Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Back in December 2009, I decided I was tired of the Resolution Rat Race. It annoyed me no end that making promises to one's self to change was treated like a huge joke. I truly wanted to change my life. I needed to change my life. I didn't want to hear the jokes about not making it through January Second. What was the point?

Being the problem solver that I am, I went to work mulling over possible solutions. In December, I used one of my Christmas cards for myself. Within it, I wrote out the gifts I planned to give to myself for Christmas throughout the coming year. I accomplished them, to a certain extent. Last Christmas, they all made it on my list of Gifts to myself, again, in varying forms. I realized they were gifts I wanted to give to myself, every year, for the rest of my life. Now, I hold to those gifts, but starting this year, I'll add more specifics. This year, for the first time, I'm going to give myself gifts in what I consider to be seven overall areas of my life: Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Writing, Social, Giving.

This year's Christmas Gifts to Myself:

1. I allowed lack of funds to curb my Just Because It's Tuesday gifts. I want to learn to do it without spending a lot of money.

2. Lose the fat. A friend posted a picture showing the difference between 5 lb of fat and 5 lb of muscle. It made an impression. I'm not going to think of it as losing weight, but losing fat.

3. Kindle - I need an ebook reading device.

4. Finish two more novels, in addition to becoming in every sense of the words a published author. I want to learn how to write articles.

5. Do more about my appearance. I know I'll feel more comfortable in social situations if I feel more comfortable with my appearance. I've allowed a lot to slide because I wanted to pretend like it didn't matter. It does.

6. I enjoy natural beauty products, especially making my own, but I haven't done much of it, ever. This year, I'm going to do more of it. I have incredibly sensitive skin, and can't use a lot of products. Natural products, I make myself, seem to be easier on my skin.

7. Continue to be a blessing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

A new brain please...

It would be a good start, anyway. I'm ever amazed by how discombobulated I become when my hormones are out of whack. Thinking becomes an almost impossible task. Remembering anything is a challenge. Trying to work on anything becomes a monumental challenge, and I usually have to redo the work once my brain is back. So, yesterday and today (my worst days in the cycle) are being spent reading and doing non-decision type stuff. I've been reading other bios to help me form my own ideas of what I'd like. I've also fiddled with making my own business cards. No decisions to be made, yet, only allowing my mind to puzzle things out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Week Twenty-Seven of REAL...

The 23rd: weigh in: 234.6 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Five-minute walk; it was too cold! LOL! I couldn't stay awake any longer, last night. It was 9:30 p.m. I woke at 12:30 a.m. Blessedly, I was able to go back to sleep, and slept the night through. I'm feeling better than I have all week. Thank you, God.

The 24th: weigh in: 234.2 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Half-mile walk; COLD!! Well, cold for here, anyway. Still terribly tired. With the holiday, my eating isn't at its best, but it's much better than it used to be and improving.

The 25th: weigh in: 235.6 lb. Merry Christmas!! I finally remembered to take an allergy pill, last night. What a huge difference! I feel so much better, today.

The 26th: weigh in: 235.8 lb. Not bad. I was afraid it might be much worse. One SEAL puppy rep. Two-mile walk, in 40 minutes, so total is not good at 50 minutes. Not going to beat myself up. One more SEAL puppy rep.

The 27th: weigh in 235.6 lb. Whoohoo! It's only a little, but considering what I'm eating, leftovers, i.e., mostly desserts, that really isn't too bad. I planned on doing better, today, but didn't. Two-mile walk, plus a bit more, in about an hour. Total 110 minutes.

The 28th: weigh in: 235.6 lb. How'd that happen after yesterday's binge? Don't know. Don't care. Just glad I didn't completely botch my progress. I will do better today. I'm feeling better. Lots of things going through my head, in a good way. Started the day with Weightless tea. We'll see how it goes. One SEAL puppy rep. Two-mile walk, plus a bit more, with my sister, for about an hour. Total 170 min. One more SEAL puppy rep. Well, shoot. Brain is self-destructing, early. Hate that. Brain will be back in a few days, though not sooner than I'd like. Sigh.

The 29th: weigh in: 235.8 lb. Waist circumference: 41". Not surprised by the last one. That will disappear again, within a few days. Reminding myself that it's important to be gentle with myself, especially when it comes to things over which I have no control, or at least very little. Time to make myself some Red Raspberry Leaf tea. One-plus mile walk, with my sister. It took a while. 230 minutes total. Tomorrow will be better. Today's goal is to make it through without beating myself up over the fact that my mind will wander and I'll be tired and crampy.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One more down...

Today, my sister, a professional photographer, took me out for a photo shoot. I dressed in the outfit I thought fit my Laurel Hawkes persona. When we first started working on my branding, this was the skirt and blouse that leapt to my mind. She chose four different spots, and took over a hundred pictures.

I don't like pictures of me. My face is scarred by years of acne. I'm also overweight. It makes my face rounder. My parents have never been kind about my appearance. Neither has a sibling, less immediate family members, acquaintances, and total strangers. I hate dealing with pictures of me. Cookies, cake, fudge, hot chocolate, bread, and more all fell victim to my need to stuff the stress.

That being said, my sister and I laughed, a lot. We started at nine o'clock in the morning. By noon, we had whittled down the hundred plus shots to one. I came home, and she continued to work. By five, she stopped by with the finished product.

Wow! It's me, but better.

The picture is done, beautifully. Thanks Ruth!!

Tomorrow, I'll tackle one more thing on the list.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Follow through...

Yesterday, I started my assignments. What I planned to do, I did. But there's still so much to do. So much to learn! I admit it: I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I'm reading The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck and SEAL of My Dreams by a variety of romance authors.

I've posted this picture before, but it's Tuesday again, and it's simply so cute!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Carpe diem... only one thing...

There is only one thing I absolutely must do, today: Follow through on the assignment I've been given. I can do this. It's exciting and new, and doable, though I'm scared silly.

I had a most enjoyable Christmas. I hope everyone else is still smiling.

Courage is needed, and this lightens my heart (thanks kiki):

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #83

~Merry CHRISTmas!!!

~Hallelujah Chorus flash mob

~Amazing new opportunities.

~NORAD's Track Santa This is my first year visiting this fun link. I've bookmarked it for next year.

~Unexpected gifts beyond what I ever imagined. God will pour out a blessing...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Week Twenty-Six of REAL...

The 16th: weigh in: 232.2 lb. Going down. That being said, I made cookies and bread, today.

The 17th: weigh in: 233.4 lb. Not surprised, but it will be going down again soon. I seem to be getting the hang of this. One SEAL puppy rep. Two and one-half mile walk 60 minutes. One more SEAL puppy rep. Today, I'm going to start trying to walk 200 minutes a week.

The 18th: weigh in: 233.4 lb. Woke up restless, my ankle sore, so took myself for a 20-minute walk. Would have been longer, but it started drizzling. Rain is good. Total 80-minutes. I'll start the count over again on Friday so I can keep track of everything in the same time frame.

The 19th: weigh in: 233.8 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Two-mile walk in 45 minutes. Total 125 minutes. One more SEAL puppy rep.

The 20th: weigh in 233.6 lb. I woke at 3:15 a.m., unable to go back to sleep for all the grinding gears in my head. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the new path I've chosen. I thought I was prepared... "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." I rolled out of bed and took care of things that were niggling at me, then rolled back into bed, but couldn't shut my brain off, so I read, until my alarm clock went off, at 6:00 a.m. Took myself for a one-mile walk. 20 minutes. Total 145 minutes.

The 21st: weigh in: 233.6 lb. Slept better last night. Thank God. One SEAL puppy rep. Two-mile walk in 40 minutes. Total 185 minutes. One more SEAL puppy rep. One more mile. Total is over 200 minutes. I'm sleeping in, tomorrow. I'm also cutting myself some slack, tomorrow, as regards the scale. One of my dear friends took me to Sweet Tomatoes for my birthday, and my sister picked me up from there and took me to Mimi's Cafe for their yummy hot cocoa and a pumpkin muffin. Whoohoo!! It has been an awesome day!

