Patience Is a Virtue

My oldest son Frankie loved to fish as a kid, teenager, and into his early 20s. He had the patience to sit quietly and wait. He said my dad had it, too, and wanted Grandpa to go fishing with him when he retired. Dad passed away from cancer within six months.

Have you ever had your patience tried by a sulky teenager, a crabby middle-schooler, or a slow-moving kindergartener? Mom’s and Dad’s have their patience tried multiple times a day. How you respond is key in the children’s development.

We often expect kids, especially our own, to be mini-adults. They’re not. They have no concept of time until they have a curfew. And then they’re late. From the start, we need to be the leaders, the ones who set the example, display patience, kindness, and restraint. It may be tempting to yell. Please don’t. As as adult whose Mom yelled constantly, please don’t. I suppose she doesn’t remember, but I do. It was horrible. And she didn’t know any better. She did what her mom did. And I did what my mom did. Until my son nearly died.

Then I changed. I ceased yelling. I begged God to let me have a second chance with my little boy. I saw how destructive the yelling is. I still can be triggered into feeling the bad feelings that went with it. It took a lot of years to stop feeling responsible for upsetting her. It wasn’t my fault. The harder I tried to please her, the worse it seemed to be. It was all within her. And still is.

I’m glad to have been the one to break part of the family curse. My kids don’t have it, but I made other mistakes with them. Someday, I’ll go into it, but not now. We all make our own mistakes in working out the dysfunctionality we grew up with.

Now, I’m not talking about this for sympathy, or to disrespect my elderly mom. I am learning the fact that since I ended this family behavior, I can be an asset to someone else working through flashbacks, memories like this, triggers, and their ensuing reaction. Yes, they (we) can learn to manage our triggers. People with PTSD can, too. It’s not just soldiers who have PTSD. We all have something. We may not even realize it.

Chiding our children to “Hurry up!” is not a good track to be on. Chances are, if everyone started out 30 minutes earlier, you’d all be on time. We had one bathroom, and myself and three kids got ready, dressed, ate breakfast, and had to leave the house by 7 a.m. I dropped them at three different schools at one point, and had to be to work, at my desk by 8 a.m. 7:45 was ideal, but on time was expected. My kids never made me late to work in those early years.

Even as they went to high school, we moved but still had only one bathroom. We still made it to work. When they could drive, I would leave by 7:00 a.m., then took advantage of flex time. It worked perfectly.

As the parents, we need to establish good habits to model for our kids. Plan ahead. Leave early or on time. Be responsible for yourself. Practicing the habit makes it a routine. The routine becomes normal.

Any change we make to our lives to become better people takes time. It’s not a 60 seconds or less thing where change is concerned. Growth doesn’t happen with a stopwatch. Our society values speed more than anything; faster isn’t better; better is better. And you haven’t even lost your patience, you accept responsibility and act accordingly. I believe it’s a good quality to instill in our kids.

Let’s all be more patient. At home. In the car. At work. At play. At rest. It will soon become normal for you. Your life will improve. I promise.

Have a great evening; we’re cheering the Huskers again tonight, and hoping they win again. Time will tell. I’ll be patient. See you tomorrow.

Sunday; PTSD & Mental Health

Today was an informative event at the VFW Post 2503, thanks to the generosity of Kim Erickson and Tammy Marshall, Donna Wolff, and Silouan Green. Mr. Green is an author and speaker on PTSD, and does training for many types of organizations, military, law enforcement, and others. He was an incredible and informative speaker on the subject of PTSD.

It is a subject people don’t want to talk about. Mental health is just as part of your health as your gall bladder, your heart, and muscles. Anyone can have PTSD. It can be from a direct event that happened to you, or can be something you hear about that causes you great distress. It’s amazing. I wish you had all been there. We learned so much.

I learned a lot I didn’t know, and am disappointed Donna didn’t do her presentation on Talk Saves Lives. I was looking forward to it, but it wasn’t to be. Silouan ran over, and Ms. Wolff needed to drive back to where she lives near western Nebraska.

