Monday Morn

Have you ever had a consumer complaint against a company regarding payment that lingered on for nearly a year? Hope that never happens to any of you. I just finally got it resolved this morning.

I was a customer of Phillips 66 Gasoline company since 1988. Some of you weren’t even born yet! But yes, never an issue. In the last year with gas prices escalating, I paid special attention to our monthly bills. The Babe and I used the same account, and I paid the balance off every month. Last year, July of 2021, the bills went up over $100 a month. Now, they’re even higher, although we now each pay at the pump as we individually fill up whichever vehicle we’re driving.

In July, I paid the bill through First National Bank’s Bill Pay feature. Always reliable. Late last summer, the oil company switched from in-house credit to Synchrony Credit. Not good. Not good at all.

At first, I gave them the benefit of the doubt. The only way to resolve anything was phone only. And hold on forever until you’re sure you’re on IGNORE, not HOLD. That puts you in an immediate bad mood, holding on for 20 minutes. I secured what was needed from my bank – numerous times. I got the credit, then a month or two later, bam. They added the amount of $214 + change back on to my account, saying I didn’t provide them with what was needed. Wow.

I can tell you, they no longer care how long you’ve been a customer. They no longer care you cut up your credit card. They often cut your call off in the middle of talking. You have to start over with the hold/ignore cycle. Aggravating as heck.

I received a message from Synchrony again I needed to provide more information. I called the number, finally with an extension number, and talked to a lady I could understand. Bonus! She actually investigated my account and told me they applied it to my BP VISA card. Which I’ve never had. At last! They made a boo-boo! Vindicated, after all this time! I was about ready to celebrate a one year anniversary with that $214.++ balance. (Sarcasm font used).

Cue Etta James’ At Last. Finally! I found a decent customer service rep.

As we go throughout the rest of the day, let’s be pleasant with customer service reps. While searching for “service” stock photos, mostly baristas appear. Isn’t that crazy, what we’ve become? You won’t see a clerk at a department store as an example, either. My, how things have changed. A lot of years have passed between seeing Grandma Jewell standing behind the glass candy display counter at the family drug and sundries store, and Mr. Chase working in the pharmacy, compounding drugs. Grandma knew every kid in South Omaha. And they respected her, too. She was just that way. What fond memories I have of her!

I’m off to a meeting now, hope you all have a wonderful Monday. I’m having one, it will just get better. Make it a sunny day where you are. See you tomorrow!

Shhh! She’s Fixing the World!

The little lady in this header photograph today may not have access to enough bandages to fix the entire world. Do enough even exist? Will this cause a supply chain issue? Gosh, maybe she should stop. I mean, it’s a gigantic job. And she’s pretty young. Too little to go far alone. Why crush her dream?

Current attention spans aside, she may become bored and stop on her own. No need to crush her dream. It’s so important to let little children dream big. Not that they’ll be the next Bruce Springsteen, Shel Silverstein, or Pete Rose. (Yes, he should be in the hall of fame!) Big dreams help kids investigate how to achieve those dreams. Whether he or she needs music lessons and knowledge, writing lessons and practice, or baseball coaching one on one. Or science instruction, study, experiments. Let them dream and achieve.

Whether they’re male or female, we need to let them find their own way. Then they can fix the world around them. They learn to take ideas and make reality from them. Through creative things, they can heal the world. And show others how to do so. Art and music touch our hearts and make them feel better, from the inside out. All healing goes that way. Inside out. Anyone who heals from trauma and brokenness, including broken heartedness, knows the strength you feel upon healing. That is how we fix the world. One person at a time.

I cannot pass Mother’s Day without wishing the Mom’s out there to have a good day. It can be a hard day. Parts of mine are hard, parts are not. I don’t think this is unusual. Although things didn’t quite go as I would have liked, I would never trade my kids for anything. Raising them were some of the happiest years of my life. Living with their father wasn’t.

I believe a large group of women who serve as bonus mothers who deserve kudos. They’re the women who love their partner’s children because they belong to him. And they love the children. And the children love them back. I’m a lucky step-mom myself. I gained steps when they were adults. The Babe’s two children fit exactly in between my three. Making five kids spanning 7 years. We laugh and say it would have been all over if we’d met when they were little. That’s a lot of kids all in the same age groups!

It would have worked, and our kid’s lives would have been more integrated than now. They don’t really know each other. It’s impossible to get them all together. It’s ok. We get to enjoy them all separately. And we love them, different as they all are. We are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. It hasn’t always been this way. It took years individually and together to get here. Take heart, things are possible you can’t imagine right now. And the hard work is worth it.

Tomorrow will be the day I pick back up to get my studio/office back in order. We had two lovely days off, where all we did was see our grandson play ball, and today, where we spent time together at home, ate, took a nap, and had coffee on the deck in the chill of morning. It’s our favorite place in the summer. From zero dark thirty until the sun rises above the treeline, we talk, sit, and rock in our rocking chairs. It’s a daily vacation. Then we live our lives for the rest of the day.

