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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Our Weaknesses Can be our Strengths



Over the past 10 years my weaknesses have held daily meetings to discuss how best to torment and torture me.

Worry, anxiety and fear chaired this committee - they read the minutes of the last meeting on how to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life - then they read the agenda for the next meeting which was how best to provide worry, anxiety and fear into my life.

And I let these meetings occur, in fact, I facilitated their ability to meet. I provided room for their meetings.

And then I stopped. With a lot of help, I stopped.

Like some cosmic exterminator I wiped them out. " I gave them room no more" to torment and torture me. It required an intervention from a good friend - I am convinced was sent by God - who came in the form of an incredible therapist Valerie Dimick, who first had to convince me it was possible to live without fear and worry and then set about to teach me how.

Long ago my husband and I built a house. We were warned this would not go well, that couples fought and even separated over the building of a house. I knew one woman who divorced her husband and ran off with the contractor! But we didn't have personal problems when we built the house. We focused on building the house. It was a great way to tackle such a huge project but we did that unconsciously. We built the house on faith...faith that although we knew we didn't have the expertise to do this project, we just would do our best and trust it would work out. No lie we made a lot of mistakes. For instance we completely forgot to order interior doors for the entire house, but things worked out, we never considered it wouldn't.  We got into our house and have lived here for the past 22 years. I didn't realize it at the time but as we built the house we were being taught a valuable pattern. We didn't focus on each other weaknesses, we focused on the end result which was building a house and how to get that accomplished. I was too busy, or too young to realize what was being taught. A pattern of focusing on the big picture and not on the pebbles that get stuck in our shoe.

Because I was unaware of what was being shown to me I followed a different pattern with some very negative outcomes when faced with another big event in my life.

When the recession hit all my basic fears emerged. An entire childhood of abandonment came to light. Safety issues hit me from every direction and I became the most worried, most anxious, most fearful person you would ever meet.

Luckily a friend noticed it and guided me toward help. I was not going to see this on my own because I was so steeped in fear. Help came in the form of a therapist named Valerie Dimick. Valerie introduced tools into my life to combat the daily...hourly... attacks my mind would conjure up. And I started to get better.

It's all choice isn't it? After all I had gone through far worse things in my life. But for some reason complete financial ruin was my Waterloo. I saw no way out...no possible remedy of any kind.To explain hopelessness is impossible. I can't. But looking back now I do see that my problem was where I placed the focus...entirely on me. MY life is a mess, MY life shouldn't have turned out this way, MY life....MY life....MY life. When we focus on ourselves, of course, we will be depressed.

Weaknesses are part of our DNA. That is very simple. but here is the best part, those weaknesses? Can be our best friend. Weaknesses can be made strengths. I believe God gave us weakness in order for us to be strong. Not to punish us....but to give us strength.

Here is the best quote ever on strengths and weaknesses I have read. It is by Thomas S. Monson

"God Left us the world unfinished for man to work his skill upon. He left the electricity in the cloud, the oil in the earth. He left the rivers unbridged and the forests unfelled and the cities unbuilt. God gives to man the challenge of raw materials, not the ease of unfinished things. He leaves the pictures unpainted and the music unsung and the problems unsolved, that man might know the joys and glories of creation." 

So I have a weakness of fear and worry....but I have a determination to combat it and to make it a strength. Maybe just the confession of my path will comfort someone who thinks they are alone. And when you feel that way it is easy to stay miserable. Accept that many people have your same weakness, hell, embrace that! Support groups are formed for that very reason.

And then travel with me as we find ways to make our weaknesses strengths...whatever that might be.





Thursday, June 23, 2016

Who Am I?




Thanks for sending in your DNA sample.

And that is how it starts.

Being adopted I wanted to find out where I came from. I have done a lot of family history but only for the family I know. Finding birth parents hasn't been a driving force in my life, I honor their privacy. But I am curious. I am not expecting a big surprise. I look a bit Anglo Saxon, so I imagine I am from Northern Europe...but maybe I am the product of a Viking experience. 10 generations back my people were stolen from Spain or Morocco,and brought to, I don't know, Norway, or Poland...Maybe I am a descendant of Catharine the Great....or Genghis Khan.......
Maybe Italian? That would freak out my husband who is really Italian.

All I know is I am from Texas and that is not going to change. And my birth mothers name is -

Opal Leigh Jones

I didn't know anything about my birth mother until my father passed away and I found my original birth certificate. No dad's name....

