Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Listen to the niggles...

They may be meaningless. They may not matter. Then again, they might. Last week, I had a little niggle that I ought to turn in my bill, for my work, last week. It would be a little early, but not much. I held to my end-of-the-month deadline. Sigh. The client is out of town this week! If I'd turned it in, I would have been paid, this week, instead of next. No one's fault but mine. Live and learn.

So as not to be too hard on myself: I had a little niggle to go ahead and prep everything for a meeting, this evening, with someone who is helping me. We had a lovely chat, but they wanted me to email the information instead. Was it a waste of time and energy? Actually, it wasn't. It gave me the opportunity to re-read, and I found some needed changes.

This morning, I had to do a little driving. I had a niggle to check the passenger door. I did. It held firm. Once I hit the freeway, at 65 mph, there was a terrible whistling. I wondered if the door were slightly ajar, except that I knew it was not, because I had checked. I was careful, and checked the door again when I arrived at my destination, where I discovered that the window wasn't completely closed. What if I hadn't checked, so I could assure myself that the door was shut tightly?

God's ways are not man's ways. Learn God's ways. They may be harder in the short run, but they are always better in the long run.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

Thank God for all the men and women who have courageously served and died for this country. May God bless their families. May God bless our military. May we always remember and honor their sacrifice. Never forget. Freedom isn't free.

As long as there are those willing to kill for power, there will need to be those willing to fight for freedom. ~Laurel Hawkes

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #54

~Jesus Christ, my Savior, the One who understands all, and loves to a depth of choosing to live and to give His life for all.

~Thank God for men and women who love family, home, country, and freedom so much they are willing to die in the defense of it.

~Thank God for the sixteen service personnel that gave their lives in an effort to rescue the Operation Redwing SEAL team. They were doing what they had committed to do, to the best of their ability. May God bless their families.

~Thank God for the friends He brings into my life.

~Thank you, Diane Gaston. Posts on Mondays over at Risky Regencies. She shared the Online Etymology Dictionary. Words that mean one thing now, didn't always mean that. Example: Snatch. I use it interchangeably with snag, snitch, steal, grab. However, for someone in the early 1800s, it didn't mean that then. Thank God for those little niggles, the ones that nudge and push and whisper, "Check the meaning of that word."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Heroes... Matthew Axelson

The third man of the four-man team in Operation Redwing to die for his country and his team. His last words of love for his wife gave the last man an extra reason to hang on. There will always be that missing place at the table that no one else can fill. He gave all, and he will never be forgotten.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
~John 15:13

Friday, May 27, 2011

Last month, I asked, "Who am I?"

I've made some interesting discoveries, broad-ranging and sometimes surprising. Now, it seems the time has come, since the question has been asked, "What is my core value?" I'm a firm believer that people and situations cross our paths at specific times and it is up to me to decide if I will accept or reject the opportunity presented. It requires creating my own priorities... oh.

I think I've answered my own question, unexpectedly. My main source of income ended, earlier this year. If making money were my main concern, my core value, I would be jumping at every opportunity that has been thrown my way, regardless of how ridiculous some of the opportunities were.

Instead, I have doggedly pursued the path I believe God wishes me to take. He's certainly thrown me a bucketload of breadcrumbs to keep me on track. Those who don't know me well believe that I am lazy, irresponsible, ungrateful, and selfish. I used to try to explain myself, but have long since grown tired of having what I say misconstrued or thrown back at me or, worse, used against me. Because of many of my choices, I have been judged wanting, unworthy, falling short. So be it.

There was a time when my core value would have been revealed to be my furry children. I skipped doctor visits, groceries, vacations, and socializing when the need arose, with only a few brief regrets, but I would not have chosen differently. They were my living, breathing angel gifts from God. His proof that He loved me, and I still miss them terribly. A day never goes by without thinking of them, and wishing... it doesn't matter. Life is was it is. Once in a while, I pray God gives them an extra loving from me. And yes, they were used against me, to control me, to manipulate me, to punish me.

"What is my core value?" What is it for which I am willing to give up everything else? Family, those people I hold dear, regardless of blood ties, and God, but above all God. I know why it's difficult to acknowledge family considering how I've had to restructure my thinking in that regard, but I'm figuring it out. Even so, there are lines I have drawn, because I don't know how to be any other way.

God, on the other hand, requires a whole new way of accepting my perceptions. And it is only now that I'm beginning to recognize my parameters. I didn't think that God was a core value because my life isn't devoted to Him. I live my life, but not in the image of a devotee. I haven't done many of the basic things expected of someone considered dedicated to God, at least by the world's standards. So I believed I was lacking, until now. I'm far from perfect, but as difficult as the path before me is, I've struggled along it, day by day, even when it seems hopeless. I take another step, even if it's only a little crawl forward. And when I believe I can't possibly move forward another step, I turn it over to God, and He moves me forward, enough to keep me facing forward. I'm scared witless, but step into the darkness anyway. Sometimes, a candle is there, waiting, and sometimes only more darkness, but never without a sure knowledge that I am never alone. God will not take the steps for me, but He will stand with me, encouraging me, providing angels on earth to lift me. God is the core of who I am. Without Him, I am nothing.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This isn't what I was going to write about...

I had other plans for today's post, and then I read Tim Barney and Tara Tyler Quinn's post at Much Cheaper Than Therapy. A few weeks ago, I added TTQ to my list of heroes. Today reaffirmed why. I'm wrinkling my nose and clearing my throat and blinking away the tears. I commented there that this is the advice I've been looking for all my life. And yet, only now am I finally in a place to recognize, understand, and actually make an effort to implement it. I don't know if there's enough of me. I've mentioned that I'm comfortable being alone with myself, but I'm not sure I know what my core value is. For years, it was family, until I began to realize how incredibly unhealthy my perception is, though I'm working to learn to be healthy. I want to say that money isn't... well, it isn't really... but I do worry about it, but I don't think that counts as the core value. I truly want to say God, but I'm not particularly trustful there either. So, maybe I need to explore what is at the core of me, the deepest part, the heart that makes the final decision, because right now, I don't know. I've been told what it should be, what it ought to be, what it had better be, but that isn't acceptable to me anymore. I want to decide. I want to dig deep and sift through the funny stuff, the ugly stuff, the painful stuff, and joyful stuff. I want to search, for myself, and decide for myself, because ultimately, the only one who is going to be held accountable is me. I've spent a lot of years allowing others to decide for me. I'm still alive, so that's good, but am I really living? So many walls and barriers and blinds have been thrown in my way. What kind of life is that? Is it a life at all?

I don't know why but this seems like the right time to talk about my battle with grace. When I was working with my second counselor I told her, in incredibly vague detail... okay, I skimmed the surface of the sexual abuse that has occurred throughout my life, only enough for her to know that I had been sexually abused. She thought it admirable that I wouldn't give her details. I figured it was bad enough that I had to live with it, why would I inflict it, in any way, on anyone else? Whether or not the details are important, I don't know, and isn't really part of this story. She praised me for making it through.

I nodded, and said, "Yeah, yeah, but I would have liked to have made it through with more grace."

She blinked, and repeated, more slowly. "You made it through."

I looked at her and nodded. "Yes, but I would have liked to have done it with more grace."

"Judy, you made it through!"

"Yes, but I would have liked to have done it with more grace!"

"Repeat after me: I made it through!"

"I made it through--"

"Stop!"

Then I mumbled, "But I would have liked to have done it with more grace."

Maybe I'm still looking for the more grace.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hunting for heroes...

