Full Moon Friday

"Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colors from our sight,
Red is gray and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?"

-From lyrics to "The Day Begins" by the Moody Blues

There's a full moon rising tonight.  How I love full moons!  In fact, tonight is actually a "blue moon" (that's what the second full moon is called when two occur within a calendar month).  In honor of the occasion, I decided to list some of my favorite full moon memories for Five on Friday this week (feel free to join me if you like)...

1.  As a child on Halloween, keeping an eye on that huge orange-lit moon in the sky, believing I just might see the silhouette of a witch riding by on a broom!

2.  Standing at a crossroads witnessing practitioners of the dark arts, robes flowing around them, bonfire burning, chalice lifted high.  Pale full moon sailing across the sky, eerie sounds in the night.   Intense, powerful, unsettling.

3.  Many years ago, a few days spent with a friend who was a federal employee at Yellowstone National Park.  He lived in a wonderful old house within the park.  We sat on rocking chairs on the front porch watching the full moon slowly rising, huge and beautiful above the hulking black shadows of the mountain tops... breathtaking!

4.  A week spent with Papa Bear at Port Aransas on the Gulf two years ago in late September. The crowds were long gone, the weather was cool and rainy. We walked hand in hand on the beach, waves lapping at our feet, as the full moon rose over the water. The single moment in  my life when I felt most connected to the universe.

5.  Every month out on our deck, soaking in the warm waters of the hot tub, hydrojets turned off.  Listening to crickets and coyotes, seeing the entire back acreage lit up from the brightness of the moon.  Sharing the beauty with Papa Bear.  Peace soaking thru every pore. That's where we will be tonight.

There won't be another blue moon until 2015, Spend a little time tonight gazing at the moon. When you look up, remember... this is something we all share, no matter where we are. We are all connected, we are children of the moon.

Thursday Thoughts - Be Yourself

I am always puzzled by people who act one way when you are alone with them, and then totally different when they are in the presence of someone else. 

I once worked with a young woman who was intelligent, confident and caring. She was a great employee and a fun person to work with.  From time to time a group of staff would go to lunch together, and on occasion her husband would just us.  He was on the police force, and a rather arrogant, intimidating sort.  When he was present, she became a timid, unsure adolescent. In part, I didn't blame her, because anything she contributed to the conversation he either corrected her or contradicted her.  In short, a real ass.  We always groaned if he showed up to join us for lunch, and I often suspected he wasn't a very nice person at home either.  I was actually happy when I heard a few years later, after she left the agency, that they had divorced. I am sure she was glad to be able to be herself again, at least I hope so!

I went thru a similar experience in my last marriage.  It lasted nearly thirteen years, and by the time I stumbled out the door I barely resembled the person I was when we'd first met.  I didn't know who I was, what I believed, or what I even liked anymore.  I did know I was tired, and miserably unhappy.  I'm sure I wasn't much fun for other folks to be around.  It took me a full year to recover my sense of self.

Now I work in a situation where two of my coworkers are nice, friendly, intelligent folks.  We care about each other, converse on many topics, share information about clients and other work-related issues, and in short get along just fine.  I like them.  But, when the third co-worker, the "bad apple" of our bunch, is present, they both take on a totally different persona., laughing at her crudeness, whispering behind backs, making unkind comments about clients, and being distant and uncooperative...  changing just as if someone had flipped a switch.  Huh?  I find myself often wondering "Who are you, really?"  I certainly don't trust folks like that!  If you are so easily swayed, or intimidated by someone with a bigger than life attitude, that you can't just relax and be yourselves in her presence, then well, that's pretty sad, I think!

I treasure people who are themselves.  They don't have to be perfect - I know I'm certainly not, and they don't have to change to suit me, they just need to have some continuity of personality and behavior so that I know where they stand and that I can count on them.  I get annoyed with folks who act like they are my friend one day, and the next seem to hardly know me.  Sounds like grade school stuff, doesn't it?  Yup!

I am pretty much a "what you see is what you get" person.  Not one for games, pretences, or false faces.  I try to be friendly and get along with everyone, but if I find myself having to guess which person you are being today, I probably won't spend much time building a relationship.  I am all about being real.  How about you?

Eye on the Prize

Have you ever watched a cat playing with a laser light? Ours will chase that red dot endlessly, racing across the floors and bouncing off the walls to try to catch the "red bug".  Obviously, they are never able to capture it, even if it lands on their paw, but this doesn't deter them from trying. They never tire of the game.  In fact, as soon as Papa Bear reaches for the little laser light on the end table the cats go on alert, watching his every move and waiting for the red dot to appear.  It fascinates me that they somehow know the little object on the key chain is connected with the appearance of the red bug, and the fun is about to commence.  I am also amazed that they never tire of the game.  They will chase it, tumbling over each other in the process, until they have expended every bit of energy they have in reserve; and despite the fact that they never achieve their goal of capturing the bug, tomorrow they will be just as eager to try again and just as determined to succeed. 

There is a lesson provided by watching cats with a laser light. They acting on instinct.  Instinct tells them to capture anything that appears edible.  They don't spend a lot of time pondering their action, the size of the prize, or how likely they are to fail.  They just do it!  Not only that, but they enjoy the process of pursing their goal!  They are having fun with the game of life! 

I think it's important for us to remember that life isn't all about the achieving our goals or winning the prize.  What we do along the way is just as important.  We need to have hope, we need to persevere, we need to try again when we fail, and above all, we need to have some fun on the journey! 

Coming Soon!

I love writing prompts, something to spark an idea that I can develop into a blog post!  I know that many of you enjoy honing your writing skills too.  With that in mind, beginning next week on September 4th, I'll be hosting "Two Shoes Tuesday". 

Each week I'll provide a one-word writing prompt and ask you to share a short story, poem, essay, thought, or photo relating to that topic.  I'll even give you the word prompt a few days ahead of time (on Saturdays), so that you'll have plenty of  time to ponder and work on your contribution.  Then on Tuesdays I'll  post a Mr. Linky so you can share your work with the rest of us. 

Sound fun?  Then get your thinking caps on and mark your calendars for Two Shoes Tuesday!  Pass the word along to your friends too!

P.S. - If you're itching to get started, drop me an email at and I'll tell you what the word prompt for September 4th is going to be!  :-)

Listen to the Rain

It rained here last evening... no wind, no hail, just a beautiful steady, soaking rain.  The temperature dropped twenty degrees in a very short time, and the air smelled wonderful!  There is nothing quite as refreshing as the smell of rain - particularly if you're living in dry, barren place like we do.  The cats started out the windows in amazement, "What is this?" they seemed to be asking.  This morning everything is freshly washed... the sidewalks, the patio furniture, and our trucks.  I know that rain means the weeds are going to grow, and I don't even care... anything growing here is a sign of life renewing itself.  It has been such a long, hot summer!  I can't thank God enough for the blessing of the rain, and the sense of celebration it created.  How greatly we appreciate that which we long for when it finally comes!

Moving On

This week the writing prompt for Sunday Scribblings is "explore".  This is my story...

