Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter!

Since we last connected autumn has fallen upon us.

It is a time of transitions.

For me it is always a bittersweet time.

I am fortunate to have both of my parents living. In the summertime they live close to me. My children and I see them regularly and truly enjoy one another’s company.

When the fall nip is in the air my parents close up their tiny summer cottage and take refuge in their home further south.

The hardest part is saying goodbye knowing I won’t see them in person until Christmastime, a maddening time filled with too many rushed traditions, over-abundance of riches both calorically and materially, and dictated by “have-to” statements.

Summer is far more relaxed, genuine, and comfortable.

Finding my Simple Joys when a part of my heart has left is a tall order, but one I know is necessary for the health of me and ultimately my family.

Truthfully, I get into the swing of things rather quickly, indulge in a spirited life with my husband and three children, our friends, and our extended family. Still, their presence is missed.

But, beyond the wistfulness there are many Simple Joys along the way.

So now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Fiesta dinner. We love taco night in our family. And, my folks do, too. On our last night together before their trip South we shared a taco dinner that was so pleasing – and festive!

We took the opportunity to celebrate my daughter’s birthday nearly a month early so her grandparents could see her open and enjoy her gifts.

It was such a wonderful night it was difficult for me to see it end. But having the memories – and a belly full of tacos – is a Simple Joy I was always cherish.

Movie night. My husband and I rarely get to treat ourselves to a movie alone. Usually our Netflix choices are family-oriented and the children join us. This past week, however, I had chosen a title based on a book I had read earlier in the year. Water For Elephants is an older film but was new to us.

We enjoyed the story, thought the acting was good, and, most of all, spent time together caught up in a movie without kids interrupting!

Spending movie night engaged in a grown up movie sans kids was a luxurious Simple Joy!

Apple Picking. Yes, we’re one of those families who traipsed out to the country (I actually live in the country, but still) and paid money for a large paper bag to fill with fresh-off-the-tree fruit picked by… us! There was, of course, a ride behind a tractor, too.
My family and I enjoy this annual activity so much. The children’s favorite part is being told to eat as much fruit as they care to… and they do!

I love that, too, but I really like having mountains of apples in the house to serve the family that taste as fresh as, well, off the tree!

Going apple picking on a beautiful, crisp fall day is a Simple Joy my family and I always look forward doing together!

The Emmy Awards. Look, let’s get something straight. I don’t get to watch much TV anymore that isn’t on the Disney channel or racing. And that’s cool. But at one time I used to be a television junkie. I was a bona fide addicted mess who would know every actor nominated in the Emmys and follow several of the programs – from comedy to drama, variety shows to miniseries.

A combination of not having HBO or other subscription channels, having kids, and choosing a career in racing has ended my addiction cold turkey.

But I still love awards shows, especially for TV and especially hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

Watching the entire show wasn’t an option in my schedule, but I did carve out time to watch a bunch of it and was rewarded with a plethora of Simple Joys.

My Facebook Friends. On Monday morning (yesterday) I posted a request to my FB friends to help create a list of reasons to look forward to Mondays. Many people complain about the first day of the work/school week so I wanted to counteract the negativity with a burst of refreshing and uplifting thoughts. My friends did NOT let me down.

Surrounding myself with upbeat, positive-thinking friends on Facebook and in real life is a Simple Joy I cannot live without!

The transition from summer to autumn is all but complete. The school year is well underway as are the myriad extra-curricular activities our family engages.

I miss my parents but can still speak to them daily and see them on Skype. And, God willing, I will have them back here next summer to enjoy another season’s worth of Simple Joys.

Now, how long is it until Christmas?

Wishing you a week full of Simple Joys!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys by Chief 187™Chatter.

Each day is an opportunity to learn and grow. Sometimes I succeed in just that, but other times I become stagnate or regress a little. Most days I build on my knowledge and that is a very good thing.

When I simply live life, allow it to unfold naturally and go with the flow instead of manhandle its outcome, I find it so much easier to get in touch with my Simple Joys.

