Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Best Black Friday Shopping Strategies

These Black Friday strategies will help you rise above the crowd. I look forward to shopping on Black Friday every year. I've been doing it for over 30 years now, and I’ve learned more than a few good strategies over the years.
                                              

Make a List
What do you want to buy? For whom do you want buy it? What sizes do you need? What colors? Write it down. And bring the list with you. Cross off the items as you purchase them.

Start Early
Start shopping before Black Friday. For years now, retailers have been slowly extending the holiday 
shopping season. Some retailers have started Black Friday sales the week of Thanksgiving. Take advantage of these sales, especially for popular items that may become scarce as we approach Christmas.

Analyze Sales Ads the Day Before  
Look through sales papers to see if the items on your list are on sale. Don't rule out buying gift cards for the hard-to-buy-for loved one.

Clip Coupons
Clip coupons in advance. And bring the coupons with you. Don’t forget to read the fine print. Some coupons are passes that you can use repeatedly. Other coupons have limitations. You may not be able to use them on Bonus Buy items. I hate that.

Understand the Return Policy
Why buy from a retailer if you can’t return an item if you aren’t satisfied? The return policy should be clearly posted in the store. You can also visit a retailer’s website to learn about its return policy. Sometimes return policies are different for different items.

Map out Store Locations According to Time
Many Black Friday coupons are time-sensitive. So, this should determine the order in which you go to retailers.  

Dress Smart
Wear comfortable and practical clothes and accessories: cargo pants, waist pouch or small shoulder strap purse hidden under your jacket, and comfy shoes. Wear a light-weight jacket, even if it’s cold outside. You just need something to keep you warm from your vehicle to the store. Once you reach the mall or large retailer, you will be uncomfortable in a heavy coat, scarf, gloves, and boots. And never wear a turtleneck sweater. I learned the hard way. If it rains, a rain hat is more practical than trying to maneuver an umbrella.

Sustain Yourself
Pack a snack. It’s a tough job navigating through stores. A bag of raw organic nuts can be very filling. This is usually my snack of choice. You can keep them in your pocket or purse. I also recommend you bring a water bottle. Small ones fit nicely in cargo pants pockets. Depending on how long you will be shopping, you may want to bring a practical lunch. In Michigan, it’s usually cold on Black Friday, so leaving your lunch box in the car is usually OK. Remember, everything will be crowded--food courts, fast food restaurants, and bathrooms. If you take medication, even over-the-counter meds, bring them. For future reference, keep one of the empty containers your meds came in. You can use it to put one or two pills in it to carry with you. If you lose the bottle while shopping, you'll still have the remaining meds at home. And if you're stopped by the police, you won't have much explaining to do.

Think about the Weight of it All
Bring along a collapsible shopping bag on wheels. They are helpful for carting heavy items from the store to your vehicle. Consider bringing a back pack or a large tote bag for carrying several small bags.

Fill up the Car
Make sure you have gas in your vehicle. It’s not uncommon to encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic near large shopping centers and malls. This is not a good time to run out of gas.

Choose your Shopping Partners Carefully
Black Friday is not a day the kids will enjoy. Leave them with a reliable sitter. Besides, some of the shopping may be for them anyway. If you shop with a buddy or a group, make sure they have as much stamina as you do. If not, drive in separate vehicles so they can leave when they are ready. Consider splitting up in the store and setting up a meeting time and place. You and your buddies can shop for items in different departments.

First and Last
Go to large department stores first. They usually have the time-sensitive coupons. And they become crowded fast. So, save boutique/small store shopping last. Small retailers are usually not as crowded as large retailers.

Don’t be Sucked In
Avoid the crazy people. When a retailer warns you that quantities are limited, believe them. Don’t even make an attempt to be one of the thousand people vying for one of the few items. To maintain your dignity and your sanity, it’s best to pay a little more money for the item at a different store.

