Pay It Forward Thursday #3

Celebrating 31 Years in Alaska…

Though my body wasn’t born here, I think maybe my heart was.

Even as a small child, I felt a strange attachment to the mountains. I remember trips to West Virginia to visit relatives, and as soon as the mountains came into view, my heart would start to race and my imagination ran wild. I would daydream of living in a cabin with nothing but the rock hills and woods and wild creatures surrounding me.

Then 31 years ago, I came to Alaska to visit a friend. I stepped off the plane and into the frigid cold and snow, and I knew I was home.

When I returned to Texas I began making arrangements, and a few short months later, Alaska became my permanent home.

In the early years I had the opportunity to visit quite a few remote areas here while working as a firefighter with the Division of Forestry. Though the work was hard, the experiences, the gorgeous scenery, and the people I met, were more than worth the effort.

Of all the places I’ve been to, Alaska is the most diversified, not only in it’s varying terrain, but also in it’s people with their assorted cultures, languages, history and unique lifestyles. In many ways, it is like taking a step back in time to when life was simpler and more peaceful.

One of the things I like the most about living here is the atmosphere of artistic minds, and free, independent-minded spirit of the people in general.

Perhaps it is because of living under harsh conditions in rough terrain with unpredictable climates, and in relative isolation, but there is a sense of hardiness in Alaskans that gives an air of an “I can do it by myself” attitude. Though the people are tough and independent by nature, they are mostly friendly and welcoming as well.

The creativity and imagination I’ve seen at work here has inspired me on many occasions, not just in art, but in lifestyle also. And the generosity and helpful nature of the folks hearts has given Alaska the power to keep me here all these years.

Though my body is getting older and slower, and I can no longer do some of the things I used to, my heart is still wild and free here.

Promoting my neighbors…

Since I am celebrating my life in Alaska, I thought it would be appropriate to use today’s pay-it-forward post to introduce a few of my neighbors. (They don’t actually live next door to me, but in Alaska, we’re all neighbors.)

Alaska Artisan Network

I’d like to start by introducing Alaska Rooted Creations, LLC (ARC), Alaska Artisan Network from Kasaan, Alaska, located on Prince of Wales Island.

The purpose of the network is supporting Alaskan artisans through sharing information and resources, teaching and learning from one another, along with promoting, and marketing in their village’s open market.

The forum style network categories allow members to select from a wide variety of topics, or suggest new ones. Folks can advertise items, events, ask questions, give advice or tips, etc.

Though this is a brand new venture, I like the community-minded spirit of these young entrepreneurs, and I believe their ideas are worthy of a favorable mention. For more information go to www.akrooted.com/artisannetwork. You can also find them on Facebook here.

Alaska Cat & Dog Rescue

AK Cat & Dog Rescue is an organization very dear to my heart. This animal rescue group takes in any animal in need, anywhere in Alaska, including dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, horses, and birds.

Their top notch foster homes provide a safe and loving environment where these animals get the care they need to recover and thrive while getting used to a family atmosphere. From there, the animals are adopted out to their forever homes to enjoy a lifetime of love.

AK Cat & Dog Rescue is based out of Wasilla, Alaska, with foster homes located throughout the Matanuska Valley. They hold several adoptions clinics around the state at different times of the year. For more information you can visit their site at www.akcatanddog.com.

Well, that’s all for today’s pay it forward. Thanks for joining me today!

If you are interested in being added to my weekly pay-it-forward list, or know someone you would like to see promoted, subscribe to my email list here, and receive the newsletter with the information on being added.

Have a fantastic day, and join me tomorrow for Friday Fun! – Amber

#amwriting  #Alaska  #Pay-It-Forward  #artists  #neighbors  #community

The War Within Us

Which side will win?…

The truth and wisdom of this old Cherokee story speaks volumes in just a few sentences.

We all have positive and negative emotions inside of us, it’s just a part of human nature. But it’s what we focus our thoughts and attention to that influences the choices we make, choices that create the life we live.

As in the story of the 2 wolves, if we put our energy and effort into the evil side, the results we get are darkness. But if we put our energy and effort into the good side, the results we get are positive.

So, why is it such a struggle? Because emotions are a very powerful force, including the negative ones. They are strong motivators to react to our situations.

The side we choose is based on what we value and believe in.

