Welcome to My Venture!

Although my approach may be a bit unconventional, it is my greatest desire for this online journal to be a unique place where we can share life lessons learned from the many wonderful people–past and present– who profoundly touch our lives!

I sincerely hope you will feel inclined to comment and pay tribute to these great mentors by sharing your thoughts with me and this community.  It’s my goal for all who visit here to benefit as we participate and read one another’s insights.

I’ve learned that everyone has something to teach and something to learn!

Bring On Spring!

Bring On Spring!

While I usually love living where I’m lucky enough to experience all four seasons…after what has seemed like an exceptionally long, cold, dreary winter–I’m more than ready to have Mother Nature…

I love the special excitement and the fresh perspective that a new season brings to my little corner of the world–so go ahead spring and…

Bring on all things floral…

It might still be a little too cool to plant flowers in our yards where I live, but we can certainly bring on spring and all things florals in so many other ways.

A vase of colorful, fresh flowers is always a good way to bring a happy spring mood inside—even if it is still cold and snowy outside!

Even if there’s still a little nip in the air, by March I’m ready to pull out a few floral tops.  I found this cute Lucky Brand top at Dillard’s!

Pretty floral pillows set the mood for spring and these flowers don’t mind the chilly spring evenings.  I love this one from Pottery Barn.

Help ease your friends out of winter hibernation by sending a fun, floral note, or better yet—you could host a “Bring on Spring” luncheon!

Bring on spring cleaning… 

No word seems more synonymous with spring than cleaning!  And while you may not want to tackle the whole Marie Kondo way of “tidying up”

…I think we can all agree that there’s nothing better than opening up the windows, letting in some fresh air and getting rid of some of the winter grime and clutter!

There are always new lists of spring cleaning shortcuts that debut in the housekeeping magazines each year…but here’s a few tried and true tips that my grandma and mom taught me that I love:

Distilled vinegar, borax or baking soda, alcohol and ammonia were the mainstays of my mom’s cleaning arsenal.  By being resourceful, you can save a lot of money by making your own inexpensive “natural” cleaning supplies.

Homemade Window Cleaner: 2 cups warm water, 2 cups rubbing alcohol and 1/2 cup ammonia mixed in a 32 oz. spray bottle.  Clean with a lint-free microfiber towel.

Distilled vinegar is a mild, natural acid and my personal go-to for cleaning just about everything from toilets and tub soap scum to rust stains and wax build-up.  I also like to pour in a cup or two in my washing machine and run it through a rinse cycle to freshen it up–this works for your dishwasher too.  

Baking soda is a soft abrasive and great for scouring tough stains…and it’s a natural deodorizer too.  My grandma and mom use to cut lemon or orange slices and then sprinkle them with baking soda to scrub anything from sinks and tubs to counter tops.  The citrus and baking soda work together for a sparkling shine everywhere.  The good thing about doing this is you just throw the slices away after using, so no wet sponges left to sit and get musty with your other cleaning supplies. 

Bring on the great outdoors…  

There’s just something about getting outside after a long, cold winter that strengthens both body and soul!  Getting out to do yard work or taking a brisk evening walk after work are probably two of the things I look forward to the most come springtime!

 

It’s nice to be able to put away the heavy parka’s worn during the winter months and throw on a light-weight, spring jacket as you head outside.

I recently discovered the Barbour line of outdoor wear–their jackets are well-made and come in so many great spring colors!  

I’m a huge advocate of the saying, “Since all great journeys start with a single step…you should probably wear a cute pair of shoes.”  What is it about putting on a bright pair of workout/walking shoes that makes you feel a little giddy!

I am such a fan of Asics athletic shoes…and their new neon line takes me back to the good times of my glory days in high school!

Check here for spring gardening tips to help you get a head start on your spring plant and lawn care.

Bring on the fresh eats…

After enjoying all the warm casseroles and comfort foods we love during the winter months, it’s nice to finally have a better variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from come spring!  In an attempt to make healthy eating a little more fun, my husband and I purchased a vegetable spiralizer tool to jazz up our salads.  Here’s an easy recipe we put together the other night that was really good!

Parmesan Zucchini Carrot Salad

Spiralize a medium zucchini and carrot

Add 1/2 cup chopped purple cabbage

Stir in 1 shredded baked chicken breast

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and slivered almonds

Toss above ingredients w/ Newman’s Own Honey Mustard Dressing

Top with coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

(You can buy pre-made spiral veggies too.) 

And how about this fun spring/Easter twist on chocolate dipped strawberries!  You just add a drop or two of orange food coloring to melted white chocolate to make them look like carrots.  Love this so much!

I have seen where they put these dipped strawberries in a cup of crushed Oreo’s to represent carrots growing in dirt.  So creative!

