SOMETHING JUST FOR ME?

Did you ever want to do something just for you?  It is not easy for me to commit to something that is just for me when it involves money and sacrifice for those around me.

I am a very logical thinker and that is how I normally make decisions.  I weigh all the positive things I can think of and then I ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen.  The time involved in this process depends on how big the decision actually might be.  I also have John and several friends that I ask for guidance.  I try to cover all my bases so I am able to make a good choice.

This is what I have been doing for several months now.  I want to go back to school.  Most of you are probably thinking either I must be nuts or what’s the problem with that?  And you would all be right!

I have never had much of an interest in a higher education.  I have a fantastic job with people I love.  I am treated like a queen.  I really never thought of doing anything else.  So, what changed?  Many things!

John and I downsized and moved to a retirement community.  I never in a million years dreamed I would ever be able to retire but now it might actually be a possibility.

I love the job I have but I really do not want to be working at this stress level when I am 70!  I am ever so grateful for all that I have been given but please let there be less stress SOME day.

And above all, there is God.  I have been feeling a gentle tug for quite some time and trying to figure out what to do with it.

Many years ago I volunteered for Hospice and I loved my time there.  It is a fantastic organization and I completely embrace their philosophy.  My volunteering experience was with nursing home patients and I know I would be comfortable working with patients or their families.  I seem to possess whatever is necessary to listen to people say what they need to say.  (I KNOW I am a talker but I CAN be a listener too!)

Sorting through all this information I have finally come to the decision to go to International Seminary.  It is a non-denominational Seminary and a school that offers much.  It is close to my home and affordable.  I am not exactly sure where this journey is going but I am going to trust God to take me where I need to go.

The first year of classes is the same for all their degree programs.  This will allow me the time necessary for further guidance before I make a final decision on a specific degree.  I am keeping my mind open to any and all options so that God can work with me and lead me.  John is supportive of this decision and his opinions will be important to me as well.

We are always told by church leaders that we should have a child-like faith and that is what I believe I have.  I trust that if I walk through the door God will guide my path to the place He needs me most.  What is the worst that will happen?  I will deepen my understanding of the bible and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

If I can take this journey, I am sure that there is something in your life that you want to do that will be special for you.  It may be a big thing like mine or something very simple like going to see a movie that only you want to see.  Whatever it is, I challenge you to do something that you want to do for yourself.  Be sure to share it with me because I’d love to pray for your success as I ask you to pray for mine!

 

 

 

 

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BLESSING OUR NEW HOME

Some traditions are hard to let go of and that can be a good thing.  Sometimes bringing your past into your present can bring you joy.  That is what happened Sunday when we had our house blessed.

We moved into our house in February and it has been an amazing journey to get here.  I am so grateful  and I feel a huge responsibility to be a good steward of our new home.

House Blessings are a Catholic thing as far as I know.  John understood my desire to do it and was supportive even though he had no idea what it really entailed.  Because I am not a “‘Catholic in good standing” I am no longer part of the church.  (THAT is another story for another time.  I  have no issues with the Catholic Church.)  John’s church is a small Brethren Church and has, I believe, 7 pastors, most retired.  They are a wonderful group of people who I love very  much.  I am not a part of that church but John is very active and has been for a long time.

This wonderful group of people agreed to do our  house blessing.  Four of the Pastors attended and each did a blessing of their own.  Nancy said a beautiful prayer for John and I, for health, peace and happiness in our home.  Karen brought salt, bread and a broom (to sweep away our troubles!), Berwyn is known for his musical talents and he had a song for all of us to sing.  Merle and his wife Jean were missionaries and they did a ceremony from South America called the Huasipichai; which means sweeping out the house; it is to get the bad spirits out, to clean the house for the family to live in peace, health and joy.  It was lovely.

Steve, the head Pastor had a Blessing of the House ceremony more like the traditional Catholic ceremony which blessed each room.  He had everything written out so that people could take turns reading the blessing and then sprinkle holy water in the room.  It was amazing.

This wonderful group of people shared their love and spirit with John and I to  truly fill our home with blessings.  It didn’t matter what their tradition was, they gave of themselves to bring joy to us.

That is my challenge for you, take a moment and give of yourself, unselfishly.  Or, allow yourself to be on the receiving end of unselfish giving.  I have to say that I felt so much love from these people it was amazing.  I am very grateful and I now have memories that I will cherish forever.

 

MY PHOTO WALK

I was reading an article on how to stress-proof your life  in the May 2012 issue of Health Magazine.  One of the suggestions was to take a photo walk.  It said to head outside and photograph the things you find interesting, fun or beautiful.  It says that it helps us to look for positive images.  I thought that was worth a try so yesterday I went on a photo walk.

It wasn’t easy at first because I was busy looking for the perfect picture instead of things that were interesting.  And what did I find interesting anyway?  I decided to walk to a part of our community that I hadn’t been to before.  When I go for a run I am focused o the run itself and not really my surroundings but I pretty much take the same route.  This time I went into the side streets and tried to pay attention to the individuality of the homes.

I wished that my niece Monique was with me.  She is a photographer and her eye for the unique is amazing.  I thought if we lived closer she could teach me a thing about taking pictures; right back to looking for that perfect picture. Sigh.

But then I started to let go.   I ran across this driveway.

 

It is a bit hard to see but there are small cans filled with dirt and an American Flag.  I don’t know if they are there to block the driveway from being used or if this is a patriotic statement or both.  It was interesting and hopefully accomplished what the owner intended.

