Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Operation Iraqi Freedom Is Over

Seven years ago we went into Iraq with bombs blasting and gave them a taste of "shock and awe".  We all had our own feeling that night...fear, sadness, disappointment, rage, power.  Well now it's over.  4400 servicemen and women were lost on that desert battle field.  They won't be coming home.  Many will come home injured and will adjust to their impairments for the rest of their lives.

We are thankful, all of us, that the fighting is over.  Some of our solders will stay for awhile to keep order and help the Iraqis find their own way....whatever way they choose.

Now we're off to Afganistan with renewed resolve and vigor to root out  the bad guys and get rid of them forever.  Such a daunting task but now we have more manpower and resources to throw at the enemy.  I wish them well.

Do you know anyone who served our country 'over there'?  If so, share their story with us.  Are they your families, friends, or neighbors?  We are so proud of them all and glad they have made it thus far.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Sunset Painting

Here is an acrylic painting that I just finished.  It's the largest one I've done so far.  Obviously it's all about color...and one of my favorite places.....the sea! 

Enjoy the day!

PS:  My Algebra videos are free for a limited time only.  Download them while you can.  Your child may need them later.  Special topics by request.  Hope this school year is good for you and yours!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How To Prepare Your Child For The First Day Of School!

Some places in the country are still getting ready for the first day of school. Some have already started. My school started August 2 so we’re in our third week now. Whew! When I was visiting Florida this weekend I noticed they start school today! Many areas wait until after Labor Day. When do you start?

Getting kids ready for their first school experience is a biggie! How we prepare them for the big day can make all the difference. I still remember my first day of school….mothers went to school with us back then and stayed half the morning! I still remember the new paste and crayons. When my kids went to school for the first time it was so very exciting …for them and for us, their parents. Everything from what to wear, saying goodbye, riding the bus, meeting the teacher…..a whole new world opening up!

If you have one starting this year, this video gives you lots of helpful hints to kick the year off!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Girl Trip!!!

Tomorrow's the day!  Leaving at noon!  Driving 8 hours and then we're there...at the beach.  Four best friends, good food, swimsuits, shorts, and books.  Can't wait.  We'll have a ball.

We all live scattered around the edges of a very large city. We're all 'way out' but in different directions so it's hard to get together as much as we'd like.  So every now and then we find a way to go away for a few days and catch up, bond, laugh and all that girl stuff.

Four night together!  Will we run out of stuff to talk about?  Not a chance.  Wish us safe travels and fun times in the sun.

See ya next week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Do You Know People Who Tell You How To Vote?

Why do I ask, you say?  Well, for the first time ever, I have actually told people how to vote.  I didn't really tell them, but I did express myself on my Facebook page and with emails.  I usually run the other way when people try to tell me how to think or tell me how to vote.   I don't like it when people assume that I think,and therefore vote, like they do.

Why then would I actually express my opinion and tell folks what I plan to do in the voting booth tomorrow?

Two reasons:
1.  There was a time about 10 years ago when an organization I was a member of was moving into a new building.  We had guests coming from all over.  It was a very big deal.  At the last minute our Certificate of Occupancy did not come through and we could not use the building.  There was some last minute work to do on the water line and the Fire Dept would not "okay" us.  It was a very cold time of year and we would have no choice except to meet outside in the cold!  I phoned our City Councilman and he came through for us at the last minute.  I didn't even know him.  He gave us a temporary permit.  Everyone else we tried to reach would not even give us the time of day.  So he is my hero for that reason.  Now, tomorrow, he is in a run-off election for Attny Gen of our state and little unpolitical me is really pulling for him and even asking people to vote for him.

2.  For the past two days I've been getting A LOT of robot-phone-callers.  You know the ones.  You say "Hello" and a recorded message comes on. "I am Joe Blow and I am running for ______."  No joke, the phone just rang and it was another one!  Anyway, I got a robot-call today from my guy's opponent.  His message was full of scare tactics, spin, and extremist verbage.  That surely turns me off.  How about you?

In case you live in GA and can't sleep at night cause you are up wondering who should be Attorney General, I would encourage you to vote for Sam Olens!  He's my guy!

So do you get involved, tell people how to vote, assume they think like you do???  Tell me about it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Another Painting and a Quote I Like

‎"The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you...the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life."    Anon

I painted this by looking at another painting.  I don't know who the painter was or I would give their name.  So it's an "original" copy of anonymous I guess.

Visit my Free Easy Algebra I Videos at http://www.mindbites.com/person/22063-swilkes3.  Free for a limited time only.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Need Your Help But Nothing's Wrong

My sister and I often say..."Call me back. Nothing's wrong."  We've always been there for each other through thick and thin.  There were times when something was wrong.  There was her call to me when Daddy had his stroke, there was my phone call to her when he took his last breath.

There was her call to me when mother fell and broke her leg....and later her hip....and when she had that auto accident!  There were times with her two teenage boys and mine when phone calls were not always fun.  And we've both been married forever so you can imagine what some of those phone calls were like. :)

Good families, wonderful children, amazing husbands....still there were those times.  That's life!  So we leave our message and usually end with "Nothing's wrong."

So I'd like your help.  Nothing's wrong.  It's trivial really.  I have a new blog that has a totally different emphasis.  I'd love you to go there and help me give it kick in the arse as they said during the Revolutionary War.  That was REALLY 'back in the day'.

Thanks for your help!  Have a great day!  Hope nothing's wrong!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hello Everyone! Where Did I Go?

Where does the time go?  I signed off about 4 months ago and I've been out livin' life...just like you.  Just haven't been blogging.  Needed a break.  You know how that goes.

I am painting sooooooooooo much!  That is really my love.  I've got a lot to learn but I'm going at it with a vengeance!  Here is one of my paintings.  You like?

