Category Archives: Daily Thoughts

So Things Got a Little Weird…

A trip to South Dakota usually involves some level of weirdness.  My family is pretty eccentric.  We do things differently and while it’s easy to predict that there will be weirdness happening during a visit back home, we just don’t know exactly what the weirdness will be.  So, I have compiled a list of  bizarre happenings during this year’s trip to South Dakota.

5.  Being on a week-long Prednisone regimen as a migraine preventative during the trip.  Nothing inherently strange about this, except that the major side effect was my insatiable urge to break into spontaneous song and dance in public locations, much like the Leland Palmer character in Twin Peaks.  I performed ABBA’s Dancing Queen using over-sized salt shakers and crispy corn dogs as microphones in roadside restaurants, and shimmied down grocery store aisles to Prince’s Little Red Corvette, much to the mortification of my children.  I’m fine now, absolutely NO urge to sing or dance now that the Prednisone is safely out of my system.

4.  Speaking of Twin Peaks: this totally random and un-staged reference to the show mesmerized me  in the guest room at my parents’ place.

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Paging Killer Bob…

3.  Speaking of random: A visit to the Porter Sculpture Park outside of Montrose, South Dakota.  The sculpture park is a remnant from my childhood.  Originally, sculptures were dreamed up and assembled in St. Lawrence, South Dakota.  As a small child, I would walk the two or three blocks on a loose gravel road from my grandparents’ house to the Porter workshop to stare in wonder at skeletal dragons delicately sniffing daisies and giant goldfish escaping a massive silver bowl.

 

IMG_0088My favorite was always The Ballerina, a naked woman made of tiny metal tiles, kneeling on a platform, scooping up some of her loose tiles with a little broom and dustpan.  There is something both wistful and majestic about her, like she is mourning her loose tiles.  Seeing her on the vast South Dakota prairie was incredible.

We also looked at the giant Bull Head, an amazing structure that hides some rather weird and mystical secrets inside.  Bats, snakes, and demons are assembled inside the enormous structure.  My husband commented as we strolled away, “Does it strike you as a bit Satanic?”  The artist is an interesting fellow — friendly and all about providing tourists with an unusual experience.  He accused my husband of being a Canadian when Van turned down a complimentary post tour Hershey’s Kiss, and he offered to perform a Gypsy blessing on our SUV.  It was the best tourist attraction we’ve ever visited!

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The Bull Head monument at the Porter Sculpture Park, Montrose, SD.

2.  Driving across a surreal South Dakota prairie, post October 2013 Blizzard.  I embraced the opportunity to spend time on some of South Dakota’s less known highways and found myself in areas devastated by last October’s blizzard, which killed tens of thousands of cattle.  I was simply in awe of what the weather left behind.  Instead of clear evidence of the devastation and death, there was nothing but rolling plain upon rolling plain of emerald green, yardstick tall grass, the likes of which I had never seen on the prairie in my years of living in South Dakota.  The cattle that had survived looked fat and slick as they grazed next to plump antelope.  Horses were up to their bellies in grasses, and they appeared to be swimming as they loped across pastures swaying like water.  The killing blizzard and harsh winter with heavy, lasting snows had left an abundance of  food and energy on the prairie for all that had survived, with no mention or apology for the price that had been paid for the shining beauty rolling before us.  It was a strange feeling to know and understand the harshness of the land.

1.  An early Father’s Day gift for Dad: a visit from the American Pickers!  Okay, so it wasn’t the actual Pickers, and I have no real proof of this happening.  But why would I make this up?  So a producer from the show American Pickers contacted me because last year I signed my parents up for a visit (you can do that on the show’s Website).  My parents are hoarders and they live in an 80 year old school = perfect material for the show.  Anyway, a producer from the show contacted me and said he wanted to visit the school to see what Dad had available for the guys to *pick*.  So, using my natural charm and communication skills, I did what I could to make things happen, and the crew (not the actual Pickers – sorry, I realize this is not as cool as I want it to sound) came to scope out the school and interview Dad.  I wasn’t actually there at the time.  I have no proof to back up my story.  I have nothing to indicate that anything exciting even happened, but Dad was really happy that he got to meet a friendly T.V. producer, give a tour of the school, and possibly have a return visit from the Pickers.  It made his day.

