Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Happy Halloween!?

Or is it?

I remember being a kid and Halloween being one of my favorite holidays.  I mean come on, it was the perfect opportunity to dress up as your greatest fear and face that stuff head on! Witches, ghosts, aliens, skeletons, etc... they were always everywhere.  Of course there were mummies and goblins.  I also remember hobo's and clowns (before that was the single most terrifying thing ever!  Thank you Stephen King).

Of course there were always the kids that evidently had no fears and they were in the fun, silly costumes. Either that or their parents might have been more concerned about potential psychological damage down the line. And not looking forward to paying for years of therapy, opted for balloons and unicorns.

I remember watching Halloween start morphing when I was in my late teens. At some point it started to be people that frightened us, that were ridiculed and mocked.  Presidents, politicians, despots and dictators started being combined into a mix that still included those traditional nightmares, but it started to become far more personal.

I think I started tuning out of Halloween in general when the pumpkins, ghouls and goblins started to be out numbered by the personal attacks and satire driven agenda's.  It just all went against what i firmly still want Halloween to be.

Somewhere along the line, we as a society seem to have forgotten how to simply have joy in an age old celebration of fear and faith.  It has started to morph into something I simply do not want any part of.

As I woke up this morning to the news, NPR is sadly the only non-jarring station to slowly wake up to. They were talking about some students claiming other students were being racists for their choice in costumes at a party off campus.  Wanting them kicked out of school.

It bothered me.  Which is why I am sitting here at 6:30 am in the morning, sorting through my thoughts. It sounds like the costumes were in fairly poor taste, but then aren't most Halloween costumes?  I mean if you are a Wiccan Practitioner couldn't a witches costume be considered racist?

The part that bothered me the most, was that at no point did the students calling for expulsion seem to think about things from the opposing view point.  We live in a very divisive time. Maybe those students were simply facing their fears?  In a highly inappropriate manner I would argue, but then most of what I witness going on now-a-days seems to be in a highly inappropriate manner.

Personally, I'm going to say that my children and grand children stating that people are always "butt hurt" is probably pretty darn accurate.  At some point in time, we've moved past the point where it is okay to agree to disagree.  That its more important to attack, malign and generally belittle those that disagree with us, instead of having a conversation.

I don't agree or disagree 100% with any of the things going on around me at this time.  What I try to do is encourage and support each view point.  I don't have to be right.  I have to be honest to who I am.

There are many costumes that offend me on a personal level.  Internally, I am going to put a check mark in the wtf? column in my brain and move on. I am not going to attack or demand your demise, I am just going to wonder for a moment.  Because I long ago learned that if it isn't going to matter to me in five years, to move on.

I dressed up this weekend as a black panther.  My youngest grand daughter was a Panda in a cage.  Mom was the lion trainer - nope couldn't find a lion costume, and Hubs was the tiger - I didn't have any brown clothes to wear.  I thought about the monkey to go with her circus, but again no brown clothes, and I didn't want to hear any of the make believe racist comments.  My Grand Babies are all mixed race and far too often people show me they are still stuck in "wtf?" land.

I felt pretty darn comfortable being a panther.  Until the very end when someone said "seriously? can't wait to hear what this stirs up"????  WHAT?

I'm tired of the over sensitivity.  I'm tired of having every comment, conversation, costume, etc  questioned and doubted.

I think my oldest grand daughter was right when she initially wanted to simply where a t-shirt that said "commitment".  And when asked to explain her thoughts she said "because that stuff is scary as...".

Oh wait... there are probably some religious people that would take offense with that....

What happened to the days that the scariest thing about Halloween was Candy Corn (my personal favorite FYI)?

Spiked Hot Chocolate anyone?  I think I am going to build a fire in the fire place and sit this one out...

p.s. how about we all live and let live?

Monday, October 30, 2017

making a life...

It's a perfectly dreary fall morning here in the Lou.  Drizzly rain, brisk wind, chilly temps.  It's absolutely perfect!  

I am blessed with a day away from work, I started to say off, but then I realized that I plan to work quite a bit today.  I hadn't really made any plans for the day when I was struggling to wake up to the alarm.  Little snippets of maybe's were about as solid as my plans went. 

I was tired.  Still am, but it's a good tired. I have had a great weekend, a few hiccups thrown in for good measure, but all in all a great weekend.  

Family time, rushing about trying to fix heat at the daughter's house, feeling thankful that ours is working. Spending time with both of my grand daughters.  And time to visit with one of my "boys" from long ago.  

Sitting here in the semi-silence, I feel peaceful.  It's been a long while since I have felt truly peaceful. It's starting to feel like my world is balancing a bit. 

The washer and dryer are the only sounds filling my home right now.  And instead of sitting here thinking of all the work that I need to accomplish, I am sitting here daydreaming of things I want to do. I have a whole glorious day stretched out in front of me.  And the only things that are non-negotiable are laundry and a manicure.  We've officially run out of clothing and my nails look hideous!

Fall always brings out my inner homemaker.  Surfing this morning while sipping my coffee I found about 20 recipes I wanted to make - for dinner.  And candies I want to try, after all that caramel sauce from yesterday turned out amazing. 

Then of course there is painting around the house that needs completed. I wonder, does the fall stir a nesting hormone?  Am I anything like the little squirrel out back gathering seeds and berries for the long cold winter ahead?

My fingers start to yearn for the feeling of soft fibers, I search for patterns that I have absolutely no time to complete.  I order yarn for projects that might be made when I finally retire, and wait anxiously checking delivery updates.  

