Thursday, December 31, 2009

Up in Smoke!

Here we are again , the end of another year … time to let it go!

Have you any plans to celebrate? Or, will this evening find you quietly reflecting, in the peace of your own home? At this writing, DH and I plan to attend our church’s Burning Bowl service. “What’s that”, you ask?

In brief, two candles are lit – one that stands for the old year, another signifying the New Year. Everyone is given a piece of paper on which we write whatever it is that we want to release. (I was once cautioned, ”No names, please – God’s not a ‘hit man’.”)

After a time of prayer, each row is invited to come up. We stand for a moment, touch our paper to the light and inwardly just feel, “I release you and let you go.” The paper is then placed it in the Burning Bowl. This is a universal sort of thing – placing in the fire and releasing – as a way of convincing our consciousness that we have let it go!

While this ritual may sound “New Age” or metaphysical, it actually has origins in ancient faiths and traditions. In her book, Transformative Rituals: Celebrations for Personal Growth, Gay Williamson-Grigas writes, “Fire is frequently used at the beginning of a new year for cleansing and transforming – like the mythical Phoenix, rising from the ashes.”

“When we make time to acknowledge our emotional life through ritual and ceremony, we free ourselves up to love more, to forgive more, to be full of more of God’s grace, which is really the healing balm.”

From our family to yours …. Happy New Year! (Stay safe out there!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Do I Make You Proud?

From "service dog" to "SURF-ice" dog ...

I had to share this clip --easily, the best e-mail I've seen this year! Animal lover or not, it's message is so uplifting ... turning disappointment into a joyful new direction!

Hope you can open this link; or will make room this busy week to cut/paste to your browser:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rekindle Your Inner Light

Are you familiar with Eric Harvey's website, I look forward each workday to receiving his "Daily Inspiration" (e-feed), e-newsletter and book reviews. Here's a recent example:
* * * * *

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. Each of us owes the deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this inner light.”

Albert Schweitzer said these words and how very true they are. We’ve all had times in our lives when we desperately needed “a shot of inspiration” to move forward. Kate Nowak has written a beautiful book that truly brings this idea to life. Today, I’d like to share Kate’s introduction, which tells the story behind May You Be Blessed.

To Your Success,

Eric Harvey
Founder and President,

Excerpted from May You Be Blessed by Kate Nowak

It happened a few days after my father’s death, in that mind-numbing period of adjustment after someone we love leaves us. Having gone shopping for necessities for my trip back to my own home, I was standing in an otherwise empty aisle of a large chain store when suddenly I sneezed, the last vestiges of an allergy attack I’d fought earlier in the week.

Almost instantly, from the next aisle over I heard a voice call out, “Bless you,” and then another, and another, and yet another. All in all, in the span of only a few seconds, I counted eleven different voices coming from every possible direction in the store, some saying “God bless you,” others using the word “gezundheit,” but all blessing me, all calling good down upon me.

At first I thought little of it. After all the idea of blessing someone when they sneeze is rooted in superstition, an archaic belief that in the act of sneezing the soul is thrown from the body, and a blessing is needed for spiritual protection.

Today, it is usually offered as no more than a courtesy, a polite response that has come to be socially accepted and expected. But on that particular day, in the first few moments following all those blessings being called out to me, I began to notice a difference in myself: A slight shift in perception that left me feeling more connected and empowered than I had in days. It also left me, for the first time since my father’s passing, more confident that everything would be all right.

Driving back to my father’s house that day, I continued periodic “feelings” checks, marveling at how much stronger I felt. Later, sitting in my parent’s kitchen for what would be one of the last times, I recounted the story to my stepmother. “Do you think any of them realized what they were saying?” she asked. “Or was it just out of habit?”

“Just habit,” I answered with a shrug, thinking about what a shame it was that people could give such a needed gift as a blessing and not even be aware of what they had done. “It should be a habit, this business of blessing others,” I said a moment later. “But it would be nice if people actually knew they could and were making a difference.”

A seed was planted that day and two years later it sprouted, awakening me one morning to a gentle soul-whisper that poured forth as the words of a special blessing. Feeling compelled to take pen and paper from my nightstand, I prodded myself into full wakefulness and then sat on the edge of the bed, like a secretary poised for dictation, pen ready to capture each syllable as the inspired words flowed into my awareness.

Because of the power of the internet, those words have since been sent across the planet and read by millions, and as a result, I have received thousands of letters from people telling me how May You Be Blessed has impacted their lives. And in each and every instance I have found myself blessed in return.

I have often wondered since if my newfound work as a dispatcher of blessings is the result of a serendipitous accident that placed me in a crowded store on a day when I was both prone to sneeze, and to listen to subtle nudges from the heart. Or was it, perhaps, that my father’s gentle spirit was present that day, inspiring others to offer blessings so that I might be lifted up?

Of course, it is a question I cannot answer, but I do know that since that time my life has changed remarkably. Each day is now entirely centered on the act of blessing and I have come to recognize it not only as one of the most powerful and practical ways we have for reconnecting with each other, our world and Life itself, but also the most phenomenal way possible to lead us to happiness and success. It is a discovery I now endeavor daily to share with all.

A blessing, I have come to realize, is a sweet release from pain; a sacred reminder that we are made of love and light and goodness and, as such, part of a greater and most wondrous whole. It is an ancient key to a successful and fulfilling life.

Today, whenever I share with others this phenomenal key, explaining how, as we each develop the habit of blessing others we are blessing our own lives, as well, I feel as if I have been given a wonderful gift. I realize once again how truly blessed I am. It is my hope that as you read this book and allow the words of this blessing to enter your heart, you will be blessed in return. I could not ask for anything sweeter to my soul that that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rudolph - The Rest of the Story!

A man named Bob May, depressed and broken-hearted, stared out his drafty apartment window into the chilling December night.

His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap quietly sobbing. Bobs wife, Evelyn, was dying of cancer. Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home. Looking into her dad's eyes she asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's Mom.?"

Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes welled with tears. Her question brought waves of grief, but also of anger.

It had been the story of Bob's life. Life always had to be different for Bob.

Small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys. He was too little at the time to compete in sports. He was often called names he'd rather not remember. From childhood, Bob was different and never seemed to fit in.

Bob did complete college, married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression. Then he was blessed with his little girl.

But it was all short-lived. Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of all their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums.

Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938.

Bob struggled to give hope to his child, for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift. But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one - a storybook!

Bob had created an animal character in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.

Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it more with each telling.

Who was the character? What was the story all about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form.

The character he created was a misfit outcast like he was. The name of the character?

A little reindeer named Rudolph, with a big shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas Day. But the story doesn't end there.

The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the rights to print the book. Wards went on to print, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores.

By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph. That same year, a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.

In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all rights back to Bob May. The book became a best seller.

Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created to comfort his grieving daughter.

But the story doesn't end there either.

Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation to Rudolph. Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by the singing cowboy, Gene Autry.

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was released in 1949 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."

The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning back to bless him again and again.

And Bob May learned the lesson, just like his dear friend Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad. In fact, being different can be a blessing.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Silent Night

Wow! Just one year ago, sweet Charlotte invited me to Spiritual Sundays ... introducing me to your wonderfully warm and caring team. Thank you, all of you, for making my world a richer place!

Yes, this is a "re-run", but it's message is timeless. Like my blog title reads, may we "learn from the past."

Note: I photocopied this article several years ago. 'Think it appeared in my folks' December issue of Readers Digest? Unfortunately, I cannot locate the exact source --so to credit the author, an individual named "Shlomo" (I don't know if that's his first or last name).
Still, it's message so moved me.....and I hope it does you, as well.

Of the narrow escapes my sister, Judith, and I had from discovery during our year in the orphanage, one stands out particularly. It was Christmas of 1944 -- a white Christmas, with snow falling outside, but warmth within from extra coal and larger food portions. We even had meat -- meat! A Christmas tree stood in the corner, and we children were seated on both sides of a long table nicely arranged with plates. We were singing Christmas carols, their simple and pleasant melodies totally out of context of the savage war that had been raging for six consecutive Christmases.

