The Letter (sigh)

I was feeling nostalgic today, and found this post I wrote six years ago about a special letter I received once, years ago. I thought I’d share it with you again.

My World With Words

When I was 36, I moved from Minneapolis to Nashville for a relationship. I distinguish “moving for a relationship” from “moving for a man.”

It was a decision I made because it was what I wanted to do, and not because I was one of those women who would sacrifice anything for the man in her life. I’d made big moves before, so I knew what I was getting into. In fact, I was looking forward to the change and opportunities.

But overall I wasn’t content in Nashville. I broke up with that boyfriend a year after my move, and made only one true friend in the three years I was there.

Still, something special did happen, a seemingly small event, but one that lifted my spirits for years. I wish I could go back in time for this simple reason: to save that letter.

It was January,

Sad love heart symbol background

a few months…

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Fate, Faith and Consequences

AdobeStock_10518335 pngA few years ago I was struck down, metaphorically speaking, by circumstances I felt were outside of my control. I’ve since realized I do have a lot more say in what happens to me, but at the time, I was easily controlled by people in authority or even just people with a lot more self-confidence. I was too nice, too eager to please.

I’m still a nice person, but I don’t sacrifice my own self-worth for others any more. It’s been a difficult journey. At the time this all happened, others told me there was a reason for my suffering and eventually I would understand why I had to go through all of it. To this day, I resent hearing that. Yes, I learned some valuable lessons. But that doesn’t justify the actions of others, nor does it make sense of what happened.

I believe there are consequences to our actions, and not just for ourselves. What we do can help or hurt others, just as what they do can affect our lives. I also believe in God, and I believe he can bring about change in our lives that we didn’t expect or don’t deserve. But I don’t believe he intends for us to suffer. Man has free will, and that brings me back to this: consequences. We are responsible to ourselves and others. Just don’t expect others to always treat you as you deserve to be treated.

Blonde woman standing alone in a studioLife can be difficult, but it also can be joyous. Most of the time we land somewhere in between. Right now, life is good for me. There are struggles, but I have the support of family and friends. I know the path I need to take to solve some of my problems, although that doesn’t always mean I do what I’m supposed to. The consequences are mostly mine to bear, and for that I’m grateful. I don’t want others to have their happiness depend on me.

Do I believe in fate? I believe good and bad comes into everyone’s life. I believe in luck. I believe in perseverance. I believe in myself. And that’s as much as I know on the topic, so I’m sticking with that.

Image Credits: Sad Woman © Ella–; Confident Woman © Jacob Lund–; Winding Road © tarasov_vl–

Tab, What a Beautiful Drink

Call it brand loyalty. Call it comfort buying. Call it addiction. When I like something, I stick with it. These days my drink of choice is Diet Coke (or Coke Light, if you’re overseas), but for years it was Tab.

It didn’t start with Tab. Growing up, my mom always had a bottle of Diet Pepsi in the refrigerator. My brother, sister and I were strictly forbidden from drinking it, which meant when we did sneak a sip, we added water to bring the contents back up to the  mark they had been at. 

In college, I was broke, but never too short of cash to buy a six-pack of Tab. Diet Coke came out in the 80s, but I refused to switch.  When I moved to my present location, Tab wasn’t available, so the only time I could get any was when I visited family or friends in Minnesota. Apparently it remained available there until Coca-Cola decided to discontinue it altogether, sometime around 2020. I was devastated when I found out. And a little angry. 

I’m a loyal friend, but my loyalties extend beyond that. These days I only buy one brand of jeans. They fit, whatever  the style, and flatter me. Why look for something else? I’ve always driven a Toyota, except for one Honda, and should I buy another car, I expect it to be a Toyota as well. I’m that kind of consumer.

AdobeStock_199818521 [Converted]It’s not to say I won’t change for good reason. I did switch laundry detergents when I found one that comes in sheets instead of plastic bottles. The sheets come in a biodegradable envelope, so all in all, it’s much better for the environment. A friend told me about them, and now I’m a loyal consumer to Earth Breeze. And yes, it does get my clothes just as clean as the pods used to.