This might be the reason I enjoy saying the word "bastard" so much.....

I will let you know the results of the great DNA mystery. Although I am not expecting much more than, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. 

I'll know more in 6-8 weeks. It's kind of exciting isn't it?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Meet Jessica Durrant...

"Jessica Durrant is a freelance illustrator specializing in fashion, beauty and lifestyle genres" That is the opening line from her webpage. In case you aren't aware of her work, this is an introduction that needs to be made.








Jessica is one of my daughters best friends. She has been part of our family for years so we have been on the front row watching her success skyrocket.

We simply adore her.



Jessica started off with an Etsy shop in 2009, and now her work can be found associated with Target, Lancome Paris, L'Oreal Paris Kerastase, QVC, Fenwick's, Marionnaud and Avene. Harper's Bazar named her a fashion illustrator to follow on Instagram in 2014 and 2015.




Once a year she has a flash sale that my daughter Ashleigh flies out to Atlanta to help with every year.



Jessica took a chance on herself which has inspired us all.







Her work is inspired by fashion and her travels and anything else she sees that strikes a cord.



Her 5th Annual Flash Sale Begins at Midnight June 21st, 50% off all 8.5 x 11" prints. 
 
Jessicadurrant.com
Midnight tonight (June 21 for 24 hours) a coupon code can be found in her Etsy shop banner and on Facebook - This is not a sponsored post, I'm just a fan.

Friday, June 10, 2016

I'm A Baby Boomer...You're Welcome!

I have the best friends. They are smart, articulate, kind, giving and smart. Did I say smart twice? That's because it bears repeating.

I have very smart friends. And for the most part my tribe are all baby boomers, growing up during some of the most turbulent times in our country. But Baby boomers got up one day and decided things needed to be changed. So this generation, these baby boomers, made some changes.

Women burned bras and busted through glass ceilings.

Black people drank from any water fountain they wanted and Jim Crow laws disappeared.

"Crippled" gave way to "disability" and "wheelchair accessible" became part of our lives.

Lets hear it for seat belt laws that saves thousands of lives, and 60 is no longer professional death. Start a whole new life at 60 if you want.

Frozen dinners are better...peas are not nearly so fluorescent.

Electric rollers, blow dryers and curling irons all started to come onto the scene with Vidal Sassoon. I don't know why..but they did and we stopped seeing women shopping with curlers in their hair.

Smoking is way down since we sent the Marlboro man packing....and drunk driving, thanks in large part to MADD is a serious crime.

We were charged with saving the oceans, the whales and the rain forest. Since they are all still here we must have triumphed over that. I don't hear much about acid rain and the brown skies of Los Angeles are clearer. Folks stopped littering....in fact throw something out of your car window and watch your butt get a ticket.

Again, you're welcome.

And then we made other changes.....

Computers, cable TV and the internet!!

On the word of a president we went to the moon.

On our watch we have mobile phones, and polio, whooping cough, and small pox are things of the past, and cancer has a much higher rate of survival.

Voyager I was the first man made object to leave the solar system - the universe got a lot bigger after Voyager I.

Baby boomers have made some mistakes...but even with the wars we have had there has not been a world war III. 60 million people died in world war II and we have had the capability to destroy the whole world with nuclear weapons since 1945.....but we haven't.

You're welcome.

My parents were children of the depression, they lived lives of scarcity even when things got better. I don't save every bag as my mother did, or wash off the foil paper to use over again....but I appreciate the world they left me.  Baby Boomers started to gear their lives toward abundance and so many great things have happened. Our parents had to live through World War II but we watched the Berlin Wall come down without a whimper. Communism in the USSR disappeared and Hungary became Hungary again, Poland went back to being Poland...and on and on and on.

People who have changed our lives forever are baby boomers...Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steven Spielberg and the Beatles..not to mention the Beach Boys. Jerry Seinfeld, Stevie Nicks, George Clooney...Wolfgang Puck, Craig Venter, Steven King and of course, Oprah Winfrey. String theory came about as did the human genome project....Ben and Jerry, Gary Trudeau, Michael Jordon and Rush Limbaugh.

