Goodreads 2022 Challenge.

Many folks belong to this Challenge, and I find it kind of fun. I’m not sure if I’ve ever reached my goal or not, but I’m close this year. I’m searching Raabe Ranch for all my half read books, the ones I’m just not into, don’t care much about, or just got interested in something else before finishing. Call me fickle, but I do have a pile of books I’ve classified as “reading.” Some things have to age, you know?

Kind of like the fifteen year quilt kit I’m finally working on; kind of like all the small kits I bought to make sequin appliqued Christmas stockings for the Babe, me, and all the dogs we’ve had; and yes, like all the yarn, fabric, embroidery projects, yet to be done. Where there is breath, there is hope. Yes, there is.

I only projected I’d read 24 books this year. Two a month seemed reasonable. What have I read?

It Ends With Us, Ugly Love, My Life With Karma, Bird by Bird, 30 Red Dresses, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Walk Me Home, Ticker Tape, Where the Crawdads Sing, Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues, Enchantress of Numbers, Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service, Vacuuming in the Nude: And Other Ways to Get Attention, The Gown, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, November 9, More Busting Bad Guys: True Crime Stories of Cocaine, Cockfights, and Cold-Blooded Killers, The Granddaughters, Your Story is Your Power, The Price of Admission: Embracing a Life of Grief and Joy, and The Soldier’s Guide to PTSD: A No Sh*t Guide to Reclaiming Your Life.

The PTSD one is something I found on Kindle. It caught my eye when looking at books about PTSD for my Peer Support Training Class, which ended December 2. After 60 hours of training, Mark and Will and I are Peer Support Specialists. It’s inspiring and intimidating at the same time. God will guide us through this, and I feel good about the connections we’ve made. A new way to start 2023, with the PSS designation after my name.

After learning about Veterans Issues in a short course, I’m intrigued by many subjects related to what we’ve studied. It probably wouldn’t look too good right now, looking at the books I’m browsing and looking at; Suicide, Veteran Suicide, PTSD, Military Families, and many others. I want to help. If the Babe and I can do it together, so be it. We will be engaging with people from Moving Veterans Forward and 50 Mile March on a regular basis, and Guitars for Vets, too.

We’ve ended our volunteer work at VFW Post 2503. The Babe is training his successor at Quartermaster. We want to work closer to the Veterans themselves, and have found a way to do it. 2023 will be a wonderful, fulfilling year.

What are you reading now? Do you keep track of how many books you read every year? Do you keep track of the titles to avoid repeating them?

Through Our Effort

Great things are available, courtesy of our creator. The way is there but we need to work. One stream of thought is God will do everything for us, we need to nothing. Just by asking, we only have to ask for what we want, then sit back, it will come to us.

The opposite idea is it doesn’t matter if God exists or not, we must make the good happen for ourselves. We create the fruit of our hard work, and we alone are responsible for it. It’s all on us. The more balanced belief is there is a God who helps us by placing tools within our reach and we are to do the work to open the door and find the gifts.

Leonardo da Vinci is quoted as saying:

“Oh Lord, thou givest us everything, at the price of an effort.”

da Vinci was perhaps one of the most talented artists of all time; it must be remembered he worked eighteen hour days quite often to create his masterpieces. We are all blessed with talents beyond what others have. Where one person can use words, another mathematics, another medicine, and another kindness, we all, in our respected fields, work using our talents, gifts, and resources, we will each complete our own masterpieces.

I’m excited about continuing with my masterpiece, how about you and yours? Keep working, and you’ll see lots of opportunities coming your way. Have a nice evening, and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Give and Take

I found another reading today which set me to thinking.

“Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.”

Melvin Schleeds is credited with saying that. I have no idea who that was, because he isn’t listed in Wikipedia. Despite that, I believe I need to give him credit, just the way it was listed in the book I’m using.

There was a lot of depth in the article, is focusing on our attitude about both. Giving should be necessary to being human. Taking is also necessary. I prefer the word receiving over taking, especially when coupled with giving; Giving and Receiving are each an integral part of being human. We all give and we all receive from our world order.

Every act of goodness, resisting the temptation to be selfish, and the attitude of doing our part are important. By living this way, we are doing the world good. By taking what others offer, food, clothing (even though we are purchasing it) is also doing the world good. We need to be grateful for what we receive, no matter how we do it.

By knowing the balance between giving and taking (receiving), we show an understanding of how important we all are. We should be proud of contributing, and proud of receiving. That is how we pass things along.

