When you’re just not found

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Just one of the screenshots of my glitchy moments

I’ve been taking a break.

From this blog.  From social media for the most part.  From a lot of things.

Part of the break was intentional and another chunk was not. 

One thing just led to another and the longer I took a break from writing blog posts, taking photographs to share, and making comments or status updates on other folks’ blogs or Facebook, the longer it felt right to do so.

For the last several months, life spun me in a different direction.  I’ve been needed elsewhere.  I’ve gathered up as much strength as I could muster to give it to someone else whose world was shattered.  And I’d be bold-faced lying if I didn’t confess that the experience has left me spent, exhausted, and in need of some retreat.

That’s part of the reason I’ve been ‘breaking.’  Days and nights were consumed with helping someone else.  There just was no time for doing much blogging.

But that’s not the lone cause.

I noticed an online meme this morning that was intended to be used as a Facebook cover photo and it summed up my feelings quite well: “Taking a break…my life needs me.”

Lately, my preoccupations have centered on my life instead of writing in this blog.  Yep, it’s safe to say my life needed me and I needed my life.  And that life does not revolve around my online presence nor do I want it to.

I’ve gone back to school – in one form or another.  I’m back at substitute teaching so that does occupy some daylight hours here and there, and I find doing so improves my outlook.  Just being around those teens and pre-teens does make my heart happy.

And I’ve also begun taking an online course in something I’ve always wanted to do.  And you know what?  That makes my heart happy too.  And it absorbs my ‘online time’ so that I don’t really want to spend any more time on social media. I count that as a plus. 

However, there’s more to the story.

A glitchy problem arose with my blog a few weeks ago which also prevented me from posting and giving me an excuse not to.  After several efforts at trying to address the issue, I finally threw up my hands and contacted my host site for help.  Technology (and the ire it causes me when it doesn’t work the way I think it should) often baffles me and I have to call in the big guns for reinforcement.

After several attempts and days of emailing back and forth, in between everything else that needed my attention, and sending screenshots to help rectify the situation, one of the ‘Happiness Engineers’ from WordPress sent me a satisfying resolution.  She was awesome, by the way.

But with the problem solved, I found I still wasn’t quite ready to resume blog posts.  I’m still not sure I’m game. 

I’m wrestling with several decisions like deactivating my Twitter account because really, who cares?  And limiting my Facebook activity because really, the only reason I stay on is to keep in touch with far-away friends and promote this blog. And what to do with this blog because really, I don’t know.

Just so many questions and so much I’m unsure about right now.  And honestly, with some new life changes, my time is limited for promoting an online presence.  And do I REALLY want one?? 

Then there’s the bottom line: does my blog really encourage anyone?  In this crazy, mixed up, messed up world, does my writing or photography really make a difference?

I’m pretty certain I have some deep thinking and praying to do.  So for the time being, I hope this at least explains my absence and why I’m just not found right now.

“Sometimes a break from your routine is the very thing you need.” ~unknown

©2015 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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A new day dawns

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Dawn breaks in the east

A day in the life.  What does it look like?

A day in life might be one where you’re consumed by the hustle of accomplishing all the items overloading your ever-growing to-do list.  Or a day in life may be one of quiet solitude with nothing pressing you forward. 

A day in life may prove so over flowing with joy and happiness that you think you might burst from the elation of it all.  Or a day may drown you in the depths of sorrow and pain and you feel like you’ll never break the surface of the sadness ocean that threatens to overwhelm you.

We are each given a new day every morning upon awakening.  A day that can be thrilling or trying.  Full of zest and zeal or full of trial and tribulation.  And as each day is lived and evening descends to envelop us with night hour darkness, we trudge wearily to our places of rest, shed the concerns or high points of the day, and close our eyes for a time of restoration.  If we’re lucky, we spend several hours resting our bodies and minds.  If not, the night looms lengthy ahead of us.

But one thing is certain.  We expect the dawn.

And we take it for granted.  At least I know that I do. If truth be known, I take far too many aspects of my life for granted and I’m ashamed of being ungrateful.  

I’ve recorded my insights, thoughts, and occasions, my ups and downs, my joys and sorrows here in this blog for four and a half years.  And forgive me for this, but I’ve even taken my blog and you, my readers, for granted. 

I’ve expected that each dawn when a new day rises, I’ll have words to commit to a blog post or a photograph to display.  And I’ve expected that you will view my posts, maybe even press that ‘like’ button or better yet, leave a comment.

I feed off of your kindness and your gracious comments and also from the statistics that show how many folks have clicked on my blog post for the day or who liked my status on Facebook.  And you know what? I’m just feeding my already over-inflated ego.  Yep, it’s all about me and I feel like I’m too busy promoting…myself.  

And it’s time for that to stop. Because it truly isn’t about me and the days of my life.  It’s about who I believe in, trust in, and turn to when I think I’ve lost my way. The very One who gave me this life that I live and take so very much for granted.

The One who reveals Himself everywhere I look and for whom this verse (vs 8) in Psalm 65 was written:  “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”

I truly am grateful for you, my faithful readers, and with hope and sincerity I invite you to join me on a journey during the month of November.  Something will be different.   Nothing drastic, just a change and hopefully, a change in me as I reveal things that have been on my heart the last few weeks.

Beginning November 1, as each new day dawns, I still will share either my words or pictures with you but some posts may be shorter than normal, just photographs may appear on days other than Wordless Wednesdays, and my usual posting schedule (T, W, TH) will be altered so even on weekends you may find something to ponder from Mama’s Empty Nest.    

 “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk.”  ~Jean-Paul Sartre

©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Give me a T!

Wonderful Team Member Award

Wonderful Team Member Award

You know that old acronym – TEAM?

Together Everyone Achieves More.  It’s true.  It not only applies to the business world but to volunteer organizations as well. 

