Monday, October 16, 2017

Me and Moses


When I attended a Catholic university to get my BA many, many years ago, I was required to take twelve hours of religious studies.  I took several courses on the Bible, but I remember little of it outside of the more popular books.
Since then I have tried reading the Bible on my own on several occasions but somewhere between Judges and Ruth, I lose interest. After wandering around like Moses in the desert, lost and bewildered as to how to get this done, I joined a group last year committed to reading the Bible in 2017.   
The leader is a Facebook friend and fellow writing buddy, but my commitment is not as much to her or the group as it is to my own belief in God. If the Bible is the book of my faith, I should be able to proudly state I have read it cover to cover and am familiar with its contents.
Here I am ten months into 2017 and I have just now finished reading the Old Testament and have started into the New. Some OT books were lyrical and uplifting; others were drab and painful.  No matter how much I tried I had a difficult time reading them, much less gleaning a spiritual message from them. 
I am more familiar with the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, so the reading is easier so far. I have noticed a different tone as well. It will be interesting what my final assessment will be when I finish and look back at the total endeavor.
So far, I am surprised at situations in the OT that apply to modern times. We seem doomed to continuously repeat the same mistakes in our relationship with God, but I also see His unconditional and everlasting love, His promise of forgiveness and grace through the ages. 

Moses and I have a lot in common as our wandering ends. I see hope at the end of the journey as I seek God. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Feeding Frenzy on Facebook


8:15 AM: I find a happy photo with a meme and I post it on my feed.  I am the first to “like” it so that it will push to the top of the main FB feed my friends see. 
-       Like # 2
-       Like #3
-       Grumpy Face.  A link is attached.  There is NOTHING happy about last night’s catastrophe, controversy, corruption! (I do not respond.)
8:20 AM: I post a corny, non-political, joke.  I like puns.  I “like” it.
-       Like# 2, 3, 4, 5
-       A “friend” corrects an irksome, grammatical error as if I hadn’t noticed it also. (I do not acknowledge.  I refuse to be put on the defensive.)
8:25 AM: I try my luck with an uplifting quote, a familiar verse often used in literature and song. I “like” it.
-       Like #2
-       Scolded again.  This time for forcing a Bible verse on those who prefer I keep religious references to myself.  (I remind myself to do this again tomorrow.)
8:30 AM: I post a link on my feed, current news.  I share without a “like,” without a comment, without an emoji. 
-       An immediate slam, an accusation of being vile, complicit, divisive. (I delete this comment.  It is MY feed.  I unfriend this person, ban them from my posts.)
I log out.  I need a breather, a cup of coffee, breakfast.

1 PM: HoneyBunch and I return from running errands in town.  Lunch at a new place.  I tag the place, post a photo of my order, and a nice comment on the food and the service.  Again, I “like” my own comment to boost it on the main feed.
-       Some stranger (not on my friend list) contradicts my comments.  They found lipstick on their glass of ice tea, they had to swat at flies in the dining room, the server was rude. . ..
-       I delete their libelous comment.  Again, it is MY post, not theirs.
7 PM: I post a picture of the novel I just finished.  I congratulate and tag the author on a job well done. (I “like” my comment.)
-       Like #2, 3, 4
-       Comments of agreement. I interact with them and ask for other book suggestions.
-       One person talks about the slow pacing, the historical inconsistencies, the exorbitant price, best to buy it second hand. Author So and So did a better job on the same topic.
-       I consider deleting this comment, but when others come on and disagree with this person, I leave it at that.
7:15 PM: Wow! Look at this recipe. (Like.)
-       Like # 2. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
-       I can’t have sugar.  Can you post this recipe without sugar?
-       Is this gluten free?
-       It has chocolate.  I don’t eat chocolate that is not ethically harvested!
-       I comment that the recipe is not mine.  I just like  to look at doughnuts.
9 PM: I log out.  I know I should post consistently but I have had enough of “prime time” FB. (7 pm – 9 pm)
3 AM: Insomnia.  I scroll though FB, searching for posts I want to post on  my feed.  No one bothers me as I read and post. I ignore spam, click-bait, and anything  I dislike. I post something funny, and I “like” it.
-       Aw.  Are you up?  Insomnia?
-       Something bothering you?
-       Do you need a virtual hug? An emoji?  A gif?

