Begin Today!

Monday, you are the start of a brand new week to create, think, plan, and set goals for the next six weeks or so. It’s going to go quickly, time does that lately. When we have so much good to do, it goes faster than ever.

This week, I want to finish placing the wording in my very rough draft of the kid’s book. Then, Cartney can do her magic. I’m getting pretty excited, folks! Even in this fun situation, there are two ways to look at it. One way is, “OMG, it’s so much work! How will I ever finish? I don’t know how to do this! I can’t do it alone!” The other way? “OMG it’s so much work, but it’s so fun. The feeling you have working through the details, even the problems, lets you feel you can learn anything. Look at what you’ve learned through free training and other training you’ve paid for. You’ve done very well. Congratulations! Your independence is remarkable!”

See the difference? Our friend, William Shakespeare, said,

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Oh, no. I don’t mean friend friend. I mean fellow author. And what a body of work he had! And he possibly experienced the same angst, worry, confidence issues, and procrastination most authors do. I’m guessing we all do. That makes him a friend, experiencing some of the same things we all do. I’m glad to start this journey later in my life, as I’m much more confident than I was even ten years ago. The time is right!

I will have to pinch myself, when I see our names in print, and Cart’s ideas and mine a reality, something concrete from the abstraction of creativity. It’s going to be awesome.

In the meantime, it’s nearly time to go pick up the weeks groceries from Walmart. And I’ll have to do some prepping for dinner and breakfast later in the week. Maybe a little pick-up around the house, too. Mundane things but necessary. I’m watching the snowflakes fall randomly around the front yard. I don’t think it’ll accumulate before tomorrow morning. Good day to read by the fireplace or see more episodes of “The Politician.” It’s very good. I’m viewing it as scenes, and the writing is very good. It’s kind of quirky. Jessica Lange is fabulous, and the second season is full of surprises so far.

Thank you so much for reading, you know I appreciate it. Have a great day, stay warm, and don’t forget to be kind, thoughtful, courteous, and safe. See you again tomorrow!

Relaxing Sunday

I’m calling a no-work day at Raabe Ranch today. I mean, after we have our daily talk. No de-cluttering, no writing, maybe some placing text into the book pages, but nothing harder than that. It will be rainy and snowy tomorrow, so we’ll be staying in the house for sure. Today is a day for trying out our modern Adirondack chairs on the patio this afternoon. Photos later, they’re just as cool as the rocking chairs we got for the deck. Since the day we broke those in, it hasn’t been warm enough to be out for more than a few minutes.

The lady posted at the top of the header today is not me. Not yet, at least. She represents more than just overdone makeup. I hope my friends and I keep each other from such over-kill with the rouge, though. Girls, I have your back, do you have mine? I don’t mind looking quirky, since I do like weird jewelry and bright colors. And pearls always make a girl feel good. Almost royal, you know? Do young girls still wear them?

Hoping to get a restart on our Keto eating. The Babe is getting back to his sugar cravings, and that’s not good. Sometimes I cave in with him. So I purchased some additive that is supposed help you get into Keto more quickly. I thought if I could give him a jump start to being back on the consciousness he’d pick up again.

I also printed off some articles on high protein breakfasts when you’re sick of eggs. Six of them sound great. A smoothie with lots of fruit, milk or cream, yogurt, and some protein powder. Not sure if we’ll like protein powder or not, but I may sub the Ensure Vanilla no sugar protein drinks for the milk or cream. Then the protein would be there. It isn’t just for old people. Anyone dieting or trying to intake less may fine it’s a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Sorry, the last two didn’t have photos. The middle one is a yummy sounding Mocha Shake. The last one is a high protein mixture of cottage cheese, blueberries, a little honey and cinnamon. I could eat that for lunch and not be hungry until dinner.

I think when the Babe is doing yard work weekly and walking the dogs again, he’ll lose the weight. He, like most of us, gets discouraged when he doesn’t see progress. All I can do is encourage him. I can tell you, I feel much better after losing about 32 pounds as of this morning. I’m wondering if our doctor will say anything when I go for a six month check-in. He never comments when I gain, he’s been very kind that way. I was bullied as a kid, by an adult, and am sensitive about it. The adult that bullied me never comments when I lose weight, either. She makes remarks in public about the appearance of others. It’s unnecessary to do that. She should know better by now. It’s simply who she is. And that’s too bad. This person used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” What the heck happened?

