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Archive for April, 2009

It is an absolutely beautiful day.  The sun is shining and I hear birds singing. There is a little breeze blowing and the temperature is probably in the low 70’s.  I can see some fabulous flowers blooming from my window.  Who could ask for anything more!

Oh, I am so very grateful that my husband and I each have work that we like and therefore, the money to put food on the table, a roof over our heads and the transportation that we need.  But, more importantly, it allows for me to enjoy this glorious day.  It does matter if you take the time to look around and take in all of the beauty that you can see.  It gives you such a feeling of peace and love and a real appreciation of everything that is just sitting there for you to enjoy.  And it puts you into a frame of mind that allows you to want to share your happiness and gratefulness with others.

I think that is why I am so enjoying my time writing these blogs and sharing my experiences with others.  My realization has been that we all have hard times and tough things with which to deal in our lives.  If you enjoy each day and appreciate all that it gives to you, it doesn’t take long to realize that all of the good things far outweigh the bad or hard times – if that is what you choose for yourself.

By your own choice, you have the opportunity to focus on the positive things in your life.  When you have a problem with which to deal, you can address it, choose a course of action and follow that course.  You can put your energy into overcoming the tough things that come your way and you can muster the strength in order to fight the fight.  But, you also can choose to wallow in self-pity and focus on the bad things or the tough times instead.  You can keep saying, “Why me?” and focus all of your energy on feeling badly and concentrating on how life has handed you a bad hand to play.

For me, I chose to take the hard things in stride, face them, deal with them and then try to find out what I could learn from them.  In my writings and sharing my tough times with others, I am hearing from those who have either gone through the same things or have been supportive of others who have experienced the same.  And the one thing that shows up over and over is that all of them have a very positive attitude.  They tell me how much they appreciate my sharing, how it helps them, how it helps others and that I am such a wonderful example to others for the work that I am doing.  And I am sitting here saying, “Whoa!”  These people are awesome.  I know so many people who haven’t faced what I would call a tough day in their lives and they don’t have a bit of appreciation for anything. 

Then I started to wonder, was that the way that I used to be?  Is that the reason that I’ve had to have the experiences that I’ve had?  I know that the answer is no.  But, I also know myself well enough to know that if that had been the reason; I would rather go through the tough times to learn about living than to never have the tough times that resulted in my having an appreciation for the wonder of life.

I’d love to hear your comments in the box below.

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I have recently been chatting online with a very inspiring woman who wrote to me the following sentences in her second post – We’ve got to bring love & joy to this life, and pass it on to others! All we can do is encourage others with positive ness – we ARE Survivors, and now we need to be there for the others that are in our OLD torn up shoes.” Little did I know that these words were being shared from a mother of two who has multiple sclerosis who spends her days (including weekends) doing surveys in order to make extra money for her family.  Her messages are always filled with upbeat words of gratitude for her life and what she has and a willingness to help others.

This reminded me of a recent post that I saw from a woman who was arguing that we should be giving money and benefits to those who are here illegally and never worked a single day in their lives in this country.  She feels that not to do so is being racists and imperialistic.  She believes that everyone is entitled to these things even if they are able-bodied because this is the United States. I did respond to her and would like to share that post with you now.

For as long as I can remember, I have had to work for everything that I have.  When I was young, I got shipped off to my aunt and uncle’s place for the summer.  They had an orchard and I was the one who had to pick the strawberries and raspberries, etc. because the migrant workers wouldn’t do it.  They only wanted to pick the fruit off of the trees.  They were provided with housing, food and wages.  I had a bedroom in which to stay but after I got done picking berries in the morning that went to the market to be sold, I had to do all of the ‘backbreaking” housework, too.  I received no money and if I were fortunate, my aunt would make me some popcorn as a treat in the evening.

From the time I was 12, I worked for a neighbor doing bookkeeping until I was 16 and started working every day after school, Monday and Friday nights, Saturdays and full-time in the summer in order to make money to go to college.  I did this throughout my college years as well and the summer after I graduated from college, before I started teaching in the fall, I worked in a book factory with no air conditioning in 100 degree weather and often times at 100% humidity gluing covers on to books that would be shipped to schools and libraries.  Believe me, the smell of that glue was nauseating. 

I have worked every year of my life to this day and have been paying into the Social Security system for all of that time and I know that there is a really good chance that there won’t be enough money to collect from those contributions when I get to retirement age.  Therefore, I am not really enthusiastic about money being paid out to those who have never contributed a single dime.  I have had to pay for my own health insurance or go without it when I couldn’t afford it, as has been the case on several occasions.  I worked for a company that had a government contract and the government did not pay the wages to which I was entitled.  That was for 8 months until they bankrupted the company for which I was working.  Therefore, I am not really very excited with the government handing out money to those who haven’t earned it.

I have never owned a home because I did not want to make a commitment to an obligation that I might not be able to meet.  I have never owned a new car or fancy clothes or purchased a bunch of “things”. 

