Light from Last Year

As I made my way around the corner, light from our basement stairwell startled me. My children are notorious for leaving on the lights throughout the house, but this time I was the only one awake and certain that I had turned off all lights before going to bed the night before. The glare from the stairs was unexpected and demanded investigation.

I made my way down the steps, and as I reached the bottom landing, I had to smile. The radiant light was shining through the artwork completed a year ago on our basement windows. The sun had not shone in a few days and its rays were something I really needed and appreciated in that quiet moment.

The windows found in my home and those around the globe, may not have held a candle to the ones found in our parish churches, but they allowed a creative light to shine in our hearts and homes last spring. In the throws of pandemic quarantine, I sought ways to bring joy and creativity to my children’s activities. As Easter approached and the weather kept us indoors, I joined thousands of other parents giving kids permission to paint their windows. Using tempera paint we created “stained glass” windows.

At the time, this was a fun and uplifting experience. Now, the fear and anxiety that came with the haunting pandemic are lessened and the pressures of what to do with ourselves in those uncertain times have diminished, but the artwork on our windows is still there brightening our days.

I could wash the windows and take down the reminder of what COVID 19 did to our lives last spring, but keeping the color on those panes has also been a positive prompt encouraging us to keep faith in spite of fear and that things will improve if we find ways to stay optimistic. It is in the light of last year that we can feel pride in our resourcefulness and gratitude for what we have accomplished and the continued blessings of our lives. So if you are feeling down or there is a darkness hanging over you, please know that there is light at the end of every tunnel and even the most stained of windows have the ability to let brightness shine in you.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Washing windows is a sad subject because washing windows makes me sad. Please don’t ask me to was these windows. 🙂

Luck is in the Eye of the Observer – March Positivity Challenge

Have you ever witnessed someone’s success and thought, “Man, that guy is so lucky!”?

As the college basketball season wraps up with the wonders of the national championship tournament, I am enthralled with the games and the amazing feats of the players on the court. All too often I take for granted that the men and women making those shots and executing impressive defenses worked countless hours and put in immeasurable efforts to be there.

I will sometimes find myself saying snarky things like, “Must be easy if you’re 7-feet tall to block that shot” or “Come on! You’re a Division I basketball player; make your free throws.” My jeers and cheers often fall short of the reality that those athletes are under a great deal of pressure, and my yoga-pant-wearing, couch-coaching isn’t providing any assistance or luck to anyone.

Luck is usually a trait that is determined by someone observing a situation. Yes, we can feel lucky because of a positive experience or encounter, but for the most part we consider ourselves to not be as “lucky” as everyone else because we always see someone else’s wishes coming true.

I am reminded of a my last basketball game in the 8th grade. My sister, whom I had always played with on the same team, was in the hospital recovering from a life-saving surgery, and our team and I were playing our arch rivals from Perryville. It was the consolation game of the end of season tournament, and I wanted nothing more than to win that game for my sister. The entire game was a close one. With 10 seconds left, we were tied. After I tied the game with a free throw, the other team was brining the ball down the court.

Their player, a girl who I seriously did not like, dribbled past our guards and stopped right in front of me. She shot. My finger tips grazed the ball.

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Make Things Go Right – Wise Words Wednesday

My spring anxiety has been full throttle lately, and after a super duper coffee date with my gal pal Erin, I don’t think I’m alone. She shared own version of the springtime stress out with me. Erin said she has also been feeling weighed down by a lot of stuff that she can’t control. We both were experiencing some crazy symptoms of stress. Have you been feel extra anxious or has your heart been beating faster lately or sleep been elusive?

If you answered, “yes,” to any of those, today’s post is for you.

“Being afraid of things going wrong isn’t the way to make things go right.”

Five months ago, you may remember that an election was held in our country. Prior to the election, tempers were flared and fear was prevalent in every aspect of our lives thanks to media coverage and unprecedented exposure to the candidates and their opinions. Unfortunately, the political circus left us all feeling like there were only two extreme options for leading our nation. Those drastic options caused most of us to believe, no matter who was elected, we would not be represented in the highest offices of our government. The new leadership has taken its place and the fears and uncertainty have morphed in new ways.

Here’s the beauty of todays’ message. We can’t let worry over what is going to go wrong consume us, because we can’t necessarily change the what-if’s. We can do our best to serve our nation in ways that are honest, right, and diligent. The concerns that we had before the election are things of the past, and we have the power now to move forward with our actions and intents. We have to elect to be rational, respectful, and responsible citizens and let those same attributes preside over our attitudes.

As the season is changing, so too should our outlook and the way we handle stresse caused by things out of our control.

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Up In Flames – Burning for Happiness

Burning rituals have been a part of society since civilizations first took shape. It seems that the act of allowing flames to consume things has healing properties. While the ceremonies of burning rituals do not all contain the same supply list or formal procedures, they all do have two things in common: fire and something to burn.

