Little Things Add Up

Monday, January 24, 2022 is upon us. We made great progress over the weekend, moving furniture, getting a new area rug in place, and getting some things ordered to help be more organized.

I don’t know if it’s something that’s “done” or not, but we put both the chest and dresser on the same wall. The header photo shows that. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I just haven’t seen it before. That made more room to put two chairs, a little area rug down, for a little reading area. I sat with coffee this morning and read the Bible. We have a sheet to follow that will take you through the it in a year, if you keep up with the required reading. So far, so good, and I’m keeping up. I ordered a small bookcase to put between the chairs, against the wall.

It is a better use of space. A quilt will hang in the middle.

This morning, I spent a couple hours putting all the Santa’s in one tub, (hopefully), and made quite a dent in the mess. At least now it’s on the way to becoming organized. It will be awesome decorating next year. Progress! See, there’s that word again! I’m doing it, staying focused and slowly headed in the right direction.

The Babe Built the Shelves. What a Handy Guy! Think I’ll Keep Him!

Tomorrow will be another day with Mom. I’ll take her to get a perm. While she is processing, I’ll go to Panera’s and try to get some writing correspondence sent. I’ll be updating my website this week, with a page about Jewell Publishing, LLC. If you recall, this is my publishing company, and home to Kathy Raabe, Author. It’s also the home for Grandma Kathy and my children’s books.

We’re pretty sore tonight after two days of furniture moving and carrying things up and down the stairs. Blog won’t be very early tomorrow, either. We’ll be writing on the “road” and catching up some things. Hope your evening is nice, and you have a good one. Take care out there and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Living a life in which you never change. You always eat meatloaf on Tuesday. You work for the same company for more than 30 years and you hate your job, but you’re scared to leave the company. You withdraw from any new person, idea, way of doing things. You criticize anyone who does things differently than you do, even if they achieve the same result. Why is change so crippling to some people?

More of the same produces more of the same. What is keeping us from trying something different, especially if we’re not happy with how things are going in our lives. The more we practice something, the deeper it’s ingrained in us. The deeper the roots, the more difficult change can be. That said, it’s not impossible to change. It takes an awareness at what may be causing a problem. If it’s behavior related, we can investigate which changes we would consider making.

Why do we do the things we do in the way we do them? Are we critical of others? We probably learned that growing up. We can stop that. It takes a different mindset.

Do we have a quick temper at little things? Did we observe this growing up? Holding your temper can take some time, we need to change attitudes toward these minor inconveniences before we can control our temper. Mom used to get very angry at little things. A glass of milk spilled at dinner just sent her into a tailspin. We had a real wood kitchen table which she always covered with a tablecloth. Every night (nearly) one of my little brothers spilled their milk. Mom would go beserk. It’s not like he did it on purpose. Mom lectured while insisting the wet tablecloth be removed immediately. It was stripped off, all the plates, silverware, and other glasses were moved frantically to get the tablecloth removed before the wood was ruined.

Looking back, I seriously doubt the wood table would have been ruined if the milk soaked tablecloth was left while we finished eating. She waxed the heck out of it frequently. Wouldn’t the wax offer some protection? I often wished we had a table made of some other material. Needless to say, mealtime was not happy in our house. Dad didn’t like us talking (arguing, goofing around, etc.) while eating, as he would go to work immediately after dinner. Mealtime conversation has been difficult for me to master, and I’m still working on it. I definitely know it was stressful as kids. Dad didn’t say anything, but often, he would stab at his food, and that meant we needed to immediately zip it, knock it off, cease and desist.

Mealtime wasn’t happy while I was married the first time. Kids don’t eat everything you set before them. Sometimes they do, but mosty not. My kid’s father would eat his food, then start eating the food off the kid’s plates. They were nowhere finished, as kids eat slowly. At times, they would cry and ask Dad to “Stop!” I would get mad. His take was he was right to do what he was doing, since they wouldn’t eat everything and he wanted to eat it while it was still hot. Remember, there were few microwaves before 1982. We did not have one.

