For the Love of Peace

For the Love of Peace

If I have learned anything in these first 50 years of my life is that you cannot have peace when you are at war–war with ourselves or war with others.

My dad’s favorite thing on his Christmas list each year when I was growing up–and well into my adulthood–was Peace.

We’d say: “What do you want for Christmas dad?”

And he would always say “Peace”.

It took me a long time to understand what he meant–but I did get it about 10 years ago. And from the moment I finally figured out what my dad meant, I wanted the same thing.

Our world today is filled with strife, anger and hatred.

There is no peace globally or politically or even among religious groups that you would think would be all about peace.

Yet there are people, families and community units that are peaceful. And peace is achievable.

Let me tell you how to achieve some peace in your life but first, let me define what I see as peace.

Peace means that you separate yourself (and your family) from negativity, chaos, worry, and deception.

That doesn’t mean these things are not all around us–but that you do not allow them to effect you.

Here’s how:

  1. Wake up each day and embrace the opportunities the day has for you. Be positive. If today is a difficult day, know that your contribution to the world is felt through the ripple effects you leave in your wake. Smile at someone today, thank someone today, go out of your way for someone else–it does have an impact.
    Remove toxic people from your life. I’ve written about this before because I believe it is so important. You do not have to associate with people who are toxic to you. Wish them well, block their phone number, remove them from your Social Media and stop, when possible, from spending unnecessary time with them.
  1. Mind your own business. Take care of yourself and those closest to you. Avoid getting involved in petty arguments or hard feelings with people that don’t matter in your life. Those people are “peace busters”. Don’t stir the pot, as my dad would say, it only brings the stink out of what is in the pot.
  1. Live with integrity and honesty. Do your job, pay your bills on time, be truthful and honest in your dealings with others, take care of your responsibilities. These things will keep a positive and protective aura around you.

Peace is achievable. Peace lets you sleep well at night, keeps you safe from harm in an uncertain world and can spread to those you love.

The choice is ours to make, peace is always there but each person must want it badly enough to turn away from the chaos.

For the love of peace–give yourself and those you love this gift. Thanks dad!

El Dia de los Muertos

El Dia de los Muertos

This week we will celebrate not only Halloween but a very significant and cultural holiday for Hispanics-the day of the dead.

It is culturally not a celebration of ghosts and goblins but a celebration of the lives of our loved ones that are no longer with us.

There has been some comments I’ve heard lately that Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos are un-Christian and further inspired by the devil himself!

It never ceases to surprise me how people who know nothing about a subject will have the strongest opinions about it. So let me tell you a little about how I understand El Dia de los Muertos.

Although this is not part of my cultural heritage it is part of my husband’s and many friends’ culture–and over the years, one that I have come to respect and enjoy.

The idea behind it is that we are provided a day in which we can remember and celebrate those that came before us–our parents, grandparents, children–that were once our family and have passed away.

Altars are created with their pictures, their favorite foods, and candles to light their way as they visit us here on earth.

Sugar skulls representing the souls of our dearly departed are also placed on the alters-which are called ofrendas- and hand decorated.

Believing that those that have gone before us visit us on this particular day feels to me to be extremely Christian.

It means–and as closely as we can almost, prove–that there is a heaven. That our loved ones are at peace and watching over us and that they have the ability to visit us here on earth.

It feels good to me to know that I can still communicate with my abuela, and my grandfather and my aunt and uncle who impacted me so much in life–and that they can communicate with me.

El Dia de los Muertos is a day each year when we have the opportunity to connect–with the past, with the future and with ourselves.

Enjoy the journey.

Change of Weather

Change of Weather

In the last 48 hours, in Texas, we have gone from the high 80’s in our “autumn” to a cold and rainy 54 degrees.  This is a major change of weather from one day to the next and it is very refreshing.   It reminds me that nothing ever stays constant.  There is always change in the air.

We can learn a great deal from mother nature if we understand that there is a season for everything–but when it is time for the season to change–we should embrace the cold front.

What am I talking about, you might think?  Well I am talking about a change in our thinking.  Sometimes we are just locked into one way of thinking and events in our lives seem to be spiraling out of control and causing harm or pain to ourselves or others.

Why does this happen? Because we are unwilling to change.  We are unwilling to see a different outcome or a different path.  We are unable to see the good side of bad situations, negative people and events that did not unfold the way we expected it to unfold.

There are many movements that have become popular now to learn how to change, to learn to think and act positively, to believe in a higher power that can lead us to the answers we are seeking.

What do all these things have in common?  Positive thinking.  It is a change of weather for many people.

I am a true believer of positive thinking, of finding the silver living in every storm, of learning from our mistakes and of putting our faith in a higher power that can help us find the miracle.

