Fun Journal Ideas…And A Christmas Giveaway!

No Doubt About It, Life Can Get Busy!

dpan3466hIt’s a fact, no way around it, life just gets hectic at times…especially at this time of year!  However, it seems that fond memories add up the quickest at Christmas time.  Most certainly, we don’t feel like we have the time to sit down and record some of the neat, everyday occurences in our lives, and the camera is jam pack full of great pictures that we will get around to printing at some point!  These special times are also the ones that we might look back on and wish that we had taken the time to document them in some way, then they could be better shared with those we love!

A line from the preface of my dad’s journal is perhaps a subtle reminder for us to make a better effort at writing down some of the highlights in our lives: “As I have tried to look back into the past, I’ve been saddened to find that few records exist to help me know, appreciate or understand the lives of my forbearers.  The ups and downs, the activities, learning and rich experiences of their lives are gone, never to be recalled.” 

If you are at all like me, the process of regular, daily journaling seems a bit daunting–and sometimes simply impossible!  To help calm the anxiety I sometimes feel in trying to do better at keeping some of my memories alive for my children, and now my sweet grandchildren, I’ve adapted a habit that my mother was good at doing throughout her life.  Most often, my mom jotted little notes on a calendar she kept each year; along with daily appointments, which in and of itself can reveal some interesting things about a person.  My mom would write a little note on her calendar each day on how she felt going to various social events she attended with my dad, or fun ideas shared at get-togethers with her friends.  She would also describe in a work or two, her feelings after she participated in various functions with each of us as children.  I can recall one funny entry during dance recital time for me and my younger sister, where she notes that the costumes were due to be done for the rehearsal.  Mom wrote how glad she was that she’d hired someone to make the elaborate dance outfits. I had to chuckle when I read, “I am so glad I hired a SEAMSTRESS to make the costumes, less STRESS for me!”   As you can imagine, the culmination of these calendars have turned into a lifelong record of memories!   Her calendars weren’t fancy or expensive; they were usually ones my dad brought home from the local bank or hardware store.  The calendars were ones designed with big boxes for each day of the month, giving my mom plenty of room to jot down her obligations and make a few notes.

How Can We Start Our Own Unique Way of Journaling?

Rather than looking at “journaling” as a task or obligation, it can perhaps become a fun way to make good use of those extra few seconds we try to glean from each day.  Writing a line or two in some sort of journal or book may not only help us decompress a little from the “busy-ness” of our lives, it might very well prove to be a good reminder for us to really appreciate the day’s events, no matter how ordinary they might seem.  Everyday occurrences will soon accumulate into treasured reading in the future!

A Christmas Giveaway!

With these thoughts in mind, and in the spirit of giving with Christmas right around the corner, I am giving away two of my favorite booklets to help inspire you to start a new type of easy journaling in your life…or it may be that the giveaway will be the perfect thing to help inspire someone else that may be on your Christmas list!

Mom’s Five Second Memory Journal  (by Potter Style, Published by Rndom House)

Amazon.com_ Mom_s Five-Second Memory Journal (9780307719799)_ Potter Style_ Books

This journal is just FUN!  I came across this little booklet a few years ago, and since it approaches memories in a unique, random question format, it will be an ongoing process for years to come.  It has been hilarious for me, and indeed very insightful, to ponder the various questions asked and look back and recall some of the crazy times I’ve had while raising a family.  This journal also focuses on how you feel and encourages a “real” view of life in the trenches, so to speak!

The Extraordinary Women’s 2013 Monthly Desk Planner  (Published by Lang)

Extraordinary Women 2013 Monthly Planner from, 1012066

My daughter gave me one of these Lang monthly desk planners one year for Christmas.  It is still a favorite go-to for planning out my month.  In this day and age of abundant electronic planning links, I still love the art of writing things down and having it handy on my desk to glance at as I walk by to take the garbage out or stand nearby to fold a pile of laundry.  It’s a much fancier version of the type of calendar my mom used, but it still has large boxes for each day of the week and other unique places to write down reminders or jot a quick note.

Bottom line, these planners just make me smile with their quirky pictures and tribute quotes to womanhood; one example is for the month of August a few years back, there was a drawing of a pair of high heels with the quote, “Knowing summer would soon end…she danced until dawn!”  Reading that has got to make any month go better!

There are multiple ways to win!

  1. Leave a comment in this post and answer the question.  “What are some ways that you have found to help motivate you to keep a journal?”  Do you use a blog to keep your memories or do you jot down thoughts in a notebook that you keep in your purse?  Share your ideas with me!
  2. “Like” my Facebook page
  3. “Share” a link to my Facebook page on your timeline.

Entry Requirements:

  • Please leave a comment for each entry you make and let me know what you did.
  • Two random winners will be announced next Saturday evening, December 22, 2012 and contacted via email.

Can’t wait to see your responses.  This will be fun!!



Be Bright-Eyed And Bushy-Tailed–A Light Hearted Carpe Diem!

Be Bright-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed–A Lighthearted Carpe Diem!

