"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin


Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.


"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham


"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien


"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not




Monday, December 31, 2012

Picture review of my 2012

 
I posted a new video -- a picture review of my 2012.
 
As are most years, 2012 was a mix of good and not so good, but I'm more convinced than ever before that what we live makes us who we are.  I feel more in touch with who I am, more able to identify what's important to me, more willing to take the path of least resistance. I feel stronger and healthier than I have in many years.  I am blessed in so many ways, I can't keep count and the aggravating aspects of my life are not even worth mentioning here.



January 8, 2012, we celebrated Seth Ryan Pruett's second birthday with a "pony party." Paula Maloney brought Festus and Pretty Boy, a.k.a PB to our house.  We only had three or four kids show up to ride so they each got plenty of horseback time.  As soon as the party was over, Deidre packed up all hers and Seth's belongings and moved to Mineral Wells for her new job as manager of Cedarview Apartments. 


Dotti Laseur invited me to "tea" at her apartment in the Holt Hotel.  There I met Elizabeth Hawley, owner/editor of the Wichita Falls Literature and Art Review, and Nancy Scott, with the Kemp Center for the Arts.  It was at that "tea party" that "Cowboy True" was first mentioned to me. 





On January 23rd we welcomed Samantha Hope into our family.  Sammie is Whitney Sosebee's daughter, my sister's great granddaughter and what a sweetie she is.  Seth loves "Whitney Baby".  We hope they will be "best buds".






The last weekend in January, I , along with +Tina Haapala and Judie Brunson, went to the Quartz Mountain Resort near Altus Oklahoma, for a "writers' retreat".  Being alone with nothing to distract me helped jar things loose.  We're going again the last weekend in January 2013.  With some great rates to encourage others to join us, 11 of us are going this time. I'm looking forward to that.

In March, as an artist (writer) I participated in "Cowboy True", which was the kickoff event to benefit the restoration of the old "Woman's Forum" building on Speedway, now "Kemp at the Forum". I stepped out of my comfort zone and went alone.  I pretended I was outgoing and comfortable talking to people I don't know, and eventually, over the course of the two day event, I did shed my shyness.  I met Jack and Karen Milchanowski, photograpers from Bowie, Mejo Okon, western artist from Abilene, and Anne Ayres, bronze sculptor from Iowa Park.  I met Gary Kingcaid, a local artist and art teacher. I introduced myself to the well known bronze sculptor, Jack Stephens, who was foreman of the Johnston ranches in his younger years.

Dotti came and sold books for me.  She's always a hoot.


In May, I attended the Oklahoma Writers' Federation Inc conference in Oklahoma City .  We were at the beautiful comfortable Embassy Suites but in 2013, the conference will move to Norman, Oklahoma.  I'm looking forward to it.  Last May, I met some awesome people, writers who are willing to discuss all aspects of writing. 

In June, Deidre quit Cedarview and moved back home.  I was happy to have her and Seth here.  Living alone isn't all its cracked up to be.

July 4th, I lost my Pomeranian, Foxie June. Traumatic experience.  I still miss her.  I'd love to have another Pom, but little bitty dogs and 3 year old boys might not be a good mix, so I'm gonna wait a while.

In August, I went down to have a "girls' weekend" with my friend, Lanore Dixon and her friend, Suzanne Arnold.  We were at Lanore's house out in the sticks near Blum, Texas.  On the way down there, I sold Ronnie's hotrod, the Blue Bird, to his brother, Bruce.  There are so many emotions associated with that decision. I'd always known I couldn't keep it, but I felt more secure with it in my garage.

Letting go of the responsibility of it was easy, though.  It brought a great sense of relief.  And although I didn't get what I thought it was worth, I did get what Ronnie had suggested I sell it for -- and it's still in the family.

In September, I spoke on "How to Create Believable Characters" at the Write Stuff Workshop at the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at MSU.  There I met some more awesome writers, Deborah Kegley, Billie Hall and Carolyn Gilbert.

At Tina Haapala's urging, I joined Toastmasters in September and met another new group of wonderful, fun folks.

