Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #10... and reading list #17

~Thank God for the United States of America's military personnel and their families. Especially thanks to those who gave all.

~Thanks to PBS for broadcasting the National Memorial Day Concert to honor our service men and women and their families. The spirit required to serve as they do is unique and powerful.

~Thankfully, I'm waking up to what is important, what matters, what is of true value: Honor, courage, integrity, refusing to give up, respect, faith, hope, and charity...

~Thanks again to friends who are journeying with me on my adventure.

~Thanks FOX for broadcasting the Sprint Cup races! Unfortunately, the rest of the season will mostly only be on cable.

~And thank God for books! As always. I've decided to take the challenge are read W. Cleon Skousen's The Five Thousand Year Leap in 30 days. I've begun, and already find myself awed.

I've put away Sink Reflections. Maybe I'll pull it out again later, much later, but for now, I'm letting it go.

Harlequin reprinted one of Tara Taylor Quinn's early books The Sheriff of Shelter Valley. I love her characters, and stories. She "gets" being a survivor. She's been a major factor in helping me face the past.

I did a quick re-read of Lucy Monroe's Willing. And tried a new author but didn't keep the book, as it didn't prompt healthy relationships. I'm all too familiar with unhealthy. I read books looking for healthy relationships, in the hope I'll learn something, even if all that something is is hope.

I thoroughly enjoyed Donna Hatch's Queen in Exile. It's a fantasy romance, ie, there's magic and creatures not of this world. Donna is on my must-buy list. The tale was captivating, and I couldn't put it down until it was finished! Fortunately, I finished before today's race was over, so I could watch it. :-)

Abby Gaines has a NASCAR novella out, "Chasing the Dream." Abby is one of those who has fed my NASCAR passion, and she writes a great romance story. I love that she manages to keep them chaste in an industry that thinks chaste is out of fashion, without losing that chemistry.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Continuing yesterday's thoughts...and an important announcement

To be fair, I've listened to Wayne Dyer speak on PBS, and I understand the importance of attitude. I well remember feeling like I had a stamp on my forehead saying "ABUSE ME" because my relationships, by and large, were abusive. When I started my third round of counseling, I finally figured out that I DID have a stamp on my forehead, so to speak. The way I interacted with people was a reflection of the behavior to which I was accustomed. I had to change how I interacted in order to change the types of relationships I had. It almost sounds like I'm advocating their philosophy. I'm not. This isn't about my expectations of the universe; this is about my expectations of myself. Life happens. Jobs are lost. People die. Sickness comes and goes, or not. I'm always baffled by those who think that we should all be prosperous and have picture-perfect lives. Job did not have the kind of life I would envy, neither did Paul or Peter or most of the Apostles. Could I do what Mother Theresa did? Nope. But I admire them no end.

I remember my frustration when I talked to my counselor about not knowing what to do. My prayers are pretty simple, and for the most part, I don't ask for things for me but for others. I was tired of the "wait" answer. My counselor looked me in the eye and asked, "What happened to John the Baptist?" He was beheaded. "What happened to Abinadi?" (Book of Mormon prophet) He was burned at the stake. "What happened to Joseph Smith?" I was quiet. My counselor prompted "He was shot." I replied, "I was thinking about him being tarred and feathered." My counselor's eyes widened, then he smiled, "Are you sure you want a definitive answer?" To which I promptly replied, "No, no, fuzzy is good. I can live with fuzzy."

This false idea that we have control over what's out there and what comes our way is nonsense. The ONLY thing over which we have control is whether or not we choose to look to God or not. All the other stuff is just stuff.

I can flood myself with positive thoughts about eating eggs. I love eggs. I mean, I really love eggs. For years, I've kept at least a dozen in the refrigerator at all times. No matter what. I have to have them. I am also highly allergic to them. Bran, which I've avoided for years, is a medium allergy. Eggs aren't just high, they are astronomical. The high range is between 700-800 and above. I scored over 1200. Yes, I'm really, really, really allergic to eggs. But I love 'em! I would take allergy pills so I could have eggs, over-easy, on toast. Yummy!

The important announcement: The ten eggs sitting in my refrigerator, that I only bought last Thursday, I gave away. All of them. At once. I feel like I've poured out the last bottle of wine or eaten that final piece of chocolate. No more. And I've established a plan that if I need eggs for baking, I will buy a dozen, use only what I need, and give the rest away. This is HUGE for me! This is about respecting myself and loving myself enough to let go of a hurtful habit. I did it, and will keep on taking steps to be healthier, in every aspect of my life.

