A Test of Courage

Now comes the test.  A test of how well I can walk my own talk.  Josie the Encourager, can she lift herself out from under the cloud that descended at work today?  Can I find the energy and determination to help sort things out, while not letting the powerful powers that be get to me?  We shall see.

What is all this about?  Well, what I mentioned awhile back has come to pass.  When I started working at the law firm 2-1/2 years ago, we had two attorneys at our branch of the firm, a husband and wife team.  Shortly after the beginning of the year, the wife resigned to accept a position with another firm, for a variety or reasons, that I need not go into. Let's just say there were valid issues and concerns that prompted her to do so.  Today, her husband also resigned, effective immediately, following some failed attempts to negotiate other arrangements that would be mutually beneficial to both the attorney and the firm. 

Our branch of the firm operates at a level requiring a support staff of four.  We have been short one support person since last February.  So we have been only three, covering the work of four, and one of those also taking on some of the legal aide roles to relieve the overload of having just one attorney instead of two.  So where does that leave us now?  With no attorneys and just the three of us to try to keep things afloat while they find and hire another one, and we help get him or her up to speed.

That doesn't sound so incredibly daunting, other than yet more work overload, but tomorrow morning the head attorney and owner of our firm will be arriving to handle things for the time being.  Without telling tales, let's just say working with him gives new meaning to the word "challenging".  I do not look forward to it, we dread it, it doubles our levels of stress in facing what making this transition involves.  It is not as simple as taking down one "shingle" and hanging up another.  There are all sorts of paperwork changes, notifications, etc. that must be sent out, in addition to informing our many clients as they call in or we contact them.  It will make them very  nervous.  It makes us very nervous too. 

There is a very real likelihood that one of my coworkers will tender her resignation and jump ship.  She would not likely have a problem in finding other suitable employment with far less stress than a lighter workload than she has currently been carrying, not to mention all that will be added in the days ahead.  What then?  Where does that leave us?  With two struggling to get everything demanded of us done?  I am sixty, I am old, I am already tired.  Just the thought of what lies in the days ahead leaves me feeling numb and exhausted.  It is not going to be easy, it is  not going to be fun. 

That being said, can I talk myself into getting up tomorrow, facing it head on,  and trying to get thru it, make the best of it for the time being?  I can honestly say that tonight I do not want to, I want to say enough, throw in the towel, and stay home.  If only that were a possible option.  It is not, and job positions for old women are hard to come by.  So I will do my best to rally the troops, keep a lid on the big boss, and move forward toward calmer days. 

"It isn't what happens to us, but how we respond to it that makes the difference."  That's the message I so often preach.  "Don't give up hope... one foot in front of the other... one day at a time," and all of that.  Now we shall see what I'm made of.  Can I win the challenge, or will I walk away in defeat?  Stay tuned as this story unfolds.

Cover Story

Stan had it worked out to perfection.  On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays he would head straight from work to the motel, gym bag in hand.  An hour or so later, having enjoyed the pleasure of keeping company with the other woman in his life, he would open his gym bag, pull on a pair of dirty gym shorts and a t-shirt, rub his arms and calves liberally with Bengay ointment, and head home. Once home, reeking of sweaty gym clothes and Bengay, he would call out a greeting to his wife and head down the hall to shower.  She was glad to forgo a hug until he'd cleaned up for supper. 

Stan's cover story worked well, bolstered by a couple of his friends who were willing to support his tales with exchanged bits of conversation about their shared work-out routines whenever his wife was present.  The affair went on for months.  As far as Stan was concerned, no one was getting hurt by his extra-curricular activities, and his wife was none the wiser... or so he thought. 

Then came the day that Stan left the motel to find his wife standing beside his car, arms crossed, and a look of rage mixed with devastation on her face.  Reaching for his gym bag, she pulled a tiny device from a zipper pocket on the side and handed it to him.  GPS tracker... busted... game over.

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This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this are cover and show.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!

Two Shoes Tuesday #89 - Cover or Show


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 July 29th writing themes to choose from are cover and show

Friday Four Fill-In - July 25th

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. I find ____________very _______________
  2. My favorite _________________ is______________
  3. Why do I always ___________?
  4. My favorite time of the day is __________ because _______
My Answers:
  1. I find people who lack compassion very disturbing.  I do not understand how anyone can be that way.
  2. My favorite sound is the sound of drums at a pow-wow.  It is the heartbeat of mother earth.
  3. Why do I always fear worst-case scenarios, when most often things work out for the good?
  4. My favorite time of the day is morning because my mind is alert and refreshed and open to all the possibilities of a new day.  I do my best writing then too.

