Friday, January 29, 2010

Time Trials

"There's always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt."
-- Author Unknown

Have you ever had one of those OMG kind of days? Those kind of mornings when you look into the mirror and profanity rolls from your lips like Linda Blair? When the reflection in the mirror startles you like an unexpected intruder? When you just wanna crawl back into bed and hope it's all been one crazy nightmare?
Well, if you haven't ever experienced that type of day, then you must be young and beautiful and self-confident. And so, I suggest you go file your nails or fluff your hair- or do whatever it is that beautiful people do.
Because this post is gonna be ugly...

"Old age is no place for sissies." -- Bette Davis
The other day when I was looking in the mirror, I asked myself where all those little hairs came from. Some were blond, others black- and there were even downy looking gray ones. Popping out across my lips and chin like some sort of freaky Chia Pet.
Then, when I finished frowning at the hair- I noticed the wrinkles- deep twists of misplaced skin that gravity has played tug-of-war with for the past few years. And won!
Of course, it didn't help that I was staring into my 3X magnification mirror at the time.
But, the evidence was there, just the same.
I'm getting old.
And there's nothing I can do about it- but die.

“Probably the saddest thing you'll ever see is a mosquito sucking on a mummy. Forget it, little friend.” Jack Handy
I've never been one to use a lot of makeup, but lately I spend more time looking at Cover Girl ads than I do the Weather Channel.
Yet, I become instantly discouraged when I realize that all those cosmetics are simply a type of old-age Bondo. They might fill the wrinkles for awhile or disguise the imperfections, but underneath is an old lady who wonders who she is trying to fool.
“Nobody loves a woman because she is handsome or ugly, stupid or intelligent. We love because we love.” Unknown author
I have no eyelashes left. They gravitated to my chin one night and no one bothered to tell me until I felt them- stiff like ten-pound fishing line- jutting from my chin in the middle of a huge crowd. Have you ever tried to pull one of those suckers with your fingernails?
Not gonna happen.
That's why I never leave the house unprepared. I always carry tweezers- and when not available- a pair of pliers does nicely.
One morning while at the computer, I felt a chin hair, but was too lazy to get up and find the tweezers. So I opened the desk drawer and grabbed a pair of needle-nose pliers and plucked that thing faster than a goose on a bug.
The secret to age is to improvise.
And pray a lot.
Although, paper sacks come in handy sometimes, too.
“During the Middle Ages, probably one of the biggest mistakes was not putting on your armor because you were "just going down to the corner."” Jack Handy
The quote above is just to say that nomatter how old or ugly you are, at least try to mask it well when appearing in public. Do you best to fix your hair, brighten your checks- dress well and emit confidence. You never know who you might run into.
(Especially if you still have that paper sack over your head and it's distorting your vision.)
For example, one October evening, my family decided to all go to one of the local House of Horrors. I didn't have time to dress and put on makeup or do my hair, so I left the house in my "I hope nobody I know sees me" moods.
I came out of that haunted house with a paycheck!
You might be old, but don't be scarey.

"Joy is the best makeup." -Anne Lamott
I've heard those tall tales about growing old gracefully, except no one has ever written an instruction booklet on it. I suspect that those graceful old ladies cry themselves to sleep at night or have temper tantrums in the dressing room just like the rest of us. The difference between them and me is that they are great pretenders. And I feel funny looking like someone I don't feel like.
Does that make sense?
But a cheerful attitude and a winning smile is the very best mask one can wear. Sparkling eyes and a contagious laugh can erase visible wrinkles faster than Olay Regenerist and cheaper than Botox.
Be you.
If that means wearing your age proudly, then just do it.
And it doesn't hurt to be casual, creative and imaginative while you're at it.
"Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art." --Eleanor Roosevelt
Whenever I have one of those OMG days, I try to put it all into perspective. I am alive. I breathe. I feel. I love. I get a chance to spend another day on this beautiful earth.
No one said you have to be young and beautiful to bring happiness to others, to enjoy a glass of wine, giant snowflakes, puppy dogs, corn dogs, thick novels or purple sunsets. To feel joy, pain, surprise, delight and passion.
Our hearts are forever young.
And our eyes never grow old. They never tire of seeing.
Even what is in the mirror.

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return. " ~Mary Jean Iron
Todays Five Things:
1. Birthdays
2. Mascara
3. Magazines
4. Goodwill
5. Walnuts

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Even Tho We Ain't Got Money....

A rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. - Interview with God (Johann)


Money has such an influence in our lives. Every moment of the day- the thought is there-from the moment you awake, until your dreams overtake you.
Gotta get up and go to work (Money). Gotta gas up the car(Money). Gotta grab some breakfast (Money). Gotta pay some bills (Money). Food (Money). Kids (Money). Clothes (Money)...The list goes on.
And never goes away.
Money has definitely been the one subject that has caused the most friction in my marriage. And I think it is typical of most marriages. Pay this. Pay that. Not this. Not that. Save this. Spend that. There will always be a difference of opinion about where the money will come from, where it will go, and who shall spend it-and on what.

