There are a lot of people today that have an irritable habit. Now I know that you are probably thinking that you could name a few very irritating habits, but I’m talking about an Irritable Habit, meaning that something irritates them, and they are irritated the rest of the day. I have the definite ability to fall into that category, if I’m not careful, and I’m sure you do too. Something makes us mad early in the day, and while it didn’t even begin to be something that should have affected the rest of our day, we couldn’t get it off of our mind.

Sometimes, we allow those little irritations to define who we are. In fact, it can feel like being possessed. This is because we have allowed ourselves to dwell on things that haven’t gone our way. Sometimes, we even think that people do thing to irritate us on purpose. We get to where we can’t seem to say a nice thing to anyone. Our attitude becomes sarcastic and mean. Before we know it, anything and everything makes us mad. You see, irritation can become a habit. After a while we don’t even remember how it all got started.

If we can begin to understand that everybody deserves a little understanding, and that they probably didn’t mean to irritate us in the first place, we might learn to forgive and move on to happiness. I had someone tell me the other day that a person I know to be very blessed, is always irritated. How sad is that? This person has so much going for them, and yet the people who mean the most to them are under the impression that they aren’t happy. Now that…is truly sad.

I have never thought of myself as a Type A personality, and in reality I’m probably not even close, but as is the case with many people, I can find myself having trouble relaxing. There is just so much to get done in a day, and not enough hours to do it all.

Sometimes, I just can’t seem to give myself permission to slow down, until I drop. And of course, when I do sit down, I usually doze off. It’s like the minute my body isn’t in motion, it is just done. And yet, after 20 or 30 minutes, I feel like I need to do more. So, I often find myself still up at midnight or later. Probably because I tried to fit too much into my day…again.

People today, especially those who, like me, are cramming too much into a day, really need to learn to relax. I know how hard that is, believe me, but it is so important. Being overworked leads to stress, which leads to a multitude of health issues, so I am working, not on getting caught up, but on better planning of my day. And maybe, just maybe, on taking the occasional moment to do something just for me. Learning to relax…at least a little.

I was thinking tonight about the next generation. Oh, I know, everyone thinks I’m going to complain about their dress, or attitude, or some other such thing, and while I would agree that those things can be annoying sometimes, that isn’t what I’m thinking about tonight. What came to my mind is the simple fact that at some point we will be passing the baton to this next generation.

Many people would cringe at the very thought, and when I think about some of the kids I see, I might have a tendency to join them in that. But we really can’t judge the kids by what they are today, because tomorrow, when responsibility hits them full force, they will change in a moment, just like we did. There isn’t one adult today, who can honestly say that their parents liked the way they dressed, the music they listened to, or the friends they had. They might have liked some things, but not all. And what parent hasn’t made mention of the dreaded next generation and scowled.

Well, just as we were that dreaded next generation and we changed into the establishment of today, so they will become the establishment of tomorrow, and they will look at their children and their friends as the next generation. And they will hope that as they changed into responsible adults, their kids will do the same.

As we did, most kids will grow into responsible adults. If we can instill in them the values we were raised with, and couple that with love and a respect for their feelings, most kids will blossom into adults that we can be very proud of. Kids are looking for approval…from someone. Now I don’t say to pretend that you love their clothes or music or attitude, but when they do something worthy of praise, don’t forget to praise them for it. If you don’t give positive reinforcement, they will act out to get your attention. We can’t be absent from their childhood and expect them to be great adults. We must love and encourage our kids, and most importantly keep their lives in prayer, because that is the most important thing we can do for them.

I was watching the news tonight about an American family that had just found out that their daughter was among the casualties of the tragic earthquake and tsunami a little over a week ago. Taylor Anderson, an accomplished English teacher who had been living in Japan and teaching English to young students there, used what precious time she had to escape, to make sure her students were safe. It was a brave and selfless act that cost her her life in the end. She was the first American known to have been killed in the disaster.

Losing their daughter was probably the single worst event in the lives of her family, but to add to the tragedy of that loss, is the fact that, as often happens in the aftermath of a disaster, information can get mixed up. Taylor’s family had been told that she had survived and was safe, only to find out later that they had been misinformed. A devastating turn of events. Almost impossible to believe.

