Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What do I wish people knew about me?

     Jamie Ridler's prompt for this Wishcasting Wednesday ties in once again to where I am working with my Living a Mind-full Year blog.

      My wish is not so much for what I want others to know about me, but for what I want to know (remember?) about myself.

      I lost myself somewhere.  In-between losing my house and savings and moving away from what had been my home for ten years, I lost who I was.  I lost my confidence, my security, and the knowledge that I could be anything I set my mind to... I got lost.

      Like the Tootles character in Robin Williams' Hook I feel like I've lost my marbles.

      I'm not sure if it is the current health issues I'm dealing with or just stress from a job I wish I had never taken, but there are days when I feel like things would be so much better if I just didn't have to play the games anymore.

      I want to remember (to know) how much I used to love life.  How much I enjoy watching sunrises and sunsets.  The feeling of the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and the smell of the rain.  The sense of security I feel in the arms of my husband, the strength I feel when my soul-dog Trooper leans into me, the laughter when my pug Henry draws back and showers me with sugar boogers.

      I want to remember (know) how to fly again... I want to find my marbles... and that is what I want people to know about me... that I am back in my happy place.

     As I wish for myself, so I also wish for you....

One of those days...



Unfolding Creatively

Don't just fly.

"Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be."
~ George Sheehan ~

"Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true."
~ Unk ~

"Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly."
~ Langston Hughes ~

Monday, January 30, 2012

Passing the time...

     I'm rambling for a few minutes waiting for the maps to update on my Garmin nuvi ~ aka the Cranky British Spinster.  I have pictures to upload from my other device to facebook, but can't use the same cord to hook it into the computer.

     I haven't updated the maps on my GPS since 2009.  Not that it has made a huge difference because I'm sure that Killeen hasn't made a lot of changes, but it is still nice to know all the latest and greatest.  It brings me back to a time BGPS... before GPS when men were forced by the nagging of their wife to stop and ask directions at a local gas station.  I can picture it now.  The guy walks in to the small local store, map in hand and says "my wife insisted that we stop to ask directions because SHE can't find the directions on the map."

     Yeah, right.

     It makes me think of a country song about collard greens and sweet tea and finding love in unexpected places because chance... not GPS brought you together.  Sometimes just hitting the road with no destination in mind is the best way to have the most adventures.  And even if it doesn't turn into an adventure worth remembering... it will be a journey you will never forget.

     Life can be like that sometimes.  We think we have the directions for where we want to go, know all the rest stops along the way, best restaurants, cleanest way stations  The boring life.  The "safe" life.  No surprises.  Everything planned out.  Scheduled.  Time allotted for every historic sign.  But life sometimes forces us into detours that turn out to be better than anything we could have planned.

     Once upon a time I thought I knew where my life would take me.  I had plans.  That white house, picket fence, 2.5 kids, 6.5 dogs (or was it the other way around?)  Husband making big money so I could be a stay at home mom and just do the school PTA functions and all those other mindless things that eventually lead to affairs with the pool boy and an addiction to pain killers.

      Thank God I escaped that.

     My life is far from routine.  Far from the same old grind.  Every day is a new experience.  A new smile, and something new to appreciate about my husband, my dogs, our few friends, and our life together.  Just the fact that he makes the effort to get me a beef stick when he stops to get gas makes me realize that I am loved.  And loved beyond measure.  More than I've every been loved before because I don't think that any of my ex's even knew what love was ...

      And to be honest... I wouldn't trade this life for all the money in the universe because I am loved.  I am appreciated.  And I am me.

Healing soldiers, one dog at a time

     Healing soldiers, one dog at a time, this is an excellent story about an awesome program! So often we think of "service dogs" as being those for the blind or paralyzed. This program provides dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD as well.

     For anyone that is a dog lover, dog mom, dog dad, dog friend... or a dog... you know how our "best friends" can reach us in our deepest, darkest times.

     I would love to be able to foster puppies, but know I would never be able to give them up. What I have been able to do in the past is provide care packages for Military Working Dogs and their handlers. A box shipped to a deployed team with toys, treats, dog shampoo and simple care items that the military doesn't fund.

     Dogs save lives... in battle and in peacetime. In the field and at home. Reach out and hug a dog today...


"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
     This gentle man, who sought freedom and peace for his country by ways of non-violent civil disobedience  was assassinated on this day in 1948, for of all things... his tolerance of people who did not share the same religious faith that he did.

     I'm always amazed when people believe that their "faith" justifies violence.  When they hide behind their religion as an excuse to murder, injure, or otherwise harm (physically, mentally, or financially) someone who does not believe as they do.

     It just seems that any religion... any faith... any belief system would be ... or should be ...based on love.  Love of self.  Love of each other.  Love for this world.

     All he was saying... was give peace a chance.  Just like the wise men that came before... and after him.  And for that hope... that faith... he was killed.  Just like the wise men that came before... and after him.

     It makes me wonder if there is really any hope for us at all...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Staying focused...