When we work together as a team, accomplishments happen.  Ideas and dreams become realities.  Working in tandem with others also lightens the load. 

And I think all of that definitely applies here in the blogging world.

Yes, you can be a solo blogger in your own little world.  You may be the type of writer who bleeds out your fears, thoughts, life trials, and sometimes your innermost thoughts and you do it just for yourself.  You don’t want interaction with other bloggers and you don’t care if you have readers or not.

But I suspect most of us are really TEAM bloggers.  Yes, we often write transparently and put our thoughts ‘out there’ in the wide internet world for all to see.  But we cherish our readers and those who take the time to leave a comment whether it’s just a simple “I like this” or a paragraph or two of encouragement.  And that floats our boats and makes us feel like we’re all in this together.

We are a team.  We form communities of writing friends because something strikes a chord in us when we interact with them.  We feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.  It reminds me of a quote by A.A. Milne who wrote the Winnie the Pooh books:  “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”  

And when you ‘go’ to other bloggers, you find your place on a team making you feel like you’re one of the vital elements of the squad.   Call it a team, a crew, a group, a club, a posse…whatever you call it, you’re a part of it!

Quite a while ago, one of my blogging friends – yes, my teammate – bestowed the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award upon Mama’s Empty Nest.  And in all the busyness that has been going on, I almost neglected to acknowledge this honor.

I’m tickled to have Dor at Virginia Views on my crew.  Not only does her witty writing in her blog delight me  with funny stories, observations, and her photographs, but she also sends me the most encouraging comments.  She’s like the enthusiastic cheerleader that you definitely want on your squad rooting for you!  So I thank her, first for being my wonderful friend, and secondly for the award.

This award is simple.  You don’t have to answer questions.  You don’t even have to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time!  All you have to do is acknowledge your team – fellow bloggers who you truly appreciate.

Here are the rules:

  1. The Nominee shall display the logo on his/her blog.
  2. The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little.
  3. The Nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during 7 days.

Now some of my favorite bloggers aren’t into these awards, so as their teammate, I’m not expecting or pressuring them to participate.  I simply want them to know how very much I do value their friendships.

So here goes.  Give me a P! Because I am proud, privileged, and pleased to pass the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award to these people:

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  ~ Helen Keller

Give me a T!  E!  A!  M!  What’s it spell? TEAM!  Go Team!

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Orange you glad you’re family?

wordpress-family-award-1Welcome to my orange.

“If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable – each segment distinct.”  ~Letty Cottin Pogrebin

I always assumed my family was a little fruity, so the quote above gives credence to that. 

If you are a regular reader of Mama’s Empty Nest, you will notice that I write often about family – my circle of orange sections – and how much it means to me. 

I really have two families.  First is my actual family – my husband, adult children and their spouses, and sisters and their respective families.  Then there is my church family which includes folks who have known me my entire life.

I just recently realized that I have another family though.  My WordPress Family.  Oh, they’re spread out all over the country and I’ve only met them through blogging, but they feel like family to me because we have a connection with each other.  We share ideas, encouragement, comments, pictures, and thoughts.  And isn’t that what a family does?

“Cherish your human connections – your relationships with friends and family.” ~ Barbara Bush

One of my blogging family connections is Dor from Virginia Views.  That gal is witty and she makes me laugh – out loud!  She and I have been swapping stories and commonalities for quite some time now and even though we’ve never met in person, I consider her an important segment in my orange writing and reading circle.

Not too long ago, Dor bestowed a blogging award honor on me and my humble little blog.  Maybe it’s just the title that struck a chord with me or maybe it’s the description of the award, but this one seems most special.

It’s called the WordPress Family Award and here’s how Dor depicted it: “The WordPress Family Award is reserved for folks in Cyberspace who are unceasingly kind, sympathetic, encouraging, and open to laughter – and who keep each other going by sharing, commenting, and making personal connections even though they may actually be virtual strangers.”

This world is chock full of strangers and albeit, some of them are very strange.  I find it somehow comforting to find like-minded writers out there who share some kind of bond with me even though we’ve not met.

“The family is a haven in a heartless world.”  ~Attributed to Christopher Lasch

To me, this world is a very heartless place sometimes, which is why I do believe one’s family is a haven.  And that’s why I enjoy my blogging family as well.  They provide a safe harbor for me while I float out there in the wide world of words.

I gratefully accept this award and thank Dor so much for naming me. 

The WordPress Family Award Rules:

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.  (My blogging buddy Dor is a vital member of my orange  blogging family!  You can visit her at Virginia Views.)
  3. Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family. (The following 10 bloggers have been like family to me.  Most of them do not participate in these awards, and some of them do not post as often as they used to, but they’ve been my writing family from early on in my blogging world.  They’ve encouraged me through their friendships,  comments and even emails and they’re all very special to me.  But my family is growing and there are so many other blogs I enjoy reading and I’m getting to know some of those writers as well.  So please don’t feel like the black sheep of the family if you are not included in this list! )
  1. Let your 10 WordPress Family members know you have awarded them.

And now, on this best day of the year, I have this sudden hankering for a nice juicy orange and I’m pretty certain I’ll savor each segment. 

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A moment in time

Best Moment AwardIt’s my busy season at work.  I tend to get stretched a little too far and wound a little too tight this time of year as I maneuver my way into the hope of rest and relaxation in the upcoming summer months.

So I find myself looking ahead much like this quote attributed to cartoonist Bill Watterson, the guy who draws the lovable Calvin & Hobbes comic strip:  “We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” 

I suppose taking the time to enjoy where we are could be called living in the best moment.  Well, one of those best moments happened along my way recently. 

Even though I’ve been a little derelict in blogging lately because of time restraints, I’ve managed to attract some new readers.  And if you’re one of those delightful people who clicked the follow button, thank you for joining me and my world here at Mama’s Empty Nest.  I hope you find something worthwhile to read, enjoy, or maybe even inspire you here – maybe even your own little moment in time.

