A few of you had a good 2017. More of you had a not-so-good, very bad, frustrating, craptastic year you’re ready to kick to the curb. Either way, 2018 is upon us.
Some people have spent the year deep in the political realm where others fought natural disasters or family traumas or simply their own personal demons or even all of the above. Life is never easy.
For me, it was the ying and yang of years. It’s what I call a “transition” year. We moved home which was what I wanted, but there was that whole part in there where I decided to do the Steve Harvey “jump.” As Steve says, when you jump, there’s a time where you are waiting for the parachute to come out and it may be a little bumpy. (Bumpy is his word. Mine is more Metrodome-imploding-esque) Yeah, I’m there. Change and I are not big friends. I left the consistency of a career I’d had for 20 years to venture into the unknown. And the unknown is a new world of jobs, trying to find new friends to add, and navigating the world with a 2/3-year-old who knows no boundaries. It’s been a harder struggle than I expected. Surely not my usual, but here we are…
I had been craving a fresh start and 2018 when Christmas hit. My usual preparations were not complete, and I was feeling a sense of failure that I should know not to put on myself, yet I do. We ended up having an unexpectedly great Christmas. I, especially, was given a little piece of happiness I didn’t know was missing. My husband and I were opening presents while the wild one played with hers. Yes, he knows how to give gifts! But it wasn’t the expensive one that made me cry, it was the $5 one that did. After all my doubts and worries and second-guessing if I made the right decisions for our family, my husband gave me a box with a journal in it that simply said “follow your dreams.”
At 43, I sometimes think it is frivolous to still want something bigger and to be such a dream-seeker, but at 43, I also can’t quit dreaming. I believe everyone has a reason they were put on this earth. Although I don’t fully think I’ve figured out my reason, I know it’s coming and that little gift was a reminder that I have someone who truly believes in me even when he questions my route (and Hell, even I question my route!).
I guess my message is that as 2018 approaches, take a little time to think the impossible and don’t be afraid to go after it, especially if your current has been a little more ugly duckling than Bret Michaels-rockstar. It’s a new year – a new chance to get it right or at least less wrong or to find peace in what you have done or what you are about to do. There’s a lot of good in this world, we just have to find it. And here’s my wish for you:
May 2018 be the year you live your life,that you love yourself, that you make the world better for those around you, and that you find that little piece of happiness you’ve been missing…
Happy New Year, my friends!
For those of you not from my hometown, two people were killed in a bus fire this morning. I pondered whether to post or not about this topic, but deduced that perhaps it is in these times that people need someone else’s perspective and words to put a voice to their own. So here are my thoughts…
First, there are always people who cast blame in these situations. I get that, because part of the grieving process includes anger, and we live in a world where sometimes it’s easier to blame than look inward. But this is not a situation where blame will do anyone any good… It won’t. Unfortunately, it is too late for that. We must now figure out how to avoid this happening ever again and we must take action, and by action, I don’t mean complaining to your neighbors or your family. I mean fixing problems, standing up for injustices, putting good into the world – whatever it is that makes our homes, our community, and our world a better place.
Second, love, sympathy, and if you believe in prayers, prayers for all of those affected and all those who weren’t. Yes, I said “weren’t.” Everyone needs it.
I saw tons of prayers for Riverside posts on my Facebook feed, even from surrounding communities. That’s why we live here. But don’t lose sight of taking part in person. We live lonely lives because we are afraid to reach out. We are more comfortable on a computer.
I went to the elementary today. You can’t know a teacher’s job till you’ve been one. You can’t know the heartfelt thoughts of a child till you’ve heard your own say something that makes you cry. You can’t know how it feels if you have not walked in the shoes of losing someone, but you can love instead of hate. You can provide extra support for those that need it, or food to the families, or donations, or even your services to a school that is going to need direction. Go to the sources. Put your talents to task on helping in the way you can. Don’t complain to your friends. Go to those that can make a difference and make one.
Third, grieve. Allow yourself to have those thoughts and process them. I will be honest. I knew that the kids on my street would have been riding that bus later in the route. It caused me angst just having that thought. I thought about my sister who fielded all those calls this morning and who loves every kid that walks in the doors. I cried just watching people around me deal with what they have to deal with, but it reminded me that I have a burning desire to make things better. I joined the Oakland Betterment Committee because I am going to do my part. I know a lot of other people that do, too. You can’t make a difference if you’re not in the game…
Fourth, life is all about choices and good decision-making. When things like this happen, a lot of people are left feeling lost and asking “why?” The “whys” don’t usually have answers. But I have learned that when I am lost, the first place I start is by doing for others. No, that’s not a goody-good statement. It is a matter of self-preservation. I feel best when I can do for others. If you need to sit in a bathtub and soak, or sleep for an extra 6 hours, or hug your kids and take them to supper, do what you need to do. But don’t judge others who choose differently. And don’t take your anger out on others or push away a hand that reaches out.
