Every Purrr is a Prayer

To Lois, with love from Walter and Mimi (and me):

Walter wearing a tie“I’m staying out of the sun in honor of you, Lois. Every purrrr is a prayer.”


May is Melanoma and Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Click Here to Learn the Signs and How to Protect Yourself from this Disease.

 

+ (c) Belinda Ostrowski

Caution: Overt Cuteness Ahead

Walter Exposed

I dare you to walk by this belly and not GIVE THIS SWEET BOY A TUMMY RUB!!

Exposed

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The Truth Within

Three years ago I almost lost a good friend, largely over a misunderstanding.

Another friend stepped in and tried to straighten things out, and in doing so, made the already shaky relationship we had that much worse.

Female figures handmade oil painting on canvasShe chastised me for committing an offense I truly couldn’t see I was guilty of having done, citing a conversation I’d had with her husband as another example. By this time, I’d reconciled with the first woman, so I asked for her perspective about what our mutual friend had told me. I was concerned I might be blind to what would be a fairly significant problem.

She didn’t see the issue the same way, but I remained aware of this potential flaw in my character. Eventually I realized the problem was more likely something I’d already known about my second friend. She will not only defend her husband regardless of what he’s done (and for the most part, I can’t fault her for that), she will lash out at other people who dare to challenge him.

In this case, in my conversation with this man, we’d disagreed about an issue I strongly believe in. Typically with him I let go, even when I know he’s spouting baloney, because it isn’t worth it to disagree. This time, however, I stepped in it, rather than around it. I don’t apologize for that. I should have done it more often.

You can’t trust the “constructive criticism” that comes from a woman who is defending her husband, no matter how sincere she might be, or might think she is being, in trying to help a challenging situation.

Which brings it all back around to my response to her comments about this perceived flaw. I was inspired to write about this after reading K E Garland’s post, Monday Notes: Agreement #2, in which she discusses the second of the Four Agreements (from the book of the same name): “never take anything personally.”

The crux of this agreement is we take neither criticism nor praise personally, because it reflects the other individual’s state of mind, which can change with the wind.

I believe we should weigh what others say, both the good and the bad, but ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves what the truth is in any given situation.

lovely woman handmade oil painting on canvasHigh school was a challenging time for me, and there were plenty of days my appearance showed the depression, anger and hurt I was feeling so deeply. I could always count on my friends Leigh and Sue to compliment my hair or tell me I’d lost weight on those days. Trust me, the compliments reflected their kindness, not the truth about my hairstyle or figure.

Most of the time, our friends aren’t as transparent as Leigh and Sue were (and I’m thankful to this day for their friendship). But, on the flip side of my bad hair days in adolescence, if I know my new haircut is flattering, the faint praise of someone whose opinion I value shouldn’t throw me. She may be sinking underneath some pain she isn’t willing to share.

Trusting yourself is a scary thing. If you’re going to be truly honest, you know you have blinders. Still, that same honesty can save you when others are less faithful to the situation.

Be true to yourself.


Image Credits: (All) © RomanBen — Bigstock

A Real Life Katie Shaeffer

I never thought I’d share a blog post featuring a pre-schooler’s creative work, but YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS. Yes, Mom helped, but that makes it that much more special. I want one!

Author Cynthia Mackey

Though this does not count as inspiration for the book, here’s a great example of a real life Katie Shaeffer.  One of my preschoolers, age 5, wanted to bring something for show and tell and it could not be a toy.  He and his Mom showed incredible initiative, resourcefulness and creativity to visit the beach, collect the items and then using a glue gun, put together this awesome pirate ship.

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Celebrating the real Katie Shaeffers of the world and their trusty assistants who help make it all happen! Creativity can be part of your lifestyle just like Katie’s in the story.

Check out Katie Shaeffer Pancake Maker, an inspiring book for you and your child!

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Tell me a little about yourself…

I just love job interviews.

AdobeStock_101524983Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for any length of time will sense the ‘tude there. I don’t love job interviews, in fact, like most people, I would prefer never to go through one again.

I’ve had some humdingers, too. The absolute worst was with a human resources intern, who apparently didn’t know the law. You can’t ask questions that will reveal age, and that includes the year you graduated from high school. At least, at that time and in that state, you couldn’t.

“Tell me everything you’ve been doing since you graduated from…what high school did you go to? Where the hell is that?” he asked.

“Are you kidding me?” I responded.

It didn’t get any better, and it lasted a whopping 45 minutes. I thought about putting an end to the misery early on, but given the number of inappropriate questions he was asking about my personal life, I held on. This was a phone interview, and I was betting it was being recorded. I took careful notes, and after our conversation was over, I wrote a brief and straightforward letter to the Human Resources Director letting her know I didn’t believe her intern reflected the best of their organization.

I never heard from that company again.

There are standard questions, and generally I know how to answer them, but sometimes I get tripped up. The one that always stumps me is, “what do you plan to be doing in five years?”

Kittens and popoversI’ve lived long enough to know two things: you can’t predict with any share of accuracy what you’ll be doing in five years, and employers are really asking, how long could we count on you sticking around? That brings up a host of questions you just can’t ask.