We reap what we sow…

The universal law of cause and effect states that for every effect there is a definite cause, likewise for every cause, there is a definite effect. Your thoughts, behaviors, and actions create specific effects that manifest and create your life as you know it.

We all experience both good and bad thoughts and emotions. The key is in which ones we choose to focus on, allowing them to influence our attitudes and behaviors. Negative thoughts and emotions are going to cause negative results, and positive ones are going to cause positive results.

Let’s look at a quick comparison of a common scenario:

You’re driving in traffic on your way to work, and someone cuts you off.

  1. You get angry. You honk your horn and yell some obscenities. You drive faster and more aggressively. Then you get pulled over and get a ticket for speeding. Now you’re even angrier. You arrive at work in a bad mood and start criticizing your co-workers, creating strife and animosity. The boss starts to talk to you about your attitude and you lose your temper and get fired or quit. You go home, consumed with angry thoughts, and end up in a huge argument with your spouse. The results of your day are negative because you allowed your mind to keep feeding the angry emotion, (the evil wolf).
  2. You decide to ignore the offence. You focus on being a good and courteous driver. You get to work and greet your co-workers with a smile and enthusiasm, creating an atmosphere of team spirit. The boss says he/she appreciates everyone’s efforts. The work gets done successfully and you go home. You have a pleasant conversation with your spouse and enjoy your evening together. The results of your day are positive because you chose to feed your positive emotions, (the good wolf).

Can we choose our emotions…

Not exactly. But we can choose our thoughts and actions, and how we respond to our circumstances. It may take significant and consistent effort, but with practice we can create better results for our lives. We can become better people.

In last Wednesday’s post I shared with you some of the darkest emotions that I’ve ever experienced. And for a time, those emotions led to very negative places and poor choices, eventually manifesting in physical ways that were not so pleasant.

But as I began to focus my thoughts on building a better life, I began making different choices, leading to different and better results. Each day that I make choices to do and become better, I make progress toward the results that I want in my life.

Think about that old Cherokee story. Do you know which wolf you are feeding? Which one do you want to win? What are you going to do about it?

Now go out and make a difference, and have an awesome day! – Amber

P.S. Don’t forget, if you are interested in being added to my weekly pay-it-forward list, or know someone you would like to see promoted, subscribe to my email list here, and receive the newsletter with the information on being added.

10 Questions Every Blogger Should Ask Themselves

I’m sharing this post written by Cristian Mihai. Well written and concise, it not only applies to blogging, but all writing.
Make sure to visit his site for more tips and tools of the trade.
Happy Tuesday! – Amber

The Art of Blogging

The truth about writing is that it’s 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration; a good writer starts with a quick burst of creativity and spends the rest of their time refining and editing those initial ideas.

This ratio of creating vs. editing time helps clarify your ideas so your audience understands your point of view.

View original post 776 more words

MONDAY MOTIVATION #3

POWER OF THE HEART

The dictionary describes the word motivate as – desire to do; interest or drive.

One of the main reasons I write is motivated by the desire in my heart to help others. And I absolutely love meeting other folks with that same desire!

If you’ve read any of my Friday Fun posts, you already know I’m an avid animal lover. But what you may not know is that I also have a soft spot in my heart for the brave individuals that put their life on the line for the sake of helping and serving others. This includes police officers, both 2 legged and 4 legged.

While ballistic vests (bullet proof vests) are standard issue in police departments for their human officers, it is not standard issue for the K9 partners, leaving them at a higher risk of injury or death.

Though efforts are being made to change this, as it stands right now, most police departments simply do not have funds available to provide the expensive gear for the dogs.

In July of 2016, as I was looking for a way to honor my son Christian’s birthday, I read an article about the lack of this life-saving gear for the K9 units. Knowing Christian’s love for dogs, along with his considering a possible career in law enforcement, I walked into our local police department and made a donation in Christian’s name for their K9 unit.

While it made me feel good to give that gift, I knew that my small contribution by itself would not make a significant difference, perhaps a few bags of dog food would help. But I wanted to do more.

One + One + One etc. adds up in a big way…

While the Pay It Forward posts are usually done on Thursdays, this post is part motivation and part pay it forward, because the young man that I’m going to tell you about touched my heart with his story in more than one way.

Meet Brady Snakovsky from Strongsville, Ohio.

