Thank you letters: Thank you, Grandma

Image from pixabay.com

With thoughts of my dad dying in my head, I keep returning to think of my maternal grandmother.  She was the only grandmother i was able to ever get to really know.  Her husband, my grandpa, died when my mom was 17.

My paternal grandparents died back in the early and late 1980s.  I wish I had known my paternal grandpa better – he seemed like a really cool guy, but unfortunately they also lived in Portland, Oregon, so we didn’t get to see them much.  My paternal grandmother was definitely not the touchy-feely type of grandma, even when she moved closer to my dad after Grandpa died.  I always felt like I was visiting a distant great aunt when I would see her.  So when I tell someone about my grandma, it’s my mom’s mom I’m talking about.

If you have someone in your life that you love even 1/16th of how much I loved my grandma, I hope you can write a letter to them today and make sure that they read it., or that you read it to them.  Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.  So, here goes …

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Dear Grandma,

I want to thank you for loving me.  For making me feel so special, even from the very beginning.  I remember you telling me one time, “It was always you and me.  Your mom had your sister by the hand and was holding Jamie, so I would pick you up and carry me. You never wanted to walk when you could be held. So I would hold you.”

Thank you for always tucking me in, even when I was a teenager, when I would sleep over at your house.  I remember you would tell me to move toward the center of the bed  so that I wouldn’t fall out of it.  You would tuck the blankets in so tightly, I felt like a caterpillar in a cocoon. That was always the way you were – wanting to keep me and my brother and sister from getting hurt.

Thank you for having taught me to appreciate the beauty of a sunset.  I remember all those times that you would yell out, “Children, hurry come!! Hurry before you miss it!”  And we would run to where you stood, looking out your kitchen window at the beautiful colors in the sky.  Your eyes used to light up so bright.  It’s because of you that I love seeing and smelling bright, colorful flowers and to enjoy the sound of birds chirping.

Thank you for always having that grape Hubba Bubba gum we always liked in your “snack dishwasher” that never worked as long as I could remember.   Thank you for introducing me to the wonderful idea for a snack of icing on crackers.  Saltine or Ritz, either one was awesome.

Thank you for teaching me to always be prepared and have some food staples on hand.  I remember your Reserve Food Cabinet being next to the actively used food cabinet.  It taught me to never take food for granted.  I know now why you sometimes ate ramen noodles in tomato soup.   It wasn’t that you loved it.  You just scrimped and saved to ensure we never needed for anything that you could provide.

Thank you for always being such a good sport and putting up with my trash talking your Yankees when I was in Boston and became a Red Sox fan.  I remember you used to just laugh and laugh on the phone.  God, you put up with a lot! 🙂

Thank you for always being there for my mom and for all of us, especially when times were tough, financially and personally.  You left your family behind in Pennsylvania to move to upstate New York to be with us when you could have easily decided not to.   Thank you for taking care of my mom when you died, leaving her your house and the security it would provide.

Thank you for having helped shape me into the strong woman I am or try to be, anyway, today.  Thank you for always having had that Serenity Prayer on the wall in the kitchen, right next to where we would eat.   Those are words I try to remind myself of today when something upsets me – to know the times when something is truly out of my control so that I stop letting it upset me.

I want to thank you for opening your eyes at the end and looking right at me.  I remember the tear that fell down your cheek, and I knew you were truly there with me in that moment. I knew you didn’t want to leave me or any of us, but I know you needed to.  That’s why I told you “If you have to go, you just go.”  I knew you understood what I was saying, and not saying.  Thank you for that last gift of special understanding between us.  I always felt like we had this amazingly strong bond.  We did, didn’t we?

Grandma, I know that some people don’t believe in guardian angels, and if they do exist, that they’re not family members who have gone before you.  But I feel like you’re mine.  I know you watch out for me.  How else can anyone explain the feeling of a hand on my back when I was out for a run once and said aloud, “I think I need a little help.”

