Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Answer to an Unasked Question

Quick newsflash! I won the Dietbet Challenge to lose 4% of my body weight in 4 weeks. Yeah, Me!

Next, my curious mind is amazed that no one has ever asked me why my pictures always depict me as Mighty Mouse.

In answer to the unasked question, it doesn't. It is not meant to be me as I have never been 'mouse-like', that I can remember.

Mighty Mouse was my first crush.

There! You have it! You know my secret.

He was the muscle-bound mouse who flew through the air singing, "Here I come to save the daaaaay!". Tell me, what girl can resist that?

(Thinking about it now, my first live crush was a kid named Larry who stood on the sidewalk and waved to me from the front of our apartment building as we drove away, moving to a new home. I can still see his little close-shaven head. He'd never expressed his undying love for me out loud but I knew. I knew. Sniff.)

Back to Mighty Mouse.

I knew he wasn't real, he was a CARTOON, but it gave me a basis for what to want out of a man in my future. Not that I knew that then. I was only 5 or 6 years old. I believe it was subconsciously throughout my growing years and, yes, into adulthood.

I wanted to marry Mighty Mouse, someday, O.K.?! What's wrong with that?

Well, to start, I had many conflicting ideas from around me, society, family and friends who said, "Oh, you don't need a man for that! Be your own Hero! Be a strong independent woman!". And, I am, however, there was a nagging feeling that I wasn't being told the whole story.

There come times in everyone's life when they need a Hero. There are times when you are just tired and it's nice when someone meets you at the car and carries your bags in or takes the garbage out before you mention it. Wow. I seem to have set the bar really low here. I'm getting to my point, soon.

Eventually, I realized that Man is problem-solver.

If he can't solve it, he gets frustrated. Women are talkers who just want to have a man listen but he REALLY wants to solve the problem for her. He wants to be the Hero. He can't slay dragons or conquer new lands for her so what is he to do? Women have lost the ability or inclination to let him be a Hero. This has confused both men and women for decades, now.

It sounds really old-fashioned, I know. But, it used to work for a long time. See, in life we all have our strengths and weaknesses. If we pay attention, we'll recognize them and build upon them in ourselves. If we are good observers, we'll recognize them in others. We'll respect them in ourselves and others. We'll accept them in ourselves and others. Then, we'll live in peace with ourselves and others.

There. Short and sweet. Have a blessed rest of the month and a Happy Thanksgiving to readers in the States!

"The best thing to hold onto in life is each other." - Audrey Hepburn


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Mother's Love

You were a surprise but a welcome one.

Mother knew if you were going to exist or not, but it's always a surprise to find out when you existed.

Mother's body protected you, naturally and automatically, as you grew within her. Mother's body fed you, helped you breathe, and protected you from the outside elements and from those that might hurt you. She, like every mother, instinctively would hold her hands in front of herself, resting on her belly, in front of you. I call it the Mother Pose.

Where she went, you went. What she ate, you ate. What she felt, you felt.

Mother made a home for you then and prepared one for your arrival into the World. She tried to make it as comfortable as possible, but sometimes things don't work the way it's planned. She may have had to move to a different place suddenly or had no money to insure a luxurious place for you. So, she did what she had to do...always.

When it was time for you to make your appearance, she found herself in a place of having to hope and pray all would be well. But she trusted that it would. She knew that it would.

You burst into the World with magnificence, Hope, and surrounded by love and welcomes!

From that moment on, Mother had to protect you in a different way. She felt such love for you that she would die for you. The sword through her heart always, was that you would go before her and she'd have to remain here without you.

She made sure you learned, had what you needed, even if it wasn't all you wanted. But, maybe you didn't ask for much anyway. Mother wanted you happy and carefree in your childhood. She knew being an adult in the World would be tough for you (understatement of the century!). She had many dreams for you but knew what happens, happens.

There were times you were hurt as you grew that she felt the hurt. You were insulted and so was she. You went without and she felt the pangs. Mother was at your side until the time came when she could no longer protect the child and had to let go.

As an adult you took off to live your life. Mother trusted that all had been done to prepare you for what was coming in your adulthood. She knew some of what you were doing and why...but not all. What momma does? Who really knows when and how life will be that they can fully prepare? Mother considered this and trusted. It was all she could do.

Mother watched as the World kicked you around, spoke badly about you, and betrayed you. You suffered and her heart felt like it would burn a hole in her chest. My baby! But, you aren't a baby, anymore. I think every mother has amnesia that makes her only remember you in her arms, right after birth, and that feeling of wanting to hold onto you forever, to smell your lovely little head, touch your cheek, or pat your back to comfort you.

I like to think that.

Yet I know there are mothers that are emotionally or mentally incapable of supplying affection, protection, or love to their children. I pray for them all. I've read and heard stories of emotional and physical abuse, attempts at harming or even killing, making sure a child feels worthless, and leaving them to wonder why they were even born.

All were born for a reason. Ask me the reason, I'll shrug. It is revealed in its own time for everyone. 

So, Mother had to watch as you died. Such sorrow is unimaginable unless you've experienced it, personally. She had to remain as strong as possible for her other "sons and daughters". She knew it was coming. She knew what she must do. She trusted.

She watched her son and her God die upon a cross. I can't conceive of the faith and strength that must have taken.

With His final breaths, He told her she was to be Mother to everyone now.

And with that, I think her heart felt a little lighter. As dedicated to being, as she said, the Handmaid of the Lord, she still feels the sorrow but it's different. We rejoice that she said, "Yes" to God's request of her and know that we, her children, can be comforted by Our Mother, today. We relate to her as a mother, as a woman, as a nurturer of all, whether we have children of our own or not. We all should know we have God's very own loving mother whispering our prayers into His ear and dispensing the Graces He sends. I love my earthly mother and my heavenly one!

I dedicate this to all children in need of mamas.

I, also, dedicate this to all mothers....especially those who have lost their children. Be at peace, for they are in the arms of Our Lord Jesus and His mama and our mama, the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Wandering Eyes Sometimes Catch Good Things

I sat next to yet another elderly lady that I only recognized by face and not by name.

Once again, as my eyes took in the scene around me, there were many others in the same category in my once-sharp brain. I've known many of the faces for many years, yet cannot, for the life of me, tell you their names. Still, we smile at one another, give each other a sign of Peace, and we listen together to passages of the Holy Bible being read by lectors and the Deacon of the Church, and we spend time together at different functions.

While the Monsignor gave his homily, speaking of marriage, of love, of commitment, of the trials encountered, and of getting through those trials, something caught my eye. It was a something but more of someone. In fact, there were two 'someones'.

A couple with names I know because they are the most American plainest names invented were seated about 7 pews ahead of me. John and Mary (Ellen). They sat together, close together, practically leaning on one another. They are a much older couple and very much in love.

I've known them a long time and know they have a beautiful marriage. He adores her and she adores him. She's a talented artist and he is her biggest supporter. They both show love in their greetings whenever we meet. There may be no such thing, they would say, but I would call them the Perfect Couple.

I felt embarrassed as if I was intruding on an intimate moment as Father spoke and they looked at one another, alternating whispering in each others ears and smiling and listening to our Pastor. It was such a private beautiful moment. I realized that I should have looked away but I couldn't. The more being said about love and marriage and weddings from the pulpit, the closer they got until he lifted the arm he'd had wrapped around her shoulders, the arm with the hand she'd been absentmindedly touching. He moved it because it had become uncomfortable. Since his ailment, I know that leaving a limb in one position for too long can become uncomfortable, even painful. But, he just had to do it. He was feeling it and did it.

Father was saying something about how you should know everything humanly possible about the man or woman you intend to marry. John leaned over smiling and said something quietly to his bride of many years. She laughed a little back at him. They'd weathered the storms. You could just tell if you were paying attention.

They stayed close together until she arose to fulfill her duty as a Eucharistic Minister. She'd done it so smoothly and unobtrusively that I must have looked surprised at her suddenly holding the Host in front of me as I approached, reverently. I'd never seen her move, which shows how deep in the moment I was!