The 22nd: weigh in: 235.4 lb. Waist circumference: 39.5". Yep, not surprised by that. Total walking minutes for this week: More than 205. Whoohoo!! Today, I'm back to eating better. Yesterday really was an aberration, a very delicious one at that, and I don't regret it for a moment, especially the wonderful company.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's coming...

The Hobbit! Whoohoo!! Next December. iTunes has a lovely movie trailer that was posted at FaceBook.

I'm looking forward to it. I suppose that's kind of obvious. :-) Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thanking God...

Desert Breeze Publishing has made an offer for contracts for three books in my Endless Possibilities series.

A Promise of Possibilites -- August 21, 2012
Hidden Possibilities -- March 2013
Unexpected Possibilities -- October 2013

God bless my sister writers in the Desert Rose chapter of Romance Writers of America. Kris Tualla encouraged me to submit to Desert Breeze Publishing. I'd heard of them and had put them on my list of possible publishers. After talking to Kris, I did my homework. The more I read, the more I liked what I was reading. Then I saw this on their site: "...Christian novels with a bit more real world flair. It's not always easy being Christian, and we would like to see novels that expressed that." And I knew I was home.

I am so incredibly honored, and delighted. I'm still laughing and crying.

This is part of the email I sent out to those who have been with me through this journey from the beginning:

After submitting, I prayed that if this was to be that God would help the editor see past my weaknesses and see the strengths and possibilities. Then I prayed that if I was going to be rejected to please let it be soon so I'd know and could move on. I marked the eight-week deadline in my calendar, last night. This morning, I woke early feeling restless. I took myself for a walk, but had to come home because it was drizzling. I knelt in my morning prayers and couldn't bring myself to ask God for another breadcrumb that I was headed in the right direction, because He'd already made it so obvious. Then I popped online, and found the email (from Gail R. Delaney, Editor-In-Chief) that was sent late last night. God is good.

Happy birthday to me and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Thank you all so much for being such an important part of this exciting adventure!

All is in God's hands.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Carpe diem... all last week...

Met a deadline. Visited with a dear friend. Made bread and cookies. Froze eggs in groups of twos, perfect for cookies. And more.

Still, there's more that needs to be done. Christmas is coming. Are you ready?

Me, neither.

But I will be. I hope.

Laundry needs to be done, today, at least.

I would really, really like to feel rested. The rain is wonderful, but it also brings out molds, to which I'm allergic. That would explain the tiredness.

Some much needed sunny cuteness:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #82

~Soldier's Silent Night

~The joy of cooking. I truly do enjoy it.

~Rain and rain and rain.

~Wonderful friends.

~Amazing opportunities, and I'm wise enough to recognize them and grab hold.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Heroes... Secret Santas...

Someday, I hope to be in a position to do something like this:

Yahoo News is reporting on what are now being called Lay-away Santas:

I know of others who have purchased groceries or given gift cards for groceries or gasoline. Thank you to all those who understand and celebrate the gift of giving.

I don't remember where I found this picture; I added it to my picture file years ago.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Taking a breather...

Meeting a deadline leaves me feeling a bit frazzled... okay, all but brain dead. So, taking a little time to rest and recuperate.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Week Twenty-Five of REAL...

The 9th: weigh in: 234.6 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Attend the church Christmas dinner. Then went looking at lights and had hot chocolate and marshmallows and biscotti. I don't usually eat so much so late. Though I'll notice it on the scale tomorrow morning, it won't stay, and I'm not a bit sorry. It was fun!!!

The 10th: weigh in: 236 lb. BAH! One SEAL puppy rep. Watched the eclipse of the moon. Wow! One-mile walk. Attended my niece's soccer game. Fun! One SEAL puppy rep.

The 11th: weigh in: 235.2 lb. Better. Keep going. Stressed a bit, and my eating showed it.

The 12th: weigh in: 235.2 lb. Not bad, considering what I ate yesterday. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. One more SEAL puppy rep. Now that my brain has returned from its week-long vacation, I'm easing back into my routines. I really love my split sleeping.

The 13th: weigh in 234.8 lb. Feeling a little stressed by my deadline.

The 14th: weigh in: 234.8 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. One more SEAL puppy rep. I am so grateful for my new schedule. It doesn't matter that I crawled into bed at three in the morning, and woke without an alarm clock before six in the morning, because I'm taking a nap. It makes a difference. Woke after an hour and a half, before my alarm clock, but woke very cold. Not a good sign. Wrapping myself in blankets, I slept another hour and a half, but woke feeling like myself.

The 15th: weigh in: 233 lb. Waist circumference: 39.5". I like that. Headed in a healthier direction. Woke this morning after only about two hours sleep. As in eyes popped open, can't go back to sleep. It is so much less stressful knowing I'll be napping later. But first I'll be catching up with a dear friend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Another email I wanted to share...

Whether true or's a lovely story - and a beautiful, simple prayer.

Lucky Dog.......

Anyone who has pets will really like this. You'll like it even if you don't and you may even decide you need one!

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named 'Lucky.'

Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky's toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky's other favorite toys. Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this fact; she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her...what would happen to Lucky?

Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary's dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won't understand that I didn't want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn't even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn't come to her when she called. It made Mary sad but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn't understand what was wrong. She couldn't move her head and her body felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.

He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying... Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It's been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free. Lucky still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure. every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget....the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care for us.

If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God!

A small request: All you are asked to do is keep this circulating.

Dear God, I pray for the cure of cancer. Amen.

All you are asked to do is keep this circulating, even if it is only to one more person, in memory of anyone you know who has been struck down by cancer or is still fighting their battle.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Birthday Celebrations...

It's a month for birthdays, and no today isn't mine. I saw this back on November 6: Happily Ever After blog had a post about birthdays. I needed the reminder.
1. Make it all about me.
2. Make it about being grateful.
3. Make it about a new start.
4. Enjoy the gifts.

Birthdays used to be a pit of despair, to borrow from The Princess Bride. Mine was forgotten more often than it was remembered. More times than not, when it was remembered, it was an afterthought. I thought the excuses were plausible until my current friends were brought into my life.

1. They made it all about me. In fact, they helped me celebrate all month long. Now, my birthday is a special day, because of them. No despair allowed.

2. I am so grateful for my life, and for where God is leading me. I'm grateful God blessed me with amazing friends who love and appreciate me and are glad I was born.

3. Instead of making New Year's resolutions, like my sister, I make it a time to reflect and consider where I'm going.

4. The greatest gift is that of the friendship given me.

One of my dear friends truly follows the Hobbit habit of giving Mathoms. She sends gifts for her birthday. I haven't mastered that skill, yet. Part of it, I know, is that I still feel like I don't have much to offer. I'm working on it. So, maybe this year, I'll finally work past that. I have some time yet to figure it out.

I'm accumulating a list of places to which I'd like to donate, and my state rep posted this on his FaceBook page (how did he know? LOL!) :

Packages From Home Things to Donate

Monday, December 12, 2011

Carpe diem... revisions...

Revisions, revisions, revisions...


Make my hot chocolate mix.

A bit of reading. I enjoyed Merry Christmas Babies by Tara Taylor Quinn, and Cowboy Daddy, Jingle-Bell Daddy by Linda Goodnight.

This is how I've been feeling the past week:

Done, and wrote a card to mail to "A Recovering American Soldier," tomorrow.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #81

~Neil Diamond's Be Thanks, Molly, for reminding me.

~Christmas lights with my sister. Ooooooo.... aaaaahhhhhhh.... pretty....

~Who knew soccer games could be so much fun? Thanks for inviting me to tag along, Ruth, to the niece's game. It was fun, in large part because my brother and his wife cheered all the kids on the team by name.

~Watched the total eclipse of the moon. Wow.

~Thanks to Constance Wagner, for editorial help. I have no trouble blaming her for asking me to try inspirational historical romance, because she did. I have been blessed with some of the most amazing friends.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Heroes... Wounded Warriors...

