Showing posts with label From the Heart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label From the Heart. Show all posts

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Everything Will Be OK - A Personal Diary Entry

 

Everything Will Be OK

One of my favorite personal affirmations to pass along to friends and family in their hour of need is, "everything will be OK."

Let's Review the Phrase "Everything Will Be OK" or Just "OK"

The word "OK" can be magnificently soothing. If you haven't tested out that theory with text messages, give it a try.

Not long ago, I discovered that receiving the "OK" response to a text I've sent to family or friends, especially a lengthier text, is absolutely calming and instantly soothing. How about you?

Why the Words OK are Soothing

Here's my conclusion about this: We live in a world of constant information, turmoil, debates, disagreements, and multiple stresses - and when someone responds back to us with the simple words "OK," we're lifted away from the edge for that moment.

When my kids respond to my texts or verbal requests with "OK," I'm immediately disarmed and relieved. I am keenly aware of being "yessed," so I'm not speaking about that baloney. A sincere "OK," acknowledging that you've been heard, and there's actual consensus, is what I'm referencing - wow! Isn't that nice?

I Like to Hand Out OKs

Whenever possible, I respond with "OK" or the more detailed version, "everything will be OK." Since discovering what these responses do for me, I seek out as many honest moments as possible to say "OK" to others. It's such a gift.

I'll respond with OK to the most mundane things whenever I get the chance. Try it. Here's an example, "mom, I'll be late for dinner" - my response 'OK.' Just a simple 'OK' is what I'll use whenever possible. Here's another boring example, "hun, I'll be home shortly, can you be in the driveway to help me unload the groceries?" my hubby's response, "OK." I can't express how much I appreciate that short, agreeable text!

Our lives are filled with so much emotion that often, telephone conversations go off into unrelated tangents. A simple response and truthful acknowledgment of "OK" via text is the next best thing to therapy, in my personal opinion! Just kidding about the therapy part, but it does help! That's how much I appreciate it and love to hand out an OK as much as receive one.

Currently, my friend is going through a traumatic life event, and I've said "everything will be ok" to her multiple times. She needed to hear the sheer possibility of it all -  I could honestly say this phrase because it is legitimately what I believe. 

Is the Self-Fulfiling Prophecy at Work?

There's no doubt; what we believe is our truth. As that quote goes, whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.

Since my truth is that everything will be OK, I'm sure I'm subconsciously taking steps to ensure it happens. Whether the issue is something involving life and death, or personal strife, I absolutely believe that in the end, "everything will be OK." 

At the moment, I have mountains going on in my life. My mom is dangerously unwell, another friend's husband almost died in a vehicle accident, and I have other personal issues I'm sorting through. However, I still believe everything will be OK.

Will I cry? Is it stressful? Am I overwhelmed at times? Yes, to all. 

BUT in my soul, there's an untouchable place, a place that only belongs to me and my higher power. For respite, I retreat there. I know to my core that everything will be OK. This truth shapes my life.

I'm not sure where all this hope inside of me comes from, but it lives - it's a real thing.

Here's a poem I penned decades ago about holding onto inner peace, that place that belongs only to you and your higher power, no matter the storms.

Take Me To Your Beautiful
50 Years of Poems By Barbara Tremblay Cipak Available on Amazon



Additional Diary Entries:





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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

September, the Month to Prepare for Traveling Birds! A Hobby Review!

September is a month that is generally full of all kinds of changes.  Notably, children are going back to school and the days are quickly getting shorter and cooler.

Autumn is definitely in the air and I know I have already been witness to the geese starting to gather and fly in their typical V-formation.  

Birds that have spent the better part of the summer in the north are preparing themselves for the long trek back to their southern winter spots.  But, and here's the important part, it is a long way for them to go and they need our help.


Typically we are all familiar with the Geese that make their way to the south, but there are a host of other birds that also migrate.  According to Cornell Labs there are about 650 species of birds in North American and about half of those are migratory.

Why do they migrate?  Most of these birds leave their resting places to move north to their breeding grounds.  This is hard work for the birds, but instincts make them do this perilous journey at least twice a year. 

Many of us wait eagerly for those pretty little hummingbirds that make their way to the north and we do fill our feeders with sugar water to satisfy their hunger.  But in September, you might just notice that those feeders are being visited more often.  Even though there are plenty of flowers for them to feed on, they know they will be making a long trek soon.  They are filling up their reserves for that journey.  So please don't stop filling your hummingbird feeders just yet.

Most North American songbirds are migratory.  Yet there are other bigger birds that also move from the north to the south in the cooler autumn months.

Let's concern ourselves with the smaller birds for now.  How can you help them?

  • Keep your feeders full of good nutritious seeds is the first way to help. 
  •  Make sure there is a good clean source of water for them too.  All that flying around is hard work.  
  • Gardeners, please leave your seed heads in place! Don't clean up your garden just yet!  Migratory birds love sunflowers, but will also eat seeds from other plants as well.  A natural garden will attract those little birds quite nicely.  
These are just a few little things you can do to help them on their way.  

Learning about these migratory birds and what their needs are will make them happy to stop at your yard for some refreshment and food.


Bird migration happens twice a year, yet we never seem to get tired of seeing our favorite birds making their way to us in spring time and then leaving us again come autumn.  Let's help them as much as we can by being a safe and bird friendly place for them to stop and refuel.  It doesn't take much effort, and you will enjoy the beauty of those little creatures as they make their way south!

If you want to know more there is plenty of information available on the Internet.  There are many bird watching clubs in several states and provinces.  If you are really keen on bird watching, I would recommend you join a group of like minded people.  A camera is a must as well.  You will want to start keeping a diary of all the different birds you have seen over the years.


Birdwatching is a hobby that you will keep at for years and years.  Start small and see how much enjoyment you get from seeing with your own eyes, the birds that make these treks across miles and miles.  Start your list and add to it as you become accustomed to finding these little winged creatures.

Helping our birds make their way is just one small pleasure we can have and it isn't hard to do either.

Once you have seen and admired the strength and determination of those little birds, you will have a new appreciation for hard work they put into surviving and thriving.  There are many life lessons here for all of us too!

May you enjoy September, October and November as the skies become magnets for our little bird friends and we become their helpers on the way!




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Sunday, September 5, 2021

How to Accept Change in Your Life

 

A Personal Review - How to Accept Change In Your Life

Life has been challenging for many of us for at least a few years now. 

What's happening around us, directly or indirectly, can seem overwhelming, especially when the issues touch our lives.

Here are My Five Personal Ideas on How to Accept Change and Move Forward:

1. Resist the Natural Urge to Resist the Change

Whether it's moving, a breakup, or a job change, embrace it. 

I know, that sounds impossible and a bit crazy, right? However, trying to embrace the change helps create a mindset that puts us into task-oriented activity to do the things needed to move forward. Despite it being difficult to go through that change, we are progressing through change instead of bathing in dread.


2. Be Solution Oriented

I'm not one to sit inside a problem for too long. It's just not who I am. Over the past four decades, being a solution-oriented person has carried me through a mountain of problems. 