"Body of Christ."

After the final Blessing, as everyone pushed to find their way out to their cars, I kept my eyes on the tall, handsome John. He made his way slowly up the aisle with eyes downcast and holding tightly to his walker while his lovely wife said her greetings to others near their original seat. I've never seen a man use a walker and still exude such dignity and humility, simultaneously.

People slowed behind him until they finally, bottle-necked where he was laboriously making his way out. As he passed, I had little care for how it looked or if I held anyone else up. I made my way directly in front of him, put both hands on his arms. He looked up, smiled big, and said, "I love you!"

I told him, "I love you, too. And your Little Church makes our Little Church stronger.". He knew exactly what I meant.

Because, you see, to be married is, indeed, to have a vocation like a priest. It is a vocation. My husband and I and others have little churches that are meant to show what God can do with us (when we let Him!), to do good works, to be charitable, and to spread love as we were blessed to be given each other and joined together in matrimony. I couldn't think of anything else to say that would have meant more so I kissed his cheek and walked away, brightened by John's million-dollar smile that could melt a heart.

He continued on his way. I reflected on the earlier scene and imagined The Meeting, The Courting, The Wedding, The Fights, The Make-ups, The Planning, The Children, The Family, The Aging, The Wonderful Life they'd had, so far, together.

I wept with joy praying we all can be a fraction as loving, strong, happy, and faithful as John and Mary Ellen.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Strange Children

If I were to list how I was as a child, you'd question my sanity.

I'm going to do it, anyway.

I took things apart. Clocks, telephones, tape recorders, radios, a typewriter, and anything else I could get my hands on. I never put them back together. I just wanted to see what was inside.

I hid in closets waiting for my mom and brother to look for me until I, eventually, fell asleep. I don't know if they looked for me or not.

I folded foil chewing gum wrappers onto my teeth to pretend I had orthodontic braces.

I poked the lenses from cheap sunglasses to pretend I had prescription glasses. (Future Nerd, here!)

I folded cellophane tape around my fingers to pretend I had long, glamorous fingernails. (Future Karsdashian, here!)

I unfolded wire hangers, stretched rubber bands across them and played the 'harp'.

I had a talk show. I had a variety show like Carol Burnett. I was a prima ballerina who also tap-danced like Ginger Rogers but never made it up onto my hurt.

I wore t-shirts on my head to have long hair like Cher and the Barbie dolls I didn't own.

I sat backwards on the closed toilet seat and created Chemist's experiments with whatever fluids, powders, and granules we had in the house.

I would find the smallest place as my go-to place to read my books...Again with the closets.

I rowed boats from the inside of empty cardboard boxes.

I drove cars from the same box.

I would lie underneath our Christmas tree looking up at the lights for hours.

I punched the buttons on old house phones in numerical order, 1-2-3, 11-12-13, all the way up to over 1,647...possibly more.

I dreamed of exploring old decrepit houses with many floors and many rooms, just to see what was there.

I listened to old music and watched old movies that were definitely out of my age-range, even foreign ones.

I had to jump around on the furniture to avoid the 'hot lava' on the floor.

I'd lie under tables to read my comic books.

I decided I wanted to be a botanist in 3rd grade. Even after I'd lost interest, I continued to say it because it seemed to amuse the adults in the family.

When my mother tried to tell me about menstruation, I asked, "Do you mean like administration?"

I have  a scar on my chin from being held by my older brother, yelling for him to let me go. He did.

My favorite place to go was up a tree in the middle of Lincoln Park in Chicago.

My favorite food was fried rice mixed with cole slaw.

I never had a favorite color. Still don't.

I had  'crushes' at 7 years old on Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson.

I can remember crying uncontrollably when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. I didn't know why. I just knew it was sad.

I'd also cry every Easter when I saw a crucifix, at Christmas, and whenever people talked of Jesus.

I liked having "P" parties where you buy all things that started with a "p", like potato chips, popcorn, peanuts, Pepsi, get the idea.

My least favorite place to go was the Laundromat. Although, I'd often imagine what it would be like to be inside of the rolling drum of the automatic dryer.

I thought my Grandparents' bedroom was a mysterious place, especially their closet where Paw Paw's old saxophone sat dusty and un-played for so many years.

I envied Pippi Longstocking's life.

I could go on. I won't.

I think my imagination has served me well into my adulthood. I'm more observant, can anticipate actions of others, and can still amuse myself.

Why do we grow up and leave our imagination behind? We shouldn't let that happen. It makes us feel immature or 'goofy' if we give in to impulses once we are grown-ups. We shouldn't let that happen, either. The children around us are thinking, feeling, considering, imagining, creating private little worlds, and they should never be discouraged. You never know what may come of it.

If you noticed, I didn't mention a video game, cellphone, store-bought toys or computers. Curiosity must stay alive and well in us all and our Free Spirits kept alive or we risk becoming those 'bored', boring, sad, angry, unsatisfied people that no one wants to be around.

Challenge? Do something silly today. Reboot.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dietbetting for Charity! Gulp!

Normally, if there's a diet bet going on, this girl will be one of the first ones out. I may as well just hand over the money and order a pizza. I have a pretty extensive vocabulary but can't get a grasp on the word "willpower". And, I'll be the first to admit it! (Who is this Will Power of whom you speak? Was he on the television in the 1970's?)

However, Joanna Soh of has invited her YouTube viewers (  and blog readers to join in an activity I'm pretty sure I can't fail in trying. That sounds lousy. It's an activity I KNOW I can do. It's all in the mind, People, and a lot on the backside. But...that's another topic. Hah! Butt.

Where was I?

She is a fitness trainer that has many videos posted showing everything from exercises to nutritious recipes and tips. Joanna's easygoing attitude is one I can tolerate better than the "Drop and give me 20!" trainers. I really don't want to punch her in the face! She speaks pleasantly but firmly and is able to offer quite a few good recipes (that's the foodie in me!) and is realistic about the exercises being challenging, yet encourages you to do as you are able. In fact, she addresses every body shape and fitness status in a few of the videos.

So, in trusting her trust in me, I've decided to take on the DietBet challenge and invite anyone else who'd like to jump in, to do so at

The challenge begins October 13th and ends on November 9th. Now, we can do anything as long as we know for how long we have to do it, right? Right?? Right! You add to the kitty to begin and if you lose 4% of your body weight, you win! Basically, 4 weeks to lose 4%. That sounds *do-able to me. Did I just say I had a good vocabulary? *Private conversation with 'self'. There is no word as 'do-able'.

Anyway, the people who actually meet the goal get to split the 'pot' between them.  If too many hit it, there's a "No Lose Guarantee". The company will kick in the difference to make sure you at least get back what you put in. That's only one reason I agreed. It sounds like they don't expect people to succeed. How dare them! See? I only need the right motivation.

It's amazing that one can go through life and lack motivation to do something for yourself, just for yourself, without an external motivator. I'll be honest, nothing works for me. If I had to cut off my right arm for my family member or hitchhike across the country to help a friend, I'm in. When it comes to something as simple as caring for myself, it gets lost in translation.

You would think being accountable to others would make me want to do better but I'm neither competitive or overly concerned of what others think of me. There goes friendly non-monetary wagers!

I'm blessed to have what I need and don't 'want' expensive things, so money is not a motivator, either. I've wasted hundreds of dollars paying for gyms I rarely visited and diet centers I figured out were too corny and/or cultish to attend. I just stopped going.

My attention span seems to be a bit of a problem, as well.  I join or start, make dynamic progress and then promptly lose interest! I'm shocked I've been able to keep up this blog for as long as I have!

There is one thing and one thing only that will get me going. I think you all know what's coming.

When I win (and I WILL win), our Church's Food Pantry will benefit as I've designated them as my charity.

