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Life Lessons

The idea

“Use it or lose it” they said.  I rolled over vacation time last year to this one and it’s timing out so .. with that .. I’m on vacation this week — and following the “no plan-plan.”

Purposeful nothingness.

Reading.

Sunshine.

Iced Tea.

Flip flops.

Farmer’s Market.

Pedicure.

Reading.

Phone chats with siblings and cousins.

Music.

Firing up the grill.

Shutting down the laptop.

Reading.

Naps.

A stretch of days with nothing to do and all day to do it.

You can get old pretty young if you don’t take care of yourself.

I’m feeling younger by the minute!  🙂

When’s the last time you checked out? Have you ever had a week of “purposeful nothingness?”

 

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Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Return

It’s been a month since I wrote last.

1 month.

1 month, 2 weddings & a funeral.

Sounds like a movie title.

Time marches on, life slowly returns to some semblance of normal.

The phone rings. Emails chime in.  Cell phone buzzes.

It’s good to be back;  a routine is helpful to me.

But … other times fatigue hits like a wet blanket.

There’s no logic to it.

Grief.

You’re sideswiped when you least expect it.

Looking at a picture, singing a song, holding something she’d held.

Then I think about the past 6 months and the growth that’s occurred ~ 6 months ago {today}  I was nervously off to meet with some rather tough hombres. Tonight is meeting #4  with same crew. No nerves. Funny how that goes, isn’t it?  She’d smile at that and give me a thumbs up.  I’ll take it, too.

Yes there were many stories to share, many moments.  Many laughs, many tears.  Many kind words, much emotion expressed.  So much.

Like the passage I read at her funeral .. .there’s a time for all things under Heaven.

And as she’d want us to, we laughed. We cried. We sang. We danced.  We remembered. And, as she’d nudge us to, we carried on.

Ecclesiastes-3-4

Thank you for your kind words on the passage of my Mother.

Your kindness gave me the strength to square my shoulders, smile broadly and speak openly about her at the memorial.    She was with me and so were you.

PS ~ our last conversation was personal and political, we bantered about Rump and Billary ~ I can’t tell you how much I love that 🙂

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, Friendship, Grief, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, Politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 21 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

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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

The quietest of friends

Something’s happened, there’s been a shift again.  I think it started by picking colors for our house and imagining a reading room in my head.  Picturing colors, touching fabrics, something stirred and I found myself opening an already packed box of yet-to-be-read books.

Devoured “Defending Jacob” in 2 nights.

defending jackob

Read 3 Reader’s Digest and 5 Oprah Magazines the next.  Stayed up too late last night reading this:

the-girl-in-the-red-coat-by-kate-hamer

Books take me back to my prairie childhood;  Mom helped me get a Library card when I was very young, about 7 (I’m sure she had to co-sign for me).    The Bookmobile arriving to our little prairie town was cause for celebration;  Book Fairs made my mouth water.  I’d buy adventure books, books in a series, fact-finding books, anything books.   I still love the smell of a book, and being in a library calms me.

bookmobile

Our bookmobile looked something like this, only older.

I spent my teens reading Stephen King (“It” – gak I hate clowns) and Peter Benchley (Jaws made me think twice about swimming in the lake at night) and Jacqueline Susann (Valley of the Dolls) or Jean M. Auel’s “Clan of the Cave Bear” series.  I devoured my sister’s magazines, Seventeen,  Glamour and Cosmopolitan.

It’s no wonder that when I feel life closing in, I retreat to books.

home-library-designs-16-500x625

If I had this, I might never come out!

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles William Eliot

 

How about you? Can you relate?  Did your town have a Bookmobile?  What are you reading now?  What does your “dream room” look like?

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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.

100_3119

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 Friday – home parties, epiphanies and chick-chats

It’s Friday and I’m happy about that because there’s something particularly challenging about slogging through a January work-week.  Lack of sunlight, yes, but I’m convinced all those new year, new budget cycle spreadsheets and projects have something to do with it, too.  OK – so here goes:

1  **Language warning**  but this made me laugh and snort my coffee:

quit eating shitty food

2 Home parties?  Hate them.  This is the time of year (long winter, folks are bored, I get that) that I get a bunch of invites to parties selling stuff I have no interest in.  Carrying stuff.  Crafting stuff.  Cleaning stuff.  Jewelry stuff. More. Stuff.  I have enough stuff. I don’t even like the stuff I have.  I don’t want more. Make it stop.

direct-sales-party-games-consultants

Almost as painful as those stupid shower games!

3   Had a lab follow-up appt with my Doctor yesterday.  This was to compare lab results from November to now.  My total cholesterol is  down 22pts, blood sugars are down 20 (not pre-diabetic but hovered close to it), Vit D is up, Thyroid stabilized (on meds ) and the best part was my Doc saying “I see no reason to change what you’re doing, it’s obviously working for you!” – Also – no recent resp infections (I had 5 last winter!). On the Wheat Belly way of eating I’ve shrunk – lost 10 lbs, 11″ and all BODY ACHES + chronic pain and inflammation.  I’m eating yummy real foods and today marks my 25th Day … not going back.

Picture on the Left taken Dec 29th, picture on right taken Jan 27th!   ( My motivation to change here:  Sisters don’t need words )

wb dec to jan.png

I’ve got some sass in my stance now! 🙂  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

 

20 days!