Have a beautiful afternoon. I hope it’s sunny and warm where you are. It just does something for the soul, doesn’t it? Blessings on all of you. Be Safe. See you tomorrow!

P.S. Then there’s this:

WOW! For Those Who Dare:

Full Recipe

Tear Down Before Building?

There is much discussion in cities with older downtown areas, such as Omaha, about restoration or demolition of the old, beautiful building. Logic tells us those old buildings have been vacant for twenty years or so. The utilities have been long turned off. Sentiment tells us our Grandpa Louie had a textile business here, our Aunt Susie had a bakery here, Dad’s cousin had a hardware store there. Restoration is wonderful, but at what price? Plumbing and electrical issues must be brought up to current code in refurbished properties. Safety issues abound, accomodations for handicapped folks is the law now. Sometimes, the only solution is to demo it and start new. The bricks can be cleaned and reused. They’ll go well on a garden walk in your yard. The memory will still be there. In your heart and mind.

That said, those of us who want better lives, better conditions, better feelings about ourselves, we must also decide; build on what you have, or tear down all the old messages, training, feelings, negative input, inability to put ourselves first. It’s a matter of undoing all the things which have held us back all these years. It’s uncomfortable. It’s a big change. You must resolve those feelings to succeed at changing what’s not comfortable in your life. If you want to write, you must change time wasting procrastination into solid, productive work. It’s up to you. It’s hard. Dad always told us the “right thing is always the hard thing to do”.

A day or so ago, I was inspired by my daily meditation and wrote about it in the blog from April 15, 2021, here. A bit later, I noticed something I wrote last summer was shared on someone else’s blog/Flip (probably something new to learn!) and guess what I saw? April 15, 2020; a whole different perspective on the same reading. I was blown away!

Last year, I was getting ready to work with a book coach. I did that for several months and decided the story I had up to over 50K words wasn’t the story I could tell. It was too long. Too many characters. I hope to revisit that novel again and make a series out of it. Tell the story the walls of the house can tell, but do it in a chronological order. The characters may all be in the story. It’s about a family with much dysfunction, codependency, and alcoholism. I believe I can salvage the idea of “These Walls DO Talk”.

However, now I’m many chapters into a cleaner way to tell Katie’s story. It’s about her life from age 18 to maybe 45. It’s much better writing. I hoped to finish the “These Walls DO Talk,” novel last year. Publish in September. I’m humbled by what I had to do differently. That’s why the coach was such a good idea. Sam Tyler has a business coaching. She also writes herself. Check out her website, too!

And here I am, a year later, writing a children’s book, and getting ready to put the artwork of Cartney McGuigan into the draft copy and edit my words down. Where Cartney can show the story with her drawings, I will edit out the words. It’s pretty different from where I thought I’d be last year. It’s a lot of work, yes, and it’s lots of learning to keep me living and improving life.

Let’s see each other again tomorrow, ok? I appreciate your time today and hope you have something fun happen this afternoon. I’m not going to Gavin’s game today, my body just aches too much already to be in the damp, chilly weather. I hate missing it, but I’ll pay all week if I go. Go Gavin! Win that double-header!

Healing and Forgiveness

Sometimes, I think life is a series of wounds from paper-cuts to severe injuries. We are constantly hurting, then healing. If you remain unhealed from what life gives you, you are wounded forever. Yes, forgiveness is hard, and they don’t deserve it, but you do. Unforgiveness makes you hard and jaded. For me, I’d rather be gentle and positive. It takes years off your heart and soul.

All the recovery programs stress making amends with those you’ve hurt. Only one of three people who hurt me because of their addictions, and that came very early in his recovery. He accurately depicted certain manipulations he used and apologized. I still thank God for that. I have a best friend because of that. The other two people haven’t recovered enough life to do that. I was writing about it and I healed just because I finally admitted how damaged I was by their situations. It was an amazing feeling once it happened. All these years, I thought their disrespect, gas-lighting, lies, secrets, and deceit did not affect me. I was wrong.