Every day I have a thought that makes me ashamed that we have so very much and so many have so very little. We waste. We sit. We don't repair the broken. We eat at restaurants. We get fatter! Then there are ones who are getting healthier spending so much on 'healthier' expensive foods and constantly talking about food. Meanwhile, others are wondering when they'll eat again.

This is why I love organizations like (+No Kid Hungry) who are bringing attention to this dreadful situation of children without enough to eat. This just shouldn't be!

I suppose I do have a second motivator. One of my pet peeves is when someone tells me I can't do something. It makes me want to do it more than ever! It's not like a child bent on having her way. It is more of an insult to tell me what you think I'm capable of doing. I'm still working on the whole 'humility' thing. The idea that the Dietbetter company is willing to chip in 'just in case' everyone makes the goal, tells me they don't expect everyone to make their goals! It's good financial sense to make that statement as more will join knowing they can't lose their money, only weight. They don't know me, though, and I will get that money back, and more, for the Food Pantry. So there!

Bottom line, I've found motivation. Now, if I could just find that guy, Will Power.

Wish me blessings, luck, and success to do this little bit from this little section of the Earth I inhabit. Thanks!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's Not the End but What is It?

There's a darkness settling in.

No matter how bright the sunrise or how beautiful the sunset, people are becoming more and more mean to one another. This is my recent observation and not inclusive of areas of the world where humans are behaving well toward one another, if there are any.

Is anyone else getting to the point when they feel they don't want to read anything on websites, especially comments, watch the news on television, or read a rare newspaper?

It's enough to make you question if you really heard or read what you just did? It isn't that the world has always been perfect until now. It isn't that it's just become bad in the last few months or years. I think I'm just noticing it with new eyes these days. Everyone has a 'chip' on their shoulder. Everyone seems to want to have someone 'lesser' than them in order to feel better about their lives. They aren't afraid to show it, either. Mostly, they show it from behind the anonymity of a keyboard on the Internet. Here in the States, they show it outright, upfront, and smack in the face of justice, fairness, kindness, and consideration of humanity. Oh, yeah. It's the same almost everywhere, now.

Tonight, I read the following comments about a college football player's television interview. First question is, how many people who are not professional speakers could get in front of cameras and, not nervously, express themselves at their best? Second, he has no more of an 'accent' than many of the Southern U.S. citizens do. Finally, this is a young man that is apologizing for poor behavior, not criminal, just poor judgment for which he is being appropriately punished by his university. Why the 'cruel' behavior? Why the direct insult of him AND every student entering college on a scholarship....on an athletic scholarship?

The comments were as follows:

Tom G X How is winston passing his classes lol

D.j. XXX
Troy XXXX What an illiterate ass hole he can barely speak English lol

D.j. XXX unfortunately thats 75% of college and NFL the only way these guys get into college is bc of their athletic ability not reading ability smh

Tom G XXX But only 1% of college quarterbacks 1% off the top 100 teams that is.
(This statement is incomprehensible without punctuation or context.)

Samantha XXX I couldn't help but yell at the tv while watching this....absolute idiot! Lol

Now, I'm not the designated Facebook Grammar Police and not taking on the role, permanently. But, if you look at the postings, which I included exactly as written, there seems to be a problem with grammar, punctuation, and writing skills that a child could point out.

As a line on Friends went, "Hello, Kettle, this is Pot. You're black.".

Another would be known as throwing rocks in your glass house.

Another would be pointing out the splinter in someone's eye while ignoring the plank in your own.

Another would be every time you point a finger at someone, three more are pointing right back at you.

I joke. I have a sense of humor. I'm guilty of having a sarcastic nature (which I'm working on!). I'm no angel. I do feel anger at insults and criticisms aimed at those who are not there to defend themselves. It is mean, harmful and shameful.

People don't like to discuss shame, though. We want to keep it inside and locked up. We ignore it like it doesn't exist but it's there and will pop-up when we least expect it.We all have experienced it and it's uncomfortable. It's very uncomfortable. Acknowledging our wrongs feels bad. It can feel worse than the shame, itself. However, it is a sign of growth and maturity to admit to it and to ask forgiveness. It's something to strive for, not ignore. It's what we need to teach our children. It makes us stronger, kinder people. It makes us see what we need from ourselves AND others. Forgiveness. And that brings Peace.

While we are all living on this planet, with technology that allows us to do and say whatever we want without regard to feelings of others, without accuracy or politeness, surely, we can be honest about who and what we are and what we think. Every thought that comes into our heads does not have to be put on the Internet. It doesn't have to be yelled in traffic. It doesn't have to be on our face to the person who 'looks' different or is dressed differently than we are. If it's unkind, then as it's said, keep it to yourself. I would say no one's interested but, apparently, that's not true as evidenced by the added comments above and in every Yahoo News story that comes out daily.

We may not all believe the same, live the same, or have the same experiences, but we can respect one another, still. Can't we?


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Will Your Boaz See You?

I'm going to let someone else do the talking for this particular blog. Hope you don't mind.

I'm actually not sure there is more to say than what...and how, this lovely lady expresses it. Dephne Madyara ( has taken it upon herself to do a series of video logs on YouTube based on a Book of the Bible and study and discuss it for the month of September. It's not a ploy to purchase anything, gain subscribers, or push ideas into anyone's head that they can't hear and understand.

I started watching her videos surfing for vain reasons regarding hair, beauty, and health. She has gorgeous hair, exudes beauty and is in good health. She spoke with common sense and knowledge, and, mostly Faith, which I appreciated. I became a subscriber.

I should explain that she is referring to the Book of Ruth from the Old Testament. Ruth, you see, was a non-Israelite woman married about 10 years into an Israelite family. Her father-in-law, husband, and brother-in-law all died, leaving no one to care for her and her mother-in-law, Naomi. Rather than be anywhere else or with anyone else, she chose to go with her mother-in-law to Naomi's former home of Bethlehem. She had accepted Naomi's God of Israel and provided for them both by working in the fields. I was blessed with a darling of a mother-in-law, so I can see this happening.

Ruth is working when Boaz, who turns out to be one of Naomi's relatives, notices her and inquires about her status as a damsel in the fields. One like her, you did not see in the fields, but married, or having a good time while waiting for marriage.You see, as this young woman, Dephne, explains in her video, Ruth had experienced her share of heartache, stresses, troubles, challenges, but it did not show. Her face was one of peace, not a reflection of the darkness and storms, she'd survived.

It is a true statement of how your face can reveal your life to others. We don't need to reveal every hardship on our faces to prove we have or had them, any more than while fasting we have to wear worn clothing, cover ourselves in ashes, and look pitiful! We walk around, at times, with anger or sadness, clearly written on our faces. Will your Boaz notice you like that and want to be around you? Most people will walk right by that! It's when one notices your Joy that people stop and wonder.

I used to hate it when people (men!) would tell me to not to look so mad, when I was just walking innocently down a street. It wasn't that I was angry. I just wasn't smiling at the time, maybe lost in a thought. Now, I find lots of reasons inside me and outward to smile, despite what may be happening in my life, and it's attractive to those who want to know WHY. I'm always willing to tell them why if they are willing to hear it. Most people I encounter already know it. God bless them! There is no insincerity about it and it is not fake in any manner. I choose peace and joy because I feel it. If I'm not feeling it, if I'm losing it for some reason, then I can usually find it again in a short time. Prayer definitely works! I like to think that although I have some horror stories that would put you under the blankets of your bed for days, it isn't visible. Want to know why? It's been left behind me. It is a gift of grace that enables this and I would love to see everyone experience it.

So, long story short (too late!), this 'mixed' marriage of Ruth's takes place after a series of issues are settled, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, father of Jesse, father of King David. Dephne will get to that later in the series, I'm sure. I encourage everyone to subscribe and see what other contemporary thoughts she has from such ancient inspired writings!

That's enough from me. Seriously, please listen to what Dephne says here as she makes wonderful points that many women (and a lot of men!) need to hear.

I did start off saying someone else was going to speak, didn't I? Oops!

