"…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 23, 2013

My Window

There is no better place on earth,
Than right here by my window. 

Just outside, the babbling brook
Gives drink to squirrel and sparrow.

The peace that's here is mine to hold,
I offer it to others

But only those bold enough
To let go of their drama.

Worry is not welcome here;
It really has no purpose.

It wreaks great  havoc on the mind
And banishes the quiet.

There isn't a prettier place on earth
Than right here by my window.

I watch and listen to the world wake up
As I sit and count my blessings.

I love it here -- where he and I
Have lived out most our lives.

I see him all around me
In the birds and rampant vines.

And I think of him, how good he was –
Way down deep inside,

Beneath the layers of  stubborn distrust.
What is this life about?
      There isn't a more peaceful place on earth

      Than right here by my window.

Life is different since he passed,
But now I see it's more -- not less -- as I sit here by my window.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Karma -- what is it?

Sunrise Tuesday 12.3.13

Well, day 2 of the Desire and Destiny 21 Day Challenge (DD21DC) doesn't ask, "what do I want?" after all, so I don't have to address that issue yet.

One thing I see in these kinds of programs is that they are on a limited time schedule, so they ask these deep questions which may or may not bring forth an immediate answer, but they don't give the listener time to answer fully.  So I'm figuring out that if I want to receive the benefits of meditating, I'll have to give some of these questions more thought after I finish the day's meditation. Homework -- but I know it's going to be worth it.

BTW, I purchased the unlimited download of the DD21DC so I can go back through each day and keep up my practice of meditating. It also enables me to listen to what is said again and again in order to help me understand more fully and to pass the information along to those of you who are interested.

Today's subject was "karma".  What is it?  Most of us think of it in terms of "she did something mean so she's gonna get what's coming to her later." That's fairly accurate in a negative sense. But "karma" also works the other way. When we do nice things, that also comes back to us.

Karma turns our actions good and bad into boomerangs. Most of us put out some good and some bad daily so what we get back is a mix of blessings and curses.  One of the interesting things about all this is that because time passes between the thought boomerang leaving our hand (mind) and returning to us, we often forget about the thought or action we put out, so when the boomerang comes back, it bonks us in the head and we wonder, "Why the hell did that happen?" or "Where does this shit come from?"

The good news is that we have choices to make in each moment as to how we are going to behave or react and the choices we make effect our "karmic patterns".

As an example, let's say I'm pissed off.  I've been at work all day.  My feet hurt and I'm mad  -- because the shop is freezing, 51 degrees.  I go to pick up hamburgers and when I get home, they have my order all wrong.

To start with, I had a choice way back at the beginning of the day. I COULD HAVE asked that the heat be turned on for a little while, but me being who I am, I just put on another shirt (that made 4 layers) and continued to bitch quietly to myself  that it's too F-ing cold in there.

Some of you are wondering what does the shop being cold have to do with my order for hamburgers being all wrong? Herein lies the part of the problem with understanding the way our thoughts and especially our emotions work to bring about what we are living.  I spent six hours in a bad mood mostly because I was cold.  That's not an earth shattering vibration, so what came back to me a few hours later is also not an earth shattering vibration, it's just irritating -- just like being cold.

I had already made a mountain out of a mole hill by letting the temperature of the shop irritate me so much, but when I realized that the hamburger order being wrong, may have been the universe's response to me being so irritated because I was cold, I realized I had to handle the burger order being wrong better than I had handled the shop being cold or no telling what irritating thing would come next.   I know now that I have to get in a better mood in order to stop the flow of what I don't want.

For those of us who live  this mixture of good and bad, life feels ok.  It's acceptable.  We live for the good times, but if we could gain control of or change our karmic pattern by simply realizing that being mad or irritated doesn't serve us well at all, we could bring in more of the good stuff.  When we look for reasons to smile, for reasons to be happy more of the time it has a snowball effect.  Will bad times always come? Yes, of course, but, if you pay attention to the way you feel and make a concerted effort to stay in a good mood regardless what else is going on, the bad stuff won't come as frequently.

I know people who just seem to skate through life. They are always smiling because somehow, they have figured out that the better it gets, the better it gets.  I also know people who experience one disaster after another, because they have never figured out that the more they talk about their bad times, the worse it's going to get.

The law of attraction does not judge whether something is right or wrong, wanted or not wanted.  It matches up vibrations. Period.  So does Karma. And the sooner we figure that out, the better off we will all be.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Who am I?

lovely sunset November 2013
In the late '80's,  John Denver sang a song, "Looking for Space".  In it, like many songs of that era, he says, "I'm looking for space and to find out who I am."

Even though I had an incredible love for John Denver and his music, often, I had no idea what he was talking about.  How could anyone not know who they are?

I assumed I was Paula Johnson Bruno, high school dropout, wife, mother, daughter, flower shop worker bee, over worked and under paid, certainly under appreciated especially by me, closeted writer, lowly nobody from the "wrong" area of town (by that I mean not ridiculously prosperous), someone no body would remember except my immediate family.

Then at some point I realized that things are not what they seem and I embarked on a journey to find a better way to make the most of this gift we call "life".

Laverne's White clematis vine 2013
Recently, in that search, I discovered "meditating".  All my life, I had considered meditating something that monks and weirdoes did, but as science catches up with spiritual, I find that meditating every day has more benefits -- eventually -- than I have time to list.

I did the first "21 Day Meditation Challenge with Opra and Deepak Chopra" in October, then started the second one, "Desire and Destiny" in November so I could continue to cultivate the habit of meditating every morning.

Meditating is basically "quieting the mind", slowing down the chatter that goes on non stop, 24/7 for most of us. It involves paying attention to the breath, which, by the way, I had never given much thought except regarding how I feel when I can't catch mine.

But breathing is the most important body function we have. Without it, nothing else happens -- for long. So it is worth shining the light of appreciation on the fact that breath literally means "life", at least physical life.

On Day One of the "Desire and Destiny 21 Day Challenge" the listener is encouraged to ask the question, "Who am I?"

