Thursday, September 30, 2010

Going out with a boom

Yesterday was the last day of my 29 days of Giving.  I decided to give every opportunity I could.  I took food to my weight watcher's meeting for the food bank, I bought Harvest Homecoming pins, which benefit our town's Harvest Homecoming celebration (we don't usually go- too crazy crowded), I donated to the Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk, I spent extra time giving each of the puppies the belly loves that they love.  Essentially I tried to step outside myself and make it about everything but me.  In the end, there is a real feeling of satisfaction. 

I think my next step is to re-read the book, keep going to the website and look for other creative ideas to give to others.  Then I can begin again with another 29 day challenge. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Potpourri of Things

It's a beautiful Fall-feeling morning here in Kentuckiana.  Yes- I am still participating in my challenge.  It has mostly been little things each day and it definitely keeps me on my game.  I really have to stop and think.  On one hand I could write and write about how it makes me feel- on the other hand writing about the actual give would probably bore you senseless.  For example;  Friday, Day 24, I took a variety of books to my infusion center.  They have a bunch of boxes of books there for the patients to read during their infusion and we can borrow them and bring them back next treatment.  While I have never used them because I always bring something with me to read- I liked the idea and I knew that our very hardworking nurses love to read as well so I made sure to bring something they would enjoy as well.  Not very exciting in the grand scheme of things but they really enjoyed digging through that bag and seeing the new titles and that felt good.  I think what it is doing most for me is making me step outside myself and shed my day and think about someone else.  Definitely makes you stop wallowing and start getting creative. 

Speaking of getting creative.  I have been collecting for some time now all sorts of things for two vision boards.  Yesterday I complete the first of them.  This first one is for my weight loss journey.  On it is everything from pictures of three "celebs" that I think are just knock out gorgeous to photos of people doing Yoga to the actual goal to words of inspiration.  It is sitting next to me almost at my elbow so that every time I look to the left- that is what I see.  It pulls your eye do different places each time.  This time I could see "Eat Right" or "Lose for Good", next time "Discover a new calm", "Fear of Nothing" or "A journey to healthy" and then "Hello Bombshell" or "Always be your best."  The idea behind the vision board is to focus me and keep me inspired to stay on this journey. 

Another step in this is my accountability to my dear friends.  Two of my friends, my sister and I have a little group on facebook where we talk about our challenges, we share tips and ideas and are generally sharing our weight loss struggle.  In this group we have created the common goal of moving every single day.  We have created "Accountability" threads for Yoga and Pilates and we have found that each of us has cable and on our cable box we have ExerciseTV on our OnDemand.  This gives us a variety of different exercise programs to choose from and so we found one 40 minute Yoga that we really like collectively that we share and we all have other programs that we like individually.  Each day we check in on those threads and tell what we did or did not do.  This morning I just wasn't feeling it.  I didn't sleep well and I was sore and tired but knowing I had to check in- I couldnt' NOT move and so I did 20 minutes of modified yoga and movement.  After I did it I felt like I had started my day the right way.  Even if I take it easy the rest of the day- I have gotten in my movement for the day. 

I also started today watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition from last night.  Nine minutes in I had tears just streaming down my face.  I love this show.  I have watched every single episode.  It just pulls at my heart in so many different directions.  In this episode, rather than a single family they were doing a house for Girls Hope in Baltimore.  The Girls and Boys Hope program is located in 15 cities across the country.  In the residential progam- the "Scholars" as they are known, move out of their family's home in some of the worst neighborhoods in the city and into the shared house with house managers.  The program employees and volunteers mentor these children in a holistic fashion and partner with the parents to help these kids acheive their dreams.   The Baltimore Boys program (who nominated the Girls program) has a 100% rate of their graduates who complete the program going to college.  What a fantastic success rate!  In watching these boys and girls in their interviews each of them are so grateful for the opportunity that they have been given and were so excited to get to a time in their lives when they could in turn pay it forward.  What a difference this will make in their lives and the lives of so many girls and boys for years to come.  I love that EMHE chose this program for this season's opener.  It's so much bigger than just one nuclear family.  The initial "class" of girls is 7 strong but with the 11000 square foot home- there is room for even more as the program settles into their new home and grows.  Kudos to ABC for their selection of this group. 