Be Smart
Protect yourself and your possessions. Leave expensive purses and jewelry at home. Don’t go out to your vehicle to put in your packages. If you need to put something in your vehicle, do so, and then drive to another parking space so it appears you are leaving. Place packages in the trunk, not on the seats. Moreover, be alert. Create a plan for what you will do if someone follows you or acts suspiciously. Consider carrying pepper spray, but make sure you can access it quickly.

Say Ahhh
When you return home, draw a bath spiked with Epsom salt (the whole bag) and a few drops of lavender. Soak for at least 15 minutes while you relax and reflect on your conquests.


It Ain’t Really Over
If you believe you’ve missed out on something, look forward to Cyber Monday. This is the big sale day for online shopping.

  • Don’t forget to enter coupon codes when “checking out” your online shopping cart. 
  • Manually select the delivery mode. Some sites have a default setting, which can be the most expensive delivery mode. 
  • Take advantage of free shipping. You may have to order a particular dollar amount though. 
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card. You don’t want to tie up your money if something goes wrong. 
  • Review all options. You may want to pay for it your merchandise online and pick it up in the store. Review the return policy. Some retailers will allow you to return the merchandise at any one of their stores. For other retailers, you may have to pay to ship the merchandise back to the retailer. 
  • Once you make your purchase, check your email for your confirmation number/ticket. Keep this until your merchandise arrives. 
Unfortunately, some people feel the need to "accept" your package(s) for you. So, notify FedEx and/or UPS to establish a delivery plan: a specific day and time you will be home, or let them know you will pick up your package from one of its centers.


What Black Friday memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.


Domonique

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The Best Black Friday Shopping Strategies

These Black Friday strategies will help you rise above the crowd. I look forward to shopping on Black Friday every year. I've been doing it for over 30 years now, and I’ve learned more than a few good strategies over the years.
                                              

Make a List
What do you want to buy? For whom do you want buy it? What sizes do you need? What colors? Write it down. And bring the list with you. Cross off the items as you purchase them.

Start Early
Start shopping before Black Friday. For years now, retailers have been slowly extending the holiday 
shopping season. Some retailers have started Black Friday sales the week of Thanksgiving. Take advantage of these sales, especially for popular items that may become scarce as we approach Christmas.

Analyze Sales Ads the Day Before  
Look through sales papers to see if the items on your list are on sale. Don't rule out buying gift cards for the hard-to-buy-for loved one.

Clip Coupons
Clip coupons in advance. And bring the coupons with you. Don’t forget to read the fine print. Some coupons are passes that you can use repeatedly. Other coupons have limitations. You may not be able to use them on Bonus Buy items. I hate that.

Understand the Return Policy
Why buy from a retailer if you can’t return an item if you aren’t satisfied? The return policy should be clearly posted in the store. You can also visit a retailer’s website to learn about its return policy. Sometimes return policies are different for different items.

Map out Store Locations According to Time
Many Black Friday coupons are time-sensitive. So, this should determine the order in which you go to retailers.  

Dress Smart
Wear comfortable and practical clothes and accessories: cargo pants, waist pouch or small shoulder strap purse hidden under your jacket, and comfy shoes. Wear a light-weight jacket, even if it’s cold outside. You just need something to keep you warm from your vehicle to the store. Once you reach the mall or large retailer, you will be uncomfortable in a heavy coat, scarf, gloves, and boots. And never wear a turtleneck sweater. I learned the hard way. If it rains, a rain hat is more practical than trying to maneuver an umbrella.

Sustain Yourself
Pack a snack. It’s a tough job navigating through stores. A bag of raw organic nuts can be very filling. This is usually my snack of choice. You can keep them in your pocket or purse. I also recommend you bring a water bottle. Small ones fit nicely in cargo pants pockets. Depending on how long you will be shopping, you may want to bring a practical lunch. In Michigan, it’s usually cold on Black Friday, so leaving your lunch box in the car is usually OK. Remember, everything will be crowded--food courts, fast food restaurants, and bathrooms. If you take medication, even over-the-counter meds, bring them. For future reference, keep one of the empty containers your meds came in. You can use it to put one or two pills in it to carry with you. If you lose the bottle while shopping, you'll still have the remaining meds at home. And if you're stopped by the police, you won't have much explaining to do.

