Little Things Add Up

Monday, January 24, 2022 is upon us. We made great progress over the weekend, moving furniture, getting a new area rug in place, and getting some things ordered to help be more organized.

I don’t know if it’s something that’s “done” or not, but we put both the chest and dresser on the same wall. The header photo shows that. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I just haven’t seen it before. That made more room to put two chairs, a little area rug down, for a little reading area. I sat with coffee this morning and read the Bible. We have a sheet to follow that will take you through the it in a year, if you keep up with the required reading. So far, so good, and I’m keeping up. I ordered a small bookcase to put between the chairs, against the wall.

It is a better use of space. A quilt will hang in the middle.

This morning, I spent a couple hours putting all the Santa’s in one tub, (hopefully), and made quite a dent in the mess. At least now it’s on the way to becoming organized. It will be awesome decorating next year. Progress! See, there’s that word again! I’m doing it, staying focused and slowly headed in the right direction.

The Babe Built the Shelves. What a Handy Guy! Think I’ll Keep Him!

Tomorrow will be another day with Mom. I’ll take her to get a perm. While she is processing, I’ll go to Panera’s and try to get some writing correspondence sent. I’ll be updating my website this week, with a page about Jewell Publishing, LLC. If you recall, this is my publishing company, and home to Kathy Raabe, Author. It’s also the home for Grandma Kathy and my children’s books.

We’re pretty sore tonight after two days of furniture moving and carrying things up and down the stairs. Blog won’t be very early tomorrow, either. We’ll be writing on the “road” and catching up some things. Hope your evening is nice, and you have a good one. Take care out there and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Living a life in which you never change. You always eat meatloaf on Tuesday. You work for the same company for more than 30 years and you hate your job, but you’re scared to leave the company. You withdraw from any new person, idea, way of doing things. You criticize anyone who does things differently than you do, even if they achieve the same result. Why is change so crippling to some people?

More of the same produces more of the same. What is keeping us from trying something different, especially if we’re not happy with how things are going in our lives. The more we practice something, the deeper it’s ingrained in us. The deeper the roots, the more difficult change can be. That said, it’s not impossible to change. It takes an awareness at what may be causing a problem. If it’s behavior related, we can investigate which changes we would consider making.

Why do we do the things we do in the way we do them? Are we critical of others? We probably learned that growing up. We can stop that. It takes a different mindset.

Do we have a quick temper at little things? Did we observe this growing up? Holding your temper can take some time, we need to change attitudes toward these minor inconveniences before we can control our temper. Mom used to get very angry at little things. A glass of milk spilled at dinner just sent her into a tailspin. We had a real wood kitchen table which she always covered with a tablecloth. Every night (nearly) one of my little brothers spilled their milk. Mom would go beserk. It’s not like he did it on purpose. Mom lectured while insisting the wet tablecloth be removed immediately. It was stripped off, all the plates, silverware, and other glasses were moved frantically to get the tablecloth removed before the wood was ruined.

Looking back, I seriously doubt the wood table would have been ruined if the milk soaked tablecloth was left while we finished eating. She waxed the heck out of it frequently. Wouldn’t the wax offer some protection? I often wished we had a table made of some other material. Needless to say, mealtime was not happy in our house. Dad didn’t like us talking (arguing, goofing around, etc.) while eating, as he would go to work immediately after dinner. Mealtime conversation has been difficult for me to master, and I’m still working on it. I definitely know it was stressful as kids. Dad didn’t say anything, but often, he would stab at his food, and that meant we needed to immediately zip it, knock it off, cease and desist.

Mealtime wasn’t happy while I was married the first time. Kids don’t eat everything you set before them. Sometimes they do, but mosty not. My kid’s father would eat his food, then start eating the food off the kid’s plates. They were nowhere finished, as kids eat slowly. At times, they would cry and ask Dad to “Stop!” I would get mad. His take was he was right to do what he was doing, since they wouldn’t eat everything and he wanted to eat it while it was still hot. Remember, there were few microwaves before 1982. We did not have one.

