Saturday, November 30, 2013

Friday, November 29, 2013

I did it!

I cooked the turkey and it turned out yummy.  I also bought a meat thermometer and used instructions from the Joy of Cooking.  I didn't record what I ate in MyFitnessPal but I didn't gain weight today either.  I did have a wonderful Thanksgiving and had a great time shopping on Black Friday.  One of my daughters provided cinnamon rolls for breakfast while waiting in line for Fabric.  Other daughters checked in across country, smiling we were all in line and missing each other.  What a change from before counseling.  I did stress....putting on oven mitts to open the refrigerator is a fairly good indicator of suppressed stress.  But I immediately recognized it for what it was and laughed instead of getting upset.  I had a wonderful 2 days.  Change is possible.  Working to make our lives different is worth it.  Hugs to the world I need to get things done.  I hope everyone's holiday was better than expected. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Arizona Style

Born in Phoenix, Arizona I spent my growing up years playing barefoot outside on Thanksgiving.  Today, I carry on the tradition, took out the recycling barefoot.  We spent many years in Washington state and I appreciate the warmth.  Some years are family eats Thanksgiving dinner outside.  I can say right now that I love all the cooking involved with having a big feast.  Removing resentment I discovered the joy I feel cooking and prepping to watch it all disappear in minutes.  I remember, when I was a kid, making my Dad's favorite cream cheese and maraschino cherry stuffed dates.  I was perfect for the job, I didn't like eating them.  However, I loved making them just because my Dad liked them.  Now I continue a change on the tradition.  My husband loves cherry pie.  I love making them for him.  I don't like eating them myself.  This year I made 2 with different types of cherries in each one, one was more sweet then other more tart.  I had him sample a slice of each for breakfast.  The one that he liked best I tucked away in the cupboard just for him.  I am blessed with talented children and their spouses that are all wonderful cooks so I don't have much to do for cooking other than the battle of the turkey.  I've had some spectacular fails inner-mixed with mild successes.  For many years I swore off cooking turkeys.  During this time one son won a turkey at a turkey shoot.  I informed him that if won it, he could cook it.  He did a great job.

This year I am tackling the turkey.  I started early, missing part of the Macy's Parade, which was a really good thing because when I tried to remove the neck I was met with ice.   AAAAAGGGGHHHH.  The darn thing was put in our refrigerator last Thursday it was supposed to be thawed by now.  No problem, I know the routine into the cold water it goes with me shivering as I pull out chunks of ice.  I ate a lovely breakfast.  Back to the turkey and stuffing and following the directions from the Joy of Cooking.  The authors like cooking a whole lot more than I do.  I found out a whole new meaning of 'dressing a turkey.'  The book recommend soaking a coarse cloth, I used cheese cloth, in butter and spreading it across the bird while it cooks.  I will try to remember to post how it went.  

The Macy's Day parade is a tradition for me.  I was surprised when I watched Snoopy float on to the TV screen that I felt tears prickle my eyes.  I just felt so happy and blessed to have the luxury of watching the parade.  Technology can be such a blessing.  I've come a long way since watching the parade on a small black and white TV when I was a little girl to wonderful color right in my family room.  Some of the character balloons have floated through the parade longer than I am old...that is impressive.  Some are new, the black dragon from 'How to Train your Dragon' made its debut this year.  I appreciate KPNX channel 12 showed the parade with only interruptions for commercials without all the celebrates.  I love watching the parade.  

Soon families will arrive and my house will be much busier with little feet bouncing up and down the stairs.  I am truly blessed this Thanksgiving day.  Hope all your days are filled with joy.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Jane Evershed

Writing about art these past few days I thought it would be fitting to pull this link out of my post-in-waiting file.  Quite a while ago, a fellow blogger and I were discussing our mutual admiration of art that expresses feeling.  I was introduced to Jane Evershed.  I am drawn to her vibrant use of color and her ability to convey deep emotion.  There are many artists that I admire.  I could probably create an entire blog exploring artist and their effect on me.  One of the effects unfortunately is intimidation.  I see their wonderful works of art and then look at my own less than fabulous efforts and I get easily discouraged.  I am also reminded why myself and many others are afraid of art.  Art from caves to museum walls are critiqued and criticized.  Standards are set, comparisons made, and expectations rise with each proffered piece.  Studying for my Art degree, I spent many, many hours viewing art of all kinds shapes and varieties.  Sometimes I liked it, sometimes not.  Some of Jane Evershed's art I admire tremendously, others not so much.  My DH asked me what benefit I gained from all the years studying artists.  I smiled and replied, "Before I got my degree, I would walk into a museum and say, 'I don't like it' now I can tell you why I don't like it."  I was also introduced to art that took my breath away.  I stood in awe and wonder in the Sistine Chapel shortly after they had cleaned the paintings on the wall.  I stared at the glowing colors astonished that they looked like they were painted just the day before instead of hundreds of years ago.  The common thread through out the pictures, sculptures, glass and photographs is one person's desire to share their emotional reaction to the world.  Much of my art will never go beyond the walls of my home, plus I have a select collection that I call my private collection.  These pieces I created from the depths of my soul where I had no words to express what I felt and saw in the dark hidden places of my heart.  Giving them a space to exist outside of myself released me from needing to carry them in my heart any more.  Art allowed me to place my secret burden on a paper then tuck it away in a closet.  I may not have the ability to blend colors like Jane Evershed but I can pour out my heart in photography, drawings and perhaps I will try painting again.  For me, the healing is in the process.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Art therapy ideas

This is a link to 100 ideas to start but it is not an exhaustive list.

Start simple: A box of Crayons, colored pencils, or markers.
A blank piece of paper or a coloring book if a blank page feels intimidating.

