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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The day before the last day

Another year is almost over and I have been thinking about all of the experiences that have come my way. This time last year I was having a serious reaction to an adrenal supplement that my chiropractor insisted I needed. She was out of town so I couldn't talk to her about the situation. Following my intuition and checking the product out online I stopped taking it and the symptoms ceased.

For the first six  months of the year I suffered from severe back pain, partly due to a previous injury. I tried many forms of holistic therapy until the day I said enough! I stopped everything and started believing in my own ability to heal. For the most part it has worked. Admittedly I do still have some days when my body decides to let me know it can still hurt if it chooses to. I hate to admit it, but I suppose this could have something to do with age!

Due to snow and ice build up the ceilings in both bathrooms suffered major damage, which was eventually repaired after I creatively scraped up enough money from various sources. Then my 35 year old furnace decided it was time to stop working in the middle of an extremely cold winter. Trying to keep from freezing for a couple of days without heat was an experience I choose not to ever repeat. I  quickly discovered new furnaces are not cheap. Although it drastically reduced my savings I chose to pay cash for it, rather than charge it.

In the spring came the giant weeds; the result of all that snow. Interestingly, when I began attacking the 3ft. high critters, my back problems gradually got better. The quote, "move it or loose it" did come to mind. Also because of the snow I had an enormous crop of apples this past fall. I hate wasting anything and it became quite a challenge to find recipients for the abundance. Again, picking them was another form of exercise. See how clever the universe is?

Mental exercise has come from the writing group I created back in November of 2011. We are still active and attracting new members and new ideas as we go along. Our newest project involves visiting with the residents at our local nursing home twice a month. We are benefiting from the experience as much as the residents are. I also have the opportunity to write an occasional article for our local newspaper on behalf of our group. Being a columnist has been a good fit, since my first experience back in 2000. Who knew? I certainly didn't! It eventually led to books and the blog you are reading.

On this day before the last day of 2012 I think the most important thing this year has taught me is I can do anything as long as I believe I can. My goal for 2013, some may call it a resolution, is to stop taking responsibility for the problems of everyone else. I know I can do it if I just believe I can. Watch me!

Happy New Year to you all!




Monday, December 24, 2012

The best laid plans

Well, I did play hostess last night, but one of my invited guests was missing in action. My son never left Colorado due to a car problem that cannot be fixed until Wednesday. Just a little late for a six hour trip to New Mexico for Christmas. I am disappointed, but I am sure there is a very good reason this happened. Perhaps the expected snow between here and there would have caused him to have an accident if he had come. I will probably never know the reason that my best laid plans went astray, but I am trying really hard to accept what is.

I am happy that my dinner last night went very well. My grandson, who can sometimes be a picky eater, loved my green chile stew and had two helpings. My ex-husband liked my pie and took a piece home with him. We all had a quiet opportunity to exchange gifts. Colin was thrilled with the Air Hog I gave him. In case you are wondering it is a remote control car that can also fly. He gave me a beautiful Hallmark open heart necklace and was especially proud of the inspirational quote that came with it. It read: "Your love has made my world a beautiful place."

The best gift of all was when he asked if he could spend the day with me today as his parents were both working. Of course, I said yes. He had a fun day playing with my new dog Ejay. We even took him to the doggie park. He also brought his new flying car and learned how to make it work. It was a great day.

Even though things did not go exactly as I had planned them it has all worked out. There is also a possibility that my son will be able to come next weekend and spend New Years with me.

Just for fun here is the play dough creation my grandson came up with today. Tiny people riding on  ducks.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I'm moving Christmas

This year Christmas at my house is going to be celebrated on Sunday December 23rd. I don't see that it matters as Jesus wasn't even born on December 25th.

I will have a full house no matter what the rest of my wonderful family decides to do. My oldest son and his dog Leia will be coming in from Colorado. I also invited my youngest grandson and his grandfather, my ex-husband, to join in the feast of green chili stew, fruit salad and apple pie a la mode. The other guests, although not eating at the table, are my two cats and my newly rescued puppy, Ejay.

This will be the first time my son has been home since he spent his year in Kuwait. I am sure there will be some interesting experiences shared.

 It is my intention to allow my grandson to open his gift from me tonight. It is the only way I will be able to see his reaction and it will keep my gift separate from everything else he will get on Tuesday. The adults will have the choice of opening their gifts tonight or waiting for the official day. There is one that will not be opened tonight and that is my son's birthday gift. He is going to have to wait until December 25th, his official day of birth.

Unlike the birth of Jesus I know for sure when my son was born because I was there!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dealing with loss

This morning was the last time my writing group, Write On People, will meet until 2013. The chosen topic was, "Dealing with loss". It has been a touchy subject lately and it was difficult for some members to write about. I know I put off writing my piece as long as I could, but I was happy with the finished product and would like to share my thoughts with my readers.

Dealing with loss
Any loss marks the end of something and makes room for the beginning of something else. Because I know that everything in life is temporary I try to enjoy the good for it will not last forever; and if things are going bad I try to remember that they will not last forever either.

To be honest, my first reaction to loss is usually anger, together with the feeling that I didn't deserve the injustice. That's just the ego speaking loud and clear. I am a really nice person and everything is supposed to be perfect in my life- right? Wrong! If everything were perfect I would never learn a thing.

Although I have never experienced devastating loss such as the death of a child or the loss my home due to a fire or natural disaster I can feel compassion for those who have and express gratitude that those experiences were not on my path.

A period of grief is necessary to get past any loss, learn the lesson it brought and move on. When my mother died I never had a chance to speak to her and smooth out any remaining difficulties. She did not want a service of any kind and I followed her wishes. Instead, I cleaned out her apartment and took care of the remaining details of her life. Even though I believe we do not literally die, if I had it to do over I would at least have a memorial service. My daughter, who was 8 at the time, observed, "One day she was here and the next she wasn't."

I think relationship and material losses have most often brought about positive changes in my life. After I got over the anger I usually saw that the loss was for my highest good. Sometimes this took years to happen. The process caused me to realize that the attachment needed to come to an end so that I could believe in myself and my own ability to grow and succeed.

While surfing the Web regarding dealing with loss I found a very simple suggestion that I want to share. While inhaling think let it happen and while exhaling think let it go. I was surprised to find out it really works and can also be used for stress.

As I look back over the last year I can list a number of personal experiences dealing with loss in all
forms. At the time they were happening I didn't believe I had the strength to cope with them and I had nobody to help me, which made things even worse. I not only coped, but I learned that I can handle anything God and the Universe decide to throw at me.

So if the world comes to an end tomorrow, December 21, as some fear, it will not be a great loss for me. I have done my best to live my life and I am happy with the outcome.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas spirit

Lately things including people I haven't talked to in some time keep coming back to me. Because of a Facebook post by one of my friends about what she would do if she won the lottery I was trying to find something I had written several years ago for a writing contest. It was titled, If I had a million dollars. I was interested to see if my thoughts had changed any. Well I didn't find it, but instead I came across a letter to the editor I had written. It was published on December 29, 2006. My thoughts are exactly the same in December 2012. Apparently someone wanted me to reprint the letter so here goes.

Christmas Spirit
Christmas is my least favorite holiday. It causes people  to run around spending money they do not have to impress everyone they know. In the process, truly caring about the needs of others is lost.

There are many lonely people in our own community who would be overjoyed just to have someone check to see if they are alright. A brightly covered package plucked from under the tree has no meaning for them.

Those who really get the meaning of Christmas celebrate it every day. They look for people to help who are honestly doing their best and might simply need a little acknowledgement to restore their faith in humanity.

Christmas day might be over, but we all have the rest of our lives to spread the message.
Think about it!
Merry Christmas 2012!

Monday, December 10, 2012

He can stay

This morning I changed my mind about Ejay the shelter pup I have had since Saturday. I decided the good out ways the bad and he can stay.

The day has been a "D" day for Ejay. At 11:00 a.m. I checked in with the shelter to let them know my decision. My next stop was City Hall where I paid for him, which made him legally mine. I do feel sorry for his previous owner because he is a pretty cool dog. He was at the shelter for 3 weeks and nobody came to claim him.