Shelly lived in one of the largest cities in South Central Texas.  It had been home for the last five years.  They'd moved there after her husband lost his job not once but twice in the past year.  This was his last opportunity to redeem himself, and to participate in the program that would allow him to retain his professional license.  Shelly hadn't really wanted to relocate, having just started working at a new hospital herself, but it was what it was, and he'd burned all his bridges where they were.  They sold the house they'd built at a time when life held much promise, packed their belongings, and moved.

Shelly found a new job easily, good nurses are always in demand.  They lived in an apartment while hunting for a home, eventually settling on a large fixer-upper in an older established neighborhood.  It was going to take a lot of work, but they both enjoyed that kind of thing, having done a lot of the finishing and landscaping of their first home.

At first everything seemed good, Shelly learned to navigate the city with her GPS, and loved discovering out of the way  places to shop and eat.  There were plenty of recreational opportunities too.   With their careers established, they began talking about starting a family, something they'd put off for several years until they felt ready.  After conferring with specialists and feeling confident it would go well, she began trying  to get pregnant.

About that same time Shelly started to notice a difference in her husband, he was more distant than usual, and with their work shifts opposite of each other, there wasn't a lot of time to work together on the house.  He seemed to tire of the renovation plans and was often spending weekends away, visiting his friend from where they'd lived before.

Then came the week of their much anticipated annual skiing vacation to Tahoe. They'd saved up money for the trip, and had spent hours working on their cross-trainer equipment to be ready for the physical exertion.  Excited as she was, Shelly couldn't help but notice that her husband didn't seem to share her enthusiasm this year. 

Then came the final blow, two days before they were to leave he walked in and announced that he wanted a divorce, he'd met someone new at work and said he no longer loved her. Shelly was devastated, she loved him with all her heart, and couldn't imagine life without him.  He packed a suitcase and left, no time to discuss it, no chance to work it out. 

Shelly had one week to pack and move with ten years of memories tearing at her heart.  She couldn't afford to keep their big house, and living in the shadow of their former life together would have killed her.  She found a small apartment across town, secured movers, and left their home in the pouring rain, it seemed the angels were crying  too.

The next year proved to be the hardest Shelly ever endured. She missed her ex terribly, and she cried every night.  She tried dating, but didn't find anyone who came close to the man he was.  At thirtyfive years old, she'd never felt more alone.  She struggled to focus on her work, and to keep from being overtaken by the depression that haunted her. She lost thirty pounds, her appetite disappearing at the same time her marriage did.  Every place Shelly went in the city brought memories of them being there together, from the home improvement store to their favorite sushi spot. She found herself driving by the old house late at night, and crying all the way back to her apartment after seeing his new girlfriend's car parked in the spot that used to be hers.

One day Shelly realized that she couldn't do this any longer, she couldn't keep living in the past. She couldn't keep bumping into memories.  It was time for a fresh start, time to make a change.  She went online and started looking at job opportunities in cities across the country.  Shelly wanted her new home to be a place that was cooler, with lots of water and trees.  Some place pretty, with real seasons, and large enough to afford the big city amenities she was used to.  She wanted a job that didn't require the ability to speak a foreign language to communicate with the majority of patients. 

After much deliberation, Shelly zeroed in on an area where she'd received several responses to her resume, and flew there for a week of interviews and apartment hunting.  The job part came easy, one suited her perfectly with the right hours, the right nurse/patient ratio, and friendly staff.   It was a huge hospital system, in the center of the city, it would mean a long commute each day, but she felt she could handle it.  Finding housing was harder, she hunted and hunted, searching the newspaper ads, online, and in realtor brochures.  On the last day of her stay Shelly found the right spot, a ground floor apartment in a complex with a walking path surrounded by trees, a place her cats could enjoy being outdoors again. 

A month later all the arrangements had been completed.  The moving van loaded up her belongings and pulled away from the curb.  It was time to go.  Shelly loaded her beloved furkids into their new travel crates and settled them into the backseat of her car.  One final drive around the city, past the old house, and the work place, and the river that flowed thru the center of town.  Then it was time to go. 

She was on her way clear across the country to her new life... a new job, a new home, and a brand new city to explore.  She'd done it, she'd survived the hell of the last year alone,  and now here she was, setting out on a new adventure in a new place to call her own.  Shelly wiped her tears away, cranked up the volume on the radio, and headed down the road.

What's Your Message?

It's Saturday again, and I do love my Saturdays!  Here's what I'm pondering today for Six Word Saturday...

What does your t-shirt slogan say?

Everywhere you look you'll see someone wearing a t-shirt that bears a slogan. Some are serious and some are funny.  Others are sarcastic, and some are downright crude.  I never cease to be amazed at the messages people choose to share with the world.

My ex loved slogan t-shirts, and he had many. Some were clever, some related to his love of rock music and playing drums, others were obscene and I refused to go out with him when he wore them. Children, and adults with a sense of decency, don't need to be randomly exposed to that.

Standing in line at at the store this week, two t-shirts caught my eye.  One, on a middle-aged, nondescript woman said "I understand I just don't care."  Hmmm, not really very impressive.  I am passionate about caring... to my way of thinking not caring is nothing to proclaim to the world with pride.  Given, she could be referring to not caring about swirling drama or someone who feeds on attention, but the message I got was that she just didn't give a darn.  Pretty sad.

The other was on a young man.  It said   "Don't let your fears be bigger than your faith."  That's a good one!  It tells me this guy has his head on straight and knows what's important. I would expect that if he believes what his shirt says, he'll be able to cope with what life throws his way.

I like t-shirts with a good message, I enjoy the humorous ones that make me smile, and I shake my head at those that seem like misguided statements, or are simply vulgar.  It's interesting to see if the t-shirt slogan seems to fit the person wearing it, or if perhaps it might have been a loaner or a hand-me-down.  Sometimes the t-shirt itself is a message, so undersized for it's occupant that one fears for the durability of seams!

Do you wear slogan t-shirts?  If so, do you give thought to what message they convey?  Does it reflect who you really are, or was it just in your favorite color?  Is it a tribute to your favorite band, or a likeness of a familiar green leaf?  Does it have something important to say? 

If you could design the perfect slogan t-shirt that would tell us something about you, what would yours say?

Five Things I'm Thankful For This Week

I haven't done a Five on Friday list for awhile, and today seemed like a good day for one.  Here's five things I'm thankful for this week...

1)  Cooler weather... beautiful mornings in the 70's instead of the high 90's! It's been such a miserably hot summer, and the break from it has been wonderful.  We've even had a few light rain showers, such a rare and much needed blessing!

2)  A lighter work load than usual.  Our two attorney's have an unprecedented number of hearings this month, and it's been a mad scramble to prepare for them. This past week things have settled down a bit, leaving time to breathe and even check in online now and then.  I am used to going non-stop all day long, so the change of pace was a nice break.

