Abraham Lincoln Said:

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to the light I have.”

What’s your definition of success? Some believe a fancy car, home, and designer clothes are the ticket. As many definitions of success exist as to the number of people who populate the earth. Fame, money, or fame and money are all fleeting. Sometimes the people we know are also fleeting as our fame or wealth diminish. Was it really what we wanted? Not now.

Nothing guarantees we will be winners or succeed. We need to be true to who we are and what we believe, and we are bound to shine whatever light we have in every nook and cranny of darkness ahead. Speaking our own truths and being who we really are is important; we also need to project our light into the universe out from us. It could be just what someone else out there needs to hear.

Giving of ourselves beyond ourselves is the ultimate in giving. And being a giver is to be successful. Of course, we need to be givers to be good citizens, humans, Christians, and fulfill what God created us for.

I am a volunteer with the VFW, Moving Veterans Forward, Guitars for Vets, 50 Mile Walk, and other organizations. I believe in their purpose, which is to serve our veterans. We send young people to training to fight and we expect them to just fit into life when they come home like they never left, saw the things they’ve seen, or done the things they’ve done. Founder of Moving Veterans Forward, Ron Hernandez, has said, “I wouldn’t leave you on the battlefield and I won’t leave you alone when you get home.”

I am inspired by the generosity I see from these organizations. It also inspires me to see the good they do. It’s what we’re supposed to do for each other. Care. Tend. Lend a hand. What could be more Christian or American than that? It’s the best of what there is on earth. More about our volunteer work later.

I hope you have a warm rest of the weekend, enjoy the big game tomorrow, and know we’ll see each other tomorrow. Thank you.

Submission Guidelines

I’m getting ready to do a thing. I mentioned earlier the Voices from the Plains Anthology by the Nebraska Writers Guild is accepting submissions for their Fifth Volumes from now until September 11, 2021. I decided to submit the first chapter of my novel this year. I’m excited and almost dreading it at the same time. Why? It’s kind of like being naked at 90th & Dodge Streets at rush hour. On the sidewalk, not in your car. And at the same time, I’m not nervous. Whatever happens will happen, I can guarantee it. It’ll be ok.

The story about my first seeing an anthology happened about three years ago. The Babe and I were driving back from Colorado and stopped at a roadside building. It was an old abandoned Burger King from the look of the building. We really appreciated the nice lady who tended the store. There were books, and of course, I had to look

I’ve always liked getting books out on our travels. I have one about the big fire at Yellowstone National Park in 1988, and I have one about the life of Walt Disney. Both fascinated me. I believe Disney would be disappointed with the amount of money people have to pay to enter each part; I don’t think over $100 per day was in his initial plan.

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Among this little former bookstore turned rest stop offerings was a volume of the Anthology published by the Nebraska Writers Guild. It was that book that led me to joining the guild, connecting with people, and getting started on this journey. I love how it started since I deeply believe God gives you nudges throughout life. This was a huge nudge, and I investigated all about writing. Well, not everything. But you get my drift. It’s free to submit poetry, essays, short stories, etc.

I plan to check the chapter a few times with Pro Writing Aid and on my own. I will submit it by September 1, or sooner, if I feel it’s ready. Then we wait. I’m super excited about the process. The book will publish around Deember 1. I’ll keep you in the loop!

In two hours, the Babe and I will go to Nebraska Brewing Company, in LaVista, Nebraska. We will be in the crowd welcoming walkers who walked 50 miles overnight, from Lincoln to Omaha. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness to PTSD, homelessness, and other issues our Veterans deal with on a daily basis. With the terrible events this week in Afghanistan, there is a definite uptick in our Veterans needing help. Triggers are very real for them. They aren’t just drama in a movie. They are real terrors that are triggered and must be dealt with in order to live their lives. They sacrificed for us, and now it’s our turn to sacrifice for them. If you’re in the Omaha area, come on out. Our friends from VFW Post 2503 will be there, too. It’s the least we can do for them.