Have a blessed week, All!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Here's MY Water Challenge!

Does anyone else think Corned Beef Hash smells like dog food?

Back to the smells again.

I have been such a good girl. Yesterday, I had my lovely fruit/green smoothie and a tasty cold veggie vegan soup for dinner.

This morning, corned beef hash and grits! (Please, no one ask me what a 'grit' is.)

The smell turned me off so much, I couldn't eat it. That's a first, People!

So, the plan tonight is zucchini spaghetti and tomato sauce. I get to use my new Spirooli! It's a contraption that makes spiral shapes, slices, etc. from vegetables and fruit. I wasn't going to buy it because I have NO room for any more appliances or kitchenware in my tiny kitchen. However, this called my name (it did!) from Bed, Bath, and Beyond's clearance bin. It was missing one blade for making chips (no biggie!) and cost me a whopping US$7.98. A employee even handed me a 20% discount coupon to use so it was even less. Color me happy!

It seems to be the latest thing to make "spaghetti" from anything besides spaghetti. That's intriguing to me. But then, I don't get out much.

I'm not too off-topic today. It occurred to me that there are so many vegans, vegetarians, gluten-haters, and more who are trying to make the foods they 'used' to eat from foods they are allowing themselves. Why? What is the point? I've tried fake bologna. Never again. There's fake beef in a can. I don't even want to imagine what that looks like (or smells like!). Tofu is big enough of a stretch, in my book.

Meanwhile, companies create colorless Frankenfoods, processed foods, and pseudo-foods that trick our bodies and minds into thinking they are real and we all starve and are malnourished. While we drop ice and water over our heads, others have no clean water to drink or to use for safe sanitation.

Downer? Yeah, it's meant to be.

Usually, to the average American the term "water shortage" brings to mind poor, dried out, drought-stricken areas in Africa and India and the "not my problem" and "why don't they move?" mentality. What is not known by many is that the water shortages include parts of Spain, Turkey, areas between Nebraska and Texas AND California. This should make us a little more concerned as it is closer to home, eh?

Still not convinced?

About 95% of our fresh water is underground. We use that water to drink, bathe, and flush. Even more of it is used in agriculture, oil and coal extraction (the two largest) and watering the multitude of grassy golf courses in places like Arizona (it's a DESERT!). I read that Mexico City is essentially sinking because of the water being pumped from it's foundation. Lake levels are decreasing and even disappearing. Rivers are slowing. Streams and creeks have dried up.

The farmers who previously over-pumped our groundwater from places like the Ogallala Aquifer (North America's largest)  got a clue and stopped irrigating their crops. They finally realized the rainfalls weren't keeping up. Ogallala is still being depleted at a rate of 12 Billion cubic meters per year, or more by the time you read this. We are safe from Keystone pipeline for now but there are others that have been making their way across for years now on the 'chance' of no or very little leakage or spills into the aquifer. This information is brought to you by the letter O. Oil companies and our government reassure us that we will never have a problem that threatens our water supply. (Anyone else see the fingers crossed behind them?) 

So, forgive me if I don't jump to the Ice Water challenge which has pervaded our sense of common decency and murdered the phrase, "Waste not, want not". Forgive me if I scoff at the latest diet's bandwagon of intermittent fasting, trying not to eat 2 days per week and feed on the other 5. Try not eating for 5, as many do weekly.

Not eat? Have you lost your mind? I'll starve!

No, you won't.

The human body can go long periods without food but only 3-4 days, typically, without water.

Please consider this the next time the water runs while you turn your back on it in the kitchen, while brushing your teeth, or when there's a drip in your sink or a toilet that 'runs' constantly. Fix it. Think of it when over-watering your lawn...maybe give desert landscaping a shot. Are you pouring out that water bottle your kid didn't finish or that thermal cooler that held the drinks at the party? Water the plants. Lastly, does that shower really need to take that long? There are many ways we can look to avoid wasting what is desperately valued in other places on Earth today.

Let's look for them. Make it a challenge.

And, now that I have sounded the alarm.....

Yes, of course, if you've been following this blog, you know I'm doing the 5:2 'dealio' but keeping others and our planet in mind and using the 2 fast days as prayer days for us all.

Happy Back-to-School Days for the young 'uns! Wishing them all a good and safe year!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Smell it Again, Sam!

The scent of butter melting in a pan makes me picture my father making breakfasts of scrambled eggs or French toast.

The scent of butter melting on pasta and I see my maternal grandmother in her kitchen.

The scent of bacon and coffee and it's my maternal grandfather leaning across the kitchen sink looking out the kitchen window waiting for his 'lunch' to be done. He worked nights at a steel mill.

The scent of a baby's head and I get teary thinking about my little one as an infant.

The scent of Chanel No. 5 is my mother's purse as a child and watching her dress prettily to go out.

I can't walk into a hospital and smell that atmosphere without recalling my many stays.

The scent and look of a can of corned beef hash and I see my grandfather, again. This time, he's feeding his dog, King, a can of dog food. Ugh.

They can't all be pleasant memories. Just memories.

And, in writing this, I realize a lot of them are food-memories based on smell. This has to do with the amygdala, I guess. Or with the fact that I'm a foodie to my heart!

"The amygdala is an almond shaped mass of nuclei located deep within the temporal lobe of the brain. It is a limbic system structure that is involved in many of our emotions and motivations, particularly those that are related to survival. The amygdala is involved in the processing of emotions such as fear, anger and pleasure. The amygdala is also responsible for determining what memories are stored and where the memories are stored in the brain. It is thought that this determination is based on how huge an emotional response an event invokes."

I just had to find an explanation for this morning.

I decided to treat myself to an old recipe of buttermilk pancakes this morning. Not on the diet. Not supposed to have it. Not caring. Not one whit. The butter hit the pan and I was zoomed back! It's a great feeling in that case. Where the dog food is concerned, not so much.

What was happening last night to me, then? I spent hours listening to old music. For each song I found, I was back in my father's apartment, rifling through his albums and finding old and new songs to enjoy. He worked nights, too, coincidentally. On his nights off, he'd DJ for parties. Yeah. I had the cool Dad all my girlfriends wanted to marry. I spent my preteen age listening to every funk, rock, jazz, blues, soul, and classical album I could find in his enormous collection. I'm grateful that I can 'tune' into YouTube and find, not all, but certainly a lot of them. 

I hear Lawrence Welk's voice on PBS and I'm lying on my grandparents living room floor watching the show with my grandmother in 'her' chair on a Saturday night.

I hear a bus and I'm with my big brother riding the No. 4/Cottage Grove bus from the Southside of Chicago to the end of the line at the main library on Randolph and Michigan Avenue to meet Mom for dinner and a movie (and comic books!) after work.

I hear a key in the lock and I jump slightly to put back what I'm not supposed to play with or have out. I'm an adult, for goodness sake!

If I hear an ice cream truck, fuhgedaboudit!

I see snow on television and remember freezing mornings trying to get to school or back home and the burning sensation of my feet and legs as they struggled to warm up again once I got indoors.

I see a large tree and I'm on their back porch wondering just how old that old apple tree actually is in the yard.

I see a clothesline and I'm transported back to using it for jumping Double-Dutch, even resorting to tying one end to the fence for my cousin to turn the rope for me so I could practice. I was goooood!

I straighten my hair occasionally with heat and the smell makes me jumpy. I keep thinking some woman is going to say, "Hold your ear!". Days in salons were NOT my favorite as a child.

I used to drink chocolate milk and have thoughts of being surrounded by my schoolmates in the cafeteria in the days of actual 'lunchrooms'. They've now been taken over by cafegymatoriums.

There's still something about the smell of ink, paper, books, the sound of kids playing, kids giving you your 'birthday licks' including one to grow on, the taste of Bazooka Joe bubble gum or a Chico-Stick or Payday candy bar, rubbing alcohol on a mosquito bite, the feel of the air on your hand hanging out of a window on a road trip, the scent of fresh cut grass and rolling around or running around in City parks, animal smells being school field trips, and all of it brings back memories. I need those memories. I need to know that it all happened. There may come a day when they are clearer than what happens daily. I rarely remember today if I ate and what!

I used to joke that there are entire blocks of life-years-that have been erased from my mind. It's just occurred to me that that's not completely true. Thank God!

Old memories aside, new ones are being created everyday. I hear my husband's vehicle pull up and my heart skips a beat. I smell him on his shirts. I have the photos, videos, memories of friends and family to keep me on target and fill in the blanks, too.

When you realize that as amazingly complicated as our bodies and minds are, we are able to pull it all together with the slightest hint given to our senses.

We are pretty cool creatures, aren't we?


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Might As Well Face It, You're Addicted to....


Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It's been 6 hours that I've been on this computer looking at pictures of cute babies and cats, tweets that don't concern me, "selfies", quotes, cartoons, disturbing videos, tutorials, Life Coaching posts, defending and explaining my Faith to strangers, giving unrequested and unheeded advice, playing games and following other people's lives.  I know waaaaayy too much about some people and what's happening in their lives. It's become like watching a serial soap opera. What do I do??! A day that I'm given can disappear like a snap through loss of time-awareness. I can't imagine if I were more mobile with this on a phone and able to stay 'connected', I'd never get anything done! Thank GOD, I only have a text and call phone! What is wrong with me?

There's nothing wrong with me...or you.

We have been absorbed by the black boxes offered to us for our pleasure. And that's what we want, right? Pleasure?

As long as we're receiving some payback of pleasure in the activities, we'll continue to buy, sign-up, listen, and pay. Which pleasure it is remains an individual choice. It may be competition in a game and winning. It may be learning info that's new and valuable to you or trying to find it's usefulness in your life. It may be the positive feedback you receive or merely the attention. It may be a replacement of direct human interaction. It may be a physical pleasure through pornography. It could be to fill the boredom of the day. It could be the laugh you need that day or the 'nosiness' in us all. It may satisfy a need to feel like a part of the world and everything in it yet not be in it.

The only problem is that it's a false pleasure we're getting.  It's actually pulling us farther apart from one another. You can stand in any space, indoor or outdoor, today, with others all around you and feel alone and ignored. Why? Because everyone is looking down at a device and not at you...or the car coming. You could be that cute guy trying to get the girl's attention but she's busy texting that she never meets anyone nice.

What happened before we could immediately call or text every single thought we had throughout the day? We kept our mouths shut. We used all of our senses. We noticed our surroundings. We looked at others. We talked to strangers. We didn't over-share but to those closest to us. And, we had people who were close to us. Everyone was our brother or sister, but everyone wasn't our friend or follower. We were content to wait to call someone when we got to a phone, we called them back if they didn't answer, if it was important. We didn't work ourselves up into a frightened, perceived insult because they didn't answer or call us back within a certain time. We just thought, "Oh, they must not be home or must be busy. I'll try later.".

Being fooled by that pseudo-pleasure can lead to emotional ups and downs and instability of emotions in every area of our lives. That adrenaline builds up and doesn't come down for a while and we remain in an almost constant fight-or-flight state. We feel anxious and jittery and may lose sleep. We actually believe we can start, build, and maintain healthy relationships across the Internet like that. Think about that and whoever you may be having problems with right now.

I don't know that I'm satisfied with that in my life. In fact, I know I'm not.

We should be focused on a REAL LIFE. I have REAL friends, REAL human beings, that I want to keep in my life. They are the ones I know and have met in person, have known for years, trust, and enjoy their company when we are together. If we are not together, we can 'keep up' with what is new in our lives through these tools, which is great! My pleasure comes from that and seeing their accomplishments and successes in life. I also enjoy seeing the progress people are making in their businesses, with education, with their faith, and growth of any kind. It's inspiring and uplifting and I stay open to meeting new live friends. That is what I should seek more of in my web-time.

My pseudo-pleasure sucks me in with YouTube videos like Bubzvlogz watching her and her husband go through their first pregnancy together. I watch new parents DearNaptural85 and their little one. I get a kick out of that. They are young and it's such a big change to their lives. It's just...nice. But it's become a daily look-out! I don't KNOW these people! It's beginning to feel voyeuristic!

My other is the games. Sigh. I can play for a VERY long time while multi-tasking! So wrong!

So, the upcoming reboot will be limiting the amount of time I'm online to checking email accounts, Facebook and Twitter for updates ONCE PER DAY (I'm not even signed into the other ones!). Games will be limited to 20 minutes, and not daily. I'll set a timer! I'll give myself once per week to check in to YouTube (just to make sure the families are doing well without me, sniff-sniff).

Is there any rebooting you need to do this week?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

And/or what?

Update from 6/10/14:

This message is brought to you by the good people at Playtex.

Women, you may know where I'm going with this. They have succumbed to the latest in labeling that makes me want to tear my hair out.

And. Good word. Small word. You envision abundance of good things, extra things, being offered.

Or. It's a smaller word. It offers a choice. That should be a good thing in most situations. Especially if Eddie Izzard is asking you, "Cake or Death?".

These tiny little words have appeared on a box I examined that lists 'ingredients' as "Rayon AND/OR cotton fibers" and string as "Polyester OR cotton". Don't they know which?

What power those little words have! It triggered a fevered search throughout my household for other 'undecided' items we may be using.

The good news is that what we use daily, for the most part, has listed all the ingredients and chemicals that are inside it OR of what it is made. The BAD news is that our food is more fickle.

A quick survey of pantry and refrigerated items came up with the following:

    Coffee-mate (which Hubby won't give up!):  Vegetable oil (partially hydrogenated coconut oil OR palm kernel, hydrogenated soybean)
Jello No-Bake Dessert ( I don't know WHY that is here but has my 2nd highest pet peeve!):  Crust mix - Soybean oil AND/OR Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil

Again, if they don't know...?

OR do they? What is this ambiguity supposed to mean? Is a ruse that hints they are using whatever is cheapest at the time of production? I'm thinking....yes.

Now we all know the main culprits in our diets, currently, to be the excess use of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), which goes by many names in attempts to sway the consumer, and sodium. However, we must also be aware of the amount of soybean and cottonseed oils we are now consuming, also.

Soft drinks, breads, snack foods, salad dressings, Chips, Miracle Whip (my occasional guilty nostalgic pleasure), crackers, cookies, sauces, mayonnaise, desserts, condiments, seasonings, basically anything made for human and animal consumption, will likely have soybean oil, OR cottonseed oil, OR palm kernel oil, AND/OR HFCS. Why? It's cheap and abundant.

If a little does a little good, a lot will do a lot of...O.K. let's look closer.

The soy bean, in itself, is a good thing with many health benefits when in its naturally processed state, or fermented, in proper amounts, without having been sprayed and fed other chemicals to make them higher producers, of course. This isn't the 1960's Hippy-Soy, Folks. Where soybean products are concerned, I'm concerned. Too much soy is being connected with affecting under-active thyroids, feeding breast cancer, kidney stones, allergies, and interference with medications like antibiotics and blood-thinners.

Here's a little factoid from the USDA:

The United States is the leading soybean producer and exporter. Soybeans comprise about 90 percent of U.S. oilseed production, while other oilseeds--including peanuts, sunflower seed, canola, and flax--make up the remainder.

Supply and Demand at work, here. Guess who, combined, owned over 500,000 acres of soybean crops in 2005? Dupont and Asgrow. Asgrow is a brand owned by Monsanto who owns the 'patent' on the pesticide-resistant soybean crops and weed-killer (Round-up) that legally prevents farmers from growing any seed except Monsanto's (

I've mentioned this in the past. This is another reason I avoid US-grown soy milk and limit, if any, tofu, edamame, miso, soy sauces, liquid smoke, and any other items that cannot have their origin identified. I've found I can, mostly, trust the UK, some Canadian, and Indian processed foods that list and have the fewest ingredients on that list. Basically, if you can't identify it, you shouldn't eat it.