Think about the Weight of it All
Bring along a collapsible shopping bag on wheels. They are helpful for carting heavy items from the store to your vehicle. Consider bringing a back pack or a large tote bag for carrying several small bags.

Fill up the Car
Make sure you have gas in your vehicle. It’s not uncommon to encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic near large shopping centers and malls. This is not a good time to run out of gas.

Choose your Shopping Partners Carefully
Black Friday is not a day the kids will enjoy. Leave them with a reliable sitter. Besides, some of the shopping may be for them anyway. If you shop with a buddy or a group, make sure they have as much stamina as you do. If not, drive in separate vehicles so they can leave when they are ready. Consider splitting up in the store and setting up a meeting time and place. You and your buddies can shop for items in different departments.

First and Last
Go to large department stores first. They usually have the time-sensitive coupons. And they become crowded fast. So, save boutique/small store shopping last. Small retailers are usually not as crowded as large retailers.

Don’t be Sucked In
Avoid the crazy people. When a retailer warns you that quantities are limited, believe them. Don’t even make an attempt to be one of the thousand people vying for one of the few items. To maintain your dignity and your sanity, it’s best to pay a little more money for the item at a different store.

Be Smart
Protect yourself and your possessions. Leave expensive purses and jewelry at home. Don’t go out to your vehicle to put in your packages. If you need to put something in your vehicle, do so, and then drive to another parking space so it appears you are leaving. Place packages in the trunk, not on the seats. Moreover, be alert. Create a plan for what you will do if someone follows you or acts suspiciously. Consider carrying pepper spray, but make sure you can access it quickly.

Say Ahhh
When you return home, draw a bath spiked with Epsom salt (the whole bag) and a few drops of lavender. Soak for at least 15 minutes while you relax and reflect on your conquests.


It Ain’t Really Over
If you believe you’ve missed out on something, look forward to Cyber Monday. This is the big sale day for online shopping.

  • Don’t forget to enter coupon codes when “checking out” your online shopping cart. 
  • Manually select the delivery mode. Some sites have a default setting, which can be the most expensive delivery mode. 
  • Take advantage of free shipping. You may have to order a particular dollar amount though. 
  • Use a credit card, not a debit card. You don’t want to tie up your money if something goes wrong. 
  • Review all options. You may want to pay for it your merchandise online and pick it up in the store. Review the return policy. Some retailers will allow you to return the merchandise at any one of their stores. For other retailers, you may have to pay to ship the merchandise back to the retailer. 
  • Once you make your purchase, check your email for your confirmation number/ticket. Keep this until your merchandise arrives. 
Unfortunately, some people feel the need to "accept" your package(s) for you. So, notify FedEx and/or UPS to establish a delivery plan: a specific day and time you will be home, or let them know you will pick up your package from one of its centers.


What Black Friday memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.


Domonique

Connect with me on Pinterest to view creative ideas about writing:

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Thanksgiving: Simply Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is easy: Simply give thanks.


When I used to think of Thanksgiving, I used to think of family gatherings with turkey, macaroni and cheese, greens, and sweet potato pie. But all that changed a few years ago. As I began to prepare my Thanksgiving meal the day before Thanksgiving, I felt a chill gently tap me on my shoulder. As I continued the meal preparation, I even thought I saw the formation of a faint cloud as I exhaled. 

Within the hour, frigid cold shoved polite chill out of the way. And I realized it was time to check the thermostat. That’s when I discovered the furnace was no longer working. 

