November 5, 2021-Grateful!

It’s been a long week. I was revved up and happy to be home today to get an early start on NaNoWriMo. And I did 1353 words on my difficult passages. It’s exhausting but a very important part of the story. I’ll be fine, but wow. Sometimes it’s hard to look back at what we’ve survived throughout our lives. Looking back from this point in life, at this age, I’ve got gratitude to God for His Mercy. I am sharing some of the very hard times, as a contrast to very good things that can and have happened. As my niece told me, “You’ve lived many lifetimes in your years.” She’s right.

The writing itself is going well. I do find I switch between first person and third person. I need to read up on that, if I need to do only one POV through the whole novel, it’ll be first person, I believe. It’s hard to stay put. My mind has been sort of boggled the past few days. First person is usually past events, third person can be the present, as it happens. I can switch between POV’s depending on what is being told.

When I’ve finished writing for the day I really am grateful for where life has taken me, through all the good and all the bad, it’s all part of who I am and why I’m the way I am. Walking through personal growth for parts of characters is a good thing to do. The whole point is to create a story that draws your reader in and makes them want to find out what happens.

We’ve got a fundraiser tomorrow night and I need to get a couple more items for the raffles. There are some good things out there, and I need to finish up our part of the evening. It will be a night of great music and seeing new friends and a couple older ones.

I have a bunch of stickers that read, “Live a Great Story.” I’ve come to love that phrase. I find myself talking more and more about good stories, and how things turn out. Everything is a story. Sometimes there are lots of good parts or bad parts, but there is always a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can change them up and change them down, and change the ending, making it more intriguing. It’s your story. Tell it how you like!

Part of what I’ve discovered this year is our deep friendship with our group of friends from the VFW Post. We have lost two men this year. One had cancer for years, and many health issues the past couple years. It was sad to see him deteriorate week after week. And how hard it was for his wife. But we all stuck with each other. I love that no one backed off or stayed away. Good friends don’t desert you in your time of need. It was very sad when Nugent passed away. He was such a nice, kind man. We miss his presence.

And later this summer, when Lenny died, well wow. For all the years I’ve known his wife, I didn’t really know him. He was always a crazy man, which was good, he was always out there, living life to the fullest. He really didn’t give a darned what anyone thought. I marveled at his ability to do that. What he didn’t want anyone to know was how generous he was. He retired from a very good job and so did his wife. He never forgot to be kind to Veterans, kids, little old ladies, or his grandkids. He had funny stories. Lenny lived a great story. Be like Lenny! Before he died, he made the Babe promise to sign up his grandson as a lifetime member of the VFW. Lenny is smiling down at Connor and his new membership card.

Thanks for the memories, guys. And your ladies, too. Our other friend is a widow, and she is fun and helpful to the two new widows. They tell me they don’t want me to join the club (NO! Me neither!). But one day, I probably will. They will be there to be a friend when I need it. Grief is messy, all over the place. I have an idea of the devastation, and know it’ll be much worse than I can ever imagine.

I have a lot of faith, God has taken me through so many things. He will continue to do so, and I can trust that won’t change. God doesn’t change, through all eternity, He remains true. We are the ones who change, who doubt, who stray, who get lost, who take the wrong roads, and forget what their goals should be. A whole lot of being human gets in the way.

Take care out there today. Make a great story in your day as you live your life. Be like Lenny. Keep your goodness to yourselves, it speaks volumes to be understated. You’ll do the same amount of good and more by being modest. Be kind. Spread that around because we need it. See you tomorrow!

Serene Saturday

Like any work, change of habit, or recovery from addictions, getting ready to do the work isn’t actually doing the work. Authors joke when they talk (or write!) about writing, they need to know that doesn’t get words on the page. It doesn’t get the right words down on the page. Or words that make sense in the story or scene. NaNoWriMo talks about that all the time. I suppose I should have started prepping earlier. Having COVID the last couple weeks didn’t allow that to happen.

