The State of the Nation is only as Good as the Hearts of its People

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“Cafe’ Costa Rica” acrylic on 20 x 20 canvas (SOLD), prints available (close-up of coffee beans)

When I was raising my family, multi-tasking was encouraged for everyone who wanted to succeed. Instead of lighting the home fires, women were encouraged to engage in career acceleration, pushing many out of the home and into the marketplace. That’s when the songs “I am Woman” and “Nine to Five” were the beat we marched to in our efforts to accomplish more in less time and to be more productive.

I once bragged to a friend that I could bathe my two youngest while cleaning my bathroom fixtures and scrubbing the floor all at the same time. I made my own cake mixes, yogurt, granola and bread to save money, and I could whip up a meal and have it on the table within 30 minutes without the benefit of microwaves or crockpots.

"Queen of Diamonds" 20 x 20 acrylic mixed media on canvas

“Queen of Diamonds” 20 x 20 acrylic mixed media on canvas

A generation later, the results were a nation of hyperactive insomniacs who didn’t know how to “chill.” Multi-tasking became the cause celebre´ for depression and nervous breakdowns; the culprit for lack of focus, and the fragmenting of a person’s time and energy.

We were accused, by the so-called experts, of short-changing our spouse and our children. Some women came back home and recommitted themselves to family life, while others were too entrenched in the upward climb to turn back. They had come close to the “glass ceiling;” and by golly, they were going to crash it if it killed them. The casualties were enormous. The ones who made it never looked back.

Once abortion was legalized, women were set free to crash the barriers that had held them back previously. The toll has only recently been felt as the Social Security Fund dries up because there are not enough workers to replace those who either have been aborted or who are on welfare. America has painted herself into a proverbial corner.

The women whose children grew up and moved on in their absence feel cheated of the experience of motherhood. They rushed here and there, watched their kid’s games and celebrated their achievements, but do they really know them? How many times have they actually had a loving conversation without telling their kids to “hurry up, we’ve got to get going?” or criticized their obnoxious antics and behavior.

Today, we look around us and see not a nation of happy and well-adjusted people, but a country full of drug addicts who participate in road rage, riots in the streets, and mayhem. Our leaders are immoral and dishonest. The people in whom we put our trust are untrustworthy. Tyrants rule in our board rooms and on our streets. We have made a mockery of that which once was sacred and blasphemed the God who gave us life.

"Blending In" 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas (How often do we "Blend in, rather than Standing Up?"

“Blending In” 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas (How often do we “Blend in, rather than Standing Up?”

Collectively, we desecrate the holy, the weak, and elevate the swindler and the swine. We worship pleasure and wealth and turn our backs on the lowly and common. Children in many cases dishonor parents and parents turn their backs on the children who need them. There is a lack of common decency and respect. “It’s all about me” rings from the rafters of homes, automobiles and businesses. “I want what I want, and I want it now.”

Never in the history of the world has there been more need of a Savior to bring us back to our Heavenly roots. Jesus said: 7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through Him. 10 This is God: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for sin.”
(I John 4:7-10 NIV)

“If this is true,” you say, “then why isn’t there peace on earth? Why is there so much violence?”

First off, God is not the author of confusion, nor violence, nor evil. Mankind does that very well without him. Before Christ was crucified, he did clarify this point for us: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you.” (In other words, His peace is within) “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Our world could use a little more peace, especially in the hearts of its people.

"Lady in Waiting" oil on canvas (prints available)

“Lady in Waiting” oil on canvas (prints available)

Life and Death Struggles Hit Everyone

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All around the world, individuals are in life and death battles against formidable enemies that threaten their existence. The danger often comes by being born in a certain region or conforming to a specific religion. Vulnerability may come simply because of skin color or ethnicity.

Most of us don’t take unnecessary risks if we can help it. We try to avoid confrontation if at all possible. When we find ourselves between the crosshairs of someone’s hatred, we may pray for the very first time. Few of us can understand the animosity that propels this anger. Sometimes we may be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Coincidence? Stupidity? We call it many things.

There are other threats that surround us each day. Disease, accident, emotional or physical turmoil may be waiting for us at the end of the day: in an intersection, at the office, within our own homes, stalking us as a lion ready to pounce. None of us are exempt. No one is above the human experience.

“Namesake” acrylic on canvas

The target changes with the fickle whims of fate and popular opinion. Today if you’re a police officer your life is at risk, not only from the threats of occupation, but from misaligned angst from perceived injustices. Facts are ignored in this wave of emotion.