Well- that's my round up of "good things" for this weekend.  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a terrific week. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 22- Our "preferred" charities

Yesterday's give was a donation to the Louisville AIDS Walk.  Some of the kids from the school have put together a team and I have to support that.  I am grateful that they have chosen to do this and that I could help out a little with my donation. 

Everyone has those different causes and events that they support.  Hubby and I have our "Fave Five" charities.  You know- the one's that you wish there was not a need for but that you will always support.  Ours are:

The Arthritis Foundation (natch)
Breast Cancer Research (both Avon Foundation and Komen)
The AIDS Foundation
The American Cancer Society
The Humane Society

These causes are very near and dear to our hearts for different reasons.  I won't expand on them because some of the stories are my honey's to tell but suffice it to say that believe strongly in what they are doing.  We also believe that we would like to see a cure for the top four in our lifetimes.  This is not to detract from any other causes because there are others that we support both seperately and together but these 5 are the most important to us as a unit.  We commend the work done by the different foundations and we also commend anyone who gets out there and does what they have to do to spread the word about both the work being done and the reason for it.  They get a big YOU ROCK from us!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 21- World Gratitude Day and an Anonymous Iced Tea

Happy World Gratitude Day!  I spent today making a mental list of all of the small things I am grateful for.  The usual things like just waking up this morning and my puppies and my honey and my son.  I also made it a point to share the day with everyone I could.  I made sure to thank EVERYONE for everything. 

On my way home I stopped at the store and treated myself to a Starbucks Iced Tea.  I then told the young lady to charge me for two and give one to the next person who came- I knew that would be my give for the day.  She was mystified.  Obviously she hasn't had that happen before because she stopped ringing me up to go tell the other two girls working with her.  They were all taken aback.  I hope that they passed on the iced tea- and that it made an impression on them and made them want to try it too. 

I want to take just a minute to thank all of you who read this blog.  Your comments make me smile, they make me laugh, they make me feel like we are in this together.  I appreciate that- and the time you take to read and write here- more than you can know.  You are a gift to me!

Days 18- 20, A Walk, A Bag and a Book

Whew!  It's been an exhausting couple of days.  I will try to keep this not-too-long.

Saturday- Day 18 was the Arthritis Walk.  It was a beautiful day for a walk, not terribly hot in the morning which is important.  The Arthritis Foundation of Louisville did a wonderful job of organizing everything.  I love that they invite the River City Drum Corp out every year.  I can't speak for everyone but those talented kids keep me moving the whole 5k.  We had some terrific sponsors again this year so that was fun too.  After that was over- I rushed home and we got the dogs ready for our second charity event of the day- the Bark in the Park.  This event is just what it sounds like- a day in the park for the pups with all sorts of pup related "stuff" from veteranarians to different rescue organizations and it is put together by the shelter where we found Auggie and Harley.  We picked up new bandanna's for the "kids", they got to see the people who cared for them and they ran around like crazy until they were totally worn out. 

Sunday- Day 19 was a recovery day for us.  I was worn out and so were the puppies.  We wanted to relax so we took a drive into Oldham County into horse country.  It was just beautiful.  On the way back we stopped at the store for dinner.  While we were there, for my give, I picked up the donation bag that I intended to pick up the last time I was at the grocery- before the alarms went off at the store.  I am grateful that our store has these ready.  They are in a big bin and are mesh bags that contain tuna, mac and cheese, canned veggies and fruit and other items.  You just take the bag to the cashier and they ring it up for you and you put it in the box for the shelter.  The best part of all of this is that it makes it easy to give something at any time. 

Monday- day 20 was back to work.  My assistant was having car and phone trouble.  It was an easy decision to make- I took her to the garage to drop off her car and then to the Verizon store to get another phone.  While we were in the car running around, I also shared the book that kicked this all off with her and gave her a copy- with the request that when she finishes it- she passes it on.  At the end of the day- I took her back to get her car and then went home for the day.

 I was thinking back on the day and I can't believe it has already been 20 days.  There are only 9 days left to go in this challenge and while I don't know what is in store for me in terms of my gives- I am so looking forward to where this takes me. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 16 - Turning "Bad" into "Give"

Yesterday was day 16.  It was a LONG day at work and when I was done I was SO ready to go home but before I could I had to stop at the grocery. I love grocery shopping and I like to buy the "helping hunger" tags and bags and planned to do so for my give for the day.  So I was wheeling around the store- just spacing off- and had been at it for a bit.  I still had a few items to get when I phone rang.  I looked at it- didnt recognize the number and dropped it back in my purse.  I figured it was a wrong number so why bother?  Two seconds later- phone rings again- from a different number.  This time it was from I picked up.  It was Campus Police telling me that the alarms were going off in my store.  I told them I would be back ASAP.  Hung up with them- phone rings again (now I am getting annoyed) and it's the security company- telling me the alarm is going off in the store.  I rushed through the rest of my shopping and called the other half to tell him dinner would be late and headed back to the store. 

