Forgiveness is a Process.

There is a saying about Irish Alzheimer’s. It’s when you forget everything but the grudges. BOOM!

Yes, I’m proud of my Irish heritage. Although we have a reputation for being deep in the drink, we don’t have more alcoholics than other ethnic groups. It’s something all of us heard growing up, and the Italians were the Mafiosa, The Polish were, well. Mentally challenged. The Scottish and Jewish were stingy. We all believed the half-truths that kept our ethnic groups apart just like religion does. The Irish Catholic Church was in one neighborhood, the Polish Catholics in another, the Italian Catholics, yet another. We based segregation on not only ethnicity, but religion to boot.

And we were segregated. My mother is 92 years old, and her parents thought ill of Italians; none of her sisters or her could date Italian “Mama’s Boys.” Mom told me once if Grandpa Bobell was alive, I wouldn’t have been allowed to marry the Croatian I married. My German Grandpa was very much hateful towards the Croatians. They divided the country after WWII, and they disappeared with the Slavic nations. Croatians had darker skin than Germans, and there was a prejudice about that, too. Crazy world, isn’t it?

I find it pretty interesting to read about the history of Omaha, Nebraska. My family grew up there, and so did my brothers and I. My dad lived within a mile of where he grew up, attending the same Catholic Church he did for his entire lifetime. That’s pretty amazing. Except for that stint in Europe and the one in Korea, courtesy of the United States Army, his world seemed pretty small. I can imagine the prayers of a young man, 19 years old and with the Medical Corps, praying to God to get him home safely, I’m sure he had PTSD. He had to, with what he witnessed. My dad was the most forgiving person I knew; he always told me to give people the benefit of the doubt. After the second time they double-cross you, there is a pattern and you shouldn’t trust them anymore. Good advice. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Forgiving someone isn’t a one and done thing. Some hurts are so deep, so soul-piercing, you need to heal before you can even think of forgiving. Sometimes, it’s just not a wise thing to do. Yes, some folks don’t deserve your forgiveness. That isn’t the point. Forgiveness is something you do for yourself, not for others. Grudges are heavy to carry around. They take all of your energy. Wanting to forgive is not the same as willing to forgive. There in lies the rub.

Logic tells me I need to forgive. Emotion tells me, “After what they did??” Logic tells me being human makes us imperfect. Emotion tells me to hit the bricks, the quicker the better. My Catholic upbringing tells me if I want God to forgive me, I need to forgive others. You got me there, big time. God doesn’t do things He doesn’t want to. Humans have to sometimes.

That said, forgiving is Divine. It doesn’t mean you forget. That’s a very important lesson we don’t learn. At least I didn’t as a kid. It is foolish to give someone who deeply hurt you the same access to you afterwards. Caution and common sense must prevail. Only in a second chance can you learn if this is habitual behavior or if it was a onetime occurrence.

I’ve been in work groups with people in them who knew more about systems, etc. than the boss did. They usually were curt and rude to co-workers. But management allowed it. Not a friendly work environment. It stinks to be new on a team and be treated like you’re stupid by a co-worker. Once I worked with a woman who towered over everyone. She would stand above your workspace, hitting her fist into her free hand while she told you how to do something she didn’t think you did correctly. How hostile! I’m glad those days are long gone. Bullies aren’t acceptable, never have been.

Being retired, I get to choose which groups of people I associate with. I love like-minded people. People who want to make the world a better place, who want to help others along the way. Things flow better when you’re united by a common cause. I’m enjoying the friendships I’ve built with other Nebraska Writers. It’s mostly online, and that’s ok. They’re a wealth of information, and I hope to sit with them and listen to them talk. I learn so much by listening. My dad always told me, “If you want to know what’s going on, sit and listen. Keeping your mouth shut and your ears open, and you’ll know as much as the others know.”

Dad’s advice worked when dealing with executives or homeless Veterans. Respecting people is never something I want to overlook. It’s important, no matter what their position is. And sometimes we need to forgive things that people are not sorry for. That’s a genuine test of your character and will. No, you don’t want to forgive. The person isn’t sorry. They’ll never apologize. Be the bigger person. Free yourself from carrying that grudge. It’s amazing. I applaud you.

