Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Very Superstitious...

I'm not really very superstitious at all.  I meet Friday the 13th head on.  I don't freak out about broken mirrors.  I'm not a scaredy cat when it comes to black cats.  Now, I don't walk under ladders, but that's because it's just not safe.  I don't particularly believe in luck - I believe in blessings.  I don't count on wishes - I count on prayers.  (Birthday candles and shooting stars are exceptions, however.)  I don't believe in magic, but I do believe in miracles.  

I do, however, have some superstitious feelings about the going out of the old year, and the coming in of the new year.  There's just something special and magical and lucky and wishful about a new year.  The old year is just..well, just so last year.  

So that I don't bring any dirty laundry into 2014 with me, the last load of laundry is in the dryer now.  I don't need any dirt from my past cluttering up my future, so the floors have been swept.  I'm over all that garbage, so the trash cans have been emptied.  On New Year's Day, we will do no laundry, do no sweeping and will not take out the trash.  Those acts could interrupt the space/time continuum and alter the course of the whole year.  We could unwittingly wash someone important out of our lives, sweep our good luck right out the door and trash our hopes and dreams.  I just don't need that kind of nonsense following me around for a 365 days.  

For good luck and prosperity, we'll have black-eyed peas and cabbage for lunch on New Year's Day.  I'll kiss my Sweet Hubby Ryan at midnight to ensure warm affection for the coming year.  I'll keep my thoughts positive and my words encouraging, so that the year will be filled with accomplishments for my family and friends, as well as myself. 

Yes, I make resolutions.  Every year.  It's part of the superstition, I guess.  I need to write down my intentions, in order for them to stick.  I always start out with great intentions, too, just like everyone else.  I can't find my list from last year, but I know it included going to the gym (I've been pretty steady at going two to three times a week!), making a point to perform at least one random act of kindness per week (that one has been pretty easy), writing in my journal and reading the Bible every day (those haven't held up as well).  There were some other things, but I sure can't remember what they were.  I'd like to say whatever they were, they have become so much a part of my life that they're now just habit.  I'm pretty sure if I did say that, it would be a big fat lie.  I'm certain I just forgot about them after a week or so.

This year, I resolve to a) commit to going to the gym at least four days a week, b) cut at least 85% of processed foods from my diet (cake will not leave the diet for good) and c) read one non-fiction book for every fiction book I read.  I have a few more, but they are for me only. After all, these are MY resolutions.  

In just a few hours, this year will be over.  Looking back, I'd say it was a pretty good year. Last year's black-eyed peas worked.  I'm one lucky girl.  

Much love, many blessings, good luck and Happy New Year!

What are your New Year's Eve and New Year's Day traditions / superstitions?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday List - December 2013

Most of you got to these stories through Facebook, so most of you already know that every day is a holiday. It has come to my attention that some people like to know about holidays in advance of the actual date, so they can celebrate accordingly, of course. I see their point. I mean, how can you properly celebrate National Donut Day, if you passed all the donut stores on your way to work and THEN found out it was National Donut Day. I don't know why I didn't think of this before. Oh yeah...I didn't really keep up with the blog very well before. Well, now that I am doing better, I can give you a head's up (or is it heads up - or heads' up?...I don't know for sure, but you know what I mean).  

So, here is the list for December. Aaaand, here is the disclaimer. As I've said before, I do not make up these holidays. These are all real holidays, celebrated somewhere in the world (mostly the US, and when at all possible, Texas - I like to keep it local). Some days have more than one holiday - I am aware of this, and I have chosen the one I like best. It was my idea to post the holidays for you, so I get to pick. Mainly though, because, which would you rather celebrate, World Choral Day or Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day (Dec 8)? Sure, about three of you said World Choral Day because you have really nice singing voices and like to sing in public (sorry). The rest of us will be acting like we just showed up from the future and are looking for a flux capacitor. What I mean to say is, if you don't like the holiday, just wait until the next day - I'm sure it will be better suited for you.  

OK, really...here is the list.