Just the about water and flour paper mache...have access to a bunch of silk flowers? Take them apart and use the pieces as your color.  Start with kid projects to get past the fear of doing things 'perfectly'.  I spent many hours coloring just before my counseling appointments.  In my work at a high school teaching students to working with children, I encountered all sorts of projects.  One of the art lessons I liked was spray bottles filled with liquid water colors.  Big old sheet hung out side and 3 different bottles of colors and spray away.  Styrofoam carves fairly easily, cover it with strips of paper dipped in wall paper paste, makes amazingly strong 3 dimensional creations.  Nervous about dipping into art, try taking a class.  Give yourself permission to not do things perfectly.  My book, below has several pictures that I created.

How I think

Monday, November 25, 2013

Art a tool for healing

Art and healing go together

The first time someone said, "So you are an artist." I denied the allegation with my photo hanging in the Art school hall way.  I believed that I was the generation that was skipped for art talent.  Both of my parents were talented artists and my children received honors for art.  I believed that I was missed.  I was blessed to get hired by an Art department to take care of their computers.  They were frustrated with talking with me about anything since I had 'zero' art experience.  I couldn't talk their language.  Out of frustration, they required me to take a photography class.  Yup, part of my job was to go to class and gain a vocabulary that would allow me to talk with the professors.  The very first picture I printed was a photogram.  I didn't understand that were only supposed to do one.  I spent the entire 2 hours experimenting with this magical process of turning a white sheet of paper into a wonder of shades of gray with light and chemicals. teacher was surprised at my absorption with what he thought a simple project to introduce the class to develop prints in the dark room.  I felt like a magical door was opened inside my mind.  My final project I combined photograms with prints.  One of the prints from this project was the piece in question when the art director dubbed me an artist.  Took me many years to accept that art was part of me.  I eventually learned that is a language for anyone.  The break down comes when someone else expressed their opinion about my art.  I first understood the power of art when I took my drawing class the semester that I found out I had cancer.  I received permission from my teacher to stay in class and miss several weeks because of my surgery.  After my surgery, I realized I hadn't taken into account the fact that I couldn't hold the large note pads.  I created several much smaller drawings with a smaller pad.  One of my fellow students would come after class and show me what they did in class.  I would practice the perspective drawings.  I was blessed when my sister-in-law drove me to class so I could actually get the instruction first hand.  I was taking some very heavy duty pain medications that didn't allow me to drive.  Working on the drawings is during this recovery time was when I stumbled on another bit of magic.  Drawing was difficult for me.  It took every ounce of focus and brain power to draw the simplest pictures.  I discovered that when I focused so intently on my drawings I was able to reduce the amount of pain medication I took.  I have used the simple act of drawing to reduce anxiety, pain, and other unpleasant emotions.  I draw simple things.  Some times it is really nothing at all just pencil marks on a page, lots and lots of pencil marks on a page.  The rhythm of dragging the pencil back and forth across the page brings a soothing peace that is quite amazing.  If I am asked 'what' I am drawing I couldn't tell you because I don't know.  Just pencil on paper making lines where ever my mind and hand took me.  

Class assignment

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The first Thanksgiving the story goes was by Pilgrims long ago that were thankful to survive there summer and pull in a bountiful harvest thanks to their good friends the Indians that helped them by teaching them to improve their corn crops by burying a fish with each seed.  The one meal turned into days. Giving thanks became an official National Holiday years ago.  Stores started Black Friday sometime later to celebrate the coming Christmas when people started shopping and put their finances in the Black, meaning they were getting enough sales to show a profit.  The reason after Thanksgiving time was financially significant it was after the crops came in and the farmers could pay their bills.  All the farmers had credit at the stores and paid them off with the crop money.  The stores went from being in the red of having money owed them to being in the black of showing a profit.  The traditions, thoughts, and feelings about this holiday are unique to every family.  Other countries also adopted the tradition of a Thanksgiving day, or maybe it is the other way around, might look that up.  For me it signaled the start of seasonal depression that lasts until well into January.  One year everyday of November I blogged about different things I am thankful for.  This year is a little different.  October my anxiety was through the roof and I was using depression to suppress that out of control feeling.  I was thinking bummer, it is starting early this year.  In a chat with MyCounselor he recommended that I seek medical help to take the edge off my anxiety instead of plunging myself into depression to control it.  I did consider medical help but differently than he thought.  Just the week before my blood test came back and showed I was getting too much thyroid medication.  I looked in the paperwork and the 3rd symptom down was too much caused anxiety.  I called my medical doctor and reduced the dosage.  I am doing so much better now.  I then pondered on my yearly dip into depression.  What caused it?  What triggers set off this sadness to mar the holidays?  What 'fleas' enter my life and I feel miserable because of their existence?  These are not new 'fleas'.  (Explanation of fleas in an earlier post:

