Thursday, December 30, 2010


While snow covered branches add beauty to a dreary winter sky, it fails to give me the warm, cozy winter feeling that so many people seem to love. While I can appreciate the beauty, I find myself longing for the bright colors and sunshine that come with spring.

December is still with us and we have already seen four snowfalls, two of which were significant. One left us stranded for two days on our little mountain. That is more than enough for me!

I have never been one to love the winter. I do not like being cold at all. I would rather be drenched in sweat than have the slightest chill. So while the kids are enjoying sledding, snowball fights and hot chocolate, I will be daydreaming of spring. Emerging buds on the tree branches, dandelions seeming to grow overnight and the smell of freshly cut grass will fill my dreams!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Dedication. Hard work. That is what it takes to graduate nursing school. Even more dedication and hard work is required when you are the mother of two, one being a 17 year old teenager. Need I say more? Even more is required when you are also a single mom.

That is why I am writing this special post. My friend deserves more pats on the back than my words can accomplish. It has been her life-long dream to be a nurse. As long as I can remember, she has talked of being a nurse. Knowing her like I do, I know that she tremendously enjoys inflicting pain. She was always way too anxious to "take care" of any wounds or injuries! Just thinking about her eyes lighting up at the thought makes me laugh.

All joking aside, nursing is the perfect career for my friend. Her lively spirit is contagious, no pun intended. I have no doubt that through her talent, her compassion and her resolve, she will indeed change the world, one patient at a time.

Congratulations Kristen Sowder on your graduation! May you find many open doors before you!

Friday, December 10, 2010


They say you can't run away from your problems. They say they only follow you. I guess I would have to agree.

HOWEVER, I am huge believer in putting some distance between yourself and your situation. Sometimes it is only with distance that clarity will come. I think the appropriate saying is "You can't see the forest for the trees." To be able to see my forest, I usually head to the beach.

When I spend time by the ocean, my clarity comes and life seems much less complicated. Is it the sound? Is it the smell of the salty air? Is it the feel of the sand between my toes? I don't know. Maybe it is all of the above. I am sure there are lots of things written about the peace you can find by the seashore. All I know is that it works for me. My seaside visits always put my life and my situations in perspective.

So, I am off to the beautiful Gulf Coast with my husband. I am stepping out of my little world. Knowing that when I return, things will look much brighter. So as East Tennessee prepares for snow, I am searching for my flip flops! Stay tuned for updates on my seaside discoveries! As always, thanks for reading!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


After an extended absence, it sure feels good to be back to writing the blog. I have been recovering from a "virus." Four weeks of symptoms was all it took for the doctor to finally give me an antibiotic. I am finally feeling better!

Christmas is right around the corner! Oh my goodness, I can not believe how fast this year has passed. When I was younger, I always heard my parents talk about how fast time goes. I thought they were crazy. As a child, the time just stood still waiting for Christmas. Surprise! They were right. I know they love hearing me say that!

Like 2009, this year has still been difficult for many people. I expect Christmas giving will be smaller than just a few years before. I know that is true for my family. Please remember that gifts are just stuff and things. Stuff does not replace what people truly want to feel. We can find ways to show our love without spending tons of money. Be careful this holiday season and do not over extend yourself. We want 2011 to start brighter and better for everyone!

However, please do not forget to give to those who are not lucky enough to have the option to buy anything. There are those that are unable to afford basic needs such as shelter, clothing, and food. These people are not the leeches on society that so many people believe them to be. Check back with me in the next few days. I am going to share with you a very, personal story that I hope will make you see giving in a whole different light. As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


My deepest apologies for the delay in part two of the series, Social Experiment - Josh Style. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I was unable to deliver part two in a timely manner. But now, the wait is over.

To refresh your memory, I set the goals for myself to reach out to five people. I wanted those connections to go beyond the casual weather and traffic conversation. To my disappointment, I was not able to do that AND follow all the rules with five people. However, I did meet all the qualifications with at least two or three people. Let me tell you about my encounters.

#1 This sweet little lady was a clerk in Walmart. I didn't get her name which is why my talk with her does not qualify. However, we had a great conversation about Black Friday. Now keep in mind, this November 18th. Black Friday was just about a week away. She was very nervous. She still was not clear on what time they were opening, what was going to happen, and the thing I found most amusing was she had reservations about how many lanes they would have open. Now if you shop at our East Town Walmart, you know we all have those same concerns every time we go, much less on the busiest shopping day of the year. That was too funny. She shared with me that since she worked in a secured area, the jewelry department, that she was not allowed to go to store meetings. You would think that the least they would do was keep her up to date. Anyway, she was not looking forward to all of the crazy people that came out on that day. I shared with her that I am normally one of those crazy people. I promised her that if I made it out this year, that I would behave! Sweet little lady! Remember you Black Friday shoppers, these people are trying to do their jobs the best they can. Show some holiday spirit during your shopping and mind your manners. Take a moment to tell them thanks for their hard work!

#2 I am on the fence about whether this next one counts or not. Apparently, I went to high school with this person and his sister. He was a couple of years younger than me. He recognized me, but for the life of me, I do not remember him. I remember his sister's name vaguely. But anyway, we had a brief conversation. He worked at the repair shop where I took my car and spent way too much money. Isn't that always the case? Anyway, he told me about his home and how his sister got a divorce. She moved in with him. He said she was a hoarder and pretty much trashed his house. He couldn't deal with it anymore, so he gave her the house and moved out. I wish I could share some pleasant things I learned, but it was really all kind of sad. They can't all be winners.

#3 My #3 was a sweet lady named Patricia. She was the owner of the shop. I really enjoyed my time with her. She shared with me how the shop was operated by her husband and father-in-law and how they had both passed. Everyone was telling her that the shop would not last without them. Boy has she proved them wrong. It has lasted and is doing very well. In the face of loss and adversity, she overcame. What a strong spirited lady. Being a mom myself, it wasn't long before our talk turned to her kids and her grand babies. We talked about how scary some of the challenges are that kids faced today. She shared with me that her biggest disappointment was when she found her son's marijuana when he was in high school. If that was the scariest thing today her grand babies were going to face she wouldn't worry so much. She told me about a Friday night tradition she shares with her girlfriends. She said every Friday night, they get together and go have Mexican food together. She said they each have one margarita and share a great meal together. Then they go next door to the dollar theater and watch a movie. They said they have that routine for several reasons. Both the Mexican food and the dollar movie are inexpensive. They can responsibly enjoy a drink and because the movie is next door, the effects of the alcohol are worn off by the time they leave the theater. Also, whether there are three or four or five or six, that time is precious to all of them. I thought that was pretty amazing. It was a pleasure to meet and learn about you, Patricia.

