Monthly Archives: July 2011

No More Gerber Daisies or How Things Do Change


Beautiful Gerber daisies, compliments of Gianni http://morguefile.com/creative/gianni

I think I’ve wanted to grow Gerber daisies forever. But I didn’t even know their name until last year or the year before. So this year I decided was the year to plant these magnificent flowers. I drove all over town until I found the least expensive ones and promptly put the five plants into the ground with fertilizer. I watered them well and waited. Each of them, you understand, had flowers on the plants when I bought them. As the flowers began to die, I deadheaded them, knowing that more flowers would be forthcoming soon.

Nope. Nada. Neverlands. Nothingness. Zip. Zilch and so forth. In two months, just ONE of the plants bloomed again with one flower and that was IT. Darnation, Tarnation, Drat and Heck.

What’s a poor girl to do when one of her favorite flowers doesen’t bloom? Nothing to do but exclaim, “NO MORE GERBER DAISIES.” What a waste of time and money, huh?

But wait a minute. What if I were to read up on the care and feeding and so forth and so on of Gerber daisies? What if I were to overwinter the two other Gerber plants I bought in hanging baskets in my sun room this winter and try again next year? What if?

Well, they might bloom and they might not. Back to square one. I’m not a quitter usually. I hang on and hang on, much to the consternation of certain people who have been in my life. My teachers loved the fact that I hung in there. That was me, always the one with her hand up in the air asking questions, studying hard and getting pretty much great grades. The work paid off. Maybe it would pay off with the Gerbers too. One never knows about these things.

Sometimes hanging in there is really difficult, like someone who has cancer and is dying but is hanging in there through the pain and discomfort anyway. Other times, it’s a struggle, but it’s fun — such as when you’re hanging on to your fishing pole with all your might because there’s a whopper on the other end.

Hanging on can be useful, such as being in a raft and going through the rapids. Hanging on can be painful, too. You’ve broken up with your significant other, but you keep hanging on to the thought that maybe you two will be able to patch it up and live happily ever after. Good luck with that one. Been there, done that.

Hanging on to faith, hope, and God is amazing. During the worst of times, you have someone to turn to – someone who won’t judge, degrade or cynically laugh at you. You know you’ll get through whatever it is you’re going through, but only with God’s help.

What are you hanging on to today? Are you afraid of change or do you embrace it? What have you/can you learn from this experience? What can you share with others who are going through something you’ve been through and survived?

Whatever it is, I wish you a blessed week and hope you’ll pass on the link to this blog to friends and family who might appreciate it. I appreciate you. Thanks for coming by.

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“Shame on You” and Other Useless Emotions


Wonder what this owl is feeling? This photo By: manicmorff on morguefile.com

When was the last time you felt fear, guilt or sank into a depression? How long has it been since a simple conversation turned into an angry argument? Can you remember the last time you accused someone of “not caring,” when in fact you just weren’t getting what you wanted? You developed a resentment because someone wasn’t living up to your expectations when? You’re wallowing in self-pity because your finances aren’t what you want them to be?

The above are just a very few of the useless emotions people feel every day. We get angry at the people we love the most because they’re the ones who are closest to us, and we think that no matter what we say, they’ll always forgive us. Do they? No, not always. People reach a breaking point sometimes, and that is why so many families have members who haven’t spoken to each other for years. Instead of forgiving, these people decide it’s just not worth the pain anymore. And what is the pain? The pain is trying to change someone else; the pain is not trying to REALLY understand someone; the pain is in thinking we don’t need so and so in our lives, even if that person is a brother, sister, mother, father, other relative or friend.

And then we justify our decision to stop caring. Hah! As for me, I can justify anything if given half a chance. And I have done that a lot in the past. Now I’m finally growing up (what is that, anyway?) and just want to get along with people, feel peace in my home and heart, and do what I can to help others.

Are these lofty goals? Yes. But they beat the heck out of frustration, jealousy, anxiety, envy and regret.

It’s interesting how one useless emotion leads to another. Anger may turn into depression. Fear can become anxiety. Pride leads to resentment.

I no longer let useless emotions rule my life. I try to get out of the problem and into the solutions. Yes, I said ‘solutions.’ I believe there are five elegant solutions to every inelegant problem. You just have to dig deep to find the different ways to solve a problem.

