Friday, November 26, 2010

The Gift Of Gratitude

Today is known as Black Friday what it should be known as is the Debt Black Hole Friday. It is the day when normally sane people go crazy. I mean what do you call people who line up days in advance just so they can buy the latest gadget. When did Christmas become fighting to get something that will be forgotten soon after the package is opened? Gratitude is no longer a part of the holiday.

Christmas used to be know as Christ’s birthday now it is known for Santa Claus and who can out shop everyone. I remember when I was a kid getting one big gift that my brother and I would share and then a couple of small gifts. I was happy with what I got. It was called gratitude. Whatever happened to that? Now, if a kid doesn’t get all he or she wants, they are ready to call authorities to complain of being abused and neglected. The sad part, some parents would rather go into debt than explaining to their kids that Christmas will be lighter this year. On a local news show they were interviewing people who were having financial problems. One couple said they didn’t know how they were going to keep their home but they were going to give their kids a big Christmas. To me, their priorities are way off. Keeping the home is more important than the latest Wii game.

If you honestly think about it, what do you remember most about Christmas? Do you remember the gifts or the people you celebrated them with? If you asked me what I got three years ago I couldn’t remember for life or money. What I remember is the fun I had with the people I love. My best Christmas memory is when I knitted a throw for my best friend’s mom who was dying of brain tumors. She loved Christmas and we all prayed that she would be around for it. When she opened my gift the look on her eyes will always stay with me. She acted like I had given her the most expensive gift in the world. Anyone who came into the house would be called over to look at it. This wonderful woman was so grateful for something I had made. When I was working on it , I had people tell me why was I being so cheap.Why didn’t I just go and buy her a gift? To me, a handmade gift is something from the heart. It isn’t because the person is cheap. Back in the old days, Christmas gifts used to be homemade. The difference between now and then is gratitude. People were grateful for what they were given but now some people complain because the gift wasn’t expensive enough.

With all the problems in the world now, maybe we should take a step back and go back to being grateful for what we have. Gratitude isn’t something elusive. It is within all of our reach. We just have to want to have it. Make these holiday about more than how much you spent or how many gifts you got. Do something for someone else. It can be something you made for someone or helping an elderly neighbor by shoveling the snow off their sidewalk and driveway. Help in a food bank and you will forget about whatever problems you have. That is when gratitude comes knocking. Answer the door and let it in. If you have a job even if you don’t like it, a roof over your head with food on the table, you have nothing to complain about. Gratitude should start at Christmas and go year round. Wake up everyday and ask yourself what you can do for someone else. Gratitude is the best gift we can receive.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Celebrities Are Human After All!

I am watching Oprah today and she is interviewing Marie Osmond. She is talking about her son killing himself. This really touched my heart and got me thinking. People think celebrities traded in being a human being for fame and fortune. That comments hurled at them don’t hurt them.

Imagine going shopping and seeing some event in your life splashed all over the tabloids. How would you feel? I bet you wouldn’t be happy about it. I wish someone would explain to me what is so entertaining about the pain of another human being. Yes, they are human beings. Just because they are famous or make more money than most of us will ever see doesn’t change it. I have seen news reporters put microphones in the faces of celebrities who are grieving over the loss of someone they love. The usual question is how do you feel? What kind of question is that? Just looking at them tells you they are in pain. But, the goal of the reporter is to get the exclusive interview no matter what. What happened to decency and letting people grieve?

People have said well they should just deal with the intrusion since they have fame and fortune. Again, what event in your life would humiliate you if it were splashed all over the place? I always wanted to be an actress but am glad it didn’t work out for me. People going through trash to find any tidbit of scandal. Having family and friends betray confidences. To always be worried about someone close to you who might sell you out to the tabloids Does fame and fortune make the hurt less painful? No!