#4 My #4 was the stylist that cut my hair. Now I know some of you ladies are dedicated and very loyal to your stylist. Some women I know have used the same stylist for years. I pick my stylist based on convenience and price. Normally, anytime I get my hair cut, the conversation is about my hair and past experiences. I do all the talking. This time, I shut my mouth, for the most part, and listened. Her name is Denise. She is a really cool person. She is a mother of two, six and eight. She has been a stylist for 16 years. She has been with her current employer for three years. She was a little aggravated because they have a very strict policy about them working only 5 hours and 59 minutes before they take a break. They are so strict in fact, that the employees can lose their job for violations. Anyway, Denise also helps in an elementary school as a tutor under the no child left behind act. You could tell from her tone that she is very passionate about the kids she helps. She also shared with me her about her love of turtles after I noticed the turtle on top of her squirt bottle. She said she loves them so much. She has a turtle tattoo on the top of each foot, one a terrapin and the other a sea turtle. She also said that the little rubber turtle has been with her since she was in cosmetology school. She is very protective of that little turtle. She was very open and sweet and I do plan to visit her next time. Maybe she will by "my stylist."

#5 - didn't happen, sorry. I did my best.

So what did I learn from this experience? I learned that people are so willing to open up and share if you give them the opportunity. I learned that because I usually have my mouth in overdrive that I am missing out on meeting some really cool people. I also learned that as much as we think we are alone in our little worlds, that the people "out there" are not so very different from us.

I can't say that I am be able to reach out like this to so many people every day. But I can say that I will try to do it much more often than I have in the past. I challenge you to try it. You never know who you will meet or whose life you can touch by just listening. This may be especially true when so many people find themselves saddened by this upcoming holiday season. As always, thanks for reading and spending your time with me.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Reserved, guarded, timid are not words that most people use to describe me. That is only because they know me. We have a relationship. Once we know each other, the descriptions do a complete 180 degree turn. They become words like talkative, candid, and outspoken. So why is there such a difference?

Underneath the opinionated person that my friends and family know, I am someone who is less confident than I would like to be. It is kind of scary to reach out and talk to strangers. What if they don't like me? What if I use my strange sense of humor and they don't get it? What if....? All of those what ifs keep me from becoming the person I would truly like to become. Now don't get me wrong, I am not someone who stares at the floor and never speaks to anyone. I overcame that years ago, LOL. However, I don't ever too far past a pleasant smile or the idle chit chat with a cashier.

When my son was much younger, probably around 12 or 13, he used to do what he called social experiments. We always shopped for groceries as a family. In the grocery stores, he would walk up to random people, put his hand out to shake their hand and say "Hi, my name is Fish!" I have to admit, I was both intrigued and embarrassed just a little by his forwardness. It just was not something that people do. I never told him how much I actually admired him. I will today. So I am going learn to do today what my very intelligent son knew at such an early age.

So today I am challenging myself! I have several things to get done today. I have to go have my brakes checked, get my haircut, and meet a friend for dinner. Today, I pledge to reach out and talk to at least five people. Here are the rules I am setting for myself.

1. These people must be total strangers
2. I must introduce myself
3. I must engage with this person, not just get an introduction

When the day is done, I will report back to you my experiences. Today, I am not going to go through the motions. Today, I will interact with the world around me. Today I will grow.

As always, thanks for reading! Please tune in tomorrow for the update!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Christmas is just around the corner. Usually by this time of year, I have at least written my shopping list. I have some idea of who I am buying for and an idea of what I would like to get them. The past couple of years have been different.

One of the best things that changed for me during the crash of the economy, was a change in priorities. I used to have to buy gifts for everyone. I felt it was the way I showed my love for them. It wasn't always a lot of money, but it was just enough to make me worry about money during the holidays. There has been a fundamental shift in my thinking.

About this time last year, we were moving to our new home after losing our home in foreclosure. Christmas was REALLY small last year. But the year before, we had already made some changes. We switched to drawing names instead of buying for every family member. That was a major change, especially since I was the one that fought that decision for years. But the big change was about how we spent the holidays. We focused on being together instead of "stuff."

It was the best Christmas ever! We had about 17 people most of the time. We always had friends dropping in for a bit. We had every bed, couch, and spot on the floor filled. My house was only 1500 sq. ft so you could imagine how cramped it was. We set up a makeshift ping pong table in the garage, hung a dartboard and everyone brought games. We started about 11:00 am Christmas Eve. We baked desserts and cookies together. We prepared our snacks for Christmas Eve. We played games and laughed so much. We opened our gifts, one each, and had a blast. Everyone got what they wanted because we had put our requests on the back of our names when we drew at Thanksgiving. Christmas morning Mamaw (my mom) made biscuits and gravy for everyone! It was awesome! Then later we prepared Christmas dinner together. Since we were all together, it took away the stress and pressure of traveling between homes and trying to see everyone, not to mention the gas money we saved!

It was chaos, but it was beautiful chaos. Our Christmas was about being together. It was about family. It was about love. It was the first Christmas that I had ever experienced that kicked "stuff" and "What did you get me?" out to the curb where I think it belongs.

I know we are raised in a society where we are bombarded with commercialism. We have become a society where it is all about what do I own. However, I believe that I am not the only one who has changed. Maybe you were not affected too bad by the economy. Maybe your whole world was shaken like mine. Either way, I challenge you to think about how commercial your Christmas has become. I am not asking you to change years of tradition. I am asking you to think for just a moment, how it could be different. How could you change the focus of your Christmas?

I would love to hear your thoughts on your special traditions that have nothing to do with money! As always, thanks for sharing your time with me.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


In general, people look forward to the weekend. I guess that is why everyone knows what TGIF means. Friday comes and it is like all of the responsibilities and burdens of the week melt away and we are free. The weekends are filled with laughs, good times with friends and family, and just plain old down time. Monday is only thought about with dread.

