Thursday, March 31, 2011

Challenge #22: Hope is Everywhere

"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit
of that which is elusive but attainable,
a perpetual series of occasions for hope."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Challenge #21 - No Such Thing as Luck

"Life is a journey.
Luck comes only to those who have planned carefully for it."

Let's think about these words, shall we?  The first sentence is pretty apparent.  Life is a journey, a trip.

When we set out on a road trip, we can't just get inside a car, put it on cruise control, and expect to get to our desired destination.  We have to take the responsibility to map out the route we want to take, we can expect that we'll take a wrong turn or two, we'll have to allow for time to get out and stretch once in awhile, and we certainly don't want to drive if we're overly tired or under any negative influence.  We have to be on the lookout for all sorts of possible hazards, obey the rules of the road, and it's incredibly important that we respect the other drivers who are sharing the roadway with us.  It's wise to be on the defensive and not allow ourselves be distracted.  We have to discipline ourselves to be cautious and courteous in our meetings and our passing.  We have to stay on our own side of the road....within our boundaries.....if we want to keep the traffic moving safely.

When we look at a journey in this light, the second sentence of that quotation also becomes very apparent.  We have to do some pretty good life planning in order for our 'luck' to happen.  If we constantly take wrong turns, we aren't going to find much 'luck' anywhere we go.  Common sense means a lot if we are going to ever experience anything remotely close to luck.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Challenge #20: Accumulations

Television programming is alerting mainstream America to some rather distressing household situations that can/may exist close to our own homes.  Who is familiar with "Buried Alive....Hoarding?" 

The first time I watched the show I was appalled.  Who on god's green earth could live in a home with stuff piled practically to the ceiling?  rodents and their feces laying among crumbs of food that are never swept away?  rooms of furniture hidden by boxes of junk?  not even a path to walk from room to room. They walk on top of the stuff.  As disturbing as it sounds, this is the way some people choose to live.

Psychologists come to these homes to assist the hoarders, starting by throwing just one item away.  A hoarder will not want to part with one single item, even something as ridiculous as a crumpled up paper sack.  It's difficult to understand why they do this, but there is always an underlying psychological reason.  Somewhere along the line they lived through a traumatic event that left them feeling a despair that one cannot possibly imagine.  They feel that all they have in this world are the things around them, keeping them safe and secure.  Eventually their homes become unlivable.

My focus, at this stage of my life, is to get rid of as much stuff as possible.  Just like today, we sorted through our clothes and chose a box of shirts and slacks that we haven't worn in the past year (the criteria for throwing something away).  While we were doing this, I couldn't help but think of this hoarding problem.  It must be an awful way to live.  Hoarders themselves say that they feel like they are buried alive, yet it's painful for them to part with any of it.

The big problem in the U.S. is that all of us have too much.  Life has been so good that we have continued accumulating one thing after another until suddenly the piles have taken on lives of their own.  Garage sales are one reason that the two of us have more stuff than we need.  When we're out for one of our daily jaunts, there's nothing more fun than stopping at a garage sale, paying a few pennies for something I'd like to have.  Usually, it doesn't take a diamond to entice me to buy.  My head is always stirring with ideas of making something new out of something old.  I'm pretty sure this is a curse and not a blessing.

It's a good thing that we have outlet stores that sell our stuff and then contribute the profits to good causes.  For me, that's consolation enough for giving our stuff away to them.  More than likely we could make a few dollars if we would have a garage sale of our own, but, hey, we have more fun things to do in our retirement.  In the past, I've had the urge to simply put up a sign in front of our house that says, "Come in, take what you want, it's all free." 

Then I think back to my Gramma.  She had so little, but appreciated all of it.  If my Gramma is looking down on me, I hope she knows how much I love her still.....she died when I was 12, but she walks with me every day of my life.  No other woman has influenced me like she did.

We need to all take a good look at those who have influenced us.  The humblest example has a hot-iron strength to sear a brand onto us that never goes away.  It would be a good mental exercise to examine our strong points and then identify the person who influenced that strong point.  One life touches another, whether we realize it or not.

My heart goes out to those who hoard in order to feel secure.  That must be a terrible affliction.  The lesson I learn from this is that I'd best put the skids on myself when it comes to accumulating things and get better at letting go of things.

The less the mess.....the less the stress.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Challenge #19 - Respect for All Life

I spend probably more time reading and studying than I should.  Within me lives a starving appetite that demands answers to the mysteries we humans don't understand.  I've been told more than once in my life, mostly by my dear mother, that I shouldn't 'think' so much.  Well, for me, that's not so easy to do.  It's feels like an untamed horse that just wants to run free, at high speeds, going places its never been before.

One of my brain's favorite places to visit is the Smithsonian.  It is one of the websites that has the power to bridle my mental energies while I'm right here in my own home stall. 