And Millennials? When we annoy you with requests for help with our computers, remember we gave you the Super Bowl, the mini skirt, and saved you from beehive hairdos and fins on cars.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Harambe the Gorilla

I join so many others who are saddened by the death of Harambe the Gorilla...what a beautiful animal he was! Having said that after reading several comments by folks about this tragic event I am amazed at the clairvoyance so many seem to have. Not only are some completely convinced they would never make a mistake like the mother of the 3 year old, they also seem to know the exact thought process of a gorilla. Over the years I have been told wild animals are just that....wild. Trying to domesticate or give them more human like qualities is often a foolish endeavor. There are a great many so-called experts who have tried to make pets of wild animals only to have some very tragic consequences occur. Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy comes to mind, or many others who have tempted fate with a wild animal.

At this point the zoo needs to make some big changes to their habitat.  And although I am very sad that Harambe is dead I am greatly relieved the little boy is safe.

This world is a place of a million mistakes, we all make them, even the folks who think they are not capable of mistakes.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Candied Nuts!!





Candied Nuts are something I need all the time but making them was the bane of my existence until I found the perfect recipe.

Past failures included...cooking them on the stove - I always burned some of them. Baking them...I never knew how long and they were not consistently good.

Then one day, there it was like an object from an Indiana Jones movie. The perfect recipe, and I am passing it along to you.



Candied nuts are fabulous in salads, or just to eat one after the other! I also substitute candied nuts in muffin or nut bread recipes. The candied aspect adds just a little extra something, and I am always looking for a little extra something.

Sooooo easy to make.

Use Walnuts or pecans -


Whip one egg white and 2 teaspoons of water in a bowl until frothy



Pour the nuts in and stir until all the nuts are covered....work fast! Grab a large plastic bag and pour a mixture of one a 1/2 cups of sugar with 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (you can add a tiny bit of cayenne pepper if you want, but a little goes a long way) in with all your nuts and shake it until everything is covered. Once the bag was broken so my whole floor was covered....
Now put them in a parchment covered cookie sheet - you will thank me later for zero clean up using the parchment paper, plus it makes it easy to break up the nuts. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour....turn them every 15 minutes.





Ta Dahhhhhh!!



They store well in the refrigerator.....but I don't keep them long because they are so good!!

follow us on Instagram @RayRaysCatering 

Facebook - RayRaysCateringAndFineFood

Website - RayRaysFineFood.com

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Gratitude

I have the best friends in the whole world. They come in all sizes, shapes, nationalities, religions, colors and opinions. What I love the most about my friends is how they inspire me and keep me going. The past couple of days have not been great, I had some terrible news to process about 2 children of 2 different families. One family here and another in Kentucky. Both children are critical and it has been heart breaking to watch these great families go through such difficult times.

What I forget is without difficult times we don't see miracles. And miracles are in place to remind us we aren't alone in this crazy life. The outpouring of love for both families has been wonderful and important and necessary. Number one rule - we cannot get through this life alone. A dear friend posted on Facebook the other day that her mother was in surgery and although she wasn't particularly religious she would appreciate good thoughts for her mother....from her friends. She just didn't want to be alone. And everyone responded! Some with prayers, some with wishes of good luck, some with stories of how their mom had the same surgery and was fine.  We don't have to be religious to be thoughtful, or kind....I appreciate it when friends of different faiths and beliefs tell me they are doing everything they can in their part of the "spiritual" world for me. That caring is everything to me.

My friend's 9 year old daughter had a severe Asthma attack and her brain was deprived of oxygen. She has been in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator since last Friday. Today the doctors slowly took away the medicine that was keeping her in the coma and found she didn't have any brain activity. It is one thing to beg and plead with God to keep your child here, it is quite another to accept the fact that may not occur. This is all the harder since they lost their 22 year old son just last year.



Life isn't fair. Tornadoes hit and little girls have asthma attacks, people are robbed, and floods occur and cancer strikes, its all part of earth life.

But guess what else is part of earth life? 

Wonderful people who drop everything to help. The meals that are brought in. The hugs that are given. The needs that are met without anyone asking. 



We have puppies, guacamole, and a song I love more than anything, especially now. This was my step-mothers favorite song, one of the few things we had in common. It brings a lot of peace...by the way peace is the only emotion that cannot be counterfeited. When you feel peace it is real....it is truth. 







So we will go through hard times, but we will go through them together. We will hold each other up and get through the day. Then we will rejoice when the skies turn blue again.

We will celebrate each others victories, the graduations, the babies, the perfect chocolate cake. We will laugh together more than we cry.....but somehow when we are sad, when we are afraid and alone, is when we need each other most.

