Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Moonshine Marley Part 4

Starla Rose sat in the floral covered chair by the window. This was her favorite place to mull things over and she had a lot of mulling to do. The sunlight warmed her back and made her a little drowsy. The cup of tea in her hand was cooling down but she ignored it. Trying hard to make her thoughts remain in the corral she had created for them was giving her a headache. The thoughts wanted to jump the fence and run free.


The quiet was broken as Vinnie burst through the front door. The clump of his heavy feet sounded in the hall and with two large strides he managed to launch himself onto the couch across from Starla. He grinned as a large finger disappeared up his nose.

“Vincent, take your finger out of your nose. What are you, a child?” Starla rubbed her forehead and scowled at her cousin. “Actually, I’ll tell you what you are. You’re an uncouth oaf. You need to learn some manners and learn how to act like a gentleman.

“Come on Starla, who died and left you to be my etiq- etika – etiquick teacher?”

“It’s etiquette and if you had spent more energy on your studies than on beating up the little kids you would know that. Your mom is rolling over in her grave right now.”

Vinnie threw a pillow across the room and spilled Starla’s tea. “Now look what you have done. You’re such an idiot. This is my new dress.” Starla rose from her chair and headed for the door.

“I ain’t no idiot. I managed to get ol’ Marley all flustered because Joe wouldn’t buy his hooch. That oughta make Pop proud.”

“You think you managed that all on your own? Well, I have news for you. Joe may be scared of your size, but the real reason he refused to buy from Marley is because of Sophie. Haven’t you seen the way he looks at her? And, that’s not good enough. If he quits the shine Pops will lose his business also.”

“Yeah, you think you know so much? Just wait and see. Pop’s grooming me for the business and when he dies I’m gonna show you just how much you don’t know.”

Starla headed out of the parlor toward the stairs. “Stop it. Have you no feelings at all? Pop is not going to die. Now, I have to get out of this dress now that you’ve soaked it.”

As she disappeared up the stairs Vinnie grabbed another pillow and lobbed it at her back. He and Starla Rose had grown up in the same house ever since her parents had abandoned her when she was six to travel the world and never came back. She drove him nuts with her holier than thou attitude and her uppity manners. Once Pop was gone he was going to put her in her place.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are You Called?

Are you called by God? I used to think I wasn’t. I mean, I knew I am chosen and all that, but called!?! Moses was called to build an ark, David was called to slay a giant, Mary was called to birth the Savior. I’m just an everyday girl, why would God call me?


Moses wasn’t a celebrity or even a sailor. David was just a little shepherd. Mary was just a young girl. God called them as He calls each of us. Granted, He called these three to great things, but for each person in the Bible who had a big role in God’s plan there were tons of people called to smaller things.

The truth is we are all called. The other night as I read in Isaiah I was suddenly aware of how many times the Bible tells us we are called in just the three chapters I read. Just because our purpose isn’t to slay giants or birth the Savior doesn’t mean our purpose isn’t important.

Have you seen the movie While You Were Sleeping? In the movie Lucy works in a subway toll booth and every day sees tall, handsome Peter come through the gates. When on Christmas Eve Peter is mugged and thrown onto the tracks Lucy jumps down and saves him. In a later scene the two are talking about heroes and Peter declares Lucy a hero for saving him. He says he has never done anything heroic in his life. Lucy replies that he gives up his seat for someone in the train each day. He says that’s not heroic to which Mary replies, “It is to the person who sits in the seat.” Even the little things are part of God’s plan.

God calls each of us in different ways. Each of us is given talents and opportunities to fulfill our call. Our dreams and purposes may seem small, but nothing is small in God’s economy.

How are you called by God?

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Kind of Did That Backwards

The standard advice for wanna-be freelance writers is to not quit your day job until you are making money as a writer. I kind of did that backwards.


It wasn’t intentional. I ended up in a place where I felt it was time to leave my job and I decided this would be a good time to pursue my dreams. If not now, when? So here I am six months later with a dream and a little extra writing experience under my belt, but not publishing regularly and not being paid for it. Am I a freelance writer or still a wanna-be? I’m certainly not a freelance writer who is supporting herself with her writing.

I've been doing some little projects like temp jobs here and there to bring in some money these past months. One of those projects has led me to the reality that I’m no longer content with just working to pay the bills. I no longer want to wander through life having to put my passion and joy on the back burner for 40 hours a week. I don’t think every writer has to give up a fulfilling day job to be the best writer they can. In fact, I know of many writers who worked all day and wrote all night. But, here I am at a crossroads in my life where I can pursue my dream or go back to my old life. That one project really instilled in me the desire to not go back to the old life just yet.

Once many years ago my pastor said, “If you have a God-given dream and you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. God will be there.” I wrote that quote in my journal all those years ago not knowing that the dream was writing for God for a living. I had buried that dream so deep it didn’t register on my radar back then. It wasn’t until 2006 that I began to unbury my hopes enough to reach my true pleasure in writing something that spoke to someone else. Now, I feel the drive to see where this will take me.

So, here as 2010 dwindles down to memories I am making a list and checking it twice. I’m making a plan, a business plan if you will. It won’t be easy. I’ve been tempted to think that if God gives me a dream it should be easy. But, I don’t really believe that. I think that God gives the dream and He gives the talent, but the elbow grease, that has to come from me. 2011 will be a year of elbow grease. I may end up doing the whole starving artist thing before I succeed, but I am willing to do that.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Merry Christmas

Hi Folks,

There won't be a new installment of Marley's story today. I am going to be taking a blogging break through the Christmas holiday. Marley, Vinnie and the rest of the gang you haven't met yet will be back.

In the meantime, I thought I might share some of the blogs I love to read.

Have you read Nat-the-Fat-Rat? I love Nat's blog. She takes her everyday life and presents in her very own, unique way that just captivates me. She recently had a baby; a much wanted and long awaited baby. Start with this post about holes and wholes and having and wanting and see if you don't fall in love with Nat as I have. But, don't stop there, make sure you read her previous posts to find out all about the Amazing Huck and how wonderful he is and of course, you don't want to miss out on hearing about the Holbshusband. So, go ahead; hop on over and check out Nat-the-Fat-Rat.

Until we meet again, happy reading and enjoy the season!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Everything I Need to Know about Life I Learned from a Tom Hanks Movie

It’s no secret that I am a Tom Hanks fan. I found this little list while cleaning my office and thought I would share it with you. It wasn't dated so I'm not sure when I wrote it, but I find its wisdom still applicable.

1. You can make a square peg fit in a round hole with plastic bags, duct tape and a gym sock.

2. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

3. There’s magic in those three little words…“You’ve Got Mail.”

4. When you’re sleepless in Seattle try calling Dr. Marsha.

5. Don’t wait for a brain cloud to start living your life.

6. Wearing one red shoe isn’t a fashion statement and can get you mixed up with the wrong crowd.

7. You don’t have always have to act like a grown-up to be a grown-up.

8. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t get it.”

9. You can’t judge your neighbors by their looks.

10. You’re never too old to follow your dreams; you just have to have the courage to step out and possibly fail. You can’t succeed if you never risk failure.


There you have it. It’s true folks, we Tom fans are in a league of our own!

Can you name the movies these come from!?!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moonshine Marley Part 3

Marley could feel his heart racing in time with the truck engine. He pushed the old jalopy as fast as it would go. “Come on baby, don’t fail me now. We can out run old Vinny.” Looking in the rear view mirror he saw Vinny’s Model T gaining on him. He yanked the wheel hard to the left to turn off the main road. Gravel spit from beneath the back tires. When Vinny’s car hit the back bumper the truck jumped. Marley’s hands slid from the wheel and the vehicle plummeted into a ditch. Marley pushed the door open and crawled out.


Vinny stopped his car, jumped into the ditch and pulled Marley to his feet. “You little weasel. Look what you did to my car. You’re gonna pay for that. You’re such a stupid idiot; you didn’t even have enough common sense to run somewhere’s I couldn’t find you. Headed straight home like a little pigeon. I knew right where to find ya. And now I’m gonna kill ya.”

“Yeah, well, not if I kill you first. Besides how you expect me to pay for your car if ya kill me?” Marley’s fist connected with Vinny’s chin.

“You ain’t got it in ya, ya little rat. When I’m done with you, you’ll wish you’d never been born. But you’ll pay for my car while you’re wishing it.” His knee connected with Marley’s stomach forcing his breath out in a large burst.