The Earth, and all of its components, are one miracle after another.  I've said it many times before that Mother Nature is perhaps closer to me than any other deity.  My heart hurts when the Earth hurts, if that makes any sense.  When I see wildlife cover being ripped out, when I see entire timbers torn down and plowed into farmland, or when I see our rivers being polluted by factories......well, all of this raises some pretty dire thoughts in my head.  Where are we headed?  Will there come a time when people will only read about a tree or a pheasant or a fish and not know what they actually look like? will our soil actually be soil, or will it turn into some kind of chemical landscape?

This morning's news is finally revealing that Japan's soil and water his highly contaminated with high radiation levels.  This is nuclear stuff, people, and yet their government has been down-playing this catastrophe like someone accidentally spilled a gallon of milk on the floor.  C'mon, world, let's see this for what it is.  Very deep horse pucky.

Some days I wonder if it's my age that causes me to feel like our world is going to hell, or if it's because the media does such a masterful job of dumping it all into our livingrooms?  Has the world always been in this degree of unrest?  Probably not to this extent, because aren't we at a juncture in history that hasn't been visited before? 

Instead of allowing myself to get riled and swallowed up in anxious fears, I tend to stick my head in places where I can learn about the way our Earth came to be, and I feast on the countless wonders that make up our world.  If I allow myself to think about the birds and fish that suffer and die because of the man-made oil spills, well, I think I'd probably loose my caboose.

One of my favorite online haunts is The Dynamic Earth at  I can amuse myself for hours, steering my mouse and pressing computer keys to drive me deeper and deeper into the bowels of our immense universe.  My love for the earth, the animals, and plants comes from some Supreme Source, and I try to figure out where and what that Source is like.  I'm not one who buys into the Big Guy sitting on a golden throne in a gated community.......I'm kinda sure it's a whole lot bigger and better than that.

We have two trees in our yard that are slowly dying and need to be taken down.  One is in front of our front window and the other is outside our kitchen window.   We've put this off now for two years, but we both agree that old age is taking them down, not us.  It's time to plant new.  Man's arrogance has us convinced that we have dominion over everything and can use and abuse, but I have a different way of interpreting those biblical words.  Perhaps having dominion over something means that we have a responsibility to care for rather than mistreat.

When our two nephews were about two and four years old, they were at our house the day we planted two little evergreen trees in our back yard.  We have pictures of them playing with the garden hose as their uncle watered the newly planted trees.  That was some thirty years ago, and now both the boys and the trees are all grown up and taller than we are.

We all grow side-by-side with the plant and animal kingdoms.  I pray that we humans reverently interpret our place on the planet as being one of co-existence, and not one of domination and destruction.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Challenge #18: What's Really Important?

A few years ago at the local Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally challenged, assembled at the starting line for the beginning of the 100-yard dash.  At the starter's gun they all started out, though not exactly in a dash, but with the relish to run the race to the finish and win.

All, that is, except one boy who stumbled on the track, he tumbled a few times and began to cry.  The other eight heard the boy's cry; they slowed down and paused confused.  Then, as if on a secret cue, they all turned around and went back to the fallen runner, every one of them.  One girl with Down Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better."  Then all nine got up, held hands and walked together to the finish line.

Everyone in the stadium stood, and cheered for ten minutes.

(Source unknown)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Challenge #17: It's Okay to be Different

Yesterday we went for an afternoon countryside cruise.  I knew my husband's watchful eyes had discovered something out of the ordinary when he slowed down to turn our vehicle around.  He walked down a small knoll so he could get a closer look at, and take a picture of, this unusual tree.

One can't help but wonder what might have caused a tree to grow like this.  Poor little thing seems to have struggled from little on to keep up with the other trees.  Then at some point, something caused it to give up its fight, leaving its growth to plummet downward.  My next question is.....what intervened in the growth process?  what caused it to turn itself around?  

This little tree is trying to tell us that life is worth the fight.  When our spirits get pushed downward to the point of giving up, there is a strength that comes from god only knows where, takes us by the ear, out "to the woodshed," and puts us back in the game.

Mother Nature has unparalleled ways of inspiring us, doesn't she?  I'm sure this tree feels bad that it doesn't look like all the other trees in the timber.  Yet, its odd shape is what makes it the most powerful tree of them all.  Its mere presence can make a grown man stop in his tracks to take that second look and learn a profound lesson from what he sees.

Amazing.  Truly amazing.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Challenge #16 - Write a Poem

The Washington Post held a poetry contest asking people to submit a 2-line rhyme with the most romantic first line and the least romantic second line.  Here are some of the entries that were submitted:

My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
Marrying you has screwed up my life.

I see your face when I am dreaming.
That's why I always wake up screaming.

Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;
This describes everything you are not.

I thought that I could love no other
--that is until I met your brother.

Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.
But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty
and so is your head.

I want to feel your sweet embrace;
But don't take that paper bag off your face.