I've taken a couple of short trips I'll share with you too.  I've started volunteering at the hospital on Wednesdays so lots of stories there too. 

Remember when I used to be a teacher, before I retired?  Well, back then, I made a lot of videos for students, or parents, who just needed some extra help on the basics of Algebra and Geometry.  Nothing advanced here...just basic level information.  Well, I've decided to "share them with the world".  I mean, last I heard, the world was just waiting with baited breath to watch math videos, huh?

Go take a look and help me kick off this new venture.  You really represent the globe and I would really appreciate your help!  See you again soon.  Let me know what all I've missed with you .... and thanks for checking back in!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Signing Off With Love

Blogging has been so much fun for the past year. I started last spring on March 31,2009, so it has actually been just about a year. My blog has taken many twists and turns this year, as have I. I thank you all for wandering with me.

I'm not bringing my best to my blog writing any more. True to form, I am ready to move on. My current interests are depicted in the photos below.

The Ones I Love The Most

My Mom At Almost 90

My Drawing

Learning To Paint !

Most Of All, My Sweet Man

Thank you all for being a part of my family this past year.  I've truly looked forward to visiting your blogs, reading your stories, your poems, seeing pictures of your families, and riding the ups and downs of life with you.  I've treasured your comments like you can only imagine.  It has felt like my little contribution to "world peace" by connecting with readers and bloggers all over the world...seeing how much we are alike and how little we are different.  I believe we are truly all One and that our Oneness is the Spirit of God flowing through us as our very breath. 

Take care.  Enjoy the day.  Enjoy your life!  See you on Facebook perhaps?

Love and hugs,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bullying Is Just Not Right

The Today Show is talking about bullying this morning.  I guess, unfortunately, bullying has been around since the beginning of mankind.  Was Jesus bullied?   Well, yes....by those who eventually put him to death.  He was bullied and mocked all the way to Golgatha where he was crucified.  So is it human nature to be cruel to those 'we don't like'?

Maybe it is a natural response at the most basal level of human nature but once a person has any level of real enlightenment, or awareness, it is not a part of their nature. 

Children live what they learn.  Never a truer statement has been written...most of the time.  Hey, we human beings are not black or white.  We all have a little grey...and isn't that a good thing.  Except when it comes to bullying.

I hear repeatedly that schools 'do nothing' to stop bullying.  That schools 'allow' bullying to take place.  It does make good fodder for talk shows and political debates but, not true, according to me.  More like "Zero Tolerance"!  You know...just like for weapons.  The difference is you can see a gun.  It is tangible.  If anyone reports the presence of a gun in a school, it is immediately the first priority of the administration.  Bullying,, however, IF it even gets reported, is intangible.  You can't always see it or hear it.  Sometimes you can chase down a text but can you imagine the losing battle you are fighting with a thousand cell phones in a school?

Much bullying goes unreported for fear that it will get worse "if I tell".  We've all felt that way before in some way, shape or form.  What to do?

Teach your child to tell.  To tell his teacher, his counselor, you.  Let the child handle it first on his own if it is age appropriate.  It builds his esteem and power to handle it if he can.  Have I had to handle this as a teacher?  You bet I have.  Once a student actually bullied ME!  His teacher!  Once.  After explaining to him in no uncertain terms that he was breaking the law and I could charge him in a heartbeat, and I would, he cowered away.

When I was a very young teacher, I saw bullying one time and I let it go.  It stills haunts me.  I apologized later to the student and tried to restore his dignity.  That was 30 years ago.  Teachers were untrained in how to handle bullying back then.  Now the training is intense.  I am glad to say that I've conducted those trainings myself...to atone for my lack of backbone way back when.  And to make sure my peer teachers knew what to do.

Don't blame the schools.  Support them.  Your words are powerful.  Not just when bullying but when spouting off to a neighbor about your neighborhood school or writing a letter to the editor.  Let your words be supportive, not destructive. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How Do You Comfort Yourself?

Friday I spent visiting my mother.  When I got ready to leave Friday night I realized it wasn't the thing to do so I spent the night.  Good days and bad...and this one wasn't good.  Mother would be the first to agree with me.  Nearly-90 is a struggle for her and every now and then she just gets fed up with it and wants to throw in the towel.  It's just not an easy time.

My strategy has always been to treat mother as I always have...with dignity and as if she were still 65.  We go out to lunch, take a drive, or run a few errands.  I don't think I realized how tired she gets.  I feel like I am doing her a favor to keep our relationship as much like it has always been as possible.  I think it would be doing her a disservice to behave as if she were an invalid.  Maybe I am wrong.  Maybe I push too hard.

I left Saturday morning to drive home.  Mother's 'caretaker' and friend was with her so I knew she was in good hands.  My drive is about an hour and 15 minutes.  After about 20 minutes, I told myself I needed a Coke to stay alert and focused.  In the drive-through at MacDonalds I told myself I needed a hamburger too.  It was too early to serve lunch so I settled for an Apple Pie.  I have not eaten an Apple Pie from MacDonalds in years.  I don't eat fast food!!!  But this day, I ate two pies!  I don't know why they put two in the bag but since they did, I just ate them both!

I've started doing this fast food snacking on my weekly trips down and back.  I always have an excuse.  Sometimes I'm sleepy, sometimes bored...or so I tell myself.

What I realized, however, is that this has become a way that I comfort myself.  I was no more hungry when I ate the first apple pie than the man in the moon.  The second one??? Please.  What are you thinking!?!

It's just what people mean by comfort food.  When you feel stressed you probably reach for something.  Do you?  Maybe it's unwanted and unneeded food, like I did.  Maybe you reach for a drink.  Lots of people do.  Some reach for drugs.  Even the most spiritually centered and grounded among us have those moments of looking for self nurture.  I think I realized that more this weekend than I ever have before.

