To Go or Not To Go


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We just got our passports renewed, and are waiting to receive them in the mail. Fascinating little blue book that allows a person to enter  other nations.

Image result for American passport

I was hoping to go to Slovakia again this summer with a mission team from my church, but we’ve decided against it. After my last episode with my back, which came out of the blue with no warning, we’ve felt that it would not be fair to the rest of the team if something like that should happen over there.  I would be a liability.

It isn’t easy to accept that my body is slowly grounding me. You don’t expect it, even though you see it all around you. As we age, we slow down. We lose muscle mass.  We have trouble with balance. Our vision dims. That list is endless and could take us to a very dark place.

I choose not to wallow in my misery 🙂  The process is normal and natural, and I’m thankful that really, apart from my back, my health is pretty good.  Yes, I have the specter of diabetes hanging over my head, but that can be controlled.

Anyway, it looks like world travel may not be in our immediate future. You never know, though. At least we’ll have those little blue books that allow us to pack up and go.


Know Your Future!


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I don’t believe in fortune telling, palm reading, Tarot cards, and mediums who say they can reach the spirit world.  I don’t pay attention to astrology, and yes, I know what my sign is, but it’s not something I think about. Actually, I don’t think I’d want to know my future in terms of this life.  It might make me want to avoid it!

Still, the temptation is there, isn’t it?  Even if you don’t really think there’s anything to it, there is a draw to see what someone may have to say about your future. I wonder what it is about us that, even though we disbelieve the validity of it all, still draws us to such things.

Image result for gypsy fortune teller

Every now and then, on TV, I see an advertisement about getting your love life untangled or your future made clear if you call a certain number, pay the money, and then listen to what the person on the other line has to offer.  There are always testimonials from people whose “lives have been changed forever,” and it’s all very glamorous.  I’ve never heard anyone say, on those ads, that they were told they’re going to die painfully from cancer within three years.

Notice, I did NOT say that I don’t believe in the world of darkness, where Satan and his minions dwell.  That’s a different thing entirely, and I suppose that Satan can influence some people to seem to tell the future, and to “bring up” the spirits of the dead. We can read about that happening in I or II Samuel.  I’d have to look it up.

Interesting topic, but one I believe that it is wise to avoid.

Fortune has many meanings, and I’m not sure why I landed on this one today.  Funny where my mind goes 🙂

Be Respectful!


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Are you jealous of your territory?  I tend to be, and I’m not sure why.  Maybe because my parents taught us that we were never to touch things that didn’t belong to us unless we got permission.  You didn’t snoop through someone’s drawers or closets. You didn’t  use someone else’s things without permission. You kept your side of the bedroom from infringing on your sister’s side.

I remember going to work one morning, years ago when I was teaching high school English and history in the private Christian school at our church.  I opened the door to my classroom, and knew instantly that someone had not only used it the previous day, Sunday, which was expected; but they had left it in a shambles. They’d had a party in their Sunday school class, leaving crumbs and sticky gunk on my desk and on the students’ desks. They’d dug through my desk drawers looking for something, and that’s what really lit me up. They hadn’t bothered to throw away the donut box, or to pick up napkins and cups, or to use the vacuum on the carpet.

Image result for messy, dirty classroom

I was furious. This was my territory, and it had been invaded.

Believe me, it didn’t happen again.  Go ahead and have your class, have your party. But remember, as I do when the school week is over on Friday, that the room will be used by someone else after you leave. Clean up after yourselves. Have some courtesy.

Seems simple to me.

Yesterday and Today

PHOTO PROMPT © Fatima Fakier Deria

Yesterday, the calm of a busy harbor marina. Smooth, blue water. Small boats, big ships, Industry, pleasure, business and play all unaware that a change was coming.

Today:  The air, still calm, doesn’t give fair warning.  In fact, there was very little warning of any kind. Only those who happened to be looking out to sea noticed a strange new line of darker blue on the horizon, growing higher and moving faster as it rolled toward their peaceful bay.

So terrifying,  so relentless.  So careless of anything in its path.

And afterward? Calm, and sorrow.

