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Can you get your happy back?

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How do you make yourself happy?


I overheard my 11 year old daughter tell her friend “my mom doesn’t laugh very much.”

WOW!!  That sucks to hear from your own child.  I feel horrible for her. What kind of mom am I?  Well, in that exact moment, I felt like a pretty shitty one. 

My life has not been an easy one and it has taken it’s toll on me. But now, it’s clear that I’m not the only one it has taken a toll on. How do I fix this?  I’m not genuinely happy and I haven’t been in a long time. Honestly, other than some good days here and there, I think happiness abandoned me as a small child. I thought I had done a better job at not letting my past affect my life now. I thought I did a good job of hiding all my pain. Maybe I have done ok at hiding the pain, but clearly I failed at faking happiness. 

I don’t want to be the mom who doesn’t laugh. I want my kids to have fun with me. How do I get my happiness back?  Where do you find it when it’s been missing for over 30 years?

Any suggestions?

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Death Sentence

Death Sentence

What would you do if you were just told you only had a few months to live?  Would you give up or would you try to do as much as you can in the time you have left?

In the last few days, I have found out that several people I know are struggling with very serious medical issues and it has me thinking about how precious life is and how there is no guarantee that we will even live past today.

I can’t help but feel tremendous sadness today knowing that someone I care about has very little time left on this earth.  How do you prepare yourself for losing someone?  Sure, everyone is going to die someday.  I can only hope that those I care about will go to the same place for their forever life that I’m going, but there is so much uncertainty.  Even if they go to Heaven, will I see them again?  Sometimes people come into your life for such a short time but make a very lasting impression.   What if I didn’t make enough of an impression on them, will they remember me in Heaven?

The most precious commodity in our lives is time.  There is never enough of it and once it is gone, you can’t get it back.  Don’t waste today.  Do something positive with your day. Make it memorable.

 

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Terrorism and hate

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Terrorism:
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

Every week now it seems there is some sort of attack somewhere in the world.  Most they label terrorist acts, but if you ask me, they are all terrorist acts.  Maybe not all are found to be the work of ISIS, but based on the definition above, it’s still terrorism.

We are breeding terrorism everyday with all the racism and supremacy.  We live in a world where we are all labeled in some way.  Either by color, economic status, disability, frailty, geographical location, etc.  What is the world coming to?  What happened to “treat those as you would like to be treated“, or “two wrongs don’t make a right“?  What happened to we are all one race…the human race?  Why do some feel they are better or more superior than others?  Why do they feel the need to hurt others because of it?

I am sickened by what the media reports day in and day out.  Here in the US, we are experiencing the beginnings of a race war and a war against police.  Of course those wars have always existed sporadically at different times and different places, but it is escalating to a place that no one can feel safe anymore.  I know I don’t even living in a small town in Northern Michigan.

Not all police are bad, but just as is in any profession, some are good and some are bad.  There are good cops who are losing their lives not only because of the actions of bad cops, but as a result of ignorance and vengeance.  No, let me change that…stupidity, not ignorance.  This is senseless.  Something’s gotta give.  If our police have to watch over their shoulders to protect themselves, how are they going to protect us from all the other bad in the world?  Why are we as a people allowing this type of behavior?  Why do we glorify it through social media and news outlets?  Why do people pull out their phones and video everything they see and then publish their version or just half of the truth only to get people fired up and lashing out?  It is ridiculous and I’m done with it!  I’m done allowing it!  I will no longer sit quietly in my little bubble and not do my part.

They say it only takes one to move a mountain so that’s what I’m going to do.  I say we start a different kind of movement.  A movement to stop allowing social media and news outlets to twist and turn the mistakes people make into a reason to attack.  A movement to stop hate and senseless violence.  Stop encouraging or allowing the drama through social media.

Get off your high horses people and stop blaming and punishing others.  When riots break out or snipers attack police, it’s not just that officer or his family that suffers.  It is our nation as a whole that suffers.  We all feel the pain or at least we should.  If you think retaliating against a different group of people makes up for the death of someone, you are sadly mistaken.  If you think you are sending a message to stop the shooting of innocent people you are sadly mistaken.  It’s not about black or white or red or blue…it’s about hate and hate breeds more hate.  Hate is what is destroying our world and our race.  It is hate that is filling cemeteries and breaking the hearts of children.  Hate is what we are teaching children.  Hate is what our children’s children have to look forward to.  Is that what you want?  I know I don’t.

No Hate, Action, Against Cyberbullying, Hashtag

If you want to get mad, get mad, but do something useful with that anger.  Don’t use it to hurt others or make things worse.  Make a difference.  Help move that mountain.  Join forces with others that want to make a difference and push through the hate.  Teach your children not to hate, teach them forgiveness and acceptance.  Teach them respect and humility.  Teach them to care for one another.  Teach them by example.

