Random 5 Friday ~ Coffee, Peace, Votes and Rats

Random 5 Friday.  Ready? Set — Go!

1 )  This picture, taken at night in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada, brings me peace.  I cannot look at those stars and not believe.

Photo Credit to Gerry Pocha

2 ) There was risk of a rat sighting today.  While I am thankful for the heads-up, my skin prickled at the mention and, thankfully, I dodged the interaction.  🙂    See once you’ve lived/worked/endured rat behavior – years can pass and your tail will still twitch at the memories a bad experience left on your soul.

3 ) Yesterday was National Book Day (should be a holiday, I’m just saying…. ).  Saw this and just had to share:

The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.” — Elizabeth Hardwick

4 ) Autumn is sneaking in.  Know how I know?  Mornings are just slightly darker.  On weekdays I am always up by 6:00 or sooner — now, it’s like August arrived and the sun decided to sleep in.  Seriously, there’s been a turn and I feel it most in the mornings.  Coffee up!

5 )  The August Primary took place earlier this week.  Whenever I get to vote, I think of Mom & Dad … they were both so passionate about voting and never missed an opportunity to take part. One time, because of bad weather & greasy roads, their only way out was to drive the tractor a mile & a half to the highway where they were met by Dad’s brother & sister-in-law – all four rode together into town to vote.  Open-air tractor or not, Mom grabbed her red patent leather purse and hopped on. I can just see it, the two of them heading off up the hill.     Man, I miss them. ❤

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo


Did you celebrate National Book Day, too? 

Ran into any rats lately? 

Seeing signs of Autumn where you are?

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Elections, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Men, News, Personal, Politics, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The right side of the gate

rodeo clown

When I was a girl I often helped Dad outside in the barnyard. In fact, I’d choose nearly any chore over chores inside.  Mucking stalls, loading bales, hauling chop (chopped oats), you name it.  I’d happily hop in the truck with Dad and run an errand, too: pick up a load of hay, drop off a steer, etc.  Plus, riding with Dad had its bonuses, namely you ride with the Candy Man you get some candy, man!  🙂

Flash forward to my corporate life today: I’m inside a lot, but I take the opportunity to get out “in the field” and in front of people as much as possible.  There’s only so many spreadsheets a girl can take.  I can create and run pivot tables, populate Power Point, yada yada yada, but, as I’ve blogged about before, sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and experience things head on.

A situation has been brewing that I’ve been managing and monitoring; I’ve pulled in local leaders and they understand the scenario.  Getting our corporate team’s attention isn’t always as easy, however.  Not for any other reason than what’s concerning me isn’t blowing up their backyard, it’s blowing up mine.

On a conference call with two lawyers the other day, I sensed they weren’t getting it.  So I brought up my Dad.  I explained that I’d learned a lot about the work I do by observing him as a Rural Municipal rep. He navigated political situations adeptly, he was a good listener, and his quiet charm and gentle approach served him well.  As a girl I tagged along to his meetings, making sure the coffee was fresh and the literature was straight.  I watched and learned as he listened to others’ concerns.

Further, I explained there were certain times when Dad would enlist all 5 of us kids for help – working cattle.  And one of his life lessons was to ensure we were always on the “right side of the gate.”  I shared his words, “If the bull’s out, you want to be in. If the bull’s in, you want to be out.”  Using this analogy, I related that I recently I’d felt like I was in the chute with a frothy mob of bulls bearing down on me and that it was up to the company to give me support as I vaulted up and over to the right side of the gate.  When I added that lately I’d felt like a “rodeo clown,”  they laughed and I felt Dad with me.

Me and those attorneys?  They get it, we formulated a plan and I am once again on the right side of the gate.


Oh you could put yourself between her and her babies, but I wouldn’t advise it. An Emjayandthem(C) photo


Can you relate to this story? Have you ever found yourself on the “wrong side of the gate?”   What childhood life lesson applies to your work life today?

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Confidence at any age, Elections, Faith, Family, Growth, Home, Life Lessons, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Random 5 – Congress, Mentors and Meerkats

It’s time for five random thoughts from the ever-swirling mind of yours truly.

1.  I’m off to D.C. soon and last week, with the help of my Congressional office, I booked a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol.   Normally you should book these tours months in advance …  my schedule is jam-packed while I’m there.  I took a chance and found there was one spot left on the afternoon I was available. Luck or fate?   I’m going with a bit of both.  And, if you don’t ask, the answer is already “no.”  Just ask – who knows?

Isn’t she grand?  VisittheCapitol.Gov

2. Last Thursday marked 7 years as a citizen.  7 years ago I obtained my 2nd passport and voted (here) for the first time. 7 years.  Stepping forward, with 78 other hopeful new citizens, that moment – and the memory – is still goose-bump-worthy.

