When Blessings Wear Ugly Disguises

Chickens, Morning Sickness, and Labor Pains

Chicken (The Homeplace LBL}

A grandfather was attempting to impress upon his grandchildren that things were not always as they appeared. “When I was your age,” he began, “my daddy raised a beautiful, large vegetable garden. We would sell the produce at a small roadside stand that we built ourselves.

My parents always bought their chickens from Willy Scott.

One day, while our family was working at the vegetable stand, Willy delivered chickens to our house in a crate and left them on our doorstep. When we returned home that evening we discovered the chickens had escaped and were running all over the yard. Each of us began chasing the chickens and putting them back in the crate. Dad was upset and decided to call Willy to express his unhappiness with the situation.

I can still remember Dad telling Willy he didn’t think it was a very good idea to leave the chickens in a crate unattended while we were gone. He told Willy how the family had to round-up chickens from all over the neighborhood and we were only able to find eleven. Then Willy shocked my dad.”

“Eleven chickens isn’t too bad,” exclaimed Willy, “I only delivered six!”

The story, above, is from one of my favorite books, “Speaker’s Sourcebook II: Quotes, Stories, & Anecdotes for Every Occasion,” by Glenn Van Ekeren. Can you imagine the look on the dad’s face? – I’m sure the scowl softened into a smile pretty fast. We’ve all been in his shoes before, right? Something will come along and we’re convinced that fate has kicked us harder than it’s ever kicked anyone. Then, just as we’re in the process of getting what my grandmother always referred to as “worked up,” we realize that fate didn’t kick us.

It kissed us.

Someone once said that opportunities are like roses – they often come with thorns on them. The same is true of blessings. They’re very fond of entering our lives in disguise…. just a little game they like to play.

Pregnancy and childbirth are a couple of great examples.  When I was pregnant with my first daughter (Emily), I thought I was smack in the middle of the most unpleasant experience in the world. Morning sickness? Ha! It was ALL DAY sickness and it didn’t last for the just  first 3 months, either. Nooo, my “morning sickness” lasted each of the nine months.

All day. Every day.

Top that off with incredible back pain, swollen aching feet, heartburn, and shortness of breath and I was one miserable “preggie.”

Then the labor pains came and I just KNEW I was in an inner circle of hell!  But as soon as they handed me this unbelievably beautiful little baby girl with the biggest, bluest eyes in the world – I knew my life would never be the same. I hadn’t been kicked by life, I’b been kissed by life with a little pink angel.

By the time beautiful number 2 (Brittany) and beautiful number 3 (Stephany) came along I knew that the horrors would be completely forgotten as soon as I held my baby in my arms.

Think back over your own life. Some of the best things that ever happened to you may have made an ugly entrance. Maybe they stumbled onto the platform, but rocked your world once they got to center stage. Sometimes it’s best to remember these things, so the next time something ugly comes our way we can ask, “What kind of beauty lies beneath this beast?”

Looking for the good in every bad is, from a self help standpoint, priceless.

Spread Happiness, One Person at a Time

Beautiful Quote from Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie Quote About Happiness
 

“You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.” - Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s beautiful words serve as a reminder to choose our words and use our words carefully. Words are powerful, powerful things and can impact people for a lifetime.

A lifetime!

Just as we can lift someone else with carefully spoken words, we can tear them down with carelessly spoken words.  I think only the worst sort of person in the world would actually want to tear someone down. More times than not, hateful, careless, and potentially damaging words come from speaking without thinking.

The next time you find yourself on the brink of speaking, ask yourself…

  • Is what I’m about to say necessary?
  • Is what I’m about to say kind?
  • Is what I’m about to say going to cause a smile?

Most importantly…

  • If my words stay with this person for the rest of their life, how will that make me feel?

Kind People are the Best Kind of People

If There Were Only More of Them

Quote about Kindness and Happiness
At the risk of getting a little preachy, whatever happened to good old-fashioned kindness? Sure, it still exists, but it’s getting harder and harder to find.