Marley fell to the ground where Vinny promptly kicked him. Vinny continued to kick until Marley’s body lay still. “There. That’ll teach you.” Vinny ran back to his car and drove away.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Badges of Life

Christmas is sneaking up on us with little pitter-patter feet. Before we know it we will be opening presents and then the New Year will come barging in. Another year is winding down while the new one waits in the wings.


Have you accomplished everything you wanted to when 2010 was just crossing the horizon? I put my goals out there in a post right after the first of the year. While I haven’t fully completed any of my goals, I have definitely moved in the right direction. And, I have accomplished things that weren’t on my list.

There is something about this time of year that gets me thinking about goals. I don’t like to make New Year’s resolutions because they seem so fleeting. I much prefer to think in terms of goals. So, I’ve been thinking about what I want to accomplish in 2011. The list is taking shape in my brain and I will share them with you soon.

One thing I have tried to do over the last few years was to force myself to step outside of my own little box. I have lived life much too safely and missed out on a lot of things because of my fears – fear of failure or looking stupid or being rejected. It hurts when these things happen. Unfortunately, hurt and pain are part of life as a human. I don’t think we can experience great joy and happiness if we haven’t also felt pain and sorrow.

Slowly I am coming to realize that if I really want to experience this world in a great way I have to take a chance. Sometimes taking those chances doesn’t lead to the things I planned, but I am always glad I have taken them. The failures and disappointments hurt, but they are symbols of my efforts. When I was a Girl Scout as a child I had a sash where my merit badges were sewn on to show my accomplishments. In life, each effort, whether successful or not, is figuratively sewn on the sash of my life; a reminder of a life fully lived.

I can’t imagine looking back and saying, “Dang, I was rejected; I wish I hadn’t tried that.” But, I can imagine (because I’ve done it) looking back and saying, “I really wish I had tried that.” It is the attempting that is important. So, in 2011 I will continue to step out and try new things; putting myself out there. I am sure there will be more failures and rejections, but who knows what great things will come as I pursue a life fully lived. When 2011 winds down my goal is to have filled my sash with many new badges.

What about you, what are your hopes and dreams for 2011? I would love to hear them.



And, don’t forget to check back in on Wednesday to see what happens to Marley next.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Moonshine Marley Part 2

Marley MacDougal can't catch a break. He's a small time moonshiner who finds himself on the wrong side of the law, the mob, and a woman.

Today starts the first in a serial story I am creating just for you my dear blog reader. Today I am posting the first part of the story that began on August 27, 2010 and after that is installment #2. Tune in each Wednesday to be the very first on your block to read the unfolding story.

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Glancing first over his shoulder to make sure no one was around, Marley slipped into the cool darkness of the forest. The trees were thick along the road and Marley was grateful for their shade and shelter. Moving steadily deeper into the woods he went carefully making sure to leave no tracks. One could never be too safe in days like this. Finally after many minutes the dense undergrowth gave way to a small clearing. Marley dropped the burlap bag that contained the jugs and ingredients for a fresh batch from his shoulder.


“Good Evening Bella.” Marley stroked the copper still lovingly. He had worked hard to create this little retreat. It was something to bring in a little extra money. Filling his cup he sipped the liquid and sat on a log. “My goodness Bella, who would have thunk that I would end up running moonshine? It was never in my nature to go against the laws of this country, but what’s a fella to do when the country goes crazy with this prohibition? Humph, look at me out here in the woods talking to a chunk of copper like it was real.”

Getting up from the log he went over to empty the contents of the sill into two brown jugs. Plugging them with a cork he placed a flat rock on each to hold the cork in place. He filled the still and checked to make sure everything was running smoothly. Grabbing the jugs he headed back the way he came. With any luck he could make it into town and deliver the hooch tonight so he’d have some bucks in his pocket tomorrow.

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An old black pickup pulled onto the dirt drive next to the house. Marley hopped out and grabbed a box from the bed of the truck. Walking to the door he saw Vinny sitting in his old Model T across the street. He quickly turned away hoping Vinny hadn’t seen him looking. He pounded on the door.


“For pete’s sake, knock the door down will you.” Joseph’s voice came loud and clear through the wood. As soon as the door opened Marley pushed past him into the living room.

“Hey, just calm your pants Marley. You act like a coyote’s chasing ya.”

“Let’s get this over with so I can get home. I ain’t got all night.” Seeing Vinny really got his nerves up and he didn’t like feeling this way. He set the box on a table and began pulling apples off the top, revealing 6 Mason jars filled with amber liquid. “I brought ya my best stuff. Same price as last time.”

“Well, now, Marley. I don’t think I can buy anymore.” Joseph twisted the edge of his shirt as he spoke.

Marley moved closer to Joseph and grabbed his shirt. “What do ya mean you can’t buy anymore? We had an agreement and I made this batch special for you. Don’t back out on me now. I counted on the money on account you said you was good for it.

Joseph pulled back so hard he hit a chair with the backs of knees. He thudded into the chair and rubbed his hand across his forehead. “I just can’t take anymore. I really shouldn’t drink the stuff.”

“Oh heck, Joseph, you been talking to that temperance lady again? Just cause she’s purty and makes goo-goo eyes at you ain’t no reason to swear off the hooch. You always did enjoy a good long sip of an evening. Anyways, you promised and I need the money.”

Joseph rose, picked up the box and forced it into Marley’s unwilling hands, which gave him no choice but to take it or watch it crash to the floor. He looked at Joseph with disbelief as he opened the door and pushed Marley out. Joseph leaned out the door for a quick look up and down the street. “You go on now and don’t come back with anymore. I ain’t gonna buy no more.”

Marley stomped to his truck, dropped the box heavily into the back. He climbed in the driver’s seat, slammed the door and throw the truck into reverse. Barreling out of the driveway he rammed into Vinny’s car across the street.

“Son of a monkey.” Marley glanced over his shoulder at Vinny, then jammed the gear shift into first gear and raced off down the street.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful for Dad

Well, here we are at the end of November 2010. One month ends and another begins. This has been a month of busyness, holidays, and family. It has been a month of remembering the many blessings God has bestowed on me.


Tomorrow starts the Christmas month. The month ahead promises more busyness and definitely more holidays. Family for Christmas this year will be just me and Dad and the animals. No out of town visitors and no trips to visit family are planned. This year will be a mix of old traditions and some new ones borne of it being just the two of us. While it makes me a little sad that our celebrations will be smaller this year, I am thankful for this time with Dad.

One thing I have always appreciated (as an adult anyway) are my parents. Except for the years I lived in the Great Northwest in the 90’s I have always lived close to Mom and Dad. I love being able to just pop over to the house and spend time with Dad. I don’t get to do enough of that, but certainly more than when I was out on the edge of the world.

Have I ever told you about how grateful I am for my Dad? I don’t think I have done a proper Dad thankfulness post this month. Daddy has always been my hero. As a little girl I believed he could do anything. As an adult I know that he would do anything for his family. He has been there through the trials of my life when I needed a handyman or a computer repairman or a sounding board. He has supported and loved me in a way that only Dad’s can.

Yes, my Daddy is definitely a keeper and for that I am very thankful!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Changes

A couple more days of thankfulness this month. Of course, I don't mean that I won't ever be thankful again. I just mean that I won't be posting things I am grateful for each day.

I think I mentioned last week that I may have something different on tap for the month of December and I've decided to go ahead and give this a try. December tends to be such a busy month for everyone that this will give me a chance to keep my sanity and give me a chance to spend a little more time on building my freelance career. So, starting on December 1 I am going to cut back on my regular posts to two a week for a while. On Mondays I will do a normal, whatever comes to mind kind of post and on Wednesdays I am going to post some of the stories I have been wanting to write.

A few months back I wrote a short blurb about Moonshine Marley for another post. I thought it was just a little thing, but Marley keeps coming back to me. He wants me to tell his story, although I don't fully know what his story is just yet. For a while there, he was keeping me awake at night as more of the story came to light. So, to quiet his yammerings I am going to write his story as long as he will keep telling it. I am working on the next installment for next Wednesday's post.

As my faithful readers I am going to ask a favor of you, it's easy so don't worry. If you enjoy my stories or {shudder} hate them, please would you consider leaving a comment to let me know what your think. Also, if you do enjoy them would you consider sharing my blog with your friends? I would love it if you would :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Forgetful Thankfulness

Thanksgiving has passed once again. As I was working on things this afternoon I realized I hadn't posted my thankful post yesterday or today.