I find that I often marvel at life.  I wonder how people find time for some of the incredible negativity that I witness all too often. I can barely find time to simply live. 

Life is pretty complicated now-a-days.  Did folks feel the same in years gone past?  I often think of the pioneer times in such an idealized way.  

I think about the dinners that they put on the table, how it was all "locally sourced, non-GMO, etc"... imagining how wonderful that fresh food must have tasted.  Envious of the fact that they were able to feed their family things that didn't come wrapped in plastic and processed to death.  Or that they didn't scurry off to the nearest restaurant for dinner after a hard day at work.

Rarely do I stop and think how exhausting and time consuming that was.  They didn't run to the local grocery and grab the ingredients they needed, storing them in the fridge or freezer until ready to use. They had to intentionally plan and raise the food products.  A loaf of bread took time to make.  Sure the smell drifting through the house was incredible.  But can you imagine the effort of keeping the wood fire going at the correct temperature, the strain on the hands, arms and back to knead those loaves?  Personally, I get upset when veggies spoil or bread gets moldy, and I didn't have to harvest them or make them myself. 

Clothes couldn't just be picked up.  Blankets and bed clothing either.  If I don't feel like making hats and mittens will my family do without?

I guess each time has had it's own struggles.  The things I long to have time to do, would have at one point in time been a full time career for someone.  For me, the making of a loaf of bread, a batch of soap, hats and mittens, or even quilts is a relaxing pleasure.  If I opt out, my family doesn't do without. 

But there were times in my life, that if I hadn't learned those skills my family did without, because I simply didn't have the money to rush to the store.  And I am thankful that I learned them. 

Life sure is a funny thing.  I cherish being fairly self sufficient, yet I am thankful that I am not chopping and hauling wood up the hill to heat my home. 

I still wonder.  

What if instead of living on social media causing trouble, we were learning life skills to help us through the hard times? Has life gotten too easy? 

I always hear the voices of the past in my head... idle hands are the devils workshop.   I can't say that I disagree. 

Do, make, clean, create, grow, experiment, explore... I feel we all need a few more action words in our lives. 

Speaking of which... 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

succeeding at life...

Feeling accomplished and successful was definitely not what I anticipated when waking up this morning.

The last thing running through my head as I drifted to sleep was my sweet daughter's incredulous voice when I put my coat over my jammies and drove down to her house last night in response to her plea that she was failing at life.  She'd had a fuse blow and didn't know where it was or how to reset it. She'd semi suggested that bringing Hubs might be a good choice.  Being that I don't often feel that I am failing at life, nor do I often feel that I am incapable of most household repairs, I didn't bother to stir him from his toasty bed.

Her response to my solo arrival?  "You came ALONE?? Do you think you know what you are doing?"

WHAT??  I have been doing most of my own household repairs since my early 20's, being the more mechanically inclined in my previous marriage. And she doubts me?

My response, reset the outside outlet that she'd tripped, go to the basement reset the other tripped outlet, teach the brat how to do it, love on my grand babies and head home to lick my wounds.

I mean geez... how insulting.  I'm just playing.  Although truthfully, how many people feel they can't do something like that?

This morning MY dog decides to bark at 515 am, evidently it was time to wake up.  I mean why turn off the alarm? Hubs decides to be my hero and after taking them out carry's the stubborn little man all the way downstairs so he doesn't wake me again.

A full hour later, I am startled into action yet again, as I can hear Hubs yelling, cussing and raising a general ruckus downstairs.  I didn't expect that.

As I clear the dining room, I discovered the problem, sweet Hubs was fixing my coffee, or at least trying to.  The ice machine on the fridge has malfunctioned.  He's standing barefoot in the midst of ice, water and more ice pouring unstopped from the freezer door.

No glasses on and barely awake I truly couldn't be of much help at that moment.  Each time he moved his hand away from the paddle it started over. Without much thought my sleepy fingers wrapped around the closest item I could find, the cork from the bottle of wine I had shared with good friends Thursday night.

Hubs used that to hold the paddle in place, we cleaned up the river of ice and water that had flowed everywhere and as Hubs retired to the garage to smoke a cigar and regain a sense of calm, I started researching.

That is how I learn.  I refuse to believe that any of us are not capable of conquering the world.  At our retreat this week, I heard a few people utter the words that they felt they were being held back by the lack of a college degree.  That they could not get ahead due to the lack of a proper education.

I was stunned to hear those words.  Maybe I am naive.  I don't believe so.  I simply do not believe that any of us are trapped at any point in our lives by anything other than our own mental prisons.

This morning, armed with a hot cup of coffee and a willingness to learn and a few basic facts (like the model number of my fridge) I was able to track down the problem, source out the fastest and least expensive place to get the parts and by Tuesday night, I fully expect to have my ice maker working perfectly and not have spent an outrageous amount of money.

At no point does anything in my professional resume say that I am an appliance repair person.  In fact there are many things in my life that I have accomplished that didn't come with a piece of paper attached to it saying I successfully completed all the check boxes that someone else determined were pre-req's to being able to complete the task at hand.

I have had to conquer my own fears, had to be willing to open my mind, my heart and sometimes my fists to achieve those goals.  But I allow very few external things to defeat me.

Sitting in that room yesterday morning, hearing one of our team make that comment, I felt a sense of frustration that is hard to articulate.  I am not an eloquent speaker.  In fact, I struggle greatly with public speaking, I am always fearful that I will say something that will be criticized or belittled.