Just last night, alone (in the course of ONE single evening, mind you), I encountered the following “acts of anything but kindness” –

  • A guy on Twitter making jokes about domestic abuse – like it’s a laughing matter.
  • Girls calling other girls fat.
  • People making ugly (and I mean UGLY) comments about a celebrity… right on her Instagram, ensuring that she sees it.
  • Someone making fun of a newscaster with a speech impediment.
  • Countless people arguing back and forth over things that don’t amount to half a hill of beans – and lacing their arguments with endless insults and profanity.

Fortunately all of this ugliness was witnessed online and not in my own home.

Social media is, in many ways, a wonderful thing. However, in many ways it’s also one of the worst things that ever happened. People seem to think it’s their own personal platform to spread anger, meanness, and ugliness. After all, they’re able to do so without anyone looking them in the eye.

You want to talk about an athlete being “too short with no talent” – do it online.

You want to bash a particular celebrity – calling her fat, untalented, ugly, and “the worst mother in the world” – do it through social media and… by all means… mention her in a way she’s sure to see it.  After all, hurting someone is just so much fun, right?

Knocking them down makes you a bigger person, doesn’t it?

Oooh, and what if someone in their family sees your hate-filled words and you’re able to hurt them as well?! Bonus points?

Okay. I’m getting preachy.  I’m fully aware that one animal-loving, chocoholic, baseball-obsessed blogger in Kentucky isn’t going to be able to change things. Some days I don’t have the power to open a jar of pickles, I certainly don’t have the power to make the world a kinder place.

BUT if enough people set their mind to at least make a difference in their own little corner of the world…. Then they might be able to inspire other people to also try to make a difference… and so on and so on..

Who knows? Maybe one day people will approach their daily lives – as well as Social Media – with the mindset of reaching out and touching others with kindness rather than cruelty.  Maybe they’ll think, “Who might need a lift right now?” instead of “Who can I take down a few notches?”

I don’t know if such a world is possible, this side of Heaven, but it sure is cool to think about.

Also See: You Never Know What a Few Kind Words Will Do

“Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.” – Author Unknown

How Can You Overcome the Winter Blues?!?!

Tracks in the Snow Feb 3 2013

A while back, I wrote an article Three Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues. Since it’s that time of year again, I thought I’d link to it once more.

I’ve already heard from a few people who are beginning to experience the winter doldrums or blues.  One woman told me, “It happens every year. I’ve gotten to where I expect the blues each November.”

Excuse the pun, but that’s depressing.

First of all, the obvious – if you’re “expecting” something, chances are it’s going to materialize. If you’ve experienced winter blues for any length of time, don’t you think it’s time to break the cycle?!

Like anything in life, winter is what you make it.  It’s either a beautiful, peaceful time of year or it’s something so miserable you just have to muddle through best you can – the decision, to a large degree, is made in your own mind.

Ten Quick Things to Love About Winter:

  • College Basketball
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • Hot Chocolate
  • Chili that’s cooked all day
  • Quiet, snowy mornings when you can almost hear your own breath.
  • Animal footprints in the snow
  • NFL
  • College Football
  • Grabbing a Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks – as in each time you leave the house.
  • Jigsaw Puzzles
  • The lawnmower gets a much needed break.
  • No. Flies.
  • No. Gnats.
  • Big Comfy Sweaters
  • Thanksgiving
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Tinsel
  • NBA
  • Hot soup
  • Boiled Custard
  • Egg Nog
  • Catching snowflakes on your tongue
  • NHL
  • Christmas cookies
  • Christmas Lights
  • Peppermint Scented Candles
  • Evergreen Scented Candles
  • Christmas songs
  • Flannel Pajamas
  • Your favorite mittens or gloves
  • Snowmen
  • Glamorous white scarves!
  • Boots
  • Hoodies
  • Seeing your breath.
  • Drawing faces on steamed up windows (of course I do)
  • Icicles
  • Peanuts Christmas Special
  • The sound of snow and ice under your feet
  • New Year’s Resolutions
  • Warm robes
  • Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

What? That’s more than 10? Well, that’s the idea! Once you start looking for the “good” in a situation, not only will you find it… you’ll find more than you bargained for.