Embracing change, staying in the moment, releasing stress, and choosing laughter over aggravation are ways I’ve tried to squeeze the most out of life.

My husband, a most wise person, told me long ago never to let somebody who doesn’t pay rent occupy space in my head. That holds true for situations beyond my control.

The news is overwhelmingly disturbing – negativity is at an all-time high and the country is reeling from it. I can’t change that. But I can change me.

For several years I have dedicated myself to being positive, especially publicly. The gesture has come back to me tenfold and more.
Being positive and kind is contagious and I’m delighted to report that I find most people are open to and hungry for the positive to – in some way – counteract the rest.

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Brownies. Friday was my middle son’s seventh birthday. He was beyond excited to reach the milestone and, more importantly, open his presents. As luck – for the boy – would have it, a storm the night before his big day had left one school in our district without power… his school! My son had no school on Friday, his birthday.

I had promised the lad I’d make his favorite dessert for the Cub Scout Den meeting we’d be attending that night. He chose my brownies. EVERYBODY chooses my brownies.

These were chocolate fudge brownies with semi-sweet and peanut butter chips with some Hershey’s syrup to keep them extra moist.
The two pans I made for the meeting – 13X9 Family-sized – were GONE by the time we left.

So, on Sunday night I made my son an extra pan of birthday brownies to show how much I care about him. He loved them.

Spoiling my son with home-baked goods made me feel like a hero and was a scrumptious, love-filled Simple Joy.

Den Chief. My eldest child became a Boy Scout in February and has taken the move up from Cub Scouts very seriously. Over the summer he went to sleep-a-way camp for the first time for a week and learned a lot away from home.

At summer’s end he took an online course and then another course to fulfill the requirements to become a Den Chief.

A Den Chief is a Boy Scout who is trained to assist the Cub Scouts in his community. He literally works as an aide to the Den Leaders to facilitate meeting activities and be a positive role model to the younger Scouts.

My son’s first meeting was on Friday night and he impressed the heck out of me. It was not because I was his mother as I am a rather critical being at times. I was a middle school teacher, a high school teacher, and a Den Leader.

This child of mine was engaging, enthusiastic, helpful to the leaders, and an all-around positive Scout. I was bursting with pride as was his father – one of the Den Leaders to whom my son is a Den Chief!

Watching my son continue to evolve into a productive, helpful, and wonderful young man is a Simple Joy I never tire.

“High On You”. I was in the car taking my daughter to pre-school when this song came on the radio. Usually we listen to my iPod but on this particular day I was running late and decided to take my chances on FM.
When this song, “High On You” by Survivor, came on I was transported back in time to the mid-1980s. And, although it is now an “old” song, it is still a dang good one. I listened to the entire ditty with my daughter in the background asking, “Can’t we go in to school now?”

“Not until Mommy’s song is over!”

Listening to a gem from my past that dredged up so many memories and emotions was a crazy cool Simple Joy.

Drive-In. Over the weekend my husband, children, and parents decided to go to the local drive-in restaurant that looks like a classic one from the 1950s. My parents took the children in the Studebaker Lark while my husband drove me in the Daimler.

We enjoyed delicious cheeseburgers, fries, and chocolate shakes, had fun in our respective vintage cars, and spent a carefree evening walking around looking at all of the other classic cars on hand for “Cruise Night”.

Taking time to enjoy one of the last nights of summer was a relaxing and fun-filled Simple Joy.

National Anthem. While waiting for our food at the restaurant the DJ who was spinning “oldies” promptly played a recording of the National Anthem at 6:00pm ET. I didn’t hear the first strains but my ears quickly picked up the tune and I immediately stood as did the rest of my family and the entirety of the restaurant-goers.

There was complete and total respect for the song, our flag, and our nation. Not one person spoke, ate, worked, or sat. Hats came off, children were hushed and put their hands on their hearts, and some even sang to the instrumental version.

I was so pleasantly proud of my fellow diners who felt as passionately about their country as I do. In fact, I was so moved a tear crept down my face.