If you're wondering what solution-oriented means, it means to spend your energy solving the problem instead of digging yourself into a pit of despair. 

Be productive with your mind; write down your options, talk to people who can help with the issue, research, and plan your way out. Take action, whatever that may be, and tackle the change with tasks and fortitude.


3.  Don't Suppress Your Emotions - But Don't Dwell on the Negative Either

This doesn't mean you get to yell and scream at people willy-nilly! And it certainly doesn't mean you get a free ticket to the irrationality show. 

Talk out your changes with others who can help. If you need to cry, find a safe shoulder or a private place where you can go ahead and bawl your eyes out. We know most men won't do this, but men need it most to all. I've raised four sons and personally know the emotional suppression that can take place. Break free from your emotional jail.

Once you've allowed your feelings to escape, focus on moving forward. To get through it, you have to go through it.


4. Accept Responsibility For Where You Are in Your Life

For adults, where we are in our life is a result of every choice we've made. That may seem a bit harsh, especially when we've had outside circumstances shape our lives. The operative word there is "shape."

Once we enter adulthood, every choice we make forms who we are; friends, where we live, how we live, schooling, work, relationships. Every one of these areas involves a choice. 

I've long ago come to terms with the fact that I am where I am, problems and all, because of every choice I've made. As much as I like to share my successes, I've accepted that my choices created my world, both good and bad; and yes, there have been some not-so-good times.

I remember sitting at the dinner table with my sons and throwing out this point about accepting responsibility for where you are in life; you should have seen their eyes widen! 

Most of us are rarely ready to accept responsibility for everything in our life until we really think about it and what that means. I'm here today because of series of decisions, or lack of decisions that I made and didn't make. Period.

This can be a freeing mental experience as well. Accepting responsibility has helped to point me in better directions and helped me to cope with adversity with grit. 


5. Choose Your Words Carefully While Going Through Change

The self-fulfilling prophecy is a real thing. The words we speak affect us. While you're going through life's changes, avoid words like hate, hurts, no way, can't, won't, ahole, and any other words that don't serve the solution or move you forward. The only exception to this is when you're having that all-important emotional release moment(s) described in point number three. 

When having a tough time, try 'opposite day.' I use this technique quite often. If inside I'm feeling apprehensive about an upcoming change or problem and all that is real is telling me I should wallow in the depths of despair, I project the polar opposite. 

I do opposite-day until good feelings become a natural feeling. Since I've practiced this so much, the change in my emotions will happen within an hour or less. It may take you longer to go through the faking it process, but you'll eventually master this.

Remember this one thing if nothing else at all;

"Don't let people rent space in your head" - Be your own inner voice, fight for your true self, lead with love and compassion, even when you're not getting any in return. Do it for the greater good. You're part of that greater good as well.

Additional Personal Guidance For Life:

10 Ways to Be Happy Even When Life is a Bucket of Lemons

Top 10 Ways to Manage Stress and Anger

Disclaimer: This is not meant to be medical advice and is not meant to be professional mental advice. I'm not a doctor. I'm just a mom sharing my decades of personal life experience.




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Sunday, August 29, 2021

10 Ways To Be Happy Even When Life is a Bucket of Lemons

 

What? You Can Choose Happiness?

Can you force yourself to be happy? Is that even possible? 

We've seen it written all over the internet, "happiness is a choice."

Is Happiness a Choice?

I think it is a choice. Stress, problems, situations, difficulties ... let's face it; we will ALWAYS have those to deal with.

So, where does the choice come in? 

For me, it's deciding that no matter what living nightmare is going in my world, I'll find a way and moments to speak positively or to simply remember to speak with a smile on my face.

Just because I'm writing an article on "Ways to be Happy" does not mean my life is perfect. Far, far from it! I have issues coming at me daily, but I refuse to be sucked into the pits of  dark energy, or as some see it, "hell."

Ten Personal Ways to Be Happy:

1.  Wear Happiness and Hope

I'm speaking literally right now, wear a piece of clothing or jewelry that says "Happy" or "Hope" on it. You don't have to wear it every day, but on the days you feel you need a pick-me-up, dress up with happiness and hope. Check out what I'm wearing today. My Hope necklace was a gift from a friend. The word hope is my personal word. What's a personal word? It's your go-to repetitive word you call upon to clear your mind. To yourself, repeat your word over and over until you've forgotten what you wanted to forget!

Wearing "Happy" and "Hope"

2. Move Your Body

For those who have health issues, moving can be a serious problem. The good news is that you don't have to head to a gym to get moving! Do anything that involves movement! Housework, cooking, stretches, or, if you can, go for a walk or bike ride. Personally, I work and move at the same time using the Cubii, which I highly recommend. It's under my desk, and I can't say enough positive things about it. I do office work and get a workout at the same time. Pedaling while working is a wonderful stress reliever.

3. Help Other People

I know what you're thinking! Girl, how can I focus on other people when my life is all-consuming? Guess what, force yourself to do it. If talking, texting, or going out with a friend isn't possible, simply pray for them. No matter your belief system, there's nothing wrong with focusing your giving energy on the people in your life.

I do this all the time. I go on prayer bike rides (that's what I call them). I get physical and spiritual exercise all at the same time. I spend a good forty minutes praying for each person in my life. The prayers are specific to their needs. It clears my head, and although I'll never really know if I've helped them in any way, I begin to feel like a whole person again who holds onto love when all else fails.

4. Laugh

A lot of people do this. One of my sons is particularly hilarious, and he does a comedy skit for me almost every day, and he makes my day and changes my mental state every single time. I told him, "if I'm ever in a coma, come in the room and do these skits, and I'll absolutely wake up!" If you don't have a comedian in the family, watch comedians on YouTube. Here, go watch Sebastian Maniscalco; he's frigging hysterical. My funny son has his routines down!

5. Dance, Yah, Dance

Put on some music and dance, by yourself or with someone in the house! Be spontaneous and just do it. Especially if your head is filled with all kinds of non-productive trash. Physical activity helps the body to clear the mind. 

6. Remember About 85% of the Things People Worry About Never Happen

Don't believe me? Here's an article featured on NBC News that talks about how to manage our worry gene. Worrying about things that haven't happened is a particular waste of energy. At first, it's difficult to turn off the worry bug in your head; however, think about all the things you've worried about that never happened! Energy is energy, and worry energy is still energy. Change your vibration using any method you can to refocus your magnetic field on something constructive and positive.

8. Tackle a Personal Project

Taking on a creative project is an ideal way to redirect your energy. Write, knit, draw, paint, or start a DIY home or garden design. Consume your mind with something you are personally vested in. It doesn't have to be something extravagant. Just do it! 

9. Socially Support Your Friends Online

Most of us know of people working a small online businesses. When you're not sure what to do for yourself, that's a good time to start doing for other people. Go visit their web pages or product pages, and share their work and ideas. Take the focus off of yourself and just give of yourself for the benefit of others. It's difficult for many people right now, so I like to help my friends out - it takes me out of my own head, and yes, it makes me happy.

