Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive


Hey, You...Get Off of My Cloud!
If you do, "I Will Survive" (and you will too)
But if you get too close "I'll Fly Away!"
(Sorry....just a little "beer virus" humor!)



Isolation is for the birds….well, guess that’s not true.  They seem to be flying around rather freely these days!  Sure wish I could.  I am doing my best to stay away from as many people as possible, not only so that I will be following the rules set up by my local and state governments; but also because it’s the best thing for my health since I have asthma.  I want to protect myself and my family as much as possible, but it sure is hard not to get out and see people.   I did go out to the cemetery for a few minutes, but I wasn’t worried about anyone there giving me those evil germs.   So…what have I been doing while in prison isolation?

One of my least favorite jobs….cleaning out flower beds.  We are planning on relandscaping some areas but won’t be able to get the plants until after all this craziness is over.  By then it might be winter!


HOMESCHOOLING.  One grandchild is in 10th grade and the other is in 8th, and let me tell you….what is being taught these days is soooooo much harder than when I was in school.  In fact, I’m not sure I would have ever graduated if I had to do all that they do.  I mean, I know we learned about cells but I’m pretty sure we didn’t have to learn the names and definitions of all the hundreds zillion different cells swimming around in our bodies.  
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I have a Master’s degree but sometimes I honestly have no idea about some of the things they are learning.  I am helping them when possible (and they both have called on me a few times these past two weeks), but doing school online can be very difficult when you are used to having a teacher and the structure of a classroom.  My grandchildren are hanging in there, but I know many children don’t have anyone at home directing their path and keeping them focused.  Please pray for them...and for their teachers who truly care.

I have organized closets (color coordinated), cleaned out cabinets, and found dust bunnies I didn’t even know I had.  Guess there are at least a few positive outcomes of this devil's handiwork.

 Another positive outcome has been that in many homes, parents are spending more time with their children than they are normally able to.  Have you seen the new game going around…the one that pulls parent and child together as they travail their town looking for TEDDY BEARS in windows, behind trees, or hiding in bushes?  We are doing it in our little town and one friend recently reported finding over 235!!!!  But it’s not only fun for the young, because two “oldies” whose name I won’t mention jumped on our their golf cart and went looking too😊  Such a fun way to soothe some cabin fever and the “I’m bored” syndrome.   (And yes, my sweet teddy is sitting in his own little chair on the front porch!)




Of course, I’m reading, doing crosswords, walking in the neighborhood (keeping my distance from any other walkers), and finishing up some projects that have been on the back burner for awhile.  Things like cleaning out my computer files and favorites, making out menus, and going through mountains a few recipes I’ve collected.  If only I could get to Wal-Mart to pick up some spray paint, I would be painting up a storm!  I am not a “sitter”….I have to constantly be doing something.  I am beginning to understand how those poor animals in cages at the zoo feel    


One negative of this whole situation is that by staying home I am doing way too much of this…..



and none of this.      


I’ve hidden the bathroom scales for now!!!!!

Another positive in all this sadness and fear is that GOD still knows how to put on His spring nature show.  The azaleas and dogwoods are blooming and so I get to enjoy those as I walk the neighborhood.  And once again a sweet little cardinal couple is building their nest in the candlier on our front porch.  If the mean old cats or some other unwelcome visitor doesn’t bother them, we will get to enjoy waiting for the eggs to hatch and then watching mama and daddy feed their little ones.  Definitely something to look forward to!


I am 70 years old young and so I don’t have any memories of the Great Depression or WWI or II.  I do remember having those drills in school during the Cold War where we had to dive under our desks when the alarm was sounded…and I remember my neighbor digging this HUGE hole in his backyard that I was hoping was going to be a neighborhood swimming pool but instead was a fallout shelter.  (This worried me tremendously…thinking that if the worst happened his family would be safe inside that shelter while my family was annihilated!)  But other than that (which turned out to be nothing) I have never seen or really even imagined anything like what we are going through today.  I can’t help but ask, "Is this God's wake-up call for all of us?"      I am so tired of seeing and hearing people from our highest government to my local community argue, put down each other, and just be plain mean.  I’m not trying to say I know what God is up to, but I am praying that maybe, just maybe, at least some of our world will now appreciate the blessings we have and learn to live in love and peace with all people.

