Sued51's Blog

{April 7, 2014}   Daily Prompt: Make Me Smile

This daily prompt could be answered by some of the same things that I listed in the Singing the Blues post. But because it is spring, and I love to hear the birds sing…here’s a cheery song for today that makes me smile:

In case that doesn’t work,  how could I NOT smile looking at my relaxed and trusting kitty??

cat sleeping

Relaxed and Content Cat


The cats know when I need them...

The cats know when I need them…

This prompt is timely. I am having one of those days today when I feel like a cartoon character hanging off the cliff by that one skinny little branch…

I usually have to do a LOT of different things to get out of it. A combination of activities usually does the trick.

My number one tactic is to pet and play with my cats. They always know when I need them.

Another tool is to read uplifting materials…and yet sometimes the opposite helps: singing the “blues” as the title says. I listen to sad music, cry and get it out of my system. A couple of songs that are guaranteed to make me cry: “Sparrow” by Simon & Garfunkel or Lyle Lovett singing “Texas Trilogy.” (Below is the original version…couldn’t find a YouTube video of Lyle Lovett performing it. The last song in the trilogy, Bosque County Romance, is the one that sets me off.) A sad movie can do the trick as well.

Walking is always good or yoga, or meditation using a positive message like “God loves me” or “Serenity” or “Abundance” can help.

Writing about it: blogging and knowing that others feel the same makes me feel less alone. Writing/reading a gratitude list. I still haven’t completed the whole alphabet but I work on it periodically.

Sometimes looking at old pictures of happier times can make me smile. Taking new pictures is sure to get my attention off of myself and my life and onto an activity I enjoy.

Finally, just going about my day and being present during simple tasks can sweep the blues away and allow me to toss them in the bucket and look forward to tomorrow.

It IS Friday after all. 🙂

It’s a project, like refacing kitchen cabinets or refinishing furniture. Re-examining events in our lives, interpreting them, reinterpreting them…even if it means what I used to call “deluding yourself” and trying to enjoy the new look. Convincing yourself that it looks good after all the work…

Yesterday I started writing about Christmas memories in response to the daily prompt…it was a simple light-hearted post about my best and worst Christmas memories…but I didn’t finish it before I had to go to work. Then last night I had some bad luck. I tried to wake up today and have a good attitude. When I went back to the draft of the Christmas post…suddenly the worst Christmas seemed to be a metaphor for my whole life…UGH!

So now I’m ONLY writing about that hoping that if I write it down and re-interpret it, put a funny face on it, it might change things????  So here goes…the worst Christmas from a child’s point of view…

I think the secret purpose for Christmas stockings was that they kept us occupied long enough for our exhausted parents to get just-a-little more sleep! The rules were that we could get up whatever time we wanted and dig into our stockings, as long as we stayed quiet in our rooms at least until 6:00 am. So we would creep to the living room in the wee dark hours of Christmas morning, grab our stockings and race back to our rooms like squirrels with nuts. (In those days when my parents had very little money, that would literally be what was in the stockings…candy, nuts and fruit, an early breakfast.)

On this particular Christmas — one when I was still quite young and believed in Santa Claus — when I dumped my stocking on my bed, what did I find, but coal and crumpled paper. What???!!! I raced to my older brother’s room to see what he got. On his bed he had a load of candy and other treasures. “You got that?!” I said. He looked me in the eye and said, “Yes…what did you get?” The tears began to well up in my eyes. “I got crumpled paper and a lump of coal!” “Well,” he said matter-of-factly, “I guess Santa thought you were bad.” Now, I was a goody-two-shoes type of child who always tried to do the right thing and follow the rules, and yet…I BELIEVED this! I ran to my parents room crying my eyes out, disobeying the rules that you stay quiet until at least 6:00 am on Christmas morning. They grudgingly got up, not understanding what had me SO upset. They followed me to my brother’s room and figured out what was going on…he thought it was a funny joke to take my stocking stuff and replace it with junk. My parents retrieved my gifts and soothed me, but there was a pall cast over my day. Telling that story today I think that pall is still on me…

I opened the stocking of my life and found coal, despite my best efforts…and what did I do (and what am I still doing?). I cried about it. Only now, I cry to God. Is this REALLY what I deserve? When I don’t cry, I simply try to convince myself that the coal and paper are good…it means I have heat. But I know both reactions are unhealthy.

As I write this, I am determined NOT to keep handling this the same way. Today I am deciding to take my empty stocking and go off and search for my DESERVED treats. They have to be out there somewhere…Progress not perfection…it’s okay to share the struggles because we all have them.

I will just keep sanding…sometimes it takes patience and a lot of coats of stain to make them look good.

{June 21, 2013}   But Where Do I Go From Here?

cat toy

The World on a Rope…

“When you get to the end of your rope. Tie a knot and hang on.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

I’m trying. But I feel like the world’s toy.