10. Dress for the Day

Working from home or not working at all can drag us into track-suit hell. Make an effort to clean your room every single day. Get dressed into something nice and clean yourself up. Start your day with intention!

Here's an Inspirational Video about Love and Light I Created - I Hope you enjoy it <3 - If Viewing Via Mobile, the Video is Here







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Sunday, August 22, 2021

My Top Ten Ways to Manage Stress and Anger

A Personal Review of Ten Ways to Manage Stress and Anger

Unfortunately, nobody gets to live a stress-free life.

Personally speaking, life has handed me buckets of stress. Keeping myself centered has been an active, neverending exercise.

My Top Ten Ways to Manage Stress & Anger

1. Deep Breathing - One of My Personal Faves

What's great about this technique is, you can do it anywhere. If you're out-and-about and are dealing with a difficult situation or even have a stressful thought, start taking those slow deep breaths. I like to do this to the count of six; count slowly to six as you breathe in and slowly to six as you breathe out.


2. Step Away From the Situation

If you're able to physically remove yourself from a stressful situation, then do it. Take a short walk or remove yourself from the space where the problem or stress persists. If you have to be around the person, or problem, revert to quiet deep breathing exercises. Just focus on your breath so that you're not consumed with negative thoughts. Ultimately walking away, and deep breathing provides you with a distraction. 

The "twenty-four hour rule" is a calming method used in sports with parents. Give it twenty-four hours before you complain to the coach about a matter pertaining to your child. Time offers perspective. It's a terrific technique for all aspects of life.


3. Body Movement - One of My Personal Faves

For me, this one works best most of the time. I need to burn off my stress, which normally involves a bike ride or pedaling like a maniac on the Cubii, conveniently located under my desk. By the way, if you haven't heard of the Cubii, I highly recommend it.


4. Distraction

This one works well for a friend of mine. She's able to perform a task, read, or watch a movie to get her mind off a stressful situation. For me, this doesn't work. However, if you're able to free your mind of a problem using a movie or book as a distraction, go for it!


5. Pray for Other People - One of My Personal Faves

I use this one most of the time. Even though I'm in a stressful situation, I pray for others, and I pray continuously. I go through each person individually, asking for specific things about their life and their needs. By taking the focus off of myself, I find peace and a bit more understanding. 


6. Listen to Music or Motivational Videos or Audio Books

Play positive music or messages. Use headphones to block out the rest of the world. The negativity surrounding us can be overwhelming, never mind adding a stressful moment or event to the mix! Battle that with positive words. Fight the dark energy with light energy.


7. Take Stock of Your Own Mistakes and Faults

I do practice this one. When I'm upset with another person, I actively remember my own mistakes throughout life, and remind myself of my flaws. I try very hard not to give myself anger-freebies and actively reflect upon the mistakes I've made throughout life. When I think about my faults, I have kinder thoughts about the person I'm upset with.


8. Put the Problem in Perspective

Most of us tend to blow up an issue into tangents when pissed off with another person. We start thinking about every other little thing the person did as well as the immediate issue. I think women tend to do this more? When I'm upset about one particular issue, after fuming for a bit, I remember to focus on the issue that needs tending; not a lifetime of issues. Even if other matters have been brushed under the table for a future date to solve, I try to remember to focus on the issue at hand. Not easy.


9. It's O.K. To Be Mad for a While

Allow yourself the time you need to get past the anger stage. You have a right to go through this step! When I'm stressed or upset, especially if it involves another person, I let myself feel those emotions so that I can get past them. When I'm ready, I practice many of the tips I featured above; deep breathing, prayer, music, and so on.


10. When Possible Seek a Solution

Not all problems have a solution, but some do. When you've regrouped and you're past the anger stage, begin the solution process. Unfortunately, only you know what that is. I use this one measure as a guide; if the solution is mutual it's potentially a good start.

Bonus Tip Number 11If you are wrong, apologize. 

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. This isn't professional medical advice. Like most moms, I'm just a mother and grandmother with life experience, sharing my personal tips and discoveries. 




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Sunday, August 1, 2021

A Review of Tough Times and Good People


Every Sunday, except for the past six Sundays, I add a review here on ReviewThisReviews.

Each of the ladies and gents who write for ReviewThisReviews makes a weekly contribution, and others fill in when needed. I'm proud to be associated with this amazing, reliable, and kind group of people. 

You can be confident that the writers here are real people, living real lives, and most of us have known each other for a decade or more. When you read a review by one of these class individuals, you can be sure it's from a genuine experience or straight from the heart.

Life Gets in the Way

I would like to take this Sunday to thank all the writers on ReviewThisReviews, and especially to those who filled in for me these past six Sundays for their support, patience, and dedication.

All of us live human lives, and that, of course, includes good times and bad. These past six weeks have been my personal nightmare, with my mom nearly passing away three times during that span. My mother may be the toughest lady I know! 

My Mother is a Force

Mom has spent her life managing family, working outside the home at times, caring, giving, and disciplining us. She's a strong independent woman who held her own all her life. We call her "small but mighty." She's only small in stature!

Mom has entered the next phase of life. My brother purchased the family home this past month, and mom has moved on to a place where she can get the care she needs. It's a first-class environment with a stunning view of the St. Lawrence Seaway here in Ontario. 

She deserves to live this next phase of life in comfort and class. Although mom isn't 'well' by any stretch of the imagination, she's a fighter and currently holding her own in her new place.

I Didn't Think I'd Get Through These Past Six Weeks - And I NEVER Think Like That

Like my mother, I'm a pretty tough person. I've handled adversity many times in my life. Reviewing my life to date, I'd have to say some of the difficult situations I've encountered have been incredible, even shocking to some. We've always gotten through it ... always.

However, this situation with my mom was brutal. Of course, almost losing her was beyond description, but harder than that was my mom having to wrap her head around the fact that she needed a safer place to live and with care. 

I was mom's personal PSW (personal support worker) for the entire time, and she knew how hard that was for me, for anyone. Yet adjusting to admitting your body is betraying you takes the greatest amount of courage. 

We needed mom to be happy and safe. Solving the problem of her being 'safe' was easier than solving her being happy. In fact, we cannot be someone's happy guru all the time. Probably never. Mom had to step up and handle that part, and so far, she's really giving it her usual tough-gal effort. Perhaps the secret at this point in our lives is to strive for being grateful, then happiness naturally follows?

Thank You ReviewThisReviews

Again, thank you to everyone here for filling in for me, and especially to Cynthia and Pat for all you do. You keep us working together as a team, maintain the site, and along with my fellow contributors, make it the success story it is.

A Video for Mom

Over ten years ago, probably twenty years now, I created this video for my mom. 

I'll close by posting it here in her honor - It's called "If I Could Fly Tonight" - If you're reading this via mobile, the link to the YouTube video is here.








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Sunday, May 30, 2021

10 Free Personal Gift Ideas to Honor Dad


These days, the thought counts more and more.

