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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

From the Archives - When Life Hands You Lemons

http://www.whitedovebooks.co.uk/blog/2012/03/when-life-hands-your-lemons/comment-page-1/

This is a link to my guest blog with White Dove Books - it seemed like a good day to bring this one back as we had an abundance of lemons and not quite enough sugar around this household today. Good news is that tomorrow is a new day!

~Crystal

The Hardest Words To Hear

And this my friends, is my submission to the 2012 Spring Flash Fiction Contest. All characters and the story line are completely fictional - enjoy! (and wish me luck)


The Hardest Words to Hear

It was another busy day at the office. Portia was off to another meeting in a few moments and as she grabbed her water from her bag she saw the crumpled bills that Klaus had tossed at her the night before. She didn't remember how the fight had begun, but it ended with him throwing the bills in her direction and muttering “go buy some shoes or coffee or something tomorrow”. They both knew that all the money in the world wasn’t going to fix their broken marriage, but Klaus knew that a little retail therapy would go a long way in brightening Portia’s mood.  And after all, they had plenty of money now. Unfortunately, it didn't bring back their baby.

Portia got pregnant early in their relationship. It just took that one time on the lake up north. Neither of them could believe it, and they were too young to make good parents (at least that’s what they had convinced themselves of). Portia kept trying to come up with ways that she could take the baby with her to work. Klaus appreciated her optimism but he was a realist. If they were going to make this business work, and retire young, they couldn’t have a baby slowing them down. Those fights had been the worst and he was ashamed at the things he said. She had forgiven him, but neither one could forget.

She hadn’t gotten the abortion he had suggested. She hadn’t driven her car off a bridge as he had also suggested. She had given their baby girl up for adoption, and they moved on. At least they tried to. Years went by and the regret grew. She resented having to choose between her daughter and her husband. He was conflicted and just wished that Portia would snap out of it. They tried to have another child which led to miscarriages, more depression, and the wall between them kept growing.
 
It was Portia’s sadness and Klaus’s greed that led to all the fighting, that’s really what last night had been about. There was hardly any love left between them. They had everything Klaus had dreamed of. He had his business and Portia had a rewarding career. They had more money than they knew what to do with and plenty of expensive toys. And now, she had a couple hundred dollars crumpled in her purse. A gesture that was more maddening than anything “how damn much does he think a latte’ is?” she mumbled as she tucked the money in her wallet. Portia picked up the phone (like she did after every fight) to call her husband and apologize.

“Klaus?”

“Yes”

“How is your day going dear?”

“Fine”

“Well, I was on my way to a meeting and just wanted to call and let you know I’m so sorry we were fighting. I love you darling.”

…silence…

“Klaus?”

“Yes”

“Are you going to say anything?”

“Portia. I just don’t love you anymore.”

“Klaus, I have to get to this meeting. I’ll see you tonight.”

…then all she heard was the dial tone and her heart beating so loudly she thought her heart would burst.

She finished the day at the office while trying to suppress her sadness and fear. When she got home, she packed a duffle bag and left. She had chosen Klaus instead of their child and now she had lost both of them. How could he have said that? There’s no going back when you’ve heard those words. He hadn’t died; he had chosen to stop loving her. In her mind, this made her unlovable and undesirable. "How long has he known? How long have I been nothing more than a house keeper and a whore?" Portia sped away and when she got to her destination (mom’s house) she sat on the floor of the shower and cried until the hot water ran out. Those words still make her eyes water, her throat burn, and her stomach churn. “I just don’t love you anymore” – those words were more hateful than anything.

Fine Dining in Manitowoc, Wisconsin at 8th and York Restaurant and Lounge

It was overcast and cool on the Lakeshore today, but at the intersection of 8th Street and York Street in Manitowoc, Wisconsin it was anything but dreary. It didn't take me long to find a parking spot. I eased my SUV in, locked up, and headed excitedly to the historic building that recently became one of Manitowoc's busiest restaurants. The building is anything but new though, the historic building started as Bank First National in 1927 and was recently renovated and is now an expertly decorated restaurant called 8th & York Restaurant and Lounge. I've been excitedly awaiting an opportunity to check it out for myself.

At 11:02am I pulled open the heavy doors and my senses were awakened by the smell of fresh basil, lemon, and jasmine. The shiny marble floors and high ceilings were very impressive and each piece of furniture seemed expertly chosen and arranged. I was greeted warmly and seated immediately with a glass of ice water. The menu had plenty to choose from but I had my heart set on the chicken curry. Our server, Malachai was friendly and accommodating. I chatted with a friend and it took us a bit to decide. She ordered the fish tacos and it didn't take long at all for our food to arrive.

My water glass wasn't even 1/2 empty and Malachai was filling it up. The restaurant quickly filled with patrons eating and waiting, and yet the staff and management seemed cheerful and unhurried. Our meals were appropriate in portion size and the flavor was exquisite. The prices were more than fair and they accept checks, credit cards, and cash...but no small children (I asked...lol). It was a fabulous experience and even the payment process was fun and my receipt was emailed to me immediately which eliminates yet another scrap of paper to lose track of in my purse.

