Thursday, June 28, 2012

Keeping Marriages Together: Communication

I've been away for a while doing some research.  Remember one of my goals this year is to help keep marriages together.  Well I have been away learning how to do just that.  The first lesson I learned I already shared with you.  I bet you didn't even know it did you?

When I fell off the radar for an extended period of time I was practicing being silent.  Communication is a critical component to a healthy marriage and there are two aspects to it;  speaking and listening. In order to listen you have to be silent so you can hear what the other person is saying.  In order to hear what another person is saying so that you may truly give it thought, you have to actively listen, i.e. pay attention to what the other person is saying, not just sit there blankly and nod occasionally while formulating your rebuttal.

I have learned that silence is a very good friend, it helps me focus on what is really being said, so I can hear what the person is actually saying, not what I perceive.  Taking a few deep breaths and clearing your mind before (and during) a conversation can help you stay focused and silent and it can help further the communication efforts of a couple.  Remember silence is not a place for you to go inside yourself and judge your spouse.  It is actually a time to meditate on how to respond in a positive way.

Being silent has been a challenge for me, especially since I was dubbed "loquacious" as a sixth-grader and have lived up to that moniker ever since.  It does take a good deal of effort to be quiet and to process, but through meditation and prayer I have found I am able to listen for longer periods of time without trying to interject.  I am also able to give better responses, because I haven't been so focused on me and what I was going to say, but on what my partner was actually talking about.  I'm not moving my agenda along, but rather actually taking into account the other person.

Silence truly is golden, just think of all the money saved just by being quiet and actually listening to your spouse.  You don't have to wait until things are challenging to use this tool.  Working on positive communication skills in the good times, shore up a marriage and strengthen it in case things do get rocky.  At least you'll be able to communicate open and honestly should tides get choppy.

Until Next Time,
Be Blessed

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Win a Week at The Biggest Loser Resorts

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Family Vacation Sweepstakes



Summer's here and we're all ready to get away for a bit of family fun and relaxation.  I'm certainly ready to pick up my SPF and lay on the beach.  If  the same is true for you click on the Family Vacation Sweepstakes link below and enter to win one of 12 great family vacations.  


Register to win a summer family vacation. This summer USFamilyGuide.com has created a promotion that celebrates the family vacation by giving away 12 incredible trips for families looking to create their own memories. They have hand picked some of the most memorable destinations their families have experienced and asked them to provide a FREE vacation to award to perhaps YOU!

Rules: 
One entry per day Family Vacation Sweepstakes
Prizes will be awarded beginning June 1 
through July 31. 

Best of luck!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Fun Globetrotter Style


When I was a girl the highlight of the year was seeing the Harlem Globetrotters when they came to town. It was so much fun watching the players do all the tricks. The score was never important, well it wasn't the main focus. The exhibition was always a great time with family, and it was enjoyed by both parents and kids alike.   

For the first time, the Harlem Globetrotters are conducting summer skills clinics to bring boys and girls ages 6-14 behind the curtain to see the Globetrotters’ electrifying skills and tricks, while also having fun staying active.
Each participant receives:
  • A free ticket voucher (valued up to $40) to see the Globetrotters during their 2013 World Tour
  • Autographs and photos with the stars!
  • 3-day trial pass to 24 Hour Fitness
Clinic Locations:(These are just the clinics - the games for your tickets are in 200 cities)
Phoenix       Houston     San Francisco       New Jersey
Denver        Dallas        Los Angeles         Seattle
St Louis       Miami        Las Vegas













Save $10 on registration! Enter the Coupon Code USFAMILY on the cart page after completing your registration or mention when calling 1-800-641-HOOP (4667) Click Here: http://www.harlemglobetrotters.com/basketball-skills-clinics/summer-2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

Putting My Best Face Forward

These past few months, have been challenging, but I am coming out of them well and actually very refreshed.  My story is still being written, and many changes are being made.   One of the biggest being me taking more care with my appearance.  Don't get me wrong I wasn't TOO OFTEN running around looking like "Whodunnit" and "What For", but I wasn't putting on a face either.  In essence I wasn't putting my best face forward, and that is not good for business or personal matters.