One of those new readers is  A Blessed Pilgrim, at His Eye Is On the Sparrow.   I haven’t had a tremendous amount of time to spend perusing  her posts, but what I have read makes me desirous for more.  Her blog title and tag line – “Because without Him, I’m challenged! Finding hope in hopelessness” – touches my heart.

On one of my harried days in the middle of a hectic week, I quickly logged into my blog to find some new comments waiting for my approval.  One of them was from Blessed Pilgrim alerting me that she had nominated my blog for not just one but two awards – the “Best Moment Award” and the “Liebster Blog Award.”

Now I know not everyone appreciates these awards, but when a reader takes the time to notice my blog and give me this gift of letting others know about me, I want to thank that person and show my appreciation.  I’ve received the Liebster award previously, so I’m going to pass on it, except to thank Blessed Pilgrim for sending it my way again. 

The Best Moment Award caught my eye because I haven’t seen it before.  So I clicked on Blessed Pilgrim’s blog post in order to read more about this honor.  As I read her words, they brightened my day. 

Here’s what she wrote:  “Blogger awards are a good kind of chain letter.  They are to bless the nominated blogger who gets them, and bless those they recommend.  Unlike chain letters, there is no evil curse at the end if one doesn’t follow through.  Thank heavens; there is enough bad stuff out there.  They are kind of like the Halloween Trick-or-Treat without the Trick.” 

I liked that!  Of course, I’m all about treats!

So please, go visit Blessed Pilgrim’s blog and indulge me as I follow the rules for the Best Moment Award: 1)Placing the award on your blog (lined up on my Awards Page); 2)Answer a few questions (giving you some insight into what makes me tick); and 3)Nominate some of your favorite bloggers (there are so many, so please don’t feel slighted if I missed you).

Best Moment Award Questions:

Who inspires you?  I’d say first of all, the Lord God inspires me.  Everywhere I look, I see His handiwork…in nature, in people, in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches I experience.  How could all of those things created by Him not inspire me?  Next, I would say so many of my fellow bloggers inspire me with their words, their pictures, their thoughts, and their encouragement.

What is the hardest part about blogging, if any? For me, it’s finding enough time to develop all of the many, many ideas zooming around in my brain and jotted down in my notebook.

What is your favorite quote? Oh my, that’s difficult since I am a keeper of quotes.  I love so many, but I’m going to go with a simple one.  “Just keep swimming.” ~ by Dory the Fish in Finding Nemo (Surprised you with that one, huh?)

What is your favorite dessert?  I love chocolate but when it comes to having an evening dessert, chocolate keeps me awake at night! So my favorite dessert is a really good lemon meringue pie or maybe key lime. Yum.

What skill do you wish you had taken the time to learn when you were growing up? Learning how to cook and bake like my mother.  I still haven’t managed to make a good pie crust like she did. 

What is the one activity you wish you had the time to pursue? Photography.  I love taking photos especially with my new camera and if I had a little more free time, I’d read my camera’s instruction book cover to cover to really understand all of its features and maybe even take a photography class.  Ah, maybe I can carve out some time this summer for this pursuit.

If money was no issue, where would you like to travel? I’d do a grand tour of Europe with extra time spent in England where a great many of my ancestors came from.  And then I think I’d journey to Australia.

What is your favorite holiday? Hands down, it’s Christmas.  I love every single thing about it. The decorating, the food, the greetings, the gifting, the music, and most of all, the remembrance of the greatest gift ever given to mankind.

What is your favorite pastime?  I work crossword puzzles almost every day.  I find it helps my memory and keeps my mind sharper, plus I’m compulsive enough to want to finish each one completely.

What book are you currently reading? I’m continually reading my Bible.  I’m also in the middle of a couple books about God’s grace.  And to throw a different flavor into the mix, I like to go back and re-read some classics.  Right now, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Do you play a musical instrument?   As a young girl, I took piano lessons for several years, so I can play that instrument.  Am I good at it?  Well, let’s just say I enjoy my own little concerts by myself in my living room.

And now…drum roll please…these are my nominations for the Best Moment Award.  These bloggers always provide amazing fodder for my eyes either to read or see through their photographs. (Click on their blog names to visit them!)

Montana Outdoors 

These Days of Mine 

Living in Graceland  

Georgette Sullins Blog 

Virginia Views 

The two bloggers I’ve listed below don’t even know that I exist.  They are well-known and have thousands of followers and I am just one of them.  But I love what they write, and have found some best moments reading their blogs, and maybe you will too.

Ann Voskamp’s  A Holy Experience 

Angie Smith’s Bring the Rain 

On this best day of the year, whether you’re a blogger or just a blog reader, I hope you find some inspiration to live in your best moment.

©2013 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Danke, my liebster

When you take a hiatus from blogging, you worry a bit.

You worry that your readers will forget about your blog.  You worry that you disappoint those faithful readers that do remain in your blogging circle when there’s nothing new for them to read.

And you worry that when you do return to the blogging world, no one will want to read what you write.

Being overwhelmed by the wedding world these last few months, I’ve taken a few breaks from blogging.  It was necessary to try to retain my sanity while preparing for all three of my adult children’s weddings.

But each time I returned, there you were – my faithful readers, my friends who proved they weren’t just fair-weather friends.  And you, my dear ones, are liebster.

Liebster (pronounced: leeb-stir) is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome.

How do I know this?  I learned it straight from my blogging buddy Dor at Virginia Views.  She recently was awarded The Liebster Blog Award and most graciously passed the torch to Mama’s Empty Nest.  Dor is definitely liebster.

According to Dor, this award “recognizes up and coming bloggers and winners are asked to ‘pay it back and forward.’  The award is given to those bloggers who have less than 200 followers.”