Now that I feel human again, I will start reading some things other writers have shared and review my outline/guide/notes from last year when I was working with Sam Tyler, Book Coach. Plotting tasks to calendar follows next week, and the story should rise from all the notes, intentions, bright ideas, and otherwise faulty thinking. Getting words on the page is the goal. No editing. That will be hard! I constantly edit while writing. Always. The biggest mistake I make typing is the dyslexic twist on things – my brain and fingers are out of sync, and words get the letters mixed up. Or the whole sentence is out of sync. That will be a true test.

I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think the words are always there. I think they are hijacked sometimes because we procrastinate, we make excuses, we place blame on others. I know I do those things. Reasons are legitimate. Excuses are not. Illness is legitimate. Surfing Facebook is not. And we all do it. Just call it by it’s name. You’ll be more responsible to yourself.

For instance, I can clean the bathroom til the cows come home. Dusting? Not so much. I put the furniture polish spray can and dust rag on the TV stand and tell myself, “I’ll do it after I sit down a little while.” I believe my own lies, and procrastinate. In November, I vow to check myself on that bad habit. The house can be cleaner if I do my job. Period. Ouch. Truth hurts sometimes.

Doing this and reporting on it every day makes me accountable not only to myself, but to all of you. So what, you may wonder. No one will follow me if I don’t do as I say, if I am not true to my word. End of writing career. Or at least it will stall getting out of the gate. Not good. I’ve got three years invested already; and as the Babe says, “It’s too much to just quit.” Yes it is. I’m so glad my energy returned, it’s easier to think of writing when energy is available. I’m getting excited about it all.

Did you weigh in on my question yesterday? Doing another NaNoWriMo Drawing this year? Two years ago, you could comment on my daily blog and have one entry per day in my drawing for $50. Would you like to participate this year should I have another one? Let me know what you think. There may be a limit as to how many times during the month you can enter. I’ll have to think about that next week, too. In 2019, my friend Pat Riedmann was the winner.

I saw something this morning referring to the longer you live, the more friends you lose to death. True, and it’s just how life works. The past five years, we have had many, many friends, FB Friends, lifelong friends, and family pass away. All I can do it remember them with love. I wore a pair of earrings today which were a gift from a best friend in 1988, the year she died. She was in her early 40s and died from lung cancer. Five months later, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and died, too. It was a terrible year for sure. I smiled at the memory of my friend, and thanked her again for such a beautiful pair of earrings. They are lovely!

Pay no attention to the grimace on my face! It was supposed to be a smile. Sort of.

I hope you have a wonderful afternoon today. I hope you have time with a loved one, if you’d like. Enjoy the sun or the rain, whichever is happening. I’m going to have a session reading here in a minute. Hope to see you tomorrow, and it means a lot to me that you stopped by today.

Back to Work

In case you didn’t read the blog yesterday, I’m celebrating! I submitted my first chapter from my book, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons,” to the Nebraska Writers Guild, and they have judged it suitable for printing. I am over the moon about it, and celebrate over and over in my imagination.

And now, here we are, in the knowledge I’m really going to be a published author, aside from being published on my website. And no, I have no agent, but have a contract with NWG for Chapter One. Baby Steps! To get back in the swing of things, I need to look very carefully at the first six chapters and pick up from there. Glad the NaNoWriMo is coming up, It should be a good catalyst for connecting outline, thoughts, words, and paper. Woo Hoo! Picture me done with it before we know it!

Of course, all things are subject to change. How I know that! Flexibility is important if you want to create, especially during these times. Nothing is normal, you know? It was, then it wasn’t, and now we just aren’t sure. I truly hope our beautiful planet gets another thousand years or so. Maybe a grandchild will get an inspiration to save the planet!