Being a part of a random and total patriotic scene with my family and a roomful of strangers was a most impactful Simple Joy.
God Bless America!

Everywhere I look there is goodness. Sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint at first, but the more you train yourself to look for the positive, the more readily you see it.

Like Simple Joys that are lurking at every corner, positive occurrences are, too.

My wish is that everybody who reads Simple Joys feels encouraged to look for the positive, experience Simple Joys, and share them.

One person alone can be a catalyst for change, but it’s the masses who need to embrace it. Let’s show the world how Simple Joys can enhance our every day lives!

Wishing you a week filled with Simple Joys!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

Sometimes life is just hard. Health issues can derail the best of intentions. Whether chronic or sudden, when you don’t feel well it is so difficult to find your Simple Joys.

Sometimes the only release is tears… even if that makes symptoms worse.

And sometimes you need to have enormous strength to admit you need help.

Simple Joys can become clouded over like storm clouds obscure the sun. But those times only magnify the importance, the magnitude, and the intense need for Simple Joys to exist in the world – our personal world.

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Drafting the Circuits – I spend every Wednesday night on air with my hand-picked panel of motorsports enthusiasts doing a racing radio program. Whereas there are times prepping for the show – securing guests, catching up on several racing series and motorsports news – I always have a supremely enjoyable time doing the actual show.

Spending time with people I adore, talking about a topic I enjoy, and laughing the hour away is a stress-relieving, unbelievably fun Simple Joy.

Nursery School – My third and final child has finally started school. She is now attending the same nursery school her big brothers did. It’s been a few years since we’ve been there, but all of the core staff, values, and good feelings still exist.

Starting school for the first time can be scary for children – and parents – but finding a place you love, your children love and flourish in, and that gives you a sense of peace and joy is a priceless Simple Joy.

Parents – I am so very blessed to have both of my parents living and near me in the summertime. The summer days are dwindling and fall’s relentless arrival is near, but my parents are still here. Not only do we have a lot of fun together, but they nearly saved my life last week.

I was suffering a headache that had stayed for three days – unheard of for me – and was fearful it was a sign of far more severe medical problems. I called for help to get to the doctor’s office – I needed childcare for my children and a ride as I was in severe pain – and my parents dropped everything they were doing to help me.

Luckily, the appointment led to a diagnosis that calmed my nerves, I was prescribed a brilliant medication combo, and was sent on my way. My father fetched the meds while my mother made me a hot cup of tea. Within a few hours I was back to normal and laughing with my parents.

I will reiterate, I am so lucky on so many fronts. Lucky my parents were so near and willing to help, lucky my headache was easily diagnosed and so lucky the pain was snuffed away with one dose of meds.

Having my parents around to truly care for me, keep my children safe, and nurse me back to health is a Simple Joy I will never take for granted nor ever forget.

Flamenco dress – My in-laws returned to our home briefly from a trip to Portugal and Spain. We had a whirlwind visit that was all too short. My mom in-law always brings gifts to the children, my husband and me. One gift in particular brought miles of smiles and tons of fun ~ a Flamenco dress for my 3 year old daughter!

She was instantly excited upon seeing the pink confection her grandma and grandpa brought her. Insisting she put the outfit on immediately, we adults whipped out our smart phones and cameras to snap pictures. My daughter posed like she was an actual Flamenco dancer! We howled with laughter, cooed over her beauty and poise, and fell in love with her all over again!

Seeing my daughter in the pink Flamenco dress and flower for her hair was an entertaining and delicious Simple Joy!

Back to School Night – For some attending back to school night at their child’s school is an odious task. But I love going to see my child’s teacher, meet the principal, and see my friends. This year my husband joined me (as he’s done in the past). This time things were different as he is one of the Den Leaders of our son’s Cub Scout Den. It wasn’t just my friends from MOMS Club, Scouts, and playdates, but HIS friends, too!

We’re so happy to report our son has an excellent teacher. Starting the year with much optimism, a positive outlook, and a group of awesome friends is a jubilant Simple Joy.