And these still weren’t the weirdest things that have ever happened during a trip to South Dakota.

— G

 

 

 

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No More School! No More Work!

Or should I say, “no more work for which I shall get paid!”  I will still be doing regular Mom duties (chef, chauffeur, psychologist, play therapist, librarian, janitor, mechanic, tour guide, entertainment coordinator, nutritionist, and matriarch, of course).  But for the summer I am done being an education professional.  It feels bittersweet.

A peacock at the zoo.  Picture taken by my student.

A peacock at the zoo. Picture taken by my student during the field trip.

Today I was definitely ready for summer vacation.  Hell, I was ready for two months ago, shortly after I started working full time.  I got sick, really sick, and haven’t recovered.  So for me, a long rest — or what I imagine could be a long rest — might put me back on my feet for the next school year.  Just making it day to day seemed impossible, and with less than one month of school remaining, I managed to catch a nasty stomach flu and then develop bronchitis, which persists even as I type.  Today as I helped the children pack their backpacks one last time, I felt a mix of relief and sadness.  I desperately need to rest and regain my strength, but I will miss not seeing “my kids” every day.

The best possible consolation came as the class filed out the door.  My student, the one I had been hired to work with, turned and hugged me fiercely and said “Thanks Mrs. Van Delist!  I love you!”

Even if I never go back to work at the school, I can take that memory with me forever and be satisfied that I did my best job there.

— G

One Year Gluten Free

1-Rose 2While glancing at my day planner to get a handle on the week ahead, I noticed that I have gone one year without eating gluten.  Months ago I jotted down a reminder note at the beginning of this week to mark the accomplishment.  This is kind of a coincidence, because just yesterday I mentioned to my husband that I was thinking of going off my diet, “just because”.  He gently encouraged me to stick with it.  This is why.

Since giving up gluten, I no longer have crippling abdominal cramps.  I feel more energetic in the afternoons (most days) and I sleep better during the nights.  I don’t wake up feeling nauseated in the morning; I have an appetite and actually want to eat breakfast right away.  Then I want to go to work instead of lie back down like in the bad old days.  My skin doesn’t break out anymore and I don’t  get bloated for no good reason.  My husband loves that I am feeling better and more energetic, and regardless of his opinion about gluten, he wants me to be healthy and happy.

“I think you should wait.” his words surprised me at first but I understood his concern.  Sometimes it’s easy to give up on something we’ve been doing for a long time when we forget why we’re doing it.  I had to remind myself what it was that put me on the diet in the first place.  I’d lost sight of my reason for even being on the diet, and after watching other people enjoy their cake, I wanted mine!

So I remembered the many night school Accounting classes when I had to excuse myself and run to the bathroom because my stomach cramps were excruciating.  I remembered  dropping my kids off at school morning after morning and then coming home to curl up on the couch with dry toast and tea because I felt too sick to eat anything else.  I remembered a life of not feeling well enough to do anything before 1:00 P.M. and never having enough energy to really get enough accomplished.  This went on for years.  I asked myself if I was ready to risk going back to that.

This afternoon we had a celebration of sorts.  Close friends came over for a feast and we celebrated friendship.  We celebrated my husband’s prowess making homemade foods.  He had made much of the meal himself: sourdough hotdog buns, sauerkraut, pickled eggs, and five different kinds of smoked and barbecued sausages!   We celebrated the Army life — where we are now and where we may go.  And we celebrated dedication:  a concept that improves quality of life in ways that we didn’t expect but fully appreciate.  I could see how this had worked with my diet over the last year.

I know my husband is right.  Now is not the time to give up.  Not yet.  There is still much to learn, and more celebrations ahead.

— G

Time to celebrate! One year gluten free!

Time to celebrate! One year gluten free!

 

 

 

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Change of Command

Two things have been preoccupying me lately: Army farewells and wardrobe dilemmas.  After a good run, my husband will soon relinquish his company to a new commander during a change of command ceremony.  He has innumerable tasks to attend to in preparation, but there isn’t much for me to do except choose one pretty outfit to wear to the ceremony.  The stress is unbearable!

