Friday, April 22, 2016

What helps you breathe?

What is your passion? What helps you to breathe, make it through the day? What is it that you feel is your God given talent that makes you sigh in the knowledge that it's right for you to spend time doing it?

Art and writing are my zen. Both art and writing have been with me ever since I can remember. I took art classes from a woman that taught with Leo Reynolds when I was about 6. Then, I took from Johnny Young for years. I also learned to take up for myself in this class and beat up a bully. :-) Bet you never knew violence could happen in art class! Seriously, the boy, 5 years my senior, kept hitting me in the back of my head while I was trying to concentrate on painting. I had politely asked him to stop. He didn't. I flew into him and bloodied his knees and landed a kick that sent him rolling into a fetal position. Mrs. Young told him she bet he wouldn't pick on me anymore. He didn't.

Of course, my first teacher was my mom. She used to let me paint Plein Air under our willow tree in the front yard. She would give me advice and show the utmost patience as I wasted many tubes of paint and canvas in the pursuit of my art. She also taught me how NOT to draw trees. I remember bringing her a tree I had drawn. She critiqued the hell out of it to the point I was in tears. I vowed never to draw another damn tree. I was wrong. My love for trees grew by leaps and bounds; and, I learned how to properly draw a tree. Thank you, Mom!

In high school, I enjoyed painting for 3 years with Mrs. Doris Gamble. I think I spent whole days with her my senior year enjoying the smell of oils and discussing literature. I learned perspective in her class and that I really liked to draw on BIG paper instead of small paper. She would go to the teachers' lounge and get paper for me when we were drawing hands and faces. Even then, I'd have to tape papers together or I'd draw off the sides.

I look for drawing inspiration everywhere I go. I visited a friend on his lake and took away some photos from which I painted this. This is a watercolor rendition of that beautiful, peaceful moment.

I was lucky enough to visit the UP and see an ermine...beautiful, curious creatures! I wrote and illustrated a wonderful children's story about this magnificent creature. This is one of the illustrations in pencil. Ms. Lily, the ermine, has a great appetite for trout!

This world teaches us to do what makes the most money. We should do what brings us joy. I hear way too many people sigh and say, "It brings home the bacon." They sometimes can't even remember what made them happy. We are given a purpose when we are placed on this earth. Gabe and I watched the movie "Hugo" this week. It's a beautiful flick! This young, orphaned boy says, (I will paraphrase) "I have always thought of the world as a machine; and, each of us as parts. Therefore, we must all fit somewhere. There are no surplus parts made. We all have a purpose to make the big machine work." This is true. He also points out how people smile when they are fulfilling that purpose. That seems to be most accurate.

Which brings me to my original question for my readers: What helps you breathe? What is your passion in this life? I hope it makes you smile so broadly you fill up a room with your sunshine.

Monday, April 18, 2016


How often are you discouraged? How often do you get off to a good start with a new idea and something happens to deflate your balloon. You have to pump more air into the tire to get the car rolling again; but, it doesn't even seem worth the effort.

I think many of us feel that same way. We get excited about something, fired up, then someone might say our idea sucks; and, we question ourselves. We start to have feelings of doubt. Then, just like that, we see the failures in front of us instead of the tiny steps forward. We look around and see the bad things happening instead of all the good things. We cast doubt on things that should be perceived as a learning curve.

Folks, you are not alone! As an artist, I look at my projects sometimes and think, "There's no way anyone could ever want that. It's crap!" When I write, I marvel at how anyone could want to read my words! Why in the world does someone value my thoughts enough to read them, view them, become a part of my world? But, they do! Not always, and my bank account says it's not happening near enough; but, it happens! There are some people who are reading my writings, enjoying my art, waiting for whatever thing I'll offer next.

Thank you for giving me encouragement in a world full of so much discouragement. I need it. Give encouragement to all the people in your life and around you. It might be just what someone needs to make it to tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

My Soft Underbelly

All of us have a soft underbelly. Some of us let that belly out daily for everyone to see by posting our most intimate details of life on social media. Others don't show that soft side on social media, much less in real life. I am one of those people who rarely show my vulnerable side for one reason or another.

