Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 19 (16): Something that shook my belief system to its core (a big disappointment in my life).

Well, I am doing this one out of order because the particular thing that fits this topic is still a very very sore spot for me. I don't like dwelling on it at all and would rather not post anything at all. Except that I promised myself that I would follow through on this challenge, even if no one else did.

My big disappointment, the very thing that shook me to the core, was learning that my mother changed her will five months after my father died, took my kids out, removed me as executor, made my cousin executor and then gave him my kids' promised share of the estate. And, the fact that he actually accepted it as being deserved by him in addition to the 10% he got as executor fills me with such rage and hurt that I can't even adequately express my feelings. He has never given me an accounting of the estate as required by law. He never told me how much my residual share was until it was going to run out (four years later). He even had the nerve to ask me for the antique furniture that WAS left to me even though Mom gave him 35% of the estate's proceeds. Not only that, but he changed her life insurance as well so he got 35% of that, too. He told her neighbor that he didn't really care about her and just wanted to get out from under the responsibility as quickly as possible, so he undersold the house by nearly $35,000 to a friend he'd promised to sell it to years before Mom died. It has made me wonder what she saw in him, why her ONLY CHILD wasn't worthy of more consideration, why her grandchildren were denied what they'd been promised and whether he only did it for the money (my gut says yes, but I just don't know).

Anyway, that's the thing that I have been living with for the past four years and the wound is just as raw now as it was then. I don't think I'll ever get over it. And, I'm not going to continue talking about it because my stomach is already in knots and my blood pressure is rising. I don't want to go to bed feeling like this, so I need to calm down. And, that is all for this particular post.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 20 (17): My favorite movie and why it's so special to me.

I don't really have a favorite movie in the sense that I want to watch it over and over again. I've long been a fan of 40s musicals and two of my favorites from that time are Yankee Doodle Dandy and White Christmas. There are some more recent movies I like a lot as well. They are In Her Shoes, Legally Blonde and The Mask.

I like Yankee Doodle Dandy because it shows James Cagney at his finest. He considered himself a dancer above all else, although his acting skills made his bad guys so realistic. 

I like White Christmas because of the songs, the romance and because I had a crush on Danny Kaye. Actually, I think I liked almost all red-haired actors when I was young: Cagney, Kaye, Ron Howard, etc. But, I loved the set and the final scene of snow and one-horse open sleigh. 

The three newer movies I liked because they showed people others around them couldn't see - in other words, there was someone within each of the protagonists that even they didn't see in themselves. They were all underestimated by their peers and often overlooked. 

In Her Shoes showed a girl who really didn't like any job she had. She wanted life to be easy and fun without any large effort on her part. Her sister was her guardian and kept having to pick up after whatever mess she'd get herself into. When she discovered letters from a grandmother she didn't know was alive, she decided to show up on her grandmother's doorstep. Grandmother, who hadn't seen her since she was an infant, could see promise in her that no one else could. It turned out she had excellent taste in shopping and matching clothing styles to personality. Because of her grandmother, she found a business niche  that only she could fill. She was able to use her love of shopping and fashion to become a personal shopper for others living in her grandmother's retirement village. Hidden talent brought to light.

Legally Blonde approached a similar topic in a different manner. Elle had been raised that beauty was what got you things in life, but when her boyfriend broke up with her to go to law school, she decided she'd go, too. To everyone's amazement, she was accepted in Harvard. When she realized that the ex-boyfriend simply didn't think she was intelligent enough to be of value to him in life, she determined to prove that she could do anything she put her mind to. And, she did it in spades. Never underestimate anyone using preconceived notions.

The Mask with Jim Carrey was great! Meek and mild bank clerk who is overlooked by everyone, especially women, finds a mysterious mask that transforms him into the person he can only imagine himself being. That person is within him, but is buried so deeply that even he doesn't recognize him. The movie is reminiscent of Walter Mitty with supernatural fantasy added. In the end, Carrey's character has saved the day and shown himself to be far more than anyone had ever considered.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day 18 (15): Someone you met randomly who's made an impact on your life.

