Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Set Me Free

Set me free to live for today. Set me free to live in gratitude. Bless my intention.

I made the word THANKFUL my focus for 2017. I think this image sums up what I am looking for by being Thankful. I look to be present in each moment of the day. It has been quite difficult this month with all the hoopla of a new president taking office and all the executive orders he has signed. His actions are no longer hypothetical, but are reality. They have very real consequences for very real people.

Quite often my mind is jumping from one task to another. I want to be intentional. This is where my planner comes in handy. If I find my mind jumping from one thought to another or coming up with a list of things I want to do, I pull out my planner and start making lists. I either just write them in the to -do boxes or I start writing them in specific days. Once I do that, my mind feels emptier (no comments from the Peanut Gallery :) ) and then I can decide what I want to focus on.

Being intentional is very important. Being thankful is very important too. I have learned to take one day at a time. And there are days I need to take it one hour at a time. So remember to be thankful for something every day. Be intentional with your words, your actions and your thoughts. If you have to write in your planner to be thankful, then do it. Think of it as a gentle reminder to be aware of your life and all that you have in it and to say THANKS.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

I have reason to be thankful

Well, this past week has been quite a .......not really sure what to call it. Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States a week ago. That is still sinking in for me.  I catch my breath every time I see video of him on television now and the news reporter says, "President Trump..." How in the world did this happen? Sigh.

Anyway, as I wrote before, THANKFUL is my word for 2017. My goal is to post on this blog twice a week. One of the posts will be about something I am THANKFUL for. After the past 8 days we need to reminded of what we have to be THANKFUL for.

I am thankful for the right to freedom of speech. I can speak my mind freely without the fear of repercussion of the government. We need to remember we have that freedom and to fight to hold onto it.

I am thankful for my husband who encourages me to get involved in politics and speak my mind. He has even suggested I look more into local politics and thinks I would enjoy doing it. Maybe even running for a local office....not sure about that, but I am interested in learning more about local politics.

I am thankful for the brave and energized women who organized the Womens' March in DC and all the other organizers around the country and the world who planned marches last weekend. They have a passion and energy that cannot be dismissed or diminished.

I am thankful for my faith. I am a Christian. I make no apologies for that. I am thankful for Jesus Christ for many things among them the lessons He taught us. He taught us to care for the weak, the outcast, the hungry, the poor, the least among us. I love this scripture that illustrates this lesson perfectly. This version is from the Common English Bible (CEB), book of Matthew, Chapter 25 starting at the 34th verse.

34“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’37“Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40“Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Get away from me, you who will receive terrible things. Go into the unending fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels. 42I was hungry and you didn’t give me food to eat. I was thirsty and you didn’t give me anything to drink. 43I was a stranger and you didn’t welcome me. I was naked and you didn’t give me clothes to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’44"Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ 45 Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment. But the righteous ones will go into eternal life."
For those that claim to be Christian, remember this lesson. When we help the least of our brothers and sisters, we are helping Him. The One who died for us. I am incredibly thankful for this lesson and will do my best to carry it forward.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

New Planner - What Do I Do Now?

The New Year is so exciting. We have a clean slate of opportunities. We put the past year behind us and we are ready for the wonder and opportunities of the new year.

You bought a new planner for 2017. You have looked on Pinterest for ideas on how to set it up or decorate it and there is a whole world of planner geeks on social media. It can get overwhelming and you may not know where to start. I have a few tips that I have learned.

Some people decorate every inch of their planner and to me it seems very little is written on the pages. That works for some people and good for them. Have at it! If you don't feel you are the creative or artsy type, don't fret! You make your planner fit you.

First thing - breathe. Take a deep breath and relax. I love filling out my planner. It is very relaxing to me because it means I can not think about those tasks 24/7. They are written down and they won't be forgotten, because i will check my planner every day.

Second, use a pencil. Trust me, you'll feel better. Take a pencil and write in all known appointments, work schedules, school schedules, family events, get togethers, holidays, etc. If you know something is coming up, but you don't have a set date yet, like a baby or bridal shower, write a note at the start of the month you think the event will be to look for the invite to come in the mail. This is a great way to get an idea of what time you will have available for vacations or weekend getaways.

