Fab Friday

The events of the week are disturbing. Defunding the police. And now, cancellation of LIVE PD, COPS, and who knows what else. The kicker? No guns for the old Looney Tunes cartoons. We know Elmer Fudd used his to hunt silly wabbits. We know Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote aren’t socially correct characters. Come on, people. The straw that broke the camel’s back is the fact that Legos will no longer make police officer Legos. And, our beloved Paw Patrol may omit their police character Why? Because of all this anti police rhetoric. Yes, there are very bad cops. There are very good cops also. and so on, including people, clergy, teachers, everyone. I am sickened by this approach.

I have also said for a long time, the confederate monuments should be viewed not as homage to folk heroes but of the very ugly time in the history of this country where we did not live up to what we were supposed to be about. I think our reminder to ourselves is a great motivator to keep us on the up and up. Apparently, no one else feels this way. I hate slavery. I despise the very idea of it. And of brutality towards one group of people over another. I do not know why or how this has been such a constant throughout time. It is in the sins of the world, the wrongdoings of those before us that lingers. I cannot believe that is what this nation is about. There are too many good people of all kinds who make living in this world country worth it.

So changing cartoon characters and omitting certain occupations of imaginary characters is in order? Can’t you see how ridiculous this is? I believe the saving of America is at work in many levels. One is the family. One is the school system, including libraries. One is the social aspect, what kids do in their spare time. One is belief in something larger than yourself, religion or faith, volunteering, helping.

I do not believe you need two parents if one is sexually abusive, if one is addicted and a danger to the family, if one is a pot-stirrer and verbally abusive, if one is a serial cheater, if one is . . . I think you know where this is going. I was a single parent and raised my kids alone from ages 3, 7, and 10. Their father did not participate too much in their lives at the time. They all turned into hard working people. They are good to their communities, their partners, and children. And their mom. It happens a lot.

Single parents who are committed to the job of raising their kids well can do the job. There is a lot of bad press about us. I was denied renting some places because I was not married. That was wrong, and is no longer lawful. If I would have had one less child, or no dog, it would have been ok. Nothing I could do about it in 1985. I earned too much to qualify for assistance, so we had to punt. One year later, the owner decided they wanted to move back into their house, and we were unceremoniously dumped from the dwelling. I was able to buy a house on my own then. Good thing.

The Key Lies in Education

Education. I know schools aren’t all the same. I believe there are some very, very good teachers who know how desperately urban children of any race need a good education. They are educated not only by book learning but how they are treated. They deserve attention and time. I know teachers are overworked, and at the same time, the kids are hungry for what they have to share. I believe school plays a huge part in how the kids view the world and their surroundings.

Even being from a two parent family, most people my age didn’t have their dads active in their lives. Fathers used to be the providers or head of the family, and mothers were the heart of the family, and traditionally did all the hard work in raising children. This has probably only changed significantly in the past twenty to thirty years. As it should have. Yes, we might have done better in life with a little more Dad time, but we weren’t lacking in basic human decency.

Socially, most people traditionally believed in good vs. bad behaviors. It doesn’t depend on two parents to be taught this. A father can reinforce what a mother teaches, and vice versa, but most people traditionally grew up knowing what was right vs. wrong. If you were mean to a kid for no reason, you learned that was not the way to be. Bullying has morphed into many forms over the years, and it is still present in the world. Bullies often have parents who are bullies in one way or another. The big kid may emulate his big dad and pick on little kids who can’t fight back. That one has been around since Adam and Eve. The majority of kids know it’s wrong. Hopefully, the team and the class and the workplace each does their part to reinforce what is right. I have yet to find a cure for grown women bullying one another. It happens and I am adamantly opposed to that as well.

Another way right and wrong are taught and help them become second nature is a Church of some kind. Learning about God as you know Him is important. The belief in something bigger than ourselves keeps our egos in check and helps us learn what we are here for. To give thanks to God for the beauty of our world, for our families, and for our schools. None of these are perfect, and if a person is ever in danger, we hope these institutions can rise up to help. It is the right thing to do.

If a child can play sports, school is an ideal place to do that. Hopefully, there are enough funds to fully fund the equipment and coaches. Teamwork is vital in our worlds whether it be on the field or in the office. You learn about developing strengths and respecting the strengths your teammates and opponents have. Respect is a by product of all that hard work. These things are part of what I admire about the coach for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Scott Frost. Scott Frost was the product of a very Christian based coach, Tom Osborne. Scott is coaching and reinforcing the rules and moral character concerning team membership, which has been missing for a long time. Back to the basics, as I believe we, in America, have to do.