" Life is short and nobody ever went to their deathbed wishing they had spent more time at the office." (Charlie Brown)
As a newly married bride, I made the best I could of a rented home, cast off furniture, yard sale finds and creativity. I spent a lot of time dreaming of something better and bigger and brighter.
In one of my old journals, I wrote that I wished I could afford to buy yellow paint for the bathroom and tiny scented soaps and a pretty hand towel. Those wants seem simple and almost pitiful now, but back then- they were huge.
Which only goes to prove what they say about the more you get, the more you want. Simple things achieved -lead only to more extravagant wishes.
And, sadly, the result of never being satisfied with simplicity- is debt.

"The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately- or in the long run."
Henry David Thoreau
The mistake that we all make about money, is that it will keep coming and we will keep living.
To face the truth is painful, but some day very necessary. We will all die. What will that shiny car and new house be worth then? Will all those years of toil and work be worth the satisfaction of lying on your death bed and looking at all those things you bought?
Or rather, will the faces of those you love, bring you overwhelming peace? Will memories of days spent well mean more than money spent well?

“Time is free, but it's priceless.
You can't own it, but you can use it.
You can't keep it, but you can spend it.
Once you've lost it- you can never get it back.”
Harvey MacKay

My husband and I keep saying that we will someday return to the hills of Missouri where he fondly spent some of his childhood. We have often discussed building a cabin or cottage and planning it so that we will owe nothing but our monthly utilities.
But even then- simplicity gets complicated. Where do you draw the line?
At first I said- "one bedroom with a loft", then it was "two bedrooms" (extra for guests).
Then I decided there was no way I could exist without a pantry- a laundry area, a computer center, a screened porch, a garage, and lots of storage.
Back to Square One.
Simplicity is not simple. You have to wrap your mind around it. You have to be content with less.
But also realize that in the end, you will be richer.
"Money may be the husk of many things but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintance, but not friends; servants, but not loyalty; days of joy, but not peace or happiness. " ~Henrik Ibsen

When I was growing up, I never considered us a poor family. But, in retrospect, I suppose we were.
We got two new outfits every fall when school started. We owned a couple of pair of socks and underwear- and hand me downs were priceless. There were ten of us living in a two bedroom house.
But the fact that we were happy and loved- disguised the fact that we were poor.
What price is Happy? Sometimes it must be for the lack of money that we truly discover it.
"To suppose as we all suppose, that we could be rich and not behave as the rich behave, is like supposing that we could drink all day and stay sober." ~Logan Pearsall Smith
My goal this year is to take a better reign on my finances. To cut back where possible, to save when needed, and to set priorities so that the process of debt elimination is painless and quick.
We are in better shape this year than last. Which is a plus.
But- would it not be wonderful to sit back and say- "Let's spend the day laying in a hammock- and come nightfall- watch the stars." And to not worry one iota that eight hours of labor and sweat was not necessary to make it through the day? Or the next twenty years?
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back
and realize they were the big things."
- Robert Brault

I married my husband to live my days with him.
To share sunsets, not a sedan.
To share moments, not a Master Card.
To share kisses, not contempt.
To fondle and not fight.
To live simply, not stressed.
To breathe and not be afraid to keep breathing.
It doesn't take much to live comfortably. And I'm ready to give up all my garbage for a walk in the leaves, the sweet song of the birds, my husband at my side- carving wood or playing guitar-
or holding my hand on the porch swing.
Simplicity will ultimately cost us something. Mostly time. The tossing away of greed. Of competition with friends and neighbors. The gotahaveitnow attitude.

I'm ready.
Like someone named Wu- Men once said, "If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life."
"I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself,
than be crowded on a velvet cushion."
from the chapter "Economy" in Walden

Today's Five Things:
1. Grand kids
2. Pillows
3. Shaved legs
4. Spinach
5. A full moon