We were having guests for Thanksgiving the next day, but rather than cancel the dinner, we decided to use the fireplace in the family room and have our guests gather together in that room.

It worked out well. Very few people knew we did not have a working furnace. With the oven going in the kitchen, a diligently manned fire blazing in the family room, and the familial love we had in our hearts, no one complained about being cold.

The following day we called a furnace repair company, which had a domino effect -- a call to a second furnace repair company and then a call to a third furnace repair company. But the verdict was the same. We needed a new furnace. My husband and I were upset that we were faced with this unexpected expense.

Eventually, we made our selection. It was a tough job trying to choose a dependable yet affordable unit, but we did it. The following Monday the workers arrived. The clinking, clanging, and banging drowned out the jargon-laden dialogue between the workers. This went on for quite a while until it became quiet. One-by-one the workers had left the basement to congregate in an area outside. They confirmed what one worker had suspected: the smell of gas. They made an urgent plea for us to call the gas company. Subsequently, we were notified we had a gas leak—a serious gas leak that involved a backhoe, a gas crew, and a new underground gas line.

Well, our anger over having to purchase a new furnace was replaced with feelings of thanksgiving. We had been spared the devastating consequences of having a serious gas leak. We were thankful we still had our lives, and we were thankful we still had our home. I believe in prayer. I pray daily. A portion of my prayer focuses on my family's protection. That prayer had been answered. We were protected from the devastating consequences of a gas leak. The cost involved in the purchase and installation of a furnace was microscopic compared to priceless things we could have lost.

So this Thanksgiving, as I give thanks for all the things for which I am thankful—family, health, protection, wisdom, good memories, emotional well-being, education, career, and the like--I also give thanks for the time our furnace stopped working. It led to the discovery of a problem that we were able to get fixed before something terrible happened.

Today, thousands of people will prepare delicious gourmet and soul food meals. And the preparation probably began days ago. It did for me. But don't forget the main point, which is an easy one: Simply give thanks. Give thanks not only for what you have but also for how you were able to have it.

For what are you thankful? This is the story in you. Share it.



Domonique 
 
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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Easy Healthy "Caramel" Apples

Autumn is the time of year when the leaves embarrass the flowers. It's also the time of year when my soul craves warm, spicy apple cider and gooey, sweet caramel apples. But, for the past few years, I have not eaten caramel apples. It’s because they come with an undesirable companion--corn syrup. 

Yesterday I couldn’t tame my craving. I had to have a caramel apple. And out of that intense craving came one of my most delicious and easy recipes: Healthy “Caramel” Apples. The whole family will have fun making and eating these apples.

Ingredients
  • Organic Granny Smith apples
  • approximately ¼ c organic natural peanut butter for each apple
  • 2-3 tablespoons of maple syrup for each ¼ c of peanut butter
  • ¼ c organic unsalted dry roasted peanuts for each apple

Directions
Wash and dry apples. Mix the maple syrup with the peanut butter in a small bowl. Crush peanuts in a zip lock bag using a rolling pin. Place them on a plate. With a butter knife, spread peanut butter and maple syrup mixture over apples. Roll apples in the crushed peanuts. Refrigerate for an hour before eating. (Note that the spread will not harden like a caramel apple, but the flavor will make up for it.)



Insert a wooden candy apple stick, or just slice it up. 



Enjoy! Store leftovers in the refrigerator. (But there probably won't be any.)


What fall traditions do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.



Domonique

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sidewalk Sale Strategies

Summer is synonymous with vacations, suntans, and sidewalk sales. The Downtown Rochester Sidewalk sales event is a unique summer experience. Downtown Rochester, Michigan has a great mix of architecture, restaurants, and businesses.

Architecture
You can enjoy Rochester’s interesting array of architecture, including the oldest commercial building in Rochester—
The Home Bakery (which was built in 1849),


 the Village Shoe Inn (which used to be a church),


and many other interesting buildings that now house businesses.



