Movie Review: October Baby

April 13th, 2012

October Baby opened in my corner of the world today and I was so happy to have the opportunity to go see it with my friends. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that the message would be good and that is what I wanted to support. I’ve seen Fireproof and Bella, both of which were good movies with a good message, but I can’t say that I loved either of those. I was happy to promote them and support them because we need more of these types of movies in the world, but they were lacking a bit in the cinematic excellence department (Bella was better than Fireproof.) I had the feeling this movie would be more of the same.

I am thrilled to report that October Baby is different. This is a good movie. It has a compelling story line and is entertaining while sharing its message of forgiveness. As I am sure most of you are aware by now, it tells the story of Hannah Lawson, who survived a botched abortion attempt. At age nineteen, she is told the truth, and sets out to find her birth mother. It is a classic story of a heroine going on a journey to find herself. I laughed. I cried. It even has a sweet romance, based on love and friendship, rather than lust. It has a PG13 rating due to the subject matter, but it is definitely a great movie for teens and up.

The only small criticism I have is that there is a part in the movie when Hannah’s friend Jason tells Dr. Lawson (Hannah’s adoptive father) that “She is not your daughter.” On behalf of adoptive parents everywhere, the doctor’s response should have been, “I am her father in every way that matters.” For whatever reason, the writers have him ignore the comment.

Overall, however, this is an enjoyable, powerful movie. If it is playing in an area near you, please go see it. It matters how we spend our entertainment dollars and we need to support movies like this.

Book Review: My Other Self

February 20th, 2012

My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith
by Clarence J. Enzler
Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press, 2010

“My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith” was originally published in 1957. It has been reprinted as part of Ave Maria Press’ Christian Classics line. The author, Clarence J. Enzler was a father of thirteen children who was ordained to the deaconate in 1972, four years before his death. He is best known for his “Everyone’s Way of the Cross.” In the introduction to “My Other Self,” his children bear witness to the fact that he was a man who truly lived his faith. They write, “he was a model Christian, an outstanding Catholic, a defender of the faith, a gifted and skilled writer, a fabulous husband and an unparalleled father. But most of all, he was a man of God.”

“My Other Self” was modeled after “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis, but updated to include more modern theological ideas – for example, the writings of St. Therese, the Little Flower. Enzler writes as if Jesus were speaking directly to the reader, instructing him on the way he should go. In reading these pages, it is easy to believe that it is, in fact, Jesus speaking to you, inviting you to turn your whole life over to Him. He does not promise that the road will be easy. In fact, it will involve suffering. But, it is the only way to true happiness. Those who seek happiness in sinful pursuits will be bitterly disappointed, because such happiness can never last. “A saint is a person who is happy – forever.”

Enzler speaks of the need for surrender and detachment, prayer, and developing virtue. His directions are simple and straightforward, always loving and very practical. Enzler makes holiness seem possible, even in the midst of our brokenness. Every page of this book contains wisdom and offers much to reflect on. “My Other Self” is the type of book one should refer to again and again as one progresses (or perhaps takes a step backward) on one’s spiritual journey and is in need of encouragement.

There are so many wonderful quotes in this book (I literally took pages of notes while reading), but here are a few thoughts to carry with you:

“If you would be holy, surrender yourself to me.”

“I send you nothing that is too heavy for you to bear. Everything is fitted precisely to your strength.”

“You must faithfully perform all your daily duties, big and little, out of love for me.”

“Strive to love me equally in all things: in sickness or health, life or death, wealth or poverty, pleasure or pain, consolations or desolations.”

“Do not complain, but do not hesitate to ask the Father for aid to bear your cross and your sufferings.”

“Patience with me is simply trust in me. To trust me completely is the utmost in patience.”

“I require action, but I must have action firmly founded on prayer. The more you lead a life of prayer, the more fruitful your work must inevitably become.”

“Sin is turning away from your King toward some other creature, living or inanimate.”

“Give your present and your future completely into my hands. Accept here and now all that my plan for you entails. This is a great sacrifice, but it is also a great joy.”

What is True Love?

February 12th, 2012

This week a lot of tokens of affection will be exchanged. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. I’m not going to begrudge anyone their cards, candy, and flowers. There’s even a time and place for diamonds. I’m quite fond of gifts that involve chocolate myself! But, it is important to realize that love, true love, goes far beyond anything that can be given in a box.

