What I Know For Sure

What I Know For Sure

I just recently finished reading Oprah Winfrey’s book “What I Know For Sure” and was surprised by how many of her thoughts mirrored my own.

Now, I do not agree with Ms. Winfrey’s politics but Oprah has been a strong voice in my head for most of my life.

I watched Oprah when I was a young girl and she was on WGN News in Chicago. When she later became a talk show host on her own show I was a devoted follower.

I always enjoyed her show, her compassion for people and her celebration of people just for being who they were.

Oprah has a rare gift of asking the right questions and being brave enough to respectfully ask the tough questions of people, situations and of herself.

In her book, Oprah describes many things she has discovered over the years and things she has come to accept about herself and life in general.

The book resonated with me because as we get older most of us realize very clearly who we are, what we want from life and how we got to the point we are in.

Like Oprah I am grateful for this journey of my life and am looking forward to what is to come.

So what I know for sure…is how very lucky I have been to live in this country during this time surrounded by the people that have shaped my life.

A good book I would recommend to empty nesters and beyond.

Thank you Ms. Winfrey for your voice all these years!

Almost The New Year

Almost The New Year

The Christmas holidays have passed and the New Year is looming close.

It has been exactly one year since I began this blog and I started writing it for many reasons.

One reason is that I was looking for a creative outlet and I love to write.

Another was to share with other empty nesters that life does not end when the children become independent and move out–it is just a new phase of life.

But this blog has developed into more than that.

Along the way, these last twelve months I lightened my load and learned a few things myself.

I decluttered my life and home (although I’ve learned this is an ongoing process) of things I did not need, papers that were no longer useful and in a few instances people that were toxic.

I’ve lost weight, became a certified health coach and am living a healthier lifestyle with good foods, lots of water and exercise.

I gained more space in my house, my heart and my mind. I’ve gained more time and in many instances more peace.

I’ve gained-even more importantly-a great deal of perspective of what is truly important to me and my family.

2018 has been kind to me, but mostly because I have been kind to myself.

I am standing strong in my conviction that if something is not healthy for me-physically, emotionally or spiritually- then it doesn’t need to be in my life.

I am grateful for everyday of this year, even the difficult ones, and I am grateful for the people I share my life with–some close and some far–that have made this year so special.

In a few days we will raise a glass and toast the year that has passed and usher in a new one–

May 2019 bring us all more of the good, less of the bad and the strength and opportunity to continue our journeys.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

These are happy words meant to convey goodwill. All my life-50 years–and 50 Christmases it has been my greeting, or my parting words when leaving a store, a restaurant or someone’s home during the season.

No one has ever gotten offended by my well wishes.

Even when the schools, the 15 years I taught, changed the bulletin boards to read Happy Holidays and the calendar changed to read ‘winter break’ instead of ‘Christmas Break’ I continued on my “Merry” way.

I have been wished a Happy Hanukkuh and Happy Kwanza and I was thrilled to be included in the sentiment.

I have never subscribed to this political correctness in an effort to be ‘inclusive’ of everyone’s differences and avoid hurting people’s feelings.

It seems ridiculous that I would be trying to insult someone by wishing someone a Merry Christmas.

And when the thought police decided to ban the word Christmas–which I love and has so much meaning for me and countless others–they were not worried about offending me or hurting our feelings by ‘excluding’ us.

You see, no one can exclude you unless you allow yourself to feel excluded–and that is all up to how YOU look at it.

Don’t exclude yourself from someone else’s good wishes to you no matter how they may express it–because only you are the one that will miss out.

So when someone wishes me a Happy Holiday, I likewise do not feel offended, I smile and wish them a Merry Christmas back.

This is the season of goodwill and of good wishes and generosity of feelings. Enjoy the season in all its glory!

Because baby, it’s cold outside! Merry Christmas!

A Year In Review

A Year In Review

Now that we are in the second half of December I have taken some time to think about 2018.

The year seemed to go by so quickly–as we’ve all gone about our busy run around lives.

I am grateful for this year and the promise of another. Grateful for all of those around me-family and friends-that share our lives.

Some are close by while others are far away but still impact our lives and the people we are on a daily basis.

It is easier sometimes to reflect as we get older on our lives, on the impact many people have had on us and the impact we have on others.

Sometimes the people who impact us we’ve never met in person and sometimes there are people very close to our hearts.

The closing of this year is a time to celebrate our blessings and a time to also grieve for those who have left us physically but that will always be with us–in some fashion by the way they touched our lives.

Just the day before yesterday we lost Penny Marshall, actress and one of the first female directors. The beautiful Laverne from the Laverne and Shirley show.