Restaurants
Downtown Rochester has a wide variety of restaurants on Main Street and the surrounding blocks. Menus range from light snacks to full course meals and desserts.
  • Mr. B's
  • Kruse and Muer on Main
  • Penny Black
  • Give Thanks Bakery
  • Sander’s Candy and Dessert
  • Beyond Juice
  • The Victorian Restaurant and Tea House


The Rochester Brunch House opened a couple of years ago.


The d├ęcor is elegant yet inviting. 

And the menu is diverse. It includes breakfast combinations, stuffed omelets, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and pitas, salads, and a host of sides and beverages--something for everyone.

Businesses
Downtown Rochester has some unique shops and spas. Even though I was disappointed to see that a few stores and restaurants have closed their doors, I was delighted to see that other interesting businesses have opened in their places. Downtown Rochester is a great place to buy shoes and purses, women and children’s clothing, Native American inspired items, jewelry, and art.

To make your sidewalk sales experience pleasurable, I recommend the following:
  • Bring quarters for the parking meters, and monitor your time. Rochester's meters also take credit and debit cards.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
  • Depending on the weather, wear sunscreen or carry rain gear. If it's hot, go early.
  • Carry a small purse with a shoulder strap to keep your hands free for carrying packages. I wore cargo pants to store coupons and change for the parking meter.
  • Don't limit your shopping to the items displayed on the sidewalks. Go inside the store for a larger selection and possibly more sales. (Stepping inside the store for a few minutes will also provide relief from the hot sun.)
  • Some merchants set up tables but do not have a store. If you like their merchandise, ask for their website or business card.
  • Bring a bottle of cold water.
  • After you leave, drive around the area. You might find that some nearby residents hold garage sales, and some stores a few miles away also have sidewalk sales and bargains.

Parking
Parking was plentiful. I arrived at noon on Saturday and was able to secure a parking space at a meter on the first downtown street on which I turned. Meters are limited, but parking is available in parking lots and parking garages that are in close proximity to shops and restaurants.

Even if you don't find a good bargain or a special item to purchase, focus on the experience. Appreciate the architecture; sample the food; develop relationships by asking for business cards and/or websites for future transactions; and have fun by enjoying the music, face painting, and activities.

What special summer memories do you have? This is the story in you. Share it.


Domonique

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Father's Day: If I Could Say Three Things to My Father

To honor his father, Luther Vandross (2003) along with Richard Marx wrote “Dance With My Father.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmDxJrggie8

My dad and me when he gave me away at my wedding in 1981
Back when I was a child, before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high and dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around ‘til I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
If I could get another chance, another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never, ever end
How I’d love, love, love
To dance with my father again

I thought about the excerpt from the lyrics, and if I had another chance, I would say three things to my father:
                I love you
                Thank you
                Happy Father’s Day


      When I was growing up, my family did not spontaneously say, “I love you.” We just knew in our hearts that we loved each other. My siblings and I knew it because our parents showed us how much they loved us with their I’m-proud-of-you smiles, I-cherish-you eyes, and I-adore-you scoot overs when one-by-one the four of us would squeeze into their full size bed, making the total six by morning. We never doubted we were loved. Their actions spoke louder than their words. But if I could say three more things to my father, one of them would be, “Daddy, I love you.”

      Daddy would take us to parks, ball games, drive-in movies, and on vacations. A simple drive through downtown Detroit and the Riverfront would be the pinnacle of our day after the four of us competed to see which two would lay claim to a seat by the window in our Buick. We bellowed, “I’ve got the window!” each time we knew we were going for a drive in the car. We had loving parents, a warm home, full bellies, and mouths overflowing with laughter. Yes, we were rich—rich in love. It was not until we were older that my siblings and I realized our parents struggled to give us what we needed and what we wanted. We now laugh at our epiphany: we were not literally rich. We only felt rich because of the love our family shared. But if I could say three more things to my father, one of them would be, “Daddy, thank you for making me feel rich.”