I’ve had enough anger, guilt, shame, envy, self-pity and fear in my life to last the rest of my life.

So, for today, I wish you a lack of useless emotions that drain you, suck the life out of you and make it impossible to enjoy all of God’s many miracles of nature, people and life itself.

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Flies in The Buttermilk, Shoo Fly Shoo


Credit: Free photos from acobox.com

Skip to My Lou

I woke up singing “Skip to My Lou” this morning. Only God knows why! I haven’t skipped in a long time, and that got me starting thinking about skipping, jumping rope, hopscotch, jacks, and marbles. (Oh, by the way, if you click on the “Skip to My Lou” link under the photo, you can listen to this old children’s song and see some kids actually doing it!)

Anyway, a lot of folks have nostalgic memories of their childhoods. It could be that you have some, too. Maybe you remember fishing with Dad while Mom read a book. Perhaps you recall having Mom and Dad come watch you play a not-so starring role in a school play. Decorating the Christmas tree, hardboiling the eggs for Easter, going trick or treating as your favorite character, or playing basketball in a vacant lot might be some of your favorite childhood memories.

On the other hand, some children have no happy memories, because they came from abusive homes or maybe had alcoholics or drug-addicts for parents.

Regardless of what type of upbringing and memories you have, I think that is why Jesus said (in Matthew 19:14), “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

There’s an amazing thing about children — they believe without questioning. It isn’t until we get older that we start questioning whether there really is a God, how a belief in God clashes with that of evolution, etc. (Truth is – many scientists believe in both God and evolution, but a lot of people don’t know that.) Little children trust that what you say is true. They believe in God unconditionally if you tell them about your God.

And as we get older, most of us forget how to play. If we play cards we have to have a beer in our hands. If we play basketball, it’s not just for the fun of it; it’s for the competitiveness of the sport. If we go fishing, it can often turn into a hassle because everything has to be perfect, and we take so much gear that it’s hard to really enjoy the day.

If our kids want to play with us, do we? Do we get down on our knees and compete with them on a video game, or do we sit down at the table and teach them better spelling by playing Scrabble?  If we want the children to go outside, do we throw the ball with a spirit of fun or do we get frustrated at them because they didn’t catch it?

And when it comes to God, what do we say to them? Do we even talk about God and our relationship with this amazing higher power? Or do we just take them to church and hope they’ll absorb it? Or do we just not go to church, thinking that it really doesn’t matter anyway?

I remember teaching my beloved grandson how to jump in a puddle after the rain. His mom, my darling daughter, was none too pleased with the wet pants, but he and I had a great time that afternoon.

Are you more intent on making sure your children grow up to be responsible adults than you are on allowing them to be children and participating in that time of innocence?

Maybe tomorrow you’ll buy a jump rope and use it with your children if they’re small. If they’re not, maybe you’ll pull out Trivial Pursuit or checkers and have some old-fashioned fun. And maybe when you do either of those things, you’ll wind up talking about God and how important your relationship with Him is.

Have a blessed day!

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How I Got A Job – Another One of God’s Little Miracles


Sure, I can do this. Sure. Photo compliments of npclark2k http://mrg.bz/maI4Xd

I should rephrase the title. God’s miracles aren’t little. If someone gets up and starts walking again (with no medical explanation) after being in a wheelchair for years  or a person barely misses being hit by a semi-truck going out of control, people say a huge miracle has occurred. However, a miracle is a miracle. I’ve been blessed in my life with many miracles. I call them wondrous outpourings of God’s grace.

I need to get back to work again. After two years of not working because of being ill, it’s time. I’m not quite well enough to get a full-time job, and even a part-time job of 20 hours a week might be pushing it right now. So God sent me a job where I’ll be working six hours a week. This, combined with the writing and editing work I just received, will do just fine.

Here’s how the job happened. I went out to lunch at a new restaurant called “Mon Amie” in Spartanburg. For those of you who live here, it’s right across from Yanni’s on East Main Street. The place is decorated in French country style, all the ingredients are fresh, and the owners are the former owners of Billy D’s, a very popular, longstanding restaurant also in Spartanburg.

Anyway, my friend and I were talking. I gave her some advice. She had to go to the restroom. While she’s gone, the lady at the table next to me asked, “What kind of work do you do?” I told her I’ve been a writer and editor for the last 15 years, except for two years of teaching ESL in South Korea. “You speak very well,” she said. Then, “Do you do secretarial work?”