Reading the book, Grateful American, by Gary Sinise, has made me realize every American should be a grateful one. He beautifully described how he felt visiting patients who lost all four limbs via IED’s in Iraq or Afghanistan; he shares the feelings he has every year when the Lt. Dan Band performs for the Snowball Express, the charity that takes the surviving children of parents who died fighting for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every year, at a certain point in the concert, he invites the children up onstage to dance and interact with the band. It helps brighten their day in the happiest place on earth. I learned a lot from this book. I also want to learn how we in Omaha, Nebraska may brighten the day of these surviving children and their families. As Mr. Sinise says, “There is so much more we can do.” He’s right. I’m on it.

I have a feeling this winter will be quite productive for me as an author. The annual NaNoRiMo is in November. I dropped out last year, I was on point the first week, the second week, life interfered and I decided it would be too stressful to try and catch up. I hope this year, I’m able to participate and get much further with my novel. It will be a good use of my time.

I hope the fall is for enjoying the colors, and the leaves fall slowly, not in a windy, cold rainy day like last year. I’ll take what I get, though, and just be glad to live in this free country, with the best military in the world. My hat is off to all the active duty and people who have served in some capacity. Thank you all.

I will see you all tomorrow, and I hope you’ll return. We’re getting more followers, one at a time! I’m grateful for all of you. Let’s get the numbers up to #1,000! Thank you very much! See you tomorrow!

Grateful American

I started reading Gary Sinise’s book, “Grateful American,” and it is wonderful. He tells us about his life from childhood to adulthood, highlighting the creation of Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. Curious, now I’ve purchased a book Sinise mentions about Steppenwolf, which he himself has never read. Interestingly enough, the copyright date is 1927, 95 years ago, and two years older than my mother is. The notes from the author are dated 1961 when I was nine years old. Regardless of the age of the publication, I’m thinking a spiritual journey to find yourself hasn’t changed in nearly a hundred years.

Sometimes, I seem to go from one book to another, based on a blurb, a review, or just a FB post from another author. My curiosity is piqued frequently, and it seems as if the more I write, the more I read. Months ago, I pre-ordered Peggy Rowe’s book, “Vacuuming in the Nude,” for when I need a laugh. All sorts of books for all sorts of moods.

I also watch movies and tv dramas with a different eye than before. I focus on how the story is constructed. That is a different way than most of us consume movies and television. We’re entertained, distracted from real life, and pass time until something better comes along.

I am gaining more respect for Gary Sinise than I had before. I admire what he does for veterans, and know he will continue his important work. He does it for the results, the help he gives to our heroes, not for publicity or adulation. He is working constantly to gather resources to use in a good way for veterans. They are so deserving.

It’s been a long day with Mom and I need to decompress. Tomorrow will be a glorious day at home! I’ll get some writing done in the morning and some working on prepping quilt blocks the rest of the day. I’m loving my free time and am still discovering how to use it. Hope you have a beautiful evening and we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Superb Sunday 4/24/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday Factors

What a busy day today! I’ve mentioned before I’m engrossed in the true life story, “Ordinary on Purpose,” by Mikala Albertson, M.D. She went through med school at UNMC in Omaha. She describes the neighborhood. I can easily identify where she may have lived. I find it fascinating. What a sad story. Her husband and her were both were both in medical school, they had two children, and her husband was an alcoholic and drug abuser. She kept it quiet. She didn’t want to reveal her less than perfect life. How sad.

I am doing a lot of reflecting about this book. It is a lot of truth coming down on me all at once. I marvel at what we women will tolerate in our relationships. It is almost unreal. I have read half of it. May make some headway tonight. Tomorrow morning, the Babe and I will go to the Post to ready the tables for dinner. It is an annual event, with about 60 people attending. We are grateful for the volunteers who help. We’re not able to do the heavy work, moving tables, cooking, serving, and cleanup. Thank goodness for helpers!

I created some gift bags for the wives of the Honor Guard members. Every year, the wife of the Captain does this. I have about 40 bags, with a variety of small items, including two York Peppermint Patties wrapped in Easter colors. It’s an array of things, kitchen towels, a small succulent plant, and others. Just a thank you for the patience and sharing your partner with the Honor Guard. It is an honor to see what these volunteers do in bad weather, heat and cold, wind and rain, to lay their comrades to rest. Everyone should attend a service once. It is impressive.

While I have alcoholics in the family along with a drug user who is now clean and sober, I can tell you it is very frightening to think of what may have happened to them. There were many years we weren’t sure where they were or what they were doing. Frightening indeed.

