Alone is not Always Lonely


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Being alone is not necessarily the same as being lonely. Solitude, when it is voluntary, is a good and healthy thing that allows us to decompress, relax, think, sleep, read, dream, without interruption. I crave solitude, because I spend my work week with people who need my counsel.  My husband is retired, so is home almost 24/7.  I love him with all my heart, but sometimes I just need to be alone.

But when solitude is used as discipline,  or coercion, or torture–then it is a thing to be dreaded.  I may have sent a child to his room for a short period of time, but never endlessly. Funny thing about my kids–they all seemed to enjoy their solitude. Maybe that’s because there were four of them, and solitude could be hard to find.

Jesus looked for solitude. He had His disciples row their boat to the opposite side of the lake so He could be alone for a while, to rest and restore His strength. He spent time praying alone with the Father. We can take a lesson from that.  Often, spiritual pursuits require solitude.

Some people don’t want to ever be alone. They are almost frantic with the need to have others around them, and will go to great lengths to find companionship.  I believe every child needs to learn to appreciate solitude. He needs to be comfortable with his own brain, his own thoughts, his own activities. It builds strength to be able to be alone and to like it.

Other people avoid companionship, much preferring their own company and going to great lengths to be alone.

Isn’t it interesting how different we all are?  The important thing is to look for balance. Be alone, and be content. Be with people, and be content.

Kind of rambling today. So many pictures popped into my mind when I saw the prompt, and I could write for a long time about all of them.  But I have to go to work, so I’m done.


All the World’s a Stage


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Masks.  We all wear them. Sometimes we know we’re wearing them, sometimes the habit has become so strong that we don’t even think about it. We get  up, comb our hair, brush our teeth, and put on our masks.

What my clients will see today:

venetian masks are a centuries old tradition of venice italy the masks ...

What my husband saw when I got up:

I had a rough night.  I was awake for a couple of hours between 3 and 5 a.m., and up at 6.  I don’t like morning at the best of times.  I really don’t like it when I haven’t slept well, when I’m still coughing up gunk from allergies or whatever, when my back is still achey in spite of the pain shots, when I want a donut filled with jelly and have a healthy mini-bagel instead.

I don’t want to go to work this morning, but I will.  And my clients will not know that I was a mess at home, and that Terry wisely retreated back to bed to give me the time and space to get my happy face on.  He knows I need time with my Bible on any morning. On a morning like this, I need it even more.

So.  I’ll put my happy mask on, and maybe as the day progresses it will become less of a lie and more of a reality. That does happen.  And until the transformation happens, I will act the part and do my best to help the people who come to me today.

And just think how scary life would be if we didn’t all wear masks.

Fat Road or Skinny Street


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I am so tempted to write about politics. This prompt couldn’t be more appropriate. Today is Primary Day in Pennsylvania, and I just got back from voting. And by the way, in the 50 or so years I’ve been voting, I don’t remember an uglier or more acrimonious primary season.  Here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, we could use a bit more common courtesy.

However, I’m in no mood to start an ugly controversy, so I think I’ll go in a different, more personal direction.

, Not That! talks about the habits skinny people utilize to stay thin ...

I am at a crossroads.  I can continue to sloooooooowly lose the weight that has accompanied most of my adult life.  I’ve lost 17 pounds to date, which is minimal compared to what I need to lose.  It’s taken me a very long time. Part of the reason for that is that my back went wonky on me again, and I haven’t been able to exercise.  I’ll be back in the pool on Friday, I hope. The winter has  been very hard on me. I’ve gone from one upper respiratory infection to another, feeling just miserable a lot of the time. And now, in this utterly beautiful season with all the flowering trees and grass growing like crazy, my allergies are really kicking up.  I sound like Jeremiah the Bullfrog. Croak, croak. I’m not sick, so I can only assume it must be allergies.

OR.  Or, I can keep nibbling away (probably not the best word-choice) as I have been, counting carbs and  getting back into an exercise routine to help burn the blubber.

Well, you may say, that’s not so hard.  Just Do It!

