but needed decision to move my mother to Memory Care and sadly Debbie’s mother in law ( who I knew and loved dearly) succumbed to cancer.

All through this we would get texts from each other “you up?”  the answer was always YES!  I recently told her that if she had texted me at 3am ( and I heard it) the answer would still be yes and I know the same is true for her.

Our situations continue in one form or another.  My mothers dementia is increasing and that is painful to watch.  Debbie is dealing with tying up all the paperwork, selling the house etc.  We continue to be there for each other.

We met for lunch this week for a belated birthday celebration ( her birthday was in June) and she had a gift for me.

Her mother in law had received it from her best friend and now Debbie was passing it on.  I love that it is continuing it’s journey to another set of best friends.  The fact that it came from Carol made it even more special.

Truer words were never spoken:

 

So on this Thoughtful Thursday if you are lucky enough to have a best friend, call her, text her, send her flowers because she is to be treasured!  Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One !

P.S.  A photo of Debbie and me..its about 10 yrs old but hey thats what best friends do 🙂

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