Monday, May 31, 2010

Remember: Some Scattered Thoughts On Memorial Day

I love Memorial Day - and not just because it usually includes barbecues. I've always loved going to the cemetery to put flowers on my great-grandparents' graves, and later on my grandparents' graves. It's one of those reflection kinds of days that makes me think about where I come from.

I'm fascinated by cemeteries because they're so full of stories about people's lives. I remember going to one as a teenager and finding a headstone for a family who lost something like seven children before they reached the age of three. I always ache for the wives or husbands who lived for 30 years after their spouse passed away. I try to think about the people who have passed on and the people they left behind.

I spent some time in Europe taking a class about World War I. We visited several military cemeteries, including some that were entirely full of unknown soldiers. It breaks my heart to think about the families who never really knew what happened to their loved ones because they were only identified as missing.

The other day I was wandering around Columbus, IN and found this amazing war memorial. It had about 25 pillars, and on each one there were names of people who had been killed in wars in the past hundred years. Some of the pillars also had letters from soldiers to their families, followed by their death date. It was such a powerful way to think about the tragedy of war to see a letter about how excited one boy was to drive his new car when he got home, followed by a death date a few days later. There's something about last letters and last words that makes them hang in the air in a very special way.

There's a collection of poems I love called The Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. It's entirely a collection of epitaphs, and taken together, all of these snippets of people's lives give you the full picture of life in a small town. This has always been my favorite because it's so full of the simple wonder of an ordinary life.

Lucinda Matlock

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun,
I wove,
I kept the house,
I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed--
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety--six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you--
It takes life to love Life.

I'm not really sure what all of these thoughts mean together. I think I just want to say that it's important to me to remember those who have died. It reminds me that I want to live well.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Take Notes

Have you seen this blog? It's one of my new favorites. Who doesn't need to be reminded to be thankful? Life can sweep you up and drag you along sometimes, it's nice to stop and try to think of something to be thankful for, even if that thing is Monday or traffic or a boring meeting. Today I'm saying thank you to Leah Dieterich and her wonderful thank you notes.

Anyway, it's worth a look see and a bookmark and frequent visits.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's a Brand New Day

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I came across the following quote by author Anna Quindlen, "The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." You see, I am a perfectionist. I get caught up in the little details and the little worries of life because those are the things that are most often staring me in the face and begging for attention. Why do I give those things such importance?

Looking beyond the imperfections, embracing them even, is difficult and amazing and really a whole lot easier than striving for perfection. My days are better when I let some of the "little things" in life go by without a second thought, especially those "little things" that are personal. Things like remembering that it's okay to say no when asked to do something I really don't want to do. Things like whether or not my hair is frizzy or my makeup is done. Some days, it's just not going to happen, because I'm a human being who is occasionally lazy. Go me! I could continue with examples, but I'm sure you can all think of some for me.

The most important point I would like to make is, when you are trying to be perfect, it can keep you from becoming who you really want to be. You spend all your time and energy keeping up the appearance of perfection and the real you, the one with all sorts of awesome quirks and flaws, just gets pushed aside. No one is perfect. Not a single person on this earth. It's refreshing to take a moment and remember that, isn't it? Perfection is overrated and unattainable, but happiness, honest to goodness happiness with who you are as a person, is something worthy of your time and effort.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Makeover!


We have been anxiously awaiting the now obvious changes to the blog and we hope you Lovely Readers like it as much as we do. The very talented Jeri of Jerilyn Design has worked hard to provide us with a new header, background and button that truly captures the feel of this blog...and still keeps our red balloons. I think we've become quite attached to those silly red balloons.

So, enjoy the new could you not? Everyone loves a good makeover.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Listen to Your Own Advice

Maybe you've noticed I've been preoccupied with change this week. I thought it was because there are some changes being made to this blog very soon (all very good changes, don't worry), but today I learned differently.

I have a difficult choice to make. I got a job offer. I wasn't surprised by the offer so much as the timing and my gut reaction to the offer. So now I have to decide what to do and it, quite frankly, scares the crap out of me. And yet I've been blogging to you this week about change. How change is good "if it is in the right direction." Not two days ago, I wrote this:

Personally, I really make an effort to be a more positive person and it's a tough thing. But, when all else fails, I look at the problem or the approaching change or even the lack of change when I know one is sorely needed and I tell myself that it's temporary. My entire life will not be defined by the events that happened during my 15th year or my 26th year. Change can be hard, but with the right attitude, it doesn't have to be.

I am not retracting anything I've said, just pointing out that things can change, usually when you don't expect them to and it is so very hard to remember your own advice. I knew I needed a change, I have even been hoping for an opportunity just like this one that has presented itself, and I'm still struggling. Shouldn't it be easy to accept the things I've been trying to attain? This should be the easiest decision ever, but it means that so many parts of my life will change. It's scary. I guess all I can do is try to make the choice that I think will make me happiest and hope that choice is taking me in the right direction.