It’s late, and I have no snappy jokes left for the evening. I hope you all are in a good place this evening, and that your tomorrow is wonderful. I’m going to make a priority tomorrow to communicate well. Yes, It’s a long shot, but it needs to be done. It will only do us all good. Ignore the smack about IG and FB behind a bad influence. It’s all crazy! More on that later. Let’s just decide for ourselves, ok? Hoping so, that you’ll think for yourselves. I am all about that. Take care, and know tomorrow is another day. Take care! See you tomorrow!

Sunday Sums It Up

It’s another family visit in the archives of time. Grandson Joell and his parents left for home at noon. Grandpa and Grandma needed a nap, as did the whole Stricklett family. The kids had a blast tailgating at the Nebraska game last night, and Joell has another new experience for his memories. The kids are all seasoned travelers, and continue to experience new things every chance they get.

And tomorrow, it’s back to school for Joell, and some kids are off school for Colombus Day/Indigenous People Day. Yes, although it’s terrible what happened to the Native Americans at the hands of the white man, I think the discovery of America is an important milestone in our culture. Not all of our history is wholesome, moral, or just. Humans make big mistakes. We always have, and will continue to do so.

Next week, I’m working on the VFW Post Veterans Day Remembrance and Resource Center, Getting materials to hand out should someone need them, and firming plans to collect items and disperse them where they will do the most good. It’s important this time of year, as the winters can be very brutal. No one should be homeless, especially not a Veteran.

Tomorrow, I’m making an announcement about my future. It’s pretty cool if I must say so myself. Hopefully, the announcement will be ready by noon, CDT. This is quite brief tonight. I hope if you visited family this weekend that your visit was as nice as ours. As we start a brand new week, with brand new challenges, let’s keep in mind we all need to be thoughtful of each other. We need to be kind, and remember there are a lot of people who are hurting now. Let’s find some way to help them. Make their burden lighter. Reach out. Someone will take your hand. See you tomorrow.

One Sure Thing in Life!

Is anything for certain in this life? Only one thing is. God loves each of us exactly as He created us. I no longer feel certain we all have our entire life mapped out for us; pre-destination and free will has always been something I’ve questioned. Mom used to get mad at me about it. She wasn’t raised “in the faith.” She “Converted” before she and Dad were married.

We need to work for things in life. As kids, we must work for grades, we must work to get and keep friends, we must behave so our parents don’t have issues with our behavior, and so our teachers don’t either. Nothing is automatic. Just God’s love. Even as a kid growing up, I never believed in a fire and brimstone God, although that was the idea in the 50s and 60s. The 60s, with the sexual revolution, free love, hippies, and the 70s, with the anti-everything movements was enough to confuse a lot of people. We wouldn’t all still be here if God was not forgiving.

I’m no longer in love with summer. It has stayed it’s welcome, but fall could last three full months as far as I’m concerned. The Babe and I are both ready for jeans and sweatshirt for sure. It may change later but for now, lets send heat and humidity to the south of us. The flowers and bushes did well this summer, and i’m glad for that. I’m looking forward to cooler air and longer evenings. And I love the fireplace in the evenings. Lots to look forward to.

Tomorrow will be a great morning at home. I can run my Chapter 1 through the Pro Writing Aid Software, and ready it for submission! I’m excited about it. More exciting things to come. It was a short night for sure, and I hope to make up for it tonight. Hope you have a good evening and a good, long night’s sleep. See you tomorrow!

We Are What We Think

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure.”

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

“Someone who knows what they’re doing.”

“I rest my case.”

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

“Don’t Find Fault; Find a Remedy.”

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

The only failure is if you don’t try.

“Saturday, In the Park”

For some reason, this old Chicago song popped into my head this morning. Do people go to parks much anymore? When I was a kid, there were several parks we could walk to, and the city had kid-sponsored activities every afternoon. The little green shack opened just after lunchtime, I believe, and stayed open until probably 4 or 5 p.m. For a nickel or dime, we could do a little craft thing, or they had tether ball, box hockey, and maybe horseshoes. Teenagers worked the shack daily and our harried mothers got a little bit of a break from us during those hot, summer days.

