Monthly Archives: July 2014

Music is the Key

Let’s face it. In today’s world, life can be stressful. There is just no way that a person can have a stress-free day every single day of their life. There’s bound to be something, somewhere, sometime during the week that is going to cause tension in our lives. Maybe it will be a stalled vehicle in the middle of rush hour traffic which causes the commute to work to be even slower than usual. Or maybe you didn’t get the contract that you bid on and were counting on getting. Maybe the kids have been acting up lately and you just can’t seem to be able to deal with them. Or maybe you just had a bad hair day. Whatever the cause, we all should be able to have that one thing to do, one place to go, or one person to talk to that will make us feel better. Right?

Whenever I’m stressed out, there’s one thing that has always helped to make me “feel human again,” and that’s music. The reason for this is that I can listen to the kind of music that will fill my needs at any given moment. If I need music that is uplifting, then perhaps I’ll listen to a dose of spiritual music. If I’m feeling sad and blue, then maybe some rock and roll music is in order to cheer me up. Music can transport me into another world. It can take me away from all the stress and all the worries of life. It can soothe and comfort me. Music makes me feel better.

If the weather’s nice, I might sit on my deck in the back yard and listen to my music. Sometimes it’s great to take a bubble bath with the music playing. At other times, I’ll lie in my bed and listen to my music there. And I’ve also taken walks with my music playing through my ear buds (my dog loves it when we do this).

It really doesn’t matter where I go or what I do. The key to relieve my stress is music. And who is one of my favorite artists? Take a listen:

 

 

All I really need is music. Music makes my world go round.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”   ~ Berthold Auerbach

 

 

 

Age is a Work of Art

There are some people who worry about getting older. There are even some people who lie about their age and pretend that they are younger. But I think that age is just a number.

One of my favorite quotes is by Stanislaw Lec and it goes like this:

“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.”

I think that about says it all. It’s true that while you’re young, you have the whole future before you, unless you run across some unforeseen circumstances. But as we grow older, as we mature, we have so much more within ourselves than we had when we were younger.

hourglass 1We have the knowledge and the experience to live our lives even smarter than when we were younger. We know what to do because chances are we’ve been in similar circumstances before.

We make wiser decisions and hopefully, smarter choices. Not only that, but we can help others to benefit from our experiences – those we love such as our children and our children’s children.

Our emotions are more finely tuned and we usually can deal with them better (not all the time, granted, but usually).

We can enjoy other people’s company more because we know how to do that from our past relationships. And in this way, we can get more out of life.

And I think we can appreciate those we love even more, and this means that we can love more fully, more deeply than ever before. And that’s the best part of all.

So I think we get better. Do you remember that old jingle: “You’re not getting older, you’re getting better?” I think it’s true.

Therefore, I don’t think a person should be concerned about numbers when it comes to their age. It really doesn’t matter whether your driver’s license says you were born in 1950 or 1993 because age is just a number. You’re only as old as you feel.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”  ~ George Burns

 

 

Red-Letter Saturday #3: “The United States Post Office”

RED-LETTER SATURDAY #3:

postal-service

 

On this day, July 26, 1775, the office that would become the United States Post Office Department was established by the Second Continental Congress, appointing Benjamin Franklin as the first Postmaster General. It was a day which helped to improve communications in the birth of new nation, a vital component in the formation of the young United States of America.

 


 

The United States Postal Service delivers more mail to more addresses in a larger geographical area than any other post in the world. Last year, they processed 158.4 billion pieces of mail and handled 873.3 million inquiries. But I would venture to say that these numbers would be even higher were it not for the technological age that we live in today.

After all, when was the last time that you received a handwritten letter? Let me guess. If I’m right, it was probably at Christmastime, folded up neatly and tucked away inside a Christmas card. Many of us have those few relatives or friends who never fail to recount us with all that has happened during the past year in a nicely written Christmastime letter. You know the kind of letter I’m talking about. It’s the one that gives you a detailed account of what jobs the husband and wife are currently holding, what promotions they’ve received, if any, what home improvements they’ve made, what vacations they’ve taken during the year, how their various hobbies or activities are coming along, how their children are doing, how old the children are now, what grades the children are in, what sports and activities the children are involved in, what achievements they’ve made, what awards they’ve won, and the list goes on and on. Right? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying those letters are bad. Not at all. In fact, sometimes they’re just wonderful. But they are predictable.

And isn’t it sad that we don’t receive these letters at another time of the year besides just Christmastime? After all, wouldn’t it be nice, just for once, to receive a letter in the middle of February or at the end of April or at the beginning of October? Wouldn’t it be nice if these letters were sent to you when you didn’t expect them? Or better still, what if you received these kinds of letters from people all the time? What if you weren’t surprised to receive these kinds of letters on a regular basis?