So, trust yourselves, Lovely Readers. Listen to the advice you give others and maybe check to make sure it's not something you need to hear for yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve and maybe I'll try to start doing the same thing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"There is nothing wrong with change,
if it is in the right direction."
Winston Churchill

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Facebook Wisdom

I have a friend whose Facebook profile sports this text in the "About Me" section.

Wouldn't this old world be a better place if the folks we meet would say,"I know something good about you!" and then treat us just that way? Wouldn't it be nice to practice this way of thinking? "You know something good about me, I know something good about you."

What a surprisingly sweet sentiment, I thought when I saw it. This blog ever in mind, I googled it to find out where it came from, and I got nothing--which leads me to believe that it's my friend's own wonderful brain that came up with such a lovely thought. Wouldn't it be nice if that's how we approached every person in our lives? Imagine the way your interactions would change if the first thing you thought about a person was something good about them.

Whether it's someone you're meeting for the first time or someone who's been around for years, you can acknowledge something good about a person. If nothing else, it might simply be the fact that this person is another human being slogging through the same messy world that you're trying to get through. So instead of jumping to the first available negative conclusion, let's assume something nice about people. We might be wrong, but it won't matter.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I came across this article while perusing the internets, 30 Days to a Happier Life. It's a short guide (nine steps) taken from a book, The First 30 Days by author Ariane de Bonvoisin, that is meant to help you adapt better to change. In the article, de Bonvoisin says, "Change is the one constant in all our lives.... And learning to embrace it is the most valuable tool in helping you love your life more."

I hate change and I used to be very bad at dealing with it. I was never good at it when I was younger then there was a year in high school when things were constantly changing and a lot of hard stuff happened. Looking back, I think I pretended to be fine with things till I could no longer stand it then I just got angry. Because of that year, my mom still holds off as long as possible to deliver difficult news to me and she generally is the one to tell me, not my dad or sister, it has to come from her. I love that she is still protective of me like that, but I have long since learned how to deal with change and hard times in a healthier way.

Having shared that, it takes a lot of hard work. It takes constant reminders to be positive, to focus on an end goal, to look at the bigger picture. I like that this article and the nine steps outlined in it are all essentially saying that to deal with change, you must be optimistic. You have to think positively about yourself, your support system and your new situation, whatever it may be.

Personally, I really make an effort to be a more positive person and it's a tough thing. But, when all else fails, I look at the problem or the approaching change or even the lack of change when I know one is sorely needed and I tell myself that it's temporary. My entire life will not be defined by the events that happened during my 15th year or my 26th year. Change can be hard, but with the right attitude, it doesn't have to be.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Operation Beautiful

Today I discovered Operation Beautiful.

A friend posted this picture on her Facebook profile, accompanied by a link to the website. I checked it out, and immediately wanted to share it with you. 

It looks like the premise of Operation Beautiful is that women go around leaving anonymous post-it notes with uplifting messages for other women to find--messages like these:

What a lovely idea! Check out the website (, and maybe do a little anonymous posting of your own where you live.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Guest Post: Offer Compassion

By now you are probably familiar with my wonderful sister-in-law Julie. She is an awesome person and a frequent guest post contributer, and we're delighted to have her back. Please enjoy. 

People really do not know what to say. And if they do think they know, most likely it is not the right words. You have lost a loved one, and there are no words that can comfort. You have lost your job in a bad economy and don’t know what to do. You break up with the best guy or your marriage is falling apart. Are there comforting words for that? How about not getting in to your number one college pick or failing a class? That feels devastating. Your life feels ruined. People want to comment and support you with reassuring words of comfort. But there are no words to bring back one who has passed on, to make a boy love you, to make an employer hire you, or to make a college accept you. But somehow, we all say something. And usually these words do not comfort.

I have a daughter who is visually impaired. Her limitations are still undefined, as she is surprising us daily with what she can and cannot do. But she is learning Braille and will never be able to drive. She will have some serious disadvantages in life.

When she was a sweet little baby, I shared my grief with many. And what did most say? Many supportive things that were supposed to make me feel better. “Well she may never be able to see the mountains or birds in the distance but she will be able to see them in a book.” The intent of this comment was to cheer me up, yet made my grief seem silly. “It is not too bad, look, she is smiling at me. She can obviously see.” These words of support made me feel like I was wrong to believe the doctor’s prognosis. Again, my grief was not validated. Most comments felt hurtful, and many still are. 

I, too, have stuck my foot in my mouth in an attempt to comfort others. I believe we all have. Our intent is to love and show support. I now take every insensitive comment as it is meant to be. To put it simply: people want to be helpful and ease your pain. There is no need to take it personally or get upset and see it for what it is not. For it is compassion in its most awkward form.

