Understanding Life, Backwards?

So here’s the deal.

“We can only understand life by looking backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Soren Kierkegaard

Wait. Isn’t that an apparent contradiction?

No, it’s the truth. By examining our family history, we learn more about ourselves, not them. It isn’t genealogy. We may know our family tree backwards and forwards. That isn’t what we need to learn. Where we came from is important, and it’s quite a hobby now days.

To understand ourselves and our choices in life, we must examine our past to find out why we do what we do. Why we are who we are. And especially where our feelings come from. It’s a lot of hard work. Many of us don’t want to do it. If you’re like me, and feel as if you didn’t fit, you were different, and still don’t understand some things we feel and why we’re where we are. It’s very hard. You may not like the answers. But you have to ask the questions.

The key to all of this investigation is to do it with compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. We owe that to our parents, grandparents, and our children. My dad’s family was different, so was mom’s. And you take two people who don’t know each other’s inner lives, they marry, have a family, and then you learn about each other.

The kids inherit things from generations back. Things like never talking about feelings, keeping secrets, and being so stoic you hold back even love, out of fear, fear of others falling short again, not loving you as you need to be loved. Toss in a man’s PTSD from serving in two wars, and a woman’s dysfunction from being an adult child of two alcoholics, and you really have an interesting concoction, to say the least. They did the best they could.

I am stating facts here, not being judgmental, whiny, or looking for pity. (Pity is the last thing I want). By examining your past, you come to understand yourself better. Sometimes, you realize a parent is toxic. Other times you learn how to still deal with a family member who uses you. You learn to set boundaries with your family, which can be an absolute necessity with some family members. If you can’t imagine this kind of situation, I’m so happy for you. It’s the reality of many, many people all over the world. I’m glad you’re not one of them.

For those of you who do understand, I’m sorry you went through this. And, I encourage you to learn how to overcome this bad treatment. It is hard, but so worth it. If you are care giving to the person who belittled you, you are a wonderful human. You have forgiven them enough to offer them the help they need. You need to have boundaries as to how they treat you now. It’s necessary.

Having a person who understands the situation helps you get through this. Talk with them. Let them help you realize your loved one cannot help how they are until they want to change. Yes, it’s obvious they need to. But they won’t simply because we point out their shortcomings and abuse. It’s always our fault.

I promised my dad, as did two of my three brothers, that we would watch out for Mom. Mom was 59 when he died at 64. I was 37 at the time. My heart hasn’t recovered from that. He was my champion, my biggest fan. No, I was not a spoiled brat of a child. I’m glad. It all helped make me a strong woman to weather all the storms of life, keep my shoulders squared, my head up, and walk through fire. No one ever knew I felt like unset Jello, wobbling all over the place inside. They couldn’t see that. I’m grateful to God, every second of my life, and how we arrived here.

All of this said, I love my family. I love Dad for being the man he was, son of a father who was in an orphanage for many years, an Irish woman who had a mean father but a heart of gold; I love Mom for the years when she would put such love into Christmas and Thanksgiving, help me with my kids as a single Mom, the daughter of two people who were raging alcoholics in their younger years but were loving grandparents; I love the memory of a brother who is estranged from all of us by his choice; I love the brother who checks on Mom many times a day, who has a sense of humor that was built on Loony Tune Cartoons; I love the brother who is constantly conquering his addictions, he has grown up into the man Dad always said he would be.

It’s a risk, sharing all of this. You don’t end up satisfied with life by forgetting the past. You only end up grateful and happy by working through things. Avoidance always gets in the way. Guaranteed.

Find your way through the past and focus on what’s in your present and future. It’s the only things we truly can have control over, by our attitudes, intentions, strength, and knowledge. Finding out what’s important to you, who you are, and who you want to be. Work hard. You won’t be sorry, trust me.

Have a beautiful day today. It’s new and exciting and yours, not theirs. You’ve come this far. Keep going. See you tomorrow! I’ll tell you all about the outdoor musical we’re going to tonight, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” another production from Rave On Productions. Praying the rain passes by us.

Sometimes . . .

