Friday, October 31, 2014


Day 50. Snapshots.

I've always liked taking pictures. Now with the electronic age, everyone takes pictures of everything. Mostly cats and food. I still prefer a regular camera with film, my trusty Nikon 35mm has been well used. I think the digital stuff makes it too easy to edit things that aren't perfect about a photo, and to me a photograph is a moment that can't be redone.

Some of my best pictures are of race cars. Some of my worst are of race cars. I have the particular talent of capturing the back half of one and the front half of another. Pace lap speed of 45 mph is apparently perfect for that. When they're going around the track at 180 mph, no problem. Slow them down, and I lose it. I can also perfectly center a B-1 bomber doing a flyover in a photo. Go figure. Another weird thing is my ability to capture the 24 car, even as much as I hate it. It photobombs the other cars.

I love capturing sunsets and storms, too. Something about that pinkish, purplish color at the end of the day. It's quite soothing somehow, winding down the day and capturing the last image before the light of day is gone. Storms are great fun, I love a good thunderstorm and the clouds whirling around before the rain hits. Dark clouds, dark moods. I've been known to stand outside just before a storm, taking pictures of the clouds as the lightning and thunder get closer.

I take a lot of pictures because I don't like being in them. I don't even take a lot of pictures of other people. I think I prefer things that don't wiggle, or blink, or wave off the shot because their hair might be out of place. Animal pics are great, but for every decent one I have taken there's at least ten that suck. They just won't be still.

I really don't like digital. I use my camera phone to take quick snapshots, but I rarely edit them. Maybe to crop the edges, but not to refine the subject. To me, photos are truly a snapshot of a moment. You don't get a "do over" in life, so why would you get one in a snapshot of life? So what if your eyes were closed? Who cares if you were looking off camera? It's about what was going on and the experience of it, not the actual look. You can't see the joy of someone holding a grandchild for the first time if they're posed and looking right at the camera and smiling. Take the picture as the nurse hands the baby over, and capture that moment.

I like to think of life as a series of snapshots. Hopefully when you lay them all on a table at the end, they look like a map of happiness and not a jigsaw puzzle.

Lesson Fifty: Do you enjoy taking or looking at photos more? Does the thought of having your picture takem make you feel all stabby? Think about the memories captured on film, or electronically, and revisit the good times through them. You never know what smiles you'll find looking through that box of old pictures hidden under the bed.

680 to go...

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Day 49. Kindness.

I changed the subject for today's post several times. I started off with Kindness, moved to Rebellion, then back to Kindness, then Patriots. Controversy in my own mind. Trying to focus on the positive and not the negative. The discussion is still the same, just the perspective is different. I still want to write about the goodness and not the evil.

We've all been reading about the terror events in the news. A beheading in the heartland of the US, several instances in Canada, shootings in California, another beheading in Long Island. What the hell is wrong with people? Well, a lot it seems. Apparently radical Islam has its teeth in the neck of young Americans and Canadians, and they are happy to oblige by killing fellow citizens. Not something I'll ever get used to, and none of us should. But as horrific as they have been, there's still good to be found.

Pictures of Canadian Nathan Cirillo's sweet dogs waiting at the gate for him to return are just heartbreaking. Knowing he was such a caring man that will be missed by many, I can't stop thinking about his son. He was a single dad to five year old Marcus, who proudly led the procession at his dad's memorial service. Even at his young age of 24, he was a strong family man with a sense of patriotism. He stood proud in service of his Country that day. The kindness his family has been shown by the people of Canada is a testament to his memory.

The places, the names, they may change, but the men and women that serve in uniform always share one constant: they are Patriots. They sacrifice many things to serve: time with family, having a home for more than a few years between duty stations. They are by no means richly rewarded in this life, but I hope they are in the next. We own them more than we can ever repay.

From Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, 19 November 1863: The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

That's all we can hope for, that the world never forgets. 

Lesson Forty Nine: Did you or someone you love serve in the military, and know the sacrifices they make every day? Do you have a healthy respect for them and their families, and understand what they do for love of Country? Think about what they give up, in spite of the fact that we surrender in other ways. Remember that freedom isn't free.

681 to go...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Day 48. Humility.

One of the hardest lessons we have to learn is humility. We humans are really easily convinced that we are the greatest thing since canned beer. Sometimes we learn the lesson ourselves, sometimes God has to teach us. Either way, it's a experience that we don't easily forget.

I think men are naturally less humble than women, as it's likely taken more as weakness so men avoid it. I'd offer the other side of the coin, that humility is a sign of strength. When you can admit you aren't prideful, that you aren't just crowing to hear yourself crow, that's a sign of a man that knows his true self. We can all spot that arrogant jerk from across the room, and you do not want to be him. That guy that just held the door for the old lady, that's a real man. The stranger that helps a little boy to his feet after falling off his bike, that's a man.

Women who haven't found humility, we have a special word for: you all know it. We've probably all been that woman before, there is a time and place for her. But you have to know when to put her away, and act right. The humble waitress calls all her customers "honey," and knows that her man won't stand for any foolishness. The coworker who quietly helps everyone who has trouble with the stupid copier.

Humility is a precursor to grace. It's earned, and sometimes with a heavy price. We see people who have great careers but no humility, and we wonder when they'll fall. Because they will. You can't flaunt anything for long without someone (or God) putting you in your place. Grace is what comes when get back up after you've been humbled. That only happens if you learn your lesson. If the mistakes are repeated, so will the penalty.

I hope I've learned my lesson, and found grace as well. It's not an easy thing to know, as we usually aren't even aware that we've put ourselves on a pedestal, much less having been knocked off of one. The fall to the floor doesn't always leave a mark, and our egos are big fluffy cushions. The lesson isn't always obvious, and there's no referee's whistle to let us know we've gotten out of line. We have to learn the signs and police ourselves, keeping our egos and emotions in check. Being graceful is hard work.

Lesson Forty Eight: Do you control your pride and keep your ego in check? Have you ever had the wind knocked out of your sails, and realized you might should've been a little less arrogant? Think about the times you've had your feet knockd out from under you, and ask if you conducted yourself with humility. See if you can find the grace it takes to be humble.

682 to go...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Day 47. Relentless.

Swinging into my political mode for a day. After a dustup with someone who claims to be a conservative who believes in the Constitution but seems to be willing to let the elites make the decisions for the rest of America, I started thinking. What does it take to be a force in the political world? Why does it seem many candidates share the same heritage, the same donors, the same lobbyists? What can we do to make that different? Be relentless.

We can't just sit on our hands, hold our noses and vote for whoever the party leadership sticks on the ballot. We have to make our voices and our votes heard. If we do nothing, nothing happens. Including more people "inside the tent" by changing our values and compromising out beliefs doesn't help us: it dilutes the message and alienates those who have worked to better things. If you can't (or won't) help with voting for candidates that share your values, if you'd rather let the things you believe in fall by the wayside as you elect people who would compromise themselves to win favor from the powers that be, do me a favor: get out of my way. I really don't want to run over you, but I will.

Know why liberals hate Sarah Palin so much? Wonder why they call Allen West an "Uncle Tom"? Because they're relentless. They don't care who likes them, they don't care what others say about them. They have one purpose, and one purpose only. To protect this great Nation. By any means necessary. They've served already, and are willing to take whatever heat people throw at them to serve again. Not necessarily in elected office, but as spokepersons. As motivators. As leaders. Relentless.

Lesson Forty Seven: Don't get in our way.

683 to go...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Are we still ALL IN?

Day 46.

Are we still ALL IN? Normally I ask myself that question every month or so, just to kick myself in the butt in case I'm slacking. Sometimes we get complacent in our journey, and aren't giving our best. And its in those times we are most vulnerable, and most willing, to give up.

That seems backwards in a way. If we're trying our best, loving our most, living up to our potential, we should be at the top of our game. We should be sharing our happiness with others, making connections that will last a lifetime. But sometimes, at our highest points, we are also the loneliest. We are just waiting on that other shoe to drop, to tear apart what we've worked so hard to create. That seems the time to give up, to surrender to our fates and let go of what we cherish.

Instead, when we're not giving out all, not fulfilling those expectations we've set for ourselves, that's the time we feel like quitting. We begin to believe we can never reach those goals, never find the love we're searching for, that we're not going to have the things we seek. Half efforts result in half results. Or as those Navy engineers say "proper planning prevents piss-poor performance."

Giving your best isn't easy in good times, and even harder in the bad ones. I got my philosophy on this from... yes, good old Richard Bach. In one of his other books, One. The discussion about soulmates, he talks about how relationships drag people down, then lift them up. To make one work, you can't have two anvils. They'll never learn to fly. You also can't have two ballons. They'll never be grounded in reality, and just float away. You need one anvil, and one balloon. One to keep you grounded, and one to help you fly. Together. Without that balance, one person will feel neglected. Taken for granted, pulling more than their weight. That never works out.