If you think that, you haven’t been paying attention. This is not my first go-round with fat, and I’m sure it will plague me to my coffin.  In heaven, I want a size 0 robe!

So what are my excuses?

  1.  My gene pool.  Ask any of my cousins.  They’ll tell you.
  2.  My slow metabolism.  I’ve tried every “speed-it-up” diet out there, and I say NO MORE!
  3. My distaste for physical activity that makes me sweat and hurt. I know, I know. No pain, no gain. You enjoy yourself if that’s what rings your bell.  I’ll swim.  It’s better for my back, anyway.
  4. My height.  Or lack thereof.  I’m not overweight.  I’m underheight.  Not even five feet tall these days.  I used to be 5′ 1.25″  and now I can claim a full 4’11.”  It’s just wrong.

And if you don’t think it’s a pain to be so short, just try buying pantyhose that fit a short, heavy woman with stumps for legs.  Yeah. Don’t even talk to me about “short and cute.”  I’d rather be tall and dignified and not have my pantyhose make my legs look like the saggy baggy elephant.

Please don’t respond with all the cool places you’ve found pantyhose that fit. I have found a good source.  Finally.

Anyway, at this point I’m choosing to stay in the battle.  I got my A1C results back down into the 6 range. Those of you who battle Type II diabetes know what that’s all about. My doctor is happy with that.  So am I.  It’s a validation of my change of diet, even though the weight isn’t coming off the way I’d like.

So.  There’s my personal angst. My personal crossroad.  My personal choice. Even if I never lose another pound, I know I’m eating better, and I can be okay with that.  I think.

By the way, did you know that Atkins is making these wonderful little dark chocolate pieces about one inch square, filled with either raspberry or fudge?  Really good, and they satisfy my sweet tooth without piling on the carbs.  Nice.



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I’m really late today, and I have an excellent excuse.  I slept until 10 a.m. because I decided to.

I’ve reached the delightful stage of life in which, when I’m not working, I can sleep as long as I please.  Now, normally I wouldn’t be able to stay asleep that long, but I took some meds last night that guaranteed me a solid, long-lasting sleep.  Except, of course, for the nightly stumbles anyone my age makes to the bathroom at least once per night. (Shhh. Whisper that sentence.  It’s impolite to refer to personal hygiene in public. At least, that’s what I was taught.)

Have you noticed that a lot of things that used to be said in a whisper are now  shouted from the rooftops?

I remember when people whispered, “She has cancer,” as if it were a character defect.

There are parts of one’s anatomy that, if they had to be mentioned, were done so euphemistically or in a whisper. Not any more.  There just don’t seem to be any  body parts that aren’t up for general conversation these days.

Not in my house. I think it’s embarrassing, and probably needs to be mentioned only to a doctor. I don’t want to know about your private plumbing.  Not even in a whisper.

Of course, anything that had to do with (whisper) sex was also said covertly.  I probably should state here that I do not believe there’s anything dirty or inappropriate about married sex.  I just don’t want to talk about it with you unless we’re doing so in my capacity as a therapist, and that isn’t particularly comfortable for me. Sometimes I have to do it, but I’d rather not.

And then there is the other side of whispering–the side I despise.

 Any time I see someone whispering something in someone else’s ear, in company where other people are thereby excluded from the conversation but have to observe that there’s a secret being shared, I’m tempted to do what I did now and then as a teacher. “Susie/Johnny, would you like to share your secret with the rest of us?  No?  Then don’t be so rude as to whisper it. If you don’t want to share it publicly, don’t say it in a public place.”

Seems to me that whispering secrets in a public setting is just rude and inconsiderate. In my experience, it’s almost always gossipy and mean. It doesn’t need to be said.

And now I think I’ll go find a late lunch.

I’m Glad I’m not a Martian :)


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Especially in the spring and fall, I love God’s wonderful creation so much!  I wake up each day and enjoy the incredible beauty of our corner of Pennsylvania.  Right now, flowering trees have center stage. There are still some daffodils, which will soon give way to tulips, and then azaleas and dogwoods before the lushness of summer sets in.

