A New Paradise

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We’ll say goodbye to 2015 this week as we welcome the brand new year. I have spent this past year challenging myself to capture and document gratitude. Thank you for taking the journey with me.
In 2016, I will celebrate this life and all its twists and turns. I will carry a thankful heart and a positive spirit. I will challenge myself to build strength and remember that dark, cold days will always give way to the light and warmth of Paradise.
Be good to yourself. Love and cherish your life and those who decorate it with beauty and grace. Wishing you a dynamic journey of your own this New Year and don’t forget to send some Postcards from your Paradise!

Holiday Paradise

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As this time of year provides countless opportunities to mix and mingle with family and friends we don’t have the luxury of seeing throughout the year, I offer you this unsolicited advice: Leave your worries on the doorstep. Enjoy your Paradise!
These past weeks I have had the pleasure of seeing so many of my favorite people, people I don’t often have a chance to spend time with. And in those moments, I want to be able to suspend the fast paced hands on the clock. I want to capture the fun and leave the clutter and distractions of the world behind. And that is what I intend to do throughout this season of magical Christmastime cheer. Be present. Pay attention to the gift provided, time with those you love.
Wrapping presents, baking sweets, creating the ultimate dinner menu all have their importance, but nothing more than the importance of those in the room with you. Hug them longer, take more pictures (NOT selfies!), and appreciate your blessing of time with these people who bring joy and laughter to your world. May your worries dissolve as the sparkle of Christmas brings light and love to your Paradise!

Social Paradise

imageThe social media when I was young was not a written statement for all to see, nor was it an image instantly shared. It was a game night our Mothers played once a month. Yes, Monday Bunco Night was when the stories were swapped and the polaroid pictures displayed. After playing together for about 40 years, these Ladies know a thing or ten about sharing life in Paradise.

As a small girl, Bunco night at our home meant decadent delights for my sister and I to sample. And this sugary treat could be devoured in front of the television, a rare opportunity for us. It also meant a time to check in with the Ladies and proudly show how tall we have grown or which teeth we have lost.

As a teenager, any Monday Bunco night meant danger. What stories would the Mothers swap? Would the whole city really find out about why I was grounded for two weeks by Tuesday? Or even worse, would I be grounded again if my Mom found out about what party I was at over the weekend? And did the Mothers really have to share those embarrassing pictures?!?

As an adult, I treasure Bunco night. How lucky am I to have been included my entire life in this dynamic social world? Sitting at one of the three tables as a substitute player, I had the privilege to sample not just the sugary treats, but the amazing life journeys of these accomplished women. They have shown all of us what it means to have a social network where love and support are the goal.

Thank you, Bunco Ladies, for creating this playtime in Paradise. Now it is your grandkids turn to see why these monthly social hours are a special part of life. And know that your children will be forever grateful for the lessons you shared on friendship and fun.

Holidays in Paradise

imageClimbing the ladder to hang the lights and opening the cupboards to retrieve all of the carefully packed holiday treasures, the tasks may, at times, seem like trials but please don’t forget to be thankful for the home you are decorating…your sparkling Paradise!
My sympathy spills over for those who do not have the safety and security of their Paradise at this time of joy and celebration. Hang the stockings by the mantle and give thanks for the warmth. Light the candles and appreciate those that are gathered around with you in prayer. Open the holiday cards sent to your address with an understanding that we are so very fortunate to have a place that we call home.
May the beauty of this Season resonate in your heart and mind. Be sure your Paradise is ready for a Merry Christmastime and the Happiest of Hanukkahs and, most importantly, may Peace be in your Paradise!

Season of Paradise

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Thursday marked the beginning of this year’s holiday season. May yours be jolly, bright, and merry-filled! And I hope that you, too, are overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings that decorate your Paradise.

Spending my holiday with family and visits with friends, I was constantly reminded of what makes our lives sparkle and shine. It is not the way the china is displayed or the ability to make the best pie in Paradise. It isn’t even the expertly wrapped gift under the perfectly accented tree. It is and will always be the people who fill our hours and the attention given to a life filled with joy and celebration.