This is a cloudy, chilly fall day outside. I’m listening to our friend Rick Tiger’s music. I’m so sad COVID took him way too soon. His wife, Joyce has so many beautiful love songs he wrote with her in mind. They’re as lovely as she is. The words in my head make me imagine the way he would sing, and the look of love he had for his bride. One song talks about it if were his last day on earth, he’d ask the Lord if he could wait outside the pearly gates and wait for her. Joyce, he is waiting for you. Please don’t rush. But he’ll be there, waiting. What a lovely man he was. He still is, in our memories. I enjoyed his outlook so much. So hard to believe there will not be a Rick Tiger night again at the VFW. It was fun.

After having COVID these past two weeks, I woke this morning finally feeling human again. Maybe it’s the fact the headache finally subsided. It was just a dull ache. The brain fog is lifting, I think. I’ve thought of Rick so much during this illness. I was lucky to not get pneumonia. We know someone hospitalized with COVID pneumonia right now. It is a situation we’re praying over, intently. All I can do it pray. For those who lost loved ones, and who will lose loved ones. Just know we care. We forgive you. And we ask God to be good to you. Take care out there. Let’s see each other again tomorrow.

Wonderful Wednesday!

Today is a doubly wonderful Wednesday. It signifies two milestones in my life. And I celebrate them both today.

First, it is my oldest son’s birthday; Frankie, how is it you are 50 years old? And you were born on a Wednesday, too. Fifty years of learning (both of us), fifty years of enjoying watching you grow into the good man you are. For losing your hero when you were 17, you have stayed on the good path. Grandpa Jewell was your buddy. I’ll never forget how he kept your photo from turning two years old on his dresser. It was his favorite picture of you. It’s a good one. I hope you have a great day today. I will, with my memories of your life. You have always been a gift to me. We’ll celebrate next week, when I’m off quarantine.

The second way this day is wonderful, is it’s the 12th anniversary of my becoming cancer-free. I was told you could pick your date, or event, that signified the most to you during your journey. October 20th was the first day the surgeon had free. I reasoned it was a monumental day in my life; I knew it wouldn’t creep my son out being his birthday. That’s just the kind of man he is.

Onward! The lump couldn’t be felt, but showed on the imaging. The surgeon took a baseball-sized mound of tissue to make sure the margins were good. I opted to not have reconstruction; after all, I’m just a little lopsided. Who but the Babe and I will see it? Well, everyone who examines you forever. The radiation was rough; I blistered so badly, right in the worst spot, where the band of the bra fits close to your body. No bras for a very long time. I wore sports bras, mostly. Now, I have Ruby Ribbon camis; they adjust to lopsided breasts, and I wish I’d known about them earlier. I highly recommend them. I have a whole drawer of them. They help me feel like a girl again.

From this vantage point, it’s hard to believe all the roads traveled in the last 50 years with my son. He is everything good about life, along with his brother and sister. I feel so fortunate to have them. Reminders of the good I’ve done in life. And love to see the good they do for others. Life has been good to me, and to them. And it’s not over yet. We’ll get busy back at that novel soon. After the COVIC cough clears, I’ll be able to do a Zoom meeting with an illustrator to see if we’re a good fit or not. These are exciting times to be alive. Yes, you need to look for the good some days, and most days it’s easy to find.

Before the afternoon nap/reading session, I need to do a little cleaning up around here. We’re dividing the dog toys into two bins; one for upstairs, one for downstairs. It is time to clear the way to the fireplace and get ready to hunker in. I will move dog bed and toys. They’ll survive! They love their routine everything: feeding time, places, wake-ups, all of it. The companionship surely adds to the day, especially being quarantined. Furry friends are the best. Give yours a little extra love today, just because.

Be careful out there; you never know what’s around the corner. We have the ability to make every day a good one. I hope yours is! See you tomorrow.

Positive Vibes Only

It’s another sunny Tuesday, pretty windy out and I’m sitting in this chair at the Chromebook in my Home Office Studio. I’ve missed this activity. I feel sort of lost, actually. Not only missing out on the habit of writing and sharing, but missing the messages I give myself every day.