We have lost other icons like Margot Kidder (Lois Lane), Charlotte Rae (Mrs. Garrett), Robin Leach (from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous), and Burt Reynolds (Smokey and the Bandit).

These characters lived with us through TV and molded our thoughts, our fantasies of our lives, and our sense of humor.

Others that impacted our lives and society are also gone–Billy Graham, Barbara Bush and months later her husband, George H.W. Bush. They leave us with their patriotism, their service and their great love of God and country.

Some that impacted me personally are Linda Brown-who was the center of the Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education that overturned the ‘separate but equal’ ruling that helped end segregation.

Aretha Franklin, who helped me come of age with songs like ‘Respect’ , ‘Think’, and a ‘Natural Woman’.

Stan Lee, who fed my imagination with his superheroes and Marvel comics, always in a fight between good and evil in which good wins out in the end.

There are closer hits to the heart. A few family friends that molded us in our early years and we have fond memories of. And an aunt that shared my blood and beautiful memories of family with me that I will never forget and always cherish.

We leave all these behind in the history of this year and we will forever carry them forward with us as we continue to travel through our time.

Most of all, as we close 2018, we should remember how every part of us came from a part of others who touched our lives and how we continue to touch the lives of others.

Be kind, be honest and be grateful in these last days of the year and carry the memories with you into the next.

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

While my favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life, and my husband is kind enough to watch it with me each year–it is NOT his favorite Christmas movie.

My husband’s favorite Christmas movie doesn’t have a romantic, spiritual or an especially moralistic message.

In fact, the first time I saw his favorite: A Christmas Story–I was surprised that this movie would be popular at all.

The entire plot revolves around a young boy who is dreaming of receiving a bb gun from Santa at Christmas as he goes through his daily life in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

I just didn’t think it was funny–or good.

The 2nd year I watched the movie (we actually watched it twice since there was A Christmas Story Marathon), I noticed different details in the movie and enjoyed hearing my husband laugh as he watched.

And now, years later, as we watch his favorite I find myself laughing and looking forward to the scenes of 9 year old Ralphie battling a school bully, a mean Santa at the mall and convincing his clueless parents to get him the ultimate Christmas gift.

I love seeing him dressed up in his pink bunny pajamas and dealing with his little baby brother…

And while this movie is not my favorite movie of all time at Christmas, it is part of my tradition because my husband enjoys it so much that it makes me enjoy it too!

Ultimately it reminds me the importance of the season: joy, family, laughter, togetherness, and the blessing of living this American life that allows us to celebrate and enjoy the holiday in any way we choose.

Enjoy your own Christmas Story!

Dear Santa

Dear Santa

When I was a little girl I wrote letters to Santa every year…even after I learned– in 4th grade–that Santa was not real.

He’s always been real to me. Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year and I never tire of the magic at this time of year!

When my children were growing up, I taught them to write letters to Santa too. And I even found a service that I could pay to send the girls a letter FROM Santa postmarked the North Pole.

The idea of Santa is so real to me that I don’t really know when the girls realized Santa was not real…as now, even as adults, I ask them to send me their Santa lists every year.

And so in keeping with my tradition here is my letter for this year:

Dear Santa,

I have been really good this year! And this has really been a good year for my family.

We are all healthy, we have all we need and never miss a meal. The family is strong and united and we are blessed with extended family and friends that are also doing well.

I really don’t want anything for Christmas in particular this year. I know that is a change from my usual lists of items…

But you see–I’ve already have all I want. Family, love, joy, and the magic of Christmas.

I hope all is well at the North Pole! I’ll leave the cookies and milk out for you.

P.S. Tell Donner he’s still my favorite!

19 days left until Christmas! Have you written your letter to Santa yet?

Deck The Halls

Deck The Halls

It has become our family tradition to put up the Christmas tree and the decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Since the birdies have left the nest, it was just me and the hubby doing the honors.

I have always liked an artificial tree and my husband prefers a real tree–and over the years we have had both, but I finally convinced him that an artificial tree is better for us because of our (read my) allergies and the mess of pine needles a real tree leaves behind.

So last year we bought one that even has the lights already on it!

While I was at it, I also bought all new ornaments in a country theme–and the results were spectacular.

To top it off my husband surprised me with a beautiful old fashioned country angel for the top!

So this year I was very excited to put it all up again!

We set up the tree and my 3 (count them! 3!) nativity sets and we were very pleased with the results.

A pleasant hush came over the house as even the doggies were impressed with the decorations!

It is really the simple things in life that makes all the difference in our hurry up run around life.

This time of year reminds me of the importance of family and traditions.

But it also reminds me how wonderful this American life is that we can have traditions about a tree and a barn that promises love, hope and charity to close out each year.