Mealtime became peaceful once their dad left. Peace at last. It took guts on my part to end that marriage. I’m so glad I did it, unpopular as my decision was. I never looked back. My kids eventually understood. Best scary thing I ever did. There were plenty more scary decisions, made with much thought and risk. It worked. The change was a great one, I’m happier than I ever could have been. God gave me everything I needed to be strong and learn what I needed to.

What about you? Was there something in your childhood that was a pattern of behavior where you were afraid or upset about? Whatever caused that behavior, make sure it doesn’t happen in your home, under your watch. You can change it. You have the power to do it. I support you and your effort. Take the chance, make your life happier.

Tomorrow starts a busy week. The Honor Guard always has six funerals booked through the VFW. It amazes me how many people are affected by these deaths, and the vast number of Veterans who are buried at the Omaha National Cemetery. The grounds are beautiful and hallowed. I appreciate the Honor Guard and it’s important work. I have some emails that need to go out to my new artist and events to update on the Post website. I’m going to add some pages to my website as well. What good work will you do this week? Thanks for reading and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Fab Friday!

I must be crazy. Mom insisted on going out today into the frozen tundra. She hadn’t been out for awhile. She says the cold doesn’t deter her, just snow or ice will. She’s sure she should go while she can. I have to agree with her. I tease her when she’s says, “I’m not keeping you too late, and I?” I tell her, “No, it’s ok, I’ve got all the time in the world.” The Babe told me over five years ago to do whatever I needed to do to help Mom when she needs it. “You only ever have one Mom.” We spent many hours on the road back and forth to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to make sure we saw his mom. She lived 12 years in the nursing home with MS. She is my hero and will always be.

Mom is still mobile (barely) and nearly blind and deaf. We went to Walgreen’s #1 to get her eye drops (Rx). We then went to Walgreen’s #2 to pick up her “supplies” as she calls them. She is wearing incontinence pads during the day and adult “pull ups” at night. Poor thing! So, we’re in the aisle, she’s on her walker, I’ve got the shopping cart at the ready. She asks me to be her eyes and ears. I found the pads she wanted, checked the price, then it was on to the pull-ups.

OK, proper size, proper absorbency, “what’s the biggest box they have?” Yes, that will work! She adds, “Get two of those.” Yep, all handled. She looked on the other side of the aisle, and there were stool softeners, Metamucil, and the like. She was quiet after I told her what was there. I said, “You don’t need any of those.” Quiet. Followed by uproarious laughter. We giggled until we may all have needed Depends. “No, I guess I don’t.” It was hilarious. If you don’t think so, just know you had to be there! It’s a good thing she still has a sense of humor. My brothers and I try to help her find the humor in everything.

We went to lunch at her favorite – Village Inn – and home. She was so tired. I’m glad she seems a little more accepting of how things are and she could have it much worse. We seem to go in cycles in how we tolerate each other. She is much less critical than she has been. I help her because I promised Dad I would; she and I have a complicated relationship to say the least. I have forgiven her in my heart, and hope that’s enough to get her on her journey to the next world. She may hang around for ten more years, who knows? Not me, for sure. I love the longevity we may enjoy because of her.

Something really cool happened this week. I applied for a Gretna Public Library card. With the community being so small, and our housing subdivision just being annexed, I wasn’t sure if I’d have a free card or have to pay a fee. Luckily, we were annexed last summer, so it was free. I cannot wait to go to the library maybe next week. I want to find out what kind of small business information they offer, which is illustrated and noted in the brochure my card arrived in. Only reading nerds will understand; I hate to think of how much money I’ve spent on books this year. They probably are deductible, right? Tools of my trade, right?

I have some deep cleaning for over the weekend, I’m adding a reading “spot” in the bedroom. It should be nice and perk things up. Tomorrow morning, I have a baking engagement (chocolate chip cookies to take to a friend’s birthday party tomorrow), and pick up Addison after dance. It should be a great day with family/friends. It will be good, What’s up for your weekend? Whatever it is, enjoy your people. Have a cookie! We’ll see each other tomorrow.

This is Thursday!

It’s a win when I know what day it is so far all day long! So far, so good. I’m not trying to make it any other day, and that may be because the Babe and I have meetings for the Post and Auxiliary later tonight. It is hard to keep up some weeks.