Blanket Statements

I had intended to write a post about blanket statements - the kind that stem from gross generalizations and are almost always unfair and untrue.  But while looking for pictures to use, I came across the Blanket Statements organization, and was so delighted with what they are doing that I decided to share it with you. 

Who doesn't love the security of curling up with a soft blanket?  What a wonderful idea to provide that bit of comfort and caring for someone else! The concept is simple, buy a blanket from their website and they will donate an identical one to someone in a shelter.  You can even add your name and a personal note to the gift card if you like.  Don't need an extra blanket? Donate both of them!

I encourage you to check out Blanket Statements and think about blanketing someone with a little love!
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I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "blanket"...  
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Stuck

Letting go with a string of curse words, Cindy slammed the car door and stomped down the muddy driveway in her bare feet, carrying her favorite pair of dress shoes in her hand.  Half way to the house she slipped and landed in the muck.  Now covered in mud and beyond the boiling point of anger, she got to her feet and continued toward the door, tears burning her eyes and streaming down her face.  She reached up to wipe them away without thinking, adding a smear of mud from her dirty hand.  "I'm going to kill him," she muttered to herself. 

Note: This is an intro to a story about being stuck in a relationship that is going no where. 
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This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are stuck and together.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #88 - Stuck or Together

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 Saturday night. 

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 July 22nd writing themes to choose from are stuck and together  

Some Great Advice

A blog friend from the past resurfaced yesterday, and we engaged in a bit of conversation about writing and blogging.  This morning he directed me to this blog post written by Justine Musk on her blog.  It's great advice, well worth the read...

Thankful Thoughts - July 20th

I started working on this post yesterday about three times, and each time got pulled away to do something else.  I finally took that as a sign that it wasn't a blogging day, and that turned out to be a good thing, as I now have a couple really nice things to add to the list.
 
1. Let's start with this.  Last night (early morning) I found myself unable to sleep, and eventually got up after an period of tossing and turning.  I was up from 4:30 until 7:30 AM... and had the rare opportunity to enjoy the silence of dawn and subsequent sunrise before returning to bed. Not only am I thankful for such a beautiful way to start a new week, but I am also mighty thankful that it wasn't a work night, as my tail will surely be dragging by mid-afternoon, but I'll be able to sneak in a nap. 
 
2. High on the list for this week is learning that our new great-grandchild due to enter the world in early December will be a girl!  Her mommy and daddy live in Arkansas.  She will be our third, as we have two awesome little great-grandsons who live in Ohio.  She will be a welcome and much-spoiled addition to the family.  How I wish we lived closer so we could help with that!
 
3. One of the beautiful blessings of this week was being reminded of all the caring online friends I have in my life.  When I put out a prayer request on Facebook for my niece, whose eye issues have become more serious and scary, the many acknowledgements and responses warmed not only my heart, but hers and her mother's as well.  One awesome friend even shared the request with her mother who took it to her prayer group.  That's love, and it flies in the face of anyone who says that online friends aren't "real friends"!
 
4. I am thankful for the courage to initiate some honest communication with a real-life connection regarding something that was promised to me but never happened.  It was one of those little things that just bugs you like a pebble in the shoe, and I had kept quiet for too long.  We exchanged a few messages on it and I think that we can move forward from there, and said promise will be kept.
 
5. In connection with the above #4, I am thankful that I am slowly developing a bit more tact and patience in the way I respond to people and situations.  I am impulsive by nature and don't always exercise sufficient filters when expressing myself.  The reality is that when one tempers what they say with a bit of grace, it works out better all around.
 
6.  I am so thankful for the day that my daughter and son spent together this past Wednesday, him coming to her house to help her with task of trimming branches off the huge oak tree in her front yard.  It turned out to a job taking several hours, her up on a 20-foot ladder wielding a chain saw, and him on a shorter ladder below, catching limbs as she cut them.  He noted that a few landed on his head, and he wasn't totally convinced it was accidental. :-)  They accumulated a huge pile of tree limbs; the tree looks great now, and the front her beautiful home is finally visible.  Not only that, but they had a great time working together, and were laughing about it despite being sore, tired, and dirty at the end of day.  When I leave this world someday, they will only have each other, so it's important to me that they remain close, and it warms my heart when they are together.
 
