Today’s Blog

#963 and Counting.

Good Saturday evening, from the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. It’s been a long but great day.

Got my flowers panted in all their containers today and carried them to where they’ll live. Watered them after carrying to where they’ll stay. Lighter to carry. It was wonderful to be outside from about 8:30 a.m. until about 11:00 a.m., not a care in the world. No thought what time it was. No thought about having to hurry and go do an errand or meet someone. I could concentrate on whatever I wanted. Note to self: need to do that some more. It was great.

I neatly trimmed all the therapeutic sewing I did yesterday (the threads were terrible). I’ll probably press them tomorrow. This is how I need to approach getting stuff done daily. There is a certain grand feeling of accomplishment just doing a lot of little things and having them stack up to bigger things.

The Babe is home tomorrow, it will be the first time in a couple weeks he is. And Monday is Memorial Day at the Post. We will attend. The Babe has several ceremonies to attend with the Honor Guard. It’s all in a day with the VFW. Memorial Day is one of my favorites. The reason? We stop to thank the spirits of the heroes that went before us. We wouldn’t have such a peaceful life as we do if we weren’t free, thanks to them. I hope if the time comes in the future, there are people to step up and fight the good fight.

This newly minted 70-year-old woman is feeling every bit of her age right now. Lots of hard work I’m not used to; but it felt so good. Right now, I’m retiring to the couch with a good book to think about what we’ll do tomorrow. I hope you have a beautiful evening. See you tomorrow!

The Three C’s: Cause, Control, Cure

In dealing with other people, I’ve read it’s important to keep these three C’s in mind:

You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it.

Wish I’d known this years ago. In my codependence years, I thought if I was just “better” I could make Mom happier. Then she wouldn’t be so upset at everything all the time. I stayed in my room a lot, to be in the quiet. And through life, there have been those less than good relationships with the same cause (codependency) where I truly believed if I helped them, they would want a better life. Nothing is further from the truth.

I’m talking boyfriends, relatives, friends, many folks who just seem to need something they don’t have. Truth of the matter is, they caused their problems; controlled them; and they were the only ones who could cure them. End of conversation. Nothing was my fault. As a parting shot, many a codependent boyfriend tells a girlfriend like me, “It’s your fault. You’re a nag. Gained weight. You think you’re better than anyone.” Nope. Not buying it. Never again. Their excuses and addictions are the product of their poor decisions. Nothing else.

So, what can I control? Not much, but for my mood, thoughts, actions. You know, the usual. I’ve written I’ve been off all week. Maybe I found a cure. I sewed together 42 beautiful quilt blocks this morning. There are six rows of twelve each. I’m trimming threads and going to press them later. Then, they go up on the design wall downstairs in the “bedroom.” I’ll show you tomorrow. Truth is, I was losing my hope. I could have worried about the grandkids all over the country. Instead, I did something I’ve been missing a lot. Want to re-sharpen those skills up before beginning my grandkids’ quilts for Christmas.

I am doing something positive and my heart feels better; less burdened, more hopeful, and happier. I didn’t cause this. I cannot fix it, nor can I cure it. I can only do what I can do to heal my part of it. It’s really all any of us can do.

Of course, you’re entitled to opinions of what we should do. We’re not entitled to be hostile towards each other because of it. Let’s all work at making our part of the world kinder, at least for a while. Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow!

Thursday Things

It has been another busy but slow day. Had another dentist appointment. It was just too hard to get going after that. Unsure why. Then I realized. I saw an article discussing the feelings adults have when too many emotional things (all bad) happen – our bodies make us feel tired. We feel like we have to retreat. It’s a safeguard for our mental health.

Some folks would declare that as bunk; I do not. I told the Babe while we were at lunch, I just wanted to go home and cuddle with the dog, hiding under the covers, and stay there. No particular reason; (except it’s the 907th day in a row with clouds, rain, chills; spring in Nebraska). After seeing that article, I believe the mental health safeguard is true. Yes, it’s far from us, but we are involved. And we should be glad it affects us and distracts us. It means our hearts are still working as they should be; it means we care deeply about humanity. I’m glad to know that. Sometimes I am concerned I have become so used to terrible things happening I’ve become jaded or calloused. Happy to report, I’m not.