Yes, I know that there’s email. I know that it’s quick, easy, and it saves paper. But there’s just something quite lovely about retrieving that envelope addressed to you from your mailbox, physically holding it in your own two hands, touching it, even smelling it, that gives you that wonderful feeling of knowing that someone cared enough to take the time to sit down, write you a letter, put it into an envelope, place a stamp on it, and then post it, just for you. Now really, tell the truth – don’t you wish that now and then, you’d get a nice letter in the mail from a friend or family member?

The other day I received a letter in the mail from my oldest daughter. When I first opened it, I was worried because I was afraid of what I might read, although I’m really not sure why. I guess I’m just so conditioned to not receiving a handwritten letter, that I was certain it could only mean bad news. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was no bad news. All she wanted to do was to surprise me by giving me a lift to my day, and indeed she succeeded.

And so, if you have some free time this week, why don’t you think about writing a letter of your own and sending it to someone you care about? I guarantee that they’ll probably be surprised, but I can also guarantee that you will make them happy.

Besides, I think we should start using our post office before we lose it. Wouldn’t that be a shame?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “It’s funny; in this era of e-mail and voice mail and all those things that even I did not grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy.”   ~ Elizabeth Kostova

 

red letter saturday 2

 

 

This post is presented as part of my special weekly feature, Red-Letter Saturday. If you’d like to to know more information about Red-Letter Saturday, simply click here:

Red-Letter Saturday 

A Friend For Life

I believe that everyone should have the pleasure of knowing that they have a best friend, at least at one time or another in their life, and I’m so fortunate that I can say that I have. As a matter of fact, I have a friend who has been a lifelong friend. Her name is Laurie. I met her in 1960 and we are still friends to this very day! We were only five at the time, and she was my very first friend.

There have been periods throughout these many years – actually, decades – in which we have not had a chance to communicate with each other for two to three years at a stretch, but when we do, it’s as though we had just seen each other the day before. The fact that we can do this is a testimony to our friendship. It shows that the sands of time have not broken our bond of friendship, and I am forever grateful for this blessing. There’s a song make new friends 10that the Brownie Girl Scouts sing which summarizes how old friendships should be compared to new friendships, and it’s called: Make New Friends: 

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold. A circle is round, it has no end. That’s how long I will be your friend. A fire burns bright, it warms the heart. We’ve been friends from the very start. You have one hand, I have the other. Put them together, we have each other. Silver is precious, gold is too. I am precious and so are you. You help me, and I’ll help you, and together we’ll see it through. Across the land, across the sea, friends forever we will always be.

And speaking of Brownies, I will tell you my favorite story about the two of us when we were six years old and in the first grade together. Laurie belonged to the local Brownie troop. I remember every Tuesday she would wear her Brownie uniform to school. I was so jealous of her. I wanted to be in the Brownies, but my parents could not afford the cost of the uniform.  So I had to settle for Laurie’s accounts of every meeting. One day she came home with her Brownie handbook and showed me a story about Brownies. Now these Brownies were good deed-doers, and in the middle of the night, when everyone was fast asleep, the Brownies would come out and do good deeds.  When the people arose in the morning, the good deed would be apparent, but of course, no one knew who did the good deed.  The most important part of doing a good deed was to never reveal your identity. If you told anyone it was you who did the good deed, then the good deed would be erased out of the Book of Good Deeds.

Of course, Laurie and I, being six years old, were quite impressionable and wanted to be Brownies. So Laurie arranged for me to sleep over at her house one Friday night. Laurie knew her parents went to bed at eleven o’clock every night. The plan was that at midnight we would sneak down the stairs and into the kitchen where we would set out breakfast for everyone—bowls, spoons, glasses, cereal boxes, orange juice and milk. Since we were only six years old, we didn’t think about the milk spoiling or the orange juice getting warm. We were just concerned with the task at hand—to be Brownies.

So that evening, I went to Laurie’s house at suppertime. I remember we had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I can still smell the fresh tomatoes and the toasting cheese sandwiches. Naturally, the meal which I ate at my friend’s house tasted so much better than it did when I ate the same meal at my house. Mrs. Larson even brought out an apple pie for dessert. Mrs. Larson made the best apple pie. I can still taste the sweetness of the brownie dollsugar and cinnamon mixed with the apples and the flaky light brown pie crust. It makes my mouth water just to remember it.