3) A headset for my work phone... at last!  I type a lot of notes and intake information while talking to clients on the telephone.  Until now this was done while attempting to cradle the phone between my ear and shoulder, leaving me with a definite kink in the works by the end of day. The new wireless headset is beyond great! I can scan at the copier or walk down the hall while still  answering the constantly ringing  phone, and both hands are now free for the keyboard!  I'm wearing it in the above photo :-)

4) Fun phone and text visits with my son and daughter. They are doing so great in their lives, and nothing makes a mother's heart more glad or gives me more peace of mind. My daughter is tentatively planning to have a house built, my son has engaged in a sideline financial venture with a friend who is breeding albino snakes to sell. I am glad this isn't happening at his house, I would never go to visit!  :-)

5) I am most thankful of all for my beloved Papa Bear, who sticks with me thru good times and bad, who is so very caring, and so forgiving of my sometimes grumpy demeanor.  I love that he takes time to text me love notes during the day!

Five bonus blessings that cannot be discounted come in the shape of our five furkids.  Yes, they require a bit of work and care; and yes, our house is a bit furry because of their presence; but they add so much love and laughter with their affection and antics! One can never over-estimate the benefits of having a beloved pet or two... or five!

Did you have five blessings in your week to count and share?  I'll bet you do if you spend a little time thinking about it!  Wishing you all a great weekend coming up, I'm intending to make it a productive one!

Listen With Your Heart

Have you seen the new movie Hope Springs starring Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones?  (You can watch the trailer here.)  We saw it last weekend, and it's really good, though not at all what I was expecting. We anticipated that it was going to be a fairly light and humorous look at love and marriage. Instead, it was intensely serious, sprinkled with just enough light moments to make it good viewing. 

Meryl and Tommy Lee play a middle-aged couple who have lost the spark in their marriage.  The wife is deeply unhappy with the state of their relationship and how it's evolved over the years, with intimacy being lost along the way.  The husband seems less concerned and is far from supportive of his wife's plan effect change.  I won't spoil the movie with the details and outcome. 

I think every couple who has been together for awhile would benefit from seeing this film, there is much to reflect on regarding your own relationship.  Do you know for certain if your spouse is happy and content with the way things are between you?  Are you?  Do you have unfulfilled dreams and fantasies?  Does he/she?  Do you still connect at the same level you did in the early years of your relationship?  Is the physical attraction just as strong?

Most certainly relationships change with time, hopefully for the better.  My beloved Papa Bear says that real love grows a little bit stronger every day, and I've come to realize that is true.  You may look at your partner thru different eyes than you did years ago, but hopefully those eyes see more to admire than they did in the beginning.  Attraction changes, but it doesn't need to lose its intensity or its expression. 

Meryl Streep just gets better and better with age, and Tommy Lee was perfect in his role of the inattentive spouse.  They made a very believable couple, the emotions felt very real.  What seemed to be missing most in the relationship they portrayed was the willingness to hear what each other was trying to say.  They weren't really paying attention to each other, they weren't communicating about more than the basics of everyday cohabitation.  They were more like roommates than two people who had shared a lifetime of love and memories.  It was incredibly sad and painful to watch. 

 I encourage you to go see this movie, or rent it when it becomes available.  It will remind you of what's really important in your relationship... that you make time for each other, that you have fun together, that you communicate your thoughts and feelings, and most of all... that you listen with your heart.

Hot Tubbing With Skunks

Ah yes, that would be a small skunk in the above photo, and that would be our hot tub behind it!  Over on the left you can see the bowls of cat food and water that I keep out for two feral tomcats who are regular vistors. 

We have an infrared motion camera on the deck to record who/what comes and goes 24/7 and we've had a larger skunk show up quite often at night to share in the bounty.  Skunks love cat food.  We have never smelled skunk spray.  In fact they eat side by side with the tomcats and get along just fine.  Apparently cats see them as rather strange relatives, though technically they aren't.  It has never been a problem, since skunks are nocturnal and only come to eat after dark and when we aren't around. 

Monday night things went a little differently.  When John opened the door he saw a young skunk at the food bowl who quickly departed when John flipped the light on.  (We always check before exiting so as not to surprise one, that could go very badly! ) He then turned the light out and we climbed into the hot tub, which is so very relaxing in the hot water underneath the canopy of stars!  We were laughing and talking, and didn't think anything further about it, knowing that wild animals are afraid of humans and avoid them when possible. 

A short while later, as I climbed down the steps to return to the house, I looked down in the dark and saw a shadow at the food bowls.  At first I thought it was our cat who had stayed out late.  But no... that little tail was MUCH to fluffy to be Chloe.  YIKES... a skunk!  Apparently it wasn't pleased that it's dinner had been interrupted earlier and came back to finish!  It calmly continued eating as I madly scrambled back into the hot tub, hoping to avoid any sudden burst of skunk spray!  John splashed some water over the side which sent the little one skittering away into the night.  Thankfully, it was too young to be a stinker.  We are guessing that it might be one of the big skunk's offspring who has learned that it is much easier to eat our cat food than forage for a meal.  We were amazed that it opted to come up and visit while we were present.  I guess he assumed that as long as we couldn't see him down there he was safe!  My foot was on the bottom step when I noticed him.  If he'd have been any closer I would have stepped on him!  We laughed about it all night! 

Sadly, the skunk cafe will have to close down.  From now on I'll put food and water out during the day, as the tomcats also come up during daylight hours to eat.  When it gets dark the food and water will disappear, discouraging nocturnal striped visitors.  I really, really don't want to encounter a big skunk by surprise... that would not be fun at all.  I also can't afford to feed an increasing skunk population if word goes out about the great food on deck! 

It was fun seeing them show up on the "cat cam" each night, and I regret having to send them on their way, but it would be difficult to explain to the insurance folks how I fell and cracked my head open on the hot tub while scrambling to avoid a skunk.  It would not be a pretty picture, there will be no film at eleven.  Sorry Mama Skunk and Junior, the all-night cafe is going out of business.

I Believe in Rainbows

I believe in rainbows.  I wrote that last evening in a comment on my previous post. As I was typing it, something told me to use it as my post topic for today.  At that point I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to write about it.  Funny how things happen at times that make more sense to us later on...

I work for a law firm that handles Social Security disability claims. Shortly after I arrived at work this morning I received a phone call from one of our clients. We will call her Tonya.  She is just a few years younger than me.  Tonya told me in a shaky voice that she had attempted to commit suicide on Friday night by taking an overdose of medication.  She was taken by ambulance to the local hospital and spent the weekend in ICU.  Tonya remembers little of it, and nearly accomplished what she intended to do.  Now she's been transferred to a behavioral health services hospital for follow-up care. She says she's not doing too well.

I've met Tonya a couple times when she has come in for appointments, but I don't know her well, and wouldn't be able to pick her out in a room full of people.  Yet her call took my breath away.  I spoke to her kindly, with as much encouragement as I could convey, then I hung up the phone and cried.  I cried for all the calls we've received like this, people who are struggling with huge physical and/or mental issues.  I cried for the ones who have been rescued, and for the ones who didn't get help in time.  I cried for the friends and loved ones who've attempted to end their lives, and for those who succeeded.  I cried for the times in my past when I strongly considered that option.  To be in that place is to feel no hope for your life, and to want the pain and suffering to be over.  It is a very dark and lonely place. 

I wanted to tell Tonya about rainbows... the beautiful band of colors we see arched across the sky after a storm.  I want to tell her that rainbows are God's promise to us, that He is always with us, and that life will go on.  I want her to know that no matter how hopeless life feels at times and how dark the night is, there is always a sunrise to follow, and in time she will find her way with bright colors returning to her life too. 