"3 You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." 
~  Isaiah 26:3 (NIV) ~

"I have gifted you with amazing freedom, including the ability to choose the focal point of your mind."
~ Sarah Young ~ 
"Jesus Calling ~ Enjoying Peace in His Presence ~ Devotions for Every Day of the Year"

     My Aunt Nan recently sent me a book that has helped her in the last year as she has faced challenges she never thought she would face.  Her strength has come from knowing that she has never been alone in her trials. Not just does she stand tall in her faith, but she has been supported by her children, her brother and sister, nieces, nephews, and many, many friends.  She has kept her focus on Him, and her trust in Him, and that has helped her to find peace with what she has been going through.
Are you just focused on the small things?
     My journey towards living a mindful year has brought some things into focus for me.  What life really boils down to is whether or not you are focused on the things that are tearing you apart... or the things that are holding you together.

     When we let go of the details... the small details... and focus on the bigger picture... focus on those we love, those we trust, and what we have faith in... doesn't everything always work out better than we imagined it would when we were focusing on the small things?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Go for a walk?

Justin Bonderach carries his dog, Jack, in a sling when the pooch refused to walk in the rain, Jan. 23, in Los Angeles.
      I love this. 

     Only because one of my previous pugs, Tink, used to have a real concern about her feet melting in the rain.  While I occasionally grabbed her by her harness and carried her like this if she tried to run into traffic, I didn't make a habit of it.

     Tink must have been the Wicked Witch of the West in a previous life.  We lived in Florida, and it rains more frequently there than it does here in Texas.  Especially during hurricanes and summer.  She probably would have liked Texas better.

     She would go to the back door to ask to go out, and if it was raining when I opened the door, she would look at me as if it was my fault then turn and go to the front door.  I tried to explain to her that the Laws of Geography were that if it was raining in the back yard, there was a good chance it was raining in the front yard.  But she never believed me.  Because of how my townhouse in Florida was built, it actually seemed to rain harder in the front yard from the rain flowing off the roof than in the back yard where I had a covered patio.

     Henry, my current pug, also has some worries about water and drowning but he won't let his bigger brother, Trooper, see his fear and will charge out in the rain along side him.  Both dogs know that following an outing in the rain, they will get a vigorous rubdown massage with a towel to dry them off.  I think sometimes Trooper actually acts like he has to go to the bathroom more often in the rain just so he can get a towel-down.

     Sometimes, we can be afraid to get our feet wet... but if we jump in and begin to swim, we sometimes find that there can be something pleasant in the experience... like a warm towel and hug when we get out.

     Life is like that...

Cash Mob!!!!

     I read an amazing article on Yahoo News the other day that just made me proud and grateful to be an American... a country that was founded on freedom and opportunity.
 In the early morning hours of Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012, Rob Schwind shovels the sidewalk in front of the Chagrin Hardware in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. The Shutts family, which has owned the hardware for the last 72 years, was preparing for a community-driven "Cash Mob" of the store to happen that day. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

     In Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a small family owned hardware store was the location for an "occupation" or "cash (flash) mob." [Click here to find out more about how to plan your own Cash Mob.]

     There wasn't any singing or dancing involved... until later anyway when the day's sales were tallied.  All it took was one person sending an email out to 40 friends asking them to help support a local small business by coming out and spending $20 that day.  Those 40 emails were forwarded to others, and by closing time that "small" business had expanded to become a large family of friends and supporters.

     The shop reminded me of a little store in Florida that my dad would always frequent.  Boyette & Casey Hardware. I've only been in there a few times, but it seemed like one of those stores where you would ~ and could ~ find anything you needed, and even those things you didn't realize you needed.  The parking lot is filled with oyster shells from the small family owned oyster bar across the street.  My memories of it from childhood were that it was one of those places like Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.  Full of magic and everything imaginable.

     In this economy of Wal-Marts, superstores and foreign-owned franchises on every corner ... where things are manufactured in China, Mexico, and anywhere else where the employers can get away with underpaying employees ... businesses whose customer service phones are answered by someone in India who has never even heard of Jonesville, Indiana; Millville, Florida; or Chagrin Falls, Ohio...

     I remember my Dad once commenting after he had bought a new work van that he was doing his part to help the economy by getting in debt and making vehicle payments.   In this tough economy where more small businesses have failed than ever before ... when more jobs have been lost than were created ... what if we were to do our part to help the economy by stepping outside the superstore boxes?

     Do you know of a small family owned business in your community that could do with a "cash mob occupation" this month?  Think about it.  Spread the word. 

     Don't wait for empty promises in Washington, DC to bring change to the economy... instead... bring your own change to that local shop and spend it making a change in how we do business in America.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Travels... It's a Small World, After All....

     My fascination with miniatures was probably started when we visited Madurodam in the Netherlands.  An entire city modeled on a real one, only 1:25 of the size.

     Even the gardens are detailed with miniature trees and shrubs carefully tended so that they fit the dimensions of the city.