More fresh eats and healthy snack suggestions here.

As I write this, another snow storm is in the forecast…making me more ready than ever to bring on all things spring!!

My husband told me that we might see the dawning of a new season this year… “Sprinter” -winter in spring!  Let’s pray he’s wrong!

What do you look forward to most when spring finally decides to make its debut?

All the best spring wishes to you!  ♥ Mary

Leather Chair Reading! Fiercehearted!

Leather Chair Reading!  Fiercehearted!

There’s nothing better, in my opinion, than a good book that celebrates everything that makes women unique!  So as we celebrate this month of Valentine’s, let’s not forget to acknowledge our own goodness and embrace life, love and faith…so that we might live fully and love bravely!

“We lose ourselves in books, but we can find ourselves in them too!”  Tribute Journal

Fiercehearted  by Holly Gerth

January always seems to be a cold, hazy blur…so when February arrives, I need that proverbial “shot in the arm” so to speak, that picks me up out of the winter doldrums and gives me a little motivating gumption–and this book does it in spades.

“Every day we struggle to find more freedom, joy and purpose.  What if the solution isn’t trying harder or being better, but embracing the fiercehearted woman we each have inside us already!”  Holley Gerth

This book is like having a thoughtful conversation with a good friend where you aren’t afraid to be yourself–or even be a little vulnerable.  While in a perfect world, we’d all like to be on our best behavior and share only the good things we like about ourselves…if we’re completely honest, it’s nice to be able to let our hair down on occasion and expose a few weaknesses, then discuss ways we can capitalize on those shortcomings and ultimately make them work in our favor with someone we can trust.  In this book, Holley Gerth, is that understanding confidant who accepts things as they are, but outlines some critical notions that have helped her better navigate the journey of her struggles to make life less messy and complicated.

A Fiercehearted Woman…

Trusts her heart!  One of the things I love about this book is that each chapter begins with a quote from a fellow female author.  Ms. Gerth also writes each chapter so that they seem like they’re a collection of loosely connected thoughts covering an assortment of topics from prayer and child-like faith to dealing with the inner conflict that comes from trying to meet all your obligations.  The powerful concepts presented in this book suggest that perhaps the solution to living more fully isn’t necessarily in trying harder or being better, but rather, by simply striving to be more in tune with the strengths of the “fiercehearted” woman that is inside each of us already!

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?  Mary Oliver

Lives a good story!   If you’ve ever caught yourself looking at someone else and thinking—oh man, why can’t I have their perfect life…Chapter 9 titled, “On The Shelf” is the perfect antidote for lifting you out of that mindset!  Ms. Gerth tells how she will often go to her local library to be inspired when writing.  One day while sitting surrounded by endless shelves of books that covered a myriad of topics from love and war to mysteries and memoirs, an analogy came to mind that gave her a new perspective on how to live her life more fully.

“In this world of options and opportunity, we believe that somehow we should pick any and all of them.  If you think about it though, instead of living fully in the reality of our own lives, we often find ourselves lost on the pages of ‘what might have been’ or ‘what could be’ –we catch ourselves wanting to live someone else’s story; a book with a more exciting cover and brilliant reviews from our peers.”

She goes on to suggest that when we really take a good look around us, we quickly realize that while many of the details are different, in many ways our stories are very similar…and we should begin to see our stories for what they are–unique, glory-filled, flawed works of art.  “We need to find the courage to stand by each other and be comfortable as we live our own stories.  Like my mom always used to tell me, instead of comparing ourselves with others, let’s celebrate one another and show more understanding and compassion as we all try to do our best.  To be certain, our lives seem to take on a magical quality when we stop comparing our lives to those we perceive as having more, and instead begin to intentionally appreciate all that we are blessed to have!

“Let’s be the heroines in our own wild, imperfect, glorious stories.  Never understudies for someone else’s.”  Holley Gerth

Has grit and gumption!  It’s my belief that despite our fears, we can still be brave, courageous and successful; everyone experiences fear and doubt in their lives, it’s what we choose to do with that fear that determines our course in life.  I love that Ms. Gerth points out that we’re rarely given the perfect conditions to forge ahead with our dreams and aspirations.

“Yes, our talents, education and preparation can be helpful tools, but they are not as helpful as flat-out grit.”

Ultimately, we need to have faith in ourselves so we can put one foot in front of the other and have enough gumption and stamina to not quit.  I believe it’s normal to be a little afraid; it’s learning to not let it control or defeat us–or even paralyze us into never doing the hard work that it takes to live fully and love bravely.  Failure seems to have a way of tempting us to think that we are foolish and presumptuous to keep on trying.  But as this wise author points out, “…when we do what is life-giving, worthwhile and beautiful, we are sure to face a certain amount of resistance.”  Like Ms Gerth, at the end of my days, I want completion and contentment not perfection.  When I come to heaven’s doorstep, I want to be sweaty and tired from giving my very best effort!This is just a small glimpse into a powerful and encouraging book that shows us how to better savor our lives in a world that can sometimes leave us feeling unsure about ourselves.  In the end…this book not only spoke to my heart and made it stronger–it made it grow in countless ways too…and that, my friends, is what a good book is all about!

