Archive for Family

Alisa Murray’s Living the Sweet Life | Expressing Gratefulness | April 2017

April Sweet Life 2017

Expressing Gratefulness

Lent comes each year and I spend those weeks, as so many of us do, fasting from some things that I like coupled with reflecting on my life; contemplating what I can improve both spiritually and physically. After all of that time in a reflective state, my mind looks joyfully towards a time to celebrate with friends and family. Friends and family are never far from my mind as each day I try more and more to let those that I love know what they mean to me. Call it getting older, becoming more aware of my own mortality or just getting old with age and becoming more nice… having a strong sense of gratitude and being capable of showing it is a sign of maturity that I quite like actually.

I wear a leather cuff almost everyday that says simply “Be Grateful.” I came across it in a little boutique and many of my friends have commented that they liked it. I wear it to continuously remind me to be mindful and aware of what it is that I do have and not to dwell on the things that I do not. Sometimes this works and other times when things are just not clicking in the directions I want them to be going I look down at that leather cuff and want to stomp my foot and pull it off! That little voice though in my crazy head stops me and after a few deep breaths and in just a few days or even an hour or so of just being ornery I come back around. We all, you see, should wear an invisible bracelet reminding us to be grateful!

There are several ways that I have found to express gratitude, some are easier to do than others of course, but we all should implement them into our lives so that we are enriched and reminded form time to time of what we all do have. Lives well lived are with rich relationships and not “stuff!” Firstly, each week I make it a point to write a thank you note. It might be for a lovely towel that is brought in a hostess welcome or for an unexpected gift from an old dear friend. It might be for a loving spouse that decided to make tea and breakfast and let a certain someone you know sleep in a few extra hours! Either way I write them and truthfully I write them as much for me as I do for the recipients!

I feel another way to show someone gratitude for them being in your life is to give meaningful gifts.. you know stuff that you know suits that person, not a generic whatever that you randomly picked up! When the holidays came last year we were visiting family after having not been at Christmas in over 19 years! The family members wanted to draw names and then proceeded to tell all of us to buy each other gift cards, which was a fairly stupid idea if you had asked me. I ended up not only buying them a gift card, because they is what they asked for, but I had made for each of them a monogramed leather clutch. That way each of them had something personalized and lasting from just us. That is truly being thoughtful, and shows that you are mindful of their likes and have taken the time, which by the way is also very valuable, to go out of your way to make sure a gift selected for them is actually for just them!

Another way that I show my clients, who are my friends, that I appreciate them is through hugging them. Touch is the first sense we acquire and it is an important act that builds relationships. Listening to a friend without casting opinion, being the first to say your are sorry, and offering to help with a project or a new move or with shopping…all of these are small ways we can show gratitude towards others.

Whether you are randomly smiling at a stranger, writing a letter of thanks or hugging an old friend; all of these acts are a display of being grateful. Gratitude is something that is taught and learned and as we age; it is more valued in our relationships. It is a symbol for me of graciousness that I am proud to be well versed in. The best part about having gratitude is that it is two-fold. The more we show others how much we care and appreciate them; the more thankful we become of our own lives and the less we long for more “stuff!”
Take Care of YOU!
🙂

Alisa Murray’s Sweet Life : Sweet Thought for Today | #alisamurray

Mindfulness

“When we plant the seed of a question or a problem in our consciousness, we need to trust that an insight will rise to the surface.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

Alisa Murray’s Living the Sweet Life | #love | February 2017

Who do you love? When you think about your life do you have a clear understanding of the role that love plays for you? I know that I do. Love is the theme of this month’s issue and me and my Valentine are your cover. Inside that story is a tale of a great love for each other, for our children and of what we do. Once I heard a sermon that Bishop spoke and he said that in the end that was all we would have. The love from others we had touched along the way. Nothing else matters. I understand that lesson.

Love is probably the one thing we all need. Many artists have sung about it, I’d venture to state that all artists have had a muse that inspired them to create. We hear their songs and whether it be lamenting on lost love or of profound joy of love at last, all of us in every language can relate. Love is universal.

The Bible tells us many truths and states states quite clearly about Love. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8New International Version (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. Yep, pretty clear to me.

In the many years that I have been on earth I have learned the greatest thing we can all do for one another is to love. It is difficult to do when things are not going the way we had hoped. Harder still when tragedy strikes and leaves us left with many wonderings of why. In the end though if you keep love in your heart and seek to find peace you will find exactly that. God has His way with things.

Being in love is different from having love and it’s important to know that there’s a need in all of our hearts for both. For the better part of 29 years I have been in love with Brian. We have grown in love through joys, strife…in sickness and in health…while grieving and through unexplainable joys and successes. We have lost two babies, and have been raising two, plus one brand new son in law! We have enjoyed each other fully through the years and been a helpmate as we have lost parents, grandparents, friends and family.

For the better part of 19 years we have loved what our talents have allowed us to bring by the way of joy and happiness to so many families. While oftentimes we capture the falling in love of new parents as they welcome and cherish their babies…an off spring of what their union in love has brought forth, we also capture the twinkles in the eyes of proud grandparents and the simple purest love of a dog and his person. You might say we are to a certain extinct in the “love” business.

#love was the number one used handler for 2016. It made me smile when I heard that because it signified for me that the world, despite all of our differences still “gets” it. I love the fact that love will always prevail in all circumstances. That should make everybody smile too!

Make your life filled with love each day of the year. Love what you do, who you are around and give thanks for each of the people in your life that you get to touch.
Happy Valentine’s!

