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Opinion

Summertime Sundays

Summertime Sundays often find me alone in the house ~ with good intentions but few accomplishments.

I wake when I wake, no alarms, just quiet.

The house is cool and calm .. Hubbs has slipped off to golf before my eyes ever opened.  The woof-woof-woof of the sprinkler thumps in the background.  He set it up “just so” with a note asking that I check on it and turn it off soon. I will and I do.

I pour a coffee and wander throughout the house, thinking about the day, the week, my life.

Laundry is done, leftovers are in the fridge and I have no particular place to be.  My chair calls, I can feel the stack of books and magazines pulling me closer.  My mind drifts to work – there’s a tiny inclination to turn on my company laptop and check to see which project is on fire today – but the inclination soon passes.  Monday, and all the breathless anxiety it brings with it, will be here soon enough.

I’ve grown fiercely protective of weekends over the past few years — during the week, the days blend into night, calls and projects come in at any time, and boundaries are shrinking.  Now I guard my Sundays like a child guards their money.

Sunday finds me cooking, reading, singing, blogging, resting, putzing, dreaming, talking and, most of all, living.  And I’m getting really good at Introvert Bingo.

 

“SUNDAY  – The day..I planned a lot but actually do nothing.”
― Lovely Goyal, I Love the Way You Love Me

 

How about you? Do you ever plan to do absolutely nothing?  Have you found yourself wandering through the house, looking at your list of stuff to do, but doing none of them?  How good are you at giving yourself a day off?

 

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Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Determination, Family, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

32 and 9 and still new

32 years ago I immigrated to the United States with $178 and a guitar.

9 years ago I stepped forward with 78 others to take the Oath of Citizenship.

It was one of the proudest and most emotional  moments of my life.

(more about my journey here.)

You see, someday I will be a citizen for 15 or 20 or 35 years and I’ll still choose to tell folks that I’m a “new” citizen.

Why?

Because I don’t know how else to communicate the significance of it.    The choice of it.

We’re not perfect, this country, we’ve got our flaws.  Like most families, there’s bickering and divisions and  always someone willing to point out what’s wrong with us … but still … there’s a heart and soul about America that continues to inspire people to imagine a life here.

* * * *

God Bless America, Land that I love

Stand beside her,  and guide her

Thru the night with a light from above

From the mountains..to the prairies

To the oceans..White with foam

God Bless America!

    My Home Sweet Home

Happy birthday, America …. from a grateful citizen.

 

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Categories: Attitude, Faith, Holidays, Home, News, Opinion, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kisses, smiles and summertime

Summer just started and * gasp * it’s already scheduled  … I have too many vacation hours and must use “it or lose it” (not happening).  Not a terrible problem to have I know so, for that reason, I’m booking off soon to enjoy a summer  that looks like this:

“It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!”  ― Kenny Chesney

 

 What’s your summer looking like? 

 

 

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Random 5 – Mom looks, phone calls, traffic, forgetting and Pearls

We’re halfway through May ~ wow!  I’ve been traveling so much that I was halfway through April when I realized my desk calendar said … March.  And wouldn’t you know that, ever since my last post, I’ve been craving Penny Candy?  🙂

I’m not here as much anymore, sorry, but I do read your posts when I can, and I think about writing. I really do.  I just … well … 10 & 12 hour work days + night meetings + copious travel and … yeah, you get it.   Something’s gotta give … and this g-a-v-e.

But a few randoms caught my attention lately and I thought “those would be great for the blog” – so here we go.   Random 5 on a .. gulp .. Wednesday.

(1)  Mother’s Day was great – relaxing – joyful.  The boys came and went, chats were had, hugs and presents were given.  Didn’t need anything fancy – just them.

… and we laughed about the power that IS “the Mom look”

( 2 )  Is it just me or has there been an uptick in anonymous calls?  Home, office and cell phone.  Hey, pal, if you can’t even announce who you are, I’m not answering.  This isn’t 1974 when no calls were ignored …!

( 3 )  My face.  In traffic.  Every day.  Except I’m dressed.

( 4 )  Did this the other day — walked around looking for my glasses which were on my head.  Geez Louise.   Have you gone to the basement and walked around wondering why you were there?  Came back up only to remember?  Gah!