When I got back there was nothing amiss but it had erased all my relaxation.  I walked through the whole store before I realized that it was most likely the mylar balloons that we had bought for our open house that had set off the alarms.  The air had kicked on- they moved- and set off the motion detectors.  I wasn't about to leave them there to get calls all weekend so I cut them all down and was about an inch away from popping all 30 of them when I realized that beyond being a pain in my butt they could possibly bring some joy to someone else.  I gathered them all up and took them down to the police station.  I asked if the officer sitting there or the dispatcher had children who would enjoy the balloons.  Neither did- but our dispatcher admitted he loves them.  So I handed them over and he just smiled and smiled.  He told me he would be taking them home and sharing them with his mom. 

I said my goodbyes and left- feeling much lighter in spirit than when I had returned.  I am so glad that he will take them and enjoy them for the whole weekend.  I am also glad I realized the "culprit" so that I wont be making trips back and forth all weekend.  ;-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 15- Small Things Add Up- and I need to remember that.

Small things adding up became the theme of my day yesterday.  I was sitting (half of forever) in the drive through at McDonalds yesterday morning waiting for coffee.  I must say- I almost never go to McDonalds for anything but my place that I stop for coffee is being renovated and since I was in a hurry I decided to bypass going into Starbucks and give McDonalds a shot.  I think it was a sign for me to slow down and get my head right because it turns out that McDonalds computers were down and so as each person got to the little order speaker they hollered out "We are accepting cash only please pull ahead to the first window and we will take your order."  That means that things were SUPER slow. 

While I was sitting there waiting I remembered that they have a little bin below the window where you can put donations for the Ronald McDonald House.  The idea is that a lot of people will throw their in their change.  Of course I put my change in there and then I struggled with whether or not it was "enough".  I looked in the mirror behind me and saw the line of cars and was reminded of an email that I created years ago when I was first doing fundraising for my Avon Walks.  The gist of it was that any donation, all donations, make a difference.  I figured up what it takes to get to a thousand dollars:

100,000 pennies

20,000 nickles
10,000 dimes
4,000 quarters
1,000 singles
200 fives
100 tens
50 twenties
You get the picture.

Now- ask yourself- how many pennies do we throw away every year? How many pennies, nickels, dimes or quarters do we walk over on the street? Let me tell you- they add up, and quickly! So- if you want to put them to good use- let me know. You can email me for the address to literally send those pennies and we will roll the up and turn them in or you can go to my Arthritis Walk web pages and make a small donation.
I looked at all of the cars behind me again and imagined how much money would go to the Ronald McDonald house if every car that came through that day gave their change.  I bet it would add up pretty quickly.  Finally I got my coffee and off I went. 

The irony here is that I ended my day at Weight Watchers.  I got there and I got on the scale and I was down two tenths of a pound.  I struggled with this while I was waiting for the meeting to start.  On one hand I kept thinking "You have been on prednisone for 5 months now- you know people who are up 25-60 lbs from five months on this drug and you had a loss- take it and run."  On the other hand I was disappointed with the ONLY .2 pounds.  I have struggled with the same two pounds since April.  Up-down-up-down and I have let it really derail me on occasion.  All of these things were swirling through my head when our adorable little leader Valerie came in and revealed the theme for the meeting.  Her board said:
Why don't we appreciate?

She proceeded to ask how many of us hear these numbers at the scale and are disappointed?  Not one person in the room kept their hands down.  Valerie talked about how these small losses add up and how we can take the small weeks and learn from them.  While she was talking I kept kicking back to that whole dialogue I had running in my head in the drive through at 7am.  It made an impact.  I realized that while I can appreciate the smallest donation to my causes, I beat myself up when it comes to small weight loss.  Do you see the inconsistancy that slapped me in the face?  I finally did and that was a terrific gift received. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 14- Reaching out

Today's gift-  I sent another simple email but this one was one just reaching out to an old friend.  It shouldn't have been hard but I didn't quite know what to say.  We didn't part on bad terms or anything but it's been so long and I feel guilty for not doing my part in having kept in contact.  I sat with my fingers on the keys and didn't quite know how to start. I contemplated a million things to say and and a million ways to say it.  In the end I just let her know that I was thinking of her and I missed her.  In writing it out, I felt that missing just a little bit more and at the same time, in letting her know I felt a little better about it.  She may not get back to me and that is okay- as long as she knows that I was thinking of her today.  I don't know about anyone else- but knowing that someone is thinking of me fondly can make a big difference in my day. 