I pray that you and your family and friends are safe and well, and I ask that you pray for my family and me too.  WE CAN GET THROUGH THIS TOGETHER... if we just love one another, care for one another, and PRAY PRAY PRAY!     Keep washing those hands and distancing yourself….go clean out some closets and find some dust bunnies to sweep away.  This too shall pass.


Sunday, March 15, 2020

IN THE FACE OF THE STORM


If you are like me (and most of America), you have concerns about what is going on all around us.  Not only are we faced with an unknown virus for which there is no vaccine or medicines to cure it; but we are also faced with empty shelves at our local grocery and big box stores, feeling the need & urgency to hunker down and quarantine ourselves and our families, and a lot of fear for what will happen next. 
         
This morning before church I was watching the news on TV (I really need to stop doing that), and they were showing how people were actually fighting and beating each other over toilet paper and bottled water!  One shopper even grabbed a wine bottle, broke it, and then used it to stab another shopper!  Much of the world’s sanity and decency have seemed to go by the wayside.  As I watched what had transpired on the TV, I began to cry and to feel the need to pray; so I sat down at my computer and prayed and typed.  I sometimes write down my prayers because it helps to keep me focused and my mind doesn’t go off on tangents!  I shared this prayer with my Sunday School class, and I thought I would share it with you also.  I know God has got this virus and HE’S GOT THE WHOLE WORLD IN HIS HANDS, but I have to admit I have moments of fear and anxiety.  I need HIM, I need HIS love and grace, I need HIS calm in the face of the storm.

OUR DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER,

First of all I come to you this morning thanking you for all the many blessings you bestow on us each day, especially your LOVE & GRACE.  But, dear Lord, I also come to you this a.m. with a heavy heart.  Our country, our world is going through a crisis like none most of us have ever seen or even imagined.  We are frightened, we are at times discouraged, we are struggling to stay calm in a chaotic time.  Although we know that you are always in control, some of us struggle with keeping our faith strong, some of us are living in such fear that we may not be making the best decisions….and we need YOU, Lord, to help calm our fears and to guide us through the days & weeks ahead.


I ask God that you will keep us safe, that you will help each of us to do our parts in ending this crisis.  I ask you that we put all selfishness and greed aside and that we remember those around us who may need our help.  Lead us and guide us to do your will through all of this.  Help us to set good examples for our children and grandchildren as we know that how we behave in a crisis may set a precedent for them.  Watch over our older citizens and those with chronic diseases; help us to not take up valuable time and resources that they may need.  Help us to be mindful of all those we live among.

I ask, God, that you bless our country financially.  Knowing that our economy has been and will continue to be hurt by this at least for awhile, we ask that you help us to be good stewards of our monies and our supplies, yet also generous.


I ask that you watch over our doctors, nurses, and health workers; that you will keep them safe and healthy and that you will richly bless them for their sacrifices.  I ask that you bless those who are searching for a vaccine and that you will sustain them with your strength as they work with urgency and without rest.

I ask that you bless our president and all world leaders as they try to figure out what is best for our world.  I ask that you would help all our government officials to put aside their desire to best the other party or their opponents.  Help them to come together to lead our country and to set an example for all of us.

And finally, dear Lord, I ask you to put on each and every heart the desire to help each other, to share with each other, to put aside all thoughts of “self above all else”….help us to look to you for peace, comfort, and grace.  Bless not only our country, but all countries…help us to keep our eyes on YOU, the giver and sustainer of life and all that we have.  Take away our fears and fill our hearts with faith, hope, & love.    AMEN.

May you and your families stay well; may your faith remain strong; may God Bless America and the world.                                                                           
Love,                                                                                                 Cheri                                
                    
                                                                

Friday, March 6, 2020

I WANT TO BE A MARIGOLD...NOT A WALNUT TREE!



 When I began my career as an Early Childhood educator, my principal assigned me a mentor teacher named Jeannette A.  She had already been teaching for a few years…and by the way, she was just a natural born teacher.  Jeannette was my life saver that year…she taught me all the things that I wasn’t taught in a college classroom.  When she breathed in, I breathed in; when she breathed out, I breathed out.  I followed her every move, and I was so very wise to do so.  Even now that we are both “old” and retired, she is still a very, very dear friend.  Jeannette was my MARIGOLD. 




MARIGOLDs are those little flowers in the daisy family that usually have yellow or orange blooms; and did you know if you plant them in your garden alongside your vegetables, those vegetables will grow big and strong and healthy?  They also protect many plants from pesky insects and weeds.  It’s as if the plants are loved & protected by their MARIGOLDs and they respond to that love & protection.