We have all this beauty because of our enviable position among the planets. Our distance from the sun is just right, and provides us with water, clouds, rain and snow, comfortable temperatures most of the time.  In other words, everything that is needed for life and beauty.

Mars has always fascinated us earthlings, providing rich material for fantasy and science fiction, never mind space exploration. However, what we know of Mars makes me very glad to live right here on our beautiful blue planet.  Think of a place where water is, as far as we know, scarcer than hen’s teeth. Where the heat and cold are not fit for human consumption.  No, thanks.  I’ll stay here,  very happily.



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She sat on the very edge of  the couch, her knees clamped together, arms crossed, hands clenched,  neck tense and chin tucked against her collar.  Her eyes made me think of the old “deer-in-the-headlights” description of paralyzed fear.

Her husband took his place dead center, legs spread, arms stretched across the back of the sofa. His face telegraphed his complete confidence that he was the winner, always. He looked at me with clear challenge in his eyes. A big man, but not fat, he seemed to suck all the air out of the room.

“So, whichever one of you is going to get us started, I’d like you to tell me why you’re here today,” I said. It was my usual opening statement.  As I had guessed, he jumped right in, giving her a quick “I’m in charge” glance.

“My wife (he said it with such an air of ownership) thinks we need counseling.  I told her I’d come today to help you set her straight. We don’t need counseling. She just needs to submit to my authority and quit trying to undermine me, and everything will be fine.”

She was tiny, maybe five feet tall, maybe 100 pounds.  Delicate bones, elegant facial features, she was a beauty–except that she was locked up with fear.  Everything about her  screamed out for help.

“Okay, Melissa, what would you like to say?” I asked.

“She doesn’t have to say anything.  She knows I’m right. I preach to her every day right from the Bible about how I’m the boss and she just needs to obey me.”

By this time, I was doing a slow simmer that I struggled to keep  from showing. This was not the first time I’d met with a couple like they were.  Wife scared, locked down tight, and near tears.  Husband asserting what he saw as his God-given right to be a jerk.  Excuse me. To be an authority.

“So let me understand, Eric. You’re the boss, and she’s your–what–servant?  Employee? Child?  What are her biblically-given responsibilities?”

“Same as any married woman.  You married?  Then you ought to know.”

“Why don’t you tell me, from your own viewpoint, what you mean?”

“Respect. Obedience. Follow orders.  Do as she’s told. Don’t buck me. Don’t question my authority, or there will be consequences.”

“Really.  What kind of consequences,Eric?”

“If she’s going to act like a child, she gets treated like a child. I lock her in the bedroom. She can come out when she apologizes and promises to behave.”

“Hmmm.  And how long will you keep her in there if she doesn’t give in to you?”

Melissa now had fat tears rolling down her cheeks. She blushed fiercely, and I knew the answer to my question. But I waited.

“I take care of business after a day goes by. She knows what she’s going to get, and I give it to her.  I wouldn’t have to if she would just do what she’s supposed to do.”

“Melissa, do you agree with this kind of treatment? Are you living this way willingly?”

“She doesn’t get a say. She’s not the boss.  I make the rules, she follows them.”

Well.  I won’t tell you the rest of that session because it’s so predictable.  Several months later, Melissa came back alone.  She looked worn, tired, and had a big fading bruise around one eye.

“I’ve left him.  I’m in a safe house.  He doesn’t know where I am.  What do I do next? I’m sick of being locked up in my own house, hit, yelled at. I’m done. Help me. What do I do next?”

And it was my privilege to help this beautiful young woman unlock all the chains and set her free from a man who had no idea what the Bible says about the way a man is supposed to love his wife. She’s doing fine now.

I don’t know how he’s doing.

The Fog


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That poet–Sandberg, right? –who wrote “The fog crept in on little cat’s feet” had never dealt with this kind of fog!  More like a whole herd of buffalo roaring across the prairie.

