Category Archives: Inspiration

Working on Me!

These are the stairs that I have mastered, twice a day.  There is a matching set at the other end of the parking lot that we circle three times to make up one mile.  It has not been easy and I huff and puff, but I have achieved some success. Around 20 pounds since Thanksgiving, 40 pounds in the last year.  That’s three dress sizes!  The last one is a little slower to come off.

It’s easy to do something for someone else, not so easy to be your own best friend.  Fitness is one of my goals for this year.  My weight was starting to signal early signs of medical problems ahead.  When your feet scream at you in pain by the end of the day, check your weight first.  My loving daughter let me know that one pound of fat can exert 7 pounds of pressure on just your knees.  No wonder my poor feet protested!

Seriously, diabetes and other medical problems run in my family and I am doing my best to beat the odds and avoid it all by eating right and exercising.  That means getting my weight down another 40 pounds.

While I’m at it, I’m working on my financial fitness as well.  Selling some stock, why was I keeping it anyway, some of it was a negative rate of return and some down in the 2% range.  I’ve kept the good performers and dumped the bad.  I have a new financial guy and he wants to manage all of it, but I’m a little on the cautious side.  I decided to compromise and keep my star performers, liquidate the bad actors and send the cash to him to invest.  He has one year to convince me he can handle my retirement money.  I can do about 5-7% on my own.  He was a little surprised when I told him that.  The money in my 401k was doing 3-4%, time to make some changes.  So I rolled the account out for him to handle it.

We all know that God has just two rules for us to live by, Love God, Love others.  That little rule that goes like this:  Love others as yourself.  Somehow we are able to lie to ourselves that we are doing good by giving away all our time.  Giving all your time to a cause, even to your family, is not a good thing.  Balance is a good thing.  If you do not spend the appropriate time taking care of yourself first, the quality of the remaining time degrades.  It is not giving your best to others.  Spending an hour on fitness at least 3 times a week keeps you healthy.  You are able to give to others a rested healthy persons time as opposed to a tired, run down and possibly sick persons time.

I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in my life.  No more sleepwalking, RLS and insomnia.  They finally figured it out; after a lifetime of extremely low REM sleep waking up felt like I was swimming through mud.  I am so grateful that they did since I have much more energy and as a result, I can exercise more and get in shape!

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Filed under Fitness, Inspiration, Life Lessons

Don’t Wait to Say You Care!

life-handle-with-care

A friend of mine recently posted some wonderful family photos on FB. I miss her, we grew up together and her Mr. Man took her to the opposite coast. They have had a wonderful life as far away from tragedy they could get and still be in the United States. Her FB photos of her handsome grandson triggered nightmares for me. I’m writing this post to try to exorcise the negativity and avoid stress eating my lunch. My nightmares centered on the dichotomy of the following paragraph. I’ll try not to be in too much of a rant in the following comments.

My friend’s father is the reason that I am a Christian.  Mr. P. was the kindest man I had met growing up.  He demonstrated his kindness as a Christ follower in ways that the rest of us aspire to in more flawed ways.  (So glad I don’t have to work my way into heaven!)  He was a loving father, husband and son.  He served his fellow man in all the ways he could.  Isn’t there always a “but” with humans?  But, he suffered from multiple personality disorder.  We never knew until a horrible thing happened.  He was tried and convicted of the horrible thing and went to jail, never remembering the horrible thing that Jack did.  It left Mr. P. a broken man to think he did this horrible thing and a week of this life was forgotten. What was left was a soul shattered life missing important pieces.

Fast forward to this morning: My co-worker brought her coffee cup into my office today and expounded on the self-centered nature of drivers. On and on she went as if she had saved up all her words to use on this one subject. I agree that we have become a self-centered and sometimes narcissist culture. My co-worker was upset because a vehicle was slow moving, often at erratic speeds. Her niece was driving, yelling at the man, her 18 year old friend in the back seat flipped him off as they passed. My co-workers concern was for possible retaliation, not that the driver might be impaired or the young adults need some anger management and road rage training.