A pile of dresses with vibrant patterns.  Which do I choose?

A pile of dresses with vibrant patterns. Which do I choose?

Most of my nice dresses don’t fit anymore because I (accidentally) lost some extra pounds, and now they hang off my shoulders like shapeless, circus-y potato sacks.  I was tempted to order a nice pair of shiny pants from J. Crew and wear them with a little wool jacket.  It will be chilly in February and the Kansas wind is notorious for blowing skirts in embarrassing directions, so pants are a wise decision.  Of course, I got distracted with work, children, and everything that fills the mind of a housewife, and I forgot to order them.  Now I am back to staring into my closet, wondering if I can pin anything into a respectable shape and cover it with my wool jacket.  Agonizing over what to wear brings to mind memories of past ceremonies and events attended, the outfits and costumes I painstakingly assembled or just threw together, the revelry of friendship, and the pain of saying goodbye.  For a military spouse, choosing an outfit for a special occasion is bound to make dormant memories spring back to life.

Coming to Kansas held promises of new adventures, but I was definitely nervous about interacting with other Army spouses.  I’d previously had little exposure to them, and with my only background knowledge coming from a few episodes of ‘Army Wives‘ I wasn’t sure what to expect.  It didn’t take long to realize I had stumbled upon the Dream Team of spouses in my husband’s organization.  After getting to know several of them, I was enthusiastic to be involved in their community events, fundraisers, and social gatherings.  My husband had no qualms about volunteering me, and by the time he took charge of the company, I was slated to be the Family Readiness Group Leader, even though I had no inkling what the responsibilities would entail.  I learned that the best way to figure out anything in the organization was to dive in, ask many questions, and above all else, be myself.  I was grateful to learn that the spouses in advisory positions were not judgmental, and that they encouraged individuality.  I knew immediately that this organization would be a perfect place to learn, grow and excel!

Not realizing what I had discovered, my husband was more cautious.  When we attended our first social event, a semiformal fundraiser, he insisted that I conceal all cleavage by taping my low cut dress at a severely modest angle on my decolletage, and by wearing a shawl so as not to give the impression that I was a street walker.  Incensed at his lack of trust in my judgment, I nonetheless compromised and taped myself into my dress.  But I refused to wear a shawl! I told him that I knew the other spouses would be wearing the same type of low cut dress, but he countered with “I just think you should dress more conservatively because I don’t know how my boss will react if you have cleavage flying everywhere.”   When we arrived at the fundraiser, I smirked in self satisfaction while he gaped at the throngs of heaving bosoms and short hemmed thighs shimmying around the conference room.  “I told you so,” I seethed, “and this tape is giving me a rash!”  Since then, no matter how emphatically he argues the virtues of bland attire, I refuse to dress “conservatively” for any Army function, with one exception where I ended up dressed like a Nancy Reagan stunt double.  Note to self: remove all shoulder pads from blazers and avoid wearing hair in a pompadour from now on!

A dress with pockets is a brilliant investment!

A dress with pockets is a brilliant investment!

Once I found myself in a group of spouses who would not pass judgment on me for my background, beliefs, point of view, and yes, choice of clothing/questionable fashion sense, I became much more comfortable just being myself.  This opened up a world of possibility for my previously boring wardrobe.  I began to courageously show up at ceremonies in unconventional outfits.  I attended the change of command ceremony for our beloved Battalion Commander in a seizure inducing psychedelic flower printed Cynthia Rowley sundress (complete with pockets), fantastic paisley fishnet hosiery from Missoni, and little black stiletto boots.    I thought my husband would pretend he didn’t know me out of embarrassment, but the Battalion Commander’s wife was tickled; I did it for her anyway.  Life is too short to wear clothing that makes you feel stuffy, especially when attending ceremonies where all you want to do is cry your eyes out while saying farewell to the people you adore!  You might as well be happy with your clothing.

Two dresses: one from when my husband took command and one from when he came home from Afghanistan.  Apparently I have a thing for floral prints.

Two dresses: one from when my husband took command and one from when he came home from Afghanistan. Apparently I have a thing for floral prints.

