Category Archives: Behavior

Bloom Where You’re Planted


“Whoever would have thought I’d be planted here?”
Photo by Ellie Kuykendall

In a million years, I never thought I would be living in South Carolina. This is NOT where I wanted to spend my “golden years.” But you know, God had other plans for me. And this is where I am.

So, I was thinking the other day that I need to remember the simple phrase, “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” I remembered it while I was putting plants into the above unlikely containers. We’re used to seeing plants in pots of all descriptions: clay and plastic, bright and dull colors, large and small, patterned and plain, and hanging baskets. However, we’re not used to seeing plants in tea tins or ceramic pitchers that were designed for liquids.

And that’s like me in South Carolina. At times I feel like a flower in a pair of kid’s rain boots. Most of the time these days, though, I believe I’m exactly where I belong. Why? Because of the many blessings I’ve been given since I moved here almost four years ago.

I thought I’d be traveling the world, preferably with a husband. Neither of those retirement dreams has materialized. Maybe they still will, and maybe they won’t. How I accept the circumstances in my life is more important than the conditions in which I find myself.

Will I complain about what I don’t have, or will I be grateful for what I do have? Will I seek out new opportunities to help others, or will I isolate and feel sorry for myself? Do I do a check each day to see whether I’ve offended someone and then make amends if I need to do so? Can I look for the gifts I bring to others instead of wondering why I’m not more like so and so?

Each day is a new opportunity for me to grow, listen, change, be still, and add something to someone’s life. If I keep these things in the forefront of my mind, I’ll remember that I have done some traveling to different countries in the world. This is much more than many other people have experienced.

If I remember that I am a child of God, the negativity slips away.

And more than anything, if I continue to have faith, then I realize that God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself.

I hope you have a blessed day!

One more thing…I would love to hear about your blessings, so please feel free to leave a comment.

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Filed under Behavior, Feelings, Helping Others, Spirituality, Uncategorized

Starting Over…If I Can Do It, So Can You!


Up, up and away! Photo by me šŸ™‚

Writing: my hope, my dream, my nemesis, my muse. I had my first story published when I was eight years old. It was about a water moccasin in the toilet. The local paper published it, and I was a proud writer. And then, it got sidetracked — that dream of mine — to be a full-time writer. It went off course because of getting married at a very young age, moving out of California to the South, supporting my husband’s career instead of my own, and mostly because I didn’t believe enough in myself in order to work at making my dream come true.

Then, in 1997, it happened. I saw a commercial with Magic Johnson. “If you do one thing toward your goal every day, at the end of a year you’ll have done 365 things.” Or something like that. Bingo. Hotter than heck light bulb goes on. Serendipity. Inspiration. And YES – my muse started working overtime for the first time ever. Within a month I was published. Within a year, I was making pretty good money writing. During that year, I went to South Korea to teach English for the first time.

The trip and living in another cultureĀ  inspired my muse even more. Plenty of subjects to write about. Lots of time to write. Success comes in the form of published work, both in the United States, on the internet and in Korea itself for the Korea Times, Seoul’s English language newspaper.

Then back to the United States in 1998. I move back to the South to be near my only grandson, who is one and one-half years oldĀ  at the time. What a sweetie pie he was (and still is). And writing. Yes, yes, YES! I am a full-time freelance writer and editor, adding credit after credit to my resume.

And then it all falls down, like the proverbial Humpty-Dumpty sliding down the hill. Clients don’t pay, I get depressed and more. I go back to South Korea and that falls apart as well. “What is happening to me,” I scream at my God. “ARE YOU LISTENING? HELPPPPPP.” I go back to South Korea and learn valuable lessons there.

And God does help, but not in the way I thought he would. I come back to the U.S. and do some writing for a content mill and am frustrated the whole time with the complete idiocy of the editors the mill selected. They mangle my work, add more mistakes (my writing is usually pretty much error free, and suppress my style.