You both have to be ALL IN no matter what your role is. If you're the anvil, you have to make sure things are real. Make sure there's focus, a plan, an outcome. If you're the balloon, you make sure there's humor, that there's good food and friends, that you never take things too seriously.

Lesson 46: Are you still ALL IN? Do you know if you're the anvil, or the balloon? Think about your role in the relationships you're in, and make sure you're doing the things that fit that role.

684 to go...

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Day 45. Laugh.

Some of our best moments in life are when we laugh. It truly is the best medicine. Even when we're sad, when life has beaten us down, when we're at our lowest, someone making us laugh moves us towards healing. When we're scared or lonely, a friend can bring us back to reality with a prank or joke that gets our minds off the situation.

My friends Belinda and Helen have told me for years now that I'm hilarious. I really don't see why they say that, I'm just being me. If anything, I'm probably more smartass than funny. In real life, a lot of the things I say are mistaken for humor, when I'm actually saying how I really feel. Maybe the sign of a good comedienne is that no one takes you seriously?

I really can't help it. You see, I just have these thoughts. My grandpa Krafft was the same way. It seemed he laid awake at night thinking up silly things. I don't spend time doing it consciously, but maybe when my insomnia kicks in that's what I do as well. He was a real nut, made everyone smile and laugh. Red Skelton that never got famous, that was him. He drove my gramma crazy with his antics. I remember listening to her fuss at him for it, and he would play like he couldn't hear her. Then as she'd whirl away in frustration, he'd wink at me. I was destined to be a clown, I carry his genes.

I fulfilled part of my destiny, being voted the female Class Clown our senior year of high school. Fun times. I was always the one getting called to the Principal's office: anything that happened, I just HAD to be involved. I usually was, I just never left a trail to implicate myself. I always had a way to clear myself. Even on days I wasn't in school, my homeroom teachers would get a request to send me to the office. That was proof enough for me I was doing the right thing as a clown.

Laughing at oneself is often the hardest to do, but it happens to all of us. I try not to leave myself open for someone to catch me on something, but it can happen. I work hard to be the one with the witty comeback, the last word. I've had a few people that just sort of look at me like "really?", but most people laugh. I actually worked with someone a few years ago that said she didn't think I was funny at all. I hope I gave her my best "really?" look.

I hope my efforts to make people laugh have made their lives better. That's one of the few things we can do for each other in this life. We can love, we can respect, and we can laugh. I think I've got the first one and the last, I'm still working on the respect. That's earned, not granted, so it's more difficult. Since we're human and fail easily, it's hard to maintain respect.

Lesson Forty Five: Have you had a good laugh recently? Do you try to make others laugh, or does it come naturally? Are you drawn to people with a similar sense of humor? Think about what makes YOU laugh, and find those things more often.

685 to go...

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Day 44. Regrets.

I've always said I'd rather be sorry for things I've done than regret the things I didn't. Like I talked about yesterday, we never have enough time to do everything we want, so leaving things undone just doesn't make sense.

I'd like to think I've been true to myself and not had regrets. I've had the chance to do a lot of things, and I don't feel I've trampled over anyone to do the things I wanted. Dave used to say I was the most selfish person he'd ever met. Funny, that. Most everyone else I know says the opposite. I think he was just jealous that I had the courage to do the things I wanted, instead of waiting for them to happen and then being miserable when they didn't.

I try hard to include people in my life, I try and stay involved with people I am close to. Sometimes there are gaps, but we usually pick up where we left off. I think my "plans" for things involve others because that''s so much a part of my life. Without friends and family, we're nothing. The plans we make that don't include those we love are unsatisfying and don't leave lasting memories.

Life is not unlike a ride at the fair, where they tell you not to get out of the car until it comes to a complete stop. My life's had some pauses, but never some to a complete stop. It's gone in really slow motion, the times when I felt most vulnerable and scared. I really wanted the car to stop, so I could get out. But since it wouldn't, I kept going. Good thing I could sit down, sometimes I was too weak to stand.

I've talked before about the things I want to do: learning guitar, traveling, writing more songs. Those aren't regrets of things I didn't do, I just put them off. I can think of a few things I didn't do that might be regrets now, but I can still take them off that list. I have someone in my past that I never got to finish things with, but I hope someday we can talk face to face again and see what happens. I have unfinished business with someone that wronged me a few years ago, I need the chance to confront them and get that out of the way. I'm saving bail money in case that goes badly, it was headed that direction before which I why I moved it to the back burner. But I need to deal with it, to get it out of my system.

The old adage about "never go to bed angry" is sound advice. I try and end every day by telling people I love them, and hopefully make them smile. You truly never know when the time you say those words to someone will be the last time, so never let it go unsaid. I guess never let anger go unspoken either. You'll know the right time for both.

Lesson Forty Four: Do you have things you wish you'd done? Do you now have a chance to do them, the undo your regret at missing out? Think about the days ahead, the days gone by, and realize that you have the power to change the future by learning from the past.

686 to go...

Friday, October 24, 2014


Day 43. Time.

I've had pieces of a song running in my head for a few days. A love song that is more than that, it's about time. The one commodity none of us ever has enough of, one that cannot be purchased at any price.

It took me until last night to figure out its some obscure Toto song from like 1999. The song isn't very good, but the lyrics are great.

You never lose a minute, if in it there is love
And 'old man time' always pulls you through

There's an endless struggle to squeeze all the love you can into the time you have. "Old Man Time" pulls us right through our lives, quickly past those we love. Moving at light speed, I try and grasp to hold onto them. 

It's better not to depend on the morning dew
For the rose you plant in your bed tends to you

If I treat you well, I won't need to worry about losing your love. It will grow and flourish under our loving care. I can only count on myself to make that happen, and never take for granted you'll always be there.

Some folks take money, some take their life
Some take forever to see

Not everyone is lucky enough to see the love that's right there in front of them. Sometimes they aren't looking at what's staring right at them.

Blind faith, blind love, they're no mystery to me
You must take the time, for that's the fee

I've been the one still standing after all hope was lost. I'm standing here now because of it. Never sure what happened in the past to make things go so wrong, but it won't keep me from loving again. Even when I know the price. 

It's worth the pain that makes the tears
It's worth the light of a million years

The love you give will hurt, but the joy you get in return is immeasurable. Great pain brings great joy. It will outshine the sun in its brilliance, and where before there was darkness there is now light.

Only your love I can't explain
You are the flower for my rain

I don't know why you picked me to love, but I'm glad you did. When I give mine back to you, it's the very definition of beauty. The life we have together is a shining example to those who watch us. 

You light the sun that shines from my eyes
It's all in return for what you're givin' me

The love we share will be reflected in the joy others see. Maybe someone will even write a song about it. My happiness isn't my own: it's because of you.

You are the reason for the earth beneath my feet
And you fill the space that I call free

I am nothing without you. My life began when we found each other, and goes on because of you. My heart, my soul, my everything belongs to you. The price of my freedom is time, and I give it. Gladly.

Lesson Forty Three: Will you sacrifice your time, your future for love? Can you give up the one thing you can never get back, in exchange for the greatest gift of all? Think about what you'd do: faced with an eternity without love, would you trade that eternity for love?

687 to go...

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Day 42. Simplicity.

Let's face it, we like nice things. We like our fancy electronics, our shiny cars, our big houses full of stuff. The people on the Hoarders television shows, they like stuff a little more than the rest of us, but we share something with them. We're both trying to fill our lives with things, instead of filling things with life.

It doesn't take a hi-def tv with a screen so large that  people are life-sized to make us happy. We don't need a 3000 square foot house for two, with five bedrooms and four baths. An SUV the size of a small RV doesn't make us any happier.

The most precious things in our lives are often the simplest. A campfire, surrounded by friends. A nap on the couch. A cat purring in your lap. Walking in the park with the one you love. A cheap bottle of wine, drunk from paper cups.  Reading a good book for the tenth time.

I learned as a kid that having "stuff" didn't mean you were happy. I had all the cool stuff, all the newest toys, all the cool clothes, all the gadgets. None of which made a bit of difference, when I had forces working against me to tear me down. I battled to convince myself that in spite of being told I wasn't smart enough, pretty enough, anything enough, I really was worth something. I knew my friends liked me for me, not because I had all the new albums, or I could pay for everyone in our group to go to movies on Saturdays.

I've learned to live without a lot of things over my adult life. Always had a decent job, but never comfortable enough to feel secure. We had lots of love, and the simple things made us happy. We'd go to Momma Doris's house on the lake on weekends, and split the cost of food with everyone else there. We'd take lawn chairs to the airport I worked at and watch two of our pilot friends practice aerobatics. We'd spend $100 for a weekend camping at the racetrack in Charlotte and seeing two Nascar races. We'd invite the kids' friends over and have a bonfire.

