Thursday, May 26, 2005

In Remembrance of Virginia Harmsen-My Grandmother

I will start out by saying that my posts WILL NOT be this long. As Memorial Day approaches, I want to celebrate and remember my Grandmother's life.

Virginia Marie Merrell was born on April 20, 1920 in Pine Grove, Michigan. She was my Grandmother, she loved me, and I have wonderful memories of her-such a simple statement to make but such a powerful one. Important memories pack a punch, don’t they? They stay with us, shaping us and molding us as we stroll through this journey called life.

Grandma had a zest for life especially when it came to her family-she loved buying things and doing things for us, never complaining (that I heard any way) she was doing too much. She wholeheartedly supported most family and friends. She had many friendships and did a lot of work for a Methodist church a few blocks from her house for a long time. Through the years in the rain, snow or sleet, she with Grandpa in hand could be found at either my brothers or my own school and sporting events.

She wasn’t perfect of course, although she was to me. Life was hard for her early in life-marrying men who weren’t right for her, and making poor decisions. Times were tough, and she often did odd jobs to help support her young family. One particular lunch visit, I remember conversing with her as I complained about a situation at work. She would tell me of her job at one point many years ago of picking up coal by the coal trains to support her children. I guess I don’t have it so tough, I thought. She pushed forward with her life, determined to have a better future and more than made up for it later being the supportive, caring, warm and funny person she was around us-adding joy to our lives.

She was colorful. As I recall, she usually had on a funky pair of sunglasses on at various sporting events, either wearing a unique colored ball cap or her short hair in disarray, wearing long dangly earrings and multi colored/patterned socks that never seemed to match her pants or outfit. Stains from her lunch could be seen on her blouse, which she either didn’t know about or didn’t care much about. I didn’t ever see her scrambling to change. Not that my brothers and I ever seemed to mind, she always looked beautiful to us wearing her best smile and giving us her big hugs. It was her way of expressing herself, she was comfortable to be around and very much her own person. She could be found surrounded by some sort of knitted or crocheted craft or afghan, adding to her creative style and presence. She also enjoyed listening to music.

I remember the way my Grandmother smelled growing up-you know all Grandmother’s have that certain scent about them. My Grandmother always smelled of food. She loved food-spicier the better. That might explain her solid build. She especially enjoyed baking for her family and boy could she bake: cookies, cakes and pies, oh my. Walking in with her gigantic box of goodies, which appeared the size of two city blocks to us kids, she was the hero of her grandchildren. We stood there wide-eyed with mouths hanging wide open.

Although, my interests don't include cooking and baking, I’d like to think I’m a little like her. She also enjoyed writing, genealogy and scrap booking-writing tidbits, recipes, crafts and anything important to her. She kept many pictures, every newspaper clipping of anyone even remotely related and many other memorabilia in her many scrapbooks of life.

I miss that role in my life, being her granddaughter, that special person in her life. I miss the woman who helped shape my life, but I also take comfort knowing she will not be forgotten. And even though, my Grandmother, Virginia passed away several years ago, she lives in the smiles of my children as they spend time with their Grandma (her daughter), who is also a great Grandmother, and also in the wonderful memories we all shared. Never to be forgotten as she smiles through all of the pictures, cards, scrapbooks, journals and crafts.

Most important, by being a positive role model, my Grandmother showed me how to love and to be loved. She showed me that I could be less than perfect, face adversity and become a better person. Her legacy will continue on.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Memorial Day Thoughts-

Memorial Day Weekend reminds me of my ancestors and makes me stop for just a moment and ponder what their lives were like way back in the day. I have spent a great deal of time researching my past and have been richly blessed in finding newfound cousins.

If you’re strolling here and would like tips on researching your heritage, feel free to ask! I also have research/info on the following surnames: Tuttle, Peavey, DeVries, McMullin, Braendle, Dove, and misc. others. Please let me know how I can help you! It is one of the most fulfilling and challenging endeavors to find one’s ancestors of the past and family of the present!