I don't know if this originated with the Wounded Warriors Project. I found it posted on FB:

When filling out your Christmas cards this year, take one card and send it to this address:

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
8901 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20889-5600

UPDATE: This address is incorrect. Sorry!

If we pass this on & everyone sends one card, think of how many cards these wonderful, special people, who have sacrificed so much would get.

Here is the official site for the Wounded Warriors Project.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Introducing Laurel Hawkes...

Me, the writer.

Laurel Hawkes was created as a persona, several years ago. However, she started out as Ladyhawk Baggins of Ladyhawkhollow. Yes, that's me, too. Ladyhawk is the one who started writing, almost ten years ago. One thing led to another, and one of the readers of my LOTR fan fiction asked me to try an inspirational historical romance. After giving it a few minutes thought, I agreed. Next thing I knew, I'd completed the novel, and been rejected. The good thing about the rejection letter is that I then qualified as a PRO in Romance Writers of America, which I joined, and then I joined Desert Rose, the local RWA chapter. I've been a member of Desert Rose, since 2007.

It all started with Lord of the Rings. And here I am. A very short version of an incredible journey. There are people in my life that I choose not to invite to share this part of my journey. I don't want the criticism; I second guess myself plenty, without any help from anyone. I don't want constant questions; I question myself enough. I don't want to know how hard it is; I know.

I'm wringing my hands, a sure sign I'm anxious. Frankly, I'm scared silly. I've done my best to protect Laurel Hawkes in every way possible, but if she's going to fly, then she has to risk exposing herself. If she can't feel safe here, with people who are already her friends, she'll never make it out in the cold, cruel world of the open market.

So, all those times I've blogged about projects, I was talking about writing.

This is a Birthday/Christmas gift to myself. Stepping into the light. I feel a bit as if I were an owl, blinking at the brightness. If you know me and my family personally, please be respectful. And yes, there are people in my life of whom I must make such a request. Everybody has them. The request has been made, and that's all I can do. I'm choosing not to continue in the shadows simply to keep from being hurt by them.

This is me, taking a risk.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Week Twenty-Four of REAL...

The 2nd: weigh in: 235 lb. Going down....

The 3rd: weigh in: 234.2 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Two and a half mile walk. One more SEAL puppy rep.

The 4th: weigh in: 235 lb. Oh, no. Not allowed to go back up. Not going there again. I'm done.

The 5th: weigh in: 234.2 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Didn't even try to go for a walk, today. It's cold! I also managed to sleep only two hours last night... or should I say this morning? My mind was so busy, I couldn't settle. Not going to beat myself up over it.

The 6th: weigh in 234.2 lb. Not going to beat myself up. This time of the month, I'm lucky I haven't packed on 5-10 lb.

The 7th: weigh in: 235 lb. Not bad considering what I ate. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. One more SEAL puppy rep. I love my new sleeping schedule. I do much better on the days I stick to it.

The 8th: weigh in: 234.4 lb. Waist circumference: 39.5". Whoohoo!! One SEAL puppy rep. Using makeup, today. Yes, that's an announcement for me. There's really only two choices: I allow myself to change, or I stay where I am. And that second choice sounds so sad, especially when I've been going to so much effort to change!

To all those struggling to move forward, it looks like I'm finally allowing myself to step onto that path with you, without wondering if I'm out of mind. I would be crazy to stay where I am.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Video for me....

Its a 10-minute video by Diamonds And Heels. She is a beautiful, young model with severe acne, and by the time she finishes her makeup regime, you can't tell she has acne. Yes, I'm posting this on all my blogs, today. Why? Because it is a huge Game Changer for me.

I've often complained about how scarred my face is from acne. God, of course, has been listening, and apparently has decided I'm ready, even if I don't think so. God has taken away my excuse. God does that.

Now, what I haven't mentioned is how terrified this makes me. I've hidden behind the scars. People are uncomfortable looking at me. They don't want to stare, so they don't look at me at all. One cheek looks like there's a giant upside down "Y" on it. The fear has been building ever since I saw the video. Mind you, I haven't watched the whole thing, yet. I will before I post this. My stomach is rolling, as the fear has been growing.

Then Nikon Sniper posted Nikon Sniper: Great Is Thy Faithfulness for the day, including this scripture:

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you make the Most High your dwelling-- even the LORD, who is my refuge--
10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

So, I guess God can handle a bit of fear and some scars, too.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cuteness alert!

These showed up in my Funny Cat Photos and Cute Puppies gadgets, and all I could think was how perfect they looked together, as if they were meant to be a matched pair:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Carpe diem... Today's a must... sort of...

Things I must do, today:

~Prep for submitting a project

Everything else is negotiable.

The problem... sigh... the next five days or so are toast. Head/desk.

This picture fits:

Done. The project was a friend of mine's. I'm looking forward to seeing her complete it. I also worked a little on my own. :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #80

~Jeremy Camp's Walk By Faith

~Rain here and snow in the high country!

~Supportive friends, who push me to keep trying.

~Books! I'm reading the books I've collected over the years with a Christmas theme.

~One of our local service groups has an annual pancake breakfast. I look forward to it, every year. The money they raise goes to a number of good causes. They don't charge much. In return, I enjoy pancakes with butter and syrup, two sausage links, and orange juice. I have this event on my calendar, a year in advance. It's fun. I also love the sausage. I can't eat it often because I'm allergic to pepper. I'm fortunate enough to be able to cheat occasionally, but I do have to be careful. It's easier when I'm able to tell myself that I will be able to have sausage again next year. And yes, that's enough to make me happy. :-)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

My Heroes... DF...

That would be Dear Friends. This is long over due, except that I didn't quite know how to approach it. There are family members I include in this, and friends I've met and friends I haven't. There are friends that I know through different groups I associate with online and in person. What they all have in common is that because of my association with them I am a better person. In each, I see something that I want to make an increased part of my life, be it enthusiasm, passion, courage, faith, steadfastness, loyalty, kindness, hope, love, etc.

Every good thing comes from God. I've lost count of the number of times I've sought the Lord in prayer, needing one thing or another, and invariably, the vast majority of the time, God sends someone who says or does or is an example of exactly what I need.

God is aware of what we need before we ask it, but sometimes it's important to ask.

Thank you, Dear Friends, for all you give me.

I don't know which widget/gadget I found this in, but it makes me smile:

Friday, December 2, 2011

My SEAL puppy reps...

Yesterday, it was pointed out that seal puppy is also a Pilates routine. Though I posted a reply in the comments, I thought it might be a good idea to make it today's post. So, this is me clarifying what a SEAL puppy rep is to me. I think I only mention it once or twice in all my meanderings.

The creation of my SEAL puppy reps was brought on when I read Marcus Luttrell's The Lone Survivor. I was impressed, to say the least, on many levels.

This is the minimum requirement is to be accepted into the Navy SEAL's training program:

1. A 500-yard swim using the breast or sidestroke in 12 min 30 sec.
2. A minimum of 42 pushups in 2 min.
3. A minimum of 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes.
4. A minimum of 6 dead-hang pull-ups.
5. A 1-1/2 mile run in 11 min 30 sec wearing boots and long pants.

There is no way on the planet I can accomplish that. My back is a mess, and so is my ankle, which caused the back problem. That being said, instead of giving up and whining that I can't do it, I decided to adapt, and created my own routine. In The Lone Survivor, Marcus Luttrell also talks about all the flutter kicks they do to build core strength. So, I looked at what was there and decided what I could do. Since it's based very loosely on the SEAL routine, I gave it the name SEAL to remind me that I was working to become stronger. But since what I do is so tiny in comparison, I decided I'm more like a perpetual puppy, never to run with the big dogs. I'm okay with that. At least I'm a puppy instead of a bump on a log. And the grouping I chose is done in a series of 10, hence the reps.