7.  I am thankful for the wonderful way the Universe sometimes plays things out, and how it makes me smile.  I had told my daughter that her neighbors were most assuredly watching from windows as this tree branch demolition took place.  Sure enough, the next afternoon there was a knock at her door, with a guy from the neighborhood asking if he might cart way some of the cut branches.  In response to her inquiring why he would want them, he said that oak branches make perfect deer blinds, because the leaves don't fall off when they have dried.  He then bundled and removed about a third of the massive pile, leaving her less to haul to the curb for the scheduled pick up in September. I love it when life works out win-win, and good things trickle down.
 
8.  I am so very thankful that my nephew with his new Master's Degree, many job resumes submitted and interviews attended, has secured a wonderful job in the city he wanted to live in, and began work this week.  A friend of his works there too, and there are a lot of young people, so it will be a fun place to be, with great career potential.  I know how glad he is to finally be able to put all that hard-earned education to work.  His Mom and Dad are much relieved to see him land a good spot too!  This is also a good reminder to my sister that all things work out in God's time.
 
9. I am thankful for the laughter of my daughter, it tends to happen not so often in her life.  She sent me a short video last night of her and her boyfriend, who had driven up from Florida just to spend the weekend with her.  That made her smile too!  A movie theater they attended had a promotion with one of those photo-booths out front.  So they decided to take the four photos just for fun, not realizing that it was also recording a short video of the process, with them laughing and clowning and playful.  It was offered for purchase for $2.50 at the end of the photo session, and it was truly delightful. A fun keepsake for both of them, and a reason to smile when they are far apart.  I am thankful that she shared it with me... with the stern warning "Don't you dare post this anywhere!"  How well she knows her mother! :-)
 
10. My final note of thankfulness for this week is a small one, but a fun one. As I was sitting here yesterday, I looked up to see this fellow peeking in the window.  He visits our yard often, and it is so cute to see him running across the ground.   Only in this part of the country do we have roadrunners dropping by to visit.  Needless to say, the furkids were intrigued too :-)  I urge you to look for little things that make you smile this week, they are the frosting on the cake of life!
 

 
This week 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
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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 - July 18th


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. If I eat too many_____, I_______
  2.  Running a____is______
  3. Why is it that_________?
  4. Where do you_____?
My Answers:
  1. If I eat too many pieces of chocolate, I will break out in hives.
  2.  Running away from issues is never a solution to your problems.
  3. Why is it that people's actions can sometimes be so different from their words?
  4. Where do you wish you could live?

The Very Best Toy

Photo Source
The very best toy I was ever given wasn't shiny, expensive, or even new... and I was almost fifty years old when I received it...

In the Spring of 2003 I was invited to spend a week at Red Cloud Indian School, staying in one of the guest rooms of their convent, attending classes with the children for an entire week, and getting to meet some of their parents and siblings.  I returned for another week-long visit the following Spring.  The times I spent in the company of these beautiful, amazing children remain among the happiest memories of my life.

One of the things that amazed me about these children was their desire to give gifts when they themselves had so very little.  They came bearing presents for me each time I visited.  Some children brought fancy beadwork and quillwork done by family members. One mother came with a beautiful star quilt she had made for me - a tradition Lakota gift of honoring.  The teachers and students worked together before my arrival to create a quilt formed of squares bearing the decorated handprints and names of each child.  It is amazing and crafted with so much love!  All these gifts, large and small, I treasured and I still have them. 

Without a doubt though, the most precious gift of all came in a jumble of wrapping paper and tape, obviously wrapped by the hands of the shy, beautiful little girl presenting it.  Carefully opening the crumpled bundle, I discovered a well-worn stuffed rabbit.  My heart nearly broke, realizing that she had brought me the best of what she had, a toy that she loved dearly. 

I carried that tattered bunny home, tied a bright satin ribbon around it's neck, and featured him as the main character in letters and photos I sent her from there on, much to her delight.  That precious bunny sat on the shelf next to my bed until it finally fell apart completely and was given an honorable burial. 

I strongly suspect that toy rabbit is going to be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge, good as new and looking for the now grown-up little girl who loved him so much that she gave him as a gift.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "toy"...  
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However Long The Night

Jasmine sat curled up in the old recliner, wrapped in a quilt and holding her cat Misha close.  It was 3 AM, and she couldn't sleep, just like ever other night since her husband had left her six months ago.  She hated being alone at night, the bed was too empty and every shadow or noise scared her.  She had even taken a second work shift, a night shift at the café where she was a waitress, to avoid being home alone.  But this was her night off, and regardless of how exhausted she was, sleep just wouldn't come.  She knew that if she went back to bed she'd just lay there with her eyes open, tossing and turning. 