One of the most beautiful expressions of love I’ve ever seen took place at a soccer game. It featured an older couple I had come to know through my parish. I had the pleasure of serving with them on our pre-cana team. At the time, they had been married thirty-five years and they were responsible for giving the talk on sexuality. I’m sure many of the young couples in the audience walking in wondered what a couple older than their parents could have to say about sexuality, but their fears were quickly allayed.

I’m sure that they had their share of struggles, but this couple was so in love, even after all those years, and their talk was always one of the most appreciated of the day. He still looked at her like she was the most beautiful woman in the room and she referred to him as “the cream in my coffee!” They were full of romance, and held hands and stood as close as the young engaged couples.

One of the stories they shared took place on a holy day. They had met each other for noon Mass at a downtown chapel and then went to a restaurant for lunch. The following weekend they were at a party, and a woman came up to them and said, “Wow, you are really his wife?” Apparently, this woman had seen them when they were leaving the restaurant. They had kissed twice before getting into their separate cars, and she just assumed that they were having an affair! They also shared stories of having candlelit dinners and slow-dancing in their living room, even during the years when it embarrassed their children.

Fast-forward ten years. The husband was suffering from dementia and assorted physical ailments. On a chilly New England Fall day, his wife had brought him to the soccer field to watch their grandson play, helped him into his wheelchair, and pushed him to the field. During the game, I happened to look over at them. She was standing behind him, leaning on his wheelchair, her face tired and worn from worry and exhaustion. I offered a prayer. And then, she covered his ears with her own mittened hands to keep them warm. That simple gesture represented a lifetime of true love and was worth more than a hundred diamond rings. He died a few months later, but the witness of their love was a blessing to all who saw it through their nearly fifty years of marriage.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

The Truth About Life with a Huge Student Loan

January 29th, 2012

One of the issues of this presidential campaign as well as of the recent Occupy movement is the cost of higher education and the burden of student loans. I’ve heard some people remark that people who complain about the cost of student loans are “whiners” and that they should have realized what they were getting into and acted more responsibly. Others trot out the old maxim, “I worked my way through college – today’s young people should do the same.”

I would like to start this article by saying that I am not, in any way, whining. I merely want to share some facts, including real dollar and cents information, on what life is like with a huge student loan and why something truly needs to be done about this growing problem.

I was very fortunate. I received a large scholarship for my undergraduate education, and my father generously covered the small percentage that we needed to pay for. I attended graduate school one class at a time which was paid for by the college since I worked there full-time.

My husband was not so lucky. He came from a poor background. After high school, he worked for several years and helped support his family. He returned to college in his mid-twenties. By attending a community college and a four-year institution at the same time, he was able to complete his undergraduate degree in three years. He then went on to law school – working full-time and attending school part-time in the evenings. In 2001, he graduated the month after our first child was born with $111,000 in debt.

That first student loan payment came due that November. Even with consolidating loans and the thirty-year graduated payment plan, the bill was for $800. It could have been a million dollars. The reality was, we simply didn’t have the money. We firmly believe in paying our bills, but there was no way we could pay that one. We worked with the Department of Education which holds the loan and were able to obtain a forbearance. We would pay $300 a month. It was a stretch, but we were able to pay it. I believe we paid that for two years. We then went up to $450 a month and $600 and finally the full amount which we have been paying for several years now. We currently pay $860 a month – more than we pay for our mortgage payment.

The issue is that during the years we couldn’t pay the full amount, the interest kept accruing. At its highest point, the loan reached $130,000. We have now been paying on this loan for over ten years. During that time, we have paid $73,964.98, yet the principal amount is still $126,082.58. I will repeat that so that it can sink in – we have paid over seventy thousand dollars yet the amount we owe is still fifteen thousand dollars more than we started out owing! Can you understand why this can make people throw up their arms in frustration? As much as I would like to honor this debt and pay off this loan, pending an unexpected financial windfall, we will most likely die before it is paid off.

Meanwhile, it has impacted every financial decision we have made. It affects our ability to save for our children’s education and retirement. Plus, there is the psychological weight of knowing that we owe this money.

I stated in the beginning that I was not whining and that is true. We have been blessed. We are able to make the payments. My husband’s education allowed him to pursue a career which gives him fulfillment and allows me to work part-time from home and home-school our children. Plus, at least he received both an undergraduate and graduate education for the amount we owe. Today, that amount of loans can easily be accumulated simply obtaining an undergraduate degree. If both a husband and wife have this amount of loans, the result is truly financially crippling.