Valentine's burning ritual. #valentines | Friends season 1 episodes, Friends  season 1, Friends show

On a recent getaway with some of my gal pals, we lamented emotions and worries that were weighing heavily on us. As we sought respite in food, drinks, and re-runs of Friends, we were inspired (in part by Phoebe’s idea in “The One with the Candy Hearts”) to have our own burning ritual.

We would each write down the things that were weighing on us and then toss them in the fire. (Our rental cabin had the MOST amazing fireplace.) It took no time at all for each of us to jot down the issues we would like to see go up in flames. Before we decided to just willy-nilly toss our troubles into the fire, we thought it would be best to research burning rituals to see if there was anything that would increase the effectiveness of our sacrifice.

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Committing to a Vacation…A Good Kind of Scare

Who doesn’t need or want a vacation?

After the last 12 months of COVID crisis, presidential and political craziness, and wacked out weather, I am certain we all deserve a vacation.

So, why is it so hard to commit to a vacation?

For me there are three major factors.
1. Cost
2. Commitment phobia
3. I have too much to do.

All of which are bologna.

1. Taking a break or getting away does not have to cost an arm and a leg.

2. Committing to do something makes it that much more valuable.

3. What am I gonna do with all my to-do’s if I don’t take a break before I have a breakdown?

For others, fear of committing to a vacation is based on things to actually be afraid of such as: medical conditions, occupational duties, pets, hurricanes, and pandemics. With awareness of the need for concern, we also have to acknowledge the need to take a break when we can.

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My Butt is Frozen

Temperatures have not risen above freezing here in 12 days and are not projected above 30 degrees for two more days. That’s a whole lot of frozen! Each and every time we go out, we prepare to freeze our butts off. (Thankfully, none of us has actually lost a tushy to frost bite.)

When the weather conditions are this extreme, we get a lot of folks wondering if the horses and cows are ok. While they may be tired of the waters freezing up and eating dry hay, the animals are doing alright. Newborn calves make things a bit dicey, but we do our best to accommodate them and their mamas.

The thing that we always explain to folks is that Mother Nature (as crazy as she may be) prepares animals long before the weather changes to be ready for the extreme conditions. They are built with layers of fat under their thick winter coats and are conditioned naturally to adapt for snow, ice, and wind. In fact, they knowingly turn their hind ends into the wind to form a barrier giving them the perpetual frozen butt appearance.

The snow forms a blanket on their hair and actually insulates the animals. The covering stops wind and hardens into a pocket of warm air between the snow and animal’s coat. Yes, the animals will also hunker down in hay, straw, or on the backsides of drifts to block wind and insulate themselves with body heat, but for the most part they just keep eating and drinking to stay warm and happy.

When it comes to keeping our livestock fed and watered, farmers have to maintain equipment that is thawed and running. Trucks and tractors are particularly problematic when it comes to making things move because, once they are frozen, it’s tough to get them going. Of course, we plug in the engines that have electric warmers and put additives into the diesel tanks, but -10 degrees is sometimes too cold for the preventative practices and often we find ourselves with frozen butts waiting for a truck or tractor engine to turn over and start. We always find ways to get grain and hay to the animals and work tirelessly to ensure that water is available for drinking.

As we face this frozen phase in winter, please keep the farmers and utility workers in your thoughts and prayers. There are no virtual options for clearing roads, fixing powerlines, delivering goods, or providing food for our homes. Some folks are freezing their butts off to keep electric on, services available, and cars out of ditches. While we can’t give them all heated seats or hot tubs to soak at the end of the day, we can say prayers, send supportive messages, and offer them acts of kindness when the opportunity arises. Nothing warms the heart like a sincere “Thank you,” a hug, or a cup of coffee for a job well done. Be safe. Enjoy the beauty of the snow. And take time to appreciate everyone out there with frozen butts and jobs to do.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Atticus and my kids thought I was crazy when I wanted to take a picture of his butt. I guess Mother Nature and I have a lot in common; we are crazy and have lots to teach them.

Who Do You Think of When You Mop?

Who do you think of when you mop?

This may seem like an unusual question, but in the grand scheme of things there isn’t a chore or task that we don’t relate with someone else. While I mop, I am usually mentally cussing my family for being so messy, but before the floor is dry I almost always think of Mary Scott.

Who is Mary Scott?

Well, Mary was a shift manager at the Dairy Queen where I worked as a teenager.

Mary was a tough manager because she did not appreciate horseplay, slacking off, or sneaking bites of cookie dough toppings that weren’t paid for. She appreciated a job well done and sought to provide quality customer service to each customer that came through the door. She also really liked making the Blizzards thick enough to turn upside down each time one was ordered.

Many of my co-workers did not like the job of cleaning the dinning room at the end of the night. I didn’t mind it because it was easier to get clean than the hamburger grease in the kitchen. Sweeping, wiping down tables and doors, bathroom supply checks, and mopping the floor were easy enough tasks to get done so I could get out of there at the end of my shift. One night, Mary watched me mop around the last tables and the floor in front of the soda fountains. I asked if everything was okay. She smiled and said she really liked when I or my sister closed the front because it would be done right. “You girls know how to work. That’s for sure,” she added.

