Tag Archives: family

Mowing Musings

30 May
Mowing musings:
 
As I was out mowing my yard this evening, I had time to ponder some statements and situations that have come to the forefront of my life the last few weeks. And I just kept thinking, if only every person could have empathy, kindness and understanding for the people in their lives and the people that cross their paths.
 
You see, we all have different stories – we all are at different stages of life – we all have different levels of responsibilities – we all are on this journey called, LIFE. And to each of us, our struggles are real – our worries can be overwhelming at times – there are things we wish we could change. We all have experienced loss of some kind – there are different kinds of loss…. loss of dreams, loss of health, loss of finances, loss of relationships, loss of loved ones. Every loss leaves a hole and an empty space in our lives – no matter what kind of loss it is.
 
The world would be such a better place if we didn’t place more value on what we are dealing with and where we are in our present situations bigger and more difficult than everyone else and his or her situations and place in life.
 
My story is not your story – your story is not mine. For me to think my story is better than yours or more important than yours is very selfish. To each of us our story is big and important and hardships are difficult. I should never place more value on what I’m going through over what you are going through. To each of us, our hurts are real – they cut to the bone. To each of us, our loss is very painful…no matter what that loss is.
 
When we say, well, people just don’t understand where I am and what I’m facing and what I’m dealing with”, we are really staying stuck in a pity party that is going to do nothing to move us forward. I may not have gone through exactly what you have gone through but I can empathize because I’ve had my own disappointments and struggles.
 
Each of us is writing a story and our story is very real. Let’s respect one another’s story and let’s not compare. But instead, let’s extend kindness, understanding, and empathy. Let’s not demean or place lesser value on other’s stories and think that our story is the most important story. Let’s build up, support, and encourage and truly listen when someone else is sharing where they are and what they are feeling.
 
I hope we will place value on every person in our life – whether it’s family, friends, colleagues, the person at the grocery store, etc. Every person has worth and value – let’s recognize that!
 
From my heart……
Thanks for reading!

Haiti, Wednesday, February 22nd

9 Mar

For the women, we were given the luxury of staying at Bon Sam orphanage all day long.  It was the first morning that we didn’t have to be up and ready by 8 a.m. And even though we didn’t sleep in, we all sat around and chatted over our cups of coffee as we soaked in the morning sunshine and the sounds of the kids in school.  Oh, yes – in case I forgot to mention, there’s a place for school right in the compound and kids from the community are invited to attend as well.  It’s one big area and then they divide into three parts for the three different age categories.  They start the morning by lining up at the flagpole, they sing a song (we heard several different songs while we were there), pray and raise the Haitian flag.  They then go to their school and continue with the lessons for the day.  

A few of us chose to walk to the little store that was close by – we needed to buy a birthday cake because this would be the annual birthday celebration at Bon Sam.  Most children do not know their actual date of birth – nor do they know the exact year they were born.  So many times, the date of birth on their file is just an estimation.  Therefore, Second Chance Haiti chooses to celebrate everyone’s birthday at one time.  Even though it’s only a 15-minute walk to the store, we aren’t allowed to walk without our translator and security.  I found myself craving junk food I would never eat at home…..Pringle’s.  I bought Pringle’s every time we went to the store.  I didn’t eat the entire can and would share with everyone…but, still, Pringle’s??? Couldn’t figure that one out unless I just wanted the salt or the reminder of food from home.  I also would buy pineapple juice and a small bottle of Perrier and then mix the two; it was very refreshing.

We got back and then decorated for the birthday party.  Lots of streamers – party hats – goodie bags with lots of candy – gifts bags with presents – the famous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – and then we had outdoor activities planned.  It was funny because some of the girls had made lots of pb&j sandwiches; however, as we started passing them out, we quickly found out that each child (from the littlest to the oldest) wanted at least TWO sandwiches. So, once again, we were making pb&j as quickly as we could until we had given everyone at least 2….I’m pretty sure several ate three.  And then, there was cake!  We sang the HB song and then enjoyed cake….even the dogs were given some crumbs.  Smiles were all around!