Unlike home loans or car loans, which are based on income and what you are buying and can be made as prudent financial decisions, student loans are based on hope – the hope of future earnings. I know that when we were signing for these loans, we knew the amount was large, but we had no concept of what it would take to pay them. We certainly didn’t have the money to pay for the classes out-of-pocket. They were necessary for him to obtain his education. We simply hoped it would all work out.

Today, as a parent, I don’t know how to advise my children. I want them to be able to fulfill their potential and obtain a higher education if that is what they want. At the same time, I know the reality of living with large student loan debt. Something must be done about the high cost of higher education and the burden of student loans. This is a very real issue that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Time to Simplify . . . Again!

January 8th, 2012

Two years ago during Lent, I embarked on a forty bags in forty days project. The idea, which came from Faith and Family, was to rid one’s house of forty bags of excess material goods – ideally through giving items away, although some items definitely deserve a place in the trash. I’ve decided it’s time to do it again. No, it isn’t Lent and I most likely won’t be able to accomplish my goal in forty days this time, but I desperately need to get rid of things.
While some people seem to be able to maintain well-ordered houses all the time, mine seems to attract clutter the way refrigerators attract magnets (did I mention that I have too many of those as well?).

Some of it, I have little control over. After all, I don’t live alone and I need to respect my husband’s and children’s needs and desires as well. I can encourage them to live more simply and to give away what they no longer need, but no matter how much I might want to, I cannot simply bag up all their possessions and bring them to the local thrift shop. Part of loving other people is making the sacrifice of living with their “stuff.”

Still, I can set a good example and reduce what is within my power to do so. Right now, the sheer amount of stuff is weighing me down. Mary Ann Otto writes of a similar problem in “Boxing Day,” featured in the January 2012 issue of U.S. Catholic:

We tend to store things long after they have outlived their usefulness. I am not sure why; perhaps we document our life with them. Maybe letting go of them reminds us of our own mortality, with the realization that we will not be taking a U-Haul with us into the next life.

Jesus warns us against storing up treasures on earth. There is a reason: I find the more I keep unnecessary items, the more difficult it is to be at peace and in solidarity with Christ’s teachings. I am often distracted by clutter, and there is little doubt others could benefit from my surplus possessions.

There is obviously nothing wrong with owning things. We all need some items – things that are necessary for life, as well as things that are simply beautiful and bring us pleasure, and those items which have a strong emotional value. Yet, most of us own many things that don’t fit into any of those categories, items that we don’t use and which could be doing someone else some good. Those are the items I’m seeking to rid my life of.

I want to live a generous life. This is one way to do that, a simple way to share what I have been blessed with. I have never regretted giving something away. I have found that generosity is always rewarded. If I am generous with others, I trust that when the time comes that I need something, others will be generous with me. I have definitely found that to be the case.

I know I will never completely get rid of all the extraneous items in my life. No doubt, a couple years from now, I will once again desperately need to do a major decluttering. It is one of those on-going battles. Letting go of things is not always easy, however, it is necessary, for both my mental and spiritual health. Let the bagging begin!

Finding God in the Everyday

January 1st, 2012

Time has gone by quickly, but it has been eight years since I started The Spiritual Woman website. While my blog has largely supplanted the website, my mission has remained the same – I have always wanted to help women find God in the everyday busyness of their lives.

I walk in those shoes. I know how crazy life can be – how hard it is to pray and focus on God when children (especially young children) need your attention, and your to-do list is overflowing with tasks. I know how easy it is to serve everyone else and forget to nurture yourself.

But, we women need to feed the well first. If we aren’t rooted in God, then we can’t go out and serve our families to the best of our abilities. God matters. Prayer matters (even if it happens while showering, or pushing a stroller, or making supper). God is there with us in the housework and the childcare and the hundreds of tasks that fill our days. We just need to pay attention.

Aileen O’Donoghue offered this take on the subject in her reflection for December 31, 2011 in Posted in Christian Living | No Comments »

The Wait is Almost Over!

December 18th, 2011

“I can’t take waiting any more!” My nine-year-old son emphatically announced. “I want to open my presents.”

“But that is what Advent is for. It is a time of waiting,” I responded, attempting to reinforce a bit of religious instruction in the midst of the whining.

