08/31/13 Why Am I Still Here?


Imagine sitting here talking with God about what He wants you to do with your life.

Imagine sitting here talking with God about what He wants you to do with your life.

I write this with a fresh cup of coffee at my dining room table. In my mind however, the surroundings look something like the setting in the picture. I’ve considered my DVT/PE (Pulmonary Embolism) as a divine appointment with God. I think He’d been trying to get my attention for ages, but I always had a good reason to blow Him off: too busy, making money, paying bills, sweating over inconsequential stuff, worrying about what people thought of me…. the self-absorbed list goes on.

He got my attention on August 8th, but not before I made a few more decisions guided by self-doubt and worry about what people would think of me: Go home instead of the E.R., people will laugh at the fat lady thinking she’s having a heart attack and if she is, she deserves it anyway, she takes such crappy care of herself…. The self-induced pity party and train wreck of thoughts can go on and on until they kill you. Or nearly.

Sometimes a little clarity and wisdom can manage to penetrate your addled mind. My seven-day stay in the hospital gave me time to stop running and actually LISTEN for His voice in my confusion. The quieter I got, the more receptive I could be to thoughts and insights.

If my life were a business, it would have closed down this year due to mismanagement and bankruptcy. As a human, I DID nearly shut down from poor management and spiritual starvation. God in His infinite grace stopped me in my tracks. For that, I am profoundly grateful. What do I do now? I think anyone who has had a life changing event occur comes to the conclusion that if they didn’t die, there’s a reason they’re still here… what is it? Unfortunately for we attention-deficit humans who want answers NOW, God doesn’t always answer you in the time frame you’d like (I want it NOW, YESTERDAY if possible)

For me, the path becomes clear one little step at a time. Sometimes there’s a lot of space between those steps, when I’m too caught up in myself to really care what God would like for me to do. Those are the days I only follow His prompts if it’s convenient for me. Arrogant little squirrel!

I’m finishing the third week of recuperation. During the first few days, I graciously told God I’d like to have this whole matter cleared up to my satisfaction as soon as possible, but if it took a week or so, I suppose I could put life on hold while I figured out what this lesson was for me to learn. How far do you think I got with that mindset?! I think it landed me in a giant pot hole and there I’ve squirmed around until I’m finally admitting I have to get off of this throne I’ve built for myself and let God have His rightful place in my life.

Wow, a bit more light and clarity dents my thick skull. I wasn’t aware that we squirrely people could have such hard little noggins. We could smash walnuts with our rock heads!!

I have a few snippets of ideas and thoughts to ponder for the time being. God never lets me in on the next step until I’ve got what I need to from the step I’m on. I know my life needs some changes. Sometimes I wish God would send a life coach to help me figure things out, and then I realize He does, but I can’t see the next move until the time is right.

At the rate I’m going, I’ll be 225 years old before I get it all sorted out!

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12/29/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles – Deciding My Course


I’m taking a few days to think about my goals for 2013. This came up yesterday during lunch with friends Tim and Joanne.

Writing is at the top of my list. I want to study and learn how to write fiction. As much as I love to read fiction, it irks the snot out of me that when I try to write it, my mind goes woefully blank. I have a few unconventional study guides to try to rectify this frustrating situation. I can blame it all on Nancy Drew. I passionately read every adventure of hers that existed when I was young. I thought if I couldn’t be her, I’d at least like to write great mysteries. The only mystery I seem to write so far is whether I’ll make any progress with losing weight. As reviewed in Mysteries Weekly: She’s up, she’s down, her roller coaster weight-loss effort reads like the never-ending nightmare of “Will Government Solve The Fiscal Crisis Before We All Go Over The Cliff?” Actually, I probably WILL lose weight and keep it off before government solves anything!