I was so very lucky this past week to have a network of friends and family to look after me when I was physically not at my best.

Simple Joys were lurking but until I could clear some doubt about my health, let go of some unrealistic expectations, and just breathe, I couldn’t locate them easily.

The moment I “Let Go and Let God” and asked for help from my parents, husband, and myself, I was able to move on, get healthier, and gain peace.

My story is certainly a personal one. My goal is to keep perspective each week and encourage myself to seek out and enjoy the Simple Joys that exist in my life.

If reading my Simple Joys encourages you to clear your mind to find your own more frequently, then that in itself is a Simple Joy.

Wishing you all a week full of Simple Joys.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.
Some weeks are easier to find my Simple Joys than others. It seems that how I relate to people who, quite simply, won’t change, can throw me for a loop. In short, it can wreck my sanity.

Finding Simple Joys in that seemingly endless loop may appear impossible.

It’s not.

First I had to calm down. I cannot change other people but I can change me. Once calm I am able to find perspective, make a new plan, and usually come out far better than I was before.

The enlightened and lightened spirit allows me to easily locate my Simple Joys.

Sometimes realizing when to let go is a Simple Joy. Change is difficult but can ultimately lead to a better self.

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Shawn Inmon. Shawn is a writer whose work I stumbled upon when looking for books to upload onto my Kindle. His work Feels Like The First Time was, at the time, a free book so I took a chance. From the moment I read the introductory paragraph describing the book I was hooked. Shawn was in love with his high school girlfriend Dawn but life circumstances took them away from one another. Later in life their paths intersected again and they reignited the spark of their intense love.

Having married my high school sweetheart after never having broken up I was fascinated by love that hibernated yet survived through the decades only to be re-stoked. The story was well written, true, and heartfelt. I immediately began following Shawn on Facebook and was rewarded with several daily updates, funny tidbits, and a glimpse into the true Shawn’s personality. And I enjoy it immensely!

Taking a chance on a book and connecting with its author in such a strong way is an invaluable Simple Joy.

Blistex Lip Medex. Years ago I used to suffer from severe dry lips. It was yucky. My husband introduced me to a Blistex product that gave immediate relieve and eventually healed my overly chapped lips.

Now I am NEVER without this little container of elixir. I use it every single night as part of my get-ready-for-bed routine and it makes my lips… well... luscious!

Having kissable lips every single day is a Simple Joy I cannot afford not to indulge!

True-blue friends. There are those in life you come across who you think you have a real connection but it turns out nothing about them is real. I still have an open heart and a trusting soul, but I’m becoming worldly-wise out of necessity.

What I do know, however, is I truly have made the strongest of friendships throughout my life and these friends have rallied around me to cheer me when I was licking my wounds.

Having friends who care for and support me is a Simple Joy for the ages and one I do not take for granted.

Handmade gifts – I saw some of those true-blue friends over the weekend and we celebrated my birthday belatedly. My friend Karen is a very talented jewelry maker who makes jewelry as a hobby. She’s great at it and presented me with a gorgeous bracelet and dazzling earrings that she made!

Receiving a gift that extraordinary that is also a labor of love is a truly meaningful Simple Joy.

Time together. As summer winds down, school begins, and activities rev up, I know it will be rare to have a quiet weekend or even day together as a family. Over Labor Day Weekend we spent a ton of quality time together.

Modern families are always on the go and life comes at you pretty quickly, but spending face time together when you can is a most fulfilling Simple Joy.

It is easy for me to come off track but assembling tools throughout my life has given me the strength to get back on track faster. No longer do I give power to others over how I feel or give myself value.

My efforts to find my Simple Joys have elevated my self-worth, beefed up my self-esteem, and made me more compassionate toward myself and others.

Simple Joys are many things to me and come in myriad forms. They are simple and complicated, joyful and bittersweet, lasting and fleeting, but they are always around to cheer me.

My hope has always been that reading Simple Joys in some way encourages you to find your own. Once you do you’ll find Simple Joys are ever-present and ready for the enjoying.

Wishing you all a week full of Simple Joys!