Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Voting in the Deep South

I voted today at the smallest polling place I have ever seen. I get a kick out of it every election that rolls around. I remember going to vote with my parents (in S. Florida) when I was a child and the lines for machines with curtains. Nothing like that where I live now. This precinct is NOT a waste of taxpayer’s money. No frills (no bathrooms or running water for example). Country living has been a real adjustment for me, but since we have been here 7 years, I have learned to appreciate the good things. No lines for voting is one of them.

Our candidates speak of Florida as if it is one place. A quick geography lesson that I know they had to learn is that in Florida, the south is the north and the north is south. Got that? The line of demarcation is Orlando. So I grew up on the West Coast of South Florida, where more people are from Ohio and Michigan than from Florida, so it was more northern. The East coast of Florida is populated more heavily with people from the North Eastern U.S. When I moved to North Florida, I moved to the deep South. I’m sure this makes for very interesting campaign strategies. Maybe now that I’ve voted, the governor will stop calling me. I seriously had EIGHT phone messages last night with election messages. Round One is almost over. Whew!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Free Stuff

I have been visiting dozens of bloggers tonight and now have the chance to win all kinds of fascinating things. If you haven't checked it out, visit Rocks In My Dryer's Bloggy Give-Aways this week for the carnival she is having. It's fun. I rarely actually win anything, but since I am Polly Positive, I am ever-hopeful.

The Waiting Room – Just Smile

Does anyone like waiting rooms? I don’t. Especially when it’s one you sit in for weeks… or months. That place where you are waiting for the next job/career opportunity to open up, or waiting for the college acceptance letter, or worse, waiting for something that is undefined. That place of knowing there is change coming but you don’t’ know what or how. It seems like most of my family is in the waiting room right now. I know what to say to them… “Be of good courage and have faith that God is working out His plan in His time”. Sounds good. Words are fine but I want ACTION and I want it now! Now I’ve said it. I am an action girl. This “Be still and Know” stuff is agonizing for me. Brings to mind the mess that Sara made in trying to hurry along the promised child and now she's responsible for bringing forth Ishmael. Wow- what a mess! So maybe I blogged out my frustration and can be more patient now. Sara didn’t having blogging as an outlet, poor dear. Light bulb! I can sing while I wait. And I can smile – smiling’s my favorite! (True for both Buddy the Elf and me) There, I really feel better now. I have to sit in a doctor’s waiting room this afternoon. I can practice smiling while I’m there. Elf therapy. If you need some smiling today, Click Here.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

New Mercies & Grits

I just finished a good novel called New Mercies. (Great title!) It was set in Natchez, Mississippi in 1933. A character who had recently moved to the South from Chicago quipped, “Why would you take a perfectly good ear of corn and make it into sand?”, referring to grits. I shared this with the lady behind the desk when I returned the book to the library and her response echoed mine. “Well, he obviously hasn’t it had it cooked right!” I love grits. I had some this morning as a treat to start Saturday off right. It is a true comfort food to me and to everyone in my family. If you haven’t ever had it “cooked right”, I’m the one to show you.

It’s a cold and rainy day in the South, but I am thankful for grits and good books and fellow bloggers who create fascinating reading material that is often better than fiction. I am discovering a lot of talented writers out there who now are published through the world of blogging. Gotta love it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Transformation Should Be Ageless

I am putting together a senior page for our youngest. It’s startling how the last 17 years seem more like 5 years.

When I look at the metamorphosis of my baby into a young woman, I think, “Have I changed in a measurable way too?” I hope so. I know that the growth and development of a baby from birth to age 2 is astonishing. The abilities of a 4 yr. old have far more than doubled what a 2 yr. old can do. Then from 4 to 8 is another giant leap. 8 to 16 is breathtaking and gut-wrenching. 16 to 32 are also marked with major milestones in learning, decision-making and maturity. Then what happens? Some people just stop. I never want to stop growing. Even when I’m gone from this earth, I will be transformed from glory unto glory! Wow- this motivates me to want to live in that reality NOW! Age-defying thinking… that’s what’s on my mind today. This is just another beginning for me too! That will be my focus… please remind me of that when I get sad.