Have a beautiful evening. Be positive. Keep ahead of the bad feelings. Make sure you talk with someone if you can’t come back from feelings of negativity, worthlessness, and not caring. We are human and we have to care. We have to be cared about. It’s what we’re made for. I care. We can walk together to get you where you need to be.

Magical Monday Morning

Here we are, in the sunny brightness at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. I woke this morning to several beautiful sounds. One was the Babe talking to one of the dogs. It’s always sweet and he is so kind to them. I sort of dozed, and then heard a woodpecker. He was all about the business of pecking some tree. It’s an interesting way to start the day.

Then, sweetly, Roxie jumped up on the bed and licked my face and neck. She loves the smell (and taste; I suppose) of my makeup remover sheets. I ran out of lavender scented ones, but these are a close second. She licked and then laid her head on me as I pet her. It is very comforting when either dog does that. I don’t want those moments to end, and just let them hug on me, if that’s what they’re doing. When she’s afraid of thunder and lightning, she comes to me. She’s not upset; she just wants to be by me. And that’s ok. Who of us doesn’t want to just be by each other sometimes?

When Goldie left my side to lie on the empty side of the bed and look out of the window, I rose and started the day. I felt so loved. God let me wake; he had Goldie show her Labrador love; and He serenaded me with a Woodpecker’s concerto. If you would be grumpy and negative after all that, we cannot be friends. There is always something to be positive about; to be grateful for; and to have hope for the future. Which will be a thing to work on. For starters, see you tomorrow!

Beauty/Loveableness/Teens

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!

What Day Is This?

I’m sure everyone has asked themselves that question during the last ten days. I’ve been a day ahead of myself all week for some reason. It’s perfect to have it during vacation, with the holidays themselves on Saturday. Recuperate on Sunday, back to work on Monday? Maybe. Some folks will have designated holidays on Monday, and schools won’t go back until Tuesday or Wednesday.

This is Thursday, I had some office work at the Post to help the Babe; he had two funerals at the Omaha National Cemetery for the VFW Post 2503 Honor Guard. The Commander’s wife was decorating for New Year’s Eve; it will be beautiful. A lot of progress is evident at the Post; a year ago, we met to begin planning the great remodel of the facilities. It’s coming along nicely. The bar area is the last and will be most expensive, as it includes the rest rooms. The 90th Anniversary Party is in April, 2022, and it will be wonderful.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying:

“The hero is no braver than the ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.”

All of us are capable of heroic acts. My dad was a hero in WWII and Korea. He was also a hero to me. He was a great example of working (perhaps too hard), and staying the course. He was unwavering in anything having to do with providing for his family. Shows of affection were a bit more difficult for him. His mother told me once, “he took after his father in that department.” Grandpa finished growing up in an orphanage, one of ten children, hugs weren’t given away freely in that era.

Heroes we refer to who save a regiment of soldiers solo are much more glamorous than everyday, working class heroes. Consistency is what matters. Integrity is what matters. Above and beyond often means taking care of yourself so you can care for others. It’s not news-worthy but it is necessary in life. Staying the course, being consistent, and honesty are critical. We are all capable of doing small but heroic deeds in our daily lives. Keeping on our workout routine and eating healthy makes you a hero to your child, who needs you to be there for him or her as they grow up. Be your child’s hero. Those of us who achieve hero status just have worked at it a little longer than others. But we all can do it. Let’s join each other in being each other’s heroes next year. Help each other along.

Try and list all the things that turned out well this year. Concentrate on the positive. Despite everything, I’m thrilled with how 2021 played out for me. I became not only a published blogger online, but also in print; in Nebraska Writer’s Guild Anthology #5. I’m nearly there. What have you accomplished despite the odds? Be your own hero. You know you were braver than you ever thought for even five more minutes. Be safe out there. See you tomorrow, as we say goodbye to 2021.

ATM Blues, Part II

Back in February, I wrote about the problems I was having with a new ATM card. The new machine upgrades were incompatible with the raised letters and numbers on the card. A branch office said they had some problems and issued me a flat card. Things were working well, until I received a new green card, just like my ATM card. I figured they were issuing new ones to catch us up. No problem.

Lately, it is a 30 minute wait to talk to a human in their customer service department. Something is wrong with that. Either their software upgrades aren’t being tested for every thing than can happen, or they cut staff too much. Service is not what it once was. So, new green card in hand, as my ATM card always was colored, we went off to the machine. No money. What?? I later called, reset my PIN, and tried again today. Still no money. What gives?

Much as I pride myself in my patience, it was wearing thin. I waited and a person called me to his window. I explained the problem. He said “No, this is a credit card.” I said, I always run my transactions as CREDIT for the extra protection there is. I assumed because it was green, as my ATM card had always been, it was a new ATM card. The only place there is a referral to “Credit Card” on the paper it arrived glued upon was under the “credit” card. Who looks at that? Why couldn’t they have told me in advance they were changing my Platinum colored VISA card to GREEN? I would have known better.