I give 8th & York Restaurant and Lounge Five Stars - we had a fabulous experience and I cannot wait to go back. Even if you aren't from Manitowoc, it's worth the drive to 202 N 8th Street to experience this for yourself. They are open Tuesday through Saturday 7am-9pm at this time and can also be found on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/8th-York-Restaurant-and-Lounge/244136688932034 This would be a great place to go for your next 'date night' with that special someone.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To My Son

Dear Andre,

It felt like just yesterday that I brought you home from the hospital. You were very tiny and cried a lot. You wouldn't sleep unless you were in my arms or lying next to me in bed. And now...I took you fishing and watched you with joy and pride. You aren't afraid to do things by yourself and soon enough you won't have time for kisses and hugs and snuggles. It makes me want to cry when you hold the door for me and say "here you go my lady" or when you say that your mommy is the prettiest girl in the whole world. The last four years have gone by so quickly and in no time, you won't have time for your mom...and you'll realize that I'm not so smart or pretty. I love being the center of your world and I am so thankful to have you and your sister in the center of mine. You'll always be my baby.

Love,


Mom

Sunday, May 27, 2012

None of Your Business


A sweet (and brutally honest) friend shared the following quote with me on Friday afternoon and it's still bee-bopping around in my head - which usually means I am meant to share it. So here is your gift from me this Memorial weekend: 


"What people in the world think of you is really none of your business." ~Martha Graham


This conversation came about because I have a lot of self doubt because I have always cared too much about what other people think, how they feel, and what they are saying about me. I can say that I don't care what other people think, but deep down inside, I want to be like-able. I try to never offend, treat others the way I would want to be treated, and if I have to deliver bad news...I try to do it as tactfully as possible while pointing out as many positives as possible. I try to see the good in others and I hope they'll do the same for me. When I find a fault I try to fix it, and I believe that people are always well-intended. I trust people until they give me a reason not to. Yup...I'm not cut out for politics and though I have leadership characteristics, I'm probably not even cut out for management because I'm not good at keeping people at arms length. I want to love everyone and I really do think that everyone is genuine and they are my friend.


Anyway - that's something I'm working on. In the meantime, I am trying very hard to not wonder what others think of me, what they are saying, etc... and if you feel like you need to tell me what others are saying, please see the quote above. It's none of my business what they think about me. I can't change anyone's perception. If you believe I said something hateful, you probably took something out of context or you don't know me very well. If you want to say something hateful about me, that's your prerogative and again...none of my business. Someone recently said "she's always so grumpy" about a dear friend of mine who I think is a bundle of joy and positive energy. Yup - she has her opinion and I have mine and I wouldn't run back and tell my friend what was said, because it wouldn't help her in any way...see quote above...none of her business.


The more I write about this quote, the even more I love it and I'm hoping if I think about it enough I'll begin to do a better job living it. You think I'm a bad parent? Yup...none of my business because my true friends are supportive of my parenting. You think I dress funny? Yup...none of my business because there are probably some crazy people somewhere that enjoy my eclectic style. You think I'm a crappy writer? Yup...none of my business and you have a choice to read what I write or not read it, so ultimately, this one's back on you too.


OK - back to the point, I was curious about the woman who originally said this. Who is/was Martha Graham and what prompted this deep thought? 


Martha Graham was born in Pennsylvania in 1913 and died April first 1991. She was a dancer, and the first dancer to perform at the White House, and the first dancer to receive the Medal of Freedom. She also said the following: "I have spent all my life with dance and being a dancer. It's permitting life to use you in a very intense way. Sometimes it is not pleasant. Sometimes it is fearful. But nevertheless it is inevitable."


WOW - what an insightful and talented woman. She expressed herself through dance - and any time you express yourself in a public way, you run the risk of condemnation and commentary by others. I am not surprised that such a creative and insightful woman was also the first to speak these truthful words:


"What people in the world think of you is really none of your business." ~Martha Graham


now...back to my quest of living these words...


May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine and may the condemnation and commentary of others never make it's way back to you - it's none of your business...remember that!


~Crystal

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Finding Clarity


Finding Clarity - a fictional lesson in communication.

The scotch burnt his throat in a good way. He balanced the sail plan with the tiller lashed so the sailboat would rest quietly for the night. Her name was Clarity, written in lovely script across the bow. She was only 12 feet. Some might call her a dingy, but Jeremiah was in lust with her. Others questioned his sanity because he couldn’t swim a stroke. She was just what he needed when he dragged himself out of the office on rare occasions. Tonight was his night to sleep on the boat, several miles off shore. He was alone. He was lonely.

As the last drop of the malt whiskey trickled down his throat, Jeremiah was reminded of the small red droplets on the living room carpet so long ago. He closed his eyes to block out their past; after all, exactly a decade had passed. He poured another glass. He had promised his sponsor that he wouldn’t let this anniversary shake his sobriety, and then he promised himself that just one glass wouldn’t mean anything as long as no one else found out. He hadn’t meant to go this far. Drowning memories was the goal, but they were more vivid than ever. The minty sweet scent of her hair wafted to his nose. He longed for her soft skin and small hands. Instead, he held a cool glass of scotch.

