Beautiful Book

Since my friend Lora and I attended the nationally touring show, “Van Gogh,” I’ve thought about the beautiful images this very talented man created; I’ve smiled to myself. It was such an enjoyable time. Here are the photos:

Since this outing, I’ve looked many times on Amazon at all things Van Gogh. The book of his letters fascinated me. We learned of his letters at the exhibit. I finally placed an order for these two;

The Secret Life of Sunflowers is a work of fiction; Van Gogh’s Letters is a collection of his sketches, with narratives included, to his family from the asylum he lived in. The Letters book is a beautiful book; excellent quality in paper and cover; they are smooth to the touch and have the shine of an upscale page.

To continue with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’m finished with the first 25 pages, describing what to do and the key concepts; The Artist’s Date, and The Morning Pages. I think the Artist’s Date will be easier for me to do. I know many, many people I can view their work and talk with them, and receive great inspiration.

I need to review about the morning pages. It really sounds like something I don’t want to do. I need a nice journal to capture those thoughts, whatever they are. Cameron has included a contract in her introduction. She requests people to make a commitment to themselves to complete the course in 12 weeks. Gosh, this will take me into late March! WOW! A lot can happen in 12 weeks.

Tomorrow, I will start on the first week of reading. I think I can catch up on the reading and exercises in time to start the second week. I’m excited to begin. Speaking of the beginning, I signed up for a series of painting sessions online. It was on a big sale, and I need to find which day of the week will be best for this extra activity. Gosh, that could even be my Art Date once a week.

The Babe is putting together three large book cases so we can finish unpacking after 8 years. When we begin our deep cleaning for spring/summer/fall 2023, I’ve eyeballed a few things to get rid of. I have many things I was going to use. We want to disburse the “wealth.” Or the stuff our parents forced us to take and give our kids and no one wants.

I will enjoy digging out our wedding photos, too. It’s been awhile since we saw them, and we’ll celebrate our 25th Anniversary this year. Lots to look forward to. Have a beautiful Sunday and we’ll see you tomorrow.

The Day After

Yesterday was the Bombshell Patriots Conference for Nebraska. It was a very emotional day. Stories shared, we heard about lives of patriotism, valor, anxiety, depression. How these people fought their way out of the darkness are stories of victory, faith, hope, and a strength that builds spirit, character, and heart. Some, unfortunately, cannot find their way from the darkness. The depression takes over.

They may not reveal depression, hopelessness, and PTSD symptoms. Their careers could be over by admitting these things. They struggle. Many cannot do it alone. We lose many to suicide. It breaks my heart to know that. The ratio of killed in action to killed by suicide is reversing at a frightening speed. Fewer KIA’s last year. Four times as many killed by suicide. We cannot look the other way while this happens. We owe our servicemen and women better.

The sisterhood I entered yesterday was incredible. Women helping women. What a noble concept. Not having any sisters, I often am at a loss figuring out how to fit with groups of women. I don’t need to do that with BSP. They honor each other where each of them are. This is key. The encouragement is something I’ve not encountered a lot. It was refreshing and comfortable.

The downside? For a person with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, I have pain every day. After a while, I needed to overcome it mentally. Sure, it hurts, but I know it won’t kill me; I don’t like it, but dang it, I can’t give up everything. That said, conferences and classes must be carefully scheduled. Not too many hours, no carrying stuff and off loading alone. I need to ask for help. And I need a day or two after to do nothing. Recuperation takes strategy, patience, and lots of self-love. And of course, gratitude.

Why gratitude? It’s because twenty-seven years ago, I had a tumor in my spinal column that was growing, pressing the spinal cord. The bone crushing pain I experienced was the worst I ever had. It would have paralyzed me except the neuro doc saw an arachnoid cyst. He learned about it in school, but never saw one. Surgery took over eight hours. I’m grateful every day I can get up and walk. Sure it hurts. It could be so much worse. Sure, it could be so much better. That isn’t even a remote possibility. I have to choose positivity.

Do I have days I don’t want to move? Yes. I have days I don’t want to. I know I’m better up and living. Each day has hope for me. It’s a necessity. Creative endeavors are a must. Writing clears my whole soul. I get strength from it. I’m better at creating than anything else. Quilts, stories, and many needle arts projects will have my time.

