Faults v. Virtues

When you think of yourself, what comes to mind first?

“I could lose 30 pounds.”

“I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.”

“I’m a terrible Mom.”

As a child, we’re often taught not to talk about our abilities. “Don’t be conceited,” they tell us. “It’s not polite.” Especially for a girl. I remember reading in a Catholic Girl (was that the title? don’t remember for sure) Magazine, it was stressing the duty of the girl to remain “pure” in mind, body, and heart. Part of the duty was to praise the boyfriend, and be his lovely assistant in everything, to know their place. We didn’t hear “Good Job!” every time we did something. Some of us were told a “B” wasn’t good enough, it should have been an “A”.

Wow, that was the late 50s and early 60s for you. No more. We weren’t supposed to be smarter than the boys, or stronger, or better at doing anything. Wow. There are many very intelligent women, strong women, who are the best at what they do. How sad we were instructed to dumb ourselves down. How can we live fully is we pretend to be less than what we actually are?

I, for one, hadn’t a clue what I was going to do with the rest of my life after the kids grew up. I didn’t want to hover over them, after all, you have them to send them out into the world. I loved my kids to pieces, and knew I was happiest with them. I couldn’t keep having kids because I didn’t have a life plan.

Making the decision to go to community college was the best thing I ever did. Having a lot of interests made it a little harder to decide what to do. I decided on Medical Secretary. I earned a certificate, but found a job at ConAgra. Lots of on the job training by observing a huge business working. It was amazing.

I took many business classes and was finally offered a programmer trainee position if I completed a certification program for a year. I would have been crazy not to do it. It launched me way further than I could have imagined.

By learning I had value, talents, abilities, I experienced a lot of growth as a person and in my career. I finally knew I did a good job. While I think kids may not need constant praise, I believe some is needed. Too many wounded adults are walking the earth. Many others don’t realize they are. We need to learn to accept our virtues and talents. Otherwise we can be overwhelmed by our faults. Those two sentences from Robert G. Coleman leapt of the page at me this morning. So many of us spend time tabulating our faults. We need to tally our virtues. Take some time doing that today. Do it every day. Be fair. You will discover your worth.

Self deprecation can be funny, we need to laugh at ourselves. Taken too far, it’s not good. It’s only recognizing part of ourselves. We need to recognize all that we are in order to become all we can. Don’t let your faults define you and your legacy. Start today. Appreciate yourself. And make it a habit.

Have a beautiful day. It’s lovely outside in the shade. Going to check the plants now. Be safe. See you tomorrow.

#963 and Counting.

Good Saturday evening, from the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. It’s been a long but great day.

Got my flowers panted in all their containers today and carried them to where they’ll live. Watered them after carrying to where they’ll stay. Lighter to carry. It was wonderful to be outside from about 8:30 a.m. until about 11:00 a.m., not a care in the world. No thought what time it was. No thought about having to hurry and go do an errand or meet someone. I could concentrate on whatever I wanted. Note to self: need to do that some more. It was great.

I neatly trimmed all the therapeutic sewing I did yesterday (the threads were terrible). I’ll probably press them tomorrow. This is how I need to approach getting stuff done daily. There is a certain grand feeling of accomplishment just doing a lot of little things and having them stack up to bigger things.

The Babe is home tomorrow, it will be the first time in a couple weeks he is. And Monday is Memorial Day at the Post. We will attend. The Babe has several ceremonies to attend with the Honor Guard. It’s all in a day with the VFW. Memorial Day is one of my favorites. The reason? We stop to thank the spirits of the heroes that went before us. We wouldn’t have such a peaceful life as we do if we weren’t free, thanks to them. I hope if the time comes in the future, there are people to step up and fight the good fight.

This newly minted 70-year-old woman is feeling every bit of her age right now. Lots of hard work I’m not used to; but it felt so good. Right now, I’m retiring to the couch with a good book to think about what we’ll do tomorrow. I hope you have a beautiful evening. 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!

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.

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!

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!

Put the Fun in Dysfunction!

I hope you’re laughing at this title. That’s the purpose of it. Poking fun at stuff that doesn’t work is a step in overcoming that stuff. After poking fun, I dissect it like the Science Class Frog to see who, what, when, why, and how. For a very long time, I pored over psychology books. I still prefer those some days. By now, I can pick out the crack-pots and can pooh-pooh the quackery. As I learned more about why people behave the way they do, I learned things about our families which amazed me.