The pleasant feeling of food in our stomachs loosened our tongues, and contrary to the usual silence enforced during meals we were permitted by the sisters to converse quietly. Boys and girls were separated as usual, but Judith and I could see and smile at each other.

Then suddenly, the door opens and Mother Superior enters, accompanied by a German officer. Judging by his uniform he must be at least a general.

"Children," Mother Superior says, "the commander of the German garrison in Zilina is a devout Catholic, and he asked to spend the evening with you. He also brought you a nice present."

The present turns out to be a large chocolate cake. It is delicious, but I cannot escape an oppressive feeling. Even on this night must the Germans intrude on the tiny and shaky island of peace I have tried to carve out for myself? I notice, too, the tension on Judith's face as she eats her cake silently, her apprehensive eyes on Herr Commandant.

Again we sing some carols -- one of them "Silent Night, Holy Night," itself so close to a prayer.

When we finish there is a pause, and the commandant whispers something to Mother Superior. After a moment's hesitation she asks: "Is there anyone here who can sing 'Silent Night' in German? It will make our distinguished guest very happy."

Both Judith and I know some German; actually we had learned the German version of this song before the Slovak one. But should I now stand up and sing it for our enemy?

As I hesitate I see Judith slowly rise from her chair and walk toward the commandant. The decision has been made for me, so I stand beside her and we join our voices: "Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ..." As we sing, the face above the medals becomes animated and involved in our performance -- the lips move together with our words.

Then suddenly Judith gasps and stops, terror in her eyes. She has suddenly realized what I, too, had feared: Why are we two the only children who know the German version? Where are the others? The answer is simple, and surely the German officer knows it. In this part of the land it is only Jews who understand German. The Commandant has trapped us -- he knows we are Jewish.

He motions to us to approach. It seems an eternity before he speaks. Then looking at us, he says softly: "Hab keine Angst, deine Mutter und Vater werden zuruck kommen" -- "Don't be afraid, your mother and father will come back."

For him, too, it was a silent night.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Noooo, I didn't make my transition. 'Twas our computer.
Here, I was "talking" about Andy Williams, then poof! Out of its misery after 11 long years.
Whew ...What stories, what secrets it might have boasted! (Shhhh!)

Nostalgia be darned! Like the child who suddenly develops a dislike for certain food groups, it balked at any site containing color or audio. That pretty much sums up Blog-land, hmmm?

Perhaps DH figured I might "go postal" without ready access to the internet. At any rate, we've just put in it's place a fresh, FAST HP. I'm euphoric at the possibilities! Think I'll call it "Comet."

I'm MISSED ya'all! Be back soon ... if'n I've not forgotten how!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Happy 82nd Birthday, Andy Williams!!! (#82 ...Jaw drop? Me, too!)

I’m sure missing the Christmas Specials of my youth. Color me, stuck in the 60’s tonight.

‘Specially Andy Williams annual extravaganza ...I close my eyes and still envision the impossibly-lovely Claudine making her entrance down the staircase with a toddler in one hand, a babe in the other, as her husband gazed on adoringly. An age of innocence … before we knew of men called “Spider” and the Grinch commeth.

Then, there were Lawrence Welk’s Specials, featuring “the lovely Lennon Sisters” (… and brothers, and still more sisters!). As a youngster I’d secretly fantasized about being a “Lennon” – I wanted DeeDee as a big sister in the worst way! Later I came to read their beautifully-written autobiography, “Same Song, Separate Voices.” An eye-opener to be sure … great read, if anyone’s inclined to learn “the rest of the story.”

I’m sure there were others … Perry Como, perhaps?
Life went on, while I wasn’t looking. Guess I’d better sit up, while there’s time and start paying attention!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Expressing Thanks

Given recent events, I woke the other day determined to make a choice ..... resume my ridiculous “pity-party” or, slap on a smile and Give Thanks for the new day. Dusting off my neglected “Gratitude Journal” ~ then spending quality time in reflection ~ has made such a difference! Tucked inside I found this story .....a unique, but sweet example of expressing thanks:

It tells of a female humpback whale that had become entangled in a spider-web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso; a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate bridge) and radioed an environmental group for help. Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off; the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her …..a very dangerous proposition! One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers said she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them gently – she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth says her eye was following him the whole time and he will never be the same.

“May you and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And may we be so filled with gratitude that we swim in circles of joy!”

A most blessed Thanksgiving to you all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why not?

Did you happen to see "Where's George" out on Changes in the Wind? You bet-cha, I hurried right on over to learn more.

So, two (slightly mangled) "George's" are now in circulation, and I've "passed the torch" to our grandchildren and friends here-there-'n-yon.

Reckon there's far worse ways in which to spend the time!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


This would get my attention for sure!!! Can you imagine the noise?

A Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet crew got permission for a low-level demonstration flight, as part of the opening ceremony for a speedboat race on the Detroit River earlier this year.
Here is the moment a US Navy pilot gave a shocked resident a very close look at his F18. The fighter/bomber streaked past an apartment block on the banks of the Detroit River. It was part of a tactical demonstration fly-past to open a speedboat race in the North American city. Officials waived rules to allow the Navy flyers to swoop under 100ft along the waterway.

One resident said, "I couldn't believe how low they flew and how close they came to our building". "I am sure the pilot waved at me." The jets had flown in from the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia to put on a spectacular show for thousands of spectators.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shoulders, Whine (and Cheese)

OK, call me “slacker.”
In defense, I’ve been really cranky of late. Like Thumper’s momma cautioned, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

I’ve always been blessed with a high tolerance for pain, but gotta admit, lately I’ve entertained thoughts of coyote-like behavior … just gnawing my arm off at the shoulder. Odd, that out of some 100 employees, 5 of us developed “bum” shoulders a few months back ~ just in time for what the tourism industry refers to as “Shoulder Season.”

Initial x-rays revealed, quote, “ragged bone ends.” Aleve, icing n’ exercise…. should be good to go in 4-6 weeks. OK, I’m not big on patience, but they’re the experts, right? Un-uh. The discomfort’s intensified, to the point where sleep’s a Luxury and getting dressed resembles a 3-ring circus.

Back to Ortho-man last week – who, without benefit of further diagnostics – changed his tune to “frozen shoulder” syndrome … with a prognosis of 18-24 months. (sigh.) Basically, if I don’t undergo his recommendation of cortisone injections, Ortho-man seems uninterested in further assistance. (Is it just me, or does that sound like a threat?) Am I just being a big whuss? I’d love to hear from someone who’s actually undergone that protocol.

OK, given my IN-aptitude for the sciences … I wouldn’t last 24 hours in med school. Still, akin to a toddler, I want to know “WHY.” I’d really like a definite diagnosis, but the insurance company is reluctant to green-light an MRI.

So, before I make a decision, I’m consulting my PCP (aka, “Welby/McDreamy.”)

Then again, there’s always “Coyote therapy” ...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Don't Quit!

I received the following in an e-mail, and found it so reassuring ... hope you do too!

One day, a man decided to quit. He wanted to quit his job, his relationships, his spirituality ..... he even wanted to quit his life.

He went to the woods to have one last talk with God. "God", he said, "Can you give me one good reason not to quit?"

The answer surprised him. "Look around", God said, "Do you see the fern and the bamboo?"

"Yes", the man replied.

"When I planted the fern and the bamboo seeds, I took very good care of them. I gave them light. I gave them water. The fern quickly grew from the earth. Its brilliant green covered the floor. Yet nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo."

"In the second year the fern grew more vibrant and plentiful. And again, nothing came from the bamboo seed. But I did not quit on the bamboo."

"In the third year there was still nothing from the bamboo seed. But I would not quit."

"In the fourth year, again, there was nothing from the bamboo seed. Still, I would not quit."