Young Brady is the founder of Brady’s K9 Fund, an organization that raises funds and provides ballistic vests specifically designed for protection, mobility, and comfort for the dogs.

Brady began his quest in 2017 when he learned of the need for more vests for the K9s. In his attempt to raise funds for just 1 vest, with the help of his family and community, he was able to donate 4 vests. With his continued efforts more funds were raised, and more vests donated.

In 2018, with the help of his mom, Leah Tornabene, Brady’s K9 Fund was established. To date the organization has provided 84 specialized vests manufactured by LOF Defense Systems for the canines, quite an accomplishment for such a young person.

While there is still a long waiting list for additional vests, Brady’s organization is making a difference already. And with continued efforts, the impact continues to grow larger.

Be that one…

What starts with one caring heart can grow into something much larger. Whether it is by means of a financial contribution to a specific cause, or a random act of kindness, or volunteering to do something, our efforts can bring about change.

One thing that stood out in my mind about Brady’s story was the fact that he was only 8 years old when he first started his mission to help.

He didn’t have a platform or special interest groups to back him. He didn’t have a large group of lobbyists to plead his cause. He isn’t old enough to vote, or even in high school yet.

Brady simply had a caring heart and wanted to do something to help. And so, he did, starting with one small step.

Because of the power in his heart, the motivation to take that first step, and to keep taking more steps, Brady is creating a positive impact while influencing other hearts by the demonstration of his own love. And that is why others are joining him in his efforts.

It all begins with one person caring enough to start. And every one of us can make a difference, whether in a small way, or on a massive scale. Remember, Brady originally set out to donate only 1 vest.

For more information about Brady’s cause, or to make a donation or request for service, please visit his site at: https://www.bradysk9fund.com/

Well, that’s it for now. So, until tomorrow…Get out and get motivated, and have a Happy Monday!  – Amber

P.S. An invitation…

If you are interested in being added to my weekly pay-it-forward list, or know someone you would like to see promoted, subscribe to my email list here, and receive the newsletter with the information on being added.

Friday Fun #4

Introducing My 3 Stooges…

From left to right: Larry, Curly, and Mo.

In June 2017, I adopted these 3 orphans when they were just 2 weeks old. Having been alone for 3 days, they were in rough shape.

After bottle-feeding every 2 hours for a couple of weeks, however, I was in rough shape, but they were beginning to thrive.

These feisty little fur-balls took over my home as well as my heart, but as construction work on my home addition began, it was necessary to keep them confined to certain areas for their own safety.

Keeping them contained proved to be very difficult, especially for Mo, being the little “Houdini” of the bunch. She was always the first to make the great escape, being as nimble as a monkey at climbing everything. Once Mo led the way, Larry and Curly were quick to follow. And they were all fast!

This led me to purchasing a large cat cage, which I furnished with a couple of hammocks, a small cat tree, litter box, and a water bottle. It was their very own little bedroom where they slept at night, and whenever I was not able to supervise them to keep them safe and out of trouble.

As they grew into juveniles, their unique personalities began to emerge. It also became apparent they each had developed little quirks, likely due to losing their mother at such an early age.

Larry Boy…

Larry developed a habit of trying to nurse on everything while cuddling, and would drool continuously. He would try my clothes, hair, whatever he could get his mouth on, even though he was repeatedly denied.

He eventually settled for a couple of stuffed toys for a pacifier. But these alone will not satisfy him. He insists on being held while he is sucking on them, and then he will fall asleep in total contentment.

Larry and his kangaroo

Though Larry is a young adult now, it is not likely that he will ever outgrow this quirky habit. But he is loved just the same.

He is quite goofy by nature, always entertaining me with wild antics that often end in hilarious wipeouts. One of his favorites activities is zooming around the house at top speed for no apparent reason. If only he would learn to look where he’s going…He’s not very graceful for a cat, yet he can appear quite regal when he poses.

Larry’s lion king impersonation

Curly Sue…

Curly is more of a loner, though she does enjoy snuggling and being pet, but only when she wants it. If you try to pet her at other times, she dodges and runs away, then gives disgusted looks as if to say, “How dare you touch me”!

Curly began her nefarious claim to fame as a car thief, stealing small cars from an old toy box. She has since graduated on to bigger and better items, such as bags of powdered sugar or coconut flakes from the kitchen cabinets. And each morning is now a game of “find the slipper” for me, as she always hides one.

