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Friday, August 31, 2012

Everything I Need to Know

It's funny - I sometimes feel like I got 'ripped off' because my Dad died when I was so young. I think...hmmm...what would I ask him now that I didn't think of asking his wisdom, he answered those questions well before they were even on my radar. Let me explain:

My Dad died right after teaching me how to drive a car. I don't know if he was Republican or Democrat. I didn't ask how he felt about abortion or pre-marital sex. I have no idea if he cared how many children I would have, and we never had a conversation about the type of house I would live in, how big my wedding should be, etc...

So you're probably wondering how he answered all those questions if I never brought up the subjects?

Here's the scoop. He taught me a lot of things, but the important stuff can be explained in Ten bullet points (not all that different than the Ten Commandments come to think of it):

1) "You don't have to know everything, but you need to know where to look for the answers" (he was referring to the card catalog at the library.....but on a larger scope you can apply this in so many ways)

2) "This is a small town and I'll know what you did before you get home from school" (you could summarize this one - reputation is important in any business or walk of life)

3) "Practice does NOT make perfect, but if you don't practice there's no way you will get good at anything" (he was talking about my piano lessons when I was 4, but this is so true about marriage, relationships, jobs, etc....if you don't even try to make it work, it won' if you stand a chance in hell of being successful at anything, you need to put forth a little effort)

4) "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain" (self explanatory)

5) "If you do it right the first time, you won't have to do it again" (self explanatory....but had I paid more attention to this one and #3, I wouldn't have had a practice marriage and painful divorce...)

6) "Right or wrong, people judge you by what's on the outside. Don't leave the house unless you look respectable" (I think he mentioned something about running into a future employer in line at the check out of the grocery store...still good advice & I think about it every time I leave the house - which is why you probably don't see me in sweats or jammies in public)

7) "I may not be big, and I can't run fast...but a baseball bat gives me the advantage" (This is how he felt about anyone who tried to hurt the ones he loved...he'd beat the crap out of them with a baseball bat)

8) "If you wouldn't say it to me, you shouldn't be saying it at all" (in reference to swearing, lying, etc...and at one point he mentioned that cuss words weren't used by ladies and when people do use them it's a sign that they're too stupid to come up with the right word)

9) "God isn't just in church" (he encouraged me to talk to God whenever and wherever I was - and when he was close to the end, he said I could talk in the same free fashion to him)

10) "Always do your best - in school and in life, because there are things you cannot go back and fix" (yup - right on here too)

So - in are the Ten things I needed as a child that we all need as adults:

1) Use the tools available to you
2) Act responsibly & treat others well - even if no one is watching
3) Constantly improve yourself
4) Take responsibility for yourself and your actions
5) Do the right thing instead of the easy thing
6) Put your best foot forward
7) Protect what's important to you
8) Choose your words carefully
9) Put God first and know that he loves you
10) Always give more than is expected of you

As you can see, I do have all the answers to my unasked questions. Little lessons learned, remembered, cherished, and shared. There's no better way to honor my Father than to pass this along to my children. Thanks Daddy - you still are the most influential person in my life. I never thought it would be possible to say that nearly two decades after saying Goodbye - but thanks really area always here with me!

And with that - good night dear friends!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and may you find ways to never say goodbye to those you love!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Only One