"Then, in the fifth year a tiny sprout emerged from the earth. Compared to the fern it was seemingly small and insignificant. But just 6 months later the bamboo rose to over 100 feet tall!It had spent the five years growing roots. Those roots made it strong and gave it what it needed to survive.

I would not give any of my creations a challenge they could not handle," He said. "Did you know, my child, that all this time you have been struggling, you have actually been growing roots? I would not quit on the bamboo. I will never quit on you! Don't compare yourself to others. The bamboo had a different purpose than the fern. Yet they both make the forest beautiful. Your time will come," God said. "You will rise high."

"How high should I rise?" the man asked.
"How high will the bamboo rise?" He asked in return.
"As high as it can?"

"Yes", He said, "Give Me glory by rising as high as you can. And remember...I will never leave you, nor forsake you. I will never give up on you. I will never, ever quit on you."

- Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bloggy Luncheon + Surprises

Happy days are here again!
Can you believe, it’s November already?! Not a minute too soon, I’m head-over-teakettle with these cool autumn mornings!

So, last week I finally had an opportunity to "play hookey" from work and join several Arizona Bloggers (17 in fact!) for lunch at Gooseberries … a cute little tea room in north Phoenix.

To be honest, I’m more inclined to frequent spots featuring meaty slabs of ribs and fat burgers (think, grease running down your wrist) … all the same, it was a great time and I managed to mind my manners (LOL)!
Sensing my apprehension, Marty over at A Stroll Thru Life immediately made sure I was comfortable. For sure, she’s a wonderful example of Texas hospitality! I cherished the opportunity to meet Sherry ... the type of gal I wish were my sister -- had I been blessed with siblings, that is. ‘Twas loads of fun, putting live faces with their written words … the atmosphere was positively electric!

And look what followed me home!
This cute little dude was my exchange giveaway from CeeKay at Thinkin' of Home. His presentation so winsome, at first I didn’t want to disturb the wrappings.

Fast-forward a few days … then I spot a Missouri return address in our office mail. Do you know what THIS is?

Dang, I wasted no time, taking that sucker in hand and…. ooooooh, what a feeling! Call me a “redneck” if you will, some things are just better served with a helping of Common Sense.

Hubby was surprised and so quick to smile at his new Missouri Meerschaum pipe. (OK, it may not be “P.C.” to be a smoker these days … but one takes pleasure where they can.)

Thank you, Rita and Frank!!!!!

Color me, spoiled rotten ... and incredibly blessed by these friendships!

Friday, October 30, 2009

My family might tell you I have a habit of recalling events by reminding them, “A month ago at this time we were …..” or, “A year ago we were ….” Maybe it is my own unique way of marking the passing of time.

In her amazing book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach has addressed “Secret Anniversaries of the Heart.” She writes, “Today I am thinking of singular rites of passage, the secret anniversaries of the heart. These are the anniversaries we never talk about, kept in silence and apart. You might remember a first kiss, while I can’t forget the last time I held my father’s hand.”

This month marks a personal such anniversary. Not a Big Event, exactly; rather a cluster of scenes, warmed by time and space. So, how does one observe a Silent Anniversary? Some light candles. I might raise a glass in salute. Most probably, I’ll just smile in quiet thanksgiving. It’s enough to remember, the way we were.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Isn’t the Bible chock-full of the concept of minding our thoughts? (Certainly, that’s something I struggle with on a daily basis!)

Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” And all the way at the other end of scripture, Paul says, “What is good, whatever is noble, whatever is honorable (depending on your translation), think about those things."

Our Father knows what we ask before we ask it. To me, that means that I don’t get to show up at a certain place one day of the week and visit God. “The Kingdom of Heaven is in our midst”, as they say. So who am I trying to kid? It is time to really be truthful about what I want and what I feel, because that is what I’m going to get.

Charles Fillmore said, “There are no unmanifested thoughts.” Every single thought creates my life! The ones I say on Sunday when I’m happy, and the ones I say when I’m cut off in traffic! It’s a little bit scary, isn’t it? What an awesome responsibility!

So, how can we use this power in the right way … in the interest of love, to make more of what we want to have more of?

Take an inventory, then take out the garbage! Is there stuff going on we don’t want any more of?

It might mean forgiving. It might mean saying to some people in our lives, Thank you because you taught me. Maybe you taught me what not to do, but thank you all the same, and God bless you…. and I’m done.

It might also mean forgiving ourselves. Saying, you know what? Whatever I put myself through, whatever it took to get me to right now, I’m here now, and that’s all that matters ... so I’m done.

Where we are going, what we want to do and have happen, we have to travel light. The best example of this in Scripture that I know of is the story of Noah and the Ark. Life has a wonderful protection mechanism within it; sooner or another, we’ll get to the point of growth. So, if it hurts, if we feel “sooo done"... maybe that’s God’s way of asking, “Can you tread water?”

It is time for a cleansing, and what does God tell Noah? “Take two of every animal.” I interpret this to mean, take with you what you want to reproduce in your life. What thoughts and feelings do you want more of, and what are you ready to have washed away? What can we do differently, what can we say differently?

I love this quote .... “Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent. (Mignon McLaughlin.)

I hope everyone is blessed with a hope-FULL new week!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I think you can learn a lot about God's love from a dog.

As one essayist wrote, "I am convinced that God made dogs to enable us to see grace from the grace-giver's perspective, rather than our usual position as a recipient of grace."

So, what does living with dogs teach us about God's grace? Dory illustrates:

He loves us even when we're yucky.
~ Aren't we like that sometimes before God? Sometimes we think we have an idea of our "yuckiness" before Him, but we don't know the half of it! Yet when we come before Him, He welcomes us anyway.
He works on just a few problems at a time.
~ God gives us what we can handle, and no more.
He knows what we want and need better than we do.
~ We think we know best what we want, but God knows better, and gives us every perfect gift at the perfect time.
He loves us even when we forget to be grateful.
~ God is pleased to provide for us, even when we forget to say "thanks."
He welcomes us back even when we've been away for a very long time.
~ Too long we neglect the Word and prayer, and yet when we remember God, He is there, willing to spend time with us.
He doesn't complain about how much trouble we are.
~ He never makes us feel that we aren't worth the trouble.

A Dog's Prayer for His Owner

O, Lord of humans, make my master faithful to his fellow men as I am to him. Grant that he may be as devoted to his friends and family as I am to him.

May he be open faced and undeceptive as I am; may he be true to trust reposed in him as I am to his.

Give him a face cheerful like unto my wagging tail. Give him a spirit of gratitude like unto my flicking tongue.

Fill him with patience like unto mine that awaits his footsteps uncomplainingly for hours. Fill him with my watchfulness, my courage, and my readiness to sacrifice comfort or life itself.

Keep him always young in heart and endowed with the spirit of play, as I am.

Make him as good a man as I am a dog.
And make him worth of me, his dog.

-- Anonymous

If dogs were like people they might eventually give up on us .. but they never do. Do you suppose, just perhaps, that God made dogs to show us a little something about Himself?

Maybe, "man's best friend" is really pointing us to the One who is truly our very Best Friend.

Monday, October 12, 2009

So what’s new?
.....Glad you asked!

While I’ve always supposed I’d get to meet fellow bloggers someday, never expected they’d hail all the way from Missouri!
Must confess, when learning of Rita and Frank’s “Last Hurrah” cross-country adventure, I had a notion to stick out my foot and trip ‘em, long enough to say “hi.” But no, they actually wandered my way on purpose …. wow! Can you say, de-LIGHT-full?… Don’t know when I’ve ever met folks who SO personify “the joy of living.” (Just a hunch, but I’d bet good money, these two could make a good time out of an IRS audit!) They certainly made my day … and, if you’ve not yet met Cash Jocky and The Old Salt, run… don’t walk, on over (!

