Walking the Cat!

Walking the cat? Are you crazy? I can hear your surprised and amused comments and I first thought that too. Until my soon to be daughter-in-law suggested for me to start walking our cat Smokey. She walks her cat Smokey Joe outside and has been for a while.

 

 

Our two cats have always been inside cats. The reason is that we’ve lost two cats in the past, one to a coydog and one got run over in front of our house. We live on an intersection of two busy roads and don’t want to risk our cats being run over. With that said, with our cat Katie it’s always been easy. She loves being inside and secure and seems very content with her home. The few times our kids have brought her out she freaked out in fear. Our youngest cat Smokey is another story. He was born a barn cat and spent a little time outdoors with his mother before we got him. He’s always had a free spirit and would run out whenever he could.

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The last year or so it’s been worse. One time he got out and ran up our neighbors hill. I was afraid that he wouldn’t return and roam the nearby woods and find trouble. With both my sons’ help, we gathered him up and brought him back home. It was then that I knew we had a problem and we had to give him his outside time as he wishes for.

 

 

Branden and I bought a harness and leash in a pet store and started putting on the harness so he would get used to it. We take him on fifteen minute adventures most everyday except on rainy days. The funny thing is that he doesn’t even whine to go out on cloudy and rainy days. Must be that water thing…that cats just don’t like to get wet.

 

Smokey either wants to roll in the dirt, eat grass or hunt. The hunting aspect is a challenge and worry as I don’t want him to kill. There are little chipmunks around the yard and they know of his presence. One time I saw a poor little scared one tucked in between our fuel tank and the house. I felt so sorry for him that I immediately brought the cat inside. Who knows how long he/she would’ve been able to hide there!

 

So the “catwalk” continues…which really isn’t one as he walks in a low position and never gains ground as he stops here and there. There are many smells and textures of this outside world that Smokey has to learn. As he learns, I hope he can have some polite manners. Sometimes he growls or hisses at Branden and I if we take him in another direction from what he wants. The reason we do this is because of the birds and chipmunks and we don’t want him in the Poison Ivy.

After walking the cat I realize the differences between cats and dogs. I think dogs will follow you where you wish them to go, where cats have a mind of their own and get ticked off if they don’t get their way. Oh well, I signed up for this when we got our cats. I have no regrets as I buckle the harness for Smokey’s daily walk. Who knows what we will find but I do know he’s happier with the outside trek and that makes me happy as well.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

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Saying NO

Credits, from Facebook page Becoming minimalist

I look back upon my busy years of raising sons and keeping our family afloat during times of baseball games and commitments, appointments, school, my college classes, work and housework and I wonder how I did it all. I guess I was young enough with a never ending energy that helped me get through. Life was good but busy! Being busy isn’t always good for you, because you run through life at full speed and forget to slow down and relax.

My son’s baseball team a few years back, the Lisbon Panthers. He’s number 11 in the huddle.

I remember my schedule during baseball season. I loved going to Dylan’s baseball games, they were exciting and it was so much fun seeing him and his teammates play. But it was busy, going to baseball games three times a week and sometimes four. I didn’t have time to make supper for Tom and I know he didn’t like it. I scrambled to find time to do laundry and regular housework as well because I really was never home.

 

I don’t have regrets, believe me. I loved and still love baseball and that feeling of showing up for my son. I do have one regret though. I wish I would’ve said “No” more often to baking for fundraisers and other commitments I should’ve passed on. I was trying desperately to be the perfect mom where I should’ve just said no for my sanity and peace instead.

Warm up at the Senior game a few years ago.
Dylan at bat

I read somewhere that being busy isn’t Godly. I don’t know if I agree, but I do agree with the fact that it’s too rushed and that when you are busy(especially if you are a mother and wife), there’s no time to be quiet and still. In those silent moments a sense of tranquility grows. It’s a time to stop the thoughts and put down the to-do list and just be. If a mom can learn to settle and slow down, then her children will learn from her and reap all the benefits from it.

 

Now it’s easier to say no to events and commitments that aren’t in my heart. Sometimes we moms and wives need to take time for us, to pass on the eternal “yes”answer. For you young moms out there, give yourself permission to say no when it can’t be done or you don’t feel it in your heart. Everyone will be okay and people will respect your answer and move on. No one cares if you say yes or no and if they do, then it’s their baggage and not yours.

I hope you all are enjoying the month of June and finding time to slow down. That quiet time is great for self reflections and with that you and your family will be so much stronger and peaceful because of it.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Blue Bellflowers

My favorite gardening activity right now is making new beds and creating beautiful spaces around our home. The first summer we were here we planted Hostas in the front that bloom in August. The following year we added two Spirea bushes, gifts from my friend and co-worker Laura. Our niece Michele gifted us a cool shady tropical looking plant and I bought a few Astilbe plants for the shady side of the house. Last year I had so much fun adding a new garden with yellow Coreopsis and deep purple  Echinacea Coneflowers.

