Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

Sometimes life just flows easily. Routines are set, no surprises rock the boat, and life just is. Some people call that “boring” or “mundane”. I think it is often the closest to Heaven we can get.

But even with “normalcy”, whatever that is really, there is always room for Simple Joys. A message from a friend on Facebook, a belly laugh from a child, a delicious new food, or spending time doing exactly what you want to do can all be examples of Simple Joys.

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

Pink Gum – Nothing satisfies my daughter’s addiction to sugar like pink Tic Tacs. She calls them “pink gum” because I keep them in the same place I keep my sugar-free mint gum I love to chew. I dole out a certain amount – anywhere from 2-4 – for my daughter to enjoy. She absolutely loves them and it keeps her from asking for lollipops or other forms of candy.

Seeing my daughter relish each Tic Tac and hearing her ask for the confection by the wrong cute name are Simple Joys I am treated to daily!

Eleven-year-old – At a time when most children are already showing extreme independence, my son is straddling the line between childhood and teendom. He is more than capable of being on his own, handling young adult situations, and rising to the occasion. But he still loves his place in the family, seeks out his dad and me for advice, and fears the unknown – drugs, alcohol, even falling in love – that his teen years will most likely expose him.

I make sure we talk often and keep the lines of open communication open. He feels much more secure knowing he has boundaries and perimeters than if I just left him to his own devices. But I’m not sheltering the boy. He is going to have to find his own path in this world and I can only hope he continues to use his dad and me for a moral compass, a reference, and a source of safety.

I wouldn’t want to go back to being 11, but I’m so fiercely proud of the young man my son is becoming and the endless source of Simple Joys he is.

Seven-year-old – I can’t think of anything better than being seven. My seven-year-old son loves school, completes his homework in no time at all, aces his tests, and gets great reports. He also is over-the-moon excited for Halloween, especially since his dad and I found and purchased the Iron Man costume he’s coveted all season. And, he’s super focused on making his list for Santa Claus, spelling words correctly and using his best penmanship.

He is a very happy child who spoils me with Simple Joys every single day.

Pretty Hair – Last week my daughter had a head cold that resulted in her waking up in the middle of the night. As I soothed her and settled her back into her bed I began to lower my head to kiss her. As I came closer she looked at me with big loving eyes and said, “Mommy, you have pretty hair.”

I thanked my little girl, told her in earnest that she has pretty hair, too, kissed her, and put her to bed.

As any woman can attest, I never feel my hair is pretty enough. It’s curly when I want it straight, too straight when I want it curly, in need of a haircut, dye job, combing, etc. But because of the pure love and honesty that unpromptedly flowed from my four-year-old daughter’s mouth, I finally feel that my hair is pretty.

Having my daughter erase a lifetime of self-doubt with one sweet sentence is a Simple Joy I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Brownie Brittle – For me, the best part of the brownie is the end piece with its crispy edges. At the grocery store last week I found my latest addiction – Brownie Brittle. As the name suggests it’s pieces of wafer thin brownies that are crispy, sweet, and… perfect! The store I shop carries four flavors: chocolate chip, salted caramel, toffee crunch, and mint chip. I bought all of them and have only tried the chocolate chip which is phenomenal!

Finding the perfect sweet treat after years of searching is a delightful Simple Joy!

Just getting through a day can be a Simple Joy. So can being happy with a “normal” day, week, or life. Extraordinary is not what Simple Joys are all about, it’s about letting in the good and appreciating it – no matter how large or small – in the moment and knowing that is enough.

These are my personal Simple Joys. My wish is for you to find and recognize your own whether you write them down, talk about them, or merely think about them.

Wishing you all a week filled with Simple Joys.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

It seems at every turn there are forces trying to rob us of our sanity and our serenity. If we are always reactionary we will never find a moment’s peace.

People bait us, situations tempt us to be quick to anger, and myriad occasions can leave us feeling off keel. These times are the perfect storm to keep Simple Joys at bay.