I'm at a point in life where I have a bit more freedom, both personal and financial. So what do I do with my money and time? I bought a greenhouse. Because growing my own plants (vegetable and flowering) makes me happy. I bought paint and tile and carpets. Because my little place in the woods needs some sprucing up. It's not big, certainly not fancy, but it's mine and I love it. New caramel colored cabinet doors with beige cabinets, new tiles for the floor, new curtains and carpets in the bedroom. Nothing fancy, doing the work myself, but again, it makes me happy. The simple things.

Lesson Forty Two: Do you need material things to make you feel your life is better? Can you do without the latest things, and still have a smile? Think about the things you miss when you're caught up competing with the Jones', and see if you can let some things go that are keeping you from enjoying the people in your life, instead of the things.

688 to go...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Day 41. Imagine.

Similar to dreams, we can imagine great things. We can imagine a world free of pain, free of sorrow. We can imagine a world without starvation, without pollution. From Illusions: Imagine the universe beautiful and just and perfect. Then realize that the Is has imagined it just a bit better than you have. (Note to readers that aren't familiar with Illusions, the Is refers to God.)

If I imagine a better world, it has lots of children. And animals. And chocolate. In my better world, we'd all drive purple '65 Mustangs and ride cherry red panheads. We'd have gardens full of purple flowers all year round, and fresh strawberries any time we wanted them. We'd share that world with those we love that have gone before us, and share our laughter with those we hold dear yet again. And forever.

My imaginary world has a baseball team, where I can see my favorite players anytime I want. The racetrack in my world has Dale Earnhardt and Tim Richmond fighting it out on the last lap. Over there's the airport, where rides are always free and the skies are always clear. The fishing hole out back is full of striped bass that are hungry. Every day at the creek, the trout are biting like it's opening day. Oh yeah, no mosquitoes in this world either.

I realize that to imagine a beautiful and just and perfect world is really just an "illusion" if you can call it that. We can no more control the world that surrounds us than we can control the tide. We can surely imagine that perfection, but must realize it impossible to fulfill. But without the promise of more, of a better place, of an honorable place where the waters run clear and the air smells of fresh linens, what would life be but lonely indeed?

I believe that God does see a better world than we can imagine. That doesn't mean we should stop imagining our own. Without that hope of a more beautiful, more just and more perfect world, we are just passengers on this journey. I don't think God intends us to be passengers: I think He means for us to be our own Captains.

We all know that life is fragile, and time is fleeting (bonus points if you know where that reference comes from.) We have but one chance at this life, so we have to put every effort into it. We have to learn quickly, love deeply, grab the brass ring as quickly as possible. And never EVER can we take the things we love for granted. We can imagine that we have them forever, but that's not a reality. Our fragile human bodies aren't set up for the long haul, and there are no guarantees, even if we do get the improved models. We have to be ALL IN from the beginning, and not let go. Ever.

Lesson Forty One: Can you imagine a world with the things that make it perfect for you? Will you settle for less than that? Why should you? Think about the things and people that make your world better, and remember to never let them forget it. Just imagine how wonderful things will be when you succeed.

689 to go...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Day 40. Prayer.

We often seek out God's assistance in our times of need. We look to Him for answers when life is difficult, for comfort when the events of the day have taken their toll. Sometimes we forget that He is always there, always just a prayer away, even when we don't realize we need Him.

Some people are afraid to reach for God for the small things. They think He doesn't want bothered with requests for help with an exam, or needing confidence for a big speech at work. They worry that He won't hear their pleas to help stretch the budget just a little further this month, to not let the car repairs break the bank. But He is always listening.

I admit I forget to pray sometimes. I forget just how close God is, all the time. He is right there beside us. He knows the things we need, even if we don't remember to ask for them. I believe He often waits until we ask for His help before He steps in. We shouldn't hesitate, but we do. We wait until the last minute, and then go to our knees for His help. And He never lets us down. We might not always get what we pray for, but its what He intends to happen.

I quoted this before on the blog, but it fits today as well: When we fall, one of two things happens. God catches us, or gives us wings. In really bad times, I know He catches us. He caught me a few times. We are sometimes weaker than other times, and He knows we can't make it on our own two feet. He knows we need His shoulder to lean on. Then gradually, we build our self-confidence. We learn to walk on our own, and then He gives us our wings. After we earn them, part of which involves asking Him for help.

Lesson Forty: Do you struggle through situations instead of turning them over to God? Have you ever reached out in desperate prayer, only to realize He was there all along? Think about the times you needed Him most, and remember He already knew it. He was just waiting on you to realize it.

Special prayers for a friend's daughter, please. One can never have too many people praying for them. Thanks. :)

690 to go...

Monday, October 20, 2014


Day 39. Memories.

I've found myself being rather nostalgic the past week or so, remembering my life here in Lexington. It's a great small town, yet close enough to the bigger towns of Thomasville and Salisbury and the city of Winston-Salem that you can indulge in actual culture without going too far from home.

I've actually never lived inside the city limits of any town. Grew up a country girl, and still am. I prefer trees over people, pinecones over asphalt. I've never even lived in an apartment, can't imagine how it would be to share walls with someone else, yikes.

We moved here in 2006, after commuting 150 miles a day for six years. The 15 mile drive to the airport in Winston was nice, while it lasted (thanks, Obama  - jerk.) Then I managed to find a job less than 10 miles from home, so it was still an improvement over the long drive.

We had a really nice older farmhouse, built in the late 50s but completely remodeled, on 5 acres, two wooded and three former pasture. A lot of work during mowing season. After Dave got hurt at work, he couldn't keep up with the mowing or the maintenance, and with the single income things got rough. We ended up doing a short sell and getting out while we could. We took the single-wide we already owned and moved it to the almost three acres here in West Lexington. Much less to maintain, and a third the expense. Something I could handle by myself, which as it turns out, is how it ended up.

Lots of neat little places to go and do things here. Best sushi in the area, a little spot in an old strip mall named Fuji Moro. Hidden gem Cook's is the best barbecue around, and that's something in a town named the BBQ Capital of the World. The Candy Factory uptown has every sweet concoction ever made it seems, including homemade truffles. Daniel Boone State Park is just down the highway from me, it's got lots of nice hiking trails and wildlife. High Rock Lake, the Yadkin River: both have some good fishing.

Sometimes we forget the specialness of our everyday life. The big city seems to draw us like moths, beckoning us with its bright lights and exciting things. But if we look around us, there are miracles right in our backyards. I have a creek that draws a family of deer every fall, I can see them from the back windows. The summer evenings are full of noise from the tree frogs that live in my woods. Today I watched one of the cats stalking a squirrel, luckily he was smart enough to stay up in the oak tree.  When I walked the dogs earlier, I saw a whirlwind catch some brilliant orange leaves from the ash tree at the end of the driveway.

Lesson Thirty Nine: Do you appreciate the things and places around you? Or do you wish for bigger and better? Have you ever really sat down and looked at the area you live in, and thought about how special it might be? Think about what's going on within your area, and realize you might have memories waiting to be made right at home.

691 to go...

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Day 38. Chaos.

Ever have that feeling that the world is closing in on you, and you're not ready for it? Sometimes think that life has caught up with you, and you're running as fast as you can to stay ahead? Yeah, been there. Life does have a tendency to do just that. It borders on chaos more often than not, often without us realizing it. We are closer to the edge than we know, juggling unknown porcelain dishes. Chaos. It's a warning signal for disaster, alerting us to impending doom.

Years ago, I worked way too many hours. I did that to avoid the chaos that would overtake me if I didn't have enough money to pay the bills. I knew the insanity of spending so much time away from home didn't make sense, but the alarm in my head told me to keep it up to avoid the consequences. I paid a price for it, missing time with my family and friends. But the alternative was too difficult to choose otherwise.

Then there was the chaos at work. Also so busy, never quite enough time to complete everything that needed done so we could avoid the next crisis. There was a joke at my first aviation job that it was called Maintenance Chaos, not Maintenance Control. If we thought we had control, we were kidding ourselves. Not unlike regular life, if we think we're in control, just wait a few minutes and we see the truth.

We can only hope to keep all the porcelain in the air. We have many choices we can make: what bill to pay, what can wait, who we can go to for help. Or we can try and control the chaos alone. I don't recommend that course, it's much more difficult to juggle more than three things at once by yourself. The more people you have around you, the easier things are to manage.

Of course, we could try and avoid the chaos altogether. If you figure out how to do that successfully, please let me know. I've been looking for that solution all my life, and gotten pretty much nowhere with it. The best laid plans, etc.

