Merry Christmas…

To all…I hope you have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year! I hope you will dream dangerously and outrageously. The only failure is in not trying. Take risks. Be kind. Be wise. Show compassion. Help others. The world needs more of that right now. It always has. Love one another as God has commanded us to do. Don’t judge. Don’t hate. Be respectful of others even when you don’t agree. One person can make a difference. You might not change the world, but you can change the world for one person. 

For those of you who aren’t experiencing the “storybook” Christmas this year…Maybe you’re grieving a loss. Perhaps you’re lonely, discouraged, or worried about the challenges you’re facing. I assure you there is no one who hasn’t struggled through a holiday or two. Be gentle with yourself. Stay open to the kindness of others and stay open to some small, Christmas miracle. 

Merry Christmas to all!! I wish you all the best… today and always!!

Small Town Life…

I was born in a small town. Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world, waiting on a midnight train going anywhere. Just a few lines from songs by John Cougar and Journey to describe who I am. 

I had big dreams of catching that midnight train and going wherever it would take me, but only ended up settling an hour away from home in the “big city”. Of course if I could go back and do it all over again, I would. The world was a big ol’ place full of adventure. At the time I had no responsibility and yet no courage to venture out. Now that I have the courage to do so, time has also brought about too many responsibilities to just pick up and go. Someday I will!

I miss my hometown, but I’m lucky because it’s only a short drive anytime I get the urge to go for a visit. I find it hard to go back to visit since my mom passed away, but I do go back to visit my dad, sister, aunts, uncles, and cousins. 

This is one of my favorite photos from the small town I come from. It just reminds me of home:

There are many pros and cons for the small town life just as there are for life in the city. 

There’s never a lot to do. Not many places to shop or eat, but it has grown since I lived there. One of the greatest past times as a teen was to “cruise” Main Street in your car and then everyone ended up parking in the church parking lot and hanging out. A short honk as you passed a friend was a way to say “hi”. If you “layed” on the horn as you passed someone, it meant you wanted that person to pull over so you could chat awhile. Sometimes you’d park your car and get in with someone else and keep on cruisin’. A good part of my paycheck as a teen went towards gas money to accommodate all this cruisin’!

It was the kind of town that you waved at everyone you passed while driving because you knew everyone. BUT if it was one of your friends, you crazy waved  as you passed…I mean it was one of your best friends after all!

It was also the kind of town where everyone knew who everyone else was. There wasn’t a lot of privacy and you couldn’t get by with much…gossip or the truth, everyone knew what was going on with you. Sometimes they knew what I’d done before I did! I always knew to tell the truth when I got home if I was asked where I’d been or what I’d done because chances were my parents already knew.

The plus side to this was that if you had a crisis or a death in the family, everyone knew and the whole town was there for you at the drop of a hat. When you had a death in the family, people would come by from all over town and bring a casserole…dessert…tables and counters would be covered with dishes. They’d visit with you and pray with you and you knew you were not alone.

Where I live now people don’t do that. The city is too big. It’s not a close knit community. However, at least in my neighborhood, if something happens I make it a point to visit and do what I can to assist my neighbors.

Here in the city, no one pulls over for funeral processions except those of us who came from small towns. Back home everyone pulled over off the side of the road to show their respect. Men would even get out of their cars, take off their hats, and place them over their hearts. That’s respect! Not only for the person who passed away, but for their families as well.

I for one think the pros of living in a small town outweigh the cons. People always watched out for you and your kids. If you needed help with something, you didn’t even have to ask and no one expected anything in return.  It was a simple way of life and simple was good. 

We all have big dreams no matter where we live or where we come from. We’re always waiting on that midnight train to take us somewhere…”anywhere but here”. And once we get where we’re going and life happens, we usually long for those simpler times of our youth.

I can’t say I’d want to move back and live there, but I can say it’s always nice to “catch that train” and go back home once in awhile. 

No matter where I live, I’ll always be a small town girl at heart. Nothing will ever change that.

Christmas Memories…

There is nothing more magical than decorated trees, lights, Christmas music, presents, and family and friends to brighten up your life.

Christmas tree ornaments have meaning beyond decoration. Each one tells a story of a time, person, or place and marks years and decades of special memories. The ornaments I bought to mark something special for that particular year. The ornaments given to me as gifts. The ornaments that my daughter made thru the years. 

Every ornament hanging on the tree brings back a special memory, but the ones my daughter made throughout the years are my favorite. Those pieces of art are what make a Christmas tree perfect! 

… and since every ornament tells a story, it takes me forever to decorate my tree because I pause to remember each memory as I hang them. 

My daughter’s Elf On A Shelf Elmer “retired” a few years ago. He no longer moves from place to place in our home, but sits in the tree beside the elf ornament I had as a child. 

A few things before I sign off. Wear stretchy pants on Christmas Day. Do not forget the stretchy pants. (You know it’s good advice). Just wear the same ones you wore on Thanksgiving. If you’re traveling this Christmas season…be safe. If the pies burn or the tree tips over don’t let it get you down. Laugh at every given opportunity.

Remember the reason for the season…Jesus Christ our Savior. The true meaning of Christmas is truly what matters and the greatest gift to all mankind.