I have no desire to air my laundry out for the whole world to see. I don't really care if everyone knows my favorite color. I let some things out, such as favorite book, author, my mad cooking skills ;-),  my love for coffee and animals. Things that, while telling of me, is only to a certain degree.

The coin flip is what I see daily with regards to social media. There are people who have to be a stalker's dream come true because they post everything about their life. They post where they are eating, what they are eating, with whom they are eating; and, they snap a selfie to prove their point. There are even teachers now posting all of their classroom activities on facebook. Do you know how vulnerable this is making the entire class of children? If someone wanted to kidnap one of the kiddos, all they have to do is wait for your field trip posting because it tells the time you will arrive, depart, what you will eat, and what you will wear. It has ALL the information that unsub could want to know without much effort on his/her part. All he has to do is wait for you! You've already created the perfect opportunity by disclosing the soft underbelly.

For people like me, I choose to show a tough exterior. One that says, I'm good, all is well in my life. I recently wrote a blog about how I am single and smiling. For the most part, that is true. At that moment in my life, I truly could not have imagined our moment any differently. However, I have to admit, the desire to have a partner is strong. (I am showing my underbelly just a little. Be kind.) At 42 flirting games are different than they were at 20something. I know how to flirt, but to what extent? My boys have forever told me of guys that have been interested in me; but, I haven't noticed. Now, I find myself wishing maybe I had paid a little more attention to someone's notice of me...Oh, is what it is. Rolling back over now to scratch my ear. Underbelly is safely under wraps again, just where I like it. Bark! Bark!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Morning Visitor


This is a neighborhood cat who has decided my yard is the place to be for bird watching. I love to watch my birds, too. Although, I am sure I will not partake of a juicy morsel of fallen baby birds as Blackie will do at the earliest opportunity.

She visits while I drink my coffee on the front steps, winding her sleek self around my legs and voicing her approval of my presence. She has green eyes that notice the mockingbirds have built a nest in my camellia. She hears the parent birds flutter in and out as they feed their babies. The mockingbirds fuss at Blackie; but, she doesn't mind. She will wait for her perfect opportunity to strike.

I love watching the birds and will be saddened by the clump of feathers I am sure to find one day when Blackie finally is served her delicacy. However, I know that it's normal for the cat to eat the birds. She doesn't eat all the birds; probably, just one or two. As Mufasa tells Simba in The Lion King, "It's the circle of life."

I say all of this because as I sit and watch the animals of the morning, I see no protest signs from the mockingbirds to disembowel the cat for her heinous act of violence. I don't see the squirrels finding lawyers to sue the tree that allowed a limb to break as they were reaching for the seed on the tiniest of branches. The critters don't even object more than a couple of squawks and chatterings  to my presence.

Maybe, we humans should take note of how the animals do. Maybe, instead of making a huge fuss over what outlandish thing we perceive our neighbor to be doing, we should just mind our own business.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


 In this photo we were in our happy place, the beach. Happy places gives us a contented sort of lazy smile that just sits there on our face as well as in our hearts. says it takes 13 muscles to smile and 33 muscles to frown. Maybe the reason people don't smile is because they are allergic to muscle use. However, I have a neighbor who works at a gym and he never smiles. Guess he is wanting to use more muscles to frown, get his face squats in!

Check out this guy's smile! This is my William. He had just finished boot camp. He was stepping out into the world and enjoying the sensations of having his own life. Lots to smile about! I was smiling on this day as well, through happy tears, of course! (I did NOT cry! Hooah!)

Some people walk around frowning at the whole world. Why? Do I frown? Yes. Sometimes, I catch myself frowning and don't even realize how I let all of those 33 muscles bench press my smile! Give that back! We're on the rowing machine...smiling!

It's even better when as I smile, I can help others to smile. One time in a long line, I started talking with my neighbors. Soon, all of us were smiling; and, I think the line started moving faster! There was one grouchy woman who told me she didn't have anything to be happy about. I pointed out the fact that she was now the first person in line. She looked around amazed at how she had moved forward in life, even if it was just a line at the courthouse.