Third, how do you want these events to stand out, if at all. If you find yourself constantly marking these out and re-writing you may want to only use pencil in your planner. If you love ink, there are erasable pens. Frixion makes erasable pens that I have heard rave reviews about. I may need to add them to my stash. Do you want to highlight appointments? Would you like to write on stickers or just decorate the page? Some people color code items. Personally, I only color code based on person. For example, appointments or events that are primarily for me, I highlight orange. It doesn't matter if it is a doctor's appointment, volunteer shift or a church meeting. Now some people color code by activity. That could work if the planner is just for you and not for family members. So work may be purple, church may be yellow, housework is green, volunteer work is pink, doctor appointments are red. Some people color code by highlighter or by pen/marker.

For this particular week, appointments/activities are highlighted.

Fourth, do you want to decorate your pages? Or do you just want to decorate birthdays and holidays? Or nothing at all. My suggestion to you is start slowly. If you like the idea of highlighters, then buy a couple of highlighters and use those for a week or even a month. If that works for you, you found your thing! If you feel you need more, then think about holiday/birthday stickers or are do you a favorite animal/icon? Like, do you love owls? There are lots of great owl stickers out there you could get to put your personal touch on the pages. Are you crazy about purple? Well, you could lose your mind with washi tape and stickers in that royal color. Start slow. Try one thing at a time and do not feel pressure to do anything that is not calling your name.

So far in 2017 I have not done much decorating. For this particular weekend, I used some washi tape along the time line and simple weekend banner sticker across Saturday and Sunday.

I can always use some motivation so I like to include motivational stickers or hand written quotes on each week.

Fifth, think about cost. It is so easy to add things to your Etsy cart and your craft store shopping basket and not think about cost. Most planners are not very cheap. My Passion Planner was $30. PP does offer sales throughout the year, so you can subscribe to their newsletter or follow them on social media to find out when items are going on sale. Stickers, tape and pens/markers can get expensive fast. Make a wish list of things you would like to purchase.  Then shop around on Etsy or in craft stores and get an idea of cost. Join their newsletters to get coupons or find out when items are going on sale. Then buy what you really want and what fits your budget. And only purchase what you will use in a reasonable amount of time. I say that as someone who has quite a few rolls of washi tapes and sheets of stickers that are not being used right now.

I hope these tips are helpful. The important thing to remember is to have fun with this. Take your time, enjoy the process and you never know, you just might find you have a creative streak.

Show me what you got!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Going Classic

New Year, new planner. Who am I kidding? I usually change planners half way through the year. Typically I get undated planners or planners that allow for a July/August start. Usually I set up my calendar for August to June since my daughter's school usually starts in August. I decided to go crazy in 2017 and actually start my planner with a January date!

In the past I have used Filofax, Erin Condren Life Planner, Planner Pad and Passion Planner. Recently I was using the compact size of the Passion Planner. For 2017 I decided to go with the classic size (8x11) Passion Planner.

This is my compact size Passion Planner I used for most of 2016. It fit perfectly in almost all of my bags.

This is the undated classic size Passion Planner.

I used number stickers from etsy shop for the daily dates and washi tape for the "Week of."
For the monthly pages, I used stickers from etsy shop to label each month and hand wrote in the dates.

For my my planner has to be useful. I love stickers, highlighters and markers like the next planner geek, but I need to write down my appointments and my daily to dos. If i don't do that, then nothing gets done. So my decorating is minimal, but helpful. I do have a color coding system of sorts - blue for daughter, orange for me and yellow for hubby. Now those colors are for highlighters only. I use different color washi tape for all sorts of things :)

I hand write in my appointments. I write in events days, weeks, months in advance. I have to. I am extremely involved in our church and we have extended family we spend lots of time with and of course our daughter's schedule, I need to have everything written down so I know when we have free time. I used to update my planner once a week, now I look at it every day and will update it as needed.

So far I am liking the larger size of the planner. I think I will be able to write down more of my daily to do tasks in the day as well as in the blocks at the bottom of the page. I am a homemaker and volunteer so there are tasks to manage from multiple sources. I am sure there will be days when I will washi tape the times because they won't be necessary that day and write out in list form what needs to be done.