Thick, so dark it was almost black, and wet. Yucky stuff. This kind of fog?  There was nothing romantic about it. Nothing poetic. It might be good for a horror story, but as Ava navigated her old clunker of a car through the stuff, she couldn’t allow herself to think about horror.  If she did, she’d just lose her mind and start screaming.

Her hands were wrapped so tightly around the steering wheel that her fingers were starting to cramp. She took a deep breath and tried to relax. According to her directions, it was only a couple of miles more to  her destination.

She should be able to handle that.  Should. She was an experienced driver, and she was no stranger to the fog that could fill the Pennsylvania countryside.  Where there was water meeting warmer air, there was fog.

She followed Route 663 toward Quakertown, knowing she was coming to the part of the road that dipped down into a valley.  Deep Run Road.  Good name for it. There were other cars now and then, their headlights shrouded by the fog. They all moved slowly in this stuff, thank goodness.  Ava had her windshield wipers on, but they weren’t doing a lot of good.

She knew there was water on both sides of the road.  Normally it didn’t bother her at all, but with such limited visibility, she was a bundle of nerves at the idea of driving too close to the shoulder and finding herself taking an unexpected swim. She tried to think ahead about everything she’d heard concerning getting out of a car that was in the water. As she neared the lowest point of the road, she put her driver’s side window down and made sure the door was unlocked. Feeling as prepared as she could be, she glanced into her rear view mirror and was shocked to see headlights bearing down on her little car from what seemed like a gigantic truck.

There was nowhere to go to avoid the collision she knew was coming, because the truck wasn’t slowing down at all as it barreled down the hill. Ava’s heart pounded in her throat, and her sweaty hands slipped on the steering wheel.  She tried to move over to the shoulder of the road, hoping to avoid the truck and give it room to move around her.

She felt her right front wheel slip off the narrow, crumbly shoulder. The steering wheel jerked out of control, and the car was no longer on the road. It was flying, and she knew the landing strip was cold and deep.

She heard the blare of a horn, the screech of brakes, and then nothing. Not even the splash as the car hit the water. Unhurt but terrified, she took  a deep breath and went head-first out the window.

The water was frigid.  Didn’t matter.  Had to get out, had to get out. Shoulders were through, then her hips and legs.  She felt a shoe come off.  Didn’t matter. Becoming frantic, she pushed upward.  When her head broke the surface, she gasped for air before she went back under, but this time she was ready, and managed to get her head above the water quickly.

Disoriented, she looked to where she thought the road was and saw–thank God!–the flashing blue and red lights of a police cruiser. “Help!” she screamed. “Help me!  I’m here!  Please help me!”

She didn’t remember much after that. She was thankful for the cup of hot coffee, for the blanket someone wrapped around her, for the heated interior of the police car.

And she was thankful for the trucker who’d had the presence of mind to call for help  when her car took flight. He was there, shaken and remorseful. Couldn’t apologize enough. His brakes had failed, and it was only because of the steep hill ahead that he was able to bring his rig to a stop.

It looked like she was going to be a little late for her appointment.

Who Knew?


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Amelia narrowed her eyes, concentrating on the person who smiled at her so broadly. She didn’t know him, had never seen him before as far as she remembered.

Something was off. She had that spidey-sense reaction in her stomach that she always trusted. She nearly turned her back to him, but decided she wanted to be able to see him instead.

Normal-looking guy, really.  Dark hair with just a bit of wave.  Eyes so brown they were nearly black. Laugh crinkles around his eyes, but smooth skin other than that.  She put him at youngish 30’s.  Good shoulders, muscular arms obvious in the tee he wore with his well-worn jeans. Nothing to set him apart or make her nervous–but she was nervous.

She held on to the post in the subway car, leaning easily with every jolt, twist, and turn. One hand on the support post, the other hand on the purse whose straps crossed her body. She took a quick mental inventory of her outfit, finding nothing revealing that would attract unwanted attention. She was fit and trim, but she didn’t display herself.

She glanced back up at him, and he was still looking at her, still smiling.  Maybe he was a walking ad for some dental office, his teeth were so perfect.  Irritated, she looked away and made up her mind not to look at him again.

