Be Interesting…And Interested!

Be Interesting Yourself…And Interested in Others!

As I’ve mentioned before, my dad and mom worked hard to give me a wonderful upbringing!  In the chapter of his history entitled, “The Time for Marriage and Family”  my father expresses that he and my mom had a heartfelt determination to be…“equally committed that in all areas our children should have the opportunity for full personal development.”   It’s true, I grew up benefitting from a wide range of experiences and feel that my parents most definitely helped me become a more interesting and well rounded person as a result.  My parents also tried to instill in me good habits of being able to recognize and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of other people too.

I think most of us remember that defining turning point in our lives, where wise parents made us a little more aware of the fact that the world didn’t necessarily center around our every need?  (Imagine that!)

Peanuts comic stip-Lucy pyschiatric help!For me, it was one weekend evening when I was eleven or twelve years old. As I lounged in the middle of my parent’s big bed with pillows piled under my head and fuzzy purple slippers adorning my feet, I chattered away while watching my parents as they made final touches to their attire before leaving for a night of social commitments.  Much like Lucy, a character in the  “Peanuts” comic strip by Charles Shultz, I offered up my five cents worth of wisdom and lamented about the fact that their evening was sure to be less than eventful.  In the loftiness of my pre-adolescence, I’m quite certain that I wondered aloud how my dad and mom could possibly go and be charming with people who I was sure had to be very boring!    As my mom spritzed on her perfume and my dad smoothed the tie he had just knotted, my parents exchanged knowing glances.  When they turned to exit the bedroom, my father spoke in somewhat of an exasperated voice, one that seemed to mimic my own previously stated glibness to a degree. “Mary,” he said, “I hope you’ll soon learn that life becomes a better experience when you’re not too self-centered!”  

It’s always an ongoing process to live outside ourselves a bit, but my parents provided sublte examples of how it can be done in very gracious ways!

scan 43 editMy dad and mom were always quick to greet friends and associates they met with a smile and a handshake, and ask for quick updates on their lives.  My parents would often offer recognition for recent achievements and express sincere concern for any pressing worries the person might be facing at the time.  They always seemed to take to heart the advice wisely given in one of my favorite booklets, “Live and Learn and Pass It On”  by H. Jackson Brown. “I’ve learned that you can’t really expect your children to listen to your advice and ignore your example!”  

My friends always seemed to enjoy being at our home and often got a real kick out of my dad when he shared with them some of his favorite record albums as he played them on our oversized stereo console.  Eddy Arnold’s song “Green Green Grass of Home”  and  “Moon River” by Andy Williams, were among his favorite.  I think my friends were also quite impressed that my father took the time to listen to the teenage accolades of their many music interests too!  The back and forth banter that my father shared on many topics with my friends was sometimes a bit embarrassing for me, but I know it was his way of showing an interest in our lives!

Being Interested In Others Often Means Hanging Out The Welcome Sign 

You're welcome at our home!

My dad and mom often hosted extended family gatherings, as well as eclectic mixes of neighbors and friends where someone’s recent trip adventures were highlighted or community activities and service projects were organized.  In these seemingly simple ways, without much bravado, my parents showed that they were genuinely interested in others.  Showing interest and doing these types of activities together seemed to make it easier for everyone to offer support during more trying situations.

My husband has said that one of the things he loved most when he first met my dad and mom was that they greeted him warmly and made him feel especially welcome.  He noted that my parents were always quick to put aside whatever it was they were doing at the time, so they could sit down and visit with him and give him their undivided attention.  I know my husband and children, along with many others who shared the privilege of visiting with my parents, can vouch for the fact that this was their customary fashion for welcoming others into their home.  To this day, I have had some of my parent’s friends, and many of my own, tell me about the special memories they have of the kind interest they were shown by my dad and mom!

What I’m learning now is…

In his popular book “How To Win Friends And Influence People” acclaimed author, Dale Carnegie, outlined a good formula for making our lives more worthwhile: smiley-face

Principle 1:  Become genuinely interested in other people.

Principle 2:  SMILE!      

Principle 3:  Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Principle 4:  Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Principle 5:  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Principle 6 Make the other person feel important–and DO it sincerely.

In a nutshell, what I’m learning now is that my parents loved their family, and like most parents, they worked hard to provide opportunities to help each of us reach our individual potential.  In doing so, they also knew that we needed to extend our view of the world, so to speak, beyond the narrow scope of our own lives!  If ever there was a lesson that my parents tried to teach me, this is the one I wish I had been better at doing while they were still alive! 

Dr. Seuss quote

Please share ways that your parents have helped you know and love others better.



To Every Thing There Is A Season…Some Seasons Are Just More Preferred!

Ecclesiastes 3:1: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” is referencing the “seasons” of our lives; or perhaps for some of my generation, it cues memories of the song “Turn Turn Turn” by the Byrds–ahhh, good times!  But for the purpose of this journal entry, I’m referring to the seasons of the year.

Glimpsing out at my world lately…you’ll see a sort of Dr. Zhivago movie-type view, but without the intrigue and adventure…!



The air is murky and the cold chill seeps quickly into the layers of sweaters and coats worn.  Right now I dream of being here…


Where I grew up, winter, spring, summer and fall all seemed to hold their own special fascination; I never wished one away before the other arrived!  As we get older, I guess it’s human nature for us to sometimes think that our lives will be better enriched with the essence of another time and season that’s just around the corner!  As this winter lingers, I’ve tried to remember how my parents went about fostering their regard for mother nature’s personality fluxes!  Days spent playing outside in the snow always seemed to end happily with my mom’s warm hands rubbing my cold fingertips as numb toes were placed over blowing furnace vents.  To top things off, yummy homemade soup was often served for dinner.  Reading or homework was done later while sprawled out by the living room fireplace.  It seemed so magical then.  I’m sure I’m romancing the memory a bit, but it still serves as a good reminder to do a better job at appreciating the unique qualities of each season, and to try and do things that will help make them more enjoyable for others too…including the winter months–ugh, that’s a tough call right now!