If you're looking for ways to celebrate dad that involve a personal touch, check out these suggestions.

1. Framed Handprint Art

Have the kids, whether little or big, create a collage of their handprints. If the kids are all grown up, do it anyway, it still makes a beautiful, personal gift. In fact, for adult kids create a collage of everyone's feet - how funny would that be, lol - then frame it. 

2. Create a Collage of Personal Love Messages for Dad

Have the kids write out what they love about dad, glue the messages to a board, frame it, or have it laminated. Keep dad's personal messages from family, from every special occasion in a scrapbook or album. It doesn't matter if you haven't started this tradition in the early years; start it today.

3. Spend Time with Dad

Spend the day with dad, watch movies, go for walks, or play games. Show interest in the things he loves. Or just sit and talk to dad. When our parents are gone, we wish for one more day to be with them. Treat this special day as if it were a magic wish you've been granted.

Have you ever heard "One More Day" by Diamond Rio - Listen to the lyrics; they say it best; they're a moving reminder of why we should spend time with those we love while we can. Don't take dad for granted; he won't always be there. If you're reading this via mobile, here's the link to the song.

4. Cook Dad's Favorite Meal

This is a standard in our home for birthdays and other celebrations. The person of the day gets to pick the menu. We spend time together having dinner as a family.

5. Go on a Hike Together

Plan an all-day outing with dad. Take him on a hike. Spend the day outdoors and treat him to conversation and physical activity. 

6. Assemble His Family History in a Book

Research dad's family history and present dad with a book that highlights his ancestors and the entire family all the way up to the current time. Dad will love this gift; it's one he can hand back and pass along to grandchildren.

7. Plan a Family Soccer or Baseball Game

Organize a day at the local baseball or soccer field and spend the entire day playing sports, laughing, and eating. Pack a picnic and make it a full day of outdoor fun.

8. Clean Dads Car and Garage

If dad rarely has time to do those weekend cleaning tasks, do it for him. Have him sit outside with his favorite beverage, in a comfortable chair, with his favorite music blasting, watching you all work as you clean up the garage and wash his car.

9. Create a YouTube Video Music Playlist

Create a YouTube video playlist featuring all of Dad's favorite songs. Make the list public, and write a beautiful personal message in the video description area for all the world to see. You can also create a list of songs that honor dad from a daughter's point of view. You can find a list of ten suggested father/daughter songs here. Here's are songs to honor father/son relationships.

10. Write a Poem or Create a Video Poem

If creating video poems isn't your thing, simply write a poem from everyone or just from you and frame it. 

Here's a video poem I wrote long ago for my husband on the passing of his father: If you're viewing this via mobile, the video is here on YouTube.


Enjoy your day with dad. Time with dad is truly the best gift for you and for him.

For My Dad In Heaven: "Last night I had a crazy dream, a wish was granted just for me, it could be for anything, I didn't ask for money or a mansion in Malibu, I simply wished for one more day with you, but then again, I know what it would do, leave me wishing still, for one more day with you" (Lyrics - One More Day by Diamond Rio). 

Dad, I'll love you 'til the end of time, and time never ends.




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Sunday, March 28, 2021

3 Inspirational Songs to Sing When Your Spirit Needs A Boost


Today's review is about finding peace in a busy and often chaotic world.

When my soul needs a boost, I sing. At night, I'll play various lyric videos and blast out every word as loud as I choose.

I've long since stopped being self-conscious about it. My boys hear me singing all the time. I actually love that they hear their mother singing; I like to think I'm teaching them to be brave. It's also a way for them to see me making time to feed the soul.

For two years now, I've actively taken steps to balance in my mind, body, and spirit

For the body, I've lost over 60 pounds on Keto

For the mind, I've written nine books in a year, and for my spirit, I sing and listen to this spiritual channel on YouTube

No, I'm not superwoman. I turned 60 in 2020 and made a decision that, before that monumental milestone birthday, I was going to tick off some boxes on my 'get-er-done beyatch' list. 

So I stopped the talk, and walked the walk.

Today I'd like to pass along some of my personal choice lyric videos. Sing along, or just enjoy the words and message.

1. Don't Give Up on Me by Andy Grammer

This is a bounce-in-your-chair song. There's a section of lyric I use as inspiration to continue writing my riddle books. At 60, I'm just getting started, so yah, don't give on me. If you're viewing via mobile, the lyric video is here.
"Cause I'm not givin' up,
I'm not givin' up, givin up, no, not yet,
Even when I'm down to my last breath
Even when they say there's nothing' left,
So don't give up on me"

 

2. You Say by Lauren Daigle

This is one of the most famous Christian songs to reach number one on the Hot Christian Songs chart. It stayed there for 113 weeks, and that alone was a record. It also charted on the Billboard Top 100, Contemporary Chart, and the Mainstream and Adult Top 40 charts.

This song is my anthem for handing over my issues to a higher power. It reminds me what's possible when I let go and simply believe in a greater purpose. Mostly, it humbles me. I'm sure you've heard it. If not, be sure to listen; it's a gorgeous song. If you're reading this via mobile, the video is here.
"You say I am loved when I can't feel a thing,
you say I am strong when I think I am weak,
And you say I am held, when I am falling short,
and when I don't belong, oh you say I am Yours,
And I believe, oh I believe
What you say to me, oh I believe,
Taking all I have and now I'm laying it at your feet,
you have every failure God, You have every victory" 

3. The Most Beautiful Things, by Tenille Townes

When you need a song that reminds you of how small yet significant we all are, this is the go-to spiritual fix. This song is my universal remote for traveling away from earthly problems. If you're reading this via mobile, the video is here.
" So why do we close our eyes,
when we pray, cry, kiss, dream,
Maybe the most beautiful things in this life
are felt, and never seen"


Spiritual Medicine

We're all struggling in one way or another. I fight darkness with light. 

In 2013, the year my father died, I decided to find my way through darkness, fear, and especially over-thinking by learning more about what lives on when we physically don't. As mentioned above, it's this YouTube channel that guided me out, and I believe, through.

One particular video struck me with how dark energy (whatever you want to call it) tries to feed on us around the clock. We need tools in our toolbox to fight back. Repeating Psalm23 was one suggestion. You can select anything spiritual to repeat.

As soon as my thoughts tailspin into a whirlpool of 'what-ifs", I repeat Psalm23 in my mind. In fact, I've written it on a card and placed it near my computer. When darkness creeps in, I read the card. Sometimes I'll simply repeat the first few lines over and over until the dark path my thoughts were heading to disappears.

There's a saying that "95% of what we worry about never happens". With that in mind, I work to turn that 95% into positive thought.

Here's a video written and created by me in January 2020 to celebrate light and love. If you're viewing via mobile, here's the video link.



Blessings to you and your family for this coming Easter weekend.




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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Tracing Your Family Tree - Reviewing Some Genealogy Adventures

 Adventures in Genealogy - Discovering Your Roots

As Alice fell down the rabbit hole and discovered the secrets of Wonderland so a Genealogist can discover a wealth of addictive history while climbing along branches of the family tree.   My first adventures in genealogy began quite innocently enough and I couldn’t have predicted that it would stay with me for my entire life.


