Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Moody Judie - Part II

Read Part I

That sleepless night was not just a low point in my mood cycle. It was a dark place made worse by excessive eating. Even after months of working out and some success with dieting, I was into the food again and that blinded me to all the good I had accomplished.

But that night something was different from all the other times I was in that dark place. There was a sliver of light. It was faint, but definitely there. It was a reminder that what I was feeling was a feeling...and that feelings are NOT facts. It was a remembrance of good times when despite the facts of my life being the same as they were now, I felt differently. I just knew there were good days ahead, even if none of the facts of my life changed.

That sliver of light was God's answer to my cries.

As I cried I finally gave up my own will in this area of my life. I decided that even if I never conquered my food problem and never lost weight and never again had the love of a husband that I would continue to trust God. I would take what He gave me and do the best I could with it. I would strive to fulfill His purpose for whatever days He would give me in this body. And after I cried, I slept long and peacefully. I woke up in the same body with the same life I had the night before. But I was out of the dark place.

Of course it was God. God always hears us. We either don't take the time to listen for His answer, or we don't like the answer and just pretend we didn't hear it.

Now some of you may scoff at my explanation. You may say that it wasn't God, that it is a well-known fact that crying can provide a psychological and physiological release of stress that results in a feeling of well-being. I'm not going to argue with that.

I'll just ask you to remember Who made us this way.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Moody Judie gets a clue (once again)

Are you like me? Are there some lessons you have to learn over and over and over and over again? No matter how many times I go through this, it still suprises me at some level.

I have written before about my tendency to swing from high to low, energy-wise. I will have these waves of energy and enthusiasm when I get more done in a day or two than I got done for months before. When those waves come I ride them as long as I can.

When the wave crashes, things I really care about - like writing here - seem too much work to even consider. And it's not necessarily depression, although I suppose it could be. It is like my answer to everything is "meh", which I understand just became an actual word. Good word.

Well, I'm riding one of those energy waves now. I'm sitting in my cute, clean, tidy apartment, where a week ago I made a discovery akin to one you would have on an archeological dig. I picked up something that I know had been on the floor since August 11, 2008. Seriously. Nothing gross, just some laundry from an event at my church (for those of you in the know, it was the aprons from the kitchen at Polish Fest...clean but with the strings hopelessly tangled from the dryer).

What is surprising about my latest trip through Meh Valley (why use one metaphor when two is twice as nice?) is that during that same time I was going to the gym 4-5 times a week. For the first time in my entire life I was actually working on getting fit. I was so psyched up...working out with a trainer, feeling great, losing pounds and inches and body fat percentage. But I would get home and simply not care that the ironing board had been out since shortly after the last time I had company (which may or may not have been July 19, 2008...I'm looking into that).

Fortunately, when I hit my low point during a recent sleepless night, I remembered all the other times this has happened and I told myself over and over that I would not feel this way forever. And then I let myself cry. That is something I don't do often enough. I feel embarassed to cry, even when I'm alone. I'm afraid somebody will hear me.

Well, Somebody did.

(to be continued)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's that smell?

"What's that smell in this room? Didn't you notice it, Brick? Didn't you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?" That's "Big Daddy Pollitt" in one of my favorite movies - "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".

There ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity. And that's all I smell as I count down the days (19) until this interminable election season is over.

The movie is about one day in the life of a family torn apart by lies and liars. Only when a family crisis causes the lies to come to light is the family set on the road to healing. It's extremely painful, and they almost don't make it through.

Here's another line from the movie that sums up what I mostly feel about the media, the pollsters and even the candidates right now:

"I don't know what to believe in. Now what's the good of livin' if you got nothin' to believe in?"

Yep, you have to have something to believe in. Just don't make it a politician.

Democracy is not pretty. You have to dig through miles of crap to get to the truth of a situation, because everyone involved is going to spin it to make themselves look good or convince you their actions aren't what you should pay attention to. They tell you what they think you want to hear, or what they want you to believe. No wonder so many people are turned off by politics.

And it's nothing new. I'm finally getting towards the end of a biography of our second president, John Adams. Even our country's earliest elections were marred by lies and corruption and mind-boggling spin. All that has changed are the delivery methods.

If you're a voter, make sure your decision is based on as much of the truth as you can dig up. Don't believe anyone whose promises don't line up with the actions they have taken at times when it really counted. Get as close to their core values as you possibly can.

And trust that God will continue to bless this nation of ours, no matter who we elect. That is what I have to believe in.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We will get what we deserve

I don't write about politics much. I enjoy following it, but I'm no expert. I know a lot of the players, and I know my position on most issues.

I know some of you are apathetic to politics. Maybe you don't think your one vote matters. If that were the case, candidates would not be spending millions of dollars to get you to vote for them.

The thing is, decisions being made today are going to affect you in one way or another your entire life. Promises by candidates to give more and more are nice, but guess what...NOTHING IS FREE. For every new program or giveaway, there is a cost. For every promised tax cut for one section of the population, there is a tax hike for another. And for most good intentions, there is at least one negative consequence.

There may be times when all the candidates sound alike. How do you know what to believe? It used to be that a candidate could say one thing to one crowd, and something different to another crowd, and nobody would know the difference. In this age of instant communication, they simply can't get away with it. There's still a lot of spin - and too much of candidates acting like whiny babies lately - but there are ways to get at the truth.