I love your smile, your face, and your eyes.
Damn, I'm  good at telling lies!

My love, you take my breath away.
What have you stepped in to smell this way?

What inspired this amorous rhyme?
Two parts vodka, one part lime.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Challenge #15 - Saucy Humor

My mother-in-law used to make a cranberry cake dessert served with a hot butter sauce.  I remember how my pants would feel tighter just by looking at it! 

As my fingers type today's blog, the saliva is building up inside my mouth as I think about how absolutely deliciously delicious that cake was.  She would cut the cake into generous pieces and pass each one of us a piece.  That was followed by a fancy pitcher of the hot buttery sauce so we could put on as much or as little as we wanted.  Omigod.  The cake itself was good, but it was the sauce that took it over the top.

If we compare life to that dessert, the cake would be daily life with its routine responsibilities.  But, what would constitute that ooey-gooey sauce? 

For me, it would have to be humor, laughter, teasing, and just plain silliness all mixed into one.  Individuals who are intensely serious about everything probably wouldn't choose to be around me for very long.  I figure if I want to spend my life looking at life from the crappy side, then I'll go stick my head in the toilet!

Our fuzzy one even has a sense of humor.  She plays tricks on us all the time.  Some of them are sweet and some are a little bit too sassy.  But, it's that teasing temperament that has nailed her so deeply into our hearts.  What's the old saying, "We don't tease people we don't like."

My husband is an accomplished jokester, and I never know when the imp in him will strike.  He's developed a finesse about his teasing me.  I can be in the lousiest mood, and he knows just how to defeat one of my good pouts and turn my scowling face into a giggling one.  Really pisses me off.

So it is that the sauce of our days is the humor that we share between the two us and with our friends.  I'm fairly sure that nothing feels better for all of us than a good old belly laugh accompanied by streams of happy tears.  Even animals have ways of showing us that they know how to have the fuzzy ones who wag their tails.  Guess it really doesn't matter which end the signs of happiness come from......just so long as they continue pouring down over our days like my mother-in-law's hot butter sauce!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Challenge #14 - Spotlight Syndrome

It's human nature, I think, for us to be more worried about what others think of us than what we think of ourselves.  I call that the Spotlight Syndrome.

We put the spotlight only on ourselves.  We worry about what we're wearing, if our hair looks a mess, and, of course, the real kicker.....if we're too fat or too skinny.  Our inner critic (that voice that talks to us) is a wicked dictator, whose main job it is to waste our time worrying about how we look.

Why is it that we seek that validating approval from others?  Why is it important to us that we dress according to the person we're pretending to be?  Why do we judge others just so we can feel better about ourselves?  Sometimes we even make important life decisions just to keep other people happy. 

One sad part of this Spotlight Syndrome is that we find ourselves always looking to some one or some thing  to boost our positive feelings of self.  The other sad part is the fact that while we think that others truly care how we present ourselves, well, they really don't because they're too busy focusing on how they look.

Our self-worth should not be subject to change depending on who we are spending time with and what they say to us.  Bookstores have entire sections designated for self-help books.  I know, because I've browsed, bought and busied myself with a gazillion of them throughout the years.  It's always been a struggle for me to feel good about myself.  It's always been easy for me to feel that others appear to have everything better than me and probably didn't have to work as hard as I did in order to get it. 

Thank heaven that along with aging comes a fading need for approval.  We sort of wake up to the fact that humanity is basically a cage full of nutzoids and we simply have our own place among them. 

We need to set for ourselves a "base line of personal acceptance."  What makes us comfortable, yet socially acceptable.  Find a wash-and-go hairstyle that requires no fuss.  Simplify the identity process so we can slide into old-age without the frickin' hassles that we fought with while we were young.  We have to say to ourselves, "okay, from now on this is going to be my new appearance, my new look.  Take it or leave it."  If we prefer loose clothing over tight-fitting, hey, go for it.  If we feel better in tennies or crocs, then let's wear them.  If we girls wear less make-up most of the time, then it's not such a big deal if some days we're seen out in public without make-up.  I know a lady who is in her 90s, has always worn gobs of makeup, and absolutely will not step out of her house or allow anyone to see her if she doesn't have her makeup on.  Tell me, is that nuts, or what! 

Getting comfy in our own skin and in our new life situations is probably the biggest asset for giving us real happiness.  No matter how hard we try to go find happiness, we will be disappointed.  Happiness isn't 'out there.'  Happiness is inside our heads and our hearts.  Time is going by at jet speed, and we'd be well advised to use our time wisely, turn off that darned old spotlight, assassinate the dictator and time-waster within, and live this very moment.

"The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle, which is exactly what it is:  a miracle and unrepeatable."  -Storm Jameson

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Challenge #13 - Accepting Change

Holy Shmuck!  All my life I've worked hard to become a wordsmith, but am now finding myself inundated with new words with new meanings. 

