Yes, I Can be Fierce!


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The word immediately brings to mind a lion, strong and aggressive, graceful and terrifying at the same time.

          Or an angry pit bull. Or a mother protecting her child.

Hunger can make a person fierce. Anger. Fear. Threat or danger to a loved one. Evil lurking, waiting for the opportunity to attack.

I had a client who told me I was like a pit bull in defending her against injustice. Someone else told my supervisor, “She’s like a ferocious little dog, always attacking.” This was a man who liked to knock his wife around and leave her bruised and bleeding, helpless to defend herself. You bet I’m going to go on the attack.  What a jerk. My supervisor supported and defended me.  That’s a very good thing.

Someone told me once that I was being a mamma bear, defending one of my kids.  That didn’t come out of me very often.  I did my best to let them fight their own battles. In this situation, though, my son was completely without any ability to fight back against an outrageous injustice.  Yes, I went to his defense.  You betcha.  And I’d do it again.

Sometimes we need to be fierce.  I’m fiercely patriotic. Don’t tell me America is the worst terrorist nation in the world, as I heard some very young and arrogant college students claim in a radio interview.  I will school you in the true history of this country without any hesitation. America is not perfect, and has committed terrible wrong at times. But there is no other country in the world that gives us the freedoms that we enjoy here, and that is so quick to reach out to aid other countries in times of need. I love America.

I am fierce about contending for my faith. I’m sick of hearing Christianity painted as the root of all evil in the world.

I just deleted an entire paragraph. I want to be careful.

Okay, I just deleted two more paragraphs.

I’m fierce about a situation I’m dealing with in my counseling office right now that is causing untold hurt and pain to many people, and the man involved is pointing his finger at professing Christians who can’t approve and support the sin. They’re not loving. They’re not kind.

Yeah, I’m pretty fierce about being told by the people who are guilty of wrongdoing that everyone else is guilty of terrible behavior. Gets my dander up.

Fierce. Wow, this prompt has taken me in a direction I wasn’t planning on. Made me feel fierce.


What is Vice?


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I was just learning to read, just starting to build a vocabulary.  I knew what a President was, because I remember the election of Dwight Eisenhower. Everyone wore big pins saying  “I Like Ike.”  He was the President, the leader of my country, the country my dad had helped fight for in World War II, the general who had been so important in D-Day.

So, then we got a vice-president.  I just figured if one guy was President of the country, then the other guy must be President of Vice.

What I remember about saying this to my dad is that he got that all-over-his-face grin that happened when he thought something was really funny.  He asked me, “So, Linda, what do you think vice is?”


I shrugged. “I don’t know.  It must be important, though, if we need a President for it.”

Innocence is a wonderful thing.

Master of None


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“Jack of all trades, master of none.”  That’s the way a lot of us feel. There are many things we know how to do, and some of them we do very well.


But to be an expert at any one thing puts you on a plane above the average.  It implies years of study and practice. It often means you have honed your expertise to the misfortune of your family and friends, because whatever your expertise is consumed you.

I know how to do a lot of things, but I don’t know if I rise to the leverl of expertise.

I’ll tell you one way for you to know you’re very good, maybe even an expert, in any field:  Others will recognize your expertise, and will tell you.  You don’t have to advertise it yourself 🙂

Cassie’s Mistake


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“Mommy, I think I made a mistake,” whispered five-year-old Cassie.

“Oh?  What mistake did you make, Sweetheart?”

“Well, I think I made the dog throw up.”  Cassie’s eyes were big round saucers, meltingly blue in an angelic face surrounded by golden ringlets.


“Really.”  Cassie could tell by Mommy’s voice that she wasn’t happy. “And how did you manage to do that?”

“Well, see, I finded–found–this poor dead birdie under the tree in the back yard, and I showed it to Pooch. I, um, picked up the bird by the wing and threw it, and I think I said ‘go fetch.”  And maybe that was a mistake, ’cause Pooch didn’t fetch. He ran and picked up the bird and he, um, ate it.  All up.”

“Where did Pooch throw up the bird, Cassie?”  Mommy’s eyes had that “you’re in trouble, young lady,” look in them. Cassie took a deep breath and said, “Um, I think–maybe in the living room?  On the couch?”

Mommy stood very still. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and said, “Come with me.  You’re going to help clean this up. Then we’ll talk about what your punishment is going to be. You didn’t make a ‘mistake,’ Cassie, and you know it.  You deliberately disobeyed. You know you’re never to feed Pooch anything–“

“But Mommy, I didn’t feed it to him, I just threw it–“

“Don’t interrupt me.  That’s also disobedient.  You know very well that Pooch eats things out in the yard that will make him sick. You knew when you told him to fetch that nasty dead bird that he would probably eat it.  Didn’t you?”

By now, fat tears were leaking from those melting eyes down the angelic rosy cheeks. Cassie nodded her head. “Yes, I knew.  I just sort of forgot. Are you mad at me, Mommy?”