After paying his fee my next stop was the local veterinary office, where he really became legal and was given his very own rabies tag. I also found out Ejay is about 9-10 months old and is a Poodle/Maltese mix. He will return to be neutered after Christmas.

Since the doctor suggested he badly needed grooming our next stop was the groomers. When I get him back he will not look like the same dog. All of his matted fur will be gone. After I dropped him off I stopped by Walmart to see if I could find appropriate food, since he has hardly touched what I originally purchased. This time I picked one that was better suited for puppies and since he has had a rather stressful day also added a box of milk bones.

I have done my part to make sure his stay is going to be a good one. The rest is up to him. 
The new Ejay enjoying a doggie treat.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lessons on the go

It seems I just experienced another lesson making sure that I have finally learned to put myself first and stop taking responsibility for things that are not my problem.

Lately I have been thinking that I wanted a dog. I even pictured him to be light in color and about the size of a cocker spaniel. My very first dog as a child was a cocker named Skippy because he was the color of peanut butter. He died of some kind of disease he got after being picked up by the dog pound.

Last week after talking with a friend I stopped by the animal shelter and saw the dog I had pictured. He is about a year old and his previous owner had not come to get him in 3 weeks. He is a beautiful little guy and  was the only dog in lock up who caught my attention. I thought about it for awhile and went back the next day to see if he was still there. He was and I was told I could take him home over the weekend to see how he would fit into my life. I was very grateful for the opportunity because the fee for adoption is $69 and is non-refundable.

Generally speaking the dog is lovable, calm and best of all housebroken. My first problem after bringing him home was that I have two cats, 7 and 8 years old, that I have had since they were kittens. Mine is the only home they have ever known. Trouble began with the very first sight of a dog in their house. The female is afraid of him and the dog is afraid of the male who has attacked several times for no apparent reason.

Another major problem is that I have to keep my driveway gate closed whenever the dog is outside. If I need to go to town I have to open and close it before letting the dog out. it is very frustrating. I haven't had to do this since about 2000, when I had another dog.

This afternoon I noticed that I was feeling very stressed and I put my finger on the cause when I realized that every time I moved the dog was under my feet. I  am sure that eventually I will trip over him, fall and probably break a bone or two. As much as I would like to keep him what this little fellow really needs is to be pared with a family who has a kid eager to play with him.

This time I really have to put myself first and return him to the shelter tomorrow. I was beginning to feel guilty until I realized I am through taking responsibility for things that are not my fault. I really hope a nice family looking for an adorable ball of fur will choose him to take home with them.

 EJ, available for adoption from Grants, NM Animal Care Center, 505-285-4012


Sunday, December 2, 2012

These shoes were made for walking

Well, maybe the shoes weren't, but the feet that were inside were made for walking; and they have done just that for 27,375 days!




That's a lot of days to have filled with experiences. I'm not going to figure out the minutes because that would be plain scary!

Today I am not looking so much at the last 75 years since my current human arrival, I am focusing on the next 25, as I do expect to live to be a healthy 100. Why not? Things are just beginning to get interesting. I have finally decided that I am going to focus on everything that makes me happy and leave the rest,especially those negative people who try to bring me down to their level, behind to fend for themselves.  

So today on the first day of the rest of my life I am not wasting another minute on things that do not matter. As my friend, Paul Soluri, said as he stated his new life mission in his blog post, "I will be kind to myself. I will relax."

I will walk on in confidence with my head held high and a big smile on my face. So there world that is my new mission statement!



Friday, November 30, 2012

Have I learned enough?

Wow where has this year gone and have I now learned enough?

For the last twelve years I have taken every opportunity to try out every piece of information available to me to grow into the spiritual being I was sent to earth to be. Over the years I have read and digested the philosophies of many others, keeping only what makes sense to me.

Back in 1972, while going through the ropes of becoming Catholic, I remember telling my soon to be godfather that life was hard. He in response replied, "Life isn't hard it is easy."

I didn't believe him at the time. Thomas (Tag) had diabetes and eventually had limbs removed and died as the result of the challenges he had been given. Although the reason I dabbled in Catholicism for the next 25 years was because I married a Catholic, Tag was the catalyst for my journey. I remember him telling me that after trying out other religions it made sense to him. In 1999 I decided I had experienced enough rituals and lectures and moved on to other things.

A friend, who as an adult changed his life and became a Buddhist, also had an influence on me. It led me to examine the easy flowing ways of Buddha. Although I had no desire to become a Buddhist it seemed to go along with what Tag had said so many years ago. Life is easy.

My religious experiences up to about age 20 had been sporadic. I was not baptized until I was 34. I mostly learned about the bible stories from the Masonic groups I belonged to as a teenager. I especially loved the words of St. John and the contents of the book of Job. In my humble opinion the bible was written by people like you and me and not by God. I am willing to agree it was the word of god, expressed through the minds of his children.

That brings me to the question of what Christmas means to me. Of course, as a child it meant gifts and because my family didn't have a lot of money they were not extravagant. Many were hand made by my parents, like the doll house from my father and doll clothes from my mother. I don't recall ever feeling that we were especially poor. I guess as a child I judged my life by what was and not what I wanted it to be.  Life is simple when you are young.

I do accept that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. What I do not except is that he is my savior. St. John said, "god so loved the world  that he gave his ONLY begotten son". That makes no sense, when we are also asked to believe that we are ALL god's children. Jesus is my brother, not my savior. He was born because people could not believe in something they could not see. He was born, as all other enlightened souls were, to teach us how to love one another.

And that one word, LOVE, is what Christmas means to me.

A poem I wrote back in 2000 is as true today as the day I wrote it.

One Gift

If you could have one gift for Christmas
Tell me what would it be, someone asked.
Seriously poundering the question awhile
The gift I choose wouldn't be under the tree.

What I really want for Christmas
I told the person who had asked me
Is the most precious treasured gift of all,
LOVE, pure and simple and completely free.

(In memory of Thomas Earl Taggart)
                 1934-2001



 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Apologize please

As I have previously mentioned, as a columnist and free lance writer, I have written and had published almost 60 true life stories about local residents. Because all of my stories were approved by the subject before publishing, errors did not exist. When I occasionally misquoted a person I immediately corrected my mistake and apologized.

I recently had an experience that caused me to look back and appreciate how I had conducted myself as a writer.

A couple of days ago I finally read the article that a reporter had written, after interviewing people attending our Senior Citizen Thanksgiving dinner. I had been the first person interviewed so I was anxious to see how the article had turned out.

 Imagine my surprise when it said that I had moved from Ketchikan, Alaska to Grants, New Mexico in 1976. In one sweep it had eliminated my life from the time I was about 2 until I was 39. When the reporter asked me where I was from I in turn asked, "do you mean where was I born?", to which he answered, "yes". I then offered that I had lived in Cibola County since 1976. Never once did he ask where I had moved from. I would say assuming facts is a huge mistake for any writer.

Even though I distinctly remember telling him that I only ate at the center once in a while, mostly when they served something I don't cook at home, and he wrote I was a regular; I had no intention of asking for a correction. I actually thought it was humorous. Yesterday, I sent the man an email pointing out the error of his ways. His response caused me to regret that I had ever granted him an interview in the first place.

In his words: "Well , No one's past life was totally spelled out. I wrote down Ketchikan before Grants because you didn't mention anywhere else. How was I to know?"

Well gee Mr. Reporter man it was your job to ask! The mistake was yours not mine. Instead of blaming me it would have been nice if you had at least offered an apology.


Friday, November 23, 2012

The second time around

The big day is over and thank you very much for the delicious food I shared with a table full of new friends. My compassionate massage therapist, Lisa, invited me to share the meal with her family.  Today is my turn to have a quieter second time around, staring my very own 10# turkey which had been thawed yesterday and sat waiting for further directions.

The first thing I did this morning was make a pumpkin pie. Yesterday's desserts included mince meat pie, a peach cobbler and an apple pie that was my contribution to the abundance of food offered., but no pumpkin pie. What's Thanksgiving without it? Considering all the calories I consumed yesterday I believe I will opt for no whipped topping today.

Next I made sure my bird was actually thawed and pulled out the giblets to be boiled and later cut up and added to my dressing. Mrs. Culbertson has been my special friend for years and years! At this point I made my two cats very happy by sharing portions of the cooked neck with them. 