 1 - Day with Art Day
 2 - National Mutt Day
 3 - Giving Tuesday
 4 - National Cookie Day
 5 - Annual Day of the Ninja
 6 - Mitten Tree Day
 7 - National Cotton Candy Day
 8 - Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day
 9 - Roller Skate Day
10 - Dewey Decimal System Day
11 - International Mountain Day
12 - Poinsettia Day
13 - National Cocoa Day
14 - Monkey Day
15 - Cat Herders Day
16 - National Chocolate Covered Anything Day
17 - National Maple Syrup Day
18 - Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day
19 - Oatmeal Muffin Day
20 - Games Day
21 - Crossword Puzzle Day
22 - Thermometer Day
23 - Festivus
24 - National Egg Nog Day
25 - Christmas
26 - National Whiners' Day
27 - Visit the Zoo Day
28 - Card Playing Day
29 - Pepper Pot Day
30 - Bacon Day
31 - Make Up Your Mind Day

That's the list. We will eat, drink and be merry all this month - maybe even with a plunger on our heads! 

Happy Holidays and much love to you,

Oh yeah...have you actually subscribed to the blog? If you do, you'll get the low-down way before the Facebookers. Where do I sign up? you ask...up there in the right hand corner...right under where it says, "follow ME by email." Just type your email address in there and hit submit. You'll get an email asking you to confirm your email address (that's so 'they' know that you've really signed up and I'm not just forcing you to get my emails). Be sure and complete the confirmation process. Then, just like that, you'll get stories from ME!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Had a Dream

I dream a lot, and I remember a lot of my dreams. The dreams are usually in color and are very vivid. Sometimes they're pretty fantastical, sometimes scary, sometimes really weird. But, every now and again, I have a dream that's just about normal stuff. That happened just the other night.  

In my dream, I was in the hallway of Martin Weiss Elementary, where I went to school from Kindergarten through 6th grade. (Some of you just smiled at that, because you remember that school. A couple of you probably grimaced, because I point it out every single time we go across that overpass from I-20 onto I-35.) Anyway, there I was, in the hallway near the stairwell that went up to the 4-6 grades, only I was me from now.  

As I walked toward that stairwell, I saw someone I know. In real life, this person is not someone who is in my circle of friends. In my dream she wasn't either. I'm reluctant to say I don't like her, because that just sounds mean. So, I'll say, she's not on my list of favorites. In my dream, she was crying. I didn't think about the fact that she's not my favorite, I only thought to make an attempt at some sort of comfort for her. So, I hugged her. Not just a pat on the back hug, but a real, honest-to-goodness, squeeze-you-tight, warm hug. And she hugged me back. She hugged me with the embrace of someone who really needed that hug. And she sobbed. We held that hug for a while.

After a moment, we released the embrace, she wiped her face and she thanked me. Then she said, "You give really great hugs. You really like hugging people, don't you?"  

I said to her, "Of course I do. It makes people feel better. It also makes me feel better. I get as much, maybe even more, from hugs as the person I'm hugging."

In my dream, I hugged her again. She wiped her tears and went on her way, and I went up the stairs and down the hall to a familiar classroom. And then, I woke up.  

I didn't think about the dream at all, until we were in church. During a children's moment, our pastor asked the kiddos what they could give someone, besides money, that could help someone. The kids came up with a few ideas, until they all agreed on one. They could give someone a hug. That would help someone and doesn't require anything. They even went out into the sanctury and hugged the congregation. That's when I remembered my dream. It all came flooding back to the front of my mind. Filling my thoughts with a memory of something that hadn't actually happened.    

As it turned out, the sermon was on Luke 6:38, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  

That's exactly what I said in my dream! When I give a hug, I get a hug in return. Sometimes, if I have my hands full, or there's a lot going on, I'll give a side hug. You guessed it...side hug in return. When it's a real hug, though, I get a real hug, often a pat on the back, and sometimes even a kiss on the cheek. A good measure, indeed!