As we have a quiet evening and consider what we need to do the next week, I hope you are also enjoying a quiet evening. The week will be another busy one. And I will think of the room full of women and a few men who spent time yesterday with the Bombshells. Long may they reach out. Female veterans need them. I support that. Bless all of them.

Take care this week. Be purposeful about your work and play. Be sure to play. Let’s see each other again tomorrow.

What to Do? Act or React?

Many feelings are strange things that surface at the worst times. In the middle of a great day, it can strike and cause your good mood to tailspin, feeling abandoned or terribly isolated. As if no one loves you. What brought that on? Hard to say.

A trivial phrase, image, sound or smell can uncover the deeply hidden triggers of our feelings. We thought we had that handled. How dare our feelings do that to us! We all have feelings, much as we don’t want to admit it. We think we are so smart, so hidden, so in control. Guess again.

We’re not responsible for what we feel or where it comes from. It’s part of the patchwork that is all of us. We cannot control the triggers, either, but we can control what we do with our feelings. We can feel them, let them roll over us and turn us into a jerk, who takes it out on everyone who crosses our path. When you allow that to happen, you are definitely not managing your feelings.

The key to emotion management is positive thinking. Hard to believe? Not really. There are negative emotions in all of us. Some reactions we have to memories of are those we saw growing up. If our parents became angry and ranted while raving, chances are we might do that. I did that for a while. It was what I saw many times. Then we repeat the behavior.

How much better to accept things are not working correctly, and choose to remain calm, and find a positive thought. Make that positive thought your focus. You will become better able to deal with situations that bring up terrible memories, and learn to take positive action until it becomes a habit. You can conquer it.

You have learned how to act instead of react. It takes practice and confident. I can manage emotions with positive, consistent action. This is the definition of emotional management.

The Babe did a tremendous favor for me today. I purchased a couple of bookcases, and he put one together. It was a nearly all day project. The pieces were too heavy for me to hold in place while he pushed the parts together. And, if I ever think I can get down on the floor, sit cross-legged, and hold a shelf in the air while the Babe secures it, would you remind me of my aching knees, my inability to get up from the floor easily and of my inability to get down on the floor? It’s crazy how our minds make us think you can still do them. In my brain I am 25, but the body is nearly 70! That sure sets me back. I’ll have to think about this.

At any rate, I’m putting all the random books purchased in the past five years together in one shelving unit. I’ll share a photo of the spot in the bedroom. I love the way it invites me to sit and read a bit. The other day, I worked on catching up with my read the Bible in one-year program. Yes, a lot of it is repeating, yet it still makes in impression. Over the last 20 years, I’ve joined many Bible Studies. They may have been parts of the Bible, or one book. Intensive study, watching video and reading. A lot of reading. I’ve enjoyed the process, learning more each time.

I’m reading a fascinating book, a true story, “My Life with Karma.” The man tells his story. It’s a story of an alcoholic, abusive father, and the abuse Travis Sackett endured. Also, it’s a story of his life and experiences with opioid addiction. It’s a story of how he became a functional addict until he had to break the law. I am about half finished with it, and I find it fascinating. He was a law enforcement officer, and he criticizes the training of police. Specifically, training to handle a person who is non-compliant to verbal commands, (put your hands up, sit down on the curb, put your hands in the air,). He criticizes the next step being using some sort of force. I will finish the book before I form an opinion on that subject.

Have a beautiful evening. I’m going to finish cooking dinner and might put some more books on their new home. They are all books I have not read yet. (p.s. Don’t tell the Babe!). I cannot wait to have the other smaller bookcase ready, then the three tall bookcases. All my photo albums, wedding photos, and quilting books. Like old friends at a reunion. I look forward to it. Thank you for reading today, and we will see each other tomorrow! Take care.

Saturday and Sunday! WOW!

What a great day Saturday! I shared a table at the Holiday Market at the VFW Post 2503 with info for Guitars for Vets. I purchased a supply of Nebraska Writers Guilds 5th Anthologies to sell. I made just a couple dollars on each sale, but I got a real kick out of doing it. We were warned the price would increase by December 11. When I purchased my 24 books, they were $12.99 each. I just checked Amazon, and the price increased to $18.99. I’ve sold eleven books already, and am so excited. Here’s a link to Amazon, in case you’d like to order directly from them.

