Mar 15

At Peace and Rest ~ Day 74 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for a place a found many years ago where I could go and collect my thoughts where it’s quiet and peaceful and now I can go there and also visit my Grandmother’s final resting place.

This place is Worcester County Memorial Park in Paxton, Massachusetts.  It’s peaceful as it’s a cemetery, but more than that the statues there are just incredible and moving.  There are places to sit and little gardens and each season of the year is beautiful, but for me during the Spring when the flowers are blooming and the birds are signing it’s just so inspiring to be there.  There are statues of Jesus and the disciples and the massive praying hands on top of the 10 commandments and then there are statues for the veterans and the branches of the service.  To wander around the roadways and just take the time to think and be and pray for the families of the ones who’s loved ones are buried there is a way for me to feel connected to One who is always with me.   I’ve been going there for years and I rarely go with anyone so that I can have some time to myself when I am feeling overwhelmed or just need some space and to shut the world out.

My Gramma Estelle has been gone now for almost 3 years and she is buried there under this large oak tree and it’s so pretty and comforting to know she is walking there with me in spirit.  I can remember all the times we spent together over the years and the phone calls we would share a minimum of once a month.  She was my lifeline sometimes on days I needed a good laugh, some gossip, to reminisce about my Grandpa, to hear someone tell me how beautiful and handsome my children are and how proud she was of them and me.  She never forgot to say those things before we hung up.  She never forgot to tell me how much she loved hearing from me.  I miss hearing her voice, but I know she is always near to me whether I go to the Memorial Park or not.

I am grateful for such beauty in a resting place that brings peace to loved ones that have gone before us.  I am grateful for a place to wander and behold the work of some very gifted artists in a place that brings comfort to those that need it and those that are seeking it.

Worcester County Memorial Park

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Mar 14

Making Memories ~ Day 73 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for special occasions and making moments that last a lifetime.   The day may come and go, but the memories live forever with the stories we tell and the photos we capture and the feelings stored in our hearts.

This day was special as we were celebrating two milestone birthdays for our “middle” children.  Sarah and Elijah were turning 18 and 16 and no, Elijah is NOT the oldest.  Poor Sarah always was handed the kids menus in restaurants or assumed she was the younger when we were out and of course Eli always ate that up.  He has been a good big brother, but never judge a book by it’s size right?   We only celebrate big/milestone birthdays with extended family and this day we got to share a double dose with both of them.  Extra cake for everyone!  These two, who are step-siblings, are close and you would never know that unless you asked.  I have so many photos of them together it’s amazing when I look back.  They are blessed to have that closeness as it’s not always that way when you merge families together.  I have always felt so fortunate.

When we are all together is always tons of laughs, stories, and watching a movie I have made with the still pictures of the kids through the years.  This year was no different.  I try to write them letters for each milestone in their lives, but this time I made them a photo video set to music because the pictures would bring so many memories back.  Some pictures brought ooooo’s and then aahhhhh’s and then outbursts of laughter and watching people’s expressions and hearing them say “I remember that” or “they are so cute” or “look at them together” was better than when I sat for hours making it.  I remembered lots of moments and some would make me smile or laugh or cry because they were all grown up and I wondered how I got to here with them.  I am always a lucky Mom.

This photo is at the end of the birthday bash and my next door neighbor wanted to be sure to capture some together shots on film and here we are with Dom and Carol and my nephew Mitch.  We are missing my daughter Britt and our other adopted daughter Stephanie as she was back in Germany (exchange student for clarification).  But knowing that we got to share such a milestone with Dom was a great gift too.  This is why I am so grateful we have photos to bring back the memories to the surface of our heart.

I am thankful we have family to share amazing moments with in our lives.  This month we are approaching another milestone birthday for Sarah ~ 21 and we are all excited to get together and share that special time with her.   Making memories that will last a lifetime.

 

Making Memories 2012

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Mar 13

Believe in You! ~ Day 72 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for people I am surrounded by and parents that taught me I can be anything and overcome anything I set my mind to.  They believe in me so I believe in me.