So, as the traffic clogs your journey and the recipies don’t turn out just right, think beyond that moment to the true significance of this month. Know that the loved ones who share in your holiday traditions will bring the light and laughs that make Paradise!

Capture Paradise

imageMy talented photographer Cousin captured images of my family one breezy Saturday. As we wandered through the peaceful farms near our home, we talked and laughed of family and fun. The shutter on his camera raced to preserve time in my Paradise.

Looking at those images, I clearly see the evidence of the years that have passed, the lines that now crease our once youthful faces and the growth of our baby girl. How did so many years slip by? Did I appreciate them? Did I learn from them to ensure my future years are better?

Of course, I know I will look upon these photographs in 20 years with a wistful eye. I am so thankful he was able to capture my Paradise. The next time you walk down your hall and gaze upon your family photos that hopefully adorn them, smile with appreciation for the love and unity that will forever be remembered!

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Safely in Paradise

imageI sit in my home, so thankful for my safe haven in Paradise. The events of this world shatter the hopes of so many for a peace-filled holiday. My shock and horror join countless others as we relive the events of Beirut and Paris.
I am endlessly grateful for the sacrifce of so many Armed Service familes, the defenders of my freedoms and yours. Thank you Estepps, thank you Coasts, thank you Hintlians, thank you Bowlers. Thank you Scott Murphy, Al Morcos, and Larry Sasadeusz. Thank you to all who have served this Great Nation and are serving. Your dedication to the United States of America and to those who enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is appreciated more than we can explain.
Spend this Thanksgiving season with grace not grudges, love not limiting judgements, and most especially a grateful heart! That will be the best kind of Paradise.

Glimpse of Paradise

I love seeing the ocean. Even if it is just a shimmer in the distance or the enchanting blue along the highway as we travel, the power and beauty are unparalleled. Today, we escaped the usual routine and filled our morning hours with sunshine and sand. And the start of our week is all the better because of this.

Wandering through shops and walking along the shore, I wanted the hands of the racing clock to slow. I need more time to laugh, to feel carefree, to breathe. I need more time in Paradise. But, we get what we get. And we better appreciate the moments we have, even when it is just a glimpse.
My Paradise today was about taking a break and enjoying the unplanned, adding that extra something that makes our lives rich and satisfying. And when my daughter laughs along the shore and presents me with a heart shaped rock to commemorate the day, I know to celebrate this sparkling glimpse of Paradise.

 

Pretending in Paradise

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Halloween! The best evening for pretending! I hope you all enjoyed a fun and spooky evening with friends and loved ones. As Halloween is the official kick off of Holiday Season for us, I invite you to begin your reflective journey this season and count those blessings before you count the obligations.
Sometimes I love to pretend, pretend I don’t have to go to work Monday mornings or I don’t have to finish the tasks that an aging house requires or pretend that I dont have the worries of life that I carry. Then I really begin to consider the alternatives. I don’t need to pretend that I have a family who loves and cares for me. I don’t need to pretend I have friends who will support me. I don’t need to pretend that my life would be better if only…mine is filled with immeasurable blessings.
Pretend you couldn’t tell those you loved just how much they mean to you. Pretend you couldn’t move, think, and live as you have enjoyed these past many years. Scary, right! Now, stop pretending and start your season of Thanksgiving in the Paradise you have created.

 

 

 

 

Painting Paradise

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Tonight was a celebration of mothers and daughters. A tradition we started many years ago, this evening was dedicated to laughter, memories, and a love for each other that spans more than four decades. On the adventure of life together, sharing triumphs and sorrows, these Ladies have shown me how to create Paradise.
While the instructor of the Wine and Paint party tried to direct us, we are a STRONG group, with designs of our own in mind. So typical, isn’t it? There is always someone to show us how to complete a task, whatever it may be, and we are compelled to shift, pull, and stretch the guidelines to suit our version of Paradise. And I am oh-so-thankful to these Ladies for always reminding me to forge my own path and produce my own Paradise.
I look at our finished products this evening: crooked, crazy, and just a whole lot of fun. We may not have the patience to create exquisite art, but we sure have created exquisite friendships. Ladies, thank you for painting with me a Paradise of love, support, and true beauty!