“Years ago I was a secretary and office manager, as well as being the business manager for a magazine for awhile,” I said.

“Well, we really need someone, but it’s only six hours a week.”

“That sounds perfect,” I said. We settled on the details of me going to their home to talk further (it’s a home-basied business). “Wow,” I thought, “it really does sound perfect…a great way for me to get back in the groove of working out of my house.”

Yesterday we sealed the deal. Only one hitch. Judy and Phil, the owners of the business, use an electric typewriter for invoicing. Yikes. I haven’t used one in years. As a matter of fact, I haven’t even used a regular computer keyboard for years. I use a natural keyboard, and find it difficult to type on my laptop.

Sunday night, I cried. “Have I really sunk so low as to have to work at this job?” I asked. Immediately I heard, “Be grateful and full of joy. I know your needs and will fulfill them as necessary.” My tears of pride turned into tears of joy, because I know God is taking care of me, even when I can’t take care of myself.

Also, yesterday I received an editing job from a Latino consulting engineer who is working in Vietnam. AND, I have three articles due for an online magazine this week. Life is good, so very, very good.

May you have a blessed day. Don’t forget to look for the miracles.

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Celebrate Our Differences, or Why I Like You


Cardinal resting after a hard day!

Photo credit: xandert from morguefile.com

I declare today as “Celebrate Our Differences” day. It seems like a good idea. After all, we spend so much time complaining or thinking negative thoughts about other people that it seems like a good idea to switch it up.

I was watching two cardinal mates at my bird feeder this morning. The fiery red of the male contrasts completely and perfectly with the dullness of the female’s sluggish brown. Yet they work together to build a family and take care of their babies. These birds mate for life, and the male helps the female by feeding her during mating season and incubation. Yet to look at them, you’d never really know they were the same type of birds.

On the outside, many members of the animal kingdom seem more respectful of their differences. Since most can’t express themselves to humans, it’s really hard to know. However, I know some of them like to complain as well.

I like you because you are different than I. Your hair has more volume, your skin is not covered with spots from too much time in the sun, your eyes are brown, your lips are more full and you weigh a lot less than I do. But it’s not just the physical things I like about you.

I like the fact that you prefer reading biographies to my spy novels. I appreciate the fact that you always take time to say hello when you call me on the phone (one of my little bad habits is that when I call people I know, I just jump in and start talking). Your sense of humor is different than mine, but you say some very funny things.

I admire you for always hanging in there as my friend, through thick and thin in a proverbial sense. You’re always glad to hear my voice, and you always take the time to say, “love you” at the end of our conversations.

Even though you don’t have a college degree, you are smarter than a whip and every time we speak, you teach me something about life or myself . You are patient with and kind to me. Your generosity extends to others, and you’re always willing to help someone in need. I like that the most about you, for it says much about your character.

You may not like Mexican food, be we both adore Chinese food. I’m Christian and you’re Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist.

We spend so much time complaining, nagging, whining and gossiping about how different so and so is from us that we forget we were all made from the same cloth…God’s multi-colored, multi-textured textile. When we celebrate our differences and look on the bright side, our whole day changes, and sometime, our lives change.

I appreciate you!

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Mom’s Place Mats and Fruit Salad


Mom never would have allowed her place mats to get dirty. As a matter of fact, Mom didn’t allow much of anything to get dirty without cleaning it right away.

I have many of her place mats, napkins, table cloths and linens now. I’m not the perfect housekeeper, though. Yesterday I noticed it was time to polish my dining room table. I think the last time I did it was four months ago. Before that, I didn’t own it, at least not the one I’m using in this house. I also own one of Mom’s dining tables, but it didn’t fit in the space or ambiance of my dining room here.

Anyway, I hate housecleaning in a lot of ways. The main reason I hate it is that I had a cleaning business for four years. That’s what brought on my osteoarthritis about 12 years too early. We cleaned houses for real estate agents. They were expensive homes with beautiful furniture or no furniture, depending on whether the house was going on the market or sitting empty before the new owners moved in usually.

Many of these upper class homes were also filthy. I’m not talking a little dirt here. I’m talking major grime, the kind that takes four hours just to clean one oven or three hours to clean a shower stall. I know you’re sitting there trying to imagine this type of dirt and how it could possibly take that long to clean one area. Trust me. I was there working alongside of the ladies I hired to help. In a shower like that, we had to take a single-edged razor blade to get the soap scum off. Yep. None of those products they advertise will remove scum instantly or after soaking a bit worked.

