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The New Normal

Somehow me – and some others – are still here.  We’ve been impacted but not “touched” by “re-organizations,” “alignments” and “employee optimizations.”   It gets challenging to do your work well when your wide range of contacts becomes more narrow.

Opening the office yesterday, balancing my lunch, coffee and backpack while punching in the alarm code,  I took a moment to stand in the quiet and take this in. We’ve dropped from 28 to 7 in a matter of weeks.   Department consolidations, moves, staffing changes. Some left, others moved, some took different positions within the company.

I’ve been traveling during most of these changes so I’m a bit late to the (non) party.   It’s like I woke up from a dream and the horizon shifted.

The new normal is office doors open  – everyone listens for the doorbell  – not just the cube-dwellers.  The cubes are empty.

The new normal is driving 7 miles to spend the whole day by myself.   Yes I can work at home and I sometimes do but all of my files and materials are there.  And I like having an office to go to – I can access everything easily – make copies, send a fax and conference someone in if need be.

The new normal is closing my office door for conference calls only to emerge and find everyone gone.

The new normal is – as expected – me and the other female employee – ensuring the coffee pot gets turned off, lights are shut down, and that we don’t run out of supplies.

The new normal is weird.   I don’t care for the new normal.

 

I’ve been through many re-organizations ~ too many to count.  What’s your experience been and how did you cope?

 

 

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Categories: Faith, fear, Growth, Life, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Positive obsessions

for more, click on A test in self-worth

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, fear, Forgiveness, Friendship, Growth, Joy, Life, Mom, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Strong Women, Grey Ties & Valentine’s Day

As a girl, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a school party, card boxes, ice skating and moms visiting our classrooms.

google.images.com

google.images.com

As a teenager, Valentine’s Day was celebrated with a boyfriend if I had one and avoided if I didn’t.

google images

google images

As a young married woman, Valentine’s Day meant cards and flowers – for a while, anyways.  As our relationship evolved, romantic gestures were replaced by thoughtful ones.  Things you can’t buy in the store: taking out the trash; filling my car up with gas on a snowy day.  Running his vehicle through the car wash then detailing the inside myself. Folding the laundry left in the dryer; bringing in the groceries.   It’s the little things  ~ but they’re helpful and kind and nice.  And there’s a flow and a comfort to it that I love.

In my 50’s I don’t wait for someone else to make me happy ~ I make myself happy.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1You see I learned it from her:  My mother was a strong woman and my role model  – 100lbs of dynamite ~ she calved calves, trained horses, wrangled 5 kids, a husband, a 1/2 acre garden, 2 dogs and 14 cats.  She rode in trail rides, taught 4-H and Sunday School, balanced the books and Chaired the Board.  She always got out to vote, once taking the tractor to the highway to catch a ride to the polls. No muddy roads were going to stop her!  Not much ever did!

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 - mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Mom wrangling a Thanksgiving turkey in 1963 – mother of 5, do-er of anything she set her mind to. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

Like she did, I go to bed when I’m tired,  take a nap if I need one and I stay up late when I choose to.  I make room for the things I love – books – and never apologize for the space they occupy.  I have learned how to say “no thanks” to stuff I don’t want (or want to do) and “YES please!” to the ones I do.

Years ago Mom bought my sister & I that novel about the guy with the grey ties  ~ She made it clear she had no intentions of reading it and quipped “you can handle it” with a snort.   The two of us traumatized our grown kids by leaving it out on end tables.  The comments of horror from my nieces and the looks our boys shot my way were so worth it.  That was her point, to stir the pot and to remind us we always have a choice.

I chuckle remembering how Mom and I joked that if a good looking, rich man came near us with a grey tie, he’d find himself in some deep do-do.

God, I miss her.

So this Valentine’s Day I wish you this:

  • I wish you the courage to make the leap you’ve been pondering,
  • I wish you dreams in technicolor,
  • I wish you the conviction to change what’s not working, to stop worrying about what others think and to do the things that make your soul sing.
  • Time’s a-wasting and, per the wisest woman I’ve ever known, the only hero we have is ourselves.

 

strong-women

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Fun, Gratitude, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Love, Mom, Personal, Romance, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Random 5 – Good-bye 2016

I don’t know about you but I’m OK with saying good-bye to this year.  It’s not been all bad, but it’s been far too rushed-stressed-scheduled-manic-busy for me.   I don’t foresee that the work pace will slow but do I feel a shift in how I’m managing it:  I’m speaking up more and saying “no thanks” where I can. I no longer feel responsible for everyone and everything.  (No one asked me to do that, by the way, but that’s just how I rolled).  The surprising part? No push back.  Huh – should have done this long ago!