The eating trend of the day only went downhill when I got home!  You wouldn't think it could get any worse but it did.  Today I was better, lunch was a nice healthy home made vegetable soup, green salad and fruit. 

Mother is far too strong, even now, to engage in these behaviors of comforting herself but I wonder if it would help her if she did once in awhile.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Where Did That Hour Go?

It seems like gaining or losing an hour in the fall and spring really shouldn't make much difference since it evens out in the end.  For me, though, this week has been the laziest I've had in a long time.  Since I don't want to take responsibility (LOL), I've decided to blame it on the time change.

Don't we all just love it in the Fall of the year when we gain an hour?  I've always wanted more hours in the day and that's the only way I've found to get it....just that one hour, that one day.  And then, darn it, we have to give it back in the spring.  I miss that hour!  'They've' been taking out of my sleep time!  I don't like that.

All kidding aside, I guess Spring is truly almost officially here.  March 21 is THE day spring arrives but I am celebrating early.  I didn't celebrate St. Paddy's Day this year....just didn't speak to me so I am due a celebration!  How about you?  You can even take two if you want.

My yard is teetering on the edge of taking a chance and blooming forth with the possibility of another freeze lurking out there somewhere.  Little blooms are peeking out.  Nothing to brag about.  So far, only my Forsythia is 'all out'.  It will only get better from here!  The show is coming soon!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When's The Last Time You Danced All Night?

Dancing is a blast!!!  My husband would rather be stung by 100 bees than have to go dancing.  I mean he will occasionally participate in the obligatory slow dance but really have fun dancing???  I don't think so.  It's been an issue in our marriage from time to time because I hated missing out.  But no more!

Now I have that problem solved!  I'll slow dance with him, and love it, whenever he's up for it, but twice a week I get to really dance my heart out.   My gym has the greatest Zumba teachers and my class just rocks.  We have so much fun dancing til we are soaking wet and about to collapse from exhaustion.  The music is the best with a beat that really gets you going.

Our Friday night dance was a fundraiser for CCFA, the Crohns and Colitis Foundation.  We raised $750 and had the best time doing it.  In the fall we danced for Breast Cancer.  I'll raise funds that way any day of the week! If you haven't tried it, go find a class somewhere and jump in!  You'll have fun, make new friends, and burn a ton of calories too!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Do You Lie To Yourself?

"If it is necessary sometimes to lie to others
it is always despicable to lie to oneself."

Somerset Maugham from The Painted Veil (1925).

What do you think?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We Won The Lottery!

The Lottery!  I remember when it first came to my state.  There was so much debate about the merits versus the moral decay it would bring.  Letters to the Editor were written. Hotly debated issue. It was a biggie. 

Today's style of debate takes on a different flavor.  Formerly it was considered rude, actually it was rude, to talk over someone, to ignore them, to talk louder.  Things have certainly changed, haven't they?  All the news stations like to bring us opposing views, even if the network is skewed left or right.  They all love top ratings.  To survive the TV business, I guess top ratings are a must.   An argument between two people makes you turn and listen.  You don't really want to, but you do.  If you are in a store, a restaurant, at work, wherever...you turn and listen, probably judge a little, take sides, and gossip about what you have heard.  Given this human condition, the networks are taking full advantage. 

No longer is there a polite debate.  It is more like a shouting match, a hollering contest to see who can be the loudest.  It seems to be more about loud, drowning out the opposite point of view than anything else.  If we can't even hear opponents speak, no one has to defend any of their talking points.  Logical thinking, consideration, respect?  Out the window.  Just yell what you think and people will take note, catch your name...more out of 'shock and awe' than any real interest.  The TV hosts love it though.  They allow it with only mild attempts to quiet the situation.

Oh well.  I digress.  The Lottery.  We won....$3.  I say it's better than nothing.  It is just a game after all.  Odds are so against you winning you would, logically speaking, never purchase a ticket but once in a blue moon it's fun.  In my previous neighborhood we had two real winners.  One family won $10,000 and another, right up the street, won hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That makes the odds against us even greater.  Just a fun diverson.  $3 will buy a gallon of gas....barely!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

You See What You Want To See

When I was hoping to become pregnant, back in the day, it seemed that everywhere I went...the mall, church, travel...everyone was pregnant!  Once I became pregnant, same thing.  Pregnant ladies were everywhere!  Were they there all along and I just didn't notice them?

What I am noticing these days is how many people have difficulty walking.  Walking!  Something I have taken for granted my whole life!  My mom has almost lost this ability.  She has lost it for all practical purposes.  We don't know why.  A combination of a broken leg and a broken hip, though both well-healed, plus atrophy from using those parts less and less, plus some arthritis, plus fear of falling, and on and on.  I think it is what is called "old age" for many.  So the doctor says anyway.  Even Emory can come up with no better answer.  At least there is no pain.

Now, when I go out, I am aware of how many people either walk with what is called a "disturbed gait".  For so many reasons, people of all ages have impairments in their ability to walk.  Don't get me wrong.  They still get around and enjoy a good quality of life.  It's just that I never noticed before. 

Makes you realize how very much we take for granted, huh?  The same happenings, give or take, play out around us as we encounter everyday life when we are out and about.  I think I will experiment with this idea.  Maybe I will pick something....anything really.....pink shirts, eyeglassles, obesity and watch those things begin to surround me.  I may notice eye contact and connection and see how that looks.  I may notice sadness, gladness. 

Reality often goes where thought flows.  What we focus on is often what shows up around us.  People who expect the world to be their handmaiden, to expeirence joy and goodness, usually do.  People who expect to be the victim, often are. 

