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Thankful Thoughts - August 31st

 
1.  It's a perfect Sunday Morning here, made even better by the knowledge that we have yet another day off tomorrow!  I am thankful that, although we both worked yesterday, we will still have two days to enjoy together. Lots of relaxation and very little work is on the agenda! :-)
 
2.  Just as it says in the illustration above, I am thankful for the way my life has turned out. I had some big plans when I was young, and others along the way that didn't work out either, but this chapter has turned out better than I ever could have designed or imagined.  Despite the daily struggles that we all have, I am very, very blessed!
 
3.  I am so delighted and thankful that our law firm has hired a wonderful new attorney for our office.  We had an opportunity to meet him and his wife on Friday, and go to lunch with them.  He is very young, just out of law school, and is from here so he won't be shocked at our somewhat barren environment or the skyrocketing cost of housing.  They are both just as friendly and sweet as they could be, and he served as a missionary for two years in Brazil, so he has a genuine compassion for people who are struggling.   I am so looking forward to working with him!  Attorney's are known for being a bit egotistical, and I see non of that.  Thank you Jesus for prayers answered!
 
4.  I am thankful that I survived Thursday, Friday, and yesterday of us removing and returning all the furniture in four of our offices for new carpeting... a pretty dark red that is 1000 times better than the very old, very stained earth tones carpet it replaced.  All that lugging, hauling, stress, and glue fumes has my fibromyalgia acting up big time, but it was worth it and this too shall pass. It is so fun to walk in and see it look so much nicer... and it's padded so much softer under my feet!  Two more rooms to go eventually when budget permits.
 
5. Have I mentioned before that we will be headed for a vacation on Galveston Island? :-)  I am very thankful that I can look forward to this kind of scenery just three weeks from today! Far, far away from work, worries, weariness, and the ever-ringing phones...YAY!
6.  I am thankful for the comic relief of furkids.  This morning Toby stuck his nose in the dry waffle ingredients bowl, as I was preparing waffles for our late breakfast.  It came up dusted white, which was funny.  I told him not once, but three times to get off the counter.  He did, and then would quickly return again.  (He is at toddler stage and doesn't listen well.)  But then Papa Bear stood up and said firmly "GET DOWN" and Toby Tyler scrambled quickly to the floor and under the china cabinet.  As in all houses, dad rules! :-) 
 
7.  I am thankful that I got to text/visit with both of my kids last Sunday simultaneously, and talked with both of them this week.  I'm a mom, I miss their voices!  My kids are the awesomest, and I cherish the relationships we have.
 
8.  I am thankful for the great phone conversation Papa Bear had with his oldest daughter yesterday.  Although she is not his biological daughter, they are very much alike and very close.  It did his weary soul good to visit with her at length, and I know it did hers too. I so admire the relationships he has with his children and grandchildren.  He is truly an awesome, caring, thoughtful father!
 
9.  I am thankful that today is the last day of August, and symbolically the end of summer, as kids and college students return to school, and God willing it will gradually cool off here!  We've still got another month or so of the hot stuff, but at least we are heading in the right direction. Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year, not too hot and not too cold, and maybe we'll be blessed with a little rain. Time passes quickly though, just four more months to the end of the year.
 
10.  I'm thankful that the creation of gratitude lists has made me more mindful of my life and all the good things I have in it. I far less spend less time regretting the past or fretting about the future these days.
I'm linking up with Lizzi
at Considerings for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
Drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week

The Cover-Up

In 2012  I did a series of interviews with my beloved husband entitled "Papa Bear's Tale".  In Part III  he told us about his tattoo... an awesome cover-up piece.  Here is that story in his own words...

"When I was fifteen I tattooed a crude J for John on my arm.  I've always hated it.  A few years back I found a decal in a motorcycle magazine that portrayed a bald eagle overlaying an American flag. I thought it would make a cool cover-up tattoo.  When I met Josie she decided to have it done for me as a Valentine's Day gift.  It turned out great, with vibrant color and amazing detail. I've been given hundreds of compliments on it." 

Six years later, the tattoo remains bright and bold, as you can see in the above photo of him holding one of our great-grandsons.  Papa Bear is a proud American, so it suits him well.  I was delighted that I could give him this lasting keepsake as my first Valentine's Day gift, I love it as much as he does!

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I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures, where the word we are Pondering this week is "cover"... 
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Two Shoes Tuesday #93 - Bench or Leave

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
 
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.
 
The August 26th writing themes to choose from are bench and leave.  

Thankful Thoughts - August 24th

It's a quiet Sunday Morning here.. Papa Bear is still asleep, the furkids are out on the deck in their play dome fantasizing about chasing the family of quail running across the yard, the ceiling fan is blowing a cool breeze across the room on what promises to be another scorcher day here in West Texas, and it's the perfect time to write a Ten Things of Thankful post... 
 
1.  I got to spend a lovely, restful Saturday with Papa Bear. Typically, this only happens once a month, but this month he got two Saturdays off since he didn't get to take one last month.  I love it when he has a little extra time to relax.  Working six days a week is exhausting when you aren't a kid anymore!  Next week he will be working Saturday, but will have the Monday holiday off to spend with me... Yay!
 
