Intentional Gratitude

Cherish. Thankful. Things held dear. Highly regarded. Motivating.

It’s hard to believe it has been six months since I last blogged, and yet my work life has been in a beautiful transition for which I am most grateful.

Having crossed over to the world of advertising from that of journalism, I find the two worlds, although somewhat different, are similar and that makes me smile.

As we enter now this Thankful season, I think of all the things I hold dear.

Specifically, God and people.

God, because I love that I have a Creator Who is the Ultimate Artist. Just that He exists gives me hope for each day. Purpose. Knowing that I can share each day with the Unseen Seen, the Ancient of Days, the First and the Last inspires me to creatively love and move in gratitude for each day.

People, because they are blessings on the move. The planet awakes and pursues the day’s activities and it is totally and completely marvelous.


Yet we know life is not always pleasant and that in spite of God and kind people and beauty in nature and the feeling of the crisp autumn breeze, we experience frustration, tragedy, setbacks, pain, things out of place.

There is no what to do list, per say.

Yet intentional Gratitude remains.

We can get lost in the misery of the day or choose to rake it, like a pile of dead leaves to the side and keep on moving.

Intentional Gratitude is focusing on my blessings and not on the day’s shortcomings. We both acknowledge the real .. while also adding the positive.

The Thanksgiving season is a pivotal time of year in which I challenge myself to remember the little things: a conversation with a friend, my favorite song on the radio, the smile of a kid eating an ice cream cone, the laughter from a bunch of office peeps who know how to have fun, an answered prayer, sunrise, sunset, and more.

Yet gratitude is a choice and sometimes requires effort on my part to focus on the positive.

Outside, it appears to be a foggy morning. The angels on my window sill seem to greet the day, a wonderful reminder for me to do the same.

May blessings chase us today, and may we all find happiness in these precious moments of the season.

There goes the light bulb again

Oh bother.

After requesting to cancel my gym membership, a very sweet marketing text came from the company telling me they could just freeze my account until I felt like returning to the gym.

A workout outfit.

Saw a lady all jazzed up in her workout clothes and thought just how stinking cute workout clothes are and how much fun they are to wear.

And you know what happened.

I sent a text to my bestie and said I changed my mind and after our girls trip, I will get serious about working out.

“What made you change your mind?” she asked.

Everyone needs that one friend who untangles your mental spaghetti.

And lays it straight.

“Well, I need it,” I said.

Not to mention when I am at home I can think about a billion other things to do.

The list.

As we have been talking about hopes, dreams, goals and plans, I penciled a list in a small wire bound castaway old notebook that got mashed in the bottom of my camera bag.

Worthy notes, indeed, on dog eared pages.

Exercise today was supposed to be “walk around the yard.” Instead, it was send some cards to friends and tote stuff from the front passenger seat of my car to the trunk so I could take my car to the car spa.

If cars could talk, she would sigh, chew her mint gum and file her nails as she batted her eyelashes at me.

She clearly knew I was not going to fetch out my box of tools, two beach chairs, small bag of newspapers, one overstuffed choir folder and a few pairs of shoes and who knows how many sweaters are hanging around in there. There might even be a roll of toilet paper. Lol. (Duh, fishing bait, or a square to spare if in the middle of nowhere or something like that. Grandma said it was essential and I in my adult life has never used the bathroom outdoors, we just don’t do that any more !!) Nevertheless, it’s there. Along with a battery-less flashlight. And a jar of peanut butter. And a beach towel.

And a few cloth grocery bags.

(Says me to the people reading this laughing, don’t judge me.)

So I made my list and put my chores on there, quiet time with prayer, write articles and make phone calls, visit the hairdresser for root color and a trim, visit the car spa for an overall cleaning, go to the grocery store, write another article, return to the house and cook a batch of turkey to freeze, two pans of meatballs for supper with spaghetti, bread and salad, freeze five bowls of chili, pet the cat multiple times, eat supper and run downtown to shoot photos for a magazine.

For sure, a productive day.


I guess my tennis shoes are running to catch up to me today.

My plan worked.

I got my steps in.

Just hello

My tennis shoes lay in a corner and suddenly I feel guilty.

On the list I made (of goals and dreams) was the dreaded “workout.”

At one time, I can’t say I dreaded going to the gym. I lived right down the street and it was no big deal.

But now, it is not just the act of exercising, but traveling to get there, paying for gas that is high and somehow, I see it as one more brick to carry instead of what it is meant to be.

Add to that the cost. Albeit nominal for my membership.

And then there is the traffic thing. So now to make it to my destination, I am fighting my gas bill and the traffic to get there.