It was my last formal involvement in a VFW Post activity; I’ve made it known I need to spend more time pursuing my passions. Writing, Quilting, and learning new things are tops on the list. I want to take art lessons as well. This will allow me much more time. It’s time. Time to make time for myself and what I wish to do for myself. It’s all part of being well-rounded. I’ve loved my time volunteering with Veterans outreach, and we’ve made friends to cherish from these years. My life is very good, and I’m proud of what’s been accomplished. Time to step back.

I remember when I was a kid, a great aunt on Dad’s side of the family was hospitalized with mental health issues. I was about 10 or so, I think. We went to visit her at the mental hospital near the regular hospital. Mom threatened us with an untimely demise if we told anyone where we went to visit her, such was the scourge of mental illness. I remember the poor lady was troubled with depression, and she could have been bi-polar, I don’t know. There was no shame in it at all. But Mom thought so, as did many folks during those years. I overheard she had shock-treatments. I didn’t know what those were, but they sounded awful.

If you talked to a “head doctor,” you carried a stigma. The feeling was strong in the families, and society back then. Our aunt was unmarried, so according to the protocol of the times, she lived with her sister (our Grandma) and her family. It was totally normal for us. Like having two grandmothers. She was such a sweet woman, always dressed in her own classic style, and a lady through and through.

Aunt Anna always talked about having class. That was a phrase that meant you had manners, style, were appropriate in any situation, and could carry on a decent conversation. After she passed away, I tried on a dress that reminded me of something she would buy. I heard her, in my mind’s eye say, “Kid, you’ve got class in that.” Even after over 40 years, I miss her. She had such an influence in my life. When I’d stay at their house, I’d get to go downtown on the bus with her on Saturday to go shopping. It was such a wonderful time.

Writing takes your mind on many trips down memory lane. Yesterday, it was about the brownies from three wars; today, it was mental illness, family secrets, and having class. I appreciate you listening and reading and coming back every day as you do. We have #975 followers, which is awesome! I’d like to see us add #25 more, and get to #1000followers since we passed #1000blogs a little while ago. Help a girl out? It’s be fun!

Thank you for reading. I hope you have a beautiful evening and a great Monday morning. It’s going to be a wonderful week. Eight days until our 24th Wedding Anniversary. Some days it feels like yesterday, others it seems like a long time ago. Blissful all the way. See you tomorrow!

The Three-War Brownie Recipe

As I baked nine batches of boxed brownies today, I couldn’t help but think of Grandma Jewell and a very special brownie recipe she shared with me once a long time ago.

Gram was an excellent baker – yeast rolls, the best from scratch German Chocolate Cake you could ever taste, Pecan Rolls, oozing in melted butter and sugar and cinnamon, and many other masterpieces. When my first husband was in Germany (he was a Vietnam-era veteran, assigned to Germany at the time of the 1972 Olympics. Tough duty), she told me I needed to send him some brownies. She had a recipe she shared with me that made an 8 x 8 pan of the most decadent brownies I’ve ever experienced.

One of the flavors of purchased brownie mix I used had “real chocolate” to add. It was a little foil packet containing maybe two tablespoons of Hershey’s Syrup, the gold standard for chocolate syrup. As I pulled it open and squeezed the goodness into the bowl, I thought back to opening the can of Hershey’s with a can-opener (the kind we used to have to use for beer, before pop-tops), and pouring the whole can into the bowl with the flour, eggs, butter, salt, and stirring until the beautiful nearly black batter settled. It smelled so good! I believe I can still smell it today.

I remember she cautioned me to pack it in a coffee can (they were metal back then), and wrap securely. It would take quite awhile for packages to go APO or FPO back in the early 1970s. It finally arrived, and I pictured servicemen from three wars, WWII, Korea, and the Vietnam Era enjoying Grandma’s delicious brownies. It’s a beautiful, warm memory.