In my life, I’m able to submerge myself into creating. With words, fabric, thread, paint, imagination, pen and ink, whatever media speaks to me for that project. It makes me happy, and with the creativity, you can take those wounds and heal them powerfully. How the human mind and soul work together is another amazing journey. And I know I healed very painful things through that collaboration.

The last 25 years of my life have been everything I always wanted and more. The Babe appeared in my life as I was healing from not only a bad relationship of three years; and from a ground-breaking spine surgery that removed a tumor from my spine and enabled me to walk again. Both were huge obstacles in my early 40s. The wait for a real relationship was over. I slowly let my walls of protection crumble. I was loved and more able to love. My hurts gradually healed, one by one. I smiled more. I laughed every day. I gained confidence. I don’t have to question everything. I can trust.

Am I envious of the people who figured out all this stuff in their twenties? Maybe, a little. I choose to believe all the hard things I’ve survived helped make me who I am today. Yes, I’m strong but gentle. I’m not afraid to fail. I have no regrets. I refuse to beat myself up. I’ve come to terms with the people who seriously wronged me. I pray for them, even. Why? Because “they know not what they did.” Once they learn better, they become responsible for that behavior. God will sort it all out. Not my job.

We are all constantly healing and becoming whole. We have more to bring to relationships, life, and our passions. Can you imagine a world like this? We can all make our part of it like this. The more healthy the relationships and lives are, the more we heal. Like life itself, it is a continuing process. Let’s continue on our journeys, feeling the progress we’re making. Thanks for being here today. It’s a cloudy, chilly day, perfect for more de-cluttering. Followed by Netflix’s, The Politician, with Jessica Lange. She’s the best. Take care, and I’ll see you tomorrow. Be Kind. Be Courteous.

Thursday Morning

Well, we’ve had our first game of catch here at Raabe Ranch. Goldie might calm down for a little while. I want to be as happy as our yellow lab. It’s my life’s goal, a worthy one, I believe. She loves a schedule. She loves to play. She loves her people. She loves her food. She loves to play. What else could there be? I believe she is living her doggie life to the max. Life is so good.

I know many folks have cats, I’m just not a cat person. We had feral cats all over the neighborhood when I was a kid. A family had them, and they shrieked constantly. I disliked that sound, especially in the middle of a hot, August night. The stuff nightmares were made of. It sounds kind of heathen now, but when I was a kid, people let their dogs loose to roam the neighborhoods. People rarely went to the Vet with their pets, it cost a lot of money most folks didn’t have. They were lucky to go to the doctor. And then they only went when they were sick. Forget about the dentist. We went, but did not have dental insurance.

Life was a lot different then. We had so much less than we do now. As people and as a country. People worked hard. Our worlds were pretty small, too. Telephone calls via long distance were costly. Most people had party lines for their home telephones. It was cheaper. Innovation in technology has been a godsend in some ways; in others, not so much. We know every world event within a very short period of time. Whether the reporting is accurate or not is a whole other topic. Journalism had integrity and meaning. Now, it may be a way of nabbing the market, making a name for yourself, or a cruel joke. We need to be able to trust what we hear. Political or not.

Another saying from my daily meditation book:

Whatever you can do, or think you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. – Goethe

Any creative endeavor involves some boldness. In the 1960s, people believed artists would all starve. You can’t live on what your writing would generate. A girl can’t be an engineer, architect, mechanic? All these are proven false in this century. We were headed that direction. It’s now recognized how important the Arts are in human development and our daily lives. Listening to music calms babies. Bright colors stimulate the mind. Changing your life can do both.

Dumping our bad habits, time wasters, and procrastination are all positive actions towards your genius, power, and magic. Inertia is overcome by following our visions, dreams, and plans. Just because you’ve never done this before doesn’t mean you can’t do it! Our dreams can come true. Never did I think I’d actually get this close to doing something I’ve always wanted to do. A few years ago, I just started. Learned by doing. And I’m getting there!

Three years, eh? No wonder people think we’re weird. Never thought of it that way. Cauliflower becoming pizza? Yes, Mama’s Pizza in Omaha, Nebraska has a delicious cauliflower crust. Make your days fly by. Fly on the wings of your aspirations. Why didn’t they tell us the cage wasn’t locked? Better yet, why didn’t we think to ask if it was or not? We’ve imprisoned our own creative spirit sometimes. Let’s get brave and release it. You were indeed, meant to fly!