When I had kids, the green shacks disappeared from the city parks, you were basically on your own. We just walked across a very busy street, and we had access to basketball, tennis courts, and of course, swing sets and adventures on some low to the ground climbing devices. It was the old days, and the devices were made of wood, which didn’t wear well in the extreme weather we have; blistering heat or frigid cold. They developed splinters, and were deemed unsafe. We’d take lunch over to the park and have a picnic sometimes. Sometimes we had a picnic in our own yard. Do people still do that? Aside from fire pits and barbeques? I loved being home with the kids.

Once we finally had grandkids, we would babysit for Addison quite a bit. Her Grandma Sandy was alive then, and we’d share babysitting when the kids went out of town, etc. Sandy worked close to our home, and she’d drop Addison off in the morning, and pick her up after work. We worked well together. Usually ex-wives and current-wives don’t get along. Sandy and I had more in common than the Babe. Oh, and having one wife in between Sandy and me probably made a lot of difference. I never met that wife, although I bowled with her mother forty years ago. Small world.

At any rate, we’d take Addison to the park a lot. It really was fun taking her. There was a small park two blocks from our house, and we’d take her there nearly every time we had her over. As she got older and didn’t like the park as well, we’d go to a soft serve ice cream place nearby and get ice cream. She remembers that a lot. Even now, at the age of 14, if we mention “Ice Cream” she smiles and says, “Let’s GO!” I’m glad she has those memories. Now, our park experiences are going to ball fields and watching Gavin play baseball. I love that, expecially at this age.

My daughter Becky sends pics of Kayla and Cody playing in the park. She puts cute little hats and sunscreen on them. Adorable. I hope we get to see them later this summer. She and Brian have very busy work schedules, and with COVID variants occurring, we can only pray we aren’t locked down again. Get your shots! I have, the Babe did, and we’re fine. Just please don’t be the part of the population causing the problem. Sometimes we have to think of the “greater good” before our personal beliefs. Period.

Mom put me in Junior Bowling in seventh or eighth grade. Our neighbor coached it, and we were close enough to walk. Jan Matya, my friend and I stuck with it until we were seniors in High School. The reason? It was fun, and we were the only two girls in the league. All boys. The odds were in our favor. She dated a guy for awhile, I had one ask me to the Military Ball for his ROTC. I didn’t like him, I was 15 and used the excuse my folks wouldn’t let me date until I was 16. Mom told me, “No one turns down a date to the Military Ball.” In retrospect, it probably would have been a good idea. I only went to one prom and no homecomings at my school. None to other schools. I felt so crummy no one did.

So glad times have changed where kids actually go solo, and hang out with their friends. How nice. No one would feel less than enough. I really feel for kids who feel that way. There is so much buried in them that makes them good, talented people. It’s so bad when you lack confidence in yourself and your abilities. Remember; You ROCK!

I think families with kids have their time occupied by organized events. Sports, Dance, and a whole host of other things. That’s great, I hope they enjoy their experiences as neighborhood kids used to when they’d do a pick-up game of baseball, kickball, and even dodge ball. My brothers didn’t participate, and there were no girls sports. I did play volleyball, but Sister Mary What’s Her Name? didn’t put me in, she said I was too nervous, I needed to relax.

After growing up, I wondered if it occurred to her to let me play and I’d be less nervous? That would make sense to me. I also learned as an adult I probably suffered from anxiety. Our mom had a temper and as a kid, I thought she was always mad (at me). It seemed her moods swung from nice to degrading whoever was around. I think this was inherited from her mother. Zero to Sixty in 30 seconds. She scared me. I spent a lot of time in my room. My sanctuary.

