I Have been reading an excellent book by Angela Duckworth titled GRIT, which I highly recommend - for us as individuals and as parents. With statistics and fascinating anecdotes this author reminds us that success is not just about talent. It's about hanging in there and not giving up, finding what you're good at and what you love and then getting better at it and making things happen in your life.
The last section of the book tells how to build "grit" in our kids and one thing she said really struck me: "Whether we realize it or not, the culture in which we live, and with which we identify powerfully shapes just about every aspect of our being. By culture I don't mean the geographic or political boundaries that divide one people from another as much as the invisible psychological boundaries separating us from them. At its core, a culture is defined by the shared norms and values of a group of people."
This really resonated with me. I'm sure you've heard the saying, Birds of a feather flock together. Here's another one you may have heard: Bad companions ruin good character. (That one's right out of the Bible - 1 Corinthians 15:33 ) I've seen first hand how the people in my life have influenced me. I bet you have, too.
Applying this idea of culture to our lives, I think it's important to ask ourselves some important questions, the first one being, "What do I want out of life?" If you want to to be successful in your endeavors, you do well to hang out with people who are equally ambitious. If you have dreams, surround yourself with people who will encourage you to go after those dreams. If you want to save money, don't hang out with people whose lifestyle involves racking up credit card debt on fancy grown-up toys and expensive vacations and dinners out. They'll only mock you for being so cheap and sneer at your out of date ______ (clothes, technology, car, you fill in the blank.) If you hang around people who are wise with their money and who will encourage you to do the same you'll have the support you need to reach your financial goals. If you're trying to eat healthfully or lose weight, you're better off hanging out with people who won't try and seduce you with hot fudge sundaes and chips.
And as far as our kids go, if we want them to have well-balanced, fulfilled lives and high moral standards, it's important to make sure we know who our little chickies are calling friends.
If you've got dreams, if you're still searching for your purpose in life, I encourage you not to give up. If you've got young ones you want to see live up to their potential or if you want to live up to your potential, I encourage you to get this book. It will be a good investment in your future.
With beaches closed and so many of us stuck at home (maybe with some restless kids) sheltering in place may be starting to feel not quite so cozy. So how about having a beach party right in your family room or back yard? How to do that? I have some thoughts!
First of all Decorate
You have to set the scene, after all. Harness your younger ones' energy by sending them into the yard to find some rocks they can wash and scatter around for that beachy feel. If you're into painting rocks, decorating some with fish can also be fun. If you don't have craft supplies they're available on line. A plain candle can be dressed up by some glued on shells, (Which can also be ordered on line. I just bought some and they're great!) Younger children can draw beach-themed pictures which you can hang in the window or string on your back patio.
You have to dress for the beach, right? Have everyone in the family pick the beach clothes for each other from someone else's closet. Mom's bikini top for Dad, perhaps? Dad's old Hawaiian shirt for little Junior? You'll want to be sure to take some selfies to post! Also, if you have crafters in the family, you can buy charms on line for a reasonable price and make some jewelry to wear to the party.
You can't have a beach party without food. If you've got teens who like to cook put them to work making some good, old-fashioned potato salad and deviled eggs. If you don't have a grill for hot dogs it's okay to cook them on the stove top.
For dessert, how about an ice cream octopus? Fun and easy for the younger ones to make. I've got the instructions on the recipe page here at Sheila's Place. (And you know you want to check out that page, too, right?)
Any number of activities will keep different age groups happy. Younger ones will enjoy playing Hide the Shell. You can do this with a real shell or a small picture of a shell. It's like the old Hide the Button game. Send everyone from the room (or the back yard, if you're out there) and hide the object. Bring the gang back out and let them search, letting them know if they're getting warm, hot or cold as they get closer or farther away from the object. Whoever finds it is the next one to hide it.
Surfing doesn't have to involve water. If you've got an old plank sitting around from some previous project you're in business. The gang can air surf. Have two muscled members of the family hold each end of the plank a couple feet above ground level, then put your surfer on it and jiggle the plank. Have a contest to see who stays on the longest.
How about a game of Beach Bingo? Make your own Bingo Boards. (Several websites offer free templates.) Replace the word BINGO with BEACH. You can use Skittles, M & M's or chocolate chips for your markers. Whoever wins gets out of a household chore for the week, gets a double allowance, or ... whatever prize you think your family will enjoy.
You can play backyard beach volleyball even if you don't have a net. Simply make a line with rope and let the ball fly where it will.
End your party with a story. Let someone start the story with a beach-themed beginning, such as Once Upon a Time There was a Giant Squid. That person can stop the story wherever he or she wants, leaving the next member of the family to continue the story. That person, too, can stop anywhere in the story. Last in line has to finish the tale.
JUST LIKE OUR GRANDPARENTS AND GREAT GRANDPARENTS DID, we can manage to make the most of life in difficult times. Hopefully, if your family can't go to the beach this will bring the beach to you!