Decide what you want to have more of in your life.  What do you want to show up in your daily sphere?  Expect it.  Look for it.  Notice it.  It is already there.

Enjoy the day!

  PS.  Happy Birthday Trip!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Poignant Quotes You Remember

Sometimes, when you are reading or maybe listening to someone, you will hear words that stick with you for a long time.  It may not be anything you don't already know, but something about the way it is phrased or the context makes it memorable.  It seems I have come across more of these in the last few days than I have in awhile so I'm sharing.

From "The Five People You Meet In Heaven":

"Parents do not let their children go.  Children leave their parents.  Instead of looking to their parents for approval, they look at their own accomplishments as their gauge."

"The water was below the roots of their love."

"All parents damage their children."

"Holding anger is a poison...It eats you from inside...We think that by hating someone we hurt them...But hatred is a curved blade...and the harm we do to others...we also do to ourselves."

"Strangers are family you have yet to come to know."

"Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you're not really losing it. You're just passing it on.....

"Young men go to war. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they want to. Always, they feel they are supposed to........courage confused with picking up arms, and cowardice confused with laying them down."

Here are a couple I remember from "Stones Into Schools:

"A village called New York was just bombed."   (spoken by someone in Afganistan)

"Style is everything".  (referring to learning to communicate with those unlike you)

Lots more good ones escape me.  What do you remember?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two Miracles Before Noon

The name of my blog is Real Life In A Minute and that is what it is about....real life.  Yours and mine, and little moments that seem to isolate themselves and call for more reflection.  They may bring you a giggle, a memory, inspiration, motivation, a new idea, compassion, love, intellect, or they may even put you to sleep. 

I was going to let yesterday's blog stay for awhile because I really want some help with that topic.  If you have time go back and read it too.  But this one is far more important.  It started at the gym.

We were just finishing our hour of Zumba dancing.  Lucy actually ended class five minutes early.....unheard of!  There we all stood, every thread of our clothing wet with sweat and water dripping down our faces.  Lucy, our 'teacher' said we were going to have cake!  Cake???  Number one, we don't eat there.  Just drink gallons of water to stay alive.  Next, we come there to, yes, have fun and help the heart work better, but, also to shed as many calories as possible.  And we are going to eat cake?  At 11:00 AM?  I don't think so.

But we do, we all do, and here's why.  LaDonna was dancin' right in front of me.  Lean, tall, the picture of health.  She steps up and announces that ten years ago today she was told to go home and get her affairs in order, that her brain tumor would soon end her life.  No hope was given for her survival.  Today she wanted to celebrate her life, and she wanted us to celebrate with her.  We would have it no other way so we dived in to chocolate cake piled high with hot pink and green frosting.  Never were calories so worth it.  You can always exercise another hour.  Eat the cake!   Miracle #1.

Next stop, with sticky fingers, is the library.  I'd spent twenty minutes nosing through the stacks and was checking out with three DVDs and four books, plus three books on tape.  My plans were to leave the library and head to the bookstore to pick up a copy of "Menonite In A Little Black Dress".  I though it might be a fun read for our (brand new) book club but wanted to read it first to make sure.  A young lady walks up the counter to return her books.  The book on top?  You guessed it.  It was "Menonite In A Little Black Dress"!  Out of all the thousands of books in the library, it was the very one I wanted.  I'd only seen it in book stores and had thought it was a new release.  Was it just a coincidence?  Hmmm.  I call it Miracle #2.

Those kind of things don't happen every day but when they do it is really cool.  Enjoy your day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Martha Stewart and Etsy

Martha Stewart, you know her, sent me an idea today.  It's for anyone who has more little scraps of paper than they know what to do with....and more time than they know what to do with.  However, I AM a recycler so I wanted to pass this on. 

Do you love little books?  Apparently a lot of people do!  My husband is one of them.  He's not into the creative kind that I am going to share, but you will always find him with a little tiny notebook within arm's reach.  I tend to keep my lists in my head.  Now what was it I needed at the store???

Martha's LIttle Book Idea:  Martha's ideas always amaze me.  Not that they are so unique but that she actually gets into this level of creating.  I know she has a huge staff but, still, she really gets into this stuff herself.  Her link tells you exactly how to make one like hers.   Having read her biography I respect her accomplishments and the empire she has built.

Etsy Idea:   What I really like about the Etsy idea is the creative aspect.  She has also included little baggies in her books for receipts, buttons, stubs etc.  How clever. Her link gives you all the details about her little books.

If you are a crafter, enjoy these ideas and send us a picture of your little book!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Three Cups Of Tea and Stones Into Schools

Here in the USA most of what I have learned about Pakistan and Afganistan has been from CNN and political speeches.  The Taliban and AlQuaida are there.  That's been enough for me to paint the entire area with a broad brush of dislike and disgust.  I almost said 'fear' but I realize I actually do not fear them; their presence is only real to me because of 9-11, and otherwise they are a faint rhetoric of military and political babble...something over which I have no control.

However, I have just finished reading "Stones Into Schools" by Greg Mortenson, subtitled Promoting Peace With Schools, Not Bombs.  Before I retired I was a public school teacher for 30 years.  I taught mathematics to thousands of students over the years, many of whom did not share my interest in the subject.  I realized, in order to reach them, I had to approach our interactions truly as a relationship.  The mathematics was an appetizer to the main course of relationship. 

"Stones Into Schools" is a sequel to "Three Cups Of Tea".  If you have interest in this subject I would suggest you read Three Cups Of Tea first, and then decide about the second book.  Three Cups Of Tea is wildly successful by any measure:  #1 NYTimes Bestseller, critics, reviews, book clubs, neighbors, and friends.  It reminds us that even the most insurmountable problems are most effectively approached through relationship building...and then miracles can occur.  They occur because people are inspired!  In this case, one INSPIRED man, an American nurse and son of US missionaries to Africa, is responsible for well over 100 schools in the most remote parts of Pakistan and Afganistan where girls were not permitted to go to school, and the boys who did go were often 'taught' in an outdoor tent at best.