2.  Speaking of the Monday holiday, Labor Day, that means a three-day weekend for me, and I am so ready for it.  Work overload has been wearing us all down at the office and we so look forward to the breaks to recharge.  Other than being short-staffed, as yet another hiring prospect fell through, things are going ok there at the moment, and we are grateful for that.
 
3. The Saturday hours I worked a few weeks back resulted in overtime pay which allowed me to order a new pair of sandals... joy of joys, mine were wearing out!  I am a bit unusual in that I don't own or wear multiple pairs of shoes, it's just not my thing.  I wear sandals all year round, adding sox if it's very cold, and closed shoes only if it snows, which is rare here.  My toes love the freedom to wiggle and the fresh air! :-)  So, I wear the same pair over and over until they are ready to fall apart, then I buy a new pair.  I have very wide, thick feet, so finding comfortable, supportive shoes makes them relatively expensive.  This time I am trying a new brand found online at a better price, I'll let you know how that goes.  I even splurged and ordered two pairs, dress sandals for work, and some sling-back sneakers for our vacation coming up in a few weeks!
 
4. Friday our office received a call from a client whose disability case we had just won for him.  He was so happy and grateful, and made a point of telling our case manager who answered the call just how much he appreciated the way I had treated him each time he called or came in.  Wow!  That made my day. I am always so happy when we succeed in helping someone with legitimate need win their claim, it is typically a very long process, and it makes all the difference in a life that has become a struggle.  One thank you is worth all the grumbly, grumpy calls we deal with day to day.
 
5. I am thankful that I was taught spelling and basic arithmetic when I was in school.  Both seem to be missing elements in the educational system today. I am appalled at the amount of misspelled things I see in resumes and reports, things posted to Facebook, etc. ... even with the benefit of Spellcheck!  I am equally saddened when I have a fast food cost of $7.25 and when I hand the server $10.25 she is puzzled about the proper change. Remember too, how multiplication tables were drilled into our heads by rote?  Yup, we still use that stuff as grownups, and it needs to be taught.  I've heard that many schools are also dropping the teaching of cursive handwriting.  I think that's sad, receiving a note or letter in the handwriting of someone we love is a precious thing.  Printing just isn't the same.
 
6. My nephew was struggling with a job situation this week, and I sent him an email of encouragement.  He and I aren't in regular communication, so I was so delighted when he sent me back the nicest, thoughtful long reply. I have great nieces and nephews! :-)  Praying for a better week for him.
 
7.  I am thankful for the little lunch boxes made up by the deli at our local grocery store.  For five dollars you get a large scoop of chicken salad, tuna salad, ham cubes, or seafood salad,  several great crackers to eat it with, grapes, and cheese cubes. I add a pack of Sugar Free pudding or something similar, and have a great lunch that I don't have to pack or wait in line for at a fast-food drive-thru, healthier too! 
 
8.  I am so thankful for new friendships made through blogging and Words With Friends that are brightening up my days.  It's so nice to have someone to connect with and trade a few notes with during stressful work days.  I don't socialize much in "real life", I am happiest when at home, so these connections mean a lot to me!   I wish I had more time to devote to friendships, I cherish the ones I have!
 
9. I am thankful for non-stick aluminum foil!  A great invention, especially for us lazier folks who find it much easier to line a casserole or brownie pan with this than to scrub it out!  See... sometimes it's the little things like this that we overlook which are blessings in our lives and make them easier!
 
10.  I am deeply thankful that I don't have drama in my life anymore.  I see it in some of the lives of  friends on Facebook and people I used to know, and I remember how exhausting it is to be living from one emotional disaster to the next.  I recently posted the photo of me that is on the sidebar here to Facebook.  Not an excellent one, but good enough for now.  I received more than one comment about how peaceful I look, and when I thought about it I realized that it is true, very few things shake up my world anymore.  I may get my feathers ruffled for a day or so now and then, but overall I have learned to take life as it comes, and to focus on the positives.  What a difference that makes!  May you spend the next week building up your wall of positivity too!
I'm linking up with Lizzi
at Considerings for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
Drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week

Friday Four Fill-In Fun - August 22nd

Feeling Beachie
I'm joining Hilary at Feeling Beachie for Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun.  Hilary provides four statements with blanks for us to fill in and share on her blog-hop. Come join the fun!

The Statements:
  1. ___ is my least ____
  2. When I was ___ I thought _____
  3. My worst subject in high school was ___
  4. I write best ____.
My Answers:
  1. Housecleaning is my least favorite thing to do, but I love the feeling of having it all done. It is hard to keep up with here in West Texas where the dirt blows constantly and dust is a non-ending battle, along with floating cat fur! :-)
  2. When I was in my third marriage I thought all men were horrible, because in my experience they were.  Papa Bear was the first to show me that God did indeed make a few who are truly awesome.  :-)
  3. My worst subject in high school was chemistry.  I enjoyed the lab work, but found chemical equations to be no fun. Our teacher wasn't able to present it at a level we could understand.
  4. I write best when it is quiet, and when I start with an idea and just let my thoughts flow. If I work too hard at something, it comes out lifeless.

Temptation

I'm linking up my story with Brenda at BYG Adventures, where the word we are Pondering this week is "glass"... 

