No Worries

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With a title like that one might think this could be a blog about a sunny beach vacation with some Jimmy Buffet playing in the background and a tropical drink in one’s hand. Nope. This is a blog about a very serious topic… the holidays.

Funny how that word can mean different things to different people. For me, it seems like every year they come around faster than I expect. Which in turn causes some people to move into overdrive mode trying to get every little thing done to make sure that the holidays are “perfect”.

Except there is no such thing as “perfect”, so now what? For some people without family the holidays are something they want to avoid altogether. For people with large extended families the holidays start practically right after Veterans Day and go nonstop until after New Year. Seems like every year people put their Christmas tree up earlier and earlier. I know people who hardly get any sleep because they are so busy that they run themselves ragged practically making themselves sick trying to do and be everything. So where is the happy medium?

I say the happy medium is you. We are all lights. We all have the ability to either be people lifter’s or drags. Opportunities arise each and every day to either build people up or to tear them down. So in this time of year when there are so many extremes all around bombarding us at every turn, from stores to places of employment, we get to choose what we will be in the situations we are faced with.

Every day is a gift whether one has a large extended family with boatloads of holiday activities going on, or for the person living alone without any family. It’s a simple choice. It’s easy to get wrapped up in making sure everything you want to accomplish get’s done and things get marked off the “to do” list. However, I think it’s important in the midst of the daily “grind” to be flexible and if everything gets done that’s great. On the other hand if every single little thing on that list does not get checked off, not to beat yourself up over it. At the same time, not to be so wrapped up into our own “to do’s” that we miss those opportunities where we can be lifters.

My motto is if I see something I “do something”. Meaning if I encounter a situation where someone needs something, and I am able to be that something, then I do it. This motto was actually the inspiration for my latest single released to iTunes titled “Don’t Walk Away.” (click here to listen at iTunes) Here’s a section of the lyrics:

ARE YOU BUILDING UP OR TEARING DOWN
HEARTS ARE HURTING CAN YOU HEAR THE SOUND
HE SAID WHEN YOU DID IT TO THE LEAST OF THESE
YOU DID IT TO ME

DON’T WALK AWAY, DON’T WALK AWAY
SOMEBODY NEEDS YOU NOW
DON’T WALK AWAY, DON’T WALK AWAY
YOU MIGHT BE THE ANSWER HOW

You get the idea… basically my motto is, if a situation arises and you can do or be that something for someone, I say like the Nike saying goes… “just do it”. Which in reading this it might seem like I’m saying to do two opposite things. On the one hand I say don’t kill yourself trying to do everything, and then on the other hand I’m saying to do something. Actually it all comes back down to that happy medium again. That’s where the no worries mentality comes in.

Let everything roll off like water off of a ducks back. Keeping in mind that every day is a blessing, to count every blessing and when we have the chance, to “be” a blessing to those we encounter. People, animals, whatever the case may be. Not to be so busy that we miss opportunities to be the answer how. If we run into a situation that we can change, don’t assume someone else will do it. Just imagine… what a wonderful world it would be.

May your holidays be filled with many many blessings.

Music, Love & Blessings ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

 

 

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Best Dressed

Who can resist a furkid dressed in a costume? I can’t. Which is why every year one of my favorite fall traditions is picking out cute costumes for my furbabies and taking loads of pics!

My almost twelve-year-old Pekingese Punkin Pie says they are not costumes, rather “torture devices”, and that dressing them all up in these costumes is animal cruelty. Then I tell her she has no idea what animal cruelty is. Further, that if she wants to see what actual animal cruelty is to go on Facebook for about five seconds and she will see it with her own eyeballs on the pages of one of the countless rescue groups that work so hard to pick up the pieces for so many innocent creatures. Which is why I always give to as many as I can because without the rescues these animals would never get the second chance they so desperately need and deserve. Of course I talk to my dog… doesn’t everyone?

Anyhow back to a happy topic, pets in costumes. Now I would love to dress my two spoiled black cats up in costumes, but like Punkin says “they don’t need a Halloween Costume because they come with a built-in one, they are black cats.” Besides putting a costume on Jaxson and Bella would probably go about the same way putting their leash and harness on when they have to travel or go to the vet, which isn’t a very pleasant experience.

