A Do-Over Kinda Monday

When we start on a new path in our lives, we never know how far we’ll go forward. It often requires new habits, new activities, new friends, and new environments. Use a family who relocates in a new city, with new jobs, a new home, and a new culture. We do it all the time, and often, don’t think it’s such a big deal.

But it is. We decide what comes with us into our new life in that new city. We get a do-over. Life grants those every now and then. We can create our own do-over, and it’s easier than we think. And it’s harder, too. 

If we decide we want to eat healthier, we need to get in the mindset to eliminate things we snack on that aren’t good for us. Sounds simple enough, but it’s hard! I don’t want to use the phrase, 

“Give it up,” because that reminds me of how Catholics, “Give something up for Lent/Advent.” 

Mom used to give up beer for Lent. She’d lose about thirty pounds, too. Fasting and abstaining was the norm. At 93, she still does, but doesn’t drink beer anymore. 

If we decide to change something big, we may need to start small. Telling the truth is a big deal for me. Don’t lie to me, no matter how small it is to you. In my opinion, if you tell small lies easily, you’ll tell big ones as well. And if I cannot trust you, we cannot be friends. I probably don’t even want you on the fringes of my life. Truth matters. In every aspect of life. 

Omitting important factors is lying, too, it’s lying by omission. Kids do it. Adults shouldn’t. If you are hiding something to keep me from getting angry, it’s wrong. Don’t you get that? Telling the truth is important, and shouldn’t be something you give up just for Lent/Advent. You should give it up for life. Start small if you must, but finish big. Honesty is so necessary in this world, and in our lives. Make this new habit part of your life. And mine, since it affects your friends, too.

Sometimes, we need to change a lot in our lives. Many of us do. We can tackle it one thing at a time. And it should be for forever, not just six weeks on the calendar. That length of time would be used to create the new habit. Why not get started today? Let’s do it together! I’d like to spend more time creating – whether it be writing, quilting, sewing, and reading. 

What are you going to do today to start a do-over and new habit? It can be big or small. The important thing is we begin. Today. Have a beautiful day, and we’ll see each other again tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

The Truth Is the Truth.

You can’t “try to” do something. You either do it or you don’t. Trying doesn’t count. Even Yoda knows that. It is more honest for us to say, “I wasn’t up to doing that today,” or “I’ll do it first thing tomorrow.” Either of those is more like the truth.

Too often, we feel the need to look good. That is as superficial as it sounds. An old friend used to say, tongue in cheek, “It’s better to look good than to BE good.” We’d have a good laugh. Then, we would continue our conversation. That came back to me just now. I think people tend to believe the superficial looking good over being good. It’s a lie, you know?

I think we need to first be honest with ourselves, before being honest with others. We often lie first to ourselves, then to others. Let’s stop both. Lies by omission, lies by half truths. They’re both lies. Truth is important to me, and it’s important to the Babe. Yes, it takes work. It takes vigilance. And the effort is worth it.

In today’s world, some folks don’t care about lies, half-truths, and omissions of truth. A person’s integrity is built on telling the truth, in my opinion. I believe it’s a basic building block of a relationship. I am so fortunate I can trust the Babe, so grateful for that gift.

Whatever kind of cold or whatever I have is interfering with my productivity. No progress made on my quilt, darned it. I’m just going with it, getting frustrated doesn’t work. Here’s hoping by Monday, I’m better.

Enjoy the rest of the evening, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Life is Not War . . .

And people are not the enemy.

Have you known someone who was convinced, even before they got out of bed in the morning that it’s going to be a terrible day? When you expect hostility, you get hostility. Also true if we believe there are no good people, we won’t look where there may be good ones, only where we know there are bad ones.

I did it too. I was sure all the good men were married or buried. I was so wrong, although technically, the Babe was married when I got divorced. We wouldn’t meet for another 14 years, so I suppose part of that was true. For awhile. I had more to learn, and so did he.

I worked with someone who wouldn’t even say, “Good morning,” when I greeted her. It took two years for her to tell me she hated people who were happy in the morning. She wasn’t a morning person. I wasn’t going to squash my joy because she was a grouch. I didn’t stop telling her “Good morning.” Let them be grumpy, I’m not. And I won’t be for you.

Many people wage wars between their ears, not physically. Fear is a big cause. Fear they’ll learn what you’re really like. Fear they’ll not like us. Fear they’ll know Mom drinks. Or your brother gambles. Or your other brother uses drugs. A lot of drugs. No, lies are no good either. Ignoring these problems doesn’t make them go away. Meeting them head on doesn’t either. But it makes them manageable. Remember, we can’t control outcomes, just our efforts.