For some, including me, sometimes the weekends are the worst thing that can happen. I am not saying that there are not some weekends that are so fun filled that you can't help but enjoy them. But for me, sometimes the weekend means alone time. Most people dream of stealing a few hours of alone time where their every waking moment is not being demanded by someone or something. I was so looking forward to that myself for Saturday morning.

We have had a couple of weeks of what has felt like non-stop activity. As much as I enjoyed all of the go, go, do, do, it wears thin eventually. It leaves me in utter exhaustion. I then find myself dreaming of a few hours alone. But for me, that is probably the worst possible "therapy". I have not left the house for 48 hours. Now I find myself dreaming about Monday. When Monday comes, I have responsibility. When Monday comes, I have accountability. When Monday comes, I don't have to be alone in my head.

It may not be normal to feel that way. Or it may be normal and no one admits it because we are all supposed to love the weekends. Who knows? All I know is that for me, when life slows down too much and my responsibilities are too few, I find myself feeling very alone and very sad. If I feel this way after just 48 hours, I can't imagine how people are going to feel this holiday season when they find themselves alone during what is supposed to be a happy, jolly season.

Kind of a dark post, but I am kind of in a dark place tonight. Tomorrow will be Monday and the responsibilities of the week will be upon me. So I suspect that I will be much more enlightened then. Thanks for reading!

They say that there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing." I believe it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


You know that feeling you get when you get off one of those rides at the amusement park that spins you in circles really fast? It's that feeling that your head is spinning and you can't quite stand up straight. Once you stand still, focus, and give your body a chance to readjust, you can regain your balance. You can once again, stand up straight, walk straight, and that spinning sensation in your head stops.

What about when your life is out of balance? For me, the feelings are very similar. The thoughts in my head are going 100 miles an hour. I lose the ability to focus on anything, much less the things that are most important. I can't find my true direction (my true North) so I pretty much end up chasing my own tail. I become irritable, withdrawn and unable to function as the person I want to truly be. So how do I fix it? How do I get my life back in balance?

Here is where you are expecting some insightful comment. Here is where I wish I had one. The truth is I don't know. I do know, however, that it MUST be so much more than just balancing work and home. It must include all of the things above in this handy little picture. But how in the world do you go about achieving that. Do you say "one hour a day is for friends, one for my husband, one for my kids?" It is exhausting just thinking about it. Is there an easier way?

Now don't laugh, but I have an image in my head of what the perfect start to the day looks like. I would love to wake up each and every morning, go sit on my eastward facing deck, watch the sun rise, drink a warm cup of coffee in solitude and read the morning paper. Now there are only two problems with that perfect morning. I don't read the paper and I don't drink coffee. You said you wouldn't laugh. Alright, you can! I do every time I think of that and try to figure out why I still have that fantasy.

Seriously, where do we get the images of what a peaceful, perfect, balanced life looks like? Sometimes it is hard to distinguish what is truly my desires and what has been burned in my head by some movie, some book, your pastor or somebody else. All the lines begin to blur after a while.

So where does that leave me for now. For now all I know to do is when I feel like I can't stand up and my head is spinning, I hurry up and plan to get away. It seems to be the only time I can truly disconnect from all of the noise in my head and life and listen to who I truly am. I long for the day that I can do that right now, right where I sit, at any moment.

I hope that you have your life in balance. I hope you find time for all of the important things in your life. And if you have time to share your comments or suggestions, I truly welcome them and appreciate them. Thanks for sharing your time with me!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


We all make mistakes. We have in the past. We probably did today. We definitely will in the future. I understand that. Furthermore, I appreciate that. We grow by making mistakes and learning from those mistakes. What I don't understand is how you can intentionally, purposefully use and hurt other people and be able to lay your head down at night.

Now, please don't misunderstand my words. I am truly coming from a place of confusion and frustration. I do not write these words from some balcony looking down. I make my fair share of mistakes and bad decisions. Actually, I make more than my fair share. But when I settle down at the end of the day, I usually have to come to some kind of reconciliation in my mind about my actions. I know I am over-analytical and spend way too much time thinking things through. Maybe that is why it is so hard for me to understand how someone can spend ZERO time thinking about their choices and actions.

I guess by now you are wondering what in the world I am talking about. I don't want to give details to protect the privacy of the people involved. However, I will say it is a story played out over and over again. Someone is in a relationship for the sole reason of taking advantage of the other person. They walk all over the other persons feelings over and over again. Even worse, they exploit the other person's kind heart and generous spirit. Now I am all about choices and taking responsibility for your own actions. I understand, that somehow that person is also having some kind of payoff for being in the relationship. I also understand that that person should say enough is enough and walk away. But how can anyone look themselves in the mirror after not once not twice but many, many times devastating another human being. I just don't get it.

So now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can move on to more positive thoughts. If there are people in your life that you love, please take the time to tell them. And if you are in relationships where you are not being loved (like every human being deserves), then find the courage to LOVE YOURSELF enough to move on. Life is too short to settle for anything less.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Changes are inevitable. The leaves turn from green to yellow and slowly fall to the ground. We accept these changes because we know that it is part of a process that is necessary for new growth in the spring. I am working to accept changes in my life with the same understanding.

It has been a year since we moved and the changes continue. Careers move in different directions. Relationships are formed and sometimes ended. These changes don't happen because there is some mysterious force in the universe manipulating our lives. These changes happen because of choices we make. Sometimes the role we play in our lives is not obvious. Sometimes we fall into that "victim" mode and we forget how very powerful we are to create our own reality. We forget that we have the opportunity to choose something different.

I am choosing differently in my life. I am choosing relationships that are healthy and strong. I am choosing careers that make me happy, not just give me a paycheck. I am choosing to set boundaries with people in my life. I am doing this not because I love them any less, but because I love myself more. So today, I challenge you to look at your life. Can you see that you are where you are because of the choices you make? Can you see that you have the power to change your reality?

I hope you create a beautiful day for yourself!

Monday, April 5, 2010

It's official!!!!

This was a souvenier from my friend who is so very thoughtful! How awesome!!!!!

