Back to Work Monday

Wow. Where’d the weekend go? It was enjoyable; the Babe and me, along with our furry friends, enjoying each other’s company, naps on demand, and reading as long as I wanted. I worked a little on the appliques for my granddaughter’s quilt. Although it’s a Christmas gift, I need to get moving on it. And, her brother is getting one, too. Busy quilting Grandma, for sure!

When we’re finished with this, we’re digging in and editing “Roxie! What Are You Doing?” I may need to change the title. I need to identify it as a grief book to properly present it. I need to delete the illustrations and place them again; this time without changing their size. I thought I could do that, but Jordan taught me why I can’t, we don’t want warped looking illustrations. It’s always something, isn’t it? I’m glad to learn as I go.

Much of what I learned as a Systems Analyst was on the job. I did have training, but it was more of a twelve month introduction to a lot of classes, one at a time, and OJT. The most important thing to learn was you’ll never know it all. Don’t be afraid to pull out the reference manuals, that’s what they’re there for. Memorize other things besides techno babble.

I look forward to getting started (finally!) and back to the story of Roxie and Gavin. Maybe that should be the title? What do you think? I cannot wait to have a reading at a bookstore, and invite my friends and cousins grandchildren. I’m picturing it and it will be true soon. During 2022. My year to become more. Grateful!

I read about half of the Enchantress of Numbers. It’s much better than I thought it would be. At this rate, I’ll finish in about 5 – 10 days, depending on unexpected interruptions. Enjoying the read.

Make your day a good one. A FB friend of mine talked about stopping behind a preschool bus of kids. They all waved to him. One little girl caught his eye and blew him a kiss. He’s so grateful! Just what we all need. The world does love We need to love it back. So much better than being negative. Try it on for size. You’ll end up smiling all day. Take care if you’re in a heatwave. Stay safe from all the viruses and pox making the rounds. We need to get through this summer together. Lots of great things ahead. See you tomorrow! Thanks for being here.

Fifth Step: Always Do Your Best.

Imagine my surprise this morning, as I turned to The Fourth Agreement of the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz: Always Do Your Best. We think we do, but we really don’t. My dad preached to all of us to do our best. Whatever we do, do it with every bit of our being; homework, building a science project, or as adults at work. Do it to the best of our ability. Why?

Ruiz says if we do our best, we live intensely. We’re more productive (I’m all for that!). You’ll be good to yourself as you give yourself to your family, friends, community and everyone else. It’s in the act you feel good. I can tell for myself, as I’ve rearranged my morning time spent, I’m creating more. I’m getting started on feeling accomplished. I’m getting things done. My stress is less. Yes, I can see the future I’ve been working so hard at for the past few years.

Most people have jobs instead of careers. They are miserable and can’t wait for whenever payday is, welcome the weekend with open arms, and dread Monday morning. During my single mom years, I suppose I was a bit of a workaholic. I’d work for the OT on Saturday mornings. My kids were old enough to stay alone, watch cartoons, and pour milk on their own cereal, while I worked 4 hours from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Once home, we’d start on cleaning, laundry, doing yard work, etc. I miss the energy but not the stress that came with it.

Yes, many people misuse those two days called the weekend. Chances are, deep down, we’re unhappy. The work is dull and boring but we need the benefits. When you’re unhappy, you try to escape; into more work, going to the bar, and the rest of the story isn’t pretty. Sure, I visited drinking establishments; I had to see what the hype was all about. It took about a year for the luster to wear off. I quit going out, looked forward to staying home with the kids on Friday nights, doing laundry, and being grateful.

Once we accept ourselves, learning from each mistake, we develop stronger personalities. We learn to stand up for ourselves. Things don’t bother us. We can say with total honesty of our word, “I did my best.” I can tell you, living a life with chronic pain and disability since 1995, many days, my best is disappointing. No one but me is judging, but I’m learning to know it’s nothing I’m doing on purpose, it’s simply the hand I was dealt at age 43. Yes I’m used to it; I know what to expect. About every five years, I become significantly worse. Part of it is aging, a lot of it is my condition. I remain grateful to God I can still walk, drive, see, and create beauty for my world.

Further, Ruiz tells us when we enjoy what we’re doing, it isn’t work, you’re doing it because you want to, not because you’re forced to do it. Sure, there are minor things required of us to live in society, living with others, we just do them. Laundry, cleaning, mowing the yard, they’re must do’s to live in a neighborhood with others. I consider them to be necessary evils. I thank God I have many nice clothes, a nice home, and we can see what we’ve worked for. The Babe helps a lot. It’s how his mom raised him. Thanks, Liz!