But people can be MARIGOLDs too.  Those MARIGOLDs are the friends that stand by us through thick or thin; the friends who love us warts and all; the friends who encourage us to be our best.

I WANT TO BE A MARIGOLD.


Smart gardeners plant MARIGOLDs alongside their vegetables, but smart gardeners also know you should NOT plant a garden next to a WALNUT TREE.  These trees contain a chemical known as juglone which can “deprive sensitive plants of needed energy for metabolic activity."  The plants can wither and wilt and their growth can be stunted; they can even die.  WALNUT TREEs can be like poison to your garden.



But people can be WALNUT TREEs  too.  Those trees are the “friends”, family members, neighbors, or coworkers who “poison” you with their negativity, their jealousy, their everyone is out to get you or their nothing is ever good enough attitude.  WALNUT TREEs discourage rather than encourage; drag you down instead of lift you up; and want you to be just as unhappy and miserable as they are.

I WANT TO BE A  MARIGOLD...not a WALNUT TREE.


Over the 40 1/2 years I was a teacher, I worked alongside many MARIGOLDs but also a few too many WALNUT TREEs.  The MARIGOLDs loved the kids and their jobs in spite of how hard and tiring it was some days.  The MARIGOLDs encouraged the other teachers around them, they supported each other on good days and bad, they saw the good in every child. I had so many wonderful MARIGOLDs that loved me and taught me to give my all each and every day.  Thank you Jeannette, I. Archer, G. Dunn, D. Davis, Mrs. G., Jean, Debbie, Susan, Bonnie and many others.

Sadly, the WALNUT TREES did nothing without complaining, failed to find any joy in who or what they taught, and tried to drag everyone around them down to their miserable state of being.  I won't name any names.

I WANT TO BE A MARIGOLD...NOT A WALNUT TREE.


I want to encourage others rather than discourage them; I want to help them rather than condemn them for where they have failed; I want to give love to those who feel unloved; I want to lift up rather than tear down; I want to see the good in others and sew seeds of kindness; I want to share smiles with those who have lost theirs; I want to forgive and help others to forgive themselves.

I WANT TO BE A MARIGOLD.

WALNUT TREES ARE POISON. Avoid them whenever you can. If you don’t, they will start to infect you, and soon you’ll hate your life as much as they hate theirs.  Pray for the WALNUT TREES; set an example for them.

Be a MARIGOLD and watch those around you blossom and maybe become a MARIGOLD too. 

So….are you a MARIGOLD or a WALNUT TREE?


Sunday, February 9, 2020

ORGANIZATION is My Middle Name!



Are you an organized person…one who likes a place for everything and everything in its place?


Or…are you a person who is just fine, even happy, living in clutter and playing hide & seek  with your possessions?


As for me….I ADORE organization!  In fact, if I thought I could make a living doing it in my small town, I would hire myself out…seriously!  Give me a cluttered closet or a messy drawer, and I will have it organized for you before you can shake a tail feather😊 
(Disclaimer:  I’m not saying my house doesn’t have “stuff” in it or that I am a minimalist…definitely NOT!  But I just like to know where things are and I like to know that they are well organized.)

I have recently read a few articles about Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organization.  Have you heard of her?  She is a Japanese organizing consultant and author and has made a small large fortune teaching and writing about her methods.  Too much to go into here, but Google her…quite interesting.  Makes me sorta angry though that I didn’t get on the bandwagon before she did…I mean I could be the ORGANIZATION GURU myself!

I decided to try a couple of Marie’s ideas this past week.  Before I tell you what I did, though, let me tell you what I “didn’t do.”  Marie (from her videos she seems such a sweetie) says you should hold each thing and see if it brings you JOY and if it doesn’t, get rid of it.  Hmmm…sorry, Marie, but when I was going through my husband’s underwear drawer I just didn’t feel any real JOY.  


Also, she suggests getting rid of things you haven’t used or worn in awhile and she tends to get rid of A LOT.  (Of course, she isn’t talking about the “have to have” things like toilet paper, toothpaste, or those empty toilet paper rolls you’ve been saving in case your grandchildren might need them for a school project…and yes, I was guilty!)   