I know you visited me in a dream not too long after you died, to give me the message that you were okay.  You were in good health. I know it was an actual visit and not just a dream.  Otherwise, how could I have felt the way I did when I woke up, and how I feel remembering that, even now?

Thank you for loving me.  You made me feel so special.  I truly feel that you were my soulmate, and so I know we’ll be together again at one point.  Until then, you are always in my heart.  I love you.

Terri

 

 

ABQ Crud, you need to leave town. Like, now.

germ-303979_640.pngThere is no better way to describe how I have felt the last couple days other than to use the term, “crud.”  Seriously, this crap has been going around ABQ now for the past few months and especially around my animal hospital.  We get very few sick days per year, so as a result, people come in when they are feeling less than their best.  With my department, we are constantly shifting around from one computer to another, so the passage of germs is pretty rampant, no matter how clean and antiseptic we try to keep the place.

It’s just getting annoying.  I have been sick now at least twice this winter, and it’s only January.  I never used to get sick like this, even at Harvard where we shared the computers at the reference desk.  I don’t know what it is.  And this cold has been weird.  It started in my chest, unlike the normal route which is via the head, wanting me to shoot my head off from the pressure, the draining of the nose back and forth all night, leading to no sleep, and then that oh so sexy voice you get when the frog lands in your throat. No, this one started with the cough, which I am sorry to say, is still here with me as we speak.  But yesterday, the nose started running like, yes, a faucet, if I may use a cliche.  Consequently, my sleep last night was less than stellar.  I had to keep turning from side to side so I could breathe.

On Sunday, I asked two of our intern doctors if I sounded sexy, and they said I sounded like my male co-worker from whom I got this lovely bug.  I’m positive I sounded sexy as hell on the PA system.  I only lasted 6 hours of my shift, and then threw in the towel.  Enough was enough.  I drove home in a daze until i got to CVS where I could buy sore throat spray, Ricola throat drops, and some awesome Mucinex DM.  (Seriously, Mucinex is the BOMB!)

I’ve been getting a lot of sleep, coughing up a bunch of yellow/green stuff (appetizing, isn’t it?) and trying to not make my nose sting when I apply moisturizer to my face.  (You all know what your nose feels like when you’ve used about half a box of tissues w/lotion on them on it, right?)  And trying to not think about the fact that I will be using a precious vacation day for one of these days I have spent at home.

So yeah, um, if this crud that has taken up residence in ABQ this past winter, could just go on a vacation, that would be great, okay? Thanks.   It’s hard to think about achieving your dreams when all you want is for the wheezing in your chest to stop.

Thankfully, I have my Snuggles next to me at night, snoring away, his head sharing the same pillow with me. (We’re so cute when we cuddle like that, it’s ridiculous.  If you don’t believe me, ask my roommate.)  For those of you who are new to the blog, check out my page, The Herd, and you’ll see a pic of him there.  Because he’s the newest member, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom.  (And since there’s no other way to categorize this post, I think I’ll lump it under “Gratitude” because I’ve been able to snuggle next to him a lot these past few days.)

Here’s hoping that all of you out there don’t get sick this winter, and if you do, that it doesn’t last long. Take lots of cold–eeze once you feel it coming on, that’s my advice.  And Mucinex, even if it’s just a little sniffle. (Don’t worry, the store brand of Mucinex works just as well.)

Do any of  you have some sure-fire ways to fight colds when you feel them coming on? If so, share them below!  We can all learn something from each other!

As always, thanks for reading.

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If you need to shop online, I’d greatly appreciate it if you use my Amazon affiliate links or Ebates referral link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so. Thank you!

 

 

The Little Things: A Matter of Perspective

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This photo reminds me of the West Coast and the ocean, which I’ve begun to increasingly miss more and more (image from pixabay.com).  Also, it’s a matter of perspective – these monoliths can also extend downward into the water for hundreds of feet!