One way of getting at the truth is to follow the money. The economic mess we're in right now? Dig into it, and you will find out who benefitted financially. Which executives took huge pay packages while their companies were failing? Which candidates took contributions from those executives? Did the candidate then look the other way or vote for a bill that favored that company or industry?

As they used to say at the beginning of the X-Files - the truth is out there.

I believe that in our democracy, we ultimately get what we deserve. If we don't get involved, and hold our elected leaders to high standards, then we shouldn't complain. The more we turn away, the more they can get away with.

Get involved. Register to vote. Know the candidates and the issues. Dig deep. Even work for a candidate or cause you believe in.

Don't take this grand experiment called America for granted. If you do, it might just die of neglect.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Seven years and eleven days ago...

...I became a widow, seven years and eleven days after becoming a wife. Doesn't mean anything, really. Just maybe it's the last milestone.

The story is here, told for the last time on this blog.

Daniel was loved - by God, his family, his friends and his wife. And love never dies.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A lovely thought

Here's a mental picture for all you other single Christian girls out there who sometimes fret about finding the right guy:

(Courtesy of Facebook and Pieces of Flair)

Friday, August 29, 2008

50 by 50 - The List

Here it is. The 50 things I will do before I turn 50 in two years (in no particular order):

1. Get a tatoo.
2. Go sailing.
3. Climb the rock wall at the gym.
4. Go snowmobiling.
5. Go to the top of Pike's Peak.
6. Sing a solo in church.
7. Go camping (the real kind - tents, peeing in the woods, etc.)
8. Visit Graceland.
9. Go parasailing.
10. Learn to shoot a gun.
11. Bowl a 200+ game.
12. Learn to do cartwheels.
13. Visit a country I have never been to before.
14. Learn to water ski.
15. Learn to drive a motocycle.
16. Sell an article to a magazine.
17. Get certified in CPR.
18. Ride in a hot air balloon.
19. Ride an adult-size roller coaster.
20. Go cross-country skiing.
21. Go jet skiing.
22. Ride a horse.
23. Attend a real rock concert (I was told that seeing Journey in 1981 does not count).
24. Go on an out of state road trip with the youth group. (I've done this many times, but this one was requested by my niece.)
25. Visit Branson, Missouri.
26. Go scuba diving.
27. Go on a blind date.
28. Write a song.
29. Perform in community theatre.
30. Build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
31. Join the bone marrow donor registry.
32. Go hunting.
33. Learn to rollerblade.
34. Go skateboarding.
35. Golf 18 holes. Yes, in one day.
36. Enter a poker tournament.
37. Learn to play poker (I told you this list was in no particular order).
38. Go ice skating.
39. Write a novel.
40. Take a cooking class.
41. Take a karate (or other martial art) class.
42. Learn to speak Polish.
43. Go to the Kentucky Derby (just so I have an excuse to buy an awesome hat).
44. Ride a Segway.
45. Learn to dive from a diving board.
46. Do a flip on a trampoline.
47. Catch a fish.
48. Take a yoga class in Millenium Park.
49. Walk in a charity event.
50. Post a video of me doing any of these things on YouTube.

OK, some of these are kinda lame. But it's a darn long list! I'm not sure which one is more scary to me - #19 or #27.

And to my friend who suggested I could do any or all of these things naked, YES. I will do #42 naked, but I won't be posting it on YouTube!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

50 by 50

This is a limited-time offer. You have one week to contribute to a very worthwhile life experience. Fifty of them, actually.

In two years + one week (God willing) I will celebrate my 50th birthday. And between August 29, 2008 and August 29, 2010 I pledge to myself to do 50 things that I have either never done before, or did so long ago that it doesn't count.

I have a list going and it is nowhere near 50 items, so I need your help. I'm not saying I will accept every single suggestion (I'm not crazy), but if it is somewhat reasonable, absolutely legal, and does not conflict with my core values I will add it to the list.

A lot of things on the list will depend on my continuing to get fit and lose weight, like climbing a rock wall at the gym and learning to do cartwheels (seriously). I want to go snowmobiling, horseback riding and water skiing...stuff like that. I might ride a giant roller coaster, but I probably would not go sky diving.

And I want to visit several places I have never been before, like Graceland and Branson. And bowl a 200+ game (my lifetime high score is 197). And maybe sing on YouTube.

If you would like to contribute suggestions, post a comment or send me an email. I'll publish the list on my birthday and start the clock. And if you want to join me on any of the adventures, just let me know!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sad but true

This news has actually made me very sad. Once again, image wins over substance.

In the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces, Rose Morgan is a literature professor who has never liked her looks. Rose has a beautiful mother, a gorgeous sister and a handsome husband who married her specifically because he is not sexually attracted to her (the reason given is somewhat hard to believe). At one point in the movie Rose asks her mother what it felt like to be admired for her beauty. Her mother hesitates, but then admits - "it was wonderful".

Rose is played by Barbra Streisand, a woman who may not be beautiful in a classic sense, but is extremely talented and successful because she worked hard and made the most of the gifts she was given. Those gifts include one of the most wonderful voices the world has ever known, which could have been ruined if she had succumbed to a common beautifying tactic - a nose job.