Yesterday was a little busy with family stuff. It was a great time with my sister and her family. But, I got caught up in life and thankfulness was pushed to a back burner. Don't get me wrong, I was still thankful but it just wasn't on the tip of my tongue.

Gratitude is like that sometimes. Life gets busy and we forget to count our blessings. This time in November has been a good reminder for me that I need to be thankful each day, not just one day a year.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Yesterday was Turkey Day and I spent the day with my family cooking, talking, laughing, eating, and being thankful. I have family in from the far reaches of the world, also known as Nebraska so I haven't had a lot of time to write and post and I didn't plan ahead. Thus, there was no post yesterday. It's okay, though, because I am pretty sure all my readers were busy feasting and being grateful also.

So, today is Black Friday and I am thankful that I am not crazy enough to want to go shopping with millions of other people. Seriously, I am not a fan of shopping as it is and when there are large crowds of people bent on getting a better bargain involved I just shrink back into my shell. Today instead of saving money I am going to be spending some. I am so very grateful for a day of time with my sister. We don't get to see each other much so a chance for her and I to get our nails done, go to a movie, and do whatever else we deem important is what is on our agenda for today. Therefore, I now proclaim this day, not Black Friday, but Sister's Day On the Town! Let the merriment begin.

On another note, I have been considering changing things up on the blog but haven't made any decisions yet. But, I am thinking about something a little different for the blog in the month of December. I will work it out this weekend and then post on Monday about my thoughts and what I have decided to do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Little Things

The other day a friend posted on Facebook that her daughter told her she was thankful for stairs. I chuckled when I read it. It was a little ironic though since in recent weeks as I have vacuumed the steps at my house I think about how I hate stairs.

It may sound weird. I don't hate them because I have to vacuum them. Or because it takes a little effort to climb them.

No, I hate them because they remind me of my mother's death. She fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Nine days later she died. I was with her when the accident happened. I didn't realize she was there by the steps. I heard a little, "oh" and turned just in time to see her fall, but not enough time to race over a catch her.

That moment has tormented me for the last three years and often I get to the top of a set of steps and suddenly I am reliving it and can't breathe.

But I don't want to live in those moments and so I push them away and remember who my mom was. I remember her smile and her zest for life. I remember all the little things she taught me about life and living. That's what life is made of after all; the little things that we share with one another and teach one another. And for those memories and those things I shared with my mother I am very thankful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Cat's Meow!

If you've been here before there's a good chance you have read about my kitty cat, Wilson, and how much I love him.

Today I am thankful for my sweet boy who waits at the back door when it's time for me to come home. Yes, he does seem to know how to tell time, don't ask me how. This is the same adorable boy who just had a rousing bout of chasing his tail.

He's just been such a joy in my life.



Monday, November 22, 2010

Planning Turkey Dinners

It's finally Thanksgiving week! I'm excited that my sister and her family are coming for a visit. While talking about Thanksgiving dinner Dad suggested Honey Baked Ham which does more than just ham. I said if he wanted a real turkey dinner I would be happy to cook. Turns out he would like some real turkey and dressing so I am playing the hostess on Thursday and cooking up the bird.

Despite the fact that I have been an adult for over two decades, I have cooked very few full turkey dinners. So I'm having to do some pre-planning and research to make sure I get everything right. Luckily, I have a little "voice" from the past to help me along the way. Back in 1990 when my youngest sister was first married Mom wrote a long letter to her in October with details about how to fix a turkey and dressing! My sister was gracious enough to forward me a scanned copy of the letter.

The letter is a great tool for me as I plan my meal. It is also a beautiful reminder of the special person my mother was and I am so grateful to have a copy as part of my cookbook repertoire.Written in her hand writing it causes me to hear echoes of her sweet voice as I read through it.

Today I am thankful for the amazing woman who I am blessed to call Mom and for the little bits of history she left behind.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Thankfulness

So, I forgot to post yesterday. It wasn't that I didn't have anything to be thankful for 'cause I did. I spent the morning at my dad's house helping to get ready for a visit from my sister and her family. It's been a year since I have seen them and I am super excited they are coming. Then Dad and I did our typical Saturday night thing with church and dinner. I am so very thankful for my family.

Last week I posted about my printer spitting out random pieces which frustrated me, but I was able to find a good printer that will allow me to print not only from my desk top computer but also my laptop computer so I am thankful for new technology.

Friday night I spent the evening with three of my friends. We call ourselves a secret society and while I am not going to divulge any secret society secrets, I am going to tell you about these friends. You see the three of them are amazing, intelligent, beautiful women who have fabulous jobs; jobs that in one way or another touch the lives of thousands of people. They are dedicated to their jobs and give up much in their lives in order to do what needs to be done. Sometimes in pursuit of perfection for others they give up too much and forget to take care of themselves. So, they decided it was time to reclaim their lives. They knew that if they didn't they wouldn't have the strength needed to carry on their work for others. So they began to take time for themselves to remember that while work is important, life is important also.

Earlier this fall they invited me to join them on a life reclamation trip to Wyoming. Having quit my job earlier this year in an attempt to reclaim my own life and pursue my dream, the trip was just what I needed. And after that trip we decided that we needed to have a time at least once a month to get together to just enjoy life and each other's company. The society was formed one beautiful, chilly night under the stars. Da goils and I are now society girls ;-)

Today, two of these friends and I are going to see the newest Harry Potter film. It promises to be an afternoon of magic, mystery, and possibly a little mayhem.

Woohoo!! I am so thankful for friends and family!

Friday, November 19, 2010

TGIF

Today I am thankful for weekends, lunch with an old friend, and a group of friends to spend a Friday evening with.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pink Sky at Night....

The old sailor's tale says, "Pink sky at night, sailor's delight. Pink sky at morning, sailor's warning." The theory being that when the sky is all pink and red in the morning that means the coming weather will be bad, but at night means the weather will be good.

Last night the clouds over the mountain were all pink and beautiful. The weatherman says the next few days the temps will be in the 60s. It's been a very mild fall in the area so far.

Today I am once again thankful for the beautiful area I live in and the wonderful weather we are enjoying.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Breaking Down

Have you seen the Tom Hanks, Shelly Long movie The Money Pit? In the movie this couple buys a beautiful old house that looks great, but no sooner than the ink has dried on the mortgage the place begins to fall apart. Some days I feel like I am living in that movie!

Seriously, over the weekend I flooded the coffee maker and it stopped working. Last night I knocked the closet door in my office of its track and couldn't get it back on. Today my printer coughed a few dying coughs, spit out some random parts and died. It's all very frustrating when things are falling apart around me.

But, that's life and so what can a girl do about it except keep her chin up and move on. Thankfully, I have been blessed with a little house that is mostly not falling apart and I have stuff. Too much stuff sometimes, but there are people in this world who don't have these things. I am thankful for what I have.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Achy Muscles

I have been doing a new workout and I can feel it in muscles that haven't been used in a while. The achiness I feel as the muscles get used to being called into action is a good reminder that I am blessed with a healthy body and the use of my extremities. Today I am thankful for my health.

Monday, November 15, 2010

'Tis the Season!

‘Tis the season for trees, holly, mistletoe, presents, good will, and the jolly fat man in his red suit. Do you believe in Santa? Do you believe in the spirit of love, giving, and childlike wonder at the world that is Santa? Do you keep that feeling in your heart year round? I know that I can say I do believe in all that Santa represents and I try to keep the spirit year round, but sometimes I fail to do that.


I’ve been watching The Santa Clause movies as I get into the holiday mood. In the 2nd movie there is a scene which just gets me every time I watch it. Imagine a junior high school gymnasium/auditorium filling with adults in red and green. It’s the faculty Christmas party. Everyone’s standing around drinking punch; bored out of their skulls. Then Scott Calvin aka Santa Claus jumps up on stage and starts handing out presents. In each of those presents is something that the teachers loved as children. Soon the party has turned from dull to hopping as the grownups reconnect with their childlike spirit. They are suddenly enjoying life again.

I love this scene. Each time I watch it I think, “Why can’t we remember this in the darkest days of winter in February and March? Or during the dog days of summer? Or those early days of the season when we are complaining about the commercialism of the season with Christmas stuff out in stores by Halloween?”