I know many of us are starting to get a little buggy with this sheltering in place and quarantining. I'm currently at our California digs. We got here just before the shelter in place orders so here we are in our condo, sheltering. A much different picture than I'd envisioned. I'd planned on making new friends, throwing parties, going line dancing, playing tennis, doing all kinds of stuff with our kids. At the moment I'm...
not doing any of that. But I am getting a lot of writing done. As Melody Jones, one of my favorite characters in my Moonlight Harbor series would say, "Every storm has a rainbow." Right now I'm concentrating on rainbows. Here are some of the positives I'm finding:
I'm saving a lot of money. Other than groceries and books we're not buying much. Sure saving a ton on gas!
I can binge on House Hunters International guilt free.
I've got a bug but it's not COVID-19
I can Zoom!
I can get creative with the goods we've stocked up on.
I can get creative. Period. This is turning out to be a very productive time for me.
I have toilet paper!
I'm at home, not in a hospital on a respirator.
I am seeing firsthand what a blessing good health is. It's something I hope never to take for granted again.
How about you? I hope you're finding some rainbows in the storm. Stay well everyone and let's remember to pray for those who are dealing with this and the ones who are working so hard to get them well.
I keep thinking of that song from the musical Annie. It seems dark right now but sunrise is coming.
YES, this is the new shopping apparel. A strange new world and many of us are now home bound. Except for essential workers.
... And those of us who are bored and just want to get out. And the just want to get outers are becoming quite a controversy. With everyone so scared of getting COVID-19, seeing someone at the local Walmart or grocery store just browsing can be like a red flag. People have told me that when they try to plead for staying put they're often told to mind their own business.
And that makes me wonder. When is someone else's business my business?
I remember an old saying: My right to swing my arm ends at your nose. Yes, we live in a free country. We all have rights. But when our rights start messing up someone else's life maybe that's when we need to rethink how we exercise them.
I haven't wanted to bug my kids to go out and do stuff for me so Gerhardt and I have been running to the grocery store and post office... in our masks. After all we're not that old!
But, much as I hate to admit it, we're not that young either, and every time I go out I'm gambling on whether I'll pick up a germ or dodge one. What if I get sick? Then I'll be even more of a pain in the neck to my kids. I sure don't want that. Of what if I pick up a germ and wind up sharing it with my husband? We are now stocked up so I think it's time to stop swinging my arm and completely self-quarantine. (Besides, my one time wear mask I've had forever is probably long worn out and I'm down to one pair of disposable gloves!)
How about you? Maybe you're not at an age where you need to be hiding at home, but do you need to be out when, well, you don't need to be out? (We're not talking about getting essentials, we're talking about dealing with cabin fever in a not so good way.) Are you out there swinging, figuring it's nobody's business? Maybe it's time to think about whose nose you could end up punching. Maybe it really is a good idea to stay put.
Who would have thought that finding toilet paper would be like finding gold? And hand sanitizer! If thieves were to break into your house that would be the first thing they'd steal. COVID-19 has tipped our lives upside down.
After the readers conference I was to attend got cancelled, after our dream Princess cruise to Hawaii went up in smoke, Gerhardt and I decided to get out of Washington and head to CA where we'd planned to spend spring with our son and family. Hardly anyone on the road except for truckers, keeping America supplied, God bless 'em. Strange times, folks. Now we're in sunny CA... self-quarantined.
Where are you right now? Are you working from home? Trying to home school and entertain the kids? Maybe you're in a retirement community and on lock down. Maybe you're in the health industry, working hard to keep the rest of us alive. If you are, thank you, thank you.
For those of us at home, this can feel either like a relief (if you're an introvert) or frustrating (if you're an extrovert). The kids may be driving you nuts or you may have cabin fever. Whatever the case, I have a few suggestions for how to keep on smilin'.
One I picked up from my friend Candy Paull, author of FINDING SERENITY IN SEASONS OF STRESS. (Check her out on Amazon!) On her Facebook page she talked about how easy it is to feel overwhelmed and depressed with everything that's going on right now. She decided to get out and do some yard work she'd been postponing. Seeing what she'd accomplished helped her feel empowered and encouraged.
What a good idea. Is there a chore you've been putting off? This is the perfect time do that spring cleaning.
With life slowing down it's also the perfect time to reconnect with our family members. For those of us who are now working at home and no longer commuting to work, we've gained some time, and found time is like found money. In some ways, better. You can always go out and earn more money. You can't earn more time.
Sooo, having said that...Limit your time in front of the TV, watching the news. Yes, we want to stay abreast of what's happening, but watching the same information over and over won't help our peace of mind. Instead how about building a family encouragement hour into your day? Read aloud to each other from a funny book, pick a favorite Bible passage to share (right now mine is Psalm 91), have a contest to see who can make up the funniest poem or story. work a puzzle together or play a long neglected board game, download an e-read by your favorite author, journal about lessons you're learning in all of this. Always wanted to write a book? Maybe this is the time to start. Or how about sewing face masks? My writing pal Lois Dyer heard there's a shortage and she's busy sewing masks for her local health care facility. Know an older person in the neighborhood who's self quarantining? Ask if you can leave cookies or some homemade soup on the doorstep.