Day 13- Sometimes you have to break the rules

A little explaination before I talk about my give for Day 13.  My business is not like traditional retail.  Where else would you hear "I know it's after the return date but my book hasn't come in from (choose your other retailer here) yet so can't I just buy one from you today and return it after my test?"  or "Can you write down all of the information for me so I can go buy from so and so?"  We hear a million and two reasons why, despite having worked hard to make sure we have the right book at the right time and selling our products in good faith, we should either take the product back beyond the returns period or help someone buy it from another vendor.  It can be very frustrating not only for me but also for my staff who work so hard to get everything in and on the shelves and to the customer and then 8 or so weeks after school starts, have to pack up everything that is left and return it to the publisher or wholesaler. 

Another issue we have that most retailers don't is with "packages" or "bundles".  Software and access codes are becoming more and more prevalent and the latest "money saver" being touted by publishers is to pack up looseleaf versions of the books.  The problems lies when the student opens up the looseleaf book or the access code and then wants to return it.  We do not have the time and manpower it would require to page through every page of a looseleaf book to make sure that every page is there.  If we were to spend that time- our returns lines (which already look like the day after Christmas in most retail establishments) would take 3x as long.  Can you imagine the complaints that would come out of that?  If the access codes are open- there is no way for us to know or verify if that access code has been registered.  If we took either of these products back we could not just (as with traditional books) put them on the shelf and hope that someone purchased them.  We would have to write them off- and that loss is not small.  Because this has become such a big issue, we not only have added to our return policy and tell each customer verbally that they should not open the package until they are positive that they will use it- they now have to sign an agreement acknowledging that if they DO open the package- they forfeit the right to return the product.  Since instituting this agreement it has cut down signficantly on the "Well, no one told me!" as reasons why we should give a refund on an access code that has been opened and registered and therefore can never be used by anyone else. 

So yesterday my staff sent a gentleman to me who had a return request.  The gentleman's son had withdrawn from school and though my staff had taken back most of the books that he had purchased- there was the issue of a looseleaf package that had been opened.  I talked to the gentleman for a bit and got the backstory.  I am not going to lay it out here because it's not my place to share but I will say this- as a parent, I would hope that if I were in the same situation that someone would show compassion.  And so I broke the rules.  That is my gift for day 13.  They may not ever know that this was my "gift" for the day- but I know that afterward I felt that I had done what I would want done for me had the situation been reversed.  I hope that someday- given the opportunity- they will pass this one on. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 12- Keeping the Peace

Today was a very cranky day.  I don't know what was up with me beside the fact that I was dealing with extra pain today but it started out bad and could have gone very far downhill from there.  Just before noon, after I got back from taking my dogs for their training walk,  I got into another sniping match with my long suffering, often annoying, other half.  This was the third or fourth today.  Instead of escalating it- I walked away. 

When I walked away I started thinking about this challenge and I knew that I was not in a giving frame of mind.  The more I thought about it, the more my brain started racing and the worse it got.  I took a few medatative breaths and decided that the only way that I would find peace and get into the right mindset was to give my husband just that- peace. 

For the rest of the day I remained outwardly (even when my brain was firing off all sorts of bitchy remarks in my head) calm, I didn't allow him to irritate me (even when he was trying), I played took him (played designated driver) to get a pizza that I was not going to eat from a place that I don't even like, I left him to watch his stuff on the big TV till it was time to take the dogs out and then when we got home I loaded the dishes and let him hop in the shower first.  Now he is in bed, I am finishing this up then it will be my turn to shower and head to bed.  I am glad I made this choice today.  I know that I benefitted from it, he benefitted from it and even the dogs benefitted from it.  I think we will all rest easy tonight. 

Sweet dreams my friends.

