This is a picture of our Charlie dog. Believe me. This is not a smile. Charlie does smile at us when we come home, but she is saying something quite different here. Usually, she's nicer than this, but a few of you have experienced her wrath first hand. I apologize.
This is how our country has become. We all get too upset especially when it comes to politics. We get ugly. We bare our teeth. So how can we prevent biting off our neighbor's nose when we talk politics? Can we? Do we talk politics anymore in person with those we disagree? It doesn't feel safe anymore. We leave it to comments written on Facebook or Twitter.
That's a shame. Those impersonal distance creating methods leave us more alienated and angry. A lot like Charlie.
But we still need to feed our nation. We still need to play. We need to work together and have discipline. Maybe our republic and our culture need some training in good manners again. Just like Charlie. We took her to dog training. Because she's a rescue dog, the trainer assessed that she's an anxious canine and her reactions are out of fear. I think that goes for most of us. We've been through some stuff.
I'd say, even the people I disagree with the most may be afraid. Afraid of their culture changing so fast. They lash out. The ones who embrace change and see it as evolution, are pushing these others out of their comfort zone. But I think both love our country. We need to SOLVE problems and we can't do that when we keep threatening one another. First we have to listen. Sit. Stay. Drop. Not roll over. I wouldn't go that far.
RELAX. TAKE A BREATH. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Don't let being on one side or the other keep us from finding common ground. We have too much at stake. Our country can be easily manipulated by forces that want us to be divided.
As the Beatles said in their song, "Come Together". To do so means having discipline over our mouths and the words we type on our phones or computers. It requires discipline and calmness that comes with practice.
Enough of this Wild Life.
Mom passed away a week after Mother's Day last year. She had lived with us for almost two years prior, when my sister in the St. Louis area took her into her home January 2018.
I was able to be with Mom at the hospital for the last few hours of her life. In fact, I was present when she passed at a little before 7 am in the morning. We were talking until the very end.
One of my favorite people in the whole world is gone. Anyone who knew her would say she was kind, a good listener, very well read, and a sweet, gentle soul with a great sense of humor. Mom lived to be 85 years old and had good health most of her life.
Again, she was the best listener I ever knew. When I had struggles as a child, a teenager, young adult, and even in middle age, she never made me feel like my problems were insignificant. And she was never one to quickly find a solution. I appreciated that about her. Instead, she seemed to struggle with me. She validated my confusion while giving me hope and encouragement that I could find a solution.
As we get older, people in our culture tend not to trust older folks as much. This is unfortunate, because my mom's wisdom was a true source of help.
Mom lived with us for almost two years because she suffered with Parkinson's and because my father, who was her caretaker, died in April 2016. Both of my parents were loving parents.
Often people would ask my sister and me with a grimace on their faces about how we were coping with having our mother living with us. The ones with those concerns didn't know our mom. She was a delight. When she left the nursing home a couple of times after needing rehabilitation services due to bone fractures after a fall, some staff were in tears because they were going to miss her. She was just that type of person, genuine and loving.
So as Mother's Day approaches and I see the cards available in the store, I feel sad that I won't be buying one for Mom this year, but I know she is with Dad and they are busy reading, talking, and sharing wonderful memories together in heaven. They also loved music and instilled this love in me. So they are probably also listening to wonderful music in heaven as well as singing. They both had beautiful voices. I miss them both.
I have a picture of them sitting on a couch together from Christmas 2015 taken at my sister's house. It captures their personalities. Both are smiling. I smile back remembering all the lessons they taught me. Being grateful is one of the lessons I choose to remember. Grateful for all the time I had with both of them and the role models they provided as they demonstrated love for us. I remember Mom especially during this approaching one year anniversary. Miss you so much Mom!
I wrote this poem the day after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gave her testimony. This picture was taken in Chicago. I use this picture as a mirror of how many women feel left alone to fend for themselves in our world of politics and power.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford
September 28, 2018
You are not enough
You are a woman
You speak your truth
But not enough to sway the men
You are credible, honest,
You are not enough
If you were a man
But you are a woman
Your voice is soft but steady
Your demeanor as well
You are not in power
You speak of being overcome by a man
While another man laughed
You are overcome by men now
Before millions of men and women
But the same
You are a woman.