Because really, Christmas isn’t about the decorations or buying the perfect gift. It’s about love and wonder and that should be something we hold in our hearts all year round. It’s just so easy to forget that. I know because I do it all the time. I get caught up in adult life and my heart gets full of thoughts of paying bills and getting oil changes and being on time for work. It drags the childlike qualities right out of my life. What’s a girl to do when that happens?

Well, this girl gets in touch with her roots by having fun with the nieces and nephews. Or she watches a silly movie. She pushes all the adult stuff to the side for a few minutes and rolls on the floor with her kitty cat. She tries to look at life through the eyes of a five year old or a fifteen year old. Some say I don’t act my age all the time and I say, “More power to me, baby!”

What do you do to keep your childlike spirit alive and well?


Today I am thankful for the holiday season that reminds us to love and be thankful for the things in our life.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Blessings

Today I am thankful that I live in a country where I can openly worship the way I choose.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunny Saturday

The sun is shining, the kitty cat is napping, and I have time to get some stuff done at home. I am thankful for Saturdays today. And my super cute kitty cat!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Little Pleasures

I have to admit that I enjoy reading the newspaper. I like the editorial page, but my favorite part is the funny pages. They just make me laugh so I keep reading them :-) Some people think that cartoons aren't for grown ups, but I don't care, I like them anyway!

Today I am thankful for cartoons.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Today I am thankful for all the men and women and their families who give up so much to serve our country in the Armed Forces. It's not an easy life but they do it willing.

I am especially grateful for my Dad who served for 27 years and my brother-in-law who is currently in his 21st year of Marine Corp Service. And, I have many uncles, cousins and an aunt who are current military or veterans.

Thank you to each and everyone of you. May God bless you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Winter has finally arrived in the area. Ironically enough, as it began raining and snowing in the northern part of the area crews were a couple of grass fires in the southern part. I live in a semi-arid landscape. I have grown used to the dry air and always struggle with the higher humidity of Kansas, Nebraska, and Indiana when I visit there. Still, moisture is needed to keep things growing and not going up in flames and around here any moisture is a reason to rejoice.

Today as the rain and snow fell I was thankful for the much needed moisture.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Christmas Movies and Music

I know lots of people are not wanting to see all the Christmas stuff up in the stores yet. They certainly don't want to hear the Christmas music. I, on the other hand, love the movies and the music! Tonight I am thankful for Christmas movies and music!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sisterly Love

Today I am thankful that God has given me two amazing sisters. I love my sisters like crazy. They are so very different and yet so much alike and they enrich my life in so many ways.

Christina is sweet and quiet. She makes me laugh with her subtle sense of humor. I admire the way she takes what life hands her and keeps on going. She has two sons; one 14 and the other 7. She was such a girlie girl growing up that I imagined her having little girls to dress up and do their hair. But she has these two incredible, energetic boys and so she learns to fish and skeet shoot and all the other things that boys do.
She once was the sister who wanted to borrow my sweaters and who the boys in high school wanted to get close to me so they could get a date with her. Then she grew up into this beautiful woman who is someone I would choose as my friend if she hadn't been a built-in friend called a sister.

Teresa is the baby of the family. She is spicy and strong. She was sometimes a bratty little sister...all the siblings were bratty, weren't they at one time? Today she is witty, beautiful, intelligent and such a good friend to me. Her strength through the years has been insurmountable. She takes life by the horns and wrestles it to the ground. Her two kids are as different as night and day yet she is there for both of them. I love that she is in a new phase of her life and that she is embracing it with gusto. Her new found verve as a stay-at-home mom makes me tired sometimes but impresses me at the same time. When she rattles off the different types of spiced pumpkin seeds she made or the homemade coffee syrups she created I just have to smile.

Having sisters is definitely one of the best parts of my life. Thank you, God, for blessing me so richly with these two fantastic sisters!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight savings time ends today. Did you remember to turn your clock back? I usually turn all mine back early in the evening on Saturday so I don’t forget. There’s lots of talk this time of year about how we gain an hour and vice versa in the spring. But, that’s not really true. The hours just get rearranged so we don’t really gain anything. Sorry, if that burst your bubble, but reality is what reality is.


Honestly, reality is that we can’t gain or lose hours in our life. We are born with a certain number of hours to live out our lives. The Bible tells us that our days on this earth are determined before we are born. Psalm 139:16 reads, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.” Only God knows how many hours we have to live on this earth.

Our job is not to worry about how many hours we have or whether we can gain or lose them. Our job is to live out those hours and days that have been given to us. I believe we each have a purpose on earth. I have written before about my purpose until my 42nd year was to be there when my parents needed me during my mom’s illness. Now I know that God has another purpose for my life; I am just not able to verbalize it as I could before. I think that God has some use for me and my writing and I don’t necessarily need to know the details in order to fulfill my tasks. I just know that every choice I make can either move me in the right direction to fulfilling my days here or it can squander the time I have on foolish things. Life doesn’t always make sense to me, but it does to God. As long as I turn my heart to Him and lean on Him my hours will be well spent.

“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” ~Psalm 90:12

Today I am thankful for the time I have been given.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dinner with Daddy

Today is Saturday. That means it is time for church and dinner with Dad. This is a tradition that started while Mom was still alive and my sister and her family still lived nearby.

Now it's just me and Daddy, but that's okay because it's our time to reconnect.  I am thankful for this time with my dad.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Here and Now

These days I have been working in a small office without windows and I find myself looking forward to getting out and walking in the park. When I am walking I make great plans for my stories and the things I am going to write when I get back to my home office. Then, when I am home in front of my computer I find myself thinking about tomorrow and the next day. I find myself always thinking about what is up and coming. I realized as I walked recently that I seem to never be just focusing on right now. There is always something ahead to consider and I seem to be perpetually living in the future. Do you ever do that?


The Bible tells us to not worry about tomorrow and to not make plans since we don’t know from one day to the next if we will still be here. I don’t think the Bible is telling us to not do any planning for the future. I think the import of those verses is that we need to remember to live in the here and now. I know I look back and realize how much I missed out on because I was not fully living in the present.

Today I am thankful for this day – all 24 hours that comprise it. I will make an effort to be mindful of what is happening right now in front of me, this minute.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful for Provision

Today I am thankful that God has provided a source of income during these months of pursuing my passion. And, I am grateful there is a little cushion in my bank account for rainy days.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election Day

Last week I wrote an open letter to the political candidates. This week, despite the very negative campaign that just went on, I am very thankful that we are a country where everyone has a voice. I know it's easy to think that your vote doesn't matter, but it does. Our system of allowing me, you, and every other adult citizen to cast a vote is one of the things that makes this country great. Our system and country isn't perfect, but we Americans could make a difference if we all chose to step up to the plate.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful

Today I am thankful for the beautiful surroundings I live in. After work I took a brisk walk around the lake as the sun set behind the mountains. It was so peaceful, albeit a little chilly since I left my jacket in the truck.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Month Again!

Can you believe that it is November 1st already!?! Can I be a little clichéd and say, “Time Flies?” Well, it just does.


So, since it is November again I thought it was time to do another Attitude of Gratitude Month. Last November I blogged each day about something for which I was grateful. It gave me an opportunity to appreciate the little details that make life what it is. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget to enjoy life. Tuning my mind to those little gifts throughout my world helps me to rise above the drudgery. It makes my heart sing and puts a smile on my face.

And, now without further ado:

Today I am grateful for the peaceful walk through the cemetery yesterday when I visited my mom’s grave. Yesterday was the third anniversary of her death and while her death left a huge hole in my life I am grateful that she is once again healthy and happy in heaven. During the walk I came upon five deer who were just lounging in the grass among the graves under a bunch of trees. They looked at me and I at them and I took a couple pictures on my cell phone, then went on my way. It’s moments like these that make me smile.

Friday, October 29, 2010

An Open Letter to the Political Candidates

Dear Candidates:

I ask you today, what has our nation come to? Every November it's the same thing. You all get up on your little platforms and start spouting off about how bad the people you're running against are. It's like it's a race to see who can be the meanest, nastiest person around. Why do you think I would want to elect someone like that?

I'm tired of it all. I want a politician who can run on their own background. One who will tell me, "This is what I can do for the city/county/state/nation." I want people who have a record they are proud to talk about and proud to stand behind. That should be enough reason to vote for you. "This is me and I have done this and that." I want to know about you and your qualities.

