2 Cups of Tea: When Jethro Fell Off the Back of a Duck…

Jethro the duckOn my walk a few days ago, I noticed a baby duck swimming about and making sweet chirping noises like you would hear from another type of bird. It was definitely not a quacking sound. He seemed to be looking for his mama.

He looked kind of scraggly and rather porcupine-y for a duck. I decided to name him ‘Jethro’ and voiced a quick prayer to St. Francis, lover of all creatures, to see if he couldn’t perhaps lend the little guy a hand or a breeze in the right direction.

About 50 yards later I saw a mother duck with five little ducklings safely ensconced on her lower back. They looked like a snug bunch, each duckling occupying his portion of Mama’s back. All their little baby feathers were neatly combed, and they looked quite pleased.

This cozy party was heading in the opposite direction of little Jethro. So, I surmised that either Jethro got curious and wandered off into the ‘wilderness’ of the lake, or Mama pushed the runt out of the brood. Judging by his tousled appearance I had that awful feeling that he was banished.

Do you ever feel like Jethro? Out there in the wilderness of ideas, technology, crazy schedules or just needing some direction?

Like Jethro we can spend our energy looking for our mama duck, that comforting feeling of belonging to a herd, a tribe, in contact with the mother ship.

But what happens when we have to go it alone and figure stuff out for ourselves? Well, if we take small steps, some tiny ones every day to reach our goals, then even if we can’t locate Mama, we can still make some progress.

Maybe Mama duck won’t care about what happens to Jethro. But Jethro cares. And if he is prudent and avoids the occasional snapping turtle, who may see him as lunch, he may join up with another family of ducks or find a little girl duck and eventually start his own family.

A few days after spotting Jethro, I saw another baby duck out on his own. Perhaps he and Jethro can join forces.

So, to all the Jethro’s out there, keep plugging ahead, and, if you can’t find the right tribe, start one of your own.

Which reminds me, please tell your friends about my little blog, especially if they would like to start a tribe of people who like to read about cute little ducklings and other very weighty matters!! You can even “Like” or “Share” this on FaceBook or in Twitter or on Pinterest!

Thanks bunches!

Yours,

Karen

 

2 Cups of Tea: Don’t Step on a Grapenut and Other Items to Cross Off Your ‘To-do List’

GrapeNutspicmonkeyHave you ever stepped on a Grapenut (the cereal)? You know the extra kernels that fall out of the box when you carefully measure your morning feast, ensuring that you are pouring the correct serving size?

They may be tasty little nuggets, especially with the addition of milk and fresh blueberries floating about like mini life-preservers, but DO NOT, under any circumstances, get one anywhere near the underside of your foot.

In addition to avoiding unnecessary pain, I thought it would be fun to talk about some things that you can take off your busy ‘To-do’ list and free you up for more necessary items. So here we go… do grab a pencil or pen…

1. DO NOT read and respond to every email in your In-box. Be selective. Read only the stuff that you have to read for your job and important matters and (here’s a fun word…) IGNORE the rest. That’s all you have to do. If you ignore them they will eventually disappear! Poof!

2. DO NOT be the one who has to have the last word or response to every TEXT you receive. Just send the letter ‘K’ for okay, and be done with it. Let the other person get the last word.

3. DO NOT fret and re-live the fact that you just ate a donut. Get over it! You ate it. It was creamy and delicious, and you enjoyed it. Instead of beating yourself up, use that energy to take a walk or read a fairy tale to your child or grandchild. The important question you need to ask yourself is… Was it Crispy Creme or Dunkin? Just kidding. There is no point in crying over a donut that was un-spilled, as it lovingly found a home in your tummy. So, as we say up north, feggitaboutit (that’s one word)!

4. DO NOT get upset with yourself for not getting all of your daily goals done. Try looking at your schedule in terms of a whole week. How did you do overall this week? Give yourself some leeway, especially since every day brings with it new challenges and surprises of all kinds.