No matter how much positive thinking I put into it, eggs will never be good for me. I have to change. I have to accept myself as I am and make changes that are in keeping with what truly matters, faith, hope, and charity. God has been amazingly patient in guiding me throughout my life. He always saw the bigger picture and what really mattered. One day soon, I'll post the discussion I had with my counselor about what I thought was what I should do and what God lead me to do. God's ways are not our ways. We can insist on our way, and He will let us go our own way, or we can reach deep for our trust and look to Him and say "Okay, God, what next?"

Monday, May 24, 2010

Carpe diem... and reading list #16

Those bland, bland potatoes work great for stretching the flavored potatoes. So, not a total loss there. A load of laundry was done. And some serious reading.

I found The Secret to be a shortened variation on Wayne Dyer's The Power of Intention. Both books leave me feeling a little hostile. "The Secret" is that you attract what comes into your life. Excuse me? Tell me a baby attracts being abused. Tell me my friend's sister attracted that drunk driver who killed her when he was driving on the wrong side of the freeway. Tell me one of my girlfriends attracted cancer as a teenager. Guess what? Life happens! Regardless of what you do, say, or think. Life is not about what happens to you; it is about what you do with what happens to you.

I closed the book when they started talking about good and bad emotions. So I'm bad, if I'm depressed? Guess what? Feelings simply are! Again, it's what you do with them that matters. Being sad is not bad. It's normal and healthy to experience a whole range of emotions. They declare that you cannot feel good and bad at the same time. I beg to differ. I have been terribly sad and overwhelmingly grateful, at the same time. Life is complex, with a lot of shades of grey, and that's what makes it so interesting! And There is More to the Secret roasted me when they implied that the "bad" feelings hinted at sin. Excuse me? I'm sinning when I'm sad over the death of a friend? Or I'm depressed because something I hoped for fell through? Yes, it can be a sign, but it can also be used to manipulate... I was going to say that this is where intentions come in handy: Do you intend to do good? Or bad? There are people who intend to do good and believe they are doing good when they shred someone else's sense of self. "It's for their own good." "How will they know what to change, if I don't tell them?" Talk of faith, hope, and charity, honor, respect, and courage, and God will do the teaching and leading.

Final gripe and tying it all together: They suggest that you want only "peaks" in your life, no "valleys." In case they didn't notice, only peaks makes for a flat line, and a flat line in life means your dead. Rant over.

I thoroughly enjoyed Wicked Regency Nights, five short stories from Harlequin's Undone line. Diane Gaston's "The Unlacing of Miss Leigh" is my favorite and the end always brings tears to my eyes. Sigh. I also thoroughly enjoy Annie Burrows' "Notorious Lord, Compromised Lady."

In Sink Reflects, I like the idea for ridding the house of clutter by asking "Does it bless me and my house?" If it does find a place for it; if it does, let it go. This is another book I'm finding simply doesn't fit me, even with being flexible. It has helped me focus, recognizing things that do apply to me that I've found in other places.

My review of Cheryl Wyatt's Steadfast Soldier. I loved it! I was floored by her mantra throughout the book "God's way isn't the easy way." What? All my life I was taught that God's way was the easy way, and if you simply follow His way all will be well. I felt like I was constantly messing up because life is so hard! Not to mention how humiliating and frustrating it would be to have others question my worthiness for God's guidance. "Are you reading your scriptures every day? Are you praying every day? Are you attending church? Are you doing all that you could be doing?" As if the difficulties in my life were entirely my fault and under my control, if only I were a better person...if only I were perfect, then everything would be perfect. Well, duh! But guess what, perfection is something that happens after this life. I did have a wonderful Sunday School teacher who taught that the reason we came to earth was to learn and grow, which sounds like it's painful and difficult, so if your life is painful and difficult, then you're probably doing something right. But in this story, over and over again it was emphasized that turning your life over to God was not easy. I kept thinking, "THIS is what I've found to be true in my own life." What a relief! God bless Cheryl Wyatt. I chose her first book because she was a debut author, and what a privilege and blessing that's been to collect the whole series. I'm looking forward to her next book.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #9... and reading list #15

~Wonderful friends who spoil me terribly, or more accurately, wonderfully. Gifts sent for no reason that are something I really want. And gifts waiting when I visit. I'm thinking of a long-handled scrub brush meant for a person's back, but I find them such a blessing for my feet when bending over is difficult because of my back. I finally remembered to buy one for myself. Love it!!