Cottonseed oil is listed often in processed foods, although exactly when cotton became something to eat rather than wear is answered by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. They've concluded that what is left in the processed seed or oil lacks appreciable levels of toxins and pesticide. Good to know. Note: It does NOT say the residue is nonexistent.

Everything in moderation, right?

I used to believe that until I began to read labels. The television ads that advocate HFCS as natural and legally safe are fully aware it's only if you eat and drink a little. Yet they sell to every manufacturer and each food manufacturer not practicing natural organic methods, is putting it in everything processed and sold to you, the consumer.

We need fat in our diets for our health. We don't need the soybean oil (which is Identity-Protected by Monsanto), cottonseed oil (please see above), OR palm kernel oil (which comes from palm 'seeds' which means less palm trees in countries that produce it, therefore, decimation of even more of our natural oxygen-producers).

I see that of my preferred oils, olive, safflower, coconut, grape, and sesame, the cheapest available oil is Canola. I used to wonder what a canola plant looked like. It's a rapeseed plant hybrid, it's said. It wasn't an attractive name for Canada to use. Voila! Canola Oil! Canadian Oil-Low Acid! Oh, I'd love to have been in the Think Tank for that meeting!

After further research of the rapeseed plant which is related to mustard and the cabbage family. I determined through that maybe it's not that bad. They claim it's NOT Genetically Modified but a hybrid of plants. It has health benefits, as do all listed in this post, but I am not convinced that it's being grown without Monsanto's herbicide residue that may be building up in our bodies if we have so many other foods in our diet with additional pesticides. This is in addition to what faces nature, on which we are dependent.

Honey bees exposed to pesticides die. They die, crops die. Crops die, people die.

Before you assume I'm pushing a vegan grow-your-own and boil your water lifestyle, let me say this. Read the labels. Just read the labels. If it's uncertain of what's in it, ask yourself, "Do I feel safe eating this or feeding it to my family?".  Charlie Chaplain, one of my favorite brains, said,

"I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose."

He summed up everything from Art to Food to Faith! I'm no Jada Pinkett Smith who says she doesn't eat for enjoyment. I do! I see the Beauty in the food provided for us. I love the colors and creativity, the tastes, the smells, the variety and will always. I live Life according to letting my Yes be my Yes and my No, my No, keeping it as simple as possible in this generation. How much explaining should our food need? Why should there be any uncertainty of what it includes? If there is an AND/OR I simply walk away from it.

I just had a flashback from School House Rock I'll share with you! Enjoy! Conjunction Junction!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Paper or Plastic?

**Another coincidence of an article found related to this blog's topic
Next time we're in Chicago, we are definitely going there to eat!

There is always something that is brought to my attention that makes me go, "Wow! Why don't WE do that?" 

Since today is Earth Day, this was extra-timely information to receive.  Having a conversation with my daughter, I learned just how far behind in recycling the United States is compared to the EU. She went to the market to drop off some bottles...and boom...Five Euros in her pocket! That's close to $7.00 US!

We have landfills everywhere. I've learned that Germany hasn't had a landfill since 2005.

We may recycle our plastic bottles and newspapers but guess what? Germany is recycling glass, plastics, cans and aluminum, and biological waste (such as veggie peelings and bones etc.).

You may have a total of 5 bins that you use weekly, there, to separate your garbage but I can see where it becomes less cumbersome over time and use and more a welcome lifestyle. There are very efficient methods of collection and if it's missed, you can actually call them back for a pick-up. Amazing!

For those of us who take our garbage and place it all together to be dumped in landfills, including prescription drugs, batteries, and other hazardous materials, we should be ashamed. Such an effort is being made in Europe, Canada, and Australia, and more that it appears they, alone, care about what happens to the planet we all inhabit.

When I mentioned glass recycling, let's add the stunning part of this plan Germany has instituted. They are of course, separated by color...the glass, that is. The non-refundable glass and plastics is what is put in the bins. You can actually take your (NONPLASTIC) bags of refundable glass to supermarkets and liquor stores, drop into the reverse vending machines and receive a receipt good at the market for cash or toward your purchases!

When I heard that, my mouth dropped! What an incentive! That is possibly the best incentive one could set-up for people who refuse to pay attention to the HUGE footprint they are leaving on Earth.

The only dilemma I could come up with is being robbed by someone who wants to steal your bottles.

This could help so many people who need the extra money. People take peeks into the waste cans on the streets in Germany just in case there's something there they can return. This could help people now who are underemployed or unemployed to have a little cash for them and their families. It could, obviously, decrease the amount of garbage going into the landfills, since it takes millions of years, IF the glass decomposes, at all.  It takes less time for other materials but we're still talking about anywhere for weeks for food and paper to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years for other materials, such as disposable diapers.

For the couple of minutes it would take to separate your garbage into a couple of bins, each person could make a tremendous difference in the amount of pollution released into our atmosphere from the decomposition and burning of items that can be recycled and reused, up-cycled by others, or free-cycled to others.

Although corporations like Coca-Cola may be against such recycling due to financial concerns, we should really take a closer look at how other countries are managing their waste.  We could learn a lot. Considering the average American amount of waste that is thrown in landfills and/or burned amounts to 251 million tons per year, we are bound to run out of space to put our garbage, eventually. Europe recycled or reuses 70% of their waste, whereas the U.S, was at about 33%. How embarrassing!

We have to stop using our home as a garbage dump, if not for us then for the future generations to not have to breathe in and step over it.

In researching this, I still have not found an acceptable reason why we haven't jumped on this yet.

Happy Earth Day!

Friday, April 18, 2014

GOOD Friday??

A German artist named Matthias Grunewald (1475/1480-1528) painted a work that is in Washington, DC.  It hangs in the National Gallery of Art.  I can not WAIT to visit this art museum one day!

It is called The Small Crucifixion.

I've seen a picture of it only. There is no way to describe the beauty and pain of it. Like many people, I hope, I don't care what color he is portrayed.  I just know it's Him and that's fine with me.

There is a dispute among Christians who decided they are against all religions. What they are saying is that they have a problem with 'organized' religion, as it is named. What they don't realize is that if they did reading of what they believed, how they came to believe it, and why, the road would lead them backwards, directly to a religion.

People tend to forget, especially anti-Semites, that Jesus was Jewish, as was his mother, his foster father, all of his cousins, friends, and all of the Apostles that he selected. The only Gentiles came along later through St. Paul's and the Apostles' conversions. He had previously under the name of Saul, persecuted harshly, anyone who professed to be a Christian, which shows what changes God can bring about.

Therefore, Jesus practiced as a Jewish person would, with all of the rites, laws, and temple rules...a religion. He grew to begin his ministry as God's son with the Holy Spirit guiding him to build his church on Earth.  However, not everyone Jewish was ready to hear what he had to say. They were not ready to recognize, no matter how many miracles witnessed and love shown, that he was their long-awaited Messiah. He challenged everything they believed. He turned ideas of how God is upside down to them. We like to think that if we were there, we'd be on his side and believing but it took a great deal to commit to the thought. You could be placed imprisoned and/or killed for believing Jesus is the son of God. Many lost their lives for that kind of Faith.

To deny their unshakeable Faith in their God, their religion, resilience, and belief that caused such pain as beheadings, stabbings, ruthless killings that could have been avoided if they'd only said they didn't believe, is an insult to them AND to God, especially since there are Christians still being martyred in other countries. Would you be convicted and imprisoned if you were accused of being a Christian? We need to ask ourselves that everyday, if that is our belief.