Mealtime became peaceful once their dad left. Peace at last. It took guts on my part to end that marriage. I’m so glad I did it, unpopular as my decision was. I never looked back. My kids eventually understood. Best scary thing I ever did. There were plenty more scary decisions, made with much thought and risk. It worked. The change was a great one, I’m happier than I ever could have been. God gave me everything I needed to be strong and learn what I needed to.

What about you? Was there something in your childhood that was a pattern of behavior where you were afraid or upset about? Whatever caused that behavior, make sure it doesn’t happen in your home, under your watch. You can change it. You have the power to do it. I support you and your effort. Take the chance, make your life happier.

Tomorrow starts a busy week. The Honor Guard always has six funerals booked through the VFW. It amazes me how many people are affected by these deaths, and the vast number of Veterans who are buried at the Omaha National Cemetery. The grounds are beautiful and hallowed. I appreciate the Honor Guard and it’s important work. I have some emails that need to go out to my new artist and events to update on the Post website. I’m going to add some pages to my website as well. What good work will you do this week? Thanks for reading and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Sunny Saturday

It’s a cold but beautiful sunny day in Gretna, Nebraska today. The Home Office has sunlight streaming through the entire house. It also smells like delicious home made chocolate chip cookies and brownies, our contribution to a birthday party later for our friend, Lou Riedmann. His daughters and son are celebrating large this year, with the family welcoming all of us.

We found out early this morning our other friend, Jay Donoho passed away in Oklahoma. He was a friend through the VFW. He moved away after his wife Teri died, and we’ve kept in touch with him through messaging, FB, and phone calls. We were hopeful he would move back to Omaha someday, and he would have made a good Post Commander. He will be buried in Omaha with his wife, Teri, at the Omaha National Cemetery. She was young and passed from cancer, Jay did, too. Complications were too much for him. Sad to know he is gone, too.

In reading back on some postings Jay did over the years, it tells me we didn’t know our friend well enough. His wife was ill during most of the time he lived in Omaha, and most of the conversation was driven by how we could help support Teri and him, and recently by his health. He loved scuba diving; he and Teri made many trips and had beautiful photos. He loved his mom, kids, Jesus, and the Air Force (in any order). He will be missed by many. It’s just sad, the more we lose, the harder it is some days. It happens as we get older. Part of life.

I broke many Keto rules early today, by eating cookie dough but it was so worth it. I can start again. Weight was gained over December and is stable, those 10 pounds are now 7, and we’re going in the right direction. We are having a variety of soups, appetizers, desserts, etc. tonight. It should be a good time. What do you have planned for the rest of the day? I hope you enjoy your people today and tomorrow. Be safe out there, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Fab Friday!

I must be crazy. Mom insisted on going out today into the frozen tundra. She hadn’t been out for awhile. She says the cold doesn’t deter her, just snow or ice will. She’s sure she should go while she can. I have to agree with her. I tease her when she’s says, “I’m not keeping you too late, and I?” I tell her, “No, it’s ok, I’ve got all the time in the world.” The Babe told me over five years ago to do whatever I needed to do to help Mom when she needs it. “You only ever have one Mom.” We spent many hours on the road back and forth to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to make sure we saw his mom. She lived 12 years in the nursing home with MS. She is my hero and will always be.

Mom is still mobile (barely) and nearly blind and deaf. We went to Walgreen’s #1 to get her eye drops (Rx). We then went to Walgreen’s #2 to pick up her “supplies” as she calls them. She is wearing incontinence pads during the day and adult “pull ups” at night. Poor thing! So, we’re in the aisle, she’s on her walker, I’ve got the shopping cart at the ready. She asks me to be her eyes and ears. I found the pads she wanted, checked the price, then it was on to the pull-ups.

OK, proper size, proper absorbency, “what’s the biggest box they have?” Yes, that will work! She adds, “Get two of those.” Yep, all handled. She looked on the other side of the aisle, and there were stool softeners, Metamucil, and the like. She was quiet after I told her what was there. I said, “You don’t need any of those.” Quiet. Followed by uproarious laughter. We giggled until we may all have needed Depends. “No, I guess I don’t.” It was hilarious. If you don’t think so, just know you had to be there! It’s a good thing she still has a sense of humor. My brothers and I try to help her find the humor in everything.