A hug (noun) is a tight clasp with the arms; an embrace. To hug (verb) is to clasp tightly in the arms, especially with affection; to embrace; to cling firmly or fondly to - cherish; to keep close to; to cling together. Oh, but a hug is so much more! A hug is a greeting - hello, how are you, I'm happy to see you. A hug is a parting - goodbye, I'll see you later, I'm going to miss you. A hug is a celebration - you did it, we made it, I'm proud of you. A hug is a consolation - you did your best, I'm here, don't be afraid. A hug is a comfort - I understand, I'm sorry, I wish I could make it better.  

Now, I could cite some research about how hugs are really beneficial and reduce stress and lower blood pressure and boost the immune system, but I'm not sure I'm qualified for all that. Instead, I suggest that you go hug someone. I know it will make them feel better. I know it will make you feel better. Maybe that someone will be me. I give good hugs - in my dreams.  

Much love and hugs to you!

Oh yeah...two nights later, I dreamed I had two belly buttons. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It's true...I'm certifiable

Six years ago, after a brief hiatus from the corporate workforce, I was ready to get a full-time, outside-the-home job again (mainly because my job as a stay-home mom wasn't working out all that well and I think I was perilously close to being fired).  In my job search, I, of course, scanned our local newspaper's classified section.  (That plan had proven successful on two previous occasions, so I figured I'd stick with what works.)  I saw an ad that said something like this, "Office Manager needed for administration duties.  General office skills necessary.  Party planning experience preferred."  

Well, it just so happens that I have mad general office skills.  I can enter data like nobody's business.  Microsoft Office is a walk in the park.  I'm an excellent proofreader (of someone else's work, that is).  Google...let's not even get started on that.  I can answer a phone with a smile in my voice and a pleasant "please hold while I get him on the line for you."  AND, my Sweet Hubby Ryan and I have FOUR kids...I have planned some fabulous parties.  I sent my resume, got the interview (nailed it!) and here I am, six years later, doing work that I LOVE.  

As Chief Executive Factotum at The Sparks Agency, I get to go to work every day with people I really like.  I have a boss who considers me an intellectual equal (although he is way smarter than I am).  I'm part of a creative process that is constantly coming up with new, interesting and fun ideas that translate into memorable events for guests visiting Texas from all over the world.  Yes, I do have to utilize those mad general office skills, but I also get to go to all kinds of fun events.  I have become a Special Events Professional.  But wait, there's more!

In the special events industry, one can become a Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP).  These four letters behind one's name are very prestigious and honorable.  "Being a recipient of the CSEP designation  demonstrates a continuous dedication to enhance individual and professional performance.  The CSEP designation offers a competitive advantage when soliciting business as either a special events industry supplier or planner.  It represents proof of your professional market knowledge."*  All it takes is three years actual work experience (got it!) and an exam.  Oh yeah...there's a test.  It's an essay test, too - the worst kind!  Well, there is also a vocabulary section, but vocab is a piece of cake.  (It's not very good cake, but it is calorie-free.)  

Being the smarty-pants that I am, I decided I MUST have these letters behind my name.  (I mean, all the cool kids have them, and I definitely want to be one of the cool kids.)  Not only will I be able to have the honor and prestige of being introduced as MaryEllen Miller, CSEP, I'll get to go to the private, exclusive CSEP events at ISES events and conferences.  It's like a not-so-secret club.  Oooh!  Oh yeah, as an added bonus, I will gain a lifetime of knowledge that can only enhance my abilities as an employee, an event planner and a human being.  

All that leads to this...I have taken the plunge!  Thanks to a scholarship from TxACOM (a fabulous events industry organization), I applied to take the exam.  So I got to work.  I joined a great group of colleagues from across the industry for a discussion group.  I worked tirelessly to complete the outline that will make up the exam. (OK, not tirelessly, I was WIPED OUT when I finished that sucker!)  I studied the vocabulary words.  I got registered at the testing facility.  (Yeah, I have to go to a testing facility - this is big time, I'm telling ya.)