Finally, life is hard. That’s not going to change. But what are they going to say at your funeral? Whether it be painting rocks for the parks, buying pieces for shoeboxes for shelters, leading a 4-H club of future overachievers, being a coach or teacher or a bus driver, do what you can and don’t knock those that are doing what they can. There’s an old quote that I think was Oscar Wilde who said, “Live your life so that when you go, even the undertaker will be sorry.”
In times of tragedy, we must not cast stones, but well wishes. As I always say:
Peace and love.
How ‘bout making it an Iowa Christmas?
You all know this was the magical (I use that term loosely) year we moved back home. What better way to honor my great state than to tell you how you can make it an Iowa-kind-of-Christmas for your family, too!
First off, if you know someone who lives in Iowa or is from Iowa that doesn’t get the Our Iowa magazine, well, it’s about time they did! Amazing pictures, great articles, and feel-good Iowa moments.
Bring on da butter cow…
Secondly, it’s never too early to think about the Iowa State Fair! Yes, you can buy advance tickets, plus a ton of memorabilia from them, too! Only 250 days till ISF! They have a count-down. True story.
Hand me a Samwitch, Joey…
Third, do you have those lovely, but annoyingly hard-to-buy-for-retired people in your life? Get them gift cards to do the Tenderloin Trail and eat their way through Iowa! Yum!
Fourth, sport a native Iowa t-shirt like me! I love these shirts! They have them for women, men, and children! We can be twinzies.
Go Team Go!
Finally, if someone has time on their hands, then they should be supporting the home teams! Check out Iowa State, UNI, or even Iowa basketball, football, hockey, or volleyball games. Nothing boring about catching a game in person!
I could actually add a ton to this list. Might even do that next week, but for now – let’s just say we Iowegians, as they call us, gotta stick together!
Happy Holidays from Oakland, Iowa!
Thinking of purchasing one of these? Let me know. A proud Iowan? Tell me about it.
Thanksgiving is upon us. Some of you are probably excited for the spread of down-home, good cooking. Some of you are probably fretting over your to-do list. Some of you are probably plotting your Black Friday strategies. And some of you are thinking about how annoying your family is or whether you should even attend.
But here’s what I have to say: I drove by the local bar today, and I was so very impressed with the idea that they are hosting a Thanksgiving Day potluck for those who don’t have a place to go. I think that is truly a rockstar idea and the thoughtfulness of it is genuinely sweet. Way to go, Tailgaters! What a great situation for those that need it. However, those of us who don’t, should maybe take a step back and appreciate we don’t need a place to go, that our assumed holiday plans are still intact. It’s so easy to lose sight of that fact.
Let me go on record as saying, forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Yes, your Uncle Tom will say something hideous like you’re going to be an old maid. Your mother will pick at the collar of your shirt and doubt your attire. Your 3-year-old niece will scream at the top of her lungs over the Cool Whip. Yes, you will be irritated, but they are your family. Do you know who realizes how important family is? Those who don’t have one. When you are in the thick of it, it’s hard to remember you are blessed with the crazy, the nosy, the difficult, the show-off, the once-a-year-glory-hound, the obnoxious, and the jokester, but you are.
The world is not an easy place, but it can be a good place. When we quit finding faults with those that surround us and start loving them for what they do have to offer, we all win. I won’t say that’s an easy task when you’ve been burned, and I won’t say everyone makes it easy, but Thanksgiving is about being thankful. Be thankful this Thursday… even when the toddler spills your wine. Because there’s always a silver lining: Walgreens will be open and it’s at least a 15-minute drive away from the clamor of the annual family flag football competition. See – always a solution!
Happy Turkey Day, America!
Are you wondering how in the world Thanksgiving could possibly be next week? Yeah, me, too! And you know what else that means is next week? The Christmas Singaloo in Oakland! And, yes, I expect you to be there!
Of course, the “there” has changed. Our new venue location is Main Street! Yes, we switched it up from the park so we would have restroom facilities. Kind of an important little detail! Especially if you have your flask with you! Lol.
But seriously, you need to be there! Yes, it’s going to be cold. It’s Iowa. It’s November, and it’s night-time. But that’s what you have winter clothes and blankets and thermoses for!
And it will be worth it! Like I said before – grab your bag chair, your lawn chair, or your recliner for all I care and park it on Main Street. You provide your chair. We’ll provide the entertainment!
We’ve got Santa lined up with glow sticks and candy canes. We’ve got pizza, fudge, cookies, and hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps you can buy. And we’ve got great singers who fully intend on making your night a fun one! And when I say I have singers, I have singers! I have the Grist Mill singers coming. I have Jackie Akers singing! I have Isabelle Kudron and Adrienne Suglia! I have Veva Larson! And we have a few surprises up our sleeves, too!
Plus, by Saturday night, who isn’t sick of each other and needing a little entertainment? You can always catch a Hallmark movie on Sunday instead! Lol.
Come have some fun! Come support our town! Come enjoy the sounds of the holidays! Come – well, because I’m asking you to!
