Attitude Adjustments, Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Compassion, Coping, Courage, Emotions, Family, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Kindness, Laughter, Laughter is the best medicine, Love, Memories, Negativity, Passion for Living, Relationships, Self respect, Thankfulness, That's life, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Love and Laughter in 2018

Happy 2018!  Last night, we returned from a whirlwind trip to Kansas City, where we spent the week with my family for the first time in years.  It really was a great time, even if it was cold, busy and chaotic.  That’s kind of the way my family is during the holidays….. NOT cold, but busy and chaotic!  Laughter, kids, memories, and constant activity is pretty much the norm for us.

My family is big……maybe not big by some people’s standards, but my parents were each one of 5 children, and I am also one of 5 (all girls).  My parents have 11 grandchildren, a few of them have spouses, and there is one great grandchild (my grandson). My daughter’s boyfriend has 2 children, who only added to the fun!  My sister also had two other guests, who were visiting from Japan, and they added to the fun and laughter.  Between all of the people, 2 dogs, the great food, cousins leg wrestling on the family room floor, Nerf gun fights, building train tracks on the floor, pretending to cook (and eat) the Fisher Price food, and our excursions into the city to visit the Nelson Atkins Museum (Picasso, Monet, Pollock, Warhol, etc), Union Station, Crown Center, ice skating (just the kids….not me!),  breakfast with my aunt and nieces, Al and I going out with a childhood friend of mine, and Al going out for a jazz night at Plaza III with our brother in-law, it was a packed few days!  The cold temps didn’t stop the fun!  My family welcomes everyone, and treats everyone with love and acceptance, if they are willing to put up with our noise and silliness!  This is really the first time Al has had a chance to spend any real time with a lot of my family.  He got to see first hand how loving and accepting they are.

I thought back on times when my sisters and our families would all gather at my parents each year (either on Thanksgiving or Christmas).  At times, there might be around 23 of us packed into their little ranch home in Springfield, Missouri.  Noise, laughter, children, food, games, movies, sports on TV, and just spending time together laughing and reminiscing was such fun.  Or the times when we would gather at my grandmother’s house in Wichita with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins……times change, families grow, and loved ones leave us eventually…….but no one can take my memories.

2017 was not easy on me in a lot of ways.  I’ve tried to stay positive, and grateful for all I have, even when I’m physically struggling.  My first trip to Europe, which I was so looking forward to, turned out to be very hard because of a lot of the physical problems I was having, without knowing what was wrong with me.  I tried to do what I could, but I ended up spending a lot of time unable to enjoy a lot of it.  Once we got back, and I got a diagnosis (a benign brain tumor, called an acoustic neuroma), I had to figure out a lot of things.  I dove into information, trying to learn all I could about it.  But mostly, I counted my blessings.  It could have been a lot worse.  My emotions went into overdrive……I can cry at the drop of a pin, and I have a few unpleasant symptoms that are the new normal for me, but I started appreciating things I hadn’t even noticed before!  I also told myself I would not waste time on people or things that were negative or tried to drain my happiness.

I’ve had a lot of hard times in my life, but I’ve also had a lot of very happy times.  My big family has provided so many happy moments for me, and the memories of the love and laughter keep me going.  I always try to stay positive and not let negativity bring me down, but that seems so much more important now.  So, like every year, I will vow to keep my chin up, stay positive, be nice, friendly, compassionate, and happy.  Even though I have been presented with a new obstacle, it doesn’t change my outlook on life.  It may be a new year, but it’s the same love and appreciation that I always strive for.

The important things in life are love, loved ones, laughter, memories, and good health.  Laugh and learn to enjoy everything you have.  Cut out the negativity and negative people who don’t love you back, don’t care about you, or don’t appreciate you.  Stay positive.  Stay happy.  Enjoy the chaos and laughter in life.  Don’t waste time sitting around getting old. I’m so thankful I come from a family who loves to laugh and have fun…..it keeps us young and healthy!

It’s great to be home where it’s a little warmer, but I have some great new memories of this trip, and of my big family and friends.   Happy New Year, and here’s to a fun 2018, filled with love and laughter……curing all that ails us!

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Be Happy, Be Kind, Being Strong, Change, Compassion, Courage, Family, Happiness, Kindness, Laughter, Love, Loyalty, Making life interesting, Married to My Best Friend, Relationships, Respect, Thankfulness, That's life, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Two Years and Counting……

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of marrying Alfredo (as my daughters love to call him)……one of the happiest days of our lives.  Al and I have so much to be thankful for.  We’ve had our share of problems, but they’ve been things that have been out of our control, or from outside sources….not things we can help.  With each little (or big) hurdle, we seem to come through it even stronger, and closer.  I sometimes wonder if our commitment to each other is being tested for everything we have dealt with. We are there every step of the way for each other, which of course, is the way it should be!  Our pastor sent us each a text today, calling us, “Team Desport.”  It’s true.  We do make a good team, and it’s nice when other people see how much stronger we are together.