Having COVID certainly raises your awareness. My symptoms were much worse a week ago, and I believe now I was ill from about the 4th of October on. My voice is still crackly and intermittent, the congestion is not as bad, and I’m relying less on daily naps. It’s no fun, even at the end. And how do we know we’re finally ok? I have a message in with our doctor, then we’ll know.

So since things are not 100% here yet at Raabe Ranch. I pride myself at looking on the bright side, yet it’s hard right now. All I can do is pray God continues to be good to us. Should something awful happen, I’m certainly not going to be mad at God. He didn’t cause this. End of argument. We live in an imperfect world. Disease, accidents, and unknown causes of death are all around us. We need to remain vigilant and positive. We cannot give up! It’s just not in the equation. If I feel hopeless or not as I should, I stop and assess. Usually, it’s hard to keep a positive light on things when I’m tired. I can tell it would be easy to let the mind go off on a tangent of it’s own. Then we’d all be in trouble.

Some positives from life today, despite having COVID?

In the past year, I’ve done the Keto Diet, and have lost 45 pounds. Yes! I have! I’m thrilled to death about that. I haven’t been in this weight range since the 90s. I plan to keep going, however far I can, to be healthy. I’m not missing out on too much right now, and it’s easy to throw a craving off track with a substitute. Sure, I’ll break down and have a burger and fries now and again. But not every day. It’s under control.

Another positive thing? I still need to tend to my succulents outside, and get them inside/repotted soon. It’ll be a nice busy-work activity, yielding some beauty for the coming winter. I hope I refrain from watering them too much. I don’t want to drown them. Or underwater them.

Going to have the late afternoon nap here soon. Just can’t fight it, and not going to try. Take care of yourselves, your family, and be safe out there. It’s real. We’re stronger together. See you tomorrow.

It’s Very Real

Politics, conspiracy theories, and hatred aside, I can tell you COVID is real. The Babe and I both have it and a couple family members have it too. Some of us had the vaccination, some didn’t. This is not a discussion about all of that.

What this is about is the whole other gambit of things; how does it feel physically, and emotionally? We know some people who lost their battles with this disease. My heart is aching for their surviving families now. The nurse who tested me at THINK last Tuesday was excellent. I mentioned not knowing where I caught this, and concern if I have passed it on. She said, “We don’t need to be about blame here. It can be from anywhere. It can go anywhere. She was a hundred percent correct. Many folks are about blame and causes. The Babe said, “It’s probably just a matter of time.” That could be true, too.

It seems I blamed my late allergy flare/asthma flare on the Cottonwood tree. It must have been COVID. The congestion, the coughing, the fatigue. Trouble is, it behaves like other chronic illnesses. Body aches? Yes, I’ve got them all the time. How are we supposed to know the difference? We’re not. That’s our doctor’s job. I feel pretty foolish, actually. Never thought I’d catch it. I’m grateful to God we had the immunizations. It could have been so much worse. The key is keeping your oxygen level up. Mine was under 90 until I consciously inhaled and exhaled to use the full extent of my lungs. It came up to 93 then. I was breathing more shallow simply because it kept me from coughing. Not a good thing to do, apparently.

The most bothersome part of this, at least for me, is the congestion, and the drainage that shifts into overdrive when lying down. It just doesn’t let up. No wonder the lungs become so compromised. What a horrible experience for those who can’t breathe. I’ve done my share of praying during the past week. The brain fog that goes with it is nothing new for me, either. I threw in the towel last week and said I took a few days off blogging to just take a break. Today, I thought I’d better at least try to do something normal, so here we are.

Today I’m not sure if I truly am better or if it’s still too close to call. Seriously. I can’t tell. I just don’t want to fall out of the habit of writing every day. That’s the driving factor. Are we afraid? A little. I wouldn’t say I’m sure we’re going to be fine and mean it, because we may not be. I can only have faith we will. I know I’m tired of this illness and all that goes with it. The media, the scares, the reality of learning it has you in its hold. Sobering thoughts.