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


"Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. " ~Robert Brault

I've been thinking lately, that there is another aspect of my life that I didn't include in the top ten.
What good would being thin and holy and beautiful and married and talented even be- if we are not kind? If we are not good people inside- the outside doesn't matter. We all need to strive to improve our relationships with others.
I suppose that Character could be absorbed by all the top ten on my list. Because it truly must be present in all aspects in order for the gears of life to turn correctly. Not one of those ten things, perfectly done, is a success- if done with the wrong attitude- or a sour heart.
Attitude is key.
And kindness is never wasted.
"Don't be yourself - be someone a little nicer." ~Mignon McLaughlin
Kindness shouldn't have to be forced, faked or forged. And when it is- it becomes transparent, worthless and weak. Don't ever pretend. People can see through it. Hearts get broken, friendships die, and lives are upset.
Being nicer should be natural- easy- and a daily priority. And once you start to utilize your smile and kind words, each day becomes easier- brighter- more enriched with friends.
It all goes back to the simplicity of God's word: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have never had many friends. In fact, I can still count the close ones on one hand.
In high school I knew all the "cool" kids, but didn't hang out in their circles. In fact, I didn't even have a circle. I always felt as though I didn't fit in- wasn't good enough- rich enough- or cool enough. I was reclusive, quiet, stand-offish. But I always smiled, said hello, and brightened someone's day whenever I could.
It doesn't take much to smile and open a door for someone, compliment them on their new shoes, laugh at their jokes and offer assistance. Go the extra mile.
You'll feel better. Because it's contagious.
"A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person." ~Dave Barry, "Things That It Took Me 50 Years to Learn"
I started banking at a local facility here and immediately noticed how unfriendly the teller was. She never smiled, rarely greeted me as I pulled to the window, and "Thank you" was evidently
lacking from her vocabulary.
I could have easily snapped back. Frowned. Become sour whenever she appeared to wait on me. Sneered at her...treated her unkindly.
But I didn't.
I tried to think of excuses for her. She hates her job. She's had a bad day, There are problems at home. We do not know what kind of lives that are led behind closed doors. (Yet, ideally, as a professional person that interacts with the public, she should have set her problems aside until after work hours.)
One day I had just had enough of Sour Puss.
I retaliated.
"Oh- are you wearing your hair different?" I asked, "It looks really cute." (And it really did.)
Her frosty demeanor melted instantly. Her pickle face turned peachy. Her frigid eyes lit up and that frown curled into a beautiful smile.
"Thank you," she said.
With a few kind words, I managed to put kind words back into her vocabulary.
And even today- every time I do my banking there, she greets me with a smile and a bit of chit-chat, and a sincere wish that I have a good day.
"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." ~Anäis Nin
Years ago, when I was in third grade or so, the teacher decided that we should all have pen pals. We picked a name and address off a list and promptly sent out handwritten notes about ourselves in short scribbled paragraphs. I think it was an exercise in writing and not in friendship, but it made us realize that everyone loved communication. Because whenever I got my own letter in the mail, I was ecstatic. My pen pal wrote me!
It may have been just a half page of the weather -or their dog- or something they did at school, but it was a private message- an invisible link- an unsaid friendship that sprung from kindness and concern.
"Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something. " ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
I am so blessed with a new kind of pen pal now.
My blogging friends.
How wonderful to start out the morning knowing that there are people out there who don't care if you're "cool"- don't know that you're wearing stretched out pajamas- and never question your new hair color!
These women may have invisible faces, but they have obvious hearts. Big and full and ready to spread their kindness and share their lives. They are honest. Loyal.Talented.Funny. Sad.
They open up the door to their lives and share their corner of the world. Through words and photos and the telling of their tales.
They may not know it, but they make me smile. Their blogs are like that pen pal letter coming to me in the mail. I'm ecstatic!
As a blogger, it is always wonderful to know you have a new follower. Someone who cares what you say and likes how you say it.
When I went to church Sunday- (Yes! You heard me correctly- it's the first time I'd been to a church service in over ten years! But that's beside the point!)
Anyway...I was introduced to Kathy. A very sweet gal who claims to read my blogs every day.
Wow! A new friend- suddenly visible and real! Thank you, Kathy. I now think of you every time I drag myself to the keyboard and hammer my brain for ideas.
Your kindness gives me the push to create.
And your friendship gives me a silent happiness that cannot be expressed.

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. " ~Henri Nouwen
This year, I vow to be kinder, sweeter, softer. I vow to be more understanding, aware, and considerate of others. I vow to uplift, carry and pull those people I meet who need a shot of
generosity and positive influence. I vow to make new friends, even if we never meet. To do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
To build my Character.
Because when the time comes and my life is over, I hope every person in the room can say without a doubt- "She was kind."

"A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble." ~Charles H. Spurgeon

Today's Five Things:
1. Vacations
2. Tulips
3. Hot showers
4. TV Guides
5. New socks

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Just Leap

" It’s when you’re safe at home that you wish you were having an adventure. When you’re having an adventure you wish your were safe at home. "
Thornton Wilder

