Maggie’s Thought for the Month: Just Show Up

One of the top selling book categories is how to be successful. The best advice I received on being successful- ‘Just Show Up’.

Maggie was always there when I needed her. After a long day at work, she was waiting at the door to greet me. If I was working in the yard, and someone came on our property, she was right at my side to protect me. She remembered neighbors daily walk times, and was always at the fence waiting to say hello & maybe get a treat. Day or night, I could always count on Maggie to show up.

We live in a world that changes quicker than any other time in our past. People are constantly trying to make themselves marketable, employable or the most valuable on the team. I’ve learned the most important quality to have is to just be there.  When I need help on a task, the quality I look for in the person to ask is not the smartest or strongest person. It’s the person who is going to show up- and be there until the job is done.

Maybe being successful is 1% Luck and 99% Dedication.

The Last House That Dad Built

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Recently I was cleaning my guest room, which also serves as a shrine to some traveling memorabilia & childhood memories. I noticed a photo taken in DeSmet, South Dakota; the last house that Pa Ingalls built.

I thought about a time when people had to rely on their neighbors and natural resources to survive and protect their family. I wondered if people today would be so altruistic to help another need. Then, I remembered a house my dad built- and it didn’t cost a penny.

In 1979, my dad built a playhouse for my sister and me. It was truly built from the generosity of neighbors, family, and friends. The door, nails, most of the wood & roof shingles came from donations of what people had ‘extra’ in their garage or basement. Maybe it helped that my dad was a pack-rat, and always saved things because ‘you never know when you can use them again’.

The last house that dad built became a hang out for the neighborhood kids. Our mother always knew where we were, and who were our friends. It transitioned from a pretend school house, to walls lined with posters from Tiger Beat magazine. Later on, it became a shed for mom’s flower pots & gardening tools.

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The little house is now gone, but the lessons learned will last a lifetime. Most people are kind, think twice before you throw something away, and the best memories are usually the ones that never cost a penny.

Maggie’s Thought for the Month: Be a First Rate Thinker

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The dictionary defines a thinker as an intellectually creative person. Therefore, a true thinker, thinks their own thoughts- right?

Maggie was constantly praised for her great thinking skills. She seemed to know the daily schedule, had the ability to solve her own problems (like getting a very large bone thru her doggie door),  and coerce visitors to give her treats.  Maggie solved those expensive doggie games- guaranteed to keep your pet entertained for hours- within minutes. She was a first rate thinker!

In today’s world, we often ridicule people for not thinking the same way. Don’t we need an eclectic group of thinkers to create a world of diversity? If our world was not filled with diversity, how would we prosper by sharing the same thoughts?  Maybe we should worry less about what people are thinking, and worry more about how we treat each other when our thoughts disagree.

“The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking.”A.A. Milne

Travels with Sissy: Sharpe Hill Vineyard

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When someone mentions the word vineyard, most visualize Napa Valley or Sonoma, California. Who knew Connecticut has its own hidden treasure of vineyards, too.

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Travel along Route 44 in the quiet Northeast corner of Connecticut, and you will see many signs directing to various vineyards in the state. My travels, one summer day, took me to Sharpe Hill Vineyard in Pomfret. The quiet back road, aligned with stone walls, sets the mood for a relaxing day with good wine, food, & conversation.

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The staff at Sharpe Hill Vineyard welcomes you upon entering the front door of the red barn. Patrons can purchase a bottle of wine, and enjoy the scenery while sitting on the patio. Another option is lunch or dinner to be enjoyed at the restaurant.

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The restaurant at Sharpe Hill Vineyard is on the second floor of an adjacent building to the main entrance. As you walk up the steep, wooden, spiral staircase- the aroma of food fills the air. The room is small, so reservations are required. The staff carefully explains the choices of appetizers, selection of wines, and how each meal is prepared.