Our Discussion Group: Leigh, Maggie, ME, Jayna & Kay

On Thursday, July 18, at 10:30am, I will begin the certification process.  When I walk out of there four-and-a-half hours later, I plan to only await the confirmation that I passed.  Three separate CSEP raters will evaluate my answers and will let me know if I pass or fail (I mean, will let me know that I passed).  I have studied hard and I have a great support system.  I'm feeling pretty good about this.    

So, my friends, I'm accepting any and all prayers, well wishes, good lucks and other good vibes you can send my way.  I'm certainly happy to reciprocate when and if you ever need prayers from me.       

Much love and many blessings to you!

*direct quote from the CSEP website home page

Friday, May 24, 2013

Picture this...

When I was a little girl, my Grandpap was a professional photographer.  He had a studio where people went and had their pictures made, but the greatest thing (at least, according to me), was that he traveled around and set up a mini-studio in the back of a grocery store or other mom & pop shop.  I considered it to be great, because sometimes he would let me go with him and be kind of a secretary.  Well, at least I thought of myself as a secretary.  I guess I was more like the check-out clerk.  I got to write up tickets and take people's money and real secretarial stuff like that.  

Anyway, he would set up his little studio and families would dress in their absolute finest and come get their pictures taken.  Little boys with freshly combed hair, little girls with frilly little dresses and patent leather shoes, dads with pressed shirts and moms (oh the moms!) dragging them all to the back of the store, cooing, coaxing, cajoling and sometimes carping their families into smiling for the camera.  Grandpap was a genius at getting those smiles, too.  It was just magical.

So, as you might guess, I'm no stranger to a camera.  Growing up, I had my picture snapped more times than a teenage girl making duck faces in her bathroom mirror.   In fact, I've never met a camera I didn't like.  (I've seen some photos those cameras have spit out that perhaps I didn't care for, but we'll just blame those on the lighting.)  Put a Nikon in front of me, and I just can't help myself but to tilt my head a little and break out into a grin.  

More than being around cameras, I've also always been around photographs.  Growing up, we always had photographs all over the house.  Now that I'm the grown up, I take a lot of photos.  I have boxes and books and envelopes and (now) files full of photographs.  Photos of our kiddos, tons of pictures of Peanut, snapshots of my sister & brother when we were kids, pics of Ryan and me at just about everywhere we've ever been, photographs of friends, family, coworkers and schoolmates.  I most likely have a picture of you. 

Until last week, I had never really given a second thought about submitting photos for something before.  I mean, I've done it.    I have rummaged through the boxes and files to find pictures for graduations, for weddings, for other presentations.  I had the honor of helping Sweet Hubby Ryan's cousins, Dana and Susan, put a photo collage together when their sweet mother, Aunt Mary, passed away.  (She wasn't a stranger to the camera either, I might add, lovingly).  Even then, I didn't think about the gravity of it all.  It never occurred to me that all those beautiful, funny, heartwarming pictures of Aunt Mary are all that there will ever be now.  Thankfully, those sweet girls had plenty of options of their dear mother.  

Last week, I was working on a presentation for our Relay For Life event.  The plan was to show a series of photos of some cancer survivors and some who have lost their lives to cancer.  (You can see it on our Relay For Life Facebook page if you want.)  I got the photos from different people - from people on our planning committee, from team captains, from people I don't even know.  The common thread that struck me was that someone thought "this picture" is the one photo that they could find that best represented their loved one.  

I know that some of the people in those photos will have an opportunity for a do-over.  Next year's picture might be completely different.  Things change, people change, hairstyles change (especially for cancer survivors) and the next fun thing they do might result in a better photo opportunity.  

Many of the pictures, though, really put my thinking parts to the test.  I noticed that I had seen "this one" before.  Oh, and "this one."  And "this one."  And then, it hit me.  I will likely not see a different picture of this person.  This is the last one.  The best one.  The one that MOST represented this loved one.  There is not a do-over option.  There are no more.  