At the office, they assumed that greed and a lust for success was what drove Jeremiah. Little did they know that his morning run was a futile exercise in running away from a life completely lacking in joy?  Each acquisition brought more money, more notoriety, more employees, and then the office building was sold and a larger one constructed. Through all of this, Jeremiah couldn’t smile. He was somehow hoping that if there were enough money in the bank it would bring back his sweet Jessica. 

There was a moment when he thought he was close to fulfilling his dream – and that was the moment he set eyes on Clarity. If he was a praying man, he might consider Clarity an answer to his prayers. He had never sailed before. Running hadn’t allowed him the escape he desired, and he was sure that the wind and the water would give him what he needed. Whether it was irony or one of life’s serendipitous moments, he bought Clarity in hopes of finding clarity. Tonight he was, fulfilling his dream of a secluded night on the water. Unfortunately, the answers to his questions were becoming all too clear. “I was such an ass, she deserved so much more” he sobbed as the waves continued to rock the little boat.

Two, three, and “what the hell” he blurted as he stopped counting drinks and wiped the tears with his sleeve. The rhythmic lapping of the waves against the boat reminded him of the last time he held Jessica in his arms as they danced to the sweet voice of Annie Lennox as “Why” played on the stereo in their living room. She had been trying to tell him. She was always trying to tell him. If only he had been the husband she deserved instead of being the man he thought he should be. 

The house on the lake, the diamond earrings, he was hoping they would make up for the lonely nights. He promised that someday he would take time away from the office and she would nod as he convinced himself that she believed him. Why hadn’t he listened to what her eyes were telling him instead of those words? He knew what she wanted. She wanted his baby; she wanted him to be a husband who was available to hold her. So many times she had tried to tell him, and so many times his response was “someday sweetie, someday I’ll have more time”.

He could hear Annie singing the final verse “the years that we have spent and this is what they represent…” the tears rolled like a film reel with those final moments: bloody knife in the kitchen, blood trail, lifeless body of his one love, and the explanation. Was this his night of clarity or ultimate failure? Clarity lived up to her name. His life was finally clear, in those last few moments before the cool waves relieved him of his pain. He went the same way she had gone; he finally understood her choice.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Let's Face It - I LOVE Agriculture, but Agriculture LOVES branding!

I'm sure you noticed in my recent post that I LOVE Agriculture, and you've heard me say that we need a blog dedicated solely to the farm (filled with pictures of the hills and meadows, of course). Tonight I am giddy with information about marketing and branding in the agriculture market, but more important, I am inspired by those I met this evening and those included in the presentation.

Let me back up - The Economic Development Corp of Manitowoc County received a grant which enabled them to put on presentations relating to agriculture. Tonight's presentation was given by the lovely Andrea G. Neu who owns her own business and has spent nearly two decades on Wisconsin's Milk Marketing Board. She is more dedicated to dairy than most farmers I know - and she's inspirational. At her class, I met business owners such as Rick Braun from Braun Electric that provide barn equipment, excavation, manure management, septic and plumbing, etc...(http://www.braunelectricinc.com/), Kurt Dramm from Dramm Corporation where they make organic fertilizers (http://www.dramm.com/html/main.isx), Ruth from Ginger Hollow who makes fabulous artisan soaps (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ginger-Hollow-LLC/122419167771712), and Jayne from James Jellies and More...which is where I purchased this amazing pepper jelly that goes great with a glass of wine (http://www.jamsjelliesandmoreonline.com/).

Then...the presentation itself was filled with great examples of agri businesses that have successfully developed their brands and built amazing businesses. It was so inspirational that I feel like I know these individuals personally. When it comes to branding and marketing, even if you aren't in the agriculture market, you can learn something from the following success stories:

Kelley Country Creamery - http://kelleycountrycreamery.com/ #stop in for an ice cream cone!

LaClare Farms - Evalon - http://www.laclarefarm.com/ #award winning dairy goat farm!

Hidden Springs Creamery - http://www.hiddenspringscreamery.com/ #award winning hand made cheeses!

I'm not going to have any time for work - I'm going to be too busy traveling our lovely state eating cheese, ice cream, bathing with hand made soaps, and smothering my crackers with pepper jelly! What a fun and amazing day!

And with that my friends - 
May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and plenty of opportunities to learn from others and meet exceptional individuals like yourselves!
~Crystal

Monday, May 21, 2012

Press Release: Manitowoc County Dairy Team Receives Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture for $5,000 as Part of the Dairy 30x20 Initiative


Press Release: Manitowoc County Dairy Team Receives Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture for $5,000 as Part of the Dairy 30x20 Initiative
 
Manitowoc, WI – Keeping the family dairy farm alive and growing is important to the two families running the dairy operation near the Branch River on Hershau Road in Reedsville. The view is great, the animals are healthy, and now the dairy team of Otto and Herrmann have some extra help with financing and planning the future plans to transition the operation, thanks to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced recently that a grant was available through the new Dairy 30×20 Initiative. The team applied for the Planning and Preparation Team money for up to $5,000. The team of Mark Otto and Mark Herrmann found out about the grant monies from Cari Sabel, Manager with the Manitowoc Farm Service Agency and Scott Gunderson, Dairy Agent with the Manitowoc County UW Extension. The suggestion to apply was greatly appreciated and today, the team received the good news.

