My youngest daughter has been absolutely captivated by Michael Jackson lately. Actually, it's been close to a year now. She goes around the house singing his songs, showing us videos on You Tube, getting up from the dinner table only to show us her latest Michael Jackson move. I caught her behind me on the bleachers at one of our older daughter's Lacrosse games trying out some moves from his Smooth Criminal video; it was very entertaining. She is constantly searching on line for new songs, wall papers and pictures of Michael for her tablet, writing down lyrics, you name it, she truly is obsessed.

At first I just thought, "Oh how cute." I always felt like she was born in the wrong era. I know and I happen to really like the 80's, so when she started singing Michael Jackson songs, heck who doesn't like Thriller? Epic! I'd even sing along. (Yep signing is NOT in my future, but dang we sounded good in the bathroom!)

Then she started asking questions like...

"Mom, why did so many people make fun of Michael Jackson?"

"Mom, I know that he changed how he looked, a lot, but why do people care?"

"Mom, why aren't more people like Michael Jackson?"

One day while she was taking a bath and singing the lyrics to Man in the Mirror, well more like belting them out, in the bathtub (singing...NOT in her future either), I was at the mirror drying my hair; and it hit me... Why aren't more people like Michael Jackson?

I mean sure, he had his weirdness factor going there for awhile and yes, his baby handling skills might have been in question when he held that child over the balcony. But heck, my husband dropped our son when he was a baby and well, come to think of it I may have dumped our oldest daughter out of her car seat once, OK maybe twice (sorry kids!), so none of us are perfect.

To be quite honest...who the heck are we to judge? The man made awesome music, he could dance like no other, seemed to be a caring man and his music made an impact on so many lives. He is music royalty for crying out loud! So what if he was eccentric. Why does everyone have to focus on the negative. I mean Tessa had been reading up on him (extensively) and she didn't care, she liked his music and the way it made her feel, she enjoys it. She focused on the positive. Everyone has some good in them right?

My daughter left the bathroom to go get dressed and I stood in the mirror staring at my reflection. I started mouthing the words and before long I was signing it out loud.

"Man In The Mirror"
by Michael Jackson

[Verse 1]
I'm gonna make a change
For once in my life
It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right
As I turned up the collar on, my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind, pretending not to see their needs?

A summer's disregard, a broken bottle top
And a one man's soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know:

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change, yey
Na na na, na na na, na na na na oh ho

[Verse 2]
I've been a victim of, a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
There are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed out dream
They follow the pattern of the wind, ya see
Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me


Take a look at yourself and then make the change
You gotta get it right, while you got the time
Cause when you close your heart
Then you close your mind


Make that change!

I bounced out of the bathroom and down the hall into my daughter's room. As I entered I tried out my best Michael moves. Once the laughter subsided...I told Tessa how proud I was of her and then tucked her in and gave her a kiss. She looked at me and asked why. And I simply said, "You have a good heart sweetie and I love you." She smiled really big and said, "And I got moves like Michael Jackson." laughing, "yes, yes you do, good night." I walked downstairs, sat on the couch and just stared at the TV. I kept thinking, bottom line, we all want to see the good in the world, but we also need to be the good in the world.

Just like this famous (and slightly over used) quote...

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi

I think we often go through life just worrying about our own jobs, where the kids need to be, what's for dinner. We walk past people everyday with our nose to the ground, and some with their noses in the air; saying things like "Oh my gosh did you see that person?" or "Did you hear what they said?"

We are all too busy, consumed with our daily tasks and quite frankly a little to concerned with what everyone else is doing (not in a good way), and trying to keep up with the neighbors or one up them. But what if we looked up just a little more often? Or brought our nose out of the clouds to take notice of other human beings beside the ones we are directly responsible for. Because in reality we are all in this together and we are only as strong as our weakest link. What if we just took the time to get to know people?