I know that everyone doesn't share the same love of the camera that I do.  I have plenty of friends (maybe you) who will do just about anything to stay out of the viewfinder.  For all of you who turn away or hide or put your hands in front of the camera when someone says, "Say cheese," stop doing that.  Smile.  Act like you're having fun (most likely you are or someone wouldn't want to take a picture of you).  Make a funny face if you have to.  When your family has to dig through your boxes, envelopes, books and files looking for a picture of you some day, you don't want the best one they can find to look like that one of Bigfoot.  

What is your favorite picture of someone you love?  What is your favorite picture of yourself?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Does this make me look like a hippie?

It all started with a reusable grocery bag.  Just one.  My local Brookshire's Grocery had them for sale, and I only had a few items.  I thought, "Ahh, what the heck...I should get one."  The next time I went to the store, I left it in the car, of course.  So, I bought another one.  After I finally remembered to take them inside with me, I bought a few more.  When it became a habit, I started really getting into it.  They are a lot easier to carry than those plastic bags, and they're good for the environment.  So, I made it my mission to save the world, one plastic bag at a time.

You have no idea how hard this can be!  There have been so many times when the checkout clerk insists that I take plastic so that my greeting cards won't get squished (really?), so that my cleaning supplies don't attack the bag (come on) and so that my chicken doesn't get salmonella all over everything (ok, maybe they've got me on that one).  Oh, and there are still those times when I leave my reusable bags in the other car and those times when I just forget, but I'm getting better at it.  If I do get home with plastic bags, I try to repurpose them.  Because of that, we have fewer plastic grocery bags in our house and in our landfills.  ...You're welcome.

You would think the plastic bag attack would move directly to recycling.  Well, I would have thought so, too.  Except, we don't really have a place to recycle.  We live out in the country, and, as far as I know, there is no recycling facility (that has hours that are available to me) within a 50 mile radius.  So, all the cans and bottles and papers I was trying to save had nowhere to go.  I remember saving aluminum cans as a kid, and getting tons of quarters, nickels and dimes from the recycling center.  We were rolling in the cash!  I want to recycle AND make some extra cash.  I'm still working on that one.  I'll get back to you.

From reusable grocery bags and almost recycling, I went to cleaning.  A clean house needs to smell like Windex, Pledge and Pine-Sol, right?  Nope!  A clean house can just smell clean, without any fragranced chemicals.  Water, white vinegar, dish soap and baking soda combine forces to make an excellent all-purpose cleaner.  It kills germs, cuts through grease and grime and makes everything sparkly.  I'm not kidding.  I cleaned our ventahood with this combo, and ohmygoodness, all that kitchen funk just wiped right off.  Ok, I added some extra 'elbow grease' to it, but with the store-bought stuff, the greasy mess didn't budge.  The bonus - these cleaning products are all natural!  If your three-year-old wants to help you clean house, it's ok.  He can spray as much as he wants and you don't have to worry about him breathing harsh chemicals.  All-natural products, AND help from the grandbaby...that should sell you right there.

But wait!  There's more!  I didn't mention the cost!  Proctor & Gamble, Dow & Lever are making a killing off unsuspecting housekeepers everywhere.  A spray bottle of Fantastik, on sale around here, is about $2.50.  Even though, when I bought it, I'd always say, "Faaaaannnn-tastic," as I was reminded of one of my favorite jokes, I realized I could make the same amount of all-natural, all-purpose cleaner for less that 50 cents.  Wow.  Going back to Grandma's way of cleaning just makes sense.  Or cents.  It all depends on your perspective, I suppose.  

I got on board with this reusing, reducing, recycling plan and I was pretty much digging it.  Just rocking along with my plastic bag attack and homemade cleaners.  Then, one day, I got a message from God.  No, seriously, I did.  God doesn't always communicate directly to me (probably because most of the time I'm not paying any attention), but sometimes, every once in a while, I can read the writing on the wall (or in the Sunday School book, in this case).  In our lesson just a few weeks ago, was a study on the creation of man.  In reading Genesis 1:28 (NKJV), regarding Adam & Eve, these words just jumped right out at me...~~Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."~~  To 'subdue it' is to 'be its master.'  To have 'dominion over' is to have 'responsibility for.'  We, God's creations, are to be the masters of and to be responsible for the fish, for the birds, for the animals and for the earth.  We are instructed to take care of the earth.  That means, to me anyway, use less plastic, use fewer chemicals, be more organic.  And...love one another.  