Today more than ever, in too many aspects of our culture, beauty is of the highest value - more important than talent or intelligence or personality. I wish I had the strength of character to say with certainty that I would rather be who I am - a woman who might be thought of as beautiful but only after you get to know me - than someone who the world knows is beautiful. But some days I just don't know.

Some days I really want to know what it's like on the other side.

Monday, August 04, 2008

It's good to be home...

...after being trapped in a Walgreen's during a severe storm. A tornado touched down a few towns away.

Even if the power goes out now, at least I'm home.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Office

As you know I don't have a TV. But I can watch some TV shows online, and I rent from Netflix.

It only took two DVDs and a few episodes online, and now I'm hooked. Yep, I'm a big fan of The Office.

I think Jim is so cute. And I love it when he plays tricks on Dwight.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Please come back to us

A friend of ours has all but disappeared. We know where he is, but he has cut off all contact.

There are times in my life when I don't want to see anyone, talk to anyone, or even leave the house - those times when I am balancing on the fence between a bad mood and real depression. I eat too much, sleep too much, don't answer the phone. Those times are few and far between now, thank God.

So I can understand when somebody wants to go "offline" for a while and just be alone. But there is a point at which it has gone on too long. We are at that point.

I don't think you mean to, but by denying us your company you are hurting the people who love you. If you have a problem, ask for help. You have friends who would drop everything and walk a thousand miles for you. If none of us can help, we will find somebody who can.

And if you can't talk to anybody else, talk to Him. He wants you back too.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

Congratulations to Bryan and Lisa on their second wedding anniversary!

Back then I wrote a series on marriage that I hope you'll enjoy reading again. It starts here.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Witness my fitness


(drum roll please)

Aunt Judie's Excellent Fitness Adventure! It's a new blog I've created just for chronicling my efforts to lose weight and get fit.

I don't get many comments here, but I would sure appreciate your encouraging words there. Please visit often (there's a link on the left side of this page).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Breakaway - Part 7

Read from Part 1

"You can't go home again." That's the old saying my supervisor used when I let her know I was quitting and moving back to Chicago. I didn't really understand what she meant, because of course I could go home. And I did.

I arrived back in Chicago the same way I left. A friend had driven me to the airport in December and that same friend picked me up the follow August. So by age 21 I had moved out and back in to my father's home three times, two of those times being on my own (paying my own way). Over the next few years I would actually do that a couple more times before he finally (and rightly) told me it was time to leave the nest for good.

Breaking away from the life you know to try something new is a good thing to do, especially if you are doing it in a smart way for the right reasons. And sometimes even if that is not the case, it's still an OK thing to do. I left my home and my job and my real friends because I was bored with my life. And the way I did it wasn't well thought out - I moved thousands of miles away to a place I had never been with no job, no car, almost no money and no real friends to depend on.

But it turned out alright for several reasons. First, I had a lifeline. I had not burned bridges when I left home. The foundation of my life - my family - would be there, and I remained tethered to that foundation. And I had my core beliefs. I knew what my limits were, what I was willing and not willing to do. And I was not too proud to admit when I was lonely or broke or scared.

Some people have told me they admire me for what I did back then, that my breakaway was "brave". I don't think of it that way. It was just something I needed to do, and when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. I didn't need to be brave, because I always knew I could go home.

So, to those of you who are feeling the need to take a big step outside or away from the life you know, I say go for it. But do it better and smarter than I did. At least visit the place you're thinking of before you actually move there! Don't assume or fantasize what it will be like to live there. Save up some money so your options (like where and with whom you will live) aren't so limited. Don't be too proud to ask for help when you need it. Hold onto those lifelines of family and friends. You will learn that those lifelines will stretch a very long way, but don't let them break.

And above all, know yourself. Before you test your core beliefs in a new situation, you have to know what those beliefs are. You already do, but you may not realize it until they are tested.

And in the end, maybe that's what a breakaway is really all about.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Breakaway - Part 6

Read from Part 1

When I say "core beliefs", I'm not talking about my faith or religious beliefs. And I'm not talking about what is legal or socially acceptable at any given time. Although my core beliefs may sometimes align to some of those things, they aren't dictated by them. I use this term to describe the boundaries I have put on my own behavior, based on what I believe to be the best way for me to live.

For example, there is my core belief that casual sex is not good for me. There is certainly a religious alignment there for me now, but back then there really wasn't. And then there is my core belief that you don't mess with another girl's guy. There is certainly no law against that, but it is just something I wouldn't do.

So when the guy roommate suggested on more than one occasion that we get on his motorcycle and go away from where we were and see where life would take us, I didn't consider it for a moment. Well, maybe once I did consider it, but just for a moment.

Funny thing was, he never made sexual advances towards me. He just wanted to run away and take me with him. I never flattered myself thinking it was because he had feelings for me. He needed a breakaway, maybe because of a fear of commitment (he had been married three times already). I don't know for sure. But I knew it certainly wasn't the right thing for me.

And considering that a lot of his friends had been from his heroin days, the fact that none of our partying and flirting and kissing led to sex is what may have saved my life. Very little was known about AIDS at that time...it was just starting to be diagnosed (and almost exclusively in the gay community) in the United States. Had I not stuck to my core beliefs, there is a very good possibility that I could have contracted the disease from an IV-drug user.

