The Return

~Image Credit~
"Well hello Gypsy girl," the deep voice rumbled. 

Jess had gone by many names in her life, Gypsy being one of them, but that was a long time ago and no one in her present circle of friends was familiar with the moniker.  She didn't need to hear her name though, his voice was unmistakable, jarring memories from long ago.  Looking up from her table at the local watering hole, she was floored to see him standing there.  How was it possible that he had found her after all these years and a move that had taken her four states away from the little town they once both called home?

"I told you that I'd come back for you one day," he said, eyes twinkling with merriment just as they always had.
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I'm joining Ivy at "Uncharted" for Six Sentence Stories 
where the cue this week is "FLOOR"
Come and read what others have written and share a story of your own!

The Choices We Make


When giving advice to young people, who for the most part don't listen to what older people have to say anyway, the one thing I try to emphasize is to make good choices, to consider options carefully, especially when it concerns an important decision or direction in life.

 I can look back at the last fifty or so years of my life and see how the choices I made impacted my future... what doors were opened to me and which ones I closed or turned away from, or missed altogether because I wasn't paying attention.  I've made a lot of "interesting" choices along the way - we could call them mistakes, or we could call them lessons, or we could just say I took the roads less traveled. 

With other choices my life could have been so much easier and more fulfilling, but then again, if I had made other choices and gone down other roads I wouldn't be the person I am now, and I am pretty much ok with who I am,  I really don't have big regrets about what I've done in life, but I am disappointed at some of the choices I made, especially where they impacted other people, and I wish that I would have thought it through more carefully.

 I do sometimes wonder  about the other choices - the opportunities that I overlooked, ignored, and sometimes even ran from. I can't help but wonder what those things would have been like and where they might have taken me.  There were some pretty interesting opportunities along the way, and all these years later I can't help but wonder what if...

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I'm linking up with In Other Words over at Patricia's Place
where the writing prompt was the following quotation:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
 by the things you didn't do than by the things you did do."
-Mark Twain



Heart and Mind Monday - 3/28/16

 
It's the last Monday of the month, and that means it's time for the Heart and Mind Monday link-up at Ivy's motivational blog "Carrot".  What's this link-up all about, you ask?  Well, here's what she says...
  • IT’S AN EXPRESSION OF ANY FORM OF CREATIVITY THAT YOU FIND HELPFUL TO YOU…
  • WHETHER IT’S WRITING,
  • YOUR KID’S ARTWORK,
  • MAYBE YOU PAINT, SEW,  OR SING,
  • PERHAPS YOU HAVE A QUIRKY LITTLE WAY OF WHISTLING WHENEVER YOU FEEL AFRAID
  • MAYBE YOU PRACTICE IMPERSONATIONS
  • ANYTHING!

  • Creativity for me means relaxation, doing something for the pure pleasure of doing it as opposed to the endless list of obligations and "must-do's" each week.  I have to admit that I don't spend as much time as I'd like doing creative things, and then I feel frustrated when the week ends and all I did was work and rest, and nothing that felt fun at all.  So recently I dug out some supplies and did something I used to do in the past, the perfect Easter project... I made come little ribbon crosses to enclose in cards and share with my coworkers at the office.  I have a couple on my desk at work, and if one of our clients or visitors comments on them, I offer them one.  I  try to keep things casual and personal there, to let our clients know that we see them as people, not as just cases. You'd be surprised how a little gift or a piece of candy from the dish can bring a smile to someone who is struggling.

    So anyway, here's a photo of my pocket-size ribbon crosses. I leave the ribbons long so they can be hung up or cut shorter to carry or use for a book marker.  


    Papa Bear was a great assistant, volunteering to cut out the plastic canvas forms they are made on.  The furkids did their best to "assist" too, since all those pretty wiggling ribbons just had to be toys in their way of thinking.  I soon had to cut some separate ribbons to use for play "snakes", so that they wouldn't grab the ribbons I was working with and dampen them with kitty slobber... lovely! ;-)

    It's a very easy craft project that only takes a few minutes to complete once I've cut out the plastic canvas form.  That's important since taking on a large project that I don't get finished just leaves me feeling defeated.  I've also used black plastic canvas before which looks nice  too, especially with darker shades of ribbon.  My favorite of course, is the purple cross which was made with fancy ribbon that had sparkly edges.  As far as I'm concerned, life can never have too much sparkly stuff! :-)

    What form of creativity have you undertaken recently that nurtured your soul?  Come and share it with us at Heart and Mind Monday... no special talents required!  The link-up remains open for a week, so you still have plenty of time!  Not a blogger? That's okay too... Ivy's created a special page to add your creative efforts for all of us to enjoy, all you have to do is email a photo and/or information photo to her at zoebyrd2@gmail.com.

