Reclaiming Our Time

Two days ago I was talking to my grandson and he asked me why I don’t crochet anymore. (I used to make him and his sisters hats and scarves every winter when they were young. He’s sixteen now.) I finally had to answer him with the words, ” I don’t know.” Truly, I can’t remember making a conscious decision to stop crocheting. Over the last several days, I’ve discovered I’ve stopped doing several things that I once enjoyed. As I investigated this idea of giving up things you enjoy without realizing it, I found that many of my friends and loved ones have done likewise. The running theme seemed to be, ” I don’t have time to do it anymore. With the job, the kids, the running around, something had to go.”

Those things that had to go were too often the things that helped us to relax, feel useful, feel a sense of fulfillment, and self-satisfaction. Everything from woodworking, sewing, gardening, arts and crafts, painting, needlepoint, collectibles, cook-outs, bowling, and myriad of leisure activities went away because of our busy schedules. Instead of being well rounded, we’ve suffered from schedule stress. (Love that alliteration.)

Who would have thought stress was related to our loss of leisure time activities. Psychologists tell us that children and adults suffer stress from overloaded schedules. Our to-do list have taken over our lives because we don’t schedule breaks or time-off; we don’t see leisure enjoyment as a critical need. Boy, have I been there! Before the pandemic, my schedule consisted of work and providing transportation for the kids.

Many days I left work on my way to the dance studio to drop off or pick up my granddaughter or to pick up my mom from the house to transport her to the store or church. I practically lived in my car. I ate meals in my car, I wrote poetry in my car, I made return phone calls in my call, I did lesson planning in my car, and I took naps in my car. Needless to say when I got home the only thing I was in for was going to bed. This cycle continued day after day, week after week, month after month. It became the norm.

For many of us the pandemic changed all that, but for some heart attack, stroke, exhaustion, depression, and emotional strain was the change agent. I’ve actually heard some people grateful for the break that the Pandemic gave them from the “rat race.” Now that’s sad, yet it does offer all of us an opportunity to reevaluate our schedules. Our time and our priorities should correlate with our needs and our necessities as social beings. Needs meaning the material and physical requirements for living, and necessities meaning our relationships, spiritual, and personal growth.

Establishing routines and reclaiming our time and talents is possible now. As we head back to work, we can begin setting our schedules to include every part of our being. As I have written in the past, I make an effort to “fill my bucket” with things that bring me joy. I may not crochet in the near future, but it won’t be because I don’t have time for it. It will be because I’m doing something else that relaxes me, fulfills me, or brings me satisfaction. The rat race can not longer be my norm. Life is too short. (Another lesson from the pandemic.) No more living in my car. No more over-scheduling myself and my family members, No more saying “yes” to everyone except myself. No more saying “no” to the things that matter. I won’t miss living a well-rounded life because I’m over worked and over taxed.

Let’s use these days of social distancing and quarantine to reclaim and redefine our time. Let’s begin prioritizing our lives so that we enjoy living rather than dread it. If I’ve learned nothing else during this time of pandemic, I have learned that the things I thought I couldn’t live without didn’t matter as much as I thought they did. Nothing matters as much as my family, and friends, and our well-being, and our being together safe and healthy. (Yes, that’s a run-on sentence 🙂

It’s your choice. What do you want out of the time you have? You can reclaim or redefine it in a way that makes you whole and joyful.

Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life
Four out of five adults report feeling they are time-poor: They have too much to do and not enough time to do it. And the consequences are severe. The time-poor experience less joy each day. They laugh less. They are less healthy, less productive, and more likely to divorce. In one study of 2.5 million Americans, time stress produced a stronger negative effect on happiness than unemployment.

How Did I Get So Busy?: The 28-Day Plan to Free Your Time and Reconnect with What Matters Most
There’s no doubt about it: these days we are just too busy. With the conveniences of technology, we’re compelled to get more done in less time and end up constantly striving for the next thing – rarely stopping to consider if it’s something we even want. As a result, we end up missing out on the things that truly matter: our relationships, the activities we love, quiet time to reflect and replenish our energy.

Pursuing Happiness

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a complete guide to surviving and maintaining happiness during times of crisis? After all, somebody should have the answers to all of our questions, right? Maybe that’s the danger of fairy tales, we always expect the story to end with happily ever after. It doesn’t take much adult living to figure out that that is a crock. Happily ever after comes in spurts throughout our lives. It’s hardly ever a constant, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t see our lives as happy in overview.

The question is does the good out weigh the bad? Have we made corrections, adjustments, or a conscious effort to establish the basis for our happiness. Admittedly, happiness is an elusive and ethereal term that can be defined in a thousand different ways. So, allow me to define my terms. I’m talking about a contentment that brings peace and joy to your life.