Curly’s 1st car heist

Curly is, in my opinion, the toughest of the bunch, as she can take a punch as well as deliver one. She not only holds her own in wrestling with Larry, often times whooping him, but she is also more than willing to take on the advances of an 85 pound German Shepherd. (More than once Frodo has come running into the living room with Curly’s claws attached to his neck while she’s hanging by her teeth from his chin.) She reminds me a bit of a fox…smart, sneaky, and beautiful.

Curly trying to look innocent after playing in the water bowl

Miss Mo-Mo…

Mo may have started life as the weak little runt of the bunch, but her endearing qualities include weaseling her way into whatever nook or cranny she pleases, especially folks hearts.

As a young kitten, Mo developed a fondness for exploring everything, looking for places to hide. One of her favorite places was inside my friend Melissa’s hoodies. Mo would climb up under Melissa’s hoodie and usually pop out from the top. But occasionally she would get lost and take a different path.

Mo always finds a way out

Mo is the bossiest and most demanding of the crew and she knows how to get her way. When she wants my attention, she settles for nothing less than 100%. In order to make sure of this, she plants herself right in my face so that I can’t see anything but her. I’m also not allowed to talk to anyone else during her snuggle time or she will (gently) bite or smack me, then walk away in disdain.

Her version of cuddling is to nestle her body on my chest with her face planted hard against my nose, as she kneads my throat with her paws. This, of course, requires keeping her nails trimmed short to prevent removal of my flesh, which by-the-way is very uncomfortable. While she is contentedly busy punching me in the throat, she also drools profusely, soaking both of us.

Mo rules the roost with her sweet and sassy disposition, yet with just enough humble charm to get away with it.

Now that she’s grown up (and outward, which earned her the nickname “Wide load”), she no longer fits into the small spaces she once did. But she still manages to find suitable places to park herself.

Mo wants to know, “Does this box make me look fat”?

If you enjoyed reading these little introductions to my current clan, you might also like Crazy Critters #1 which is the first book in a series of compilations of short stories about the crazy and often hilarious antics of animals, available on Amazon.

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Well, that’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a lovely and fun-filled weekend! Be sure to subscribe to my email list to receive the monthly newsletter with more exciting news and special offers. You can subscribe by clicking here.

See you next week! – Amber

Pay It Forward Thursday #2

Welcome to Pay-It-Forward Thursday #2!

Today I’d like to share a few organizations that I think deserve a round of applause. The inspiration, generosity, and compassion expressed by these groups are exactly what the whole pay-it-forward movement is about.

They challenge us as individuals to find even small ways to spread goodwill and joy, while giving our own hearts a smile. When we make the little acts of kindness a regular habit, we create a change in the world around us, making it a better place for us all.

So, here are 3 of my favorites:

Mike Rowe and Returning the Favor:

Returning the Favor is a video series hosted by Mike Rowe as he travels the country in search of remarkable people making a difference in their communities. Each episode highlights an individual or group being surprised with a reward for their good deeds, giving back to those who pay it forward with humor, heart and surprise. Because one good turn deserves another.

Returning the Favor Effect is the official Facebook Group where members are encouraged to highlight do-gooders in their own communities, inspire one another and discuss how everyday people can make an impact. This is where folks share the stories of those special individuals in their local area, and may be selected for one of the surprise rewards from Mike and his group.

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP):

Founded in 2002, Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors.

WWP serves to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women; help severely injured service members aid and assist each other; and provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

InspireMore Magazine

Their motto: Making the world a little brighter, one story at a time. The mission of InspireMore Magazine is to make a difference through their articles of positive news and uplifting content, and fostering a desire to be inspired and to inspire others with the goal of making the world a better place.

You can check out their articles and information here.

In addition, a portion of their profit goes to a selected charity each month, another “pay-it-forward” gift.

Starting Over: Building a New Life from Scratch

My son Christian, and his dog Frodo

Starting Over: Building a New Life from Scratch

When you lose it all…

Have you ever heard the saying, “When you hit rock-bottom, there’s no place to go but up”?

Of course, rock-bottom is the loneliest place in the world. It doesn’t matter how many people are around you, even those that love you and want to help, when the suffering is consuming your heart and soul, that is all you know.

It is the deepest, darkest pit of despair, where not even the tiniest spark of life exists, yet your body still has a pulse.