~Unexpectedly cool weather! It's almost June and the temp, today, was 78! I'll take it, for as long as possible!

~Dearest friends that broaden my perspective, gifting me with deeper understand and peace, feeling more fully God's love.

~Pillows that are the perfect size for easing the discomfort in my back.

~BOOKS! No surprise there. Loved SEALed With a Kiss! Jax is on my wish list, and Pickett speaks from my heart. I'm reading Steadfast Soldier by Cheryl Wyatt. I keep coming back for more of her Wings of Refuge series. And I've started The Secret. At this point, it isn't anything I haven't heard before. I'll write more once I've finished it. Still reading Sink Reflections, but finding it fits me less and less, except in the most basic ways.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Light in the darkness and reading list #14

I finished the Bucket book, and was pleased to realize how much I do right. That being said, God blessed me with an eye opener. A friend had sent me an email titled "Bitchology." I laughed and shared it with several friends. One wrote back that she laughed at first and then found herself more and more offended. She has a gift for words, putting things simply and yet eloquently and succinctly. As I read, at first I felt chastised, and then realized I could feel badly about it or I could shut up and buck up and admit she was right. Yep, she was right. All my life, I have tried to pretend that if I think of an unkind label in a different light it somehow changes the meaning. As my friend pointed out, thinking of it in a different light does not change the fact that I have accepted the label assigned to me. What? How did that happen? Why did I let it happen? Not just a little flickering flame in the darkness but a serious bolt of lightening making the night as bright as day. No more. Add to this the realization that I have to stop being the mean boss, and as God is wont to do, He has blended several threads all at once to make a cohesive whole of beauty and understanding. Awesome. It is time to think of myself kindly, with love and encouragement. Does that imply that I no longer recognize my shortcomings? Of course not.

As an example, I know I'm overweight, but labeling myself fat does not make it better; saying so isn't enlightening. I know this. I know what to do to change it, sort of; I'm learning anyway. Having someone point it out suggests I'm too stupid to figure it out on my own. I'm not. I get it. Telling me what to do to make it right is more likely to push me in the opposite direction, largely because my dietary needs are unusual. Telling me what I should do is counterproductive. Don't should on me. (Thanks to my counselor for that little gem.) It only makes me cranky because I know, and to be honest, I'm pretty frustrated with myself. I know that feeling safe helps. I know that feeling at peace with myself helps. I know that when I feel good enough that I'm eating right and sleeping like I should and exercising, weight melts off. That being said, my biggest enemy to weight loss is stress. My negative tape turn on so automatically it doesn't even take a specific event to trigger it. And there I am feeling like a hamster in a wheel, going nowhere fast.

Do I believe that I'll never label myself again? Nope. I've spent all my life forming and honing my habits, but now that I am able to make a conscious decision I know it won't take me years to release those unwanted habits. Focusing on Faith, Hope, and Charity has been making gradual changes in the way I think in general. Today's revelation is a bit of long-overdue fine-tuning, but in God's perfect timing I was finally ready to hear it, and He blessed me with an angel friend to deliver the message. I haven't the faintest idea how long it will take to establish permanent change. It may take a lifetime, but there is an undeniable pleasure in knowing that the change is finally occurring.

A Just-Because-It's-Tuesday gift showed up, today, a book I wanted but couldn't convince myself to pay for. SEALed With a Kiss, book 1, by Mary Margret Daughtridge. What a delightful surprise, from another angel friend! Thanks ((Mary))

Experimenting with food: Tried the regular Idahoan instant potatoes, using only water, instead of the recommended butter and milk. Bland, really, really bland, live-and-learn and never-do-again bland. The flavored varieties require only water, so I'll be sticking with those. Real potatoes of course are better, but this is food storage I'm exploring. When cans of wheat are useless one learns to be flexible and adapt.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fun and reading list lucky #13

Nieces, with their families, popped in for a few days. What fun it's been chatting with them! Wish they lived here, because there simply wasn't enough time. And wouldn't you know, my work schedule ended up heavier than usual.

Read In a Mother's Arms, a special two-shortish historical romance stories in one book. Jillian Hart wrote "Finally a Family," and Victoria Bylin wrote "Home Again." Bylin is on my must-buy list. She always has several insights that require I do a bit of rethinking and re-evaluating.