Don't get me wrong...this does not make me a better person than any of them. I'm not talking about sin or even right and wrong (as seen by others). It just means that those core beliefs served me well in that situation.

By the time I had decided to move back home to Chicago, the roommates were ready to move to their own place together. He had not run away. When I left they were renting a house together and seemed happy. They also both had hepatitis.

We lost contact after about a year.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

I grew up without a mother. She left when I was eight and had very little contact with us before she died nine years later. Thank God for my father, the man who struggled and sacrificed daily to bring up his four children while also conquering his own demons. And thank God for the other people in our lives who helped fill the void.

A girl growing up without a mother is one kind of pain. A boy growing up without a father is something different. Pastor Greg Laurie writes his Father's Day thoughts for the fatherless from his own experience.

So today, give thanks to your heavenly Father for your earthly father, and pray for those without fathers, especially boys. Also pray today for those who have lost their dear fathers since last Father's Day.

And if you can, give each one of them a big hug.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Breakaway - Part 5

Read from Part 1

This is not easy for me to write. It might seem like no big deal to some people, but admitting so publicly what I was like during that time is embarassing.

I was 20 years old and living 2,000 miles from home in an environment where booze and drugs were everywhere. Nobody around me seemed to think it was a big deal. The drugs didn't interest me. I had tried pot a couple of times in high school and I didn't like the feeling. I would try cocaine once a few years later, but that's only because I was drunk at the time.

My favorite way to party was good old-fashioned booze. And because the guy roommate was older, getting it was no problem. The only problem was paying for it. I remember several times when I was so broke before payday that I was literally counting my change to see if I had enough money to get a burger at the corner Jack-n-the-Box.

For the most part I was a weekend partier. It usually didn't affect my work, but there were a couple of times when I had to call in sick because of a hangover. But it was what I almost did several times while under the influence that could have killed me. Because not only were booze and drugs readily available, so was casual sex.

Ever since I found out the specific details of sex (a friend explained it to me during the most boring class of my four years of high school - freshman music), I knew that it could never be considered casual or something to do just for fun. And at the time I wasn't remotely religious, so it wasn't that God would be unhappy. It was just such an intimate act that I could not even imagine sharing it with someone unless it was part of a committed love relationship. This became one of my core beliefs.

So of course I ended up with the reputation of being a tease and a prude. I would party and drink and that lead to flirting and kissing and to the guys that implied a promise of lots more to follow. But it wasn't just during the parties that those opportunities presented themselves. I was living with a guy whose girlfriend spent several evenings a week at school. The guy was a former heroin addict.

And it was 1981...and most of the world was about to hear about AIDS for the first time.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Breakaway - Part 4

Read from Part 1

Back in the 1970s there was a great TV show called Three's Company, about two girls and a guy sharing an apartment in Southern California. My situation wasn't exactly the same, as the other girl and her guy shared a room and I had my own.

The problem was this is not what I agreed to. I was paying half the rent. It took me weeks after I realized the guy wasn't leaving to get up the courage to bring this up to my roommates. They didn't see a problem, as the guy didn't take up much space, and besides, all the furniture was hers so she should have to pay less anyway. I still didn't think it was fair, but given the circumstances I decided I could live with it.

I talked to my dad on the phone every Sunday. One week he would call me, and the next I would call him. And every single week the first thing he said was "has that guy moved out yet?" He really, really disliked the idea of me living with them.

In the eight months we lived together, I experienced several new adventures and witnessed some behavior that, had I gone to college, might not have surprised me. Being so close to the university campus, our building was virtually a coed college dorm. Fortunately, most of the action took place in the recreation room down the hall where I couldn't hear it.

But on balance, it wasn't too bad. The gal was really smart and we had some great conversations, and debates about society and politics were my favorite. She had very liberal views, especially about sex and relationships. The guy roommate was from the South and would make us eggs with biscuits and sausage gravy every couple of weeks. He wasn't even 30 yet and had been married and divorced three times! He had been a heroin addict, but only smoked weed when I knew him (I think).

Some of my personal adventures during my time there, quite frankly, I'm ashamed of and not comfortable sharing in detail here. But what I want to tell you is that my core beliefs almost certainly saved my life.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

Breakaway - Part 3

Read from Part 1

The job I had just started was in a fairly large office of an electronics company. I worked in the sales department as a secretary, and another secretary there had a friend who needed a roommate. It seemed like the perfect solution for both of us. So I entered into a shared housing situation with a virtual stranger.

There is something about a lack of fear - along with a lack of funds - that makes you do things that, in a different situation, you would never dream of doing. I guess you really just do what you have to do, but only up to the limits created by your core beliefs. Which, by the way, is why it is so important to have them.

My new roommate D and I found an apartment near the university where she was taking classes at night. It was a pretty cool place in Long Beach, on that great road called the Pacific Coast Highway. We were on the third floor (I think) and on a clear night you could see the lights of the Queen Mary. The apartment was designed for roommates, with two bedrooms on opposite sides of the unit, each with its own bathroom.

Within a week we were moving in. She had her own furniture, which was good since I had none. I somehow acquired a used mattress and box spring and slept on them on the floor.