The supposed victims of police brutality are usually in the process of breaking the law. Officers attempt to stop the perpetrator and make an arrest. They resist. They may even pull out a gun or attempt to physically pummel the officer. The “perp” resents being stopped from continuing to break the law. They see the officer or officers as the enemy intruding into their life and freedom to do what they please. They attempt to flee and are stopped either by a Taser or a bullet.

The assailant’s family grieves not only with sadness but with shouts of “police brutality.” And a new cycle of violence and hatred continues.

Self-examination is difficult. We sometimes see ourselves as victims in a random world where everyone is “out to get us.” Why is it so difficult to take responsibility for our own actions?

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When my children were still in school, I told their teachers at conference time that I believed in allowing my children to “suffer the consequences of their actions.” I wanted them to relate “outcome” with their negative actions. Of course, there were some teachers who were not to be trusted with this precious authority. Not everyone has a sense of fair play and justice.

How else can people learn the difference between right and wrong in a civilized society if not through suffering the consequences of their own actions?

It is delusion to blame policemen for brutality when you resist arrest for committing a crime. Period! A mature reasoning adult accepts responsibility for their choices. Savages do not. The outrage that follows when we do not is the result of exploitation and a failure of government. Lashing out to burn and destroy your own communities only hurts you and those you love.

When will the violence end? Only when the government and leaders cease to feed the fires of envy and hatred. Only when law abiding citizens in those communities rise up and stop the madness.

Why Do You Do What You Do Each Day?

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“Kindred Spirits” acrylic on canvas

What makes you get up in the morning? Is it a loved one? Is it your children or a mad desire to plan and organize? Is it a purposeful job that gets your creative juices going?

Why do you do what you do? Are your efforts passion driven for the sake of enjoyment and fulfillment or do you dread every moment and wish you were doing something else?

A paycheck drives most of us. Without it none of our dreams can come true. But in spite of that, if you’re born to create, nothing, not money, road blocks, handicaps or problems can keep you from doing what you were born to do.

Some people keep plodding along for the “fringe benefits:” a company car, health care supplements and bonuses.  Entrepreneurs build businesses so they may have more freedom to pursue their personal vision of success. Fringe benefits come through tax breaks, incentives and the “cost of doing business.”

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“Moonlight Magic” 11×14 acrylic on canvas

Human behavior is usually based on “what’s in it for me.” In negotiations, the buyer and seller must agree on what’s mutually beneficial to both. When someone does something nice for us, we feel like reciprocating; it’s a two-way street.

On a more personal level, when someone is kind to us, we are more likely to be kind to someone else. Every action has a reaction. Give a negative remark or a physical rebuff in a moment of impatience and watch the domino affect disperse outward to everyone else; cause and effect.

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“Broken Hearted” 11×14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready to frame

Don’t confuse loud, obnoxious behavior with strength. There is great power in self-containment. A person who can face the world unafraid without having to dominate every situation is strong and in control. Self-confidence is built on clear, concise choices that build bridges not walls.

Tickles from God

“Tickles from God” acrylic on canvas

There is a Biblical phrase that says: “Cast your bread upon the water and it will come back to you.” We get what we give. If you are always out to “get people” before they get you that’s what you will receive in the end. Life has a way of dealing honestly with us. Even our faces at the end of life can betray what kind of a life we have lived and how much love we have given away.

Note that I didn’t say “how much love we have received.” I made a point of saying “how much love we have given away.” Like the bread (action) that is scattered on the water, our deeds will come back to us in greater measure. The more we shed light and love upon others, the greater the portion that comes back to us.

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

“A Joyful Heart,” 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready to frame

Some people wallow in self pity thinking that they never get enough of life’s goodness and pleasure. They hold on so tightly to what they have that they smother any chances for expansion or growth. In order to receive, we must first be an influence for good. If you don’t believe it, see what happens when you smile at someone in a long line of people.

Some will shy or turn away, after all, you’re a stranger. But don’t give up. Keep a positive attitude. Continue to smile. If someone bumps into you and apologizes, accept their apology. Don’t always be on the defensive. Not everyone is out to get you. Do some apologizing of your own. Thank people for their courtesy.

Now imagine every smile, every positive action radiating outward and repeated by others who pass your goodwill on to someone else. Like waves on the ocean, the tide shifts outward and inward. The ripple effect comes back to you with more positive vibes than you sent out in the first place.

Handles, Nicknames and Monikers – Bullying or Harmless Fun?

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“Mother and Child” brush drawing in oils

When my kids were young, I made up silly names for them. It was a playful way of adding extra affection and fun to our relationship. The handles were cute and harmless and never said outside of our home. They were just between us.

I soon discovered that my children had shared them with their friends. When my oldest son got married, he asked me to tell his new wife a few of them because he couldn’t say them the way I did. They wore those nicknames like a badge of honor which said: “My mother loves me.”