I also started How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. It's a relatively thin book. I thought, "Easy-smeasy. I'll read it in a snap." Then I read the first chapter and felt sucker punched. How often had I heard "You must repent not only of the sins of commission but those of omission." I always felt like I was trapped coming and going and could do nothing right. I bridled against the negativity, feeling swamped by the feeling that I would never be good enough. I recognized the whole of my life, and began to realize what an optimistic person I actually am. Diane Gaston blogged about optimism and hope, today. I'm always delighted my God's blendings. Diane is one of my very favorite writers. When she asked if we believed in the power of optimism and hope, and if we had an experiences, I wasn't sure how to respond. My first thought was very serious, and then a memory popped in: My younger brother nicknamed me Odie. Then the comic strip published Garfield’s rant to Odie: “Who could possibly love a grinning idiot like you?” Then it starts to rain, everywhere but on Odie. Garfield looks up and yells, “You stay out of this!” I’ve had plenty of rain in my life, but I know God is always there, and there isn’t anything more joyous than sharing God’s blessings.

Once I'd caught my breath, so to speak, I was able to continue reading. The focus so far has been on companies. My first thought was "how does this apply to me?" Instantly, I remembered my counselor. He talked to me about the mean boss I work for, the boss that criticizes and belittles. Me. My ah-ha moment: I will learn how to be a better boss to me. And so the adventure continues...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Carpe diem...

It wasn't a gobsmacked type of day, but a lot of little things were accomplished. Three loads of laundry, pancakes for the coming week, fish and mashed potatoes (trying a new flavor), finished SEALed with a Ring and Underneath It All, commented at a few blogs I follow, readied the documents I'll need for this week, and caught up on a few emails. My "sink" is still clean. Did a bit of exercise. Didn't sleep well, last night, so having a little trouble focusing my thoughts. Making mental lists for preparedness shopping. Yes, I realize this is actually a mistake, considering how much trouble I have keeping thoughts in my head, but I also use it to sort and sift. I figure I'll forget what I don't really need. :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #8... and reading list #12

~Sleep, blessed sleep, with no dreams. Even better. Thank God.

~A/C The weather is heating up, and air conditioning is such a blessing.

~Learning new things about myself, with the help of good friends and exercising my God-given problem solving skills.

~Cool enough weather to allow berries to ripen for yummy jam. All these years, I've thought in terms of food preparedness and storage when making jam. I like my blackberry jam all right, but I prefer grape jelly with my peanut better sandwiches. However, I love giving it away, and most of what I've made is already tagged. It's one of those things I truly enjoy doing.

~And books! I've added another must read author after reading Mary Margret Daughtridge's SEALed with a Promise. It's book two of three. I will be starting book three, next. As book one was starting at $20, a used paperback, I've decided I can live without it. I'm a fan, but I'm also practical. :-) I read Rachel Lee's Serious Risks. She's also one of my must-buys. I started Underneath It All by Jennifer Manuel Carroll and Kathy Schultz. It's been educational and fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Observations from this week's media input...

I just finished reading an article on Yahoo News about how the internet actually makes people happier. Of course, the study had its parameters. Studies can be skewed any way imaginable. What I found of interest were the comments. Several stated short and sweet that happiness comes from inside. The comment that caught my attention was the one that ranted on the evils of the internet. And if finally dawned bright and clear that "I" decide, "me", no one else, what to make of everything that crosses my path. Everything. So much of life is neither good nor evil, it simply is, but what I make of it in my life and in my own mind decides its value to me. And it doesn't matter what the value is to someone else, unless it is truly evil. I know too well that evil does exist, and it is hungry, devouring everything that will allow it to do so. But allowing it is a choice. Sometimes, I catch the backlash of someone else's choice, but it does not change my right to choose which I follow, even if only in my mind. Not even God will choose for me; He requires I choose for myself what path I will follow, toward Him or away.

The right to choose, free agency, free will, whatever you want to call it, is not something anyone gives us. It simply is. It cannot be given or taken away by anything "outside." Me, no one else, am the only one capable of making me decide to accept my right to choose or throw it away. They may endeavor to influence, but they may not decide. They may force me to a point where there is only one choice, but I still decide how I will make that choice a part of my life. Will I choose to focus on the good or the evil? Will I choose to recognize the truth, no matter how painful, or will I choose the momentarily comforting lie? Will I choose to fight for truth or choose to do nothing or fight against it? (The latter two are essentially the same.)

I've spent a great deal of my life choosing to do nothing in the hopes of not choosing wrongly. It does not work. I've made a lot of choices that haven't turned out as I hoped, but I have continued to move forward, into being a better person and making better choices. In the last few years, I've been working toward this end: Accepting and taking responsibility not for everything but for changing myself. The only thing I actually can do. Hopefully, by changing myself, I will influence the world around me for the better. I can do no more than that. No one can. Sadly, too many abdicate responsibility and revel in the blame game.