While the internet is wonderful it can also be horrible. Just google a celebs name and you will get all kinds of stuff. Some nice comments but some so disgusting it is beyond belief. What has happened to all of us that we would think it is ok to write such junk. It diminishes all of us when we condone it. The next time you are standing in line at the grocery store checkout, skip buying or even looking at the tabloids. Just imagine if you or someone you loved was splashed all over the tabloids. Would you be willing to read them? Would you want you co-workers to read a story about some pain you or your family member is going through? Put yourself in their shoes. If people didn’t buy those papers they would cease to exist. If people didn’t watch the trash tabloid shows they wouldn’t exist. But they do. We are all to blame. I have turned on the shows from time to time but they left me feeling bad. Why? The main reason, I wasn’t raised to find any joy in someone’s pain.

Just food for thought: The next time you feel like reading about some misfortune of a celeb, put yourself in their place. How would you feel about your pain being discussed by people you don’t know. Hasn’t this society progressed to where we don’t need that as a form of entertainment? You will only attract negative things if that is all you dwell with. Be positive look for the good in people. Celebs are human beings like the rest of us. The fame and fortune is just a blessing they were given.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

What Is A Mother

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I have been thinking of what defines a mother. Back in the day, June Cleaver stayed home and was there when the Beaver and Wally came home from school. Then in the 1970’s with the help of Alice the housekeeper, Carol Brady held down the fort. In this modern world the term mother has expanded beyond the typical old tv stereotypes. It has even crossed the gender border at times.

Now, I know what you are thinking, how can a man be a mom? Well, in my life experience I have known men who for unforeseen circumstances have found themselves both mom and dad to their kids. These are the same men who years earlier would rather have a root canal than be seen sewing a Halloween costume for their kids but they are doing it now. They stepped up to the plate and have taken on both roles. They have rearranged their lives in order to be there for their kids. I remember a friend of mine who was raised by her dad told me how this guy who would make Arnold Schwartzenegger look like Barney Fife actually came to her tea party on Saturday afternoon. She even got him towear one of her mom’s old hats. He didn’t care how he looked. He did it out of love for his daughter.

Today, a mom can even be a woman who has never given birth. Recently, Sandra Bullock adopted a sweet baby boy. She didn’t give birth to him but it doesn’t make her any less a mother. Even if a woman doesn’t adopt she can still be a mom by mentoring to kids. Sitting and reading to a child will open the whole world to them. Spending any time with a child will create memories they will never forget. Even the simple thing as baking cookies will not only teach a child a skill but they will feel wanted and useful. And with how crazy this world has gotten lately that might be just what they need.

Lastly, a mother can also be someone who loves and cares for a four legged, feathered, or gilled creatures. Sometimes in people’s lives they find the love of a pet. I recently found that out when I adopted an abandoned kitten who I named Mojo. Mojo means magic and she is magic because she made my life better. I know people roll their eyes when someone calls their pets their children but in a way they are. The person isn’t a loon. Sometimes in people’s lives a creature comes to them that they can give love to and get love in return.

What is a mother? A mother is simply love. Love is the one thing a child or any of us needs but sometimes doesn’t get enough of. Love crosses all gender lines. It doesn’t acknowledge age, wealth, or anything else that we think should matter.Love is all that matters. Love is the only thing that can bring light to darkness. Love is the only gift that keeps on giving. So on this Mother’s Day, give love to people who have helped you along the way for in some way they have been a mother to you. Happy Mother’s Day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Living Motivated by Dr Walter Sims (A Book Review)

“Your situation is not your destination, but it should be your motivation” Dr Sims. We all wonder how some people are achieving their dreams while ours aren’t even getting off the ground. Are we in our own way of achieving what we are meant to be? Sometimes we are. How can we get motivated and change our lives? Simple. I read the wonderful book “Living Motivated” by Dr Walter Sims.

I have read my fair share of self help books that fall short of being helpful. What makes this book different? The big difference is that Dr Sims works on ALL aspects of a person and not just one. Faith, health, happiness etc are all intertwined. To motivate yourself you must work on all or it will be like a three legged table. It won’t stand. Using the techniques that Dr Sims gives you than you will be able to motivate yourself to change your life.

For those of you who know Dr Sims, you know what a man of God he is. He shows in the first chapter that Faith is needed in order to make changes. His example of St Peter taking his eyes of Jesus and sinking in the sea shows what happens when you get scared and look away. The saying with God all things are possible is so true. Dr Sims shows with an example from his own life how his faith in God led him to the do what he was meant to do with his life.

