Beatitudes of my life

Being grateful for everything in my life…. no matter what…

The Challenge of Being a “Duck” April 21, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Cooking,Life Balance,Moving,Wine — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:29 pm
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There’s a quote that’s stuck with me over the past few years and the analogy has helped me a lot with this move:

“Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath”

– Jacob Morton BraudeDuck analogy

At no point in the past year has that been more true or more important than in the last month.  Moving, traveling, unpacking, continuing to work in a remote capacity, and staying positive throughout it all has truly tested my ability to behave like a duck.  Each turn has thrown things in my path that might have derailed me, had I allowed that to happen.  Staying focused on the positive aspect of each challenge has taken a conscious effort.  My “happy yellow lab” side has been pushed to its teary limits from time to time, but being able to take comfort in the firm belief that this move is our destiny has made all the difference.

Please allow me to share a few examples with you:

  • We were sent two amazing movers… a Marine (Irvin) and his aide (Billy) who walked with me all four days of our packing/moving.  The challenge came when their “reinforcements” arrived in the form of two guys, one of whom was both allergic to dust and cat hair. Both of these were especially plentiful in our bedroom, which was his only focus for a day and a half, so when the choice came between laughing and crying, I had to choose the former.
  • I had to resign from the most amazing job I’ve ever had and leave coworkers who were some of the most incredible, loving, and wonderful people in my life.  Rather than turning my resignation into a difficult and uncomfortable situation, they have continued to allow me to work from my MD apartment and allowed me the ability to help in the transition for my replacement.  While it’s a challenge to be so far from a business and people that are so dear to me, they’ve given me the gift of time… time to get used to not being on property… time to allow someone else to learn how to respond to event requests… time to cook and write, which I’ve come to love.  How many people can say that about a job?  How many people love their job so much that they’d rather do it for free (or nearly free) than not do it at all?  That, my friends, is how much I loved my job at the winery… yet, I know that it was time for me to move on to other challenges…
  • We chose to bring our two cats along on this journey to MD.  They’ve handled the situation as admirably as we could expect… especially since the only time either had ever been in the car was to go to the vet.  Thankfully, M took our girl-kitty, who voiced her frustrations during the entire trip while our boy-kitty chose to bravely travel without whining (much).  It’s taken a week in the apartment for them to calm down enough to sleep at night and not jump on our heads (apparently to make sure that we were still there) but things seem to be smoothing out for them.
  • Our apartment’s positioning in the building added so many challenges (which I’ve already mentioned in previous blog posts), but even that seems to be falling into some sort of a rhythm.  I’m slowly getting used to grabbing my cane to traverse around the building and the distance is thankfully becoming a little less daunting for me.  It’s the little things…
  • My Little Red Wagon… it rocks.
  • I’m learning to cook on an electric stove!  I’m not at all happy about it, but it’s a challenge and I’m learning how to adjust to make meals for us within the parameters of the items found within the apartment… and I’ll be even more grateful when we finally move into a place that has a gas stove, cuz we’re not going to buy a place that can’t be plumbed for gas.
  • I still have wine in the apartment… and I’m still cooking with wine… this makes me ridiculously happy!
  • After all the problems we experienced with the apartment complex during our check-in, our relocation guy just sent me an Amex gift card… won’t change the past, but certainly will give me something positive and happy to do tomorrow.  It’s all about perspective, people… focus on the positive.

See?  It really is all about how you view the situation.  We’re now deep in the “wait and see” mode with regards to the sale of our home in VA.  There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it but pray… and pray, I will.  It’s how I lived through our move from Michigan to Virginia in 2001 and it’s how I’ll live through this move from Virginia to Maryland.  It’s not my preference, but it’s how things must be done in this  time of uncertainty and chaos.  I’ll strive to face each day in true “duck” fashion, looking calm and collected, while fervently paddling/praying like a madwoman at every opportunity.

Shouldn’t we all strive to act like a duck from time to time?