The first flea that comes to mind is my mother's behavior to me on this holiday.  I loved getting ready for the biggest feast but my mother's anxiety overflowed and she would lash out at me to relieve her anxiety.  I am thankful that I had the courage to stop seeing her on Thanksgiving.  I don't deserve the way she treats me and I am thankful that I learned to take care of myself.  I am thankful to my sister for sharing our childhood experiences and the love I feel for her that are some of the highlights of our shared childhood, now she is my best friend.  Another flea is the anxiety I feel from increased memories of my childhood.  Memories of my childhood always come around to the pedophile.  I am thankful he wasn't interested in me once I became older.  I am thankful he let me go.  I am thankful that I found a counselor that helped me overcome the results of the pedophile's choices.  I am thankful for the compassion I feel for others that suffer.  I am thankful that we are financially sound right now.  My DH and I are both gainfully employed.  I am thankful for the turkey in the refrigerator thawing and threatening me with another possible culinary disaster.  (Turkey's and I have a long on-going battle, sometimes the turkey wins.)  I am thankful for the anxiety of others, it helps me recognize how much calmer I am this year.  I am thankful for Black Friday, it has developed into a wonderful time to share with my daughters and daughter-in-laws preparing for Christmas for our grandkids.  I am thankful for forgiveness that has removed the pain of past experiences and replaced that pain with peace.  I am thankful to my Savior, Jesus Christ for showing me the way to treat other people, to show compassion, how to live, and paying the debt for my screw-ups and mistakes.  I am thankful that I am learning to forgive myself.  I am finding a peace that when I started on this journey out of darkness I did not believe was possible.  I am thankful for cancer for teaching me how precious my life is so I sought counseling.  I am thankful for a counselor that told me, "I don't want you to just survive, I want you to thrive."  I am thankful for his vision of my life and shining the light on the path and showing me how to get started.  I am thankful for irritating drivers that allow me to be kind to others and allow them into a long line of cars.  I am thankful for rush hour that makes me slow way down and think while I am driving.  I am thankful for rude shoppers because I have an opportunity to show kindness where it is not deserved.  I am thankful for challenges that make me stretch and grow in directions that are quite different than I expected.  I am thankful for the unexpected because I often find humor there.  I am thankful for peace, plenty and my Heavenly Father for all the many things that I receive in my life that blesses me.     

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Self care is important when someone you love is hurting

Those of us who love someone with PTSD are especially susceptible to burn-out. Compassion fatigue. Although the month of November is dedicated to Caregiver Support, every day of the year we need to support the supporters! What can we who give and love day in and day out do to keep from dying on the vine in our noble efforts to care for the needs of someone we love?

We all have unique warning signals, sent to us graciously by our own bodies, to let us know we need to make some changes. For me it is insomnia, headache, grinding teeth, and forgetting to breathe. (That one is pretty important!)  When we get better at tuning in to our body’s loving messages, then we are better able to do what we NEED to do in order to be at our best. If we burn out, then we are no good to anyone!

Recently I was received a desperate call from a wife of a veteran with PTSD. She was at her breaking point. Total collapse! Burn out in every sense of the word. It took over an hour to calm her down and get her to just breathe. Then we focused on what she could do for HERSELF, one sense at a time. Warm tea, a bubble bath, bowl of soup, her favorite CD, a massage, prayer, connection with her counselor, and a walk. She had gone way too long without caring for herself and it almost did her in. She is now much more aware of her limitations and when to take time out for her. A good reminder for all of us.

In the book LOVE OUR VETS: Restoring Hope for Families of Veterans with PTSD, the entire middle section is devoted to taking care of US! We need to put ourselves at the top of our own priority list before we have no more to give.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful. Still endeavoring to put them all into practice, but a good start anyway. 

Accept your limitations
Nurture yourself via all 5 senses
Release the compulsion to fix the world
Surround yourself with good support
Replenish with spiritual input
Eat well and sleep well
Exercise regularly
Take time for YOU

We are good to others...let's be good to ourselves too!


(From my newest blog on 

Living with someone with a huge emotional need can be as draining as caring for someone with disabilities or health problems.  Taking care of yourself is essential to supporting a loved one. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

My worth

A friend on Facebook posted this reminder:

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Your value doesn't decrease based on someone's inability to see your WORTH 

 I stretched myself to the max these past few weeks. The holidays are upon us and I accepted a new responsibility that is stretching me to the max.  This week I missed 2 days of exercising.  Work is hitting frenzy with the multiple teachers tugging at my time.  Something gave today.  I didn't finish a task.  It impacted someone else.  Instead of sinking into despair and turning on myself, I thought about all the other things I was asked to do instead.  There were several other projects that demanded my attention and I misunderstood when the task needed to be done.  I am partially deaf and wear hearing aides.  Occasionally, (read that as more often than I like) I get only part of the message.  I also didn't write down the specifics and clarify the information in writing.  I caught myself awfulizing and making quantum leaps from I made a mistake to I am a terrible and irresponsible person.  I made a mistake full stop.  With people tugging at my time, I need to have a visual list instead of just a mental one so that when they throw me a new demand I can ask them to look over the list and decide where it goes in the priority.  I worked out tonight and feel so much better than I have felt in days.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holidays are upon us

