Friday, February 26, 2010

You gotta be kidding me -- A "Winter Hurricane" -- What's next?!?!?!?!

I think I've about heard it all now. First two feet of snow. Then, three feet of snow. Then, the blizzard of 2010. Now........the "winter hurricane"! What's next?!?!?!? The winds raged, the snow fell to the tune of 18 more inches, the drifts in my driveway are over 6 feet high.......and all roads that lead into town are closed. Bare ground has not been seen since December 1, 2009, and it's now February 26, 2010. I don't know if I should laugh or cry or just pull the covers up over my head and sleep away the remainder of the winter.

Doesn't life throw all of us curves like that from time-to-time? It sure has happened to me more than once, and I'm sure it's happened to you, too! I can well remember the day when 5 of my kids broke out in chicken pox all of the same day. UGH! Or the time when the car broke down and had to be towed three different times in one week -- and all I was doing was trying to get the kids to the doctor because they had been vomiting for a week straight! Sure, I can recall the time the power was out for 5 days during a blizzard and the house was so cold you could see your breath. I kept the two babies bundled in snowsuits and had no way to heat their formula and they froze their little bottoms off just getting their diapers changed.

Stacks of unpaid bills. Sick kids. A broken down car. The flu. A killer migraine. And, then unexpected company standing at the door! We've all been there -- at the place of near collapse wishing that we could just hibernate until all of the problems go away!

But, the truth is we know that we can't hibernate, and as along as we're living and breathing there will be blizzards, snowstorms, and even winter hurricanes that will surround us, trap us in for a while, and try to crush us. BUT, you know what? We manage to make it somehow. We really do! And, sometimes we just need some reminders that life won't always be winter and storms. The sun will come out, the flowers will bloom, and the sky will be blue!

If you're getting slammed by winter right now like I am, try to relax. Sometimes there's nothing we can do but "get through" and hold on to the knowledge that this too shall pass. Winter won't last forever and spring will surely arrive!

I'm still snowed in, and you know what? I stayed in my pj's all day, drank a little wine, indulged in a lot of chocolate, listened to some awesome music, and took advantage of a day off from work. I had a "winter hurricane party", and the night is still young! Hey, why not make the best of a bad situation? Wanna join me? Hop on your snowmobile and come on over. Happy hour begins around eight!
Love and hugs,

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sometimes you just gotta get away from it all!

Sometimes you just gotta get away from it all! I know. I know every excuse in the book because I've probably used them all. "I don't have the time. I don't have the money. I have too much going on. I can't leave the kids. I can't leave my family. I feel guilty for thinking of myself. The time isn't right. I'll wait until next year. My car won't make it. I'm too afraid to fly. Everything's too expensive." And on and on the excuses go!

The truth is that sometimes you just gotta get away from it all or you'll go nuts! That's just about how I was feeling when I left for the beach a few days ago. This winter has been long and hard and cold and brutal. I feel deprived and grumpy when I don't see the sunshine and blue sky for long periods of time. I need to feel the warm sunshine as much as a baby needs to feel the warm hugs of his mama . Winter takes its toll on me, and I knew that it was time to get away from it all for just a few days.

No, my bank account wasn't ready for this trip. It's NEVER ready for a trip. But, I knew if I didn't let a bill or two go and head for the sunshine that I would be emotionally and physically bankrupt in another two weeks. So, I decided to cast all reason aside and fly the friendly skies to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina!

What happened? Well, I can tell you this much. I saw the sunshine every day! I walked the beach for miles and miles. I got up at 6:00 a.m. each day so that I could be on the beach with my camera in order to catch the first glimpse of the morning sun. I found hundreds of awesome seashells (and brought every one of my treasures back home with me). I laughed and smiled and joked and enjoyed meals with friends. I made new friends and laughed some more. I walked to the end of a pier and took hundreds of pictures of the ocean and sand and sea. I went to bed listening to the sound of the ocean waves lapping up against the shore. I woke up to the music of those same ocean waves beckoning me to come enjoy another day of play. And I played hard. And, I got revived.

The light in me that was beginning to flicker and dim is now shining brighter than ever! Yep, I have those same bills to pay. I came home to the same dirty dishes and laundry I left behind. The snow was still piled a mile high. The same problems I left behind were here, and even some new ones arrived. BUT, I'm revived!!!! I'm alive and revived and my mind is more clear, my heart is happier, and I weigh 5 pounds more. And, what a trip! What beautiful memories! What awesome experiences! What a nice retreat away from the grueling winter. What a sweet taste of the beautiful spring that is soon to come!