We cannot change others – no matter how much we’d like to try. The only thing we have the power to change is how we react to others, disappointing situations, and the like.

I’ve lived my life angry, frustrated, holding resentments, and allowing others to take up space in my head without paying me rent. It was exhausting, wholly fulfilling, and kept me from enjoying daily doses of Simple Joys.


Now I actively try to keep my balance, refuse to allow others to affect me adversely no matter how stupidly they act, and keep the window of opportunity open to Simple Joys to find me.

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

The Wizard of Oz. For a couple of weeks before my daughter’s fourth birthday she became curious about and enamored with The Wizard of Oz.

As a child I watched the annual television showing with my father and was dazzled each and every time it was aired.

I gifted the movie to my daughter for her birthday. Owning the movie and sharing it with my daughter and my sons has brought back wonderful memories as I see the delight in their eyes discovering this classic and timeless film.

Experiencing The Wizard of Oz with my children is a powerful Simple Joy.

Trunk or Treat. The Cub Scouts has provided endless Simple Joys for our family. Last year we experienced our first Trunk or Treat – trick or treating in a controlled environment with decorated car trunks. Eh, either you understand or you have to see it for yourself.

This year we anticipated greatly getting able to don our Halloween costumes collectively as a family to score candy two weeks before the actual holiday.

Our unusually warm weather ceased the day of the Trunk or Treat so my scheduled Greek Goddess costume I deemed too revealing for the temperatures. Within an hour I had fashioned my own costume that would work beautifully in tandem with my husband’s.

Getting another chance at childhood fun at the Trunk or Treat is now an annual and much anticipated Simple Joy.

Dale Jr. Watching NASCAR races while “covering” the race online is part of my job but is truly a joy. A lot of the friends at Drafting the Circuits Facebook page are Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans. I try to keep them updated with every race I cover and feel terribly for them when Dale Jr. doesn’t have a good run or experiences bad luck.

Even though I had personal plans with my family and dear friends on Sunday I was given permission by the hostess to work the race during the party we attended.

I couldn’t watch the race but followed it online via several different sources. It was a banner day to see Dale Jr. in the lead and vying for the win for much of the contest. Unfortunately Dale Jr. was not the victor, he was the runner-up. Regardless, feeling the energy through my computer of his fans’ excitement and will to spur him to victory was an electric Simple Joy.

Milky Way Bars. I’ve always been a Snickers girl. I have always enjoyed the confection with peanuts that “really satisfies”. Milky Way Bars seemed like a Snickers that forgot something.

But this year, after purchasing a variety pack of Mars fun-size candy bars for our early Halloween celebration – Snickers, Milky Way, and Three Musketeer Bars – I tried the Milky Way Bar in earnest.

It is absolutely delicious! Scrumptious! Decadent! Wholly freakin’ great!

I still love Snickers and Snickers PB, but the Milky War Bar is now a Simple Joy I will entertain more when it is around.

My husband. Yes, he’s on the list a lot. I won’t apologize as these are my personal Simple Joys. Each week – each day – my husband finds a way to make me feel sexy and special. He equally hangs on my words and likes to just sit quietly with me. We run in myriad directions with the children and sometimes don’t have a moment alone until bedtime, but I know he is always thinking of me.

Marriage can be the casualty when having a family. It takes a far backseat to deadlines, homework, Karate, and bake sales. But by making our marriage a priority despite the busy lives we lead, we are defying the odds and staying together… happily.

Having my husband by my side is not only my supreme Simple Joy, it is my life.

Amid all of the fun, family time, and festivities, there were major stresses brought on by an individual this past week.
In my past I would have allowed that individual to have a long-lasting adverse effect on me.

I got angry but let it go quickly.

The person was not worth it. At all. By taking away his “power” over my emotions I won.

My Simple Joys were intact and my faith in myself to continue walking on the path to strength, serenity, hope, and peace was unobstructed for the rest of the time.

I hope reading my Simple Joys inspires you to think of all of the Simple Joys you experience in any given week. Whether you write them down like I do, say them aloud, or merely think about them, recognizing Simple Joys is the recipe for inviting more to find you.

