A Do-Over Kinda Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Truth Is the Truth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life is Not War . . .

And people are not the enemy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Effort and Outcomes

Happy Friday evening! The Babe and I are watching the Nebraska Rutgers game, who knows where that will take us? It was a good day, I worked on the quilt again, and made quite a bit of progress. It’s amazing how good rest and a new day make the work lighter. It’s the universe telling me to take a time out. You’d think I’d pay better attention. It’s ok, we’re still human here on earth, and we’re learning.

My effort was much better today, and so was my outcome. I would think if you could teach children (even little ones) they need to work to make progress. Work may be practicing dance, pitching, hitting, fielding, gymnastics, music, voice, acting, painting, crafting, writing, whatever. Put effort out, you will see improvement, progress, and your work will seem easier. It makes all the difference in the world.

The daily meditation book I use had a good one yesterday; I’m responsible for my effort, not the outcome. No matter how much we think the outcome is guaranteed if we try a little harder, the truth is, we don’t have that kind of control. Not fair? No one ever said life was.

Matthew McConaughey has videos on Facebook, and probably Instagram, Twitter, whatever. He speaks to life not being fair. He has some very good, sensible sounding talks. They are for graduations, his book “Greenlights,” and other topics. They are common sense, American ideals, and make me stop and think.

I love when younger people can make me think. You should, too. You should love when older people make you think. Our families are now scattered across the country, and it’s not convenient for families to travel back and forth enough to feel as close as if you lived in the same city, state, region. Even those of us in the same state as kids/grandkids don’t get to see them as often as we could before. Most of the bonding among people now happens at sports fields, practice gyms, dance studios, YMCA’s, and such. Last summer, we came to recognize other Grandmas & Grandpas at the baseball fields in town and on the road.

Back to effort and outcomes. In an ideal world, our effort would equal a great result. The outcome often can be affected by outside things we cannot control. For instance, my quilt. I was on a roll, until I discovered the manufacturer didn’t include ten squares of a certain fabric. I could not follow the directions and have a good outcome. Luckily, I had something that would work as a substitute. Crisis averted. Until the next one pops up.

Of course, the meditation book defines effort as following the programs, be it for Adult Children of Alcoholics or Al-Anon, or even AA itself. That is all on your plate. The effort is what matters. You can’t control if your child won’t give up his bad-news friends, or your husband won’t come home from work immediately, or your brother won’t stop drinking even though you are helping him manage stressful things until he gets back on track. They may all have to learn the hard way. The hardest thing is staying in your lane. You have to watch that child do bad things, your husband spend time and money on another interest, and your brother lose everything if that’s what it takes. You cannot save them.

In trying to save them, you can lose yourself. Your mental health is at risk. As you watch them decline, lose their faculties, basic living skills, and any self-respect you thought they had, it’s heartbreaking. I’ve had to learn more than once, I cannot care more about them getting better than they do. I cannot do more to help them than they do to help themselves. The work is theirs. Not mine. Watching co-dependent behavior all your life is what you mimic as an adult.

One of my son’s had a little kindergarten friend who lived across the alley from us. When they played house, the little girl, (who’s dad was a very bad alcoholic), would go into great explanations about, “you didn’t come home from work, so I’ll be mad, and go to the movies with a friend. When I get home, you’ll be mad, and we’ll fight.” I was so sad to hear those words, as what she thinks married life is like. But it’s all she’d seen. I wonder sometimes what ever became of her, and if she had a good life, one better than her family did. Most kids in that situation don’t. There is always hope, though.

It’s nearly for the second half to begin, so we’ll part for now. Make sure you check back tomorrow, we’ll see what’s going on in the universe then. Make sure you put your best effort, and you’ll get better results. Put your mind in it’s right place, and know what is your responsibility. And what isn’t. Be safe out there.

Talk Doesn’t Cook Rice

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Smartest Word We Can Say

Are “Help Me!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Create Our Own Nightmares.

Sometimes, that’s the cold, hard truth. We all want our own way. It doesn’t matter if we’re a cranky toddler, an angst-filled teenager, a broken-hearted mid-lifer, an elder of the tribe, or an angry nonagenarian. We all have our moments.

We think we know everything at those moments. How others need to respond to us, the situation, who should do what, how they should do it, and of the result will be exactly what we think it should be. How could it fail? Let me count the ways, my dear.

We think our power is greater than it is; we’re not supposed to manage other’s outcomes. We have no idea what will work for everyone we think is involved. If everyone actually bends to our iron will, things may work out for a time. Before they backfire in our faces. The feeling of power is short-lived. Wow. We didn’t know what’s best. Imagine that?

Coming from an environment where some tried to control others lives, I know for a fact how true this statement is. Those folks don’t admit they’re wrong, nor when you’re right. Sad. Stay in your lane, people! Most often your own best guesses about my life are wrong, just as my ideas about your life are most likely wrong. The exception in cases of deep addiction to alcohol, drugs, or gambling. You need help not only with the substances, or activity, but also with your mental health. Sometimes, it’s necessary to have another help you figure out what to do. You need to care about your recovery more than I do, though. I cannot and will not do the hard work for you.