Lesson Thirty Eight: Do you try and do "too much"? Are you sometimes overwhelmed with the things that seem to crop up at the very worst times? Think about how you can plan better, to ease the stress. Then realize you're probably going to cause yourself more stress trying to implement that plan.

692 to go...

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Day 37. Peace.

When you mention peace, people usually think you're talking of ending wars and conflicts around the world. No more fighting, no more death, no more suffering. That happening is truly a fantasy, as the world is much too big and complex to ever do a Rodney King and just get along. I don't know God's plan, but I doubt He planned for that, knowing He made humans to be the things we are.

The peace we sometimes forget about, but most often seek, is our own. Relaxing completely, letting our true selves be exposed. Allowing ourselves to finally be who it is we mask from the world each day. No stress from trying to please others, no fear that we'll displease someone. We all have battles in our own lives, and we want nothing more than to end them.

I had battles as a child. In spite of the love I got from most of my family, there was one parent that ruined it all. If I remembered much of my life before I was ten, I would probably not be happy at the memories. I know the ones I have of the second ten weren't great, but the first ten were worse. I think I blocked a lot of them out, probably to protect myself. Never knowing when someone would fly off the handle and start swinging the first thing they grabbed. Afraid if anything got broken, sure that I'd be getting punished even if it was an accident. There was no peace in that part of my life.

The middle of my life, I found some peace there. Kids, friends, good times. Stress from never having enough money, but that came and went as situations changed. I put on a happy face, and it wasn't fake most of the time. I was still looking for a long run of peace, it being interrupted along the way.

Then the 90's showed up, I became a wife and had yet another person to please. My skin got rubbed raw sometimes, with the words of disappointment. But I just kept trying harder, and made it work. Twenty years or so later, there were still times when thing weren't good enough, I wasn't doing enough. But being ALL IN, there I was, still trying to hold it together. I don't know that I would've won the war Dave was often raging against the world that was mostly me, but I'm not a quitter.

“It's so hard to forget pain, but it's even harder to remember sweetness. We have no scar to show for happiness. We learn so little from peace.”  - Chuck Palahniuk

I make an effort to put the bad times away, and remember the good. That war is never won.

Lesson Thirty Seven: Do you focus on bad times more than the good? Have you experienced so much negativity that you have a hard time celebrating success? Think about how you deal with dark times, and try to celebrate the light.

693 to go...

Friday, October 17, 2014


Day 36. Solitude.

I've realized that being by yourself doesn't mean you're lonely. When you have the companionship of friends and family, you don't have to have their physical presence to feel them with you. If the bond is strong enough, and you are (say it with me now) ALL IN, they can be miles away and you still feel the connection. Sometimes even if you've never met them in person.

I've talked about my online friends before, what a wide variety they are. I feel such a strong connection with them, it's crazy sometimes. I can joke around with my racing buddies about football team rivalries, and it's like we were sitting in a bar having a beer and laughing in person. I can tell that Blake really is kidding when he says he's cancelling his NC vacation because I got Belinda to harass him over the LSU/Miami game. And I can feel the love when she puts that little heart after all her posts on Facebook.

I try and learn things about all my friends, so I can feel closer to them. I like knowing a bit more about everyone: it's fun to post a Peanuts cartoon to Maureen's page, or a funny chicken picture for Amy. Then there's Beth and the goats, the other Beth and RTR (Roll Tide Toll for you non-Bama fans), and even the third Beth about Thor. Military pics for the guys that served, hockey discussions with my friend Bob over in Raleigh, and harassing Rusty about his lack of piloting skills.  Oh yeah, and making Lori laugh when I say that Sydney Crosby is a bitch, LOL. It makes me feel closer to them when I know things that make them smile.

There's also the bond with someone you can tell everything to, online at least. I have a few people I can do that with, I feel I can talk about anything and everything and get the truth back from them. If I'm being crazy, they'll tell me. They'll rein me in, or tell me to go for it, whichever I need. There's a bit of freedom in talking online, you don't have to worry about them giving you weird looks. Or smacking you upside the head when you are being foolish.

While I'm active online, I'm usually home alone with the animals. The dogs doing their noisy dog stuff in the background, a cat trying to help type or catch the cursor on the screen. But I don't feel lonely. When Dave was still here, I sometimes felt lonelier than I do now. Because of his shoulder injury and his pain from that, he slept a lot or was grumpy. So even though we did things together like shopping or dinner out, we didn't sit and watch TV or eat dinner at home together. That was lonelier than being here by myself, if that makes sense.

It's actually kind of nice being here alone. I know I'm a people person, as anyone who knows me in real life can confirm. I love a good party, and contrary to the Capricorn traits I am NOT a wallflower. Not by a long shot. But I can relax without having to clean up after anyone else, without having to figure out what means to make for someone else, it's all for me. I think "lonely" is different than "lonesome." I do get lonesome. I miss having someone to cuddle on the couch with, someone that passes behind me in the kitchen and tugs my hair braid. Having someone to bake brownies for, since I don't need to eat the whole pan of them. Missing the little things, that's what "lonesome" means.

I hope I'm not lonesome forever, but I kinda like the solitude.

Lesson Thirty Six: Do you enjoy spending time by yourself or do you need to be around others to really enjoy things? Do you try and learn more about other people so that even when you're not together you can feel closer to them? Think about your relationships, and see if they can withstand time apart.

694 to go...

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Day 35. Fears.

Let's go ahead and admit it: we all have fears. Some worse than others. Some people fear pain, death, loss of loved ones. Others fear spiders, the number 13, snakes and black cats.

With all the talk of economic collapse and OMG EBOLA!!! no wonder people seem more fearful in recent days. The few people I know that thought the goverment would always tell the truth and take care of us all should probably be panicking pretty hard by now. Those of us who have always known that to be a lie have alredy begun preparations to take care of ourselves.

Oil prices are in the tank, which is a good think. Cheap oil hurts Russia, which helps us. It keeps them weaker when they can't try and control the European market. The Bear was never dead, the Bear was just hybernating. And you can't make peace with a Bear, you can only hope to kill him before he kills you. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. As prices stay low, and American oil production increases, it will only help stabilize our economy. Now if we can get the government to get off our backs and let the drilling and transportation of our own crude expand. As well as fracking. Cheap energy is good for everyone.

The banking system is pretty much screwed. Mason jars in the backyard doesn't look like a bad option at this point. The stress tests the Federal Reserve runs only proves what we know: the banks don't have the money to cover deposits. So one day, when TSHTF and everyone wants their cash, you better hope to be first in line. Unless you think that pen on a chain is a good trade for your saving account.

Disease prevention: it's up to you. Just like always. Any false security you have that anyone else gives a flip if you live or die should have gone up in smokoe years ago. The Federal government can't buy a clue about what to do, they are making up protocols as they go along. At this point we'd be better off just avoiding crowds and washing our hands a lot. But what do I know, I've never even had the flu.

I can't help you with the spiders, 13, or black cats. But I do say THE ONLY GOOD SNAKE IS A DEAD SNAKE, if that helps with them.

My only real take on fear comes from Frank Herbert. The Bene Gesserit litany is good advice, if only to help focus your thoughts and keep you calm.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Lesson Thirty Five: Do you let fear control your actions? Do you find yourself surrendering to fear and letting the unknown make your decisions? Think about how you can control the things around you, and not let the panic drive you to make poor choices.

695 to go...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Day 34. Whispers.

Going back to a blog post from last week again, about the young woman who moved to Oregon to take advantage of their assisted-suicide laws. I read an awesome article on a blog last night about someone else's take on the situation (basically the same as mine) and a comment there stood out to me.

God whispers. Most of us make too much noise to hear those whispers, let alone see the miracles all around us.

That's a powerful statement.

Most of the time, we're so busy with everything around us that we don't take time to listen to those we surround ourselves with, much less take time to listen to God. We are busy with our smartphones, our HDTV, running the kids to soccer practice. We are busy rushing to catch the train to get to work, speeding down the highway to get to the store. There's always noise to keep us from hearing what's important. Noise that distracts us.

We get so busy living life that we forget to enjoy it. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle, we don't hear the people we love crying out for us. Their whispers eventually turn to shouts, and sometimes even then we don't hear them. If we can't hear the people we've chosen to spend our lives with, how can God ever expect us to hear Him?

I know I've been guilty of not listening. I talked once before about the discussion with my daughter about saying "I didn't care" too often. That was an example of me not listening. I was doing other stuff like cooking, watching television, etc. to really hear her question, so I gave that stupid answer which made her think I didn't care about her. I know I blocked out times when Dave would be moaning about things that I really didn't want to discuss. I know there are still times I'd rather not think about some things. Avoidance isn't a good plan for dealing with life, by the way.