You have achieved
You’ve abided by the rules
You are a success
But you are a woman
And you are still not enough.
As a little girl
You were told to work hard
You overcame obstacles
But you will never conquer men.
Some men in power will always defeat
But you will never be enough.
Because the men know you are more
And you said too much
And because they can
You remain not enough.
My dreams of parenthood did not include giving myself time outs more often than to my child.
Maybe that's an exaggeration. But my time outs mean I walk away to avoid yelling or making threats I can't keep while she laughs and ignores me or tells a joke involving bodily functions. She knows a big button for me is not being shown respect. So she pushes it to see me blow.
Even before our daughter came along I've enjoyed reading books about spirituality. One book, by Neale Donald Walsh, Friendship with God, I recently reread. He talked about accepting what is in front of us. I guess that would apply to those times when I needed a time out?
But accepting her tantrums and meltdowns? Is he crazy? Isn't it my job as a parent to control my child's behavior or manage it?
As a licensed clinical social worker, I spent sixteen years in the counseling field offering advice to families on various issues including parenting. I didn't have children then. So....
Anyway. We're supposed to fix things. Straighten out these little ones. Right? Well, I'm beginning to see that maybe the little ones are sent to us to help us truly understand the challenge of unconditional love. No monk in a monastery could learn this lesson better than if he raised a child.
On page 321, the author quotes God (Conversation with God series) "To accept something is not to agree with it. It is simply to embrace it, whether you agree with it or not." Later he says, "How can you heal that which you will not even hold? You must first hold something firmly in your grasp, firmly in your reality, before you can let it go."
Okay, so I have a strong willed, sensitive daughter, who challenges my tendency toward self-doubt. Well, if I accept this, I could see that this is a perfect fit for me to learn to gain more confidence. I could learn to trust my loving nature more than needing to have all the answers or to be "perfect."
I kept looking at my daughter's behaviors as problems to be solved rather than treating her as a human to be loved. When she screams at the top of her lungs because she's frustrated by the feel of certain clothing, I have a really hard time accepting it. But she is forcing me to accept it and to accept her because nothing else works. No matter how corny it sounds, LOVE is the answer.
After looking at all the behavioral manipulations I could try to use on her, I humbly have to say, "I don't know how to fix this problem of yours, but I'll be right here loving you through it. I've sought professional help. I've read books. Recently, a nurse speaking on parenting said, "You know your child better than anyone else." I'd heard that good advice before and I realized that my daughter responds better when I'm patient and don't push.
It's so hard not to try to fix her. Those time outs help me remember to stop and accept the here and now rather than fighting with her. She has a way of always winning when I'm trying to handle her. Power struggles are bad news.
I do set limits. There are consequences for her actions. I must prepare her for the real world and natural outcomes. But I don't have to yell back or nag.
It also doesn't help that she's so smart and sensitive. But that's the kind of child I prayed for. Thank you God for giving me exactly the child I need to grow on this spiritual journey. I'm trying my best, putting one foot in front of the other. And not placing that foot in my mouth. Thank you for Time Outs for Moms.
When school started again for our seven-year-old, I had mixed feelings. Part of me was relieved to have my own time again and another part was sad. It was nice having no agenda each day with Meredith. We could hang out while she still wanted be with us. The days seemed longer and the plans more spontaneous. Still the days flew by until the first day of school suddenly arrived.
After four days in a row of waking up early, I'm tired yet more motivated to get things done. On Meredith's first full day in school, I trimmed a bush that had been creeping ever closer to our car in the driveway. I trimmed dead leaves from flowers in our front yard making our neighbors a little happier. I cleaned off two dressers full of various items left there for weeks, taking the idea of summer vacation seriously for myself as well as for our daughter. And I started exercising. Two days in a row. So far so good. Now for day three, four, five, etc.
One of the things I started to do more is reading. I enjoy reading, but rarely make the time for it. I've decided to try to be a better role model so Meredith will see that it is enjoyable too.