Do it! Don't postpone any longer. Sometimes you just gotta pack up and get away from it all!

Love and hugs,


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Every beginning has an end -- so they say!

I've never read a book that didn't have an ending. It may not have been the ending I was anticipating, but there was an ending. Today's blog I'm writing about is none other than the snow we've been getting that began in mid-November of 2009. It is now February 17, 2010 and it is still snowing. The pages of the "book of snow" continue. I know there has to be an end -- so they say, but it's not going to be today. The snow continues to fall. And fall. And fall.

Why is snow such a big topic, you might ask? After all, doesn't the northeast always get snow? Sure we do, but not of this magnitude. Not of this persistence. Not of this strength. Not of this length. We usually get a break inbetween blasts of the wintery white stuff. But, this time, it just continues on and one with nary a break, and every now and then you can throw in a 50-inch blast!

I guess this is a good reminder to me about life. Sometimes life's problems are like this snow. We tend to go through seasons when winter is winter -- all of the regular stuff we have to deal with. Then, there are WINTERS, the kind that give you the days of unending problems, the pile-ups of difficulties that lead to that one big blast that knocks us off of our feet for a while.

So what do we do? Well, in the case of "the snow story", I've decided to just watch it, not fight it, and on most days enjoy it. In fact, I set my alarm to get up earlier than usual this morning just so I could sip a cup of steaming tea and watch the snow falling gently from the sky. I wondered what God was thinking about all of this. Is this a gift -- a blessing? Maybe He wants us to slow down. Maybe He wants us to be more thankful for sunny days. Maybe He wants us to recognize Him as the Creator of all things -- even the snow. I know I found myself having some prayer time along with my tea time, and it felt good. I found myself counting blessings, not reminding myself of problems.

The same analogy can be made when we have "a problem pile-up" in our lives. It's so hard to do, but......maybe God wants us to slow down. Maybe we've been going full-steam ahead in the wrong direction and He wants us to stop before we fall into deep danger. Maybe our tired bodies and weary minds need a rest. Maybe He wants us to see the futility of this life and get real about things that matter -- things of eternal nature. Heavy stuff--these snow stories!!!

And endings? Who knows how anything will end? I love the element of surprise, don't you? When I read a book I hate knowing what the ending is going to be. I love books that keep me on edge right up until the final paragragh of the book. I think that's how it's going to be with this snow. There will be and end to it. When? Who knows? It could be tomorrow. It could be April. It could be June. Why fret about it? Let's just enjoy the element of surprise. We know for a fact that it's going to end. Spring always arrives -- and just at the right time, too!

About or problems in stinks when we go through the big pile-ups. And, worse yet are the 50-inch crashes that sometimes occur. But, there will be an end to those days, too. If we look we can always find a rainbow. There's never a time when spring doesn't arrive on time.

What am I saying? Hold on and ride out the storm. Every beginning has an end. We just don't know "when" or "how", but we have to walk by faith knowing that there is a gorgeous, beautiful, wonderful spring waiting for us!
Love to you all,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One hundred seventy five inches and counting!!!!!

Yes, that's correct. We've now gone over the 175 inch mark for snow accumulation this winter, and today the sky continues to drop down the white stuff at a steady pace of about an inch an hour.

I got up early this morning -- 5:30 a.m. to be exact -- and sprinted to the kitchen to flip on the outside lights. I wanted to see what was happening with the snow, of course. And, hardly surprised, I saw that the snow had continued to fall throughout the night and was relentless. We haven't had a winter like this since I can remember! My first thought was to get angry. Darn! Another day of fighting the icy, snow-covered roads to get to work. Another day of frozen feet. Another day without sunshine. But then...........

I put on a pot of delicious coffee to perk, and grabbed my most favorite soft blanket in all of the world, and began to rethink this entire snow thing. Okay. So, it's snowing. So what? The snow is beautiful. It's white and clean and fresh and soft. And, on top of all of that, my life is way too full of blessings to let snowflakes take away my joy.

So, I began counting my blessings, naming them one-by-one: hugs and kisses, love notes and love texts (hey, it's 2010~~~we text love letters these days!), wonderful kids and the most awesome grandkids, a family who loves me unconditionally. Okay, I know....getting kind of sappy, but it's true.

As I sipped on my steaming coffee, I thought of more and more blessings: a warm home, peace in my life, friends to die for, a wonderful job, the privilege to teach (something I LOVE to do!), delicious food, electricity, a computer, a car, a phone, and Oscar. How could I ever forget my dog, Oscar? He showers me with sloppy, bad-breath kisses every day whether or not I deserve them. He's my forever and always bud!