My dreams and promises of adventure have remained pitifully small and simple so far this year.
I took a giant leap and drove over the speed limit on Broadway last week. I used my debit card at WalMart instead of writing a check. And I traded sides of the bed with my husband.
Pretty adventurous life I lead, I know.
But, I got to thinking- adventure will not find me. It doesn't live here. It doesn't even know my name!
I have got to go out and find it.
" The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes "
Marcel Proust
Lying in bed the other night, I told my husband that I had been thinking about a vacation.
How neat it would be to travel out west. Just start driving and stop when we see an interesting
landmark or we're too tired to drive any longer. Then just pull over and start our trek again in the morning.
Ever since I saw Lonesome Dove, I've wanted to go to Montana. There was something so alluring about those blue skies and green meadows and snow capped mountains.
While some women dream of a sandy beach, a good novel, a sweet cocktail and a bottle of sunscreen- I've been dreaming of a log cabin and a bubbling creek- boots and booze and buffaloes-tee pees and trails and dusty days that follow me into my dreams.
But, then- after we discussed a possible vacation date, I suddenly got realistic- or scared-
or both.
"I suppose we could just stay home and clean the garage, too." I said.
And he shrugged. "Whatever. Keep thinking about it."
" Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude that we must apply to the day to day obstacles of life -- facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and in the process, discovering our own unique potential "
John Amatt
I guess that is one drawback of seeking adventure. Housework finds you first. Chores greet you on a daily basis. The bank account screams of the doctor bill or the faucet cries out to be replaced. The grass won't cut itself- the garden must be tilled-
Who are we to forgo it all for a taste of the unknown?
Where do you draw the line between responsibility and adventure?
First of all- I think it starts with not thinking at all.
Just doing.
As one old proverb says, "Leap and the net shall appear."
But I struggle with that. I figure we could spend that time and money on much needed landscaping instead of a wild west trip.
You see, even when adventure is looking me straight in the eye, I look away.
Yesterday is ashes; tomorrow wood. Only today does the fire burn brightly.
Eskimo proverb
My mother spent twenty years of her life battling cancer. It was a nightmare of ups and downs. Of hospitals and radiation- of welcomed remissions and bittersweet memories.
One thing my mother always wanted to do was to see the ocean. She wanted to stick her feet in it and look out to where there was no end to the blueness.
During one of her last healthy years, Mom and Dad finally took a vacation. A real vacation. Probably their very first vacation ever. They had spent all those years raising us nine kids.
She loved the ocean- the sun- the loving days that she and Dad spent together.
They could have been prudent and put that money toward hospital bills. But, when Mom died, what would Dad have? Just more bills. And regrets.
It was the memory- the experience- the adventure- that kept Mom living for as long as she did.
She talked about it often with a smile on her face.
And it was the memory of Mom smiling- with her feet in the ocean- that kept Dad going after she died.
You can't put a price on memories.


" Life is NOT a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- ’WOW, what a ride!!! "

This morning I sent off for maps and travel guides of Montana. I might even spend the day searching for things to do along the way.
We may never save enough money or get the time off, but at least I have begun dreaming.
And that is where it starts.
If you let adventure- even the slightest hint of it- enter your thoughts- then you are surely at risk . A risk that soon there may be the possibility of leaping into an unseen net.
Of making memories that money can't buy.
The landscaping?
It can wait.
Because adventure is calling...

And today it knows my name.
“Life is uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time.”
Leo F. Buscaglia

Today's Five Things:
1. Cream Horns
2. Blog buddies
4. Buttons
5. Fried rice

Monday, January 25, 2010

Fresh Tears

"Relationships are like glass. Sometimes it's better to leave them broken than try to hurt yourself putting it back together. " ~Author Unknown

When it comes to family, we try our best to bring them happiness. To nurture, teach, and provide them with all things to make their life more comfortable and satisfying. It is our nature to want to protect them. Watch their steps closely. Keep them within a safe distance- always ready to catch them when they fall.
But, I've come to realize that they don't always want to be caught. That sometimes you just have to let them fall.
Because until they skin their knees and tear their clothes and lose their way-they will never understand your warnings. They will never appreciate the hand you hold out for them- or the pain your heart feels by watching them fall.
"Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it. " ~J.K. Rowling *****
One relationship in my life that I treasure the most, is the one with my sister Linda. We grew up thick as thieves and inseparable- rarely fighting, content on sharing, and steadfast companions.
There was a gap in our closeness- those years we raised our children- worked to keep our household together- lived in different towns- stretched our wings and flew away from that tight circle of home.
But somehow, the path led back to one another. We became acquainted again- as women- mothers- people who had different interests and unique families to share.
We were always there for one another in good times and bad. Always ready to listen, to help, to give advice where needed.
Yet, I have recently learned that sometimes she can't listen, doesn't need my help-
and I'm unable to give her advice about something I know nothing of.
Divorce is like the sweet family dog that suddenly attacks you- and runs off with half your heart.
But she's not letting the dog go. She keeps running after it.
"Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit, and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again? " ~Rosa Parks
There is nothing worse than watching someone you love suffer.
Linda's heartbreak has become mine. The despair and sadness of her life has crept into my life... into the folds of my days like spilled ink. To hear her heart cry out, mine heart has also wept. To see her anger flare, has also ignited mine.
But just like the saying "Friends don't let friends drive drunk"...Well, sisters don't let sisters wallow in the mud without helping them up and rinsing them off.
I just wish I knew how to do that.
"Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us." ~Voltaire
I do know that Linda is a strong person.That divorce will not make her weaker or worse or half of something.
Sometimes it is adversity that makes us better. That opens our eyes- that hushes away the blindness and the illusions.
She has just got to believe in herself.
She keeps trying to look down the road a hundred miles- and wonders how she'll ever make it that far.
One step at a time. One day at a time.
She's missing today's sunrise because she's looking at tomorrow's clouds.