The response to that statement was that we should create tuition reimbursement.  That we are not clearing road blocks. We are not making the path an easy one for people to travel.

It made me so angry.  Not at the conversation, but with myself.  Sitting in that room as one of the leaders, I had the ability to help that person and many others.

Fear held me back.  Our society is so focused on that piece of paper and that is something I fail to understand clearly.

Sitting in that room as one of the leaders, I could have raised my voice and spoken up.  I could have assured them that they alone had the power to climb that ladder.

Yet, I sat silent.

Hearing repeated conversations that the housekeeping staff did not have the same opportunities as everyone else.  I sat there again frustrated.

My peers have degrees on top of degrees.  Most of their resumes are an impressive collection of who's who.

Me?  I started my professional Y career as a custodian in 2004.  I scrubbed toilets, pressure washed floors, washed towels, cleaned up any and all messes.  I was invisible.

I don't have a degree.  I worked on it off and on for years, moving from place to place, where ever the military felt they needed to send our family.  Repeating the same classes over and over until I got fed up.

I took advantage of every single opportunity I stumbled on.  I worked hard and diligently.  At each rung in the ladder I stayed awhile and worked until I mastered that spot.

Today, I have the honor to lead a group of individuals at our newest Y.  These individuals are where the strength and power of our Y comes from.  They live and feel our mission, they work together, they support each other and they face our goals head on.  It isn't because of my personal successes, it's because of all of us.

Do I always know exactly what I am doing? Nope, sure don't.  Do I feel a college degree would change that?  Nope. Sure don't.

Should I have been braver?  Yes.

I should have risked the shock looks.  I should have given hope.  I didn't.

Because inside me, just as in all of us, is that scared little girl that is still striving for approval.  All of us want to conform, to fit in a mold.

I hope at some point we will all realize that the degree does not define the person. We've been brainwashed. The willingness to continue being a lifelong learner is what defines you.

Now, please understand I am not at all saying that a degree is not necessary.  I assure you I want my doctors, nurses, engineers, etc to all have that higher education.  There is definitely a further education needed sometimes.  But there are many instances in this life where honestly it isn't needed. Hard work is. Might I have more tools in my tool box with that degree?  Maybe.  It might be easier to find the exact words and/or process that will move me ahead quicker, but truthfully it might also stop me from discovering a better way, because I have had to figure it out on my own, not using a set formula.

At some point in my lifetime, I hope that we stop with the nonsense that everyone needs a degree to be considered successful.  We have many people in our country that are working as servers, baristas, custodians, etc.  with at least a four year degree that they will be paying for for most of their adult lives. Some of them can't find jobs in the field they studied for, some of them were simply following that prescribed fact that you must have a degree. They aren't any happier.  They aren't any more successful.

Not everyone that is a custodian wants or needs more than that to feel successful, and not every custodian is "stuck". People truly need to stop projecting their own personal definition of success on others.  Each of us simply needs to strive for what makes us happy.  For our own personal definition of success.

This morning, my success was found in learning to repair my own refrigerator.   In that simple self sufficient act. Hubs was outside in the chilled morning air checking our cars to insure they are ready for winter.  Again major success.

I guess it is the joy of growing older.  There are still times that I hang my head in shame because someone else defined success for me.  Yet, there are more times, that I will celebrate your success at something that will signify a huge achievement for YOU, and realize that isn't what I need to be successful at life.

I know my girl was joking when she said she was failing at life... but how many people feel they truly are, because they are trying to conform instead of simply succeeding?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

because I can...

As the coffee cooled in my cup, I stood in the garage with Hubs.  The day started with heavy rain, not the kind that the boys were even remotely going to consider walking in.  Me either for that matter.

The kind of fall morning where you can stand and let the scents soak into your very being.  Not cold, not hot, simply a fall morning.  The colors are starting to get crazy beautiful and without the rain it would have been the perfect day for a ride to look at the colors.

Instead, we sipped coffee, Hubs enjoyed his cigar and we slowly started the day.

I came inside sooner than Hubs did.  Fall is when I want to create.  I'd ordered some soap bases and have really wanted to try my hand at cold process soaps.  I started with hot process. Oddly I always seem to be attracted to the more difficult way to do things first.

Seems no one ever tells me until after the fact that I have selected the more difficult pattern, style, recipe etc. And my brain simply decides the easier way is the more difficult way.

I am not sure why.

My first hand quilt - hexagons. No one told me otherwise.

First wood working project - I built and painted a shelf - with hand tools - it was all I had.

My first crochet pattern - a full afghan

The list is endless.

I love learning new crafts.  Testing myself.  I don't believe in the no win scenario.

Today, it was cold process soap.  I'd watched the video that went with the kit I'd purchased.  It was on sale. I had a second mold, so I went out on a limb and purchased the refill kit also.  I mean, why not? I never stop to think that something is going to be too difficult before jumping in with both feet!

I couldn't believe it was going to be that easy, in fact, I was sure it wasn't.

So while Hubs relaxed in the man cave, I set about making some new soap. As they are cold process I won't know until at least tomorrow if they have turned out.  They are heavy with natural butters to increase the moisturizing properties.  Hubs is a fan of lather, still don't get that one, but I love a thick moisturizing soap.  I don't care about bubbles!  I want soft skin.