Having (most of) this week off has allowed time for reflection.  To think about what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, what I want and where I’m going  – here are my Random 5 thoughts on the cusp of a new year:

1 Traditions can change and you can, too.  Everything about this Christmas was different – everything.  What day we all got together.  What we ate, how we managed gifts, who was here and how we spent our time. I loved it!  Fewer decorations went up and came down sooner.  We stayed in more. We rested – we cocooned.  It was wonderful, magical, soul-restoring.

between-christmas-and-new-years

2 Family – this was our first Christmas without Mom and we all felt the pinch.  My sister called late one night, her voice cracking, and as we connected our tears fell. She was just “having a moment” she said.  “I get it,” I said.  We told our stories and cried and laughed and gave thanks for a Mother so joyfully recalled.

motherhood

3 Gifts – the best gifts are those that cost little but take time and effort and come straight from the heart: this year I made our boys a family recipe book.  It’s not perfect and it wasn’t professional but the joy I felt as they sincerely reveled in it was my gift.  I teased that I chose a red binder for a reason – likening it to the President getting the Nuclear codes – and that they’d best guard it closely.  They assured me they would.  😀

food ina garten

4 Epiphanies abound, case in point:  When we go out socially, I yearn for interesting and fun conversations.  When those don’t happen I withdraw or get frustrated.  Crap – I’m a conversation snob!!  Hubbs and I can have hours-long meandering conversations and I shouldn’t assume they’re available everywhere.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1

Great conversations make me happy!

5 Here comes the New Year.  We’re heading out tonight for Japanese Hibachi dinner with a host of friends.  I’ll find something sparkly to wear and hope for good conversations.  I’ll take a breath and look around and give thanks for the chance to do it all over again next year.  ~ Happy New Year all!

photo from flickr

photo from flickr

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, fear, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

On first days

Today is a big day.  Big day!

I had a full schedule planned and was supposed to be at an important breakfast meeting along the Lake shore. Up with the birds, driving in the dark, greeting importants and making everyone feel welcome.

But in the middle of all that, I made an offer of employment to someone I’m very excited about “on-boarding” (corporate words for hiring/acclimating an employee).

And to complicate things, my team and I are off to a conference next week. She needs to come, too. So HR said “she needs to start sooner.” As in today. Friday.

Add another layer of complications, an important agency asked for a meeting mid-state.   She’s on the East side, I’m on the west, the agency office is in the middle.

Decision made.

A few other employees were scheduled to appear with me at the breakfast meeting so they’ve got it covered.

I will leave shortly, take the meeting and then boogie on over to where her office is. Coffee up!

Why?

I remember my first day: I had a cubicle, a pen and a note pad. No computer. No guidance. No agenda. No direction. No colleagues (in meetings).

I did what I do best: I made a list.

Eventually someone hauled in a computer, a few days later it was up and running. In the meantime I met my office mates, asked questions, learned about the company and started figuring things out.

My first day, week, month weren’t great but they were definitely memorable. And a learning experience x 10!

You only get one first day.

One.

And I want hers to be memorable … but for all the right reasons!

day-one

“In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” ― Tina Fey, Bossypants

 

Do you remember your first day at work? What was it like? Did you feel like someone prepared for you or were you “tossed into the mix” like I was?

 

Categories: Attitude, Determination, fear, Gratitude, Growth, Life, Personal, Thoughts, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Freedom, baby

15 years ago today, we experienced an inconceivable tragedy when terrorists attacked our nation simply because of who we are and what we stand for. We will never forget.

4 years ago, we experienced this evil once again when 4 Americans were killed in a terrorist attack while serving in Benghazi, Libya. We will never forget.

We remember the heroic law enforcement officers, fireman and medical units who rushed TOWARDS danger when everyone ran from it. And our men and women in uniform who fiercely protected our freedom then and now.

So to the cowards whose jealousy and warped ideologies motivate attacks on us – I remember what happened here post 9/11: I remember people coming together NOT apart, strangers rescuing strangers and neighbors helping neighbors, people donating blood,money and food, an outpouring of love & pride for our country and renewed appreciation for our service men and women. We united this great nation as ONE. I never saw so many American Flags flying so bright and so often.

We were one nation indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all.

Sneaky terrorist creeps will never be able to take away what is intrinsic to our nature as citizens: our desire to live a full and FREE live. Honor. Faith. Hard work. Patriotism. And FREEDOM, BABY!

We remember the people we lost…and the heroes who rose.