Last year, when Glenn Beck announced the Restoring Honor rally, I spent months contemplating what Honor meant. I finally realized I hadn't a clue what it actually was, beyond the very vaguest sense. It wasn't something with which I was raised. I reached the point where I decided to spend an entire month studying Honor, what it meant not only as a definition but what it looked like in action. I've endeavored to incorporate it into my own life. I know I'm not very good at it, but I'm working on it.

Then I began a new search, for heroes. I hadn't had many of those either. And now there's the upcoming Restoring Courage rally in Jerusalem. I can't afford to go, but it ties in neatly with my own current focus. Too often the "world" looks to stars and the ultra rich in adoration and awe. They've confused being a hero with being famous. Or perhaps they haven't. Perhaps the difference is in what they value. Do they truly value the superstars themselves and their beliefs, or do they value the wealth and power? And simply pick and choose between the many pretty packaging options? Either way, it isn't about heroism.

Over the years, I've gradually developed a working concept of what a hero is or ought to be, but I didn't have many concrete examples that I looked to for inspiration. No, now that I've written it that isn't strictly true. I have several friends that I look to for inspiration, people who continue moving forward, no matter what. I wrote of one, yesterday. But I realize now that I wanted more. I've learned to recognize it in my friends, over time, but I feel like I need to learn to recognize it when I see it. I need to be able to recognize it, for myself, without having it pointed out to me by someone else. So, I started My Saturday Heroes.

In the interest of privacy, my close friends won't be featured, except vaguely, as I did yesterday. However, so much of my life I've heard this person or that being praised and lauded, only to find myself feeling like I've been blown about by the prevailing winds of change, forced to go with the flavor of the month. One day, this person or that is hailed as a wonderful human being, and thrown into the dirt the next, depending on the changing tide.

Much of my life has been spent endeavoring to maintain a smooth and easy facade. What a joke, on me. Will some of my choices "let me down?" More than likely. People aren't perfect. That being said, there are a lot of really amazing, incredible, wonderful people out there. I've been blessed to meet quite a few of them.

I was raised in fear by fear. How do you change a life-time habit? A little at a time. In any search, it helps to have an idea of what "it" is supposed to look like, and so I've started my hunt for heroes. One of my first lessons has been that it isn't that heroes don't feel fear, it is that the fear isn't the deciding factor. What must that be like?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Going NC... not what you think...

In many of the blogs I visit, the posters have either gone No Contact or are thinking about going NC. The specific reasons are varied, but the general reason is because it's the only way they are able to set and maintain healthy boundaries. In virtually all the cases, these individuals are dealing with narcissistic personalities within their own family. It's up front that the NC is because of the narcissistic behavior. The narcissism varies from smothering to neglect, but it's still narcissism. It's helpful to know one isn't alone, but especially to know that one isn't crazy. The behavior is unacceptable, but narcissists, by and large, don't see a problem and are generally unwilling to change, because in their mind, they aren't doing anything wrong (hurtful).

In the world of the narcissist, everything is about them. If you're quiet, it's because you're mad at them. If you don't answer them, it's because you're being rude to them. If you're out of touch for a brief time, it's because you don't care about them. If you don't repeatedly thank them and tell them you love them, it's because you don't appreciate them properly. If you are celebrating an important event, they will become sick or share their own or someone else's important event, thereby diminishing what is happening to you. If you are sick, they will have something more horrible happen to them. If they're sick, it is always you're fault. If they are feeling insecure or unloved, it is because you are not supportive enough or loving enough. And just for the record, no matter how much you do, say, or give, it will never be enough.

Today, I was reading the comments about the protestor that interrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress. I was gobsmacked to see how many people admitted that they didn't attend Thanksgiving or other family get-togethers because they had liberal family members that ranted and yelled in their faces about their "stupid" conservative values. (I know conservatives that are unpleasant and liberals that are respectful.)

It's always a relief to know it isn't only me. I've gone NC with a number of people because they believed they had the right to say anything they wanted to me, regardless of my feelings. I didn't feel guilty or second guess myself. I've also gone NC with people who deliberately hurt me, and have found myself needing to justify my actions. Why? I'm chastised for being LC (low contact) with people who have told me in various ways how much trouble I am and how worthless I am, without actually using those precise words (deniability, ie, "I never said that"), but because they also tell me they love me, it's supposed to be okay. There are times when I feel like and believe I'm a hermit (one of many nicknames). Then I think about the number of people with whom I interact every day, many I have never met and many of whom I have traveled a considerable distance to meet.

(Reminder to myself: I am not a hermit.)

It was such a surprise to see NC being used in a slightly different context, and recognized as an acceptable choice. It probably also merits mentioning that sometimes no contact isn't what it appears to be. There are people in my life with whom I have no contact not because I'm not safe with them but because life happens. People grow and change. I was taught to hang onto every single relationship, no matter how unhealthy, because you could never have too many friends, regardless of how unfriendly the relationship was. I outgrew that perception. I came to realize that by cultivating healthy relationships, I actually had more time and energy for those relationships, because my healthy friendships lift me and strengthen me. There should be no mistake that many of my relationships may seem like no or low contact but, in fact, are simply a matter of life happening.

One of my dearest friends, to those on the outside, others would have considered us low contact. She had health issues, and so did I. We'd make plans and have to cancel because one of us wasn't feeling well enough to make the outing. It was an amazing friendship. She could call me and I could call her, at the last minute, and cancel, and the other understood. We accepted each other as is, and worked with what we each could offer. I lost her a few years ago, to illness, and I miss her still. Things will come up, and I'll think, "I have to tell..." Her favorite authors will put out a new book, and I'll think about buying it for her. One of our favorite Greek dishes will be on special, and I'll think we have to go to lunch. Or, I'll be having an especially difficult time, and I'll want to call her, knowing I could pour everything out, the crumby, the unfair, the hurtful, the frustrations, the anger, everything. She'd listen, and then I'd say, "Okay, tell me what's going on with you, because I know it's going to be worse." She would, and we'd laugh at ourselves. I always came away feeling better for being around her, even though it was only a half dozen times a year, and we lived only a couple of miles apart. I miss her.

It isn't the amount of contact you have; it is the quality of the contact. It is about connecting with someone who says they love you and shows you that they love you by respecting you, honoring you, and sharing a commitment with you to grow together.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Carpe diem... unexpected...

For those who were not aware, the Rapture was purportedly to occur on the 21st of May at 6:00 pm. This is the billboard put up in place of the previous warning of the end being near: Awkward It makes me laugh. Like many, this whole world ending made me stop and think. I've read the Bible, and agree that if the Son of Man doesn't know, only the Father, than it's pretty arrogant to suggest anyone else knows. I feel sorry for the people who took it seriously. I also decided that it was a good opportunity for me look at this situation differently. I know that many people mocked this little group. Is that really productive? We complain when others mock us, but it's perfectly acceptable to mock someone else? Was this a lost opportunity to conduct a personal self-evaluation? Any day we could be called Home. We know not the day nor the hour. How many souls were called Home this weekend? Simply driving a car ups the possibility of one's life ending abruptly, unexpectedly, and yet everyone still drives, without a second thought. This whole incident did drive home the importance of having my own relationship with God, a relationship close enough that involves reading my scriptures and praying and seeking out all that is good, so that I am able to recognize God's Hand in whatever events occur in my life. I could criticize the dooms dayers, but what good does that do me? It gave me the opportunity to think about what would I do if my time were finite. I'd visit friends far away. There are several places in the world I'd like to see. As it was, money being tight as it is, I didn't do much of anything different. I wouldn't wish my life on anyone, but I wouldn't have become the person I am without it. I'm not sure I actually like myself, but I am able to sit alone with myself, in a quiet room, and not feel uncomfortable or need a distraction from my own thoughts. And when I'm immersed in what I feel is God's plan for me, I am completely at peace with myself.