There are a couple of people I met randomly who made a huge impact on my life. The first would have to be my now ex-husband. There is nothing more random than meeting someone at the Utah State Prison when you're doing a friend a favor and going there with her square dance group for special socialization dances being provided a certain group of inmates. I mean, seriously random. She had asked me to go with several times and I kept saying no. I had no interest in going to the prison for any reason. She then uttered the fate-filled words I've never forgotten: "Look at it this way, Wendy. At least they can't ask for a date." I met him that night.

Never expecting to have a good time, I went along with her plan and found myself actually enjoying myself. I didn't dance, but ended up playing pool with a couple of guys who felt sorry for my friend and me sitting idly by doing nothing. I discovered that these guys weren't really any different than guys on the outside, despite whatever their reasons for being there might be. Although I have that proverbial hindsight we've all heard about, going through the entire experience, good and bad, helped make me who I am today.

The second person who had a huge impact on my life would be my friend Tom. I've mentioned him before. I had worked for about a year when he was hired. He was quiet and shy and all the women were talking about fixing their daughters up with this recent graduate of Villanova. I didn't think one way or another about it other than several of us doubted he or the other guy would stay in our little office since they both had just earned Masters Degrees. Well, we were right about the one guy - he left after a week when another job he'd hoped for came through. But, Tom stayed. In fact, Tom outlasted me, staying with the company 12 years before being laid off after most jobs were sent overseas. 

At any rate, the randomness factor was that he was just so much younger than me that I never ever considered being friends with him. But, one day shortly after he started, I was running up to the break room and saw him standing all alone at the bottom of the stairs looking lost. Well, I've been lost before. I've been odd-man-out before. I introduced myself and welcomed him to the company, never thinking anything other than I didn't want him to feel locked out of things. Over time, he began sending me playful emails or popping up suddenly on the other side of my cubicle wall to tease me about one thing or another. He began asking for rides to company functions and eventually began calling me at home. Not being used to that kind of thing, I was freaking out. I didn't know how to handle it. But, the boy grew on me and we became hard and fast friends. When I left the company, we began to travel together. It is because of Tom that I went to Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Salzberg, Dublin Republic of Ireland, San Francisco, Savannah, Oklahoma City, Cape Cod, Montreal, Quebec City, St. John New Brusnwick Canada, Belfast Northern Ireland, Ayr Scotland, Chester England and Conwy Wales. We haven't done much traveling since he was laid off, but I have such good memories of where we've been that I can't complain.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Someone with whom you shared a friendship that simply drifted out of your life.

When I first moved to Utah, I only knew one person in Salt Lake City. Since she was married and had just had her first child, I couldn't stay with them indefinitely, so I had to find an apartment for myself. I ended up sharing an apartment with three others who were looking for fourth to split the rent. I immediately hit it off with Amy. 

We had a blast together. We were both from "back east" - she from Ohio and me from New Jersey. When her mother would come to visit, we'd all go together to see the sights. Her mother wanted so bad to see the Osmonds, so we drove to Orem and we joined them in their services. Her mother was just thrilled.

Cascade Springs in Autumn (
We'd take rides into the canyons to see things we'd heard about but hadn't seen while singing Rocky Mountain High at the top of our lungs. We saw Robert Redford's Sundance ranch and an absolutely beautiful natural spring called Cascade Springs where the water bubbles to the surface and naturally cascades down the terraced rocks to form a stream farther down the mountain. You can't imagine how it looks in Spring.

We eventually moved out of the one apartment into one we shared together because of some differences of opinion between her and the other two girls. We totally enjoyed being roommates and had many mutual interests. 

Amy began dating a young man steadily and I was dating his brother. Within a few months, she was engaged and ready to move out into an apartment of her own. I panicked because I couldn't afford to pay the rent on my own and was a little surprised that she would just
Our apartment directly above pool, right bldg.
leave me with the lease like that. She did eventually find a basement apartment in a converted house that happened to have a vacancy on the first floor. I also moved. But, things weren't the same. In less 

than a year after meeting David, Amy was engaged, married and pregnant. I have to admit to feeling betrayed at the time because I sure wasn't ready to lose a friend to married life. Little by little, the split between us became wider until she and David moved out and I never learned where. 

