It’s said beauty is in the beholder’s eye. I suppose that is true. As I’ve grown older, my definition of beauty changed dramatically. I suppose as a teenager I found my idea of beauty in fashion magazines, teen magazines, and had a skewed idea of beauty. It was anything but me. I think most girls my age felt this way, although I did not know that. We just didn’t have those kinds of discussions.

As I remained dateless after the age of 16, I thought no one would love me. Images of Twiggy and Goldie Hawn as the “Sock it to Me” girl made me believe I would never be thin enough for someone to love. It reinforced the message from Madison Avenue, my mom, and what I saw around me. Everyone but me was beautiful and loveable. I felt fat and ugly. And not very smart. Little did I know I actually had a pretty face, beautiful eyes (hidden by pop bottle lenses of the 60s) and was the right size of a normal human teenage girl. (The other day, a friend commented, “I wish I was the weight I was when I first thought I was fat.” Amen, sister!)

I lost all that. While my first husband was gone in the Army (Europe in an office, not in Vietnam), I crash dieted my way to less than 130 pounds. Starved myself, lost 50 pounds, and wore hot pants and shorts for the only time in my life. It was hard to maintain. I went back to a normal weight again, and felt fat. I wasted how sad so much of my life on feeling like that. Who the heck cares? I did, way too much.

I’d gain 35-40 pounds during each pregnancy when some doctors only wanted a 20 pound weight gain. I suspect many babies did not have the great start they deserved during this era. Mine were all healthy from the get go, thankfully. I’ve yo-yo’d my way during the rest of life. I was at an unhealthy plateau for a long time, until COVID let me to realize I wasn’t comfortable. I lost about 40 – 45 pounds, feel great, and haven’t KETO’d since.

By charts, etc., I should weigh less. I’m not sure that’s going to happen. For my health, it would be a little better, but the rest of my health numbers, etc are great. No high cholesterol, blood pressure under control, and I have various specialty docs I see for chronic pain. My knees don’t require injections every 90 days any more. I’m good, by most standards.

My idea of beauty now? It’s never found in a celebrity or the pages of a magazine. It’s found in the smiling, wrinkled face of a grandmother; the wisdom of a toddler who talks constantly; the excitement of a person discovering their talents after a lifetime of doing for others. It’s in nature; it is in wildlife; and it is in the every day, commonplace things. It is in the beholder’s eye. The heart of the beholder. The mind of the beholder. It’s a tween telling you they like spending time with you. When you tease your grand kid about silly things they did when they were young, they smile. It’s there! It’s everywhere.

As I finish up the cleaning from yesterday, I’ll see the beauty and show gratitude for taking care of our home. I’ll see it in our dogs. I’ll see it in the book I’m reading. It is everywhere. I’m going to soak it all in, and be grateful for learning what is truly beautiful. Check it out for yourself. Let’s see each other tomorrow. Be safe out there!

Tuesday Topics

Remember the Billy Joel song, “I’m Movin’ Out”? Mama Leoni’s was the restaurant mentioned in Little Italy, New York City. On Rachael Ray today, she talked about going there as a small child; about their food and their service. It was sweet. From the song, you could smell the neighborhood and take in it’s culture, and you could feel it as Rachael Ray talked today. Wonderful stuff. Maybe you should check YouTube for her show and the song. I’d bet it’s out there.

Do you have memories of food/cooking/baking from your childhood? The smell of rising clover-leaf rolls fills my nostrils when driving past Grandma Jewell’s home on Center Street. She’s been gone from there since the 1980s but that memory will stay with me for my lifetime. I think of her as my hero.

I also know the smell of Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies baking. Mom made a batch every week. They were my solace after being bullied at school. I developed a sugar addiction that I still court today; truth be told, I’d go for dessert every time. But eat it first, because life is way too short.