Tomorrow, I’m sitting down with my illustrations and book, and inserting them. It will help me kick-start my momentum again. Hoping over the weekend I can open that new box of my sewing machine and set it up. Might have to reconfigure the glass-topped desk I use to double as a sewing table. That would force me to clean up the area after writing, sewing, working on my book, etc. It would keep things more orderly, like I used to. I fell into the bad habit of leaving the sewing machine open, with the project out, and things look very messy. Let’s see how it goes. Whatever it takes to get more done in less time.

Tomorrow, we will spend more time looking at the children’s book. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Learning to Trust During These Times

Much is written in the past week regarding the mass shootings in the United States. Our society is at odds with each other over the latest school shooting yesterday. It rips our hearts from our bodies, no matter who you are, what your beliefs are. Second, Third and Fourth Graders. Oh my Lord. How can this be?

Up front, I am not smart enough to figure out the problem. I am smart enough to know there is not one cause. I am smart enough to know it isn’t simply a matter of gun control. Criminals and mentally damaged people will not comply. Be realistic. How can we be realistic and not lose our hope? This is the challenge. Are we up to it?

By example is how we teach our children the best. What to do when they ask if they are safe? We can tell them they are safe with us. They are safe with us, as safe as anyone can be. We cannot make promises about anything and must be careful not to. Only make promises you are certain of keeping.

We have grandchildren who face going to school every day, and I’m sure these questions come up in discussions with their parents. One daughter and teen granddaughter were in an outdoor mall last summer when a fight broke out with a large group of kids. Our daughter ushered her daughter to the back of the closest store, away from the door, away from all the windows. If there was gunfire, hopefully, they would be safe. They were together, which is what was important. Parents need to be realistic and teach their children how to be as safe as they can be in any situation. The son who is in law enforcement has taught his son how to be safe in a crowd. We need to have the skills to survive, and the skill to remain hopeful in our world. We also need hope to survive.

Please stop comparisons. They further divide us. We need to continue having hope. How? I believe it helps to remain grateful. It’s hard right now. Start at home. Safety. Love. Hugs. Security. The same we had after Sandy Hook and all the other horrible shootings. We need to convey the concept of faith to our children. Faith and hope go together. It’s not God’s fault these things happen. It’s the human frailty and evil left to fester and grow like a cancer in some people that is to blame.

We need to admit when our loved ones are mentally ill. We need to stop the taboo of “don’t tell anyone.” Just because we think, “he’s really a good boy,” doesn’t make him so. This person needed help. I cannot guess what kind. Normalizing admission of mental illnesses makes it much easier to treat. Help should be easier to get. That’s where laws and health care can start. Other options can follow. People smarter than me will have to figure it all out.

We will view news coverage of funerals, sadness, and talking heads. We are outraged, and many lose hope in America. By doing nothing, we assure ourselves of the same. Let’s start with mental health. Let’s make sure our kids understand there are consequences to everything. Don’t let them get away with wrongdoing because you have the money to buy them out of trouble. It will hurt you and your child down the road, and possibly someone else. We all need to be more responsible with our actions, our words, and our examples. Let’s start now. See you tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to The Babe!

Seventy-two years ago, the moons aligned, the sun was in a perfect spot, and they deemed it; I would celebrate life everyday once we met. The Babe was born. Thanks, Liz and Gene! If I could have custom-ordered a man to love me and my kids, I wouldn’t have known all the qualities to ask for. Yes, parts of this paragraph are exaggerated for effect, but come on, man! It’s my story!

Yes, we’ve repeated the header photo is a repeat of our Birthday dinner(s) with the kids. One vow I have is to take many photos of the two of us. I have a lot of other people in photos, not so many of us together. Might as well do that now, while I can.

We had some nighttime visitors; either of the opossum or racoon variety. Lexie pulled a bunch of baby bunnies from their nest in the ground, inside our back yard. She didn’t harm them (thank you, soft-mouthed Labrador mixed mutts), just moved them. The Babe further moved them beyond our fence-line. I think they were being fought over by the nighttime visitors. Lots of some terrible noise. It may be an early nap for me.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to drop my Bernina off today. It could be as simple as the electrical cord having a short, to the computer component being out. At any rate, I’ll check our the price of a new machine and see what they may give me on a trade-in. I’ve also found dealers for a Janome (wonderful quality) and a Brother. Both have their own dealerships within ten minutes from our home. It will be worth checking around.

