Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Favorites: Forsythia and Daffodills

I was stopped in traffic on Woodmont Boulevard yesterday and looked over to see a huge stand of forsythia by the side of the road. It was grey and rainy, but the bright yellow flowers stood out and were so pretty, I had to take a picture.

Continuing on the yellow theme, I haven't had a chance to shoot my own photo of daffodills, but they've been putting on quite a show around town this past week as well. I've borrowed a photo that my friend Debbie posted on Facebook (if you're reading this, Debbie, I hope you don't mind!).

I love how spring bursts forth with all its vibrant colors and can't wait to see what shows up next!

March Madness

I've been bitten by the March Madness bug! Last week before the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament started, I got an invitation to fill out a bracket and add it to a group of my coworkers' brackets. I usually ignore, I mean, politely decline these requests, but I decided to do it this year.

Now, I am not completely a novice when it comes to March Madness. For many years I've been around people who were involved in varying degrees, with my earliest memories of having any awareness of the tournament being in high school while at a Model UN convention and the guys in my group would use break times to check on the games. This was pre-internet, smart phones or any way of seeing the games other than when they were being broadcast.

After I met my husband-to-be, I got really indoctrinated into the whole bracket thing and was sucked in by his enthusiasm. I was even able to take him to a regional round at Brendan Byrne Arena (now Izod Center) in East Rutherford, NJ, to watch some games on his birthday, which also fell on Easter Sunday in 1989. Score a big one for the girlfriend!

Once my son was born and started discovering his love for sports, it was fun for me to watch as his dad taught him how to fill out a bracket (which was still only accessible in the newspaper the day after the selection show). I have a photo somewhere of the two of them bent over their brackets very intent on making their picks.

Because I'm one of "those" moms, I have kept a lot of Daniel's brackets through the years and he got a kick out of looking at them last week when he was home for Spring Break.

And speaking of Spring Break, Daniel's school has been very cooperative the past couple of years and has scheduled their break to coincide with when the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament are played, making it very nice for students who wish to sit on the couch and watch games pretty much 24/7 for four days straight!

The NCAA tournament may even be one of the reasons we pay for digital television in our home. Thanks, U-Verse!

So, back to my involvement in the whole March Madness thing. Like I said, I filled out a bracket this year and then spent lots of time in front of the TV last weekend hearing the squeak of the player's shoes on the court and the obnoxious sound of the buzzer. I got stressed out about different teams losing who I thought would win and experienced the agony of a busted bracket (at least in one region).

But at least for today (Friday), my bracket and I have survived enough to be tied for first place among my coworkers. Who knows what will happen with the games this weekend, but I will continue to check the scores on my newly-acquired ESPN app on my phone and see how far I can go on my mostly uneducated picking system.

Monday, March 16, 2015

What a difference the sun/son/Son makes

It has been a long second half of winter in Nashville. The ice/snow days, the cold weather, and the cloudy, dreary skies have not helped my mood over the past few weeks. Add the time change in and it's just completely thrown me off kilter.

But after a rainy start to the weekend (Friday and Saturday), Sunday was a beautiful day! I actually wish that I had opened my window blinds earlier than I did, but as I got ready to leave for church (the late service), I happened to catch a glimpse of a strange, yet familiar light shining in the cracks of the blinds. When I went outside, I was so happy to find that I needed my sunglasses and that there was not a cloud in the sky! That's right, it was all blue. (I guess the University of Kentucky fans that swarmed our city this weekend probably thought it was for them, although sky blue is more of a Carolina blue . . . but I digress).

Honestly, my mood in the morning was still stuck in the gray mode and I was not too excited about the day ahead. But the sunshine and a wonderful time of worship and teaching from my pastor helped lift me out of the gray and by the time I left church (after choir rehearsal) and finished up my grocery shopping, my mood had done a complete 180!

Of course, that brings me to the other part of the equation: my son was on his way home for Spring Break! I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside in the sunshine reading magazines and looking for his car to come cruising in the driveway. He got home safely and we had a great time catching up on things and hanging out together. Time with my son just fills my tank and while I am accepting of the fact that he's growing up and leaving the nest, spending time with him is usually an instant mood-lifter for me. I love the time we can have together, and it's especially precious now that it's not an everyday occurance.

As I was driving to work today and contemplating the sunshine and the time with my son, I was thankful that my thoughts also moved to the main Source of my joy: God's Son, Jesus. So often, I forget or neglect to go to him with my sadness, my melancholy moods, my burdens. And even when I do bring them to him, sometimes the mood doesn't go away automatically. However, I can and do experience a "peace that passes all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) when I take the time to go to the Son in prayer and pour out my heart to him. He is always with me (and with you) and always hears and cares about what is weighing down my heart.

So yes, I am happy when the sun is shining and when I get to have special times with my son, but thankfully, the real reason that I can enjoy those things and can persevere through the hard things in life is because Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Snow Day Thoughts

Here it is, the fifth of March, and I am off of work due to a snowstorm! At least it will soon be Spring and then Summer, and we'll be wishing it was cooler. I don't mind the snow and am enjoying a day to relax around the house and do fun projects.

This is our second round of snow days in two weeks and the last time it had me "house bound" for the better part of three days. I was pretty stir-crazy and ready to be around people by the time the third day rolled around. I think I am enough of an extrovert that I don't like to be by myself for that long of a stretch.

Another thing I am is structured. So when my daily/weekly routine is interrupted, it starts to mess with my mood as well. Even the uncertainty of whether the storm system will produce sleet or snow or nothing at all can make me anxious as I anticipate it. Turning off the constant speculating of the news media helps a lot, although I know we need the help of those professionals to some extent.

Having grown up in the Northeast, I am still somewhat annoyed at how unprepared we are in the South when we have to deal with snow and ice. I understand that we don't need to needlessly use resources since we get fewer winter storms, but the fact that I am not able to get to work safely with only two or three inches of snow on the ground is still mind-boggling to me. Thankfully, my employers want everyone to stay safe and don't expect us to get there no matter what.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a trip to New Jersey and New York and had a four-inch snowfall while I was there. My friends and I walked on the snowy Brooklyn streets to go to dinner and the next day, we were able to drive back to NJ on cleared roads. My flight out also departed on time.

I sure wouldn't want to live in the parts of the country that stay snow-covered all winter. I have gotten spoiled by living in the South and like to see just a few pretty snowfalls and then I'm satisfied for another year. I like to see my familiar places in all seasons and everything always looks pretty when it snows.