I couldn’t tell you what I love more; watching Gavin play baseball, or watching his dad, TJ coach his team. It would be like trying to choose my favorite child. The team played very well last night; their first game of a tournament weekend. TJ was not only coach, but head cheerleader, encouraging each kid and their unique talents; Chief Medic, tending to head bumps, re-injuring an elbow; and helping a little guy stop his nose bleed so he could continue pitching; and equipment manager, gathering it all up after the game so he’s ready for the 10 a.m. game today. That man can do it all!

You can tell the boys look up to their coach. They are learning not only how to pitch, field, bat, and the rules of the game, they are learning how to be young men. They are learning to concentrate on this game, the one right now, not dwelling on yesterday’s mistakes. Their coach has a different approach, he appears firm but fair, plays everyone, and corrects their form as needed. Before the game last night, he told them, “Just play better than you did Tuesday.” Tuesday night was a terribly off night for everyone, all at once. They did! Crossing my fingers on today.

I’m excited to go this afternoon to my class about using my new sewing machine. I’m not only learning about something new, I’m opening another door towards creativity. Hoping to get back to making things to wear (in my spare time.)

I look forward to this day, and learning. The Babe just texted. Gavin’s game is on, with a 15 minute rain delay. I hope he has a great game. He’s learning about the strategy of resting his arm when he’s the pitcher. Dad calculates carefully how much Gavin can pitch, and he plays other positions in between. He’s great at first base, catcher, but seems a little bored at second, the outfield, and third. You can just see the improvement since the first game, and that is because the boys are learning, and growing as players, under the guidance of their coach. So proud of him. Our family is so blessed.

Time to get in front of the new sewing machine. May you all have a wonderful Saturday. We’re planning to. See you tomorrow!

Renewal Thursday!

There are so many pieces to having a presence on Social Media promoting yourself. Many things, like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are free. I’ve seen followers increase lately, and did a couple Facebook Ads, for my author page, business page, and the VFW Post. It’s amazing the traffic that can be brought to your door. We’re trying to keep up all four pages (including my personal account) on a daily basis. It’s fun, but time consuming.

Other parts are the “set and forget” kind. Like my website/blog. It’s where I have followers and folks who read my blogs daily. When I originally set up the website, I paid for two years, since it was cheaper. Best money I ever spent. It’s my consistent practice writing. I’m experimenting with my craft with learning about websites, and making my presence known.

When I logged in earlier this week and saw the message, “Renew Your Subscription,” I stopped and smiled. I’ve stuck with it for two whole years. I’ve learned so much. Mostly what not to do. But I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. With a happy heart, I hit the renew button, entered my credit card info, and thought, “You’ll really be published next time you renew this!” How very exciting!

I’ve published 746 blogs before today. That’s a bunch. Some haven’t been very good, and I know that. It’s all part of the process. It’s all there, good and bad. I can definitely see improvement in content, form, and all that jazz. There is always room for more improvement. I take it day by day. Another month is ending and a brand new, shiny one is on the horizon. I like month’s with 31 days in them. They feel more complete.

The next three months will see me sprucing up the website, adding some information, and hopefully, publishing my kid’s book. More on that a bit later. I’m just going to enjoy the feeling of continuing to create on my website/blog and know it will just get better. And you know, the kid book is about our grandson Gavin and his love for dogs. Especially our special dog, Roxie.

When we lost her, it was an accident, and it hurt us for a very long time. In fact, the only thing I could do when she died was write. I wrote one of my first blogs on a regular basis about her. I think telling Gavin’s grief story can help other children learn something important about loss and coping with it. He is doing very well two years later, and loves Goldie, who is a crazy lab who loves to play catch, and his Josie, who came to live with them a year ago. He is old enough to care for a dog and it’s good responsibility for him. How things have changed!

We have a book launch to attend tonight at 5:30. I think I purchased the book beforehand, so we’ll be picking it up and listen to the presentation the author gives. I want to take it all in, because I’ll be having one before too long myself. It’s all coming together. Good days and bad days, all happening at once. Life is indeed, very good. Have a great evening. See you tomorrow!