I also look forward to writing again. A lot of my friends ask me if I'm writing another book. I wrote quite a bit, but decided it was terrible because it was totally unbelievable. So I'm starting again. Summer break was good for me, but now I plan to kick in gear and start taking more action toward my goals. Being productive. But a little of the summer break mentality will be part of my daily routine to keep my sanity.
My debut novel, Mystery Ink: A Novel Way to Die was released one year ago at the end of this month. Wow! This has been an exciting year full of book signings, a novel writing workshop in Iowa, readings, and author events. More will come in 2015. I've already sold over 100 paperbacks and am waiting to hear from my publisher this spring on e-book and Amazon sales.
Thanks to Goldminds Publishing, Mysteryscape Bookstore, and especially to everyone who has purchased my book. I appreciate all the positive feedback from those who have read it.
If you like cozy mysteries check out my book on Amazon. New lower price for paperback and e-book.
I watched a Moyers and Company episode recently where he interviewed 18-year-old activist, Kelsey Juliana who is walking across America to bring attention to climate change.
He reported that Price Waterhouse recently crunched the numbers regarding the current rate of global warming and said that in 20 years we face catastrophe.
It reminded me of the boiled frog story.
The story states that a frog if placed in boiling water will immediately jump out to save his life. But if immersed in cool water and slowly heated to boil, he WON'T jump. It's so gradual that he gets used to it until it's too late.
Although we notice more frequent and intense hurricanes, former snow-capped mountains not so capped with snow, floods, droughts, devastating fires in our desert regions, animal extinctions (including a projected silencing of half of all bird species if nothing significant is done to curb gas emissions), many are still not convinced that climate change is real.
But for those who see these events and relate them to climate change, they may tell themselves this is the new normal and sit in that warming pan of water not believing that those who control the heat source can be convinced to turn it down.
Who am I to stop those in power who get rich from burning these fuels? Eighteen-year-old Kelsey Juliana believes she can have an impact. She knows she must make a stand. She's eighteen and within twenty years she will or will not have an earth like ours to share with her own children. Misguided? Naïve?
Or is it naïve to believe that things are not that bad because our last summer was mild? "Hey, where's the heat?" Some think they won't see any significant changes because real trouble is still so many years away. But I never thought I'd see what I see now in my lifetime.
The projected time frame for facing catastrophe: 20 years!
The time to jump out of the water is NOW. We know what happened to the frog who adjusted to the heat. The slow steady climb in heat fooled his sense of danger. Let's not wait and lie to our children by telling them, "You'll get used to it."
We must convince those in power we won't take their greedy perspective anymore. What legacy will we leave our children? Let's jump to it and protect the only home we have:
EARTH, as we know it.
Before our daughter was born, I had all kinds of thoughts about how my child would behave. I would focus on teaching her the importance of saying, "Please" and "Thank you." And she would learn these habits with ease. I would tell her to do things and she would gladly do them because we would have such a great relationship based on trust and mutual respect. She would never talk back to me. I never talked back with my mother. I loved her and she loved me. Sure I pleaded with her on occasion when I really wanted something, but I never pushed it too far. I learned to take "No" for an answer and it made me a stronger person because of it. My daughter would also take "no" in stride.
I was wrong.
Let me be clear. I never thought she would be perfect. My eyes were wide open about the struggles of parenthood. As a counselor for sixteen years, I'd seen parents who brought in their children from ages three to twenty-three to be fixed in therapy. I knew it could be bad. Really bad. I worried if I'd get caught in the same patterns as some of the clients I saw. But I told myself that I'd had a good upbringing and it would be different. I would rarely if ever yell at my child or be impatient or insensitive.
I was wrong.
I've never been one to judge other parents harshly. I've always had a healthy fear of parenthood as I think everyone should. It's so important and so tough.
Parenthood is an opportunity to be humbled enough to learn some life lessons from someone much younger, shorter, and more emotionally unstable. We didn't catch those lessons as kids probably because we were busy being emotionally unstable ourselves. We just don't remember it that way.
