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.

Barriers.

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.


Freedom in the now

Where does your freedom find you today?

As I traveled over 3,000 miles across 9 different states in my yearly girls road trip with my bestie, it occurred to me that everywhere we went, people were doing life .. in the now.

Some of our trip was intertwined with family, suffering from age, infirmity and the isolation that comes from having lost a spouse.

The isolation contrasted the feeling of driving the many miles, viewing uncluttered and some undeveloped roads in America, where a small shack is a home, and laundry hangs between the trees on a limp clothesline at noon.

Majestic mountains hugged each other with forests that seemed eternal, even enchanted.

Freedom to a woman living in a nursing home is different than that of someone who has the means to move about the country and go to the store, or church, or even a hair appointment.

Those of us who are free to move about sometimes forget that not all are free.

How many moments do we waste complaining about small things .. the weather, other people, and maybe even things we do not have?

So this Independence Day, I ask myself, “What am I doing with my freedom? And am I using it to help others?”

A thoughtful, inspiring, and uplifting 4th of July.

I cherish the heritage of those in my family’s genealogy who fought for freedom. I also cherish that we all live and love on this earth together, a celebration of humanity.

The more of this beautiful world I see, the more I desire to explore it.

Have a blessed Independence Day!

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.

Gardening.

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

Bugs.

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 ..

Hello.

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.

Ahem.

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.”

Boom.

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.

Faith.

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.

Anyway.

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.

Time.

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 really matter

I stood and stared at the aquarium tanks, feeling as if I too was floating and exploring the depths .. of what .. my soul? My purpose?

The Florida Aquarium is one of my favorite places to visit. Although I am not adventurous enough to go scuba diving, I love the idea of being so close to marine life, and safe 🤩

(As opposed to swimming away from a hungry shark or being stung by one of the millions of jellyfish I admire.)

One might look at me and say (with a droll mouth, as some would do) well you live a boring life.

Anyway.

I told you yesterday we’d talk about how to get started with making a dreams list. Believe it or not, there are many who have never contemplated anything beyond this day. Not that it’s a bad way to live, and yet ..

“I want to travel,” said my friend. Having already put her foot in well over twenty states (or more, perhaps?) she still has places she wants to see.

So a dream list starts with things you find interesting. Your passion. Things that make you smile or that you find relaxing. Chill.

Add to that a few curious things. You know, those things you have considered but never seriously.

Ask a friend for a suggestion or two and add it to the list.

Cut out magazine photos of the places or things you would like to see. Paste them all on a board or tack them to a bulletin board.

The sky is the limit.

But when will you find the time?

Find we must.

More on that tomorrow.

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.

Focus on the positive

Ice froze a solid curtain on my vehicle windows this morning, and like everyone else in central Florida, I waited until my defroster cleared up all of my windows and mirrors until I ventured out to work.

After putting in four hours at work, the rest of the day was flex, so I thought hey I will clean the house.

(Yes I see you smile, you know where this is going.)

I felt certain that it would be a personally productive day because I made a list in my colorful day planner that I bought to make sure that 2022 was extra cheerful.

Starving, I grabbed a bag of nacho chips and a cup of coffee (yes, not a good snack for diabetics), and ate so many that I suddenly felt sleepy.

Well the back yard looked sunny.

After I stepped out, I sat in my chair by the now cold and empty fire pit. The sun felt great and gloriously warm on my face, and I seriously almost went to sleep in the yard.

(Aside from a wicked sunburn, I am sure that would have been refreshing.)

Talked to one of my kids a while. Watered flowers and took the sheets off them that I had wrapped around the bushes a few days before. It was as if the garden breathed a sigh of relief.

Squirrels barked at me from above, fatter than usual.

And after an hour outside, I thought hey I need to get on the cleaning.

Ha.

Went to the bathroom to fetch a brush out of my “hair utensils” drawer and the drawer stuck.

Well then it was “on.”

I unpacked the whole thing. The WHOLE thing.

Figured I probably saved about fifty bucks in hair barrettes and brushes because I found them all held captive by my eight different flat and curl irons.

And three fuzzy rollers.

After the hair purge, I felt pretty good, but it was time for coffee.

Well it is flex time, I thought, so I will take out that acrylic nail kit I got at the major retailer for like $8.

I remember telling my bestie, if I can master this, think how much money I can save. On nails that is.

No, I’m not vain. I’m very girlie. And nobody can dispute those suckers (acrylic nails) stay on pretty good.

Well.

Upon opening the bottle of acrylic I nearly gassed myself and that, yes, was through my N95 mask.

Heck, no.

I put the lid back on, and looked down at the nail tips I had glued on and thought well what am I going to do now?

I ran out the back door, gasping for clean air and turned the kitchen fan on.

(In my head, I felt stupid for thinking I could do my own acrylics.)

Hard pass.

So there went another hour and a half of my day, and I found myself frustrated.

But yet, it was a good day. I had a great conversation with my youngest daughter, spent some time in my garden, made Mexican casserole for supper and put away folded clothes.

Not too bad I guess 🙂

There is always a brighter side. Even when your list goes by the wayside. When your project doesn’t turn out. When you feel like you have failed, you really have not.

Tonight, as I listen to the Christmas Canon from TranSiberian Orchestra, I think of how grateful I am for this life. What a wonderful day. How blessed I am.