Posts Tagged 'family'

My Favorite Holiday

What is YOUR favorite holiday?

My favorite holiday is this week!  Although I am not one to turn down seconds on moist turkey and dressing, tasty veggies, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, and my own delicious pumpkin pie, I will tell you that food is not the primary reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.

My reason is a bit philosophical I suppose. To me Thanksgiving is the “purest” holiday,  the one most free of commercialization. Think about it: retailers jump from Halloween to Christmas- with very little if any space dedicated to Thanksgiving sentiment and decorations.  After all, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, being grateful, expressing gratitude. It boils down to celebrating an attitude…and acknowledging that what we have as a country and individuals, as Abraham Lincoln said in his original proclamation, are ‘gracious gifts of the most high God.”  Thanking God is not exactly politically correct or socially acceptable in all circles today.

That being said, I’d like to acknowledge three things for which I am thankful, and in doing so, I believe you will get a snapshot of who I am today.

First, I’m thankful for my faith. As a teenager, I realized that I wasn’t good enough to get to heaven on my own merit. I needed someone else’s perfect life.  I came to the point of understanding that person was Jesus Christ and that what He did for me in dying on the cross almost 2000 years ago, changed my relationship with God forever. The result has been a confidence in my future hope after death.  Now regardless of what is going on in the world, I have an ongoing personal relationship with God my Father who continues to give me good things.

A second thing I’m thankful for is my family. My husband Ed (next month we will celebrate 35 years together!) is a pastor-teacher-professor.

Ed and Mari in Saguaro NP

We have had churches in a number of cities in Florida, Illinois, and Ohio. We parented two outstanding boys, Daniel and Nathan, now ages 30 and 28. As a result of our decision to homeschool, we are very close as a family and have many wonderful memories of special adventures.  Both boys are married to wonderful Christian women, and both are fathers. Daniel, who lives here in Gilbert, has two sons, ages 3 and 1

Greyson, age 3

Sawyer, 1st BD

Erica, Nathan, Jackson (3 mo)

and Nathan, living near Seattle, has one son, 7 months old.

We are thankful that with our move to San Tan Valley about a month ago, we are on the same time zone- at least some of the year.

In addition to being thankful for my faith and my family, I am thankful for the many freedoms that we have because we live in the United States. I’m thinking especially of the freedom to pursue our dreams in our own way.  Let me explain how that looks in my life.

When we made a decision in 1998 for Ed to return to seminary, I began to consider a home business opportunity. I didn’t want to go back into the classroom; I didn’t want to work for a small hourly wage for someone else and be told when I could take a break, when I could take vacation, etc. I dreamed of an opportunity that would provide an income that I could truly work from home.

I found it in an unexpected way. I was introduced to a children’s nutritional product that my boys actually liked- a gummi-bear that was actually 12 fruits and vegetables.

I figured I could talk to other moms who would be just as thrilled as I was to find something that could pass through our kids’ mouths and count for fruits and vegetables! My business was a good extension of my previous career as a health and physical education teacher and coach. I have appreciated the continuing education training that I have gotten in nutrition. I am certified as a weight management advisor. Today I am working with a team of social entrepreneurs to provide a solution to global malnutrition of children.  Our goal is to link 5 million consumers to 5 million kids who need nutrition, not just food.  I think you can see that the dreams that I am dreaming today are much bigger than 14 years ago!

Countries served by GFR

Thanksgiving 2008 was the last time that we were all together as a family.  Nathan was in the States on a 2-week leave from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 101st.  We all met in PA. Daniel and Erin told us that we were going to be grandparents (and now we have 3 grandsons!!). We enjoyed a crazy Black Friday walking in NYC (that should tell you something about our family!!).

This year we will be with Daniel and family in Gilbert for dinner and then host them for my delicious pumpkin pie at our house.  At some point in the afternoon, we will connect with the Seattle DeZago’s via FaceTime.  What a special day!

In sharing my favorite holiday, I hope that I have given you some food for thought so that you can enjoy Thanksgiving this year with more gratitude than ever before.