The latest such word is "racino."  Maybe I'm living in a tuna can, but until last evening I had never seen that word written or heard it spoken.  Naturally, I headed directly to my local dictionary, which tells me that a racino is a combination of a racetrack and a casino.

The Internet is literally smothering us with new terminology, most of which is complete Swahili to the baby boomer.  I can't help but wonder how my daddy would respond to my asking him if I could use my mouse to get on Zoosk to find me a boyfriend!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Challenge #12: Spring's Renewing Power

The creek that runs through our back yard is rising.  Our back lawn is filling up with rising waters from the spring thaw.  Yesterday morning we woke up to thunder, lightning, and rain falling against the windows.  I looked outside and saw rain drops splashing into water puddles.  Robins were hopping around everywhere.  A whole busload of them must've arrived this last weekend.  In the spring, we always watch for three kinds of birds to return....the robins, the meadowlarks, and red-winged blackbirds.  I'm happy to say we've now seen all three.

Mother Earth is renewing herself.  What a truly incredible invitation we all have to attend her annual spring style show as she flounces out with fields of green and adorns herself with clusters of pastels.

As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "If spring came but once a century instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change!" 


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Challenge #11 - Three Bones

A question to ponder:

Am I a wishbone?

     ......a jawbone?

               ......or a backbone?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Challenge #10 - Donate Goodness

Bad things are happening in the world right now......"badder" than usual. 

The first thing I do each morning is check world news.....ever since 9-11, I fear waking up to some terrorist attack or some other god-awful occurrence on our planet.  This morning's Yahoo news showed 111 pictures to arrow of the victims of the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster.  Can it get worse than that?

One little girl was using her dog's stomach for a pillow, while sleeping on a gymnasium floor shelter.  The victims are working hard to maintain some semblance of normalcy, by doing physical exercises, doing laundry and hanging it over gymnasium seats and rails to dry, children are playing card games on the floor.....all the while outside the gymnasium walls there is nuclear radiation seeping its way into everything. 

After arrowing through all 111 pictures, I feel the urge to stick my fist into any mouth here in the U.S. that has the audacity to complain about anything.  Religions can tell us about a waiting hell when we die, but I'm thoroughly convinced that death isn't necessary for us to get a glimpse of hell. 

I heard myself say out loud this morning, "How could a good god let this happen?"  Yet, there are pictures of Japanese victims with their hands folded and heads bent in solemn prayer.  They still believe.  They still feel that there is a Greater Force that will help them.  No matter how bad things get, no matter how lost and alone we are, no matter how deep into despair we fall, there is that innate strength inside us that points toward a magnetic North.  That North being our Source of Life.

We here in the United States want to help these people, yet we can't be guaranteed that our money will ever reach them.  How sad.  I personally wish there would be a way for me to help one person, or one animal, one-on-one.  Even prayer seems so insignificant in comparison to the size of this mess.

Will the Japanese victims ever really know how sad and full of sorrow we are?  What can we do?  Maybe the best thing is for us to donate good deeds to those living next to us.  Maybe, just maybe, that will cause a tsunami of its own kind and keep flooding goodness around the world.  If each of us would do one really nice thing for someone else today, and that person would pass it on to another, and that keep going and going, then our one good deed could make a huge difference and eventually reach those people lying homeless on gymnasium floors. 

Rarely a day goes by that I'm not thankful that I'm the age that I am.  The world that I knew when I was a little girl is gone.  So are the morals and the work ethic that was literally drilled into us from little on.  We all pitched in to make our family life work.  Chores were assigned according to our age, and our responsibility slowly grew to where we could manage an adult load.  That felt good.  We did as we were told, we earned a less than reasonable wage when we entered the workforce, but we were told if we start at the bottom we'd have somewhere to go.  It maybe wasn't easy, but it darned well taught us that we are here to give to the world, not take until all its resources are used up.

Let's all try to take time to look up at the moon tonight.  Astronomers are calling it the "supermoon."  It will be closer to the earth than it has been in 18 years.  Spiritually sentimental sallies like myself are quick to grasp hold of these ethereal signs.....deciphering their presence as reassurances that Someone really is keeping a close eye on what's going on down here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Challenge #9 - Life Goes On With or Without Us

No matter what happens,
or how bad it seems today,
life does go on,
 and it will be better tomorrow.
Or not.
But then there's always the day after tomorrow.
Or not.
(Source unknown)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Challenge #8 - Companionship

For the second day in a row, I'm seeing darkness through the window as I sip my first cup of joe.  Today it wasn't a paw that woke me, but rather my husband's voice. 

One of the great gifts of retirement is companionship.  All the fussy stuff in our 43-year relationship has long ago morphed into a new butterfly, so to say, and now the result is each of us having a best buddy.  This morning my matie is having his first appointment of several for extensive dental work, and I will pilot our vehicle so he can lay his head back and rest on the way back home.  How well I remember over the years how he devotedly dropped everything at work to take me to emergency dental appointments.  Now it's my turn to show him how good that felt.

