Featured

Walk the Goats: Blog Name Origin Story

“Cute dogs,” I tell the person in front of me walking their pets, partially hidden by the tall grass framing the dirt pathway.

They turn. I get a better look. They’re not dogs. They’re goats. Two miniature goats. On leashes. Being taken out for a walk in our local park.

What unexpected and surprising things life can serve up, I thought.

That is the birth-story behind this blog’s name.

Continue reading “Walk the Goats: Blog Name Origin Story”

My Blog and I are Fighting Today

My blog and I have been fighting today. Ok, maybe just not cooperating. I’ve taken a stab at two different posts, and it ain’t happening. I’m bailing on both. I’ll come back to them in a day or so and see if I can herd some cogent thoughts and sentences together. Or start something new.

In the meantime, here’s a quote from my Headspace meditation app:

Headspace app

Maybe I’m obsessing or resisting too much.

Hope things are going easier for you! 😊

 

Photo source: Headspace


 

Meditation Quote: Knowing Oneself

Headspace

I like this quote, yet I’m having a hard time saying why. There’s something about it that encourages me to rely on myself more; to trust that I know who I am, even if I don’t know myself fully. Is it even possible to know oneself fully?

When I’m uncertain, there may be good cause to look to others for guidance. But there may be equal cause to sit with myself; to try and gain a clearer sense of my own being.

I like to think the quote is reminding me that my sense of self is actually there; that there is a knowing, and I can rely on it.

And to remind me that the opinions of others may, in fact, be clouded by their own not knowing.

Does this quote resonate for you? I’d love to get your take on it.

 

Photo source: Headspace


 

Not Just a Car Crash. Also a Relationship Lesson.

Pixabay: Pixel-mixer. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Bubba and I were having a tiff. It was a Sunday night around 10 pm. We were in the house, face-to-face, quibbling about something.

Suddenly, from outside, the crunching sound of metal crashing into metal screamed at us.  Whatever Bubba and I were talking about, it stopped. We turned, in unison, and headed down the hall.  As we neared the front door, we heard a second crash.

Our neighborhood is filled with cars parked on the street; mine was one of them.

That doesn’t sound good, one of us said.

And how the ‘eff can there be two crashes?

My 5-year-old Nissan was in front of our house, shoved a couple of feet forward from where I had parked it. Slightly behind was a black sports car, askew and partially jutting out into the road. I walked over to my car. The rear, left corner was smashed, the tire and rim damaged; clearly not drivable.

Bubba walked over to the window of the black car and confirmed the driver was okay; dazed, but okay. License and insurance information was obtained. The driver, distraught over a fight he’d had with his wife, could barely hold back tears.

We asked questions: Had he hit my car twice? Yes. How had he managed that? He’d turned his steering wheel to drive his car around mine. Unbeknownst to him, his steering column had broken with the first crash, so his tires hadn’t turned. When he accelerated, his car ran into mine a second time.

Neighbors who had come outside upon hearing the crash drifted back in. Their cars were fine; it was a hiccup to their normal Sunday nights. I called my insurance company; this was more than a hiccup for me.

I drove a rental car while the insurance process proceeded. Someone advised me my insurance company would stop paying for the rental once my vehicle was either fixed or deemed totaled. The insurance adjuster hinted that totaled was likely; I felt an urgency to decide on a replacement car. Two weeks after my Nissan was totaled, I came home with a Honda CR-V.

I was initially ticked-off that my low-mileage, great condition Nissan was destroyed.  But it turns out I like my replacement car better. Plus, no one was injured, and I’ve since received multiple attorney letters claiming my old Nissan is currently on a lemon list.  Not my problem! I don’t own it anymore!

The best lesson for me was I got to see how quickly Bubba and I switched gears; how we went from being at odds with each other to uniting, joining together to take on whatever was out there. My car may have been totaled, but my relationship with Bubba was strengthened.

 

Photo source: Pixel-mixer on Pixabay


 

Finding—Then Losing—Enlightenment

Pixabay: qimono. Free for commercial use; no attribution required.Sometimes Bubba or I experience a bright ah-ha moment, as if a curtain of confusion is pulled aside and some aspect of life suddenly makes sense. Akin to realizing the snake in the corner we’ve been scared of isn’t a snake at all, but a hose.

We explain our brilliant insight to the other, who nods in enlightened understanding. Yes, yes! That’s my experience too! What an awesome analogy!

We grab pen and paper, write down our insight—as best we can—and sigh with satisfaction.  This, we’re sure, will help us understand life and ourselves better; it will help us navigate the next, similar stress that comes our way. It’s an amazing doorway to self-knowledge.

A few days later we revisit our notes, excited to reignite the spark of awareness we captured; to build on it. We look at what we wrote: Scribble, scribble, “all a giant mustache,” scribble, scribble.