Take those things from your life that keep you from seeing people as God sees them. Avoid mockery at all costs, work on your judgements of other people that make them smaller than they are. But more than anything else.....love....love with all your heart. Don't miss any opportunity to show love to someone else. We have no guarantees, our futures are completely unknown. All that matters is what you do right now. And if you see a need, and you can, fill it. If you have an opportunity to simply tell someone they look great....do it. If you can show a kindness....do it. Let someone get in front of you at the check out line, or on the freeway. buy someone in need a hamburger, clean out your closet and donate everything you aren't using, take someone flowers, write a thank you note to anyone who has impacted your life. Show love.....right now.

You only have right now.

Don't waste it.






Monday, April 25, 2016

Could Everything Be Rigged In Our Favor?

Imagine my surprise when a blog I wrote over a year ago popped up on my screen. There must be a logical reason for this sudden appearance, but I choose to believe the Universe is conspiring in my favor. There is a personal challenge I am about to start and this little written nudge made me laugh out loud. Usually my words come back to haunt me, today they came back to push me to achieve my goal. This blog was put together with the words and wisdom of others and it was good to read it again. If you are embarking on a new road today, maybe it will be just what you need. xoxo. Here it is....



A wonderful writer, speaker, philosopher and church leader Jeffrey Holland once wrote about the universal problem that hits all of us.  He said doubt, discouragement, and despair blocks our growth, dampens our spirits, diminishes our hope and leaves us vulnerable to other troubles.  His words from March of1980...
"I speak of doubt - especially self-doubt, of discouragement, and of despair.  In doing so I don't wish to suggest that there aren't plenty of things in the world to be troubled by.  In our lives, individually and collectively, there surely are serious threats to our happiness.  I watch an early morning news broadcast while I shave and then read a daily newspaper.  That is enough to ruin anyone's day and by then it is only 6:30 in the morning.  Iran, Afghanistan, inflation, energy, jogging, mass murders, kidnapping, unemployment, floods. With all of this waiting for us we are tempted, as W.C Fields once said, to "smile first thing in the morning and get it over with."

We come back to choice...choice of how we view everything.  

Here is a distinction F.Scott Fitzgerald once made, that "trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own" (The Crack-Up 1945)

As my friend Valerie continues to tell me, "Events are neutral" Hard to believe but so, so true.  We get to choose how we react, we really are the captain of our ships.

From his talk "For times of Trouble" Jeffrey Holland wrote of a story I love.  "Thomas Edison devoted ten years and all of his money to developing the nicks-alkaline storage battery at a time when he was almost penniless.  Through that period of time, his record and film production was supporting the storage battery effort.  Then one night the terrifying cry of fire echoed through the film plant.  Spontaneous combustion had ignited some chemicals.  Within moments all of the packing compounds, celluloid for records, film, and other flammable goods had gone up with a roar.  Fire companies from eight towns arrived, but the fire and heat were so intense and the water pressure so low that the fire hoses had no effect.  Edison was sixty-seven years old-no age to begin anew.  His son Charles was frantic, wondering if he were safe, if his spirits were broken, and how would he handle a crisis such as this at his age.  Charles saw his father running toward him.  He spoke first.

He said, "Where is your mother? Go get her. Tell her to get her friends.  They'll never see another fire like this as long as they live!"  

At 5:30 the next morning, with the fire barely under control, he called his employees together and announced, "We're rebuilding."  One man was told to lease all the machine shops in the area, another to obtain a wrecking crane from the Erie Railroad Company.  Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, "Oh by the way, anybody know where we can get some money?" (paraphrased from Charles Edison, "my most unforgettable character," Reader's Digest December 1961, pp. 175-77)
Virtually everything you now recognize as a Thomas Edison contribution to your life came after that disaster.  A disaster I think I would have not recovered from.



 



Remember, "Trouble has no necessary connection with discouragement-discouragement has a germ of its own."

Why didn't Thomas Edison quit?  What is it about some people that they never quit?  I believe William Shakespeare said it best (doesn't he always?) Remember, dear Brutus, "The fault....is not in our stars, but in ourselves"


I am reading this today with a new outlook of hope....










Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Reason for Menopause - The Grandmother Hypothesis (And this isn't just for Grandmothers)

Know me for longer than a minute and there is an awareness of my need to know "why?"
Some folks have said to me...

"Why do you care so much?"

"Sometimes there isn't a reason or an answer...often the sun just comes up."