Wonderful Water


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In the early morning, my elixir is coffee.  Stevia for sweetness, and French Vanilla creamer for richness, but not too much.  I like the taste of the coffee, and sometimes I drink it straight.

Later in the day, hot tea in the cold weather and iced tea during the hot months.

And all day, every day the elixir of life: Water.  Lots of water.  I keep  a glass at my desk when I’m working, and I empty it several times each day. At home, it gets carried with me around the house as I go about my chores.

I don’t do the bottled water thing unless I’m traveling. Never saw the sense in buying what I can get free out of the tap. Of course, we have well water and it tastes good.

When I was a kid, we’d take a trip out to Marshall, Minnesota to visit my mom’s father and his wife, Grandma Millie, whom we loved as much as if she had been our blood relative. But the water out there?  Ugh!  It was truly gross. Grandma Millie kept a pitcher in the fridge all the time, because the only way you could get it down was if it was too cold to taste.

America is blessed with an abundance of water. Rarely do we have to boil it to purify it, because we’ve learned so much about water treatment to make it safe.  We are greatly privileged in this country to have so much potable water, and we take it for granted.  We waste it.

My parents grew up in the Depression years, when water wasn’t plentiful where they were. You didn’t waste water.  You didn’t let the tap run while you brushed your teeth.  You put only an inch or so of water in the bathtub.  You threw dishwater into your flower garden, and laundry water doused the vegetable garden. If the only water you had was what you could collect in a cistern when it rained, then everyone took a bath in the same water–and you didn’t start with the cleanest person first.  You started with the men who had been out working, and were dusty, grimy, greasy.  They got the hot water.  By the time you got down to the smallest person, the water wasn’t very appetizing.

That’s all a little bit disgusting to us these days, but it was reality for thousands during those harsh years.  Most of the time, you took a sponge bath at the sink.  A tub bath was a once-a-week event.


Well.  Isn’t it interesting where one little word takes us.  From coffee to sponge baths.  And it all depends on that wonderful elixir of life, water.

Purple Mountains’ Majesty


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One of my favorite colors is purple.  Along with red.  Maybe I should join the Red Hat Society, so I can wear a red hat with a purple dress.

Probably not.

Actually, the first thing that came to mind was “For purple mountains’ majesty, above the fruited plain” from America, the Beautiful. 

I was born just on the other side of those wonderful mountains, in Grand Junction, Colorado. We lived there only for a little while,  until I was two, when my parents chose to move north to Minnesota.  So, for this flatlander little girl, the Rocky Mountains were like a fairy tale.

We drove to Colorado a few times to visit relatives on both sides of the family.  Mom had a sister in Denver, and Dad’s family were on the western slope.  I still can clearly see and remember the excitement of getting that first hazy blue look of the mountains on the horizon as we crossed from Kansas into Colorado. The giant peaks were just a little blue, jagged line at that first sighting, but as the day progressed, they gained substance. As the sun moved, toward evening, they really did look purple. I remember having that song in my head a lot during the course of the day.

And when we were actually there, ready to cross from Denver to the other side, there was no super highway to take us over the high passes like there is now. There were hairpin turns as we snaked our way up one side and down the other.  My poor mother was always so nervous until we had gained the top and were finally heading down, especially when we drove over Loveland Pass.

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I’ve often wondered how the pioneers who took their families across high mountains in covered wagons must have felt when they got their first up-close-and- personal look at the obstacle course.  I’m sure that some of them decided the Eastern Slope was beautiful, and stayed there.

Be Thankful


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Funny that this word should come up today.  After a session with a client yesterday, I was thinking about how thankful I am for what is ordinary in my life. Also, knowing that what I consider ordinary would be unattainable for many in third-world countries, I took  some time to make a mental list of things that I consider ordinary that would be deemed as luxuries in other parts of the world. My car, for instance.  By no means luxurious by American standards, it’s old–2001 vintage–and doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles new cars have these days.  But it’s sturdy, comfortable, warm or cold on demand, and dependable.  Ordinary.