So, the holiday season is upon us. How do you make it through this time of year if your family is somewhat difficult or challenging at times? I think that it's a matter of managing your expectations & taking responsibility for your own self-care. In terms of expectations, you need to look at what you're hoping for, what you're worried about & what you believe when you're planning to spend holiday time with your family. You need to be realistic about your loved ones & see them for who they really are - that's how you'll maximize your chances of having a pleasant holiday season. By being realistic, you'll stop denying the truth about your family members; you'll stop engaging in magical thinking - thinking that they're different than they really are - & you'll stop trying to change them. When you're with your family, you'll have your eyes wide open, & even though some of your family members might disappoint you, annoy you, frustrate you or aggravate you, you'll accept the truth about them. Your stress levels will decrease if you trust that you'll take care of yourself when you're with them. When you take responsibility for self-care, you'll see that bothersome behaviors aren't about you, so you won't have to feel like a victim or get into arguments with anyone; you'll recognize when people are doing things that upset you & it's time to go into the other room for a while, or when people are behaving in an unacceptable manner & it's time to leave. One of the worst type of family dynamics is when one or two family members are behaving badly, & the rest of the family is doing nothing about it. Unfortunately, this is a far too common occurrence. If this happens in your family during the holidays, know that you are absolutely entitled to walk away, if that's what will help you to take care of yourself. If your family members - the same ones who are allowing the unacceptable behavior to continue - become angry at you for taking care of yourself, don't feel guilty. They have forced you to extricate yourself from the situation by their inaction & apathy. Never feel bad for taking care of yourself when family members are misbehaving & the rest of the gang is doing nothing to stop it. By having realistic expectations & by taking good care of yourself (without guilt) it's much more likely that your holiday season will be casualty-free.
A few years ago, I made a major change to my holiday traditions.  I did not see my mother on Thanksgiving.  That first year was a bucket load of guilt mixed with criticism and more peaceful than I had known for years.  My new tradition of not visiting my mother on Thanksgiving was the first time I acknowledged to the world that my mother is toxic to me.  Each year I feel a greater and greater level of peace and still don't see my mother on Thanksgiving.  (She lives less than a mile away.)  I no longer feel guilty about protecting myself from her razor sharp tongue.  I am thankful for believing in myself enough to listen to my heart and keep my distance.  I still see her other times of the year but Thanksgiving is some sort of toxic holiday trigger for her.  In public with other people around, mother was all sweetness and smiles.  Sometime during the day she would isolate me, look around to make sure we were alone, then verbally tear into me with some cutting remark or a flood of toxicity that left her feeling better and me wiped out.  I now keep my mother at a distance on this day that seems to be so difficult for her.  The kindest gift I gave to myself is to recognize that her behavior was not about me.  
For these holidays, I decided to listen to my friend Being Elle.  She wrote a beautiful letter to her heart talking about how she has neglected and not done those things that help her be happy.  She spoke so kindly to herself.  She was encouraging and kind and made a promise to be kinder to her heart.  My gift to myself for the holidays is to be kinder to myself.  Recognize when I am asking myself to do too much and gently scale back.  I am not going to allow the frenzy of others to become a controlling factor for me.  I will look at their behavior and recognize that their unreasonable expectations do not need to be fixed or met by me.  I can have a relaxed and blessed holidays because that is what I am choosing to do.  Great thought, if I can just hold it for the next 3 months.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


In the Phoenix, AZ area or visiting?  Arizona Botanical Gardens are sharing space with Chihuly.  He gave permission to share pictures of his art for Educational and Nonprofit purpose.  I am hoping to educate people that the glass is in the desert.  Come and enjoy.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's a feeling

Greg Olsen is one of my favorite artists. His pictures bring peace to my heart. I buy his calendars then save the pictures, several prints are on my walls.  Tonight on Facebook he posted a lovely picture of a house With this saying: Home isn't a place, it's a feeling.
("Be It Ever So Humble" by Greg Olsen)

I read it and realized that this explained why when I go to my parents house, I don't feel like I am going home.  They have lived in the same house since my younger sister was born.  I go to visit their house.  When we moved back to the area after living on the other side of the country for 15 years, I would automatically drive to their house.  My kids thought it was very funny.  I also felt I was kind of odd that even though I drove to their house on autopilot, I never felt like I was going home.  It always was my parents' house.  Growing up my dad always said it was my mother's house....but I watch him and for him it is his space as well as hers.  I remember our family going on a trip when I was growing up.  I was in junior high.  My younger brother was almost 3 years old.  Within the week, he said he wanted to 'go home.'  He meant where ever we were sleeping for the night.  About 6 weeks into the trip he started saying he wanted to go to the 'blue house.'  The color of my parents house.  I didn't mind travelling for 3 months.  I didn't miss the house.  I missed my friends.  I missed our dog.  But I didn't consider my parents house 'home.'  I always thought I was weird that way.  One of the things that I felt drew me to photography was the feeling of being 'home' in the dark room.  I feel at 'home' behind my camera.  I feel like I belong when out shooting pictures.  I like the feeling.

Monday, November 18, 2013


You can't make other people responsible for your self-worth. Whether it's your boss, your parents or your romantic partner, your friends, your colleagues or your team-mates, once you're an adult, how these people feel about you shouldn't be connected with how you feel about yourself. Self-acceptance & self-esteem ought to come from within. It's not your job as an adult to seek approval by being "nice" or helpful to others. It's not other people's job to make you feel good about yourself. People will like you or love you if they're able to; if you click & if circumstances permit. If they don't like you or approve of you it may have nothing whatsoever to do with you. Waiting or trying for external approval gives other people the power over your self-worth & undermines your inner peace.
I have quite a few post-in-waiting that some take a long time to get posted.  This one I saved from Facebook a while ago.  I need the reminder that the self in self-esteem means me.  I am responsible for how I feel about myself.  The holidays are upon us.  From now until about Valentine's day, I struggle with too high self-expectations, seasonal depression, and general I'M-OVERWHELMED feeling.  Each year I start earlier and earlier trying to prepare for the holiday onslaught of 'AAAAGGGGHHHHH what was I thinking to plan to do A-Z in 2 months.'  I struggle this time of year with wanting to buy everything in the store for our grandkids.  I want to do every activity with our kids.  Church and work gear up to a frenzy level of activities.  "Stop the boat now!" Charlie and the Chocolate Factory scene.