I have forgiven her. She didn’t know any better. Many of us followed suit until we learned how damaging that was. Sometimes I think to myself, “If I was Mom, I’d probably say, “Don’t you know blah, blah, blah.” For someone who lost her cool a lot, it’s funny we were forbidden to say words like, “Hate, Shut Up, he’s stupid, you’re a dummy, I could kill you! (believe it or not, people used to say stuff like that).” So glad that type of speech is not acceptable anymore.

For today; Speak Kindly, Sit in Nature, Relax, Remember You’re Enough. Pet a Dog. Go for a walk. Attend a benefit. Always be kind. See you tomorrow!

Today, Tomorrow, and Forever

Photo by Anastasiya Vragova on Pexels.com

So far this morning, it’s been sunny, cloudy, partly cloudy, we’ve played catch with Goldie’s favorite rope, and she’s finally decided she’s as tired as Lexie is. Security is on call and the staff is in a meeting. My favorite time of day. Except for when I wake up with Goldie licking my face and I hear the Babe’s voice, “You getting up?” How could I not? The coffee works its magic, and here we are!

That first cup of coffee promises we’ll conquer the world today. And why not? Except for my blog, which is now a daily habit, I feel awkward when I don’t write one. The day is a blank slate after blogging. Well, usually it does. I’m still placing the Babe’s office in order. It won’t be long now. There will be room for Jewell Publishing, LLC company files. How exciting! A proper place of my own. My manuscripts can live there, too, once they’re in final drafts. My business checkbook can live there, too.

I’m planning in my imagination towards the end of the year, when I’ll have my kids’ book ready to publish, and imagine a Book Launch, with Cartney McGuigan by my side. She’s my very talented illustrator, and I’m so excited to see what magic she’ll create for the world my characters live in.

I see Cartney and me autographing our book. Heck, even if just friends and family come to the launch, we’ll have quite a crowd. A lot of work goes into creating this event. Work that is hard to explain, work that just fits into place as we both tell the story of Roxie, a naughty little puppy. She doesn’t mean to be that way. And sometime Gavin can be naughty, too. They just get each other. They have such a bond.

After launching “ROXIE! What Are You Doing?” I plan to finish the novel and plan to do a couple more children’s stories. And I have more story ideas percolating. Does anyone remember the old electric coffee pots, the percolators?

My parents had a huge drip coffee pot. It made 18 cups of coffee. 18! And they made it twice a day. I think Mom lived on coffee. Dad was a day sleeper, but then he always had a full cup. And before he went to work, he’d methodically pour the coffee, then the cream, and barely 10 grains of sugar just to take the edge off of the bitter coffee taste. He’s stick a knife down into the thermos and stir. He had his rituals for his coffee. It’s a wonderful memory.

Memories are not living in the past. Living in the past happens when we dwell on all the hurts, the slights, and the bad things. We need to pack them up and leave them. I think I’ve finally done that. Living helps us understand circumstances related to those hurts, slights, and bad things.

I’m excited to think of the future. I’m planning and thinking, but I’m not living there yet. Not until it happens. It may not even resemble my hopes and dreams, but I’ll adjust. I always have. Living this long has taught me to be resilient. I know that makes me strong. A lifetime of accepting what’s in God’s plan for me makes me strong. I have learned to not question Him. Sometimes, I close my eyes and pray. “Ok, God. Where are you taking me now?” Strangely, I feel safe. I put my Faith where the fear tries to take over. Yes, I get scared. Especially with the Babe and his health. But the Faith takes over. Faith in God, Gratitude for our life together, and Trust in our doctors and the miracles they perform. It will be all right. It always is.

These are the only two stock photos I could find for “Tomorrow.” It may be here before I know it. Time speeds by faster the older we are. I am finding more people who ask me “If Not Now, When?” I have the time. I have the money. My kids won’t starve. This is the time. The time of my life for this. It feels so good. Try doing what you’ve always wanted to. The time is NOW.