 

We live in a golf course community and it was Saturday morning; where were all the golfers?  I find golf interesting because I have not become a golfer yet.  I have taken lessons but have not done anything with them.  I’m not sure we can afford for John and I to both love golf yet.  It is fascinating that people can hit that silly ball so far and I can only make it move 10 feet.

Good things do come to those who wait.  I finally came across a foursome on the 18th green.  I hid behind a large tree so I could take pictures without disturbing them. While I am taking pictures I wonder if this is legal?! 

My picture-taking skills are not good enough to worry about that!  I’m lucky I got all four people in the shot.

As I walked on, I started paying attention to the silence.  That is one of the greatest benefits of living in a 55+ community.  It is so quiet.  I focused in on the sounds I was hearing.  The wind was whistling and there were several birds chirping away.  I’m not good at identifying what songs belong to which bird but there were several different ones.  Then I heard laughter and that made me smile.

Every so often there would be the hum of a golf cart buzzing past.  Many people have their own golf carts and that is the standard mode of transportation within the community.

Since we moved here in February we have been under drought conditions and as I walked along I noticed this area that shows how bad the drought is.

 

I am not sure if this area ever was full of water but it looks as though it should be.  I took pictures from several angles and found it sad that we need water so bad.  Please God send us rain.  We really do need it.

 

 

(another angle of the same area).

Even with the drought the area is very pretty.  There is a bench too for sitting to enjoy the view. I wonder how many people actually use it?

Those of us with dogs walk here and I notice that people really do follow the guidelines and clean up after their animals.  The area is free of litter too.  I love living in this community.  It is everything we wanted and more.

I am back to my street.  I talk about the hill going up to our home and people laugh at me because Florida really doesn’t have hills but it is true, we do.  You feel it right in your calf muscles when you are walking!  This is the view I see from my patio, isn’t it beautiful?

 

By the way, my neighbor’s house is for sale if anyone is interested!

I like this little duck!  It always makes me smile.  They took something simple and kicked it up a notch.   I wonder if she changes the flowers seasonally?  I would until I became bored with it or just too lazy to bother.

I have not met this lady yet but when I do I will have to mention to her how much I enjoy her duck.

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t this a great picture of the flag?  There are American Flags all over the community.  I shouldn’t be surprised really since there are many military retired.

We have a smaller flag on a pole that mounts to the side of the house.  I put it out shortly after we moved in but John won’t let me keep it out.  He says that I have to take it down at sunset each night or I cannot fly it.  I personally think that is silly but I will honor his wishes.  Needless to say, it doesn’t fly much.  It is more important to honor John that fly the flag.  If I manage to hit the Patriotic holidays I will be ok.

These next two pictures I had to take later in the day because of what they are.

Every evening down by the gazebo golf carts gather to watch the sunset.  It is a pretty area with a small lake, probably smaller due to the drought.

 

 

You never know how many carts are going to be there, sometimes one and sometimes a dozen.  If we ever get our golf cart operational (we need 6 batteries at $100 each so it may be awhile) I am going to go watch the sunset with them.  Somehow driving a car just ruins the moment for me.  John is not exactly thrilled with the notion of watching the sunset but I am sure if he goes once he will enjoy it.  And, I am not above going by myself.

I have to admit taking my photo walk turned into a really nice peaceful morning.  I probably was out for less than an hour but it was an hour full of relaxation.  I was lost in time and free from phones and televisions.  Thank you Health Magazine for the suggestion!  It set a nice tone for the rest of the day.

So now it is up to you.  Go take your own photo walk and tell me how you enjoyed it.  I would really love to hear!

SLOW DOWN

I am one of  those people who leap out of bed each morning and hit the floor running.  Normally I don’t stop until I hit the bed at night.  It is hard for me to relax, I just don’t think to do it.  I really believe it is a learned behavior and I haven’t learned it yet.  On the weekends I sleep in, usually getting up around 7 or 7:30; anything later than that is not normal for me.  I fill my days trying to accomplish everything  John and I didn’t accomplish during the week.  Grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, plus all the fun things that we want to do.  Sometimes by Sunday night I am more exhausted than if I would have just gone to work.

This Saturday I didn’t do that.  I got up at 7:00 as usual but I started my morning slow.  I had a cup of tea and I ate my breakfast on the patio.  John and I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things we needed for our dinner that night.  After the shopping was done, I went over to mom’s and had a nice relaxing visit with her.

When I got home from mom’s house John and I went over to the Community pool.  I slowly swam laps.  I didn’t try to race or break any records, I just swam.  We took reading material and stayed at the pool for a of couple hours.  There were very few people there so it was quiet and enjoyable.

After we got home I snuggled up in the chair in my office and started reading a book that I have been wanting to read for months.  My friend Pete is a writer and this is his 4th book published.  He writes a murder mystery series that is very entertaining.  (http://www.pjgrondin.com)  I not only enjoy them because I know Pete, but also because they are a good read.  I bought this latest book when it first came out and have not taken time to sit and read.  I decided this was the day I was going to start reading this book.  I got to chapter 19 before I called it a night.

The day really was perfect.  I told John that it felt good to relax, to take the day slow and not plan every minute of every hour.  I need to do this more often.  None of the things that I fill my weekends with really matter.  I just put myself on automatic and I don’t stop.  This was step one in learning to slow down and enjoy my weekend.  I hope to have many more just like this!

So, that is your challenge this week.  Take one day and slow down.  You pick the day and define what slow down means to you.  Tell me what you did and how it worked for you!   It doesn’t have to be fancy, just honest!

Have fun!