"I don't know why they call it heartbreak. It feels like every other part of my body is broken too." ~Missy Altijd
I can't begin to know her feelings. I can't walk in her shoes, wake up in her bed- live her daily life. It is that fact that disturbs and depresses me. I am helpless.
It seems all I can do is just stand and watch her drown. None of my lifesavers work. All ropes fail. Bridges collapse.
She keeps tearing the net.
But I'm still on the shore, Linda. Listening. Loving. Waiting. Hoping that you'll finally head to shore and delight at the sand between your toes again and the sun on your face.
It's gonna happen.
I promise.
"That was rough.... Thing to do now is try and forget it.... I guess I don't quite mean that. It's not a thing you can forget. Maybe not even a thing you want to forget.... Life's like that sometimes... Now and then for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off and knock him flat, slam him agin' the ground so hard it seems like all his insides is busted. But it's not all like that. A lot of it's mighty fine, and you can't afford to waste the good part frettin' about the bad. That makes it all bad.... Sure, I know - sayin' it's one thing and feelin' it's another. But I'll tell you a trick that's sometimes a big help. When you start lookin' around for something good to take the place of the bad, as a general rule you can find it. " ~From the movie Old Yeller

Today's Five Things:
1. Movie popcorn
2. A good book
3. Flannel sheets
4. Phone calls
5. A new paintbrush

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Didn't Say I Was Martha Stewart!


"I wish I were a white crayon, that way no one could use me. " ~Author Unknown
Although I have ten areas to work on, I seem to see a pattern here. Creativity and spirituality has occupied a lot of my time since the new year.
I probably should have prayed for the correct creative choices, th
ough- or beat the paint mixer at WalMart.
I decided to brighten up my computer area- but I got a little more bright than I bargained for. Don't even need my coffee to wake me up!
"Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. " ~Claude Monet
I needed to paint this area in my home and I had been itching to get a gallon of paint and go for it! I had even brought home the little paper paint swatches and taped them up all over the wall- studied them in lightness and darkness- by day and by night- and fre
tted over my choices.
I originally wanted a beautiful purple/magenta color. (After seeing Avitar). Or a sea green-
or a dark blue.
I finally chose what I thought was a dark ocean, but ended up with neon turquoise.
Who knew?

"The more ugly, older, more cantankerous, more ill and poorer I become, the more I try to make amends by making my colors more vibrant, more balanced and beaming." - Vincent van Gogh
The great thing about WalMart paint is that it is fairly cheap.I could easily go back and find another color, but the labor is what I can't get back.

I decided to live with these walls for a bit, and come springtime- maybe re-do it if it hasn't grown on me. I just didn't have the energy to do it all again, even though it was just three small walls.
Besides, it looks good in the dark.

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." - Anna Quindlen
My husband always makes choices for our home- based on resale value. "No one wants a teal wall." he says. People won't like that- or this- or that way...he reasons.
But I live here. I want this place to be me. My nest. I want my feathers to be comfy and colorful and fit me just right. If I sell it- the new owners can paint it all white or beighe or do whatever makes them happy.
I once had a miniature chair collection that I kept on a shelf, but you couldn't see them very well. So, I proceeded to hammer over thirty holes in the wall in order to hang them up. It was cool. They looked great and I loved seeeing them all - tiny rockers and willows and tin chairs ready for tiny little butts.
I got chewed out for making the nail holes, but it was worth it.
I enjoyed those chairs for several years until I finally gave them away. The holes have been patched and repainted and no one can tell the damage I inflicted with my hammer.
They brought me joy and didn't hurt anyone in the process.
Isn't that's what life is all about?

"Home should be a sanctuary, a place that feels safe and healthy, looks beautiful, and smells wonderful. Seriously... make it a place that you can come to and have an immediate feeling of… Aaaaah. I'm home. Awesome." - Christie Matheson
Being creative doesn't always mean being safe. It is taking chances, looking outside of the box, and not caring what someone else will think of you.
Being creative is knowing there is always a way out- that nothing is ever set in stone. That it is constantly changing and re-inventing itself. And we must open our minds to all possiblities.
And, although this fiesta-looking teal was not my original choice, it is almost like my walls are smiling now.
(Or laughing.)
Either way- they're here to stay for a little while. Maybe forever. Who knows?
At least I wasn't afraid to try.

“Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is.” Charles M. Schulz

***** AFTER

Todays Five:

1. Eggs

2. Phones

3. Candles

4. Boots

5. Sunsets

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Never A Busy Signal

"Call on God, but row away from the rocks." ~Indian Proverb

Let me say first that if you are offended in any way by religion, or God, or all the things that go along with belief in a higher power, then today's post is not for you. X-out of this blog and find another place to go until tomorrow.
Because today I am writing about what is on my heart- and nothing else can be felt or said- until this is condensed into words.
I'm not here to preach, or condemn or convert. I am just here today to share my thoughts about prayer.

"Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines." ~Satchel Paige, 1974