Because I have been willing to change, I have been blessed with incredible friends, who inspire me and uplift me, many of whom I would never have known existed if not for the internet. If not for the internet, I never would have known about this:

"Look at yourself after watching this"YouTube

I know I have some mental redecorating to do.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Praise God...

For cooler weather, providing sweet blackberries, making fabulous blackberry jam! I started the day a little after 5:00 a.m. Good thing because once the sun came up in ernest, the little white flies were way too helpful. Dad, bless him, helped pick berries. I've owned one of those huge yellow Tupperware bowls that are great for popcorn in a large family but useful to someone single, like me. Until today. It was filled to overflowing. Two batches of jam, with berries left over. If the weather holds off, just a little longer, there might even be a third batch, but the weather is heating. We'll see. The longest part of the process is removing the little "stones" in the center of the berries. Some have it, some don't. There is nothing in the world like seeing those beautiful jars lined up, full. I hurt. All over. Blessedly, there is ibuprofen. And not sorry in the least. Making jam is one of those things I'm glad I don't do it on a regular basis because it wears me out, but I preen all year long. And without God's grace and mercy, it wouldn't happen. Thanks God.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sink Reflections...

As mentioned in my last post, I've endeavored to make a more conscientious effort toward readying myself for the day, starting from the inside out, all the way to makeup and hair. I'm noticing a difference, mostly in the way I feel. I've also noticed that I may start with everything, down to shoes, it isn't long before it all peels way, shoes first, then out of the skirt and into shorts that still match my shirt, the makeup wears off, the earrings and necklace are next, until all that's left from this morning is my hair pulled back. I don't feel guilty about it. Neither do I feel like I wasted my time by dressing up to start the day. It's a really good way for me to recognize it's a new day, with new possibilities. Am I ready to recognize those opportunities and gasp them with both hands? I'm working on it. I'd planned to take myself to breakfast, but first couldn't justify the expense when I had perfectly delicious pancakes and buttermilk syrup at home. Besides, for the cost of a meal I could buy one or two books. And I did. I considered how I could work the morning to my advantage and made some slight changes and found things worked better. Learning to step back and consider other options is a learning process. And I'm pleased to realize I am learning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Carpe diem... and reading list #11

I've been craving buttermilk syrup and pancakes, for a while. Today, I allowed myself the pleasure of cooking, while I did a little experimenting. The buttermilk syrup turned out fabulous, as always. Maple syrup no longer has a place on my breakfast menu. Why? When there's buttermilk syrup? I've enjoyed IHOP's blueberry syrup, which is, admittedly, quite yummy. But my first choice is buttermilk syrup. Have I mentioned that I like buttermilk syrup? And buttermilk freezes nicely, so I can buy a half quart, which is how it comes, and freeze it in one cup portions. Perfect. I tried Krusteaz Buttermilk Pancakes. Easy, add water, whisk, pour, and cook. Definitely a keeper. It made for a fun morning.

Yesterday, I started and, today, finished A Mother's Gift by Arlene James and Kathryn Springer. A couple of inspirational short stories that were charming and well suited to the holiday. I'm trying another new author, Debbie Mazzuca's Lord of the Isles. A time travel to the Highlands romance novel. So far, so good.

I've read another chapter of Sink Reflections. I dress to shoes because I'm going out for a walk first thing, but they come off as soon as I'm back home. FlyLady would be unhappy with me, too bad. My physical therapist was baffled as he tried different wedges under my feet, trying to find the perfect orthotics. He finally sat back on his heels, and stared at my feet. I tried not to be nervous, but the longer he stared, the more nervous I became, so I asked. "What's wrong?" He sighed, then looked up at me. "Your feet are absolutely perfect for you." I grinned. Wow, something about me is perfect. Cool. So, why mess with perfection? LOL! I'm endeavoring to remember to do the makeup and hair thing. I like it, but it will take practice. Fortunately, FlyLady is all for practice.

