Memorial Day 2015

Middle TN Veterans Cemetery

Middle TN Veterans Cemetery, May 24, 2015

Growing up as the daughter of a career US Army Officer…military holidays were marked with much pomp and circumstance. Depending on the event there would be parades, ceremonies, wreath laying, reading of names, the playing of taps, demonstrations by the soldiers, flyovers, military band concerts, etc. We always were immersed in the true meaning of the holiday. I thought everyone lived that way.

As an adult living in the civilian world, I find that it’s easy for us to “forget” why we have this long weekend. We are bombarded with retail sales events, as the unofficial start to summer – people head to the beach or the lake, there are many outdoor family gatherings and BBQ’s. We need to be intentional about remembering and honoring the reason for this extra day off.

Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring those who died for the freedoms we enjoy in the United States of America. I hope each and every American will pause and reflect on this at some point today. And be grateful.

My husband and I drove out to the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery yesterday. It’s a beautiful, serene setting in the rolling hills of TN. We happened to arrive while a Memorial Day Ceremony was happening at the main buildings. We drove through the cemetery in peace and quiet, marveling at the beauty of the American flags adorning each and every grave. The main thoroughfare had larger flags waving in the breeze. It was a beautiful, yet somber sight. Families were visiting individual graves. Some of those graves are fresh. The reason for the holiday was abundantly clear. Some gave all. Some didn’t come home.

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It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.   ~ General George S. Patton

May God Bless America!

YOLO!

-Jan

New traditions…

Change. It’s never easy.

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(photo credit: Steven Dipolo/Flickr)

Today a BIG change in our Christmas tradition happened.

My family will probably think I’m silly and overreacting about such a seemingly minor change. But I don’t care. I’m mourning the change…despite the fact that it’s medically necessary. Yes…I’m still bummed.

Here’s the deal…we’ve always had a REAL Christmas tree. For 32 years. Beginning with the “charlie brown” Christmas tree we had for our very first Christmas in New Orleans. Seriously, it was pitiful…but it was beautiful to me. We were far away from family…in our new home and simply couldn’t afford a big beautiful tree. My sweet husband had to work Christmas Eve; he stopped on the way home and picked up a free, leftover tree. It was small with bare branches. We didn’t even decorate it. It was perfect!

Shopping for our Christmas tree came to symbolize (for me) the beginning of our Christmas celebration. Through the years we shopped at various tree lots, Boy Scout lots, commercially owned lots, “whoever has the best price” lots. We’ve shopped in in the warm and cold, rain and snow, daylight and dark. We used to be a family of 4 scouring the lot for the perfect tree. We’ve had flocked and evergreen. As the kids have grown into adulthood, we’ve transitioned back to just hubby and I on the hunt. Memories of the anticipation, excitement, temperature, sights, smells, sounds, lights, fires in metal drums, sawdust mixed with evergreen boughs on the ground hold a special place in my memory and heart.

Last year we discovered a new reality. Within just a couple of hours of bringing the chosen tree into our home, my hubby came down with what would become a raging sinus infection. He was perfectly healthy prior to the tree entering our home. He has a history of some pretty nasty, seasonal sinus infections often progressing to bronchitis. We had just never noticed it in relation to the Christmas tree before….but it was crystal clear. The tree was definitely a trigger. So out it went! Immediately!

This weekend, after some supportive, comparison shopping with my daughter…we finally decided on an artificial tree. Purchasing it in a big box…bringing it home to the garage…just didn’t have the same “holiday feel” as picking out the perfect tree on a tree lot. My son helped get it out of the jeep and into the garage; so technically, we ALL were involved in picking THIS tree and bringing it into our home.

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New traditions. I sense there are memorable new traditions yet to develop. And hopefully, my husband will NOT be sick over the holidays this year or into the future. Healthy holidays are the plan!

Disclaimer: Christmas is clearly NOT about the tree. I know that. I value that the celebration of Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The Christmas tree in our home is merely a seasonal symbol. I value the traditions which encourage us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Thanks for “listening”…I’m feeling better already! That was a fun trip down memory lane. Perhaps some new ornaments and holiday decor will help with the transition…

YOLO!