We went to lunch at her favorite – Village Inn – and home. She was so tired. I’m glad she seems a little more accepting of how things are and she could have it much worse. We seem to go in cycles in how we tolerate each other. She is much less critical than she has been. I help her because I promised Dad I would; she and I have a complicated relationship to say the least. I have forgiven her in my heart, and hope that’s enough to get her on her journey to the next world. She may hang around for ten more years, who knows? Not me, for sure. I love the longevity we may enjoy because of her.

Something really cool happened this week. I applied for a Gretna Public Library card. With the community being so small, and our housing subdivision just being annexed, I wasn’t sure if I’d have a free card or have to pay a fee. Luckily, we were annexed last summer, so it was free. I cannot wait to go to the library maybe next week. I want to find out what kind of small business information they offer, which is illustrated and noted in the brochure my card arrived in. Only reading nerds will understand; I hate to think of how much money I’ve spent on books this year. They probably are deductible, right? Tools of my trade, right?

I have some deep cleaning for over the weekend, I’m adding a reading “spot” in the bedroom. It should be nice and perk things up. Tomorrow morning, I have a baking engagement (chocolate chip cookies to take to a friend’s birthday party tomorrow), and pick up Addison after dance. It should be a great day with family/friends. It will be good, What’s up for your weekend? Whatever it is, enjoy your people. Have a cookie! We’ll see each other tomorrow.

This is Thursday!

It’s a win when I know what day it is so far all day long! So far, so good. I’m not trying to make it any other day, and that may be because the Babe and I have meetings for the Post and Auxiliary later tonight. It is hard to keep up some weeks.

I read something this morning about keeping in the present, which adult children of alcoholics have a problem doing. It’s something many others do too. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Judge Judy says that all the time. And she’s right. That thinking changes nothing.

“I coulda been a contender,” famously quoted in “A Streetcar Named Desire” film.

“I would have done thing differently,” me, looking back on my life, knowing what I know now.

“I Should Have Known Better,” by the Beatles.

The second one could be any of us. I don’t regret anything that has happened before in my life. I would have preferred the Babe been my children’s father. He is a wonderful stepfather and grandfather. If any of us knew then what we know now, we all probably would have had different lives, and wouldn’t be who we are right now. As I said, I don’t regret what I’ve been through during my time on this earth. I am who I am because of it. I was dumb, then smart, then dumb, etc., and so it goes.

For us ACOA, it’s a matter of boundaries. Just like other issues we have, this relates to boundaries. You have to keep past in it’s own area. Otherwise, it overcomes present and future. I used to carry things forward, thinking it would help protect me. It didn’t. It only served to make me miserable. After my kids were gone from home and two moved out of state, it was hard for me not to be depressed. At 48 or so, I thought my life’s purpose was over. Raising kids wasn’t the only thing I could do with my life, but I didn’t know that then. No prior life experience allowed me to comprehend that, take it, and run with it.

Struggling can help build character, and boy, has it. So has learning to set boundaries. I’m still learning, and can guarantee you, if you are just starting to set boundaries, people are probably not as happy with you. The ones who are angry aren’t able to manipulate you anymore. True stuff. They weren’t your friends, anyhow. Or your true family.

Boundaries should also be honored by the one setting them in order to work. If you cross over, just to be nice, a good sister, or the fun dad, you’re telling everyone you’re not serious about the boundaries. If you don’t honor your own boundaries, why should anyone else? Your example matters.

The future is spotless. Nothing is wrong or right with us. We get to decide that. Live your own life. Now. Don’t look back, you’re not going that way! You may need to learn self-care so you can prepare for your future. I know myself well enough now, I’m certain if I’m over-tired, hungry, or can’t figure something out, I need to put it away, have a protein snack, and go to sleep early. It’s a necessity.

