February 1

“When the groundhog casts his shadow
And the small birds sing
And the pussy willows happen
And the sun shines warm
And when the peepers peep
Then it is Spring”
Margaret Wise Brown

Even though I know there is a lot of Winter left, I love the first day of February.

Growing up in Iowa, I understand winters can be long and hard. February is the time I begin to believe Spring really will come. It’s hard to keep the faith when you battle wind, snow, and below zero temperatures day after day for what feels like months.

I was not foolish enough to believe that those cold days were over. But, with one quick twist of just one calendar page, my belief in the coming spring renewed.

Even though I am now in a much milder climate, I am still excited to see the subtle changes happening around me. There’s something about having something to look forward to after the challenges and the isolation of winter. I am thankful for my positive outlook, realizing there are many who struggle with seasonal depression.

Depression is a serious problem any time of the year for those of us who hesitate to ask for help. I’ve found a way to work around this problem by checking up on my friends more closely. The gift of giving them some of my time helps me as much, if not more than it helps them. Super bonus–all this happens without having to ask for anything!

I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very protective of my time. When someone gives me the gift of their time, it is precious to me.

Make an investment of your time today–call and reach out to someone you love. Share a little of yourself while telling them how important they are to you.

It’s another win-win deal. You gotta love that.

“we must take care of our families wherever we find them.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

Peace

“You have peace,” the old woman said, “when you make it with yourself.”
― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

 

 

 

 

 

In Search Of…

“Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.”
― Heath L. Buckmaster, Box of Hair: A Fairy Tale

Have you ever had the feeling there is something you need to do but you have no idea what that thing is or how to go about finding it?

That feeling has been a very strong force for me since I began sharing my stories.

As I’ve searched, read, and eventually written, I’ve come upon other quotes or articles that tickle areas in my memory where things are sitting slightly off-kilter. Those thoughts or memories have been jostled around and rearranged over the years. Like an unsteady atom, their imbalance creates a restlessness in me. I’m learning I need order in my life, so search for ways to stabilize myself. I need that internal balance so I can safely navigate my journey of self-discovery.

I am excited to share it–even with that twinge of fear elbowing its way into the arena. Often, like it did today, trailing closely behind those fearful thoughts comes a surprising bit of encouragement. Today, that quick nod came by way of this quote:

“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C. 

Nice to get a confirmation slip letting me know I’m on the right course.

“I feel like, God expects me to be human. I feel like, God likes me just the way I am: broken and empty and bruised. I feel like, God doesn’t look at me and wish that I were something else, because He likes me just this way. I feel like, God doesn’t want me to close my eyes and pray for Him to make me holy or for Him to make me pure; because He made me human. I feel like, God already knows I’m human…it is I who needs to learn that.”
― C. JoyBell C.

I am…

B…simply being…

May God bless us all.

Peace

“Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.”
― Gautama Buddha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Puppy Love

“Owning a dog is slightly less expensive than being addicted to crack.”
― Jen Lancaster, Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office

Today was dog beauty shop day.

All three dogs saw a new groomer. Always a stressful day for everyone involved.

Each dog had their own appointment–which meant I was running a dog taxi service from our house to Toni, the groomer, since this morning. Hey, I got to know a whole new part of our little community and none of the dogs had to sit in a kennel waiting to be groomed. At the end of the day, the dogs look great, the groomer happy for new clients, and I’m thrilled to have well groomed, good smelling dogs.

A win-win situation for everyone involved.

Not an ideal environment for completing the story I started earlier this morning. That’s okay–gives me a chance to praise my dogs and our new groomer. Thanks, Toni, from The Puppy Parlor.  We have three good looking and very tired dogs.

Whenever we have days like today when one or more of our dogs are gone, I am so surprised at how much energy is missing when they are not here. Who woulda ever thought?

I am thankful.

“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”
― Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless us all.

Peace

 

 

 

Body Language

I speak two languages, Body and English. – Mae West

I’m not sure when I became aware there was a lot more being “said” when I interacted with people than just the spoken words. 

I’m sure we’ve all had those experiences when our parents knew immediately when we were not being completely truthful. My Mom was especially in tune with me. Was it her mother’s Intuition or was it something in the way I behaved that made her suspicious?

That question sparked a curiosity that stayed with me, making body language one of my favorite research topics to read about over the years.

Today, a post from Healthyways.com caught my attention: 7 Habits That Make People Seem Less Intelligent by Michael Taylor. 

As I read over the seven points discussed, I could picture certain situations in my past where I could see myself or someone I was with making these same mistakes. Let me share Michael’s insights.