I recently reconnected with her via Facebook. I was able to located one of her children who put me in contact with Amy. She divorced David and is remarried. She has good
The House into which we moved
memories of our being roommates as do I, but that "connection" we once had just isn't there. I know we all grow up, but we had a kind of friendship I'd never had before or since. We were more like family than friends. I will always have good memories of those years.

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Day 16 (13): A book you've read that changed your views on something.

I grew up during the Civil Rights Era and remember seeing some of the atrocities on the news of the March on Montgomery and the swearing in of LBJ after the assassination of JFK. I was just a child, but my parents didn't shield me from such news. 

When my high school offered an Ethnic Studies course in lieu of US History II, I jumped at it. I read several books during this time whose stories I have never forgotten. Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Black Like Me and a young adult fiction novel entitled The Barred Door all played pivotal roles in developing my sense of justice and fairness. The latter was about a young girl whose grade point average made her eligible for a scholarship (or valedictorian - it's been long enough, I'm not sure which), but because she was a minority, justifications were made by those in charge to give it to the favored white student whose grades were also good, but who was just below the protagonist by fractional points. It was age appropriate at the time and I felt a sense of rage at the unfairness of such attitudes that remains with me today. It's even more profound when you realize that the same scenario is still being played out at select high schools across this country even now. 

I've long believed, even before I could put it into words, that no one is better than anyone else just because of how they look or where they live or how much money they have. Through my parents' actions, I learned that all are equal. Although it was a lesson I might not have recognized at the time, it is one that I will forever be glad to have had.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Day 15 (12): A band/musical artist whose music impacted your life.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I would have to say that for me, this musical artist/band would be The Monkees. They were the first group I ever paid attention to, the first group I could say I was a fan of. I had their photos plastered all over my room (courtesy of Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine). I watched their show every Monday night and tried to run a petition drive to keep Davy Jones from being drafted (not then knowing that, as a British citizen, he couldn't be drafted). They were the only group for whom I had ever album.

The recent death of Davy brought everything back. He and Mike shared a birthday, but Davy was younger. That's why it was such a shock to learn of his death. Davy was originally a jockey, which wasn't a surprise given his slight stature. It also makes his death while visiting his horses the completion of a circle.

Peter was the only east coaster of the group with him being born in Washington, DC, and growing up in Connecticut. He began his musical talents at age nine with the piano, but continued to learn other instruments as he got older. He eventually joined the Bohemian lifestyles of Greenwich Village in the early 60s where he met other musicians, particularly Stephen Stills, who recommended him as a cast member for The Monkees television show.

Micky was born into an actor's family being the son of George Dolenz and Janelle Johnson. My being a cat lover, I loved that Mickey was from Los Gatos (The Cats), California. In the 50s, Micky played the role of Corky in a childrens show named Circus Boy. Micky also likes to paint and has professionally displayed his art in various galleries around the country. A friend of mine owns an original and has it hanging in her living room. She has met Micky and is also friends with his daughter, Ami.

Michael Nesmith, a songwriter in his own right (Different Drum sung by Linda Ronstadt), can often be perceived as being the most aloof of the group. I'd say it's not so much being aloof as not being as carefree as the others were and are. Part of the reason for the group not having the longevity of other groups is the degree of difference between all of their personalities. They were (and are) all friends, but often had differences of opinion with the pre-fab image of their group. Mike played a large role in the creation of the country rock genre as well as the beginning of the music video era. In fact, most of The Monkees shows contained prototypes of today's music videos.

There is so much more about them that people don't realize, but it's all easily located online for those interested in finding it. But, yes, it was The Monkees that brought me into the modern rock era, even if that rock was covered in bubblegum.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 14 (11): Someone who has made your life worth living.

