Monthly Archives: November 2012

Tis the Season… to Cherish Family

I know it seems somewhat cliche’ to start talking about the importance of family when the holidays start rolling around, but that’s exactly what is on my mind.

Not only are Thanksgiving, Christmas and then New Years going on during this time of year, but my mom, my sis, and my dad also have their birthdays around this time too, so there has always been even more family togetherness going on during the holidays for me.

It will greatly embarrass my mom for me to blow the whistle on our ‘perfect family’ cover by leaking out this top secret information… but I must admit my little family is a bit damaged and broken at best.  I suppose this just very well may be the case for most families these days considering society, the world at large, and human nature being what they are.  But we always try to cover it up to appear ‘normal’ (whatever that is).  Maybe I should be a more private person and not air all of my dirty laundry out in public for all the world to see, but I’ve never been one for trying to portray an ‘image.’  What is the use in that?  In order to connect on any real level with others out there in the world, you need to be real.  I do however, need to be respectful of my family’s privacy and be careful not to share all of their dirty little secrets while I’m sharing my own.  😉

Not that we really have any of those, it’s not like we have a mass murderer in the family that we are trying to hide (of course I’d say this even if we did though wouldn’t I? ;)).  But even despite our bit of dysfunction, there is tons and tons of love here and I wouldn’t want any other people as my family other than this crazy lot I’ve been thrown in with.

But all joking aside, I suppose that apart from all the birthdays and the holidays going on, the reason family is so much on my mind is because I am realizing more and more every day just how very fragile and precious life is, and our dear families and loved ones are at the very heart of it all.  My aunt passed away a few days ago (on my mom’s birthday) and although I wasn’t particularly close with her, she was my family and I loved her, my heart is breaking for my cousins and my uncle right now.  In having my dad pass away just a year ago this past June, that sense of loss is still very much a fresh wound for me too.  It would have been his 84th birthday next week.  Gosh I miss him.  We really do need to cherish the time we have with our precious families because they could be taken away from us in an instant.

My mom can really get under my skin like no other, and can frustrate the ever lovin’ crap outta me.  But that being said, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love her, how truly grateful I am to have her as my mom (mistakes in raising me and all), how very much I appreciate everything she is and has done for me, and… how utterly lost I would be without her.

Try and cherish your family no matter what your family situation is.  I’m sure there are likely many families out there who are in very difficult circumstances. Sadly, my own brother is estranged from our family at the moment, but in the meantime I will still love him from afar, pray for him, and hope that one day things will be better.  And I will cherish the other precious ones in my family that I still do have…

Here’s my “bunch of crazies”  😉

and my crazy offspring, the most precious thing in this world to me…


Happy Birthday Mom!

In honor of my Mom’s birthday today, I thought I would reblog this post that I wrote about her for Mother’s Day. Love you mom! ♥

Ramblings From Jewels

“My mom can beat up your mom” ~ a common phrase I remember from my childhood.  I’m not sure that I ever actually used it myself, but for some reason it came to mind today.  Maybe because I think my mom is the best!  ♥


When my mom turned 70, I gathered together an ENORMOUS collection of photographs from her life and scanned them all into a computer file to preserve them.

As her birthday gift, I put them all into chronological order (as best as I could) and used them to make a DVD slideshow documenting her life through the years.  I also used some very cool scrapbooking software to make a scrapbook and then printed it all up and put it into a handcrafted photo album for her.  It was a modern technology meets an old fashioned look at it’s finest.  And it was a LOT of…

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Black Friday

Ew it’s Black Friday.  Absolutely NOTHING could drag me out to the stores today, there is nothing I want or need bad enough, no sale good enough, that could make me subject myself to the torture of this shopping day.  Well, maybe if I needed toilet paper, but that would be about it.  😉  My daughter went out shopping one year for Black Friday with a friend of hers and basically had her life threatened over a parking space.  Yikes!  I know right?!

Sometimes I feel like I am the only woman on the planet who hates shopping, but I really do.  And I don’t really understand the whole fascination with shoes thing either.  Purses maybe (I love a cute purse), but shoes?  So confining, I’d rather go barefoot.

I do like giving though, but it has to be a meaningful gift.  The price is irrelevant, I’d spend $500 just as easily as $5, as long as it’s something special and was within my means.  I like having an excuse to give such as Christmas, a birthday or other special occasion, but the ones that are for no reason are what really tickle my fancy.  I have always loved Christmas, and I won’t propose to tell anyone what the season is about because it’s different for everyone, but I hate all of the commercialism and hype that surrounds the holidays, and if you read my last post you know I especially hate television commercials and all of the garbage that goes along with them.  Something indeed is seriously messed up there.