Our house is filled with an earthy, citrus, lemony scent from the combination of tea tree oil and lemongrass.  I was a bit put off by the creators' description of the scent as fruity pebbles.  That seriously did not sound at all pleasant. I was definitely concerned.  I didn't need to be.  While the initial scent of lemongrass is vaguely reminiscent of a questionable childhood memory, it is rapidly overtaken by something completely different.

It will be a few weeks before I am able to share these soaps or even use them myself.  Maybe that is one of the reasons I never attempted it before.  I am not always patient.  Although with my work life being what it is now, I am finding that I have more patience.  Nothing seems to happen quickly anymore. By the time I have time to enjoy this, I am fairly positive it will have cured completely.

Shortly I will head up to my craft room. I have those quilts to wrap up, and I am anxious to start on my own projects.  Which my conscience will not allow until those quilts are finished.  I will finish one today and start on the other after running errands this evening.

Hubs is taking a nap.  The dreary rainy day is taking it's toll.

I have some vacation coming up soon and I want to spend the time working on things I want to work on.  A crocheted hat from my youngest grand baby.   Some socks that are almost complete, a variety of UFO's - un-finished objects (projects) - not aliens. And some small things that I've found that need to show up at Christmas.

And honestly I am dying to start spinning again.  My wheel is dusty and in need of attention. But I am longing to feel the fibers slide through my fingers again.  My knee had halted my work on my spinning wheel. The pain of moving any muscles connected to it, was overwhelming.  I am hoping that it is stronger now.

Fall always brings me back to my first loves.  Homemaking and creating.  Maybe it's the chill that the air takes on, maybe it is thinking ahead to the upcoming holidays.

Could be the shorter days drawing me home to the fireplace at night?  I haven't had a fall fire yet, but the days are coming.  Hubs and I will need to bring some logs up and I will need to run to St. Vincent's to pick up some fire starters.

Yesterday as I prepared the apple cobbler and chili for the staff meeting, I had a million fall thoughts running through my head, things I want to do.

Who knows what projects await me, it's fall after all, and new ideas are always popping into my head. My son will be home for Christmas, there is much to prepare before he arrives. So many little things.  I want to insure that he feels wrapped in the love of home and family.  I rarely see him anymore.  The nurturing side of mom is kicking into overdrive.

I keep challenging myself... because I can...

Sunday, October 15, 2017

down time...

It's the end of the day, tomorrow a new and busy week will start.

I'm sitting here in the dark. Savoring the memory of a day well spent. Sipping a hot cup of tea.

I found a new tea "shop" today at the South County YMCA's Arts and Crafts fair.  I love supporting local people.  I enjoy buying gifts and things for my home from people where it will make a difference. Each of the people I supported will have a bit more in their personal budget.  Maybe they were raising Christmas money, or just a bit extra to make a difference for their families.

Not that it doesn't make a difference when I go to the mall or a big box store.  Teavanna is all well and fine, but honestly, it's over priced and it's a "big box" store.  Besides that I can't ever duplicate the flavor of the tea they serve me. EVER!  I have spent way too much money buying from them for it to sit on a shelf and get stale as I try to figure out what I am doing wrong.  Meeting the owner, having her show me exactly how to recreate the flavor that I had sampled.

I felt valued.

I spent a good amount of money with that family owned tea business.  Normally, I am stingy with my dollars.  I work hard, I don't like to waste anything.  It was probably a good thing that I ran out of things to sample.

I bought several other things from other families.  Cowboy Caviar and some of my favorite jelly's for toast. Each of these items were made by the people that I purchased them from. There was a direct connection.  An appreciation for the investment of time and the love of their craft. I found a beautiful necklace handmade with care. Hubs bought me a beautiful pen, turned wood that felt warm and smooth in my hands.  With a gentle reminder circling it to keep love and hope in my heart.

I used to make many things to sell, using my own personal talents to help build up our family budget. It was tiring and used my extra hours around my job, but our dollars simply didn't go far enough.  I didn't really enjoy it.  Mainly, because I prefer to make my things and give them from love. It was difficult.  I always wonder how many of them are doing it simply to make ends meet.

We enjoyed walking, talking and shopping with another one of my B's.  I rarely get to see her and miss her company a great deal.  It was a fabulous way to spend the morning.

It's been a crazy busy few days, with more busy ones promised. I've needed my stolen moments to unwind.  I've needed the peace. I've been finding more chances to sneak time for long chats with my girl and friends, motorcycle rides with Hubs, and simply relaxing at the end of a day with Hubs.  It feels like we are running in circles lately. Barely finding time for dinner or rest. Much less conversations, quiet times, and just being.

Tomorrow starts a new phase for me.  I have a new employee starting.  I will start turning over so many things that have been keeping me busy.  I will start turning my focus back to my own work, things that I have slowly slid to a back burner can start moving back to the forefront.

But for tonight, I am sipping my tea.  Savoring a full day spent just being.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

damaged goods

While chatting with Hubs this morning at breakfast a ghost of my past came roaring back to life.  The event had absolutely nothing to do with Hubs, it was long before him.  The conversation was innocent and bland - perfect breakfast conversation - I mean after all who wants to solve world peace before their third cup of coffee.

I don't know what made it snap to the forefront of my mind.  Honestly, it was something that I thought was dead and buried almost 20 years ago now (Did I seriously just say 20?  Wow time flies).  It was another lifetime.  It left a lot of scars, most of which I thought had healed.

