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Living Purposefully

It Takes Two

As hard as it is to admit, I am the cause of my unhappy mindset as of late. I have been knee deep in a mudslide of stressful life situations. The one causing me the most angst is feeling like I am not heard or understood in my marriage. My outlook on it hasn’t helped at all. Bitterness, resentment, frustration and anger have seeped into my typically positive, joyful, optimistic way of living. I’ve been snappy, short tempered, and such a little brat. At certain times, I avoid contact with my spouse because there are unresolved topics between us, and I want them fixed! It makes me crazy when he doesn’t place them in the same “important-handle now!” file that I do.

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I admire his relaxed approach to the matters…you know, “Don’t worry! It will work out. Be patient, honey!” I’m over here like, “I’m not worried, but how will it work out? What is the first thing we need to do? How long do you think it will take? Should we drop back and punt to try another method, or stay the course?” The unknown and I don’t get along real well!


I strive to be open minded and honest in my relationship. I prefer to discuss significant matters until I have thoroughly processed them. Even when there is not an immediate solution, I want to talk about it until I feel better. I guess my emotions get the best of me, and if I feel strongly that something should be done. I want to work at it until it’s improved. Maybe that is selfish of me, and maybe not. I don’t really know. One thing I know for sure is that I need to respect our differences and learn to work with our strengths while we figure it all out.


Usually I am able to find the good in life, regardless of what I might be going through. Somehow, that hasn’t been the case for me recently. Shutting cabinets forcefully, and throwing out sarcastic remarks to my family, is not very becoming! There is no reason for me to be letting my circumstances dictate my attitude, because I believe with all my heart that God is good; no matter what I’m facing, I know I will get through it with His help. It is still up to me to do something about my cranky demeanor.


When I met my husband back in 2005, life felt a little more carefree. I was more spontaneous and was able to go with the flow more often. Now I see myself consumed with life events and circumstances, prohibiting me from feeling the freedom I once did. I confess that I am struggling to see the good above the difficult. I want to change, so one thing that helped was for me to sit with my husband and have a conversation about where we are in life. It was beneficial to listen to each other and realize how our thoughts, dreams and goals impact our personalities and our marriage. We haven’t had a lot of quality time together lately due to work schedules and the busyness of life. That has had a negative bearing on our relationship. We both agreed that it will take effort to make sure that we spend more time together.


Playing tennis the past two weekends was our first attempt at hanging out. What a great decision! We had a blast, and it felt terrific to spend valuable time with each other. Laughing, talking, exercising, and enjoying fresh air was so meaningful to me. Afterwards, I realized how such a simple act could begin mending some hurts that were sitting deep within my heart. Who would have thought a simple game of tennis could be so impactful!

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In the famous words of Rob Base, “It takes two to make a thing go right…it takes two to make it outta sight!” My husband and I plan on purposefully spending more time together, which will strengthen our bond. I can’t wait to see what positive effects our efforts have on our marriage. Now that the weather is nicer, we plan on biking together, as well as finding more outdoor activities to try. Hopefully some boating and fishing is in the near future as well! Even though he and I have different taste in how to spend our free time, I’m sure we can find some common ground to make the moments we share more meaningful.
 

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A Silent Retreat

As my car ascended the road leading to the retreat house, tears spilt down my cheeks involuntarily. Were they tears of joy? Sadness? Relief? Fear? All of these feelings and more swirled in my head as I rounded the circular driveway and parked out front. I approached the entrance, quite unsure of what to expect. I had, of course, viewed the website and knew a little about what I was heading into, but being there alone was a big step for me. And as much as I like to talk, the thought of two days of silence was a little daunting!

 

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The first beautiful sign from God that I was in the right place was a vibrant pot of yellow and blue pansies, smiling at me from the front porch. Those were my mommy’s favorite flowers, and when I saw them, I immediately relaxed a bit. I purposefully chose this weekend for a get-away, as it precedes her birthday by a couple of days.

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Upon opening the door, I was greeted by a monk. He signed me in, and showed me how the retreat operated, where I would stay for the weekend, and gave me the details on when meals would be served. He was so informative, kind and welcoming. I felt at ease right away. My first stop wasn’t very transcendental; it was a run to the bathroom since it took me over an hour and a half to get there! Once I brought in my belongings and got settled in my room, I was struck by the simplicity of the space. The first thought that came to my mind was how serene and peaceful I felt.

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Initially I wanted to curl up and take a rest, but the scenery outside was calling my name…the view from my bedroom window was magnificent!