Thank you for reading today. I am truly grateful you do. Please consider putting your email address and name for some future goodies. You can only receive them via e-mail, so don’t miss out on the fun we’re about to have!

“Cartney! We have to talk! I have this idea . . . ” Time to contact my artist. Have a beautiful day. Go read a book, play a tune, something wonderful. See you tomorrow!

Wednesday Already?

What a great creative week it is. Of course, most of the progress happened in my mind, but progress is progress, especially for an author. My heart is so happy, and it’s awesome when we feel this way, right? Oh, to figure out what helps us feel this way. What is it?

I’m so lucky to have the Babe. I’m still smitten after all these years. We spent the rare day together yesterday, and it was very nice. He worked in the yard with the puppies. They loved being outside nearly all day. He had his hearing tested at the VA late in the day. New hearing aids to come. I hope this helps him know more of what goes on around him. Hearing loss is very isolating. If I could pick one to lose, I suppose it’d be hearing. Seeing would be horrible. My mom felt this way and ended up losing both senses. It’s very sad. And more isolating. We sat in our new rocking chairs on the deck. It was perfect. Blessed and grateful.

We are just on the cusp of Spring. Spring is my favorite until Fall comes. Even though it’s freezing here, I don’t think I’d want to move away and not have four seasons. My arthritis would thank me, but it just wouldn’t be home, you know? So it makes me feel happiness to have four seasons. Seriously. What else?

Discovering my truth over the last 25 years has been very freeing. I’ve had to admit to a lot of things I wish I hadn’t done. The things I’m glad I did stand on their own. Getting divorced. Finishing my education. Learning how to create opportunities. If you pay attention, they give us hints about which path we should follow. I’m grateful to be aware of those hints. It makes me happy I’m taking calculated risks and succeeding. Who are they? God and maybe a white-haired guardian angel or two. My medical history alone would scare an Archangel. 

I’m so glad “Why not?” has entered my mind. Do what no one has done before. Why not? If I were to be stuck at “Why?” it would be too easy to not take any risk. Nothing will be as scary in my life as two things: When my child drowned (something I’d always feared would happen); and when I filed for divorce with no recent work experience and being home with my kids for 11 years. My mom was pretty mad at me for divorcing. I would not have my kids grow up in an unhappy house, with a very unhappy Mom. It worked. And I thank God for showing me the way.

I’m especially glad to have waited for someone to love me. Just as I am. The Babe has never felt threatened by my success, or that I earned more money than he did. In his best Sam Elliott voice, he said, “Sweetheart, that doesn’t bother me a bit.” What an authentic man. Not threatened. Supportive. Truly wanting what I think is best for me. So glad to be supported like this. If I survive him, it will be such an enormous loss. A huge empty spot in my life. I vow to enjoy every day we have. Some days aren’t the greatest. We cheer each other up if needed. I’m learning about many volunteer opportunities which could fill my time should the worst happen. I do better when in a crisis when I’m helping others. Coping mechanism. We know the one left will survive. It doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. We know. Enjoy your today’s. 

My header photo today is actual proof you can grow celery in your home, in a little water (I change it every day). The Babe laughs at me sometimes. Heck, sometimes I laugh at myself. I read it would work, so I tried it. It’s actually kind of fun. Let the little kids do this. They’ll learn something. And since we’re still doing KETO dieting, Cream Cheese stuffed celery is a great snack for us. Protein and veggies. What a combination! We’ll have a harvest party when the time is right. Make your own fun. It makes me happy.

We’re Going for Feeding Orioles This Summer. I’ve Seen Some Around Before. Trying New Stuff Makes Me Happy!

I’ve started reading “A Dream About Lightening Bugs,” by Ben Folds. Mr. Folds is an American singer-songwriter and he’s telling his story. It’s all about stories. They make me happy, too. Even if they’re sad, this story is not sad. He must be a wonderful, creative, empathetic person. It’ll be a pleasant afternoon, too chilly to sit outside. The dogs are napping. I love when they do that, too. I get more accomplished. I’m looking forward to seeing our friends tonight at dinner. We have such a fun time. Wednesdays are fun. They make me happy, too.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate it. I’ll have a cover to introduce our book soon. It’s coming. That makes me happy! Have a beautiful rest of Wednesday and we’ll see each other tomorrow. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Fair. Life might not be, but you can! Blessings, friends. Be careful.