I probably won’t go overboard for my husband’s change of command.  Even though this ceremony will pay homage to a period of time when his Command Team (which includes me) held the unit together through teamwork, leadership, and love, it isn’t all about me and my fabulous outfit.  But it is a little about me and my fabulous outfit…As the commander’s spouse I will be a representation of the pride invested by Army families when we send our loved ones to serve.  So I really should be dressed appropriately, perhaps a little triumphantly, in clothing I love, to show I am excited and proud that my Command Team is passing the torch of a fine organization.  A well put-together ensemble can go a long way in translating such noble sentiments.

But it also isn’t a fashion show, and my knees have been hurting lately (and it might be icy) so the stilettos will stay at home, and I will probably opt for something more conservative, like my husband originally asked for when we attended our very first event at Fort Riley.  He deserves a little compliance on my part since the ceremony is mostly about him.  I do have a delightful little dress with a flying bird print, and if I pull it off right, I can sneak in “conservative” zippered motorcycle pants and low heeled boots without looking like a middle-aged Miley Cyrus wannabe…

Always Reliable, Always Professional!

— G

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Just One of Those (Gluten Free) Days

Ever have one of those days, when only food will soothe an aching soul?  Well, today is definitely one of those days.  Today is a comfort food day.  If you hadn’t noticed — and it is perfectly fine if you hadn’t — I have been absent from WordPress for most of the week.  There are two reasons for this absence.  I had a massive head cold that left me totally incapable of typing anything remotely lucid (seriously, what does “nacho cheese hot tub” in my blog notes mean?).  I also got “locked out” of my WordPress account when Google Chrome seized up.  This turned out to be a simple fix (I think) because after a visit to the Geek Squad at Best Buy, it seems that things are back on track, and here I am.

An assortment of comfort foods: Pain des Fleurs crispbread, Lotus Foods rice, roasted pumpkin seeds, Lucy's cookies, Annie Chun's seaweed snacks, Columbus Chorizo Casero, and Breaburn apples.

An assortment of comfort foods: Pain des Fleurs crispbread, Lotus Foods rice, roasted pumpkin seeds, Lucy’s cookies, Annie Chun’s seaweed snacks, Columbus Chorizo Casero, and Braeburn apples.

I spent most of the week feeling miserable and cranky, sleep deprived and a bit starved for good old comfort food.  It is no fun to have a cold, but not being able to write was unbearable!  Today my family braved the indecisive Kansas weather to solve my computer problem and run several other errands.  In the course of the day it has been sunny, rainy, frigid, windy, muddy, and icy, sometimes all at once.  When the wind plasters your hair into your eyes and splatters pellets of freezing rain all over your nice shopping ensemble, at least you can console yourself with the thought of getting a hot meal somewhere safe from the nasty elements.

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One of the treats my husband had planned was a stop at the Hy Vee grocery store.  This gesture might not seem like much, but for someone with gluten and dairy intolerance, the store’s Health Market, a section dedicated to organic, allergen free, and diet specific foods, makes shopping less terrifying.  It is a haven for those of us who might otherwise have a difficult time shopping for “safe” foods.  After a rough week I needed a heaping bowl of comfort food and a simple means of delivery!  For a few minutes I just wandered, absorbing new product lines, trying to memorize brand names and ingredients for recall later.  I tried not to impulsively grab gluten free goodies because they tend to be expensive and they can also be quite refined.  ‘Gluten free’ does not automatically mean the products are healthier than snacks containing grains with gluten, as I have learned over the year.  So I browsed carefully, passing over things I’ve tried before, looking instead for items of special significance.

For those of us with gluten intolerance, there are so many delicious crackers to choose from now!

There are so many delicious gluten free crackers to choose from now!