Back to writing, I feel it’s time for quiet and learning. Read, study, homework, whatever it takes to see if there’s an exciting mystery in me willing to come out. In the meantime, I’m reading so many good authors work now. Some of the best I’ve seen are my fellow writers at www.fanstory.com They’re miles better than what I’ve viewed in the bookstores and on my local library shelves. Maybe that’s one reason I’m not so sure ‘being published’ is any true measure of a writer’s worth. I see published books that aren’t worthy of using for toilet tissue and I read unpublished authors’ writing that absolutely blow me away.

Another goal is to continue the work I started in 2012 of putting myself first. That remains an alien and sometimes guilt-producing notion with me. However, as my personal clock ticks and time on Earth grows shorter, I am left with the knowledge that I don’t have forever to get this thing called life right. If I don’t work on it now, who says I’ll be here tomorrow or next year to make it a priority? I may never be a size twelve, calm, rational, island of tranquility… who am I kidding? I’ll NEVER be that! But I can at least move toward a serene nature and away from a squirrel-on-speed self!

Something interesting I’ve noticed since the last blog… I received various responses to last week’s piece about looking at myself without clothes on. Every response came from a woman either: younger, slimmer, prettier, etc. than me. None expressed being ready to look at themselves in this way (in the mirror buck naked). I find this interesting and a statement of the baggage women carry. Compared to them, I am a human who resembles a Caucasian Shrek. Yet I found no judgement. It wasn’t about how I looked cosmetically. It was about acceptance of who I am. The odd thing is, when I put clothes on again that night, the judgement began to seep right in. I’ve decided the only answer for me is to move to one of those “Nekky Colonies”. Not a nudist colony. This would be a “Nekky Shrekkies” oasis. We’d look like animated movie characters, hence we’d all look quite normal! I think I’m on to something. 🙂

wpid-5754027156_1c88c839b8_o_thumb.jpg                                                                                                     shrek

12/20/12 G.L.A.D. Holiday Smorgasbord


Queen Porkunia, By Bill Seitz

Queen Porkunia, By Bill Seitz (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

So many things are going on in the world lately, one could be forgiven for wondering if the Mayans might be right! If so, I thought I’d post one more post before the big…. what…. what happens if it IS indeed it? I have no clue. I wasn’t too convinced the end might be near until the Twinkie nightmare (normally sensible people everywhere burst through doors of retail establishments to scarf up every Hostess product in sight, except, it seems, for the Blueberry Muffins. I saw a few boxes of the poor muffins sitting lonely as could be on shelves at Remke Biggs, very near their expiration date.) Another sign that the end might be near? I realized, in a most unexpected way, that I don’t hate myself anymore. I always felt I’d learn to like myself: a) when pigs flew (I’m in Cincinnati, pigs fly here. That was a bad choice of markers!), b) when I was pushing up daisies at the cemetery (meaning, I had died), or c) when the world ended. As I said, pigs DO fly in Cincinnati, I’m still upright and breathing, so the world must surely be nearing that apocalyptic day.

I pondered long and hard about whether to share the next bit with you, not sure if it made me a questionable person, or a repressed woman in a world with few limits anymore. The answer to that still eludes me, but a friend said my story might inspire other souls. My life-changing moment came about a few weeks ago. I wanted to recapture a feeling of freedom I got to experience this summer, freedom from a lot of emotional baggage I’d carried most of my life. This desire led me to question my appearance, avoiding mirrors, body image, those things that some women are doggedly pursued by. I wanted to know what I look like, REALLY look like. Not the image I present to the world of a body covered by whatever black, blue or gray fabric gets pulled out of the closet that day. But ME. The naked truth. I thought about this for days. The part of me that felt this was just bad on my part wrestled with the inner person who questioned, “why?” What was I afraid of? I didn’t know.

One night, I screwed up my courage, uncovered down to the skin I was born with, and looked in a mirror. It’s almost as if I were looking at an exhibit in a museum, observing myself from this angle and that view. I made the surprising discovery that I didn’t have a single negative remark to make about myself. WHAT? No slams about the excess pounds making me a loser, lamenting that I wasn’t a size two, no haranguing that someone who looked like me had nothing worthwhile to offer the world? No. I merely commented, “So this is what I look like.” I think the past few years of embracing my inner squirrely self has taken some of the pressure off of me. It’s given me an ability to embrace my squishy softness that huggers and cats everywhere seem to be attracted to. (Or do the cats just think there’s really a squirrel in there?!)  Honestly, it doesn’t get much cuter than my squirrely self, what do you think?