Much has changed in this period of time though.  Each day my hair is done, done (really put together) - even my ponytails and sloppy buns look good, because I've always got my "5-minute face" on.  It may sound silly, but its actually a very good tool for life.  Over the past few months I've added a few people to my entourage; Selena my hair stylist, Myself as wardrober (I wasn't bad, I just needed a clear vision), and a Skin Care Consultant Bernice Wood.

Bernice is my Mary Kay Consultant and my friend.  And just so you know I just met her last week but she is a kindred spirit.  First of all she has the patience of Job, I gave her so many "I can't do this", and "I can't do that", but did she say "I can't work with you", no sir.  She brought over her kit and to my very pleasant my surprise we  found something that works with my newly sensitive skin.  It's Mary Kay's new Botanical Effects line, which I love.  This line is great for sensitive skin, and it has options just like the other Mary Kay lines, for dry, oily or combination skin.  It leaves my skin feeling fresh and light and not dried out, and I'm talking before I even moisturize.


Being a newly minted Skincare Consultant Bernice's friend Jil came along to help train her.  Jil is hilarious.  These two ladies brought a party and then SOME to my home on a Wednesday afternoon.  Not only did they show me a product that gently cleanses and moisturizes my skin, but they also gave me pointers on taking that "5-minute face" and kicking it up a notch with just 5 more minutes.  Seriously, ready to go out face in 10 minutes; who would have ever thought it possible? Not me surely. My immediate thought after my facial were "My skin is luminous, glowing, gorgeous!" I get to have that feeling everyday, and I get to hold the fun memories of that day in my mind.

In addition I got to see a wonderful opportunity at work.  Being an entrepreneur myself I can respect the persistence and consistence it takes to be in independent business owner, and that is exactly what Mary Kay is.  It's an excellent vehicle (pun intended) for people to earn a little extra income, or build a business to support a family. As a personal beauty consultant, Bernice is available to work with you in the comfort of your home.  Just as with me, this gives you the opportunity to find out all your options and to try before you buy. To set up your own consultation, email her at bernicemwood @ gmail.com or visit her website at marykay.com/bernicewood.



Disclosure: Bernice offered me the Botanicals line gratis so that I might be able to accurately review the product.  There was no money exchange and as always, my opinions are 100% my own.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

He's Writing My Testimony

Thank you all for reading "life as I know"  I really appreciate you stopping by and commenting.  "Lifers" know I can be very sporadic with my posting and occasionally there are long gaps between posts.  There is of course a good reason for it, but one I am not ready to share.

I have been confronted with some truths as of late, I knew they were coming, but none the less they have me in a place where I must make a decision.  In order to make the best decision possible I need to suspend a few preoccupations.

When I return my hope is that my story will be so great that it sheds light where you need it and helps heal.
I must go to work now, I must be still and I must listen so I will know the way to go.


Until Next Time,
Be Blessed

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Role Models

I LOVE my work.  I feel truly fortunate that I get to do what I enjoy and people pay me for it.  Honestly what's not to like?  I get paid to share knowledge, spread joy and encourage peace, calm and community.  Teaching needle arts is therapeutic, relaxing, and social (that's what both the student and I get from it).

Just a short while ago I was told that I couldn't "just sit around knitting all day".  Well not to jinx it, but apparently I can.  Some people's words should be taken with a grain of salt, and we all know we need less sodium in our diets, so why not just ditch the negative altogether.  Role models are those we look up to as inspiration for our own future successes.

When I was in college and having a rough time, I would say "If I don't graduate, I'm going to be the black Martha Stewart".  Well I did graduate, but that's not the reason I didn't become the next Martha.  As we all know I had a great window while she was in the clink, but it occurred to me that wasn't really what I wanted to do.  And heck, I'm not nearly as organized as Martha.  I realized what I liked about Martha was that she was her own boss.  She was an entrepreneur.

Don't get me wrong, I'm surrounded by business-minded people, I mean as far back as I can remember my father has had his own business.  And historically African American business owners were the pillars of their communities having boutiques and restaurants, floral shops and funeral homes and everything in between.  Somewhere along the way though a generation was lost and the people they look up to are not their parents or even their ancestors, but people from their own generation who have skills they probably won't ever possess.

