The BLUR of the Holidays

112614-Halloween  112614-Thanksgiving   112614-Christmas

In The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, we are guided to live in the present. It is hard to be in the present when the three holidays in the last quarter of the year cross over to the point that the lines of where one begins and another ends are blurred.

Each of these holidays is distinctive, The only thing they have in common is food or candy. Other than that, Halloween is in October, Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December.

I confess that throughout the year, I keep my eyes open for birthday and Christmas presents when I stumble upon them. I like to buy something for someone that is not just a “give-a-gift” kind of thing, but actually shows some thought was put in to the gift, because that person is important to me.

I also buy things at the end of the season. After Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, I might, though not always, buy things for the following year at the marked-down prices. I do this after the holiday.

While people were thinking costumes at Halloween this year, retailers were putting out the Christmas decorations and gifts. I felt it was all about the money. I was not ready to think Christmas, but I, like most of us, found myself right in the middle of the Christmas stuff oohing and aahing over this season’s finds.

I have often caught myself being side-tracked by the merchandise and gotten back to my original mission. Sometimes, I even find myself purchasing that item, almost against my will. Why would I do that when I find it so distasteful to put out Christmas before Halloween and Thanksgiving have even happened?

I believe it is for two reasons. First, Christmas is my favorite holiday. Second, I have learned that many of the stores only order so many of one item. If you think you will go back and get that thing that caught your eye later, you can forget it. The item is usually gone and they do not re-order. This also surprises me, because it defies the law of marketing. If something is selling out, you order more.

This year, it seems we are trying to rush everything. Some people already have their tree up, the outside lights in place, a wreath on the door and are ready to go shop on Black Thursday – the day that is still Thanksgiving. Black Friday has been replaced by Black Thursday in some of the stores.

The stores take their lead from we the consumers. If we buy earlier or if we go shop for Christmas on Thanksgiving Day, that is a sure sign to retailers that we want that!

I come from the era where there was anticipation. As children we could not wait to get home from school to get ready to go out for Halloween. We talked about and planned what we were going to be for weeks. We had something to look forward to.

After Halloween, we were planning who was making what for Thanksgiving, and planning the trip to Grandmother’s house, where we would see our friends and relatives. We looked forward to the special food items, eating in the dining room on the fine china, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and, of course, football. We enjoyed the day for what it was.

The day after Thanksgiving, it was our family’s tradition to put up the tree. We decorated it and as we unpacked the decorations, we recalled the meaning of each ornament. When done, that meant the Christmas Season was then underway.

Entering December, we looked forward to shopping for the right present, addressing the Christmas cards, going to the downtown Christmas parade, baking and decorating cookies and holiday confections, driving around and looking at the Christmas decorations, watching Miracle on 34th Street, or It’s a Wonderful Life, going to Christmas parties, receiving carolers at our door, or just going to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what we wanted for Christmas.

We knew that at some point before Christmas, we would get the Christmas Spirit. You didn’t catch it, it caught you. It entered your heart and made you feel the reason for the season. We gave extra money to charities. food to those in need, placed our change in the Salvation Army’s kettle; we did not want anyone to go without. The sights and sounds of Christmas make our hearts light, and those good feelings allowed us to experience what we called The Magic of Christmas.

I believe we must keep up with technology; I believe we must shop local; I believe we should give of ourselves by helping others, not just during the holidays, but definitely during the holidays. I also believe that old fashioned values have a place in our lives, whether it be Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other holiday.

I know that merchants have been financially challenged since 2008. I know that they need the seasonal things to be successful so they can stay in business. We are going to buy, no matter what, if we can.

Traditions are passed on in families – they are the ties that bind. Families coming together, saying, “Remember when we strung popcorn for the tree, or the Christmas when we made all of our presents?” or some other sentient that they recall as a memory of the heart. That is part of our story.

The world feels like it is changing; something feels different. We can all stop that merry-go-round and get off. We can resurrect looking forward to the momentous occasions of the holidays, but we have to be in the NOW.

I invite you to join me this holiday season and genuinely think about the reason for each holiday. Think about some of the things you once looked forward to as a child, things you have forgotten. Re-create one or more of those things this year. Get that feel-good feeling again. It costs you nothing but a bit of quiet reflection and focus.

I BELIEVE if we remove the blur from Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas. we will become reacquainted with ourselves and what is really important. That is the gift of being in the moment, or living in the Power of NOW.