“It’s never too late for a happily ever after.”  Lovelle Gerth-Meyers

A Fiercehearted Woman Manifesto!

This is an adaptation of an outpouring of Ms. Gerth’s heart during a particularly trying period in her life.  Lucky for us, her healing process gives us a step up when we are navigating a difficult time.

Get a free download file HERE.

Have you read any great books lately that really spoke to your heart and made you feel stronger?

–Mary

The Art Of The Small Gesture!

The Art Of The Small Gesture!

Recently, I watched an interview being conducted with entrepreneur, Ken Langone, founder of Home Depot.  I was impressed with his unlikely rise to fame and fortune from a hard-working teenager digging ditches and collecting used cardboard, to becoming a highly regarded and upstanding businessman that often doesn’t fit the mold, so to speak, of conventional Wall Street executives.  I believe, however, that it’s his philosophy of life that ultimately set him on a course of true greatness…

While Mr. Langone has decidedly dedicated his life to grand scale gestures of philanthropy, which include awarding college scholarships to many dedicated store employees, overseeing afterschool programs for underprivileged youth in Harlem, New York and pledging funding to New York University for medical research and free tuition for medical students, he is just as diligent at pursuing smaller gestures of kindness, in fact, he attributes the many lessons learned in his youth for helping this simple notion become the main emphasis of his life.

Mastering The Art Of The Small Gesture!

I figured that the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day was a good time to work on the art of the small gesture–hopefully we’re already focused on wanting to show some thoughtful kindness to those we love, as well as those we meet that might need a little positive boost!  I certainly prefer heartfelt acts of kindness to chocolate and flowers…okay, I’ll take a little chocolate too!

It’s the little, everyday gestures that really matter! ♥  

After a particularly hectic shift at the hospital a few weeks ago, I walked into our home to see low flames burning in our fireplace, the carpet vacuumed and a simple, but lovely dinner prepared by my sweet hubby–obviously he’d heard the strain in my voice when we had talked briefly earlier in the day.  I couldn’t help but step back a moment and take in the scene before me and feel my stress ease.  Getting in the habit of learning to think outside our own needs to do some of the little things that we know will make others feel special is one of the best ways to make sure that small loving gestures are an everyday occurrence!  And if we’re on the receiving end of a small gesture…showing genuine appreciation is a small gesture that will not go unnoticed!

♥ Small gestures help us stay connected! ♥

As the world gets busier and more digital, small gestures become increasingly more important…the emails we don’t respond to, the texts we forget, the “likes” we don’t give, the comments we choose not to write.  We have no idea how much these would mean for those on the receiving end.  Small, thoughtful gestures help us stay connected in a world where we all long for acceptance and a sense of community.  So let’s send those thank you notes, look someone in the eye, give support and encouragement, and offer a helping hand when given the opportunity!

The small gesture of touch is powerful! ♥

Who doesn’t love the small gesture of touch?  Did you know that according to neurologist, Shekar Ramon, MD, human touch stimulates receptors under the skin which increase oxytocin levels in the brain and results in lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels, which effectively reduces stress…and over time, lower blood pressure reduces a person’s risk of heart disease.  The power of a compassionate touch of a hand or a reassuring hug or pat on the back can literally take away our fears, soothe our anxieties and fill the emptiness of being lonely…ultimately leading to more happiness and joy!

  “I love the kind of hugs where you physically feel sadness leaving your body!” Charlie Brown, Peanuts” comic strip

Small, kind gestures give us strength!♥

There may be times when acquaintances, friends or loved ones have problems that we can’t help them with, but this is when I’ve found that thoughtful gestures seem to have the most impact.  We can’t necessarily make their problems go away, but our kindness can help give them the strength they need to get through whatever they’re facing.  By doing small things for others, we are more likely to create the kind of relationships that help us better weather the storms life can throw at us.

Lastly, I feel another important component in offering small gestures is to give them freely without expecting anything in return.  People may not take notice, much less return the kindnesses, but we can take heart in the fact that we are doing our part to create the kind of world we want to live in.

“Amid the chaos of everyday life, we need to be reassured that goodness exists; we should let it fill our souls, then do our part to pass it on.”  Tribute Journal 

I’d love to hear about any small gestures you’ve received that have made a big impact on your life!

–With love, Mary