Grief. Confusing?

Yes, it is. There are several stages, and you may rock back and forth between them. One minute, you may recall wonderful memories, and suddenly, painful memories rear their ugly head. The feelings are contradictory, and totally normal. The key is to learn how to navigate among them. Ignoring them does not work. I tried.

Applying alcohol or drugs to the pain is counterproductive and causes other problems. My siblings and I tried that (no drugs for me, just alcohol and withdrawing), along with never talking about Dad. Mom usually became angry when we did. Years later, we individually compared notes, and learned a lot. We also learned to share the happy memories and enjoy talking about him. It’s much healthier and we could move on then.

The thing is, the feeling of choice for many people is anger. All that does is try to blanket fear. That doesn’t work, either. Fear is usually unfounded, unless it’s a twelve foot grizzly bear in the Montana wilderness growling in your face. Then fear is very justified.

Fears originate from the unknown. Often folks who are fearful think they need to execute every move according to their rigid plan. Our plans, foiled by life, often are useless. Yes, knowing what your life work is and achieving the education and experiences to realize that plan is great. Sometimes, the plan, spoiled by life events like death, loss of financial support, unexpected pregnancy, and a host of other things, does not work out.

That doesn’t make you or me a failure. You will feel grief. Your plan cannot work right now, but maybe later. Maybe you need a better plan, a different timetable or different source of revenue.And yes, you can be angry with the situation. Remaining that way will affect your life in very negative ways. You will become negative. Getting through the anger is hard work, but worth it.

Feeling guilt for things said or not said, things done or not done is also normal. Those are mistaken sentiments, especially if you feel, “I should have . . . ” or if you feel as if “I’m being punished because I . . . “. God doesn’t play with us like that. He wants to comfort us.

At long last, the frustration, exhaustion and fog lifts and we can accept the change the loss has caused in our life. It is our life, and it won’t be the same. Sure, we’ll still be sad from time to time. We won’t find ourselves lost in it, though. Life goes on. We need to live ours while we have the opportunity.

Acceptance does not mean forgetting the loved one or the dream. It means putting it in a place where you can remember without pain or anger. Acceptance means the loss is a fact in life. An ultimate fact. And you have healed your way there.

Thank you for reading about something most of us would rather avoid. Living again is the best result of all. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday Words

A new friend gave me a gift when she asked if I’d read “Bird by Bird”. I hadn’t. I purchased the book and enjoyed Anne Lamott’s take on writing and life. So many similarities. I recognized some of her phrasing as that of 12-step program talk. Interestingly, she is a recovering alcoholic. She didn’t go into detail about that. I recognize the jargon because of the number of books I’ve read over the year to understand my family better.

The book has a great deal of humor, and it made me laugh at how we writers are in the pursuit of a complete book. I could laugh at the scenarios I will find myself in. It is a ridiculous idea on some levels. But the end of the book, the very last chapter called, “The Last Class” was the best. It was full of aha moments for me It told me why I want to write.

Writing should be about being real. I need to bring that to the forefront. I need to stop the concern about the reality of the situations and the fallout and tell the damned story. Readers will resonate with things that are universal. If your mother burned your hand on a hot stove as punishment when you were a child, you need to tell about it. To protect yourself from libel, you need to make the character who does the despicable act not even resemble your mother or crazy Uncle Fred. If you were an only child, make the kid one of six. Change it up. The characters don’t matter as much as the relatable story around them. I want to do this. I must do this.

Every marvellous story has its share of sadness, bad things that happen to the protagonist, and good things that leave you cheering on the last page. We should leave the reader with the sense of having spent it all on the field, and by some divine intervention, good things result from the struggles. It’s about the growth, struggles, and what results.

Becoming a writer has indeed changed the way I read. There are scenes I notice now. Two years ago, I did not. There are subtle changes I didn’t notice before. I am more invested. There is a place for me now. I can tell the story of the painfully shy little girl who tried so hard to make everyone’s life easier. When she grows up, she learns it wasn’t her job. Now, she can tell others it isn’t their job. I love where I come from, and I deeply love where I am now. The next ten years are going to be the best. The thing of it is, by writing, I will deal with the things I’ve had on my mind all my life. I’ll weave stories others can learn from. It’s the same with a songwriter or a playwright. The grit from real life makes stories we shape and form and tell the truth as you understand it. (Some AA jargon, right?)