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“Moody Blues” mixed media on canvas

Some names can also be a form of bullying. They go from the playful into teasing and taunting. One of my daughters was called “fat Pat” by her brothers because they knew it irritated her. She was far from fat, but over time she began to believe them. She fretted over her weight and it became a negative focus into her teen years.

My youngest son was dressed up in a girl’s dress by his sister when he was only three years old. She even burdened him with a feminine name. When his siblings teased him and chanted this name, he grew angry, especially as he got older. Calling him this after knowing it made him angry was really a form of bullying. To this day he hates this name and cringes whenever he hears it.

Another daughter had a severe case of chicken pox. They were so bad that even the bottoms of her feet were covered and her tongue. Afterward she was left with a large scar on her cheek.

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“Broken Hearted” 11×14 Pastel, matted and ready to frame.

Before that time she had been full of spunk and self-confidence. But one day a boy at school called her “crater face” and she shriveled into a door mouse. The scar and the teasing made her feel inferior and ugly; not a good way to enter the teenage years. Eventually she outgrew this hurt as the scar grew smaller and she became a beautiful young woman.

I know how she felt. When I got my first pair of glasses as a child, I was called “four-eyes” and learned the negative quip: “Boys seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.” Even when a young admirer told me I had beautiful eyes, I didn’t believe him. “How could he see my eyes,” I wondered. “I’m wearing glasses?”

We all have battle scars and memories of being picked on or made to feel different. For some it’s a disability. For others, it’s a behavior, a personality quirk or an actual physical characteristic that others may find odd or funny. “Freckle face,” Carrot Top,” “Cowboy” (for bowed legs), “gimpy,” “hunch back,” and “sissy” are stings that you never outgrow. They stick in your mind and may hurt for a lifetime.

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“Broken” mixed media (SOLD) Prints available

Childhood is filled with pain until we finally grow up and discover who we really are. But for some, the burden of pain stays hidden beneath a wall of self-protection making relationships and friendships hard to come by and difficult, perhaps even dangerous if it pushes someone over the edge.

Wild Bill Hickok was one of those people. That’s right: The “Bill” part of his name was just as much a nickname as “Wild” — his full name wasn’t William, but James Butler Hickok. Bill was actually a wisecrack about his appearance, and specifically on his giant slope of a nose and protruding upper lip. The first version of Hickok’s nickname was actually “Duck Bill.” He changed it to Wild Bill to divert people’s attention from his nose to his skills.

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Wild Bill Hickok became one of the most famous figures to emerge from the American Old West, his legend reaching mythical proportions. Hickok fought with the North in the Civil War. He was best known as a gunfighter, a scout, a professional gambler and a lawman. But for his contemporaries, and his sub-conscious, he would always be known as Wild Bill – the guy with the big schnozola.

Positive nicknames can actually enhance someone’s image. Here is a partial list of famous people and their monikers. If you want to see more, go to this site:  http://www.pubquizreference.co.uk/trivref/nicknames-of-famous-people.htm

FAMOUS PERSON NICKNAME EXTRA INFORMATION
Sportsman/Sportswoman Their Profession
Jim Corbett GENTLEMAN JIM Boxer
Jack Dempsey MANASSA MAULER, NONPAREIL Boxer US
Muhammad Ali LOUISVILLE LIP Boxer, US greatest ever arguably, now in his 50’s sadly suffers from Parkinson’s Disease
Nigel Benn DARK DESTROYER Boxer Eng
Georges Carpentier ORCHID KID Boxer Fra
Thomas Hearns HITMAN Boxer US
Ricky Hatton HITMAN Boxer Eng
Primo Carnera AMBLING ALP Boxer
Rocky Marciano BROCKTON BOMBER Boxer
Joe Louis BROWN BOMBER Boxer
Barry McGuigan CLONES CYCLONE Boxer
Eddie Edwards THE EAGLE Ski-Jumper, famous for his poor performance
Sergio Garcia EL NINO Spanish golfer
Florence Griffith-Joiner FLO JO Athlete, US 100m died aged just 38 after heavy drug use
Paavo Nurmi THE FLYING FINN Finnish Ski-Jumper
Ference Puskas THE GALLOPING MAJOR Hungarian Footballer, peaked around mid 50’s early 60’s
Jimmy Hill RABII Footballer UK, and later TV presenter and Football pundit
David Beckham GOLDENBALLS Footballer, Eng World Superstar off the pitch
Eusebio BLACK PANTHER Footballer
Stanley Matthews WIZARD OF DRIBBLE Footballer Eng, one of the greats of the 50’s, played league football at 50 yrs of age.
Duncan Ferguson DUNCAN DISORDERLY Footballer for Everton
Lev Yashin THE BLACK PANTHER Football Rus Goalkeeper
Norman Hunter BITES YOUR LEGS Footballer for Leeds
Dennis Law THE LAWMAN Football Sco prolific striker Man Utd & Scotland
Stuart Pearce PSYCHO Footballer Eng, England International left back, moved on to management
Paul Gascoigne GAZZA England Footballer, career blighted by addictions but still reached superstar status as much for his character as his skills.
Eddy Mercyx THE CANNIBAL Cycling Bel, winner of Tour De France 5 times
Martin Offiah CHARIOTS Rugby League and Union Eng Winger, one of fastest most elusive wingers in the game