A few years ago I was working in the office of a truck dealership.  Four of us women shared one crowded office, and the interplay of personalities was always "interesting".  Ok, more often than not it was a royal pain! 

At one point the dealership hired a new office manager that far outshined anyone who came before or after her.  She was intelligent, caring, fair, capable, and fun to work with.  She brought with her a huge clear bowl of glass marbles that she placed on the end of her desk, explaining that she had collected them over the years and enjoyed looking at them.  So did we, they were beautiful!  All kinds and colors of cat's eyes, large and small.  Some were smooth and pristine, others were nicked and scarred and looked like they'd spent a good deal of  time competing in the ring.  

Our office manager would smile as salesmen, parts men, and service techs alike came into the office, and would soon be checking out the bowl of marbles, drawn to it like moths to a flame.  I think the bowl of marbles evoked fond memories of childhood,  many of us older staff once had our own bag of marbles and competed on the school playground during recess.  The bowl of glass marbles attracted even more attention than the candy dish sitting on the counter.  A handful of larger more unique cat's eyes were scattered atop the rest and drew the most  notice, people often picked them up for a closer look. Everyone truly enjoyed the display, it was something different and fun!

It was a particularly sad morning then, when we arrived at work and the office manager discovered that one of the most beautiful marbles was missing - a very large cat's eye with a beautiful blue-violet twist inside that almost resembled a wisp of flame.  She was heartbroken.  The bowl of marbles had sat on the desk for weeks, enjoyed by all, and no one had felt the need to steal one... until now.  I suppose it was to be expected, the temptation was just too much.  But in wanting to possess that marble for him/herself, that person robbed the rest of us of the pleasure of enjoying the marbles.  Before long she took the bowl of marbles home, fearing that more would disappear.

It wasn't too many more weeks before she herself left, becoming frustrated with the lack of responsive management.  I missed her greatly, she was one of the best supervisors I've ever had, and the one I most respected.  We missed her beautiful bowl of marbles too.  Now when I see marbles I smile, remembering that bowl and the pleasure we derived from it.  What a shame that one person chose to ruin it for the rest. 

Sadly, life is too often like that - people believing that they need to have someone or something all to themselves, rather than choosing to share what they have found as a blessing for us all.
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Now head on over to BYG Adventures and share your thoughts on "glass"!
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My Favorite Furry Faces... Photo Updates!

GRACIE
TIGGY
SOPHIE
TOBY
For reasons unknown, our furkids were in a mood to be a bit photogenic as they lounged on the kitchen island tonight, so I grabbed the opportunity and my iPhone to capture some updates for my sidebar.  Note how big Toby is growing!  He is ten months old and really thinks he runs the place... all boy! :-)   Sophie is the matriarch of the bunch and hanging in there despite having lost so much weight.  Tiggy and Gracie are amazingly littermates... Tiggy is larger than her Dad was, Gracie is small, and we're not sure where she got that colorful coat! :-)

It's A Date

(Author Unknown)

I have a date... a date with destiny.  So do you; in fact we all do. We inhabit our bodies only temporarily and eventually return to the realm of spirit from whence we came.  I believe this. I also believe that what we do with our time here matters.  We have a choice in that... we can choose to be "good" or "bad", to be caring or uncaring, to be self-focused or to live a life focused on our interaction with others.  We can choose to let life happen to us, or we can choose to have a role in determining what happens.  We can have a miserable life experience, or we can do all that is within our power to make it good.  Can we shape our destiny?  Yes, I believe we can!  I also believe that in some way we will be held accountable for the choices we've made. 
 
Several years ago blog "memes" were a common thing.  Everyone would take the same idea or question and post their personal spin on it.  The one I remember most well was a simple question... "When you die, what would you like your tombstone to say?"  In other words, how would you like to be remembered.  There were all kinds of interesting answers to that one, both serious and funny.  The one that struck me was the person who said simply that she wanted her tombstone to say that she was kind. 
 
Kind. Humph!  I realized that no one was likely to suggest that for my tombstone at the time.  While deep inside I was a kind, caring  person and have always been, on the outside I was angry, frustrated, short-tempered, quick to criticize and condemn.  I was bitter about life and where my choices had taken me.  It seemed that all my efforts and many prayers had gone to naught, and I was angry about that too.  I was so angry with God that I decided to entirely deny His existence.  That makes me smile now.  I'm pretty sure it made God smile too. I'm sure He  knew that I'd come around to my senses eventually.  
 
But you know that question about an epitaph weighed on me.  What would people likely say about me when I was gone, and what was it that I wished they would say?  Those two answers were pretty far apart, and that disturbed me.  I really liked that idea of being thought of as kind.  Who doesn't like someone who is kind?  In reality, I'd place the value of a kind person far above someone who is intelligent, or wealthy, or successful.  Kindness is such a great balm for weary souls.  A little act of kindness can make so much difference!
 
So I decided back then that I was going to let more of that shine from me.  I was going to work at discarding those outer shells of hardness and being unapproachable.  I was going to let go of the anger and the disappointment and the bitterness.  I was going to commit myself to being kind, and I think I'm doing better with that these days, though I know I will never be a model of perfection.  I am content in knowing that I do not want any part of what is mean, insensitive, or cruel.  I don't want it in my life, and I do not want to associate with people who do.  I make it a point to reach out to others with kindness and encouragement, and in doing so I make myself happy too. 
 