     Lifetimes later, I visited Michael Garman's Magic Town in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Like Madurodam, you could walk thru the town as if you were Gulliver.

Magic Town

    One Christmas I decided that it was never too late to have the childhood I'd always wanted.  I got a Candyland game, the complete set of Nancy Drew mysteries, and I got a kit to build my first wooden dollhouse.  I put in wood flooring, a cedar shake roof, stained glass windows, and working electricity to light the miniature Tiffany stained glass chandeliers and table lamps.

     Using pages from a wallpaper sample book, I carefully pasted the walls and put up decorative paper with tiny designs.  Some rooms I even created tiny chair rails which divided a papered lower half and a painted top half of a room.  Miniature tables, chairs, beds, and even tinier decorations.  Each season, each holiday, I would decorate my 'dream' house.

     At Halloween, I created ghosts out of a cotton ball and pieces of tissue paper to hang from the front railings, decorating with small pumpkins found at the hobby shop.  A fat, juicy looking Thanksgiving turkey sat on the top of the miniature oven as if it just came out to cool.  Christmas lights would blink on and off, as would the lights on the tiny tree in front of the fireplace where all the stockings were hung with care...
Dream Dollhouse
"It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth.  I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth.  I didn't feel like a giant.  I felt very, very small."  
~ Neil Armstrong ~

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What do you wish for your health and wellness?

     I'm looking over my computer to see where Jamie Ridler has planted her bug.  I don't have any other way to explain how she can give "random" Wishcasting Wednesday prompts that hit so close to home for me each week.

     Last week I got the biopsy results I'd been waiting for.  I think I got them anyway.  The results were that they want to take another biopsy to confirm what they suspect before they tell me for sure.  I haven't decided yet if that is like an oxymoron.  I suppose I shouldn't worry because the doctor doesn't seem to be worried.  He's having me wait two weeks before they do the 2nd biopsy.  But the thing that worries me is that I don't really have any parts for them to remove if it is something to worry about.  They already took what that empty and barren womb six years ago.  So now what?

     My wish for my health and wellness is that I have nothing to wish for... that there is nothing to worry about... nothing to freeze, burn, radiate or remove... my wish is that the 2nd biopsy shows nothing except for a glitch in the test the first time around.  So in a sense, my wish is a non-wish.  A wish to be worry free and have the sense of well-being that kept me feeling immortal for the past six years.  I wish to not have to wish...

     P.S.   During Thursday night's call with Mom, she commented that she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of wishes with mine, and the love and support she read in the comments.  I told her that was the magic of Wishcasting Wednesdays, and the power of 'we.'