I've been listening to Glenn Beck for a couple of months, now. I consider him my voice of sanity in an insane world. He has encouraged me to think for myself, decide what I really believe, and read and learn. (No, he never suggested romance novels, but I like them, and because of him I'm reading a lot more books that aren't romance, now.) Usually, I feel like I've been walking around with my eyes closed and my hands over my ears while I do the la-la-la-la-la bit because I didn't want to know. Today, I realized I do get it, and I have been getting it for a long time. I just didn't realize it. He read a quote from one of the new "big wigs." It spoke of the importance of being a radical, and the ultimate example of radical behavior. Because it worked; the first radical got his own kingdom. Lucifer. How many times, particularly in the last few years have I listened to the plans of men to make sure everyone was all right, to make sure everyone was taken care of, to make sure everyone could be saved and found myself asking, "Who's plan was it to save everyone? Oh, that's right, it was Lucifer's plan." Every person on the plant voted not to follow Lucifer's plan. As Kelley would say, "You've got a body; you can't deny it. You voted for it!" Now, I watch in amazement at the increasing number of people who advocate and make decisions that suggest they're sorry they voted for Christ's plan. I've gotten it for a very long time; it's simply that now I've found someone else who also gets it but was saying it differently, and there are a whole bunch of people who also get it. I want more choices. It's what I voted for, from the very beginning.

On a final fun note, I found the following quote by Debbie, from Clearwater FL, on an almond Dove Promise: Whistle while you work. It blows the dust around.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #7... and reading list #10

It's a difficult day to say I'm Grateful it's Sunday because it's also Mother's Day. Difficult for far too many reasons, but the goal isn't to be perfect but to be a little better than I was before.

~I attended church. I had actually specifically planned not to attend church because it's all about Mother's Day. I didn't want to deal with it. I even stayed up late reading, so I'd sleep in. I didn't. In a very informal prayer, I talked to God about the day. And the words could almost have been whispered in my ear, "I want you to go to church, today." I sighed and replied silently, "You know why I decided I wasn't going to do that, today." "I know, and I understand, but I want you to go, today." I sighed again. "For You, I'll go." "That's all I ask." So I went. I chose to sit on the opposite side. Good thing, as the perfumey couple showed up a few minutes late, as usual, on the other side. I didn't have to move. One of the women greeted me warmly as she usually does. We exchanged names, again, and were both grateful that the other was willing to admit they couldn't remember the name. She wished me an uncertain Happy Mother's Day, almost as if she knew it might not be the right thing to say. It touched my heart. Then the cutest little blond boy, maybe four or five years old, walked to the back of the chapel to give me a little cellophane bag containing a carnation corsage. I watched him walk back to his mom, who mouthed to me, "Happy Mother's Day." But I felt like a fraud. I wasn't married and wouldn't and couldn't have children, and my two furry children were waiting for me at The Rainbow Bridge. I couldn't keep it, but I didn't want to waste it. A young couple, with a baby, came in a little late and sat in front of me. I gave the little gift to her. I'm sure she would have been given one at the end of the meeting, but I was pleased to see her pin it on, while her husband held their precious little baby. (And I mean little.) I couldn't sing the opening song; it was all I wanted and didn't have, couldn't have. I stayed for the Sacrament, a then left. My back had had as much as it could take. I walked home, but part way there, a neighbor was also headed my direction and asked if I needed a ride. Thanks but no, I really needed to stretch my back. The only reason I went was because God asked it of me, and I'm not sorry I did.

~As always, I'm grateful for good friends, who understand when I fall apart and don't tell me to buck up, especially as I'm quite capable of doing that myself, but they do try to make me smile and laugh, after they've acknowledged my right to be sad.

~Cooler weather, coming this week. Maybe I'll be able to salvage some of the blackberries. Again I say: God bless farmers!

~So many good people in this world, who care about others, and continue to move forward in Hope.

~And, of course, good books. I took the weekend to read Stephanie Meyer's The Host. Oh, my goodness! One of my nieces let me borrow her copy. Thank you!! I'll be purchasing my own copy soon, to keep. Wow. I also tried a new author, Anne Patrick's Lethal Dreams. A "sweet" or "inspirational" suspense (depending from which publisher you take your definition). Dr. Erin Jacobs is a sports physical therapist. She stumbles on a crime scene where two officers have been shot, Detective Logan Sinclair and his partner. The story is well paced; the characters are engaging; and there are some great twists and turns. She is now on my must-buy list. Unfortunately, her books go to ebook format first, so I have to wait for them to come out in print, but well worth the wait. I'm past the introduction to Sink Reflections and have been struggling with how to do much of anything when so much doesn't apply to me. To start, what to do about the shiny sink, since I don't have my own kitchen. I chose a spot on my desk that easily gets cluttered, but I feel so much better if it isn't. Marla would call it a Hot Spot, but I need a sink to shine every night, and I'm choosing this spot. I figure I've got plenty of other Hot Spots that renaming one won't hurt. I've been working on it for a couple of days, and I really do enjoy seeing that one spot look like I want it to look. Now that I've made that adjustment, I think it will be easier to make more.