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Vineyards offer something for everyone- whether a relaxing day with friends, or a romantic get away. Whatever season you prefer, Sharpe Hill Vineyard has something planned to make their guests feel relaxed, special, and planning a return trip.

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Maggie’s Thought for the Month: It’s Okay to Say Goodbye

Baby Maggie

All too often we try to make everyone else around us happy, and our own happiness takes second place. We play a tug of war in our mind- should I stay or should I leave.

One of the things I admired most about Maggie was her ability to make a decision and stick with it. Once, she waited a solid fifteen minutes until a toad finally came out from hiding behind the steps. She was staying until she got that toad- it made her happy. Other times, she would get bored with the other neighborhood dogs and just walk back to her yard. She didn’t care if the other dogs started to bark, she just kept walking back to her blanket & chewy toy.

During our lifetime, we will meet an eclectic group of people. All of the people we meet, whether we realize it or not, serve a purpose. Some people will provide the words of wisdom or physical materials we need to get us to the next step. Others will stay a little longer; helping us stand tall, and provide constant reminders that we are going in the right direction. At times, it will seem like we will never be able to survive without their presence. Eventually though, only a few will consistently remain in our lives for our time on Earth.

How do we know when it’s time to say goodbye, or feel okay when someone says goodbye to us? I’m not sure what the correct answer is, but I do know Maggie had the right response when the decision was made- don’t look back.

Travels with Sissy: Christmas in Mystic

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During this busy time of year, it’s nice to be reminded of simpler times and the true meaning of the holiday season. If you’re longing for a reminder, visit Mystic Seaport’s Lantern Light Tours.

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The Lantern Light Tour is more like a story being told, while you walk to each scene in the movie. This year, the story is ‘The Nut-Cracker Sweets’. Our walk to the ship, P.I. Tchaikovsky, begins the story with Captain Goober describing his delicious goods from far off countries- such as pistachios, walnuts, almonds and pecans. However, our ‘guide’ Marie Stahlbaum who owns the Sweet Shop in town, tells of her family’s very magical nut cracker that is missing. Captain Goober suggests visiting the other merchants and people in town to solve the nut cracker mystery, and insure all the delicious treats will be made in time for Christmas Day.

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Our visits to Mrs. Fruitcake’s home, the Shellman Residence, the Dewdrop Inn, and the School House provided light-hearted stories, dancing & laughter to help find the magical nut cracker. It also provided a reminder of how special it was to receive cookies made from that spice from far away- ginger; or the excitement of finding an orange in your stocking.

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The end of the tour at Mr. Drosselmeyer’s Workshop, a man who is new to Mystic and visiting from somewhere up north, helps Marie with her problem. He provides her with an exact replica of the magical nutcracker her family received many years ago from a ‘traveler’ passing thru town. He also reminds Marie that the ‘magic’ of the nut cracker is not something within the nut cracker that makes her families sweets so delicious. The magic is from the kindness & love given, while preparing the special gifts to loved ones and friends.

The light from a lantern reminds us of a time when a star provided the same lesson… Love & Kindness is the greatest gift of all.

Maggie’s Thought for the Month: Sometimes Your Destiny Is Behind a Closed Door

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There are many quotes about finding your destiny. I can quickly recall the quote about when a door is closed, God opens a window. I’d like to think sometimes finding your destiny involves a little door kicking.

Maggie was always sniffing. She especially liked to sniff around things that she couldn’t get into. For example, the basement door in our home was always closed.  I would constantly find her sniffing the crack between the door and the floor- with tail wagging of course. Other times, she would be outside sniffing along the fence that enclosed our yard. If she found something of interest, she would continue to pester me until I investigated the area with her. She would not give up until her curiosity was answered.

Some people believe your destiny is written before you are born. I think life would be very mundane if that was true. No matter what you did in life, the end result would never be your decision. I believe we have many paths to choose from in life. Your results depend on how willing you are to take chances, follow your heart, trust your instincts, and, sometimes, be willing to kick in a few doors.

‘Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.’ William Jennings Bryan