Later on I will soak a piece of cheese cloth in white wine and melted butter (as per Martha Stewart), cover the little fellow and place him in my oven; anticipating the wonderful aroma that will soon follow. The rest of tonight's fare will be simple with the big challenge being carving the turkey. It is my least favorite holiday task. It is an advantage when eating alone- no eyes to witness and the bird no longer cares!

Since there is no one to impress I can just hang out in jeans and my favorite sweat shirt for the rest of the day. After dinner the second time around is still not finished. When all the meat has been removed from the bones I plan to boil the carcass, adding carrots, onions and later more broth, small pieces of meat, a package of frozen mixed vegetables and probably a little pasta. Is it soup yet?

Thanksgiving will probably officially end for me about Saturday when all of the leftovers are divided up and placed in containers and frozen to be consumed at a later date, perhaps even offered to my own future guests. It seems the second time around just goes on and on! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude

When I was 20 I never imagined the experiences that would fill my life for the next 50 plus years. The opportunities I have been given to aid in my growth are amazing. There have been times when I would have liked to change the circumstances, but I know that if one little thing had been added or subtracted I would not be where I am today. I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I am grateful for the journey.

Several years ago while serving as a member of a parish council I had an experience that has stuck in my mind. The priest asked us the following question. If your house was burning down (with the exception of living things) what would you save? Everyone gave a different answer, but the one he was looking for was- nothing. The most valuable thing we have is our life.

With all the devastating natural disasters that have occurred in recent years I often think of the survivors who have nothing left but the clothes on their backs. I wonder if I would be grateful for my life if I was one of them or would I curse God for putting me in such a horrific position?

There are many aspects of my life that I would like to improve, but generally speaking when I look around at the lives of other people my age I realize that I don't have a lot to complain about. I am grateful for every person who has come and gone and every challenge I have been given, for without them I would not be me. Most of all I am grateful for the opportunity I have been given to live a human life.

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends, family and especially to those loyal souls who follow my blog!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Perception is everything

Stuff happens every minute of every day and it is up to the person perceiving whether the results will be negative or positive. It only takes a little effort to push it either way.

I had an interesting experience last week while attending an early Thanksgiving dinner provided by our local senior center. While waiting to be served I noticed a well dressed older man looking around deciding where to sit. I wanted to meet him and I silently thought, "Sit at my table and he did."

As it turned out Michael was the new correspondent for a newspaper in a neighboring town. He was interviewing a few people to find out what they were most thankful for.  I felt fortunate to be the first person he talked to. My answer was that I was very thankful for having the opportunity to live a human life. He eventually interviewed the two other people sitting at my table. The food came and he chose to eat his meal with us. It gave me a chance to "interview" him and also put in a plug for my writing group, Write On People.

Michael is a very interesting, well traveled man who has written for seven newspapers throughout the country. He moved from Sedona, Arizona three months ago to accept a writing job that in his words was, "too good to pass up". I assumed he was at least semi-retired. I for one was very grateful to have met someone drifting in from somewhere else. I am finding more and more that, except for the natives, it is how most of us came to live in little old Grants, New Mexico. I know I got here accidentally over thirty years ago.

I found it interesting how different people perceived Michael's appearance at the center. A member of my own writing group said, "I left before he got to me because I didn't want to talk to him."

Yesterday the woman who sits at my table asked, "Who was that "weird" man taking pictures and asking us questions?"

I replied, "He wasn't weird he was very nice".

I tried to explain to her what his purpose for being there was. His article will be published on Thanksgiving Day and I am looking forward to checking it out.

As I said, perception is everything and it is all up to those perceiving.




Friday, November 9, 2012

Sharing and caring

It has been a month since members of our writing group started volunteering at our local nursing home. Our original purpose was to start a writing group with some of the residents. Things didn't quite work out according to our plans. We soon realized that due to physical challenges the residents just were not capable of writing. By our second meeting I decided we needed to come up with another name for the group for reference purposes and "Sharing and Caring" was agreed upon.

Writing is only one method of communicating. Verbally sharing experiences, thoughts and ideas works just as well and is less painful for the physically challenged. After our third meeting with the residents I realized that they were just as interested in our experiences as we were in theirs. The more we shared the more willing they were to relax and share too.

One of the first things we discussed was, "what is the biggest lesson you have learned?"

Marvine said, "Treating everyone the same."

I asked, "Isn't that hard to do when some people are kind and sweet and others make a point of being mean and hurtful?"

Her answer made me think a little deeper. Her view was that it didn't matter what other people said or did it only mattered what she said and did. She was absolutely right. I have thought for awhile that my most important lesson is that I am only responsible for myself. Adding Marvine's thought gave that new meaning. It really doesn't matter what anyone else does. Being true to myself is all I have ever needed to do to be happy.

Harry has a special way of looking at things and is very accepting of his current situation. His most important lesson is that everyone's perception is different. One of his favorite past times is to ask people to look out the window and share what they see. He observes that no two people see the same thing. I agree with him and I believe everyone's view is based on their own life experiences. What makes his opinion so interesting is that his three siblings and two nephews have been blind since birth.

Lenore is a very sweet lady who enjoys meeting new people. She tries to communicate, but it is very difficult for her because she has a severe hearing problem. The activity director is looking into getting her a hearing aid. One of her favorite activities is putting together over one hundred puzzles, which are framed and adorn the walls of the activity room. She also enjoys reading Bible verses to people and helping them see how they relate to their lives.

Although this project is not turning out exactly the way we had originally planned it is giving everyone involved an opportunity to share and care about someone else. I for one am grateful that I took the risk to try something I had never done before. 




Friday, November 2, 2012

Are you my mother?

A friend of mine just wrote a blog post about feeling that she was dropped by aliens in the wrong place and encouraged me to write a post about my travel adventures during my life. Her blog can be found at: http://www.playinganewgame.com/?p=2367

The odd part about this is that last night just as I was about to write a post on my own blog our internet service went out so I never had a chance to carry out my plan. This is the way it started and I am sure you can sense an interesting connection with what my friend Lois wrote on her blog.

Sometimes I feel that my life is a cross between Alice in Wonderland and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz with a smidgeon of Are You My Mother? tossed in for good measure. When I was a teenager I actually convinced myself that my father was not my biological father. My mother insisted that I was wrong. She also insisted that I was premature and my birth certificate eventually proved her wrong.

All of my life I have made every effort to keep my so called biological relatives connected, but it seems I am the only one who cares. I am beginning to wonder if there is a piece to the puzzle that is missing. None of the rest of my family for generations has my height. I find that very odd. Perhaps that is the reason I have always felt a little out of step with questions that have never been answered to my satisfaction.

In the last few years things have happened to convince me that I have a closer connection with my universal family than my biological family. They are the ones that I can count on to really care when I have challenges that are causing a serious problem. When I was in the hospital last year my friend Lois, on her way through New Mexico, made a detour to visit with me. Priscill, another friend, called me long distance just to see how I was doing. I had not met these two people before, except through Facebook.
My biological family never made an appearance.

My physical travels have taken me from Ketchikan, Alaska to three towns in Washington state and two towns in California. I moved around so much that I can't say I had a hometown until I came to Cibola County, New Mexico in 1976. When I first came here I didn't like it one little bit. Living in the middle of the Laguna Indian reservation was not my idea of fun. In 1980 I had the opportunity to move closer to the small western town of Grants, NM. Although it was an improvement I must confess it took many years for me to appreciate the gift I had been given.

This area finally feels like home and at the moment I don't think I would like living anywhere else on this planet. I have found not only the friendship of my fellow humans, but a wonderful connection with the spirit world and all it has to offer. In recent years I have taken some magnificent photos of actual spirits and have had some very interesting experiences with them to share with others.

I guess it really doesn't matter who my human mother was because someone had to accept the job or I wouldn't be here sharing my thoughts with my readers.

My favorite place to be, Riverwalk Park, Grants, NM


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat

Grandma's never run out of kisses or candy

For the third year in a row this grandma will be helping out at our family center Halloween Carnival. My job is to keep the ducks, swimming in a kiddie pool, in line. The tiny costumed customers try to toss metal rings around a duck's neck to earn a prize. I thought my young grandson would be assisting me this year until I got a phone call from him saying, "Grandma I didn't know the Halloween carnival was on Halloween I would rather go trick or treating!" Maybe next year.