I log out and go to bed.   

Monday, October 2, 2017

Legacy


Two people died last week.  They both lived long, full lives.  One was arrogant and infamous, thousands knew his name; the other was humble and well-loved by only a handful.
Both had families.  His was a product of a multitude of meaningless, hedonistic relationships; she dedicated herself to her husband of sixty years. While his heirs scramble over the remains of his crumbling empire, hers are assured of their inheritance as they stand on the solid foundation she left behind.  
He will be remembered for scandal and promiscuity. People either snicker or frown when his name is mentioned. His fame, money, and arrogance did not buy him immortality.
She will be remembered for love and integrity.  People either smile or feel sorrow at the mention of her name. She lived an exemplary life and that is her legacy, one for which her family and friends will long keep her memory.    
Two people died last week.  One lived his life as if there was no tomorrow; she lived hers knowing that there is.   


Monday, September 25, 2017

Hair of the Blog: Remedies for Idea Hangovers


How do you keep up with a blog when you are suffering from Blog Hangover?  Has blogging started to be more work than fun?  Has it become painful to develop interesting ideas? Do you feel disinterested, tired, and in need of hair of the blog?
First, whether you are blogging once a week or twice a month, keep to your schedule. If you have established faithful readers, respect their time and loyalty.  Give them something to anticipate in your next blog post. Keep their interest.  If you don’t keep to your promised schedule, you run the risk of losing them and having to attract a new readership from scratch.
Also, the more you post, the better your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). With each post, the Internet builds a portfolio of your work and your SEO increases.  When people search the Internet for a topic you have written, the chance that your work will show on their first page of searches increases.  Writing sporadically only hurts your reliability and your SEO.
Secondly, blog topics depend on the purpose of your blog, and the purpose of your blog defines its genre. Look at all its facets and stick to that. A political blog is different from a cooking blog, a Mommy blog, or an author’s blog. Focus on why you blog.  What overall product or pronouncement are you selling? 
For instance, my blog is about a writer of boomer age struggling to find her writer’s voice. It is about her experiences, her writing, and about the books she reads.  I am not selling anything, other than myself, so I alternate blogs about these three subjects. It gives me a variety of latitude.
Thirdly, I get inspiration from many places. I search calendars and approaching holidays.  I read newspapers, magazines, and online news sources.  I try and keep abreast of the latest trends, fads, and controversies.  I keep my eyes and ears open to the world around me as I travel, reading billboard signs and listening to conversations and radio shows. I read voraciously and make notes of pictures, poems, quotes, verses.  I soak up vocabulary and debates, and make lists and jot notes to use later. I remedy my blog hangovers with a folder of ideas for future use.  It helps to keep me interested and interesting.  It keeps me focused and it shows respect for those who are kind enough to read my posts.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Really, Really, Amazing Must-Have List of Books for Beginning and Established Writers




I love lists, especially book lists.  I used to browse the brick and mortar bookstores for hours, looking through displays and shelves, selecting books I wanted, and putting some back when it came time to pay for the ones that fit within my budget.
Nowadays, I rely on word of mouth, especially book club suggestions on Facebook, Goodreads, or Amazon.  I see a book list and my curiosity goes into CSI mode.  I read reviews, compare what one reader says versus another, and then make my online purchase. 
I offer you my list of Really, Really, Amazing Must-Have Books for Beginning and Established Writers. They can be read in any order, but I thought you would like a bit more description before you decide to own any of them.

I.        Starting List of Really, Really, Must-Haves:

On Writing Well by William Zinsser. Good, basic advice, so purchase any edition.  This is a good place to start planning this writing venture.