My family went out rarely for dinner. Dad worked nights, but had every Sunday and Monday off as his weekend. Once in a great while, we would go as a family to Piccolo Pete’s for dinner. It was a favorite of Dad’s, just down the street from where his Standard Oil Service Station was located. The dining room was nearly empty on a Monday night right after they opened. Dad had a favorite waitress who always waited on him. That was the term back in the day. Pro Writing Aid flagged it as not inclusive, but heck, that’s how life was then.

Our folks always ordered spaghetti and meatballs for us. That is the only time we ate that dish. Mom never made it at home. It was a real treat. Probably the cheapest thing on the menu for a laborer and his family. The room had a mirrored ball in the middle of the dance floor. Few lights were on, and the outer edges of the room seemed dark and mysterious. We saw the grand piano and some horn instruments behind it. I imagined what it must be like to sit in that room while eating dinner on a Saturday night. What a scene played in my mind. Just like in the old black and white movies.

I believe the sense of smell can either provide wonderful memories or terrible ones. It took a long time for me to smell wet sand and suntan lotion without feeling like I would wretch. It was part of the trauma of experiencing my son drown at the age of 5 1/2. PTSD existed back in 1979 but no one knew what it was. The best advice was “just don’t think about it.” How Dare They!

I was pregnant with my daughter, and I’m sure she felt the trauma just as I did. My little boy, 2 1/2 years old, felt it. He was terrified when his brother went to school. He kept asking if brother was in the hospital. We finally walked Frankie to school, and went into the building, entering the classroom so Nick could see where his brother was. He stopped asking and became less afraid. I didn’t. It took a long time.

Now, when I smell those two things, I recall the tremors in my stomach, but don’t have them. I recall the blessing my son’s survival has been. From that point on, I believe he has a special kind of soul. My kids are all my besties, along with the Babe. From that near loss, I learned I could survive some very hard things. And I have. We have. I’m forever grateful for all of it.

Have a beautiful day today. Find your blessings. Even those that come from tragedy. It’s all part of living life. See you tomorrow!

We Are What We Think

Dad had a post card sized saying credited to Henry Ford. It hung in the “butlers’ pantry” in our house. I don’t think it’s still there, but I’ll look next time. It said,

If You Think You Can Do A Thing Or Think You Can’t Do A Thing, You’re Right.”

I find it interesting how that saying, read and re-read thousands of times in my life, is much of what I firmly believe, especially at this part of my life. The butlers’ pantry had upper cabinets where our dishes were stored. Since I usually had the job of drying dishes, it was in my sight, mind, and psyche much of the first eighteen years of my life.

And today, there is so much information written, podcast, blogged, and discussed about people over the age of 60. Just yesterday, I saw starting a business is much more likely to succeed if you’re over the age of 55, even 60. Wow. I’ve got that beat!

I do believe I will publish a children’s book and a novel. They are two entirely different genre’s. I do not want to be pigeon-holed into one or the other. I want to do both. I also want to write a book about my personal health struggle, one that nearly left me paralyzed. Twenty-six years later, I am still a changed woman, forever grateful for the miracle of two excellent doctors, and the eagle eye of the older of the two. God was very, very good to me. I continue to thank Him daily.

Although it’s been said you must have a different website, etc. for each pen name you use, I’m not doing that. I’m doing Kathy Raabe, Author for my novels/fiction/life struggles. I’m doing “Grandma Kathy” as a page of Kathy Raabe, Author, and both personas are the property of Jewell Publishing Company. It’s not traditional, but then, neither am I! Why can’t it work?

At this age, it’s much easier to adjust to what’s going on around us. It’s crucial to be able to do this. Acceptance, grasshopper. No lives are usually lost over waiting, and when it’s not time yet, it’s just not time. We were raised to be old souls, those of us born in the 1950s and early 1960s. If any of wanted to be artists or writers, we were usually told those jobs wouldn’t pay the bills. The phrase “starving artist” was used frequently and it seemed to be the truth.

The boys often had blue collar jobs, and rarely did they have a college education. Firefighters and Police officers frequently attended college after 1970 to supplement their OJT. Street smarts coupled with book smarts on Law Enforcement and the science of fires made for better officers and firefighters.

