My Grandmother’s Hands

I love this picture of my grandmother’s hands holding her new great great granddaughter. This was the last great great grandchild she would get to meet, for she passed later that same year. I love how this picture shows the legacy that her hands started so long ago. 

My grandmother’s hands scrubbed floors and took care of her siblings as a young girl. She grew up on a farm in rural North Dakota. She was the oldest child in a large Catholic family. As an adult, she worked hard to care for her own family and keep her house clean. She taught me to work hard.

My grandmother’s hands baked bread and cooked big meals. As a farmer’s wife, she fed the farm hands and neighbors who came to help with the harvest. She would take meals to the sick or sorrowful neighbors. She hosted large happy holiday events. She taught me to take care of others.

My grandmother’s hands raise two children. She would have liked to have more, but it wasn’t meant to be. She mourned the loss of two still-born children.  She was crazy proud of her son and daughter and the successful careers they would have. She taught me to be proud of your family.

My grandmother’s hands instructed 5 grandchildren. I was the oldest of those 5 grandchildren. She fostered in me, a love and respect of nature. She showed me how to experiment and express myself through cooking. She modeled for us the best way to accomplish many tasks. She taught me how to learn from others’ examples.

My grandmother’s hands held on to my grandfather’s while they danced. They loved to dance and did it often. They belonged to a round dancing club and had many friends and much fun doing it. She taught me how to embrace life and do what you love.

My grandmother’s hands painted. It was something she started as a hobby. Her beautiful landscapes and floral paintings decorated her home. She taught me the value of art and being artistic.

My grandmother’s hands held a passport. Her and my grandfather loved to travel and they did not wait until they were old. They went and explored the world. She gave me my adventurous spirit and she taught me that wanderlust is a wonderful thing.

My grandmother’s hands played. She loved to play cards, other games, and was not one to be left out of the odd squirt gun battle or ballgame. Throughout her 80s she played and kept up, never saying she was too old. She taught me to always embrace your inner child. 

My grandmother’s hands prayed the rosary. She was Catholic and her faith was important to her. I saw how God held her following my grandfathers death. She was open to learning about others spirituality, but for her faith, she made no apologies. She taught me that even though my beliefs were different from hers, it was safe to be who I am and have my own faith.

My grandmother’s hands tried new things. She rode jets skis and tubes behind the speed boat well into her 80s. She was the queen of the kayak. She even let me give her Reiki (healing touch) with my hands. My grandmother taught me that it is important to always try new things.

My grandmother’s hands read. She was hungry for knowledge and loved politics. She felt bad that she didn’t go to college but she still learned through reading, traveling, talking to people, and being open to it all. She taught me to never stop learning. 

My grandmother’s hands hugged 11 great grandchildren and 4 great great grandchildren. She never met a baby she didn’t love. Some of her great grandchildren lived further away then the others and she did not get as much time with them as she would have liked, but she loved each and everyone of them for their individuality. She taught me how to love.

My grandmother’s hands cheered people on and congratulated them. She was always happy for other’s accomplishments. She celebrated right along with them. My grandmother made a room brighter by just being in it. My grandmother taught me that a positive attitude will raise the spirits of others.

My grandmother’s hands held a telephone. She loved to chat on the phone. She was always ready to listen to what was going on in my life or something new I was learning. She talked to many people, every day. She truly loved people and sharing their lives with them. She taught me how to listen.

My grandmother’s hands held me when I was broken. When bad or sad things happened in life, I could always count on my grandmother to comfort me and help me see the silver lining. She taught me how to keep going.

I miss her everyday. I still often go to pick up the phone to call her. Her legacy will go on and on. The people who knew her will never forget her and those who carry her blood in their veins, will carry her bright light into the future. I love you grandmother and I was blessed to have your influence in my life. Thank you for all you taught me.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you be an inspiration for others, as if by magic.

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Our Connections With Others

People are wonderful. They really are. I have met so many amazing people in my life time. Each interaction, changes me a little. I learn from them, I grow, and ultimately have a bigger (and better) understanding of the world around me. 