The nightmare, still fresh in my mind, of Mr. P. driving around for a week before being picked up by the police stumbling, hungry, dehydrated and incoherent, rambling as one of his lesser personalities asserted himself. What if Mr. P. had been that erratic driver? What if it was one of my military heroes who suffer daily with PTS? There is a host of mental illness, medical conditions, grief and stress that could result in an erratic speed, not just distracted driving or a jerk driving as a self-appointed traffic monitor . Caution should be a virtue practiced at all times. I tend to practice the negative form of caution, cynicism. Either would have worked, as well as a touch of empathy, during this driver training exercise between my co-worker and her niece.

I have driven at erratic speeds, appearing fine to the world, while grief was crushing my chest like a 500 lb. weight. I would give much to say thank you to Mr. P. for all his kindness and unconditional love to an awkward young girl. I would give even more to erase the horrible thing from their lives. I would trade the rest of my life to be able to be with my beloved. The opportunity is gone. I must wait until my time to see Jesus is due and then I can see them all again. I grieve words not spoken, the road not taken.

Tell your loved ones you care, not only that you love them, but that you care about them. Give them a hug! Cut people some slack and eliminate provoking behavior from your daily life. How much better would this life be if we didn’t swear at each other, call names or gesture obscenely? Consider how you can improve the quality of your life in how you conduct yourself. Dare to care for the human race by being kind!

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Filed under Grief, Inspiration, Life Lessons, Marriage, PTSD

100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

Dear Reader, I advise you to do these things on rainy days (I’m not talking about the weather). Bookmark this article or link it or whatever the kids are doing these days, and open it when you’re f…

Source: 100 Things To Do If You’re Sad

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Filed under Family Times, Grief, Inspiration, PTSD

Lost – Brussels

At least 30 dead and more than 220 injured

20 dead and up to 130 injured

There will be more, it is so sad but the numbers will continue to roll in.  ISIS rushes in to claim responsibility and Muslims rush into the street spewing hatred.  I find it so hard to understand that kind of hatred.  (I know I am naïve, most of the time it is quite alright with me to be the butterfly with wings.  Please don’t think you have to pull them off so I am no longer naïve).  Harder still, I fail to understand how individuals can believe that their wants, beliefs and “rights” supersede or come at the expense of another human beings.  Have they lost all common sense?

The religion of hate marches on.  How are we to react to them?  I caution you not to get down in the dirt with them and return hate.  I believe in self-defense and even a good offense.  I believe in my constitutional rights.  I practice those rights.  I believe in a strong military and healthy boundaries.  I don’t believe in the right to hate!  Forgiveness might be the right thing to do but, it is certainly the harder and less traveled path.

God left us with two rules, all of the old testament rules are rolled into these two.

Love God.

Love Others.

Take this time to examine your own religion.  Does it judge a group of people?  Does it condemn rather than redeem?  If it does, RUN as fast as you can from them.  Remember the rules, there are no “ifs” in there.  Set healthy boundaries but show love for others.  Love as a verb and not as a noun.  The hatred coming from this religion did not grow overnight, be vigilant with your own, ever watchful so evil cannot grow there.

There is nothing we can do for those that are dead.  The remainder however, need our prayers and love.  Grief is a terrible thing, I’ve seen it twist good people into unrecognizable, mean people.  My prayers today go out to the remainder touched by grief as family, friends and neighbors go through the burden of living while loved ones cannot.  I will also pray for those men and women who took to the streets directly after the attacks spewing hatred.  Lord heal their hearts and pour out the hatred and fill it with your love.

I challenge you to find a way to show love to someone this week in memory of those lost in Brussels.  Honor the dead not with hate, but with love unexpected. Pay for someone’s lunch, take a homeless person a clean pair of socks, clean someone’s house, go the extra mile in your own “house”.  Let our response be swift in love, as it would be in might had it happened here.  In this sad day, remember…

Love God.

Love Others.

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Filed under Family Times, Grief, Inspiration

Spring – Are You There?