So it’s up to the dogs to fill the cute bucket year after year. So without further ado… I present the 2018 Aston Dogs Howl-O-Ween Costume Parade.

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Superman

I give you Pepe. My little rescue monkey who is a sixteen plus year old Tibetan Spaniel new hope only euthanasia list survivor from the NYC ACC. He had a lot of issues when he first came to us, but after six years he is a very happy old man enjoying the life he should have had for his entire life.

Next is Punkin Pie. A beautiful Pekingese girl who is going to be twelve in November. We have had her almost her entire life and she is spoiled as it gets and we love her to pieces!

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A little Lamb

 

 

Next is little Lulukins. She is a Shitzu who is also a rescue from the NYC ACC the same shelter that Pepe came from. The vet says she is somewhere under five, we are not exactly sure. She was very young when we rescued her three years ago. Lulu is without a doubt the happiest little dog I have ever met in my life, she literally bounces when she walks.

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A little Butterfly

 

 

 

 

And all together…. for the group humiliation shot (as Punkin would say) I present to you below… the Aston Furkids Halloween 2018 photo!

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Shortly after we already assembled the group for the humiliation, we rescued a Japanese Chin who we have named Yuki. Since he is still settling in and learning what life is like around our house, new smells, new things, new people, new stuff… we did not want to stress him out by dressing him up in a torture device too ;o) So his humiliation pic will have to wait until next year when he can join the bunch for the Halloween Costume Parade. So for now, this normal un costume pic will have to do. I give you the newest member to the Aston pack… Yuki.

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Happy Howl-O-Ween!

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

 

 

 

 

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In the Heart

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Photo by my husband Keith, available at http://www.keith-rousseau.pixels.com

I’m not sure why I’m surprised when it happens, but somehow it seems to get me every year. It’s late August, I’m doing my best to soak in every last bit of summer I possibly can, and then the next thing you know it’s Labor Day. Sometimes Labor Day just so happens to fall on my Birthday. So by the time I’m done with my whole week before and week after my birthday doings it hits me, it’s almost September 11th.

So then I say to myself it’s time to be grateful. To be thankful and grateful for all of my days, even the bad weather days. Grateful that myself and my loved ones are here to enjoy them with, the good the bad and the ugly.

It is a difficult time of year for many who lost loved ones that tragic day. It is hard to believe it was seventeen years ago. Grief and loss are never easy for anyone. I cannot imagine having to bear a loss from something so tragic. The one thing that can help to bring a sense of peace in any loss though is the knowing that our loved ones are never really “gone” from us. We carry them with us in our hearts until we see them again one day in heaven.

Words I wrote many years ago while dealing with the loss of a loved one. Words that then went into a song, my song titled “I Carry You With Me”. A song that helped me to deal with a difficult loss, and has since helped many others as well since it’s release (click here to watch video). I have received emails from people across the world writing to tell how much the song had touched and helped them.

One time I even received a frantic email from a women in Ireland looking for the chords so it could be sung at her Mother’s Eulogy, I happily sent them to her. As an artist that is really what it is all about. I have heard it said that art is our soul’s expression, and I think it’s spot on. As a music artist I live to create music that I hope will touch people and positively influence their lives in some little way, and I’m sure I’m not alone.

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Photo taken by my husband Keith. Available at http://www.keith-rousseau.pixels.com

So on hard days like September 11th reflect and remember… in the end love really is what makes the world go around. Love comes from our heart, and our heart is where our loved ones are. We may not be able to see them, but we can feel them. They are with always us and one day we will see them again.

Blessings, Love and Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

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Anything is Possible

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Beautiful painting by Mouth and Foot Artist Tom Yendell.

Most people who follow my blog know a few things about me. First coffee, Dunkin Donuts (I’ll pass on the Starbucks please). Second, that I love animals. My sentiments about the topic are basically to borrow the words from a famous T-shirt worn by Doris Day “Be kind to animals or I’ll kill you.” This leads me to the next thing, that I was either born without a filter, or it broke off sometime in-between the time I was born and now. Most importantly and on a more serious note, that my desire is to be a people lifter.