Ideas Explosion

Either it’s the pleasant weather or something is happening in my brain right now. We’re involved with events coming to the VFW Post in the next couple months and beyond, and my writing is waiting, along with my setting out the kids’ book, and I decided I need to make an extensive list. I need to write everything that occurs to me in this flurry of creative ideas. I need to listen to my brain, as it’s speaking what’s in my heart right now. It’s helping to define what I want to do with my life at this point. I love it. I will not question it, just let it flow and simmer.

It was too chilly to sit on the deck in our new chairs last night. Hopefully, we’ll catch some new chair time today. Yes, we’ll make it happen. Today is also another Carol Gino Zoom meeting which I’m going to watch. No title yet, but it’s a series about finding your soul’s purpose. I’m going to take a stab at writing books to help people, kids and adults, deal with life’s hard situations.

The header photo today is the beautiful glass blown work of Dale Chihuly. He is an American sculptor and has a similar display at Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum. I love the color, the light, and everything with it. I could stare at it for a long time. It gives me joy. I wear bright colors most of the time, because they’re happy. I want to spend my life that way. Yes, I have had many losses, grave situations, and a host of terrible events in life. I cannot let them weigh my soul down. God’s been too good to me to not thank him every day for the blessings. To share a friendly attitude with the world. I think my brain, with all of its ideas this week, may even reflect this beautiful photo. I can only hope. Of course I’ll share. We’ll figure it out together.

We had a brief break on the sunny deck in our new rocking chairs. While rocking, my mind went back many, many years. 1971, 1975, and 1979, and rocking my babies. I loved doing that. In the middle of the night, I recall holding them after they were asleep, just listening to them breathe. That is truly a sacred time, between a Mother and child. To think of everything they both go through during pregnancy and childbirth, it’s amazing what God has created. I haven’t had a rocker for years. I plan to spend many hours rocking, reading, doing crafts, and enjoying the scenery. It feels like a vacation when we sit there. God has been so good to us. Yes, we both have done a lifetime of hard work, and we are nothing but grateful.

Enjoy the rest of your day. Get outside if possible. Look at the sky, the wonder of the earth, and feel the sun on your face. We’re lucky to have such a beautiful planet. Full of possibilities. And full of goodness, despite all the bad things that go on. You have to look for it. And create more of it. Create your own. Make it a wonderful world. Thank you for reading, I’m headed to the patio. See you tomorrow!

April 12, 1982

It’s the 39th anniversary of my first day at work, my first full time paying job since 1970. It was my first day of being the breadwinner. Sure, the court awarded child support. It was a paltry amount, $133.33 per child. I had three, ages 10, 7, and 3. I went headlong into the unknown. At $5.50 an hour, (minimum wage), I was determined to work, continue going to school for a Medical Secretary certification, and take business classes. It was a whole new world.

I remember it well; I was about to turn 30, just divorced, and gaining confidence in myself and my new life. Things were good. Later in the month, the divorce would be granted, and we would have six months to reconcile. Not a chance, I’d had enough. I just couldn’t stay with someone who had no goals, plans, dreams, for his life. He thought I should be the same. I’ve never looked back. True story. No regrets, ever.

There would be months of near despair, financial disaster, and deep lonliness, but never regretted the divorce. I’m sure it was harder than the kids acted like, but they seemed happy and close. They live in three separate cities now, and have grown apart. I’m sad about that, but can’t fix it. Life has improved so much every year, I cannot believe it. Our volunteering at the VFW Post is rewarding. We are leading the Community Outreach efforts, and people are responding enthusiastically. People want to help. It’s awesome to see.

Today, I met the Babe at the Post and we went to a feed store near the VFW. They had some Amish outdoor furniture that was made from composite boards. They are guaranteed (color included) for 20 years. That could be the rest of our lives! Wow! The kids may have something of value to fight over after all! Get your names on the list for sure!

As soon as it’s warm enough in the mornings, it’ll be coffee on the deck, every chance we get. We did that last year, skipping the “news” coverage, and felt great. We’d sit out until the sun cleared the trees, then it was time to get ready for the day. We loved it. Look forward to it again.