Freedom LIVES.

Categories: Determination, Faith, fear, Grief, Life, News, Patriotic, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Margins, people and porcupines

I stunned a co-worker when I explained how I’d rid myself of the rat.  See, after he was pushed out of left the company, he tried to get back in.  He tried, more than once, to exert whatever authority he’d once had to weasel his way back. He tried but he failed.

Listening intently my friend asked, “Well how did you do it? What did you say?”

I simply shared that I had been honest and direct with no wiggle room for misinterpretation: I told the rat I didn’t want a relationship. With him. Then. Silence.

“You what?” my friend asked. “You heard that right. That’s what I said.”

Of course, being the narcissist that he is, the rat turned the table on me and became the victim. That’s what Narcissists do.  Whatever. ~Yawn~.

You see, with certain people you cannot beat around the bush. As hard as may be to do you can’t be subtle. You will fail.  You have to spell things out c-l-e-a-r-l-y so there’s no room for Wiley Coyotes to belly crawl back in.

Using the margins analogy, I referenced the wired ruler books we all used to carry in grade school. The center part, where the lines are, is where our work, family and obligations live. The margins represent our free time, our weekends, where dreams live.  When my margins shrink I get very discerning about who takes up space there.

I used this example recently when someone recounted all of the past hurts another had caused her, over and over again. I heard the anguish in her voice, the frustration, the pain.  Now I don’t know about you but when I rehash past traumas I rarely feel better; often, I feel worse.   So I countered with how stepping away from toxic people has helped me heal. It didn’t change them, no, they’re as ornery as ever.  But being absent from their negativity has changed me.  It was in sharing my growth that I thought to give her this advice:

don't pet the porcupine

Now this little guy, Teddy Bear, is so cute eating (and commenting on) his treat. But I know better than to pet him.

You?

 

 

Whose personality comes to mind as you read this?  How are your margins looking these days?   What would you like to make room for?

*Thanks to DM for the margins reference. Love it!

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Determination, Faith, fear, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

Storytellers & Liars

“A storyteller makes up things to help other people; a liar makes up things to help himself.”
Daniel Wallace, The Kings and Queens of Roam

I have an intolerance for Liars, especially having worked with/for one for years (otherwise known as The Rat).

So I like to think I have a pretty good nose for such people.  But, sometimes, I think I have blinders on, too.

You see, there’s a quite a lot of my Mom in me, the gal who wants to take people at their word, believe that most harbor good intentions, and think things will work out as they should.

So it took me a little by surprise when someone I’ve been interacting with turned out to be a Rat.

A big juicy one.

A sneaky, smarmy twitchy one.

A dirty, dank deceitful one.

I don’t interact with this person every day or even every month, but events find  us at the same meetings from time to time.

It happened just the other day, I’d arrived to a meeting, grabbed my notepad and chatted with others near me.

Not long after, I caught him in a lie.  Not just a “white lie,” but a big, twisty, “If I lie enough times it will eventually be true” kind of lie.

And I knew it. And he knew I knew it.

And the stance he took could only be interpreted as this, “What are you going to do about it?”

if you tell the truth you dont have to remember anything copy

Prickles ran up my back when I realized he thought I’d just sit there, with a room of witnesses, and “pretend” that I didn’t know what I knew.

So here’s what I did:  I asked him a question.  A pointed and strategic question.  The kind of question that you only can answer if you’re not a liar.  He blustered. He fumbled. He turned red. He turned on me.  He changed the subject.  All the while I looked at him and eventually, I smiled.  And he was caught.   I wonder if he’d been so used to lying that he thought no one would ever call him on his b.s.?  At the break a couple people commented on the exchange, and said they were surprised he was so “prickly” about my simple question (there’s that word again) and that I’d stayed calm as he came unhinged.

My response?  “I’m the youngest of 5 kids, 2 of which were brothers, plus a host of cousins.  You can’t know how many places I’ve been locked into. I can hold my own, don’t worry about me.”

I didn’t slander him, I didn’t smear him, but he knows that I know and I think sometimes that is enough.

He’s not likely to change his ways and I don’t care if he does.

But he knows that I know.

  * * *

How about you?   Do you know people who lie so much they might-as-well be a rug?  Do tell!

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, fear, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Men, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

The best part

Yesterday morning, as I pulled out of the driveway, I smiled and thought, “this is the best part.”  Prepping for a meeting across the state at a place I’d never been with people I didn’t know, rehearsing talking points out loud with the morning news, I felt butterflies in my stomach. Not nerves. Excitement.