"I don't know, please just go to sleep" ( A phrase repeated from my mother when I was 5 and my husband a couple of days ago.)

I won't accept the premise some queries are not answerable. If there is enough information for a question, there is enough information for an answer.

So imagine my profound joy to find a reason for menopause. On paper menopause appears quite useless, but here was a scientific hypothesis for menopause instead of the cruel joke/fraternity prank I thought it was. If I sound less than grateful for the extra weight, loss of memory and skin elasticity, and often just the will to live I enjoyed 10 years ago.....Oops.

I met a brilliant woman at a writers conference (Bloggers after Midlife) who presented on a panel about the positive side of aging. Afterward we spoke for a few minutes and I told her the conversations my friends an I have about the effects of aging. I shared our inadequacies and sometimes sadness at being older. She steered me to a blogpost called the Grandmother Hypothesis. This new friend Lynne Spreen had written an intriguing blog you must read and consider. In her blog post menopausal women are asked to understand how essential they are to the survival of our species. She writes women live a full one third of their lives after child bearing years. If they were here only to reproduce then life spans would only be 35-40 years.

Post-menopausal females bring such a survival advantage to the tribe or pod (protecting and helping the young mothers, finding food, and anticipating danger), that it is equivalent in value to the ability to reproduce.
  • Think about how you protect and help young mothers.
  • Finding food - teaching them to cook, shop, garden, sew, euphemistically finding food can be education, wisdom and patterning of any kind.
  • Anticipating danger - I don't care how liberated you are, walking home in the dark alone is stupid, putting your hand in a lion's mouth or poking a bear with a stick rarely has a positive outcome. Great safety tips...
  • Think about menopause as valuable as reproducing.
I hope SURVIVAL ADVANTAGE TO THE TRIBE wasn't lost on you.

Before you let your emotional sweater snag on whether or not you reproduced, take that off your worry list right now. My stepmother did not reproduce yet she raised and taught me almost everything on Lynne's list.  Not to mention all the endless friends I have that are not biological mothers. But they are all mothers of one kind or another. 

It is exciting to consider a reason for menopause, with a new found purpose to look Menopause square in the face and give her a big kiss....even though she can be a bitch.

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Best Weekend Ever!!

In my life I haven't attended a convention....ever. Not of painters, bankers, realtors, clowns or salesmen of any kind. I have never been to a convention. I have heard of them, I have walked past them...I have seen conventions represented on television and heard of unheard things done at conventions, but I have never been to one.

Until just this last weekend when I attended my first convention. But this wasn't just any convention, oh no my friend this was a convention of women who write and everything connected to that. A room filled with CEO's entrepreneurs and analytic experts, all networking and building their bands. There was tweeting and trending, Instagram and snapchat, not to mention periscope. Women with podcasts and book tours. And women who are asked to speak all over the country. It was called - BAM - Bloggers At Midlife.

And just like Ginger Rodgers, BAM goers do everything Fred Astaire does. Only backwards and in high heels. Because they are all doing it at midlife...and although they have a personal brand the group brand was fierce. This group of midlife women gathered together to inspire and remind each other that our best days are not behind us...but ahead of us. We looked menopause, wrinkles and extra weight right in the face and laughed. We dared them to stop us, because women of midlife have stories to tell, people to teach and nurture...we have lives to live! Most of us have raised our children, had a career or two and now it is time to find a way to feed the muse. The voice constantly whispering in our ears, you have a talent, use it, you have great ideas, teach them, you have great worth, show it must be heard.  It does the world harm not sharing our voices, ideas and talents. So what if you are 50, 60, 70 or a 100? - it doesn't matter. What matters is doing what this part of our life was set aside for. We do have challenges. Women of midlife are routinely characterized as Maxine, that ghastly women with the cigarette dangling from her lips, boobs flat as pancakes and hair from the underside of a wombat.





There isn't a instrument invented that can accurately measure my objection to this kind of stereotyping. I know no one like this, and I will not stop until this kind of message is killed.

If any woman from this conference had gotten a "subtle" message from the universe that they were too old to start a business, write a book, or speak around the country, they had a whole tribe of woman ready to ran over that message with a large truck of some kind.

Hey Universe! Did you hear that? I can figure out the computer, I don't smell old and I can start a business.

If my best days are ahead as I suspect they are, it is going to be amazing. Every woman I met understood there is plenty of work to go around and if one woman does well it only means we can all do well.