Click through and read Three Simple Ways to Beat the Winter Blues for a few tips on dealing with the winter blues.

How about you? What are things about winter that you love? Share your “frosty favorites” in the comments!

Still need a little Winter Motivation? Check out one of my favorite Pinterest Boards: Things I Love About Winter. The sound you hear will be your winter blues packing up and moving. Good riddance!

Symptoms of Growing Older: 10 Non-Physical Things to Watch Out for

Are You Better or Bitter... Grateful or Grumpy... Cool or Crusty?!?!

How Old Would You Be if You Didn't Know How Old You Are? - Satchel Paige Quote
The last time I worried about growing older, I was the ripe old age of 24. My birthday was around the corner and I remember thinking, “Holy cow, I’m going to be 25 years old… a quarter of a century!”

While I can’t help but laugh about it now, I remember it being quite a point of emphasis then. “A quarter of a century…”  The phrase kicked around in my brain for weeks.

Until I actually hit 25. Then I realized nothing different had really happened. I was still me. I still ate too much chocolate, still loved animals more than most people, still liked to color outside the lines, still wished baseball season lasted all year, and still vowed to make my daughters the most spoiled rotten little girls to ever twirl their hair and my husband the happiest husband to ever live, even if he often DID have to ask, “How? How can you spend that much money at the grocery store? How is it possible?

Hmmm… that’s quite a few years ago and – you know what they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Funny thing about birthdays, they insist upon coming annually. I learned, long ago, that your age is just a number -nothing more. Norman Vincent Peale said it best, “Live your life and forget your age.”

Works for me!

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” – Sophia Loren

In this particular post, when I refer to growing older, I’m referring to the really interesting years… the particularly colorful ones beyond age 48.  Why did I choose 48? Because that’s usually the age that people begin to see the shadow cast by the big 5-0 and start to freak out just a little bit.

There are countless books, blog posts, magazine articles, and television shows that tell us all what to look out for physically as we age. We’re encouraged to have regular PHYSICAL checkups, so we can be alerted to anything unlovely before it grows into something dangerous.

This post is taking a page out of that book, but I want to look at things we all need to watch out for EMOTIONALLY and MENTALLY as we age. Below are some of the “common problems” that can turn up over the years. That’s the bad news – the good news is this: If we do regular “self exams,” we’ll be able to nip them in the bud before anyone ever even notices them.

Before we get to the 10 culprits, remember a few things:

  • Take an honest look inward with each one. All of them won’t tap you on the shoulder and say, “A-HEM” but one or even two will probably hit a little close to home. If NONE sound like you – look in the mirror and say, “You rock!” Then make a special note to never let any of them creep up on you… you’ll want to stay a rock star, right?
  • Don’t just read the words, then forget them by this time tomorrow. Carve them into your mind (especially the ones that make your subconscious clear its throat loudly) and perform regular self exams.