To read my articles on my own genealogy story on the Tuttle side and on genealogy in general, feel free to check out Feb/March and April/May issues of Everton’s Genealogical Helper Magazine! Feel free to add your request as a comment!

Short Movie and Book Review-

Wow! What a great weekend. I had the opportunity to read Stephen King's book, "On Writing." I highly recommend it. It has an easy reading style and as usual for King, it is interesting and shocking. I must confess I'm not a huge follower of Stephen King like my brother for example is-buying every book etc., however, this book is not only helpful as a writer but helpful to me as a sister of two alcoholic brothers. He incorporates a short version of his bibliography into a fast track writing seminar giving the best tips and advice for writers everywhere. I was inspired and encouraged. I read the book in two days. Run, get it.

On a smaller scale, I had the opportunity to watch Star Wars-Episode III. Another big WOW! George Lucas once again does not disappoint Star Wars fans. If you're not a fan, why not? Want to escape reality for a few hours-go to this movie. This episode is more on the "dark side." But the writing, acting and special effects are just incredible-out of this world. On the big screen, its as if you are actually flying with the Jedi Knights. Go see this movie-you'll feel like you just stepped onto another planet just as soon as the movie starts and all of your worries will fly away.

Have a great day!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I'm Published!

ok, maybe I'm just a little too excited about being a published writer. It is, after all only for a genealogical magazine. Now, I have two published articles-woo, woo. Boy, were these articles fun and almost effortless to write. I am currently working on a novel entitled, "On the Run." It has its ups and downs like everything else in life. Let's face it, it can be a daunting task. But, overall it is an awesome internal experience. I also have my health success story being published in a health club magazine called, "Today's Health and Wellness," which is due out in July. I'm excited about this as well. Somehow, it encourages me to keep writing. Maybe I shouldn't need this kind of motivation, but admittedly I do. I've entered contests but no success to date. I just need to keep working on it, and I will! I've learned quite a bit from Donald Maass' books on novel writing -main point I've learned: "step up my writing." I tend to be conservative, so it is reflected in my writing. I'm trying to remember to push everything to the limits. So much to, little time.

Health and Wellness And Today’s thoughts

I skipped two meals yesterday because I am trying to fit so many things into my day-anyone else out there struggling with this? Every year, it seems like the month of May is extremely busy with all of the kid’s sports and misc. activities as well as community events and church meetings. I love all of these activities, but when they all pile up during the same day, same week, it is difficult at best. Thankfully I have been eating nutritiously so that is helping to sustain me. But, yesterday, my diet was poor and I definitely noticed the difference.

I came home for a quick lunch, but wanted to work on an essay I’ve been trying to complete by the weekend. No time for breakfast, no time for lunch (other than a few handfuls of popcorn) and then had to run to a track meet just after work, and a baseball game after that. Realizing I hadn’t eaten all day, I started to think of grabbing a hotdog at the concession but knew that would hurt me more than help, I decided against it. Went to a church meeting just before the game ended at 7pm so no time to eat before that. Came home exhausted at 9:30pm.

Thankfully, I drink lots of water so I had that going for me, but I was a tad bit hungry. Looking in the cupboards, not much there too healthy (was out of my normal things I guess), so I snacked on organic chips and salsa with an organic burrito, but by that time, it was 10pm.

So what can I do different to prevent this? Simple, I need to keep yogurt and other snacks handy at work (and at home) so I can grab on the way, as necessary. I’m also out of my mixed nuts, which help to sustain me during the day on those busy nights. I need to run to the health store-pronto!

My tip to you and myself: Have plenty of nutritious snacks on hand, so the bad foods don’t tempt you so much and when meals are skipped, you’ll at least have a supplement to tie you over.

Share with me your day so I’ll feel better :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Experiencing Health Issues?