I drove past this older gentleman almost everyday on my way home. He would be out walking his dog, sometimes alone, other times with another older gentleman. I would wave and he would always wave back. He seemed like such a nice man. Sometimes if we had one of my kids friends in the car they would say "I don't know, he's kind of creepy." "No," I would say, "he looks like a nice man." and "One day I am just going to stop and say hello to him." I said it so often that my youngest even said to me, "Mom, you always say that." So, one day I pulled my car over in the middle of the street, got out and introduced myself.

I was so glad that I did. Now when I see him on the street, his smile is brighter and so is mine, because we made a connection. He knows my name and I know his. We are not strangers anymore. A simple gesture and it made a world of difference. And to me, that is what it is all about, just taking the time to get to know people. Had I not stopped, I would never had known that he adopted that adorable black lab from a rescue shelter or that his Dr. told him he needed to walk more so that's why he is out everyday or that he knew some of the neighbors on my street. Or that he was indeed, a nice man.

Sure, it is easier to ignore and just keep going and hard sometimes to make an effort; but what if we took the time to notice those around us more, to not judge so much, to not be so protective of our own feelings, to stop worrying about what others would think? Peer pressure can be a real buzz kill can't it? And usually it is the one that cares, that has a voice, that speaks up, or speaks for someone that doesn't have a voice...that usually gets hurt. Kudos to those awesome people that keep speaking up. Don't stop!

What if we took a look in the mirror and decided, that today, we we going to be one that would speak for those that cannot, make the first move to say hello, pause for a second to notice, or simply...make a change? What if someone else did that as well...and another...and another...imagine what all we could accomplish and change in our neighborhood, our community, our world.

Even if it is holding the door open for someone, saving a seat on the bus for the person that no one ever wants to sit by, saying hello and taking time to get to know that person you always see, bringing food to the local pantry and not waiting for a food drive to take notice. Don't you think that people are going hungry everyday? It doesn't have to be an Earth-shattering thing, baby steps, but steps none the less.

Each of us is unique in our own way. We are like a clover, some have three leaves, some are lucky enough to have four, and some might even have five...does that make them imperfect? No it makes each clover a unique creation and each beautiful in it's own way. And yes, clovers are beautiful.

As it is in life; we are all different, have unique qualities, quirks and imperfections. But He made us and we are all in His image so we are all beautiful, both inside and out, we all have potential and we all deserve to be treated well.

Perhaps we wouldn't have to put on our armor and protect ourselves from the world if we all learned to care for one another. OK not the case for this big juicy caterpillar, I know, he would for sure get eaten.

I also know that from time to time when the situation calls for it we do have to have a guard up or need to put on our theoretical armor. I am not saying be stupid, just be a bit more vulnerable and open to other people and their feelings. Don't go along with the crowd because you are afraid to stand on your own or worried about what others would say or think of you. Stand up for the person that has no voice, be their voice.

I am a people watcher, I love to sit back and just watch how people interact or expressions on their faces, how they treat other people...and often when I see someone lash out or say something inappropriate or in some cases awful to someone else, I speak up. Ask my kids, the "Mama Bear" comes out, especially when it comes to my own, but also for others. But in people watching, I've noticed something, if you look really close...I mean really look at that person, the one who is being the "bully" I would dare to say that most of the time, they didn't mean what they said, it is a front. They are hurting and they lash out.

Now, believe me, I cannot tolerate bullies, my son was bullied in middle school and I still think back to those days and get angry. But the more I look at that situation and the older I get, I realized they probably don't want to be bullies. When someone is mean to my kids I always tell them that while it isn't right, we have to realize that they are lacking something in their lives and that is why they do what they do.

It's kind of like that line in the movie Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts (Vivian) and Richard Gere (Edward Lewis) are lying in bed and they are having a moment....It goes something like this...

Vivian: People put you down enough, you start to believe it.
Edward Lewis: I think you are a very bright, very special woman.
Vivian: the bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?