I am sixty years old now, I would like to think that by the time I am seventy or eighty I'll be ready for that date with destiny, ready to return home to the spirit world, and ready to hear the words people say about me after I'm gone.  It is my hope that they will be kind.
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This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this are drift and date.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!

Two Shoes Tuesday #92 - Drift or Date

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
 
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.
 
The August 19th writing themes to choose from are drift and date.  

Witchy Woman

I love hats, hats of any kind!  When I see hats I just have to try them on.  This wonderful witch's hat was on a Halloween display at the local Cracker Barrel... perfect look!  It suits my long hair nicely, and even matches my shirt!  Very glam, don't you think? :-)

Thankful Thoughts - August 16, 2014

It's been awhile since I've written a Ten Things of Thankful post, the last few weeks have been pretty stressful.  It's not that I haven't been thankful, but rather that it's been a weary kind of gratitude that says "all is well", but longs for a nap.  I can honestly say that these past few days have been a bit better, and I've made it through to another weekend!  So let's get this show on the road and talk about some good stuff...
 
1.  Most importantly, things are evening out a bit at work, and we were able to play catch-up the past three days, making a good dent in the paper pile that was threatening to avalanche.  A nice side-benefit of having to work hard to keep things running, is the three of us coworkers pulling together and working more cohesively than ever before. I love that!  We spend so many hours of our lives at  work, and it seems senseless to spend them in a swirl of pettiness and drama. 
 
2.  Yesterday brought the news that our firm is going to begin deducting $100 monthly from employee paychecks to pay a portion of our health insurance.  What's good about that you ask?  Well, not too much and I admit to doing my share of grumbling.  But the cup-half-full approach reminds me to be thankful that our firm continues to pay the lion's share of our health insurance premium, and this has become more and more rare in the work world.  I am thankful that it isn't going to cost us even more.
 
3.  I wore one of my favorite shirts to work one day this week and a visitor walking down the hallway commented on how pretty it was.  When you are older and don't have a fashion model body people rarely comment on what you wear.  It was a day brightener to have someone take notice. :-)  I try to remember that  and comment when I see pretty things on other people too. Everyone likes to be told they look nice.
 
4.  My older sister began a new job working in a Montessori Pre-School this week.  She has spent her life being an office worker, like me, and was so very tired of it.  She recently took a job in a low-income daycare center that was poorly managed and under-funded, and she often found herself left alone in a room with far too many little ones to care for adequately.  Being over sixty, it was wearing her out.  I am glad she was able to find a better opportunity and I am praying this works out for her. When she turns 65 she should be able to reduce her hours to part-time.
 
5.  The folks at Amazon.com are my heroes, once again!  They have come out with a new program called Kindle Unlimited which is a subscription plan (similar to the Netflix concept) which allows Amazon Prime members to download all the books the want for $9.99 a month, including audio books.  This was the perfect gift for my niece who loves to read but has very limited vision.  I purchased Amazon Prime for her, and am sending her the $10 a month to fund a Kindle Unlimited subscription.  She loves it.  I am sending $10 a month to my daughter for the same thing, and she too was delighted.  It's not that the $10 is a huge financial sum, but when budgets are tight it helps, and they will enjoy getting a monthly card in the mail with a ten dollar bill that they can spend to cover the cost of reading to their heart's content!  I just signed myself up too, and it has already paid for itself for a month with the download of just two books I wanted to read.  What a great, fun blessing! This is not a paid advertisement, I am truly one of Amazon's biggest fans! :-)
 
6.  One day this week while I was sitting at the park enjoying my lunch I noticed a couple things around me that I might usually take for granted or miss altogether.  Then I had the wonderful idea to use this for my theme in next April's A-Z Challenge... a list of daily observances, things which make my life nicer!  It will be fun to watch for things to add for each letter of the alphabet.  I think I am going to enjoy this a lot more than what I did this year, which I felt turned out kind of boring and preachy. I am thankful for writing inspirations!
 
7.  Why is it that when you are trying to keep your hair (or bangs) cut, they seem to grow so quickly, but when you are growing them out it takes so long?  My hair is waist-length, but I recently decided to grow my bangs out and it has taken until now for them to grow enough that I no longer have to clip them to avoid looking ridiculous or have them hanging in my eyes.  I am thankful for that!  Will take a new pic for the sidebar soon. 
 
8.  I am thankful for the love of furkids!  They are always so affectionate in the mornings and sad when I rush around getting ready to leave for work.  Saturday mornings is "our day" as Papa Bear works until 3 PM, and this is my quiet writing/playing time.  All four are gathered around me within arm's reach, taking turns at soft-pawing, nuzzling, and settling on my lap for a snooze.  I think that next to family and close friends, furkids are the greatest blessing of all!
 
9.  I am thankful that plans for our annual wedding anniversary/vacation getaway are finally falling into place, and we are counting down the remaining five weeks until we head out on a road trip to Galveston on the Gulf Coast.  Papa Bear was there years ago, but it is new for me, and I am thrilled to be going somewhere that I can share a moonlit beach with him! 
 