    So They Thought

    ~ Image Credit ~
    He thought he had all his ducks in a row.  He'd been secretly planning their tenth anniversary for weeks -  a bouquet of her favorite flowers, dinner at the elegant Sky Lounge high above the city, reservations at the Hilton, and an eternity ring with ten sparkling diamonds tucked in his pocket.  
    He came home early and found them there together.

    She thought she had all her ducks in a row.  She had been so careful to keep the relationship a secret these past months -  his number under a false identity on her cell phone, a secret email account, gifting him with the same cologne her husband wore, shared lunches at the busy farmer's market in a small town miles away, and romantic encounters carefully timed to fall within her husband's 8 AM - 6 PM daily work commute.  Then he came home early and found them there together.
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    I'm joining Ivy at "Uncharted" for Six Sentence Stories 
    where the cue this week is "DUCK"
    Come and read what others have written and share a story of your own! 

    What's In A Name?


    Ok, I'm stumped and I need your input.  I recently changed the name of my blog from Two Shoes in Texas to Josie's Jumbled Thoughts.  I was tired of the former, and I'm not really satisfied with the new one - it's kind of a mouthful.   Should I just call my blog Josie Two Shoes and be done with it?  Do you have a better idea?  I'm open to suggestions!  I want to decide on something I can live with before the A-Z begins in just 10 more days!

    A Childlike Heart


    While married to my previous husband, a good friend stopped by to visit one day and asked me a question that hit home.  He said, "What have you done that was fun lately?" Our marriage had been at the disaster stage for some time, and I realized in that moment that I couldn't think of one thing I'd done recently, or even in the past six months, that felt like fun.  It troubled me greatly, because life is clearly too short to never experience simple pleasures.  My ex's idea of fun at that point was hanging out with his bandmates getting wasted, and the few attempts I'd made to plan something fun with him outside of that framework had failed miserably.  The great majority of the time I felt trapped and very sad. 

    When I finally broke free of that relationship and eventually met up with the Papa Bear, I discovered something wonderful... life over fifty can be filled with laughter and playfulness, and fun adventures.  Papa Bear has an amazing childlike heart.  He makes silly faces and uses silly voices, he does sweet romantic things like picking wild flowers, he engages in playful behavior like having a cake fight in the middle of a crowded restaurant, he is eager to please, he is sensitive and caring, he enjoys sharing simple things like the ducks in the park, our cats' crazy antics, sugar and cinnamon toast, and sitting underneath the stars. He will come in the house smiling like a little boy, with his hands behind his back hiding a treat for me. The list goes on and on, and never fails to make me smile.  Even though life is hard and we often deal with difficult issues, he knows how to set it aside and make time to be happy. He knows how to make me laugh.  I have laughed far more in the past eight years than I did in the entire 54 before I met him!

    There is a difference between being childish with irresponsible and often selfish behavior, and being childlike which is a matter of the heart. I tend to take life very seriously, but through him I've learned that it's still possible to retain the childlike joy and love for life that many grown-ups seem to lose in the process of becoming adults.  I may not always act like an "adult", and at times that may surprise you, but I think that life is much more fun with a few surprises. :-)
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    I'm linking up with In Other Words over at Patricia's Place
    where the writing prompt was the following quotation:
    "Another belief of mine:
    that everyone else my age is an adult,
    whereas I am in disguise."
    -Margaret Atwood

    

    5 Words in 5 Days - Day 5

    Image Source
    
    ~ Encouraging others uplifts me too ~

    I've been  linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures
     to post 5 words in 5 days this week, join us!

    5 Words in 5 Days - Day 4

    ~ at work~
    ~ Find little reasons to smile ~

    I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures to post 5 words in 5 days, join us!