Day 11- Lose for Good with Weight Watchers

For the third year in a row, Weight Watchers is doing their "Lose for Good" campaign.  For 7 weeks, Weight Watchers will donate up to a MILLION dollars to Share Our Strength and Action Against Hunger in an effort to stamp out hunger in the United States.  I love this because- as many huge celebrity fundraisers and such that you see for other countries- WW is turning their attention to home.  There is no excuse for anyone, child or adult, to go to bed hungry in the US. 

So how does it work?  Well- first of all- in WW centers all over the US, every time we get on the scale for our official weekly weigh in- Weight Watchers will donate a dollar for every pound we lose.  Think of the thousands of people who are on this program- and that is a LOT of folks stepping on the scale each week. 

Second is "Action Tuesdays".  Every Tuesday, WW will give it's members a challenge- and for every member who completes the challenge- a donation will be made. 

Third- and this is where this program ties in with my give- many of the centers are holding their own food drives to benefit local food banks.  Yesterday I ruthlessely ripped through my cabinets and put together items to take to my meeting on Wednesday.  It is sitting by the door and ready to go into my car when I leave today. 

 Don't want (or need) to join Weight Watchers?  You can still help.  On Tuesday, September 14th- Weight Watchers is hosting Lose-a-palooza.  From the site:  For every accepted mention or acknowledgment of “Lose For Good” made on September 14th through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and check-in via foursquare, Weight Watchers will donate $1 – up to $60,000* – to Share Our Strength and Action Against Hunger.

It's that easy on Tuesday.  So get those hashtags ready and mention it on facebook, twitter and your blog.  Weight Watchers has made it easy for all of us to make a difference!  Applause to them for this terrific campaign. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Day 10- an email

I had today off.  I was so ready for this that I stayed up a little late last night and slept in this morning.  I then proceeded to do not much of anything important all day- and best of all- I didn't even change out of my pajamas.  It was a great day overall.  BUT- not getting out of the house presented a small challenge- what could I give today? 

I thought it over long and hard and what I did was send an email to my father-in-law.  Though I love him we don't talk very often. He is not super communicative.  My husband calls him occasionally but my father in law doesn't call or email on his own.  After my mother-in-law passed away last year, I made a real effort to either send him a letter or email every single week.  After months of no response- I gave up.  Well, today I decided that my gift was to give it a shot again.  He may not respond- but that doesn't mean that I can't make the effort.  So I sent him an email just to let him know I was thinking about him.  It almost feels....less hurtful I guess to send the email fully aware that there is a very slim chance that he will reply.  Kinda like anticipating putting peroxide on a wound-lol. 

Tomorrow is another day!  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 9- Donation for the Cure

 My middle sister is walking the Susan Koman Walk for the Cure. next month with the folks from her workplace.  I am very proud of her for walking this event for the second year in a row.  I am grateful that she has taken up this cause because for four years I walked for breast cancer and I have turned my attention to the Arthritis Walks (Louisville is a week from Saturday!)since I have moved to an area that does not have an Avon Walk. 

I do not- by any stretch of the imagination- think one is more important than the other.  I wish we did have Avon Walks out here because I think they are so very well run and I like what the foundation does overall so I would most assuredly still be walking for them if they were local.  We lost my beloved Granny to complications stemming from breast cancer less than 10 years ago so the cause is near and dear to my heart.  The Arthritis Walk, on the other hand, is very personal since I am living with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. 

My gift this morning is a donation to my sister's walk and the publishing the link to her walk right along side mine in hopes that folks are interested enough to donate to one or both.  Though we live so very far apart- I will be with her in spirit next month as she gets out there and pounds the pavement.  Between our two causes it is my hope that a cure will be found in my lifetime. 

Gratitude Reminder from my inbox

When I need the message most- things tend to show up and "hit me over the head" as hard as needed.  This was sitting in my inbox just waiting for me.  Quoted from the "Secret Scroll":

From The Secret Daily Teachings

Begin your day by feeling grateful. Be grateful for the bed you just slept in, the roof over your head, the carpet or floor under your feet, the running water, the soap, your shower, your toothbrush, your clothes, your shoes, the refrigerator that keeps your food cold, the car that you drive, your job, your friends. Be grateful for the stores that make it so easy to buy the things you need, the restaurants, the utilities, services, and electrical appliances that make your life effortless. Be grateful for the magazines and the books that you read. Be grateful for the chair that you sit on, and the pavement that you walk on. Be grateful for the weather, the sun, the sky, the birds, the trees, the grass, the rain, and the flowers.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

May the joy be with you,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 8- A night off

My honey is super tired today.  For some reason he was up at 3am and couldn't get back to sleep.  When I got home (finally) he was cooking dinner.  So, as today's gift, I emptied the dishwasher and took both dogs for their walks so he didn't have to come with us.  After dinner, I did the dishes.  It's not big, but I know that when I am tired- a night to just relax is just what the doctor ordered. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Day 7- The first book

I finally found a person today that, when I saw them, I knew that they needed a copy of "29 Gifts in 29 Days". 