Needless to say, as I clumsily tried to explain to Hubs why it was bothering me, I in turn ripped off a long scabbed over wound of his.  Also inflicted by someone else more than 20 years ago. As I watched the red rim his eyes and his jaw lock, I knew I'd hit that wound dead on.

Now, as I said, I also had wounds, and for a bit, I was stubborn.  I didn't apologize.  My feelings matter also. He didn't apologize, because so do his.  And for a brief moment in time, we were both trapped in a time warp.  Both struggling to make the past go away, to not feel it's bitter sting.

As he left for his drive down to Potosi, he was still feeling a bit snarky I am guessing, because he made a rather snippy comment before a quick I love you and a kiss.

It got me thinking.

We're all made up of the life experiences that we've had.  And they come in all shapes and sizes.  Some carry no pain and are simply joyous.  The birth of a child, a first kiss, saying your vows, walking hand in hand, Christmas mornings, birthday's... you get my drift.

Then there are those minor painful ones learning to ride a bike, speaking in front of a crowd, tripping, being embarrassed.

And then there are those ones that you aren't sure you can survive.  The ones where the loss cuts so deep you are sure that no one else can understand. Death of a loved one, betrayal, lies - not a little white lie - a life altering lie. A cheating partner, an abusive relationship.  Someone bent on destroying you because they aren't happy with themselves.

Each of us has all of these things to varying degrees in us.  Each of us has "survived".

Or have we?  Are we all just one dreary day, in the same season of time, where those ugly ghosts rear their nasty heads and time becomes irrelevant as we strive to make sense of something that isn't getting mixed up with something that was?

I love my sweet Hubs, I know that he would never do the things that I've "survived".  And the fact that I dragged his ghost into my mess this morning, it hurts my heart. Because I would never summon that up intentionally.   He's "survived" his previous hurts too.

If we can inflict unintentional pain on another just by remembering our own pasts, I wonder what kind of pain we inflict by accidentally bringing up a collective past repeatedly.  Maybe if we all step back, and really look at not only our own pasts, but our collective pasts, we can finally move forward.

It's painful when we rip off scabs.  When we have to face things square on and when it takes that minute (or more) to realize that was then, it definitely doesn't belong in the now... maybe that is when healing finally begins.


Monday, October 9, 2017

To Be...

Good morning!!  The sun is just now starting to cut through fog that was hanging around for the second day, yesterday it felt like a heavy winter quilt.

I'm sitting at the kitchen island, pretty sure it's my favorite spot, looking out the window.  Yesterday it was sparkling like diamonds.  Bright sunlight breaking through the fog, making the mist sparkle like diamonds sprinkled all over the beautiful changing colors.

I am totally a fall girl!  I decided I needed a few days for me.  A chance to balance things.  A chance to reconnect with my home, my family, and me.  My personal "to-do" list.

As I was getting ready to write this morning, I was cleaning up my personal email account in between semi-tidying my kitchen.  I have started following Jay Shetty.  I like his take on life. I like the positive glow that he brings into a world that seems to be moving more and more into a dark place.

Today's quote that caught my eye... "Make your To-Be list, not your To-Do list"... I haven't read the article that the quote was from.  For a moment I just want to savor what it means to me.  How those words spoke to where I am in my life journey. I feel like I spend way too much time making non-stop to do lists anymore.

For example: Paint the door frame, do the laundry, do the ironing, finish the quilts, pay the bills, wash the dishes...

I wonder what things would be like if instead of to-do's I could manage to focus on to-be's.

To be completely present in my life almost feels are too overwhelming. And equally as needed. But... what if...

1) to be engaged - not distracted by media, work, the have to's.
2) to be playful and experience life
3) to be attentive not only to myself, but my family and friends

Wow, this exercise is a bit harder than I thought it would be.

4) to be genuine
5) to be content
6) to be creative
7) to be healthier

Getting easier...

8) to be happy
9) to be joyful
10) to be loving
11) to be kind
12) to be compassionate
13) to be helpful

Okay... so I might actually like having a to-be list as opposed to a to-do list.

Yesterday, Hubs and I spent the day doing many of these things.  We put the day on hold.  No must do's were included unless they made us happy.

We started with a 2 plus mile walk - yep #7 on the list.

Next we went over and helped the girl - she was having a plumbing issue, had coffee and visited with her and the youngest grand baby.  How many of those to-be's did a simple visit check off.

After that the sun had burned through the mist and fog, and a bright, warm day awaited us.  It was time for an adventure!

We dashed off on the Harley, Hub had selected the Great River Road as our destination.  I love the River Road, I hate the journey there. I am not a fan of riding on the highway, too many people not paying attention, oblivious to the fact that they are guiding a deadly weapon at a high rate of speed while texting or not paying attention.  Don't believe me?  Ride on the back of a motorcycle and look around, it's astonishing.

Once there, it's peaceful though.

Hubs wanted to stop by the Casino in Alton, neither of us gamble.  Why waste our hard earned dollars like that?  It was heart breaking to me.  There were rows upon rows of handicap parking spots, all full at 11 am on a Sunday.  They weren't partaking of the buffet, it was nearly empty in there.  Hubs wanted to walk through, it was a place that his mom loved to go, and he would often take her there. As I wandered around sipping my drink and soaking up the atmosphere it felt horrible.

Bright colored lights, so many seniors and people with disabilities staring blankly as the pressed buttons.  I assume there is some return on investment, even if it's blind hope.  During the 30 minutes we were there we never saw a single light flash to signal a winner.  I felt that the casino was taking advantage of people that were struggling in life.