    Alisha's Contract

    ~Photo Credit~
     
    The contract had been signed and now there was no turning back. Alisha had been so desperate to get away, as far away as possible, that she was willing to agree to almost anything to make it happen.

    At first it had seemed like an ideal offer, but now that she was on the plane and headed to Ethiopia in the horn of Africa, Alisha wasn't so sure.  Her friend Lemma had begged her to accept the teaching position, believing that education of Oromo children was the only hope for their future in a country where the ruling minority stopped at nothing in their efforts to suppress them.

    The plane landed safely and taxied to the gate as Alisha gathered her resolve along with her belongings and headed inside the terminal to find Lemma waving excitedly in her direction. 
    Soon they were in his car and headed for the remote village where the members of his extended family that had thus far managed to escape execution by the government had roasted a goat and prepared a feast to welcome the new teacher who would soon take part in the revolution that was to change their lives forever.
    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    I'm linking up with the ever-awesome Ivy Walker at "Uncharted"
    for Six Sentence Stories where the cue this week is "CONTRACT"
    Come and read what others have written and share a story of your own! 

    5 Words in 5 Days - Day 3

    ~ Begin again... always begin again ~ 

    I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures to post 5 words in 5 days, join us!

    Soften Your Heart

    People who have allowed themselves to become embittered by the problems they have encountered in life make me sad.  They build walls around their hearts and turn their resentment outward. They lash out at everyone who crosses their path.  No offering of kindness or compassion can reach them, and their perception of life becomes skewed. 

    Certainly there are times when life knocks us down and leaves us hurt and bewildered, I've found myself in that position more times than I can count.  But I also have to be honest and say that at least 50% (maybe more like 90%) of the time I am responsible because of the poor choices I made.  People with hardened hearts tend to blame everyone and everything for their troubles but themselves. They never accept accountability for their actions and the resulting reactions.

    I've found that no matter how angry, hurt, or upset I am at a given moment, if I wait a few days or weeks, or sometimes even months, that tiny spark of hope within me starts a flame burning and before long I'm ready to reach out and give life another go again. 

    I don't want to be the bitter old woman in the nursing home who is a chronic complainer and has nothing nice to say to anyone, I want to be the one with the smile, the compliment, and the encouraging word.  I want to spend the years remaining in my life being kind and caring and trying to remind people that despite all the bad things that happen, it is still a beautiful world, and life is a blessed experience.
                                                                        ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    I'm linking up with In Other Words over at Patricia's Place
    where the writing prompt was the following quotation:
    "Have a heart that never hardens,
    a temper that never tries,
                   and a touch that never hurts ."             
    -  Charles Dickens

    Congratulations Papa Bear!


    Congratulations to my beloved Papa Bear on the 35th Anniversary of his employment at West Texas Off Road Center!  Six days a week for 35 years - that's amazing!!  I am so proud of him for his dedication and hard work all these years! <3  This newspaper photo was taken just four days after he started work in March 1981 (he's the handsome guy on the left).

    5 Words In 5 Days - Day 2

    ~ Attitude makes all the difference ~

    I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures to post 5 words in 5 days, join us!

    5 Words In 5 Days - Day 1

    ~Image Source~

    ~ You deserve to be happy ~

    I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures to post 5 words in 5 days, join us!

    All The Answers

    
    For many years I've been keeping a sort of mental list of questions I'd like to ask God someday, should the opportunity hopefully arise. You know, the really tough ones like why do children have to suffer abuse, and why do the nicest people get struck down with bad diseases and some mean people get to live so much longer?  Why do some people go hungry and without a place to call home, while others have so much more than they need and yet don't share?  Why do we fear or mock those who are different from us? Questions like that, the ones I just can't make any sense of with my limited understanding of the grand scheme of life and what lies beyond. 

    Then there are other questions that I'm curious about, like why did You make the sky blue and the grass green and not the other way around, and why is every single snowflake and person different from every other one?  Why did I get born with fat genes and my sister didn't?  Why do some people who try so hard have to endure so many struggles?  Why can cats and dogs learn to get along and people can't? Why did your Son have to suffer to redeem us?

    I want to believe that when I get to Heaven I will not only have all the knowledge that is available here on earth, but also be given an understanding of all those things that puzzle me now.  Or, will it be as a friend of mine suggested, and maybe when I get to Heaven, those questions really won't matter to me anymore? 