I read something that sums it up pretty well for me personally: “When my child died, I died too. They just forgot to bury me”.

My life ended. For 13 years, everything I did, everything I dreamed of and planned for, everything had included my child. And suddenly, it was all gone.

Yet there I was, still breathing. But for a long time, it was nothing more than a mechanical going-through-the-motions existence. I couldn’t even think of the next 5 minutes, let alone make plans or goals for the future.

Even though I certainly didn’t want to, by the Will and grace of God, I still woke up, and I did whatever needed doing. Somehow, there was something inside of me, pushing me on, if only for the benefit of those around me.

It was like there were 3 separate realms of me. There was the core, which felt dead and empty. But surrounding that core was an awareness of others and a desire to comfort and reassure them. And then, there was the face of me, what others could see. The face that I wore was influenced by the awareness that I did not want to cause more pain, to me or anyone else.

I never expected that a form of healing would begin the following year when I was faced with another death. But in the weeks before my father died, I had an opportunity to give one last act of love, one last gesture to show him I cared. In those precious few weeks, we shared stories and memories, laughter and a few tears, and I will cherish those moments with him.

I learned that my heart was still capable of feeling love, even in spite of the pain and even in the face of more loss. I also found the beginning of a will to live in that love, although I had no idea of what to do with it or where it would lead.

A ray of hope…

As each day passed, I discovered that the only times that I didn’t feel the full effects of sadness and pain where the times when my mind was occupied with doing something to help someone else. So, every day I prayed for opportunities to be helpful.

I found little ways here and there, but for the most part, my family and friends didn’t seem to want to ask me to do anything. And I began to question my value. What did I really have to offer that would be of much use to anyone?

Then one afternoon a friend said something to me when we were sharing a few memories of my son, Christian. She said, “I prefer to think of his death as another chapter in his story, because his story is not over yet. His love is still alive in your heart, and you will continue writing that story for both of you”.

I thought long and hard about those words. I still didn’t really feel much, but there was something stirring, like a little ember just beginning to glow. But it made me think more about my son, his love of life, and how he lived. Christian lived with exuberant joy and a thirst for knowledge, along with a passion for sharing with others. His faith in God was rock solid and inspiring to the many lives he touched in his short years.

I realized that when I remembered those qualities of his, it did fill my heart with life.

Not long after that conversation, I was asked for help with 3 orphaned kittens. Little did I know that they would be helping me as much as I would them.

I already had 2 dogs and 2 cats, so I really wasn’t planning on taking in more. But they were only about 2 weeks old and in bad shape. So, I decided I would foster them until they were old enough to be weaned and adopted.

However, the moment they arrived, and I picked them up out of the box, I knew they were here to stay. And that is how I came to be a “crazy cat lady”. (Although I guess just plain crazy would be more accurate, since there’s dogs, horses, goats, rabbits, a few birds, and others that have been included along the way.)

In spite of the exhaustion from getting up every 2 hours to bottle feed them, I found my heart being filled with a sense of joy and affection, along with great satisfaction and purpose. It felt good to be needed. But it felt even better to be able to help them, to see them grow and thrive, to make a difference!

A new beginning…

One question continuously haunted me. “What am I supposed to do with my life now”? Every time I thought about it, the only answer I found was, “Write”. So, I did, although I never shared much of it.

Wanting to encourage and inspire other people, to help them find hope and fulfillment, and to grow and thrive, like those kittens, has always been a part of who I am.

I found the means to do that through writing.

I’ve shared entertaining stories that made people laugh and lifted spirits in joy. I’ve also written material to share knowledge and insight to help others grow in their writing.

But the greatest satisfaction for me personally, is when I open my heart and it touches another heart, making that connection that encourages and gives hope to someone else. That is what really drives me.

Over the past 18 months, a more clearly defined picture evolved in my heart, igniting an enthusiasm in me that I didn’t think I would ever feel again.

The struggles and despair that have been endured, and the trials that have been overcome, they have not been of my own doing. It is only by the grace and Will of God that I am still here today.

But I am still here, still standing. My old life is gone, but I am creating and building a new life, a new beginning.

In all honesty, it was hard to write this post today because it exposes the raw scars of my heart. But I know that keeping it hidden also keeps it from having any purpose or life. And it prevents those precious connections from being made, which is the main reason I am here.