I’ve always believed in goals but now that I am a fine and fancy widow, goals have become a critical part of my mental and emotional health.  I no longer am delighted with the love and approval reflected in my beloved’s eyes so I need to measure my own success.  This was a skill that I did not develop until I was 40.  I was not raised to believe in myself and my own success.  I was raised to always put myself last and to endure whatever was thrown at me, including fists.  Having someone believe in you can change your entire outlook on life.  I know it did for me.

I’m suffering from the early stages of spring fever.  My project list is down from 100 to 36 and I am itching to finish something.  The project list doesn’t include the new planter boxes I want or any gardening tasks! I don’t have the baseboard molding 100% done, I need a threshold and door sweep weather stripping installed and there is a 2′ x 3′ section of flooring still left to complete.  The problem is I need the big saw to complete these tasks.  It’s put up for the winter.  During the summer when the rains have passed, I leave the saw out under the awning and put it away for family get togethers.  I was going to drag it out for a few hours on Saturday but there was a light drizzle during the daylight that turned in to a rain at night.

We need the rain desperately!  One of the main NorCal water reservoirs is the Folsom Lake.  The marina has floating boat slip/docks.  They have been laying on dirt for over a year now.  We are far from being out of the water crisis but, I was so happy to see the live camera shot of floating docks!  Folsom Lake Marina Live Cam  Boats are permitted for launch starting this Saturday. Please pray for more snow in the Sierras.

FL Marina on dirt FL Marina Cam 2-5-16

Folsom Lake at capacity would mean plenty of water for the American River and all the towns between Sacramento to San Francisco.  It would mean no restricted watering.  One of the projects on the “list” is to change 1,800 sq. ft. of grass service into stamped concrete.  I removed another 400 sq. ft. from the front yard but never finished the project.  That will require some dirt excavation, a tree removal (it’s touching the roof), a walkway removal and another concrete pour.  Oh, and I’m not supposed to lift over 40 lbs. while doing it!

But the “list” is not getting any shorter, I need to accomplish something!  Arrrrgh!  My doctor said I was supposed to be kind and gentle with myself and stop beating myself up so much, to take it easy.  Raised in a performance for love environment, this is extremely hard for me even today.

I could work overtime tomorrow but I don’t think that is going to happen.  Too much goes to taxes and then there is the “list”.  The sun is supposed to shine from 6 a.m. to noon and then cloudy for the rest of the day.  President’s weekend is booked solid for the SAN FRANCISCO WRITER’S CONFERENCE (woot!) so I won’t be working on my projects then.  What’s that old saying, make hay while the sun shines or, in my case, finish something!  I can at least say my writing goals are fairly up to date.  I’ve started a local writing critique group and surrounded myself with author support. How are you sticking to your goals?

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Filed under Garden, Grief, Inspiration, Projects, SFWC, Uncategorized, Urban Farming

Be Thankful – Be Positive

The National Novel Writing Month, affectionately called NaNoWriMo, is in full swing.  Do you NaNo?  I am honored to be the Liaison for my Region.  I take care of small details and set up events for my Region.  We meet together, for those interested, every week.  I’m a sometime coach and general encourager.

This year we have more under 18 writers than last year.  I’ve been surprised at how a small encouraging word makes a big impact.  One author was ready to quit and is now strongly powering on to the finish.  One young adult, barely over 18, made a comment to me in an email.

“I’m behind just a little in my word count but I really want to catch up, this is my last chance to be an author.”

Did you just hear the brakes of my virtual car slam on?  I could swear they did and a 20 car pileup ensued.  I wanted to ask, who has been filling your mind with rubbish but refrained.  My job is to encourage not to solve the issue of world peace or even home peace.

I hope I managed to convince this precious writer that it is not the last chance.  They are writing between 250-500 words in each 10 minute virtual word sprint.  I have reasoned with the writer that if you can write that many words in 10 minutes, why can’t you find a 15 minute chunk of time to write every day.  Hide in the bathroom; write in bed after lights go out.  Write over lunch (I do!).  It’s o.k. to write in public just as it is o.k. to hide your writing in secret.  It is not o.k. to quit on yourself.  Don’t give up your dreams no matter who tells you are not ______ enough.