Try it tomorrow morning! It will be a Monday. The day society seems to collectively hate. I don’t. Never really have. But before you get up, just think of what a good day it will be. It’s the start of a brand new week, a holiday for remembering our Indigenous People, not Christopher Columbus. A lot of kids are out of school, and it will be Indian Summer-like weather-wise. Interesting!

Change your attitude, change how you live. Expect peace and pleasantness. You may be surprised. Did a lot on the quilt pieces today, and should have them ready for machine applique and sewing tomorrow. Finally!

NO! I have to be positive, not sarcastic with myself. I did a lot today. It was a nice day, and we each did what we needed to do. The Babe made his first batch of chili for the season. It’s pretty yummy. We’ll have a couple lunches of it, and it’s always good for a quick bite when we don’t have time to cook. Or don’t want to. We expect a lot of soups and chilies.

Have a good rest of the evening; practice on making it a good morning, and I’ll see you tomorrow. Be safe, and enjoy the nice day ahead.

Talk Doesn’t Cook Rice

Have you ever had someone apologize for their behavior only to have them repeat the behavior later? We probably all have. The words are meaningless. The behavior that is the only way to know someone is sorry. If they say the words yet do nothing about it, they are not sincere in their apology.

People who are familiar with AA are told the only apology is changed behavior. I’m only familiar with them through a relative’s long-term relationship with them. He has truly changed his behavior, apologized, and made amends. The saying has struck me deeply. Once I heard it, I thought, “Yes!” Remember it next time you apologize to someone. Mean it when you say it. And don’t behave that way again. By keeping your word and acting out your apology, you become trustworthy.

Saying and doing are two completely different things. A person who keeps doing the same things over and over has no true remorse. If you choose to believe them, then are treated the same way, you need to think deeply about what you really want, how you will allow people to treat you, and if you can believe someone who doesn’t keep their word. You are the only one who can come to that conclusion.

Yes, we want to be understanding. Yes, it’s an admirable trait and very healing. Understanding must not used as an excuse or reason to allow unacceptable behavior. You do yourself no good, and you do the other person no good by tolerating less than acceptable behavior. Don’t let them tell you they’re sorry and never fix their actions. You will make miles of progress yourself in calling them out.

I did this exact thing a couple weeks ago. I was disrespected by someone in a public way. I told them they would never talk to me that way again. It was not acceptable. They apologized. I did not accept as I’d seen them behave that way before. I told them the only apology was changed behavior. I hope it made a difference.

I’d like to thank my youngest brother for teaching me this. It has made a huge difference in what I’ll tolerate and what I won’t. What have you learned today? Is it something you can share? Did it make you believe in yourself more? Do you stand taller for practicing it? I hope so. Have a beautiful rest of the day. See you tomorrow.

The Smartest Word We Can Say

Are “Help Me!”

It definitely doesn’t mean we’re needy. I was raised in a “Do it yourself, you can’t rely on anyone!” kind of environment. When I was a single Mom, I did a lot on my own. At that point in my life, I was angry and didn’t trust anyone to stick around. I was looking for love in the wrong places as the song goes. Nothing was permanent. My kids and I were a great family, we were close, and had a lot of wonderful times. We also had hard times. When the car broke down or we needed a plumber, it was tight. Back then, the local plumber my folks used billed you 30 days later. A Godsend!

The kids and I learned a lot about dry walling, privacy fence installation, and a lot of other things. I was lucky the boys did the lawn without being shamed into doing it; they actually enjoyed it. One time, they tried to make a mowing pattern like they saw at Wrigley Field during the televised Cubs games. Great memories.

If I were to be honest with myself, I was devastated the person I thought would love me forever didn’t understand anything about me, the kids, or the life I thought we were building. It just didn’t matter to him. A lot of relationships end when one person refuses to grow and the other is held down. Sometimes you need to end something in order to become who you were meant to be.

It was the discomfort I felt during that time that urged me to change my life. I had to. I asked for help from professionals who knew what they were doing. It was the biggest risk I’d taken. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about creating opportunities and being honest with myself. I do know enough to lead my life, make my decisions, and enjoy the consequences or learn from my failures.

Honesty is what you learn when you ask for help. I had to be honest, Ken and Barbie were not happy as everyone thought. I’d also grown up in a house where we don’t tell people our business, and we especially don’t tell our father. As I’ve watched a close friend of mine bare her soul of her struggle with PTSDc, I’ve felt challenged to tell the truths I have, the ones that are close to my heart. I’m amazed at how people relate, and say, “I felt that way, too.” Or “I never realized how miserable you were.”