See you there!
So you feel like everything in the news is depressing.
You feel like life is too busy and you are never home.
You believe in the good, but you’re tired of hearing about the bad.
You know you’re struggling on some front…or more.
If any, or all, of these sound like you, then there is no better time than now to dedicate yourself to The 6th Annual Blessed Turkey Project. I know. I get it. You don’t need one more thing to do, especially in November when the holidays are approaching, but I’m going to tell you it will be worth it.
If any of those things are plaguing you, then you need to allow yourself the pleasantry, the optimism, and the gratitude that comes with being a Blessed Turkey.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my terminology, I define a Blessed Turkey as someone who is at least meeting all their basic needs with a place to live, a job or school, a family or friends or both, and enough food to eat, and although they know they should be grateful for all they have, they sometimes, get too caught up in the daily grind to appreciate it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have it all together or that they have it easy, it just means they haven’t got it all wrong either! And they know enough to know they have it better than some. I am sooo a blessed turkey.
We tend to compare ourselves. We seem to always be wanting more. We think about everything around us and we get overwhelmed. It’s easy to do. But there’s no greater time than now to simply vocalize the gifts in our lives. I firmly believe it makes us happier. It makes us stronger. It makes us better people. It makes the world a better place. It makes us look at things differently. And most of all, it makes us part of something bigger.
This will not cost you any money (unless you decide to be a good Samaritan and buy a cup of Joe for someone or a can for the Food Pantry but that’s your decision, not mine). This is not something you have to do every day (although you’ll feel better if you do). This does not involve a committee, or funeral sandwiches, or you even leaving your house or your chair. Lol. It is simply taking a minute to be thankful for something each day between November 1 and Thanksgiving. Join here simply by clicking on the link! It can be a post on Facebook saying what you’re grateful for. It can be an Instagram pic of your favorite blessing. It can be a tweet of I’m a #BlessedTurkey because… All it is is a moment each day on some form of social media sharing your gratitude with others because, people, it spreads!
I’m not inviting you to the party because I want something from you. I’m inviting you to the party to give you something: I want to give you a little piece of happiness every day between now and Thanksgiving. I want to do that for you because there are good people in this world doing good things and celebrating that makes us all happier…and better…and kinder…and loved.
If you have people that you want to give this same gift to, share this with them and let’s wear our Blessed Turkey crowns proudly! All aboard the Blessed Turkey bus, head here: The Blessed Turkey Project – Year Six.
We are less than a week out from Halloween! My daughter has been practicing her trick-or-treat protocol. All I can say is not to ask her for a trick. It won’t be pretty. Lol. But what I truly love is that Halloween is like a week-long process here. She got to wear her costume to dance. She gets to wear it to daycare. She gets to wear it for the neighborhood trick-or-treat on Halloween, AND she gets to wear it for the Trunk-or-Treat. How freaking awesome is that? It’s like only $4 a wearing! 🙂
For those of you who are from out of town and have no idea what a trunk-or-treat is – well, businesses literally open up the backs of their vehicles and give out candy from them in a well-lit venue. From what I saw last year, I was thoroughly impressed! Some of them had games the kids could play to win their candy, or floating heads moving in the vehicle for the kids to see a show, or they dressed up themselves even. Clearly these people put some time and effort into making a special day for all those kids.
Last year was the first time we experienced the trunk-or-treat. Let me just say “how cool is that?” I think it’s awesome that businesses and organizations show up to give out treats on a quiet afternoon. Carson is having their Trunk-or-Treat Friday night and the Carson Methodist Church is having their soup supper in conjunction with it. A no-make-supper night for mom! Gotta like that! And Oakland is having theirs on Sunday afternoon and if you’re wanting to see the giraffe known as Carley, you’ll find her there. Plus, rumor has it that the Oakland Christian Church is doing a Pancake supper! Woohoo!
We loved it last year. Ellen got candy, and we got to socialize! She was obsessed with Jo and Dick Cates who were dressed up, sitting in rocking chairs, and had a taxidermied jack rabbit that she couldn’t stop petting. It was creepy as sin and she loved it.
What I’m getting at is that if you are looking for the good – it’s right here in front of you. A bunch of people take time out of their lives on a weekend outside of work to make a special day for a lot of kids and it’s a pretty sweet gig for my daughter. We don’t go for the candy. We can buy her candy. We go for the experience, and I hope the people out there that put the love into these events know it is appreciated.
Kid or not, stop by! We’ll be looking for you (well, truthfully, I might be chasing my child, but…)!
Schedule of Events according to Riverside Links:
Halloween Trick-or-Treating around Riverside!
Carson Business Trick or Treat
Friday, October 27, 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Soup Supper 4:00 to 7:00 at Carson United Methodist Church
Oakland – Halloween Trick-or-Treating
Sunday, October 29 – 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Macedonia – Halloween Treats on Main Street
Tuesday, October 31 – 4:30 to 6:30 pm
Questions? Thoughts? Let’s hear them.