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I walked outside and took a seat on a log bench facing the Shenandoah Mountains. I breathed in deeply to take as much of the fresh air in as I possibly could. Strong winds gusted around me. The clouds began to darken, and I felt a spattering of raindrops. In the distance, thunder rumbled, warning me of the impending storm. I sat a few moments more, still taking in the views.

Moving to a chair on the front porch, I watched some fat, heavy bumble bees buzzing about, bumping into pillars and into the sides of the building. I could hear the sizable raindrops falling fast. The wind began blowing sideways, and I felt the spray from the rain on my ankles and face. Still, I sat for 30 minutes, just listening and absorbing every moment.

Life can be like that storm that blew in out of nowhere. One minute you are going along just enjoying your day and bam! something happens to stop you in your tracks, making you adjust to a trial or situation you weren’t expecting. Many times you get soaked as you find shelter, and other times you are able to weather the storm and find some good in it.

One of the first things I noticed about being in the mountains was how alive I felt. There was something about being away from the grind of the busy life I live that struck me. Sometimes I get so caught up in the daily groove of my routine; sleep, wake up, eat, work, home, time with family, eat, sleep, etc…I adore my family, I just don’t think I make enough time to appreciate how blessed I truly am.

I also get distracted so easily. Conversations, music, TV, social media, chores, errands, to-do lists, and my general day-to-day schedule keeps me really busy most days. This weekend away truly opened my eyes to the need for me to stop and rest. Not just for a couple of minutes, and not with my phone in my hand checking Instagram and Facebook for the latest news and entertainment. I’m talking about honest to goodness R-E-S-T. I must make time to Relax, Escape, be Still, and enjoy Tranquility. This retreat showed me how to do that.

Googling “silent retreat” brought me to the Holy Cross Abbey website. I loved when I read, “All of good will are welcome at Holy Cross Abbey, those of whatever faith, those seeking faith, those not blessed with faith. You will find beauty of many kinds, and you will find peace. We invite you to share for a time the rhythms and stillness of our life. Our retreats are non-directed, individual and monastic in nature.”

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One of the most impactful parts of this get-away for me was meal time. All the retreatants dined together, sitting in a U-shaped table arrangement, and there was no conversation during meals. Breakfast was on your own each morning from 7-9 a.m., with cereal, fruit, toast and coffee/tea/juice available. Before lunch and dinner, we stood behind our chairs as a prayer was said to bless the food, and then we walked up to a table and served ourselves before going back to sit and eat. During one meal, soft music played, while the other meals were eaten in quiet. That was very different for me. I heard the clinking of silverware, cups tapping the table, people chewing and savoring their food, but no talking except for the occasional whisper of “please pass the salt, or may I have a napkin?” I loved that when you were finished eating, you cleared you own place, and then re-set it for the next meal using clean dishes and utensils. There was always tea, hot chocolate, coffee, dessert and fruit available.

My favorite spot to be on this retreat was the sun room. I had views of the mountains on two sides and it was such a cozy place to read, reflect and pray. During my two day stay I read two and a half books, plus a few articles and plenty of scripture.

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While reading The Way of the Heart by Henri J.M. Nouwen, I was struck by his words. “Solitude is the furnace of transformation.” I had plenty of solitude this weekend and I’m thankful for it!

I was awestruck at the clouds and vibrant blue skies I had the pleasure of seeing this weekend. I walked for hours and was taken aback at how everything jumped out at me. The lone yellow tulip greeting me as I passed a tree; blades of grass dancing in rhythm to the blowing of the wind; insanely radiant rays of sun streaming down to warm my skin; trees swaying in the breeze; cows staring at me as if they wanted to speak something relevant to me…

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These are not new sights. I mean I’ve seen them before in my life. Why was I so struck by their beauty? I believe it is because I was actually taking the time to experience them instead of hurriedly passing them by. I heard a birds wings flapping as it flew past me. The cows chewing grass in the field beside me was audible. I literally sat on a bench and watched the clouds slowly roll past me for 36 minutes. I know that much time passed because I went inside for lunch and couldn’t believe I had been out for so long just gazing up at the sky.

I drove home from this retreat today thankful for the time I spent there. Truly relaxing and moving at my own pace, choosing which activities I wanted to participate in, and savoring every moment has done wonders for my spirit. This was such a unique experience and I’m genuinely glad I went. If you would like more information, please check out https://www.virginiatrappists.org/. Maybe a silent retreat is in your future?? Would you consider this type of get-away?

After this weekend, these words have never meant more to me – The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Psalm 19:1

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Myrtle Beach

“Just bring yourself,” she said. Hmmmmm…an invitation for me to go to the beach for a long weekend? With nothing to think about except what time I want to go walk along the edge of where the sand meets the sea? Just the thought of listening to the sounds of the ocean breeze was enough to convince me. The fact that my big sis was the one inviting me was the icing on the cake!