     P.P.S.  I love when The Universe reaffirms my strength:
~~~~~ Message ~~~~~
From:  The Universe
Sent:  Friday, January 27, 2012
          What do you now fear?  How will you use this?  Every fear is a gift, though every gift needs unwrapping.  “Oh look, it’s me, only more!”
          You’re welcome!
                   The Universe


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You've got the power...

Tuesday in the tunnel...

Rat races
      Yesterday was my last three-day weekend for two weeks.  I got lucky with the holidays in January, and as a result... got spoiled.  Now today I'm back in the rat race... roach race... down in the coal mine until my next three day weekend the 4th-6th.

Just a puppet on a string...
     I'd love to have a job that I loved.  One where I felt respected... valued... and like I was a contributor.  Even coal miners have days when they realize the work they do, while dirty, is something that others can benefit from.  Here... I feel like I'm just going in circles... dancing at the end of someones strings... a puppet to be played.

Swimming with the sharks...
      I've thought about going on that reality entrepreneur show Shark Tank to pitch the opening chapter of Trooper's Run.  It was actually a business plan of mine when I was working on my MBA thesis back in the day of imagination and immortality.  But not knowing how to find financial backers... it just faded into a stack of papers until I started writing books to purge my inner demons.

Maze runners...
      In this economy, it is almost better to be self-employed than to be one of the maze runners.  The job security isn't there anymore with traditional jobs... or even with non-traditional or government jobs.  At least the fifty cents you earn an hour will be earned honestly, doing something you love.

     We all want to be motivated to work... and not just to pay bills and get by.  I want to work to live... not live to work.  I want to be fulfilled by what I do, not be buried by it...

Monday, January 23, 2012

This place we call home...

     This weekend and today, David and I watched some absolutely fascinating movies and series.  The first that got us hooked was Disney Nature's Oceans.  It was like watching a water ballet at times, truly beautiful and graceful.

     That got me curious and I recorded a series of episodes of Planet Earth that aired on the Discovery Channel.

     If you've never seen either the Disney movie or the Planet Earth series, I highly recommend both of them.  They will open your eyes to a world few of us have ever seen completely, and one that is constantly changing.

     This is our home... this place we call Earth... where the only predator that the Earth has to fear... is us.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

That's just how it's always been done...

     I wish I could be one of "those" people who can settle for second best... substandard work... or following the rest of the lemmings off the cliff and into the sea.  One of those people who just mindlessly shows up for work, does just enough to get by, and is happy with the paycheck every two weeks.

     Really.  Seriously.  Honestly.

     I would like to be one of those people who doesn't question the system when it doesn't make sense.  Who can just nod with the rest of the bobble heads and say... "but that's how it has always been done."

     Two lifetimes ago I was working for a government contractor who will remain nameless, but we will refer to as "LM."  I was a lowly administrative assistant (aka peon ~ or rather peed on).  One of my duties was reconciling the travel vouchers for the mechanics who spent every other six months at our site in California, from their "homes" in Texas.  LM paid these guys a pretty healthy per diem when they were in California.  Rent, utilities, food allowance, mileage... it was pretty cushy considering they were passing those charges on to the government... (aka you the taxpayer).  When I questioned why one of the guys was charging $500+ for mileage to "drive" his car from Texas to California when his travel receipts showed that he had rented a UHaul truck and tow bar to haul his car... I was told "but that's how he has always done it."  When I questioned why we were paying another guy's $1500 a month "rent" ($750 mortgage and $750 into his pocket) and all utilities for a house that he owned, when it was clearly stated on the "lease agreement" that he was the owner... and renter... I was told "but that's how he has always done it."

     Yes, maybe so... but that doesn't make it right.  And right or wrong, my curiousity at that time got me "promoted" to another job that didn't have that responsibility... and nothing was ever done to follow up on my questions.

     Jump forward twenty years.  I'm not a government contractor anymore... I'm a government employee.  And nothing has changed.  In a time where the government is struggling to balance a budget and claims to fight against fraud, waste, and abuse...  there is still that "but that's how it has always been done" mindset.  There are no checks and balances for a system that is broken and no one wants to be the one who stands up and says "wait just a minute, this doesn't make sense."

     I've tried.  And for that, I've been punished.  They say there are laws against retaliation... laws to protect whistle blowers... but really, they are just empty words on paper.

     We are supposed to be a country founded on fundamental truths... justice... and what some have called "the American way."  I just can't believe that our founding fathers had this in mind.

     But that's just how it's always been done....  

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kat!

Kat (top) Christmas 1981 (bottom) November 1984
     Today is my little sister's birthday. She is all of 32 years old (yes, Mom, we know.  She is really starting her 33rd year).

     She was born after I had moved back to my Dad's, and in early 1984 she moved to Scotland with Mom & her dad. For most of her childhood, I was just a voice on the phone, and we never really had many chances to get to know each other.

     But now she is back in the States. A grown woman. A mother of two awesome boys.

     We are getting to know each other again, slowly... still mostly by phone calls... emails... and the dark hole of Facebook.

     This is what I know about my sister...

She is strong.
She is awesome.
She is beautiful.
She is intelligent.
She is my sister, and I'm proud of her and all she has done, become, and will achieve in the future. She holds her world in the palm of her hand and her opportunities are unlimited.
She can do anything she sets her heart and mind to do.

Happy Birthday, Kat. I love you.  You rock.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Don't sweat the small stuff...