 

 

Making Way for New Traditions April 20, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Holidays,Life Balance,Moving,Parenting — beatitudesofmylife @ 11:00 am
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Since our move last week, I’ve been thinking about “The way we’ve always done things” and how this will change in the coming year. As we celebrate Easter in our apartment this year, our tradition of sharing this holiday meal with dear friends is going to become a treasured memory. We had a “traditional menu” of spiral ham, scalloped potatoes, Mimi’s peas (a twist on green bean casserole), some sort of fresh vegetable, homemade rolls, and a special dessert made by my best friend, who happens to be an incredible chef. Easter dinner will definitely not be the same this year and, while I will miss the comfort of those dEasterEggear and special people, I have to take heart in knowing that this is part of our new/next path.

Change isn’t easy… it’s a shedding of the familiar and learning to embrace the different. It’s mourning those things you will miss while learning to enjoy those things you hadn’t yet contemplated. While I recognize the benefits that can come about by giving way to new traditions, it’s still a bumpy road to travel. GIving a simple wink-and-a-nod to all that has come before isn’t enough… but going into a full-on-mourning is too much. Where do we find that happy medium when it comes to change?

Our family has relied a great deal on tradition.  Creating new ones and resurrecting others has been a coping mechanism, especially when my boys were younger.  Some, I pray, will always remain important… primarily our Thanksgiving and Christmas menus… while others will either meld to fit our currently family dynamic or fall by the wayside entirely.  I loved hearing E ask if I was making sloppy joes and homemade rolls for Trick-or-Treating night,  “because that’s what you always make for Trick-or-Treating”.   Is “The way we’ve always done things” enough of a reason to keep a certain tradition alive or is there a deeper, cultural reason for maintaining the status quo?

During this time of transition, I’m doing a great deal of questioning the importance of individual family traditions.  I’m learning about my own expectations and those of my family… and finding where they intersect and where they veer off in totally different directions. It’s both difficult and refreshing.  Is it important to make that same Easter holiday meal for just the two of us or is there something specific that’s important enough to salvage and recreate?  Maybe we don’t need a spiral cut ham dinner to make our holiday complete… maybe I really *do* want some sort of special thing that reminds me of the Easters from my childhood.  I’ve chosen to get a simple pink  hard-boiled egg from the grocery store and make something out of that as my Easter touchstone for this year.  Nothing else will be the same (ok… we *do* have jelly beans in the house and M just brought me a few special Creme Eggs) but that’s going to be where our tradition will end today.

We’re making way for new traditions to become our anchor… stripping down all the old ways of celebrating of holidays and coming up with new things that are more us, more true, and more real.  Simply doing things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” isn’t as good an answer as it has been in the past.  It’s not going to be easy, but I believe that the end result will be a more true reflection on us and on our faith.  Traditions, I believe, aren’t meant to be chains that weigh us back to the past… they’re meant to be links that keep us connected to one another, generation to generation, in whatever way seems best to each family.

My hope is that our traditions become ones that my sons will carry into their adult lives… not as stagnant blueprints, but as ways to create traditions of their own, linking the future with the past.

Isn’t that what we all want from traditions?

Wishing you each a most blessed Easter… and in the traditional Episcopalian way, let me greet you with “The Lord is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”

 

My Little Red Wagon April 16, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Life Balance,Moving — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:24 am
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On my husband’s first official day of work, I began my own “day of work”.  After a weekend of trying to traverse the space between where we could park our car and the apartment in which we would be living for the coming weeks, I quickly realized that I needed some help of my own.

The reason?  Our new apartment *does* have an elevator, however there is no way to access it from a “fifth floor parking spot”.  This means that we have to park on the fourth (or any lower) floor, go into the building, take the elevator up a level, and then walk the 1/8 mile corridor (about 100 yards) to our individual apartment.  I watched M as we moved in, carrying items back and forth over the two+ hours it took to bring everything inside.  The weather was gorgeous and the apartment is spacious, but we had packed our cars to the gills (including 11 cases of wine) and we couldn’t figure out an easier or simpler way to move everything without something akin to a bellman’s cart.  NOTE: I found out on Monday that the leasing office has *one* cart for the building, but since we arrived after they had closed for the day, this wasn’t an option.