( 5 )   An Auntie shared this photo recently of Dad’s mother, Grandma Pearl.  I get my naturally curly hair from her.  She was a marvelous cook ~ her pan-fried burgers with sautéed onions were to die for ~ and her baking was out of this world.  Sometimes she let me help – such a privilege!  I had the good fortune (and prior planning – wink wink) to be over for a noontime visit she’d invite me to stay for lunch with her and Grandpa and, before lunch even started (translate feast) she’d hand me a plate and ask me to go pick out baking for dessert — in the basement she had a freezer full of baked treats – gingerbread cookies, short breads, “Aunt Mary’s cookies,” home-made donuts, tarts, bars and more.  Any lucky grandchild carrying the plate could simply tip-toe down the gleaming white stairs to the baking freezer, crack open the lid and take our pick from the plethora of homemade goodness that lived there.  Setting the selections aside as we enjoyed lunch together, the treats would quickly defrost.  After lunch, Grandpa would dip spoonfuls of sugar into his coffee/cream, they’d quietly nibble their selections in the midst of  the clatter my stories must have generated.    When I see her face, I’m transported to the summers of my girlhood — pigtails, my pony tucked in the barn or a 10 speed right at the front door.  I feel again what I’d always known to be true.  Something they didn’t speak of, you had to be there to feel it.  Loved.

This picture taken in 1923 ~ 94 years ago ❤️ Pearl was 19. Her only daughter passed away on Mother’s Day ~ hard for us but a gift to her.  An Emjayandthem (C) Photo

 

What’s new in your world?  Did your Mom have “the Mom look” down?  What picture or fragrance transports you back to your Grand parents?  Do tell!

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Friendship, Fun, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

The Glad Surrender

Lately my work life is all consuming  ~  looking back and ahead I am struck by these four things:

1 ) Traveling every week for work & so that means restaurant after restaurant – and eating healthfully can be a challenge.  Typically I have a big breakfast sometime during the day and supplement with foods I bring with me.  But, I’ve discovered the wedge salad and that has become my new favorite.  I’m sure it’s 10,000 calories but I don’t care.   Here’s is one I enjoyed a few nights ago with shrimp and a Skinny Girl Margarita.  Yes I was that gal photographing her food … ha!

dinner on the road recently

2)  I’m tired.  Tired of work, tired of calls, tired of projects, tired.  I’m tired of increasing pressure, endless demands and unrealistic expectations.  In just a few weeks we will shut everything off and head to a warm vacation.  In response to bosses who’ve asked anxiously if I’ll be online while away I’ve answered no, I’ll be IN line for a beach towel and a lemonade by the pool.   Looking forward to no schedule, no calls and no clocks.  I know what will happen – we’ll sleep deeply, be up early, and smile our way through sun, tunes, good foods and warm waters.  And when we get back it will all be there waiting for us.

3)  The one thing saving my life right now is weekends.  And sleep. And wedge salads. And that pool image above 😉

4)  Many flagship stores around us are closing – K-Mart was first, Sears was next, and now, certain J.C. Penney stores, too.  Out of solidarity I stopped at JCP one night last week, hit a sale, and walked out with >$300 in merchandise for $95.    If I could get a deal like that more often I’d go to the mall more.  Hmm.

** How about you? What new-to-you food are you loving? Have you came upon any deals lately? What are you excited about?  When’s the last time you took a break? Can you embrace the Surrender?**

“Work is a blessing. God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest, just as it is the experiences of hunger and thirst that make food and drink such pleasures.”  ― Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline: The Glad Surrender

 

Categories: Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Fashion, Food, Fun, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lions, Lambs and funeral luncheons

Mother Nature has been mercurial again – here March roared in like a lion, with freezing temps, bitter cold, blowing snow and lashing sleet.   All this after a mid-February warm up to nearly 70F.  The latest round felt like a mid-winter spanking. Are we safe to assume March will leave like a lamb?  I’m not so sure.

A friend passed away last Sunday ~ shockingly young, leaving a wife and two children plus a business and employees to take care of.  We struggled to absorb the news and rally around our friend.  As expected, a call went out for food and folks didn’t disappoint.  At the wake Friday night, were crocks full of hot foods like meatballs, macaroni and cheese, Sloppy Joe’s, Fettuccine Alfredo and Lasagna plus trays of cakes, cookies and squares, salads, raw vegetables, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, boiled shrimp, crackers and cheese, a  baked ham and the fixings for sandwiches.

There’s something so comforting about being able to help at a time of sadness. 

Many commented on the abundance of foods and I thought of Mom and my Auntie and all the times they’d done the same. It’s nice to be part of a community that comes together and provides sustenance when needed.

Later that evening, reflecting on the day, Hubbs and I chuckled at how we’d both observed the same thing: older gentlemen – every one of them had a big slab of cake (sometimes two), cookies or brownies on their plate ~ we laughed about how we could see my Dad or his Grandpa doing the same – how they knew enough to”go for the good stuff first.