I found myself very angry at the situation. Not because I made a mistake. I believe their failure to anticipate a situation like this makes me doubt their effectiveness in business. It was a huge change they did not prepare their customers for at all. A business doesn’t do that. No, it’s not because I’m and elderly woman who doesn’t get computers. I understand them quite well, “for a girl.” Common sense should have made them aware of the frustration they would be causing. In the times I worked, you didn’t leave a stone like this unturned. I didn’t like myself getting angry. I plan to document the experience and they will ignore me, and think I’m daft, dismissing my concerns.

The countless meetings we had when introducing changes to any insurance system required lots of investigation, and a tally of everything (and I mean everything!) it could possibly affect. No wonder the companay I used to work for sold off all of their health insurance business. They now deal with investing and property management. Smart move, they got out before Obamacare was introduced. I was there in the 1990’s when Clinton was elected. We lost a lot of good people who jumped ship and went to First Data Corporation. They were not waiting until our jobs were done away with. Smart moves, guys.

At this point, I have put a pin in the frustration and anger. It’s over. I won’t carry it or let it ruin my day. All I can do is pray somehow the world has common sense and better project management for big changes in people’s insurance, banking, and medical care issues. It’s a huge deal to retired people, and should be for anyone using such services. Soapbox is not put away. Thank you!

What do you think? Have you had a similar experience? Tell me in the comments. I’d like to know. The moral of this story is, “Don’t let it ruin our day.” Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow! Be Safe.

Acceptance

As people living on this earth, we’re never done growing and improving. It doesn’t matter if you’re an addict in recovery or a person simply trying to be a better person. We will never be finished! That is the blessing and the curse of being a person in this imperfect world.

It’s difficult to admit we’re not perfect. But you know what? After you are honest with yourself, it’s quite a load off your mind and soul. Accepting you’re not perfect helps a lot. And God loves us just as we are. He’ll give us every last chance there is, that’s how much he loves us. If nothing gives you goosebumps, that should. We get a lifetime of do-overs. What luck!

As we grow and change, we may or not want what we wanted ten or twenty years ago. That is especially true of things that keep us from achieving what we need to achieve in our lives. I have learned that despite the fact I only ever wanted to be a Mom, there are many, many years beyond being a Grandmother that can yield some awesome things; creations you’ve always dreamed of, getting to do more than you ever thought possible, and learning more than you could imagine.

There is a vitality in learning. In taking risks to do something you’ve never done before. In putting yourself out there for the world to see. Some will love what you do. Some will not. Will that stop you? I think not. As you go along, you have a new community you enter. Other people who love what you do. Others who understand your new found passion. Others who encourage you. It’s grand. Some will not be happy for you. Some will not understand why you want to work so hard when you’re retired. And that’s fine. You remember where you came from. You still love your people. You are not willing to accept the status quo. You want to push your limits, within reason. “Go for it,” I say! Why not?

We’re all born to reach towards love. We all reach towards our needs, in love and in life. Some lessons we learned weren’t universal. We are lovable. We can love. Our ideas aren’t wrong or crazy. Just because you’re different doesn’t mean you’re wrong or crazy. Since I almost always had my own room, I practically lived there while I was growing up. The old Beach Boys song, “In My Room” was one I related to on every level. I drew, designed fashion, wrote plays, and tried to draw. Mom always said, “You should quit trying to draw people. They’re terrible!” Thanks, Mom. I’d like to learn how to someday. My bucket list is long, and has numerous items like learning to paint. Learning to draw. Finish every quilt I’ve ever loved. All creative endeavors. My soul feels so good while I’m writing, learning, sewing, quilting, all the stuff I love to do.

I’m gradually carving more time out for all of this by correcting my bad habits that sabotage me. I’m not scolding myself when I fail. Some days I do. It’s ok. Tomorrow I won’t. Baby steps towards more life in my hours. And being positive. I would have never made it this far if I hadn’t always tried to be positive. So far, it’s worked for me.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, author, nurse, and companion to Mario Puzo, Carol Gino is holding a three day Facebook Challenge about discovering the rest of your soul – and adding a new level of consciousness to your life. I am very interested in this. I believe it will be an asset to me to learn what she has to teach me. Because of certain close calls in life (my son’s drowning, my other son’s ruptured appendix, and things surrounding my dad’s death), I think there is something there, inside of me, that I need to find and release. I believe it should be enlightening. Join us if you’d like. 2 p.m. CDT. Soul Star Academy on FB.

Thanks for reading today. We’ve had three weather changes already today, and it’s only 12:11 p.m. Rain, Sun, Rain while Sunny, and now more sun. Crazy. There’s a closet calling to me. It’s my spot to de-clutter today. Onwards, to better habits, folks! Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be back tomorrow. I know I will. See you then!