That being said, hey, if you happen to be one of those women who likes shopping today, no judgement here, by all means knock yourself out, enjoy the thrill of the hunt, have fun, hope you score some great items for you and yours, but please do try and keep things in perspective and mind your manners not to trample anyone along the way.  😉

Count me out, I’ll be at home eating leftovers…

Ah Roller Coasters

You know, I’ve never been much of a fan of roller coasters.  I mean, I like excitement as much as the next person, but I have just never really enjoyed the type of ride that you get from a roller coaster.  All the ups and downs and being jerked around.  And I don’t much like it in my emotional life either.

The other day after watching a memorable home movie, I was struck with how very much I want to treasure each and every moment of my life, realizing that time is precious and wanting to make the most of it ~ especially reflecting on the fact that right now is really all we’ve got.  So it’s interesting to me that basically the very next day I found myself wanting to dull my mind and completely “check out.”  I won’t go into the details for the reason why I was wanting to check out, but basically sometimes I simply don’t know what to do with my troubled thoughts and I just want them to shut up for a while until I feel like dealing with them.  There are several different things I use as a type of escape during times like that, but this time I chose to spend hours on end watching TV.  Now typically I don’t really watch a lot of TV, but I do enjoy watching certain television programs, series, documentaries and movies, but ordinarily I prerecord them so I am able to fast forward through the commercials.  I despise commercials with venomous hatred.  But on this particular occasion I was flipping through the channels and then stopping to watch various things that were of interest to me, so it was live TV and I wasn’t able to skip through the commercials.  Well, the last thing you want to deal with when you’re already feeling low about things in your life is to be bombarded with images being thrown at you that only validate the meaninglessness and emptiness of your present existence.  Haha I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but such is this emotional roller coaster of life that we sometimes must ride.

In commercials we have these fake people, in fake scenarios, portraying fake lifestyles, promoting material objects, products and services that promise you that the obtaining of these things will bring you all of the happiness and sense of success and fulfillment that you long for in life, and you deserve it.  If you eat this food or use this product, you will look like this, if you buy this item for your loved one for Christmas, that will be the thing that really shows your love and bring peace in your home, if you buy this car, that will show how successful you really are, oh and it’s got better mileage so you financial situation will improve too.  Blah, blah, blah, and on it goes.  Yeah, right, okay.  I’m not buying into it.  But at the same time, if I’m being honest, it still messes with my head a bit.  All these advertisements do is promote and create a sense of discontent with life.  In nearly every area, depending on the thing that is being advertised.  It’s infuriating!

And all I wanted to do was watch TV and escape for a while.  Ugh.

Then the following day, still feeling tender about my uselessness as a human being, I go out to drive my mom to a doctor appointment.  I decided to wait out in the car, listen to music, enjoy the nice weather, just try and forget about the things that are bothering me, and what happens?  All those thoughts and feelings I was trying to avoid, come crashing in and before I know it I’m in tears.  I sit there a while crying and then gradually I begin to pull myself together.  Then I start noticing the people coming and going from the clinic.  Sick and ill, I can see the pain etched in their faces and I begin wondering again about what is this life for?  What have these dear souls got going on in their lives?  I can feel their suffering and I start crying again, but this time for them.  Wondering what can I do?  Thinking ‘we’re doing it wrong, life isn’t supposed to be this way.’  I suddenly had this sense of awareness of how we’re all being fooled somehow about what we’re really here for.  I always over spiritualize everything so my rational side said “Calm down, you’re just being weird again.”  And then a song came on the radio that I was just thinking about, it’s one that often comes to mind when I’m in a busy, crowded place or sitting in traffic and I begin thinking about all the people around me, feeling that sense of how we’re all connected, but we’re all so caught up in our own lives to even notice one another.  Listening to it made me feel like Someone up there was hearing my thoughts and encouraging me that I wasn’t just being weird.  Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath

Then I look up just as a woman falls to the ground in the middle of the parking lot.  Without a second thought I get out of the car and rush over to her, she’s hurt.  And she’s embarrassed.  My heart broke and I felt helpless to comfort her.  I told her to just give herself a minute and not to feel in a rush to try and get up, then I asked her if she thought she may need medical attention and she said she didn’t know yet.  She began to cry and I cried with her.  It’s amazing the amount of love and compassion that was overwhelming me at that moment, I literally wanted to take her in my arms, but feeling awkward I just stood there next to her and let her sit there on the ground and work it out.  A couple came walking out of the clinic and asked if she needed assistance, she still said she didn’t know, but I could feel her growing embarrassment at drawing attention to herself.  She eventually got up and seemed to be alright.  I felt as if there was something more I should have done for her, but she quickly dismissed me and hurried off to her car.  I went back to my own car and cried some more and prayed for her.