It’s late in the day again for a Blog, but it couldn’t be helped. The Babe and I have a philosophy. Might as well spend every minute possible with each other, we never know when it could end. Suddenly. Tragically. That’s life. Especially now.

I’ll be looking at the Geraniums in the next couple weeks. We have a nursery in Gretna called “Sun Valley Nursery.” They specialize in Geraniums you cannot believe, and Pointsettias at Christmas time. I’ve not gone at Christmas, as the Pointsettia is poisonous to dogs. Last year, the Geraniums sold out before I went. Not this year! I’m dreaming of pretty flowers.

I hope you have a beautiful day today. The earth is so beautiful this time of year. Enjoy your evening, thanks for reading, and be kind! It’s the decent thing to be. See you tomorrow!

About Last Night . . .

A night the Babe and I were waiting for since early December 2020 finally happened. To hear TOGETHER, Billy McGuigan’s live performance of his COVID album released a few months ago. The music is reviewed here. The live performance? It was fabulous. Although I’d listened a hundred or more times (yes, I do that with music I love), seeing Billy McGuigan live is always a top-notch experience. Kevin Klimowski, a fan from Des Moines, and I sat near each other and and commented on how good they sound recorded and in person as well. Boys and girls, that’s the sign of a group of REAL musicians. Billy doesn’t mess around. They will never let the music die.

Although I’ve been a Billy and brothers’ fan for a long time, we are still seeing new and exciting things at any function these guys play. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Carly Frolio’s beautiful voice. She sings like an angel and accompanies Billy well. Unfortunately, we missed the Parking Lot Concerts last summer at the Omaha Community Playhouse. If Carly sang there, we missed it. Sorry! Much like her fellow band mates, she has many creative skills, including photography.

In addition to the band, something else new was students from McGuigan Arts Academy as ushers, a wealth of information, and front row fans. Our little girl usher informed us we “could take all the pictures we wanted of Billy McGuigan.” Thank you, honey. She told Kimberly Faith Hickman, “Now, I’m an usher,” before this bespectacled, braided, confident little girl bounced down the aisle, intent on mission completion.” She found our seats with the precision of a soldier on a mission. She waved us over, pointed, and said, “Enjoy the show.” Mission completed, young lady!

All of the children sat in the first row after helping introduce Billy. They all looked thrilled to death. Much like the adults who frequent his shows, they jumped to their feet and danced their hearts out. A new generation of McGuigan’s Minions. Who knew? The Arts Academy is doing great things. Some kids were backstage hands. What a great thing! Hands on learning. Lucky, lucky kids.

Billy’s son, Ciaran McGuigan keeps coming more into his own more and more as a guitar player. Max Meyer, is a lead guitar player, and Ciaran’s teacher. Max does great things with a guitar you have only heard about with the likes of Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. Love listening to you, Max! We even heard him singing, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” I loved the Beach Boys when I was a kid! You evoked some great memories!

Matthew McGuigan is a favorite, too. He is always consistent, steady, and a great vocal back up. He was mentioned as turning 40 yesterday, and with his second COVID vaccine, he took it all in stride. Go Matthew! This is a banner year for you, too! He and brother Ryan McGuigan stayed pretty much in the background Saturday night. It was Billy’s night. And he rocked it. The love of family really stands out with this group. They are their own family! And the fans, we complete that family. Kate Whitecotton organizes the whole lot, and it comes off without a hitch every time. She’s magical!

I keep wondering what else these guys can do that’s not been done before? A whole bunch, all the talents considered. We will be there, Billy, Ryan, and Matthew. We have heard the life story, and we’re glad you’ve used your experiences for good. Not just your good, but for ours, too. Billy started out playing Buddy Holly at the Omaha Community Playhouse. And the rest is history. He is nowhere near done. At 46, he has at least 30 more years of performing ahead of him. He already knows he can do a Sinatra-Buble-Connick, Jr., type of show. And he killed it! When you can’t jump anymore, when you may have trouble reaching for the strings on your guitar anymore, you can croon. Until then, though, feel free to share your life, thoughts and feelings with your family from Bellevue, Omaha, Gretna, Elkhorn, and the surrounding areas. You guys are home with us, and we couldn’t be prouder. You will tend the music and keep it alive as long as we need it. And you. The Best is Yet to Come!

