The Day My Own Blog Post Inspired Me

rememberingSeven months ago our world was turned upside-down when our only grandprincess unexpectedly passed away. Our family began living the worst nightmare ever. Not sure how to walk through life with such a devastating loss, we sought out resources and inspirations from any place that made sense. Some worked, and some did not. But the most complete, appropriate resources came through my Faith in God and the written, human, and inexplainable resources He guided our way.

Even with that, I retreated in many ways trying to shield myself from life’s rain. Over this Christmas weekend I needed even more inspiration and God reminded me of this blog that I created 5-1/2 years ago. Umbrella Inspirations was created just a few months before Alanna was born–exactly 5 years before her death “to provide protection from life’s rain.” Little did I know when I typed the first blog post that a thunderstorm would come our way.

What stuck with me the most was when I ran across my blog post called, Life’s Lemonade. I’m not sure what was going on in my life to make me post that then, but I had to read it. It was VERY difficult to read, but making it to the end of the post is where I was inspired from my own post. (You’ll have to read it to see why). Even though today my understanding of lemons and making lemonade out of them is far more complex than it was 5 years ago, I appreciate the level of wisdom I had at the time that would help carry me through this difficult time. I especially appreciate the hope that my Faith in God has provided me on this journey.

As a published author of a self-help book, Purses, Pearls, and Pumps: Straight Talk About Women and Finances, I am a lot more confident in contributing to blogs. Perhaps through this painful journey I will reawaken my writing ability and contribution to the world by actively helping others (and myself) in ways I could never have imagined when I started this blog in 2011.

I pray you join me, contribute, share and invite others. We all need protection from the rain.

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July 4th’s Double Meaning

Since 1989, July 4th has been bittersweet for me. On one hand we celebrate our country’s independence and remember the men and women who fought and died so we might live free in this great country. I am truly grateful for that! In fact, my own father, Calvin Carlos McClain served in an Army infantry during World War II in Germany. He served proudly! He often talked about his experience in the war and what it meant for him, our family and this country at a time when even our Army was segregated. So the Fourth of July holiday became a joyous time for him. He loved to make his way around the city of Milwaukee to family and friends’ celebrations, and he was known to be the life of the party. He shared war stories and the family talked about the legacy of our country and the contributions our family members had made in building it as the superpower it has become.

Ironically, we know that the morning of July 4, 1989 was the last time my father was seen alive. We held this funeral about a week later not having known of his passing for a couple of days. Ever since then, the July 4th celebration has been my least favorite time of year.  Not because I don’t appreciate the sacrifices and celebration of our country’s independence, but because of the grief that surrounds this day for anyone who knew him–even more than two decades later. To compound the feelings of grief, my mother passed away on July 3 in the 2007.

I don’t know why, but today my outlook is quite different. Granted, it has been a tough week as I learn how to master remembering my parents’ legacy while accepting losing them. I’m really glad that this year has not been as tough as in years past. I actually look forward to this Fourth of July and I imagine that I’ll look forward to future Independence Day celebrations. I think it has to do with my dad’s spirit. He would certainly be joyous today, and in addition he would want me and my siblings to be happy, and to celebrate what he fought for—the freedom to be and do whatever we please.

This day will have a double meaning for me every year. No doubt I gravely miss my father and my mother. But I resolve that the Fourth of July will forever be a day of celebration and thankfulness for the men and women (including my father) who fought for this country and contributed to it’s legacy and my freedom to celebrate its independence!

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10 Things I Admire About My Husband

After knowing him for almost 18 years and celebrating 14 years of marriage on June 20th, I can become comfortable just knowing that my husband is there. Every now and then, I step back and watch him—realizing how much I admire him. Admiration is different from love. One definition of admire is to “regard [a person] with respect or warm approval” Here are 10 of the things I admire about Bradley.

10. He doesn’t give up (and won’t let me)
9. He listens to me
8. He loves his family
7. He seeks more (knowledge, understanding, wisdom, etc.)
6. He is supportive
5. He knows his limits and pushes them
4. He’s not easily fooled
3. He’s honest
2. He is kind
#1. He loves God!