Since he moved back to the USA, I helped him finish his college degree, which is something he had given up on.  I watched as his confidence grew with each completed course.  I helped him buy his car, sign up for health insurance, apply for jobs, update his resume, and navigate the ins and outs of a system he hadn’t been a part of for 30 years.  He’s working in the public school system with special needs children now, and is really very good at it!  He also works part time at a community center in a rough part of town, with kids who really need a positive male influence.  And, he referees youth basketball games during the basketball season….he’s making a name for himself in the area, and children and adults alike are always happy to see him when we run into them in public.  I love hearing little voices from across a store or parking lot, saying, “Coach Al! Coach Al!” They love him!  He’s a church deacon, with a line of little old ladies waiting for hugs every week, and helps serve breakfast to homeless people once a month.

He’s also been there for me, especially when it comes to protecting me.  He corrals me when I’m sleep walking, and herds me back to bed, keeping me safe.  He “rescues” me from any creature that I may encounter unexpectedly.  He walks me to my car every morning, making sure I am safe (I leave before the sun comes up), and occasionally scrapes ice from my windshield.  He helps me when I have car trouble.  He helps me with my school work, folding, cutting, or preparing projects for my class.  He sees when I need to take a break, and tells me that we are going for a walk on the beach, so I can clear my head.  He cleans the bathrooms and does dishes! Yesterday at church, I really felt awful (I probably should have stayed home).  He knew how bad my head was hurting, and that I was dizzy.  Just to have him put his arm around me, and kiss me on the head, lets me know that he understands how much I’m suffering, and that he’s there for me.  Then, he changed the words to the hymns to something a little bit inappropriate, making me laugh…..which is also something that I appreciate so much!  His incredible sense of humor is the only thing that gets me through a lot of days!

We vent to each other about work, society, politics, family matters, pop culture, and anything that might be weighing on our minds.  We spend hours and hours talking and listening to each other.  We enjoy traveling, watching movies, or just having a quiet evening at home (most every evening).  We rarely argue or have a disagreement.  We have both experienced some pretty serious health issues in our lives, so we are appreciative of every day we have.  We’ve both had some personal disappointments in life, and are happy to be sharing our lives together now.  We’ve spent a lot of time raising our children, and living and working a world away from each other. Ending up together took time, faith, trust, and was a lot more work and complicated than most relationships, since we were on two different continents.  We definitely had to be friends first. We were very protective of our courtship, and are still very protective of each other.  And here we are……for better or worse, sickness and health, richer or poorer…..as long as we both shall live!

It may have taken us awhile to get here, but HERE is where we are, and it’s the best place for US!  Two years down, the rest of our lives to go!

Anxiety, Bad Attitudes, Be Happy, Be Kind, Compassion, Happiness, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Innocence, Kindness, Laughter, Love, Negativity, Passion for Living, Season's Greetings, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Stay Off the Naughty List!

Each year at this time, I’m reminded of the time I was at the grocery store a couple of years ago just before Christmas.  The place was a madhouse, packed with busy, stressed, uptight shoppers.  Apparently, I wasn’t moving fast enough for one shopper, because she very impolitely ordered me to, “Get the hell out of my way!” I moved, but looked her in the eye, smiled, and said, “I guess we know who’s on Santa’s naughty list!”  She didn’t appreciate it, but I got a good chuckle out of it!

I have a ton of holiday cheer.  It’s not unusual for me to be playing Christmas music in the car, in my classroom, at home while I cook, in the bathroom, etc.  I love my decorations and my tree.  I love Christmas movies.  I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t bore you with it again.  But the most wonderful thing about about this time of year is the spirit.  Yet, I try to keep the spirit alive all year with a positive attitude, cheerfulness, appreciation, and compassion for others.  I don’t like it when someone tries to kill my spirit.  That lady at the grocery store tried to kill my spirit.  People who insist on taking the fun out of Christmas or other times of year are attempting to kill my spirit.

I used to stress about the holidays, trying to get everything done with my kids, my family, shopping, wrapping gifts, traveling, cooking, and also taking care of my students, planning fun activities for them as well.  It was ALL on my shoulders.  I felt such pressure to make it all perfect for everyone else, and I really didn’t take the time to appreciate the true meaning of love, sharing, giving, and togetherness……and I never felt appreciated for all I did. I have learned not to stress as much, and to let some things take a back seat to others.  Because of my health, I’ve also learned to say no, and stop with a few unnecessary things.  I’ve scaled back on my decorations a lot, but still have a houseful.  So when someone else puts grumpiness, anger, negativity, or extra burdens on me, it makes me upset that they are trying to kill my spirit.  I want to enjoy this time of year without feeling pressure to do what everyone else expects of me.  I need to stay healthy, so I can’t do it all anymore. I have to slow down and take time to enjoy the spirit.