The Rules for the Liebster Award are as follows: 

  • Link back to the blogger who gave you this award.
  • Post the award to your blog.
  • Post 11 things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions asked of you, plus create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Nominate 11 people you think deserve the award and link them to your post.
  • Go to their pages and tell them they have been chosen.

Linking back to my friend Dor’s blog is easy to do and I’m pleased to recommend her blog to all my friends and readers.   Posting the award on my blog – also easy.  There it is, positioned in this post, and taking up a little space on my awards page.

Now comes the not so easy thing.

Post 11 things about yourself.   Well, here goes!

1)     Unless you know me personally, this may come as a surprise to you because since I began blogging, I’ve kept anonymous.   To some, I’m only known as Mama or MEN (Mama’s Empty Nest).  But my real name is Cindy.

2)    I’ve been married to the most wonderful but sometimes wacky man for 35 years.  And unless I was a child bride, which I wasn’t, that tells you I am definitely middle-aged, or as I like to call it, on the down slide to 60.

3)    I’m not crazy about dogs.  The feeling is not mutual, however.  They appear to love me.

4)    I am fanatical about ice cubes.  I must have ice in any cold drink, whether it is sweet tea, unsweetened tea, soda (or as we call it here – pop), or just plain water.  Must. Have. Ice.

5)    I love sleeping in a cold bedroom.  In the dead of winter when it’s freezing outside, snow on the ground, cold wind blowing, you may drive past my house at night and you’ll notice that my bedroom window is open a tad.  This habit evolved because of those dratted menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats years ago, but now both hubby and I prefer a cold bedroom since we sleep better at cooler temperatures.  Brrr…in a good way!

6)    I drive an all-wheel drive vehicle for one purpose – to make it out of my uphill driveway every winter.  When it snows here at Mama’s Empty Nest, it blows and drifts and makes my driveway a challenge.  Plus, I love my Freddy Forester (the name I dubbed my trusty SUV).

7)    This is the seventh item in my list of things about me, so it seems fitting to relate that this is my seventh year of living cancer-free, for which I am so very thankful.

8)    I like the number 8.  I don’t really know why, I just do.  If I were an ice skater, I’d skate figure eights a lot.

9)    I just don’t understand why everyone wants to read on Kindle.  Really, reading on a screen is not nearly as relaxing as cozying up with a real, honest-to-goodness paper and binding book, turning real pages that I can feel in my hands, and locating a real bookmark to keep my place.  And browsing libraries and book stores is soothing to me.  Firing up a hand-held electronic device just doesn’t create the same feeling, virtually.  Call me a dinosaur.  I can take it.

10)  This item seems like a dichotomy, but it’s true.  I like lots of open space in a house; closed-in spaces make me feel claustrophobic.  But wide open spaces like the prairie in the central part of our country almost frighten me.  Go figure.

11) I’m happy and relieved to report that I survived this year – our “Year of the Weddings” in which all three of our adult children married.  It was stressful and most joyful all at the same time and I believe I’m still someone sane from the experience.  I know I am thrilled beyond measure to add three more wonderful people to our family!  For those of you who want to see photos from the last wedding held just a couple of weeks ago, hang on.  They’re coming soon, I promise.

Here are the 11 questions Dor chose for us lucky award recipients:

1)    If you could go anywhere in the world and stay for a month, where would you choose to go? My first thought was a nice, warm, sunny beach somewhere, but then I thought, “Nah….I’d get weary of just lounging on a beach for an entire month.”  So where would I spend a month anywhere in the whole wide world?  I think I’d go to the country of my ancestors – merry old England.  And even though it probably wouldn’t be warm or sunny, I’d explore the old country as much as I possibly could and imagine my ancestors living there.

2)    What is your hobby?  Besides blogging, I love to take photographs, but I’m really such an amateur.  I’m an avid crossword puzzle solver.  I’m a reader when I have time and I used to enjoy crafts.

3)  What was your childhood dream?  Don’t laugh.  My fondest childhood dream was an aspiration to be famous.  I decided early on in my life that I was either going to be a famous actress or a famous writer.  Unfortunately, I am neither.

4)    What was the best gift you ever received? Just recently, I received a gift that left me speechless.  But I’m going to leave you in suspense over that one because I plan to write a post about it very soon.  Stay tuned!

5)    What is your favorite movie?  That is hard to narrow down because I like a lot of movies.  Many of my favorite movies are old ones like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Thin Man.

6)    Who is the person who inspired you the most?  I’d have to say there were two people – my parents.  My mom battled cancer for less than a year before she succumbed.  She battled bravely without complaining, without regrets, without feeling sorry for herself.  Instead she chose to be grateful for the life she had been given and the blessings that surrounded her.  I hope I am half the person she is.  My dad also inspired me as he was the most kind, gracious, well-liked and respected man.  He also never said anything harsh or unpleasant about anyone.  I’d like to follow in his footsteps and be a chip off the old block, but I have to keep working on that.

7)    What is your favorite dessert?  Anything chocolate, except when eaten after 7 p.m. when the caffeine in the chocolate keeps me up all night.

8)    What is your favorite quote? Oh, that’s difficult because I am an ardent collector of quotes.  I love quotes and keep them in a notebook.  I could choose a poignant quote, a philosophical one, even a scripture from God’s Word could qualify as a favorite.  But I may surprise a few people with this quote that I think says it all:   “Just keep swimming.” ~ Dory in Finding Nemo

9)    What do you do for relaxation? I sit.  Honestly, that’s what I do to relax.  I sit and I’m quiet and I de-stress.

10) What is your favorite remembered scent/smell from childhood?  The clean, fresh scent of soap.  It reminds me of my mother.

11) If you could be a character in a book, who would you choose to be?  Hands down, Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  No matter how many times I read that book, I always find myself admiring this character.