“Advent is twenty-eight days of torture!”

I don’t think that he actually believes that Advent is torture. After all, we do lots of fun things during Advent to prepare for Christmas. But, I do understand where he is coming from. As a child, December seemed an interminable stretch of days. Time moved in slow-motion. It seemed to take so long for each candle on the Advent wreath to be lit. Would Christmas ever come? It takes time to realize that the waiting can actually be part of the joy. Anticipating an event and preparing for it can sometimes be just as exciting as the event itself!

My children don’t have much longer to wait, even though they might think that they do. As an adult, Advent seems to pass by in a blur each year. My life is in a constant state of fast-forward. How can it be time to get ready for Christmas already? Didn’t we just do this?

In light of this phenomenon, I can’t honestly say that I wait for Christmas day any more. Still, from a spiritual perspective, I know what it is to wait. I wait for answers to prayers, for healing for all those who are hurting in some way, for peace in my family and in the world, and for the type of joy that is everlasting. I know that the coming of December 25th won’t end the waiting for those types of wishes, even though in my life I have been blessed by at least a couple of Christmas miracles.

Yet, instead of viewing the wait as something painful, I can look forward with anticipation. I know that in God’s time, all my dreams will be fulfilled. In light of eternity, the wait isn’t long at all. God became man to save us from sin, to reopen the doors of heaven for us, to bring us peace, and healing, and joy. That tiny baby in the manger offers the answer to all of our deepest desires. We simply need to trust, and hope, and wait.

I wish you all a very blessed Christmas.

Coping with Sibling Rivalry

December 11th, 2011

If you have a sibling or more than one child, chances are that you have dealt with the ugly green monster that is sibling rivalry. In a perfect world, children born of the same parents or adopted into the same family would always love, honor, and respect each other. They would share without complaint, applaud each other’s successes, and be happy to not be the center of Mom and Dad’s attention all of the time. But, alas, this is an imperfect world, and sibling rivalry has existed since the days of Cain and Abel. We aren’t going to be able to root it out completely. So, then, our only hope is to attempt to minimize it.

Truthfully, my two boys get along well most of the time – emphasis on most. There are certainly times that one or the other or both have wished (loudly!) that they were only children, but usually they are content to enjoy each other’s company. They are close in age – a mere nineteen months apart – and share many interests and friends which is a blessing. Lately, however, we have been dealing with a serious case of sibling rivalry.

The two of them are taking acting classes at a local drama studio this year and they both love them. When auditions came for the first big play, they were both eager to try out. I hoped beyond hope that they would both either get a role or both get rejected. What happened? You guessed it – my older son got a role and my younger one did not. While it was fortunate that it was that way and not the opposite situation, it still made for some considerable gloating and jealousy.

While David had the opportunity to go out night after night for rehearsals, Isaac was stuck at home. While David got to perform in a large downtown theater five times and get catered meals, Isaac was relegated to the audience. I did try to mitigate the issues as much as possible. I reminded David that talking about the play incessantly, no matter how excited he was about it, was not being kind to his brother. I reminded Isaac that there would be other plays and he would most likely get to be in one that David wasn’t in. I also tried to spend some extra time with Isaac, doing things that he enjoyed while David was out of the house. Still, the hard feelings continued.

As a parent, I was torn. It was wonderful to see David blossom and find something he truly loves and could be good at. As some of you are aware, he has high-functioning autism. Life is hard for him. He struggles academically and socially and athletically. One of the reasons I signed him and his brother up for acting classes is that the school said that they welcomed those who were different. They said it was a place where anyone could excel. That has definitely proven to be the case. The child who fears every new situation has been excited to go to rehearsals and the performances every single time. That, in itself, is amazing.

At the same time, I did feel badly for Isaac. He wanted a part every bit as much. As much as I know that learning to be happy for someone else is an important life lesson, it still hurts to be left behind. He is the younger brother, if not by much, and most of the time he has to wait a year to do the things his brother can do. It isn’t a fun position to be in. In this case, I can’t even guarantee that he will get a role the next time. That is up to the directors and age has nothing to do with it. I can only hope.

Yes, sibling rivalry is alive and well in my household. The play is behind us now and hopefully life, and their relationship, will return to normal – at least for a while. I know, though, as they continue to grow and carve out their individual places in the world, that rivalry will continue. Despite my best efforts, I can’t eliminate it completely. My job in all of this is to continue to emphasize their respective talents and give them the parental attention they need, and hope and pray that their love for each other outweighs their need to compete with each other.