Back out in the sunshine my mood immediately lifted and off we went towards Grafton.  I was looking forward to sitting on the deck of my favorite winery overlooking the river.  Doing some people watching, and hoping to spot at least a few eagles and beautiful colors.

I was not disappointed on any front!

Hubs found us a spot right at the front under a big umbrella.  There was a fishing tournament happening on the river front, classic cars and tons of motorcycles in a non-stop parade.  We watched people all round us, listened to live music, savored a small snack and I drank wine while he sipped his tea. I did feel a tad guilty, the apple wine reminds me so much of Germany at this time of year.  All that was missing was an onion pie.

By the time lunch was over it was warm enough to lose the lightweight jacket and enjoy the breeze, for the first time we waited for the ferry.  Usually we time our travels that we do not end up waiting in line. Just for it's quick journey back from the other side.

My favorite part of the journey is the other side of the ferry.  I could live over there without a moment's hesitation.  Well, except for the fact that it is Illinois. It's beautiful, peaceful, the low rolling hills and bluffs.  Miles and miles of farm fields, barn quilts, orchards and pastures.  It has a bit of everything that I love.

Top it off with some of the smoothest roads for riding.

It's a great way to spend time with the Hubs.  We can talk, laugh, we look around. It is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon. We were both anxiously watching the odometer, we've only had the bike for 14 months, but we knew we were going to take it over 10K, that's a lot of riding in such a short time.

We'd just crossed the bridge at Hardin and started back down the river road as we noticed it was getting close. I reached around Hubs with the camera, I wanted to be sure I got a picture for him.  Just as we entered the TINY town of Nutwood, we rolled it to 10K, I know it seems silly, but it's a milestone.

We found a little bar, needing a break to stretch our legs and found it was Bloody Mary Sunday.  Yep, he spoiled me again, but come on $1 each?  And they were darn good too.

Hubs made some new friends, he always does, I sat silently enjoying the exchange.  I am not nearly as friendly, and I am really okay with it.  Soon after we were off to enjoy the beauty of Pere Marquette, we were still a bit early for the true color changes, I hope we get another chance to go in up before they all fall.

The beauty of the day was only matched by the perfection of spending a day engrossed in simply being. Being with the ones that you love, focused on the here and now.  It was perfect.

Today... I have that darn to-do list to work on.  Yet as I am thinking on them, I am realizing that it can also be a to-be exercise. Because it is allowing me to be more focused on the why of the task and not simply the task.

I think I need to work on this exercise a bit more.  I need to focus on the positives and on just being.

Anyone care to join me?

Thursday, October 5, 2017


I'm exhausted.

Mentally and physically.

My candle has been being burnt in multiple spots for a while now and my FMS is starting to feel it. My brain is starting to feel fuzzy, my mind is feeling numb, my muscles are starting to scream at life.

I know that if I could simply find/make time to walk the pains would eventually subside, but my weariness is overwhelming lately.  Each minute that I can sleep feels like a precious gift from God.

Stress is my enemy.  I know it is the biggest cause of flares. And for over a month now the entire city of St. Louis has been a powder keg of stress.

If this small but determined group of people is intent on being heard, I think they are doing that. Now I just wish the message made sense.  I wish that I could fully understand and that there was a path and plan out of the darkness. One of my B's keeps trying to help me understand my adopted home.  It's idiosyncrasies, the under currents, the root of the problem so to speak.

I am still struggling.

People are hurting and suffering.  That bothers me greatly. But my outsiders brain cannot wrap around what I am witnessing.

As they blocked a highway the other night, my heart hurt.  Not for the protesters, I'm sorry, but no.  For the innocent people that were stuck sitting there.  For the imagined people that were blocked from the hospital exit - yes I am very aware that the chose a spot further east from that exit, they didn't deliberately block that exit.  But did they consider the ripple effect?  Did they consider how quickly traffic at dusk would back up and quickly block off that route?

I understand the point that they are trying to make.  I think.  That they have been made uncomfortable and they have been trapped by things out of their control.  I think that is what I am hearing and seeing. And it seems that they are wanting everyone to feel their particular pain and suffering, real or imagined.

Here is where I struggle.  I ask questions, it's how I understand things.  I am the original "stupid question" person.

As I packed my lunch for work today, I added an additional few items.  They aren't the most nutritionally rounded items - because I do not know what the person I packed them for likes and can eat. He's a member at my Y.  He's a veteran.  He's homeless, pencil thin and goes sometimes days without eating.  He's in the process of having an entire mouth full of rotten teeth pulled. Yet every day, he comes in, he's currently sporting the sharpest suit and dress shoes I have ever seen!  He's clean shaven, neat as a pin and works out - currently in that suit. If you saw him without his cart of worldly belongings you would never know he was "unhomed" (is the current PC phrase). This sweet kind man, that put his life on the line for us, is always kind and helpful.  He always has a soft word or prayer for everyone he encounters.  He's quiet and slightly unassuming.

I know that he sometimes goes days without eating. Because his pride will not let him ask us or anyone else for food.  Usually it's about the third day when he is getting weak and struggling a bit and the cups of coffee he is drinking are not fitting the bill that he will casually mention that it has been a while since he's had anything to eat.  He's not begging, nor is he asking for food. Just chatting with friends.