Professional nicknames are fun, but they prevent us from remembering a person’s name which is more personal. Here are a few you’ve probably used yourself (note that most of them are disrespectful).

  • Bones for a surgeon or mortician
  • Sawbones for an orthopedic surgeon
  • Doc for a doctor or dentist
  • Sparky for an electrician or radio operator
  • Geek for a computer technician, a brainy person or nerd
  • Sarge for a military sergeant
  • Chief for a police or fire chief
  • Teach for a teacher
  • Prof for a Professor
  • Brains for someone who is clever or a genius
  • Moneybags for a wealthy person

You may enjoy creating your own nicknames and handles that describe someone in a positive way. Heaven knows we have enough sadness caused from bullying and name calling. Handles may lift someone’s self-esteem or tear it down.

I was never a good athlete. I’d be the last chosen for a team because in those days I was the shortest kid in my class. To this day I cringe when I hear someone called a sissy or the cat calls “Bet she throws like a girl.”

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“With These Hands — Hope”

Revenge is sweet. Some of these girl’s (and boys) grow into powerhouses! One day this gangly uncoordinated girl will look down on you when she’s the CEO of Yahoo, or Hewlett Packard, or GM. You better look out! “What goes around, comes around.”

Interludes of Happiness are the Underpinnings that Strengthen the Soul

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“Americana” acrylic on canvas

Just when you think your life is on an even keel, something or someone wipes the gloat off your face and you’re down. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life it’s this: Change is inevitable. Unpredictability is the norm.

The in between times when love seems never ending, when peace pervades your universe and you think nothing can go wrong that’s just when it does. Those prime times are short and fleeting. They come and go like breathing in and out. They arrive just before or shortly after a crisis.

Make the most of these tender moments because they never last. They are what memories are made of when we have nothing else to live for. These heavenly highs help relationships weather the uneven tides of emotion and anger. They give life zest and nourish a heavy heart.

"Kindred Spirits" 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

“Kindred Spirits” 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

Think of these pleasant pauses, these cherished nanoseconds as seeds. They can’t be saved or stored except in memory; but they can reside within us and provide a web of interconnecting fiber that can give our life structure and continuity. These interludes of happiness “relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of the present.” (C.H. Spurgeon)

Like a flickering light in the gloom of darkness, these seeds of joy gives us hope, sustain us, and keep our feet planted on solid ground even when all of life is crumbling around us. This kind of strength is what makes heroes out of common men. When a tragedy happens, they respond. They just do it, never thinking about the risks to their own mind or body nor their inhibitions and weaknesses.

Human capacity is never fully tested on this earth. Knowing that somewhere within us is the action needed to meet our convictions is reassuring. Manufacturers and engineers know all about tensile strength when it comes to machinery and materials. Tensile strength is all about the ability to be stretched or pulled out of shape before breaking. Even though human beings are not machines, they are still resilient and capable of super human fetes when necessary.

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on canvas

“With These Hands — Wonder” oil on canvas

These seeds of hope, faith, happiness and joy that grow to fruition within us make us stronger, more teachable, and more bendable. This ethereal structure helps us to endure sorrow, pain, anger, hatred, envy or the loss of a loved one, the failure of business or marriage. This foundation is what helps you get up when you fall, and why you take one step after another even though you don’t feel like walking or going anywhere.

Savor the good times. Remember them in the bad times. Make more of these moments every chance you get. This is the web or safety net that will give you courage when you need it the most and the resiliency to hold on a little longer when your heart is breaking.

Sea Swirls

“Sea Swirls” 24×18 acrylic on canvas

Change comes to all of us. Nothing stays the same. Ride the waves, my friend. Your life’s journey will sometimes lift you up and at other times slap you down in the grit of despair. Don’t give up in the heat of the moment. Coast and surf until you gain some traction. You will survive.

(This blog was delayed by the unforeseen, but it also gave me my subject matter.)