It was a convention void of competition, politics and small children (except in pictures!!) . For 2 days I didn't see anyone diet...or even worry about dieting. We had a disco party and danced the night away.  When "I will survive" was played we all listened with a different history because we have all survived and now its time to tell that story.







Sunday, April 10, 2016

In defense of Garlic

The other day a discussion broke out with someone about our pasta....I uses the term"our" loosely because although my husband is the cook, I find the bowl for the pasta and I always wash the bowl, So it's our pasta. The discussion went something like this...

"Do you put garlic in your pasta sauce?"

What?

The pause between her words and my reaction could have been timed with a calendar. Do I put garlic in our sauce? No words would come that could properly answer such an odd question. Of course I put garlic in my sauce, I put garlic on my Rice Krispies. Not putting garlic on my sauce would make it just tomato debris. Garlic is the mother herb, the elixir of life....its garlic.

Then she said, "We need to know because we don't like garlic."

You don't like garlic? Just how do you ward off vampires?

No garlic......while processing that I thought of  the people who look at me as though I am being punished because I don't drink.  There are those who wonder how, or why, I ever wake up in the morning since I don't drink coffee.  This is different, this is baseball without a hot dog. Thanksgiving without a turkey, Texas without chili.....Sauce without garlic?

So to  all of you sidestepping garlic, I say, roast it, sauté it, chop it, or  hang it from your ceiling.....but don't neglect the garlic.

Mangia!!!!!




Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sick??


I whine a lot, I get tired, my knee hurts, sometimes allergies bother me, but I don't really get sick. Then last Friday night occurred. I thought something was coming on, I assumed it was allergies.  Then everything started to hurt, even my my teeth! It turned out to be a sinus infection, a pretty bad one....but just a sinus infection. Inwardly, I panicked. I admit it. Before I found out what it was lots of things went through my head.

Like....

1.) If you could barely handle this what would you do if you really got sick?
2.) How much time have you spent thinking you still had plenty of time to do the things you really want to do?
3.) Does everyone know you love them?
4.) You never wrote the book, went to Rome, Paris or Israel, or took your children to Texas.....
5.) Your underwear drawer is embarrassing

Every once in a while life sends you a little note of concern. Are you living your life, or just going though the motions?

If I die with a messy underwear drawer it wouldn't be the worst thing....if I don't get back to Texas, write that book or walk around Rome I will still have lived a great life....but I think I want more.

You too?




Saturday, March 26, 2016

Women are the most powerful and influential people on Earth


I had the great good fortune of welcoming 23 women and an incredible teacher, Valerie Dimick, into my home for a full day of learning what she has gleaned throughout her practice, study and life.

The message is simple, women are the most powerful and influential people on earth. Then using scripture and the words of leaders she shared with us how to access that, because we certainly don't get that message from the world. The teachings of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the way I steer my ship.  Having said that, I don't expect friends or family to believe exactly the way I do, but this works for me. I respect everyones beliefs and I have found there can be common ground without diluting convictions. In fact others opinions and beliefs  strengthens mine because I find His teachings everywhere and His light in everyone. That knowledge gives me peace. Christians today certainly have their critics, and I have the added bonus of not even being accepted by other Christians because of the religion I belong to. But in order to be true to myself I follow what my North star points to, without the need to be right or have validation. Just Peace. Peace is the one emotion or feeling that cannot be counterfeited because it only comes from God. By whatever God you worship by whatever name - the feeling is the same.

Peace.....

One of the exercises at the seminar was to finally once and for all give up "mock humility". We have all been given gifts and talents...all of us. But when complimented on a talent or gift women notoriusly act small. We take compliments and store them away rarely looking at them or appreciating them. Valerie emphasizes being grateful for what compliments are, an acknowledgment of a gift from God. Marianne Williamson wrote my favorite quote. It is a long quote and can be found in its entirety in "Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "a Course in Miracles"  But for
brevity I am using only a bit of it. "There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as Children do....as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." Notice this part, we are all meant to shine. Think of a world where our gifts and talents are used to the fullest extent. Think about that....Now consider what keeps us from shining. What keeps us from sharing all of our gifts with the world.

Consider this.....

Fear.

Fear seemed to be all I knew. I lived a life of "what ifs". What if we don't get the job, what if we run out of money, what if we get sick, the list is endless and very negative. When I started learning from Valerie I had to deal with my fears first which were I'm not good enough and who do I think I am?
Most people allow one of these fears or both to run their lives. Another part of Marianne Williamson's quote is

"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

Think about that, "who are you not to be?"