I once heard Tony Robbins say, “Decisions shape destiny”. I’ve also heard it said, “God uses broken people like you and me, to help broken people like you and me”. I decided that I want to help other people.

There are many hurting hearts in this world, and mine is one. But it’s still beating, just like yours. And it has meaning and a purpose. It has a story to share.

I don’t have the audacity to say, “If I can do it, you can do it”, because, well, I’m not you and I don’t even know your story.

Instead, I’m going to ask you 2 questions:

What is your heart’s greatest desire? And what would it take to help you to achieve it?

Just one last thought for today…your story may be the answer to someone’s prayer, but they’ll never receive it if you don’t share.

Until tomorrow, much love and peace.  – Amber

Why Settle for Good Enough When You Can Be Awesome?

Do it right, and do your best…

There was a rule in our house when I was growing up: School work and chores had to be done before any play. This included Saturdays.

As a teenager, I began getting in the habit of hurrying through my work in order to leave sooner to hang out with my friends.

There was a certain standard set of what was acceptable and what was not, and my habit of rushing through everything had put my standard in the unacceptable range.

Being the wise mother that she was, my mom decided to teach me the importance of doing your best.

One of my regular Saturday chores was to clean the bathrooms. I didn’t really care for chores in general, but cleaning the bathrooms was my least favorite on the list.

As I hurried through the cleaning, sloshing some soapy water here and there, my mind was on the activity planned with my friends that day, who were already waiting for me outside. I finished the cleaning in record time and retreated to my bedroom to grab my gear.

Just as I was coming out of my room, my mom appeared and said, “Come with me”. I knew I was in trouble as we headed for the hallway bathroom, where she began to point out the streaks on the mirror and the remnants of the dirty ring around the bathtub. She also informed me that there were mistakes made in the other bathroom as well, but didn’t say what specifically.

Again, I hurried to finish, feeling even more impatient to get outside. And I honestly felt that I had done a good enough job to pass inspection. But I was wrong.

On the 2nd inspection, my mom pointed out some streaks on the shower walls and dust on the light bar over the mirror in the hallway bathroom, things she did not point out the first time. And again, she said there were mistakes in the other bathroom.

I cleaned what she had pointed out, but in the 2nd room, I didn’t see anything dirty.

The third time around, I made sure that I got all the streaks and dust, and finally discovered the dirt and hair in the crevices on the side of the toilet in the other bathroom and the dust in the vent cover. (Just minor things, I thought, but it was the only dirt I could find. As it turned out, that was it.)

One thing I didn’t realize was that my mom was keeping track of the time. After doing this same chore thousands of times, she knew exactly how long it should take to do the job well.

By the time I finished the 3rd attempt, I received a “very good job”, along with, “If you would have given your best the 1st time, you would have been done 45 minutes ago. Don’t ever settle for good enough. Always give your best“.

Pay attention to the little details…

Just as the picture above illustrates, the little details are important. If you don’t pay attention to them, it will show in your results, probably in unpleasant or even embarrassing ways.

Even though I never developed a love for cleaning, the lesson I learned that Saturday developed into a habit in everything I do now. Though my mom is no longer here to inspect my cleaning, I still give my best effort when I do it.

Whatever the task is…cleaning toilets, waiting on customers, shoveling manure, or writing, I always set my mind to doing an excellent job.

From an employer or client perspective, the attention to detail and effort says a lot about a person’s character. It shows integrity and a willingness to go above and beyond the normal standards.

Imagine if you were told you needed brain surgery and you had a choice between 2 surgeons. The first one graduated Med School with a “C” average and had an attitude of “I’m just doing it for the money”. The second surgeon graduated with an “A”, with honors, and had the attitude, “I want to do the best I can to help people”. Which one would you choose?

In his book Leading an Inspired Life Jim Rohn says, “Building your character is vital to becoming all you can be”.

Your character not only defines your reputation in your profession, but in your personal daily life as well.

4 key elements of committing yourself to excellence:

  • Do, be, and give more than is expected of you.
  • If you make a mistake: admit it, learn from it, and put your heart into doing better.
  • Be better today than you were yesterday.
  • Don’t settle for good enough. Live and work for awesome.

Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with EXCELLENCE.

No matter what the task is, give your best. As you go through life, continue to learn, practice, and grow. Live each day to be the best you possible.