5. DO NOT feel like you have to be friends with everybody you like. A friendship takes time and energy to build and is something to be treasured because it is so special. You can be a better friend when you don’t have to carve yourself into so many pieces.  If you look at friendship like a slice of your favorite cake, wouldn’t you want more than a morsel?

GrapeNutspicmonkeyA few years ago I took a financial management class and throughout the semester the professor revealed just about every financial mistake he had made over the years. At the end of the course I respectfully announced, “So in essence, Professor, if we avoid making all the mistakes you made, we should make out pretty well financially.” After a few seconds, he replied, “Well, I never thought of it that way, but yes.”

That was the most useful class I ever took. Too bad he had to learn the hard way.

But you don’t have to!! So enjoy spending more time doing the things you need to do and not doing all that extra stuff!

Yours,

Karen

2 Cups of Tea: Why We Like Movies

old_booksDo you like to watch movies as much as I do?

The reason they are so much fun for me to watch is that the women in movies never seem to have to do the mundane. Rarely do they have to scrape onion juice from dinner dishes, ‘assist’ with school projects, fold laundry, or drag in groceries from the car, which itself smells like a giant juice box. Rarely does the main female character worry about what to make for dinner or need to decide when would be a ‘good time’ to glop that awful gook on her head to hide ‘the grays’.

And our heroine never wastes time looking for her reading glasses.

Then, our leading lady gets to go on adventures chasing bad guys all over the city, while her makeup stays fresh and streak free, with hair in defiance of humidity and clothing fit to perfection and flattering no matter what awkward position her crime fighting skills require.

While she is out saving the planet from Captain Evil, she seems to be oblivious as to who is putting the kids to bed or paying the stack of bills that continue to grow like mold on the inside of a yogurt container.

You rarely ever hear our female character mention her ‘To-do’ list or where she’ll find the time to plan little Amber’s upcoming birthday party or get to the gym to spend an hour on the elliptical machine.

If our actress’s character has a job outside the home, there is always plenty of time for the adventure at hand because she won’t have tedious paper work to hand in or be required to sit through endless meetings or conference calls.

Our leading lady’s character gets to do what even she can’t do once she steps off camera. Her character has the advantage of being in a storybook. And we dream of jumping into a similar storybook complete with the luxury of an adventure that is free from everyday concerns.

So, what if we decided to write our own script and take out some of the unnecessaries? What would your story look like?

Does little Amber’s birthday party need to bigger and better than last year’s?

Would we ask our spouse and/or our kids to help around the house with day-to-day activities? Or does our perfectionism say, “I’ll do it, because you, little Timmy, will botch it up.”

Do we stop to think about who is asking for our time and if it really is in the best interest of our family to have another activity that takes us away from home?

What would happen if you let go, just a little?

Who knows?

Maybe it will free up some time for that super heroine inside that wants to create something beautiful or start her own blog.

Happy Dreaming!

Yours,

Karen

 

 

2 Cups of Tea: Life as a Collage

PicMonkey CollageHave you ever made a collage just for the fun of it? I really like this  format because I am not particularly good at creating works of art, but with a collage I can add stunning photographs or detailed illustrations that more talented people have produced. There are a some really cool websites (Polyvore.com or picmonkey.com) where you can create a collage and post your masterpiece on your social media sites or print out a copy and hang it up in your own creative work space.

A collage gives you the opportunity to think of your life in a dynamic way as opposed to a perfectly linear timeline.  As the creator of your Life Collage, you get to highlight the things that make your eyes smile.

Glancing at your homemade collage is more inspiring than glaring at your ‘To-do’ list. Perhaps it will give you that kick in the pants you need to get all the necessary stuff done. It even feels a bit artsy-smartsy to mix and match photos, words and illustrations and come up with a life portrait that is uniquely yours.

So, if you have 15 minutes to set aside, piece together your very own Life Collage as a snapshot of the things that matter most to you and include some pictures that make you chuckle or dreams you hope to fulfill. And then share them with us on Pinterest  and Facebook. We would love to know what inspires you. Happy Collaging!