I've never been a mush and gush kinda girl except for how I feel about cats, so it's hard for me to really identify anyone in my life that I can say "makes life worth living". Even during the worst of times, when I felt completely alone and friendless, I knew that life was worth hanging around for. However, there are a couple of people who have made a world of difference in my life. 

The first one would be my daughter, Debra. I can't explain it and there's no real reason for it, but the day she was born, I fell in love with her instantly. I bonded with her in a way that I hadn't been able to with my son. (That in no way means I love my son any less - it's just that the connection is different.) They laid her on me and I spoke to her. As soon as I did, she lifted her head up and looked me straight in the eyes. And, I cried. Nothing in the world like it.

The second one would be my friend, Tom. He wasn't a friend I would have normally pursued. He was a recent graduate of Villanova when I met him, younger than me by almost two decades. But, he looked so alone and out of his element when he first began working where I worked that I introduced myself to him and welcomed him to the office. Beginning that day, our friendship grew, somewhat comically at first, but to a level of trust and acceptance I've never had with any other friend. It is because of Tom that I got to see Paris. It is because of Tom that I was able to go to where my Irish immigrant family lived and married in County Derry. I got to see San Francisco, Quebec, Montreal, Cape Cod, Frankfurt & Munich, Germany, a castle in Heidleberg, the cloisters featured in the Sound of Music in Salzburg, Austria. I am still amazed by all of it.

So, I guess you could say that these two have made my life worth living, although I somehow knew early on that it would all be worth it. Obviously, it was!

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Day 13 (10): Discuss some of the things on your bucket list.

I don't have a bucket list. To have a bucket list is to think about the day I'll die. I try not to do that. I may know it will happen, but I'd really rather not think about it, so I live each day as though I have all the time in the world.

However, I have already been able to do some things that others might consider bucket list items. Like getting to see Paris. In Springtime, at that! My very first trip to Europe was over Memorial Day weekend in 2001. It wasn't a long trip, but it sure was a great trip! I want to go back, but things have taken place in the meantime that make that more difficult, the least of which is that neither he nor I are working at the moment. 

I also got to go to Northern Ireland and saw the church where my mother's great-grandparents were married. She had always wanted to go to Ireland. It was her dream, but it didn't come to fruition. My aunt and her husband got to go, but they didn't know what part of Ireland the family was from. Still, Mom's sister got there and she didn't. However, by the time I got to go, I had discovered where Robert and Catherine were married and where their three Irish-born children were baptized, so I was able to actually go to the locations and when I came back, could tell my mother what I saw. By the time I went, she had lost her eyesight, so I became her eyes. She wanted to know if it looked like she saw on television (she had limited peripheral vision, so she could see large images) and, thankfully, I was able to tell her that, yes, the area where her family lived did look like the images she'd seen on television.

So, I guess if I were to have a bucket list, I've already crossed several items off. I'm happy I was able to go and would like to go again (I have some of Mom's ashes I want to place in the graveyard of the church over there), but I'm not trying to cram every single thing that would be nice to do into a short period of time.

Neither do I have any remote desire to skydive, mountain climb, scuba dive or any other potentially dangerous thing. Accelerating the process just isn't on my itinerary.

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Day 12 (09): Something you hope to change about yourself and why.

There are so many things about me that could change for the better, it's hard to know where to begin.

First of all, I am obese. I'm not proud of it, but I have learned that I have value with or without the weight. I joke about it once in a while rather than throwing pity parties and boo-hooing, but I would be much healthier if I had not gained all this weight. I'm not too good at self-control, although I have managed to control my intake of carbs to where my blood tests were in the normal range the last time, even though I haven't lost any weight. I'm happy I've been able to do that, but I really should do more.

The other thing I would like to have change about myself is my unwillingness to exercise. Doing something, anything, physical is better than being the couch potato I've turned into. I just wish I had more willpower and a whole lot more energy. 

So many failings, so little time. 

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Day 11 (aka Day 08): Something about which people seem to compliment you.