Mari

(I shared these thoughts with my new Toastmasters Club in San Tan Valley last night.  I know this is longer than my regular posts.  Thanks for reading today!)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Below are 5 suggested action steps.  Pick one…but be careful!  It could change your life!

If you have an interest in the nutrition that we are providing for children around the world, watch this video.

If you are interested in starting on an effective and affordable nutritional plan, click here.

If you have any questions about the need to take responsibility for your lifestyle choices, especially food, click here to watch a 4 minute video.

If you want to receive my bi-monthly ezine, Wellness Notes,  send me an email (or text 614.804.0291) requesting that your name be added to the list. First issue was sent out Nov. 8.

If there is any way that I can serve you, just let me know with an email to mari.dezago@gmail.com

Take My Hand…

Ed and I were walking recently at Highbanks, one of our metroparks.  About 7 miles of trails that include hills, stairs, and straight-aways make Highbanks an attractive place for casual and serious walkers, as well as families.

Highbanks trail

Highbanks stream

On this particular day, as we were walking up the ‘very long hill,’ we came upon a mom with three children, a young boy about 4, a girl about 6 and the oldest girl about 8.

Interesting, all three children had ‘walking sticks.’  The girls were using them in ‘walking-stick fashion’- that is, holding the stick at one end, planting the other end, and allowing the stick to help them walk.  The young boy, however, was brandishing the stick like a sword.  You might ask, ‘How can that be???’  We had boys—we weren’t asking that question!

The girls were ahead on the trail, but the mom was with the young boy.  ‘I can’t make it up the hill,’ we heard him say to his mom.

‘Take my hand, and let’s do it together!’ the mom wisely answered as we passed them…and I believe that together they got up the hill.

What a great visual for the best way to get a job done!

What about you?

Is there a project under your direction that is lagging? It could be in your family, it could be at work, it could be a church or community project.  Is there someone who is falling behind with his or her responsibility in the project?  Do they need some assistance?  Do they need some encouragement?

Would it help if you simply said,

“Let’s do it together!”

Go for it!  And let me know what happens when you do.  I’d be delighted if you would leave your comments below.

Plan B or C or D…

To say that we were totally surprised simply would not be true.  We knew there was a chance of this happening.  But to get the phone call that the kids were getting off the train was a reality check for sure— and more prayers immediately flowed upward.

We (that is Ed and I) seem to be living much of our lives in Plan B.  Does anyone out there identify?

Plan A was going to take place the first week of April. Hard to remember the details now, but the timing didn’t work for everyone. A plan was hatched for assisting Nathan (second son, recently discharged from the Army) and Erica his wife (due with their first child mid-May) relocate to Seattle, where Erica’s parents live.  The house is big enough for all of them, which will help out the kids tremendously.

My travel plans had included traveling to Ft. Worth and attending Mannatech’s International Conference, April 12-15, which I did, returning home at midnight on the 15th.  Amidst great excitement at the launch of our product NutriVerus, as well as a variety of business tools, I refocused and realized that I needed to drive to TN on Wednesday instead of Friday—so I did.

I got the kids packed up, moved all of their belongings into storage for the Army to move on April 30, and on Friday we three headed for Chicago.  After a great evening with family on Friday night, we got them to their Amtrak train and they left on Saturday afternoon due to arrive  46 hours later in Seattle, where they would be met by Erica’s parents.

Sunday night we got a call from Nathan that they were getting off the train in Whitefish, MT and heading for the hospital.  Jackson was not going to wait until they got settled in Seattle—he wanted his own story!

With much prayer, many stories of angels helping along the way, and healthcare professionals doing an excellent job, Jackson arrived into the world at 5:39 pm on Monday, April 23, about 3 weeks early.  He is little (just 4 pounds and 11 oz), but all systems are go!  Erica is in good spirits, Nathan is thoroughly enjoying the interaction he is having with his son, and Jackson is eating and sleeping!  Sounds like a family has been born!