At one point when I was living with my ex, more existing than living really - and just barely that, I stood outside one evening trying to clear my head and figure out what to do.  It had just finished raining and a huge rainbow arched across the sky overhead as the sun peeked back out from the clouds.  Within minutes yet another rainbow crossed over the first one directly above me.  I took it as a sign that God was there with me, I wasn't all alone.

I didn't know it that night, but the storms raging in my life were soon to be over. God had plans for me more wonderful than I ever could have imagined.  Look at my life now!  It is indeed a rainbow of peacefulness, laughter, security, and the joy of being loved!

I think back to the other times, years ago, when I didn't think I could endure another day of the life I was trapped in.  I had a precious friend who always used to tell me in our late night phone calls that things would change, that it would get better,  and to just wait and see.  I didn't really believe him, but I wanted to desperately.  He was offering me hope, and I held on tight to a tiny corner of it... he was my rainbow.  He was also right!  My journey was going to take me down more dark roads and many twists and turns before I made back into the sunshine, but if I had chosen to take the shortcut back then, to skip out on the rest of what was planned for me... just look what I would have missed!  I would never have known how good it can be, and how very much God loves me. 

Yes, I believe in rainbows, and I want you to know that no matter how dark life feels at times, there is always hope.  If you just hold on tight, there will be a rainbow after your storm too.

Been A Long Time Comin'

This story is written in response to the Sunday Scribblings prompt "drought"... 

Nearing 40, Sarah was long past her courting years.  Still, it pained her to hear the children of their dusty Kansas town referring to her as an "old maid" within earshot.  It wasn't the way she'd wanted things to be, it just was.

Sarah had grown up on her parent's small farm, the oldest of  nine children.  Her Mother had been sickly since the last two were born, and most of the house chores had fallen to Sarah.  It was she who took care of her younger siblings, cooked and cleaned, and did the laundry.  It was back breaking work, and the years of toil showed on her face and hands. 

Farming wasn't easy in the depression years, what crops they did manage to get in the ground often scorched in the sun, or were blown away by the dry wind.  What managed to get a foothold was soon devoured by grasshoppers.  It was a hard life, and money was scarce.  Sarah did what she could to help out, baking pies to sell on Saturdays at the farmer's market in town, and taking in sewing and mending.  There hadn't been time for entertaining thoughts of courting, she knew she was needed at home.

Sarah never got past sixth grade, but those few years in the small rural schoolhouse had instilled in her a love of reading.  Late nights often found her in the rocking chair next to the fireplace, squinting to make out the words on pages in the pale light of a kerosene lamp.  She'd read her Bible cover to cover more times than she could count, and had borrowed books from the teacher, the preacher, the store owner, and anyone else willing to lend her a copy.  She dreamed of far away places and a life very different from her own.

It was late Springtime now, and a small sprinkling of rain had given hope to the local farmers. Sarah's father was getting on in years, and she didn't see how he was going to manage planting without help. His sons had long since grown and moved on to other places to start families of their own.  They wanted no part of the uncertainty of farming.

Sarah left word with Sam, the owner of their small general store, that they were looking for a farm hand, someone who needed a place to stay and would be willing to work in exchange for food and lodging, and maybe a bit of money when and if the crops came in.  He told her he'd be sure to pass the word along.

Just a week later, a man showed up at the door, hat in hand, bib overalls well worn.  He said his name was Abraham, but folks just called him Abe.  Sarah liked the way his blue eyes twinkled when he spoke, and he looked strong enough to do the job.  He told Sarah's father that he was a widower from Wisconsin, his wife had died of pneumonia several years ago.  Abe said he was looking for new start in a place where he wasn't surrounded with memories of the love he once had. 

Sarah's father showed Abe the small shed beside the barn that held a cot, table and chair,  and a small woodstove, and told him to make himself at home.  Before long he was settled in and went to work on repairing fences that had long been neglected. 

Sarah watched him out the kitchen window while she washed up the dishes.  The sun was baking hot, and Abe soon pulled off his shirt, working in just his undershirt and overalls, stopping often to wipe the sweat from his brow with an old handkerchief he kept stuffed in his back pocket.  Sarah noticed how brown he was, lean and muscled, and how quickly he worked on putting the fence right.  

Sarah reached for the bowl of lemons she'd been saving for a lemon pie, and decided to make a pitcher of lemonade instead.  She mixed the lemon juice with cool water pumped from the outdoor well, and sweetened it with a bit of sugar.  Filling a tall glass, she took off her apron, tucked in the strands of hair that had worked lose from her tightly wrapped braid, and headed out across the yard to where Abe was working.

Abe looked up and smiled when he saw her approaching,  that  lemonade looked mighty good, and Sarah was a right pretty woman.  He  had noted that she wasn't wearing a wedding ring, and he wondered if she might be widowed too.  Sarah shyly offered him the cool drink for which he expressed much gratitude.  She invited him to join them for dinner at sundown.  She had a chicken roasting she said.  There'd be potatoes and baked beans as well, and apple pie for desert. 

Abe broke into a wide grin, it had been a mighty long time since he'd tasted freshbaked apple pie.  He thanked Sarah for the invite and said he'd be glad to accept.  As Sarah walked back toward the house, empty glass in hand, her steps were a bit lighter and she didn't feel quite as tired as she had before.  She was thinking that just maybe God heard her prayers after all, and the long drought was fixing to be over.

The Season of Nostalgia

It's Six Word Saturday, and
It's that time of year again!

The summer is winding down, the sun rises a little later in the morning, and evenings are a bit cooler.  If we lived in the land of trees, leaves would soon be dressing in wonderful colors before tumbling to the ground.  It is also the time when schools are starting up again. That stirs memories in all of us of our own school days long past.  How the years slip away!

As a girl growing up in the 60's in a small Midwest town, life was fairly simple.  After a summer of playing outside, swimming at the nearby lakes and local pool, going on picnics, bicycling back and forth across town to visit friends,  and devouring book after book for the Public Library's summer reading program, it was time to prepare for the new school year.  I loved school and I loved learning, so for the most part I welcomed the approaching Fall. 

 August brought an out-of-town shopping day to find school clothes and shoes for my sisters and me.  Girls were not permitted to wear pants to school back then, so skirts and dresses were the order of the day.  Then came the exciting trip to the local variety store (otherwise known as the "dime store" or "5 & 10") for school supplies.  I am amazed at what we could buy for five dollars back then... tablets, pencils, crayons, scissors, paste, a ruler, a small pack of Kleenex tissues, and of course the pre-requisite cigar box to store them in.  There were no backpacks, we carried our supplies in our arms... and when we reached high school level we lugged heavy textbooks home for study that way too!

 Back in those days there wasn't registration for kids who had attended before. You simply showed up on the first day of school with the supplies required for your grade level  as listed in the local newspaper.  If you lived anywhere in town it was assumed you walked to and from school, mom didn't drop you off and pick you up afterwards. It might be healthier if kids did a little more walking now! 