Our first stop was at a convenience store to gas up and take a bathroom break. They just happened to be renovating their restrooms, of course, so we had to use a makeshift bathroom located adjacent to the building. It looked like an old school trailer! After you used it, you had to lift up on a pedal to fill the toilet bowl, and then press it down to flush. Mine wouldn’t work and we were laughing hysterically while trying to help each other figure the whole thing out. This was a great indicator of how much fun we were about to have on our little trip together. We figured a “trailer weird flushing toilet selfie” was mandatory to start things off.

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We arrived in Myrtle Beach around 1 a.m. It was a nice surprise to hear the ocean when I stepped out of the car! The house we stayed in was not oceanfront, but the fact that all we had to do was walk down the street to have our toes in the sand was a blessing!

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My sister is an Activity Director in an Assisted Living facility in Virginia. She had plans to visit another one in Wilmington, N.C., so we drove up there on Friday morning. After touring that place with her, and meeting the fabulous staff and residents, we headed back towards the place we were staying. On the way, we made an impromptu stop to tour the USS North Carolina. Honestly, I am not a big history/military buff, but going aboard that ship was a great experience! I thought we would just be walking on the deck, reading plaques about the history of the ship. Before I knew it, we were heading below deck to get a real feel for how the crew members lived, worked and experienced life aboard such a massive vessel.

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It’s funny because I am a control freak, as I’m sure you know if you’ve read any of my other posts. I like to plan stuff, and if I’m unsure about what is coming next I feel a little uncomfortable and out of sorts. Okay, a lotta bit–haha! Interestingly enough, I didn’t have that feeling this weekend. I just went with it, and truly enjoyed myself. Knowing that our brother lived close by to where we were staying, and that my best friend from high school was also in the area, gave me hope that we would be able to see them as well. I wasn’t sure about the details, but figured if it was meant to be, it would happen!
Thankfully, we were able to visit our big brother, who has lived in Myrtle Beach for years. We went to his house and spent several hours with him and his wife on Saturday. We enjoyed a magnificent lunch that they prepared, followed by delicious cheesecake to celebrate my sister’s birthday, which was on the following day. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together! There isn’t much more precious than quality family time. I love this shot of my sister, making a wish before she blew out her candle!

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After we finished eating and reminiscing, our brother drove us to an old Air Force base close to his house, and we got a quick lesson on some of the aircraft that we came across as we walked and observed a memorial. He and my sister spent time serving in the Air Force, so it was cool to hear my brother’s expertise on different facts about the planes.

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Remember that I mentioned my best friend living in the same area that we were visiting? Turns out that she worked about 5 minutes from my brothers’ house! She had no idea that I was at the beach, and I wanted to keep it that way, so I texted her to see if she was working that weekend. I told her I needed to talk with her about something important, and asked what time would be best to call her. She replied that she would be done working at 3:30, so any time after that would be fine. Bwahahaha…little did she know we were headed her way! The plaza she works in is somewhere that my brother takes his granddaughters to almost every weekend, so he knew exactly where it was. God is good – our plan was perfect! I walked in to her store and spotted her right away. She was glancing around, seeing if any customers needed help, and her eyes caught mine. She looked away, and then whipped her head back around, covered her mouth wide-eyed and in disbelief and said, “What are you doing here??? You don’t belong here!” It was great! Surprise, my friend! I am so grateful that she came by the beach house that night, and we talked until after midnight, trying to play catch up with each other’s lives. What a blessing to have had that time with her…

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My sister and I got word while down in South Carolina that our niece gave birth to her third baby. He decided to take a nice gulp of amniotic fluid as he entered this world, so he needed some time in the NICU to recuperate. We made his name in the sand out of shells, and said a prayer for him as we walked along the beach, hoping that he would be home with his family soon. Welcome to the world little one! We can’t wait to meet you in person!

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I’m truly thankful for the opportunity to have spent a weekend in Myrtle Beach. The sun, sand, and sea filled me with joy and peace. I was able to rest and release all that was on my mind for a few days. I am most appreciative of the quality time with my sister. She is full of wisdom, knowledge and humor and I am so glad we were able to share stories, uplift each other and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. She knew I needed a break, and she provided me with the perfect one. I’m thankful for the sweet friend of hers that allowed us to stay with her, and I’m giving God glory because He worked out each and every detail of this trip to make it the perfect getaway! Thanks for the memories sweet sister Tina, and Myrtle Beach! Until next time…
 

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Our current state of affairs

I’ve been quite busy these last few weeks. Work-life balance has kept me jumping from one situation to another, often without much reprieve in between. I’m okay with it all, actually. I feel good, and I am blessed!