    I'm linking up with In Other Words over at Patricia's Place
    where the writing prompt was the following quotation:
    "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." 
     -  Jorge Luis Borges

    My New Time Sink

    
    The logo you see above belongs  to my favorite new time sink - the Colorfy app for phones, tablets, and PC's.  I've been enjoying adult coloring books for some time now, and I have an assortment of them, along with soft-lead colored pencils, markers, and even crayons.  Then I discovered Colorfy.  I first saw it as an advertisement on Facebook and it sounded like a fun way to pass time on my cellphone, like I really needed more of that, right? :-)

    I have to tell you, it's amazingly fun!  It comes with a large assortment of  designs to color, and a large array of colors to choose from, and you literally color the pages by tapping on any outlined section to apply the color of choice.  You can stretch the designs out to get to the tiny spaces (which are really tiny on a cell phone).  There is a free version of the app which you can do quite a bit with; and if, like me, you are so taken with it that you decide you need access to ALL the colors and even more designs, there is an annual subscription you can purchase. 

    Here's an example of what you can do, although I'm clearly not pretending to possess "artistic talents" when it comes to color choices.  I just do it for fun and because bright colors make me happy!

     I originally did this mandala design with a black background.

     Then I tried a purple background
     
    Here's a white background with white lines instead of black lines.
     
    There are also several cool background filters. This one looks like it was knitted.
     
    By removing all the lines and adding a brick filter this one ends up looking like graffiti on a wall!

    Even more exciting, Colorfy allows you to upload pictures from any coloring book you have and color them with the app, such as the one I've started above. You can even draw your own line designs and upload them to color!
     
    The coolest part about the app is that you can change your mind (perfect for me) and change the colors/line style/background filter over and over again to try out different effects.  You can't do that with a regular coloring book!
     
    When you've finished your design you can share it on Facebook, Instagram or Pintrest, messenger or text. You can save it and print it from there.
     
    For me, what makes this app a winner is that I can color anytime, anywhere and enjoy the creative process and therapeutic effect of coloring instead of getting caught up in Facebook.
     
    While this no doubt comes across as an advertisement for Colorfy, I am not being paid to write this.  I am just finding the app so much fun that I wanted to share it with you.  Maybe some of you will decide to give it a try, and will discover that you enjoy it as much as I do.  I love coloring mandalas most of all, but Colorfy has several other themes to choose from as well. This would be a great way to occupy kids on car trips or while waiting somewhere too.
     
    Now I'm returning to coloring butterflies.  If you try out the app let me know what you think of it, and share your pictures with me too! :-)
     
    I'm sharing this post at "Heart and Mind Mondays"
    A wonderful new monthly link-up on Ivy's "Carrot" blog...
    even if I'm so late that it's already Saturday :-)
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    There's still time for you to add something creative too!
    

    To Be Free


    Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said it better than I ever could with these words... "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." 
     
     To often in today's world we see the arrogance of people affirming THEIR rights and defending THEIR freedoms while having no issue of conscience in ignoring or denying the rights and freedoms of others.  I think it is the saddest thing of all when people wave the banner of freedom but mean only their freedom, and most certainly not the rights and freedom of "those people" who are different from themselves. 
     
    I believe that my rights, and the freedoms that have been given to me, end when they interfere with the freedoms and rights of another.  A very simplified example would be the debates in not too distant past over the freedom of smokers to smoke where they please versus the freedom of others to breathe clean air.  Yes, smokers have the right to smoke it they so choose, but they do not have the right to pollute the air and endanger the health of others around them. 
     
    If we say that we stand for freedom, then we have to believe in our hearts the right of all people to have the same freedom we have.  We cannot say it's good for us but not for them, we cannot treat them differently than we believe we have the right to be treated. 
     
    I still hold out hope that one day we might live in a world where freedom is universal, and more importantly that the recognition of all people everywhere as members of our extended family becomes a way of life.  When that day comes, it will be inconceivable to us that someone should be constrained while we are allowed to live free.  It's an all or nothing way of believing, and it's something I wish I could live to see.
     
    I'm linking up with In Other Words over at Patricia's Place
    where the writing prompt was the following quotation:
    "Individuals entering society must give up
    a share of liberty to preserve the rest ." 
     -  George Washington