My SEAL puppy reps consist of 10 girl pushups, 10 crunches, and flutter kicks to the count of 10. Mind you, I started with 1 and have worked my way up. So when I do two SEAL puppy reps, I've done a total of 20.

So there's the truth about my SEAL puppy reps. Not impressive at all to anyone but me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Week Twenty-Three of REAL...

The 25th: weigh in: 237.4 lb. No surprise, after al the delicious food, yesterday. One SEAL puppy rep.

The 26th: weigh in: 237.4 lb. Leftovers. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. One SEAL puppy rep. Two-mile walk. One SEAL puppy rep.

The 27th: weigh in: 237.2 lb. Whoohoo! I was worried that with the holiday, I would slip up the scale again. Nope. Well done.

The 28th: weigh in: 237.2 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. One SEAL puppy rep.

The 29th: weigh in 237.8 lb. Not going to complain... well, actually, I've been complaining to myself, so I'm stopping now.

The 30th: weigh in: 237.4 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. One more SEAL puppy rep.


The 1st: weigh in: 236 lb. Waist circumference: 40". Cool. I really like this new schedule, and it seems to be working for me on several levels. We'll see what the coming week brings.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I needed a smile...

And you're being forced to join in. Power. Control. Mwahahaha... Ehem... I really, really need a smile. Thank you FB! This simply makes me feel better.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Prayer life...

This has made an appearance because I've been working on mine, and I have a few friends who want to improve theirs.

Starting from ground zero: No prayer life. Actually, I don't really know what that's like. I have carried on conversations with God all my life. That being said, there have been times of low communication, and it wasn't when I was angry with God. The most likely time for me not to pray is when I don't feel like I have the right to approach the throne of God. Handy little tool of the adversary's that.

Prayer was difficult after I lost my horse, and again after I lost my dog. They were with God, and I couldn't be there. I didn't now how to pray without weeping, so prayer became very surface. "Just checkin' in God. I'm still here, and I still don't want to talk about it, because I'll cry."

God will wait.

Once I felt like I was ready to start praying more formally, I found myself without a thought in my head. Really. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to pray for myself, because I knew what I'd ask wasn't possible.

Probably a good place to mention that I prayed all my life to find someone with whom I could share my life, have a family. It didn't happen. All the promises about God answering prayers (yes, I realize that God sometimes says, no) including the ones about if you're praying for something good, then He will give it to you, in His time. It's all I'd prayed for sometimes. I hadn't figured out my deeper dream, yet.

So what do you do? I could do gratitude prayers. Even after the loss of my furry children, I was thankful for friends and work. But that's a benefactor, not a relationship. I knew I needed more. What was the next step?

I tried praying for me again, and found those old questions filtering through. When am I going to marry? Having children is becoming less and less likely. I'm seriously messed up. I don't want to enter a marriage this messed up, because the type of person I attract scares me silly.

Stepped back. Went back to gratitude prayers, but was quickly back to needing more.

I was blessed with new friends. They asked me to pray for them. I could do that. They asked me to pray for their friends and family. I could do that. They asked me to pray for people on their prayer list. I could do that. It only took a moment. There was no excuse not to take that moment to offer a prayer for them.

I still couldn't pray for me. My life was such a mess. I was working to straighten it out, but I didn't even know where to start. Counseling helped me sort, and I could pray to ask for help with the homework assignments given by my counseling.

Then August 2010, I was encouraged to try a 40 days and nights challenge. There were several things on the list, but I chose to focus on praying on my knees, every day. Every 40 days, I start over. I have it on my calendar, which sends me a reminder. Every day I go in and change which day it is, so I receive a new reminder the next day. I don't delete the reminder until I've said my prayers. At first, they were quick prayers, right before I went to bed, because I'd forgotten all day long. But gradually, it's lengthened, so has my prayer list. I actually remember to pray first thing in the morning, sometimes.

This last year, I knew I needed to pray for me. That was when I started the exploration of what is it I truly want from God. Children are off the table; I'm too old. Marriage is unlikely; when would I have time? So what was it I wanted? After months of searching, I finally realized that what I wanted more than anything was to be a blessing. I have no trouble praying for help with that.

Now, all that being said, I have talked to God all my life. One of the things I loved about my horse was going out every morning to take care of him, and talking to God the whole time. Telling Him what my plans for the day were. Asking Him to bless my horse and my dog. Thanking Him for the beauty of the day and for my horse and my dog and and and and and... How did I form that habit? In high school, in one of my religion classes, there was a story about someone praying but not closing the prayer. So, I stopped closing the prayer, until the end of the day. I close my prayers now, but I have a running dialogue on the side.

God knows everything. I can't tell Him anything He doesn't already know. Prayer isn't about telling Him or informing Him. Prayer is about me doing what is within my power to develop and strengthen my relationship with Him. He will do His part. Every single time. He will never falter. I may not understand some of the things He lets slide and some of the things He doesn't, but He is perfect. I'm not. This is about me acknowledging that I'm not, and that I need His help. This is about me doing my part to make this relationship work. There is so much I cannot do. Prayer is such a simple, small, seemingly insignificant thing, and yet it is connecting to God who is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving.

When I refuse to pray, it saddens God, but it doesn't diminish Him in the least. It diminishes me, and locks me in a dark, silent room, with a door that only I am able to open. And all I have to do is say, "Our Father Who Art In Heaven..." and "God..." works, too.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Carpe diem... No NASCAR...

Alas no NASCAR. Didn't want to let go, yet. Sigh. Okay, moving on.

What I plan to accomplish, today, keeping in mind that PLAN is a four-letter word:

~Bake cookies. I'm out. Tragedy!

Have I mentioned that I love the Funny Cat Photos widget? ;-D


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #79

~Matthew West's Strong Enough

~Friends with whom I am able to share my heart.

~Laughter that comes from deep inside, true and honest. It isn't the same as the laughter that is there for show.

~Amazing, delicious food.

~Beautiful days.

I think this is post #500. Wow. What a chatterbox. :-)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Heroes... Abuse Survivors...

Abuse survivors who choose to be chain breakers, to not pass the abuse along to another victim.

This post could/will be triggering for some readers, as it addresses issues of sexual abuse. Do I think someone's child could read it? With an adult. It won't contain much that hasn't been in the news recently. It would be a good opportunity to talk about boundaries and respect for self and others. If you haven't been abused yourself, you know someone who has been, even if you don't realize it. When I was growing up the statistics stated that 1 in 4 to 1 in 3 girls and boys do not make it out of their teen years without being sexually abused. I've heard more recent statistics that suggest that the number is greatly underestimated, because so much is unreported. For far too many, it is not a one-time event but repeated.

Many of the following thoughts have been hanging around in a rough draft for a long time, waiting until I felt ready to share them. It's ugly, and it's painful. There comes a time when you have to stop pretending like that elephant isn't in the living room. It's there, and I'm willing to talk about, even when it's uncomfortable.

Tell the truth, no matter how uncomfortable... was the original title of this post. I didn't want to use heroes; I don't see myself that way. I've fretted and waffled and squirmed, then decided to post on a day and a weekend that will see little traffic here. This is not pretty or fun. I debated with myself. I know some people will see me differently. I know that this will burn some bridges. How do I know I need to follow through, no matter how difficult? It lays on my heart like a weight. So, I pray God will be able to use what I write here to help someone step onto the path of healing or turn a stumbling block into a stepping stone.

Never underestimate the power of telling the truth. That being said, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” – Barry Stevens, born Mildred Fox.

The trigger for me: What's been going on with Penn State started it. An expose on a different incident on the news. And then a place I enjoy visiting shared a picture for the picture itself, without taking into account the words on the picture. I could have simply stopped going, saying nothing. But I couldn't remain silent and stated that being a sexual abuse survivor, the implications made me cry. The picture was removed with an apology. There are plenty of things that don't appeal to me, and I have the right not to look. And have done so on numerous occasions, without a problem. Not this time. It triggered flashbacks. I was trembling, and crying, and felt crushed and betrayed. And it wasn't about them. It was me recognizing that I had established boundaries that were violated, however unwittingly, and I had to take hold of my courage with both hands and stand up for me without being nasty about it. I don't know how successful I was. I still feel out of sorts. I want to feel proud of myself for standing up for me, but I simply feel tired and sad about the whole thing.

