When my husband Gary and I were first married, he would laughingly call me “Pollyanna” –the girl who always saw the good in every situation. Through the years, I have to admit there have been times when that quality has failed me, when things were so bad I didn’t know what we were going to do. I know we’ve all had “those” times. But in general, I’m one of those people who does try to see the good in things.

I think I “learned” to do that from my mom. I thought a lot about this over the last few weeks—fall makes me remember and miss my parents more than any other time of the year. One night Gary and I were talking about the things our parents had taught us, and I told him one thing my mom taught me was to look on the bright side of things.

I imagine she had to do a lot of that, being the oldest of eleven children in the Dustbowl days of Oklahoma—which was also during The Great Depression. Growing up, I remember how she’d comment on things that meant nothing to me…at the time.

“Oh, Cheryl, I saw the first robin today! That means spring is on the way,” she’d say, with a smile. 

And? my young brain would ask. So, spring is on the way.

When spring came along, maybe she’d comment on how green the trees were, or how blue the sky was today—just look at those clouds!

Now that I’m older, I realize why these things were important and such a cause of joy to her.

Growing up dirt poor in a small house that had no insulation and very little heat, I’m sure that seeing the first robin was important because it meant those cold days and nights would soon be at an end and warm weather was soon to blow in.

The green of the trees meant there was enough rain to allow things to grow—something I know, as the oldest in such a large family, she was acutely aware of  since my grandfather was a hardscrabble farmer and had so many mouths to feed. What a relief, especially here in Oklahoma, that there had been plentiful rain and things were growing well!


The blue of the sky—can you imagine growing up in a time when you could look outside and see billowing gales of dust—and nothing else? Animals had to be put up in the barn, families had to be inside, and still, the houses were so poorly constructed there would be layers of dust on the windowsills once the dust storm had passed. So a blue sky was important—no dust, and those beautiful white clouds must have looked heavenly in her eyes.


Mama always found happiness in the small things—small in MY eyes.  A good meal she’d cooked for her family, getting the laundry done and put away for the week, finding a good sale on orange juice—yes, those were the days when people would look through the Sunday or Wednesday paper at the grocery store ads, make several stops to find the things at each store that were on sale, and several trips home to put the perishables away—a very different time.

It was not just the fact of the accomplishment itself, but what it meant to her from the things that had happened in her past. A good meal meant there was enough food to go around for everyone, served on a matching set of dishes. No one went to bed hungry. Laundry being done meant that everyone had clothes for a solid week—not one or two good dresses that had to be laundered over and over. Making the rounds of the different grocery stores and finding good “deals” meant she was able to provide some extras with what Dad made in the oilfield. She knew how hard he worked. She never took anything for granted.

So though I didn’t have the past that Mama had—mine was much easier in comparison—I think I learned that attitude through watching her. I’m sure there were times she wanted to just go into the bathroom and have a good cry, but instead, she looked for the good, and found it.


I think of her every time I see that first robin. What a gift that has been to me, in so many ways. Part of writing is thinking about our characters and WHY they act and react like they do. This realization about seeing the good in things has been a whole new area of enlightenment for me. I understand so many of my characters even more than I did when I wrote them—their reasoning, and their motivations.


Do you have an aspect to your personality that you inherited or learned from one of your parents or another family member? What is it? Do you think that these behavior patterns can be multi-generational? My mind is whirling! What do you think?


One of my fave pics of Mama and Daddy–taken April 9, 1991 on their 47th wedding anniversary.

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
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  1. LOVE that photo! I’m a Pollyanna as well. I can’t take credit – came in with it, but I don’t know anyone in my family who is…my grandparents were all gone before I was old enough to know them, so it could have passed from them…

    • Laura, I think my mom’s mother must have been that way to a great extent too. She’d had to have been to have survived those times, I believe. And though she passed away when I was pretty young, I remember she usually had a smile on her face when we’d go visit.

    • Debra, I don’t think I’m like my siblings either. I have two sisters who are quite a lot older than I am, so both of them were out of the house by the time I was 8. The older I get the more I see certain traits that I recognize from my mom and dad in myself, though.