3 deep breaths....I can choose to take the pressure off myself.  I can choose which activities stay and which I choose to put off or eliminate.  I decide what I need to do.  I am responsible for the self in self-care and self-esteem.  I won't accomplish everything but I can accomplish some things.  Step back and decide carefully what are the essentials and which are the like-to-do but not this year or maybe ****GASP**** not at all.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


November is the month, in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day set aside to be thankful.  When I was a child we learned about the Pilgrims celebrating with the Indians and thanking God for surviving and having enough to eat for the winter.  The schools still teach about the Indians and Pilgrims part but mostly leave God out of the picture; which to me is sad, to rewrite history because the attitude has changed.  I have learned that gratitude exists whether a person believes in God or not.  I learned also that gratitude is a way of looking at the world.  I like Einstein's quote, "There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein 
I also learned that thankfulness is essential to accepting a gift.  The feeling of taking things for granted stems from not being thankful.  I also learned that gratitude and thankfulness is essentially part of who I am.  I don't just feel gratitude in November.  I learned by Betsie ten Boom to not only be thankful for the good things in my life but to also be thankful for the challenges in my life.  Betsie asked her sister Corrie to remember to thank God for the fleas in there barracks at the concentration camp.

I found the excerpt shared on line at
"'Here! And here another one!' I wailed. 'Betsie, how can we live in such a place!'
"'Show us. Show us how.' It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
"'Corrie!' she said excitedly. 'He's given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!'
"I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. 'It was in First Thessalonians,' I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.
"In the feeble light I turned the pages. 'Here it is: "Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all...'" It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.
"'Go on,' said Betsie. 'That wasn't all.'
"'Oh yes:'..."Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.'"
"'That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. "Give thanks in all circumstances!" That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!' I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
"'Such as?' I said.
"'Such as being assigned here together.'
"I bit my lip. 'Oh yes, Lord Jesus!'
"'Such as what you're holding in your hands.' I looked down at the Bible.
"'Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.'
"'Yes,' said Betsie, 'Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we're packed so close, that many more will hear!' She looked at me expectantly. 'Corrie!' she prodded.
"'Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.'
"'Thank You,' Betsie went on serenely, 'for the fleas and for--'
"The fleas! This was too much. 'Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.'
"'Give thanks in all circumstances,' she quoted. It doesn't say, 'in pleasant circumstances.' Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.

Betsie taught me to be thankful for all gifts and experiences including the ones I am not to excited about receiving.  Learning I had cancer was devastating 12 years ago.  Now, I recognize the many wonderful things I learned and ways God has blessed me because of that experience.  I learned that others were interested in me.  I learned that there are professionals that I could trust.  I learned that there are some things that are just too big for me to handle alone.  I learned that I could reach out to others and ask for and receive help.  Some years, I do the daily list a blessing through November.  The interesting thing I discovered, the more blessings and things I listed that I am thankful for the more I saw blessings in my life.  Looking for and developing my attitude of gratitude enriches my life on a daily basis.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Toughest Hood

If you are not a Mom, you may want to skip today's post.  If you are interested in a different point of view about on.

My daughter and daughter-in-law shared this link - It's time to tell the truth....
A young mother speaking out on all the 'little-bits-of-information' left out of the 'Congratulations-you-are-going-to-have-a-baby-and-change-your-life-FOREVER.'

There is a dark side of sharing the unvarnished brutal truth about lack of sleep, baby illness, terror of raising children....building on all the negative creates a monster of fear that steals all the joy of anticipation into an unknown world of parenting.  My mother taught me the 'horrors' of what might happen to teenage mom's, every horror story of giving up your life for this little alien that won't love you when they are teenagers.  The terror I felt about having my first child was so intense that I refused to have a baby shower.  My father-in-law bought the crib and the dresser but I refused to set it up or prepare anything.  The 'terror-truth' I was told blocked all sense of anything but impending doom.  I know the nurses must have wanted to grab our sweet son and hang on to him when they asked me, "What are you dressing your baby in to take him home?" My first stunned response was a bewildered, "I get to take him home?"  I had NOTHING, not even a baby blanket.  I was so afraid that I couldn't take him home because of something wrong, I didn't prepare for the possibility that all was well and I could take him home.  The hospital gave me a baby blanket and t-shirt from the hospital to take my baby home in.  Nursing was a nightmare.  I was so tense that it was a real struggle at first.  I messed up.  I lost sleep.  I got angry.  I became depressed.  I felt isolated.  I became invisible.  "oooo look at the baby." No mention made of the women holding said baby.  I tried talking to my mother....she rewrote history that everything she experienced was wonderful.  At the time, I didn't understand how much my mother lies.  So, I make baby blankets.  LOTS OF THEM.  I give them to random people that I don't even know their name but they are pregnant.  So I make baby blankets so they have something to bring the baby home in.  Each blanket is made with hope that they will see what a beautiful precious short time babyhood is.  However, babyhood makes motherhood the toughest HOOD around.

Such cute little toes.
I love nap time
Just the beginning. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Flapping in the breeze

Seal of HonorA former Sergeant in the Marine Corps took a new job as a school teacher . Just before the school year started he hurt his back and was required to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. Fortunately, the cast fit under his shirt and was not noticeable. One the first day of school he found himself assigned to the toughest students in the school. The smart aleck punks, having already heard the new teacher was a former Marine, were leery of him and knew he would be testing his discipline in the classroom. Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, the new teacher opened the window and sat down at this desk. When a strong breeze made his tie flap , he picked up a stapler and stapled it to his chest. Dead silence… The rest of the year went smoothly

My sister connected me with Seal of Honor facebook pages.  I first read this story years ago in Humor in Uniform in Reader's Digest.  I love this story.  I can so see this happening.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Be Brave

So many of us live in fear, rather than living courageously. We make choices out of a desire to avoid things that are frightening or upsetting, as opposed to the desire to live fully & deeply. But those who live fearfully have smaller lives than those who take risks or challenge themselves in some way. We behave timidly in order to avoid suffering, but avoidance increases our suffering as it deprives us of consciousness, choice & power. The good news is that we can start by taking little risks, for example, facing a painful truth or speaking our feelings to someone we trust, & then build on this. The more we practice being emotionally brave, the more we'll be able to do it & the richer our lives will be.