Instead I get a stream of ads that take sound bites and quotes out of context. You twist your opponent's words to try and make yourself look good. You dig up dirt on each other and then gleefully lob it onto the airwaves. Negativity is the name of the game in the fight to win.

It's shameful, really. We've become a nation of haters and anything is fair in the game of politics. We need to move our country in a positive direction and that's not going to happen until you take the mudslinging out of elections.  It's up to me as a citizen of this country to stand up and say, "Enough." And it's up to you as a candidate to say, "Enough already. Let me tell you about me and what I stand for."

Sincerely,
Fed Up and Frustrated

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Christmas Wish List

It’s that time of year again. I was reminded on Monday that it is exactly 2 months until Christmas. You would think with all the bells and carols that go along with Christmas it wouldn’t be able to sneak up on me like it does every year. Sigh….


Every year around this time the family members are asked to make a Christmas wish list to assist the person buying for them. I have a hard time with making a wish list but one given on my list is Tom Hanks movies. My family knows that’s a good standby if they are ever in need of ideas. So, as I pondered what to add to my list this year this is what I came up with….

This year for Christmas I would like:

  • a shiny red sports car that goes zoom-zoom really fast
  • peace on earth
  • a pair of really cute boots that fit my weird feet and legs
  • to climb to the highest point of the Eifel Tower at night and look out over the city of Paris all lit up like a lady dressed for a fancy dinner
  • an amazing piece of artwork to serve as the theme for my bedroom décor
  • to know why we have an appendix since it seems to serve no purpose
  • a publishing contract for one of the books that is still in my head (I know, I know, I have to write it first, but this is a WISH list!)
  • to end the suffering of the people of Haiti who are now dealing with cholera as they try to rebuild their shattered lives
  • a new sofa and a great chair for my living room
  • to jump out of a plane and feel the exhilaration of free falling and then once the chute opens glide gently to back to earth
  • a secret super power so that my shiny red sports car would be invisible to the popo’s radar – speeding tickets are not on the wish list!


So, fess up, what’s on your wish list!?!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Fairest?

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Do you remember this line from the fairy tale Snow White? The evil stepmother looks into the mirror and asks the question. She is haggard and bent and not fair at all, but the mirror answers, “Why you are, my queen.” The mirror has been asked this question before and knew the expected answer. It knew the consequences of answering wrong.


Humor me for a moment…I realize mirrors are inanimate objects and can’t reason and think like we humans can. It’s a fairy tale and there is a point here.

This week I felt like that Snow White’s wicked step mother. I looked in my figurative mirror and asked it to declare me fair and good and perfect. But what stared back at me was bent, twisted, and ugly. There was no denying it; my inner thoughts were a mess and I just wanted to make them okay.

You see, I had a couple of interactions this week that pushed me to my limit. I was frustrated and I acted out in a way that wasn’t very nice and it certainly wasn’t very Christian. I walked away trying to justify my behavior and make my inner image the fairest of them all, but I couldn’t. My inner mirror responded with, “That was ugly and hateful and you are not the fairest of them all.”

I hung my head in shame. I knew because of the circumstances, I couldn’t make amends. I wouldn’t be able to find the people I had zinged in order to apologize to them. I could only ask God to bless them with interactions with people kinder than I was.

Now, I am not normally an angry person who lashes out. I tend to hold it in and I try to be gracious with those who frustrate me. But, as I brought this all before my Lord and confessed my anger and ill behavior I realized that even though I don’t speak the words to the person, I often allow the thoughts to fill my mind and poison my life. I am quick to judge people and brand them in my mind. Wow, the image in my figurative mirror was becoming more and more like the vile stepmother. I didn’t like what I saw.

My friend Joy over at Joyful Journey wrote this post and I could relate to the women who spoke out to Joy and her friend. When I read the words of her husband I wanted to shout, “Yes, I need a muzzle for my thoughts!” Joy points out that her son wouldn’t keep a hat on his head but they compensated by using lots of sunscreen. She pointed out that her friend was going through a really tough time in her life. We never know what the other person is going through so we have no right to judge them. And, we certainly have no right to

So, while I am thankful that I don’t often speak out my mean and hurtful thoughts to strangers I am ashamed that I let them run rampant in my brain. And, I often repeat them to my friends or family. There are times when I truly do need a muzzle for my thoughts.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Seedy Underbellys and Pink Sunrises

So, this has been one of those weeks were it seems the seedy underbelly of human nature is all exposed and leering at gentile society. Times like this I just want to pull the covers over my head and ignore the world.

But then, as I was sitting here thinking about what to post, I see my sweet kitty cat on his back in the middle of the living room. His feet were in the air and his soft white belly was just screaming to be rubbed. Suddenly the worse sides of human nature were forgotten and my mind was focused on the things I have to be thankful for. Things like:

  • beautiful pink sunrises
  • being invited to lunch with new coworkers
  • having two amazing sisters and a fabulous brother
  • the morning show DJs who make me laugh on my way to work
  • cigars and such with friends
  • pumpkins, fall leaves, and scarecrows

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sometimes This World Confounds Me

Sometimes this world just gets the best of me. There are days when I want to throw up my hands and whisper, “I’m done.”


Other days I stand in awe of a beautiful sunset or the smiles of an elderly couple as they hold hands while strolling in the park.

There’s just a lot about this world that is unknowable and that confounds me sometimes. Take, for instance, the sudden death of a young woman’s father who was in his mid-60s and the friend’s niece who is fighting for her life just hours after being born with a serious heart defect. These things pierce my soul.

Then I walk outside and I see the snow on the summit of Pikes Peak and the fabulous colors of the autumn leaves. I see the friends come around the hurting families and support them through their trials. These things are salve on my pierced soul.

We Christians like to say bad stuff happens because we live in a fallen world. Ever since Adam and Eve allowed evil into this world we have had to deal with the consequences. It’s true, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

I still don’t understand it, really. It just makes me sad, but also thankful that there is still good in this world to counterbalance the bad.

Monday, October 18, 2010

100 Moments in Time - Time

Time is an oft talked about subject these days. How to find more time in our days and how to manage our time weigh heavy on our minds.  Books and classes can be found on the subject. In this world time is something to be controlled and corralled.

God gave each of us a set amount of time. While he gave us the same amount of hours in each day, he hasn't given us all the same amount of minutes to walk this earth. Our job is to use wisely the minutes we've been given; not try to create more of them.

This is Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. Old Faithful is called this because it erupts faithfully every hour or so and has done this for years and years. Over the years the geyser hasn't tried to move its show times closer in order to fit in more tourists. There is no time management techniques to change the schedule.  Old Faithful never waivers. It just waits until the time is right and then it spews forth an amazingly beautiful sight.





So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.  ~Psalm 90:12

Friday, October 15, 2010

Do You Know Lewy?

Do you know Lewy? It’s easy to think that dementia such as Lewy or Alzheimer’s affect older people. Truth is, though, that dementia has no age limit on either end of the spectrum. In fact, I am hearing of more people who are young with symptoms of Lewy.

I would like to give you a brief glimpse of Lewy.

Lewy is one of my Facebook friends who is in his mid 40s, just a few years older than me. He writes frequently on Facebook about his struggles. I admire his outlook on life and the desire to make a difference for other people even in the face of what having Lewy means.

Lewy is the husband of another friend I also met through cyberspace who is also my age. She blogs about how Lewy has changed their lives. She deals with some tough things in life right now. Through it all the love for her husband shines through. Years ago she promised to love him and that is exactly what she does. No matter how hard life is with Lewy she does what needs to be done to care for him.

Lewy is the woman who bravely nursed her father through his battle with the disease. Now she has been diagnosed with probably Lewy also. Still, she puts herself out there to give support and love to other Lewy caregivers because she’s been there. And she’s not afraid to speak out about how it is affecting her.

Lewy is the mother of a married daughter. Day in and day out she sees Lewy affecting her mother. She is doing everything she can to help make her mother’s life better. In her search to improve quality of life she isn’t afraid to try the unconventional therapies in addition to what little medicine has to offer.

No, dementia knows no boundaries. It doesn’t discriminate in regards to gender, age, or race. It can strike anyone. Please remember these and the millions of others who are walking every day in the shadow of Lewy. They need our love, support, and to know they are not alone.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What Exactly Does Fluctuating Cognition Mean!?!