Winding Through Wednesday

Today, Mom needs to go to the dentist. If I don’t get this finished before I need to leave, I can finish it in the waiting room. Or I can start reading another book. The book may win, as I have several that sound very interesting. “Ticker Tape,” by Nebraska Author Tammy Marshall is probably the one I will land on. It’s about a Vietnam Veteran returning home and his life after the war. It could be any of the men I encounter daily at the VFW Post we volunteer at. It could be the Babe, or any of our friends. I’m looking forward to reading the story.

It’s kind of amazing, in the last three years, since I started writing, I look at stories completely different now. The stories, the scenes, what happens on camera, what happens off camera. What belongs, what doesn’t. It’s a whole different way of thinking. Not saying it’s better, just different. I’m finally coming to understanding of my craft and I can see my own progress. We’ll keep going!

I am greatly encouraged when I can see my own progress. On a daily basis, we get busy doing and may not realize how far we’ve come. And I’m becoming a better writer every day. I want to be a better story teller all the way around. My stories just happen to be written down with words. Some folks make their stories into songs, some folks make their stories into art.

My friend Rick Tiger and I talked about writing, both in the context of songs vs. stories. He told me we would write a song next year, when he returned to the VFW to sing again. Unfortunately, he came down with COVID after he returned home, and the world lost him September 1. I’m still reeling when I think of this wonderful man, this friend who would help pray you through difficulties and check in with you later, is gone. I’m so sad for his wife and family. His story is not finished, not by a longshot. And I may write a song someday, but I know he will still guide me through it. That’s how it works with friends and family who pass on. They’re still with you. You have to be still and feel them. Spirits are strong.

It appears I forgot to post this on Wednesday, so you get two blogs today. See you later!

Suddenly It’s Sunday Again!

Wow! What a week! It’s been the longest short week I’ve had for quite a long time. It was a great one, though. How about for all of you? I hope you’re all well and able to enjoy this beautiful Sunday, wherever you are.

The Babe and I had a big list of stuff to do this week. Probably 75% of it was done. But even at that, washing windows was not in the cards with all the much needed rain. Probably this week. I once had a house with 36 windows. They were old, cheap combination windows I cleaned twice a year. What a job! Now, instead of having to take the parts out, I can take out the screens, and use a product that hooks to your garden hose. You can clean the window, switch the product off, then rinse. Five minutes, then give the screen a shot of suds and rinsing, it’s all clean and ready to put back in when dry. Since we have a ranch style home, you can squeedge the water off or dry with a cloth. You can see again!

We went to the Post this morning for the first Sunday breakfast in a long time, and we enjoyed a good meal for $8. They did well, and it shuts down at Noon. We had breakfasts once a month for quite awhile, then stopped because not a lot of people were coming up, and that was before COVID. Good call to start them again. A new group of helpers makes the work go well.

Today, I will put the finishing touches on my stories of origin. It’s been a fun project and I’ve learned a lot. This has also been the week to unveil the new VFW Post 2503 website. The Babe’s brother in law Brad is a web designer, among other things, and he put it together for us. I’ve learned a lot more about WordPress this week, so that time has been so worth it. It’s been a fun as well as frustrating week. My stubbornness has kept me from calling him for help in figuring things out. Some things I still needed help with, but it took me back to my working days and the triumph of trouble shooting problems. A victory when you figure stuff out, for sure.

There will be a learning curve to keep going, and it’s ok. I’ve actually improved my website too, in case you didn’t notice. The new “Home” page has a bit about me and my headshot. I’ll need a new one since my COVID hair has grown almost shoulder length. I decided to keep the hair. I’ve missed it. I’ve had long hair most of my life, it’s sort of a signature. So what if it’s gray. No one cares anymore. Part of my brand, actually. “It’s Not Too Late, and I’m Not Too Old.”

The newest blog for the day is under “Today’s Blog” and a collection of all my blogs is available on the “Blogs at a Glance” page. There is a page to “Contact” me, and I’d sure like my followers to fill that out. I’ll keep e-mails to a minimum when they start, trust me! I haven’t published yet, but I’ll have your contact information for when I need it. I’d appreciate your help with that.