I hosted the annual Christmas party for the Wichita Falls Creative Writers and had 16 people in my little house.  We were wall to wall but we had a great time!

So that's most of the highlights.  In between, I have been to craft shows and shopping with, Donna Tate.  I go out for snacks with Tina Haapala before most of the meetings of the Wichita Falls Creative Writers and usually after Toastmasters.

I went to Grapevine with Dotti and Donna just to shop and look around.  I've attended several events at the Kemp Center.  At least once a month, Deidre, Seth and I meet Ronnie, Michael, sometimes Uncle Brandon and Greg Baker in Decatur for dinner and visiting.  I go to lunch occasionally with Dotti and Elizabeth. Elizabeth offered her office space at The Forum for the writers' meetings. I meet Anne Ladyman for lunch or dinner when her schedule allows.  I met Donna Fonville for a catch-up session at Alfredo's Mexican Restaraunt.  I went to lunch with Suzie Solorio and Angie Puente once.  I need to do that again.

On tv, I watched nearly every single game the Texas Rangers played.

I went to a Rangers' game at The Ball Park in Arlington with Tina Haapala, thanks to the generosity of Gary Silverman, Tina's boss.  We had lunch at Pappadeaux, went to the game, then spent the night and played around in Dallas the next day.  We met Ronnie and Michael for lunch before coming home.  We had a wonderful time!

I went to a yoga/creativity class, to Backdoor Theater, the Mystery Art Auction at the Kemp Center, and to a one day writers' workshop in Norman, Oklahoma with Monica McCawley.

I've cleared out closets -- and cluttered them back up. The Lady Cave looks like a storage unit since we had to move things around to get the Christmas stuff out.  Maybe the garage is a better place for the Christmas stuff. 

To simplify my life, I took out the pond with the help of Donna Tate and her daughter-in-law, Trish.  Donna adopted all my beautiful fish and did not lose a single one in the transfer!

I started refinishing my bedroom furniture -- and it remains unfinished -- one year later.

All the above plus I worked three days a week and chased Seth through the house just to hear him giggle.

All in all, it's been a good year. Wishing everyone lots of rain, beautiful tie-dyed skies, big bright moons, colorful sunsets, beautiful flowers, sweet pets, funny children and all that feels good to you!  Happy New Year, everyone!







Saturday, December 22, 2012

About Beliefs


I used a variation of this as a speech at Toastmasters.  My evaluator pointed out that I could have spent more time on some of the questions I raised, so I decided to see where his suggestions would take me.  Thanks, Rob! 

 

 
 


One of the most cherished and cherish-able rights that we have as Americans is the right to have and state our own opinions.

 
This right, however, is one that we often don't want to extend to others. 

 
What is it about humans, that we think everyone should agree with us? Why do we get so angry when others don't?  Why do we care and especially why do we care so much that we risk alienating friends or worse, start wars?   

 
I grew up in the Unitarian religion. Unitarians in general, are very open minded and have great respect for the right of every person to have and state their own opinion.  Unitarians "discuss" things.  They don't argue, so arguing goes against my grain, but I love a respectful discussion.

 
I only have a few friends, who can discuss volatile issues without getting emotionally involved. Some can become rabid at the drop of a hat so I avoid discussing a lot issues with them.  The last thing I want is someone screaming in my face – literally, on paper or online.

 
Most of us, especially those who frequent online social media sites such as Facebook, are fully aware that this past Presidential election got really ugly. On Facebook both sides were absolutely cut throat  --  not really in defending their candidate but tearing down the opponent. 

 
That was what caught my attention.  Where does that hatred come from – toward someone you don't really even know?

 
It's been known for many years that almost everything can be proved  -- or disproved.  It depends on what facts you are looking for.  According to my friends at Abraham-Hicks, the law of attraction will bring you whatever you are looking for – even when you are researching an issue.  Most of us start our research with a goal in mind – to prove something – or find evidence to the contrary.  Facts for both are out there and when we start digging we find both, but we tend to ignore or refuse to report what we don't want to know – or more to the point – don't want others to know, and continue gathering evidence that supports our opinion.