We all have ups and downs. We all have fears, anxiety and things that just make us feel like maybe we can’t do this or that ~ stop that negative self talk. You can do it. You can achieve it. You can reach that goal, open that door, land that job, start that business and conquer your world. You have the power inside of you and don’t let anyone tell you different, including yourself.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You have to take baby steps sometimes to get from point A to point B, but each time you take a step it’s a positive one in the right direction ~ forward.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You are the only one holding you back. Oh we tell ourselves it’s this person or that obstacle, but sometimes those are really just excuses because we are afraid to fail. Failure is really a success, as again, you are stepping in the right direction and we may stumble before we walk or run.  Keep going because the light at the end of the tunnel is your dream.  There are people in your life that are cheering you on just as you jump for joy for others.  Remember those things when you want to give up.  Believe.  Achieve.

I have panic disorder. There was a point in my teens where I couldn’t even leave the house, but thanks to the encouragement of my Dad and others in my circle I overcame that.  I do things today that I would never have imagined I could do. I still have panic attacks, but I have learned how to better deal with them. Most people would never guess that about me. I believe in myself, therefore I am conquer my fears and my world. I can do whatever I set out to accomplish and I won’t let panic stop me or define me.

You are amazing. You are beautiful. You are incredible. You are a gift. You are everything to someone. Believe in you.

Believe in Yourself

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Mar 12

Who cares what others think?! ~ Day 70 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for a friendship that encouraged one another to make their own path and tune out the noise, forge ahead and have an amazing ride while doing it.

This picture feels like a lifetime ago, yet it’s only been a few years.  This was the 1st year we had the Country Picnic on the Common and Elijah and Brianna aka Boss and Bossy decided to paint their faces together and this was the result.  I don’t know about you, but how many other teenage boys do you know would paint a flower on their face and walk around that way most of the day?  A bee and a flower ~ how cute is that?   I more loved the fact that they were good friends and that friendship held solid ground for many years and they helped one another grow and make good decisions.   They didn’t care what others thought of them.  They didn’t give in to the pressure of today’s teen environment.  They respected boundaries, treated peers with care and concern, stood up for the ones that could not, volunteered even when they didn’t want to and were always leaders.  They stepped outside the box and said “hey, it’s my life and I’m going to live it the way I want” and I was always so proud of them.  There are so many great stories around these two that my heart always smiles when I think of Bri and of Eli.

I am thankful these two went through school and graduated together.  I am thankful that Brianna knows she can count on me when she needs to.  I am grateful for her gift of friendship along with Kristen her mother.  We now have Yip and Yap aka Jamisyn and Zach going through school together and they too march to the beat of their own drum and are good friends.  I feel very lucky to know my sons have amazing friend relationships with these girls.  I feel like I could write so many thoughts that are in my head about these kids and their remarkable ways, but instead I will leave you with these thoughts….

Pictures really are worth a thousand words and these smiles speak volumes.   Be yourself.  Set your own path ablaze and don’t ever look back.  You are worth it.  That’s what this picture says to me.

I love them both to the moon and back!

 

Boss and Bossy

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Mar 11

Peace, Quiet Moments, Solitude ~ Day 71 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for beautiful places to go that are nearby to unplug, slow down the pace of life, be quiet and just listen.

If you’re not from around these parts, this is the fountain at Wachusett Mountain.  I love that the sun was shining just right a couple of Fall seasons ago and I captured a rainbow in the fountain mist.  This is the most peaceful place to sit and look at the foliage and listen to the calming sound of the spray hitting the water.  It’s relaxing and even though there is sound, it’s a quiet moment.  I’ve been a few times and there were hardly any people there and it was just a nice place to reflect, sit still, unplug from my world and let my mind roam free.  No phone calls, no one calling  my name, nothing to take care of, no one to talk to and best of all a brief moment in time to call my own.

We don’t take the time to stop the noise often enough.  We are so busy living that we forget it’s a life.  We spend too much time with electronics and not enough time with a face to face exchange.  We forget to do things for ourselves in order to recharge, be ready and rested.   Stopping to take a breath and notice the little things is good for the mind and the soul.

I am thankful we have many local places to go that offer some solitude for us to unwind, unplug, shut off the noise and be in the moment.

Quiet Moments

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Mar 10

They don’t stay little forever ~ Day 69 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for my little brood who we affectionately call the “Bundy Gang”. These three, however, are the youngest of the yours, mine and ours.  This was a weekend vacation we took at the Cape and they had the BEST time in the suite hanging around, eating snacks, filling up the jacuzzi and just being lazy.  We did some sightseeing, but it was just an escape to be together away from the hectic life we had at home.  After all….