Nathan expects that they will be able to continue their trip Friday (they have a sleeper compartment- yeah!), and plan to arrive in Seattle Saturday morning, ready to start a new life, in a new location, with a new baby.

Mari’s comments for living: My observation is that we are often living in Plan B or C or D…but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t write down Plan A!

Listen to some words of wisdom from Proverbs 16: 9- The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Life lesson: We are supposed to plan—but we have to realize that God is the director!

What is your experience? Do you live in your Plan A…or is it usually B or C or D?  How do you respond when plans change?

OR

What do you think of our newest addition to the family?

Would love to read your comments below.

customized gift from Greataunt Deb O.

Sporting a gift quilt from the Senior Center

Oh by the way, here are several photos of the newest star of the DeZago family! Yes, Jackson is our THIRD grandson!!!

Checking out his world!

A Productive Week for My Mom

My mom is 89 years old, and doing GREAT.  We are all so very proud of her.  In fact I’ve written three other posts about her.  Now, almost two years later, Mom still lives independently in her two-bedroom cottage on the same campus for seniors.  She still enjoys participating in regular activities up at the main building: exercise classes including time in the pool, dominoes, chapel, root beer floats, and special programs.  Last week, she told me about attending a class where she made chocolate roses- yummmm!

Mom celebrating her 89th birthday

Mom is still involved in off-campus activities. She attends a weekly Bible study (and still does the homework), a weekly seniors group at her church, a monthly seniors group at another church (seniors tend to be attracted to group settings where a meal is provided!), and  weekly church services.  Because my brother and sister live nearby, Mom stays very connected to immediate family as well.  Even though her grandchildren are not local, mom interacts with all three and now two great-grandsons via phone, emails, and even texting and video chats!  You certainly can teach an old dog new tricks! Mom is proof of that!

In spite of regular weekly events, there are still 24 hours in a day to fill, and you can only sleep, eat, and party so much.  So what does a senior Senior do with his/her time?

This week Mom sent me a note – yes, a handwritten note in the mail- that was priceless. Here’s what she wrote:

Sorry about the delay but you know how busy I am (or can think I am).  However did have a productive week (which I think means I didn’t misplace too many items that I had to seek- which means I wasn’t quite as busy in that sense looking for them!)

You see, Mom has observed that she and her friends lose things constantly, and a major part of their day is spent looking for them!  She has adopted a new philosophy that she easily shares with her senior friends when the conversation turns to what they have lost lately.  Mom says, “Oh, it’s not lost.  It’s just misplaced. You’ll find it in its new place!”

So how do you measure a productive week? Would love to read your comments below!

To Plan or Not to Plan. Is That the Question? Part 3

If you have read my two previous blogs, you probably agree that planning doesn’t guarantee results.  Sometimes when you don’t plan, the results are amazing, i.e., the unexpected adventure in the elephant yard at the Phoenix Zoo.  Sometimes when you plan, the results are amazing, i.e., getting lost in the desert for 3 hours!  Sometimes when you plan, you have to be flexible and re-schedule, i.e., Daniel’s birthday dinner.

However, if you look at each of those situations (and please feel free to add your own), you would probably agree that overall planning is required.  These three incidents all took place in Phoenix, and we live in Columbus, OH.  We were involved in them because we planned to be in Phoenix Jan. 1-10. That involved schedule considerations, airline reservations, finances, and family communication.

Planning for the birthday dinner meant that Erin, our daughter-in-law, came up with the idea, made the reservation, and asked us prior to our trip if we would be willing to baby-sit for the boys on the same day we arrived.  Of course, we had no problem saying yes.

Planning for the hike started years ago when we realized that hiking was an activity that combined our desire to explore the country close up and personal, to be outdoors, to be physically active, to observe and identify birds in the wild, etc. But this particular hike required a number of considerations I mentioned in my blog: the purchase of an appropriate guidebook, family schedule, food prep, communication.  Each of those considerations took some time and forethought.

I think you get the idea.

Planning takes place on many different levels.