It's easy to forget about the buddies in our lives, or maybe we take them for granted.  For me, buddies are the ones that we call on for help or turn to when we want to have some fun.  Buddies are there for us in stormy weather and sunny weather.  They're caring, considerate, and we feel comfortable having them see us when we're not in tip-top condition.  It's that comfort level that makes them a buddy.

I remember well my working days when I'd come home frustrated, overwhelmed, tired, and just plain in a pissy mood.  Despite the workplace's attempt to devour me, I always had a safety net waiting for me, willing to reassure me or simply set my perspective straight.

My fortune is big, because in my home I have two buddies.  The fuzzy one qualifies with high honors, because, as we joke, she's gonna have to be surgically removed from me one of these days.  I've said to my husband many times that the fuzzy one feels our pains, our heartaches, tears and giggles.  She's tuned in to the Buddy Channel just like we are.  When her daddy is gone for awhile, she sadly lays on the floor with her head pointed to the door that he left out of.  Her tail tends to be still until she hears the car door slam, and then it starts to whip back and forth with tornado-wind strength.  The tail tells all.

In the back of both of our minds is the fear of being left alone.....without that buddy to rely on.  But, rather than dwell on future loneliness, we zero in on the moment.  Even today as we head for oral surgery, we're gonna tease each other, look around at the countryside, we'll toss out our solutions to all the big world problems, and breathe in the refreshing 60 degree weather that is in our forecast.  I'll bring my matie home and make him sit still for awhile.  His mouth will be sore, but I'll take care of that, too.

Mother would be so proud of me...... I've gotten quite good at making jello!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Challenge #7 - Be Careful

Making coffee at 6 a.m. isn't my idea, but the fuzzy one had urgent business to tend to and so the two of us came downstairs and stayed downstairs.  It's dark outside as I type this, and silence is everywhere.  The paper boy must have left off our morning paper, cuz the fuzzy one let out one of her warning barks.  She alerts me to anything and everything.  Little sweetheart wants to protect her mama.  She has no conception whatsoever of size.

My Lenten challenge to come up with 40 inspirational blogs is proving to be just that.....a challenge.  I find myself looking for ideas.  Yesterday we ate Chinese for lunch, and when the waitress left the bill and two fortune cookies on our table, a light bulb went on.  Aha!  Here might be an inspiration for me to write about.

I broke open the cookie, and my fortune read, "Be careful.  Straight trees can have crooked roots."

My radar is turned on high all of the time anyway, so I am quick to notice conflicting stories, over-exaggerations, and simple non-truths.  The devil's advocate in me never sleeps.

These last five days as I watch the CNN reporting of the potentially catastrophic situation in Japan, something in the back of my head tells me we're not getting the whole story.  When the big jugs are asked point blank how bad the situation is at the now-disabled six nuclear plants, they hem and haw and skirt around trying to think of words that will appease us, yet keep them off the hook.  Nobody is saying anything of real substance.  I just want to scream, "Will somebody just tell the world what the hell is going on over there?"

When I was a little girl, I remember my parents and grandparents talking about man destroying himself.  Is this what they were talking about?

How bad is the situation?  Can the winds over Japan push the radiation our way?   Should we be concerned about the nuclear plants in our own country?  Might we find ourselves in this same circumstance one of these days?  Are America's nuclear plants functioning on out-dated engineering?  Are we going to continue on with the idea of nuclear power?  Why are they telling the people that higher levels of radiation won't necessarily pose much of a danger to their health?  The people in Japan must be half nuts with the mounting fears and paralyzing grief.....and add on top of that the endless hours and days of waiting.

It just seems to me that if my inklings are right and we are actually being coddled with  highly calculated political stuttering, then my fortune was right.  We'd best be careful of the straight trees with crooked roots.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Challenge #6 - The 23rd Psalm

I've never been quite sure why the 23rd Psalm is reserved mainly for funerals.  The words of David chant praise for tremendous daily blessings.  Lent is the opportune time to meditate on these words and the be aware of the comfort they can give to us.