Jan

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day 2014…honoring the intent of the holiday…

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for the US Armed Forces men and women who have died in service of the United States of America. The holiday, celebrated on the last Monday of May, was originally called Decoration Day and began after the Civil War to commemorate they Union and Confederate soldiers who died during the war. This has since been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in military service.

Today, in honor of Memorial Day, my husband (US Army veteran) and I visited the Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery. It is a beautiful cemetery, surrounded by the rolling hills of middle TN. There were many people visiting graves, driving through the cemetery, walking through the graves, even a group holding a memorial service by the grave of their loved one. It was a touching visit.

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived. ~General George S. Patton

Happy Memorial Day and may God continue to bless the United States of America and those who serve to keep us free!

Yolo!

-Jan

Mother’s Day…

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Mom & I with our buddy Jack!

It’s Mother’s Day afternoon and I’ve enjoyed a beautiful day already: mother/daughter night at the ballet last week, church today, brunch at our favorite after-church-breakfast spot (free box of candy for all Mom’s – too bad I’m not eating sugar…my office will benefit tomorrow!), sweet texts from family & friends near and far, phone call with MIL, a tear-jerking, heart tugging, loving email from my son who is traveling and plans for dinner cooked by hubby, daughter & SIL! My life is full of love indeed.

I’m so very grateful for my mother, who among many other things, raised me to love God; to be kind towards others & treat others as I would want them to treat me; to be a woman of integrity; to serve others; and she instilled in me her love of travel, big cities and sandy beaches! I hope that when I grow up I can be a small measure of the woman my mother is! I love you Mom!!

As this year marks the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson proclaiming Mother’s Day a national celebration in the United States, I thought I’d share some of my favorite Mother’s Day quotes.

  • “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” ~Robert Browning
  • “If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.” ~Robert Brault
  • “Children are a great comfort in your old age – and they help you reach it faster too.” ~Lionel Kauffman
  • “A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best, but his mother the longest.” ~Irish Proverb
  • “Sing out loud in the car even, or especially, if it embarrasses your children.” ~Marilyn Penland
  • “There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it.” ~Chinese Proverb
  • “A Mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.” ~Author Unknown
  • “Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials.” ~Meryl Streep
  • “Any mother could perform the jobs of several air-traffic controllers with ease.” ~Lisa Alther
  • “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” ~Rudyard Kipling

I am a mother only because God chose to give me the blessing of raising two beautiful children. I truly believe that is my main purpose in this dance called life. I am learning as I enter this next phase of motherhood…as my children are grown and living out their life’s purpose…that while the role of being their mother changes…the love I have for them only deepens. I can only imagine the love my mother feels for me and my siblings. Wow!

Blessings to all the Mom’s out there! Happy Mother’s Day!

YOLO,

Jan

 

 

Tomorrow…

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Tomorrow…the beginning of a brand new year. You can be anyone you want. Accomplish anything you want. I thought I’d share some thoughts from my own reflection, studying, reading, and planning to guide you:

  • The best day of your life is the day you decide your life is your own. No one to lean on, rely on or blame.
  • Life is about the choices you make. Choose wisely.
  • Live your life on purpose.
  • The gift of life is yours, it is an amazing journey, make the best of it.
  • Every single day matters.
  • Love always.
  • Be authentic.
  • Life is now.
  • You are the hero of your own story.
  • Keep your word.
  • Give back.
  • Be grateful.
  • Live passionately.
  • Mentor someone.
  • Forgive.
  • Be present.
  • Don’t “go” through life, GROW through life!

Begin your new book…tomorrow. It just so happens that THIS tomorrow falls as the FIRST day of the NEW YEAR!

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Have a safe and happy celebration wherever you may be.

Make it a good year!! And remember…

YOLO!

~Jan

#30DOT Project Complete…New Awareness

 

20131201-124722.jpgOn this first day of December, I am spending time reflecting on the #30DOT (30 Days of Thankful) project I engaged in during the month of November. With the Thanksgiving Holiday in November, a time when we Americans typically spend time expressing gratitude for our blessings, it lends itself to the perfect time for a thanks”giving” project.