That's me, holding the flag, and taking the Oath of Allegiance.

That’s me, holding the flag, and taking the Oath of Allegiance.  An Emjayandthem(C) photo

3. I’ve been saying “Yes” as much as possible lately and enjoying what comes next.  Last week I received an email from a long-time hero and mentor, Pat Katz.    Pat, teen leader and champion from the 4-H days of my youth, now writer, speaker, motivator, coach, artist, and all around fabulous woman.  She made a lasting impression on a young farm girl 36+ years ago and when we reconnected on Facebook, I felt like someone gave me the key to the cool kid’s club.   She shared this quote below and encouraged me to continue saying yes – and mentioned how fun it would be to meet up the next time I’m in Saskatchewan.  I immediately said yes – I’m going home for an August wedding and we’re grabbing a coffee and a hug at the airport arrival with my sissy Pat –and I’ll have my two favorite “Pats” in the same place – how sweet is that?

“Once you make up your mind and start something… Once you commit to it, say “Yes!” and never look back.

Do you have any doubt that I won’t rush to your side?  That legions won’t be summoned? That players won’t be drawn to help, assist, and fall in love? That connections won’t be made? Circumstances won’t be crafted? Dots won’t be connected?  That the course of history won’t be irrevocably changed?

Good, I didn’t think so. 

I’d say you’re ready,”
    – The Universe

4. This past week everything “popped” at once – not just Lilacs and other plants but the trees, too.  I’m popping Claritin like candy  … but is sure is green and lush and lovely.  Spring has sprung!


Emjayandthem(C) ‘s lilacs

5.  I don’t care who you are or where you’ve worked – we have all sat through that one long, boring meeting, speech or sermon and then …


What are you waiting to say “Yes” to?  What would you try if you knew there was no way you could fail?

Have a great Wednesday, Peeps!




Categories: Animals, Attitude, Determination, Elections, Faith, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Joy, Life, Patriotic, Relationships, Vote, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

R5F … and corn

It’s Friday! It’s Random! Time for five random thoughts.

Random Five Friday pic

1. 48 shopping days left till Christmas.  I know, I thought the same thing: why rush it? First of all, Thanksgiving is next.  We’ll gather together and enjoy my favorite meal.  There’s no gifting stresses and no mess to clean up.  And – everything tastes even better the next day.  I’ll have pie with my coffee, read blogs and shop online, and avoid the madness that is Black Friday. 

2. Switching the radio from a steady stream of political ads last week, I stumbled upon Christmas music.  On two stations!  Sorry Frosty, not yet.

Hold the tunes, pls.

Hold the tunes, pls.

3.  I love corn. Corn-on-the-cob, kernel corn with butter and black pepper, creamed corn and of course, popcorn.  I love corn.  For the most decadent creamed-corn recipe possible, head on over to Leah’s place.  It’s been part of our holiday meals since 2011 :).

4.   The local radio station asked listeners to share their quirks.  Example:  the DJ said he always puts on his to-go coffee cup lid so it’s pointed away from the seam.  All I could think was, “Doesn’t everyone?”   I do have a coffee quirk, though. After I pour it, I microwave it for 30 seconds.  I like my coffee hot.  Not burn your thigh off hot, just hot.  Yep, I might be quirky, too.

5. Saw this and laughed out loud. Pretty sure you will, too.  Have a great day, friends:

Hubbs changed a light bulb this week. He's my hero! :)

Hubbs changed a light bulb without even being asked. He’s my hero! 🙂

And how was your week?  What are some of your quirks?  Do you love corn, too?

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Elections, Family, Food, Fun, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Opinion, Personal, Politics, Random, Recipes, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The foundation of a free society

Hubbs noticed it before I did: stacks of political mail – all addressed to me.  Multiple phone messages – left for me.  Campaign workers at door asking to speak – with me.

You see as a new citizen, as soon as I could vote, I did.

And I’ve not missed an opportunity to since being granted that privilege.

Yes, it’s a bit disconcerting that my voting record is accessible to the pollsters.

But then I think about how when I use my “frequent shopper card” at the grocery store some marketing guy somewhere knows what kind of dish soap I prefer, too.

I heard yesterday that only 30% of eligible voters are expected to turn out for today’s Primary.

Elections are the foundation of our free country, but they are only effective if you take part.

I believe that every vote counts and, for that reason, I’m headed to the polls now.

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”  ― Abraham Lincoln


Categories: Attitude, Elections, Gratitude, Growth, Life, News, Patriotic, Personal, Politics, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

R5F – The D.C. edition

I finally made it to D.C. Tuesday night, missed our conference but made all of my Hill meetings (that’s how the regulars say it when they’re meeting with Congressional reps … heh heh).