Top 10 Non-Physical Problems to Watch Out For As You Age

  1. Talking too much about your health. Now, don’t jump off the deep end – if someone asks how you’re doing, tell them. Just don’t fall into the trap of letting the majority of your conversations revolve around your aches, pains, weight, medications, stomach problems, or HEAVEN FORBID bodily functions. (Disclaimer: If you have serious health issues, your family wants and needs to know how you feel. Just don’t get stuck in a cycle of letting your every sentence involve your health. There’s no surer way to appear ancient than that.) This one kind of got me recently. I hurt my back recently and, I hate to brag, but this is the most painful week I’ve ever hobbled through. Anyway, I caught myself saying again and again, “My back hurts.”  I said it to the kids, the hubby, the cats, the pillows on the couch, God… as though none of them could tell with me popping Tylenol with one hand and positioning my ice pack with the other. The last time I said the words, I silently told myself, “Enough! If you say it again, I’m hiding your chocolate.” Not another peep from me.
  2. Expecting everyone else to do things for you.  Three words: Why should they? If you are physically able to perform your own chores….. shouldn’t you? My grandmother cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas meals up into her late 70’s.  Heaven help you if you dared ask if you could bring a dish or help clean up afterward! She took joy in her tasks and pride in her work.  Could she have, easily, passed off work to the rest of us? Of course. But NOT ONCE did she ever play the “age card.” She was far too smart to shine a spotlight on her age and far too proud to want to appear weak or incompetent.  She knew it was far more attractive to appear strong and capable. If you’re physically unable to do certain tasks – that’s a different ballgame. Then, by all means, politely ask for a little help. But, be honest with yourself – if you’re capable… you’re capable. Besides, staying mentally and physically active is the best thing for you. .. as long as you don’t put yourself in harm’s way or do something “dang stupid.”
  3. Moaning, Groaning, Sighing, and Complaining.  As they grow a little older, some people tend to gripe about everything they have to do. They have to sweep the garage? Prepare to hear about it for a couple of hours. They have to make a phone call? Get ready for the longest sigh you ever heard. Philippians 2:14  encourages us to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” (KJV). Different versions of the Bible use different words for murmurings and disputings such as complaining, grumbling, arguing, doubts, division, etc. Basically, this verse is God’s way of saying, “Go about your task quietly.” And don’t you wish more people would?! This isn’t an age “thing” as much as it is a personality “thing” – some people just seem to think they shouldn’t have to do any darn thing – but, as people grow older, they often tend to think everyone else should do their bid and call and IF they do have to do something on their own… well, you’re going to hear about it!.  Philippians 2:14 is a much more peaceful approach, isn’t it? Don’t be a martyr. Don’t be a victim. Is what you’re having to do really worth all that drama?
  4. Becoming too content. Wait – isn’t it good to be content?… absolutely. IF you’re referring to the type of contentment that means you’re happy and at peace. However, there is a real danger in becoming content with things we really shouldn’t ever be content with –  like our knowledge. We should always want to know more tomorrow than we know today. We should always want to learn new things. That keeps the mind sharp and the heart young.  Try to learn something new every single day.
  5. Shhhh, don’t look now, but are you becoming an old grouch?!?! Have you ever seen an older man or woman in public and instantly thought of the Grinch of Whoville fame? I certainly have and each time I wish they could see a mirror. They’d probably be horrified. Unless you just watched your best friend get abducted by two headed aliens, there’s just no need to go around looking like that.  No… not being able to find what you’re looking for in Aisle 3 is not an excuse. Having to wait in line for 5 minutes isn’t an excuse. Frankly, there is no excuse EVER to wear an expression that would frighten small children. Seriously, do you want to be that person? Whenever I see someone like that, I always want to ask them, “Really? Is life that bad?!”
