Oh So Grateful!

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As I write this post, my precious almost-two-year-old granddaughter is sleeping soundly in the room next door. I know without a doubt it’s soundly because she fell asleep in my arms while I rocked her, while I carried her upstairs and lay her down, covering her with a soft blanket, and ten minutes later when I dropped a jar of blackberry jelly on a tile floor. For those who aren’t as graceful as me (a little sarcasm there) and have never done that, let me tell you it makes an earth-shattering noise that could wake the dead and sends tiny glass shards spraying across the entire kitchen floor. Shards so tiny that a broom will not sweep them and a good vacuuming is required. After which, I peeked in on my granddaughter and the angel hadn’t stirred a muscle. I can’t remember the last time I slept that well. She’s staying with me while we eagerly await the birth of her little brother or sister.

Given the magic of grandchildren, I thought this was a good time to do a gratitude post. My top three things I’m grateful for this past week are:

1.)  My grandchildren. Seeing the looks on the faces of three precious grandchildren when they wake up early in the morning to see me there because their mommy and daddy went to the hospital to give them a new little one. Time spent one-on-one with one of those precious little ones, in whose eyes and behaviors I see glimpses of her daddy, giving me the joy of memories when he was a child. And little arms that circle my neck as she presses her forehead against mine. Watching her dance with all she’s got to the song Let it Go from the movie Frozen.

2.)  A visit from my other son telling me the details of his day with such enthusiasm and passion, leaving with a hug and an “I love you, mom.” Those words are priceless.

3.)  Watching the sunrise, a crisp white blanket of a recent snowfall around me, the mountain backdrop, from the beautiful heat of a hot tub.

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What tops your gratitude meter this week?

***Update and addition to number 1: My three granddaughters have a new little sister and I have a new granddaughter. 

Child of my child, heart of my heart.
Your smile bridges the years between us…
I am young again, discovering the world through your eyes.
You have the time to listen and I have the time to spend,
Delighted to gaze at familiar, loved features made new in you again.
Through you, I see the future. Through me, you’ll see the past.
In the present, we’ll love one another as long as these moments last. ― Author Unknown

 

Welcoming 2019 with Words

2019

In 2015 I joined the My One Word movement. This movement is an opportunity to choose one word that best determines how you would like your life to grow in the coming year. It’s much more realistic to focus on one word for the year than set New Year’s resolutions, only to break them by the end of week two. I admit I still set goals, but those goals circle around my one word. I write out bible verses that address the chosen word(s), and read them frequently.

In the past I’ve chose the words Grace, Love, Listen, Risk, Silence, and Kindness. Being the rebel that I am, this is the second year I’ve chosen two words because I couldn’t decide between them and both are equally important to me and areas in which I desire to grow. Those two words?

  • Mindful.
  • Enough.

Mindful–Being mindful of each moment, each breath, my thoughts, words, and actions. Being mindful of the relationships I choose to nurture and grow, ending those that are toxic. Being mindful of how I spend my time so it’s not frittered away. Being mindful of making each moment count. Being mindful of what I eat, why I eat, when I eat. Being mindful of the words that come out of my mouth, that they may only build others up. And being mindful to love others rather than judge.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.  Psalm 19:14

Enough–In November and December I participated in an online bible study with Proverbs 31 on the book Breathe by Pricilla Shirer. It taught me about the importance of Sabbath, how busyness can hold us hostage if we’re not careful and that it’s critical to take time to cease from all activities, to take time to simply stop and breathe. When we’re rushing through the day to cross off our to-do lists and rushing to the next thing, and the next and the next, we’re missing out on enjoying the life we’ve been given. Peace, tranquility, and serenity cannot be found when we’re in a flurry of constant activity. We have to know when enough is enough. It’s important for me to remember that as I am, I am enough, that there is no need to compare myself to others or allow others’ successes to make me feel less than. What I have, I have enough. I have all I need. More only clutters my life so that I don’t see all that I already have. What I do, I do enough, so long as all that I do is done in love. I can say ‘no’ without eloquent explanations and let that be enough. There is no need to continually continue for the sake of staying busy.