Now it’s my turn to pass the Liebster on to my list of 11 must-read bloggers, although I don’t know if my honorees have less than 200 followers or not.  I only know that I follow them and they are dear friends of mine.

They are my go-to list, but I want to tell my new followers that I just haven’t had time to check out your blogs yet.  I have a lengthy list of new folks to read about and I’m hoping to do just that soon after the holidays are over and the long winter sets in.

  1. Homestead Ramblings
  2. These Days of Mine
  3. Georgette Sullins Blog
  4. Living in Graceland 
  5. Montana Outdoors
  6. Big Happy Nothing  
  7. Writing For Daisies 
  8. Believe Anyway
  9. Nikole Hahn’s Journal
  10. Saturday Evening Porch 
  11. Laura’s Blog

Some of my faves don’t really get into these awards that much, and that’s just fine.  Whatever floats my boat may sink yours, so I won’t be offended if you choose not to respond to the Liebster Award and its rules.

But if you are feeling whimsical and want to answer my 11 questions, here they are:

1)    If you made a bucket list, what would be the number one item on that list?

2)    What is your favorite holiday?

3)    How did you decide on the name of your blog?

4)    What is one of your most beloved family traditions?

5)    What is your all-time favorite thing in the world to eat?

6)    Where have you traveled that is the farthest away from your home?

7)    Which is better – television, movies, or book?

8)    If you celebrate Christmas, when do you open gifts, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

9)    If you own a Kindle, why do you like it? If you don’t, why not?

10)  It’s almost Thanksgiving, for what are you most thankful?

11)  Have you ever met one of your blogging buddies in person?  What was the experience like?

I’m grateful for my readers and my blogging buddies, for my oldest and dearest friends and my new, endearing ones, for the opportunity to be honored and the chance to honor someone else.

Danke schön, mein liebster lesern.

(Thank you very much, my dearest readers.  Not sure I got that German correct, but I tried!)

©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

ABC…not quite as easy as 1,2,3

The Jackson Five sang it…. “ABC, it’s easy as 1, 2, 3…”

Uh-huh.  Sometimes blogging is as easy as ABC. An idea pops into your head, you sit at the computer, and the words just flow out of you like a prolific fountain.

But at other times, chalk it up to writer’s block or just being plain old unmotivated, nothing’s coming forth.  As easy as one, two, three though, there’s an entire world of bloggers to turn to for encouragement.

That why I enjoy my little blogging community.  I’ve made some amazing friends and they never cease to inspire and also encourage me with their comments and appreciative thoughts.  When one of them remarks how awesome a post is or that it is beautifully written, it just makes my heart glad enough to do a little happy dance.

One of those sweet writer/friends is Dianna at These Days of Mine.  Recently, she received a well-deserved  honor,  the ABC (Awesome Blog Content) Award.  She graciously presented this accolade to my blog as well and I couldn’t be more grateful for this lovely tribute.

It’s easy to accept a complimentary tribute…easy as ABC.  The acceptance requirement, listing 26 things about yourself in alphabetical order, proved to be a little more difficult,  but after a few …er… many days of mulling this over, I finally thought of descriptive phrases from A to Z to describe little ol’ me.

I am:

A – an American alto but I sing our national anthem in soprano.

B – a blogger trying to balance posts that bring stories to life via words against photos that bring words to life.  Hopefully, that didn’t boggle your mind!

C – a cat owner of one chubby calico named Callie.

D – a dabbler who finds delight in photography and details, not drama.

E –  efficient and effective, an empty nester wishing for more energy.

F – a person of faith, fond of family, friends, and fellowship.

Ggenuine and genial and gossip makes me groan.

Hheadstrong but helpful and hopeful.

I – an ice cube fanatic as well as an ice water and iced tea drinker.

J – a former journalist who jots down joy.

Kkeen on keepsakes but not knick-knacks.

L – a logical list maker and lover of life.

M – the mother of three marrying kids.

N – a nice but not noisy neighbor.

O – an ocean observer who oooos over office products.

P  – a Pennsylvanian with ancestors who were peers of William Penn.

Q –interested in quilts, quotes, quaint places, and quirky people.

R – a reader, a rememberer, and a rejoicer.

Ssaved by the grace of a sovereign Savior.

T –  someone who treasures tranquility and travel.

U – an undeniably grateful uterine cancer survivor.

V – a vertically challenged (short) person who values vacations and the scent of vanilla.

Wwarm and welcoming with a bit of a wacky side.

X – eXtra fond of my family and Xmas.

Y – the youngest of three sisters who loves the color yellow.

Z – someone who zooms and zips when she should stick to the speed zone, but only zapped once by the policeman’s radar gun.  Zounds! That was an expensive lesson.

And now for the easy as one, two, three part of the award.  I must name 10 other worthy bloggers for the ABC Award tribute. My favorite 10 are:

“ABC..

ABC, it’s easy,

Easy as 1, 2, 3

It’s like counting up to three

Or simple as Do, re, mi

Sing a simple melody,

That’s how easy [blogging] love can be!”

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Walking on sunshine

blogDSCN7841You may not know this if you don’t know me personally.  Yep, I have an addiction.   I’m dependent on sunshine.

Every winter, even though I do relish the cold weather and I’m crazy enough to say I enjoy snow, I start getting restless, weary, and downright grumpy come February.

I owe this moodiness to lack of sunlight. Winter’s short days coupled with dreary, overcast skies that usually accompany a good portion of the season here in my homeland seem to affect me negatively.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) because I don’t require medication or even light therapy, but the lack of light – in particular sunshine – and even a lack of brilliant colors definitely makes me a Grumpy Gerta.  Writing this post while seated at my kitchen table perusing a mostly brown, gray, and black landscape outside my window reminds me of this malady.