I never believed I was "good enough". It was a message I received regularly from my parents, followed by the equally unsettling, "who do you think you are". I don't know where those messages started because I come from "better stuff" as my Uncle would remind me. My ancestors settled Texas in the 1800's never stopping to think if they were good enough or not. Why would they think about if they were good enough? Because if they weren't good enough they would die, it was survive or die. Where did that fearlessness get lost? When did my parents become so afraid that they thought by keeping me small they were protecting me? Maybe it was living through the depression and 3 different wars. My mother lost her father while he was trying to save their ranch during the depression. War was very real to them as they all lost family members in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. With that history is wasn't unreasonable for my parents to try and keep me safe by not wanting me to take chances. Not unreasonable but fear promoting. They didn't support my decision to go to college or the religion I chose. (who do you think you are?) They were happy I got married but did not support our decision to have more than 2 children. (too expensive) They loved our first very small home, but never approved of the home we chose to build. (too big, huge taxes, who do you think you are?). It was a constant message of living small as they passed their fears to me. We learn as children that our parents are never wrong and we spend our lives trying to please them. So no matter what opportunity would come my way I waved it off. When I had an opportunity to write a column for the Houston Chronicle on a trial bases I was over the moon. My parents reaction was, "how much money will they pay you?" If you know anything about writing you know the answer to that. I acquiesced to their disapproval went into my room and threw my purse through the window. I didn't write again for 20 years and I still have problems giving myself permission to write. I could have gone on living small, but life had a different plan for me. I married someone who enjoys leaping off cliffs. With only a few exceptions I reacted to our lives out of fear. Before we got married I went to look for apartments, I looked for sensible places at affordable prices. He hated every one of them and wouldn't stop looking until he found a place with style that wasn't warehouse living but within our budget. He did the same with our first house and then the house we built. I lived in fear and tried to convince him to aim lower, to live safer...he helped me have the faith I needed to live a bigger life. So universe, could I have married anyone better to help me see my fears? It has been painful as I was most comfortable picking the low hanging fruit. My fears would wake me up at night while ideas would wake him up. I was living small, always worried about what could go wrong. He lives by the principle the Lord is in charge, knows what we need and will provide. He works very hard and uses all of his talents, but he does it in a less worried way than I did. He knows he is enough, and all will be well. Valerie gave me the tools to overcome my fears, to get out of my comfort zone which kept me from being happy.  Change has not been easy. But when my feelings of fear got so bad, when it saturated my life so completely and I couldn't function I went after help. I read scriptures, I read stories of other fearful people, I pondered, I prayed, I fasted. And then I found help in therapy with Valerie. Now I replace the negative thoughts with positive ones as quickly as they come. I now know that God does not work in the negative....and I know it is not Him that sends trials to me like a mean and vengeful God...earth life does that but He is there to help guide me through it. I am good enough, I am enough, I am enough. And who do I think I am? I am a daughter of God...an offspring of deity....I can do anything with Him. It doesn't matter what I can do, it only matters what He can do. When I hear myself say things like, how am I going to fix this? I stop...fixing things is not my department. I now can wait with a less worried attitude because I know God will fix it, and I can depend on a God like solution rather than my very human solution. I now know that all events are neutral, money is neutral, trials are neutral....and I have a choice of how to deal with things. When difficult things occur, and they do, I have a choice of how to face it. Being negative, expecting the worst, is a choice as is being positive and expecting God's hand in everything. It is such a better way to live. Being positive and living in truth is a choice.


My life is different now because negative has a red flag attached. I know what negative thinking has done for me - it lies.  And I know what living a positive life is like now, it is truth. I recognize that power in my life, the power to choose truth and happiness and be the influential being I was intended to be.....this is better. Thanks Valerie

Remember it is a Plan of Happiness, right?

Valerie Dimick will be presenting another seminar April 23 at my home. For more information please contact ValerieDimick.com 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

How Does This Keep Happening?