The other thing you could do under comments, is suggest a topic for the daily blog. If there is some part of writing you have questions about, I’d be glad to try and answer them. You’ll be helping me a great deal.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I have to say, I’m scouring the free photo sites and looking for typewriter photos. I marvel at how big they are now. I hated typing on an old manual typewriter, the very old kind, because I had to address envelopes for advertising. The darned shift hold wasn’t in too good of shape, so it would type off center of the line. Arghhh! Had to throw them away, the boss wouldn’t let me erase it and white out hadn’t been invented yet. It was embarrassing!

I have to say, owning one of these typewriters would be fun for messing around, but I’m personally very happy with the ease of computer software. It’s awesome. Easy to correct. I don’t know how many words I can type, but wow, it’s way better than the hunt and peck method most people seem to use now. I cannot imagine typing an entire 80K novel using the hunt and peck method!

Photo by Logan Fisher on Pexels.com

I love these Aspen trees in Colorado. This is the perfect time of year out there. Well, summer can be, too. I have never been there in the snow, or a blizzard, so I can’t speak to that. Our daughter Becky moved there in 2001, and it’s our favorite place to go, even before she lived there.

This afternoon will be spent re-reading my character origin stories, and maybe actually reading a book for pleasure. The deck is just perfect right now, so I plan to enjoy it. How will you spend your day?

Thank you for spending part of it with me. I’ll be here again tomorrow, and I hope to see you, too. Have hope in your hearts, we all need it now more than ever. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Safe. And definitely, Be Aware of all around you.

Getting Schooled

Happy, happy Wednesday, folks! I’m just hanging out waiting for a webinar to begin. I’ve not used this meeting software before, so hope it goes well. Just to be safe, I downloaded their free software, but I’m waiting to see if the link the speaker sent will get me in. Wish me luck.

When I first started reading and researching all the things you need to do in this world to release a book the non-traditional way, I became pretty overwhelmed. I wanted to quit. For some people, it is a “you must learn and do everything at once!” kind of urgency. I had a hard time believing I had to start marketing the book before I even started it. But then, I started to market myself. To tell some folks what I dreamed of doing, and I started to write. Now, I’ve changed ideas within the first manuscript. Sam, my trusty book coach, coached a whole different book from me than what I had my heart set on. The heart knows not what the brain should do. Once my brain got on board, it makes perfect sense now.

So based on the prior thoughts I was wrestling with, by this time last year, I was convinced I had to do my cover, write my blurb, learn Kindle Marketing, learn all things Amazon, keywords, tags, categories, and on and on and on, until I wanted to dive into the special edition, 1975 leftover bottle of Crown Royal my dad received from an ink salesman who serviced the World Herald account Dad was in charge of. (Nope, didn’t touch it. It’s still there for the next special occasion.) It could drive a sane person straight into anxiety.

I backed up and pondered the options for awhile. Writing is the more important thing to me. And blogging, which is writing every day. So that went to the top of the list. And I churned out over 40K words for NaNoWriMo last November. Just because you churned out 40K words, doesn’t mean they’re useable. The goal was words, not finished writing.

I even ran a contest; whoever commented every and any day would be in a drawing for $50. The winner was my friend Pat Riedmann. She donated it back to be used for kids who are learning to write. Since COVID happened, I couldn’t donate to a summer camp held by local writers, etc. I am donating it to be a retainer for a young artist I’d like to have illustrate my children’s book, “Roxie, What Are You Doing?” Hoping the deal works out, it would be fun.

I adore children’s books. Now that I’m a Grandma, I hope to write one the littlest ones will learn to read, and I can write something to interest the older ones. An audience from eight months to thirteen years is pretty expansive in the genre of kids books. I’ll be guided in the right direction by God, I know I will. It always seems it happens that way. If I listen.

The webinar was great, this lady knew what she was talking about. It was regarding using Goodreads for advertising. Four out of five suggestions available are free. Your name will be in front of many, many people. I’m enthused about promoting myself and my book there. More on that later.

Thank you for reading today. I’m so grateful you do. I enjoy our time together. Time to rest up a bit now for it’s Hamburger/Food Night at the VFW Post 2503. Take care, everyone. I will see you tomorrow. Be safe.