Yours,

Karen

2 Cups of Tea: When Missing a Golden Opportunity Becomes the Gold at the End of a Rainbow

Daffodils 2Several years ago, I had a great opportunity for a job with a high-tech firm in Virginia.  At that time they had more confidence in me than I did, and I was extremely flattered and very tempted to take it. Ultimately I had to pick between that job and a lesser one four hours away in Northern Virginia.  I chose the latter.

I wanted to be around my sister, who was very sick, and her four children who were very young, the eldest being 5. I knew that I had chosen the better portion, as I never would have had so much time with those four golden-haired beauties if I didn’t take the chance then.

From a career perspective, it seemed the foolish thing to do, but in time I realized that a career or lifelong passion is something that doesn’t just go away. If you tune into it,  you get to work on it all your life. Also, I knew back then that the little ones would grow up very fast, and before you knew it, the oldest one would be completing her first year at University.

Here are a few pointers I learned along the way:

1. If you have a beating heart, you still have time to do what it is you were meant to do.

2. It may take a while to get there. So just take the little steps, one at a time.

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and give yourself time to learn all the things you are going to need to know in order to get to the next step.

4. Be kind to yourself, and you will find that you will naturally be kinder to others.

5. Try to do something each day to work on your passion or toward your goal, even if it is as tiny as writing about a little success you had that day or jotting down an idea in a notebook that you can use later.

Just keep going, like the story we read as a child of The Little Engine That Could, because the alternative could mean missing out on the gold at the end of your rainbow. My gold is still those little angels, and  everything after that is an additional blessing for which I am very grateful!

Have a golden week!

Yours,

Karen

 

 

2 Cups of Tea: … And the I’s Have it!

red bud trees framedI was thinking about the word Initiate today, because to initiate is to make something happen, get the ball rolling, to start something, whatever that thing is.

Then I thought about another “I” word, Inertia, which is exactly that which stops us, that tendency to remain the same, unchanged as it were. Inertia is that feeling we get, that stopping point we come to and can’t seem to jump over. It’s what separates us from reaching the finish line. You have to push past the inertia to initiate.

Inertia contains inert, as we learned in high school chemistry class; the inert gas is one that is in such a state it doesn’t react with anything. Hmmm, interesting. So, if I merely react to something I can get over inertia.

The next word that popped in my head was inner. Getting over inertia requires an inner choice or action. Thoughts precede actions, at least voluntary actions. Of course, inner contains the word in, because the change is at or “in” the center of us.

Which leads us to the final letter/word “I” if we continue to whittle our word down from initiate. I have to be able to look at my inner most being and see what is causing this inertia (identify the hurdle) so I can choose to jump over it and initiate my next action.

What are some of your hurdles? We would love to hear about them in the ‘leave a reply’ link above…

And speaking of I’s, feast your ‘eyes’ on the beauty around you that will be springtime very soon. It’s already happening down here in the South, as depicted in this photo I snapped a couple of days ago. The eyes certainly do have it!

If you like our blogs, please share them with friends and even enemies, so they won’t be your enemies anymore!

Yours,

Karen

2 Cups of Tea: The Road Taken

mardi gras mambo editedIt was a fine Saturday morning, so I decided to walk to my favorite coffee house about a mile from my home. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day, and this in February? The sky was a lovely shade of clear blue, the birds were chirping away, and even the red bud trees were celebrating by revealing their gorgeous pinkish-red buds.

After enjoying my favorite combination (double shot cappo & a biscotti) and feeling like the day couldn’t get any better, I continued my walk around the pretty little (man-made) lakes nearby.

As I was walking I found myself in the midst of a race. The posted signs read: 5k, 10k, 15k, so the participants could do as much or as little walking/running as they wanted. Most folks were walking, suggesting that it was one of those ‘Fun Runs’ and not so much for competition. So I decided to ‘join in’ since we were all heading in the same direction. It was a merry crowd, some walkers even dressed up in the purple, green and gold of Mardi-Gras. Quite a few were wearing tutus!

Now knowing where it commenced, I figured it was early enough in the day that even if the walk took a couple of hours, I could still be home in time to get my work done. So I decided, why not?