There are Times when Nothing Else Will Do But a Good and True Friend

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“Beach Buddies” mixed media on canvas

As long as men are stronger than women, there will never be true equality between the sexes. Strength and muscle alone dictate that it cannot be so. Since time began, power has always gone to the “leader of the pack with his prowess as hunter and conqueror” while women bore the children and handled domestic chores at home. Of course, you can also find the opposite within different ethnic and tribal groups; but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Even today there are cultures and religions in the world who subjugate the weakest members in favor of the loud, the strong, and the violent. Ruling by fear and brute force, they overpower rather than lead. They dominate rather than seduce. They withhold affection and communication in their efforts to control. This can be done by both men and women; but in the majority of instances, it is done by the male of the species.

"Broken" mixed media on canvas; SOLD, but prints available.

“Broken” mixed media on canvas; SOLD, but prints available.

You may argue that times have changed. Today women can rise above the so-called “glass ceiling;” and with divorce as an option, they can always leave threatening circumstances. True, but not without many, many hurdles children being only one of them.

When it comes to “division of property” and closing bank accounts, it is easier said than done. Did you know that a man may close a “joint” checking account, but a woman must have her husband’s consent and signature, even though she may have been the only contributor? If there is wealth involved, a costly battle may ensue.

My first husband thought I should receive a pittance since I was a stay at home wife. He told my attorney that I had not contributed to the purchase of the house nor its maintenance nor to family expenses. My attorney pointed out that I’d given him six children, took care of them, cleaned the house, shopped for groceries and school clothes, and prepared all of their meals for 30 years. Was it not reasonable to be paid for my efforts?

I walked away from that marriage feeling worthless, empty, unloved and abandoned; even though it was I who had filed for divorce. Sadly, three words were all it would have taken for me to come back: “I love you.” Words I had heard only a few times during our lifetime together.

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If you doubt what I’m saying, gather together a few women who have experienced physical abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, financial deprivation or divorce, and they will drown you out with their truth: equality is something they never knew, only fear; but I’ll save that for another time.

Now that I have your attention, this article is not about male versus female. It is about the importance of having friends to share your frustrations and your dreams (women friends for women, and male friends for men, or a mix of both). True friends can give your life meaning. They can provide the hugs, the support and the encouragement that somehow went missing in your marriage.

Friends can bring laughter into your life and a safe place to just be yourself. Even when you’ve lost the very notion of who you are, friends can provide a safe haven to “let your hair down.” Friends may give you an outlet to express how you really feel. Fear and feelings of failure can oppress you to the point of suicide if it is not allowed to surface.

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“Kindred Spirits” Lge. acrylic on canvas

Friends can hold you together when you feel that you’re falling apart from the inside out. They provide tangible evidence that you really exist and that you have value. It is difficult to get in touch with a “higher power” or to have any spiritual connection when you’re battling in the trenches for survival.

I remember a time in my life when I thought: “God is a man (or so the Bible says).” If I can’t put my trust in my husband, who is a man, how will I ever be able to trust God? If a woman has also been abused by her father or a spiritual leader, this makes it even more impossible that she will ever trust in God.

Think about that men? How you treat your young daughters, and their mothers — your wives, is in direct relationship to the way they will eventually feel about God; not only today, but forever. That is a great burden on you to treat them as God would, with love and patience.

Lead instead of pushing from behind. Let your good example do the teaching. If that doesn’t seem to work, pray together. Tell your children and your spouse that you love them. This advice can be reversed if the woman is the nagger and abuser.

Life is too short to beat on or threaten the people you hold dear. Cherish them. Tell them often that you love them. Live your life with hope for the future not with regrets.

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Living in the Present and Letting Go of the Past

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Sea Swirls

“Sea Swirls” acrylic on 24×18 canvas

Today is all you have. If you’re future focused, you may miss out on the blessings right under your nose. If you dwell on the past, you may end up with a heart full of regrets and sadness. No matter how much you would like to go back, the past is out of your control. You can’t change it. Ever!

Tomorrow is not yours, either. Predictions are foolish. Wishes are senseless, unless they’re backed up with action. Concentrate on today’s duties and obligations. There may be pain. There is often unhappiness; but if you’re honest, there are also priceless moments of joy: sunlight coming through the window and landing on a sparkling glass; the smell of peanut butter; birdsong in the quiet of afternoon; drawing a warm bath; a church bell in the distance, slipping tired feet into fuzzy slippers. You just have to watch for these mini-miracles. Savor the few and let the rest go.