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield. The title says it all.


II.      The Really, Really, Must-Haves When Getting into the Nitty-gritty of Writing:  

The Art of War by James Scott Bell.  The man is a genius when it comes to craft.  Any book by Mr. Bell is a great investment.

Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins.  This book helps dig deep into character building, and how the main character affects every aspect of the story.

Guerilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson.  It is exactly what it promises.

The Power of Body Language by Tonya Reiman.  Here is a manual on how to read (and use) body language to show your characters’ actions.

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder. This is a great book on pacing and plotting.

Understanding Show, Don’t Tell by Janice Hardy.  Best book I have found on how to show, not tell, and how point of view affects prose. Show, not tells is not as simplistic as made out to be, so this is a definite must have.

Wired for Story by Lisa Cron. Another must have, this book is the best book on plotting and character and prose on the market. Backed by scientific proof, the author argues that all human beings need story, not just for entertainment but for basic survival


III.    The Really, Really, Necessary Book List When the Writing Road Gets Tedious, Weary, or Dead Ends:

We all have inspirational books on our shelves, so don’t go out and buy more.  Dust them off and read those you have. You might try reading the Bible, poetry books, the newspaper, magazines, anything that invigorates your soul and keeps you on track, but here are some of my favorites:

      Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

    On Writing by Stephen King

    Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy

    Writing Down the Bones by NatalieGoldberg

      Zen and the Art of Writing by RayBradbury

           
IV.      And the Really, Really Necessary Book List When It’s Time to Revise or Edit: 

Art of Styling Sentences by Longknife and Sullivan

     The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

    The Synonym Finder by J.I.Rodale. Sure, you can find words more easily on the Internet but nothing compares to the thoroughness of this gem.

       Revision and Self-Editing by JamesScottBell

       Writing Tools by Roy PeterClark.   

Monday, September 4, 2017

Surviving the School Year


Everyone figures out a way throughout the school year that fits both working and school schedules into an easier lifestyle. When my three were little I worked full time, so I whittled out routines that became our “normal.” It ensured we made time for everyone and everything, including free time.  
Here is what worked for us and I hope you share your ideas so we can help each other make life less hectic.
1.     Stock up on extra school supplies and keep them handy at home – notebook paper, spirals, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, glue, rulers, a good pencil sharpener – whatever kids might forget at school but will need at home to complete homework assignments or projects.  Keep a couple of poster boards handy so you do not have to drive to the store in the middle of the night when they remember they have a project due the next day.
2.    Provide a space where you can supervise homework and study while you work on your own projects. My three had to sit at the kitchen table for one hour every evening (Sunday night through Thursday night) and do homework or read to me. If one was having trouble (low grade) in a certain subject, they had to study that subject in addition to other homework.  I read along with them and helped where I could as I worked on dinner.
Before they put away their things, they cleaned out their bags, checked for papers or notes I might need to sign, and replenished their school supplies.
3.    We all kept our bags by the exit door. They were handy to grab and go the next morning.  They also chose their outfits and other items they needed for the next day, like gym clothes, uniforms, or equipment.
4.    Along with their bedtime routine, they packed their lunches and decided on their breakfast.  I did this also, like prepping the coffee pot. It didn’t take long, nothing elaborate, but it saved time on sleepy and tired mornings.
5.    It sounds like a lot of rules and regulations, but rest and recreation was an important consideration as well.  My children were active in church and in after school activities, so that provided for healthy, safe outlets. The daily “study hour” lasted from Sunday night through Thursday night in preparation for school the next day, so they had the rest of the evening free to do other things.  Friday evenings were game nights or out with friends. Saturdays were free after they did their chores (which took one or two hours at the most), and on Sunday, they could go out with friends after church until about seven in the evening.

As the kids grew, they became accustomed to our routine.  They never noticed when I stopped supervising and let them govern themselves. 