I belong to a few planner groups on facebook and there are more and more people who feel overwhelmed and intimidated by ornately decorated planner pages. For some people planners are more like journals and scrapbooks and the decorating is their art form. And then people like me need the planner to get stuff done and any decorating is just to add some color to it. Don't feel like you need to invest in a ton of stickers, markers, pens or highlighters.

I'll write more on that in the next post.

So, I'm going classic in 2017. How about you? What planner or calendar system do you use? Paper? Digital? I would love to hear and see what you use. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

All talk no action

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 - I wrote this post earlier in the week and scheduled it to post and apparently it did not. So here it is.

This past weekend we celebrated the birth of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. One way many people commemorate  his birthday is by performing community service projects. Ideally, we all do some sort of community service during the full year, but MLK Day is a great way to get the habit started.

Instead of focusing on communities pitching in to make improvements, the media focused on Donald Trump's Twitter blast of Representative John Lewis. Mr.Lewis is a civil rights icon who marched alongside Dr. King and has continued fighting for civil rights throughout his personal and professional career. Mr.Lewis stated in an interview that he was not going to attend Mr. Trump's inauguration and said one of his reasons was that Mr. Trump is not a legitimate president.

I understand why Mr. Lewis feels that way, but Mr. Trump's presidency is legitimate. He meets all the constitutional requirements to be president and he garnered enough electoral votes. Mr. Lewis has every right to not attend the inauguration, but I question what message that sends. Mr. Trump does not handle criticism well. His reactions on Twitter are akin to a teenager. And I say that as a parent of a teenager.

Mr. Trump retaliated to Mr. Lewis' criticism by saying that he has not done enough for his home district in Georgia and that he is all talk and no action. Slap against the forehead! What??? Mr. Lewis I think personifies what it means to walk the walk and talk the talk. Mr. Trump's response should have been something like this,"I am sorry Mr. Lewis feels this way. I look forward to meeting with him and finding ways we can work together to make America great for everyone. I appreciate his service to this country by being an elected official and his passion and tireless work in the field of civil rights."

So far I see Mr. Trump as someone with all talk and no action. He is quite blustery and impulsive. He says one thing one day and contradicts himself the next (or even just a few hours later). He really needs to either self-regulate what he tweets or allow his staff to correct or soften his words. I'm glad he has embraced social media and appreciates what it can do in a positive way, but he also needs to understand the negative impact not-well-thought-out tweets can have.

Words can motivate. Words can inspire. But it is action that actually makes change. Action is what makes a difference. Mr. Trump, choose your words carefully and take action.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What is legitimate?

This week our country transfers power from one President to another. Regardless of who you voted for, the way our country transitions power is pretty incredible. People may not be thrilled with the incoming President, but the transition is peaceful.

There has been a lot of talk since the Election Day that President-elect Trump is not a "legitimate" president. Yesterday hubby and I had a really good conversation about this and what it means to be "legitimate."

First of all, legitimate is an adjective that means according to law; lawful; in accordance with established rules, principles or standards. I used the definitions from dictionary.com. 

The United States Constitution has three (3), only three rules for a person to be President. First, they must be at least 35 years old. Second, they must be a natural born US citizen. A person may be born abroad, but only if both parents were citizens of the United States. The only exception to this was for those around at the time the Constitution was adopted. Their requirement was that they had to be a citizen when the Constitution was adopted. The third requirement is the person has to have lived in the United States for at least 14 years to be president. This does not have to be consecutive or even the 14 years leading up to becoming president. (source:americanhistory.about.com)

That's it. Those are the basic minimum requirements to be the President of the United States of America. President-elect Trump meets all of those requirements. Now, he has not followed the norm of previous presidential candidates by not having a legal or political background, releasing his tax returns or completely separate himself from his business ventures. Now recently he has said he has started the process to remove himself from his businesses, but I believe he is planning on having his sons involved in running his business. With Trump's track record of being vague with plans and speaking double speak, I have reservations about his sons being in charge of his business ventures.