I have been known to put a broad smile on my 90 year old neighbor's face by sharing whatever sweet I have cooked. Today, I have made brownies. My Gabe will run across the street and knock on the door. My neighbor will answer with some funny statement and an offer to visit. Gabe will give him the wrapped brownies with a declaration as to what's inside the parcel. My neighbor will smile this deep smile he's been expressing all these 90 years. He will move the toothpick in his mouth to the other corner as he shuffles forward to take the brownies from the hands of my son. He will smile with a twinkle in his clear blue eyes and tell Gabe to tell me to keep sending him good things. He will turn to his 89 year old wife and laugh at how he gets an extra sweet for the day. Makes me smile thinking about it.

I guess smiling comes from joy. Joy doesn't have to be mega millions large. Joy can come from a peaceful feeling inside our hearts; a warm cup of coffee with some squirrels; asking for help; giving assistance without any expected reward; a job well done; a kiss; a laugh. Joy can sneak up on us and cause those miraculous 13 muscles to stretch our lips into an upward curve that radiates an infection to anyone watching. Go infect someone! Smile, and help someone else to smile along with you! Soon, you might just belt out a laugh!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Don't Eat a Dog Turd

Lately, I have been watching the world and all I can seem to think is something Dad has always said, "If everyone was eating a dog turd, would you?"

Let's ponder this thought. He used to say it when I would use the excuse that everyone else was doing it or had it or whatever other lame thought you can insert here. He would not stop what he was doing but simply ask me that question. Of course, I'd say no, and admonish him for not sticking to the topic. His response: "If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?"

I'm seeing a whole lotta dog turds being held up on fancy platters and swallowed like ripe figs. I am seeing people following the masses to get in line first so they can get the freshest dog turd. They stand there looking like little boxes begging for a steaming piece of dog shit like everyone else has! When they get the turd and smear it all over their face and smile through the tears of disgust, I wonder if they realize they are full of shit? It's a stinky, nasty piece of poo that you have all over you! A shower can only wash so many things...

I have a collection of polished rocks Dad gave me when I was just a kid. I love this box of rocks. Did you know, even though this box of rocks have lived together for years, they still maintain their uniqueness? There's one that is shaped like a foot. There's one that looks just exactly like white ocean sand with the tide coming in. There's one that looks like the forest. There's even one that looks like part of it is on fire. There's one that looks like a maze; and, I marvel at the tiny creature who would enjoy following that maze to the fortune it must hold.

Individuality is important. It is NOT screaming out to the masses to look at all the differences. It is NOT intentionally blending so well with the masses that you lose your own perspective. No. Individuality is being who you are without regards to what everyone else thinks. When you are your true self, what others think about you doesn't matter. You will be you regardless of the masses. You will never get in line for anyone's dog turd because you know your own flavor and don't want it tarnished. You won't be hungry for acceptance because you know self acceptance is what counts in the long run. So long as you are harming none, be you! Stay away from those long lines of deception social media likes to wrap in bows and plastic bling. Be your own rock, staying true to your own special pattern. You'll fit in where you're supposed to fit, not where you're forced to fit.

If everyone else is eating a dog turd, you don't have to, too. Go pick some grapes. Wild onions would taste far better than a turd.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Single and Smiling