Blue collar jobs, so lucrative for our fathers and uncles, became a thing of the past. The Babe was in the manufacturing business – making brick and concrete block. He started as a diesel engine mechanic and retired as the Facilities Manager and Labor Foreman. He had training in those fields, most of it OJT, but no college. Just after we married in 1998, block basements became a thing of the past; pouring concrete into forms to create foundations was the way to go. We believe they probably aren’t as good as block walls, but no one wants to work that hard anymore. In our era, you could make great money as a builder, carpenter, mechanic, plumber, electrician, or someone who poured concrete. Not anymore. In the 80s, the mantra was,

“You can make more money sitting down than standing up.”

And now, forty years later, it appears young people should go into technical jobs, like plumbing, building, masonry, drywalling, all those things formerly looked down upon. Someone I used to work with in the 90s asked me when my son would get a real job and quit cooking. I asked him, “Do you like to take your wife out to eat?”


“Well, someone has to cook it. Do you want a rookie doing that or someone with experience?”

“Someone who knows what they’re doing.”

“I rest my case.”

My path appeared to be getting married and having a family. It turned out I chose the wrong partner. After three beautiful kids, we divorced at my request. That was the first most scary thing I ever did. No job, attending Community College classes for Medical Secretary field, I was offered an interview at a large company, and I went. I was hired. Nothing will ever be that scary again. Not even breast cancer was.

“Don’t Find Fault; Find a Remedy.”

This one about finding a remedy instead of fault is a favorite. I couldn’t pick just one. Kind of like having a favorite child. They’re all my favorites! As we celebrate LABOR in America today, be grateful for the likes of Henry Ford. He did what no one else had ever done before. He failed, then did it again, ony better. We can do that too. Whatever you want to create, do it! Calculate the risks, expect the unexpected, but do it. You will never regret the attempt. You’ll regret not making it. See you tomorrow!

The only failure is if you don’t try.

Monday, Full of Promise

Good morning, from the sunny Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. If you don’t appreciate the beautiful blue I can see this morning, I’ll say a prayer for you. It’s been dark and overcast for a few days. Even without talking with Mom, I know she’s grateful for more light to maneuver around in. It also makes the day go faster, your internal clock gets off kilter with too much darkness. Hang in there, Mom!

Listening to the sounds of Bruce Springsteen right now, “Letter to You.” It’s a nice collection, all what I would expect from him in his later years – he’s 71 years old. The words ring true in my heart right now, as I listen. We all have fears and doubts that haunt us right now.

I see it through the eyes of a believer in God. He provides for us, maybe not what we want, but what we need. We sometimes don’t know the difference between the two. It’s amazing if you’ve seen His timing in your life. An event can happen that puts you on a totally different yet much better path than you are on at the time.

I put my worries in God’s hands right now. I don’t know how we will end up at the end of the week, but I cannot drive myself crazy about it. What good does that do any of us? Our mental stability is shattered and that is when trouble happens. We hear all sorts of rumors and dis-information, I don’t trust most things I read online anymore. And television news? I think not. I suppose my information will all become “after the fact,” and my primary concern is for law enforcement in Washington DC, the Capitol Police, the Secret Service, and all the other agencies who are keeping order in our nation’s capitol until after the Inauguration. I hope Biden and Harris help us settle down. He is my president, whether I voted for him or not. Let’s just move ahead.

I had a noon class today with the Storyteller Academy. It’s a free, seven day series of classes about Picture Books. I gleaned something very important during the class today. Jim Averbeck mentioned you need to consider the child’s emotions. I’m so glad to hear this. It is about the child, and things which may evoke some strange feelings they are unfamiliar with. My book talks about loss, and how they feel. It is offering ideas to cope and heal, too. It’s a topic people don’t like to talk about, which is exactly why we need to talk about it. Grief can derail your life if you don’t know how to handle it.