The sidewalk chalk was handed out and everyone found a spot on the concrete block wall to draw and that kept everyone occupied for at least 30 minute.  It was a beautiful wall filled with lots of hearts by the time the kids were finished.  Then we had soccer happening, whiffle ball being played, and double dutch jump ropes going round and round.  I think Summer and D’Anna were at their post for at least an hour.  Lots of laughter filling the courtyard as everyone enjoyed the beautiful afternoon.  Another group visiting from Georgia stopped by and they joined in playing with the kids and drawing on the wall.  It was very heartwarming to just sit there and watch the interactions between the “blancs” from the US and the kids of the orphanage just being present in the moment….playing, laughing, communicating even though we didn’t speak the same language.

It didn’t matter what was happening all around the world – didn’t matter what was happening back in the United States – didn’t matter what was on social media and what was on the nightly news – didn’t matter what was happening in the lives of actors, actresses, music icons, sports icons, and reality TV.  What did matter was the love that was being shared between everyone there – the smiles that were lighting up the eyes of every person – the squeals of laughter as the kids enjoyed the adults playing soccer with them, trying to jump rope with them, drawing on the wall with them, pushing the swing for them, throwing the whiffle ball to them, or taking fun selfies with them.  That was the most important thing happening in the world at that moment, and I’m sure God was smiling down on Bon Sam that day.  You see He holds a special place in His heart for children – He says He knows us before we are even formed in our mother’s womb.  When we take the time to love on a child, especially a child without a dad or a mom, we make Him happy and the world is a becomes a brighter place because of those interactions.  Those are the moments that will matter when all is said and done….it’s not important to me if I ever meet anyone “famous” because I’ve met the most famous people I ever want to meet and it’s those children at Bon Sam.

Haiti, Monday, February 20th

6 Mar

We started our day in the Croix-des-Bouquets market.  We were educated the night before and were told that we couldn’t take backpacks, purses, cameras, phones, etc.  We needed to stay in a line and with the group at all times – we were not to stop to look at anything.  It’s always a challenge for our security to take such a large group to the market and we needed to do all we could to make their jobs easier.  Well, they could tell us all they wanted to but it truly couldn’t prepare for the actual market.

If you’ve ever watched, The Amazing Race, when they go to a local market in a third world country, then you have some idea.  Even watching it on TV, I was not ready for the actual craziness.  I would never attempt this on my own and am glad for our security and our translator.  There were vendors, people, motorcycles, cars, jeeps, truck, BIG trucks, wheelbarrows, live animals, dead animals, etc.  Anything you can think of was being sold.  There were thousands of vendors.  I was trying to take it all in but it was very difficult because you had to look down at your feet to watch where you were stepping.  There were a few times that we had to grab the hands of the people in front of us and the people behind us.  BUT i loved it!!! And can’t wait to go back!!!

We were purchasing live chickens, live goats, beans and rice.  We went to the chicken lady first and let Ashley and the translator barter.  I think we ended up with 10 chickens.  They were tied together as pairs and we had to carry them by their feet.  You can imagine that this was quite the feat 😉  They didn’t really like being carried upside down and would get a little agitated.  Plus, from the time we bought them until we got back to the van was about one hour.  So, they had lots of time to get unhappy.

We went to the meat section next…..that is the area that I didn’t like.  Tables and tables of raw meat, organs, etc. It was warm so lots of flies and not a pleasant aroma to take in!!!  But, that is where we had to purchase the live goats.  I used some of the money given to me to purchase a goat.  So they got me a little male goat – I named him, Bruno.  And then I was able to parade Bruno all through the market.  He actually was a good goat – he didn’t like to get his feet wet so any time we came to a little bit of water, he would just stop and I would have to pull him to get him to move.  He also was quite hungry so would try to nibble on anything green that he saw.  Of course, the Haitian vendors didn’t like that so I had to make sure he didn’t “steal” anything!  You can imagine the fun we brought to the market.  There were 15 of us “blancs” and we all were parading goats or carrying live chicken all through the market.  One of the goats would just lie down in the middle of the road and refuse to move. So, our translator proceeded to just drag her as she bleated loudly! Yes, there were lots of smiles on the faces of the vendors and lots of laughter, as well.  We crazy white people parading with our menagerie!

