Choosing To Be Happy

July 28, 2014

old-wringer-washing-machineSometimes we have knowledge about something we believe to be true, but it fades into the background noise within our minds. The truth is there, somewhere in our mind, but it’s been shoved beneath all the busyness of today. It just sits there, seemingly not doing us any good. Then we have an epiphany. That old truth blasts its way to the forefront of our mind, with a far deeper understanding than we ever knew. It’s then that we really know it, deep down in our heart.

I recently had such an epiphany. I was just sitting, meditating, not thinking about anything in particular, when the words simply flashed across my mind, “I choose to be happy.” It was so profound, I spoke it out loud. I’ve learned that if your subconscious mind hears you speak something out loud, it believes your spoken word more than if you heard someone else say it, or if you read it silently in a book, or just thought it.

“I CHOOSE to be happy,” resonated in my heart. I suddenly thought about everything I have right now to be thankful for, and how that’s plenty to be happy about. It seemed so silly to think about all the worrisome thoughts I had been thinking about my future. The only living we can do is right now, so why on earth do our minds want to try to live in the distant future? Because we can’t live in the tomorrow, we become anxious about something that hasn’t even happened. We can work ourselves into a terrible state of depression if we keep worrying about the future—something we can do nothing about right now.

Funny thing is, when I choose to think about the things I’m currently blessed with, and let those thankful thoughts permeate my heart, I actually am doing something to shape my future. I’m sowing seeds of thankfulness and happiness for my future.

Think about it. If we’re anxious and worried throughout our days, how can any good come of it? “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Anxious thoughts only plant seeds for more anxiety in the future. If I’m thankful and happy now, I’m planting seeds for more thankfulness, happiness, and peace in the future.

So good-bye, worries, and hello, happiness! I can choose to be happy right now, and I’ll continue to remind myself of this out loud, “I choose to be happy!”

It may help to write down all the things we have to be thankful for, to serve as a reminder when our thoughts slip into the worry groove. Yes, there are actually pathways our thoughts flow through in the brain. It can be more challenging to form new pathways of thought, than to allow our thoughts to effortlessly travel the old path of least resistance. But as we continue to put forth the effort to form new thought pathways, the old ones become weak and atrophy. Having a thankful list we can continue to add to is a helpful aid in changing our thinking.

Heck, sometimes I’ll load my washer, add detergent and push the button, and think about my grandmother’s old wash tub and wringer. I’m suddenly so thankful for my washing machine!

We truly do have much to be thankful for right now, and that’s plenty to choose to be happy about!

So …

October 6, 2013

monkey with coconutSo … (I just learned that “so” is a good substitute for “uh”or “um,” to help you sound a little more intelligent.)

So … My daughter is on the World Race, serving as a Christian missionary in 11 countries … in 11 months.  She’s on a team of 7 twenty-somethings, in a squad of 45 mostly twenty-somethings.  I’m proud as heck of her, but the mother instincts are kicking in.

“So,” I say to her, “I read on your blog that your team fasted and made a kajillion peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hand out to people … in … I don’t know, wherever you are in Nicaragua.”

“Yeah!” she exclaims as only a twenty-something can.

“So … do you want the word to get out that there are some rich American kids in town handing out freebies?”

“Oh, we’re not there anymore.”

“So … where are you staying?  Not in another tree fort with monkeys, I hope?”

“No, we’re at a hostel.”

“So … are you eating well?”

“Well, we didn’t have any food when we were in the tree fort, so … we were hungry.”

“Weren’t there any coconuts?”

“We didn’t think of that.”

“All you have to do is watch the monkeys.  They aren’t hungry.”

“Yeah …”

The Skype screen goes dead.  A few attempts to reconnect, then we go to audio on Viber.

“So,” I say, “I’m concerned for your safety, dear.  Are you in dangerous parts of the country?”

“No, we don’t go into any dangerous places.”

