Today’s Blog

Agreements and Baseball.

No, I’m not talking about those highly inflated contracts in MLB. I’m talking about applying Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements to the game of baseball, down to the lowest level of T-Ball. It’s tournament time in our select baseball world and the team had a pulverizing loss yesterday. Three innings. The opposing team was exceptionally good for being in the 9U (Nine & up) category. Many were star players on their own. They stole every base they could, running up the score. Nothing makes a first year playing together team lose their will to live than running up the score on them when they’re struggling.

The only talk there was among them was how good the other team was. They were good, and mentally, our boys were defeated before the first pitch went out. I just want to share this as the coaches do every game, but with different words.

Tell yourself the truth about you. You are a good player and not doing anything wrong. Sometimes, others teams will beat us. You are not at fault. They’re just better. Let’s work harder so we’re better.

Don’t Take Anything Personally. It’s not your fault. All of us make mistakes. That’s how we learn. Let’s work to learn more.

Don’t Make Assumptions. Just because they’re a top ranked team doesn’t mean we’re going to lose. We need to work together and be our best today.

Always Do Your Best. Put your game face on every game. Keep your heads up. Be confident. Don’t give up until the game’s over. There’s always a chance if you all do your best. Keep your heads and shoulder up. That’s a winner’s posture.

Play Ball!

All of this takes practice, both for body and mind. It’s nothing that happens overnight. And it’s not for just 9U Select Baseball teams. It’s for all of us. For life. Share as you see fit.

How I wish I could have been stronger willed as a kid. The bullies would not have stood a chance. During my entire 7th grade, no one would speak to me. A nun confronted me about the older girls in choir. She wasn’t there one day and the 8th graders (I was in 6th) were talking. Monsignor Aughney told her about it, she picked me to ask if they were talking.

At that time in my life, I would have confessed to kidnapping the Lindbergh baby when confronted by an adult in power. I wasn’t going to lie to a nun, not with the threat of sin held over my head. I violated the kid code, I ratted them out. When we returned to school, there was a lot of giggling at me, making fun of me. One day, I remember specifically, a boy who later became friends with me in high school, walked after me while barking like a dog. Let’s just say, it was not a compliment.

My face burned. The tears blurred my eyes. I kept walking. He finally quit. I kept walking, all the way home. No wonder I used to stop at the cookie jar upon arriving at home. Sugar was the thing that made me feel better. Well, sugar and listening to music. I’d hide in my room, playing music, (not while doing homework), eat Mom’s Toll House Cookies like my life depended on it, and feel better. 7th grade was pure torture. But I lived. Deeply wounded, but I lived.

Magically, I kept being myself. When 8th grade came around, the classmates all forgot about the narc among them. They all told me, “You’ve changed.” No, I hadn’t. They had. My self talk wasn’t good back then. Fat, ugly, dumb, can’t draw, you name it, I hated it about myself. Teach your kids to be kind and gentle to themselves.

This doesn’t mean sinful pride and boasting. Be yourself. Keep it in you. It works better. You get it. We’ve a few things to do before the noon and the 2 p.m. game. Hydrating is one of them! You do the same if you’re in Nebraska, it’s sweltering already. But there’s nowhere I’d rather be than watching kids play baseball. I love them all! Have a great day, and see you tomorrow! GO STORM CHASERS!

Fifth Step: Always Do Your Best.

Imagine my surprise this morning, as I turned to The Fourth Agreement of the Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz: Always Do Your Best. We think we do, but we really don’t. My dad preached to all of us to do our best. Whatever we do, do it with every bit of our being; homework, building a science project, or as adults at work. Do it to the best of our ability. Why?

Ruiz says if we do our best, we live intensely. We’re more productive (I’m all for that!). You’ll be good to yourself as you give yourself to your family, friends, community and everyone else. It’s in the act you feel good. I can tell for myself, as I’ve rearranged my morning time spent, I’m creating more. I’m getting started on feeling accomplished. I’m getting things done. My stress is less. Yes, I can see the future I’ve been working so hard at for the past few years.