I read something this morning about keeping in the present, which adult children of alcoholics have a problem doing. It’s something many others do too. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Judge Judy says that all the time. And she’s right. That thinking changes nothing.

“I coulda been a contender,” famously quoted in “A Streetcar Named Desire” film.

“I would have done thing differently,” me, looking back on my life, knowing what I know now.

“I Should Have Known Better,” by the Beatles.

The second one could be any of us. I don’t regret anything that has happened before in my life. I would have preferred the Babe been my children’s father. He is a wonderful stepfather and grandfather. If any of us knew then what we know now, we all probably would have had different lives, and wouldn’t be who we are right now. As I said, I don’t regret what I’ve been through during my time on this earth. I am who I am because of it. I was dumb, then smart, then dumb, etc., and so it goes.

For us ACOA, it’s a matter of boundaries. Just like other issues we have, this relates to boundaries. You have to keep past in it’s own area. Otherwise, it overcomes present and future. I used to carry things forward, thinking it would help protect me. It didn’t. It only served to make me miserable. After my kids were gone from home and two moved out of state, it was hard for me not to be depressed. At 48 or so, I thought my life’s purpose was over. Raising kids wasn’t the only thing I could do with my life, but I didn’t know that then. No prior life experience allowed me to comprehend that, take it, and run with it.

Struggling can help build character, and boy, has it. So has learning to set boundaries. I’m still learning, and can guarantee you, if you are just starting to set boundaries, people are probably not as happy with you. The ones who are angry aren’t able to manipulate you anymore. True stuff. They weren’t your friends, anyhow. Or your true family.

Boundaries should also be honored by the one setting them in order to work. If you cross over, just to be nice, a good sister, or the fun dad, you’re telling everyone you’re not serious about the boundaries. If you don’t honor your own boundaries, why should anyone else? Your example matters.

The future is spotless. Nothing is wrong or right with us. We get to decide that. Live your own life. Now. Don’t look back, you’re not going that way! You may need to learn self-care so you can prepare for your future. I know myself well enough now, I’m certain if I’m over-tired, hungry, or can’t figure something out, I need to put it away, have a protein snack, and go to sleep early. It’s a necessity.

If you are still working for a living, you may think you have no say so how you spend your time. While you do have to do the work you were hired to do, it is up to you if you do it with joy, glad you have a career, or if you are curmudgeonly about it, groaning and complaining all the way. Many people would be thrilled to have your job or career. Gratitude helps us find more for which to be grateful. Good things will come your way.

It is still quite frigid out there. Make sure you dress warmly if you’re out where it’s cold. Spring is in the future! Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow.

BRRRRRR!

It’s another frigid day at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. I really cannot complain; I have a warm home, a warm heart, and warm (head? hands? {NEVER!}) Well, I tried. Warm home and heart. That’s a good start, since I believe this will go on for awhile.

When we were kids, my older brother and I received figure skates for Christmas. We learned on a frozen pond down the giant hill at the park. There is a swimming pool there now; back in the day, the fire department would flood certain areas and create random neighborhood ice rinks. The ice never met a Zamboni, and it was always lumpy, choppy, and challenging. We’d stake until we got cold. I developed a minor case of frostbite, but it didn’t stop me. Tom and I self-diagnosed why my fingers and toes swelled and turned a whitish color. They returned to normal after we were in the house and had hot chocolate. It’s a great memory.

When it’s this cold, I think of the homeless and of the people who are cold in their homes, trying to save on utilities. Been cold in our home, but not this one. The last home the Babe and I purchased had a gas fireplace, and it was a must for this house. We both loved the warmth and the ambiance. Same now. If you have a spare warm coat, gloves, scarf, or boots, please donate them to a homeless center. Directly to the homeless. Help out those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. There, but by the grace of God, go I.

Since we ate at home all week, the Babe picked me up to go to lunch. I wore my warmest coat; a boot length wool coat, with a hood. The wind still blew, but I was cozy. I am so glad I’ve had it for twenty some years, in a style that is stylish, and ready for Nebraska winters. I haven’t worn it much in the past few years, but for days like this, it’s perfect. Grateful to have a selection of coats. God’s been very good to me.