Pulling weeds on a hot day will wear you out in central Florida.


It’s that time of year. The mosquitoes are everywhere and I am their ungracious host.

The thought occurred to me that if I walk more and just keep up with housework and gardening, that is enough. Add a few spot exercises and there you go.

I sent an email to cancel my membership because I can’t stand to waste money.

I tried to post the going back to the gym photo (we’ve all seen it) to further motivate myself.

Tell me you have not thought the same thing.

A very famous singer I admire was asked in a news interview if she went to the gym and she said she was not really into that.

She does strength training at home and dances around the house.

So there you go.

My tennis shoes just wanted to say ..


A Dream is a Hope Planned in Advance

Today I awoke with a plan.

Life things, you know. Laundry. Wash dishes. Clean the bathroom. Return phone calls. Check emails.

I love cleaning house and I know that seems weird.

Who doesn’t love the smell of soap? And clean laundry swishing about in the dryer?


My bestie and I are just a week and a half away from our yearly girls trip to my home state and also to another state where my oldest daughter and her family live.

This is the time of year when all my creativity dances like fireflies on an Indiana hill in the summer.

I love to travel and see new things, and explore our country and its people.

Things like a painted barn make me smile. So do cows. And chickens on the run.

Old houses. Apple orchards. And more.

I love visiting my family.

My annual trip is a must for me. In a perfect world, I could make that trip, in various capacities, a few times a year.

Instead of saying see you next year, it would be a few months.

So one of my dreams is to make enough money to both take care of my usual and do several trips a year. And perhaps wrap some book signing into that, and maybe a couple speaking engagements, to help fund that.

Everyone, I believe, has dreams beyond the ordinary.

Over dinner tonight with friends, we all discussed what kind of cars we would have if we were wealthy.

(I don’t prefer the word rich. I am rich because my life is richly filled with church, family and friends. Wealth is material and money based.)

One said a friend of theirs saw a Rolls Royce they’d like to have.

I said no way.

Give me a king cab pickup truck fully loaded and a Jeep Wrangler the same, and we are good.

Well my friend reminded me, that hey you need your everyday car.

Hmm. Well. Maybe a Dodge Charger.


But given the present cost of gas, I am so glad I don’t have a truck or a Jeep.

Wealthy to me: I want to be established enough that I not only take care of my own bills (which I have been doing for years), but also being able to contribute in great ways.

A philanthropist.

Dreams run on hopes and as long as hope exists, we have dreams.

So where does planning come in?

If I have a dream to take an extra trip next year, or send a special gift, or fund an activity, I have to plan. Scribble some figures, save a little here and there.

I can’t tell you how often I have heard people say if I only had the money for ….

And these days, it seems to be more of a challenge.

Some dreams don’t involve money.

Sticktuitiveness. (There is a red line under this word as I type. I assume it is not a word. But I have used it for years.)

When I think of people who go to work the same job every day for years and years, I see someone who whether they meant to dream that way or not, already is accomplishing their dream just the same.

They showed up. Again. And again.

There are authors I know who started with a notebook and pen, literally. They would submit and submit and resubmit, until being rejected again. And then they resubmit.

Another try. And another try.

Moves are as valuable as a monetary resource.

How many of our goals involve money? How many require consistency? And how many simply unfold as we take the first step?

Fear not .. Focus, yes

Stage fright.

I started to sing at church a solo I had practiced millions of times. I was certain at the tender age of 11 or so that it was my calling.


Lost my place. Lost the tune. Nearly cried. We started over and my voice was crackling so much I could hardly hear the piano.

Stage left, quickly.

A blue dress. Five years later, on a date, entered a beauty pageant. I had no talent. So I needed to deliver a talk.

The girl on the stage before me lost her place and left the stage quickly.

I went out and suddenly, my voice crackled and I was so nervous as I forgot where I was in my speech. In front of hundreds, I bombed out.

My story was over, unfinished.

Someone sent a messenger telling me the judges said I would place in the pageant if I could give it another try, so I did.

And nailed it. And placed.

Public speaking and fear of heights, I have heard, are the two biggest fears common to man.

A speech class at Polk State College in Winter Haven, and a great deal of speaking experience with a previous job helped me get over those butterflies.

I no longer get nervous in front of a crowd.

That said.

You won’t find me taking a ride in a hot air balloon or buying a flight on a space shuttle anytime soon.

Other fears can get in the way of our dreams.

The fear of failure is real.

So we see fear or lack of, or reasonable calculation and careful planning .. all affect our dreams.