      Father’s Day is a day we dedicate to honor fathers for what they mean to us and for what they do for us. No one is perfect; everyone has flaws. Several years ago, when I was shopping, a beautiful leather handbag caught my eye. When I picked it up, I noticed a tag dangling from the handle. It explained that because the handbag was made out of real leather, natural imperfections existed, but these imperfections contributed to its beauty. Fathers also have natural imperfections; however, we can still appreciate who they are overall. 

      Jarbas Agnelli looked at a photograph taken by Paulo Pinto--a simple photograph of birds sitting on wires. He saw the birds as music notes, and he saw the wires as the lines on a sheet of music. Then Jarbas turned this into a musical arrangement.

      Jarbas Agnelli, September 6, 2009https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoM4ZZJ2UrM

      Consider the beautiful moments you've had with your father--whether they are few or many. See him with the eyes of your soul. Look at these moments as birds on the wires waiting for you to create his special song. If I could say three more things to my father, one of them would be, “Daddy, Happy Father’s Day. I honor you for the beautiful moments--the birds on the wires--from which I was able to create your song.”

      Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers.

      What three things would you say to your father? This is the story in you. Share it.

      Domonique


      References
      Agnelli, J. (September 6, 2009). Birds on a wire. Retreved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoM4ZZJ2UrM
      Vandross, L. (November 27, 2012). Dance with my father. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmDxJrggie8



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      Friday, May 6, 2016

      Happy Mother's Day

      Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers--biological mothers, adoptive mothers, play mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts, teachers, coaches, nurses, and so many other women who have served as mothers. A mother is a nurturer, and many women have fulfilled this call.

      I recently saw a remarkable video about nurturing--kangaroo mother care. It’s when a mother cuddles with her baby as close as she can, skin-to-skin. The premise behind kangaroo mother care is that babies thrive in the close, warm contact with their mothers. And this is especially beneficial to premature babies.


      In the video, the parents of the premature baby decided to use kangaroo mother care when doctors revealed to them their premature baby would die within two hours. But the baby survived. This video was taped six months after doctors pronounced the death sentence on the baby.

      Kangaroo mother care is the simple act of a mother placing the baby as close to her heart as possible. Many women do this all the time. Out of love, they provide the nurture others so desperately need. In an excerpt from her memoir Hard Choices, Hillary Rodham Clinton wrote about her mother's childhood. Dorothy Howell Rodham did not receive emotional support from her biological parents nor did she receive emotional support from her grandparents. Hillary wondered why this didn't make her mother bitter. Dorothy told her it was because of the compassion she had been shown from a couple of special women in her life. These were special "mothers" who held Dorothy close to their hearts. 

      A "mother's" love and nurture is life-sustaining. It can be enough to change a person's life.

      What precious memories do you have of a special mother who helped change your life? This is the story in you. Share it.


      Domonique


      References
      Clinton, H. (2014). Excerpt from Hard choices. Retrieved from http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/hillary-clinton-book-hard-choices/#1

      Howlifebegan. (March 12, 2012). Clincally dead baby revived by mother’s touch. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJ39-KJr_vA


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      Mother’s Day: A Day of Positive Reflections With or Without a Mother

      Mother’s Day without a mother doesn't have to be a sad occasion. When I was a child, in the community in which we lived, the tradition was to wear a flower to church on Mother’s Day: a red carnation if your mother was alive, a pink carnation if your mother was sick, and a white carnation if your mother was no longer alive.

      Having lost my mother several years ago, tradition would dictate I wear a white carnation to church on Mother’s Day. But I will not. Rather than dwell on the fact that Mamma is no longer alive, this Mother’s Day, I will dwell on how thankful I am to have had an opportunity to have her in my life.

      Mamma gave me unconditional love and taught me how to be self-disciplined and trustworthy. She taught me how to sew and cook. And Mamma understood me; we were both introverts. Moreover, she taught me about faith, hope, and love.