Co-mingled in the sadness is a lingering feeling of fellowship, the memory of a room growing loud with laughter and toasts to a good man.

And as the wind howls outside here today, no lambs are in sight.

**   How does your family or community navigate loss?  Are you experiencing Lambs or Lions where you live? **

 

Categories: Confidence at any age, Faith, Food, Grief, Home, Life, Love, Opinion, Personal, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak

It’s been some time since I’ve written and I’m sorry about that.  I don’t like to write just to have something to post.  I also don’t always want to talk just to talk.  Sometimes … I just need quiet.

My job is so busy right now – and while I am not complaining, it takes effort to carve time out for me.  Work is all encompassing – meetings bleed into evenings, projects spill into weekends, and boundaries shrink as more is piled on and more is expected.   Still – I accept invitations to get out the door and off to someplace new.  I don’t mind travel through poor cell coverage areas (yay quiet!) and I relish hours in the car by myself.

The world seems so loud these days ~ we still have a land line and callers tend to be Telemarketers, Automated surveys, Charities I’ve never heard of .. and older relatives.

I realized the other day that sadly I no longer have the excitement about the phone that I enjoyed as a girl.

See, at our farm, we had a party line hanging in the kitchen and when that phone rang we kids raced to answer it.  Maybe it was Grandma calling to invite us all for cake & coffee on Sunday afternoon.  It could have been Mrs. Prentice calling for an upcoming 4-H meeting I was to attend. Often, it was my cousin giving me a quick call as she saddled up her pony J. Jay and headed my way  – “meet you in the middle!” we’d yell.  Our farms sat about 2 1/2 miles apart – with fields and hills and trees in between.  We’d race up, sweaty and breathless, and ride together back to one farm or the other (or Grandma’s).  Sometimes we’d turn our faces and braids to the north and head to the river valley, talking and dreaming and laughing all the while.  Other times we’d turn south and follow the canal trails down to the lake, jumping our ponies over puddles and logs like the Equestriennes we thought we were.

the best view is from the back of a horse!

the best view is from the back of a horse!

Sometimes a phone call was an older sister’s new beau –against our giggles she’d take the phone as far as the cord would go – and away from prying ears of snoopy siblings.

telephone_yellow

That harvest yellow farm phone was our lifeline: Phones brought wonderful, happy news – “back to bed, the bus won’t start,” “your cousins are coming for two weeks after your birthday!”, “You’ve been accepted to summer camp!” “So and so’s birthday party is at the rink this year and then a sleepover for all you kids!”

Phones also brought somber news – a car accident, a diagnosis, a funeral to attend or cook for or both – and sometimes calls were on behalf yet another dumb teenager stuck at the beach and a request for Dad to come and help.

I can still recite my parents’ number and, even with Mom gone, I’ve called it since.  Her harvest yellow phone is now gone, too.

In the quiet ~ it’s the memories that remain.

****

Does the world seem noisier to you these days?  How do you manage the noise in your life? Do you still have a land line? Who calls you?

quiet-the-mind-soul-will-speak-life-quotes-sayings-pictures

 

 

 

 

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Faith, Family, Fun, Growth, Home, Life, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Rants, Technology, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The road to 2017

2017The days between Christmas and New Years afford us an opportunity to reflect and address the state of our union.  To take stock of our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual happiness.

As we look back and ahead we pause to ask:

What was my biggest lesson?

What do I want to learn next?

What do I want more of? Less of?

What makes me happy? Sad?

What do I want to experience?

What do I want to feel?

What/who do I need to forgive?

What do I need to let go?

What do I want to do?  What am I willing to do?

What holds me back? Is it true?

newsboy 2

What will your 2017 headline say?

As you look to the new year, will you celebrate your accomplishments and forgive your blunders?  What excites you about 2017?

*Story idea: Frankie Perez’s MindGym

chapter

Categories: Attitude, Blogging, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Friendship, Gratitude, Growth, Holidays, Life, News, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Stress, horizons and pie

Vacation is on the horizon!

vacation next exitStarting Monday ~ 5 glorious days off with Thanksgiving tossed in for good measure.

Emails will pile up, phone calls will continue, conference calls will be scheduled even though others know I’m away.

“Take the time before you lose the days.”

I now have more vacation time “in the bank” than I have time to use.

Emails continue to come in, fast and furious, hundreds every day.

Calls, meetings, schedules.

Lately I feel like I’m scaling the Grand Canyon on a daily basis…. blindfolded.   I can feel the tension in my shoulders, which now approach my ears. I can feel stress in my heart rate when I lie down at night and can’t quieten my thoughts.

