The Journal Dilemma

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The Journal Dilemma

I have an end of the year ritual that usually happens every December 31. I must select a new journal for the coming year. It is a dilemma! I have several empty ones on my shelf right now. I have some that I love, and I have others that I like. It may not sound like a big deal, but I will have a relationship with this book for the year. It will meet me every night when I go to bed, and it will travel with me wherever I go. This book will hold my thoughts, my wishes, as well as my hurts and disappointments. It will be my companion. My new journal needs to feel good in my hands, and it needs to be beautiful; worthy of the secrets I will tell it.

Here are some of my choices. My daughter and her husband gave me two new journals for Christmas, and they are lovely books. They both have sweet sayings on the cover. One says “Brilliant ideas,” and the other says “Leave a little kindness wherever you go.” Perhaps one of these would be my secret keeper for the year. Another one from my shelf is black leather with a tree carved into the cover. I have great admiration for trees and leaves (that’s another blog for another day), maybe this should be it. Then yet another, light brown leather with a Celtic tree of life on the front and Celtic knots surrounding the border. It has the rustic paper with no lines on the inside; this would be sweet to write in with fountain pens. Another lovely journal to consider is one that is a deep purple color with lovely delicate flowers. I love to garden and plant flowers. There is another that a friend gave me. It says, “A gardener’s journal” on the cover and it has a vintage look and appeal about it. This takes much pondering because I genuinely love them all.

As I write this, it is December 31, 2018, and I have made my decision … but I will very likely change my mind come the evening of January 1, 2019. I’ll let you know what I decide. In the meantime here are pictures of them. Do you have a favorite?

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Wishes – Goals – Action Plan

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Wishes – Goals – Action Plan

Here we are, December 26, the day after Christmas. It seems to me that the next 5 days are when we hear a lot about New Year resolutions; you may be making some of your own. Many times we are not making resolutions as much as we are making wishes. We state things like, “I want to lose 20 lbs this year”, or “I want to be more organized or make better use of my time.” I think a wish is a good place to start, but an action plan is needed to achieve our wishes, breaking things down into smaller bits so we can get there. This turns a wish into a goal. I’ve got a composition book and at the top of a page I write down what I want; the next step is to create a plan of action to get there. It looks a little like this:


GOAL: Make better use of my time this year.

ACTION PLAN:

  • Use a timer and set limits so I am aware of how I am spending my time. This will also help me keep focused on the task at hand.

  • Get my clothes ready the night before, so I am ready for the next day.

  • Go to bed 5 minutes earlier each week until I reach 10:00 pm. (I have been going to bed way too late this year.)


I can adjust these at any time, but right now this is my action plan.

I have found that the weight loss plan doesn’t work for me. So instead I have decided my real wish is to be healthy. To make it a goal, I examined what healthy meant to me. I’ve heard the proclamations of, “I will not eat sugar for the 2019 year!” Nope, that will not work for me because healthy (to me) also means happy mind, body, and spirit. I like cake, cookies—and I adore chocolate— so now what? It would make me sad not being able to enjoy a cookie with my great nieces and nephew; however, I can eat fewer. I can slow down and savor what I am eating. I can also move more. I started this plan about 18 months ago and have become more aware of what I am eating. I also bought a Fitbit to help stay on track with how much I am moving. I’ve shed about 20 pounds in those 18 months. It is very slow, but I continue to progress. Slow progress is still progress!!

I have stories that I want to write this year, too. I got out a second composition book for stories. Once I set up my action plan steps, then I will chart it on my calendar with sticky notes. This way if I run into a life situation I can easily reschedule the plan.

I expect that this plan will work and I can tweak it at any time. The only cost to get started is two composition books and the time to write down my wishes, goals, and action plan.

What wishes are you turning into goals this year? Make sure you set up an action plan to get there.

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Ernestine L. Walden's Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

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Ernestine L. Walden's Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

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I have spent the past week craving peanut butter cookies; I am not sure why. I did my very best to ignore the desire, but alas, I gave in today. I went to my cookbooks and pulled out one of my favorites. It was one of those fundraiser cookbooks that have recipes from lots of people. I am sure you’ve seen them before or have even participated in being a contributor to one. The recipes in those books are usually contributors’ favorites, tried and true. This one was put out by the New York Farm Bureau in 1983 and given to me by my husband’s Aunt Maureen in that same year.

Over the years many of the pages have become stained, proof that I use this cookbook quite a bit. I turned to one of the most heavily stained pages, the one with the Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Ernestine L. Walden submitted it. I don’t know her at all. I began wondering about who she might be. I called Aunt Maureen and asked her if she, by chance, knew Ernestine. She didn’t. We chatted for a while, and I hung up the phone. Just a few minutes later Aunt Maureen called me again, she had done some research on Earnestine and gave me some details.