 

 

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Trees and Me

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So if you saw my post a few months ago about trees, you will see that I am obsessed with trees.  I am fascinated by them.  Sometimes I find myself staring in absolute awe of them.

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A couple of months ago when northern Michigan started to thaw, my youngest daughter and I took a trip out to a scenic park called Seven Bridges.  I had heard great things about this place several times from other Michiganders and decided to finally go check it out.  It isn’t a large place and it’s really a stretch to say they have seven bridges but for a tree lover, it was absolutely beautiful.  There were so many fascinating trees, trees with such character and personality.  Many of them had fallen and were ripped out of the ground roots and all by a major wind storm we had last fall.  Some were split and broken at the middle exposing their inner souls.  I must have taken over 100 pictures.

 

I look at trees and I wonder what kind of life they have experienced.  Like humans, some appear to have had a near perfect life with no bumps or bruises growing tall into the sky straight and unwavering while others have clearly experienced some sort of trauma shown in the way they have what some would consider deformations.  Those were the most beautiful to me.
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Call me crazy, but I’ve spent a lot of time reading, drawing, and thinking about trees and the symbolism they represent.  To me trees are symbolic of life…yeah yeah call me Captain Obvious…but seriously if you think about it trees are the perfect representation of life.  They start from a small seed and grow extending out their branches.  When they are young, they are fragile and can easily be broken or injured.  Their injuries lead to scars or deformations.  As they get older, their bark begins to crack and peel.  Through-out their long lives they have developed strong roots stretching farther than we can even imagine.  They have seasons where they blossom and bloom and others where they transform their beauty into the rawest form when all their leaves fall off and prepare for regrowth.  They also care for all creatures by providing much-needed shelter and shade from the sun and protection from the elements.  Do you see what I mean?  Trees are amazing.  An amazing gift from God, a beautiful representation of life.  I am beyond obsessed with them.
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Half Empty or Half Full?

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field-328962_1280Which one are you?  The glass is half empty or The glass is half full?

I’m pretty sure that I usually say my glass is half full.  When I’m out to eat and the server comes by to ask if I want a refill…if my glass is still half full I usually say not yet.  You see, I like to drink iced tea and I usually order unsweetened so that I can add just the right amount of sweetener for me. (The sweet tea is just a bit too sweet for me)  I don’t want her to add more unsweetened tea as I have it just where I like it.  I wait until the glass is almost empty before I get a refill.

In less literal terms, looking at things more as half full rather than half empty refers to how you look at life.  I try to be more positive especially when others find it more difficult.  My husband, on the other hand, is definitely a glass is half empty kind of person.  I find it less stressful to lean more to the positive side instead of looking at life more negatively.  Now don’t get me wrong…I have my days.  Those days when nothing is going right and you make sure the whole world knows about it. Yeah, I think we all have those days no matter how we look at our glass.

Do you know someone who is a glass is half empty person?  Are you that person?  It’s okay, I suppose, but wouldn’t you rather look at things in a more positive perspective?  There is always someone who has it better than you and there is always someone who has it worse than you.  That’s just life.  Being somewhere in the middle isn’t bad.  It gives you something to work towards and let’s you know that you’ve made some progress.

Life is full of obstacles and challenges.  How you look at it is really what matters.  Take the bad with the good, just don’t get lost in the bad.  Let the good outweigh the bad.  You can’t live life to the fullest if you are constantly focusing on what you don’t have or what went wrong.  Take it, learn from it, and move past it.  Start today…be a glass is half full type of person.

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If you don’t, who will?

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Believe in Yourself

When I worked for the Prosecutor’s office, this was the most important message I could give to the victims of domestic or sexual assault.  It was one of many things taken away from them by their abuser.  They didn’t believe in themselves.

Time and time again, I heard “I can’t do it” or “I won’t be able to do it without him”.  If there was nothing else I could help them take back, I wanted to at least help them believe in themselves again.  If you believe in yourself, you can do pretty much anything you put your mind to.  You can conquer the world.

All through life, people will challenge us and belittle us and make us feel less than.  Sometimes it is intentional and many times it isn’t.  After years of intentional and unintentional belittling I lost all faith in myself.  I felt worthless.  I reached out for things and people who were less than what I deserved.  I thought I deserved less than.  I put up with a lot of crap that I shouldn’t have just because I didn’t think I deserved anything better.  It took decades to figure out, but boy was I wrong.  We all deserve better.  We shouldn’t settle for anything less than.  Don’t settle!  Fight for what you deserve!  Reach deep inside and see the beauty that God blessed you with and embrace it!  Embrace it with everything inside of you and never let it go again.