After dinner, Laurie and I played the usual game we always played: make-believe. We took turns playing teacher. We even managed to have her brother David and her baby sister Valerie sit in as students. We were allowed to stay up until nine o’clock since it was not a school night. But at nine o’clock we ran up the stairs to Laurie’s bedroom. We were so excited that we were going to be Brownies in just three hours.

Now Laurie’s parents had this beautiful wooden cuckoo clock hanging on the wall in their living room. Every hour on the hour, the little cuckoo bird inside would come out and announce the hour by his cuckoo. If it was nine o’clock he would cuckoo nine times.  If it was nine-thirty he would cuckoo only once. This was the way we were going to know when midnight came. We decided that once we could hear the little bird cuckoo twelve times, the coast would be clear, and we would be free to sneak down the stairs and into the kitchen.

So to pass the time, we whispered to each other so her parents would not hear. We whispered all kinds of things that little girls whisper about. I also remember Laurie had a flashlight and showed me how she read underneath the blankets. This was a new trick to me. So we read stories. I remember our favorite book at this point was a book that Laurie owned: The Big Book of Mother Goose. There was one more book which Laurie owned and was also a favorite of ours: The Fairy Tales of Grimm.

I remember listening for the cuckoo clock and sure enough, just as Laurie had promised, we could hear it in her bedroom. The time seemed to drag by. We were so anxious to do our good deed that there was no way we would fall asleep.

Then finally, the time came. Midnight. We crept out of the bedroom, tiptoeing past the other bedrooms, hoping the wooden floor would not creak. We reached the top of the stairs. We had decided beforehand that the best way to get down the stairs quietly was if we sat on each step and then slip down to the next one, using our backsides instead of our feet. I remember counting those stairs as we descended—there were thirteen stairs exactly. I remember sitting side by side with Laurie, sliding down those stairs. Because of the darkness it was difficult to see, but we managed by holding on to each other’s hand. When we reached the bottom of the stairs we tiptoed into the kitchen. Of course, we had to do our good deed in the dark because Laurie’s mom and dad slept in the downstairs bedroom.brownies 6

Into the kitchen we tiptoed, as slowly and as carefully as we could. Finally we reached our destination and began to whisper into each other’s ear about what to put out on the table. We set about our work, knowing that one day perhaps our good deed would be rewarded. I admit that it was hard not to giggle as we set out the bowls and glasses. We were having a wonderful time being Brownies.

As a matter of fact, we were having such a wonderful time that we didn’t notice Laurie’s mom walking down the hall. Laurie saw her mother first and darted underneath the sink. There was no cupboard under the sink, so it was the perfect place to go.  When I noticed my friend hiding beneath the sink, I knew something was up. I turned around and there she was—Mrs. Larson in her pink nightgown with her big fuzzy slippers. She was standing there looking at me with her hands on her hips. Now when I think about it, I know she was suppressing a smile. As soon as I saw her, I hurried to where Laurie was, but it was no use; the jig was up. Mrs. Larson flipped on the kitchen light and said, “Girls, it’s not time for breakfast yet. You still have about eight hours of sleep time left. Go on now. I’ll finish up in here; you two get to bed.”

We scurried out of the kitchen and upon passing the cuckoo clock in the living room, Laurie pointed it out to me. It showed the time to be only 11:15. I guess we had miscounted the cuckoos! We giggled all the way up the stairs and into Laurie’s bedroom. We never did try to be Brownies again. But I think our good deed counted, anyway.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”   ~ John Leonard

 

 

 

When You Wish Upon A Star

I absolutely love today’s prompt because it’s all about my absolute favorite thing in the world: MUSIC. Not only that, but so far, this has been a very good summer for me, and the main reason has been because of music, so I am more than happy to share it with you. And the song which reminds me of this summer of 2014 will have to be the following song, a Disney classic, When You Wish Upon a Star:

 

 

I’ve chosen this song because I have been spending my summer immersed in learning how to play the piano. Yes, that’s right. In case you don’t know, I am a 57-year-old woman who is just now learning how to play the piano. But even though I’m just learning how to play the piano, I’ve always loved music and it’s always been a huge part of my life. I knew it the very first time that I discovered what singing was and that I could do it. From that point on, I have never stopped singing, a fact which annoyed my big brother to no end while we were growing up, I might add!

I dreamed of playing the piano ever since I was a little girl, but we could never afford a piano. And then came marriage and after that came motherhood. There just never seemed to be time or money for my piano. But I never forgot about my piano dream. And in February of this year, my dream finally came true.

And now, every Tuesday morning, I drive to my piano teacher’s house for my weekly piano lesson (which will explain to you why it is that on some Tuesdays I don’t submit a blog entry). I practice on my piano at least twice, sometimes even three times a day, for an hour each time. This shows you how much I love playing the piano. Not only that, but after all, I do have a lot of time to make up for! When I play the piano, it’s as though I am transported to another world. I can let all my emotions and feelings drift through the music. It’s almost difficult to explain. It just makes me feel good.