Sure there's more: the freedom I enjoy living in this land of abundance, kindness shown to me every day, eyesight, hearing, the ability to walk and talk, good health. God. God is central to my life and the foundation of everything I do. How much I thank Him for putting people in my life when I was a child who told me about my God. Thank you, Grandmom!!! Thank you to my mom and dad. Sisters. What a blessing -- one in heaven and one on earth. My cup overflows with blessings.

See what I mean? I could go on for hours naming the awesome people and blessings in my life!!! Now, don't get jealous and get thinking my life is ALL blessings and no pain. Are you kidding me? Everybody alive has lots of pain and heartache, and I've often been "Queen of Pain", know what? Pain always leads me right back to the same thing -- counting my blessings. I hope if you're having a rough kind of day today that you'll grab a cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa and start counting, too. Yeah. I'm counting the inches of snow that keeps falling, but I'm counting my blessings, too, and I think you can guess which pile is adding up the quickest!

Hang in there.......the snow will one day melt and winter will leave. But, your blessings are FOREVER!!!! Count them one-by-one, and fill that heart of yours with joy!

I love you bunches!


Monday, February 15, 2010

A Picture Really is Worth A Thousand Words!

Well, it has happened -- the worst winter in a century or more! Over 160 inches of snowfall, with another foot of snow in today's forecast. And, to think it's only February!!!!

I'm cold. I'm tired of being snowed in. I'm weary of shoveling my porch only to have it covered over in snow again in a few hours. My stomach gets tied in knots when I get in the car to drive on the icy roads with near zero visibility. I'm not amused with ice boulders every few feet smacking into the side of my car. And, I'm already anticipating what the flooding is going to be like when this snow finally begins to melt.

BUT..........the truth of the matter is that winter is here and there is really nothing I can do to change that fact. I can fuss and fume. I can cry and whine. I can pout and scream. I can threaten to leave the area. I can kick in the side of my car when it gets stuck in yet another snow drift. But none of that helps. It only gives a spike to my blood pressure and makes my mood change to a dismal level of complaint and ungratefulness.

We really and truly do have choices when it comes to situations like this. We can fight it, OR we can make a quiet resolve to get through the "winter of our lives" as best we can and come through a survivor. I've decided to chill out and get through. One of the ways I'm doing this is by looking at lots and lots of pictures of happy times I've spent in the sunshine! Times when life felt good and right and warm and wonderful. Times when the sun was literally shining on my face and making me feel alive and energized from the inside out.

And, you know what? It helps! It honest and truly helps to remember those happy times and to actually "see" that those times were real. I spent some time this morning looking through my photos and smiling. many wonderful moments spent in the sunshine with family and friends. So many gorgeous photos of flowers and green grass and blue skies and fluffy white clouds floating aimlessly through the sky. Just seein the photos of the sunshine helped take away the chill my body was feeling as the snow continued to fall.

Even more helpful is looking at these pictures and absolutely knowing that spring will return just as certain as the night will turn into day. I have found HOPE in the winter of my life by remembering the springtimes that I've been so blessed to enjoy! A picture really is worth a thousand words and more!!!!

If you're in the dead of winter and it feels like it's never going to end, why not pull out some photo albums and begin to be filled with hope and joy? I guarantee you that you'll have tons of laughter along the way, too! Winter? Sure. Everybody goes through winter, and some winters are worse than others. But............everybody gets to experience spring, too, and many, many springs are too awesome to put into words.

Stop fighting winter. It's here. It won't last forever. Make the most of it (there actually is beauty to be found -- even in the most horrible of winters). And, get out those pictures of the moments you've enjoyed in the springtimes of your life. Laugh. Love. Live. Enjoy. Yep, even in the winter!!! Why wait until spring when you can be happy today?

Love to you,

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another Valentine's Day Spent Alone

For many people, just the words "Valentine's Day" sends a shiver of pain up their spine. For them it means being alone again. Nobody to call them special. No flowers sent to their door. No box of chocolate candy to share by candlelight with the love of your life. No romantic date. No hugs and kisses and hearing those words we all crave, "I love you." Valentine's Day for many is a day of heartache and reminders of being nobody's special one.

All of this could get rather dismal, BUT we do have choices in things like this. I probably don't want to hear it because you've heard it so many times before. "Life is a sum of the choices we make. We can choose to be happy or we can choose to live in misery." There was a time in my own life when that was told to me and I wanted to raise my leg and do a karate kick right in the person's face who was talking to me. I, like you, didn't want to hear it. It's difficult to hear that we have a choice in matters of the heart. But, it's true.

