Saturday, August 23, 2014

Quick short story for all of you...

New Texas

The clock struck six.

It had to be done.

The old woman turned and smiled at the nurse who was scheduled to keep tabs on the residents that had gathered for the bi-weekly game night. It would probably be a quiet night, so the nurse had brought something to read to pass the time. There were probably fifty residents in the room at the time, no one would notice if one was gone, at least not right away.

Mary Ellen had had enough of this place with the strict schedules for everything. She was tired of having to eat at a certain time, watch television at a certain time, heck, if they had their way, she would poop at a certain time. As for visitors, they were welcome, within the time frame, of course, but hers only came once a year on the anniversary of her coming to this ridiculous excuse for a living center.

She had planned for quite a long time to leave this place, but finding the opportunity when she would not be missed straight away seemed to elude her on more than one occasion. Her friend, Carol, who had just recently arrived, was finding the charm wore off quickly. For Carol leaving was as simple as walking out the front door; she checked herself in, she could check herself out. Mary Ellen could not do the same since it was her children, Bobby and Becky who had her placed there. They would have to have her released into their custody, which they would never do as it would hinder their social lives.

“Carol, I have an idea that you might think is out there, but I have to pitch it to you anyway”.

“What can I do you for, Mary Ellen” she said, as she paused the old movie about road trips that she was watching .

As Mary Ellen explained her hair-brained idea of leaving to Carol, she was sure that she would be laughed at. After all, Carol seemed to like it here and got along with everyone, why would she want to leave. Imagine the surprise that Mary Ellen received when Carol said, “let’s do this thing”! After weeks of planning down to every last detail, they were ready to put the plan into action.

Carol was ready with her end of the escapade. She was a fan of practical jokes, so the plastic barf on the floor was all the diversion that Mary Ellen needed to slip out the front door. As the mahjong board was being set up, Carol started coughing and gagging, then threw the plastic on the floor. Instantly the other two residents reacted, the old man began retching, the old woman quickly grabbing her walker to get out of the line of fire. The nurse, observing the activity, lazily picked up the phone to ring up housekeeping to clean the mess up and then went back to what she was reading. Perfect. Everything was going according to plan. Becky and Bobby would surely be surprised when they showed up for their annual visit to find her gone, or maybe they would be glad, she wasn’t sure. What she was sure of was that she was a burden to them and she was tired of the boredom that came with each yearly visit.

Mary Ellen Kane was born to greatness, or so her mother had always told her. She would grow up rich and pretty and smart and have all of the fellows following her like hound dogs that were thirsting for water. The problem was, Mary Ellen wasn’t rich and she wasn’t pretty but she sure was smart. Smart enough to win a scholarship to MIT and graduate with honors and a degree in astrophysics. She was a major player in the re-vamped NASA program and was the first woman to walk on Mars. As for having the fellows follow her like thirsty hound dogs, well, there was that, but only because she was smart and now pretty famous. The richness part came after she discovered a quantum flux that helped re-launch the space program and bring it way above its previous glory. That’s when she met a man who so swept her off her feet that she gasped even to this day at the suddenness of the whole romance. Robert Kane was handsome, rich, funny and absolutely in love with Mary Ellen from the moment he set eyes on her. Plainness aside, she had a wit and charm that far outweighed any cheerleader, movie star or even, in his opinion, princess that had come down the pike in the last two hundred years. After a whirlwind romance, they were married and began to rebuild NASA together.

Within two years they had a family of two more, Robert Junior and Rebecca, Bobby and Becky for short, and they raised the children to love the stars as much as they did.  Time went on, the children grew and the love of science became apparent in everything they did.

Carol Harp was Mary Ellen’s assistant on the Mars program and her best friend. Together they were always laughing, sharing bits and pieces of gossip about this person or that or even playing practical jokes on the more stodgy of the scientists. A few were not amused, but Robert would watch and wait to see who would be at the unsuspecting end of one of their jokes, smiling because he had been at the butt end of a couple of them more than once. They never took them too far, probably the barf in the microwave was the worst of it, and usually no one was hurt, except for the time the plastic roach was put behind one of the coffee pots and Dr. Wineman found it. A new pair of loafers, dry cleaned pants and some cold compresses later, apologies were made and promises put forward that plastic roaches would no longer be used in the kitchen. Carol’s and Mary Ellen’s friendship would far outlast any kudos that came for either one of them, any relationship, even time itself, according to those who knew them best.