If you are still working for a living, you may think you have no say so how you spend your time. While you do have to do the work you were hired to do, it is up to you if you do it with joy, glad you have a career, or if you are curmudgeonly about it, groaning and complaining all the way. Many people would be thrilled to have your job or career. Gratitude helps us find more for which to be grateful. Good things will come your way.

It is still quite frigid out there. Make sure you dress warmly if you’re out where it’s cold. Spring is in the future! Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

BRRRRRR!

It’s another frigid day at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. I really cannot complain; I have a warm home, a warm heart, and warm (head? hands? {NEVER!}) Well, I tried. Warm home and heart. That’s a good start, since I believe this will go on for awhile.

When we were kids, my older brother and I received figure skates for Christmas. We learned on a frozen pond down the giant hill at the park. There is a swimming pool there now; back in the day, the fire department would flood certain areas and create random neighborhood ice rinks. The ice never met a Zamboni, and it was always lumpy, choppy, and challenging. We’d stake until we got cold. I developed a minor case of frostbite, but it didn’t stop me. Tom and I self-diagnosed why my fingers and toes swelled and turned a whitish color. They returned to normal after we were in the house and had hot chocolate. It’s a great memory.

When it’s this cold, I think of the homeless and of the people who are cold in their homes, trying to save on utilities. Been cold in our home, but not this one. The last home the Babe and I purchased had a gas fireplace, and it was a must for this house. We both loved the warmth and the ambiance. Same now. If you have a spare warm coat, gloves, scarf, or boots, please donate them to a homeless center. Directly to the homeless. Help out those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. There, but by the grace of God, go I.

Since we ate at home all week, the Babe picked me up to go to lunch. I wore my warmest coat; a boot length wool coat, with a hood. The wind still blew, but I was cozy. I am so glad I’ve had it for twenty some years, in a style that is stylish, and ready for Nebraska winters. I haven’t worn it much in the past few years, but for days like this, it’s perfect. Grateful to have a selection of coats. God’s been very good to me.

The middle school and high school kids we see while picking Addison up from school don’t wear any coats or warm clothing. The word is, they don’t have room in lockers for coats. Wow. We fit all sorts of things into ours. During COVID last year, they weren’t allowed to go to their lockers, and didn’t want to carry coats all day. You would think there would be a reasonable compromise for them somehow. And it still gets down to the fact, kids rarely take city mass transit anywhere, much less to school. In more highly populated areas like New York City they might, but not in Omaha/Papillion/Gretna Nebraska.

Going to have a few minute power nap before we get Addison. I hope you have a great rest of the day. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, The 14th

What a day! It’s been a little crazy. Lots going on. Meeting at the Post this morning, stopped at the printer’s (not for me, for the Post), stopped at the Humane Society for verification of Lexie’s Rabies Shots for her new license. Then, a stop at JoAnn’s Craft and Fabric store. It’s been forever since I’ve been there. Totally remodeled, I felt like a fish out of water. The Humane Society was all remodeled, too.

I felt like I was a visitor from a strange land. I’ve come to realize in the last few days I might need to get out more. Seriously. I need to leave the house more and mix with people. Have I become an introvert? I’m not sure about that. I’m just so contented at home. Are you? Or would you rather be out and about?

Another weird thing that happened twice today. Since before Christmas, the Babe and I switched vehicles. I previously drove the Passport, he drove the Ridgeline Truck. He has too many miles on the Ridgeline, so he’s driving my car, since it has low miles on it, and 5K more allowed per year. Turning in the truck could be very costly when the lease ends. I don’t like some of the things about the truck, it’s harder for me to get the depth perception straight, but it takes practice.

As I went into the fabric store, a man standing outside asked me how I liked the Ridgeline. What?? That’s a new on. What’s the opposite of a chick magnet? Maybe it’s the new way to meet people. Huh. But wait, there’s more! I went to top off the gas before it gets colder again, and a man came up to me, asking me if I was an Army Veteran? The Babe has Veterans license Plates, so it was a valid question. He was a Marine for 12 years, and a nice man. People really are basically good, and they are neighborly. I need to get out more.