Wishing you all a week filled with a multitude of Simple Joys.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

In any given week there is so much that can wreck sanity, serenity, and peace. That’s just life.

But with a positive attitude, a fighting spirit, and the tools to know how, Simple Joys can permeate your life and make it not only tolerable but full of joy.

For those suffering it may seem unattainable and impossible for Simple Joys to be a part of one’s life. Pain, fear, anger and frustration are powerful and all-encompassing.

But it truly is a choice to change one’s attitude, to strive for a happier life, and to open oneself up to the Simple Joys that exist for all.

It’s not always easy and many are the times we need to ask for help – from doctors, from God/Higher Power, from friends and family. But in admitting weakness we are stronger than ever before if we reach out for help and accept it.

Simple Joys are never truly out of reach, we just forget how to access them sometimes. Open your heart and your mind to the possibility that Simple Joys will enter your life and they will! It really is that simple!

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

Music. I can’t explain it, words fail. The feeling I get when a song comes on I love defies logic. The organic, chemical feeling that courses through my body when the song resonates deeply with me is so powerful.

It’s not one type of music, one artist or band; the songs vary. I could be listening to music from my past, something new and wonderful, or even a Christmas song that I adore and my mood is elevated, I am newly inspired and enriched, and I carry the feeling for a long time.

Surrounding me with my favorite music is a Simple Joy that keeps me going with a smile on my face and in my heart.

NASCAR tradition. I watch NASCAR races as a fan but also to educate myself for writing articles and doing radio about NASCAR’s Cup series as well as the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series. I enjoy watching the races with my online friends and fellow fans.

I do my best to tune into the races before the green flag falls so I can soak in the traditions that make our sport great.
From the pre-race prayer to the singing of the National Anthem that makes my heart swell with pride, especially when every driver, crew member, and audience member stands quietly and reverently while it is sung with hands over their hearts or saluting, I am awed by the continuity these traditions provide for race fans.

These actions pull at my heartstrings, keep me connected to my sport, and provide me with Simple Joys week in and week out during the racing season.

Leaves. My husband is a very good man. He stayed home on Saturday to mow the lawn and rake the leaves on our property while I took the three children to swim lessons at the Y.

When we returned to the house a few hours later my husband was showered and excited. He had made the biggest leaf pile we had ever seen in the back yard. The children (and I ) had the absolute best time – with reckless abandon – jumping into the leaves, throwing the leaves, and burying each other in the leaves!

Enjoying autumn in all of its glory with my children in reckless abandon is a Simple Joy I cherish and hope to remember for a lifetime.

Pumpkin picking. Like jumping in leaf piles, picking pumpkins annually is another tradition our family holds dear. We have been going to the same farm for over a decade with our family and watch as the children grow, the memories collect, and the fall festivities mount.
Their childhood is so fleeting; we feel so lucky to have the children all still look forward to this yearly trek to pick the pumpkins, play on the playground, and spend quality time together.

Pumpkin picking is an annual Simple Joy that makes our autumn spectacular!

My husband. In this cold, bleak, callous, pessimistic world in which we live I have a man who loves me unconditionally, finds me outrageously attractive after age, three children and a ton of extra pounds have quite literally weighed me down, and is still my very best friend.

Divorce is common in the world today. But I cannot imagine my life without my husband; my best friend, my lover, the father of my children, my rock, and, quite frankly, my everything. I will happily stick with the marriage.

The formula for my Simple Joys begins, contains, and ends with my husband.

Having him in my life is an ongoing, continuous, and awe-inspiring Simple Joy.

I have been blessed with much in my life, but I have also suffered greatly. Pain of all kinds have been inflicted, suffering on many levels has been experienced, and there were times that giving up seemed the best idea. Simple Joys were nowhere to be found.

But deep down I dug to hold on to hope, trust in my Higher Power, and put a smile on my face. There are choices in life daily. I choose each day to look for the good in people, embrace the positive, and find my Simple Joys.