My "buddy" James is one of the sweetest, most positive people that I have met.  He is the survivor of NINE (yes NINE) heart attacks- and he is about my age.  He wheels around campus in his scooter and never has a cross word for anyone.  He is always trying to get everyone he meets to smile. 

When I saw him today- I just knew that even if he didn't personally need the message- he would know who to pass it on to that would really need it.  When I gave it to him- he completely understood the gesture.  I explained how much it touched me and that I wanted to share it with him- but more- I wanted him to pass it along after he read it. 

I really hope that he enjoys the book half as much as I did and that whomever he passes it along to continues the cycle. 

Day 6- The Project

A while back Jim and I went to a kick off event for my coming Arthritis Walk Louisville.  One of the fundraisers there was the ability to buy "panels" that the buyer was to decorate which would then be displayed at the walk.  We bought one, we put it in the truck and promptly forgot about it. 

Now- I have to admit that I am NOT artistic in the slightest.  My mom and middle sister are scrapbook queens.  They do beautiful work.  Mom does toll painting and all sorts of crafts.  I think that gene got lost somewhere with me-lol.  So the thought of decorating this thing didn't even enter my mind.  Until yesterday. 

I wondered what I had to give yesterday and then my hubby cleaned out his truck so we could take it to a specific 4-wheel necessary geocache that dad wanted to get and he came strolling in with the panel.  Looking at it I knew that I not only wanted to decorate it- but I wanted to share my philosophy about my RA on this panel.  I asked Mom for help and we got down to work. 

We selected some of her scrapping papers that I wanted to use, and I chose stickers and stuff that I thought were appropriate.  Then I got down to the business of finding the perfect quotes to both reflect my philosophy and hopefully inspire someone who is newly diagnosed to think differently about this devastating news. 

Here is our final product:

The quote in the center: 

Yes- I am a terrible photographer-lol.  I wanted to highlight the quote that reads "Pain is inevitable, Suffering is optional. "  So we put that in the center with "my" footprints leading from that to our other quotes.  Notice that puppy prints are walking through the "picture" as well since Harley and Auggie are not only my training buddies but already completed one walk with me this year and will be doing this one too. 

The other two quotes read: 

"Sometimes the cards we are dealt are not always fair.  However you must keep smiling & moving on."  Tom Jackson

"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you." Walt Disney

The most important part of this is that Mom and I did it together and that the quote in the center truely reflects everything I am trying to say with this blog, with the 29 gifts project, with the way I live my life.  If only one person takes notice of it,  reads it and has an "Ah-Ha" moment- this gift from my heart will have served its purpose. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

The power of YES

Yesterday's gift was the word yes.  Though it was a perfect day to do absolutely nothing but relax- I decided that instead I would be game for whatever. 

Auggie wanted to play- we took his ball outside and threw it and he fetched till he fell over and flopped on it. 

Harley wanted to snuggle up for belly rubs- she got a solid half an hour.  Till she snored louder than my honey.

Honey wanted to nap- we took the dogs and napped as a family.

Dad wanted to go geocaching- we searched and found 7! 

Mom wanted to watch a movie- we stayed awake a little later and watched "Date Night". 

Everyone was happy, everyone got to do what they wanted to do, and it didn't hurt a bit. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Day 4 Knowledge and Closure

Yesterday was an interesting day.  I knew that my gift for the day would be sharing my time and knowledge with my cousin.  I didn't know where it would lead. 

I rarely get to see my cousins.  When we were kids, in the years between Dad coming home from the Vietnam War in '69 and receiving his commission in '75, we lived in the same town as my cousins on my mom's side.  We were stair step kids of sorts with my cousin Kraig and I square in the middle.  His two siblings older than us, my two sisters younger than us.  We played together at our homes and at my Granny's, and we really enjoyed one another.  After Dad received his commission, we left Evansville and started moving whereever the Air Force took us.  For me that meant 13 schools in far less than that number of years, different countries etc.  "Home" became Granny's house and she would travel to see us and us to her as often as possible.  When we were in Florida, she brought my cousins with her on the trip and then I went back with the four of them to Grans.  It was a road trip we would not forget. 