My prayers are with those who survived the tornados and storms.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #53

~Beautiful weather, remaining cool enough for the blackberries to continue to ripen sweetly.

~The knowledge and ability to make yummy blackberry jam.

~Friends and family who love me anyway.

~Books and television that take me places I could never go.

~Go Carl! Won the All-Star NASCAR race! YAY!! And he came in second in the Nationwide race. Well-done, Carl!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Heroes... Danny Dietz

The first man of Operation Redwing to give his life for his country and his team, fighting to the last.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run , and not be weary ; and they shall walk , and not faint.
~ Isaiah 40:31

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
~ John 14:27

Friday, May 20, 2011

You know it's going to be a rough day when...

...you wake up at three in the morning, with pain shooting from your hip down to your toes, and can't go back to sleep. Good to know the sciatic nerve is working, but enough already.

It was noted, on yesterday's post, that I spent as much time being snarky as I did writing about my grilled cheese sandwich. Is there a correlation? As a matter of fact, there is. Good catch, Jonsi, because I was running the avoidance pattern.

I've written about me and food before. You can click on the weight loss label and read the other posts, if you're so inclined, but here I'm going to focus on this week. I eat to stuff emotions and shut my brain off. I don't eat if I'm this side of feeling panicky. I've been processing a lot of anger as I recognize and acknowledge the vast array of lies with which I grew up. I grumbled about the attitude toward the military, which was only the tip of the iceberg. I'm appalled at all the prejudices I grew up with, and most of them had nothing to do with skin color. I didn't notice, until much later, because I was always trying to fit in. What did I have to do to fit in. I've given up... no, I've decided I don't want to fit in with their criteria, because I think it's pretty shallow.

This week as been a week of facing the lies I grew up with about things that mattered in the family but, in truth, don't really matter at all. I stifled so many opportunities and potential friendships because they didn't fit the "criteria" I was taught as acceptable and desirable. I look back now and wonder how in the world I managed to grow up at all, especially without doing anything incredibly stupid. I'm sure I have guardian angels who are going to have words with me at some later date.

With a major event happening in the family, it's been safest for me to be as scarce as possible. When someone is feeling out of control, I seem to be the easy target for regaining that control. I skipped a few meals to stay out of the way. Not the first time and won't be the last. And may God help me if anyone tries to fix this. Trust me, from experience, it will only become uglier for me. Then again, that might egg on a few "helpful" individuals.

The grilled cheese sandwich was a reminder to myself. I love to cook. I was defiant and decided to cook even though I wasn't home alone. Pathetic, I know. I was very quiet. And using the jam was so out of the ordinary. It felt like I was breaking the rules. Wow, that sounds even more pathetic. Writing about it was an exercise for myself. It allowed me to be in the moment, a peaceful, perfect moment.

I'm in the middle of a personal project that could change everything or change nothing. And it's out of my hands, for the time being, and in the hands of those helping me. By focusing on something that turned out perfectly right, I didn't have to think about all the things that could go wrong, on a life-size scale. My close friends know what I'm involved in and are very encouraging, but I have to tread carefully, because there are those who would make my life truly miserable if they knew. I also have another potential plan in the works, but won't come to fruition for at least another month or two. I'm not at liberty to discuss it, which wouldn't keep some helpful soul from prying and trying to explore all the angles, or telling people who have no business knowing. I'm tired of walking on eggshells, but I don't see an end in sight, anytime soon.

My privacy has been violated so often, I frequently don't even notice until I find myself embarrassed by some familiar comment from someone I barely know or don't know at all. I know I'm the subject of lots of gossip and speculation, and yet people wonder why I'm so reserved. And I know that the gossip and speculation is brutally unkind, with only a grain of truth in it, maybe...

Oh, wow. This all comes back to the discussion at several blogs, this week, about defending/standing up for others... Most of the discussion has been focused on protecting/defending/standing up for children and spouses, neither of which fits me, but it has driven home how often I have been maligned and no one says anything, in order to keep the peace... It's easier for everyone to let the lies roll... because they aren't entirely sure if some of what's said isn't true, if not wholly then maybe in part, or from a certain point of view...

My sister has defended me, and is no longer privy to the litany of my flaws.

I'm more peaceful now than I've been all week. It helps to look deeper, but sometimes it takes someone else to ask exactly the right question that turns the key in the lock to open Pandora's Box and allow Hope out. What is my hope? I know I can't change anyone else, but I am endeavoring to change me, let go of past bad habits and develop new, healthy habits, to follow the path God has laid before me, if I'll only hold fast to my faith, and trust Him.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Snarky...

Have I been snarky, lately? That would be a resounding yes. There have been several things going on, all at once. I'm feeling short-tempered, insecure, out of sorts, afraid, paranoid, and questioning my own sanity. That being said, it isn't the first time I've gone through this. I'm sure it won't be the last. I will make it through, like I always do. Add to all that some serious back pain, though that is improving, allergies, which are temporary, and a huge dose of uncertainty regarding my future, and yes, I'm a bit snarky. I wish I were one of those people who perpetually sees the silver lining along every cloud. It only takes being hit by the proverbial lightening bolt, on more than one occasion, to know that sometimes you have to survive some wicked storms to find the silver lining.

On a different note: I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I've perfected my own recipe. Butter, not that fake stuff, in a pan on top of the stove on medium heat. White bread, not the balloon stuff: "Swipe" one slice in the pan. There will be enough butter for the second slice that you lay in the pan. Mild cheddar cheese, sliced from an 8 oz block: Takes about 6 pieces to cover the bread. Lay the top on, butter side up, and cook in the fry pan for a minute or two, pressing the top down with the spatula. Carefully lift and check that the bread is nice and brown. Flip. Press with spatula. Allow to cook another minute or two, until a perfect brown. Remove from pan, and smear with fresh blackberry jam. Definitely adding it to my repertoire.

I have been blessed with some amazing people in my life, and I am so very grateful for their guidance, inspiration, and encouragement.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Comparisons...

I really hate it when my brain goes on vacation and doesn't take my body along. It's grossly unfair.

Isn't participation in a SEAL "experience," for a single week, like playing in a sandbox and bragging that you've crossed the Sahara?

Reading one romance novel and declaring they're all horrible is like eating a burnt cookie and declaring all cookies are horrible.

I think of all the troubles in the world, and saw the following article at Yahoo. It made me smile. US Marine Donkey Mascot

Three batches of blackberry jam are complete, with the potential for one more. This is when the mantra do-it-all-yourself-from-scratch is revealed for the silliness it is. By the time you factor in the cost of the jars, the ingredients (pectin, sugar, and the blackberry bushes), caring for the bushes, picking, prepping the berries, prepping the jars, cooking, ladling, and sealing, each of the 8 oz jars would cost at least $10 a piece, if I payed myself less than minimum wage for my labor. I could charge $5 a jar, if I didn't pay myself for my labor. Not that I can even sell it, because around here the commercial kitchen must be separate from the family kitchen. That being said, the jam is incredibly yummy, and better than anything the store has to offer. There are always tradeoffs. It is one thing to choose the tradeoff for myself, and another to have someone else tell me what I must choose.

Definitely feeling scattered.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Impressions of Navy SEALs...

Yesterday, I read an article about a company that offers the "SEAL experience," because "Every little boy has got a SEAL in them." I was disgusted at first, and then amused, and then annoyed, and now exploring why I felt all those things and more. Starting at the beginning.

All my life, I have been pursuing my own Truth Quest. I stepped up the pursuit over a year ago. Changes were coming, and I knew it, but I did not know in what form. I only knew I needed to more actively pursue embracing who I am. One of the mantras I claimed as my own was: Always tell the truth, especially to yourself. That was soon followed by: The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable; tell the truth anyway.