Crazy then, after such an emotional “high” that things could turn Ugly, so soon. I’ve a rule not to talk about work in public, but suffice to say, we’re not immune to the economy. As such, more changes are coming -- to include my own hours. Uncomfortable, scary … you bet-cha. Like that old saw goes, “When Life Gives you Lemons….”
While I’d prefer lobbing ‘em right back at Life, I’ll adjust. In fact, this might be a grand time to begin that work-out program I’ve been promising myself for the last two years!

Talk about scary! DH’s “innards” have been staging a revolt of sorts for the last week; Saturday night they mandated a run to the ER. In times of stress, I’ve been known to take a mental “vacation.” Being I couldn’t “do” anything useful, I preoccupied myself eavesdropping on our neighbors in triage … sad stories, even comical – how DO staffers keep it together?!
.....Belatedly wondering why we hadn’t availed ourselves of the complimentary face masks kept in the lobby. (Nothing says “paranoia” like being a naked-faced minority in flu season!)
Thank God, the labs and CAT-scan came back negative. Still, my SIL cautioned DH, “You’d better be nice to Myra; she might still turn you in under the Lemon Law!”

So OK, after a period of snit-turned-prayer, I’m thinking I’ve got my moxie back … ready to rumble. (Whatever the heck a granny-rumble looks like!)
Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Still, Small Voice

My cousin("in-law", actually) is Senior Pastor of a lovely congregation in Wauwatosa, WI. Here is an excerpt from their monthly newsletter that touched my heart and made me smile:

A week ago my friend, Maurleen, called with sad news: Her cat, Walter had disappeared. She feared he had jumped off the balcony of her second floor apartment while she was filling the bird feeders. Walter had disappeared before. This time, however, he was not to be found. Friends and neighbors walked and drove around the neighborhood searching; pictures were posted. They surrounded her with care and concern.

Maureen commented that Walter's loss was "just one more hurdle." Her husband had died some months before. So Walter had been company and comfort to her.

This afternoon I received another call from Maurleen: Walter had been found ... in the drawer of her old oak filing cabinet! While sitting in her bedroom, weeping, she heard the slightest sound. She opened a drawer and there was Walter! He seemed OK for a cat that had been without water or food for a week. A checkup with the vet the next morning confirmed that Walter was, indeed, OK.

After we ended our conversation my first thought was "what was lost, now is found" and of the Biblical stories of the widow who searched for her lost coin or the shepherd searching for the lost sheep.

And then I thought of how remarkable it was that when Maurleen was so sad, so lonely, a small voice called to her and she heard. Maybe she paused in looking long enough to listen.

In their book, Spiritual Literacy, Frederick and Mary Ann Brussart write about the importance of listening. "We begin our lives listening to the many sounds surrounding us in the womb. When we are dying, the last faculty to shut down is usually hearing. In between, there is so much to see that we seldom take time to cultivate the art of listening."

My four-year-old granddaughter, Gracie, is a chatterbox and I think she realizes that we sometimes "tune her out." So, when she wants my serious attention she says, "Grammie, can I tell you something?" And I listen.

It is as if God is saying, "Can I tell you something? I love you so much I am sending my son to tell you even more. Are you listening?"

Friday, October 2, 2009

Over the Top ... Really?!

Color me, tickled pink to learn that Mary (over at Pile of Smiles) thought to honor me!
Then again, how can you not love the gal behind the title ... makes me smile, just saying, "Pile-of-Smiles" -- real fast, out loud!

Yes, I'm happy to participate. Here are the rules:

1. You can use only one word (I know ... darn it!!!)
2. Pass this along to 6 other bloggers
3. Alert them that you have given them this award
4. Most importantly ....Have fun!

Here goes! ...

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
2. Your hair? #5RB
3. Your mother? Angel
4. Your father? Heaven
5. Your favorite food? Hamburger
6. Your dream last night? Office
7. Your favorite drink? Coffee
8. Your dream/goal? Serenity
9. What room are you in? Bedroom
10. Your hobby? Blogging
11. Your fear? Health
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? RV-ing
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something that you aren't? Coordinated!
15. Muffins? Cinnamon
16. Wish list item? Laptop
17. Where did you grow up? LosAlamos (ha! - 1 word)
18. Last thing you did? Napped
19. What are you wearing? Sweats
20. Your TV? Tempermental
21. Your pets? Dog
22. Friends? Priceless!
23. Your life? Stressful
24. Your mood? Optimistic
25. Missing someone? Mom
26. Vehicle? Camry
27. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
28. Your favorite store? Hallmark
29. Your favorite color? Yellow
30. When was the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Yesterday
32. Your best friend? Debbie
33. One place that I go to over and over? Bathroom
34. One person who emails me regularly? Joan
35. Favorite place to eat? Mimi's

And now, I'm to pass this award to 6 other bloggers and look forward to their answers:

1. Monica @ Changes in the Wind
2. Rita (and Frank!) at Cash Jocky & "The Old Salt"
3. JeanMac at Welcome to our World
4. Ashley at I'm Just too Too Jazzed to Sleep
5. Sharon at Sharon's Stuff
6. Karen at Nittany Inspirations

Do treat yourself and drop in on these gals to say "hey."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Another Day at the Office

Yowsers ... but smoke does get in your eyes!
Time for our annual fire training today. 'Suspect I got the "trick candles" ... darn if those flames went out, then bounced right back again.

This is a handy reminder -- leaving me thankful for what I'm paid to do .....and indescribably grateful for those "real" firefighters who risk their all, everyday!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Road Rage

So, yesterday afternoon we’re winding down the road (literally!) from Sedona …I’m thankful Hubby’s taken the wheel. Unlike me, he has no qualms navigating the mountain grades, traveling in the “big boy” lane at 80 mph. Riding shotgun, I was practically lulled into oblivion as a result of a gluttonous lunch in Jerome (think, the Hamburger that ate Cleveland!).

Then, a horn. (A.Big.Horn.) Glancing to my right, I’m treated to a jerking, protruding finger…. a face contorted by rage, clearly enunciating obscenities our direction. Nope, it’s no testosterone-laden youth in a muscle car; rather a elderly “gentleman” wearing a ridiculous “Gilligan’s” hat…. staying abreast, then maneuvering his circa-80’s Cadillac as if to intimidate, before barreling on ahead, in and out of traffic. ‘Twas a matter of seconds, probably. I could only gape stupidly. By the time, DH figured out what had happened, my outrage had surfaced; decidedly UNChristian-like notions bubbled to the surface.

Sure enough. Nearing the city limits, traffic backed to a standstill and I spotted our “friend”, similarly stalled. What to do? Smile, blow an air kiss? Reason prevailed. As we passed, I forced my gaze straight ahead. Still, I’d sure like to know... had he felt better, more empowered for his hystrionics?


Friday, September 25, 2009

Word of Mouth ... World of Mouth

Those of you “young-uns” may already know these facts. For the rest of us “baby boomers” I found them very interesting ... and slightly intimidating!

Is Social Media a fad?
… or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?

By 2010 Generation Y will have out-numbered baby boomers.
…..96% of them have joined a social network.

Years to reach 50 million users:
· Radio … 38 years
· TV – 13 years
· Internet – 4 years
· i-Pod – 3 years

i-Pod application downloads hit 1 billion in only 9 months!

FaceBook added 100 million users in less than 9 months.
· If FaceBook were a country, it would be the world’s 4th largest.
· The fastest growing segment on FaceBook is 55-65 year-old females.
· More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog spots, notes, photos, etc. are shared on FaceBook daily!

Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire population of Ireland, Norway and Panama. 80% of Twitter usage is on mobile devices; people update anywhere, anytime.
…………..Imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?!

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.

Wikipedia has over 13 million articles. Studies show it is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica! If you were paid $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $156.23 .....per hour!

There are over 200,000,000 blogs. 54% of bloggers post content or Tweet daily.

78% of consumers trust peer recommendations. Only 14% trust advertisements.

Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé.
70% of 18-34 year-olds have watched TV on the web ..
Only 33% have ever viewed a show on DVR/TiVo.
25% of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video on their phone.

35% of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle.
24 of the 25 largest newspaper are experiencing record declines in circulation.

We no longer search for the news….. the news finds us.
In the near future, we’ll no longer search for products and services….. they will find us via Social Media.

Social Media isn’t a fad; it has become a fundamental shift in the way we communicate!

Like that old line from the TV show (Hill Street Blues was it?) .....
.... Be careful out there!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Say whaaaat?

89% of people say rudeness is a serious problem.

79% say it’s gotten worse in the past 10 years.

99% of people say they aren’t rude.

Source: US News & World Report
Exerpt from J. Littman’s “I Hate People!”

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Touched by an Angel

I love the idea of angels! Yet, I used to resist the concept of angels just a little bit -- wanting to make sure I wasn’t worshipping something separate from God….rather, a clear expression of God. I love the image that angels are a protecting presence enfolding us, and the fact that when I think about angels my thoughts sort of lift up.

Now some people say. “Aren’t angels just good people who have died?” I don’t know! I think perhaps, they are divine ideas put in human form. It’s not too unusual that we would behold the presence of angels this way. We tend to see what we understand, and I think it is sort of natural for us to put good ideas with skin on them …so that we can feel a kind of connection, even humanness to it. It seems more benevolent, somehow to imagine God’s grace in flowing robes and lovely smiles, than to think of it just as a blinding light --though that, too, can be interpreted as an angel by some people.

In the Bible stories, angels keep cropping up, bringing messages that upset people and challenge people and change people and comfort people – sometimes all at once! But the one message they always share is, “Don’t be afraid.” Then, when we read the description, Heavenly hosts -- we’re given to understand this isn’t just a bunch of guys in white robes with harps. This was a massive display of soldiers in full and shining gear with armor and weapons ….all that would be required to fight some divine battle! Remember when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane? He said, my Father can summon 12 legions of angels. Now, if He was going to summon legions of angels they must be pretty tough. They weren’t exactly the lovely diaphanous creatures that we like to think of. Instead, they are a little like say, the great NFL linebacker, Lawrence Taylor. If you want an angel to go before you, don’t you want somebody like that?!

I think it’s sad, in this post-modern culture where we’re so attuned to getting all the facts, that some people just dismiss what they can’t see, or touch or hear. Maybe children see angels better than we do, because they expect them. In the middle of play they might suddenly look off, just to the side where there was seemingly nothing… and smile. Did you ever see a baby do that? Of course, there’s that old saying, "They’re smiling at angels." I’m not so sure it’s just a saying.

Do you see the angels? They re all around us!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

I'd honestly forgotten the (dubious) significance of September 16 this morning. Walking in my office building shortly after 6, I held the door for a departing guest .....and was amused to see our Night Auditor grinning in my direction, holding up 7 fingers. What? In the time-honored tradition of some youth, I guessed she was giving me a signal he'd rated a "7" on her personal "hunkster" scale? (Yes, I turned around to take a second look!)

No, she was congratulating me on 7 years employment. Whoa, that's rather nice!

'Permitted myself a brief flash-back to that day ....when no-one knew exactly what to "do" with me. (I'd arrived 'midst budgets and my poor GM honestly didn't have a spare hour show me the ropes; hence, I spent the first four weeks assisting in H.R.)

Anyway, I wanted to show ya'all what our Front Desk crew had waiting for me on my desk.... a handmade tissue-paper and gold-foil greeting, signed all along the margins. In all honesty, that means the moon and stars!
Check the little magnet that reads, "Instant Human: Just add Coffee"! Do they know me or whaaat?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Life Is a Theater

Again, I'm borrowing from a collection of old favorites. I don't know who wrote this, but sure wish I'd taken his/her words to heart a long time ago!

Invite Your Audience Carefully!

Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.
There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a DISTANCE.

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you let go of, or at least minimize your time with, draining, negative, incompatible, not-going-anywhere relationships/friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?

When you leave certain people do you feel better or feel worse? Which ones always have drama or don't really understand, know or appreciate you?

The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you...the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of Your Life.

"If you cannot change the people around you,
CHANGE the people you are around."

Remember that the people we hang with will have an impact on both our lives and our income.
And so we must be careful to choose the people we hang out with, as well as the information with which we feed our minds. We should not share our dreams with negative people, nor feed our dreams with negative thoughts.

It's your choice and your life..... It's up to you who and what you let in it......

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I want to wish a Happy Grandparents Day to all ~ whether you are a biological grandparent, or who simply stand as a loving, guiding example for our youth.
….. To my own “grands” and great-grands ~ no longer on this earthly plane, but whose presence lingers ~ particularly on those lazy afternoons when I heed the “itch” to go trolling through the family cedar chest….

Beatitudes of a Family Genealogist

Blessed are the great-grandfathers who saved embarkation and citizenship papers for these tell WHEN they came …

Blessed are the great-grandmothers who hoarded newspaper clippings and old letters for they tell the STORY of time

Blessed are the grandfathers who filed every legal document for these provided PROOF

Blessed are the grandmothers who preserved family Bibles and diaries for these are our HERITAGE …

Blessed are the fathers who elect officials who answer letters of inquiry … for some, the only LINK to the past ..

Blessed are the mothers who related family TRADITIONS and LEGENDS to the family … for one of her children will surely remember ..

Blessed are relatives who fill in family sheets with extra details for to them, we owe FAMILY HISTORY ..

Blessed is any family whose members strive for the PRESERVATION OF RECORDS, for this is a labor of love.

-- Wilma Mauk

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where were you when the world stopped turning?

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Do you like grits?

Yes, I've heard tell it's an "acquired taste." Nonetheless, I've been a fan for years; and have finally wooed DH into eating 'em ~ on purpose ~ of course, with promises of real butter and brown sugar.

I received this "tutorial" a while back ~ It just cracked me up, and wanted to share:

What are Grits?

Nobody really knows. Some folks believe grits are grown on bushes and are harvested by midgets by shaking the bushes after spreading sheets around them.

Many people feel that grits are made from ground up bits of white corn. These are obviously lies spread by communists and terrorists. Nothing as good as Grits can be made from corn.

The most recent research suggests that the mysterious manna that God rained down upon the Israelites during their time in the Sinai Desert was most likely Grits. Critics disagree, stating that there is no record of biscuits, butter, salt, and red eye gravy raining down from the sky, and that God would not punish his people by forcing them to eat Grits without these key ingredients.

Grits are formed deep underground under intense heat and pressure. It takes over 1,000 years to form a single Grit. Most of the world's grit mines are in South Carolina , and are guarded day and night by armed guards and pit bull dogs. Harvesting the Grit is a dangerous occupation, and many Grit miners lose their lives each year so that Grits can continue to be served morning after morning for breakfast (not that having Grits for lunch and dinner is out of the question).

Yankees have attempted to create synthetic Grits. They call it Cream of Wheat. As far as we can tell, the key ingredients of Cream of Wheat are Elmer's Glue and shredded styrofoam. These synthetic grits have also been shown to cause nausea.

As we mentioned earlier, the first known mention of Grits was by the Ancient Israelites in the Sinai Desert . After that, Grits were not heard from for another 1000 years. Experts feel that Grits were used during this time only during secret religious ceremonies, and were kept from the public due to their rarity. The next mention of Grits was found amidst the ruins of the ancient city of Pompeii in a woman's personal diary. The woman's name was Herculaneum Jemimaneus (Aunt Jemima to her friends.)

The 10 Commandments of Grits

I. Thou shalt not put syrup on thy Grits.
II. Thou shalt not eat thy Grits with a spoon or knife.
III. Thou shalt not eat Cream of Wheat and call it Grits, for this is blasphemy.
IV. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Grits.
V. Thou shalt use only salt, butter, and red-eye gravy as toppings for thy Grits.
VI Thou shalt not eat Instant Grits.
VII. Thou shalt not put ketchup on thy Grits.
VIII. Thou shalt not put margarine on thy Grits.
IX. Thou shalt not eat toast with thy Grits, only biscuits made from scratch.
X. Thou shalt eat grits on the Sabbath for this is manna from heaven.