Our school was a huge, old, three-story building constructed of granite blocks with many long narrow windows (which I was to spend hours looking out of and daydreaming as I grew bored with the slow pace of learning in the classroom).  Air-conditioning was unheard of.  It was miserably hot when school started in August, and just as hot when the term finished at the end of May, but there was always recess to look forward to, followed by milk breaks... chocolate milk if your family could afford five cents instead of three.

 Our town at that time was large enough to require two classrooms for each grade, and sometimes three. The first day was always a nervous time... would you get the fun teacher or the reputed "mean" one, the young one or the one who'd been teaching since the dinosaur days?  Would any of your friends be in the same room as you?  Would you be seated at your desks in alphabetical order, and who would you end up next to?

The first few days were busy with learning the ropes and rules, then it was time to settle into the business of another year of school... and to begin counting down 'til Christmas vacation!

In retrospect, life was so very simple then, at least it was in my world. I know for many children the story was much different, a new school every year and sometimes mid-year, never the opportunity to settle in, make friends, or hit your stride. My heart goes out to them, and to the kids who really struggled in school, for whom it was a torturous experience.  Teaching methods and classroom conduct have changed a lot since then, much for the better I'm sure, but I wish they'd still put some emphasis on the "3R"s... reading, writing, and arithmetic.  I am horrified at what we see on job applications from high school graduates today!  I also wish parents still taught their children proper classroom behavior so teachers could spend less time dealing with acting out and more time teaching.  The same goes with over-zealous government regulation which as turned teaching into producing test-score results, rather than ensuring kids are actually learning something and developing a love of learning along the way. 

I miss those old days, I think most of us do.  The wonders of technology and the Internet have changed the process of education in ways we never could have imagined, but I'm betting that first day is just brings just as much excitement mixed with a bit of anxiety as it did back then!  I'll be watching out for kids in the cross-walks in the coming weeks, I hope you will too!

Guessing Games

 I am not good at guessing games, I don't enjoy them.  I am very much an out front "what you see is what you get" type of person.  If I think something, I'll say it; if I want to know something, I'll ask; and if I want to share something, I will.  I don't expect others to read my mind, that could be a scary experience! :-)  Likewise, I don't enjoy trying to read other people's minds, read between the lines, or decipher cryptic messages or silences.

It's like the folks who post a vague comment on Facebook  such as "Wow, I can't believe this happened" or a mysterious quotation with no further explanation as to what it's all about.  That translates as one of two things to me... either (A) you want me to ask, responding to your need for attention, or (B) you don't want me to ask, you want me to ponder it and come up with possible scenarios. You want me to worry about it. In reality I find it just plain annoying.

I once worked with a woman that frequently, at least once a week,  wandered in the hallways moping, head down, walking slowly, sometimes teary-eyed, looking like a lost soul.  This generally achieved the desired result... which was for everyone to take notice, ask what was wrong, and attempt to comfort her for the issue of the day.  I learned to ignore her altogether when she was putting on a show.  I'm not saying that no one ever has a down day or doesn't have the right to show it, I'm just saying that regularly scheduled performances are overkill and eventually have the opposite effect on folks... no one will take notice, and no one will care when the time comes that you really do need a bit of comfort.

The folks who don't want to tell you what's bothering them, or will tell you when asked that their comment meant nothing, bother me even more.  Something had to be on your mind to inspire you to post that picture, or that quotation, or that comment!  If you didn't care to share your thoughts, why bother to share anything at all?  It's kind of like saying "I want you all to notice that I'm upset, but I'm not going to tell you why."  Childish, irritating, frustrating, time wasting! 

For heaven's sake, if you've got something you want to say, or need to say, just say it!  I deal far better with situations that I am aware of than I do with situations that leave me playing guessing games. Most often I will decline the invitation to play.  No thank you, I don't need this kind of drama in my life.

Does Everybody Have A Price?

The Hutterites want an apology from the National Geographic Society for the reality-tv series "Meet the Hutterites", saying that the show "misrepresented their way of life and damaged their reputation".   They didn't mention anything about returning the $100,000 the King Ranch Colony was paid to participate in the production. That money's already been spent.  

There was a Hutterite colony near the small town where I lived when I was young.  My father was a John Deere salesman and often went to the colony to sell them new farm equipment.   Dad loved to go there near lunchtime, as he was always invited to  stay and share their meal. The ladies were good cooks just as portrayed in the show, food was hearty and plentiful.  He was always treated well.  The Hutterites there were first and foremost a religious colony, they took their beliefs and traditions seriously.

John and I enjoyed watching "Meet the Hutterites", but we had doubts about the "reality" of some of the episodes early on.  He thought the "near heart-attack" was faked (and indeed it turns out that it was).  I quickly noted that there was almost no reference to religion or faith, with the exception of the ongoing storyline of some of the young adults preparing for baptism, which would enable them to become full members of the community.  In fact, the frequency of conversational "cuss words" took me by surprise.

The Amish, the Mennonites and Hutterites all provide a good deal of latitude when it comes to their young  people "testing the waters" a bit before deciding whether to commit themselves to the group or to abandon it in favor of mainstream society.  However, "Meet the Hutterites" took it to new levels, often portraying the young people as lazy, somewhat dull-witted, and alcohol-fueled. 

Certainly there are young people (and old) in any defined group that are going to rebel against group mores. Some will try to change things, others will opt to leave. All will face strong opposition from group leadership intent on preserving group identity.  Was it overdone on this series for the sake of viewer ratings?  Were the main participants in the show encouraged and even directed in what to say and do to create scenarios that would capture audience attention?  Sadly, it appears so.  We know this occurs behind the scenes in most, if not all, so called "reality-tv" programming.  Anyone who believes none of this stuff is scripted or at least prompted is naive. 

That isn't so much the issue with me.  What bothers me is that The King Ranch Colony had an unequalled opportunity to teach the world a little bit about who they are and what they stand for, and maybe to garner a bit of respect along the way.  One of the final episodes even portrayed them doing a presentation at a local college to share their way of life with the students there.  They wanted to be better understood, they wanted to dispel the misconceptions... or so they said. Then why, in the name of God, would you sell your collective souls, and sham the American public into believing this was a fair example of real life and typical interaction within a Hutterite Colony?  Why would you participate in scripted stories while claiming to share your reality with us? 

The answer I'm sure... is sadly... $100,000.  Maybe when they signed the contract they didn't realize what they were getting into; maybe they should have read the fine print closer. But the bottom line, at least for me, is... how much money does it take to get you to abandon your beliefs and principles to participate in fabricated story lines? What is the price of a lie? 

Now the Hutterite leadership is crying fowl, they were misled, they are embarrassed.  They should be!  Why didn't anyone stand up half way thru the filming and oppose the fakery?  Was there no one with enough courage and conviction to speak out?  Sad, really sad.

This leads to a really deep question... does everybody have a price?  If the dollar amount is attractive enough, is there a limit to what you would do, or I would do?  What if they made a lucrative offer to do a "reality-tv show" of your family, would you sign on the line? 

Southpaw Proud

Today is International Left-Handers Day!  I'm one of the 10% of our population who can lay claim to being special... a "southpaw" and proud of it!  None of my parents, siblings, or children share this attribute with me.  It could explain a lot of things, just saying! :-)


The writing  prompt for this week's Sunday Scribblings is "talisman"...