I love listening to self help talks. Even if they sometimes seem repetitive. Mostly, because everyone has a story, and the takes on their stories and the way they accomplish their dreams is amazing.

When was the last time you leaped a hurdle on the track of the dreams you have set out for yourself?

Every day, another step.

Focus on the next step, and soon another will follow.

Sometimes we fear failure so much we are afraid to try.

Faith and dream chasing

Start to talk about Jesus, there might be crickets in the room. But stick with me, please.

This morning, I was listening to one of Rick Warren’s talks from his “Peace Plan,” and at 5 a.m. with coffee in one hand and a pen in the other, heard him say that we are to dream big dreams and if we dream a dream that does not require the help of God, then it is too small a dream.

He talked about how we listen to public speakers who tell each of us that we can be anything we want to be, and how he disagrees with that. He says we each have specific things that we are “shaped to do.”


Basically, it goes that if you are in the right occupation, for example, then there is less stress and your job is fun.

I love it! Yes, and yes. I love to write and every time I write, I feel a creative fulfillment, especially now that I am writing both news and feature articles, as well as pursuing creative writing (books underway) and my blog.

Writing is one of those things that seems so natural to me.

I have various dreams that involve writing.


There is that word.

These days, for many reasons, people quietly take in bits of faith or spiritual encouragement and avoid discussion at times because as Grandma always said, “avoid talk about politics and religion.”

Yet my Dad and Granddad would sit in opposite chairs and go at both subjects for hours!

When I think of faith in my own life, I am quick to criticize my lack thereof at times. Maybe that is natural too .. master of your own destiny so to speak.

I have heard it said, well God gave you a brain.

Faith has been described to me over the years in a number of ways.

“Let go, let God,” one says, while another says “God’s got this,” and another “He won’t bless you unless you have faith.”

If we take a leap of faith, it could be a calculated leap of faith, the kind of leap where you make a plan, and somehow know you will need Divine assistance.

I am not one to run a haphazard budget.

I know to the cent most days what available funds I have for basic things and other things not so basic. We all agree the cost of living is ridiculous these days and those back yards of chickens, goats, pigs and produce look better and better all the time.

Self sufficiency is one mantra that helps us all get through.

So when I think of faith and dreams, I think I am not going to limit myself that way. I might have one dream and God suddenly brings something into my life I had not considered.

Is faith and dreaming the same thing?

I can only draw on my own experience, and you can likewise draw on yours.

Thus far, I see a golden thread that knits together my dreams with faith that somehow, they will come true, while also anticipating that as my charismatic friends say, “God shows up.”

I need to update my list of dreams. There are a few things I have not added. Plans? Yes. Hopes? Absolutely. Fears? We should talk about that.

Maybe tomorrow? Let’s explore how our fears interfere with our dreams.

Make the time

I didn’t wear a watch for years.

As a young mom at home with my babies, our schedule was governed by the alarm clock (essential for me to have a cup of coffee and gather my motivation for the day), sunrise, breakfast, lunch, supper and bath time.

Looking back at those years, I am amazed at the energy I had.

Prioritizing became so important to me in those days. Do what matters.

Time marches on.

I think any person that has been a stay at home parent deserves a degree of some sort.

We also homeschooled.


I started watch wearing when I started working at a bank. It seemed like the thing to do, to seem more professional and with it.

Now I wear a Fitbit and it talks to me occasionally. I and my watch are one.

It seems we hurry everywhere these days.

With technology advancements, we have more time than ever. Yet less?

I try to take advantage of little moments here and there. Make the phone call. Write the blog. Pay a bill. Water the plants.

Cleaning my car, spring cleaning the house and working out are all little plates that spin about my head. Other necessary things to do. I applauded myself for getting two bags of items to a non-profit for donation. It is a start.

So we see life sometimes crowds out our dream planning, dream musing, or even our dream actualization.

Where we really do something we always wanted to do.

I feel like news reporting and creative writing are two of my dreams that have come true. It is funny that this road started with me telling my friends that yes, I was a customer service rep at a medical facility, and write on the side.

I wish I could have a nickel for every time someone said “writing, huh, don’t give up your day job,” obviously kidding but also slightly out of scepticism as to whether I would reach my dream.

Ha, ha!! Of course, we know the rest. Writing is my job, and more than that, a passion. It’s my way to make a difference in this world and learn more about other people and their stories, which inspire me.

Time. It is the little moments that count. Little motions. Little moves.

How many minutes did you spend today planning your dreams?

The clock is ticking

For a few days now, we have been discussing dreams and plans. Yesterday we learned what to put on our list of dreams, and yet without a corresponding action or plan, we get nowhere.