God can give you all you need. He will give you more than enough. You will have everything you need for yourselves. And you will have enough left over to give when there is a need.     2 Corinthians 9:8

Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.          Proverbs 30:8-9

                 Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.                       – Mother Teresa

Whether you make resolutions, set goals, or participate in the My One Word movement, I wish you great success. Happy 2019!

mindfulness

 

 

 

Holiday Parade

Every year our city has a Parade of Lights during the holiday season. It was 30 degrees here in Denver, but the turnout was incredible! Despite my hands shaking from the cold, here are some of the highlights:

The color guard starting off the parade.IMG_0541

North Elementary School, one of the category winners.IMG_0553

Of course, you have to have the police car complete with sirens for the kids. IMG_0542

Followed by the fire engine, again with sirens, much to the kids’ delight.IMG_0549

Dancers from the city’s dance studio.IMG_0556

The Brighton City Council float. My husband, one of the council members, was walking and handing out candy canes. IMG_0543

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Remax Realty, another category winner.IMG_0554

And, of course, every Coloradans favorite, the Denver Bronco bus. IMG_0558

The parade, with vendors selling all kinds of things that light up, as well as hot dogs, funnel cakes, hot chocolate, and music, is the perfect addition to the holidays!

 

Black Friday

Black Friday

For every person who loves Black Friday, there’s another that dislikes it equally as much. I’m of the latter camp. Shopping and everything that relates to “stuff” is my least favorite part of the Christmas season. I’ll take the lights, the music, the uncomplicated joy of the season well before Thanksgiving–much to my husband’s dismay–but shopping? If I could completely forego it, I would.

REI, one of my favorite stores to browse (it’s the halfway mark of a 30-mile bike ride my husband and I enjoy in permitting weather) closes all of its retail stores on Black Friday so their employees can have the day off to enjoy the outdoors, sharing experiences. Their initiative started the #OptOutside campaign and encouraged others to do the same.

I love this idea!

REI Chief Customer Officer Ben Steele said, “When we started this four years ago, it was that consumerism was spinning out of control, in a frenzy of consumption–I’ve got to have it, I need it, I’ll leave Thanksgiving dinner early to go get it.”

That’s a powerful statement. We spend Thanksgiving grateful for what we have and then get up early the following morning to go buy more.

“Black Friday: Because only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” Author Unknown

Many stores have even intruded into Thanksgiving evening to get the shopping started, using messages with a sense of urgency to get people in:

  • Limited Time!
  • Today Only!
  • Act Now!
  • Final Close-Out!
  • Deadline!
  • Offer Expires!

I’m not saying Black Friday is all bad. For some people, the sales are what allows them to purchase gifts for Christmas presents. And some people genuinely enjoy the shopping experience with family and friends. Though I have to admit I’m not one of those people. But what saddens me the most is when people go into debt buying “stuff” they don’t need or even want, simply because it’s on sale. When we buy what’s on sale because it’s “on sale,” we’re not saving money, we’re spending it. Too many times Black Friday leads to Red Saturday with people going into debt.

That being said, the Black Friday scrooge that I may be, sincerely wish everyone a Christmas season filled with family and friends, good health, peace, and experiences that bring you joy.

PeaceJoy

 

Diverse, Unique Taos

 

Beautiful Taos

Last week I shared photos of old cemeteries we visited in Taos. This week I want to share some photos from our time there that are not cemetery related. I am enamored with this city of all things art. However, working in the law enforcement arena, I chose to research the crime rate. While I was there, no less.

Yup, I just had to go there, because that’s how I roll. And I was totally shocked.

Neighborhood Scout shows that across communities of all sizes, the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation. By “violent crimes,” they’re including rape, murder, manslaughter, robbery, and assault. Property crime is even higher. To put things in perspective, they state that the chances of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime is 1 in 11. Ninety-eight percent of the communities in New Mexico have a lower crime rate than Taos. Yikes!