“Are you sure?”

“Mom, I’m being sarcastic.”

“Oh, that’s comforting.”

“So … I need to go. We’re going out exploring.”

“At this hour of the night?”

“Yeah, gotta go.”

“I love you, Sweetie.”

“Love you, too.”

The Viber call blips off.  Lord, set your angel round about them.

So … now I’ve got to figure out how I’m going to get some sleep.  Somehow, I’ll manage.  I was once a twenty-something missionary myself.  Now I know how I drove my mother to her knees in prayer.

So … all is well.

Please Forgive Me!

August 20, 2013

ImageSometimes we just have to eat humble pie.  I upset my son on the phone tonight, and needed to ask forgiveness.  I’m sure he’ll grant it, because he’s pretty cool about that.  I groveled in an email … the wisdom of which remains to be seen.  :-/  It went like this …

Hi, David 

Please forgive me for “talking to you like an employee.”  I was in a bit of a quandary, and perhaps reverted to old habits.  The chicken stock I was making (from local free-range chicken heads, feet, hearts, kidneys, etc.) boiled over on the stove, baking onto the red, electric coils, creating a billow of smoke, which quickly spread throughout the house.  Two smoke alarms went off, and then the ADT fire alarm went off, shouting, “Fire! Fire!”  Then the ADT 800 number started ringing on my phone.  At that point, I had to stop trying to dig myself out of a hole with you (or taking my foot out of my mouth), and said, “Goodbye.” 
 
I spoke with the ADT lady, assuring her there was no fire, and no, she didn’t need to call back in a while to make sure the smoke had cleared, and no, I wouldn’t need her to show me how to put the alarm on hold for 30 minutes while the smoke (which wasn’t there) cleared.
 
I hung up, quite impressed with ADT’s response, albeit unimpressed with the way I handled our conversation.  Will you forgive me?
 
Love you,
Mom

Zumba Girl

April 14, 2013

Amanda Golden, Zumba Instructor & R.N., and Me

“You need to do something fun for exercise,” my doctor said, as she sat squarely across from me.

“But I don’t know what ‘fun’ is,” I said.

“How ‘bout you try Zumba?”

Thus began my entrance into the world of Zumba. 

I walked into the gym, and started chatting with someone nearby.

“Is this going to kill me?” I asked.

“I just focus on the feet,” she said. “Don’t worry about the arms.”

Good advice, I thought.

Amanda, the teacher and coach, exuberantly marched up to the stage platform.

“I just had some surgery on my arm, and don’t have full movement yet,” she said, “so just follow along, even if I can’t do everything.”

Holy cow … she just had surgery, and she’s doing ZUMBA?

The music started pounding, and I stepped, arms flailing, trying to see what the heck she was doing, so I could follow along.

Dang, I need to come early, so I can get a spot up front … and see what the heck she’s doing!

That was a few months ago, and now … I’m a Zumba girl!  No, I don’t get all the moves perfectly, and some of them I flat-out can’t do – because my brain hasn’t figured them out yet – but it’s so much FUN!  I even recruited my friend, Chandra, and now we’re both die-hard Zumba girls!

A couple nights ago, we arrived on time, unaware of the class’ apparent decision to do toning … with weights!  Chandra and I didn’t have the Zumba “sticks,” but we had fun anyway!  People were whooping and hollering … what a workout!  What a rush!

Next workout, I still didn’t have my sticks, so I grabbed some weights and jumped right in.  Whoooh!  What fun!

The music Amanda chooses, and the energy she brings to the stage and class is absolutely amazing.

Can anything be more fun?

The body fat’s dropping, the muscles are growing, and my energy level is astounding. 

Yes, Doctor, I now know what “fun” is!  I found it on a Zumba wave with Amanda … and there’s no turning back now!

Big Kids, Little Kids And Kickball

April 4, 2013

kickball          “Can I play?  Please, can I play, just this once?”  My eight-year-old pleas went unnoticed on the sun-baked road sprinkled with kids choosing teams for a game of kickball.