I've tried to do better when I finally did realize it was God talking to me. I guess the times He was whispering and I wasn't listening made Him shout at me. He shouted at me twice now in my adult life, and I can tell you I am listening closely for His whispers now.

If we don't hear God's whispers, we miss out on extraordinary things. He whispers to us at the end of the day: "Look to the West, look at that sunset I made for you." He whispers to us each morning: "Awake, my Child, to the glory of this new day." He speaks to us as we hear children playing in the park, when we listen birds singing, and as we hear someone say "I love you." These are the little miracles we'll not witness if we aren't listening.

Lesson Thirty Four: Do you tune out the things you really aren't interested in dealing with at the moment? Do you take time to look around you and see beauty in the ordinary? Think about things you might be missing if you're not listening.

696 to go...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Day 33. Redemption.

I didn't really have a plan for today's post until early this morning. I normally write at night, but couldn't find two thoughts to put together for some reason. After sleeping well, I think I might have something.

Usually when we think of redemption, it's in a religious context. Having made the changes necessary to save our souls. Confessing our sins and making atonement. Me being different than most people I know, I think of personal redemption with the people we care about most. The people we usually hurt the most.

Humans fail. Sometimes we fail each other, sometimes ourselves. Usually we're aware of our failures, as most people don't have a problem pointing out the mistakes of others. I've always tried my best to give praise when possible, because I know I don't mind letting someone know when they've failed me. I wasn't always that way: I covered up a lot of bad feelings when I was disappointed in the past, and it got me exactly nowhere.

Honesty is the only way we can deal with one another. I tend to be brutally honest, to the point of being mean sometimes. I just don't think we do anyone any favors by sugarcoating things. Especially when we're not going to get over them easily. I've learned how to be a little gentler in the past few years, maybe I'm mellowing in my old age. Or I've realized that I'd like someone to be gentler with me when I fail them.

As we learn about the people in our lives, we find out the things they expect of us. They don't always tell us, we often have to figure them out for ourselves. Which is why we fail. Those unspoken expectations, the unreachable ones: that's why people get disappointed in each other. If only we'd just say "I really wish you wouldn't leave your dirty socks in the floor,", instead of getting angry about it over and over. It could be that simple.

I have expectations of myself as well. I demand certain things, and I'm usually disappointed in myself more often as I am disappointed in other people. I know what I'm capable of, and need to kick my own butt quite often. But sometimes, I come through. I redeem myself and find the courage to go on another day. Another week. Another month.

I'm hoping these writings meet your expectations. I hope I've redeemed myself if I've failed you. If not, I hope you let me know so I can work on it.

Lesson Thirty Three: Do you let people know what you expect of them? Do they know they did a good job, or do you only acknowledge failures? Do you sometimes give up before you start something, believing you will fail? Think about the people you may have disappointed, and work to make things better. Realize you may have failed them by not letting them know you were disappointed.

697 to go...

Monday, October 13, 2014


Day 32. Promises.

Yay, first full month of blogging is in the books! We made it! Thanks for sticking with me. Hopefully my ramblings are making a bit of sense, I know some people have commented on Facebook that I've at least gotten them thinking, so that's a good thing. Lessons begin by thinking for yourself, about the things you sometimes rather wouldn't think about at all. I promised myself I'd keep writing until I ran out of things to say, hopefully the two year goal I set up will be enough. The more I write, the more I find I need to say.

Promises are hard things. Hard to make, hard to break, hard to live up to. Sometimes we make promises in the spur of the moment, sometimes we make them out of unspoken obligations we feel to others.

A spur of the moment promise might be something we tell our kids we'll do: "I promise we'll go to the zoo next weekend." Really a small thing to an adult, but kids take promises to heart. Forget about that zoo trip, and you'll hear about it for weeks. You'll hear about it so much you'll beg them to go to the zoo with you so they'll shut up about it.

A promise of unspoken obligation? That's another story. Sometimes we promise a loved one that we'll take care of them, or of the rest of the family, when there's an illness. Even if the loved one never asks, we sometimes feel its our duty as children or eldest sibling to make sure they are cared for properly. Making sure they are comfortable at their home, or in ours, or in the best facility possible, as a very last resort. We feel we must take care of our own, right? That's a bold promise, and not one easily kept.

Often it's more than they would ever ask of us, but we still feel compelled to do it. We feel that unspoken obligation as if it were words from God himself. I've seen people go to the end of the earth to make sure they've done everything they could, and sometimes still don't think its enough, even when they've run themselves and their own family ragged. I don't believe our loved ones would hold us to such promises, especially when we never usually make them aloud. Breaking a promise made to someone in your own mind doesn't make you a bad person. As long as you do your best, that's all anyone ever asks of us.

I'm not saying that we should go around breaking promises. I really don't believe we should make so many of them. Save them for big things that are doable, not little things that you might get too busy for, or big things that are all but impossible. Biting off more than we can chew and then failing doesn't help anyone. Never let your mouth or mind make a promise that your butt can't keep.

Remember I've talked about my song that was recorded as a demo years ago? It's about promises. One of the parts goes like this:

A promise is made that we can't keep,
The river of lies, it runs too deep.
He told me once that time stands still,
Til he comes back, it probably will.

Lesson Thirty Two: Do you find yourself apologizing for breaking promises, maybe ones you shouldn't have made in the first place? Have you got a broken promise someone made to you that stands in the way of your relationship? Think about promises made, promises kept, and see if you can find where that fine line falls.

698 to go..

Sunday, October 12, 2014


Day 31. ALL IN.

Yes, those two words again. Worth repeating, often and with feeling. Like a good song, you can't hear them enough.

There are many pieces to life. It's hard work being ALL IN thirty different things as once. We sometimes have to prioritize what's important to us, shuffle things around, work a little harder, but we do it. There are things that need more hands on, more effort, but they're worth it. Friendships, love, those are the most important.

I've got a fair amount of friends. I don't count acquaintances, people I know but don't really interact with daily. I've got high school friends from 30+ years ago, work friends from the last 25 years, internet friends I''ve met, all people I know in the physical world. I also have a large number of virtual friends. A large number are like-minded politically, some share my love of racing and animals. Some people cross into several groups. I can't say I'm not as close to some of the virtual friends as I am the physical ones.

Virtual friends is sometimes easier. You don't have to feel the same hurt when they say or do something upsetting, since you won't be actually seeing them while you're upset. You can run the risk of saying something to them that you might not say in real life, since you don't have any "skin in the game" and won't be running into them at the grocery store and having a weird moment. I really try not to treat them any different, but it does happen. I know I feel more strongly about some things in the physical world that might upset me more but I would never say them. I don't need the drama or pain, it's not worth the risk. Life goes on.

Some people take friendships differently. They walk a tightrope: making sure not to offend anyone, keeping their discussions away from controversial topics, hiding their true selves because they don't want to upset things. Sometimes they figure out people aren't worth hiding yourself from. Remember that talk about walls protecting but also isolating you from a week or so ago? True with friendships as well. You can pick and choose them, people come and go in and out of our lives. We control that too, if you remember the lesson from a few weeks ago. It's up to us who we are ALL IN with, and who we cut loose.

It's the same with love. Sometimes we think we've found "the one" we can't live without. That can happen, but sometimes we're just breaking the eggs before we get to make the omelet. Sometimes years are spent with "the one" that really wasn't, and we eventually wake up to see we need to move on. If we're lucky, we find the real "one" sooner rather than later. Because time is short, we have to keep our eyes and our hearts open. We have to be ready to accept it when it comes along, and allow ourselves to be ALL IN again.

I've watched a young woman learn that lesson. I saw her finish high school, go on to college, find her first relationship. As she grew into an adult, she also outgrew that relationship. As good as it might've once been, it became lukewarm. And everyone knows you can't make anything with lukewarm. It has to be hot, glowing red, "en fuego" if it's going to last. Lukewarm grows cold way too soon, and nobody likes cold. I watched my young friend find new love. New love that was exciting, fun, interesting, ON FIRE. There she was again, ALL IN. And guess what? He's "the one". And Saturday, he asked her to marry him.

Of course, she said yes. Because she's ALL IN. And he is, too.

Congratulations, Kayce and Nathan. You've taken the first step in your life together. Don't ever take each other for granted, don't ever stop saying "I love you," and never be less than ALL IN.

Lesson Thirty One: Do you value some friendships above others? Does it hurt differently when real world and virtual friends do things that bother you, or do you let them both go easily? Think about what's important to you, what makes you be ALL IN with the people in your life, and don't ever hang onto anything that's not good for you.

699 to go...

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Day 30. Faith.

This week, we've talked about some emotional subjects. Broken families, seeming beyond repair. Devastating illness, hopeless outcome. The one thing they have in common: Faith. If you have none, you resign yourself to what happens in your life. If you have a little, you pray that things will improve. If you have lots, you know God is in control and the outcome is in His hands. All three require you to consider Faith.