Believe in yourself!

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Stitches for Survivors

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Happy Monday everyone! I’m sorry I have been MIA lately.  I had been struggling a bit for a while and things just caught up to me so I needed to disappear for a bit.  I am back and feeling better again.

Stitches for Survivors

Since I have been gone, I began working on raising money for The Joyful Heart Foundation by making these really cute pillowcases.  I did a craft show this past Saturday and had them on display as well.  The craft show didn’t have a lot of shoppers so things were not all the great, but I did sell nearly half of what I had brought.  I was hoping to get some orders for more, but maybe next time.  In order to give the shoppers and fellow vendors a way to contact me if they wanted to order pillowcases, I created a Facebook store called Stitches for Survivors.  You can check it out here.  I will be making more pillowcases this week so be on the lookout for new designs.  If you would like to order something specific, maybe a particular color scheme, theme, or print just let me know.

The pillowcases are $12 per standard pillowcase or $20 for 2.  Queen pillowcases are $15 each or $25 for 2 and king size pillowcases are $18 ea or $30 for 2.  30% of all proceeds will go to The Joyful Heart Foundation to help put a stop to domestic and sexual violence.

Have a great week!

Don’t forget, please check out and like my new Facebook page called Stitches for Survivors.

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Better Me Challenge – Day 13

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tipping

The challenge for day 13 is to tip your server generously.  I’d like to think of myself as a decent tipper.  I spent several years waiting tables or bartending in my late teens and early twenties so I know how important those tips are.  A lot of people don’t realize how little servers make per hour.  Up until fairly recently, the hourly wage for servers was $2.13.  Nope, that is no typo…2 dollars and 13 cents…that is it.  So on those slow afternoons or Monday evenings when things are slow, many servers go home without even averaging out to minimum wage.  These are moms and dads trying to support their families, kids trying to pay for college, and just people trying to survive…on less than minimum wage.  Think about that the next time you go out for a meal or a few drinks.

I once tipped a server too much without even realizing it and it nearly cost me my new marriage.  My husband and I had our wedding reception at an awesome restaurant near us.  We reserved the back room and were given 3 servers to handle our needs.  These servers did a fabulous job and we were all very pleased at not only the service, but also the way they treated us and our guests on such an important and special day.  We had a small reception and I had figured it would cost around $2,000 for everyone’s meals and a few cocktails for each guest.  When the bill came, I took charge of it and gave the head server my credit card and when he returned, I tipped a little over 20% (or so I thought).  Our bill was only $1,300 and I, still having $2,000 in my head put $2,000 as the total leaving a $700 tip.  Normally I double the first number(s) which usually puts us at around 20%, but for some reason I instead divided by 2 which would have put us at $650 so I rounded up to $700.  In all actuality 20% would have been $260, not $650.  I had made $400 mistake.  How did it almost cost me my marriage?  Well, the head server was a very good looking younger guy and my husband thought that my overtipping was a way of flirting with him.  I had no idea that he even felt this way until one day about 2 months later he finally brought it up.  It broke my heart to know that my new husband thought I was flirting with another man on our wedding night and that he had kept it inside for so long.

I felt sick, like we almost had to pull over so I could throw up sick.  I felt horrible.  I apologized profusely to my husband reassuring him that I would never flirt with someone else and that it was an absolute oversight.  My punishment was that I was never allowed to tip anymore and I gladly accept that.  I didn’t really have to worry because my husband is a generous tipper anyway.

For this challenge, my husband and I stopped for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, one of our favorite places.  We had a great server.  His name was Jeff.  I had never seen him there before.  He greeted us promptly and took our drink order.  Suggested a few appetizers to think about while he was getting our drinks. He was very personable and not too pushy about ordering extras.  He came by the table to check on us at the perfect times and gave us time to eat without being interrupted while we tried to eat.  My husband even discussed that he was one of the best servers we had encountered.  Giving him a larger than usual tip was an easy task.  We walked out with smiles on our faces knowing that Jeff definitely earned a generous tip.

Day 13 is complete and once again, I am feeling better and better.

To see the full 21 day challenge, you can read Be a better you.

 

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Better Me Challenge – Day 12

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volunteer

My challenge for day 12 is to volunteer.  Volunteering can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life.  There are so many different ways you can volunteer.  Many people volunteer around Thanksgiving and Christmas by helping out with a soup kitchen or by buying presents for less fortunate kids.  There are so many other ways that we can volunteer all year long.  There is so much need out there.

