Sunday, August 10, 2008

Still Alive...

Just to let those of you who check in from time to time know that I am still alive and trying
to survive the chaos that is my life. I'm still smiling, am in good health and the BEST shape of my life!

Did competitive cycling & karaoke this year. I've made some good friends in these parts and I'm still making a study of life. Testing the waters a bit and always learning.

My husband took off for the summer- supposed to have some traveling job. We are officially separated now- have been for months. The kids went to PA for camp and visitation with the Grandparents all Summer. How I miss them.

I'm working my tail off and trying to decide of I'll still be a married woman in the next few mos. and how to go about making all the changes I need to make in my life. Don't have much time to write and feel the blog has served it's purpose in helping me sort things out. Still trying to decide where I stand with God at this time... but everything happens for a reason.

Life is an AMAZING journey! This will always be my motto- no matter what happens...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Thought Provoking Film...

'The Kingdom' is a powerful film. Despite being an action movie, presented some deep underlying thoughts. Being a woman and observing how women are regarded in the middle east made me feel as if I was suffocating. The idea of my poor sisters walking around in burkas.... well, that's just not right! Why can't they wear colors or patterns? Is that too much of a turn on? Why must they look as if they are in mourning all the time?? I love black- goes with everything, but try wearing it in 100+ degrees with your face & every inch of skin covered. Guess the only advantage is they must not get skin cancer much. lol

Anyway, after an American citizen loses his wife in an attack, the husband tearfully asks a Muslim, "Does Allah love your children more than mine? Does he love your wife more than he did mine?" This is the same question I would be tempted to ask of any Muslim intent on killing someone just because they are not Muslim. I greatly admire the open-hearted Ghandi and his idea of peaceful resistence, but against a bully so hateful as an extremist, your chances are probably be best if I have a magnum strapped to my leg and USE it!

Although, he isn't mentioned in the film, journalist, Danny Pearl was an honorable, gifted and peace-loving man. He was in the Middle East to present a fair and balanced picture of the events that were happening. His life was taken in front of a camera by evil, animalistic rage. One cannot imagine the fear and extreme disappointment that coursed through his veins as terrorist supporters made an example of him. His heart was likely broken knowing he would not live to see his son be born and his wife would be left a single mother. There was no mercy shown to this kind man. There IS NO HONOR is such a killing!!

The film points out that for all our big talk about righteousness and morals, Christian nations and those of Islam are equally as guilty of hatred. Yes, sadly it's true and cannot be denied. Much good has been done in the name of Christ, but more atrocities have been performed and more lives taken by "Christian Crusades" and occupation by "Christian" nations than by Muslim terrorists.

I am NOT excusing terrorist behavior in any way. It's insane and inexcusable. I do not believe Allah is pleased with such murderous tactics.

Hurting people, hurt people.

No sooner do we discover we have a heart in this life, than it gets broken repeatedly. Pain creates anger, which breeds indignation & hostility. Although scarred, I still have a desire to appreciate and honor people. Every culture has something beautiful about it, some wisdom to share... if we are willing to look beyond the surface and breech the walls of prejudice.

Honestly, at times, our nation HAS been arrogant. Pointing fingers at other countries, calling them evil tyrants, but it wasn't very long ago, sons of the pilgrims who landed on these shores in search of religious freedom, were stealing land, murdering native women and children. Historical documents demonstrate that God-fearing whites of that day viewed Native Americans as "Heathen savages" and "less than dogs". A society that sat in straight-backed pews each Sunday, keeping it's women pale and corseted could not understand a culture of freedom and free spirituality.

Native silence at the forefront of any meeting, which was meant to honor the white man's presence, was interpreted as "ignorance". And violence against natives was justified in the name of "spreading the Gospel". (A message was definitely spread.) To this day, it's hard to find a genuine Native convert to Christianity. Why? Because Christians decimated Native culture with little apology or rectification. And don't get me started on slavery and the loooong struggle for civil rights....

Christians, Jews and Muslims are brothers and sons of the same Creator God. To see the three fight so intensely... well, it's heart-breaking. Strong religious culture gives people a sense of "rightness"- an arrogance that causes them to excuse away bad behavior if they are doing it "for the cause". Whenever we become blind to the humanity and uniqueness of others, genocide is a very real possibility.

Christianity is a beautiful concept that shares many common truths with Islam. Love one another, your neighbor as yourself, extend hospitality, forgive others and give sacrificially to those in need. Maybe someday, we'll get it right??