I know how this family feels, and my heart goes out to them. My family also experienced a similar devastating situation of misinformation. My Great Aunt Gladys was one of the victims in the 1989 crash of United Airlines flight 232 in Sioux City, Iowa. Our family was also told that she had survived, and it was even on television…but it wasn’t to be. Somehow her purse had arrived at a hospital with another woman, so they thought it was her. We couldn’t believe it, and even continued to watch the reports, hoping against hope that they had been wrong.

Losing a loved one in any kind of disaster is unbearably hard, but when you are told they made it, and then find out they didn’t…well, it’s like losing them twice. It is no one’s fault, of course, and those people who have told someone their loved one is safe, only to have to tell them they were mistaken, are torn to shreds too. It is devastating to all involved, and my heart goes out to each and every one of them.

It’s strange how we can look at our friends’ lives and think that they have it all, and at the same time they are looking at our lives and thinking that we have it all. I was reading a story today about three friends. One started college and quit to start a family, the second finished college and started a family, and the third finished college and didn’t marry or have children. Each thought the others had the better life. We always seem to think that, instead of being content with what we have. It is ok to want a certain life…to plan for what you want in the future, but when things don’t turn out as planned, we need to learn to be content with what we have been given.

No matter how bleak our life might seem, there is much that is good about it. We have been given many gifts and abilities. True the first mother never finished college, and the second mother didn’t use her education, and the third never had a family, but each had something the others wished they did. After repeated letters to each other complaining about what they had missed and being told how blessed they were, each decided that their life was really very special, and they really didn’t want what the others had.

That is a lesson we all need to learn. There are times in each life when we look back and wonder what might have been, but most of us realize that “what might have been” probably would not have been the best thing for us. The choices we make may not be perfect, but the majority of us lead happy lives, and those who don’t could if they would just quit looking back and be content with the blessings they have.

I read an article today on Fox News concerning the 180 men who have chosen to stay behind and fight to try to stop a meltdown at the Dai-ichi nuclear plant at Fukushima. I thought in awe, about the risk they are taking in an effort to save the lives of others. I wondered, if they can only stay in there for 15 minutes due to the extremely high radiation levels, then aren’t they basically committing suicide. Those levels of radiation would almost certainly shorten their lives. These men are heroes beyond any normal sense of the word.

That got me thinking about what makes a hero. People like the fire fighters and policemen and policewomen that went charging into the Twin Towers on 9-11, or those who risk their lives to run into any burning building. People who go out in frigid temperatures to find someone who is lost. Or as in this case, people who go into a nuclear plant that is about to melt down. What do these people have in common? They put the lives of other people ahead of themselves. Somehow, they are able to set aside their own fears and place more value on someone else’s life than they place on their own. That is more than amazing to me. It is beyond comprehension!

Another group that I think of as heroes that many people might not agree with is the news reporter. I was watching Shepard Smith, standing outside in Japan with 6 layers of clothing, knowing that he was in much more danger of radiation the anyone back home, and yet his main concern was how the people in the disaster areas were in danger of losing their lives due to the cold. That is heroic in my book.

Heroes come in many forms, but they all have one thing in common…a love and concern for their fellow man that far transcends their concern for personal safety. It is something we should never forget. Today, I say thank you to all our heroes, worldwide. You are the best.

Most people like either dogs or cats, and my parents were always dog lovers. We had cats one time when I was little, but after that, we had dogs during my entire childhood. Dad always thought cats were pretty worthless.

A short time after my dad passed away, an orange cat started hanging around my mom’s porch, literally howling. She figured that if she left him alone, he would go home, but after several days, she couldn’t stand it any longer. She and my sister Cheryl, let him in and fed him. He was obviously starving and abandoned. Once he had eaten, he decided that he had found a home, and he would not leave. He has made himself quite at comfortable, sleeping anywhere he wants, but his particular favorites are the laundry basket and the bathroom sink, which I find quite funny.

So, it would appear that Mom had a new pet…but, Quincy, as he has been dubbed, is not her pet…she is his!! At least that is what he seems to think. He is very protective of her. When she has fallen a couple of times, and is waiting for Bob and me to get there to help her, Quincy never leaves her side. He knows she doesn’t belong on the floor, so he doesn’t feel comfortable until we get her back in her chair. He has to check on her periodically just to make sure everything is as it should be. He also likes to be near her when she is walking around, and since she has a walker with a seat on it…logically, his spot is that seat…of course, getting a ride is certainly a plus.