How many of you readers would happily call this home for the evening? Please note, the wonkered pole in the middle of the tent (my hand-me-down tent's pole broke as we were assembling it); the gravel underneath the tent; and the overall simplicity of this setup.
This was home for a night on the beach in beautiful Destin, FL at the Henderson Beach State Park. It was amazing! Gabe and  loved out camp out. We only wished it could have lasted longer. We got to the campground where the hunk of a ranger gladly told us all about the camp ground and the amenities it offered as well as the rules of the beach. We easily found our site and noted our tent would have to be set up on gravel. That was fine, I had packed each of us a yoga mat. We started putting up the tent. Hammering stakes into gravel takes a little effort; but, we managed. As we were assembling the tent, one of the support rods decided it had withstood the winds of campers long enough and desperately wanted to retire. It broke. I sighed, probably with a curse word, before fetching the duct tape (don't you all have a roll in your car?) and taping the pole's splintered self back together. After adding the other two poles, Gabe and I gingerly watched to see if the duct tape would hold the tent long enough for our one night of sleep on the beach.
As we donned our swimsuits and made our way to the beach we joked about whether our tent would be standing when we returned.  It didn't matter to Gabe and I. We were on the beach and even if our tent fell on us in the middle of the night, it was cool by us!
It was quite windy during our stay, as you can see by the red flag. Again, we didn't care. We were on the beach; and, any day on the beach is a good day. We played and frolicked and took photos and let the breeze blow away our worries. Our toes and fingers were numb as we walked back to our site; but, we were smiling!
The next morning, I awoke before 5 to get the fire burning to make campfire coffee. You do not want to experience me without my coffee. No, no, no! As I sat, satisfied that the tent had not fallen in the night, waiting for my coffee to brew over the open fire it occurred to me that I do not know a single man who would have enjoyed that setting and rolled with it as we did. Every man I know would have complained and been a complete baby about some part of our set up. I could not think of how a grown man would have made my camping experience one bit better. He would have fussed about being cold, sleeping in a tent on gravel, having to start a fire for coffee, walking to the bathroom, sand in his clothes, the tent pole breaking (don't think I wouldn't have made some crude jokes on that one!), the crowds at Fudpuckers, the traffic... That list would have been pretty long!
So, I say all of this to point out: a partner should enhance a life, not make it miserable. It was pretty liberating to realize that NO one could have made my vacation any better than it was. It was a slice of heaven Gabe and I will cherish for the rest of our lives, thanks to ourselves and the ability to roll with the punches.

Monday, March 21, 2016


Yesterday, I actually climbed that mountain, so to speak, and ran! I deliberately ran, without a donut dangling in front of me like a carrot in front of a rabbit.

I took off for my brisk walk. It felt good, as usual. But when I could see the stop sign in the distance, I took off with the determination to not stop running until I was aligned with the stop sign. I think it almost killed me. My body turned to me and asked, "What the crap? I thought we had a deal to WALK, not RUN! What changed?"

I didn't die.

I walked some more, until once again, there was a street sign in the distance beckoning me to run to it. This time, my body ran, but it was in shock. How could I stop the soothing walking rhythm we had honed for this out of control jiggling, rocking motion I was making myself do? It was madness, and I really did gasp and groan after this jaunt of catching up to my bike riding son. "I might die!" He wasn't perplexed at all as he flew away on those beautiful two wheels that had to be better than running feet!

I walked, again, since I did not die...

I walked until I saw one of my favorite trees. This tree is amazing! It is huge and sports all kinds of ferns sprouting from every limb. No telling how many times I've stopped to marvel at this wondrous creation. Yesterday, this tree begged me to run to it. NOOOO!!! Why did this tree have to get in on the cheering? I couldn't tell her no! So, I ran to my tree. Her ferns waved in encouragement to me.

I walked into the house astonished to be doing so after my decisive actions of mixing running into my walk. I was filled with a sense of accomplishment that I ran part of the way through my neighborhood. While to some I am sure my run wasn't much, it was to me. It was empowering to know my body didn't let me down. I wanted to do something; and, I did it! I dared to be more than just a walker.

I have to warn you, I did feel the difference in walking and running by the afternoon. While immediately after my run, I felt energized and ready to go again, in the evening, I was ready to crash with side stiches and knee groans. And, I did crash last night and slept better than ever.

Maybe, I truly CAN be a runner...

Sunday, March 20, 2016 run or not to run

This morning my cat, Smudge, ate my dachshund's food. Lola just stepped back and let her have it, the food, that is. She went back to her chair and curled her tail under her to admit the cat! She gave me a look that said, "Please, feed me somewhere else while that cat is occupied with my first round of food." I did. I took Lola to the kitchen where I gave her another dish of food. She ate it, quickly! Lola was afraid of the cat!

We are all probably giggling at the prospect of my scrawny cat taking over the dog's food bowl; however, how many times in our lives do we allow the very same thing to happen?

Of all the magazines I buy, the ones I devour are my running magazines. I love them! I have always dreamed that I am a runner; so, when I read these magazines, in my mind, I am reading about myself! Strong, athletic, and totally in control of my two clumsy feet striding down the pavement. Not worrying about my boobs bouncing around, my tummy jiggling, or my hair not looking right as it sprouts from my ball cap! And especially not worrying about the neighbors looking out their windows wondering, "What the hell is that fat chick out there trying to accomplish?"