The action sequences in the film were intense. My only disappointment is that Jen Garner didn't get more speaking parts. If you see it or have already, I'm interested in what you think.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Not A Baby Anymore!

Last night we had a birthday party for my youngest. She is now 7, so we had a little party for her with a few friends over last night. 3 gifts. Strawberry cake with pink icing- she was thrilled! . Just losing her first teeth. Such a cute, sweet girl. Took 4 tries to get one like me and Lil'Jo is certainly her Mama's daughter. Jed & Beth are a LOT like their daddy- very laid back, somewhat timid and content to wait for life to come to them. Kellie is a good mixture of the two of us, she is incredibly artistic. All 4 of the children are very intelligent and have an ear for music.

I think Jo may go far in life. She's a go-getter, fun-loving but brave- not afraid to try new things. When she is sad- which rarely happens, she cries a little and wants to be held, then she's ready for more fun. She loves to dance. The only part where she's vastly different than me is that she LOVES pink & frilly things. I LOVE her tenderhearted nature.

My girls are beautiful, hard-working and are going to get noticed someday. Hope they will be popular, but reasonably assertive. I have raised them to be kind, but no push-overs. I reject the idea that females should be wimpy, stupid or bitchy & sarcastic all the time. I want my girls to take pride in the way they look, but not to the point of being vain. I want them to value themselves, but always look for potential in others. I hope they will stay active and on top of things as far as their health goes.

Lastly, I hope they will eventually find men who love them as they are. REAL men who will be successful and can make them feel like ladies.

"Dear Jo,

You were a wonderful surprise. Your Dad & I thought we were done having kids. We were trying to decide which of us would "get fixed" when I became pregnant with you. Whenever the 5 of us would sit around the dinner table, I had this strange feeling that someone was missing. As soon as you were born, I knew YOU were here. My heart is blessed because of my children.
You were a good baby and TOUGH! You put up with all the bumps & snuggles from the other kids- always had a smile on your face. I'll never forget how quickly you learned to ride a bike and how you now like to follow me around when I'm cooling down from a training ride. You keep up pretty well!! Although you still sleep with your "Pink Blankby", you are not a baby anymore. (A fact I meet with mixed emotions.)

Sweet Girl, I hope you will feel secure in my love for you and in who you are. Try to maintain a good relationship with your Daddy- he loves you too. Don't rely on boys to make you feel good about yourself. Take pride in your heritage and in who you are. Boys and romance are a VERY nice part of life, but they are NOT life itself. Be comfortable enough with who you are to be on your own when/if necessary.

I was raised to believe that without a man in your life, you're pretty-much a zero. Don't settle for the first nice guy that's "willing to put up with you". Wait and make him wait. This is going to sound very old fashioned, but take your time. You are a treasure, don't just give yourself away to some flatterer who talks a big game. He must be worthy. Make sure he knows how to manage money. Yeah, he may dress sharp & have a fancy car, but if he's already up to his eye-balls in debt, life could get pretty bad.

Relationships can be very sticky ordeals- don't rush into anything. Make him find you, don't chase him down or let it be a one-sided effort. Let him be the one to set the pace, or it's likely YOU will have to be the one who sets it for the rest of your life. There are a lot of slackers out there looking for a woman who can provide for them. That kind of arrangement can get exhausting. It still works better the other way around, or if both of you contribute- that's great too. Don't marry someone you have to carry.

The dreams that are in you now are important. Believe in yourself and give it your best shot. I will do my best to help you reach the goals you set. Know that if you ever fail to reach a goal, I will be here for you, to pick up the pieces and help you start over. As long as a heart beats within my chest, you will never have to feel that you are standing alone.

People make mistakes. That's a fact of life. I was raised to never think outside the box or make a mistake- which was very confining. Make your mistakes, test your theories- and learn whatever lessons life has in store. This will make you genuine. You cannot do anything so "bad" that I will ever stop loving you or turn my back on you.

Take time to consider other points of view. There are many cultures and opinions out there. Expand your mind. Never allow yourself to reach the point where you feel you have everything all figured out. The day you do, your growth as a person will cease and your mind will begin to close.