Have you ever asked yourself that?

It's one of the "soul questions" that, when answered can lead us to a deeper understanding of who we are and what we really want. The instructions said, "ask, then listen for the answer."

So, I asked and waited, asked and waited.  At first the only thing that came to mind was "I don't know", then general, all encompassing thoughts began to come like "child of the universe", "spiritual being" and "energy essence" which are probably true but didn't help much in answering the question, "Who am I?" but after about three days of asking myself that occasionally, I received this "word cloud".

My Chamo Kitty Cat

"Paula Bruno, writer, animal lover, birds, pigeons, turtle enthusiast, flowers, water catchment, gardener, plants, parrots, hummingbirds, moths, butterflies, dragonflies, rabbits, food, nostalgic signs, purple, red, tan, horses, cowboys, baseball, writing, poetry, western, local, designer, inspired and inspiring, meditation, enlightened, truth, compassionate, understanding, loved, loving, kind, kinder, and kindest, happy, joyful, interested, enthusiastic, law of attraction, Abraham, Seth, me, consciousness, appreciation, gratitude, quiet, family, laid back, tolerant, easy, nature, trees, grass, flowers, good will, rest, relaxation, fun, people, new ideas, friends, family, home, neat, clean, beautiful."

All of those words have something to do with who I am or who I want to be.

Notice nothing negative came in the word cloud that I received.  This description of me and what I want to be has a completely different feel than the first description I put down of who I once thought I was.

There is no point, no good to be had from listing all our negative qualities and failures, to beating our self up with them our whole life.  If you do that, stop it.  Right this minute.

It is sad to me that many of us live most of our lives with little understanding of how this all works and why we are here. It is even sadder that we live most of our life feeling the way we do about ourselves,

that we are "less than" in so many ways, for so
many different reasons -- when actually there is no such thing as one person being more important or more worthy than another.

I am a beginner at meditating.  I admit, that so far, I have not had any of the "wonderful" experiences that many who meditate claim to have.  But my feet feel better.  My knees are back to normal. I feel better than I ever have in my entire life.  That's worth a whole lot to me.

Day Two asks, "what do I want?" Believe it or not, that question wasn't any easier to answer.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks

I was out in the shop moving the furniture around to make the best use of the room, and I couldn't help but wonder, "what will my guests think of having Thanksgiving dinner in Ronnie's shop?"  I think they will enjoy it.  The shop gives off good vibes. It certainly will not be a traditional uncomfortable formal sit down dinner where you have to wonder if you're using the right fork, because here, there is no right fork, so relax and enjoy.

We're going to feast on Texas style chicken and dressing with mashed potatoes, green beans and corn. My sorta son-in-law, Andy, is smoking a turkey, and making his famous pea salad. My sister Peggy is cooking cornbread dressing with jalapeños, giblet gravy,  Brussels sprouts cooked with Parmesan cheese and spices -- and a pecan pie. Our  friends Grace Warihay and her daughter, Janet and Janet's husband, Philip are going to bring some yeast rolls, deviled eggs and egg nog with brandy! Dottie Laseur is making a new kind of "Monkey Bread".  My niece, Whitney and her man, Juan, are bringing pumpkin empanadas, and I made some fresh pumpkin pies. Deidre made chocolate chip pecan cookies. My niece Alesha and her husband, Sam are coming. My son, Ronnie and his partner, Michael will be here and there's no telling what they will show up with.

We'll have iced tea, coffee and water. Some will have wine and beer.

We are not going to eat on fine China.  We'll use paper plates, paper towels, and plastic cups.

I'll have the neon lights on and we're gonna have National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation playing on the big screen tv.

We have Deidre's  long wooden table and four chairs, plus the big couch, a recliner and 5 lawn chairs. The big Dearborn is on to take the chill off, but hopefully by the time we actually serve Thanksgiving dinner, we'll be able to open the big door and let the beautiful sky light things up for us.

We'll have a bond fire when it starts getting chilly again and we'll stand close and talk and laugh.  We'll hear some new stories and maybe I'll learn some new words to use in my books.

This is a time to give thanks for all the goodness that comes our way every day in so many different forms, a friendly nod, a warm hand shake, a thank you note, an email or facebook message. A wagging tail, a laughing child, Cardinals and finches visiting the feeders. It's a squirrel peeking in my bedroom window, deciding there is no threat here and stretching out on my window sill to enjoy the morning sun.

We are taught from birth to aspire for the "finer things in life" but to me there is nothing "finer" than feeling relaxed and comfortable with my friends and family, not being afraid to show my true self, not being afraid to expect the best from others.  Life is for loving and having fun.

The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins said it best, "It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life."

I love you all!  Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Back to Blogging -- because not posting here doesn't get the books written either.

sunrise near Wichita Falls, November 2013

I publicly swore off blogging on October 3, 2013, in order to focus on getting the third book in the Kirkland Family Saga finished -- but it didn't help. Fifty five days later, nearly two months, the story is moving forward but not much faster than when I wasn't blogging.

What I've found is that life has an effect on me.  Different things people say, the attitudes they share with me cause reactions and thought processes that can not be stifled.  Before I swore off blogging, that's what I did here -- found ways of sharing those experiences that touch me deeply in one way or another.

When I decided to stop blogging, I think I just made the problem worse because the experiences got all clogged up in my mind.

So, I'm back.

Fourteen days ago I started the second 21 Day Meditation Series with Deepak Chopra and Opra. (It's free! All you have to do is sign up.)

From the beginning, I took notes because some of it is so powerful, I didn't want to forget it.
October sky, 2013, taken by Greg Baker in Dallas

I want to share some of the things I'm learning, and some of the things I have been reminded of.

Day 14, three days before we, as a nation, give thanks for whatever amount of bounty we have, the centering thought for this day's meditation is "gratitude is my prayer."

Every day, Opra opens the day's session with her own understanding of the day's mediation.  Today, she talked about how powerful the attitude of gratitude is. She got my full attention when she quoted Meister Eckhart (never heard of him.  Googled him.  He's a German philosopher from the late 1200's).

