Monday, September 12, 2016

Treat Each Day as a Gift

Treat each day as a gift. I know this is the right way to live but I don't always live this way. I can easily become so consumed with everything I think I have to do.  Or I begin worrying about so many things. And many of those things I have no business worrying about.

As my mind becomes so cluttered, I miss out on the beauty all around me. There have been times when I'm driving to work so deep in thought I missed my exit off the freeway.

Lately I've been taking a different route, a more scenic one. I'm purposely trying to become more aware of my surroundings. The desert of Phoenix is actually quite beautiful.

I drive through the mountains and reach a point where I have a unique view of the valley below. I take notice of the clouds in the sky and the outline of mountain ranges in the distance.

I'm reminded of the Scripture from Matthew 6:34 (The Message).

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

I take a deep breath and say a prayer of thanksgiving to my Lord.

Thank you for the gift of today. Help me to not waste this day worrying about things and people I can't control. Help me to notice the child at school who needs a friend. Help me to be an encouragement to my co-workers. Help me to live a life of love since I know that Jesus loves me. Help me to treat this day as a gift.

How about you? Do you manage to get through your day attempting to accomplish all that's on your to-do list? Do you sometimes realize life is going by so fast that you're missing out on the beauty of the ordinary? Will you begin to think of each day as a gift?

Blessings and love,

Monday, September 5, 2016

What I Learned this Summer

As I move forward in my life, I've discovered that it's good to reflect on the previous season. I always want to be learning and growing no matter how old I am. After all, I'm a committed life long learner.

This was my first summer off work in a long time. And I had plans to rest, refresh and write. In the midst of this time, I had two trips out of town planned.

So here are a few of the lessons I learned.

1. I love and appreciate my iPhone. I have wonderful, kind and generous friends. I've been using a flip phone since the early 2000's. My friend Laurie gave me her old iPhone since she received a new one as a gift from her husband. And another good friend Theresa added me to her family plan. So my new phone is affordable! Best of all, I'm able to call my 87 year old dad in Florida twice a day;  in the morning and the evening. It used to cost me as I had very limited minutes. But now, there's no reason to not be able to keep in touch. I appreciate my friends who helped this happen.

2. I am learning to value and appreciate loved ones. My Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bob sent me a plane ticket to visit them for a few days this summer in southern California. It was a great way to start my summer vacation. My aunt is a fabulous cook and always makes some of my favorite Norwegian dishes. I also had the opportunity to get to know my cousins and their families better. My aunt shared old photos and memories with me. About a week after returning to Phoenix, I received a phone call telling me that my uncle was having a heart attack and was rushed to the Emergency Department. He subsequently underwent bypass surgery and is home and doing well. Praise the Lord! But this also taught me that we never know when things like this happen. So appreciate the time we have together in the now.

3. I still need to keep a routine and schedule during the summer. Yes, it was a more relaxed time and I could sleep in if I wanted. But I discovered that I didn't always do my exercise since I figured I had the whole day to do it. Often it never got done. I'd learned in the past that the way that works best for me is to commit to my morning schedule. After all, I lost 20 pounds in six months and I hoped to keep it off.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen and I gained back about 10 pounds. Lesson learned ...I hope.

4. I love cooler weather and walks on the beach. My good friends Terri and Steve invited me to visit them in Carmel, California. As I left triple digit heat, I felt so refreshed by fresh air and temperatures in the 50's during my stay. Every morning I'd walk for almost 90 minutes along the beach. Although I love Phoenix, I really dislike summers in Phoenix. It may be a dry heat but triple digits is HOT no matter what. So I love to feel the cool breeze in Carmel.

5. I love to learn about history. One of my favorite authors has been Robert Michener.  Historical fiction teaches me and at the same time is entertaining. However, my aunt introduced me to a few of Bill O'Reilly's books. I was a bit hesitant at first but after reading Killing Kennedy, I continued on with Killing Reagan. I enjoyed both and learned much. During my stay in southern California, my aunt and I visited the Reagan Library.

I put together a short video of some of my favorite scenes from this summer. I hope you enjoy.


I encourage you to make the choice to take time to reflect on the seasons of your life. What lessons have you learned?

Blessings and love,

Sunday, July 24, 2016

How Do You Live in the Moment?

Live in the moment. It seems I hear that a lot lately. But how do you live in the moment?

I just returned from the most refreshing peaceful vacation in Carmel, California. I got on an airplane at Sky Harbor Airport leaving Phoenix with triple digit heat. After flying 90 minutes I arrived at Monterrey airport where my friends picked me up. We drove through Pebble Beach to arrive at our final destination; Carmel-by-the-Sea. And best of all; the temperature was 53 degrees! That's half of what it's been in Phoenix and was I ever ready for it.

I really wanted to experience some down time and be still to inspire me to write. My friends are the most gracious, kind and generous hosts. They rented a cottage that was perfectly located within a few minutes walk to town and close enough to the beach.

Every morning Terri and I would walk for about 90 minutes at a fast pace along the beach front. My friend continued even further but I stopped to soak in the scenery. There were benches along the path and I stopped to sit and listen to the sounds of the ocean watching as the waves crashed to the shore. I love the smell of seaweed and salt water. The colder air was invigorating. I took time to breathe deeply. I couldn't help but praise the Lord for the beauty of His creation.

Although I'm not Catholic, I accompanied my friends to their Sunday service at the Carmelite Monastery.  The priest's message was about paying attention. He held up his iPhone and cautioned how hard it is to listen wholeheartedly when we're distracted. He thanked us in advance for giving him our attention for the next 10 minutes.

His text was from Luke 10:38-42; the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was complaining to Jesus about her sister who was not helping her with the preparations. Instead Mary made the choice to sit at the feet of Jesus to listen to Him. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was better.

I think of myself. I call long distance to keep in touch with my family. Sometimes I am checking Facebook or email while talking on the phone. Multi-tasking is something I find easy to do. Or is it? When I make the choice to simply focus on the conversation with my dad or sister or brother, those are the times when we communicate best. It's when I pay attention and refuse to be distracted.

My friends have a Scottie named Andy. He is so friendly and lovable. We stopped at The Lodge at Pebble Beach and walked near the 18th hole of their golf course. Many people were sitting and enjoying the view. A little baby was fascinated with Andy. She was just learning to walk and she giggled and giggled. It was a joy to watch her lost in the moment; no distractions.

I loved the moments during this trip. But I want to continue to live in the moment even when I return home. Paying attention to the little things. Focusing on the conversation. Stopping to breathe deeply. Putting down the cell phone and taking time to be quiet and still.

So how about you? How do you try to live in the moment?

I know it takes effort. It's all too easy for me to get distracted and stop paying attention. It takes practice to be in the moment. But I for one don't want to miss out on the important.

Blessings and love,

Am I a kid or what?

Am I a kid or what?

I love this place...Carmel, CA

I love this place...Carmel, CA