Education is a powerful thing.  The premise of both books is the thought, no the conviction, that being able to read and learn will go further to promote logical, independent thought and, eventually peace, than bombs that drop resulting in killing of innocent people, maiming many more, and setting a third world country back even more.

The people of Pakistan and Afganistan are trying awfully hard, trying their best, to help their countries evolve, to help their children learn and be safe, building upon hopes and dreams just as we do.  I respect them immensely for their efforts in the face of chaos and uncertainty and danger.

You might enjoy Three Cups Of Tea and its sequel....check the reviews online.

I'm off to exercise the body, zumba dancing to some uplifting fun music, and celebrating the day and the freedom and opportunities I have as a woman to learn and do with no bounds.  I am so thankful for that, to God and to our fore fathers.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Favorite Snowman

The most snow we've had since the Blizzard of Early 90s.
  And it was all gone in a day!
  We had fun though.
Can Spring be far behind?

And a great big thank you for The Sunshine Award from Mama Hollis!   I will share this one soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How Are You Unique?

A couple of months ago I was out riding my bike, and I found this letter in a puddle.  I guess it had been raining back then too!  Seems like it's been raining forever where I live!  Anyway, I fished the paper out of the puddle and brought it home to dry.  I know it is valuable to someone but I have no idea where to find them.

It's hard to read, I know.  It appears to be a school assignment:  to write about why you are unique.  Here is what a little girl wrote:

"I am unique because my eyes are three colors...blue, green, and gray.
  I am unique because I can make people laugh and I like to laugh. 
 I am one who loves my dog Roxie.  I am one who dislikes when Sandy, my other dog, fights Roxie and when my brother's mean. 
 I am unique because I can cheerlead and draw penguins really good. 
That's why I am unique."

To me this is priceless.  I'm not throwing it away any time soon.  We all get so focused on all that needs to be done everyday, meeting other people's needs, being productive, and on and on.  Maybe it would be a good idea to take just a moment and think what you would have written about yourself.  Not your children, not your wife or husband, or friend.  Just you.  How are you unique?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Friday Night Knitting Club

I just finished reading NYTimes #1 Bestseller, The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs.  I bet many of you have read it too.  It's a light, fun read although it gets heavy in parts.  This is a story of a group of women of different ages, different backgrounds, different goals, and different lifestyles who get to know each other and share their lives over the process of knitting.  It wasn't initially a love of knitting.  For some it was just a curiosity, some were trying to learn, and some had knitted "forever". And some just came for the cookies!  However it ended up being the vehicle that intertwined their lives, both present and future.

If you enjoy "people watching" in general, and stories about women in particular, you will enjoy seeing these women grow into themselves.  They become fast friends, their relationships begin to overlap, and their interdependence is front and center in the story.  Family plays a big part in this novel......it is really all about family......both the one you are born into and the one you choose.

The author, Kate Jacob, has a website at http://www.fridaynightknittingclub.com/index.html.  She loves connecting with her readers and will even arrange to call in to your book club if you are discussing her book.  Now that is cool.  There is a sequel; I think it is called Knit Two. I will get to it eventually but it will have to wait its turn.

Enjoy the read!  Especially nice in winter.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My son told me about this movie, Food Inc., and Oprah is talking about it today.  It had quite an effect on him, and, I think it will on all of us.  I hope to see it soon. The movie is very educational about our food today, where it comes from, how it is produced, and how we can make better food choices.  It seems that in the past, as a society, we spent a much higher percentage of our incomes on food than healthcare.  Nowadays our nation is spending a higher percentage on health care than we are on food. 

Whole food is the name of the game.  Striving to be concious of what we eat and to eat less processed food and more whole food is the way to go.  Another way of putting  it is when you go to the grocery store, don't buy anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.  My holistic nurse friend says just make sure your plate looks like a rainbow....that it is full of colorful food.  Just think of the benefits of eating broccoli (bright green), blueberries (deep blue), strawberries (red), squash (yellow), green beans and so on.

Another spiritual friend says, "Spirit (God) made it real simple for us.  Just drink pure water, eat things that come from the land, and fish from the seas.  We are the ones who make it complicated." 

Michael Pollan, who wrote In Defense of Food:  A Dieter's Manifesto, was also on Oprah today.  He summed it up by saying the following:

Eat food,
Mostly plants,
Not too much.

I think we all know this already.  Just hard to do.  I've heard the 80-20 rule is good enough.  I don't know though.  Eat right 80% of the time and don't worry about the other 20%.  At least it's a start.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friendships Near and Far

I spent the weekend with three of my best friends.  It was a gloomy, grey, wet, cold weekend at the lake and yet we were bright, cheery, cozy, and warm.  The entire weekend we stayed right inside our little cabin and didn't budge.  A few good movies, good, healthy food, lots of sharing and laughter, a lovely fire, and good books made it perfect.

Well, there was the overflowing toilet...that was a challenge.  But that was it.  Everything else was smooth as silk.  It just does the soul good to spend time with those who love you, understand you, and want the best for you.  I wish everyone was so fortunate.

Online, here in blogland, we hang with our friends too.  My invisible friends are you.  You often make my day when I log in to see who's been around, who left a little comment love, and what you all have to say that day on your blog.  You live all around the globe...that's really the best.  We're far, far away, different, yet alike, and we are connecting!  We are supporting each other.  We are really celebrating each day with each other.  I'm glad you are here.  I feel like I know you and I wish the best for you. 