Well, I’m pretty good about doing that on a rather regular basis but there are some things I decide to keep because I might need them “some day.”  For example, I have a very dated KATE SPADE purse that was my mother-in-law’s.  I knew I’d never use it but HEY!  It’s KATE SPADE.  And it did finally come in handy when my granddaughter had to do a report on and dress up like Coco Chanel…that KATE SPADE purse fit her outfit perfectly….(isn’t she just the cutest?)


Anywho>>>>Here are Marie’s 6 basic rules for decluttering and organizing your stuff:

1.  Commit yourself to tidying up all at once…she suggests choosing one day or one weekend and get it done in one fell swoop!  (My problem with this is trying to do it all at once could, maybe, possibly cause a NERVOUS BREAKDOWN!)    My really good friend (who is totally happy in her home of MAJOR CLUTTER) would have to work for several months!

2.  Imagine your ideal lifestyle…so!  are you happy to continue to live in your clutter or do you salivate over decluttered, well organized, no dust magazine photos that you peruse over mindlessly?  Keep that thought in mind.

3.  Hold each item with both hands and ask yourself:  “Does this spark joy?” Again, my husband’s underwear doesn’t really make me want to do a happy dance, but I am thankful he has it😊 


4.  Finish discarding before you move on…in other words, discard everything you no longer want or need BEFORE you begin to organize what is left…throw away all you can or donate still usable items to friends or family or a local charity or other organization.

5.  Tidy by category and not a location…now I have to tell you this one bothers me!  Marie would say go through ALL the clothes in your house or ALL the books you have before moving on to a new category, but personally I would start with one ROOM or one CLOSET and then go on to another.  I would go batty with every room in the house in disorder at the same time!

6.  Follow the right order; she says CLOTHES, then BOOKS, PAPERS, MISCELLANEOUS, and finally SENTIMENTAL STUFF (because those memories are the most difficult to want to get rid of).  I tend to disagree with this step too.  I don’t think there has to be an order…what difference does the order make?  As long as you are decluttering and organizing and getting your act together, I personally don’t see what it matters if you decide to go through all your books before your clothes.  What do you think?  (I do agree with her on saving the sentimental stuff till last.)

So…what advice from Marie did I use?  I decided to go through our drawers and fold things the way she suggests, which is VERY different from anything I’d ever seen.  We don’t keep shirts or sweaters in drawers but I did go through all our underwear and socks.  I wasn’t sure my husband or myself would like this new way, but we have actually been very happy with it and our drawers have stayed so much neater.  Plus folding this way seems to give more room in the drawer.  Here is a good VIDEO to show you how it’s done
and here is a picture of our undie drawers.  (Don’t you feel special?  I don’t share our underwear with just anybody!)



Although I absolutely love ADORE organizing and seeing our “stuff” neat and uncluttered, I have to admit I do have one weakness…MEMORABILIA & PHOTOS and that’s why Marie says go through this LAST.  If you start with it, you may become disheartened because you just don’t want to get rid of that sweet painted footprint of your toddler in preschool or the silly folded notes your boyfriend (now husband) passed you in class in the 9th grade…GUILTY AS CHARGED!  But I will say my memorabilia and (now) all photographs are well organized in boxes.  (My son will probably throw a lot of it away when I’m dead & gone, but I will be playing my heavenly harp and won’t give a hoot!)

Marie also says before you get rid of something sincerely thank it for serving its purpose.  So…THANK YOU empty toilet paper rolls for holding my toilet paper and then taking up space in my closet while I waited for my grandchildren to need them for a school project which never happened.  (I did donate them to my granddaughter’s STEAM teacher just in case!)

So…which are you?  Organized or disorganized?  Are you happy with your “stuff” as is or have you been promising yourself you want to do something about it?  If it’s time to neaten up and declutter, then put on some comfortable clothes, some rock-out music, and get going!  And maybe you’ll even find the JOY in folding that underwear!


Friday, January 31, 2020

Wake Up...and Smell the Coffee!


(That is one of my favorite sayings!)
Are you a morning person or a night owl?  
When I was still teaching I had to get up around 6:00 a.m. every morning.  My husband learned not to speak to me for the first 10 minutes or so, but I am much better now that I can get up at my leisure…one of the benefits
of retirement😊  Even though now I could sleep as late as I want, I am usually up between 7:30 & 8:00 a.m.  However, I do tend to be a night owl and my 10:00 work bedtime has now turned into more like 11:00-12:00 or sometimes even later.