Jesus only gave us two rules to live by:  Love God, Love Others.  During this Thanksgiving season, do your own personal reality checkup.  Ask yourself:

  1. Do I express my thanks and appreciation to God and others?
  2. Am I kind to myself?
  3. Am I kind to others?
  4. Am I paying too much attention to what others say?
  5. Am I paying attention to my goals and dreams?
  6. Am I thankful?

It is a rare honor to be able to convince someone to believe in themselves and to reach for their personal dreams.  Be so thankful and kind this Thanksgiving that someone will be encouraged because you are alive!  Go change someone’s world for the better; it might be your own.

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Filed under Inspiration, Writing

Wisdom & Grace – Obtaining and Giving Both

It is my habit to go to a triage on Sundays. I get together with a bunch of other humans who have failed at being perfect and give it another go at getting better, getting closer to the creator. Some people call it church, a term that many people assign a lot of negative stereotypes. I find that after I question critics about it, they usually have never read the Bible or they have been hurt by someone who wasn’t perfect–and went to church. The people I meet at church are pretty similar to the ones that I meet at my writer’s clubs, folks that are trying to get better. (Funny how the struggling writers don’t get called hypocrites. Hmmm. Getting off the soap box now…)

I was delighted to have wonderful speakers at two venues this Sunday. Award winning Katy Pye* opened our minds and exposed us to contest opportunities for writers and how they can lend authority to your writing. Her topics covered prioritization and a marketing plan as well as helpful tips and checklists. She was very open about the mistakes she made, she prefers to call them missed opportunities. Ms. Pye read a passage from her book “Elizabeth’s Landing”. The role of the grandfather drew me in right away. He could have been my mother. Elizabeth is a precocious teenager trying to find her way with mostly absent parents as she discovers some threatened sea turtles. I left the Redwood Writer’s Club meeting with an autographed copy of her book that I can’t wait to finish. Elizabeth’s Landing captured a 2013 1st Place in all Fiction for the Writer’s Digest Self Published e-Book Awards, the 2013 Silver Nautilus Book Award for YA Fiction and the Category Winner for 2014 Children’s/Juvenile Fiction from the Indie Book Awards.

Pastor Bill** (PB) spoke about Making Wise Choices and Living in Grace. If you listen to PB enough, one thing will become very clear. He will speak on your favorite sin and it will most likely feel like he has videotaping services on you. He doesn’t and we shine the lights on him on Sunday so he can’t see you squirm in the seats so stay with me here. PB talks about real things, not abstracts; things that we need to be at peace. It fits right into my concept of church as triage. I don’t really need to hear about something that is lofty and filled with so many churchy words that I can’t see how they work in my everyday life. PB started off with my favorite sin so he had my attention right away, I was careful not to fidget too much so people wouldn’t identify me with my favorite bad choice. He moved on to other topics like credit cards and gambling. Just a sentence or two but enough to let you know what God says about those “acceptable sins”. I am free to drink but not get drunk but if I drink in front of an alcoholic, that is a sin. It might cause them to sin. You are smart, you get the idea and can apply that to other things. I couldn’t help but look sideways at my good friend who has a big gambling problem. My friend was sitting stone still like a statue, looking straight ahead. Hmmm, I’ll have to remember that freezing is as bad as squirming too much. Heaven forbid that someone know I might need help! I’m not outing my friend and I know they won’t out me so the public humiliation will be limited to the times I put my foot into my mouth and try to function!

For now, I will be confessing my problem to my accountability partner, who I trust. I plan on investing some prayer time and good old effort and hard work in getting better at both writing and my “favorite” sin. Romans 6 deserves another read this week since I am far from being perfect. But, I sure like that grace method for flawed folks like me! Grace is getting what I don’t deserve and Mercy is not getting what I deserve. Wow, free gifts and free payments, thank you Jesus!

*Download sample chapters and read her blog at katypye.com.

**1108 Washington Street, Fairfield, CA or online at http://www.fbc-fairfield.org to download PB’s podcasts. PB’s lineup for August: 17th Loving Unconditionally, 24th Living in Personal Freedom, 31st Letting Others Be Themselves

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Filed under Inspiration, Stress Reduction, Writing