In my opinion Future Foundations Family Center is one of the best things that has ever happened to Grants, NM. It gives our youth a safe place to spend their time after school, with no charge to the parents and during the summer with a minimal charge. It encourages our older youth to help with community projects such as the upcoming outreach program to provide a thanksgiving dinner for the area homeless. The Youth Core is helping to cook the meal.

It is also the home of Write On People, the writing group that I started a year ago. Although the group has remained small it does not dampen our spirit or our desire to encourage writers to open up and share their gifts with others. Some of the subjects we have explored during the year are: humorous resolutions, hate, scars, wind, lessons learned, family and friends and volunteering. Our individual writing efforts have also led to some lively discussions.

Last month our group was asked to start a writing group with residents at our local nursing home.This facility is doing a wonderful job of offering projects to help the residents stay positive. After the activity director made the comment "they didn't come here to die" it inspired us to volunteer our time on a regular basis. The motto for the facility is "In Christ's Love Everyone is Someone"

Although volunteering does not reap monetary rewards it gives back in ways that those who don't reach out to help others will never get. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy thoughts

The two things that make me the happiest are cooking and sharing my thoughts so...

Chocolate Surprise Brownies
(from Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson)

1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbl oil
4 Tbl unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ripe banana
2 Tbl instant coffee
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup (vegan) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease an 8" square baking dish.
In a food processor combine the black beans, sugar and oil, blend until smooth. Add the banana, coffee and vanilla.

Scrape mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Scrape the batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack, then refrigerate for several hours before cutting.

Think happy thoughts while savoring this delicious surprise!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Saying goodbye

I began writing this blog almost three years ago and I am seriously thinking of ending its life. I am sitting here wondering who would care? Probably not many people. In the length of its life it has been at least partly responsible for my daughter and one of my twin grand-daughters to stop speaking to me. They both took offense to different things I had written and as a result decided that I am a terrible person that they want nothing more to do with. I was even told by one of them not to ever mention that fact in my books or future writings. Sorry my dear, but no one tells me what I can and cannot write.

This space has over time given me a place to share my opinions, some of which have been shaped by friends and other writers. It has been a place to keep the world up to date on my progress as a human in this lifetime. We all have our own path to follow and did not come here with a book of rules on how to move past the challenges placed before us. I am sure I have pissed a lot of people off during my life. The mature souls get over it. The immature just continue to be pissed off.

It seems lately that I have no more to say and instead of being fun, writing this blog has become a chore. My intuition is saying perhaps it is time to wrap it up and say goodbye. So if you don't hear from me again you will know I listened and pulled the plug. Please know that I sincerely appreciate those loyal readers who have stuck by me no matter what I do or write.

When one door closes another opens.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Looking back on creation

Examining the experiences, conversations and lessons of the last fifteen years or so has provided me with a reason to be very grateful. Interestingly, the experiences that seemed the most traumatic at the time were the very ones that caused me to grow the most.

Those people who by their actions abruptly pushed me out of their lives helped me realize that I never needed them in the first place or I had simply outgrown them. Quite often the student moves past the teacher when the time is right.

Today as I look at the lives of the people who in the past accused me of having negative traits I see those very traits predominant in their lives, especially the tendency to manipulate and control others. That's  laughable from my vantage point.

I remember almost a year ago wondering what I had done to piss of God/Source. Just recovering from surgery, looking at my bathroom ceiling about ready to collapse from snow damage and having to replace a 35 year old furnace in the coldest winter in over 20 years made me wonder what was going on in my life. Now I see they were lessons trying to teach me, hopefully for the last time, that everything was going to be alright if I just had faith in a positive outcome.

My health is back to normal, I have a new furnace, a new bathroom ceiling and by some miracle every bill I owed is paid. I am looking back and asking "Did I do that?"

Today I am very grateful for the experiences I see in my past.






Thursday, September 27, 2012

Speaking of time

In 2000 a lady I barely knew challenged me to write something so she could see if I had talent. She said "You can write about how pigs fly, I don't care." The following is the result of that challenge. After reading it the lady said, "if I were a teacher I would give you an A+." The piece was included in my first published effort in 2001 Spirit With a Positive Attitude.

The Most Precious Gift

If you are alive and breathing, whoever you are, whatever your origin, sex or age there is a gift you share with everyone, whether you want to or not. This gift is invisible, has no scent, makes no noise and can't be touched or tasted. It is the most precious gift you have and without it you would cease to be. We all have an equal amount no matter where we live, how much money we make, whether we are dependent or independent. Neither a high I.Q. nor an important job grants anyone anymore of this gift than anyone else.  It can't be loaned, bought or stolen from another.

We all have 1,440 minutes of time in each day we spend on this planet. How we choose to use these minutes is an individual decision. We are not born with a road map or a list of rules. Good or bad, the choice is up to us, nobody can make it for us.

It is interesting how people with titles sometimes assume their time is more valuable than those without. Adults often think think their time is more important than their children's time, simply because they are adults and therefore deserve more attention. Nationality, tradition and training has taught some men that their time is much more valuable than women's time. If the world ended right now none of us would have time left to worry about it.

Every moment of every day we all have the opportunity to help others by sharing a part of ourselves with everyone we come in contact with. If we realized time could run out right now maybe we would find time to be kinder to each other, to smile more, say thank you, share a thought or help another. Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend every moment celebrating that we have it instead of worrying and fretting about things we don't have and probably don't need anyway?

How we decide to use are allotted time is far more important than who our parents were or how many material things we feel we need to be happy. We can choose to be negative, bitter and hateful or positive, grateful and loving; taking all opportunities to help others help themselves.

(Perhaps the lady was right in the assessment of my writing talent as it led to two hard cover books, two newspaper columns, two Amazon E-books and the blog you are reading. Who knew? I sure didn't!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Time to prepare

Thinking about my newest volunteer project brought new meaning to the thought that everything happens for a reason. If the experiences of the last twelve months had not happened I would not be nearly as prepared to take on starting a writing group with nursing home residents. Instead of thinking why me I now see the reason for everything that happened.

A year ago I spent two weeks in a hospital bed being forced to adhere to the rules set by my doctor and nurses. It isn't that they weren't friendly. It is just that I had to do stuff that was totally against what I had planned for my life. For instance, who wants a tube inserted through their nose and ending up in their stomach? Forget about food, that came in the form of liquid coming from another tube. Because of the experience I can now sympathize with someone who fights living in a  sterile facility where personal freedom is challenged.

My next teaching experience started in about January and continued for six months. It amounted to daily back pain so severe that I almost became an invalid before it ended. Considering that I had previously thought of myself as being very healthy, this was quite a shock. Because of this experience I can now relate to people who through no fault of their own suffer with daily pain.

During these lessons I also experienced how it feels to be totally alone with nobody who cared about my situation. My phone didn't ring and no one stopped by to see if I needed anything or just to offer human contact. I went through all the major holidays last year and this year alone. I am sure many nursing home residents have their own horror stories along these lines. My recent experiences will no doubt cause me to be more compassionate.

Looking at the bigger picture I can see that I needed these experiences and the time it took to live them to better prepare for my next adventure.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eyes wide open

I pretty much have spent my life volunteering for one thing or another. It's a way to get an education without having to pay for it. Because I don't get paid in money I don't have anything to declare as income. I'd like to see the IRS take something from nothing! It looks like I walked right into another no pay job with my eyes wide open.

This morning I met with the activity director at our local nursing home to set up the details to start a writing group for the residents. She had made a comment that really stuck in my mind. It was, "They didn't come here to die."

Most residents simply need assistance to care for themselves. Their minds also need help to focus on positive things and not dwell on the fact that they are living in a nursing home. I am very excited that my writing group has been given the opportunity to bring a little light into the lives of the residents. We are also looking forward to hearing the stories that they have stored in their minds and helping them put them on paper so that they will not be lost to future generations.