So besides making and relaeasing music that is meant to encourage and inspire people, I like to share things I come across that I think can benefit someone somewhere. We all do really, at least I think we do. Anyway I was posting something to instagram last night and came across a video and it just absolutely blew my mind in a good way. Click to watch Foot and Mouth Artist Tom Yendell create the above amazingly beautiful flower painting.

When I watched this video, I was amazed by what he is able to do with what many would call a disability. Upon visiting his website Tom Yendell I learned that due to the drug Thalidomide he was born without arms or hands. He has learned to do everything with his feet. To be perfectly honest the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw his work (besides being extremely inspired) was “what’s your excuse?” I sat there thinking how so many people today without even realizing it (myself included) so often complain about not being able to do the things we want to do because of thus and such, and life and this or that has happened, and so on. I’m sure you get the drift.

When here is a man with a real “limitation” that could and would keep many a person from expressing their desire to paint being born without arms or hands. Yet here he is painting and he has blown past any so called “limitations” by following his desire to create art. He had a vision in his mind and he made it happen.

So here comes the harsh part, the following may or may not offend some people (as so many are so easily offended these days) yet it needs to be said. So many people today make issues and complain about things like gender identification, what bathrooms they want to use or identify with. They go as far as to make so much noise and bully major corporations into letting men use women’s bathrooms (which really isn’t good or safe for anyone especially little kids – I’m just sayin). People on college campuses making all kinds of chaos about so many things that in the grand scheme of things really in my humble Greek opinion seem pretty petty.

We all have gifts and talents. Every single one of us human beings was beautifully and wonderfully made. Whether we want to acknowledge our creator or not. We all have something very special and unique to offer to the world. Yet I think we spend way too much time focusing on limitations or things that we may see as obstacles. When in reality if we would just focus on the thing we are great at, and offer that to the world, the world would be so much better.

Yes bad things happen to the good and bad. Maybe my view is choosing to see things through rose colored glasses, but you know what? I would rather see the world through rose colored glasses and see the good in everything rather than see the problem in everything.

So much of what is spewed on a daily basis via news and social media is negative. Seeing Tom Yendell paint a spectacular piece of art with a credit card using his feet better than most people who do have arms and hands was like a punch in the gut. If he can do that, my friends we can do anything we set our minds to, anything. It really is that simple. You can either overcome or be overcome. You can choose to be a victor or a victim. The choice is in our minds.

Hope you take a minute to check out some of his work and are inspired by his talents to focus on and develop your own. Have a beautiful day!

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

 

 

 

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Oh Say Can You See

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Lady Liberty and all her glory… simply stunning!

Hard to believe it is almost the forth of July. I for one am very happy that summer is finally in full swing and the warm weather is here to stay. Well, at least for a few more months for those of us in the northeast that is.

After such a long and ridiculous winter I am very much looking forward to taking the holiday time to soak up the heat and breathe in the summer air. I will also be performing The National Anthem at a Baseball game, which is really wonderful. I mean what could be more fun than a baseball game and with my being a singer, the opportunity to perform the National Anthem on the day our country won her Independence? Can anyone say happy Greek girl?

The fourth of July is about a new beginning for our nation. Seeing advertisements everywhere for Fourth of July festivities has got me to thinking about new beginnings. I have the beginning of a new habit that I wanted to share… I am taking off my Fitbit for good, there I said it.

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Nope… not for me, not anymore.

Why would you do such a silly thing you may be wondering. Well it’s just personally I think we as a society have become way too obsessed with technology. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the benefits of technology and of course it has its place. I just feel it has become far too front and center in our daily lives. Our phones are practically glued to us, and lets not even get into how over reaching Amazon’s “Alexa” and Google’s “Echo” creepy little units are because that would be a whole blog for another day. At first I thought the fitbit was great, and yes I’ll admit it was pretty neat to see how long I slept, and how many times I got up at night, and just how many steps I got in on a particular day.