More changes. Now I am ill, so ill I can’t work. This lasts for more than two years. In the hospital, out of the hospital, one thing after another, aches and pains all over, and I feel as if I am aging so fast and so prematurely that life hardly seems worth living.

Finally feeling better now. Thank you again, God.

And that, my friends, brings you up to date (without ALL the details) on my life. And HERE I AM.

So now, I’m starting my writing career over, because all my really good credits are a few years old. But it’s okay. Starting over is better than not starting at all.

What do you need to start over? Do you need to quit smoking or drinking so you’ll be healthier? Is there a relationship that you need to work on without blaming the other person for the problems in the relationship? Are you sick and tired of your career and need to start a new one? Do you need to lose weight so you can walk up stairs better or fit into clothes you really want to wear? No matter what it is, you can start over. If I can do it, so can you!

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When the **** Hits the Fan…


don’t run. It won’t do any good at all.

Instead, sit still for a moment and face it and all the consequences, situations, pain and anguish it causes. Running doesn’t do any good. Drinking away your pain only lasts as long as the effect of the alcohol lasts. Indulging in shopping or over-eating just because are just other ways of running.

STOP.Ā  This is an acronym for Stay There Only Peacefully.

Why? Because if you can do this, you will not only grow from the experience, but the pain will pass more quickly.

Pick a flower, go for a walk, admire God’s handiwork in the clouds, help someone out, eat something healthy for more and better energy, read something spiritual, volunteer at the humane society or the homeless shelter, or buy a card and send it to someone.

These things I listed above will take you out of yourself. Getting out of yourself when you’re in crisis is the only thing that will work quickly to start the healing.

Almost everyone I’ve ever known (and some I’ve not known but have heard about) wants to run from painful or bad situations. Hence, they stay in pain longer, take their anger out on others or do something harmful to themselves or their finances (such as shopping when you don’t really need to or eating unhealthy food).

I usually give myself a certain amount of time to feel sorry for myself. That helps. But there have been some situations where I continued to let a negative situation get me down for years. I hope I never do that again.

I’d like to be a beacon of love and peace to all I meet. I can’t think of anything more wonderful than having people say that about me when I die. Of course, I won’t know if they do, but that would be the greatest tribute I can think of.

Happiness doesn’t have to be an elusive butterfly. For me it lies in having a right relationship with my God. When that is at the top of my list, all the pain, sorrow and anger melts away.

Have a blessed day and thanks for stopping by!

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Filed under Behavior, Feelings, Helping Others, Spirituality, Useless Emotion

One Brief Shining Moment


Camelot. A beautiful and stirring musical. If you don’t remember the title song, here’s a link to it so you can listen to it while you read my blog (it will open up in another page).

One brief shining moment. Ever had one? Of course you have. We all have. Maybe it was the time your fifth grade teacher praised your work. You knew you’d done a good job, but you never expected his or her praise.

Perhaps it was the time you planted a garden. After it had time to grow, you looked out at it and thought, “This is so beautiful. And I played a big part in making it so!.”

One of your brief, shining moments may have been the day your son or daughter was born. If you’re a woman, you probably thought, “What a miracle. This beautiful baby actually grew inside me.” If you’re a man, you may have said to yourself, “I can’t believe I had a part in this incredible moment.”

A brief shining moment could have occurred when you graduated from school, got a raise or promotion at your job,Ā  played a part in a school or professional play, had someone call you and compliment you on something, and they’d never even met you in person!

Brief and shining moments happen all the time, don’t they? Another example is you making a decision to marry the person you love or moving to a different place because you know there is more opportunity there. And, they are not dependent on another person. That’s the same as saying another person can’t make you happy. HappinessĀ  comes from within.

What would happen if you wrote down your list of brief shining moments and carried it around with you? Then, when you felt yourself getting upset by another person, place or thing, you could pull out your list and take yourself back to one of those moments.

I think our lives would have much less stress in them if we all did this on a regular basis. After all, who could stay upset knowing they’re in “Camelot” for one brief shining moment?