Woohoo! I’m done with my first semester of the Masters in Humane Education program I started this past fall!  It’s been a while since I’ve taken classes in something I feel passionate about, and it makes all the difference. We had what we call our “Capstone” salons this weekend for each of my classes, where we meet with the professor and other students via zoom and share projects.  In one of my capstones, I got some great ideas for how to develop my blog!!  I really want this blog to also become an educational tool, not just me simply blathering on about my life. 🙂  (Although there will still be some of that, lol.)  It was so cool to see people you’ve been in contact with on Blackboard but never seen their face!

So last night it was so relaxing – I sat there and was reading Dude Making a Difference, by Rob Greenfield.  I love this book so much that I’ve already put it on my Helpful Books page.  He has some great pearls of wisdom in it and he makes me desire to be a better person.  One of my favorite quotes is on page.156:

“Life is a matter of perspective.  Change your perspective today and you’ll be living in a whole new world tomorrow.”

His book has been published by New Society Publishers, and they specialize in publishing books that provide solutions for those who want to make a difference – I can’t wait to see what they have in their catalog!!

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you all know how much I love taking pictures of trees from this vantage point – love the sense of perspective in this photo! (image from pixabay.com)

So, before I get into the meat of this blog post, I hope you will take a look at my newly revised About Me, Helpful Books, and NEW page on Animal Welfare and Rights Groups.   Oh, and I even created a Hire Me page!There are more new pages in progress, including Inspiring Videos and Inspiring Stories, to come in the near future!  The more I write, the more creative I feel!

So I thought I might suggest some little things that we can thing about anew, and feel more positive about our day, especially if it’s a crappy day for whatever reason – weather, people being grumpy, etc.

These are some of the little things that have helped my weekend to be a good one:

  • that perfectly brewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning
  • the cat that insists on sitting on your lap and putting his head on your laptop screen as you are trying to type (ahem, happening right now – I remind myself that it’s because Max loves me, as shown by his loud purring now taking place)
  • waking up in the morning and realizing today is what you make of it.  You might have to go to work, but only you can decide how to react to things, events, and people
  • a good conversation with a good friend
  • seeing your roommate start to flourish in this new town, meeting new friends and joining a community of like-minded souls
  • joining in a free(!) webinar with other interested souls to learn about building your own tiny house from this guy, Ethan Waldman
  • hearing from another writer whose work you really admire that your blog is one of her favorites (check out Sal’s blog at One Empty Shelf – her writing is so calming)
  • sitting in silence enjoying the beauty of your first Christmas tree in a few years
  • on a cold night, having a roof over your head, a comfy bed to sleep in, and a very cute dog named Snuggles, well, snuggling, at your side, knowing he is safe and loved
  • realizing the notebook with the cover “My Brilliant Ideas” that you recently bought for $3 was a great use of your money

What are some little things that help to center you and ground you in a positive perspective on life? Please share them below – I’d love to hear them and get a good conversation started! 

As always, thanks for reading.  And please, do check out my newly revised and created pages and let me know what you think!

And thank you to those of you who have recently used my Amazon Affiliates link and Ebates Referral link!  (Every little bit of income helps, so thank you!!)

Feeling Contentment (Without Spending a lot of Money)

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image courtesy of pixabay.com.  The ocean and nature, what could be better?!

This holiday season, if you shop for holiday gifts online, via Amazon, would you kindly use my Amazon Affiliate link?  It will cost you nothing extra but I will earn a small percentage of your purchase!  If you’re looking elsewhere, please use my Ebates referral link – I will get a small referral fee, and you can save money on something you were going to buy online already it can even be airline tickets or hotel reservations, etc.).  Please!! And thank you!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been getting daily emails from Mrs. Frugalwoods of the Frugalwoods blog.  Today’s email asked the following at the end:

When are you most content?  When you are spending money?  When you are spending less money?  Can you be content with fewer material possessions?