Being a believer does not make it easier–but it opens the doors to what is possible. And once we accept what is possible, opportunities will open up for us where we once thought that no path was available.

It is an amazing shift–if you allow the winds of change to bring the fresh air in!

I have seen it work powerfully in my life time and time again.  We find ourselves in a situation that we are unsure how we are going to handle and we start to panic, or we think we will just never make it through this hurdle.

But if you just stop–look at the situation honestly–and accept that there is an opportunity to change, good things can happen. Think about the outcome you would like to occur,  visualize what the situation can look like, how you intend to get over the hurdle, and the steps that will help you fix or turn around the challenge.

Then keep a positive attitude, accept the lesson the situation is teaching you and give it to God or a higher power.

Everytime, without fail, there will be a change of weather, and a way will be found where you thought there was no way.  The things and people you need will appear just when you need them and a new season will begin.

Enjoy the cooler weather–and see it as the positive change that it is–a time for renewal and an opportunity for a new way forward.

Being The Real You

Being The Real You

Life can sometimes be hard. And without thinking about it we sometimes make life harder for ourselves.

Being 50 gives you (ie. read me) a lot of perspective.

We cannot deny our personality but many times that is exactly what we do in order to impress other people, to not rock the boat, to go along to get along or to keep others from hurting us.

However, when we deny our personality and our true selves in order to protect ourselves what often happens is it backfires and we complicate our lives.

It does us no good to deny our true needs and wants because in the end we will be frustrated, angry or full of regrets.

Also, we usually get to a point in our lives–for me it was 50–when we no longer want to settle to please others or to keep wasting time in endeavors that are not making us happy.

Life can sometimes be hard but it can also be wonderful if you find a way to be the real you as you navigate the rough parts.

Here is what I have been doing to be the real me:

  • I choose to be honest, with others but mostly with myself.
  • I choose to spend time doing things that I find enjoyable and fulfilling.
  • I choose not to apologize for my feelings and opinions.
  • I choose not to worry about what other people think.

I know, it sounds easy…but it is actually hard. But oh so worth it! So enjoy being the real you–its the only you there really is!

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities

In my last post, I shared with you how much I am enjoying using my calendar to schedule the events and tasks that are important to my life, my goals and my priorities.

I’ve received a few questions since then about how to set your priorities and how I know if they are the right ones!  Wow! Huge questions and tough ones, but I decided to tackle them.

Setting priorities can be a very difficult task–depending on what your priorities are and if they match your values and your goals.

So first you really need to decide what you really want in your life.  Do you want a job, career or calling that you are excited to get up for each morning? Or just a means to make some money to obtain the OTHER things you really want in your life?

Do you want the romantic relationship of your dreams? Do you want to travel more or have more interesting experiences? Or do you want just more TIME to do all of these things?

You see, as we get older–the things we want change and that will change our goals and the methods we use to reach them.  This happens–not because we are getting older–but because we continue to grow as long as we are still breathing!

As we grow, we have to keep examining what it is we want so we can shift–you got it–our PRIORITIES!

How do you set your priorities? The right priorities for each person will be different depending on what they value.  

If you value family, like I do, then your tasks and the events you choose to attend will revolve around family–because that is what makes you happy and so you have internalized this as a priority for you.

How do you know if your priorities are the right ones? Well…this is easier to answer and harder to answer.

I am not going to say: “if it feels good make this a priority in your life”  because sometimes we pursue or do things that feel good in the moment–but that are really bad for us.

What I will say is if something is important to you, like traveling and seeing new places, and you have to work all year to save and earn your two weeks off in order to be able to enjoy it–but you do it because you really get joy from the traveling then this is a priority for you!

So the right priorities are the ones that feel right to you and that match up with the things you values.

As I continue growing and enjoying this journey, I have done a lot of self inspection.  I have found that my life’s passions include my personal growth, my family, traveling and writing or being creative in some form of expression. I also realized that I am a fixer–or as I prefer to think of it–a helper.

I was happy to realize that most of my life I have been reaching and obtaining these experiences, even through the years that had brought hardship, confusion and disasters into my life.

Getting older and continuing to grow just means for me that I will be putting more focus on my passions–my priorities–because it is what makes me happy and what is leading me to my purpose.

So knowing your priorities is very important! Examining what your heart is telling you makes you happy is very important! And then prioritizing your life so that you are going towards those goals is what makes this life so worth living!

Never stop growing! And do not be afraid to treat yourself well by honoring the things that are important to you!  We only live one life, folks, have fun!

Comment below and share some of the things that you have made priorities in your life!

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My President on President’s Day

My President on President’s Day

Today is President’s Day and the History Teacher in me has a few things to say.