There really is nothing like the warm “comfort foods” of the winter months.  More important is the special tradition of getting together around the dinner table.  It seems like this is harder to do after your children are grown, but it’s something that my husband and I try to do, and find it’s well worth the effort, especially after being out and about in the cold weather!

I hope this scrumptious family recipe of Hamburger Soup helps you enjoy a bowl together with family members or other loved ones!


1 pound hamburger and 1 cup chopped onion

Brown both together in a stove top skillet 

Put hamburger in large soup pot and add:

1 cup cubed potatoes  

1 cup sliced carrots  

1/2 cup diced celery  

1 cup shredded cabbage  

1 large can stewed tomatoes  

 Small bay leaf crushed  

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried basil 

2 tsp salt & 1 tsp pepper

Add 1-1/2 quarts water and simmer approximately 1-1/2 hours

Enjoy a warm bowl of soup and maybe a new perspective on the winter season! 

What I’m learning now is…

Winter really is over before we know it, as is every other season that comes and goes each year.  They all hold favorite aspects we enjoy about them, along with the more unpleasant ones that we don’t particularly look forward to as much.  Although it sounds cliche, what I’m learning now is that the quote on a plaque in my husband’s office states it the best…“Nothing is a waste of time, if you use the experience wisely.”

Share some unique activities you do to make the winter months more fun.

Hey, bring on the snow!


February 7, 2013:  Just thinking…and I bet you’ll agree, that a winter afternoon could be fun spent here with a cup of warm soup and a good book!



A Happy New Year–Redefined!

A Happy New Year–Redefined!

Hard to believe that it’s well into the first few weeks of the new year; hopefully it’s a happy one for everyone so far!  I decided to go in search of a more clever way to introduce a few thoughts and wishes for a Happy New Year, without making it feel too cumbersome with a lengthy list of lofty goals or typical outlines for a life changing overhaul!  Quite honestly, New Year’s resolutions make me feel a little bit grumpy.  I realize that says a lot more about my character than it does about this age old tradition.  Anyway, in an attempt to switch things up a bit, I decided to look up synonyms for each of the individual words that make up this familiar “Auld Lang Syne” message!  (I now have considerably more empathy for the seemingly daunting task of greeting card writers!)

      Here are my findings: 


In reviewing these definitions, I’d now like to wish you a “pleasurable, confident, satisfying, and fresh twelve months!”  Perhaps like me, you’ll want to revamp your New Year’s greeting and even set out to redefine the year ahead for yourself!

A Happy New Year Comes From Using Good Judgment!

I don’t necessarily recall that my parents were of the mindset of being committed to making New Year’s resolutions.  I mostly remember that they usually taught from the school of thought that life ought to be lived so that the general trend was that you tried to improve upon each day–making the next day better than the day before.  My dad was always good to apply this philosophy in his life.  His personal history reflects this train of thought quite often.

“…Merle and I try each day to use good judgment in all areas of our living.  This includes good food, exercise, rest and the other things which add up to wholesome and balanced lives.”

I get a kick out of the fact that my parents got a jump on the fitness craze and set up a treadmill and stationary exercise bike in their sun room long before it was customary to have them in most homes, like many do now.  They also enjoyed hot cereal for breakfast a few times each week.  “Mush” is something I’m still not too fond of to this day!  New Year’s resolutions aside, my dad was a big proponent of moderation in all things!   In keeping with his lifestyle habits, my dad usually encouraged seeking out a variety of experiences; the end goal being no more complicated than realizing that this usually provided the best opportunities to develop a well rounded personality.

Both my dad and mom had many interests, and when I was growing up, I observed how they cultivated them by being active participants in our neighborhood and community.  They enjoyed associations with a broad range of endearing friends and acquaintances as a result.  My parents tried to instill in me the ability to recognize and appreciate the many opportunities that were available to me, and if feasible, I should jump at the chance to enjoy them.  More importantly though, my dad and mom just wanted me to be aware of the fact that I was fortunate to have so many wonderful choices accessible to me.  Even now, when I take advantage of interesting and unique experiences, I’m able to grow and expand my horizons, so to speak!

What I’m learning now is…

When I tend my cute granddaughter, Makena, we often spend our days together either playing house and dress-ups, reading story books in a makeshift couch tent, or cutting and gluing odds and ends from my sewing kit to make cards for her dad and mom.  When it’s time for her to go home, Makena often hugs me good-bye and says, “This was the best day ever!”  What I’m learning now is that the years really do go by much faster than you ever imagine they will when you’re deep in the trenches of young parenthood!  I can hear the the resounding sighs and visualize the collective eye rolls of those of you who are thinking, “Oh no, here we go again, someone else reminiscing about days gone by!”  (Believe me, I felt the same way when I was younger.)  With this in mind, perhaps an ongoing aspiration for all of us would be to always try to truly enjoy the experiences we have each day that help us live our lives to the fullest–however we choose to define that!  To be sure, life will always be a balancing act; thank goodness we have a lifetime to work at it!!

bestdayeverpic 46_edit_v1

How would you like to define the new year?  What are some of the things you’d like to do in the next 365 days minus a couple of weeks? 

When country singer, Brad Paisley, was asked in this month’s Reader’s Digest to finish the sentence, “Tomorrow is…” He answered, “…the first blank page of a 365-page book.  Write a good one.”  I say we do our best to really enjoy this year and make a great story collection!