                                               Sue Glamour Squirrel

The interesting result I’ve noticed is that I want to take better care of myself since viewing the real me. It’s not: “Oh, I need to lose a billion pounds, though a loss would be beneficial, I’m sure.” It’s more a case of feeling an acceptance toward myself that I’ve never experienced before and wanting to treat myself like a friend. I go for walks now, eat more sensibly, go to bed earlier, all kind of strange things that people who like themselves do!

The shooting last week in Newtown, Connecticut brought such a sober, harrowing twist to the holiday season. I don’t know why the shooter did it, or why fantastic people meet such an awful fate. I’ve been awed by the acts of heroism the teachers displayed at Sandy Hook Elementary. I’ve been blessed by all of the good that has poured forth in this nation and from around the world in our country’s time of sorrow. I pray that blessings rain down on the people of Newtown.

Christmas is upon us. I’ve had a real mixed bag of thoughts this year. Money is tighter than ever, which rules out giving cash to a variety of good causes. My energy level hasn’t been up to snuff in ages, so giving my time isn’t happening as much. I’ve kept my holiday projects a little closer to home and am focusing on people I hope can use a little love. Sometimes I question if I’m following the right path or not, but my current actions feel right for this day. My goal continues to be to show Jesus’ love to everyone I encounter as I celebrate His birth. Some days I feel as if I do that so poorly, those days when a rabid pit bull is cheerier than I am. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is pretty amazing about weaving some calming presence into my soul and my attitude straightens out again for another day.

I hope my blog has added a bit of light to your week, a little humor with your coffee or an insight that helps your day. Every single one of you reading this are a warm blessing to me.

Blessings and Peace  🙂

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

11/17/12 G.L.A.D. Chronicles Week 7 – Progress, Peace, Squirrely Friends, Recipe For Thanksgiving


What a chaotic few weeks I’ve had… busier than a frenzied flea at the SPCA. I got to feeling like the doggie in the photo after a while.

What I felt like after this week!

Fortunately, a little sleep, (I might add that sleep, for me, is a marathon event between myself and Buddy the cat. He starts with the event Pillow Takeover: positioning himself above my head with claws strategically placed near scalp. Wait until human is asleep and then … CHARGE, out pop the claws, scalp moves south to get away, and Buddy gains a little more territory. After a few hours of this, he moves on to Butt Borders… placing himself down under to hog the warm spots and contort human even further. It’s a regular gold medal victory for that cat every night!) a few walks in the fresh air, hot coffee and decent food… I started to resemble the lassie with the cup of java….    

Feeling right as rain!!

                                                                                                     

Thank goodness I’m a resilient squirrel in a (lately) extraordinarily nutty world. Seriously! Have you caught the news at all? Some days, I think the entire planet has lost their marbles. And that’s saying something, coming from me. 🙂  But, I’m not here to wallow in reality, this is MY blog and I’ll make it as lilac-shaded through my glasses as I want to! In this little corner, things are okay.

I‘m back to eating well, taking walks and sweating to workout videos, getting to bed at a decent hour. I created a new Excel program at work that SHOULD make life easier. I can do a lot of things on computers, but I’m not a geek, so… I go through a lot of coffee and lotsa nuts before it’s just the way I want, but I DID IT! Squirrel tail salute to me!

Speaking of my furry friends, I’ve found a delightfully daffy fellow blogger who’s as loco about them as I am. This blog provides me with many smiles and a cheerful person behind that squirrely curtain: http://evilsquirrelsnest.com/2012/11/17/squirrel-butt/  Squirrel, said I’d raise a paw to you today!