This isn’t meant to be a commercial, so I apologize if it sounds like one. I’m not profiting from this post in any way. It’s just that these products are good to me, so I come back for more. Arguably, Tab, and now, to a lesser degree, Diet Coke, may not be so good for me. But I like them and remain loyal just the same. Okay, I’ve tried to quit Diet Coke, and maybe someday I will. But not to switch to Diet Pepsi. 

Loyalty is one of those things I’m proud to say is part of who I am. If you’re my friend, I will respect and honor you. If you make a good product, I will come back for more. And maybe write about it in a blog post.

Incidentally, the title of this post comes from an old ad for Tab: “Tab, what a beautiful drink. Tab, for beautiful people.” Here’s an NBC promo followed by a Tab commercial:

Image Credit: Laundry © Marco–

Older and a Little Bit Wiser

cat and microphone on a pink background. the cat sings into theI used to dream about being a skilled musician. In my fantasies, I could play the piano with panache and sing the most difficult songs with ease. It didn’t stop there. I could also dance.

I no longer waste my time dreaming about those things. They simply aren’t in my skill set. If I can carry a tune well enough to soothe my cats, I’m satisfied. It has to be a simple song that allows for some improvisation at the parts out of my three-note range. Those songs are out there, as Walter and Mimi, my kitties, can testify.

Today’s challenges for me focus on what I can do. I can write. I can knit. I can design sweaters and other knitted goods for myself and my family. I still have a vivid imagination, something I didn’t lose when I grew out of childhood. 

But the most important thing I can do, something I didn’t fully recognize when I was younger, is to love myself, my family, and my friends. To be there for them when they need me. To help others when they can’t help themselves, or when resources are limited. To lend my support when times are tough.

AdobeStock_210621413 [Converted]In the past couple of months I’ve been talking to my dad on a regular basis. His wife Jeanne died in December, something I wrote about earlier. It’s been a powerful thing in my life, these conversations. I hope it has been the same for him. We didn’t used to talk much, and in recent years the phone calls got shorter and shorter.

I realize now that Jeanne had been going downhill for sometime and his energy and focus was on her. I didn’t realize how bad her Alzheimer’s was–or that she even had Alzheimer’s–until after she died. I feel a bit guilty that I was so unaware of something so important, but the reality is, not too many people knew. My brother was a little more clued in, and even he didn’t know the extent of the problem.

As anybody over the age of 30 can testify, you get older, you get wiser. You see things you didn’t see before, and recognize the signs that someone needs you. Sometimes, however, reality catches up with you and you see that you aren’t as wise as you thought or hoped. That’s a sort of wisdom in and of itself.

Older and little bit wiser.

Image Credits: Sapling © Arthon–; Singing cat © Elena–;  Telephone ©

What to Say, What Not to Say

As some of you know, I’ve been trying to write a novel. Originally when I joined my writer’s group, I had planned to write a memoir, and had gotten pretty far in outlining my efforts. I was going to focus on some of the mental health issues I’ve faced and their consequences, among other things.

Problem is, my mental health issues are tame compared to what many people face. I’ve struggled with depression and was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. In my case that meant there were identifiable episodes of bipolar depression, but it didn’t appear to be an ongoing problem. I do take medication, but for many years now there’s been no sign of anything resembling bipolar disorder.

A lot of my problems come from family issues when I was growing up. I struggled with these all through my 20s and 30s, but now I’ve gotten past them (for the most part) and have healed several of the relationships that brought me down previously.

AdobeStock_563786899I’ve watched young women I know fairly well deal with-or not deal with–many of the same sort of issues I faced at their age, and at least one of them is notorious for saying, “you have no idea what I’m going through.” Those of us who are older and wiser just shake our heads and say to each other, “yeah, right. Like we didn’t go through the same thing.”