     I've been in the process of getting organized... purging... re-gifting... selling some things on eBay.  One person's trash can be another person's treasure... or not.  Either way, I've been putting some of my childhood treasures for sale on eBay.

     I no longer have a fancy china cabinet to put them in... and even if I did... I would probably still not enjoy them as much as I did when I got them as a child.  I am sending some heirlooms on to other family members who will either enjoy them or pass them along to their own children and grandchildren.  Most of these "treasures" have been kept in boxes for so long that seeing them again has come as a surprise for some things.

     I was talking to Mom the other night about some of the things I've sold or am re-gifting.  I told her that honestly, it was the memories of those things that I won't ever lose or replace, and while some of the items have some sentimental value... they aren't any thing I can take with me when I 'go.'

     They will get lost in moves, broken, or at some point when all of my possessions are being divided up after I'm gone, they will be thrown away or given to a charity.  Other people will not have the attachment to them that I've had, and even if they knew of my feelings for them... they won't necessarily share them.

     After my Dad died and we finally got the rest of his will and papers from his lady friend, we found some pages he had written talking about the significance of some of his belongings.  One in particular was a bowl ~ a simple mixing bowl ~ that had belonged to his mother and had sentimental value if not value as an antique.  Unfortunately, the bowl had been one of many that had been boxed up and taken to Goodwill before we knew of its value.

     Such is the nature of the small stuff.  Those possessions we cling to because of a memory they give us... but it may not be something that anyone else shares or understands.

     Making the choice to do something now with these 'things' that will always stay in my heart, but don't need to spend any more time boxed up and packed away... I'll still treasure them... but now perhaps someone else will enjoy them as well.


Trying to be normal can be so exhausting...
"Don't let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way.
Be unique.
Be what you feel."
~ Melissa Etheridge ~ 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday Travels... Nice, France

     I visited Nice (pronounced like niece), France as a child.  Mom's high school pen pal lived there with her family, so when Dad got stationed in Germany, it was a wonderful opportunity for them to finally meet.  Genevieve and Yvon were wonderful hosts, as were their children, Sylvia and Damien.

     While the beauty of France was appreciated more by the adults, there are a few things that have remained stuck in my mind in the 40ish years since we visited... and since they are the memories of a child, you can go ahead and laugh at them.

     1.  When driving on narrow mountain roads, try to sit on the inside seat.  Better yet, just close your eyes and imagine you are on a Disney ride.  By doing this, I could have avoided weeks of nightmares from memories of the car racing along at an outrageous speed to the very edge of a mountain road with no guardrails.

     2.  Seafood is relatively healthy and good for you.  The fresh steamed mussels I turned my nose up at Christmas when I was 9 years old were probably not as bad as they looked... and by waiting 35 years to try new foods I missed out on a lot opportunities to excite my taste buds and find new favorite foods.  If I really couldn't stand the look of it, I should have closed my eyes to try it, but at least I could have tried it.  I might be pleasantly surprised... like I was when I tried escargot... and that looked a lot worse than the mussels did.

    3.  Never dance in front of a camera.  Ever.  You may not think that it will ever return to haunt you, but it will.  One day someone will send you a DVD of their Super 8 movie reels that they had transferred and you will be mortified when you watch it with your husband who was unaware of your past life as a child table dancer.  It doesn't matter that you were eight years old.  Some things are just better not seen again.  Trust me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you listen closely, what do you wish to hear?

     It is Wishcasting Wednesday again, and Jamie Ridler Studios has posted another thought provoking question that falls right into my new blog and my desire to get organized over the next year.

     I've always found it easy to listen to others... to listen to my dogs... the sounds of the wind in the trees... waves at the beach... rain on the roof.

     But the one thing that has always been elusive has been the sound of my own heart's desires.  The things I want most in life... my dreams... goals... hopes for the future.  I tend to ignore my own needs to tend to the needs of others.

     I want to hear my heart... so that I can follow it to my future.

     {P.S. ~ In listening to my heart this morning, and reading my Note from the Universe, I'm hearing my heart tell me that I need to focus more on my writing... and on my giving.  So to respond to the first, I have decided that I need to again start working on a new book which I will publish exclusively on Smashwords.com when it is complete... and... using a random number generator (thanx Amanda!) I will send a copy of my first book "My Best Friends Have Hairy Legs" to a lucky person that comments on this blog.  They will be announced Friday night.}

 Cindy Jones!  You're a winner!

Sent:  Wednesday, January 18, 2012
                In a way, life itself tracks a person’s generosity, much like an airline might track frequent flyer miles.  The more you give, the more you earn, the higher you fly, and the further you go.  One thing about generosity is that you can’t ever overdo it.
                Coffee, tea, or a flat screen TV?
                                The Universe

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A "Mindful" Year...

     I turn fifty this year.  Yep, the big five-O.M.G. and unfortunately it probably won't be on some relaxing beach in Hawaii.

     To celebrate this momentous occasion (because you only turn 50 once, and hush, Mom, I don't need you to tell me AGAIN that it is really the start of my 51st year), I have decided to get my life organized.  Yes, yes, I know... better late than never, and at least I'm trying to get it done before the Discovery Channel shows up with a film crew for one of those hoarder reality shows.

      While I was wading through the piles of 'stuff' in my office (aka The BTR "Bermuda Triangle Room") I found a book I bought [who knows when] titled "The Life Organizer ~ A Woman's Guide to a Mindful Year" by Jennifer Louden.