Anne Lamott tells writers they should be lighthouses. Lighthouses don’t run around finding people to illuminate; they stay in place, share their light to whomever needs it, and invite people to rest with them. Thank you, Barbara Madden.

Our conversation helped me figure out a few things to do and led me to another fantastic book (newly published) “Ordinary on Purpose.” Mikala Albertson, MD, shares her story of ditching the perfect life and admitting out loud all the things that were wrong. Her husband, addicted to drugs. She barely scraping by with her Med School Studies. Her two little boys, so deserving of a perfect life. None of us have one. Do we even want one?

I have a date with Mikala Albertson’s book tonight and tomorrow. I’ve read a mere 20 pages and I am enthralled. The truth shall set you free. That never changes, does it?

We have a couple things going on – St. Patrick’s Day at the Post tomorrow and Mom adjusting to her schedule since the daylight savings time changeover. It’s hard for a person who is low-sighted. I have a few things to work on for the Honor Guard Banquet on Saturday. Life is full if it is anything. Let’s see each other tomorrow and be careful out there. Thanks for reading.

Mom’s New Wheels

This morning, I’m reflecting on life since Mom fell. That’s kind of how life of an elderly person is gauged. At 92 and insisting on aging in place, it’s my brothers and my job to make sure she’s as safe as she can be. Whoever said parent becomes child, and child becomes parent was right. And it’s meant with the utmost respect. I’m thinking back on when I lived with Mom and Dad when my son Frankie was born, 50 years ago this October 20. I stayed with them while my first husband was in the service. He isn’t a Veteran of a Foreign War but of the Vietnam ERA. He was stationed in Europe.

They were doing a huge remodeling project to prepare for their 25th wedding anniversary party in their home. Once Frankie started walking (he did at 10 1/2 months and has been on his feet ever since!), it was our job to make that same house safe as he manipulated through it, walking or crawling at break-neck speed.

I’ll never forget her laughing when he grabbed a handful of her brand new white sheers and started chewing on them. Somehow, he snagged them. Instead of blowing her top, she laughed. Who was this woman? Her prized, very expensive sheer curtains, snagged. Ruined, really. She’d have killed any of my siblings or me for the same action. Wow. Wasn’t the first time my son has amazed me.

Isn’t life just full or ironies? I’m glad God has a sense of humor. Wouldn’t life be boring if He didn’t? I think it would be, definitely. Mom’s doctor told her she had to quit using the cane, and use walkers 24/7. Mom had been resisting. Sure, it’s a symbol of some independence lost. I had been trying to convince her all summer to use one. I pitched how much steadier she would be, and how it would actually save her some energy, something we’ve witnessed declining over the last 4 months.

Now, it’s a great idea since her doctor told her. Well, that along with if she keeps falling, it’s an assisted care center. Mom doesn’t understand how nice they are, and if she doesn’t want to participate in activities, she doesn’t have to. That also is a topic for another day.

The Babe looked in the closet the Post has with durable medical equipment in it, and found a walker with the seat on it. Old folks love them, they can stow snacks in them, and have a more secure walk. She’s a firm believer now. We did a maiden voyage Sunday to the wedding shower, and a second trip out yesterday to get her haircut and a perm. She was eager to try her new wheels out, away from the house.

She kept asking “What do you want me to do?” Who is this woman? I told her how I thought moving about to the driveway should go. She jumped right on it. It reminded me of how a baby can scoot around once they get used to their walkers. Back in the day, they had round walkers, with wheels on them. (Sadly, they’re no longer allowed. Too dangerous). Unless they were stopped by an ill placed throw rug, they could pretty much cruise on, full speed ahead. First, my babies, now my mom. Moving around is no longer such an effort for her. We’re thanking God she had enough of a scare to get her attention, and nothing was broken.

One of the most important things? Her spirit and zest seems to be somewhat restored. Her courage is restored. She is less afraid than a month ago. She has seen how she needed the assist of a walker. She says she had no idea how tired it made her trying to stay upright with just a cane or holding onto furniture while navigating her house. It’s a win-win. And nothing is broken. Not even her spirit anymore.