The first is an easy one for me to answer – I’m content when:

  • I am with my animals (The Herd) watching them all sleep peacefully, knowing they are safe and sound, and they will not go hungry, wanting for another meal.
  • I’m writing (blog post or otherwise) and I feel like I’m “in the flow.”
  • I’m reading a good book that I just can’t put down! (Check out my Helpful Books page for some of the most helpful to me.)
  • I’ve just finished an awesome run or workout at the gym. I don’t smell like a rose but who cares?!
  • I’m spending time in nature, feeling at peace and just “being.”
  • I’ve just finished up a transcription or other type of project, or accomplished all the goals I set out to complete on a certain day.
  • I help someone over the phone at work, and feel my inner librarian coming out, and they tell me I’ve been very helpful with all the information I’ve provided.
  • I check my retirement accounts and see that the balance is growing! It’s hard for me to save right now with such a low salary, but I’m trying to sock away 7% into a 401(k) and $95/paycheck for my Don’t Touch (emergency) fund, my insurance premiums and travel/tiny house funds.  (I just calculated that $95 savings amount to be roughly 13% of my after-tax salary!)

As you can see, I’m perfectly content to spend my time in activities that cost me very little, or nothing, and in some instances, actually earns me some money.   Also, I can definitely be content with fewer materials possessions! When I moved from my Boston apartment to Utah, to live in the fifth wheel travel trailer, my car held everything of value I owned (and my animals who I don’t own as they are living creatures and my family).  All except for one painting of a coastal setting, which I ultimately gave to my friend Michele back in Kanab.  I just had this feeling that she was the right person to receive it and her reaction to it confirmed that.

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You can only see two pet carriers in the photo, but there were five of them inside, plus Osito on my lap!

These days, I don’t buy much. When I do, it’s usually something I have thought about a lot, such as my first Christmas tree since 2014.  Someone told me that Hobby Lobby was selling all of their Christmas stuff at 50% off, so I bought a 4.5 foot tall tree and ornaments.  It makes me happy to look at it, and I feel like it makes the house more of a “home.”  When alone over the holidays, it can be very easy to feel down.  Believe me,  I know.  And it’s small enough that I can put it up in a tiny house later on!

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My first Christmas tree in three years. A whopping 4.5 feet tall.  My baby girl, Callie, approves!  Yes, one of the ornaments is a tiny, vintage travel trailer!

When do you feel most content? When shopping or indulging in retail therapy?  Or some other type of activity – exercise, etc.?  Tending to a hobby?  Reading a book?

Please drop me a line below and let me know! And as always, thanks for reading, and if you think someone else would like or benefit from reading this post, please share it!

Thank you letters, Take Two!

thank u card butterflyI was running on Thursday morning and listening to another favorite podcast of mine, Martinis and Your Money.  The host’s name is Shannon McLay and she was talking about how her choices in life led her to creating the Financial Gym.  She used to work for Merrill Lynch where the financial advisors wouldn’t take you on as a client unless you had something like $250,000 in savings. Um, I’m 44, and I STILL don’t have that in savings, and I know I’m ahead of a lot of other folks my age! (Sad, isn’t it? But that’s a story or a post for another day.)

Anyway, she said that after she spent an hour with a young couple who had over $1,000,000 saved and who each made six figures, and they were complaining about their portfolio being down by 3%, she just felt like she had sold her soul, and she knew she couldn’t get that hour of her life back.  And a few weeks later, she was working with one of her pro bono clients, and at the end of their session together, the lady said to her, “You know you’re saving my life, right?”

This made me think of the person who took me and my former husband on as clients when we didn’t have much in savings (he had a little, and I had pretty much nothing), but we had a lot of debt (mainly, my student loans).  So today, my thank you letter is written for Jessica C., or “Jess” as I sometimes called her.

Dear Jess,

I think what I’m most grateful for is that you never laughed at me and my dreams, no matter how silly or ludicrous they must have sounded to you.  So many people tried to instill fear in me (or was it their projection of their own fears?) but you never did. Instead, you said, “Let’s make a plan.”  And you’d put all of my figures in your spreadsheets so I could see how things might be possible, at least financially-speaking. 