 It's good spiritual exercise to imagine life in biblical times when shepherds spent their days seeing to it that no harm came to the sheep.  David was a shepherd himself when he was young.  Perhaps that his why his words are written with such love and deep understanding of "being watched over and cared for."  We, too, need that feeling of security, especially now that natural disasters are threatening catastrophic happenings in Japan and other parts of the world. What better way to bring security into our lives than by renewing this beautiful prayer.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
(The Shepherd watches and cares for me, day and night, and I don't have to worry)

He made me to lie down in green pastures:
(Just like the sheep, I must take time to rest when I am tired)

He leads me beside the still waters.
(I am encouraged to drink the refreshing waters of peace and contentment)

He restores my soul:
(When my life slides backward, The Shepherd renews my faltering spirit)

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
(The Shepherd sees to it that I don't wander away from His watchful eye)

Yes, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
(When I do get lost in the deep ravines of life where I face darkness and fear)

I will fear no evil:
(I don't have to be scared)

For You are with me;
(The Shepherd holds my hand)

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(I feel protected from mean people and harmful situations)

You set a table before me in the presence of my enemies
(The Lord lays out before me a long table of provisions to help me through every situation)

You anoint my head with oil;
(The Shepherd chose me--He blesses and sustains me spiritually)

My cup runs over.
(I have far more than I need)

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the House of the Lord forever.
(Everything's gonna be okay)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Challenge #5 - The Five Finger Prayer

Little children need to know how to feel connected to the Source of all life.  Sooner or later, each of of them will hit invisible walls or get into troublesome situations that will bring them to their knees.  Life simply does that to all of us. 

Maybe I've mentioned this before in my blog, but to this day I can rattle off the night prayer that I prayed when I was a little girl.  Mom taught me how to pray to Goddie, and I prayed that He would take care of my mommy, daddy, my sibling, myself, gramma, grampa, my special cousins and my best friends.  My prayer would close by saying, "Mary with her loving Son, bless us each and every one."   

The Five Finger Way to Pray   
  1. Our thumb is nearest to us, so start by praying for those closest to us. 
  2. The next is the pointing finger.  Pray for those who impart knowledge, instruct and heal.  This includes teachers, doctors, priests and other church ministry.  They need support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction.
  3. The next finger is the tallest finger.  It reminds us of our leaders who stand tall among us.  Pray for the president, the vice-president, leaders in business and industry, and administrators.  These people shape our nation and guide public opinion. 
  4. The fourth finger is our ring finger.  This is our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will say.  It should remind us to pray for those who are weak, in trouble or in pain, and for those that cannot pray for themselves, such as our pets and other animals.  We cannot pray too much for this group.
  5. And lastly comes our little finger--the smallest finger of all which is where we should place ourselves in relation to Our Creator and others.  As the Bible says, "The least shall be the greatest among you."  The pinkie reminds us to pray for ourselves.  By the time we have prayed for the other four groups, our own needs will be put into proper perspective and we will be able to pray for ourselves more effectively.
(Source unknown)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Challenge #4 - Letting Go

The hardest thing I've ever had to do in my life was let go of my only sibling......someone that I truly adored.  Others got in between us, and finally one day I said to myself, "no more."  Closing that door took amazing guts on my part, and the letting go hurts like what I'd imagine cancer of the heart to hurt like.
It would be pointless for me to try to write my feelings about the subject of "letting go" when some other writer has beaten me to it.....and quite eloquently, I might add.  This writing is good stuff and needs to be trumpeted in case someone needs the reassurance that it's okay to let go of a difficult relationship or situation.

Letting go, for me, was a way to disconnect myself and allow peace to fill the canyons of difference.


To let go does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off,
it is the realization I can't control another.

To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
it is to make the most of myself.

To let go is not to care for,
but to care about.

To let go is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their destinies.

To let go is not to be protective,
it is to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny,
but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anybody,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to fear less,
and love more.

-Author Unknown

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Challenge #3 - Care

During tonight's dark hours, the time will change.  Well, time really won't change, but our response to time will. How silly, really.  We've come up with a way to spring forward and fall backward, just so we can stay outside and play for an extra hour.

Despite our crafty manipulations, once in awhile we get an abrupt reminder that Our Creator is actually the One standing guard over the Universe and is calling the shots.  Japan is a perfect example.  Two days ago their nuclear power plants were functioning fine, and this morning the situation's potential is more than dire.  Two days ago their country flourished.  Today it is devastated. 

Fear can't help but seep into our heads and hearts as we watch the horrors unfold on our planet.  After all, no matter how much we like to separate ourselves into little categories, we are still humans......all one big family.  Our typical lives are unique according to the societal divisions and locations, but we still have the same bodily functions, needs, and feelings.  Compassion stirs me to intense sadness, and I wish there was some hands-on way to help, other than donate the dollar.

If we in America feel helpless in not being able to lend the Japanese our assistance, just imagine how helpless the living victims there must feel.  They've been stripped of their personal lives, families, homes, pets, possessions...everything except their next breath....which is ultimately all any of us really have.

My #3 inspirational effort for Lent will be to take a good look at ways I can show others that I care about them and honestly wish their life to be the best it can be.  How can I be thoughtful and respectful.  I try to imagine the Universal Force of Goodness being a great big ball.  Every time we treat the person (or creature) next to us with the respect they deserve, the ball gets bigger and our world gets better.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Challenge #2 - Pray

How can one not be in a somber mood today when thousands of people have been ravaged by an earthquake and tsuanami in the Pacific Ocean.