While my brothers and I enjoy a beautiful fall day in Nebraska (well, I will. They’re both stil working!), think about what you may be deep-down fearful of. Trying out a new hobby? Drawing? Art? Making new friends? Is something in you holding you back from enjoying your life? Get some new wheels for yourself. No, not a car. Send fear packing. Get your sense of adventure back. No matter what, you can still Live a Great Story! See you tomorrow.

Overcoming FEAR

Ideas for writing this daily blog drop into my lap some days. I’ve read something from two unique sources about the same topic – FEAR. It’s something we all have; it wears many masks, though.

The first time I tried to speak to a large group of people was when I was a senior in high school. I never had debate or speech or drama classes. I just simply did NOT want to do that. Ever. I was painfully shy, which really didn’t help. Everyone who was an after-school club President had to give a presentation to the entire Freshman Class; it was about 250 people. I was the Art Club President.

I remember writing what I wanted to say. It sounded so good in my head. When it was my turn to speak, I stood at the podium and looked out at the sea of hunter green uniforms; and I froze. I felt nauseous, hot, cold, and I shook. I stood there and could not utter one word into the microphone. I was so embarrassed. Finally, I stepped away and stood near the other club presidents. One boy named Dave Schwee told me, “It’s OK.” I was grateful to him for that.

You can imagine how shocked I was when one girl, a quiet girl like me, approached me a week later and said she wanted to join the Art Club. Maybe she related to my terror. It was something I’ve never forgotten. I believe now there was a lesson for me in that. Even though I died in front of that microphone, I remembered how that felt. Twenty years later, I took Public Speaking class at a local University AND joined a group for business people to practice public speaking – Toastmasters. I learned how to speak, and it doesn’t bother me now. I haven’t done it for a while, and I must practice for when Cartney McGuigan (my illustrator) and I have our book launch later in 2021. I’m sure she’ll have no problem speaking. She is accomplished in acting, forensics, and singing onstage. I will learn a lot more than about art from her!

Julia Cameron, Author of The Artist’s Way and The Listening Path, describes fear as, “Perfectionism in a fancy dress.” I need to read more about her theory, at first I disagree with her. My fear of water isn’t perfectionism (at least I don’t think it is)! It’s the knowledge I will absolutely, positively DROWN if I am in deep water. What do you all think?

Julia continues we “don’t want to look foolish.” I get that. She claims we hang back, thinking we’re being sensible. Hanging back paves the road to kill our creativity; we don’t realize our potential, and we can deny our human need to create. OK, maybe that is what it really is. I need to think on that some more. I’ve certainly started to think creatively again after a couple months off.

Julia also tells us to let go of any fears you have about the drawing, painting, writing, or anything creative. We need to stop the negativity. Fear of success can strangle creativity sure as fear of failure. Right now, I feel so lucky. I’m not depending on income from writing to feed my kids or to keep a roof over our heads. I have unique freedom that I can do this. That is very freeing, and a feeling like no other. 

My Facebook friend Mackenzie Clench (Ken) says fear is an ally. He says he needs to face what he fears. We all do! It’s keeping us back from really living. And we want to live life fully. So it boils down to we are stopping ourselves and calling it fear. That said, I’m not afraid of failure as an author. At least I tried it. Doing it is what we need to do. I certainly have learned a lot of things I didn’t know a year ago. So I’ve already “won.”

However you slice it, we have to overcome things that hold us back. No matter how we try to shift the blame elsewhere (I had a bad childhood – most of us had things less than ideal); I’m too nice (you’re probably an enabler – I know I was); I can’t draw a straight line (you don’t have to do learn to draw or paint!). Self sabotage is the reason there are so many unfinished manuscripts, stories for kids, and paintings. We lost faith in ourselves. Let’s work on getting it back and keeping it.

Omaha Nebraska is so fortunate to have McGuigan Arts Academy call it home. They offer a unique array of classes for every age. Guitar, Art, Theater, and many other categories. Check out their offerings at http://www.mcguiganartsacademy.com. They also have a Facebook page. A photo showed the outside of their temporary space with welcome chalked on the sidewalk to three students on their first night of class. I cannot think of a more fun way to be greeted to something that will help change your life – AND you. Kids can learn so much if they just have the opportunity. And much of their fear diminishes when they master these creative things. Maybe someday I can finally learn to sing. But that’s another story!