Like most children, when I was younger, I hit the floor running early each morning with a boundless reservoir of energy.  What I didn’t fully appreciate at the time, was that my parents were usually up and dressed as well, preparing breakfast and making plans for the day.  I’d skip down the hallway after waking up, and as I rounded the doorway to the kitchen. my dad would spy me as he glanced over the rim of his glasses.  He would then clap his hands and shuffle his feet back and forth in a little two-step dance while saying, “You’re looking especially bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning!”  Sometimes he’d even take my mom by the waist and have her join in his jig.  As a child I never seemed to tire of that greeting and the silly giggles and hugs that followed!  It was also very influential in helping the creative juices of my youthful imagination flow more freely throughout the rest of my day!

As you can guess, this type of greeting wasn’t as endearing during my teenage years.  In fact, during that time I was a bit hesitant to ever let on that my parents could inspire any great productive ambition.  Still, my dad prevailed with his glad tidings most mornings!  Both my dad and mom were usually quite generous with other forms of support and encouragement during a typical day too.  My father’s antics weren’t necessarily ones that paid homage to the proverbial message of “Seize the Day”!  However, they did nurture the attitude that at the very least, I should embrace each day, accomplish a few meaningful things and even have some measure of fun while doing it!  

I may not amble out of bed nearly so spryly as in my youth, and the routine of my days can feel a little boggy at times.  However, the example my dad and mom set, combined with the unconditional love they extended to me through the years, continues to remind me that I truly do have some say as to how my day unfolds!  Looking back now, I realize more than ever before, that my parents seemed to make everyday life look really, really good!

As a young adult in college, I can remember coming home late some evenings after long days at school or work feeling somewhat forlorn.  My dad would often be sitting in his favorite wingback chair.  When I came through the door, he’d look up from reading the newspaper or a lesson manual he was reviewing in preparation for the university classes he taught.  He always offered a warm smile accompanied by a little wink and would ask why I wasn’t looking so “chipper”.  That kind of response could have sent me over the edge into full blown woefulness, but my dad always drew me in to share with him a highlight from my day, as well as any concerns.  If time allowed, we’d discuss the most pressing tasks at hand and the best ways to set about accomplishing them.  My dad was good to never downplay my worries, rather he’d try and help shed a different light on them, which in turn helped me put them in better perspective.  Sometimes at the end of our visits, he’d share with me what other family members were doing as well.

As much as my parents seemed to have an uncanny knack of knowing how to help their children navigate the concerns and worries of various aspects of their lives, they also seemed equally intuitive in knowing how to help all of us as family members be informed about each other’s responsibilities.  By so doing, we were made aware of their pressing concerns and could offer our help and support.  It’s a good rule of thumb, and indeed wise counsel, to learn to be more aware of others, then we can shift our focus from being fully centered on ourselves; that in and of itself, seems to make any day go better!

The inspiring words from my father’s history are again a kind reminder for me to appreciate all the “typical” and “everyday” things life has to offer!

“I have noticed that some people seem always to be looking for some spectacular job or opportunity–lucky number or whatnot–which will bring them great wealth or an exciting adventure; then they can relax on easy street for the rest of their lives–only concerned each day with what they can do that will be exciting and fun!  This attitude has had little appeal for me.  It seems so much of life’s pleasure comes from caring for the small and even mundane tasks.  Unless a person can learn to enjoy these, much of what life has to offer is lost.”

This same sentiment is uniquely echoed in the book, I Knew Their Hearts, another wonderful book I just read by Jeff Olsen.  In his book, the author shares the grueling process of recovering from a horrific car accident that took the lives of his wife and youngest son.  He describes how enduring multiple medical procedures and surgeries often proved to be almost too overwhelming at times.  He tells how he was once encouraged by one of his insightful caretakers, to go to a “peaceful place” during tests and blood draws.  This is how he describes one such scenerio:

“I immediately went home…it was a Saturday evening several years earlier when Spencer was only three or four years old.  He and I were sitting out on the deck enjoying lemonade and licorice whips.  I remember watching the sprinklers water the grass and listening to Tamara inside the house…I breathed deeply and forgot about the woman poking at my hands to find a good vein.  My thoughts remained on my deck at home.  Time stood still for me in that instant.  My heart was filled with the clear certainty that being on the deck there with my son was as good as life gets.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I could not hold back the warm feelings of joy and gratitude.  This perfect, happy place was nothing special.  It was found in the simple, everyday pleasure of being a husband and dad.”   If you are interested in learning more about Jeff Olsen and his new book, check out this interview of him online:

In the final chapter of my father’s history entitled, “Life Goes On  dad states:

“As I look into the faces of my grandchildren, each one healthy in body and mind, and note their enthusiasm for life, my sincere hope for each of them is that their lives can turn out for them as well as mine has for me.”

I’m so grateful that my children had the neat example of their grandparents, who seemed to make the choice so readily to really enjoy and learn from all of life’s experiences!