I grew up being told a lot of lies that were spouted as "truth." The truth is that those lies were opinions, but I was expected to align myself with those home-grown "truths" as a sign of solidarity, proof of my loyalty. It was also a sign of my "sanity." Anyone who didn't agree with those "truths" was uneducated, living in the dark ages, unenlightened, stupid. Respect, among other things, is not something I was taught.

Stripping those "truths" away has been painful. With the SEALs in the news, one of those ugly lies is now in the spotlight. I was taught that anyone who joined the military did so because they weren't bright enough to recognize the need to go to college. I remember questioning this because members of my family served in the military. I was told that they were smart enough to "get out," as quickly as possible. Of course, the family will tell you that there were exceptions, a few, but it is hoped that they come to their senses soon.

When I read about the company offering the "SEAL experience," my first thought was that I wanted to attend, but I know I'm not physically capable. My next thought was that they are only offering a taste of the SEAL workout, not a SEAL experience. I do not know any SEALs, to my knowledge, nor have I done a great deal of research. I've done some reading, over the years. In all that I've read, I've come away with the following impressions:

SEALs have a deep down sense of honor, respect, commitment, courage, patriotism, strength that too many of us do not even scratch on the surface, but I am working on it.
SEALs work as a team like I can't even imagine. I suspect most people can't.
SEALs are educated, in a variety of subjects, to levels that only dedication they understand will take them. I'm working on that one too, though I've no illusions about ever coming even close to their skill sets.
SEALs are required to endure physical training that only the best of the best make it through. With my physical limitations, I wouldn't make it through the first five minutes, but I'm willing to learn from their tenacity. I have some really awful days, but thinking about what they endure during Hell Week, helps me to focus on making it through the moment and not worry about what's coming.

I think what baffles me is this sudden jump-on-the-bandwagon-everyone-be-a-SEAL frenzy. Not everyone can be a SEAL. This has been proven. Ask anyone who didn't make it through the initial screening. The thought of being shot at is not appealing to the vast majority of people. When I read about the rolling in the sand and in and out of the ocean, at all hours, I was grateful I didn't have to do it.

This new "fad" isn't really new. "You can be anything you want to be." Actually, no you can't. Those who spread such lies are setting up others to fail. If you can't carry a tune in a bucket, you will never be an opera singer. If you're 6'8" tall, you will never be a Derby jockey. If you're 4'8" tall, you will never be an NBA player. All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother. However, I put on a stipulation: I wanted healthy relationships. I haven't married or had children, because I didn't know how to have healthy relationships. I'm learning, now, but it's too late for all those dreams. Dreams that would have been nightmares, if God had granted them, but thankfully God knew best. And I'm all right with that. That being said, there are plenty of possibilities out there. If a dream disappears, find another one.

"If you have enough faith, you can overcome anything." Not always. God is able to do the impossible, but we are not. Job was faithful, but his life wasn't easy. John the Baptist was faithful, as were all the apostles, but it did not end well. Faith does not deliver us; faith sees us through, reminds us we are not alone. Faith is that flickering candle in any place as dark as midnight, offering hope, when all seems hopeless.

What I have learned from the SEALs: SEAL motto: "The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday." That will certainly help me keep things in perspective. Work hard; train hard; plan for every contingency and be flexible when the unexpected appears, because it will; give everything and then give more; and never, never, never give up. I am not a SEAL. I will never be a SEAL, but I will learn from the SEALs. And I will keep the SEALs and those who fight for God and country in my prayers, every day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Carpe diem... there are days...

...and there are days, and this is one of those weeks.

I could berate myself for not doing laundry, for not making cookies (I'm out of my favorites), for not going for a walk, for not picking more blackberries, for allowing those nasty rat thoughts way too much time in my head, but I'm not.

Books arrived, today. I've been waiting for Lucy Monroe's For Duty's Sake, for three years. Zahir was introduced in another book, and I wondered about his story. Yep, curled up and read it. It was worth the wait. It's a Harlequin Presents, which is a formula romance, but I always love Lucy's characters. They don't lie to themselves, which is frequently the conflict. Feelings are hurt. Perspectives are misunderstood. And often it's a case of what they thought they believed, they learn they don't. It's helpful to see the questioning process in print.

More important, I may not have accomplished much, but the rough draft I needed to create is done. Tomorrow, I edit. If that is the only thing I accomplished, then it was a day well spent.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #52

~Weather staying cool enough for the blackberries to ripen properly.

~Sweet blackberries perfect for blackberry jam.

~Writers who share inspiring stories, no matter how difficult those stories were to write.

~US Troops who do their job, every day, no matter what.

~Claritin D and its generic. Spring is beautiful, but no fun when you're all sniffly and stuffy.

Praying for Israel.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Heroes... Tara Taylor Quinn

Tara Taylor Quinn is a romance writer. She is on my Must-Read List. I don't own all her books (some aren't available), but I own many of them. I have bookmarks in most of them, specific quotes that have touched my heart. I have several that I re-read, from time to time. I prepare for the arrival of each new book. If it arrives in the middle of the week, I usually save it for the weekend. Then I take as long as it takes. I always find myself stopping and thinking about what she's written. TTQ is a domestic abuse survivor. Our survivor stories are very different, but she shares insights that are applicable to any abuse survivor. So, as I read, I reflect on where I've been, and where I am in my healing process. I love her Happily Ever Afters. I no longer have any hope for one of my own, but I still believe in them. I've seen them happen with others, including TTQ (and she wrote about it), and I love reading about them. HEA is about HOPE, and that IS something I still have.

She is one of several authors who have helped me to explore who I am. As I have developed my varying interests, I've discovered that those interests are, in fact, boundaries. I'm allowed to like football. I'm allowed to like NASCAR. I'm allowed to like romance novels. I'm allowed to be interested in world events, and have my own opinions about those events. I'm allowed to like white bread. I'm allowed to like milk and cookies. What I'm discovering is that these interests help me create other healthy boundaries. These are the easy boundaries: They're obvious, and they're easily defendable. From these easy boundaries, I'm learning to develop healthy personal boundaries that aren't so obvious or so easily defendable.

Carl Edwards won the Nationwide race, in Dover, despite the rain. Go Carl!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Manners revisited... again

SEAL Sleuths article from Yahoo. I thought is was interesting, so I'm sharing it. Actually, it ties in with my own Quest for the truth. The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. Tell the truth anyway. I'm endeavoring to make this one of my mantras.

*As we all know, Blogger took a little vacation and took some friends along. Unfortunately, not all the friends returned, namely the original of this post, so I'm visiting it again. If said post ever reappears, from the black hole of cyberspace, we can compare.*

A valid complaint was made about the previous post on good manners. I agreed, and decided that maybe a rewrite was in order. First thing that should be pointed out is that these rules aren't only for children. I enjoy listening to adults be polite, too. I know I'm not particularly good at it myself, that's why it's on the to-do list.

Manner #1
When asking for something, say "Please."
Manner #2
When receiving something, say "Thank you."

Yes, to both of these, for adults, too. And not in a snarky or sarcastic tone of voice. You might as well have not said it.

Manner #3
Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

This one should be true, but too often is not. Maybe in the author's world this happens, but it often does not. I know too many adults who enjoy making others wait, or they simply will not acknowledge a new person. Maybe it makes them feel powerful and in control, but it's pathetic, really. My time is valuable as well.

Just for the record, there are a few people I avoid, in self-preservation. Turning the other cheek does not require me to be a doormat.

Manner #4
If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

Yes, it is, though "pardon me" and "I'm sorry to interrupt" also work nicely, all spoken sincerely. Yes, that has to be clarified.

