moon and stars

I’ve been thinking about what I can do to make the new year happy.  Not just for me, but happier on a broader scale.

I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution maker.  Probably because I believe New Year’s resolutions are overrated.  (Or maybe its just a lack of follow through on my own part!)

But this year seems a bit different.  I feel more in control of my own time.  Or at least more responsible for it.

The thing that has been weighing heavily on me lately is the way we are surrounded by – no, immersed in – negativity, violence, corruption, hatred.  Sure, there is a lot of that in our world today.   But it seems to be the only thing that we read, watch and talk about.

This year, I’d like to be a part of spreading some cheer.  I want to help us all remember that there are indeed many kind, wonderful and happy things happening around us.

So, this is my plan… Once a week, sharing something positive that is happening in the world.  A random act of kindness.  A brilliant project that someone has undertaken.  A heartwarming story of love.  Something good.  Every Friday.

Good Friday…  A 52 week challenge of spreading some joy.  Anyone else up for the challenge?

A Christmas without gifts is a good thing… for us.

I started working in stores when I was in High School, working summers and Christmas vacations. My husband’s start in retail was similar. We even met while working in a store. We must have fifty years of working in the retail industry between us.

But this year was very different. This is the first year since we met that neither of us as worked in retail during the holidays.

If you haven’t worked in retail, you may not understand the implications of that. When you work for a retailer during the holidays, it means that you aren’t likely to have the day after Thanksgiving off. It may even mean that you have to be at work extra early the day after. Or in recent years, it may even mean that you have to go to work before your dinner is even digested.

It means that you work on Christmas Eve. You probably choose to eat dinner out because you’re too exhausted to cook. We actually have a tradition of getting Chinese take-out on Christmas Eve because of our long history of getting home late.

I could go on… We’ve had good careers in retail, but it is a lovely change to be able to completely avoid the malls at this time of year.

No Christmas lists. No last minute rush. I was even blissfully ignorant of the last day to order online is this year.  Or knowing a store’s return policy.

We’re not deprived. We’ve just decided to give our gifts at other times this year. And to savor the season with music, movies, candle light services, good food and friends.

Ahhh. This could be the start of a new Christmas tradition!

wc10Photo credit:

Pictures speak louder than words, so I wanted to share some images that celebrate the love and kindness around us.  Enjoy!

26 Moments That Restored Our Faith In Humanity This Year

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I remember it so well.  Finding Dylan.  I remember it well because it was unexpected in so many ways.

For a year or two, leading up to the momentous day, Dylanwe had been spotting more Corgis than usual as we were out and about.  And my longing to have a Corgi of our own was growing stronger.  I considered it a very good sign to run into a Corgi on my birthday that year… feeling certain that it was an omen that a Corgi was in our future.

But then life went on.  Until December 11, 2010

You could say that Google was responsible for bringing Dylan into our lives.  But in an unusual way.   It was a Friday, and while eating my lunch at my desk, I put a simple search into Google, looking for things to do in the area over the weekend.

Google’s typically relevant results were a little bit off that day.  About the third search result down was a link to PetFinder.  How odd.  What did PetFinder have to do with weekend events around West Chester, PA?   I scrolled passed it to continue my hunt for weekend adventure.

google search screenshot

But then I stopped.   It had been awhile since I’d searched for a Corgi in my area.  Might as well give it a try.  You can imagine my surprise when a picture of Dylan came up… at a shelter only two miles from our house.

Well, the thought of this Corgi kept sneaking into my head throughout the afternoon.  At home that night, I casually mentioned it to my husband, thinking he would poo-poo it, saying this wasn’t yet the right time.

Our fabulous corgi

But then the second unusual thing happened.  My normally non-committal husband (to pets, that is) was very interested in Dylan.  He began to lay out a plan.  We must arrive at the SPCA before they open to queue up.  We must stop by the pet store before hand and buy a crate, food, and all the basic necessities.   Because once we get Dylan, he was sure we wouldn’t want to leave him alone to do all that shopping.

You don’t know my husband, but this behavior was very unusual.  We don’t make decisions that will dramatically change our lifestyle quickly.  Which gives you a little background into how the story progresses.