When I got home from my girlfriend weekend away, I found an award from Claudia way away in Brazil.  How cool is that!  She shared her 10 favorite things and asked me to do the same...and to pass the award along.  So here are a few of my favorite things....

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

No, that was Julie Andrews's list.

Here are a few of my favorite things

1.  Being inside where it is dry and warm and hearing the rain outside.
2.  Being with my husband when we are on the same wave length and totally in sync.
3.  Being with my children.
4.  Having fun at my sister's.  She's the best.
5.  Vacations.  I just love them.
6.  A really good meal when I am very hungry.
7.  A great book.
8.  Buddy.  He's my dawg!
9.  Art.  I love to draw and paint.
10.  I love to Zumba dance with my gym rat buddies.

I realized I didn't put down anything about a spiritual experience and then I realized they are all spiritual experiences.  What are your favorite things?  I'll pass the award along in a few days.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

John Edwards, What Were You Thinking?

On second thought, don't answer that.  I think we know what you were thinking.

This blog is entitled Real Life In A Minute so here goes real life.  It seems John Edwards has decided to tell the truth.  He is the father of Reille Hunter's daughter, Quinn.  Reille was his campaign videographer when he was running for, ahem, President of the U.S.  It turns out he and his wife Elizabeth have known for sure that he was the father of little Quinn, now two years old, since last summer.

It is understandable why he didn't tell anyone.  He has "decided" to embrace his daughter whom he has been supporting financially and emotionally.  In other words, he has been somewhat active and present in her life for the last year.  Why he has chosen now to reveal the truth makes you wonder.  Was it coming out anyway?  Was he trying to beat the tabloids at their own game?  Did he have a sudden attack of conscience?  Who knows.

Less understandable to me is why his wife Elizabeth chose to keep quiet these many months.  My guess would be to protect her children, not him.  At this point she can't protect them, but if handled well, the children will accept it much better than the rest of us.  Growing up in this day and time it really isn't that unusual.  Children are much more flexible and forgiving that we adults are.

The Edwardses, John and Elizabeth, are currently separated.  He is no longer living in their dream home!  And what a mansion in the country it is.  There are many reasons to feel sorry for Elizabeth but I would rather uphold her dignity in this situation.  She is a smart woman with options.  She is choosing the response she feels is best for herself and her children. 

John Edwards seeks now to rebuild his reputation as a "good person", through several humanitarian projects and by publicly recognizing his youngest daughter.  Will it work?  Of course, it will, although perhaps not in politics.

It is 2010.  Forgiveness is in. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Are You Depressed?

Well, are you?  Are you depressed?

It amazes me how many people answer "yes".  I must admit I have been a little down myself lately.  Part of it is seasonal.  The cold weather is condusive to snuggling in by the fire with hot chocolate, a blanket, and, somedays, pajamas all day! As great as that sounds, it gets old.

My routine was disturbed over the holidays because that's what holidays are...departure from the everyday routine.  So, in my case, I stopped going to the gym.  No more Zumba classes or Kickboxing or weights for me.  Noooooo.  I was out shopping, at someone's Cookie Exchange party,  at my own party, eating my sister's to-die-for caramel cake.  And, oh yeah, why not sleep in?  Everyone is off work and it's a "holiday"!  Too many holidays if you ask me.  I am not a holiday person!

Why are so many people depressed, or like me, just a little down?  Some are upset over their jobs or lack of one.  Some have financial concerns and family issues.  Some are lonely.  Some are ill.  The most "up" person I know hinted yesterday that she was really feeling "maybe a little depressed".  Someone else I talked with today said "I tend to get depressed in the winter.  I need to go out in some sunshine."  Then, Lord knows, there is my mother.  I love her dearly, she's depressed, and I can't fix it.  That makes me even more depressed...and on it goes.

So, if any of this describes you, let's do this.  Every day, no matter how cold, let's go outside and get some sunshine.  If we are out there at least 15 minutes, maybe even take a walk, or eat lunch if it's warm enough, we get our much needed Vitamin D and we get those rays which some say ward off the winter blues.

I don't want to knock winter.  I really love the winter time.  We just have to be smart about it and get out butts in motion, get around people, go outside, and stay active. If we don't it's just our own fault.  Did you hear me, self?

This weekend I have a long awaited girls' road trip to look forward to.  Probably just what I need.  Laughing, sharing secrets, looking to the future, hugs, and being silly.  I think it will work for me!  Find something to work for you too!  Every day is precious and we don't want to waste a single one being depressed.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Before And After: Lose 10 Pounds By Tomorrow Noon!

Next time you are in line at the grocery checkout, look around and I bet you'll find a magazine with those headlines.  We won't tell anyone that you actually picked it up, flipped though, and skimmed the article trying to find out how she did it.  Fess up.  We've all done it.  What if the magic weight loss formula is out there and she knows it and we don't. 

Actually we are all smarter than that, huh? 

Friday I met a woman, a real live woman, who truly lost 95 pounds in less than a year.  I've seen her come and go at the gym many times, really large when she started.  She keeps to herself, at least that's the way it seems to me.  I've always kept to myself at the gym too.  It's not really a great place to meet people UNLESS you go to classes.  That's what I love and if you go often enough you will eventually feel like these people in the class are your friends even if you don't know their names.

Anyway, I approached this Jane Doe and told her how good she looked and bragged on her progress.  Everybody needs that and she didn't seem like she got a lot of it.  She told me she had lost 95 pounds... and it was true.  I saw her "before".  Me:  "How did you do it?"  (My version of skimming the magazine.)  Her:  "I walk on the treadmill three miles every morning and three miles every afternoon."  "Oh my goodness", I say.  I'm struck with two things:  how very boring that would be and what motivation 'two times' a day would take! Oh, and that is seven days a week!