Razorblade.  In her teen years Winn kept a wrapped one inside her shoe. It gave her comfort and security, knowing the way out was always close at hand if things got too bad. From time to time she would unwrap the blade and test the edge against her finger, making sure it was still sharp enough for it's intended purpose.  It turned out to be her lucky charm, she never had to use it.

Ramblin Jos

I ran across something new today... a blog that limited the length of comments.  A box popped up to tell me that my comment exceeded the allotted space, but that I could break it into two comments if I wanted.  It took a couple attempts at editing to get it accepted as one comment.  It didn't offend me, it made me laugh!  I am known for rambling on with my comments... blogging in other people's comments box.  I tend to ramble on a bit in my posts too, in case you haven't noticed! Ya, right... you've noticed... and probably groaned or gave up after the first run-on paragraph or two!  It just seems that I always have so much I want to say.  Maybe the gods were trying to tell me something?  

Look, this is  a short post, just to prove I really can do it!  Don't expect to see it often though,  words flow from my fingers just as they do from my mouth and mind.  Someday I'm going to find the off switch for that hamster wheel spinning in my head... but for now, I am who I am!  Thank you for bearing with me! :-)

Do You?

It's Six Word Saturday time... this is what is weighing on my heart today...

Do You Believe In Your Children?

In a recent post entitled Cutting Words, I wrote about the hurtful things we sometimes let fly out of our mouths and the damage they can do. Often they are things said carelessly, or in a moment of anger or frustration.  Today I read something that triggered a memory and compelled me to write a bit more on the subject of things we say... in this case to our children, and specifically to our children who are grown up or nearing that point.

What I read was a post by a blog friend in which her mother had commented in response to my friend's upcoming eighteenth wedding anniversary, that she was surprised they had made it this far and wondered if they would make it to twenty. WOW! What "wonderful" thing to say to someone you allegedly love!  It hurt my friend deeply.

It brought back a memory of when I was 40 and preparing to marry my third husband. My parents lived a thousand miles away and had never met him, they knew little of my life and nothing of his.  I was the happiest I had been in a long time... until a letter arrived in the mail from my mother.  I opened it to discover that she had taken the time and effort to compile a list of everything I'd ever done wrong in life, every bad choice I'd ever made... the letter went on for pages.  She listed things even I had long since forgotten.  It broke my heart.  I cried for days and then I burned it, never wanting to read those hurtful words again. Our already tenuous relationship never fully recovered.

My mother had a point in writing that letter, she was telling me that I was making yet another bad choice in my life. The underlying message was "You always  make bad choices." I didn't realize it then, but ultimately she turned out to be right, it did prove to be yet another bad choice.  But in reality that's beside the point, it's not what she was trying to say that was wrong, it was how she said it.  It might have been ok if she would have called or written and asked me to consider specific points or concerns she had about him.  Concern is one thing, condemnation is another. 

What I wanted more than anything was for my parents to be happy for me... and to be proud of me.  Something I never managed to fully accomplish in life, and they're gone now, passed over to the spirit world.  I doubt if I could have made them proud of me in a hundred years.  As I grew older, I learned to stop hoping for their approval and to go on with my life.

What my blog friend's mother said to her is of the same vein... hurtful and with no purpose but to put down, to tell her daughter in so many words that she doesn't believe in her, in her choices, or in her ability to work out her own life successfully.  This comes from a mother with a truly dysfunctional life, who should be thanking God her daughter has worked so hard at building a solid relationship.  She should be proud of her, and yet her daughter heard those words of doubt instead. 

Recently, as I was sorting thru some of the clutter in the house, I looked at a stack of squares for an afghan I started a year or so ago.  Unfinished as of yet, set aside as I  moved on to something else, as I often do.  My mother's words of condemnation rang in my ears... "You never finish anything".

Our house is dusty, and I'm curled up with my laptop or my Kindle reading... I hear in my head "You are lazy."  Why did she say that? Because I didn't dust the blinds in my room or didn't put away my folded laundry. 

At fiftyeight years old, I found myself thinking, "You are right Mom, I am lazy and I never finish anything."  These are just a few examples of the negative feedback I got from my parents, and I have to wonder how those "You always", "You never" and "You are" statements impacted me on subconscious levels.  Do we tend to live up to or down to the expectations bestowed on us?  Did I long consider myself to be a failure at life because I knew I was a failure in their eyes?  I don't see myself as a failure any longer.  I am a survivor, that is one things I have amazingly, successfully done, inspite of them.

I learned a powerful lesson from those pronouncements though... NEVER, EVER to do that to my children, even now as they are grown up.  No blanket pronouncements, no judgemental statements.  If I think they are making a mistake in their lives, or missing an important point, I might bring the topic up, but ultimately the choice is theirs, and I support them all the way... and they KNOW that. 

I BELIEVE IN MY CHILDREN!  I believe they have the intelligence, the knowledge and the motivation to find their way thru life.  It hasn't always been easy for either of them, they've seen their share of hurts, they've had to pick themselves  up a time or two.  It breaks a mother's heart.  We can't always heal their hurts or fix their problems, and we shouldn't.  The most important thing in life is something I didn't learn for a very long time... to START AGAIN, that no matter what happens we must dust ourselves off and start again, rather than beginning a downward spiral into darkness and defeat.

I believe that my children are caring and loving. I know they are, they show me that all the time.  I believe they can handle their own finances and careers.. their lives are proof of that.  I believe they will ultimately choose partners who will compliment them and bring joy and contentment to their lives, just as I have done. 

My children KNOW I love them, I believe in them, and I am proud of them. I TELL THEM, and I tell them often!   They know that I have confidence in their ability to resolve their problems and find their way.  They are both so far ahead of where I was at that age when it comes to life skills and successful living.  I am amazed.  They didn't learn it from me.  Maybe they learned it, in part, because of me.  That's ok too.  When I die, I will do so knowing that my kids can take care of themselves and that they will treat others with kindness and compassion.  To me, that's the most I could ever hope for or dream of!

Those words, those horrible judgemental words parents sometimes say to their children... blanket condemnations, or worse yet things like "I never wanted you".  Yes, I have a friend whose mother actually told her that!  Or, "I never want to see you or speak to you again", because a friend told her mother she was a lesbian... and the mother stood by it to her dying day.  Wow!  You created this child, you gave them life!  And then you slash their heart in two with your words? 

There are ways to share your concerns if you see your child heading in a direction that troubles you, hopefully by the time they reach adulthood you've established a relationship that allows for exchange of thoughts and feelings without resorting to condemnation or emotional control tactics.  The bottom line is, while I may not always agree with my children one hundred percent, and they may not always do things the way I might, or see situations the way I would, I believe in their ability and their right to make the best choices for their lives as they see them... and then to live with the consequences and make adjustments as needed. 

The greatest gift you can give your child is to believe in them.  This is the most powerful confidence you can arm them with for life.  Do you believe in your children?  Do they know it?  Tell them!