And a final note about preparedness: I've been trying different instant potatoes. My favorite are the ones from the bishop's storehouse, potato buds, if I can get them, but otherwise I prefer the ones that only require adding water, as opposed to those that require adding water, milk, salt, and butter. Both seem to have the same shelf life. If I'm going for long-term type stuff, easier is better.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Niggles and reading list #9

Had an interesting niggle to go to a meeting. I'd planned to go, intended to go, readied myself to go, and went part of the way, then had the strongest feeling I needed to return home. Only argued with myself briefly. There were things I truly needed to do at home, and they were done. So why did I feel the need to go at all? Why not save the time? I think it was in part following through on a decision, a decision that was fine. However, there was a better choice, and I had been so bent on my plan that I hadn't considered anything else seriously. I felt good for being willing to go, and better for choosing to come home. I also managed a bit of walk. The walk may have been what it was really all about. I know there are those who wonder why I gave up bicycling. I was losing weight. However, my hands would be tingling and then numb in less than a half mile. My flexibility increased, but since I quit biking I've never had that tearing sensation that feels like my body is being ripped in half across the middle. Don't miss that, let me tell you.

I read a couple of Kelly Hunter Harlequin Presents. Her sense of humor is wonderfully wicked, and she has some insights that speak to my own life experiences. I also started Sink Reflections by Marla Cilley. There is so much that doesn't apply to me that I wondered why I was bothering. Then came the God breeze, I'm very good at adapting. This will require major adaptions, but I think, in the long run, it will be well worth the effort.

My budget is taking shape, as sad as it is. I'm finding that dovetailing it with my pantry preparedness is proving to be extremely educational. No one can decide for me what I truly want in that pantry or how much I'm going to spend on setup. I'm learning to keep track of the deals, as in the cheapest prices, so that when a store offers a "sale" I can check my price list to see the cheapest I've been able to find a particular product. I'm also keeping track of not only what I like but some of the things I don't like, so I don't forget and buy it again, simply because it looks good. :-) Sadly, my poor blackberries are already being prematurely dried by the hot weather. Weeping. Weeping. Weeping.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Trust... or not...

I'm always intrigued by God's little "tests" to see where I'm at, at any given point in time. It's usually something really pretty insignificant. This time it was the simple lack of a receipt in a book shipment. I know it's somewhere, but where? Still at the company or in some stranger's shipment? My friend has actually ended up with someone else's receipt in her shipment. Of course, then you think about identity theft. And the mind runs screaming, wildly out of control. I emailed the company, who promptly e'd me back that there wasn't any information but my name and address, so it isn't as if my account can be messed with in any way. I was still uneasy. Then I thought of all the times I've been told, "God will protect you." And I all but shouted back, "Not necessarily!" If I didn't know better, I would have sworn God smiled because I felt the inevitable "Why do you feel that way?" "Because He hasn't in the past." Why change now? I reminded myself that though He didn't protect me, He never, ever abandoned me. He was always there. Then something new occurred to me. God isn't nearly as concerned about what happens to me as He is about what I do about it. What happens on the outside isn't important; it's what happens on the inside that truly matters. I found myself thinking of Job and John the Baptist, both incredibly good men, and look what happened to them. Life happens. God lets it. What am I going to do about it? How will I allow it to impact me? What kind of person will I allow myself to become because of what happens to me? I've always loved Ralph Waldo Emerson's quote "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies with us." And as God is wont to do, He neatly tied it all together. Rainer Maria Rilke (she has a poem I loved so much I memorized it) was quoted in one of my gadgets: "The only journey is the journey within."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Carpe diem... and reading list #8

Despite feeling like Paddy's flea, I was able to complete a few projects. Laundry~the never ending activity. Must not complain since it's only one or two loads a week. Checked various websites, commenting, here and there. Readied documents for work this week. Explored Wallbuilders.com. That's going to be a long-term exploration of my country's history with all that's available there. Learned about it through David Barton, who had spoken at Glenn Beck's American Revival. Amazing! Listened to Glenn Beck on the radio, today, and found myself laughing. He has a gift for tackling things what annoy me, and helping me not take things out of my control too seriously and focusing on what I can do something about. It was also interesting to have it driven home the importance of telling the truth, to yourself and to others, from another direction. In the Romance Writer's Report, Patricia McLinn shared her experience in dealing with her books being pirated online. Astonishing how many people willingly sell their integrity. The Risky Regencies group discussed the differences between writing romances set during Civil War times and the Regency Era. Hadn't quite realized how intensely I felt about that.