How about you? Are you ready to change your life? Just do it! Take the Art Class. Learn to write. Draw the landscape. Join the group of people with your interests. There is so much to do in the world! Take the first step. After that, the rest are easier! Tell me what you’d love to do.

Thank you for reading today. We’re off to have a beautiful day. I hope you do, too. Grab life by the horns and enjoy the ride! I’ll see you again tomorrow. Be Safe, Kind, Generous, and Aware of life around you. Make it a better world. We can all use one.

Imagination Monday

Look again at today’s header photo. It’s the pepper shaker from one of Pioneer Woman’s collections. I love her dishes, they’re so pretty. For the first time in a long time, I looked closer at it. Check out the look on the bigger yellow dog. What would you call it? Use your imagination!

I’m going to pretend it’s a male. Oh, I know! He’s the Dad, the smaller one is the Mom. They may have just had “words,” (or woofs) over one of the adolescent pups. Or maybe Dad let the pup go out howling all night. Mom doesn’t approve. Or maybe Dad knows Mom’s right, but he hates to admit it. Kind of like human parents.

OR

Maybe they just had a hard day on the Drummond Ranch, helping with the Cattle in the pasture. They’re tired, but boy did they eat good. They earn their keep as working animals. They get to sleep in the house if they want, and they get along with the other family dogs who do their share as well. They’re discussing the giant dogs (horses) and how they get special treatment. And they’re glad THEY don’t have to wear saddles and bridles. Where do those ranchers get their ideas?

Maybe he’s listening patiently while the Mrs. goes on and on about everything and anything. She listens for him as well. That’s what excellent partners and friends do for each other. Venting is normal for everyone!

As the other photos show, there are quite a few details on this set of salt and pepper shakers. There is Charlie the Ranch Dog, (a Basset Hound who has his own series of books. The obligatory rain barrel on one side and the hay on another. These are adorable books if you have little children to read to.

The quilt I displayed them on is a small wall quilt I made when I was just beginning my quest to learn to quilt. I learned an important lesson about color value. I should have remembered about that from high school art class, that you need light, medium, and dark together to make things pop. This one did not have a pop to it, but I love the sunflower boarder and the hand quilting I did. Even though the criteria for value failed, there are still parts about this quilt that are right and rest well with me. And it’s an important lesson in how much I’ve learned since then. The star in the middle needs variations in the colors, not all of them to be the same. I won’t do this mistake again. Value matters a lot.

One reason I started blogging was how much I enjoyed three other blogs; Pioneer Woman’s, Quilt Along With Pat Sloan, and Quiltville by Bonnie Hunter. I’m a self-taught quilter. I started watching an old Alex Anderson quilting show on HGTV over twenty years ago. I bought books (too many), patterns, joined two guilds, and practiced. It’s like writing. It takes years to be experienced at it, and you still can improve. I subscribed to magazines and learned from all the greats. There were always new things to learn. It does wonders for my creative mind. I love to conquer the hard things.

And now, I’m a blogger and author. I had this crazy idea this morning about the story behind these two dogs. And we had fun with it, I believe. I’m always looking at things or people of animals and wondering about their stories. We all have them. What’s yours? Mine is developing. Yes. So is yours. If you’re not happy with your own, you have permission to change it. You need to put in the work; you need to be responsible for yourself, and fulfill any obligations you have raising children, preparing them for the world, then handing the baton over to them. It’s not yours to hold forever. Let them fly. Encourage them to. And encourage yourself as well.

Thanks for going on a creative journey with me today. Do you have any photo, your own or a stock photo you’d like me to write a brief story about? Or a topic you’d like to read? Let me know in the comments below. I look forward to your ideas. We can have some fun with that. Let’s enjoy this beautiful day and get outside! See you tomorrow.

Preach it, Sistah! (Or Don’t!)

