The Day After Birthday

This morning, it was still darkish out, but the bed was empty of both canines and the Babe. I heard nothing going on in the living room. They can’t have gone far. I listened to the birds for a while and dozed. It was heavenly. I got up and saw the family on the couch, all snuggly. It was sweet.

And sharing coffee amongst good mornings is such a wonderful thing. I’m not the griddle cook getting the husband out the door, or the kids off to school. I’m his equal. He’s my equal. Yes, we sipped on our coffee for another hour. It was sweet. Other married couples may not think this is a big deal. I really noticed it today. I noticed because it was missing from my life before the Babe.

I know many other women of all ages who haven’t experienced this kind of laid back before in their lives. Many, many women and even men haven’t experienced this in a relationship. Much as I was told, it doesn’t happen; it does. Single friends, take heart. Leave your heart open, but protected.

I met my son, Frankie, for brunch. It is like visiting the best part of yourself to meet your adult kid out. It was the best catch up there was. He is always in a good mood and satisfied with his life. We laugh about if I am an old widow someday and need someone to monitor me; he would be the one. We make up scenarios and I know he’d always help me out. Seriously, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Today was a followup visit to the ortho doc for my shoulder. Over the past six months, I’ve had three injections for pain. If this doesn’t help, it’s on to an MRI next time. Hoping it’s not a torn rotator cuff. But if it is, we’ll deal with it.

Yesterday, I checked out my sewing machine before getting ready to make the grandkids in Colorado their quilts for Christmas. I plugged in my trusty Bernina Activa 220. Nothing worked. The lights didn’t go on. Nothing responded. Carried it to another room, electrical circuit, and plugged it in and turned it on. Nothing. Tomorrow, it goes to the Bernina Store. I hope it’s not expensive or I’ll be shopping for a different machine. Cross your fingers! Good thing I started early on the Christmas projects!

Have a beautiful evening. I need to get some ice for the shoulder. See you tomorrow!

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!

Superb Sunday 4/24/2022

Wow. Sometimes I forget things. We all do. I’ve forgotten haircut appointments and scheduled phone calls. The worst thing I forget? Like most people of a certain age, forgotten to take my prescription medications.

With the chronic. Pain I have, that’s not good. I don’t take opioids and CBD products don’t work. So, it’s live with it and understand how to work through the pain. It takes a lot many days. Today, I did not want to get out of bed. Once the coffee, meds, and hot shower kicked in, it was all systems go.

We had ball games for Gavin today. His skills are improving every game. It’s hard when the kids as a team make mistakes. You can tell all the kids are growing as players and as humans. The catcher called time out and walked up to give Gavin a pep talk. It was such a proud moment! Gavin got back in the zone and the game continued. Since it was a tournament today, the first game was a win, the second a loss. The kids’ collective heart broke. Until next week, boys. Fresh game, new team, new challenges.

As I watched today, I recalled all the games we’ve watched for the grandkids. Grandson Joell out in Maryland played little league, and we were able to see some of his games. It was a lot of fun, too. Unfortunately, he took a hit in the face by a crazy pitch and decided he’d like swimming better. He is a competition swimmer and does very well. He secured his first job recently, as a swim instructor for younger kids at his swim club. How awesome! He let go of something and found his own niche in the world. I love how the parents orchestrated both of the boys finding what they love and are supportive of their dreams. That makes all the difference in the world. Same goes for Addison with her Competition Dance and High School Dance Team.

Tomorrow, I’m beginning the journey again. Order of business is to organize my information for a free week long Children’s Book Challenge Week. I want to be prepared every day when class begins at noon at ends at 2 p.m. I should get some great information as I work with my illustrator in the next couple of months. Jordan is quite busy and should have something for me to review in a couple of weeks.

I am excited to get back to the serious work of writing. The first step, along with the Children’s Book Challenge, is to straighten up my studio/office. No more untouched quilt kits making me feel guilty. I will only allow things in the studio/office which are being worked with. All else will be in the basement level studio. It should allow for a lot of creativity to flow. I look forward to that.

Tomorrow is another brand new, shiny opportunity to have a beautiful day, create something, and do some good. What are you going to do that will make you happy and make a difference in the world around you? Have a good rest of the evening, and 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!