They are grown now with families of their own, but I see remnants of this when I visit their homes.  Book bags pile by the front door, kids sit around kitchen tables doing homework, and everyone helps with chores so that family has time to get to the fun stuff.   

It gave order to our busy lifestyle, emphasized what was important (school and church and good, clean fun), and glued us together as a family. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Grandma No No

     
The two-year-old looked up at me as I dragged him away from the DVD player. He wasn’t happy.  “Grandma No-No,” he grumbled. I giggled at his pronouncement, but I could see why I had earned that moniker.
His intelligence, curiosity, and fearlessness – all good traits – kept me on my toes.
          He wanted to learn the how and the why of everything, but had to be redirected constantly.  If it was within his reach, he inspected it to learn its purpose.  The electrical socket and the DVD cabinet called to him only because it got a huge reaction from the adults. He saw no difference between his Super Hero toys and the expensive knick knacks on the coffee table. If it made a noise, tore at the mere touch, or bounced, it was his.  
He soon learned that his height kept him from reaching things grownups didn’t want him to have, so he taught himself to climb. I watched as he pulled cushions off couches or dragged chairs into position so he could mountain climb from one to the other. I let him do it only once so that I could prevent it from happening again. Just as he reached his prize, I plucked him away.  His anger soon appeased if I distracted him with the hundreds of books and toys he owned.  
When his circle of discovery expanded into other rooms, I followed him. I emptied the bottom cabinets in the kitchen and left only the pots, pans, and plastic ware he could turn into drums, hats, and building blocks. The bathroom door remained closed at all times for obvious reasons, but to make up for limiting his exploration of the terrain, I sat for hours on the floor with him playing with his toys and reading to him.   

My list of no-nos changed as he grew.  No food outside of the kitchen since milk or juice bottles might spill on the sofa or the carpet, and it took only once for him to catapult off his bed for me to rule on “no, no more jumping on the bed.”  I wasn’t trying to be a Mrs. Trunchbull. My no-nos were because I loved this fearless, little boy, and I worried about his safety.  I wanted to encourage his curiosity and intelligence, but I was also willing to gain a no-no reputation to ensure he got to share it with the world. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Letting Go; Emptying the Nest


          When my three were little and they got into mischief, I warned them they would one day stand in my shoes.
          Someone knocked a hole in the living room wall, another kicked a hole in the back of my brand-new recliner, all out of frustration because I held the line on discipline. They bucked curfews, skipped classes in school, and dated the very people I had warned them to avoid. Every time they gave me grief, I dealt out consequences.
          You would think I looked forward to the day they would reach legal age and they would fly out of the nest.  You would think I would relish my well-earned peace and quiet.
          But I didn’t.
          My many years as a middle school teacher made me an expert at adolescent psychology, so at the same time I was upset by their misbehavior and bad choices, I also celebrated their fight for independence. I recognized their tantrums, disobedience, and rebellion as normal phases.  They were learning to be independent.  They were testing limits. What better time than while they were still under my care and I could set them back on the right path?
          When it came time to let them go out into the world on their own, some went reluctantly.  The Mama Bird in me had to shove them out of the nest.  I would always be here if they needed me but they had to try their wings first. 
          I cried as they left, one by one, but they never saw that from me.  It would have been selfish and crippling if I had kept them to myself. When they were born, my strongest desire was to raise strong, independent, hardworking adults.  Men and women unafraid of what the world dished out to them. I am glad to see them married and raising their own children.