When we are in the process of action, we are living. We are experiencing living fully. Inaction is siting on the couch watching TV. Sure, I succumb to it now an then, but then realize how fruitless that is. I enjoy a good Netflix binge just as much as the next person. I just don’t allow it all day, every day. I can’t. If I would, I may as well cancel my website, my blog, my works in progress, give away all my fabric, art supplies . . .

Ruiz also says when you live, keep your word, never assume, don’t take anything personally, and do your best, your life will be happier, fuller, and reach further into the universe. Who could hope for more than that? What a great way to live.

Last summer, while our friend Lenny was experiencing declining health, I came upon the company, “Live a Great Story.” I have lots of their stickers, magnets, and shirts. It’s a motto I love, and it’s one that makes me remember Lenny. He was generous to a fault, and kept it hidden. He was somewhat of a curmudgeon until he saw a little kid. Then he lit up. At his funeral, I learned what a generous man he was. He lived a great story, that’s for sure. Dang, we miss you, Lenny. It’s so quiet at our table on Wednesday nights.

These four agreements are staying in a handy place. I will refer to this book often. It will certainly help me putting my kid book out and returning to my novel. I have grown to love my life, despite it’s areas of loss. We were not prepared how to live life older, less agile, and less energy. You cannot make a machine out of the human body, to defy it’s limits – whether the limits are age, accident, illness, disability.

We can conquer doubt and fear by learning to take risks – putting your art out there, your written word, your quilts, your creations. It is possible, and probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Art heals. Quilting heals. Writing heals. I believe it’s my purpose now. Write and help others heal.

My schedule is changed for today. The Babe called to meet for lunch. I’d adjust. It’s what you do when there are two of you. Someday, one of us will not be here. We need to enjoy each other now. No regrets. Have a beautiful afternoon, we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Dad with Grandpa Jewell. Had to have been after WWII.

Tuesday Thoughts

It is another beautiful but overcast day here at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Did some picking up around the house, and it looks great. Our efforts, slow but sure, are showing a huge difference. I’m loving cooking with Hello Fresh! This is a caramelized onion beef meatloaf, with roasted zucchini and carrots. Fabulous! I didn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night. It’s so fun doing something different and learning a different way to cook. We’re taking a couple weeks off of home delivery; we have some meat in the freezer we need to use up. Then I’ll sample some other companies and make a permanent decision which one to use, or use several and alternate.

We had a shock yesterday at a local restaurant. We have been customers for over six years. Gretna doesn’t have many places to eat that are not fast food. We love their Monster BLT. It had been a while, so we both ordered one. When the Babe looked at the bill, he about fell out of his chair.

It was $20 apiece for each of us, a Diet Coke, and Sandwich. There are new taxes at the Elkhorn area restaurant, and they now have Omaha taxes added on, along with the increase of food prices. We decided right then and there, it was not what we wanted to pay for a BLT, fries, and a Coke. It’s a shame, we spent a lot of other money there, with the Babe playing KENO.

I feel so sorry for the people who have no spare funds to keep up with the economy doing what it’s doing now. A couple we know with five kids both have Door Dash type jobs, delivering food. The rising gas prices cancel out the money they earn. It’s sad. I remember those days. It’s a shame we’ve finally reached the age where money doesn’t matter as much as it did when we were younger. As I said, I remember what it was like to be young and nearly broke.

The Babe and I have decided to cut way back on some of our volunteering. We are still figuring out what that looks like. There will be an interim period of teaching others what we do, and then back out and build yet another part of our lives. The Babe enjoys woodworking and will learn how to do many more cool things. We’re excited at the prospect. These quilts will finally get made. The painting finally becoming a reality, and the books will fly out of the Chromebook. See, Mom always said I had a vivid imagination. It comes in handy!

All morning, I’ve had on “Boomer Radio,” a local oldies station. They play lots of other music than one oldies station, who plays about the same list as when I worked in the 80s and we could have a small radio in our cubicles. I swear, it it’s 10:00 a.m., they’ll play “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” This morning, I’ve heard Frankie Valli, and the fantastic Stevie Wonder. I used to work with his Sax player after he quit the music business. It’s quite a story. He was such support to me while my dad was dying.

Well, here it is, time to do something I haven’t done in a very long time. Iron! Yes, well, I have the Babe’s Superhero shirt to iron, and the new blouses I bought that are too wrinkled to wear, and the beautiful quilt block rows I need to “press.” Bet you might not know but pressing can distort the fabric. I like to use steam to really set the seams in. Some folks may not like that, but I do.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, share a smile with someone. A clerk or waiter, a gas station attendant or hospital worker. Let them know they’re appreciated. See you tomorrow!

I Love What Carol Gino Shares About Writing from Her Time With the Great Mario Puzo!