Manner #5
When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

Clearly, the writer grew up in a perfectly fair world. Sometimes asking permission meant a lecture because I should have already known the answer. It didn't matter if I did or not, it was determined that I should have known.

Manner #6
The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

This was what started the re-write process. Thanks, Jonsi, for your comments. When I read this, my first thought was the Thumper Rule: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I'd like a lot more adults to follow this one. That being said, this is an extremely confusing "rule." Disliking something is not necessarily a negative opinion. I dislike bullies, so am I being negative? Really? Instead, it would be better to teach children and adults how to express their dislikes without being nasty about it. Example 1: I dislike bullies. Example 2: All bullies are stupid, horrible, wastes of DNA that shouldn't be allowed to exist. Throw in some swear words, and there's a perfect example of negativity that needs to be addressed with some counseling where the victim learns healthy ways to deal with the anger AND the bullies.

Manner #7
Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.

This also falls under the Thumper Rule. However, I'll expect it from children when I hear adults follow it. My self-image, or lack thereof, did not evolve on its own. Yes, children can be cruel, but so can adults. I have endeavored to follow this one, because I know how painful it is when others think they're "helping" me by being honest.

Manner #8
When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

No argument on that one. However, there are people who will take advantage and see the question as an invitation to take over your life for the next half hour. It's also important to learn how to extricate one's self from such situations, politely. I must admit that with some people there simply is no polite way to handle it. That being said, I've also found that those people don't realize you're being rude unless you actually hit them or call them an unpleasant name. I know that some people are desperate for a friend, but one must also be a friend.

Manner #9
When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

What if you didn't have a good time? I mean, I remember listening to my friend's parent yell at everyone. I figured a quiet exit was best. I have discovered the joys of gift cards. When I stay with my friends, I bring a gift card to thank them for having me, as well as saying it. That being said, it bears acknowledging that they taught me how by always having little gifts for me when I arrived. It made me feel expected and wanted. Now, the buying of the gift cards is part of the excitement of preparing for my travels. Another way to look at it as taking that bottle of wine when invited to dinner. I don't drink, so I try to bring something else, like a jar of homemade jam. There's always time to learn those nice touches.

Manner #10
Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering.

Trust me, this is not one I was taught. That is the purpose of locks on doors. I arranged for one on my bedroom door, this year, and I'm still tickled by my ability to lock my door. I really appreciate knocking on doors.

Manner #11
When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

I have always done this one, even with caller ID, but can't tell you how often I'm not accorded the same consideration. I even knew people who took pleasure in the guessing game. I probably took too much pleasure in the fact that I've an ear for voices, and spoiled their fun.

Manner #12
Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

Say thank you in the way the person prefers. I have friends who love the handwritten note and friends who prefer an email.

Manner #13
Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.

How about: Never use foul language.
If grownups really find such words boring and unpleasant, then why do they use them?
Foul language is used for two reasons: Habit and/or shock appeal. Really. Including shocking oneself.
I rarely used foul language until I owned a horse. It only takes being stepped on once by 1000 lbs of attitude to expand your vocabulary in ways you never imagined.

Manner #14
Don't call people mean names.

Thumper Rule. This one isn't as easy as it sounds, because sometimes the mean names are implied.

Manner #15
Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

This seems to be an extension of #14. Isn't calling a person a mean name often disguised as "I was only teasing?" Teasing is a delicate balance. It requires healthy boundaries and maturity. Teasing among friends is only funny when everyone is laughing, and I don't mean laughing to go along. My sister and I have had some hilarious dialogues, where we laughed so hard we cried, but we both know the parameters and stay within those parameters.

Manner #16
Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.

Again, how is a child going to learn this if the adults don't do this? Movies, theater, concerts, church all have proper etiquette, but how many adults actually exercise the self-restraint? Besides the obvious no talking or whispering, which doesn't seem to be obvious to some, there is also turn off the phone off and put away your work. Rustling papers, texting, whatever it may be, in your effort to be efficient is distracting to those around you. You also broadcast to whomever you're with that they are less important. And even if that's the message you want to convey, please do not involve the innocent public in your game. Cowboy up and let them know you aren't interested.

Manner #17
If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."

At the same time, teach your child to be aware that bumping is sometimes an opportunity for a grope, and they have the right to protect themselves. I was on a bus and a man sidled up to me, pressing against my back. I took a step back, ensuring my heel landed square in the middle of his foot. I quickly turned, and said, "Excuse me!" Funny, he backed right off.

Manner #18
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public.

If you're in the car, you're still in public. How about: Learn to use Kleenex. I admit that I'm having a bit of a time remembering the new way to cover your nose and mouth, with the inside of your elbow. I know it makes sense, but years of habit are hard to break, but I'll keep working on it.

Manner #19
As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

Also prepare your child for that nitwit that will declare they can open the door without any help. Make sure your child knows they didn't do anything wrong. I always say, "Thank you." I really do appreciate that someone took a moment to think of someone else, namely me.

Manner #20
If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new.

Actually, this is kind of funny. Most children I know desperately want to help all the time. It is the adults who deny them the opportunity, and then wonder why children stop asking. For myself, I have to consider whether or not I will be any help. It annoys me when someone offers to help me simply because it is the "right" thing to do. It's a lie. They have offered a service that isn't available, for whatever reason. Do you actually have time to help? And yes, I've learned new things by helping out, but I've also found myself in really uncomfortable situations because they want help, but they want it done they're way, and they don't want to have to show me what their way is.

Manner #21
When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

Healthy boundaries are so important. It's all right to say, "No." Really. Grumbling for some is considered a way of being funny, so I have to decide if I want to hear it. If the grumbling is leaning toward martyrdom, then I have to decide how much I need the help. Smiling generally makes any task a little more pleasant.

Manner #22
When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

Every time I read this, I dislike it more. So, saying thank you is a way to manipulate people into helping you again? And since when do teachers have the corner on the market for being helpful? Saying thank you for the help is about gratitude, appreciation, recognizing you didn't have to do it alone. Saying thank you isn't about the person you're thanking, it's about you, your attitude.

Manner #23
Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

Manner #24
Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

Manner #25
Don't reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.

The last three are all about table etiquette. I wish I'd taken a class on that; they're offered.

The more I think about it, all these rules are about healthy boundaries and respect. Fortunately, some things are never too late to learn.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Manners revisited...the original...without comments

Feel free to compare to what was published on May 13, 2011.

SEAL Sleuths article from Yahoo. I thought is was interesting, so I'm sharing it. Actually, it ties in with my own Quest for the truth. The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. Tell the truth anyway. I'm endeavoring to make this one of my mantras.

A valid complaint was made about yesterday's post on good manners. I agreed, and decided that maybe a rewrite needed to be done. First thing that should be pointed out is that these rules aren't only for children. I cannot express how much I enjoy listening to an adult be polite, and think, I want to be more like that. I'm not particularly good at it, but it's on the to-do list. If I were a parent, my thought is: Children learn by example, and it's my responsibility to teach them about honor and respect. Now, I'm going over this list in terms of teaching myself.

Manner #1
When asking for something, say "Please."
Manner #2
When receiving something, say "Thank you."

Yes, to both of these. And not in a snarky tone of voice. If that tone of voice is going to be used, then the words might as well not be said. However, it can be fun. On more than one occasion, my sister and I have found ourselves laughing so hard we cry as we share sarcastic dialogues.

Manner #3
Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

Maybe in the author's world this happens, but often it does not. I know too many adults who enjoy making others wait. A short wait is polite, but I've known adults who will not acknowledge you. I can only guess that it makes them feel powerful and in control. Pathetic, really, but my time is valuable as well. So, I try to wait until a break in the conversation. But I have dealt with a few control freaks, who have turned their back rather than acknowledge a new person's presence.