If we have to find these memories on a bad day, we can make a bad day good. We have a choice; cave in, or do your best to get through the bad ones. I think of how Gram Jewell did exactly that. In her strong faith, and prayer life, she carried many of us through bad times. I’d like to remember that again for my future. You never know when you’re going to need it.

I hope you had a great day today. We’ll be at the Post for the PTSD lecture and Talk Saves Lives training. Maybe we’ll see each other there. Take care, and we’ll see each other tomorrow right here.

The Day After

Yesterday was the Bombshell Patriots Conference for Nebraska. It was a very emotional day. Stories shared, we heard about lives of patriotism, valor, anxiety, depression. How these people fought their way out of the darkness are stories of victory, faith, hope, and a strength that builds spirit, character, and heart. Some, unfortunately, cannot find their way from the darkness. The depression takes over.

They may not reveal depression, hopelessness, and PTSD symptoms. Their careers could be over by admitting these things. They struggle. Many cannot do it alone. We lose many to suicide. It breaks my heart to know that. The ratio of killed in action to killed by suicide is reversing at a frightening speed. Fewer KIA’s last year. Four times as many killed by suicide. We cannot look the other way while this happens. We owe our servicemen and women better.

The sisterhood I entered yesterday was incredible. Women helping women. What a noble concept. Not having any sisters, I often am at a loss figuring out how to fit with groups of women. I don’t need to do that with BSP. They honor each other where each of them are. This is key. The encouragement is something I’ve not encountered a lot. It was refreshing and comfortable.

The downside? For a person with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, I have pain every day. After a while, I needed to overcome it mentally. Sure, it hurts, but I know it won’t kill me; I don’t like it, but dang it, I can’t give up everything. That said, conferences and classes must be carefully scheduled. Not too many hours, no carrying stuff and off loading alone. I need to ask for help. And I need a day or two after to do nothing. Recuperation takes strategy, patience, and lots of self-love. And of course, gratitude.

Why gratitude? It’s because twenty-seven years ago, I had a tumor in my spinal column that was growing, pressing the spinal cord. The bone crushing pain I experienced was the worst I ever had. It would have paralyzed me except the neuro doc saw an arachnoid cyst. He learned about it in school, but never saw one. Surgery took over eight hours. I’m grateful every day I can get up and walk. Sure it hurts. It could be so much worse. Sure, it could be so much better. That isn’t even a remote possibility. I have to choose positivity.

Do I have days I don’t want to move? Yes. I have days I don’t want to. I know I’m better up and living. Each day has hope for me. It’s a necessity. Creative endeavors are a must. Writing clears my whole soul. I get strength from it. I’m better at creating than anything else. Quilts, stories, and many needle arts projects will have my time.

As we have a quiet evening and consider what we need to do the next week, I hope you are also enjoying a quiet evening. The week will be another busy one. And I will think of the room full of women and a few men who spent time yesterday with the Bombshells. Long may they reach out. Female veterans need them. I support that. Bless all of them.

Take care this week. Be purposeful about your work and play. Be sure to play. Let’s see each other again tomorrow.

Bombshell Patriots

The Bombshell Patriots of Nebraska held their first Nebraska Conference today. All I can say is I’m blown away. As a new contributor to the organization, I was proud to be there. I was also a vendor, with information on grief from the Centering Corporation, and VFW Post 2503 information, along with some info from the VA itself. The FBI had a recruiting booth, Wounded Warrior represented and sponsored lunch, and VA Nebraska attended as well as others.

Bellevue High School (sorry, didn’t hear if it was East or West!) ROTC presented colors. Alyssa Flood, the Founder of Bombshell Patriots, is a force to be reckoned with. I did not realize she is not a veteran (it doesn’t matter, does it?), and she founded the organization after the grief/anger/angst/frustration from the death of her veteran friend. Grief can be destructive, isolating, overwhelming, or daunting. No one wants to talk about it, much less deal with it.