Shaking off the memories of husband, kids and NASA, Mary Ellen quickly slipped out the front door and waited beside the already in bloom rose bushes on the side of the building. These were the prettiest in New Texas, she thought, because the blooms were so big and fragrant that you could smell them as soon as you hit the circular driveway to the home.
 She thought back to early spring of 2140, the biosphere on the Mars Colony had just been completed. The Mayor of New Texas, as it had been named, dedicated it to Robert and Mary Ellen for all of their hard work, compassion and dedication in seeing that this colony would not only exist, but thrive.
 She remembered when Robert donated these bushes to the retirement home, a new hybrid that bore her name. A few months later he died in a fishing accident. Mary Ellen grieved so deeply that she stopped doing what she loved, stopped taking care of herself or her home to the point that Bobby and Becky were sure that she was a danger to herself. So they put her in this retirement facility where she could be watched 24/7. The only thing that made it bearable was that Carol soon followed, but of her own accord. Three years and two yearly visits from her children later, here she was, no less lonely for her beloved Robert and determined that she was not staying there one day longer.

As Carol rounded the corner to meet up with Mary Ellen, she saw the familiar look of sadness on Mary Ellen’s face. “C’mon, Louise! You and me, well we’ve got some road to tear up!”

“You’re right, Thelma, we do and it’s a long way back home to Houston!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trending

The trending word since Robin William's passing is: Depression. There, I said it, and you know, I probably can say with some certainty that a good portion of the world population either has it or has dealt with it on some sort of level. Actually, according to the CDC, over 121 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression. That's some substantial numbers.

Someone once said that the funny people of the world have so many masks that they forget who they are, they get lost in the "funny" because that is what distracts them from the depression. When there is no longer a response to the antics, the jokes or the anecdotes, reality hits. Depression hits with all its got.

That is not to say that all funny people have depression. That is to say that this is one example. Depression rears its ugly head in many forms. PTSD. Post-Partum Depression. Bi-Polarism. SAD. Psychotic Depression. Neurons that don't fire properly. A wronged spouse. A child of divorce. A child of abuse...the list is longer than a city block. The plain simple fact is anyone can be a victim of depression. I know, I've been there.

No, I haven't had the extremes, but its been there. I was able to address it with my doctor who helped me through it. Am I cured? Maybe, but I have some mighty low valleys sometimes. Will I ever get to the low of hopelessness? I would like to say that my faith would prohibit me from being there, but being a fallible human being, I couldn't tell you that for sure.

I have some friends who have been there, in that valley that you can't tell up from down. Visible scars are there to remind them of where they were and that they conquered the Beast, at least for now. Invisible scars remind them that life is but a whisper that is more than precious, but oh, so precarious. I can't know how desperate they were to remove themselves from this hopelessness, but I am certainly thankful to God that they are still around to tell their stories, to maybe help someone on that slippery slope know that they are not alone.

So why am I writing about depression? To help friends and family. To make others aware of the signs of depression. To keep depression from claiming someone I love. If I can do that by writing this, by giving you links and encouraging you to see your doctor if you suspect you might be even a little depressed, then I've done my job. Please, don't lose hope. Don't give in to the lie that you are worthless or that your family would be better off without you. Don't give in to the lies that would take you to that valley and hold you down. It may be a temporary fix for you, but its a life of questions that can never be answered by those you leave behind. It is a life of "what-ifs" that will always hover in the background, tapping them on the shoulders.

If you suspect that yourself or a loved one has depression, please see a doctor. You can also find some information and articles on the links below.

http://www.webmd.com/depression/
http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2014/08/12/five-common-myths-about-depression/
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/


God Bless, my friends.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Confession time

I have to confess. I have zero idea how young parents do it these days.

With so many things to grab little one's attention, they seem to flit from one thing to another. Gone are the days when they could focus on one thing at a time, its no wonder teachers and doctors over compensate and rule youngsters hyperactive! Here's my take on it.

Now, mind you, this is only my opinion. I am not a medical professional, a therapist or any kind of expert apart from being Grandma Kitty. That said, little ones these days have waaaayyyy too much to grab their attention. Between the television, radio, video games, ipods and ipads, computers, not to mention the interactive toys, there's no way that kiddos can just use their imaginations.