Meantime, I’m going to edit and re-edit my Chapter. Thank you for reading, I believe by the end of this calendar year great things are going to be happening. Stick around, we’ll go on this journey together. See you tomorrow!

p.s. If you’d like to donate to the 50 Mile Walk benefitting Guitars for Vets and Moving Veterans Forward, go to www.givebutter.com and donate!. At this moment, they have raised their goal, let’s help them go over by a bunch! Thank you, and you’re all the greatest!

#700! Woo Hoo

Here we are, boys and girls, at blog post #700! WOW! Thanks for being on this crazy ride with me. We have learned a lot together, and I suspect there will be more in store for us. Cartney will move into her dorm next week, and after she experiences the first two weeks of classes, she’ll work on our illustrations. I’m excited!

How are you doing with your 2200 Squats in August Challenge? I’m hanging in at 71 per day. It’s really making a difference in my strength, too. As we age, the muscles we need to be strong are in the hip area. It’s what helps us stand from a sitting position. Most elderly people sit too much. I’ve had episodes of that myself, specifically the nearly nine months in a two-year period I had a cast on my left leg and couldn’t put weight on it. Hard! Not fun at all.

In taking Mom to the doctor yesterday, it really shows she is having a hard time getting up from a seated position. And it takes a bit to get steady once she stands up. Her balance is not good, partly because of her hearing/inner ear issues. I wish she’d go to using a walker full time. She gets wound up if I suggest it. I’ll have one of my brothers tell her. She’ll do what they say. Always!

The weather has been extremely hot here, very humid and high heat indices. Not fit for man nor beast! Days like these, I think of the homeless Veterans who weather the extremes in weather. They are often ignored, judged, and forgotten people. We work to help them from afar and are proud of our friends at the VFW Post 2503 for their generosity. It is something we look forward to, and as long as we have new ideas for raising funds and goods, we will reach out to our brothers and sisters. As we’ve said before, there, but by the grace of God, go I.

My friend Sherri Steiner and I worked on a project of our own to help raise funds for Guitars for Vets, Nebraska. I purchased guitar picks with their logo on it, and she volunteered her time and materials to make 100 pairs of earrings. At $10 a pair, our goa is $1,000. That would help five people learn how to cope with their terrible memories. We will sell them at the Post, 8904 Military Road, Omaha, NE. Anyone else want a pair? Text me, call me, email me. I’ll get them to you! And Thanks, Sherri, you made this possible!

Picks before their transformation into earrings.

The Post supports this group who work with Veterans who have diagnosed PTSD. They are eligible for free guitar lessons. When they complete ten lessons, they receive their own guitar. How wonderful to hear them play! We are becoming acquainted with them as individuals and people and enjoy them a lot. Getting involved in the community is rewarding. Try it, you’ll like it!

If you know a Veteran who is diagnosed with PTSD who would be interested in this program, get in touch with Guitars for Vets Nebraska’s Peggy Ullom. She can get you the info you need. Musergic has a healing power, I can attest to that. As a kid, “In My Room,” was my favorite song. It expressed how I felt about having my own space. That was one advantage having three brothers. Music has always been there. Through good and bad.While my dad was dying, I listened to “Leader of the Band,” by Dan Fogelberg. My father was not a band leader, as Fogelberg’s was. My father led our family, loved big band music, jazz, and Sinatra. He always told me “Just keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll get your Bachelor’s Degree yet.” He didn’t live to see me graduate, but I know he watched as I crossed the stage.

Think about how you can give back. Find something you can support with your time or donations. Chances are, you can find something worth your time. Do that this week. Your life will become fuller. Time to go read and plan some more. Take care, be safe, and we’ll see each other tomorrow!

2200 and DONE!

I just completed something that one year ago, I would have told you there was no way I could fathom doing. I read a lot on Facebook about our Veterans, the 22 a day who commit suicide, and how we can help those who ask for it. Because of that, I’ve become a volunteer at our VFW Post 2503, @ 90th & Military Ave in Omaha, NE. The Babe is the Quartermaster for the organization, and I belong to the Auxiliary, serving as a Trustee. Check their website, activities, and events for the month of August. Busy place, doing good for the community. We’d love to have you stop by!