During that time, I did not want my kids around this person. I was afraid they would pick up the habit. Thank God they didn’t. It was the time of Nancy Reagan and “Just Say No!” I’ve always been the rule follower, the one who didn’t rock the boat. Drugs had no place in my life. While everyone dabbled in the 70s, my then husband and I did not. I didn’t even drink any alcohol until I got divorced at age 29.

The world is full of things that are no good for you, your body, your soul, your mind. Learn to work through your problems, not adopt a crutch to get by. Most addicts tell themselves they can quit any time. They are in full control. Don’t buy it.

I’m grateful to have the curse skip me. I believe it’s skipped my kids, too. It has not been that kind to others in the family. There is so much to learn about families, addiction, and who may inherit the genes of addiction. Learn, read, and make good decisions. Let’s see each other tomorrow. Take care.

Never Give Up!

If you know me at all, you know how I love to read books to children. I read to all my kids, and they all enjoyed it. They were used to my changing voices for characters and such things. The first time I read to Gavin and changed voices, he was on my lap. He turned slowly and looked at me; wish I knew what he was thinking. I miss having a little one on my lap and reading aloud to them. I may volunteer at the library someday or as a teachers aide, (when I run out of things to do).

I am thinking of getting copies of some of my favorite kid books and making videos of me reading them. Maybe they could be Podcasts or on You Tube. If kids might calm down and listen while Mom or Dad lets them listen/watch, it might become a thing. You know? I’d have to read just a couple pages of mine, though, because the idea is to sell my books, not read them for free. Thoughts?

I was down in the dumps about “Roxie! WHAT Are You Doing?” last night, and actually told the babe, “Maybe I should just quit.” That is not like me. His response was perfect. “You have too much invested to do that. See it through.” Just what my dad always told me. See things through. True to an Irish proverb; 

“A Good Laugh and a Long Night’s Sleep are the Two Best Cures For Anything.”

And in the world of wonders, I mentioned looking for another illustrator, and a creative group I’m in on Facebook suggested posting my needs in the group. And, voila! (Do people still say that?) I’m doing a Zoom meeting with a fellow group member next week, one day. The Universe truly provides for we who believe! Yes, the Long Night’s Sleep did it’s magic. I have always believed that down to my bones! Thanks, Babe.

All a person needs is a glimmer of hope. And sometimes, you have to look for it. You have to risk asking to find it. There is hope for all creators, it’s part of being what I call a creative soul. Hope and light and love follow. We’re all capable of it, and it takes commitment. Making it means sticking with it when you feel like giving up. So last night was just a fleeting thought, and totally normal. It’s good to know we’re normal sometimes and it’s all part of the process.

Getting Back to Work!

Wow, my weather app on the phone just told me it was going to start raining in Gretna in six minutes. I didn’t know it could be so precise! Of course, the dogs went to find cover. Goldie right by me, Lexie, in our dark closet. I hope it lets up at the the time Addison is leaving school. It should, and it’s supposed to have a fall-like cool off. Looking forward to opening the windows again!

Enjoy the rest of your day. And if you’re feeling down and doubting yourself, just take a very long sleep. It will all look better in the morning. Trust me. It works. 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!

Labor Day

Today used to be the final day for wearing white clothes and shoes for the summer. That “rule” is now passe. So is the convention that summer is over after this day. This may be true, but it might as well be over. School is in full force, and fall activities, such as football, are going all over the place. Time just passes quickly, doesn’t it?

We had a quiet weekend, but it was a good one, ending with dinner with our daughter Tracy, TJ, and Gavin. It’s good to see them after a busy summer. We usually don’t get together much with them, they’re so busy now with all the activities.

I spent a lot of today catching up on updating the Post website. I didn’t get finished, but made a dent in the to-do-list. Tomorrow it should be caught up. I also made some decisions which day(s) I’ll work on my Chapter to submit to the Nebraska Writers Guild Anthology this year. It’ll be great to press the “send” button on Friday. It’s due Saturday, but I’m sure I’ll submit it a day early.

I’m taking a “Learn Facebook Ads” series of classes Thursday and Friday. I’m eager to learn how the Ads work and if either my Author/LLC pages or the VFW page can take advantage of the information. And it never hurts to spend the time learning something new.

As the weekend ends and we’re already one day into the week, make it a good one. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Start small, then go big or go home! You’ll be happy you did. I wouldn’t be writing my over 700 + blog! I’ve got over 350 followers, and I’m proud of that. Thanks for being here every day. I appreciate it. See you, tomorrow.