About ten years ago, I remember seeing elderly grandmas (in their 80s), bringing in their new $5K machines to take classes. I was temporarily envious of them. I don’t wish to spend that amount of money on a sewing machine, although it should last the rest of my life, you know; another 30 years. It’s one thing Frankie discussed Monday at breakfast. “Will you get enough use out of it?” Since I’ll have more time as I age, it makes sense. I still don’t want to spend $5K, however.

I’d rather use that to publish my books. I will insert my drawings into the kid book manuscript on Wednesday. It should be fun. When we pull the trigger on that, I want to introduce you to my graphic artist, Jordan Ullom. She is incredible. I love her heart and her commitment. She has some solid art experience since graduation last year. I’m as excited for her as I am for myself.

I think I’ll have a full page for her. When I introduce her to you, we’ll also release the two more new pages to the website, The Jewell Publishing LLC page and the Grandma Kathy page. It is a fun time ahead. Thanks for being along for this ride. It’s been a great day with the Babe. Tomorrow I’ll fill you in on my new Brother SE 1900. It’s a gem, I believe. It’ll be fun to learn a new machine. See you tomorrow!

The Day After Birthday

This morning, it was still darkish out, but the bed was empty of both canines and the Babe. I heard nothing going on in the living room. They can’t have gone far. I listened to the birds for a while and dozed. It was heavenly. I got up and saw the family on the couch, all snuggly. It was sweet.

And sharing coffee amongst good mornings is such a wonderful thing. I’m not the griddle cook getting the husband out the door, or the kids off to school. I’m his equal. He’s my equal. Yes, we sipped on our coffee for another hour. It was sweet. Other married couples may not think this is a big deal. I really noticed it today. I noticed because it was missing from my life before the Babe.

I know many other women of all ages who haven’t experienced this kind of laid back before in their lives. Many, many women and even men haven’t experienced this in a relationship. Much as I was told, it doesn’t happen; it does. Single friends, take heart. Leave your heart open, but protected.

I met my son, Frankie, for brunch. It is like visiting the best part of yourself to meet your adult kid out. It was the best catch up there was. He is always in a good mood and satisfied with his life. We laugh about if I am an old widow someday and need someone to monitor me; he would be the one. We make up scenarios and I know he’d always help me out. Seriously, I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Today was a followup visit to the ortho doc for my shoulder. Over the past six months, I’ve had three injections for pain. If this doesn’t help, it’s on to an MRI next time. Hoping it’s not a torn rotator cuff. But if it is, we’ll deal with it.

Yesterday, I checked out my sewing machine before getting ready to make the grandkids in Colorado their quilts for Christmas. I plugged in my trusty Bernina Activa 220. Nothing worked. The lights didn’t go on. Nothing responded. Carried it to another room, electrical circuit, and plugged it in and turned it on. Nothing. Tomorrow, it goes to the Bernina Store. I hope it’s not expensive or I’ll be shopping for a different machine. Cross your fingers! Good thing I started early on the Christmas projects!

Have a beautiful evening. I need to get some ice for the shoulder. See you tomorrow!

70 & Still Counting!

That would be me! Today is my birthday and it’ll be just another day, according to the Babe’s take on things. Gavin has a game, we’ll go watch, it’ll be laid back and quiet. Kind of like every other day. But I know I’m celebrating while living our regular life.

This morning, I googled “Things that are 70” and got some strange answers. Kurt Russell and Michael Keaton turn 70 this year; so will Angelica Huston. The articles harp getting healthy, and that isn’t lost on me. Thing is, my cholesterol has always been great, BP and other things, too. I backslid about 10 pounds by eating whatever I wanted, and starting Wednesday, I’m getting rid of all the junk (food) in the house and be healthy. Yes, there’s no day like the present to start, but c’mon. It’s my birthday! Wednesday will be fine!