Most people have jobs instead of careers. They are miserable and can’t wait for whenever payday is, welcome the weekend with open arms, and dread Monday morning. During my single mom years, I suppose I was a bit of a workaholic. I’d work for the OT on Saturday mornings. My kids were old enough to stay alone, watch cartoons, and pour milk on their own cereal, while I worked 4 hours from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Once home, we’d start on cleaning, laundry, doing yard work, etc. I miss the energy but not the stress that came with it.

Yes, many people misuse those two days called the weekend. Chances are, deep down, we’re unhappy. The work is dull and boring but we need the benefits. When you’re unhappy, you try to escape; into more work, going to the bar, and the rest of the story isn’t pretty. Sure, I visited drinking establishments; I had to see what the hype was all about. It took about a year for the luster to wear off. I quit going out, looked forward to staying home with the kids on Friday nights, doing laundry, and being grateful.

Once we accept ourselves, learning from each mistake, we develop stronger personalities. We learn to stand up for ourselves. Things don’t bother us. We can say with total honesty of our word, “I did my best.” I can tell you, living a life with chronic pain and disability since 1995, many days, my best is disappointing. No one but me is judging, but I’m learning to know it’s nothing I’m doing on purpose, it’s simply the hand I was dealt at age 43. Yes I’m used to it; I know what to expect. About every five years, I become significantly worse. Part of it is aging, a lot of it is my condition. I remain grateful to God I can still walk, drive, see, and create beauty for my world.

Further, Ruiz tells us when we enjoy what we’re doing, it isn’t work, you’re doing it because you want to, not because you’re forced to do it. Sure, there are minor things required of us to live in society, living with others, we just do them. Laundry, cleaning, mowing the yard, they’re must do’s to live in a neighborhood with others. I consider them to be necessary evils. I thank God I have many nice clothes, a nice home, and we can see what we’ve worked for. The Babe helps a lot. It’s how his mom raised him. Thanks, Liz!

When we are in the process of action, we are living. We are experiencing living fully. Inaction is siting on the couch watching TV. Sure, I succumb to it now an then, but then realize how fruitless that is. I enjoy a good Netflix binge just as much as the next person. I just don’t allow it all day, every day. I can’t. If I would, I may as well cancel my website, my blog, my works in progress, give away all my fabric, art supplies . . .

Ruiz also says when you live, keep your word, never assume, don’t take anything personally, and do your best, your life will be happier, fuller, and reach further into the universe. Who could hope for more than that? What a great way to live.

Last summer, while our friend Lenny was experiencing declining health, I came upon the company, “Live a Great Story.” I have lots of their stickers, magnets, and shirts. It’s a motto I love, and it’s one that makes me remember Lenny. He was generous to a fault, and kept it hidden. He was somewhat of a curmudgeon until he saw a little kid. Then he lit up. At his funeral, I learned what a generous man he was. He lived a great story, that’s for sure. Dang, we miss you, Lenny. It’s so quiet at our table on Wednesday nights.

These four agreements are staying in a handy place. I will refer to this book often. It will certainly help me putting my kid book out and returning to my novel. I have grown to love my life, despite it’s areas of loss. We were not prepared how to live life older, less agile, and less energy. You cannot make a machine out of the human body, to defy it’s limits – whether the limits are age, accident, illness, disability.

We can conquer doubt and fear by learning to take risks – putting your art out there, your written word, your quilts, your creations. It is possible, and probably the best thing you can do for yourself. Art heals. Quilting heals. Writing heals. I believe it’s my purpose now. Write and help others heal.

My schedule is changed for today. The Babe called to meet for lunch. I’d adjust. It’s what you do when there are two of you. Someday, one of us will not be here. We need to enjoy each other now. No regrets. Have a beautiful afternoon, we’ll see each other tomorrow.

Dad with Grandpa Jewell. Had to have been after WWII.

Fourth Step: Don’t Make Assumptions.

How many times have we heard this? Too many to count. Assuming things sets us up to believe wrongfully something is true when it’s not. We all do it. It’s hard to conquer but we have to try.

Miscommunication is what fouls business deals, ruins marriages, and complicates friendships. Many deals, marriages, and friendships end as a result. Do you seem to have that happen a lot? Are you making assumptions? Are they about what others are thinking or doing? If we carry those assumptions without clarifying, we tend to take things personally and spew poison their way. We don’t mean to. It is the result of misinformation. How about we ask the other person what their intent is, what they think, and what they believe? We are most likely way off base.