The next day we were indeed queued up at the SPCA before they opened.  We found out that Dylan had been there a week already, and had not yet been adopted.  We had some time together with Dylan, and were given his psychological profile (calm, friendly, not a lap dog, doesn’t play with toys, etc.).  Dylan was a handsome dog, and there was nothing about him to dislike.  He was quiet.  A little timid.  Probably a good match for our personality, and our non-kid household.  But we needed to think.

Our fabulous Corgi

We headed home to have some lunch and to talk.  It was sitting at the kitchen table that it hit us.  This is a beautiful Corgi.  This is a great dog.  We’d be crazy not to adopt him.  Then we started to panic.   We need to get back there before someone else snatched him up.  I made a phone call, feeling totally ridiculous asking the SPCA to put Dylan on “hold” for us, as if he were a sweater at Nordstrom.

But it so happens that they DO put pets on hold, and when we returned later that afternoon, he was all ours.

To this day, one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever heard was the announcement made over the speaker system as I was walking toward the front door with Dylan at my side “Dylan’s going HOME”.

our fabulous corgi

Every December 12th, we celebrate Dylan’s “birthday”.  We were told he was about 3 1/2 years old when we adopted him, but we’re calling it an even three as of 12/12/2009.  So, that makes Dylan six years old today.

our fabulous corgi

He has grown from the shy, quiet dog we first met, to an active (dominant!) participant in our family life.

our fabulous corgi

His herding instincts have kicked in, as he happily demonstrates every morning as we start to collect ourselves for our morning walk.

our fabulous corgi

He adores riding in the car and travels with us constantly.

our fabulous corgi

He waits patiently when we’ve mistakenly left him out on his own.

our fabulous corgi

He adorns our Christmas cards they way other people’s children do.

Corgi sleeping

He has those same crazy sleeping habits that many Corgis do.

our fabulous corgi

He is far too interested in food.

our fabulous corgi

Happy Birthday, Dylan.  We adore you!

I can’t believe that it’s been a year since my last post. This past year was filled with a  plan for our retirement, sale of our house, and move to Northwest Arkansas. A plan that I felt needed to be kept quiet until I gave my notice at work. That made for an unusual period of time, and a little bit isolating.

What was so hush-hush? Well, it started with buying a house during a trip in July 2011. We closed on that house 9/13/2011, taking a two week vacation to drive down with Dylan and ‘camp out’ on inflatable beds in our new digs. It also included the plans to prep and sell our house. We put our house on the market 3/1/2012 and had a sale by 4/1/2012 – right on our planned timeline. I felt that if I made my plan known at work, that it would impact my effectiveness. Particularly the way others viewed me and included me in their strategies. I noticed some of that even with my relatively short notice of 90 days.

We were incredibly fortunate to have accomplished everything on our own timeline and to have a easy house sale.

20121026-122754.jpgAnd now we are on the road, making the trip to our new home. It’s quite an emotional time for me. The Pennsylvania scenery is gorgeous, and I am thinking already about how I will miss it. Dinner with Pam, Jed, Jean and Gerry last night was wonderful,and I am already missing their friendship. But with hugs, a few tears and promises to visit, we started off on our newest adventure!


May Day has a whole new meaning to me this year. A year from my target ‘retirement’ date. I say ‘retirement’ because I realize that it may not be a typical retirement. Does anyone have those anymore? I may very well be doing some other sort of job. But the point is, that I intend for it to be on my own terms… Of my own passion.

The milestone gives me a fresh perspective on what’s happening today. And what I want to accomplish in the next twelve months. It’s generated an excitement in me for not only my next adventure, but also for this one.

And I’m ok that 5/1 could possibly turn into 6/1, 7/1, or even 8/1 depending on the circumstances. Even the planner in me can comes to terms with that. It’s a milestone none the less.

As I’m thinking of winding down my career and doing something – dare I say – that really interests me, I am thinking that this is the perfect opportunity to reinvent myself.

Well, I may not want to reinvent myself, but it is a nice feeling to think that I could if I wanted to.  I realize now that much of my sense of self has connected with my work.  Somehow I now feel like I have more control over who I am and more freedom to do what I want.  What a great feeling.

But with that comes a sense of responsibility.  I have a much higher expectation for my next fifty years, knowing that I’m not so heavily influenced my parents, friends, being concerned about what others thought of me, etc.

So, here’s the big question… how will I make the next fifty years really count?

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