Note to self, they don’t stay little forever so:

Who cares about the dust or dirty dishes ~ play a game together

Leave the laundry for another day ~ go to the park and push them on the swing

There is no such thing as the “bed making police” ~ have breakfast with them (and then take a nap)

You really can live out of a clothes basket ~ read them a story

They don’t care if your hair is messy or you have no make up ~ go for a walk with them

That phone call can go to voice mail ~ color with them

The floors, the vacuuming, the scrubbing can wait ~ build an indoor fort

Time doesn’t stand still while you catch up with all the tasks you think are a priority.  The birthdays don’t wait for you to have everything done before those candles are blown out.  They grow up, they find their way, they become independent and you don’t want to be running to keep up or looking back wondering why and how they got to be adults.  I didn’t always prioritize right, we are human so these are lessons I have learned and some of them the hard way.  I am grateful they are all wonderful, smart, witty, charming, living their dream children.  I am proud of who they are even while I was running to catch up.

They are only little once.  They only have one first.  They only have one last.  Be there.  Live in as many moments as you can with your little ones because those other little things really can wait.

Cape Cod 2002

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Mar 09

Love is all we need ~ Day 68 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for friends that love me for me exactly as I am with the good, the bad and the ugly and I can have some UGLY days.  Love comes from a place of acceptance and not judgement.  Love comes from a place of trust, honesty, patience and kindness.  Love comes from knowing someone and all their crazy and wanting to hang out with them anyway as they bring out that special kind of crazy in you too.  Love is accepting people right where there and for who they are not wanting to change that.

I am grateful I have friends that know me and stand for me. I am grateful I can call and vent, cry, reason things out and express myself in my own way.  I am grateful I have friends that aren’t afraid to share their thoughts, feelings and sentiments about any subject and even if we don’t agree, we are still friends. I am grateful for friends that are brutally honest, never mince words and tell me things just the way it is even if it may not be something I want to hear.

I am grateful for friends that call me when they think I need a wake up call (like a slap upside the head kind of call) or just to ask if I am alright. I am grateful for friends I can bounce crazy ideas off of or to ask questions when I need some help with a project or just understanding something. I don’t have many friends, but that’s alright with me because the ones I do have are the ones I would go out on a limb for, walk through fire for and catch them if they were falling.

I said to myself there needs to be a bigger word for grateful when it comes to my friends being in my corner and having my back, and there is a word… It’s love.

Love is all we need

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Mar 08

Maine, what a beautiful way of life ~ Day 67 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for friends that I’ve connected with online and made time to meet them offline. It was 3 years ago this month that my husband and I traveled to Portland, ME to stay at the Pomegranate Inn for a weekend to visit my friend Dana “Torch” Moos who I meet through other friends on Facebook. I really wanted to meet face to face as she is a foodie who wrote the book The Art of Breakfast, she sells Bed & Breakfasts/Inns and has owned and operated more than one AND she is a photographer. I don’t know how she does it all, but she is simply amazing. It was a treat to be able to spend time with her and at the Inn and do a bit of sightseeing.

The Inn is a mix of elegance, whimsical, eclectic and soooo artsy. Each room has it’s own theme and there is always something catching to the eye. The whole Inn made me smile constantly. I loved to sit in this area that had a library, but lots of windows and comfy couch and chairs to read or just sit and think. The breakfasts that Dana prepared were nothing short of heaven on a plate and in the afternoon there were cookies and tea or coffee in the gathering room. I liked meeting the other guests that were there from all over the place. Fun, relaxing and special are the words that instantly come to mind. Our room had a sitting room and a fireplace and a bath and all of it was like stepping back into the Victorian era, but always with a twist. I was in awe of the details and the warmth. When we arrived there was a plate of home made chocolates, cheese and crackers that Dana had written in chocolate around the edge, Welcome Diane and Alan. Yum and Wow!

