Quality “ME” Time

What’s your ideal Saturday morning? Are you doing those things this morning? Why not?


Okay, the first thing I have to say here is that I intensely dislike the whole concept of “me time.” I believe it reflects the incredibly self-centered lifestyle  some people have bought into. The social shrinks (and don’t forget, I AM a “shrink”) have convinced some of us that if we don’t take time for ourselves, then we can’t be effective anywhere else–home, work, socially.

The picture in my mind is of  some gym-toned socialite with gilded everything, from hair to teeth to toenails, dressed in ridiculously expensive clothing that she’ll wear only once, as she goes about her daily schedule of telling the nanny how to care for her children  while she runs out to her next appointment to be pampered. 

Okay, so maybe that’s a little harsh.

Our mothers and grandmothers didn’t worry about “me” time. They enjoyed, perhaps, having a few moments of quiet at the beginning or ending of their day. I know that my mom, epecially as she grew older, did not appreciate being interrupted while she was reading her Bible, and everyone knew to leave her alone at that time in her day. But those women were not centered on whether or not they got their ME time. They were centered on whether or not they got the tasks of the day accomplished; whether or not there was going to be enough money for groceries; whether or not there would be time during the week for a sewing project they wanted to do.

There was plenty of socializing in those days. The telephone was invented a long time ago, after all.  There were gatherings of women who just visited together, or worked on a project together.  There were shopping expeditions that I was delighted NOT to be a part of.  I still don’t like to shop. Blech.

I’ve always been able to find time to be alone, if only for a few minutes.  When my kids were all still home and I was working full time as a teacher, I was up at 5 a.m.  The kids didn’t start stirring around until 6.  That gave me time for a quiet cup of coffee and a half hour of Bible  and prayer before I hit the shower and started my busy day.  Was that “me” time?  I suppose.  I just thought of it as my quiet time, the time I needed to get myself settled so I wouldn’t be drop-kicking teenagers into a Minnesota snowbank.

At this stage of my life, my husband is retired. He’s home a LOT.  Sometimes it’s mildly annoying. Sometimes it drives me to complete distraction.  It’s harder for me to find that solitude now.  For instance, I’ve been sitting in the living room working on my laptop, hoping to finish this post before Terry gets up, because he’s a morning chatterbox.

No such luck. He’s up, sitting across from me, chattering about barometric pressure.  He’s fascinated by all things weather, and all I want to know is if it’s EVER going to warm up again in this cold-blitzed winter. Just that fact that I’m complaining about the cold tells you a lot about how cold it’s been.  I don’t think I’ve ever minded it as much as I do this year.

Rabbit trail.  But see, that’s what he does to me, and he doesn’t even have a clue.

Okay, he just left to fix his breakfast.  Maybe I can finish now.

Anyway.  It seems to me that today too many women are more concerned about their mani-pedis and their streaks and highlights, their gym trainers and their abs and obliques, than they are about whether or not our country is going you-know-where in a handbasket.

I’m not against people taking some time to restore, rest, recharge.  I’m going to do that myself in April, taking a week off with two special friends to go soak up some sun and ocean on the Gulf.  I can’t wait!   Thing is, I’ve never done anything like this before, and I’ll be 68 soon.  It has not been a life habit for me to lavish a lot of time on ME.  In spite of that, I think I’m pretty well-adjusted, normal, productive, happy, and happily married.

Even if he is Tigger in the morning, to my Eeyor.

I guess I think the whole topic is kind of silly.  Sorry if that upsets you. I don’t mean to be all judgmental here, I just don’t understand the emphasis on “me time.”  At all.

Oh.  I forgot.  This was supposed to be about Saturdaym mornings.  Truth:  I do exactly as I please on most Saturdays.  I take my sweet time getting up, getting started.  I enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee and I don’t worry too much about normal weekend chores until I feel like getting up and moving. Me time?  I guess so.  I tend to think of it more as a reward for all the years of spending my Saturdays doing the necessary things to make the work-week run smoothly.  Life stages, life changes.


Swan Song

You have the chance to write one last post on your blog before you stop blogging forever. Write it.


This blog.  I started this blog to improve my writing skills; to provide, possibly, some entertainment; to dip my toe in the waters of writing some fiction or some pieces from real life, my life.  I did not aniticipate the warm and encouraging support of others who are doing the same thing.  I didn’t know I would make friends I may never see, but whose presence is a daily encouragement. I didn’t know the writing would range over such a wide variety of topics. I didn’t know how much I would look forward to reading what so many others have written, just to see how they addressed a certain prompt in so many different ways.