A friend I met through Facebook posted this article on his page today. I felt it did a good job of describing the types of cognitive problems Lewy patients have and how they are different from Alzheimer's.

Mental Help Web Site



I didn't have a chance to write a post last night so I was glad that I saw this article. Last night after having dinner with my dad, brother and sister-in-law in celebration of Mom and Dad's anniversary we went back to Dad's house. We let his little terrier mix dog out into the fenced back yard to "do his business." He was attacked by a Husky wolf mix dog that lives down the street who had jumped the fence and was in our yard. Scamp has bruising and gashes on both sides of his body near his front legs. As I write this he is at the vet undergoing surgery to repair the wounds. I just didn't have a lot of energy left after that to come home and write a post.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

50 Years

The dreams became reality. The kids ran through the house leaving their finger prints on the walls, windows, and his and her hearts. There were diapers, moves, lost teeth, bills to be paid, school plays and teenage drama. Through it all they stood by each other’s side. For better, for worse.


Worse came in 2007 just after they celebrated 47 years of marriage. Lewy Body Dementia took her much too young. But Lewy couldn’t negate all those years of better. It couldn’t drown out all the years of love and laughter. Lewy couldn’t conquer the legacy of love that was started the day.

Today we commemorate 50 years since Mom and Daddy said “I do.” It’s bittersweet that Mom isn’t here to celebrate with us, but we know she’s looking down from heaven on the family their love built and smiling. We are celebrating the love they shared and the love that Daddy still has for his beautiful bride.

I love you Daddy! And I love you, Angel Mommy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Did You Know!?

  • Lewy Body Dementia affects 1.3 million people in the US

  • Lewy Body Dementia is currently under diagnosed

  • Estelle Getty who played Sofia on The Golden Girls had Lewy

  • LBD (and other forms of dementia) are more than just forgetting - they can affect multiple body systems

  • Lewy bodies which are plaques in the brain were first discovered by Frederich Lewy in the early 1900s

  • There are currently LBD support groups in 31 states

  • You can volunteer to help the Lewy Body Dementia Association even if you don't live in Atlanta - manyof the opportunities available can be done from your home or in your local community

  • Lewy Body Dementia has symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's

  • LBD patients can have problems with neuroleptic drugs which are often used to treat hallucinations which is one of the hallmark symptoms of Lewy
These facts can be found on the Lewy Body Dementia Association web site. The web site is chock full of information and support. You can also find out about volunteer opportunities on the site.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Little Purple

A couple years ago I wrote a post about Susan G. Komen and her sister. I wrote about how I was intrigued by the whole pink movement and the awareness of breast cancer it built. At one time breast cancer was a taboo subject and women (men, too) suffered in anonymity. Today people openly talk about it and thousands of dollars are poured into research and creating better ways of treating it. And, today, there are support groups for people with cancer so that they can talk to others who understand what they are going through.


I have a friend who is a breast cancer survivor. She talks freely about her cancer. She can do so because Susan G. Komen made it okay to talk about boobies. This friend is committed to supporting others on their cancer journey. She supports the good work that Susan G. Komen does and she is grateful for the gains made because of this work.

When I wrote my post about going purple for dementia I didn’t do it for recognition. The thing about Susan G. Komen is that few people know her sister’s name; the sister who started the whole movement lives in the background. She doesn’t mind that. It’s not about her; it’s about Susan and the millions of others who deal with cancer. True, someday I’d like people to be aware of Lewy Body Dementia (LBD), Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia as they are about breast cancer. I want to help remove the stigma of dementia. And, like Susan’s sister I want people to understand the harshness of this disease so that they are moved to action.

Understanding is so important. The other morning I had the radio on in the car. The morning show was doing a quiz related to pop culture. The young caller said, “Oh I can’t remember the name of the star’s character. I’ve got Alzheimer’s.” And they all laughed at that. Susan could talk about her breast cancer and these days people with dementia are the butt of jokes. So I write and I talk and I post on Facebook about LBD and dementia. If the nation had a go purple day or month more people would know that there isn’t anything funny about dementia.

Dementia patients wish they’d forget inane stuff like the names of stars in movies. Instead they forget their spouse, children, and grandchildren. They forget how to feed themselves and dress themselves. They lose bits and pieces of who they have been all their life. Large parts of who they are get locked away inside them while the world goes on and mocks their illness. It’s a tragedy of growing proportions.

This week the LBDA is hosting the first ever Awareness Week for LBD. It’s an opportunity to bring a little purple to the world and with that purple some awareness of what dementia really is and what it does to the person and their family and friends.

So the next time you see a pink ribbon or the color purple stop a minute to remember the real people living with these diseases lest we forget that there are people behind them and they are dealing with these illnesses every single day.



How can you help?

  • Share this post with your friends.

  • Visit the LBDA web site

  • Come back Wednesday for another LBD post.

  • Become an awareness member on Facebook. LBDA Awareness Page on Facebook (make sure you log into Facebook before clicking the link...it will then take you to the awareness page.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

No Longer Working for the Man

Several months ago I quit my full-time job. There were a lot of reasons, not the least of which was that I was driving 65 miles one way to work, five days a week. That’s 650 miles and 15 hours of drive time each week. After I quit I spent a while just catching up on life again and trying to focus on my writing.


Then, about a month ago I took on a temporary position working for a local medical group. The work is something I have done in the past. I don’t manage people and I don’t have some fancy title. I simply have a job that I can do “with my eyes closed.” I show up at work each day and give my best for all the hours that I am there. At the end of the day I am responsible for what I have done and I am proud of what I have done. And, despite sitting at a desk for 9 hours each day I find myself exhausted (in a good way) at the end of the day.

Some people look at my situation as a step down. To the world it would appear that I have fallen from grace in my current position because it lacks permanence, clout, perks. But, as I go through my days I find that I have pride in my work. I look forward to going in each day and contributing something of value to this company. As I have been pondering this place I am in my life, I realize that God is teaching me to be content in all things. He is reminding me of the value of putting my heart into my work. He is giving me time and energy for truly living and not just trudging through the days.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” That’s exactly what I feel while I am in this temporary place. I am working for the Lord; not for men, prestige, power, or money. It’s a good feeling. Honestly, in the last few years I lost sight of what’s important in life. I was working for the man and it showed. I lacked the satisfaction of doing a good job for the Lord and not for anyone else. I was trying to build up treasures on earth that moth and dust destroy (Matt 6:19) and there was no satisfaction in that. That lifestyle drug the life out of me.

Now, my circumstances are infusing my life with new vigor. I am happy to put my heart into my work and to work for the Lord. It is good to have left the man behind!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Race Has Just Begun

Shoot, this was supposed to post on Wednesday and I just realized it never posted because I left it in draft status. Oh well, a day late, but here it is....

On Monday I wrote about finishing my Journeyman course. I relished the feeling of being done, having completed the task set before me. Today, as I pondered the projects I have before me, I realized that this finishing was really just the beginning of the next phase. I think as long as I am alive on this earth I will never truly be done. God has something more for me to do. I am further down the path, but am I still following the path. As I move forward, I pray that I will have the endurance to to finish the race well.



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. ~Hebrews 12:1

Monday, October 4, 2010

Done. Finito. Complete

I'm done! In a good way, that is. For the last year and a half I have been working on my Journeyman Course in Fiction from the Christian Writer Guild.  This intense course is a great way to challenge yourself as a writer and to learn from some of the great writers in the field. It's typically a year long course, but with the struggles I have had in the last couple of years I had to ask for an extension.

I ended up having two mentors for the course. My first mentor, Carol Umberger, is a multi-published writer and I enjoyed her help. She had to step back from her mentor work for personal reasons and I was re-assigned to Eva Marie Everson.

I worked with Eva most of this year and so enjoyed her writing, help, spirit, and encouragement. It was a pleasure to have her mentor me.

Ironically, this course was geared toward my fiction writing, but one of the most important things to come from it was some clarity in the non-fiction book I am pursuing. I'm sure you will hear more about that as it comes together :-)

So, now I am done. It feels good to have completed the course. It is time to move on to other writing projects. That is exactly what I am going to do!

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Specialty Center for Diagnostic and Treatment of Lewy Body Dementia

Yesterday the Lewy Body Dementia Association posted a link to an article on their Facebook page. NYU has opened a specialty center to diagnose and treat Lewy Body Dementia. This is something that is much needed!