Living the Sweet Life | September 2016 | Love Rules and Hate Drools

 

IMG_8131This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine. Oh! This little light of mine…I’m gonna let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine! Those words are words to live by folks. In the wake of all sorts of craziness that should not even be happening in our civilized society I have one thing to say to each and to all of you and it matters not what your race, religion, ethnicity or sexual preferences might be. It’s real simple. Learn to Love.

Love is about sharing and caring and being patient and not judging. Love is about helping and showing tenderness and feeling attachment. Love is about concern and sympathy and humanity and yearning. Love is about benevolence and affection and appreciation and fondness. When we love each other there is nothing else. There is no space nor place for HATE.

It is high time that we all come together to let that little itty bit of our population come to understand that we as a whole are not made up of hate. We do not live our lives radically, plotting and planning to hurt our fellowman. Most of us…in fact all of my friends and their friends actually feel the same. We all love and want to live and let live. There’s the one or two feel good stories that hit our TV sets and news feeds and that one little feel good has a real hard time competing with all the hate. But folks the reality is the world as a whole isn’t full of hate. It’s like Nana used to say “Don’t let one bad apple spoil the whole bushel.” Which is precisely what needs to be screamed and blasted into our lives and covered in our media. LOVE RULES…HATE DROOLS.

It can be daunting to stand out. It can be scary to post on Facebook. It can be uncomfortable to say something nice when it is so easy to feel angry. I mainly feel disappointment in what has been done, what has been said and in some cases the lack there of. Shame on all of us as a collective whole. We are better than this and are capable of so much more and if for no other reason let me just remind you that the children are watching. They are taking notes. They are paying attention… and the seeds of hate are sown at the dinner table and can not be untaught.

So I think we all need to take a deep breath and roll up our sleeves and shine our lights. If like Granny said “You can’t find anything nice to say then say nothing at all.” But try… you have the light… you just turn it on. Shine them loud and shine them proud and make the world light up with LOVE. It’s a simple thing to do and truthfully most of us do it anyway everyday, and all the time. WE JUST HAVE TO DO IT SO MUCH MORE! Show love to the old man at the grocery store who is dressed different from you. Open the door for the veteran who has come back a changed person forever because he loved you. He loved this country and decided it would be worth it to risk never feeling pure again to continue to retain the freedom of which we all enjoy. Stop a police officer instead of him stopping you and just say thank you. Find a teen that needs a mentor and provide some sound advice about life. Caring for each other as we are supposed to do in a sea of love leaves little room for hate and that is the world we should be living in. I know we can do it!

Take care of YOU!

Living the Sweet Life: August 2016 Coming Home….

IMG_9180Many of you are packing up your teenagers and heading to the universities this month. This will be their new home as they embark on their adventures and begin a new chapter both for their lives but for those off us as parents. I remember such an occasion on a crisp fall day in August in 1987 when I left home for the first time and moved into the all girls dorm at St. Mary’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Daddy’s hugs and what he called my “Big Crocodile Tears” were a part of that day too and at the same time I was excited …I was all grown up….and I was scared to death! My last year of high school would be finished there as would my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. My grandparents were very worried that if I got exposed to a different religion that I would convert over to it. And as funny as that sounds….those Baptists are very particular about how they view other religions. St. Mary’s is an Episcopal all girls school that is relatively exclusive being that it’s private and still today as it was in 1987… the only existing Episcopal all girls boarding school still left in this country. It was converted during the civil war into a hospital for the soldiers and we would find confederate money in her walls during several construction sites during my three years attending.

I loved St. Mary’s and with most things that I love I fall deeply into them. The heart of St.Mary’s was chapel which we attended twice a day and then a Vespers service Wednesday evenings and on Sunday’s if you were not away visiting family. It was at St. Mary’s that I learned Latin, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales and became the leading art student in the entire school. SCAD courted me as a result of my art and eventually I went there to continue my studies in Painting, Art History and Interior Design. It was also where I became as my grandparents feared…an Episcopalian.

I have always been very active in the church attending choir and all youth activities. I quickly became a Vestry member before graduating high school and by my sophomore year in college I was made Senior Warden. I remember the very first night after all the parents had gone and we were attending our first service and going over what it means to be a St. Mary’s girl. I remember accidentally saying the “Holy Ghost” and my new roommate glanced over at me and gave me the “look.” I also distinctly remember waiting for something terrible to happen, like for me to spontaneously combust when they passed the Blood and Body of Christ I discovered it was not grape juice but actual wine that they we’re serving!

Many years have passed since I graduated from St. Mary’s and many churches along the way Brian and I attended in both Savannah and in Houston. None were what I felt at St. Mary’s until we found St. Catherine’s. And even St. Catherine’s magic didn’t happen until Father Mike became the priest. We went and we left and we went and we left and then Father Mike came and we go as much as my shooting schedule will allow us to. So after having raised my babies in an Episcopal church I had never actually left the title of my Baptist faith and converted over officially to that of being an Episcopalian. James Edward and I attended the classes and as he discovered the nuances of the faith I felt a sense of peace at having finally found and finished what I had meant to so many years before. It was like coming home.

On a warm yummy day last month James Edward and I became officially Episcopalians. During Bishop’s sermon he mentioned something that I think will stick with Jamesy hopefully for as long as he lives. It’s a message of understanding our place here while on earth is of the walking dead. We are all here doing hopefully what God’s plan and purpose is for our lives but we are not fully living. It is when we live in heaven and are a part of the larger Body of Christ that we are risen and are fully alive. Love is the only thing we must do and Love is most imperative in our lost world full of so much hate and discord.
Thanks be to GOD!
~A