So…do you have a morning routine?  I am a person who likes organization, schedules, and routines…I just function better.  Lately I have been thinking a lot about how I can make each day the best I can make it, and I’m finding that how you begin your day can make a LOT of difference in how your day goes.  If you search the internet you can find MANY, MANY articles with ideas of how to set up a morning routine or things you can do to start your day off right.  Everyone is different and what appeals to one person might not work for another, but here are some ideas that I incorporate into my mornings.  See what you think.

1.  Gratitude for the New Day.  Because I am a Christian I believe in prayer, and so each morning before I get out of bed I try to remember to simply say, "Good morning, God.  Thank you for another chance to live my life and be with my family."  Just smiling & realizing that each day is a blessing is a wonderful way to face the day... 

“When you smile, it signals your brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin), which lift your mood, relax your body, and lower your heart rate. Who wouldn’t want to start their day on this positive note?” https://chopra.com/articles/10-morning-habits-to-start-your-day-off-right




 "Each day comes bearing its own gifts.  Untie the ribbons."
Ruth Ann Schabaker

"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive...to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."
Marcus Aurelius

2.  S-t-r-e-t-c-h.  If you are a “little up there in age” (like me) a good stretch can really help you feel energized (and make it easier to waddle to the bathroom!)  But you don’t have to be old for some stretches to help you get moving.  Your body is like a computer that has been turned off all night…it needs a good reboot.
3.  Make Up Your Bed!  Have you ever seen this video of a Navy seal who discusses why it’s so important to make up your bed every morning?  It’s great…you really should watch it.  I guess I am OCD but I HAVE TO MAKE UP MY BED EVERY SINGLE MORNING.  At night I just CANNOT get into a bed that hasn’t been made.
4.  But First C-O-F-F-E-E!  A lot of folks (you perhaps?) just cannot start their day without coffee!  I am not a huge coffee drinker but I do love my cappuccino!  I enjoy a cup as I watch or read the a.m. news and as I think about my day ahead.  I did recently read (this article) that says the best time to drink your morning coffee is an hour after you wake up, but who wants to wait that long?  I’ve also read that we should drink a glass of water when we wake up to get our bodies hydrated…it’s also good for our skin (and I need all the help with that that I can get these days!)

5.  Fuel Up!  I’m not one that eats breakfast every a.m. even though I know I should.  I’ve read research that says breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I’ve also read that may not be true.  I also recently learned that eating protein for breakfast “may” help you consume less calories during the day (and I need all the help I can get with that too!)
6.  List It!  I make a To Do List.  This is important for me, especially now that I am retired.  I don’t like to waste my days, even though I can if I want😊.  I prioritize my list so that I can make sure to get the most important things done.  It’s also a good idea (though I don’t always do this) to do the most difficult thing first.  Get that sucker out of the way, pronto!

7.  Get Moving!  I exercise 3-5 times each week and I get it out of the way in the mornings (I hate to exercise!)  Some days I go to the gym and some days I walk in my neighborhood.  It’s one of those necessary evils of life!!!

8.  Looking Good!  Every day I put on my makeup, get dressed, put on my jewelry, and fix my hair…even if I am not going anywhere that day.  I just feel so much better when I know I’m prepared for any emergency (like unexpected company or a call to go pick up a sick grandchild from school). Also, I just like to look nice for my husband.  There are a lot of psychological reasons for getting dressed everyday…just Google it.

9.  Quiet Time with God.    I know some people who grab their coffee and then head for their personal space to read the Bible and talk with God.  I like to give myself some time to wake up and get some of my other morning routine out of the way.  That way I don’t find my thoughts wandering away so much to the things I need to do. 

"When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.  Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.  If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault likes in yourself."      --Tecumseh
As much as I miss my classroom and teaching the children every day, it’s nice that now I have time for all these things and that I can have a more leisurely morning to start my days.  But whether you are no longer working like me or whether you still get up each morning and prepare for your work day, it’s still a good idea to have a morning routine to help you start off on a positive note.  How you begin your day can affect everything. 
Do you have a morning routine or are you just one of those people who takes it as it comes?  If you find yourself starting your day already stressed, maybe you need to rethink things and find ways to make your mornings something to look forward to. 
The older I get the more I realize you need to heed the words of the Roman poet Horace....SEIZE  THE  DAY!...meaning one should enjoy life while one can.  And the best way to do that is to begin every morning:)

PS:  I don't know why some of this post has a white background.  I tried and tried to fix it, but couldn't....grrrr!