When my Granddaughters are here, we limit the television time, mostly because some of the show are more annoying and they don't watch them anyway. There is no computer time for them, but there is coloring, playing outside with the dogs, coloring the patio with chalk, blowing bubbles and other things to keep them busy inside and out. The toys they have inside do not do tricks, make noise or make decisions for them. They have toy bugs, soldiers, animals, dolls, a barn for the farm animals, books (Yes, real books with pages and everything) and two of their favorite things are the dogs kennels (which really bums out Bailey, she doesn't like the huge stuffed bear that is currently taking up her space), an empty candle box and an empty coffee container. Its amazing the conversations I hear (at least the ones I can comprehend) when they are playing together with these toys.

They have figured out the animal's water bowl is fun for floating cat toys in and that the cats like to chase strings or even toilet paper that is dragged behind them (the girls), and that the dogs really like cookies, their own or the girls, they're not picky. Oh, and the time out chair is really handy for getting Grandma's books off the shelf or for climbing up on top of the kennels. That chair has yet to be used for time out.

To be honest, my two were a whole lot easier to deal with, they didn't have all of the things kids now days have to grab their attention, only because some of this stuff hadn't been invented yet. However, that said, the granddaughters are handling Grandma's version of play a lot better than I had anticipated. They love the barn and animals, although I'm not sure how many real barn animals would handle a giant fly invading their space. ;) They love to color but the little plastic army men, knights, bugs and animals are their favorite apart from chasing the cats down to pick them up and carry them around the house the way that toddlers carry cats.
Yeah, the cats generally make themselves scarce just for this reason.

**sigh**

So, my confession? I love my Granddaughters to Jupiter and back. They make me smile, make me laugh and sometimes make me wonder why I gave up swearing . I'm a little more laid back with them than I was with their Mama, only because I've figured out how to get crayon off the walls and furniture without taking the finish off or washing away the color. I'm less likely to fuss at them about running in the house, only because I'm afraid the mosquitoes outside will take off with them, because you know, everything in Texas is bigger.

Am I perfect? Psh! Heck no! I'm far from perfect. There are days that I count the seconds when one of the Kids will be off work, but then there are days that when I hear my messages go off, I look at the clock and go, "Really? That time already"? We'll be exploring the places around here that we didn't when my girls were younger, because then I was working and "didn't have time" and of course, I have to spill the beans...I'm sure there will be days when I sugar them up and hand them off. Okay, maybe not, but then again...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A revisit to Erma Bombeck

As I was doing my dusting today, which is not a daily occurrence mind you, I came across a poem that I hold near and dear to my heart. It was published on May 11, 1980 and its called The Special Mother by Erma Bombeck.

As I watched my "Chatty Cathy" do her chores today, I really had to smile at God's sense of humor, or at the very most, His wisdom in bringing the Mouse into my life. Because of her presence, my life turned upside-down and, Praise God, it has not been the same since. When I found this poem initially, I was living in Denver and it had been reprinted in the local newspaper. Immediately I connected with the poem and sent her a letter, in care of the paper she syndicated out of, telling her how much the poem meant to me and thanking her. I received a letter back thanking me for my letter, signed by Erma Bombeck. It is still one of my treasured items.

So, in honor of Erma, my Mouse and all of the Special Needs Moms and Kids, here is The Special Mother by Erma Bombeck. Enjoy.

The Special Mother
             by
Erma Bombeck

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit.
This year, nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of handicapped children. Did you ever wonder how mothers of handicapped children are chosen?

Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth, son. Patron saint, Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, Patron saint Cecilia."

"Rutledge, Carrie, twins, Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a handicapped child."

The angel is curious. "Why this one, God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God. "Could I give a handicapped child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."

"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has his own world. She has to make him live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But Lord, I don't think she even believes in You." God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps, "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word'. She will never consider a 'step' ordinary. When her child says 'Mama" for the first time, she will be present at a miracle and know it! When she describes a tree or a sunset to her blind child, she will see it as few people ever see My creations."

"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice...and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life because she is doing My work as surely as she is here by My side."

"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sticks and stones and other things

A dear friend of mine said this morning, "Words hurt." At this very moment, I whole-heartedly agree. As much as I want to say that words don't mean as much as actions, today I have to take that all back.

Words can be uplifting or devastating. The Bible itself has many things to say about that little member we call the tongue. James 3:8 says, "But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison," and I will agree. So many times we just don't think about the things that come out of our mouths. Then again, there are times we do think, but it is in a moment of passion, saying things that we regret but cannot take back.