Every goal has a deadline.

Reporters and editors are familiar with this language. Everyone in the sales world, likewise. To know the time, or best time, to launch a project is paramount to its success.

And we have heard it said that hey, everyone has 24 hours in a day. The sun comes up and goes down, and there we are, looking at our lists.


I sit in wonder at people who are skilled in the world of time management. A lot can be accomplished when the puzzle pieces make sense.

But what does making sense have to do with time management? And dreams?

Streamlining is a word I love. To me, it is how one rises in the morning, enjoys a cup of coffee and after morning devotions, hits the day with gusto.

(Gusto can be hard to come by, but this is not the topic of said blog for today, ha, ha.)

Streamlining is where I line up the activities of my life, the necessary moves, so that at some point in the day I have time to dedicate to my creativity. For you, it might be having enough time to conquer a billion piece project that requires both time and patience.

For me, it is the chance to let my creative side flow and also allows me “planning” time. This is when I feel most fulfilled as a person.

While it is true that often, our dreams and plans fall on the floor like a basket of fresh eggs, splat .. also true is that when we have the list, the intention and the determination to make time for our dreams, at least some of them come true.

Let’s all agree to look at our schedules, and see if there are small pockets of time we can dedicate to our dreams.

More on time management, tomorrow.

It is now time to crochet.

That is all.

Dreams or plans, one and the same?

If you were asked to describe your hopes, dreams and plans, what would you say?

I always like to add “if money was not an issue,” as that and scheduling are two dream blasters.

“Alaska,” my friend said. A dispatcher at a local hospital, most of her waking time was spent making those connections .. all .. day … long.

When I saw her post the photos on her timeline, I knew. She reached her dream. Then came the stories of Alaska in the spring. Of what a typical day looks like. And how big the plants get.

Day planners. Calendars. Lists. Bulletin boards.

I guess it is one thing to say “hey I am dreaming of one day ….” And then you fill in the blank, and actually do it. Or not?

We hear people talk about winning the lottery, finding their pot of gold, hitting it big or their ship may one day “come in.”

The sun sets. The sun rises. And we find we are no closer to our goals than we were before.

One woman, when asked to describe her dream vacation, went into great detail. Every move, every plan. How much it would cost. Where she would go next. I was like wowwww. Now there is a planner.

So I looked at my own dreams. And plans. Suddenly it made sense why some of my dreams came true and some did not. (Although truth be told, sometimes your dreams can change as time goes on. Maybe you learned something new to add to your list of dreams.)

A plan.

Some folks are list makers and others ‘movers and shakers,’ some like to go with the flow and others swim against it.

I’m a list maker. Mundane notes of where to go, what is needed, maybe something inspirational I heard, an observation or a hmmm.

One plan I have .. since this is the month of June .. is to make a plan on paper. (No special reason why I picked June, it’s just hey, it’s June!) Corporations, large organizations, non-profits, government entities, and even churches do this.

A 100 page report of a “strategic plan.”

What is yours?

Tomorrow we will talk about “Where do I start?”

Life is an adventure. But it doesn’t have to be haphazard.

Grow your dreams

At present moment, the weekend half over, I sit and ponder a thought that hit me earlier today.

It started with a cup of coffee.

I was having a morning coffee with a friend and suddenly, she said “Wow, that cup went fast.”

And that is when I realized she was drinking from a smaller cup than usual.

So of course, the cup went fast!

But then I was thinking, as thinkers often do, of other sudden epiphanies .. and realized .. the same is true in life.

Grab a small cup, get a small cup. Choose a larger cup and fill it up, and perhaps that will hit the spot.

When we dream of things we’d like to see come to fruition in our lives, I wonder if too often, we inadvertently grab the smaller cup.

The quick cup. The safe cup.

The routine cup.

The same as yesterday and so forth.

A hair salon.

I was getting a haircut one day and a friend passed by and of course as you do, greet one another and hey how are you.

He asked me about my blog. And what about the YouTube channel.

I was speechless and found myself suddenly trying to figure out where it all went. Time has passed.

Did I grab the small cup?

The newsroom.

I so love the smell of newsrooms.

I am so grateful that I have grabbed the larger cup and have made room to fill it up with my dreams. Freelance full-time, write my next several books, get busy on creating a YouTube channel.

This friend does not know, but running into him changed the course of my life for the better. My creativity has returned and somehow, I have found my purpose again.

So there. A coffee cup. A haircut. And a newsroom.

What does your dream look like, and what are you going to do to bring it to pass? Everyone has a purpose in life.

Tomorrow, let’s talk about plans.