We took the animals back to Bon Sam orphanage and then drove over to FOSA orphanage to spend the rest of the day.  Some of the team worked on getting the clothing and shoe sizes written down for all of the children.  The guys started building some storage trunks.  And then some of us went to another market so Mariflor could purchase the items to make us dinner.  Of course, I went with that group.  I loved the market experience and wanted to see a different one.  This second one was nicer and not as chaotic as the first one.  After that we went to a very nice grocery store, and we enjoyed some cheese, some bread, and a bathroom with running water!!! The rest of the day was spent having a Valentine’s Day Party with the kids, giving the kids their sponsor gifts and then enjoying a fabulous dinner made by Mariflor.  We had okra, plantains, potatoes, bread, spaghetti with a meat gravy and onions, peppers and garlic.  It was SOOOOO good!  Our van stopped at a cafe on the way back to Bon Sam to get food for a volunteer who had been ill – it was quite fun because the cafe is called, Vols Cafe, and is decorated in orange and white…but it has nothing to do with the state of Tennessee. Dena and I were happy girls because they had an espresso machine and we were able to get a latte.  It’s the little things, folks!

It was a great day – lots of fun memories made.  Some discovered that the market was not their thing and they don’t ever want to go back 🙂  Others of us loved the adventure and the chaos.  We ended the evening on the roof under the starry skies and shared our highs for the day, lows for the day, prayers, and devotion.  Then went to bed and fell asleep to the sounds of the Haitian city.  Nothing like it!

Friday Fitness Tip for 12/16

16 Dec

Friday Fitness Tip:

1) Have a bite before you go out.

Many times, people will choose not to eat because they know they are going to a party where there will be lots of food. That is the worst choice to make – by the time you get to the party, you’ll be ravenously hungry and won’t be able to make good choices and will end up overeating and feeling horrible the next day. Eat normally throughout the day – breakfast with protein, a great lunch (big salad with lean protein) and even have a snack before heading to the party…An apple and some almonds. This will keep you from eating too fast because you’re hungry and will allow you to enjoy the foods you want to eat.

2) Keep each celebration limited to one day.

Don’t go into Holiday mode and just eat everything and anything when you want and skip all of your workouts. This will cause you many tears on new year’s day when you realize you’ve gained five pounds!!! Go to your Christmas party – and then the next day go back to making your good choices AND make sure you get in a workout!

A review in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the longer it takes you to re-focus on fitness, the more your enthusiasm for it will dim, and the harder it will be for you to get back on track. In short, a day off won’t hurt you, but a week or two off can derail your progress toward your goals. It can also inflate your waist size, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology. The researchers found that just two weeks of inactivity can increase belly fat by seven percent. So, skip one day but then get right back on track!!! Your 2017 self will appreciate that!

3) Keep calories in perspective.

All of these tips are not meant to make you frantic and not enjoy the season. They’re just meant to help you be aware of your choices and how to keep from gaining the typical 5-7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. A few high-calorie meals during this season will not sabotage your fitness goals.

A better strategy: Focus on how many calories you burn during the course of a week, not each day. As long you are making good choices and eating healthy 80 percent of the time, you can cut yourself some slack during the other 20 percent.

What are some ways you stay balanced during this time of the year???

Friday Fitness Tips

9 Dec

Friday Fitness Tips:

Here we go….take a deep breath….you can do this!!! The “most wonderful time of the year” is upon us. This month causes mixed reactions in most people. Some people love every moment – some tolerate it – some dread it. Regardless of your feelings for this month, I’m going to try and share tips every Friday that will help you be healthy and well and finish 2016 strong!!! I’ll share three tips today that I think are the most important for starting this month.

1) Don’t skip breakfast. Breakfast sets the nutritional tone for the rest of the day, and you don’t want to send your body into survival mode by prolonging your overnight fast. Bonus points if you swap your bagel for eggs and your venti latte for a short black. Doing the former can help shrink your waist by 34 percent and your body fat by 16 percent, according to a study in the International Journal of Obesity.

The reason: You’ll consume fewer calories in subsequent meals. Doing the latter can save you 188 calories a day. And let’s be honest, it’s the caffeine you love anyway. Feel like you never have time to make breakfast? Have some grab and go options – almonds, apples, boiled eggs, bananas, etc – that can help you with the morning rush.