     Now to clarify... I don't remember when I bought the book, but it was obvious to me even then that I needed help to "focus my needs and navigate my dreams."  For whatever reasons, I apparently started on the suggested questions at a time when my mind was too full to focus on it, which is why I found it years (!?!?!) later in The BTR.  It's not even like I had some kind of deadline either to procrastinate.  It is a 52 week guided journal... and I couldn't even get past week one.

     Obviously I need help.

     Part of the problem I realize is just in the title.  "Mindful."  I already have a mind full of stuff... which is why I'm always losing things, or misplacing things.  I'm reminded of some Twilight Zone episodes and a movie about the guys that keep things rolling along in time...

     ... oh look, a chicken...

     Now, do you see my dilemma?


What if...

..... the stars are just our hopes and prayers... dreams and wishes that we have sent to the Heavens?

Floating Lanterns in Thailand
     What if the rain is just the tears of our loved ones missing us as much as we miss them?

     What if thunder really is the sound of the angels bowling in Heaven?

     What if the lightning really is the result of two people falling in love at first sight?

     What if rainbows really did lead to the leprechaun's pot of gold?

     What if, for just one day, we could stop worrying about all of the things that adults have to think about, and just spent one day believing in the magic that sustained us as children?

Monday, January 16, 2012


"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr. ~

Image Source
     Last week David and I watched the movie Rosewood.  I'd heard something about Rosewood... if you've been in Florida long enough it is one of those stories you hear the old folks talking about... but I didn't really know all of the details.  The movie was riveting ... and at the same time, it made me so uncomfortable, I wished I could turn it off, or change the channel.

     For the first time in my life, I was ashamed of the color of my skin.  Not that I'd ever flaunted it before... I grew up in a time just before and after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination... in a time when color lines still divided schools, towns, and people.  But it was never a line that I saw or that impacted me.  I never noticed the difference enough to realize that those lines even existed.

     MLK died when I was just six years old, and the year after his death, we moved to Germany for four years with my father's military assignment.  Life in a military environment ... for us kids anyway ... didn't have color lines.  Schools for military brats didn't separate us by color, only by age and reading skill.

     When we returned, we spent a year in Arizona before moving to Florida at the end of the Viet Nam war in 1974.  By then, any lines that divided schools weren't just black and white, but now included "yellow" ~ for a large Vietnamese refugee population.

     But I still didn't think I was "all that and a bag of chips" because of the color of my skin.  If anything, I might have wished I was more like the kids that had dark skin because I was tired of always burning, peeling, and freckling when I went out in the sun.

     In retrospect, I realize that I grew up pretty naive.... and ignorant.  But I also grew up with the belief that everyone was unique, special, and we were all pretty much the same. 

     I still believe that about people.  Some are just lucky enough to have darker tans.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Messenger of change...

Cooper's Hawk photo by Rachel Bilodeau
      We've had a Cooper's Hawk in the yard several times this month.   Birds of prey are fascinating to me.  I used to watch the hawks, ospreys, and eagles in Florida as they dove into the water for fish. 

     When I visited Alaska the summer of 2008, my cousin Sue, and I went to the tip of Homer's Spit to where the bald eagles made a habit of hanging out.  It was incredible to see such a large and magnificent symbol of America in the wild.

     Because both of my fiction novels have begun with Native American Indian legends (wolves and eagles) I did a little research to see what I could find out about hawks and their place in storytelling.

     It was believed that the hawk empowered a person to examine their lives closely (because of the hawk's superior vision) in order to keep what was good and positive, and to release what was bad or negative.  They are thought to be messengers between the worlds of the living and the dead (Inuit chose the Raven for this role as I wrote about in Eagle Visions).  Native American Indians believed that the hawk was a messenger of change, reminding us that we need to remain focused and aware of our surroundings.  Because the hawk has an incredible ability to survive and adapt to its environment ~ they can be found in busy cities and in the open country ~ they often are used as a symbol of persistence, determination, and strong will.

     The rational, animal lover in me knows that the meaning of the hawk in our yard is simply that it has discovered the abundant supply of food (small birds) in the large shrubs that separate our house from the one next door.

     But the imaginative, creative writer in me wants to believe that the hawk is a messenger of change for us in this new year...  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Acts 27:13

13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, they saw their opportunity; so they weighed anchor and sailed along the shore of Crete.

     My Dad loved to go sailing.  He loved wooden boats, and the craftsmanship that went into them.  He loved the solitude of being on the water, and while he was younger and healthy, it would be where he went on Sundays to find God.  He would have an old ratty pair of shorts, with holes in them that he called his church goin' shorts because they were 'holy.'

     I remember when Dad got his first sailboat after we moved to Florida.  I must have been eleven or twelve. It was the only time I remember my Mom going sailing with him.  We got hit by a thunderstorm while crossing the bay, and the sailboat was tipped over so far that water was coming in over the stern hull, the keel almost out of the water.  In the galley where I was, you could look out the window and see the bottom of the bay where the sand was swirling with the power of the water.  Mom and Dad were in the cockpit while Dad tried to control the tiller and keep the boat upright.

     The storm lasted just a few minutes, but I'm sure to them it felt like an eternity.

     When we are caught in the storms of life, they often feel like they last an eternity.  We are frightened when we feel alone and out of sight of the shore.  We feel tossed and blown by the wind and waves and don't know if we will survive the storm.