I’ve struggled with sharing this information at all; sure, it’s deeply personal. Many will think I should have kept it to myself. I think in the grand scheme of things, being honest is what I’m about, and I think if nothing else, there could be some level of learning here. Honestly, we did not think we’d come down with COVID. We’ve been faithful to being careful; we’ve followed the rules to the letter. Sure, we’re as tired as everyone else of the masks, the news, the protocol. This pandemic is not going anywhere soon; it’s just a cold, hard fact in all our lives. We need to deal with this in our lives the best we can and let the world continue on.

Upon hearing the news of General Colin Powell passing away from COVID complications, I am devastated. I’m devastated when a regular person loses their life to this illness; as well as a well-known person, someone I deeply admire. I think Powell and Condoleezza Rice would have made a difference in America as President and Vice President. This terrible disease cares not who it takes or leaves behind. It makes all of us humble; it makes us all pray, and I pray we come out on the other side of it. I feel optimistic about our recovery; things are good so far. Of course, things can always go wrong; no one has a crystal ball.

I’

m still going to blog this week. I need to get some sense of normal back. I think we can place a pickup order for groceries and such. We’re sure we’re coming out on the right side of this. I’m going to still plan working on the novel. I’m short on concentrating much this week (again). That’s part of the charm of COVID and I hope it gets better. In the meantime, be positive as you can, and know it will all be ok. It has to be. See you tomorrow!

Back to Work

In case you didn’t read the blog yesterday, I’m celebrating! I submitted my first chapter from my book, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons,” to the Nebraska Writers Guild, and they have judged it suitable for printing. I am over the moon about it, and celebrate over and over in my imagination.

And now, here we are, in the knowledge I’m really going to be a published author, aside from being published on my website. And no, I have no agent, but have a contract with NWG for Chapter One. Baby Steps! To get back in the swing of things, I need to look very carefully at the first six chapters and pick up from there. Glad the NaNoWriMo is coming up, It should be a good catalyst for connecting outline, thoughts, words, and paper. Woo Hoo! Picture me done with it before we know it!

Of course, all things are subject to change. How I know that! Flexibility is important if you want to create, especially during these times. Nothing is normal, you know? It was, then it wasn’t, and now we just aren’t sure. I truly hope our beautiful planet gets another thousand years or so. Maybe a grandchild will get an inspiration to save the planet!

It’s late, and I have no snappy jokes left for the evening. I hope you all are in a good place this evening, and that your tomorrow is wonderful. I’m going to make a priority tomorrow to communicate well. Yes, It’s a long shot, but it needs to be done. It will only do us all good. Ignore the smack about IG and FB behind a bad influence. It’s all crazy! More on that later. Let’s just decide for ourselves, ok? Hoping so, that you’ll think for yourselves. I am all about that. Take care, and know tomorrow is another day. Take care! See you tomorrow!

Kind of a Big Deal

Well. Look at us here on an overcast Monday morning at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. We’re about to get back into a routine, I think. It needs to be a different routine, however. Instead of concentrating on my kidlit, it’ll be my novel.

Why? You may ask. Because I sent Chapter One of “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons,” to the panel of the Nebraska Writers Guild for publication in their annual anthology. It’s a collection of member’s works. It’s how I found the Guild in the first place. The Babe and I were driving back from visiting granddaughter Kayla, and we stopped at a rest area. They sold books, etc. I saw the anthology for that year and purchased it. It started me looking to create opportunities.

By the way, I received an e-mail Friday telling me my Chapter would be published in this year’s anthology. How exciting is that? I’m honored, proud, and humbled, all at the same time. And those of you friends I’ve tagged need to know you’ve all helped me get to this point. The support from all of you is phenemonal. Yes, all of you. If you read, or liked something I posted, whether it a blog post or FB post, it’s all been encouraging. I can’t thank you enough. And Billy and Kate – Thanks for letting me learn the, “Just because it’s never been done,” philosophy. My life is full of doing things never done before. Out of “order.” As a late bloomer.

That said, now the work load needs to shift (I believe the word now is “Pivot”), and we’ll be closer to the end of the book at the end of 2021. We’ve reached a milestone, friends. I’m really beside myself! Thank you all, for reading, encouraging, feedback, and all of you who read quietly in the background (No, General Dennis Luke from Nigeria, who lives in Saudi Arabia now, and asks me to send him a friend request, no, not your kind of background reading!) Don’t be a creeper, or creepy.