I sometimes find myself guilty of that quote. Sometimes I wait till I am in utter despair before I realize that God can fix things. That He will listen. That all I have to do is talk to Him and He will grant me peace. He may not always give me what I want, but He will always give me what I need.
Why do people only pray when they want something? I think we should pray every day to say "Thank you." To be grateful for another morning, another day of life- and all the beauty and confusion and stress and happiness and good and bad- that comes with it. It's a total package.
You get Life. It's like that.
"Life is like a blanket too short. You pull it up and your toes rebel, you yank it down and shivers meander about your shoulder; but cheerful folks manage to draw their knees up and pass a very comfortable night. " ~Marion Howard
I have been really disciplined in reading my Bible every day. I'm not going to lie and say I understand it. A lot of it is above my capacity to perceive and fathom in my mind. But during those quiet mornings by the lamplight, I know that I am seeking my faith. That regardless whether I apprehend what has been written, I am opening a door in my heart for divine intervention. And with that accepted, I am confident that knowledge will come later.
I'm just dialing the phone. I haven't got an answer yet.
But I'm hanging on.
"The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him." ~William McGill
That is what is so cool about prayer. It is a calling plan that doesn't cost a thing. It takes only a few minutes, no equipment but your heart, and a belief that your call will not be dropped.
God has universal coverage, connects quickly, and you can access him anywhere.
My goal for this year is to pray more. Be more grateful, giving, and appreciative.
And, mostly- not to have any roll-over minutes left.
The Devil's calling plan won't let you use them.
"For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet.... Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?" ~Rebecca Harding Davis
Some people say they don't believe in God. That prayer doesn't work. That they've never seen or talked to Him.
How can you not see Him? I see Him in every whispering pine tree, each blooming flower, a drop of rain, a speck of dust, and in the colors of the sunset.
I hear Him in the laughter of my children, the song of a bird, the wailing of the wind and the beat of my heart.
Sometimes it's easy to just see and hear these things- and not connect them to their maker.
To see with a faithful eye is a good goal.
To open your soul is a good place to start.
"Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman. " ~Author Unknown
What we must realize is that prayer is not just a way to ask God to help us. It is also a way to ask God to help others. Even those who haven't discovered His calling plan.
And, if you can't seem to call on him in prayer, then text him. Write your prayers on paper,
your phone, the computer- anywhere that makes you feel as though your requests have been heard. And a Twitter several times during the day doesn't hurt a bit.

"Dear God, help me."
"Lord, I thank you."
"Where ya' at, today?"

Things like that.

And when your life is over, He's going to see your Facebook.
So live accordingly.

"A little faith will bring your soul to heaven, but a lot of faith will bring heaven to your soul." ~Author Unknown
If I have offended anyone, well...I can't say I'm sorry. Maybe this post will get you to think about prayer and the power that it can have in your life.
It's not a way to tell and get. It's a way to share and hope. It's a lifeline that keeps you connected with the one person who will decide your fate.
Just talk to Him like a friend. He really is your BFF.
I'd say it would be in your best interest to have God on speed dial.
And at the top of your Friends and Family list.
Remember- He doesn't care if you don't have a fancy phone. He prefers the bowed head and folded hands.
"Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week." ~Joseph Addison

Today's 5 things:
1. Pizza
2, Mittens
3. Pay-at-the-pump
4. Violets
5. Door mats

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Songs We Must Sing

"Sometimes you've got to let everything go - purge yourself. If you are
unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.” Tina Turner
There has been a quiet sadness in me lately. A quirk, a frayed end, a little wrinkle on the sheet of my life. A speck of something...A smudge of unknown fiber...A tiny thorn that causes distress when I go about my daily tasks.
I've spent the past few months trying to zoom in on the source- to identify the root and pull it quickly out.
Then I realized a strange thing. It was not something that existed within me.
It was something in me that was missing.
For whatever reason- laziness, lack of time, depression- I had let my creative urges sink to the bottom- drown under the pressure and responsibility of life.
And in not to letting them breathe, I was actually smothering myself.
“There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.” — Martha Graham
Everyone should have a hobby- a creative outlet- a leisure activity that has no time limits or restrictions. You must be able to throw away the clock, ignore the phone calls, and let whatever is in you- flow. Until it stops flowing. Then you can go back to the kitchen and cook dinner or watch the football game or read a book.
Ignoring that voice that yearns for fun is like killing the kid within you.
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” - Scott Adams
I used to always have some project in the works. Sometimes several at once. Maybe that's why there are a lot of unfinished ones.
But it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if you have to throw the entire thing in the wastebasket-
it was time well spent.
Just as if you had lost a round of golf to your buddies. So what? You played, you learned, you enjoyed. You wouldn't refuse to play just because you thought you might lose. And it's the same way with art, with writing, with sewing, with woodworking- with any hobby. The fear of failure cannot exist.
I wasn't afraid when I painted my family room walls eggplant. (I love it!)
There was no fear when I decided that the dryer lint would make a great sculpting medium. (Although I was wrong.)
I didn't hold back when I decided I could write a blog and keep it going for a few months. (June will be 2 years).
Being wrong- failing miserably, or messing up doesn't matter. There are no rules. Nothing is lost.
I find that anything can be re-done, re-figured, re-painted or re-purposed.
Just wad it up and start over.
"Of all the people I have ever known, those who have pursued their dreams and failed have lived a much more fulfilling life than those who have put their dreams on a shelf for fear of failure. " ~Author Unknown
I started painting a new gourd this week. I don't know how I got started in that medium, but so far it has stuck. The only problem is where do you put a bunch of painted gourds? They are difficult to store, hard to handle, and make me sound like a weirdo.
"Oh, I'm the gourd lady." I smile.
Yeah. Sounds worse than the old cat lady.