May the message of Christmas fill your lives with joy and peace and may God’s blessings shine down upon you and your families this Christmas season. Each of you are awesome in your own unique way. I’m glad to know you and have you along.

Merry Christmas from our home to yours! 

Another Year Older…

The day is almost over and I’m another year older, a little bit wiser, and very grateful.

It’s ironic that as children we can’t wait to get older and as adults we wish we could be free of all the responsibilities we have and slow down the clock. One piece of advice I would give to teens and young adults is this…don’t wish your lives away. Enjoy every moment because you won’t get them back.

Yes, my hair is getting gray, but I have a good hairdresser. She’s also a great person and good friend and that helps because I have to visit her more often than I once did.

I’m getting a few wrinkles around my eyes. Yes, they’re signs of aging, but also proof that I’ve laughed and cried. The laughter and tears have both helped me find a balance in life. 

One of the things I’ve worked on this past year is to not spend time worrying about things I can’t change…with myself and with others. I think I’ve made progress. It’s helped me find time for more laughter and not worrying about what others think of me. 

I am me and I am enough. On this birthday I vow to to be happy and feel joy as often as I can and to find it in all the little things we tend to take for granted. Tomorrows are what birthdays are about and I’m going to collect as many good memories as I can. 

I’m reminded of a few quotes as I close…

There is no expiration date on fabulous.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. C.S. Lewis

God didn’t promise: days without pain, laughter without sorrow, nor sun without rain, but he did promise: strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way.

Happy birthday to me…

Life In The Single Lane (3)…

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their families. Christmas is just around the corner and I’m ready!

I went out with a friend Wednesday night to celebrate our birthdays….mine early and hers late. I’ve only know her for about 8 months and she’s become a really good friend. Like me, she’s single and has a teenager that keeps her busy, but we try to go out a few times a month to relax and have some fun.

We usually go to a local bar/restaurant close to home. The atmosphere is nice and the food is good. It’s not the kind of place people go to in the hopes of meeting someone of the opposite sex. My friend is the “single and ready to mingle” type. I’m more of the” single and ready to be nervous” type. Hopefully my awkwardness makes me adorable! 

We’ve had guys buy us drinks, sit down and chat for awhile, and then move on. If they see us the next time we go in, they say “hey” and the whole process plays out again. Friendly guys hanging out in the neighborhood bar with no expectations other than to sit and talk for awhile. It’s nice.

After this happened the last time we were there, my friend and I had a discussion about being single and relationships. We’re both alike in a lot of ways. Can’t we just find a man who’s there when we want him to be and not there when we don’t?!? Sort of like, “Hey! Let’s go to the movies. Let’s go to dinner. Come over and hang out”….on our terms. Of course in our minds the men are perfectly fine with this arrangement. They actually like it.

Be there when we want you to and leave us alone when we don’t, but make sure you contact us once in awhile so we know we can still count on you when we want to see you again. 

I know that sounds selfish and not very nice. It’s not because we’re mean. If we are, there are other women out there just like us because I’ve heard it said before. We just like our freedom, yet want to enjoy some male companionship minus the relationship BUT there also has to be a connection. 

I’m certain we won’t always feel that way, but right now that’s the kind of “situationship” we’d like to think we could find.  And no, I’m not talking about “no strings attached” sex or one night stands. That’s not who I am or who I want to be. I’m not passing judgement on anyone else. It’s just not something I’m comfortable with.

I’m not saying any of this would work out the way my friend and I talked about. It was just a conversation between two friends and in our perfect worlds, at this moment in time, that’s what we’d be interested in while we live life in the single lane.

Update…for the past several months I’ve been talking to a man who lives a few states away. He’s very nice. Friendly. Respectful. Successful. Funny. Interesting. Like me, he’s divorced. He travels with his job so we’ve talked about meeting the next time he’s in the area. It’s nice to have someone to talk to again, but I have no expectations. I’ll just enjoy the interaction for the present and let the future take care of itself. 

For Cindy…

I learned yesterday that a childhood friend passed away after several years of fighting breast cancer. I didn’t realize the extent of her illness because distance separated us and we didn’t check in with one another as often as we should have. If I’d only known then what I know now….

I didn’t cry until I sat down to write this and all the precious memories I have of my friend came flooding over me. 

After high school we grew apart as most of those friendships tend to do, however we did stay in touch with one another. She was a kind woman, a good wife, and amazing mother. She leaves behind a daughter the same age as my own. I know her well enough to know that she fought hard these past few years to enjoy every moment she could with her little girl. I’m sure her wish was to see her graduate and go out into the world on her own, but it wasn’t God’s plan….and that makes me sad because we can never understand “the why” and just have to accept it.

It’s times like these we wish we would have called to talk or made plans to get together. All the reasons or excuses we used to put it off come crashing down around us. We feel guilty and selfish. We thought we had time. We didn’t. Make time. That old saying “it’s never too late” isn’t true. 

I have no doubt she was a fighter and that she fought until the very end. When you see someone battle cancer remember, They. Are. A. Warrior. They find strength they didn’t even know they had and are an inspiration to all who know them. 

If there’s someone who’s been on your mind or an old friend you’ve wanted to reach out to…do it! Make the call. Make plans. Follow through. You don’t always have the time you think you do. 

**You can slow down now Mario…you made it home.