Personally I can almost guarantee that this will be another lesson in patience and tolerance for me. Like I said volunteering is a chance to get an education- free. Who knows we might just uncover a wonderful writer on our journey. In any case I am entering this new experience with eyes wide open.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Following the bread crumbs

Interesting things happen when you follow the bread crumbs offered by the Universe.

Recently I listened to a story from an acquaintance and knew without a doubt that I was supposed to write about the person's experience. I wasn't sure exactly how I was supposed to share the information, but it ended up being my Sept.6th blog post "Food for thought".

I gave a copy to the person I had written about and she loved what I had created. After making a couple of minor corrections she asked me to give it to the Social Services Director of  Grants Good Samaritan Center. Again I didn't know why I was supposed to do it, just that I was.

I stopped by his office yesterday and we had a nice chat. I had previously worked at the facility and we touched base on employees that I knew. I also discovered that he was a neighbor of mine. During our conversation I mentioned that I was an author and had started a local writing group, Write On People.

One thing led to another and  a light went off in the director's mind. He suggested starting a writing group for the residents of Good Sam who are still mentally alert. I saw the light and caught his dream. What a wonderful idea! As a columnist I had written about a resident, but had never approached the subject from the other way around. The more I thought about it the more excited I became.

Sometimes Ideas need to mature. This morning I realized that I could easily go to the facility and start a group just as I had with Write On People last November. This would only involve me volunteering a little of my time and sharing my passion with the hope of inspiring others to put their thoughts on paper. There was another option that would expand the idea even further.

This morning my writing group met and I mentioned the idea to the members to see how they would react. I approached them with the thought that I could do it myself or...we could do it as a group. It didn't take much convincing to adopt the second option. Everyone saw the benefit of the project and wanted to be part of it. One of the last comments was, "You lead and we will follow."

Residents of nursing homes don't have a lot to look forward to on a daily basis and they are in constant need of the human touch. Just having someone talk to them can make them happy. I can imagine that having others listen to them and believe that they still have something worthwhile to share would do wonders for their self-esteem. I can also imagine the storehouse of knowledge we as a group will be gaining in return.

We are looking forward to the opportunity to be of service to others. Following the bread crumbs can be a win win experience.




Saturday, September 15, 2012

Prejudiced

Because of my life experiences I did not grow up prejudiced against any race or nationality, which may be why I ended up in Grants, NM. While the Resource Development Coordinator for Grants Good Samaritan Center, I went out of my way to include everyone, pointing out that there are more than Spanish and Native Americans who reside here. One of my most successful ventures was the "Ethnic Evening of Entertainment", featuring talent from local residents and even included a bagpiper from Albuquerque. An array of desserts from around the world , provided by the staff and my Advisory Board, was thoroughly enjoyed during intermission.

Not long ago I had the pleasure of having a Facebook friend who is Muslim and lived in Libya. At first we had some problems communicating, but soon enjoyed exploring the differences in our culture and traditions. We also discovered a strong spiritual connection between us. Nora eventually stopped writing and I pray that she and her family are well and safe and did not suffer because of a senseless war.

Although I do not harbor prejudice against people's race etc. I cannot honestly say that is true of the negative addictions some display. Another word for prejudice is intolerance. This again is due to my personal life experiences. The major biggies in this category are addictions such as alcoholism and habitual liars. I believe that both of these negative habits create a screen for people to hide behind. Of course, everyone has their own reasons for doing the things they do and everyone has their own path to follow, which has nothing to do with me.

Summing things up I would say any prejudice I have is not because of how people were born it is because of what they choose to do after the fact. Perhaps that makes me more judgmental than prejudice. I recently found a very powerful affirmation along these lines from a book titled, The game of Life and How to Play it  by Florence Scovel Shinn, originally written in 1925.

"I salute the divinity in you; I see you as God sees you- perfect." Perhaps if we all saw each other that way prejudice and judgement would be eliminated. After all we all came from the same Source.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Second thoughts

Yesterday I wrote about some annoying visitors who rang my doorbell after dark and then proceeded to park in my driveway for at least 15 minutes with their headlights on full blast. My solution last night was to close my front gate keeping them from entering. At first I was going to include a beware of dog sign and toyed with the idea of tying the gate shut. Then I decided a closed gate would send the message I was aiming for.

This morning I thought about my reaction and decided it produced a picture of fear. Is that what I wanted to project? No way! I am not a fearful person and I will be damned if I am going to let some idiot that I don't even know turn me into one.

Although I do have the right to open or not open my door after dark I will take a different approach tonight. If these rude people return for the third time I plan to go out my back door, approach their car and loudly tell them to get the hell off my property unless they want to pay rent! So there people!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Annoying visitors

Living alone in a rural neighborhood can cause caution. I am not generally a fearful person, but as I have aged I have begun to develop common sense for my own welfare.

Twice in the last few nights someone has rung my doorbell after dark. Peeking out the blinds I do not recognize the car nor the occupant. I am not sure if it is a male or female, but I do know it is no one that I know. What they want is their business. What I am going to do about it is mine.

Last night the car sat in my driveway for at least 15 minutes with its headlights on. I almost called the sheriff's office to investigate the situation. What really upset me was the fact that it caused me to miss most of the final episode of Army Wives because I kept checking on the car.

My property has a chain link fence around it with a ten foot double gate and tonight I am closing the gate. I decided against putting a lock on it because if there were a fire or medical emergency it would cause a delay in help. My creative mind went to work and I chose instead to attach a large BEWARE OF THE DOG sign to the gate clearly visible to the street. Now I don't really have a dog, but I could teach my protective male cat to pretend he is a mountain lion if necessary! Anyway just the thought might do the trick.

Ordinarily I like to have visitors stop by, but at night without previous notice it is just plain annoying.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Food for thought

Today I decided to go to Senior Citizens for lunch. Although what was served did not resemble the chicken fajitas on the menu it was good in a strange sort of way. While waiting for the food to be ready I listened with interest to a table mate relay her experience with our local nursing home, Grants Good Samaritan Center.

A couple of years ago now 82 year old Jackie stepped out of her bathtub heard a crunching sound and realized she had somehow broken a major bone in her foot. She managed to summon help and was rushed to the capable hands of a surgeon who happened to be on duty that day. After surgery and a stay in the hospital she was moved to our local nursing home, until she was healed enough to go home and fend for herself with the help of a friend.

Having briefly worked at Good Sam several years ago as the Resource Development Coordinator, I was very interested in what she had to say. Both of my ex-husband's parents were also residents of the facility at different times so I had formed opinions from both sides of the coin from personal experience. I was not prepared for Jackie's refreshing outlook.

She actually said, "I had fun!"

I don't believe I have ever heard a patient make such a positive remark about their stay in a nursing home. Because her only problem was a broken foot she pretty much had the run of the place, with I assume the assistance of a wheelchair or walker when needed. She said she would sit at the entrance and greet visitors. She soon became the official greeter for the facility. She also felt it was her job to watch out for residents who because of dementia were not allowed to leave the building. Adding to that was her duty to get help from the nurses for patients who needed assistance. She said it was her job.

Jackie had only good things to say about the friendliness of the staff, the cleanliness of the facility and the quality of the meals. She made her stay sound more like a vacation than a negative experience. She said when visitors came to see her she was never in her room. Friends had to wander around the halls looking for her.

What impressed me more than anything was when she talked about befriending an Alzheimer patient. This really hit home because it was why my mother-in-law had briefly been a patient in the past. I can remember trying to communicate with her and becoming so frustrated because I had to say the same things over and over. It was like trying to talk to someone who didn't understand English. Listening to Jackie's story made me feel a little guilty about my previous impatience.

Instead of trying to force the Alzheimer patient to come into the present she stepped into the other person's world, wherever she was at any  given moment, and gently attempted to reason with her. Because of her approach someone from administration asked if she had training in psychology. I think she just had training in life.

Although the food was questionable today the food for thought I was given was unbeatable.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A gift from me to me

Labor day as with most holidays pretty much went unnoticed in my life since I usually spend holidays without family. I did have a dinner guest on Saturday and cooked one of my favorite company dishes, chicken Parisienne, cooked in my still working crock pot. Hey I don't throw things out just because they are old. Mixing and matching is always a good idea.