The Church began with Jesus, by Jesus, for Jews and Gentiles alike.  That's why the Mass is similar to practices you would see in a Synagogue today. It's practiced the same as thousands of years ago. People tend to take what they read in the Bible very literally. This leads to misinterpretation of the Bible. Some are taken figuratively (like believing the Eucharist is just 'symbolic') and others literally. And, yet, when it comes to a Gospel like St. Matthew's in 16:17-20, where Jesus declares Peter as the rock upon which he will build his Church, it's conveniently overlooked. To quote Fr. Roderick Petrie OFM, "History, Church History, did not begin in the sixteenth century." For over 1500 years, if you were Christian, you were Catholic. It was all that existed from the beginning of Christianity.

This reading was Jesus making Peter (Cephas-stone) the first Pope to be followed through the centuries in Apostolic succession to be his visible Servus Servorum Dei, the Servant (or Slave) of the Servants of God. I love that Pope Francis is taking that job seriously in a Holy way that I think Jesus loves! There have been good, not-so-good, and absolutely rotten Popes through the ages but what never has and never will change is the Church Tradition and the Magisterium and the Bible. None can exist without the a 3-legged stool. (The history is fascinating and enlightening to read, whatever Faith you profess to be! I love delving into my own and other religions as it leads to better understanding and respect of others and, well, peace!)

So, Jesus trekked through deserts and towns, laboring and teaching until it was his time to offer himself as salvation for our original sin. Back to Adam and Eve we go!

Therefore, this is a day that we honor and relive the sacrifice made for us. He would have done the same and suffered the same if it were just you and no one else. That's Love, Man!

On this day, as from Holy Week's Magnificat reader,"Grunewald paints the landscape in a peculiar greenish-blue color as a reminder that the sun darkened and creation itself groaned at the hour of Jesus' death on the cross", witnessed only by his mother, one apostle, and Mary Magdelene, he died what was then a shameful death on a cross.  Everyone else had deserted him. He had to deal with the physical pain of his wounds, of blood (an irritant) dripping from the wounds in his head into his eyes from a crown of thorns, speaking his last words in agony because each word came from his diaphragm causing him to inhale and lift which caused more pain from the stakes in his hands and feet. He had been rejected, spat upon, hit, insulted, stripped, scourged, and abandoned by his friends. He came to experience everything we do and feel in life. That's how he is so loving, kind and merciful. He knows. He rose from death triumphant but he remembers our everyday pains. He knows.

HE KNOWS. And, that's 'good' for us!

That's your Catechism for today, Guys! Next topic, Party games with string, a hot dog, and a candle. :-)

Have a blessed day and Happy Easter!


Monday, April 14, 2014

A New Me?

The last 5 weeks have been a BIG OLE Reboot for me!

I'm jazzed about doing some Spring Cleaning this month, reorganizing, decluttering.  Did I really just say that? Seriously, this is a PLAN! I've even started Freecycling some items online.

My friends know that I've been DIY'ing a lot of hair products but have now moved down to my face.  I have, from my 'natural' chemist's basket and kitchen, concocted everything I need for hair and now find I have the ingredients for facial products, as well.  Thank you again, YouTube!

Lately, I've watched Lisa Pullano, AndreasChoice, XO_DVF and many others picking up tons of tips on clearing and preventing acne, brightening dull skin, and reversing ageing, sun damage, etc.  I've learned that there are young ladies with TOO many shoes, clothes, make-up and nail polishes that they've organized like a retail store!  It's amazing.  I thought I had too much eye shadow, but these girls put me to shame! I don't even wear most of them. I have this weird idea that I have to use something up before I buy or use another. I know it makes no sense but it is what it is in my brain.

I've lost at least 10 pounds during this time (Hold applause until the end, please) and my energy was pushed to its limits while I attended classes to become a certified volunteer guardian ad litem. Now that's over and graduation has been completed, I'll be meeting with my supervisor to choose my first case. I'm excited and terrified at the same time but I feel called to do this for a child or be their voice.

I haven't had white sugar, potatoes or rice, meat or fowl of any kind (except an occasional egg) in 5 weeks.  Now, THAT has been an accomplishment in itself.  There was a time if I didn't eat meat of some kind two to three times per week I was not pleasant to live with. Let's leave it at that and see if I can keep it up. I've greatly limited the amount of white flour, if any, that I eat. You will NOT see me scarfing down any 'yoga mat bread' from Subway, Burger King's or  McD's, either.

I was able to stay off of Facebook except to check for direct messages from my daughter, did NOT play Candy Crush at all and did some major reading and reflection.

I now have a calendar that I'm actually using and...hold on...I was invited to a group therapy meeting!

If anyone wants to try this, I say, go for it.  You will be stunned, amused, touched, angry, and confused, but makes you think a little deeper. I watched, mostly, unless the facilitator asked me a direct question after a short exercise done with a couple of people. I've never seen a room full of people so loving, open and direct with one another! I've never seen a room like that where no one jumped on the other person for BEING honest about how they perceived them before. Basically, I've never seen anything like it besides on the Bob Newhart Show!

Without violating anyone's confidential information, I can say this because I want, desperately, to share this with younger, and older, people who have not considered some of what I learned that night.  For instance, if you are looking for a woman or a man to be your mate, you must know their history.  You must know their relationship with their mother. Sex, alone, tells you nothing about how life will be down the road with this person. It is the ultimate info in telling you what to expect, to determine if you even want to pursue a relationship, if you are willing to put the work in to make a healthy relationship, and what will be needed to do it. 

It made so much sense and was put out there in such a simple way.  Define what Love means to you.  Find out, does it mean the same to him or her? Is there a barrier of neglect, abuse, divorce, addiction, adultery, mental or emotional illness, or over/under attachment that would prevent your mate from being in a healthy adult relationship with you? You can't over-communicate where all of this is concerned.

If I had to choose a theme song for my relationship with Left-Brain, at first it'd be Taylor Swift's song, "I Knew You Were Trouble When I Met You". But that's ok, because I knew what I was dealing with and how to...God bless him! Now, the song is Etta James, "At Last". The effort was more than worth it.

Then there was a conversation regarding children and how they should not be made to feel responsible for what their parents do or say or how they act.  Everyone always thinks a mother or father should be perfect and will always show love and caring for their child. Not always. Parents are human beings. There can be problems. The most disturbing one discussed was referred to as "emotional incest" in which a parent 'overshares' with the child, at whatever age, personal grownup information...usually involving the other parent. It's not fair, but it happens more frequently than I like to think about. Furthermore, when a parent tries to fix 'parenting' by giving everything a child asks for it doesn't correct this in any way, in fact, it can cause long-term damage of anger, guilt, shame, and lack of ability to express themselves due their 'secret-keeping' status. Therefore, the child grows with their own issues in trying to obtain or maintain a relationship.

I heard a story about a woman who was severely maltreated by her own mother but through therapy, who is able to be there for her now that the mother is aged and sick. She had forgiven her. "Mother" never asked forgiveness but "Daughter" found it within herself to love her damaged parent, regardless. She's healthier and happier for it and able to be a better wife because of that. It didn't happen overnight but, apparently, it was worth it. The lesson was that one must accept loving, at times, without receiving love in return.

Help is something that is offered selflessly. Kindness is shown. It's said that Love is not Love until it's given away. Forgiveness, however, should not be what we think is owed to us. It is not. It needs to be expressed to others, whether they ask for it or not, and to ourselves, also.

We all need love, help, kindness, and forgiveness in our lives. We need to show it as well as receive it. That's what I learned last Friday night. I'll be honest, I thought I was aware of my own failings in some areas and I'm feeling more connected now. So, I'm glad I went, glad for these weeks of Penance that gave me nothing but time to focus on what matters, and I'm glad I've learned a lot this Lenten Season.    

In closing (I hate that phrase!), I'd like to share part of a homily from Palm Sunday.

There was a Special Olympics race for children. Eight children lined up and on the signal began running around the track. One child, however, fell and began to cry. Every child ahead of him turned and came back to where he was. They helped him up, dusted him off, and wiped his tears away. A child came from the stands to where they were and kissed him, saying everything would be alright. All 9 children crossed the finish-line together that day and all were winners.