My new little garden is on under the window next to the door. This full picture of our renovated house shows how small the space is.

All winter I dreamed of designing a new small space about two feet wide to the left of our door, our only real entrance that we use frequently. First I thought of daisies but they need spaces to flow, like a field for the area behind my vegetable garden. Next I wished for a Hydrangea bush but that would be too big for this space. Finally I decided on a whim to search for random flowers that may speak to me.

 

The other day  I set out for Lowe’s and Home Depot. I wished for something that would look beautiful and fit that area just right. I found these Taikon Blue Bellflowers on the clearance rack at Lowe’s for $3.00, half price. I’m not sure why they were marked off other than a few blossoms gone by. My son’s friend works there and helped me tag it. It was a good feeling to find something and at a perfect thrifty price!

After digging a hole with Tom’s trusty shovel and planting it, I mulched and lined it with rocks we have around the property. I call it my “Love Garden” as it hosts my heart-shaped rocks and upon entering our door you can feel the love in this house. It’s sappy but I know it’s true.

Most of the flower photos I share will be outside ones. I have never been able to keep cut flowers nor plants inside because of our cats. They eat all the leaves and blossoms and dig trenches in the dirt. Not pretty for a beige living room carpet! There is one special place I keep my picked posies, on my little mantle on our chimney. I like to change them every week or two with local pickings. Today I have wild daisies and another wild purple flower as well as picked roses. They truly make my day happy, it’s the little things that I find joy in. Do you find peace and joy in gardening flowers?

I’m wondering if anyone else has made a new flower bed recently? If so, what did you plant and what companion plants do you have?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

A Garden Update

It has been very hot and dry here in New Hampshire. With just a one day of rainfall until yesterday, I was becoming good friends with our new garden hose (Thanks so much to Tom and Dylan for setting up the outside faucet and hose for me). I’ve been trying to save my frail cucumber plants. Have you ever had trouble getting yours growing? I have…even with a daily watering habit the cucumbers are floppy and the stems are white. This happens to my tender plants early in the season if the weather is hot.

 

Thankfully the day before yesterday we had a deluge of rain, perking up my green plants and moistening the garden soil. It’s amazing how a significant rainfall can make a difference with their well-being. With a blink of the eye, the growth is unbelievable!

Here is our little corn patch, four meager rows. Tom and Branden love corn and I enjoy it too. I made the decision to rotate its placement.  Last year the corn rested on the East side facing, where the sun comes up and this growing season it’s on the West side.

My green beans have sprouted nicely forming an L shape in the East corner. I hope they are close enough to the fence to intertwine the vine on it. It would be cool to pick beans off the fence.

As most of you may know, I planted a bed of sunflowers for my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding in August. Here is a recent photo of one and even now, with the rainstorm, it’s a few inches taller. Next Tom and I plan to fence it in to protect it from deer and woodchucks. I’m grateful that I can do this and really hope they will be ready to pick by the 18th.

How are your gardens doing? Have you spent much time nurturing and talking to your plants as I have? I think that’s my mother-in-law’s success with growing flowers is simple, talk to them everyday and love them. You can’t go wrong with love, don’t you agree?

I hope you all are having a pleasant week. I plan to catch up and read many of your blog posts.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

One Small Sticker, One Huge Heart

I am always looking for special moments throughout the day, occurrences that restore my faith in humanity. Sometimes it’s a wide smile and a pat on the back…others times, it’s witnessing adults and students helping each other with a kindness that will surely change our world.

 

 

About six weeks ago at 7:20 with a steamy mug of tea in hand and my school bag slung over my shoulder, I walked the path to the school building. It seemed like any other work day. But little did I know I would receive a surprise at the door. A smiling eighth grader sat on the pavement with a book of bright glittery stickers. “Do you want a sticker?” Brendan Wall asked me. This was strange to me, for I am always  giving out stickers to my students, but no one has ever asked me!

 

I immediately thought that it was a special gesture, especially early in the morning. This was a sure sign that this kids heart was in the right place! From that day on, the sticker collection grew. Brendan would have sheets fanned out on the walk with surrounding kids waiting for a sticker to start the day. He would generously hand them out to students and teachers. Smiling and laughing kids and a genuine happiness hung in the air…simply from a sticker.

 

Brendan told me that he hands out the little stickers “because it makes people happy and that makes me happy.” He said some people ask if he wants money and the answer is always no, “because people don’t need to pay for their happiness!” he stated proudly.

 

I remember having this young man in reading a few years ago. What an inspiring gift it is, to see what good he is doing for the school community now! I’m not sure how Brendan got this fantastic inspiration ( I should have asked him) but I do know that with this simple sticker and kind smile, he’s contributing to a healthy and positive school climate. It sends a simple message that you can spread goodness and kindness with a small token but affect others in a huge way!