Mark Otto received the call today notifying him that their team received the $5,000 they had applied for. The Otto/Herrmann team plans to use the money for planning and preparation to grow the operation as well as transition and transfer the farm to the next generation. Mark Herrmann and his family have been farming on Hershau Road for two generations and over the next few years Mark Herrmann and his wife Diane will reduce some of their responsibilities as Mark Otto and his family get more involved. Eventually the entire operation will be owned and operated by Mark Otto. This has been a labor of love for both parties. Family farms aren’t as common as they once were and the transition program helps keep the dream of a family farm alive. Mark Otto is getting married later this year and is looking forward to growing his family right alongside the farming operation. Both Otto and Herrmann will tell you that farming is hard work, but it’s a good life. They are grateful for the Grow Wisconsin Dairy Producer Grant made possible by ATCP 161.60 emergency rule as part of the Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30x20 Initiative. They are also grateful to the guidance and support they have received from the Manitowoc Farm Service Agency, the UW Extension, Lakeshore Technical College, and Lakeshore Farm Management.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

How Does Love Feel?

I didn't know how love felt until I have children, but it was years later when I figured out how being in love with a partner feels. And this is it - he is the wind in my sails, the one who is there to pick me up and push me forward when I don't have the strength to move forward on my own. He makes me a better person and he completes me.

Yup...the thought of living without him takes my breath away. He is my other half.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and many happy breaths of fresh air with the one who completes you!


~Crystal

Friday, May 18, 2012

Getting Full of Passion and Happiness

"Follow your passions and hold tight to your dreams and don't give up until your life is full of dreams, passion, and happiness" ~Crystal


As I was watching the winter rye being cut and blown into the chopper wagons yesterday I was thinking about a lot of different things, but something worth sharing is the thought about life being like a chopper wagon. Be patient with me - I find farming incredibly amazing and rewarding in so many ways. The tractor pulls into the hilly field with the chopper and blower attached to it. The driver backs the unit(s) up to the waiting chopper wagon, then puts the pin in. At this point, the machinery becomes one - all the pieces work together to glide gracefully up and down the hilly field filling the wagon. When the wagon is full it is detached and another one takes it's place and this process continues until the field that was once lush and green with vegetation is ready for the next crop. The field looks like a carefully knit blanket with a beautiful pattern of browns and tan.

As I experienced and assisted with the process described above, I was thinking about my life as the chopper wagon. It began empty and ready for filling. As the empty wagon is pulled down the road, it wiggles and wobbles and is anything but graceful. As the wagon is being filled, it moves up the gentle hills and down into the valleys of the field. Sometimes it wobbles a bit, but the fuller it gets, the less wobbly it is. Once full, the wagon glides gently and gracefully through the field and then down the road. It may not move as quickly as it did when it was empty, but it is much more graceful, methodical, and cautious. The wagon is then pulled back to the farm where it is emptied into the silo and the process begins again. If this is my life, I want to be filled with the highest quality feed and I want to be full because I am most beautiful when I am full.

How do I make sure my chopper wagon (my life) is full? I partner with the smartest, most patient farmer I can find. The farmer must drive slowly when I am empty to help me wobble as little as possible. The farmer must slow down or speed up depending on how I am going down the road or the field. The farmer needs to plant and care for the field so it yields only the most delicious food and then make time for harvesting the feed at the perfect time so it isn't too dry or too wet so when I am full it is with a lush and lovely feed. When I am full, the farmer must be sensitive to my needs and know that I am ready for emptying so we can share the experience again and again. When I am idle, during the months when the fields are resting, the farmer must care for me and provide me with all that I need (shelter, greasing, air in my tires).

So in my life...I choose to align with a smart and patient partner. I choose to be treated with love. I choose to be filled with positive energy, ideas, and conversation. I promise to let my partner know what I need. I choose to love and be loved and I will embrace the hills and valleys knowing that each dip and wobble will bring happiness and great satisfaction.

"Follow your passions and hold tight to your dreams and don't give up until your life is full of dreams, passion, and happiness" ~Crystal



Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's in Your Rear View Mirror?

What's in Your Rear View Mirror?
To your left, you'll see exactly what was in my rear view mirror today. It's a load of winter rye fresh off the field and on it's way into the silo. It's nourishment for the cattle at my fiance's farm and I spent the day hauling large (and heavy) wagons from the field, across the highway, and back to the farm. It was an incredibly rewarding day. I was able to experience life through the birth of a new calf, watch the amazing process of hoof trimming, and most important - I had an opportunity to reflect.

My rear view mirror was important in the literal sense today as I was carefully backing up to the load in the trailer but in the metaphorical sense, it is important to know where we have been in order to know where we are going. If we shut out what is behind us, we will make the same mistakes we made in the past. As I was driving, I was certainly looking forward, but I was constantly aware of what was going on behind me. And that...is the gift I was given today. Thank you to everyone for your patience as I was driving the truck and wagons, and thank you to everyone for your patience with me as I experience life's journey.