The day we moved in the terms of our living arrangement changed, but I didn't know it at the time. D's boyfriend A helped us move, and he spent the night. The next day D asked if I minded if A stayed for a couple of weeks until he found another place. Sure, why not?

Well, he never left.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breakaway - Part 2

Read Part 1

To my 20-year-old self, it seemed perfectly reasonable to pick up and move 2,000+ miles away. I had friends to stay with, and I had skills that would get me a job in any office in no time. I had no car and very little money. But all I remember feeling was excitement.

I figured it was best to tell my dad I had a job before I left. I knew he would worry, and I so I planned to tell him a second lie when I actually did get a job and say the first one just didn't work out. No harm done, right? Well, the problem was I told him I was going to work at a Westin Hotel (I had actually put in an application there). So the day after I left, who calls my dad's looking for me to set up an interview? The Westin Hotel of course!

My dad was a wonderful father. He gave us a lot of freedom, and fostered our independence. He rarely yelled. When he was really upset he would be devastatingly silent. At least that's how I remembered it.

Thinking back all these years later, I cringe at what I must have put him through with that move. His 20-year-old daughter flies away to live with people he has never met, so far away that the possibility of visiting was slim. But at least she has a job...NOT. When he called me on my lie, I could tell he was more disappointed than angry. And concerned, of course. And hurt. Hurting him was the worst feeling in the world.

Within a couple of weeks I had a job. Finding a job wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, and it was a three-bus-ride commute! I was surprised. I had assumed that all big cities had the kind of transportation system that Chicago had. Boy was I wrong on that!

And shortly thereafter my friends asked me to move out. I don't remember exactly why the welcome mat was pulled out from under me so suddenly, but they broke up not too long after that.

So I had a job but now needed a new place to live.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


The young people in my life are growing up. I see them hit those milestones like driving, first jobs, graduation, moving out...and I remember what it was like to be taking those first big steps on my own. It was exciting to say the least, but sometimes daunting and just a little bit scary.

We all have breakway moments, when we know it is time to take one of the bigger big steps. We may have no idea what that step should be, but we just know we have to take one. It's like a growth spurt. You don't recognize it when it is first starting, but soon you know that you will just bust out of your skin if you don't make a move.

By the time I was 20, I had moved out and back in with my dad twice. The first time doesn't really count as a breakaway...I lived with my grandmother for a while after my grandfather died. I'm not sure the second time exactly counts either, because it was known to be a temporary situation.

I agreed to sublet my boss's downtown studio apartment. He wanted to move to California to live with his girlfriend, but couldn't wait the three more months he had on his lease (his own breakaway). I paid half the rent for his furnished place, and then at the end of the lease I arranged for the moving of his furniture and then moved back home. I was broke a lot, and more than once had to walk almost an hour to get from work to the apartment because I lacked even the dollar for the bus. But it was a whole summer living in downtown Chicago, so who cared?

My former boss and I kept in touch, and when I expressed my desire to do something new with my life, he encouraged me to come out for a visit to stay with him and his girlfriend for a while. One conversation led to another, and I decided to make the move to California. I did some long-distance job hunting and had some good leads, but had no job lined up when I said goodbye to the life I had known, bought a one-way ticket and stepped on that plane.

My California adventure started with a lie I would soon regret.


Monday, May 26, 2008

The Kid

In the movie The Kid Bruce Willis plays Russ, a successful consultant who is about to turn 40 years old. He makes a lot of money, but is still single, has almost no friends, and doesn't want anything to do with his family, especially his father. He doesn't remember his childhood, and his left eye twitches when he is stressed.

One day Russ finds (or maybe hallucinates) a kid in his house who he soon realizes is himself from the past...about to turn 8 years old. The Kid's name is Rusty and he is chubby, has a bad haircut and talks funny. When Russ discovers that other people can actually see Rusty, he tries to figure out why The Kid is there.

At first Russ thinks it is happening so he can give Rusty advice so Rusty won't be such a "pathetic dweeb". Well, Rusty isn't so anxious to accept advice from his almost-40 self, because he sees Russ as a "dog-less, chick-less, jerk with a twitch." Each thinks the other is a loser.

In the end, they can't change the past. But they do help each other. Russ teaches Rusty to stand up for himself, and Rusty helps Russ remember and understand a horrible, life-changing event, the day when that twitch first appeared.

This story hit home for me big time. Eight was an awful age for me, with a big horrible life-changing event.

What would she say to me if my eight-year-old self saw me right now? And what would I say to her about how I got to be the me I am today? Well, it doesn't matter because the past is past. All any of us can do is move forward and make the changes we want to make in our own lives.

Although I might tell her that she won't always be a pathetic dweeb with a bad haircut, buck teeth and ugly glasses. Well, at least the hair and glasses have changed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thoughts about thoughts

Change your thoughts and you change your world.
(Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking)

Do you believe that is true? I do. But it is not easy to change one's thoughts. We get used to how we think about things and those thoughts almost become automatic. But consider what your days would be like if you adopted even one of these Peale quotes as part of your personal philosophy:

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

Do not be awe struck by other people and try to copy them. Nobody can be you as efficiently as you can.

Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture...Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.

Think enthusiastically about everything; but especially about your job. If you do, you'll put a touch of glory in your life. If you love your job with enthusiasm, you'll shake it to pieces. You'll love it into greatness.