I only wish that I hadn’t missed out on this amazing opportunity for so long. But now that I have it, I am going to make the most it. And I thank God that I am so blessed.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.”  ~ John Updike

 

 

 

All Grown Up

growing up 1When I was growing up. I did have dreams, just like any other kid. I went through the normal stages of imagining all the different things I could be –  a movie star, a singer, a ballerina, a doctor, a teacher, even a nun. I dreamed about all the places I could go, and all the things that I could do once I grew up. But at the same time, I was always pretty realistic about my dreams. I knew even then that there were bound to be limitations, because you don’t always get what you want and that you must be learn to be happy with what you receive. Perhaps this stemmed from the fact that I grew up in a family of seven children and believe me, when you grow up in the middle of that many kids, this is a lesson that is well-learned!

But I must say that life as an adult truly is pretty much as I imagined it would be when I was growing up. I’m happy, and as far as I’m concerned, I think I have a lot to be proud of.

I have the best husband in the entire world. Mike means everything to me, We’ve been together since 1974 and have been happily married since 1976. I’m proud of our marriage and of the love we have for each other. It is everlasting, and our bond can never be broken.

Our children are beautiful. Each one is unique in his/her own way, and I love each one of them. Joe is our oldest and our only son. He’s a college graduate and has made an excellent life for himself in the business world. He is kind, compassionate, and caring. He’ll make one woman a wonderful husband and he’ll be an excellent father. Sarah is our oldest daughter, and the middle child. She is outgoing, loving, and sings like an angel. She’s married to a wonderful man and was born to be a mother. Stephanie is our baby. She’s an introvert and is passionate, loving, and kind. She’s a very talented cellist and will be starting on her master’s degree in music performance in the fall. I’m proud of every single one of my children. As a matter of fact, I would say that my children are my greatest accomplishment in life. I would lay down my life for any one of them.

What else am I proud of? I’m proud that I went back to college after ten years and received my nursing degree. I’m proud of the fact that I worked in the operating room for over twenty-five years, and was the charge nurse of the entire department for six of those years.

I’m proud of the fact that I learned how to play the flute in my twenties and the organ in my thirties and now in my late fifties I’m learning how to play the piano and loving every minute of it. I’m proud that I used to be a soloist in our church choir, until one of my recurrent laryngeal nerves was damaged during surgery and I couldn’t solo any longer. But I didn’t give up and now I’m back as a member of our church choir and I’m glad that I can give praise to my God in this beautiful way.

I’m proud that I honed the craft of making quilts.

I’m proud that I quit smoking in 1999 and have never looked back.

I’m proud of my organizational skills.

I’m proud that I’m an American.

I’m proud that I’m a woman.

I’m proud to be me, and that’s not always easy.

And last but not least, I’m proud that I was able to grow up. It wasn’t always easy, but then again, life isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be, is it?

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”  ~ E. E. Cummings

 

 

The Scariest Movie I’ve Ever Seen

I am not a big fan of horror movies; mostly because I get too scared! I know that logically it’s all “make-believe,” but for some reason they still scare the bejeebers out of me, which is why my husband and I have NEVER gone to see a horror movie in our entire life together.

The last time I went to see a horror movie, I was seventeen. My boyfriend at the time promised me that I’d like the movie – he’d already seen it and thought it was pretty good, and since I thought I was so in love with him, I agreed. Ah, the foolishness of youth. The movie was The scaredExorcist.

I guess what really frightened me about this movie was the fact that I knew that people have been possessed by demons – did not Jesus cast demons out of a young boy? And I’m sure there were others. But I thought that with my big, strong, handsome boyfriend sitting next to me in the movie theater with his arm around me that I wouldn’t be scared at all. Was I ever wrong! About halfway through the movie, and I think maybe it was at the scene where the young girl’s head spun around 360 degrees, I told my boyfriend in no uncertain terms that I wanted to leave right then and there. We made a hasty exit out of the theater and he had to bring me to a nearby coffee shop and buy me a cup of coffee to calm my nerves, and I didn’t even drink coffee! I had a hard time sleeping that night and also for about a week after that experience, and I vowed then and there that I would never go to see another scary movie again.

And I never have. I’ll watch just about any other kind of movie: adventure, action, drama, comedy, romance, sci-fi, western, musical, religious, historical, documentary, family, even animated films. But I will not watch horror films! And I have kept my promise. I’d rather watch the entire movie without having to cover my eyes!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”  ~ Andre Gide

 

 

Let it Hail

beach-walk

The weekend’s here, it’s time to rest.