On to other silliness, I post the following picture, courtesy of my friend Rick Gordon over at Facebook, who probably posted it courtesy of another FB’er. This week, we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving. Like it or love it, be it the meal, the games around the table after the dishes are cleared, or even those insane Black Friday sales, the following piece of wisdom is surely correct for some human mutant you’ll meet during the holiday season. 

 

I’ve told Rick I’d like to have this put on a t-shirt. For now, I’ll suffice with a 5 x 7 print out for my board at work. Coworker ticking you off? Pop the picture out… it’ll speak volumes!   Back to the holiday meal, I’m making a light, fluffy dessert I found on www.allrecipes.com 

Strawberry Fluff

Ingredients:

2 (3 ounce) packages sugar-free strawberry flavored Jell-O

1 (16 ounce) package low-fat cottage cheese, blended with a mixer for smoother consistency 

1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, in its own juice, drained

Directions: In a mixing bowl, combine the gelatin powder, cottage cheese, whipped topping and pineapple. Mix together well, refrigerate until chilled and serve.  I personally prefer raspberry, so may make that if I can find the sugar-free variety.

Well, friends, that’s about it for now. Just remember, when your annoying family members are causing you to have dangerous thoughts, manslaughter is still illegal in the state of Ohio! (where I live) And probably in the area where you live too. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

Embracing My Squirrely Self


 

     This is an essay about a few of my favorite squirrely memories. I hope it brings a smile to your day. All of the stories are true, the names of the squirrels have been changed to avoid retribution by the little buggers. 🙂

 

 

Over the years, I’ve taken heat for admitting to my squirrel kinship. Denying the truth for a long time, it became apparent to me that you can’t beat squirrels. You may as well join them, so, I gave up and accepted that somehow, squirrel was part of my package!

It all started years ago. My dad talked about outsmarting the squirrels who kept getting in his bird feeder. They couldn’t be outwitted, even when he greased the pole with Crisco. This did stop them for awhile and they did rather resemble furry firemen sliding down the pole on the way to a fire, but eventually they managed to get to the birdseed and had the last laugh.

I rather admired their tenacity.

Around the same time, my husband had a hankering to grow tomatoes. We live in the heart of the city, so any tomatoes grown would be in container pots. Easily enough done, but he started to notice little bite marks and missing bits. Determining squirrels to be the culprit, we decided we’d outsmart the varmints.

We spoke with gardening buffs about the problem. A variety of solutions promised to run the critters off. Spreading cat hair on the potting soil repels squirrels. It didn’t repel squat. Word from the woods behind our house said they used the feline fur as a nature napkin after chomping away.

Another suggestion: drawing circles around the pots on the ground with bars of soap, the smell would deter them. Not only did it not deter them, they appeared to appreciate these friendly humans who left soap out for them to freshen up after their picnic!

On top of that, I realized the soap circles resembled some kind of backwoods evil ritual spot. It didn’t scare the squirrels any, but the designs gave ME the willies. The soap didn’t wash away nearly as easily as it went on, but the ground did smell Irish Spring fresh for awhile!

I’m sad to say that the squirrels got every single tomato that year. Craig tried again a few years later, but kept the pots on our back porch. He resembled Bill Murray’s gopher-battling character in “Caddy Shack” as he plotted against our tomato munching bandits. This time, we didn’t let the tomatoes reach red perfection. He picked the tomatoes while they were still a bit green and placed them in the kitchen window to ripen. We cheesed the poachers off that year. Craig reacted victoriously, as if he had scored a strategic military coup!

Cover of "Caddyshack"

Caddyshack's Gopher inspired fun loving squirrels everywhere!

 

 

 

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  Much to my mom’s consternation, I never liked wearing dresses or frilly clothes. After embracing my squirrelliness, my reoccuring vision is of myself with other squirrels in red sequined mini dresses wearing white gogo boots. We dance in a chorus line with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. My mom would be so proud, if she were alive, to see me in a dress; but, shake her head that it took the fantasy of my squirrel life to wear one!