Finally, my big brother, Steve, looked in my whining direction.  “You know the rule.  You have to be ten!  Now get off the road!”

Dejected, I trudged over to the stone wall behind first base, topped with a fringe of dangling feet—all the spectators who knew the sad misfortune of being under ten.

Hunt Avenue was always vibrantly alive with the business of active little minds collectively pursuing their highest aim—to have fun!  One of the activities highest on the list was the great game of kickball.

An entire generation of Hunt Avenue kids knew the playing field well.  Home plate was the manhole in front of the Higgins’ house.

First base was a big, green mail receptacle box up against the ivy-covered stone wall in front of the Walker’s house, where the mailman picked up his mail every afternoon.  We didn’t use the politically correct term “mail carrier” back then, nor did the mailman drive a truck up to everyone’s mailbox out by the street.  He garnished a white canvas bag with a strap over his shoulder and across his chest, with “U.S. Mail” stenciled on it in large, black letters.  He filled his bag from the large mail box, and then proceeded to walk his route.  He carried the mail up to each person’s front porch, dodging dogs all the way, and deposited envelopes in their mailboxes by the front door.

So the U.S. Postal Service provided us with a nice sturdy, immovable first base.

Alas, we had no such neatly provided landmark for second base, so someone painted it in the middle of the road, right where it should be in the diamond formation of our playing field.  I don’t know who painted it, or if anyone ever repainted it to keep it fresh—I just remember it always … just being there.

The Higgins provided third base.  It was a rather large rock in front of their house out by the street, about 1½ foot diameter, and always neatly painted with bright white paint and the large black numbers “116,” indicating their house number.  Located directly across the street from the mailbox, it made a perfect third base.

It just occurred to me that some young readers might not be familiar with the game of kickball.  It’s very much like the rules of baseball, only the ball is about the size of a soccer ball, but softer, and covered with swirls of soft colors.  Instead of throwing the ball to whoever is “up,” the pitcher stands in the middle of the field and rolls the ball toward the kicker at home plate.  Just about all the other rules of baseball apply.

The problem with playing kickball on our street, though, was that there were too many kids!  The big kids wanted to have a good game, without moaning and groaning over the slower and less adroit little kids.  And of course the little kids were always squealing, “Can I play? Can I play?”

So the big kids got together and laid down some rules—well, just one, really:

 In order to play kickball with the big kids,

you have to be at least ten years old.

           Thus, the age of ten became a coveted age for all the little kids.  Not many families could afford large birthday parties, and they were mostly celebrated within each family with simply a birthday cake for dessert after the supper meal, minus all the presents.  But a tenth birthday was really special, for it marked a rite of passage into the realm of “the big kids.”  And surprisingly enough, all the big kids cordially welcomed the new ten-year-old into the great game—without any fussing or complaining, for it was “the rule.”  When you turned ten, you could play kickball!

Disney Fun?

May 1, 2012

“Dang, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a vacation,” I tell my friend.  “I haven’t been to Disney World since the kids were little. Want to go?”

“Sure!” she says.

We hop into the Corvette and head to Orlando.

Now, my friend is young enough to be my daughter, and loves thrill rides … something I usually shy away from.

But what the heck … it’s time to overcome some fears … like heights, being whirled upside down and around and up and down … oh my!

First day, first park … Hollywood Studios. Sinus infection be damned, I was bound and determined to challenge my fears.

And that I did.  The Tower of Terror, I discovered, is aptly named! I screamed and kept grabbing for something to hold onto. At the end of the ride, the guy next to me asked, “Are you all right?”

“Yeah!” I shout, adrenaline pumping. (I think I was grabbing him in the free-falls. It’s all a blur.)

Next up, the Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

Holy shamoley, it was terror multiplied. I kept my eyes closed the entire time … screaming … wondering … is it over yet?