(Click pics to enlarge)
“There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness'.” ~Dave Barry
This particular gourd started out with it's natural color.
I decided to add some lines and triangles. I put it on a shelf where I could go by it several times a day and look at it.
After awhile, it just wasn't working for me. So, I painted it an earthy red. Added some Indian symbols and stripes to it. Looked at it
for weeks and then realized it was never going to get finished because I didn't like it.
So, I painted it black.
Then added some color with a folded leaf design.
My husband told me it's not his favorite. Translation: It st
inks. That sorta bothered me. I thought about putting it away or starting over again. He has this mind set that if it isn't perfect, why bother?
But, you know- I am willing to keep going because I like it. And that's what matters. It's just going up on the shelf with the others anyway. Giant dust collectors.
It's not like I have to eat it, wear it, or drive it.

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow.” — Charles Brower

Just adding this simple craft back into my life has sealed the tiny cracks- has healed that little wound- has calmed my stressful soul.
I feel happier. More relaxed.
The dirty dishes may be put off till noon. Dinner might be takeout tonight. The dust on the woodwork may have to wait another day.
But it's not killing anybody.

“Today is life-the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.” -Dale Carnegie
So- I'm adding more creativity to my life. Everyone should. Even if it's knitting while watching TV at night, keeping a flower garden, birdwatching, line dancing, co
loring or tinkering.
It is a part of everyone that needs to breathe.
Another of the ten resolutions made better.
“A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away.” -Phyllis McGinley

Today's Five Grateful Things:

1.Old friends
2. Faithful dogs
3. Clean underwear
4. Glue sticks
5. Yellow

Monday, January 18, 2010

Oh, The Things They Remember!

"A child enters your home and for the next twenty years makes so much noise you can hardly stand it. The child departs, leaving the house so silent you think you are going mad. " ~John Andrew Holmes
I never really worried about having an empty nest. Knowing that my kids were going to grow up and leave someday was possibly music to my ears at times. No more fighting over clothes, curfews, MTV blaring, exorbitant grocery bills, lights left on in every room, and the day to day struggles to keep them all on the straight and narrow.
And, most importantly, I knew that my heart would never be empty. I had peace knowing that I gave birth to these children and their lives would always touch mine.
They might have left the nest, but we're all still roosting in the same family tree.

"Your children vividly remember every unkind thing you ever did to them, plus a few you really didn't." ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
Recently, my kids starting talking about the memories of their childhood. Warm thoughts about special holidays, fond keepsakes, family vacations and sweet bedtime stories.
I smiled continuously while I listened- nodding in satisfaction, and basking in a pride that swelled my head enormously.

"Do you remember how Mom used to yell at us?" the middle child asked.
"Oh...all the time,"my son agreed.
"Like a mean witch," the oldest chimed in.
"What???" I choked, practically falling out of my chair,"Are you kids delusional?
I was a
good mother.
"We know that. You were a great mother," one of them said with a smirky smile,
"But you used to tell us that if we didn't do something, you would beat us to a bloody pulp."
I laughed.
And laughed.

Isn't it funny what kids remember?


A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do.
~Lois Wyse

I have been blessed with grandchildren. And one goal for 2010 is to spend more time with them. One on one time. When they visit as a team, they veg out in front of cartoons, eat continuously or compete for my attention. I would love to be able to treat each one to their own special day. One child loves to paint, one loves reading, they both enjoy walks around the pond.
I think it would be great to be able to spend the afternoon playing with them. Curling up in a big soft chair with potato chips and Dr. Pepper- a giant story book- and no deadlines. No schedules.
...Or spread newspapers out all over the dining room table with tons of paints and brushes and canvas. To just let them swirl and dab and create- not worrying if they dip the black into the yellow or their fingers into the blue. No rules. No restraints. Just pure fun.
I want them to remember those times. Times with NaNa. Soft, inspirational, unforgettable days when they bloomed into being.
They will look back on it someday and realize how much I loved them.
Even if I may have, once upon a time, threatened to beat their mother to a bloody pulp.
"Most grandmas have a touch of the scalawag." ~Helen Thomson

Becoming a grandparent is like falling in love. You never really understand until it happens to you.
For years, my older sister drove me crazy with the photographs and stories of her darling grand kids. I secretly rolled my eyes - thinking how in the world could it be so glorious and perfect?
Well, now that I am a grandma, I am sure there are people who avoid me. Who detour behind the soda display or the shoe racks when they spy me coming.
It doesn't help that I practically have a rolling suitcase in hand- full of pictures and drawings and video-
ready to whip out at a moments notice.
"Oh- you have grandchildren?" someone will say.
And after an hour of cooing and giggling and smiling insanely over the pile of mementos, I realize that no one is really listening. No one really cares. They are secretly rolling their eyes.
And, in fact, they are ready to beat me to a bloody pulp.
"My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn't need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle." ~Henry Youngman
My grandmas were always very stern looking. Wore dresses. Hosiery. Rarely carried on conversations. Never took photographs. Never tucked us in or read us books.
I like to think my grand kids consider me fun. And funny. And easy to talk to.
I do wear jeans, utilize my camera at ever available chance, and read bedtime stories. I like to cuddle on the couch with them, watch Sponge Bob Squarepants, and share M&M's. I like to encourage them, compliment them and challenge them. All the while, having them gain respect, adoration and affection for me.