I know, I've left out a lot of information. The details don't actually matter, because if it hadn't been this, it would have been something else. And to be honest, this post is more for me than anyone else. I needed to know how far I've come in my journey to healing.

What I learned from the experience: I have a line that I will not cross, not for any reason. And that line isn't where I thought it was. I now know the defining difference between my no-go areas as opposed to my prefer-not-to-go areas. I will not remain silent anymore. I am willing to be vulnerable, and making that choice strengthens me even as it scares me. Others may be embarrassed or uncomfortable with my decision to speak out, but I will not be ashamed anymore. I never should have been in the first place, but it's a difficult lie to overcome.

I read an article that questioned whether or not sexual abuse really was abuse. It is, but it isn’t about sex; it’s about power. Disgusting, despicable, evil. EVIL. The sex is used to humiliate and control. Something good and sacred is turned to filth and evil. It’s the final violation of all boundaries, because it is inflicted on the body and the mind and the spirit. It’s a brutal attack on trust. There is no excuse. These degenerate, depraved individuals need psychological help, and if they still aren’t able to grow a conscience, then they need to be put in jail in order to protect society from their perverted insanity.

Ritual abuse is real and is usually wrapped up in church rituals, to glean trust and respectability, though there are other forms of it as well. You only have to see the face of evil once to know how real it is. This is not spirituality; this is evil all dressed up in pretty clothes to make it more palatable. These liars go hand-in-hand with those who declare that sex between adults and children is perfectly normal and causes the children no harm, because it's all love. How Evil must laugh with glee for cloaking itself so cleverly.

Incest isn't only between parents and children. It's often between siblings, or close relatives. Family is supposed to be the relationship of trust on which we build all others. Someone who is trusted and loved violates their power and authority over someone who should be protected. Again, they will call it love, but an honest lover does not destroy the loved one. And that is what must be done for this behavior to continue. The victim must be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually crushed in order for the predator to maintain power and control. The predator will always blame the victim, and lie without compunction.

I saw a recent report about how victims are encouraged to call the police. I scoffed and shook my head at the ignorance regarding victims. Some will, but most will not. The victim is brutally taught that it is their fault, and that they are to blame.

The following quote was made in regards to a Washington scandal, but is an accurate statement regarding predators: Kirsten Powers wrote - "But even if I could see past the lying and extreme narcissism that is noteworthy even by Washington standards, there is the issue of his attitude toward women. What has emerged is a picture of a predator trolling the Internet for women—some half his age—with which to engage in cybersex.... This is not about sex. It’s about dominating and inflicting physical pain on a woman, a fantasy the hard-core porn industry makes billions of dollars on selling to men."

Talking with my dear friend, the other day, we both realized that the problem with calling it sexual abuse is that it isn't about sex. It's about power. Power to control, manipulate, and destroy another human being for the predator's own ends. They can rename it, disguise it, try to normalize it all they want, calling it love or affection or obsession or irresistible, but it's a lie all the same. It's the attempted murder of a soul. And sometimes it succeeds, when you consider how many abuse victims commit suicide, because they can't live with what happened.

Penn State certainly isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened, and it won't be the last. How does this evil continue to perpetuate? "It's a secret." It's shameful. It's horrific. It's someone else. It couldn't possibly be true. Excuse me? Why not? But go ahead and choose your excuse of the day. Maybe if we pretend it isn't there, it will go away. It won't.

The only way to end this evil is to drag it into the light, and not allow it to crawl back into the safety of darkness.

Sunlight is a great sanitizer, and the Son's Light is the perfect sanitizer.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday...

...or not.

To those out shopping till you drop, have fun!!

I'm staying home, to enjoy leftovers from yesterday's dinner. The day was fantastic. My friend and I went to dinner at Cracker Barrel, and had their Thanksgiving special. Yummy!! Then we chatted, for hours. Around dinner time, we had a slice of pumpkin pie, with whip cream. Yummy! We talked about everything and anything, with a bit of Christmas music playing in the background. By the time I headed home, our throats were sore, and we could have talked for several more hours. A very blessed day.

Once I returned home, I hopped onto the internet to see what catching up I needed to do, and found the following picture in my Funny Cat Photos widget, and thought of more wonderful friends who helped to make this holiday one of gratitude for the rich blessings in my life, of which my friends are among the dearest.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Week Twenty-Two of REAL...

The 18th: weigh in: 237.2 lb. Likin' this. One SEAL puppy rep.

The 19th: weigh in: 237.4 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk.

The 20th: weigh in: 238.8 lb. Wait a minute... Actually, I know what happened. Stress. Nasty critter.

The 21st: weigh in: 236.8 lb. More stress, but of a very different variety. The Sprint Cup Chase was the best EVER, nail biting all the way to the end. Who could eat? One-SEAL puppy rep.

The 22nd: weigh in 237.2 lb. I'm liking the changing in sleeping. It's actually reduced some stress.

The 23rd: weigh in: 237 lb. Two SEAL puppy reps. The new schedule is a bit strange, but it seems to be working for me. We'll see how I do over the holidays. So far, so good.

The 24th: weigh in: 236.6 lb. Waist circumference: 40". Wow. So, this is what happens when you finally decide to follow you're heart's work. Cool. :-)

Happy Thanksgiving! May you be blessed with peace and joy and friendship and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. May God bless our troops and their families, for they are the ones that have too often made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and liberty.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving...

Since tomorrow is REAL, I'm starting Thanksgiving a day early. Every Sunday, I have my list of the things for which I'm grateful.

This Thanksgiving will be unlike any I've ever known. I'm sharing it with a friend. I'm looking forward to lots of chatting and laughing. I don't care what we eat. I'm going to be allowed to be myself wholly and completely. That is truly something for which to be grateful.

Sometimes, when God closes a door, He opens a window. And sometimes He closes a window and opens double doors. But those double doors may look incredibly scary. That being said, the doors are wide enough for me to put my hand in God's and walk through with Him.

This was taken 15-20 years ago, and about 70-80 lb lighter. (Never noticed before that it's the weight of my dog.) My baby has been gone from this life for five years, and I still miss her desperately. I am so grateful God gave her to me for seventeen incredible years. I would never have made it through some of the insanity I did without her. Who would take care of her, if anything happened to me? She was my angel from God, my living reminder that He loves me and is aware of me. Thanks, God, for blessing me with such a precious angel child. They say that dogs and their owners look alike. I always wished I was as pretty as she was. She taught me to be enthusiastic about the little things, patient in the everyday annoyances, and love no matter what with all that you are. She also taught me to be aware that though some people look friendly, they aren't and to stay away. It just took me a little longer to figure that one out. In my prayers, from time to time, I ask God to throw a ball for her, or hide a treat, or give her a cuddle because He can do what I can't.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Too cute not to share...

...and today's the perfect day for it. I think I saw it on FaceBook.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Carpe diem... NASCAR...

NASCAR ~ Nationwide ~ For the record, Ricky Stenhouse Jr won the championship. In Saturday's race, Carl came in 3rd. Sprint Cup ~ Homestead ~ Last race of the season ~ Carl had the pole to start. In-car camera with Carl! Whoohoo! Tony Stewart won the race and the championship. Congratulations! And Carl came in second in the race and the championship. Well done!! Looking forward next Season, starting in February.

What will I accomplish, today? Hard to say. Family is visiting for the week, so the schedule has been turned topsy-turvy. I will read and work on some projects.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #78

~Amazing Grace by Andre Rieu

~Faith to follow Jesus, no matter what.

~Incredible, supportive friends.

~Jimmy Thomas calender and more yummy pictures made it through the USPS unspoiled.

~Unexpected possibilities.