 Video that I watched several times and want to watch again.

KavinCoach explained to me how I lived a fear based life.  I couldn't comprehend it at first.  I moved cross country several times, embarked on several different careers, and had 6 children how could he say my life was fear based?  I was confused.  I didn't understand that the one I was running away from was myself.  Dissociation helped me to hide in plain sight.  I was terrified of making a mistake of any kind.  I dreaded my nights filled with nightmares.  I made choices all day long based on avoiding discomfort.  I didn't realize that my lack of feeling was the biggest hiding game of all.  Hiding from feeling any real emotion.  Emotions are messy by their very nature.  There are no cut and dry rules that can apply to emotions.  I am learning to live by a new set of rules made by me.  I am not sure how I am doing since you really can't measure emotional authenticity against a measuring stick.  Tears flowing are a complete give away that I am feeling emotions.  I am capable of laughing and crying at the same time.  Through my tears, I babble that I feel wonderful.  The 'feel good' people in the world want to designate emotions good and bad.  I learned that all of my emotions have value and benefit me, know there is always an if.... I listen to myself, respond to my needs and address the needs that generate the emotion.  Moving from a fear based to a faith based living required me to embrace my emotions and use them as I believe they are intended to work as warning signals, life enhancers, and all around game changers for the world I live in.  Emotions color my world with so much.  Be brave, there is a lot of living to accomplish by accepting all my emotions and embrace them.  My power is based in my ability to handle my emotions.  I control my emotions instead of my emotions, AKA fear, controlling me.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Power to Choose

"Destiny is not a matter of chance,
it is
a matter of choice;
it is not a thing to be waited for,
it is a thing to be achieved."
- Winston Churchill

 I did not get to choose what happened to me.  I did not get to choose my parents.  I did not get to choose the neighborhood I grew up in.  There were many, many things I did not choose.  I felt powerless much of my life with moves, choices of others that affected me, and general life happens type of experiences.  So how could I choose my destiny?  I think the most powerful think I learned was reading Man's Search for Meaning, when Viktor Frankl.  This was one of the books recommended by KavinCoach.  At first I couldn't grasp how reading about someone living through the Holocaust could apply to me.  Here are a few quotes to ponder on:

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

I read Viktor's book and opened by mind and my heart to his message.  I have the power to choose everyday my attitude and what I do on a day-to-day basis.  I am blessed with the choice of who I spend my time with.  How I use my hours I am given daily.  I am learning more and more everyday what I can do with my power.   

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I have a real problem with the word know the one buzzing around.

Here is the definition from Free Dictionary:
em·pow·er  (m-pour)
tr.v. em·pow·eredem·pow·er·ingem·pow·ers
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. See Synonyms at authorize.
2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable: "Computers ... empower students to become intellectual explorers" (Edward B. Fiske).

em·power·ment n.
Usage Note: Although it is a contemporary buzzword, the word empower is not new, having arisen in the mid-17th century with the legalistic meaning "to invest with authority, authorize." Shortly thereafter it began to be used with an infinitive in a more general way meaning "to enable or permit." Both of these uses survive today but have been overpowered by the word's use in politics and pop psychology. Its modern use originated in the civil rights movement, which sought political empowerment for its followers. The word was then taken up by the women's movement, and its appeal has not flagged. Since people of all political persuasions have a need for a word that makes their constituents feel that they are or are about to become more in control of their destinies, empower has been adopted by conservatives as well as social reformers. It has even migrated out of the political arena into other fields. · The Usage Panel has some misgivings about this recent broadening of usage. For the Panelists, the acceptability of the verb empower depends on the context. Eighty percent approve of the example We want to empower ordinary citizens. But in contexts that are not political the Panel is markedly less enthusiastic. The sentence Hunger and greed and then sexual zeal are felt by some to be stages of experience that empower the individual garners approval from only 33 percent of the Panelists. The Panel may frown on this kind of psychological empowering because it resonates of the self-help movement, which is notorious for trendy coinages.

The problem with saying anything about empowerment means that someone outside of myself is giving me permission to have power.  Reversing this, it means they can take my power away too.  I am a strong believer that we came from Heaven with a God given right to Celestial power that is part of being a Spiritual being having a Human experience.  No one on Earth can give me that power.  No government, counselor, person or entity gives me my power.  However, abusers, manipulators, and all around bad guys will persuade me to give my power away.  Blind obedience is surrendering my power to my parents, abuser, church or government.  I was trained to give blind obedience.  It was drummed into me with implied death threats.  My mother gave the example of the little boy that didn't obey his grandfather and backed close enough for the lion to reach through the cage and kill him.  She told me this tale when I was a little girl.  The message I got loud and clear is OBEY OR DIE.  I do not believe in blind obedience.  Occasionally, I would tell my children I didn't know why I felt a certain way when I asked them to do something but for the most part I tried to give them a reason they should obey me as young children.  Now they are adults.  I love chatting with them and sharing experiences, I have zero expectations that they should obey me.  If they take my opinion into consideration, fine.  If not, that is OK too because they have the power to make decisions for them.  KavinCoach explained to me that I had power.  Wow, was I ever confused on that one.  He told me that he wanted me to feel empowered and he realized that I felt like I needed permission to ask for and do things for myself.  He would be very happy to know that I no longer need to be empowered.  I know that I have power and I came to Earth and was born with power.  I do not need someone else to empower me. Just get out of my way, I have all the power I need.