Now perhaps not the best example, I know, she was a prostitute in this movie, but she was a good person. and that is my point, when you are bullied, put down enough, made fun of, not had the best of lives so far, start to believe it yourself. You lose your self esteem. Not everyone has enough in them to pull themselves up by the boot straps and move on. Sometimes they become bullies, go down the wrong path, lash out at others to hide what they are feeling, become criminals. Other times, you hear of wonderful stories of how someone over came something in their lives and turned it around for good. I love those stories, don't you?!

This blog post isn't about Michael Jackson, bullying, self esteem or having a positive attitude...well maybe it is, but it's also simply about...doing the right thing. Looking in the mirror and telling the person looking back at you, that YOU are going to make a change.

A friend of mine forwarded me this link. They are two amazing boys that give true meaning to the old saying; "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Check it out...if only we could all be this brave. Click on the picture. (And have a tissue handy)

To all those bullies out will not win.
To all those being bullied...don't give up, you are worth it and you will over come this.
To all those who feel a bit down...remember, you are beautiful both inside and out.
To all of those pointing fingers...start pointing them at yourself.
To all of you who want to make a difference in this world...look in the mirror and make that change.

To my man in the mirror...Let's do this!

My youngest daughter and I received the most wonderful blessing yesterday in the most ordinary of places.

We were in the drive through line at Jack in the Box; don't judge I am quite addicted to their Monster Tacos!

A blessing can happen anywhere
We were next in line to pay and Tessa and I happened to look over into the window. I guess just being nosy and seeing who was inside eating. It was somewhat crowded since it was lunch time, there were families, a table of two ladies enjoying a conversation and then...this older gentleman with a cowboy hat on. He seemed to have such a soft face and deep eyes that made you want to know more about him. When are eyes met he flung his arm up in the air, put a big smile on his face and waved as if he hadn't seen us in a very long time.

I immediately smiled back and waved as if I hadn't seen him either. I remember mouthing "Hi, how are you?" As I was waving I glanced over at Tessa and she was smiling and waving to. I continued waving and said "Tessa do we know him?" she replied "I don't think so Mom." "Hmmm" I said "Well he does have a familiar face, maybe we do know him? Either way, what a wonderful man." Then I looked back and he was gone. I thought to myself, that was so nice; and wait where did he go?

I still had a smile on my face when I pulled up to the window to pay. The young man said "Hello, that will be $8.54 mam." Just as he finished his sentence and my arm was out the window with a $10 bill, the manager walked up behind him with a smile bigger than mine and said, "Mam, the gentleman inside has paid for your meal."

"Oh my gosh, really?" I said, "That was so incredibly nice of him. What is his name?" The manager replied, "Actually...I don't know, we just call him The Cowboy." (Now I knew where he pay for our meal!) The manager continued, "He comes in every week and picks one person and pays for their meal." I was so touched.

"Wow, well please tell him that I said thank you. We are very blessed by his kindness, please tell him God bless." He replied, "I sure will." and walked away. I looked at the young man and gave him the $10 bill. "will you please take this and use it to pay for the person behind us." Of course there was no one in line (my luck) and the young man pointed that out. ;) So I said to just use for whoever comes through next. He kind of looked at me funny and I said, "You know, just pay it forward. Let's keep the blessing going." He agreed and tucked it under the cash register.

I turned to Tessa and she had such a big smile on her face. "Wow, that was really nice of him Mom, he didn't even know us." "I know sweetie, that was super nice of him."

We've done it before, blessed someone...paid for the person in line behind us, paid for a meal for someone in a restaurant, gave a store clerk a gift card for being so helpful, held a door open for someone... It always feels good to do that. But this was probably the only time someone had did it for us. It felt really good to, but in a different way, in a way that made me think to myself, hmmm maybe there is hope in our world. Sometimes with everything going on, all of the bad news you hear, it only takes a random act of kindness from a complete stranger to make you start feeling a little better. Of course all of the other stuff doesn't go away, but it certainly makes it easier.