Instead of doing what you think will get you "crazy paid"  how about finding out what you really like and figuring out a way to make it pay you.  Madam C.J. Walker's thinning hair paid her several times over, making her the first African American millionaire.  Mary McLeod Bethune wouldn't let the fact that there was no school for girls deter her...she started her own, now look at the legacy she left.  Use your creativity, your imagination, your divinely given gifts to get what you want.  Find proper role models to emulate.

I still love Martha, but my new role model is Madam C.J. Walker, and that's because my girls need to see successful people that look like them, so they know its possible (and seriously the woman made a fortune off of a basic thing).  Their role models need not be models, and rappers or even actors.  They need to be the ancestors that were first and the pioneers of today that keep blazing trails of innovation and creativity in business, politics, art and the humanities.  Their role models are myself and their father, my father, their grandmothers, our aunts and uncles.  We have to be role models so they will have a model of success to follow.  Wo/Man up!

Until Next Time,
Be Blessed

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

It's Black History Month...

My middle daughter reading a plaque at Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
And in case you didn't know, I'm black.  (Well technically I'm brown...well that is figuratively anyways.  Try explaining color to a preschooler...but then why should I have to?)  Back to the main thought, since I'm black I shall revel in all the glory that is heaped upon my children for the next 20 days.  Well not really since my children happen to attend a predominately African-American school they get more of a well rounded education than many others.  Their projects throughout the year have a more statistically accurate representation of the different races of people that make up this country.  Additionally I don't leave the complete education of my children to the school system.  If I did they might think playing "slave and slave catcher" at recess was cool.  That being said, there is a reason that we have Black History Month.

It is a sad reality that color is still an issue in this country.  I'm sorry let me be more specific, race is still an issue in this country.

"

race

2   [reys]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a group of persons related by common descent or heredity.
2.
a population so related.
3.
Anthropology .
a.
any of the traditional divisions of humankind, thecommonest being the caucasianMongoloid, andNegro, characterized by supposedly distinctive anduniversal physical characteristics: no longer intechnical use.
b.
an arbitrary classification of modern humans,sometimes, especially formerly, based on any or acombination of various physical characteristics, as skincolor, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequentlybased on such genetic markers as blood groups.
c.
a human population partially isolated reproductivelyfrom other populations, whose members share agreater degree of physical and genetic similarity withone another than with other humans.
4.
a group of tribes or peoples forming an ethnic stock: theSlavic race.
5.
any people united by common history, languageculturaltraits, etc.: the Dutch race."


Since race is still an issue in this country we have "Black History Month".  Without it I honestly don't believe students would receive any type of education with regards to the contributions of African-Americans to the development of the United States.  Until the narratives of people of color (Latinos, Asians, Natives) are included in the lesson plans and national standards of learning for future generations; there will exist a need to inject students with a month here and a month there of focused knowledge about said groups.  

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household where 1.) my parents were college educated 2.)  they were readers and  3.) they were proud of their ancestry.  I grew up reading "Black Americans of Achievement" books; (I've started giving them to my girls to read now).  Because my mother worked in library when I was younger, I was afforded a seemingly limitless knowledge base. Of course we had encyclopedias but they were limited and I wanted to know more, so I read.  My parents of course encouraged this and I read about Fannie Lou Hamer, and Matthew Henson,  Ida B. Wells, and Mary McLeod Bethune as well as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X and countless others.  Even if my parents weren't college graduates I'd still have grown up knowledgable because they did, and only one of my grandparents was a college graduate.  My ancestors were dedicated to the education of the future, and I will be the same.  

In high school I had the opportunity in my AP English class to do a self-directed learning and I chose to focus on the writings of African American authors - otherwise I wouldn't have been introduced to Zora Neale Hurston, or Langston Hughes in a school setting until college.  (I wish I could find that paper now).  I enjoyed that class immensely because it let me step away from the status quo and allowed me the opportunity to explore in depth how narratives vary across ethnic lines.  Now don't get it twisted, I also read "Ethan Frome" that year, and Sylvia Plath, however had I not been in an AP class the odds of me having the chance to read the works of African-Americans would have been drastically reduced.  