          And now as their own children reach adolescence, all I can do is smile at the grief their own kids are giving them. Ah, karma. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Importance of a Simple Thank You


One of my biggest peeves is not receiving a simple thank you for a gift given lovingly and willingly to another. 
Grandma asks a child what he wants for Christmas or his birthday and gets a long wish list.  After the child opens the present, he tosses it aside and grabs another without acknowledging or thanking her. The time, effort, and money spent in the process is treated inconsequential, a right and not a privilege.  
The following holiday, again the child does the same.  Grandma’s gift is lost among the many others.  No acknowledgement.  No thank you. 
If the outcome is the same whether the giver offers a present or not, then why bother?
I use the example of a grandchild, but my experience has been wide and varied. This incident has happened repeatedly to me with family and friends where a celebration requires a gift. 
What happened to the formal thank you note?   Why is it considered antiquated when the giving of gifts hasn’t gone out of style? We complain about the entitled generation, yet we teach (and accept) entitlement to our children.  How many of us write a thank you note to those who give us presents?
I do.  I send thank you’s to those who remember me at Christmas, my birthday, and other holidays.  When I forget to write a note, I make sure the giver knows personally how much I appreciated their kindness. I tell others about my gift and brag on the present and the giver. Yes, a gift should be given willingly with nothing expected in return, but shouldn’t appreciation and delight be acknowledged?

I have gotten wiser and meaner as I age. My memory is as sharp as ever. I will continue to acknowledge those who give me presents and who thank me in return for mine.  Their names will go on my “Nice” list, while the others, well, there is a reason it is called the “Naughty” list. Why bother if my gift means nothing to them? 

Monday, August 7, 2017

Happiness – A Simple Explanation


Scientists can prove “happiness” through brain scans, chemical secretions, even the subtle change in individual cells.  It has also been proven that one’s facial expression can affect one’s disposition.  The body anticipates “happiness” if one practices smiling.
I don’t need all that to know what makes me happy.
-       Bare toes on the beach, the feel of cold, wet sand soothing away the tiredness
-       A sunrise, its promise of a new day
-       A vibrant sunset, the accomplishment of that promise
-       Children’s laughter, especially giggles and squeals
-       The first sip of coffee in the morning
-       A drink of cold water flowing down a parched throat
-       A satisfying ending to a good story, be it a book, a tale, or a movie
-       A small, unexpected kindness
-       A loving, understanding partner, family, a good friend
-       A decadent dessert or a simple, crisp saltine cracker
-       A moving piece of art; music that stirs the soul
-       The perfect bubble
-       A butterfly, a dragonfly, bird in song
-       Warm, soft socks
-       A roof over my head, safety from the world
-       Food on the table
-       Fireworks
-       a hug, an embrace, a slow dance with the right person
-       knowing that you made a difference, fought the fight, left a legacy
-       the belief in God and in life after death; we are part of something larger than ourselves

Happiness – the reasons we live our lives to the fullest, relishing the simplest of things that matter. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Surviving a Panic Attack