-Dressing too casually for the situation. I will always remember a male friend–one I was trying to impress–making the comment about a woman who had walked into the restaurant. It was a Saturday morning and we were all at a business meeting. I saw no reason to dress up. I was in my jeans, a t-shirt, and tennis shoes. The woman walking towards us wore a nice pair of slacks, a well-pressed casual blouse, and dress shoes. It began to dawn on me that even though it was a Saturday, we were all at a professional meeting. I needed to stay aware of how I presented myself. Not only did I underdress but what I wore was not in the best condition. From that day on, I would dress for the occasion and the situation. 

-Like our moms told us, stand up straight. A poor posture gives the impression we have little energy and/or confidence. I have to agree with Michael when he says women tend to make themselves smaller when they are in certain social situations. Men, on the other hand, tend to puff themselves up and expand into their environment. I am an introvert by nature. I learned early on I needed to take a minute before going into meetings or social events to visualize myself as strong and successful. As I captured that image, I’d stand up straighter and taller. My mantra was and still is when I find myself in certain stressful situations–fake it until you make it. 

-The next behavior noted in this article surprised me. The author says that excessive head tilts and nods make the person appear vulnerable or submissive. The picture that came to my mind was my dog, Bud. When you talk to him, he will tilt his head this way and that. I had to admit, he’s certainly cute, not particularly intelligent looking. Over nodding confused me because I felt nodding was a subconscious signal of listening. With overuse, nodding gives the appearance we are agreeing to everything or we have no opinion or ideas of our own. The author cautions some other head positions. Looking down can give the impression you are shy while looking up makes you appear aloof or arrogant. Best advice–keep your chin parallel to the ground.

-Miss using words or phrases. This point made me wince because I have been guilty of this so many times. In an attempt to appear much smarter than I was feeling, I grasp for words that I would not ordinarily use. In my haste to get those words or phrases out there and look great–I stumble on the tense or the correct pronunciation. I learned it is always best to present the real me. 

-Using language softeners. This was a new phrase for me as well but definitely describes something I do all the time. I, like many women, find it difficult to accept a compliment. When someone notes something I have done, I tend to minimalize it, crediting my team or co-workers instead of simply saying thank you. Such an easy thing to do but one I struggle with yet today. An interesting suggestion made in this article and a pertinent one for me as I continue to battle allergies. Be aware of mouth breathing. Not only does it make your face look a little odd but it can accentuate the sound of your breathing. Be aware–any loud breathing is definitely not going to give the impression you want. 

-Be cautious about being too judgmental. Criticizing someone you don’t like shines a negative light on you, not them. It makes those around you think you are trying to make yourself look better at someone else’s expense. When you speak about others negatively, it shows a lack of compassion–would you say those things if you’d ever been “in their shoes?” Gossiping is never good. It makes people question what you say about them when they are not around. It is a true trust buster. And–heaven forbid–what if the gossip you shared turned out to be untrue. That makes you look doubly bad. 

-Using profanity. Oh, the times when the “F” word has come flying out of my mouth! Even though there’s been a recent study saying that people who use profanity are more intelligent, I’m thinking it’s still bad judgment. When my speech becomes overpopulated with four-letter words I know I am tired and I am stressed. When my filters are in good working condition, I have the discipline to grab onto more socially acceptable words. Profanity, regardless of why it’s used, shows a definite lack of class. I have had to really watch myself since we’ve moved south–the tone and the verbiage here are much more gentle. 

I enjoyed reading a little about body language today–hope you did, too. It prompted some sweet memories of my Mom, making me smile at some of the stories I tried to sell her. I will continue to read and share. 

“Our first experience of life is primarily felt in the *body.* … We know ourselves in the security of those who hold us and gaze upon us. It’s not heard or seen or thought it’s felt. That’s the original knowing.”
― Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless. 

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

A Prayer for Patience

Words eluded me today–my stories hanging out just beyond my grasp–skittering about in the mist and fog. They were much quicker than I was today.

I conceded, waving the white flag.

One this last Friday of January, 2018, I decided it was a great time to share a prayer and move on into our weekend.

A Prayer for Patience

Dear Father,

Today I feel like every task is a race;
I question much, falling far short of grace.
Such a scary thing, asking for what I need;
Facing new trials, recognizing more lessons to be conceived.

In this moment, Lord, I ask for your restoring grace;
Requesting your wisdom and power to slow my pace.
Dear Father, please grant me patience, please grant
your Holy Spirit be my guide?

Help keep my mind sharp, my ears willing to listen;
Make my hands respond with generosity, sharing all you provide. 
May my words convey your messages of love;
My heart projecting comforting light from above.

May I stay aware, my mind focused intentionally;
May all my works and deeds praise you eternally.