May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and a rear view mirror!
~Crystal

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Alternatives to Those Three Forbidden Topics


Alternatives to Those Three Forbidden Topics


Expert Author Crystal J Casavant
Unless you are 100% certain that the other person/people share your beliefs or you are 100% certain you want to risk alienating people, you should not talk about sex, religion, or politics. This doesn't mean you should not have opinions on such matters, my father just believed strongly that we should talk about the things that unite us instead of the things that divide us. The difference between other topics and the three forbidden topics are that our beliefs about sex, religion, and politics are core beliefs and core beliefs cannot be changed by others. You may be able to change my mind about eating more fiber, wearing green, or shopping at a particular store. However, only I can change how I feel about having sex, worshiping God, or voting conservative. The more you try to convince me otherwise, the more I will resist. If someday I come to agreement with you, it must be on my own accord.
Now that you know why it is fruitless to try to persuade someone about their core beliefs, let's think about where to go from here. It's always easiest to avoid those touchy subjects, but what if you walk smack dab into the middle of one? You really have three choices: 1-try to change the subject, 2-walk away and talk to someone else, 3-approach the subject carefully and join in. Options one and two are the best options as number three may cause you more stress (going back to my father's point about things that divide us versus things that unite us). In an idea world, you wouldn't have to choose how you'd handle the situation, because others would avoid the topics just like you do.
To avoid the three forbidden topics, try some of the following conversation starters the next time you are in a group:
*Ask others where they are from.
*Ask others what type of work they do and what they like best about their line of work or employer.
*Ask others about an upcoming vacation, or where their favorite vacation spot is.
*Ask others about their pets, hobbies, or any sports they may be involved in.
If someone asks you about your political view point, how you feel about homosexual marriage, or they want to complain about their sex life, you may want to make a quick humorous comment and try a different topic. This is sometimes easier said than done, but the best thing to do is to plan ahead. The next time you aren't feeling so warm and fuzzy about a conversation, have an idea in your head about what you could say to change the subject. (For example: My neighbor tells me that the people across the street were having sex with the shades open last night and she wants to complain about it and how upsetting it is that they aren't modest. I might say: "You know, the monkeys at the zoo were doing that very same thing last time we were there so we just went on to the next exhibit. Did you know you can feed the giraffe's at the zoo and it's not too terribly expensive?") 
The above example wasn't a smooth transition which should let my neighbor know that I am not comfortable with the subject and should stop all future mention of it. I let her know I was uncomfortable and I moved on to something more pleasant. If you plan ahead for these delicate moments, you will find yourself feeling more comfortable and you'll start hearing less about peoples sex lives (or lack thereof).
Want to find out more about Crystal and how she has taken life's lemons and turned them into lemonade? Follow Crystal's lemon blog by clicking here: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 14, 2012

Believe in Yourself

Believe In Yourself - there are enough people out there ready to knock you down or kick your a__, why do it for them? 

Now don't go thinking that based on this title I am back to driving the bus...I definitely believe that God is the bus driver. Now that I've offended some, onto today's point which I'll get to via a story.

I previously worked in a large office that had an IT department with several incredibly helpful people who would replace, repair, reboot, computers and could fix network problems, understood firewalls, etc... I was a bit more techy than some, but less than most, and when I got home at the end of the day I had trouble installing anything (including virus protection) on my home PC and went for years without a printer at home because I thought it was too confusing to get it networked correctly.

Last week I paid $6.75 to have 9 pages scanned to a PDF and put on a memory stick. That was it for me, I knew it was time to upgrade my printer. I had a decent HP printer that I had set up myself and that suited my needs before I started Relaxing Consulting...but a business needs a scanner/fax all in one type printer and mine wasn't cutting it. I found a great deal at Office Max and my new printer arrived today.

I admit it, after the delivery man left, I let the printer sit on my desk. I was half hoping that someone would just come over and install it for me, or that it might have come with elves that would have it installed if I just stayed out of the house long enough to let them work in peace. I came home tonight and the printer was still in the box - imagine that, right? I sheepishly pulled out the instruction manual and it wasn't too thick so I gave it a shot. Less than 1/2 hour later, the printer is printing, and all of my devices are networked to it (wirelessly might I add). I can print from my Ipad, Iphone, etc...as well as from my laptop and PC and I'm told I can even print when I'm not here (which I'll have to try tomorrow, since I have two sleeping beauties upstairs).

I'm pretty proud of myself and as one of my dear friends pointed out when she said "you are way smarter than you give yourself credit for! just sayin..." I should believe in myself more. I tell other people how smart and beautiful they are, but sometimes I'm still filled with doubt about myself. It's these moments, these little accomplishments, that remind me that I too can do anything I set my mind to.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and self-love!


~Crystal

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thanks Mom & Happy Mothers Day!


What's a Giraffe Got To Do With It?

I just put the finishing touches on an article about the three subjects you shouldn't talk about at a family gathering or in the work place. Then I came across this great picture and it's going to go fabulously with the article.

Any guesses on what a giraffe has to do with sex, religion, or politics?