Upon taking these photos on the last day, Brendan gave out his sticker sheets for the summer. I didn’t ask him if this project would be ongoing and since he’ll be in high school, I expect it may change. One thing that won’t change is Brendan’s huge heart and his gifts of kindness to others. Maybe someday this young man will have a promising career serving others.

Thank you to Brendan for letting me share his story. Also a huge thanks to his mom for her permission to take photos and write about him. She must be a proud mama to have such a giving son and I’m sure her love and kindness has positively influenced him.

As you go about your day, how can you spread kindness and generosity in small ways? If we all do this, in these special and small moments, our world will definitely be a better place! I hope you will feel inspired from this young man and do your part to spread love and kindness to others!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

aka “Mrs. Blowey” as Brendan knows me

First Day of Summer Vacation

Hello All,

This was my first day of summer vacation and my 49th birthday! I woke to no alarm…just sun glinting in my windows and my sleeping cat Smokey at my feet. I think he thought something was wrong as it was a little later than usual. It was grand taking my time as I sipped my cup of coffee and had toast with honey and butter.

 

I spent the morning walking around our yard and weeding and working with my flowers. It took a little time clipping off gone by lilac flowers but it was great satisfaction to take care of it. My dad told me you should clip them off every year.

 

Here is my favorite bird bath my niece Michele made from re-purposed dishes and cups. The bottom piece fell and broke but we managed to re-glue it so hopefully it will be strong in the summer winds. I have yet to spy a bird land in its beautiful bath dish but look forward to that!

 

June is amazing here! Flowers have emerged everywhere, with bursting colors to brighten yards and decks. Out back we have pink and white wildflowers growing in patches here and there. Tom said that the state plants them on roadsides and so on our little country drives we get to see them.

A stand of maples shade our back yard, where soon our deck will be. Wind chimes flutter in the breeze and I hear the tinkling little music that blends in with chirping robins.

Tom and his friend Mike worked with Mike’s tractor to smooth our back yard and get rid of a huge clump of dirt. Soon we will plant grass and put up a little fence bordering the dirt road. That way we will have a little needed privacy on our deck.

That’s all for now! Summer officially begins! I look forward to waking without an alarm and to my own rhythm. My time will be spent catching up with a few household chores, working in my veggie garden and outside flower beds. I truly hope to read all of your posts and catch up as much as I can. Thanks for stopping by and check in now and then for summer posts!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

Have FAITH

Sometimes heavy thoughts weigh on my mind, steamrolling anything light and positive. Those times I lose faith and dig in, assuring myself that I can beat the terrible thoughts and overcome them by myself. This has happened this week….an issue has been building up for a couple of years, something I thought threatened me and my family. I bucked hard against the negativity but many times gave in. When I did this my self-esteem plunged, I questioned my life and how it’s going and many things that I’ve always expected to be a certain way.

 

I cried a lot. I felt so defeated and defensive and uncertain of my future. Through all this tribulation, I forgot who to trust. I didn’t pray. Because of this drastic mistake, the situation in my mind grew to enormous lengths and I hit rock bottom. Not trusting in the creator leads to these doomsday ideas and thoughts. Not praying and believing in Him makes it the end of the world.

 

 

Thankfully I talked to my mom and she prayed. We both prayed to God. We prayed for strength, comfort and the ability to knock these low self-esteem thoughts from me. Mom prayed for a sign. She said, “Lord, send Mary a sign that you are listening and you have this situation under control, Amen.”

 

Lately I’ve prayed for sick relatives and friends. I’ve prayed for many things but not my life nor for myself. I forgot to do this. Then my mom’s prayers opened up those  gates I had put up and allowed me to pray again. I prayed early in the morning over coffee. I  prayed while performing chores. I quietly prayed at night under the silent covers.

 

This morning I looked over at my June calendar in my kitchen. My dad made this wooden calendar and I decorate it differently every month. On June first I had placed the wooden letters that spell, FAITH on the top. Yet everyday I wrestled with this situation I didn’t even notice FAITH until this morning. Maybe on June first God knew I would battle this and led me to putting up the letters. Maybe not…but I”d like to think he was behind it.

All in all, everything is fine. My marriage is strong and loving, despite my past worries and anxiety. We are happy and strong. We love each other. My inner image is a work in progress. I continue to pray for a strong self-image, for confidence and peace within the depths of my soul.

I thank God for pulling me out of the depths of despair and self-doubt. I am okay and I will destroy the terrible thoughts from my head. Sometimes those negative thoughts take up too much space and I feel the only way to combat it is to pray. Praying restores that sense of peace, a place I wish to be in to live a happy life.

I hope you all are having a great week! This week is my last at school, finishing up on Thursday with a good workshop on Trauma and kids. After that Tom and I have the summer ahead of us, with many exciting adventures. One is our oldest son, Dylan getting married in August.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul