Goals and then some

“Enjoy the journey,” a New York Times reporter once told me.
(Photo provided by free Word Press Media Library.)

Having had a befuddled day yesterday, my inner self was determined not to have a repeat episode, so everything I needed for my day, I laid out ahead of time, as is usually my custom.

The next few days are going to be very busy for me. If I blog tomorrow, it will clearly be at lunchtime, as otherwise the day is packed with activity.

Do you enjoy life?

Like the little things, like washing and drying clothes, maybe cooking a little, perhaps joining friends or family at an event or for a meal?

Do you enjoy your work? Your side hustle, if you have one? Do you take a deep breath of life and say you know I am thankful for this moment?

I love what I do, and I love my life. Everyone has challenges, things still on the to do list, day to day tasks that must be done, as the dust will not carry itself out, nor the trashcan trot to the curb? (Although that would be a sight, wouldn’t it, lol?)

There is a metal wall hanging I have had for years inscribed with the saying “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

So what do you love?

Well, there are many things I love to do. They say if you really want to find your passion, look back at your childhood. What did you love?

My treasured possessions were my books and journals, paper supplies, stationary, scented apple erasers, a large tin of crayons (which smelled so wonderful), blank art journals, school supplies, my dolls, magazines, jewelry boxes, a recorder (since I had no flute), and as I got older, I loved all things girly .. makeup, perfume, nail polish, purses and shoes!

The loves? My bicycle. The outdoors. Mud puddles. Tall trees with low knobs to climb. Nearby lakes, rivers or oceans. My grandmother’s wooden rowboat. Baking cookies and making homemade bread of all kinds. Cooking. Sewing. Smelling the fabric store as all the fabric had this unique smell. I still love that.

So yesterday, if you remember, I talked about the teddy bear boss I met. What a sweet lady. She said she used to crochet, but as she got older, her hands hurt and she could not see nor keep up with where she left off. But she sure could still see to sew and manage a number of other teddy bear makers.

I feel like I am in this phase of life where I am looking both backward and forward. Where have I been and where am I going, and what things would I like to do that I have not done.

A piggy bank.

So I am not sure where the proverbial piggy bank idea started, nor how it was that a pig was selected to hold a bunch of coins for young folks saving money for a rainy day.

And I don’t have a piggy bank. Probably should.

Yet it is an illustration for me.

A bicycle. I want to save enough money to buy a reasonable (i.e. not competitive, just serviceable) bike. I am going to install a bike rack on the back of my car. And when I get time off here and there .. as often as possible, find places to ride. I am not sure if I want to lean over or ride the prissy upright bike, but in either case, it is something I want to do.) And a basket. I want a basket on the front. Maybe one on the back too. Will see if it is practical.

I have absolutely no aspirations to compete, ride in races or any of that. Just to feel the wind in my hair and enjoy the weather as it is, and maybe someday, if time permits, ride in a slow roll our town has from time to time. Depends on the distance.

Enjoy the journey.

As I write, it is late, and dark thirty comes early tomorrow. May your day be blessed.

The Right Rain

Someone once told me, “Someday, you are going to have a faith crisis. You will doubt God loves you, you will doubt that He wants good for you, you may even think He has forsaken you.”

I laughed it off, and said “You’re crazy. Just because it happened to you doesn’t mean it is going to happen to me.”

But it did.

After two years of having been exposed to thousands of people who had covid and did not know they had it, the dreaded virus came to our home.

As you know, I have lived with my best friend and her family (rent a room) for almost six years now.

We have six people in a large farmhouse.

When covid came to call, one by one we became symptomatic. I knew right away when I had it because the smell in my nose smelled like burning rubber tires. Two days later, I lost my smell and taste.

Every symptom on the list displayed its ugly head in my body. Probably the worst initial symptom was the fainting when I would stand up.

My daughter brought me a box of soup, two healing bath salts bags for my covid muscle pain, peanut butter crackers, Boost shakes and a large bouquet of flowers and a card. A drop and leave, she said. Same thing I did when she and her house had covid several months ago.

I didn’t get out of bed much in five days.

I had no strength and felt like I was dying.

It sounds gross, but for three days of that five, I did not take a bath nor brush my teeth. I was that out of it.

Mama called. Friends messaged.

One week later, I felt like I was getting better, and my smell returned such that I could smell breakfast.

(I had burned my toast one morning because I could not smell it, and that is when I realized that my smell is my number one sense.)

But the weekend before I was to return to work, a stomach virus component of this Delta variant ravaged my insides.

Hanging off the side of my bed, as my bestie checked on me, I started praying out loud.

“God, are you trying to kill me? Do You hate me that much? All I can pray right now is My God My God, why have You forsaken me? You would understand that prayer, because even Jesus prayed that,” I said as I wrote, being so tired of being sick.

My bestie grabbed my Bible and said you have not read your Bible in a month. “You need some fresh air,” she said. We went to the porch, (which I have now named “The Healing Porch,” because of how God touched me out there.)

Fighting nausea, as my smell returned and breakfast was cooking, I struggled to run out the door, afraid I would hurl before I made it outside.

It was almost like being pregnant again.

Three days later, I sat on a chair in a side “covid” hall, waiting to be seen in the ER. It was just me and a girl halfway down the hall, stretched out on three chairs she had threaded together. She couldn’t even sit up.

Dear Jesus, please don’t take me out yet. I want to see my children and grandchildren. I love them so.

One of our deputies was on a ventilator. (His memorial service was this week.)

God help us, Lord. Please, I prayed.

Later, I was told that covid is also a weeping virus. It messes with your emotions.

One IV bag of anti-nausea meds and two hours later, I was sent home on seven days of steroids.

“You are one of the lucky ones, though you may not feel like it now,” the doctor said.

I only had a little congestion, and would heal quickly with the steroids to blast the inflammation.

There are people in this life that God has gifted as lifesavers. My bestie is one of those people.

She read the Bible to me every day, and played Rick Warren’s series on how to pray.

After my prayer about God forsaking me, I thought God would surely strike me down. Instead, a silver thread of mercy came down from heaven, a strand of hope.

It took a few days, but I reconnected with God. And had numerous revelations about my life “pre-covid” versus “post covid.”

Thinking back to my life patterns, I realized I was a person who was often critical of people, things, and situations. Instead of glorifying God, I was all wrapped up in my own negative emotion.

The Saturday after I returned to work, I was off and spent the whole day in my garden. The Florida humidity is a great healer for respiratory and illness of all kinds. For about six hours, I talked to God, out loud, not in my head. I sang worship songs. I confessed sins (everyone has em). I watched the squirrels and talked to my “happy peppers.” First time in my life my peppers have done well.

That day was a turning point for me. I had a few conversations I needed to have with various people. Apologies or whatever was on my mind. God reminded me it was ok to do that.

Rick Warren says that at the beginning of your day, you should have worship time with God, where you just focus on your blessings and God’s goodness, and not your problems or the issues in the world at large. Then pray over your needs and prayer requests at lunch. He admits being “over” people sometimes by lunch. That’s a good time to ask God for help, he said. Then in your mid-afternoon bathroom break, confess your sins. “That’s what I call taking out the trash,” he said. And at night when he comes home, he says you know your blood sugar is low. You don’t want to bring your work day home, he says. So he has an antique milk jar on his front porch to remind him to drop his troubles at the door. He prays and says I will pick them up tomorrow morning when I go to work. So he spends his evening with his family, minus the work thoughts. And ends the day the same way he started it, by reading a scripture and going off to sleep thanking God for the day. “Good night, Lord,” he says.

I share this with you here because I feel like being real is a good thing. I know there are those that will say to me that “you would never have had that faith crisis if you would have spent more time with God.”

And I would say, you are right.

I felt like God spoke to my spirit that Saturday.

Like He was saying, “I gave you a voice for a reason. I want you to audibly talk to Me like you talk to your one million friends.”

I cried and danced, I restored my tangled garden, both literally and figuratively. I feel lighter than I have in years, like a boulder has been removed from my shoulders.

I am so grateful for God’s love. For His mercy. For living to survive covid. I have lost so many friends this year to this horrible virus.

If I can share anything to make someone else’s load lighter, or to infuse hope, I am going to do that.

Selah.

Thank You, Lord, that though I suffered, You restored, renewed and gave me a new birth.

P.S. Besides focusing on my blessings and following his prayer model, which has helped so much, I have also spent much less time on social media and reading news. Instant mood boost ☺️

The enthusiasm of success

Here I am, curled up with a cup of coffee, contemplating the Olympics and the stories of those who let nothing stand in the way of their dreams.

One look at their faces and you can sure see the training it took to get this far.

Several Olympians have made the statement “I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished.”

Tears have gushed, crowds have cheered, history is being made via virtual channels in probably the most unusual Olympics we have ever seen.

The proverbial “which came first” quiz .. were they enthusiastic before getting this far, or was this fueled by qualifying for the team, and in some cases, taking home the honorable medals?

Some had the dream as early as childhood.

Imagine.

All your friends doing their thing .. going to parties, sleeping in, taking trips.

Training took precedent over every other option of how to occupy your day.

How many “catch you later” and “we’ll do that someday” occasions .. how many early mornings, throwing on those running shoes to get to your gym or country road, or the town’s only high hill, how many late nights, just one more triple twist, one more .. one more.

How many people doubted they would make it?

How many times did they have to find the grace to not reply to naysayers.

“Don’t give up your day job.”

“You’ll never find a sponsor.”

“It’s just not possible.”

And life went on, with the pandemic, and family members that had challenges, life’s ups and downs, sprinkled with splinters of little irritations .. the equipment that didn’t arrive on time or the vehicle that broke down.

Some found time for personal lives. Others had less of that.

But at that moment, the shine of accomplishment illuminated the faces of those who would not under any circumstance, give up.

“I’m so glad I did not give up,” one Olympian told news reporters.

And you know what?

I am so glad they did not give up. That their smiles and determination are showing the rest of the world the meaning of true enthusiasm and passion for what they are called to do.

So where are you tonight? What are you contemplating? May tomorrow bring success to you as you likewise walk in the light of your calling.

I have a list of dreams ..

How to make a list of dreams

A yellow butterfly .. like really bright solid yellow .. chased me today while I was working a back to school backpack giveaway. I smiled and thought, aww, butterflies love me. It seems that everywhere I go, I come across their path.

Might be my perfume, duly noted that wasps and bees seem to chase me as well!

Not welcome.

Bees are cool if they just do their bee thing. That pollination makes the world go around, and we are grateful.

But the weirdest thing was that this yellow butterfly was some distance from any flowers or bushes, a distance from a usual resting place for a butterfly.

Not that butterflies rest much either.

Anyway.

Sometimes you can talk to a person about goals and dreams, and they say, “you know, I do not know where to start.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Establish whether you are going to have a bulletin board as your dream board, or do a dream book. Either is good because you can clip out a magazine photo of some cool place you would like to visit.

2. Think about persons, places and things. What makes your world go around? Spending time with lots of people, or just a few, or by yourself?

3. What would you like to do .. go to a ball game, visit a museum, have a beach day?

There are a number of group activities to be enjoyed.

Or perhaps you prefer an alone project. Something you do alone. Maybe go for dinner at your favorite restaurant, or shop for new parts for that car you are restoring.

4. What was the last place you visited that ignited your senses? Why not do that again? How did you feel afterwards? For me, a trip downtown to the coffee shop, the library and culling the local shops for something unique is a very relaxing afternoon. I feel inspired to write more after visiting a library.

5. Things. There are people who say it is wrong to be materialistic (and for sure it is good to enjoy the fruits of your labors), while others receive that as an expression of love. Things can be cool and also not having a lot of things can be cool as they are easier to maintain. What is your choice?

6. Maybe add your item or items to that dream board or dream book. Photos and prices, make a goal.

I have a couple of things I would like to have when the price is right.

Dream.

But you can also dream about your occupation. I feel so blessed to be where I am now, as a Crime Prevention Specialist. I also lived the dream of becoming a professional writer. But it all started when I was a customer service rep at a local hospital.

I had been there about three years and loved my job, but at the time had a dream of becoming a reporter and writer.

Having received one rejection after another for some of my poetry from publishing companies that closed, I now chuckle that I really did meet that goal, and not just a little.

As a customer service rep, I started getting serious about my writing and was working on a book, so when people asked what I did, I said I am a customer service rep and a writer.

“Are you published?” they would ask.

I smiled and said well not yet, but I am working steadily toward that.

7. What dreams do you need to speak into existence? Is there a career change you have in mind? Maybe you want to go back to school?

8. Put your book or board where your dreams are in front of you. This becomes your why. This is your motivating plan to get you to where you are going.

Well, I’d better go check on dinner. Chicken and rice and vegetables tonight. Looks like it is going to storm, and I don’t mind. The sound of a soft rain as I go to sleep would be glorious indeed.

Happy with the ordinary

Are you happy? I mean really really happy?

If not, why not, and what will it take for that to happen for you?

Tonight I feel like I should be expounding on some great bestseller I have read, or announcing fantastic plans for my next vacation, or presenting something worthy, ponderous, beautiful, creative, notable.

I have been happy for several days now. Not that I am unhappy on many days, just that some days I take more note of the fact I am happy.

I wonder what would happen if we substituted words for what we believe happiness is.

Time? Connection? Relief from pain? Unannounced excursion to a really cool place? Debt relief? Epiphany? Great food? A clean house?

And then I think about how most people have some commonalities when it comes to happiness, like everyone loves a good movie or book ending, or everyone loves a hero kind of thing.

Yet what is happiness to one does not matter as much to another.

Chocolate used to make me happy, a splendid thing indeed!

Does.

Does what?

Does happiness have to manifest itself as the extraordinary?

Cows. Cows make me smile.

Coffee cups likewise. And teapots. Nature. Pretty flowers. Friendships. Laughter.

I was in the store this weekend and heard two little girls in a shopping cart giggling.

It made me smile.

Today, had a great day all around. Worked hard and came home to a hot cup of coffee.

I think of my family, and how everyone in my family works hard. Dependable. Stick with it, kind of people.

I love that heritage.

The other cool thing is I never got the feeling that we would all be happy “someday.”

Joy in the moment. Lighten your heart, laugh a little, dwell on the positive.

I never really thought about how the ordinary days were meaningful and beautiful as a kid. Maybe we muse these things as we get older.

Meanwhile .. what are you doing to increase your happiness?

More on this in upcoming blogs. Explore new things indeed.

The frogs were singing this morning as it rained last night .. and I wonder if tomorrow will be the same. Their song is beautiful to me, raw and real.

Creative ponderings

I was very proud of myself for eating celery, hummus, and avocado all in one day, and was reflecting on that ceremoniously as I stood at the kitchen counter, putting together more of the same for supper.

A bump of my elbow sent a glass salt shaker and a large onion hurling toward my foot, and how it landed on my toes I do not know.

Screaming ow, ow, ow and also thankfully not cussing instead, I was fuzzed by Molly Moo below me, who looked concerned and replied with an ow, ow, owww.

I couldn’t help but laugh at her. Molly does not meow unless she has her mouse in her mouth. Ow, ow means she wants what I am making for dinner, meaaa meaaa is scratchy cat vocal for hey I acknowledge you, and moww moww is I have a mouse and want you to know all about it. (A catnip mouse. Pretty sure if we had any mice, the four members of the rat pack would not tolerate that.)

Over the course of my life, I have occasionally launched a health kick. Like the time in high school when I announced that cereal was so yesterday, I needed to cook eggs in a burrito every day. (Which would have been good if I had not skipped lunch and slurped a chocolate shake instead, garnishing it with newly purchased candy bars from our latest school fundraiser.

Then there was the vegetarian kick. I would swear off meat forever. Not cool to eat meat .. bad for you.

I lasted two meals. Not even a whole day!

Enter .. my recent doctor’s visit.

Yes I know people might say sharing health stuff is just “TMI,” but you know I am putting it out there because honest conversations are where we grow. Or maybe where I grow. Or something like that.

So I had lab work done and headed for my once a year appointment with my endocrinologist.

I looked at her and she looked at me, and with a sweet smile and lifted eyebrow, my doc said “You need to do something, you are practically diabetic.”

Not pleased with my recent tests, she advised there is more to life than peanut butter crackers and tortilla chips.

Recommending exercise, eating healthy, getting rid of carbs and so forth followed in quick order.

Blech.

This all started in my early twenties with a thing called reactive hypoglycemia, where I passed out after having one bite of cake. And then. Went through my cupboards, started reading labels, mortifying script of this and that, too much sugar, what on earth are carbs, and I was left with basic meat, veges, an occasional small piece of bread, cheese, butter, yogurt but not sweetened, and absolutely no fruit, syrups, jellies, etc.

I was told I would probably one day hear the D word and honestly, I should not have been shocked but here I am, thankfully, not insulin dependent.

So there is still time.

I downloaded an app to register my readings and a food diary. Have a Fitbit to monitor my heart and tell me how many steps I take. And for the last three days have taken vitamins, packed a full lunch box, and made great effort to do anything but sit in a chair.

I was thinking I might try to update you as to my progress .. or not .. as one of my creative things I share.

For now, it’s just celery, and hummus, and avocado, and falling onions.

What is next on this new diet thingy?

In praise of pens

The sun is high and I worked a few hours this morning, and since I have landed for a bit, thought I would write a little thought today.

Someone posted on social media “the world needs what you have to offer,” and I thought to myself as I often do, in a world full of writers and words and libraries and books, does the world need one more contribution, as King Solomon once said “there is nothing new under the sun.”

And yet every story, every person, every experience and thread on this beautiful tapestry of life brings something of value.

Get to the point.

Don’t throw away your dreams, don’t underestimate your potential, don’t walk away or ignore what you at one time mused, and still lights your soul.

Pens.

Paper.

Blank books and empty pages waiting to be filled.

A word can plant a seed and a harvest can grow and someone can learn from your contribution, and others may also stir a spice into your recipe for life.

I am so comfortable around books and words and pens and paper, pretty pictures and poems and prose and mystery and history and future words to be spoken.

Since returning from our road trip to Virginia and Indiana, and our travels through 11 different states, it took me a couple weeks to get back into the swing of things and chart a course for the rest of the summer. Personal, not work related that is. (I love my job!)

Once in a while I think to myself, maybe I am sitting on a future best seller? Or maybe not? And is the measurement of success really on how vast the readership is .. or rather .. that your writing was a bright spot in someone’s day?

Years ago, my devotion writing was very preachy. Typical, really. Here is the dilemma, here is what I did, here is what Jesus says and that is that.

And through many life’s changes, I realized that conversation and story sharing has great impact, when you share your heart .. as it is not an anecdote to the subject at hand, whatever the discussion may be.

I enjoy the real of other authors’ works. The confession, the grappling, the musing, the thinking.

So there is the thought for the day, in praise of pens with willing ink, to share and inspire and bless and motivate, to record and uplift and sometimes challenge.

Have a beautiful day my friends.

Hoping to do some exercising today. Will probably include that in an upcoming blog.

Ha.

Locks, Love and Fireflies

An old railroad line, transformed by a Rails to Trails project, stands adorned presently as what the locals of Danville, Virginia know as Riverwalk Trail, or “The Locks Bridge.”

The bridge crosses the Dan River and lovers attach padlocks to the chain link fencing along the bridge, a sign of their love before casting its key into the oft brown, swirling river below.

The walk is accessible via stairs or ramp, making a great option for those who walk, roll in a wheelchair or families with little ones in strollers. The bridge gives a fantastic and safe view of the Dan River while preserving a large amount of foliage and native greenery along the trail.

Some etch their names on the locks, others post inspirational sayings. The Danville Parks and Recreation Department was quoted in a local newspaper as stating they maintain the bridge and occasionally thin out the number of locks.

Some walk the bridge, alone, listening to their ear pods or walking their pets. Others come in groups to try to find their lock, only to discover that perhaps it has been too long since their last visit, and it has been removed.

I thought of the lesson one could learn about relationship and keeping love alive and remembering the “why” for whatever it is one’s heart pursues.

Remember this, I told myself. That whatever you value is more than a passing and quite temporal display of endearment.

After spending the afternoon with family over lunch at a local coffee and wine cafe, my Bestie and I took a drive to take some more photos of the downtown area.

Later, after returning to my daughter’s house, we gathered on the quite Southern front porch to drink coffee and watch the fireflies.

A perfect end to a full day.

Tomorrow is a sleep in day, time to chill and spend time with my little granddaughter. Time passes fast, and as I survey this beautiful town that is her home, I wonder what she will do with her life and what memories she will make, and if Locks Bridge will one day carry a lock of hers as well.

Sunrise and Mile Markers

We are on the road! For the next several days we will be enjoying God’s countryside and good times.

Three-thirty a.m. comes early when you are so excited you can hardly sleep.

First photo of the trip, the St. John’s River, as we pass by on our way to Virginia.

Our favorite deputy is at the wheel this morning. We have a blast when we are together .. her sense of humor and love for life is contagious. By the time we get to our destination, she will have scoped out the full status that be of every stop along the way.

My heart is full and I am almost emotional that I finally get to see my daughter and her family, and my Mama, my Aunts and some of my cousins after a two year wait.

Our road is presently uncluttered.

Stitches from alpaca yarn

A ball of yarn is full of potential in the right hands.

Or should I say, willing hands.

One of my grandmothers spent her evenings crocheting and the one on the other side of the family sewed.

I have come to the conclusion that I really don’t like sewing as much as crocheting.

I wonder what the alpacas think?

And how did they get blue fur?

A shearer gave them the trim they needed. And behold, alpaca yarn. Somewhere along the line, the wad probably soaked in a pot of dye.

Nonetheless, it makes for great string art (since crocheting sounds ancient, you know).

Presently am working on my next shawl and I will post it when finished.

The soft string is soothing and inspiring all at once.

A few ladies at lunch have stopped to take a look at my latest project. Oohs and aahs from their collective selves.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have a few hobbies. Most likely because my relatives recognized they had a hyperactive kid on their hands. Keep her busy, they said.

So writing, reading, string art, painting, gardening, music and photography are all outlets for me.

Tonight, I would like to encourage you to explore your creative side.

Paint rocks. Bake a cake and learn how to make home made frosting. Learn how to do calligraphy.

But whatever you do, enjoy this moment in life.

So starting Saturday, I will be taking you along on an adventure. The bestie and I are taking off for the north to see my family. We are super excited, and I am ready to take some super cool photos as well.

Blessings to all. The cats say hello and the fish wave a fin as they swim in their weightless existence. Write me and tell me about your adventures.