2) Keep a food log – yes, even during the Holidays. This will help you maintain and not gain and keep you aware of what you are consume. It’s a pain in the butt, but it’s shockingly effective at helping people eat healthier, according to a study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The researchers found that people who recorded everything they ate for a week lost six more pounds than people who didn’t. Don’t bother buying a notebook—smartphone apps like MyFitnessPal, Lifesum, and Eatly make recording what you eat easy. All three also sync with third party fitness trackers, helping you gain a more holistic view of your health and daily activity. I use MyFitnessPal and love how it helps me be accountable.

3) Don’t skip workouts!!!! Skipping just one workout can initiate a downward spiral, increasing your odds of skipping another one by 61 percent, according to British researchers.

The solution: Think smaller. Instead of trying to carve out time for one long workout, do two or three short ones. “In so doing, you’ll boost motivation, eliminate ‘too busy’ as an excuse, and accelerate both muscle building and fat loss,” says Chad Waterbury M.S., a Los Angeles-based exercise physiologist.

A great go-to is a Tabata based workout. 20 seconds of a move, 10 seconds rest and repeat for 8 times total. You can choose one move for four minutes and then choose another move for the next 4 minutes. In just 16-20 minutes you can have a great, effective workout done.

If you would like for me to post a tabata workout, comment below and I’ll give you one to add to your resources 🙂

So, incorporate these three tips for the rest of the month and I’ll share more next Friday! Let me know if you have any questions or if I can be of help to you. I offer free consultations and would be glad to help in any way that I can.

Remember, breathe and take time for yourself in the busy days ahead.

Alignment

28 Sep

This morning I made my way to Dr. Eddie, my chiropractor, so he could make some adjustments and continue helping my spinal column to be in good alignment.  The vertebrae in our spinal column can get out of alignment due to lifestyle, poor posture, stress, weight, etc.  The spinal column has a very important job of protecting the central nervous system; our central nervous system is VITAL to our well being….it’s how we live, move and breathe! I’m very aware of the importance of good alignment in the spinal column.

Another important alignment that has to be made every so often is on the tires of my car.  This has to be done so that the tires are set to the car maker’s specifications.  It reduces tire wear and ensures that my trusty, little Toyota Corolla will travel straight and true and not pull to one side.

I have to make alignments in my spiritual life, as well.  I have to align my thoughts, my hopes, and my purpose with God’s.  I have to put my trust and hope in Him and know that He is my provider and works all things out and brings about good things in my life.  When I neglect to keep myself in proper alignment vertically (between God and I), the relationships in my life get out of alignment horizontally.  I begin to put people into a position that is not fair to them.This puts unrealistic expectations on them as I begin to expect them to meet my needs or make me happy.   My peace of mind is not dependent on what others do and don’t do; my happiness is not based on people.  However, if I’m out of alignment spiritually, my emotions, thoughts and feelings will be based on others and their actions.  This makes for a very rocky/bumpy roller coaster ride….it’s not fun for anyone – me or the people in my life!  When I’m out of alignment, doubt, fear and worry will fill my mind and these things will make me want to react in negative ways.

As I align my thoughts with the Word, peace, contentment, joy, purpose, hope, trust, faith, and rest enter into my life, my heart, and my mind…..no matter what is going on around me, in me, or in my life.  The following scriptures come alive and bring peace:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18

God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in time of trouble. Psalms 46:1

I sought the Lord and He answered me.  He delivered me from all my fears. Psalms 34:4

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him.  Psalms 37:4-5

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

And there’s many more words that bring value, rest, peace, contentment and hope.  That is why it is imperative that I keep my vertical alignment at my top priority…when that is in perfect alignment, all is well.

How’s your alignment?