There is a group I facilitate once a month. We explore a number of topics and have rich discussions. We all learn from one another. Last night there were 13 of us in attendance. We have had bigger groups and we have had smaller groups. It is a very fluid collection of attendees. New members come and old members drop in from time to time. Some people come once and never return, while others join and become regulars. It is a group that welcomes everyone. The richness of the group is directly related to all the wonderful attendants. As I looked around at the people who were there last night, it made me think about the spider web of life. It made me reflect on how these various members had come to be present at our gatherings. There were those who were friends of mine, those who came because the were connected to the church where we hold the gathering, and still others who were friends of friends and had made their way to our little circle. It is a great representation of the wonderful diverse web of life. 

Because I have been gifted with a life of travel, I have friends in many different places. Some near and others very far away. I have learned from all of these people. As with my monthly gathering, these friends have come into my life from so many different sources. Connections from relatives, classes, and jobs. This is one of the reasons I feel social media is a blessing. It allows me to keep a connection with many of these people. Some I consider deep and intimate friends that I care very much for, but it would not be possible for me to keep up relationships with all of them, if not for social media. There are those that I get to have a meal with once or twice a year. Others, who are a random text message now and then. This doesn’t diminish the thoughts I have for them and the gratitude for their parts in my life, nor the blessings I wish for them. 

Someone told me once that people come into our life when we need them. When they have served their role in our life, the energies will change and they will slip away to a new part of their life. I like this concept. It makes me feel better to understand that those very dear friends, who are no longer active in my life, have moved on as is intended by Divine order. New people are coming into our lives all the time. Are you open to the messages and lessons they bring with them? 

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of dear friends, as if by magic. 

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How Are You Improving Yourself?

I am always trying different things to improve myself. Are you also obsessed with becoming the very best version of you? I have multiple ways that I am working on myself at any given time. Some are very successful; others take more effort and require that I try again and again. I often think about the goals I have set for myself. Which ones are realistic and which ones are more grandiose ideas.

Currently I am working on going 21 days complaint free. Despite the fact that I have been working on this for several weeks I am still on day one. But with this I am finding that I am becoming more aware of my complaining. I am finding that, depending on who I am around and what I am talking about, makes a huge difference in how many times I need to change my bracelet. To learn more about this, please read my blogs: Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining? and OMG! Read This Book! It will take you places you didn’t know you need to go. (An update on my Complaint Free Adventure)

It is the first of October as I write this and I am thinking of writing a blog every day in October, sounds like a great idea, right?! This maybe one of my more grandiose ideas for a couple reasons. Blogging everyday takes time and that is not always a luxury I possess. Another is that, Adventure Sister Emy and I make sure not to post blogs on the same day. This avoids overwhelming our readers and helps make sure both of our important messages are heard. But what would be realistic number for me? To write 20 blogs in October? That certainly seems reasonable and I can write them without posting them. Just save them for a day when I don’t have as much time but need a blog. Okay – that is “now” my goal for October.

Continuing to improve my health with intermittent fasting is another. Somedays I do better with this than others. It remains my goal to start eating somewhere between 10 and noon and complete my caloric intake for the day by 6pm. It is a worthwhile goal to me and I have lost somewhere between 10-20 lbs. doing so.  I remain horrible about keeping track of my weight but maybe that is not such a bad thing.

I’m also trying 28 days without having an alcoholic drink. I feel this is also a worthwhile goal. I like the way a glass of wine helps me relax and causes the stress of the day to role off my shoulders. I like the way I can decompress and the stress seems to melt away after a glass. Specifically, because of the way wine helps me not have to deal with my things, is precisely why 28 days without it is a great goal. To remind me that I don’t really need it and by working through the lessons of my day is really better for me.

Another goal I have is to start running again. I cannot say I am currently really working towards this goal… unless you count reading How to a Lose  Marathon by Joel Cohen. I keep planning to start training again but so far it is all just talk. I need to overcome the fear that my knee injury is permanent.

Doing a really great job at work is always a goal for me too. I want to continue to improve my skills at my job, learn more, and be more of an asset to my co-workers and boss. Sounds like a lofty goal perhaps but one I feel strongly about.

With all of these goals, I move forward little by little, step by step. I can make big strides in one, while the others may stay stagnate for a time. At other times I move all goals forward in someways. Of course I have many more goals than those listed here. I wanted to convey to you that it is “okay” when goals do not go according to our plan and that when it comes to being the best version of ourselves, we can work on several things at once.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you make progress on all you goals, as if by magic.