Then there are the “tell me about” questions. “Tell me about a time you had an innovative idea that saved lives and changed the world.”  “Tell me about a challenging situation with an outcome that included rescued kittens and popovers.”

The interview usually ends with, “do you have any questions for me?” and of course, you can’t ask for the information you’d really like to take home and ponder. “What are the best and worst things your employees say about your company?” or “Tell me about the unwritten policies.”

AdobeStock_92854227qI’m job hunting now, and I’m smart enough to know potential employers could read this post (as well as anything else I’ve written on this blog). To them I humbly say…rats, I can’t think of what to say. This blog reflects a part of me.

It’s not all of me, though, so I look forward to meeting you and learning more about the great opportunities at your renowned organization.


Image Credits: (Drawings) © Séa — Fotolia; (Cat) © Africa Studio — Fotolia; (Woman Running to Opportunity) © RetroStar — Fotolia.

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Well, the Locks Work

I love my new home, which was built in 1979 and still has mementos, shall we say,  of those early days.

No sense getting rid of something if it works, right? I learned the hard way just how well some of those pieces have held up over the years. Take the doorknobs, for example. Or let me say, take the doorknobs, please.

Last night I had one of those fluke home accidents that are difficult to reconstruct and embarrassing to explain. So rather than try to paint a detailed picture for you, suffice to say, some tissue caught on fire, I tossed it in the toilet, had the presence of mind to turn the fan on, and closed the door so the smoke detectors wouldn’t go off. It should be noted I was certain the fire was doused at that point.

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Yeah, one of the cats could’ve opened it.

Later, when I was sure the smoke was cleared, I returned to the bathroom and — the door was locked. I did everything I knew to do with a locked bathroom door, including breaking a hanger so I could use the hook at the top to pop out the lock, sliding a credit card past the latch and looking at the other locks for clues.

Oh yes, checking the door sills for a magic key. Those, no doubt, were lost long ago.

This morning, promptly at store opening, I entered Lowe’s and headed to their key counter, hoping they had a magic key. No such luck. Use a hanger, the guy told me, or a credit card.

My neighbors helped me with a tool or two, but still, nothing worked. I was forced to call my landlord, who got a good laugh out the situation. She’d done it herself, she said, but she couldn’t remember how she’d gotten the door open again.

A picture is worth a thousand words…here’s before and after…what you can’t see in this picture is how we tried to take the door off the hinges, then realized we’d have to pull it straight out and try not to tear out the latch. We abandoned that idea.

Eventually Catherine, my landlord, somehow got the door open with a credit card and a screwdriver. We’d tried that before, to no avail, but this time she got it to work.,

It took an hour, and that was the time spent on it after she arrived. The cats were confused, but friendly (they like Catherine).

Last summer she debated about changing the door knobs. Now I helped make that decision for her.

But I can get into my bathroom again.


Image of Cat © geosap — Fotolia/AdobeStock

Please don’t…

We all have our pet peeves, our idiosyncrasies, our little quirks.

Those little things that annoy, delight or otherwise garner what many consider an unusual response.

Cat brushing his teeth

Okay, this kitty is cute as he takes care of his personal hygiene.

For me (and my mom), it’s when characters on a television show or movie brush their teeth. EeYew. I do not need to see that lather, the foam someone is about to spit out. They’ve been doing it for decades, too. In the 1943 film, The More the Merrier, Jean Arthur can be seen at one point vigorously brushing her teeth. I put my head in my hands. It’s a good movie, but I cannot bear that brief scene.

For a woman I used to work with, it was needles. She could watch just about any gruesome scene in a hospital show, but pull out a needle for an IV or vaccination, and she shot out of the room (pun intended). As a news producer, she had a strict policy: no needles in the news stories. The entire station complied. It wasn’t worth not doing so.

Pet peeves are one aspect of our personality, quirks are another that make us unique. I make a few bucks every few months ironing pillowcases for a friend. It bothers her to have wrinkled cases (and now it bothers me). There are more dramatic quirks that might set others apart from the crowd, and I won’t describe them here lest I offend.

As children, anything that made anyone different was something to snicker about. As adults, we know better. Children, however, do have a wonderful capacity for acceptance when things are explained to them. Open up their world and they open up their hearts.

I’ve found adults are often less forgiving. They tend to try to temper their snobbery or bigotry by saying things that start with the phrase, “can’t she at least…?” implying that it’s okay to do whatever it is they find objectionable, just do it in the privacy of your own home. Or say it to others of like mind.

Yes, there are public and private behaviors, but not everyone is graced with the same sense of decorum, or even the ability to control their actions.

If I saw someone brushing their teeth in the Walmart parking lot, it would probably disgust me. But I’d have to wonder what brought them to do such a bizarre thing. Okay, in today’s day and age, odd behavior is fairly routine in some places, and we walk by without giving it a second thought.

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You want me to watch your show? Watch what you film!

I say to Hollywood: please think before you have your actors and actresses brush their teeth onscreen. And for the love of everything good and holy, keep them off the toilet. I mean, do I need to justify that pet peeve?

We all have them. Feel free to share yours!


Image Credits: © geosap — Fotolia/Adobe Stock

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