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is 'thank you', it will be enough."

In other words, being grateful and appreciative of the blessings that we already have is the single most
powerful thing we can do to change our life. When we say "thank you, we acknowledge all that God and the Universe have already given us.

One of the tripping places for a lot of us, is that we are so aware that others have more than we do. One thing I have learned in the past 22 years of studying the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, Seth, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Greg Braden, Neal Donald Walsch and others, is that what someone else has, or doesn't have, has nothing to do with what's going on in my life.

We, each one of us, is responsible for learning to "think" in patterns that allow abundance to flow to us. Many of us just flat out can not accept that we create what's happening in our lives with our thoughts, so we don't even try to change the way we think.

But according to all the new wisdom that is spreading in waves all around the world, thanks to the invention of the computer and the internet, if you will acknowledge your blessings every day for ONE MONTH, you will see a change, mostly in how you feel.  Who doesn't want to FEEL BETTER?  but other good stuff will follow shortly.

So, what are our blessings?  They are different for each of us.  Those in less comfortable circumstances than I am, may have a harder time identifying what their blessings are, but some of those who live in total comfort and affluence, may have just as much difficulty figuring out where they have been blessed.

So lets begin with waking up each morning with a brand new day in front of us.  This should be  -- if not exciting, at the very least, a relief.

Being able to swing my legs off the bed, put my wonderful, strong, comfortable feet on the floor and stand up is something I will never take for granted again. Every day, I am aware how wonderful it is to be healthy and strong, to be able to walk, to go outside and tend to the pigeons and chickens.

I am thankful that I live in the United States. With all our faults and problems, it is a beautiful country, a wonderful country to live in and be part of.  It is America, the Beautiful in every sense of the word.

I am grateful for my beautiful comfortable home.  I appreciate that it is paid for.  I am grateful for the warm air in the winter and the cool air in the summer. I love and appreciate my big windows that allow me to watch what's going on outside. I love and appreciate the critters that come to my yard every day.

I'm always thrilled to the core when I see beautiful sunrises and sunsets, huge puffy clouds against a brilliant blue sky, and the blackened sky that promises rain.  I love waking up to the sound of heavy rain that has come during the night while most of us are in bed and our negativity regarding the drought, water restrictions and dry lakes has been laid to rest while we sleep.

I'm grateful for my pooches, Shelbie, Sox and Breck Roscoe Gentry, my kitty, Chamo, and even for Chester, the mean green screaming and biting machine.That parrot has taught me more about patience and tolerance than any other single experience in my life. I'm grateful for the two Tiels, Tiel Bird and Fancy. They are the ultimate pet bird experience.

I am grateful that I am a writer.  I'm grateful for the characters who run rampant in my mind and eventually force me to sit down and put their experiences into words.  I'm grateful to all those who read my books and enjoy the characters. I'm grateful for those who read my blog and enjoy it -- and even those who don't.

I am grateful for music that stirs my soul, music that uplifts and makes me feel like dancing in my car. I'm grateful for all those who write it and play the instruments.  I'm grateful for the geniuses in this world that create the luxuries that make our lives so much easier and more fun.

I love and appreciate Facebook because it allows us to share all kinds of things from recipes to cute animal pictures and videos, pictures and videos of our family and friends, words of wisdom and encouragement.

More than anything else, I'm grateful for the wonderful folks who came to be my family and friends, to  enriched my life in ways too numerous to count.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

No More Blogging

Writing takes a lot of time.When I write a blog post, I may work on it for several weeks before I click on  the "publish" tab.

Writing novels requires a time commitment that I have let other things, such as blogging, interrupt.  I am at page 178 in the third novel in the Kirkland Family Saga, "When Hell Freezes Over".  I thought when I started this story that I would be able to get it written inside a year.  I was well on my way when Ronnie got sick, three years ago.  I didn't write at all during the year before he passed on and very little since then. After making some changes, I'm still right around the same page count that I had three years ago.

I have had to start a new life where I feel obligated to do the things that he did before.  I haven't been able to shake off the sense of value, the work ethic that I developed while being married to him for 45 years.

I work three days a week at the flower shop, then most of my four off, in the yard. I try to keep the trees and shrubs alive, tend to Ronnie's thriving pigeon flock, keep my car clean, take it out to get the oil changed and the tires rotated, keep the tags, inspection and insurance current. I try to keep the house tidy like he and I always enjoyed, but it gets messy.  Deidre and I are both a little bit scattered brained and Seth certainly doesn't help us with our inability to focus on much of anything until it is completely finished.

I play with Seth. I play with my dogs.  I watch Texas Ranger's baseball every night during the regular season. I was actually kinda glad they didn't make it to post season so I could have my life back.

I feel responsible to continue Ronnie's  passions and yet they interfere with my own. My passion has always been writing, primarily fiction. I've enjoyed this blog because it gives me a place to share stuff that isn't going to show up in my novels -  but it is also consuming my time as surely as the yard work and all the other stuff he always took care of.

I have decided to discontinue my association with Toastmasters. I've enjoyed every minute of the TM meetings but writing speeches and practicing is another time consumer that I need to let go of - at least until I get myself back on a novel writing path.

So I'm not going to be here for a while. I'm going to be out on a fictional ranch with a bunch of figments of my imagination until this book has "THE END -- or maybe not" written on the last page.  After all, I already have the title of the fourth book in the Saga -- "When Hell Broke Loose" -- and baseball season starts again in April.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


my dining area before deciding "less is more"
I have too much stuff -- at least, I do in my opinion.  Dotti Laseur told me my house is boring because I don't have enough art.  But she didn't see it when I had pictures from the floor to the ceiling on every wall in the house. Then I met Kurt Specht and saw his beautiful home in Dallas that looked like nobody lived there because it was so clean and uncluttered, and I fell in love with "less is more".

I have figured out that everything that we decide we need to "own" comes with some kind of responsibility -- even knick knacks.  First I have to find a suitable place to put them where they are safe from free flying parrots, dogs and little kids.  Figurines and pictures and knickknacks have to be dusted. I hate to dust, so I put them all away, or moved them to my bedroom, where the floor to ceiling continues.