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7 Tips to Remain Optimistic When Stressed.

Stress is a part of all of our lives! Here are some simple things you can do to help remain optimistic even when stressed. It may not always be easy, but a shift in focus, will certainly not hurt.

1.      Live in the NOW! – When you live in the ‘now” you are not worrying about what is coming (what is past) or how to make it be okay.

2.      Count you Blessings – Looking at all the positive things (happening) in our life, helps us not stress over the things that are making us feel stressed.

3.      Remember you are safe – Everything happens for the reason but even those things, that we do not want to happen, often teach us and help us grow.

4.      Paint a picture of what you want – Keep your thoughts on the outcome you want, rather than the outcome you do not want.

5.      Don’t forget to breath – All too often, when we are stressed, we either hold our breath or breath into our shoulders.  Taking some deep belly breathes helps provide a calming effect.

6.      Remember that failure is just a chance to start over – Some people think it is the end of the world but this is not true. It is a chance to start over and try again. By recognizing that failure makes success sweeter, perhaps will make it less scary for you. You now know what “didn’t work”, that will help you move towards the way that does.

7.      The sun will come out tomorrow – Like the song from the musical “Annie” says, the sun will come out, tomorrow is a new day, and good things are just around the bend. Even when we can’t see the sun, it is still there.

It is not always easy to remain optimistic when stressed or when (crazy) things are going on. It will, without a doubt, improve your outcome however. Whenever possible try and keep your thoughts positive and look to a brighter future. It is coming for you.

Thank you for reading my blog today! May your future be filled with sunshine and happy outcomes, as if by magic.

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Nature Will Always, ALWAYS Take Back What Is Hers

Have you ever noticed that when humans step away from things, Mother Nature is quick to say “Ok, I’ll take that back”. Sometimes she even takes it back before we might be ready to give it up. This thought has occurred to me several occasions over the last year or so. In the end, all that we think is ours, (including our bodies) will belong to Nature once again. IMG_1612

Have you seen where a store has closed and no-one has gone into the parking lot for awhile? It doesn’t take long before there is all kinds of green grass and weeds growing up through the blacktop. I tried to look up how long it would take for New York City to revert to nature if humans disappeared. The answer was not as easy as I thought it might be. Somethings would happen rather quickly like wildlife returning, vegetation growing up, and things starting to decompose. Within 10 years Nature would definitely have an eco-system functioning quite well within the city. Give it another 50 years, 100 years or 200 years  and it would be nothing more than ruins among the wilderness.

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Sometime the human race doesn’t even need to step back. Sometimes Mother Nature decides she wants something back and will force herself on a certain area until once again it is hers. Sometimes we can do something about this; like fill in a sink whole, rebuild after an earthquake, or divert water to another course. Other times there is nothing we do can to persuade the natural world to give us back what we “think” is ours. IMG_6458

When you really think about it, if Mother Earth decided that she was no longer going to tolerate us, and wanted to take back all that we think is ours, there is not a thing we can do to stop her. Have you been through a natural event? Hurricane, tornado, flood or earthquake? Have you ever truly seen the power of nature? Have you been there when she swoops in fierce and angry? There is nothing we can do to stop her when she is like this? DSC_0231

Even when she is not full of turmoil and destruction, even when we think we are living in harmony with her, she is slowly taking back what is hers. It is only through our constant maintenance, presence, and a pushing back, that we maintain a delicate hold on our corners of the world.

So the next time you see a crack in the sidewalk filled with “weeds”,  an IMG_2702abandon building that is over run by vines, or the pigeons sitting on the head of your favorite statue; realize that this is Mother Nature. Patiently waiting for her opportunity to take back what was once hers, alone. Remember to thank her and offer her blessings for allowing us to coexist with her. Respect her and try your best to take care of her and the creatures that are part of her. Keep in mind that she could wipe us from the face of the earth at a moments notice, if she so chose to. Nature will always win in the end. She will always take back what is hers.

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Thank you for reading my blog today. May you easily and happily coexist with Nature, as if by magic.