Learning to trust God again, where real power come from.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank you Veterans

Veterans are all around us.  Men and women who served in our countries military.  Today, we pause for a brief moment to remember and thank these amazing people.  Many gave their limbs and lives for me to enjoy the freedoms that often I take for granted.  Today, I am saying thank you to every man and woman that served in our military. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I had a most amazing weekend listening to speakers for two days sharing their testimonies of Christ at Time Out For Women.  One of the speakers was my teacher in high school.  He shared his views on different types of prayers.  He talked about the grief he felt when his wife died three years ago.  He told how he poured out his grief to the Lord.  He explained that sometimes we need to pour out so the Lord can pour in His peace or answer to our partitions.  He also talked about wrestling prayers.  This is when praying for an answer we struggle with it.  I am very familiar with this kind of prayer as I struggled with overcoming depression.  Then he shared about prayers of quiet.  These prayers are times when we start the prayer then we quietly feel God's love without saying anything at all.  Each speaker was just so amazing.  This weekend I will remember for a long time.  I am thankful to those that leave their families to share with others words of peace, love, encouragement and Christ.  It was a beautiful weekend.  I hope all of you enjoy your weekend too.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

If Only

I was searching for something else in my email when this popped up.  Sent to me 2 years ago by KavinCoach...Fits it with what I learned from Pebble in the shoe.

Two Words That Change Everything Sure, you've got regrets. But you can move on if you apply this magic phrase.  By Arthur Gordon 
Nothing in life is more exciting and rewarding than the sudden flash of insight that leaves you a changed person, not only changed but changed for the better. Such moments are rare, certainly, but they come to all of us. Sometimes from a book, a sermon, a line of poetry. Sometimes from a friend.That wintry afternoon in Manhattan, waiting in the little French restaurant, I was feeling frustrated and depressed. Because of several miscalculations on my part, a project of considerable importance in my life had fallen through. Even the prospect of seeing a dear friend (the Old Man, as I privately and affectionately thought of him) failed to cheer me as it usually did. I sat there frowning at the checkered tablecloth, chewing the bitter cud of hindsight.He came across the street, finally, muffled in his ancient overcoat, shapeless felt hat pulled down over his bald head, looking more like an energetic gnome than an eminent psychiatrist. His offices were nearby; I knew he had just left his last patient of the day. He was close to eighty but he still carried a full caseload, still acted as director of a large foundation, still loved to escape to the golf course whenever he could.By the time he came over and sat beside me, the waiter had brought his invariable bottle of ale. I had not seen him for several months, but he seemed as indestructible as ever. "Well, young man," he said without preliminary, "what's troubling you?"I had long since ceased to be surprised at his perceptiveness. So I proceeded to tell him, at some length, just what was bothering me. With a kind of melancholy pride, I tried to be very honest. I blamed no one else for my disappointment, only myself. I analyzed the whole thing, all the bad judgments, the false moves. I went on for perhaps fifteen minutes, while the Old Man sipped his ale in silence.When I finished, he put down his glass. "Come on," he said. "Let's go back to my office.""Your office? Did you forget something?'"No," he said mildly. "I want your reaction to something. That's all."A chill rain was beginning to fall outside, but his office was warm and comfortable and familiar; book-lined walls, long leather couch, signed photograph of Sigmund Freud, tape recorder by the window. His secretary had gone home. We were alone.The Old Man took a tape from a flat cardboard box and fitted it into the machine. "On this tape," he said, "are three short recordings made by three persons who came to me for help. They are not identified, of course. I want you to listen to the recordings and see if you can pick out the two-word phrase that is the common denominator in all three cases." He smiled. "Don't look so puzzled. I have my reasons."What the owners of the voices on the tape had in common, it seemed to me, was unhappiness. The man who spoke first evidently had suffered some kind of business loss or failure; he berated himself for not having worked harder, for not having looked ahead. The woman who spoke next had never married because of a sense of obligation to her widowed mother; she recalled bitterly all the marital chances she had let go by. The third voice belonged to a mother whose teenage son was in trouble with the police; she blamed herself endlessly.The Old Man switched off the machine and leaned back in his chair. "Six times in those recordings a phrase is used that's full of a subtle poison. Did you spot it? No? Well, perhaps that's because you used it three times yourself down in the restaurant a little while ago." He picked up the box that had held the tape and tossed it over to me. "There they are, right on the label. The two saddest words in any language."I looked down. Printed neatly in red ink were the words: IF ONLY."You'd be amazed," said the Old Man, "If you knew how many thousands of times I've sat in this chair and listened to woeful sentences beginning with those two words. "If only," they say to me, "I had done it differently” or not done it at all. If only I hadn't lost my temper, said that cruel thing, made that dishonest move, told that foolish lie. If only I had been wiser, or more unselfish, or more self-controlled." They go on and on until I stop them. Sometimes I make them listen to the recordings you just heard.  "If only," I say to them, "you'd stop saying if only, we might begin to get somewhere!"The Old Man stretched out his legs. "The trouble with if only," he said, "is that it doesn't change anything. It keeps the person facing the wrong way ”backward instead of forward. It wastes time. In the end, if you let it become a habit, it can become a real roadblock”, an excuse for not trying anymore.Now take your own case: Your plans didn't work out. Why? Because you made certain mistakes. Well, that's all right: Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are what we learn from. But when you were telling me about them, lamenting this, regretting that, you weren't really learning from them.""How do you know?" I said, a bit defensively."Because,"said the Old Man, "you never got out of the past tense. Not once did you mention the future. And in a way, be honest, now, you were enjoying it. There's a perverse streak in all of us that makes us like to hash over old mistakes. After all, when you relate the story of some disaster or disappointment that has happened to you, you're still the chief character, still in the center of the stage."I shook my head ruefully. "Well, what's the remedy?""Shift the focus," said the Old Man promptly. "Change the key words and substitute a phrase that supplies lift instead of creating drag.""Do you have such a phrase to recommend?""Certainly. Strike out the words "if only", substitute the phrase NEXT TIME." "NEXT TIME?""That's right. I've seen it work minor miracles right here in this room. As long as a patient keeps saying if only to me, he's in trouble. But when he looks me in the eye and says next time, I know he's on his way to overcoming his problem. It means he has decided to apply the lessons he has learned from his experience, however grim or painful it may have been. It means he's going to push aside the roadblock of regret, move forward, take action, resume living. Try it yourself. You'll see."My old friend stopped speaking. Outside, I could hear the rain whispering against the windowpane. I tried sliding one phrase out of my mind and replacing it with the other. It was fanciful, of course, but I could hear the new words lock into place with an audible click."One last thing," the Old Man said. "Apply this little trick to things that can still be remedied." From the bookcase behind him, he pulled out something that looked like a diary. "Here's a journal kept a generation ago by a woman who was a schoolteacher in my hometown. Her husband was a kind of amiable ne'er-do-well, charming but totally inadequate as a provider. This woman had to raise the children, pay the bills, keep the family together. Her diary is full of angry references to Jonathan's weaknesses, Jonathan's shortcomings, Jonathan's inadequacies."Then Jonathan died, and all the entries ceased except for one, years later. Here it is: Today I was made superintendent of schools, and I suppose I should be very proud. But if I knew that Jonathan was out there somewhere beyond the stars, and if I knew how to manage it, I would go to him tonight."The Old Man closed the book gently. "You see? What she's saying is, if only; if only I had accepted him, faults and all; if only I had loved him while I could." He put the book back on the shelf. "That's when those sad words are the saddest of all: when it's too late to retrieve anything."He stood up a bit stiffly. "Well, class dismissed. It has been good to see you, young man. Always is. Now, if you will help me find a taxi, I probably should be getting on home."We came out of the building into the rainy night. I spotted a cruising cab and ran toward it, but another pedestrian was quicker."My, my," said the Old Man slyly. "If only we had come down ten seconds sooner, we'd have caught that cab, wouldn't we?"I laughed and picked up the cue. "Next time I'll run faster.""That's it," cried the Old Man, puffing his absurd hat down around his ears. "That's it exactly!"Another taxi slowed. I opened the door for him. He smiled and waved as it moved away. I never saw him again. A month later, he died of a sudden heart attack, in full stride, so to speak.More than a year has passed since that rainy afternoon in Manhattan. But to this day, whenever I find myself thinking if only, I change it to next time. Then I wait for that almost-perceptible mental click. And when I hear it, I think of the Old Man.A small fragment of immortality, to be sure. But it's the kind he would have wanted.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Chronic Fatigue