  6. Being overly judgmental about young people. Okay, this one’s a pet peeve. I guess it’s because some of my favorite people – people I love DEARLY – are young people. I simply hate to hear someone running down “today’s young people.”  Are there areas where they need to “shore up?” Of course. Do some of them make highly suspect fashion or hairstyle choices? Boy do they?! But, here’s the thing – think back to when you were a young person. Would your grandparents (or maybe even parents) think you were an exemplary citizen?! Doubtful.  Being a young girl or boy has got to be tougher than ever these days – what with social media, the media, expectations, peer pressure, etc. Don’t pull out your holier-than-them vibe or make hateful expressions. Don’t say unkind, unnecessarily rude things to them. Again, do you want to be that person? Of course not. You’re cooler than that. Realize that everyone has their own journey – you’re taking your’s, allow everyone else the same freedom.  Walk along with them… but never try to make them step into your footprints.
  7. Becoming Hyper-Critical and Condemning. Come on,now.. life’s not that bad! Remind yourself that just because YOU don’t get it doesn’t mean it can’t be GOT. Whether it’s Twitter, today’s movies, today’s music (though, by gosh, you’d have a leg to stand on there), television.. whatever.  By all means, express your opinions – but don’t suck the life out of everyone else’s day in the process. Here’s a quick example. When I was a teenager, my mom would let me put the radio wherever I wanted it when we were in the car. She didn’t complain about the music I listened to – in fact, she sang along. She, invariably, got the words wrong… but she didn’t nag, complain, or try to make me feel stupid for liking what I liked. I remember one song’s lyrics she blew especially bad. The song went, “Whatcha gonna do when she says Good-Bye.. Whatcha gonna do when she’s gone..” My mom sang, “Whatcha gonna do when school’s out? Whatcha gonna do when it’s gone.”  One time she even turned to me after the song went off and said, “So.. what are you going to do when schools’ out?” I told her “Sleep and maybe watch soap operas all day.” She laughed and slipped in a little mother-in-law joke. Contrast that to what it would have been like riding in the car with an adult who starts ranting about how bad this music is – how kids today don’t know good music.. yadda yadda yadda.  Thank God my lyric-butchering mother didn’t want to be that person.
  8. Neglecting how you look.  Recently, my youngest daughter (Stephany) and I saw a lady who had to be 80 years feisty in Kroger. She had on a snappy looking hot pink top, gold bracelets jingling against one another, expensive looking ankle boots, and glittery fingernails. I told Steph, “That WILL be me one day!”  If you always embraced being a girl, keep on embracing. Guys, keep grooming… girls keep glamming. Instead of thinking, “I’m getting to old to care – it doesn’t matter any more…” take the lady with the glittery nail’s approach – I’m going to rock this age!
  9. Failing to slow down.  This may seem like an ironic one, but it’s really a problem for A LOT of people – especially men.  The further past 40 some guys get, the faster they go. Their mindset seems to be, “I gotta make all the money… gotta work all the hours… gotta make all the money…” Nope. Actually, you could slow down enough to enjoy your family and the world around you. No one ever said, from their deathbed, “Dad-gummit, I wish I’d worked more! I wish I’d chased that almighty dollar more!”  Truth be told, money would be the furthest thing from their mind. Way, way, way, way after thoughts about their loved ones. Slow down – not just your mindset, but your daily approach. You don’t have to blaze a trail throughout the house, for example. Slow down and go about your day with purpose and clarity of mind. You’ll misplace your cellphone far less often that way!
  10. Make your own sunshine. With Self Help Daily, I write a lot about happiness – how to be happy, how to get happy, how to stay happy… I throw out a lot of words, but the crux of all the verbiage is this – if you want to be happy… be happy.  Choosing happiness is the best decision you’ll ever make.  Sometimes as people grow older (remember, we’re talking about the 48+ crowd primarily), they somehow want to shift the role of making them happy to someone else. Big mistake. It’s no one else’s job or role to make you or me happy. Putting the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket makes about as much sense as baptizing a possum. Instead of wondering when “the last time _____ called” was, call _______! Instead of complaining that no one comes to see you – either go see them or get busy having so much fun you don’t care who – if anyone – is there to see the shenanigans!  It may sound brutal (sometimes that’s what’s called for), but the reason “they” may not come around more is you’re a real downer! Maybe you  feel sorry for yourself or complain too much. Maybe you’re a world class conductor on the Guilt Trip Train. Maybe you snarl and frown so much “they” have forgotten what your smile looks like or even if you have teeth or not.  Be the sort of smiling, happy, fun, uplifting, and encouraging person that draws people to you.  Get so busy having fun and enjoying life that “they” want desperately to step in your sunshine!