Want a real horror story? When we went to vacuum the very first house we cleaned, there were maggots in the carpet. Okay, you get the point.

Not all the houses were that dirty of course. But the back-, knee-, hip-, and hand-breaking work was enough to make me believe I deserve to have someone clean my house for the rest of my life. Right now that is not possible, but I intend to make it so!

Anyway, I noticed the beautiful flowery place mats were dirty. Heaven forbid. I wiped them off of course, but I never cleaned the little seam around the edge of these plastic beauties. So Mom, you would be proud to know I cleaned the place mats yesterday.

And then I made a fruit salad. Mom always got so excited by the fruits and vegetables of summer. She’d call me at some point every summer and say, “Eleanor, don’t you just love summer? The fruits and vegetables are so wonderful.”

I always agreed of course. I didn’t agree to be amenable. I agreed because I love them too

As I was making my fruit salad of bananas, blackberries, blueberries, pineapple and peaches, I thought of you, Mom.

One day we’ll share a heavenly ambrosia. I am looking forward to it.

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Two Tubes of Toothpaste or What, Me Worry?


My cat Annie is not worried about anything.

Yesterday one of my friends said, “Don’t bleed before you’re cut.”

I like that. I used to spend a lot of time doing that. I’d project the feelings I would have in a certain situation and then I would wallow in them. Or, I would worry about all the things I can’t control, such as other people, places and things.

It’s true. We can’t control other people, places or things. Nada. Zilch. Not at all. Zero. But we spend much time complaining that our spouse left the cap off the toothpaste AGAIN, when we could just buy two tubes of toothpaste.

We worry that our kids won’t get good grades, but we don’t spend any time helping them with homework.

We drive ourselves nuts wondering if the boss will be in a good mood or if s/he will have another one of those “bad” days.

We have sleepless nights thinking about the money we don’t have or the money we do have or the bills that have to be paid.

We think, “If only he/she would change, I’d be happy.”

We ponder whether or not we’ll have enough money for retirement, whether the food we make for a party will have guests adoring it, or if we’ll die of cancer.

Huh?

What? Me worry?

No more. I don’t worry about any of these things. I don’t project my feelings all over the place all the time and then blame it on someone else. Why?

Because I am only responsible for me. I can only control what I do or don’t do. I can’t predict the future, nor would I want to do so. It’s not up to me to tell someone else how to live their life if they haven’t asked for my advice (which is always good, by the way).

If someone says s/he will do something and doesn’t follow through, what can I do about it anyway? Nothing.

If something I plan doesn’t go the way I thought it would, I might be responsible for that or I might not. So, if I’m going to the grocery store and have a car accident because someone else was not looking and talking on his/her cell phone and hit me, can I change that? No. Period.

I don’t know when it happened, but I got tired of worrying, wondering, pondering and thinking about all the things, places and people and what might or might happen and what they might or might not do. It’s none of my business anyway. Really.

However, when I live in the moment, find joy in the small things, do the best I can each day no matter what my situation is, and help others I feel more whole. I feel closer to God. I feel that my life has a purpose, even if it’s only driving someone without a car somewhere that person needs to go.

I can’t change anyone else no matter how much I’d like to sometimes. I can only work on changing myself and being the best person I can be each day. I can be responsible for me.

So, what? You’re worrying? Try stopping and see how much better you feel. So, what? Someone drives you crazy because they do or say certain things all the time? Forget it. Just for a moment. One moment at a time, you can find peace. Really.

Oh, and by the way, it’s okay to bleed after you’re cut. But not for very long! Get on with it. Celebrate life! It’s the only way to live.

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Up, Up and Away in My Beautiful Balloon


Balloons at the Knoxville Balloon Festival, 2010

I always wanted to go to the huge hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, NM. I haven’t made it yet, but last year my daughter and I went to a smaller version in Knoxville, TN. What a dream come true I had as I saw balloon after balloon rise, then go higher and higher until they were out of sight.

I never had a desire to ride in one; I just wanted to see them go up. That is not true of airplanes. I love traveling by plane. It gives me a sense of what it would be like to be the man on the bottom of the largest balloon in the picture at the top of this page. Just a sense.