Amen.

~Author Unknown~

I am…

B…simply being.

God bless you all.

Peace

Try a Little Kindness

“MR. BROWNE’S SEPTEMBER PRECEPT:
WHEN GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN BEING
RIGHT OR BEING KIND, CHOOSE KIND.”
R.J. Palacio, Wonder

It has taken me many years to come to this place where I can admit to my own limitations. I am learning to ask and grow. I now have a place where I can let my guard down and confess I really do not know everything.

I’d begun to tire of the charade. I was tired of pretending.

I began to see others, people I respected and trusted, speak up when they did not know or understand something. They stepped forward and asked questions in order to learn.

As I quietly observed their honest examples, I started asking my own questions.

It took a long time to have enough trust in myself to risk that–simply asking questions.

With each risk taken and each question asked, my belief in myself–my real self–began to grow. With each successful step forward, I grew.

With this growth, I found myself on a new path.  I came to a point–a crossroads–where I knew I needed to forgive myself in order to continue my forward progress. I needed to believe that I had done the best I could in my past with the knowledge I had at that time.

That was a big assignment. It is difficult for me to forgive and forget. When it came to forgiving myself, I struggled. I still so.

I began to see that until I forgave myself for my past mistakes, I would not be able to move on.

I’m working on staying aware, having an open mind, and moving forward. It took me decades to get to where I am. I need to stay patient, take those baby steps, and continue moving on.

“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.”
― C.G. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflection

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

Peace

 

Asking Questions

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”
― Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

For all my friends out there seeking some answers while working to figure themselves out, I’m here to share and encourage you, letting you know you can find those answers. You need a lot of patience with yourself and just hang in there.

Up until a few years ago, I rarely, if ever, admitted to not knowing something. Because I was the oldest, I knew everything. I’m not sure how I thought I had this magical source of knowledge, I just believed I knew it all. This unrealistic expectation was part of the armor I’ve worn since I was a kid. Knowing everything was my entitled right and became a quiet mantra playing over and over in my head, an energy that drew in a few other corollaries. The most glaring of which, a nearly comical thought, no matter what the subject was, I was always right.

This whole precarious thought process was based on my perceptions of what I heard or overheard growing up in a rather chaotic household. For the first eight years of my life, my mom was either pregnant or sick. My Dad was either angry about something or working. Being the oldest and the bossiest little person on the planet, I was handed the responsibility of taking care of myself and my two sisters.

For anyone, especially a kid, this was a very lonely place to be.

There was no one to ask how to do things or why this happened or that happened. I learned by trial and error. For me, the safest way to learn was to stay quiet and observe everything going on around me. I felt asking questions would cast doubt on me–that I’d look less capable. From a very young age, I knew I had to act like I knew what I was doing. As long as things worked out, all was well.

I became very good at playing the parts I needed to play. For most of my childhood, I was a little kid acting like a parent. I created my own world, made my own rules, and found ways to survive and keep my family together. Staying together as a family became a very important thing for me after my mom died. My dad had grown up during the depression. He told me stories about families that had to split up their kids, sending one kid to one relative and another kid to another relative, because money was tight. I knew, being the oldest, I had a lot of responsibility to him and to my sisters to keep us all together.

Being Queen B and ruling as I did made it very hard to step back into a kid role when my aunt came to stay with us and care for my mom and when my dad remarried. Through all the changes, I acted like a tough kid. Looking back, I realize I was just a kid who needed some care and attention.

It’s taken me a long time to work through and decipher these childhood memories. I still find myself gearing up for an argument whenever someone disagrees with me. It takes me a minute or two to step back and remind myself I do not know everything–that my way of seeing something or doing something is not always correct.

It took retirement for me to have the time needed to do the work and enable me to begin to understand some of my childhood histories. It took this time to realize what I did–whether it was being a daughter or a sister or a sonographer–was not who I was. I am a beautiful soul here on earth experiencing this one precious life experience I’ve been given. My different roles in this life have been stepping stones along the pathway of my journey. I am perfectly imperfect and that is the way I am supposed to be.

Each day, new awarenesses make their way through all the baggage and clutter I’ve carried around with me all these years. It is a gift beyond measure and I am grateful.

“But there was a special kind of gift that came with embracing the chaos, even if I cursed most of the way. I’m convinced that, when everything is wiped blank, it’s life ‘s way of forcing you to become acquainted with and aware of who you are now, who you can become. What is the fulfillment of your soul?”
― Jennifer DeLucy

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

Peace

Learning and Growing

“Don’t Just

Don’t just learn, experience.
Don’t just read, absorb.
Don’t just change, transform.
Don’t just relate, advocate.
Don’t just promise, prove.
Don’t just criticize, encourage.
Don’t just think, ponder.
Don’t just take, give.
Don’t just see, feel.
Don’t just dream, do.
Don’t just hear, listen.
Don’t just talk, act.
Don’t just tell, show.
Don’t just exist, live.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Since I’ve started writing my stories, I’ve become so much more aware.