And I really am one of the lucky ones. Our daughter is smart, kind, funny, loving, a good friend to others, and beautiful inside and out. But she is teaching me patience, self-control, and learning to love her more than wanting to keep up appearances or worrying about what others might think of me. Priorities. Choosing battles. Wearing something comfortable to church like shorts and a large, loose T-shirt rather than a dress. Other girls look so cute in their dresses, but our daughter prefers to be comfortable and is bothered by various textures. Tough for me. Judgment and fear of judgment from others rears it's ugly head.
I think God gives us children to help us grow up while we help them learn all kinds of things that may or may not require therapy in the future.
I joke, but I actually used to think that if I could raise a child who didn't need therapy then that would be a marker for success. Well, good luck with that one, because I have no control over how she perceives me and what she will remember or focus on whether it be positive or negative.
I guess one thing I have learned is that I need to be happy so that I have more to give her. If I'm running low on energy then I won't have it to give to her. So, sometimes I struggle with guilt for taking time for myself, but I'm getting over it because when we get together after I've done a little something for myself, I know she feels the love and energy flowing toward her. She has to.
I hope this will be a good example to her never to give up on her own needs and dreams so she can give to others freely and with enthusiasm from a cup that is full of whatever energizes her.
By the way, this picture was taken several years ago. I could tell early on, that our daughter was strong-willed and shameless. That was what I'd hoped for. My parents used shame as one of their discipline techniques. I talked with a therapist about this, again before kids. So I decided to forgo shaming. But once when I was desperate, I tried the, "I'm so disappointed in you." Ha. Nothing. It was like I was speaking French. Then I had to try something else.
There are so many lessons to teach, but I have laundry to do, meals to cook, clutter to sort through. I can only deal with one day at a time. Please don't judge me. I promise I won't judge you. All I'll say is good luck and God bless you.
Summertime in the Flint Hills of Kansas when the weather feels more like the mountains of Colorado is about as close to Heaven as you can get especially when you include hearing outstanding prose and poetry from Kansas City area authors.
I had the great privilege to read my short story, "Road to Dreamland" published in the Volume 7 issue of Kansas City Voices Magazine at
Pioneer Bluffs in Matfield Green, Kansas on August 2, 2014 along with authors,
Janet Sunderland, Thomas Fox Averill, Dawn Downey, and Jack Kline. Wow!!! They were fantastic! Please check out their websites for more details about the authors and their works. I believe all have books available on Amazon. It was such an honor to read my short story and an excerpt from my debut novel, Mystery Ink: A Novel Way to Die. It was published by Goldminds Publishing and released January 2014.
Now it is mid-August and the heat and humidity have returned as well as routine with our six-year old daughter returning to school. I look forward to more time to write my next novel. I've been working, believe me, and enjoying every minute I can scrape together. With the memory of the beautiful setting at historic Pioneer Bluffs and the richness of prose I heard, I am inspired to keep on writing and living my dream.
All pictures presented on this post were taken by Dr. Brian Compton at the Pioneer Bluffs reading event sponsored by Whispering Prairie Press, publisher of Kansas City Voices Magazine.
I was fortunate to take a "Novel in a Week" class at the University of Iowa Writers Summer Festival from July 20 through July 25, 2014. Our class was so much FUN! No I didn't write the entire novel in that week, but I got some excellent instruction from Kelly Dwyer.
She gave us assignments such as writing a scene about what the main character wants and other scenes with the climactic ending and a scene from the antagonist's point of view.
This was a writer's paradise. We had such an exceptional class with great writers who all had such intriguing story ideas.
Writing is such a solo enterprise that having other authors to talk with helps. It's nice to know I'm not crazy or if I am, it's nice to know I'm not alone. Because choosing a writing career is a little crazy. But boy is it fun.
Stay tuned for my new novel to be announced after a lot of work for a first draft and rewrites, editing, and on and on. A classmate said my idea sounded like it fit into the urban fantasy genre. My first book was a murder mystery and this book will also involve a mystery.
Thanks again to all the authors in the class at University of Iowa and especially to Kelly Dwyer for your expertise you so graciously shared with us.
This picture was taken by our daughter, Meredith, when she was age five last spring. We were shopping for some groceries. I try to be a good role model of patience when I can. But today, I had a funny moment of truth.