I’d love to hear your experiences, things that you’ve learned that helped you along the way! So, please…share away in the replies!

Well, I hope to see you awesome folks tomorrow. Until then, have a Terrific Tuesday! – Amber

Remembering the Fallen

In remembrance…

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a day of remembering our Fallen Heroes.

While I hate the bloodiness of war and the loss that occurs, I have learned that there are those things that are worth fighting for and dying to defend.

Declaration of Independence: “…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”…

Constitution: (Preamble) “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”.

To each soldier that made the ultimate sacrifice, your precious life, I wish I could shake your hand and say “THANK YOU”!

Because of you, I enjoy the right to live in freedom, to work for and pursue the life I choose, as does each citizen of these United States.

To keep, to honor, to guard and protect this FREEDOM…your fight is now over. For others, it is just beginning. May they be so brave.

To our Fallen Heroes, THANK YOU! YOU WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN!

The price of FREEDOM is very high, indeed. But the cost of losing it is far greater.

Celebrate their sacrifice, and remember. – Amber

Friday Fun #3 – Pretty

Meet Pretty Kitty Little Bits…

(or Pretty for short)

Pretty adopted me in 2009. She showed up in the middle of the night, crying, starving, and terrified. But with a lot of patience and 3 cans of cat food (stolen from Coal’s stash), she finally agreed to come inside to take over Queenship of the cabin.

Timid by nature, Pretty spends a lot of time hiding. But after 3 years, she began to grow in confidence…and around the mid-section too.

She’s not particularly fond of other animals, but usually avoids confrontations by running away or seeking my protection. If cornered, she will growl and hiss, even offer a gentle swat at times, but she is just too sweet to fight.

A little too intelligent…

As with most cats, Pretty is not concerned with following rules. She mainly does as she pleases, but on the rare occasion when she gets in trouble, she gripes at me in her old lady tone, clearing telling me I should mind my own business.

Her disposition is that of a snooty little princess with just enough sweet innocence to get her way, most of the time. Especially when she smiles at me.

She has a knack for opening doors, and loves making nests in my kitchen cabinets. I finally installed latches after she went through all of my boxed goods, taste-testing everything. Apparently, she likes dried egg noodles…a lot! I found 1 bag completely empty, and another one she had been snacking on. But who doesn’t like pasta, right? Although I prefer mine cooked.

Pretty is also very sneaky and has a talent for stealing. At mealtimes (for the humans) when we say grace, we do it with our eyes open or we cover our plates, as Pretty will not hesitate to help herself to whatever she can grab. Like me, she has a sweet tooth and cannot resist chocolate, so we’re both on diets now.

One year at Christmas time, my son Christian and I built a gingerbread train, complete with a little caboose filled with M&M’s. The next morning, I noticed some of the icing had been scraped off. As I was questioning Christian about it, we heard a noise and turned to see Pretty scooping out the M&M’s and eating them. She also had icing stuck all over her whiskers.

She’s also athletic…(sometimes)

Pretty is also a high-minded cat, meaning she loves to climb up the outside walls and get up on the roof. Even though she is a small cat, she still sounds like a buffalo running around up there. Her way of getting down is sliding down the support post on the front porch, like a little fireman, but with claws, so she gets stuck sometimes. The first few times I rescued her, she dug her claws into me from fear. But eventually she learned to trust me, so I’m no longer used as a pin cushion.

As you can see in the video, Pretty likes to play in water. She won’t go outside when it’s raining, but she’ll play in the fountain all day long. She also thought of it as her personal water bowl, and drained it dry a few times. I’ve since moved it, as I wasn’t fond of getting sprinkled as she slapped the water stream.

One of Pretty’s favorite places is on the chair in front of the woodstove, where she waits patiently each morning in the winter. Once the fire is going, she begins rolling around from side to side on the chair, perfectly content and cozy. Unless she sees a squirrel or a bird outside. Then she sits in the window chattering like a chipmunk, with what I suspect is a barrage of threats describing what she would like to do to them.

All in all, Pretty is a sweetheart, liking nothing more than to snuggle up in comfort, while being hand-fed bon-bons. I’m thankful to be included in her clan (enslaved).

Well, Pretty just broke into the office, telling me it’s time to give her a food offering. I’ll be back next week with more of the cat clan.

Until then, enjoy your weekend! – Amber

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