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I have a closet full of clothing. There’s plenty of food in our pantry.  Today I will do laundry. For me, that means sorting clothes and putting them into machines that wash and dry them without my involvement. That’s ordinary for me. Not so for millions around the world.

I know there’s nothing new or astonishing in this post. I suppose that if it nudges any of those who read it to just take a moment to consider all we have in this country, all that we consider normal, and to be thankful, then that’s a good thing.

By the way, in Colonial times here in the USA, an ordinary was a tavern or inn where you could go for food and drink, and where a traveler could find a bed for the night.

Yes, Opposites do Attract!


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We live in a time in which any aberrant behavior is considered to be a symptom of some psychological disorder. To compound the problem, everyone is an armchair psychologist these days, ready to diagnose himself and/or anyone else.

I’ve learned a great deal in my nearly 16 years of working in the field of psychotherapy. I am not a Ph.D.  I have a Master of Social Work degree, which opens the door to private practice counseling. I can’t prescribe medication; I can recommend it, and encourage my client to speak with his doctor or a psychiatrist. However, I’ve developed a broad working knowledge of medications, and I am required to diagnose each client in order for the insurance to pay for the cost of treatment.

So much of my practice turns out to be, in my opinion, not a truly diagnoseable psychological disorder. It is often simply  a problem in communication, in basic human relationships, and in rebellious behavior that is disrupting the entire family. We do have diagnostic codes that we can apply to such situations.

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What becomes problematic, though, is when someone comes into my office having already decided what his dysfunction is. If I don’t jump on board with it, he is dissatisfied because he can’t blame his behavior on something a pill will cure.

Some people seem to be born with an inherent ability to get along with other people. They are agreeable, pleasant, and find the positive in almost every situation.  The downside of that personality is that they often are in relationships or situations  in which they are taken for granted, mistreated, and undervalued.

My own family tree is pretty heavily populated with people who question authority, refuse to be put down, rise easily to leadership positions, and forge ahead on their own paths. The downside of that personality is the tendency to be critical, disrespectful when authority is “just stupid,”  and unwilling to change for the comfort of other people.

A lot of my time, in my office, is spent trying to help these two opposites, who are magnetically attracted to each other, find a way to continue living together in harmony.

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Sometime, when I finish a day of being a referee, I have a few symptoms myself!



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Leah knew her grieving would never be over.  It didn’t matter what people said, and some of what they said was just stupid.

“Don’t worry, you’ll have another baby,”

“Well, there must have been something wrong with it.  It’s better off in heaven.”

“It’s not as if you knew the child. Think how hard it is when a real baby that you held and loved suddenly dies.”

It’s been six months, Leah. You need to put it behind you now and move on.”

Image result for grieving a miscarriage quotes

Leah wanted to shout at all of them, with their cold and useless “comfort.”  They insisted on her acceptance of the miscarriage. They wanted her to be normal again, because her grief made them uncomfortable.

Finally she went to see a counselor. The counselor listened quietly as Leah told the whole story. There were tears in the counselor’s eyes when Leah finished, sobbing into a tissue she’d grabbed from the box beside her.

“Leah, I am so sorry.  What you’re experiencing is normal, and it takes time to adjust and accept such a loss.”  She went on to talk about stages of grief. She acknowledged that “the miscarriage” was not a thing, but a child. Her words brought some comfort and healing to Leah’s battered heart. Finally, someone seemed to understand.

Two years later, Leah brought her newborn baby to the office to show off to the staff. She glowed with happiness, but the counselor could see the shadows lingering in her eyes.

It was normal.

“Fraidy Cat!”

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

photo@J.Hardy Carroll

The children sped by on the roller skates clamped to their sneakers. Some grabbed at the bars of the iron fence, building their speed. They all craned their necks at the estate that took up a whole city block. None of them had ever dared to venture inside, and parents warned their children to stay away.

They never saw people. No one was ever in the vast yard, mowing or trimming; yet it always appeared to have been freshly groomed each morning.

“I’m going in there someday,” whispered Johnny.

“Then why’re  you whispering?” taunted Susie. “Fraidy cat!”