Sometimes all we need is just a sense of something, a taste of whatever, a little bit of that thing we’ve been longing for. At times, it’s enough to set us on an entirely different path in life, because it ignites in us a passion we never realized we had before that moment.

Travel is one of my passions. I like traveling alone, and I like traveling with someone. Sometimes I think that if I had the chance, I’d be gone three weeks out of every four. But then I know that I would miss my kitties, my garden and my own sweet four-poster bed.  Maybe being gone two out of every four weeks would be a better balance.

This year I went to Puerto Rico. It wasn’t the most memorable trip I’ve had by any means. It was more like a comedy of errors. I’m still glad I went, though. Oscar was probably the highlight of the trip. Standing about 5’7″ tall with wavy brown hair, Oscar was the taxi driver who saved me a lot of money. He declared that a lot of drivers would overcharge people just because they were tourists. So I paid him a set amount to drive us around for a couple of days. He took us to a beach where we found a few beautiful shells. I have shells from everywhere, though I haven’t personally collected all of them myself.

There was a huge conch shell with a small piece broken off. I like that shell almost better than the perfect ones in my collection. It shows me how we are such amazing creatures. Even when a small piece of us breaks, we’re still beautiful if we can see it or allow others to see it and show us our beauty.

I’m really getting itchy to go somewhere again. But when? Where? I don’t know. What I do know is that for this moment, I’m happy to be at home writing my blog. My kitties are snuggled up on the guest bed in the office, waiting for me to tell them it’s time for us all to go to bed. I think I’ll do that now.

Where would you like to go in this wide world? Leave a comment!

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Everything is Bits and Pieces


My two special pieces: my daughter Molly and my grandson Hammie

I am thinking about bits and pieces today. Everything in our lives, as well as our lives, our bodies and our Earth, comes in bits and pieces. Or it’s put together that way. Or not. Sometimes the pieces are huge, such as birth, death, divorce, marriage and so on. Other times, the bits are so very tiny we can’t even see them, such as the thousands of particles emitted when a wood fire is burning or the electricity that is only visible when we see lightning or sparks coming out of the wall outlet.

Today is the day before the 4th of July. That makes it the 3rd of July. I have just gotten out of the hospital again this week. That makes 12 days out of the last 52 that I had a nice little private room, no rest, peanut butter and crackers (no salt on the top) at night, and thousands of milligrams of Prednisone. I had my vital signs taken over and over, three IVs had to be replaced and found out they don’t allow hair dryers in hospitals (at least not here) because of the possibility of a short.

Friends and family called and came by, always making my day brighter. One friend sent flowers, the beauty of which will always remain in my memory. They were yellow daisies and lilies in a short, square vase. Yellow is my favorite color. The bits and pieces of my life in the last nearly two months are clear and cloudy. In between hospital stays, I went to Atlantic City, watched my beloved grandson graduate from eighth grade, swam and walked so much my muscles were sore for days afterward and won $14 (my gambling limit was $25).

A couple of people got angry and frustrated with me, my cats missed me more than anyone else I think (they refuse to leave the room I’m in now, no matter what room!), and my feelings ranged from elation to despair. I had wellness to drop-dead headache pain, watched the rain fall and the sun go down, and now I’m trying everything I can to just STAY well and GET healthy.

I’ve lost ten pounds in the last ten days. I haven’t done it on purpose. It just happened. That’s a blessing compared to the 30 pounds I gained the first time around on Prednisone. Prednisone – a miracle drug that wreaks havoc on your body.

Everything we have materially, all things we say either verbally, in writing or in sign language, and the whole fabric of our life experiences comes in bits and pieces.  Our cloth is made of plaids, stripes, stars, lying down and getting up, music and silence, and warm and cold. We can never predict what will happen each day.

How we go with the river of rapids and pools determines how we feel each day. If we fight the rapids, we’ll probably drown. If we never get past the cool, blue pools, we might not see a tomato plant growing day by day.

There are so many side stories to these last nearly two months of my life. But the most important story is that God blessed me today by giving me these words to share with you. I hope your holiday is safe for and friendly to you. This is an amazing country that we live in. And each day, our lives can be wondrous testaments to that and to life itself, or they can be cesspools filled with bacteria and viruses waiting to eat us alive. It’s really ours to choose. What will you choose today?

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