Over the years as we grew up, our trips became less and less frequent.   College and marriages got in the way, and even when we would return to Grans we might not get together.  In fact, in the three years since I have moved back to Indiana, I have seen my cousins at family events more often than I had seen them in the previous 20 years combined. 

Recently, my parents have been redoing a lot of "stuff" in their house.  When they got to the final room, they hired my oldest cousin to come and paint for them.  They had done the other rooms but this was their formal living room the last room to be done and they wanted it done right the first time.  While he was there, he and dad were on the computer one day looking for something and he was blown away by how fast dad's computer went.  It seems that he had a very old computer and was still on dial-up (oh the horror!) because they still don't have cable out where he lives.  Mom and Dad got ahold of me and asked me about our computer sale at the store.  We had a few left, so I arranged to get one for him and met Mom and Dad for dinner(I posted about it that night) and hand off the PC. 

A little later, Dad asked me if I would- next time I was in town- help my cousin get set up with his computer as I am the family "techie".  I agreed right away, but as I thought about it- there was some trepidation.  You see, he bought my Gran's house.  I haven't been there since she died a few years ago and I was afraid that it would hurt a lot to walk into the house that we called "home".  Despite this, I steeled myself and off I went. 

So- my gift yesterday was the time (almost 6hours) and knowledge that it took to get him set up on DSL and load all sorts of programs on to his computer so that he is able to just hit the ground running.  When I pulled in the driveway I felt the loss of my Gran wash over me but as I stepped in the house it wasn't all of the things that are the same that I noticed, it was the differences.  Even though it looked as if she could have still been there because it is mostly the same- there were enough subtle differences that it didn't FEEL like hers anymore.  That gave me a sense of peace and relief and enabled me to close the door on "Granny's house" once and for all. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Day 3- food and family

Today was all about working together.  One of the joys of having moved near enough to my parents to visit on a regular basis is that I can learn things that I never would have.  For example- last year we froze enough fresh peaches, strawberries and corn that I am STILL using them when I have a hankering for them.  This season we have already done my whole year's worth of corn.  Mom and Dad do theirs when they have time and then when I come down, Mom does mine with me so that she can show me and work with me so I get it right. 

Today was tomato juice.  If you have never had "real" (aka fresh- not out of a can) tomato juice- you are so missing out. It is so far superior in terms of flavor than the canned stuff could ever be.   Last week, mom canned tomato juice for her house and also made and canned homemade salsa- which is delicious.  She saved enough tomatos so that this weekend, I could learn to and put up my own tomato juice.  It is just delicious.  We use it to drink, to make soups, to make "goulash"- you name it.  Now I have my own "stock" of it and I am thrilled. 

The important thing about this for me is not that I am stocking up my pantry- though that doesn't hurt.  It is that this is something that my mom did with her mom, and Granny did with her mom- and so on.  I come from a long line of farmers and gardners.  Even if they didn't have a traditional farm- the different family members grew enough of their own fruits and veggies to can and freeze for over the winter.  I can still picutre- down in Gran's celler, shelves FULL of diced tomatos, green beans, corn, dill pickles, bread and butter pickles and other veggies.  What she didn't grow, she would trade her surplus with someone who had a surplus of their veggies.  Learning to can that juice this afternoon made me feel like she was right there with us.  It keeps me connected to my family and my heritage and that is priceless. 

After we finished the tomato juice- Mom decided she wanted to make a cobbler out of her peaches before they go bad.  While she blanched them we visited and then while she was peeling I stepped in to help by making the batter for the crust.  At some point in this- Dad came up and started slicing the peeled peaches.  When we ate that cobbler tonight after dinner- we were eating a true family effort. 

After that we all lay down to take a nap but I could not get to sleep.  I decided to go ahead and run to the store to get batteries for my camera.  I asked Mom and Dad if they needed anything and they each had an item that they wanted so off I went.  While I was in the car, I decided that my gift for today would be the items that they asked me to pick up (I refused their money)  and also a gift of my homemade guacomole to go with Mom's homemade salsa.  They also really like (and I do as well since they had me try them this morning) the Archer Farms Organic corn tortilla chips from Target.  So I added that stop to my trip.  It always takes me half of forever in the grocery because I enjoy myself there, but I think I even took a little longer today because I found myself really lingering over the different ingredients because I wanted it to be just perfect since it was my gift to them. 