Thank you for reading and being here. We have quite a journey to finish. I’m so glad you’re along for the ride. See you tomorrow. Be safe.

Taco Tuesday

It was an early start to the day for us today. There is some animal who makes a horrid noise during the night and early in the morning. No, the Babe is wearing his CPap machine faithfully. It could be a raccoon, or do possum make noise? It’s not a cat. Well, it makes this awful noise and wakes me up about 4 a.m., and I can’t see what time it is. If you don’t know what time it is, you have no concept of how horrible it is that you were awakened by some animal shrieking in the Wetlands. If it’s 3 a.m., you can go back to sleep, hopefully. If it’s 6:30 a.m., you may as well get up for the day. It’s important to know the time, so you know how miffed to be.

This morning, the wonderful cleaning duo came to work wonders to our house. It’s always such a welcome thing to have them in and do more work in two hours than I can do in a week. No guilt anymore, I do need the help, and it takes the work off the Babe’s plate. He can do it, too, but he deserves a break, too. The house always smells so good when they leave. I admit it, we have two dogs, and two adults who are home all day. It gets dirty and stuffy smelling. It’s home. It’s lived in.

We often have eight Goldfinches at a time at our feeder.

The birds are loving their perches around the fence. I read a post today that said the Baltimore Orioles are in Bellevue, so I’d like coaxing some with the Grape Jelly feeders. I’ll have to look at Amazon later. Heck, I’d be attracted to a Grape Jelly feeder! What a treat. Once when I was pregnant with my oldest, I craved buttered toast with Grape Jam. It was so good!

It sounds as if some places are going to slowly reopen May 4. It is the choice of restaurants if they want to. Union, where my son works, is opting to stay pick up service only. They are eliminating the possibility of anyone getting ill that way. Good for them! I know there are other folks who are adamant about opening everything. I also know there are folks who are adamant about staying closed. Period. We’re not going to go crazy, but will wear masks where we should. There was a second style I wanted to try. Maybe by the time Church reopens, I’ll have them finished.

After a bit, I’m going to sit down on the patio and work on an embroidery project I’m making for our new little grandson, Cody Wyatt. I wish I could show you a photo. His Mom and Dad do not want photos out there of their kids. I respect that, they’re the parents. He looks like a little man. Our daughter Becky tells me his sister Kayla is a sweet sister to him. She just turned two. My, Becky has her hands full! Two in diapers, my hat is off to them. Lots of work. Also lots of love.

I just did a couple more chapters of re-writing and am calling it quits for the day. Going outside to enjoy the Babe’s company. Thank you for your time today. Stay safe, washing hands, and don’t venture out until you feel safe to. I’ll see you again tomorrow.

Schadenfreude

Back in the 70s, I remember the tv character Maude (Bea Arthur) had a saying. “God will get you for that!” How funny that was, but it was true. God gives us a rap on the head now and again to get right with him and ourselves when we need to. My dad would say, “They’ll get theirs.” Quietly. With conviction. He knew what he was talking about. But he didn’t dwell on a person, their evil acts, or their bad mouthing him. He knew that wasn’t the way to be. My mom, on the other hand, carried grudges. I think her sisters were capable of the same thing to a degree. Mom had more and carried them longer. She still does today. That is a classic adult child move. (Adult child of an alcoholic). We may be doing the same thing and not even realize it. Sometimes, I listen to mom talk about people and I wonder if there is anyone who she really likes. Cousins, let’s not be this way!

So called “sinful” behavior has been around ever since Adam and Eve fell and were evicted from Eden. It’s in our lives, too. I read my daily meditations today, and it was, “Never find delight in another’s misfortune.” Pubililius Syrus, a Latin writer. He was a Syrian, who was brought as a slave to Rome, Italy. His master educated him. He was known for his philosophical sayings, many of which are quoted today. Shakespeare quoted ideas of his often. Muddy Waters did when singing, “A Rolling Stone” (Gathers No Moss) in 1950.

We all have been guilty of wishing wrong on people who hurt us directly or indirectly. It is an unattractive habit, and being human, we all have many unattractive habits. I’ve wished hurt on people who have hurt me, my kids, or my family. I may not wish physical hurt on them, but I know they will get theirs. Then I can let go of it. I just don’t trust them as I may have before. The German word Schadenfreude means “delight in the troubles of another.” That’s a big word for it. The older I get, the more I am in favor of letting God sort it out. He’s the final judge, not me. Too late smart, too soon old!