Day At The Ball Park

Softball is a great way for friends and family to get together, enjoy each others company, eat a hot dog, and get some exercise. We enjoyed a fantastic day of ball on Saturday. We had around 30 people get together and spend about five hours at the ball field. We had a blast!!! Our player's ages ranged from 16 to 60+. We had a wonderful day, although, I am still quite sore! It is a good sore, though. It is the kind that you know you want and should do it again soon. It was great to see so many different age groups spending time together and every person enjoyed themselves! The lady in the pink is my mom. She is 62. She spent many years taking me to the ball field to play when I was a kid. I did the same for my baby girl! That's her, in the catcher position. Hard to believe she is 19.

The lady in this picture is one of my very best friends. We have known each other for around 30 years. Although, it was only in the last decade that I truly came to realize how special she is and what a blessing to have her and her family in our lives. She and her husband are ALMOST empty- nesters, one junior left. Oh when they are, what fun we will have!!!!!

This was a fantastic, beautiful day! Great time, great fun, above all, great people!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Brings Life

Well, I am back after several days of being very sick. I missed writing and sharing our stories with my readers. I am not 100% but I am so ready to get back to activity. I have pretty much been in bed for three days straight. It is not in my nature. It definitely has not been fun.

Anyway, since I have been down there has not been anything exciting happening. Let me take that back. The SUN is shining! Thank goodness. I know there are many people that are grateful to see the sun and the beautiful things that the spring sunshine brings.

I took this picture in my yard this afternoon. There is just something about yellow that makes me feel better. I hope you slow down this spring to see the trees and flowers come to life. I hope you enjoy today and everyday!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Party Was A Success

Our big celebration turned out very well despite a few glitches. I was reminded of a very important lesson. You should always prepare your technical aspects very early and test them. This is especially important when you are planning an outdoor presentation. Despite the delay and bit of stress, the videos were very well received. I had a video highlighting music, television, movies, and kid's books from the 60's. Also, I created a video giving my mom suggestions for what to do with her time since she is retired.

Anyway, we also played a really fun auction game. I numbered 20 brown lunch bags. I filled the bags with odd items around the house and a few envelopes with a dollar or two in them. I used other items like a bar of soap, pack of pizza crust, package of dog food, and other silly items. I gave each guest a baggie with 30 pennies and started the auction. It was such a blast watching the guests open their bags to see if they spent their money wisely. My favorite buy was when a guest paid their entire 30 pennies for a "souvenir" penny.

As exhausting as putting together a big bash can be, the reward is so worth the effort. I love seeing everyone laughing and enjoying the party. Everyone enjoyed the games, the videos, and the food. Yum!! As the weather gets warmer, I am sure you will be hosting your own parties. It is a great way to slow down life and enjoy your friends and family. I hope you enjoy the special times!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Games & Sunshine

Today is a beautiful day to celebrate with family and friends! We are having a combined birthday party for 4 people, ages 19-62, and a retirement party for my mother. We are having a fantastic menu. It is ribs, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, chips, corn on the cob, and cake and ice cream! YUM!!! We are playing some really cool games too! I have a menopause mad-lib, penny auction for great prizes (or not so great LOL), and watching some great video footage from the sixties!

It promises to be a fantastic day! I hope you have plans to get outside and enjoy the sunshine! Have a great day and I will post pics later!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Carter Community - Great Place To Live

Zoom in from the planet Earth, to the wonderful United States of America, to the hills of Tennessee and either further in to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and you will find a small community. That community is centered around Carter Elementary, Middle & High schools. It is sometimes called Four Way In. As a teen growing up in the community, some of us affectionately called it Four Way In - No Way Out.

There is something very special about this area. It is a community where family has true meaning. It is a place where it is likely your elementary teacher will likely teach your children. It is a place where you can't find a store open after midnight. It is a place where it is difficult for your teens to get away with anything because someone will call and tell you what they are up to.

There are so many people who have lived here there entire lives and have so many stories to tell. There are places that serve as icons to the community. Places like Cardin's Drive In, Carter Pool, Carter Mill will forever be in the memories of our children as they are in ours. Playing softball at the original field and having to go swimming in the creek to fish out the softballs. I also remember the old football field past the elementary school where all of the football teams and cheerleaders had to practice on one field. I will always remember being dropped off at Carter Pool during the summer. I would spend a fantastic day with friends at the pool (playing chicken) and watching crazy guys do stunt dives from the high board. Then when my parents would pick us up, we would try to talk them into a soft-serve cone at Cardin's. I can't even count the number of times the ice cream slid right off the cone and onto the pavement as they tried to pass it through the car window.

There is a reason that so many people who grew up here return to raise their families in the same community. It is a great place to call home and some of the best people I have ever met are from this area. I have always had a desire to find a way to preserve the ideas, traditions, and memories of this community. Please share with my readers the places and memories that are near and dear to your heart. Perhaps together, we can take a walk down memory lane.

For those of you who had tried to post comments, I believe I have the issue resolved. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Graduation Idea!

With graduation coming up very soon, I wanted to share the video I made for my daughter's graduation last year. Making this video was very emotional, but it was a great way for me to release all of the emotion I was feeling. Even today, I still cry when I watch the video. I encourage you to do something very special for the graduates in your life. Leaving high school is a major transition period in their life. It is a great time to remind them how much you love them! I suggest if you make a video, start now! LOL It takes some time. That is assuming you were a novice like me! Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Aunt Char's Boo-Boo

Do you ever wonder what little kids and babies think about? I think it is easy to assume that they have short attention spans and only focus on what is in front of them. My great niece, 23 months, showed me otherwise.

Yesterday, we had stopped by her house. When I picked her up, she looked at me, crinkled her nose, and said "oooooh." She was kind of grossed out by a sore on my lip from a very slow-healing fever blister. I asked her if she saw my boo-boo. She nodded and I told her it hurt. She kept saying boo-boo hurt. I assured her it would get better and I would be okay.

Today, Ralph went to her house again, but I wasn't with him today. As soon as he walked in, she looked at him and said, "Aunt Char's boo-boo hurt?" Her mom said she had been saying that all day. That tells me she had been thinking about that since yesterday. It also shows her compassion and her ability to be concerned for others.