No Regrets

We have entered the count-down days of my youngest child’s high school career. She has indeed made a career of it, and her activity level has been dizzying. I am planning the final banquet for the varsity cheerleaders, who just cheered their last game last night. Along with being in the midst of helping plan Project Graduation and pasting together memories for her senior page, there are lots of emotions moving through me.

One feeling is relief. I love working with the kids, but I suspect that teachers often think, “what is WITH these moms?!” I have had the “opportunity” to work with a toxic personality in my volunteer activities these past few years. Toxic people are my top pet peeve. I do not want their slime in my life. Not seeing this woman, hopefully EVER again will be a great relief. It has taken every ounce of diplomacy and patience within me to not react to her. I have never fought back but have gotten slimed regularly. I do not like confrontation, but have often thought, “Am I being a total wimp to let her run all over me and everyone else?” There have been 3 deterrents as I have secretly wanted to wring her neck and march off. One, I am reminded that we are the adults and supposed to be setting the example for our girls. Two, I never ever want to act like her. Three, I truly aspire to live by the law of kindness in all my dealings.

But is there a line? I know I didn’t cross it and I don’t have any regrets. Maybe that’s my answer. No regrets.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bumper Sticker Politics

Seen last week:
Monica Lewinsky’s Ex-Boyfriend’s Wife for President

Makes you think. Makes me think, “Not a chance!”
It’s kinda funny in a sick sort of way.
My attempt at political humor. The race has heated up in Florida.

The Applesauce of Heaven

Thought for the day: What is the Applesauce of Heaven?? I have one of those little calendars that has a thought for every day. When I got up the other morning, I read the title for the day and the accompanying scripture which did indeed refer to fruit, and thought, “well this is a new concept.” So I began to ponder on applesauce. Put on your glasses, Beverly, that says, The APPLAUSE of Heaven! I will never be a Max Lucado, that much is clear.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Better than Chocolate

I think I like blogging better than chocolate. There are a number of reasons. First, the connections with people are fascinating. I never understood the whole Internet relationship thing. But I never knew that it could be about friendships & real communication, not to mention that it works with everyone’s schedule. That’s awesome.

Another thing I love about blogging is that no one edits my work. After years of writing for business and having every word edited by someone, it is total liberation to press the “publish” button without having to submit it to anyone for review. My work-related writing gets frustrating when I know that regardless of what I write, it will be changed. Sometimes it feels like the changes are purely for the sake of someone else having the last word, though surely that’s just my imagination! ; )
I’m free here… to be myself, to make mistakes or to nail it - however it may be. Thank you.

The last reason has to do with craftiness. I have never been inclined toward artsy endeavors, aside from music. Playing the piano is not something I can do in the same room if others are watching TV or something. People I know do scrap booking, knitting, or any number of interesting hobbies. So I have re-named blogging. We are word crafters. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Circle of Life

I want to steal away for a visit with LuLu tomorrow. (She is my 101 year old grandmother.) The house needs cleaning, laundry is in piles and I have work to catch up on. But I suspect there will always be the pressing matters that would divert our attention from what’s truly important. When I point my car to Alabama for this monthly jaunt, I feel like I am truly going back in time. Probably because LuLu can tell me stories like no one else can – like the tale of the uncle that helped save the town of Elba from Union attack. Yes, she remembers knowing someone who fought in the Civil War! And yes, I hear the same stories repeated many times. But it’s sweet. I used to think it was depressing to visit nursing homes or assisted living places. I’m not sure what changed in me that erased that feeling. (Probably having a dear one who lives there.) Now I think the residents of these places are treasures. I could volunteer for hospice or in the kindergarten and feel just as comfortable in either setting. The old and infirm are indeed making the cycle back into childhood and have much in common with the 5 year olds.

Down the hall from LuLu lives the woman who was her best friend for a t least 30 years. Ouida has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t even recognize her own children anymore. She happily carries around a baby doll and bounces it on her knees. But to my amazement, when I sit down at the piano and crank out the old hymns, she can sing right along. The words must flow out of a deep well in her spirit and she directs an imaginary choir joyfully with her hands. What medical text could explain why she can’t remember her own name but can sing all 4 verses to “Amazing Grace”?

So you see why I would rather make the trip to Alabama than check off more things on my “to do” list? I am richer for it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Don’t Breathe!