How to remedy the situation? Ask for clarification. If it is not provided, check yourself. Stop any assumptions immediately. Chances are it may not even be worth your time. Yes, it’s hard, but learn to stop. It’s for your own peace of mind.

Whenever we make assumptions in a relationship, we discredit our significant other without realizing it. If we don’t communicate our wants and needs, thinking they should know these things, we expect them to read our minds. No one can do that. Early during my writing, I asked the Babe if he wanted me to stop because it took so much time. He said, “No, I don’t. I know it’s important to you, so it’s important to me, too.” Wow. I was way off base. I had to ask how he felt to learn that I was operating under a false assumption. I’m getting better at asking, that’s for sure.

Let’s stop creating drama around our assumptions. Growing up, I remember seeing on television and in the movies, a husband was clueless about something the wife wanted. She would tell him, “If you loved me, you’d know.” How silly. We are not mind-readers. The wife would pout, the husband would cower, and ugliness would ensue. Would you want to live like that?

Our different levels of make believe are interesting. My fantasy is different than yours, the Babe’s, and our BFF’s. The only limits are within our imaginations. We can have a very active fantasy life, based on assumptions about a smile from a stranger, a Facebook friend request, and those emails from Nigerian princes. You can pretty much bank on the fact the prince is out to fleece you, and the 20th friend request from “Eric Hill” or “Eric T Hill” is bogus. He tells all the girls their posts are wonderful and your face is beautiful. Won’t you send a friend request to him?

Seriously, watch out for weird, harassing messages. It’s the hazard of having a public page, but being an author demands a public page. Reporting and blocking does little good. It’s exasperating.

But back to the precept of not making any assumptions. Those are some good words to live by. Keeping our word impeccable, our not taking things personally, and not making assumptions are some good advice for all of us. What do you think? We have the Fourth Agreement tomorrow, as our Fifth Step. Get Ready! Your life is about to change, right along with mine. Hope we all get to a happier living arrangement, with good words to spare.

Off to do some work on my children’s book today. I’m e-mailing a copy of the work in progress to the printer for his advice. Exciting! Have a wonderful afternoon, and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Be safe out there, stay hydrated.

Third Step: Don’t Take Anything Personally.

Yesterday’s Agreement, “Be Impeccable With Your Word” sets the mood for the other three agreements. Being prudent with your words, positive talk to yourself and others, helps pave the way for you to not take anything personally. How?

Remember, people say negative things when they’re not in a good space, when they feel inadequate, and they try to poison us with their venom. Don’t drink from their cup! Deflect their words, their negativity! Right back at them! Remember, this is not about you. It’s about them.

Personal importance is the place in life where people think everything is about them. And most of life just isn’t about them. It’s about each individual in their own scheme of things. The Babe knows a lot about where I am at on any given day, but he only experiences it through his perception of me. He cannot experience things as me.

If you can not take things personally in the midst of a fire fight, you have it made. Truly. Let them eat their own emotional garbage. This is particularly hard if you grew up in a household with alcoholic, narcissistic adults. It takes more of a conscious effort to not take things personally. Still, it’s about them, not you. This one was hard for me. I’m getting much better at it.

If you react when someone is talking, thinking what they’re talking about is about you, you start a lot of conflict. Conflict over your position on any topic, how they violate you, how you’re too busy, how you think you’re complying with what they want, on and on and on. Back the truck up. It’s not about you. It’s never about you. Why do you think you are so important? Why so defensive? What makes you think it’s about you when probably three people in the room are as guilty as you are. They’re simply solving a group problem. Don’t muddy it up.

When you stop taking issue with what other people say, think, express, and do, you free yourself of a whole bunch of negative behaviors. Envy is gone. Your jealousy and anger are gone, too. Wouldn’t that be nice? You no longer react. You don’t get angry. What a difference in everyone’s life, especially yours.

This is short, but has much food for thought. No, we won’t master these overnight. I think they make perfect sense towards living a better life, don’t you? There will be two more blogs about the last two agreements, tomorrow and Friday. Then I can let you in on a couple things that are pretty exciting. Life is getting better every day. Hope yours is too. See you tomorrow.