What I’m learning now is… 

I was fortunate to be blessed with parents who took a keen interest in my life, and yet they thoroughly enjoyed their own lives as well.  As parents it’s easy to feign disinterest in our children’s lives when they do not respond in the ways we think they should when we are so willing to expound on our “vast” knowledge of how to handle all of life’s experiences.  What I’m learning now is that regardless of the response, consistency in showing interest and concern for our children is the key to strong relationships and good bonds with them, hopefully making both our everyday lives all the more richer!

What “everyday” things make you excited to greet a new day?  










Here’s to hoping we can be happier with the usual routine of our lives!


A Patriotic Heart Amid Political Rhetoric…And An Anecdote To Live By!

A Patriotic Hear Amid Political Rhetoric…And An Anecdote To Live By!

A vivid memory I have of my youth is that my parents often expressed feelings of gratitude for being blessed with citizenship in this great land of America!  Perhaps because my dad and mom were just one generation removed from grandparents who had made the hard choice to leave the countries of their birth and seek better opportunities and freedoms in the United States, they always felt inspired to be good citizens.  I can recall overhearing bits and pieces of conversations between my parents, friends and relatives on occasion, when they wondered together if they would have had the courage to make the same decisions under similar circumstances.  To be sure, some spirited political discussions were enjoyed once in a while, my dad would often play the devil’s advocate to the passionate views expressed by one of my aunt’s about government leaders.  Their banter was done in good jest and never ended in anything but good-humored laughter!

My dad also related stories about how his feelings of being a good citizen and showing loyalty and patriotism for our nation started as early as grade school.   He said that much of what he knew about the founding of our country, our colonial forefather, the struggles of 1776, and the westward movement, all went back to that impressionable stage of his life.

He wrote these thoughts in his life history:

“…my patriotism was also strengthened by the positive expressions of my parents concerning our nation.  Our state and national leaders were spoken of far more frequently with respect and appreciation than with criticism and rejection.”

Another powerful influence in my dad and mom’s lives that perhaps seemed to have had the most impact on their allegiance to being discreet and loyal citizens, was the decision on the part of some of their family members to devote their efforts to giving service to our country in an official capacity.  These brave, young souls fought in far off lands to defend and preserve the rights and traditions we’re all privileged to enjoy as American citizens.

My father’s two brothers were both pilots in World War II.  His brother, Lloyd, was killed near the end of the war at age twenty two, when his plane apparently crashed into the side of a mountain during a rainstorm as occupation military personnel were being transported into Germany.  My mother’s two oldest brothers had lifetime careers serving in the United States Air Force.

Being Good Citizens in Today’s Political Climate

In our society today, with the amount of political rhetoric we hear, especially during election time; and with the onslaught of news from media pundits, it is surprising to me that anyone has the stamina to withstand the character dissection that running for office entails.  It behooves us then, to know our responsibilities for being good citizens and not let the political arena become our scapegoat for justifying the hardships we might feel in our daily lives.  If this is our mindset, it should prove to help us to not be complacent about working hard and being productive, problem solving people!

   May our patriotic hearts beat strong and proud!

An Anecdote to Live By

 My father had his own epiphany on how to be a good citizen and live a happy life!

“One day I met a friend who had been a judge for many years–his name was Zachary Champlin.  He had unusually rich experiences in working with people who had been involved in serious and tragic situations.  I shook his hand and said to him, ‘Judge Champlin, tell me one thing a person should do to have a happy life.’  Without hesitation he answered, ‘Stay out of jail.’  This brief reply had many ramifications in my mind.  Basically it means to be a proud, loyal, and patriotic citizen; to appreciate the great blessings we have to be born citizens of the United States of America.”             pic 47_edit_v2    

–as told by LeRoy Jorgensen

What I’m learning now is…

It goes without saying, that we should never underestimate the influence our example of being good citizens will have on our children!  We can study and learn more about how we can serve and contribute to our communities, then share this knowledge with our children. What I’m learning now is we can also strive to really appreciate the political process, even when some outcomes don’t reflect our desires.  In so doing, we can help our children truly respect the blessings that their citizenship provides!   

Have a discussion around the dinner table about how “electoral votes” vs. “popular votes” determine how a president is chosen!  Then share how it goes.

In honoring our parents and grandparents and the fine traditions of their generations, what can we do to inspire some degree of the same respect from our children and grandchildren?  

As our patriotic hearts lead our actions, may political issues be seen in a more positive light!


I’d also like to give a personal tribute to my youngest daughter, Mandi and her neat husband, Cole Gibbons.  I will never forget the day three years ago, shortly after they were married, when they left in their rented Penske truck to travel across country to New York City.  Mandi is realizing her dream of attending NYU and is working hard towards her PhD.  Cole is in his third year at NYU’s medical school.  They have embraced the city with great passion!  We have visited them many times over the last few years and have truly become enchanted with the brillance of New York City!  Although there was so much havoc and turmoil rendered by mother nature on the east coast, Mandi and Cole have remained optimistic despite going without water and electricity for several days.  Amid the devastation, they have been good to find small ways to do their part to help restore a city they have come to love so much!

        We are in awe, Mandi and Cole!  We love you!