These are my personal lists of Simple Joys I post weekly.

I stumble, fall, get hurt, make mistakes, get angry, resentful, and pissy like the rest of the world. But I try each and every day to start over, put the smile back on my face, look for the good, give others kind words, and forgive others and myself.

Writing Simple Joys gives me a positive perspective on life. It forces me to count my blessings and stay focused on what is good.

I hope reading my Simple Joys inspires you to open your heart to yours. Whether you write yours down, say them out loud, or merely think of them, acknowledging your Simple Joys opens the door wider for ever more to find you.

Wishing you all a week filled with Simple Joys.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

Every week brings new challenges, different feelings, and the mundaneness of the same.

Life just is.

If we plan, God laughs.

If we give up we’re forced to keep going, and if we relax we are able to see the Simple Joys that exist all around.

There are Simple Joys for all – they are not for only one kind of person. We are all eligible for experiencing the Simple Joys that exist for us. It takes an open mind, a willing heart, and the smallest window of opportunity to allow Simple Joys to enter our lives.

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

Maturity. My oldest child is a sixth grader experiencing his first year of middle school. He was assigned a project due a week after it was announced but my son was going to be camping with the Boy Scouts over the weekend severely limiting his time to work.

Although I was the one who suggested the schedule, my son dove into the assignment working on Friday after school and Sunday after the camping trip to finish the project – three days ahead of schedule.

This may seem like an inconsequential story, but it shows me the leaps and bounds my son has grown maturity-wise. I continue to see the flicker of manhood still being suppressed by the sweet young boy.

Watching my son blossom into a responsible student is a breath-taking Simple Joy.

Date Night. Opportunity presented itself for me to spend time alone with my middle child. He and I rarely find ourselves alone with one another as he has an older and younger sibling who are ever-present. But Friday night was our night.

From walking hand-in-hand to dining on dinner out and he ordering two desserts, my seven-year-old son and I bonded greatly over frozen yogurt and churros. We spent a great deal of time playing Legos and just talking. We’ve decided to do this much more often.

Discovering ever more about my middle son by actually spending quality time with him is a Simple Joy I plan to take advantage much more frequently.

The Girl. She is my appendage. She is my love. She is… so very spirited. And, a lot of the times, she is difficult. That’s probably more about me and the schedule I keep than her, but we struggle and I always feel guilty about it.

Over the weekend we were able to attend a function at her nursery school. As any parent knows, children act far differently away from home than they do at home. Watching my daughter in her element, reacting to adults differently than she does her father and me, was a complete treat.

My daughter followed directions the first time, was able to stand still, and was a delightful young lady the entire time we were there.

Realizing that my daughter is growing into an independent, thoughtful, and sweet child in public was a relief of a Simple Joy.

Working the Chase Race. Spending time online while NASCAR races are on is part of my job – a job I adore. Currently we are in the middle of our “play-offs” in Cup so each race is vastly important to who will be crowned champion in November.

Regardless of how many hang with me, I do my job if I’m home and able to do so. This past Sunday was so much fun the hours melted away and I felt I had made a whole new slew of friends! And what I love best of all is they are all so kind, sweet, and lovely to me.

Spending time at work with people who make me smile, blush, laugh, and think is a very rewarding Simple Joy.

My husband. I’m thinking of making this a permanent category on Simple Joys. Marriage works best when you think of yourself as a team – no one person more important, smarter, or stronger, just two parts of a whole.

Like any fallible human being I had forgotten how to work as a team for a while recently. Frustration, miscommunication, and stupidity ensued. I finally found my way back. I am so much better, stronger, smarter, and fierce as a part of our team than isolating on my own.

We were separated over the weekend for one night and a day and a half. It felt like an eternity to me. When we were finally able to decompress after the children were put to bed on Sunday night we just were together. Alone. And that is the single greatest Simple Joy of my week.

These are my obviously personal – and, perhaps to a readership, boring – Simple Joys. I write them to keep my perspective. I write them to keep gratitude in my life and keep negativity at bay.