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Papi’s Not-So-Cheesy Praise

Something magical happened when we become grandparents! I can’t explain it; but, life becomes better when those little repeats of our own children grace our presence.

Over the last week, I had the pleasure of the company of my grandson, Bryce (Papi to me) for a few days. At 2-1/2 he’s very smart and churns out sentences in his squeaky little voice like he’s been on earth before. While his appetite is not fully deveolped to love all foods all the time, there are a few items that have remain his favorites–peanut butter, bananas, oatmeal, chocolate milk, and cheese.

I buy sharp cheddar cheese in blocks and cut it into little toddler hand- and mouth-sized chunks so he thinks he’s getting more than if it were one slice of American cheese. Clever of me I know. Well, his tummy knows the difference.

As a parent, mentor, wife, and through other roles I recognize how important it is to give and receive praise. I have to admit that I have been deficient in doing so. Praise can confirm, uplift, answer questions one might ponder, fill a void, spark courage, ignite an idea, and so many other positive outcomes. Praise is something we all could use on any given day. It could be the unexpected answer that someone seeks. An offer of praise can be what someone remembers about us the most because they knew it was genuine. Praise should be offered as much as possible.

Just yesterday, Papi asked me if he could “have some cheese, please BeBe?” To which I affirmed his request. I made my way to the frig, toddler one step behind skipping as if he had won a prize. I retrieved the block of cheese, then went to get a knife. I began to cut the first slice, then the second, then the third, cutting them into small chunks. Next, I hear the skipping turn into jumping and hear “You do good, BeBe, you do good,” Oh, the power of unexpected, heartfelt praise! At that moment I felt as if I could conquer the world. Share some praise this week–on purpose.

Responsive questions
When was the last time you received praise, from whom, and how did you feel?
From whom do you wish you would or would have receive(d) praise from?
To whom should you offer praise? Why?

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Don’t Kill ‘Em With Kindness

When we perceive that someone treats us unfairly or perhaps they are downright mean to us, we struggle with what to do about it. We could avoid them, but what if we work with the person? What if s/he is our supervisor or coworker in the next cubicle? We’ve all heard the term “Kill’em with kindness.” Having tried that strategy, I know for myself that the immediate reaction can be an inflamation of the situation. The truth, perhaps, is that our acts of kindness help us more than they help someone else. In addition, what if we gave that same kindness to the ones we love and who love us.? This week, let’s purpose in our hearts to speak kindly to our loved ones–no yelling, rolling of eyes, tsk-tsk sounds. Instead tell your children how great they are (even the babies); say to your spouse how important s/he is to you; call your mom and/or dad and just say “I love you” or “thank you for your contribution to my life.” This type of kindness will not kill them, but the positive energy you exude will lengthen the time you have them in your life. -bmv

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Friendly Words

Happy Wednesday!

A friend said recently, “I’ve learned to disregard the negative people, the hypocrisy, and politics of this [my] industry, and instead pave my own road, staying focused and learning more each day while working on my craft. The road is longer, but the end results are much greater.” -Bobby

These words are loaded with lots of things including wisdom and desire to be one’s best. I remember when I learned this and part of my purpose for this blog is to inspire others to come to this revelation or share how and when they came to understand this sentiment. I can certainly see how living by these words can incite happYness for your day.

Does this quote resonate within or speak to you? -bmv

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Taking Flight

Happy Tuesday!

Before take-off, foul of the air have to contemplate a number of things. They have to first determine where they are going and if they have a landing place that is appropriate. They also have to decide if the conditions are favorable for travel and if there will be food along the way. Unless in the nest, wherever they are on their journey, they do not remain still. They have a distinct purpose for each moment, day, week, month and year.

On our journey we are wise to be just like birds constantly contemplating who, what, where, when, why and how to make life work for us so that we can be our best for life and this world. I am a firm believer that we have the opportunity and the responsibility to make today count. By making it count we can find reasons for happiness either within ourselves or in those with whom we come in contact.

Now is our chance to take flight. Where will you go and what will you do? (forward-thinking, goal setting, planning) What are the conditions and what will you need along the way? (prepare financially, physically, etc.) When you are stuck, remember the bird that does not remain idle for long. – bmv

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