The Only One
“Linda? Hey, are you home? Helooooo?” Phil called to his girlfriend as he set down his empty coffee mug on the island in the kitchen. Hearing no response, he shrugged his shoulders and picked up the newspaper and me, his buddy Whiskers. We settled in on the couch, I was purring gently while Phil tried to take in the day (or forget the day – I was never sure which). 
The local news on the television. 
Old tabby cat in one hand. 
Ipad in the other.
Phil quickly fell asleep – just as he did every other evening after a long day at the insurance office. Phil and Linda had been living together for just under six months; they had settled into a routine. I didn’t mind Linda so much. She was much better than the other girls Phil had brought home. Missy was high maintenance and claimed to be allergic to me, Shawnda was some sort of dancer and her high heel shoes quite frankly scared me to death as I was afraid she was going to step on me, and then there was dear Lilly….I liked Lilly…at first. Lilly smelled like soap, she baked cookies, and she liked cats. She would stoop down and scoop me into her arms and scratch me in all the right places. She was really sweet, but she had this crazy habit of running to the bathroom right after eating. I followed her in there one time and watched her make herself sick. I never understood that, but Phil said something about her needing help. After a few weeks, she was gone and Phil found Linda.
I had a feeling Linda was going to be around for good. Phil called her his soul mate and had bought a ring. He was planning on waiting a few months, but he was definitely planning on proposing before summer ended. M-E-O-W….
Phil woke with a start and tossed me on the floor. Good thing for nine lives and the always landing on my feet thing. He was frantically running around the apartment. Not sure what prompted all this craziness, but he tossed his suit coat on the table and ran out without his shoes on.
Meow, Meow, Meow….I’m starving. This isn’t like Phil or Linda. There’s no food in my dish, no water in the bowl, and I’ve resorted to lapping water from the toilet. My belly is empty and aching and I could really use some help scratching that spot behind my ears that I can never quite reach. The television is still on and it’s been days since anyone has been home. I’m getting sick of Oprah and the news and wish Linda would get home so we can watch Friends or Charmed…
Yes, Yes, Yes – it’s a key in the door…
Who invited her? It’s Phil’s mom. She never liked me and if I could talk I would have told Phil about all the times she kicked me under the kitchen table. I’m not some sort of dog…all I wanted was some attention. There’s another lady with her; she looks like Linda but with more grey hair and her ankles are much thicker. They haven’t noticed me yet; I’m going to stay hidden until Phil or Linda get here.
Phil’s Mom: “He still has that cat?”
Ankles: “Linda mentioned a cat – what was his name again? That’s right – Paws or something, isn’t it?”
Phil’s Mom: “I don’t really know, but I suppose we should put some food out for the fowl thing. Then we will have to find someone to take it. I certainly don’t want it.”
What? Take me where?
Ankles: “This is going to be harder than the funeral. I wish there were an easier way to do this. I just don’t feel up to it.”
I went back to watching the news and was surprised to see Linda’s picture. The reporter was talking about a terrible accident near the lake…the woman jogging had been struck by a drunk driver….her boyfriend jumped in trying to save her….
Something by the door caught my attention. It was Phil – yay! Daddy’s home! I couldn’t be happier. Why hasn’t anyone said anything to him? Why isn’t he petting me? He’s dripping wet, but there’s no puddle on the carpet. I don’t understand. The television reporter is talking about how the young couple’s funeral was so well attended. What funeral? Phil’s right here…
Phil’s Mom: “I feel close to him here. He’s always going to be my baby. I never thought I’d have to bury my son….”
She’s sitting at the kitchen table now, with her head in her hands. I’m very confused and hungry. Phil is standing right across the room – right by his favorite chair – right by the suit coat with the engagement ring in the pocket…why am I the only one who can see him?


Yes - this story was written from the perspective if Whiskers the Cat. Not sure why things went in this direction, but they did. Thank you Ellyn Toneys for the fabulous picture that inspired today's story.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Gift of Rejection

Today, I received a very polite email letting me know that I had not won a literary contest I had submitted a story to. For some reason (call it human nature if you will) rejection brings me to a funny place. I hear every negative comment that has ever been called to my attention. Those thoughts fill my mind and I fight them off saying 'Crystal, not everyone can win. Toughen up. Where's that lemonade attitude you talk about?' and then I start second guessing myself. 'Who are you to tell other people to be positive when you're sinking into the muck and mire of negativity?' on and on....

And then - I am reminded to breathe. Life comes with it's very own phone-a-friend option when you don't have all the answers. I grabbed my phone and called a friend. Sent an email to my husband. Wrote in my journal. I started to hear positive encouragement. I saw the love in my children's eyes. I remembered that Dr. Suess was rejected numerous times before becoming the amazing author we now know him as.

Today's journey was humbling. It reminded me that no one is expecting perfection and that friends should be cherished because without them - life isn't filled with sunshine or sugar...just lemons...

So now - at the close of the day...with my husband at my side, I sit at my desk and let my thoughts flow to my fingers and here for the world to see, I can say "it's okay to fail - it's okay to be a professional picker upper-er of pieces - it's okay to be imperfect and real - it's okay to try again - and it's okay to not be the 'it girl' for everyone"

This contest didn't choose me - but someone somewhere will (someday) and until then, with pen in hand - I say:

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and all the friends that you need to get through the darkest of days.

Let's Write Together!