“Yes, Cassie.  I’m very mad at you.”  Mommy had taken a scrub brush, some rags and soapy water, and a can of disinfectant spray to the living room.  Cassie had been tasked with carrying and holding the trash bag, and she had to watch Mommy clean up the disgusting mess and scoop it into the bag. Then Mommy gave her the brush and told her, “You’ll scrub until I tell you to stop.”

So Cassie scrubbed. She had to scrub the whole cushion, and it seemed to take a very long time. Finally Mommy said she could stop. They put the bag in the trash, put away everything else, and Mommy told Cassie she was to stay in her room the rest of the afternoon until supper.

“Cassie, you know you didn’t just make a mistake. A mistake is something you do accidentally, like dropping your fork on the floor at supper. What you did was wrong, and it was disobedient and disrespectful.You made poor Pooch sick, and you created extra work for me. You need to think about that. You can’t make the excuse that you made a mistake when the truth is that you chose purposely to disobey. Do you understand me?”

“Yes.” Cassie was very subdued by this time, knowing her Mommy was right. Sometimes it was just so hard to be good!

It’s All in Your Perspective


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Here’s something I’m learning every day as I work in my counseling office:  If  you ask three people who witnessed the same event, you will get three different accounts. 

That’s why, in the Old Testament, it was required that a man could not be convicted by the testimony of just one person. It had to be two or more.Even then, if their account differed, it was highly questionable.

Why is that?  It’s because we see things from our own perspective.  A woman sees her marriage from one perspective; a man from his own perspective, which can be miles apart from hers.  The trick I have to perform is to help them see the truth in the middle.

Your perspective is your reality.  If you can’t or won’t allow for anyone else’s perspective, you’re going to be a very lonely person.

Don’t Emphasize the Obvious


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I saw an attractive woman the other day. She was quite heavy, but she knew how to dress to not draw attention to the obvious.  I admire that. Since I’m quite heavy myself, I’ve had to learn to do the same. You don’t wear anything tight. You don’t wear sheer unless it has something solid underneath.  You don’t wear horizontal stripes around your heaviest part. You don’t wear skirts, dresses, or shorts that are way TOO short. You learn to conceal what you can; you learn to draw attention to your face instead of your waistline, or whatever your biggest body part may be.

I always dread summer a little, because people tend to just barely avoid public indecency. You see way too much flesh, most of it completely unattractive.  The other day there was a grossly  huge man in the produce department of our Walmart. He was wearing a wife-beater, ugly in and of itself, and his extremely hairy armpits were on full display.  Ugh.  I decided I didn’t need any produce.

 See, this is just icky:

But here’s a big woman who knows how to dress:

You can still have fun with your clothes, still wear something other than black, still take the time to emphasize your best features, without emphasizing your big belly.  I don’t wear sleeveless things any more, though, like the model above. Two reasons:  I’m old, so my arms are less than gorgeous and I have granny flaps; and I had bad acne as a teen, and there are scars on my arms, back, and shoulders. Better not to expose all that.  What people don’t know won’t hurt me 🙂

I generally dress simply for the office, nothing tight, short or revealing, comfortable, and designed not to emphasize the obvious.  It’s a good rule of thumb for anyone, right?

This is a P.S.  I was going to mention the importance of knowing your color palette, and then I forgot.   You can learn all about this on a zillion web sites.  I first learned it when I read Color Me Beautiful, can’t remember the author.  Anyway, I’m a winter. Fair skin, very dark brown eyes, blue skin undertones, hair that was blonde when I was little but darkened to a very dark brown before it started going grey on me.  I wear true, pure white; black; navy blue,true red, lemon yellow, a range of pink ranging from hot pink to icy pink, several blue shades, emerald green, and so on.  Once you know your colors, shopping is a breeze. And wearing the colors that are right for you will also help you to camouflage the obvious 🙂 The right colors will definitely draw more attention to your face.


I enlarged this, so it’s a little fuzzy, but I wanted you to see the variety of skin shades that fit into the winter palette.  The one most like mine is on the bottom.  I think that’s somebody famous, can’t remember who, and I’m just talking about color here, not facial features.

A Family Story


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Our daughter, our youngest child, had three older brothers and a father who loved to torment her. Silly things, like telling her that deer tracks in the woods were actually buffalo.  She was only six when they told her that. She believed them.

There were other things, and gradually she grew to look at all of them with a very skeptical eye.  I don’t blame her.  Of course I was never guilty of any of that nonsense.

One day, when she was a very young teen, Terry and I were driving home from somewhere. Ahead of us was a pickup truck, and standing in the front seat beside the driver was a tiny little horse, about the size  of a big dog.  I couldn’t believe my eyes at first, but when I told Terry what I was seeing, he put the pedal down until we were close enough to be sure.  Yup.  There it was.  A miniature horse.  First one I’d ever seen, and you just don’t expect to find them riding along beside the driver of a pickup.