Cars have an immense responsibility attached to them in the form of insurance and maintenance, Having many vehicles was one of Ronnie's dreams, not mine. Having four extras to license, maintain and insure was more financial responsibility than I wanted to deal with so I sold the van with the power lift and the little Chevy. I gave Ronnie's white Chevy truck to his brother, John and sold the 37 Ford to his brother, Bruce. Now I just have the Kia and space in the garage to put her if I need to.

Owning a home carries it's own set of responsibilities, including keeping the yard tidy so the neighbors don't ask you why you haven't already moved into an apartment.

A year or so after Ronnie passed on, I started clearing out some of his stuff -- stuff that I had no use for, stuff that I can't even identify. Eventually I began seeing some clear spaces where I put my own stuff that I don't need either. What is it about stuff that we keep it even though we don't use it regularly? Some of it, I don't use at all.

Andy Pruett put in some new shelves in the garage and those shelves sucked up stuff so fast it made my head spin and now they are full and there is still stuff everywhere, old dishes, old cooking utensils, old tools and car parts and lawn care items, cans of carburetor cleaner and old car wax.  When I go out there to do some more clearing out, I just feel overwhelmed by it all and usually just turn around and come back inside.

Which brings me to one of the solutions to finding new stuff that I think I need, but have no place to put and I certainly don't need any new responsibilities. My iPhone camera!

I have discovered that I can take a picture of things and enjoy showing the picture as much as the thing itself.  This picture is an example of that.
8 x 10  Loving Touch,  Artist unknown to me
                                                                                        This pencil drawing was entered in the Mystery Art Festival last year at the Kemp Center for the Arts.  By the time I got there, the bidding on it was already up to $95. The bidding was done in increments of $5 and when a picture reached $100, it went to live auction, starting at $100. From there the sky could have been the limit.

Even though with every fiber of my being, I wanted to hang this picture in my bedroom where I could see it as soon as I open my eyes, I also knew that I did not need to spend that much money on a piece of art, so I took a picture of it.

I learned how to "take a screen shot from a selection" and in utilizing that function on my Mac, I was able to eliminate the frame.  I love this picture!  It captures the beauty of the horses in such detail, it almost looks like a photograph.  In my opinion, it was the best piece there. Whoever the artist of Loving Touch is, I celebrate your talent.  This is nothing short of awesome! And I can look at it any time I want to.

A few weeks ago, my sister, Peggy and I drove to Decatur to meet some friends for lunch.  After eating, we went browsing through the antique shops around the square.  Peggy nearly had a melt down when she found a toy truck exactly like the one we played with when we were girls.  Old toys are worth a pretty penny now and the price tag on the truck was $85.

"Joe will s*** if he figures out I paid $85 for that,"she reminded herself quietly.  So she walked away from it. But later we had to pass that store again, so we went back inside to look at the childhood memory one more time. "Take a picture of it," I said, and she did. So did I.

toy farm truck from the late 1940's or early 50's

Now we can both enjoy seeing the truck but neither of us had to spend $85 in order to relive that wonderful time of our lives.

I bought new furniture not long after Ronnie passed on.  That big couch we purchased a few years before he got sick seemed to take up the whole living room, so when Deidre moved to Mineral Wells, I sent the big couch with her.  This new set, a couch and a love seat, would serve as a good example of something I SHOULD HAVE just taken a picture of.  It is not comfortable.  It might do for a formal living area where no one is going to sit very long, but when I watch a ball game or a movie, I end up with my back on the seat, my legs stretched out in front of me and my neck bent. It is not comfortable to sleep on either.  The arm rests are too hard to be comfortable as a pillow and too high to accommodate a real pillow. Both are too short to stretch out on between the arm rests, so basically the things are useless. They are neat looking though, which is why I bought them.  It never occurred to me that they wouldn't be comfortable.

Which brings me to the couch I did take a picture of.  This would look so awesome in my living room, but because I already have two couches - the uncomfortable one in the living room and the big one that came home with Deidre from Mineral Wells is out in the shop, I can not buy this. As a defense mechanism, I didn't even sit on this one so I have no idea if it is as comfy as it looks.

scratches from the big couch coming in
Deidre says sell the pretty, uncomfortable ones on craigslist, but selling stuff is always a hassle for me. Getting anything big out of this house is always a problem because of the fence around the sidewalk and the three steps up.  Then there is the same problem of getting the new one inside. Every time I buy something big, my front door ends up with a new scratch.

The red couch would go nicely with the Texas Rangers chair and the bright alcohol ink on glass paintings I bought recently from Cindy Kahler Thomas, but I have the picture and the couch is probably gone by now -- and even if it isn't, I'd rather not know because I don't need another couch.
I do not need another couch, red or not, I don't need another couch.

Taking a picture doesn't always satisfy me, though.  I took pictures of this silly little boy dog, named Breck Roscoe Gentry, and spent half a day trying to talk myself out of offering him a new forever home, but I failed and now he's here causing all kinds of trouble -- but he still makes me smile. He's long and skinny. He feels like June Bug and he keeps these old girls active.

I've long known that if I walk away from something I think I want, if it is meant to be mine, I'll go back for it.  If it was meant to be mine, it will be there when I go back.  And it's interesting that I remember the things I went back to get and they were there, but I don't remember the things I missed.

Saturday, August 31, 2013


Bruno's Birmingham Rollers

What is forgiveness?  How do you know when you have accomplished it?

The newest information from all the peacemakers of our time, is that forgiving yourself and others for mistakes and wrong doing, is the key to good health, happiness and wellbeing.

When some one breaks our heart, in whatever manner, whether in the traditional sense, as when they take our love and misuse it, or lie to us or steal from us, we are supposed to forgive them -- not for their good, but for our own.

beautiful painting

Nearly every day I read new evidence supporting the fact that holding a grudge, regardless of how justified we are in feeling the way we do, is detrimental to our bodies and our sense of wellbeing, that forgiving ourselves and others is the first step to healing our spirit and our bodies.