The middle school and high school kids we see while picking Addison up from school don’t wear any coats or warm clothing. The word is, they don’t have room in lockers for coats. Wow. We fit all sorts of things into ours. During COVID last year, they weren’t allowed to go to their lockers, and didn’t want to carry coats all day. You would think there would be a reasonable compromise for them somehow. And it still gets down to the fact, kids rarely take city mass transit anywhere, much less to school. In more highly populated areas like New York City they might, but not in Omaha/Papillion/Gretna Nebraska.

Going to have a few minute power nap before we get Addison. I hope you have a great rest of the day. See you tomorrow!

Heroes

We don’t give ourselves enough credit. We should be our own heroes. I grew up in a time when we were discouraged from talking about ourselves, especially as a girl, and not to get too full of ourselves. It’s a whole new way of doing things nowadays. Kids are praised for everything, constantly. Is it too much? Do they grow up thinking they are perfect? Some do, in my opinion.

How do we learn to give more credit to ourselves (the boomers) and raise kids/grandkids who aren’t full of themselves. It’s a definite challenge with the kids. On one hand, they are at all to stand in a gym full of people at the age of six and sing solo, or speak, or act. They need to be prepared though, for the days they’re told no, when things don’t go their ways, and when someone else beats them out of a trophy, or someone else gets a job/promotion/or something else they want more than anything.

Sometimes, I’m glad I didn’t lead a charmed life, and had some of the life disappointments I had. I knew things would not always turn out the way I willed them to do. I also could handle it. I hope kids learn to do that. I hope it wouldn’t immediately throw them into feeling so badly about themselves and their abilities that they may hurt themselves or worse. And I hope their parents can “take it” too. A parent putting pressure and guilt on a child can have devastating consequences on that child.

People who do the simple, everyday, acts of kindness are sometimes bigger heroes than those who run into danger to rescue us from fires and crazies. The people who work everyday to support their families during these times are quiet heroes. I think of my dad when I think of those people. He was always a steady, familiar force while we had him. After we found out about his many medals from the military (two Bronze Stars, from WWII and Korea), His status rose further in our eyes.

When we do what we are supposed to do, instead of simply doing what we want, we should be our own heroes. I’m serious! Saying “NO” to ourselves is brave. It’s how we’ll progress and how our lives will change. Others are not the only ones we should say “NO” to; sometimes, we need to say it to ourselves.

Case in point? I have finally finished taking ornaments off the tree and have them ready to put on the storage shelves. I put it off from last week. I found the couch too comfy. I found the new books I read over the weekend too good. I was not my own hero. I will be when this is all stowed, because I’ll be in much better shape than I was a year ago. Last year, things were haphazardly put away, and now they’re not. It’s all orderly. I’m proud of that small victory.

We practice detachment from the excuses we’ve made previously, and we begin to make way for new habits, new hobbies, new people. And discipline we haven’t had before. We might have weird feelings while we lose the bad habit, the procrastinating gene of our makeup, but in the end, it will feel like normal when we stick to it. We will have a surer sense of mission, purpose, and fulfillment. Great things will happen. Try it. See you tomorrow!

“It Ends With Us” – Colleen Hoover

While I had planned to talk today about the possible shift in my workload to the kid books instead of the novel at this point, I feel it’s important to talk about this 2017 novel by Colleen Hoover. I have just finished reading it, and it impacted me, big time. I love how the ending came about, no spoilers here, just read the book. It ended one of two ways it could, and I’m glad for the ending. I will say it’s a story about a woman who finds out a man is abusive. It starts innocently enough, but it escalates.

We always hear stories about women who won’t leave. We scoff at her saying, “But I love him.” I’m sure she does. Loves him for his goodness, when it surfaces. He is so deeply hurt himself after he lets his temper and fists fly. I’m not defending these men; far from it. They employ whatever tactics they find effective to keep their woman or child in line. They know what they’re doing, and most times, he is acting out behavior he learned at home. Maybe he really doesn’t like women. At first, I thought he was a pretty selfish kind of guy who prided himself in one-night stands. Never a relationship. Maybe he know the demons inside him could erupt. Was he afraid of that? Maybe.