Alyssa took action to help her deal with it. She is helping female veterans take action to get the help they need during deployment and/or during the re-introduction into life after the military. Of course, there are agencies available through the government agencies like the VA. Do they return all the phone calls? We heard from a couple of veterans who had mental health needs who said a loud “NO” to that question. We heard a female MG question, “Why does she have to wait until Monday?” Good question.

No veteran, male or female, should have to wait, to fend for themselves over a weekend when they need help now. It is no wonder many give up. When they can no longer fend for themselves, they just want the pain to end. That is not on them. It’s not necessarily on their families, health care providers, or anyone specific. From what I heard today, it’s a combination of all the above. Inadequate support for mental health issues is common. Why?

I am certainly no professional in the field; what I can tell you, is our society has hidden any references to mental health issues, treatment, education, and knowledge just came out of the dark ages in this respect. I had a great aunt who had bipolar disorder (manic depressive). The poor woman suffered terribly. They committed her to a mental health facility (Our Lady of Victory) on the original St. Joe’s Hospital campus. She had shock treatments. I don’t think that helped her. I remember being told, “Now, don’t tell anyone she is here, or that we came to visit here today.”

#1 – Who was I going to tell?

#2 – Why couldn’t people talk about it?

It is a shame we whisper about and ignore the number of people there because out of our ignorance. Mental health issues are rampant through our society, military related or not. After what we put our veterans through, why whisper about it or, worse yet, why ignore it? It’s not going away.

Alyssa Flood is now on the front lines as an advocate, referral point, and unrelenting friend to female veterans who need it. Some have families who can help. Many don’t. Why not? Most of us don’t want to ask for help. It’s not a male or female trait, but it’s for sure a veterans trait. Bombshell is a place people with nowhere to go can land, in a safe place, until it can lead them to help if they want and need it. What we’re doing isn’t working. We have to do better. Our veterans deserve it.

Many veterans do not live near family; are emotionally distant; or don’t want to involve their families in their problems. Many don’t realize they have a problem. And the unraveling begins. The risks and prices are so high. It can be frightening. The pain is everlasting. I witnessed it today in a Gold Star Father’s eyes. I will never forget that look. It’s haunting. Fresh as the day it started. We need to hear what these families have to say. We need to listen. And we need to act. Just as Alyssa Flood did. And the speakers. What wonderful speakers there were.

I met some people I only knew online. I hope to talk with them all more in the future. This organization will continue. It will be strong, growing, and effective. We all need this to happen. Most of us don’t know it yet. And we hope we don’t. Until that knock is at the door. And we cannot stop what happens yet. The grief. Oh, the grief.

As I reflect on this day, this gift of a day, with all the ups and downs of the feelings, I am grateful to all the speakers, the educators who don’t give up, the survivors, patients, participants, the veterans who take their PTSD and make beautiful things from it, the music, the artwork, the networking, and the friendships that result. You are all America’s best. Our soldiers. Our protectors. Thank you. Thank you all.

Tuesday Topics

Remember the Billy Joel song, “I’m Movin’ Out”? Mama Leoni’s was the restaurant mentioned in Little Italy, New York City. On Rachael Ray today, she talked about going there as a small child; about their food and their service. It was sweet. From the song, you could smell the neighborhood and take in it’s culture, and you could feel it as Rachael Ray talked today. Wonderful stuff. Maybe you should check YouTube for her show and the song. I’d bet it’s out there.

Do you have memories of food/cooking/baking from your childhood? The smell of rising clover-leaf rolls fills my nostrils when driving past Grandma Jewell’s home on Center Street. She’s been gone from there since the 1980s but that memory will stay with me for my lifetime. I think of her as my hero.

I also know the smell of Nestle’s Chocolate Chip Cookies baking. Mom made a batch every week. They were my solace after being bullied at school. I developed a sugar addiction that I still court today; truth be told, I’d go for dessert every time. But eat it first, because life is way too short.