I am not arguing with this.  In fact, I know it's true.

The reason I'm bringing this up is because I had a surprise recently.  The (Not so) Handyman knocked on my front door.

For those of you who are new to reading my blog, I hired this young man to fix the rotten floor in my bedroom about five months after my husband passed on. Handyman seemed like a nice young man.  He knew some people I know. A friend of mine knew his mother.  He gave me an estimate that I could live with so I hired him to do the work.

Bruno's Treehouse

Two months later, when I fired him, he had torn up more than he had fixed. The shoddy work he did in the kitchen/dining area (which he was doing because he let spray paint settle on my black and white tile floor then couldn't  get it off) was so bad, it took laying three floors and one full year before it was done right.

To this day, there are several places in my house that remind me of him every time I see them and I go back to those gut wrenching months that  he was working here -- and long after he was gone.

When he tore up my beautiful, welcoming home, my shelter in a storm, my peaceful corner of the world, he broke my heart -- at a time when I was more vulnerable than I had ever been before. He did a major number on my sense of wellbeing, and my ability to trust other people. When I think back over the two years after Ronnie died, the only thing I can remember in full detail is what the (Not So) Handyman did to my house.

So now, here he stands on my front porch.  I'm not thinking about much of anything but "What the hell is he doing here?"

purple clematis 2013
As it turned out, he'd come to see if he'd left some paint sprayer tips at my house -- nearly two years ago. They were his dad's expensive ones and he needs to find them -- now -- two years later?

I was cordial. "I don't know if you left them here or not, " I said.  I did not offer to let him look for them.

I could have said, "I'll give them to you if you'll give me the 400 square feet of underlayment and the 8 boxes of wood flooring that you stole from me," but since I don't have his dad's paint sprayer tips, I didn't. If he did leave them here, I threw them out or gave them to the next guys I hired to clean up his mess.

So back to the subject of forgiveness, how does one go about that?

Obviously, I am not going to forget what he did here.  I would never hire him to do anything for me again, nor would I recommend him to a friend -- or even a stranger.

By now I'm sure some of you are wondering why I think I should forgive him.

Well, because I know that holding onto the anger and resentment toward him is effecting my health.

lovely evening sky 2013
Everything else in my life is going great. I love where I am right now. Financially, I am ok.  I'm not mad at anyone except him.   I'm happy. I enjoy my job and the people I work with.  I have lots of new friends and some old friends. I've finally regained my "writing legs" and the third novel in the Kirkland Family Saga is moving forward again.  Ideas are flowing more smoothly than they have in several years.  My family is loving and supportive of me and each other. Life is good.  Everything is working out for me. All is well --- except that my feet hurt and recently, my knees.

I feel stove up, as the old timers use to say.

I have proven to myself on many occasions that I can improve the way I feel physically by changing the way I think, so when my knees started feeling swollen and stiff, I began a concerted effort to heal them by counting my blessings, paying attention to all the goodness in my life and looking for reasons to smile and laugh  -- and it's working. My knees feel much more normal now than they have in three weeks.

But my feet still hurt.

So I'm trying to figure out how to rid myself of this anger, this ongoing fury, resentment, insult and
S&H Green Stamps
loathing that I feel toward this young man.

I am well aware that time heals all wounds, but it's been nearly two years and if I let myself go there -- as I did above -- the fury is still very much alive and well.

After seeing him standing on my front porch, looking for his dad's tools that he lost two years ago, thinking about all the hell he must have been taking for losing the tools, and how much nerve it took for him to come back to my house and ask me for anything, after everything he did and everything I said to him when I fired him, I realized how sorry the whole situation was.

When I looked back at this from the perspective of all that I know about the Law of Attraction, I had a bit of an epiphany which feels like it may help solve my dilemma. I see, now, that there was no way, given that I felt lower than ever before in my entire life, at the time I hired him, that it could have turned out to be anything but a disaster. Looking at it from this perspective also tells me that if it hadn't been him, it would have been someone else equally as dastardly, so blaming him is pointless. In fact, the responsibility of all of it, is mine.  The attraction of the whole crappy situation came from my vibrational output.  The Universe matched me up with someone who's vibrations were as sad as my own.

In discussing this with myself, I wrote, "It happened, it's over, leave it behind and move on."

Hopefully, this feeling of relief is the beginning of forgiveness, the beginning of letting it go.

By the way, the pictures I chose for this post are just a few of the much loved and appreciated blessings in my life.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

From Ugly to Sweet

It isn't very often that we get to watch the creative process from beginning to end as it unfolds for someone else.  We see it in our own projects,  but with creative endeavors of others, we may see the before and after, but we miss the middle.  We miss the details.

That is not the case with the "duct tape chair".

Several weeks ago, our friend Brandon Sparks was visiting and mentioned that he had covered a wallet in duct tape for his sister, Chelsea.  Deidre and I imagined a wallet covered in ugly silver duct tape, but Brandon said, "No!  It's the latest fad.  People are making all kinds of things out of it and it comes in bright colors and prints."

So we googled "duct tape" and saw evening gowns, evening wear for guys, purses and wallets and -- a chair.  We watched a young girl completely cover a chair in bright mis-matched strips of duct tape.  It was cool -- rather busy but a conversation piece for sure.

Deidre said, "I could cover that recliner out in the shop."
I said, "Go for it!"

The chair is one of two rocker recliners that I had bought from Ashley Furniture two years before Ronnie got sick.  After he was diagnosed, we noticed the "bonded leather" was beginning to peel.  To make a long story short, it got worse and after Ronnie passed away, I had them both moved out into his shop.  Eventually, my sort of son in law, Andy, hauled the worst one to the dump and we kept the better one.

from ugly ---


              It looked like this.

"So, what color would we put on it?" I asked.

"Red, white and blue for the Texas Rangers?"

"Wow!  That sounds great!"

We had already decided to eventually have a Texas Rangers theme in our evolving Lady Cave. Red, white and blue seemed perfect.