If prayer has power, then I guess it's our responsibility to pray.  A few minutes ago I closed my eyes and tried to imagine what it would be like to be swept away with no forewarning, be slammed around like a piece of rubble, and be left alone to die.  The suffering is beyond human understanding.

"My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word."  (Psalm 119:28)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Challenge #1 - Achievements

What qualifies as an achievement?

  • Something completed successfully; goal reached, an accomplishment
  • Obtaining or receiving (acquisition is a material possession, while an acquirement is a personal skill or knowledge that one gains)
  • Something done, an act or deed
  • An actuality, something that truly exists, is real, the essence, the core of our being
  • A creation, an invention 
  • A carrying out of a responsibility, a performance
  • An effort, work, or exertion, a struggle, an undertaking, a discipline
  • An improvement, making headway, growing or advancing
  • An art, a calling, trade, handiwork
  • A longing, a dream, endurance
  • Something produced, a gain
  • Satisfaction, giving or enjoying a state of comfort, content
  • Track record, a performance history
  • Realization, coming to understand, awareness
  • Stopping point, retirement, pay-off, discontinuance, closure.
I've decided to use Achievement as my #1 exercise for my inspirational Lenten challenge.  My first assignment is to write down (in my trusty spiral notebook) my personal achievements, starting when I was a little girl up to where I am in life now.  I'm not going to try to write them down in any order, but simply as they come to mind.  This will be a work in progress the next 40 days, so I'm not going to get all crazy with it and try to finish it in one day.

My accomplishments won't include stuff like reaching the top of Mt. Everest or swimming the English Channel, but they hold the same importance for me.  The first entry in my Achievement Notebook will be when I was first born.  According to my mother, my little legs and feet were turned seriously inward at birth, and it about broke my parents' hearts.  But, the gentle old doctor immediately taped both of my legs tightly from my toes to my butt, and six weeks later when he removed the tape, my legs and feet were perfectly straight.       

I'll be back tomorrow with Challenge #2.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

My 40-Day Challenge

The liturgical calendar marks today as Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.

Lent means something a whole lot different and deeper to me now than it did when I was a little girl.  Back then it meant giving up candy for forty days.  The whole idea was completely peer pressure for me, because my family didn't eat candy that much anyway.  So, I simply went along with the other kids, suffering the silly penance of no candy.

Life has been a parade of losses, so I don't really think Our Creator necessarily expects us to give up the things He graciously gave to us.  Maybe He would appreciate it more if we would organize our internal messes that can get us off-kilter and out of balance with one another.

This year my personal challenge is to devote my next 40 blogs to self-inspiration.  How can I take an honest look at the debris that is floating around in my head and heart, decide what should stay and what should be thrown away once and for all.  Then, hopefully when Easter Sunday arrives, I will have a renewed spirit, refreshed and ready to get on with Spring, Summer, and life in general.

Let the challenge begin......

Monday, March 07, 2011

Let's Make Nice

"Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight.  Extend to them all the care, kindness, and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.  Your life will never be the same again."  -Og Mandino

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Gold Violin

Yesterday a television commercial piqued my attention and led me to the website  Man alive, this website offers all kinds of amazing products to help those of us who are experiencing the health issues that come hand in hand with our golden years.  All of the Gold Violin products are guaranteed to be of high quality, and their catalog invites easy shopping by health condition.....
  • Arthritis
  • Back Pain Relief
  • Diabetes
  • Foot Care
  • Hearing
  • Incontinence
  • Joint & Muscle Relief
  • Memory Loss
  • Mobility
  • Plus Size
  • Poor Circulation
  • Rehab & Recovery
  • Sleep Aides
  • Vision
Or, by category.....
  • Books & Games
  • Clothing & Accessories
  • Home Furnishings
  • Home Safety
  • Lights
  • Medication Organizers
  • Mirrors
  • Other electronics
  • Phones
  • Pillows & Cushions
  • Readers & Magnifiers
  • Shoes & Slippers
  • Supports & Braces
  • Travel & Auto
  • Walking Sticks
  • Warmth & Comfort
  • Watches & Clocks
Sure doesn't seem that long ago that I was wearing pantyhose and strutting around the office in high heels.  I always liked the sexy sling-style shoes with the strap in the back.  Well, there's definitely been an earthquake somewhere, cuz now I'm more interested in low shoes with gripper bottoms and velcro ties.  As for wearing pantyhose.......well, I'm never again gonna have to worry about 'getting a run' cuz I ain't ever gonna wear 'em again.  Along the line somewhere I've managed to gradually amend my standards to fit my comfort zone, and there's no doubt that these new standards fit me better than they ever did. 

"Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life--it gave  It provided the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life...I not only get along with me most of the time now, I am militantly and maternally on my own side."  -Anne Lamott 

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Typical Saturday At Our House

We like Saturdays.  They're freebies.  We are free to do whatever we pressures, no expectations, no nothing.