1,000+ miles in the past 10 days, 150 yesterday and another 400 tomorrow – and all the while project calls get scheduled and scheduled and scheduled. “Could you take the lead on this?”  “But you and your team know so much about X” “We want you on this task force…”  Flattering but ..my cup runneth over.

I hear my mother’s voice whispering in my year, “You can’t be everything to everyone, dear.”

My weariness reminds me to shut it down, shut it up and shut them out.

So – vacation is on the horizon … and there shall be pie!

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

*Note: no pies were consumed in the writing of this post.  Pies shall be made for 1) Grandpa (apple), 2) oldest boy (blueberry) and 3) youngest boy (pumpkin).  Will I have any? Not likely. See, the joy is in the creating ~ the cutting, the simmering, the kneading of the dough, Al Green on the stereo and happiness in my kitchen.

Oh so true!

Oh so true!

 

*Are you taking some time off over the Thanksgiving Holiday? What are you looking forward to most?  Is there a pie in your future? 😀

Flapper pie; an Emjayandthem (C) photo

A Flapper pie I baked in Mom’s kitchen ~ an Emjayandthem (C) photo

 

 

Categories: Determination, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

It’s not the grief, it’s the longing

Six years ago I registered for this blog site – 6 years!  My very first post involved lessons learned from Mom – you can read it here.

Man, I miss her.  She was my “go-to” person on so much but especially politics.  Oh the conversations we’d be having right now!   She’d snort, I’d laugh and the two of us would conspire like school girls.  I remember her whispering to me once that “none of the other kids read like you and I do” – now some siblings do read, a lot. But the way she said it makes me grin because I know she saw herself in me.  I couldn’t be more proud of the similarity.

This is the same woman who gifted me (and my sister) a scandalous book about grey ties. She had no intentions of reading it but told me, “You can handle it.”  I know she did it to scandalize us… and it worked.    The two of us horrified our (grown) kids by leaving it out on end tables.  The looks my  boys shot my way were worth it.  That was her point, to stir things up and to remind us we always have a choice.  God, I love her.

I’m lucky to have had someone so feisty as my role model.  Someone who didn’t let her gender define her. Someone who slung her purse over her shoulder and leaned in as she marched forward, even when she didn’t know the script.  We talked about this often, how as women we do more – we’re expected to  – be more, accomplish more just to earn a seat at the table.  We often talked about “not having the playbook” and her response was always the same, “you’ll figure it out, kid.” And I did.

So I think I’ve finally hit on out why conversations around me  of late have left me bored: It’s the lack of layers. The surface talk. Not having her intelligent interjections to both jar and delight me.

“The most important things are the hardest to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them — words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
― Stephen King

 

What conversations do you miss having?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Grief, Growth, Humor, Joy, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Wisdom, Women, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Five for Friday and Fall

It’s Friday ~ Whoop!!  A crazy week filled with travel, airports, meetings, people and … whew … not much personal time or space.  Home again and looking at a busy weekend filled with fun outings ~ Yay!

Here’s my Friday Five:

1  Fall has arrived.  My. Favorite. Season.  The mornings are cool & the days are warm.  We have a saying around here:  winter on top, summer on the bottom.  Meaning you can wear shorts & a hoodie most of the time and be perfectly comfy. But you’d better have a tee-shirt under that hoodie for the hot afternoons. And keep it close for when the sun departs.  Fall!!  Colors.  Temps.  Clear Skies.  Apples. Pumpkins. All of it – I. Love. Fall!

Frankie loved Fall

Frankie loved Fall, too (an Emjayandthem (c) photo) ❤

2  I had to take another personality test for an upcoming (work) conference.  I swear they’re trying to decide if you’re a serf or a serial killer.  Underling or a Gladiator.  The questions are so extreme and some are just stupid.  Your choice of answers include: highly disagree, disagree, neutral, agree or highly agree. Here’s a sample question:  I strive to be accurate.   My answer: highly agree.  Isn’t being accurate the point?  You’re either accurate … or you’re not.  Being close, in most situations, doesn’t count. You can’t sort of explain policy.  You can’t kind of return a phone call.  You can’t sometimes make sure formulas work.  You either do … or you missed the mark entirely.  Geez Louise.   Yeah, they’ll probably deduce I’m a highly accurate Gladiator!

russell-crowe-in-gladiator-movie

Is. That. Wrong?