Sea Breeze

“Sea Breeze” acrylic on 30×24 canvas

My mother used to say “If you want to retain your sense of humor – read the funny papers!” She was right. Even online jokes and funny stories can change your day. I received one that gave me a huge belly laugh when I finished reading it. What if I’d skipped that email, thinking I was too busy and had no time to waste? I’d have stayed down in the dumps and perhaps been impossible to live with for the remainder of the day. Don’t miss out on a chance to laugh!

Turn up the music and dance. Never wait until you’re in the mood. Do it now! It’s good exercise. If you stop feeling sorry for yourself, you may end up casting those bad feelings aside in a whirl or a jiggle. It’s hard to keep frowning when you’re jiving to the rhythm or swaying with a child in your arms. Go on – gyrate! Get those feet tapping to the music.

Connect with someone. Loneliness hurts! Pick up the phone. If nothing else, turn on the T.V. and listen to other people’s complaints. Hold your pet. Hug someone! Get out of the house and do something. The more you nurse your aloneness, the more alone you’ll feel. Stay connected until you feel better. People need people. You may still feel alone unless you share your grief with someone else. Sharing makes others feel better, too.

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“Sea Nymph” acrylic on 24×18 canvas

Go for a walk. Yes, I know, you don’t feel like it; but do it anyway!  I walked ten miles one day and still didn’t feel any better than when I started, but I managed to sleep well that night. If that’s all you get out of your walk, at least you may feel better in the morning. Walking gets your blood moving. Sometimes depression may be as simple as lack of adequate blood flow to the brain. A sedentary person ages faster because the muscles and bones are starving for the life blood that stimulates and feeds them. On your walk, count the number of people you pass. Try to remember their faces. The next time you see them, greet them with a smile and a friendly hello.

If you earnestly try to do the above and you still feel like you’re stuck in a deep dark pit, get help! After my divorce, I was confused, lost and completely alone. My former friends had disappeared. My neighbors turned their heads when I passed. New friends were mostly users who took advantage of my vulnerability. I sought out help. A psychologist prescribed Prozac and I began to feel like a new person. I could think clearly, gauge my surroundings more realistically, and I regained my usual optimistic personality. Never try to go it alone. Give yourself every opportunity to get well!

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“Broken Hearted” pastel on 11×14 Bristol; matted and ready to frame

Concentrate on your own needs for a change. You’re having trouble helping yourself. This isn’t the time to change the world. Focus on you. Don’t worry about the past. Quit fretting about the future. Take one day at a time, one step at a time. Get help from a professional, and by all means, follow your doctor’s advice. If he or she says “Don’t drink” that’s what they mean (alcohol and medications don’t mix). If they say you should stay away from negative friends who pull you downward, follow their advice.

Whether you sink or swim, the job of wellness is yours. If you continue to thumb your nose at those who offer help and disregard sound advice, you will be playing the “poor me” game for the rest of your life.

Yes, you can do it! You were made for joy and happiness. Quit comparing yourself to others and start noticing your own progress. Rejoice in simple achievements. Don’t allow others to take you back to that dark place. If that means leaving certain people behind, do it! You are on a journey of health and wellness. You have a right to be happy. You are “divinely and beautifully made.” Reach for what your own heart cries out and yearns for. Don’t look back!

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“First Daffodil” mixed media on canvas

Calamities, Disasters and Embarassing Blunders

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"Oopsi Daisy" Inez Ibis falls as she tries to fly with her injured leg.

“Oopsi Daisy” Inez Ibis falls as she tries to fly with her injured leg.

Certain people are always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though innocent, they often collide with those who are not. Law abiding, oblivious and unafraid, they may end up in an intersection with a drunk driver’s car wrapped around theirs. They fall into holes that others leave uncovered. They trip on the obstacles that careless people leave behind. We call these folks accident prone.

My niece was one of those people. Her brand new Mazda Miata was totaled when someone else ran a red light. She hit a rock while mountain biking and spun out of control. A few minutes before, she had loaned her helmet to her riding companion; yet it was she who managed to hit the rock, skid sideways, and wipe out in gravel causing a tragic head injury which required months of rehabilitation.

I don’t know whether I’m accident prone or just clumsy. But under stress, I have a tendency to drop things. I shatter dishes and glasses, and pull embarrassing blunders. After a stressful divorce, I was out on a date eating buttery movie popcorn. I had placed my soda on the floor within reach, or so I thought. I reached down to pick it up, and got as far as my lap when the lid came off spilling sticky liquid all over my skirt. The rest of the evening I sat in my wet outfit trying to ignore what just happened.

I’ve bumped the straw on my glass, reaching for the salt, causing water to spill all over the table; I’ve dropped my silverware when it stuck to my forearm and then crashed noisily to the floor; I’ve spilled hot coffee over my blouse when the cup I lifted to my mouth turned out to be light-weight melamine instead of stoneware.

