Bravery In The Wee Hours

Ready. I prepared to hit the spider my cats had cornered in the bathroom, and I held a napkin for the clean-up—me, the tired human living with two felines who chase bugs.

Lions, Tigers, and Bears

Even in the middle of the night, my male cat leaps over objects to obtain prey. Like the predators they are, my two lovely beasts will stop at nothing, not even toppling lamps, to reach a moth or “water bug.” I put the last in quotes since exterminators have informed me those large critters are American Roaches.

Oh My!

It was before my coffee, and I expected to see one of the brown American visitors being the latest prey. Until I saw it wasn’t. I’d been rather blasé regarding the event because of my assumption. Seeing changed my attitude. Every inner alarm came on and I was awake. I started grabbing needed supplies and shouting commands like a drill sergeant, “I need paper towels.” I also snatched a shoe I’d slipped off after work last night.

I was ready.

I flew into the bathroom, still freaking out about seeing the massive spider in front of the two cats, and then I looked closer. Dammit! It was a black plastic Halloween spider. My cats had spoofed me.

Cats! They do the darnedest things.

Cats make me smile

Soup is Better the Next Day

Soup’s hard to mess up. You can, but you can fix it by readjusting your ingredients. My life has been a lot like a soup. I’ve learned that life is complex and never simple as I pass the 56-year mark. The postman brings solicitations from AARP and Medicare. I yell I’m not old. My mind believes I’m capable of racing with the children. My legs know different. When a young man on YouTube ridicules me and calls me Old Lady, I smirk, knowing there’s a point when we all get there, even his sorry self.

Why Soup Tastes Better the Next Day (most of the time)

Letting a finished pot of soup hang out overnight means that harsh flavors soften, the ingredients have a chance to absorb the tasty broth, and everything transforms from very distinct flavors into one harmonious soup.

Christine Gallary

At ten, when I had knobby knees, it was impossible to think of marriage and sleeping in the same bed with a man. Oh, I was curious enough, but I thought the world would end before I grew up. My sister-in-law reassured me that there would be time. I kept seeing what the preachers taught, the fear speeches. I saw the cracks in the ground. Earthquakes. Wars and rumors of wars. Signs in the heavens. Yes, the world was ending, and I wouldn’t get a chance to be married or have children. I’d never had a first kiss.

“Well, I suppose nothing is meant to last forever. We have to make room for other people. It’s a wheel. You get on, you have to go to the end. And then somebody has the same opportunity to go to the end and so on.” – Vivian Maier, nanny and photographer

Life isn’t the pretty pictures you see in the magazine. Our moments, each one of them, are important. Live them. It’s not a delicate family portrait. Life is pleasure and pain. I’ve had kisses that made me weak in the knees. I have found a friend and a lover. Joy. Other moments in my life have crushed me with grief.

I was 15 when I kissed a boy for the first time. It was at a park with my youth group—a very long time ago. It was a kiss. No sparks. In those days, I’d pictured perfection, my future unfolding full of joy and happiness. I was good, kind, so I expected rewards.

I once expected a solitary perfect moment, a portrait, but life is a collage of photos. Life is the soup.

Bowls and Memories

The world was big and ready to be explored when I was four. It was also a scary place where I could fall. But the fear didn’t stop me.

There was a hole in the kitchen floor. In my two-year-old mind, it was huge. My family lived in a travel trailer. There were a hundred acres of land with pecan trees and livestock, horses, chickens, all with a nearby river and wooded area, wild enough for any child’s fantasy. The hole—I avoided it, walked around it, afraid of falling.

When I was three or four, I remember picking pecans. My first experience with money and the thrill of commerce. Power.

I remember sitting carefully on the toilet. Mom bought an adapter seat so that I wouldn’t be afraid.

Falling in holes, dropping in toilets, we can’t forget that I dove out the door. I was young. Early that morning, dad had been plowing the cornfield, and he had a bowl that he wanted me to come and get. I was happy to run to help — a good little worker. I stood on the edge of the open door, and I knew I should sit down and scoot. The steps were tall. Four-year-old little legs can’t leap the way her big brothers do, but I never realized this. So I jumped.

I jumped and missed the steps. What happened afterward is a blur. I screamed. I’d fallen awkwardly on my arm, pinning it under my body against the concrete steps. People say there’s no pain when you break a bone. Or it hurts worse if you’re an adult. I don’t know what type of weed they’re smoking because pain hurts everyone.

For fifty years, I’ve tried to convince Mom that I jumped, that Dad did not force me to run outside for the bowl, but she’s stayed stuck in the blaming. Dad will always be The Evil One. And I’m not sure where that puts me.

I had difficulties at a young age. As a kid, my life was out of my hands. Written in these paragraphs are memories, vivid. They are the squares of fabric I’ve sewn into my life. Why did I save these and shelve the others? Memories are packets, and you change them each time you examine them. And every person who sees an event will see it differently.

How do you see yourself?

That’ll Do Pig

Picture – me as I was some years ago. I was a chubby lady jogging and hugging through my neighborhood in old running shoes and shorts, a disposable water bottle. I can’t say my pace was worthy of applause. My GPS phone app clocked me at 5 K in 57 minutes. And that’s estimating that my last 30 minutes will be the same as my first, which was not happening. More likely, I’d lean on a tree and watch a few birds fight with the squirrels. By the time I got another mile and a half (about 2.4 K) of running in, I was sweating like it was August in Texas. My calves were burning, and my knees hurt. Not a picture of athletic prowess.

-Gotta love sweat humor.