 
How do we get started on these paths that we do not allow ourselves to step off of to any degree whatsoever?   Where do our hardcore political and religious beliefs come from?  It seems possible to me, that we absorb the basic concepts from our parents and other influential family members. We build on them according to what we see and experience through our lives.  Sometimes, though, we keep the core beliefs so close to our heart, we begin to view them  as "facts" instead of what they really are -- what we have – chosen -- to believe.

 
It also seems possible, maybe even probable that perhaps we adhere to the negative leanings of our family and peers in an effort to avoid confrontation or to stay in good standing with those we love, admire or respect.  

It's also possible that because many of us are so afraid of being wrong, we'd rather die than admit that we are.  Why is there so much shame in being wrong about something?

 
But what if adhering to our negative, hateful beliefs or hard core opinions doesn't enrich our life in any way?  For example, how could seeing anyone else as "beneath us," or "less than" -- for any reason, enrich our life?

 
There is a bit of common knowledge that says when we criticize others for what ever reason, it comes from poor self esteem on our part.

 
Put another way, "what we see in others is a reflection of what we see in ourselves."

 
So how do we rid ourselves, and equally important, how do we convince others to give up these prejudices that don't serve us in any beneficial way, as individuals or as a nation?

 
My friends at Abraham-Hicks say that a belief is nothing more than a thought that you keep on thinking. If you change the thought, and practice it, eventually the belief changes.  They also say there are only two emotions.  One feels good and one feels bad and you can tell by the way you feel if your current thought is of benefit to you or not.

 
The old phrase, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink," is appropriate here, so the best place to start is with ourselves.

 
To quote G. Bernard Shaw, "People who cannot change their mind, can't change anything".

 
My Unitarian mother said, "There is always a kinder way."

 

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I went to Tea with the Methodists

"Drinking tea, desires diminish and I come to see the ancient secret of happiness: wanting what I already have, inhabitating the life that is already mine." -- The Minister of Leaves


Ya'll who know me best will probably faint when I say this, but last Saturday, I went to a Christmas tea with about thirty of the women of the Beverly Drive United Methodist Church, thanks to a very cordial and heartfelt invitation by Linda Marcum, the church's Pastor.


I met Linda and her husband, Don, over the fence across the alley behind The Florist.  Actually I met their poodle girl, Angel, first.  Angel introduced me to her mom and dad.  Don was already carrying his oxygen pack with him when we first met, but I didn't realize how ill he was.  Within a year, he was gone. Super nice man -- and he loved his family and his Angel.  We can tell Angel misses him, and she looks forward to Mama coming home. He is missed by those on the north side of the alley, too.

Linda is one of those people who comes along occasionally, who despite all that we are that is different, we connected.  It's probably partly because we are both new widows, but hopefully that's just our initial introduction and we will be able to get to know one another better.  I like her.  She is a genuinely nice person.

I've known lots of Methodists, and generally speaking, I've found them to be open minded, welcoming and friendly.  Two of my favorite people in the whole world, Bernice Stone and Cora Mae Watts, were Methodists. So were their families.  Wonderful, honest people.

Although they attended church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening, they never force-fed their religious beliefs to me -- like some religions do.  They did, however, talk to me about their beliefs, and how God would like to see us treat each other.  They were good role models for a young mother of two.

Last Christmas is a blur to me.  Linda may have invited me to her Christmas tea last year, but I didn't go. This year, though, I'm in a much better place, a much stronger frame of mind, so I told Linda I'd love to come to tea.

Thursday night, before the tea, I ate something that disagreed with me and ended up unable to go to work Friday.  Sick all day and all evening, woke up Saturday feeling somewhat better but still lousy. Do I go have tea with the Methodists?  Or call Linda and tell her I can't come?

That little voice in my mind that likes to make me think I'm insignificant, assured me, "You don't have to go.  She's expecting about forty people." 

"But I said I'd go and I hate to say I'll do something and then not follow through," I argued with myself.

"She won't even notice if you don't come."

