Happy Anniversary Mama and Daddy!

Today, January 7th, is very special and sacred day for my family. It marks the wedding anniversary of our parents.

Although they are no longer with us here on earth, we often think about them every day.

I love hearing stories about the wedding day – the ceremony, the traditions observed by them and their guests on that day. Back then, it was a full day event! It started with breakfast … and ended with an incredible party; remembered by some for years after!

There was good food, dancing, and fun had by all in celebration of my parents’ union.

When I think about them, I consider how they, for me, were such an example of faith and family. They were devoted Catholics; putting God and Mother Mary first with our family blessed under the same umbrella.

They showed us what love, sharing, commitment, and compassion were through their daily actions. They epitomized, to me, what the unity under God truly meant. They lived, walked, and breathed the talk of faith and family so much that even decades later, we remember them so fondly!

My parents both got to meet some or all of their grandchildren before their passing. Now, they have a great-grandchild who will eventually hear stories about the union of these special people.

Today, on their anniversary, we give thanks to them for being our parents, for giving us the foundation of strength in faith and family to carry forward.

We love and miss you, Mama and Daddy! Happy Anniversary!

Preparing for the New Year

It’s that time again … New Year’s Eve!

It’s the time to reflect on the past year and to consider how many of our resolutions actually came to fruition.

Okay, well, for me, none but a lot of changes did come in 2023.

To be honest, 2023 was the year I thought would never end!

So often, I’ve looked back on the years and thought, Wow, that one went fast.

Still, every year does offer some constants – time passes, we get older, but also, there are events in the world and people passing. There are social issues everywhere and people struggling. There are issues with the planet and the animals and on and on.

Thing is, there always have been but here’s the thing I had to come to terms with:

I can stay down, buried under the distress of the world … which basically adds my energy to the masses or …

I can reach up to the light of Jesus and Mother Mary and fill my heart with their love!

Why would I do this?

Because while I can’t necessarily change everything in the world, I can lift the world up with the love that is brought through me – and join it with the love of others doing the same.

By doing this, we are boosting the energy and vibration of the world up which helps in ways we can never realize!

It isn’t necessarily our place to “fix” the world. What we do is remain open to the love of Jesus and Mother Mary to work through us and show us ways to help. We don’t have to know what that is but to just be open to what we are given and then we will be shown a way.

For me, it often comes by feeling inspired and just may come out of seemingly nowhere.

But I know that it starts with standing in love.

So this is to be my resolution for 2024 and beyond. This will be a resolution I can gladly keep!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Music is Always in Season

Music is the song of the heart.

My mother used to tell me that when I sang in church, I was praying twice!

Our family was one where music was one of the strongest hearts … along with food and faith.

At Christmas, the music – old and new – is so heartwarming!

I have my favorite old songs … some from church and some from mainstream. And there are some new ones that make my toes tap for sure! Regardless, the music around the holiday season is just one more thing I love about the time of the year.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way! I think it’s why many radio stations start the holiday season early – though some people still say they aren’t ready. And that’s okay because I believe if you listen for just a little while, you’ll be ready sooner than you think. And that puts the season of the holidays into your spirit sooner, too!

I remember a time when I was practicing at church with my Director, father Emmit. He was actually from another country, listening to our holiday songs here, and he said to me that he thought the Christmas music was some of the most beautiful hymns! He added that he often wondered why we just didn’t sing these all year long!

I have never never forgotten that comment … and I truly agree!

When I think about a Holy Christmas hymns, the Sacred Christmas songs like Away in the Manger and  Silent Night .… especially like Silent Night … when I hear that hymn, it takes me in spirit to that very moment long ago, when Jesus was born and lying in a manger… my heart is so full of love and I can’t stop thinking about baby Jesus and his mother’s journey to Bethlehem with Joseph on a donkey …

Just amazing how a song can transport you so much!

A tradition we practiced grown up was signing up for Christmas Eve midnight mass and Christmas Day mass celebrations. It was kind of a family affair; my mom my aunt Jeannie, my uncle Richard and my sisters always volunteered to sing in the choir. We’d practiced a few weeks before then on that holy night, we had recalled the beautiful moment Jesus was born in song!

I love singing Christmas songs about Jesus and his birth our salvation, and all the wonder and awesomeness of our Savior God.

Love of Jesus and Mother Mary … love of family and tradition … love of song and faith – for me, it’s all wrapped up with a beautiful bow at holiday time!