  2. What a great story. I loved this.
    I think as I’ve gotten older I see a lot of my mom in my personality. I’m drawn to caring about others and always wanting to help if I possibly can.
    I also have my Dad’s stubbornness and opinionated quality. I also have been know you draw 1st impressions on people and once that is established it’s hard to break.

    • Tonya, isn’t it funny that we see these things in ourselves as we get older? My mom was always cheering for the underdog and she did want to help anyone she could. Funny you should mention your dad’s stubbornness. LOL Mine was that same way–when he made up his mind about something, that was how it was going to be–but in all fairness, I will say, he DID try to look at all sides of something before he made up his mind. So that was a bonus. I’m quick to decide on things and sometimes don’t have “the big picture” to judge by. That’s what I’m trying to work on. LOL

  3. My mom used to remind us kids not to let the joy stealers steal our joy. People always tell me that I look on the bright side of things, so it reminds me of her. I carry music in my heart because of her. She was an accomplished pianist and soloist. My mom was passionate about her faith and really it was faith that sustained her through great trials in life. Giving … oh could she give of her talents whether it be musically or sharing her baked goods.

    Cheryl, thank you for sharing from your heart. Loved your parents photo too. Just pure happiness. Taking pause to remember our roots is good for the soul. I was and am blessed with rich memories to build upon.

    • Oh, Kathy, I love that–not letting “joy stealers” steal your joy. And boy are there a lot of THEM out there! LOL My mom had a beautiful voice, too, and sang wonderfully. I always thought, in another time, another place, she could have truly been “a star”–she had the looks and the talent, but so much of being successful in something like that is being in the right place at the right time, and the stars didn’t align for her in that arena.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I’ve had it on my mind and in my heart for quite a while now–it was time to share it, and hopefully to be a gift for others to reflect on sweet memories of their own! Thanks so much for stopping by, Kathy!

  4. My Mom was a great believer in never giving up. I keep trying until I usually succeed in what endeavor I undertake.

    • My mom felt that way, too, Estella. One of the things I remember so well that she said to us was “You can’t win if you don’t enter the race.” I’ve thought of that so often. And once she made up her mind to do something, she worked at it until she got it done. I wish I could be more like that.

  5. The Schofield (my maiden name) coat of arms has three bulls’ heads on it. We always joke there aren’t enough. Like many others in my family I’m stubborn and determined, sometimes to the point of obstinancy. But that has served me well at times in my life when I needed yo lead.

    • HA! That made me laugh out loud, Jess! I wish I knew what our coat of arms was. I’m working on my genealogy right now, so hopefully, that will be revealed at some point. I agree–being “stubborn” is not always a bad thing. It can sure get you through some awfully tough times!

  6. Good morning! Great blog, it made me take a walk down memory lane. I can honestly say I do not miss the dust storms from when I was a child and lived in the Texas Panhandle. I can’t imagine livint thru the Dust Bowl and Great Depression at the same time. I currently live in hot and humid East Texas and I’m leaning toward wishing I could get out of this humidity. I don’t believe I’d pick the Texas Panhandle though. If it wasn’t so far from all my family and I was moving but staying in Texas i might would move back to El Paso.

    Traits, I’m a worrier and I got that from both my parents unfortunately but I’m an optimist too which I’m not really sure where I got that from. I’m patient and i got that from my mother. I’m a good worker and have a great work ethic which I got from my daddy. I keep and save way too much stuff, “because someone may need it” and I got that from my Nanny. I try to see the best in everyone and I’m not sure where I got that from, but it is probably from being the next to youngest of 7 and my baby sister came along 8 years after me so I was the baby for a long time. I’m a “the cup is half full kind of person” too and again I’m not sure where that came from. I think I may have actually gotten that from my step-mother. I lived with my daddy and step-mother from the summer before 8th grade on and spent a lot of time with them the two years prior.

    Be safe in these uncertain times.