It usually takes a few days for the article to be approved, so use this time to place your bets on how the giraffe fits in. Anyone who submits a guess will be entered in a drawing to win a Starbucks Gift Card for $10. Enter as many times as you like. Facebook guesses or blog posts are equally acceptable. (http://www.facebook.com/successwithrelax?ref=tn_tnmn))

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and laughter!
~Crystal


and the answer can now be found here (added 5/14) http://ezinearticles.com/?Alternatives-to-Those-Three-Forbidden-Topics&id=7058554


Alternatives to Those Three Forbidden Topics


Expert Author Crystal J Casavant
Unless you are 100% certain that the other person/people share your beliefs or you are 100% certain you want to risk alienating people, you should not talk about sex, religion, or politics. This doesn't mean you should not have opinions on such matters, my father just believed strongly that we should talk about the things that unite us instead of the things that divide us. The difference between other topics and the three forbidden topics are that our beliefs about sex, religion, and politics are core beliefs and core beliefs cannot be changed by others. You may be able to change my mind about eating more fiber, wearing green, or shopping at a particular store. However, only I can change how I feel about having sex, worshiping God, or voting conservative. The more you try to convince me otherwise, the more I will resist. If someday I come to agreement with you, it must be on my own accord.
Now that you know why it is fruitless to try to persuade someone about their core beliefs, let's think about where to go from here. It's always easiest to avoid those touchy subjects, but what if you walk smack dab into the middle of one? You really have three choices: 1-try to change the subject, 2-walk away and talk to someone else, 3-approach the subject carefully and join in. Options one and two are the best options as number three may cause you more stress (going back to my father's point about things that divide us versus things that unite us). In an idea world, you wouldn't have to choose how you'd handle the situation, because others would avoid the topics just like you do.
To avoid the three forbidden topics, try some of the following conversation starters the next time you are in a group:
*Ask others where they are from.
*Ask others what type of work they do and what they like best about their line of work or employer.
*Ask others about an upcoming vacation, or where their favorite vacation spot is.
*Ask others about their pets, hobbies, or any sports they may be involved in.
If someone asks you about your political view point, how you feel about homosexual marriage, or they want to complain about their sex life, you may want to make a quick humorous comment and try a different topic. This is sometimes easier said than done, but the best thing to do is to plan ahead. The next time you aren't feeling so warm and fuzzy about a conversation, have an idea in your head about what you could say to change the subject. (For example: My neighbor tells me that the people across the street were having sex with the shades open last night and she wants to complain about it and how upsetting it is that they aren't modest. I might say: "You know, the monkeys at the zoo were doing that very same thing last time we were there so we just went on to the next exhibit. Did you know you can feed the giraffe's at the zoo and it's not too terribly expensive?")
The above example wasn't a smooth transition which should let my neighbor know that I am not comfortable with the subject and should stop all future mention of it. I let her know I was uncomfortable and I moved on to something more pleasant. If you plan ahead for these delicate moments, you will find yourself feeling more comfortable and you'll start hearing less about peoples sex lives (or lack thereof).
Want to find out more about Crystal and how she has taken life's lemons and turned them into lemonade? Follow Crystal's lemon blog by clicking here: http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

Are We Stronger?

The days go by too quickly. It's hard to believe how much of my 'to do' list doesn't get done. Some days it's hard to believe everything that has transpired - at times I feel defeated and sometimes I amazing myself with my strength. For the last few weeks, as the sun goes down, only one song comes to mind. These lyrics are amazing, and Diana Krall's performance is even more amazing. If you have a chance, she will be performing in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 16th at 6pm at the Riverside BallRoom. To learn more about Diana, visit her site: http://www.dianakrall.com/news.aspx

And now for those touching lyrics that ring oh so true and sometimes bring a tear to my eye:

Narrow daylight entered my room
shining hours were brief
winter is over
summer is near
are we stronger than we believe

I walked through halls of reputation
among the infamous too
as the camera clings to the common thread
beyond all vanity
into a gaze to shoot you through

Is the kindness we count upon
hidden in everyone?

I stepped out in a sunlit grove
although deep down I wished it would rain
washing away all the sadness and tears
that will never fall so heavily again

Is the kindness we count upon
hidden in everyone?

I stood there in the salt spray air
felt wind sweeping over my face
I ran up through the rocks to the old wooden cross
it's a place where I can find some peace

Narrow daylight entered my room
shining hours were brief
winter is over summer is near
are we stronger than we believe?








Friday, May 11, 2012

Donate to the American Cancer Society

Nearly 1/2 way to my first fundraising milestone of $100 for this year's Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society. Don't forget to donate to this great cause!

Click here to donate. 

Calling All Writers!

Greetings from the shores of Lake Michigan! It is a lovely morning with sunshine, a light breeze off the lake, birds chirping, and fresh brewed coffee with just the right amount of vanilla creamer. This peace and piece of mind brought forth an idea. So many people have stories and they don't have a place to share them. So...here's the idea:

I am actively seeking guest writers/bloggers who would like to share their stories. Do you have a lemony story to share? A time when life gave you lemons and you turned them into the sweetest tasting lemonade? Do you have a poem about life's trials, love, misfortune, struggles, and a happy ending?

Contact me directly at: crystal@relaxconsulting, or casavantcrystal@gmail.com and I'd be happy to take a look at your work. If it fits with the Bring On Lemons 'mantra', you could be a featured guest author!

