It’s that time of year again. Each year right after Thanksgiving I set aside some time for self-reflection and goal setting until the end December. I look at the things I’ve accomplished and what I can finish up before the end of the year. It’s a rewarding time to look back and see how far we’ve come as a family, and in my personal growth, but also to reflect back on the challenges and obstacles that were thrown in our path, how we faced them, mistakes and triumphs along the way, and of course, the lessons learned.
This year marks a personal turning point in my life as well, so it’s more than just a time of reflection, it’s a time of renewal. I decided as I was cooking the favored dishes for Thanksgiving that this will be the last Thanksgiving that I will be THAT traditional. I have, for the last year, been eating much healthier, watching my diet and exercising more. The traditional dishes, while delicious, are not the healthiest I could make. One of my goals between now and Christmas / New Years is to look for healthy and tasty ways to enhance our holiday meals.
As my kids get older and begin to prepare to start their own lives and own traditions, I find myself wanting to create some new traditions that will grow and continue for our family, starting with changing our holiday menus a bit.
Promises to myself
This is my list here at the end of 2011. Between now and New Years I will work to put these things in place and tweak my list to include things for the coming 2012.
Cherry Coley ©
Have you ever stopped to think that God never intended for us to be satisfied?
Think about it, if we ever got to the point of complete satisfaction, would we be happy? What more would there be to strive for, learn from, work on if we were completely satisfied? Would you really even know what that looks like? Most of us are still working on finding our specific purpose in this life.
We are internally programmed that once one desire has been achieved or fulfilled, we immediately find something else better or more interesting to reach for. This programming ensures that we keep moving, keep growing, keep living life the way we were intended too.
What we focus on and put our energy into is what we attract into our lives. If you focus on the “lack of” things in your life like: not having a relationship, not having enough money, possessions, a good car, a job you like, whatever it might be, to continually focus your mind and energy on the negative aspect and endless wishing from a perspective of being resentful, worried or discontent, you will bring more of the same thing into your life. You will not bring positive things into your life as long as you dwell in the realm of the negative.
The old saying about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is true in the sense that as soon as you change your attitude, your thoughts and start applying your energy to focusing on improving yourself from where you are right now, you will start to attract positive things into your life. It may or may not happen immediately, in many cases it doesn’t and people automatically start to lose hope. However, chances are events are put in to motion the second you make your concentrated effort to change, but you have to open yourself up to see not only the changes in yourself, but in your surroundings as well. This takes time and practice to be able to see the opportunities that are starting to appear in your path. This is where a good friend or life coach comes handy. By discussing events or circumstances in your life as they happen, they can, in essence, hold up a mirror and help you see things you may have missed. A life coach can offer a different perspective and help you set reasonable and easily obtainable goals along the way. I know in my own life, the coaching I have received has been the most important aspect in my personal growth and being able to put bad relationships, and an abusive marriage behind me.
Make no mistake; it is hard work to change your perspective and attitude on a consistent basis. You will not always feel the sunshine and hear the birds singing, but brighter days are on the horizon and finding yourself and then being true to the person you are inside is well worth the effort.
In future posts I will be sharing bits and pieces of my personal journey. It is my hope you will find something in my ramblings, nostalgia and life lessons to enjoy or take with you on the way.
In the mean time, remember you attract more of what you focus on into your life every day, whether you intend to or not. Make an effort to see the bright side and look for opportunities to improve or learn from your experiences.
Cherry Coley ©
Thanksgiving is over. This year the kids, my mom and I, went to spend Thanksgiving with my brother, his wife and her family. They did an excellent job cooking and pulling everything together and we got to see her side of the family which is always fun. They are just good people to be around. We did the usual, telling funny stories and sharing memories. My brother played recordings of my kids talking when they were babies. Laughter and food was shared and enjoyed by all.
I also cooked a Thanksgiving meal for us so that we could share our own time at home and have leftovers to stretch out the week. Making everyone’s favorites is always fun and makes for happy smiles for days.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, grateful for family, for the passing of another year, for the harvest that was planted, reaped and enjoyed. It is an American tradition passed down through generations.
Yet another tradition has reared its ugly head, the head of greed. Driving to my brother’s house I was struck silent by how many businesses were open on Thanksgiving Day. Not just hospitals, fire stations, and police stations, but gas stations, fast food restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, the big super stores all open for our convenience and in the name of the almighty dollar. Really? Do we really need so many people to miss out on the holiday because we want a container of cool whip, or a pie we forgot to make? The funny thing is years ago when everything closed, we didn’t lament, we didn’t take it for granted, we planned ahead and got what we needed early because we knew they would be closed. No big deal.
Then there’s the Friday after Thanksgiving. I confess I went last year for the first time to one store at 7 a.m. to pick up a new laptop and printer. It was a real bargain and I use both daily. However, I am not one you will ever see fight the masses for a promised sale. It’s just not in me to camp out or push my way through a crowd for anything. Then again, I’m also not the “to die for” shopper who HAS to get the ultimate Christmas gift every year either.