A few items caught my attention today.  First, a box of French crackers made from chestnuts brought a smile to my face.  Hello old friend!  The texture of the Le Pain des Fleurs crispbread is so light and delicate that they must be handled with care, but they are wonderful drizzled with a bit of oil or a dab of jam and served with tea.  Next I spotted a bag of roasted pumpkin seeds, a perfect portable snack inside my hobo bag.  I discovered a cheerful red gluten and MSG free chorizo, something I have been wanting but unable to find in grocery stores in my town.  I plan to fry thin slices in oil (a trick I read about in Saveur), and also add bits of the chorizo to Sunday morning Migas.  Apples are a staple for our family, and I never visit a store or farm without buying at least a small bag.   I did just that before we visited the Health Market one last time so my husband could look at bulk spices.  I grabbed a box of seaweed snacks for my daughter’s lunch box.  She is addicted to these crispy little delights and will eat the entire box if I don’t hide them from her! Finally, I finished my spree with a tiny bag of volcano rice (because we have never tried it before) and a box of Lucy’s gluten free Maple Crunch Cookies (because they are 50% off and I always need cookies).

Feel like baking?   There are no limits in the gluten free kitchen!

Feel like baking? There are no limits in the gluten free kitchen!

I normally feel a bit guilty about buying gluten free items because the price seems to create an illusion of extravagance that outweighs the health benefits of the products.  Today, knowing the items I chose would (mostly) be shared with my family made me feel happy; I decided that making good decisions and giving us something more exciting to eat is never a bad thing!

The afternoon was rounded out with a pleasant lunch at a favorite local eatery.  I felt a rush of anxiety as I scanned the menu for gluten free options and saw nothing noted.  The waiter told me that while the restaurant did not technically offer gluten free options, the kitchen staff would be happy to make adjustments as needed.  That sounded promising, and the staff followed through on what turned out to be a lunch of divine comfort food.  I normally turn up my nose at rare steak, but I was served a Chili Steak Burrito Bowl (minus the Burrito part) with bits of steak that melted in my mouth.  It was exactly the fortification I needed after a long week of bland toast, weak tea, sticky rice, and icky Kleenex.  A glorious nap after coming home followed by two of the Lucy’s cookies crumbled over dairy free Almond Dream ice cream, and I am feeling like myself once again.  My stomach is happy, my head feels clear, and my blog is back in business!  Things are looking up.

…Except now my kids are running fevers, coughing, and blowing their noses.  I guess we can’t have it all.

—G

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Stupid Karma

Silly Annie4 I actually wished that something rather inconvenient and slightly bad might happen to me this morning so that I wouldn’t  have to go to work.  Maybe a fender bender — no injuries — so I could call the school office and say: “Hey, I am being towed to the Ford dealership, so I won’t be in today…yeah, minor fender bender, but I have to fill out some paperwork about the accident so that will probably take a couple of hours…better get a sub for me.”  It wasn’t a great morning.

I am a ridiculously optimistic person (hard to tell sometimes when my posts are written in sarcasm mode) and I have a hard time believing that Bad Karma applies to me.  However, I do believe in Stupid Karma.  It happens to me all the time.  For example, the reason my morning was so rough: let’s just say that if you go on a gluten free diet, you absolutely MUST consume massive amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables EVERY day.  You CANNOT switch to an ‘all Mexican food all the time’ lifestyle.  I know it sounds like a rational plan, but it backfired on me this morning.  I should know better, I did the research when I went gluten free.  But this morning I found myself looking back on several weeks of bad diet decisions and saying “Oh, hello Stupid Karma!  Haven’t seen you in a while!”

My life has been brimming with Stupid Karma.  For example, last September my husband and sister insisted that a large mole on my back was definitely “doing something suspicious” so I went to the dermatologist to have it checked.  I couldn’t see it and didn’t know if it had been changing size, changing color, changing my Facebook status updates behind my back…I mean, it was on my back so anything it did was done literally behind my back.  Anyway, the dermatologist decided to remove it and send it in for a biopsy.  The damn thing turned out to be benign, but I ended up with a nasty little Staph infection that left me very ill and wishing I had just left the mole alone in the first place.

Or how about this for Stupid Karma: I have a husband who doesn’t seem to fart nearly as much as me (not fair!) but recently he has begun to snore so loudly that I’m sure the neighbors can hear him.  I would really prefer it if the circumstances were the other way around (that would be a farty husband who doesn’t snore).  If my husband were only gassy, then at least we would both be getting sleep and the funny smells around the house might garner equal blame.