Where it started to lose it’s luster for me was when I started to catch myself being disappointed if I didn’t get as many steps in throughout the week as I did the week before, and so on. I’d find myself looking at it so often then it hit me; this is getting to be on the silly side. I remember not too long ago putting on an old fashioned watch, take a swatch for instance, and going out for a run. The only reason I had it on was to keep track of “how long” I was running for. I was free to enjoy the fresh air, take in the beautiful images of nature and just enjoy the run and endorphin high. As opposed to exercising to see how many steps or calories I could burn each time.

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A few of my favorites…

Never mind the fact that I had an entire watch box full of watches that I loved that hadn’t seen the light of day in over a year.  I really love watches too… they are one of my things, like sneakers and flip-flops. For some girls it’s high heels, but for me, it’s watches, sneakers and flip-flops. So the fact that I was wearing the same watch every single day, a little piece of technology that was literally attached to me at all times got me to thinking it was a bit obsessive.

So I decided to kick my Fitbit to the curb. Yes you heard right, this girl is going old school when it comes to watches. My very favorite watches are Android, which have since changed their name to Aragon, check them out at www.aragonwatch.com. Absolutely gorgeous watches, mostly automatic at surprisingly affordable prices too. Each watch is literally a work of art, and all designed by their creator and founder Wing Liang. The Mr. and I met him years back at a fashion trade show and we have been in love with his creations ever since.

So this year when I sing “Oh say can you see” I’ll be sporting a plain old watch on my wrist, and the only time I’ll be looking at it is to check the time. Hope you enjoy the holiday!

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

 

 

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National Treasure

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Honor the Fallen

The official start to summer “Memorial Day” is almost upon us. For people in parts of the country that were hit with an especially hard winter this year like yours truly, most likely it cannot come soon enough.

I’m all for packing up the winter stuff and breaking out the flip flops, but I have to say it always kind of rubs me the wrong way when I start to see so much emphasis placed on the change of season to summer, sales, and parties, rather than focus on the real meaning of the holiday.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sale (hello I’m Greek which is also code for you must buy it on sale or at wholesale) but I just don’t see how getting a good deal on a car honors our nation’s fallen heroes. In a time when history is given less focus than ever living in the “I want it now” digital age I think we should give less attention to sales and more attention to giving honor and respect to those who have so dearly earned it.

For our nations entire history there have been men and women who left their homes and everything they loved and held dear to go off to distant places to stand up for freedom. Men and women who lived in uncomfortable situations so that we could live in comfort. Think about that for just a moment.

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Photo the Mr. took at a Memorial Day event I had to honor to perform the National Anthem for.

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Photo taken by the Mr. at same event… this one melts my heart.

So this year instead of hitting the mall, the car lot, or nearest backyard party, maybe find a Memorial Day parade. Find a ceremony in your local area; there are so many organizations that will be holding events to honor the fallen at Memorials all over the country. Check your local paper, find a VFW, a Purple Heart chapter, a first responders organization.

 

There are so many things that will take place, but sadly many don’t garner the attendance they should. So this year be the difference and take a little time out to honor those who have given everything.

America’s greatest treasure is those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and their families. We owe a debt that can never be repaid, thank you. Remember to give gratitude, respect, and honor to those who have made that ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day. May God bless you and yours, and keep you safe this holiday and always.

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

 

 

 

 

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Hello Spring

Spring Tulips

If you live in a part of the country where old man winter has over stayed his welcome, and you’re anything like me you are probably long over winter by now. I’m so over it, in fact I would actually love to get my hands on that groundhog.

I know my complaining about winter taking too long to get on out of dodge is nothing new, but seriously this winter was taking this whole “out like a lion” thing a little bit too far. Us folks on the east coast had the pleasure of being bombarded by not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Nor’easter’s in a row this year. Which does not make for a happy Greek Girl if you know what I mean.

So instead of working on learning the new music a colleague sent me to learn for a new project we’re working on like I had planned to do. The Mr. and I spent nearly the entire month of March cleaning up the mess that one of those lovely Nor’easter’s left behind. We are thankful it was not worse, but it did leave a big impact nonetheless and loads of fun and follies for us to deal with.