We feel silly when we start. The first step out the door in a strange outfit. But time passes. We practice, we learn. Hopefully, we develop good habits. It’s why we need good training early. I muscled up enough to run a few miles. My calves couldn’t fit into most of the dress boots in the stores. That was fine. I was proud of my legs. I could run up the hills in my neighborhood, and if you saw, you’d understand my satisfaction. Yeah, I felt good.

Aside: Running vs. Jogging.

The two are technically the same. Jogging doesn’t become running at a certain pace. Jogging is just an uncool word for some people.

– Me

Why debate the words? Run or jog. Possibly it started in the marathon running group. You don’t jog a marathon. When I looked up the terms in all the online running blogs I could find, no one was sure of the difference between the two. Jogging implies that you are trotting through the neighborhood with no purpose. In the case of running, people mean they are training for a run or a marathon. But that’s speculative.

When I began, with my out-of-date shoes, I felt awkward. So I purchased expensive running gear. Funnily enough, the models displaying running shorts and tanks are 5’10” and 100 pounds. Their BMI is probably 5%. I know, it’s really 14%, and I’m exaggerating, but they are thin girls. Lanky. Anorexic. My BMI is higher. All those chubs on my body are well-earned. It took a lot of cookies and pints of ice cream to build them.

Remember at the end of school? No more summer of lounging. Probably by now, the zeal of the first job is gone. Parenting, hobbies, and vocations are that way. It feels strained. Not quite right. Everyone sees you’re stumbling and fumbling. That makes me smile. Even though I may not run forever or attain a gazelle-like grace, I can stroll about the neighborhood dressed in trendy shorts and bright-colored shoes. And I tried something new.

Need something new? Here are a few suggestions.

Wed March 16, 2021 – Wed August 31 2022

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November 1-30, 2021

What Is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write #50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand new novel. They enter the month as elementary school teachers, mechanics, or stay-at-home parents. They leave novelists. 798,162 Active novelists 367,913 Novels completed #NANOWRITMO

Now- Current day

Be brave and speak up. Squeal like a pig. Do you have a sweat story or funny phrase? I would love to hear it. Share in the comments.

Jellyfish Fun

The day before my birthday is 9/11. I forgot again this year. I went to celebrate and enjoy myself. There were others at the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. It has a giant shark tank which was always my favorite, but this year l found a new love—the otter and beaver.

September 11, 2001, was tragic. We should not forget. We should never forget good things either. Celebrate life. Hold on to the ones you love.

For Those Who Feel Helpless

Heart wrenching. Yeah, that’s what it’s been.

After talking to a coworker about current events, I felt her pain. We have both lost people we love to Covid. When my mom broke her hip and was in the hospital, my brother and I couldn’t see her. Visitors were limited to two – my dad and his pastor. They were the only ones who could be there. These rules keep us safe, but they are heavy on the heart. It’s worse if your family has Covid because no one is going inside.

Without physical contact, how can we be of service to others? I’m no doctor or nurse who can treat a Covid patient. I write. I talk with friends and family. I pray for people in the world and those close to me. I can intend to do good. I can hold space for love and healing.

The spirited horse, which will try to win the race of its own accord, will run even faster if encouraged.

Ovid, Roman poet

What can we do?

To some, a prayer or a word of encouragement isn’t their thing. I hear you. Action is your cure. So, take action. Join a team with a cause. Don’t use this time as an excuse for immobility. Frozen injustice is still injustice. We participate in the not caring, by turning away. And yes, I know – I am guilty at times. Satisfaction is around the corner. Read, The Keys to Life

Intention, Holding Space, What?

Action is force. It shows you have power, which is why we need action after a tragedy. A hurricane hits the coast, and people volunteer to help. It’s only after years and years of losses when the feeling of injury has set up house. This is when our power is dragging. When our batteries are low, we can’t muscle another show of strength. The next generation can fight. There may be a way to prevent power outages in our society.

If we are together, as a team, then we’re making a pact. In the old days, these contracts were sacred. As kids, we would save each other a seat on the bus or in the cafeteria. These are examples of holding space. And we can keep each other strong.

“It takes two flints to make a fire.”

Louisa May Alcott (Novelist)

I’ll keep sharing my thoughts with you. And I’ll continue reading yours. Thank you for being here with me.

Fighting

I struggle with “I am worthy of asking for help”
I struggle with “I am loved enough”
I struggle with “I can have the ability to do - the power - the authority even”
Am I enough?

I want to promote myself
I want to set boundaries - and not to back down
I want to accept all of me.

Yet, that includes my struggles and tears, and body pain.
- janetkwest.com

The Balance of Living

Today seems like a good day for taking it easy. I believe it’s good to find balance in each day. I want to work, rest, be generous, and remember to find the “awe” of life by watching a sunset or doing things I enjoy.

Life is about living. As soon as we stop and plop ourselves onto a couch, our purpose is gone. Well, I think you know what happens next. It’s the downhill roll. I want to live and be full of the energy of growth. Keep going. Learn new things. Go to new places. Or do stupid stuff. Have fun in this life.

I KNOW it’s not easy. And I’m sorry for those who are struggling. We need to keep trying. I will, and I hope you will be here with me.

#Thankyou for being here with me. Could you show me your fun and happy pictures? #happypictures

Softness

We want to come back to the group, remember the warmth and laughter, but some of us never belonged. We didn’t know the feeling of loving arms nor the joy of being welcomed. The lack of love bleeds into our present life, making it difficult to find peace, to accept everyone around us.

We see our life as a struggle. It’s all we know. Hardship is proof that we matter. But we tire of the game.

A Little Old & A Little New

It has taken me years to learn, to heal. I have gone to therapy and read books. Each has been a step for recovery. You don’t see why you need help except that your life isn’t working. There is pain. Then, amazingly your vision clears as you learn.

I believe in learning. If you can be brave, you can heal. Only you can decide your best practices.