The Word Press daily prompt has been discontinued.  Now, that doesn’t mean I can’t write any more.  Of course I can.  But I enjoyed those one-word prompts, and they jump-started my brain and sent it in directions  it wouldn’t have taken otherwise.

Some folks, I understand, are setting up their own daily prompts.  That’s great.  I know there are other options out there as well.  But the Word Press prompt was accompanied by a grid that allowed us to read each other’s posts, and I’ve made several friends in the process.

Well.  Life changes, as it should, but this is one change I’m truly unhappy about.

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Always Hope


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Today this word takes me right to my own self.  I never thought much about how it would be to be physically broken at this stage of my life.  Never thought it would be such an effort just to go up and down a flight of stairs, or take a short walk, or climb up on a bed.  Getting in and out of a car can be a challenge.  Partly, it’s my height.  Or, rather, lack thereof.  I’m used to having to climb up on stools and ladders to reach stuff. It continues to be slightly annoying, but it’s nothing new.

But the weakness, the slowness, the uncooperative muscles?  I wasn’t expecting that.  Not yet. Most of it is due to the back problems that started  about three years ago.  If you’ve never had serious back issues, be thankful.  And please don’t think that those who suffer are just faking it, for goodness’ sake, or using it as an excuse to get out of work. While I know there are those who do that sort of thing, most of us would LOVE to be able to put in a full day’s work without the accompanying pain and debility.


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I took a lot for granted before all this mess started. Bending to pick up a baby, to make a bed, to clean a toilet or tub, to scrub a floor–never thought about it.  I had the strength and energy I needed, and I guess I just expected it would always be there.  Sure, you slow down a bit as the years go by, but I truly didn’t think that at nearly 71 I would be in this condition.  Maybe by 85 or 90.  Not yet.

But, lest I leave you on that gloomy note, I have NOT given up or given in. There is a lot that can be done to restore strength I lost while I really couldn’t move much at all. Working on it.  Hoping to improve. There’s always hope.

Life Without Wifi


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To place next to something else for the purpose of contrast.  For instance, my two grandsons here in South Dakota are both very nearly six feet tall.  I am 4’11”  so  if I juxtapose myself between them, there is a very strong contrast 🙂

Usually, though, this is done in an artistic sense.  Placing black and white photos next to colored photos of the same subject creates interesting contrasts and comparisons.

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This iconic photo, originally done in black and white (which I think is more effective, actually) creates a whole different sense when placed next to the colored version.

Have you ever wondered if that poor girl  was shocked out of her mind by this experience?  It is my understanding that they were complete strangers.  I don’t know, some people think this is romantic.  Not me.  I think I’d have wanted to smack him up alongside the head 🙂

Anyway.  You haven’t heard from me in a few days because we’re on vacation, and I don’t have  access to good wifi.  Ken brought me here to the library this morning so I could do some catching up.

I’m not sure when I’ll be back online. And I’m finding that, while I do miss writing my blogs, I’m able to exist quite happily without the internet 🙂

Unrealistic Guilt


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Here’s another huge counseling issue.  Yesterday’s prompt, assumption, took me to marriage counseling.  Today, this word takes me to the ugly realm of abuse.

I understand why victims of abuse feel guilt.  At least, I think I do.

The woman whose husband beats her for no discernible reason accepts the burden of guilt for his abuse. “I just need to be more careful,” she’ll say.  “It’s my own fault.  I aggravate him, and I need to try harder.”

Wrong at every level, but it’s nearly impossible to convince her that she is NOT guilty. Only when she “gets it” that he doesn’t beat up anyone else will she begin to question his right to knock her around whenever he feels the need of a punching bag.  He can control himself at work or anywhere else but all his anger and aggression gets unleashed on her.

She is not the guilty one.

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Victims of sexual abuse often feel guilty. “I must have done something to make him/her think it was okay,” or “Well, I shouldn’t have been wearing shorts” (when I was three or four!) or “I was flirtatious” (when I was too young to know what that meant).

Unreasonable guilt. Sexual predators do what they do because they can. So, so many times I have told a suffering adult, molested as a child, “You are not defiled by what someone does to you against your will.  You are NOT impure. The offender is.  What he did is a felony!  You are not to blame. No matter what a demented society may say or think,  a predator ALWAYS has the choice NOT to sexually assault or abuse someone else.”

It makes me crazy when a woman who was raped becomes the guilty person in the eyes of so many people.  “How was she dressed?  Was her skirt too short, her pants too tight, her top too low?  Where was she?  Why was she alone?  She was probably asking for it.  She probably enjoyed it.”

Good grief.  Rape is a crime of power, not lust.  It is a violent assault, and it makes a woman into nothing but a piece of meat.  Rape has been perpetrated on NUNS,  who are totally modestly clothed and, I promise you, were not “asking for it” nor “enjoying it.”