Humid, Dreary Sunday

We are so proud of our Granddaughter Addison. She went to Nationals for KAR Dance Competition. She represented Accapricio Dance Studio in Papillion. So far, she has earned two first place awards. She is so good. Still limited with the photos I can share between my phone and here (read my lips – NONE) so I’ll share a photo of her later. We are so lucky to have good, healthy, handsome grandkids. They are learning to make good choices for their lives. The best blessing will be they all continue on the paths they are on.

One in a while, the humidity is so high in Nebraska, the outside windows are covered with humidity. They closely resemble the windshield of your car before you turn the wipers on. Why don’t they invent wipers for your home windows? If you live in the South, I bet that may be appreciated. Does this condensation appear frequently on your homes, too? Remember folks, you heard it here first! It’s MY idea, regardless of what anyone says!

A morning like this reminds me of when our family didn’t have air conditioning. It’s rough. On Sunday mornings, we’d walk home from the Children’s Mass at Church, and change into nice play clothes to go visit our Grandma’s. Every Sunday. Grandma and Grandpa Bobell had Central Air, and it was heavenly to be in their house. Grandma Jewell did not, but she had a beautiful huge enclosed porch. She opened all the combination windows, and we’d sit in her wicker furniture and enjoy the breeze that always graced her porch. It was heavenly. She also had a porch swing. Always. It was wonderful, too. Even on days like this, she always baked something for when we would visit on Sunday. I can still smell the baked goods when I drive past her old home.

Yesterday, I thought I’d get a second blog written. No, it just didn’t happen. What I did accomplish was divide up all my papers printed from my online classes, patterns, and writing hints. Our information for the volunteering is included, as is directions on the Painting of the Month Club I joined online. For $10 a month, we get lifetime access to all the POMC Paintings. When I have time, there it will be waiting. After my first book is published, thank you very much.

The mass of papers from my first novel of 80K words is now in a series of folders and tucked away in a drawer. My completed chapters of “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons” is ready to go into a binder. Before I start on it again on August 2, I’ll read each chapter and be able to pick up where I left off. By that time, I hope to create the new habit of writing two or three blogs every other day. Then I could write nothing but the novel on the alternate days. And I still want one day to sew on a quilt. I haven’t touched my sewing machine for a year. Oh my!

Yes, there are 24 hours in my day. With my back issues, I can only sit, stand, walk, type, or sew only so many hours. More that two or three is encroaching on setting off a lot of pain that takes days to recover from. And yet, I find blessings in the fact I can do anything at all. Life teaches us many lessons along the way. I decided to use the time wisely as long as I can. I believe things do fall into place if we listen to the signs along the way. They are present. You must be, too. Not on your phone. Not absorbed in Mindless TV. Awareness is critical. Learning to read the signs is too. The Five Man Electrical Band of the 70s recorded this hippie song. It was huge at the time, and I can tell you, restrictive signs regarding personal appearance still lingers. “No Shirt, No Shoes, NO SERVICE,” is one I agree with. I don’t want to see some man (or woman’s) hairy armpits while I’m eating. Thank you very much.

The best example I can think of in my life was before I filed for divorce. The Catholic Church had a series of lectures on a Friday night titled, “Women in Transition.” I knew I was terribly unhappy and wanted to divorce. I also knew I hadn’t worked outside the home since I was nineteen. I was nearing thirty and wanted to prepare myself. Every Friday night, a friend of mine and I, met and listened to the speaker. In 1981, she said the best field you could enter is Computers. They were the wave of the future.

Within five years, I was offered free classes at a computer school, paid for by our HR Department where I worked. I became a Programmer Trainee in 1987, then spent nearly fifteen years working in Software and System Analysis. I believed God led me to all of it. If I had ignored the lecture announcement, I may have never started this journey.

Think about the signs you may have in your life. Afraid to make a change? Look for support in unusual places. I’ve often thought how ironic it was, since the Catholic Church was so against divorce, that my sign came from a “Catholic Voice,” which is a Catholic Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Omaha. Since 1982, I believe the “You must stay together until you die,” has been relaxed. People make mistakes. Some people are exposed to domestic violence. Kids are not better off if their kids hear nothing but arguing constantly.

Whatever else you do today, make some “YOU” time. It’s a perfect day to read. After that second blog, I’m headed to do just that. It will be a hectic week next week, getting everything finished for the Fundraiser at the Post next weekend. It will be worth it. Two Veterans groups, Moving Veterans Forward, and Guitars for Vets, will receive the proceeds. Do something nice for someone today, too. The world will be a better place for it. See you tomorrow!