Alice Beatrice Gale - a sepia photograph of my great grandmother


I sometimes watch the television program – Who Do You Think You Are – where celebrities trace their family tree and it saddens me to think that some people don’t even know the names of all of their grandparents let alone further back.   I think knowing your roots helps in making you feel confident in yourself – it means you don’t feel alone because you know you have a family that goes back and out and you’re just a little twig on this solid oak tree!

My first ‘adventure’ as I referred to it before started in school where I was asked to make a family tree which I should just mention earned me an A (not that I’m bragging or anything!).   We were told to add ourselves, our siblings, our parents, their siblings and our grandparents and anything else we were able to.

The pretentious young girl that I was I made sure to add all of my grandparents’ siblings as well as the names of my great grandparents and while I was finding this out I made an amazing discovery – one of my great aunts had a marriage certificate that belonged to my great great grandparents.   I wasn’t allowed to take the original to school, but my dad let me get a photocopy to take in – I don’t know why this didn’t earn me an A+, but still!

All the photographs on this post are from the author's family and are used with permission - information on the people in them can be found at the bottom of the post.

 How to Start Researching Your Family Tree

Am I Descended from Royalty or is There a Criminal Mastermind in My Tree?

People want to trace their roots for a variety of reasons, years ago people would claim that their family were aristocrats – you just had to go back a while!   These days more and more people want to discover criminals in their backgrounds!   Whatever drives you to discover the people you’re descended from you have to start somewhere so where?

The first place to start is with the living – talk to your relatives, your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and find as much information as you can from them.   You might find that some aren’t very helpful and that’s often because of skeletons in the family closet and with older relatives, this was often to do with birth dates and marriage dates not quite gelling or ‘sisters’ turning out to be daughters!

When I was looking into my maternal grandfather’s family mum suggested I contact her godmother who was also her cousin (we were living in New Zealand at the time and our family were from the UK).   I was lucky enough that my grandfather’s sister was staying with her at the time and wrote to me herself.   I had never met any of my grandfather’s family as my Nan fell out with them after his death (when I was 6) so it was great to ‘discover’ a great aunt and I still have her letters today.

I had only asked a few questions, but she had not only supplied that information but more besides including a family mystery and a scandal and the most important piece of information - my great grandfather's name wasn't what I had recorded!   I had been looking for Richard Butcher, but he was actually christened Arthur Richard Butcher, he'd just used the name Richard since he'd become an adult.  

What to Ask Your Relatives?

The basic questions to start with are their first names and date & place of birth – if they’re married ask for their spouse’s names and the details of their marriage along with details of any of their children.
Next, ask for their parent's details along with any of their parent’s siblings – move on to their grandparents after that.

It doesn’t matter if you already have details from other family members as it can either help confirm the information or show a discrepancy – both of which can be very helpful.   You can also discover different stories AND you never know who the family secret keeper is.

There is always someone in the family (it seems) who remembers all the skeletons, hoards all of the photos and sometimes even possesses the family bible or other papers which are all great things to see (if not own) as a family historian.     This person is the family secret keeper and did I mention you’re now a historian?

It's the little family stories that we hear that add the foliage to our family trees.

Don’t be in a rush as you’re talking to your living relatives either as it’s amazing the little pieces of information that they may tell you about which help you to breathe life into the photos and/or names on your family tree.

I remember a few years ago I looked at how my family tree was progressing and I felt a little dissatisfied as they were just names on paper, I didn’t know anything about them.   I decided then that I would ask my parents questions about what hobbies their parents and grandparents had, did they have any idiosyncrasies about them etc.   I just wanted to build up some sort of an idea about who they were and a few of the stories that I’ve been told have really helped bring my tree to life.

Family stories also sometimes have a little grain of truth in them (after all the tales had to come from somewhere) and when you hit a brick wall you can try throwing out some of the information – I used a name that some branches of the family used with our surname and some had dropped that apparently had something to do with grandma (it hadn’t!) and also a tea plantation that the family owned.   Well I had hit a brick wall so I did a broad search for our surname with the other surname and I found a marriage between what would turn out to be two great grandparents – I don’t think a train driver owned a tea plantation though, but it was a help nonetheless.

 

Alice & Eli Read with children Edward, Lona & William - my great grandparents, grandfather and a great aunt and great uncle - genealogy through photos
Eli & Alice Read with children Edward, Lona & William

 Birth, Death & Marriage Certificates

Getting More Information on Your Ancestors

When I was first setting out on my genealogy adventures the advice was to get birth, marriage and death certificates on everyone and they’re definitely full of invaluable information.   Unfortunately this does get expensive which is where the internet has been invaluable in both providing free information on births, marriage and death (bmd) records and also in helping you get in touch with other people who are researching your family.

I’ve been able to share certificates & research with people around the world and we’ve all benefited by filling in different parts of our histories.

Now, what information is found on these certificates?   Certificates look different in different countries and can also show different bits of information.

Birth Certificates will show both parents’ names as well as the full name and date of birth of the family member in question.   Birth certificates can also show the father's occupation as you can see on the certificate below of one of my great grandmothers.

UK Birth Certificate of Lily Maud Mary DEAN my great grandmother
Birth Certificate of Lily Mary Maud DEAN


As with all the certificates different countries will supply different information for example on the New Zealand birth certificate that I have for one of my husband's relatives it shows not just the father's details but the mothers' names and maiden names as well.   I think that New Zealand certificates were designed by a genealogist myself!

Marriage Certificates show the names of the bride and groom as well as their fathers (and of course details of the marriage).   Other information shown can differ from country to country.   I've enclosed the marriage certificate that ignited the genealogy bug in me way back in the 80s for you to look at.

This certificate is too long for me to scan fully (a problem with a number of UK certificates), but I hope you like it anyway.   The date of the marriage was 31st Jan 1877 and as a schoolchild trying to wrap my head around the fact that it was only a little over 100 years beforehand and my great grandparents couldn't write was just mindblowing!

1877 UK Marriage Certificate between Robert Gale and Martha Parsons my great great grandparents
Marriage Certificate of Robert GALE & Martha PARSONS

When it comes to death certificates, most of the ones in my genealogy files are from the UK which shows the date of death, name of deceased, sex, age, occupation and cause of death.   I'm going to show you a scan of my husband's grandmother's death certificate here instead though because it's a New Zealand death certificate.

Like the marriage certificate, the New Zealand death certificate also has a wealth of information contained on it and really is a treasure trove for people tracing their family tree.

NZ Death Certificate - Clara Emily COX nee PEASE
Death Certificate for Clara Emily COX nee PEASE


This certificate can hold a lot of information and I love that surviving issue is included as it's not always easy to find all of the birth records when you don't know how many children a couple has had together.   Another part that is very handy for a country that's based so much on immigration is the question - how long in New Zealand.

