I have been an empty nester for ten years now, since my step-son Chris moved out of the house at eighteen years old. How time flies and how soon we forget the joys of having kids around 24/7. I was recently reminded when Mark’s kids, Hailey and Tyson, age 10 and 8, moved in with us.
Our simple routine of getting up in the morning and getting ourselves to work has totally changed. We now have to get two kids up, fed, dressed, lunches made and driven to school. We thought our lives were busy before!
It’s funny how things we used to do as a parent without thinking, we now have to re-learn. We have to remember to check their backpacks for homework and notes from the teachers. They are basically telling us what needs to be done because we have forgotten.
I am not sure why I am not feeling a lot more stressed. I seem to remember I was much more stressed the first time around. I don't know why I have more patience, but I do. Does that come with age? Or from being a grandma?
Everyone keeps asking, “How is it being a full time mom again?” and are surprised when I say “Good!” A lot of that has to do with Mark. He is a wonderful dad and takes a lot of the responsibility. He does most of it; I just fill in when his work schedule doesn’t allow it.
In the ten years since having kids around I realize I have learned a few things.
I do not have to shout to get my point across. Gentle persuasion works much better than getting angry. Taking a few moments to talk to them about their day makes a huge difference. It makes me wish I could go back and do things all over again with Chris. I wish I knew then, what I know now.
It has been a wonderful experience having Hailey and Tyson here. They are great kids and I see such potential in them and I am excited to be a part of watching them grow. Each day I grow closer to them and want to be a positive influence on them. I love to see them laugh and play and have fun and I want to be a part of it.
I can’t believe how much more cooking, more dishes, more laundry, more cleaning, and more groceries, two kids can make. I also can’t believe how much more laughs, more giggles, more hugs, more fun, more playing, and more love fills our home. Having them here definitely makes life more rosey!
Recently, my siblings and I had the unfortunate task of moving our mom into a long-term care facility. As her zest for life diminishes, and the sparkle in her beautiful loving eyes is fading, we try to make every moment we have with her now special. This is one of those moments.
For Valentine's Day, I wanted to share with you a love story. A love story that is short but sweeter than the most decadent chocolate on earth. It is about a beautiful lady, my mom Irene, and my step-dad Lynn Marshall. He came into our lives very unexpectedly. Six years ago mom went to the Senior's Centre and Lynn asked her to dance. They danced beautifully together, and they have been dancing ever since.
Not long after she met Lynn we noticed a big difference in our mom. She was smiling all the time. She was giggling like a schoolgirl. We asked her what was making her so happy, as we hadn’t seen her smile so much since before our dad died. She said, “I think I’m in love!”
It was a love affair like no other. They acted like high school sweethearts. They were always holding hands, would sit side-by-side, and spent every minute together.
Six months later Mom and Lynn were married. He was 82; she was 77. We were very happy for them, but as any child would say to their mother, are you sure about this? Are you rushing into things? Both her and Lynn responded, “No, at this age we don’t have a lot of time to waste.”
We had never seen our mom so happy. Lynn made her laugh often. He would sing little ditties to her. I am not sure if they were actual songs or if he made them up. If he did, he was a great poet.
This man we now called Dad was in better shape at 82 than most people half his age. You would see him cycling down the highway, going distances of 40 kms or more. Going up hill was nothing for him, while most of us would have to get off and walk the bike up.
He had his own vocabulary. I think he made up his own words. We would call and ask him how he was and he would say, “I am supermelagorgeous”, and we would laugh.
He was strong in his beliefs and values and had no problem expressing them. He believed in hard work and did it all of his life. He was always busy working in the yard and around the house.
He raised three wonderful children, our stepbrothers and sister, making eleven children between them. His children loved our mom the same way we loved him.
Lynn, or “Dad” passed away this week. Our mom has to endure another broken heart. Even though it was a short time, he made a huge impact on our lives, but the thing that makes me most grateful is how happy he made her. Their love was rare and true. They showed us that true love can happen at any age.
How lucky Mom was to find him. RIP Dad, thank you for all you have given us. Thank you and your children, Debbie, Brady, and Bob for coming into our lives, making mom laugh, and loving her with all your hearts. You truly made the last years of her life much more rosey.
With Love on Valentine's Day,
A friend on Facebook this week asked this question. “What is the difference between being negative and being a realist?” This spurred a rather lengthy discussion with a variety of opinions. My answer was “we create our reality, whether it is positive or negative”. In other words, your reality is all in your perception and whether it is negative or positive depends on your thoughts. I have learned that thinking positively creates more positive results in my life.
This really hits home for me this week. For the most part, I try to focus on what’s positive and good in my life. There are times however, when this is difficult to do. Life has its ups and downs. Feeling happy or sad are human emotions that need to be acknowledged and expressed to live authentically. If I said my life was wonderful right now, it would not be honest or authentic.
Over the last few weeks my family has been struggling with looking after our mom and stepdad as their health deteriorates. Although it is very difficult for all of us, I try to focus on what is good.
I am grateful that I have seven other siblings who can take an active role in her care. I know that I would not be able to do it alone. When it is my turn, I am grateful to have the time and special moments to share with her.
There are times too when the eight of us don’t agree on things when it comes to her well-being, but I am grateful that we are able to discuss our opinions opening and honestly and understand that we are all under a lot of stress and pressure trying to do the right thing.
We all want what is best for her, we all want to be there for her, and we understand that when things are said out of anger or frustration, it is because of the situation and not a personal attack on the person. We are able to apologize and get on with what needs to be done.
We are being authentic and recognizing that we are all human and have feelings, and differences of opinions, and work through these as new circumstances beyond our control challenge us. We feel bad for things we say, we feel guilty for things we may not have handled the way we wish we had. We need to remember we are all doing our best, with the knowledge we have at the moment.
What we have learned is respect and understanding for each other. We have learned how to apologize and how to forgive, and we have learned that no matter what life brings, we will get through. And although they may be numbered, we will cherish the special moments we still have with our mom and step-dad and continue to love and support each other along the way. Life may not always be rosey, but it still can be meaningful, and it is love that will get us through.
In her book, On Toby’s Terms
, my friend and best selling author Charmaine Hammond
writes about how her dog Toby misbehaved for months when they first brought their rescue dog home. She finally realized that like humans Toby needed a purpose for his life. Once he found his purpose as a Pet Therapy dog his behavior improved and life became much easier for Toby and his owners. The book goes on to explain other lessons she learned from her dog. We all can learn things from our pets. It makes me wonder why humans can’t be more like them. If we were, we would love unconditionally and give without wanting anything in return. Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
· Always run to greet your loved ones;
· Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride;
· Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure Ecstasy;
· Take naps;
· Stretch before rising;
· Eat only when you're hungry;
· Run, romp, and play daily;
· Thrive on attention and let people cuddle you;
· Avoid biting when a simple growl will do;
· On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass;
· On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree;
· When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body;
· Delight in the simple joy of a long walk;
· Be loyal;
· Never pretend to be something you're not;
· If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it;
· When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently;
Wouldn’t this world be a better place to live if we behaved more like our dog? How happy and healthy we would be. Our lives would be much more rosey.
Sometimes keeping commitments is difficult; things come up, time runs out, plans change. January is always the time of year when people want to make changes in their lives. They set New Years resolutions only to break them weeks or even days later.
Resolutions are the commitments or intentions we make for ourselves. For me it’s usually about losing weight, exercising more and being healthier. It has been something I have struggled with most of my life. How jealous I am of people who have the skinny genes and high metabolisms.
This year, as I do every year, I make a commitment to get back on track in my health and fitness regime. Why is it so much easier for me to keep commitments to others than it is to keep them to myself? I am forever starting over. I tell myself well I didn’t lose any but I didn’t gain any either. I make excuses like I am too stressed out and there is too much going on in my life to worry about that now. Why do I sabotage myself when I know that by eating right and exercising my life will be better in every other area? Is it because it’s easier to disappoint myself then it is someone else, or do I believe that I am not as important as others? Do I think that helping others is more important even when it interferes with my own plans? Why do we think it’s wrong to put ourselves first?
Woman seem to be especially bad for this, maybe it is the nurturing side of us. We put everyone else first before we look after our own needs. But what happens more often then not is that after we have looked after everyone else there is no time or energy left to look after ourselves.
Maybe we need to look at it from a different perspective. What if we put ourselves first? Would that be selfish of us? Any time in my life when I have put myself first, pampered myself, gave my body and spirit what it needed, and filled myself up I had much more energy and was in a much better position to give even more to those I care about. Instead of thinking this is self-ish why not think of it as self-love? Isn’t it better to give when our spirit and energy is high? Wouldn’t we have more to give and enjoy giving it more?
So now I will remind myself again to look after myself first and keep my commitments to myself even if it is just for today. I promise to love myself more and do what I need to do to make my life and everyone else’s around me more rosey.
With love and commitment,
This time of year I can’t help but reflect on special memories of Christmas. Last year I was living alone, and my brother Garth and sister-in-law Janice invited me to their place. They welcomed me with open arms and made it very special for me. I had a few hours in the afternoon before Christmas dinner and had always wanted to have the experience of volunteering at a homeless shelter, so I spent some time at Tenille’s Hope, an organization here in Whitecourt that feeds the homeless, and realized how lucky I am to have family and the many traditions we grew up with. It made me appreciate everything I have so much more.
We celebrated many Christmas’ at our family home on Whitecourt Mountain. All of my siblings and their children braved the winter roads and came home for Christmas. There were 30 or more of us at that time, there are many more of us now.
The Christmas tree was always one that Dad found in the bush on our land. Mom and us kids would decorate the tree and it always looked so beautiful. We would help with the baking and making lefse, a treat that only came at Christmas time
On Christmas Eve we would play the piano, guitars and sing Christmas carols. The grandchildren would entertain us with little song and dance ‘skits’ that they made up, and Grandma would always read T’was the Night Before Christmas to the little ones, before going to bed so Santa could come.
One year we decided to have an “old-fashioned” Christmas. We drew names and made the rule that instead of store bought gifts they all had to be handmade. Many of us stayed up well past midnight on Christmas Eve to finish our projects that we had made for each other.
The next day we were so excited to open our gifts. I made my brother-in-law a pair of sweat pants. He wore them for years after and said they were the most comfortable sweat pants he had ever worn! There were handmade toy boxes for the kids, hand knit sweaters, cross-stitch pictures, etc. The love that went into those gifts was more meaningful than anything you could buy in the store.
The men made Christmas dinner that year. They wanted to switch it up and change the tradition of mom and us girls doing all the cooking, and it was absolutely delicious. It was just as good as any Christmas dinner we had had before, and it made us appreciate them even more. After dinner, we took turns and shared what we were grateful for. All of us were grateful for the people surrounding the table that Christmas day.
So what special memories do you have of Christmas? What Christmas traditions do you celebrate that makes them memorable? I would love to hear about them!
To wonderful memories,
Well it’s December, and the Christmas season is fast approaching. We hustle and bustle about getting the Christmas cards written and sent, baking exuberant amounts of goodies, shopping till we drop, decorating the house, the dog, and everything else in our paths; attend parties, concerts, etc. So much to do, and we worry there won’t be enough time to do it. Christmas comes, whether we are ready for it or not, and it always turns out. So why do we put ourselves through all that STRESS?
A few years ago, I realized that all the stress just wasn’t worth it. It zapped my energy, and robbed me of enjoying the season and it’s meaning with the people I love. I decided I had to make some changes.