Jasmine had tried over-the-counter sleep meds, a cup of warm milk, and even a glass of wine as one of her friends suggested.  None of it worked, and she was afraid to ask her doctor for something stronger, knowing that it might make her too groggy for work.  She envied Misha for the cat's ability to fall asleep any time and anywhere.  Right now Misha was snoozing contentedly, draped over Jasmine's arm. 

Once again all the old tapes began playing in Jasmine's head.  Why did Zac have to leave her?  Why was she such a lousy wife that he'd gone looking for someone else instead? Then the tears began to fall, just as they had every night for months.  Misha blinked and looked up, awakened by the sound of Jasmine sobbing.  She nuzzled against Jasmine, trying to reassure her, but Jasmine just cried all the harder, believing that the only one who really cared about her was her cat.

Just then her phone lit up in the darkness, and a beep indicated that someone had posted to her Facebook.  That came as a surprise; the only sort-of friends Jasmine had there were her co-workers at the café and a couple cousins who lived clear across the country.  She didn't bother to post much there herself, feeling that her life was too depressing to put it on public display. 

Opening Facebook on her phone, Jasmine found a message from someone named Carl.  Carl? Her mind puzzled wondering who that might be.  The only Carl she could recall was a guy she had dated off and on in high school about ten years ago.  She read the message, and much to her amazement, that's exactly who it was... Carl Bremmer!  The note said that he'd married right out of high school just as she had, but had been divorced for a couple years now, and being unable to sleep, started thinking about old times.  The fun they'd had together crossed his mind.  He said he'd noted that her status also said single and he didn't want to intrude on her privacy, but if she'd like to talk some time he'd sure enjoy a call.  He left his phone number. 

Eyes wide open now, hands shaking, Jasmine typed a response, and before long texts were flying back and forth.  Just as the night sky began turning to a soft pink in the distance, Jasmine's phone rang.  "Jasmine, this is Carl, my fingers were getting tired.  It's almost sunrise, and I thought maybe you might like to meet up somewhere for breakfast so we could talk a little more."

Suddenly Jasmine didn't feel tired at all.  Quickly arranging to meet Carl at a nearby diner, she headed to her bedroom to find something to wear.  "Wow!" she thought to herself.  She could hardly believe this was happening, maybe God really had been listening to her prayers.  

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This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are perfect and dawn.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #87 - Perfect or Dawn

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 Saturday night. 

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 July 15th writing themes to choose from are perfect and dawn  

Thankful Thoughts - July 12th

This Saturday finds me feeling a little blah, a little blue.  I know if I get busy working on my list of thankful thoughts for the week I'll feel better in no time, that's the way gratitude works... a tiny spark will ignite a bonfire of warm feelings about life!  So let's get going...

1)  That handsome guy up there is my number one reason for being thankful this week - he's my son, Ian, and he's celebrating his 35th Birthday today!  The years have flown by so fast!  I was twenty-five years old when he was born in Augsburg, Germany.  We used to push his baby stroller on the bank of the Danube River near the town where we lived.  He has always been a child of sweet, loving ways, and that hasn't changed as he has grown up.  He's also intelligent, responsible, successful, and funny!  I can't begin to count the times he's made me laugh! He lives in Clarksville, Tennessee now, owns a beautiful home there.  He's an air-traffic controller for the Dept. of Defense at Ft. Campbell, KY.  When we visited this morning he told me that he had the best seat ever for the 4th of July fireworks show there... he was working up in the tower that night!  He was so pleased with the presents we sent, he is always, always grateful.  And I am a little blue... I wish that he and my daughter lived much closer... or we lived closer to them.  It is hard to have so little time to spend together as the years pass. I know my mother felt the same way when I moved 1000 miles away from home.  Thank God for unlimited texting and phone calls... my mother would have loved that!

2)  I am thankful for a husband that listens when I talk, and cares about my feelings.  We had a good conversation last night about watching movies that are somber and depressing, likewise movies that are filled with violence and negativity.  I think we've become so hardened to such things that we think nothing of viewing it endlessly as "entertainment".  Well, to me it isn't...entertaining.  It is harmful, and weighs heavily on my heart.  I want to watch things that uplift and inspire me, or things that make me laugh.  I want to end a movie feeling good about life.  I am already far too much aware of how much darkness there is.  I won't be forgetting, and I don't need reminders.  Papa Bear has agreed that we will focus on choosing lighter things to watch.