The thing with death certificates, however, is that the information is only as good as the surviving family members know and as you can see her mother's maiden name obviously wasn't remembered (or known) by her family which is a shame.

Free Alternatives to Getting 'Official' Certificates

One site that I have used in the past is called FreeBMD and is great for finding UK ancestors.   It’s not a complete site but they use volunteers to transcribe records of births, deaths & marriages from 1837 throughout England and Wales.

http://freebmd.org.uk/

The drawback is that you don’t get the extra information, but it’s still very handy.   I knew the names of two of my great grandparents and by using freebmd I was able to find when they were married and in which district which meant I could send away for their actual marriage certificate.    This was incredibly helpful as I had no idea when they were married.


Parish Records are another way of finding out information and if you’re researching for family in the UK then some counties have an Online Parish Clerk which is fantastic.   Different counties have different resources available online and some of the clerks will actually do a little digging for you if a census (for example) hasn’t been fully transcribed at the time.   Of course, these positions are voluntary and every clerk is different with different work loads etc.

I’ve used the Dorset OPC site and found it really great, other OPC sites haven’t had the information I’ve wanted for different family members, but I have only viewed a few of them so the best thing you can do is to Google county (the one where your ancestors are from) online parish clerk or opc and you’ll find the right page for you.   Be sure to check the counties on either side if you don’t find the information you need in the county you thought they were in.   A couple of different family lines of mine popped into neighboring counties for a few years here and there!

Arthur Richard BUTCHER & his daughters - adding faces to the family tree
Arthur BUTCHER & daughters

Census Records - A Family Historian's Goldmine

Material a Genealogist Can Get Their Teeth Into!

As well as parish records you can look at a lot of census records for free – UK census records anyway.   I use a site called FreeCen for a lot of my research – they’re run by the same people who provide us with FreeBMD that I’ve mentioned before.


For my Dorset relatives, I don’t have as much luck with the site however and I tend to go to the Dorset OPC as they have some of the early census returns transcribed so be sure to use both resources.

It can be incredibly handy to trace the family using several resources and the census is great for this, it even helped us to take our family tree up a few more branches on one line.   The moral to the story is to take note of all members of the household listed as if one disappears you can search for their name and you might discover them staying with other relatives – it happened on one of my adventures which I talk about under the 'putting the family tree together' section.

Army Records

Another Way of Tracing Your Family

If you have an ancestor who was in the army then I would recommend you get their army records as they can have some great information in them.   It seems as though every regiment holds different information - in the case of one of my grandfathers I received about 5 pages worth from his regiment, but with my husband's great grandfather we only received a single page.

Both regiments provided the age of the soldier when they joined up (be aware that at certain times in the past this was lied about and not always checked by officials!), where they joined up to (this can be handy if you want to know where they were living at the time) and their occupations at the time.

The records will also usually show identifying marks on the body such as scars and the fact that great grandfather had a tattoo before he joined the army!   The records also show where they were stationed - one of the regiments had very little on his actual duties except the place where his regiment was stationed for the time he was in there.

Another regiment's records had a lot more information, including how much time of service was spent abroad, what battles he participated in and medals awarded.

Let me tell you how using army records gave me the first break in tracing one part of the family tree ......

Putting the Family Tree Together

Being a Family Detective

My daughter doesn’t know why I like history, but I think of it as being a little bit like a detective which appeals to her a lot more.   When you’re researching the family history it really is like being a detective as no one (unless you’re extremely lucky) has written a number of books on your family for you to use as research tools.   Instead, you have to look at things like certificates, census returns and other records.

Let me tell you about how we tracked our family back a couple of generations by using free records.

My husband’s great grandfather had served in the army, but we had no idea what part of England he had originated from (we just knew he ended up with his family in New Zealand).   He was buried in a returned services cemetery and his regiment was listed on his grave so I wrote them an email and got his records sent to me.  

On his records, it included where he enlisted to along with his age and trade.   He joined the army in 1904 so I took a chance that he’d be living in the same area in 1901 and looked at the census and there I saw him living with his widowed mother and some siblings.   Looking at the census for 1891 I found both of his parents, himself and some siblings – one sibling was missing so I searched for him as well.   I wasn’t really expecting to find him, but I did and he was listed as a grandson which gave me the (possible) maiden name of great-great-grandma.   Armed with this information I then looked for a marriage using the ‘new’ name in the family tree and there it was!

Another generation discovered and another name to add to a branch of the family – always remember to keep track of siblings along the way.

Other reasons for keeping track of a sibling’s name is to make it quicker to find the family on census returns, let me give you an example.   On one side of the family, my direct descendant is called Richard a fairly common first name, but he had a brother called Twentyman which isn’t so common so if I were to search for census returns I’d look for his brother’s name first to find the household and hope they were both at home together on census night!

More on Military Records in Genealogy

  • USA Military Records
    Now I haven't used this site as I don't have any ancestors in the US (that I've found yet anyways!), but this site is part of the National Archives and tells you how to go about researching your genealogy in military records.
  • British Armed Forces Records
    If you have relatives that served in the British Armed Forces then this is one site to start looking on. I actually just Googled the regiment when I was looking for records and my father got the other records so I'm not sure how good this site is, but it's at least a stepping stone.

Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN - an old grainy photo of a great great grandfather born in Denmark 1829in
Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN


Eek! I've Got the Wrong Surname!

Adventures in Genealogy Sometimes Have Unexpected Twists

Genealogy 101 says you need certificates and this makes it quite an expensive hobby, I have often bypassed the certificates and used parish records, census records and other free online resources to trace the family tree, but occasionally that can backfire!

I had been tracing my husband’s paternal line and I couldn’t find his grandfather’s birth details anywhere – apparently, he was born in India, but I couldn't find any birth details of anyone by his name at all.   Luckily my husband’s great-granddad lived with his family for a while and was buried in the cemetery in his hometown.   He had been in the army so I took the name of his regiment from his gravestone and wrote to them – army records can be an invaluable source of information for family historians.   What I found in these records enabled me to trace his family back a couple of generations, but I still couldn’t find granddad even with the dates that great-granddad was serving in India to go on.

I hadn’t looked at this side of the family for a while and decided to do another search for him along with another surname which I know had something to do with the family – it wasn’t further up the line as far as I’d gone, so maybe it was great grandma’s name.   Hello, I found the marriage – they were married in India a month after he left the army, but the timing of the marriage didn’t gel with when my husband’s grandparents were married (grandad would've been too young) – things were getting murky.

Looking at the details of the marriage it noted that great-grandmother was older than great-grandfather and also a widow.   Just for the heck of it, I decided to search for grandad using her former married name and there he was – turns out the great-grandad that lived with the family and who everyone loved (grandad wasn’t let in the house – long story) was actually step great grandad so the family tree I’d been tracing didn’t actually belong to the right family :(

Now what was I told was genealogy 101?   That’s right – get certificates!

