Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

Today I am just kind of thinking out loud. I have a slight dilemma called, "not enough vacation time to do all of the things I want and need to do this year." The problem started when we went to buy a new fridge this morning. No choice, ours is ready to clunk out and could at any moment. Shopping for a fridge could be a blog entry in itself, so we will leave that for another day. When we asked about delivery, the kind gentleman that was helping us asked for our zip code and said he would be right back. He was and said we could get delivery Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday next week. Knowing our fridge could go at any moment we really wanted Wednesday. I asked if they would be able to tell us a.m. or p.m. and he said "No, not until the night before. Someone will call you." in order to get my fridge delivered on Wednesday, one of us would actually have to take the entire day off??? Don't get me wrong, I LOVE an extra day off now and then, but here is the problem....

You only have so many vacation and personal days to play with and we REALLY do not want to use one of them waiting for the delivery man. Not that I couldn't use the day off to work on my business, but I just took a personal day a couple of weeks ago to do that.

See, our youngest son is coming home from Colorado for Christmas, so we need to take some days off that week. We are having a shower for our daughter in January....and I really don't know if I will need a day off for that. Then we have the wedding in March, and we will both need a day or two off for that...and then....I would like to vacation next summer in Telluride, Colorado where our son lives. It's a very long drive to Telluride from Illinois so we really need a lot of time for that. Where are all of these days off going to come from?

I have sat and done the math over and over and over again. The days just don't work out. There aren't enough of them to go around. Our PR lady and I were talking and she said I can always take an extra day or two unpaid.......uh, I don't think so.

So, it all comes down to this. The fridge is being delivered on Saturday so neither of us have to take any time off, and we are just going to keep our fingers crossed that this lovely gold monster in the kitchen makes it until then. Then, I will take off three extra days the week of Christmas so I can spend it with our son while he is here. Next, I will wing it in January and just try to be organized so I don't have to take any extra time off for the shower. The wedding....we have to take the day before the wedding off. Everything takes place downtown (Chicago). Then I might just be able to swing a fantastic two week vacation to Telluride!! Ah, I feel so much better now.

Oh no, I have to run! The fridge is making some awful clanking noises!

Friday, October 31, 2008

When Trouble Comes Knocking

These are tough times for so many people. My heart aches for people that have lost their jobs and are struggling to keep their heads above water. My husband and I are fortunate to still have our jobs, but financial woes have always seemed to follow us, just like our own shadows!

I'm sure most of us can look back and remember a time in our lives when we felt like we were carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. It could have been because of health problems, job loss, relationship issues or any number of things. It can be overwhelming.

I am an extremely positive person. I refuse to let anything get me down to the point of feeling defeated, but before you think that I have not faced me I have. I understand the pain. I just don't dwell on my problems. I can't.

I always see the glass as half full...even when the glass is almost empty. I think I am like that out of fear. I am afraid that if I think about the negative too much, it will suck the life right out of me...and I can't let that happen. It isn't that I am in denial....I know full well that the problem is lurking there in the shadows. I just refuse to let it consume me.

Something I do when trouble is knocking on my door is to write in my Gratitude Journal. I started mine a few years ago. My journal is a plain paper journal that someone gave me as a gift. It isn't beautiful, but it serves it's purpose. It has handmade paper and a strange taupe colored cover. It has an elastic band that use to hold it shut, but the band is all stretched out. You don't really need a fancy journal, although they are nice. A spiral notebook would work, or even just a stack of scratch paper. Whatever works for you.

I keep my journal next to my bed. I have noticed that I tend to write in spurts and it's very obvious that I turn to my "dear old friend" when times are tough, or something is on my mind. The idea behind a Gratitude Journal is to write down five things you are grateful for each and every day. It can be something really big or something really small. It doesn't matter. It's just things from that day that you are grateful for.

One day I was grateful it didn't rain all day because of all of the flooding. Another day I was grateful for the little toad that had visited our back yard. One day it was for the beautiful heron that flew overhead on my way to work, and another time it was for the beautiful flowers in our garden. A three day weekend, time spent with family, a beautiful sunset, my dogs, central air, a duck and her babies, my son coming home.....and on and on and on.