Several years ago my grandmother died. She was close to ninety. She was blind due to glaucoma and she had severe Alzheimer’s. She had lived a good life prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s. She enjoyed traveling between the states of her children and grandchildren. She loved to try new things, and she had an abundance of hobbies. She used to say she was doing everything she could to enjoy her life while she was able because the day would come when she couldn’t. She did not dread what the future held, she simply accepted the fact that change would come as she grew older. (She based this way of thinking on scripture, particularly Ecclesiastes chapter 12) That doesn’t mean she didn’t have some hard and rough days. She did – the failure of her marriage, the loss of a home, the death of her sisters and her parents, the loss of sight in her left eye before losing the sight of the right – many major and minor life events. Yet, she found a way to laugh, to count her blessings, to appreciate the love of family and friends around her, and practice her faith every day. She is my example. She is what I strive to emulate in my worldview and outlook on life.

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our disposition, and not upon our circumstances.” I don’t know where this quote comes from, but I believe it’s true. My grandmother was born in 1911. She grew up impoverish. She worked hard as a sharecropper in the South and as a domestic worker in the North. When I was twelve she got a job as a factory worker which earned her a Social Security check of a little over $600 a month. Yet, she was rich in her attitude toward people and life. Everyone loved her. So many people all over the country (due to her travels between family members) adopted her as their mother or grandmother. She was respected for her humanity and her spirituality. She was a confidant, a friend, a nurturer, a giver. She was my inspiration.

So here we are in the midst of a pandemic. What’s our disposition? What kind of attitude do we have toward our circumstances? How has it changed our outlook, our perspective on life? Are we miserable or happy? I’m finding a lot of that depends on me, not on others. When I wake up in the morning before the sun rise and hear the birds sing, I am so grateful. I’m reminded that there are persons who can’t hear what I hear. I’m aware that I’m alive. I have the activity of my limbs, a sound mind, my five senses (maybe six or seven), shelter, food, family, and so much more. I start my day counting my blessings and praying for those whose experiences are so different from mine. Being grateful enhances my empathy and reminds me that things can change drastically at any given moment. Like my grandmother, I purpose in my heart to enjoy my blessings and to be a blessing while I can, so that when the day comes that I can’t I won’t have any regrets.

It’s hard to be sheltered-in. It’s uncomfortable to wear masks and gloves every time you step out of the house. Long lines at the grocery store and drive through restaurants are so inconvenient. But, if you compare that to not knowing the destiny of your hospitalized love one; or being homeless not only during the pandemic, but before and after it; or having COVID19 while pregnant; or losing a love one who died alone; what do we have to complain about? My heart breaks as I hold the heart of my friends and family, as well as hear about countless others who are suffering at a far greater level than anything I have known or experienced. Yet, I can also find peace and joy in doing whatever I can to help them. (There are countless charity opportunities and ways to express your desire to help.)

If you can’t find you happiness – your peace and joy – or your contentment, may I suggest a couple of things. 1) Do a self-check. If you are depressed seek help: a counselor, your doctor, or clergy. Don’t accept depression as a norm. 2) Stay connected. Stay in touch with family and friends by any means necessary. Use electronics, stand outside windows, or call them on the phone. Take some classes on the internet, sign up for seminars. (Some local libraries are offering virtual classes.) Participate in virtual church or club meetings. Don’t be an island unto yourself. (ref: John Donne) 3) Find a way to give back. Donate food, clothing, or dollars to an organization that is helping those in distress. (You can do this at any age. My mom has been making masks.) Volunteer at a food bank or to drive Meals on Wheels, if you are not at that vulnerable age or have preexisting health issues. 4) Journal. Write your experiences for posterity. Write your feelings to examine them. Write your goals and dreams and how you can creatively accomplish them during the pandemic and after. Write fiction, poetry, song lyrics, or recipes. Writing can be very cathartic. 5) Count your blessing. Try to count 30 things that you are thankful for each week (or day). Do this while taking a walk or a warm bubble bath or sitting on your porch (deck) at sunset or sunrise. (You could also use your journal for this.) Lastly, 6) Do something you enjoy everyday. Read a book, cook, garden, sew, build bird house, whatever you enjoy doing find a way to include it in your schedule. It will give you something to look forward to as well as bring some joy to your heart.

We can pursue happiness by adjusting our attitude and watching our disposition. It starts by changing what we can change, and that is usually ourselves and how we choose deal with our circumstances. To that end I share one last thing with you – the Serenity Prayer.

Printable Typography.Serenity Prayer. 8x10. DIY. PDF. | Etsy

Stay healthy, safe, and happy.

Living in Joy

Okay, I’ll admit the title is a play on words, but I didn’t want to say “enjoy living” because I want to talk about more than just enjoying living. I want to talk about finding joy in living. One of my favorite songs is: “Golden” sang by Jill Scott. The hook says, “I’m livin’ my life like it’s golden, golden, golden . . .” That’s what I’m talking about. Living life like it is a precious gift; creating memorable moments and treasuring valuable relationships -living in joy.