You can read all about it in the Newswise article.

Score another victory in the battle against Lewy!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jeez-Oh-Pete!!

Jeez-oh-pete! I got that from a good friend and I liked it so much I decided to use....a lot!

So, jeez-oh-pete, I am so not a morning person! I mean, if I had may way I would not ever allow a 5:30 a.m. to exist....who thought of that!?! This is not something that is new to me. I have always been this way. I do like mornings. In fact, I love to lounge in bed in the wee hours of the dark when it's cool and quiet.

What I really hate about mornings is having to jump out of bed and rush to get to work. Just get up earlier you say. Well, the problem with that is that I dream my best dreams early, between 3 and 6 in the morning and I hate to let them go. What's a girl to do!?!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh My!

Chaos erupted in the background. I could hear the dog barking and the boys screaming even over the phone. My sister paused for a brief moment; said, “oh my,” and came right back to the conversation. I was amazed at how easily she was able to stay focused on our call. I, however, was somewhat distracted by the events happening around her. Since she has two boys ages 12 and 5 she seems to be able to roll with the punches and not get too overwhelmed by the exuberance and excitement.


Tonight in church we were surrounded by families with young children. The two boys on the end of our pew were noisy and active. The three children in front of us were in constant motion. Somewhere behind us was a child who cried throughout most of the service. The moms seemed adept at dealing with the children while still focusing on the service. My 13 year old niece leaned over and said, “I am not hearing much of the service with all the noise and activity.” I had to agree with her.

As Christians we are faced with similar circumstances. The noise and activity of the world is a constant. It seems there is no quiet anymore with 24 hour TV and radio. We are constantly bombarded by the chaos that this world offers.

Sometimes it is hard to filter out the cacophony and listen for what is important. We find ourselves distracted and focusing on whatever is the loudest. God doesn’t often yell louder than the world. He is a still, small voice in the chaos, but He is there waiting for us to come back to the conversation.

What we need to do is learn how to say, “Oh my” and get back to the conversation. We need to learn to filter out the boisterous world.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The View from Maude Miller's Window


This is the view from Maude Miller's cabin. Her cabin sits in the Grand Teton National Park. I must admit, that I wasn't really listening at the time the significance of Maude was being talked about at some point on our travels. So, I don't really know who Maude was or why her cabin is part of the tour in the Park. Having said that, now comes the disclaimer....this isn't a history lesson, it's a trip through my imagination. Won't you join me for the journey?

As I wandered through and around Maude's cabin I was awestruck by the simple beauty and entranced by thoughts of Maude's life. When I looked out this window and snapped the picture I imagined Maude waking up to the amazing sight of these mountains. When Maude peered out did she see the splendor of the world surrounding her or did she see that the wood pile was looking puny? It's coming on winter, you know, and they will need lots of wood to keep the cabin warm.  It's easy to overlook the spectacular around us when life presses in, it happens to everyone. Also, women who lived in cabins in the wild west were sensible and thought of matters such as wood even while enjoying gorgeousness.Was it easier back then to appreciate the world since they didn't have all the trappings like BlackBerries and IPads that keep our eyes on our lives?

Maybe Maude sat at her table in the early morning hours before her family arose. She would make some coffee, sit and stare out this window thinking about her blessings, her family, her To-Do list, her burdens. I wonder if Maude was a woman of faith? As she sat in the pre-dawn waiting for the sun to rise and shine it's light on those grand peaks did she pray to the Almighty God? Bring her petitions and troubles to the feet of the throne? Or did she ponder ways that she could handle her own problems?

As the sun rose and with it her husband I imagine she got up and poured his coffee. She put the eggs on and maybe, fried some bacon for him. He would need a good meal before he headed out to start his day. Maybe they would talk about the day ahead or maybe just be with each other. They probably had been married a long time and were comfortable in each other's presence whether they talked or not. Did they stand side-by-side at this window, hold hands, and dream of days to come? Were their daydreams interrupted by sleepy children wandering into the kitchen in search of breakfast before school. These children would have to walk to school to learn their ABC's and numbers. They would grow up to lead their own lives; to have cabins and families of their own.

Life wasn't easy in the time that Maude inhabited this world. Not easy, but in many ways simpler. Still, she was a woman just like me. Though many years separate us I imagine we struggle with some of the same issues. I don't think about having enough wood for the winter, but I do think about being able to pay the gas bill that fuels the furnace. I don't have a husband or children, but I think about my family and want to make sure they are happy and healthy. Maude and I are probably a lot alike despite our differences.

I imagined her reflection in the window looking back at me as I stood there and yes, I saw Maude.

 Can you see Maude through this window?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wednesday, oh Wednesday!

Wednesday, oh Wednesday here you are once again and oh how happy that makes me today. You know, when you work a 9-5 Monday through Friday job Wednesday comes crashing in with bells and whistles. It is the harbinger of the coming weekend and oh, how we love that! In the months since I quit my corporate world job I had forgotten about the joy of Wednesdays. In the last week, though, I have been working a “regular” job to help out a local company with some collections. It’s not hard work, just a lot of details. The people in the office are a fun bunch and things are going well.


Still as I sit here on a Tuesday night watching the NCIS premiere while Kitty Boy is curled up asleep in one of the new storage bins I purchased yesterday, I can’t help but be excited that the weekend is almost upon us. Speaking of storage bins, my Wilson loves any kind of box that he can curl up in. I had a Corona box that the local Chinese place used to deliver my order a while back and W commandeered that box quicker than I can say, “My Wilson loves any kind of box that he can curl up in.” (It’s okay, I can make jumps like this ‘cause it’s my blog!) I have since given the Corona box to some neighborhood kids who were looking for a bed for their kitten. I guess that means I will be buying another storage bin so W can have his own and I can still get organized.

As I drove home this afternoon from the library where I had to renew my library card, because who knew it would expire, I was followed by a Pepto Bismol pink Mack truck. It was quite the exciting time. I thought I would share that tidbit because it made me smile :-)

Oh, hey, the other day I was visiting over at The Sweet Life, saw a great craft idea and since I have been feeling rather crafty lately and I love fall I had to give it a try. Alisa makes the most adorable toilet paper pumpkins. You can visit her tutorial to learn how to make your very own pumpkins. Check out mine…..



So, have you read bird by bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott? I bought it a while back at the recommendation of a fellow writer. I started reading it and enjoyed it, but got caught up in something else and haven’t finished it. Lately, it has come to the top of the stacks of books by my bed and I have been reading it the last few nights. I have to say, this book is a gem regardless of your inclination towards writing or not writing. Lamott has an honest, shoot from the hip writing style and much of her writing advice comes in the form of life advice.

One of the chapters I read last night is called "Writing a Present." Several of her books began as a way to get her thoughts and memories of another person for that person onto paper. She envisions them as presents. I was entranced by this chapter because one of the questions I struggle with as a writer is my purpose – am I writing to make the Best Seller List or is there a deeper purpose? Those around me know that I want to someday write a non-fiction book about my mom. That book is still unwritten because I have had trouble figuring out what I want to say and who am I targeting.

As I read last night I realized that I was given the gift of being very close to my mom in the last years of her life since I was one of her care givers. Some families fight over who has to take care of elderly parents, but ours is different. I truly believe that my siblings were here as much as their lives allowed and would have been here more if it were possible. But, they have different purposes in life and they had responsibilities to their families. Also, a lot of adult care givers feel bitter that they have to give up their own lives to take care of sick parents. I felt honored that my purpose was to be there for them. It wasn’t easy, but I have some incredibly beautiful memories of times spent with Mom that I wouldn’t trade for an unencumbered life. Those memories are my gift and they are something that I can share with my siblings and with the world.

I’m still not exactly sure where this book is going, but the seed has been planted and watered. It is taking root in my heart and in my mind. It is growing and someday, hopefully soon, you will be able to pluck it off the shelf of your local book store and allow me to share my present with you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Don't Forget - Tomorrow is World Alzheimer's Day!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 21, is World Alzheimer’s Day. Tomorrow we remember those among us who suffer from Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body and other related dementias. According to the Alzheimer’s Association web site  35 million people are living with the effects of some form of dementia worldwide. This number is expected to continue to grow. Chances are that you have someone in your family or social circle that has dementia. If you don’t today, you may someday.