Don't Bring Me Down

I don't understand people who start the day out in a bad mood, I don't get it.  Even if I wake up still feeling tired, which I often do, once I'm out of the shower and moving I am ready for whatever the day brings. I am a morning person and I see each day as a new beginning, a clean slate to write my life on. I want to make it count, and I want to go to bed feeling good about it, or at least that I made a valiant effort.

My workday starts earlier than Papa Bear's, so I leave the house before he is awake.  That works well for us, as we have limited bathroom space and he is not a chipper morning person... at least until he's had a cup of coffee to get him going.  So the house is quiet as I get ready, just me and the cats.

I head down the road for the eighteen mile drive to town. The sun is bright and already warm in the bright blue sky canopy above. The air smells fresh and traffic is relatively light until I get downtown.  I have time to think, time to pray, time to adjust my attitude for the coming day.

I arrive at the office early, ahead of everyone. I unlock all the doors of our suite on the 9th floor, then settle in to drink a breakfast shake and check my email before it's time to transfer calls back from the answering service.  Usually I have time to do a bit of blogging of see what's new on Facebook.  I start the day in a peaceful, productive frame of mind. 

Then reality steps in... the first coworker is late, as usual, as she is nearly every day.  It isn't questioned or addressed. She feels entitled.  The phone appt she has for 9 AM calls in a few minutes after nine, stating she had to run an errand, is on her way home, and will be available for the appt in just a few minutes.  I tell her it's ok, that the person she is to speak with is also running a bit late and will call her shortly.  Said coworker soon arrives, and informs me that if the client calls again I will need to reschedule their appointment because she just tried to call them and they are unavailable. I tell her the client will be at the designated phone number within five minutes.  She grumbles and says she will wait no more than ten minutes. Ok, I understand. No-shows and "I forgots" are a common thing here, we work with people who have disabilities combined with a lot of life issues and not always great coping skills.  However, we have one hour blocked off for what will take less than 30 minutes, so there should be some leeway.  To reschedule means yet another game of phone tag in a week or so.  I suggest/request that we call the client one more time before cancelling her allotted time. My coworker is not happy with me. Customer service with a smile is not her forte.  It is ok for her to be late, but not ok for our client, who did at least check in, to be a little bit late.  Sigh

The second coworker arrives, she was out sick with a headache yesterday.  She is out for some reason or another on the average of once a week.  She works half-days and goes to another job in the afternoon. Her work is piling up, and we are digging thru piles looking for documents that have not yet been scanned in.  She comes in looking like she was run over by a truck.  She says she still feels terrible and doesn't know how she will get much work done in her present state.  She goes up to coworker one's office to park and visit for awhile.

My bright morning spirits are beginning to droop.  I can see this is going to be a "lovely" day.  Thankfully, my third co-worker always has a friendly greeting, even though I know she often truly doesn't feel well, and has a lot going on at home.  She is almost always kind and considerate to our clients and helpful to me.

My supervisor/attorney returns from a morning of hearings. (Her husband, our other attorney,  is at hearings out of town today.)  When the other three coworkers have departed for lunch/home, she heats her lunch in the microwave and stops by my office to visit.  She is only in her mid-30's, expecting their second child in January.  We visit freely, she is very easy to get along with, and I think she enjoys having someone to talk to that has a bit more life experience than a couple of my co-workers who are still at the stage of discussing who got blasted at the bar over the weekend.  We talk about her daughter, and the new baby, and their dogs, and her husband whose work style is very different from her own.  I like her, I enjoy her.

My husband calls, he's on his lunch break and is out running errands. He's stopped by the pharmacy and wants to know if there's anything I need.  He works long hours and gets so tired by end of day, yet he never complains.  He is not a complainer.  I love him for that.  I wish I was more like him, and bitched and whined less. :-)

I am on my lunch break now, I've shut my office door, and munching on a bit of lunch, I settle in to catch up on my blog.  I reflect on how people affect each other.  The first two coworkers arrival at work this morning left me feeling blah and down, just as they were.  The third one, and my supervisor were cheerful and friendly, that made a difference.  My husband called, being helpful... that made a difference too. 

Do you see what I'm getting at here?  How we act, and how we interact with others, has an effect on them, which in turn has a ripple effect on the office, the day, and ultimately the world.  We can share warmth and caring, or we can share unhappiness and discontent.  It's not so much what happens, it's how we deal with it.  Attitude is EVERYTHING, and attitude is contagious.  Take a moment to check your attitude now and then throughout the day.  Ask yourself if your presence is a blessing or a burden to others.  If it falls into the latter category... adjust it! 

Ultimately, you will be about as happy as you make your mind up to be, and you will find that sharing smiles and friendly words has a way of making you feel better too.   Sometimes, if things get tense or heavy, you just need to take a slow, deep breath, and start the day again.  You can always start again at any moment... that's the awesome thing about life!  Just because the day started off on the wrong foot doesn't mean it has to become a downhill slide.  Stop, breathe, smile, reverse the energy direction.  You are going to feel a whole lot better if you do, and so will I if our paths happen to cross today! Thanks!!

Blessed Are Those Who Love Cats!

It's World Cat Day!  I'm not sure who decided that but Wikipedia says it, so it's gotta be true, right? :-)  With five furkids in residence, every day is Cat Day at our house!  Their intelligence, devotion, and antics are the highlights of our days.  I am greeted when I wake up in the morning, greeted when I come home from work, begged by pleading eyes to share the food from my plate, and fought over for my comfy lap space. I've stumbled over them, grumbled as I've cleaned up after them, cried tears into their soft fur as they've tried to comfort me, and laughed endlessly as they bounce off furniture and walls trying one more time to catch that illusive red laser dot!  My furkids ARE family, and tonight we'll be having chicken in their honor!

My furkids are pictured over in the sidebar.  Stormy, at 16 years old,  is the patriarch and rules the house.  Sophie is the sweetest, Chloe is the most agile and clever.  Tiggy is the softest, and her tiny sister Gracie is our brat!  They all get along beautifully, and I cannot imagine my life without them.  I've noted that a lot of bloggers are cat aficionados; cats make great muses, or is that nuisances? :-)

Let's do a kitty roll call.   If you have, or have had, a cat in your life that you treasure, add their name in the comments below and tell us a little bit about them.

The Road I've Traveled

I was thinking today about how many different places I've lived during my lifetime - some for just a month or two, some for many years.  I decided to make a list of where life has led me over the past fifty-eight years. (The numbers in parenthesis indicate the number residences I occupied at one time or another within that city).

Growing Up Years
Mansfield, South Dakota (2)
Ipswitch, South Dakota (3)
Webster, South Dakota (2)

On My Own
Anoka, Minnesota (1)  
Whapeton, North Dakota (1)
Forrest Lake, Minnesota (1)
Mitchell, South Dakota (7) - Married Husband #1, my daughter was born here
Ethan, South Dakota (1)
Martin, South Dakota (1) 
Denver, Colorado (1)
Indianapolis, Indiana (1)
Ay, West Germany (1) - Married Husband #2, my son was born in Germany
Augusta, Georgia (1)
Las Cruces, New Mexico (2)
El Paso, Texas (3)
Hobbs, New Mexico (7) - Lived here for 20 years, Married Husband #3
Odessa, Texas (1) - Married Husband #4 My Beloved Papa Bear 
 Gardendale, Texas (1) - Where we live now, a few miles from town

That's thirty-seven residences in eighteen cities, eight states and two countries that I've called home, and each one has a story of it's own.  Is it any wonder I feel a bit road weary at times?  :-)

The Sun Will Come Up

What's up? The SUN!  It's time for Six Word Saturday and the words of the day are...
The Sun will come up HOT!!!