Just for the record, there are a few people I don't acknowledge, in self-preservation. Turning the other cheek does not require me to be a doormat. That's a whole other kettle of fish.

Manner #4
If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

"Pardon me" and "I'm sorry to interrupt" also work nicely, all spoken sincerely. Yes, that has to be clarified.

Manner #5
When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

Clearly, the writer grew up in a perfectly fair world. Sometimes asking permission meant a lecture because I should have already known the answer. It didn't matter if I did or not, it was determined that I should have known. That being said, I've also had to deal with those who were afraid of appearing stupid so refused to ask. I have had people try to embarrass me by making me sound stupid for asking. I remind myself that's their problem, not mine.

Manner #6
The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

This was what started the re-write possess. Thanks, Jonsi, for your comments. When I read this, my first thought was the Thumper Rule: "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I'd like a lot more adults to follow this one. That being said, this is an extremely confusing "rule." Disliking something is not necessarily a negative opinion. I dislike bullies, so am I being negative? Really? Instead, it would be better to teach children and adults how to express their dislikes without being nasty about it. Example 1: I dislike bullies. Example 2: All bullies are stupid, horrible, wastes of DNA that shouldn't be allowed to exist. Throw in some swear words, and there's a perfect example of negativity that needs to be addressed with some counseling, where the victim learns healthy ways to deal with their anger AND with said bullies.

Manner #7
Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.

This also falls under the Thumper Rule. However, I'll expect it from children when I hear adults follow it. My self-image, or lack thereof, did not evolve on its own. Yes, children can be cruel, but so can adults. I have endeavored to follow this one, because I know how painful it is when others think they're "helping" me by being honest.

Manner #8
When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

No argument on that one, though with some people, asking them how they are is seen as an invitation to take over the next half hour. I'm having to learn how to extricate myself with grace. Remind me to post about doing things with grace.

Manner #9
When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

What if you didn't have a good time? I remember listening to my friend's parent yell at everyone. I figured a quiet exit was best. That being said, when I stay with my friends now, I bring a gift card to thank them for having me, as well as saying it. There's always time to learn those nice touches. By the way, they taught me by arranging a few little gifts for me upon my arrival. Buying the gift cards is now part of the fun of preparing for the trip.

Manner #10
Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering.

Trust me, this is not one I was taught. That is the purpose of locks on doors. I arranged for one on mine, this year, and I'm still tickled by my ability to lock my door, though it doesn't work if I don't lock the door. Practice.

Manner #11
When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

I have always done this, even with caller ID, but can't tell you how often I'm not accorded the same consideration. I even knew people who took pleasure in the guessing game. The problem was that I've an ear for voices, so I spoiled their game.

Manner #12
Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

Say thank you in the way the person prefers. I have friends who love the handwritten note and friends who prefer an email. And remember that gifts can be time, advice, inspiration, etc.

Manner #13
Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.

How about: Never use foul language.
If grownups really find the words boring and unpleasant, then why do they use them?
Foul language is used for two reasons: Habit and/or shock appeal.
I rarely used foul language until I owned a horse. It only takes being stepped on once by 1000 lbs of attitude to expand your vocabulary in ways you never imagined.

Manner #14
Don't call people mean names.

This is tougher than you think. I didn't realize until I wrote out my negative tape - the one that plays in my head - and I realized how many weren't actually said but implied.

Manner #15
Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

This seems to be an extension of #14. Isn't calling a person a mean name often disguised as "I was only teasing?" This is another learn-by-example. Television is notorious for using teasing as humor. I've often seen children teasing other children because they truly thought it was funny. It was what they'd seen adults do, and it's what they've seen on TV. I've also seen people belittle themselves in the name of teasing. It's a fine line. Teasing requires boundaries and a mature understanding between those involved.

Manner #16
Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.

Again, how is a child going to learn this if the adults don't do this? Movies, theater, concerts, church: Besides not talking and whispering, turn off the phone, and put away your work. I don't care how efficient you're trying to be, it is distracting to those around you.

Manner #17
If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that bumping is sometimes an opportunity for a grope. I had to learn I had the right to protect myself. I was on a bus and a man sidled up to me, pressing against my back. I took a step back, ensuring my heel landed square in the middle of his foot. I promptly turned and said, "Excuse me!" Funny, he backed right off. Maybe what needs to be taught is that saying "excuse me" is a part of respecting boundaries.

Manner #18
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public.

If you're in the car, you're still in public. How about: Use a Kleenex. Every time I take public transportation and someone boards with a hacking cough, I know I'm going to have a cold within days.

Manner #19
As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

There are those nitwits that will declare they can open the door without any help. I always thank whoever held the door for me.

Manner #20
If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new.

Actually, this is kind of funny. Most children I know desperately want to help, all the time. It is the adults who deny them the opportunity, and then wonder why children stop asking. Before I ask, I have to decide if I will be of any use. I absolutely hate having someone ask if they can help when they can't, for whatever reason. Why ask? That isn't being polite, it's lying, because a service is being offered that isn't available. On the other end of this: If you don't want help, it's okay to say no thank you. If you do want help, then clearly define the help you want. Are you willing to let the person do it their way? Or do you expect them to do it your way? Are you willing to teach them your way? Knowing you re-did what you had me do is annoying because it means you wasted my time.

Manner #21
When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

Good advice. If you're going to help, then it's more pleasant for everyone if you aren't complaining. However, remember that you have the right to say "no." I've been asked to do things as a way to prove who was in control. I learned to say, "No," rather than grumble. Some people enjoy grumbling, and if you know that ahead of time, it's easier. It drives me crazy when the grumbling is a form of martyrdom. I'd rather not have the "help."

Manner #22
When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

So "thank you" is a tool, to ensure future cooperation? And especially true with teachers? When did teachers become a different species from other adults? Most people like to be appreciated, and are more likely to repeat a pleasant experience.

Manner #23
Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

Manner #24
Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

Manner #25
Don't reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.

The last three all pertain to table manners. I wish I'd taken one of those etiquette classes; it would have saved me some embarrassment later. That being said, one of the things I learned at the family dinner table was to laugh and hold milk in my mouth without spraying. It has proven more useful than almost anything else. I actually knew someone who prided herself on making someone else laugh as they were taking a drink, thereby making a mess. The person who made the mess felt obligated to clean it up. I took great pleasure in disappointing her.

This has been a great exercise. With all that being said, I realized that every single thing had its roots in respect.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Good manners...

The Book Tree has posted an interview with Mary Margaret Daughtridge. I mentioned her book SEALed Forever, a week ago. In romance novels, SEALs always have a HEA. In Lone Survivor, I already know how it ends, and though I usually prefer a HEA, this is worth reading.

The following list was posted over at Yahoo. I decided I needed the reminder, especially as I did not learn quite a few of these. We learn by example. It may be a long time in coming, but I am learning. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Go me.

25 Manners Every Kid Should Know By Age 9

by Parents.com, on Tue May 3, 2011 1:21pm PDT

Helping your child master these simple rules of etiquette will get him noticed -- for all the right reasons.
By David Lowry, Ph.D.

Your child's rude 'tude isn't always intentional. Sometimes kids just don't realize it's impolite to interrupt, pick their nose, or loudly observe that the lady walking in front of them has a large behind. And in the hustle and bustle of daily life, busy moms and dads don't always have the time to focus on etiquette. But if you reinforce these 25 must-do manners, you'll raise a polite, kind, well-liked child.-

Manner #1
When asking for something, say "Please."

Manner #2
When receiving something, say "Thank you."

Manner #3
Do not interrupt grown-ups who are speaking with each other unless there is an emergency. They will notice you and respond when they are finished talking.