Fridays are scurry days.  We scurry around cleaning house and doing other household chores, so our slate is clean for Saturday.

Saturday's t.v. is geared toward the guys, so our remote control pretty much stays tightly clutched in the hubby's hands.  Woodworking, fishing, golfing,  NASCAR racing, those sorts of programming.  The past 43 years have transformed me into halfway appreciating these shows, although when I was younger they drove me nuts.  Now, I simply snuggle down with my blankie and pillow on the couch with my fuzzy one, and the three of us watch Norm build furniture with all kinds of fancy saws and shop tools, we watch the golfers miss their putts, and the race cars going around and around and around and around and around in circles. 

Winter Saturdays are far more laid back than summer Saturdays.  In summer, men and women alike are out and about, mowing lawns, planting pretty flowers and weeding the gardens, going for leisurely walks around the block, jogging, and neighbors going from house to house to chat.  Winter keeps us cooped inside, but spring kicks our butts out into fresh air and forces us to move around so our blood starts circulating again.

Right now I look forward to a nice winter afternoon, with the three of us nice and toasty and content in our little home.  One can only bow the head and bend the knee and thank Our Creator that we live in a peaceful place.  My prayers go out to those who live in daily terrors, fearing for their safety and fighting for a dignity that they can only dream about.

Sometimes I have to wonder why I have been so fortunate.

Friday, March 04, 2011

An Extra Step

The checkout lanes were full, and we were patiently waiting our turn in line.  In this particular chain store the checkers take each item out of the grocery cart before scanning them.  When it finally came our turn, the checker took out our three cartons of eggs, scanned them, and then courteously opened each carton to see if any of the eggs were broken. 

After we paid for our groceries, my husband made it a point to thank the lady for checking to see if the eggs were all intact.  We know from experience how frustrating it is to get home and find wet, sticky and leaking cardboard egg cartons.

Just goes to show how one step can go a long way toward promoting customer satisfaction. 

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Tuckamore and Krumholtz

Growing along the open coastlines of Newfoundland is a rare vegetation called the Tuckamore.  They are gnarled fir trees that lean away from the ocean because of the fierce, freezing ocean winds they sustain.  Depending which coastline one is on, this fir tree has a different name.  In eastern Canada, they call it the tuckamore, and on the western coastline they call it the krumholtz.

To see some wonderful pictures of the Tuckamore, go to

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

March Right In!

Funny how one's mood can somersault by simply turning a page on the calendar......winter will be drawing to a close in the weeks ahead, and I've gotta say that I'm ready.  

"Forgiveness is the fragrance
that the violet
sheds on the heel
that has crushed it."
-Mark Twain
March is sorta the threshold to springtime.  We start thinking about butterflies and violets, warm rain and planting crops, picnics and going for walks.  The life cycles start over again as the trees push out new buds, green grass covers the lawns, and the migratory birds come back to live with us.

My mother was born in the month of March.  In 1983, she and I went on a 3-week bus trip out to California together.  She had always wanted to see California, so we went in March.  The one night we were staying over in Stockton, Texas, and I remember her telling me that I should never feel sad if something happens to her because that trip gave her so much happiness.

March looks different to us depending on where we live in the U.S.  Going to California, meant I could pack shorts.  In Iowa, it was still too chilly to wear summer clothes.  My memories of March, in 1983, give me so much joy, especially when I think of the birthday party the bus drivers arranged for Mom in Oklahoma.  When our bus arrived at the motel, we were all greeted with a reception that included a big birthday cake with Mom's name on it, served with vanilla ice cream and choice of coffee or fruit punch.  My mother tended to never cry in front of anyone, but that night I saw her eyes were all watery.

March is also National Peanut Month.  Back in 1941, it started out as National Peanut Week.  In 1974, it was expanded to be a month-long celebration.  I did a bit of digging and found some good facts about the trusty peanut.....

  • One serving of peanuts is a good source of protein, Vitamin E, Niacin, Phosphorus and Magnesium.  
  • Peanuts are naturally cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat.
  • Peanuts aren't nuts.  They are legumes, like beans and peas.
  • The average American eats 3 pounds of peanut butter every year.  This totals up to about 700 million pounds, or enough to coat the floor of the Grand Canyon!
  • Researchers have found many uses for the peanut shells.  They can be found in kitty litter, wallboard, fireplace logs, paper, animal feed, and sometimes as fuel for power plants.
  • Two elected U.S. Presidents were peanut farmers......Thomas Jefferson and Jimmy Carter.
  • One acre of peanuts will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.
  • Astronaut Allen Sheppard took a peanut with him on his trip to the moon.
My mouth is watering just thinking about a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup right now.  Guess I'll settle for celery with a bit of natural peanut butter.  Don't want the elastic in my pants to pop!