We’re at the beach to have some fun.

We plan to swim and maybe surf,

And enjoy the warmth of the lovely sun.

 

The sand is warm beneath our feet

As we walk together, hand in hand.

A gentle breeze blows through our hair.

We’re in love and life is grand.

 

We gather seashells along the beach,

And watch the children as they play.

We plan our future and laugh together.

Never noticing when the skies turn gray.

 

Before we know it, the sun is gone,

And much to our surprise,

In its place is raining down

Dime-sized hail from the skies.

 

So we race to the car,

And laugh all the way there

Because not even hail can ruin

The time together that we share.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  “Where there is love there is life.”   ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

The Garage Sale

garage sale 2Did you ever have one of those moments when you knew your children had finally grown up?

It was in May of 2011 when my husband and I decided that it was high time that our garage and basement had a good cleaning out. We talked about giving everything away to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but when our oldest daughter, Sarah, heard about this, she said, “Let’s have a garage sale!”

We both looked at her questioningly, saying at the same time, “Who’s going to take care of the garage sale?”

“We’ll take care of it — me and Stephanie and Axel. All you guys have to do is let us know what things to sell and help us to do the pricing and we’ll do the rest — I promise.”

Did you ever have one of those moments when you knew your children had finally grown up?

My husband I talked it over and decided that maybe it was a good idea after all. We decided to split the money five ways, between me, my husband, Sarah, her fiancé, Axel, and our youngest daughter, Stephanie. Everyone was in agreement.

So the work began. It took almost two weeks to clean out the basement and the garage. But I have to give everyone credit — they all pitched in and helped. Even Axel, who was not officially part of the family yet, helped to haul things out. By the time we were finished, we had quite an accumulation of things to sell, including an organ, bicycle, workout bench, doll house which I had made from a kit and had electric lights and furniture, cello case, karaoke machine, and so many other smaller items.

We held the garage sale during the first week of June and it lasted for four days from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. By the final day, everyone breathed a collective sigh of relief that the sale was finally over. The last evening after the sale, no one even stayed up past ten o’clock — that’s how exhausting the last four days had been. Yes, it had worn us all out, but at the same time, it had been interesting to watch the people who attended our sale, but it had been even more interesting to watch how my children had reacted to those same people.

For example, there was the young boy who tried out a bike we had for sale. He wasn’t accustomed to using hand brakes, and as he headed full-speed headlong toward our garage, our future son-in-law Axel ran after him, rescuing him just before he smashed headfirst into the side door. “I was so worried about him, and I was afraid he would get hurt,” Axel  exclaimed as the young boy drove off with his mother. It was then that I knew that he would make a wonderful father for our future grandchildren.

I also watched as a little girl of about six stood in front of an expensive doll house that I had crafted, her eyes wide with wonder. She walked up to our oldest daughter, Sarah, a dollar bill clutched in her hand. “Do I have enough to buy the doll house?” she asked hopefully. Sadly my daughter shook her head, giving her a free Beanie-baby stuffed animal instead. As the little girl walked down the driveway holding her mother’s hand, Sarah turned to me with tears in her eyes. “Oh, Mom, I so wanted to give that doll house to her.” It was then that I knew the lessons of compassion and empathy we had tried to teach had not been lost on her.

This was also proven true by our youngest daughter, Stephanie, when another young girl of about eight or nine expressed enthusiastic interest in an i-pod which had never been used, still in the box it came in, never unwrapped. “How much is it?” she eagerly asked my youngest daughter. Stephanie smiled at the young girl, knowing how much she wanted the item. “How much money do you have?” asked Stephanie. “$2.37,” she replied, “is that enough?” “You know what? It’s only one dollar,” Stephanie told her, lowering the price considerably. “So you’ll have some money left over.” The look of joy on the young girl’s face was exquisite as she walked away with her prize.

I was so proud of my children because they showed kindness, compassion, and empathy throughout those four days. Yes, even though these people were strangers, my children showed that they still cared about them. Why? Because my children have the belief that we are all one family — linked forever because we are one in the same — people. We all may be different, but we are still people, and that’s why we are linked together forever, with the need and the obligation to care about each other.

During those four days, my children showed that they were no longer children. They showed that because they are responsible enough to respect others and to care for them through their kindness, compassion, and empathy, that they are indeed adults. Because of this, I will no longer call them children.

Did you ever have one of those moments when you knew your children had finally grown up?

Today I am the proud mother of adults, and I think they are amazing.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:  Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.”   ~ Anne Frank

 

 

 

 

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