So in addition to this, we’ve established relationships with Moving Veterans Forward, Nebraska; Nebraska COPS, and Guitars for Vets. We support all three, and are proud to be a part of it. Great causes, all of them. Personally, I joined a July Challenge on Facebook, to do 2200 Squats during the month of July. That means 71 a day. Unlike the photo in the header, I couldn’t do a push up to save my soul. Some folks prefer 22 push ups a day.

Being in my very late sixties, I can’t do the kind the kids are doing; squatting while hanging upside down like a bat in it’s cave; squatting while holding a 75 lb iron weight; squatting while holding a human sideways. You get what I’m saying.

The kind I can do are holding onto a countertop height sink, and doing them without hurting knees, back, etc. There are YOUTUBE videos on how to do that. It’s amazing! I did 50 a day in June to raise awareness about heart disease (prevelant in our family, thank you Agent Orange!), and 71 a day for 22 Until NONE. I’m going to issue a challenge to everyone to continue with me, for the month of August. All I want you to do is think of the number of very good people, citizens of this great republic, who have suffered such trauma to their minds, bodies, and souls, that they feel their only option is to end their lives.One is too many, much less 22.

Of course, the person has to be accepting of any help. And it’s peer to peer in most cases. Men and women who have been there, and done that. Listening to the Babe tell me of his solo trip home from Vietnam in the late 60s, I marvel at how that must have felt. I believe now groups are sent home at a time, and it’s orchestrated by the military. When the Babe came home, he was dropped at the airport, no money for a plane ticket home or anything. He was 19 or 20. A farm boy from South Dakota who escaped that Jungle Hell with his life. I am sure every military veteran ever in a war had PTSD. Now, it has a name. In the two World Wars, the men (and nurses) were told to “man up” and get back to their lives. Many, many of them were alcoholics until they died. How sad. How tortured they were. The Babe suffered from alcoholism, too. Thank God, he resolved that and his chain-smoking habit before we met. I’m so grateful for that. It’s restored him to the person he was before he took his trip to Southeast Asia.

Personally and publically, I support assistance for veterans, and especially veterans who suffer from PTSD and Chronic Pain. I can relate to the Chronic Pain, and know how hard it is to keep from being deep in a pit of depression. Guitars for Vets would help someone you know who is a veteran diagnosed with PTSD. We’ll have information about them tomorrow at the Car Show. I’m raising funds for them by selling guitar pick earrings for $10 a pair! You need some. Stop by the merch table tomorrow. Omaha, NE. 90th & Military. See you tomorrow! And do your 71 squats; or 22 pushups or squats. Just remember our warriors. We owe it to them.

Monday Reflections

During our working lives, we live for the weekends. Well, not everyone does, but it’s thought to be that way. I think it may be the advertising world who paints that picture. How awful we all appear to hate our jobs, sleep-walking through the week to make the weekend last longer than it does. The thing we do to earn a living is an afterthought. We regard the place we spend 40 + hours a week with disdain. What happened to doing what you love? Can a Boomer do what they love? Or is that only for our children and grandchildren?

Sometimes I daydream about life as an author and of earning a living as one. Since I was a single Mom, I had to go with a steady income and good benefits. Those two things were musts. And it made sense. Mom stated, “My grandchildren will starve!” when I told her I was filing for divorce. They didn’t, by the way. I had to make a go of it on my own. Determined to make it, I looked ahead. I accomplished much more than I thought I would. I’m so grateful for all of it. The highs and lows. The good and the bad. I learned from it all.

Today, I am also reflecting on the fun we had this weekend. The Post Car Show was very successful. 128 cars entered. We sold food and drink. People were so happy to be outside again. The weather was overcast and perfect. The Babe and I had fun Saturday with grandson Gavin. Life can be so good, can’t it? With the warm feeling in my heart, I go forward to another day to create and learn. Blessings abound.