10.  I am thankful, ever so thankful, for a husband that is not a grumbler... because I am, and one in the family is enough! :-)  Papa Bear has had a really hard life, and yet it is so very rare to hear him  complain much about anything, he pretty much takes life as it comes and rolls with the punches. He is such a good example for all of us to follow!
I'm linking up with Lizzi
at Considerings for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
Drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week! 

Friday Four Fill-In Fun - August 15th

Feeling Beachie
I'm joining Hilary at Feeling Beachie for Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun.  Hilary provides four statements with blanks for us to fill in and share on her blog-hop. Come join the fun!

The Statements:
  1. When do you______
  2. Why is it that_____?
  3. During a______ I ________
  4. Singing in the _______ is______
My Answers:
  1. When do you say enough is enough and stop trying?
  2. Why is it that people are so quick to judge others harshly, without knowing all the facts?
  3. During a hard time I try to remember that I have been through hard times before and I have survived them.
  4. Singing in the rain is better than crying in the rain. :-)

The Veggie Stand

I'm linking up my story with Brenda at BYG Adventures, where the word we are Pondering this week is "stand"... 

Every summer the folks on Dalton Road looked forward to the opening of Farmer Jake's produce stand.  He grew a bounty crop of corn, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers and squash, and they always tasted wonderful.  Jake would open the stand early in the morning, and often sell-out before noon.  Farmer Jake had a smile and a friendly word for everyone, it was apparent that he enjoyed the selling as much as the growing.  No one knew that Jake's personality had a darker side.  Each summer he chose one item, one vegetable to inject with a highly toxic tasteless chemical, and each summer one or more of the locals mysteriously died.  Farmer Jake read the obituaries in the local newspaper, once a year it made him smile.
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Now head on over to BYG Adventures and share your thoughts on "stand"!
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Glamorous


"Glamorous," Rosie scoffed.  Oh yes, she was definitely feeling glamorous since the birth of their third child six months ago.  She hadn't lost all the weight she put on during the pregnancy, and now that she was a stay-at-home mom she had traded in her tailored business suits for baggy blue jeans and boxy button-down shirts.  The long hair she once took such pride in was pulled back haphazardly with a clip, and her face hadn't seen a trace of make-up in weeks.

Rosie was exhausted by the demands of keeping up with three little ones, and conversing in child-speak day after day was taking a toll on her once bright mind and witty personality.  She felt grumpy, depressed, and anything but attractive.  "Who is he kidding?" she thought to herself, shaking her head in dismay as she re-read the card that had been delivered with the morning mail.  It was a beautiful Valentine... in July no less, bearing hearts and flowers and a romantic verse.  On the inside she found instructions in her husband's handwriting... "Clear your calendar for Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  A taxi will arrive at 8 AM on Friday to whisk the glamorous Rosie away to a secret destination.  Mom is coming to take care of the kids.  Pack casual, possibility of clothing optional destination." It was signed with the same lopsided smiley face that Jay had been drawing on cards and love notes for the last seven years.

As much amused as intrigued, Rosie tried to question Jay about it when he arrived home from work that night, but he just smiled that mysterious smile of his, eyes laughing, and shook his head in silence.  She couldn't help but be a little curious about what he was planning.

Jay's mom arrived after dinner on Thursday night, much to the delight of the grandchildren who adored her, and a taxi pulled into the driveway at 8 AM sharp the next morning as planned.  With a smile and a greeting, the taxi driver headed off to his pre-arranged destination, which turned out to be an upscale hair and nails spa.  There she learned an appointment had been made for a haircut and color, make-up,  nails, a pedicure, and an awesome massage.  Rosie felt like she'd died and gone to Heaven. 

As Rosie went to leave, the spa owner handed her a small envelope with that all-too-familiar silly smile drawn on the front.  Opening it, she found a substantial gift card to her favorite clothing store with an  attached sticky note bearing her husband's scrawl, "Have fun... max it out!"  As she popped into the taxi waiting out front she thought about how long it had been since she'd gone shopping for herself instead of the children. The new hair and make-up did wonders for her morale, and she couldn't help but smile in the full-length mirrors as she tried on new clothes and chose an assortment of pretty things. What a refreshing change from those somber three-piece suits she used to wear!  The cashier bagged her purchases as the store manager summoned the taxi, and she was once again on her way. 

Rosie could hardly believe her eyes as the taxi pulled up to the curb at the airport terminal, and there stood Jay holding a huge red rose, eyes sparkling like a school boy on his first official date.  A short while later they were on a plane and headed to a private resort on the California Coast. 

Rosie had no idea how Jay had pulled all this off.  He confided that he'd been saving for months, even before baby Joseph was born, wanting to give her a very special gift for being his wife and the mother of his amazing children.  Tears welled up in her eyes as he held her hand and spoke with such tenderness about how beautiful she was to him everyday, and how gorgeous she looked right now after her morning of being pampered.  He told her that he found himself loving her just a little bit more every day, and that he was going to love her every day for the rest of her life.