Poppypost: Over on the right she has several links about Chronic Fatigue

10 suggestions for pacing yourself:

I lived with chronic fatigue before it was popular.  I was counseling before I knew why I suffered from chronic fatigue.  Before counseling, I would go to the doctor, they asked the usual battery of questions.  They asked me what time I went to bed, I would answer, "Around 11:00 PM."  Then they would ask me when I got up, my quick answer "Around 6:00 AM."  They would nod and make notes and tell me there was nothing wrong with me.  But I was exhausted.  Trying to wake up in the morning was brutal...staying awake almost impossible in the afternoon.  Then I was in counseling, KavinCoach asked the same questions that the doctors asked.  Then he asked, "How much of that time do you actually sleep?"  What?  My homework was to record the last time I saw the clock, how many times I woke up, and how much I actually slept.  I tracked it for weeks.  In 10 weeks I averaged 3 hours of sleep a night.  Folks, that is extreme sleep deprivation.  After years of counseling and a lot of re-education about sleeping I now average around 6 hours of sleep...that is still sleep deprived.  I hold still long enough I go to sleep.  To stay awake I keep on the move.  If I watch TV I am also working on my laptop.  Many a church meeting, concert, and other venues that require sitting quietly with me going to sleep.  Yes, sometimes I snore...hard to hide that.  I learned to pace myself.  I talked about my nightmares.  Amazingly getting them out of my head and into the light of day has finally rendered them almost useless.  If I have nightmares again, I know what I need to do to minimize their impact.  They lost their terror factor.  Now, just bad dreams that are annoying but not sleep destroying.  Learning to pace myself during the day helped me to treat myself kindly at night.  If chronic fatigue dogs your days, you may want to consider a sleep log and see if sleep is eluding your nights.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Pebble in The Shoe

Follow up report on The Pebble in The Shoe.

I need to start with a little background on my feelings about shoes for my review to make sense.  I buy shoes when the last pair falls apart.  When I find a shoe I do like, I will buy one of each color then wear them for the next 5-10 years.  I have running shoes with holes because I don't want to have to shoe shop.  I wear shoes to protect my feet from scorching concrete or cold weather.  As soon as I get home, shoes come off.  Shoes are not my thing.

The Pebble in The Shoe uses shoes as metaphors for people.  The first half of the back was very shoe cutesy and I almost quit reading it.  I am glad I persevered to the end.  The last half of the book was a game changer.  The book shares several techniques for weathering storms.  The piece that came at a prime time for me was the chapter about the most powerful had more teasers than I liked but the page turned and the powerful word revealed...Next.  The power of Next is that it is very present...not yesterday, not tomorrow but right now what needs to be done NEXT.  I used the power of Next several times this week.  I was feeling overwhelmed.  I thought about Next and the worry drifted quietly to the background.  A step, a piece, a small part is what comes Next.  I am glad I bought the ebook and I will review the last half again and again.