Many times we’re the guy or gal at the end of the rope being pulled to safety in the Coast Guard helicopter. Sometimes, we’re the pilot, helping someone else. I believe this is what we’re here for.

The Babe and I saw this action yesterday, at the end of the 50 Mile March. It got us in the feels for sure. Our friends from 50 Mile March, (Jay Miralles), Moving Veterans Forward, (Ron Hernandez), and Guitars for Vets (Taylor Frye Ullom), were feeling the effects of walking 50 miles in 22 hours. They are battered, beyond tired, blistered, and beginning to plan next year already.

Being part of the ones who battle the 22 a Day statistic humbles us. All we can do is gain information about suicide and learn it is not shameful. People are often at the point of no return and they’re afraid for whatever reason to ask for help. In September, the VFW Post 2503 in Omaha is hosting an afternoon of discussion and training on “Talk Saves Lives.” I’ll share the information soon. If you will be in Omaha on Sunday, September 25 from Noon – 4 p.m., you may be interested.

Today is a warmer day, and in the sun it’s hot. It’s supposed to do that all week, then cool again. Such is early fall in Nebraska. Take care today. Offer to help someone without them asking. Simply holding the door is fine. It all helps. See you tomorrow!

#952 and Counting!

We quote Oliver Wendell Holmes as saying:

“As life is action and passion, it is required of man that he should share the action and passion of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.”

How many people do we know who dare not pursue their passion? Whether it’s writing, playing guitar, racing cars, photography, motorcycle drag racing, or simply expressing their opinion? Too many, if we’re truthful. We may even be some of them. So what do we do?

Before I published very many blogs, I was pretty timid about getting out here in the blog-o-sphere. I read a few I enjoyed; Quilters Pat Sloan and Bonnie Hunter; and Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond. They told stories as they shared beautiful quilts and how to do what they do. Ree Drummond shared stories of Marlboro Man (her husband) and her children. We’ve been cyber friends for a long time now. I’ve refined my quilting techniques and learned to cook in different ways. They are quite successful, drawing readers into their worlds and showing a part of life I had not considered.

When I researched how an independent author/publisher can put themselves “out there,” blogging was an option. Because of Pat Sloan and her beautiful website, showcasing quilts in a way that made me want to make them all, I became acquainted with WordPress. The rest is history, in a way. It appeared to have an excellent product, and with an I/T background, how hard could it be? It’s very user friendly, and I’ve learned something I enjoy. Bonus!

As I finally get back to this, it is very late in the evening; we’ve had a late meeting at the Post. I took Mom to get her hair done, and the sun is magnificent in the West. Every day ends well, doesn’t it? I’m reaching out yet again into the universe and giving the blogging universe, which is part of the writing universe, a whirl. And I’m still here. I’ll still be here tomorrow, too, to continue this journey. I hope you’ll be along then, to continue this trip with me. Hope we go to a fun place. Until tomorrow, be safe out there. See you soon!

How Honest Am I?

I’ve been a bit off lately, and it’s because a person in my life has been dishonest with me. It is not the Babe, so not to worry. It’s someone who’s been dishonest before. Even though I’m used to it, it still makes me angry.

Is honesty a rarity in the world now? Politicians talk about being transparent. Lovers want honesty over anything. And if we ever want a chance of making a change for the better in life, we need to be totally honest with the one person who matters above all else; ourselves.

We can lie to ourselves until the cows come home; the outcome is we often believe our lies so much they become our reality. We can hurt others with these untruths. With how we perceive our progress when measuring personal growth, we must have real objectives to aim for, and honest, decipherable steps to get there. If you don’t measure up, you don’t progress. Seems simple enough. If you do a day’s work, you can only expect a day’s progress. Slowly but surely will get to our goal.

Billy Joell has a song called “Honesty.” Recorded in the late 70s and included on his grammy winning album of the year. It has been a long-time favorite. Listen to the words and ask how it applies to your lives. Are you honest with others? How about with ourselves? Are we honest with ourselves about ourselves? The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. No excuses.

As I look at getting back on track today, I’m going to pray for the person who was not truthful with me. It’s the best things to do, under the circumstances. This is not the first time they have been less than honest. The result? I cannot trust them. Now that I know that, I’ll be on my guard more. It’s a shame, but to protect myself and the truth, it’s necessary.

Maybe honesty is such a lonely word. However, lies hurt more than honesty. And they last forever. Don’t ask me what’s wrong if you’re dishonest with me. You know exactly what you did. And until you decide to change, I will not be trusting you. Period.