The day we checked out we decided to go for a ride around the area and up to Portland Head Light. It was chilly, but so beautiful. The ocean is always so calming and the sun was shining and it was just the perfect day for an adventure. I set my camera on a rock and this is the best photo we got after several attempts, which I saved to have a laugh at when I browse photos. I had the best time as I don’t travel often and I’m so happy to have met Dana and to spend that short time with her.

I am always thankful for social media as I am one to not just sit behind my computer to be connected, I like to meet my online friends in person. I have met many, but Dana is one I’ve met that I have traveled the furthest to see. Thanks Dana for the visit and for the friendship we have and I hope we can meet up again soon! Miss you!

Portland Maine Vacation

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Mar 07

Fire pits, Adventures and Imaginations ~ Day 66 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for our fire pit and the adventures and fun we have during the summer sitting around and telling stories, cooking food and roasting marshmallows. Zach and Mitch are old enough now to start their own fire and burn up all the wood we chop for out there. They do have to drag branches to help begin, but it’s worth it for them. They spend hours outside at our house traipsing through the woods and having their fireside time and just enjoying themselves together feeling grown up. It’s fun to have them goofing around at our house and using their imagination to make a bow and arrow out of sticks and twine and being Paul Bunyan knocking over trees or just pretending pretending to be wildlife explorers.

Our fire pit is buried still under several feet of snow and I can’t wait for it to see the light of day once again. I am becoming more anxious for the sun and warmer days. I love the Spring when we can do yard cleanup and be outside after what seems like an eternity indoors. I am excited about my new flower beds that we built in the Fall and what I will do with them this year. I am excited that we will be able to spend time in our yard as last year it was raining and it took most of the season to landscape.

I am grateful I have a yard to be outdoors in, a place to cut our own wood to heat each season (and a husband that works really hard at that) and a place for the kids to play and have amazing adventures. Someday I will have a barn and a fenced in area for my farm animals and a garden to live off of fresh produce all summer long … but, that’s a story for another time.

Summer at the Brooks House

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Mar 06

Those Football Days of Fall ~ Day 65 of 365 Grateful

Today I am grateful for being a football Mom. I won’t say it was easy because it began August and didn’t end until December if they made the playoffs and Superbowl.  Here in Warrior Nation, football is a way of life.  We live for those Friday nights under the lights.  I never thought I would ever be a sports mom, but I have to say I loved seeing my #67 come out onto that field each season.  He was the LAST person I ever thought would play football and he came home one day and just said, I’m gonna play and that was that.  (I have a little #87 too, but he is not going to play for the high school so I am glad I made the best of the years I had).

The first year was hard, but that boy stuck it out as he made a commitment and he was going to honor that.  It was hard seeing him come home all beat up and tired, but I was so proud of him.  I can’t say I made it to all the games his Freshman year, but I and my car made it to every pick up and drop off for practice, game, spaghetti dinner, and anything else that was required of that boy for that team and I worked the snack shack which was a blast.   The following 3 years I didn’t miss a thing and I am so thankful I made that time a priority because you only get to live it once.  I worked the shack until his Junior year and his Senior year I wanted to see him play every game.

Football changed him. He gained confidence in himself and in his abilities.  He learned how to be a part of a team.  He learned about sacrifice and honor.  He learned about respect and responsibility.  He became a leader and a mentor and that was so much more important that wins and losses for me anyway.  I am proud of all he accomplished and the way he carried himself and lifted up others.  He lived it, he took it to heart and he left everything he had on the field, off the field and with his team mates.   It really is true that when you mess with one, you mess with them all.  They have your back and they won’t back down.

I didn’t go to one game last season as I felt like I couldn’t as he wasn’t there. Emotionally I left all had on the field that last 4 years.  I went to all of my little #87′s games and that was so much fun to watch him grow and learn too.  He improved so much in just one year and when he took to the field, he had more confidence than I had ever seen.  He too learned how to make a commitment and stick to it for himself and his team.

I don’t miss the dirty, smelly boy, car or uniform to be washed, but I so miss seeing that number, hearing him excitedly tell me the practice stories and seeing the look on his face when he made a play or they won a game.  I miss when we would turn to the stars and stripes and watch him with pride and butterflies while signing the National Anthem.  I am thankful I stuck it out and became more of a football mom and for all the time I got to spend with my #67… the Boss.

Football Days

I cannot hear this song without getting teary eyed and emotional as it says so much about what football is really about.

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