My children weren’t able to play sports because I couldn’t afford them to. I regret that, but they learned in other ways. Early work habits were established to buy their cars. They had to do it and insure them. I was not going to provide it for them. I couldn’t afford that either. They learned how to be responsible, which I believe a lot of people, young and not so young, might need to learn. Wouldn’t hurt to make sure your kids or nephews and nieces understand what that is.

The environment around us is rich with opportunities to help our youth learn the good way to grow in life. We are all responsible for helping our fellow humans do so. If we do not, I shudder to think what will happen. Take time today. Read a book with your grandchildren. Talk about it. Discuss bullying. Especially if your child is a bully. And don’t let your babies grow up to be racist bullies to the innocent people of color who are truly trying to work towards a better life. We all need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Ridding the world of a Paw Patrol character won’t help. Involvement will. Constructive involvement. Riots don’t help anyone. Do some good today.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time so much. I will be back tomorrow, and hope you are, too.

Terrific Tuesday

A Dance. Not a Light Switch.

Almost all of us have been in situations we don’t want to be in. Some of us are expert at saying, “This is not what I want, I’m gone,” and leave. And never come back. We protect ourselves and know we deserve better. We don’t feel guilty, we feel appropriately balanced.

Others of us are so dependent on others, we may ask our kids if we can go see our friends today. We’re the adult! You don’t need their approval! If you ask permission of your mate, that’s not good, in my opinion. If you’re checking about the family calendar that’s different, but know you’re coordinating schedules, not asking permission. Permission to me is requested of a higher up, like a boss. Not an equal partner, spouse, or friend. Yet, there are many who always seek permission, as if they are not able to make their own decisions.

Still others of are still learning about these things. We know when something is uncomfortable, but we are more called to duty than anything. It could be this way for dealing with an aging parent. We make statements that go unheard, simply because another person has never acknowledged or honored our boundaries. They were the bully and manipulated you into doing what they wanted. They cannot do that once we learn our worth. It is more like a dance, when we are still dealing with those troublesome personalities who bullied and bossed us around. They become frustrated at not getting their way, and we may feel badly for saying, “No.” But we have set out boundary. They are trying to bully their way across it. “No” reinforces it well. They become more uncomfortable and leave us alone. Nothing to feel bad about. You were firm. It’s a victory! A dance, not a lightswitch. And it’s ok. You’re learning. You’ll also learn not to feel guilty.

Yes. First Thoughts. Yes!

A whole new world opens up for a person who learns to stop accepting second thoughts (or no thoughts) and “Maybes” as answers to invitations. I used to accept those from people. From people I asked to do thing, to go places, invitations to events in my life. There is no silence as long as the wait after someone asks a question only to be met with, “Well, I’m not sure, maybe.” Or just met with more silence. Like your question doesn’t exist. Like you don’t exist. They deserve a “Yes” or a “No.”

It is tricky to learn these new things. I’ve been working on it all for about forty years. I’m no longer brainwashed. I’m no longer feeling second best. I’m no longer feeling ignored. I will only spend time with people who want to be in my life. No second bests. Not any more.

And some people think I’ve changed. Some people think I’m terrible. I have changed. I no longer sell myself short. I no longer think I don’t deserve good treatment. It’s been a long and winding road. There is always some old programming left you hear once in awhile. That you’re boasting if you stand up for yourself. That you have an inflated ego. Blah, blah, blah. Not true. Not anymore.

And it is exhilarating!

In the novel I’m writing, I’m examining a character who learned to stand up for herself, for what is right, and has learned to speak up, despite the cold shoulder and bullying by her family. It’s lonely. But she becomes used to it. And she realizes the people who treated her the worst were the ones she loved the most because they were family. She also learns you can select a family who accept you for who you are, who support you and your dreams, and who treat you well. She sees where she started the journey and still has a few triggers with certain words and situations. It’s a gift she gave herself. And it keeps giving to her and those who love her.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. I will see you here again tomorrow. You know I’ll be here!