Reflections

22 Jul

ImageMy journey with Grandma has come to an end……On July 12th around 7:30 in the evening, Grandma took her final breath here in this world.  I’m not sad for her…..but I am sad for me.  This last two years my life has revolved around her….visiting her on a daily basis…feeding her lunch or supper (depending on the day)…spending Friday and Saturday evenings with her….going to church with her at the nursing home on Sunday mornings and then feeding her lunch….decorating her room for holidays and new seasons…..taking her to activities…..watching her sleep…..seeing her sparkly blue eyes light up when I would walk into the room…..laughing as Grandma would crack me up with some random remark…..holding her hands….rubbing her feet….putting lotion on her…..giving her manicures…..bringing her treats…….praying with her…..  Sooooooo many memories and I’m grateful for each one.

I’m so glad I made the decision two years ago to move from Michigan to Knoxville, TN.  I was the assistant to our wellness director at the YMCA in Muskegon, Michigan, and was going to be hired as the director in the next few months….I took a leave of absence for one month and while I was checking things out in Knoxville, I interviewed with a Y and was given the chance to teach Zumba once a week.  That was enough to know that I was supposed to move….my career as a director was put on hold and I quit working 40+ hours per week and started over with just one class per week.  Scary?  Yes! But knew that everything would work out and that Grandma was my mission and my purpose in life at the time.

For two precious years I was able to be with her on a daily basis…I find it interesting that she was my caregiver the first two years of my life (my Mom worked full time when I was born so Grandma was my babysitter) and I was her caregiver the last two years of her life.  And, I wasn’t ready for her to leave just yet….thought I had more time….I spent time with her on Wednesday, July 4th and then I left on Thursday for a few days…went to Delaware to celebrate a wedding.  I got back to the nursing home on Tuesday, July 10th and walked in Grandma’s room to see her on oxygen and not looking well.  I just thought her O2 levels were low and the oxygen would make her all better.  I spent time with her and then had classes to teach.  Wednesday morning, the nursing home called to let us know that Grandma was not doing well and probably would not be with us longer than a few days.  I finished teaching my morning classes and hurriedly showered to get there.  I walked in and knew that she would not rally back for us this time….I called my Mom and told her she needed to get on a plane or get in the car and start driving.

Grandma was not left alone until 6 p.m. on Thursday…..people came to hug on her and love on her.  I stayed by her side until 6:00 Thursday morning….had precious alone time with her and sang her favorite songs and then reminded her of all the things we did together – assured her that she was the best grandmother and that she had done a great job.  She would hear my voice and focus in on me for a moment – or if I got up and did something, she would become alert again before fading out.  I gave her many kisses and just loved, loved, loved on her.  My boyfriend, Jeff, arrived around 1 in the morning and stayed with me until my parents arrived at 5 a.m.  Mom stayed with her while we all left to get a little sleep. We all came back and spent most of Thursday with her – I decided to go ahead and teach one class – my parents and uncle went to get a bite to eat….and while we were all gone, Grandma took her final breath.  I really believe she wanted to protect us from seeing her leave us.

Grandma was 85 and would have turned 86 on the 25th of this month.  She lived a full life and made many memories with all of us.  She showered us with love – prayed for us – bragged on us – gave of her time, energy, and money – she never missed a birthday or special occasion – she was a classy lady who dressed like a queen.  She loved  wearing White Diamonds and her clothes still smell like it.  She carried beautiful embroidered handkerchiefs and loved her angel brooches.

Her life was celebrated and remembered by the many people who came to the visitation and funeral.  She was surrounded by pink, her favorite color.  The flowers that arrived were simply breathtaking and would have made her so happy.  One thing she would have been upset with is her thumbnail was snagged and not filed….she would not have liked that!!! 🙂  Her nails were always manicured. I didn’t wear black….i wore ivory and rose because that is what Grandma would have wanted.  And my sister and I sang at her service…something else Grandma would have wanted.

Now we begin the process of continuing life without her being in our daily lives and routines – that is a little unsettling because there will be no more Grandma’s house to go to….and as we all know, there’s no one like Grandma 🙂 My daily routine will seem empty and void for a while….my family has been here so it’s not settled in, yet…and I know I have more tears to cry.  However, the last two years of my life have been filled with so much love and joy and all the moments are priceless.  I’m honored that I was able to have that time with her. Life is short and we never know when we will have to say goodbye to a loved one….that’s why it’s important to focus on what matters and what will last.

Goodbye, my sweet grandmother…..until we meet in Heaven…..