You’d meet with me as often as I asked just so I could have someone to be accountable to, and you were like a cheerleader of sorts, encouraging me, and reminding me of how I had turned my life around in a few years since my divorce.  How I’d gone from having to take a loan out on my 403(b) to pay off my credit cards, and having zero in savings to having a good nest egg to buffer my fall when I made a life-changing move. 

There are two other things for which I need to thank you.  After my divorce, you didn’t just drop me as a client.  I’d already been “dropped” suddenly by so many people, I just kind of assumed that might be the case with you too, as you moved on to bigger and better clients who had way more in assets than me.  One of the scariest things when considering a divorce is how much your life will change after.  How people may just drop you from their lives (and they do, as they did.) 

The final thing for which I say thanks is for your helping me when you knew eventually I wouldn’t be able to afford your services. You were basically working your way out of a job with me as a client.  You knew I’d be taking such a huge pay cut I wouldn’t be able to keep working with you.  But you kept cheering me on. 

Yet, you still answer my emails, even when it’s to mention I need to change my address (again), and I know you still monitor the funds I transferred over to you. I know you will say you’re just doing your job and you have a duty to do so, and maybe you do.  But it doesn’t mean I can’t thank you for helping me to ensure I have a nest egg and won’t have to work until the day I die.  

Thank you for giving me that small peace of mind. And thank you for being a decent human being.  

Terri

So that’s my thank you letter for today.  If you’d like to thank someone and write up a guest post, please let me know. I’d be extremely happy to spread that positive feeling around. You never know what life will bring you, so don’t wait to thank someone who’s made a positive influence on you or your life.

Thanks for reading. And if you want Jess’ contact info, just drop me a comment below and I’ll gladly send it to you.

 

Thank you letters

 

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image from pixabay.com

Remember when you were a kid and your parents had you write out thank you letters after you received a gift for your birthday or a holiday like Hanukkah or Christmas?  Have you ever gotten a thank you note from someone out of the blue for something you did at your job, and you’re like, “I was just doing my job, wow!”

 

When I was at Harvard, I kept all of the thank you notes I received, even via email, and posted them on my wall near my desk.  I liked to think of it as my wall of positivity. When I was having a very bad day, I’d look at the wall and remind myself, “THIS is why I do what I do.” Sometimes students would see the notes and remark on them, and tell me that it made them feel even more comfortable meeting and talking with me.

I had a great Zoom meeting with my faculty advisor this morning and felt really inspired afterward.  We talked about how I can use my writing skills in humane education and she gave me lots of ideas and suggestions.  I remember a comment she made on one of my assignments – had I ever thanked the Creative Writing teacher I had in college?  And I thought of my work study job I had in college, where a true gentleman by the name of Carl G. Martin was my supervisor and ran the Office of Student Services.  I’ve thought of writing to him and thanking him for the influence he had on me in my college years.  But I’ve not done it. So, that ends today.

There are many people I want to thank for how they have positively changed my life.  But today, I’m going to start with just one, and I would like to encourage any of you to send me your thank you letters and I will gladly post them here.   Maybe you want to thank someone who is no longer with us, or someone you have no idea how to find or reach.  You will receive all the credit, of course.  I won’t edit them, I promise.

So here it goes, my first thank you letter, to my friend David B.   

Dear David,  

Thank you for having been my friend for the past 12 years.  Thank you for always being such a calming, positive influence (even when you didn’t think you were.)  Thank you for always be willing to sit and listen and then answer probing, thought-provoking questions in a non-judgmental way.  Thank you for being “that poor bastard who had to deal with you for more than eight hours a day for two years, sharing an office with you!” (That’s what my now ex-hb said at one point, and I remember telling you, and laughing about it.)   