The 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond (don’t laugh – people are living longer and longer) can be the happiest, funnest, most peaceful, and enjoyable years of your entire life or they can be the most negative, loneliest, grumpiest, darkest years.

The choice is your’s.  The key is in your pocket and it has been all along.

“There’s always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don’t hurt.” – Author Unknown

 

Learning from Our Mistakes: Turning a Very Old Adage on its Very Old Head

With a Great Quote from Norman Vincent Peale

Norman Vincent Peale Quote About Learning from Mistakes
 

My name is Joi (“Joy”) and I have a confession to make.  I’m a baseball addict.  There’s nothing about the game I don’t love. The sights, the sounds, the everything. Between the months of April and October, it’s on the tip of my mind and tongue 24/7.

The other 5 long months? Withdrawal.

Love. The.Game. But, I have to confess, I’m not too fond of losing. When my team (the St. Louis Cardinals) loses, I feel it right into the next day.  If it’s the post season, I might even feel it for weeks.

But, even then… it’s still baseball!

Our young  manager has made a few “head scratching” mistakes this season. And last season, but who’s counting?

He’s a first-class, first-rate, top-0f-the-shelf type of human being.  The players love him, everyone in the organization loves him, opposing coaches love him… heck, I suspect even the umps love him.

Great guy. Doesn’t even cuss. But, that’s a misleading stat, given the fact that he has made some bullpen decisions that make everyone else cuss enough for him AND them. So, in a roundabout way…. he turns the air blue, just not with his own mouth.

Anyway, the good man made a bad decision in last night’s game. Well,actually about 7, but – again – who’s counting?  After head-scratcher #4, I thought, “This guy doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes.. instead he seems to take some sort of comfort in them.”

No doubt that’s pushing it – I’m not terribly reasonable when I’m in the midst of a baseball game frenzy.

It made me think about an old adage, “We learn from our mistakes.”

I’m just not so sure that old adage holds a lot of water. Could it be that it’s just a comforting thought that tends to take the sting out of mistakes?

Ironically, when I came to Self Help Daily to add a quote to the page of Norman Vincent Peale quotes, one of the quotes jumped out at me. I loved it so much I actually turned it into the graphic you see at the top. “We’ve all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it’s more important to learn from successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors.”

Sort of calls the old adage out on the floor and asks it, “What have you got to say to that?!”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m reasonable enough to know that we CAN learn from mistakes.  However, I’m also reasonable enough to know that…

  1. That’s not always the case.
  2. It’s better to slow down, think things out, and not make mistakes in the first place.

That second one brings me right back to the ballgame. If – prior to the mistake (pick one), our manager had simply slowed his world down for a minute and thought things through – I would be a much happier gal today.

Sometimes that’s all any of us have to do. Take a deep breathe. Gather our thoughts around and take a good, close look at them. Remove emotions from the equation and go with what we know is the decision that carries with it the largest probability of a successful outcome.

The alternative is go just go with a particular knee-jerk reaction because….

  • … it’s what I’ve always done.
  • … thinking kind of hurts.
  • …. my heart’s telling me to.

Here’s a fact that’ll never NOT be a fact – our brain is located in our head, not our heart.

If I’m sounding preach-y, I don’t mean to. If I sound like someone who always centers her thoughts and never lets her heart have a vote…. hahaha, sorry, I couldn’t get through that one without laughing. I am THE WORST at thinking things through and THE BEST at jerking reactions out of my knees based upon my heart’s word.

Preachy? No. Just intrigued. Intrigued by Norman Vincent Peale’s words and intrigued by the concept of simply slowing down and engaging all brain cells, memories, and… yes, in the proper pecking order… emotions. The concept of slowing our world down long enough to THINK before we speak or act.

It just might be the secret to winning – games and life.

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Also See: More Norman Vincent Peale quotes!

The Mt. Baldy Lesson of Life: Pause. Reflect. Keep Going.

A Shaky Step is Still a Step

Keep Going
 

Ever heard of Indiana’s Mt. Baldy? This is how Wikipedia describes Mt. Baldy:

Mount Baldy is a sand dune located in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It is the tallest sand dune on the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is 123 feet tall.

This is how I describe Mt. Baldy:

Darn near killed me.

About twenty years ago, my husband and our three beautiful little girls (Emily, Brittany, and Stephany) visited friends in northern Indiana. Someone thought it’d be a great idea to climb Mt. Baldy. After suffering much abuse from this endless sand dune, no one wanted to own up to WHO’s idea it was. Even if they wanted to own up to it – they couldn’t. No breath = no voice.

Along the relentless, steep, upward climb, we paused a few times – probably more than a few, but who’s counting? There were three or four times when I came to a complete stop and actually looked behind me – gauging whether going back down was an option.