Sometimes our expectations exceed reality. Little children love birthday parties. The thought of friends, food, fun, and gifts gets them giddy with excitement. The thoughts of the same things from a parent’s point of leave them tired, broke, and ready to end the party early. Too much noise! In either case, the reality of the party may fall short of the child’s ideas and even pale compared to the mayhem the parents expected.

As we get older, events are often half as vivid as our expectations – for the better or worse. If we go somewhere expecting to have a bad time, we will most of the time. If we join a new group and know people won’t like us, they probably won’t. Because we don’t give them the chance to know us. Winston Churchill once said:

“This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts.”

Give yourself a gift today, for my birthday. Let go of outcomes you imagine. Have no expectations, but hope for everything. Don’t disappoint yourself before you give yourself a chance. Often, things turn out much better than we can imagine.

Don’t rain on your own parade. Be open to new things. Lighten up. Be open to joyful surprises. After all. It’s my birthday. Anything can happen! Thanks for reading. See you tomorrow!

Relationship Health

Today’s handy dandy reading begins with this quote:

A relationship can’t be healthier than the people in it.”

Wow. Is this true or what? If you have repeated mistakes over and over with your relationships, perhaps your model is faulty. In some homes, anger isn’t expressed verbally. Silence reigns supreme. And if you have a major player who slams doors, cupboards, drawers, etc., it plays out as a rather noisy display. No one argues out loud. The kids learn to avoid confrontation but to be noisy with objects under certain circumstances. Not healthy when you learn what all that means.

Next door, you may find a household where they yell and throw things and the whole neighborhood witnesses the anger and it’s results. There may or may not be physical bruises on one of the adults and/or the children. This is an extreme, but it’s real for some folks. Sometimes, an adult or child has bruises on their spirit. Those are hardest to see and heal. It may take a lifetime.

In the book, “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz talks about what he calls, “Domestication and the Dream of the Planet.” In this chapter, he says everything we experience is a dream. While we are awake and while we sleep. When we are awake, time becomes the material frame that makes us perceive things in the order they occur. While sleeping, we do not have a frame, and dreams change constantly within the subconscious. Often, we do not remember the dreams we make while sleeping.

Ruiz further speculates before we were born, all of society through the ages combined their collective dreams into one mass dream which he calls the dream of the planet. Within this structure is the dream of family, community, society’s rules, beliefs, laws, cultures, school structures, events, holidays, etc.

As humans, we’re made to dream. What happens when we’re born is we become part of the dream of others. They dutifully teach us all that is in their dreams for us, along with what society deems necessary. Wow. That’s heavy!

As children, we learn to follow what catches our attention. It could be the soothing voice we heard before birth, which we learn to call Mama. For some children, it is the yelling heard before birth, which they learn later is their Mama. Both children will behave differently with their Mama because of this early conditioning.

We discuss attention a lot in these times. I think a lot of outside influences alters length of attention span. You cannot give a kid a video game on your phone constantly as a calming device and expect them to have a long memory or attention span. Again, they behave differently because of this early experience. Other influences include school, religion, and other groups which are repeated over and over. They become part of the child’s dream, without him or her accepting or rejecting them.

Just think, we have learned how to behave in public, at school, in church, and at the local amusement park all because we watch and mimic those around us who have given us our dreams. Not everyone likes the same things, yet we all believed Disney World is truly the “happiest place on earth.” All it takes is a walk through the giant cafeteria areas at meal time to see all the upset children, angry parents, and over-tired babies to make me question if that statement is true. I question that.

Hooking the attention of others is a major marketing plan. Our teachers hooked our attention to learn; our pastor or priest hooked our attention to worship God; Mom & Dad, Sisters or Brothers, all hooked our attention to soothe us, teach us, correct us, and believe. If our attention isn’t hooked, we don’t store the information they offer. As kids, we believe everything adults say.

Ruiz calls this the domestication of humans. Just as our pets, domesticated by humans hooking their attention, babies and young children are also. The difference? Your pets don’t (usually) question the truths they learn during the process. The outside dream teaches us how to behave. Reward vs. Punishment becomes the driving force. In school, if we don’t keep quiet while the teacher is speaking, we are punished. If we do what we were told, are rewarded with a good grade.