So every February, I anxiously await longer days, more sunshine, and whine at winter’s longevity, saying,  “Bring on the color, will ya??”  I first noticed my temperament became gloomy when we lived in the Pacific Northwest where the sunshine is minimal and the rainy skies continue for a good part of the year.

A wise advice giver told us to purchase a house with abundant windows, a home not located in a nest of those huge Douglas Fir trees that seemed everywhere.  We moved there from the Midwest plains where sunshine abounded and trees weren’t as high as skyscrapers.

During our first winter (if you could call a season without any frost winter), I noticed the ever constant overcast skies and lack of sunlight affected my demeanor.  When the sun came out, my world became rosy.  I was a most happy camper as my mood lightened, my steps became more springy, and my general outlook brighter.

Six years later, we moved back to our home state and my hometown.  Imagine my dismay to find out my neck of the woods (where winter definitely arrives) is also noted for lack of sunshine.  In 49 years of weather records, our nearest city supposedly averaged  sunny days only 45% of the year.   Some experts claim October is one of our sunniest months, which explains why I love fall weather.  And I LOVE sunshine!  When the sun beams, I beam.  It’s that simple.

So this week, it’s been rainy and dismal and drab and gray.   Need I go on?  Blah.  The sun appeared to be AWOL and that made me tired, apathetic, and lethargic.  Really, I just wanted to crawl back into bed yesterday because it was so bleak outside.  And I didn’t even feel like blogging!  Yes, it’s that serious!

But this morning gifted me little glimpses of sunshine literally and figuratively.  Every so often, rays of light peeked out from behind the clouds and streams of sunlight flooded through my windows.  Hurray!  I started feeling more perky.  I opened up my laptop, logged into WordPress and another little glimpse of sunshine poured into my day.  Dor over at  Technicolor Day Dreams  blessed me with a comment announcing that she nominated my blog for an award — get ready — the Sunshine Award!

Sunshine??  I’ll take it!!!  Gladly!!  What a sweet thing to be nominated for an award that is given to “bloggers who are inspirational, and who have impacted your blogging or your life.”

Here’s what Dor wrote to explain why she nominated Mama’s Empty Nest for this award:  “because she is “Mama” to everyone and writes luminous posts full of sunshine and hope – the perfect candidate for this award.”

Dor doesn’t know me personally; she doesn’t know that I LOVE sunshine.  She doesn’t know that my goal is to spread some sunshine and hope into this dark world.  But she sees that in my posts which sends rays of sunshine into my soul.  Thank you, Dor! I awakened this morning thinking I had nothing to write about today but just one or two rays of light provided inspiration.

I’m happy to comply with the rules of the Sunshine Award.  Heck, when the sun shines, I’m just happy to comply –  period.   So here goes:

Sunshine Award Rules:

  • Include the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.  Check.  See the logo, it even looks happy, doesn’t it?
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself. Check. Q & A  below!
  • Nominate 10-12 other fabulous bloggers.  Check. The difficult part is narrowing down the nominations because a myriad of fabulous bloggers exist out there.  My faves listed below.
  • Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs, letting them know they have been nominated. Check.  That’s the fun part!
  • Share the love and link the person who nominated you.  Check.  Dor, you’re incredibly kind and sweet!

Ten Sunshine Award Questions (and answers):

Favorite color:  Yellow!  Of course, the color of sunshine!

Favorite animal:  Cat, namely one beautiful calico kitty named Callie

Favorite number:  Eight (it’s a recurring theme in my life)

Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Tea, hot or iced,  hands down.  I also like….you guessed it….sun tea.

Prefer Facebook or Twitter?  I’m not on Twitter (probably because I’m too wordy!!), so I’ll have to say Facebook (although it aggravates me sometimes.  But that post I’ll save for another day.)

My passion:   #1 – God (He created the sun and gave us His Son!)  #2 –  my husband and family.   #3 –  writing, it does give me joy.

Prefer getting or giving presents:  Receiving gifts is not high on my love language list, but I so enjoy giving joy to others with a meaningful gift.

Favorite pattern:  Beams of sunshine slicing their way through the clouds (like in my photo!)

Favorite day of the week:  Friday (it’s usually a day off, my catch-up day, my do whatever I feel like day!)

Favorite flower:  So hard to choose!!!  I vacillate between lily of the valley, lilac, and hyacinth.  Bet you thought I’d say daffodils or buttercups because they are yellow! I like them too, but I love lily of the valley for their tiny, delicate blooms, lilac and hyacinth for their lovely fragrance.

And now it’s time to pass the torch of sunshine to my fellow, inspirational bloggers listed in no particular order but as they came to mind.  Thank you all for sending a little light and sunshine into my blogging world.

I must apologize for two things though. First, I’ve mentioned several of these bloggers before (I can’t help it, they are my favorites!!) and I haven’t had much free time to seek out a lot of new blogs to read.  Second, if you’ve already received this award, I’m sorry, but you are my sunshine and you deserve to be recognized again!

  1. Grace For My Mess  I always find rays of sunshine at Jana’s blog as she writes about her faith and family, spreading the light of our Savior to all who read her posts.
  2. Homestead Ramblings  HR was one of my very first contacts in the blogging world and she has become one of my dearest friends.  Her insights inspire me and are illuminating as well.
  3. Georgette Sullins Blog  Another blogger that I’ve come to think of as a dear friend.  Her life stories never fail to intrigue me and make me smile.  Smiling is sunshine for the soul.
  4. My Wife Doesn’t Think I’m Funny  His wife may not think this guy is funny, but I think he’s hysterical.  His posts always make me laugh and not being much of a humor writer myself, I admire that about him.
  5. Coming East  Simply put, Susan’s posts are interesting and well-written.
  6. Seeing Beauty  I recently stumbled upon this young writer and immediately sensed a beautiful soul, one who serves others in a far-off land.
  7. Stories About My Life, 92% True  Jimmy keeps me updated on what happened in the 80’s (the ‘lost’ decade I can’t remember because I was too busy giving birth and raising three kids!) as he writes nostalgic stories for his family but manages to amuse the rest of his readers, me included.
  8. Big Happy Nothing  Amiable, Amiable just exudes fun and just like we need sunshine, we all need a little fun in our lives too!
  9. Minding My Nest  With that common theme of nests in mind, I enjoy reading Kelly’s journey coping with her “not so empty nest.”  She fills her nest and blog with great pictures, awesome recipes, and creative craft ideas.
  10. These Days of Mine   A day without Dianna’s blog is like a day without sunshine.
  11. Inspired Visions  I’m always inspired by this blogger’s visions which are her wonderful photographs.
  12. Montana Outdoors  Even when this talented photographer posts pictures of snow and ice, it warms my heart.  He’s a down to earth, homespun kind of guy, one you’d be happy to call your friend.