So many of the things I was doing were family tradition, many things my mom always did at Christmas time. Things I thought had to be done in order to celebrate Christmas. I decided it was time to make my own traditions and do things my way, the way that would fit in with my busy lifestyle and help me enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.
I stopped writing and mailing out the 50 or so Christmas cards – I reverted to writing one letter to my friends and family and emailed it instead. Some may think this is not as personal, but I am still able to connect and share my news with everyone. It saves in postage and those cards don’t get dumped in the landfill come January.
I stopped doing the mounds of baking that I was doing. I found that my Christmas guests ate very little of it, and most of it was eaten by me. Now I make one or two favorites that allows for a little indulgence, but I also ensure there are healthy options like the traditional Japanese oranges and assorted nuts. I can just buy these at the store. Not only am I healthier, but my family is too, and I don’t have to worry anymore about all the extra pounds I have put on over the holidays.
I stopped buying gifts for all my friends since high school, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, the doctor, vet and mailman, and concentrated on my immediate family only. I plan one day for shopping. I make a list so I do not have to run around several times. I invite my friends and family over for a visit and they don’t seem to miss the gift giving. I buy gift cards when I can. I think people like to buy their own presents; they don’t need to worry about receiving another ugly Christmas sweater from me.
There are times when tradition needs to be put in perspective and new ones created that fit with our lifestyles today. No one seemed to mind the changes I made, and no one seemed to notice--only me. By simplifying and spending less time rushing around in the preparation, I have much less stress, much more energy and am able to enjoy more time with the people who make my holidays rosey.
Stress-free and Care-free,
In today’s world of stress and hurry, doubt and worry, it is sometimes difficult to find the balance we need to keep our body, mind, and spirit healthy in order to find joy, purpose and spiritual connection.
It not only requires proper nutrition for our bodies, but we also need to nurture our spirit and focus on positive energy and thought processes. Ten tools that will help us do this are as follows:
Meditation is calming and provides peace and tranquility. There is no right or wrong way to meditate. You may want to try different techniques till you find what works best for you. You may listen to audio recordings, music, chant, or it may mean just sitting quietly. Put aside at least fifteen minutes a day to meditate. Most answers you are looking for come from the silence.
2. Connect with nature
Spend time outdoors, go for walks and get in touch with nature. Listen to the birds, breathe in the fresh air, stop and smell the roses, or play in the snow and appreciate all the beauty mother earth has to offer.
3. Do things you enjoy
Have bubble baths by candlelight; Read positive inspirational books, Through Thorns I Thrive is a good one, (wink wink, smile, smile); there are literally thousands out there. Watch an inspiring movie, (non-violent!) Listen to beautiful soothing music that moves you. Sing at the top of your lungs; dance like no one is watching; watch children play, listen to their laughter; go to a spiritual retreat; play games with your family--anything to have fun, laugh!
4. Start a Gratitude Journal
What you focus on grows stronger as that is where the energy goes. If you are always focusing on the negative and what is not good in your life you will attract more of it to you. Focus on the positive by doing a gratitude journal. Each night before going to bed, write down things that have happened throughout your day that you are grateful for.
It can be anything from, I am thankful for the sunshine; I am thankful for my warm bed and food on my table. There are many things to be thankful for. You will notice big changes even after thirty days. Try it! This will be one of the most important things you can do to start living a more positive and fulfilling life.
Say affirmations. You can record yourself saying them and listen to them every day. Some examples are; I am a total success, things always go my way in life, all of my efforts bring rich rewards, I set high goals for myself which I am able to attain, I am a warm and friendly person and people are naturally drawn to me, people seek me out to do business with me, I feel positive at all times and people respond to me in a positive way.
6. Surround yourself with positive people.
Attending personal development seminars is a great way to rejuvenate. Not only do you learn something new, but you get to hang out with positive, like-minded people and meet new friends along the way. Avoid hanging out with Negative Nelly. If you must be around negative people, limit your time with them as much as possible.