For today, I need to concentrate on making it a productive day. The recliner and NETFLIX or Amazon Prime are calling, but I must not answer that call! Right now is the time to put some thoughts into action. We need to act in order to gather momentum. We can be grumpy or act as if we’re not. Acting “as if” we’re not changes our attitude. It improves dramatically. Wallowing in the negative only hurts us. Inaction stalls us. Hoping alone will not make things happen, having faith and putting in the work does.

For today, although I do not feel productive, I will put in work and change my mind from wanting to relax to accomplishing something. As I see the results from consciously changing my mind to accomplishing, I feel productive. And so it goes. What will YOU accomplish today?

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it. I hope you all have a productive day doing whatever you wish to accomplish. Let’s compare notes tomorrow. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Careful out there.

BELOW: Just a couple cars and motorcycle; David Mike of Guitars for Vets, Nebraska

VFW Post 2503/Car Show/And MORE!

Yes, I played hooky again yesterday. It was a busy day, with taking Mom to the doctor, and then getting her home so I could meet the fine folks from “Guitars for Vets, Omaha.” We met Daniel and David Mike (yes, they are guys with a first name for a last name). David is the Dad, Daniel the son.

It’s often said Omaha is just a big small town. And it’s true. Daniel went to Bellevue East High School, with our daughter- and son-in-law. He detoured via a career in the Military, taking him on four tours of Afghanistan. We know many of the same people, and they feel like familiar long-time friends already. The people we meet by volunteering! It’s enriched our life so much.

The VFW Post, at 90th & Military Road, in Omaha, Nebraska is sponsoring a Car Show on Sunday, May 2, 2021. Registration begins at 8 a.m. sharp! The actual show is free to the public and begins at NOON. We had over 110 cars last fall. We’re hoping to have as many this time. It’ll be perfect, out in the sunshine, people coming and going, raffles, and information for Veterans. There are so many who suffer from PTSD. It can be crippling. We want to raise awareness in the community of all the groups available to Veterans and their families. We will have representatives from:

Moving Veterans Forward

Guitars for Veterans, Omaha

Operation 22 til Freedom

Aside from getting to know these groups, we want to establish relationships and find out how we, as a VFW Post, can help them get their message out to those who need them and their services. Where there is great need, we can offer a hand. It’s what we’re here for. Local support. Veterans helping Veterans. It’s a beautiful thing to witness. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Now, this is my personal blog for today.

#600 Club? Already?

How time flies! Today, this is my official 600th blog post. I’m finally on a roll! Things are coming along with the writing I’m doing. Just wish there were more productive hours in the day, I’m working on that. As we’ve chatted before, Family First, then I split the rest of my time writing/volunteering/reading/learning/etc.

Nearly two years ago, when I started this blog, I never had a clue I’d need to spend so much time learning and reading to become an author. To get the writing every day habit started, I blogged. Most of what I read talked about marketing yourself (hard for an Irish Catholic girl from South Omaha to do) and get your brand out there.

My brand? Well, that’s a tough one. I’m first a survivor of a lot of things. Breast Cancer. An unhappy marriage (first one). A “pioneer” woman in the 80s in I/T (or MIS or coding, or whatever you want to call it). I think my life as the only girl with three brothers toughened me up for working with mostly men, typical of the workers in that era.

Survivor. Wife. Mom. Grandma of 5. Sister, Daughter, Cousin, Loyal Friend. Author. Yes, Author, who always wanted to write a children’s book. After starting there, I have three separate drafts. The first, “ROXIE! What Are You Doing?” is about our Grandson Gavin and his life with Roxie, our naughty rescue dog.

The second, “Bonus Grandmas,” is about a little boy confused at the number of women in his life he calls “Grandma.” No one believes he really has that many Grandmas! But he does.