Though there is controversy over the author of the following quote, it is so appropriate for giving your attention to what is currently before you: Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift, that is why it is called THE PRESENT.

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From Too Nice to Kind

Peopel-Pleasing-Club

People have always said I am too nice; at my last job, the Regional Person they sent said that over and over. That was, however, not the first time I had ever heard someone say that.

What is too nice? I grew up in the South and being nice was what you were taught. Play well with others; Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, or treat people the way you would like to be treated. All of the people who were my teachers spoke these things like they were statements carved in stone.

I looked up “nice” in the dictionary to see if I understood nice, since it was always a word used to describe me. Webster’s says that nice is agreeable; likeable; pleasant; satisfactory; enjoyable and other such words. I like these words – they are the way one should be proud to be described.

I have heard it said that you can never be too rich or too thin, but too nice…really!?

Living in the information age, I went to “Google.” I discovered many things about nice that surprised me. It actually can be considered as a weakness in the work environment. People seem to take advantage of nice people.

My mother always took up for herself. She did not let people take advantage of her. Unfortunately, she would often say to me, “You cannot be my daughter; you are just like your Father. You don’t just let people walk all over you; you let them wipe their feet on you.”

I have to say that after having been out in the world and having matured, I find myself being a mix of my mother and my father. I do let people take advantage of me sometimes, but I can also draw a line when I reach that magic point that shows in my eyeballs… the one that says TILT. If I get to that point, the taking advantage of me is OVER. But I am still considered nice.

In seeking improvement from friends I trust, they agree – I am too nice. I asked what being too nice meant to them. They all said the same thing, but without conferring with one another. The consensus was that I let people get away with things they should be called on. Further, they said that I let people take advantage of me, for example, using me for their own agenda.

I thought about what my friends said. Searching my soul, I have to agree with them, but… yes, there is a but: When someone uses me or takes advantage of me, I believe that the scales will be balanced – KARMA. If they do me wrong, somewhere down the line, they will get theirs, and I will be blessed or compensated in someway, not necessarily by that person. That keeps me from being upset and it allows me to “let go.”

I do not always “let go” of the wrong done me right away; sometimes I hold on to the disappointment and steam over it; finally, I reach that point where I know I have to let it go or it will harm me. My belief that the wrong will be righted helps me move forward and not be consumed by the atrocity.

So, is too nice a bad thing? I think it could be. I think I will opt for a new adjective to describe myself; I opt for kind – Of a friendly, generous, or warm-hearted nature. 2. Showing sympathy or understanding; charitable: a kind word. 3. Humane; considerate: kind to animals.

I do acknowledge after this exercise in self exploration that nice people are usually people pleasers. People Pleasers want desperately for people to like them. I do want people to like me. I have learned in my 66 years that if you try to please others and not yourself – that is, not be true to yourself – that you lose. You must always end any situation with feeling good about yourself; you can only do that when you are not too nice. Be kind, that seems a better alternative.

My new sticky note to place everywhere, and to read for 21 days, 3 times a day (it takes 21 days to create or change a habit):

Feel free to copy for yourself if you are too nice.

November 10, 2014

Since my Mother passed, I find myself asking questions  that many of us have thought about at various times in our lives about life and death and religion and spirituality.

What do I really believe?  I was baptised a Catholic. I grew up a Catholic, but in the 60s I  took a circuitous route and over the years ventured out and sought “awakening” from many different religions.  I was exposed to Science of Mind, Unity, traditional religions like Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, then Baha’i, Quaker, Nazarene, Non Denominational and others. I have read extensively, meditated, prayed and listened to the beliefs of others.  In fact, I “believe” myBelieve Radio Show was really for me.  Interviewing many who shared their belief systems and their journeys enabled me, and I hope others, to examine their own.

This year, with the death of my Mother and Sister, I find myself again searching and asking the same questions.

Today, I want to share a poem I wrote during another period of searching when I went back to The Catholic Church.  I know many of you were brought up Catholic and have left the Church.  I share this with you and others that may be searching, to give you food for thought about your own spiritual search.

The Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  Should we be in the religion our parents exposed us to?  Do we use it as a training ground and then choose our own?   Do we return to what we were taught because it is where we are supposed to be, or in times of trouble seek the comfort of what we taught? How do we know?

My poem – I call it THE JOURNEY WITHIN:

I was born a Catholic
Christened and Reared
Until the 60s
When Tim Leary appeared.