I am a simple person. I enjoy the holidays because they ARE the holidays. I love the smells, the lights, the cool crisp air, that many people find their Christmas spirit and walk around humming or with a smile on their face, more than any other time of year. It’s magic. The energy is different, the people are different. Whether you are religious or not, unless you are walking around oblivious, stressed, self-absorbed, depressed, or just plain too busy, if you will stop, just for a moment and look around you will feel the difference.
Don’t let this season pass by with over-spending, high-drama, and too much stress. It’s not really about out doing each other on presents. It’s not about greed. It’s about family and friends, being grateful for another year and appreciating the people in your life. Take time to watch the Christmas movies, listen to Christmas stories, listen to the music and hymns of the season. Just for a moment, with a prayer of thankfulness, there can be peace on earth. God is good.
In January I was given a promotion at work and moved to an Underwriting position at the company I work for. In February we prepared to move into the first rent house the kids and I have ever shared on our own. It was a big step for us as a family. At the end of the school year my youngest daughter went to youth camp with her school to Austin which was a first for her. At the end of June my dad had surgery on a hernia and came through with flying colors. In July, my oldest daughter took and passed her driving test and became an official designated driver. In September, ten days after his birthday, my dad passed away suddenly. A week later my uncle (dad’s brother) also passed away. In October I was promoted again to work in the finance department at the company where I work. Last week, I lost a good friend and amazing person I knew from my church.
This Thanksgiving has been a celebration of making it through another year as a family. It has, in some ways, been somewhat bitter-sweet too. This is the first Thanksgiving after my aunt’s passing around Christmas last year as well.
If I can take a moment, I would like to say that this year I am thankful for:
I am not sure what other changes lie in store for the rest of this year, or what 2012 will bring. I only know that with the prayers and love of the people in my life….I’m ready, I’m strong enough, and sure that we can handle it. The future is ever brighter and it’s an exciting time to be alive. I am grateful to be here and to be able to experience new things each day.
Love is not just seeing a person as they are and accepting them,
Love is seeing the potential of what they can be.
How many times have we seen celebrities in the news? The reporters frantically reporting their success and splashing their faces and lives across front pages and television screens over and over. Their names become household words, the kids start wanting to dress like them, suddenly there are perfumes, posters, haircuts, diets and clothing named after them. Then…they show us they are human and screw up.
Down they fall from the pedestal that we put them on. There is no forgiveness, only mockery and finger pointing. How dare they be a bad role model!! How dare they make bad choices that lead to bad press! How dare they not live up to the image that has been imposed on them!
Never confuse talent and what someone does for who they are. This can be, and often is, two completely different things.
Now stop and think of the people in your everyday life. I always try to accept people as they are. I stand in judgment of no one, for who am I to judge? I too am human and I have made some fabulous crash and burn mistakes along the way. Yet, accepting someone for who they are is only part of loving a person. To love is to see who they could be. To encourage and embrace the person they are becoming along the way, to walk along side that person on their journey of self discovery. To cheer when you can and cry with them when needed, and forgive the mistakes we each make as needed.
Life really is a journey, but it’s not an easy one and it was never a road meant to be traveled alone. Remember those that are walking with you, the people you love, that are in your every day life. When the road is hard, we lean on each other…..it’s what we’re here for.
Thank you for walking with me.
According to legend and the wisdom of farmers, cows will lie down or refuse to go out to pasture, before a storm. When cows are lying down in a field it’ll remain fine, once they stand up, rain is on its way.
There are so many lessons in nature, but often we are just too busy to notice. The lesson with the cows is one that is repeated with many other animal species. The message is that we should rest when there is opportunity to rest because storms will come. If you don’t take the time to rest and recharge when it’s available then the storms will knock you down.
Life is full of storms, we all have our share. There’s not a person in any station in life that is immune. If you haven’t just come out of a storm, you may be about to go into one. If your life is good and calm for the moment, then take this time to rest and spend with family and friends. Celebrate the good times in life!
Life is not about the times that knock the wind out of us, it’s about the moments that take our breath away. Take time to stop and notice what is going on around you today. This day will never be repeated no matter how good or bad it is. Take it as it is, accept that you have a choice in how you respond, and keep moving forward!
Sometimes we have to be brought to our knees to be reminded to slow down.
Every now and then I get in too much of a hurry. I run along my way, rushing here and there trying to get things done. Then, out of the blue I will step off a curb wrong, or stomp my toe and do a weird dance trying not to fall. Now and then, I will fall.
It occurred to me that this is a reminder. A reminder that we aren’t meant to just rush through life at top speed, grabbing things, running through errands and trying to meet deadlines, that’s not what was intended.
What if I hadn’t been rushing the day I stepped off the curb wrong? I might have watched my step, looking at my surroundings, feeling the soft breeze, watching the snow fall, smelling the aroma of coffee outside the coffee shop.
I had smiled at someone on the way in and opened the door, but I might have actually noticed what they looked like, wondered who they were, said a few more words and maybe even have made a new friend.
How many opportunities do we miss each day by just rushing along in our lives? What if there was a person I needed to know? What if they had an answer I’d been searching for? What if I had something they needed?