Try it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The fabulous forties

"I'm gonna be 40, and it's freaking me out."

I overheard this a few months ago from a woman customer at the counter of a clothing store. The woman behind the counter told her customer not to worry, that the forties are the "best time of your life". Not surprisingly, the customer reacted with scepticism! I couldn't help myself...I walked up behind the woman and whispered "in your forties you finally stop caring about what other people think of you."

It was the thought that came into my head at the moment, but that's not exactly what I meant. Of course I care what people think about me! I still want people to like me. I want to make a good impression with my work, my attitudes and my looks (by making the most of what I have). I still want men to think I'm pretty. But I have reached a point in my life where I finally know that what other people think about me does not define me.

If I let what other people think about me define me, I would be prudish, closed-minded, judgmental, fat, lazy and lacking in self-control. I have been called some of those things to my face...quite recently in fact.

What I am is human, with desires that sometimes clash with my beliefs. I sometimes desire the wrong thing at the wrong time, or desire the right thing at the wrong time (there seems to be no right time to desire the wrong thing). Some of my beliefs have been seriously challenged lately, which is a good thing. If your beliefs cannot stand up to a challenge, they might not be worth believing in.

I don't believe everything I did 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even a few years ago. Sometimes I think I know what is best for me and the people I love, and then I see or experience something that challenges that belief. But I have reached an age and a state of being that lets me consider all sides of a situation without completely doubting who I am and how I live my life.

Perhaps the forties, for those of us who are fortunate to live this long, are a time for truly getting to know yourself. Heck, I'm almost 48, and I would have to live to 96 to consider this time in my life "middle-age"! But maybe there is just no way to know yourself until you've had these many years of experience. I don't know.

I just know that I love my life right now. And even though there are things I want that I know I can have but would not be good for me...I know I am loved. I am deeply and sincerely loved. By God and by the people in my life who truly matter.

It is a fabulous time indeed.

What is it like for a guy...

...when a big chick flick is about to come out?

According to John Kass of the Chicago Tribune, it is terrifying. He wishes to spare men the agony of being dragged by their girlfriends or wives to see a certain movie that opens in two weeks.

Click here for the full column and your free "Kass SATC Absolvo Carta".

Thank you for your service to mankind, Mr. Kass.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

If I believed in signs...

...this might just be one:

It's hard to see in this picture, but that's a DOUBLE rainbow. I've never seen such a thing in my entire life. And what was I doing when this possible sign occurred? I was hoping for some way to know I was doing the right thing.

You see, I am on a path that started long ago, the catalyst of which is a circumstance that I just found out no longer exists! So do I go through with it? Do I take the easy road, which in a way means staying stuck? Is the path I am on leading me toward something or away from something? Or both?

Or is this double rainbow just a spectrum of light from the setting sun on a rainy evening?

Sometimes decisions are forced on you, and sometimes you are blessed with too many options. With all the world is going through today, to whine that I don't know what to do because I can do anything I want seems the height of self-centeredness.

But then I saw this. And it made me feel like somebody was trying to tell me something. I am doing the right thing. I need to keep going on this path.

Memory lane - Part IV

Read from Part 1

Somewhere (almost 30 years) deep in a landfill is a box of letters. Well, I doubt there is much left of them after all this time. This was about a year's worth of correspondence from the boyfriend of my senior year in high school.

Those were the days before email and before unlimited long distance calling plans. He was in college over 400 miles away most of that year. When he wasn't, he was only 300 miles away at home. It was a lovely time in my life, and I loved our correspondence - long, newsy, sweet letters, about one for each week. Plus cards for special occasions.

I treasured those, so much so that I pulled them out to read daily for months after he broke up with me. Then I realized I had to let go. I knew I was in danger of never recovering from that breakup unless those letters were gone. It took a couple of attempts before I could finally let the garbage truck take them away.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, when I started packing for my move. I started in what I knew would be the the most difficult spot - a little oriental cabinet where the last of the Daniel memorabilia had resided undisturbed since my last move. It was finally time to say goodbye to most of that.

First, I read through every sympathy card. Many tears, a few laughs and a couple of who is that?s later and I was done. The only thing left from that pile is a note from my brother, a man of few words who wrote that tears "wash the soul clean and make our hearts open to life's joy". I wouldn't part with that piece of paper ever.

But then there were the letters...my letters to Daniel during our friendship and courtship, and his to me. Not a whole lot of them, as he was not much of a writer so I didn't write much either. Re-reading my letters to him was like looking at a history book of me - my feelings, my hopes, my busy days - in my own hand. The fact that he used the back of one to calculate how much outside lighting would cost to run for an hour (37 cents) doesn't make me think he didn't treasure that letter. He kept it, didn't he?

But it is time to say goodbye to those letters as well. He's been gone almost as long as we were married. And moving on is what this year seems to be all about for me.

My mother didn't have many opportunities to give me advice. One thing I clearly remember her telling me is to be very careful what I put in a letter, because you never know where it will end up. That was good advice. But I am so glad I never let her words prevent me from expressing my true feelings on the page to the people I loved. For me, writing is still sometimes easier than verbal expression.