It all started on March seventh, everything was pretty much shut down due to the impending storm. The Mr. was off from work and so we decided to go play in the snow. We put our snow gear on and went for a long walk in the afternoon. No big deal, it was beautiful, we took some photos and came back inside to get some lunch. We sat down turned on the news to see all the power outages across the northeast. Then it happened, we heard a “boom” and then the TV went dead, and all the power went off.

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The Mr. & I out playing in the snow before the muckery began.

I looked out my window and a branch had taken out the transformer on the pole by our house.  This transformer just so happened to supply power to our entire street. So the next thing you know all our neighbors are outside talking to each other asking if everyone has power or not. So then the Mr. decided we best go get a generator just in case the storm turns out to be as bad as the weather channel had predicted. Good thing he did. We jumped in the Jeep and arrived at Lowe’s just in time.

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He literally got the last of the two generators they had in stock. He got it just as two guys walked up wanting to buy two. Luckily he already had one of them on his cart, so we got it. So we got home, and after about an hour of the Mr. doing a bunch of rigging with a flashlight, extension cords from the major appliances all over the house… voila we had power. Archaic as it was, it was power all the same.  It was dark by then and the furkids (three dogs and two cats) were all looking at us like the world was ending.

So then we settled in to have dinner and hunker down for the night. I was starving by this time and wanted to eat. The Mr. on the other hand thought he should go snowplow the driveway instead. I was too hungry to wait for that to be over, in fact I was getting a bit on the “hangry” side, so I insisted that we eat first, and then he could go clear the driveway. There is a lesson to be learned here… men always listen to your woman.

So we got dinner ready, sat down to eat listening to SiriusXM on my phone when all of the sudden we hear another boom coming from the other end of the house. Only this time is it so loud it shakes the entire house. I’m thinking, “Oh boy this doesn’t sound good”. We went outside to find his Jeep buried underneath a gigantic more than fifty-year-old tree. Had he not given in and let me eat dinner before he went outside, he could have been in that spot and not the car. See he had planned to move the Jeep and that is where he would have started clearing the driveway, ov vey!

Thankfully he listened to me and it was the Jeep under that tree and not him. Then came the four days without power, and seven days without Internet and TV. Then the glorious task of dealing with the cleanup of the mess the storm made. See this tree that fell, it was in a bundle of four trees. So when the one went, it caused the entire bundle to be compromised. It left two of the remaining three leaning so far out to the side they were almost sideways being held up only by another tree.

So we had to get a bunch of tree people to come in to estimate the cost to remove them. Along with figuring out with the insurance who was going to pay to get the tree off of the car so the adjuster could come survey the damage. Who knew if a tree falls on your car the auto insurance does not pay to remove the tree. See, you really do learn something new every day, even in a Nor’easter.

After a few days we worked it out and found the Jeep had in fact been killed that night. Then came the fun task of replacing it. So we immediately got on cars.com and started running all over the Tri-State NY/NJ/CT area to find another certified used Jeep with all the stuff he had on his with low miles, yes, good times for sure. Not really because anyone who knows me knows I would rather stick needles in my eyes than go car shopping. Who also knew that in NYS when a car is deemed a total loss you only get five days of rental reimbursement. Again, more learning going on for the noggin here in this situation.

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Jeep Murdered by Winter Storm Quinn, and replacement Jeep. Thank you cars.com

 

Then came the wrecking crew we hired to remove the remaining trees that were in danger of hitting the house. See after years of trees falling every time a hurricane or major storm comes along it was time to just get them out of the way. So the same day we picked up the replacement Jeep, we had a crew here taking trees out like nobody’s business, I bet they could even give Paul Bunyan a run for his money.

It worked out in the end but by now, you can imagine I was and am ready for spring. Heck I’d be happy to even skip spring and move straight to summer. I will not complain about having to have the air conditioner on all the time. I will not complain about how hot it is. I will instead savor drinking iced cups of happiness all dang day long, and enjoy my flip-flops as long as Mother Nature will allow summer to stick around.

Why does it always seem like summer goes faster than winter does?

Hope you enjoy your day not matter what the weather is.

Blessings, Love & Music ~
Ava xo
www.avaaston.com

 

 

 

 

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