Sepia photograph of Edward Arthur Read my grandfather
Edward Arthur READ

Genealogical Links

Great Links to Help You Trace Your Family Tree

This free family search website is really good and I've recently had a lot of luck with their Indian data (this has obviously been updated since I last looked for this branch of the family).

  • Access Genealogy - Great for US Genealogy
  • If you're tracing family in the States this looks like a great site. I don't have any family lines in America, but I like the look of this site and I especially like the cemetery transcriptions - they are really handy.

  • Find My Past
  • This is a site that I have used in the past even though you do have to pay, I found quite a few records on one side of my family which made it worthwhile for me. There is also an American site available too which has a good reputation.

    Photographic Stars - Names & Dates

    Historic Photos From My Family Tree

    I hope you've enjoyed the family photos I've included in this article, but what if you think some of them look familiar or you just recognize a name?   Well if that's the case here's information on them and if you think there may be a family connection feel free to send a private message to me via Facebook.

    Introduction Image

    The image in the introduction is of Alice Beatrice GALE born 11 Oct 1884 at Loders, Dorset, England.   Alice was one of my great-grandmothers.

    Eli & Alice READ with children Edward, Lona & William

    This image is of Eli Reuben READ born 01 Jan 1879 at East Coker, Yeovil, Somerset, England along with his wife Alice (the same lady mentioned above) who were married on 14 Jan 1904.   They had eight children and are pictured with three of them from left to right they are - Edward Arthur READ (born 07 Sep 1907), Lona Frances Emily READ (born 21 Jul 1904) and William George READ (born 18 Dec 1905 ).

    Arthur BUTCHER and daughters

    This image is of Arthur Richard BUTCHER born 30 Nov 1873 at Caterham, Surrey.  He was one of my great grandfathers and is pictured with his daughters at a wedding.   The daughters are from left to right - Queenie Etta (born 19 Sep 1918), Constance Christina Winifred (born 17 Sep 1914), Mabel Beatrice (born 11 Feb 1898) , Eirene Hilda Dorothy (born 19 Sep 1899), May COMPTON (half sister) Gladys Kathleen (born 23 Apr 1906), Gwendoline Dorcas Joyce (born 27 Apr 1916)

    Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN

    This image is of Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN who was born 3 Dec 1829 at Tommerup, Funen Island, Denmark.   He was one of my husband's great-great-grandfathers and emigrated to New Zealand in 1874.

    Edward Arthur READ

    This image is of Edward Arthur READ (the same person in the photo with his parents Eli and Alice) who was born 7 Sep 1907 at Loders, Dorset, England.   Edward was one of my grandfathers although I never got to meet him as he died before I was born.

    I think photographs really help bring your family tree alive, but unfortunately, some of them can be in disrepair.  I've come across ones that have been ripped, covered in age spots and more.   I did write a post about removing blemishes in photoshop if you have some old photos that do not look their best.

    Are you interested in tracing your family tree?








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    Sunday, January 24, 2021

    His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story



    I've had the privilege of reading and reviewing many short stories by friends of mine. Being a writer of poetry and riddle books, I've never tackled a fictional short story online. As a young girl, I wrote many. However, as an adult, nope, never fictional.

    Fiction wasn't my thing. Maybe it's this whole getting-older-stuff that gets us stepping out of our comfort zone? That's exactly what propelled me to write and publish my first poetry book in 2019, and since then, six riddle books. For some unknown reason, I had and still have a sense of urgency.

    I blame time for my bravery to try new things. Time is knocking on my door, and my sense of it passing by too quickly is front and center these days.

    So today's review is about jumping in and doing that one thing you've been hesitant to do. For me, it's writing a fictional story. So judge away, lol.


    His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story by Barbara Tremblay Cipak

    His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story About Love and Light

    She stood at the bottom of that radiant sun-soaked hill sobbing from a pain that she didn't fully understand. 

    This kind of suffering was beyond anything Kathleen had ever experienced.

    It hurt more than when her father unexpectedly died in his sleep from an unknown heart condition when she was only eighteen; and even more than her mother's difficult passing from dementia three months ago.  

    At the top of that hill, Kathleen could see Jeffrey, dressed in a lovely black suit. Her heart could feel his soul as if he were still that precious two-year-old rusty haired boy she rocked to sleep every night for years. She wondered how he grew up so quickly into the dapper twenty-year-old she was looking at today.

    Kathleen could see Jeffrey comforting his sister. Holly's strong independent nature couldn't console her on this day. At eighteen, Holly needed her brother's shoulder. Kathleen was grateful that her children were there for each other.

    Then it hit her. 

    Kathleen suddenly realized why she was feeling this indescribable pain. Her children were grieving, and she could feel every part of their anguish. The tears she cried were a combination of all her love, as well as theirs.

    Kathleen remembered how it happened, how she died. 

    Two weeks ago, life took a turn that led her to the road she was on today.
    _________

    It was a bright, beautiful Tuesday. With spring in full bloom, she remembered feeling like anything was possible. As she headed downstairs that morning, she had an unexpected moment of knowing that everything would be ok. It was so profound that it stopped her on the steps. She paused to inhale the gift and felt fortunate to be in tune with something that always felt personal to her, something cosmic.

    While sitting in her kitchen, waiting for nothing, Kathleen was enjoying a fresh cup of morning coffee. Life had always been a struggle, but Kathleen managed to find rays of sunshine. She called them 'her moments of bliss.' 

    Being a single mom, she tried hard to maintain an uplifting attitude. She couldn't afford to slip into hopelessness. She often said, 'my children save my life every day.' To her, that was the greatest gift, and being a good mother was the least she could do for what they gave to her; hope.

    Doing everything and expecting nothing had been Kathleen's motto. "Just do," she used to say; the rest will take care of itself.

    While sipping that coffee, her phone rang. It was a number she didn't recognize and almost didn't answer. But being a believer in chance, she thought maybe today good luck would shine upon them and send the money they desperately needed for Holly's medication. 

    Holly suffered from a rare auto-immune disease and required expensive anti-inflammatories to keep her frequent seizures under control.  

    She answered that unexpected call.

    "Hello, Kathleen speaking." 
    "Hi, is this Kathleen Summers?" 
    "Yes, it is."
    "Hello, this is the office of Brander and Dorval. We handled your father's Last Will & Testament."

    Kathleen was confused. Her father didn't own anything; he didn't have anything. How could there possibly be a Will, and why would someone be contacting her thirty-seven years after his death about a Will!

    "What?" Kathleen said sharply

    "Yes, there is a Will, and Mr. Brander needs to speak to you about it. Could you come in today, how's 1:00 pm?"

    Although nearly speechless from shock, Kathleen agreed. 

    Kathleen could hear both her kids shuffling upstairs as they readied themselves for their day. Jefferey loved animals and worked to save money to go to school to become a Veterinarian. His determination alone woke him daily for his job. Never late, always dependable. That was Jeffrey.

    Holly never let her health stand in her way. She was about to finish her last semester of High School. Her curiosity about her auto-immune disease led her to want to study within that field. Maybe a doctor, perhaps a researcher; she hadn't figured that out yet.