Go out and get some sunshine today. I hope to get the rest of my plants potted and dig out some dandelions from the little garden off the patio. It’s time. 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.

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

Excuses Vs. Reasons

Jonathan Swift said, “An excuse is a lie guarded.” That is not far from the truth. We often delude ourselves as we delay work we need to do on ourselves, on our bad habits, on our addictions and on our silly excuses we don’t live our best lives. We all do it, you know. Me, too.

I know people who dwell on the wrongs done them as excuses why they don’t get something done, why they never found love, why after 50 years they didn’t do something differently. I’m serious. Some folks have excuses they blurt out like a litany in the Catholic Church services. It’s sad, but it’s also hilarious. Blame is placed on someone else. It becomes the excuse they use to stay frozen in place, where they think they’re safe. But they’re not. They’re unhappy, negative, and live a stagnant life.

Life wasn’t meant to be an existence that is static. As humans, we are created to experience growth and change. Our bodies are constantly changing, growing new cells, working to live, and craving more energy to keep alive. Our brains need new experiences, new challenges, new creations. Art, music, and reading feed our souls, minds, and beings.

Yes, it’s risky trying something we’ve never done before. But why not? It doesn’t hurt to try. Better yet, how about doing? Some folks have lied so much to themselves they believe their own excuses. I believe excuses are just that. Reasons, however, are valid. They are obstacles placed in your way; like I can’t do the 50 Mile Walk because I broke my ankle. That is a valid reason. An excuse is, “It might rain, (take an umbrella), I have to work, (you could take vacation).

Alcoholics and addicts have the best excuses ever. “Someone was driving at me the wrong way on the street.” Ha! You were the one that crossed the center line; it’s on you, not someone else.” “I lost track of time.” Sure, you were passed out somewhere and missed your surprise birthday party. When dealing with these folks, we have to keep track of their records.

Delusions may crop up in our minds about those negative, toxic relationships. They are no good for us. They are no good for the addicts or addicts either. The delusion continues when we let them back into our lives and they continue with their excuses without skipping a beat. “Maybe I was too hard on him.” No, you weren’t. An adult keeps their promises. An adult shows up. An adult doesn’t run scared. Another chance? Enter at your own risk. You may likely be the only one hurt. Don’t risk it again, unless you are certain the alcoholic quit drinking for good, the addict is clean. And they haven’t switched one bad habit/addiction for something else. You are worth more than that.

The more you practice making healthy decisions, the better off you will be. The only risks you may be taking are those on doing something you’ve always wanted to do. You. For yourself. We have a friend who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Coast Trail. In between, he had a double knee replacement. This may be a bit extreme, but he loved it. Do something and conquer it. You’ll stretch your world. You’ll become bolder, brighter, and a whole lot happier. Dwelling on the past and your excuses is counter productive.

Using myself as an example, I’ve snacked needlessly the past week or so. I’m horrified at how easily my resolve to eat healthy has gone out the window. The Babe is done with eating healthy. He’ll do what he does. I’m not fond of it, but it’s his decision. I refuse to make our time together miserable because I want him to be healthier. Why become a nag, making our life together unbearable? Not how I want him to remember me. Not how I want to be, either. I could use the excuse, “He brought home cookies, donuts, ice cream, chips and popcorn.” It’s not the Babe’s fault I caved on my own resolve. I need to step up, be responsible, and not blame someone else.

I will lose the 5+ pounds I’ve gained being naughty. I will be happier with myself and feel less sluggish. Keto friends, stay tuned! I’m loving putting on an outfit and the Babe telling me, “It’s too big.” What?? I haven’t heard that for a long, long time, if ever. It’s nice. And my knees don’t hurt like they did. I was close to asking for a replacement. Yes, I have a lot of arthritis in them, they’re bone on bone. But, the squats I did all summer must have strengthened a part of the knees so they don’t hurt. I’m amazed at what a 45 pound weight loss can do. You can do it to.

Once I stopped accepting bad treatment by others, I gained respect, love, and realization what I deserved vs. what I received. I gained the Babe. I gained self respect. I gained a new view of life. I am amazed at the last twenty five years of my life. I’m also amazed that at the age of nearly 70, I’m living a great story. I’m starting to share my story. It’s a story that could help others. I believe I’m being called to do just that. Stories about kids for kids; as Grandma Kathy, and stories about women for women; as Kathy Raabe, Author. What I’m learning, what I’ve experienced, and the risks taken aren’t so scary now. Time for some more big risks. Yes! I can hardly wait.

Thanks for reading today. More minor decluttering today. Getting stuff done. And some novel writing, too. Have a wonderful Wednesday. See you tomorrow!