For some good suggestions on dealing with and helping to prevent sibling rivalry, please see this article from the University of Michigan Health System: Sibling Rivalry.

The Santa Club

November 27th, 2011

I know that some people don’t allow their children to believe in the Santa myth for a variety of reasons. My parents fell into this category. But, when my children were little, I decided to allow them to enjoy that magic while making sure that they were truly aware that the true reason for Christmas was Jesus. Belief in Santa Claus was only a small part of our Advent and Christmas celebration. They knew that Mom and Dad provided most of the presents underneath the tree but each year, Santa brought one. They also knew that they had to make or buy presents for other people. Still, that belief was important to them.

My mother broke the news to my children that there was no Santa last year – two weeks before Christmas. It wasn’t pretty. My two boys were crying uncontrollably and we made an extremely hasty retreat from Memere’s house that day.

They were certainly old enough to know the truth, and I had planned on telling them right after Christmas, but my younger son asked my mother and she had no problem at all dishing out the cold, hard facts of the situation while I could only watch in shock.

In a way, it was a blessing. She saved me from being the bearer of bad news. Their anger was directed at her, rather than me. And truly, they got over it rather quickly. Thankfully, they still had a wonderful Christmas and still enjoyed watching Santa circle the globe on the Norad Santa Tracker (a great geography lesson!)

Still, it seems like there should be a better way to handle that inevitable question. I think that Kelley Moss has found it. Sixteen years ago, her six-year-old son posed that same query to her and she was speechless. Thankfully, she was in her mother-in-law’s kitchen and the elder woman took over quickly. She explained about St. Nicholas and how he secretly gave gifts to poor children and families. When he died, others started a club to continue the tradition. This was a group of other secret “Santas” who went on to give gifts to others to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. She invited the young boy to become part of this club. He was thrilled to join, and the following year, when his younger brother was old enough to ask that same question, he was ready with an invitation to the club!

This year, Kelley Moss, a national speaker on “The Gift of Giving,” published The Santa Club, designed for parents and children to read together when the time is right. Beginning with the Biblical quote, “It is more blessed to give than receive,” (Acts 20:15) the book helps to foster generosity in children. It even contains a certificate at the end to officially designate a child as a member of the secret organization. The Santa Club has met with wonderful reviews, even winning a Mom’s Choice Award, awarded to those who create family-friendly media resources.

The corresponding website, The Santa Club, offers more information on the book as well as suggestions of ways to give.

More Than 100 Reasons to Be Thankful, Even in Hard Times

November 20th, 2011

by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
Two years ago, I asked many people, both young and old, what they were thankful for in order to compile a list of 100 reasons to be thankful, even in hard times. While some time has passed since I put together that list, times are definitely still hard and the list is definitely still relevant. Looking it over, however, I decided that there were some things I would personally like to add to the list.

For many people, this has been the year of weather-related disasters. My own area of western Massachusetts has seen a tornado, microburst, hurricane, and an October snowstorm which caused an incredible amount of damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been here way more than we would like. After losing our power for a full week, this year I am definitely thankful for the basics – electricity, hot water, heat, and being able to do the laundry. I am also incredibly thankful for good neighbors and friends who made going through that experience much easier. I am also very thankful for all the electrical workers and tree-removal people who came from far and wide to help – after the tornado and after the snowstorm.

In technological developments, while I don’t personally own either one, smartphones and tablet computers are constantly evolving and changing our world. I’m thankful for them as well. I’m also thankful for more traditional means of getting information. I still love to read my newspaper every morning and my children enjoy the comics. I hope that they continuing publishing for a long time to come.