7. Create a Vision Board
Another very helpful tool is a Vision Board. Seeing pictures of your heart’s desires helps you to hold the vision in your mind. When the vision is in your mind, it manifests into your life. Thoughts become things! This can be done a number of ways. Cut photos of the things you want in your life from magazines, newspapers, or the get them from the Internet and paste them onto a bulletin board or poster board. Put it somewhere where you will be able to see it everyday. Put it on a wall in front of you, beside your desk and look at it daily. You can also make a movie that contains visions of your heart’s desires, watch it on a regular basis so your visions will be locked in your mind’s eye and always be present. If you hold your vision, it will soon manifest into your desires.
8. Write down your goals and ideal life
Write out what your ideal life looks like. For every facet of your life; relationships, career, financial, health, environment, etc. write out what that will look like if money and time were of no significance, and then keep those visions in your head and focus your energy towards them.
9. Eat a healthy diet
Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Choose lean proteins such as chicken, beef, eggs, and fish. Eliminate sugar and processed foods. If it is white or comes in a box do not eat it. Check labels. Many foods you think are healthy are full of sugar.
Move your body. Not only does it help with stress, it fills it with nourishing oxygen and allows more flexibility. Start small by going for short walks. Set goals each week to go a little further. Do what you enjoy doing, walking, cycling, yoga, anything to get your body moving. Exercise also provides feel good endorphins to your brain.
Using these tools on a regular basis--and I recommend daily--will give you everything you need to feel joy and vitality, so that you can thrive and live a life that’s rosey!
After almost 11 years my brothers and sisters decided it was time to grant our dad his last wish of being spread on the mountain where we lived and grew up. He loved his home in Whitecourt on the mountain. He spent many days riding horseback through the trails and he especially loved the view when he made it to the top. He also loved Tiger Lilies, especially the one's he saw growing wild on the trails where he would ride. Birch trees were another favorite of his. He loved them so much he planted one right outside the window of our home where he could see it as he sat in his favorite chair in the kitchen.
On the morning of the day we were planning to spread his ashes I was very emotional and did a lot of reflecting and crying. I missed him so and today I was feeling it more than other days. I know without a doubt that he is still with us and I talk to him on many occasions. On this day I wanted so much just to have a sign that he was still here and I kept asking him, Dad, show us a sign.
He wanted his ashes spread on top of the mountain that he loved. We drove up to where we thought would be a good spot. Once we parked our vehicles, we had to climb a steep hill to get to where we thought would be the perfect spot. We walked a little ways on the trail and in a small clearing was one huge birch tree standing on its own. Was this a sign?
We went about our ritual of everyone taking a turn to spread some ashes. We then dug a hole to plant his urn and a tiger lily so that we would have a marker to go visit if we wanted to. There on the one loan birch tree was carved J L. His name was Vernon John Lindgren, another sign?
We saved a few ashes to spread down below as our mom wasn't able to climb the steep hill on the mountain, we looked for a spot to plant another lily, and there by the side of the road was another small birch tree growing amongst the other brush. This indeed was another sign.
The final one we received while we were up on top of that mountain, as soon as we spread all of his ashes, at the most perfect moment the sun peaked through the cloudy sky and shone brightly down smiling down on us and hugging us with its warmth. Yes, it too was a sign.
This day was the most perfect way to pay tribute to our father. We fulfilled his wishes by spreading his remains on the mountain he so loved with a beautiful view, by the trees he loved, and made a marker for him with the flowers he loved. Having all of his children, and grandchildren and wife there to pay this tribute to him will stay in my heart for ever. He has given us signs through out the years that he is still here with us and still loves us with all his heart, and he gave us plenty of signs that day. Thank you Dad for the Signs! Hope you enjoyed your ride and know you will love the view!
In loving memory,