Don't be foolish or careless, you have to live with consequences. Realize that people can be VERY judgemental and unforgiving. At times, those who feel threatened by your confidence and abilites will try to play head games and make things miserable for you. Hold your head up, walk away when you need to and you will have self-respect. (Remind me to explain the "Secret Female Code" to you someday.) lol

If anyone ever intentionally hurts or messes with you, they will have ME to deal with. :o) If you are unsure about a guys intentions toward you, bring him home. We'll have a BBQ and invite all our Ninja friends. I'll demonstrate my accuracy with a high-powered weapon in the backyard. (If he ever asks you out again, he's probably sincere- lol)

You're MY girl and I have every confidence in you. I will do my best to remove obstacles that stand in the way of your success and work hard to provide you with opportunities.

Do well in school- develop your mind and learn how to look and act professional. That may not be considered "cool", but while those who mock you are sitting on their tails or trapped in minimum wage jobs someday, you will have good work. Effort toward higher education is never a waste of time.

Some of these things I have said are still a little over your head at this point, but I want you to know I believe in you and always will."

Love, Your Mama XOXO

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dialogue with My Heart...

Settle my heart, simmer down, accept what is before you...

Nobody gets everything they dream of. Aside from a few lucky souls, the rest of us simply end up getting by the best way we know how, so settle in- you are still young and have a long road ahead. Celebrate the few successes you have had.

Heroes are not made on race tracks or stages. The strongest people are those who wake each morning to find themselves in ordinary, even dismal situations to smile and meet their obligations anyway. Perhaps I only say this in order to accept my present reality? There is no other alternative. Steady now, steady...

You were not born to privilege, you have NO inheritance to claim, at this point, your gifts may never lead to great success. Although you want to make a difference, reality has spoken. Your name may never be remembered beyond the grave. The bars upon this guilded cage represent choices, your own and decisions others have made for you.

For all your good intentions, this is the plate before you, take a deep breath, let go and make the most of the ride you are on... is that really so bad?

Stop trying to re-define the world by who you are, what you wish to see, for the world will never embrace all that you believe. You are very small, your feelings do not greatly matter. Eventually, though you beat wildly against it, the world will define you- why fight it?

To be human is to have need. Need keeps us weak and unfulfilled. Many factors lie beyond our control. Much is far beyond our grasp... or is it?

Settle my heart, leave me be... there is no such thing as lonely.

You've earned some merit, all shaken and scarred. Still you long for connectedness, wisdom, excitement and defining moments. You have made so many new starts, you are tired. But on a good day, when the sun is out and the music is right, there is NO stopping you... you can fly.

Life seems to create artists, but fails to provide paint & canvas. Dreamers are left with no resources from which to make reality of their visions. Dancers are trapped in disabled bodies. With such passion for life, and a low ceiling overhead, some of us may never fly- how cruel.

Settle my heart, quiet now, let me rest.... I need to focus on today...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The "Secret Female Code" Shhhhh

The past week was interesting! :o)

The aggressive growth in my face was benign and was removed last Tuesday. I have stitches & a bandage on my face until the stitches come out this Tuesday. Went to a plastic surgeon and he did a good job, so hopefully, there will be no scar.

I arrived at work Thurs. discover the old weight machines that I wanted removed were finally being disassembled and taken OUT of the Fitness Center. YEAH!! Out with the old and in with the New.

A $20,000 grant came through for us. Mr. Grumpy-pants from the Health Department must've liked my kind response to his rude e-mail because when he showed up with the paperwork Fri, he was really nice- almost apologetic and had added an extra $1,000 to the grant money he had promised for a total of $9,500! :o) (I won't be in any newpaper photos for these though, because, frankly I'm not lookin' so hot with stitches in my face.) Oh well. Maybe we'll find a curly, red wig for Coach Hill and let him accept the checks. Ha ha ha

Two fitness instructors pulled out. They are BFF's and after teaching the same classes for years, I think they finally just got burned out. So, it looks like, when 2008 begins, I'll be teaching 'Kick-boxing' Mon, 'Pilates' Wed & 'Interval Cardio' Fri. Still teaching 'Strength & Stretch' Mon, Wed, Fri mornings and coaching FITT Kids twice a week. In addition to these, if the Spinning grant comes through I'm gonna be teaching that twice a week. Seriously though, it would be nice to hire another instructor! See, I get paid to have recess all day. Whoo-hoooo!!

Man, I'd better at least finish the blasted bike race this summer for all the workin' out I'm doing. Keep your fingers crossed for me on that- K? It's been so long since I've competed, just not sure I've got an edge. Lance Armstrong inspires me because he's older and has done so well. Brett Farve is amazing and 3 Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders are older than me, so that makes me feel better.