We are often quick to judge. At the beginning of the Coronavirus, the VFW Post 2503 we support was on alert due to the first patient being on the premises for an hour the last time we were open. At first there was a lot of condemning of this poor woman because no one knew her story. Her identity remains private, but we know who she is. She is a special needs woman who was adopted as a small child whose parents could not care for her. Her family now consists of a half brother and two loving parents. They traveled to Britain to celebrate a grandparent’s 100th birthday. While coming home, the woman became ill. Because of the nature of special needs people’s frequent respiratory infections, this was deemed to be that. She made more than five ER trips and was sent away each time. She was not really ill. Just like a cold.

And being human, even I was among the ones who wondered why the heck she did not stay home. Red-faced embarrassed, I have now changed my tune. I didn’t have the information about the person or the virus to make an educated assessment. I had neither all the facts nor a sense of what anyone deserves to have happen to them. Quick to judge, we humans must take a step back. Assess. Don’t judge, you could make a totally wrong diagnosis of what the problem is. Schadenfreude is “a canker of the heart. If we find it there, we must root it out at once.” Once again, my handy Days of Healing, Days of Joy daily meditations has given me much food for thought. And it goes with a lot of what my dad taught us, too. They’ll get theirs. Not by our judgement, by God’s.

In the spirit of reaping what we sow, may all of our conclusions about others be kind and gentle. Let’s give others what we would like to have ourselves. Let’s just slow down and not be so quick to criticize. Let’s be kinder and gentler with each other, and especially with ourselves. It will help these times be much less harsh on our beings. Thank you for reading, I hope to see you right here again tomorrow. Go enjoy the beautiful day, in your own yard or deck, or patio!

Monday. The Start of . . .

The Lunch of Champions!

This wasn’t such a bad lunch. Took Mom for PT again today then to her accountant’s to drop off tax prep stuff. Usual Monday things that you do in everyday life. By the time I had a glass of iced tea with her and visited, it was 1:30 p.m. before I arrived home. The Babe ate already, so this seemed like a good option at the time. Busy day for us.

Measure Twice, Cut Once!

So this thing happened. My half square triangles (lower left) should have measured 4 1/2 inches at this point. Just like the 4 1/2 inch squares (top right). So now, everything must be adjusted. Good thing it’s not a quilt for a bed. You would think after doing this for twenty plus years, I’d check the instructions better. Human Ego gets in the way from time to time, no matter what we are doing. So, in the words of my dad, every contractor with an apprentice crew, and quilters all over the world, “Measure twice, cut ONCE”. It bit me again. No lives lost. No one but you and me will ever know.

You know though, years ago, a mistake like this would have devastated me for days. It would have. OCD or perfection, or fear of failing can make us crazy sometimes. When I think of when I was young and would be upset by stuff like this, it’s sad the time we waste. We know we are but mere humans, and mere humans make lots of mistakes. Yet we cannot accept when we make those very human mistakes. It’s making them ten or fifteen times that would concern me now. Not learning or not caring would concern me a great deal now. How about you? Perfectionistic or not?

I’m getting through some books I’ve wanted to read, and the Magdalene Girls is a good book. It makes me so angry how these girls were treated, even in the early 1960’s. The story takes place in Ireland, and this nunnery takes in wayward girls. Very few of them are pregnant. They are disobedient to their parents, etc., and stuck in this terrible place to toil at work that is so demanding it makes them lose their will to live. They exist as mere shells of their former selves. Only about fifty more pages, so I’m hoping I finish tonight.

Writing, I’m going to just work a little bit at this late hour. I do so much better in the mornings. I’ll start right away tomorrow, and get more done. I’m just glad to be getting anything done on the book, it’s somewhat hard to concentrate these days. I’m glad there will be an economic stimulus passed and paid out, and I believe it should not contain ANY pork. No Planned Parenthood dollars. No forgiving Student Loans, nothing. JUST the stimulus money. Period. The other stuff can be discussed later. You know, no one forgave our student loans. We learned to budget. Forgiving $30K is out of the question. I am open to forgiving month by month payments, but not big chunks like the folks tried to push through. Don’t mess around with that stuff now. Get some work done. You don’t deserve to represent us if you are holding onto your pet projects and promises. It must benefit the whole nation NOW.