This is a horrific way to live. Let me raise this issue, though. If a man is “only” verbally abusive, should she stay? If he’s detached from family life, while professing to love his wife and kids, is it worth staying? I was finally freed from that kind of life. I finally realized we were far too different. I didn’t care what he said to me, but I hated seeing the tears well up in my children’s eyes. I needed to end it. Many years later, one of my sons told me he probably would have been on drugs if his dad was still in the home. I was so sad at first, but reminded myself he did it to himself. Again, I wish him well. My kids had a stable family life. We ate dinner together nearly every day, but especially on Sunday. It was our tradition. We all loved it.

Having your hopes and dreams ridiculed is also not the way to live. It used to be, “At least he doesn’t hit you.” I retorted, “But he won’t talk to me. He makes fun of me (I’m only joking), and I’m isolated. Therapy helped me see why I married the wrong person. The pride of youth is a big part; the adults in my life couldn’t tell me the details of why I shouldn’t marry him, and not at the age I was. I get it. “Because I said so,” was not enough of a reason to a headstrong young woman. It never does. If you are in a situation where you are dealing with abuse, be it verbal or physical, get to safety. Find someone who can help by listening to you first. They will help you make a plan and implement it. It is never easy. Staying is harder. Logic has to make these hard decisions, not emotion. Emotions can get your hurt or worse, killed. You can do this. You can be strong enough. It took me 18 months of therapy to be able to end it. I was fortunate there was no physical abuse. It can escalate to that; be mindful of that.

Every family has some dysfunction. Every family. If you have behaviors in your home that are not rooted in love, take a step back. Think of outcomes. Think of living differently. Make it stop with you. Be brave but careful.

**If you are of a victim of domestic violence or know someone who could use assistance in leaving a dangerous , please visit this website. See you tomorrow.

Thoughtful Thursday

It’s another sunny morning at the Home Office in Gretna Nebraska. I’m listening to the President talking about Omicron. Vaccinations. Masks. Over the nose. It’s your patriotic duty. Announcing next week how to get free masks. Testing. 375 Million at home tests. Free tests. A billion tests are ordered.

In the city of Omaha right now, the Douglas County Health Director issued a mask mandate for the city, overriding the Mayor’s wishes, and there may be lawsuits filed over it. The county extends far beyond the city limits, but the mandate doesn’t. Rules and regulations. Does anyone know what we’re doing?

There are naysayers. I do know two people personally who have died from COVID. I believe it exists. Just like the flu, Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Whooping Cough, it’s something we need protection from. The differences between COVID and all these other deadly diseases? The science available to us now as opposed to the Smallpox outbreak in the early 1900’s. Instead of it taking years, we can now develop fairly potent vaccines in months. I believe in the end we will add COVID vaccinations to the group we now have to help keep diseases away from our families and especially the children. If you disagree, that’s fine. We can do that. I respect your right to make a different choice than I.

I met with my artist today, and we understood each other quite well. I think it will be a great project. It’s quiet right now, before the new snow storm is coming (again). That will be a good day for some baking or cooking. It should be the start to a cozy weekend. More work around the house for sure.

Blessings being remembered again and gratitude is on my mind. We are warm and well, and all I can do is trust in God to see us through the rest of this pandemic, and help us find a way to stay safe. We need safety. We need calm. We need faith. During these times, we need God. See you tomorrow!

The Journey.

It took years, but going from a scared younger woman with anxiety affecting my health to an older woman, president of her own company, author, story teller, and deeply grateful friend of many is a great reward for about forty years of very hard work. It was lonely at first. I was late to the women’s movement, but grateful for the laws that were changed. I am not in favor of preferring women over men, I believe the opportunities should be equal. In IT they are, and that is where I was lucky to spend the bulk of my career up to 2000. The people I know now are all so supportive, teachers of my craft, and mentors for my business. Although I’m approaching another major decade in age, my world is expanding. It’s exciting!

I was unhappy for years. I was becoming my mother, which I adamantly did not want to be. She was angry all the time from raising all of us basically alone since Dad worked nights and slept days. Mine, I know for sure it was from the condition of my marriage. It wasn’t a partnership, it was a dictatorship. After my husband was gone for about six months, my neighbor friend told me, “I see you smiling all the time. When we moved in last summer, always looked angry. Now, you are happy.” WOW! That probably says it all.