Huh? What the ‘eff does that mean? How is life a “giant mustache?”

Bubba and I look at each other across the table; neither of us has a clue.  It had seemed so clear, so concise, so self-evident at the time. We were sure our shorthand scribble would make sense when we reread it later.

Well, one of us will say, at least we enjoyed our moment of enlightenment while we had it.

Anyone else have cryptic scribbles that leave you puzzled?

 

Photo source: qimono on Pixabay


 

Meditation Quote: Freedom of Mind

Headspace Quote Graphic

I recently wrote a two-part piece about navigating relationship when things aren’t going smoothly.  My kernel of understanding is reflected in this Headspace quote. Being okay with my mind—accepting it, even when it’s anxious—feels kinder than disapproving of it.   There’s freedom in that.

Here are my posts:

 

Photo source: Headspace


 

Part 2: Finding a Different Way

Pixabay: 947051. Free for commercial use; No attribution required

I want to prepare meals with Bubba without getting defensive and having a tiff. But what if defensive is ok?

Bubba and I have relationship patterns that sometimes scuff up against each other. It can result in momentary relationship glitches. Or derail a day.

Some are random and rare; others, predictable and more frequent.

In A Wretched Mess, I wrote about a common kitchen scuffle we experience: Bubba offers to help me cook, and I resist it, experiencing his help not as help, but as a statement I’m doing it wrong.

Bubba wants to enjoy making meals with me. My getting snippy takes away the fun, so he leaves the kitchen, usually with disapproval.  His leaving means we’re not doing it together, plus we’re both upset. It all feels crappy.

Continue reading “Part 2: Finding a Different Way”

Part 1: A Wretched Mess

147_Part1_Wretched Mess

Do you ever respond to something—or someone—in a way you wish you didn’t? Yet you respond that same way repeatedly, butting heads in a familiar dance pattern?

When Bubba and I started living together, one place we ran into relationship speed bumps was the kitchen, usually when I was preparing food. I rarely work off a recipe, so my style is free-form. I don’t actually know if what I’m making will work, but based on having watched mom cook—and enough personal success of my own—I’ve been content with my approach.

Then Bubba moved in. He’s comfortable in the kitchen. Sometimes he cooks; sometimes I do. When I’m cooking, he often offers to help. But instead of welcoming his offers, I’ve often resisted them; gotten defensive.

Continue reading “Part 1: A Wretched Mess”

Why Do I Buy Stuff I Don’t Need?

Pixabay: evita-ochel. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

I think I’m in control. Until I come out of a store having bought something that was not remotely on my mind when I went in.

What did I spend $40 on at Marshalls?

I was returning things I’d bought a week earlier and grabbed the receipt.  A $40 item jumped out at me: Gourmet Housewares followed by a string of UPC numbers that provided no further clue as to what it was. What could I have spent $40 on at Marshalls? And, more surprisingly, why couldn’t I remember what it was?

I tried recalling the Gourmet Housewares section I’d shopped in, and what items I’d considered. I did a mental walk-through of my house, trying to envision each room, striving to recall if there was something I’d needed—or wanted—for that room. Blank.

I could identify the other four, modestly-priced items on the receipt; how could I not remember the most expensive thing?

I swiveled in my chair, scanning my office space. Then I saw it.

Continue reading “Why Do I Buy Stuff I Don’t Need?”

Mental Exercises Then, Phone Numbers. Now, Passwords.

Pixabay: AbsolutVision. Free for commercial use; no attribution required.I used to remember phone numbers. Lots and lots of phone numbers.

Now I don’t, except for my dad’s, because he has a land line with the same number that existed before cell phones. The rest of the numbers I call are remembered for me by my phone. It feels weird to realize I couldn’t call Bubba or my daughter without my phone.

Now I remember passwords. Lots and lots of passwords.

Despite all the ways technology is disrupting things, I’m still getting my mental exercise.

 

Photo source: AbsolutVision on Pixabay


 

Rapid Rabbit Reminder!

Pixabay: Alexas_Fotos. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.

I forgot to say Rapid Rabbit on April 1st.  I remembered on May 1st. And I’m reminding myself—and you!—tonight to say it on August 1st.

If you know nothing about Rapid Rabbit or Rabbit Rabbit, read my prior posts.

Or just know this: saying Rabbit Rabbit first thing on the first of the month will, according to lore and legend, bring you luck. It certainly brings me a morning smile.

If you forget, this blogger shares some ways to set things right.

 

Photo source: Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay


 

How Four Numbers Made Me Feel Welcomed

Pixabay: 526663. Free for commercial use; no attribution required“What’s your phone number?” I ask a friend.

“5226,” they reply.

I’m visiting a different state, and being given only four numbers bewilders me. Then I remember where I am. Everyone in the area has the same area code and prefix, so the first 6-digits are all the same. It’s been that way for a long time.