My education was further enhanced when I went to college, and majored in Afro-American and African studies.  I was truly fortunate to be able to pay to learn about my history (there's only a hint of sarcasm there).  Honestly we are all severely lacking in education on the history of our country...and if the Tea Party has anything to do with it, we'll be even worse off.  

During this very auspicious month you'll get a little more of ME!  I do not believe we live in post-racial America (sorry Mr. President).  Unfortunately there are places I still wouldn't venture to after dark (places not far from where I live).  There are things I know are racially motivated in this country (with regard to politics) and I know there is a long way for this country to go if it is ever to be what the founders desired (cough, cough).  As the month goes on, you'll see more of me.  I hope you are not offended, but this is "life as i know".  

Until Next Time, 
Be Blessed

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Could I Have A Minute of Your Time Please?


Thanks for stopping by.  If you've got a second I would really appreciate if you could take this little survey I've put together.  It is about knitting retreats.  It will not take much time, it's not even 10 questions, so you'll be done with it lickety split :)


Thank you SOOOOO much!!

Until Next Time,
Be Blessed

Friday, January 27, 2012

When the Ground Gives Way and Your World Collapses

I was watching Grey's Anatomy one night and that's what Meredith was saying in her monologue.  It was in reference to life in general, and marriage specifically.  I felt it was a very appropriate metaphor.  Most of the time your marriage is great, but occasionally there are those times when it feels like the earth is crumbling beneath your feet.  What are you to do in these situations?

As many of you know I'm still pretty blissed out from my anniversary trip a few weeks ago.  That being said I am not so wrapped up in my own joy that I can't see the marriages struggling around me.  And trust me, I am in a fight for those marriages as if they were my own.  I may only be a prayer warrior on the sideline in one case, and nagging little sister in the other, but I am there (no not literally), but if need be I will go to the mat with them, and for them.  Check out my goals -->one of the top ones is to help keep marriages together. I kid you not, that is important to me, and I'm not the only one.  Dee-Dee (part of the anniversary crew and founder of "I'm Every Woman") is hosting the annual marriage event and the focus this year is on couples who have overcome obstacles to stay together.

I want you to stay together because I don't believe in "irreconcilable differences".  The term is actually loathsome to me.  It is giving up plain and simple, you're tired of working, and that is the lazy persons way out.  Nor do I care for the "I fell out of love with them" excuse.  Say what?! That is malarky.  What you fell out of was the habit of treating your partner special, pursuing them, aggressively going after what you desired.  (We'll go into how to keep in fresh in future posts).  Maybe you drank the "marriage is easy kool-aid" then found out it was a lie; too bad you made a commitment.  Now if you've been a "Lifer" for  a while you know the Hayes family motto -"Ain't nobody leaving nobody", and the exceptions to it, abuse, however outside those parameters, suck it up.

I was reading I Am Husband.com and I as I read I was in total agreement.  (Confession time)  I don't remember saying my vows, I don't know WHAT I said (the minister was late and I was seeing "red rum") but obviously I'm married as the witnesses can attest to.  What I do know is that I meant to stay with my husband (not that we haven't had trying times), vows are a binding contract with your spouse; and when they (contracts) are breached mediation is usually par for the course, not out and out dissolution.  Society must learn to again put value in a person's word being their bond. We must again hold our vows as a sincere promise that we are doggedly determined to keep, and not let divorce be an option we have sitting on the side.

So what do you do "When the Ground Gives Way and Your World Collapses"?  Let's say there's infidelity, physical illness, trouble with the in-laws, fertility issues, mental illness, you get the idea....what do you do?  First I would suggest you take a step back, breathe deeply and go to your separate corners.  Space is good, I am still learning this. People need to process and every one of us does it in our own special way.  So give each other some time to take in what is happening.  Then I would suggest open, honest communication (preferably with a counselor of some sort).  And most importantly take your time, no matter what you do, don't rush into making any decisions.

Couples can surmount any number of obstacles in their marriages, however a key factor in whether or not they succeed is how much they are willing to communicate with one another. We talk even when it hurts.  I thank God everyday for my husband because he knows what he got himself into; eyes wide open he married me.  I am also thankful for the good sense to walk to my corner sometimes and sit quietly until I can figure it out.  We are imperfect beings in an imperfect world, but we are wholly committed to one another.  I pray we can change the tide of marriages and there will be more life-long unions that our children can reference as they are preparing for their own unions.  They will know it is not all sunshine and roses, but they will know to appreciate the rainbow after the storm.