When I look back and read my old entries, they always make me smile. As I look at the pages and pages and pages of entries.....I realize that yes, sometimes things can get tough....really tough, but I have so much to be grateful for.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Inner Voice

I was e-mailing my friend, Nancy, one day last winter to update her on a mutual friend of ours that has cancer. I finished the e-mail and on the "To" line, I started to type in her name, N-A-N...and her address popped up just like it always did. I clicked on her name and just as I was about to click on "send", my eyes happened to shift over to her address and I had the wrong Nancy's address in there. "STOP!", my brain told my clicker finger, but alas it was too finger came down on the little mouse and off went my the wrong Nancy!

It happen that at that time, I was running a network marketing business and I had hundreds of contacts in my address book. I looked at the address I had sent the e-mail to and had no clue who this Nancy person was. None whatsoever! Good heavens...I had just sent a very personal e-mail to someone I didn't even know. How on earth did I do that?!?

I quickly typed up another e-mail to the unknown Nancy person, apologizing for my mistake. I entered her e-mail address and hit send. A couple of days later I got this really nice e-mail back from Nancy. She said she knew right away that the e-mail was not meant for her, but when she saw the word "cancer" she couldn't help reading it. She said she could definitely relate and she wished my sick friend well.

Okay, so that should have been the end of it. No more really needed to be said, but for some crazy reason, I was drawn to this cyber-Nancy, and my little inner voice kept telling me to e-mail her back. I finally listened. Since that day, there have been dozens and dozens of e-mails and a beautiful friendship has blossomed. Nancy and I have so much in common from our love of the arts, to writing and nature. We have become wonderful friends, even though we have never met.

Oh, how did Nancy's e-mail address find it's way into my list of contacts in my address book? My husband and I had placed an ad on Craig's List earlier that winter and Nancy had responded to our ad! Now I realize that Craig's List ads and errant e-mails aren't your normal way to make friends, but I guess it's what had to happen for us to "meet" at all!

Nancy was diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. She calls her cancer experience her "journey", and I know now that we "met" because I was meant to walk with her on her journey, and I am...every step of the way.

So, if you ever hear your little inner voice telling you to do something, even if it seems a bit strange at the time...don't question it....follow that voice. A very special friend might be waiting there for you!

Love you Nanc!

I have honored Nancy and our friendship this month with a special Breast Cancer Awareness Card. Nancy named the card "Nancy's Rose of Inspiration", and it is on sale in my online store at Part of the proceeds from each card purchased is being donated to Cancer Patient Care in Spokane, Washington. Just click on the card below for more information.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Different Kind of Christmas?

My 25 year old son is a third grade teacher out in Telluride, Colorado. He is extremely aware of the affect our actions have on Mother Earth. He is very good with recycling and reusing. He told me the other day that he cringes whenever he has to throw anything in the garbage. His siblings call him a "tree hugger".

Well, my favorite little "tree hugger" sent me an e-mail yesterday and told me to watch the video on the website he sent. He said it was really eye-opening. When I got home from work, I went to the website and when the video started to play, I noticed that it was 20 minutes long!! Yikes, I didn't have 20 minutes to watch a video. I had work to do.....but this was my precious little boy asking his mom to watch something that was important to of course, I watched. I am SO glad I did!

When he called later that night, we immediately started discussing the video. It was then that he informed me that he wants no gifts for Christmas this year. Okay, that didn't surprise me at all. He has made that request before, but I've never complied. This year, after watching "the video" I just might. In fact, I might be joining him in his effort.

The website is Feel free to check it out. The website and video talk about what we can do to make a difference in the world in regards to what we buy and how we dispose of things. In fact, it tells you where the materials for the things we buy come from, how they are turned into the things that we buy, how we buy things, how long the things we buy last and what happens when we dispose of things. Do you see the pattern here? Things....lots and lots of things. I don't want to make this so much about the video, you can watch it and draw your own conclusions. A lot of it I already knew, but the delivery of the info was what kept my attention.

Now, don't get me wrong...I love Christmas. I love it a lot. I love giving gifts. Heck, I love getting gifts...but every year after the hoopla is over Christmas morning, I always feel a bit guilty and almost sorry that we "went all out" once again. Maybe it's because we always end up using plastic for some of the gifts we buy or maybe it's just the letdown after all of the excitement of preparing for the big day. Maybe you can relate....maybe not. I don't remember if I ever felt that way when our kids were little....I don't think so....back then the excitement lasted long after Christmas usually lasted until the new toys were either no longer the latest and greatest or they were broken!