Writing can be therapeutic - so can a cup of coffee with a friend...but since we may or may not live close enough to meet for coffee...let's write together instead. Grab the introduction, choose the option you like best, and then write a story 250 words or less to go with it. Each submission will be featured on this blog and will be shared with others via social media, so be sure to submit your biographical information as well as your website information to help be recognized for your work! Please submit your original work on or before noon September 4th. Thanks for sharing!

Here is the introduction...

Intro: The phone rings and wakes me from a blissful dream of horses and grassy fields. I squint to see the clock; it's 3:07am and I hold my breath as my husband tries to find his glasses and stumbles across the room to our wall mounted land line. He grumbled something and I'm sure it had to do with his feelings about keeping the land line is today's cellular age. I know this is going to cause an argument if it's not something important. Part of me hopes it's not teenagers asking if we have Prince Albert in a can...part of me hopes that's all it is. Mark is talking quietly in hopes of not waking up the children or the new baby who is next to me in his crib. I have to concentrate to hear what Mark is saying and I have no idea who is on the other line...

Here are your options...

Option 1)
The man my mom is dating has found her on the bathroom floor covered in blood

Option 2)
My sister in law was involved in a drunk driving automobile crash

Option 3)
My friend found her 6 month old daughter dead in her crib

Option 4)
My neighbors daughter is no where to be found. She's only 6 and her bed is empty, the room is trashed, and the curtains are blowing in the wind. The neighbor is a single mother and she doesn't want to involve the police because she is afraid she'll be judged. She doesn't know what to do and is afraid someone has taken her daughter. She wanted us to be the first to know since we have young children and she knows we don't lock our doors.

Please email your submission to:
You may paste it into the body of the email or attach as a Word Document - we are flexible...

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and thoughts to share with friends!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

You Can Speak Your Mind, But Not On My Time?

Today's post title is inspired by the fabulous song that is likely going through your head right now "I still belong, don't get me wrong, you can speak your mind but not on my can live your life, but this is my life..."etc...

The topic however is inspired by a dear friend who recently said to me "why is it so hard for people to be real and have a conversation about things they disagree with?"

I've been thinking about that queestion and the conversation that it inspired - what she was really talking about is feedback. Why is it so difficult to tell someone that you'd like them to do something differently? We beat around the bush, and sometimes never say what's on our mind. Isn't this really the rooot cause of relationship problems? The cause of dating mis-haps, family arguements, and the underlying issue that often results in anger and fighting?

Before you answer, let me toss out some scenarios:

1) You're dating someone who chews with their mouth open and leaves their napkin on the table instead of placing it on their lap.
**there's a few ways to go with this:
Option A - it's early in the relationship so you bow out because it's easier than addressing the problem
Option B - you love the person anyway but gripe to your friends about what a neandrothol the person is and when you're cross about any other issue, that one drives you mad
Option C - you sit down with the person and say "I feel uncomfortable with some of your table manners and wanted to talk about it with you. Did you knw ________ and it makes me feel ______, what do you think a solution might be?"

Most people will opt for option A or B instead of C. It might be that the person has trouble breathing, they didn't know they were doing it, or they simply didn't know any better. Regardless of where the relationship goes, you would be giving them a gift if you gave the feedback....but we usually choose note to.

2) Every morning you hop out of bed and on your way to the bathroom you step on a wet bath mat. Your spouse has done it again and your socks are wet. Jolted awake again...because they refuse to dry off IN the shower and they use the bath mat as an ad hoc towel - letting their hair and body drip onto it rendering it completely soaky and gross.
**there's a few ways to go with this:
Option A - You could send the bath mat to the local thrift shop and hope they don't buy another one.
Option B - You could start doing the same thing, and see how they like it.
Option C - You could gripe to your friends about how inconsiderate he/she is and how bad off you are and you wish someone would have warned you about what a slob you had married.
Option D - You could talk to your spouse and let them know how their behavior feels to you and how much better your mornings would be if they could adjust their behavior. You could even make it fun and offer to give them a demonstration..."the next time you finish showering, just holler and I'll come show you how it's done" wink wik ;-)

Again...most of us will opt for A,B, or C instead of D. (trust me....I'm the girl who completely saturates the rug EVERY time...and only one person has had the kindness and generosity to tell me about it. My ex-husband probably told all his friends what a pain I was, my mother brought it up in every arguement....and I told my husband about it on our first date..."Mark, I want you to know that I have an awful habit that I simply refuse to change - so here it is and if it's going to bother you, we probably shouldn't go on a second date...." He laughed...relieved that I didn't tell him about a drug addiction or something 'serious' in his book.