Manner #4
If you do need to get somebody's attention right away, the phrase "excuse me" is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.

Manner #5
When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.

Manner #6
The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.

Manner #7
Do not comment on other people's physical characteristics unless, of course, it's to compliment them, which is always welcome.

Manner #8
When people ask you how you are, tell them and then ask them how they are.

Manner #9
When you have spent time at your friend's house, remember to thank his or her parents for having you over and for the good time you had.

Manner #10
Knock on closed doors -- and wait to see if there's a response -- before entering.

Manner #11
When you make a phone call, introduce yourself first and then ask if you can speak with the person you are calling.

Manner #12
Be appreciative and say "thank you" for any gift you receive. In the age of e-mail, a handwritten thank-you note can have a powerful effect.

Manner #13
Never use foul language in front of adults. Grown-ups already know all those words, and they find them boring and unpleasant.

Manner #14
Don't call people mean names.

Manner #15
Do not make fun of anyone for any reason. Teasing shows others you are weak, and ganging up on someone else is cruel.

Manner #16
Even if a play or an assembly is boring, sit through it quietly and pretend that you are interested. The performers and presenters are doing their best.

Manner #17
If you bump into somebody, immediately say "Excuse me."

Manner #18
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't pick your nose in public.

Manner #19
As you walk through a door, look to see if you can hold it open for someone else.

Manner #20
If you come across a parent, a teacher, or a neighbor working on something, ask if you can help. If they say "yes," do so -- you may learn something new.

Manner #21
When an adult asks you for a favor, do it without grumbling and with a smile.

Manner #22
When someone helps you, say "thank you." That person will likely want to help you again. This is especially true with teachers!

Manner #23
Use eating utensils properly. If you are unsure how to do so, ask your parents to teach you or watch what adults do.

Manner #24
Keep a napkin on your lap; use it to wipe your mouth when necessary.

Manner #25
Don't reach for things at the table; ask to have them passed.


Originally published in the March 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Carpe diem... indeed...

Dug up cannas; miserable things are like weeds. They keep trying to take over the roses. Pruning trees and blackberry bushes. Blackberry bushes have a natural defense of razor sharp thorns. They also grow suckers that bear no fruit but are taller than the bushes so you have to go through them to reach the berries, and the thorns are bigger. Snip. Snip. The berries are starting to ripen. Now, if only the heat will hold off long enough... Laundry; Done. Added another author to my no list. It wasn't horrible, but little things kept yanking me from the story. Read another chapter of Lone Survivor. Wow. Yes, I take a little break after each chapter. It's intense reading, and I'm learning so much. Worked on a few things I've wanted to finish. It was a productive day. I at least touched on everything I wanted to do, today, even if I didn't finish everything. Won't complain about a day like that.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #51

~Follow up on the ceremony, at The Blaze, regarding the USS Michael Murphy. God bless.

~My dear friend Mary Ann emailed me, today, and wished me a Happy Nurturer's Day. I like that. There are so many people without children but nurture others, and lots of moms who nurturer others who are not actually their children, so Happy Nurturer's Day. I've been blessed with many nurturers, particularly in the last nine years. One of the most vivid memories was when I had to put my horse down, and Mary, who I only knew from online interactions, offered to do whatever I needed. I wasn't sure what to ask. We'd never met. We'd never talked on the phone. I was going to have to let my guard down and give a "total stranger" my phone number. She didn't push. I asked if I could call her, at work, the day after, because it would be the first time in five years (except for a one-week vacation the year before) that I wasn't going out to grain and groom my horse first thing. She agreed. This opened the door to an incredible group of friends, forever friends. It wasn't long after that, when I made a comment on the LOTR boards, another online friend, Margaret, emailed me privately and asked if I was all right. She had read between the lines. Because of Mary, I also met Jan, who invited me to a Howard Shore lecture in L.A. We met for the first time, at the airport, when she picked me up. I was introduced to Debbie, who has also become a dear friend. Mary and I finally met about three years later. Through those same LOTR boards I met Edd and Sharon, who live close to me, and we go to the local Ren Faire, every year. Connie found me through my fanfic, and we met at an LOTR event. Connie introduced me to Mary Ann, through emails, a few years ago, but we didn't meet until this year. Through the LOTR boards, I've met Sharon and Sharon, both amazing women. Mary introduced me to Diane Gaston's books, and I was blessed with another friend. And those are only some of my LOTR friends. There are so many more from a variety of places. I may feel unlovable, from time to time, but it's impossible to say that no one loves me.

~The internet!!

~Go Carl Edwards!! He's a new daddy, this week, for the second time; momma Kate delivered a son, so their daughter is now a big sister. I'm so happy for them. Carl came in a very classy second at Darlington, and is still number one in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points. Congratulations to Regan Smith on the win.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Heroes... Michael Murphy

Warship to bear Navy Seal Michael Murphy's name, posted on The Blaze.

Growing up, I don't remember having many heroes, but then I don't remember much of my childhood. I had crushes, but that isn't the same thing. (I'm saying that for me, to remind me, to help me.) This past summer, I spent a month with a focused study on the concept of honor. I'm an avid reader, and I have very specific requirements for my book heroes: Honor, trustworthiness, courage, and self-discipline, which are the first qualities that come to mind. Lately, I've found myself noticing people I consider heroes, and started making a list. I've decided I want to share my heroes. Beyond a shadow of a doubt and without question, Jesus is my perfect hero.

Today, I share my gratitude for all the service personnel who have given all.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Article in Time magazine...

Bullies This site does have a pop up ad, so should you choose to click on the link, keep that in mind. (I hate pop ups. Blocker usually catches it, but not always.) I did want to give credit where credit was due.

The article focuses on the damage bullies cause, more specifically in relation to children committing suicide to escape bullying. I can understand the desire. The article's writer took the perspective that children need to be taught empathy, early on. (I was annoyed that this was treated like it was a new concept, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) They quoted ancient history and various studies to prove it.

What I took from the article:

My first thought: Rubbish (toned down from what I really thought).

Next thought: Don't you dare victimize me any more than I already have been, i.e., I have no control, because it's all the bully's fault. They're putting everything on the bully. Bullies should have been taught differently. Bullies are created by lack of attention. Bullies... did you notice that now the bullies are the ones who are the victims? Because of bad parenting? Monkeys are so much better... The poets and musicians are so much better... Children in orphanages have no hope... rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish, and did I mention it's rubbish? The writer gave the bullies even more power, by putting them in control, or more accurately, saying they can't help it because of the way they were raised. If only they'd been taught differently. RUBBISH.

If this premise were true, then every child of every abuser would grow up to be an abuser! Do some? Yes! But some do not! So, the premise is wrong. (They failed to mention the study that found that monkeys are capable of murdering other monkeys, so that wasn't a well-thought out example.)

From someone who grew up being bullied by parents, siblings, friends, acquaintances, and total strangers -- and don't say I wasn't: "You could be so pretty, if you just lost weight." "Shrew." (well, yes, that's true, because I was screaming at them to stop hitting me/pinching me) "Being friends with you isn't popular." "Pizza face." "Craters of the moon." "You're fat." "Crabby Appleton, rotten to the core." Isn't that a funny nickname? A small sampling.

Bullies should be held accountable for what they do: It's called assault. And don't give me that "boys will be boys" or "they're only playing." As long as excuses are made, then bullies will continue to thrive. They are great excuse makers. "I didn't know it would hurt them." "If they weren't so sensitive..."

