Attitude Matters

IMG_0701

Do you have a special coffee cup? You know what I mean; it’s the one you reach for even though your cabinet is full of clean coffee cups. If might have a chip, it probably has a few stains, but to you it spells COMFORT. It fits your hand just right, or it has a particular message or design that rings true for you, or it was a gift from someone you care for deeply. As I write this newsletter I’m sipping my morning coffee from my special cup. A cup I bought for someone twenty six years ago, but never gave away.

I met Melinda when we were both students at the University of Missouri.  She was wacky, energetic and a definite risk taker. We hit it off immediately. For the next three years we shared frustrations, dreams, and all the other bizarre things that happen to you in college. We very much had our separate lives and worlds, but we would regularly check in and update to make sure we were on the right course. Melinda was a total original. If I heard rocks hitting my dorm window I knew it was Melinda and she needed to talk. When she was chosen to represent her sorority in a formal beauty contest competition, she whisked me off to The Wardrobe used clothing store to buy a hand-me-down formal so she could make a political statement about priorities.

Over the next twelve years we would graduate. She would marry and move twice.  I would marry and move once. She would divorce. I would separate. She would find herself alone in Minneapolis with breast cancer and move back to Missouri. I would divorce. The fall of 1986 found us sitting together in her hospital room at Ellis Fischel Cancer Hospital in Columbia, Missouri having our own group therapy. She would listen for hours to my woes and regrets. I tried to make her comfortable and smuggle in foods she wasn’t supposed to have. I brought drawing paper, color swatches, and other art supplies so we could brainstorm and create. We were both a mess but we were still having fun.

Thanksgiving of that year my mom and I made our usual marathon-shopping trip to Kansas City. I found a Christmas gift for Melinda, a coffee mug. The entire outside circumference was filled with graphic renderings of artist’s brushes, a paint palette, tubes of paint and colorful paint pots done in primary colors; the perfect gift. Two days later her mother called to tell me she had died.

I don’t share this story to bring you down, but rather as a reminder. It’s not what happens to us that’s important, it’s how we handle what is happening. Melinda was fun and hopeful through tragedy and pain. In my ‘Attitude Matters’ presentation I share my top ways to improve your attitude with #7 being ‘Encouraging Others’. Melinda and I each had a lot on our plate, but by encouraging each other we not only got through it all, we were able to enjoy life. Our attitudes made the difference and it was a choice.

I left the mug wrapped up for a long time, but finally decided Melinda would have wanted me to use it, and that’s what I do. I have other mementos of Melinda in my home, but this one reminds me everyday to get outside of myself, encourage others, make the choice. Don’t get me wrong, I still have bad attitude days, we all do. But having the tools to deal with them makes all the difference.

As an experiment, try encouraging family members, co-workers, siblings, friends, the mailman, neighbors and basically anyone you encounter for one week. Make it a point to notice the positives about someone’s work, appearance or behavior and tell them about it; you will be amazed that something so simple can make a difference.

 

 

 

Fall Bounty

Fall is my favorite season. The cooler temperature, especially after this summer’s record high 100 degree and above days is more than a welcome relief.

Thomas Hawk / Foter

And I love apples! The vibrant colors, the sweet but not too sweet smell the crunchy sound that’s made when you bite into one. We live in mid-Missouri apple orchard country and a September ritual is to visit an orchard or two and collect the bounty of fall. Yesterday afternoon the whole family, including Dexter the Dog went to a local orchard in Waverly, Missouri. We spent an hour carefully picking out our purchases of Jonathon, Fuji, and Jonagold apples.  Did I mention that I love apples? But there was more!

We gathered pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, ornamental gourds, apple cider and red potatoes.  The final thing we do is get a glass of homemade apple cider slush for the road! And watch those beautiful puffy clouds on our way home!

For an easy to make yummy apple treat that requires no baking and little time,  try my Apple Dippity Doos.

Apple Dippity Doos

Both kids and adults will love this easy to mix up treat!

Crunchy Dip

Mix: 1 cup chunky peanut butter, 1/2 cup crispy rice cereal, 1/4 cup raisins

Cut up apple wedges and dip away. Feel free to customize to your taste by substituting chocolate chips or other small fruit bits for the raisins. Try it warm by zapping the dip a few seconds in the microwave before dipping.

Creamy Dip

Mix: 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, 8 ounces of vanilla yogurt, dash of cinnamon,  and 1/2 cup whipped topping.

Slice apples, dip, and repeat!

Welcome!

Do you have too much to do but not enough YOU to handle it all?             

You are not alone. I feel like I’m living with a full plate of ‘to dos’ and no fork to move them off the plate. In fact I believe most of us are. One day my daughter came into my office and forever changed my life by saying to me, “Wow, you have a full plate with no fork.” (See About FPNF for more of that story.) And the rest is history. Or it will be when I’m rich and famous and sharing this story with Barbara Walters. Okay that might be pushing it but a girl can dream.

I grew up on a farm as an only daughter with two older brothers. In fact, there wasn’t another girl for miles around so I played boy games or I couldn’t play at all. I vividly remember being exiled to the outfield with a left handed glove and told to stay there but don’t tell my brothers I said that; they have a different story. They are wrong. Really, trust me on this.

I live in small town Missouri with a semi-retired husband, a teenage daughter, a Yorkie, a Terrier mix we saved from the pound, and my mother who lives in the local nursing home. I am a speaker, author and artist (in a past life I was an art teacher) who regularly uses stories about my family in my work, which is why I NEVER want them to travel with me when I speak. We tried it once in Baltimore and it wasn’t pretty.

I spend most of my days trying to cram all the living I can into the time I have! I hope you enjoy my blog. You can count on me sharing day to day revelations, lots of stories, recipes, and how tos and pictures of my art and DIY creations.

As Rosanne Rosannadanna would say, “It’s always something.”