I don’t know why her words have stuck with me, but each time I lug a mop and bucket to clean a floor, I remember the pride I felt in her compliment. Her words also inspired me to always do the best job I could. I wanted to be the person who did a job right. Sometimes I was tempted to cut corners in my cleaning, like my colleagues having water fights in the back, but Mary’s words always caused me to be someone she could count on.

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Full Moon Fallout

Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

With the power to cause oceanic chaos and mythological changes of men into wolves, it’s no wonder the moon also has the ability to disturb sleep. With a full moon’s glow glaring down last night, my entire household found it tough to rest. When I finally did coax our kiddos to sleep, my own rest was hard to restore. The dreams I had seemed to be more vivid and comfort harder to conceive.

Hubby always complains during the fullest phase of the moon that his sleep pattern is off (and he can normally sleep through anything).

Does the full moon keep you from sleeping well?

As we worked in the barns today, one of our farm hands complained of not sleeping well the last two nights and couldn’t figure out why. I told him it was probably the full moon and he laughed at me. Hubby and I both tried to explain that the full moon frequently poses problems for us when it comes to getting sleep.

Dealing with the typical millennial response, I did what any logical person would do. I Googled it.

I found a terrific article by George Citroner on http://www.healthline.com about the full moon’s ability to affect sleep. The article, “Can a Full Moon Affect Your Sleep?”, talked about a study done on the sleep patterns of three groups of people: those will no electricity, those with limited electricity, and a group from an urban setting with full electricity. The article supported what I already believed to be true. The days leading up to a full moon are those we are most likely to get the least sleep in all types of communities.

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The Sounds of Snow and Relieving Stress

The snow globe is filling.

I’m no Robert Frost, but I am an admirer of hearing “the only sound’s the sweep, of easy wind and downy flake.” I’m not an enthusiast of freezing precipitation and the havoc it wreaks on roadways, but I am a fan of the peaceful nature of falling snow and an even bigger admirer of Fridays. Fridays are the highlight of the week, but a Friday in a world that looks like a snow globe is a special treat.

The peaceful nature of today’s snowfall felt like a call to drop all the worries and stressors that have been weighing me down. The dance of flakes in a symphony of spiraling, soft landings seemed to lower my stress level and reminded me to just let go of the silly stuff that I can’t control. (Hopefully I don’t sound too much like the Frozen soundtrack.)

If you are not in a place where you can see or hear the snow, I hope you will enjoy this clip from my front porch.

The sights and sounds as the snow began to fall harder this morning

The Intentergy message for today is to let the falling snow be your call to peace. Even if for only a minute or two, taking in the frosty scene can help you forget what’s wrong with the world and the blanket of white can be a clean slate allowing you to find calm.

Slow down.

See the world for the beautiful and chaotic snow globe that it is.

Let the simple pleasure of flakes falling be the counterweight to your worries and find some balance between stress and serenity. While we are like Robert Frost in that there are probably miles and miles to go before we sleep, we can be grateful for the opportunity to watch these woods fill up with snow and empty our emotional overloads as we enjoy the sights and sounds of this wintery season.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. If there’s enough snow, you can throw some snowballs to get frustrations out as well. A very peaceful practice!

P.P.S. My allusions to Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” do not have to stop here. I am so glad we are past “The darkest evening of the year,” and the day light is blissfully growing longer.

An Important Part of Success – Wise Words Wednesday

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

It’s very rare to find someone who masters a skill with only one attempt. In fact, the attempts that we remember are usually the ones where we seemed to fail the greatest. While I haven’t had any huge failures to report as of late, I do have some pretty spectacular ones from the past and they have all helped me to find success in new ways.

One particular failure that came to mind was when I was first given the chore of mowing our lawn. I was 9 years old and my parents got a brand new Snapper riding mower. My dad showed me how to start the engine and the blades, turn the steering handles, and proudly set me off to mow down our unruly front yard. The one lesson that didn’t sink in was how to stop. On my first pass, I ran that mower right up the woven wire fence in our side yard. Fortunately, I was not injured, and the mower was okay (I think it gave up when I bailed from the seat.)

My dad came running and asked what the heck I was doing.

“Mowing the yard,” I screeched back through adrenaline and embarrassment. He pulled the mower off the fence, turned it around, and told me to get back on. We then practiced how to start and stop the machine before I was let loose on the lawn again.

I can’t say I never had another incident with a mower, but I can say that I became much more aware of what I did and did NOT know about a piece of equipment before I accepted the job of working with it. Now I know exactly what questions to ask before Dad or Hubby put me to work with a new tractor, truck, mower, rake, or baler. I know that to be successful with those implements, I have to possess working knowledge of they start and stop. It makes for a much more productive day on the farm.

“Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington

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