Perhaps you are thinking that’s a crazy idea considering our “new normal” during this pandemic, but that makes it more important than ever as far as I’m concerned. If the Corona-virus has taught me anything, it’s that life is way to fragile. Since that’s true, why live with regrets. Why miss opportunities to live in joy. I’m surprised at the little things that can bring joy into our lives and the lives of the people we love even in the midst of crisis.

The other day, my granddaughter had a really bad day at work. I could tell she had been crying even before she shared the events of her day with me. The next day she came into my room an hour before it was time for her to leave for work. She said, “I want to quit! I don’t want to go!” I encouraged her to go and to keep her own goals in mind in spite of how other people behave. As soon as she walked out of the door, I sent her a meme of Squidward (a Sponge Bob character, I spend a lot of time with kids) taking a shower in money followed by a Waynan Brothers meme that said, “Mo’ Money.” I could picture her laughing. She was probably surprised I knew how to send a meme in the first place. When she came home I asked her if she needed a few more memes. She laughed and said, “Nana, you’re so extra!” (I think that’s slang for being great lol.) Today, I sent her a Wonder Women meme and told her how proud of her I am. This was a little thing that brought us both joy.

While you are sheltering in, you can still live in joy. My husband brought me breakfast one morning. It was one slice of bacon and one teaspoon of scrambled eggs. He presented it to me like it was a gourmet meal. His giggles turned into us both laughing, so I returned the favor the next day with one mini sausage and one very small piece of omelet.

Today, I sent several friends songs from my YouTube playlist with a message of love and encouragement. I wrote a poem (the beginning of a new collection) even though it’s really hard for me to write at home. Yet, it was very satisfying. My mom and I prayed together and watched a video bible study together. Today she called all her church friends just to see how they were doing. She was on the phone for hours and I could hear her laughing which also made me smile. What are the things you can do to find and share joy?

Here’s a few old-fashioned things you can do even if you live alone. Give yourself a spa night – a warm bath, a glass of wine, a scented candle. Follow that with painting your nails or just doing a manicure/pedicure. Draw a hop scotch on the sidewalk or in the street for the neighborhood kids. Plant a flower or some vegetables. (You can order seeds, soil, and pots on-line at very low cost.) Cook your favorite meal and serve it on your best china. Call a family member and share a story that’s old and hilarious. Play basketball with your dirty clothes by throwing them in the washer from five or six feet away. (Social distancing my laundry, now that’s a plan.) Get the popcorn, turn the lights out and watch your favorite movie. Add whatever makes you smile to this list. Be creative!

I choose to live in joy rather than fear. I can’t do anything about the Corona-virus and all its mandates. I can choose my attitude, my disposition, and my outlook. I can be grateful that I’m still alive. I can use my gifts, my talents, and my time to bring joy to myself and others by any means necessary – and it is necessary because life is valuable. Try living your life like it’s golden for two weeks, then send me a comment about your experiences. Together, we may come up with more ways to live in joy.


I Choose Joy: The Daily Gratitude Practice That Will Transform Your Life
The Daily Gratitude Practice: Record your gratitude for ten things in your life. Write down three goals. Commit to personal and professional growth.

Personal Investments

These days everyone is either involved in investments or interested in investments because investments offer a certain amount of security for the future. Of course, that depends on the value of your assets, although value is subjective I suppose. That’s why I want to talk about one of greatest commodities today – people. Now if you’ve been following me at all you knew I wasn’t going to talk about micro and macro-economics. Trust me, when you reach the crossroads between life and death your first thoughts will be about the people you love not the portfolio you had. Yes, I said had, because when you die it all goes to your beneficiaries or the state. (Side note: Have your stuff in order so the state doesn’t inherit your fortunes even if you have to give everything to charities.)

Several days ago I walked into a branch of my bank in another neighborhood. As I walked up to the teller he greeted me by name. That threw me off because I had never been in this branch before, and his face wasn’t one that I recognized. He proceeded to ask me if my mom was still with us. I replied in the affirmative so he asked how she was. By then I guess my strained response or more than likely the look on my face told him I was completely puzzled. Finally, he says, “You don’t remember me do you?” “I’m afraid not,” I said, “it’s the plague of getting old,” I smiled. He told me his name and the name of his sister. They had been students in a summer camp I used to own when they were small children. They came back every summer for three or four years he informed me. He went on to say how he remembered me playing with them and taking them on so many field trips. These were some of his best memories in childhood according to him. “You showed us the world of possibilities.” By this time, I was completely floored, pleased, and completely happy to be the recipient of such praise.