This Daffodil was feeling smashed last night. When I mean smashed, I mean literally. I went for a mammogram yesterday. The only funny part is that the technician would totally compress my body in this gigantic woman-eating machine and then say “don’t breathe”. Like I could if I wanted to. I Googled “blogs, mammogram” to see if anyone had found anything funny to say about the procedure. I was humbled and sobered that all of the entries I found were from people who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. So I don’t want to be negative about such an important preventive procedure. I guess I’ll just put it in the category of my least favorite things, which would include any procedure that involves pain or blood. I’m a bonafide wuss. I knew this to be true early in my life when I fainted when I got my ears pierced. No kidding. I almost fainted when I watched Cupcake (youngest daughter) get hers pierced. I passed this tendency along to Uncommon Blonde. Her story could be repeated with many variations by the two of us.

An interesting note is that I had 3 babies that all weighed more than 9 pounds without any anesthetics and thought that was fine. My theory is that is a natural process so that makes it okay. I guess the quote I mentioned last week, “the pain of discipline is better than the pain of regret” comes into play again with yesterday’s experience. I wonder if that will be a theme of this new year. Oh - can't forget to be very grateful that my report was normal! Thank God!

Monday, January 14, 2008

It’s Not For Me To Know

I couldn’t find my copy of Og Mandino’s book “The Greatest Salesman in the World” today when I needed to re-read the chapter on persistence. “I Will Persist Until I Succeed” is the scroll I was looking for. I actually have parts of the book somewhat memorized. I remember it says, “It is not for me to know how many steps it will take to complete my journey, or how many strikes of the axe it will take to fell the tree." It’s not for me know. My job is to keep going. (By the way, this book is not for salespeople, it’s for everybody. A classic on success in life.)

I’m a whole week into my weight watcher’s re-commitment and guess how much I lost in my first week? Zip. That’s right. Zero. I followed the plan and have my food tracker as proof. So does this mean the program does not work? Nope. I have experience with this. It seems like a lot of people lose a lot their first week and get really excited. On the other hand, my body seems to put on the brakes and say, “Ok, you want to eat less, then I am going to burn less.” Yes, I exercised 4 out of 7 days. Could be better, I know. The good news is persistence will prevail. I was watching “The Biggest Loser” last week and most of the people had not lost much that week. One woman gained a pound. Nothing was said about the tricks your metabolism plays, plateaus (if you never knew anyone who could plateau right out of the gate, now you do) or the fact that muscle weighs more than fat and this can reflect in your weekly weigh-ins. Granted, I can’t claim that one. It’s a good thing I made a commitment to this plan and told you about it. Otherwise, I could fall back on “It just doesn’t work.” Bah humbug. It’s not for me to know exactly how long it will take. I just need to follow the plan with resolve. Persistence? I’m in.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Perfect Year and Beyond

I listened to a conference call last night that didn't sit quite right with me. The speaker was good and the interviewer did a great job. The subject matter, “The Perfect Year and Beyond” caught my attention and had prompted me to register for this tele-class. So what was the problem, you ask? Human arrogance, of which I am sure I have been guilty many times. It was the over-riding premise that “you can have whatever you want by cooperating with the laws of the universe.” No mention anywhere, anytime during the hour-long presentation of the Author of the laws. We can sound like small children demanding candy when we make demands of life. We often lack an understanding of “the big picture” and what is best for us. (I would say usually lack understanding in my case!) Yes indeedy, I do believe in positive thinking, since God himself said “Whatsoever a man thinketh in is heart, so is he.” And I know there is power in our words, so we need to speak about what we want, not what we don’t want. And I most certainly believe in staying focused on what we are grateful for. The speaker taught on the importance of keeping a gratitude journal. I think that’s important too! But I also believe we need to honor the One to whom we are grateful to. I call Him Abba Father, Papa God, Jesus, Counselor. .. and the list goes on. To leave God out of all this positive thinking seems downright arrogant or ignorant to me, or both! God authored personal development and He brings forth the process like no human ever can or will. I know when I speak in a corporate environment, I can’t get all preachy. However, I don’t want to come across as arrogant and ignorant either. The tele-conference last night was worthwhile and I learned some very important principles. They just weren’t on the regularly scheduled program. Proverbs 1:7 leads me to believe that the definition of a fool is someone who does not reverence God. I don’t want to be a fool, at work, at play or at anytime at all.
What a joy to know that this year and beyond is destined to be better than I could think and exceeds anything I would ask for, because God has a plan. I will do my part too, but thankfully He’s in charge, not me! We can indeed plan on an amazing year and beyond! Woo Hoo - what a ride!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sitting Down on the Inside

I have 2 speeds: fast and stop. Since I don't sit still very often when I am awake, I have had to learn to "sit down on the inside".