Don't wait, we all have a story to tell: http://ezinearticles.com/?Every-Life-Is-a-Story-Worth-Telling&id=6937279


May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and creativity!
~Crystal

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Am

I AM
I am quiet and thoughtful
I can be loud and funny
I am thoughtful and kind
I can speak too quickly
I am beautiful inside and out
I can be hurt easily
I am a daughter and more
I can be anything I want
I am sexy and curvy
I can be too hard on myself
I am every woman
I can be broken

If you love me, you will respect ALL that I am

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Great Debate

So...at the Casavant house we sit around and talk about things. Tonight's conversation began while cleaning rhubarb and ended with an agreement to disagree. No, we weren't trying to figure out what came first, the chicken or the egg...we were talking about building your brand and whether or not a dairy farm needs a website.

The Economic Development Corporation of Manitowoc County (http://www.edcmc.org/) is offering a totally FREE $$$$ course on May 22nd and I signed up for it. Here's the scoop about the course:

BUILD YOUR BRAND
Agriculture Product Marketing Seminar

**Wondering how to set your products apart?
**Want a consistent image from logo to label?
**Need a web and social media strategy?


BRANDING - IT'S NOT JUST LOGO'S
with Andrea New, CEO, Image Maker

Who's Eligible: Farmers, ranchers, home gardeners, and agriculture-related businesses.

How Much: FREE!

When: May 22, 2012 3:00pm - 8:00pm

Where: EDC Offices, 202 N 8th St Manitowoc, WI

What Will I Gain: Learn brand development, connecting buyers with your story, successful packaging, super charged websites, and More.

Register Today!
Tel 920.482.0540
MelissaAdmin@edcmc.org

Provided with support from Wisconsin DATCP and US Department of Agriculture

Now that you know where the conversation started...it will all make sense. I of course, think Mark needs a website and a blog. I think people would love to hear cute stories about what is going on at the farm today, how the weather is, how helpful the government was with getting a grant, etc...and Mark doesn't think he needs a website/blog/facebook page and thinks that people wouldn't be interested.

So here we are - agreeing to disagree. 

What do you think? To blog or not to blog, that is the question (sort of)...

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and just enough difference in opinions to keep life interesting!

~Crystal



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gift of Time - A Daughter's Love - Guest Blog

The Gift of Time & a Daughter's Love

Today's Guest Blogger is Rebecca Markvart http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.markvart- she is a special friend and an amazing woman who shared a great story about her mother as part of our mother's day blog challenge.



I truly believe that this is my mother's last mother's day here on earth. My mom is the strongest most beautiful woman I have ever met! Somehow I want to make her understand how special I think she is to me. She's been struggling to live for years now - somehow smiling through it all. Recently she has been put on hospice because she's dying from congestive heart failure along with many other health issues.

I will miss her tremendously but she deserves to be done being in so much pain. I will most likely be spending this mother's day at the nursing home trying to make her understand how special she is. I know everyone feels that their mother is the best, but knowing that we're not sure how long she has left on earth, this mother's day is most special. She needs to know just how strong, beautiful, and wonderful she is. Her beautiful smile will be remembered forever, and I will miss her until we meet again in Heaven. Until then, every day I am able to spend with her is such a precious gift!

~Rebecca

Monday, May 7, 2012

Love, MOM

My child,

You wonder why I hug so tight and why I'm always kissing you,
Someday you'll understand.

I realize how quickly you have already grown and I know,
Soon you'll be an adult.

You once couldn't wait to sit on my lap or softly kiss my cheek,
Those moments are fewer.

I love each of our milestones and I couldn't be prouder of you,
You amaze me each day.

No matter how big you get, I'll always want just one more moment,
To love and hold you close.

Love,
Mom




Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Mother's Day Treat - From Our Family to Yours!



Mother's Day began as a way for families affected by the Civil War to gather and share ideas about promoting peace - the idea was began around 1870 in Boston, Massachusetts and eighteen cities in American participated in the day for peace in 1873. Over time, people lost interest. In 1907 the idea came up again by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia to celebrate her mother's life (and death in 1905). The larger event Jarvis organized took place in 1908 at Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia which is why there is now an International Mother's Day Shrine located there today. The idea began catching on and in 1914 was declared a national holiday by then President Woodrow Wilson.

Some of us think of mother's day as a 'Hallmark Holiday', but it's origins began as a way to share, and as a movement toward Peace. What will you do this mother's day? Please share your thoughts and ideas below, or use the comments of this post as a way to show tribute to your mother. A post will be chosen at random and you will be asked to provide the name and address of a special lady and she will receive a special mother's day card and gift from our family to yours. The winner will be chosen at noon on Wednesday, May 9th 2012.


May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and peace!


~Crystal



Friday, May 4, 2012

Possibly Better Than Lemonade - Lemon Meringue Pie (and love)

When life gives me lemons, you help me make them into a big delicious slice of lemon meringue pie!
~Love Crystal

(those were the words of a love note I left for Mark a few weeks ago)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And that's just what we did...our upstairs bathroom needed a face lift and we happened to have a can of lovely yellow paint.

Here's the outcome:


And the note has now been framed and is a piece of art for this 'new' room!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As for you dear friends - May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine and meringue!