I sat my three kids down to give them the news. I was losing control, overwhelmed by the divorce.  I felt my brain on overload and I was inches away from a breakdown.  I needed their help. I needed them to take care of me while I rode out this storm.
          All three sat there stunned.  In their early twenties, they were barely adult enough to care for themselves, and I was “the strong one,” the one parent they relied on, their tether while they tested their wings on their own.  I had always warned them not to put me on a pedestal.  My feet were made of clay.  I was mortal and finite. And just as human as they.
          Right now, I was moments from slipping into a serious anxiety attack. I knew this because it wasn’t the first time I’d had one. Twenty years prior I froze in front of an auditorium full of educators who had come to hear me speak about the use of a computerized reading program.  I was legally separated (from the same man) back then, so my mind was on more important things than selling an expensive product to school administrators.  The sales person who had invited me to testify took over, but I doubt many sales were made that day.
          When none of my kids stepped forward, I didn’t blame them.  They too were traumatized by their father’s abandonment, so losing me scared them beyond words.  We were all a mess, so I called my mother and told her I was packed and on my way to her house.  I gave her the route I would take and ETA, then I drove to her house on autopilot.  She took care of me for four days, the time it took for me to come out of my dreamlike state of detachment, and I found my purpose and determination again.
          I always wonder why people do not die from a broken heart.  I guess some do; those who do not have healthy bodies.  The rest of us keep on living and the closest we come to dying is through anxiety attacks.
          I had another one a few months later.  I was still feeling a little wobbly when my brother-in-law passed away suddenly and my sister and niece asked for my help with the arrangements.  I was supposed to read Scripture at his funeral mass but when it came time, I froze.  I grew roots to the floor and panicked.  At the same time, I wanted to run out of the church but I could not move. I could not do anything, so I looked at my sister and niece and choked out something.  They calmed me down and covered for me.  The grief for my brother-in-law plus my own personal tragedy was more than my brain and my heart could handle. It only lasted for a few hours, but it proved I was a fraud. I wasn’t as strong as EVERYONE thought I was.  I was human and I hurt just like everyone else.
          I hadn’t had a panic attack in sixteen years, so I do not understand what triggered the one that visited me last week in the middle of the night while I slept. I was dreaming nonsense, some humdrum, boring conversation between me and some faceless person about some nothing subject, when – bam! – I woke up with a jolt, a whiplash like one experiences when a roller coaster makes a sudden stop. All my muscles were immobile, frozen, mummified. My heart was racing and I felt an overwhelming fear as if Satan himself was in the room. I looked over in the dark at HoneyBunch, but I could not move nor talk. It would take an effort I did not possess to tell him what was happening, so it was up to me to help myself.
          I assessed the damage.  I was not having a heart attack or stroke.  I recognized it as a panic attack.  I searched my brain for the cause of anxiety but found nothing that would cause a reaction this extreme. I took three deep, slow breaths.  I grounded myself, noting three things to identify my surroundings.  I forced myself to relax using the yoga technique where you start with your toes and work your way up the body.  I kept taking deep breaths and felt myself regaining calm.  As I thought of three, good things in my life that make me smile, I got into a comfortable sleeping position, and I prayed myself to sleep.
          I shared this with HoneyBunch the next day and he and I have discussed it several times since.  Our best guess is this time of year.  Many sad things have happened to us in the month of July over the years, so that might have triggered the panic attack. All I know is I am alive.  I am human and my feet are on the ground and not on a pedestal.  

          

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Infamous, Ginormous, Dreaded School Supply List


          The day after the 4th of July, the stores in my area ripped everything summer off the shelves and replaced it with Back to School merchandise.  Rows of backpacks replaced swim vests and bathing suits.  Sneakers and ankle boots kicked hundreds of flip flops into clearance bins, and the amount of material on shirts and pants grew longer.
          Though I no longer have kids of school age, seven of my nine grandkids head back in less than a month, and their parents are not looking forward to the infamous, ginormous, dreaded school lists.  One son has five kids, four of them in school, and my daughter has three in school.  Not only do they have to face School Supply Lists for each one, but there are also other back to school expenses: doctors, dentists, haircuts, clothes.  The list continues on and on.  
          It can be quite a hardship that swoops down on parents all at once.  I picked up three different SSLs while out shopping last week, each from three different school districts in my area.  The least number of items on one list was twenty-one different items; the most had thirty-eight. But this will not end there.  No sir.  The children will come home the first day of school, if not by the end of the first week, with additional items required by some of their teachers: lab fees, uniforms, mouth guards or mouth pieces.  They will have bought the wrong color ring binder and the teacher will insist it clashes with the color scheme for the class or the class period. The student will need to replace their four-inch, three ring binder with a three-inch, three ring binder. Mom and Dad will scramble to buy these things while trying to feed their family with whatever money is left in their budget for the month.
          We always had just enough but I sometimes wished I had a second job or a fairy godmother.
          My advice is to hoard.  Along with buying all these many items listed on the SSL, buy extras if you can and keep them for later.  A ream of notebook paper on sale in August costs twenty cents. They do this to bait parents into shopping at their store, so buy extras.  In January when your child needs another ream of paper it will cost about the same as a sirloin steak. You will thank me for this advice later.
          Look for sales.  Shop dollar stores.  Take advantage of the tax-free weekends. You’ll wish you had a second job or a fairy godmother.
          At the end of the year, force (threaten) your children to bring home all their school supplies.  Don’t let them throw them away at school or donate them to the teacher.  It is your property and you want it back. I recycled pencils and pens, scissors and rulers, pencil boxes and zipper bags.  My three handed down map pencils and water colors to one another all through elementary.  In fact, I still own some of those things. It embarrassed them when I dusted and wiped off binders, or when I sent them to school with lumpy erasers, but embarrassing them was part of my job description.
          So was providing for them.
          They came around when I used the money saved on them on new jeans or sneakers or eating out. They agreed with me that some of the stuff on the school supply list was rarely used.  Scissors, rulers, and the immortal water color set do not wear out.