The third, “Grandpa’s Gone,” is a book for families. It recounts my real-life story that changed our extended family and our memories of Christmas Eve. When I was 12 years old, our Grandpa died of a heart attack at 60. On Christmas Eve. Grieving was hard in 1964, people didn’t talk about loss like we can now. This story recalls my memories of the Christmases that followed. And upon hearing a very special song about that very event, I learned we weren’t the only kids who experienced that kind of loss on such an important day.

I also have a novel in progress, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.” A young woman marries, leaving home in 1970. The novel follows her through several years of an unfortunate marriage, growing up, and gaining the knowledge and confidence she needs to make the break for freedom.

Yes, we’re very busy here at Raabe Ranch, the home office of Jewell Publishing, LLC. Thank’s for staying with us through 600 posts. More to come! We appreciate your time and are eager to share more with you. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Thoughtful. We will see you tomorrow!

Overflowing with Gratitude Thursday

Sometimes you have to find another word for Thankful. So, it’s an overflowing with gratitude Thursday. The Babe and I saw our friends at the VFW Post last night. Everyone is well as far as COVID-19 goes, so that’s a good thing. We do have a gentleman in our group who is seeing a return of his cancer. Along with his dementia, it’s really a labor of love for his wife. It has to be hard to be watchful every moment of every day. It’s sad, he had such a dry sense of humor. He still does, it’s just tucked away in there somewhere. I hope God keeps him safe from any harm, and he makes the way easier for his wife. Prayers are always appreciated. Nugent and Lora are their names. Thanks.

One thing has never occurred to me in my whole life. How fireworks affect a combat veteran. What a terrible experience that must be, to have PTSD and be triggered by fireworks. Aside from “ooohs” and “aahhhs” for the first spectacular ones, I really don’t care for them anymore myself. We’ve had several dogs who are afraid, and that can be bad for the pet and their surroundings. No one considers the veterans, though.

Here is a link to a You Tube video explaining a little about the connection between fireworks and PTSD. Although the video is produced in South Carolina and lists their VA as a contact, feel free to contact the VA in your area. In Nebraska, it is: VA Medical Center, 4101 Woolworth Ave, Omaha, Ne 68105. The phone number is: (402) 346-8800.

There are a number of differing opinions about PTSD and Veterans. An organization has created yard signs asking for compassion with fireworks, as a Veteran resides at the home. Military.com has lambasted the signs and organization. It says if your PTSD is so bad you can’t go to work after July 4, or if you need total quiet to function, you need more help than a sign can offer. True. I believe it’s up to no one to judge the situation. Please, make that call to your local VA. They can get you headed in the best direction. There are many organizations who help veterans cope. Locally, we have a “Guitars for Vets” group. There is a national group, “Hunting with Soldiers.” It sounds as if there is a place among those who “get it” for anyone who wants or needs that place. Get there. Soon. You’ll be glad you did.

Back to the matters at hand. My current work, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons,” is underway. I need to investigate the genre of Creative Non-Fiction. Truthfully, I cannot believe there are so many genres and variations thereof. Way different than when we were kids. Anyone know of a great reference tool for Creative Non-Fiction? The more I can learn, the better off I’ll be, and so will you, my readers.

I’m finding bits and pieces about writing Creative Non-Fiction. Things such as: vulnerability and honesty are crucial to writing it well; don’t give advice; watch your tense; zoom in on action; ruthlessly cut-back the story; stick to tone-setting details; unexpected, w/punch. I like this one the best: Treat your past self with dignity. We should always do that, I believe.

And the five R’s of Creative Non-Fiction? Real life, Research, wRite, Reflect, Read. Clear as mud, right? I’m with you on that. It sounds as if elements of great fiction writing are present in the writing of CNF. That appeals to me. More reading ahead, as I learn what to do, then do it.

Time to go do some errands with the Babe. Thank you for reading, I appreciate it. I’ll be here again tomorrow, and hope to see you here tomorrow. Have a good Thursday, be grateful. Wash Up, Show Up, Be Uplifting, and Wear your mask! I want to keep you all for a long time.