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Shhh – No Talking Please


I boldly went...lol

Okay, I’m back. It’s ’bout time, you say? Yes, it is.

So, think of all the places where people don’t talk, either by tradition or by regulation, and you’ll NEVER guess where I was told I was talking too loudly on my cell phone today. Never!

Let’s see…we have the library where people study, right? I always think of “Marian, the Librarian” from the “The Music Man,” when I think of not talking in libraries.

Then there are doctors’ offices. Many doctors’ offices have little signs that say “Please don’t use your cell phone.” There’s a good reason for those signs. Sensitive electronic equipment can be thrown off by the signals cell phones emit.

Same goes for airplanes while they’re taking off and in flight. You wouldn’t want to cause a pilot error leading to a crash of the plane you’re on, would you? Of course not.

School. Whether it’s elementary or graduate school, teachers don’t want to be interrupted while they’re getting across the multiplication table or the table of elements.

All of these make sense. Now, we have elevators. By tradition, people don’t talk at all on elevators. I always like to shake things up a bit and say something to someone when I’m riding in an elevator. Just makes it seem like more fun to me. Sometimes I get strange looks, sometimes I don’t. Who cares anyway? (I don’t, obviously).

Music and theater goers don’t want to be interrupted by your son calling you to say he’s been arrested for drunk driving. Nor would they be happy to know that your daughter is pregnant and her boyfriend left her when he found out the news. Nope. Silencing your cell phones while you’re in a public venue only makes perfectly good sense.

If you’re a bank robber planning a heist, it would be best not to advertise it during your ride on the subway. However, other than that, go ahead and talk while you take the train to work. Everybody does it anyway, right? Right.

And so, my dear readers we get to today. I needed to get a letter stating my Social Security benefits, so I headed on down to the local Social Security office this afternoon. Never mind that I was having a very difficult time breathing this afternoon and had to stop five times between the parking garage and the SS office. And SS office it surely was. I pop on in, grab a number and go to the corner to rest my eyes until my number is called.

At some point during my little rest, I decide I’ll call a friend who’s also been ill and see if she’d like to go to dinner. There I am, peacefully minding my own business and talking to my friend when the guard calls out, “You’re talking too loud. Go out in the hallway if you want to talk that loud.”

My mouth dropped open in amazed perplexity (is that a word? If not, I just coined one). I told my friend I had to get off the phone. I called back to the guard, “What do you mean I can’t talk on my cell phone. This is the Social Security office for goodness sake.”

“If you watch that screen, you’ll see the rules,” the burly and surly guard mutters.

“Oh, so I’m supposed to watch the screen, which I can’t see from my seat, to find out that I’m not supposed to talk any louder than you can hear me on the phone, is that right?”

“That’s right,” he said, unapologetic.Ā  “This is a federally-controlled office.”

“Oh, so now you’re telling me that this is a federal office I may be committing a felony and have to go to the penitentiary, all because I was talking on my cell phone?,” I call back to him.

At this point, I collapse in laughter, as do most of the people in the room – all except the guard that is.

And blessed be, my number was called right after that. I told the guy behind the wall about the incident, and he thought it was hilarious. I also told him I now had a subject for my blog today and gave him the web address for it. So, if you’ve stopped by, Mister guy behind the wall, I hope you had a good rest of the day and that the laughter I brought into your life made it all seem worthwhile.

After all, laughter is the best medicine, isn’t it? And now, I’m sorry, but I’m off to write my Congressman about this very important issue to see if there’s anything he can do about the rule saying you can’t talk while you’re waiting in the Social Security office.

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11 Hornworms on My Cherry Tomato Plant — Count ’em!


This nasty little creature was photographed by http://morguefile.com/creative/MindExpansi0n

Dang. I went out to water my container garden this morning and what do I see? About eight or nine (didn’t count ’em) branches with all the leaves gone from the top. I knew immediately what it was, and I started looking for those ugly critters, the tomato hornworms. One by one I picked them off and stomped on them. Can’t you just see me now,with that look of satisfaction on my face as their green guts poured out onto the brick walkway? YES! Wow, do I ever hate those things. They do as much damage in the night as Japanese beetles do during the day. I had hoped my cherry tomatoes would keep coming until the first frost. But with almost half the plant gone, I’m not so sure now.