My memories of Daniel are fading, and that is alright. We can't live in our memories, even the good ones. We have to live in the present. And when we do, today becomes a memory for tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Memory lane - Part III

Read from Part I

I have been promising my hair stylist that I would create a "Gallery of Hair" for her, and I want to do it before I move out of state. So here it is:

Ladies, if you're thinking that once you grow up you will finally stop stressing about your hair, forget about it. Even now, at the ripe old age of 47, I'm thinking of growing it long again. Or getting a natural salt-n-peppa buzz cut (my friend Lisa and my other friend Lisa would kill me).

Depends on how I'm feeling tomorrow.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Memory lane - Part II

Read Part I

I have only been hospitalized twice in my life. First was being born, then when I had my tonsils removed at age six. A lot has changed since then.

Prices, for one thing. My mother's hospital stay for my birth cost $26 per day. The total for four days including the operating room, anesthesia and drugs - $151.92.

For my tonsils surgery six years later, the doctor charged $150 and the hospital (with lab, x-rays, drugs and the room) charged $134. Oh, plus $35 for anethesia.

And keeping patient records was a little different than today. My first few months of doctor visits were recorded on one index card by hand. The receipts were hand-written also, but the doctor bills were typed. And that four-day hospital stay when I was born...that is unheard of today as insurance companies want you out as quickly as possible.

It is an interesting experience to hold these things in my hands.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Memory lane - Part I

I used to have this recurring dream, that I'm back in high school (at my present age) because I never really graduated. Well, I have in my hands (not really in my hands because I wouldn't be able to type) my high school diploma. Now they can't make me go back!

As I keep going through my things to get rid of stuff that I refuse to move even one more time, I'm scanning pictures and papers that I want to keep and tossing the originals. Lots of dust, lots of laughs, lots of tears, lots of closure coming my way. And a lot of trivial crap that nobody cares about.

Like this - according to my grade school report cards...

- I was unable to tie my shoes by the end of kindergarten, but I could recognize what color they were.
- I had no special abilities noted from 1966 to 1968 (bummer).
- I was a "back captain" (what??), a "paper" monitor (news, construction, toilet? not sure), and in charge of the Halloween Talent Show in 1970.
- I was an "office girl" in 1974. Wow...I found my career at age 14.
- And last, but not least, my very favorite encouraging comment from a teacher on a report card...

Seems my fate was sealed decades ago. Who knew?

Tune in tomorrow...that's when I go through my medical records!


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photo shoppe

After taking a two-hour nap this afternoon, I woke up with a start and realized I had a really cool project I could work on. I am moving in a couple of months (don't know where...and that's a story for another post), and I am still decades behind in my scrapbooking. I'll never catch up, and I don't want to move this huge box of photos AGAIN.

So I spent the evening organizing, scanning, and tossing. I've backed them up. Now I can share a couple of the gems:

As a bridesmaid in 1980. My favorite hairstyle, but not my favorite dress.

My favorite Halloween costume. I actually travelled on a Chicago city bus wearing this!

My favorite cats-eye glasses. And my least favorite haircut ever.

Only a few thousand more pictures to go.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Is a mistake still a mistake...

...when you take away the consequences?

At a recent public appearance, one of our presidential candidates was in a "town hall" setting when he was asked about abortion after speaking about sex education in schools:

“Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old,” he said. “I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.”

The firestorm this caused was because of the "punished with a baby" part of the quote. But to me, the key phrase is "...if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished..."

He seems to be saying that he wants all negative consequences of his children's possible future actions removed. But perhaps we have more unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases today than ever before because we keep trying to remove those consequences. My point is not about sex, it is about personal responsibility.

Let me illustrate by using that part of his quote in a different situation:

I will teach my kids that cheating is wrong, but if they make a mistake and cheat on a test I don't want them punished...

Or how about this:

I will teach my kids that stealing is wrong, but if they make a mistake and rob a bank I don't want them punished...

Or maybe:

I will tell my kids not to drive drunk, but if they make a mistake and kill someone, I don't want them punished...

How do you teach your children that something is wrong if their mistake has no negative consequences? If there are no consequences, why is it a mistake?

Think about how many of the problems in our society would be solved within a single generation if, starting today, we each took full responsibility for our own actions and taught our children to do the same.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Risky business - Part 4

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

There are risks that you can do something to avoid, and there are some that you just can't foresee no matter how wild your imagination.

Just ask the man who was enjoying the day on his boat one minute, and the next minute lost his wife to a leaping stingray. Or the two women in the back seat of a car who lost their daughters when a maintenance scaffold fell 43 floors onto them in the front seat of the car. They were just going about their lives, and people they loved were gone in an instant because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It wouldn't be smart to ignore obvious risks, nor would life be much fun if we were always scared of what we can't see around the corner (or in the sky). If the risks of life were all you thought about you would never actually do anything.

As you might have guessed, I'm writing about this because I am trying to convince myself. Even at my age, I still tend to let fear prevent me from doing things I want to or even feel called to do. I have dreams that remain secret for fear of ridicule, relationships that remain unexplored for fear of being hurt, and words that remain unspoken for fear of conflict.

We'll all die someday, somewhere, from something. And in that regard I have three wishes. One, that I don't die doing something really stupid and end up (in)famous for it. Two, that I have made an impact on the world around me that is much more positive than negative. And three, that I have, more often than not, overcome my fear and lived my days to the fullest.