Shortly after that my mom came out and wanted to fill me in on what had happened at her appointment, so I tried to shift my attention to her, but it was difficult.  After we got home I spent the rest of the afternoon out on the patio, back to contemplating my own personal situation, but still finding no resolve.  That evening I chose once again to try and numb myself with the TV, but this time it was prerecorded stuff so thankfully at least I was able to skip through the stupid commercials.  I stayed up late watching into the night until I was so tired that I knew I would fall right to sleep when my head hit the pillow, no sense in laying there “thinking,” but my sleep was fitful and I awoke not feeling rested at all.

As I write this, I have been secluded in my room all day, forcing myself to deal with and try and resolve these things that are currently troubling me so.  It’s well into the afternoon and I haven’t even had anything to eat yet today.  I suppose it might help to eat something, but I’m too bothered to eat.  Maybe the problem here is that I’m just being too up inside of my head.  I was trying to blame hormones or the new moon the other night for the imbalance of my emotions lately, but heck maybe it’s just a simple matter of lack of sex, hah yeah that’s it!  That’s a whole other issue completely.  Ah geez I should probably end this before I really embarrass myself.

Well, wish me luck on this fricken miserable roller coaster ride I’m on at the moment.  I’m sure I’ll snap out of it eventually ~I’m almost out of ride tickets.  😉

Every Moment

I spent some time watching old home videos yesterday.  They have been packed away and it’s been quite some time since I’ve thought of them let alone watched any of them, but I saw a post from one of my friends on Facebook of a young 13 year old girl performing Celene Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and I was reminded of my daughter singing that song for a choir competition back in the 5th grade, and I suddenly got the overwhelming desire to see it again.  I dreaded the thought of hunting through all of the boxes, but I had a general idea of where I thought it might be, so I headed down to the basement with flashlight in hand to begin the search, and sure enough it wasn’t too long until I had located the box it was in.

But when I went to pop the tape into the VCR, it ate it!  Noooooo!  I can’t even begin to tell you the terrible feeling I had in the pit of my stomach at the thought of losing this precious keepsake.  Luckily I got it out of the machine, but as I tried to wind it back into the casing it began stretching tightly and I was afraid it would snap.  I’ve never taken a VHS tape apart before, but I was determined to salvage it somehow, I couldn’t bear the thought of losing it.   I carefully took out the screws holding it together and once I got it apart I gently wound the damaged, mangled part of the tape to a point that was a good distance past it in hopes that the rest of it would still play alright.  Needless to say, as all of this was happening I was thinking of how vitally important it is that I begin the process of somehow getting the rest of our home video recordings onto DVDs and to make duplicates so that this doesn’t happen again.

I am happy to report that my efforts at VHS tape repairing were a success!  And what a wonderful, heartwarming treat it was to be able to watch my little 11 year old daughter sing that beautiful song again.  It was her very first time ever singing in front of people as a soloist and she nailed it!  Albeit standing there and singing as stiff as a board, but her voice was so pure and lovely, I was almost brought to tears.  At one point the camera had began jiggling all over the place and I got annoyed with myself, but my mom reminded me that I was crying as I was recording it, so that only adds to the deeply emotional and beautiful memory of the moment of it all.

Afterward, I got to thinking about life, how time passes, and how each moment is precious.  I’m so very thankful that someone thought to invent cameras and then camcorders so that we can capture pieces of these moments as they happen along the way, and be able to look back at them from time to time.  But may we, as we remember, as we look back at these meaningful parts of our journey again, also use them as a way of realizing that today, right now, is really all we’ve got, and we ought to try to make the most of every moment.  We will never have this moment again.  Even as I type this next sentence, poof that last moment is gone.

I want to live in a way that I never take even one moment of this life for granted. To realize that each and every moment I am given is a gift, and I want to live in it in a way that matters.

Even if this present moment is hard ~ just as the happy moments are temporary, so are the difficult ones, and they too shall pass.  I still want to try and appreciate each one and let it serve it’s purpose in the grand scheme of my life.


This song by Joy Williams often comes to mind as I watch old home videos and has been playing through my head the entire time I’ve been writing this…

First Snow

Rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I slide out from beneath my cozy blankets.

There is an extra chill in the air this morning as I slip on a warm robe to cover my bare skin.

I make my way to the kitchen in anticipation of a hot cup of coffee, carefully maneuvering around the two hungry cats weaving in and out between my ankles.