True love and astrology
Became my Life-Line,
It was peace and love, 
A sign of the times.

As the decade faded,
A new search began,
It was Transcendental Meditation,
Yoga and Zen.

Then the path spiraled,
Healing arts consumed,
On to Science of Mind
And Baker-Eddy’s Reading Room.

Unity beckoned
And I opened the door,
Leading to Reiki,
Card reading and more.

Taking a detour,
I found “The Book, 
So I stopped for a while
To take a LOOK.

The path of tradition
Now had appeal,
But, was it ILLUSION
or was it REAL?

The road seemed blocked –
Do I stay or go?
I prayed for guidance,
“God, please let me know.”

Then I heard a voice,
a soft audible tone
That clearly stated,
“Catholic, Come Home.”

Was this my answer?
Was my search at an end – 
At home, a Catholic – 
Back to where I began?

The moral is simple,
So listen,My Friend.
Stay where you are –
For the Journeys WITHIN!

November 3, 2014

In high school, I was editor of my high school paper and yearbook.  I loved news and was a weekly winner of The Birmingham News’ “KNOW YOUR NEWS” contest which aired on television.  I continually won and was finally retired from the contest.  I won The High School Journalism Institute Award for Jefferson County and got to attend The Summer Journalism School at The University of Alabama where we put together an entire newspaper; I was the Sports Editor and had the great pleasure of interviewing Paul Bear Bryant.    I also won a 4 year scholarship to The University of Alabama for Journalism, but even with the path that I had carved out, I chose the path less traveled – adventure.  I went down many roads and had adventures and experiences that gave me knowledge about people and life!  At 66 one would not expect someone to pick up a career path that started in high school, but I have and I am excited about it!  I am now a Reporter for The White Mountain Independent.
I have interviewed many people over the years on radio and television; I love learning about and promoting people.  I have also been a contributing writer to several publications.  Today, as I change career titles, I will still be doing what I have been doing – interviewing and promoting people…but, as Joe Friday from “Dragnet” said, “…just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.”  As a report, you report.  You do not give your opinion, just the facts.  Of course the flair with which you write about those facts captures or turns away your reader.   My focus will be on human interest stories as well as business and government.  I will cover the great stories about people and businesses in our community, along with the late breaking news stories – and regular things you just want to know from events to what is going on with your government.  I have been dubbed, “The Most Trusted Voice on The Mountain,” and I plan to carry that title with me as I put pen to paper or hands to keyboard!    So,when you see me out and about, especially if you see me talking to someone, know that you will need to pick up a paper, or log on to wmicental.com, to find out what I am writing about.  You can also let me know if there is something you would like have investigated or reported on.
Henry Luce said, “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”  Finding my way back to writing for a living, as a journalist, I may not come as close as possible to the heart of the world, but I will come as close as possible to the heart of Our Mountain.
So, for those of you that may have misplaced or abandoned a dream you once had, know that even at 66 or beyond, a new road can be built…you just have to choose to take it.