"If I had my child to raise all over again, I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later. I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less. I would do less correcting and more connecting. I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. I'd take more hikes and fly more kites. I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play. I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars. I'd do more hugging and less tugging." ~Diane Loomans, from "If I Had My Child To Raise Over Again"

Despite their distorted memories, I know that I have raised some wonderful children. And that their children are being raised in good homes- with good values.
Even at my age, I am still trying to be a better mom. It doesn't stop when they turn nineteen, or leave home, or have kids of their own.
Being a mom is a lifetime process.
It means having your heart broken a hundred times, but finding it can always be mended.
It means changing with the times, even if it's uncomfortable or ridiculous.
It means giving them space when all you want to do is cradle them.
It means letting go when you can't see where they're going.
It means letting them build their own nest, hoping it is secure and warm and won't fall out of the tree.
It means letting them remember things that you never really said-
and forgiving them if they insist that you did.
"It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. " ~Joyce Maynard
I am hoping that the new year is a year of family time. Of renewed spirit. Of immense sharing and growth. Of reaching out and knowing my children and grandchildren for the people that they are. To learn their hearts, their dreams, and their hopes for the future.
All I can do is be here. To listen. To laugh, To occasionally give advice.
And to beat them to a bloody pulp if they disobey...
I'm still laughing about it kids! You warped little spoiled brats! lol

"Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting. "~Author Unknown

Today's five grateful things:
1. Valentines
2. Cheese
3. Special K with fruit and yogurt
4. Silence
5. Spring

Friday, January 15, 2010

Sisters, Socks, and Salad

"The belly rules the mind."  ~Spanish Proverb
Well, I said that I will concentrate on whatever of "the ten" comes to me in need. This darn diet/health/appearance/body thing just won't leave me alone. I can't seem to escape catching a glimpse of myself every time I pass a mirror in the house. Or hearing voices screaming "help me" from the bottom of the deep freeze- where I've hidden the Little Debbie frozen oatmeal cakes for future consumption.
And, it sure didn't help one bit to spend yesterday shopping for clothes with my little sister. And I do mean little. Makes me just want to take her thin little neck and choke her...
In a good way, of course.

"Jealousy and love are sisters."  ~Russian Proverb

If she had been someone else's sister trying on those small clothes, I wouldn't have noticed. But to realize that our blood and genes are the same- it seems totally unfair that our size charts differ so extremely. 
And to make things worse, I was almost her size just two short years ago.
Until I loaded up on two years worth of food and made slothfulness my little friend.
The cookies and cakes and extra cheesy nachos were not that good. Not as good as it would have been to be trying on fun clothes and having a bit of sass in my step.
Special K with berries: $2.99
Cobb Salad with fat free dressing: $7.25
Grilled chicken with asparagus and baked potato: $10.00
Being able to wear yoga pants without looking like a giant bag of marbles: Priceless.

"A bagel is a doughnut with the sin removed. " ~George Rosenbaum   
I know that the main problem with my diet is that it keeps being postponed. It is always going to start tomorrow, or Monday or payday.  But just like a tiny hole in your sock- if you don't mend it immediately, it finally spreads across the entire heel and toe until it's past fixing.  

I'm a dead sock.
"Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels.  There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one's belt buckled. " ~Frederic Raphael
I don't eat out much. And if I do, it's usually a special occasion or a vacation or a holiday.
(Hey! Isn't Monday Martin Luther King Day?)

The problem with smorgasbords is that they are the only restaurants where you can help yourself to seconds. And thirds. And the entire bakery.
I always lose weight whenever I am a patient in the hospital . No one there ever asks to have seconds of corn flakes, warm milk, applesauce and stiff meatloaf.
"A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money.  Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.  "~P.J. O'Rourke
I  love vegetables. Cabbage, sprouts, squash, spinach, beans, tomatoes...But why is it that they taste a hundred times better drenched in sauce, dressing, cheese or butter? Life is totally unfair.
I realize that I am not doing a single thing by writing all of this. My blog is supposed to be about changing and how to go about it.
I really don't know. I suppose I have to start by making the right choices today. To not put things off. To get up and move. To get my mojo back before I turn into a fat old lady with stretch pants and a HoverRound.
Please- listen and learn. If you are sick and tired of multiple chins, a python waistline and those butt puppies fighting in your pants- then it's time to put down your fork and start today!
I choose to count points. It worked for me before.
I just don't know when I crossed the point of no return. Didn't see that one coming.
"When the world says, "Give up,"
Hope whispers, "Try it one more time."
                        ~Author Unknown

We must have hope. Vision. A good scale.
We must be able to look ahead to see ourselves as we want to be.
I want to be thin and tan and even have cute toes.
I want to run.
I want to play.
I want to live life to the fullest.
And I want to love shopping with my little sister.
(Without wringing her neck). 

"Some see a hopeless end, while others see an endless hope. " ~Author Unknown
Today's Five Grateful Things
1. sock monkeys
2. photographs
3. water
4. smooth rocks
5. Blue jays