           

Monday, July 17, 2017

Creating Magic Takes Hard Work


I am an organizer, a planner, a list maker.  There is a clock or an egg timer, a calendar or a notebook, a dry erase board or a magnetic clip with note attached, in every room.
When family comes to visit, a meal magically appears on the table.  The house is clean and the lawn is mowed.  Covered dishes warm on the stove and cold dishes chill in the refrigerator.  Pitchers of ice-cold lemonade and tea wait to fill glasses, and the coffee pot only needs to be started. The dessert takes center stage on the kitchen table. We say grace, we sit and eat, we enjoy our time together as a family. 
No one asks how it all got done.
The week before, I took inventory, making lists of things that need to be bought or set out before the company arrives. Every day of the week has its own list and on the last day the focus shifts into hourly checklists.
Almost as soon as the first guests arrive, everything falls into place as if by magic and I sit and enjoy my children and their families. They did not witness all the work it took to get here, all the pots and pans, bowls and appliances that I used and washed. It looks like I wiggled my nose and everything came together on its own.
We say grace, we sit and eat, we enjoy our time together.  Every minute of planning and work is worth the effort. My family is growing in size and in age and magical moments together like this are more precious than gold or diamonds.

When it is time to leave and the last car drives off, leaving only fading echoes of children’s laughter and grown up chatter, I have no need for a list or a clock or a pencil. Things will get done, put away, and straightened over the following week, but first, I will sit, smile, and enjoy the tiny bit of magic I helped to create.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Growing Some Grandkids


Four of my grandchildren will be in high school this coming year, one at each grade level: ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade.  They are moving into adulthood at an alarming rate.
When they come over, HoneyBunch and I try to set a good example, one that compliments that of their parents who are doing an amazing job.
It helps to know and examine that “good example” every once in a while, since it is not a given that with our age comes wisdom.
I would like to say to each of them:
1.      Value yourself and who you are, and do not let anyone take that from you. Learn to be independent and educate yourself as much as you can before going out into the world and starting your adult life.
2.    When you give your word, make a promise, stick to it.  Know when to apologize when you make a mistake, sin, or take a wrong turn.  Don’t repeat the mistake and learn to make restitution for it.
3.    Educate yourself about the world, the environment, politics.  Educate yourself and find a job that you will like enough to do it for the rest of your life, one that will provide for your needs and those of a family.
4.    Do your part in protecting your values and of those who depend on you. Learn to protect and defend yourself. Guard yourself and your values.  Be educated enough to know when to dismiss the invasiveness and divisiveness of the world and its insidious rants. An educated mind is hard to sway.
5.    Learn to love and trust, show your affection through actions and words.  If it does not work out, hold no regrets.  Life is messy but well worth the struggle. It is better to love and lose than to never love at all.
6.    Protect those who depend on you.  Children are a great and wonderful responsibility, but life will stop being about you.  It will about them and all their needs.   
7.    These suggestions are not temporary quests but last a lifetime, so while you are educating your mind and heart, learn to guard your body as well.  Eat healthy.  Exercise.  Keep active so that you can stay mobile and in good health for as long as you can as you age.

8.    Lastly, remember that each of you is loved by a fierce army of family who only wants the best for you.