It's been an unbelievably hot summer... almost everywhere.  Here in West Texas we've had day after day over 100 degrees, and this past week it's reached107 every darn day!  I don't even want to see this month's electric bill for AC. When I walk across the  parking lot at five in the afternoon it's like walking on a bed of hot coals!  It's in the 90's by 8 AM and still there at 9 PM. The hot tub feels like a boiling lobster pot, no heater needed.  The forecast says it's supposed to drop to 99 degrees tomorrow... wow, a "cool spell"!  Hurry up Fall!

Be The Change You Want To See

Mahatma Gandhi once said - "Be the change you want to see in the world."  I've thought about that often.   I spend a lot of time talking and writing about things that concern me in life, things I'm not happy about, things I wish were different, but when you look at life from the perspective of this quote it totally changes the focus... it's not about "them", it's about ME, me doing my part to help create the world I envision.  It isn't going to happen on it's own...

I'd like to see a world where kindness and compassion were the rules of the day, where people went out of their way to help each other without expecting anything in return. 

I'd like to see a world where we all respected each other, not just tolerating others who are different from us, but celebrating what makes them unique and special.

I'd like to see a world where children were treated as sacred responsibilities and were raised with love and care, a world where parenting was a priority, and no child was ever neglected or abused.

I'd like to see a world where children were taught to respect their parents and others in authority, where adults treated other adults with respect, and where elders were considered a valued part of society and treated as such.

I'd like to see a world where extended families once again took on meaning, where the contributions of aunties, uncles, and grandparents, as well as friends and neighbors and others in the community were considered essential to the formation of a healthy, stable child.

I'd like to see a world where adults didn't spend long hours in jobs just to provide basics, and to come home exhausted, but where they also had time and energy left to enjoy life and spending time with families and friends. 

I'd like to see a world where people were far less concerned with acquiring possessions and far more concerned building character and sharing what they have.

I'd like to see a world where people would wake up in the morning truly celebrating the arrival of another day, welcoming it instead of dreading it.

I'd like to see people developing their creativity, finding ways to contribute beauty and joy to our world. I'd like everyone to feel safe in self-expression, to be unafraid of failure when attempting to realize our dreams.

I'd like to see people value life as an opportunity to serve, to care for others, rather than to "have it all" for themselves.

I'd like to see us taking better care of what we have, and using things cautiously and sparingly, not seeing everything, including relationships, as disposable and easily replaceable.

I'd like to see a world where at least once each day we all stopped what we were doing, and took time to listen to the small voice within. 

I'd like to see a world where we all knew the power of prayer and made it a working part of our lives.

I'd like to see a world where no one went hungry, cold, sick, or lonely, with no one who cared.

I'd like to see a world where people believed in themselves and their ability to effect change in their own lives, and thus one-by-one affect change in the world.

I'd like to see a world where, at the end of the the day, we all took time to say THANK YOU for all that we have, and all that we share.

Does it sound impossible... far too idealistic?  It's not!  There is not one thing on this list that couldn't happen if we we were all willing to implement those attitudes and actions in our lives, to set them as our goals,  to use them as our measure of success. 

Start simple... choose any one thing from this list... or better yet from a list of your own... and BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE!  Remind yourself of it every morning, and take inventory of your day every night.  Conscious actions become habits, choices become changes. 

I want to live in a better world, will you join me?

Note: The Sunday Scribblings writing prompt for this week was "wise".  Mahtama Gandhi was incredibly wise, there is much we can all learn from his teachings. 

Cutting Words

You've probably seen the above photo before.  It tugs hard at your heart, and it's so very true. Words hurt. The negative words children hear form their belief system about themselves and affect them for the rest of their lives.  It's hard to shake those careless things we were told in frustration or anger... especially if they came from the people who we thought loved us. 

Did you ever get angry at your kids and say something in the heat of the moment that you've remembered and regretted ever since? I know I did a time or two.  Sadly, once spoken, words cannot be recalled.  I remember many hurtful things that have been said to me throughout my life. Words that cut deep and left scars.  I wish there was a magic "delete" button that would let you selectively erase memories, clean out all the stuff you never want to think about again.  We can come to terms with our past, accept it for what it was or wasn't, and move on, but we don't forget, not really. 

If you grow up in a home where hurtful words are part of everyday language, it's likely that you'll become an adult who is equally adept at slinging cutting words, especially if you feel hurt, or angry. That's how you saw your role models handle their emotions, and that's what you learned about how to deal with situations in life... lash out at somebody, whoever happens to be nearest... often that somebody is someone you love and care about, someone you have a relationship with.

I had an ex who used to say I had an "acid tongue" when I got angry.  I know that it was true back then.  You hurt me, then by golly I was gonna hurt you back.  I'm not physically strong, but I'm a master of vocabulary, especially when it comes to cutting someone down to size.  When I think about it now, it just makes me sad.  What is accomplished by verbal warfare, by wounding with words? Nothing... except more hurt, more misunderstanding, more resentment.  It grows and feeds on itself.

I'm a lot more careful with my words now days.  I try to think before I fire off at someone.  John grew up without a lot of name-calling, even in fun, and he's been a good influence on reducing that behavior in my life. 

Sometimes we say things to other people only half-jesting, and usually they know it.  I had a friend who was quick with sarcastic humor, usually at my expense.  The "I was just kidding" defense got old after awhile.  He is no longer someone I would consider a really close friend, because I carry too  many scars from his brand of humor.  Humor should not be hurtful. It wasn't very funny to me!  If you care about someone, why would you intentionally say something that might risk hurting or offending them?

Hurtful words happen out in public and in the workplace too, edgy responses that are due to people being tired or under stress.  It makes you take a step back when someone snaps at you, doesn't it?  And if you hear them saying hurtful things about someone else, don't you wonder what they say about you when you're not around? Probably more of the same.  I don't trust people like that, the ones that smile to your face but are quick with cutting words for anyone out of earshot.

Think about it next time before you open your mouth to speak.  Are you tired, stressed, angry, frustrated?  If so, don't vent on some poor innocent person. Take a deep breath, check your attitude, and then say what you have to say, in a calm and respectful manner.  Often it's not what you say, it's how you say it. It's the look, the tone of voice, the cutting edge to your words. 

My farm-raised mother used to have a saying that as kids we found quite humorous. If one of us was acting out she'd say "Tie your little bull outside!"  We realized as we grew older that it was more about bull byproduct - b.s. - than the animal itself. :-)  Yes, don't dump your b.s. on someone else, don't let hurtful words slip out of your mouth, intended or otherwise. 

Words are powerful tools... they can tear down or build up, then can enflame a situation or calm it.  Practice that age-old adage... "Think before you speak."   Use your words to encourage others and to brighten up the world!