Ernestine L. Walden was born Jan 20, 1924, to Ernest and Mary Swartz Kenyon, I am guessing she was named after her father. She died January 21, 2017, one day after her 93rd birthday. She married in 1941, and her first husband died in 1971, she remarried a year later to William J. Walden, and he died in 1996.

Her obituary stated, “Mrs. Walden was a proud homemaker who raised five children. She was a member of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Church in Franklinville and the Farm Bureau, and she delivered Meals on Wheels”. She sounds to me like she was a lively woman — someone you’d want to get to know.

I enjoyed learning a little bit of her story. I wonder how many people out there have adopted her cookie recipe and have made them part of their stories. I know it is part of mine. So, here you go! Here is Ernestine’s Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Give it a try, tell me what you think. Will it become part of your family story?

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A Christmas Un-Tree

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A Christmas Un-Tree

This year my husband and I decided not to have a Christmas tree. It's not that we don't like Christmas trees, on the contrary, we love them. However, this year we decided to be much more simplistic in our decor. I had surgery on November 19 on my right hand for carpal tunnel syndrome; it was quite severe in that hand. Next week I will have the left hand done too. At this moment my right hand is sore but healing very well. It will be lovely to be able to go through life without my hands falling asleep when I write, sew, sleep, or any other activity. I am thankful. Steven and I have about 10 boxes of decorations, this year we took 2 out of the attic and used only about 1 box worth of decorations.

I most certainly wanted to do something decorative in the house to acknowledge the season, so I went into my craft room and gathered up some white branches I had that were leftover from our daughter's, Genette, wedding. From my garden, I brought in a tower I use for my morning glories to climb and cleaned the dirt from it. From the boxes brought down from the attic, I used some of the artificial poinsettias and tree ornaments. I came up with my Christmas Un-tree. I also took out some fabric and ribbon and wrapped the pillows on my sofa to look like packages. I like it. It will be easy to take down after the season as I continue to heal from my hand surgeries.

Genette and her husband Abe will be coming in the weekend before Christmas. Our youngest, Carmen, will be here too and we will skype in our son, Bryon, and his fiance, Amber. We will open gifts from one another then. On Christmas day our youngest will host Steven and I at her house. Genette and Abe will be with his parents. A couple of weeks later I will take down our Christmas Un-tree and put everything away. Then I will store the memory and will tell the story of, One year we had a Christmas Un-tree.

May you have the most joyous of celebrations with your family and friends throughout the season.

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We Remember

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We Remember

At the beginning of November this year I was performing in Tucson Arizona. While I was there Margy, my host, took me to the Day of the Dead celebration. It was an amazing experience for me. People were dressed in costumes and decorated their faces with white, black, and red makeup to look like skeletons. Others brought pictures or mementos of loved ones who have passed on. It is a celebration of remembrance for those who are no longer living on this earth. November is nearly over but when I woke up this morning this celebration was on my mind. It is my understanding that the whole idea is that so long as you speak the name of those who have passed they are never really gone.

Here at the end of the year, we celebrate the holidays. I realized this morning that this is my time of remembrance and it very likely is a time of remembrance for you too. My family celebrated our family holiday together in the middle of November; it lasts for about 3 days. As we all prepared our traditional meal, my sister and I taught our children how to make some of the regular dishes enjoyed on the table. Throughout the weekend we often said, “Do you remember how Daddy…” or “Mom used to …”. We always look at the tiny ones and take note of how much they look like someone who came before them. We remember.

I look around my home and smile as I admire furniture that once belonged to my Grandmother. There are quilts my mother made from clothing once worn by family members. My father’s hat hangs on a hook in my living room, a lamp once owned by my aunt illuminates the pages of my book, I make homemade rolls from a recipe that was created by my husband’s grandmother, we call them Grandma’s Rolls. I often hold a pen or pencil in the unique way my father did to write. My sister’s house is much the same, and she makes homemade noodles from a recipe that belonged to her mother-in-law. We remember.

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There are remembrances and a story of those who have passed everywhere. My husband and I were traveling, and at a rest station, there was a memorial with individual names of police from the area who died in the line of duty. Consider all of the war memorials that carry the individual names of those who have passed, monuments stand strong and tall to remember, auditoriums and parks are often named for those who have gone on…I could continue, but I think you get the idea. We remember.

I tell stories on stage, and at nearly every performance someone comes up to me and tells me about a chord of remembrance that was plucked. We remember.

What fond memory do you have? What story do you tell as you remember loved ones who have passed? Leave me a note, tell me about it. We remember.

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