It amazes me to watch her learn and grow. It amazes me more how she absorbs everything around her. I try to take every opportunity I have to teach her. She is so eager to learn.

Her dad is like our son. We have always thought of him as our own, so we consider his daughter our trial run at being grandparents. I am not ready to be called a grandmother just yet, but I know when the day comes, it will be a wonderful experience.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It Takes A Village

A very special person posted on FaceBook a question about our friends. She asked if we have truly good friends or people we just call acquaintances. Fortunately for me, she was patient enough to read the mini-book I wrote. I am extremely over-analytical and friendship has often been the subject of my self-discovery as well as the way I relate to other people.

Please allow me to share and expand my answer to her.

I feel very fortunate to have several friends that I feel are truly family. They are so very different. Each one has a unique place in my heart. They all know everything about me, good and bad, but each one seems to play a different part in my life. Each relationship changes with time. Each relationship seems to have natural ebb and flow to the depth and intensity. However, there are some things that remain constant and seem to be the cornerstone of each friendship. I have one friend who truly inspires me. Every single time we are together, I walk away bursting with new ideas, excitement, and dreams. I have another couple of friends who allow me to let loose. They show me how to live without inhibitions and how to embrace every moment of life and laughter. I have another friend who I know I can count on to be there in my very darkest hour. They understand me on a level that no one else does. I have another friend who is always caring compassionate and I have no doubt in my mind that they will always be my biggest fan. I have another friend who reminds me that life is so very short and to live every moment to the fullest because you never know when it will be your last. All of these people make up my "network" of people who make me who I am. If you put them all in the same room, it would be difficult to find much of anything they have in common due to different belief systems, different lifestyles, and different upbringings. But they do have one thing that ties them together. It is the fact that I love them all very much. There are natural ups and downs and times when they can drive me crazy. Although not nearly as much as I am POSITIVE that I do them. But at the end of the day, they love me and I do them. I feel so very blessed to have such a great group of people in my life. No single person could ever be all they are to me. And you know what, I am glad there isn't. Because from each person and each background, those people teach me something about the world and most importantly about myself.

I also lucky to have other people in my life that are so much more than acquaintances, but due to "life and time" constraints, those relationships haven't developed as much as I would like. And even though I don't get to spend as much time with them, or even talk to them as much as I like, they also play a huge part in my life. I try to learn something from every single person I meet. I know so many people who amaze me by their faith, their business sense, their compassion, and their dedication. I wish there were more hours in the day to devote to growing a deeper relationship with these people. I most definitely still define these people as friends, just friends that I haven't penciled in a date just yet. And for these people, it would only take a phone call, and I would be there in a heartbeat.

So I guess I would say an acquaintance is simply someone who I meet and pretty much know there is no emotional connection. I am a pretty deep person and for the most part if I feel I can trust you and therefore want to get to know you better, I am pretty much an open book. If I don't see you as someone I could develop a friendship with if given the time, I really just don't bother at all. I am not being mean, I just have so precious little time to spend with the people I know are fantastic people, I don't want to waste time when there is nothing to base a friendship on.

The post is rather long, but it is something that is very important to me. I hope you are blessed to have so many wonderful people in your life. If you don't, let down the walls and let them in. Life is so much fuller when you are surrounded by the souls of amazing, loving people.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

If It Ain't Broke, Break It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As soon as I sat down to write tonight, the very first word that came to mind was change. Not your coins, but the change that occurs in our life. It seems that change is a natural, necessary process in our lives.

Our weather changes with the seasons. Those beautiful little buds that are starting to emerge from the trees are there because our winter has passed (hopefully) and spring is here. Tonight as I listen to the rain, I realize how much I appreciate the rain today. Today was a drastic change from yesterday, but no less important or enjoyable. I will especially enjoy the rain tonight as tired as I am.

We go through changes in our lives as well. We all have changed so much from the person we were five, ten, or twenty years before. Through those changes, we feel we are doing what is right for us at the time. We live our life based on current circumstances. Five years from now, we will most assuredly see things differently. Perspective is ALWAYS different the farther we are from those changes.

So how do you feel about change? Do you welcome change with open arms or do you resist change? Do you see change as opportunity or cringe with fear? I guess the answer for me is both. In some areas of my life, I embrace change. For those of you who know me well, you know that is especially true with my home. I change things simply for the sake of change. Whether it's furniture, arrangement, or even walls, I can only stand things the same for a short time. Hey, I never said I was normal. Now before you feel sorry for my hubby, realize that we are the perfect match for each other. He is Mr. Steady! Together, we make a pretty good pair. But other changes scare me. Financial changes, changes with our children, and health changes all scare me to death. These changes often come in the form of a crisis. John F. Kennedy said, "When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters - one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity." Can you find opportunity in the midst of your crisis?

A great book I am reading offers some great insight on changes. Dan Miller in his book 'No More Mondays' tells a story about a dramatic change in football in 1906. The forward pass was legalized. Most teams resisted the change and continued to play with the running and kicking game they were familiar with. St. Louis University decided to welcome the change and extensively used the forward pass. That first season St. Louis outscored their opponents 402 to 11. Now that is pretty dramatic. Not every change in your life will be. Change can bring restoration and new life. Some one once told me that if you are not growing, you become stagnant. So when I read the passage: If It Ain't Broke, Break It, I could definitely relate. Sometimes we need that fire lit to get us moving and to keep us from becoming stagnant.

Of course, change is scary. Whether it comes from something out of our control or moving our life in a new direction, there is risk. Another quote from the same book is, "Sometimes the greatest risk is not taking one." Are you willing to take a risk? Can you afford not to?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Surrounded By Friends & Family

Today was a much better day! The sunshine was absolutely gorgeous! We spent the day working VERY hard but we were surrounded by friends and family. Everyone pitched in and got so much accomplished. We enjoyed the best-tasting hot dogs on the grill. We were so excited to pull the grill out and get her fired up! It has been way too long!