Tomorrow is the annual pilgrimage to Hobby Lobby for Mom, so I’d better get extra rest tonight! Just can’t shake this allergy/asthma flareup. So again, I look forward to a new day tomorrow. It’s going to be a great week! Thanks for reading, I’ll see you tomorrow!

Sunday Sums It Up

It’s another family visit in the archives of time. Grandson Joell and his parents left for home at noon. Grandpa and Grandma needed a nap, as did the whole Stricklett family. The kids had a blast tailgating at the Nebraska game last night, and Joell has another new experience for his memories. The kids are all seasoned travelers, and continue to experience new things every chance they get.

And tomorrow, it’s back to school for Joell, and some kids are off school for Colombus Day/Indigenous People Day. Yes, although it’s terrible what happened to the Native Americans at the hands of the white man, I think the discovery of America is an important milestone in our culture. Not all of our history is wholesome, moral, or just. Humans make big mistakes. We always have, and will continue to do so.

Next week, I’m working on the VFW Post Veterans Day Remembrance and Resource Center, Getting materials to hand out should someone need them, and firming plans to collect items and disperse them where they will do the most good. It’s important this time of year, as the winters can be very brutal. No one should be homeless, especially not a Veteran.

Tomorrow, I’m making an announcement about my future. It’s pretty cool if I must say so myself. Hopefully, the announcement will be ready by noon, CDT. This is quite brief tonight. I hope if you visited family this weekend that your visit was as nice as ours. As we start a brand new week, with brand new challenges, let’s keep in mind we all need to be thoughtful of each other. We need to be kind, and remember there are a lot of people who are hurting now. Let’s find some way to help them. Make their burden lighter. Reach out. Someone will take your hand. See you tomorrow.

Big News Coming!

Sometimes, the best laid plans get interrupted by life. In the words of John Lennon, whose birthday it is today;

“Life is What Happens While You’re Busy Making Other Plans.”

As I’m listening to Eric Clapton’s album “Pilgrim,” my mind is trying to plan next week. Mom needs a trip to Hobby Lobby (in anticipation of decorating for Christmas), and I have meetings with an artist and an illustrator. One is for an exhibit at the VFW for Veterans Day, the other talking about my kid book. It’s already going to be a busy week. Finally feeling better, so I’ll get more done than just resting and writing my blog.

Clapton is a genius. His songs inspire me to dig deep and get words from my soul. Whether they make sense or not is not my worry at the moment. I need to craft my novel again, I have about six chapters done, and I think I can study them a bit and pick back up where I left off. The fun NaNoWriMo is in November, as always. I will participate this year, after skipping last year. I think if I follow my plan, I should be able to make quite a dent in the novel. Best laid plans, right?

I am not giving up on the kid book. I can certainly have someone illustrating while I’m working on something else. We will just see how it works. More about it later. In between writing sessions, taking Mom out when necessary, visiting her, and having Gavin help me decorate our Christmas tree, it will be a busy fall and Thanksgiving season.

Tomorrow, we bid farewell to Joell, Monica and Blake. Today, they’re going to Lincoln to tailgate at the Nebraska game with Tracy, Addison, TJ and Gavin. They ought to have a blast. Food, fun, beverages, and the Huskers. When they beat Michigan, it’ll be the frosting on the cake. LOL. Gosh, I hope it’s buttercream.

Have you ever heard the John Lennon tribute “Working Class Hero” album? I have it, and bought it for just one song; “Grow Old Along With Me.” Finally today, after having it 23 years, I read the liner notes and listened to the whole thing. How silly to wait this long for the treasure chest that lies within. Blues Traveler version of “Imagine” is superior. Half of the proceeds of this album benefits the Humane Society of the United States of America. I can certainly get behind that cause.

The song, “Grow Old Along With Me” was a song at our wedding. It seemed appropriate, we were in our 40s and knew it would be different this time. And it has been. Different, Good, Hard, Worth It, and full of surprises. It’s going to be more of the same for years to come. Yay!

I received a message today that made my year! I can’t wait to share the news with all of you, and I need to wait a few days until it’s official. Hard work is always worth it!