This evening my aunt and uncle came over (they live in Illinois and popped in to town for the weekend) and brought my grandmother with them so we could all go out to dinner.  That is usually a fairly stressful thing for me because I find it difficult to be overly "nice" to my grandmother.  There are a large number of things that I blatently do not like about the woman but the top of the list is how she treats my parents.  I only wish all of the people who think she is "just the most LOVELY woman"- knew her home face rather than the snow job public face she puts on. I decided that- for my own peace of mind and out of respect for my parents- I would give her a gift this evening- the gift of civility.  I sat next to her at dinner, I made conversation, I was perfectly polite.  It didn't hurt me one bit- and I am sure that she didn't even realize it because I try very hard to be polite to her- but it was a stretch.  My middle sister "liked" a quote the other day on facebook that said something to the effect of "Being nice to someone you don't like isn't being two-faced, it's called being a grown up."  I couldn't help but think of that over and over again during the meal and dessert. 

It was a beautiful day here today.  The gift I received was that of a gorgeous, temperate, sunny late summer/early fall afternoon.  Perfect weather for sitting outside or on the sunporch with a cup of coffee and watching the dogs chase squirrels and birds and then spending the afternoon learning to put up tomato juice with mom. 

The only downer to the day was that I started having shooting pains from my TMJ to my shoulder.  This particular site is becoming painful more and more frequently.  What I am very grateful for is that Mom and Dad had one of those horseshoe shaped travel pillows in the car because it helps to relieve the pain to lay down with one, and that Mom had Tiger Balm patches in the linen closet.  Tiger Balm- which my child turned me on to- stinks to high heaven but I cannot say enough about how well it works on any and all muscle pain.  I am just very grateful that Mom kept the patches and the balm even though she is not a huge fan, because for me, it blows BenGay and IcyHot and the like way out of the water.  After 30-45 minutes- I started feeling quite a bit of relief.  Now- it's time for bed.  Tomorrow is another day and I have my gift already planned.  :-) 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 2

Today's gifts are more traditional gifts.  I am at the beginning of a long weekend and though I had planned on waiting till my hubby was out of work for the weekend- he will now have to work Saturday so he is sending me to my parents with the puppies and will join us after he is out of work. 

So- I am going to see Mom and Dad and I am taking them each a book.  100 Reasons I Love My Dad and 100 reasons I Love My Mom.  There are more than 100- but I want them to know that I am thinking of them always so this is given with pure love.  I was saving these for Christmas- but they seem more appropriate now. 

On a side note- I bought two more copies of the book yesterday.  I am looking for the perfect people to give them to.  I am keeping them in the car because when I know who it is that "needs" this- they will be with me.  I think the perfect time will just speak to me.

I am so ready to spend the weekend just relaxing there.  I need the down time and the pups are more than ready to run free in the yard.  It will be a wonderful weekend. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 1 of the 29 Gifts Challenge

I didn't want to be overly obvious for my first day so I started low key.  I knew my husband was tired tonight and I have a lovely long weekend ahead of me so I came home and without saying anything cooked dinner (it was his night to cook) and then did the dishes(whoever cooks does not clean up) before I told him that it was a gift for him because he had a long day.  He was surprised and I felt good about it. 

Pretty good start. 

My Own 29 day challenge

As I mentioned in my last post, the book "29 Gifts" has really touched my heart.  I have decided to not wait until I finish it but to just jump in since it is September 1st.  The only "problem" is that, as with most challenges in my life, as soon as I made the decision to start- I found my brain kicking into "planning" mode.  What can I give?  Who can I give to?  Planning this out will take away from the spirit of the challenge.  So I had to stop and rewind.  The only "gift" I am planning is books I bought for my parents.  Since I am going to see them this weekend- I will bring their gifts. Before I do however- I think I will write a note and put it in the book.

The challenge is mindful giving.  On the site it asks- "What do you most want to receive?"  My answer was peace and contentment in my soul.  I think this will help me greatly in my quest to live a positive life.  If I receive other "gifts" in the process- they will be bonuses. 

So now I begin- I will keep you updated on my progress.