Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gratitude Journal #244

 
 
Today, I am grateful for five fun days at my sister's house. Nick, Jack, and I had a wonderful time just hanging at Lisa and Tom's house with them, my mother, niece, and nephews. But we also enjoyed bowling, go-cart racing, and shopping, as well as a day at Rehoboth Beach.

There was a lot of good eating, too, thanks to my sister and mom and a few good restaurants.

Today, I am grateful for cameras that allow us to document the smiles and silliness.


Jack refused to pose with Mom, so she got revenge

Checking out the surf


 
Nick about the be creamed by a wave while
Mac and Jack look on.


Rory

Mac

Dolphin close-up

Dolphins

Grady

Nick and Rory waiting for a ride at the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk

Lisa and Grady on the boardwalk


Lisa and Me, stuffing my face and surprised by the camera


 
Lisa and Tom

Mac
Grady watching his ball
slowly roll to the pins


Today, I am grateful for Jack. You might recall that Sheldon Cooper quotes (in Klingon) the phrase "Revenge is a dish best served cold." The other day, Jack said, apropos of nothing, "Revenge is a side dish." I wonder what the entrĂ©e is.... It can't be good.

Today, I am grateful for the choir in our church. What a difference it makes in worship to have trained voices drowning me out during hymns.

Today, I'm grateful that the insurance dealings on our car accident have been so uncomplicated. We were rear-ended about five minutes from my sister's house as we headed home from Maryland. The driver of the other car appeared to be okay, but his car appeared to be totaled. In our car, no one was injured except the car, which is already scheduled to go to the body shop for a new bumper and repairs to the harness for the spare tire.

Today, I'm grateful to George for having a large glass of red wine ready for me when I got home.




What are YOU grateful for today?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gratitude Journal #243

Today, I am grateful for George's successful completion of RAIN, the Ride Across Indiana...a 162.5-mile bike ride, um, across Indiana. He left Friday on a bus for the west side of Indiana, rode east for 10 hours, 32 minutes, and placed in the top half of all finishers. Way to go, George!

Today, I am grateful for Saturday morning. I went to sleep Friday night with Daisy curled up at the foot of the bed, and awoke Saturday morning feeling a paw pushing on my shoulder. When I rolled over, I saw this.


So glad my phone was handy to snap this picture.

Today, I am grateful for Jack's first sleep-over. He had a great time with his friend Jeremy. They watched movies, played ping pong, jumped on the trampoline, ate junk food, hunted fire flies, got a decent night's sleep, then went to Chuck E. Cheese (omg, I am so going straight to heaven when I die!), and ate lunch at McDonald's.

Today, I am grateful for my iPhone because my computer won't play videos or send/receive email...but my phone will.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Black Magic of Coffee

Nearly six years ago, I told my husband that I was going to quit drinking Coca-Cola, and he rolled his eyes at me. "Oh, sure," he said. "I've never heard that before." I can say without a doubt my desire to prove George wrong has strengthened me in times of temptation.

Take that, George. SIX YEARS...in your face!

As we approach the six-year anniversary of my last sip of Coca-Cola, I'm realizing a few truths about addiction.

1. The urge to drink Coca-Cola never fully disappears. A few months ago, an end-cap at Kroger was filled with Coca-Cola memorabilia, and when I spotted the display, I started drooling and heard tab-top cans popping open in my head.

2. Just typing the previous sentence made me drool. I'd hear the cans opening except for the fact that two 11-year-olds are watching Despicable Me 2 with the volume at maximum in the next room. All I hear right now are minions.

3. I really want minions. Wouldn't life be grand if we all had a few minions to help us around the house? Minions or house elves. Really, I'm not picky.

What were we talking about? Oh, right.

4. The weakest moment I experienced in the past six years was at a church luncheon for our Bible study. Jim offered me a red plastic cup of coke, and as I reached for it, I thought, "Get behind me, Satan!" I passed that cup to someone else and drank water instead.

5. The best treatment for Coca-Cola addiction is substituting something healthy (or at least not as bad), sort of like ex-smokers chew gum.

That's where coffee comes in.

Coca-Cola has 140 calories per can. Coffee has 2 calories per cup if you drink it strong and black, as I do.

Coca-Cola has 39 grams of sugar per can. Coffee is brimming with immune-boosting antioxidants and is thought to reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression, stroke, liver cancer, and other nasty things.

In fact, the only health negatives to drinking coffee are related to the caffeine, not the coffee itself. Substituting decaf or half-caf coffee for Coca-Cola is, therefore, a no-brainer.

So that's what I've done. And now I am addicted to coffee. I rarely drink fully caffeinated coffee, so I don't buzz and hum like some coffee lovers do, but drinking that black, bold, hot, glorious brew makes me happy...not in quite the same bubbly way a cold Coca-Cola made me happy, but good enough that I've stuck to my no-more-coke resolution for almost six years.