I'll tell ya, trying to stay healthy is hard! But, it does make a big difference! After spending a great deal of time cutting out sugar, eating more nutritiously and drinking more water, I was able to change my life! Depression, PMS, migraines, rashes, swollen joints, heart issues (arrythmias etc) are almost all a thing of the past. When I don't eat as I should, I start to get some of these symptoms back but on a much smaller scale so it encourages me to eat better-not perfect-better. We are all so hard on ourselves-if you eat a brownie-GOOD FOR YOU. But the next thing you grab had better be a bottle of spring water. If you want that cup of coffee, fine...drink more water. Hey, I like spaghetti and those high carbs just like everyone else and yes, I still eat it but in smaller quantities and I increase eating more of those interesting greens other vegies. It's a daily struggle but it's a battle that can eventually be won.
There are many health stores out there to help with body detoxes as well. These help to rid the body of excess toxins created by too much yeast etc. This is a great way to feel better!! If you want additional info, please email me!! I will be happy to cover more details on the subject.

I will be reporting more tips on surviving the above symptoms and much more, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Short Listing of Future Subjects to be discussed here

I thought I’d post a little bit more about the subjects that I will be discussing here now and in the future:

First of all, I will be sharing information on my writing journey as I learn to become a better writer. I am now published for the first time in Everton’s Genealogical Magazine for my stories on finding information on my real grandfather (not known before) and my real heritage on my maternal side. Another article will be published in same magazine this month on making friends and becoming a family of researchers when searching our heritage. I also have one version of my health story being published in Today’s Health and Wellness in July. I will be including partial clips of short stories, articles/essays and eventually parts of my novel I as I complete the editing stages.

Secondly, I will be sharing information on my lifestyle change to include a healthier diet and future plans to research the perfume industry and the impact chemicals used in this industry have on our health. My journey struggling for better health started about six-seven years ago. For sanity, peace of mind and good health, I made many changes along the way to allow for body detoxification. I am of course still on this journey as I fight for better health and as most will agree trying to eat healthy nowadays ain’t easy. (Please excuse the grammar). But, the changes were remarkable and still are, so I work hard to keep the faith and do the things I need to do to have high energy and a clear mind to fully enjoy my life rather than just going through the motions.

Thirdly, I will be sharing tips on genealogy (one of my hobbies) and stories regarding my ancestors, sharing the ups and downs of researching my heritage. I have spent many years searching the following surnames: Tuttle, Peavey, DeVries, Dove, Braendle, McMullin. Anyone looking for information on any of these surnames, please feel free to post queries, and I’ll look through my research.

Last by not least; I will be sharing various tips/suggestions, my thoughts and dreams as I travel through this thing called life asking for comments and suggestions along the way on all of the above relating to Christian experiences and so much more!

I welcome your positive comments and suggestions!

Thank you!
ps-Today's Daily Tip: Don't forget to drink lots of water every day!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Learning HTML-Help!

There is enough to read about HTML relating to blogs, but quite frankly, I don't have all day to learn. If anyone has quick suggestions on easy changes to make this site more interesting, please email me or comment here. I'd really appreciate it. I'm trying to categorize without linking to other blogs, not sure if that is possible either. I have just enough to time to continue writing a little bit of my novel and my thoughts in between my job and raising a family so I'd like to get some advice from you professional bloggers out there!

Thank you!
ps-yes, I've read suggestions from and others but need just a few helpful hints I can work with right away without HTML experience!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Are we for Real?

How can life pass me by so quickly? I can barely remember when my children were babies. I can barely remember being a young adult and how I felt about my looks. Women, in my humble opinion, have a rough time proving they are worthy and beautiful especially with all of the unrealistic shows on television showing a false sense of beauty and success. I've seen it with my friends-this need to stay young to be competitive in today's world for a sense of self worth and to compete with young women especially in the business field.