Right about now Rosie found herself beginning to feel just a wee bit glamorous.  Fussy babies, dirty dishes and scattered toys forgotten for the moment, she nuzzled close to Jay - the love of her life, as the plane began it's descent.  The resort limo would be waiting and a wonderful romantic weekend was about to begin.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ 
This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this are glamorous and grade.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!

Two Shoes Tuesday #91 - Glamorous or Grade

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
 
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.
 
The August 12th writing themes to choose from are glamorous and grade  

Knowing What To Do

(photo source)

Friday night found Papa Bear driving home from a Lodge gathering held in the Sandhills about twenty-five miles south of the city.  Eastbound on the two-lane highway he noted a Dodge pick-up on the shoulder of the westbound lane with it's flashers on.  Looking up, he saw directly in front of him, the body of a large donkey laying in the center of the road and across his lane.  He knew that swerving to avoid it would likely cause his truck to roll, so he had no choice but to grip the steering wheel tightly and roll over it with his left wheels, jarring the truck roughly. 
 
He immediately pulled off the road into the ditch, turned on his flashers, got his flashlight and surveyed the truck for damages. As he hollered to the two men standing across the road standing beside the truck that had apparently struck the donkey, a semi-truck with a trailer full of cattle came upon the scene and ran into/over the donkey, leaning to one-side as it's wheels crossed.  The drive of the semi pulled off the road to check for damage and then took off. 
 
Papa Bear crossed the road to the other pick-up truck, and learned that the driver had actually hit two donkeys that had wondered onto the road.  One had been killed, the second one  survived and rejoined a group of six more that were standing loose between the shoulder of the road and the fence they should have been contained in.  The fence gate was hanging wide open.  Papa Bear asked if they had called the highway patrol.  The man said "We don't have the number."  Papa Bear immediately called the DPS (Texas Dept. of Public Safety) and gave them the location of the  accident.  While waiting for them to arrive, yet another car came upon the scene and ran over the donkey, stopped to check for damages, and then went on it's way. 
 
Realizing the danger of this large animal lying in the middle of the road, Papa Bear turned his truck around and focused his  30-inch LED light bar on it to alert oncoming traffic.  He also used his flashlight to signal oncoming drivers to slowdown so they could avoid the donkey.  A man from a nearby ranch heard the noise and came with his Kawasaki Mule to help.  He herded the remaining donkeys back inside the fence and closed the gate.  Then they used the Mule and a strap to pull the dead donkey off the road.  The Sheriff then arrived to direct traffic, and the DPS office came to  make a report and locate the donkeys' owner.
 
Thankfully, Papa Bear's truck sustained only minor damage where the donkey went underneath.  The other truck had front end damage on both sides where it initially struck the two donkeys standing on the road. 
 
Papa Bear drove a wrecker for over five years when he was younger.  He knows what to do at the scene of an accident.  Thanks to his quick thinking and common sense, more serious injuries were undoubted averted by slowing down approaching traffic with his signaling and lights, and helping to get the donkey off the highway before more vehicles ran into it. 
 
Needless to say, it was scary! One also has to be wary of oncoming drivers swerving to avoid the donkey and striking the trucks or drivers on the shoulders of the road.  He said the donkey was very large, someone could easily have been seriously injured or killed by running into it.  Angels were clearly watching over that section of the road and those travelling upon it Friday night.
 
Surprisingly and mercifully, the donkey was not torn up by the vehicles striking it, it died from internal injuries.  Papa Bear  took pictures for insurance purposes. No... I don't want to see them, it is too sad.  The gate from which the donkeys escaped was left open by someone being careless.  That carelessness could easily have resulted in someone's death.  I hope the second donkey will be okay,  we love donkeys.  I am sad for the rancher's loss too.
 
Papa Bear called me immediately after he struck the donkey on the road and had safely pulled over.  I realized  how badly the night could have ended for him and/or the others involved.  Once again the message rings clear... we don't know from one moment to the next what will happen in the lives of people close to us,  treasure every day that you share, and be sure to tell people  how much you love them!  
 
And for Heaven's sake... get the proper emergency phone numbers in your cell phone!!  If you don't know the number for the police, sheriff's department or highway patrol, CALL 911 and they will notify the proper authorities that help is needed.  Don't just stand there wondering what to do!
 
Postscript - As of yesterday the poor donkey's body still remains on the side of the road in the 100 degree sun.  Papa Bear called the DPS again.  It will likely not be picked up until Monday.  :-(



Plant Seeds of Kindness

 
I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures, where the word we are Pondering this week is "plant"... 

 A week ago it felt like my work environment was about to go up (or down) in flames.  We found ourselves coping with a sudden departure, ugly maneuverings, worried clients, and serious financial concerns.  We've spent the days since working our tails off helping to put  things back in order, answering hundreds of phone calls to reassure our clients, and trying to come to terms with our own shock, sadness, and overwhelming exhaustion. 

I have sensed so strongly the effect of all your encouraging words and prayers on my behalf - they have helped to keep me calm and centered, they have enabled me to do what I do best... keep a leaky boat afloat and heading for calmer waters.  My coworkers and I decided that we are determined to see it through, and day by day we are doing just that. 