Me? I sure don’t ever want to quit learning. I’ll never know it all and I wouldn’t want to. Too much responsibility! A better life lies ahead of all of us who realize we need to be our own navigator. It’s even better when you have a co-captain/navigator in your life, a trusted person to travel with you. It’s not necessary, just nice. Appreciate those who love you and help you grow. Thanks a million, Babe.

Watch out for pitfalls and backsliding while learning to let others navigate their own road, when they’re capable. We’ll all make mistakes, there is no way around our being human. Learn from today’s mistakes. And don’t dwell on them. You’re living in the now and the future is ahead of you, not behind.

Today will be beastly hot, not fit for anyone. Drink lots of water, and rest. Outdoor work will still be there tomorrow. We have a heat advisory in our area, and I expect it to remain too hot for anyone. Grateful for the A/C. I have lots of catch-up work for the Post, and for us. Too many unexpected things happened all week. It’s going to be better. I know it will. Be safe, hydrate, and be kind. See you tomorrow!

Good Girls Rarely Make History.

This phrase just jumped out at me while listening to Jennifer Nettles album/CD “Playing With Fire.” I love her voice. I’ve read before she has a voice “to make a man leave his happy home and follow her anywhere.”

The one thing I’m curious about is writing lyrics. It appears to be like poetry, but adding the words to music adds another dimension that words on a page just can’t compete with. Nettles’ song, “Hey Heartbreak” is an anthem telling Heartbreak to leave her door, she’s taking her life back. Powerful words, and great music. Nothing better.

I believe some day I will write words for a song. I have experienced a lot of themes. Bone crushing lonely Saturday nights, before I met the Babe. I think when you’ve lived through those, you can pretty much get through anything. Loss of good health is another thing that tests your mettle. Not having an adult in your home to help you is another kind of lonely and hopelessness. If I hadn’t had my kids, I may not have made it through. But we did. All those experiences are back in the vault of my memories. I will do something with them in the future. You cannot make up the things every day people make it through. No one could believe it all happened. But it did. And I’m still here!

This is where my overwhelming sense of gratitude grows from. I could not have lived through these things without hope, faith, and especially love. God is in charge. I no longer try to affect outcomes; I pray, “However you decide, God. I’m along for the ride. Tell me what you’re teaching me now.” Many years ago, I prayed, “Please make my husband be kinder to the kids,” and learned it doesn’t work that way. The prayer became, “Show me what you want me to do to improve this situation.” Boy, did He!

I was the quintessential “good girl.” I was obedient, always followed the rules, never expressed my opinion, deferred always to my first husband, and didn’t rock the boat. Never again! The book I will finish reading today has stirred many memories of how women’s role in society has changed. In the Victorian era, women were not allowed to study things like math or science. It was believed their delicate makeup would be upset if they used their minds too much. Hogwash!

When I was a Programmer Trainee in 1987, I asked a question that was quite technical in nature. The boss that was training me said, “That’s too technical for you.” I asked someone else later who said, “He probably didn’t know the answer.” I finally got the explanation but not from who should have answered me. My first review after transferring to another department of I/T included, “You are way more skilled than he would give you credit for. He kept you down.” How about that?

Truth of the matter is, there were not very many women in the field in the late 80s. Most were men, and I had to learn to go to lunch with them, hang out with them, and not be relegated to the “secretarial staff.” It’s a hard stop to be in, but you have to make the best of it. Thank God it has changed! We need to remain equal. We were made to be equal. I never broke out in hysterics from debugging an old COBOL program. Nonsense!

And while I may not go down in history as a “bad girl” I know that would have been one who talked back, (I was just asking questions no one liked), wanted to take a class only boys took (I wanted to take Mechanical Drawing. The nun who enrolled me that year said “absolutely NOT! You’re too shy!”), and “You’ll probably never finish college, even if you attend. Go to beauty school or nursing school or become a teacher.” No offers of financial help were ever discussed. How was that supposed to happen?

In the 1950s, the thing that made a girl “bad” was being one who smoked, hung out with the boys, one who stole boyfriends, and had sex before marriage. The worse thing was if your daughter “had to get married.” The scorn! In the late 60s and 70s, it mattered no more. Now, often people live together for years, have multiple children, then get married if they even do. I’m glad young teens are no longer forced into marriage. It used to be the air was clean and sex was dirty. Now, the air is dirty and sex is clean. In my opinion, God made male and female to enjoy each other in every way possible. There is nothing better than a caring lover. That, along with commitment, love, faith, and trust in each other transcends to a beautiful life together. I have that with the Babe. I wish it on my friends to know what that is.

Does that make me a bad girl? Oh well! I’ve been called worse! When I was single for so long, I used to say, “If I could be guilty of half of what people have thought I’ve done, I’d be having a great time!”

Have a great time today! Be good to yourself and to each other. Show respect and kindness everywhere you go. You’ll receive it back tenfold. Do it out of goodness, not out of what you may get from it. Let’s see each other again tomorrow!

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