Regarding the boredom, she said she comes during her favorite shows and just walks and watches TV.  I could do that, I think to meself.  She lives only two doors down from the gym, seems to be retired, and doesn't wear a wedding ring, so I decide it's very convenient for her and there may be little else going on in her life.  I realize how very pretty she is...that she has truly transformed her appearance.  AND after she walks, she lifts weights for 30 minutes three times a week AND she roller skates at the part.  Now that last one really got me.

I am usually pretty adventurous and fairly well motivated, and I love to skate but I never ever do.  I have lots of reasons why but I shall spare you.  But I will say that soon you are going to read about me and roller skates.  Enough for now.

Just wanted to share this true, non-tabloid 95 pound weight loss story with you.  It takes you where it takes you.  I know where it is taking me!  After Zumba dancin' Monday morning, you will find me on the treadmill with my earphones plugged in watching The View!  I'll keep you posted!

PS.  Aren't those the cutest puppies?  Wouldn't it be nice to take a bath and come out skinny?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Do You Text?

Text      HAITI     90999

I bet you do, but if you don't, it's time to learn.  I'm an old fogie myself (can't believe I just said that)  so if I can do it, so can you.  Here's why.

Hubs and I were sitting in a restaurant a couple of nights ago.  Do you have a Kayson's where you live?  They have pretty good food and we like to go there.  They also have TV screens everywhere but no sound thank goodness.  The picture that night was from Haiti.  An earthquake had just happened... pictures and runners across the screen said 7.0.  I don't know much about earthquakes but I do know that is a very big one with serious damage.

Over the next day or two we've see just how serious it was.  My mother's angel caretaker is from Haiti.  She has that lovely French Haitian accent and the biggest, purest heart around.  Her inlaws have lost several family members and several are still missing.  We know from TV that many are homeless, hurt, and scared.  What would that be like if it were my family?  I can't imagine.

My friend Cindy from the Red Cross will probably go down and help out.  Service men and women, doctors, nurses will go too and they will work wonders.  Every person they help is a miracle.  But most of us won't.  It's not our place.  We can send prayers and money though.  My mother called and asked me to send $100 for her.  She always, always wants to help

An easy way for all of us to help is to text HAITI to 90999.  It will automatically send $10 to Haiti through the Red Cross and all of it will go, not just part of it.  The $10 will be charged to your phone bill.  Whoever thought of this is brilliant.  A whole bunch of $10 gifts can make a real difference, over $3 million so far.

Prayers for the children especially and for everyone there who feels scared, hurt and alone.  Hang on.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Lady At Walmart

A week or so ago I was in Walmart.  I usually avoid Walmart unless I need something specific because it is one of those stores that suck you into buying things you don't need.  You go in for something specific and you come out with that ...PLUS some extra towels, 4 tubes of Crest that were on sale, an extra bag of dogfood, Christmas decorations that were 75% off, and new pillows.  So if your motive for shopping at Walmart is to save money, forget it.  If you really need all that loot, well, good for you.  Me?  I'd rather just stay away.

On this particular day I was there to buy a humidifier.  As I walked throught the pharmacy area I heard children screaming, screaming, screaming.  I looked, like everyone does, and kept walking, deciding to wait and check out the humidifiers later when things had calmed down on the pharmacy aisle.  When I came back, though, the children were still screaming.  Oh my goodness, now what?

A young mother with three children was trying to get prescriptions filled.  She had one in the buggy, one in her arms, and one was on the floor near her feet, on a leash.  Two of them were screaming to the top of their lungs.  Onlookers were doing just that, looking on.  Well, WWJD, I thought to myself?  So I walked over to the mother and asked if I could help.  Now, mind you, she is on her cell phone telling someone quite loudly that she is "completely overwhelmed", her insurance has been denied, and the children are still screaming.  "Can I help you?", I ask.  Suddenly her angst was covered with a big smile, "No", she says, "I'm fine".  She's faking, of course.

She's not fine.  I understand her hesitation to accept help from a stranger but how bad could I be with ten onlookers gawking at us?  I just stay there beside her and start talking to the children to distract them.  The screaming stops pretty quickly.  She doesn't tell me to go away so I stay put.  I ended up staying with the mom and her children for 30 minutes while all the insurance issues got worked out.  The pharmacy was in error.  There was no problem with her insurance.  She was scared and embarrassed for nothing.

Victoria was three, Kaitlyn was two, and Jordan was 18 months.  Daddy gave the girls their nicknames: Tori, KatieBug, and Jordy.  I was so glad to learn there was a daddy.  As I spent time with these kids I learned a lot about myself.  I quickly constructed an entire story about them. I decided all of them were sick (and I hoped I didn't catch it) since mom was getting three Rx antibiotics, although they didn't seem sick. I decided they probably lived in a trailer without enough money to make ends meet. I decided mom would probably just keep having kids.  I decided their mother might not know she could put their dirty jackets in the washing machine.  I decided they probably didn't know how to budget their money as mom was using an expensive Blackberry....and I was using a $29.95 phone.  I reasoned she should have a phone like mine and save that money she didn't have.  Part of me wanted to go home with them and teach mom all the things I decided she didn't know.  I realized how very judgmental I was being.

We all became friends over that 3o minutes.  Mom, Brittany, thanked me sincerely.  When I asked her if they were going to "try for a boy", she told me she had her tubes tied and wouldn't be having more children even though they loved these three profusely.  She talked about having 3 teenagers at once, 3 proms, then 3 weddings.  All the kids wanted me to hold them and I did.  They wanted me to go home with them. They wanted to play with my phone. They were smart.  They knew all about texting (at 3) and apps!  Once they were distracted  their tears turned to smiles and giggles and mom could get her business done. I loved every minute of it and I grew to love them in that short amount of time.