Calamity follows some people wherever they go. And if not them, to those they associate their lives with. In 1852, Martha Jane Cannary was born; the oldest of five siblings, in Princeton, MO., though she sometimes claimed Illinois or Wyoming in her dairies.

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Martha Jane Cannary

She was married, or so she says, to Clinton Burke in 1885. They lived together for at least six years, but the marriage was never documented and historians doubt its existence. A child came out of that union, although it may have been Burke’s before he met Martha Jane or hers with another man. Things recorded in her dairies were part truth and part fiction. Her life was fraught with difficulties and she may have wrote them as she wished them to be.

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Martha Jane dressed as a man.

In later years, Martha Jane dressed in every way like a man. She moved around mining towns, railroad camps and the occasional military fort. She worked on the railroad and as a mule skinner to “eke out a living.” She may have protected herself from abuse by dressing as a man, although, some say she may also have worked as a prostitute.

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Martha Jane on her mount.

Stocky and strong, she worked like a man, drank like a man, and was a real frontiersman. She worked as a “Scout” and guide, but the Indians stayed away from her thinking she was “titched.” A good marksman, she appeared in Wild West shows with Buffalo Bill. When she died (most likely from pneumonia, inflammation of the bowels, or alcoholism), she was buried next to Wild Bill in Deadwood, Dakota at Mount Moriah Cemetery.

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She had a rough and tumble life. She threatened any man who bothered her with a “calamity” and soon became known as Calamity Jane. As her name implied, she was a most interesting and tragic person who seemed often to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Calamity Jane’s feminine side.

Link to her biography:
Calamity Jane Biography

We all have our days; some of us more than others. We fail to check out our surroundings for trip wires and red flags. We hurry too fast when we should slow down. We allow our uneasiness in new situations to shake us up. We become distracted by conversation and the noise level around us.

In either case, instead of being ourselves and feeling relaxed, we try to fit in and mimic the behavior of others making us feel more unnatural and uneasy. We may be too eager to please, or too curious about matters which are none of our business.

A favorite children’s book “Curious George” by Hans Agusto and Margret Rey is behind many books and a children’s T.V. show. During the episodes, George is always getting into trouble because of his curious nature. We love his escapades with the beloved “man in the yellow hat!”

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Curiosity helps us learn new things, but it may also be our downfall.

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Jean Partrager the lead character in “As Time Goes By” on PBS is about as curious as anyone can get. She listens behind closed doors and offers unwanted advice when others can’t make decisions. She gets her panties in a twist so often that she tells white lies to cover up her falsehoods. Her intentions are good; the well being of her family and loved ones, but she lives out the adage: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”

Is there a cure for people who meddle or for those who find themselves the brunt of small jokes or unwanted disaster? Probably not, but I find this advice helpful: “make the best of every situation, and allow laughter and good humor to put everyone else at ease.”

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“Inez Ibis sees stars when she is hit by a car.”

Those Awkward Moments – Filling in the Gaps

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A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

Some things, if repeated often enough, catch on. Take the word “awkward” said in a sing song voice after someone puts their foot in their mouth or there’s a lapse in conversation.

It happens to all of us. When my husband and I were dating, he’d fill in those silent spaces by saying: “Yup, yup, yup.” I tease him about it now; but obviously, when we were getting to know each other, he felt uneasy when there was a “pregnant pause” between our exchanges.

I’m a writer and an artist by trade so I’m better on paper and canvas than in verbal discussions where the bold and the loud hold sway. Maturity and life hurdles have given me muster, but essentially “chit chat” is not one of my strong suits.

Once I bumped into a mirrored pillar in a department store and said “excuse me.” When I looked up and saw that the open-mouthed face staring back was mine, I laughed in surprise. It’s healthy to laugh at yourself. When things go wrong seeing the humor can soften a bad situation.

Like the time my teenaged boyfriend walked me home from school and the elastic around my waist band snapped. I felt my slip crumple to the ground. Hey, at least it wasn’t panties! I stepped out of the slip, rolled it in a ball and carried it under my arm as we walked home. Nothing to fret about. Just another reason to make light of an embarrassing scene.

"Kindred Spirits" 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

“Kindred Spirits” 30 x 24 mixed media on canvas

Another time I wore my skirt inside out to a meeting. I didn’t notice until half-way through the speaker’s message, and then I turned three shades of red thinking that the frayed seams and ragged hemline announced my stupidity. A quick trip to the girl’s room fixed my dilemma before any fuss could be made of it.