If I had a better recall of the specifics of what I went through, it probably would make for some good essays, but I’ve moved past that era of my life and I simply don’t remember the day-to-day struggles. Either that, or I don’t want to.

And here’s the other thing about writing a memoir: in order for it to be any good, I have to be painfully honest, and I have no desire to do that. There’s no healing value in it for me anymore, and other people in my life don’t need to see that part of my life. I’m a fairly private person and I’d like to keep it that way.

Beautiful daisy isolated on white background

Many people I know, in fact, think I had an idyllic childhood. I don’t necessarily want to let them keep believing that, but I don’t really want to go into any detail about why that isn’t true. It’s not that I want to keep secrets, mind you. There’s a difference between secrets and private matters.

Which leads me back to where I began with this post. I’ve been trying to write a novel. I think I’ll stick with that.

Image Credits: Daisy © Leonid Ikan–; Both line images © OneLineStock–;

A Little Bit of Luck

My dad  jokingly told me today not to count on him winning the lottery and making me rich. Not that I had ever considered that, mind you. He stopped buying lottery tickets after getting numerous calls from “helpful” realtors and financial advisors who had learned, because it’s public record, that some of my stepmom’s stuff was going through probate. He figured the number of calls he’d get if he won a billion dollars would be significantly greater, and managing one’s finances would be, well, perhaps a greater pain than they were worth.

AdobeStock_169417990 [Converted] smI’d actually come to that conclusion myself many years ago. I wouldn’t mind winning a million dollars. That I think I could handle with some good advice. I’d put it all into a retirement account and maybe retire a little early (but not until I got Medicare, so not that early). Yes, I have a plan for winning a million dollars.

However, the plan is somewhat moot, as I don’t buy lottery tickets as a rule. I see it as a waste of money. Now, I might put some money down on one of those football betting boards–I don’t know what they’re called, but they’re the 10×10 ones where you pick what you hope will be the winning score. My odds of winning would be significantly better and it would likely be a friendly wager among friends. Still, I don’t know how much I’d be willing to put down. I’m just not much of a gambler.

There are life-changing events that make it easy to be a better person, and life-changing events that challenge us to a greater degree than perhaps we care to be challenged. Money definitely is one of those things that can change you, whether it’s being a lucky winner (and how you define lucky is up to you) or whether you lose your financial security.

I prefer not to tempt fate with my financial decisions. I’ll stick with my conservative, middle class lifestyle, save money and trust that my investments, such as they are, will pay off. That’s all the gambling I want to do. With a little bit of luck, it’s all I’ll need to do.

Image Credits: Winning Woman © denis vermenko–; Million Dollar Winner © lankogal–

If you’re climbing out a window, she ain’t your soulmate

I knew our relationship was doomed as soon as he told me he was looking for his soulmate. Something in his intonation, the words he chose, told me, “he’s looking for what can’t be found.”

I was right. He wanted the woman who so innately understood him he didn’t have to explain himself, a single look could do it. The first rush of infatuation wouldn’t fade away, instead, that heady feeling would keep pace with the years.

Problem was, his soulmate would have to have been as immature as he was, and that would have been a disaster.

And as it turned out, years before, he later quietly revealed to me, he’d met her. She was the girlfriend of the lead singer in a local band, a group he greatly admired and got to know over the years. In fact, at one point their lead guitarist quit with no notice and they called him to fill in. The thrill of a lifetime.

So he and Tasha got to know each other, and when her boyfriend was out of town one weekend, she called him. Their illicit romance began. Many a night he would be at her home and Gary, the boyfriend, would stop by, leaving him with two choices: face the music or crawl out the window. He chose the window, every time.

She swore she didn’t love Gary, it was just habit, he was the one she loved. They’d be together soon, she’d make it happen. She promised. Really, she didn’t love Gary.

Then one day she told him it was over. She and Gary were getting married and she couldn’t see him any more. She walked away, crying, and he didn’t expect to ever see her again.