 Maybe you can get the picture that my unwillingness to share my hard earned money with those who are here illegally has nothing to do with being  “racists”  or “imperialistic” but it does come down to taking personal responsibility for myself as does my husband who also works for what we have.  I was taught to work for what I wanted/needed and to help others who did the same thing who may have fallen on hard times.  That is a set of values that mean everything to me and I am so glad that I was taught that we are not entitled to the fruits of the labors of other people.

 

 

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I have always enjoyed the celebration of Easter.  I understand and appreciate the religious significance and have always felt very spiritual on this day.  I am sorry that many of the other traditions associated with the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ have gone by the wayside in recent years.  But I do enjoy the fun of the Easter egg hunts, the awesome floral displays provided by nature and the special meals associated with this beautiful holiday that is celebrated in the glory of a most gorgeous spring day.

Last year, I was not able to celebrate Easter.  Although it was not on the same weekend, Kirk and I found ourselves on a plane to Florida in order to attend my brother’s funeral.  He had died unexpectedly earlier in the week in surgery and we were all walking around in a state of shock.  I suppose Easter will always hold those memories but I definitely have incorporated all of my family’s traditions into the celebration again this year.

I suppose what I love most about the holiday is the way that it is celebrated with family and friends.  It is so nice to see everyone getting dressed up in their best finery and going to church together.  I love the joy of the children hunting for the hidden candies and the delight when they locate them.  I love the fun that we all have while rolling the hard boiled eggs to see who has the winner from the nest.  I really enjoy preparing the meal where we all sit down together and share lots of good conversation.  But, most of all, it is the togetherness that reigns supreme.

I hear so many people talk about how they wish that the spirit of the holidays would remain all year around.  The interesting thing is that if you gather your family and friends near you and keep them there, you have that same sense of happiness and holiday all of the time.  In these days and times, it seems that everyone is so very busy that they can’t seem to sit down together for a meal or plan some time to spend with one another.  They are missing out on the important things in life.  If you must work long hours, it is not only important to you but also to your family to give them some dedicated time.  It may be only 10 or 15 minutes but not only do you have a moment to wind down but also they know how important they are to you if you make them feel special in this way.

If possible, share at least one meal a day with your family and/or friends.  It gives you time to sit back and relax and talk and laugh rather than plopping yourself down in front of the TV or computer and not even being able to enjoy your meal.  If you can go out on a porch or patio and enjoy the sunshine and beauty around you, this can vastly improve your experience.  If you are all alone, then prepare something really special for yourself and light some candles and turn on the music and sit back and relax.  You work hard and you deserve to treat yourself in a way that rewards your efforts.

No matter what you choose to do, you will be so much happier and alive if you include the spirit of a holiday into each day of your life.  Put a smile on your face, picture a cute bunny in your mind and send out tons of happy greetings to every person that you meet along the way.  If that is your focus, you can count on your day being so much brighter.

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I had an entirely different subject picked out for my musings today but having just completed a number of interactions with some of MySpace “friends”, I have decided to go in a different direction.  I have made a connection with so many wonderful, strong, caring and sharing new people there that I just have to share. 

The last place that I ever expected to meet such a group of people was through a social networking site.  Most of them are survivors or caregivers to survivors.  Their stories are absolutely amazing and the depths to which they have had to go in order to survive is nothing short of miraculous.  And for all that they have endured; the one theme that I see constantly repeated is that they care about other people to a degree not normally seen and that they are willing to share themselves and their experiences with others so that others don’t feel so alone.

For those who are here in support of me as a cancer survivor, I have received tons of wonderful prayers and blessings and offers of help if there is anything that I need.  I have received the stories of so many who are going through radiation and chemotherapy for anywhere from the first to the fourth time.  And yet, there they are, reaching out to me with their prayers and apologizing for not being able to write sooner because they have been too sick or preparing for surgery or recovering.  I have received so many notes of thanks from those who are out there fighting their own battles for the fact that I am willing to share my own story, something to which they can relate and appreciate and understand.  They are letting me know how much they feel supported in their own struggles when others take the time to listen and share and pray for them as well.  And to all of those caregivers, I must keep telling you that you have the harder part and that you will never know how much you are appreciated.

There are those who have come to me in support of my being a survivor of domestic abuse.  They have shared the awful atrocities that they have endured, the ends to which they have been driven in their own retaliations and lives that have been full of nothing but pain for as long as they can remember.  And they have come here to share their stories so that others can know that there is no shame in these lives, that there are many others who know the same experiences and to thank others who are willing to speak out and tell the world that this is not right and is not acceptable and they are not to blame.

So, to every single one of you who has taken the time to write to me, who has posted words of kindness and understanding, who has shared your own story to help others and who has let me know that by my sharing my experiences that I have helped you, I thank you.  Each one of you is a very special person because you are reaching out to others with your love and caring.  You are strong and courageous in your own survival.  You couldn’t be a better “friend” if you knew me intimately in person for what you have given to me.  And as I am sure that each of you knows about me by now that if there is ever anything that I can do to help you, I will do so.  You are all in my thoughts and prayers every day.

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