Let’s have a positive attitude for the rest of the day. I’ve accomplished a lot, although I wish I could have published this sooner in the day. I’m plotting about how to do more in a week than we do now, and if it’s possible. These books won’t write themselves!

Thank you for reading today, we’ll see each other tomorrow! Be Safe. Hugs and Love to all of you.

Now, What Were Those 2020 Goals?

Hey! You out there! So much said about how terrible 2020 has been; I’m wondering if anyone even remembers what your goals were for the year? Any goals, about work, hobbies, life, etc.? I unearthed an email from my friend LeAura Alderson of I Create Daily, on December 30, 2019. It was about Pre-Goals followed by decisions and order and monthlies/90 day steps, everything to be precise and measurable.

Those were the innocent days. We were still living our lives without concern for COVID. We only had the nasty political division in our lives and families. Neither has been desirable. Who let them in? We did. Enough said about that. Let’s love each other again; politics be damned!

I was ambitious with my goals, were you? I had four major points; Publish, For Each Book, Website/Blog, and Other Marketing. As if life is that tidy, am I right? I honestly aspired to publishing my first four books, three of them children’s, one a novel. Then I was going to re-write another child’s book, Bonus Grandma’s.

For Each Book, I had headings of tasks to manage; writing, editing, EDITOR, Blurb, Cover. Sounds easy enough. I did a lot of writing and editing. Trouble was, it wasn’t on any of the four books on my list! I wrote, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons” instead. It’s a prequel to “These Walls DO Talk.” It’s been a real learning experience about the process. I’ve loved and hated all of it, to be honest. It’s all melding together to make sense now. Things I didn’t even consider are now blips on my radar. I needed those blips. Now they’re part of the process. I never considered quitting, however.

2020 Goals, Anyone?

I think you’re reading my best accomplishment; my blog and website. I’ve added some pages, changed the look here and there, and once I’m further along, I’ll add a page about each book. I look forward to that. It’s hard for me to talk about my life, but they kind of force you into it when you create an “About Me” page. It’s hard. And photos? Never enjoyed being photographed, I always took the photos of the kids.

And in the meantime, working with my FBIL (favorite brother-in-law) Brad, he built a new website for the VFW Post 2503. It’s beautiful. I’m learning a lot from him about what’s good and what isn’t. Good practice for a worthy cause.

Other Marketing? I am now on Facebook (Kathy Raabe, Author), Instagram @AuthorKathyR and Twitter @Author_KathyR. So is VFW Post 2503. Baby steps, but learning, still. I’m not sure I’m up for Pinterest, I’m on Social Media a lot, for myself, my author page, and the Post, I don’t want to add another commitment yet. Our Nebraska Writers Guild is active there and had training, but I didn’t keep it up.

I will not complain about how bad 2020 was. It was hard. I learned so much about the craft of writing and have much more to learn. And that’s why I’m here, doing this every day, keeping in touch to the folks who will buy my books and read them, gift them, and help me realize my dream. It’s never too late!

I thoroughly enjoyed the months I studied and wrote with Sam Tyler, my book coach. It was money well spent, and I had quite a few revelations happen in the last month while I took off from working on my novel. Things fell into place, and now I know I’m ready to dig in again. Looking forward to writing more!

Over the next few days, I’m going to make a new list of things I want to accomplish in 2021. Some items will simply carryover from last year, but they will be closer to being accomplished. It’s going to be a significant year as far as writing goes, I’m sure of it. Are you ready to come along with me? I hope so, you’ve stayed this long, let’s see what happens next. Maybe we’ll both have a surprise! It happens, you know.

Thank you for reading today; I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. Realize what you’ve done you didn’t set out to do. I learned a lot. I lost twenty pounds. I didn’t plan the Keto diet a year ago. It sort of happened in early November. It’s working! I’m continuing on that path, too. I feel better.

Continue being safe until we’re all vaccinated. The Babe and I will take it when our doctor advises us to. If he doesn’t think it’s safe, he won’t advise us to get the shot(s). It’s simple. Wear a mask. Be Safe. Wash Up.