    • Oh, I hear you about the humidity! When we moved to West Virginia for a stint back in the 70’s, I thought I was going to just melt every single day. It rained down, and then it rained ‘up’–and good grief was it horrible, after being raised in Oklahoma! LOL

      I’m a worrier, too. And boy, I’m the same way about keeping way too much “stuff”–but—I’m going to dive in and start cleaning it all out. I’ve said that before but this time I really mean it. It’s time. And in this day and age, the stuff I have kept means something only to me.

      I’m so glad you stopped by today! Sounds like we have a lot in common.

  7. Such a wonderful story and memory to share – I think what we learn as children really has no meaning until we are older – just like cooking – grew up cooking without a recipe as my Mom, her Mom and her Mom did and how I have taught my daughters as well! This is sometimes quite the topic of conversation at our holiday meals!!

    • My mom and my two sisters could all cook without a recipe. I NEED A RECIPE. LOL If I have something to ‘go by’ I can improvise as I go along, but I need a starting point. I wish I was more like them and able to just come up with something, but that is not my strong suit. LOL

  8. What a great blog, loved it. I think we get a lot from our parents and don’t realize it. I am one of these people that still shops around to get the best prices on groceries. Right now you kind of half to with the way groceries going up every day. I also never use a recipe when I am cooking something. My mother and older sister taught me to cook.

    • Quilt Lady, I was just saying above I wished I could cook without a recipe. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen with my mom when I was growing up, because by the time I came along, my sisters were already on their way to being grown at 10 and 12 when I was born. Dad worked odd hours in the oilfields, so a lot of the time it was just Mom and me, and so we didn’t have a lot of big meals going by then. I missed out on that. I think you are right–we DO get a lot from our parents and don’t realize it until we are older, for sure. As a teen, I’d have been highly insulted to think I was anything at all like my parents! LOL

  9. Even though my mom was the older of two, it sounds like she was a copy of your mom. And I learned the same from her. I am the oldest of five and I had the privilege of sharing this with my siblings, than my two children.

    • Lori, I have often thought about how many people from those generations that came before had to adopt this attitude in order to survive and to find some kind of happiness amidst the strife in their lives. It could not have been easy! I’m so glad to hear you say you have “shared” this attitude with your siblings and your children. That is such a gift. I was the youngest in my family, but always did try to teach my kids to see the good in situations.

  10. Love the picture of your parents and your memories of your mother. The greatest gift my mother gave me, and the way I’m most like her, is my love of reading. She read to me as a child and when she took me to our downtown public library for the first time, I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

    • I love that picture, too. Just makes me smile every time I see it.

      What a wonderful thing to say about your mother! I hope my kids will think that about me, too, as they get older. I read to them every night before bed. It was such a wonderful time to talk, and be together, and even if some nights were “shorter” than others in our reading time, we always did it. I hope they will remember that. We read together in the evenings even when they were up in middle school. I think we all hated to give up that time together, and I’m so glad we had it. Your mother realized how important that was. I think the love of reading is tied together with those feelings of being with someone you dearly love and doing something together, don’t you? My parents read to me a lot, too, and when I think about it and dissect it, I believe that’s one of the main reasons I grew up loving books and writing them, as well as reading them.

  11. Chery; what sweet memories. I think you take after your mom a lot. That’s a great pic of her and your dad. My mom also was one who looked on the bright side of things and she was a laugher. Hardly nothing got her down.

    • Linda, that is so sweet of you to say–it means a lot. And knowing this about both our moms, I can truly say, I think that about YOU, too! You always have a smile on your face. It’s rare to find people who genuinely do try to see the good side of things, look on the bright side, see the cup half full–however you want to put it–and when you find them, they are generally happier than others, despite what they might have been through. It’s all in the outlook! Thanks for being “one of those” people, and for being such a good friend. Love you, filly sister! XOXO

  12. Those are some beautiful memories of your mom. My mom was poor also. We were 6 kiddos and we always had everything we needed plus more. Our birthdays and holidays were always so very special thanks to my mom and our dad. Every Christmas we would all always have brand new outfits from our head to our toes and toys of course. On Easter it would be the same and also on our birthdays for sure. On Christmas morning my 2 younger sisters and I would get the most beautiful dolls. One day when I was already married my mom told me that she never had an actual doll, so then I started giving her a doll as part of her Christmas gift. So many things we have taken for granted. Now I do not take anything or anyone for granted, which I have always known to do, but especially during this time and age, we need to think about that and just be Very Grateful for what we have. Have a Great week and stay safe. God Bless you and your family.