We (hopefully) learn to keep the law, obey our elders, obey the police, and everyone around us

We are also taught how to judge others. Do they follow our training? No? Why not? A different belief? Oh wow. Mind blown.

As we grow up, we learn to judge others. Michael M. was a smart alec in 8th grade. Got in a lot of trouble because he smiled all the time. The other kids labeled him a troublemaker. We didn’t want to be like him. We didn’t want to be in trouble. I remember once I stated my mind in an essay for school. I used the term, “No matter who doesn’t like it,” when stating my choice in music. The principal called my mom and told me I disrespected her. I learned to keep quiet.

We pay for our mistakes repeatedly in our lives. In a world where true justice exists, we’re found guilty once and serve our time. But humans have the terrible trait of holding a mistake over someone’s head forever. I remember, for about 35 years after divorcing my children’s father, Mom reminded me constantly, “I never wanted you to marry him in the first place!” Yes, Mother, we heard you the first 300 times you told me. R

When a two-year-old says, “NO!” through the balky teenager, to the one who doesn’t feel as if they belong in a family (and there are many of us) sometimes there are those who question things. Their parents, other adults they admire, and society. Some never do. They go along and get along fine.

Ruiz takes time to tell how the definition of hell can be all around us. It’s an idea which could make many depressed. He suggests we are only alive when we risk, take a chance. Risky behavior aside, starting a business at 69 years of age is my risk for last year. Publishing my first book will happen while I’m 70 years old. I am so excited about this part of life on the horizon! The biggest risk I ever took was at 30, divorcing my husband. I had three kids, no full-time job yet, but I knew I had to do it. It all worked out better than I could have ever planned and plotted. I truly believe God timed all those events out in His plan for me and the kids. I was living in hell. It ended when I acted outside the box, the rules, the limitations of my upbringing. That isn’t a slam against my parents. It just didn’t work for me.

Yes, I was the black sheep for a long time. But so what? Yes, it was lonely. Some of us can live without the vast network other people need. Being unconventional is now an asset. You want people in your life. You know darned good and well you can live without them. Some friendships work out, some don’t.

Of course, the Babe and I have talked about when one of us passes away. It will be awful. Because we’ve both lived a long time, we know we won’t die from it. We know we have to keep living. I can only speculate what that will look like. I can just pray to God to guide us when that happens, as will the Babe. Faith takes us a long way in life. And sometimes we have to rely on that alone to go through life’s trials.

Ruiz continues and suggests we need a new dream. That makes sense to me. It is what I learned when I accepted change is inevitable in life and we must change as we learn and live. My life turned out so different than I expected. It’s full of living, love, and resembles nothing I could has dreamed of as a child. Once I took that enormous risk in 1982. It’s been a great ride. I’m grateful and ready for much more.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin my 70s. I look forward to them and having you journey with me. This is going to be some kind of fun. See you tomorrow!

“30 Red Dresses”

A novella is longer than a short story and much shorter than a novel. It could be between 40K and 175K words. That is quite a range. The definition talks of a simpler plot, fewer problems for the protagonist to resolve, etc.

This is a fiction story for young adults. It is hard for me to clarify genres. There are over 47 listed when Googling “genre, books.” That is quite a few. I purchased the book after hearing author Johan Twiss speak at the Nebraska Authors Guild Conference in April, 2022. Johan impressed me with his presentation and wanted to experience his writing.

The story is about modern day slavery, a/k/a human trafficking. It is one of the most despicable things a powerful person can do to a less powerful one. The fact these are children entrusted to family members when parents die or are ill makes it even worse. An uncle sold his eight-year-old niece to a brothel owner. What a horrible man and deed.

These sorts of things happen all the time. The story took place in Cambodia. I could picture the girls very will thanks to Johan’s descriptive writing. With the language differences among the characters, and how integrity, honor, trust, and safety communicated by their actions was shown. Great writing by showing, not telling. And as if the evil antagonist isn’t enough, there is a flash flood threatening their very being. It’s non-stop action.

This is a story our teenagers could learn a lot from. We are so safe in our country most of the time. There is the ugly underworld of human trafficking in certain parts of our culture, too. Runaway kids often find this the only way they can buy food or shelter. By then, it is too late. They are indebted and their innocence lost. Drug and alcohol abuse is common.