We followed the pickup until it turned off into what was clearly a little horse ranch.  Literally, a ranch for little horses.  We knew the kids would enjoy seeing the horses.

When we got home, we described what we had seen.  Our daughter was unimpressed. She didn’t believe it, and she wasn’t going to fall for another wild story.  So we loaded up the whole crew and took them to the ranch, and they were all pretty interested in these little horses.  They clearly weren’t just babies.  They were adults, cute as can be, and we watched them for quite some time.

Sadly, our daughter still tends not to believe her dad. Funny thing is, she married a guy who tells his kids tall tales, and their little girl just looks at him out of the sides of her eyes, and shakes her head.

I Love to Teach


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I’m a teacher. Learning is precious to me.  I’m looking forward to teaching a class at our church’s home school co-op.  It will be all about the history and specific political meanings behind some of our most well-known nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Doing the research has been enlightening, to say the least.

The Grimm’s Brother’s Fairy Tales were grim, indeed.  Horrible, bloody, often tainted with sexual impropriety.  I won’t be sharing that with my students. They range from 7th-12th grades, and I don’t think they need to know that our Disney-fied  versions were much darker originally. Some of that I was already aware of. Other things, not so much.

For instance, did you know that in most of the stories we know, it wasn’t the step-mother who was evil, jealous, and murderous?  No, it was the mommy.  The dear, sweet, nurturing mommy. Huh.  Maybe Disney’s version has been responsible for a lot of unfair characterization of step-mothers, you think?

 The nursery rhymes are more fun, although most of them did have a dark side. There is a  belief out there, not shared by all, that “Ring Around the Rosie” has to do with the bubonic plague.   Maybe, maybe not.

ring-around-the-rosie-theredish-com    plague1

Anyway, this information has been most interesting to gather and to put into classroom form. My students, the ones who attend my church, are telling me they really can’t wait.  How cool is that?  There are several who don’t attend our church,but who made it clear at the end of our last class in April that they were already looking forward to the fall subjects.

There is nothing any more satisfying than to teach students who enjoy learning.  I love it.

A Whole New World


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Fifty.  Half a century.   Starting the downward slide into old age.


When I was fifty, I started working on my master’s degree.  I was not looking back; I was looking forward.  I have never regretted going back to school when I did, in spite of having to pay off my student loan for all the years since.  Sixteen years now, and if I can continue working I’ll have it paid in less than a year.  Early.  Saving some interest. I like that.

Fifty was a stepping-off point for me, not a decline into senility. I felt good, I was excited by what I was studying. I started working in my chosen field at 53, and now that I’m 69 I don’t see retirement in my immediate future.

I don’t feel quite as good as I did back then.  Age does take its toll on one’s body, some sooner than others.  I’m convinced that’s partly due to one’s gene pool, partly due to one’s lifestyle. This I know, though:  Having an aching back doesn’t have to stop the activity of the brain!

Would I ever wish to be young again?  Only if I didn’t have to be as dumb as I was then.

As the old Pennsylvania Dutch saying goes:  Too soon old, too late smart.

Don’t Look at Me Like That!


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Some time ago, I had a client in my office who would NOT look at me.  Even when I spoke his name, he would not make eye contact. We went through the entire first session with him looking off to the side, down at the floor, or even closing his eyes when he spoke.

Such behavior can say many things, and my job is to figure out exactly what that is.

Maybe he’s shy.

Maybe he’s a liar.

Maybe he’s fearful of revealing something shameful.

When I finally, very gently, asked him why he couldn’t or wouldn’t look at me, he turned so red that I regretted my question; however, I’ve learned to wait out such situations, because I really needed the answer if we were going to make any progress.

Finally, he looked up.  He was a nice-looking guy, middle-aged, normal in most ways that I could see. What he said  was this:

“I grew up being told not to look at my mother ‘that way,’ to keep my eyes off the girls, that looking someone in the eye was a man’s way of challenging authority. A lot of stuff like that. It was considered rude, and I still can’t do it  without feeling as if I’m being completely inappropriate. It’s one of the reasons I’m here. I work with people, and I need to be able to look at them.”

As he spoke, his eyes once again slanted off to the left, and his eyelids closed about halfway. He’d mastered the technique of looking without looking directly.

“What is it you do?”  I asked.

“I’m a teacher. I work with high school kids. I learned recently that behind my back they call me ‘Mr.Eyes’ because I rarely look at any of them  straight on.  I need to get this fixed. Can you help me? “

“Sure,” I said. But inside, I was wondering how. This was a new one for me. But I’ve read and researched, and he’s making great progress. The other, as we finished up, he shook my hand, looked me straight in the eyes, and thanked me for helping him learn to tell himself the truth about all the things he’d learned as a kid growing up.

After he left, I did a little victory dance.