Each time, however, I saw how far I’d come and decided to keep going.  The steps I’d accomplished (and lived to tell about) gave me confidence to continue my journey.

When we reached the top, there were just a few little shade trees to be found. Other climbers, gasping for breath were crowded around most of the shade (some were even laid out, like they were making snow angels… but without moving.  My  sweaty, unable to speak, and exhausted little group huddled around the nearest little tree.  There was an incredible sense of accomplishment, in spite of the physical exhaustion.

We’d made it!

It felt pretty darn cool to have completed such a grueling, physical task.  Seriously, you can’t imagine how STEEP that climb was – and in sand, no less! Each step seemed like you were taking about 10 because you kept sinking with each step.

And did I mention it was August? H-O-T!

When I remembered how to activate my senses, I stood up and, with three little girls who I’m pretty sure were laughing at me, looked around at the view. If I’d had any breath, it would have taken it away.

Again.

The view was spectacular.  It’s something I’ve never forgotten – even after 20 years.  I remember how proud I was of the accomplishment and I remember how beautiful everything was –  just like it was yesterday.

Over the years, a lot has changed. Our friends no longer live in northern Indiana…  I believe Mt. Baldy is now closed to the public….  Our girls are still beautiful, but only their father could still consider them “little girls.”

No matter how many things have changed, one thing remains the same: The “Mt. Baldy Lesson” still holds true.

Life, like Mt. Baldy, can sometimes be a steep climb. There are times when we kind of stall in our steps – emotionally wrung out and spiritually exhausted – and wonder how we can possibly take another step.  It’s times like this when we should just pause and look at the progress we’ve made.

The steps we made and  lived to tell about.

A few things we need to keep in mind during the climb:

  • There’s a difference between pausing and stopping. Pausing says, “OK. Let me regroup, then I’ll  continue.” Stopping says, “Done.”
  • No one ever said it was going to be easy.
  • If we stop, we’ll just have to start all over again. Then, any progress will have been wasted.
  • When you pause, look back at how far you’ve come. Use that as motivation to go a little further.  Then, pause again. Look back again. Keep using the steps you’ve taken to fuel the ones you have left.
  • No matter which one of life’s steep journeys you’re on, remember that stopping isn’t an option. The only way you’re going to get there is to keep going.
  • Don’t beat yourself up when you feel tired or “wrung out.”  Just keep going – even a shaky step is still a step.
  • No one else can understand your journey unless they’ve walked in your steps.  If I were to mention “Mt. Baldy” to my husband and daughters, they’d grimace. They walked the walk so they know the talk. If I mentioned “Mt. Baldy” to my favorite cashier at Kroger, she wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. She might even say something like, “Oh, it couldn’t have been that bad.”   Then she wouldn’t be my favorite cashier anymore.
  • The view from the top is something you’ll never forget.

Again, twenty years later, the experience is still something I remember vividly – just like it was yesterday.

Find your strength. Keep going.  You will make it.

 

Great Quote About the Calming Effects of Tea

There's a Great Deal of Comfort in a Cup of Tea

Quote About Tea
This morning, my trip to the grocery store wasn’t as uneventful as it normally is. Seems my car’s brakes forgot how to do their job.  Thankfully when I first noticed their sudden case of amnesia I was in a parking lot so I was going really slow.  So thankfully I didn’t hit anyone or anything.

Just as it approaches that time of year when my brain begins to think about the holidays, Christmas shopping, and all the wonderful things that come from September – December… that’s when my car says, “You know what’d be cool right now? A big fat Mechanic Shop bill!”

It has such a sick idea of good times.

As soon as I got back home, I did the only thing I could do or needed to do.  I poured myself a big tall glass of sweet tea and everything was right with the world again.

Tea is the comfort food of drinks, isn’t it?  I love it for that.

The quote at the top is from a great book I recently reviewed on my tea blog. The book’s aptly titled Tea Wisdom and it’s absolutely a little beauty.  Click the title to read more about this book and see more tea quotes.

As for me, I think my day calls for another pot of tea.