That happiness is real. On mornings when I have trouble getting up, I think, "Coffee's ready!" and pop out of bed with an anticipatory smile on my face. (Thank you, Cuisinart, for my programmable pot!) My boys are learning that it's best to wait until I've had a cup or two before starting their bickering. Mom's so much happier after her infusion of antioxidants.

If I'm having a bad day, I'll start up my small pot and have a cup of decaf...and I feel better. The warmth, the comfort, the ritual of holding a pretty coffee cup in my hands and sipping hot brew soothes me every time.

So thanks to George's eye roll and the substitution of coffee, I've been coke-free for nearly six years. Fortunately, there are lots of coffee-related sayings out there to distract me from the red-and-white canned, bubbly stuff. Let's celebrate my sobriety with some of recent finds from Pinterest.



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And now it's your turn. What regular, daily, "magical" treat makes you feel happy? It doesn't have to be food or drink. Perhaps it's a prayer or meditation, a kiss from your honey, a song you use as your alarm, the sound of the subway moving on its tracks, birds at your feeder...whatever. Please share! 



Monday, July 7, 2014

Gratitude Journal #242

Today, I am grateful for being able to celebrate the birth of my nation with friends, food, and fireworks. Thanks ever so much to the Clarks for making our Independence Day celebration so much fun!

Today, I am thankful for the baby barn swallows on our front porch. What a treat to watch them grow as their very devoted parents hunt for them and guard them.

Just look at those cute tail feathers!

Today, I am grateful for a few hours spent at an area park looking for birds and enjoying a beautiful, mild summer day.






Today, I am grateful for washing machines and dryers and dry cleaners...and the clean clothes that come from them!

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

What Makes America Amazing?






"We hold these Truths to be self evident that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness--."

A nation based on preserving the right to pursue happiness for all men? Of course, our Founding Fathers defined "men" rather more narrowly than we do today, but that statement was the pebble that started the avalanche of freedom and equality for all. Just think how miraculous it was that our founders chose to reject millennia of monarchy in favor of a government by, for, and of the people.

Just over eighty years later, we had a president who recognized that no person should be owned by another. Ever since, we have had legal and legislative systems that have increasingly moved us toward respecting the unalienable rights of all people. We may not be there quite yet, but I believe we will get there.

On our recent vacation, we drove on the interstate with convoys of military vehicles and felt no fear. Our military stands for freedom...our own and other nations'. We didn't have to present papers to gun-toting guards to cross state lines. We had the right of free passage to a beautiful place and could stay as long as we wanted and go home as easily as we left it. We in America take this easy movement for granted. We should not.

I can say whatever I want and not worry about being thrown in jail or harassed by "authorities." I can even share the etymology of "politics," which comes from the Greek "poly" meaning many, and "tics" meaning blood-sucking parasites. I won't even get a slap on the wrist.

I am free to pursue whatever religion I want without interference by my government. I can assemble, peacefully protest, and actively participate in government as I choose. I can dial 911 and get emergency help made available by my government.

I can read whatever I want and not worry about who's monitoring my bizarre obsessions with Victorian mysteries, neuroscience, literary criticism, and the occasional flaky sci-fi or chick-lit novel.

The internet is open to me. I can check out all the stamping blogs I want without anyone blocking my search, and I can add my own creative efforts to the world-wide web without worry.

These last few examples seem trivial, but they are not. They are critical, wonderful consequences of my right to pursuit happiness.

Our founding fathers laid the groundwork for freedoms we're still asserting. We're still growing toward freedom for all. We're not perfect, but our ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness can't be beat.

And that makes us pretty amazing.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gratitude Journal #241

Today, I am grateful for talks with friends whom I understand and who understand me. Those easy friendships are so supportive and energizing!

Today, I am grateful that Jack bowled two strikes in a row yesterday. He was on a roll! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Today, I am grateful for Daisy, especially as a companion for my boys...all three of them. She's such a good dog. And very bendy, too.



Today, I am grateful for sermons that sound like they were written straight to my heart and push me to broaden and deepen my faith life.

Today, I am grateful for books and bookstores.

What are you grateful for today?


Sunday, June 29, 2014

We Do This to Ourselves



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Years ago, I accepted that life is a diabolically unpredictable, dimly lit roller coaster.

With long boring stretches.

And plenty of fun stretches.

And stretches so terrifying in free-fall that you will curl up in the fetal position and vomit into your lap.

We might think life should be one thing, that our lives ought to turn out according to our carefully laid plans, but the truth is that life's mostly going to be whatever it's going to be...without a care for our thoughts or feelings on the subject. We like the illusion that we are in control. But we're not. Unexpected curves, twists, and loops pop up all the time.

You can fight this and shake your fist and whine and complain all you want.

Or you can lift your arms and enjoy as much of the ride as you can.

Faith helps. It helps to trust that God's in charge and everything will work toward His ultimate good, even the really terrible stuff. Faith gets easier the more you see of life, the more you both witness and experience bad stuff turning, eventually and often unexpectedly, to good.

Have you let go of expecting life to be the picture you have in your head? Are you on the first row or the third row...?

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