Remember…

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This is a weekend full of family gatherings…cook outs…days at the beach…and remembering.

Memorial Day (once called Decoration Day) was born out of the Civil War. It was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by Gen. John Logan.  His original order was this: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed.  The date was chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.

Since 1971, it has been celebrated on the last Monday in May.

In the year 2000, it was declared that at 3 p.m. local time, citizens are “to voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps’.

It has also become a day for families to visit all of their loved ones’ graves and remember those they’ve lost.  But truly, it is a day for us to remember and be thankful to all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice so that we may continue to enjoy our freedoms in this country.

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Today, I remember my mom’s cousin, Paul J.”Paulie” Hess, Jr., who served as a Green Beret in Viet Nam and was killed in action at such a young age.  He was killed on November 11, 1966 while his helicopter was landing in order to rescue a fellow soldier. He was shot in an ambush. I still remember his picture being on my grandma’s dresser.  He’s a hero in our family and a hero to the nation.

So, enjoy the day with family and friends.  Hopefully, the weather cooperates.  Just remember the reason for the day and say a little prayer for the families of those left behind and, if you’re thinking of it at 3 p.m. – say a word of thanks for those who gave it all.

The Joys of Aging

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“You’re only as old as you feel.”
– Anonymous person who was lying

As we began this latest landscaping project, we had big plans.  Most of those plans involved us never getting tired.

Some of the grunts and groans we make these days are humorous, and then we realize the windows are open and they become less funny.  Getting out of a chair after shoveling dirt and rock all day – not as easy as it once was.  Raking hundreds of pounds of dirt into the lawn – not so much fun.

When we think back on all of the projects we’ve done in years past, we marvel at the energy we once had.  Not that we’re THAT old – but once you hit your fifties, things begin to breakdown more often.  So in order to bring some humor into the situation, today I am sharing some of the perks of being over 50…

  • Your secrets are safe with your friends because they don’t remember them anyway.
  • You sing along with elevator music.
  • You have a party and the neighbors don’t even realize it.
  • People call after 9 and ask if you were still up.
  • There’s not much left to learn the hard way.
  • You no longer view speed limits as a challenge.
  • The gleam in your eye is from the sun hitting your bifocals.
  • You look forward to a dull evening.
  • You send money to PBS.
  • You wear black socks with sandals.
  • When you bend over to tie your shoes, you look for something else to do while you’re down there.
  • You start sentences with, “when I was young”.

It might be a little frustrating that we can’t do the things as easily as we once were able to, but the good thing about getting older is getting older.  The alternative isn’t so great.

Off to find the Ben-Gay.  Oh yes, one more…you can say Ben-Gay without laughing.

“During”

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It’s not uncommon to see ads in print and on television that regale us with dramatic “before and after” stories. Those exciting shows about weight loss transformations – all wrapped up in an hour or so.  Everyone loves the “after”…no one talks about “during”.

The hardest time of any process is “during”.  We all want to get to the end and have the hard work behind us, the problem is that we must go through the trials and tribulations to reach the glory side of things.

We are currently living in the midst of mud.  We purchased a cute little bungalow in the winter when all the blemishes of the landscape were covered with a blanket of white, sparkly snow.  Well, the snow has since melted and we are left with mud.

There are a lot of great analogies in this story, but the one that really sticks out in my mind is the way we forget the “during” part.   It’s why women give birth to more than one child – it’s actually the only way, in my humble opinion.  We need to dwell on the positives of live and move on to the next challenge with determination and a, somewhat, revisionist history of how hard things previously were.

So as we begin this transformation, don’t be surprised to hear a lot about mud and rocks and bricks and sod.  I apologize in advance but I’m giving you fair warning.

I’m awaiting the rumble of trucks to deliver the bobcat and the rocks and sand – while I do, here’s a good before.  I’m actually looking forward to the “during”.

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What Dreams May Come

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Her eyes open slowly.  For just a moment she curses the daylight.  Why did she wake up?  Why couldn’t she sleep forever – the dreams are often kind and welcoming, much more so than her reality.

She takes a jagged breath.  The air slips reluctantly between her lips. The reluctance is not on the part of the body, but of the soul.  There are times when even breathing is painful.

She looks in the mirror at the lines on her face and wonders how they got there.  She doesn’t believe they were there yesterday.  She recalls a song lyric that mentions the lines getting clearer – she understands the lyricist.

Slowly, she drags herself to the kitchen and pours a cup of tea.  The steam clouds her vision for a moment and she begins to wonder whether she’s awake or merely dreaming.  There are times when the line between the two becomes blurred.  This is such a time.

She never knows what will cause these dark moods to settle over her, she has a hard time noticing the change as it occurs.  It’s almost as if she lives two lives – one in the sunshine and the other in the darkness.