Along with faith, you need other tools to motivate yourself to change our life. Simple things like making a list of positive thoughts can work on changing the negative thoughts in your head. We all have what I call the tape recording in your head that plays over and over. Thoughts of your not good enough, your stupid etc play over and over. Dr Sims shows how these thoughts can prevent you from even trying to make a change in your life. He gives you the tools you need to reprogram those thoughts from negative to positive.

The book is laid out like a pattern, follow each chapter and by the end you will have the tools to motivate yourself into the life you are destined to have. No magic bullets here. You must do the work. I know from my own life that the techniques do work. Dr Sims uses motivating quotes and examples from Tony Robbins, Wayne Dryer the wonderful people from Twitter as well as many others. His best tool is his own life examples. In Chapter 5, he shows how he had to do the dreaded D word. Diet! We all know how hard it is to diet and exercise but it is achievable.With a strong, healthy body and mind nothing is out of your reach.

Dr Sims truly wants you to achieve greatness. When you are fully motivated and on the ground running please contact Dr Sims at and let him know. He is also on Twitter @MofMotivation.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ships That Pass In The Night!

“There are those who pass like ships in the night, who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight with never a backward glance of regret; folks we know briefly then quickly forget. Then there are friends who sail together, through quiet waters and stormy weather, helping each other though joy and through strife. And they are the kind who give meaning to life.” Author Unknown

When I first read this quote it touched something in me. It made me realize how we all are ships on the sea of life. In real life,Twitter or Face Book, we all come and go out of each others lives. Some leave us with good memories, others not so much. But, however brief, or good or bad, we all leave our mark on each other.

It used to hurt when people I thought were friends turn out not to be. In real life it’s calls unreturned or invitations not given. On Twitter it can be dms or tweets unanswered or being unfollowed or blocked. It took a while for me to realize it had nothing to do with me. It had to do with the other person. They made the choice. So all I can do is pick up and move on. This is what I tell my friends when they come to me upset because of how someone just dropped them.

It does us no good to dwell on why they did it or what did I do. We will never know the answer. Like ships passing in the night, soon that person will no longer be in our sight. The best thing to do is look toward your horizon. For on the other side are new friends just waiting to meet you. New people who will leave their mark on you. Good and bad experiences that will add to the growth of your being.

While you will have people go out of your life and it can be painful. Sometimes, if you are really blessed you will find that person or persons who can be called a #BFF. They are there when you are happy and will never leave you when you are sad. They have seen you when you look like a million bucks and when you look like something the cat dragged in. To have people who love you for who you are and not what you can give them or what you look like is worth more than anything money can buy. I can say I have been blessed with wonderful #BFFs. If I were given a choice of a very successful writing career and a fabulous life or having my #BFFs. I would choose my #BFFs. To not have people in your life who know you so well that they know when you need a laugh or a shoulder to cry on is very sad to me. I would be so very lost without my #BFFs.

So, to all the people in real life and in the cyber world who have sailed out of my life. I wish you all the best. I learned from you and it was time to part. Does this mean I wasn’t hurt or angry. No! I am human after all, but I don’t like dwelling on the negative. I choose to be positive

Sunday, November 22, 2009

When The Healing Time Came To Me!

Healing time can occur right after a life changing event or it can take years. For me, it seemed to take a lifetime. To tell a story you must start at the beginning not the end.I know exactly when my pain started, it seemed like it was just yesterday!

It was September 25, 1972. I had just started 10th grade, excited about the new school year.In one moment in time, my life changed forever. I was walking home from school when my brother pulled over and told me to get in the car. We didn't speak on the drive home but I knew something was wrong. When we got near our house, I saw the ambulance and the men taking my moms' body out of the house. At that moment, I went from a carefree teenager to a shattered soul.The days that followed are a blur. The only memories I have are my dad telling me to quit crying like a baby. I wasn't allowed to grieve her loss, so my pain got buried deep and covered so the healing had no chance to begin.