Back in the 70s when in elementary school we the students would commemorate Presidents day by making paper plate President’s faces. We would attach a popsicle stick and hold them up in front of our faces.

We students had no idea what a President was back then–but we knew he must be important because the only other faces we put on paper plates were Jesus and Santa Claus. Very important folks to the little ones.

In the late 70s and early 80s we students in middle school, recited parts of important speeches–primarily by George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

We students knew that the President was the leader of our country, that he had tremendous responsibilities and pressures and that some were better than others.  We understood that the Office of the President was an important and sacred one.

By the mid to late 80s we students in high school celebrating President’s Day in school was a little more exciting. We were allowed to pick the President of our choice, research his background, policies, positives and negatives. Most of us wrote research papers about our choice–some had classroom debates about the merits of our chosen Presidential Administration.

We students felt empowered to be allowed to have an opinion. I do not recall a teacher ever telling us our opinion was incorrect. We respected the Office of the President and knew the job was a hard one and that most people did not agree with everything each President did but we would defend our President because he was ours and Ours was the Best Country in the World. We students were optimistic.

And we all, students and teachers alike, got President’s Day off. It was a national holiday, schools closed, the Post Office closed and the banks closed.

Fast forward 30 years and a great deal has changed. Now it seems we teach less and less about our Presidents, our Founding Fathers, our Government structure and our Constitution.

Most of my former and present students don’t know who the Presidents are and don’t feel that the job is that difficult, prestigious or important. They don’t understand how to love their country and they don’t recognize “Hail to the Chief” when it is played.

As a History Teacher of course, this makes me sad.

On most school calendars, many schools around the nation still have the day off in observance of President’s Day, but more and more I notice district calendars observing it one year and maybe not the next–I guess it has become an optional thing.

It is not that important to me whether I get the day off or not, but it is important to me when I realize there is no “observance” of the Office of the President as it used to be.

Many students today have no idea who George Washington was, what Abraham Lincoln did for slavery, how John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Not to mention so many other Presidents–who may not all have been very effective–but at least left us with beautiful traditions for our nation.

I think we have lost something very important along the way.

Nonetheless I am very proud to be an American. I still believe we live in the Best Country in the World and I honor the Office of the President–no matter who is occupying it.

Have a happy Monday!  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think of President’s Day.  Have fun!

 

On Turning 50

On Turning 50

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. So today I am officially 50 years and 1 day old!

I really don’t feel any different that a few days ago…but I do feel a lot different from a few years ago…or was it 20 years ago?

Some people may say that I am over the hill.  Lucky for me I’m not a fast climber–so I don’t feel I have actually reached the top yet!

For the next 50 years I think I am going to continue enjoying the climb and not worry too much about getting there or what the hill will look like on the other side.

I think another 50 years should be enough to decide whether I go down the hill slowly or continue to enjoy it a while longer.

There are some good things about the climb–at least that I have learned over the first 50 years–that I can pack into my backpack for the next 50 years:

  1. Things that were important to me when I was 20–well I can’t even remember what those things were so…NOT IMPORTANT now!
  2. Money comes and goes…work hard, pay your bills and enjoy your life.
  3. Once you have kids your life will be different forever! And it is a wonderful forever to be a part of their lives.
  4. You may not always be with God, but God will always be with you. Once you figure this out stick with Him–it makes life much easier.
  5. The real necessities of life are few–food, shelter, love and strawberries!
  6. Education is essential! Never stop learning and understand that the most important learning does not come from a book.
  7. Learn to be yourself and don’t worry about what other people think about WHO you are!
  8. Young people are stupid.  We were stupid once too.  Enjoy the show, help them if they ask, stand back and let them figure it out. We did!
  9. Leave the toxic people at the bottom of the hill–you do not need them on your climb.
  10. Drink a lot of water!
  11. Appreciate nature more! Sunshine, Wind, Snow, Trees, Rain, Blue Skies, plants and animals. Their energy gives you energy.
  12. There is no need to take yourself so seriously–no one else does!
  13. Wear comfortable shoes.
  14. Pay attention to all that is around you–you never know if you are being too busy to notice the important stuff.
  15. Take the time to thank the people that are helping you climb this hill–you didn’t get here all by yourself.
  16. A few wrinkles really don’t matter.
  17. Ignore the people who say change is hard–it really isn’t once you’ve made up your mind.
  18. Accept that you cannot change the world but you can be kind to all you meet.

That’s it. Sage wisdom if you ask me…or not, see #12.

My big take away this birthday is that we should all enjoy our lives and where it leads us, there is a purpose and a reason. We may not always know what those are but it’s there.  And even through the bad times–find a way to have fun, we only climb this hill once!

Comment below to share your thoughts on getting older, enjoying your life or if you have a tip on enjoying life to the fullest!

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