Until Next Time,
Be Blessed

Friday, January 20, 2012

Forgive Yourself

Two thousand eleven was one heck of a year!! And I don't mean in a good way.  My world was rocked in more ways than I ever care to experience again, and I'm still feeling aftershocks.  Doubt, self-blame, anxiety, shame, anger, and a whole host of other emotions that I won't bother to list. All of that has brought me into two thousand twelve with some serious baggage I didn't realize I was carrying.

I'm a firm believer of confronting the emotions that are holding you back (in your own time - I really dislike confrontation), however there are occasions where you are just going about life (on auto-pilot) and don't recognize the fact that you aren't going anywhere.  That's how I've been the past 6 months or so, and I just realized it last night (well maybe last week, but last night was the straw).

When I am stressed I have a tendency to eat; I become the Human Garbage Disposal.  I eat late at night, what my kids don't finish on their plates, cookies, cake, ice cream, whatever is handy.   It's a wonder I haven't gained more weight, but I'll just be thankful that I haven't.

Guilt.  Yeah that's another one.

I digress, I've been eating like a cow (grazing) and occasionally guzzling, like last night.  I can't even tell you what I did it was horrifying to myself.  Suffice it to say I saw the light finally and know why I'm "killing myself" this way.  Yeah I went there, because that is exactly what I'm doing.  I don't workout...once every two months does not count, and I definitely could cook a little healthier.  I'm carrying around the middle and that is dangerous, especially with my family history.

Absolution...I desire it, but not from the living, and the dead have nothing to give.

When one of my dad's died in June I felt bad, not that he was gone, we knew it was coming, and with a little advance notice I handle death pretty well.  Why then was I so upset?  Because I wish I had been a better daughter.  My dad was sick, but I was angry with him (because he wasn't taking care of himself ironically) and I wouldn't talk to him.  Thought about him all the time, but didn't go to great lengths to see or talk to him until he could no longer talk back.  I went and sat with him at the hospital when he was in a coma and told him that I loved him, and I was sorry that my girls hadn't known him.  I hoped he would get better, but the prognosis was never good, and I'm a realist when I have to be.

In November when one of my sister's passed I was devastated...utterly and completely.  My husband,  (thank God for him), carried me home and took care of me because I was unable to do so myself.  She was 30 years old and I hardly knew her, which could be said for most of my siblings.

Split in two, I lay in pieces, the person I wanted to be, and who I really am.  My husband carried me home and slowly, I began to heal.  The scar is invisible because the wound is emotional.  It exists nonetheless, a reminder of what I no longer desire to be.  Incomplete, less than, detached...an island.

I don't make resolutions, people rarely stick to those.  I made a goal to be a better "daughter-wife-mom-sister ... friend".  I don't want to cry again because of all the things I didn't take time to do.  From here on out my tears will be due to the memories that I shared with the ones I've lost, not the regrets I have for not making more time for them.

To move forward though, I must forgive myself - the dead give no absolution; and make amends with the living.  I absolutely must make these changes or I will eat myself into an early grave, and I just told my husband I wanted to spend the next 50 years with him, and I would love to see grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren.  That won't be possible if I don't take care of myself, and my emotional and mental health play a role in my overall longevity so I've got to get it together.

Forgive yourself.  We are not perfect beings, but if we work earnestly, diligently and sincerely toward a goal, we can achieve it.  Including seeking peace within.

Until Next Time,
Shanta

Monday, January 09, 2012

So This is What "Post-Racial" America Looks Like...

In Georgia anyway.


This was the homework given to several third graders in Gwinnett County, GA.  Yes, 8 year olds received this as an assignment last Wednesday (January 4, 2012).  Welcome to the real world kiddos.  There were also questions like "If Frederick received two beatings per day, how many did he get in one week?  Two weeks?"  Seriously?!  And the teachers claimed to have been using it as a cross-curricular exercise. FAIL!!!

What's so "post-racial" about this? 