There used to be a time when people commented on my hair color. Of course, it was mostly during the years when I hated being a redhead. I never liked getting a lot of attention and my bright red hair was an attention-getter for sure. I got called "Red" and "Carrot Top" more times than I could count. I was always asked where I got my red hair from since my dad was blond and Mom had really dark hair. 

Since there were so many redheads in our small town, I would sometimes joke that we all had the same milkman (which we did at one point), but in actuality, I got my red hair from my mother. She was born a redhead, but it went dark before she started school. As I got older, though, when I decided that being a redhead was an OK thing to be, I often had people compliment me on the color, asking if it was natural (it was). And, I was still asked from whom I got my red hair. Few believed that Mom had ever been a redhead.

I still occasionally have people tell me they like the color of my hair, although it is no longer natural.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 07: Something at which you've been a champion or the best.

This one is not the easiest one to answer. I've never felt that I was the best at anything, but really, there have been some times that might count. I just never viewed them as such.

I've been able to read since I was at least four years old. Because of that, I have been a decent speller for almost as long. When I was in second grade, our teacher picked up on the fact that I could spell better than all the kids in my class, so she challenged the fifth grade class to a spelling bee. We only had four classrooms in our school and each one was a different grade. The fifth grade teacher was also the principal and he readily agreed to the challenge. 

When the day came for the spelling bee, my class lined up against one wall and the fifth grade along another. One by one people dropped out as they spelled words wrong until it was just me and one fifth grader. He and I went back and forth as words were given to us. Eventually, he spelled a word (that escapes my memory) wrong. It happened that I knew how to spell it, so when they gave me the same word, I spelled it correctly. I had won the challenge against the fifth graders. I felt pretty darned good.

Then while attending college in Utah, I took a Creative Writing class and we were assigned to write two poems. One was supposed to rhyme and the other was free-style. I got As on both, but the professor suggested that I enter the one in the University's college writing contest. I felt pretty good about it, but didn't think it was something that that others would understand. It was on the dark side and spoke of the psychological oppression I had dealt with while married. But, I did submit it and was completely surprised when months later, I got a letter in the mail telling me I had won in the poetry division. What a shock! It was a wonderful surprise and one of which I am still proud.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 06: Something that excites me and fills me with joy.

Although I am a happier and more content person these days than I ever was previously, I'm not sure if there is anything that truly excites me beyond brief bursts of excitement here and there.

However, there is one thing with which I consistently find joy and that is cats. No, I'm not quite a "crazy cat lady", but I have loved cats my entire life. There is just something about them that fills me with contentment and calms me in a way nothing else can. 

We have three, my daughter and I. There have been few years when I didn't have a cat. For me, there is nothing that compares to having a cat love you and demonstrate that love to you. Unlike dogs, cats don't feel the need to always have your attention. They are very independent and often considered to be aloof. I've only had a couple who I considered to be aloof. The others have been very demonstrative in their affection. When a cat loves you, it is their choice and, usually, it develops over time. They'll even talk with you when they're happy to see you.

I've known for years what doctors have only recently proven - that petting a cat is soothing and can lower blood pressure. Even now, as I write, I have a cat in my arms between me and the computer, lying curled up with her head on my right arm and her back against my chest purring loudly. The movement of my arm as I key these words bobs her head up and down, but she doesn't seem to mind. She continues purring and is content to stay curled up here. What's interesting is that she is one of the few cats I've had that I consider aloof. She won't allow anyone to hold her, including me. If I were to pick her up from where she is now, she would begin to growl at me to be put down. Yet, minutes later, she'd jump back up and lie down in my arms, again purring. For her, it is entirely on her terms or not at all - which is why her wanting to snuggle is so much more meaningful. She has made the choice herself - she hasn't had the decision made for her.

All I can say is that there is just something about a cat that I'd rather not live without, that always brings a smile to my face and pleasure to my heart.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 05: Something in life that gives me balance

Gee, this isn't an easy topic. I'm not sure I know what is meant by "balance", unless it is "that which keeps you from losing your mind".