3)  I am thankful for good results on the echocardiogram I had done yesterday as a repeat to one done a few years back to make sure there were no concerning changes, and there weren't.  I absolutely love doing these, because it is amazing to watch your own heart in action, from the inside on the monitor screen!  I was blessed with a wonderful technician that had extra time and took note of my fascination.  She took me "on a tour" of my heart, explaining everything in detail. What fun!  To me, the heart is the most amazing creation of all, since it starts beating so very early after conception, and then, God willing, doesn't stop even for one moment until the end of our lives.  Science has yet to create anything nearly that enduring!

4)  I am thankful for the kitty play dome I purchased, that allows us to sit out on the deck in the evenings with our furkids safely enclosed, but able to enjoy the cooler evening weather, sights, and smells that they so love.  It's about 4 ft x 6 ft, and I've just ordered a 5 ft. tunnel run that attaches to it, for more room to run.  We live in the land of coyotes, foxes and such.  So it isn't safe to let them run freely outside at night. 

5) I am thankful that I am making good progress on my goal to release my expectations of some of the people and relationships in my life.  Expectations tend to be one-sided and often lead to disappointment.  Things work much better if just let life play out as intended and enjoy the good moments that come our way.  Stressing over what wasn't happening was wasting too much of my time and energy that could well be better spent on people who are reaching out to me!

6)  I am thankful for discovering Bloglovin' this week.  It's a blog reader app that does a wonderful job of keeping track of the blogs you want to follow and updating immediately with new posts in user-friendly format.  I had grown so frustrated with the reading list on my Blogger dashboard which often fails to show me new posts, or won't even bring up a reading list at all.  Bloglovin' has a phone app too, and I'm loving the convenience of being able to do a quick check for new good things to read!

7)  I am thankful for the wonderful new memoryfoam chair cushion I bought on Amazon for my office chair at work.  Our chairs there are inexpensive and sitting in the same spot for eight hours a day puts a lot of  pressure and pain on my old achy body.  This nice soft, supportive cushion is such a blessing, and gives me a little more room to stretch my legs down properly and sit up straighter too, instead of slumped into the saggy seat of my chair.  Little things can make such a big difference!

8)  I am thankful that folks have been kind enough not to offer negative comments about me growing my bangs out.  I have a high forehead, so it's probably not the best style for me, but I've grown weary of bangs that are always messy or droopy or needing a trim.  I had it all grown out about ten years ago, and I shall do that again. For now, it's pin the bangs back 'til they grow, and ok - it's not stunning, but I like it, so good  for me!  Papa Bear likes it too, and that's all that matters!  My hair is down to my waist now, the longest it's ever been.  Six years ago it was only shoulder length.  It will never be cut again, except to trim off a few inches now and then to remove dry ends.  It can be a pain to deal with in windy weather, etc., but the reality is that I am meant to be a girl with long, wild hair - it just feels right!

9)  I am thankful for simple summer suppers.  No one feels like cooking after a long day of work, when it's still 95 degrees out and the house is hot enough without warming up the oven.  Papa Bear makes the world's best omelets, or we have tuna sandwiches, or some such simple fare.  Thank God he doesn't require or desire big heavy meals at night, which neither of us needs anyway!

10)  I am thankful for the beautiful canopy of stars and clouds overhead at night when we sit out on the deck or soak in our hot tub.  It is incredibly magical and  peaceful to watch.  I wish we had a "moon roof" in our bedroom that we could open up sleep underneath!  Papa Bear has fond memories of sleeping on bed in a screened in porch with his Grandfather on the farm in Missouri when he was a young boy. I think I would be afraid of creepy crawlies and slithery things coming to visit! :-)

And on that note, I'm off to get showered and dressed and ready for my Saturday date with Papa Bear, who will soon be off work.  I hope you're all having a good weekend, and that you will continue to count your blessings every day for the rest of your life!
This week 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 - July 11th

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. ____ makes me _____
  2.  I love a ______
  3. When I’m stressed, I ______
  4. My favorite smell in the world is ______
My Answers:
  1. Seeing any person or creature being neglected or abused makes me ANGRY!!!
  2.  I love a perfectly quiet house, except for the purring of cats, so I can hear myself think!
  3. When I’m stressed, I make brownies! :-)
  4. My favorite smell in the world is the smell of rain!

Memories of Table Leaves

My mother loved French Provincial furniture; we had a dining room set that looked very much like the one above.  Fancy stuff, too much work required to dust and polish all those curvy legs as far as I was concerned. She grew up on a farm during The Great Depression, and knew the meaning of doing without and being poor.  I think the French Provincial furniture and other nice things Dad was able to provide for her over the years made her feel like she was living the life she might have dreamed of as a child; and maybe served as proof in her mind that she was a good as anyone else.