The Christmas tree is officially down, tomorrow I will finish putting things in their proper places and be finished for last year. More necessary papers for filing Income Tax, that will be the next big thing for our household.

I have a new illustrator who I’m sure will do just fine. She’s a busy young woman, and I can’t wait to see what she can do. A soft target date to publish my first kid book is May 22. I’ll explain more as we go along. In the next few weeks, I’ll unveil new business cards, an additional page on my website, and maybe an additional FB page for kid books. Stay tuned! Progress!

Thanks for checking in today, we’ll see you tomorrow!

Heroes

We don’t give ourselves enough credit. We should be our own heroes. I grew up in a time when we were discouraged from talking about ourselves, especially as a girl, and not to get too full of ourselves. It’s a whole new way of doing things nowadays. Kids are praised for everything, constantly. Is it too much? Do they grow up thinking they are perfect? Some do, in my opinion.

How do we learn to give more credit to ourselves (the boomers) and raise kids/grandkids who aren’t full of themselves. It’s a definite challenge with the kids. On one hand, they are at all to stand in a gym full of people at the age of six and sing solo, or speak, or act. They need to be prepared though, for the days they’re told no, when things don’t go their ways, and when someone else beats them out of a trophy, or someone else gets a job/promotion/or something else they want more than anything.

Sometimes, I’m glad I didn’t lead a charmed life, and had some of the life disappointments I had. I knew things would not always turn out the way I willed them to do. I also could handle it. I hope kids learn to do that. I hope it wouldn’t immediately throw them into feeling so badly about themselves and their abilities that they may hurt themselves or worse. And I hope their parents can “take it” too. A parent putting pressure and guilt on a child can have devastating consequences on that child.

People who do the simple, everyday, acts of kindness are sometimes bigger heroes than those who run into danger to rescue us from fires and crazies. The people who work everyday to support their families during these times are quiet heroes. I think of my dad when I think of those people. He was always a steady, familiar force while we had him. After we found out about his many medals from the military (two Bronze Stars, from WWII and Korea), His status rose further in our eyes.

When we do what we are supposed to do, instead of simply doing what we want, we should be our own heroes. I’m serious! Saying “NO” to ourselves is brave. It’s how we’ll progress and how our lives will change. Others are not the only ones we should say “NO” to; sometimes, we need to say it to ourselves.

Case in point? I have finally finished taking ornaments off the tree and have them ready to put on the storage shelves. I put it off from last week. I found the couch too comfy. I found the new books I read over the weekend too good. I was not my own hero. I will be when this is all stowed, because I’ll be in much better shape than I was a year ago. Last year, things were haphazardly put away, and now they’re not. It’s all orderly. I’m proud of that small victory.

We practice detachment from the excuses we’ve made previously, and we begin to make way for new habits, new hobbies, new people. And discipline we haven’t had before. We might have weird feelings while we lose the bad habit, the procrastinating gene of our makeup, but in the end, it will feel like normal when we stick to it. We will have a surer sense of mission, purpose, and fulfillment. Great things will happen. Try it. See you tomorrow!

Football Sunday!

No, this isn’t about the playoffs, I’m just amazed a quote from Vince Lombardi (Green Bay Packers coach) is something I find inspiring today. What is it?

“Inches Make Champions.”

Even if you’ve rarely watched football or don’t know much about it, you know measurements are taken frequently to see if a team actually makes ten consecutive yards for a first down. You get four chances to make ten yards. Then the ball goes to the other team. Inches are critical to progress.

And there’s that word again. Progress. I feel it is put before me as a reminder. It reminds me I cannot expect to get where I want to be all at once. It’s been a lifetime of conquering smaller victories that has gotten me here. It’s the reminder that keeps me going. It’s the reminder I will get there. I have to push, everyday, even if it’s only for inches. It all looks the same once you’re at your goal, looking back. The hard part is daily acceptance of it “only” being inches of progress. Sometimes, it can be the full 10 yards (or more) at once. As long as you put in the effort, and are grateful for whatever the progress, your effort is successful.