I realized that if I ever become a grandmother I will enjoy it immensely and I will make sure I don't tell their mother when their jackets need washing.  Oh how quickly you forget!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

When Will We Thaw Out? Deep South In The Deep Freeze!

Temperature On My Back Porch

One thing I know for sure. I don't want to live up North. I know it's not a fair comparison but this is what an icey, snowy day looks like in most households in the South. First of all, we call off school if there is ANYTHING on the roads. It's not that we are paranoid. (Hmmm?) It's more that our snow melts during the day because it almost always warms up in the day time. Then at night it drops back down below freezing and we wake up with roads covered with ice. Our school busses just cannot get through our frozen back roads. So we have the long-awaited 'snow day'.

As soon as the weather forecast starts hinting at snow and ice, we all run to the store and buy milk and bread. Shelves empty out immediately. So you get the picture. We in the South stay home in our pajamas and eat milk and bread all day. We have hot grits and butter and cheese for breakfast, then milk and bread the rest of the day. We wrap up in blankets as if ice cycles are dripping off the ceiling of the great room, and, well, lots of babies are born down here nine months later. Our obstetricians know they cannot take a vacation nine months after a snow or ice storm if you get my drift.

After a few days of this we start getting cabin fever. I already feel batty after being in this mode for almost two days. My hubby walked outside yesterday morning because the sun had melted OUR driveway. Then he stepped on invisible ice when he got to the street and his feet flew out from under him. Within one second he was flat on his back. I was watching from inside. "Oh crap!", I thought. In the South, people who are 'raised right' don't say sh**. I was ready to call 911 and up he popped. He has a bionic back with steel rods and pins holding it together. I guess that was a good thing because he suffered no ill effects. We missed our chance to win America's Funniest Videos. Where is that camera when you need it?

We have a few more days of this coming up. When we had our children growing up at home it was more fun. We were in and out, trying to scrape up enough snow to make snow balls, warming them up with hot chocolate, throwing wet snow clothes in the dryer. We used to put plastic bags around their feet to stay dry because we didn't always have snow boots. It didn't work! Now I find all this housebound behavior a little on the boring side. Oh well, it IS pretty. We ARE warm. That's a lot to be thankful for...and we are.

Is it cold at your house? What are y'all doing to stay sane?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's a Cold, Driving Day

Looks like I'm going to spend most of the day in the car!  Not my favorite place to be.  Some people love to drive.  I am not one of them!  But it's really, really cold down here in the deep South.

It's not so much that the cold bothers me.  I can always turn up the heat and put on a coat.  It's the pipes I'm concerned about.  Our naked little pipes at the lake are not used to this weather.  They usually have a few spoonfuls of anti freeze in them all winter to keep them safe but not this time.  We could risk it and just see what happens but I'm getting the feeling that's not such a good idea.  So I'm off.

I'm going to turn of the water, drain the pipes, pour in a little anti freeze, give them a kiss and leave.  My sister and I think it's a sign and we'll probably put this little cabin on the market this spring.  It's an emotional thing though.  My dad built most of the cabin himself for mother and him and their retirement and loved every minute of it.  They loved to fish and be outside and they lived only 30 minutes away.  I'm two hours away and even though I love the lake, we just don't go.  Every year we say we are going more but we don't.  It becomes a burden in a way, and an ongoing expense for my mother.

We've debated this issue many, many times since daddy died in 1990.  Mother can't manage it anymore so it's just my sister and me.  Our hubbies are neither one handymen (!) and our sons just aren't that into the lake.  Seems like it's time.  This trip might just do it.

In an hour or two I'm out of here.  I can get there, then down to mother's, pick her up and get back here in about 5 hours total.  Gotta do whatcha gotta do!

I'm taking blankets just in case!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Clean, Green, and Clutter Free

One thing we did better last year than the year before was recycling.  Hopefully this year we'll be even better.  Recycling, to me, means putting everything in the recycle box that you can.  It also means re-using, regifting, and reselling whatever possible. This way there is not nearly as much garbage for the dump, and what does go to the dump will eventually disintegrate.

I know lots of you keep a Goodwill box going because we've talked about it before.  I do.  Whenever I wear something, and at the end of the day I realize I haven't enjoyed wearing it, it goes to the 'box'.  Some of it goes to Goodwill and some of it goes to MUST which supports people who are way down on their luck and need help to survive.    Anyone can go to Goodwill and snag a deal, and in addition, Goodwill provides much needed jobs for local people.  MUST feeds and clothes people and helps them find jobs...so both are good and worthy of donations.

Regifting is obvious.  If I have something that I know someone else would love to have, and maybe I'm ready for it to go, I'm happy to gift it along.  I'd probably tell them the story behind the gift too!

Occasionally I'll sell something on Ebay if I think it's sellable!  It's kind of a hobby that comes and goes.  Somebody gets "a deal", I get rid of something in my way, and my PayPal account grows by a few bucks.

So one of my New Year's Resolutions is to recycle more and stay away from styrofoam which won't recycle.  Just rinse it and put it aside until the next trip to the garage.  Did you know you can recycle cans that vegetables and such come in?  I didn't know that for a long time.  When you recycle cardbaord, metals, and plastics that are recyclable you will hardly have any real garbage left.

Ahhhhhh.  Clean, green, and clutter free!

Friday, January 1, 2010

"Laughter Is In. It's 2010!

This is me!  Had a blast eating my way through Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Starting today, no sugar and no white flour for awhile!  Want to join me?  I'll just switch to Splenda or Truvia and use whole grains instead of white flour.  Not hard at all.

"The Lord says, 'Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?' " Isaiah 43: 18-19.

Happy 2010, everyone.
Laughter is in! It's 2010!