Except a year later he did. Nothing happened, he told me, but she looked so unhappy. She swore she and Gary were fine, but deep in his heart he knew she regretted leaving him.

“Oh come on!” I said. “This was your soulmate? You two deserve each other. Of course it was ‘wonderful’ and ‘romantic.’ It was forbidden. If you’d been up front about the whole thing it all would have ended in six months like every other one of your relationships.”

He told me I didn’t get it. He was sad for me because he knew someday I’d compromise rather than hold out for my soulmate.

“Yea, don’t worry about me,” I assured him. “Just listen to your story a little more closely.”

Today, thirty some years later, Tasha and Gary are still married, and he’s still waiting for his soulmate. The other one, that is. Surely there’s a backup…


Image Credit: triangle © belindao; gondola ©ivector–

Game Changers

AdobeStock_104450030 pngWhen I was maybe nine or ten, one night the talk at the dinner table turned to computers. My dad worked for IBM, and I’d known about computers all my life. What I knew, however, was nothing like what we have today. I can still imagine the big green machines churning out pages and pages of paper, much of it blank. My dad would bring home those blank pages for us kids to draw on.

My mom said she thought the computer had been a game changer for society, and of course, she was right. Then she said something that shocked me. In my lifetime, there would be more great inventions, she told me. Things that would once again change the way society operates. I pondered that for awhile, then said, “Like what?” My parents both laughed, because of course, the point was we didn’t know yet. But it would happen.

It has happened, many times over. But so much of it goes back to the computer. Greater efficiency, more precision. Now, however, I have to wonder if we’ve gone a step too far. AI frightens me. Talk about efficiency and precision. I was curious about the AI writing apps and was alarmed to see how many there are.

Writing defines me. In my About page for this blog, I wrote “I believe in the power of words, written, spoken and unspoken. I believe what we write and what we create unleashes who we are, even to our own surprise.” That’s the magic of creativity.

I’m wary that eventually AI will blend into the framework of our society and we’ll stop asking these questions. I have friends who remember saying similar things about Adobe Photoshop, and for most of us now, it’s just a tool for creativity. Can AI become the same sort of thing? Should it?

I don’t want to lose the connections I’ve made through this blog with other creative people, many of them writers and a few photographers. But if a computer is churning out words that I claim but that don’t belong to me, those connections will be lost. And part of me will be, too.

Image Credits: technology concept ©peshkova–; computer room © everettovrk–stock.adobe,com

Secrets in the Forest

Today when talking to my Mom, she commented that she’d been thinking about her late husband, my stepdad, all day. It bothered her, because what she was remembering were the tens of thousands of dollars he embezzled from the company he and a good friend had founded. She also mentioned tens of thousands of dollars she’d had herself that went missing. It all added up to one thing: she didn’t really know the man.

We all have secrets we take to the grave, and some will be revealed once we’re gone, whether we try to hide them or not. Some are amusing. My former roommate told me about a woman we both knew from church who’d tragically died in a bungled bungee jump. This woman was athletic, with a short, kind of manly haircut. We all thought she was gay, and perhaps she was. But under her bed and deep in her closet her roommate found dozens of romance novels of the bodice-ripping genre.

Other secrets are heart-wrenching. A good friend of mine found clues her brother left for her before he died of cancer, revealing that he was gay. This was a man who was conservative in his faith and his politics, which may have been why he stayed in the closet. He came out to a few gay colleagues, who comforted my friend after her loss. The thing that got to me when was she said she wondered if he’d loved someone and couldn’t–or wouldn’t–do anything about it. That broke my heart.

I have my secrets, but I don’t think any of them are bombshells that would shock friends and family after I’m gone. At least I hope not. I don’t want anybody close to me saying they didn’t really know me, at least, not in a negative way.

I think of secrets as something we keep hidden in the forest of our lives. Some are delightful, some are devious. Only we know the path to many of them. I have no words of wisdom here, only to say, your secrets are safe with me.