My family went out rarely for dinner. Dad worked nights, but had every Sunday and Monday off as his weekend. Once in a great while, we would go as a family to Piccolo Pete’s for dinner. It was a favorite of Dad’s, just down the street from where his Standard Oil Service Station was located. The dining room was nearly empty on a Monday night right after they opened. Dad had a favorite waitress who always waited on him. That was the term back in the day. Pro Writing Aid flagged it as not inclusive, but heck, that’s how life was then.

Our folks always ordered spaghetti and meatballs for us. That is the only time we ate that dish. Mom never made it at home. It was a real treat. Probably the cheapest thing on the menu for a laborer and his family. The room had a mirrored ball in the middle of the dance floor. Few lights were on, and the outer edges of the room seemed dark and mysterious. We saw the grand piano and some horn instruments behind it. I imagined what it must be like to sit in that room while eating dinner on a Saturday night. What a scene played in my mind. Just like in the old black and white movies.

I believe the sense of smell can either provide wonderful memories or terrible ones. It took a long time for me to smell wet sand and suntan lotion without feeling like I would wretch. It was part of the trauma of experiencing my son drown at the age of 5 1/2. PTSD existed back in 1979 but no one knew what it was. The best advice was “just don’t think about it.” How Dare They!

I was pregnant with my daughter, and I’m sure she felt the trauma just as I did. My little boy, 2 1/2 years old, felt it. He was terrified when his brother went to school. He kept asking if brother was in the hospital. We finally walked Frankie to school, and went into the building, entering the classroom so Nick could see where his brother was. He stopped asking and became less afraid. I didn’t. It took a long time.

Now, when I smell those two things, I recall the tremors in my stomach, but don’t have them. I recall the blessing my son’s survival has been. From that point on, I believe he has a special kind of soul. My kids are all my besties, along with the Babe. From that near loss, I learned I could survive some very hard things. And I have. We have. I’m forever grateful for all of it.

Have a beautiful day today. Find your blessings. Even those that come from tragedy. It’s all part of living life. See you tomorrow!

Eventful August, 2021

Does life sometimes happen so fast and furious your head spins? This month has been quite eventful, both in good and bad ways. I feel compelled to examine my goals and replan some things. Life is moving along at a breakneck speed and I am not at the moment. With the loss of our friend last week, it’s kind of got us in a quandry. And we took Saturday and Sunday to get rid of the tree in the yard from last weeks storm and just chill. And that’s good.

A few years ago, on our way from visiting our daughter and family, we stopped just inside the Nebraska State Line to the west. I always look for some small book or trinket to remember where we’ve been. I was drawn to the book shelves, like always. I saw a medium sized book titled, “Voices From the Plains.” Its an anthology for the Nebraska Writers Guild. Until then, I was tinkering in my head with the idea of writing a kids book. I bought the anthology and read about half of it.

Now, three years later, I’ve decided to take the risk of submitting at least one entry for publication in this year’s Voices #5. I will submit the first chapter of my novel for scruitny. There is also a naming contest. Each entry allows a name submission. Cool beans, eh? I’m fortunate to have met some great people and we have befriended each other as time goes by.

My first conference left me feeling like a fish out of water. However, I didn’t give up. I still met a few people; Tammy Marshall, an author from Nebraska is one session I enjoyed. She is now a retired teacher and active writer. She does a newspaper column and has recently published a book, “The Ticker Tape.” I’ve ordered it from Amazon; it’s about a Vietnam Veteran and his experiences after participating in a parade (belated) to welcome Vets home. It is a catalyst that unleashes a series of events. I look forward to reading this story.

The second conference was great! I sat with many women at all different stages of writing. Some experienced, some not, some trying to find their voices. Good people with whom we’ve kept in touch. I look forward to the next one. I prepaid for the last spring conference, which was a zoom conference, and I have not watched the videos. They are no longer available to us, but I just don’t have enough time for it all.

From upper left photo, I’m intrigued by this “Live a Great Story,” company. I am putting a 4″ sticker on my car, and will wear my lapel button proudly. It reminds me to use the good silverware, tablecloths, etc. Don’t save it for tomorrows who may never come.