October 27, 2014

Philip Stanhope was The 4th Earl of Chesterfield and quite the orator.  Many of his sayings are spoken today without credit.  One such saying is, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today!”  I have heard those words all of my life and actually thought I pretty-much adhered to them.  It turns out that I have not.
In 1991 my husband passed away, making me a young widow.  I had begun a new job 3 weeks prior to his death.  His death occurred the day after Labor Day.  If you have ever lost anyone, you may know that you are in shock or may describe it as I did – feeling numb.  I went into automatic pilot, doing all the things socially and politically correct for the funeral.  I scheduled the viewing for Wednesday night, had the Funeral on Thursday and then I went back to that new job of 3 weeks the following Monday.  I didn’t know that grief time was allowed; after all, work only allows 3 days bereavement time.
For nine months I poured my emotions in to my work,  going home each night and just being.  At the end of the nine months, I fell apart.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me – life just felt out-of-sorts.  In a moment of clarity, I realized that I had failed to grieve.  I checked myself into a 4 Day Grief Seminar and began the process I had postponed  – grieving.  Normalcy returned to my life!
One would think one would never want to repeat that lesson…and would adhere to the quote: “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
Important Bit of Wisdom:  Every loss in life must be grieved – every loss, no exception!
Fast forward to 2013:  I had worked for White Mountain Radio since 1999; I left that job, which I loved, to take the GM Job at KVSL on July 1, 2013, and actually worked both until the end of the year in order to fulfill my commitments – a double work load, especially since I was building something new.  On December 12, 2013, I was hit head on by a double-cab truck, my car totaled, my right knee broken,  contusions of the left knee and chest and actually got up and went to work the day after, never missing even a day due to that accident; I was afraid if I stopped I would not be able to start again; then, on March 1, 2014, my Mother passed away after an 8 year battle with cancer.  My Mother donated her body to science, which postponed a funeral/memorial; on June 15, 2014, my Sister Rebecca passed away after  long battle with cancer; then, at the end of September,  I resigned from KVSL.  A whole lot of loss – a whole lot of postponement of the grieving process – again.
October 2014 – History Repeats itself.  Time to Grieve.  I spent about a week and half unpacking all of the baggage I had managed to carry around with me from The Tobacco Program, The Chamber of Commerce, WMR and KVSL – going through all of that stuff actually helped me to  begin the grieving process – I threw a lot of stuff away and processed a lot of thoughts while doing it  It felt like a spiritual cleanse – the grieving process had officially begun.  I made a reservation to go to AL to Memorialize my Mother and Sister, see my Dad and have some much-needed R&R with my youngest sister.  We both knew that the ocean was where we needed to purge – to grieve – to rest and let go of those things we had postponed.
When I left for AL I knew I was getting sick; by the time my trip was almost at an end, I had full fl edge pneumonia.  I am getting better everyday.   My belief system is that whatever manifests physically in our lives has a mental equivalent to what is actually going on with you.  The lungs are about grief; if you take notice, you will see that many people suffer from respiratory issues at the end of each year, or the beginning of the New Year.  People grieve over things they have lost during the year – be it a dream, a job, a loved one, a move – whatever loss they have experienced.  If people have failed to process the grief, it generally shows up as a respiratory issue.
Moral of the Mini Blog:  Do it NOW; grieve now.  Ignoring grief will not make its stages go away.   Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today.  Taking time NOW will allow you to get on with your life and avoid the physical manifestation of an illness.
Take the Test:    Who said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today?”  I bet when you use that quote now, not only will you remember who said it, but you will adhere to its message.

October 20, 2014

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I am almost positive that I would be from The Victorian Era.  I love all those vintage things.  I often tell people who I love velvet, lace, pearls, linen and silk…though not necessarily in that order.  That said, I gravitate toward the values of that era and the overall values it represented.

Queen Victoria ushered in The Era and it survived for some 64 Years.  It was primarily a period of peace and prosperity, refined sensibilities,  and national confidence for Britain.  Simply put,  it was a period of change.  It was a period reflecting highly moralistic, strait-laced behavior and values.  Romanticism and Religion leaned toward mysticism,  arts and social values.  Though it had its negatives like all eras, it nonetheless was,  for the most part, a period of prosperity where people were clear about morals – no gray lines here,  it was black or white.  Today once again, because history repeats itself,  most of us acknowledge that some kind of change is happening all over the world – it is just that no one can seem to pin point what the changes actually are.  We seem to just feel it intuitively.   Some say the vibration of the planet is changing and that those who are unable to rise to the new vibration will take leave physically.  Regardless of your belief about this,  I think we can all FEEL that something is about to happen.

We wake up daily with someone else to telling us what is trending.  Because of the bombardment of technology, we are not even thinking for ourselves – in fact,  we have little time to think with all the demands placed on us today; all those time-saving devices allows us to do more,  but we never seem to catch up.  We are allowing others to tell us what we think, or at least, influencing it.  We are in a period of Instant Communication where we react rather than ponder.  This would not have been acceptable in The Victorian Era.  People knew it would be deplorable to “color outside the lines.”

Most of us know we are out of balance,  velcroed to our cell phones,  emails and,  of course, the biggest influences of all times – Facebook and Twitter.  Most of us cannot go an hour,  let alone a day,  without checking in…I am talking about me,  too…but we do need to do what my Father always told us when he sat us down for a disciplinary action – “THINK FIRST – there are always consequences to our actions.” Having actually just taken my first vacation in 14 months,  I unplugged enough to know that,  if we take time each day,  to PONDER the events of the day and what is before us…we can trust ourselves to have our own thoughts and see things clearly when needing to make a decision.

Do we want to revisit The Victorian Era?   Probably not exactly,  but we need to find The Balance everyone talks about so we do not self-destruct.  My recommendation: get away from your work and home,  where there are so many demands,  and test it for yourself!  You WILL be surprised!