    • Oh, Alicia! You made me teary when you mentioned the dolls. Mama always bought all of us girls a doll for Christmas. If we didn’t get another thing, we got a doll. Even when we really were getting “too old” to care about dolls, she still bought us a doll. We went from baby dolls to dolls like Chatty Cathy, to Madame Alexander collectible dolls. They meant so much to her, because as a child, her parents had so many kids to buy for that they each got only one present most times. And for the girls, that was a doll. Mama’s best friend, Mary, was in the same situation as my mom and her siblings were. Her parents were poor, and she was the oldest of several siblings. When she got married her husband built her some beautiful collectible shelves and she collected dolls. I went with Mama once to visit her, and they took some of those dolls out and sat on the couch playing with them like two little girls. Yes, you are right. We take so much for granted and need to be careful about that. Thanks so much for coming by today and reading and commenting. You stay safe, too, my friend! XOXO

  13. Such a different time and place, Cheryl. I do remember how my parents made sure to “stretch” everything, especially money. I remember saving grocery store stamps for special things. And I have to tell you that my husband would be very envious of your hibiscus plant! LOL He’s been nursing along two plants all this summer and autumn, and I don’t think he’s ever had that many blooms at once. All silliness aside, such a beautiful and touching article!

    • Oh, Hebby, YES! Top Value and Green Stamps! Mama kept those books religiously and used them for so many things. Those days are gone. Thanks for reminding me of those–I’d forgotten!

      About the hibiscus. I took that picture because for some reason on that day we got several blossoms, but most days there was only ONE BLOSSOM A DAY. LOL I did learn something though. Hibiscus plants like a “snug” container and like to be repotted with new soil (they say). This plant was from last year and was about 1/3 this size after spending the winter in my sunroom and looking droopy and not well. We repotted it in a larger container because it had outgrown the one it was in, with new soil, put it out in full sun for about 4-6 hours a day and PLENTY of water, and it went crazy. I will bring it in next week when the cold weather hits. It will spend the winter in our sunroom again, and I’m sure it’ll look “anemic” again by spring, but maybe it’ll come back bigger and better than ever. Also, I didn’t know this, but there are some kinds of hibiscus plants that can actually live outside in our “zone” (we are in Oklahoma City, and I think it is Zone 7) and “below” (in TX and the south) if they are planted outside. I’m not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but these things worked for us with this plant, and it’s not one of the ones that will survive well outside, so it has to come in for the winter here.

      I’m so glad you stopped by, Hebby! Thanks for reading and commenting! XO

  14. Cheryl, your lovely post about your mom put me in memory mode of the many things I loved and appreciated about my beautiful mother. She wasn’t perfect, and I learned from that as well. Thus I remain grateful for my blessings and view life as the glass being half full. My mom had a hard life from the time she was a child, and the war left scars. But she was also a survivor and that strength saw her through many tribulations. I knew in her heart she wasn’t a happy woman, that life had somehow passed her by. I didn’t realize much of that until I became a mom myself. Thus I tried to make her happy in little ways, like bringing her roses in the winter time when her rose garden slept under a blanket of snow. She’s been gone fifteen years now and I pray she’s found serenity. I absolutely adore the picture of your parents….that smile on your mother’s face tells it all, without words. I’m an incurable romantic and make no apologies .