Timely Tuesday

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all. A lot of people are upset everything is cancelled today. Many people celebrate the day simply as a day to party. I’m not upset that part is cancelled. What I feel badly about are places like our VFW who have a dinner today to help pay for contributions to help fellow Veterans. They, like many others, cooked a LOT of corned beef today to sell dinners. They can freeze and use it later, so it’s not as if it is wasted. For those who are missing non-profits events today, think about a donation anyway. The economy is going to feel pinched enough over the coming months.

Union Pizza and Sports Bar, on 156 & Maple is staying open from 11 a.m to 8 p.m. as a call ahead carry out restaurant or delivery through Grub Hub, 402-614-2755. They have the best cook in the world, my Frankie! I really hope he doesn’t experience an interruption in his income, not after having the loss of his home last fall in the apartment fire. He isn’t the only restaurant worker who needs his income. Waitstaff with no tips will be hit hard. Just call ahead and see if your favorite place is taking orders for pick up or delivery. Let’s help each other get through this. I believe local places like Union need a little more help than corporate franchises. Thank you, Omaha!

I’m feeling like I need to tell you a little more about why I chose the topic of my book. It is about generational alcoholism, dysfunctionalism, and the misconceptions that go along with it all. It sounds like a total downer, doesn’t it? Well, on the surface, yes it is. The reason I’m telling the story is to point out these three things affect everyone in the family, not just the people who are active alcoholics, drug addicts, or abusers. People can rise above what seems like a family curse and can lead functional lives. They are perhaps black sheep of the family (contrary to popular belief of the alcoholic being the black sheep) who often wonder if they were adopted or feel like they don’t belong with the other members of the family. I did for a long time and it had nothing with me being the only girl.

It had to do with taking or leaving the actual act of consuming alcohol or drugs. This act AND your behavior while you do it. And after you do it. If you become angry and try to pick a fight when you drink, along with feeling sorry for yourself, then you probably have a problem. Alcohol is a depressant, and combined with a depressed person, the result is never good. If you can take it or leave it, if you are happy and outgoing normally and continue that way, you probably don’t have a problem. A lot is based on family history, genetics, social influences, and your own reaction to the substance whatever it is. Can you have none or one and be finished? Does it influence you negatively? Are you agrumentative while drinking? Do you get into physical fights when you drink? You probably want to change those results but may not know how. There is help, you just have to ask for it.

Changing a habit is hard. Changing a generational family curse is very hard. This is what my book is about. The good, the bad, and some of the ugly. But in the end, many, many people from my character Katie Ray’s family work on overcoming how the family curse has affected them. It’s liberating, exciting, and earth shattering to those who choose a different way. It can be lonely, too. Until you find some friends who think like you do, that there has to be more, something different. I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s not. I’m saying it’s worth it. It was worth it for me to hold on for a person who thought having a relationship and a marriage as equal partners was the right thing to do. It pays to think differently and hold on for what you believe in.

As usual, I thank you for taking time during this age of self-quarantining and homeschooling to read my blog. If you’re a mom at home with kids, I envy you. Yes, the happiest time of my life (except for right now) was when my kids were young and at home. We always found something to do. If you’re an older person alone, get involved with the world around you. We all go through times of alone-ness, loneliness, and even feeling forgotten. Let your people know how you feel about them. What you do with those feelings maps the rest of your world and life. Be involved with where you journey. Take an adventure despite others leaving you out of theirs. You’ll find other like minded souls. Baby steps. We’ll all get there.

See you tomorrow, I’ll be here!

It absolutely is! Join me as I write mine!

Another Sunday in the Suburbs

It’s almost noon in Gretna, NE. We’ve had a full morning, and are getting ready for the crew we hired to come paint tomorrow. When we first moved in three years ago, the Babe painted the living room, kitchen, two small bedrooms we use for studio/office space, and our bathroom. ReBath made a tiny ugly shower into a beautiful thing. It’s all handicap ready for when the time comes, if it does. The lady that built the house had it constructed that way. Mostly all door handles instead of doorknobs. Wonderful for us arthritics! The one door with a knob is leading to the deck, and I struggle with it. But it’s a good test of what you’ve got or not.

So builders grade paint is nothing but a dirt magnet. We had the kitchen and living room share a color called “Mimosa” on a couple walls. The others are neutral. My studio/office is my favorite color – Yellow. It’s happy, bright, and makes me think of sunshine. The Babe’s office is a smoky purple, grey in nature. We brought the paint from the old house, didn’t get the guest room painted before we sold, and we liked the color. The guest level is professionally finished by Thrasher, I believe. It’s nice. The colors are very neutral and clean.