Our kids are adults. We open our gifts like adults, the gifts get packed into their cars and by that evening the only sign that there were gifts opened is the dog chewing lovingly on a new toy! So, anyway....this year I think I will talk to the rest of the family and see what they would think about not buying gifts for one another, and maybe doing something with that money that would have meaning long after Christmas morning. I'm not sure what that might be, but the possibilities are endless.

I'm thinking that this year really could be a different kind of Christmas at our house.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Missing Piece of The Puzzle

So, almost two years ago I got this really great job. (See yesterday's post) I spent the first year learning and adjusting to my new career. I was pretty happy. The new job had brought with it a change I had desperately needed.

Then out of the blue, it happened....this awful feeling of emptiness. Where on earth did it come from? My personal life was good. I liked my new job. Why was I feeling like this? I am extremely in tune to both my physical and emotional health. Normally if I don't feel right, I can quickly pinpoint the cause. Not this time.

Was I depressed? Was I somehow feeling sorry for myself? I started doing yoga and pilates thinking the exercise might help. I started a gratitude journal. It didn't matter, I still felt empty. I felt that way until one day in July when I was looking at some of my youngest son's photos. He takes such beautiful pictures.

I took a few of my favorites and I started to make some cards. I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but they really turned out awesome. So, I made a few more, and then a few more. The more I made the more excited I got. I started showing them to people and everyone said the same thing. "You should sell these!"

Geez, that would mean a website and I am NOT a computer person at all. That would mean advertising, and there was no
money for that.

I tabled the thought and just kept playing around with the photos and cardstock until one day when I was talking to my sister in South Carolina. She mentioned that a friend of hers sold jewelry and had this really great website that she did herself. The wheels started turning.....

A few e-mails back and forth with my sister's friend, and FourDogDay, our online card and gift shop made it's debut on etsy!
Soon after starting the business that empty feeling disappeared completely, and I suddenly realized what had happened to me.

I have always loved arts and crafts. From the time I was in high school, I had been drawing, painting, sewing and creating. It has always been a huge part of who I was. Sadly, when I was working "that job"...the one I talked about yesterday, I got home after 7:30 at night. I had no time for anything, much less crafts, so the creating had stopped.

With my new job I was getting home at 4:15 every day. That gave me free time that I had not had in years. At first I filled my evenings with t.v., magazines and Sudoku puzzles and that kept me happy for a little while. I think when the novelty of that wore off is when the emptiness set in.

FourDogDay has filled my heart, in fact it is overflowing right now. My creative head is constantly spinning and at times it's hard to sleep. We've only been in business for three months and we have already added a ton of new things to our shop. I have wonderful plans for FourDogDay and I look forward to every day. This business has taught me so many things! I have stepped out of my comfort zone to chat on forums. I have learned to twitter and blog! I have met some absolutely amazing and talented people.

The emptiness is only a distant memory now, because I found the missing piece of the puzzle. Creating things truly feeds my soul.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Workin' Nine to Five

Workin' 9 to 5...what a way to make a livin'....Okay, so I don't really work 9 to 5. I actually work 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and I really like my job. No, I didn't say I like working. I said I like my job. There is a difference.

If you work for someone else, do you like your job? Do you like the people you work with? Do they pay you enough? Do you like the person you work for?

A bunch of us were talking on a forum the other day about jobs and someone said , "If you don't like your job--quit and find one you do like." Wow! If it was only that easy, especially in this economy!

I worked in an office a few years ago, and I could honestly answer yes to all of those questions in the first paragraph, except the for the last one. I liked what I did. I liked my co-workers. They paid me well. In fact, they treated me well. They just didn't treat most of the other people the way they treated me. One day there was yelling, then the next day we were the best staff on the face of the earth! One day they liked this person, the next day they fired them. It was a roller coaster ride, and I happen to hate roller coasters!

I also knew, in fact we all knew, that if we ever disagreed with any of the boss's philosophies that we would lose our job. That's just how it worked there. So, I agreed...even when I didn't really agree. No matter what they said, I agreed. No wonder they loved me! Unfortunately, I started not liking myself very much and really lost sight of the person I once was. I hated going to work.