Today in my Opportunity book, I feel like I’ve been transported to sunny California.   The sun is shining outside and in my heart of joy, I’m walking on sunshine.

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

You! Yes, you!

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times.

That sounds like something my mother would have said to me when I was doing something wrong or not accomplishing what she asked of me.

“If I said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, go pick up your room,”  I can imagine her saying.  Matter of fact, I’m sure she did say it a thousand times.  And I’m pretty certain I’ve used the same saying a thousand times on my own children too.

But today, that saying doesn’t refer to something negative.  Today in my Opportunity book, that sentence gives me joy.   Why?  Because if I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times – I’ve ‘met’ some truly wonderful people through blogging.

While reading what other bloggers write, I’ve learned much about their characters and their lives while their stories humor, inspire and bless me.   When a blogging buddy regularly reads my posts and offers interesting and uplifting comments, that blesses me too!

Recently, two blogging friends conferred more honor upon my little blogging world.  Kate at kateschannel  presented the Liebster Blog Award to Mama’s Empty Nest and Dianna at These Days of Mine gifted me with the All Around Wonderful Blog Award.

First, let me tell you about these two talented people before I divulge info about the awards.  I first ‘met’ Kate when she commented on my blog and I was interested in getting to know who she was.  That’s what I do.  Leave a comment, I’ll visit your blog, see what you write about, peek in on your “about me” page.

Here’s what I’ve learned about my new friend, Kate.  She has much experience in the communications field, so when she compliments my writing,  I appreciate that.  Kate is a die-hard Detroit sports fan and a work at home mom.  I can tell she’s passionate about her family and her life in Michigan.  And I like that about her!

I can’t remember exactly when my path crossed with Dianna’s, but I never miss reading this gracious lady’s blog because it brightens my day.   Occasionally, her clever kitty, Sundae, may offer a guest post making me chuckle.  Dianna and I share some commonalities: we’re around the same age, we are owned by beautiful but spoiled calico cats, we enjoy photography, and our families mean the world to us.

Now that I’ve introduced you to these two friends, here’s the scoop on the awards.  The Liebster Blog Award is sweet because the German word means dearest, beloved or favorite.   You can’t get any better than being someone’s favorite or beloved, so it warms my heart that Kate lists my blog in that category!

Like other blog awards, the Liebster rules require the honoree to pass the torch to five favorite blogs who have less than 200 followers.   I’m not a fan of following the masses, so many of my favorite bloggers fit this requirement, so that wasn’t a challenge.  Among my beloved blogs are writers who have already accepted this award, so I’m bestowing it upon those who haven’t received it yet to my knowledge.

I proudly pass the Liebster Blog Award to five of my favorites:

1)    Homestead Ramblings HR is my go-to person.  She and I have become very good friends since our early blogging days and I love both her blog and her!  Her blog is always surprising as she writes about a myriad of subjects.  Her faith and love for nature (and Alaska) shine through her posts.

2)    Montucky  Montucky’s spectacular photography mesmerizes me and I love clicking onto his blog to see his latest shot.

3)    Watkins Every Flavor Beans  This writer is my oldest daughter’s friend.   A stay at home young mother of three handsome little fellows, she chronicles her family life while living in Scotland.  Her creativity astounds me.

4)    Dividing By Zero This guy can be incredibly funny or deep.  He’s my personal friend  from a long time ago, and I witnessed his humor daily when we were co-workers.  I enjoy reading his talented writing because he always has thought-provoking things to say.

5)    Laura’s Blog Another personal friend, Laura is one witty gal.   She can wrap a rhyme around words in a flash and her humor is pointedly funny.  She writes often about her faith and that’s one of the reasons I love her.

All Around Wonderful Blog Award –  what an honor to be named “all around wonderful!”  I gratefully accepted this award and the charming award badge that accompanies it.

The rules for accepting this award are “be a follower of this blog,  pass the award on to 3 other blogs,  and lastly, link the award back to this blog.”

Simple, right?  But narrowing down my blogroll list to only three blogs for this honor proved difficult for me.  I wanted to wrap it up like an unexpected present in cheerful, colorful paper tied with an exquisite, shiny ribbon and bestow it upon every single one of my blogging buddies.

But I am a rule follower so I’ll obey because I can hear my dear mom’s voice in my head saying, “If I told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times…”

So my choices for the All Around Wonderful Blog Award are:

1)    Saturday Evening Porch  When you go sit on my sweet Southern friend’s front porch, you’ll find yourself chuckling out loud.  She has a clever knack of taking ordinary things and turning them into amusing stories because she’s such a wonderful story-teller.

2)    Big Happy Nothing  Amiable Amiable, lovingly known as AA, literally cracks me up.  She’s funny, witty, yet can throw some poignancy into the mix so easily.   She also is an all around wonderful story-teller.