Even though they have to dial 10-numbers to make any call—yes, even local ones—they give out only the last 4-digits when asked their number. It saves time and locals don’t even think about it. I feel honored I’m still treated as a local, even though I moved away years ago. But I have family here, come back regularly and our family roots go back a few generations, so that counts for something.

It’s one of those things that remind me of small ways I feel connected to a place. If I had no history with the area, the 4-digit response to my phone number question would make no sense at all. It would remind me of my outsider status, like hearing a foreign word and having to ask what it means.

Instead, my moment of confusion is quickly replaced with familiarity. Right, I remember. That’s all they need to tell me. The rest of the numbers are known. With that awareness, I experience a sense of being part of the group. They didn’t have to translate for me. I knew the language. This was still home.

 

Photo source: 526663 on Pixabay


 

Corn-on-the-Cob: Summer or Year-Round Food?

Pixabay: 1195798. Free for Commercial use; no attribution requiredWhy do I expect—and want—to eat corn-on-the-cob only during summer?

I suspect it’s because, growing up on the east coast, that’s when it was available. It was grown locally and sold at roadside stands. We’d grill up burgers, cut some summer tomatoes, shuck and boil a dozen ears of corn, slather on the butter and salt, and have ourselves an outdoor feast.

I didn’t realize how intimately I associate corn-on-the-cob only with summer until this year, when corn started to show up in the grocery stores. I never think about corn-on-the-cob except in the summer. I don’t crave it in the winter. I don’t look for it in the spring.

Then it struck me: I don’t want to be able to buy corn-on-the-cob during any other time of year.

For me, corn-on-the-cob is a summer food, like fresh peaches and real tomatoes, that only taste good when grown locally and seasonally. It’s a pleasure to be savored; appreciated partially because of its limited availability.

If corn-on-the-cob was suddenly available year-round, I suspect it would imitate winter-grown tomatoes: looks good on the outside, but taste-less on the inside.

Then I wondered, why isn’t corn-on-the-cob sold year-round?

Every other type of produce seems to be sold year-round, grown in another country and shipped to the U.S. And with corn, it doesn’t even need to be imported; we already grow a ton of it in the U.S.  Yes, most of it is used for other purposes, but…still.

So, given it’s already being grown, why isn’t corn-on-the-cob sold year-round?

Or maybe it is? And I have a blind spot and simply don’t see it in the store because I don’t want to see it?

(If so, I’m sure it’s my only blind spot 😊)

How ‘bout it.

Corn-on-the-cob: year-round or seasonal?

 

Photo source: 1195798 on Pixabay


 

The Contraceptive Pill [50 Things That Made the Modern Economy]

Cindy picture

Humans have sex. A potential consequence of sex is pregnancy. When pregnancy is unwanted, people come up with creative ways to prevent it. Crocodile dung. Half a lemon as a cervical cap.

The birth control pill is one of those pregnancy-prevention systems.  Under typical use, the failure rate for the pill is 6%, versus an 18% failure rate for condoms.  The sponge and diaphragm have failure rates similar to condoms.  When the pill is used optimally, the failure rate is even lower.

What I found most interesting about this episode was learning about the profound social and economic effects the pill had on society, especially for women.  First, for married women; and then, for young, unmarried women.

The pill was first approved in 1960, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that its availability expanded.  I came of age about the same time birth control became “the most popular form of contraception for 18 and 19-year-old women in the United States.” And this is when the economic impact started to be felt.

Continue reading “The Contraceptive Pill [50 Things That Made the Modern Economy]”

Black Dog

Years ago, driving down a dark road with my young daughter, we came upon a black dog in the middle of the road.

An utterance arose from within, without invitation. Sometimes life delivers succinct messages—no needless words—that remain permanently branded in our brains.

Pixabay: Pexels. Free for commercial use; no attribution required

Black dog.

In road.

At night.

Not good.

 

I tensed; swerved.

And missed it.

 

Photo source: Pexels on Pixabay


 

This is Not Good

Pixabay: OpenClipart-Vectors. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.My dad told me a story from his youth about hitting a skunk at night while driving his father’s car. When he got home and climbed out of the car, the skunk smell was strong. He smelled of skunk. He knew his mother would ask questions.

This is not good, he thought.

I’ve had that same thought; said the same thing when something went wrong: This is not good.

Like my dad, I don’t say, this is bad.

Why is that?

This is bad is shorter. To the point. Clear. Definitive. The opposite of not good is bad. Right?

But this is bad somehow sounds worse.  There’s good and there’s bad and this is bad is clearly bad.

This is not good subtly leaves open possibilities other than bad. Maybe this thing that is not good is actually…maybe…great? Not good slows down thinking; interrupts a clear and definitive conclusion of bad.