After taking that first very uncomfortable step–publishing my first post–my fear of rejection has diminished. I’m not saying I’m fearless. I am a long way from making that statement. What I can say is, for the first time, I believe in myself. I’ve begun accepting the fact I am a novice. I do not need to pretend to know it all. Because of that, I can commit to putting in the time needed to strengthen and shore up my budding skills.

I know I am ready. I am willing. I know I am able.

Of course, I’ve made these giant strides because I’ve had the blessing of encouraging and unconditionally loving friends. Thank you, God, and thanks to all. I am grateful.

With every published story, I learn more about myself. I stretch my boundaries, growing and changing with each new discovery.

Often I am caught off guard as I write, uncovering some lost memory. It’s like putting together some giant jigsaw puzzle when the cover photo of the finished puzzle is missing.

I am becoming more comfortable with all of those glitches.

I have grown into my retirement. I know and accept that I am lucky to have the time to figure it all out. There is no need to rush. I can think and marvel at all unfolding in front of me. I can sort and select those puzzle pieces, realizing that some of the intermixed and varied pieces may not be part of my puzzle.

What a marvelous realization, realizing and really understanding I am the master of my puzzle board.

I am thankful.

“Without darkness, we may never know how bright the stars shine. Without battles, we could not know what victory feels like. Without adversity, we may never appreciate the abundance in our lives. Be thankful, not only for the easy times, but for every experience that has made you who you are.”
― Julie-Anne

I am…

B…simply being…

Blessings and love to you all.

Peace

Texas 101: Cedar Fever

“It is a great blessing to wake each day and give thanks to God.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita  

Oh, I remember being so worried last year as I looked at many of the trees surrounding our house. They were so brown and appeared to be dying. They looked horrible.

In the months since that observation, I’ve become a more knowledgeable Texan. This year, as I gaze over the trees surrounding our home, I am no longer worried about the trees–I’m worried about me.

Those trees–Mountain Cedar Trees–look horrible because they are full of pollen. The gusty winds blowing today are doing a great job of scattering that pollen far and wide. It is no surprise I’ve been awake since four this morning.

That bumper crop of pollen will make my life, and many fellow Texans, miserable for the next few weeks.

Why you ask?

Words that make us all reach for kleenex boxes and antihistamines: Cedar Fever.

It is forecasted to be a really long and brutal season for the Cedar Fever sufferer.

Cedar Fever does not cause a true temperature. The inflammation it stirs up and the reactions the pollen triggers can raise a person’s body temperature. Personally, I think I feel warmer because I’m so busy sneezing, blowing my nose, or rubbing my eyes in a type of seasonally orchestrated human-powered perpetual motion machine. My throat is sore, my ears are plugged–making my already compromised hearing even more annoying, my face hurts, and I am coughing, coughing, coughing.

All-in-all, this will pass. I will pray my immune system adapts a little more and I’ll be more resistant to the pollen next year. It is uncomfortable. I complain but fully appreciate the fact that my symptoms are very minor compared to my friends across the county suffering from the flu. May you all feel better quickly and know you are in my prayers.

I am grateful for my many blessings.

“The road to happiness starts with a deep breath and an awareness of the many blessings tied to that single breath.”
― Richelle E. Goodrich, Making Wishes

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless you all.

Peace

 

Growing

“I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes, in some area, an athlete of God. Practice means to perform, over and over again in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.”
― Martha Graham

Yesterday I began a review of all my posts.

Interesting.

I was so tempted to start editing them.

Then I thought about it…

I decided to leave them. They were perfect the way they were–a wonderful reflection of where my writing was nine months ago. Today, I’m more comfortable with my writing. Even though I’ve written forever, I’ve never put it out there for everyone to read. That step presents an entirely different level of learning.

I am grateful knowing I’m growing and learning with each story I put out to the world. I’ve learned to do my best and let it go. I am learning to accept myself as I make mistakes and plod along, persisting, giving thanks for all who walk beside me.

Thank you.

“Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.”

(Letter to A.F. Oeser, Nov. 9, 1768)”

I am…

B…simply being…

May God shower you with blessings.

Peace and love, Y’all.

Thank you, my dear friend, Kimberlee Salimeno, for sharing your photo of a great looking Friday afternoon! Cheers. Love you.