Yesterday, the actual holiday, I did treat myself to dinner out and enjoyed a delicious Reuben sandwich with french fries and a pickle. It was a meal I probably wouldn't cook for one. On the way out of the restaurant I picked up a tiny sample of a mint covered chocolate big enough to call dessert.

Needing to pick up a few things I was then off to visit Wal-Mart, the biggest store in my little town. I explored the bedding department because I have been wanting to replace my bedspread. I had checked some out online, but they were more than I wanted to spend. Maybe just maybe I could find a set I liked in the store. Ask and it will be given they say. I spotted exactly what I was looking for and it was even on sale. An elegant set in rich earth tones now adorns my bed.

It makes me feel as if I am in an expensive motel room without the added expense. I have been wanting to take a vacation!

Two years ago I replaced my bedroom furniture which my ex-husband and I purchased in 1972. It was time, having replaced the mattress shortly after our divorce. The new furniture also coincided with my darling daughter removing me from her life on August 30, the day before she turned 32. I looked at the new furniture I had purchased as a celebration of having agreed to carry another baby at the age of 41. I didn't have to do that. A lot has happened since then on my journey to evolvement.

This morning as I looked at my new bedding purchase Labor Day had a whole new meaning. It actually made me laugh. This particular weekend will always remind me of being in a hospital waiting to be allowed to bring my last child and only daughter home, but this year it's all about me and what makes me happy. Right now the gift from me to me is a very good start in that direction. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beyond survivor

I woke up this morning with the thought that I am not a victim I am a survivor. In recent years I have often referred to myself as a survivor in the various pieces I have written. I am not sure that it ever really sunk in that I am no longer a victim. The shift in thought changes a lot. It creates a much stronger person. It was not until later in the day that I decided to Google victim vs. survivor. Apparently it was time for me to move beyond survivor.

First I found some great definitions that made sense of the whole matter. A victim is someone who was harmed by another or by an event. A survivor is someone who continues to live and succeed despite being a victim. The eye opener for me was a thriver is someone who can put bad experiences in the past and live in the present.

Assuming the role of survivor is a constant reminder that someone or something caused you harm and it continues to give that person power in your life.

Checking things out further led me to a wonderful website that compared all three groups. http://www.cbwhit.com/Victim-to-survivor.htm

It lists 24 items that allowed me to see just how far I have come. It made me really happy to be able to check off the majority of items on the thriver list. Apparently I have grown before my very eyes and no longer fit in the survivor column. I did not see that coming at all. One of the most meaningful comparisons was victim=hopeless, survivor=hopeful and thriver=faith in self and life.

I am grateful to have found something beyond survivor.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are you dead yet?


I just finished another Kindle book titled Time Off for Good Behavior. It is never going to be on the best seller list, but I enjoyed it. The main character was a woman whose thoughts and actions were slightly different than most people, especially concerning justice. Her ex-husband drank and smoked to excess, among other not so nice traits. His doctor gave him months to live if he did not shape up. He didn’t change his negative habits and when the time ended he was still alive. She wanted to sue him or at least the doctor who had issued the proclamation.    

Now most people wouldn’t find this funny, but when I read what she wanted to do I couldn’t stop laughing because I could relate to her situation. I had a similar story about my ex-husband.

The man has spent most of his adult life drinking and even though he won’t admit it, it played a big part in my seeking a divorce 13 years ago. I couldn’t take the lies anymore. Since that time he has been admitted to the hospital more times than I can count for alcohol related problems. About five years ago his doctor actually gave him two days to live. Our daughter and his two stepsons were notified and dropped everything to come and say goodbye to him. They even checked out the mortuary and made a tentative selection for a floral arrangement at Hallmark.

The man is still alive and like the character in the book there was a time that I wondered if I could sue the doctor. To add drama to the story the doctor is the same one who performed my emergency surgery last year. In my case I didn’t do anything to cause my problem except reluctantly agree to radiation 23 years ago, which created scar tissue. In my ex-husband’s case he did everything he could to thumb his nose at God, causing his own life threatening condition.

To give him a little credit he did finally get the message to stop drinking, but still smokes. He is now the parent that two of my adult children are attached to the hip to, while completely shutting me out of their lives. Perhaps I should write a new book!

Sometimes things happen that are just so freaking funny I can’t help laughing.  Do you suppose this is a test to see how I am going to react? God is supposed to have a great sense of humor. I could wish my ex-husband dead, but instead I think I will just sit back and watch the end of the movie. Nobody lives a human life forever.

Monday, August 27, 2012

An inventory of your life


Today is the day I chose to respond to our latest "Write On People" writing challenge; An inventory of your life. Makes one think doesn't it?

My personal inventory changes on a daily basis. Items such as knowledge or material possessions are frequently given away or shared with other souls who need them as much  or more than I do. I do not believe anything is ours forever and if we don’t share what we no longer need there is the danger of becoming a hoarder. Our life piles up with so much unnecessary stuff that we no longer appreciate anything we have.  

There was a time not too long ago that I took responsibility for the problems of everyone in my life. I was recently given the opportunity of going back and discovering the root of this behavior. Understanding leads to change. Since then I have begun to let go of this negative controlling tendency and now allow others to live their own lives, without my help  It is not necessary that anyone else notices this positive change; only that I do.

The only beings other than me that I am still responsible for are my two cats, Ebony age 8 and her first born son Smokey age 7. Since they have no other means of support they depend on me for food and water and a little attention now and then is appreciated.

I believe the most valuable item in my inventory is good health, which I have worked very hard to achieve. My emergency surgery almost a year ago taught me to never take my health for granted and to do everything possible to respect and take care of the body that temporarily houses my soul. If the body no longer exists the soul will need to take up residence elsewhere and I am definitely not ready for that to happen.

The next most valuable item is freedom to do whatever I want to do. I have no one to check in with except me. After a total of 40 years married to my two husbands and raising three children, pretty much alone, it is a great feeling to be on my own. If I want to sit around in pj’s until noon or write until 3:00am I have no need to explain my actions to anyone. Of course, I realize I am totally responsible for the consequences of my decisions. That’s only fair.

 Among the items without price tags are my universal gifts of inspirational writing and spirit photography. Although they are still in the baby stage, I know if I continue to follow my strong instincts I will eventually be told what is to become of them. In the meantime the journey has led me to an interesting and unusual array of spiritual experiences and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given to grow.

Among the material items in my personal inventory are a paid for house and car. I literally owe no one anything, which is a lot more than most women my age living on their own can say. I periodically go through my possessions and reduce the clutter in my life. I know I am not taking anything with me on the day I leave earth except what I have learned on my journey to evolve.

Today my personal inventory consists of everything I need to be happy and I am grateful for it all.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Connecting the colors

I always find it exciting observing the way things connect when I am paying attention to the guidance provided.

Last night I invited a friend to my house for dinner. She had been away from town for several months staying with her children in another state. For the last three years she has been trying to sell her very nice home in an exclusive part of town. Most people in this area could not afford the price and she is depending on a professional family to move here and take it off her hands.

My friend has been a widow for six years and desperately wants to move from our small southwestern town. She literally hates living in Grants, NM. She hates the town because in her opinion there is nothing to do here. Most of all she hates the people because in my opinion she is the most prejudiced woman I know. I am thinking that God/Source is trying to teach her a lesson and just as soon as she learns it her house will sell and she can move on.

I have learned myself that when we don't truly appreciate what we have we are stuck right where we are. Nothing much is going to change. I have recently begun to look around at what I have with a more grateful attitude, knowing that it is a whole lot more than most women in my position have.

After she left last night I began to wonder what in her past life has caused her to become so prejudiced. My next thought was, why does it upset me so much that she is? Is it possible that I might be a little prejudiced myself?

I remember moving to the Laguna reservation back in 1976 and the thoughts I had at the time. I pretty much believed all Native American's were a lazy bunch of people. It didn't take me long to realize that my opinion was flawed. I was at the time married to a man who was 1/4 Laguna and never gave that much thought. Even when our daughter was born or my son, from a previous marriage, decided to marry a Native American it really didn't matter. The next step was when one of his daughter's married an African American, producing my first great-grandson who will turn two in a couple of weeks.