As to what they say, free speech means they can say it. My freedom says I don't have to listen to it or believe it. I've tried disputing it, and it didn't turn out well because I'm not like them, which I take great comfort in realizing. As my self-confidence grows, the nasty words hurled at me mean less and less. For those who are wondering, there is a difference between free speech and verbal abuse, though bullies will claim free speech. It's another of those nasty excuses. Call it what it is. Bullying is abuse. I've heard parents use it, teachers, coaches, peers; television is notorious for verbal abuse, though they call it humor. Don't expect children to behave better than their examples.

One-forth of the article was spent comparing Spartan warrior training with music and book-focused Athens. Both civilizations have vanished from the earth. All that's left is their history. I felt like the writer seemed to see an opportunity to show off what they'd learned in a way that fit with the article, sort of, at least the point they wanted to make as opposed to addressing what they considered the real problem: lack of empathy. They used the quote that if a child can be trained to kill, then they can be trained to empathize. Well, duh. However, what does Sparta and Athens have to do with it? I know bookish sorts who are incredibly vindictive and warriors who are incredibly sensitive. So the brutal is horrible versus touchy-feely is best simply doesn't wash.

One-forth of the article focused on children in Romanian orphanages. Again, it seemed like the writer saw the stats and went, "Hey! that will work with this article." There was absolutely nothing there about those children being bullies, only that their development was different. How did this study in any way relate to teaching empathy early means less bullying? Except that it implies it can only be learned early? By the way... I read articles, long before 2007, about the importance of touch and attention in a baby's development. This is not new, breakthrough information.

I know families that were brutal and some of the children turned out brutal and some did not. There are children who grow up in a harsh punitive environment and are incredibly empathetic. They develop the attitude of: Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt and am not passing it on. And there are children who grow up in "ideal" conditions and turn out to be monsters.

Why did this writer say nothing about what's on television? The games that are so popular? Am I going to advocate banning television or gaming? No. I know plenty of people who watch television and play games who are not bullies.

I've been bullied, and I've done some bullying. Yes. I admit it. And I'm ashamed of what I did. Fortunately, the friendship survived it.

Here's the important question: Why did I do it? I wanted to feel smart, important. I wanted to be right.
Even more important: Why did I stop? I may have been smart and right, but I didn't feel important because my friend withdrew from me. I decided the friendship was more important.
What I learned: This same friend repeatedly defended me to people I didn't even know were dissing me. My friend didn't agree with my beliefs but knew what they were and defended them because she believed in me. And that nasty little bullying I did? I found myself defending my friend over exactly the things I'd once criticized her for believing.

What I finally learned, when I was a teenager: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I suspect the writer didn't refer to this because it's too religious. And yes, I've heard it warped by the bullies: "Go ahead and hit me; I don't care" or some variation thereof, used to justify what they do to others.

Here's the article, without all the rubbish: Bullies need to learn empathy, aka, the Golden Rule, and the earlier the better.

Finally, why was this such a huge hot button for me? I mean, when I read it, I wanted to explode. Answer: I saw Lara Logan's interview about how she was raped and beaten in Egypt while she was reporting on the "peaceful" revolution. Multiple media outlets were filming this "wonderful" event at the same place and time as this brutal attack. What is peaceful or wonderful about rape? Where is the hue and cry about what happened to her? Where are those who scream about human rights? Where are those who scream about equal rights for women? Where are those who scream about sharing the planet peacefully? Where are those who are screaming about stopping bullies? And we wonder why bullying continues? What must children think when they see adults ignore such vicious brutality? What hope is there for them when the neighborhood bully simply wants their lunch money, again?

My thoughts and prayers are with Lara Logan and her family. She reminded me of the importance of not giving up, no matter what. Not fighting doesn't mean you have given up, sometimes it means choosing life over death. She has become one of my heroes.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Day of Prayer

Website for NDP

I thought I'd share a couple of my favorites:

Psalms 23:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Matthew 6:9–13
"Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory,
for ever.
Amen."

I've sung The Lord's Prayer, and it never fails to stir my soul.

May you be blessed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More "It's All About 4 Freakin' Things"

Frodo's answers:

Four Places I go:

1. The Green Dragon, with Sam, Merry, and Pippin.
2. Rivendell, where someone will take care of the Ring.
3. Mordor, that someone was me.
4. Grey Havens, to go over the Sea.

Four Crushes I Have:

1. Old Winyards
2. First breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, luncheon, tea, and dinner.
3. The Shire.
4. A gold circular object.

Four Smells that I Love:

1. The Shire in Spring.
2. Rivendell, anytime.
3. Lothlorien.
4. Grey Havens.

Four Favorite TV Shows:

1. Food Network
2. Travel Channel
3. History Channel
4. SyFy

Four Favorite Movies:

1. Lord of the Rings
You mean there's anything else?

Four Recommendations:

1. Don't leave home with Ringwraiths on your trail.
2. Don't snitch mushrooms from Farmer Maggot.
3. Trust your friends not to leave you alone, even if you want them to do so.
4. Never accept gold circular objects, especially from slightly daft uncles.

Four People that I'd love to read their Fours:

1. Sam
2. Merry
3. Pippin
4. Gollum/Smeagol (Is that four or five?)

Four Things about me that you don't know:

1. My name was originally Bingo.
2. On Weathertop, I actually stabbed the Witch King's foot BEFORE dropping my sword.
3. I rode Asfeloth across the Ford, without any help from Arwen, thank you very much.
4. I did not try to send Sam home.

Four bands that I love:

1. Does it count if it's all the same band? I was pretty obsessed with it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"It's All About 4 Freakin' Things"

My sister started it... well, someone else started it, and she followed, and I decided to give it a try as well... What siblings get us into, so let that be a lesson to you...

Four Places I go:

1. L.A., once or twice a year, if I can afford it, to see friends.
2. Renaissance Festival, at least once a year, with friends.
3. Online, to visit friends.
4. My imagination, which takes me everywhere.

Four Crushes I Have:

1. Frodo Baggins
2. Team Jacob
3. Richard Cerqueira
4. Jonathan Silverton

Four Smells that I Love:

1. Fresh baked white bread.
2. Rain.
3. Horses.
4. Christmas.

Four Favorite TV Shows:

1. Scarecrow and Mrs. King
2. Highlander
3. NCIS
4. Burn Notice

Four Favorite Movies:

1. Lord of the Rings
2. Ladyhawke
3. Harry Potter
4. The Man From Snowy RIver/Return to Snowy River

Four Recommendations:

1. Don't forget to breath.
2. The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. Tell the truth anyway.
3. Find and be the real you; no one else can do it.
4. Emergency food supplies include food for pets and chocolate chip cookies (or whatever your favorite treat). If you're in a crisis, the last thing you need to decide is between you and the pets, and CCC almost always make the day seem like it isn't quite so awful.

Four People that I'd love to read their Fours:

1. Frodo
2. Boromir
3. Brother Cadfael
4. MacGyver

Four Things about me that you don't know:

1. I wrote horse stories, when I was little.
2. I used to make "caskets" from boxes to bury the dead birds I found in the yard.
3. I went to modeling school.
4. I saw Star Wars, with my younger brother, ten times, in the theater.

Four bands that I love:

1. Casting Crowns
2. MercyMe
3. Mannheim Steamroller
4. Styx

Monday, May 2, 2011

Carpe diem... or not...

Today was one of those just-get-me-through-the-day type days. Tired. Headache. Aches. Unfocused. Scatterbrained. Added another author to the no list, and re-read a favorite. Not much else accomplished. There are days, and this is one of them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thank Goodness It's Sunday #50

I'm grateful for:

~The servicemen and women who daily do their duty. God bless our Troops.

~Heroes who are willing to die for their beliefs, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

~Heroes who are willing to live for their beliefs, like Nick Vujicic.

~Wonderful people who endeavor to make the world a better place by changing themselves for the better, and sharing the journey.

~Jesus Christ, my Savior and Redeemer.