The mail produced a new book. This should be good! Hope you all have a beautiful afternoon and good evening. Saying goodbye tomorrow to part of the family, and praying for their safe voyage home. Thanks for reading, be kind, and see you tomorrow!

Unrequited Infatuations? I Had a Million of Them as a Girl

Self-Defeating Behavior

It’s that time of year again. No, not autumn, but the daily reading today reminds me of some classic Adult Children of Alcoholics abilities – to see such doom and gloom into our futures we likely don’t want to think about the future. Some of us in the family have learned that’s no way to live, yet others still persist. Let me assure you, it’s much better on the positive side of this trait.

We quote Mark Twain as saying, “I am an old man and I have known many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Read that again. I’ll wait. And again if you need to. We have imaginations that blow the wheels off our positivity trains. This is the classic shooting yourself in the foot behavior. We destroy our plans before we even begin with them. Whatever it is, we derail our voyage and wallow. I’d venture a guess 99% of these terrible troubles never happen. We just defeated ourselves.

People do it all the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s creativity or writing a book or everyday life. Stop it! We need to keep a positive attitude, knowing that is half the battle sometimes. Within ourselves. No monster out there can sabotage us as well as we can. We can spend out lives dreading that which doesn’t exist and very possibly never will. Think about that. The moral of this story?

Don’t Borrow Trouble From Tomorrow.

Having human natures, we can’t help but act like them. I do have some dread with dealing with some people, usually unfounded. The dysfunctional people who are still in my life either behave like they usually do or they surprise me. Sometimes the dread is warranted, sometimes it isn’t. Gas-lighters can surprise you at times; never enough to trust them again. Just be smart.

On a much brighter note, we spent the evening with family again last night. Dinner was fabulous. The kids are so fun. And a handsome lot.

From left; Joell, Addison, Gavin. Joell has turned into a young man. No more kid left in either him or Addison. Gavin may have a time left, but not much yet! Can you tell they’re all quite comfy in front of the camera? These may be the most photographed kids in the world. And I get to be their bonus Grandma. What a lucky woman I am. Do you have any bonus grands, or nieces/nephews/etc.? We enjoy spending time with our future!

Day #3 with Beastly allergies is off to a better start. I’m hoping for some rest later after a visit with Mom and her new occupational therapist. It’ll be busy and crazy for Mom, then we’re planning a trip to Hobby Lobby next week. She considers it a must for her annual Christmas decorating marathon. She will likely supervise this year. Whatever makes her happy at this point.

I hope you enjoy your day. Do something kind for someone. Give a hug to someone who needs one. You get one, too! Thanks for being here, and see you tomorrow.

Day Two; Fighting the Beast

It was a beautiful reunion last evening, Joell ran to greet Grandpa Dan, and Grandpa was blown away; his grandson is almost as tall as he is! The young man is pure muscle, love, and gigantic heart. We’ll visit again later, and I must have photos of all of us. We are so blessed. Silly I didn’t think of photos last night, was too busy enjoying the evening.

As I looked at Joell and Gavin pal-ing around last night while Addison was at Dance, it did my heart good. Joell was patient with him, a “little” kid. It appeared Gavin thought his cousin is cool. Joell and Addison are the same age, (6 months apart), 14. Gavin is super smart and gets a little carried away, as little boys do sometimes. That’s what family does. I’m so lucky to have the step-kids I do. Love them and their spouses just like my own. The Babe is proud!

Sneezing fits, Mucinex, lots of fluids, and doubt are all fighting in my brain this morning. Itchy eyes, drainage, all the junk is happening, and I’m just about officially done with the whole mess. With a lot of free time on the calendar (sort of), I should be working on some stuff. I’m at my limit today. Rest will win out. Can I share something with you?

If you know anyone who has a chronic illness, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc., know I am grateful to get just a cold or an allergy flare up. It will go away. The other stuff won’t. Yes, I’m grateful for that sort of thing. Somedays that’s all you’ve got in the world of chronic conditions. Your friend or family member may feel the same about their days. The thing that’s hard is the mind fog that goes with all of the above. It will clear, but doggone it! We’ve got stuff to create!

My apologies for being brief today. I need to take some allergy stuff and have a nap before we meet up with family for dinner. Take care and have a beautiful day. See you tomorrow!