My mother has long since passed into the spirit world.  The house with the formal dining room belongs to someone new; and the fancy furniture was sold when Dad moved to a small apartment a few years before his passing.  Now the memories of family gathered around that table exist only in our hearts and mind, but if I shut my eyes I can still see it clearly...

Mom, wearing one of the cover-up terry cloth aprons I had made her over her church dress, standing in the kitchen checking on the turkey, beef roast, or ham; stirring gravy that was simmering on the stove, and forcing boiled potatoes through the ricer that turned them into a fluffy mound.  A Jello salad of some kind was chilling in the refrigerator, and dessert was cooling on the counter, or had been made the day before and was waiting to be served. 

Earlier we had helped Mom pull the two sides of the dining table apart, extending the space between them to expose the metal framework that supported the extra table leaves she kept stored in the closet in a quilted bag, waiting to be retrieved for such occasions.  Once the leaves were safely locked in place, she covered the table with a liner and then a tablecloth made of lace.  China and crystal goblets were retrieved from the hutch, and the good silverware was taken from it's chest. Mom was particular about how the table was set, so we learned to do it correctly when we were young; no haphazard placement would suffice, and napkins were to be folded just so.  There was always candles and some sort of centerpiece for each occasion too.

In my mind I can see the table set and waiting, and I have to admit that once the candles were lit, and the light from her beloved chandelier (that I cursed when it came time for cleaning) sparkled from up above, it truly was a beautiful setting.  My mother wanted celebrations of any kind to be special, and with her in charge they always were.

Those extra table leaves did their duty over the years, extending the table to it's full length for birthday dinners, holidays shared with relatives, and events like high school graduation.  As time passed my sisters and I married, and before long there were highchairs and booster seats pulled up to the table too.  Of course Dad always presided at the head of the table, and Mom sat opposite him at the far end near the dining room door, so that she could easily access the kitchen to refill serving bowls, meat platters, and drinks, and serve wonderful desserts when we all finished with the main course. Dinner wasn't over until everyone was stuffed!  Conversation, laughter, the clatter of china and silver, and the noise of children, rose up together... I realize now how much mom treasured those times when we all sat around her table.

I cannot tell you how sad it was to gather at that table after my mom died.  It never felt right with her empty chair, everyone seemed a little more subdued.  I have no doubt though, that she was still present and watching over us as the candles flickered, the chandelier sparkled, and the voices of her children rose up together once again.

I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "leave"...  
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!

Joining Bloglovin'

                                                        

I've been so frustrated with trying to keep up with blogs via Blogger's reading list,it often fails to update some of the blogs I follow. From what I've read Bloglovin' is supposed to be much better, so I'm giving it a try! :-)
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

On The Inside

A recent evening found us eating supper at the Sonic drive-in.  One of their current promotional signs read "It's what's on the inside that counts!"  I smiled and pointed it out to Papa Bear. You see, that expression holds special meaning for us. It's one of the things that he had written in his profile at the online personals site where we met, and it was the thing that made his ad stand out from all the others.  Most guys were looking for someone trim, athletic, energetic, and at least ten years younger than themselves.  That always made me laugh - these old geezers looking to hook up with hot young babes and thinking this was going to lead to "happy ever after." Needless to say, I didn't meet those qualifications.

Papa Bear was wiser.  Married for a total of twenty-six years and twice widowed, he knew that finding a good match with a loving heart was far more desirable in the long run than marrying a magazine centerfold.  Thank God he knew that and was willing to take a chance on getting to know ME, the person on the inside!  We exchanged hours and hours of phone conversations in the weeks before we actually met, though we had also exchanged photos and both decided that the outside image was pretty good too! :-)  By the time we actually planned our first meeting we knew far more about each other than many couples who have dated for months. In those conversations we had talked about the real stuff of life at length, not how great the movie was or if the steak was too well done. Obviously, passion also grew from those late night phone calls, but it was different and deeper than the instant hook-up mentality of many of today's encounters. It was worth waiting for!

Getting to know the real person on the inside is also one of the things I love about blogging.  Bloggers often reveal far more about themselves in their posts, and about the way they think and feel, than they do with acquaintances in real life.  I think most of us are more open, honest, and direct when we write.  There is a measure an anonymity that makes it safer to be ourselves... we don't have to see our fellow bloggers in the break room, or at school or church tomorrow.  There is also a tremendous amount of encouragement and support to be found in the blogsphere. So many times I've had folks reach out to me when I was hurt or struggling, and I've seen the same done for many others.  Here we aren't so afraid to let our emotions show, and the response can be amazing! 