When a person is hit by a barrage of words spoken in anger, frustration or fear, even though the recipient's face may reflect hurt, anger, fear or neutrality, the hurt runs deep. It runs to the very quick of the soul, planting a poison that cannot easily be contained.

When misunderstanding or assumption is mixed in, hurt spreads faster, deeper than we can imagine. The person who is assaulted by the barrage is left wounded, wondering what they had done or why they are the victim. To me, this kind of assault is as bad as a physical assault. The wounds are evident, if only for a small amount of time in the countenance of the person, but that person will carry that assault with them for a lifetime, wounding the self-esteem, the confidence, the joy that they had held prior.

I have to wonder sometimes, if a person who wounds another person in such a way has been wounded themselves sometime in the past. And as I sit and ponder that question, I have come to the conclusion that, yes, they have. It may not have been intentional. It may have been an invisible sibling rivalry that sprung up when they were yet in grade school. It may have been a word that was spoken by a parent or a person that was held in high esteem. A person on the receiving end of a barrage may never know the hurt the other person experienced, in fact, the person spewing the poison may not fully know themselves.

So, what then? Are we to take the anger, the bitterness, the fear, the hate? No, but to retaliate with the same only puts you on a level you shouldn't be on. As much as your heart may hurt, it is imperative that you trust the situation to God. Okay, I hear the noise y'all are making out there, the questions of why. It's simple; God knows your heart, and He knows the heart of the one who is the speaker of the words. He will hear your cries and give you peace, even if you are not privy to the why of the matter. He will work in your heart and the heart of the offender. Even if the end result is separation, it is for the better. Yes, there will be heartbreak and sadness, but the poison will be out of your system, so to speak. If you are part and parcel of the outburst because of a misstep, then apology and an attempt at restoration are mandatory for you. If the other party is unwilling to accept either, then it is on them, you must wash your hands of the situation, give it to God and don't look back. Will you be tempted to go back to try to do more? Yes, and God will allow you to do that as many times as you want to, but until you trust and have faith that He is able and willing to handle the situation, it is an exercise in futility.

Give it to God. Lay it at His feet, then walk away from it. Its not worth the heartache. Its not worth the decline in health because you continue to pick it up to try to deal with it on your own. You don't know the root cause, therefore you cannot fix it. Its not worth the rift it will cause by constantly picking it up and revisiting it. Healing comes from Jehovah Rapha and no other. We have to trust in that.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Diary of a Crazy Cat Lady

For those of you who have been following me for a bit, you probably are aware that I now have two books out; The Father's Footsteps, which is a political suspense (fiction), and Diary of a Crazy Cat Lady (also fiction), which is pretty much self explanatory...it's a humor book. Well.

 Sometime last month I had filled out a survey from one of the book sites that I'm connected with, don't remember which one it is now...I have CRS... "Can't Remember Stuff". Anyway, I get this phone call this morning from a marketing rep and we talked for about an hour about all kinds of things. Now, understand, I have nothing out that qualifies as non-fiction, which is what the survey was for, and if you were picked, then you would get this consult. Imagine my surprise when I call back (I was not fast enough to catch the call initially) and find that I was picked for the consult! So, we're talking about the books, he's asking about my aspirations for my writing, and he tells me that I'm one of the best kept secrets out there. Huh?

If you've been following my book, as I know some of you are, you no doubt have seen that even with the small amount of reviews, they have all been five-star. Even folks who have read the book and have not reviewed it on Amazon have given me good feedback. There is even one lady who will be bringing the book before the school board to see if she can use it in the reading program for her fourth grade class! Fantastic reviews! Still, nothing has really caught the attention of anyone until now.

As it happens, this fellow has three fabulous felines himself and can personally say that he can connect with my book. He said that even though the survey was for mostly non-fiction, that he believes that we can do some amazing stuff with Diary. He even went to so far as to ask if it went to Hollywood, who would I envision playing Eloise! My response? Gwenyth Paltrow was the first to come to mind...then Cameron Diaz, then Jennifer Aniston. I could really see this in my mind's eye as happening! He wasn't selling me on anything, he was asking if I could envision it, and yes, I could honestly say I could!