I remember growing up, Mom would often go on tirades about different things. She still does. By now, we all know she hates the telephone. She hates interruptions. She hates Telemarketers. She hates anyone interrupting her day. She hates the answering machine. She hates the “money mongers” on PBS. She hates reruns of Julia Child. She hates old people. She hates old men. She hates asking for help. She hates not having help. She believes in her heart it’s venting. Oh Mom. No. It’s bitching. What’s happening that’s good?

God, please help me to not do that. It’s such a blessing when you visit with another human who can tell you what they love. Especially when you repeat it multiple times a year. No, she won’t change. My brothers and I have to cope with the negativity. Now, if something is truly wrong, we respond quickly. It’s hard to decipher actual issues from complaining. We all know plenty of people who are negative. Usually negativity comes from fear. Fear of what could happen. But it hasn’t yet. Too much time in your own head can make a lot of fear and negativity surface. Old habits die hard. Fear makes us hold on to them. Just because we’ve always done it “this way.”

How is that? Like our elders? All politicians are crooks. Insurance companies are all scammers. No one can touch my remote control. I don’t even use it. You’ll mess up the tv. Leave it alone. I’ll wait until someone comes over to ask about the dripping faucet. “You never would let me hold you when you were a baby.” Sorry, Mom. I have no explanation for you about that. I was a baby!

All I can say is this. Rather than complaining about everything under the sun that’s ever happened, try kindness, instead. We all respond more to kindness than we do to barrages of constant complaints, warranted or not. We can direct the conversation in a more positive direction. We can all try that. If I ask you how you are, it sets a better mood to say, “I’m grateful to have woke up today,” rather than, “Well, I’m still here.” We could preach to the other person. Or we could respond with our own positivity instead. If they insist on doom and gloom, we have to let them be. When it affects us, we can withdraw from the conversation. Steer it elsewhere. For your sake. If they persist, cut your visit short. Don’t carry their gloom with you. Pray for them. It’s the gracious thing to do.

As a kid, I thought I was responsible for cheering Mom up. It did no good. I didn’t realize I thought this way until I felt so sorry for her when no one but me and my family were present for holiday dinners. She’d always dreamed we’d all have spouses and tons of kids. She had the perfect dining room, table, and chairs for it. It never happened. My presence didn’t matter. It was her ideal to handle, not mine.

During the “lean years” I was a single mom, I started consciously finding something to be glad about, especially if the car broke down, the water main broke in the dead of winter, the dryer stopped working, you know what I mean. You live through those things. It’s not convenient, but you make it through somehow. Every unfamiliar noise in an old car, you can bet will turn into something. Luckily, Dad taught me to listen to the noises, try to figure out where they came from, and to describe them to the mechanic. In later years, I had a great garage to go to. West Center Automotive, on 90 & Center, before HyVee built there. Jim was his name. The kids had older cars, too. Sometimes, it’d be an expensive repair. I’d call to see if the car was ready.

Jim would ask, “Are you sitting down?”

I’d say, “Is there a comma in the amount?”

He’d laugh and tell me the amount.

I’d always say, “That’s not as bad as it could be.”

He knew my situation, and I had a lot of trust in him and his sons, who worked for him. A pleasant exchange with another person lightened my load. Had it been otherwise, I would have feared everything that “might” happen. I just don’t want to live that way. It’s not to say I don’t expect some things. I do. I just don’t let it ruin my day. Things happen. To everyone. Not just us.

If, through all the negativity we hear all day, you have had enough, it’s time to do the one thing we all can do. That’s to display a live-and-let-live attitude. You’ll feel calmer, centered, more positive, and people will enjoy your company. Most things are none of our business. I want the loudest sermons to be how we live our lives at the Home Office, here in Gretna, Nebraska. I’ll pray we all get there. Join me.

Thanks for reading today. We’ll see you again tomorrow, and we’ll be grateful to God for waking us up again. Life is so full of wonderful things! Let’s focus on what goes on around us. Approach life with gratitude, kindness, humility, and calmness. You’ll see a tremendous change in everything. Be Safe out there!