As bloggers, we also discover that there actually are people who think and feel like we do, when we once believed that we were aliens, dropped on the planet by mistake, and misunderstood by everyone. Some wonderful friendships have developed through blogging, and some folks have even taken it to another level by visiting on the phone, and actually meeting up in person.  Should you ever have the opportunity to do that, I urge you.. DO!  I've had the blessing of meeting a couple of my blog friends in person now, and I wasn't a bit surprised to discover that they were just as awesome in real life as they appeared to be in the posts they wrote! They may sound or look a bit different than we have imagined, but we already know them fairly well because we've had the opportunity to see what's on the inside, and a truly beautiful person shines from the inside out. I so look forward to meeting more of you as the months and years go on!
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This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are inside and follow.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #86 - Inside or Extra

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 Saturday night. 

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 July 8th writing themes to choose from are inside and extra  

Thankful Thoughts - July 5, 2014

It's Saturday night here, in fact it will soon be Sunday morning. Papa Bear is out mowing the yard. Yes... in the dark! Our riding mower has a great headlight, and it's so much cooler than doing it during the day.  Perfect quiet time to put together a list of blessings for the week...
 
1.  I am so thankful that our paychecks were only one day late this week, that was more than a little scary! 
 
2.  I am thankful for the wonderful three-day holiday weekend that both Papa Bear and I have off and can enjoy together.  Today felt like it should be Sunday all day, now we have another bonus day! Since he normally works six days a week, this has felt like a mini-vacation for him and the chance to rest and relax has been so good.
 
3.  I am thankful for the freedoms in this country guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.  Celebrating Independence Day was such a great reminder of how very blessed I am/all of us Americans are, to be born in this country.  Had we been born somewhere else our lives could have been very different, and much more difficult.. and our blogs could have landed us in prison... or worse!
 
4.  I am thankful for the nearby neighbors out here in the country who do lovely fireworks displays that we were able to enjoy while relaxing in the hot tub last night.  It doesn't get any better than that!
 
5.  I am thankful for the wonderful trips I've been able to take with Papa Bear in the past six years, we have made so many great memories together, and it's important.  Life is short... make time for fun!  In past marriages trips and vacations were few and far between. 
 
6.  I am thankful for funny typos and text bloopers that are a never ending source of amusement.  I never cease to be amazed at how auto-correct and voice text can misinterpret or mangle a message and turn it into something WAY different, hysterically different... isn't that right, Lizzi? :-))  There is so much serious stuff to deal with in life, and we need these little bits of laughter to sweeten things!
 
7.  I am thankful for movies like The Book Thief that Papa Bear and I watched last night. Painful as they are, we need these reminders of how crazy life can become and what horrible things can happen if we ledt madmen lead us.  It is important that we never forget the lessons of history. 
 
8.  I am thankful for barbequed chicken - one of my favorites.  Papa Bear did the grilling for our supper... and it was delicious!  The furkids gave the tiny leftover pieces a vote of approval too!
 
9.  I am thankful for three wonderful days where we could both sleep until we felt rested, no being ordered out of bed by annoying alarm clocks!  In my fantasy world life doesn't start before 9 AM! I most often wake up before that, but this getting up at 6 AM on workdays thing is hard, especially since we enjoy our evenings together, short as they are, and don't like to go to bed too early.
 
10.  I am thankful that, at least for tonight, I feel totally at peace with my life and with whatever it brings next.  There are always rumblings and rumors on the horizon, fears that come with growing old, etc, etc, but I know that God is with me, and come what may, I will be ok.  When at one time you lived a life in fear and darkness, peace is a beautiful wonderful, amazing thing!  Choose peace for your week ahead... do what you can, and leave the rest in God's capable hands.  Together we'll be ok!
This week I'm linking up with Sandy
at Mother of Imperfection for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
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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 - July 4th

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 favorite thing about ____
  2.  ____ tastes like ____
  3. When in doubt, ____________
  4. Is ________ the secret of life?
My Answers:
  1. Instant access to all the people I care about is my favorite thing about the Internet.
  2. I am told that rattlesnake tastes like chicken, but I haven't tried it yet. Papa Bear says it tastes more like frog legs.
  3. When in doubt, listen to the little voice inside you.  It will never lead you wrong.
  4. Is learning to see everyone through the eyes of love the secret of life?  I think it is!