Image Credit: © PostReality Media–

A Writer Writes

When I was thirteen, my dad brought home the family’s first typewriter, an IBM correcting Selectric II. I was fascinated, and spent hours writing back-cover blurbs to books that stood no chance of being written. They typically went something like this:

“Brittany is torn between her love for two men–the boy-next-door Jake and the dashing stranger Xavier. Knowing that fully loving one would mean giving up the other makes for an impossible choice…until someone new enters her life and gives her the courage to see things clearly.”

Nothing like a cheap romance. I could never write a book like that today (well, never say never, I suppose), but there was a time in my life when I contemplated writing Harlequin romances to make some money. I’d never read one, but I figured, how hard can it be? Then I read one, and thought, I’d be selling my soul. So much for that writing career.

AdobeStock_529380913I turned to my next writing venture, the one I’d studied for–newspaper reporting. For two years I covered city council meetings for a weekly newspaper. I loved it. I especially loved the fact that my coverage of some controversial issues garnered criticism from some city council members. This was to a point where one city took to having their “real” meetings before the scheduled time, only to put on a show of solidarity for me. They got in big trouble for that one.

I didn’t see a future in journalism, however, and got a series of  jobs in communications. Still, they couldn’t (and still can’t) completely take the journalist out of me. My strength was in media relations, pitching stories to newspapers and television newsrooms. I was, if I do say so myself, pretty good at it.

Today my writing is solely for personal, and not professional, satisfaction. I’m working on a novel, although I struggle with it mightily. I belong to a writer’s group that provides critiques and encouragement for my efforts. So far, the first few chapters are going well. I just don’t really know where the book is going. Hence my struggle.

To all you writers out there (and I know there a many in the blogasphere), I say, keep on writing. Find others who are doing the same and share stories and ideas with each other. You may never make a profit with your writing, but that’s not the point. The point is your soul needs it. And that’s enough to hit those ol’ typewriter, I mean laptop, keys again and again.

Image Credits: Typewriter keys © Miguel A Padriñán–; Reporter © Sergio J Lievano–

Woo-hoo! Happy Birthday, Beth!

Today is my sister Beth’s birthday. I don’t know where she’s living these days, but wherever it is, I hope it feels like home. I also don’t know if she likes cupcakes as much as I do, but I think she’d appreciate the artistic value in those above.

So happy birthday, Beth! Celebrate in style.

Image credit: © Ruth Black–

It’s Gluten-Free Day!

I won’t advocate a gluten-free diet if you don’t need one. However, I do have a friend who has celiac disease and must eat gluten-free food or risk becoming very ill. She suffered with it for years, receiving misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, until finally her adult daughter called and said, “Guess what? I have celiac disease–and I bet you do, too.”

Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, and it affects the lining of the small intestine. It can be hereditary, as is the case with my friend (her grandson has it, too). A strict gluten-free diet is the best treatment. I’m no medical expert, so if you want more information, I suggest doing some online research at reputable sites, like the Mayo Clinic.

Anyway, Madlyn, my friend, sticks to the aforementioned strict gluten-free diet. Every other week I play Scrabble with her and our friend Deb, and Deb and I always bring gluten-free snacks. We’ve developed a deep appreciation for such food. Some of it is downright delicious–I particularly like the Snickerdoodles. Madlyn sometimes bakes something for us, like ginger cookies (yum yum) or pumpkin pie.

Many supermarkets have a gluten-free section, so if you’re ever in the position of having to provide a snack for someone with celiac disease, there should be something available. One of the local grocery stores where I live has a particularly good selection, and I’ve been known to buy cookies there all for myself. For the record, I do not have celiac disease, nor do I adhere to a gluten-free diet. I just like the cookies!

If you don’t have celiac disease, celebrate your good health. If you have it, celebrate the fact that there are so many options out there for good tasting gluten-free food. Whatever you do, just celebrate today!

Image Credit: ©mizina–

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