Every day, I need to remind myself that God will work all things out for good, because that is what He has promised. And that is the ultimate risk strategy for this life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Risky business - Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2

When analyzing project risks, we identify the worst thing that could happen, then the second worst thing, then a few more. We give each risk a number to indicate it's severity, then we multiply it by the probability to come up with a rating. And that rating determines how much effort we put into either avoiding the risk, taking steps to minimize the impact or coming up with an alternative plan.

When the probability and severity are both low, we usually just accept the risk because even if it happens, it won't be too bad. When the probability is low, but the severity is high, we give that more thought and planning. And you can bet that if the probability and severity are both high we are really going to have a good backup plan.

That's all the project team can really do, and it works fine most of the time. But then there are those times that something happens that nobody could have possibly foreseen. And all you can do at that point is deal with it.

And that's what we have to do in real life, too.

We make our plans and manage the risks and live our lives. Every day we make choices, thinking we know where those choices will take us. But if we are wise, we also know that anything can happen, even the very worst thing.

And it can happen in a moment.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Risky business - Part 2

Read Part 1

As a project manager, part of my job is to manage risks. A risk is something that could happen. Well, anything could happen, right? What the project team does is identify the things that could go wrong, estimate out how likely they are and what the impact would be they did happen. Then we make an alternative plan to have in place if a risk does happen.

Let's say the project is to move a business from one location to another. Your current lease expires on a set date and you must vacate the property by that date. Your new location is being constructed, and the builder says it will be done on time. But what if it isn't? What's Plan B...Plan C...Plan D? That's risk management.

People like "Adventurer" Steve Fossett did a lot of risk management. When preparing for a round-the-world solo balloon flight, you sure better know where you can land if you have technical trouble or suddenly get sick! And yet it is possible that Fossett died because what he was doing that day was not as risky as his other adventures, so he may not have thoroughly planned for the potential risks.

Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Sure you get up in the morning and face the dangers of cars and icy roads and sidewalks, probably without even thinking about it much...buckle your seatbelt, drive more slowly than normal, wear the right kind of shoes. But beyond that...are there things you need to do or want to do, but you don't do them because of what could go wrong? Are there things in your past that you didn't do because of potential dangers that never came to pass? Are you letting fear of the risks of life keep you from really living life?

The first step to getting over that fear is to ask yourself one question - what is the worst thing that could happen?


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Risky business

"Adventurer" Steve Fossett has been declared dead five months after he disappeared. Read all about him here.

This was man who risked life and limb in a variety of ways his entire life. Yet he died not on one of his adventures, but on a pleasure flight. Reminds me of General George S. Patton, who served in both World Wars but died as the result of a car accident while on a hunting trip.

Living is a risky business. It's nine o'clock in the morning, and already I have risked my life in several ways. I took a shower - and could have slipped and cracked my head open! I took the elevator downstairs, drove to get breakfast, drove back home and took the elevator up again - an adventure fraught with danger from malfunctioning equipment and bad drivers! Even my breakfast was risky - I could have choked to death on my bagel!

Sounds sort of silly, doesn't it? The likelihood that the elevator cable would break and fall 11 stories at the exact time that I was on it was extremely low, but it could have happened.

So how does a person get out of bed and face the day when there is so much to fear out there? By identifying risks, taking steps avoid them, and knowing how to lessen their impact if they do happen.

It's simple, and you do it every day without even realizing it.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Golden versus tarnished

I don't watch much TV these days. I do catch a few shows on internet replay, and I can't avoid some "previews" on the advertising panels of some of my favorite web sites. And I tend to watch TV when I travel for business, like I am right now.

Overall, I just can't help but think that the best days of television programming is behind us.

So much of what is on TV these days shows bad behavior in a supposedly good light. One of the previews I mentioned is a woman getting her pantyhose ripped off while she leans back on her executive desk. It looks like this is something she wants, but the imagery purposely hints at rape. Is that really supposed to be sexy?

Among my Christmas gifts was the first season of Golden Girls on DVD, which I finished this past weekend. Sure, there is some sexual innuendo, but the show is primarily about friendship. And women depending on each other.

Maybe that's what that other show is about too. I don't know. Just seems like Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia had a lot more respect for themselves.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


We're a week into the New Year, which means if you made one or more resolutions, chances are you have already given up. Don't worry, that's pretty typical. It doesn't mean you are weak, it means you are human.

Most of us feel, at least at one time or another, that there is something about ourselves we want to make better. We resolve to lose weight, quit smoking, go back to school - all worthwhile objectives. But even if you have already given up, remember that you don't have to wait until next January 1st, or even next Monday, to try again. Any day - really any moment - you can decide to make a change.

But here's the thing - there are two resolutions that rise above all others. I have come to believe that without these two things any other goals, objectives or resolutions are almost meaningless.

If 2008 ends up being the year I finally achieve lasting weight loss, what will it matter if I don't also discover God's purpose for my life and fulfill that purpose?

It is possible that my lack of success in losing weight is directly related to the fact that I am not living the life God wants me to live. I don't mean morally, I mean that God put me here for a purpose. If I am ignoring my calling, what does it really matter what size pants I wear?

Resolve today to find out what God made you for.