Monday, February 29, 2016

2/29/16 Inspiration

This week's inspiration is...

"The change God wants for you won't happen overnight.
Learn how to enjoy the process as He gradually molds you
into His image."---Joyce Meyers

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quiet Reflection

When I retired 2 years ago, one of the things I looked forward to was having the time in the morning for quiet reflection.  When you teach school and have to be up at 5:30am and out the door by 7am, there isn't much time for morning reflection.  Oh, I tried in the evenings but what with dinner, household chores, schoolwork and the exhaustion of a full day's work, I realized I was not giving the concentration and focus that I should have been.  So when I retired, I decided that this was my time for morning reflection.  Now I am not saying that mornings work for everyone but they do for me.  Even though I do not have to rise by any certain time, I have been waking at 7:30am.  Coffee is on a timer so it is ready to go when I rise.  I put the tv on the SiriusXM music channel with only instrumental music, get my coffee and either read a spiritual book, write in my faith journal or just reflect on my companionship with God for that day.  I usually have a good hour before my husband rises for this spiritual time.  Having this hour to prepare myself spiritually to face the day has made a positive impact on my peaceful heart & open mind.

Monday, February 22, 2016

2/22/16 Inspiration

Inspiration for this week is...

On our own we will always be the 70% — we can never do enough, be enough, achieve enough, have enough will power or strength to do all the things life throws at us. But with God all things — the intimidating, the messy, the impossible — are possible.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Decluttering for Lent

Lent, for me, is a time to not only give something up but also to give something an individual, an organization, a community, etc.  Normally, during Lent I would give twice as much to my church in the Sunday collection plate.  But this year, I decided I wanted to do something different.  Giving money is great but how easy that your wallet, pull out the money and drop it in the basket.  Out of sight, out of mind.  It gave to someone or something but it did nothing for me.  Lent is when I should be learning about sacrifice, about appreciating the sacrifice Jesus made for us by experiencing one of my own.

While trying to get some inspiration on how to "give something" for Lent, I came across a post from a woman who chose to combine giving with decluttering.  She took a large trash bag and beginning on Ash Wednesday and each day thereafter, she put an item of clothing from her closet in it.  At the end of Lent, the bag of clothes would be donated to an organization that would see that the clothes go to people who need them.  Now you might say what does decluttering have to do with sacrifice.  Well, have you ever looked thru your closet and said, "I can't get rid of that.  I will wear it one day" or "When I lose 5 pounds that will fit again" or "That will come back in style soon".   Then you choose not to get rid of anything and clothes hang in your closet never to be worn again.  Decluttering the closet is like decluttering our lives.  Jesus wants us to focus on what is important in our lives not on the clutter.  He sacrificed His life to show that nothing else is more important than the life He gave us.  When He asked Peter and the apostles to follow Him, He told them not to bring anything.  They did not need anything but Him.  He is not asking us to totally get rid of everything, He is just asking us to share what we have so that we can follow His teachings better.  So, I have begun this Lent declutter project.  To my surprise, I am finding that it is not as hard as I thought it would be to declutter my closet and each time I put a piece of clothing in the bag, I pray and remind myself just where my focus should be.

Dear Jesus,
Just as I declutter my closet
one article of clothing at a time,
Help me to rid my mind and heart
of all the negativity and unimportant stresses
that take my focus off You.
Help me to focus on what You gave us
because of Your sacrifice on the cross
and help me prepare my mind, heart and
soul for Your coming on Easter morn.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Running Away From Home

My husband and I ran away from home.  Oh, we didn't go far, just 3 hours away to the Green Bay/Appleton, WI area.  But, nonetheless, we ran away from home for a few days.  We knew it was time to run away as cabin fever (or as I like to call it "The February Nutsies") came over both of us.  It had been snowing off and on for the last two weeks which means we had been stuck close to home.  Telemarketers and phone scammers had somehow made it their life mission to ring our phone all day and night.  TV, whether it be news or so called entertainment, had lost all its appeal.  A change of scenery is what was called for in this situation and if we didn't do it soon, one or both of us would have been in mortal danger  (we figured it out one year that we have to run away at least once a month, no matter the season, to preserve our individual and couple sanity).
We usually stay in Green Bay and then go to Appleton (1/2 hour away) the following day.  In Appleton, we visited the Fox River Mall and shopped till we dropped (or more till my husband dropped into a lounge chair and refused to move).  Then it was on to my happy place, Barnes & Noble, where I spent time browsing and shopping for more books and then sat myself down in the cafe to read while enjoying a vanilla cappucino grande and an asiago stuffed pretzel.  I could live in Barnes & Noble.  It has everything: bathrooms, soft couches, music, food & best of all, books.  After Barnes & Noble, we went to my husband, Butch's happy place which is the antique mall.  He spent at least 2 hours in there just going up and down every aisle.  Restaurants and movies and sightseeing are the norm on these short runaways.  Nothing planned in advance except for hotel reservations.  Just a need to get away and re-energize to face another month of the UP winter.
Now where shall we run away to in March?