Now that all the activities of the New Year are cranked back up, I am reminded of this prayer that a friend shared with me years ago. I keep it in my Bible and it is so worn out it’s hard to read. It’s a takeoff from the 23rd Psalm written by Marian Wright Edelman. I find that when I am awake at night thinking of all the things I have to get done, they seem so much more overwhelming than when I just get to the tasks. Worry is so counterproductive! I want to banish it from my life. Sometimes I am more successful at that than others. This is my reminder to me that instead of counting sheep (or ticking off the to-do list!) when sleepless, I will talk to the Shepherd. He is faithful and true!

The Lord is my pacesetter, I shall not rush.
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
He provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency through calmness of mind,
And His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to accomplish each day, I will not fret, for His presence is here.
His timelessness, His all-importance will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of my activity by anointing my mind with His oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruit of my hours for I shall walk in the place of my Lord and dwell in His house forever.

I wish you strength for the day and rest for the night!!

Monday, January 7, 2008

I'm a Lifer

I’m a lifer. A lifetime weight watcher, that is. Guess what? I gained weight over the holidays (along with most of America). However, since I am still accountable to someone, I have to get with the program and get it off. I started today. I am blogging about it so that I feel even more accountable. Day 1 was good. Check me on day 5! I can be hit and miss with self-discipline. I have always been health conscious and keenly interested in nutrition. But somehow, when I hit 40, I started gaining several pounds a year and before I knew it, I had 25 extra pounds that had appeared on my body. I was shocked one day when I went to buy some good pantyhose to wear to a wedding and read the size chart. Oh my gosh, the chart said I was queen size! I thought there had to be some mistake, but have you ever bought pantyhose that are too small? That is mistake you regret every moment until you get them off. So I bought my queen size hose for the first and last time and made a plan. I am happy to report that the Weight Watchers program does work. It has been almost 2 years since I got rid of that extra baggage and by weigh-in time, I will be back in line. It is amazing how mental the whole process is! I am talking to myself about loving veggies today. “The pain of discipline is better than the pain of regret”, I recite to myself. It’s easier to take off 4 pound than 25!! I should know.

Top Choices for “Legal” Food (Low points!)

1. Popcorn – Smart Pop. I can eat a whole bag!
2. Pickles (cucumbers are a vegetable, right?!)
3. Skinny Cows (Giant ice cream sandwich with only 2 points. Yum!)
4. Cottage cheese. If I can’t have much regular cheese this is a consolation prize.
5. Clementines. These are tangerines…. Very delicious and easy to eat.
6. Cantaloupe & strawberries. (Preferably together)
7. Weight Watchers’ Fudge Bars (A real bargain – just 1 point)
8. Sprouts. Make a pita sandwich look fat and they’re good!
9. 100 calorie pack cookies.
10. I need to think of more before I go grocery shopping.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction – Look Out For Falling Iguanas

I am often appalled when reading the newspaper. Now I have to report on a horrifying occurrence in Key Biscayne, Florida this week. There were iguanas falling from the trees. I mean BIG iguanas. Now for those of you who like reptiles, perhaps you want to schedule a visit to Key Biscayne. However, that locale is now on my list of places to never visit. I like Florida a lot, but that spot will be a blot on my map. Here’s the stranger than fiction story as reported in the Panama City News Herald on January 5, 2008: “How cold was it in South Florida this week? Cold enough to cause iguanas to drop out of trees on Key Biscayne. The cold blooded reptiles go into a deep sleep when the temperature falls into the 40’s. Experts say their bodies basically shut off and they lose their grip on the tree. The reptiles perk up when the temperature rises.”

You’ve got to be kidding. What a nightmare. Trouble in paradise for sure. I just had to share that. You can laugh or cringe – your choice. I actually did both.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Seize the Day!