These are just two examples, and please comment to share your own...but leave with this thought:

Telling someone that they could do something better is a gift - as long as it is well intended. We need to do our friends, family, and loved ones a favor by giving them the gift of honest and open feedback and communication. We owe it to them, we owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our relationships.

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and honest well-meaning feedback.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back To Square One

I wanted to write today (I've been so busy and it's like going to the gym - I miss it so), so I went to a creative writing website and was given the following prompt: "Back to square one..." so here goes:

"Seriously?" Emma hollered as Jake drove away in their Chrysler Town and Country minivan. He had just broken the news about he and Claire. Emma was furious, not to mention too young to be a grandmother. After all, she still fit into her her size eight riding pants and the few grey hairs she had were artfully hidden with expensive highlights. She had been a teenager when Jake was born, and she wanted more for her son. It wasn't that many years ago that she and Eddie had been talking about having another baby of their own, and now Jake was headed to school and she was left to explain things to her husband.

Emma picked up the flour sack towel she had thrown recklessly on the ground. She headed inside with a sigh. Middle of the night feedings, dirty diapers, bottles, mooshy food, rice cereal...and with that, she sat down at the kitchen table, placed her head in her hands, and wept. She wept for the childhood she had not experienced, she wept for lovely Claire who should be thinking about prom and the cheerleading squad instead of a mucus plug and the epidural she would undoubtedly need. Claire - dear Claire - such a tiny thing. Sweet and caring, soft-spoken and gentle. She would make a fabulous mother someday, but Emma never thought it would be so soon. She cried for the unborn child - tears of love, frustration, and fear.

...and then she stopped crying...

Emma stood up, dried her eyes, checked her make-up, and poured herself a cup of coffee. Yes, she was back to square one, raising a baby in the simple old farm house...but one thing would be different. This baby wouldn't go without things, these parents wouldn't have to compromise, because Emma would do what she wished her mother had done. Emma was going to step in and help. She would get up with the baby so the children could make it to class well-rested and ready to achieve. She would worry about groceries, utilities, car seats, and immunizations. This was her chance to give three young people the chance she had never had. Instead of picturing Claire and Jake dropping out of school and working minimum wage jobs, SHE was going to make sure they had the opportunity to graduate, go onto college, and build a better life. Square one, the first building block of something sturdy.


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

Monday, August 20, 2012

U Rock University - Coming Oct. 11th 2012

Do you rock? Do your girlfriends rock? Let me tell you about URock University:

URock University is an empowerment company for women, but make no mistake – we go way beyond hugs, high fives and positive affirmations!

URock is on a mission to help all women embrace their inner rock star by offering a bold and caring approach to personal development.

Graduates walk out of our events feeling a renewed sense of hope, clarity and purpose!

So if you’ve ever felt like you were missing out on something BIG, something FUN, and something deeply SATISFYING – then you might just have found your long-lost crazy sisters…right here at URock University!

Thursday, October 11, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM (CDT)

Mishicot, WI

Just $97.00 - sign up online at:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Love Beyond Reason

Boy - it's been a while since I put my 'pen to paper' as they say. Lots has happened. Some of the things that transpired are not ready to be shared. One of them isn't ready, but I want to share it any way. Judge me if you like, but read to the end and you may just understand what took me 35 years to figure out.

"I wish upon tonight to see you smile, if only for a while to know you're there..."

These words move me to tears, because I have been crying every day since March 24th 1994 when my Daddy died. I dated men who were emotionally unavailable, treated myself poorly at times, and didn't make very good decisions. I didn't feel very valued, because the person who valued me the most had been taken to heaven all too soon. I married a fabulous man at Christmas time in 2000. We were married in the same church sanctuary where I had buried my father. The pain was nearly too much for me to bear. We invited less than a hand full of people, because I was too sad and didn't want to attempt the white wedding.

My marriage ended quickly and painfully. I continued to date emotionally unavailable men. There was nothing wrong with them, but it was clear that we were not right for one another. My career continued to go as planned, so instead of admitting that I was unable to function in a healthy relationship, I submerged myself in my career and ignored the warning signs of being 'out of control'. I thought I could do it all and I was convinced that I didn't need anyone. The summer of 2007 I found myself homeless with a 5 month old daughter. I was living in a camper in a friend's back yard. I was still convinced that I had it "all together", even though my car was repossessed, I couldn't afford formula, and I had borrowed $400 to buy a beater car to get back and forth from work.