Not long ago I had a conversation with a nice lady at Target, her name was Phyllis and she was 84. She said the week before she had looked up while she was walking and missed the curb. She landed on her knees in the parking lot at Dillard’s. She told me that a man with a walker came to her aid and helped her up. They are now friends and have talked every night since. As she was telling the story he walked up, using a cane and they looked tenderly at each other. I smiled to myself as I watched them walk off holding hands.
It reminded me again that life is truly a journey and not to always rush along blindly, but to slow down and enjoy the scenery, say hello, and wait for the response. People come in our lives for a reason, a season and sometimes, they stay, but only if we take the time to notice.
Cherry Coley (c)
It’s here again, the Thanksgiving spread at the office. Strangely no one really wants to sign the little posted sheets stating what they will bring this year. It’s a secret, they say. I have a suspicion they are all in the “I don’t wanna cook, I have to do that next week,” state of mind. Yeah, me too.
Still I signed up. I signed the sheet under desserts and am now sitting and wondering what delicious concoction to cook up. I was talking to some other ladies at the office about Dirt (the jello/cool whip/oreo cookie miracle).
“That’s something you do at Halloween for the kids,” said one lady.
“Don’t forget to add the gummy worms,” laughed another, “you gotta have the gummy worms!”
Meanwhile, the recesses of my imagination I sit and toy with the idea of creating “Dirt” for Christmas instead. Wandering around in my head are visions of “Dirt” in a pan with tiny pine tree’s for decorations, and a light dusting of powdered sugar for snow, maybe a tiny sleigh, or perhaps a road lined in candy canes? Hmm, this bears more thought. I definitely see a creative dessert in the near future.
Now, about that potluck…..looks like maybe a pumpkin pie and fruit salad kind of thing to me.
Cherry Coley (c)
Every childhood has ups and downs. Too many times we remember the downs and let the good times just fade away. Take time to walk down your own memory lane now and then and remember the good things that helped to shape who you are.
I can remember being about 4 years old and being at the church / daycare where my mom was the principal. I had asthma as a child and there were many days when I could not go outside. Those days I went up to the quilting room on the second floor of the building. It was at the end of the hallway. In that room there was a large quilt hanging on a frame that was parallel to the floor. When the ladies were there they lowered the quilt to work on it. In that room there were 6-8 little ladies that would sit and chat all day long. They were my flock of grandma’s and I loved each and every one of them.
Every Tuesday and Thursday I would go up to that room and lay on the pillows and blanket they had on the floor underneath the framed quilt they were working on. There I would draw and color happily for the 4 hours or so until lunch time. I learned a lot about life, about people, about how important it is to stop and listen to the people in our lives.
On that floor I could lay down and look up through the colored cloth and see the lights shining down. I thought about how they stitched the quilt and how it looked like a giant puzzle. Sometimes, before they put the backing on, it looked like a giant stained glass window with tiny dots of sunlight shining through. Many times I would become mesmerized and take naps right there.
Those women watched out for me, talked to me like a person and not a child. They watched over me and made sure I didn’t get cold and was listening when they thought they were saying something I might need to know. Each day they would talk about their families, their friends, their children, the struggles with losing their spouses, and one lady always talked about her cats. Sometimes they would ask me what I was thinking about and then spend the day answering my question. I learned to love stories and tall tales. I learned that no matter what age you are, imagination is important. I am thankful for this memory and the experience. All the little things throughout our childhood help to shape who we are. I still love to hear about life stories. I still love to go and spend time sitting and listening to both young and old tell their stories. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, or a morning cup of coffee, just sharing and trading stories.
In all of life’s busyness, take time to remember the things that made you who you grew up to be and don’t lose sight of who you are. I did. Temporarily, too much stress and trying to please too many people, but these memories remind me that each of us have our own experiences and memories of home and childhood. Take time to write them down, get out the photo albums and write the places and dates. You’ll be glad you did.
Cherry Coley (c)
Today was November 11, 2011.
The moon was bright and full this morning.
The air was a crisp 35 degrees, there’s a frost on the ground, and I’m missing you so bad it hurts.
I miss your smile, the sound of your voice and laughter, the way your eyes lit up when you thought of something funny, the way you could lean back, stretch out and take up the whole couch.
I miss the way you told stories, then would stop and laugh at yourself. I miss your solid stance on injustice and unwavering knowledge of right and wrong. I miss the way you would sit and research the things you were interested in, but were always fine with me interrupting you and asking you questions.
I miss our arguments when I wanted to do something and you didn’t think it was a good idea, as much as I miss the times I went back and showed you the results once it was done. I miss that surprised expression, slap on the knee, and the way you’d say, “well, damn, I didn’t think that would work!” then you’d laugh.
I miss sitting beside you on the couch watching a good movie like “Iron Will” or “Rudy,” and stealing glances at you while you claimed to get choked on popcorn so I wouldn’t notice your eyes watering at the good parts. I love the fact that you weren’t afraid to show your heart, and didn’t feel the need to hide it under pride or to look tough.
There are so many conversations and actions that keep crossing my mind lately. So many days of following you around the yard and asking a million questions, which you (almost) patiently tried to keep up and answer. There are so many things I’d love to ask you now.
I miss you, Dad.
Cherry Coley (c)