I joined in and about a half a mile into it, I realized that I had no idea where the finish line was. I started thinking, “Uh oh, what if the finish line is so far from my house that it takes me hours to walk back? I better ask someone.”

I wasn’t officially part of the race, and I didn’t want to advertise that fact, so I discreetly asked a happy looking lady nearby, “Pardon, me…. so, where is the finish line for this race?”

She was very sweet and answered without missing a step, “Oh, it’s where we started!”

Not wanting to embarrass myself and blow my cover as a race crasher, I sweetly responded, “Yes, of Course. Thank you!”

Hmmm, that wasn’t the answer I was expecting.

So I kept walking anyway. I figured if we kept going away from my home for too long, I would merely retrace my steps and go back. As it turned out, the race ended downtown near the Capitol, which wasn’t terribly far away.

Along the way, I learned a few things:

1. It’s a lot of fun to walk in a race when all the cars have to stop and let you go by.

2. Some adventures aren’t planned. GK Chesterton said that “An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered”. I remembered this and thought, “This could be an adventure”. The only inconvenient part for me was not knowing the destination.

3. Sometimes we don’t know how things will turn out, but we step out in faith because it could turn out to be something good or fabulous or interesting or helpful or beautiful.

4. It helps so much not to go it alone. Having all those other people walking the same route (even though I wasn’t technically with anyone) gave me confidence that we weren’t walking to some awful destination.

5. There may be some surprises for you in the end. There was a surprise. I had a memorable day, and I also found a set of car keys whose owner was only too happy to get them back.

So, the next time you have a chance to take a chance, see if you might just travel down the road you may have ignored or overlooked before. And if you have a minute, enjoy that very famous poem by poet extraordinaire, Robert Frost…

The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Yours,

Karen

2 Cups of Tea: You Are Here

newyorkstate_mapYou are Here

I was driving on a highway in Upstate New York one fall day with my mother, and I thought we had taken a wrong turn. We were on our way to Oneonta to see my youngest sister who was a student there. As such, we were supposed to be on I-88 and instead we were on I-90. Those two little numbers made a very big difference.

“Weren’t we supposed to go that way? I asked trying my best not to be a back seat driver.

“No, I know where I’m going.” Mom said decidedly.

About an hour into the ride we decided to stop at one of those highway rest-stops, and I thought it might be beneficial to go look at the “You are here” map.

“You see where we are, Mom?” I asked, doing my best not to snicker.

“Uh huh.” She said.

No explanation needed after that, but it got me to thinking about why we are HERE, you know, on planet Earth. And I came up with the answer that we’re here to fulfill a mission and then help other people fulfill theirs. It’s so simple, kind of like the map. So what might be your mission? And how can I help you to get there? Let me know below…

Yours,

Karen

2 Cups of Tea: Crossing the Bridge

prague bridge blog

I walked over a very pretty and sturdy bridge today. It was lovely to see the water beneath and the water fowl in their usual spots among the rushes. But what struck me about the bridge was the bridgey-ness of it, the strong steel girders and the heavy concrete floor, which made my traversing it effortless. I have walked over that very bridge probably 100 times, but for some reason today I actually thought about it.

I actually thought about the fact that someone built that bridge so that I (and many others) could cross the divide that lay beneath. It got me thinking about all the people in my life who have been like many little bridges to me: parents, and siblings, teachers and coaches, friends and colleagues, and my spouse, to name a few. All these people and many more helped me get from point A to point B, whether it was learning how to tie my shoes, ride a bike, drive a manual shift (that was scary!!), or make a great tasting pasta sauce. It has taken a town-full of people to cross over the many bridges in my life.

What about you? Who are some of the bridges in your life? Do you ever think about these people and how they helped you get to where you are today? Maybe say a little prayer for one of them, or give them a call, or better yet, send a wee note in the mail. Maybe you’ve been a bridge for someone or lots of someones. Doesn’t it feel good to be that sturdy structure in their life?

Have a Beautiful day, and I hope you notice one bridge today. I hope it will make you smile!

Yours,

Karen