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The Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Been; Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

When we were planning our trip to Croatia, I was very excited to be able to visit this park full of waterfalls. I was sure it was nice but I had no idea how breathtakingly beautiful this visit would be. I have loved waterfalls since I saw my first one in Ireland. I now try an see them every chance I can get. I have heard that there is healing energy that is released by the cascading water. If you have ever stood near a large waterfall, I’m sure you have felt the energy it releases.

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I feel my words cannot adequately share with you the beauty of this park. Please enjoy my pictures with the hope that they might give you at least a little glimpse of the amazing glory of this place on earth. If you get the chance to visit, go! I suggest trying an early morning visit as this park is very popular and very large.

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The color of the water is breathtaking. From some quick internet research it seems limestone deposits are to credit for the stunning color of the water.

The water is also crystal clear too. My stepson’s quick eyes noticed this boat sunk under the clear water, pushed up against edge by the flow of the water, trapping it there for us to discover.

Of course, the beauty of this natural world is not without it’s dangers. This park is full of cliffs with drops-offs and some caves that offer fun climbs for the brave.

This park is dazzling because nature made it so. The park is also full of thoughtful walkways made to blend in gracefully with the lovely natural surroundings.

Veliki Slap or Big Waterfall brought me to tears when I saw it and I am not a person easily moved to tears. The magnificence of this fall did, what few things have done before.

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I have traveled a lot and I have been to many amazing places both natural and manmade. It will take a lot for this place to be dethroned as the most beautiful place I have been.

Thank you for reading my blog today! May your life offer you adventures to beautiful places, that take your breath away, as if by magic.

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OMG! Read This Book! It will take you places you didn’t know you need to go. (An update on my Complaint Free Adventure)

A recent post from a FaceBook Friend set me off on a journey I didn’t know I needed to go on. My other blog, Can You Go 21 Days in a Row Without Complaining?, explains the journey and how I found myself on it. Until I started this adventure, I had no idea how much I complained. Until I read the book, I did not correlate how complaining and focusing on what I did not want to happen, was stealing from me the opportunity to live my dreams.

I am about 2 weeks into my “Complaint Free World” Adventure. I’ve been using my cute little happy turtle bracelet to switch back and forth on my wrist every time I complain. The articles suggested this action as a way of bringing my complaining to my attention. I thought I could easily whip through the 21 days and be off to my next adventure. Nope. After 2 weeks I am still on day 1. Because I am struggling so much with this challenge, I decided to buy Will Bowen’s book, A Complaint Free World; How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted.

This book has taught me so much.

1 I am not alone in the fact that I complain “way” more than I realized.

2 I modeled this for my children and taught them to complain, as they grew up, without ever realizing it.

3 It is robbing me from living my dreams.

4 Complaining is contagious.

5 It does make for easy conversation starters.

6 I have a lot of work to do to become the best me I can be.

These are just a few of the lessons I have learned from reading the Will’s book. I felt it was necessary for me to read the book because I was wondering what was wrong with me that I could not make it “one day” without complaining. It was a comfort to me that even the author of the book, as well as most other people who go on this journey, find getting through one whole day complaint free, a struggle.

I continue to push on towards living a complaint free existence. I will continue switching my bracelet back and forth until the day I notice it has rested, undisturbed, on the same wrist for a whole day. I will then work towards going another and another day until I break this habit of complaining.

I am currently at the stage where I am starting to become aware of my complaints. Hopefully, soon, I will enter the stage where I stop them before they even cross my lips. Luckily, no switch of the bracket is required for unspoken complaints. I will strive to live my great grandmothers advice. “If you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all”, she would tell us.  Ura McGurran was so wise.  I am human; a work in progress that is striving towards practicing what I preach and in search of living my dreams.

I did decide to go to Will’s website and purchase the purple bracelets he sells for this challenge. I have been using my cute little turtle bracelet but, after hearing how many people broke brackets switching them back and forth, I decided a purple silicone bracelet would be a great idea. I really like my little turtle bracelet.

Will you join me on this adventure? Will you walk this journey towards a Complaint Free World with me? I hope so but make sure you bring a lot of bracelets if you do.

Thank you for reading my blog today. May you find yourself moving easily in the direction of your dreams, as if by magic.

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