We are so grateful that we have people in our life that show up not only for the fun days, but also for the work days. When everyone is together, it makes even back breaking work enjoyable. We had people working to saw wood, hauling wood, cleaning house, cooking hot dogs, baking cookies, doing laundry, planting flowers, and so very much more. So thank you so very much to everyone who helped today! A special thanks to my sister's boyfriend whom we don't know very well but spent the whole day working like a dog and to Thacker who was so very enthusiastic! Also, a special thanks to Darrell. You had no clue when you came to visit that you would end up working, yet you ran that machine all day! We are so glad you enjoyed it even though we know how much your shoulders are going to hurt tomorrow!!

We know how fortunate we are to have people in our life that are willing to sacrifice their beautiful first day of spring for someone else. Not to mention an hour drive just to help. That is the exact reason that we do our very best to do the same for them. We love you all so very much! Thank you all again! We are very grateful!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Looking Forward To Tomorrow

Today has been frustrating to say the least. I went to the doctor's office again today with my friend. Still no news as to what in the world is wrong with her. She has seen doctors, nurse practioners, three ENT specialists, three radiologists and no one knows. This is after two rounds of blood work, a CT scan, panoramic X-ray, ultrasound, and biopsy. I know she is extremely aggravated. It is not a good thing when no one has a clue what is wrong with you.

Then, I come home to a mess. My hubby rented a mini-backhoe today to do some grading around my house. They moved a bunch of dirt, but, put it all in the wrong place. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! So the five hours they spent was wasted. This is not good when your rental is by the hour. Anyway, I am beat. I am heading to bed and praying for a brighter tomorrow!

Good Night All! Enjoy the beautiful day in store for us in Tennessee!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

He got her softened up!!!

As he put his hand on the rail of the bed and started pumping, the bed began to squeak. This bed always squeaks so much………….

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter!! I am trying to tell you a story about Melissa’s trip to the hospital. The “he” that I am referring to is Kris. He was Melissa’s transporter today. The pumping I mentioned and the hand on the rail were from Kris preparing the bed for transport. Just admit it, you thought I was writing some sort of hot, steamy love scene. Well, when the bed was squeaking, of course we all thought the same thing.

Suddenly, Melissa starts saying “squeak, squeak, squeak! We burst into laughter and I said, “I was thinking the same thing, but I wasn’t going to say it! As we all are trying to recover, Melissa says something like “Hey, I am just laying here!" Of course that was just more fuel for the fire. Poor Kris, he couldn’t get her to participate a bit! Oh my goodness! We had a great laugh. Fortunately, Kris is not the type to get embarrassed.He played along fantastically. I will spare you of every little comment, but when Kris brought Melissa to her “destination,” he did remind us that he got her softened up!

Melissa has seen enough doctors and enough needles to last her for quite some time. The fact that we have been unable to get a diagnosis is frustrating. However, we have brought humor to as much of the situation as we can. When you find a sweet, funny guy like Kris, it makes it much easier. Thank you Kris, for making two women have a great afternoon in spite of where we were. You are great with people and I expect that you brighten all of your patient’s days. Of course, I am sure they don’t give you near the grief that we did. As I told you before, every time you hear a squeaking bed, you will think of us! Sorry about that. LOL

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It appears that a dear friend of mine is a big medical question mark at the moment.  She has been dealing with an enlarged lymph node in her neck since Saturday.  Now when I say enlarged, I mean ENLARGED!  This thing just keeps growing.  The swelling is in her jaw, her neck, and her face.  I know she is so aggravated because the doctors are just saying HMMMMM???????   After two rounds of blood work, three visits to the doctor, and the third antibiotic, she knows no more than she did four days ago.  Not a good thing.  Bless her heart!

But let me tell you about my friend.  She is AMAZING!  She is tough as nails and together we can find humor in just about anything.  So instead of being completely freaked out, we laughed ourselves silly yesterday at her doctor's appointment.  Her nurse was just a bit OCD.  On second thought, that is entirely an understatement!  This nurse was hilarious!  We had the greatest talk about germs!  She shared with us her admitted over-the-top stories about carrying her own bleach to motels and taking 15 minutes before entering Walmart to clean the buggy! She said she just can't help it!  The funny thing was that every time we thought she was gone, she would open the door and tell us more about things that gross her out!  Her facial expressions were priceless!  We had a blast!  She was such an authentic person!  I have the greatest respect for people who just are who they are!  They don't care to admit and laugh at their own faults!  They have a great comfort and confidence about them that makes it so easy to be yourself.  Melissa (my friend) and I both immediately liked this lady!  Those same qualities are what make Melissa so special!  There are never any pretenses! 

When Ralph and I spend time with Melissa and her husband, there is never a dull moment!  We can always count on a great time and more importantly laughter!  We can have different opinions and have heated discussions without fear of judgment!  We are all comfortable enough with each other to tell each other we are full of you know what!  And the cool thing is, we grow and learn from each other! There are things about them that challenge Ralph and I to be better people and I bet they would say the same of us!  And we all know that day or night, good times or bad, we will always be there for each other!

I certainly hope you have people in your life that give you that kind of place!  That place where you are who you are!  That place where not only is being yourself accepted, it is expected! 

I love you Melissa and I hope our trip to the doctor today brings some answers!  I am certainly looking forward to visiting with your nurse again!

I hope you all have a beautiful day!  ~ Charlene

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Just Before Dawn

I have made a realization.  My bladder and my brain are partners.  I can no longer sleep late thanks to my bladder.  I usually wake before sunrise to use the bathroom.  Some people, I understand, can go right back to sleep.  But I believe that my bladder has some sort obligation to kick my brain into overdrive.  The moment my bladder wakes me up, my brain goes from 0 to 60 mph in two seconds flat.  So, no matter how hard I try, I can't go back to sleep.  A quote I read recently said that sometimes the best cure for insomnia is the realization it is time to get up.  So that is what I do.

The plus side is that just before dawn has become my favorite time of day.  The house is whisper quiet.  Most mornings, even Tundra (our dog) and our cats are walking around in a sleepy kind of daze.  For just a few brief moments, time seems to stand still.  For some reason, it is the only time of day that I can just sit and be okay with doing so.  Jake (one of our cats) will climb on my lap, cuddle up and purr up a storm.  It is a beautiful time.  Of course it doesn't last long.  I am an overachiever so before long, I feel the need to accomplish something.  Most mornings before the sun comes up, I have checked my email, balanced my checkbook, wrote this blog, done a load of laundry, and exercised with the Wii.  I know, kind of neurotic, LOL. 