3)    Believe Anyway I’ve just recently become acquainted with this writer who created the Candle Lighter Award, but her enthusiasm for life and her faith is contagious.  She is the eternal optimist and I think we need more wonderful people like her to brighten up this world.

I once read a quote by psychologist and philosopher William James that said, “What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise – although the philosophers generally call it ‘recognition’!”

So true.  Every person does yearn for praise.  To have the words and thoughts which I chronicle in this blog considered to be worthy of recognition truly provides me great joy.   Today, I’m kind of like actress Sally Field as she accepted an Academy Award, “You like me, you really like me!”

Thank you, Kate and Dianna, for liking me!  Thank you, fellow writers, for delighting me each day in our blogging community.  You are such treasures!  And finally, thank you to all those readers who click on my blogspace and light up my world.

“There are amazingly wonderful people in all walks of life; some familiar to us and others not. Stretch yourself and really get to know people. People are in many ways one of our greatest treasures.”  ~ Bryant H. McGill

Copyright ©2012 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Seven – perfect link number

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” ~  William Arthur Ward

I’m not the perkiest early morning person,  but I do love watching the sunrise from time to time.  Stay in bed a minute too long and you miss it.  Likewise, in a blogging community when you stay offline a couple of days, you miss important stuff!

Sometimes I’m concerned that I spend way too much time on the computer in my free moments, so occasionally I go on a cyber-diet, a kind of fast away from the lure of the laptop.  Other times my plate is full of to-do lists and I just don’t have time to log in because a “quick minute” for me somehow turns into a couple of hours.  And the clock doesn’t lie!  (If my chiropractor is reading this, now he knows why my body is knotted up when I visit!)

Last weekend, my laptop stayed off my lap.  I had places to go, people to see, things to do, pictures to take, weddings to plan, not to mention Christmas cards to address, decorating to accomplish…you know the drill.

So on Monday afternoon, when I cracked open my trusty laptop (somehow laptop right now reminds me of lap dog, but I’m digressing),  I first logged in to my blog to check my stats.  It’s an addiction, I tell ya!  Then I scrolled down my favorite list of bloggers and checked out the posts I’d missed.

That’s when I realized I missed my new friend Dianna’s (These Days of Mine) announcement over the weekend. She was the recent recipient of the 7 X 7 Link Award and she graciously awarded me with this honor also.  Thank you, Dianna!

And I almost missed this opportunity!   If you’re a faithful reader, you know I consider each day of this year an opportunity and I write in my “Opportunity book” each time I post.     In the words of another blogging friend, Georgette, (Georgette Sullin’s Blog)  it has become my “signature.”  If you overlooked why I started mentioning my book called Opportunity, you can read about it in Chapter One.

So on to the 7 X 7 Link Award.  The premise of this award requires a little contemplation and mulling things over because the recipient is asked to review all of the posts he/she has written to date and select seven posts that fit nicely into seven categories.

Sound easy?  Not when you realize you’ve written 296 posts!  And can I just say right here, right now, that I’m a tad indecisive?  So this actually was a bit of a daunting task for me.

But I prevailed!  I purposely chose some earlier posts because many of my subscribers have read my recent rantings writing, but perhaps overlooked some of my earlier work.  So now, drum roll please…. here are my 7 choices in the 7 categories:

1)    Most Beautiful –   I find beautiful things tend to make me cry and since I usually write from my heart, many of my posts are a little damp with tears.    Narrowing down a choice for this category wasn’t easy but I finally decided that the words of my son, which I quoted in this post, were some of the most beautiful sentiments I’ve ever heard, so it must be Come For Me Reflections.

2)    Most Helpful – Written on one of my quirky, trying to see the bright side of the empty nest syndrome days, this one, How to Cope Humor, might be helpful to someone facing the same ailment.  Hopefully, it will give you a chuckle as well.

3)    Most PopularWhen Nature Shows No Mercy remains my most popular entry because it was my first and only Freshly Pressed post.  If my memory serves me right, it squatted on the FP page for a few days, acquiring almost 10,000 hits.  Wow, I felt so popular then! (Way better than being in the high school “in crowd,” which I wasn’t!)

4)    Most Controversial – I’m not a fan of being controversial.  I tend to avoid confrontations in my private and public life, so Apology Please was the best I could come up with for this category (unless you count the time I was on a real rant and wrote how tired I was of people’s excuses).

5)    Most Surprisingly Successful  – One day I fell, literally.  And taking a nose dive actually gave me fodder for my post, Fallen and Can’t Get Up.  I didn’t expect it to hit high on the stats chart or garner the comments it received, so this one surprised me.

6)    Most Underrated –   You’ve Got Mail just flowed from my head to my fingers to my computer.   I liked it as soon as I wrote it, but I don’t think it ever got the attention it deserved.

7)    Most Pride Worthy –  Another post, Come Sail Away, has been one of my favorites.  It popped into my head when I viewed the picture that accompanies it.  So if I have to choose a post I’m proud of,  I’m pleased with what I wrote there.  Again, it was one of those easy to write, flowing from my heart, inspired by God kind of posts.

And now comes the second part of the award stipulations,  passing the 7 X 7 Link Award on to seven other bloggers.   I visit quite a few blogs from time to time, but in addition to Diana’s and Georgette’s blogs (who both already have received this award), I find myself always reading these seven:

1)    Homestead Rambling’s Blog 

2)    Saturday Evening Porch

3)    Nikole Hahn’s Journal

4)    ElsiePhoebe’s Blog

5)    Coming East 

6)    Play 101

7)    The Real Full House

If you’re on my list of seven and you’re not into awards, don’t fret.  You don’t have to accept the award or pass it on, just sit back and maybe enjoy some new readers.

If you’re not on this list, please know that I follow directions, and the instruction are to only pick seven.  There are so many of you out there whose blogs I enjoy and today on this 8th page in Chapter 12 of my Opportunity book, I’ve already read most of them.

©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com