I am happy to report that things are slowly beginning to lighten up and look more hopeful. There have been several opportunities to practice my beliefs, and I feel good about what has transpired. We have developed a closer relationship with the owner/head attorney of our firm, and I have made a good impression - not through amassing "brownie points", but through hard work, a positive attitude, and dedication.  The pressures coming at us from the outside have caused us three coworkers to pull more tightly together, working more cooperatively than ever in the past.

Two days ago I went to the Post Office to collect our mail.  As I turned to leave the counter with my bag full of mail, who should I see standing less than three feet away but the wife of the attorney who just resigned.  She is also an attorney and left our firm early last Spring.  I have worked with both of them for over two years, and we worked well together.  Recognizing me, she immediately looked down at her feet, unsure about my mindset and whether we should pass by each other without comment.

For just a moment it was miserably uncomfortable for us both since relationships between her/her husband and our firm are very strained at the moment.  But I decided to listen to my heart instead of my head and the negativity that sometimes grows there.  I stopped directly in front her her, gave her a warm smile, and said "Hi G..."   I'm sure that I took her by surprise, but I know that we are going to run into each other many times since the new law firm they are starting is just a few floors below ours in the same building, and I didn't want each encounter from now on to be awkward and strained.  She looked up, offered a smile, and said "hi", and we let it go at that, lest someone accuse me of consorting with the enemy.

When I got to my car I sent her a text that said "I hope you know how much we all hate this.  You and R have always treated my kindly, and I thank you for that." 

She quickly responded, "We hate it too. We really liked working with you."  A few seconds later she added,  "I think in the end it will work out ok for all of us." 

I texted back "I truly hope it will." And I felt so much better for having chosen to be kind.  It reminded me of a verse I learned long ago...
"Let us be the first to give a friendly sign, to nod first, smile first,
speak first, and...if such a thing is necessary...forgive first."

Today I encountered G waiting for an elevator as I rode up to our floor.  I smiled and again said "Hi G". This time she smiled broadly, and without words we were able to acknowledge that we will remain friends once the dust has settled.  Thank you Lord, I don't like harboring ill feelings!

As is often true of life, if we endure the really hard times, good things will come of it.  A new co-worker has been hired and will start in another week. This is a young man who was previously interviewed and impressed me.  We have desperately needed good additional help since we lost our fourth person at the beginning of the year.  Clearly my email to a couple of the management staff regarding our situation helped get this moving.  A new attorney will also be hired to replace the one who left.  It will very likely be someone just recently graduated from law school.  This is okay, we can "train them" in the way they should go to help us all provide the best and most compassionate services possible for our clients. 

Financial concerns have eased up some, at least for the time being, and we are all hoping that there is enough work to support two law firms in the same line of work; competition can be a good motivator!

The recent events have also given me a clearer picture of why God has me there at the present time.  I have a good rapport with our clients.  Many who called in after they received our letter notifying them of the changes, requested to speak specifically with me.  I have earned their trust, and they are glad to hear from  me that all is well, and their claims are being taken care of as always.  In times of transition, it is always good to see a familiar face when you walk in the door, and there again, kindness has paid off.  Taking a few extra minutes to chat about life, the weather, children, or whatever has showed them that I am approachable and real. 

We are all in it together really, the management, my coworkers, our clients and me, and as weary as I am tonight, I have the feeling that things really are going to be okay.  It's a good feeling, a peaceful feeling.  Thank you Lord for keeping me focused on being kind and staying calm in the midst of the storm.
 Plant seeds of kindness and watch them grow!
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Now head on over to BYG Adventures and share your thoughts on "plant"!
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No Turning Back

I post a lot of "positive thinking" quotes on my Facebook page.  I do it for a couple reasons, the first being that they work like spiritual vitamins strengthening my heart and mind in the effort to be the person I want to be.  The second reason is simply that the ones with good artwork make me smile... like that little guy up there for instance. His tilted head and bright blue eyes drew me into the message he was sharing, and I absolutely love what this quote says. 
 
We are most comfortable in familiar routine of our lives and  tend to panic when the normal rhythms of our lives are disrupted. We become like Chicken Liken who exclaimed "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"  One of the lessons we often fail to grasp when growing up is that life is all about change; we are constantly evolving from the time we are born until the time we depart the physical realm.  If we are incapable of adapting to the changes we encounter in our lives, we will stagnate and a part of us will wither and die. 
 
Why are we so quick to always assume that change means life is taking a turn for the worse?  While it seems to be true that many times difficult events initiate change in our lives, that in no way means that the outcome is going to be negative. There is no need to panic, run, or hide our heads under the covers.  It is entirely possible that good things can come from what we view as "bad", and they might just be the changes your life has been needing.  You might find yourself  in a better place that you will end up liking more than where you were before!
 
I'm definitely being put to the test right now in my work situation.  Many factors have come into play which generate fear, anxiety, and STRESS.  It is physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting, and I have no clear knowledge of what the outcome will be.  I could spend my time worrying about that, or I can focus on the day at hand, on doing my best to keep my stress levels in check and my mind peaceful, on remembering to breathe when things get  tense. 
 
There is no turning back in life and time never stands still, regardless of how much we sometimes wish it would. The reality is that what will be will be; doors close, doors open, and  ready-or-not, change affects us all.  I'm keeping my thoughts positive, believing that God has some good things at work in this, and whether I eventually end up staying with the firm or moving on in a new direction, it will be ok.  I will be ok! 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ 
This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this are tattered and turning.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!