But I got up, took a shower, dressed and went -- because I said I'd be there. I took Linda a gift, as a thank you for inviting me -- copies of "Come Hell or High Water",  "The Hell About Stallions" and the preview of "When Hell Freezes Over", all beautifully wrapped up together and tied with a sparkling gold bow.

The "tea room" was beautifully decorated; white table cloths adorned with many different patterns of tea sets, floral arrangements, votive candles, mini Christmas trees, clear glasses filled with nuts and candies, snowflakes and a standard decorated Christmas tree with a bright star on top.

I met Kathy, don't know her last name.  She said it was long and hard to spell and most people can't remember it.  She was a lovely woman, new to Wichita Falls.  Her husband is a regional Bishop, I think is what she told me, so they are only here for about eight years before they will move again.  She said she likes Wichita Falls, that it has a peace about it that is missing in larger cities.  It was nice to hear someone compliment Wichita Falls, since mostly all we native Wichitans do is complain because we don't have this or that.

The program included beautiful songs and thoughtful prayer, then as we helped ourselves to a lovely variety of finger foods, Linda called out the names of the "door prize" winners.  I won the last one -- a variety box of Republic of Tea -- an appropriate gift for me.  I love tea.

Linda may not have noticed if I hadn't come, but she sure noticed that I was there. She introduced me to the whole group as "Angel's friend" and they all knew Angel.

It was a fun relaxing time, filled with sweet voices and good will.

Will I go to church come Sunday morning?  No.

Linda and I have different beliefs but that doesn't mean we can't be friends.





Saturday, December 15, 2012

Seth and John Falola
 Meeting John Falola

I met John Falola at the Wichita Falls Symphony performance last weekend.  He was here courtesy of the Kemp at the Forum and the Wichita Falls Literature and Art Review.  He had a table across from mine in the lobby for the purpose of selling his children's book "Bob Humbug".  I bought one for Seth and John signed it, "To Seth, Merry Christmas and best wishes as you grow up!" John bought a copy of "Come Hell or High Water" to take back to London.

I had a couple of opportunities to visit with John and his friend, whose name, I'm embarrassed to say, escapes me. Names seldom stick with me if I don't write them down immediately. He was as friendly and gracious as John.  He is from the Dallas area and came up to Wichita Falls to spend time with, John, his childhood friend. This young man helped me load my books and decorations into my car. Thank you so much! 

I noticed a pamphlet advertising John reading "Bob Humbug" on Tuesday at the Forum, and I promised to bring Seth.

Tuesday rolls around but Seth didn't get a nap. There is always this little voice in my head that says, "If you didn't go, he wouldn't notice" but there is also another stronger voice that says, "You promised you'd be there," so I went alone.

You can never prejudge attendance for book signings or readings or the opportunities to make new friends that might arise when things don't go as planned.  There were four adults and one child seated at a table in the Dutchess Room, but John sat down and read the story to us as if we were a full audience of children.

As we parted, he urged me to bring Seth on Wednesday night for the final reading.  Again, I promised I would if we could get him to take a nap.

Wednesday, Seth took a nap and woke up ready to go hear a story, so back to the Forum we went.  When I asked Seth if he could say hello to my new friend, John, he looked down and said, "Probably not. I'm feelin' kinda shy", but then he waved and said "hi!"

We sat on the front row and Seth listened attentatively for more than half of the story, then he began to get restless.  John uses a lot of expression when he reads and that helped a lot toward keeping the little ones like Seth interested.

"Bob Humbug" illustrates how us older folk can get into the habit of refusing to have fun. We believe we're too old to join in.  Sometimes our ideas change of what constitutes fun.  In this story, the children did not give up on Bob, but in real life sometimes our friends get tired of our negative "Baa humbug - ness" and decide to leave us in our boring misery.

Told in rhyme for the youngsters, "Bob Humbug" has a great message for readers of all ages.

 
I wish John Falola all the best of success with his writing!  He has two more picture/story books coming out in 2013. I'll be looking for them!  For those of you who need another Christmas gift for your little ones, you can inspire their imaginations by encouraging them to read! " Bob Humbug" by John Falola is available on www.amazon.com