Setting goals (where so many people start) is, I believe,  the result of dreaming, of creating a vision. Planning is a natural outcome of setting goals. Writing down what you want to do, what you want to have, what you want to be, where you want to go, what you want to see, is an almost meaningless activity if you don’t take that list to the next level and put some Realization Procedures in place.

Sharing these recent incidents with you from our lives was helpful for me.  I realized again that the experiences I treasure the most are the result of dreaming and visualizing the future, and not the result of  a to do list.

I didn’t hear a lot of chatter about New Year’s Resolutions last year in December.  Perhaps more of us are realizing that any changes have to be made in a bigger context of: ‘Why do I want to do this? Why is this important to me? What difference will it make in my life, in me, if I make this change, or have this experience?’ Thinking, ‘I need to lose weight,’ just doesn’t work.

What does all of this have to do with wellness?

Much.

People who have purpose, who have direction, who have passion are catalysts. They make things happen. They  seem to be healthier, have better relationships, and probably have fewer chronic health challenges.

My first suggestion is to be or become a person of purpose.  Find something bigger than yourself that will fill you with passion, maybe even make you ‘scary’ to some people because you have an awesome reason for getting out of bed each morning-and it isn’t a paycheck!**

Once you’ve discovered your purpose, then dream and visualize how the process of fulfilling your purpose will shape your life in 2012- and beyond.

Next,  take some time to write down what actions you are going to take as you head in that direction. There are books, CD’s, apps, courses, and coaches who are very capable of helping you get started and keeping you on track.

A small conclusion to the matter at hand might be the lyrics of a song  popularized by Bing Crosby in the 1944 movie Going My Way.

(Chorus) Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar?                                        And be better off than you are?

Or would you rather be a mule?

A mule is an animal with long funny ears. He kicks up at anything he hears.

His back is brawny and his brain is weak. He’s just plain stupid with a stubborn streak.

And by the way, if you hate to go to school, you may grow up to be a mule.

(Chorus)

Or would you rather be a fish?

A fish is an animal that swims in a brook. He can’t write his name or read a book.

To fool the people is his only thought and though he’s slippery, he still gets caught.

If that’s all of life is what you wish, you may grow up to be a fish.

(Chorus)

Or would you rather be a pig?

A pig is an animal with dirt on his face. His shoes are a terrible disgrace.

He’s got no manners when he eats his food.  He’s fat and lazy and extremely rude.

But if you don’t care a feather or a fig, you may grow up to be a pig.

(Chorus)

And all the monkeys aren’t in the zoo- every day you see quite a few.

So you see, it’s all up to you.

You could be better than you are.

You could be swinging on a star.

Seems to say that dreaming is the ticket to a new you!   What do you think?

(**BTW, if you are stuck on this part of the process, get in touch with me via phone, text or email and I’ll be glad to help you get started.)

To Plan or Not to Plan. Is That the Question? Part 2

I looked at my watch. I turned to my husband Ed and said, “It’s 4:30.  I think we are officially lost. What do you want to do?”

Ed’s response, “Whatever we do, we have to do quickly. There’s not much daylight left.”

We quickly took stock of our situation: we had followed the trail next to a wash, had crossed onto the rocks looking for the continuation of the trail, and ended up in the  corner  of a canyon, staring at two walls of sheer cliff about 300’ high.  There was no trail to continue forward; we figured we had 45 minutes to an hour left of daylight, and both of our cell phones were dead. Of course our cell phones had our GPS location, communication with the outside world, and a flashlight app.

How did we get here?

We PLANNED it!

Well, loosely speaking…we did.

Ed and I had decided a few days previously that we would take a hike in the desert on Monday, our last full day in Phoenix.  We planned accordingly.  Ed had purchased a book of loop hikes in Arizona, hikes where you start and finish at the same point.  He picked hike #44, called Garden Valley.  The trail was in the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, about 30 minutes from Gilbert where the kids live.  The description of the trail gave every indication that we would enjoy our time: the trail was 8.6 miles long, taking about 5 hours to complete, and was rated moderate- which is one notch up from easy.  We had snacks, PB and J sandwiches for lunch, water and my sports nutrition drink, binoculars for bird watching, and the hiking book. Most of these items were in the backpack that I carried.  Yes, I did feel a bit like a packmule, but because I carried the pack, I made sure we stopped for snacks and water as that lightened my load.   So that was a good thing.