Today, I deliberately packed some items that I know he should be able to eat with his sore mouth. Things that will fill his tummy and give him a feeling that he is cared for.  As I was doing this, I felt ashamed.  Ashamed that I didn't give it a conscious thought until this morning.  Ashamed that it took me a few weeks to realize that his casual comment was actually a cry for help.

It wasn't until I was sitting at my dining room table this morning, eating the incredible breakfast that my sweet hubby made for me while I slept staring at the gorgeous bouquet of flowers that he brought for me last night, knowing that I'd had a bad day, that it occurred to me.

During a casual conversation with Hubs about the protesters, their message, my thoughts, reflecting on the conversation I'd had last night with my B, that my sleep addled brain, on little coffee starting to work.

I don't know that it is a black, brown or white problem.  I don't know that it is even a male or female problem.  I don't believe it is a democrat or republican problem.

I think it's a human problem.  A humanity problem.

Am I privileged? Yes.  Is it because I am white?  No.

I work very hard for everything I have in life. Yet, I am just one major disaster away from being that sweet man.

Are there many times that I should do more and get too wrapped up in my own life to see what is before me?  Absolutely.  Do we all?  For the most part.

A few months ago I was helping work on a grant.  We were trying to improve a school playground in an area that these protesters are yelling about.  It was HORRID!  I was shaking for days after seeing what these children were dealing with.  In my heels and dress I was picking up handfuls of broken glass, needles and other items that make me shiver. I wasn't there to do a clean up detail.  I was there to take pictures, to say why we needed the money.

My heart was shattered.

Made worse by the fact that as I walked around doing that, the members of the community were sitting on their front steps, some with the very children that play there, smoking cigarettes, sipping on their cold beverages, watching me like I was crazy. Or like that is something I should have been doing for them.  They were washing their shiny new cars, listening to music blasting from stereos. Yet none of them saw that there was a problem.  Or maybe they did see, and didn't figure it was their problem.

Too many times lately it seems that too many people say I didn't do it, it's not my problem.

I was stunned.  These children deserved better.  Those community members are in complete control over what happens in their community, but if they are willing to turn a blind eye, then nothing changes.

Gandhi wasn't joking. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Pick up the playground, provide food to someone that cannot provide it for themselves (note I didn't say will not - HUGE difference), be the person that someone can lean on and support each other as we ALL move forward on this journey.

Today I will have a conversation with my member.  I will determine what I can do to help him as he works though this horrible spot in his life.  Not enable, help. I'm not rich, not even close, but I can always pack an extra lunch for a bit. And this weekend I might go in search of some workout clothes for this sweet man.

At no point am I doing this because of his color or mine.  It's because it is the right thing to do.

Maybe instead of blocking highways, yelling and intimidating others, breaking windows and causing fear... maybe we could all start by using that energy to clean parks, listen to quiet voices, build up our communities so that the bond is stronger.

Maybe we can start to change the root cause of all of this when we stop trying to be right, when we stop thinking that any of us can change the past and we all start living for the future.  When the first instinct stops being to call someone a racist for not being able to see things through your eyes. When we all take a moment to treat everyone we encounter the way we want to be treated.

Start small.  Pack an extra lunch.  Have a conversation. Open a door.  Carry groceries.  Move that needle.

My exhaustion is feeling overwhelming right now.  But I will put on a smile, and unless you truly know me, you won't see it.  I'm good at putting on that mask. All of us are hiding our hurts, fears, challenges, disappointments, our battle scars.

Make a difference today, please...

Monday, October 2, 2017

both sides...

My heart is hurting.  I'm tired.  I am worn.

I tried to write yesterday.  But I couldn't.  I was angry.  I was simply tired of snappy people.  Youngsters that presume they know everything and show no compassion for anyone that is not connected to their cause that the are fired up and passionate about.

I was FED UP!  All I could feel was that two wrongs do not make a right. When I read her snippy comment, all I could think was have you given any consideration to others?  The same that you are demanding for the people you are passionate about? The tunnel vision and lack of understanding for everyone.

I read "are you uncomfortable?  Good, it's about time"...  what?  How presumptuous.  That very thought process is what causes the hurt, pain and discomfort that many feel.  Guess what you don't know me, I don't know you.  I don't know what journey you have taken or explored to get where you are - but I am going to guess that as you've just graduated college you haven't had nearly as many life experiences as I have.  SO don't presume!

Because I know what feeling uncomfortable feels like.  I know what being a true outsider feels like.  I know how hard it is to make friends, to fit into new communities and groups.  To learn new languages, currencies and electric. Ever plugged in the hair dryer that you barely had enough money to buy and fry it because it's a 110v and that outlet that looked right was really a 220v?

I know all too well what it feels like to have no money and dig through my sofa, chairs, car cushions etc,  hoping that maybe I can afford a can of tuna to put in the generic macaroni and cheese (made with water and bargain margarine) that is going to be the dinner I serve my family that night.

I know what it feels like when you realize that the clothes that you are making your children so they can be "cool" and dressed nice, end up not being cool at all. All those hours spent only to see your baby look sad and disgusted, because you had tried your best without knowing better.

I know how uncomfortable it is to not understand the healthcare system and how terrifying it is to have a sick child and not know what to do.  Or now that I do, have such high co-pays that going to the doctor takes a lot of thought.