I am so grateful my brothers and I had parents who did their best to take care of us and keep us as safe as they could. All families have troubles, all families have some defect. We have our issues, but nothing like these poor children experienced. It is a real eye-opener for sure.

On another topic:

When we think we have removed prejudices from our lives, sometimes we are unaware we have merely rearranged our prejudices. What? Prejudices in our lives are very difficult to overcome. I’m talking about our prejudice against ourselves. As adults, sometimes we still believe all the untruths we were told about ourselves as children. If you were constantly told you would never amount to anything, you could be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. If you are achieving and still have a doubt about the old messages you had about yourselves, your achievements will pale compared to what they actually are. Your mind and spirit need healing.

Only through healing will you discover you may not really know the limits of your skills and abilities. Your prejudices against yourself may be based on ignorance and a lack of genuine reflection. Can you analyze your abilities and skills objectively? If you believe you’re much less than you are based on what you’ve been told either by others (whether family, friends, co-workers or whomever), you need to ask better questions. Who said? What is the foundation of that idea? Is it true? If your answers are your cousin, because you’re a girl (you can’t do whatever), and it’s false, you have proved them wrong right there. See?

If someone says you can’t be a writer, you’ve never done this before, and you published a best-selling book, and earned a million bucks, they are wrong. We can prove lies and prejudices as wrong. Get busy! You can do this. Become a thinker, not just a believer in what they have also said about you. Don’t believe it any longer. We are not who our prejudices say we are.

Let’s experience the freedom of deciding what we want to believe about ourselves. Make your own conclusions about yourself and your abilities. It’s a new found freedom which will propel us forward and into the lives we deserve. You won’t be sorry you examined your ideas. Your future self will thank you for it. Thanks for reading today. Let’s see each other tomorrow.

Grief. Confusing?

Yes, it is. There are several stages, and you may rock back and forth between them. One minute, you may recall wonderful memories, and suddenly, painful memories rear their ugly head. The feelings are contradictory, and totally normal. The key is to learn how to navigate among them. Ignoring them does not work. I tried.

Applying alcohol or drugs to the pain is counterproductive and causes other problems. My siblings and I tried that (no drugs for me, just alcohol and withdrawing), along with never talking about Dad. Mom usually became angry when we did. Years later, we individually compared notes, and learned a lot. We also learned to share the happy memories and enjoy talking about him. It’s much healthier and we could move on then.

The thing is, the feeling of choice for many people is anger. All that does is try to blanket fear. That doesn’t work, either. Fear is usually unfounded, unless it’s a twelve foot grizzly bear in the Montana wilderness growling in your face. Then fear is very justified.

Fears originate from the unknown. Often folks who are fearful think they need to execute every move according to their rigid plan. Our plans, foiled by life, often are useless. Yes, knowing what your life work is and achieving the education and experiences to realize that plan is great. Sometimes, the plan, spoiled by life events like death, loss of financial support, unexpected pregnancy, and a host of other things, does not work out.

That doesn’t make you or me a failure. You will feel grief. Your plan cannot work right now, but maybe later. Maybe you need a better plan, a different timetable or different source of revenue.And yes, you can be angry with the situation. Remaining that way will affect your life in very negative ways. You will become negative. Getting through the anger is hard work, but worth it.

Feeling guilt for things said or not said, things done or not done is also normal. Those are mistaken sentiments, especially if you feel, “I should have . . . ” or if you feel as if “I’m being punished because I . . . “. God doesn’t play with us like that. He wants to comfort us.

At long last, the frustration, exhaustion and fog lifts and we can accept the change the loss has caused in our life. It is our life, and it won’t be the same. Sure, we’ll still be sad from time to time. We won’t find ourselves lost in it, though. Life goes on. We need to live ours while we have the opportunity.

Acceptance does not mean forgetting the loved one or the dream. It means putting it in a place where you can remember without pain or anger. Acceptance means the loss is a fact in life. An ultimate fact. And you have healed your way there.

Thank you for reading about something most of us would rather avoid. Living again is the best result of all. See you tomorrow!