  15. Elizabeth, I don’t think any of our parents were perfect. As a parent myself, I know I surely was not–we just do the best we can do and muddle through somehow. My mom was a perfectionist in many ways. I think that took a lot of joy away from some of the things she did. But it also BROUGHT her joy, too, in an odd way. She sewed a lot of the clothing we wore and it was perfectly made. Just lovely. I can’t even imagine the frustration and hours spent sewing to make everything look just right to her exacting standards. How hard that must have been (and if it had been me, HOW CRAZY it would have made me!) But to her, it showed how she wanted what she made to show her love, that she’d done her very best, and it was something anyone would have been proud to wear. The same with meals cooked. Always to perfection. She was very different from me in that respect. My philosophy is best summed up by my at-the time-7-year-old daughter Jessica, talking to her little brother Casey, when he was whining about wanting McDonald’s and not getting it: “It’s just a meal, Casey. There’ll be another one tomorrow.” LOL

    Of course you are an incurable romantic! That’s why you write romance novels! XOXO Thanks so much for coming by today, Elizabeth!

  16. I am so glad your mom was able to find joy in the little everyday things so many of us take for granted. Sadly, it is something that has been lost as life got “easier” at least in terms of physical things. Current conditions may change that. My mom was second oldest and oldest daughter of 9 and I was the oldest of 6. She was always busy and I don’t think she ever got the chance to really kick back and enjoy things the way she deserved. I know she enjoyed the little things like the beauty of the apple orchards around us and the view of the lake and mountains from our house. When I was in my last two years of college our relationship changed to more of an adult to adult relationship rather than a parent to child relationship. She was happy that I was pursuing my dreams and making them happen. I think she felt a bit stifled with little time for herself. Sadly she died at 47 and never got to enjoy the children – marriages & grandchildren – that she worked so hard to guide through life. I feel that even though their marriage was a good one for the most part, there wasn’t enough fun in it. I can’t imagine my parents in the picture of yours on their anniversary. Like her, I had a lot of responsibility placed on me from an early age and not much support of my dreams for the future. She did support me quietly, but my father never did. That is why our afternoon teas those last two years of college were so precious. I learned to be independent and work hard for what I wanted. I also learned to enjoy every minute I had and everything I did for you never know what the future will bring. Most of all I learned to support the dreams of our children and my husband. My husband’s father also died early at 46, so we have always taken the time to enjoy the moment and take advantage of every opportunity available to us and our children. It helps that his outlook on life is much like my own. He (and we) was lucky to have a supportive mother who encouraged him.
    Thinking about it, I think we can learn as much from what our parents do as from what they don’t or can’t do. That is not really a criticism. It is sad that they can miss so much often through no fault of their own.

    • Patricia, you are SO RIGHT. Growing up virtually alone, I WANTED my mom to “do things” with me. I entertained myself a lot, but I wanted her to just sit down and play board game with me, etc. But Mom always felt like she had things she had to do. In her growing up, I came to realize, NO ONE had time for relaxation and goofing off. There was always another chore to be done, and what you couldn’t finish today, you had to do tomorrow. So she never really learned to relax and just enjoy the “moment” of those times, because there was always something else to “get to” and finish. I felt this way myself for a long time, because it was ingrained in my, as well, and I hated that. I finally stopped feeling guilty as best I could about just sitting down and reading or watching tv or whatever I wanted to do. When my kids were grown and gone, I realized I had a lot of time that I didn’t want to spend always getting to the next thing. This is probably the thing my hubby and I disagree the most about. He is ready to always finish one task and move on to the next one. I want to take a break and relax some. LOL Thanks so much for stopping by. You hit the nail on the head!

    • Kathy, thank you for commenting. I have been thinking of this for weeks now and trying to “condense” what I wanted to say to blog length. There is so much more. But this is enough to begin with, and I’m glad it sparked your thoughts, too, my friend.

  17. I’m a great deal like my dad, as my mom pointed out quite often. I have his sense of humor, his short temper, and his deep seated work ethic. Pop and I spent much of my youth fighting…mostly about my independence. I wish I could have been a bit more like Mom–sweet, loving, and the person who kept us all together no matter how near or far we were from one another. I believe certain personality traits are inherited and enhanced by the people in the person’s environment. Teenagers often use their peers as their role models, so they pattern some of their behavior after some of their friends. Also, people are influenced by what they read. Traits of a hero or heroine might be an example of some things the reader wants to be like themselves.