Corny? Maybe. But what are we if we don't reach back and help someone get to where we are trying to get to? Wouldn't it be great for us all to get there with no one left behind?

Happy Easter Season to Everyone!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Considering Malaysian Tragedy Losses

I love that I have friends that require me to 'think'.

A visit this week by Marian (Happy Birthday, Girl!) had us sitting and chatting, laughing and pondering, as we do.  The topic of the tragic loss of the Malaysian Airlines jet full of passengers came up as we covered current events. 

She couldn't recall who she'd heard mention it but the thought was that there were 152 Chinese citizens and the reporter and Marian both wondered, how many were sons? That was over two-thirds of the total number of passengers. We have a couple of questions. Why has this not been discussed with all of the news coverage on every local and cable network in existence? How could they miss it?

With any other country's involvement this question would never be an issue. In this case, however, it explained the extraordinarily tortured faces in photos and videos of the families awaiting news of the plane.

No disrespect to the other lost Souls but for anyone else who hasn't considered it, this bears discussion. The One-Child Policy in China was mandated in 1979.  The government believed there was a need to limit the number of children each couple could and should have in order to control the population, the poverty, and assure enough young, tax-paying healthy male workers to care financially for the aging population of the future. At one time, it was actually up to 'work units' to know your reproductive cycle and give permission to those whose turn it was to try to have a baby.

Since males in many countries, yes....even the United States, have had more 'value' than females, many little girl babies lost their lives, just for being born female. Many have been illegally aborted if the ultrasound showed a girl, many 'missing girls' were found to be in state-run orphanages, given away, adopted or abandoned to give way to a chance for a boy. In Chinese and many cultures, when a girl-child is allowed to be born and marries, she becomes part of the groom's family and cares for his parents as they age, not her own. This retirement plan was yet one more incentive, I suppose, for having a boy? (I'm squinting HARD here!)

In 20 more years, however, instead of 5 tax-paying workers to support one elder's benefits, there will be only two, according to an article on this subject: 

It also states Germany and Japan (much more 'advanced' economies) are dealing with this now. Germany's moved ahead a bit, but Japan is still dropping as of the last two years.

I'm not trying to flippant about this and I'm not making accusations that these horrible things occur in every case but 

Under this law, I can see where it could make a couple desperate and tragically sad. (See YouTube vids on the topic) A couple in an urban area are allowed one child.  A couple in a rural setting could have two, IF the first was a girl or disabled. The law's very optimistic but controlling and misguided use actually wasn't even necessary because in the 70's, births were declining, anyway. Therefore, with some exceptions, i.e. neither of the couple has a sibling, the firstborn is a girl or is born disabled in some way, or the child is of an ethnic minority, a couple is allowed to have one child in the city and two in the country. I feel the need to repeat that as I sit and shake my head. Allowed. The things we take for granted...whew!

A couple can actually be fined a "social compensation fee" based on their annual income if they violate this law.  It has run into the millions of yuan. This law has led to an inordinate ratio of men to women that can only worsen as time passes. In fact, a study shows there will be 30 million more men than women in China by 2020. So unless, they figure out a way to make each other pregnant (Not!), the economy will become unstable as more men leave China in search of brides, the population will obviously decrease, and there will be few left to care for the elderly, financially or otherwise.

Here's the understatement of the year. China may have been overly cautious in the 70's. Poverty levels did improve, but they are just now coming to grip with and understanding what else lies ahead. Gee, that only took 30 years!  Let's see what's next and how long it takes for something more to change about this nonsensical policy, like it's removal.

In a related 'aside', a Danish travel agency has begun a campaign to get their young people to START having more babies due to declining birth rates. They are calling it, "Do It For Denmark". Yes, it's tacky, in my opinion, but may prove effective. 

Many developed countries are going to find themselves emulating the Danes, eventually, given our own declining birth rates.  The fastest growing populations seem to be situated in Africa, and the slowest in wealthy countries like the U.S. Now, I could list a few reasons as to why that is but will leave that alone...for now. Let's just say, we'll regret it someday like Denmark.

Any parent who lost a son on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, not only lost their child, but their only child, and the only child they will ever have, considering their ages, and some lost their only grandchildren, as well.

Thus, the maddening pain displayed as they waited and were told of no survivors is something many of us cannot even comprehend. The US$5000 the airline's offering will be no condolence for their true loss on March 7, 2014.

But, I suppose this is what happens when you treat human beings as a commodity with a currency figure on our heads rather than by the Spirit and Life within us.

4/1/14 Update:  Someone's thinking same way today.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How Do We Say Goodbye?

How do you say goodbye to a dear old friend?  How do you cope with the fact you'll never see this old friend again in life?  He won't be there when you feel like cuddling. He won't be there to take a walk with you. He won't be there to yell at or to laugh at.  He won't be there to hear your secrets and never tell. He won't be there breathing in your ear, licking your hand or drooling on your lap. 

By now, you may have figured out that I'm referring to a pet.

“The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants.”
Johnny Depp 

A close friend has had her dog for almost 18 years, now. The time has come where he is no longer the puppy that chased squirrels, ran away from home to McDonald's, and sneaked over to play (and we believe smoke cigars and play Poker) with his puppy-pal, Mercutio, across the street while she yelled and yelled for him.

I know the story of how he came to be hers and now am doing what I can in her pain in ending his suffering. I know how deeply he will be missed. No matter how loved she is, nothing can replace that dog.

“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.”
Doris Day  

I've spent time with this dog and can only say that as a non-dog-owner....I like him. He was reasonably well-behaved. OK. He did keep pushing his head up under my breast once for some weird reason. While my friend was in the hospital, we split some Mexican food and bonded. He pissed me off by running out of the backyard when I let him out to 'go'. I had a mega-fit thinking, "Oh, no! Leave it to me! I've lost her dog! That's just great!"

The little monster turned up at the front door, looking like, "What? What's the problem?".

“I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.”
John Steinbeck

He's been her companion for years, her protector, her little boy, her secret-keeper, her source of irritation and joy, and her buddy. 

“You can say any fool thing to a dog and the dog will just give you this look that says, 'My GOSH, you're RIGHT! I NEVER would've thought of that!”
Dave Barry 

I can't begin to imagine what it's like to have to lose such a closeness like pet-owners have with their pets.  I attempted, once as a child and once as an adult, to have a puppy.  One mistake on the carpet and they received new and better trained homes than I could provide.

Dogs and children. They say you should never act with them as they will always upstage you. They both seem to gravitate toward me for some reason. They always like me and I like them.

“It’s the person who likes to pat dogs to whom dogs come for pats.”
Arthur Gordon, A Touch of Wonder

I should be a dog-owner. I want to be. Big 'but' here...I have trouble keeping plants alive. I'm afraid to have to be responsible for a little loving loyal creature so dependent on me and my routine, of which I have none. So, I have a toy stuffed pug called, Bingo, on my nightstand. Life is safer that way.

“Discipline isn't about showing a dog who's boss; it's about taking
responsibility for a living creature you have brought into your world.”
Cesar Millan, Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog . . . and Your Life 

I come up with great names for dogs and cats. I bugged my husband about getting one. I played on his heartstrings that I need something to 'tend' to while he works part-time. It didn't work.  He knows me way too well. It's not only the plant-thing that puts an end to the conversation.  He knows that I would have the most difficult time, as he has with previous pets, saying "goodbye".  I am sensitive enough to not push the issue, not knowing how that feels and what he's gone through. I respect him enough to let him live with the memory of his beloved dogs, horses, and once, even a monkey.  (His mom loved animals!)

“And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.”
Mary Oliver, Dog Songs 

So, with great sorrow, but still not close to what my dear friend is feeling, I say goodbye to Chester. He was a great friend to my friend. He kept her company. He was there for her...always.

 “Heaven's the place where all the dogs you've ever loved come to greet you.”
Unknown Author 516
Love you, Chester, for all you meant to and all you did for your owner! We'll all miss you!

Big hug to you, Pal!