I cannot imagine being a parent of young kids, pre-teens, and having aging parents at the same time. This may not happen a lot, but just dealing with one generation is enough work. I admire couples and singles who do both generations at once. I feel badly for Mom, but she does great with keeping herself busy. Sometimes she goes off on tangents but then she’s better by the next time I see her. She seems pretty nervous in traffic. We were driving today and a car got close, but she gasped and hollered, scared the heck out of me. I get it. She can’t see very well. Sometimes she makes me think I’ve overlooked something, so it’s a challenge. I just want to get her out and home with no incidents. That would be great. Just want her safe!

It’s just not very warm outside. The overcast skies make it seem as if it could be a really long time before spring actually gets here. Hope not. Either way, we’ll be home experiencing it. Yep, not going anywhere different anytime soon. Cancelled haircuts for tomorrow, the hairdresser just got back from a trip to Florida. Needs some time to self-quarantine, so Mom and I will oblige.

I’m going to get back with my book and the girls of Magdalene House. I hope it has a better ending than it probably will. Thank you for reading today! Stay home, be safe, wash those hands, and we’ll all come out the other side of this as better humans. See you tomorrow!

Sanguine Saturday

Good day, folks! I hope you’re having a decent day. If it isn’t yet, try and make it one. Remember last week when I posted the blinking overhead lights in my studio? We replaced one bulb that was definitely burned out, all three worked, and now, one is blinking again. I suppose once Congress entered into our light bulb stash, it was all over. I’ve had more allegedly “longer life” bulbs die than the old ones. What’s up with that?

Kind of like about twenty years ago when they decided toilets had to conserve water. Good Lord, they legislated the power out for the people to flush their toilets with enough water power to get the sewage out to the curb. Now, in the words of a plumber who once did service for a family member, “There isn’t enough force behind these new ones to get rid of an adult bowel movement. So flush it twice. It’s the only way around it.” Although this may be controversial and uses the same amount of water as the old tanks, it is the only solution to the problem. Perhaps those we elect do not have the right amount of “street smarts” or ability to relate to the common person.

Just try me!

I just love this t-shirt that arrived yesterday. A girl needs some good writing fashion, doesn’t she? Do you want to be a good guy or a bad guy? Or girl?? We can make that happen. Remember, that’s where we get ideas to build character. I’d hate to inflict my imaginary friends on all of my unsuspecting readers. Or should I?

The father of an old friend passed away yesterday. My best friend from elementary school, Peggy, lost her dad. He was into his 90’s. I believe. He was a nice man, loved his family, and his wife. They have each had health issues for the past ten years or so. I’m glad she had her dad this long, and I pray her mom is OK at this awful time. It will be hard on her mom for sure. All of their six kids will have a different kind of grief to deal with, no two people ever grieve the same. I hope God is good to the family.

Yesterday on Facebook, I reposted something my nephew posted about PTSD, depression, etc. It said I’ll know who I can talk to. Today, a dear lady sent me info on a mental health conference in town that she attended. Wasn’t that thoughtful? Someday it could be me, and it’s nice to know there are people who will reach out. You know who you are, and I thank you!

“The truth shall set you free but first it will make you miserable.” (Garfield)

Truth is wonderful. Sometimes though, knowing the truth and what you should do to change a bad habit, for instance, are at opposite ends of the spectrum. You know you need to lose forth pounds but consume all sorts of junk food when you are nervous. You know you drink too much, but after the first beer, it’s all downhill from there. You claim, “I can quit anytime I want.” Sure you can. But do you want to?? Most likely not. And you know your seventh grader is addicted to games. He misbehaves so badly when he can’t have them, it’s just too hard for you to enforce the rules. He knows it, honey, he knows it. You need to be the strong parent.

No change is easy at all. Learning new behavior even when you know it’s for the best is not easy. It’s so easy to let it go on and on and on. Until you can’t. Then the road back could be a transcontinental plane ride instead of a walk down the road to recovery. Think about a habit you’d be better off without. It could be picking up after yourself. Don’t make someone else do it. It could be walk everyday. Don’t sit on the couch and veg out. It could be write your novel, draw your art, sew your quilts. Don’t wish your time away, wishing you had more of it. Lose one bad habit that keeps you from doing something you need to do. Like riding an exercise bike. I’m getting mine out of the storage room this weekend. More on that later.