~Crystal

Thursday, May 3, 2012

From the Archives - Some Sunshine for YOUR Day!

http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-a-Lemonade-Attitude-Is-a-Must-Have&id=6952000


Why a Lemonade Attitude is a Must Have

 

Do you want to see your glass as overflowing instead of half full or half empty? Wouldn't it be even better if your glass was filled with lemonade instead of water? You'll want to learn more about achieving a Lemonade Attitude where there are plenty of lemons, sugar, sunshine, and smiles!

 

First, I suppose we should talk about a Lemonade attitude and exactly what that is...I could start at the beginning, but I don’t want to bore you and I assume only a small portion of readers and friends can read my mind. So, here's the scoop. I was raised by old fashioned parents who had a great work ethic, and who among other things wanted me to have a positive attitude. When I would complain, they would remind me that God gives me lemons so I can turn them into lemonade. I refer to myself as a lemon because I recently lost my job and I felt like I had failed...like I needed to find some sugar and sunshine and try to make myself into lemonade. Now I understand there was something even larger at work inside of me - the lemon isn't a symbol for failure, it really is a catalyst for change (cat·a·lyst/╦łkatl-ist/ Noun: A person or thing that precipitates an event.).  
I know that a lemonade attitude is a must have, because I was raised that way and it has served me well.  A Lemonade Attitude is the attitude of realizing that change(a lemon) is necessary and positive if you want to achieve your desired outcome, but part of having a lemonade attitude is also acknowledging that a lemon doesn’t turn into lemonade if you do nothing. Work events are necessary for lemonade – you need sugar, water, ice-cubes, time, and if you want to fully enjoy lemonade…add some sunshine!
Keeping with the lemons to lemonade analogy, you need some ingredients -
Sugar = the people and events in our lives that move us forward
Water = perseverance, our own resistance to giving in and giving up
Ice Cubes = those little happenings that stop us in our track and make us re-evaluate and adjust our course ever so slightly if necessary to achieve our desired outcome
Sunshine = the rewards of our labors; the moments of laughter and joy along the path
I now for the cooking instructions for a lemonade attitude: You need a person or event that changes you, people to support you, a positive attitude and goals, check points along the way, and rewards. Seemingly simple, right? Not always simple, but ALWAYS worth the effort. A Lemonade attitude helps you see yourself as the valuable person you are, helps you value those around you, and reminds you that every step along the way carries with it a lesson and that sometimes the destination isn’t as important as the journey. A Lemonade Attitude also reminds you to relax, you wouldn’t drink a tall glass of lemonade as you were sprinting through the house cleaning (I guess you could, but why would you). A tall cool glass of lemonade is best enjoyed in your favorite lawn chair while the birds chirp and the sun shines upon you!
May your paths be filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!
~Crystal

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Creating More Birthdays and Saving Lives!

Did you know that the American Cancer Society saves lives and creates more birthdays by helping you stay well, helping you get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back? Learn more at: http://www.cancer.org/ or call 1-800-227-2345.

This year on July 27th, I (and my children) will be participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. The relay for life is a life-changing even that brings together more than 3.5 million people every year to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and empower individuals and communities to fight back against a disease that takes too much from too many. If you would like to join me, or donate to me and my team, please see below, or click here: http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?px=28672165&pg=personal&fr_id=39357

I just registered online for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
When I registered online, I was issued my own
personal fundraising web page
It explains what Relay for Life is and why I chose to get involved.

My web page also has my fundraising goal and how much money I've raised so far.

Please visit my page and while you're there...why not make a donation to the American Cancer Society?

Your donation will help the American Cancer society create a world with less cancer and more birthdays - the amount you donate will count towards my fundraising goal.

Thank you so much for your help - I will keep you updated on my progress!
We walk in memory of Andre A. Casavant (who my son is named after), my father who was taken from our lives entirely too soon.

Thanks to generous contributions to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the Society is saving lives and creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back. These are just a few examples of how your contributions make a difference.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Going Back From Whence We Came

We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came" ~ John F. Kennedy


I'm not sure if it's all the wedding talk or just the fact that Spring was my favorite season as a child, but I've been feeling a little melancholy the last few days. Lots of little things have been making me cry. Many would say "it's about time" since I pride myself in not crying...neither here nor there, I needed a little pick me up. Andre and I went to the beach where my father took me so many times as a child. Then, I was the child and he led me under the shade tree and reminded me the importance of listening and taught me to respect the water and the waves because they are both beautiful and dangerous. The tree is larger now, but it has stood the test of time. This morning, I was the parent and reminded my son of the very same things that were told to me at his age.

And then we played...with rocks, sticks, shells, water, our imaginations and our shadows. Most importantly, we laughed. We laughed long and hard, we laughed until our sides ached and our mouths hurt. Then we laughed some more. I understand that my Daddy cannot be with me, but boy does it bring me joy to know that his words, his wisdom, and his love are being carried on to the next generation. Some people may go to a house or a head stone when they feel they need to go back to where they came from, but in this family, we flock to the water like seagulls longing for their home. We are tied to it and the water quenches something deep within us.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, and sunshine!

~Crystal