When I lived in Texas, I volunteered quite a bit.  For 3 years I volunteered as a Child Advocate helping kids who were removed from their home due to neglect or abuse and temporarily placed with either a relative or a foster family.  My role was to meet with the kids, their caretakers and the parents for the length of the case making sure that the needs of the kids were met and the parents were following their service plan as required by the court.  I also went to court every few months on behalf of the kids and made suggestions to the judge for their care and their placement.  It was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.  My first case was a tough one, but ended well with the child being placed with their father.  I did have one tough experience where a parent realized that they would not be able to care for their twins and turned over their parental rights.  It was a very difficult case for me, but ultimately the kids were placed with a loving family that I am confident will give them a great life.

I also volunteered as a Girl Scout Leader for many years as well as a team captain and corporate lead for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for almost 10 years.  Doing for others is, in my opinion, a requirement for all of us.  It is what God wants us to do.

For this challenge, I decided to volunteer in a way that I never have before.  I live in a small rural area and there aren’t opportunities to volunteer as much as there was back in Texas so I had to do a little research.  I found an opportunity to volunteer with an organization that assists veterans who are homeless.  I have much respect for all our service men and women.  I have several men in my family who have and are serving our country so being able to help veterans is in a way honoring those in my family as well.  It was such an awesome experience to help these men and women.  There was such sadness in their eyes when they would walk in, but as many of them walked out the door, there was a smile on their face.  Making them feel important was the least I could do for them after all they have done for us.

I am so glad that I decided to do this challenge.  Each day has given me joy, pride, and strength.  I feel better about the person I am and I feel that I am teaching my children a valuable lesson that I hope they will carry on with them in their lives.

Challenge yourself…you might see that you like what you find inside of yourself.

You can read the full 21 day challenge here at Be a better you.

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Better Me Challenge – Day 10

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comfort zone

Day 10 challenge was to get out of my comfort zone.  Why is it so hard to get out of our comfort zone?  When I was younger I was not what you would call a shy person.  I was always very outgoing and surrounded myself with people.  Over the last several years that started to change.  When I left my abusive relationship for good a few years ago, I had to force myself to get out of the house.  I would make plans with one of my closest friends, but when the time came, I would make some excuse for why I wasn’t able to go and then I would stay home and watch a movie.  The closer and closer it got to when we were supposed to meet up, I would get super anxious.  It was more comfortable for me to just stay home by myself.  I hated that I was that way.  There were so many times that I wanted to just become a hermit and stay in my house, never leaving.  Unfortunately, being a hermit was not a realistic plan since I had children with busy schedules as well as a job dealing with people all day long.

Today, I am still somewhat apprehensive to get out at times.  I make plans a week ahead and then when the time comes, I try to back out.  Luckily my family makes me get up and get out of the house.

Getting out of your comfort zone could also mean doing something you wouldn’t normally do such as jumping out of an airplane or going to a movie by yourself.  Today’s challenge was more about doing something that I normally wouldn’t do so that is just what I did.  I have lived in my house for just over 2 years now and only know 2 of my neighbors; the ones that live next door to us and one a few houses down where one of my daughter’s friends lives.  Many of the houses on my street are summer rental properties since we live on the lake.  Many of them are vacant for a large part of the year.  There is however, a couple that live across the street year round.  I see the man outside all the time, but I’ve never acknowledged him.  I haven’t even waved at him as I’ve driven passed.  I’m not meaning to be rude, it just makes me really anxious to think about walking up to a stranger in my neighborhood.  I do have some left over trust issues as to be expected.  It’s one thing to approach a stranger in a public place, but one who knows where you live and when you are home alone is a different story for me.

Because of this challenge, I forced myself to walk over to his house when I saw him out picking up around the yard.  My heart was pounding and my palms were sweating but I made it all the way over there before he noticed me.  As I got just a few feet away he turned and saw me.  I startled him.  I immediately apologized for startling him and explained to him that I thought it was time to introduce myself.  He was very cordial and smiled in a way that put me at ease instantly.  He introduced himself and gave me the name of his wife who was not at home at the moment.  We briefly made small talk about the neighborhood and the fact that the weather was finally warming up enough to get outside to do yard work and then I let him get back to work and I walked back across the street with a big smile on my face.  I didn’t jump out of an airplane, but I was proud of myself for not letting my anxiety get in the way of being neighborly.

Stepping outside of my comfort zone was liberating.  It didn’t even kill me, ha ha. I think I will try to do things like this more often.  Especially if it makes me feel as strong as this did.

If you have something that makes you anxious, but has no real reason to, see if you can step outside your comfort zone.  Good luck!!

To see the entire 21 day challenge read Be a better you.