    Kathleen was proud of their determined spirit. It hadn't been easy for them; lack of money was always the mountain they had to climb, but her kids never let that stop them from dreaming. 

    Kathleen headed upstairs to ready herself for her unexpected appointment and let the kids know she would be out for the afternoon. She didn't tell them about the strange call since she wasn't sure it was real.

    Hugging both kids as they left for the day, Kathleen reminded them she wouldn't be working from home this afternoon, and not to worry, she had an errand to run. "Love you both," she shouted. "Love you back mom, bye, have a great day!"

    The Law Office was grand. This company had been in business practically forever. As she walked into the ornate building, she wondered how on earth her father could afford this caliber of a lawyer. "Nah," she said to herself, "This has to be a mistake."

    A lovely, tall, dark-haired lady led her into Mr. Brander's office.

    Mr. Brander proceeded to introduce himself and encouraged her to take a seat. 

    Kathleen exclaimed, "this is a mistake; you must have the wrong Kathleen Summers."

    "I'll get right to it, Ms. Summers." He pulled out a large brown envelope. Inside the envelope were instructions given to the law firm.

    Mr. Brander pulled out a photo and asked Kathleen, "Is this your father?"

    Almost fainting, Kathleen nervously answered in question format, "Yes?"

    "Ms. Summers, your father left you an inheritance, not to be opened until this day."

    Mr. Brander proceeded, "In these instructions, we're asked to give you this black notebook along with this key."

    Mr. Brander informed her that the key was to a safety deposit box at a bank not too far from here and that he would have to accompany her to access the box. However, she would have to read what was in the black notebook first, as those were her father's instructions. 

    "It's private, only for you." Mr. Brander led her to a boardroom where she could quietly process the unexpected gift that was left to her thirty-seven years ago. 

    Kathleen opened the cover.

    "To my darling Kathleen and her children."

    She gasped out loud, "how was that possible!"  She hadn't had children when her dad had died. 

    She turned that first page and began to read.
    __________

    My Dearest Kathleen:

    You have the same gift I do. From the moment you were born, I knew within you was the gift of knowing. You always seem to understand that in the end, everything would be ok. 

    From as far back as I can remember, maybe back to when I was two or three, I could see significant events coming next. Everyone else calls it psychic; I call it life. I don't know why or how I have this gift, but it is a part of me. 

    I'm writing this letter because, in less than a week, I'll be gone. I know I'm destined to die in my sleep. Rest assured, it will be from natural causes. You'll later find out I had a heart condition. I've seen several doctors about it, but all tests showed nothing substantial. However, I know I won't live. It's the same knowingness you carry about life.

    You'll have two kids, and I know one of them will have a medical condition. I can't tell you any of this now, at eighteen. You wouldn't understand or believe me. But mostly, you don't need to know about this blessing and burden at such a young age. So I decided to handle things this way.

    My grandchildren needed to be taken care of, so I started early in life making sure they would be alright. You'll eventually understand why this is so important and why I did things this way.

    Go with the lawyer to open that safety deposit box. Please pass all its contents along to your children. I promise you; it will eventually make sense.

    Love you more than you could  know - until we meet again,

    Dad
    _________

    Kathleen felt both grateful and fearful, but a part of her was angry. 

    "Why would dad leave something for children I didn't have and never think to leave things to me?" She wasn't jealous about the gift for her kids; she was baffled. 

    Mr. Brander opened the boardroom door and asked her if she was ready to go to the bank. On the drive there, Mr. Brander informed her that her father and his father had been good friends and that it was his father who initially worked on her dad's Will. "Before my dad died, he filled me in on your dad's wishes and the Will our firm was holding for you," I promised him I would take care of it when the time came.

    Inside the little room, and in her father's lawyer's presence, Kathleen opened the safety deposit box.

    There were two large brown envelopes.

    Printed on one envelope was "Open this one first," and on the other, "Open this one last."

    Kathleen opened the first envelope to find another letter from her father.
    _________

    Dearest Kathleen; 

    To help your children, my grandchildren achieve their purpose in life, I've taken steps to ensure they would have the resources they needed to achieve their goals and complete their contribution.

    You'll find in the next envelope that I've invested $20,000 in a safe stock portfolio held by this bank. By the time you open this letter, it should be worth between 140,000 and 200,000 dollars. The bank can help you with those details.

    Please ensure your children get all the documents and my letters.
    __________

    Kathleen felt more than loved. She began to get that cosmic sense she was accustomed to, that there's still more to this story. It both scared her and comforted her.

    Mr. Brander handed her all the documents, including the little black notebook with her dad's initial letter, and they hugged and parted ways for the day. They planned to meet at the bank in the coming days to establish the value of the inheritance her father left to her children.

    Kathleen arrived home at about 5:00 pm. Both Jeffrey and Holly were preparing dinner. "Hi, mom," they cheerfully blurted. "Where were you?"

    "Well, you aren't going to believe my day; you both better sit down." Kathleen then proceeded to tell them the entire day's events.

    The kids were beyond shocked. Like their mom, they were a bit confused about why their grandfather would wait all these years to give them this inheritance and why it would go to them. 

    Later that night, as they were all preparing for bed, Kathleen hugged both of her kids, told them she loved them, and said, "Let's sleep on it tonight; maybe things would be clearer in the morning."

    Kathleen died in her sleep that night.
    __________

    She understood the purpose of her father's Will now. As she stood at the bottom of that hill watching her kids at the top, she knew they were visiting her grave. She noticed something tucked under Jeffrey's arm; it was that little black notebook.

    Suddenly Kathleen's tears stopped, and beside her stood both her father and her mother. Her first words were, "Mom, you knew all this time." "I did, dear, I always trusted your father's gift of knowing. We both planned this for you.

    The three of them walked towards the children at the top of the hill. As they stood beside them, they heard Holly speaking. "Thank you, mom, for all you did for us. Grandpa's $20,000 investment is worth over $300,000 today. That's enough for Jeffrey and me to go to school. I'm going to be a Doctor, mom, and Jeffrey is going to be a Veterinarian. We promise to make you proud.

    Kathleen, with joyful tears, had no doubt they would.

    Kathleen's father let her in on the biggest secret of all. "Do you know why we did this?" Kathleen answered, "Yes, to help the kids achieve their dreams." 

    Her dad said, "That was one reason, but not the main reason. Holly will be part of a global discovery on how to help those who suffer from auto-immune diseases. It will be the breakthrough of her time. She's going to help a lot of people. And Jeffrey won't just be Veterinarian; he's going to be a major contributor to one of the largest animal rescue facilities in the country."

    "And you knew this when you were little, dad?" "Yes, I did," he replied.

    "How?" she asked. "I don't know, we all have a gift; we just have to open our minds to see it and believe it.

    As Jeffrey and Holly walked away, Kathleen asked her mother and father, "where are we going now?"

    "Home Kathleen, we're going home."

    __________

    I had originally written this story to enter a contest but then decided against it. So there you have it, one more step outside of that familiar comfort zone.

    Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone?





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