So we bought rolls and rolls of red, white and blue duct tape and the work began.

Deidre called me in to look at a picture of the Texas Rangers Logo on the computer.  "I think I can
do this for the back of the chair."

Official logo of the Texas Rangers

Notice the lacing on the baseball, all the little
points on the letters, and the blue as well as the white shadows on the big T.                                          

I had no idea HOW she would be able to accomplish this complicated logo, but she never ceases to amaze me, so I said, "Have at it. We don't have anything to lose.  It's a duct tape chair."

In anticipation of this project eventually being a"WOW!!", and writing a blog post about it,  I took pictures during the process.

On the official Texas Rangers' website, she found drawings of the logo available to be printed out for coloring books, so she performed "computer magic" (as far as I'm concerned, that's what it is), and printed it in quarters in order to get it large enough to look good on the back cushion of the chair.

What looks like ragged edges here is the lacing

All summer while she worked on the chair, we noticed the effects that the heat had on the duct tape when it was out on the patio so she brought it inside.  I slowly began to wonder where I would put it when it was finished, since the Lady Cave no longer seemed like a good idea.

--- to sweet --- side by side images

She finished it this past weekend, and we are both so pleased with it, we decided to keep it in the living room.  We had some rearranging to do.  She moved the 50 in. tv to the largest wall and relocated the cable outlet while I rearranged the pictures (art work).

We gave the chair the area in front of my big new windows, set a small table next to it and a pole lamp with a red shade.   It looks like it belongs!

We took pictures of it and posted them on the official Texas Rangers Twitter site, hoping our favorite Rangers baseball analysts, Buzz and Tom, with Fox Sports Southwest, will show the chair during a game.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Thanks, Deidre! I love it! And I'm looking forward to seeing what you'll do with the floor in the Lady Cave!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Newest Horrible Awful Thing

my Sunflower
What is it about people that we can't wait to spread bad news? We get up early, turn on the tv, or pick up the newspaper and look for the worst of the most recent news, then we hurry to work or out to meet friends or family to tell everybody what we saw or what we read.  It's like we get some kind of Brownie Points from God for being the first too tell about the newest horrible awful thing.

I remember the first time I read that we create our own reality and that we do it with thought, it scared the fire out of me.  I wanted to believe that was just a bunch of garbage because I took a brief inventory of my most recent thought processes and realized that if it's true -- that we do create our own reality with thought, then I'm in deep shit.

But I kept on reading and learning and eventually I came across the reminder that everything is energy, that what we see with our eyes is an interpretation of vibration, what we hear is an interpretation of vibration.  Same with taste and touch and smell.  It is all vibrational interpretation that helps us navigate in our physical world.

Another tidbit of information I found very useful, is that we humans are very picky about what we wear, what we eat, what cars we drive -- but we aren't a bit picky about what we think about. I for one, before I started on my path to become a happier person, would watch a horror flick and go pretty deep into "what if that happened to me?  or to one of my kids?"

After discovering and accepting that I do create my own reality and that it is done with thought, I decided if I'm going to play a "what if" game, I'm going to play a positive "what if" game.  What if this good thing were to happen, what if that good thing were to happen? Wouldn't it be nice if this happened or that happened?

Recently, a friend was on the verge of telling me the newest horrible awful thing, (you can usually tell when it starts out with "OMG! Did you hear about ---  such and such.") so I cut him off with, "If this is awful, I don't want to hear it."  He was clearly set on telling it anyway, so I repeated myself. "If this is something awful, I don't want to hear it." Then he asked, "Well, don't you want to be informed?" and my answer? "No.  Not about stuff like that."

And this is one area where I have some work to do.  When I hear horrible awful things, my physical
being literally aches.  It takes a long while to rid myself of the images conjured up by those who want to make damn sure that I am aware of every single cruel, despicable aspect of the most current horrible awful thing.

I chose several years ago to stop watching the news.  I cancelled my newspaper subscription and I very seldom click on news links that pop up when I sign on to AOL to get my mail.

Seth and Bella playing at Donna Tate's house
Through reading and listening to a host of inspirational speakers and those who are far more enlightened than I am, I have decided to mind my own business.  And what is my business, you might ask?  It's the same as your's -- trying to find ways to bring joy into my life.

Breck Roscoe Gentry and Andy Pruett
I have enough, but as with everything that is fun and pleasant, I want more! So I look for things that make me smile and here are some of them:

hearing my two black and white dogs, one old, one young, romping around the yard with each other, playing, growling, occasionally barking,

early in the morning, hearing my grandson's little voice behind the closed bedroom door talking and visiting with his mama,

Having him sneak up behind me and hide, giggling the whole time,

seeing my 330 gallon water tote in place waiting to fill up the next time it rains,

looking out my beautiful new window and seeing the soft pink Cleome, the hot pink Bougainvillea and rose colored Princess Feathers blooming just outside, and knowing that because the Cleome are producing seed pods, I'll have them again next year,

listening to my waterfall and the symphony of the birds as the world wakes up to a brand new day, hearing my rooster, Gallo Cogburn announcing "Wake up, Ya'll!"

realizing that all my hard work is paying off, that Ronnie's shop is nearly cleared of the unidentifiable stuff, the junk he refused to throw away and the things that we won't ever use,

envisioning the Texas Rangers logo that Deidre is going to paint on the floor in our "Lady Cave".

seeing Deidre's Texas Rangers duct tape chair nearing completion,

One of Ronnie's treasures,
hand carved by prisoner, sold for 10 cents
watching the grass turn to vivid green everywhere after a good down pour,

finding a tiny piece of history that Ronnie tucked away somewhere and remembering what he told me about it when he acquired it,

being told by the framer for Arrowhead Roofing that the structure of my cedar patio cover, which Ronnie and his brother, Jerry, built is sound and that they will not charge me to rip off what they put on a few weeks ago and replace it with new cedar and new metal roofing.

new friends, Kelly and Shelby
knowing that the second wave of patio cover work is still being paid for through the insurance claim.

driving to Decatur to meet my son and his friends for dinner. Driving to Decatur to meet friends for lunch.

seeing old friends, seeing new friends, realizing how many friends I have.

going to work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and smelling the wonderful fragrance of the flowers mixed with my boss's Angel cologne.

having a stranger call to tell me how much she enjoyed reading Come Hell or High Water and The Hell About Stallions and that she's looking forward to the third book,

realizing how much my life has changed since Ronnie passed on, that I'm okay, that it is different but wonderful in so many ways.