As my lips take in the first few sips of warm rich liquid, my eyes drift over toward an unexpected, but familiar tint of light coming in through the window.

I venture closer to see and squinting from the brightness, a childlike excitement courses through me ~ freshly fallen snow!

Sparkling like glitter on a magical lake the rays of the rising sun dance over its surface, the extraordinary beauty of it dazzles and delights my senses.

I sigh, profoundly grateful for eyes to see and a heart to feel.

Ah, the winter is cold, but my heart is warm as I bask in the wonder and beauty of nature as it graces me with its first snow.

© Julie Rehnelt 2012


Hopeful Sunrise

 Rising over rooftops come the sun’s warm golden rays,

shining brightly, bringing hope, at the dawning of a new day.

Hope of a new beginning, hope of a fresh new start,

hope for love, for joy, for peace, for a content and happy heart.

And hope for strength on this new day

for courage, for confidence, for come what may.

© Julie Rehnelt 2013


I’ve always been a sunset type of person, there’s just something about contemplating and reflecting on life at the closing of the day that has always given me a wonderful sense of gratitude and comfort.  But since I’ve moved, my body clock seems to have rearranged itself a bit and I have been getting up earlier in the morning (or what is early to me in comparison to the past couple of years ;)).  Anyway, the windows of my new room face east and so as I have been rising earlier, I have been seeing the sunrise more often and I have come to find that I rather love the sunrise just as well, perhaps even more so than the sunset.  Because each new sunrise symbolizes hope to me, a chance to begin again, and no matter what the day ahead may hold, my heart is filled with a deep sense of gratitude for the precious gift of being given another new day to live and breathe.

May I spend it well.  And so may you…

Being Grateful

November seems like the perfect time to share with you about the thankfulness journal that I started a while ago.  The concept of writing down the things you are thankful for each day is not new by any means, so I’m not proposing this is something I came up with entirely on my own, but nonetheless it is a wonderful practice and makes a huge difference in ones frame of mind, attitude, and sense of well being.

I have always been an optimistic type of person, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned a time or two before, and it usually comes quite easily for me to see the good in things.  I am often delighted and find joy in the very simplest of things, and I believe this has helped me tremendously as I’ve went through various things in my life, some of which have been very difficult.  You know how life is…

During times of trouble it’s sometimes a bit harder to find the joy, and what I’ve found is that as I force a shift in my way of thinking, the feelings seem to follow suit.  And one of the great ways of doing this is simply to look for things to be grateful for.  No matter what the circumstances are or the situation is, there is always something to be thankful for.

For me, just appreciating my five senses gets me every time.  All those “simplest” of things I mentioned that I find joy in are usually directly related to something I can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste.  Our five senses are so easily taken for granted, but if even one of them were to be absent it would make a huge impact in our lives.

One day when I was in a very dark place, I was sitting on my couch, ruminating on all of the horrible things that were going on in my life at that time.  Going over the list in my mind and spiraling further into a pit of despair.  Completely out of character for me, but it was a difficult time like I said.  Anyway, as I was sinking deeper and becoming even more distressed, I happened to notice a candle that was burning nearby, and as I continued to stare at it, very quietly other thoughts started creeping into my mind.  I thought of how much I like candles, how warm and comforting they are, how pleasant the aroma of the wax is, as I watched the flame flickering I thought about the nice ambiance lighting candles give off.  And slowly a shift, I began feeling thankful.  Thankful for the light, the warmth, and the aroma of that candle, and then for the eyes to see, the nose to smell, and on it went.  Before long, I was feeling better, more positive thoughts and things I was grateful for came to mind, and with them little flickers of hope like the flickering of the candle’s flame.   Slowly I began to realize that what I was going through was only temporary, that it won’t always be that way, that “this too shall pass.”  No idea where that quote is from, it’s just something my dad used to say.

And so it goes… shifting your way of thinking, and being grateful even for the simplest thing, like a candle, can lift your spirits and help put the things in your life into a better perspective.

I don’t usually have a problem finding things to be grateful for, it’s quite often the exact opposite for me, so in my case with my thankfulness journal I wanted to slow it down and really focus on just one thing each day, to take the time to give that one thing enough attention to allow it to fully sink in.  And to write about it in detail in a special journal reserved only for that type of contemplation gives it, gives me even a deeper sense of appreciation.

So today amidst the regular mundane, the chaos, or the pain, I encourage you to find something to be grateful for.  Just one thing.  Write it down, ruminate over it, and see how much better you feel…


“Gratitude is one of the sweet shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside.  No matter what is going on outside of us, there is always something we could be grateful for.”

~  Barry Neil Kaufman


What are you grateful for?