I have noticed that a lot of people don’t want to make any New Year’s Resolutions for fear of setting themselves up for failure. So this morning, I started to write an entry about intentional living; a serious topic addressing resolve and passion and goals and such. I find it totally amusing that my work-laden day was quickly set aside when Cupcake (youngest daughter) suggested we should go shopping in Destin today. “Brilliant idea”, I responded. I took an hour to complete the most pressing details on my desk and off we went for a grand afternoon. Destin is an hour’s drive from our house and boasts a great outlet mall for starters (Banana Republic had some irresistible sales). I needed flatware at the Oneida store but bought clothes at Banana instead… all in the spirit of the day of fun. The Destin Commons is a new shopping area that has her favorites, Abercrombie and Hollister. My favorites are there as well – Ann Taylor Loft and White House Black Market. All of this great shopping is right along the gulf coast with gorgeous white beaches and sparkling green water to be enjoyed along the drive.

Added to that, a last minute call to my cousin revealed that her sister from Tennessee was at the beach house with her daughter today, so we had a laughter-filled hour with them. News, updates, stories (we are all storytellers!) while looking out over the gulf and sitting in front of the fireplace. What a great day. My mother is an identical twin, and these cousins are daughters of my mom’s twin. We have always considered ourselves half sisters because of the similarities in our mothers. We had the benefit of spending every childhood summer together at our grandmother’s beach house at Ft. Walton Beach, which forged life-long bonds of friendship.

So nothing about today seemed intentional or planned, but the day was filled with family, love laughter and fun. I can get my work done tomorrow. Which actually fits quite perfectly with my goals. Carpe Diem!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Inertia to Momentum

Newton’s physical law of motion says “an object will remain at rest, or continue to move at a constant velocity unless an external force acts upon it.” I pick momentum over inertia any day. I am becoming reacquainted with the whole concept of how much energy it takes to move from inertia to momentum in business. I have owned my own businesses every since college days and at times have owned more than one. (Not to mention the ongoing unpaid opportunity to assist Builderman (husband) in his contracting business.) At one point, I had built up a decent part-time business as a professional speaker. This is something I really LOVE to do… it always tickled me pink to get paid for something that I enjoy so much. I put that business on “pause” about 5 years ago when I was putting a supreme effort into launching a new business and learning the ins and outs of internet marketing. Now that I want to rekindle that business that I enjoyed so much, I find that I literally have to start over. Seems like a daunting task when I have already paid my dues once and spent years building a business and a referral network. I suspect that career pauses are quite common, especially in the lives of women, as we move through the phases of raising a family and flexing with the ever-changing demands on our time. So today, I am getting ready to start the push to regain momentum. My philosophizing is often on the level of Fulghum who wrote “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I find inspiration today thinking of “The Little Engine That Could”. I need to START! I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

What’s With the Daffodils?

I have a 101 year old grandmother who taught me to love grits and Wordsworth - all in the same breath. There’s nothing quite like a strong southern woman. Independence and charm, sass and grace, steel and velvet. Before now, I had never even met anyone who lived to be one hundred, much less known them personally. I am amazed with the gift of time I have with Lou Lou. She still lives in southern Alabama so I get to spend a Saturday a month with this national treasure. She is easily delighted – and most often with flowers, music and poetry. Louise Rushing graduated from Montevallo College (now the University of Montevallo) in 1927 and taught English for many years. Among her many accomplishments is the ability to recite poetry. Most impressive at any age, but at 101, it is downright remarkable. One of her favorites is “The Daffodils” by William Wordsworth.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

…For oft, when on my couch I lie,
In vacant or in pensive mood
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude:
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

So that’s why I dance with daffodils. It is in my genes. I have inherited Lou Lou’s happy heart. I am grateful.

Note added in 2010: Lou Lou moved to heaven on November 21, 2009 (my birthday!) at the age of 103. She had so many "favorite poems" but I'll share the "Psalm of Life" in her honor today:

Psalm of Life
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tell me not in mournful numbers,
Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou are, to dust thou returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, - act in the living Present!
Heart within, and God o'erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

(She always recited the last line as "Learn to labor and to pray" claiming she was confident that's what Longfellow meant to say.)