22 But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. 23 Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me 24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ 25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.
~ Acts 27:22-25 ~

     Paul reassured the men he was sailing with that God would protect them from the storm they were in, and the storms they were about to face, just as God reassured him.

     Just as God reassures us.

     When you feel as if you are drowning in the storms of life, remember this... as you are reaching up, God is reaching down to save you.  Take His hand and rest assured that He is the lifeboat that will carry us through the storms.

Friday the 13th...

Rub belly for luck. 
Happy Buddha Pug blesses you.
For extra luck, feed treats and 
Happy Buddha Pug will give you
extra lucky sugar boogers.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thursday Travels... Death Valley, CA

Stretching on forever...
     Two lifetimes ago, (before Witness Protection) I was a backseat rider with bunch of Harley bikers in California.  Relax... it wasn't anything as exciting as "that" but it was fun getting out with other H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) members.

     We had a candy apple red Electra Glide Classic touring bike, complete with armrests for the backseat rider.  I would frequently get so relaxed on the bike with the steady "potato, potato, potato" humming that I would doze off.  The armrests kept me from falling off the bike, but didn't do much to help keep me awake.

Beauty in Death Valley
     One long weekend in early April, we took a ride from the Antelope Valley, north to Death Valley.  It was before the summer heat really kicked in, but there was still a significant temperature change as we dropped from the mountains into the valley.  We had thick leather coats on in the mountains, but had to stop and pack them as we got lower into the valley.

     I've blogged before about the beauty of the Arizona desert and the stark contrast it was to the California deserts.  I should have made an exception with Death Valley.

     We toured Scotty's Castle then went on to Pahrump, Nevada where we stayed the night before heading back home to take a brief ride through the poppy fields.

     I had visions of the Tin Man and the Scarecrow trying to wake me as the perfume of the flowers, the wind against my face, the relaxing vibration of the Harley, and that soft "potato, potato, potato" carried me off to sleep again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What do you wish to reclaim?

     This morning's prompt from Jaime Ridler's Wishcasting Wednesday post really woke me up.  My first thought was that I wished to reclaim who I once was... the me before this move to Texas caused me to doubt myself.

     But then I realized that person didn't exist anymore nor did I even want to be that person anymore.  The me before Texas still had doubts and fears... otherwise I wouldn't have taken this job or made this move.

     What I might wish to reclaim is something I don't even remember losing, but is something that Texas has shown me about myself.  I can't reclaim it, because I've never really claimed it.

     Texas made me sure of what I didn't want in my life... and I don't remember a point in time when I stopped knowing what that was... or what I wanted in life.

     I wish to claim... to reclaim... my confidence, my strength, my knowledge of what it is I want in life... and the strength and courage to go after it.  I wish to claim... and reclaim... who I am.  Not who I was, but who I will be.  The me that is yet to be, the one who looks back at this time of growth and reflection and says... "I have come out on the other side and survived.  I am stronger, wiser, and know what I want in life and not only am I going to go after it... I'm living it now."

     As I wish for myself, so I also wish for you...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


     Writing has always been an outlet for me.  A way of expressing myself that gave me the option to go back and re-read my words... to learn from them, change them, or just delete them.  I've learned (painfully) that like spoken words, sometimes you can't take back the written word... so I have gotten into the habit of writing some blogs a day or five ahead of time, then reading, re-reading, editing, and sometimes deleting them before they are seen by anyone else.

     Spoken words can cut deeper than any knife, leaving a scar that sometimes never heals.  The children's rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." wasn't true.  Broken bones heal, cuts heal.  They may leave scars, but with time, those even fade.

     But words spoken in anger... words spoken to hurt someone... those seem to find a place in our minds where they anchor like coral, reaching and growing until they have become memories that make us like islands. Isolated in the sea of life, buffeted by the waves of emotion, sometimes breaking under the storms.
Coral Island

     Written words can be just as damaging.  Perhaps not spoken aloud, but once read they too become little bits of coral that anchor and grow.  The problem with both is that they are subject to interpretation and perception.

     "An English professor wrote the words, "Woman without her man is nothing" on a blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.
     The men wrote: "Woman, without her man, is nothing."
     The women wrote: "Woman: Without her, man is nothing."

     The transition between what it said or what is written can change between the time it is heard or the time it is read.  Not only will it change for whom it was intended, but it can change again a million times over as others hear it repeated or read the words.  It has started wars, ended relationships, and changed lives.

     There is no solution for this dilemma between intent and perception except to stop speaking or stop writing.  We can stop listening or stop reading.  But even then our silence can be perceived differently.  Some may perceive it as agreement, others as disagreement, when all that was intended was to stop hurting... and being hurt.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Full Wolf Moon

     "What are you hungry for under this Full Wolf Moon? The wolf reminds us to connect to our hunger, to notice what desires are calling for our attention. Our dreamboards can help us bring these desires to light and to being! This is an invitation to not just notice our desires but to begin the important work of tending them, stepping into what we can do to honour what we know of our dreams. What a beautiful way to begin the year."
Jamie Ridler Studios