Second Step: Be Vigilant.

Yesterday, we talked about resisting the temptation to lollygag, not beginning our tasks or behavior changes. Once we decide to dig in and do something, we need to be aware, it can be human nature, in general, to let our new schedule, resolve, or whatever you want to call it, slide. “Just this once, it won’t hurt,” “No one will know,” “I deserve this.”

To the contrary; it will hurt, you will know, and you also deserve to have positive habits in your life. Do you want to get things done or let them go? It’s up to you. Your choice. No one else’s. Aren’t you better than that?

Compromising when you are just starting out just sets you up to fail. Keeping discipline for at least 21 days is the only way to begin changing a bad habit, changing policy in an organization for the better, or meeting a personal goal. That’s one reason why I blog every day. It’s important to write every day. It becomes a habit then. Some days, I have skipped, and I know I need to start over. Some days it’s not as good as others. I know that. Some days it’s very good and feels that way, too. When I can arrange words, thoughts, and feelings to leave me feeling good, I know I’ve used my ability well. It’s something God gives us, and we should use whatever the ability is.

This is another reason I’m excited to get back to THE Virtual Quilting Bee Facebook group. It will set me back on the creative path of quilting, which I’ve missed so much. Creativity comes from me in several different ways; and I still want to learn drawing and painting. With cutting back on our volunteering, the Babe and I will have time for home, each other, and other things we love. It’s a hard decision to make, but it’s time.

It’s amazing how things all lay out to mean more when you put them together. With what I’ve said so far, and yesterday, I see how these things fit so well into the teachings of the book, “The Four Agreements.” It is a Toltec Wisdom Book, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book was written in 1997. It amazes me I haven’t come across it before. I know why, though. It is at this moment in my life that the concepts in this book will make sense to me. Things happen the way they do for a reason. I believe in this.

That’s why I felt so impacted by the First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word.

Now, that doesn’t so hard, does it?

Ruiz tells us about the power of the word. We speak and we can either empower growth and progress or we can destroy and devastate. It’s our choice. Did you think you have that much power? I sure didn’t think I did.

When we are honest, have integrity, and speak our truth we honor not only others but ourselves. Impeccability means “without sin.” While no human is perfect, what we need to try and do is not use our words to diminish another. Telling a child they’re fat, stupid, ugly, or no good will make them believe they are indeed fat, stupid, ugly, and no good. The adult was not impeccable with their word.

Conversely, another person may tell the child they’re just right, smart, handsome, and wonderful. How differently that child will carry on!

At our 50th Class Reunion this summer, I was a little surprised at how nice all the girls were. As a nervous teenager, I didn’t think anyone liked me. No boys asked me out at all. My first husband already graduated by the time we dated. The words to me were fat, incapable, not very smart, and one who wouldn’t listen to my mother. All that comes back sometimes. Dad was all for letting us figure things out. Mom said, “No use going to college, you’ll never finish. I’m sure you’ll get married before you could graduate.” End of discussion.

My words were wrong. The girls really did like me, they sure welcomed me that night last summer. How different things could have been! The whole idea of sin is what religions thrive on. A sin is anything against ourselves. Being impeccable acknowledges when we do wrong, and we take responsible for what we’ve done. Blaming and judging is absent. Nothing good comes from that.

Many of us have learned to lie to ourselves, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. When we are honest with ourselves, we are impeccable, we experience growth and good. When we are not, we experience death and evil. It may sound harsh, but if we use our word to spread ill will, we are living in hell. If we are impeccable with our word, using our word to spread love, hope, faith, and light, we are living in the most heavenly place there can be on earth. Wouldn’t that be spectacular?

The continuation of lies, inaccurate descriptions of us, and living in hell is avoidable. Only use kind words on yourself and others. Create harmony instead of strife. Create love instead of hate. Live in heaven. Love in heaven. Love yourself. Love others.

The worst use of the word is gossip. Nothing destroys good relationships, good working environments, and good organizations faster than gossip. From gossip comes rumors, from rumors come negativity, from negativity comes destruction. The truth shall set us all free.