I never quite understood people who say they are atheists, non-believers. I think it's arrogant to believe that we humans just happen to become the sentient beings we are today by pure luck. I can't imagine living without the knowledge that someone greater than me is looking out for His creation. The security in times of fear, the comfort in His house, the energy He provides when thins seem their darkest. What hollowness must one feel who does not believe, for surely they know the meaning of "alone."

I've tried to learn about religions other than Christianity. I've got Jewish friends, Mormon friends, Muslim friends. All of us share that common believe in a supreme being, even with different names for Him. We all believe that our sins can be forgiven, and He will accept us into His everlasting kingdom. That knowledge is a source of comfort for billions around the world. It can also be a source of violence and hate, which is surely not His intention. Those are perversions of His message, which is one of love, tolerance, and forgiveness.

A story was told at Kathie's memorial service, by a minister who never met her. I've told it before to some, but I think it's important enough to hear again. It's a message of hope, for those with faith and those without.

A beloved man lay on his deathbed, surrounded by his family. A wife, two daughters and a son. He spoke to them one last time. "Good night, wife. Good night, eldest daughter. Good night, son. Goodbye, youngest daughter." 

"Daddy, wait!" the youngest cried out. "Why did you tell them Good Night and tell me Goodbye? Why, Daddy?"

"Daughter, I will see the three of them someday. They have given their hearts to Christ and we will be reunited in Heaven. So this is just Good Night. You haven't found Jesus, and without accepting him as your Savior, we won't see each other again. So this is Goodbye."

I believe in my heart that we all have the chance to join our loved ones again in Heaven. It's what gets me though some of my worst days. That light of hope beckons me to stay strong until it's my turn. That's called Faith. I wish nothing less for all of you.

Lesson Thirty: Think about your life, your loved ones. Will you say Good Night, or Goodbye?

700 to go...

Friday, October 10, 2014


Day 29: More.

I've thought about yesterday's post on Grace a lot today. I questioned myself. I wondered if I was too harsh. After all, it's her life. Who am I to question her decision? As I turned that over and over in my mind, I realized there's a reason I was fighting so hard in my argument for life. Because there's always more.

Giving up when things are rotten is almost a coward's way out. I hesitate to call someone a coward that I don't know personally, but for me I think it would be a chicken move. Life is short enough as it is, why would anyone give up early? I try to remember that God has that planned as well, and that there's some lesson for us to learn. I'm hoping I've figured it out.

I think the lesson might be to teach us that we shouldn't do the same thing. We shouldn't give up when the going gets rough. When faced with challenges that seem greater than we can meet, we are supposed to pick ourselves up, put on our big girl panties, and keep fighting. Brain cancer that will debilitate us in months? We should get out of bed, put some makeup on, and go shopping for something to make us happy. It's not denial, it's just moving on with our lives. Divorce? Let's get our drink and our dancing shoes on, and make new connections.

There are things in life that you can never truly recover from: I've had two. The loss of a child, and a spouse. But I didn't stop living. I still have another child, and if I found one person that could tolerate me for twenty years, I might can find another. I didn't stop loving my son, and I've got love to give another man. I guess? I really don't know where that road leads, but I'm hoping to have some fun along the way to whatever the end of that path might be.

I think another lesson God is teaching us (well, me at least) is that we can't sit quietly in the corner and accept what is happening to us. I believe I have found my voice again, writing this blog. I feel empowered when I can discuss my take on things, and hopeful that people reading my words feel it, too. I don't want to be the person that just gives up on life, I want to be the example of how to get on with life. Because there's more. More happiness, more good times, more love. It's right there, we just have to reach for it.

Lesson Twenty Nine: Do you recover well from bad events in your own life? Do you believe you have the power to go on, with the help of friends, family and God? Is there something that has stood in your way for too long that you just can't get past? Think about how you can improve your life by standing tall and fighting for another day. Fighting for more.

701 to go...

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Day 28. Grace...

I've been watching the news about the young woman in Oregon with brain cancer that intends to use their State law allowing for medically-assisted suicide. Two days after her husband's birthday, in just a few weeks. I'm sure he's thrilled she's giving him that last birthday together. Not really, I'm being sarcastic. And she's being selfish.

Glenn Beck talked about this on his radio show Wednesday. I totally agree with him. This young woman shouldn't be heralded as some sort of hero for her brave sacrifice. She's giving up. I hate a quitter.

Life throws all kinds of things at us. Good and bad. We are meant to deal with them all. We aren't supposed to just chicken out, in fear of how awful or painful things may become. God doesn't have any surprises: He knows exactly what you will face from the moment you are conceived. He doesn't just sit in Heaven and toss out punishments to see how you'll do. This chick in Oregon, she gets a big FAIL.

There are lessons to be learned from everything we go through. I'm writing this blog as a way to try and teach others about how I've applied the lessons I've been given. I know I'll have more lessons to learn, and there may be bad ones among those as well. I've had plenty, but I can't just yell "ENOUGH, I QUIT" and expect God to just say "awww, I'm gonna cut her a break now." That's not how this works.

We play the hands that are dealt us. Nobody said this was a 50/50 game, with good and bad being equal. If you're going through life expecting it to be fair, you'll be sorely disappointed. It's not like that. It might be, but it's not guaranteed. We celebrate glorious highs, and what seem like bottomless lows. But the human spirit isn't designed to just quit. We are fighters. Ever seen those pictures of babies in the womb reaching out their arms? Even watched someone struggle to take one last breath? We don't quit.

This woman in Oregon wrote an article for CNN titled "My Right to Die with Dignity." Please. Your rights are given to you by God. So was your brain cancer. He meant for you to learn something from having it. You're cheating yourself, and others who might learn from it. What if during this process you were meant to find something far more important? Maybe the doctors working on your case were going to discover a cure for some other cancer? But then again, God knows you are weak and won't see this through to the end. He knows all.

A repeat, from Illusions: There is no such thing as a problem without a gift in its hands.

The greatest gift He gives us is Grace. The Grace to accept the other gifts. It's a shame this woman doesn't realize the gift He's offering her. Her story could be so inspiring, but for me it's depressing and weak. I don't think I could stand by her side and watch her throw the future away. There's so much to be learned, even from a miserable situation.

Lesson Twenty Eight: Do you believe we should just give up when things get rough? How do you feel about assisted suicide, when the outcome is bleak and the pain will be great? Do you think there's a bigger plan for us all that we have to see through to the end? Think about the things you and the people you love have been through, and remember how lucky we all are to be offered the opportunity to receive His Grace.

702 to go...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Unbendable Hearts

Day 27. Unbendable Hearts...

Still thinking about yesterday's post.... I can't get two little boys out of my mind.

Two tiny three-year olds, that I saw once when they were a few weeks old. I've watched them grow via social media, pictures and stories on Facebook. Their Momma and I no longer work together, but through the magic of the interwebs, can still share in the good things of life. I've seen pictures of them with spaghetti faces, hugging the animals in their lives, their eyes wide after a night at the County fair. I've read the stories about their first steps, how helpless parents feel when they are sick, how proud Momma was at seeing them make friends at day care.

I've also had to see the bad things of life. I've watched the sorrow that flows so often from my friend, knowing they are growing up while she sits waiting. I've read her heartbreaking story about wishing she had a new job where no one knew she had two boys so no one would ask if she'd seen them so her heart didn't break further. I've wondered if the person doing this to the three of them realizes just what she's doing. No, she's not "protecting" them from anything. She's not "moving on" with life. She's robbing them all of something so rare and precious, something she can't even see (or doesn't want to), a gift so magical it should be rejoiced and celebrated and shared. She's keeping them from love. And that's evil.

I said yesterday that I didn't think anything could fix this. I really don't know any kind of solution. My friend might not totally agree with where I go on this now, but I will say that God knows what to do. He is in charge, and He passes judgement. This toxic person might not realize it now, maybe not in the next ten years, but evil doesn't escape His eye. These boys and their Momma won't be separated by evil. The love they shared won't stop. Love can't be contained. It will flourish in spite of those who think they are in control. Who will then have to answer for their actions, sometimes at a price they won't easily afford.

1 Corinthians 13, lines 4 -7: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love conquers all. Even unbendable hearts. Keep the faith. 

Lesson Twenty Seven: Have you ever tried to interfere in a relationship, and how bad did that backfire? Have you been the victim of someone using children, or something else, to manipulate you? Did you have a little smile when karma bit them in the ass? Think about how precious the time we have with our loved ones is, and ensure that you never take that for granted.

703 to go...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Unbreakable Chains

Day 26. Unbreakable Chains...