My life has always been a bit topsy-turvy with a splash of turmoil thrown in for good measure. There were years when "losing my mind" was pretty damned close to reality. I had problems. Ones that I recognized and others that I didn't. I was my own worst enemy. I ruined friendships, relationships and jobs.

It wasn't until I married, had kids and divorced that I finally got the help I needed. Through counseling and medication, I became someone that I finally liked. Through counseling, I learned the origins of my problems and that I was taking it all out on myself by maintaining anger and by reliving the past. I was giving those who hurt me early in life permission to continue hurting me long afterwards. 

It wasn't a quick fix, by any means. It took years and years to overcome. Writing became one of my best ways of coping, of talking myself through things without internalizing them. Over time, I have become a different person than I used to be. Far from perfect, but also far from that fractured shell I used to be. 

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Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 04: Something that is part of my routine that I enjoy.

I'm not much of a scheduler. I don't do breakfast at 6, lunch at 12, dinner at 5 like my mother used to. I don't have set days of the week to do laundry or dishes or vacuuming like others I know. I'm more a "do it when I do it" kind of person (probably related to my deep set habit of procrastinating). But, there are things I do pretty much every day (when I remember them) that I enjoy.

Because I'm not a regular television watcher, I never remember what days of the week the shows I like are on, not even the ones that run Monday through Friday. But, every day at 1PM, The Chew comes on and I do like watching it when I remember to. Since I'm a foodie and there are two Iron Chefs on board who are not following a scripted show, I enjoy it because you get to see a bit more of their personalities outside their usual confines.

I also go online every day. I used to be on all the time, rarely closing my computer to take a breather, but there are days now that I don't even remember to check my email until the afternoon. I play games on Facebook every day (Lexulous and Words with Friends), check for blog comments, check for spam, check IN spam (for good emails), post commentary on SideTick and answer personal email.

Finally, because we have three cats, I feed them, love them, get followed by them wherever I go in the house, and talk to them. I love our furry ladies!

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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 03: Something with which I struggle.

Like so many of us, I have struggles with my weight, with finances, with lifelong depression, etc. Any number of us could write many times over about those issues. But, I want to focus on another one that is at hand for me....procrastination.

I have been a procrastinator all my life. Ever since my early school years until now, I have had a hard time NOT putting off anything today that can be done tomorrow. "Oh, I can do that later" is the thought that is most prominent in my head. And, I'm usually the most motivated and energized if I'm meeting a deadline. I can hustle like nobody's business - yet, that hustle is nowhere to be found prior to the final countdown.

Yep - in a bag like this!
Right now, most of my clothes are in the basement waiting to be washed. I'm wearing my last pair of clean pants because I just haven't gotten myself downstairs to put the clothes in the washer. Even though I HAVE to have clean clothes by tomorrow, they've been sitting down there all week waiting and waiting. My previously mentioned thought drowns out all other voices of reason trying to get a word in.

The dishes are still waiting - in the dishwasher!! I need to put them away, but "it can be done later" hangs a neon sign in front of everything and, again, I find other things that are more "fun" to do.

Somehow, I doubt this dog will learn any new tricks with regard to procrastination, other than doing things like these blog challenges wherein I have made an agreement with others to accomplish a set project at a set time. And, that may very well be why I like them.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Day 02 - Something I Regret Not Doing Last Year

My Mother in 1948
I did not go to visit my parents' graves at all last year. I meant to. I should have. But, to get there, I have to return to my old hometown. There is nothing there for me anymore. I haven't driven down Main Street in four years. 

Five months after my father's death, my mother changed her will putting my cousin in as executor (it had been me) and giving him what I had been told would be my children's share of the estate. My kids were no longer included. But, I didn't know that until she died. That's when I learned that my kids had been removed as heirs and that I had been removed as executor. 