The train stopped.  People got off, more got on. The man moved a couple of steps closer to her, now resting his hand on the same post she was using.  Good grief.

Unable to resist, she looked again. This time he winked, smiling that perfect smile. She felt like slugging him.

Five more minutes to her stop.  Each second seemed like an hour. Then, startling her completely, he spoke.

“You don’t need to be nervous about me.  I’m not a creep.  It’s clear you don’t remember me, but I remember you very well.  Amelia, right?”

She was stunned, angry, afraid, curious.  People, complete strangers, just didn’t converse on the subway.  Especially, not with such familiarity.

“Okay, I can see I’ve upset you. Let me explain. We were both in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. I thought you were pretty.  Then your name was called and you left me sitting there wishing I’d asked for your name. But I never forgot, and I’ve been hoping to see you again for six months–and here we are!  Don’t you think that’s more than coincidence?”

“I think you’re a fake!  That’s the dumbest pickup line I’ve ever heard.  Leave me alone.”

Amelia turned so her shoulder was aimed at him and stared stonily at nothing, hoping he would just shut up. No such luck.

“Look, you can call your dentist.  Ask if Steve Maginelli is a patient there.  The only thing fake about me is my two front teeth. They got knocked out in a football game.  Please. Do that, and you’ll find out I’m not a phony. Come on.”

The train stopped, and she nearly tripped in her rush to get out of there.

Her curiosity got the best of her, though, and the next day she called her dentist.

Steve was a client.  His teeth were false. His last appointment had been the same day as her last appointment. The receptionist thought he was a real catch. Nice guy. Genuine.

She got his number, called him, and they made a date for coffee.

Not fake. A really good guy. Who knew?



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Many years ago, I was watching an Alfred Hitchcock  program in which a woman opens a closet door and a dead body falls out on top of her.  Never have forgotten that image.

Way before I saw that program, though, I remember believing quite sincerely that there were monsters in the closet.  And under the bed. And in the hallway to the bathroom from the bedroom.  These monsters magically disappeared in daylight, but they always, always came back in the dark.

Closets weren’t always scary places, though.  Sometimes I hid in a closet just because I wanted to be alone.   Sometimes I’d tear my bedroom closet apart because it needed to be cleaned, and I’d find treasures I’d forgotten.  Sometimes, if unexpected company showed up, lots of things got stuffed into closets. That didn’t happen often, because I really am pretty neat, but still–nice to know closets are there when you need them.

My parents’ bedroom closet was off limits from Thanksgiving to Christmas. One year, I did the unforgivable.  I looked.

It ruined Christmas day for me, although I acted surprised.  I never did it again.  Not worth it.  Not worth the guilt, or the chance of being discovered.

Sometimes I wish I had a closet that would be just big enough for my computer, a small desk, and a chair.  A closet I could lock. I’d get more writing done.

Terry just created a broom closet for me out of cabinets leftover from our kitchen makeover. He’s really a genius!  The closet is the perfect size for my brooms, mops, dustpan, and various other cleaning equipment.  So tidy and handy.  I really love it.

The word closet has so many applications, doesn’t it?  I thought about writing something scary, but I’m just not in the mood, so you got miscellany instead 🙂

Oh Goodie!


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I love words.

This is one of those English words that has multiple meanings.  It is also a good example of onomotopoeia–that’s a fancy term for when the word sounds like what it means.

Remember Snap!Crackle! Pop! Rice Krsipies?

We snap our fingers, we snap the lights off or on. We snap and unsnap clothing. We say “Snap it up!” when we want someone to hurry. We say an outfit looks snappy.  We say “it’s a snap!” when we mean it’s easy.  When we’re angry, we may snap someone’s head off. Well, not really 🙂  Food that is tangy has a snappy taste.  Even Google uses the word when something goes wrong–“Oh, snap!  That site seems to be broken.” If it’s cold outside, we say the air has a snap to it. If your bone snaps, it’s probably broken.  You don’t want a bird to come along, like in the old nursery rhyme, and snap off your nose.

I could go on for a while, but I won’t. Enough is enough 🙂