Two Shoes Tuesday #90 - Tattered or Turning

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
 
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through next Monday. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.
 
The August 5th writing themes to choose from are tattered and turning  

Getting Down and Dirty

Sometimes the good guys are not quite as good as you thought they were, and sometimes the bad guys are not so bad.  Often it is very difficult to sort out which is which, and you end up wondering what, if anything, can truly be believed or relied on.  That's the way that things have gone since our peaceful Transition Day One last Wednesday. 

Thursday morning critical issues came to light that totally changed the mood of things. While I obviously cannot provide specific details, let me just say that you have never lived until you witness two lawyers going head to head in a contest of wills and egos that will possibly result in lawsuits, and could end up in court.  So much for a peaceful, orderly transition. I guess that was too much to hope for. Now the shit has hit the fan and all bets are off. 

Friday was a blur of behind-the scenes conversations, stop-gap measures and proactive procedures, and as always non-stop phone calls and clients to contend with.  We went home physically and emotionally drained from the stress and upheaval of the week.  Eleven of us spent six hours on Saturday doing non-stop processing of forms to SSA and letters to clients, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of what will need to be done in the days ahead.  My old arthritic fingers were not happy with that extra push, nor is my Fibro, but we got thru it.  For the present time, the owner of our firm will serve as the lead attorney for scheduled hearings for the clients at our branch.  The intent is to hire a replacement. 

I have two co-workers; we need another, and have needed one for some time.  I don't know if that will happen.  I don't know if both co-workers will stay.  I don't know if I will stay, but at the moment I am committed to helping with the transition, as long as our human limitations are taken into consideration and more is not heaped on us than we can possible do reasonably well.  I really don't want to sacrifice my free health insurance, nor the vacation time I earn, to start all over somewhere else, unless it becomes a necessity for whatever reason.  I am company loyal, and I shall try to be.

One of the big issues that has come up since Thursday is what we knew and didn't know.  My counsel to my coworkers is to be honest, tell the truth and nothing but the truth.  That way if we end up in court we won't have to worry about what to say.  If you don't want me to know something, don't tell me. I keep confidences, and I can be trusted to keep them well.  But I won't lie for anybody, ever.

We head into a new week with much trepidation, many balls to juggle in the air, many possibilities loom on the horizon.  My plan?  Take it one day, one hour, and even one moment at a time.  Remember to breathe.  Remember to encourage each other and work as a team.  Tread softly, work hard, and don't let anxiety overwhelm me.  At the same time, draw a line as to what is acceptable and stand firm.  The rest is in God's hands, and I am fine with that.  What will be will be.  Stay tuned.

Please forgive me if I don't always return to respond to comments or comment on your blogs at the moment.  I'm trying to conserve my energy as best I can, for the time being my priority is to take care of me.  Rest assured that I am reading what you write, and will be out and around before too long!  Thank you for your encouragement, patience, and understanding.  Your support means a lot to me!

Right Frame of Mind

I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures, where the word we are Pondering this week is "frame".  What a timely topic...

As I wrote about in my last post, things took a turn at my work place this week.  It is yet to be determined if that means took a turn in a new direction or took a turn for the worse.  It's going to be a "wait and see how it all plays out" situation. 

I arrived at work on Wednesday morning full of trepidation and feeling a bit nauseous over the dramatic turn of events that had occurred the previous day, with my attorney/supervisor departing the firm abruptly.  The last time I'd seen the owner/head attorney of our firm was over eighteen months ago, although we do talk briefly on the phone quite often.  He has the reputation of being challenging, difficult, and somewhat impulsive.  He is also intelligent, generous and caring, depending  upon the moment.

It was a long day, with much to be discussed and taken care of, and although I came home both physically and emotionally wiped out, I have to say it turned out to be a much better day than anticipated (as so often is true of our fears).  Everyone was on their best behavior and "played together" nicely.  Our boss was obviously concerned about our intent to stay or go, and did his best to encourage and reassure us that we were appreciated and all would be well.  Thus, I came home feeling hopeful, having no awareness of storm clouds looming on the horizon. 

I am still mentally and emotionally processing what has transpired in the two days since then.  We will be working at the office tomorrow from 9-3 to complete some important projects, when I get home I'll add a post entitled "Getting Down and Dirty" that will tell you more. 

I want to end on the note that I began with the message illustrated at the top of this post by noting that, although it has been one of the more difficult weeks I have experienced in many years of working, I remain at this point unruffled and unscathed.  I am focusing on the tasks at hand that can be dealt with, and with helping to keep my coworkers and I functioning as team in the midst of  upheaval.  There is a mountain of anxiety that I could let weigh  me down, and legitimate concerns for the future, but none of that would be productive at the moment, so I will simply say that I believe what will be will be; we shall muddle our way through it and find our way.  I have done so for sixty years, and I am not about to be defeated now.  Survival is all about maintaining the right frame of mind; I choose to be a survivor rather than a victim of the game of life.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Now head on over to BYG Adventures and share your thoughts on "frame"!
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