The middle photo was posted by our friend Joyce Tiger today. Her husband Rick, singer and songwriter is hospitalized with COVID and double pneumonia. Prayers will be appreciated. If you’d be so inclined I’ll share the link to the Go Fund Me page created to help with medical expenses. Thank you!

Mission Roll Call is a group to support Veterans who suffer from PTSD. The whole debacle in Afghanistgan is triggering a lot of feelings. Strong feelings. Feelings like no other a civilian ever felt, most likely. Offer to listen, offer to give them a ride, reach out if they’ll accept it. We cannot be losing any who are on the ledge right now. Offer to be a bridge. Don’t give up on them; don’t let them give up on themselves. I’m sharing like crazy right now on the VFW Post 2503 Facebook page; offering help if it’s needed. We’re checking in on our vets who may not be in a good place right now. Encouraging and supporting. That is one thing we need to do. Have compassion for our fellow citizens and human beings. I have a deep love and respect for you all. Let’s talk, ok?

My to do list and my Ryan High School Reunion mug remind me how quickly life can turn on a dime. No more putting off doing what I’ve always wanted to do. At this point in life, it can all be over before we know it. “Those books ain’t gonna publish themselves! Neither will them blogs!”

The last photo is of my new bands supporting causes I believe in. “22 a Day is 22 Too Many.” Sadly true. It hits home in a million ways. I’m seeing so many people hurting right now. The Vietnam Vets know exactly how these Afghanistan Vets feel. They’ve lived it. Thank goodness there is hope for the younger guys and gals. They won’t be ignored for 40 – 50 years. Help is out there. NOW. Let us help you find it.

So many life-altering things happened in the short first sixteen days of August. I shudder to think what else may occur during the next fifteen days. It’s in God’s hands for sure. Enjoy each and every day for what it is, all on it’s own. You have the power to make them great ones, even in the face of adversity. Let’s do this together. Work on making your story a great one. I am. See you tomorrow! I’ll tell you more about something else we took a risk on then!

Musical Memories

The day before yesterday, I wrote about some music from the 60s and 70s. Just pleasant tunes and thoughts. Another group who played music I loved were “The Young Rascals,” who became “The Rascals.” At our high school dances, I loved whatever garage band we hired who could sing those songs. “Good Lovin,” “Mustang Sally,” ” I’ve Been Lonely Too Long,” “How Can I Be Sure, “In the Midnight Hour,” and who could forget, “It’s a Beautiful Morning!” Right after “Saturday, in the Park,” right?

With my 50 + 1 High School Reunion coming up August 6, I’ve been pretty reflective the past few weeks. I suppose it goes with the territory of being graduated into the world for 50 + 1 Years. As I look back, music of the times was an enormous factor in how I dealt with life, former marriage, loving my family, making friends, and how we operated as a family unit. A friend told me in 1982, “Love on the Rocks,” by Neil Diamond makes me think of you.”

It’s all there, the love songs, the breaking up songs, the positive, encouraging songs about love and loss, and changes people go through during a relationship. My first husband was content just to be who he was forever. I grew up and wanted to be a partner in the relationship. Sure, from his side it was perfect. I did everything he needed, with the house & kids, and he controlled everything. Me included. I needed more. I wanted to go to school and eventually work. He laughed. Well, there had to be another way.

There was. Another song. But this time, there was another one playing. About building walls around your heart. Dang if the Babe didn’t see right through those walls and destroy them. And there have been plenty of other songs along the way. Now, songs about people with the start of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. Asking for someone to remember for them, to help them remember. It’s all part of this part of life. Very poignant. Very moving. I pray the Babe and I don’t have to deal with this. We have two friends who are right now; and one woman lost her husband earlier this year. I cannot imaine the pain involved with this. My heart hurts for them.

What can we do for those who suffer? We must be patient with them. We can help keep them safe. We can offer our friends a respite from a spouse’s care. Most importantly, talk to them. Hug them, if they allow you to. Don’t just talk about them and not interact with them. Listen to them. Include them in activities and conversation. Be Kind.