There was no way I could quit though. I could never make that kind of money somewhere else. No one would hire me. I didn't go to college. I had no real skills. Where would I go? What would I do? I ended up staying there for five years because I thought I had no other choice. I lacked the confidence to help myself.

Then one day, after yet another temper tantrum by the boss, I told myself it was time. I just couldn't do it anymore. I felt sick every day. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I gave my notice anyway. Once I decide to do something....that's it....I do it. It didn't even take very long, and I was offered a job at the local newspaper. The pay wasn't very good and I wasn't even sure I liked the industry. I just knew I needed a job so I accepted it. I was supposed to start in a couple of weeks. I was happy I had found a job, but for some reason it just didn't feel right. I was far from excited.

A few days later, my husband came home with a newspaper. He had circled an ad for a school secretary. I loved schools! I had volunteered in our kid's schools for 14 years! I had never been a secretary though. I didn't have any real secretarial fact, I wasn't even very good on a computer. I was a hard worker though and highly organized. I knew I was good with people, trustworthy and reliable. Would it be enough? I didn't know, but I sent my resume anyway. I wanted that job so bad. It was the right hours, the right pay and it was in a school!
Well, after two interviews, I was offered the job....this job....the one that I really like with the nice co-workers, the great boss and the great pay! What was it that gave me the confidence I needed to apply for and get offered this job? Where was that confidence during the 5 miserable years I spent at the other job? I'm really not sure. I think I just reached a point where I knew that I had to get out. I needed to find myself again, and I have.

Here is what I learned from my experience. Never doubt your personal life or in business. Have faith in your decision making ability and have confidence in yourself. Never lose sight of who you are or what you want out of life. Make yourself proud. If you do those things, success will always be yours.
Tomorrow we will talk about....when something is missing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Handling Changes...Even Little Ones

Well, something is changing today. Something that has made me feel a bit sad. We all go through changes in our lives. We change jobs, we change homes, our faces and bodies change as we age, our kids change as they grow up, Presidents change, the economy changes....very little really stays the same. What matters the most, is how we adapt to change. For the most part, I am okay with change. I usually just figure that is the way it is and move one. How do you handle change? Do you smile and say, "That's life", or do you kick and scream...begging for things to remain as they were? There is a wonderful book that has been out for while now. I think my copy is from 1998. It's called "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson, M.D. Whether you find change difficult, or whether you breeze through's a great (and very quick) read. I highly recommend it.

So, what is the change that is breaking my heart a wee bit today, and making me look back and ponder upon days gone by? Peter's Bakery is closing it's doors today! There I said it, and it hurt a little bit. You have to understand that each and every cake my family has ever purchased for a party of any kind has come from Peter's Bakery! Every Christening party cake, every birthday cake, every anniversary cake, every holiday cake...every single cake we have ever eaten has come from Peter's Bakery! In fact, when I need a french donut fix, or I need to lavish over a long john, I go to Peter's Bakery. The stuff you get at the store...the stuff that comes in boxes.....those aren't true bakery goodies!

Yesterday my son, who loves the bakery as much as I do, stopped at the bakery to snatch up a couple of the remaining sweet morsels and they were out of everything. He had actually worked at the bakery back when he was in high school. So, this morning, not wanting to miss out, I got there early and pounced on a delightful apple last.
The bakery has been in the Yurgaitis family since 1961 and has been run by Pam and Phillip for as long as I can remember. Now, before you go and get all concerned that the economy has snatched Peter's Bakery out from under them, you can stop worrying...Pam and Phillip are retiring!

I asked Pam why they didn't sell the bakery? At least then I could have continued my happy little visits. Pam said they decided against it. It's been in the family for so long that they didn't want to pass it on to someone else. Fair enough. I said I usually handle change quite well. This one is a little tough though. I think what bothers me the most about the bakery closing, besides not being able to have my sweets and order my favorite cakes, is that a little piece of our family's history is going with it. My kids use to love going to the bakery when they were little. They loved the little butter cookies with the different colored sprinkles and the smiley face cookies...hey who wouldn't?

So, today we say so long and farewell to the little bakery that has been a fixture in our community for so very many years. We wish Pam and Phillip a wonderful retirement. You will have to excuse me now while I go read, "Who Moved My Cheese" again and does anyone know where I can get a good coffee cake?

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