How to Cook Grits

For one serving of Grits? Boil 1.5 cups of water with salt and a little butter. [Use milk and they are creamier!) Add 5 TBsp of Grits. Reduce to a simmer and allow the Grits to soak up all the water. When a pencil stuck into the grits stands alone, it is done. That's all there is to cooking grits.

How to make red eye gravy.
Fry salt cured country ham in cast iron pan. Remove the ham when done and add coffee to the gravy and simmer for several minutes. Great on grits and biscuits. How to Eat Grits Immediately after removing your grits from the stove top, add a generous portion of butter or red eye gravy. (WARNING: Do NOT use low-fat butter.) The butter should cause the Grits to turn a wondrous shade of yellow. (Hold a banana or a yellow rain slicker next to your Grits; if the colors match, you have the correct amount of butter.) In lieu of butter, pour a generous helping of red eye gravy on your grits. Be sure to pour enough to have some left for sopping up with your biscuits.

Never, ever substitute canned or store bought biscuits for the real thing because they cause cancer, rotten teeth ---- Next, add salt. (NOTICE: The correct ration of Grit to Salt is 10:1 Therefore for every 10 grits, you should have 1 grain of salt.)

Now begin eating your grits. Always use a fork, never a spoon, to eat Grits. Your grits should be thick enough so they do not run through the tines of the fork.

The correct beverage to serve with Grits is black coffee. DO NOT use cream or, heaven forbid, Skim Milk.) Your grits should never be eaten in a bowl because Yankees will think its Cream of Wheat.

Ways to Eat Leftover Grits (Leftover grits are extremely rare.)
Spread them in the bottom of a casserole dish, Cover and place them in the refrigerator overnight. The Grits will congeal into a gelatinous mass. Next morning, slice the Grits into squares and fry them in 1/2" of cooking oil and butter until they turn a golden brown.

Many people are tempted to pour syrup onto Grits served this way. This is, of course, unacceptable. (Note: Slices can also be dipped into beaten egg and fried.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

In a matter of days, our Nation marks an ugly anniversary – one that has forever changed our lives. Too, I think most folks were freshly outraged upon hearing the news that Scotland released the Lockerbie bomber on “compassionate grounds.”

The Lord’s Prayer asks Him to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” Whew! How can we possibly forgive those perpetrators for their heinous acts?

Well, one essayist has dared to address this difficult dilemma in an on-line issue of St. Anthony Messenger Magazine. In part, he has written .....

Our first reaction to the question of forgiveness is probably refusal. Forgiving them would seem to be disloyal to those who died on that day; it might say that their deaths were not important, or that we need not remember their suffering and violent demise. But on the other hand, we know that forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian message. So what are we to do?

First of all, it is God who forgives sin and wrongdoing. Only God has sufficient perspective to grasp the extent of damage that sin and wrongdoing create in our lives and in the lives of those against whom we sin.

Forgiveness is something that comes from God – it is a gift of God to us. If we listen closely to Jesus’ words, we will discover that, in Luke’s gospel, Jesus’ first words on the cross are about forgiveness. “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.” We often read this as Jesus forgiving his executioners. But in actual fact, Jesus is calling on God, his Father, to forgive them. Jesus is still in the midst of his suffering. He cannot forgive his executioners for something they have not yet completed. But he can call on his Father to forgive.

This act of Jesus can be a great source of comfort to us when we struggle to forgive but cannot. We can call upon God, who sees all things, to forgive. And that is a prayer that we, too, someday may be able to forgive. The advice to “forgive and forget” means that we should not hold on to resentment after we have forgiven someone. Do we have to forget when we forgive?

Actually, we neither have to, nor should. That injunction is nowhere in the Bible. Our repulsion at forgetting is a correct human reaction. Forgetting would diminish our humanity and trivialize the suffering of those days.

The issue is not forgetting, but rather, how we remember. Put another way. When we forgive, we do not forget – we remember in a different way. Forgiveness means that the wrongful deed of the past no longer controls our lives. By remembering in a different way, we do not forget what happened, but it is no longer allowed to poison the present and the future.

But even to achieve that, we will need God’s help.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Random Thoughts

I received these observations via e-mail the other day... and can't take credit. But, I sure identify with most of 'em!

* Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you’re going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But, instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch, or phone, or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you’re crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

* How many times is it appropriate to say, “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear what they said?

* Every time I have to spell a word over the phone “as in” examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss’ last name to an attorney and said, “Yes, that’s G as in … (10 second lapse) … ummm … Goonies.”

* MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

* Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like, I know my name, I know where I’m from, this shouldn’t be a problem …

* I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my 10 page report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

* I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

* Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey. But I’d bet-cha everyone can find and push the “Snooze” button from 3 feet away , in about 1.6 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time.

* I wonder if policemen every get annoyed at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

* I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent one inconsiderate driver from cutting in at the front. Stay strong!!!

and finally …

* I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Remember Whensday

RMS Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary

Sally at The (Mis)Adventures of Karl and Sally has begun a meme where old family photos and stories take center stage one more time. Won’t you join us? Just click, and allow yourself to go back, back ……

Being a “meme newbie” I must confess that clear-cut memories of my family’s first real vacation are haphazard … like witnessing random snapshots shown at lightning speed on some giant screen. I’ve chosen these 1957 excursions not just for the warm fuzzies that still linger ~ but because I credit those sailings as the germ which grew into a life-long infatuation with cruising.

By all accounts, I was a happy ~ tho’ reckless ~ 7 year old. Oblivious to potential hazards, I loved exploring the ships' nooks and crannies. In those days parents weren't inclined to worry; they'd reason, "We're on a ship; how far could she possibly go?" (An age of innocence, yes!)

A couple of virtual snapshots remain focused:

We 3 Willers lined up, awaiting Sunday morning religious services. I'd slipped aside, beneath a purple velvet-like barrier to join what I can only guess seemed a more interesting group of folks. Then, like a rocket, my mom’s arm shot out, grabbed mine: “No!, You mustn’t go there … that’s First Class.”

Our return voyage aboard the Queen Mary, took an unfortunate route across the North Atlantic’s stormy seas. This, before stabilizers became commonplace. More than half the passengers – mother included – took to their berths. Public areas and dining rooms were virtually deserted. An ex-Navy seaman, my dad seemed immune. I didn’t know any better. Together, we’d brave the elements out on deck, careful to use the thick ropes strung up by crewmen to ensure no one was injured. Ah, how the Queen rose high, higher … then plummeted carelessly, crookedly down again. Up and down, side to side! I was thrilled -- and to this day, I enjoy being on a ship in crazy weather.

There being more than few children aboard both the QE and QM, the staff would host little tea parties and such to keep us entertained. That's me on the far right, no doubt challenging the kid to (my) right, "What are you laughing at?" Mom was so proud of my "french" braids ... now, I'm thinking they look painful!

Here I’m wearing a concoction my dad assembled – in full pout, totally humiliated because “people are looking at me; they’re laughing.” (How I feared being looked at too closely!) It’s rumored, a full meltdown ensued. Poor daddy!

A couple of years ago DH and I were near Long Beach and thought it fun to go visit the old Queen Mary. Wow, it had been 50 years! I was eager but anxious all the same. Would I remember? Now, the tour is very interesting if one remembers its history of service in WWII, or is a naval enthusiast. (I am neither.) So, while DH thoroughly enjoyed that side of things, I kept my subconscious on high alert, waiting for the light bulbs in my brain to fire.

Unfortunately, there were but a couple of nuances... like a dream, here one instant, gone the next. Disappointed! I’d tried so hard … but don’t suppose that sort of thing can be forced.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Good morning, S/S friends!