Wacky Wednesday/Trying Thursday

Sometimes, it seems as if bad things pile up and avalanche all over you. They’re overwhelming all over the floor, surrounding you. You cannot pick which one to deal with first. You really don’t want to deal with any of it, but you must. The humanness in all of us wants to avoid anything that’s bad. For us, these things are nothing abnormal for folks of a certain age. The Babe and I both graduated from high school 50+ years ago. It only makes sense. We are losing friends from our circles of friends and families. Too many. Too soon.

Do I want to deal with the losses (still) of life? The extreme illnesses around us; or the demands of senior members of the tribe? Pick one. The losses will not stop soon. They are as much a part of life as births are. The illnesses? They are also part of the fabric of life. A senior member of the tribe who has commanded their whole life will not stop just because they’re aging. They may be more demanding than ever. What’s a person to do?

More and more, I read, “Take care of yourself first.” Easier said than done, but true. It may be why after yet another round with a certain gasoline credit card company’s new bank for credit card accounts, I have a glass of white wine on the table next to me.

My physical was fine today. That’s always a positive. I usually have normal levels, bloodwork, etc. and am always grateful for that. Come to think of it, just because a lot of things around us are truly dire, it doesn’t mean everything is going to the dogs. Sometimes, a little gratitude opens the door for many, many blessings to be recounted, and your view of life isn’t so skewed. It helps. Reframing helps everything.

My apologies for being brief, it’s been a crazy couple of days again. Take care out there. See you tomorrow.

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!

Which Would You Want?

We’ve had such a nice day with Gavin. We had lunch with him, he came home with us and played with the dogs until it was time to go to his basketball game at 4 p.m. Gavin asks a million “would you rather” questions. Choices between a million dollars and your family, between immortality and love of your family, between being famous and having your puppy. Things relating to family, love, and kindness are important to Gavin.

He is a little too polite on the basketball court and is gaining confidence in his abilities at the sport. I believe his true love is still baseball. Preliminary practice for spring ball reveals Gavin is hitting the ball much better than last year; the glasses must have done the trick. Getting his confidence back is huge.

It was fun seeing these young fourth graders play basketball. There were some really scrappy boys who weren’t afraid to elbow their way to the ball, even falling to the floor while holding on. It was interesting watching the boys react to directions from their dads on the sidelines. Sometimes the Dad sounded upset, sometimes the boy seemed embarrassed. It was a time for families today, and we certainly enjoyed the time. People should have a nearly ten-year-old with them to help them remember what’s important in life.

Almost time for Gavin to be picked up, it’s time to make sure he has all his things collected. Tomorrow will be another sunny day, another day for working on getting more organized. Let’s plan to see each other tomorrow. Be safe out there.

Strengths v. Weaknesses

There was always that inevitable question in a job interview; “nesses,What are your strengths/weaknesses?” I never liked that one. Do they still even ask such a question? There is an age-old phrase; “Tell me your strengths and I’ll tell you your weaknesses.” For every plus, there is negative, it’s the balance of life.

Some folks are highly intelligent and seek to resolve their problems quickly. Quick fixes usually work for them. Until the frustration sets in. Deep down, weaknesses crash again with quick fixes. Quick fixes do not last for personal development of kicking bad habits or addictions. Highly intelligent people look down on those of us who may not get it the first time. They judge us as not too bright, lesser than they are, and their arrogance appears with their impatience.

What these folks need to realize is wisdom differs from intelligence. A lesser educated person can out perform someone with common sense. A person who has low self-esteem can show more empathy and kindness than a braggart can buy. It’s not for sale. It comes from within.

Remember, there are two sides to the coin. Denial is a wily devil. The parable of a man pointing out other’s injuries while failing to see a splinter in his own eye is a classic. It’s just easier to point out what the others are doing wrong than admit to our own defects. It’s also called being human. Before we call someone else out on their problems, it’s better to know our own first and be working on them.

What about yourself do you want to change? Is it a weakness? Do you readily admit to it or hide it in the corner, hoping it keeps quiet? Do you talk out loud about it? Are you working on flipping the coin, turning a weakness into a strength? Make it worth your time, become a stronger, better person.

While searching Pexels for a photo depicting strength, I find it ironic there are none showing anything to do with inner strength. They all have to do with physical strength. I chose the photo about waking and working out to hint about waking and doing the reading, meditating, or contemplating what you can do to conquer your weaknesses. I hope it’s to the point for you.

I have a to do list a mile long today. Meeting tomorrow about communication, and I need to outline the agenda, talking points, and executive summary. Hoping I can get back to the business of writing next week. Have a beautiful day – we’re hunkering down today, it’s going to be a cold, blustery day. See you tomorrow!