There isn't any way I can explain the degree of anger I had at learning that. Losing my mother for whom I was caregiver during her last year only to learn that my kids and I had been cut out of everything else. I just have no desire at all to ever drive past the house where I grew up. I went to her grave on Easter of the year following her passing and I went another time to place personal markers since they had not budgeted for headstones. That was 2008. I haven't been since.

Mt. Zion Methodist. Mom and Dad are buried here.
Despite the reasons behind my not wanting to go to my hometown, I do regret not "visiting" her. Even though I think undue influence was used to get her to change the will, she was an otherwise amazing woman. When we had the memorial service during her funeral, there wasn't one empty seat in the small church she attended. Yet, on any given Sunday, there were often only 12-14 people in attendance. To have a packed house in that little country church is a testament to who she was and how well-loved she was.

Therefore, I do regret not having gone to visit hers and Dad's graves at all last year. I had even bought a miniature rosebush to plant over her (she loved flowers), but I just couldn't make myself go. I don't want to regret the same thing next year.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Day 01 - Something I'm Looking Forward to this Year.

Well, we're on month five of the year 2012, and I've already had a job (first in four years) that lasted from January through April. I was a tax preparer for the first time ever and I did enjoy it. I'll admit I was scared to death I'd get a super complicated business return because I really hadn't yet learned how to do those. Our company party is on the 12th and that's when we will all receive our bonus checks (the commission rate we get on the fees paid on the returns we prepared).

So, what am I looking forward to this year? It would have to be more than one thing. I'm definitely looking forward to that bonus check. I'm also looking forward to tax school this Fall so I can get more detailed training on how to do the more complicated returns, because I did enjoy doing that job. 

Then I'm looking forward to my daughter getting a new car. The engine in the car she bought last year, blew a rod. I was able to give her $1200, but the cost to replace the engine would be $2500, which we just couldn't do. As of right now, someone is buying her old car for $500, which she'll add to the $1200, and her brother has promised to send $300, so we're hoping that she'll be able to find a halfway decent used car in order to begin an intensive job search after having lost her job in January. 

Finally, although I don't yet have one, I'm looking forward to getting a job before the year is over. The money I've been living on from my mother's estate trust will be depleted before the year is over and I need to have replacement income in place by then. I don't know what it will be or when it will happen, but I'm feeling pretty good about finding something somewhere.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thirty (30) Days of Truth Blog Challenge

After finishing with the April 2012 A to Z Challenge, I wanted continued incentive to keep blogging. I have two blogs, one a foodie blog and the other a writing blog, and I'm not as regular in either one as I should be.

The A to Z Challenge got me back into my foodie blog, but my writing blog has sat so lonely and unattended, I decided that this challenge would be perfect to bring that one back to life.

Several people in the GBE2 Group on Facebook are joining me, but anyone who wants to do this for themselves, please feel free. I'm Linky illiterate, so I can't post a blog hop, but if someone knows how and wants to do that, I will happily let you!

All you have to do is follow the list of topics below that I borrowed from Gil Gonzalez (thank you, Gil. You don't know me, but I loved the concept you worked with last January.) As you can see, he took three vacation days within, so even though it's May 3 now, we have plenty of time to write on each of the topics listed here.

I think we will find an amazing array of stories from everyone who participates, from thought provoking to heart warming to bittersweet. Most important, just have fun with this! (Twitter hashtag #30daysoftruth.)