Meanwhile, I daydream of the squirrels who live in my woods and training them to dance. I’d sew little dresses, make suitable gogo boots and then call David Letterman to book our national debut on his show. Mom would beam at finally having a star in the family. My living relatives will probably change their names and go into hiding!

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Years have been spent plotting how to secure an early medical retirement from my job. The usual avenue for this is to prove either a physical disability or a mental condition rendering me unable to work. None of my schemes have worked so far. A while back, arriving at work and walking along the path between the neighborhood swimming pool, local library and my workplace, it appeared that retirement was about to be mine.

It’s always a pleasure to see my squirrel brothers and sisters, greeting them with a cheery good morning. For whatever reason, they don’t respond in an equally friendly way. If a dime was earned for every time they assume an alert position on the ground and scold me with an annoyed “tsk tks irks tsk irks tsssk,” I could probably fund that early retirement. Apparently they’re not morning creatures until they’ve had that first cup of coffee.

On this particular morning, I spied a fine furry fellow and called out, “Hello brother or sister. Good day to you!” Well, the little bugger proceeded to give me a tongue lashing. Running up a telephone pole, I believe he stuck his tongue out at me. This rude reply raised my hackles. I marched over to the telephone pole and shouted at him, “WHAT is your problem? I do nothing but treat my fine furry kin with love and this is the thanks I get?” If he’d had one of our old tomatoes, he would have lobbed it at me. There I stood, hands on hips, waiting for an explanation. He lorded over me, with that tongue cheekily waving in the wind. At an impasse, I told him if this kept up, greetings wouldn’t be so kind in the future.

About that time I looked up and saw my boss standing outside the garage door of the building, having a cigarette and watching me. My mind immediately squirrelled around two different dilemmas. Did he see me arguing with the squirrel, or did he think I was arguing with the telephone pole? Either way, I could hear his brain singing out, “Cuckoo, Cuckoo” and I turned red as, you got it, a tomato.

My mind quickly realized this could work to my advantage. Finally, a witness to the fact that I’d lost it. ‘Early Retirement’, here I come! Straightening my shoulders, I punched the code that opened the gate to the parking lot. Approaching the door, I mumbled ‘Morning’, sure he’d quiz me on my irrational display. He replied, “Morning, Suse!” as if he hadn’t seen a thing out of the ordinary. Drat! So much for early retirement.

**********

It was time to come out to my family about my squirrel nature. I used my fiftieth birthday party invitation in 2009 to do so. It had multiple pictures of Glendale squirrels, a squirrel enjoying a birthday cake topped with peanuts, and a photo of me taken when I was five years old. It read:

‘I’d like to celebrate that God’s given me fifty years on this Earth (I’ve had some BRILLIANT adventures so far… can’t wait to see what I pull off by the time I hit seventy-five!) with a few friends, family and other questionable associates. If you’d like to stop in for a drink, that’d be splendiferous!

I don’t need gifts (actually, I’d welcome your prayers) (and I could use an A.A.R.P. card application) On second thought, I’d LOVE one of those giant Squirrel statues scattered all over Glendale!

But I would like to ask something: please DO SOMETHING for a cause that means something to YOU. Give of yourself: fifty pennies, fifty quarters, fifty seconds being nice to someone you normally wouldn’t notice, call someone you’ve lost touch with, it’s up to you and your imagination. Then write a note and tell me what you came up with.

I’d like to make my fiftieth birthday as unique as I am and count my blessings with friends!’

I suppose it was too radical a concept. Only a few people did as the invitation suggested and gave of themselves to someone else. I was delighted to see a great variety of squirrel birthday cards. Cousin Linda gave me a lovely bronze squirrel candle holder which I promptly named Stanley. My sister gave me a squirrel holding salt and pepper shakers which got named (appropriately) Stella.

Another person gave me cash. Some of the money went to charity. I used a bit of it to buy an adorable stone squirrel and named her Sweetpea. She resides in my front porch garden; smiling at me whenever I sit by her and her squirrel friend Tulip, with a cup of coffee.

As they say, charity begins at home!