I decided today that my dog needed a new sweater for Christmas because his is looking a little shabby (Shhh!  Don’t tell him).  I went to the little shopping center where the pet shop is, but I couldn’t find any parking spots.  I drove in circles through the parking lot, trying to find a place to park, for at least 10 minutes.  It seemed like it was taking a lot longer.  I had a couple of spots picked out, and was waiting for the other driver to pull out.  I waited patiently with my blinker on, only to have someone pull in from the other direction before I could get in.  I could have become angry and cursed them out, but what for?  What good would it do?  If they didn’t do it intentionally, then I might be ruining their spirit by getting mad at them.  If they did it on purpose, I wasn’t going to let them ruin my spirit by getting angry.  I eventually found a spot, and enjoyed a nice little (long) walk into the store to find the doggy sweater.  When I got into the store, I was surprised by Santa Claus, who was taking pics with pets.  He was sitting alone, and caught me off guard.  I said, “Oh!  Hello Santa!” He said, “Hello Little Girl.  Have you been good this year?”  I actually stood there, and thought about it for a minute.  Then I told him I have!  I’ve been really good!  It’s been a rough year in a lot of ways, but I’ve been good, and I’m still full of happiness, positivity, good cheer, and holiday spirit.  He wished me a merry Christmas, and then welcomed a couple of little dogs in elf hats onto his lap.

Others can choose to be negative, angry, suspicious, manipulative, mean, and critical.  They can attempt to kill my spirit when they have none.  Others can choose to rush, and put pressure on themselves to do everything, feeling stressed and drained of any Christmas cheer.  Don’t force that on others who choose to be appreciative of life.  Take your “Bah humbug!” somewhere else.  Find your true Christmas spirit, and keep it all year long!  Spread true Christmas cheer year round.  It will most definitely keep you off of the naughty list!

Be Happy, Coping, Family, Happiness, Home Sweet Home, Love, Relationships, Togetherness, travel, Uncategorized

Togetherness

Well, the holidays are officially here, and I am now ready to celebrate with the decorations, food, and Christmas music…..not a bit too early!

This Christmas is one I am looking forward to.  I always do, but this year, Al and I are hoping to make a trip to Kansas City to see my three children, my grandson, at least one of my sisters, and maybe a few other family members.  My son will be home from the Navy, so I am anxious to see him, and spend time with my girls.  I am one of five daughters, and my parents were each one of five children, so we have a pretty big family.  But I haven’t seen any of them since July, 2015, and it was for less than 48 hours, since we were there for my nephew’s wedding, and then went to spend a week in New York.  It has been over five years since I have seen all three of my children together at once.  Think about that for a minute…..going years without seeing your family…….as different as my sisters and I are, I still love and miss them every day.  I haven’t seen my best friends (and won’t on this trip either) for 2 1/2-5 years or longer.  I love and miss them terribly too.  I do have a couple of uncles, aunts, and cousins who live about an hour from here, but we don’t see them very often.  It’s nice to have some family a little bit close though.

Since Al moved here in 2014, we have been to New York to see his mother and sister three times, and he has gone twice by himself.  He has been to Miami with his friends from Sweden three times.  We’ve been to Orlando to see his father three times.  We’ve been to Sweden.  We’ve also taken a couple of trips to New Orleans, and a short honeymoon cruise, but the focus the last 3 1/2 years has been to make sure he gets to see his family (especially his parents) and friends, after spending so long living out of the country.  Now we have an opportunity to go to Kansas City, between Christmas and New Year’s, and it’s all I can think about.  Kansas City is beautiful during the holidays, and I will get to see my “babies!”

I have friends living all over the country.  But, as women, most of us don’t take the time to take many getaways on our own.  At least, that’s been the case with me and most of my friends.  We have our jobs and responsibilities with our homes, children or pets, and don’t feel like we can take a break from it all.  I’m usually the one making sure everyone has what they need, and I forget to think about what I need.  I’m trying to do better with that.  It’s hard for me to do without feeling selfish.  Since funds are tight, and now with my health conditions, I can’t exactly justify taking off for a week or weekend to hang out with my friends by myself.  Traveling alone wouldn’t be a good idea because of everything going on physically with me.  I’ve been working very hard at school and also trying to get started in the real estate business, to try to get us a little bit ahead.  Frankly, between that, and all of the medical crap I deal with, I’m worn out, and need a change of scenery.  Maybe someday, I can travel alone again, but not now.

While I love living in a warm climate (even though they are predicting snow this Friday!), and it’s much easier on my arthritis, sometimes I need a break too.  Hopefully, I can get a much needed break to see some of the people I love and miss.  And what better time to do it than at Christmas in Kansas City?