Think of your word today. Keep it impeccable. Keep it civil, and heavenly. Make our world a better place. Make your mind a safer place. Be careful out there, it’s terribly hot and humid. And we’ll see each other tomorrow.

First Step: Resist Temptation

We’ve talked many times about breaking bad, unproductive habits.

I’m reigning my life in again, lots to create, only so many hours in the day to do things. Yesterday, we spent a couple hours with Gavin and his family at the ballpark again. It was hot, but not bad. There was a slight breeze, we drank a lot of water, and it was good. We stopped and had pizza on the way home. The header photo is our view from the deck yesterday morning, during coffee. I love it!

I’m tickled with my promise to me and you to start on my grandkids’ quilts for Christmas gifts. Yes, it’s early, but they take a lot of time. And it’s a perfect way to get used to my new Brother sewing machine. So last night, I took the envelopes with the first two sets of blocks. They’re from JoAnn’s Fabric Store. I decided to hand applique, so took the steps necessary to cut out the pieces with freezer paper adhered. Maybe I’ll take pictures later so non-quilters can see what I mean. It’s a start, and I’m happy about that.

This morning was the true test. The Babe left just after zero dark thirty to get to the Post and load the blank ammo into the rifles for the Honor Guard this morning, then load the rifles in the car for transport with some of the guys to Omaha National Cemetery.

It’s already hot and humid, but cooler and less humid than where we’re headed today. Took the watering can and dogs out, watered the flowers on the patio, played with the dogs a bit. When I came back inside, the national news was on. I just can’t tolerate hearing any more speculation about shootings, riots, and all the other stuff. I think we’re in a pretty frightening era. I flipped to the guide on the remote. Ahhhh. Chicago PD. All day long.

Without the promise I just made to the world, I would have plopped down and vegged out for awhile. But I resisted. Sounds silly, but I’m so proud! I’m really doing this! It takes baby steps to get started, and I’m there. It’s only Monday, but here we are. It is progress. And that’s a lot in breaking bad habits that waste time.

Coincidentally, a Facebook Virtual Quilting Group I’ve been part of for years, has dwindled down, not meeting every Wednesday as we used to. To honor a beautiful soul, Vickie W Calkins, we have decided to start meeting again. Vickie passed away unexpectedly last week. She had such a big heart, both for people and our pets. When we lost both of our dogs (we had them cross the Rainbow Bridge together; they had always been together and they were both ill), she sent me a couple of beautiful keepsakes; coffee mug and a necklace with paws on it. She was that kind of person. We will miss her.

This really speaks to the good of social media. A group of 91 women from many different places, forming in 2012 (I think) and forming friendships, exchanging quilting knowledge, and even recipes. I’ve made some good friends. We’ve shared victories, losses, ill health, and lots of life’s gifts. Another very sweet woman, Jan Kutschinski, suggested we make it a point to become active again, to honor Vicki. I think it’s a great idea.

One of the things I’ve discovered in life is God sends me messages about what I should be doing. I believe Jan’s idea for THE Virtual Quilting Bee to become active again is one of those messages. I’ve been wanting to dedicate a day to quilting for a long time. Now I’ll actually do it. Thanks, Jan. And Vicki. Motivation comes from many places. Check your life! You’ll see some, too. Sandy Long, founder of our group, thanks to you, too. Because of all of this, I’ll get more of my creativity back.

And now, I have to get going on other household stuff before it’s too hot to water the flowers outside, straighten out a few things, and get started on that quilt. It will be a very productive Monday. Stay hydrated today, folks. It’s beastly outside, and should be over 100 degrees with high humidity several times the next week or two. Welcome to summer in Nebraska. Check on your elderly, young kids, and yourselves. Heat Stroke is no joke. Be safe. See you tomorrow!

The Hope in Music

People can talk about how rough the Pandemic, lock-down, and ensuing time has been on us. We are supposed to be nearly back to normal now. After that rough time, I deemed Billy McGuigan and his brothers, (international touring entertainers living right here in Nebraska) Ryan and Matthew, to be the cure for COVID. They were the first live show we saw, socially distanced, after the long quarantine. It restored my hope in life continuing.