I grew up in the State of Washington in a time when skin color was not part of my experience. It was not until I moved to California in the 1960s that I even noticed. At that time it was due to illegal immigrants from Mexico. I worked as a supervisor for a garment manufacturer owned by a man from India. It was referred to as a sweat shop, even though it wasn't quite that bad. I don't believe the experience caused any bad feeling toward the employees as a group, except that I didn't think it was right that they were illegally taking American jobs.

A recent experience while walking in the park got my attention and caused me to question just how accepting of other races I have become, while living here. Our park attracts people who have a problem with alcohol and sometimes sleep there during the night. It is fair to say they are usually Native Americans. As I walked I spotted a group of these drunks sitting on a bench on my path. I became alert. I also noticed a man and a woman sitting on another bench with a group of ducks and geese surrounding them. I at first thought they were part of the drunk group simply because they were obviously also Native American.  

Lesson coming up!

As I approached the couple I noticed the McDonald bags on their laps and that the ducks and geese were loudly begging for a handout. I started laughing because their honking and quacking was so loud. When I realized I had been wrong in my assessment I stopped to chat with the couple. We were observing the ducks when I commented that some of the younger ones had some pretty strange colors. Some of the adult ducks are white and some are Mallards. We decided there must have been some odd bedfellows in our little park. Apparently ducks don't care what color the skin is.




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Experiencing to share

I just finished reading a wonderful book titled, Sarah of the Moon by Randy Mixter. I have been taking advantage of the free books offered by Amazon's Book Bub and the free Kindle for PC application that my son added to my computer last year. Free is sometimes a good thing, especially when you live on a limited income.

This particular book was about a young writer who was sent by his Baltimore newspaper editor to tap into what was going on in San Francisco in the Haight-Ashbury district in the summer of 1967. This period was known as the "summer of love". Alex, was the passionate writer who lived among the tenants of a large house right in the middle of hippies, flower children and peaceniks.  This was a time when pretty much everything was free, including love.

He sent weekly articles back to his editor and learned as he wrote that drugs were not what the peace movement was all about. It began as a dream for global peace. The dream was ruined by the radicals and weekend hippies. It reminds me of what is currently going on in the world today. We all want peace, but when groups ban together for a cause it quickly changes to something completely opposite. Asking and expecting soon turns to demanding and the next step is innocent people being injured and killed.

In 1967 I was busy raising my two young sons and trying to make the best of a bad first marriage. We had just moved to Downey, California and hippies were not part of my life. I really didn't understand what was going on. Reading this book gave me a new view of life in that time.  It also served as a reminder that we all have our own path to walk. What is right for one is not right for everyone.

Oddly one of the quotes from the book seems to fit my life in general. It was "Alex was outside looking in". He fit in and was part of what was going on, but was able to step back and write about things he experienced from a detached place.  A therapist once told me it is impossible to be in two place at once. Wrong!

In an odd way that could apply to my life. It seems I am always experiencing to share, as if my life is a smorgasbord for others to nibble on. Like the flower children of 1967 my quest is to find peace.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nothing is ours forever

Yesterday I was introduced to a little book titled, Simple Living, written by Sister Jose` Hobday. She was a Franciscan nun whose mother was Seneca Iroquois and father was part Semole and a Baptist Minister. She died in 2009 at the age of 80. According to her biography she was holistic long before it was in vogue, encouraging others to have a zest for living and to experience the spiritual life with all our senses.

In a passage from her book she talked about taking an inventory of our possessions and giving things to others that we no longer need. She suggested keeping the things that fall into these four groups: needs, helps, preferences and luxuries. It caused me to think about all the things people acquire during a lifetime. Even those of modest means usually have much more than they actually need.

It also caused me to think that nothing is forever. Not one material thing or person belongs to us. They are only loaned to us for as long as we need them and then it is time to pass them on to the next person. Even our children do not belong to us forever.

Tomorrow I plan to attend a memorial service for a friend. A little over a year ago this man moved from his daughter's house to one of his own, even though he was in very poor health. The reason he did not consider an assisted living arrangement was because he had too many possessions that he could not part with. Now someone else is responsible for what he didn't need in the first place.

When my mother died it took us ten days to go through her apartment. Most of what she had accumulated over 76 years ended up being donated to charity, which did help others eventually. Since then I have made it a point to routinely go through what I have and find an appropriate home for what I no longer need.

I have decided it makes good sense to travel light, appreciate what I have and share what I no longer need because nothing is mine forever.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Photo motivation

This morning one of the members of my writing group brought us a collection of photos to choose from and then write a paragraph about. Photographs are a great motivator when your mind gets stuck. This is the picture I chose.
This picture reminds me of the path one takes on their human journey. The varied leaves with their unique colors and shapes are the experiences we have. Some are dried as if they represent memories long buried in the past. Some are still fresh. The rocks and water represent the obstacles on our path. As in our life journey the furthest view is slightly unclear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Surviving a year's worth of lessons

Yesterday marked the return of my oldest son to his home in Colorado. He spent the last 12 months in Kuwait working as a civilian on a military base because he could not obtain a job any other way. That's pretty sad considering he has spent a good part of his adult life serving in the military in one form or another. I am anxious to find out how this experience compared to his Desert Storm days, literally living in the middle of sand. Some day perhaps he will write a book of his own. In the meantime I am very  happy he survived his journey in one piece.

I had no idea when he left last August that a month later I would be having emergency surgery and spend two weeks in the hospital. The rest of my year was one little challenge after another. When I look back at the variety of physical and monetary tests I was given I really have to laugh. Of course, none of it was funny at the time. Especially when I had to purchase a new furnace in the middle of the coldest winter we have had in twenty years. If someone had written a very bad script for Lifetime TV that could have been the story of my life during the last year.

Another thing that makes me laugh today is the number of sources I thought I needed to help me get out of the ridicules mess the universe decided to pile on me, all in one year. The books I purchased and read, the people I turned to, the web sites I tapped into for advice and support boggles my mind. Most especially is the amount of money I spent seeking medical help for problems professionals no doubt caused in the first place. 

This has been a year's worth of lessons and I am glad it is coming to an end. Actually, the lessons started way back in 1999 when I decided I didn't like my life and sought the help of a questionable friend to end a 40 year addiction to nicotine.

No matter what has happened in the last year and beyond there is now no doubt in my mind that I am a survivor.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

People come and people go

Through our lifetime there are many people who come and go. Often they stay for a short time helping us deal with a stressful situation. They can also stay for years; until the day something is said or done to tell us it is time for them to move on.

In my life it seems these significant people with their lessons to teach have for the most part had something to do with the issue of control, which I have concluded is my life challenge. Some of the nicest people are the biggest control freaks around. They are so good at what they do that they often go undetected for months and even years.

When someone thinks they have tuned into absolute truth watch out for them. There is no such thing. Truth is based on each person's life experience. What is true for you is not necessarily true for me. I have learned to trust myself based on the experiences I have been given. That is what is true for me and when someone else tries to impose their beliefs on me I delete them from my life. If it doesn't feel right it isn't. No explanations are needed. 

I have been divorced twice, once after 13 years and once after 27 years of marriage. Both times I woke up one morning knowing it was time to end the relationship because it was interfering with my life. There was no need for further discussion. I knew in my heart it was the right thing to do for my growth. I might be financially better off if I had stuck it out, but money isn't everything.

A couple of days ago I deleted a friend from my life who has been supportive during my recent trials.  I saw that she was interfering with my ability to take care of myself. Her reaction was, "Okay Barbara, but I will continue to pray for your healing."

My reaction was, "No you won't!"

I informed her that I neither want nor need her to pray for my healing. In the first place it indicates that I am somehow flawed, which is not true. In the second place it shows how controlling she is. Does she think my voice is not strong enough to reach the ears of the Creator without her help? Well my dear deleted friend I am perfectly capable of praying for myself if that is what I choose to do; or I could accept that what is happening in my life is exactly what is supposed to happen and be grateful for the opportunities offered to evolve my soul.

Life goes on and people come and people go.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XG4kZjR7z_s
link to video "Reason, Season or Lifetime"

Friday, August 10, 2012

A shared story

Today I am sharing an inspirational story I found on the web site, "Happiness is Your Birthright".  I can't credit the author because I am not sure who that is.