I said out loud, “Thank you, Lord. This is just the best part!”

Then, walking into that meeting and opening a dialogue, connecting-the-dots and feeling their excitement, I smiled and thought, “man, this is just the best part.”   Enjoying lunch with a new-to-me colleague, I laughed at something said and thought again, “wow, this is so the best part.”

A young woman approached me recently seeking career advice ~ she’d witnessed my passion and wanted some of it.  My words were these – “Volunteer for every project, push yourself, make connections & never sell yourself short. If you’re not selling it, no one’s buying it.”

The truth is it matters less what you know than how you conduct yourself; be the one who shows up early, delivers on time and maintains a good attitude ~ people will want you on their team.

If you’re not selling it, no one’s buying it.  

And after we’d had that conversation I thought to myself, “boy, if that isn’t just the best part!”

What’s been the best part for you lately?

A-Masterpiece-and-a-Work-in-Progress

related posts:

Snapping strings

Being thankful for doors that closed

The Fear of the Fear

https://emjayandthem.com/2013/08/14/the-thing-about-alices/

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, fear, Growth, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Up on the beach – helping Syrian refugees

A few years ago, I became friends with a wonderful lady blogger, Sandi.  Sandi is a Florida mid-wife who, at the time, was based in China.  She’s shared her talents all over the world and recently left the safety of home and family to bring comfort to Syrian refugees washing up on the beaches of Greece.

She’s writing of her experiences and I have to tell you, reading about soaking wet children arriving on an overloaded raft, terrified and clinging to their mothers, haunts me.

An excerpt:

Thursday, February 11, 2016… the sun has set, our daily meeting with Toula’s volunteer group (or the group I affectionately refer to as Toula’s Merry Band of Volunteers) is over and Jaymarie and I decide to go to dinner.

Driving down the beach road we come across people coming up from the sea. Refugees. I ask Jaymarie to stop and I get out while she turns around to go back to the village for help. With the exception of one woman who is acting “shocky”, every one of the men, women and children seem to be OK, except they are wet and cold.

A young man, maybe around 25, comes up to me and hugs me and says while crying, “I drove the boat and I got everyone here safely… we are safe, we are safe!!!” The whole crowd starts to chant the same words in their language. My heart explodes with joy that I simply can’t explain.

A bit of an explanation. Sometimes the people on the boat are in a state of shock when they get on the ground. I think it’s a combination of many things including, absolute fear of the crossing (it is dark, their boats are grossly overloaded, many have never been on the sea), they are cold and wet, they are overwhelmed that the hardest part of their journey (fleeing their country, crossing multiple countries and a big, black, turbulent sea) is over and they are in Europe. All you can do is get them out of the wet clothes, put dry clothes on them and give them lots of hugs and love. This seems to work 🙂

Photo courtesy Flammidwyfe.com

Photo courtesy Flamidwyfe.com

The other thing I want to explain is the boats. I’ve touched on this before. They are rubber inflatables. They are kitted out with 30 hp engines, yes 30… that is NOT a typo! The 6 km journey takes an HOUR because there are 50-60 people on a rubber boat with a 30 horse power engine! Thus this young man’s immense joy that he brought this boatload of fellow refugees in safely. I asked him if he had ever driven a boat before and he told me, “no”. In fact, he has never been on the water before. I hugged him extra tight! He told me, “you are like my mother”. I struggle to keep my emotions in check because there is work to be done.

Help arrives! And we decide that it is best to walk them 1/2 a mile down to the clothing warehouse that is donated by a generous local man and maintained by Toula (the amazing local woman who will get her own post!) and her Merry Band of Volunteers. We get them in out of the wind and assist with getting them into dry tops, pants, shoes, socks and coats. Jaymarie helps a family with a special needs child who appears to have CP. (darn it!!! now I’m crying. In a cafe… why? Because I think of my {grand-daughter} Celeste and how scary it must have been for that mommy to travel with this special angel over that water and the whole voyage, gosh I hope they find a good place to live!). Jaymarie held the child while his mom and dad helped his siblings get into dry clothes and then clothed themselves.

Lots of love, lots of hugs, so much gratitude and JOY. What a great reason to be late to dinner!

https://flamidwyfe.com/2016/02/13/up-on-the-beach/

All kinds of help is needed.  I’m leaving the politics out of it.  These are people, real people, with nothing.

  • Any donation helps with basics – clothing, blankets, food, shoes, sanitary supplies, medical help:
  • https://www.youcaring.com/sandra-blankenship-480179 Or via PayPal: flamidwyfe1@aol.com
  • From Sandi:  I’m here because this is where God led me. I’ll stay until He leads me to leave. 