Hearing these types of things are paralyzing! I recently read an article about a man who was so embarrassed about his weight that he would not step foot outside to walk until he'd lost weight inside his apartment (Weldon, Nick. "Game Changer." Runner's World. Pg. 26, April, 2016) by basically pacing! Now, he is out and running marathons! He conquered his fear! Way to go, Brian!

I have dropped lots of weight in the past 3 years (about 75 lbs) by walking and eating good foods (of course, I eat bad foods, too). I am pretty sure I am at the point that I need to start running. What am I waiting for? I'm not getting younger! I have friends older than I am who are running daily. What's my excuse? I can answer that...fear. Fear of falling flat on my face in front of a group of people who will point at me while laughing and say something hateful like, "Ha, fatso! What did you think would happen?"

Ultimately, I have to decide if I want to be like Smudge or Lola. Do I want to move back to my comfy chair, tucking my tail; or, do I want to growl and take what I want with my tail flicking in the air? Fear...will it motivate me or paralyze me? I think I will strap on my running shoes and at least go for a brisk walk.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Small Prayers

I was visiting with people at my church food pantry and a woman was talking to me about how she wished her daughter could get things right with God. She said, "Why this morning I heard her praying for her truck to start. I told her that wasn't right to say prayers like that. Only supposed to bother God with the big things." Then she asked me if she wasn't right. She said, "God doesn't want to hear about your old, broken down truck, does he?"

I thought about the times I had prayed to God that my vehicle would take me where I needed to go, kept on working, and yes, even that it would crank. "Well," I said, "God loves to hear everything about our lives. He really wants to know it all; so, yes, praying that your truck works in order to do his will is a good thing. No prayer is too small. He will answer prayers in his time.

The woman furrowed her brow and nodded, "I guess you're right. He does want to hear them all. He does answer prayers." She paused, "In his time, like you're saying."

God really does want to hear ALL our prayers. He's waiting on us to hand everything over to him because he wants to help us on all the roads of our lives. We just have to move our stubborn butts over and let him drive the old truck. Pray to him about everything. It really is the only way.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, January 11, 2016

God loves me!!

Did you know God loves me? He has been knocking on my door for years, wanting to use my writing talents for his glory. Guess what? I'm finally listening!! I am finally answering his call. I should have done it many years ago! Alas, I am doing it now, and he's happy about it! I'm on the right path.

I wasn't really on the wrong path, as some people would say, just my version of God's path. So, yes, I was on the wrong path. God wanted me to write; but, he wanted me to write things that would set people to thinking about him. In this world we are told to not think about God and a whole lot of other "good" things. That's not right! God wants us to think about love and life and happiness! He wants us to look at each other and see the good instead of the differences between us. He tells us to love each other; it's the most important commandment to remember because the rest will fall into place if we are loving each other.

Loving each other doesn't mean that we have a romantic love for each other. That's a different type of love. This is a love that is hand in hand with respect and no judgement. It's being happy for a person and showing kindness to someone no matter what. Even if someone is bad to us, we have a decision to make. We can either return the hatred, or we can return it with love. How much greater is the force of love than the force of hatred? That doesn't mean that if a woman loves an abuser enough he'll stop. NOT the same thing. I am talking about the everyday life. You're standing in line at the market and the men in front of you smell. Don't turn up your nose at them. You have no idea what those men have been doing to smell as they do. They might have been working on the septic system of your daughter's school all day. They had to get milk on the way home, just like you!The woman with the 4 screaming kids. I bet she doesn't like them screaming any more than you. Smile at them! Maybe your smile will carry her through to know she's not alone with these screaming children! Maybe your smile will let her know Jesus loves her and is smiling at her. We never know what kind of influence we have on people in our passing. Make it a good one! Make it one that when you're saying your prayers at night you think about those people and say a small prayer for them.

God loves me. He loves you, too! He loves everyone and he'll wait forever for you to turn to him. He'll show you the biggest outpouring of love you've ever felt if you'll just allow him in your life.

Have a blessed day.