I am sharing this because I am realizing how important it is to have a few moments a day to be disconnected from the cell phones, the computers, and the rest of your family.  It is important to take a moment to just be.  If you aren't a little weird like me and wake up earlier than you have to, try getting up just 15 minutes earlier than usual. If you don't think you can drag yourself to do it, drink a big glass of something before you go to bed!  Maybe your brain and bladder have an agreement too!  You may find it will make the rest of your day much more peaceful when you don't start the day in a frenzy!  Hope you have a beautiful day!

Monday, March 15, 2010

U-Turns Allowed

Sometimes the very best experiences come from those that are not planned, but instead from those that you just stumble upon.  Over the weekend, Ralph and I stopped for breakfast at McDonalds.  As we were enjoying our morning together, we noticed that Clayton Mobile Homes had a home show display set up in the parking lot at Smokies stadium.  If you have never visited one of these, you don't know what you are missing.

Whether you are a fan of mobile homes or not, there are few places where you can visit 20+ homes in one location.  My guess is that most people visit these homes because they are planning to purchase one.  I, on the otherhand, love to visit because they always are fully decorated with the latest trends in design, art, and colors.  I never leave a show without my mind bursting with ideas for my own home.  One of the coolest things I saw was a new mount for the flat-screen TVs.  This mount allowed the TV to swivel from the living room to the kitchen.  The backside of the TV was encased in a wood panel which allowed the mounting of a picture to that.  So if you had the TV facing the kitchen, a nice picture faced the living room and vice versa.  Cool idea.

We had a great time touring the homes.  When we set out that morning, we planned to go for breakfast and then to the grocery store.  But what a nice little surprise that we stumbled upon.  In the past our life has been so hurried and so purpose driven that we rarely took the time to enjoy those things we stumble upon.  It is a refreshing change that we are now free to make a u-turn once in awhile when something catches our eye.  I kind of look at it as a way of "stopping to smell the roses."

When the kids were little, we used to play a game when we were a bit bored.  We would just get in the car and start driving.  When we came upon an intersection, I would allow the kids to pick which way we would go.  There were no rules, just drive.  It was a fun way to just enjoy the scenery.  We played this game alot.  You would think that our kids would have a great sense of direction, right?  Unfortunately, both of them are directionally challenged.  I don't get it!

Anway, when was the last time you jumped in a car with no idea where you were going?  Sometime in the near future, slow down on the way to your destination.  Pay attention to what is around you.  You might find a beautiful stream, a wild turkey walking through a field, or even an unexpected yard sale.  Either way, I challenge you to be in the car more than five minutes and not see something that will make you smile!  And who of us couldn't use a little more smiles in our life??  Come back and share your u-turns with us!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Worry, Fart, & Laugh

There is a brief moment between moving from caring for your growing children and caring for your aging parents, that is, if you are lucky.  Our primary focus for the last 21 years has been our children.  The kids consume so much of your time but more important your mental focus.  As a parent, I was admittedly overprotective.  As much time as we spent at the ball parks, school programs, libraries, and doing homework, it pales in comparison to the countless hours of worry.  The worries change over the years.  They go from worrying that they are healthy and developing on time to worrying that the siren you just heard isn't your teen driver in a wreck.  It is a constant fear in the back of your mind, at least it has been for me.

That has changed lately.  For our own sanity, we have learned to let go.  We have learned that thanks to the cell phones that we have provided them, they will call if there is a problem.  We have learned that we don't need to talk to them 100 times a day, although we would still like to.  We have learned that we have raised pretty, smart kids who make pretty good decisions, for the most part anyway!  We are so very proud of them.  We trust them to make their own choices without our incessant attempts to control everything.  Even more so, we want them to make their own choices.  We know, as much as we have tried to fight it, that the most valuable lessons in life are ones made from our own mistakes. So finally, we can relax a little and stop worrying, right?  Wrong.

Now, once again, the worries change.  Now we worry about our aging parents.  We have relied on their advice and wisdom (just since we were about 25, until then we knew it all, lol).  More and more we have learned to appreciate the fact that whenever you need someone, mom and dad are ALWAYS there.  I personally have learned that no matter how much you think you are holding it together when your life is fallling apart, just hearing your mom's voice somehow magically opens the tear faucet.

The last few years I have started to see a decline in my parent's health.  My mom has developed a head tremor.  Her doctor says it is stress.  I am so worried it is more.  My mom just turned 62.  My grandmother died at 65.  I know that is no indication that my mom will too, but is always in the back of my head.  My dad is starting to forget things.  Alot of people don't notice, but I do.  I try to talk to him several times a week.  I notice he forgets things and he has a harder time understanding what I am trying to tell him.  I'll just tell you, it will devastate me if I lose my parents.  My dad is my step dad.  I hate that title, because he is the ONLY father I have ever known.  I am watching a friend go through losing her dad as we speak.  She tries to hold it together, but I can see the pain and fear in her eyes.  I am praying for her.  We will all be there someday, if you haven't already.  I am going to try to enjoy as much time as I can with my parents.  I know there will be sadness when they are gone.  Heck, I can't even write about it without these tears.  So I want to create as many fun memories as I can while I still have the chance.

One of my mom's (and mine) favorite memories is of a trip to Clingman's Dome.  I don't know what in the world my papaw had eaten, but he had gas like you would not believe.  Every single step up the side of that mountain was paired with a fart!  Not a silent one, but one of those squeaky ones!  What made the memory so vivid was not the gas, but the laughter that went with it.  My papaw was an easy going guy that didn't care which way the wind blew.  Oh and how he loved to laugh!  He thought those farts was the funniest thing ever.  He absolutely cried from laughing so hard all the way up that mountain.  As you know, laughter is contaigous, so my grandmother, my parents, my sister & I, and complete strangers had a fabulous day laughing at my papaw's farts.  It was fantastic!!!! It was also something I will never forget.  I already have some of those crazy memories with my parents.  I will share with you later.  My parents are a whoot!