I’m in the midst of moving to a much, much smaller place…Alone. I’ve been doing it gradually, before work, after work, lifting everything I can by myself. Yesterday I hurt my back, I haven’t been sleeping; my rope is frayed.

I haven’t been posting much lately…I have found it difficult to find the time or the energy. But please hang in there, my readers, I’ll be back soon. Even if the rope breaks, I will roll away to somewhere interesting, I’m sure. When we let go is when we find the place we can’t otherwise find!


For Father’s Day I worked on a photo collage of my father. Since he died, I think about him almost every day. My mother and I talk about how she meets people at the pharmacy, bank, and senior center who say they still miss him. He was a light in many people’s average days.

My father drew cartoons his whole life; he carried more than a few in his pocket that he could whip out at any time and show people. He never had them published; he was too busy taking care of his family and living life. At the wake, we displayed a notebook full of them and people lined up to look at them. Since he’s been gone we have found countless poems written on scraps of paper and the backs of envelopes; they were never published. The last few years of his life, he tried writing down his stories; he said he was working on his memoirs. He never finished them.

One of my biggest fears has always been that I would repeat his life, that I would be filled with regret for not doing what I wanted to do and not fulfill my potential. He had his moments — his poems reveal it — when he felt regret and disappointment. Yet my father did a lot during his 84 years. He saved several people’s lives by being at the right place at the right time and not hesitating to act: a neighbor who cut his leg with a chainsaw; an older man who slipped underwater at the gym pool. At his funeral I talked about how he cared for a neighbor’s dog that got hit by a car, and how I remembered his feeding a baby bird with an eye dropper that had fallen out of its nest. Stray animals always seemed to end up at our door; if they didn’t find a home with us, my father would find them a home somewhere else.

He made a lot of people laugh; he was adored by his family. What I have been thinking a lot about lately is that he lived an extraordinary ordinary life. I ponder how many people’s lives the “average” person touches during their lifetime? I wonder how many lives my father touched in his lifetime as an “average” man? How many meaningful interactions does a “lifetime” include? There are so many factors. Some people choose professions that are inherently influential: teachers, nurses, or ministers. My father was an office worker for most of his life, and yet, wherever he went he made friends. He interacted with bank tellers, cashiers, and waitresses; he made their day with his jokes, warmth, and friendliness.

I’m over halfway through my life and I haven’t saved any; I don’t think I have it in me (I’m not rational under pressure). I’ll never live up to him in that way. Although I am family-oriented, I don’t have my own family. I do know I have touched some lives because people have told me (some complete strangers that I did something for without thinking about it, others were acquaintances that I wrote poems for). I’m at an evaluating time in my life: old dreams have died and new dreams seem elusive.

Though I sometimes feel I have more of my father’s faults than his attributes, I now recognize it is worthwhile to aspire to be him and not dread it. We can’t all be movie stars, writers, or teachers, but we can all aspire to live an extraordinary ordinary life.

{November 29, 2010}   Curley’s Secret of Life

No, I’m not talking about one of the Three Stooges; I’m talking about the cowboy character (played by Jack Palance) in the movie “City Slickers.”   I just recently watched this 1991 movie again.  The lead character, Mitch (played by Billy Crystal) goes on a cattle drive with his friends to find himself and the meaning of his life.  He confides in Curley about his angst while they ride along, and Curley’s response is to hold up his index finger.  It took the entire movie for Mitch to find out what that meant for him.

I bring this up because a good friend of mine who loves history recently went through a rigorous training course in order to be able to give tours of a local historic site.  She was working full-time (at what she felt was an unfulfilling day job), and yet she managed to put in sometimes up to 30 hours a week studying, reading, writing, and preparing and practicing sample tours.  In the end, she passed the required 45-minute tour “audition”, and she is now giving tours.

She told me that if she knew up front how much work it would be, she might not have taken on the challenge, but she is glad she did.  A funny thing happened during and since she completed all that intense work — she said she stopped focusing on how much her full-time job bored her; she still has the desire to read and learn even more about the subject of her tours.  She rediscovered a passion.

On the way home from dinner with her and her husband, I told my hubby that I found her experience inspiring.  He said nothing but smiled and held up his index finger like Curley.  In that moment I was struck by a realization: I have always known what that meant for me, but I was always afraid.  Afraid of the commitment and that the work would simply be exhausting, not energizing.  Before I even tried, I regretted all the things that I wouldn’t do because I was concentrating on the “one” thing.  I was deathly afraid of going down the road to failure and whether I could ever return.  I always turned around when I saw a curve or a hill in front of me and kept going back to the crossroad to try another “easier” road.

Well… I’m at the age now that there is no regret to feel because I had fun and had great experiences.  Like Warren Beatty when he finally settled down with Annette Benning, I know it is time to stop being afraid, embrace the work of commitment and really enjoy the rest of my life feeling I’m in the right place and doing the right thing.

et cetera
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