The years went by and I was living in LA.Having never had a chance to heal the wound and pain festered and the poison swept into many aspects of my life. Relationships didn't last because I picked men who were wrong for me. I pushed my friends away. I was miserable but had no idea of the cause. Denial was a useful tool of mine. As in all things, God has a plan. He had one for me that would enable me to heal. It all began very simply by my best friend, Georgia asking me if I would like to take my vacation and go to Florida with her. This was the beginning of my healing time.

I had been to Florida before to visit relatives but this part of Florida was very different than Southern Florida. There was farmland all over with housing developments in between. It was very nice and peaceful. The person responsible for helping me lived here. Her name was Maggie. She was the mom of my best friend. The two weeks we were there were filled with fun and laughter. Soon it was time to go back home, I didn't want to leave but I did. Back to LA that was filled with pain and bad memories but even that would change.

My dreams of an acting career were not coming true and I was disillusioned with life in LA. I wanted a change and as if on cue, God arranged it all. I had a chance to move back to Florida and I grabbed it. I had no job or an apartment but I didn't care. Like salmon swimming upstream, I knew I had to be in Florida. I packed up and I was on the next flight out. Good bye LA and my dreams that never came true. Hello Florida with a future I knew would be better.

Maggie was the type of woman who never met a stranger. She and Pop welcomed me as one of their own. I didn't realize it until after she was gone what a gift I was given.God let me see what it was like to have a mom as an adult. Over the years, very slowly, the pain that was buried made its' way to the surface. The poison that had ruined many aspects of my life was released. The healing time had finally arrived for me. By the time Maggie was gone, I had recovered completely from the pain done to me when I was 15. The memories I had of my mom weren't of her death but of her joyous life! That is when I knew it was done. I felt as if I was reborn. My life is so much different than it was. Healing time comes in God's time not ours. But once it does come, it is life changing!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Gift From God

Maggie or Ma as I knew her was a combo of old fashioned Southern gentility with enough childlike qualities to make her fun. She was the heart of the family and made everyone who came to their home feel very welcome.

Every woman looks for her soul mate and Ma was no different. She found hers in Pop. I used to see them walking together hand in hand after decades of marriage. When most couples drift apart they never did. Pop loved her like the treasure that she was. Money was always tight because being a grove caretaker he only got paid once a year when the crop came in. But, that didn't stop him from surprising her with wildflowers he picked on the side of the road or a small piece jewelry that he had used his lunch money for. When they were together no one else was in the room with them. We all should wish for this.

Next to Pop, her kids were her pride and joy. They raised 6 kids on a big piece of land. My best friend, Georgia was their 5th child. She used to tell me how Ma would always manage to sew she and her sister school clothes. Their brother was the only one who got store bought. Even then her creativity in sewing was outstanding. She made each dress from one pattern but made it unique for each daughter. Ma was also the bookkeeper for the business and they always managed to make it on what Pop earned each year.

When I met Ma, she was beginning her love for crafts. From her I learned to knit, cross stitch, needlepoint, and quilt. If you wanted to talk to her you would have to go to her sewing room to see her. Quilting became her passion. She started out on big quilts for everyone but as time went by they became smaller and smaller. Her miniature quilts were something to behold. She took such pride in them that she loved to show them off to people. I am lucky in that she gave me some of them and I now treasure them in my home.

During her crafting period is when I really began to love big band music. She always had music or an old radio show on. We would sit there and talk and listen to Glen Miller, Benny Goodman or the Andrew Sisters. One day she said I had to listen to this radio program. She started it up and it was Orson Welles doing War of the Worlds. I now understood why people panicked so much. This also lead to the rebirth of my love of older movies. I grew with a mother who loved the classic movies but I stopped watching them until I met Ma. She was crazy over them. We all would scour the video stores to see what we could find for her. My favorite to watch with her was Pride and Prejudice with Laurence Olivier.

