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So, I read this blog by Sarah Smiles Awhile: Seven Things That Are Underrated (if you ask me)…. and am totally ready to create my own list.  The only problem is, I would have to steal at least 3 of hers.  Not creative on my part, but totally truthful. 

1. I agree that those limp handshakes by some women remind me of holding onto a dead fish (yes, I have done that–hold onto a dead fish, I mean).  No limp handshakes from me.  I despise them. 

2. And there is nothing better than sending or receiving a handwritten letter via snail mail.  It’s such a refreshing experience to open the mailbox and NOT find a bill, a piece of junk mail or catalog or that (currently) inevitable piece of political propaganda coming from one of several candidates for office.   I’m all for getting mail that makes me smile…awhile. 

3. And then, there’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (otherwise known as Triple D).  I watch and re-watch episodes and when visiting new areas of the country, I seek out places that have been featured.  Invariably, I enjoy myself.  So, thanks, Sarah Smiles – for the reminder and the inspiration.  Now, here’s my list (or the remainder of my list):

4.  The soft breath of my cat, curled up on the bed next to me, whiskers brushing my neck as I read a good book on a rainy afternoon. 

My little baby, Tang, snoozing away on a rainy day.

Nothing makes me feel more content.  I can’t imagine being more relaxed.

 5.  The joy of making something for someone else…with my own hands.  Either a crafty thing, a baked thing or a whole meal.  It’s such a pleasure to do for someone else, when they least expect it.  Not for a birthday or an anniversary or because they are celebrating a new job.  Just to celebrate that they ARE. 

6. Paying it forward.  Yes, a trendy thing, but it feels soooooooooo good.  To do something for a total stranger and just imagine the surprise when they receive whatever it is you’ve done for them.  And then not telling ANYONE you did it.  That is your secret.  Your joy.  No one else’s to weaken the gift you’ve given.  Because by telling someone, are you not seeking recognition?  Then it isn’t as powerful.  Doing something for someone in need and then telling no one is much more amazing.

7. A sad movie.  The cathartic release after crying over a sad movie.  It draws out all that pent-up emotion.  Enough said.

Thanks, Sarah Smiles.  You’ve given me a lot to think about. 

What are your Seven Things That Are Underrated?

“The best thing in life aren’t things.”~ John Ruskin

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Everyone I know plans their vacations in different ways.  I know someone who has a basic idea of the destination and no real idea of how to get there…hit the road and stop along the way, enjoying the sights and sounds of places never before seen.  And she’ll eventually get to her destination…or not.  It’s all about the journey and the joy of discovering something new.  I admire that kind of lack of planning.  But I can’t do it.

Another friend lets someone else do all the planning.  She’s along for the ride.  It doesn’t matter where she’s going as long as there is no work involved in the planning process (for her).  I could NEVER do that (I’m a little bit of a control freak, I admit). 

There are people who hit the road with no destination, no plan and not much money.  Whatever needs to be bartered for or traded for is taken care of.  Well, I bet you can guess my feelings on this lack of planning. 

I, on the other hand, am the planner extraordinaire.  My old boss (who now lives in California) got a kick out of the fact that I planned all my vacations on spreadsheets.  Yes, Excel is my friend.  I have one sheet that deals with what I will pack (and if there are multiple suitcases, what is in each).  Another sheet is dedicated to what I will do on my vacation.  It includes any confirmation numbers for reservations, times (exact or expected) when I will be doing each activity and who I will see each day (if visiting friends and/or family).  I don’t want to miss out on anything by forgetting to do something.  Yes, that’s my way.  Excel.  Or should I say Excel-lent???  (insert childish giggle)

My hubby is of the “let someone else plan it and go along for the ride” school.  We get along great when planning vacations!  I get my way and he appreciates not having to work on it.  And just a sidenote:  I am getting antsy, because we have a vacation coming up soon and I haven’t started my spreadsheet yet!  That’s my chore for tomorrow.  Oh, what a relief that will be. 

How do you plan your vacations? 

“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.” ~ Victor Hugo

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Not that I can think of anyone who doesn’t.  Surprises are so much fun!  And today, as I opened my pending comments section of this blog, I was overjoyed to find that The Geezer had sent me one of those spectacularly joyful surprises…a compliment.  As I read the comment/compliment, I found myself smiling.  I had received a warm fuzzy through the blogosphere and it made my day.  Such a small amount of time that it took to send that message, but what a reaction!  I can only hope that someday I can return the favor.  You see, Geezer did for me exactly what I would do for him…he complimented my blog.  He and his lovely Sandy are my escape into the dog world.  Being a servant to two cats, I find that sometimes I long for the unconditional adoration and love of a dog.  (Me adoring and loving the dog, not the other way around.)  I guess my cats have trained me well.  I am on this earth to cater to my furballs. 