To be truthful, I was actually more touched by the wave from a complete stranger than the meal he just bought us.

The young man handed us our food and the manager came back to the window and said "He said, you are very welcome, he was happy to do it. God has blessed him and he wants to bless others. He also said to tell you God bless."

"Again, please tell him we said thank you." and I started to drive away. I looked at Tessa and said "You know what? I feel like we should go in there and thank him in person, what do you think?" She replied with a great big smile on her face "Yes! I do to." So I parked the car, looked down at what I was wearing. Ugh, I was dressed to go to the barn in a ratty old t-shirt and shorts. But you know what...who cares, and in we walked.

I walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder. "Excuse me, I am so sorry to interrupt your meal; but we just wanted to come inside and personally thank you for your kindness. You truly blessed us. Thank you."

The man stood up and turned around and held out his hand. As I shook it I noticed how soft they were, and they were warm to.  His eyes lit up and you could just see the kindness in them. He said "You are welcome, I was happy to do it." again I said, "It was so kind of you, thank you so much. We just couldn't drive off without telling you in person."

He looked at Tessa and I and said, "Do you know why I paid for your meal?" I replied, "No, why?" his answer, "Because when I waved to you, you waved back." With tears in my eyes I looked at him, shrugged my shoulders and said, "Why wouldn't I? You waved to us."

As I stood there trying to understand how the simplest of gestures could ever go unanswered, he said, "Do you know what else? You are the first to ever come inside and say thank you. Everyone else just drives off."

I smiled at him and said, "Well, that is so sad, because I wouldn't have missed an opportunity to meet the man that just blessed our lives. Thank you again for your kindness."

He looked at me with his kind eyes and said, "I lost my true love in 2012, she was a beautiful woman and fought a hard battle with cancer. She died on November 7th. If she had lived just 15 days longer we would have been married for 50 years." I looked at him and told him how sorry I was for his loss. He continued to tell me about how he was hurting and asking God why? He would lay in bed in pain and mourning her loss. One night when he was asking God to help make sense of his loss and the unbelievable pain he was feeling in his heart the Lord said to him. "Her mission was complete and I needed her home. When your mission is complete you to will die but not until then." he asked God "What, what is my mission?" and God replied, "To bless someone every day, a complete stranger you have never met, do this everyday." And so he does just that.

He went on to tell us a little more about his wife, showed us a ring he had made in her honor that had the stone from her wedding ring mounted proudly in the center. We chatted right there in the middle of the restaurant.

It is romantic in the sense that he is doing God's will so that one day he will be reunited with his one true love. Of course this hit me in my own heart as I had just lost my father in December and he to wanted to be reunited with his one true love. I felt as if God was reaffirming to me that they were indeed together again. And I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this man would be one day as well.

I smiled back my tears and said to him, "What is your name?" he told me, but I am not going to tell you, because I think the name that the manager gave him "The Cowboy" makes it so much more poignant.

I have a book that a business man whom I look up to very much always had in his office. It's called Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen - What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West.

Worth the read, and the pictures are remarkable
You might be asking what does that have to do with this story. Well, in the book they say that "Cowboying doesn't build character, it reveals it. What your teacher told you back in first grade still holds true: Anything worth doing is worth doing well." I think that applies to our life. Why live this beautiful life God has given us if we do nothing to help improve it, if we just go through the motions everyday, if we do not reach out to others. Life is worth doing, and it is worth doing well.

You never know whom you will touch and why they need to be touched, but if you follow your spirit it will never steer you wrong. Live everyday with a goal of touching someones life. It doesn't take much, a smile, a friendly wave to a stranger...paying for a meal, no matter how you do it, just do it.

"What your teacher told you in first grade still holds true:
Anything worth doing is worth doing well."
Recently our community lost a young girl to suicide. As I sat praying for her family and thinking to myself how incredibly sad it was for one young girl, with so much life ahead of her, to feel as though that was her only answer. It sent a shock wave through me.