This young man had gone on to college and graduated with a degree in business. He was commercial loan officer at the bank filling in for an absent teller. We looked at pictures of his family and talked a little about the school his children attended. As I left, he said he was going to call his sister right away to tell her about me. Now you tell me, wasn’t that a wonderful payoff for my investment. Time and money well spent. Dividends still paying off for another generation.

This past holiday, I received a handwritten card by snail mail from a women I’ve known for more than 20 years. She lives on the west coast and we only see her every four or five years. I was so surprised to get this card; everyone I know sends greetings by text or social media; they certainly aren’t that personal. I was so touch by what she had written I called her immediately. We talked for more than an hour. It was great to reconnect with a long time friend. One thing she shared with me was her commitment to send personal notes, birthday cards, and greetings for other occasions for her friends and family. She said not only does it make them feel special but it brings her joy to do it. (Sounds like she filling her bucket!) She emphasized how the elderly on her list really enjoyed these handwritten notes because some of them are not techno-savvy. Also many people save these and look at them again and again; each time they experience the love and joy that they received when they first opened them.

Are we to busy to invest in people? Are we so consumed by work or personal entertainment that we don’t have time to actually talk to people? Has technology caused us to forget the personal touch of actual conversation? If we don’t invest in the younger generation why should they invest in us? I know time is also a precious commodity, but what’s the point in having a high volume portfolio if I can’t make time to share my life with others?

How are you personal investments coming along? Parents? Grandchildren? Children Neighbors? Friends? Co-workers? Classmates? Are those relationships growing or depreciating?

I’m beginning to see a great return on my investments. I hope you will too!

All Occasion Greeting Cards

What’s in my bucket?

Right off the bat I want to say, this bucket is not about my bucket list.  No, this is about filling my bucket.  It started when our school principal chose a book entitled Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud.  The premise of the book was that a kid could be happy or happier by showing kindness, respect, and helpfulness to others.  My take away was you have to be present in the moment to take advantage of an opportunity to fill the bucket. 

If filling someone’s bucket ultimately results in your bucket being filled there has to be some intentionality to living in the now.  That’s one of the main differences between having a bucket list and filling a bucket.  A bucket list implies that you will be or do something in the near future, or at least before you die – a kind of delayed gratification based on some day.  Bucket filling is about the present.  It is the result of living in the moment. 

In my writing I often focus on the history and relationships of past generations (especially in poetry) while considering the effects and investments it makes on the generations of the future.  Yet, I must also walk in the present.  If I fail to be present in the now, then I may miss the happiness (I prefer the term joy) of the relationships I have right now.  In other words, the past provides lessons while the future provides hope, and the present provides an opportunity to live life to the fullest.  Therefore, in order to keep my bucket filled and fill the bucket of others,  I must be intentionally present in the moment.

You may be thinking what does that look like?I  Here are a few examples from my life.  When I wake up in the morning I sit on the side of my bed, take in a deep breath, and stretch and twist my limbs and torso just to express gratefulness for life, strength, and a sound mind. When I step outside, I take the time to look up at the sky and listen to the morning sounds: my wind chimes, birds, traffic, cicadas.  I tune my favorite radio stations so that I can sing along, laugh, and listen, but mainly remain calm and unrushed in traffic.  As I drive through my subdivision, I do so watchfully and cautiously in order to spot the wildlife such as deer, rabbits, owls and opossums.  (There is also the occasional pet. I am definitely a nature lover.) 

When I meet my co-workers or people in the local coffee shop, I make an intentional effort to look them in the eye, notice their body language, and listen to their words.  (I truly hate when people ask how you are without taking the time to listen to your response.  Sometimes I’ll say something ridiculous just to catch them off guard, like I think tongue is growing longer!) When I arrive home again,  I engage in real conversations with my family.  I really want to know about their day and their experiences.  

Being present in the moment means you engage all of your senses, as well as your intellect and spirit.  Ask yourself what regrets will I have if I lost my sight (or any other sense) today.  If you would wish to see your love one’s face or a sunset or a flower, the question is why aren’t you looking at them today – when opportunity presents itself. 

There’s the DJ on the radio, Willie Moore Jr., he says, “Today is a gift that’s why it’s called the present” .  That may sound a little glib but it’s true.  We shouldn’t wait to fill our buckets with once in a lifetime adventures; we should fill our buckets with the wonders of life’s daily experiences and relationships.  Really smell the roses, really savor the flavor, truly engage and commune, actually feel and reflect, actively listen and see.  Fill Your Bucket and at the same time fill the bucket of others with the joy of being present.  You deserve it and those around you deserve it.  It’s hard to live with regret when you actively living each day intentionally. 

What will you do to be fully engaged in your environment?  How can you utilize your five senses to observe and experience life around you?  What will it take to enhance the communion of your relationships? What activities can you use to refresh and revile your spirit?  How can you fill a bucket and find daily happiness?  Please share your thoughts and share this book with a child you love.