Here’s my Random 5 Friday for today – the D.C. edition ….

1. If you’ve never been to Washington, D.C. you must go.  Yes it’s a big city. Yes there are a ton of tourists. But – there’s so much to see and do. And nearly every step you take is laced with history and meaning.   I say this every year but next year I am adding a couple of vacation days to be a tourist and take it all in.

2. Just driving past the Pentagon takes more than a few minutes. It’s that massive.

3. In the 2 days I was in D.C., I walked at least 12 miles and most of it was below the city. Did you know that tunnels connect many Governmental Buildings?  They’re clean and well-lit, but old as time.  I felt a bit like Desmond in “L.O.S.T”  Freaky.

"See you in another life, Brotha."  -L.O.S.T.

“See you in another life, Brotha.” -L.O.S.T.

4.  Meetings were fast and furious, back-to-back and took a lot of effort to get from one place to another. But, more than once, I stopped the race to just look around and linger in the moment.  Me.  6 years a citizen. From immigrant to company representative, meeting with the highest offices in the land!  In one such meeting I stepped away from the talking points and commented on a  photo of that particular Congressman with President Ford.  Impulsively, I told him I was a new citizen and that I’d taken my Oath of Citizenship at the Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.  His eyes met mine, he reached across the table, shook my hand and, with a tear in his eye, he quietly said, “Welcome. We’re glad to have you.”  It was a good meeting turned great and I learned once again that being yourself is more than enough.

5.  As much difficulty as we had getting there, it was the people I met who made this trip great for me.   The elderly veterans, many on scooters, dressed in their uniforms and pins and badges, just so patriotic and happy to have someone stop them to say hello.   My work colleagues from around the country who shouted my name as I entered the hotel; it was so fun to have them close to me.    The students I helped in the tunnels, because even though I walked them multiple times, I know how easy it is to get lost and how good it feels when someone offers you a hand.

It’s Random. It’s Friday. And I’m glad to be home.  You?

Categories: Elections, Faith, Fun, Gratitude, Growth, Joy, Life, Opinion, Patriotic, Personal, Random, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

On deciding where to go

“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.

And you know what you know.

And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
— Dr. Seuss

Today we vote: it’s time to decide where we’ll go.

You going?

As we head to the polls today, America, let’s be all that we can be: civil, respectful, patient and kind. I’ve met and witnessed too many wonderful people across this great land to ever believe that what’s shown on TV represents the best of us.   God Bless America!  – your grateful citizen, MJ.

Categories: Attitude, Elections, Fun | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Vote by voting or not showing

I will never forget the first time I voted in the United States. It was November, 2008, and the citizens were deciding who would take the Oval Office for the next four years.

I woke early and dressed carefully, paying attention to the reverence I felt for this special day. You see, as a Permanent Legal Resident, I’d had the responsibility of paying taxes for years, but I’d yet to experience the privilege of voting that comes with the promise of citizenship. I could hardly contain my excitement.

As I neared the polling location and saw the lines of people out front, to the side, and around the back of the building, I could hardly believe my eyes.  Fighting back emotions, I took a moment to consider the significance of this day.  I reflected on how well I’d done on my citizenship test – earning a 100% I might add – and how very proud I was to take the oath at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential museum.

Nervously, I checked my purse again, ensuring my identification was in order. Of course it was, it was right where I’d left it the last time I’d checked. Geez.

The mood of the people was palpable and so much, so very much, was riding on this day.

Taking my place in line, I noticed how most folks seemed patient, how many shifted their weight from one foot to another, and that quite a few passed the time chit-chatting with others nearby.

Roughly four people ahead of me, there he stood:  Mr. Notice-Me.  Mr. Impatient.  Mr. tap-tap-tap his foot so everyone around would know how important his time was. As if ours wasn’t.

He did his best to engage others in his commentary about the inefficiency of the system, how sorely lacking our Township for not having “enough” voting booths, at the fact that many of the poll workers were pensioners who moved slower than molasses-in-January.

I saw him trying to catch my eye and suck me into the conversation; I looked everywhere but at him. I didn’t want his negativity to taint my special day.

Finally, he couldn’t take my silence any longer and said – loud enough for many to hear – “You’re so quiet, how can you be so content just standing there?”

This time, this time I looked him dead on, smiled warmly and said: “Sir, I’ve waited years to stand in this line. You see, I’m a new citizen and this is my first time voting here and I will happily stand all night and into tomorrow if I have to.”

There was a sea of delighted “Congratulations” and “Wow, that’s awesome!” comments that surged around me.  But I don’t mind telling you, it was with pleasure that I accepted his hand and his humble words of “Welcome, point well taken.”  He was oddly quiet for the balance of our time together.