Dementia is often misunderstood. A friend asked me this weekend while on the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk, “I don’t understand how losing your memory can kill you.” Well, dementia is not just about losing your memory. When you have dementia your brain cells die; they cease to function they way they are supposed to and that creates not only memory problems, but other physical problems. Education and awareness is a key goal for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Lewy Body Dementia Association

Education and awareness is what World Alzheimer’s Day is all about. It is a day for educating ourselves about dementia. It is also a day for speaking out about the need for more funding and more research.

Won’t you take a moment to visit the Alzheimer’s site and sign the petition to ask Congress to take this matter seriously? It takes just a few minutes to fill out the petition that can make a world of difference.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent

Well folks, Jennifer has done it again. Her new book, Catching Moondrops (due out October 1, 2010) finishes the story of Jessilyn and Gemma with a bang. Jennifer and Tyndale House Publishers very generously provided me with an advance copy of Catching Moondrops to read and tell you all about.


This book did not let me down. It was a perfect ending to the story; although, it made me sad that there won’t be any more Calloway County books. True to her nature Jennifer handles this turbulent time of history with grace and dignity. This ending to the Calloway County series was a delight to read and is sure to encourage and entertain all who read it.

Jessilyn has finally grown up and Luke Talley is finally showing signs of interest. When a young black doctor comes to town and treats Miss Cleta tempers rise and violence once again comes to Calloway County. Jessilyn, still filled with a desire for justice, finds herself in the middle of things once again. For the first time she realizes that her heart can harbor as much hatred and anger as the heart of a Klansman.

So can Jessi overcome her hatred and anger? And, does she walk down the aisle to marry Luke? Well, you will just have to read the book to find the answers to these questions. Catching Moondrops is available for pre-order on both Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wyoming!!

A couple friends and I spent Labor Day weekend in Jackson, WY and I have to tell you it currently is one of my favorite places. Have you been there? If not, you must go there, soon :-)

We were awestruck by the Grand Tetons. The buildings in the foreground are the Chapel of the Transfiguration.


We visited the General Store in Grand Teton National Park. Every morning the storekeepers bake fresh cookies on the old cook stove. We got there in time to enjoy a great Ginger Cookie and drink a Sasparilla!



We hiked along Jenny Lake.



We encountered wild life on the road and yes, three gals from Colorado in a little red Kia herded these buffalo safely across the road to get traffic moving again.



We ate at Bubba's - really good bar-b-que!



We witnessed a bull buck a cowboy and then lay down in the arena because he didn't want to go back to his pen.



Watched Old Faithful be faithful!



Walked the "boardwalk" at Midway Basin and witnessed the incredible colors created by the minerals and bacteria.



Amazed at the colors in Midway Basin!



Saw incredibly beautiful waterfalls!



And had dinner at the Lake Lodge while watching the snow. Yes, folks, snow on September 5!


The whole area was fabulous and there was so much to see it just couldn't all be fit into one long weekend.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Treasures in Heaven

This is a repost from another blog for which I used to write. I got behind on my writing and with being gone several times in the last week I just find myself scrambling to keep posting. Things are slowing down and I will be back to a more regular writing schedule in the coming weeks.

Treasures in Heaven

Have you heard the story about the man who was so enthralled with his wealth that he contacted God and asked if he could bring it to heaven with him? God told him it really wasn’t allowed, but the man insisted. He had worked hard all his life and he requested a special dispensation to bring at least one suitcase of stuff along when he died. Finally, God relented and okayed one suitcase.


Years later the man died and arrived at the pearly gates with a suitcase full of gold bricks. St. Peter very nicely told him he could not bring it in to heaven. The man asked him to call God and verify that it was okay. So St. Peter called up God and posed the question. God asked St. Peter to look in the suitcase and tell Him what this man deemed so important it had to come to heaven with him? St. Peter said, “Well, sir, his suitcase is full of road paving material.”

I heard this story several years ago and laughed. But it really isn’t a laughing matter when we begin to value the things of earth so highly. I am guilty of this myself. Today as I was driving to a meeting I was thinking about the closet in my office. It is stuffed and overflowing right now. My kitty cat loves to explore in there, but he gets lost and often causes stacks of stuff to slide with him riding the avalanche down to the floor. I have been meaning to clean out the closet for some time and just never seem to get to it.

Living in a small house means I have to try to be diligent in not accumulating too much stuff. I do that; accumulate stuff. I won’t call it treasure because a lot of it really is just stuff. I checked the Bible once, and it does encourage us to store up treasures. I didn’t find the words “office closet” in any of those verses; they all reference storing up treasures in heaven.

So, when the junk begins to overflow in my house I begin to go through and, as my mom always said, rid out. Ridding out isn’t easy. I, like many people, become attached to my stuff. I think, “I may need this someday, it could be important, as soon as I throw it out I will miss it.” Truth is that rarely ever happens. Once I get rid of stuff I forget about it. And life flows along smoothly until the next time my possessions threaten to take over. Then I start all over again. I hope that someday I learn enough to not accumulate, then I won’t have rid out.

As I drove today and thought about this I couldn’t help but dwell on the fact that my physical possessions aren’t the only things I store up. There are those non-tangible things that get stuffed away in the nooks and crannies of my heart, those things that God doesn’t want in heaven either. They definitely aren’t paving stones in heaven, rather stumbling stones here on earth.

Ridding out the closets of my life always gets me to thinking about the closets of my soul. There is a song called “Open Me Up” by Watermark, a Christian husband and wife duo, Nathan and Christy Nockels. In the song they sing asking the Lord to “come clean the shadows and closets of my soul.” My heart and soul needs that good cleaning on a regular basis.

I find it’s not any easier to rid out my soul than it is to rid out my closets. I cling tightly to things that have no purpose or value to me anymore, some never did. It’s easy as I store up those thoughts to think they serve some purpose and to believe I will need them some day, they might be important, as soon I as rid myself of it I will need it. Truth is I don’t and I am better off letting them go.

People talk of spring cleaning. My big cleaning tends to come in the fall. Since the weather will soon begin cooling down and the leaves will begin to change I am thinking of cleaning. It definitely is time for closet cleaning and soul cleaning.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oh my!

I did a real daffy thing yesterday. I have been thinking about what to post on my Friday blog post all week. Yesterday I went to Bible study - the first one for this year. There are some great women in my small group and I am totally looking forward to getting into God's word and to get to know new people. I have been away from church for the last couple of years during the really tough times. It was dumb, but I pulled away from a lot of things in my life as stress built up. I wrote a few weeks ago about coming back to church and coming home and I have to tell you it still feels amazing.

Anyway, I digress. After Bible study the kitty cat and I took a cat nap because last weekend in Wyoming wore me out - more to come on that next week. When I got up I worked on some things for the upcoming Memory Walk and as I did I thought about my blog post. But, when I was done I just turned off my computer and went to bed with my book.  Yes, totally true story, just went to bed and didn't think of it until the wee hours of the morning.

So, sorry for not being prompt with my post. I have been trying very hard to work on the whole meeting writerly deadline thing and getting my blog posts done three days a week are something I am using to instill meeting a deadline in my brain!

I do want to tell you about the book I was reading. It is called Still Alice and is written by Lisa Genova. Alice is a Harvard professor in her 50's when she begins to forget things. Then she misses her period and thinks that maybe the whole thing is menopause. When her period returns and one day she finds herself  in the middle of Harvard Square and not knowing where she is, she decides it's time to see her doctor. After a series of tests and extensive medical history Alice is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease and her life changes.

This fiction story does a great job of bringing to light early onset dementia. Everyone thinks dementia is an old person's disease, but it is being seen in younger and younger people all the time.

I thought the book had a good message and did a good job of presenting Alzheimer's in a way that allows the reader to get a feel for what it is like to have dementia. Lisa tackles all of the aspects of dementia that complicate not only the patient's life, but also their family. I believe it was Nancy Reagan who once said that Alzheimer's is the long good-bye. So true that is. Little by little the person with dementia slips away and each day the loved ones have to learn to live with the changes.

While I felt this book was good at explaining the disease and portraying the symptoms, I was disappointed with the writing in the book. At times it was somewhat convoluted. Some of the conversations werehard to follow. And, I felt the book ended very abruptly without really wrapping up the story. It just kind of stopped. Despite these drawbacks I do recommend reading this book if you are interested in learning more about dementia.