It shocks me, every single time and even though I’ve lived long enough to know better, that when a woman is raped, she has to endure the torture of being put on the witness stand and being exposed in her most personal, private life if she dares to report the crime and bring the predator to justice.

And please don’t give the tired old argument that sometimes women lie and accuse innocent men. Yes, that does–rarely–happen, and it’s appalling. The topic here, though is not the innocent man who is accused;  it is the innocent girl or woman who is assaulted, and then assaulted again when she reports it; the one who lives with a burden of guilt that society gleefully allows her to carry.

I hate it.  Really hate it.


Marriage Counseling


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This is a word that takes me right to the marriage counseling I often do in my office.


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To assume anything, in this context,  is to believe, not always with a factual basis, that another person thinks, feels, or reacts negatively toward you because he has nefarious motives.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard one spouse say to another, “No, that’s not true!”  “No, that’s a lie!” “That is NOT what happened!” and so on. The assumption is always there that the other person  has negative motives, and is trying to win at all costs.

Sometimes she is.

However, both individuals are equally frustrated, equally angry, equally quick to assume the worst of the other.

I often wonder how that happens to two people who profess to love each other.  Does it start before “I do”?  Or does it come along with the very first disagreement, and just slowly escalate into such venomous behavior?  There is a point at which so much anger and hatred have developed that I don’t know if there’s any hope.

Many times, I point out to a couple that if one person always has to be right, then the other always has to be wrong. That’s a really terrible imbalance of power, and the “wrong” person is going to become bitter, hopeless, and angry.  That person will eventually leave the relationship, emotionally if not in physical reality. There are more couples than you would believe who share a house, but nothing else.

Assumption is a dangerous thing.  It is NEVER true that you know what someone else is thinking. When you assume that you do, you’re making it impossible for that other person to convince you that he/she doesn’t actually have those thoughts at all.

Very rarely do I believe that divorce is the best option. If the one who always has to win, though, refuses to leave that position, there really is no hope.

I hate that.

Disappear to Lie/Lay


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Maybe you’re old enough to remember this 1954 television series, maybe not.  It was quite an innovation at the time.  It concerned a couple who were killed in an automobile accident, but who came back to complicate the life of their friend Topper.  They could appear and disappear at will, which made poor Topper crazy and created a lot of laughs for the loyal viewers.

I’ve often wished I had the gift of being able to disappear, haven’t you?  There are times when I’ve wished I could simply vanish, without making an awkward entrance or exit. Perhaps during a long, tedious, and excruciatingly boring lecture of some sort, it would be nice to just POOF!  Or maybe you happen to be on a date with someone who makes your skin crawl. POOF!  You’re gone, and the nasty guy has no clue where you went.  (It was a blind date, of course. No one who has any sense would choose to go out with such an unpleasant sort.) (I don’t remember ever going on a blind date. If I did, I’ve shoved that memory into oblivion.)

Or maybe you’d just like to make PART of yourself disappear, like however many pounds you’re overweight.  Now, that would be  a vanishing cream that anyone would pay money for, wouldn’t it?

Are there some people you’d like to POOF! out of your life?  I don’t have many of those these days.  The older you grow, the more selective you become–at least, that’s what has happened for me.  The annoying types I run across now and then aren’t really a part of my life, so I can comfortably ignore them.  Like the guy last Sunday who was riding our bumper down the main street of a small town.  We were looking for a particular restaurant, found it, slowed down to make a left turn. Idiotman behind us (way too closely behind us, driving way too fast)  layed/laid on his horn so hard and long you could still hear it after his truck had disappeared.

Layed?  Laid?  Hmmm. After giving myself a short remedial course on the principal parts of these irregular verbs, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither is appropriate, and that this  is an American colloquialism that  isn’t grammatically correct no matter which verb you use.

Aren’t you glad you know that?  You’re very welcome.  And no, I’m not quite sure how I got from disappear to lie/lay.  It probably doesn’t matter.

Turned the Wrong Way


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This word is a great example of onomatopoeia.  It kind of sounds like what it means.  Awkward, backward, perverse, clumsy.
I’ve had many awkward moments in my life, which I won’t embarrass myself by repeating here.  Anyway, I’ve shared plenty of them in the four+ years I’ve been writing this blog 🙂
I can tell you that I’ve been good at very few sports.  Some, but not many.  I’m not fast, and I’m not a good strategist.   But I loved volleyball, and I was very good at tetherball.  And hopscotch.  And the hula hoop.  But no one wanted to pick me for their basketball team, or softball, or football.  I wasn’t disappointed to be chosen last, because I didn’t expect anything else. That’s life.
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This would have been me
I think being socially awkward is more difficult, though, than being physically unathletic.  Some people just seem to be  born with social grace, and others have to learn it the hard way.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve blushed after realizing I’ve just said something stupid, hurtful, or inappropriate.  Or, perhaps, failed to respond to the whole “how are you” ritual because my mind was elsewhere.
I was a teacher for many years, and teachers talk a lot.  When you talk a lot, you easily get into trouble with your words.   Now, in the counseling office, I’m still doing my share of talking.  I’m thankful that I came to this career later in life, and had learned a few things about how to listen, what to say and how to say it.  Sometimes you really need to be tactful in counseling others.  Sometimes, my innate tendency to bluntness is actually the best tool I have.  It may seem awkward at the time, but often, blunt words are exactly what is needed.
Here’s a favorite video of mine that I like to show clients who are worry warts by nature. I hope it makes you laugh on this lovely (here in Pa) Monday morning.