I just shrugged my shoulders and figured that everything would work out. And then I met a guy on the internet (MySpace) and agreed to meet him for drinks. Not real proud of what transpired that evening, but he looked and acted just like a man I had I did the unthinkable and had a one night 'fling' with a stranger...I'll cut to the chase and tell you that I stopped losing the baby weight from my daughter, and didn't get my period. (this should explain exactly what happened that night, right?)

Let's fast forward to early 2008 - I have a daughter who isn't even a year old, and I'm expecting a son. No one is exactly thrilled for obvious reasons. I am broke, not making good decisions, and I have no idea how to take care of ONE baby, much less TWO. I decide to name my son after my father - probably hoping that in some way I can fill that void and ease a bit of the sadness I've been feeling. I wasn't super excited when I found out I was pregnant, I am not a great mom by any means - I do the best that I can. It wasn't until 2010 that I finally found the love of my life and we were married on August 11th 2012. (that's another story)

I made poor decisions and I had children because I was searching for love and somehow equated sex with love and thought children would ease my loneliness. My children have suffered a fair amount of heartache because of my selfishness. However, here's the happy ending. The picture below was taken at my wedding, and the conversation between my four year old son and I shows exactly how resilient, loving, and understanding a child can be. Parenting isn't as difficult as we make it - it's not about the decisions we made that made us parents, single parents, recovering parents, struggling parents,'s about the love we show our children, the love we receive from our children, and the love we teach them when we help them lean on their Lord and Savior - it truly is LOVE BEYOND REASON

"I'm your big boy mommy, I'll carry this"

"I love you my handsome prince"

"I love you mommy - a bushel and a peck and a hug around your neck"

"Will you always think I'm the prettiest girl in the world?"

"Yes mommy, I'm gonna marry you"

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine and the ability to forgive yourself. You don't have to be perfect - and loving yourself is something you'll have to do before you can expect someone else to love you.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Natural Remedies for Depression ?

Have you had those moments when you weren't feeling quite like yourself? Those negative thoughts were creeping in? clouding your judgment? making every day chores seem like amazing feats of heroism?

If you've never felt like that - good for you! I on the other hand struggle with life's ups and downs. From depression during my divorce to post-partum depression, etc...

I tend to be a very happy and optimistic person, but the flip side of that coin brings those days when staying in bed is more alluring than hopping in the shower and going through the motions of the day.

There are some fabulous medications on the market today, and seeking the help of a healthcare professional is always a great idea. Sometimes I'm not feeling depressed, but I fear I'm headed there. I don't particularly care for some of the side effects of medications I have been on in the past, and a natural remedy can sometimes give me just the kick in the pants that I need to 'get happy' again.

Here are some remedies that I've found helpful and that have been recommended by Dr. Oz:

**Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids (from fish oils). There are no known side effects and they can be purchased over the counter and may be effective for treating mild depression. (found naturally in sardines, salmon and walnuts)

**Increase your intake of St. John's Wort - also available in most grocery stores or drug stores.

**"Sammy"...technical term: S-Adenosyl Methionine (possibly also good for treating arthritis and joint pain )...I found this product online for as much as $69/bottle or as little as $12/bottle.

Of course, do your research, talk to your pharmacist and your health care provider. The Omega-3 happens to be my favorite, but I am not on any other medications and have no health problems. This is just some random thought sharing and I am in no way an expert or a physician. (that's my disclaimer)

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and happy thoughts....and when your thoughts aren't so happy, may you always find a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Aesthetically Pleasing Lemon

This lemon just may become more aesthetically pleasing...

Tomorrow is my first day as the Office Manager/Administrator at Youthful Endeavors located at 304 N. Rapids Road in Manitowoc, WI 54220. To find out more about what Youthful Endeavors offers, check out their website: or call: 920.683.1800

The Youthful Endeavors mantra is "We Complement Your Internal Beauty" and they offer free consultations with their surgeon and aestheticians.

Seeing this is the week before our wedding, I may not have time to post much about the new job...but as time goes on, I'm sure you'll hear more. Thank you as always for your support. I do plan to continue with Relax Consulting as well as my board position with the Walk to End Alzheimers and Women in Management Inc.

Life's a juggling act, and the more balls you juggle, the better the show!

May your paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine and an aesthetically pleasing view of all things!