Thank you again for reading. I’m off to write some more, then go get my sinus infection Rx. Might as well go have lunch in the meantime. Union Pizza, here we come! Have a beautiful day and I’ll be here tomorrow. Hope to see you again then.

Thankful Thursday

Don’t need to get Mom anywhere for a few days, so we’re plotting how productive we’re going to be later. I still have some Christmas items to pack away. They’re downstairs littering the storage area. The 1300 lights still need to be detangled and secured. The two beaded garlands need to be unknotted and secured. A few ornaments still belong in their storage containers. It’s just a matter of starting, and I’m sure I’ll finish in maybe an hour. Except for the lights. That could be lengthy. Putting those things in their place will declutter our storage area and lead to getting the patio and deck furniture out for the weekend when it will be great outdoor weather. Rewards make tasks like that go much easier.

My handy daily reminders on how to behave and help others while helping myself

I mentioned this book awhile ago when writing about three places I look for inspiration to write. This one helps me remember how to be a good citizen and help others while providing opportunities for growth. Growth for myself and others. They go hand in hand sometimes. For example, today, March 5 speaks to not having a voice.

People who meet me today have no clue I had no voice about my own life until I took charge of making my voice heard. Growing up, my parents voice was the only one that could be heard in the home. Since I got married after high school graduation, there was no opportunity to speak up while I was still at home. My dad could have a conversation that was an exchange with me, but Mom could not. At times we still use the weather and whatever she talks about as topics for the time we’re together. I tend to shut down while she pontificates about a lot of things. Yes, it’s an unhealthy pattern from life. She can’t see a need to change now, and I’m keeping quiet to pick a better battle. She has always been this way, and will stay this way. I have come to forgive her and leave her quirks in her house, not mine. It’s saved me a lot of frustration. It’s just not worth trying to resolve at this point in her life.

This daily discussion piece tells of not having power or choice without a voice. It’s true. Children often have no voice. In a baby boomer world, you were seen and not heard. Currently, children are often allowed the same voice as an adult. I think you can only have an adult voice when your experiences and level of learning are equal to an adult. No five year old should be allowed to choose where to eat, what time to go to bed, what time to get up, etc. They can, however, learn to make those choices for when they’re older.

In highly dysfunctional homes, homes with high levels of drug addiction, alcohol abuse, and violence, the children have no choice in what happens to them. It is a devastating result all the time. They know no better. They need to learn an alternative exists and how to achieve it for them. I must stress here, there was no violence in our home. My dad was a perfect gentleman to my mom. My mom was the alcoholic as I’ve revealed before. My younger brothers, like most kids in the 70’s, experimented with whatever their friends were doing. No longer. Thank God!

Society told me I needed to rely first on parents, then husband #1 to provide for me, protect me, and yes, even think for me. I was a latecomer to the whole equality issue. Yes, I was a very late bloomer. When I filed to divorce at 29 was when I found my voice. Maybe I went a little crazy with it, but eventually, I loved speaking up and out about what was best for my life. What was best for my kids’ lives while they were young and lived with me. And I made sure they learned their voices by teaching them respect of others’ opinions, decisions, and life choices. I think they had massive doses of reality before they set out on their own.

Compared to the wallflower I used to be, I enjoy speaking up. One thing I have noticed is if I get a bad vibe from someone, chances are they are a manipulator and either alcoholic or drug abuser. I don’t want to stop being a caring person who helps others. I want to be a caring person who helps others without being taken advantage of. I’m learning how to use my voice loud and clear. I know who I have to stay away from. I know when to leave. I know who to avoid. I’ve learned the hard way in some instances.

I am grateful for the miracle of growing and finding my voice. It’s not my mom’s, or my dad’s, my husband’s or my children’s. It’s mine. And God gave it back to me, ready to use at my discretion. I tell you about this voice because it’s in my book. Katie is the main character who needs to find and use her voice. She recalls the family dynamic, the lessons that taught her she had a voice, and even lets it roar when it needs to. It’s a journey many women take in their lives. You can too, male or female. Young or old. Gay or straight. Use your voice to make your own best life. I hope to see you again tomorrow. Thank you for reading today.