It gives some wiggle room; buys some time with the inner Judge.

Maybe that sounds like fuzzy logic, but it works for rice cookers, so I’ll take it.

And…I never learned how the skunk story ended.

But my dad survived.

 

Photo source: OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay


 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics as a Tool for Fiction Writers

Writing Resources2-Blog

If you’re a fiction writer and need to understand or flesh out a character’s job and/or industry, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on-line resources.

The BLS site contains tons of information, but a particularly helpful resource for job information is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which gives you job descriptions, work conditions, education needed, pay expectations and job outlook information; all things that can help you keep your character’s work from being flat. Or wrong.

In it, jobs are presented as individual occupations (for example, Air Traffic Controller) and incorporated within broader Occupational Groups (for example, Transportation and Material Moving).

Occupational Groups list specific jobs within that group, and include job summaries, entry-level education, and pay information for each individual job listed. Here’s a partial BLS screen shot of the Transportation and Material Moving Occupational Group:

139_BLS+JobInfo_Transp_7-16-19

The Individual Occupations section expands on specific jobs, providing more details, including a description of the job and work environment; what you need to do to get that job; state and area data; and occupations that are similar to the selected one. Here’s a partial BLS screen shot of the Air Traffic Controllers job:

139_BLS+JobInfo_AirTraffic_7-16-19

If you want to check their accuracy, read their write-up about something you know well. My own sanity-check (of accountants) left me comfortable that the site gives an accurate overview of that profession.

By poking around, you may even discover a job for one of your characters you never would have thought of.


Additional links:

 

Photo source: Walk the Goats


 

The Power of 10 Motivates

Pixabay: Clker-Free-Vector-Images. Free for commercial use; no attribution requiredYou’d think if I said I wanted to do something, I’d do it, right? Eat less? Exercise more? Sounds easy, and yet, when I take it head-on, it often doesn’t work.

Self-control, self-motivation, self-discipline all depend on one thing: the self. Problem is, in my experience of life, I often don’t have a single, dominating self operating. Different selves want different things, and the self that wants to exercise is met with resistance by a self that, well, doesn’t.

The self that doesn’t want to exercise doesn’t want to mind the self that does.

“You’re not going to tell me what to do,” it huffs, even though the you resisting is also the me wanting. It gets confusing.

Because I have multiple experiences in life where my own mind doesn’t agree with itself, I’ve come up with ways to overcome competing internal characters.  My trick-trash for uncluttering is one of them.

The Power of 10 is another one; a mental tool to help me navigate inner conflicts.

The Power of 10 defines success as 10-minutes of something: weeding, walking,  meditating. Whatever I’m resisting doing, I only have to do it for 10-minutes.

As long as I do it for 10-minutes, I feel good, because I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve.

Funny thing is, a lot of times I do more than 10-minutes. Willingly. Because the hardest part of getting going is, well, getting going; overcoming the inertia that keeps me from starting. Overcoming my own resistance.  Once the engine gets going, keeping it going takes less effort.

But if after 10 minutes I want to stop, I can and will. With a feeling of satisfied accomplishment.

It would be great to be that person who does what they say they want to do, without resistance. But I’m not. I was struggling to get back to blogging. I got this post written by telling myself I only had to write for 10 minutes today.

My fifth 10-minute timer just went off. Time to review, tag, and post.

The Power of 10.

 

Photo source: Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay


 

What Shakespeare Can Teach Us About PTSD [Things That Go Boom]

Pixabay: Alf-Marty. Free for commercial use; no attribution requiredShakespeare, war, PTSD and healing. This was a brilliant podcast episode that completely grabbed me.  Host Laicie Heeley talks with Stephan Wolfert, an army Vet, about his program, De-cruit, which helps veterans heal through Shakespeare and science.

Wolfert unexpectedly attended a performance of Shakespeare’s Richard III in Montana, where the words broke through to him in a way he’d never experienced. It was so profound he had a catharsis and was sobbing in the theater.

Out of this, he redirected his life to study drama and created Shakespeare workshops for vets.  For veterans—trained to operate within the military structure—reconnecting in civilian life often proves hard. But Shakespeare’s words speak to war, human connection and a multitude of emotions and deceits, all relevant topics in the military and in life.

Wolfert’s passion for the subject, and his personal experience of the healing power of Shakespeare’s words, made me grateful for his unique vision and reignited an interest in seeing Shakespeare.

This is an excellent podcast. I love the broad diversity of podcast topics; I love learning about the amazing things people are doing. And because it’s a podcast, we get to hear voices expressing passion, frustration and hope, in an incredibly intimate way.

Things that Go Boom is a “podcast about the ins, outs, and whathaveyous of what keeps us safe.”

Photo source: Alf-Marty on Pixabay