I also had a bit of a challenge to hurdle when we realized that the apartment had only given us one key fob (the electronic “key” used to enter the building or any of its amenities) and one gate remote (used to re-enter the building, if I drove off the property at any point in our stay).  This was going to have to be handled before I could take care of my “shopping challenge”.

The leasing office was helpful when they opened at 10AM – a key fob was given when asked and they “called to authorize” the gate remote (which took an hour) so I would be able to come and go as needed.  Now all I needed to do was come up with a way to carry things from the car to the apartment since any purchase that might require more than a single trip or anything that is relatively heavy (think a gallon of milk plus a bag of kitty litter) would require multiple trips between the apartment and my car.  I couldn’t go shopping during the day and then expect M to bring in my items on his way home, so I needed to be creative… I needed some sort of portable shopping cart.

My first thought was to use Google.  The items that first came up reminded me of an “old lady shopping cart” – the one wireshoppingcartpictured here is apparently available at Staples.  Wal-Mart had something similar, as did Crate and Barrel, so I gamely headed off to the local store to make my purchases and pick up my “old lady cart”.  I wasn’t happy with it, but the cost was reasonable so I headed out and started picking up all the items I needed (previously mentioned milk and kitty litter included).  All was going well until they told me that the wire cart wasn’t available… they had all been sold.  Color me crushed.  I had no idea where to look now.  I hadn’t actually seen that they carried them at Staples until today, so I asked the cashier for some guidance.  Her suggestion of checking at Target proved fruitless, but the idea of checking with the local Kmart was a winner.  After calling Kmart (and remaining on hold for 15 minutes while the guy in electronics waited on a customer in front of him), they located a “shopping cart” and offered to hold it for me until I got there.

I was thrilled.  I had been given a way to get my purchases from my car to my apartment without relying on anyone else.  This may seem like a little thing to others, but when you have difficulty walking, this is a monumental game-changer.  While the cart I found was almost triple the cost of the one I’d been eyeing earlier, the freedom it was going to afford me was worth every penny.   It heavier and bulkier than I’d wanted but it’s sturdy, with big/wide tires, and can carry up to 150 lbs.  It’s my very own Little Red Wagon and I love it.  LIttleRedWagon

As you can see, I was able to carry all my groceries and move-in staples (kitty litter, milk, cleaning supplies, chicken and meats, as well as veggies) in one trip from car to apartment.  What a gift!  It could have been a disastrous day of hauling bags after bags from one place to another, but this simple cart made my day so much brighter.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest impact.

NOTE: The relocation company with whom we’re working have been extremely responsive and helpful with regards to any and all concerns and frustrations throughout this move.  While the leasing office personnel are kind, they have been much more reactive than proactive, resulting in most of the challenges we’ve faced, IMHO.  It’s a journey… and I’ll continue to do my best to focus on the positive… this really *is* where we’re supposed to be… so I’ll focus on our blessings.  Hope you’ll do the same!

 

 

 

It’s a new day April 14, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Family,Life Balance — beatitudesofmylife @ 8:52 am
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As some of you may know, we recently relocated our family from RVA (Richmond, VA) to Maryland.  While I apologize for not blogging about this transition sooner, there were so many other things that needed my attention and my computer simply had to take a back seat to those more urgent requirements.   To go day-by-day from offer to move would be an effort in futility, since nothing can be changed by looking backward at mis-steps, so I will choose to look forward… as soon as I can move through the memories of our life in RVA.  BeltmanMovingTruck

We could not have found a more perfect place to raise our two boys into the men they have become, especially when looking at the people with whom we surrounded ourselves.  In the week of our actual move, we had people stopping by to offer fellowship, food, and best wishes on our upcoming travels.  Each visit, phone call, or email was a reminder that we made a good life for our family in Richmond.  While I’m sure I was remiss in the extent of my appreciation, it’s my fervent wish that each had some idea of just how deeply I was touched by their presence.