Once again, last night we attended the last show, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” in a 3-show run at the beautiful Sumtur Amphitheater, in Papillion, just down the highway from us. (Do I sound like a small town-girl?). Only when I heard the fantastic band play and cast sing did I realize how off I’ve been from all the constant bad news this year; the children killed everywhere while at school, the economy, prices spiraling out of control. My soul has been given hope again. The hope there is in music.

For the first time in my memory, the show had an emcee other than Billy, who emceed the first night. The second night, Julie Cornell, of KETV Newswatch 7 emceed, followed on Saturday by her co-anchor, Rob McCartney. They are both great people in the community and regular people. He added some humor about the huge storm that passed through about an hour before showtime.

The show’s musical director was Matthew McGuigan. He had a different presence onstage last night. He is a genius with music anyway, and was much more animated last night. He comes up with some really fantastic arrangements; they make full use of the vocal ranges the women and men have. It is a thing of real beauty to all your senses. And the instrumental parts are always top shelf. What will he think of next? Great things, I’m sure.

Not only did I regain hope in the world, but seeing all these younger people Billy has brought into his talent pool are all so good, so full of promise. They will carry the torch of hope forward for all of us. Each night of this three gig run, a student from the McGuigan Arts Academy selected one student to be featured with the band as a lead guitar solo. Last night was a young man named Miles. He was fantastic! Had his first band photo taken and posted. He played well, and, most important, he had the rock-star-head-motion to move his massive head of hair out of his eyes. That’s the critical part, boys and girls! The header photo is his very first band photo!

I’m delighted to see Cartney McGuigan co-wrote this production, utilizing her love of all things acting and singing. She also was the best stage manager (giving Kate Whitecotton a chance to sit and enjoy the show!). Here’s a link to their website, to read about all the great performers; Erika Hall Sieff, Nina Washington, Evelyn Hill. Jesse White, Ejanae Hume, and Julian Hinrichs. Check out the other shows scheduled for this year; Willie Wonka, Pop Rock Orchestra, Yesterday and Today. It’s the real deal, folks. See these shows. All of them. You will love these people as I grown to.

Below, I believe was one of the first time Ciaran McGuigan performed with dad, Billy. I share this because you see the young man, feel he’s a bit nervous, but is determined to do this. Glances to his band mates help. The beautiful Beatles song, Yesterday. It’s from December 8, 2019.

It All Starts Somewhere





Now that your eyes are sweating, fast forward to last night. In this photo, to the left, the young man with the red guitar, is also Ciaran. I feel like a grandma (well, I guess I am one) saying I cannot believe how he’s grown! Not only in stature, and maturity, but also in guitar playing. He is to be watched, believe me!

Ciaran has the red guitar. And he has a collection to switch off with, too. He’s as tall as his Dad & uncles! (sorry guys, it had to happen).

Check out McGuigan Arts Academy. If you kid is going to have any kind of lessons, they may as well learn from the best.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, guys. Know that your hard work is appreciated so very much. You do what gives me hope for life again. Go see them, wherever they travel. billymcguigan.com is where you can find schedules for all things related to these guys. If you live in Iowa or Nebraska, he’ll be at Davies Amphitheater July 9. Well worth the $15 at the door. And it’s a beautiful place, too. Perfect even if it’s hot outside.

It’s a humid, hot day in Nebraska. So glad the show didn’t get rained/stormed/tornadoed out last night. Figure out what your dreams are and follow them! They could lead you somewhere fantastic! I’m making time to get back to mine, and I’m much better when I’m creating. Gonna be a great week! See you tomorrow.

Understanding Life, Backwards?

So here’s the deal.

“We can only understand life by looking backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Soren Kierkegaard

Wait. Isn’t that an apparent contradiction?

No, it’s the truth. By examining our family history, we learn more about ourselves, not them. It isn’t genealogy. We may know our family tree backwards and forwards. That isn’t what we need to learn. Where we came from is important, and it’s quite a hobby now days.

To understand ourselves and our choices in life, we must examine our past to find out why we do what we do. Why we are who we are. And especially where our feelings come from. It’s a lot of hard work. Many of us don’t want to do it. If you’re like me, and feel as if you didn’t fit, you were different, and still don’t understand some things we feel and why we’re where we are. It’s very hard. You may not like the answers. But you have to ask the questions.