Truer Words Never Spoken

One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen was Glen Campbell and his family chronicling his decline with Alzheimer’s. His last album, “Adios” was beautiful. And his song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” tears my heart out. But it’s true, it’s real, and it happens to our friends, family, neighbors, and peers. Just as the music of most of our lives includes young love, first love, breakups, weddings, divorces, loss, sheer joy, beautiful days in the park, and mid life crises, it includes carrying on after loss of memory, altered brain function, and loss of spouses. It’s all part of living. The good and bad. The highs and lows. You can’t soften the blows when they happen. You can cope with it, however.

I am so happy music helps me through all the rough patches of life. I hope it can help you through, too. On the other side of this pain, this life with all of it’s ups and downs, is joy. Joy of babies and toddlers, of friends and family, of helping others. Please, keep going. Please, find a way to cope. Your friends are with you. I’m with you. Let’s help each other along.

If you are a veteran, suffering with PTS, get ahold of your local chapter of Guitars for Vets. We have Guitars for Vets Nebraska in our area, and our VFW Post 2503 is having a fundraiser for them and Moving Veterans Forward on Sunday, August 1, 2021; from 11 – 3. We have a Car Show, a Silent Auction, a 50/50 drawing, merch items for sale, and food available. We’re collecting Auction items this week. Help to help people through music. See you tomorrow!

Independence Day, 2021

Freedom is the right to choose; the right to create for yourself the alternatives of choice. Without the exercise of choice, a man is not a man, but a member, an instrument, a thing. Archibald MacLeish

Archibald MacLeish was an American Poet and Writer. I believe he held many positions in his life, from WWI soldier to Secretary of State for Public Affairs under FDR. During WWII he assisted with development of the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA. He was a very intelligent man, and worked to promote the arts, culture, and libraries. I love this quote; it’s not only true, but necessary for us to understand the meaning.

As a kid, Mom made all of our decisions. That is perfect when you’re under a certain age. When you get to be a teenager and Mom decides on your clothes with no input, how are you supposed to learn? Gosh, I didn’t get to pick out anything until I bought my own things. Once I learned to sew, I was on my own. No more old lady stuff – at least that’s how it was set in my mind. No freedom, no rights. Once I attained the freedom, the responsibility became mine also. I enjoyed that very much.

I was raised under the idea the man is the head of the house, the woman was the heart. Mom disciplined us, and did pretty much everything a “housewife” did. Dad was the provider and the handyman. I carried that idea with me, along with some kind of antiquated ideas and silly fantasies perpetrated by movies, songs, and television shows, that didn’t serve my first marriage any good. We both thought little of me. By the time I wanted to get life insurance on myself and he said, “No, it’s my money. I don’t need it on you. Your mom will watch the kids.” I knew things would never be the way they should be. No freedom there. Lots of responsibilities, but no gratitude shown by the other grown up in the relationship. I invited him to leave, and the kids stayed with me. Free at last, thank God Almighty! Free at last. And more responsibility. But I craved the freedom.

It was frightening yet exhilirating. I named my slavery and accepted the only way it could change. It took fourteen years for me to meet the Babe; God wasn’t ready for us to be mates yet. Once we were, I looked long and hard at the questions; Would I lose my freedom? Would I become dependent again, and lose my say in decisions? Would this man be offended if I made more money than he?

I gathered the courage to ask the Babe those things out loud. He may have thought I was nuts. But I needed answers. We talked and he was very kind to me when he said, “Why would I do that to you? We are a couple, and I want you for my wife, and I would not take away any freedom from you!” As for being offended if you made more money, he said (in his best Sam Elliott voice), “Have at it, Sweetheart.” I’ve enjoyed my freedoms, hard fought and earned.