Preach it, Sistah! (Or Don’t!)

I remember growing up, Mom would often go on tirades about different things. She still does. By now, we all know she hates the telephone. She hates interruptions. She hates Telemarketers. She hates anyone interrupting her day. She hates the answering machine. She hates the “money mongers” on PBS. She hates reruns of Julia Child. She hates old people. She hates old men. She hates asking for help. She hates not having help. She believes in her heart it’s venting. Oh Mom. No. It’s bitching. What’s happening that’s good?

God, please help me to not do that. It’s such a blessing when you visit with another human who can tell you what they love. Especially when you repeat it multiple times a year. No, she won’t change. My brothers and I have to cope with the negativity. Now, if something is truly wrong, we respond quickly. It’s hard to decipher actual issues from complaining. We all know plenty of people who are negative. Usually negativity comes from fear. Fear of what could happen. But it hasn’t yet. Too much time in your own head can make a lot of fear and negativity surface. Old habits die hard. Fear makes us hold on to them. Just because we’ve always done it “this way.”

How is that? Like our elders? All politicians are crooks. Insurance companies are all scammers. No one can touch my remote control. I don’t even use it. You’ll mess up the tv. Leave it alone. I’ll wait until someone comes over to ask about the dripping faucet. “You never would let me hold you when you were a baby.” Sorry, Mom. I have no explanation for you about that. I was a baby!

All I can say is this. Rather than complaining about everything under the sun that’s ever happened, try kindness, instead. We all respond more to kindness than we do to barrages of constant complaints, warranted or not. We can direct the conversation in a more positive direction. We can all try that. If I ask you how you are, it sets a better mood to say, “I’m grateful to have woke up today,” rather than, “Well, I’m still here.” We could preach to the other person. Or we could respond with our own positivity instead. If they insist on doom and gloom, we have to let them be. When it affects us, we can withdraw from the conversation. Steer it elsewhere. For your sake. If they persist, cut your visit short. Don’t carry their gloom with you. Pray for them. It’s the gracious thing to do.

As a kid, I thought I was responsible for cheering Mom up. It did no good. I didn’t realize I thought this way until I felt so sorry for her when no one but me and my family were present for holiday dinners. She’d always dreamed we’d all have spouses and tons of kids. She had the perfect dining room, table, and chairs for it. It never happened. My presence didn’t matter. It was her ideal to handle, not mine.

During the “lean years” I was a single mom, I started consciously finding something to be glad about, especially if the car broke down, the water main broke in the dead of winter, the dryer stopped working, you know what I mean. You live through those things. It’s not convenient, but you make it through somehow. Every unfamiliar noise in an old car, you can bet will turn into something. Luckily, Dad taught me to listen to the noises, try to figure out where they came from, and to describe them to the mechanic. In later years, I had a great garage to go to. West Center Automotive, on 90 & Center, before HyVee built there. Jim was his name. The kids had older cars, too. Sometimes, it’d be an expensive repair. I’d call to see if the car was ready.

Jim would ask, “Are you sitting down?”

I’d say, “Is there a comma in the amount?”

He’d laugh and tell me the amount.

I’d always say, “That’s not as bad as it could be.”

He knew my situation, and I had a lot of trust in him and his sons, who worked for him. A pleasant exchange with another person lightened my load. Had it been otherwise, I would have feared everything that “might” happen. I just don’t want to live that way. It’s not to say I don’t expect some things. I do. I just don’t let it ruin my day. Things happen. To everyone. Not just us.

If, through all the negativity we hear all day, you have had enough, it’s time to do the one thing we all can do. That’s to display a live-and-let-live attitude. You’ll feel calmer, centered, more positive, and people will enjoy your company. Most things are none of our business. I want the loudest sermons to be how we live our lives at the Home Office, here in Gretna, Nebraska. I’ll pray we all get there. Join me.

Thanks for reading today. We’ll see you again tomorrow, and we’ll be grateful to God for waking us up again. Life is so full of wonderful things! Let’s focus on what goes on around us. Approach life with gratitude, kindness, humility, and calmness. You’ll see a tremendous change in everything. Be Safe out there!