As the Beltman Moving truck (pictured) pulled away with all our belongings, headed for storage in Jessup, MD, it hit me… we were leaving the one place where our family had truly been created.  The boys went to Middle and High schools in this area… my husband built the bulk of his career here… my own career of wine, blogging, and sports photography was born here.  To simply toss all that away in a rushed move, and dismiss our life in Virginia, would be to extend an enormous disservice to those who allowed each one of us to grow into the people we are today.  Friends, neighbors, and even simple acquaintances share in the creation of each of us… both as individuals and as a family.  Struggles and triumphs were commiserated and celebrated in turn.  We couldn’t have become the people who stand before you this day without every single positive and negative situation, as they each combined to make us stronger, better, compassionate, and unique.  I will never be able to think on the life we created in Richmond, VA. without smiling and becoming a bit misty.  We have been blessed… and we know it.

But it’s a new day.

We are currently ensconced in a lovely apartment, just a few miles away from M’s new office.  Our house in VA will soon be on the market (with a first floor master bedroom) and we’re beginning our search for our next home somewhere in MD.  It’s a little daunting, but we are so grateful for this opportunity to be closer to family and for M to begin his next career phase.   I’ll do my best to be better about blogging in general – sharing the trials and tribulations of a move such as this will definitely be a challenge, but one to which we are looking forward.

My mantra, throughout the chaos of moving, has been to simply remember to breathe… so I think I’ll sit down and do that for a little while this morning before I try and tackle the world.  Breathe in… and breathe out… So simple, yet sometimes it’s the hardest thing to remember.

It’s a new day… Rejoice and be glad in it!

 

Giving Up For Lent? March 4, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Life Balance — beatitudesofmylife @ 9:35 pm
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It’s all over the place today…. the big question on everyone’s mind…. “what are *you* giving up for Lent?”   Is this really what we’re supposed to be doing during the 40 days of Lent?GivingUp4Lent

 

I always had trouble with the idea that giving up sweets or soda might make my Lenten experience more Holy.  Shutting down my Facebook page or Twitter account might make me realize just how dependent I’ve become on technology, but is there going to be a big “aha” moment when I recognize how much I love staying in touch with the world around me with these computer programs?  While I might end up with the benefit of losing a few unwanted pounds or learn how to make it past the bakery department of my local market without buying a cookie, it isn’t something that will ultimately benefit my soul or help me get any closer to Christ.  Isn’t that the true purpose of doing something for 40 days in a row?  What could I “give up” that would turn Lent into an important time in my life… is it really about giving something up?

 

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I heard something that made so much more sense.   My priest mentioned that he never liked the idea of having to “give up” something… he preferred the plan to “add” something to his life that might bring him closer to his God.  Typically, he set aside a specified time of the day and would read particular passages of the Bible and contemplate how they might relate to or be incorporated into his life.  I loved this idea.  Finally… something that made sense to me.  I didn’t have to follow along with the rest of society and decide what I was going to “give up” for Lent… I could make the conscious decision to add something to my daily life that would ultimately bring me closer to my God… learn more of His word… do more of His work… act more as He might…  I could do that.   I could strive to make my Lenten experience one of spiritual revival, rather than earthly deprivation.FastGivePrayLent

 

Consider this alternative to the tradition of Giving Up something for Lent.  Come up with a way to remind yourself, daily, to commune with God in some way.  The specifics of “how” don’t need to be shared with anyone else.  Maybe you’ll set a phone app to send you a Bible verse each day.  Maybe you’ll use the reminder function on your FitBit (or what have you) to remind you to say a prayer at a specific time.  Maybe you’ll be able to push aside all the distractions of the modern world on your own (although I know I’ll be setting my FitBit, because the world is just too “shiny”) and read a Bible chapter or passage each morning/evening.  Whatever works for you, I challenge you to add something to your own Lenten experience this year.