Why do people call this fun?

The next day, we entered Animal Kingdom.  First stop, Expedition Everest. I took one look at the huge mountain and roller coaster and said, “No way.”

My friend went alone, while I happily waited below, very content with my decision.

After she got off, she told me about a guy in line in front of her, with his little son.

“But I don’t want to go!” he screamed.

“Ssshhhh, you’re going anyway!”

Poor little kid. I hope he wasn’t too traumatized.

Some of us love the thrills of high flying.

But some of us can just do without … loving to seek thrills at high speed while hugging the ground.

I’m with the latter.

April 6, 2012

Originally posted on Truthing It:

My eggs

“Who wants to color Easter eggs?”

I ask this every year right before Easter, and seldom get any takers.  But Friday night our daughter’s boyfriend was over when I made my yearly plea.

“I LOVE to color Easter eggs,” he said.

Score…my kind of guy!

So we set everything up and went to task.  I got to once again relive a childhood tradition, passed down from my father’s parents, who arrived at Ellis Island from Poland in the early 1900’s.

Our daughter's boyfriend's first attempt!

My father always meticulously oversaw the annual Easter tradition at our house.  We didn’t just put a few crayon markings on the hard-boiled eggs and dunk them in food coloring.  Mom would save up empty soup and tuna cans for weeks.  A few evenings before Easter my mother, father, nine brothers and I would gather to delicately inscribe our artistic masterpieces on a few dozen boiled-egg canvases.  Mom…

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Grandma’s Revenge

March 25, 2012

Bomb Boy.  That was my middle child’s nickname.  If it had anything to do with fire, electrical sparks, explosions – you name it – he was all over it.  Come to think of it, both of my boys were like that.

I remember well a phone call from my oldest son while I was away at a conference in Phoenix.

“Mom, the good news is that we cleaned it all up.”

“OK, so what’s the bad news?”

“Well, we were trying to make our own snap ‘n pops …”

“Snap ‘n pops?”

“Yeah, the kind you throw down on the ground and they spark and pop.”

“OK …”

“We had to use iodine as one of the ingredients …”

“Oh no …”

“Well, it kind of exploded in your bathroom.”

My bathroom?!  Why couldn’t you do it in your bathroom?  Why did you do it in mine?!”

“I don’t know.  That’s just where we were.”

Long story short, we had to repaint the bathroom.

And then there was my brainstorm to get them a root beer making kit for Christmas.

Again, I was at a conference in Phoenix, when I got the call.

“Mom, we cleaned most of it up.”

“OK, what happened now?”

“Well, the root beer kind of exploded.”

“Where?”

“On the ceiling in the kitchen.”

That was many years ago, and I can still see the spots on the kitchen ceiling.  Ah, the lovely mementos our children leave behind.

Explosions aside, they were also ingenious with pranks and attempts to not get caught.  Like the time they rigged the bedroom doorknob to the light switch with a string.  I’d hear them horsing around past bedtime, but whenever I opened the door, the room was pitch black darkness.

The prank which topped all, though, was masterminded when we asked a friend to stay with the kids while we spent a week in Maine.  We left our four-door Mitsubishi sedan for her to drive the kids around to their various activities.

So one day while she was driving them around, they pulled down the seat back section which opened to the trunk.  One by one, they all climbed into the trunk, and then pulled the seat back section up to normal position.

So here’s our friend driving along … and she glances to the back seat to check on the kids … but no kids!  She freaked.

When we returned home, her entire report for the week was about that little drive.  She would never babysit for us again.  Never.

I thought it was pretty funny … how clever the kids were.  But yes, I also understood how it could have induced a heart attack.

Poor, dear friend.

Funny one, kids!

I can’t wait to see what their kids pull on them!

When You Must Do The Seemingly Impossible

February 19, 2012

My Black Friday Special arrived by UPS, signed delivery.

