Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Counting My Blessings

Did you ever have a day when learning of other people's problems made you take a deep breath and thank God for your own troubles which by comparison seem much more manageable? Well, that day for me was yesterday. I heard from four people for whom I care a great deal, and after hearing their current problems I felt as if my problems are less in number and more likely to be solved. I have always thought that most people don't know the difference between a problem and an inconvenience. Well, these people really do have problems. One has received a cancer diagnosis which is heart-wrenching. Two who don't know each other are both experiencing the fracturing of what used to be very close families, and the fourth one is facing what will most likely be a very ugly divorce. We all face problems in this world today, and sometimes we become so self-absorbed that we think our problems are the most serious or painful. In truth, that is usually not the case. We can always find others who are much worse off than we are. When we do, we should listen with an open mind as they relate their troubles. We should give advice only when asked to do so and only if we are qualified. Then we should give thanks for our own problems which we can and will face and handle. One of my favorite fortune cookie messages is, "We are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seaglass Jewelry

It has been over a year ago that I met one of the sisters who both designs and makes beautiful seaglass jewelry. The sisters sell their wares at craft and jewelry shows as well as online in their ETSY shop at www.sistersjewelrydesign.etsy.com I encourage you to visit their shop and look at the amazing things they create from the seaglass they pick up while walking on the beaches they love so much. They also have a blog which you may want to check out. We met at a local art and craft show where she was exhibiting and I purchased a pair of earrings as a gift for my daughter-in-law. After that show she was kind enough to make mention of my baby clothing business in her next blog post, and I have been keeping up with their success ever since. It truly is a very small world because one of her sisters and brothers-in-law live in Oregon and happen to be best friends with a couple whom I have known for years when we worked together at Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas. Are there really ever coincidences or do things happen for a reason?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday in America was Sunday in Japan

Last night I had a nice conversation with my son who lives in Tokyo, Japan with his family. SKYPE is a wonderful invention because I could see him and know that he is okay and looking well. He and his family are still safe and getting calmer although the aftershocks continue to be startling. He said it was a bright sunny day there, children were outside playing, people were walking,driving, and biking, shops were open, and shelves had been replenished. To assuage my fears, he reminded me that when the meltdown occurred at Three-Mile Island, New York City was not evacuated and was just 100 miles away. Tokyo is about 150+ miles away from the nuclear power facilities where all the problems are being worked on so lots of people are just staying put and trying to live their daily lives. He told me that everyone continues to be concerned about those poor people who have no heat, no water, no food, and he wonders why the news media can get there with their camera crews, etc. and yet take no supplies with them to help the people they are trying to film and interview. Good question. Water, blankets, hygiene supplies, food...........surely they could toss some things in the backseats of their vehicles and give them out at their destinations. Today at church a second collection was taken up to aid in the relief efforts in Japan and prayers were offered for all who died and for those who lived but lost everything or were injured. I loved hearing about the survival of the elderly grandmother and her teen-age grandson when their house had collapsed around them. To be alive and safe after so many days is indeed a miracle. Let's hope the miracles keep coming. I also applaud the Japanese people who have conducted themselves with dignity, courtesy and compassion for their fellow countrymen. Sadly, I think had this disaster occurred in America the looting and vandalism would have started the first day and continued. I think the behavior of the Japanese people in this crisis is a testimonial to the value they place on home, family, honor, and respect. If we teach our children and grandchildren those values from infancy to adulthood, they will not depart from those character-building traits. A baby's life is like a blank page, and as parents we write the child's future on a daily basis. That is an awesome responsibility and an incredible opportunity to raise honest, decent, contributing adults.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sandra Bullock Is An Amazing Woman

Today I received a Tweet from People Magazine saying that Sandra Bullock has donated one million dollars to the relief effort for the people in Northern Japan who continue to suffer the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Considering everything Ms. Bullock has been through, the public spotlight focused on her through very personal heartaches, and becoming a first-time mother to adorable Louie, it is inspiring that she is still the epitome of class. She continues to conduct herself with dignity, grace, humor and generosity as she shares her good fortune with those in need. God Bless Sandra Bullock!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Good Book To Energize One's Entrepreneurial Spirit

A neighbor of mine loaned another neighbor a book written by her grandson-in-law titled Why NOW Is The Time To CRUSH IT! Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk www.garyvaynerchuk.com That neighbor knew I have started an online business and told me I should read it and then return it to the neighbor who loaned it to her. In truth, at first I thought I would read it just to be polite, but after I read it I realized it had so many great ideas that I needed to purchase my own copy so I could make notes and mark passages. I am a new Internet entrepreneur and am feeling my way through all of the social media opportunities as well as trying to learn search engine optimization for my website. This book has some good ideas and how-to's in it. It is a quick read at only 142 pages. This young man has built a $60-million dollar business by using the ideas and techniques about which he writes in this book. Worth the time to read in my opinion. When I returned the book to his grandmother-in-law, she told how wonderfully successful he has been and how smart he is...........grandmas can't be wrong.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Good People Everywhere

As the tragedy in Japan continues to unfold, I continue to be concerned for my family members who are there. I was so relieved when I found them to be safe after the quake and tsunami, I never thought the nuclear reactor facility problems would become equally terrifying. I continue to pray for them and all the people who may be in harm's way from a possible nuclear meltdown. It has also become abundantly clear how fortunate I was to get through to my son via SKYPE two hours after the quake hit as I heard on the news today that American families are still struggling trying to find out about their loved ones in Japan and unable to reach them. The kindness of people in times of crisis should never be in doubt. Whether going to Japan to help or sending money to help, I am also touched by people all over the USA and even in Europe who have reached out to me via telephone and email to inquire about the safety of my son and his family. These are old friends, people with whom I used to work, former neighbors now scattered across the nation and the world who still care about my family's safety. I am ever so grateful and appreciative of their concern and their prayers. My heart is broken for those people whose loved ones are presumed dead, the families left behind to wait and hope, and those who are cold, hungry, cut off from rescue workers. We all should count our blessings and never take our lives and loved ones for granted as we have just seen that everything can change or be lost in an instant. I will continue to pray for everyone's safety and healing from this horrific event.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My Family Safe In Japan