The Legend of the Pink Cookies

Of all the aspects of celebrating the holidays, one thing is constant – memories.

How they come to us may vary … it could be in putting up the tree or a particular tradition that seems unique to your family. For me, it’s cooking – all kinds of foods!

It’s making the same recipes that my ancestors did. It’s the smells in the house of holiday foods. It’s sitting down to eat and the image of the table filled with people from old and hearing distant inaudible chatter.

It seems that Christmas brings this more than any other time.

I’ve become the maker of the pink cookies – kind of the designated cook every year of these delightful edibles.

Originally introduced to us kids by our aunt, Jeannie, they live on in our household and as welcome gifts.

In fact, I wrote this blog post after sitting down with my brother and having a few from a new batch. They sent us reeling back to a place of simpler times – when we were kids with no worries … or bills!

Already this year, I’ve made them as a summer celebration treat and twice near Christmas time for family, neighbors and to hand out at my sister’s workplace.

Like I said, it’s an annual thing for virtually any reason – or to have for no particular reason at all!

Every time I make them, I am transported to times when I’d watch my aunt make them. I look upon the memories with a modern understanding though of how the ingredient not on the recipe card is the most delicious of all – love! She truly loved baking them for us all!

It gave her such pride to see our reactions of voraciously devouring them, smiling and laughing in joy as we did, and our excitement at seeing a new batch!

My cookies taste pretty much as my aunt’s did … but sometimes, I add things like chocolate chips – which seems just as popular! And the term “pink” cookies were also something I’d done; added cherry juice to the batter when the batter was too dry, which turned them pink.

If you’re interested in the recipe, I did put it in my Comida de mi Vida eBook on Amazon! The eBook talks more about my mother’s cooking as well!

They are easy to make and won’t disappoint!!

Also, you can get a free copy of the recipe on my website, https://floraslegacy.net/blog/

Happy Holidays one and all!

The Value of Pets in the Caregiver Process

The caregiver process… taking care of an ill loved one… is an up and down ride minute by minute. There are good days when your loved one is coherent, not in a lot of pain, and seems to be the familiar person you’d grown up with. There are days… even moments, when you loved one is a stranger, seems to be inconsolable or even mean.

It’s often difficult to separate out the pieces of yourself and your loved one during these fluctuating times. But I’d remembered so clearly the times when something so simple as a grandchild or a pet could cause a moment of solace and glee!

I’d remembered two pets, in particular, who had brought job and love to my ill parents. One had been my dog, Oso Bear. He’d been a red-haired chow who had captured my whole family’s heart from the first moment! I actually thought I’d have to go to court to get custody of him from my Mama and Daddy (and brothers!) because everyone had wanted him!

My Mama and Daddy and I had come to an agreement that while I’d been at work, they could have Oso with them. And it had been so good for them both!

For Daddy, Oso had burrowed under his legs, waiting to be petted. Daddy, even with his Parkinson’s disease, had pet Oso with his shaky hands. But Oso hadn’t cared. He’d loved the touch and it had been great for Daddy as well!

For Mama, Oso had provided protection and security. She’d known that Oso had protected them; scaring strangers away from the door with his deep bark. If Daddy had needed help, Oso had let Mama know.

The second little miracle had come in the form of a kitten!

By that point, Daddy had passed and Mama had become the ill loved one I’d been caring for. My siblings and I had consulted with each other about getting Mama a pet. We hadn’t been sure if it would have been a dog or cat until we’d gone to the local animal shelter and looked around. There, we’d found a Siamese kitten.

I’d remembered the look on Mama’s face when we’d brought the kitten home to her. Mama’s eyes had opened wide with excitement! We’d felt the magic burst throughout the room. She’d named the kitten Milkshake and it had stayed by her side almost every moment. Mama had really loved playing and petting that cat, and it had been an experience of more smiles and mutual love!

Pets had helped us all. Besides giving unconditional love and affection to our ill loved one, we, the caregivers, had benefited as well. We’d seen our loved ones happier but also, we’d appreciated the love we’d received from those furry little angels, too!


The Best Present for Mother’s Day is Your Presence

Happy Mother's DayAs Mother’s Day approaches, my thoughts are, of course, on my mother.  

Some of us still have our mothers and will be sharing the day with them …

Others of us, will be celebrating with our memories.

While I’ll be doing the latter, I will be doing so with my family; my brothers and sisters. We have part of the day set aside to visit Mama’s grave, share moments as we remembered them, and have a meal in her honor.