 

I promise you that it will be worth the journey…

 

Because I’m Happy… February 20, 2014

Filed under: Blessings,Life Balance,Random Thoughts — beatitudesofmylife @ 4:02 pm
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Wow… has this song by Pharrell Williams resonated with me recently.  I love the tune, love the lyrics, love the sentiment, and just can’t stop playing this song.  It feels as if it’s my mantra, and honestly, how bad can things be if “happy” is your mantra?

Have you heard this song yet?  If not, here’s the YouTube video of it.  Just click on it and take a few minutes to let the tune sink into your bones.  Let the upbeat tone and smiles of everyone shown just flow over you.  It’s really worth those few minutes… I’ll wait…

Oh, and here’s the Richmond RVA-version of that same video… we just love Richmond and want everyone else to love it too!

Now, did you catch all the words?  If not, here they are, in all their glory:

It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way

[Hook:]
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

[Verse 2:]
Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time
Here’s why

[Hook]

Hey, come on

[Bridge:]
(happy)
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
I said (let me tell you now)
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
My level’s too high
Bring me down
Can’t nothing bring me down
I said

[Hook 2x]

Hey, come on

(happy)
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down… my level’s too high…
Bring me down… can’t nothing…
Bring me down, I said (let me tell you now)

Amazing, right?  I could easily listen to this song for days and not get tired of it.  It gets my head bopping, my feet tapping, and I have a hard time sitting still.  I turn the radio up when it comes on just so I can try and drown out the artist and get every word right (which, of course, never happens, but I keep trying anyway).  It’s such an upbeat, fun song that I love it.

HappyPlate

There’s so much un-happiness in this world today that I just have to focus on the positive and do my best to be “happy”.  My husband lovingly calls me a “happy yellow lab”.  No, he’s not calling me a dog… he’s recognizing that my outlook focuses on the fun/happy/positive parts of life rather than sinking into the negative.  My college roommate once gave me a platter with the word “Happy” on it because she said that it just seemed like me.  I had to include a photo of it here: Isn’t it just something that would make you smile every time you used it?  I was really touched that she felt that way about me… and took it as pretty high praise.

Being a happy person doesn’t mean that you don’t have bad days or let things get you down… being happy just simply means, to me, that you make a very concerted effort not to “sweat the small stuff”.   Life can hand you lots of different challenges, but to focus on the happier side of life can sometimes make those challenges easier to face.  You don’t have to allow the negative side of life to take over… just do your best to look on the brighter side of things.   It may sound pithy, but try it sometime… you may just surprise yourself and have a better day than you expected!

 

Random Acts of Kindness – a Challenge for all February 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — beatitudesofmylife @ 7:53 am

beatitudesofmylife:

It’s Valentine’s Day…. Why not make an effort to spread some random kindness throughout your corner of the world… You might be surprised by the reactions you get. Happy Valentines Day to one and all…

Originally posted on Beatitudes of my life:

One of my favorite things in the world is seeing the look on someone’s face when something kind is done for them… with no expectation of anything in return.  It’s the way a harried mom looks when you return her grocery cart for her… it’s the smile that lights up someone’s eyes when you compliment them… it’s the happiness that registers, after the shock wears off, that someone has just done something purely for kindness’ sake.  It’s just so soul-uplifting.

I know there are many who actually make money suggesting ways for people to participate in Random Acts of Kindness.  There’s an official website (www.randomactsofkindness.org) and a group (ROAK.group) as well as countless links to help everyone be more kind to our fellow man.  I’d like to suggest a way for everyone to get in on the act this year.

It doesn’t take a lot of money… it doesn’t take…

View original 870 more words

 

 
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