This beast has visited her before, it has many names: Melancholia, The Blues, Heavy Heartedness – but she knows it by its clinical name – Depression.  It’s no stranger to her – she’s wrestled with it for as long as she can remember.  For a while she thought she had seen the last of it; alas, she was faulty in her thinking.

As it walks by her side she must do a great deal of pretending.  She must smile and laugh and carry on conversations as if everything were normal.  It is not.  She must answer the tiresome question of “What’s wrong?” with the same old answer, “Nothing.  I’m fine.”  She is not.

Some days she is so disheartened with her actions and words.  There are times when she growls and snaps at those who love her most because the pain is so intense.  She cannot seem to help herself.  She is like an animal with it’s limb caught in a trap.  All she desires is to be free of it, no matter the cost.

Hamlet. Act 3, Scene 1, Line 56.  “To be, or not to be…”  A familiar line which bounces around her brain at times like these.  This day she has decided ‘to be’. This day her companion loses.  Life wins.  This day.

She slowly sips her tea and closes her eyes.  Tomorrow will be better.

Hippo Milk Is Pink (And Other Totally Unbelievable & Somewhat Useless Facts)

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With today being the first full day of Spring, my mind is full of wandering to days of sunshine and flowers; therefore, I am sharing some totally useless trivia.  On a day like this, you’re lucky to get that much…just sayin’.

While listening to the radio this morning, I heard about a list of “77 Facts That Sound Like A Bunch of BS, But Are Actually True”.  Well, that’s just bait for inquiring minds.

Here are some of the more interesting facts from the list (thank you troublemakers.com).

  • If you put your finger in your ear and scratch, it sounds just like Pac-Man.
  • The YKK on your zipper stands for “Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikigaisha.”
  • Maine is the closest U.S. state to Africa.
  • Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barbara Walters were born in the same year, 1929.
  • The name Jessica was created by Shakespeare in the play Merchant of Venice.
  • Cleopatra lived closer to the invention of the iPhone than she did to the building of the Great Pyramids.
  • Russia has a larger surface area than Pluto.
  • Saudi Arabia imports camels from Australia.
  • Hippo milk is pink.
  •  Mr. Clean’s full name is Veritably Clean.
  • Cookie Monster’s real name is Sid.
  • The heart of a blue whale is so big; a human can swim through the arteries.
  • Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire.
  • Not once in the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme does it mention that he’s an egg.
  • France was still executing people with a guillotine when the first Star Wars film came out.
  • The unicorn is the national animal of Scotland.
  • A strawberry isn’t a berry but a banana is. So are avocados and watermelons.
  • New York City is further south than Rome, Italy.
  • North Korea and Finland are separated by one country.
  • Mammoths went extinct 1,000 years after the Egyptians finished building the Great Pyramid.
  • There are more fake flamingos in the world than real flamingos.
  • If you shrunk the sun down to the size of a white blood cell and shrunk the Milky Way Galaxy down using the same scale, it would be the size of the continental United States.
  • Humans share 50% of their DNA with bananas.
  • The difference in time between when Tyrannosaurus Rex and Stegosaurus lived is greater than the difference in time between Tyrannosaurus Rex and now.
  • Pluto never made a full orbit around the sun from the time it was discovered to when it was declassified as a planet.
  • Honey never spoils. You can eat 32,000-year-old honey.
  • There are more stars in space than there are grains of sand on every beach on Earth.
  • Here’s what sand looks like under a microscope

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  • There’s enough water in Lake Superior to cover all of North and South America in one foot of water.
  • For every human on Earth there are approximately 1.6 million ants. The total weight of all those ants is approximately the same as the total weight of all the humans on Earth.
  • You can’t hum while holding your nose. (You just tried, didn’t you?)
  • It rains diamonds on Saturn and Jupiter.
  • If a piece of paper were folded 42 times, it would reach to the moon.
  • The pyramids were as old to the ancient Romans as the ancient Romans are to us.
  • If you dug a hole to the center of the Earth and dropped a book down, it would take 42 minutes to reach the bottom.
  • Every two minutes, we take more pictures than all of humanity in the 19th century.
  • There are more atoms in a glass of water than glasses of water in all the oceans on Earth.
  • The probability of you drinking a glass of water that contains a molecule of water that also passed through a dinosaur is almost 100%.
  • At the time the current oldest person on Earth was born, there was a completely different set of human beings on the planet.
  • And at the time you were born, you were briefly the youngest person in the entire world.

So, there you go.  I’m headed out to soak up the sun!  Happy Spring!

See more at: ChallengesChanges.com New Website – Come on over!

Now That I Have Your Attention…

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Hello all!

Just a note to let you know that the new website is up and running.  As of today, all posts will come from this address:

http://www.challengeschanges.com/

The focus of the site will be on LIFE, FAITH, & TRAVEL.

Please bear with me as I work out all the bells and whistles that come along with starting up a new presence on the world wide web.  I would appreciate your comments as well as your sharing of the site, if you would be so kind. Continue reading