Day 01: Something you're looking forward to this year.
Day 02: Something you regret not having done last year.
Day 03: Something with which you struggle.
Day 04: Something that is part of your routine that you enjoy.
Day 05: Something in life that gives you balance.
Day 06: Something that excites you and fills you with joy.
Day 07: Vacation Hiatus
Day 08: Vacation Hiatus
Day 09: Vacation Hiatus
Day 10: Something at which you've been a champion or the best.
Day 11: Something about which people seem to compliment you.
Day 12: Something you hope to change about yourself and why.
Day 13: Discuss some of the things on your bucket list.
Day 14: Someone who has made your life worth living.
Day 15: A band/musical artist whose music impacted your life.
Day 16: A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 17: Someone with whom you shared a friendship/relationship that simply drifted out of your life.
Day 18: Someone you met randomly that's made an impact on your life.
Day 19: Something that shook your belief system to its core (a big disappointment in your life).
Day 20: Discuss your favorite movie and why it's so special to you.
Day 21: Write about your best friend (not significant other) and what makes them special.
Day 22: Describe a dark/turbulent moment in your life.
Day 23: Describe a truly spiritual moment in your life.
Day 24: Discuss a spontaneous moment in your life that that turned out to be fantastic.
Day 25: Discuss something you planned that ended up not being what you expected.
Day 26: How do you handle/deal with both success and failure?
Day 27: What is your vocation (why are you here on earth)?
Day 28: What is your biggest dream in life (what one great thing do you want to accomplish)?
Day 29: What WAS your biggest dream in life (you wanted to do as a kid but no longer can)?
Day 30: Someone in your family that means so much to you.
Day 31: Epilogue: Write a letter to yourself.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

GBE #50 - The Stranger

Stranger Danger!!!! Never talk to strangers! All too often we turn strangers into something scary like the boogeyman or whatever scary thing is passed down through the generations to kids. Unfortunately, I think we often lose sight of the fact that most of our friends were once strangers who would have never have become friends if we'd held on to those early life teachings. That said, I want to tell you about a stranger who entered my and my son's lives just long enough to leave a lasting, life-long impact.

I had planned a birthday party for my son's 7th birthday. My daughter was then two and my stepdaughter's daughter was a year old and we were all living together when I made these plans. I invited Paul's cousins and a couple of his friends who lived across the street and planned on there being ten kids total at Peter Piper Pizza (a family-friendly pizzeria that offered tokens to kids and adults to play pinball and other assorted games, including the ever popular ball-pit.) If you held a party there, they'd provide all the paper products, balloons and X number of free tokens for each child with the birthday child's share totally free. So, if you brought 10 people, you paid for nine. I knew I'd be there as would be my stepdaughter my two children and her baby. 

I maintained regular contact with the family members we'd invited and saw the neighborhood friend daily, but none of them ever RSVPd about the party. But, when I asked them if they were coming, they all, to a person, said they'd be there. I reminded all of them the morning of the party and we all went to PPP where everything was set up for a party. Paul was excited and our littlest kids really didn't grasp it yet. And, we waited. And waited. And waited.

This was before cell phones, so we weren't able to contact anyone to find out why they weren't there. Finally, my stepdaughter took the car and went to get an older cousin so we'd at least have someone there for Paul's birthday. While she was gone, a woman and her adult daughter came up to me and asked what was going on. By this time, I was angry and almost in tears, and my son's heart was broken, that even his family hadn't cared enough to show up, not even his father. I explained this to them and they shared their condolences over this failed effort at a happy day for a young boy, took their pizza and left.

My stepdaughter returned and had cousin Teo in tow. At least we could have some kind of party, even if it wasn't the kind we'd planned and promised. We had ordered pizza and drinks for just us (the pizzeria had kindly given us a few more tokens for Paul to play as they felt bad as well) and we were sitting and enjoying the pizza when the woman and daughter who had stopped by earlier came walking back in with their arms loaded with WRAPPED gifts for my son!! We were astounded!!

They had felt so bad for my son that they'd gone shopping and had the gifts wrapped to bring back for this little boy whose own family had failed to show up as promised. They said no child should ever be without a gift on his birthday. My son was wide-eyed at their generosity and I was just dumbfounded. I'd never confronted such largess in my life. I knew it existed, but I'd never experienced it. They each hugged Paul and as quickly as they'd arrived, they left. We never got their names.

To this day, my son remembers that day, as do I. And, my son has become one of the most generous people I've ever known. He leaves large tips, cooks huge meals and gives much of it to friends he knows are down and out, and is willing to help anyone in need. If I mention that day, he remembers it with the same degree of awe that he had that day. I wholeheartedly believe that those two women planted a seed that took root in Paul and continues to grow today.

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