After voting this week, I found myself stuck on one topic…how did we get here? For real. How did we end up in the current state we’re in? Many of our choices for the next leader of our country leave quite a bit to be desired. How can we be sure that we will end up in a good place with the choices we have?

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Has decency been replaced by derogatory comments? Are we expected to just sit by and watch as our people become more divided? Why is it that a good sized group in this country value wealth and pompousness over moral integrity? Is it supposed to be okay to treat others with such disrespect and rudeness?

It bothers me that we seem to be living in a state of confusion. We are bombarded with news feeds, from both social media and television, and they misconstrue truths and get the masses up in arms. Unfortunately this usually results in large groups of people going against each other. We are quick to judge, and even quicker to demean, belittle and ignore those we walk this earth with. We can’t think for ourselves, and are left to make decisions based on people the world tells us know best. What the what? Come on people! Educate yourself, and stand up for what you know is right! Your voice matters and you have every right to be heard.

So many times I’ve heard, “I’m not voting. My one vote doesn’t make a difference.” I have to honestly admit that I used to feel that way. Part of me still does. Deep down I truly believe that we are made to accept what the political/government/rich folks want us to believe, even when it is immoral, unjust and not what is best for us all. We are often told one thing by those in leadership, and then receive a completely opposite response and end result.

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I have no idea how this election will turn out. I am not even sure we have a good candidate at all to lead this country. What I do know, is that I will continue to live my life as a servant of God, doing all I can to treat others with kindness, respect and love as I follow His will for my life. By doing that, I can’t go wrong, and I know it will make a positive, meaningful difference in this world. It isn’t the answer to fix our political system and government, but it is a step in the right direction! I’m praying for our country, and trusting that if nothing else, this season will teach us great lessons on how important it is to live with purpose and with the intent to leave this place better than we find it.

 

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I'm "Can't-ing" today...

Annoying! Crazy! Hard to believe! Some situations make me stop and say, “I just can’t….” Whether they are irritating, sad or otherwise cause me to throw myhands up in disbelief, here are some things that make me say, “I literally just cannot…”


-When I’m driving to work and cars in front of me refuse to pick 95 or Route 1 to travel on, it makes me crazy. They instead choose to chill in the middle lane of the street I have to drive .5 miles on to get to work. "Yo! Move please because I have chosen my route already, and want to be on time to work!"

-I head to the kitchen for a little snack and open the cereal box, only to find crumbs and like 4 pieces of actual whole cereal left…ugh! Who does this? Just finish the box. I mean it’s not like the next person can even snack on the miniscule pieces you didn’t eat. Its okay to love the cereal too, just please don’t leave me the dust in the bottom of the box!

-Craving a grilled cheese sandwich, I reach up and grab the loaf of bread only to find one piece left. Not even a real bread piece…instead, there is literally only one butt piece left. Just no! Not the butt! I can’t…please throw it out for the birds next time and grab the new loaf out of the freezer to replace the loaf you just demolished. Thanks!

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-I need milk. It is the only thing that goes well with peanut butter. Happily I pull the fridge door open and see that there is a milk gallon in there. Yes! Victory! But what’s this? One sip left? That’s it? Really? I mean not even a good gulp left, just a tiny sip? Please just drink the rest next time, don’t leave a splash of milk for me. Ever. Again. Gosh… 

-Let’s face it – sometimes it’s a mad dash to the bathroom, and there is nothing as frustrating as reaching for the toilet paper and seeing that there is ¾ of a sheet and some glue left on the roll. Pretty sure we all know by now where the new rolls are kept…replacing the roll only takes 4 seconds ladies and gentlemen! You can do it! I believe in you!

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Have you had circumstances lately that cause you to say, “I just can’t?” If so, what were they? How did you cope? Maybe I’m the only strange lady that gets a little bent over silly things… hmmmm! :)


 

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About Tammy

tammy

I am a happily married mommy of three, who is living my life in hopes of making a positive difference in the world. I will share my ups and downs with you all to encourage and support you along your journey.  Live with purpose, and choose joy!

Pouches' Community Corner

This month Pouches learned about a very important resource for families who have lost loved ones to sudden tragedy, an organization called LLOST.

keepsake box

The foundation has helped 44 hospitals in 22 states through their Treasured Memories program. The program sends nurses to bereavement training, and provides or supplements the $55 memory boxes that include clothes, booties, handknot blankets, pictures, foot prints, hand prints, clipped hair and other mementos.

Read more...