Here I go again, borrowing from my daily meditations "sidekick." This one struck a chord for me; perhaps it will for someone else? It’s my “today” wish that each of you experience brand-new reasons to smile and give thanks.

The difficult spells in our lives come to an end. And no matter the depth of our disturbance, we will survive.

We forget that the depths teach us how to better appreciate the heights.
Sorrow heights joy. Depression heightens laughter.

We wouldn’t know the joys and laughter, were it not for the sorrows.

In them we learn to be patient, waiting for the wisdom, which will light our way. In them we learn to listen for the Guidance that beckons us forth.

We must reflect on the troubling experiences we’ve passed through of late.
They made us wiser, they gave us strength.

They changed us, moving us ever closer to the men and women, whole and happy, we desire to be.
Difficulties often precede enlightenment.

They pull us inward; perhaps push us to search for our connectedness to God, and connectedness that is at home in our hearts.

The paradox is, that these painful periods strengthen our oneness with Spirit.

If the day looks bleak, I will accept it as a hand reaching toward me, to pull me forward, to secure my place in the Spiritual family.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Crazy Little Thing

I’m not especially eager to talk about our own medical bumps-in-the-road .... to give an “organ" recital, so to speak. Still, I wanted to take a chance that someone might see this and think, “What if?”

Bit-o background: Shortly after DH and I wed in '04, we made appointments for routine physicals. At that time, quite by accident and sans any symptoms, they discovered hubby had bladder cancer. Fast-forward and thank God, his last two (annual) scans have come back clean!

But, a while back he began occasionally experiencing double vision. Then in March of this year, abnormal heart rhythms mandated his having to wear a monitor. Next came the tremors and referral to a neurologist.

The specialists were cordial enough; they appeared passionate -- but given the results, or lack thereof, they were clueless. Meanwhile, DH has dropped 30+ lbs. despite eating calorie-laden goodies round the clock. Worrisome, yeah!

Finally, our PCP asked to do another series of blood tests, and discovered DH was suffering from nothing more significant than Graves disease, or over-active thyroid! Every one of his symptoms, including increased irritability (that I’d chalked up to stress) is a symptom of thyroid disease.

So, last week’s confirmation by another “ologist” was/is an enormous relief. They’ll control (not correct) with medication. Better living through chemistry!

What’s odd, and why I felt compelled to post … I always thought thyroid disease was a “ladies-only” malady. My SIL’s doctor says it’s so common among women, that he expects to see Synthroid put in the water system some day. Yet, it remains one of the most often UNdiagnosed bug-a-boo’s around!

I like to think that these experiences have made us more empathetic to those suffering from far more serious issues. Color us … grateful.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Foreign-Exchange Student

There's a new kid in town!
Meet Tuffy, a gangly, four-legged goofball (aka, Wheaton Terrier), down from the mountain in Paradise Valley.

I really think DH believed it a “win-win” situation for everyone when he offered to puppy-sit last month. His recently widowed mistress (the dog’s, that is!) is a long-time customer/friend who desperately needed to get away for a few weeks. By the same token, we’ve missed crazy Brewster’s presence; and presumed Caraleigh would be ecstatic at the idea of having a playmate.
….Not! Let’s just say, she was under-whelmed.

At first sniff, Tuffy made a cursory inspection of his new premises, retreated to a corner in the bedroom ….and stayed. Obviously homesick, he seemed totally uninterested in public relations; in taking nourishment. His own doggie gruel was summarily rejected, as if it contained cyanide! Finally, I felt compelled to sit cross-legged before him, my palm filled with doggie meal, coated with cottage cheese.

Without being terribly graphic, Tuffy’s done almost everything a canine’s NOT supposed to do while indoors -- including beheading several of Caraleigh’s stuffed babies. Before placing a distress call to The Dog Whisperer, we stepped up our efforts to comfort and cajole. Hubby and I each thinking but leery to admit, this may have been a Mistake. How many days are there in August again?

I’m tickled to report that little by little, Tuffy has come out of his shell. He’s become a happy, bouncy … and yes, hungry 2-year-old, with a penchant for pizza crust and steak.

His “mama” is due to return from Europe next week. In turn, our days and nights will be calmer; certainly cleaner! Still, I feel a bit like Henry Higgins lamenting, “I've grown accustomed to her face! (S)he almost makes the day begin!”

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Please, Open your Present

I received the following piece early this morning from a dear, long-ago friend. Don't know its origin; or, if I'm the only one who's not seen it before. Still, I hope you'll agree that like a favorite song, this message bears repeating.

Nothing happens by accident.

If, one day when you wake up and find on your bed a beautifully wrapped present with delicate bows, you would open it -- even before washing your face -- curious about what is inside.

Maybe what you find inside is something you do not like very much. Then you put the box away, wondering what to do with the present.

But, if the next day you find another present you would open it also. This time you may find something inside that you like very much – a memory from someone who is far away … beautiful clothing ... the keys to a new car ..
or just a beautiful flower from somebody who remembered you.

This happens every day, but we do not realize it. Every day when we wake up there is before us a present send to us by God ..
a whole new day to use in the best possible way.

Sometimes it comes with problems, issues that we do not seem to be able to solve; Sometimes it comes with sadness, deception, even tears.
But other times it comes full of surprises, happiness, success and achievements.

What is important is that every day we receive a present, wrapped especially for us while we slept … the next day. We are presented this box with colored bows, no matter what the day brings.

Every new morning is a PRESENT.
It is not always what we wish or hope for, but is the best for us, what we need most, what we have to learn, what we need to grow.

Open your present every day, giving thanks first to the Creator who gave it to you, without thinking what is inside the box. If today you did not receive the present you wanted, wait for the next one… and appreciate what you received today.

May you have a day full of blessings in which you feel the loving presence of your Creator, and may the present of every day bring you peace, spiritual growth and enlightenment.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spiritual Sundays

God has given us so many gifts! Because He loves us, he wants us to “be all that you can be.” (Yes, just like that old Army jingle!)

Borrowing a line from Kris Kristofferson’s ballad, “Why me, Lord”, there’s been many a time I’ve whispered, “Lord help me Jesus … I've wasted it.”

Perhaps that’s why God created so many spiritual messengers in our midst … ministers, counselors, coaches, teachers and even our friends who gently (and sometimes not so gently!) motivate us, encourage us -- to be all that we can be. I think Anthony Robbins is one of those messengers. While I’ve had the opportunity to attend one of his seminars, purchased the tapes, read the books, I never followed through …. I wasted it.

So! I’ve taped the following piece to the inside of my medicine cabinet ~ to reflect upon first thing each morning, in concert with prayer. It sure beats the CNN News!

Robbins states, “Our life experience is based on what we focus on. Remember, quality questions create a quality life!"

What am I happy about in my life right now?
What am I excited about in my life right now?
What am I proud about in my life right now?
What am I grateful for in my life right now?
What am I enjoying most about in my life right now?
What am I committed to in my life right now?
Who do I love? Who loves me?

Have a safe and happy new week everyone!

Friday, August 14, 2009

OK, show of hands! How many of you know what I’m talking about when I say, “We woke yesterday morning to a real 'toad-frog strangler'!”

While Floridian’s often refer to rain as “liquid sunshine”, some old-timers in West Texas use that phrase to describe a sudden, steady downpour.

One of Arizona’s biggest charms ~ at least for me ~ is its relative lack of rainfall. I mean, it just gets in the way, sometimes flooding the river-bottom, forcing one (or more) detours on my way to work. (Even in bone-dry conditions, I'll avoid I-10 like the plague!)

Due to the weather conditions, at first I had trouble seeing clearly. Accordingly, I adjusted my speed and moved to the right, allowing 3-4 NASCAR wannabe’s a wide berth. They’re racing in the rain! Maybe I’m not such a crotchety old broad … but rather, a bit envious? It’s an art, after all.

(You know where this is going, don’t you?!)