Serenity

Worry robs you of today. Worry makes you dream up every horrible scenario and think it may happen. Usually it doesn’t. Most of the time, moms are classic over-worriers. “Dead in a ditch somewhere” usually comes to mind. Ever hear that from your mom? Yes, I think we all have.

If you’re an adult child of an alcoholic, you may be an expert worrier. I used to be. No more. I’ve not lost sleep over my problems, kids, their problems, my imagined problems, my kids’ imagined problems or any of the above. I can leave it to rest. Hope my kids are ok. Sure. I might pray about them, but I don’t worry. God will take us where we need to be. And He’ll provide me with whatever I need should the worst ever happen. Until then, praying trumps worry.

Mom has habitually worried about everything, real and imagined. She isn’t shy about telling everyone, even now, about worry and lack of sleep. It’s a strong habit for her. At 92, she wouldn’t have to worry about us all. I suspect she may nap a bit more during the day than she admits to, maybe she isn’t sleeping well because of napping. I’m not sure. She tires easily. Heck, at my age, I enjoy a nap, and would think she will. But I won’t worry.

They activate the automatic worry when an ill wind is blowing. Anything that may pose a threat causes you to circle the wagons and hide. And worry non-stop. It’s automatic. There is a lot of hard work to reverse that pattern. But it is possible.

It takes a lot to help people understand they have more power than they believe they do. They have to believe they have the power to re-gain control over yourself and your thoughts. You will no longer react automatically. A new action will become easier to take, and you will take back your power.

“Opportunity does not knock – it presents itself when you beat down the door.” They credit this phrase to a person named Kyle Chandler. Not sure who that is, but it is true. A mentor of mine told me long ago, if you don’t find your opportunities, you need to create them. Figuratively, you could beat the door down, but I would hope it wouldn’t take that much.

Carefully looking for opportunities becomes easier the more practice we have. Then it becomes second nature. Not worrying. Chasing your goals helps us experience many opportunities we wouldn’t have if we sat on the couch at home. Each opportunity helps us become better along the way to our dreams.

Not letting others control what we do is a key to having power. That said, we need to work for others during our lives. And we need to do that, gaining experience as we learn. We may not always be able to work for ourselves. Sometimes we need those experiences to help us grow before we can manage ourselves. One step at a time.

Cautiously realistic is how I like to approach unknown situations. Disasters are so unlikely to happen; I prefer not to worry. Those who borrow trouble from tomorrow cannot help but worry about everything and court disaster because it’s all they know how to do.

As I end this day and look forward to tomorrow, know I understand why you worry. I know because I used to do the same thing. And I also know I had to stop. It drove me crazy and most of all, it wasn’t good for me. It robbed me of joy. I took my control back; I took my joy back. I took my life back. You can too.

It’s been another long day; I hope it’s a great rest of the evening and a good day tomorrow. Let’s see each other tomorrow. Take care out there.

Buh-bye

I’m probably going to sound like an old person, but what the heck? I’ve had this issue with Synchrony Bank and their processing of my Phillips 66 gas card. They do a poor job of customer service. They all claim to be supervisors. You can send information from your bank to them three times and they “haven’t received it.” A phone call? No, don’t count on it. You can spend over 39 minutes on hold to explain this fiasco. They have cut me off more than once in the middle of explaining.

I’ve fought this issue with them since July, 2021. My August statement did not show that I paid $214.82. It arrived late. I called, they listened, gave me credit. My September statement added it back on. I provided proof from the bank, after an hour on the phone, and I saw credit for the amount. End of problem, or so I thought.

Go to October, it appeared ok, but they didn’t catch that monthly payment made. I called again. Oh yes, they had it. But they again said my bank never sent the $214.82. What? They could do no better than give me a fax number to send it to. Not to the attention of anyone, just into the vast pool of faxes a business receives. I could not have an extension to talk to a person, or a name either. OK. By December, there was just no going back.

After being a customer since 1988 – yes, 1988 – I am bidding them farewell. I am sending a multi-page fax tomorrow, telling the entire story since July and telling them why I will never buy a product with their credit card again. They will not care, they are Synchrony Bank, not Phillips 66. They do not care if I remain a customer or not. It’s a shame the customer is never right anymore. Phillips won’t even know I’ve left. Farewell to one company who helped me build my credit all those years ago.

My favorite shade of blue

This morning, it was a pretty spring-like morning. The sky was a perfect blue. February in Nebraska, and I’m sitting outside with no coat on in the morning. We have snow predicted twice next week. I just want the rest of winter to happen and leave. I want to spend time with my flowers this summer.