These photos give you an idea of what we were hiking through.

Ed leading on the Dutchman's Trail

Weaver's Needle, an important landmark

A wash along the trail

Ed standing by a Saguaro Cactus gives perspective about size

Although I did periodically simply stop and look around to enjoy the beautiful setting of the trail, and Ed would stop to identify an unknown bird call- we kept moving at a good pace.  At one point, Ed commented, ‘This is taking us too long.  We should have been back by now.” A short time later, we found ourselves cornered in the canyon.

We prayed for signs, and as we backtracked, we did indeed see trail signs that we had not seen before.  I interpreted three stacked rocks as ‘This is the path, no turn here,’ remembering trailblazing signs from Girl Scouts. This week I discovered that there are other meanings for that particular trailblazing sign, so I am extremely thankful that the Lord gave us good direction in spite of my faulty memory!

We finally arrived at our car in the trailhead parking lot at 5:45 pm, and drove out of the park with the sun sinking quickly behind the mountains, very mindful of the Lord’s graciousness in giving us the signs that we needed when we needed them.

Bottom line: our PLAN was a simple 5-hour hike, and that’s what we prepared for. Reality was a 7-hour hike, including about three hours of being lost in the desert, and that’s what we were unprepared for!

PLANNING gave us a very unexpected result, which required a heightened dependence on the Lord Jesus. This hiking adventure  was a clear reminder that ‘A person plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9).’

So did these two personal illustrations give any clarity to your own decision about planning for 2012?  To plan or not to plan?

Read Part 3 for my response.

To Plan or Not to Plan. Is That the Question? Part 1

Hard to believe that half of January is gone. You may be one of those people who has been hearing conversation, reading articles, listening to your own conscience…about setting goals, making plans for 2012—but you still haven’t written anything down.

You may have  done the typical New Year’s Resolutions in the past- and not succeeded…OK, you put a new practice into place for one day, and then forgot about doing it the second day. Sounds familiar.

It is possible that because of your previous experience, you may be hesitant- perhaps resistant?- to even think about planning.

Let me share a couple of experiences I have had in the past week to further confuse the issue.

Ed (husband) and I flew to Phoenix early  on Jan. 1 to share in Daniel’s  (oldest son) 30th birthday celebration.  THE PLAN for the evening was that Erin was going to surprise Daniel with a dinner reservation at a Brazilian restaurant in Scottsdale and we would watch the boys.  Great plan—except that Daniel didn’t feel real great, and food, especially a nice dinner, was not top of mind!

So THE PLAN was postponed until Thursday night, when everyone felt great, and the details worked out just fine.

Hurray for flexibility!

Saturday, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful 70-something sunshine of Phoenix and walk around the Phoenix Zoo.  THE PLAN was to walk around the zoo, simply enjoying the day together.

We eventually got to the elephant yard, only to discover that the three elephants were safely behind closed doors. However, feeding would take place shortly so we decided to wait. A zoo keeper came out and asked for volunteers to join her in ‘hiding carrots’ which the elephants would then look for and eat.  This activity is done daily to keep the elephants’ minds active. (Is there a clue here about challenging activity being necessary to keep OUR minds active?)

Greyson (age 2 1/2) was definitely up for the adventure, so he and I picked up two carrots, headed out into the yard, and Erin followed us with her camera.

Picking up our carrots

Looking for a hiding place

Finding a hiding spot

Completing the task

We couldn’t have planned it any better!

What about you? Have you had a recent serendipity happening that was unforgettable? Share it below!

PS Notice this is part 1.  Come back to read about another Phoenix adventure in part 2.