Coach Lombardi brought the Green Bay Packers from fifteen consecutive losing seasons to successive world championships (pre-Super Bowls) and the first two Super Bowl Championships. He was a man who built not only a football team but was a great example at the time, of leadership. In his personal life, he had a terrific temper. He also had a devotion to God through daily Mass, where he prayed for patience and for his wife to stop drinking. She suffered from alcoholism, triggered by a miscarriage very early in their marriage.

Despite difficulties, his leadership had results. Our efforts will have results too, even if only by inches some days. Put all those inches together, and it will always be worth it. You don’t have to be an Olympic athlete, but put in the work on whatever you do every day. Your tenacity will be rewarded.

I know this is true; it took me 25 years to graduate from college (I didn’t start until I was 29). It was well worth the achievement and success I felt and experienced on the way. It took me a long time and a lot of personal growth and changes to meet someone I could trust. And I couldn’t be happier. Sixteen years was a long time between being divorced and remarried. It was worth it. I needed the life education in between.

I hope you make great gains this year in your personal journey. I hope you continue on mine with me, too. We can cheer each other on. Today, I will wrap more decorations up to store, bake a cake for the Babe, finish another Colleen Hoover book, (Ugly Love, started yesterday), and plan next week. What will you do? See you tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Nice Guys Finish Last

Leo Durocher is credited with saying this. He is a famous American baseball player, manager, coach, and fiesty human being. He was not afraid to voice his opinion, causing him to be ejected from many games during his long career. I was unable to find the circumstances surrounding the quote he’s famous for saying. I did read he had a habit of writing bad checks to cover his lavish lifestyle. He wrote a book with this title, “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

Is that really true? Sometimes we give empathy and care for people we shouldn’t. We may actually say, “Nice guys finish last,” and making it our mantra. “Poor Nancy. Everyone takes advantage of her.” No. Nancy probably needs to set boundaries and not enable people, family, children, cousins, boyfriends, or her husband. If we don’t say, “No,” we are fair game and should not feel sorry for ourselves.

It took me a long time to learn I had to stop being a doormat. Stop trying to make it up to my mom when my brothers didn’t do what they were supposed to. Stop giving my empathy away to those who were not worthy. My family has a lot of “all or nothing” circumstances. Us giving more of a damn to help a loved one recover from a bad break, alcoholism or drug abuse, or whatever lies they tell themselves to justify your taking care of them. You’re hurting much more than helping. I’ve been there.

To my horror, I discovered the people I loved a lot were doing nothing to help themselves during their own recovery. I’ve helped them avoid hefty fines, jail time, bill collectors, and old girlfriends. I did not realize they were not the people I thought they were. Especially the relatives. I had to say goodbye to the people I thought they were. Then I had to accept the fact I believed the lies, the manipulation, and the grooming. I felt so foolish. It was devastating.

I’ve learned all of that showed me what they were. It showed me the fault was with them. And I bought into it. Hook, line, and sinker. I know better now. I have learned so much; about the pent up anger I’ve had for a long time, about I cannot make up for other’s hurts, and that I come from a family who has addictive personalities. Many of us do.

There are so many things we can be addicted to. Online shopping. Collecting things. Food. Sugar. Alcohol and Drugs. Prescription drugs. The list is long. If one is good, three are fabulous. It’s easy to get caught up in the feeling. Until the regret sets in. I remember making large unnecessary purchases and on the way to the car, I knew I shouldn’t have spent all the money I did. I paid all the credit cards off, and the only thing I overdo spending with is Amazon.

To counteract that, yesterday, I applied for a library card with our town library. I’m hoping to make friends with the staff and donate many of the books I have but no longer use. If they have room! Progress. Yes, I will have an organized library. Progress is my word of the year, and I will work on Progress with all the things I want. Keep moving, it helps! It will be nice to go inside a library again.

Take a chance by establishing some new habits that will set you up to succeed, not fail or remain stagnant. It’s how we grow as individuals and simplify our lives. Off to do some more of that very thing. And read a book later. Or sooner. Stay warm, be safe, and we’ll see each other again tomorrow.