Bestplaces.net ranks crime from 1 to 100, the higher the number, the higher the crime. Below is where they rank Taos:

Taos County violent crime is 53.9. (The US average is 31.1)
Taos County property crime is 49.9. (The US average is 38.1

Yet with that all being said, and noted, I still can’t help but love the place. It’s filled with art, diversity, culture, and character, like no other place I’ve visited thus far. Below (and above) are some photos of the beauty.

The below two photos are of the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed. Every afternoon they have Tea Time when they serve just that–tea–and so many delightful goodies! The 2nd photo is the dining area where they serve breakfasts that are out of this world!

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The next two photos are of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Just a tad frightening. But the beauty was breathtaking.

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After looking at the next two, you can guess that I love to photograph doors. I’m not sure if there’s more to that than I’m aware of or not. 🙂

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Below is a trail we hiked in Carson National Forest, named after Kit Carson.

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Below is a stream that ran along one of the shops in Taos Ski Valley, followed by a photo of some low-hanging clouds on mountains colored with golden Aspen trees. The scenery there is stunning!

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As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you’ve allotted for vacation.  –John Battelle

 

 

A Grave Interest

My husband and I went on our first vacation in three years (other than visiting family). Destination? Taos, New Mexico. Between the arts and the history, it fed both of our interests. Of note was how often they go hand in hand.

Something I’ve taken a particular interest in is old cemeteries. I love the architecture, carvings, and creativity in the headstones. I enjoy reading the names and any identifying information written there–or lack thereof. Taos had several cemeteries to feed this interest of mine.

With Taos known as the art community it is, I was elated to discover the grave of the woman who helped establish it as such. This particular cemetery is very old, as can be seen in several of the other photos, but it’s apparent that Ms. Luhan has had many recent visitors.

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Kit Carson’s headstone (below). He’s buried next to his third wife, Josefa Jaramillo, with whom he had eight of his ten children.

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The headstone below was a little confusing. Given the fact Kit Carson had been married three times and had ten children in all, I spent some time trying to figure out why it said he only had one grandson. Until I realized the correct message is “Only Grandson Serving WWI and WWII.” Now that made a lot more sense!

Of special interest is the different opinions people there hold of Kit Carson, whether he was good or bad. I personally believe it’s not that black and white and that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

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The grave below, neglected as it is, saddened me. It made me wonder if their extended family even knows they’re buried here.

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In the photo below, notice the urn sitting on top of the ground, the thin slab of marble simply leaning against the tree.

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This was perhaps the most unique headstone. Unfortunately, the engraving was too faded to read.

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The simple crosses were eerily poignant. Many of the burial sites were bordered with concrete or individual fences.

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Any other Cemetery Tourists out there?

The richest person in the cemetery is the one who left the most happy memories.
― Matshona Dhliwayo

 

 

All Things Gratitude

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Gratitude fills my heart, my home, my life. And I’m so grateful for that. But I also realize that it’s all too easy to get busy with living and default, as human beings often do, to feelings other than gratitude, forgetting to be grateful. Especially for the small, simple things in life that make a big difference.

So I’ve created a gratitude jar that sits on my kitchen counter. Right beside it are pre-cut strips of paper and a pen for easy access. No excuses that there isn’t time to find a pen or “I’ll get to it later.” My husband and I frequently fill out a slip as we pass by the jar, and family and friends who visit are encouraged to participate as they wish.

Our plan is to go through each item of gratitude on New Year’s Eve as a reminder of all that we have to be grateful for in the past year. And what a way to bring in the new year–with hearts filled with gratitude!

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. -Melody Beattie

Another item of mention that I’m so excited about is that a non-fiction article I wrote titled Gratitude in All Things has been published in an anthology titled Colorado’s Emerging Writers: An Anthology of Nonfiction and has been released this week. Yay! It can be found here and here


May I suggest making your own gratitude jar? Get creative. Got kids? Have them help! Make it a family activity.

And in the meantime, let me know what you’re grateful for last week, today, in this moment.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. -William Arthur Ward