Life has a habit of throwing us curve balls. Like most batters, we rarely hit them back in a graceful and pleasing manner, hence my smashing those critters to a gory end and believing that I was right and justified in doing so.

Righteousness and justification are easy for us. After all, we’ve been wronged or we believe our opinion is the only one that matters or we think others really don’t understand the nuances of us being right. I should know. Not only was I a drama queen, but I also justified my actions constantly to anyone who would listen. I righteously believed that many of my problems were caused by the way others treated me, rather than by the way I acted.

Fortunately, I’m not a drama queen anymore. I’ve given up that role to others. I still catch myself thinking I’m always right and feeling totally justified, when in fact I’m just making an excuse. But it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to happen, thank goodness and thank God.

I think God created the hornworm for two reasons and two reasons only. First, there’s a parasitic wasp that lays eggs on the hornworm. When the eggs hatch, the wasps kill the hornworms. That’s nice, but I wasn’t willing to wait today! Second, I think God made these yucky creatures to test our stress levels. Do we run screaming to the house yelling, “There are all these ugly worms on our tomato plants” and quckly get out the pesticide to make sure none of them live on our plants anymore?

You get the idea. As for me, I didn’t run screaming anywhere, but evey time I squashed one, I yelled, “YES!” and a few other choice words not fit to print. I have an unopened bottle of Sevin. But I just couldn’t bring myself to use it tonight before it got dark. I decided that I didn’t want to kill the bees and wasps that pollinatea my tomato blossoms, and had I used the Seven, that’s exactly what would have happened. So, I just said a little prayer and hope I don’t find more of the green uglies tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, I hope you haven’t had any curve balls recently, but if you have, just remember that you are God’s special child and He loves you more than you’ll ever know.

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God’s Bounty


God's bounty, by Ellie Kuykendall 2011

The fruits and veggies in the photo all came from my yard. I didn’t have a “garden” per se this year, but I did grow some vegetables in containers — except for the tomatoes, of course — they’re considered fruits. The Gerbera daisies finally bloomed – about four of my seven plants all at the same time.

If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see that the bell pepper has a spot on it, as do the apples and pears. They don’t have just one spot, though, they are covered in spots. Found out today that I need to spray the apple tree next February and March to have perfect apples next fall.

I love this photo because it represents a wide variety of things to eat. I also love it because God’s bounty from my yard is like God’s handiwork in people…lots of different people with many interests, religions characteristics and, of course, flaws.

I’ve been thinking about my own character defects recently. For a long time I just beat myself up thinking I wasn’t worthy of much of anything from love to God’s grace. I didn’t really look at myself in a realistic way to see what my flaws were and whether I could (or would) change them.

One of my most glaring defects has been speaking my mind whether or not others want to hear what I have to say, often without any tact at all and certainly without thinking of how my words my impact them. Living in the South for so many years has finally taught this California-born gal to think most times before I give my opinion or advice. Notice I said “most times,” not “all times.” Obviously, if it were “all times,” then I would be perfect in that regard. I’m not. But I’m pleased I’ve made some progress along the way.

Rushing to judgment of a person or a situation is something else I used to do all the time. Now, at least, I’m usually able to catch myself doing that, and it feels good to remember that unless I have ALL the information, I am really in no position to judge. On the other hand, Jesus said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Remembering that helps put me in my place.

What about yourself would you like to change? I’d love to hear some feedback on this issue. And, of course, if you like what I’ve written, I hope you’ll share it with people you know.

Oh, and by the way, the pears are some of the sweetest I’ve ever had, and the spots don’t affect the taste at all. The apples are quite tasty, too. It just goes to show you that flaws or not, you can’t always just a fruit by it’s brown spots. šŸ™‚

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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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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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