Talking about our dreams makes me remember those we include in them. We've talked before about how people and events are drawn into our lives by our own choosing. This would be especially true for those we share our dreams with.

From Illusions: The bond of true family is not one of blood, but but of respect and joy in each other's life.

Looking at that quote, it seems pretty simple. Family is more than blood. Life makes it a lot more complicated sometimes, but it does come down to just that. I think children can teach us a lot about this.

Monday's decision by the Supreme Court to not hear cases this session regarding several States decisions to not allow gay marriage is what got me thinking about all this. The decision means that States that had their decisions overturned by the District Courts now have a reverse ruling and such marriages will be allowed. I wrote in a discussion on Facebook that I really don't have a horse in this fight, but would comment anyway.

I personally don't have much of an opinion on the subject: oddly it's one of few things I don't get hyped up about. What consenting adults do in their free time is up to them. I know the biblical arguments, I know the States rights issues, I've heard it from both sides. I prefer the Federal government stay out of everyone's bedroom... hell, out of the whole house but that ain't happening. If two adults think they have something that is enduring enough to commit to each other, let them have at it. God sorts it out in the end, I'm not wise enough to interfere in the meantime. What I do have an opinion on is the children.

I have a friend who's going through some hell right now. After over a decade in a relationship, and nearly five more after being married in California, it ended. Hey, relationships do that. Not the end of the world, people move on. Except for two little things. Two precious boys. She's now unable to see the twins she watched enter this world, that she nurtured and loved for three years. They're moments away right now, but she can't hug them. Can't read them a bedtime story. Can't tuck them in tonight. Because their birth parent is using two innocent boys as pawns. They don't deserve to have this happen to them, they have nothing to do with the adult situation.

I've only seen the boys once, when they were newborns. But I've watched them grow, through the pictures and stories my friend has shared. They are adorable, loving, hilarious little scamps. They love hugs and kisses. Right now, they're missing their Momma. Just like she's missing them. And there's not a damn thing she can do about it. Even the power of the highest court in the land can't fix this. Nothing can be done, it's beyond reach. Being nice after the breakup worked for a bit. Playing nice when that stopped working seemed to work for a bit. Now, it's a stone wall. Rejection at every turn.

One would think that she'd get discouraged. Eventually move past it, knowing there's no resolution waiting around the corner. I know that won't happen, she will never give up on seeing her boys. Because on both sides of that stone wall that has been set up between them, there's something stronger. That bond of true family. Unbreakable chains. Of love. Of laughter. They share respect. They share joy. Unbreakable chains.

Lesson Twenty Six: Do you have bonds with people you aren't genetically related to? Are you bonded with someone that you didn't grow up with, calling them brother or sister and meaning it?  Do you have step-siblings that you don't use the word "step" when introducing them? Think about the people you've drawn into your life, and realize that blood doesn't mean everything. Unbreakable chains.

704 to go...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Unfinished Business

Day 25...

All this talk about limitations and dreams got me to thinking about the things we thought we wanted to do but never did. Things we might've even forgotten about, from our youth. Stuff that seemed important at the time, but as life kicked in, we let it go.

I've mentioned I wanted to learn guitar FOR REAL this time. I piddled with it as a teen, having dated a guitar player for 6 years. I messed around learning again in my twenties, when I was writing songs. Now it's been 25 years or more, and I feel the need to finally do it. First thing I gotta do is buy a new one... I really don't remember what happened to my last one. Nothing expensive, but something sturdy. If I buy something cheap that breaks, I'll use that as a reason to stop. And I mean to learn this time, so no excuses.

I fulfilled a lot of the little things I wanted to do. I've been published. I've been recorded. I've sold a few photographs. I need to do more of all three. This blog is a kicking off point for me, to get me used to writing again on a daily basis. I've got some lyrics in my head for a new tune, the guitar will help tweak that for me. And I need to break out the camera again.

I still have quite a list to accomplish. I want to go skydiving again. I really loved that, but only went once. I want to start flying again. Might check out the little FBO at the airport here, see if they have a need for some paperwork shuffling in exchange for some ride-alongs. Not interesting in getting a pilot's license, but I love being in the air. Wonder if my pals at Richard Childress Aviation could hook me up in his helicopter? Those are my favorite.

I also want to start cooking for real again. I used to cater a bit, bridal showers and the like. LOVE making fancy little bits for special occasions. I don't do the decoration part, but I can seriously cook. I might have to practice on my work friends, and the family.

I need to work on my painting, and I miss working with charcoal. too. And needlework. And scrapbooking. I have plenty of supplies, but not much has been done with them.

All these things were important to me at one time or another. But as a parent, and a spouse, I had to prioritize. The things that fell the the ground back then? I can pick them up again now. I've only got me to look out for, well, and the animals. They don't care, as long as they have food and get to run around a bit. I'm going to try my damnedest to so things for ME now. Which means all of you get to endure it. And reap the rewards.

Lesson Twenty Five: Did you put things aside as your adult life got busy? Was there a hobby, or interest you stopped when your life got full of obligations? Think about the things that make YOU happy, and see if you can fit them back into your life.

705 to go...

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Day 24...

My sweet cousin asked after yesterday's post  "But what if we don't have any dreams?" That's a really good question. I had to think about it a lot. Overnight even. I didn't trust my gut reaction, so I had to dig deep. I'm going to write a bit of other nonsense first, then I'll let you know what I think is the answer.

I talked about how dreams change. When we are children, we dream of being firemen, ballerinas, doctors, football stars, supermodels. We dream these things because that's what we see. We as humans try and emulate the things we are most exposed to, to be like the people that surround us. Even the celebrities on television, we dream we are connected to them and want to be like them.

That's not always a good thing. In modern society, as often as not, the celebrities that kids worship (and yes, it's pretty much worship, not just admire) can be some of the worst influences for them.  Beyonce`, famous singer, claims herself a feminist, yet she tolerates an abusive relationship and makes millions exploiting herself as a sex toy. Mel Gibson, the actor, portrays characters with honor and respect on the big screen, yet captured in a drunk rant are his misogyny and bigotry. Ray Rice, football star, displays one set of talents on the football field and quite another when he's alone in an elevator.

Kids need better heroes. Someone like Dr. Ben Carson. He's a famous neurosurgeon now, because his mother inspired him to read and learn so he could rise above the ghetto he was born in. Someone like Walt Disney, who struck out on his own to be part of Hollywood and made his first cartoon in a back room he rented for $10 a month, using a backdrop made of scrap wood.

To the youth of America, people with lots of money seem to represent fulfilled dreams. I'd say those people are more likely than the rest of us to have unfinished business, since they don't have free time to pursue anything besides a career. And while a successful career gives you the money to fulfill other dreams that cost money, it doesn't challenge you to find your dreams the hard way. The good old-fashioned way of working for them.

I've said before that anything worth having is worth working for, by doing your best you'll achieve more than just the dream. You'll have the satisfaction of a job well done. I know that's the hard way, but it's the way most people reach their dreams. Sometimes you don't even realize that the things you're doing are actually completing dreams. It might just seem like you and your spouse are working all the time, never taking a break. Raising your kids, teaching them right. Watching them grow into good decent people. Saving up enough to buy your first real house. Having enough money in the bank to sleep well at night.

Now for the answer to my cousin's question. "But what if you don't have any dreams?" My first thought was "Then you've settled for what you've been given in life." Then I remembered who I was talking to, and realized something else. Maybe you don't have any dreams because you've gotten everything you really wanted.

Lesson Twenty Four: Are you satisfied with your life? Do you feel you have unfinished business, wanting to do things that you gave up on previously? Or do are you happy the way things are in your world, and wouldn't change a thing? Think about what goals you had for life, and you might find you're closer to them than you realized.

706 to go...

Saturday, October 4, 2014


Day 23...

We can't talk about limitations and not mention possibilities. They are limitless.

We start life as a blank slate. We can become anything we set our minds to be. We are all given the same opportunities, the same chances. We are created equal. The prejudices, barriers, and limitations: we set those ourselves. Or at the very least allow others to set them for us. Which is a bad idea. Don't even let anyone choose your dreams.

When I was a kid, I had dreams. Lots of them got squashed by a craptastic childhood, but I never stopped dreaming. I just started picking other dreams. I grew up wanting to be a lawyer. I like research, digging into things to find all the details. I figured I'd be good at it. I had spent my life around people who did a LOT of arguing and was still standing, so I could be a professional arguer. That didn't happen, but I did manage to find jobs that interested my need to investigate things, to research the tiny parts of the job. That keeps it interesting.

As I got older, I changed more dreams. I wanted to be a totally free spirit, travel the world. I'd stop and work somewhere for a few months, to earn more travel money. Then off I'd be again. Seeing things, meeting people, living the free life. That didn't exactly happen either, with starting a family and settling down being a more important thing. I did manage to see a lot of the US and a few other spots because of my work, and I still plan to do more traveling in the future. Just not by hitchhiking.