Now, is it wrong for a president to make money while in office? No, because all former presidents earn a nice income once they leave office by writing books, going on speaking tours and being consultants in other fields. However, I want the decisions Trump makes in office to be first and foremost beneficial for the country and the American people. What happens if ISIS threatens to blow up a Trump owned building anywhere in the world? Is his response going to be because ISIS is threatening American lives or because it is his property?

So, President-elect Donald Trump is a legitimate president. Is he traditional? Does he follow the norm? No, but it doesn't mean he is not legitimate.  The next four years are unknown. Of course, they would still be unknown of the other candidate had won. So this week we need to take a deep breath, say a prayer for the Trump family and our nation as a whole and take a step out in faith.

There is a lot more to discuss and that will happen. One thing to remember, get involved. Find a cause, use your voice, your time, and yes your money to make a difference. Get involved.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Resting...it's work

I'm four days post bunion surgery. I knew it would be challenging to not put any weight on my foot, but it is a bit more difficult than I thought. You don't realize how much you need your feet until you can't use both of them. Previous surgeries I had were on my my wrists. I could walk, but I couldn't use my hands. Now I can't walk, but can use my hands.

I rented a knee walker to get around. Of course right now getting around entails the 6 feet between the pull out sofa bed and the bathroom, but it is a start. Resting is a bit more challenging than I thought it would be.

The first few days I was home, I very much needed the prescription pain medicine on a regular basis so I slept quite a bit. Today is the first day I have not taken any prescription pain medicine. I just took two regular Tylenol. I am using my Chromebook for the first time and I continue to decorate and write in my new 2017 Passion Planner. Only took one nap today too.

My hubby and daughter went out to separate places this afternoon for a couple of hours. I was feeling a little tired so I took a nap. As I was getting comfy, I had a realization. Bones in my foot are healing. That takes time. And it is work. And it is exhausting. I am using my right leg for balance and strengthening my core to hold myself upright when I get out of bed. Hubby helped me take a shower and get dressed today and that was tiring. It's okay. Tomorrow, I plan on going to my parents' house for dinner.

I think this coming week I will start to feel a little cabin fever, but I have to remember my bones are healing. So resting with no weight bearing for at least another week is on the calendar.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Celebrate Life

Today, hubby and I sang with our church choir for a funeral. The gentleman, Chuck, passed away a month ago from a long battle with cancer. I did not know him very long, but I knew he was quiet, a faithful man, loved his wife Elaine fiercely and was devoted to our church. What I didn't realize was that he had been an elementary school teacher and he was a fan of opera - German opera in particular.

His wife Elaine has been a source of inspiration in many ways to me over the years,but in the final months of Chuck's life and especially over these past four weeks, I am inspired even more. She placed Chuck firmly in God's hands. She prayed that he would pass peacefully. She was convinced and content in her belief that Chuck was in Heaven and he was no longer in discomfort. She smiled, at times through tears, but she always had a smile on her face. You could see she was content, she was at peace.

The service today was beautiful. The Scripture talked about leaning on God and trusting in Him. As a choir we sang "How Can I Keep from Singing" (a favorite of Elaine's) and "Jesus Draw Me Nearer (May this Journey)," a favorite of our choir. There were some tears, but there were mostly smiles and laughter.

I left there thinking, "This is the best funeral I have ever been to." Hubby told Elaine that the service was perfect and he wanted the exact same service for him. Elaine felt the music was the service. Everything that was said or sung today from prayers to scripture to music, was a celebration. Celebration of music, which was very important to Elaine and Chuck, a celebration of God's love and promise to us, and of course just the celebration of Chuck's life itself.

Death is not pleasant. I have lost loved ones and friends and it has devastated me. However, I have learned that you cannot dwell in the passing. Their death is just one moment of their life's story. That moment has its place in your heart and mind, but we most focus on all the living moments. Remember their laugh, the music they loved, how they crinkled their nose when they were perplexed, their not so successful cooking attempt, their love of pets. Remember their smile, how their eyes looked when they held their child for the first time, how their hand felt in yours.