In the last week, I've been catching up with my reading a bit. Read a couple of books whose authors are now on my no list. Today, I delved into The Setup by Marie Ferrarella, who is on my must-buy list. The first chapter alone was worth the price of the book. She has a delightfully dry sense of humor.

All things considered, namely the fact that it was all I could do to focus on one thing at a time for more than a few minutes, it wasn't a bad day's effort. Oh! And started the wheels turning on a personal project. Very excited about that... for as long as I can remember it, anyway. Blessedly, sanity is returning, soon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #6...

Yes, I've changed my gratitude day. Friday is one of my heavier work days, and if I've planned something for the evening, it's all I can do to finish what I must. Sunday has always been my day to pause and reflect and plan, so it seems a natural choice.

*NASCAR I love the speed and the trading paint. Better yet, Carl had decent finishes in both the Nationwide and the Sprint Cup, this weekend. And Thank You to Fox for broadcasting the Sprint Cup races. I'll be sad when they move to the cable stations that I don't have. Hey, the money only goes so far. At least I'll be able to watch the leaderboard on NASCAR.com.

*Good books and book clubs of varying purposes that bring me into contact with wonderful women who make me stretch beyond myself, laugh, and feel connected.

*Friends who remind me what is truly important.

*Altered Tails for caring about the health and welfare of animals not their own.

*A few blessed days of cool weather before summer sets in, for far too long. I am extremely grateful for air conditioning that makes the increasing heat bearable.

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Preparedness and Name Brand vs Generic

When I started listening to Glenn Beck I was amused by some of the ads, like the one about seeds. Yep, you buy yourself those special seeds, and then it doesn't rain or it floods and the temperature fluctuates too much and/or too fast, and those seeds die in the ground. Owning blackberry bushes, I've developed a profound respect for farmers. About every other year, my crop is lost to the weather warming too fast. The berries look delicious, but they are TART, and they don't have time to sweeten before they're dried like raisins, which doesn't improve the flavor. Farming requires a deep and abiding faith that everything will come together at the right time, in the right way, without anything like hail storms, tornadoes, pests, etc, ruining it all, should all the other uncontrollable factors work together for good. God bless farmers, please.

I've been reminded that I need to have some sort of storage, just in case. Many years ago, I had a year's supply of almost everything, including dog food. It came in handy when I was out of work for three years. Yes, it did stretch, like the oil and flour. I stopped when I hoped I'd move soon and dreaded the thought of moving everything. Well, there's no end in sight, and I've decided that if I have to move it, so what. There's a peace in knowing I'm making an effort to be prepared, just in case. I'm starting with the non-perishables, like toothpaste, ear swabs, soap, etc. When my dog was alive I had wheat to make food for her, just in case. I'll allergic to bran, so what's the point of storing wheat or oats? I can't eat it. However, I have bags of white flour in my deep freezer (keeps bugs from growing in it). I've learned that regular rice will store a long, long, long time. Jasmine rice, however, only keeps about three months. I know soup keeps well, but it doesn't agree with me. The cheap noodles keep fine, but the spice packet will go rancid. I'm learning what keeps and what doesn't. And more importantly, I'm learning to ask myself what will I truly eat. If I'm not going to rotate it, then it shouldn't be in my pantry.

Name brands and generics are not created equal. The only way to know is to experiment. Peanut butter, I've tried generic, Jiff, Peter Pan, and Skippy. I prefer Skippy. Grape jell/jam, I've tried Simply Fruit, Welch's, and generic. The simply fruit generic was delicious, but really expensive. I don't notice a difference between Welch's and generic. Cheese, Kraft vs Krogers (the local store brand), I prefer Kroger. Lactose-free milk, Lactaid vs the store brand, I prefer the store brand. Snackwell's Devil's Food Cake Cookies vs Kroger, absolute no difference except the price. Kroger was cheaper. Rocky Road ice cream, there is only Private Select. All the others have gone to a marshmallow cream. I want bits of marshmallow. I remember when I conducted my taste-testing on chocolate. Starbucks makes an amazing milk chocolate, but it's expensive. I tried about sixteen different milk and dark chocolates. I finally settled on Dove, both in milk and dark. All that being said, I know others will make different choices. Thank goodness for variety. And when I find myself with something I don't like, I know someone else will, so I've not wasted my money, simply shared it unexpectedly.