I didn’t expect to be so amazed at the giftedness of so many other bloggers.  I didn’t know I would wonder why they aren’t published and selling like hotcakes. 

I hoped my words would be well-received and meaningful to at least a few; I never expected the avalanche of response. I expected some critical negative comments. There have been only two in the close to a year since I started this blog. One was a very angry response to my own criticism of the author’s foul and unneccesary language. I never read his posts now, and I’m sure he doesn’t read mine.  He thought I was objecting to his freedom of expression, and he protected it in vulgar terms. I told him I have great respect for his freedom to speak. I only objected to his really awful use of God’s Name in doing so.

The other was a personal attack,  from people I know.  I figured out how to block them. Cybertrolls don’t have to be tolerated.

Those are the only two negatives in a sea of positive, affirming, encouraging, supportive comments.

So, in this my (fictionally) final post, more than anything else I want to thank all of you who have traveled the path with me, who have encouraged me and assured me that I’m doing okay.  I want you to know that your support has helped spur me into getting serious about writing for publication.

I’ll let you know when that first book comes to fruition.

Thank you.


No Fear!

Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?


I either lead a very dull life, or I just don’t remember much. Or my nerves are so settled that nothing puts me into that kind of fear or dread any more.

Okay, I guess  I can think of something, although it was a very positive nervousness.  As each of my four pregnancies drew to an end, I truly did become very nervous and apprehensive about the delivery. Not that I ever had any problems; each of my pregnancies was relatively trouble-free, and the deliveries were normal.

I’m not one of those silly women who love to talk about how they nearly died with all fifteen babies 🙂

I was actually less apprehensive with the first one.  You don’t really know what you’re in for until you’ve been through it, and I found I was much more nervous about the second baby than I had been about the first.  My nerves were somewhat justified. The second delivery was more difficult. And the third, because he was a big guy.  The fourth, our daughter, was the fastest and the least difficult. 

Looking back, though, I have to be thankful for how normal it all was for me.  No emergencies, no C-sections, no troubles with the health or well-being of any of our babies.  No lasting ill effects from the pregnancies or deliveries.  I’ve never had a miscarriage.  After all, God made our bodies to accommodate pregnancy, and most of the time everything goes just as it should. My heart is always heavy for those who don’t find it as normal as I did, and especially for those who lose a baby at some point in the pregnancy.  I have a young friend who has three babies in heaven.  It’s hard to lose a baby, heartbreaking and painful.

So that’s it, really.  There are probably other stories, but they’re just not coming to the surface for me.


Three Shots

Take a subject you’re familiar with and imagine it as three photos in a sequence. Tackle the subject by describing those three shots.


First Shot:  The new client looks up from her iPhone as I come down the stairs.  The expression on her face is apprehensive, shut-down, and scared. Her eyes are shadowed.  There is no smile. As I speak her name, she gathers up her things. I extend my hand, introducing myself, and invite her up to my office.  She follows, saying nothing. I’m already pretty sure I know what her story is.

Second Shot: I’ve gone through the preliminaries, started my paperwork, done my best to make her comfortable. Chit-chat about the weather, her cute shoes, anything to put her more at ease. She sits perched on the very edge of the sofa, in the farthest corner away from me, rigid.

Third Shot: She has told me an abbreviated version of the purpose of her visit.  I’m picking up cues from her body language, her downward glances when she’s avoiding the real truth, her rigid posture on the edge of the sofa as if she’s poised to run.  When she finally stops talking and looks up at me, I say to her, “Who molested you?  Was it a family member?”  The third picture is of her astonished face, tears welling and pouring down her cheeks, her body caving inward as she absorbs the fact that I’ve seen through her words to the truth in such a short period of time.

I wish there were a fourth, fifth and sixth shot.  They would show her beginning the long, difficult process of healing, of accepting that what happened to her was monstrous and ugly and changed her forever; that it was NOT her fault, no matter what her abuser told her; that she CAN rid herself of the guilt (false) and fear (overwhelming) that she will turn around and molest her own child, that she is somehow evil because of what was done to her.

And the final shot would be of her strong, look-you-right-in the-eye face several months later as she puts her shoulders back, smiles, and walks out of my office for the last time with a spring in her step and a determination that she will live a normal life, free of the evil that her molester introduced into her heart when she was too little to defend herself.

She is a survior. She is a champion.


Never Alone

When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely?