I recently finished reading Garth’s Stein’s delightful book, “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” What can I say but, “Step aside, Marley. There’s a new dog in town!”

Had it not been recommended by someone I really admire, it’s doubtful I’d have given this book a second glance. While I’m crazy for canines, auto-racing isn’t exactly my cup of tea.

Understandably, one reviewer penned: “Don't be scared away from this book by the title. The ‘racing in the rain’ is a metaphor for life. Enzo, the narrator, is a dog who wants nothing more than to be a man. His master races cars for a living and Enzo refers to everything in his life by way of racing metaphors.... but this book is so much more.”

In the space of a day, I laughed, I cheered and of course, I sobbed like a little girl. (Maybe it’s best not to read this book in public?)

Some readers have observed, “Viewing the world through a dog’s eyes makes for a greater appreciation of being human.” I don’t know about that, but have to agree with the man who wrote, “I’ve caught myself staring at my own dog, thinking, Hmmm…..”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where the Grass is Greener Still

Do you enjoy living where you do?
In a recent survey detailed by Charles Osgood, almost half of us are living some place that we’d rather not! I think that's rather sad. Osgood states, “We’re a pretty restless bunch, we Americans. Regardless of where we are living, between 40-50% of us think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.”

Obviously, the ideal place to live differs with different people … different ages … different genders.

Twenty-some odd years ago I was feeling restless; thoroughly prepared (so I thought) to relocate to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even went so far as to meet with a real-estate agent and tour a few properties in St. Thomas during our ship’s lay-over. Now THAT was a reality-check. Happy not to have sold the farm!

Today, much older (not to be confused with wiser), I’ve been guilty of only occasionally falling into a “What might be?” reverie. 99.9% of the time I'm tickled pink to be where I'm at.

Several weeks ago, DH and I elected to use the gift certificate his son had given us, for a ride aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad, some 100 miles north in Clarkdale. (Unfortunately, I’d misunderstood driving directions as, “Clarksville” and poor hubby was forced to endure my rendition of the Monkees’ “Take the Last Train” throughout the drive.) Anyway…..

Soon off the I-17, I was sitting up a little straighter, looking this way and that. Not halfway through Cottonwood, I was already smitten with its old-fashioned, old-west atmosphere.

Never mind the train! I was inclined to pull up a chair outside the Little Daisy Motel; to mosey down the street for a DQ Dilly Bar. I wanted to load a trailer with all our earthly belongings and move … to where the grass seems greener.

Of course, reason prevailed. The train was great fun. Still, we hope to return for a jaunt one of these days, and I’ll get to “mosey” to my heart’s content….or, at least ‘til Monday morning rolls back around.

I thought this line from one of Sue Kroupa’s songs was spot-on:

Have you ever really noticed, that no matter where you go, and despite the things you try to leave behind, that when you finally get there and you pause to analyze…., well the only thing worth changing is your mind!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

You Can Make It!

It’s so good to be here on Sundays! There are positive stories that are fabulous to share; we get to interact with people who are using principals in an atmosphere where we know that we are loved. It’s true, “Love is the answer, to the difficulty.”

So, were to grade this last week, I’d give it a C. (What a shame, eh?) Nothing wrong, but nothing really right.... bleah. Then, within 24 hours I received two e-mails from friends in different parts of the country, each whose own week was capital D-ifficult. One wrote, “I don’t know if I can make it.”

I think everyone has “those” Moments. Sometimes they come up at 4:00 on any given Tuesday when we least expect them, when we wonder, “Am I going to make it?” Not just make it through a health challenge .. and that is immense. Not just through a troubling incident in a relationship …and that is heartache. Not just through a financial challenge .. and that can feel desperate .. But make it as a spiritual being, and come through, into our own. That sense of being OK with God and OK with ourselves.

I don’t know how we get through the things we get through. When I look back at my own life experience there were times I got through things that right now I don’t know how I did it.

Mary Kay Ash, who founded a tremendous empire, said, “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.” It is a matter of personal decision, believing that. Don’t be discouraged if some people ~ even people who say they love you ~ say that you’re not going to make it, because they don’t know.

For some crazy reason, you begin to realize that you’re going to make it; you must make it. Maybe, the tension of getting through difficulties helped bring you to the point of realizing there’s got to be more. It is a decision point. It means that we have got to step out on faith when it may not look like we have anything to stand on.

I love the story of Peter, who steps out on the water, and for a few steps he’s going all right – then he looks down. He sees the storm and the waves and starts to sink. He cries out, “Help me, I’m sinking!”
Do you know what that’s like? I do.
We know that immediately, Jesus reached for his hand and pulled him up. Well, this is what I love. When I think I’m out of faith and out of ideas, out of time, out of possibilities and out of dreams that moment arrives when a hand reaches out for me. I hear, “You’re going to make it. In fact, you have made it. Let me guide you.”

How does it come to us? I don’t know. We have to remember that we’re not alone. I think that’s a big part of it.Like that senior spirit who says to the seaman climbing to crow’s nest for the very first time, “Don’t look down. You can make it.”
The whole Universe is pulling for us we when let it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Well, certain media investigators are at it again. A recent news story focused on a conference that took place at several hotels/resorts in Tucson. Filled with mis-information and sensationalistic verbiage, I suppose it was intended to incite outrage and boost viewership.

There is a “gotcha” mentality sweeping the media, and every time a company is ridiculed for holding a meeting or providing employee incentives, resorts nationwide see mass cancellations.

3 out of 4 meetings held up to national scrutiny were held at Phoenix-Scottsdale properties. As a result, planners charged with staging legitimate, privately-funded meetings are fearful to do so in Arizona.

Did you know, most conference attendees routinely pay their own travel expenses. No beverages were included in the food/beverage costs covered by the Federal Grant. In fact, the hotel in question honored the $89 federal per-diem ~ which the group would have paid almost anywhere regardless of the hotel’s star rating. Meeting space was provided for free.

One of Arizona’s largest revenue generators, Tourism contributes $2.6 billion in local, state and federal revenues each year. Meetings account for more than 70% of most resort revenues. When those revenues are jeopardized, all taxpayers suffer.

A recently-circulated government document advises agencies to avoid “locations or destinations that give the appearance of being lavish or resort destinations.” And while Phoenix didn’t make the initial blacklist of cities to avoid, meeting planners are confirming they’re hard-pressed to “sell” Phoenix up the chain of command since there is a perception that the Valley is a hotbed (no pun intended!) of negative media activity.

To help educate residents, several agencies are stepping up their efforts to stress the importance of tourism, and will continue to promote Arizona as a value-conscious destination.

OK, I'm climbing off my soapbox now. Won’t ya’all come see us now and then?!

(Source data: AZ Hotel & Lodging Assn.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Spiritual Sundays

This week I’d like to share a favorite page from my “dog-eared” copy of Daily Meditations for Women. Not clear why the publishers found it necessary to write “for Women”, since I regard most of its content as universal.

For years now, I’ve had occasion to read these words, but return again ~ and again for a “booster shot." Like the great Zig Ziglar once said, “People say motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.”

Intuition is a spiritual faculty and does not explain, but simply points the way.
- Florence Scovel Shinn

Should we make this move? Should we change jobs? Should we talk to others about our feelings? We are seldom short on prayers when we’re filled with fear and indecision. We are, however, short on answers. Our worries block them out.

No prayer ever goes unanswered. Of this we can be certain. On the other hand, the answer may not be what we hoped for. In fact, we may not recognize it as the answer because we are expecting something quite different. It takes a willingness on our part to be free of our preconceptions – free to accept whatever answers are offered.

Our answer come unexpectedly – a chance meeting on the street, a passage in a book or newspaper, a nagging feeling within. God speaks to each of us throughout the day.
Our prayers are answered, our problems find solutions, our worries are erased, if we but attune ourselves to the messages. They are all around.

I will be attentive to all the signs from God today. Whatever answer I seek is finding its way to me.