I have no idea where this picture came from. It showed up in one of my widgets, and I thought it breathtaking; still do, every time I see it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Heroes... Diane Gaston...

Diane writes romance novels, amazing Regency romance novels. Here's her website: Why I chose her this week, as opposed to some other week (she was going to end up here sooner or later) is because of her blog post.

I've known Diane for a few years now. My friend Mary, sent me one of Diane's books, The Mysterious Miss M, a Regency romance. It resonated with me. I then bought every book by Diane I could find. She is on my Must-Buy list. Diane is the first author I ever wrote, April 16, 2006. I wouldn't have done it, except that Mary assured me that authors loved to hear from readers. I didn't think she'd have time to bother with me. She answered, and we've kept in touch ever since.

Because of my experience with Diane, I've written several other authors. Most have written back. A few have not. I've met some amazing, generous, heartwarming women. Actually, I haven't actually met most of them. I have met a few, and I like them in person, too, though in person I feel a bit like a fan girl, and it feels really awkward. Not their fault, but mine. I'm learning to be more self-confident. Huge difference.

My favorite writers have characteristics in common, like honor, courage, hope, and love. They believe in good winning over evil, that it's important to keep trying, and that happily ever after is possible.

So, drop your favorite author an email, and let them know you appreciate them. Writers write for themselves, but if they didn't want to share their stories, they wouldn't bother with publishing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Well, pickles...

Those who have been reading this blog, for a long time, may recall my battle to change certain words in my vocabulary. In fact, I knew I couldn't find the references so I added the "Search This Blog" gadget, and it works. Yep. There are the references to me wanting to change swear words to "pickles."

Update: It didn't work. Shoot.

That being said, I think I've finally found a word that works. BAH!

Consider: Dam is a closed word. Say it. Feel how your mouth works. Then say BAH! Nice an open. It occurred to me that when I'm swearing it's because I want to let something out, stress, tension, frustration, anger, fear. I want it out. So why am I choosing a word that keeps it all in? I've been using BAH! for a while now. I still slip into the old habits from time to time, usually when I'm trying to keep things in, i.e., not explode all over someone. For those who have seen it, yes, I'm exercising control. I know, hard to believe. But true, nonetheless.

In case you haven't figured out by now, I'm really into words. The English language is the most amazing language on the planet. It incorporates words from other languages without apology. It's diverse, rich, and difficult. Nothing worth having is easy.

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. ~ Mark Twain

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Week Twenty-One of REAL...

The 11th: weigh in: 239 lb. Overslept. Missed my nap. Noticed.

The 12th: weigh in: 239.2 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Walk two and a half miles. One SEAL puppy rep.

The 13th: weigh in: 239.8 lb. Overslept, again. All the rain is great, though it has triggered my allergies. Not complaining. Needing to recognize that it wears me out. It's that not being able to breathe thing.

The 14th: weigh in: 239 lb. Hmmm.... Two SEAL puppy reps.

The 15th: weigh in 238.2 lb. Ooooo I'm liking this.

The 16th: weigh in: 237.2 lb. Whoohoo!! One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. One SEAL puppy rep. The change in my schedule seems to be working for me. YAY!

The 17th: weigh in: 238 lb. Waist circumference: 40". Well, will you look at that. Despite the bad day for REAL, that's pretty good. I like the consistency, especially since it includes a downward trend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A bad day for REAL...

How do you know it's a bad day for the REAL program?

~You're proud of yourself for rolling out of bed, in the morning.
~You're proud of yourself for eating only half a loaf of bread, instead of the entire loaf.
~You're proud of yourself for eating only six cookies, instead of the whole bag.
~You're proud of yourself for actually having breaks between meals, instead of one meal, all day long.
~You're proud of yourself for remembering that you really do need to exercise, starting tomorrow.
~You're proud of yourself for changing out of pajamas, before it was time to go back to bed.
~You're proud of yourself for remembering you have a REAL program.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas shopping ideas...

Saw this at FaceBook and wanted to be able to find it again easily to help me remember and plan. I looked for an original elsewhere but didn't find anything:

This is GREAT "people power" advice as shared by Doris Bowen....great thoughts for Holiday gift giving...really something to think about....

As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper? Everyone -- yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber? Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

Forward this to everyone on your mailing list -- post it to discussion groups -- throw up a post on Craigslist in the Rants and Raves section in your city -- send it to the editor of your local paper and radio stations, and TV news departments. This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn't that what Christmas is about?

I've also recently become acquainted with someone who works with Charity Hill, and she suggested keeping gift cards to local grocery stores with you to give away to people who seem to need it.

Confession: I watched the red carpet show for Twilight, last night. Yep. I did. It was fun. And yes, I waited to the bottom of the post to mention it. :-) Team Jacob!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Carpe diem... NASCAR one to go...

NASCAR is in Phoenix, this past weekend. Nationwide ~ Carl came in third. Well done! The track has been redone since the last race there, so it was a good opportunity to acquaint himself with it before the Sprint Cup race. Go Carl!!! Spring Cup ~ WHOOHOO!!! In-car camera!! Carl came in second! Well done!! And he's still #1 in the Chase! WHOOHOO!!!!

Plans for the day:

This always makes me smile:

No laundry; saved for another day. Doesn't that sound so much better than procrastinated for another day?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #77

~Matthew West's My Own Little World

~In keeping with this weekend: The military and their families.

~More rain! I think Texas still needs rain, as well as the South. Peanuts are important, especially if you love peanut butter.

~Yummy bread. I really do love this bread recipe. It makes me wonder why I bothered buying bread all those years.

~I've started my TBR Christmas books. They're Christmas-themed books that I re-read every year. This week I finished Tara Taylor Quinn's The Promise of Christmas. It may be a trigger for some survivors, but I've found it inspiring.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Heroes... Veterans...

As I read about Andrew's recovery, I am inspired and impressed. I also know that he is one of many. I feel blessed to know him, if only second hand, so to speak. He and his family, from what I've read, are symbolic of the warrior spirit, and those who choose that path. I may be coming to it late in life, but I hope to learn from these awesome examples of courage and perseverance and strength against all odds.

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America” for an amount of “up to and including my life.” ~Anonymous

I'm Proud To Be An American ~ American Soldier Tribute

Freedom isn't free. No freedom is free. God may give it freely, but then we are charged with nurturing and protecting it, for the adversary is bent on destroying it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day....

Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
Jesus Christ and the American G.I.
One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

WallBuilders History of Veteran's Day and link to ways to thank a veteran.

We Are One: Time to Remember

Found on FaceBook by Jennifer Hartley:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week Twenty of REAL...

The 4th: weigh in: 241.4 lb. Bad dreams, but not unexpected. Comfort food: My yummy homemade bread.

The 5th: weigh in: 241 lb. Wait... What? Did you see what I ate yesterday? One-mile walk.

The 6th: weigh in: 241.6 lb.

The 7th: weigh in: 241.6 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. No walk. It was raining, which was wonderful, but no walk. With the change in DST, I'm having to shift my schedule a bit. I did take a half-hour nap. I like doing that. There is something about calming myself, body and mind, in the middle of the day.

The 8th: weigh in 241 lb. How did that happen? I don't know, and I'm not complaining, only curious, so I can keep doing it.

The 9th: weigh in: 241.6 lb. I ate badly, yesterday, so I'm not surprised, though I'm pleased it isn't worse. Today, starting new. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. Two more SEAL puppy reps. Physical therapy, without weights.

The 10th: weigh in: 239.8 lb. Waist circumference: 40". Well, will you look at that. The weight stayed pretty steady, and yet going down, a bit. I like that. Now, how do I continue that trend? I'm really liking the nap. It's taken a lot of stress off of the nighttime sleep. If I don't sleep well at night, it's okay because a nap is coming. It's also cooler for me sleeping in the middle of the day, than when I go to bed at night. I sleep better if I'm cooler. I like the new routine well enough to follow it for another week.

"Happy 236th birthday to the U.S. Marine Corps! Semper Fi!" God bless them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why can't I ignore it....