This Thursday

As all anatomical auras are, Allison ached at an idea in an anthology of ideas. Allison inched along, acting as if all’s A-#1. An inkspot advanced around an Asian artwork. Allison iced an elbow as aching ebbed. “Always, an energy aching,” as Allison’s extremity acted unquestionably unusable.

Zelda rang the bell. She was not wanting someone to come to the door. Zelda crept the perimeter, holding the crucifix near her head. The magic would come soon. Most would then be forgiven, noted, brought to the jail per the magistrate, following the hearing.

When All Else Fails . . .
Consult a Book of Prompts!

Hoping you are still reading. Did you think I totally lost my mind? My ChromeBook was malfunctioning? Someone changed my keyboard to type gobblygook? None of the above.

Most of the time when sitting down to write my blog, I already have an inspiration of some sort. Either it’s an experience, someone did something funny, aggravating, illegal, or I try to capture a strong feeling that is in my heart and on my mind. There is so much out there to share, and I’m lucky you listen by reading.

Some days, the ideas, words, thoughts, and stories just don’t happen. I would imagine a songwriter or poet experiences much the same. Poetry, I’ve read, forces you to use fewer and more exact words to get your point across, to complete your story, and help the reader use their imagination. A songwriter uses fewer words, also. The music can fill in where words cannot, where they are inadequate or fail to convey what is intended. A beautiful song, thoughtful lyrics, and a melody that sweeps you away, in my mind, is a huge #1 hit. It doesn’t matter how much airtime it gets, how many people buy it, if it strikes me in my heart and soul, it’s done it’s job. I’ll always remember what I felt when I first heard it. That songwriter did their job well.

For the times the words don’t come, when the ideas are elusive, when no words exist for a writer, the feeling keeps nagging, and you are still coming up empty, prompts work sometimes. Prompts like I pictured above, Writer’s Digest presents A Year of Writing Prompts. The second photo lists specific dates and ideas. February 27, Vowel-uable Writing. I wrote the first paragraph all with words that began with vowels, the second paragraph is written with words that began with consonants.

I know my readers are very bright people and have already seen what I just described along with the prompt. The whole idea of this is to get the brain thinking, how can you phrase this with only vowels, are consonants easier (you bet!), do people still use a Thesaurus? I just did. For the first time ever, I think. You could entertain yourself all day doing this. You may come up with some unintelligible sentences, but you would have exercised your brain. This is why I blog every day. If there is no time to work on my book or my quilting or my art, it all goes into my blog. I enjoy it so much.

Yes, I noticed also the prompts are only for 365 days and we have the elusive 366th day this year, since it’s Leap Year, an election year, and we have to even up the Gregorian Calendar. We have used this calendar for over 400 years. The primary motivation for this was primarily religious, to calculate when Easter would be. Lent begins 40 days prior to Easter.

All in all, it helps even time out. In reading this Huffington Post article, I was unaware of skipping a leap year. I don’t recall ever doing it, but is sounds as if it does happen. Read the article here. Why did we not know this before?

All the while I worked as a programmer, coder, systems analyst, and before the Y2K date stuff hit the fan, we used Julian Dates to define our date fields in the programs we used. It’s just what we did. I liked the old COBOL programs we wrote and maintained. I’ve heard many companies are searching for us old, retired COBOL programmers and will pay a good chunk of change to those of us who know what to do with these programs. Done right the coding is a masterpiece. When debugging, it was always one little thing, like a period, that usually caused your program to loop on into infinity and beyond! Some could be out there, still chugging away. Usually it fixed the problem when you either deleted the period, or added it in. Sometimes, when I finally found an elusive error, I would state, “Sometimes, I even amaze myself.” It keeps your ego in the humble zone for sure. I loved being able to write something from scratch or even modify someone else’s program, and make it work, adding an entirely new function. So glad I had a mentor who steered me towards that field of work so I could earn the amount of money I needed to help raise my kids, have a house, retirement, and all the things normal families do. It was a great run.

Thank you so much for reading today, I am appreciative of your time. For not knowing what to write, this prompt took us a few places I would never have expected when I started writing. And in that, dear friends, is where I can say humbly, “Sometimes, I even amaze myself!” And it’s a good thing. See you tomorrow! Have a great afternoon!