     This is my first dream board with Jamie's prompts and I was excited to work on it. This past year was a difficult one, and I want 2012 to be a year of change for me... a year abundant with positives in all aspects of my life... health, career, finances, relationships... the only positive for me in 2011 was my marriage becoming stronger, and so in 2012 I want to strengthen everything else in my life.


"The time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time."
     Every 2nd Monday is my Regular Day Off (RDO) because I'm working an 9/80 schedule.  I love it.  This month, because of the holidays, I have a three day weekend all but the last weekend in January.

     They won't be wasted ... doctor appointments will fill as many days as possible ... car repairs ... all those little annoying things that sometimes can't be done on a Saturday or Sunday.

      Honestly tho... even a day spent kicking back with my husband and dogs isn't a wasted day.  Cold, winter days are spent snuggled in bed watching movies, or in front of the fireplace playing Yahtzee.  When the weather warms up and fish start biting again, we'll spend the day in the boat.  Bertrand Russell had it right when he said "The time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time."

     Sometimes everyone needs just a day to do nothing...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Elvis...

Elvis Presley ~ 8 Jan 1935-16 Aug 1977
     Dad used to always say that Elvis was born on his birthday.

     Truth was tho, that Dad and Uncle Ron were born on Elvis's birthday two years after him.

     Dad lived thirty years longer than Elvis did... and Uncle Ron another four after that.

     Elvis might have been more famous than Dad and Uncle Ron... but I will miss my Dad and Uncle Ron much longer than I ever missed Elvis.

     Happy Birthday Dad and Uncle Ron.  We miss you so much... every day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Slow dance...

     I love the nights when the moon rises opposite the setting sun... both of them slow dancing on the horizon.

     David and I went fishing this afternoon.  As we rowed back to the truck and trailer, the lake was glass slick, the moon reflected in the water as it slowly rose.  While we saw a large 3-4 pound bass jump and laugh at us... we didn't get a single bite.

     But a bad day fishing is better than a good day working at times, and today was just that kind of day.

     We watched Red-Wing Orioles in the trees, and a small Downey Woodpecker running along the bark of the mountain cedar trees.  A Cooper's Hawk quietly soared overhead, and a large Great Blue Heron watched us from a tree branch before flying off to the opposite side of the lake.  A white Egret waded along the shore intently watching the water for small fish.  American Coots, Pie Billed Grebes, and Double Crested Cormorants swam and fished on the water in the distance, racing away like speed boats when we approached.  The wind was calm, and the temperature was comfortable... not too hot and not too cold.

     It was a perfect day...


Stealing my heart...
      Have you ever spent an afternoon watching ants work?  They are so focused on their work, so dedicated, that they sometimes sacrifice themselves for the good of others just to get the work done.  Need a bridge?  Here, walk on my back.  Need a raft?  Here, stand on me.

     They follow an invisible line from Point A to Point B so closely that if you put something in their way, they at first panic and mill around before finding their way again.  If they can move the object, they will.  If they can't, they will find a way over or around it.

     Ants never give up.  Neither do aunts.

     I spoke recently to my Aunt Nan about some of the things I've been facing in the past year.  It's not like she hasn't had things to face recently either.  I told her about pulling away from family and friends to focus inward to try and get rid of some of my 'stuff' and she said that I can't get rid of aunts.

     I wouldn't want to.  Aunt Nan has always been there with an encouraging word to lift me up when I was down, or a priceless piece of advice when I needed to slow down.  My favorite is when she reminds me of what the airline crew tell you before taking off on a trip.

     "Put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others."

     Thank you.  I love you, Aunt Nan.  I so appreciate you in my life.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The waiting game...

Hurry up!
     They say that patience is a virtue.  If that is the case, I've not been very virtuous lately.  I want to have Tabitha's nose or finger snap from Bewitched or Jeannie's nod from I Dream of Jeannie.  Normally, I'm a very patient person.  Too patient in fact.  But not lately.  I know that things will get better... they always do.  But I'm ready for them to get better now, and I'm not being very patient in this waiting game.

     Today's game started with a biopsy that will take about ten days to get the results on.  Ten days of checking the calender to see how many more days until I can expect a phone call telling me something... anything... one way or the other.

     You'd think that with the technology that we have to make computers on pin heads that control office buildings, they would have been able to make a way to get test results faster.

     Nine days, three hours, twenty eight minutes to go...

Finally Friday...

Whacha lookin' at?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday Travels... Elbow Cay, Bahamas

Elbow Cay
     Baby, it's cold outside so I'm warming up with memories of the time I went to the Bahamas.  A co-worker was talking last week about a scuba trip to Belize that she has planned in the spring and I'm sure it will be fabulous.

     I went in late September 1986.  It was hot, but not unbearably so.  I don't know how to scuba dive, but learned to snorkel that weekend.  Floating motionless over the coral, letting the waves coming into the inlet carry me, I was fascinated by this world under the water.

     Bright flashes of yellows and blues zipped about me, as the topical fish inspected this alien invader to their world.  As I relaxed I came close to being hypnotized by the gentle rock of the water and the sound of my slow and steady breathing through the snorkel tube.

     Elbow Cay wasn't the typical Bahamas tourist playground, and while it was only for a four-day weekend... it was as if I was transported back to a time when I had no cares or worries.  Transportation around the island was mostly by bicycles, boat, or bi-ped (walking).  Music played in the afternoons, but the streets rolled up at sundown and the locals relaxed to watch the sunset.

     Maybe if I think hard enough, like Christopher Reeve did in Somewhere in Time, I will wake up tomorrow to find myself soaking up the sun on the soft pink beaches.