Thursday Things

It is currently a whopping zero degrees at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Wow. That’s not the wind chill factor, it’s the actual temp. I’m sure the wind chill would be much colder. Great day to sit, watching Rachael Ray while letting Lexie sit with me while I decide what we’ll do today. It’s the best part of each brand new day. Full of potential. Chock full of possibilities. Ways to make progress. A blank slate, so to speak.

We had a wildly successful Hamburger Night last night at the VFW. It amazes me how many people will brave the cold to get out and join us for a meal. It’s hard to know how many to plan for on days like yesterday. Luckily, there is a full service grocery store across the street, so if we need, there are more fresh beginnings available to create more meals. We were blessed with two families celebrating birthdays last night, and it’s always nice to see the whole family come out. I always think about how loved those families must be. It’s a nice thought.

Our family lives so far away from each other, it’s difficult, at best to get them together for anything. I hope that changes over the next few years. We all get caught up in our own lives and activities and sometimes we forget about those who love us from afar. Hoping we all get our loved ones contacted to share our love with them. Life is too fragile to let it slide. A friend can be gone before we know it. Keep them close. Talk often.

I’m hoping the Babe and I assemble our new bookcases this weekend. They’re about 47 inches high, and 36 inches wide. Three shelves. One will go in the bedroom, one in the Babe’s office. One will be all my books about creating and writing. I have run out of room in my office, and need to get more organized. A part of having several creative hobbies is keeping everything orderly. That’s another area I need to make progress this year. I will be able to access whatever I need for any hobby when it is orderly. It will become a way of life the more I practice. It will be lifelong orderly, as I used to be.

And of course, the time wasted looking through several piles of books randomly placed about the house will be used for creating. I look forward to it! I’m getting started by vacuuming and dusting the bedroom and living room, and finishing cleaning the wood floor in the kitchen. It’s amazing with all the Swiffer products that exist, that the item I like best for cleaning the wood floors is a plain old broom. Nothing sexy about it, and not dashing about like a choreographer.

Have a beautiful day, wherever you are. This day will be what you make it. Make it a good one! Let’s see each other tomorrow. Be safe out there.

Suddenly Saturday Again!

There is a lot going on here at the Home Office at Raabe Ranch. I need to make a list about making a list, and categorizing everything we need to do in the next week. Not only are there blogs to write, I vow to begin again on my novel, The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.

I know the story will come back to me, after all, I lived with it the whole time I learned to craft the chapters, scenes, character development, and all sorts of things. Sam Tyler is not only my friend, but I hired her last summer and fall as my book coach. She does a marvelous job. I learned so much from her about good writing. She is tough, but very respectful about it. She won’t dash your hopes; to the contrary, she will encourage them along with your confidence. It’s worth the fee. We met at a Nebraska Writers Guild Conference over a year ago. That was before COVID. Here is her contact info if you would like to learn more about her. After an intense summer and fall of hard work, I took one month off (December) and somehow it extended into January, 2021. That’s OK.

I have a 2 p.m. Masterclass today about “The Build a Better Brand Method.” I need to update my “About Me” information. It’s necessary to build a community and a following. I’ve experimented with Tags and Categories, and since I started to blog about being on the Keto Diet, I’ve gained a lot of followers just on that point alone. Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure. I have nearly 300 followers for the blog alone. I’m happy with that, since I started at zero nearly two years ago.

Any part of life is dynamic, you never reach a static existence except maybe in death. Nothing happens much after that on this earth. We must change with the times about some things. Communication, actions, networking. All of the brand building is simply 2021 talk for marketing. So there we go. No one talks marketing any more, although that is what we do. I’m interested in finding out how to do that. Since I’m an Indie Author, I need to learn about all of these things. I would learn about them even if I had an agent and a publishing company interested in me. I may look one once I publish a couple books on my own, but I do enjoy this whole process.

The future is ahead of all of us. From this point on, I believe I can pick and choose where this career will take me. The opportunities are about the best they’ve ever been, and the authors I’ve met are all generous people who seem to genuinely want to help each other. Many creatives are like this. They are particular about their circle of people, and will help in any way they can. It amazes me.

How are you spending your present and your future? Are you thrilled to wake every day and do something you love? I’m there, and it’s just too bad I can’t be at a desk, sewing machine, or an easel for longer periods of time. I’d probably be a creating machine! It’s ok, we all can only do what wee do. At any moment, a person my age could have a stroke or another medical mishap and not be able to create anymore. That would seriously hurt me no end. I’m praying for good health and longevity together. Hope springs eternal.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading today. I hope it’s a beautiful day for you. Be kind, be safe, be on the lookout. Help someone out. See you tomorrow!