3   At our meetings this week we were asked to introduce ourselves, talk a little about our background and offer up a favorite song, movie and book ~ judging ensued and prizes were awarded.  It was a fun way to get to know the new people in the organization and I was proud that my book choice made it to the final round.  If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Canadian Author Margaret Atwood.  Chilling.

google.images.com

google.images.com

4  I had a layover in Chicago O’Hare where I enjoyed people watching, airport shopping and … buying new books. 🙂    It’s funny to me how the items for sale in an airport fall into 4 categories 1) luggage related, 2) I’m bored and ooh that’s so very sparkly, 3) books and 4) food.  That’s pretty much it.   I passed up the bedazzled briefcase on wheels, the designer cologne and scooped up 2 bestsellers.  Yes!

image from theexaminer.com

image from theexaminer.com

5  I always say this but as much as I love to go~ I love to come home even more. My flight was due to land at 10:30 and I still had to grab my car etc so I texted Hubbs to let him know it’d be 11:30 before I got home and not to wait up.  Sweetest response ever, “I’ll wait up. Be safe”   It’s the little things ❤

 

Happy Friday! Are you also excited for Fall’s arrival?   Do personality tests freak you out?  What’s the most interesting thing you’ve bought in an airport?   If you had to list them – what choices would make it to your top song, book and movie? 

 

Categories: Attitude, Family, Fun, Home, Life, Men, Opinion, Personal, Seasons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Random 5 August Friday

It’s that time again! 5 Random thoughts in no particular order … here we go:

1  – For the past 2+ years a sticky note that says “Conf Call” has been stuck on my office door.  I really should play “Conf Call Bingo.”    I could have been a winner many times over!

Conference-call-bingo-card

2  – I doubt I’d ever get a tattoo.  I don’t dislike them and I’m not bothered by others having them.  I just can’t think of one single thing that I want etched into my skin … forever.  Plus – what if it’s a really bad tattoo?  Not like hair color, you can’t change it …  you’re stuck with that.  Thoughts?

10-Pound-Head

No

3 –  8 months ago I eliminated grains. Within 6 weeks I lost 15 lbs (8.5 in the first 2) and 16+” ~ and ~ I’ve held it off despite my crazy work/travel schedule,  moving, company reorganization, Mom’s passing, kid’s wedding, etc.  Now that I’m through all that craziness I’m looking forward to life going back “to normal,” whatever that is.    I am still eating my eggs, healthy fats, meats, veggies and berries.  I’m packing my lunch and declining lunch dates; I prefer my fuel to anything a restaurant is serving.  Talk about a shift change!  Looking back and taking stock I lost:

  • inflammation,
  • skin rashes,
  • fretful sleep
  • wheezing (threw out my DUSTY inhaler),
  • joint pain,
  • chronic respiratory infections,
  • cold sores
  • red/puffy skin 
  • low blood sugar shakes
  • lethargy

I gained:

  • a happy tummy,
  • clear skin (and frequent compliments!)
  • bright eyes,
  • shiny, bouncy hair,
  • energy & vitality
  • a defined jaw line & neck!
  • no blood sugar swings
  • pain-free joints,
  • restorative sleep and
  • the ability to soar through life’s challenges without cold sores!
Me - 8 mos - grain free. an Emjayandthem (C) photo

Me – 8 mos – grain free. an Emjayandthem (C) photo

Want to know more?  Visit Wheatbellyblog.

4 – Currently interviewing to fill an open position.  Candidates who cut to the front of the line and contact me directly (circumventing the HR process)?  Not cool.  I don’t care who you know or how you got my info ~ back to the line you go!

line-cutting-2-final

5  – It’s Friday!  We’re attending a family wedding tomorrow ~ yes we’ll go to the wedding ceremony and we’ll cry when we see the lovely bride peek around the corner. We’ll tear up when we see her Dad & Mom – Hubbs’ cousin – choke up at the sight of baby girl.  They’ll see a tow-headed toddler; we’ll see a beautiful and accomplished young nurse.  We’ll laugh and carry on with the aunts & uncles and cousins over drinks & appetizers at some bar we hit up before the reception starts.  Later we’ll clink glasses and laugh and smile during the reception.  I’ll wear something that twirls and my brown-eyed handsome man will take me for a spin on the dance floor.  At home boxes still wait for us.  Walls are still bare – not a picture in sight. Who cares?  Not me.   Life is meant to be … lived!

dance like no one is watching

 

How about you?  Ever played Conference Call Bingo?  Will you get a tattoo? If so, what?   Made any health changes lately?  What do you think about line-cutters?  And lastly, what’s on the docket for your weekend?

Happy Friday, peeps!

Categories: Beauty, Food, Life, Opinion, Personal, Politics, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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