Now I have new dreams. Simpler ones, I think. I dream of things I want to do around the house. Finishing the decks. Then screening in the back one that overlooks the woods down to the creek. Having friends and family over for food. That's something I did a lot a long time ago, and I now realize how much I miss that.

I still dream of traveling. I have race friends I want to see again, in PA, TN, OK and MS. I want to visit them and drink a toast to Dave and Mark. I want to visit new tracks and meet new people like my brother Russ in KS (remind me to tell you how I have a brother in KS that I've never met.) I've made a ton of new friends thanks to Facebook. Political allies need to meet and have a drink so we can discuss solving the problems of the world face to face. The shrewsisters, yes we will all meet in person before this life is over. Those will be EPIC.

I won't say I don't dream of love. I've had love. I still do. I've found my perspective on love has changed. I thought I used to know what a soul mate was, but I didn't. I think I do now, and I'm hoping I choose more wisely next time.

Yes, you do get to choose your soul mate. You thought you just magically came together in a flash of light? Nah. You have to work for that, too. Nothings easy in this life, or the next. That whole line about "kissing a lot of frogs before you find your prince" isn't that untrue. Magic happens, but it's sometimes fleeting. Nothing lasts forever, right? Maybe. I'm not real sure about all that still. I just know you never ever stop looking for love. You find it wherever you can. Just don't mistake something else for love. Companionship, security, lust... all those seem like love at certain times, but that's just a test for you.

Oops, almost forgot another one. I want to learn the guitar. Again. I halfway took it up as a teen, then got away from it. I think it'll help my songwriting.

All these things I've talked about, they're just the possibilities I've thought about. There are lots more out there: the world is wide open for each of us. We just have to find the courage to take control of what we were given at birth and make it happen for us. No fear. No limitations. ALL IN.

Lesson Twenty Three: Are there dreams you gave up on? Why? Do you still think about them, and couldn't you still pick them now? What's stopping you? Think about your life and the dreams you have for it. And go make them happen.

707 to go...

Friday, October 3, 2014


Day 22... yeah, titles seem to matter. BOOBS got triple views , so I'm trying some clickbait...

Following up on yesterday's discussion on limitations... from Illusions: Argue your limitations and sure enough, they're yours.

Recent events in DC regarding the Secret Service's failures to properly protect the First Family have resulted in the resignation of the female head of the SS. A resignation which wasn't asked for earlier in the day, when the Administration supported her fully, but was readily accepted during the same business day.

I've read a few reports that she was "unfairly" harangued and was forced to walk off the "glass cliff." I suspect it's a reference to Hillary Clinton's famous "glass ceiling" comment from a few years ago. You know, how women still have to struggle to achieve anything. The glass cliff was referenced to describe how women are hired to fix things they had no blame in ruining, and then are forced out when things don't get better soon enough. An example was Carly Fiorina at HP.

She wasn't quite a failure, if I recall correctly. And she was quite successful before and after HP. Plus they are a corporation, that makes things. Not quite the same as providing security protection for the leader of the free world (damn, that hurts to say even after six years.) Whoever was in the position failed, it just happened to be her.

I truly don't think women are the oppressed beings some would have us think. There's lots of successful women, ones that work hard and make their own way. Not existing on government support or handouts, which The Life of Julia ads from 2012 would have us think are the way women should lead their lives. On the dole, without a spouse, taxpayer-funded education and housing. Sure sounds like a recipe for success, right?

I believe anyone can do anything. They just have to want it bad enough. Half-assed efforts don't get you anywhere. You want a better job, you probably need more education and then some experience. You want a bigger house, newer car? You have to find that better job instead of working at Mickey D's for minimum wage for eight years. Who does that and thinks they'll ever realize their dreams?

Argue your limitations. Convince yourself that as a woman you can never be a CEO. You can never run your own small business. You will never have that new car you want. Sure enough, you'll never have any of them.

Same goes for men, minorities, etc. Think you're stuck in a dead end job or marriage? There you'll be. Think you have marks against you because of your skin color or sexual preference? You do if you allow it.

Lesson Twenty Two: Do you accept the idea that we can never rise above certain levels because of barriers placed on us because of our sex, ethnicity, etc? Have you ever just went along with things because you thought you couldn't change things? Think about your own goals, and how much easier they'll be to reach if you don't give them up so easily. ALL IN.

708 to go...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Day 21

Day 21...

Lucky 21, eh? I'm not much of a believer in luck, chance, astrology, etc. I think you make your own way through life, even if God has predetermined the days you have until you are called Home.

Lots of people are big on astrology. I'm not quite sure of it, since it apparently has some flaws from what I see. Pretty sure I'm not the shy, quiet and practical Capricorn. Not a wallflower, not the one standing near the exit at a party waiting for it to end. Maybe a strange moon in mid-January 1962, since my identical birthday twin is comedian Jim Carrey, he breaks that stereotype as well.

Numerology? As much as I love numbers, I can't get into that either. Not even to spend a buck on a lottery ticket. I'll keep my dollar. I do know someone who won like two million bucks in the NH state lottery back in the 90's, but never try and win it for myself. I've got craptastic luck so I'll not waste my time or money.

Not much of a gambler either. Played a lot of poker in the 90's for Red Dog beer bottle caps, which was about all I could afford to lose. Many a fun night with Tim and Myron, eating gourmet snacks I'd make for the four of us and playing poker until dawn. Or Myron's now ex-wife would send the kids across the street to tell him to come home. I don't do the casinos, I've been to Vegas but didn't gamble there either.

I prefer having a plan. What's that engineer slogan: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance? I'd go with that. Because even with the best of plans, things still go off the rails. Without one, I'd be doomed I say, doomed. Life still doesn't go according to my plan, but I find comfort in it. I have alternate plans B through R at least, for when they're needed. Those forks are much less painless when we give a little thought to the pain they'll cause, and try to minimize it.

It's often said that without bad luck, some of us would have no luck at all. I try and react to the bad luck as quickly as possible, make it go away quietly. I think that dealing with things right away and moving on to the next challenge lessens the blow.

From Illusions: You are never given a wish without being given the power to make it come true. You may have to work for it, however.

Pretty much wipes out the whole luck thing. Nothing is ever free in this life (or the next), so you have to earn everything you get. Which, to an advanced soul, also means that you have earned the bad things as well. It's all a test, remember? 

Lesson Twenty One: Do you believe that we make our own luck, or what will be, will be? Have you had something happen to you that cannot be explained except by dumb luck? Did you ever read your horoscope and find you could make the events of the day fit inside the words? Can you remember a time that things went bad and you took another path, just knowing things would be better eventually? Think about how your decisions and your reactions really affected the outcome more than you realized.

709 to go...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 20

Day 20

Gee, I wonder if the title of my extra post last night got the extra attention or what??? you people are so easy.... Back to learning about... life, I guess it is we're learning about. Technically I could count the BOOBS post as a lesson, as it's something I believe in strongly. But I'll just start fresh today, using that as a starting point.

From Illusions: Argue your limitations and soon enough, they're yours. By using adjectives, subscriptions, etc. to describe each other or groups of people, we unknowingly define them. We limit them to the expectations of our statement.

Hillary Clinton (spit) and her "glass ceiling" line... not one of the greatest moments in feminist history, in my opinion. She basically said that women have been held back since the beginning of time and finally have a chance to "break through." Really? Hsn't the opportunity always been there for women to succeed? She might've climbed higher towards the goal she was after, but what stopped anyone from trying before her? Did they accept their limitations by saying "oh, I can't do it, it's never been done before"?

I'm actually not a big fan of "firsts." Someone always has to define the person accomplishing something as "the first Latino" or "the first Harvard graduate"... so? Why can't we just say "the first person to swim the English channel" and stop there? does it really matter so much to accomplish something that we must have a "first" for every category? "First white woman from Lexington to write a silly blog"... yeah, that's me. Woohoo, I'm so proud. Please.

I believe people do this because they can't just be proud someone accomplished something, but think the person needs to be given some special recognition since they weren't "first". Even if the attention is unwanted. So rarely do we see anyone step up and say "I'm just glad I was able to finish the challenge, it doesn't matter that I'm black/female/handicapped." We should celebrate all achievements equally. Dividing us into catergories only makes us weaker.

Lesson 20: Are you proud of your accomplishments? Do you celebrate them quietly, not caring that the world notices? Have you ever given up on something because you didn't think it was possible because of your age, your sex? Do you regret not trying things that you were told weren't achieveable? Think about what you've missed by allowing your own limitations to define you. Don't let it happen again, please.

710 to go...