Until Next Time, 
Be Blessed 

Friday, January 06, 2012

We Had A Ball...Literally!!!

Happy New Year Everyone!!!

I hope you all had a restful and relaxing holiday season, I certainly did.  The beginning of winter and the holidays that accompany it always excite me for various reasons.  My family is always together at this time, and my anniversary (New Year's Eve) is always cause for celebration.  This past December 31,  I celebrated 9 years of matrimony with my dear friend, and husband Mr. Hayes.

Surprises and I have a "Love/Hate" relationship, as in; I love surprises, but I hate waiting for them.  Yes, yes I'm a grown woman, but I hold onto some of my childish ways.  However I digress.  Let me tell you what a wonderful husband I have.  Not only did he plan a romantic weekend away for US, but he also coordinated it with two other couples whom we are friends with that have anniversaries the day before and after ours.  Say what?!  Yes, we have an #AnniversaryCrew.

These wonderful husbands of ours plotted planned a delightfully restful, and romantic weekend for us at the lovely Chateau Elan.  (If you haven't been make plans to go).  After I tell you about our weekend you'll want to head there straight away.  First of all these men worked it, they arranged for all of our rooms to be together and for us ladies to have our spa services simultaneously, so that we could maximize our time together (don't get me wrong there was plenty of couple time), but we enjoyed each others company as well and celebrating our marriages.

We all arrived at the Inn on Thursday evening, the ladies having no clue where we were going, but having been given a short packing list, (evening wear, bathing suits, athletic wear, cute going out clothes, etc..)  that could have been for honestly ANYWHERE.  EverythingManHB said we (Dee-Dee and I) almost gave it away chattering on Facebook...no way!  WE were totally blown away when we all arrived and saw each other, and the grins were PRICELESS :D  There's nothing like spending time with people who value their relationships as much as you do.  But the surprises don't end there.  Over dinner they kept hinting at more..yes MORE.

Wine Cellar
Friday the gentleman had some golf instruction while we enjoyed massages and scrubs at the Spa (you have to go...really you should treat yourself to this experience at least once).  After we came back from tea at the spa we dressed to go to, drumroll please... The Charlie Wilson and Kem concert, yeah baby love making music at its best.  We had a fantastic time, then to cap the night we went to our favorite late night spot and had a late supper and dessert (some had two desserts ;).

Ballroom
Breakfast caught us rolling in late (but that was a daily thing - I let Mr. Hayes sleep-in whenever he can).  There was a wine tour on tap for the afternoon, but this was really just a leisurely day, because when the evening rolled around....there was The BALL!  Yes, an honest to goodness masquerade ball.  I told you we had a ball.  Talk about some Cinderellas...take three Stay at Home Moms, and their prince charmings, ball included and you have a fairy tale.  No, not at all this is our life, this is us being honored by the men who promised to do so.  This is us celebrating our marriages, vowing to keep our families strong and together, and sharing in the promise that "Your Marriage is Important to Me".

Now don't think that I forgot Mr. Hayes.  My gift just wasn't as big.  I tend to go with traditional gifts and I was very happy with the one I found this year.  For the ninth anniversary willow wood items are customary.  Do you know what a willow tree looks like?  Its the one with the long flowing branches (they honestly look like strands hanging off the tree), they blow in the wind; even with a gentle breeze.  When I think of a Willow trees I imagine a strong trunk and deep roots with branches that just go with the ebb and flow, standards of a good marriage. "The roots are remarkable for their toughness, size, and tenacity to life..."  A great marker for any relationship I'd say.  


Once early in our marriage we had a scuff about something and a friend asked me "Does he still make your heart smile?" The answer--Yes, yes he did, and he still does.  That has been my measuring stick for many a thing.  But  as I perused shops looking for the thing, I came across this...
from Appalachian Primitive on Etsy.  That scripture pretty much sums it up.  Accompanied with the family motto, and the smile question, it is all the affirmation of our marriage I need.

Needless to say, my gift was loved equally and will be with us for many, many decades to come, at least 5 more.  




Marriage is absolutely important to me, and I'm making the sustaining of it a major part of platform this year.  Expect to see more on love and marriage and how to keep it strong and together.  


I'll post more pics soon.  


Until Next Time, 
Be Blessed