As I mentioned earlier in the post, I am human and thus fallible. Writing Simple Joys keeps me on the path of thoughtfulness, thankfulness, as well as keeping me in the moment.

I hope that you take some time each week to think of, jot down, or at least visualize your Simple Joys. Once you do – no matter what life is throwing at you at the moment – you, too, will start experiencing Simple Joys regularly, unexpectedly, and happily.

Wishing you a week filled with Simple Joys.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

There are times in life that are trying. When reason gives way to chaos, rational thought disappears, and sanity is more fiction than reality; Simple Joys are casualties.

When I lose my way on the path of Life I’m so very grateful to know that I have people in my life who love me, refuse to judge me, and reach a hand out to me to guide me back.

I am lucky. I am blessed. And I have been able to refocus and find my Simple Joys.

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

Purple tights and black ankle boots. I have never been overly fashionable preferring to express myself in other ways besides clothing. I love color but stick to black. Recently I purchased a pair of fashion-forward purple jewel-toned tights and a pair of black leather ankle boots.

My daughter usually dresses like a Princess when we go out. She always instructs me to dress like a Queen. I’m not sure how others view me, but my daughter is always so pleased with my choices to fulfill her command.

When I dressed to go to my son’s awards night for Scouts last Friday night I premiered my purple tights with an old “LBD” (little black dress) and my ankle boots. It was not my usual look but I felt sassy and fun! My daughter kept telling me, "You look so pretty, Mommy!"

Stepping outside of my norm and playing with my fashion was a most flirty and fun Simple Joy.

Scout awards. After a summer filled with activities, camp, long active days, and fun-filled active nights, the school year and scout season began simultaneously. For both my Boy Scout and Cub Scout the previous week was awards night at Scouts.

Hearing and seeing how much my boys had earned respectively made me overwhelmed with pride and so thankful for their love of Scouting. My husband always says everything cool he learned as a kid he learned in Scouting.

Knowing my boys have the same opportunities to learn lifelong skills and make lifelong friendships is a Simple Joy that gives me peace.

Rush. When movies are heavily promoted, built up before release, and given much fanfare, I become disillusioned and rarely like the finished product as much as I had hoped to originally.

Rush is the exception.

Although I am a race fan I believe this movie is excellent on many levels. The story is compelling – and true – the acting superb, and the racing sequences phenomenal.

Seeing the movie on opening weekend was a bonus but the entire process of seeing this movie, from trailers leading up to its release to the actual viewing, has been a most rewarding Simple Joy.

Patrick Dempsey: Racing Le Mans. This miniseries documentary came out a few weeks ago and my husband DVR'd it so we could watch it in its entirety at our leisure.

We were slow to get to episode one, but now we are fully engaged. The subject matter is fascinating to us both. I was a fan of Dempsey the actor from his Grey’s Anatomy role, but his real-life passion to be a real racecar driver like Steve McQueen, James Garner, and Paul Newman before him lend itself to magic on screen.

Watching this well-done project is a purely delightful, educational, and fascinating Simple Joy.

My husband’s embrace. Marriage is so difficult to navigate at times. When the road goes one way my tires veer off path at times. Ego, stubbornness, and embarrassment can lead to isolation and resentments. But my husband, always putting his love for me, for us, first, held out a proverbial peace offering.
By accepting I was granted the truly most sacred and highest held Simple Joy I know: being in his warm, caring, accepting, and always loving embrace.

What I have learned over the years writing Simple Joys is that I am human in every sense of the word. I am fallible, I err, and I fumble. My mistakes are often repeated and my evolution is slow and cumbersome.

But I have also learned that I’ve been blessed to find Simple Joys throughout the good and bad. I’ve been challenged and met the challenge. I’ve been pained and got through the pain. I’ve been childlike and selfish and have grown from my weaknesses.

Mostly I’ve learned that I have all of the Simple Joys I could ever want in the family I created. My husband, my oldest boy, my middle boy, my little girl, … and me.

Wishing you all a week full of self-realizations and Simple Joys.