Yes, I believe some men weren’t good fathers; when they didn’t have a good example shown them (many men had absent fathers, especially during the Depression), how can they know how to parent a child? Sixty years ago, the man was considered the provider, the breadwinner, the one who paid the bills. Women were the “heart” of the home, took solo care of the children, and had someone to take care of them. Most couples lived like this. Growing up, I only knew two kids whose parents were divorced. How brave they were! My best friend for several years lost her dad to heart disease when she was still in elementary school. I always felt badly for her.

Moms? Where do we start. Our grandmas were polar opposites. Mom’s mom worked outside the home, Dad’s mom took in ironing and worked at Grandpa’s Drugstore. She knew every kid in South Omaha. She was the kindest person. I want to be her! Hope I live 97 years to work on it, as she did. She was 97 when she died; she was 95 when my dad died at 64. I’ll never forget hearing her say, “This is the worst shock of my life!” Feeling helpless was all we could do. Every visit for the next two years, she’d ask, “Do you think my Tommy went to heaven?” Of course he did, Grandma. He’s waiting for you. Can you imagine that reunion?

Dad had a deep respect for women. He was a quintessential gentleman. I saw him flick his lighter and offer a lady a light for her cigarette. As a kid, you’d see that in a movie, and I thought it was pretty cool to see. He’d tip his hat (he wore a fedora, I loved it!), hold doors open, rise from his chair when a woman entered the room. He learned well, as did his two brothers. I miss that sense of genteel-ness in society. Now, genteel as I use it is strictly about good manners. Now it has been defined as something negative; a false sense and show of wealth, upper class living; or as Mom used to say, “Champagne taste on a beer budget.” Grandma Bobell had high hopes of being “high society.” Nope. Blue collar class all the way.

Our dad’s grandmother, Hannah Fitzgibbons Hurley came from Ireland. She was a countess or contessa I believe; a portrait of her showed her wearing a beautiful white (probably linen) dress, and wearing a headpiece with a feather. I believe that indicated her social class. I’ve heard she gave up her status upon marrying the commoner, Mr. Hurley. He, sadly, was an alcoholic (a mean one at that), and died young. Hannah had a houseful of children, and took a job scrubbing the marble floors in the Douglas County Courthouse, where she listened and learned about politics. She and Father Flanagan were friends, and I believe she cared for one wayward boy for him. Isn’t that a great story?

She was very strict, from what Dad said, and told stories of banshees that knocked their socks off. Gosh, I wish I could talk to him about that! She tended Dad and his siblings while Grandma Jewell worked the drugstore. She died in the late 1940s, I believe. None of her grandsons could attend the funeral as they were all away serving their country.

Mom’s side of the family had some interesting men as Great Grandfathers. Both men either left their families or died. I don’t know the real story. Grandma Riss took a job as a seamstress at Clarkson College of Nursing. She sewed nurses uniforms to earn money to feed her five children. She was a quiet little old lady who never said much. At least, that’s how I remember her. Grandma Bobell had only one son, Louis. I see her in our mom now. She lived a long life, but I don’t know that much about her. Grandma and Grandpa Bobell lived in a very small house and had 4 daughters. Grandma was a bookie, and loved to play the ponies. She was also a seamstress and a manipulator. She’d goad Grandpa and arguments would follow. Very dysfunctional.

I learned about Mom’s family and upbringing from my aunts. I’m glad to have this knowledge. It helps explain a lot to me about how they were raised. It helped me find my truth. It helped me identify as the one who is not passing the family traditions down. Other cousins have bravely stepped up, too. I can see it in each family. I’m proud of them for following what was in their hearts, too. I know it’s lonely to be the one who questions the status quo. But it’s ok. Better than following the herd when you’ve been gifted with the special understanding of how wrong it is to continue the madness.

This, my friends, is a Readers Digest version of the story of being uncomfortable with the status quo. It’s brief and is bourne out of love and empathy for the difficult lives those in our families had before us. The times of the Dust Bowl, the Depression, the migrant workers, and families torn apart by poverty and circumstance. People got by however they could. The wealth they had was in the love they gave and received if they could. Unhealthy coping was dominant. It’s hard being in this spot with this story to tell.

My characters are a patchwork of many different people, personalities, and problems. They’re not real people. They’re some of a writer’s imaginary friends. I’m planning their stories as we speak, and will share them with you in “The Saving of Katie Fitzgibbons.” Off to do some more plotting and planning. Have a beautiful day! See you tomorrow!