At the end of the consultation, he gave me some websites to check out and will be contacting me again tomorrow to see if I have any questions, comments or concerns. Bottom line, no talk of "if you get this then we can help you, or if you sign up for that then we can make you a star." He came to where I was and is willing to answer questions and point me in the right marketing direction. My thinking is this...if I want to continue with their 'paid' help, then I have the ability to do so. If I want to do this all myself, then they have given me the ability to find the resources to do so.

Okay, I know what you're thinking..."What are you thinking?" and I know this could be a "What are you thinking??" or "So, what are you thinking?" question. To be honest, I don't know. I like the idea that I could have lifetime access to resources with one relatively small transaction, but I really am liking the idea that I have been pointed in a fairly decent direction for marketing that I didn't know existed.
He suggested product placement....blog affiliation, all kinds of things that I can do on my own to succeed in getting DoaCCL out there and in people's conversations...I don't know! I'm kind of confused and excited all at the same time. Does that make sense?

Anyway, tomorrow will probably bring more questions, but then again it could be the break that I've been looking for. I would love it if I could get in touch with my niece who is a screenplay writer to ask her some questions about screenwriting and such, but from what I understand, that's a pretty difficult thing to do. **sigh** I guess I will do some praying and thinking, and some more praying about what I think is best and go from there. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, comments or whatever, trust me, I would love hearing from you. This is one time that I'm going to literally beg for your feedback.  I mean, really...who wouldn't want to be on Ellen or Oprah as a guest author! ;)

Y'all have a blessed week! Thank you for all of your support!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

To those who think I've consumed too much "Kool-aide"

Think again.

Can't stand the stuff, way too much sugar or fake sugar for me.

Now, for the heart of the matter. I posted a photo about who I am, Christian-wise. It accurately depicts what a Christian is. This is the gist of it:

I am not perfect. I never claimed to be perfect and salvation through Christ is a comfort to me. What do I mean? I mean that even when I screw up, when my mouth has engaged light years before my brain is even awake (read: not enough coffee or too much coffee)...when my thoughts are not as clean as they could be or my actions speak louder than my Bible verses, then Christ has me covered. Am I supposed to go "oh, well!" and skip along my merry way? Psh! No. I am to do the proper thing and make whatever I goofed up right.
Am I a mess? A dear friend of mine once called me a "hot mess," so, yeah, maybe I am.

Do I go to church every time the doors are open? No, I don't. Sometimes its because I can't get out of bed, thank you fibromyalgia (although, Praise God, lately those times have been few and far between), or I'm sick and I don't want to get everyone else sick. Besides, sitting there coughing through a whole sermon makes it hard to hear the message. Should I be there more often? Sure...I know I need more teaching...more relating and commiserating with those who have "been there, done that" or have more "junk in their trunk" than I do.

Do I sin? Yup, more times than I care to recount here. BUT. The thing is, I try like the dickens to not sin...I try not to gossip, I try not to lie...I try not to do the things I know are wrong. Sometimes I fail miserably, sometimes I'm victorious.

Bottom line here? I'm no different than anyone else. Well, yeah, I guess in a sense I am. I'm like Avis...they used to have a slogan, "We try harder"...well, I try harder to be better than I was. I try to see things through another person's eyes before I judge them. I try to give of my abundance when I can or pay it forward in whatever manner I can. I try because I want to be more like Jesus and the example He lived out for us while He was here on this earth. I want to make things better for others, even if its only one person. If providing shelter for a day, week, month or months makes a difference for a friend, then that is what is done. If someone has had their card turned down in the grocery line and I have the means to help, then by golly, I'm going to do it. If someone is on a street corner and I have the niggle to help in whatever way I can, then I'm going to try to help. Does that make me better than you? No, just uniquely placed so that I am able to assist.

The thing about me is, once upon a time, I never saw the needs of others. I went along my merry way and didn't worry about anyone but myself. When I became a Christian, no, it didn't change over night, but my eyes began to see things that I never saw before, and my heart melted. I couldn't believe that I would pass up a human being because he stank, or because she was old, or because they had food stamps to help care for their child. I don't do that anymore.

 This is not to toot my own horn, but to explain why I refuse to back down on my faith. I saw where I was and I didn't like who I was becoming. Jesus gave me a fresh look and the opportunities to make things better in my bubble-realm and when it was/is time, then that bubble would pop and I would be able to help more. I don't think I'm better than anyone else, I'm just well placed sometimes, and in the end I won't have to come up with excuses why I didn't love my neighbor like I was told to.