Monday, February 15, 2016

2/15/16 Inspiration

 “A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.”
There is no act of mercy that is too little not to be recognized.

                                                 -Pope Francis

Monday, February 8, 2016

2/8/16 Inspiration

A fun inspiration for this week...

Friday, February 5, 2016

My Gratitude List

I am grateful for...
 *my husband of 43 years who has been loving, funny, patient, supportive, dependable, friend and    partner in this roller coaster of life.
 *my sons who have become the kind of young men that their father and I had prayed for when they were born.
 *my daughter-in-law who loves my oldest son so much that the happiness she brings him is obvious to all who know them.
 *my family, both near & far, whom I love no matter the circumstances.
 *my friends who stand by me no matter what mood I am in.
 *my good health and the good health of my family.
 *my career as a teacher that spanned 24 years and being able to share the gift of faith, learning and discovery to hundreds of children and be inspired daily by colleagues who love their profession as much as I.
 *my life in which I have had so much, not in material wealth but in the people and experiences (both good & bad) which have given me more than I could have imagined and made me the person I am today.

Most of all, I am grateful for...
 *my Faith in God.  Raised in His faith and coming to love Him as a child.  Living His faith and coming to know Him as an adult.  Sharing His Faith with my sons and the students in my care.   Understanding that my Faith in Him will sustain me and give me incredible joy up to and on that day when I will finally be face to face with Him in heaven.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Retirement is not a one-size-fits-all

I have been retired for over a year now and I have to say that "Retirement is not a one-size-fits-all" kind of deal.  When I first started planning to retire, a good friend who I love and admire gave me the best piece of advice.  She said to take the first year and not commit to anything.  Just get used to the idea of being retired.  I followed her advice and am glad I did.  In the beginning, it was easy not getting up at 5am, not having mountains of paperwork, grading papers and report cards, not having to go to work when the weather was cold, snowy and icy.  Those were the easy parts.  There were the bad days when I missed the students, the holidays celebrated in school, families that I have been part of over the years, colleagues I interacted with each day.  But ever so slowly, the good days started to outweigh the bad.
No one can tell you how to retire and what it will be like for you.  Everyone's retirement is different.  For example, my husband took to retirement very well.  He likes working around the house when he feels like it, going out and about when the mood strikes him or just taking a day off to do nothing.  He is happy and content no matter how busy or idle he is.  I, on the other hand, am not good with that kind of retirement.  Although I am quite happy not having to get up at 5am to get ready and go to work, to face cold winter mornings and hope I don't slip on the ice and break something (I speak from experience), I do like to have some kind of structure to my days.  I like to be busy but I also like the freedom to stop when I want to and be idle when the mood strikes me.
Summer is the easiest time for me to keep busy in retirement.  My todo list consists of  landscaping, journaling, antiquing, reading on the front deck, traveling near and far without worries about driving in bad weather, sewing, farmer's markets, etc.  However, winter in the UP has been a challenge for me to keep myself busy.  I am not a fan of cold and snow.  I know that's kinda weird since I live in a place that has winter for almost 8 months a year.  This means I tend to have a todo list that is strictly indoors.  This can get very old by February when I start developing cabin fever.  Also, I am not a good winter driver, so any places I want to go I need to take my husband with me.  Most of the time this is okay with him; but there are times when it is not.  Either we go somewhere he doesn't want to go and when we get there he is in such a hurry to leave, it puts both of us in a bad mood.
I started my blog to help me put some perspective on what I wanted my retirement to be like.  The writings in my blog are not only a sharing of opinions, ideas and thoughts with others but as I think about what I want to put in my blog, I gain insight into the ideas that matter the most to me.  These ideas might turn out to be too personal for a public blog but just thinking about them and writing them down can shed light on their substance.  It doesn't matter if they are published or not.  This has led me to think of all the things I would like to do now that I have the time to do them.  However, it has also shown me that I have some fear when it comes to accomplishing these things.  I lack the courage to jump in and do what my heart desires.
In one of the blogs I follow, "Kathy's Retirement Blog",  she talks about "Putting Your Dent in the Universe".  In the article, she explains how some disillusioned with retirement need to relook at what they are doing. "If you are spending too much time on busy work, if you are spending too much time meeting people for coffee or lunch, if you find yourself watching too much TV, if you find yourself depressed in retirement, if you spend money on stuff you don’t need, if you find yourself bored, if you’re complaining a lot, if you don’t like your life, if you don’t have an activity that feeds your soul, then take the leap.  Get out of your comfort zone. Be open to finding your passion. Be open to listening to life as it whispers to you about how to use your unique potential. We only have one chance to put our dent in the universe. Don’t blow it!"  This spoke to me and it has given me a new outlook as to how I want to make my retirement work for me.  I am going to try and get out of my comfort zone and take that leap of faith.  Wish me luck.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2/1/16 Inspiration

Inspiration for this Monday is....