20 days!! and Emjayandthem (C) photo

4 Had a wonderfully hilarious soul-fulfilling afternoon with a dear friend this past week (the day that picture above was taken).  We laughed and talked and laughed again. We commiserated, strategized, supported and plotted.  I don’t know many like her – maybe 3 – and when I get the opportunity to be with her my soul sings.    I see the possibilities.  I realize that this is what I yearn for – a pal and a confidante who knows full well that the worst decisions always make the best stories and that a few hours of “chick-chat” can beat years of therapy.  Here’s to soul-sisters and great friends!

Good Friends

 

5  Something else happens when you finally put yourself on that stupid “to-do” list you’ve been carrying forever:  you become a little kinder.  To yourself. You start to appreciate all the nonsense your poor body has tolerated because of your choices over all these years.  And when it quietly whispers “thank you” and begins to function again as it was designed to do you catch yourself in a puddle of tears -tears of gratitude for what’s to come.

my body my friend

 

And how was your week?

 

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Life, Life Lessons, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Curtain intolerance

It’s been an adventure, that’s for sure, this Wheat Belly way of living – eating differently, thinking differently, feeling differently.  Sleeping differently, looking differently.  All different – good – wonderful – but different.   Empowering different.

Hubbs is on board, cheering me on.  Youngest boy enjoys being my “sample taster.”  Friends are asking questions.   One has reacted negatively, because when you change it can create friction in a relationship – your change, motion, and movement can make another feel like they’re standing still.   Years ago I would have stopped my progress to rush back and “save” her and our rapport.  Not anymore.

Talking with a colleague about her unhappy relationship I listened in sadness as she described all she does for her boyfriend and how little it’s appreciated.  I listened as she told me about taking his kids to school, along with hers, how he doesn’t like it when she has to travel because he must assume her role.  It’s been three years and there’s no ring on her finger and between you and me, I don’t think he ever intended to put one there.  I listened until I couldn’t and then asked her this, “If you had a girlfriend telling you all this, what would your advice be?”

self talk

Making small changes to better my health have me feeling like I lifted the curtain – I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.    The  view has sharpened.  It has less to do with what I’m eating and more to do with (finally) putting my name on that d*mn “to-do” list I’ve carried for 30 years.  And when you do it, finally do it, the clarity you enjoy lessens tolerance for the curtains around you.

My colleague?   Settling for an unhealthy relationship with a guy who treats her badly.  I can’t save her.  She has to save herself.

Can you relate to this post?  Are you on your “to do” list?  What messages have you told yourself and are you willing to change the message?

 

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” ~e.e. cummings

emjayandthem in grade one

emjayandthem in grade one

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotes, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

How not fine we are

You know that old saying about how you never know what you’ve lost till it’s gone?  Or left? Or something like that?

I didn’t realize how bad I felt until I didn’t.

Seriously.

This is what I felt like before starting the Wheat Belly way of eating 15 days ago.  Slogging though, getting it done, barely living.

sleepy-kitten-cute-kittens-9835304-450-301This is how I feel today.

peeking kitten

I wake before my alarm. I come home from work with energy to spare.  No longer am I just slogging through.

alert kitten

www.wheatbellyblog.com 

15 days. 7.5 lbs.

Inches lost.

Inflammation – gone.

Body softly whispering “Thank you.”

Muffin Face has left the building ~ someone else has taken her place and she’s feeling just fine!

 

wheatbelly-cover

“Sometimes, though, we let ourselves get so used to being ‘fine’ that we lose track of how ‘not fine’ we are.”  – ― Martina Boone, Compulsion

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Confidence at any age, Determination, Food, Gratitude, Growth, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Quotes, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Clementines and disconnects

I came back to work to an ignored box of Clementine oranges on the lunch-room table; shortly thereafter the January potluck sign-up sheet was up and I chuckled, “There go the resolutions.”

You see, at my office, if a food item contains any of these four ingredients: Cheese, Chocolate, Cool-Whip or Barbecue – it’s gone. Demolished.  So while someone very kindly thought to share the lovely little oranges, they met a sad, rotting fate with my crew.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions other than mulling over an epiphany that happened several weeks prior:  stop waiting.  You see I was thinking that (soon) things would slow down (they won’t). Soon I’d have time (no more than the 24 hours we all get every day).  Soon things would ease (not likely).  So quietly and calmly, just before Christmas, I made a decision and it was this:  do one thing – just one – act of kindness every day – for myself.  It wasn’t made in a manic, frantic racing around moment. It was a quiet and gentle urging:  you deserve care, too.

And so I did.

The Holidays were super-fun, we had the monkeys (grands) for several sleepovers and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and them. But we also snorted how glad we were that we had our boys when we were much younger. Those kids are busy, with questions and concerns, and interests and things to say.  Love them.

I took naps.  I read. I dropped out of contact for 24+ hours. I spent time with Hubbs and time without him.  I went out with friends, talked on the phone and slept in. I ate when I was hungry, and didn’t when I wasn’t.  I listened.

It. Was. Glorious.

Before I went back to work, I spent Sunday cooking — a roast beef dinner for hubbs, roasted vegetables, salads and chicken for me.  I packed my lunch, went to bed early, and left the office for home before dark.   And when I left, I turned off my cell phone.

These all seem like very basic things but I am here to tell you they’re not, at least for me.  Disconnecting at the end of the day has allowed me to lean into my evenings.   Tuesday, I repeated what I’d done on Monday.  Planning the same for today – revolutionary!

Simple.  Profound. And why didn’t I do it sooner?

At 52, I guess I ‘m still learning that I want the best of me, not just the rest of me.

 

Buddha-quotes-about-love

Can you relate to this? Are you capable of giving yourself love and affection, too?  What lesson has taken you years to learn?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Growth, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Personal, Quotes, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women, Work | Tags: , , , , , | 10 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

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