Now why would I want to bring myself down from this high by thinking about the current most horrible awful thing?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

How do I feel? How do you feel?

Seth petting Turtle Girl while she eats

Music and poetry have always had a big influence on me.  Many years ago, when I was a teenager, my heart was broken.  I felt -- I don't know how to describe how I felt, but it wasn't good.  It was during the mid 1960's. Simon and Garfunkle had released the song, "I am a Rock." I fixed the record player where it would play the song over and over again, and I fell asleep listening to it. When I woke up, I felt different.  I felt stronger emotionally and much less likely to get my feelings hurt.  In some ways, those words, "A rock feels no pain" served me well, but now I think they also put a damper on my ability to express excitement and joy.

I  worked on developing an outward show of excitement for a while, but it just felt  -- well, fake  -- like it was a struggle, like it was something I was forcing myself to do for the benefit of those around me, who often comment on my lack of enthusiasm when something great is going on.

It isn't that I don't feel joy or excitement, I just don't express it outwardly.  It does come out on its own though, in a genuine sense of pleasure when I greet family and friends, especially those I haven't seen for a while, when I see my children and grandchildren or pictures of them on Facebook or email. Cute animal pictures and videos of the wonderful things people can do always bring forth that feeling of wonder and joy. It comes out when I get a good hug from someone I love, not one of those half hearted limp arm obligatory exchanges that leaves neither participant feeling much of anything due to the encounter.
White moth

On a daily basis, most of us are up and down in our vibrational output, so we get a little bit of crappy stuff and mostly good stuff (if you stop to notice all the things in your life that you appreciate, you'll see I'm right).

As I understand it, we attract  a combination of stuff based on the vibrations we put out, so would I attract even more good stuff into my life if I were to be able to develop that outward show of excitement?

According to what I've read, the universe doesn't distinguish the difference in what we feel and what we imagine we are feeling, which is why daydreaming is important in the attraction of the things we  want. So if I imagine I'm excited, even if that vision feels false, what is my vibration?  Low or high? I don't know.

I can't even begin to conjure up a vision of me jumping up and down in excitement like the contestants on "The Price is Right" -- over anything!

The problem with this is that if Ronnie were to walk through the door right now, I'd say something like "Gee!  it's so good to see you! I'm glad you're back" I'd  hug him long and tight. I'd feel excited that he'd come back, but he would walk away, saying to himself. "She didn't seem very glad to see me."

It's happened before.  Of course he hadn't come back from the dead, but you get the point. He and I had numerous discussions about my lack of ability to show enthusiasm.  However, I didn't connect the song with this inability to show my joy, until I gained a better understanding of this vibrational world we live in and how our subconscious mind works. It never sleeps.  So while I was snoozing, the words to that song were lodging in my subconscious mind.

Pink Cleome and red Princess Feathers
So, I listen to music that makes me feel good, songs that have a positive message. Just before Ronnie passed on, my friend Peter Nielsen posted a link on Facebook to the video for the Abba song "Move On", which we used at the end of Ronnie's memorial service.  You can watch it here. The video shows video after video of children adults and old folks smiling and laughing, kissing and hugging each other, playing and dancing in the rain. The song is inspiring all by itself  with it's message that life is to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest and when tragedy strikes, we have to move on.

According to all that I've read about vibration, the more we can find to be happy about, the higher our vibration is and the more good things come to us, so when I feel down, I watch the video again.  It always lifts my spirits and puts me back in the higher vibration.

The more we watch sad videos of cruelty and neglect, war and it's atrocities, illness and tragic deaths, the lower our vibration goes and the more likely it becomes that some kind of low vibration stuff will enter our lives in one form or another.  There is a bit of information that apparently has never gained widespread acceptance and that is, we CAN NOT get sad enough to help those who are in bad situations. We can watch the videos all we want and announce to our Facebook community how much we agonized over it, but while we are doing that and even while we are typing it out, we are  in a very low vibration and the law of attraction isn't concerned with whether we want something awful to happen in our reality, it is only matching up vibrations.

I refuse to watch that low vibration stuff that comes my way on Facebook and further more, I remove it from my newsfeed.  I've begun blocking those who repeatedly post this stuff.

The more thought we give to something the bigger it gets, so why not give our attention to the stuff that makes us feel good?

Several years ago, I decided to try it for a month just to see if anything would change.  So I got a spiral notebook.  I wrote the date and time at the top of the page and I began with this affirmation :  "As I begin this day, my dominant intent is to feel good.  Nothing is more important or more essential to my wellbeing than that I feel good, so today, regardless of where I am, what I'm doing, who is with me or what is going on around me, I will look for things to be pleased about."  Right from the beginning, I realized I FELT better.  I felt more cheerful, more certain that even the worst times in my life will work out to at least an okay resolution.

Over the years, it has gotten steadily better.   I'm not talking about material things.  In that category, I'm pretty much in the same place I was twenty years ago, but I feel better, I feel stronger, I'm more energetic and happier than I have ever been before and THAT means more to me than all the money in the world.

Keep in mind that we all owe it to ourselves and our Creator to enjoy as much of this life as possible. So look for joy in everything you have to do.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Moving On

Recently someone close to me, said "I'm not like her.  I can't just go on with my life."

When I heard that she had said that, I wondered, "Why can't you?  Why do you continue to live in an unhappy situation just because you no longer have your husband?"

When we were told that Ronnie's days here were numbered, I was scared.  I had been married to him for 44 years.  We did most things together.  He took care of all the heavy stuff.  He built things, he fixed things. We made decisions together.  We fought and we played together, and we loved each other through hell and high water, and I assure you, we had both.