Each life has a cycle.  As we travel through this life, we know that soon it will be us being the grandparents, hopefully I can continue to love life and laugh like my papaw did.  It will be our children worrying about our health.  There has been so many times to worry and be afraid for the people you love.  But that is not all that life has to offer.  So in the middle of the worries, take time to laugh!  It will make the tough times easier.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Courtesy of our recent trip to the library, I am reading a great book written by Jeff Yeager.  He defines the enoughasaurus as follows: The beast within each of, he/she that must be satisfied.  Slaying or at least satisfying your Enoughasaurus is a matter of deciding what's enough for you and then disigning your priorities and life around it.

What is enough???  I don't know.  But what I do know is that it has definitely changed for us over the years.  When we were younger and our yearly income was not much more than $10,000 we knew we didn't have enough.  We wanted a nice home, nice cars, money to vacation, etc.  Then after I was smart enough to know to pursue the education opportunity that I was lucky enough to receive, all of that changed.  Our income increased dramatically.  Instead of just enjoying that for a time, we ran out and purchased the "stuff" we THOUGHT  we wanted.  Life should be good, right?  WRONG.  I remember our son, then just 16, said he wanted to move back to our doublewide.  I asked him why.  He said because all we do is fight here.  WOW!  What an eye opener.  He saw what the "stuff" was doing to us.  We were stupid enough to buy our new house before our old house sold.  It took seven months by the way.  Trying to raise two teenagers in a new home, with two mortgages, an unexpected $400/month utility bill was a bit more stress than I could handle.  However, even though we knew it, we weren't ready to let go.

Life had something else in store for us.  Five years and a lot of spent money later, we both lost our jobs, (within a week of each other), we had no choice but to reevaluate our priorities.  To give ourselves a little credit, we had started realizing several months prior that our life was ridiculous, at least by our "true" standards.  So now, even though our home and cars are "valued" (I use that term loosely) at less than 1/5th of what they were just a year ago, we are so much happier.  Our home does not own us.  Our utility bills are amazing.  We are actually happy to pay them!  And the funny thing is, we still want to clear out more "stuff."  We are trying to make a fundamental shift in our value system.  We want to choose life and experiences over stuff.  One of my favorite quotes of all time is:

"Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it."  Ellen Goodman

Sometimes I really miss an AWESOME car I once owned.  It was a hot little Toyota Celica.  It looked amazing and I felt so young driving it.  As good as it looked, it didn't suit our needs and I was tied to a car payment.  So finally I sold the car.  It was a good thing because I stressed so much over something happening to the car.  I didn't want it to get scratched, I didn't want anyone else to drive it.  It controlled me.  Thank God we are in a different place now.  I am not saying we are where we want to be.  Sure, we still look at those fancy cars and drool just a little.  I guess we always will.  But, now we try to visualize the chains that they drag behind them.  We also ask ourselves why we want them?  That helps. 

Have you slayed your "Enoughasaurus?"  Did you even know he existed?  

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Your Public Library

Ralph and I went to the library yesterday.  It has been quite some time since we have visited the library.  We went with the intention of doing some research on small business management.  We ended up leaving the library with two huge bags of books.  I have forgotten how intoxicating the library can be.  I love sitting on the floor and looking through random books from the shelves.  I could have stayed in the library for hours.  Ralph, on the other hand, would have preferred being ANYWHERE but the library.  But thank God for my husband who supports me in whatever I do.

As we left, I realized that I rely on the internet for nearly all the things that used to take me to the library.  It is a great convenience, but it is kind of sad.  Will my future grandchildren ever visit the local library?  I sure hope so.  A computer, MP3 player, or an electronic reader will never feel as good as sitting in the floor at your local library.  I know that I found lots of very interesting books that I can't wait to read!

My Second Post - Reprinted "An Epiphany"

For years I have known that I would never be happy working for someone else.  I have always known that I should work for myself.  The problem is what kind of business would be right for me.  See here’s the thing, I would call myself a “Big Idea” person.  Coming up with ideas and solutions is where I thrive.  However, I am not so good at sticking with something long-term. I think short attentions spans run in my family. :-)
So I have finally discovered that maybe I should try to make my career fit me instead of trying to turn myself into someone I am not.  So yesterday when this finally sunk in, the ideas started flowing easily.  It was sort of an ephiphany.  Every single person is unique.  We each have our own limitations.  But more importantly, we each have our own talents and gifts.  How neat would the world be if we each could realize all of those things about ourselves?  What kind of world would it be if every person was utilizing their own special gifts and loved the work they do?  Do you love the work you have chosen?  Do you wake up each and every day excited about what the day has to bring?  I want that kind of life.  Can I overcome any fears or self-doubt that would keep me from achieving just that?
I choose to believe that I can have that life.  I choose to accept my personality and my gifts.  I chose to create a life where I can thrive.  I choose to believe……in myself.

My Very First Blog - Reprinted on this site

I am about to turn 40 and find myself standing at the proverbial fork in the road.  My children, now 20 and 18, are living their own lives.  For the last 20 years, every decision I have made has been about them and their futures.  Now, I have the time to focus on reinventing my life and deciding to do what matters.  That brings me to this fork in the road. 
Down one fork is “normal.”  Normal is what I have been doing my entire life.  I obtained my degree in Business Admistration so I could work in accounting.  I worked really hard to prove myself to my employers and make a good living.  With a good paycheck, we bought a nice home, nice cars, and lots of toys.  Now I find myself unemployed due to the economy.  We are going to lose all of the “stuff” that we worked for.  The normal thing to do would be search for another job in accounting so I could still have a good paycheck.  Then we could get that “stuff” again. 
But what about the other fork?  The other fork has endless possibilities.  Down the other fork, I can be the entreprenuer I have always dreamed of being.  Down the other fork, I can balance my work and my personal life on my terms.  Down the other fork, I can do what matters.  Down that fork, I can be “crazy” and decide that a fancy house, fancy cars, and “stuff” doesn’t matter.  I can choose experiences over material possessions.  I can decide that “enough money” is enough to put a roof over our heads and food in our tummies.  And I can decide that my freedom is more important.  I can decide that spending time with our aging parents is worth more than all the “stuff ” in the world.  But all of that would be “crazy.”  What about the American Dream?  I say with this fork, I decide what the American Dream means to me.  I decide what matters.
This blog is to document my journey in discovering who I am and what matters.  I hope you will join me.