Thank you for being that friend who was willing to sit across a table from me the night before I left my marriage.  You held my hand as I sobbed, hysterically at times, not being able to catch my breath.  I remember you giving me a key to your apartment in case I needed a place to stay.  You didn’t say much that night, and I suspect you knew you didn’t need to.  I just needed to know I wasn’t alone.  I needed to know I wasn’t a horrible person, and that I was loved, even though what I was contemplating doing was ripping me up inside. And you let me know that I would be okay.  It might take time, but I would be okay.

Thank you for watching me grow these past several years and for supporting my newest quest to start a master’s program at the young old age of 44, and not calling me insane for doing so.  Thank you for understanding that like you, I need to constantly be learning to be happy with my life.  Thank you for writing one of my recommendation letters for that program and for talking with me for quite a while beforehand, again, asking those great questions you always do.  

Thank you for being that type of friend, who, when we talk, it’s like we just saw each other yesterday.  Thank you for loving me as only a friend like that would. 

Love, Terri

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If you would like to email me a letter or write one as a guest post, you can email me at chasingsimpledreams AT gmail.com.  Or, please feel free to drop a comment on the blog with your email (the email is not shared or shown publicly), and I will gladly post it for you. 

It’s my hope to get an atmosphere of gratitude flowing around those of us interacting here or reading the blog.  When you’re grateful, it colors your whole world in a very positive light.

Thank you for reading.

 

Tuesday Thoughts, Thankfulness

Sorry for posting this so late in the day. I went to work by 615 a.m. this morning and worked my third 11-12 hour day in a row (inventory.) But better late than never, right?

About two weeks ago, I introduced myself to the girl who was answering the PBX phones at the hotel – basically acting as back up to the front desk folks. I saw she was studying and asked what it was. She was studying law, and in her second year. Now, there’s no law school anywhere near where I live, so it turns out she would travel back and forth to Colorado every week. She looked to be in her twenties, had kids and a family and seemed like a very pleasant person to be around. She was really excited to be learning law.

Last week, I came in at night  to make the night deposit and saw a sheet printed with color photos on it, and the words “In Memory of a Dear Friend” and what appeared to be photos of that same girl. I have to admit, I didn’t believe it. I was like WTH happened?! But no one was around for me to ask. So, I found out  a few days ago – she was killed in a head-on collision, with the other driver being drunk. Whoa.

Over the past month, a family I grew up with has lost two siblings. One died from a car accident, and the other just passed away this past weekend from ovarian cancer, with which she had been diagnosed for the past year. I guess it was already advanced pretty far when they discovered it. I can’t even imagine what their older sister and younger brother are going through right now. Thinking about that really puts things in perspective, though, doesn’t it? I know my problems now seem trivial in comparison.

Life is too short. It really is. And you never know when your time is up. It’s a cliche, yes, but it’s also very true. So, if nothing else, after reading this story, please tell your family how much you love and appreciate them, or if you live alone and have pets like I do, hug them extra hard.  I’m writing this post on a Sunday because my next few days at work will be filled with inventory, but as I write, I’m looking out my window at Lone Rock at what appears to be a beautiful, if somewhat muted, color-tone sunrise. I will never take sunrises or sunsets for granted. If it’s a beautiful one that I am missing and someone yells at me to come see it (as my grandma used to do), I will run right out there. I don’t ever want to be that person who says “eh, there’s going to be another one, I can see it tomorrow.” Because you know what? Not to be morbid, but you might not.

So, instead of adding links today like I normally do, I want to share a video with you that a good friend, Helen, shared with me a few days ago. (No copyright infringement intended, I would give credit to the creator if I knew who it was.) Anyway,  I’ve not seen Helen in a few years due to the fact that she lives in the Caribbean, and I do not. But she’s an amazing woman. Someone who just exudes gentleness, and a calm, loving nature. You know how with some people, you just get a good vibe when you meet them? Yep, that was Helen for me. So, Helen, if you are reading this, please know how much you are appreciated, and how much I loved this gift of this video. I hope you will all enjoy it.

As always, thank you for reading. Please drop me a line below and let me know if there’s anything you are particularly thankful for and appreciate.