My Facebook feed had several people engaging in a similar project and more than a handful of naysayers. Without giving attention to the negativity I continued on my path. It is said it takes at least 21 days to create a habit. I can’t imagine anything bad coming from a habit of thankfulness and gratitude. Some days I chose to post my thanksgivings to Facebook and Twitter and other days they were private.

What I DID notice…was a definite increased awareness of the goodness and beauty in my life. I found myself, with this increased awareness, thinking positive thoughts much more frequently. And when the “turkey’s” in my life threatened to pull me down…and yes…I have some in my life, I simply found a moment of awareness and realization that even the negative serves to confirm that I am ALIVE! And then…BAM!! I was hit with thanks”giving” and gratitude once again.

I am thankful I challenged myself with this project. I am thankful I grew during this project. If you’ve never done a similar project I challenge you to try it. Living a life of gratitude and thanksgiving forces me to focus on the positive and that can only be a good thing.

YOLO! -Jan

God Bless America

England cannot definitively determine a date of origin. It is simply too long ago.

China struggles with the same problem. It was developed long before history was seriously documented.

But we are extremely fortunate to know EXACTLY when our land truly became a country…July 4, 1776

~George Will

Happy Birthday, America!! I’m proud to be an American!!

YOLO!

Jan

If you want something…

“If you want something, go get it. Period.”

I absolutely love this video clip. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.

In honor of Father’s Day – I’m sharing this clip of this wonderful advice given by a father to his young son.

We had an amazing Father’s Day here! First church, then lunch with our son, a wonderful phone call to my Dad, followed by dinner with our son, daughter and her fiancee. Our children claim they did NOT collaborate on gifts for their Dad; yet the gifts were perfect compliments to each other. An amazing coincidence? Or children who actually KNOW their dad? I choose to believe the latter. No matter what, the house was filled with smiles, laughter and love.

Richard has always been a dreamer and has followed his dreams without regret. I hope our children have learned the ability to do the same. Life is to short to do anything less. Enjoy.

YOLO!

Jan

 

Memorial Day soapbox…

For those of you that don’t know…I am an “Army Brat”…my dad was a career “lifer” and retired from the US Army when I was about to graduate from high school. I’ve always said my blood runs OD green. That’s “olive drab” for those of you not in the know. My brother followed in my father’s footsteps and became a career soldier himself – he retired in 2010.

I am very proud of both of them…but this post is not about honoring them…the picture is simply to provide you with my personal military lineage. The manner in which I grew up, living on military posts, moving with my father’s change in assignments, living through my father’s deployments and tdy’s, all are woven into the fabric of “me”. I spent many a military holiday on parade fields witnessing how our military honors it’s members.

I love to see posts on facebook and twitter honoring our military members. They have and do collectively provide great service and sacrifice for our country and our freedoms; however, I become dismayed when it is apparent that the general American public does not understand our military related holidays.

This weekend, is “Memorial Weekend”, Monday, May 28th of this year is the federally recognized “Memorial Day”.

While the general populace embraces Memorial Weekend as the “official start of summer”, I find it disheartening that the majority of posts and comments supporting our military clearly do not understand the true meaning of Memorial Day.

So…I’ve dedicated my facebook and twitter posts this weekend to educating about Memorial Day…if even one person learns what the holiday is all about…then I will have been successful.

Simply put, Memorial Day is about honoring and remembering the FALLEN. Those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, their LIFE, while serving our country.

I encourage you to read the information about the meaning of Memorial Day here.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May.[1] Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. (Southern ladies organizations and southern schoolchildren had decorated Confederate graves in Richmond and other cities during the Civil War, but each region had its own date. Most dates were in May.) By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.[2]    ~wikipedia

There is also great information and history here: http://usmemorialday.org/

I challenge you to take a few minutes out of this splendid weekend that “opens” summer…and learn just a little bit about what Monday’s holiday is all about. Then share the information. There are many, many families who are dealing with the neverending grief of losing a loved one who was serving this wonderful country known as the USA.

As American’s we owe it to them to never, ever forget that sacrifice.

Yolo,

Jan