Attitude Adjustments, Childhood Innocence, Commercialism, Holiday Spirit, Holidays, Innocence, Materialism, Season's Greetings, Thankfulness, Togetherness, Uncategorized

Stop With the Commercialism!

Well, I noticed it happening about a month ago……that dreaded event that sends many people on both sides of the debate into a frenzy…..some even getting hysterical and violent.  Yes, I’m talking about the Christmas decorations in stores……BEFORE Halloween or Thanksgiving! Enough, already!

Don’t get me wrong.  I LOVE Christmas, and the spirit of Christmas.  My mother loved that time of year, and made sure to instill the spirit of giving and spending time with family into my sisters and me.  She never once told us that Santa wasn’t real, and I have never once said that to my children or anyone else.  Santa, or the spirit of St. Nicholas and giving, IS real. Without turning this into a religious debate, or theme, the Christmas SPIRIT is about love, family, friends, food, giving and sharing, time to be together, etc.  Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, but I have friends and family who are not religious, or follow a different religion. They can still celebrate this season because they appreciate that spirit. Yet, when we have the commercialism of the season thrust in our faces well before the season is upon us, it does make some of us want to boycott.

I understand kicking off the season during the Thanksgiving holidays.  I used to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade every year, as I could smell the turkey roasting in the oven.  As soon as it was over, with Santa making his first appearance of the season, I would help my mother and sisters with the preparations for our family meal.  We began putting up our tree during this week because my sisters would be home from college, and wanted to participate.  My mother decorated the whole house beautifully with lights, greenery, decorations, and the tree with our treasured ornaments on it……some we made when we were little, some belonged to my grandparents, and a lot were given to my parents by church members.  I have a lot of those ornaments on my tree now.  My tree definitely doesn’t belong in a department store, and doesn’t have a color scheme or particular theme, but it is FULL of love and memories of people I love, and places I have lived or visited.  I think it’s beautiful!  It represents our family, and the love we share.  It always makes me a little sad to take it down.  I look forward to putting it up every year, and decorating the whole house, but not before Thanksgiving, and don’t even talk to me about it before Halloween!

Thanksgiving deserves to be recognized more.  It does go hand in hand with Christmas, and the love of family and gathering together, but why do we skip straight to Christmas without being thankful for all we have?  My husband spent a long time living out of the country, so he missed out on Thanksgiving for thirty years.  He loves Thanksgiving! He really gets upset to see the Christmas decorations out in stores too early!  Now that he’s back in the United States, he wants to enjoy this holiday as it should be enjoyed……being thankful for EVERYTHING…….family, friends, love, good health, food, a roof over our heads, jobs, freedom, and having each other.

The commercialism of Christmas is greedy, and is killing the happiness that some of us feel about it.  Am I sounding a bit like Charlie Brown here?  When I say I love Christmas, some have misunderstood, thinking I love the commercialism.  Nope!  Nope! Nope!  Absolutely not! I’ve never been to a Black Friday sale.  I’ve never bought into having to have the latest trendy toy for my children, risking my life to get it! I put my tree up during the Thanksgiving holiday, and leave it up until New Year’s.  I’ve never felt like I have to compete with someone to make sure we have the best toys, clothes, gadgets, electronics, or furniture.  I hate going into stores during the holiday season because of the crowds. I hate seeing the Black Friday (or even Thursday) crowds trampling each other for material things, or hearing of people shooting each other for merchandise.  That’s not what it’s about, folks!  Fortunately, some stores are starting to at least stay closed on Thanksgiving, but it isn’t enough.

We have to stop buying into the corporate greed and forgetting the true meanings of these cherished holidays.  Stop buying into the greed and meaningless newer customs of having to have more and more materialistic things! If you want to keep your tree up year round, decorating for different seasons, go for it.  A lot of people do this.  But don’t shove fake spirit down our throats.  Commercialism and greed disguised as spirit isn’t spirit.  Look around you.  Be thankful for all you have.  Stop buying crap you don’t need just because some talk show host or magazine article says you need it.  Better yet…..why not carry the true spirit of Christmas with you year round?  Why not be in the holiday spirit every day, giving the gifts of love, time, patience, tolerance, generosity, thankfulness, togetherness, and compassion for each other?

Yeah…..I don’t have much faith in that either…..but I can at least try to set that example.  In the meantime, I guess Al and I will just stay out of those businesses that insist on blasting us with their phony corporate “spirit” and greed.  And no one better ever tackle me for a holiday air freshener just because Oprah said to buy one!  Call me Scrooge or the Grinch, but I’m pretty sure I have a better handle on this than those who insist on rushing the season, and forgetting what is truly important in life!  Corporate America, and American consumers need to stop making it about money and materialism. That’s not what it’s all about.