So, yes, I'm looking more and more like a hippie.  Slowly, but surely.  It's okay, though.  I think Jesus was a hippie, too.  

Much peace and love to you!

What makes you look like a hippie?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!  I know, I know...it's not Christmas or Thanksgiving or even Easter (although that one is coming up soon).  But, if you are my Facebook friend, you know by now that there is a holiday for every day of the year.  What you may not know, is how I, MaryEllen Miller, became the Queen of the Daily Holiday.

It all started with Dave Barry, syndicated humor columnist for the Miami Herald.  My friend, Dave (ok, I don't really know him, but if I did, we'd be friends, I'm sure of it), wrote a column in 2002 about Talk Like a Pirate Day.  My son, Chris, and I saw the column and had a big laugh about it.  We talked like pirates ourselves for a little while.  We would even bring up Talk Like a Pirate Day every now and again.

In September of 2007, after I'd been working at The Sparks Agency for about six months, I mentioned to Sparky, "tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day."  And, he knew what I was talking about!  (Which, of course, further cemented the fact that I was destined to work for him.)  So, we left work that day, and showed up the next day - BOTH dressed like pirates!  We didn't talk about it before.  We didn't even suggest that dressing up might be fun.  Nope.  We just surprised each other.  Boy, did we feel like comic geniuses, too!

While all dressed up, and using our best pirate vocabulary and scallywag accents, we figured that if today is a holiday, then tomorrow might be a holiday, too.  And, there just might be a holiday for every day of the year.  Sure enough, there is!

It became my mission, right then and there, to research the very depths of holiday-dom to find each and every holiday for each and every day of the year.  It was (and still is) hard work, but it's my life's work.  I consider it to be one of my greatest contributions to society.  Therefore, I try to start every day using Facebook for good (and not evil) and wishing a Happy <insert holiday here> Day to the masses.  No, I will not tell you where I get all the holidays.  You'll just have to rely on me to be your resource.  

Some holidays are commonly known to the General Public (New Year's Day, President's Day, Labor Day).  Other holidays are good for mankind (Random Acts of Kindness Day, National Hugging Day, National Common Courtesy Day).  Many are kind of weird (National Chicken Boy Day, Slugs Return from Capistrano Day, International Sword Swallowers Day).  There are some that remind me of my friends (Lips Appreciation Day - Kathryn Nordstrom, World Nutella Day - Michael Bloomberg, International Day of Awesomeness - Gina Berry).  For the most part though, they're just fun (Buzzard Day, National Sea Monkey Day, Lost Sock Memorial Day).  Whatever they are, I'm sharing them with you.  

I, personally, do a happy dance when my dryer dries the clothes on the first cycle, but there are plenty of people in this world who need a real reason to celebrate something.  If you, or someone you know, suffers from "Stick in the Mud Syndrome," there still could be hope.  Just check back with me for today's holiday.  You, or someone you know, could just be waiting for National Chicken Dance Day to get that stick out of the...ummm...mud, and celebrate!

Much love and many blessings to you,

Psalm 47:1

My favorite, favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, followed closely by International Goof-off Day.  What's yours?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Why I Relay

I told you before that as we go along, you will learn about my passions.  Well, I might as well start now.  I'll do this one at a time, and I'll spread them out over time..just to keep things interesting.

One of my biggest passions is the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life.  It is the largest fundraiser in the world for the ACS.  Everyone involved in Relay For Life has a "reason to Relay."  Mine is an ever changing story.  I started Relaying in 2005, when my friend, Stephanie Couch (that's her on the left), was battling ovarian cancer.  In 2005, she was my reason.    