He planned for our retirement and although nothing regarding our retirement turned out the way he planned, I'm ok.

I'm fortunate that my daughter, Deidre, lives with me, but I know and she knows that should she decide to move out, I'll be ok. I can handle it.  One way or another, everything works out.

I still think about what used to be, and if I stay there too long, I can feel the fear associated with  negative "what if's" nudging at my peace of mind, so I turn my thoughts toward things I enjoy, people I enjoy, and the sadness goes away.  Jesus said, "Turn the other cheek" and this is what he was talking about.  When what you are looking at or remembering, or considering doing, makes you feel bad in any way, turn away from it.  When you turn away from the problem, you turn in the direction of the solution. Find something else to think about. Jesus knew the power of thought.

Recently, somebody posted the picture at the right. "Don't look back.  You aren't going that way."

I'm not going that way either.  Every thing I want is either ahead or going on right now.

I can't have Ronnie back. I can't have the security of knowing if I want something built, he's here to do it.  If I need to unload a 50 pound bag of bird seed, he'll do it for me.  He's not here to cook my lunch when I'm at work, or snuggle up next to me in bed at night.

If I could change one thing about the past, it would be that he lived the last five months of his life paralyzed and helpless. For a strong man, a capable man, that was devastating.  I wish that hadn't happened to him.

But everything that happens in our lives gives us the opportunity to learn something.  I learned many things while Ronnie was sick, but for me, the "big lesson" in what happened to him is that I want to take care of my own life.  I want to make my own decisions.  I am free to do it my way for the first time in my life.  I won't look back.  The best days of my new life are ahead.

My advice to anyone who finds it difficult to let go of what use to be -- it's not hard, but you have to be determined to be okay with the changes and move on.  Refusing to turn around and head forward is a waste of time.  But -- you can look back as long as you want to.  It's your choice.

Late in the night after we were told that Ronnie had an incurable form of cancer, we were lying in the hospital bed together.  A thunderstorm was raging outside and I had raised the blinds all the way so we could watch. "Don't waste a lot of time being sad about this," he said.  "You've still got a life to live, so get on with it."

I am.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

DIY -- Do it Yourself!

I was married to a fix-it man for forty five years.  He never wanted me to struggle so even with my own projects, if he saw I was having a hard time with it, he would jump in and take over.

So -- eventually, I fully embraced “I can’t.”

Then he died. And my daughter moved out of town for a while and I learned how to do lots of stuff myself.

After a wind storm, I got up one morning to find literally hundreds of twigs laying everywhere in the back yard.  I was planning to something else later in the day but I knew from experience by the time I finished picking up all those twigs, I’d be too tired to go to whatever it was I had planned to do later.  Then a lightbulb came on in my head.  I got my grabber and within 45 minutes, I had it all picked up and deposited in a area to use as kindling for the chiminea.

In the front yard, Ronnie had made flowerbeds in the middle of the yard.  He lined them with big natural rocks that we had gotten below the original spillway at Lake Wichita after they lowered the level of the lake.  These made mowing a nightmare so I decided to do away with the flower beds, but most of the rocks were too heavy for me to lift so I devised another way to move them.  I have a long handled four prong digger.  I used this to roll the rocks into place. It worked great and while it was not easy, it was far easier than picking up the biggest rocks.

Cara Brookins' amazing DIY house
Two years ago at a writers’ conference in Oklahoma City, I met an amazing and interesting young woman named Cara Brookins.  I was fascinated by her because – she and her two teenagers built their two story house from the ground up – by themselves.  They poured the concrete, installed the plumbing and electrical wiring. They did it all with Do it Yourself videos on Youtube. She said most of what they used were instructional videos produced for Lowes and Home Depot.

I thought about Cara and the DIY videos one day after I did something I knew not to do.  I emptied the gasoline can into the lawnmower.  Moisture collects in the can and when you empty it, the water also goes in the mower.  Well, midway through mowing the back yard,  the mower sputtered and stopped and I couldn’t get it started again.  So I went to youtube and searched for a video to show me how to get the gasoline out of the lawnmower.

The video I watched was way more complicated than I was willing to try, so I asked my sort of son in law to come fix it.  He ambles over, puts a flat pan on the ground, takes off the gas cap, turns the lawnmower upside down, and all the gas ran out into the pan.  He put the lawnmower upright, filled it with fresh gas and it started on the second pull. “That’s not how they did it on youtube,” I said. 

He kind of grinned. “I didn’t go to youtube.”

my 120 gallon water catchment system
My daughter consulted diy videos when her iPhone quit because it got wet.  She wasn’t due an update for another year and a new phone would cost two hundred dollars so she – being a  fixit person like her dad, researched what was wrong with the phone on the internet, bought the parts and with the help of a diy video, she opened the phone and eventually got it fixed. She’s still using it.

When I decided I wanted to have a rain water storage system, I went to Youtube and searched “diy water storage” and up pops numerous videos from simple to complicated.  So I showed several of them to my daughter.  She sent me and her three year old son, Seth out to my sister’s house one afternoon and when we came back, I had this water catchment system.

I tend to tackle simplier things myself.  I have a friend who has a beautiful, back yard.  One of the interesting little tidbits she has added is hanging solar lights.  These were individual lanterns hanging by a single string from the branches of her big fruitless mulberry tree.
Home made solar lights

I wanted some.  She said they come six to a box for $59.99 at Home Depot.

We spent most of one day looking for those lights online and in the physical stores.  Then I realized that the fancy little lanterns she had are not really appropriate for my yard.  I need something with more of a country feel, so I went to youtube and searched for “DIY hanging solar lights.”

And up pops solar lights made with Mason jars.  I bought 12 Kerr jars, Walmart didn’t have Masons and 10 cheap solar lights at Walmart, plus a clear 30 lbs test fishing line.  I spent $25 and made 10 solar lights.  My sort of son in law brought over his extension ladder and hung them in the trees.                                                                                                 

I’ll never build a house with videos from youtube but I will certainly continue to learn how to do lots of other things and so can you.