The girls are doing well- growing like weeds! The offer on the house next door was accepted and I hope we can be in by the New Year.

My son got a B+ for his big writing project- I'm very proud. Each kid in the 5th grade had to invent a world & write about it. He finally brought the finished project home. I opened the cover on which he drew a picture of the imaginary place and the very first page says, "I, Jared dedicate 'Ice World' to my Mom who always sparked my imagination as a small child." (Okay, that is so sweet, I still tear up just thinking about it.) This is one of the memories that will be placed in my old hope chest with other little momentos of my children. I spent several hours each day for nearly 8 yrs, reading and telling stories to my kids. (Due to the strict nature of our religious beliefs, we had NO television until the last 3 years) I taught each of the kids to read because I wanted to be the one who gave them the gift of words. My littlest one, Josie now reads like a champ in 1st grade. :o)

Okay, one short little rant and I'll feel better: lol

I'm standing in the Fitness Center talking to one of my new Personal Trainers. He's a really nice guy- competitive body-builder. Anyway, we probably talked a good 20 mins while I was waiting for the floors to dry so I could start moving equipment. There was nothing inappropriate said and several feet between us. 3 older ladies were walking the track. I said, "Hello" when they first started and they all smiled. But after they had gone by several times, one of them started shooting me "the look". I HATE that look! It's the dirty look that says, "You little hussy, who do you think you are talking to that man?!" This happened two or three times and she was VERY CLEARLY trying to send me a message.

Okay, lady GET a LIFE! He's married with 3 kids, he is MY employee and I'm gonna have to interact with him sooner or later. Don't be hatin' on me 'cause I get to talk to him and YOU don't. Besides, if I was hittin' on him, would I be doin' that in public.... with a big BANDAID on my face?!

In the end, I went ahead and cut the conversation short and he left. When the ladies were done walking the track, they settled into the Cardio room. I walked right past them on my way out, smiled and said, "Well, hello again!" The staring lady looked at me coldly and said, "So, you know Daryl, huh?" I said, "Yes, he works for me" and she said, "Well, I work at the dental office where he, his WIFE and children go." Yep, the lady was sending me a message. This kind of thing seems to happen no matter where I go and I'm SICK of it!

So, here is a tongue-in-cheek reveal of the rules of insanity women make up for other women concerning "appropriate" social behavior:

1) You are only allowed to talk to men I'm not secretly attracted to.
2) If I think you are younger, hotter, popular or more successful than me, I will HATE you- it's just the natural order of things.
3) If you are talking to someone of the opposite sex and your spouse, nor their spouse are present, that automatically means an affair has/is or is gonna happen and I am automatically entitled to be suspicious and to voice my suspicions to everyone I feel may be interested in a little dirt fest.
4) You are not allowed to speak to any male that me, my Mother, sister, Aunt's cousin or roomate may even be remotely interested in. We may NEVER let on that he is the object of our fantasy lives, but you'd better just KNOW- that's how "the code" works.
5) If I send you the hate stare, it's not bluffing, I REALLY DO hate you and when you see the signal, you'd better respond by cowering and ending whatever interaction you are having with my secret hottie ASAP.
6) If you are fit and/or have a nice body, I automatically have the right to berate you to all my girlfriends by saying that you've had a boob job and wear a wig. If your name ever comes up in conversation when any male is present, I am entitled to enlighten him as to your every flaw. "Who her? Well, I saw her in the locker room once shaving her beard".... "You know, underneath all those workout clothes, she is grotesquely disfigured." You HAVE been warned!
7) You should automatically KNOW when I have PMS and stay out of my way! Hisssssss
8) If I don't like cars, action films, sports, the great outdoors or fitness, then you can't like that stuff either or the guys may think you are cooler than me and I WON'T allow it.
9) The only reason any woman interacts with any man is because she's offering a piece. Friendship between a mature male & female simply is NOT possible so don't even go there, lil' miss innocent.
10) You are NEVER allowed to be friendly, confident or successful. I am the only one allowed to be that way and I ALWAYS deserve to be the center of attention. If I suck on Karaoke night, you better not do better than me. You should be content to keep silent and stay OUT of my way...
11) If you fail to abide by any portion of "the secret female code" I am then free to destroy you in any way I deem necessary to make myself look or feel better than you.

Can any of you ladies relate? Have you ever fallen victim to "the secret female code"? Guys be glad you get to live by different rules. I wonder, is there a male code, we ladies don't know about??? If so, do tell....