I'm convinced that very few people will have that movie-star, dream of a lifetime type of Valentine's Day. Couples will argue and fight. Many will go to extravagant extremes and increase their debt on their charge cards. Others will buy cards and flowers only to have them thrown out the next day. The thought of Valentine's Day is awesome, but the reality of life is that we really and truly should be living as though every day was Valentine's Day -- speaking those words "I love you" to those we love more than once a year. Doing acts of kindness and love in the little daily things such as taking out the garbage without being asked, running the vacuum to help out, giving a much-needed word of encouragement to someone who needs it. None of these things cost money, but they do add up in the bank account of life. Small, unsolicited kindnesses often make the difference between a person wanting to get up in the morning or not.

So, how should YOU spend Valentine's Day this year if you're alone? Well, I have two suggestions and I've done both so I know that both work. You can choose to ignore the fact that the calendar has extra words printed on it that say "Valentine's Day." Keep in mind, those are only words, and the 24 hours on February 14 will pass just as surely as the 24 hours on February 15 will pass, so why get all fussed up about it? Don't put yourself into a tailspin and throw yourself into depression over a date on a calendar!!!!

You can also do something that requres some action, and I guarantee you that it will make you feel like a million bucks even if you're feeling like a tarnished penny right now. DO SOMETHING KIND FOR SOMEONE ELSE!

Do you have a nearby Children's Hospital or Nursing Home? If so, make a visit and deliver a bag of valentines (you can get a box for a dollar at the Dollar Tree) and have the nurses distribute them to someone in a hospital who has no visitor that day. I get happy just thinking about doing that!!!! Take a bunch of valentines with you and go to a local mall and hand them out to passers by. Will they think you're crazy? Some might, but I'll guarantee you that many will thank you because YOU will be their only Valentine this year. Go to a local eatery (not a fine dining establishment) and pay for someone's meal anonymously. How awesome that would be!!!! I assure you there will be lots of people eating alone on Valentine's Day -- not just you. Get creative. You can make a list of 50 or more ways to make someone else's day brighter, I'm sure, and when you do, YOU have become a SPECIAL VALENTINE to each one and your own heart will overflow with love, too.

Yes, we do have a choice. Me? I have my box of Scooby Doo valentines sitting on the kitchen table all ready to go!

Bunches of love to you,

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What's this crazy feeling I have?

Have you ever gotten hit with a feeling and you don't really know what it is? You feel kinda sick, no energy, can't sleep right......nothing feels or seems right...and there's some kind of "nagging" that just won't go away? I think we probably can all identify. I know I sure can!

That very thing has happened to me time and time again, and I just could never pinpoint what it was until about 5 years ago. It's GRIEF. GRIEF. Yep, GRIEF! I don't even like the sound of that word!!!!

I used to get that sick ache in my stomach as a kid when my parents would argue and fight. I got that same awful feeling when I didn't complete a homework assignment in school on time and got into trouble. I got that feeling when my 13-year-old sister died (and I was only 15). That was REALLY bad!!! "That feeling" stayed for at least two years, and I had no clue what to call it. Grief wasn't even a word in the dictionary back then -- at least I sure never heard that word being used in school!

That same "crazy feeling" came over me when my first child got married and moved away. My stomach ached and I felt awful. Nothing that the doctor could diagnose, but I knew I just didn't feel right. So, is grief what you call heartache?

I think so many of us hurt inside and we don't know what to call it and we sure don't know how to deal with "it"! That "it" is grief, and it's tough. It can rip us apart, flatten us, and leave us feeling like we've been beaten up.

I'll be talking more about this in different blogs, but for now I just want to say that the first step to "healing" is knowing how to identify this thing called grief. If you have no real physical illness that can be diagnosed by a doctor, and if you've had some kind of major life change going on, then I'd say you are probably experiencing grief. It stinks. It hurts. It makes you feel like garbage. does get better! I promise you. It takes time, and it takes talking, and it takes work, but it does get better.

If you're going through something that is a grief to you right now, take time to write down your thoughts on a piece of paper. Then, share with someone how much you hurt. Find others who have gone through similar experiences as you're going through. Then, line up your support.....any friends you can find who will listen and be a help! And, read, read, read all you can to help you find ways to cope.

What helped me? Getting out among nature. I LOVE taking walks in the woods, looking at the moon and twinkling stars, watching flowers bloom, feeling the soft breeze of springtime touch my face. The more you surround yourself with positive, healing, hopeful things, the more your mind will be saturated with thoughts of healing. Hang in there!!! Work hard!!! Trust your gut and do what is best for you!! And, remember...."it will get better!"

Clara Hinton