Silly Bear4 Quite possibly the scariest example of Stupid Karma, and I have to say, Mother Nature’s joke on Humanity, has to be children.  Children are walking germ factories designed to slowly kill adults using brilliant biological warfare.  They are the only natural predator of adults known to use terrifying tactics such as whining, asking the same asinine questions over and over again, pooping themselves for no apparent reason, and unconditionally loving the one cartoon character that their parents completely loathe.  As diabolical as they are adorable, children employ Stupid Karma in ways that adults cannot even comprehend, and we are totally helpless to it.  That is why, when our children grow up, find mates, and have children of their own, we just sit back and laugh when the Karma comes back around.  Boy will I be laughing…

— G

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When Bad Movies Happen to Great Places

A view of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of...

A view of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. “You in there somewhere, Bigfoot?” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We (meaning my husband) just discovered that a Bigfoot movie set in the Black Hills of South Dakota was filmed in 2012.  Why has no one heard of it?  Possibly because it made at least one list of worst movies ever made (I don’t know which; we lost it in our zeal to follow a link for further information about Sharknado).  How did this all come about?  My father-in-law was watching Chupacabras Versus the Alamo (I know), and then he found Bigfoot (on cable, not in his backyard), and when he realized that the movie was set in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he called the only people who would care.

Here is the Bigfoot movie trailer in case you are intrigued.  Apparently Alice Cooper has a cameo and uses the word “hootenanny”.  I know what I am getting my husband for Valentines’ Day!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1876261/

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Being Resolute

Are your New Year's resolutions leaving you dog tired?
Are your New Year’s resolutions leaving you feeling dog tired already?

A new year brings the promise of a new life, new possibilities, and of course, the siren song of resolutions.  Even when we know they can be unrealistic, problematic, and sometimes ill-timed, nonetheless it is hard to resist making New Year’s resolutions.  I for one haven’t had much luck with mine in the past, usually jumping ship by mid-February due to impatience, injury, illness, or lack of funding and sponsorship.  Past resolutions have always been kind of self-centered, like trying to lose weight that has been creeping up on me.  Or a bit ambitious (paying off credit card debt and a car loan, and selling my husband’s truck, all before summer vacation!), leaving me to wonder if maybe this year I need to scale back and think differently about my goals.

As rough and woolly as 2013 was, I achieved my resolution to get our family out of debt and sell my husband’s truck to a really nice family.  I also finally accomplished the long anticipated goal of losing that  weight!  Don’t ask me how; I suspect that it might come back soon because I don’t exercise and I eat bacon and white rice all the time.  But hey, it counts for now!  The point is, my resolutions were accomplished not entirely under self imposed schedules, but after several series of circumstances had played out in my life.  This is why I think it is time for me to reconsider resolutions.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to self-improve, but maybe self improvement comes when we look at life from a different angle.

The definition of resolute is: “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.”

Synonyms include: resolved, tenacious, firm, strong-willed, unshakable, spirited, brave, plucky, stalwart, courageous.  There are many more, but you get the idea!

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The Party Animal has left the building.

As noble as ‘being resolute’ sounds, the downside of a resolution is that sometimes no matter how resolute we try to be, we just don’t reach our goals.  For example, I spent more years than I care to count worrying about my weight and giving myself a pretty short deadline every year to lose that weight.  It never happened.  Finally, after I stopped making my weight the central theme of my life and turned my focus toward my overall health, I encountered the success I desired.  We can’t always force resolutions on ourselves and then make them happen the way we envision; sometimes the journey of self-improvement takes longer than our predetermined itineraries.  As my husband always says “timing has everything to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”  We can’t rush what Providence has planned for us, and sometimes the journey involves much more adventure, patience, and self discovery than we originally had in mind.

What I am saying here is that despite your best efforts, plan on failing at some of your resolutions during life.  I know a few readers won’t like that statement, but more often than not, we don’t accomplish our resolutions the way we think that we will.  This is where we have to reexamine what being resolute really means to us as individuals.  Being resolute does help us accomplish goals, but we also have to be flexible enough to go with the flow, so to speak, when obstacles get in the way.  For years, I tried to train for whatever 5k race was coming up in the springtime…and ended up with shin splints and messed up knees.  I had to eventually adapt to something more practical for me…yoga and long relaxing walks.