We were playing Pick Up Sticks. By the way, Meredith is quite good at this game. We think she could have a future as a surgeon some day. After several tries, I could not get a single stick when out of the blue, in front of my now six-year-old, I had a mini-temper tantrum. No, I didn't yell or scream or flail my arms. I just rather subtly, but not subtly enough, used my tool stick to stir up the sticks that lay precariously so that at my next turn, I'd have some kind of chance to pick up a damned stick.
Yes, Meredith's mouth dropped, she smiled, laughed and said to me, "I've never seen you do that before."
"Mommy had a little temper tantrum. I'm sorry." I said then laughed because, it all happened so fast and I didn't even realize that my competitive streak was so close to the surface. I mean really, did I have to beat my six-year-old at this game? Had I forgotten the importance of building up her self-esteem and praising her steady hands, a skill I think can serve her future? Am I trying to be the grand master at Pick Up Sticks? To my credit, we've played this game before many times and Meredith usually wins, and I happily give her a high five and congratulate her with words of praise and smiles, but for some reason today, I couldn't hack it.
My competitive streak showed, BIG TIME, to my daughter.
I hope she learned that everyone can lose it, even mommies who are supposed to lead by example. Meredith has certainly had her share of temper tantrums. And I've certainly had my share of lectures on advising how to calm down. But obviously I showed her that I agreed that losing is not fun.
At least laughing at myself is more important than always being perfect with my daughter. Maybe I showed her how to forgive herself when she makes mistakes. We all make mistakes. Let's hope that's part of her take away.
School for my Kindergartener is winding down, only five more weeks. Panic is about to set in as I wonder how I will find time to write. But I cherish watching our daughter grow and learn. Most of the time.
One thing I did not expect in parenting is the irrationality. Crying jags that come out of seemingly nowhere just floor me. I'm learning to not try to fix it right away, but to wait for her to calm down before I try an intervention of any kind. It's getting better, dare I say.
She's such an amazing, smart, funny girl. She really has a great sense of humor. I feel so blessed that I have the privilege to parent another human being. I try not to think too much about the importance of this job.
I like to remember the saying, I'm not sure who said it, "Life is too important to take seriously." I didn't get it at first. I mean this life stuff IS serious especially the whole parenting thing.
But as I approach the midway point in life, yes I do expect to live to be 100 so I can consider myself to be middle aged, the more I realize the importance of enjoying the present moment.
I've spent enough years worrying for this lifetime and the next. So I'm trying not to teach my daughter to worry while still teaching her the importance of planning ahead and being responsible.
Summer will be here soon and there are several things I'd like to do. But I also want to just enjoy the moment with her and make some happy memories while teaching her the importance of responsibility, being a good friend, a caring citizen, gaining math skills so she's prepared for a career that can support her so she doesn't have to live with us at the nursing home, learning to sew, cook, swim, ride a bicycle, deal with bullies, learn self-defense, encourage her artistic abilities, and continue in group sports to learn good sportsmanship and to build athletic skills....
Most importantly I want her to learn to stop and enjoy the moment and laugh at herself when she gets too serious. Fortunately, she has a funny daddy who helps us both laugh. Thanks John.
I am thrilled to participate in the Author's Blog Chain today.
Paffi S. Flood tagged me on her blog. Everyone should check out her blog because of the variety of topics and her interest in learning more about the world around us. She is witty and insightful. Lots of fun to read.
Paffi is a writer of YA (young adult) fiction, an occasional blogger, and the author of Mystery Ink: A Killing Strikes Home. Her book can be ordered on Amazon at http://www.Amazon.com/ You can find her on Facebook http://facebook.com/paffisflood. Twitter http://twitter.com/paffisflood, and her Blog.
Paffi S. Flood
Twenty-five-year-old fraternal twins, Naomi and Penelope Dotson, discover the dead bodies of their parents in the lake house on the edge of Centerville. While still in shock, the twins strive to discover the murderer and are drawn into two other related investigations--the kidnapping of nine-year-old Jamie Reed and the disappearance of Keith Evans, a deadbeat dad. when a car tries to run the twins down, they know they are getting close to the truth. In the process of chasing these criminals, they learn it's hard to run in high heel shoes.
I'm the author of Mystery Ink: A Novel Way To Die
now available on Amazon.
As a coroner, Dr. Marv Henderson is more comfortable around corpses than with the living, especially his adult daughter, Mary, who refuses to speak to him. But when members of his book club are murdered the same way as characters in the mystery novel they're reading, he unwittingly leads the killer to his daughter's doorstep. And when a romance with a fellow book club member, the mysterious Lyla Baxter, finally seems possible, Dr. Marv fears she's involved in the serial killing and is nothing more than a deadly distraction.
As part of the author's blog chain I am required to answer the following four questions.
What are you currently working on?
I am writing a futuristic novel set in 2064 in the Kansas City area. This world is filled with androids who have taken nearly every job humans used to employ. The tension between man and machine builds when an android minister downloads a microchip resulting in consciousness.
How does your work differ from others’ in the same genre?
There have been many works about a future with robots. Most of them show robots as evil who want to overtake humans. In my story, I show some humans with evil intensions driven by greed. A robot requires no health insurance and no income so labor is cheaper than employing humans. In 2064, androids are serving humans in restaurants, hospitals, and classrooms among other places. Humans must ask themselves what role they can play in this new world where machines do almost everything.
Why do you write what you write?
I am fascinated by human nature. Having spent sixteen years providing counseling services, clients have inspired me with their ability to overcome difficulties and to persevere. I’ve always enjoyed true life stories, but science and the future have always intrigued me. It is my desire to combine realistic human responses to an imagined future to display the possible outcomes of our choices. I enjoy the writing craft and hope to improve with each work. I like the challenge of writing something to entertain and to hopefully provide the reader with an experience not otherwise possible.
How does your writing process work?
I usually start with an idea or a hook for a story line. Then I roughly outline what will happen. I need to understand the characters first and feel enough of a connection with them that when I start writing I can begin to hear their voice through the dialogue. I like to write in dialogue first and then fill in later with setting and details. I enjoy the discovery process of what comes out of their mouths as the characters interact with one another. It’s fun to write dialogue with conflict between two or more characters and make it sound believable.
I am tagging two authors: Juliet Kincaid and Markus Kane. Please read more about them and check out their books.
Juliet Kincaid, Writer
I’ve been hooked on fiction since grade school. And I’ve always preferred stories that supplied adventure and escape. Humor and wit help, too. I try to write the same sort of stories and novels as the ones I like to read.
In addition to January Jinx, Book One of the Calendar Mysteries, my published work includes Walls, a Cinderella, P. I. Novel, and Cinderella, P. I. and Other Fairy Tale Mystery Stories, a collection of twelve stories. Both of these books feature Cinderella as a detective twenty years, three kids, and a few extra pounds after the ball. Both combine fairy tales with mystery, plus humor and a little romance with Prince Charming.
Along with my daughter, a dog and two cats, I live in a house filled with books, mostly detective fiction, just a few miles from where Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price had their adventures in January Jinx. Their story continues in Fatal February, coming in February 2015.
You can find Juliet at Facebook, http://facebook.com/julietkincaid, and her Blog below.
Now available as Kindle eBooks: Walls, a Cinderella, P. I. Novel (www.amazon.com/dp/B00FQLQ2WI) and trade paperback); Cinderella, P. I. and Other Fairy Tale Mystery Stories (www.amazon.com/dp/B00GMMUSTI) and trade paperback; and January Jinx, a historical mystery set in Kansas City (www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSSSBE4)
Markus Kane is an attorney and freelance writer living in Kansas City. He’s spent much of his professional life making the byzantine world of legal speak into something more palatable. His work often focuses on the dark places of the world, especially when they exist in people who otherwise think of themselves as good.
Hi I'm Lisa Daly. Why should you read my blog? I enjoy writing and reading and hope to share my thoughts about both. I am a parent of a six year old girl and I hope to find like souls out there who can relate to the daily joys and struggles of parenthood.
I wrote a murder mystery and it was published by Goldminds Publishing January 2014.
It's titled: Mystery Ink: A Novel Way To Die. It's available as an ebook and paperbacks on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.