My oldest daughter Samantha had said that it was such a permanent decision on such a temporary time in your life. But to her, at that moment it was all she could bare. What if we reached out more, took notice of each other more? I wonder if perhaps she wouldn't have felt that way. And maybe that's not fair to say, but what harm could happen by being nice to someone? Even if it is someone you have never met. You may never know how you helped them with just the smallest of gestures, but I truly believe that you will.

Samantha came home from the candle light vigil they had for her with tears still in her eyes. She said there were stories after stories that her peers, most of whom she never knew, were sharing of how this young precious girl touched so many lives. The lives of complete strangers. This young girl came up them in school, at the store, in the restroom, would find them crying or looking sad and would simply reach out, touch them on the shoulder or ruffle the hair on their head and say, "Hang in there, it will all be OK." She touched so many lives, lives of people whom she had never met.

While her life may have been incredibly short, she lived her life well, her character was revealed in the simplest of actions. Reaching out to someone and blessing them with a kind word. I wonder how many lives she saved with just those few caring words from a complete stranger?

The last thing I said to my new found friend "The Cowboy" was, "Can I give you a hug?" He smiled and said "Of Course." It was a great hug from a great man. He reached down and looked at Tessa, she opened up her arms and gave him a hug as well. He stepped back, grabbed both of her tiny hands in his warm hands, bent down and brought them to his face and kissed them and said, "Thank you." We said our goodbyes and we both agreed that we would one day meet again both here and in heaven.

Tessa and I walked out holding hands. I looked down at her and she looked up at me and again she said, "Mommy, he was a really nice man." I smiled and said, "He really was sweetie, what a blessing to us to have met him."

What a perfect day.

I challenge you to today, to live your life like The Cowboy. Live your life to bless others. Go out today with the intent of making a complete stranger's day better.

Live, Laugh, Love...but do it well.

Dedicated to The Blessing Cowboy. I truly look forward to seeing you again. Perhaps this time I can buy your lunch. God bless.

Pinterest seems to be the place to to find out what the world likes. From recipes, crafting tips and decorating ideas to fitness plans, photography and bucket lists. You name it, someone is putting it on Pinterest, and yes, that includes me. I find it well...addicting!

Although I can't help wondering...are we setting ourselves up to be disappointed?

I mean I have lots of, what I think, are great ideas, fun crafts to try, gorgeous hair pics, places and things I want to do on my bucket goes on and on. However, after just saying that all out loud, dang, I'm kind of depressed. Because I haven't tried most of those great ideas! I definitely do not have that great hair, and I haven't even dented my bucket list! Jeeesh!

Although, it is important to dream, to picture your life the way you would like it, to put those positive things out there. It is also equally important to take steps to make those things happen. To never venture out and take action on those dreams is just not living. You are given one chance in this life, why not make it count?!

I recently had a friend (whom I highly recommend that you follow her blog that, well, had her life turned upside down. So, instead of taking it lying down, she got up, dusted herself off and did what every sound minded dreamer would do...she sold off everything and started traveling the world taking pictures and writing about her journey.  Yep! She did it! It wasn't an easy step, it was a scary, brave, invigorating, a "what am I doing?" kind of step. A step onto a road she had never traveled down before. But, she took the first step and she is living her dream for herself and making a difference in the lives of others along the way.

So as I sit here at my desk, in my house, inside looking out the same window, pinning another dream, idea and want onto my Pinterest boards, dreaming about what else I would like to do in my life. I lift my cold coffee in the air, grin and give an imaginary toast to my friend Cathy whom is living her dream and making her one shot at this life count. Here's to you Cathy and your road less traveled! May many of us follow in your foot steps until we find our own road to travel.  Cheers!

The Road Not Taken

 by: Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 
Then took the other, just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

Make your dream a reality, choose your path, follow your spirit and live your life now...for tomorrow is not promised. What better day than today to start living your dream! Good luck on your journey!