This is not to say that I think we shouldn’t push ourselves and face new challenges.  The fact that I started a blog and began writing again after a decade of dormancy (another past New Year’s resolution) is evidence to myself that I can and should push myself to the limits.  And you should too; just don’t entirely give up if it seems like you aren’t attaining your goals.  It might just be that it isn’t quite time for the triumph yet.  Remember that you are on a journey, keep trying, and be flexible.

With that in mind, my New Year’s Resolution for 2014 is to be here.  By being here, I mean not being preoccupied with what I think I should be doing, what goals I should be setting and accomplishing, but to be in the here and now, with my family, my friends, the people who depend on me, taking my journey one day at a time.  I can be resolute in my journey knowing that I am learning as I go.  If I do it right, everything else will fall into place.  If I don’t, everything else will still fall into place.

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed 2014

— G

Special thanks to Ross the Dog for being my model and not running away to hide when I put the Happy New Year headband on him.  He did roll his eyes at me and sigh like an annoyed teenager though.

Christmas for Ross the Dog

Of course Ross the Dog received gifts on Christmas Day!  We didn’t know that he is really good at unwrapping presents, and he had his tennis ball launcher ready in under a minute!
"I can do it myself!"

“I can do it myself!”

"This looks like a ball!"

“This looks like a ball!”

"Let me just get this paper out of the way..."

“Let me just get this paper out of the way…”

"Oh!  There are two balls on here!"

“Oh! There are two balls on here!”

"Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!"

“Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!”

"I am going to chew on this now until it is taken away from me."

“I am going to chew on this now until it is taken away from me.”

"Okay, I will hand it over, but you have to play with me right now!"

“Okay, I will hand it over, but you have to play with me right now!”

DSCN3650

“Here Daddy.”

"Okay, I'm ready!  Let's go play now!"

“Okay, I’m ready! Let’s go play now!”

Ross wishes you all very Happy Holidays!

Look To Your Left, Look To Your Right

My husband came home from work a few weeks ago with a determined look on his face.  He told me that his chain of command was putting pressure on all the soldiers in his unit to dig deep into their pockets this Christmas season and donate to one or more of the many charitable causes in the community.

“It’s not that I disagree with the concept,” he said as he put away his uniform for the evening.  “It’s just that what Command is asking is actually really hard for some of my soldiers to do.  There are some who can’t afford to donate any money.  If they give up even one twenty dollar bill, it will cause them significant financial hardship.  There are really some people, in my company, who shouldn’t be asked to give.  I don’t think that Command understands that there are needy people within their own organization.”

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Shoveling snow for neighbors after a big Kansas snowfall.

“That is terrible!  Is there something we can do?”  I asked.  We had already made it known that any and all single soldiers were welcome to our home on Thanksgiving, in case they had nowhere else to go.  Single soldiers stationed away from home are more susceptible to being alone on the holidays, and we wanted to provide a meal, good conversation, and a warm place to relax among friends, should that need arise.

“I don’t want to make charity cases out of anyone who might be identified as a soldier in need,” my husband answered, “but I also want my people to be aware that poverty and misfortune can strike anywhere.  We need to look to our left and to our right, and we need to be more conscientious of the relationships we have with those who we work with everyday.  They may have a need that we can fill through friendship and generosity.”

My husband went back to work the next day and spoke to his soldiers about looking to their left and right and being cognizant of those who might need a helping hand.  There are so many ways to give and show love; it doesn’t have to just be during Christmas.  I love this time of year because it reminds me of the hope that love and generosity can possibly last longer than just one season.  Keeping the hope alive and strong is up to us, in the choices we make whether or not to act with love and generosity of spirit.  Being there for a friend in need is a way to show love, and there are so many ways to be there.  If you are unsure where to begin just look to your left, and look to your right.

— G

This story was inspired by my husband, my generous and loving family, and my amazingly lovable friends on Facebook.  After reading uncountable posts about the immeasurable acts of kindness happening over the past weeks, I feel very blessed to know that so many people are out there sharing love and goodwill this Christmas!  Bless you all!