It is with a grateful heart that I have spent this day knowing that my son, his wife, and my only grandchild are safe and well in Japan. There are so many tragic stories coming out of Japan, and I am so sorry for all of those lives lost and their families and friends left behind. I am also very sorry for the loss of homes, cars, etc. and glad to see so many people stepping up to the plate to donate money to provide assistance to those so severely affected. This is one more event that should make all of us realize that life is fragile and can be changed forever in just an instant without any warning. So tell the people you love that you love them; settle disputes and family feuds before it might be too late to do so. God has blessed my family, and I offer praise and thanks to Him.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Old Friends

Today I had lunch with a couple whom I have known since we were all teenagers. Then she and I worked for the same company. They married first, and months later she held a surprise birthday party for her new husband. That evening he introduced me to one of his fraternity brothers whom I subsequently married. They had two children; we had two children. After our children were born for the most part we have lived in different states, but we always kept in touch. Birthay cards, Christmas cards, an occasional letter or phone call.........and now thanks to email we communicate frequently. They spend several months here in the desert every winter so again we can spend time together . Old friends are to be treasured for the common past we shared and the contributions made to each others' lives. We have been through a lot of "stuff" over the years, but whenever we have the chance to get together we seem to pick up right where we left off with no awkward silences. I wanted my children to experience the wonderful gift of old friends. I am happy that my son and his first friend met in Sunday School and are still friends today despite living on opposite sides of the world. Email is great, and SKYPE adds to the incredible ability to keep in touch. Is there an old friend with whom you would like to reconnect? Just do it! You'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Is In A Name? Give It Lots Of Thought!

Because I have always loved babies, I did a lot of babysitting from the time I was 11 years old until I graduated high school. I knew a lot of children and adults and always paid attention to their names. When I was in high school I decided I would someday get married and have two children, a boy and a girl whom I would name Scott (to be called Scotty) and Susan (to be called Susie). In my youthful naivete I never gave a thought to the possible last name of a husband, how the childrens' names would fit with that last name, or to the possibility that my future husband would not agree with the names I had chosen. I did marry when I was 21, and we did indeed have a son and a daughter. My husband chose their middle names since I had my heart set on the first names. I should mention here that my married name is Smith.......even the doctor who delivered our daughter was a bit taken aback that we were naming her Susan (Susie) Smith (she still likes being called Susie and still adamantly against being called Susan or Sue). In retrospect, I should have given more thought to the name selection process because names have to last lifetimes. With a common last name like Smith perhaps first names should be more unusual, more sophisticated, more distinguished, and more memorable (it has been my experience that people rarely remember the names Smith, Brown or Jones but never forget a name like Katzenjammer). In selecting the names for my babies I was thinking just that.......of them as babies. I did not think of how their names would seem to them or others as they grew up, as they chose their professions, as their names were listed in various directories, or when they ultimately become senior citizens. My suggestion to anyone reading this blog is to give the naming process great consideration and ask yourselves some questions. Will the children(and others)learn to spell and write their names with ease? Think of the images their names conjure up in others. Will those images be strong and not make them objects of ridicule? When they are grown up and in their chosen fields of endeavor will their names be assets and not hindrances to them? To my knowledge, my children do not hate their names (or me for bestowing them on them). I hope you will be as fortunate with the names you select for your children. Frankly, I think I was just darn lucky.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Terangos

Try these.........if you love chocolate you will love these.......... Frozen Chocolate Terangos (Makes 14) 1 C butter 2 C sifted powdered sugar 4 oz. unsweetened chocolate 4 eggs 2 t vanilla 1 C vanilla wafer crumbs (or a little more) 1 ½ t cream d’menthe Pinch of salt 1/3 C chopped nuts Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add chocolate and eggs and beat til fluffy. Add cream d’menthe, vanilla and salt. Add 1/3 cup chopped nuts. Take muffin cups lined with foil cups and sprinkle crumbs in to cover bottom. Spoon in chocolate mixture and top with crumbs. Then top with whole pecan. Freeze covered. Serve with paper removed and topped with whipped cream.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Tweet About Teaching Children To Be Honest

I have a thing about integrity and especially how people teach chilren to be honest (and I worry about children whose parents don't teach them to be honest). At one time I had over 250 employees, and while the majority were honest there were some who were not. As I dealt with those who were not trustworthy, I definitely learned that children are more likely to be dishonest when they are punished for telling the truth. If a child breaks a neighbor's window, comes home and admits he broke the window, don't punish him for breaking the window but rather use this opportunity to do two things: 1) Praise him for being honest and thank him for telling the truth. Reinforcing desirable behavior will encourage him to repeat the behavior. 2) THEN teach him to take responsibility for his actions by calmly working out how he will pay to have the broken window replaced. When a child is punished for telling the truth, he/she quickly learns to lie and hope not to get caught. Integrity serves a child well all through his/her life, and accepting responsibility for his/her own behavior will ultimately be a benfit. Neither trait comes without consequences at times, but children become better adults and have brighter futures with these characteristics. Prisons are full of people who do not have these traits so lead children by example and hold them accountable but with encouragement and appreciation for honesty.