Sunday, November 18, 2007


IPIP Test Results

Paulena, your most unique quality is that you're Conscientious and Caring

You are the kind of person others can depend on. You carefully analyze the information, but your feelings also weigh in on the decision. You're confident, artistic, passionate, competent, fun-loving, self-disciplined, and able to carry through with any plan you create. You respect others, but do not trust easily, keeping your inner circle small.

You are not afraid to consider an unpopular point of view, but your base for decision-making is well founded. You're also good at weighing the pros and cons of any situation and making sound, well-informed decisions.

Compared to others who are conscientious, you are unusually competent and highly motivated, knowing what to do when needed, and confident that you will do it well. You take time to weigh the facts and listen to your heart. Only 2.3% of all test takers have this unique combination of personality strengths. For a more in depth analysis, please click the link below.

Well, guess I've got them fooled- eh? lol These tests are always interesting...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

On the Outside

Today I sit here relaxing and writing a blog on a day when I used to be parked in a pew at church with a smile pasted on my face. There was some genuine joy in me then, but in so many ways I was going through the motions. That whole scene masked a lot of pain. We ALL have it. Some people cope in ways considered "worldly", others cope by burying themselves in religion. I don't want to cope, I want to LIVE!

What a strange thing, life is.

For the most part I'm glad to be on the outside. There are days when I still feel torn. I'm a social person, so I miss the social aspect of the churchy life. I have a conscience, so the e-mails I have received from those "concerned about my salvation" since leaving the church do prick at me.

However, I am deeply spiritual and do not miss being dictated to as to how I should think, live, believe and worship. If the social aspect is the major draw and not the spiritual, then something is wrong in the big picture of religion. I think many people cling to religion because they like feeling they are "right" while everyone else is "wrong".

Hey- I DO care and that's what makes life so tough for me right now. I take time to consider things because I DO want to be the best I can be. I believe in God. Not so sure He believes in me. If He really is as powerful and caring as people say, surely He would've found a way to reach me by now? Not asking for something profound, but there is only silence. My faith hangs by a thread.

Staying busy numbs me. When I have down-time, I have to face the fact that I'm not exactly happy or fulfilled in my personal life. Make the most of it..... make the most of it.... push through and hold on to hope..... be honorable to my word. Keep telling myself to be thankful, that it could always be worse. But it could be better too and that's the torment of the unknown....

Being in your 30's is a lot like being a teenager again. You have lived long enough to have gained some wisdom, but still have many unanswered questions. At this point, I find myself asking "Is this it? Is THIS all there is to life, to love and success? To push through one hard time after another, to invest yourself in one dream, one relationship or career after another only to watch it come crashing down?"

Life is a process.... a journey.... but we're all seeking a destination. Many think they have already arrived- okay, more power to them! lol

And of course, I wonder if I am the only one who ever feels this way. Perhaps I'm losing out? Maybe life is incredibly good and I simply lack the ability to see that?? What is this ache, this hunger inside? It's been there all along and I have tried to mask it in so many ways. Proof to me that time does NOT heal all wounds. I am beyond cliches.

Perhaps it is the little girl in me who wanted so desperately to have parental love, support and security, but received so little. I don't know how to love halfway, but I have been loved that way. Not sure what to make of it. Could I recognize true love if I had/have it? Only time will tell...

When people say they care about you, but words or actions say differently, it is downright confusing. In the church, they call each other "brother" and "sister", but many have NO idea what being a family means. Overbearing criticism, trying to dictate or control someone else's life, shunning and gossiping about them is NOT love people, so you can take that WWJD bumper sticker off your car now. (I honestly think everyone does the best they can in life.) But to me, claiming to be Christ's follower is making a VERY big claim and ya better be able to back it up.

Growing up is tough. There are people who give both positive and negative predictions about your future when you are young. I was told I was bright, talented and promising by many, but just as many called me "white trash". Which is it? Should I even care??

If you allow other people to define you, there's the possibility that you will not like what you have become. So I've stepped out in an attempt to define myself. It's the scariest thing I've ever done, but in order to maintain my sense of being REAL it's a necessary step.

I realize that my choices, my attempts to find the answers may hurt or disappoint other people. This is NOT my intent. Everyone has the right to believe and live as they see fit. This has been true all along and I have been accepting of other people and their paths. Just didn't realize that freedom applied to MY life as well. I see it now...

We all affect each other- no matter what we do. I want my footsteps in life to leave as little damage as possible.