That being said, I now offer you the original list. I encourage you to add your own reasons to be thankful in the comments section. No matter how hard life gets, we all have much to be thankful for. I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for . . .
1. The health of my family.
2. Taking naps on the couch or in the backyard.
3. Driving the scenic route.
4. Community events open to the public.
5. My (flawed) relationships with God and my family, both immediate and extended. Flawed relationships are much better than none at all!
6. My wife and I have grown together and I am constantly grateful and impressed as she matures.
7. The Word of God.
8. Brief and productive meetings.
9. Quilts and blankets, to keep me warm.
10. My wonderful family and for my best friend, who has always been there with quiet support, encouragement, and words of wisdom, through thick and thin since the day we met.
11. The incredible diversity of people on this planet.
12. Co-workers who don’t mind switching their days off to help you out.
13. Toys.
14. Dirty dishes because it means we have eaten. Thank you for baby giggles; they keep me sane.
15. That God made me.
16. Teddy bears.
17. The feel of a child’s hand in mine.
18. Waking up when you need to even when the alarm doesn’t go off.
19. Babies.
20. The day being silent now that it’s over for the little ones.
21. Movies and CDs being available at libraries.
22. The convenience of e-mail.
23. Wrinkle-free clothing.
24. Christmas lights.
25. Friends who care about me enough to tell me when I am being stupid.
26. Our Veterans.
27. Books, because I can experience the world, learn new things, laugh, cry and connect without ever leaving my couch.
28. My job, especially in this economy.
29. Religious leaders.
30. Volunteers.
31. A cup of hot cocoa on a cold day.
32. Family and friends; love them all!
33. The smell of homemade desserts baking in the oven.
34. Listening to beautiful music.
35. Friends meeting over a cup of tea; a fire in the hearth; a friendly game of Scrabble.
36. My kids, who can always make me laugh.
37. Being friends with my parents.
38. Every member of my family, especially for my mom who is a constant source of support, encouragement and friendship.
39. Enjoyable conversation between friends.
40. Hugs.
41. My family, having a job, having health insurance, and being loved as much as I am.
42. My health, even if I complain about certain aches and pains!
43. My family, my fiancé and being able to go to college.
44. Having a roof over my head.
45. Finding a dollar in an old coat you haven’t worn in years.
46. Enjoyable hobbies and pursuits in life.
47. The forgiveness of God.
48. Schools and colleges.
49. A dictionary & thesaurus, both within arm’s reach.
50. Repairing an object yourself and having it come out perfectly.
51. Hot showers after a hard day of work to ease away the stress of the day.
52. The express line at the grocery store.
53. The generosity of strangers.
54. “Chick Flicks” vs. “Action Movies” and explaining why yours is more enjoyable to the “other team”.
55. Tossed aside treasures at tag sales or wherever they may be found.
56. Duct-Tape!
57. Good role-models we can point to for children to aspire to emulate.
58. Indoor plumbing – imagine life without it.
59. Date nights.
60. Inspiring words that lift our souls in times of crisis.
61. Youth and amateur sports leagues to both watch and play in.
62. People who obey traffic regulations.
63. The trials and losses in my life for they have helped me become a stronger and better person!
64. Our favorite instructors and teachers.
65. People who enjoy reading what we write.
66. Chocolate!
67. Hidden places that you can sneak away to.
68. Health care workers.
69. Internet Maps and GPS devices.
70. Lucky old coins and favorite treasures, both precious and humble.
71. The spring that will come after the winter.
72. All those who came before us great and small have a story to tell. That is what history is all about. So I am thankful to be able to know and learn their stories.
73. Old libraries and their treasures which lay hidden and wait to be re-discovered.
74. People with interesting personalities who make the world better or at the very least, more interesting.
75. Brothers and sisters.
76. Word processing software.
77. Sitting in an open field on a crystal clear night and enjoying the celestial display above.
78. Our furry four-legged friends who have chosen to live their lives with us.
79. Being able to sit at a computer and just watch music videos when we are supposed to be working.
80. Sunrises, sunsets, ocean waves, hidden forests, mossy rocks and mountain streams and all the other wonderments of nature.
81. Our Guardian Angels who stay with us even when we try to refuse their help.
82. A child’s laughter.
83. The wisdom of elders.
84. Works of art.
85. Those perfect parking places which sometimes we are lucky enough to get.
86. The creative minds of others and what they share with us all.
87. Photos, for capturing a moment in time.
88. Relaxing periods of quiet during a busy day.
89. To live in a free country.
90. Bookmarks! No need to fold pages!
91. Museums.
92. Social Networking sites. I’ve always wanted to know what people I haven’t seen since grade school are up to.
93. Sweaters, hats, scarves and gloves.
94. Search engine searches that actually turn up useful results.
95. Good listeners.
96. Parks.
97. Hand-written letters.
98. Bread, the universal side to any meal.
99. Buy one, get two free sales.
100. People who commit their lives to protecting and preserving our cities, states and country.