Sunday, I had another occasion to spend with some cousins and their families at a baby shower. My cousins are expecting their first grandchild in February, 2022. What a happy, happy event in their near future. The whole family is Gaga over the little miss already. As it should be. I cannot wait to see photos and to hold her. Until then, what a fun time. And the cookies here reflect the baby woodland nursery theme. Simply adorable!

Cuteness Overload!

As I’m writing this early Monday morning, I’m saddened by the devastation in Illinois, Kentucky, and other places with the deadly tornadoes. Those poor people. Events like this show the absolute power nature has to turn our lives upside down while others are unaffected during the same moments. When we live our lives unscathed, we know there, but by the grace of God, go I. It could be any of us, it could happen at any time.

This is the true test of a positive person. First, it’s important to be grateful for our daily good fortune. Some may question, “How can God allow things like this to happen?” I have no answer for that. I am a mere mortal, and have no right to question God, nor try to understand His way. Perhaps it’s a test for the rest of us, to see how generous we can be in helping rebuild these communities, to see how much we can pray, see how we react and treat each other. This season of love, we need to be more and do more in the true spirit of giving, presence, and attitude.

A meme I saw the other day was perfect: “The First Christmas wasn’t perfect; what makes us think ours should be.” Don’t let Pinterest make you feel less; don’t let Social Media make you feel as if you should do more tablescapes and backyard harvest creations. No, your toddlers don’t care. Your teenagers don’t care. Don’t be pressured into thinking there is success in these excesses. Your spouses would rather have you feeling calm and collected than decorated to the hilt. Makes you reevaluate, doesn’t it?

Blood donations, searching and rescuing for family pets, feeding people where they shelter in place, it all matters. It all helps. I know as we speak, there are Church Quilt groups who are cutting, layering, and sewing or tying quilts to give to people who have lost everything. There are Red Cross groups all over the nation, collecting blood, blankets, money, clothing, and water.

Maybe acquire a few less things for storage through the years and use annually. Do we need all that? Probably not. Sometimes we need to struggle with the sentiment and see if these things make sense anymore. Many of my decorations were acquired over the years. Some make me happy with the memories. I’ll keep them for a bit. Not forever. The Babe is all for getting rid of everything. He’s not a fan of Christmas. I am, but have struggled over the past few years.

For all this man has done for me and taught me about love, he made me understand I overdid with gifts and my kids. And him. Now, we only do gifts for the grandkids. We truly can buy anything we want during the year. It would be nice to have a gift to open, but it’s really about what’s in your heart. It’s about the love of the Christ child and God’s love for us. Don’t lose that focus. It’s easy to, but He’s always there. If it’s hard to find Him in our lives, it’s because we’re not focused on Him.

As you work through the days we have left before Christmas, keep in mind what we are here for. Don’t let the News cycles concentrating on disasters and negativity keep you down and make you stay there. Do something positive to help the folks who are less fortunate and have come upon hard times. It happens for all of us at some times. We need to remain positive. It’s the only way to keep sane.

It’s true people never speak from their deathbeds they wish they could have worked more. A friend of ours is in town to help bury his son, who passed this week, possibly from COVID. So very sad. Young and healthy, life on track, and just had a baby and plans for marriage. Our heart goes out to them all. Life is way too short. See you tomorrow.

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries!

I’m not sure where this saying came from, but I vaguely remember Mom singing it when my brothers were little. Here’s a snippet of the song, sung by the amazing Judy Garland. Judy was an incredible talent. We remember her as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, a beloved movie made in the 1930’s. It’s a classic we can all relate to. I apologize for the “black face” in the video. This was filmed in 1964, when that sort of thing was permissable. I’m glad we no longer allow that. I doubt Ms. Garland’s life was a bowl of cherries. Multiple marriages, miscarriages, bouts with pills and alcohol, and the studio chiefs doing what they wanted with her. No, it was certainly no bowl of cherries. At the age of 13 she was put on diet pills, the studio didn’t want her having any extra weight. She had yo-yo diets, more pills and booze, and died early in 1969, at the age of 47, from an accidental barbituate overdose. How sad.

She was the star in the first remake of “A Star is Born.” Barbara Streisand followed her; as Lady Gaga followed Streisand. I remember bits and pieces of the Garland portrayal. I saw it on TCM one night while channel surfing. Financial woes troubled many child stars in Hollywood, and she was no exception. Her daughter Liza Minelli had to pay the IRS, and many other agencies/businesses who were owed money. Living lavishly while producers and managers bilked your money were frequent occurrances. Sad.