When we were  first married, 45 years ago, Terry was in the Army Reserves. He had to do a two-week summer Annual Training every year, and he’d already done that before we were married in June.  So I didn’t have to face his leaving for two weeks until the following summer. I dreaded it with everything in me. As the time approached, my dread of his being gone for two weeks increased.  Maybe it was because we lived in a rented half of a house that belonged to a woman who had a very weird and scary son.  Maybe because I was about seven months along with our first child.  Maybe because I was far enough away from my parents that it took a planned-ahead trip.  Really, it was probably less than half an hour, but I was an inexperienced driver, and I dreaded the trip.

Maybe it was because we lived only 1 1/2 miles from Stillwater State Prison in Minnesota.  You think?

Well, clearly, I survived it.  I survived many other summer AT’s as well, because he stayed in the Reserves over 20 years. And four babies came along to keep me busy and occupied.  The circle of friends grew over time, in spite of moving across country where we had no family or friends whatsoever. In spite of all that, I don’t remember ever feeling lonely again.

And truly, because of my faith in Christ, I am never alone.  I always have prayer, I always have the Word to sustain me.

These days, I find myself craving time to just be alone.  I treasure the moments when there’s no one else in the house but me.  No demands, no interruptions.  I can play music loud if I want, and some music just NEEDS to be played at full volume.  I can read, write, watch a TV program no one else enjoys.  These are treasured times.

It’s funny how life changes, and how we change with life.  Being alone was not something I treasured when I had it in my younger years.  The days could get pretty long from the time Terry left in the morning until he came home for supper. I remember feeling much at loose ends in those early days, having just finished a hectic year of college and wedding preparations and then suddenly, after “I Do,” finding myself with free time on my hands.

What I wouldn’t give for that kind of time today.

Well. That’s it for today, I guess.  This prompt has put me in somewhat of a ruminating mood, and that usually doesn’t lead to anywhere good.  Time to finish getting ready for work and  go out in this ridiculous sub-zero weather.  I sure hope someone turned up the heat at the office!


Christmas in Pennsylvania

Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from as though it’s an entry in a travel guide.


There is something very special about Christmas in southeastern Pennsylvania.  So many old stone houses still stand, and many have been beautifully restored. During the Christmas season especially, you will see these stately old homes lit from the inside with a candle in every window. Often, they are also

adorned with  green wreaths and red bows, and swags of red from window to window and over the doors. A drive through the countryside of Bucks or Montgomery County will certainly put you in the Christmas spirit.

Another feature of Christmas decorating, especially in the towns and cities, is the luminaria that line the sidewalks. Paper bags filled with sand, with a candle glowing inside, make it easy for carolers and visitors to walk from place to place. 

Of course, the city of Bethlehem is a continual delight during the Christmas season. There is so much to see and enjoy.  We particularly enjoy the Love Feast at the Moravian Church on Christmas Eve, where the music is wonderful and the atmosphere takes you back to 1700 or so.  Each visitor enjoys a cup of hot chocolate and a delicious sugar cookie while the service is observed.  It’s truly a heartwarming experience.

And then there is the Putz. It is hard to describe this intricate, detailed rendering of the events of the birth of Jesus Christ. On a wide stage, the panorama of these events is recreated with figures, backgrounds and lighting that make you feel you were actually there.  Children love the Putz. The word is pronounced like puts, and is a Yiddish word that is literally ornament, finery, probably noun derivative of putsn to clean, shine; compare early modern German butzen to decorate.


Lovely Lavender

You’re given a plot of land and have the financial resources to do what you please. What’s the plan?
Do I get to decide how big this plot of land is, and where it’s located?  Yes?  Okay, that makes it fairly easy.
I would locate my land in a place where lavender grows well.  There could be other aromatic flowers and plants, but the main emphasis would be lavender. Then I would build whatever facilities needed for the processing of the lavender in a variety of ways: dried, distilled into essential oils, perfumes, and so on.  There would be a shop for people to come and learn about all the wonderful properties of lavender, from soothing sleep aid to mosquito repellent to headache relief and so much more. So many products–lotions, oils, sprays, creams, shampoos, soaps.  I would of course need to hire people to tend the fields, to do research, to process , bottle, box, and otherwise package the products.  Maybe I would even set up a therapeutic massage clinic where my son could treat people with sweet-smelling oils and lotions during their massages.  Don’t really care for the scent of lavender?  That’s ok, that’s what the other aromatics are for.
I know there are lavender fields in France. Maybe that’s where I would go to set up my place.
If you’re interested,  you can learn more about lavender here.
PS–if you do go to the link, don’t bother reading the comments. Most of them are fine, but there are always some spoilers.