Keep it Simple


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This word is from the Latin complicare, to fold together. 

The first thing that comes to mind is Danish pastry.  I used to make it from scratch, and it required a process of incorporating lots of butter into sweet dough, chilling, rolling, folding, rolling, etc. until the specified number of layers had been created.

It smelled like heaven while it was baking. It tasted like ambrosia, and it didn’t ever last very long. I’ve had good danish from bakeries, but there’s nothing like homemade.

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All those layers you see folded together and replete with butter makes melt-in-your-mouth goodness.  And yes, it’s complicated to make, but not really difficult. You just need patience.

I’ve noticed in the last couple of years that when someone is asked a question they may not really want to answer, they’ll dodge it by saying, “It’s complicated.”  And sometimes it really is.  Layers of events, emotions, details, all folded together to create a complicated situation. Sometimes, the person who is asking really has no business knowing the answer. “It’s complicated”  works quite well in that case.

Complications do arise in life.  I’m reading a book right now about the current political atmosphere here in America. Layers upon layers of deceit, maneuvering, misleading, and misuse of power.  Will we ever know the real truth of all the accusations and counter-accusations?  Probably not.  One thing our politicians are quite adept at doing these days is dodging the simple truth. Then you toss in the added complication of a news media that is no longer simply reporting.  It is interpreting, explaining to meet their own agenda, assuming that we the people are too ignorant or just plain stupid to see the obfuscation of which the press is guilty.

Even in my counseling office, I have often asked a question–a simple, clear question–that elicits a response that avoids the question completely. Sometimes I will stop the person and say, “A simple YES or NO is really all I need at this point.”  They don’t like that.  I will usually get, “Well, yes, BUT yadayadayada.” While I am fully aware that there are complications, I do try to get to a starting point that is clear and without layers folded all around it.  People often are confused, puzzled, even angry when I ask for a simple, uncomplicated yes or no. 

Maybe I should just stick with making pastry.

Not MY Babies!


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From Latin,   pre- and maturus, “before ripe.”

To be mature is to be ready, complete, fully formed,  We use it for lots of things.  Ripe fruit, ready to pick, is mature.  A child who is wiser than his years is said to be mature for his age.  Someone who has reached a ripe old age is mature.

Babies who have not spent the necessary nine months in the womb are considered premature.   They are not fully formed, not ready to live without the protection of the umbilical cord and the womb.  It is amazing what can be done these days to save these early comers.  Tiny little things no bigger than a couple of pounds can be kept alive and thriving until they reach a point of maturity that allows them to go home with their excited parents.


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I had four babies.  One was right on time. The other three kept me waiting for at least two weeks past their due dates, definitely not premature. Back then, there was no question of inducing labor unless there was a medical development that endangered the life of either the mother or the baby.  You just waited it out,   planning revenge on the little person who kept you waiting, wishing, hoping, praying that THIS would be the day!  And fending off the people who kept saying dumb things like, “Haven’t you had that baby yet?” as if  there were any choice.  “Of course I haven’t had it yet, you fool!  You think this is FUN?  You think I’m ENJOYING looking like a sideways mountain?  You wanna carry this for a couple of hours? Duh!”

No, I never said any of that.  I thought it really loudly, though.



Nasty Bugs


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From the Latin prefix in- (into) and facere (put, do)  this word was originally used to describe the process of being tainted with disease of some sort.

I did my two years of practicum toward my master’s degree in health care facilities:  A hospital, and a nursing home.  One of the many things I learned was about staph infections and MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  What are they?

They’re nasty bugs that have developed since the introduction of penicillin and other antibacterial, antibiotic medicines.  They have become resistant, sometimes impervious, to what we used to think were miracle drugs.  So we develop new drugs to fight them, and guess what?  More nasty bugs develop resistance to the newer stuff.

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We have made great progress in medicine.  That’s indisputable.  We’re living longer, taking better care of ourselves,  understanding about the importance of cleanliness and good nutrition,

But the fact of the matter is, we no sooner develop some new miracle cure than some new nasty bug rears its ugly head, and we start all over again.

I’ve even heard some people say that our obsession with antibacterial hand soaps  is creating a whole new set of bacteria.

Good grief.

You know, it’s also possible to be infected by joy, laughter, happiness, positive attitudes, and gratitude.  Maybe we should focus on those things more than we do.