Her talents weren't just restricted to crafts they extended to her cooking and baking. I grew up in the Midwest, and Southern food to me consisted of fried chicken and corn bread. Was I ever wrong. Ma taught me how to make greens. chicken and dumplings from scratch, real cornbread, etc. I will admit this woman who wasn't Italian at all made a very good lasagna. I learned so much from her especially that you could have fun while cooking. She would put music on and dance around the kitchen. We all laughed and to this day I really miss those moments. Sometimes I put on Glenn Miller while I cook and just imagine her dancing around.

Ma had grown up in an era that didn't know about skin cancer. She loved the sun. One day she noticed a growth on her upper lip and had it checked. It was skin cancer. She had it removed an we all thought she was safe. She warned me to be careful in the sun. I always thought I was safe since I had dark hair and olive skin. She became a mother hen making sure I wore a hat and put on sun screen.

The years went by and like everything the fear of cancer went away. Ma was an active woman and one day she started having problems with her lower back. She ended up having to use a walker. Her doctor just told her it was age and to not worry about it. Pop wouldn't let it go. He found another doctor who immediately did tests. He told them they need her to go to the hospital for an exploratory surgery. It was during this surgery they discovered not only huge gall stones, a cyst on her ovary but cancer in the bowel. The doctor operated on her while we all waited to hear. He told Pop and Ma that the cancer was related to her bout with skin cancer. They would do treatments to make sure they got it all. Like Pop, Ma never complained, she accepted and went on. It amazed me how she never ever moaned about what was happening to her.

She went through the treatments and we thought she was in the clear. She was still quilting but was having trouble seeing also she was getting bad headaches. When they became more frequent, Pop insisted she go back to the doctor. The doctor checked her and said he wanted to run more tests. It was then he discovered the cancer had gone to her brain and there were two brain tumors. The doctor said he wanted to perform surgery to see if they could be removed. They agreed and the date was set. We all felt like we were on a roller coaster and couldn't get off. Again, Ma kept her spirits up by saying God would take care of her and we were not to worry.

I took the day off from work so I could be there. The family was gathered at the hospital to give support to Pop. We all went to see her before she went in. She was smiling and joking with us. If she was worried we never saw it. She went in and all of us went to the waiting room to wait. It seemed like forever before the doctor came out. He didn't look happy and took Pop to the side. He told him that they were inoperable and she had only months left. Like her Pop held it together for our sake and Ma's. They told us she was back in her room and we went in. Pop asked how she was feeling and she said like Hell. After she said Hell, she apologized for cussing. You see, this woman never cussed in her life. She felt ladies should never use foul language.

The doctor didn't know how strong she was. She could no longer see well enough to sew her quilts but she could still read her books with the help of a magnifying glass. Soon that was at an end when her eyesight dimmed more. Pop solved that issue by getting her books on tape. I would still come over and sit and talk to her. Christmas was coming and that was her favorite holiday.We all decorated the house so she could enjoy it. She hated being in bedroom so hospice arranged for her to have a hospital bed in the living room. I remember the last Christmas well because I stayed up all night finishing an afghan I was knitting for her. It touched my heart when she was so excited to see it. She used it everyday and now that she is gone it is on my couch.

She made it past New Years and we thought the doctor was wrong. But, we were the one's who were wrong. Georgia was helping Pop get Ma's breakfast ready on Easter Sunday. They had gone to wake her up when she drew her last breath. Pop was naturally distraught and Georgia took the hard task of driving to find her siblings who were at church and tell them what happened. She stopped by to tell me and I felt like my heart had been ripped out. The heart of the family was gone. But, what a beautiful day to pick to go back home, Easter Sunday.

People often wonder if they were loved. Ma knew she was loved by family but she would have been surprised by the outpouring of people at her funeral. People talked about how she did little things for them over the years that they never forgot. We all said our good byes and then everyone went home. Pop had people with him so I knew he would be all right. It seems like yesterday instead of the 11 years that has passed. Pop is gone now too and a day doesn't go by that I don't miss them both.

I was sitting on my couch trying to think of a title for this post, when it hit me. She was a gift from God. You see, I lost my mom when I was 15. God through Ma let me see what it would have been like to have a mom as a grown woman. I will aways and forever be grateful for that.