Now that plastic surgery is somewhat affordable, the pressure is on to be perfect even more so than before. It used to be almost impossible for women to afford surgery unless they were wealthy; this isn't the case any longer. Women look for flaws in themselves and other women thinking, why not? If I can afford it, what does this hurt? In some women, it probably helps more than it hurts, but we need to be careful we aren't looking for false security in our looks. God made us all beautiful in some way. Of course there is a place for plastic surgery, and I feel there are times that women should have this done, but where do we draw the line? When will we be pretty or young enough? When will enough be enough? Does society dictate this for us? Is it from watching too many television shows and glossy magazine covers of beautiful women? Why aren't we happy and satisfied with who we are? What do we need to prove? Do we feel better when we don't have wrinkles any longer? Are we looking for a false sense of being young even though we are aging, whether we like it or not? I seem to fall victim to this myself at times when looking at other women who are prettier and who seem perfect. This is such a false illusion.

I think there must be a drawback to everything that sounds and looks this good. I'm not sure of the health risks to all of this, but I’m focusing on the emotional issues involved. I’m most concerned about this illusion as it relates to our young women-the next generation of women. My daughter nineteen-year-old is beautiful and thin, but finds fault with her body every day. She seems to be under this same spell. But, it’s not only the young who are experiencing self doubt. I must confess after my girlfriend had a face lift, thinking to myself, I wonder if she'll focus on my wrinkles and think I'm not as pretty somehow. I also wonder how I'll feel as I continue to age when many women around me are getting surgery after surgery done. Will I be the only women not making any changes-society will think I’m old and ugly for sure! This is something I think about. I hate to admit it, but I do. I don't feel much pressure now, but I'm still under 40. I feel good about my overall person, but I have those days…

My major concern is why we feel we need to change our looks in the first place. We were taught by our parents that beauty is skin deep-beauty is in the eye of the beholder and beauty is found from within. Why has our society gone away from this? What do women base good self esteem on-how perfect our body's look like, how big our breasts are, how many wrinkles we have? I see it only getting worse when more and more young women are having work done trying to please society's view on what makes a successful and beautiful woman.

Where does it end? When will we be satisfied and truly be at peace with ourselves?

What do you think??

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Missy struggles-Scene from The Stranger

Throwing on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, she plunked down on the bed. If I could just get through a day without drinking, I could stop. I don’t need help; I just need to be stronger, better. She looked over at the bottle, taking a swing at it; she knocked it off the nightstand watching it slide across the old wooden floor. Hands shaking and body sweating, Missy sat there staring at the lifeless, soulless bottle-although now motionless, it was inviting and engaging. “I’ve gotta get out of here,” she said eyeing the bottle, “before I go crazy.”

Living in a lakeshore town where the residents just loved their hometown pubs, she had no problem finding friends to keep her company. Outside her refuge, however at age 50, life was a disaster-a nightmare she could not escape.

She stopped at the place with a red neon sign, “Welcome to Dick's Bar" lighting the way. Walking to the door, Missy felt something stir in the air; maybe a storm was brewing, she thought as the wind swirled blowing leaves around her feet. Was that a crow cawing somewhere in the distance? It was probably just her imagination, yet she turned looking around. Not seeing anything, she opened the large door-just missing the large blackbird spreading out his wings to fly away.

Hearing country music playing in the background, Missy strolled through the smoky bar, and sat down on a round stool starting to feel at home. She spent the afternoon hours buying drinks for her buddies, the lonely and desperate ones, hoping to impress them-her last ditch effort for confidence and respect.

If it's not alcohol, what vices are we using as a crutch? The crow above certainly represents doom approaching if Missy doesn't see the error of her ways and doesn't seek help.

Question of the day: What are your vices? How can you get over your addictions and really enjoy the good life that God has blessed you with? God doesn't want us barely surviving; he wants us thriving!

More on Missy to follow later-will she stay on this destructive course? Stay tuned...