      As I reflect on the many things for which I am thankful, faith, hope, and love are three of the most invaluable gifts Mamma gave me because these gifts keep on giving.

      The Gift of Faith
      Mamma taught my siblings and me about faith. She taught us our first prayers and sent us to Sunday School. One of the first Bible scriptures she taught us was to Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:2). It didn't mean much to me as a child, but when I got older, I learned to appreciate the fact that she picked this scripture to focus on rather than the scripture about obeying your father and mother. When you grow up, you do not have to obey your parents, but it is admirable and beneficial to honor them—even when you don’t agree with them. Today, I use this gift of faith every day. I continue to have a spiritual relationship with my Creator, and I have taught my children about faith.

      The Gift of Hope
      Mamma knew how to live above the circumstances. She would redesign an outdated garment when she didn’t have the money to buy a new one. Mama would make turkey hash from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey meat and make turkey soup from the turkey bones. And she rearranged the furniture to make the living room look “new” when she could not buy new furniture. Mamma never dwelt on what we did not have. She always worked with what she had. Today, I use her gift of hope every day. I am an optimist. I can see the potential in something, and I always hope for a positive outcome.

      The Gift of Love
      My siblings and I laugh about this all the time: It was not until we became adults that we realized our family was probably in one of the lower economic brackets. And I thank my mother and father that we did not recognize this when we were children. Because Mamma and Daddy gave us unconditional love and provided a home that we were always happy to return to, we never missed what they could not afford to buy us. They also taught us how to demonstrate love and respect toward other people. Today, I use this gift of love every day. I try to treat others how they want to be treated. 

      I am thankful for the faith, hope, and love my mother gave me. But I also loved the quirky little things she did. When she thought we needed a spanking, she grabbed her comb and chased the four of us around the house. She never did catch us. Or, maybe she never intended to catch us. Mamma loved Nat King Cole's songs. On hot summer Saturday mornings, you could hear her singing, “Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa . . . Men have named you . . . You're so like the lady with the mystic smile . . .” as she dusted and vacuumed the house. She was a beautiful woman inside and out. I thought she was spectacular--perfect, but she would be the first one to tell you she was not perfect.

      Mothers are Like Diamonds
      When I graduated from college decades ago and secured my first job, after buying a car, I bought something I had always wanted: a pair of diamond stud earrings. I was impressed with an ad in the newspaper: $49.00 for ¼ carat diamond stud earrings. What I did not know before I bought them was that, deep within the diamonds, they were peppered with black specks. Diamonds are formed from the immense pressure from the layers within the earth. But sometimes all the carbon doesn't crystallize, and this results in black specks. Mothers are like diamonds. They are not perfect, but they are worthy of honor because they gave us life. 

      If you have animosity toward your mother, I encourage you to forgive. Holding on to grudges is toxic. I learned a valuable lesson about not forgiving from a guest speaker I had the pleasure of listening to. The man described a documentary on how monkeys are hunted. Hunters build a cage with a hole in it that is large enough for a monkey to put in its hand. The hunters lure monkeys by placing a banana inside the cage. A monkey would see the banana in the cage, discover the opening large enough for it to put in its hand, and then grab the banana. Hunters would descend upon the monkey and easily capture it because it would not let go of the banana. All the monkey had to do was let go of the banana, pull out its hand, and flee. Instead, the monkey maintained its hold on the banana as it tried to pull its hand out of the cage. The monkey’s weakness in not wanting to release the banana cost it its life. It reminds us that holding on to a grudge hurts us more than it hurts the other person. So, let go, and allow yourself to love and honor your mother, even though you may not agree with her or like what she has done. 

      This Mother’s Day, whether your mother is living or deceased, reflect on all the things for which you are thankful, even if it is only for one thing--that she gave you life


      How do you honor your mother? This is the story in you. Share it.


      Domonique 

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