If you have followed me on Facebook you have read about a continuous battle we have had with our dry cleaners. Until last December our relationship was very simple. We brought in a few shirts, a few skirts, a sweater here or there and they cleaned them. Then in December when I needed everyone to be on their game (we are caterers and December is our biggest month) they did a terrible job on the tablecloths I brought in. I usually wash and iron them myself (yuk) but I needed them for an event right away.  I picked them up and went right to the event.When we put them on the tables they were wrinkled, but I had to use them. Afterward I went back and asked them to ask them to redo them, they assured me they would. But when I brought them back they refused to do it because I had used them. I tried to reason with them but they were resolute....so I refused to go back. I didn't put terrible reviews on Yelp, I didn't print their address on Facebook and complain bitterly...I just didn't go back.

But my husband did go back because they are inexpensive and convenient. One week before my son's wedding he took all our favorite clothes in to be cleaned. They lost our entire order.  My beloved black blazer, my favorite brown skirt and my denim shirt that I use as a jacket and his favorite J.Crew Sweater that Mikey gave him for Chirstmas, his blue dress shirt with the pink lining on the sleeves (don't ask, it looks great) and a white shirt.Raymond stayed for an hour while they looked everywhere for them. The owner said he would reimburse us for the clothes so I went back that afternoon and after a bit of reluctance they paid us $360 for our clothes. Think of this, one week before the wedding and we have to try and replace our favorite clothes. It's not as easy as it sounds. Especially when we were getting ready for a wedding and there are so many other things to do.

Yesterday Raymond went to pick up his order at the dry cleaners and the owners wife tells him in the loudest most shrill manner, that they found our clothes and she insisted we have to give the money back.This is the same woman who refused to redo my tablecloths.....I thought for sure someone would have dropped a house on her by now, but no....she is still there alive and well, and still - charm free. Instead of calling and saying, "Great news we found your clothes..come on in and get them!" It was, "We found your clothes now give us our money back!"  Raymond just stared at her and said, "we used the money to replace our clothes - what you are asking is unreasonable." Because this woman is crazy I contacted our attorney to find out if there is anything we should do to protect ourselves. He told me if they sue we countersue for the tablecloths.....

Isn't that just nuts?






Wednesday, February 17, 2016

And the Yard Goes From Winter To Spring


In 3 weeks my son is having his wedding reception in the backyard so we are repairing the damage from winter. It will be much like last years celebration for my daughter's wedding.




 With winter just a few weeks behind us we have lots of work to be ready for March 5.  We do this every spring but now we are in "hyper repair". We have had some warm days and the grass is getting green, the fruit trees are budding but it still looks very desolate.

 




Above and to the left is the Lanai, It's where I propagate plants - my hobby. Most of the plants are "starts" from other plants. The Yucca in the picture to the left is all over the place. Several places in the house and outside. I just started this one, two 2 clean cuts and put it in the dirt - just that easy. This picture below is a sweet potato. I  put a sweet potato from the grocery in the pot. It grows from this beautiful plant to an even lovelier vine, for about 90 cents. Right now everything needs to be pruned, repotted and cleaned.






All of our Ficus trees spend the winter in the garage. They love the heat, die in the cold, so we put them in the garage in December and bring them back out around Valentine's Day. First thing is wash them down and fertilize. Ficus trees respond to food the same way I do...really well.




 I have to import color in hanging baskets and pots. These plants will only last until it gets hot, but for a couple of months they are great color. The bricks all have to be scrubbed down and that is a lot less fun than you might think.



The Roses have to be trimmed and fertilized by Cupids day...Easy to remember. The Climbing roses have to be trimmed and tucked in also. I love the wild look they get through the summer, but they start out trimmed back. And of course, they need their food too. Both of their flower beds are where we grow the herbs and I try to throw some seeds in there for now. But the sage is from last year and so is the lemon thyme. I usually have basil come back...The grape vines you see on the right won't start getting leaves for another month.









Empty flower beds, we haven't decided what to do with them yet. Below is our rock garden, which has lots of drought tolerant plants. In another week I will know how much winter damage there was.



 More propagating. This is a Charlie, one of my all time favorites, It is so easy to cut and put in water, wait for roots and then transplant. They look great alone or at the bottom of larger plants. I love to mix plants, but don't make the mistake like I did at first putting plants together that don't have the same watering needs, disaster!

I have had the incredible blessing of working with 2 horticulturists because of our wetlands. They always said when I asked if a plant would work, "I don't know, try it." So that's what I work from...just try it. It may not work the first time, but you learn something every time you try. We learn  far more from trial and error than anything else. My yard is not what most people would like, it is a wild eclectic mess of drought tolerant in the ground and experimental fussy plants in pots, but every plant has a story to tell.

I will keep you updated, just 3 weeks to go.