"Who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you're saying." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"By their fruits ye shall know them."

On a previous post, it was suggested that I simply ignore what it going on in the world around me that I have no control over. It led me to asking myself, "why don't I ignore it?" I certainly did most of my life. And look where that landed me.

Okay, that was snarky.

So, why don't I ignore what's going on in the world around me? Especially when I have no power or influence regarding it.

Even if there is nothing within my capabilities to change or influence what is happening, this is an opportunity for me to do a gut check. WHAT do I believe? HOW do I feel about it?

In fact, this is a great time for me to explore negative feelings, because I'm not personally invested in it, except how it applies to me.

More than that, it's become an opportunity for me to take responsibility for the information I glean. There was a time when I allowed others to feed me all the information I took in. Their opinions. Their ideas. Their values. Their beliefs. They were people I trusted. What I didn't acknowledge was that I was handing over my rights to be a human being to someone else. I was allowing someone else to live my life for me, by allowing them to all but make my decisions for me. Making my decisions based on their information was not independent thinking or trusting God.

Then I started the truth campaign. It is a difficult, frustrating, terrifying road to choose. I came to realize that some of those trusted sources of information weren't trustworthy. I discovered that most of those sources of information held opinions, beliefs, and values that may have seemed like my own on the surface, but when I looked deeper were nothing at all like what I wanted to believe.

Choosing to search for the truth isn't an easy decision to follow. It requires an incredible amount of work. If I hear something from one source, I find myself searching for other sources. Is it true? Does it matter? I'm learning to turn those questions around. Does it matter? Is it true? If it matters, then I better make sure it's true. If it doesn't matter, then it doesn't matter if it's true or not. But I like to know, because it's astonishing how interrelated our world is.

And "I feel good about it" is not an acceptable answer on its own. I have to have done my homework, in every possible way, and truly studied out to the last possible piece of information available to me, before I'm allowed to claim I feel good about it. Granted, there is so much information available that one could become lost in it. Striking a balance between studying and procrastinating through study isn't easy. But too often I allowed myself to be easily swayed by what I thought I wanted to hear. That was the root of more problems than I care to recollect. I wanted the answer to be easy. Pray about it, and God will tell me. Wait. What? Where did I learn that?

James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to al men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

And here in lies the problem with picking and choosing. Whenever anything is done piecemeal, without tying it into a whole, you end up with slipshod work.

Ephesians 6:13: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

Whoa! I know what's involved with putting on armor. It isn't a snap decision. It isn't a "I feel good about it" activity. One does not do it alone. It is not easy. And it cannot be rushed. And you had better have done the work required beforehand to accept what wearing that armor means. And I don't mean the end part, being in battle. Armor is heavy! You have to have the muscle strength and stamina to wear it.

When I ask myself questions I'm asking if I'm prepared. Where do I stand? What do I believe? Me. Not what was I told to believe. Not where was I told to stand. What is my decision? What is my choice? Because it is those decisions and choices that make me who I am.

For so many years I felt very one dimensional, a chameleon. I existed for whatever purpose I was told I existed for; never for myself. Then it stopped working for me. I started making some defining decisions. I no longer fit in the mold. And I was utterly lost. What saved me from the abyss? My knowledge that Jesus Christ is my Savior.

Am I suggesting that everything in my life is life or death? Pertinent to my Eternal Salvation? No. I do believe that my core beliefs are essential to my Eternal Salvation, and asking myself questions allows me to explore those core beliefs.

In the past, I've been trapped, repeatedly, by questions that seemed wholly unrelated to my beliefs, until the clever questioner snapped the trap shut and accused me of being a hypocrite. And to my horror, I would realize they were right, because I hadn't done my homework to find out what the questions really meant.

So, I step back, and question, and question, and question. I look around me today and see so many similarities to what was happening in Germany before the Holocaust. I don't believe saying, "I didn't know" - when all the evidence was there - is an acceptable answer. Closing my eyes and la-la-la-ing is not an acceptable answer. I pray things do not reach that impasse, but I cannot guarantee it will not. It wouldn't be the first time. I will not pretend such reprehensible behavior is a thing of the past. Evil exists. The only thing that keeps it at bay is people choosing and doing good.

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." ~Edmund Burke

I will not be a pawn because I was ignorant. I spent my whole life being used as a pawn, being used against one person and another, as others played their elaborate games. I will not be a pawn again. I will not plead ignorance. If I don't know, and it matters, I will do the work necessary to find the truth. Sticking my head in the sand is no longer an option. Allowing others to force feed me is not an option.

So, no; I won't ignore it, I may not be called upon to give an accounting of my beliefs, yet, but the time will come. I want to be able to answer boldly and with confidence what I believe and think and feel, not depending on anyone to prompt me or guide me, but God. The only way I will be able to fulfill that desire is to ask the hard questions now, study now, decide now.

God gave me a brain and a heart, not to be idle but to use. I will be held accountable, sooner or later, for my thoughts and actions. And I won't be able to lie. God, and only God, is able to look into my soul and see the truth there. Oddly enough, I find comfort in that assurance.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

God breeze...

Nikon Sniper made this post at his site Nikon Sniper: Mount St. Helens

Go read it. I'll still be here when you finish. And be sure to click on the picture! It goes full screen. Breathtaking.

A little background information. Nikon Sniper was touched by the downturn in the economy, like many of us. His job went away. He's been working toward finding what God wants him to do now.

Inspired from God for NS or me, I do not know, but with that knowledge in mind, this comment slipped out of my heart:

As I looked at this picture, I thought about how when you took this photo you had no way of knowing how your life was going to "blow up" in two years, and yet God gave you a peek into His ability to turn the most catastrophic events into awe-inspiring beauty, in His time. I need this reminder, too. My life "blew up" last January, and I've been fretting about the destruction and the lack of change, but God is creating something beautiful, if I will quiet my heart and allow it in His time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Carpe diem... NASCAR winding down...

NASCAR ~ Nationwide series, in Fort Worth, Texas. Carl led most of the laps (157/200) and came in third. Good to see Trevor Bayne win it. Well done, Trevor. Go Carl! Sprint Cup series, in Fort Worth, Texas. In-car camera with Carl. WHOOHOO!! Ooooo learned something new. If I click on Carl's camera, instead of the mosaic of four cameras, including the back stretch, I can listen to the radio communications of Carl's team, including Carl. Fun! And possibly I'm easily amused. ;-D Carl came in second!! Whoohoo!! And he is still #1 in the Chase!! WHOOHOO!!!!

Plan for the day:
~Adjust to the new time, and reschedule everything back an hour. *stupid daylight savings time*
~Bake cookies
~Prepare to sort papers on Tuesday


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #76

~Todd Agnew Grace Like Rain

~Fresh, hot bread, with butter and honey or butter and homemade peach jam or butter and homemade blackberry jam or butter or nothing at all but yummy bread....

~Rain! We've had some lovely rain. And I picked out the song for this week, a few weeks ago.

~The power of a good book, to enlighten, encourage, uplift.

~Love the cute cat pictures from places like funny cat photos and

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Heroes... Vernon, New Jersey

Yes, I've chosen a city this week. It was a city crippled by corruption within the city's government. They decided to go back to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Is it perfect? No. But it's better, and they've rediscovered hope.

I look at what they've done and look at myself and what I've been trying to do. I recognized that what I'd embraced in my past was corrupt, and I needed to change. So, scrapped the old stuff, and started over, stripping down to the foundation, and re-examining everything that to be added to that foundation before going ahead with it.

No, I don't expect everyone to be inspired by Vernon. In fact, I suspect most people will not be, but that isn't the post of My Heroes. My heroes are the one's who inspire Me. I hope others will find their own heroes. You see, I spent most of my life without any heroes. There were people I admired, and people I wanted to be like, or thought I wanted to be like, and yet it didn't feel quite right. I hadn't realized the problem was that my life was based on lies, a lot of them. When I started the truth campaign I realized that a lot of those people I admired no longer fit the me I was trying to create, and never really had. I had to start over, make new definitions, and allow for flaws.