I digress.  Thank you to Geezer and to Sandy for the joy that I received today and I will gladly pass on the award (as soon as I have finished patting myself on the back).  As the recipient of the Versatile Blogger Award, I find myself puffing up with pride.  🙂  Now, on to the rules that come with the award:

They include: 

  1. Post a link back to the person who gave you the award (Done–see the hyperlink on Sandy’s name above),
  2. Share seven random things about yourself (oh, boy…now I have to think??),
  3. Award fifteen blogs you’ve discovered and like (do I have fifteen I visit?), and
  4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.  (That’s the best part!)

So, here are the blogs I love and would gladly award the Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. http://antiquemommy.com
  2. http://drabblerouser.wordpress.com/
  3. http://www.slouchingmom.com/
  4. http://nerdyapplebottom.com/
  5. http://sandysays1.wordpress.com/
  6. http://www.mummy-time.com/
  7. http://www.wendyweekendgourmet.blogspot.com/
  8. http://motherrimmy.com/
  9. I choose to keep my list of award winners as exclusive as possible, so I’m stopping with these eight…my favorites.  However, I reserve the right to add others to the list as I feel the inclination. 

And now, here are seven random things about me:

  1. I love to cook, but hate doing dishes.
  2. Clean sheets on the bed and freshly shaved legs almost cause a sensory overload!
  3. My car makes me smile…I worked hard to get it and have wanted this particular make and model for so many years!  It’s a shame I waited this long to have this particular car. 
  4. I love walking in the rain…the smell of dust settling and the refreshing clean air afterwards is another sensory overload.  I stop and close my eyes and breathe deeply.  The earth has been refreshed!
  5. I collect ribbons.  Those lovely, wired ribbons that are for wrapping packages.  I visit Costco and drool over the great selection of wired ribbons. 
  6. I love roadtrips.  There is no vacation as relaxing as a roadtrip.  Stopping when you want, where you want and taking the time to visit those tiny towns no one has ever heard of to check out a little bakery, an “antique” store or a diner is like stepping into an alternate universe for a few hours. 
  7. I live in South Texas, but really am not overly fond of Tex-Mex or Mexican food.  My hubby says I’ll never get my Texas citizenship if I keep talking that way.

Geezer, Sandy, thank you both for stopping by and brightening my day.

“I feel like a tiny bird with a big song!” ~ Jerry Van Amerongen, Ballard Street, 08-18-05

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Recently, I attended the third in a four-part series of one-day retreats on leadership. The series examines the four seasons and how they relate to leadership and to our lives. I must admit, Spring has always been my favorite season and that was reinforced by the retreat’s activities and discussions.  At the end of the session, we were asked how we would like the world to be as we were lying on our death bed.  It may sound gruesome, but it was eye-opening.  So many of us looked for the “perfect” world–kindness toward each other, no discrimination, no starvation or homelessness, no more dependence on oil, no wars.  It was simply a view of utopia.  And it sounded wonderful. 

Strangely, that’s almost how spring makes me feel.  It’s a fresh beginning of hope as plants peek through the earth, leaves and blossoms start to appear in the trees and the sun shines, warm rains fall and the earth is washed clean of the grime and gloom of winter.  Spring is joyful.  Spring is life-affirming.  Spring is a new beginning.  It’s so nice to have a new beginning each year.   

Pink and White Dogwoods

One of the sure signs that Spring has sprung is the redbud tree in my back yard.  Nothing makes me smile more than redbud trees, daffodils and tulips, and dogwood trees. 

In Texas, though, the sure sign of Spring is bluebonnets.  They are, if we are lucky and it’s been a fairly wet winter and early Spring, everywhere!  Fields and fields of bluebonnets and other wild flowers appear out of nowhere.  And the smell of those wild flowers!  Wow!  It is indescribable!

Texas Bluebonnets

When I feel the need to be refreshed, I look at the pictures of the redbuds, dogwoods, and bluebonnets.  And I feel like celebrating again. 
Now I am off to work on my homework from the leadership session.  By May, I need to do something (or several somethings) to work toward that utopia…that world I would like to have when I am on my deathbed.  And no time like the present…when Spring has sprung, my redbud is beautifully in bloom, I feel like celebrating life and everything seems possible.

My redbud tree

‘The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hillside’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!”
~Robert Browning

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30 Days of Truth

I was reading a blog I visit when I can and found an interesting idea…she got the idea from another blog.  So, as usual, we feed off of each other, borrow the best ideas and hope that we give back occasionally.  Thanks to Hope, I have this list of blog topics…30 Days of Truth.  Below is the list and I’ll start this as I find the time.  I may not be able to write 30 days in a row, but I’m going to try to complete the list as soon as possible.

The List

THE LIST

Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.

Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.

Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.

Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.

Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.

Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.

Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.

Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.

Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.

Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.

Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)

Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)

Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.

Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.

Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.

Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?

Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.

Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?

Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.

Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.

Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)

Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.

Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?

Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?

Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?

Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.

Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself.

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