This is a scary time but let's try to keep our attitudes positive and our hands clean. We'll get through this!
Girlfriends are such a treasure, and there's nothing to make you feel rich like getting away for something fun with yours. Which I did last weekend. We were on the Washington Coast, enjoying a chocolate festival, sampling all kinds of goodies... and buying some goodies, too. We even got in a beach walk.
There may not be a chocolate festival going on in your neck of the woods, but maybe there's something you can do with your girlfriends. How about a slumber party at someone's house? Or maybe just a spa day? Or a movie night? Or have your own chocolate party and share chocolate desserts.
I know we're all fearful of this new corona virus, but the CDC is urging us to not freeze up in terror and to live our lives. That's what I'm trying to do. I have the Book Lovers Convention coming up in Nashville in just a couple of weeks. I'm still planning on going and doing my part to stimulate their local economy after the tornado. And in April we have a cruise to Hawaii scheduled. On a Princess ship! I've been waiting to see Hawaii for about forty years, so I'm hoping this all will settle down and the poor cruise line will be able to sail away from their problems. If that doesn't work out, Hawaii will still be there.
Meanwhile, though, I can have fun with my friends and appreciate them. How about you? What are you doing to keep your focus positive and enjoy your life? Hope you're finding ways to do that. Even if you can't get to a festival, maybe it's time to go buy some chocolate!
Many hands not only make light work, they make for lots of fun. Our condominium community recently enjoyed a fun-filled progressive dinner party. It was close enough to Fat Tuesday that we went with a Mardi Gras theme. As you can see by the picture, I chose the salad course. So easy! Just made a salad bar and got paper plates and we were good to go.
The beauty of progressive dinners is that no one person has to be in charge of every course. And the beauty of our party was that nobody had to go outside in the rain or drive. Everyone just took their to-go wine glasses from unit to unit.
Wanting to spend a little more time with your neighbors? This might be the way to go. And if you live in a condo or apartment you sure won't have far to go!
We celebrated Valentine's Day yesterday at a Valentine tea dance at a nearby Elks club, a wonderful venue for ballroom and swing dancing. Dancing isn't Gerhardt's favorite pastime, but once a week he sucks it up and does it for me. What a guy! This was a lunch buffet, and for dessert, many of the dancers brought cookies. Two buffets for the price of one!
A great time was had by all - lots of smiles and laughter, a fabulous dance exhibition, good food. A great day. Thank you Gerhardt for being such a sweetheart, for putting your wife's wants above you own. Doing for the other person instead of yourself - isn't that what loving someone is all about? Now, what can I do for him today? I'll think of something!
By the way, can you tell which couple was the dance pro in the two bottom pictures?
What a wonderful Christmas I had! Great times with family left me with many new memories to treasure. Good food, good fun, presents, laughter, games. It was a perfect birthday party.
And that brings me to the thought that occurred to me the other day. How many of us look beyond the Christmas tree? Beyond the decorations and lights and big dinners to the One whose birthday we celebrate.
The best gift in history was a man named Jesus. We Christians often refer to the hope He brings as the free gift of salvation.
But really, it wasn't such a free gift. It cost. More than any gift in history. And it was given so our rebellious, wounded, angry, hurt, broken and dark world could find light, healing and peace.
I received some lovely presents this year, but the only one that matters is that priceless gift of hope God gave two thousand years ago. A healed relationship with our creator, the one gift that truly does keep on giving.
This year in the U.S. we have seen a rise in homelessness, wars, disturbing political fighting and more school shootings. So much darkness.
But we can choose light. I am so thankful that God offers us that opportunity.
I pray as we go into the new year, we will take advantage of that costly gift we just celebrated, choose light and show love. If we could all do that, if we could all forgive, reach out in kindness, strive to be the wonderful beings we were originally designed to be what an amazingly happy new year we could have.
This month I had such a fun party! It was a trip down Memory Lane with my sister-in-law and some of my nieces and grandnieces. Way back I fell heir to my mother's hats. As she had hats ranging form the 1930's clear through the eighties, it was quite a collection. A collection that, with the exception of a couple, has been mostly sitting around being ignored. I decided these needed to go to good homes and get back in action, so I hosted a special tea party to play dress up and share fun family memories.
And share we did. We had a great time remembering my mother and what a wonderful woman she was, and enjoyed laughing over funny family adventures.
Maybe you have some family treasures that need to go to new homes. What cool holiday gifts they might make for some members of your family. Or maybe you'll want to have a party and play dress up. Sharing these fun goodies is a great way to make memories with those we love!