Some heroes are more heroic than others. Trying to find a hero every week has given me the opportunity to explore my definition of hero. Some of my heroes are bigger than life as I see it. I could never hope to be anything like them but a pale shadow. And there are those who inspire me not in their extraordinariness but in their everyday enduring.

So if you wonder at some of my choices, from week to week, here is my criteria: Each week I try to choose someone who inspired me that week, and I don't repeat myself, because there isn't time or space. There are so many amazing people in the world. I also haven't featured any of my friends, not because I don't admire them and hold them as lamps in my life, but because I don't want to invade privacy or inadvertently hurt any feelings. I try to let them know, in private, how much they mean to me.

I prefer a life with heroes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

I've felt worse in my life...

...I've also felt a lot better. I'll be better, in a few days. So, since I am putting myself in isolation, because I'm always squirrelly this time of month (and I'm really annoyed that it came a week early), I'm sharing a cute picture instead of saying anything more. It's safer this way. Trust me.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week Nineteen of REAL...

The 28th: weigh in: 242.6 lb. Made bread, really, really yummy bread. I forget that having bread in the house, or should I say not having bread in the house, is a trigger for me. I need to remember to make it before I run out.

The 29th: weigh in: 241.4 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. Two-mile walk. Today, I realized that my schedule is not working for me. A while ago, I toyed with the idea of changing my sleep patterns. It didn't work well, but I realize that there were aspects I'd neglected to consider, let alone plan. New plan starts, today.

The 30th: weigh in: 240.2 lb. So far so good.

The 31st: weigh in: 239.6 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. I managed to take a nap in the middle of the day, for about an hour. I'd been doing laundry, and roasting from the activity. Blessedly, by the time I woke up an hour later, I was all cooled down, and feeling more alert.


The 1st: weigh in 241.4 lb. *pfft*

The 2nd: weigh in: 241.4 lb. One SEAL puppy rep. One-mile walk. I had trouble going to sleep last night. Easy enough to find the problem: too warm. It's cooling off outside, which means the A/C doesn't turn on as often, so my room is toasty. I don't sleep well toasty.

The 3rd: weigh in: 241.4 lb. Waist circumference: 40". *harrumph* If you don't want to read about "women stuff," stop reading now. I feel lousy, but it will be better in a few days. What's wrong with this picture? It's a week early! What is up with that? I hope this doesn't mess up my work schedule. I tend to be so brainless. I would worry about crying in frustration, except that it's normal for me at this time. Experience tells me that I should send me to my room, and isolate myself. At least I've arranged for some things to be done ahead of time. Good planning, on my part. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I'm going to grab some ibuprofen, and pray I make it through the day without too many.... shoot... it's started.... brain went blank....

This fits, today:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Truth/Lies... more on mistakes...

Funny how thinking about something brings a cascade of awareness.

Here are several cutesy saying I can support 100%:

Mistakes are proof that you are trying.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Einstein said, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new."

God commands us to repent, every day, because He knows we make mistakes, every day.

“What do you first do when you learn to swim? You make mistakes, do you not? And what happens? You make other mistakes, and when you have made all the mistakes you possibly can without drowning - and some of them many times over - what do you find? That you can swim? Well - life is just the same as learning to swim! Do not be afraid of making mistakes, for there is no other way of learning how to live!” ~ Alfred Adler (Austrian psychiatrist whose influential system of individual psychology introduced the term inferiority feeling, later widely and often inaccurately called inferiority complex, 1870-1937)

Think Exist is a great site for finding quotes, with references, which is where I found the one by Adler.

I heard this yesterday morning. I really needed the reminder: MikesChair Someone Worth Dying For

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

OWS... what's wrong with this picture...

I hadn't planned to mention this, but I'm watching the insanity escalate, and there's so much going through my head I'm doing a brain dump. So the following are random thoughts. Hopefully, sharing them here means I can stop thinking about them. This is Andrew Klaven's article on the event.

I finally found this posted as the "official" statement:

"Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants."

"Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions." Actually, it isn't leaderless. The likes of 60s revolutionary criminals and union leader thugs have been preaching this event for months. There was even an ad on Craig's List offering $400-$600 a day for people to "work" as occupiers. Yesterday, we received a recorded phone call from "Justice For All" asking us to support OWS. That is a coordinated effort, an expensive coordinated effort. The rest of the sentence sounds good, but could be applied to any sports event, concert, state fair, or public event.

Side note: The phone call from "Justice For All" said that big corporations were holding back two trillion dollars from loans for small businesses and hiring. What the phone message didn't tell you was that businesses aren't spending money on much of anything because policies currently coming through the federal government are so anti-business that they don't dare hire, unless they are suicidal regarding their business. Would you hire a new landscaping service, if you didn't know whether or not that money you had budgeted would actually be there when you went to pay them, because you may or may not have a hefty tax bill coming and you may or may not have your health insurance double? They started with a lie and kept right on lying.

"The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%." This is a blatant lie. I've seen the support they're receiving from the likes of Michael Moore, Susan Suranden, the media, politicians, including the president, even George Soros, who is definitely in the 1%. They've picked numbers that make great sound bites, but don't mean what people think they mean. More importantly, they are slanderous and libelous. They do NOT represent me. Not now, and not ever. And I am most assuredly not in the "1%." Do I oppose greed and corruption? Yes, I do, but I've seen it in the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows. Many a criminal is not in the 1%, and I definitely oppose them. In fact, I'm more worried about them than I am the richest. I'm more likely to be killed by a common criminal, not in the 1%, than I am one of those in the 1%. These people need to rethink their priorities.

"We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants."
This is the same Arab Spring where Lara Logan was raped while the men chanted "Jew," and where Christians are being murdered. If it's supposed to be nonviolent, why do protesters admit that they've been trying to antagonize police by throwing rocks and glass bottles? Why are they advising that rapes not be reported? How is this by any stretch of the imagination non-violent, or am I not supposed to ask that pesky question?

What's wrong with this picture?

OWS is touting sharing the wealth, and yet they complained about the "professional" homeless (those that actually are homeless) eating the food that was being offered...

What's wrong with this picture?

OWS is opposed to corporate greed, while they use their laptops, cellphones, store-bought tents and sleeping bags, wearing their designer clothes, and eating organic and gourmet meals...

What's wrong with this picture?

OWS is opposed to the bank bail-outs, the bail-outs given by the federal government...
~taxpayer money was used to bail-out the banks, but there is no hue and cry against the President or Congress who authorized it and are paid with taxpayer money...

What's wrong with this picture?

OWS is openly and knowingly supported by Nazis, Communists, Marxists, Socialists, Fascists, Anarchists, anti-Semitics (anit-Jew, anti-Zionist, anti-Israel), anti-Capitalists, anti-Americans...

What's wrong with this picture?

And why doesn't everyone see how wrong this is?

I know lots of people who agree with some of what OWS is saying. Here's the problem: The adversary is the laziest creature in the universe. Why go to all the trouble of creating a lie, when the truth with a twist will do?

The more I learn about OWS, the more narcissistic behaviors I recognize. The hypocrisy that abounds in this whole thing is astronomical, and yet no one seems to care about these little inconvenient details.

What I've come to realize is that this "movement" isn't one in which there is the luxury of picking and choosing what one wants to support and what one does not want to support. There is no "well, I like that idea, but not that one." There is no "they're right about this, but not about that." The only time that opportunity to choose occurs is in your own life. This movement isn't about you or about what you want. This is about a collective platform. And if they have their way, your right to choose will be over. This is all or nothing.

This is the counter view: We Are The 53%. 53% of the population pays income tax, while the rest enjoy the benefits provided by that tax. If ever there was a time to do one's homework, this is it. The adversary says, "Let me tell you what to think and what to believe. Let me feed you all the information you need. I want to make it easier for you." God's way was never the easy way, but it is the only way to true, lasting happiness. Whose plan will you choose? I choose God.