Our colors are getting a bit crazy, but who cares? We’ll have a Caribbean Blue bedroom, with a darker accent wall. The laundry room will be neutral, one accent wall grey in the living room, and the extra bathroom will be a delightful Grape color. It should be fun, and I’ll be glad when we get the carpets cleaned. We’ll be ready for spring. And for the puppy to be spayed. She’ll be six months old on Valentine’s Day. What a gift! A brown eyed yellow lab! Love her to pieces.

Character cards. Opening scene card.

Thanks to Sam, my wonderful editor, I have moved the whole story around. The family home is the scene, and Katie is my main character. An only girl in a family of boys. Seven of them! Wow, I can relate, but I only have three brothers. Some days, that was way too many. She is the dependable one, and most of the brothers are afflicted by the disease of the family – alcoholism. It’s not just a matter of drinking too much. It’s a mindset of excesses, blame, secrets, lies, and abusive behavior. Katie has broken free from the curse. She recounts how lonely that has been, but is glad she learned these lessons, and had a sixth sense about the whole lifestyle. Nothing was ever made better by having a beer/glass of wine/shot/highball or whatever. Nothing was ever made better by “needing” a drink. Society has fed the dragon, and only now can Katie see how she has been blessed.

This family is a conglomoration of many I have known, observed, and read about through the years. People end up in some terrible situations because of their vices. I know I have. I have made my worst relationship mistakes because I was lonely. That is the God’s honest truth. Parts of Katie are me, other parts are not. For the record, I consume alcohol. It has never controlled my life. I don’t need it. I won’t drink if I’m upset, need to make a coherent decision, have someone depending on me. I can have fun and not get in “fights” if I drink. All in all, not a big deal.

As I forward to my manuscript, wish me luck, creative thoughts, excellent spelling, perfect words, and good concentration. It’s just a matter of getting it done. And you’ll be the second to know when I do. I really appreciate your reading, your support, and you always come back to see what will happen next. I do too, because I don’t know either! See you tomorrow.

More Monday

It’s been a great day today! How about for you? I found out today my cousins became a grandma over the weekend. Congratulations, Terri and Scott! You have a beautiful family and you deserve a wonderful legacy.

I had a pretty great day beginning my re-write. A book I’m using by KM Weiland about structuring your novel has a workbook, to accompany it. I ordered it and it arrived yesterday. I photocopied pages I need to complete my first chapter. It is the one where all the action happens to hook people into committing to read the rest of the book. I’ve had very few books I couldn’t get into. Was it because they were poorly written? Or was I not in the mood for whatever kind of book it was?? I am willing to plea guilty, being distracted or needing to read an easy book. I know that happens a lot with me. I’ll also admit sometimes it IS the author’s fault. (Think 50 Shades of Gray series – ho hum writing if I ever read it. Terrible writing. I’m not the only one who thinks this.) It’s a shame that woman made so much money on bad writing. I’d rather go broke than earn a bazillion dollars writing stuff like that. It wasn’t the sex, not at all, it was the poor quality of writing.

So after a great start to the day, and a good day writing, I’m golden for the rest of the day. I have decided at some point I am also going to try poetry. The reason behind that decision is, you must say what you want to express in few words. Just like songwriting. Limited words. Huge messages. Poetry is supposed to help you in writing prose. We will see as we go along.

We are having grilled cheese and tomato soup tonight. Did you have that much as a kid? We had tomato soup, water only. The Babe has only had it with milk. I was amazed. His parents must have been rich. Or used that sneaky swap – powdered milk, not liquid milk. Mix it up when the kids are gone, they’ll never know the difference. Hah! And grilled cheese. Mmmmmm good. I love grilled cheese, melted on toasty grilled bread.

This is Auschwitz Commemoration Day. I remember as a kid seeing a movie while I babysat late at night. It was “Judgment at Nuremberg.” I was probably twelve or thirteen. It was a black and white movie, and very graphic with real photographs. I don’t know how some people cannot believe this horrible event happened. It did. My father was among the young soldiers under General George Patton who liberated this hell on earth. He never spoke of it. He did tell one of my aunts once to read a certain book and that is all that was ever said.

Thank you for reading today, I appreciate it. I will be here tomorrow, and hope you will too.

Thoughtful Thursday

Yesterday, I mentioned this book for when I’m out of sorts, not feeling my best because of overthinking or just a pick me up.