Stephanie was a spectacular woman.  She was kind and generous and loving and hilarious.  We worked in the same office and in a short time we became great friends.  She loved her family and her friends with all her heart.  She laughed at the same crazy and inappropriate things that I laughed at.  She had horrible jokes, that you couldn't help but laugh at.  (Yeah, I know, birds of a feather and all.)  Our desks faced one another for a while and we could peek around our monitors and keep each other laughing all day.  (The "powers that be" did finally change up that particular seating arrangement.  It was like being in school again.)

She started having some stomach issues and some "female" issues.  After tests and more tests, those issues found a name.  I remember her coming back to work and telling us it was ovarian cancer.  I remember not knowing what to expect from that, but that we were all really positive.  If anyone could beat this, it was Steph.  With her attitude, she could beat anything.  Lots of people had cancer and survived it.  We had no idea.  

Treatments made it seem like it went away.  A complete hysterectomy made it seem like they got it all.  Stephanie's attitude made it seem like she was winning this battle.  She wasn't.  She got the call at work and made the doctor just tell her right then (she was persuasive that way).  It was back.  And it was mad.  

Because the cancer was so angry and so aggressive, she had to have serious chemotherapy treatments.  She suffered through them like a trooper, keeping her attitude as positive as she could through the sickness and the pain of it all.  At least her hair wasn't falling out.  Until it did.  

I remember that day like it was yesterday.  It was Halloween, and Steph, being a huge fan of Halloween and always having clever costumes, was dressed in an all pink sweatsuit, with sprayed pink hair.  She had a sneaker tied to the top of her head.  She was a piece of bubble gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe.  I'm telling you, she was funny! 

What wasn't funny was when Stephanie noticed that there was something pink and kind of fuzzy on the floor.  And there was some of it on her desk.  And there was some of it on her keyboard.  And when she picked it up, she realized it was her hair - her pink hair that she sprayed just that morning so she would be bubble gum.  That's what I remember most about it all.  How that pink hair just kept falling.  I'm not even sure I can describe the feeling I had, much less describe how she must have felt.  I know that it was heartbreaking and that the vision crept deep into my soul where, I believe, it will remain forever.  

In the spring of 2005, another friend at work, Summer, brought us information about this Relay For Life thing.  We didn't know much about it, but we knew that it gave us something real we could do to honor our friend.  So we put together a team and we raised some money.  We went to that Relay and we stayed up all night at the football field.  We cried and we laughed.  We drank the Kool-Aid. 

In 2006, the demon that is ovarian cancer took my friend.  It took her from her husband who loved her oh-so-very much.  It took her from her children who adored her.  It took her from so many who knew how special she was.  It took her from me.  

In 2005 at Relay For Life, I was a Team Member.  Then I became a Committee Member, and then a Team Captain, and then the Event Chair and now I'm the Marketing & Communications Chair.  My "reason to Relay" started with Stephanie.  Then it was (and still is) my Aunt Margaret, who has been battling lymphoma for more than ten years.  But now, the purple Kool-Aid runs through my blood and my "reason to Relay" has grown to something vast.  Now, I Relay for YOU!

I know YOU have been touched in one way or another by cancer.   I have learned so much over the past eight years about how the American Cancer Society can help in so many situations, and I am willing to share that knowledge with YOU at any possible opportunity.  Whether YOU are the person reading this, or the clerk at the Post Office, or the gentleman I met in line at the grocery store a few months ago,  I Relay for YOU.  As they say at the ACS, "Having cancer is hard, finding help shouldn't be."  Let ME help YOU find help.  

There is an official mission statement that goes like this:  The American Cancer Society Relay For Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated.  That about sums up why we do it -  those of us who have drank the purple Kool-Aid.  We're in it for the duration and just can't leave, because we believe we will not forget those we have lost...we believe we will support those who are facing diagnoses and treatment...we BELIEVE that one day cancer will be eliminated.  

Thank you for reading this all the way to the end.  

Psalm 147:3

Much love and many blessings to you,

Are you thinking to yourself, "if only there was something I could do?"  If you are, then YES! there is.  You can make a donation to Relay For Life by visiting my Relay site... http://main.acsevents.org/goto/maryellentx.  For your donation, I thank you.  