Waiters and waitresses are notorious for being on the receiving end of complaints by getting skimpy tips and insults. A waitress once spilled a glass of soda into my lap and apologized profusely. I could tell by her body language and facial expression that she expected an irate tongue lashing. When I smiled and said, “Everyone makes mistakes,” she breathed a sigh of relief. How could I not forgive her when I’m a klutz myself by nature?

On the news recently, someone pulled out a gun and shot someone for spilling a cocktail on his expensive suit. Many people take offense at far less than this. The world is turning into a population of whiny, short-tempered egoists who want their lives to progress without any problems. Pity the person who gets in their way.

Awkwardness is part of growing up, for Heaven’s sake; a stage of life prone to accidents. Arms and legs grow faster than we know how to use them. One day we’re short people with the perspective of a pup, and before we know it we’re towering over our parents but still under their rule and command. This odd time needs to be handled with patience and good humor.

"Shimmy Shake" 11 x 14 acrylic in black box frame

“Shimmy Shake” 11 x 14 acrylic in red box frame

My first marriage died from lack of humor. When you can’t laugh at yourself, or you resent other people teasing you or playfully trying to ease you out of a bad moment, you’ve got a compatibility problem.

Irritable, touchy people hate it when you try to cheer them up. They’re afraid that if they laugh or give into humor they might lose control and compromise their dictatorship.

Shouting from behind may get people to move, but real leadership beckons from the front with words of encouragement that say: “You can do it! Come on – follow me; I’ll show you how. Let’s do it together.”

Patience and kindness can bridge those awkward times we find ourselves in. No one has a “right” to make other people miserable or to constantly demand his or her own way. Relationships require that both parties get something out of it. Unpleasant personal encounters and dealings with other people should always be courteous and respectful, period!

"And All that Jazz" 11 x 14 acrylic in red box frame

“And All that Jazz” 11 x 14 acrylic in red box frame

Healthy ways to vent your Anger and Avoid Hurting Others

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A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

Have you ever been used as a scapegoat? Have you felt the brunt of anger lobbed at you for someone else’s mistake?

When I was in 6th grade, a nasty letter was written that caused someone else much grief. My name was signed as the sender. Although I denied it, the label stuck. My friends peeled off as quickly as an overripe banana. I stood alone defending my lost honor. I was the fall guy; the whipping boy (or girl) for the whole class. I was singled out as a bully.

By the time the actual writer of the letter was discovered, it was too late. I remained forever tainted by the incident like yesterday’s chewing gum on the bottom of a shoe.

When bad things happen, people look for someone to blame. Sometimes it’s the person nearest to the scene. At other times, as in this instance, someone forges your name and incriminates you damaging both your reputation and self-esteem. Once people have someone they can rant on or whip, they feel better, even though it may be the wrong person.

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I have been reading several books on slavery. The last two especially had an impact on me: “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd, and “The Kitchen House” by Kathleen Grissom. What did I learn from reading these books? Above all, that slavery is an abomination. Anytime weak human beings can own other human beings they’re going to abuse them. Even though some slave owners may have treated their slaves civilly, most did not.

Evil, cowardly owners took out their own frustrations and anger on the most helpless and defenseless. If you dared to speak up, a hammer might be used to slam out your front teeth, or a whip used to gouge bloody stripes on your back. You may have been starved, beaten, maimed, forced to work with little food all in the name of control and obedience.

I believe this practice will forever scar America or any country where it is practiced. Today, young alien girls are forced into sexual slavery. Their illegal entry into this country makes them vulnerable and alone. They become easy prey to the low-lives that creep out of the depths of hell to use and abuse them. While horrifying and ugly, these personal assaults are not the only way to cause pain.

Gossip and untruths can hurt the innocent and scar them for life. Because of my childhood experience, I still don’t make friends easily, even though I love people. I’ve been accused of being “aloof” as I test the waters about who I can trust. My heart goes out to young people who are betrayed by their so-called friends or manipulated by an adult or a leader with ulterior motives. The anger from this kind of trauma has to go somewhere.

I once received a gift. It was a yellow calico doll with a label that read: “Damn it Doll.” A tag with instructions said: “When you feel angry, grab a hold of doll’s legs and whack it against a wall or a table. Repeat action until you feel better.”

I’ve used my “Damn it Doll” more than a few times. I must admit I felt better afterward. A few solid whacks and the pent up anger inside of me was released. The Doll became my whipping boy. Instead of unleashing my anger on the perpetrator, I vented my inner demons, with the help of the doll, on inanimate objects.

We all need a way to release our anger. If we don’t, anger may turn inward and become depression. Leave the rough stuff to the demons. Find your own “whipping boy” preferably a non-living object and whack your way to freedom. Save your own dignity and that of someone else.