I know how uncomfortable it is to not feel welcome in a community, a store, a country, even at times my own home.  I know it is a gross, horrible, unsettled feeling.  Even in my own community now, as different cultures are trying to learn to live together, I try to be sensitive.  I know that due to different religious views I need to be aware of who I'm talking to and when.  I also know that some of my clothing choices are enough to completely stress out a few of my neighbors and I am sure a few are convinced I am going to hell.   I am aware also that some of the people that live near me are terrified of dogs - based again on religious and sometimes life experiences.  I try to be very respectful of that.  I will cross the street to protect their sensitivities.

I try to understand.

Just as I do not know what it feels like to have brown or black skin, people that are not white (by the way I have never met a truly white person) do not know what it is like to have white skin.  I also don't know what it is like to be a red head or have blue eyes. I don't know the challenges of being tall, or having very curly or very straight hair.

At this point in my life, I can fairly reasonably state how "I" have felt being blonde, brunette, graying, short, thin, chubby, fat, with a speech problem, without a speech problem, with a chronic illness and without, definitely uncool, and probably a bit sassy.  I know what it feels like to be an introvert and forced to live in an extroverted world. I know what it is like to not speak the language of the people I am around nor understand their culture.

I know what it feels like to be bullied and lied to.  I know what it feels like to be hurt and damaged. I know what it feels like to have my trust destroyed, to feel lost and to feel uncertain about the future and traumatized by the past.

I know what it's like to have crazy skills in some areas and be lacking woefully in others.  I know the desire to have things that I missed out on and to regret things I wasn't able to have. I know what it feels like to be poor.  I know what it feels like to be comfortable. I know what it feels like to be blessed with experiences others can only dream of and I also know what it feels like to miss out on things that others take for granted.

There are many things that I have never experienced.  There are many things I pray I never do.  And while I cannot first hand understand any of those things, I can show empathy, compassion and love to those that are facing those things first hand.

None of us are trees, we are not planted in one spot forced to endure things that are not right.  Each of us as a human being has the ability to pursue things that are greater than where we are now.  Nothing stops us from doing that, except ourselves.  Too many times it seems that we allow others to define our journey.

I will not take responsibility for anyone's journey through life but my own.  My pride has forced me to do without things that could have made my journey easier - I own that. My work ethic is what has gotten me this far.  If I am not happy with my situation, I have worked to change it.  Sometimes I have worked multiple jobs, learned skills I needed to accomplish something, planted gardens to supplement a lack of grocery money, and taken "lowly" jobs, whatever was needed to not stay in a place that was making me unhappy.  I have fed cows and taken care of nasty houses to make my rent in a beautiful home less.  

I will lend you a hand, I will lift you up, I will encourage and cheer you on.  I will do any and everything I can for anyone, except carry them through their journey.

So yesterday I was angry.  Those words really ticked me off.  I am tired of hearing how I have white privilege. I don't.  I grew up unable to get jobs because I wasn't a minority and it would have put them out of "quota".  I was told by a counselor that it was a shame my child wasn't a minority or even a member of the LGBT community, because I could have gotten scholarships for them.  As it was borderline genius or not, we paid full cost.  We aren't rich, it wasn't/isn't easy. So please stop with that narrative.

Everything I have in life, I have worked my butt off to earn.  I work in excess of a sixty hour week, every week.  I struggle to keep it all together.  And no one is giving me a darn thing.

I have lived in not so nice neighborhoods and worried about what was happening.  I moved.

Just yesterday I had a staff person walk off their shift, uttering profanities and being a total jerk.  Why? I had asked them to do the job I was paying them to do, nothing over the top, simply cleaning a floor.  I knew they hadn't done a darn thing.  Their anger laced tirade about not getting ahead because I wouldn't help them, literally went in one ear and out the other.  Over the course of the past 3 months I had worked to get that person considered for 2 full time positions with benefits. An opportunity and a chance.  Both positions would have been something they could walk into, no questions asked. Instead they turned their nose up at both. Wasn't what they wanted. It was easier to complain, than try to do better.

Today I wake up to the news that a jerk in Las Vegas killed at least 50 people who were simply enjoying their lives.  I'm sure before long it will become a gun control issue.  My guess is that it needs to be a mental health issue.  But what do I know. I have my father-in-law's gun hanging on the wall in my home.  Darnedest thing, I have never once seen it shoot anyone. Just hangs there quietly like a piece of art.

One of my sisters shared that a friends child committed suicide. Why?

My heart is hurting.  We as humans need to learn a lot of things.  But all of it has to start at home, with our own hearts.  Less judgement - from every direction.  More love and compassion.  More willingness to be the change we want to see in the world and less willingness to demand it be given to us.

I have worked hard throughout my life.  I intend to continue doing that.  Because the sense or pure joy and accomplishment is something I could not dream of giving up.

Today as my heart feels battered and bruised for so many that are hurting in this world.  I'd like to take a moment to pray for a little less.  A little less thoughtlessness, selfishness, hatred, bitterness, jealousy, judgmental attitudes and all of those demeaning and hurtful things.  And a little more... a little more compassion, willingness to see all sides, helpfulness, care, love, support, dreams and humanity.

And can we please stop with the labels? Can we simply be friends? Fellow travelers on this crazy road we call life?  People that at some point will need our help and at others will offer their help to us?  It's not a race.  There is no grand prize and plain and simply none of us are getting out alive.  So why not slow down, take a step back.  Fix what is wrong, treat each other with love and kindness and stop trying to be right?

There is no right and there is no wrong.  It's really all somewhere in the middle...

have you tried...

I am learning.   It's a late day for me and I am enjoying the solitude of the morning.  I am working on bringing some balance back ...