I’ve straightened up my avalanche of papers that were crowding the kitchen table. Everything is sorted into piles of category – income taxes, honor guard banquet, Phillips 66, NE taxes, etc. I’ll finish up each smaller stack and file them tomorrow. Then go to the Babe’s office and get all the receipts from last year. One of these years I will follow through and file papers as they’re paid. I get closer every year. The next couple weeks will be Income Tax time at Raabe Ranch, along with cleanup in the family room downstairs. It never ends, does it? I hope not.

I found an old photo of my office/studio when we first finished the fresh paint, etc. I want it to look that empty again. Like I do nothing in there, you know? And I’m taking the sewing projects/quilting projects back downstairs into their staging area where they belong. A few years ago, I went through unfinished quilting projects like a crazy woman, finishing a lot of things. Then I started writing. It’s another beast. It takes up much less room.

Thank you for reading today. I hope you have a beautiful evening and a great Monday. I appreciate you being here with me, and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Be safe!

Saturday Shenanigans?

Still overcast at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Maybe that, not procrastination, is the reason I’ve left our Christmas tree up. The header photo is from this morning; I told the Babe I just love how it looks by the fire, with the dogs all napping and us just chilling’. It’s a part of life you cannot buy. You create that space with your family/friends/significant other, and it just feels so good, so right, so untouchable. It takes practice and trust to relax, let your hair down, relax your shoulders, and just be in the moments you are sharing. So grateful for our life.

I also have a planning meeting with the other officers of the Auxiliary at 1 p.m. The Babe is off doing bookwork and another Honor Guard Funeral this morning. I am so proud of The Babe, he is working a lot, but he’s a person who can’t retire and relax. He is using his need to be productive in a positive way. Yes, sometimes it can be frustrating, but it’s very rewarding for both of us. As long as we’re able, we will volunteer as we are.

The agenda for today? The dogs were naughty, tearing open a trash bag full of some decorations. Floral picks I used on a tree, red plastic grapes, giant pinecones, all scattered through the family room. It’s a mess. Girls! I need to clean that up later. I also have some boxes to sort through so all of like items are together and labelled before they go on the shelves. It’s coming along nicely.

I need to return my Jury Panel Questionnaire. On one hand, I hope to be chosen. It’s fascinatinig to be on a jury. It changed my life in 1981. That story will be in my book, The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons, which is my WIP (work in progress). There are so many heartbreaking, wild, difficult, mind-numbing events over my own life, some of them are the basis for what Katie experiences and grows from. Each event she experiences is from life – not necessarily mine – and have happened to real people. Some of the people she learned the hardest life lessons from are a patchwork for some of the characters. Despite everything, she remains a loving person, a believer in God, and a person of strong faith. She always knew God was leading her the way she went.

Fun Top for January. Snowy, not Christmas-y!

I love this new shirt. It has a plethora of snowflakes on it, at the boarders of the sleeves and bottom. It’s part of my smaller sized collection I’ve bought since losing 40 pounds on KETO. Time to get back in the saddle, boys and girls. I’m going to be doing raw veggies, protein, salads, and the one Halo Top Sea Salt Caramel Keto Pop. They’re heavenly! They’re expensive, but worth it, I believe. If you know me at all, you know I have a love of all things ice cream. Since I was a kid, it always represented fun, delicious times. That is a story for another day.

As we both make progress with our day and intentions, let’s be safe out there. Let’s be careful out there. See you tomorrow.

Judge Not,That You Not Be Judged

I committed a colossal boo-boo yesterday. I wrote the blog, but didn’t publish it last night. How silly of me? I saw my stats were high today, thinking, “What’s going on?” I knew as soon as I saw there were 4 draft articles. Two are real drafts, one was started today, one was from yesterday. At least I have a good answer for the high traffic. Sorry, folks.

What might we leave behind this year that will lighten our load into next year? Blame would be one for me. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to understand why some things have happened in my life, even why I have thought the way I do. Blame sounds so negative, and we are free to place blame somewhere else – but only once. Once allows you to learn why and how certain behaviors were done done to you, around you, and why they hurt you. Blame is finding the source and giving it credit for negative example, outcomes, etc. Blame is assigned, and you have to let it go. Blame is different than credit, although credit is positive and therefore light. It’s not the burden blame is. Blame is excess baggage that holds you back. Credit propels you forward.