As I said before, my parents were really dog lovers, and Dad never thought cats were worth a lead nickel, but with this particular cat, I think my dad would feel differently, because Dad always made sure Mom was taken care of, and since Quincy feels the same way, I can’t help but think Dad would approve.

Bob was called Papa from the moment our first grandchildren could talk. We were so excited about being grandparents. A new phase of our lives had begun…a wonderful phase. New little lives were here. New little people to spend time with…to spoil…to maybe help to shape in some small way. We are so very blessed.

The memories of those early days of being grandparents are many, and varied, but sometimes the most special moments are the quiet times. The moments of watching in amazement while that tiny little one sleeps, and thinking how blessed you are to have received this little life. Watching the wonder on their face as they discover something new. Or just sitting together, quietly, as in the moments I captured between Papa and grandchild.

Bob very much enjoys sitting out on the front porch on a summer day listening to the birds, and just looking at the beautiful day. These two moments with our grandson and then our granddaughter, were so precious that they begged to be captured on film. As I look at these pictures now, I find myself wondering just what little tidbits of wisdom Papa might have been giving these precious babies, or did they just sit quietly in wonder at the beauty of the day. And does it really matter what they were saying or thinking. Probably not, because the really precious thing is the opportunity for Papa and grandbaby to just be together.

Another fun memory I have of going to Forsyth, Montana to visit my husband’s grandparents, is the old swimmin’ hole. I know, anyone who has ever had family that lived on a ranch in the country, might have memories of the swimmin’ hole too, or the pond, or the creek or river, but my memory of it is a little different. As I told you yesterday, my husband’s grandfather was a bit of a pack rat, and he simply hated to throw things away. Someone might find a use for it at some point. Or it simply might not be broken. No matter, he would just keep it around until he found a use for it. Such was the story behind the old swimmin’ hole.

There might have been a pond somewhere on their property, and I know there was a big watering trough for the cows, but who would ever want to cool off there, right. At that time, there were a number of little kids in the family, my girls being two of them, and summer in Montana can be really hot! Now, imagine two little girls, cranky because of the heat, and no real way to cool them off…because there was no air conditioning at Grandma’s house…they still had an outhouse, so air conditioning was not a high priority. Well, you get the picture.

So, Grandpa’s solution was an old bathtub in the front yard. He didn’t figure the adults really needed to cool off, but those little kids needed a wading pool, and since he had the bathtub, there was no reason to go spend good money on a cheap wading pool. He would just bring the hose around and fill up that bathtub, and presto…you had a wading pool. And they lived out in the country, and of course the kids are little anyway, so who needs a bathing suit. Undies and water. That’s all you need. The girls were set, and no longer cranky…problem solved.

When my girls were little, we made sure that they got to know their family in Forsyth, Montana by taking a trip up there every summer. Grandma and Grandpa owned a ranch up there, and we would stay at their house. Their ranch was unique to say the least. Grandpa was a bit of a pack rat, and there was always a variety of interesting things to be found on their place. My girls had a wonderful time exploring.

Going to visits Grandma and Grandpa was always a treat. Coffee with real cream, Strawberry Rhubarb jam on our toast, plenty of milk, fresh from the cows, fresh eggs from the chickens. It was wonderful to be out there, away from the hustle and bustle of home. We could just relax and play cards, which we did for hours on end, because that was what Grandpa most enjoyed doing, and he was ruthless at it, which is why I always wanted to be his partner.

But, the funniest memory I have of those early visits when my girl were young, is their first…and subsequent encounters with the chickens and rooster. I will never forget it and can very clearly see it in my mind. They took one look at those chickens, and started running after them, trying to catch them. Ha Ha Ha Ha, it was hilarious. They ran round and round, and I’m told that normally, the rooster would have gone after them, but he just took it all in stride, and ran. The adults laughed until our sides ached, and tears poured down our faces.

Grandma and Grandpa have been gone for a long time now, but those memories will live in my heart forever. They were the sweetest grandparents a girl could ever marry into.

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