I also remember Erma Bombeck (a favorite of mine), had a book titled, “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, Why Am I Always in the Pits?” All that aside, the Babe brought home these delicious, sweet cherries yesterday. I could eat the whole bowl, and regret it for days afterwards, I’m sure. The other favorite fruit this time of year is Black Diamond Watermelons, sold at local produce stands. It’s a real bonus of summer when you live in Nebraska.

We shall see!

So, I had to order this book. I have several more chapters already written for my novel, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.” I’m still running Chapter One through software to help improve it. I find it maddening when they suggest a comma, then next time I check my work, it’s an error, and they want the comma removed. Sheesh! Make up your mind already! I may revert back to the original chapter after all.

I believe you have to be in a certain mindset, with the do’s and don’ts in front of you. Any writers out there who have used this book? I’d love a comment from you. Good or bad. I already see it was written in 2008. But I love the quote in the Introduction Chapter.

It’s always too early to quit.” – Norman Vincent Peale

This is my current mantra. I have a fledgling kid book waiting illustration, and chapters for a novel. I’m submitting one chapter to the Nebraska Writers Guild search for writings to include in their Fifth Anthology book to be published in December, 2021. I’m excited about doing that. I may try my hand at a poem, song lyrics style.

This seems to be an interesting way to dissect your story, plan it out, and get it all told in an orderly fashion. It has elements my book coach, Sam Tyler, taught me last summer. Now, it’s all making more sense, Sam! I’m so glad we spent time working together last year.

Eureka! I forgot I need to put a program together for a presentation we’re doing at the Post on Sunday. I’ve done that kind of thing one other time in my life. It was for our Community College, the “Master of Ceremonies” took ill at the last minute, so I substituted for her. It was a good experience. This will also be a good experience. We’re presenting the funds we’ve raised for two Veterans organizations and the Nebraska Concerns of Police Survivors. I’m so proud to be associated with the good people who lead these groups, and with our Veterans at VFW Post 2503, who help support them. It’s going to be a busy, busy week!

With all there is to do, I will continue to do my 71 squats a day (at the sink) and 22 wall push ups. This helps me focus on part of my purpose at this point in life: Be a blessing to others. Get help for where it’s needed. Support our troops! Especially those in Afghanistan right now. Our Veterans need our support. Reach out if you know anyone who’s been in Afghanistan at any time during the last 20 years. They’re having a hard time right now. Thank you for praying for them all.

I’m off to re-edit my chapter, read a little of the “Book in a Month” book, write a draft of the program Sunday, and do some website work for the Post. It’ll be busy, for sure. Hope you have a great day, and that we see each other tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Merry Christmas, 2020!

My hope for you on this Christmas of this strange year is you are safe, warm, fed, and have plenty of books to enjoy. We are joining some very close relatives later for dinner, so it will be a nice celebration today. I hope you have a day of joy, too.

My last song of some favorites for Christmas is this one, “Christmas, Baby Please Come Home.” I can tell you it was a background for many, many late nights for me before Christmas back in the 1980s when I was a single Mom. My three kids and I were happy together, and I loved having things for them to open on Christmas morning.

Truth of the matter was, we were terribly broke all the time. I started putting things in layaway in October. I worked in Downtown Omaha, and the Woolworth’s store was still open. I paid weekly, a mere $5 weekly, and eventually got the goods out. I put them in the car at the parking garage across the street, then covered it all up with a blanket. Hard to conceal things in a station wagon.

I’d pick the kids up from their after school places, went home, we made dinner, watched tv while I studied, and then, I started wrapping everything when they went to bed. Sometimes it took until after midnight. Several nights in a row. I could always count on being entertained by the Late Show with David Letterman.

Just before the big day, he always had Darlene Love on to sing her famous Christmas song. I’ve always loved her voice, and learned her story just a few years ago. “Five Feet From Stardom is a documentary about what she was; a background singer. Genius Phil Spector stole her voice and marketed it as a white girl, but that’s another story.

This video is from Darlene’s last appearance on David Letterman, the last Christmas time he was on the air before retirement. It was magnificent. I had no gifts for the kids to wrap, so I just listened and remembered. Thanks for the memories, Darlene, and Dave, and Frankie, Nick, and Becky. You made my Christmases worth it. Much love to all of you and yours, know I love you all. Merry Christmas, everyone! Thanks for reading today, see you tomorrow!