So after admitting out loud and to myself about blame I’m assigning, how & why it happened, I’m putting it away. In it’s bag. Where it needs to stay. I’ve packed my generational part of the trauma and don’t need to know any more about it. Today and tomorrow is what’s on my mind now. Today more than tomorrow. We have five grandchildren in three states, and pray they carry only positive things with them. They hopefully will face their ghosts head on and won’t need to ponder them for so long. I did for a very long time, and finally can put them to rest. I feel lighter, almost like losing the 45 pounds on Keto in the last year. Yes, it’s symbolic, isn’t it?

You see, if you continue to place blame, you must be prepared to accept your share of it. Yes. That’s it. Things you did wrong to others. Things you’re being blamed for. Sure, you didn’t know better when you were doing them, but . . . you didn’t know better. You do now. Accept your shortcomings. They came from lack of information. Just like the generation before. Don’t you feel lighter? I do already.

I food cheated more than one day during the holiday, now it’s time to get serious again. Keto, here we come again. Well, at least me. January 1, 2022 will begin a new regimen for sure. New schedule, new habits, new goals. Still planning. Sweets are fabulous and luscious and easy to get hooked on. Over and over. We all do it. And now, it’s time to get over them. It’ll feel good to eat good things again. Lighter. No Baggage. Healthy Food. Healthier Body. More writing. Great things are ahead, aren’t there?

Are your bags packed up with most of the resentment from long ago? Are they ready to go . . . away? They cannot be carried into 2022 if you want to live up to your potential. We can remind each other not to dwell on past hurts or future worries. Today and our goals are all that matter. All else will fall into order. Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow!

Black Friday

Black Friday seems to have been around since the 1980s, but I’ve never participated in it. Maybe at the most some online purchasing, but I won’t fight a crowd. Not to buy stuff. I’m just not into shopping that much. I’m more apt to go to Menard’s or Lowe’s, and buy plants for the yard, or some cute birdhouses and such. Pretty simplistic.

After the dinner yesterday, it was nicely quiet in the house. We just enjoyed each other’s company. Grateful for being so blessed. And enjoying the day while the Babe does some office work at the Post, and does a funeral for the Honor Guard. That family thought their Thanksgiving would probably be different than it was. The year my Grandfather died on Christmas Eve, we sure didn’t plan on his death and funeral three days later. This New Yorker cartoon sums up the yesterday pretty well. It just tickled me a lot. Humor is always in style, you know?

Be Careful What You Wish For

As I’m all cozy and warm in the house, I hope everyone is warm and safe our on their shopping sprees. It’s time for a plate of leftovers, then a nap. Crazy as it was yesterday, I’m so glad for the quiet today.

Tomorrow, I hope to get a new normal going. I need to get back to the book, then make space to quilt. Hope you had a great day, either crazy and busy or quiet and serene. See what tomorrow brings, and make sure to hug your loved ones. See you tomorrow!

Thanksgiving Day 2021

Wherever you are in the world today, I wish you a beautiful day of giving thanks for where we are, who is with us, and what we’re able to do today. The Babe and I have been up since 5:15 a.m., getting the turkey in the oven and taming the eight pound bag of potatoes. I’m trying crock pot mashed potatoes this year, it sounds like they’ll be yummy. And it might make less dishes. I don’t care about the dishes, as the Babe is a wonderful partner in the kitchen. He always has been. Thanks to his Mama for raising him up as she did. The duties are light when there are two of us to cleanup. The kids would help if we wanted them to. When you have multiple stops to make on a holiday, it helps to know you can leave when you need to.

Today, I’m grateful and appreciate being able to buy what we need for a special meal with family. When I was a single Mom, it was hard to buy special things. No, we had enough to eat, but it was very close many times. I don’t know if my kids ever knew about things like that, I really wanted them to just be concerned about being kids. My wish for all of you is you have enough, and know you are enough. Be proud where you are on your journey. You’ll get there.

I’m trading the Chromebook for a cookbook today, and going to enjoy our daughter Tracy, TJ, Addison, and Gavin, and son Frankie at dinner today. It’ll be nice to be able to gather again. Hope your day is full of love and friendship. Thanks for stopping by today, we’ll see each other again tomorrow.