Name your slavery. It could be a bad marriage, alcohol, drugs, being a control freak, whatever. Whatever causes you lack of freedom, let it go. Divorce it, go to rehab, go to therapy, set yourself free! Life is meant for us to live freely. We are lucky to live in a nation where we can practice all the inalienable rights set forth in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

Your naming your slavery is your truth that will set you free! I shudder to think where I’d be if I hadn’t named mine. Life is so amazing, I’m so grateful. We have blessings to many to count. Life as a free woman is beautiful and fulfilling.

As you ponder your own personal freedom today, be grateful for the American Soldier, who have fought for centuries to keep us free from aggression from other countries. Our civil liberties are ours just by being American citizens. Let’s give thanks for what we have; thank a soldier. Be kind today. Remember many soldiers with PTSD are dealing with problems from the noise. Be aware many pets are dealing with trauma from the noise also. Two years ago tomorrow, we lost one of our beloved pets from a fireworks related response. Someone left out gate open, Roxie and Lexie ran out, and only Lexie came back. Roxie was killed in traffic two blocks from home.

The grief was crippling. I started blogging regularly to deal with it. I told her story. You listened. And now, we are close to 700 blog posts later. Thank you for reading. We lost Roxie, but we gained all of you. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday’s News and Thoughts

All over the news the past two days were a 6-year-old girl and her mom, with a video (Mom took) of a shark coming up to the little girl just feet away from the sandy shore. Mom filmed the whole time without intervening. I get it happened quickly, and Mom maybe didn’t have time to grab her girl. (See? I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt.) It’s hard for the Mom in me to fathom not grabbing the girl first. Things could have turned out differently for that family. But by the grace of God go I. I never thought my son would drown, but he did. Revived (several times), he is perfectly normal. Thank God. But by the grace of God go you, too.

In Nebraska, there is a new license plate to raise awareness about childhood drownings. This is not something you every want to witness or survive in your lifetime, believe me. Even though we were lucky that 1. He survived. And 2. He escaped brain damage. The time he was without oxygen (our estimate) was long enough he could have had brain damage. Somehow, the water must have been cold enough (it was a chilly day), his systems slowed because of the temperature. It is by the grace of God we get to celebrate his 50th birthday this year. Yes, I think about this whenever there is a report about this topic. I’ve dealt with the PTSD (undiagnosed) that followed. The mere smell of wet sand or suntan lotion could drop me to my knees in tears. All my doctor (I was pregnant) could tell me was I had to not think about it. I always knew it was more than just get over it. My then-husband said the same. God’s been good to me, and I’ll never forget it. But now I can manage. I can talk about it without crying. The emotions are still there, but don’t trigger the tears, the shakes, the gut-wrenching stomach spasms.

It’s hard not to judge people (parents) whose kids have terrible accidents. I’ve been there. Because of the news coverage my son’s drowning had, a cousin told me if she hadn’t known me, she would have thought I was a terrible parent. She knew better. I try to stop myself from judging. We all have to realize it could be us. Pray for them instead. Never let the words, “my kid would never . . . ” pass your lips. Kids will do whatever they think they can get away with. Even good kids. Part of being a kid is learning to make better choices. Hopefully, you get another chance to. Some poor decisions result in death. Teenagers need to understand this when they drive.

Is anyone else having a bad allergy day in Nebraska? It’s half cloudy and breezy. My right eye feels like it’s on fire, and allergy meds haven’t helped yet. Next step, eyedrops. Hard to do with mascara already applied. Well, that helped little. Trying Mango Tea next. Already took meds. Bear with me! I’m aware a lot of you suffer as well.

I think I’ll take it easy the rest of the day. The symptoms are all better now, and I hope they stay that way. It’s supposed to rain later that should help all the allergy sufferers. Off to drink lots of liquids and rest. Have a beautiful afternoon. And take your Zyrtec! You’ll feel better.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate you spending the time. We’ll meet again tomorrow. And we’ll all feel better. Be Kind. Be Generous. Help a sister out. And treat others how you’d like to be treated. It’s hard, but you’ll feel better for it. Until tomorrow, be happy as these folks are. “Achoo!”