Rough Draft

I just couldn't resist using that kitty face as the photo for my Pondering post today.  Except for the absence of a keyboard, that probably looks a lot like me when I am  blogging.  I've been known to make some funny faces when I am in thinking/writing mode... Papa Bear can attest to that.  :-)

Do you write rough drafts of your blog posts and then refine them before publishing?  I wish I could say I do, and I probably should be doing it that way.  (I can sense some of you nodding your heads in agreement :-)  It's fairly obvious that I write pretty much off the cuff, and more often than not I spot typos and grammatical errors AFTER I've hit publish, even though I try to proof it first.  My eyes tend to see what my brain THINKS it wrote, and sometimes both are sadly mistaken. :-)  The reality is that with working full-time I don't have a great deal of time and energy left over for any writing, much less polished writing, so blogging fills my need to string words together, without  feeling compelled to achieve perfection. 

Most often I can come up with an idea for my post fairly easily, whether it's based on a prompt or inspired by some event of the day.  Then I usually hunt down an illustration on Google Images to inspire me (I know, shoot me... I don't have time to take my own, wish I did).  I just think reading is more fun if there is something to look at.  That's not necessarily true of quality reading, but readers of my "drafty" posts need all the help they can get. :-) 

Once I've got the post set up, title chosen, and photo pasted in, I'm ready to write... then I put my fingers on the keys and let them roam at will.  Rarely do I have a "beginning-middle-end" in mind, with me it's more of a "let's get started and see where this goes" process.  Admittedly, sometimes my train of thought derails before the station, but that has resulted in some interesting stories too. I write very much like I think and speak... scattered thoughts and broken phrases coming from all directions.  A little of this and a little of that, and fingers-crossed that the end result will be readable.

My mind can take me anywhere from simple child-like tales to a walk on the dark side of life.  Sometimes I spew deep thoughts as if they were words of wisdom, other times I just play with a post and let it fall where it may.  Rarely do I go back and re-organize structure, paragraphs and thoughts, though I realize if I was going to attempt writing with the intent of publishing refining my rough draft would be essential. 

The fact is that when it comes to things like writing and conversation I prefer spontaneity... think it, write it, share it - and hope for the best!  Many of us have noted that the posts we feel are our weakest are often the ones readers like most of all, and the ones we labor over intent on perfecting will get little or no notice.  Maybe it is true that we are our harshest critics.

I'm done drafting this post now... it's taken me less than thirty minutes, start to finish.  I'll run spell-check (and argue with it over words like thru instead of through, which looks like throw to me).  Then I'll do a quick preview to make sure the paragraphs aren't running together, add the appropriate links, and call it done.  In this case I'm actually writing ahead of schedule so it will be saved for the scheduled Thursday morning Pondering with Brenda.  If I'm not participating in a blog-hop, or am already late for one... I just hit the ol' publish button... and THEN take a good look at it and see how it came together. 

Silly me... not the tidiest way to do things, but definitely me being me.  What you see is what you get, please pardon my errors and mangled sentences that make you scratch your head.  I assure you that sometimes I don't even know what I meant to say! The fact is, that for the most part I just write for fun, for the therapy it provides, and for the joy of sharing my thoughts with you, and with that being the intent,  publishing in rough draft form seems to work out pretty well! :-)

I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "draft"...  
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!

Don't Follow In My Footsteps


Don't follow in my footsteps, it's been a long and crooked path.  I wouldn't recommend my journey to anyone.  I did it all the hard way, and have paid many times for choices I made long ago.  Still, I don't regret them, they have made me who I am. My journey has, in the end, led me to the place I was meant to be,  but I advise you to do it differently...

Focus on the dreams written in your heart, let no one and nothing deter them. Make good choices, think it through rather than relying solely on impulse or emotion, although they have their rightful place is the equation too.  Work hard, don't give up easily, don't be afraid to try something new. Just because no one else has done it that way or taken that path doesn't mean that it isn't right for you.

What are your values?  What do you want to gain, and what do you want to give back?   Ask yourself  not only what you want to accomplish, but also what kind of a person you want to be, and what you want to be remembered by when you leave this world.

Take your time, don't rush too fast toward to finish line, only to find that you missed amazing pit stops and encounters along the way.  Learn from your mistakes, then let them go, don't carry defeat as extra baggage.  Lighten your load, live in the moment; make time to laugh and love, and learn all that you can.

Don't follow in my footsteps, or the footsteps of anyone who went before you;  listen to the wisdom of experience, then undertake a journey that is all your own.  You are here to fulfill your own unique purpose, and to use gifts given only to you.  Listen to the inner voice of your spirit and follow where it leads.  Let your life be a reflection of God's love.
 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ 
This was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are lead and follow.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #85 - Lead or Follow

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 Saturday night. 

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 July 1st writing themes to choose from are lead and follow