The other thing showing me how bad it really was? I was on Valium for years. My stomach had spasms from the stress I was living with. It was an era of mother’s little helper prescribed by doctors and sung about by the Rolling Stones. I stopped the meds. No more nervous stomach. I divorced my stomach ache. Of course, I did love him, once upon a time. I wish him no ill will. I am so happy without him.

I probably had OCD; at night, every single Fisher Price little person had to be with their set, I would tear the house apart to find them. I didn’t realize it was OCD. I also had PTSD from my son’s drowning. We didn’t hear of PTSD for more than twenty years. The advice from the doctor; “you just have to think of something else.” Tell my brain about that. When I see a child drowning on the news all these 44 years later, my stomach falls. It is simply part of my life which I’m comfortable with. My son survived and is normal, no after effects. Grateful beyond measure.

There have been many, many hard months. Heck, hard years. It’s not easy to raise three kids alone, get your bachelor’s degree, and work full time. My folks watched my kids a lot, and I’m so grateful for that. Many professors along the way made big differences in my thinking and outlook. It’s all been such a growth opportunity, I don’t see autumn coming for at least another ten years or so. It’s very good.

The Babe is such a perfect partner for me. We work very well together. Sure, it’s not perfect, but you learn which battles to pick. Not the nit-picking ones. I remind myself before I criticize out loud that, “someday, I’ll miss that.” And can stop myself. Being a grown up is good most of the time.

Today, I’m emailing my children’s book to another artist. We will meet in person about it tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it. Today is a catch up day for the house and the Post communications. In fact, one email I need to send is about our communications! In the meantime, it’s another cold day in Nebraska, even though they’re touting the 50 degree temp expected. It’s still January during the winter in Nebraska. The day’s are short and it’s a cold 50.

The story continues. Thank you for joining me on the journey! See you tomorrow!

A Peaceful Heart

We all know of someone with a hair trigger temper. A rant can begin at any time, you just don’t know when. Walking on eggshells is no way to live.

“Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten a pile of papers.”

We all know someone who throws temper tantrums, who slam doors and object to prove their displeasure and stomp around to prove a point. How childish. It’s no way to live.

The outbursts we threaten others are spontaneous in number and severity. We make them watch out, don’t rile us up, or we would intimidate them and make them wish we weren’t around. Is this any way for us to relate to people? Is this any way for these people around us to have to exist?

The outbursts are NOT just blowing off steam. They’re opportunities for a cheap thrill by feeling powerful that simply indicates we are short on coping skills. We forget the steam we justify we’re blowing off actually blasts others in the face. Tirades have never solved a problem. Mom was raised in a home where people argued and yelled. She says her mother made her and her sisters afraid of their father. “Don’t tell Dad” is a terrible thing to do to kids. It teaches them to lie and omit parts of the truth. Kids echo the behavior they see around them. Unfortunately, she was frequently angry. I believe it was overwhelm; she had two children under the age of two and didn’t have a lot of help from Dad. Men did not participate in daily tasks with children in the early 1950s. Again, it depends on how you’re raised.

As folks learn to deal with their anger in a constructive manner, anger should subside. Anger, left untamed, can destroy a person, a family, and guarantee dysfunction for the lives of coming generations. It happens more often than not. The person who recognizes this dysfunction and speaks up is often the black sheep for at least a while. It takes courage to speak up and vow to take a different path than the one your parent followed. They just didn’t know any better. It wasn’t their fault.

What you can do is intend to handle situations differently. Be accountable to yourself. Make it a calmer world for your children. It will also be a calmer world for you, too. Once I realized showing anger towards my children and yelling was not the way a Mom should behave, I stopped. I was about 25 years old when I learned an alternate way to be. My life was full of tension and turmoil due to my marriage. I learned other ways of coping with my anxiety. I became a different person, a much better Mom, and learned about personal growth and improving yourself all the days of your life. And we’re not finished yet.

Think about your peace, and the peace you create in your home. Are people walking on eggshells around you? You can change that. You can choose to break a family curse. Yes you can. Work on your own temper. Is it out of control? Is it too much? Reign it in. Control it before it controls you. Have a beautiful evening. See you tomorrow!