The key to all of this investigation is to do it with compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. We owe that to our parents, grandparents, and our children. My dad’s family was different, so was mom’s. And you take two people who don’t know each other’s inner lives, they marry, have a family, and then you learn about each other.

The kids inherit things from generations back. Things like never talking about feelings, keeping secrets, and being so stoic you hold back even love, out of fear, fear of others falling short again, not loving you as you need to be loved. Toss in a man’s PTSD from serving in two wars, and a woman’s dysfunction from being an adult child of two alcoholics, and you really have an interesting concoction, to say the least. They did the best they could.

I am stating facts here, not being judgmental, whiny, or looking for pity. (Pity is the last thing I want). By examining your past, you come to understand yourself better. Sometimes, you realize a parent is toxic. Other times you learn how to still deal with a family member who uses you. You learn to set boundaries with your family, which can be an absolute necessity with some family members. If you can’t imagine this kind of situation, I’m so happy for you. It’s the reality of many, many people all over the world. I’m glad you’re not one of them.

For those of you who do understand, I’m sorry you went through this. And, I encourage you to learn how to overcome this bad treatment. It is hard, but so worth it. If you are care giving to the person who belittled you, you are a wonderful human. You have forgiven them enough to offer them the help they need. You need to have boundaries as to how they treat you now. It’s necessary.

Having a person who understands the situation helps you get through this. Talk with them. Let them help you realize your loved one cannot help how they are until they want to change. Yes, it’s obvious they need to. But they won’t simply because we point out their shortcomings and abuse. It’s always our fault.

I promised my dad, as did two of my three brothers, that we would watch out for Mom. Mom was 59 when he died at 64. I was 37 at the time. My heart hasn’t recovered from that. He was my champion, my biggest fan. No, I was not a spoiled brat of a child. I’m glad. It all helped make me a strong woman to weather all the storms of life, keep my shoulders squared, my head up, and walk through fire. No one ever knew I felt like unset Jello, wobbling all over the place inside. They couldn’t see that. I’m grateful to God, every second of my life, and how we arrived here.

All of this said, I love my family. I love Dad for being the man he was, son of a father who was in an orphanage for many years, an Irish woman who had a mean father but a heart of gold; I love Mom for the years when she would put such love into Christmas and Thanksgiving, help me with my kids as a single Mom, the daughter of two people who were raging alcoholics in their younger years but were loving grandparents; I love the memory of a brother who is estranged from all of us by his choice; I love the brother who checks on Mom many times a day, who has a sense of humor that was built on Loony Tune Cartoons; I love the brother who is constantly conquering his addictions, he has grown up into the man Dad always said he would be.

It’s a risk, sharing all of this. You don’t end up satisfied with life by forgetting the past. You only end up grateful and happy by working through things. Avoidance always gets in the way. Guaranteed.

Find your way through the past and focus on what’s in your present and future. It’s the only things we truly can have control over, by our attitudes, intentions, strength, and knowledge. Finding out what’s important to you, who you are, and who you want to be. Work hard. You won’t be sorry, trust me.

Have a beautiful day today. It’s new and exciting and yours, not theirs. You’ve come this far. Keep going. See you tomorrow! I’ll tell you all about the outdoor musical we’re going to tonight, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” another production from Rave On Productions. Praying the rain passes by us.

Be Bold.

Oh dear. When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, girls weren’t supposed to be bold. That was taken as impolite back in the day. We couldn’t question anyone, since our fathers, mothers, teachers, and anyone else knew what was best for us. And, if you didn’t marry by about 25, you were destined to be an Old Maid. Sad, eh? Oh, and when you got married, the man was the head of the house, and you were the heart. Wow. Well, I didn’t make a good choice in husband, and I found a voice and disagreed with his decision making. About everything. Money, kids, everything. I wanted to get a job at a doctor’s office. He laughed. We went to counseling. We got divorced. I got a job, an education, bought my own home, and have had a very happy life.

It was the first time I chose to be bold. I could no longer be passive. It gave me a terribly nervous stomach, muscle spasms in my gut, and the feeling I would throw up all the time. Stress. Everyone’s friend. That stopped when he moved out. Ah, peace at last.