The wisdom in this little book sort of dovetails well with the memes, topics, and exercises in my I Create Daily Facebook Group. It’s amazing to see when it happens.

January 9th, for instance, the saying is:

“A life without discipline is a life without joy”. – Muriel B.

The folks at I Create Daily encourage us to write goals, write steps to achieve them, write if we achieve them, do what it takes, then report back. Tomorrow, start all over again. I believe we need discipline to accomplish our goals, especially when writing a novel, a daily blog, or a children’s book. My 90 day goal planner is near me almost constantly. This week is booked with appointments for my mom, so the goals for the week had to transform a lot.

Discipline isn’t easy or fun. But it’s the best friend we can have. We won’t achieve anything if we don’t have a plan, moxie to stick with the plan, to say no when we do not have the time to chat or to do something unnecessary that would severely impact you, your schedule, or your state of mind. It’s hard to say no or enforce boundaries if we have never had them.

There are definitely a lot of things to learn while writing. Discipline gives us structure, all art needs structure. Structure does not limit creativity but helps increase it. It is a challenge I hope I’m up for.

This evening, I’m reading more in “Structuring Your Novel”. Setting, Character Introduction, Plot Points. I never heard of all these things before. Or maybe I have. Haven’t used them lately, but I will now. All while showing, not telling. It’ll come to me.

Thank you for reading today. Remember to return tomorrow, I’ll be here. I hope you will be.

Wednesday and Still Counting!

I’m excited we are together on this frosty Nebraska morning (no relation to our new football coach, but it could happen, someday). It’s another sunny day here. In the eastern part of the state has reported some mysterious drone sightings last night. I think it has something to do with our defense system and am not worried. I grew up in South Omaha, in the shadows of StratCom, Offutt Air Force Base. Since about the age of ten I knew the “Underground” of our nation existed. What is it? Anything our great United States needs to conduct business, be it war or peace, is here in Nebraska.

George HW Bush came here during the 9/11 attacks. It amazed me at the time many young news reporters/talking heads did not understand why he ended up here. I have always felt very safe living so close. If something ever happened, it would make no difference, I would not live long enough to know of it. As I get older, that is a comfort of sorts. No sense worrying about it until it may be close to happening. I just believe God will be good to us.

Welcome to my one hundred and thirtieth post! I’m excited to write another blog post about my journey as a writer. As I’ve stated before, each day of research and reading I do, it seems I learn some cool stuff to use in my writing. “How can you find something to write about every day?” some people ask me. I have learned the days I write of happenings around the house it’s not as good as days I write of ideas, actual activity about writing, or even a news headline or two. The creativity ebbs and flows. I keep writing to stay in the habit of doing it. I have discovered three very full place to extract writing ideas.

The First is Wall Art
The Second Is Facebook Memes.
My Hazelden Meditations from 1987.

Ideas are everywhere around us. Wall art, memes, and books are full of ideas. The book I picture here is for Adult Children of Alcoholics. I am an adult child of an alcoholic. My mother is the alcoholic, not my father. I have siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, old boyfriends, and friends who are all alcoholics. I am not. Their alcoholism affected my life in a negative way. I do not say this for pity or sympathy. I say it to let others know there is help for everyone who wants it. I have never attended Al-Anon meetings, but could have. This Adult Child book of meditations taught me many things were not my fault. It was not my responsibility to make life better for Mom, a brother, aunt, boyfriend, husband, or child.

A group of ladies I worked with in 1982 told me about Al-Anon. I listened to them when they talked about their alcoholic ex-husbands, physical abuse, verbal abuse, child abuse, and a whole gambit of things I had never seen in my life. I’m grateful for that.

This tattered book has had water spilled on it, and has a part of the index missing. I bought a new copy and still use the tattered one. It reminds me of what I’ve been through to get to where I am today. Learning, growth, and change for the better has been a long journey. If you are on that long journey, please know it is worth it. You will need to examine yourself and a lot of things to deal with everything but it is worth it. Trust me it is. Even after all these years, sometimes I still need to refer to my daily guide and sure enough, the words and lesson are exactly what I need that day. Sometimes, if I leave the readings alone for a long time, you can bet a situation will arise, and I’m looking for the lesson of the day.

As always, I thank you for reading today. I appreciate it so much. I will return tomorrow and hope to find you right here, too.