As for me I’ll be forgoing Starbucks and manicures and donating later today.   I’ve shared her blog on my Facebook page. As an immigrant myself, I cringe at the thought that anyone’s journey to a better life could end in the dark on a leaking rubber raft.

 

Matthew 25:35-40 – For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.

Categories: Blogging, Charity, Faith, fear, Growth, Life, Opinion, Personal, Politics, Quotes, Travel, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Christmas 2015 ~ Changes, lessons and blessings

Christmas has come and gone and with that comes time to reflect.  I have a few days off ahead of me and a couple of closets that need attention.  But I also have new books waiting on the end table … I think the books might win. 🙂

The grand kids were with us the night of the 23rd and all day the 24th, and our family feasted, played and opened presents that evening. It was fun and cozy and wonderful.  But it was also different.  You see things changed this year: they’ve slept over on Christmas eve for 3 years now, and we have embraced waking to two bright little faces … even if they do tend to get up on the early side.

But this year was different.  They wanted to go home, to hang their stockings there with Dad and his fiance.  That’s a very good sign that they know who their home is.

Still, we packed as much in as we could, playing Yahtzee and Dice, making chocolate chip pancakes and lunches/snacks, enjoying Holiday movies like “Elf” and “Prancer” and calling the Santa Tracker regularly to check on the big guy’s whereabouts. We read the story of Jesus’ birth and “The Night before Christmas.”    At the end of the night, as Dad and his love bundled them up, they were sleepy but excited to go home, see the dog and put out cookies for Santa.

Several times that day I had tried calling Mom but she didn’t answer; what I didn’t know is she’s congested again and that impacts her hearing.  The phone is next to her, but she never heard it ring.  Talking with my sister Christmas Day she relayed that she and my oldest brother spent part of the day with Mom and how much she enjoyed it but that it played her out, too.   I shared my connectivity concerns and she suggested I call the front desk and have them bring Mom the portable phone, which we did.  For about 5 minutes Mom chatted with me, Hubbs and youngest boy, and while our conversations were brief,  we all expressed our love and gratitude for her as well as our sincere wishes for a Happy Christmas.  We each had a tear when the call ended. And if the time comes that she can no longer hear well enough to talk on the phone, I guess I’ll have to come up with an alternative.

I’ve beat myself up for weeks,  wondering why I wasn’t feeling it ~ the Christmas “spirit.”

I can see now that life has been preparing me for another change.  Time to let some things go – to roll with the changes – and to land safely on the other side.   I’m trying to remain open as to what He has in store for me.

a time to keep

“Sacred blessings and divine opportunities appear in your life disguised as unforeseen changes and challenging circumstances.” ― Miya Yamanouchi

 

What changes are you sensing?  Are you able to roll with them?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, fear, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Mom, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Monday wonderings

Woke up to thunder and lightning yesterday, and temps later climbed to 65F here in West MI.   Firing up the oven, I wrangled my cookie sheets and recipe cards and started my Christmas baking.   Sometimes I can be a bit dense – as it took me a while to figure out why I got so warm (I thought it was just a surge)  – between the temps and humidity outside, Hubbs having the furnace set to 72, and the fact that I was wearing sweats  (hello!) I thought I was going to melt along with the chocolate.  I changed into shorts & a tank top, cracked the windows to cool me down and soon got into a baking rhythm, making cookies, fudge, candies and such.  I love those kinds of afternoons because time stands still while I sort, measure, stir and create.   Between 12 and 4pm I clocked 5 miles on my Fit-bit.  5 miles – inside the house – up and down stairs, doing laundry, vacuuming, and baking.   (( The Holidays aren’t for sissies!! ))

And when 5:00 rolled around it occurred to me that we now had a freezer full of sweets but no food (!) ~ back into the kitchen I went to make dinner.

Later, as I faded into my recliner, I talked with my Sister so I could get an update on Mom ( it’s not great); we later chuckled how both of us had put in a Holiday-baking-wrapping-cleaning marathon yesterday and, while neither of us are sick (bonus!) we both felt like biscuits:

busted can of biscuits

Why am I doing all of this now?  I just have a feeling that life as I know it is about to change.  That I may have to step out of my life here and head home to another.  And being busy helps me cope when there’s nothing I can do but …  think.

photo credit news.bbc.co.uk

photo credit news.bbc.co.uk

What’s on your mind this Monday?

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, fear, Grief, Growth, Holidays, Life, Mom, Personal | Tags: , , , | 22 Comments

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