This story is about a beautiful, expensively dressed lady who complained to her psychiatrist that she felt that her whole life was empty, it had no meaning. The lady went to a counselor to seek out happiness. The counselor called over the old lady who cleaned the office floors. The counselor then said, "I'm going to ask Sukhan here to tell you how she found happiness. All I want you to do is listen to her story"

"Well, my husband died of malaria and three months later my only son was killed by a decoit. I had nobody...I had nothing left. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat, I never smiled at anyone. I even thought of taking my own life. Then one evening a little kitten followed me home from work. Somehow I felt sorry for that kitten. It was cold outside, so I decided to let the kitten in. I got it some milk and the kitten licked the plate clean. Then it purred and rubbed against my leg and for the first time in months I smiled."

"Then I stopped to think, if helping a little kitten could make me smile maybe doing something for people could make me happy. So the next day I baked some biscuits and took them to a neighbor who was sick in bed. Every day I tried to do something for someone. It made me happy to see them happy. Today I don't know anybody who sleeps and eats better than I do. I've found happiness by giving it to others."

When she heard that, the rich woman cried. She had everything that money could buy, but she had lost the things which money cannot buy.

(Originally shared by Mahaj Helix)


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Help me!

Last night I had dinner with a friend to catch up on things that had been happening in our lives during the summer. People get busy and disconnect on and off. In listening to her story I got more than I was expecting. It also started me thinking about my own current situation of being alone with nobody to help me.

Granted living alone does make one strong because you are all you have and if you don't do something who will? As age creeps up it also causes worries not usually found in a younger person. The what ifs start popping up. What if I should have a heart attack and nobody found me for a week or two? What if I had an accident and lay on the floor bleeding to death? Would anyone check to see if I was ok? In my case probably not and that's a pretty scary thought.

My friend, who also lives alone, told me about a very traumatic experience she had recently dealt with. It led me to evaluate my own life. She accidentally got locked in her bathroom for thirty hours. The room had no window and her front door was locked with a deadlock. She is a diabetic who takes daily medication. She only had access to water. Eventually a neighbor did rescue her by removing her glass patio door from its track. She was physically fine, but the experience scared the hell out of her! My friend also has family who cares and I am sure someone would have checked on her in time.

Her story also reminded me of the terrible snow storms we had last winter. Granted, my son-in-law plowed my driveway, but I still couldn't even drive to the store. The roads were ice packed for a couple of weeks. Nobody checked to see if I needed anything- like maybe food or toilet paper. I was a prisoner in my own house. This year I intend to take a page from the Mormon's and I'm stocking up on essentials.

Most people I know have family they can count on to help, but what about those who don't? I fall into that category and it led me to think about possibilities. What if these "alone" people could be gathered together and connected by a phone call every day or so just to make sure they are alright? If they didn't answer the phone further checking could take place. Best of all it wouldn't require any money, just someone who cares enough to help.

I have found that one question always leads to another so I'll let you know what comes next. 








Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fake it til you make it

Today I am turning my blog over to a very special friend who is one of the most inspirational women I have met in a long time, guest writer Jaylene Welch. This is her story.

Fake it til you make it
My name is Jaylene Welch, I am a 43 year old woman who is just finding my way in the world. I have had a pretty good life. It's far from perfect and I've been through some heartbreaking times, but overall I've managed to paint a nice life. I'm healthy, I have friends and family that love me, three children, two granddaughters, a roof over my head and a job to support me. I feel very blessed and extremely grateful that I am in such good health these days.

Last year I lost over 100 pounds. It's been the greatest gift I have ever given myself. I get emails regularly from people who have read my story or seen my video. How did you get started? How were you able to lose your weight? How do you keep going after all you have been through in your life? Often these people are facing challenges in their own lives. I don't have a magic answer for them.

The truth is that the two main reasons I am able to persevere is 1)I always try to keep a positive attitude during the worst of times in my life and 2) I never give up. Sometimes my optimism was forced, but I ended up coming out on top because I never gave up. I believed that no matter what happened things would get better and eventually they do.

My achievements revealed themselves in ways I had not expected. Things don't always happen exactly how you think they will; but if you keep a good attitude and are ambitious your dreams will come true. People who are negative and complain don't get anywhere in life. They live in a rut and are always looking to drag people into the mud with them. But I know that if you stay positive and don't give up, it's nearly impossible for you to fail to reach your goals. You have to live, eat and breath them and the more obstacles there are the more focused you must be in your pursuit. Reaching some goals will feel like a marathon while others will seem like a sprint, but if you don't keep pushing ahead you'll never reach the finish line. When things seem farthest you must have blind faith.

A crucial part of making your dreams come true is to set lofty goals, break them down into smaller ones and put them on paper. But that's not it alone. You need to give the goals life. You need to send their energy out by visualizing them regularly and by telling someone about them. By telling someone about your goal you give it life. Now there is more energy out there to help it become a reality. Not to mention telling somebody about it also helps to keep you accountable.

Make yourself a dream board or at least some pictures of your goals. Visualize them and push forward executing the steps it takes to make them a reality. Put together a list of your goals...personal, financial, health, family......make your dreams come true!

(Link for Jaylene's blog)
http://courageiscontagious-jaylenew.blogspot.com/






Monday, August 6, 2012

Play it again

I just responded to an online test that was supposed to tell me what I wanted from life. My results were: experience, love and health. Oddly, before going to bed last night I wrote down what I believe I am searching for:good health, security, a mate. How close can one come without being right on?

The main difference was experience and security. My experiences have taught me what not to do and if I had another chance I would make different choices that would probably have led to current security.

First I would not have listened to my ego telling me that compared to others I had little value as a person and no special talent. I would not have listened to my mother and found a way to obtain an education beyond high school, finding out that I actually am worthy of the best the universe has to offer. It's called self-esteem. 

I would have listened to my intuition and not married either of my husbands, thus avoiding being subjected to their negative addictions. I also would have learned a lot earlier that I am quite capable of taking care of myself without the assistance of a mate. It's called independence.

As far as children go I may have stopped at my first born. Of course, that would have meant no grandchildren. Sometimes we have to deal with the negative to get to the positive. That's called a reward and is often worth the price we have to pay.

Unfortunately, I only have one chance to live my life. Approaching age 75 and knowing that where I am is the result of the choices I have made is causing me stress. Why didn't I listen to the guidance I was offered? Why didn't I trust that God made me perfect just the way I am?

Compared to many women my age my life would be considered wonderful. I own my house, my car and owe no one anything. I have enough of everything for today and I am truly grateful.

I guess the only thing missing is love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLEtGRUrtJo
All You Need is Love- the Beatles

Saturday, August 4, 2012

If I were rich

If I were rich would it upset the balance of the universe I wonder.
If I were rich just once in my life would it upset the balance of me?

There was a time not so many years ago when I thought $50,000 was a fortune. I have made it stretch and stretch until today there is little left. Waste was not an issue, I simply took care of what I thought I was responsible for. Many wrong decisions were made following that train of thought. I have learned the hard way that helping others because they make me feel guilty is another word for manipulation, both on their part and mine. Love is not for sale. Sometimes the best thing a person can do for someone else is say the bank is closed.

About ten years ago the universe planted a thought in my mind that I would someday be given a very large sum of money. The details have never been explained, but the thought has remained year after year. I have always assumed it would be a universal inheritance of some kind. Not having any rich relatives to my knowledge the unrealized dream has remained a mystery and quite frankly is becoming annoying. "You are never given a dream without a means to make it happen", right!!

When it does happen I will keep my gift a secret, improving my living conditions and making sure I will never have to worry about security again. What fun that would be to watch the faces of those who never took the time to help me when all I needed was for them to care. I can read their lips asking, "How did she do that?" My answer would be, "It's none of your business, it's between me and my Creator!"

It would be fun to be a secret millionaire, looking for people and groups who really do need help, because they are out there every day helping others. It would be terrible to be an Oprah Winfrey or Donald Trump, living in a glass house. I don't need multiple houses or gold faucets in my bathroom to be happy.

If I were rich would it upset the balance of the universe I wonder.
If I were rich just once in my life would it upset the balance of me?

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RBHZFYpQ6nc
link: "If I were a Rich Man"