Elaine told us she was lonely and that she missed Chuck terribly, but that it was okay. I believe it will be. She will find her way. Of course she is lonely. It is a natural feeling. So as her church family we will love her through it.

She did give us a piece of advice as we gave her hugs and said our goodbyes today. It was quite simple, "Be good to each other."

Be good to each other. Celebrate life. What else is there?

This is a photo we took on a trip to the Adirondacks a couple of years ago. It just seems to peaceful to me.

Thursday, January 5, 2017


Have you heard of Word of the Year? There is a secular and faith based way to choose your year. One way to do it is to pick one word that represents something you want to focus on in the New Year. A faith based way is to pray to God and ask Him "What do you want me to focus on? How can I grow closer to You?" You may get an answer right away or it could take days even weeks.

Recently, I decided I wanted to have a Sacred Word to focus on in 2017. I felt it would be helpful to me for my prayer life and to help clear my mind so I can focus better. I prayed about it and the word THANKFUL came to mind.

So I make a point every day to thank God for something. Yesterday I was thankful for the persistent rain. I was thankful that my husband came home from work safely. Thankful that my daughter had a safe day at school. (The school is very safe,but with the amount of school shootings that have happened over the years, I am always thankful it hasn't happened in our school district.)


I am thankful for my husband.
I am thankful for my daughters.
I am thankful for my husband's job.
I am thankful for excellent health insurance.
I am thankful.

Do you have a word of the year? What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


This week's focus is preparation. Next week I am having an outpatient surgery on my left foot. I am having bunion surgery. I had heard of bunions but never knew what they were. I always thought it was some sort of growth on the foot. Nope. One of the bones in my big toe is pushed out and it can be quite painful. Thank goodness for the bunion gel pads I found in the drug store.

Anyway, next week is the procedure and the doctor told me I have to stay off my foot for at least two weeks. I am a stay at home mom and do the majority of the housework and shopping. My hubby will be taking time off from work to stay home with me and help me. So this week I will do the grocery shopping and stock up on some favorite, easy meals for us.

This will be the third surgery I've had in a year. I had two wrist surgeries in 2016. Preparing for surgery is old hat to me by now and I have a standard check list of things to do the best I can before the procedure.

First, clear my calendar for the recovery time. Let hubby know our daughter's schedule so he can drive her to and from her activities. I also clear my calendar of any commitments I have. If it is a doctor's appointment then I reschedule or if it is a meeting or event, then I recuse myself from it.

Next, I go through my recipe list, which I have on www.pepperplate.com, and pick four or five recipes that I can prepare ahead of time. I only do 4 or 5 because we eat leftovers and there will be at least one fast food trip and we tend to have Sunday dinner with my folks every week. I pick recipes that can be frozen easily.

Then, I go over the instructions for prep given to me by my doctor. I usually need to stop taking ibuprofen and vitamin and supplements five to seven days before surgery. I make a note in my calendar to remind me every day to not take those. If I am having pain, Tylenol is usually okay to take.

I also start gathering items or supplies I may need after surgery. For my last wrist surgery I needed to have alcohol wipes to use three times a day over my stitches. I made sure I had gauze pads to place over my stitches when I wore my wrist brace after the wrapping came off. This time around I bought a foot sleeve to protect it in the shower. I made phone calls today and got information on renting a Roller Scooter to help me get around the first few weeks.

Finally, I make sure laundry is done and put away. I go through my closet and find clothes that will be comfortable and appropriate to wear the day of the surgery and the next few days. Since the target area is my foot I figure my sweatpants and boot leg cut pants will be needed. Dresses would work too. I have discovered LuLaRoe clothing and I fell in love with their Carly dresses. I figure they will work in the clothes rotation.

Lessons learned each time make the next time easier. The one thing I definitely need to tell the doctor next week is I need pain medicine that works. The one I had for my last wrist surgery did absolutely nothing for me the first twenty four hours. I do not want to go through that again.

As annoying as it is to have another procedure, I am hopeful that this will be the last one for quite some time and peaceful that I am doing everything I can to prepare ahead of time.

If you have a surgery or procedure coming up this year, feel free to use my tips to help yourself or a loved one. Let me know what are some things you do to prepare for a surgery.