Of course, there were other stresses; money, visitation, all sorts of things. And it all worked out. What I loved about it was no one was questioning, arguing, poking fun at my decisions. It was peaceful. I could breathe again. I became better at making choices in everyday living and I gained confidence and energy. It was a lot of hard work, and worth every bit of it. I am a grateful woman.

It does take courage. It also requires patience. Patience with yourself, your decision making skills, your development of those skills and others, and the navigation needed to change your route when needed. I never thought about it that much before, but it was brave, and hard, and lonely. I’m so grateful. I learned to recognize opportunities and later learned to create my own opportunities. God led me to a wonderful life.

I like to share that growth process with people now. I’m not describing situations I’ve experienced to gain sympathy or place blame. I describe it because I remember feeling as if I didn’t belong; funny thing was, I didn’t. Still don’t. But now I know why. It’s because I’m the one to break the curse, the tradition, the same way of doing things. I have different attitudes about everything than my mom does; it’s part of why we clash. She tries to make me like her, I resist. Always have. I need to be me. It will always be that way. I think a great deal about how what I say may make someone feel. No, it’s not my job to preserve their feelings. I do, however, need to be kind and sensitive.

I had a visit with my friend who had the stroke a couple month ago; she is home and seems to be doing quite well. I’m so glad for her. I’ll see her more often now. I miss seeing her every week like we did before. Probably since about 2013 we’ve seen each other once a week. It won’t be like it was, it’ll be a new way. We had square donuts. There is honestly a place in Omaha who makes them square. Actually a good idea, four extra bites. Nothing to turn your nose up to.

It looks as if it may rain again this afternoon. I feel a tiny nap coming on. Just enough to clear my head. Hope you have a great rest of the day. See you tomorrow.

This Day, Thursday.

I may have finally made a breakthrough with my procrastination, my laziness, and the bad habits I sunk to. Yes, I was getting sloppy about my dream. Easy to do when you wake, sit and drink coffee, scroll the phone, while watching the (depressing) morning network news. It’s easier with the Babe going to the Honor Guard duties very early. I need to have enough resolve to stick with it on the days he’ll be home.

One thing that made such a huge difference, I turned off the TV. I turn on this local radio station and listen to it instead. There are all the songs from my late high school years, and early married life. They spark so many memories! I’m enjoying the memories and the happy mood the music brings. It’s great.

I’ve assembled my second book cart, and kind of scoped out the table I’m trying out for the new sewing machine. I’m kind of on a mission now. Get those Christmas gift quilts started! I want to be sewing them by July 1. There you have it, I have publicly committed and will follow through. Schedule changes, projects, and attitude changes are all things to help people keep track of what the need to do to achieve their dreams. I got sloppy. Time to get back on track! Thanks for the help, friends!

Photo collage, above, Mira Hadlow is a new FB follow for me. I love her poetry memes, her posts, and just purchased her book. More on that after I’ve read her book. The Honor Guard letters were addressed early this morning, with coffee, on the deck. I read some of Donna Ashworth’s book of poetry from the pandemic. She is another FB follow for me. She writes so eloquently, I think most would enjoy following both of these female poets. They’re great.

Bottom row: My second book cart for my office. This one will truly have books in it! Part of the office/studio cleanup I’m working on. Middle photo, my haul from Hobby Lobby yesterday. I decided to heck with the plain, generic, white paper napkins? No, I decided to get pretty party napkins. And why not? Every day is a special day, a party for your life. The little door hanger says, “Bless Our Nest.” Goes with the bird theme I have going on for Spring. Makes me happy.

And the last photo? Grandson Gavin has another ball game tonight. The team had a bad game Tuesday. Dejected players everywhere. This is a pep talk my favorite coach gave them. Our son in law is such a good man. Good Dad. Yes, he has his days. We all do. His love of the game (which he got from his dad) shows in his interactions with these kids. He wants them to learn the right way. Just because some guys are coaches doesn’t mean they’re good ones. And I love most watching him catch for his son while warming him up to pitch. It makes my eyes sweat, to say the least. We get to see another game tonight. Good times.

Whatever you do today, celebrate it as special. You are. I am. See you tomorrow! Let’s get this done! Going back to the patio to edit my kid book now. Enjoy!