    I think we can choose to be optimistic. When I was a teenager was somewhat morose and that negativity persisted into my early 20’s. I went to a therapist who used hypnotism and taught me a really neat thing about giving myself positive thoughts and using it like a mantra while meditating. It changed me into an optimist and a whole lot happier in my life. So, I think practicing positive thoughts will make you a positive and optimistic person.

    Whew! That’s a lot of talking there. An excellent, thought provoking post, Cheryl.

    • Sarah, I wouldn’t change a thing about you, my friend. Your independence is such a vital, necessary part of you! I wish I had had more of it sooner in life. Being the youngest in our family, I felt like I had to depend on my sisters and my parents more than I would have wished. When you are the youngest, many times, you are discounted–not always, but in my case, I felt like everyone in my family knew more about everything than I did until I truly got out on my own.

      As for negativity and that kind of thing, I think a lot of teenagers have that problem. I don’t know if it’s “genes” or “hormones” or what, but I remember those years and how everyone, it seemed, had that same kind of pessimistic outlook–and depression seemed to loom for many of us at that age. I went through a time of that myself, but somehow, I came out of it and still kept my Pollyanna outlook on life. LOL

      I’m glad you stopped by, Sarah! I always love your comments!

  18. I’m a thrifty shopper. Couponer. Bargain hunter. I have spent so many years buying off the clearance rack. If I paid full price or didn’t buy something with a discount or coupon, I would feel guilty.

    I got that from Mom. When the auto plat closed during the energy crisis, we were on food stamps while Dad was on unemployment. We grew a garden. Dad was born during the Depression, Mom during WWII, so that waste not, want not was ingrained into us.

    It’s quite a splurge for me to just buy something and not worry if I left a coupon at home or paid full price.


    • Denise, that’s how my mom was, too, and I got that from her. I don’t think I paid full price for much of anything for most of my life–I always search out the bargains! LOL I hear you about the splurging! LOL!

  19. Such a wonderful story about your Mom and Dad! My Momma always told me about the depression and also My Dad and Mom was in the 37 flood in our little town I showed My Youngest daughter where the flood had rose too on a pole in our little town and she told me Mom oh my goodness that water was really high and I said yes it was Your Grandma And Grandpa was survivors of the 37 flood! I miss My Mom and Dad everyday! They both worked when I was a little girl growing up I always had what I needed and had their Love ! Blessings To You and Thank you for sharing with us about Your Mom and Dad! I always look for bargains at the store because that is how I was taught also!

    • Sarah, my husband is from West Virginia where there are a lot of floods, and when we lived out there, he would point out things that got washed away in flooding, or where something “used to be” before the flood, etc. I think every place has some kind of danger, doesn’t it? Here in Oklahoma, it’s tornadoes, but if you live along the coast, many times it’s hurricanes, and other places have fires and so on. Like you, I miss my parents every single day–not a day goes by that I don’t think of them or remember something they said or did. I admire anyone who can hold down a full time job and maintain a household in any era–especially years ago when most meals had to be cooked “from scratch” and there were so many LESS conveniences than what we have today. I am still a bargain hunter, even now. It’s in my blood. LOL Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

  20. I believe that attitudes and behaviors can be passed down to the next generation. My Mom has always been an optimist. She is always looking at the glass as half full. Even when I was growing up, she always made sure that I had what I needed. My Mom was a stay at home Mom who sold Avon. (She is still sells Avon after 55 years.) She was in a rehabilitation center for seven weeks after a fall. We are transitioning into a new phase of our lives. She is spending more time in a wheelchair, but she is grateful to be home and with us. God is good.

    • Debra, I firmly believe that, too. My mom was such an optimist about life in general. I KNOW I inherited that from her, and I thank God for that. I was able to stay home for the most part with my kids and I treasured those years. I’m sorry to hear your mom took a fall, but thank goodness she has you and your family! Take care and stay safe.

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