My Mama had always been busy with something … my younger siblings, grandkids, Daddy … problems we’d brought home for her to solve …

But I’m reminded of an elderly family friend who had shared her longing to have her children home again. They’d all grown and had families of their own and as days passed into weeks, they visits had grown farther apart. She hadn’t wanted to bother them or complain but her heart wept for the days she could hug them in person.

Sometimes life can do this … fly by until we realize, wow, where did the time go?

This is why, this Mother’s Day, I challenge everyone with a mother still with you, to be sure and make that time … not just on this day but let it be a reminder to make time … to spend time … to make your mother a part of your important items on your life’s list.

It can be as simple as picking up the phone … take her to lunch on a regular basis … show up on a weekly basis just to say Hi, get a hug, and say you love her! Presents are always appreciated but it’s pretty likely that YOUR presence would be the very best gift you could give!

Pets Are the Gateway to Eternal Happiness!

Guest post – reposted with permission from 2018

This post is dedicated to Walter

having a ruff dayIf the heart is the portal to eternal happiness then pets may be one of the Universe’s ways of pointing that out to us. The Universe leaves us messages to find and follow in its efforts to bring each of our souls to eternal peace. Some of us can find them… some of us can’t.

So few things in our physical world exude unconditional love and acceptance. However, pets do. Their desires are so pure and simple. They merely want food, shelter, and attention… not necessarily in that order.

Love… is not either-or. It isn’t something to use as a weapon or to be taken away if we don’t meet someone’s expectations. Such things which can be taken under certain conditions… isn’t love in its truest form.

Consider how pets are willing to endure hardship in the name of acceptance. They will tolerate beatings and abuse in the hopes of having one kind gesture from their owner. They don’t understand that they had done nothing wrong… that their owners can’t handle or accept unconditional love nor can give it.

Consider what it takes to love unconditionally. It takes acceptance and purest of heart. As people, we think about it, we dig into what we like and don’t like. We make judgments based on our personal opinions and then implement them. Pets… they just are. They just love.

We can learn a lot from that simple yet powerful idea!

cats are so lovingPets are therapeutic in so many ways. They help heal our broken hearts. They lay beside us when we are ill. They eagerly wait for us to arrive home after a long, hard day of labor – tails wagging, eyes a glaze with glee!

Pets are a buffer in a way, to the ills of the world, the anger and hatred that abounds here. To give in to the genuine adoration of a pet eases our stress, can help rejuvenate our spirit, had aid us in surviving this world as it is. Loving a pet from within our own hearts can also help us to be more compassionate to others in the world. Further, offering and feeling the simplicity of love in its natural state can alter the complexity that we think things have to be in order to “love.” We find, in following the paw-steps of these simple, loving creatures, that love, in and of itself, is in fact, simple.

Few things on this planet compare to the love and acceptance of a pet. If love is that doorway to eternal happiness, then there is no doubt at all that returning the love of a pet… and accepting the pet’s unconditional love, is the key to that door!

Faith … Caregivers are an Inspiration

Reprinted from the old site: Dated 09/09/2018

Faith Makes Everything  Possible …

There is a special class of people — they are called caregivers. Whenever I hear about someone taking care of an ill loved one, I find that personal inspirational!

I am proud to have been a caregiver for my loved ones along with my siblings.  I had found it a humbling experience yet one which had changed my life forever.  And I hope that in my story and empathy, I am able to be an inspiration for others!

The one constant which had seen me through each day during my role as a caregiver, had been faith.  Having faith had guided me to take each day one at a time.  It helped me to keep trying.  And it helped to make the tough days tolerable and helping to keep my eyes and heart open to the good days.

There are indeed small miracles in the daily life for ALL caregivers and the beautiful people they serve. No matter your religious conviction, belief, or following, your faith will carry you and sustain you in those moments.

faith is powerfulSt. Francis of Assisi was a great example of selflessness in a world that needed his touch so badly. He had believed that is was in giving that we receive.

His words are still so true today.  We can believe  that we are a vessel of peace and faith and that from this peace and faith, that we can love with all of our souls.

Pope Francis has been a fresh, new breath of life in a world so otherwise damaged. He speaks the gospel truth, but more than that, he is a role model to all humanity.

He walks among the poor and loves all people of light. We can all use a little bit of mercy and look to Pope Francis as an example of humility and faith. 

A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.