In May of 2008, seventy-eight of us (from thirty-four countries) took the oath of allegiance to the United States of America and stepped forward as brand new citizens right here in Grand Rapids, MI.  It signified the end of one journey and the beginning of another.

We’ve got 60 more days of promises, campaign ads, documentaries and debates to slog through. But no matter that, I will happily take my place in line come Election Day.

Will you?

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.”
―Larry J. Sabato, “Pendulum Swing”

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Elections, Forgiveness, Joy, Opinion, Uncategorized, Vote | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

My arms hurt

From an afternoon spent in the bookstore and what an excellent adventure it was! One afternoon last week I took some used books to a local book store; setting my books on the counter, I wandered off while the book lady perused my items.  I forgot to pick up a basket and instead carried a stack with me, hence the sore arms.  They elected to buy some books and pass on others and, in the end, I earned myself a sweet $28 store credit (sellers get 20% of the book’s value in cash or 30% in a store credit).


You know what comes next, right?

More books for me!  All totaled, I think I was in the store for 2 hours, but I really don’t know because I lost track of time.   Bookstores do that to me, but I digress.

I wandered. I read. I perused. I laughed and I relaxed.   But … the very best part was finding one older book that I’ve always wanted to read. I’d seen the movie years ago and it has disturbed and intrigued me ever since.

What is it?  “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right ideals have been carried to extremes in the mono-theocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist’s nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money (or read) and are assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the “morally fit” Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: “of Fred”), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. This powerful, memorable novel is highly recommended for most libraries.  Source: Library Journal.

So, today, I can choose to watch the news and listen to politicians rant about contraceptive coverage, health insurance mandates, religious freedom, economic liberty, social issues and birth control.  Or I can pick up this book and read all about it.

One’s fiction, the other isn’t.  Which one’s scarier?

Now that I think about it, my head hurts, too.

Categories: Elections, Life, News, Opinion, Politics, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

It’s all about the numbers…

895 days ago, I became a U.S. citizen.  🙂

This morning, I was the 89th voter in my precinct.  

It was my 4th opportunity to vote! 

We don’t expect our elected leaders to give us half an effort. We don’t hire them to serve half the people. 

Yet about half of us are expected to skip today’s elections in Michigan, content to let the other half do the hiring that we all will have to live with.

I showed up. I hope you will, too.

Why Election Day matters … read more here:

Categories: Attitude, Elections, Gratitude, Life, Life Lessons, Patriotic, Quotes, Random observations, Vote | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donate Halloween Candy to our Troops!

If your house is like mine, you’ve got leftover Halloween candy. Candy we don’t need. Candy we don’t want.  Candy that probably will end up at the office or thrown away. 

Did you know there’s an organization that would be HAPPY to get your  leftover (wrapped) Halloween candy?  And that this candy is shipped to our military personnel around the world?

Called “Operation Gratitude” (www.opgratitude.comtheir most urgent need is for:

  • personal letters,
  • candy, 
  • hand-made cool-ties /scarves,
  • Beanie Babies/WebKinz/Trolls
  • and financial donations to pay for postage. 

(On the website is an excerpt from a Marine’s letter:  “I live with 17 Marines and Sailors in one room. Everyone got a package and everyone loved it especially the cookies and beanie babies. The cookies are excellent and the beanie babies help us out a lot with the local kids. We give them candy and toys and they give us the location for IED’s. Once again, thank you for everything and for all the hard work that you put into the package. LCPL ND” 

Today’s Election Day.  

I’m thrilled to vote.  I’m honored I can do something that might put a smile on a soldier’s face.

* * *

Wrapped Halloween candy can be delivered/shipped by December 3 to:

 Operation Gratitude/California Army National Guard
17330 Victory Boulevard
Van Nuys, CA 91406
Charlie Othold:  818.437.6201
 For more information please visit: 


Categories: Elections, Gratitude, Holidays, Life, Patriotic, Politics, Random observations, Seasons, Vote | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Sorry, Frosty, not yet

(On 11/1/2010 this post was chosen as one of the best of 363,029 bloggers, 592,629 new posts, 389,435 comments, & 101,298,107 words on Thank you all!)

What’s worse?  The never-ending political ads or the arrival of Christmas music on radio stations today?

I love Christmas music. Love, love,  love it! Have scads of it.  Perry. Andy. Elvis. Ella. Dean. Bing.  But I love it when the snow is falling, when I’m wrapping presents, when I’m baking cookies and trimming the tree – not on November 1st.

We haven’t even put a dent in the left-over Halloween candy yet.   At least the political ads will end tomorrow. We’re stuck with this for the next 6 weeks and  if anything could make me feel like the Grinch, this is it.

Categories: Elections, Holidays, Life, Random observations, Seasons, Traditions, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 113 Comments

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