In the four years I have grieved over my daughter’s disability, only a handful of comments have touched my heart. They have all been from other mothers who have experienced the same grief with disabled children. One good neighbor told me this, and it was what I felt in my heart, but could not yet realize. She said, “You will always hurt. When you look at other children her age doing things she cannot, you will hurt. You will cry. And you will move on.” It was true and it was beautiful. And I do this regularly. It has stood the test of time.

What can be said in situations like this? Any loving and positive words will do, including a big hug. “I love you. Can I help? Call me when you need a friend to listen. Let me take you to lunch.” Don’t try to SOLVE their problem, or RELATE to it, or tell them it will be okay. Offer compassion. VALIDATE their emotions. We all want our feelings to be realized.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Spotlight: Curly Girl Design

I don't normally make it a point to advertise things I like on this blog (mainly because I don't know how to write about it without sounding like a crazy person), but every once in a while something comes to your attention and you just must share. So.

A few months ago I was in a little store in Nashville, IN, and I started looking at these little greeting cards. I was in love with all of them. They all seemed to say something that was both simple and profound - and not terribly cheesy - and they were cute and creative. I stood and read them for about half an hour before I pulled myself away, and then I came back a few months later and bought several - some to give away, some to frame for myself - and last week I took Lin to the store and we both ended up with another handful. But even if you don't want to buy any (which is fine) you should go and look at them, because the message she's sending is truly lovely. You can find her website at

Here are a few of my favorite designs. I had trouble narrowing it down. I'm pretty sure at some point I'll have some of her prints on my wall.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometimes Things are Awesome.

We're back!

Dear lovely readers, we have missed you. The last few weeks have been a little crazy for us, but we are back to normal now and would like to start off by sharing this fabulous website with you. I came across it while browsing Post Secret the other day.

If you are ever having a crappy day and need something to cheer you up, try checking out 1000 Awesome Things. As I read through the first few pages, I thought about how wonderful it is to seek out and dwell on those small things that just make your life better. Here are a couple I especially liked.

#528 When your pet notices you’re in a bad mood and comes to see you.

Everybody hurts, sometimes.
Relationships fritz and fizzle, bad moods steam and sizzle, and we all have moments where all we wanna do is to curl up under a blanket so it all goes away.
In tear-stained moments of blackness, when the weight of the world hangs heavy, there’s nothing as sweet as a furry four-footed friend noticing your mood and coming over for a snuggle.
As your dog curls into your lap or your cat stares straight in your eyes you just suddenly sniff back hot salty tears and let a small smile curl onto your face.

#539 When you open a book to the exact page you were looking for

You cracked the case.
Seriously, when you pop open that textbook, flip open the yellow pages, or split the spine of that beach novel right to the spot you’re looking for it’s a beautiful moment.
Suddenly you transform into a gloomy trenchcoat-wearing detective who solves the case just by glancing at the crime scene. Yes, the street’s been taped off, someone’s crying under a blanket on the curb, and the city police are filling out witness statements on their notepads.
That’s when you peel up in a navy blue squad card, calmly light up a cigarette, and then stare at the surrounding buildings for a few minutes with furrowed eyebrows.
Then you calmly walk back to your cruiser, smile softly, and roll your window down at the local police before screaming away down the wet roads.
“Page 127.”

#540 The TV Treasure Chest Moment

The TV Treasure Chest Moment occurs when you stumble upon an elusive rerun of your favorite TV show just as it’s about to start.
This champion channel-flip happens in two big ways:
1. The Missing Link. This is when you suddenly realize you haven’t seen this episode before — ever! You love the show, you’re a huge fan, you’ve seen most episodes ten times … but now you landed on the missing link. Maybe you always knew this episode existed but didn’t get to witness it until today. You know you landed on a missing link if you find yourself saying things like “Is this the backwards episode?”, “So that’s when she got braces” or “Ahhhh, now I fully get another joke referenced later in the series. I am at peace.”
2. The Full Fave. Here’s when you find your favorite episode of the series and get giddy with anticipation. Maybe it’s the soup nazi on Seinfeld, the time Carlton gets cut from the frat, or that dark day when Jesse takes too many caffeine pills. Chances are good you’ve seen the end of this one twenty times and that’s exactly what makes the full version such a sweet release.
People, you know it and I know it: The TV Treasure Chest Moment is a great big rush of excitement in the middle of your family room. When it happens you’ve gotta dim those lights, pop that corn, and stare deeply at the glittery gold moment before you.

So hey, if you're feeling inspired after visiting the website, try making your own list of things that are awesome and share it with us! (After all, part of what makes these things awesome is the fact that other people have had the exact same experience--and there's nothing we human beings love better than shared experience.)