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kindness matters

At the beginning of this year, I was thinking about random acts of kindness, and I decided to make an effort to be kinder and more thoughtful.  I know, you're all saying, "but you are kind and thoughtful, ME."  Well, what I really am is polite.  I try to use my manners.  That's easy.  Being kind takes a greater effort than just being polite.  Not much greater, sometimes, but still a greater effort.  I will hold the door for the elderly person behind me at the gas station, because it is polite.  It is kind to hold the door and smile.  It is thoughtful to hold the door, smile and offer to pump their gas.  See, that's where it all breaks down for me...thoughtful.  

I am now on a mission to become more thoughtful.  This is no easy task.  I just don't think far enough ahead sometimes.  And, that's where it starts - thinking ahead.  How does one become more thoughtful when one doesn't think ahead?  

My plan is to remind myself to look for ways to help someone or to make someone smile.  I've even made a list of the things I have already done this year and I will continue to add to the list.  My goal is to do at least one "Act of Kindess" each week.  Now, this is not a medium for me to go telling all the good things about me and all the good things I do.  Instead, it is a way to make myself accountable for my efforts.  Accountable to you?  Maybe.  But at least accountable in that, periodically, I will update you all on some of the things that I have done where I've actually been able to see some feedback.  

The first thing, and the one that I have found to be the most fun for me (yeah, I know it's not really about me...but I like fun, okay...) is that I have started writing jokes on our checkstubs at work when I'm paying the bills.  I can imagine at American Express or the electric company or the water company, that someone is opening the mail, getting ready to apply the payment to our account, and getting a little random giggle in the middle of their day.  It makes me smile to think of the person on the other end laughing at a joke like, "How do you make a tissue dance? ~ put a little boogie in it!"  (Did you just giggle?  I hope so.)  How do I have some feedback on this one?  The Wills Point Chamber of Commerce retold my joke on Facebook - and credited me!  They thought it was a pleasant surprise and even touted my customer service skills.  

So, for almost eight weeks, I have done at least one Act of Kindness.  Has this made me more thoughtful?  I think so.  I told one of those jokes to someone on the phone the other day who sounded like she might be having a bad day.  She laughed.  I smiled.  

I'll update y'all later.  Don't be surprised to find a joke from me in your mailbox.  

Ephesians 4:32

Much love and much kindness to you,

What "Acts of Kindness" have you committed lately?

Friday, February 22, 2013

I've never really done this kind of thing before, have you?

I started a blog!  

Don't get too excited about it...I started it two years ago.  "Started" is a strong word...I created a blog...by that I mean, I answered all the questions to get a log-in and password...in October of 2010.  This is my first attempt at an entry.  It is February of 2013.  I really thought I would have had more to say between then and now.  I hope this is good.  

In future entries, you'll learn more about me.  You'll learn about my family, my friends, my work and my passions.  You'll learn about music, books, movies and tv shows that move me.  You'll learn about my journey through this little life I have.  Hopefully, if it all works out the way it is in my head, you'll learn a little more about you, too.

This is my family.  My Sweet Hubby Ryan and I have been married since 1999.  Chris graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA, back in December and is now the Band Director in a small town in LA.  Taylor asked Valerie to marry him on New Year's Eve - and she said yes.  They will be married in June.  Molly and Andrew tied the knot in September.  Scarlett and Danny are also making plans to spend their lives together with our sweet little Peanut (Braxton), who turned three years old this year.  My sister, Gina, lives far, far away, and I miss her, so I try to see her as often as possible.  Brother, Tracy, just retired from the US Air Force (whoo-hoo!) and was able to move his family back to the Great State of Texas!  I figured I'd start with the basics so you'll all know who the players are in this thing called my life.  More about the family will follow.  Friends will be added as we go along.  

Many of you have come here because I invited you on Facebook or Twitter.  Thank you!  It means a lot to me that you have followed me down another twisty, windy road.  We'll see, together, where it takes us.  

I'll keep y'all posted.   

Much love and many blessings to you,

P.S.  Do you have a blog?  Let me know what it is and I'll follow yours, too!