I can’t deal with this now.

I tucked it away … in a back room.  Rationalizations ran wild.

I just moved, and need to unpack … and Christmas is coming, for crying out loud.

It sat in the corner … silent … unmoving … unrelenting … taunting me …

You know you have to set me up.

I couldn’t deal with it … and I couldn’t find anyone else to deal with it … until my maintenance man said he’d give it a try.

Whew!  I’m off the hook!

We hauled the silent monster from its dark corner and set it in the middle of the living room … surround sound system with compatible Blu-ray player – “Easy Setup!”

Yeah, right.

In my purchasing decision, reviews said I’d need better speaker wire than what came with my system.  (Of course, I didn’t know at the time that wireless speakers even existed!)  At a garage-sale serendipity soon thereafter, I was given over 200 feet of very good 4-wire speaker cable.

My maintenance man climbed to the attic with confidence, superior cable in tow.  I pretended to be busy in the kitchen … while the silent monster taunted me from the living room.  The cable was strung through the walls, and the holes were drilled.

No turning back now.

The time came to turn on the monster, and I held my breath.

Funny how the maintenance man didn’t pay much attention to the instruction manual.

It worked!  … for a minute, then cut off.  No matter what we tried, same scenario – a few seconds of audio bliss, then click … silence.

The monster is still taunting me with his silence.

I called the company I ordered it from, and received return instructions.

The new monster arrived promptly … and I tucked it away in a back hallway.  I searched for someone to take away my pain – by installing it for me – but to no avail.

So today I rose to the challenge.

This silently screaming beast isn’t going to beat me.  I can do this, by golly.  There’s a quick-start chart … and an entire instruction manual, for crying out loud.  If others can do it, then so can I!

I hauled the dreaded monster from the back hallway and unpacked it in the middle of the living room.  I read the manual … and read it again.

Something’s wrong about how this speaker wire was set up.

I called the guy who gave it to me.

“Hey, Ron!  Remember me?  I’ve got a quick question about this speaker wire.  Am I supposed to use all four wires?”

“No way!  Did he run all four wires through your attic?”

“Yep.”

“Dang, he should’ve split it in half.  What a waste of good speaker wire!”

“So I should just use two wires?”

“Yeah … just make sure you use the same two colors for everything.”

I hung up with new-found confidence.  An hour or so later, with a lot more reading of the manual, mumbled muttering, untwisting and plugging in wires, the moment of truth arrived.

Time to turn the power on.  Hold on to your butt!

To my complete and utter amazement … it worked!  I conquered the beast!  Pounding rock with throbbing bass pulsated throughout my living room.  I danced wildly.  I put in a Blu-ray disc, and stood motionless while the movie encompassed me.

This is freakin’ awesome!

I feared the beast … but tackled him anyway … and won.

Any other tales of doing the seemingly impossible out there?

Cell-Phone-Induced Stupidity

January 21, 2012

While driving through the neighborhood a couple days ago, my eye caught a pretty young lady walking her dog. She was on her cell phone, oblivious to her surroundings, while her dog sniffed and prepped around a mailbox with a prominent sign which read, “NO DOG WALK.”

Priceless.

Dang, if I only got a photo!

What is it about cell phones that makes us lose our minds?

I remember when Bluetooth ear pieces first came out.  I was minding my own business one day, shopping in a clothing store, when I spied a lady with long hair talking out loud to nobody there.  My mind drifted back to years ago when I saw many who walked the streets of New York City doing the same thing.  But that was before Bluetooth.

Is she nuts? Oh … she’s talking to someone on her cell phone!

I must admit, I am guilty of the brain cell loss caused by cell phones.

“Oh, no!  I just missed my turn!  Gotta go!”

I reel around in a U-turn, with fellow road warriors muttering, “Crazy lady!”

Yes, cell-phone-induced stupidity.

Any other cell phone stupidity admissions out there?


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