Thursday, July 9, 2015

It's a Heart Problem



It’s a heart problem…

July 9, 2015

As I sit and watch the tv news, read my news feed on social media, hear news reported on the radio, or gather news from any other forms of media I come into contact with during the day, all that makes headlines anymore is someone being offended by something. The way I see it, there are things that happen, things we see, things that are said, and many other “things” out there, that we all could take offense to in some way, shape, or fashion – should we choose to do so. I also believe that it’s not a true problem of being offended by a flag or piece of history, or being offended by someone else’s comments, or being offended by whatever, I think it’s a problem that lies within our hearts. Yes, OUR hearts are the problems.  I’m sure someone will get offended by this post, and honestly, I don’t really care. I don’t care because there are so many more offenses in life to be truly offended by and honestly, if we all agreed on the same things and liked the same things; wouldn’t that be a terribly boring life? If you’re already offended or ticked off, stop reading here and more than likely, don’t open up another blog that I post.

I’ve thought about this for a while before writing this. I wanted to share with you some of the things that could possibly offend me, should I care to be loud and extremely whiny about it for long enough. I am offended that in The Lord of the Rings they refer to the hobbits at “the little ones.” I’m offended that Gandalf has to be either Grey or White; he can’t just be Gandalf (and from the Hobbit Radagast has to be brown – who wants to be brown?). I’m offended that when Aragorn is talked about as “the Ranger from the North,” that those discussing him say those words with disdain. I’m offended that Orcs have to be called mindless and that Sauron is only an eye of flame. Do you “hear” how truly silly and trivial that all sounds? No, you say? Well, allow me to keep going. I’m offended that Bilbo’s twelve traveling companions in The Hobbit are referred to as Dwarves. I’m offended that Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones is referred to as the Imp. I’m offended by people who root for the Dallas Cowboys or University of Florida. I’m offended because a house that I pass on a daily basis while driving, has decided to change their siding color to a hideous sky blue color – I mean seriously, who does that? Silly yet? I truly hope that it is beginning to get that way to you. Because in no way, shape, or form, would I dig up J.R.R. Tolkien and advise him that his literary works of art offend me because of distinguishing one character from another. Nor would I do that to George R.R. Martin. Nor would I track down all the Cowboy or Gator fans and tell them that they’re nuts for liking the team that they like. And I certainly wouldn’t stop at the sky blue house and tell the owner that they were nuts – if they can live with that color, who am I to tell them otherwise. 

I can completely feel your eyes rolling at me right about now – for those of you who continued to read, anyway. Don’t do that, it’s really not nice! I realize that my examples in the previous paragraph are somewhat comical or even juvenile, but in actuality, aren’t most of the loudest complaints now a days the same? I choose not to be offended by The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit because I truly love the works of art – the books and all six of the movies. I choose not to be offended by those that like the Cowboys, because I know, love, and respect many people that choose to pull for that team. I even have family that pull for the Gators but I refuse to let that fact change my feelings for these people. Not to mention here, that my choice in not letting these nit-picky things offend me, is another key to this example. No two people are ever going to see eye to eye 100% of the time on 100% of the issues. It just ain’t gonna happen. These differences in each other are what makes us all unique and gives us all character. We should all have differences of opinions and beliefs and desires. It comes down to what is in our hearts that truly sets us apart from each other and truly creates the insurmountable differences. Whether we have a love for ALL mankind – no matter of race, religion, creed, nationality, background, upbringing, wealth, etc. If our hearts are so hardened that love doesn’t exist there for other people, we’re lost. If the only love that we have in our hearts is for ourselves and our own foolishness, then we are truly worse than lost, with no hope of ever coming back.

Do you want to know some “things” that truly do offend me? Again, if you don’t want to “hear” it, close this out now.  I am offended and appalled that the men and women of MY United States Military return home to ridicule, medical problems, and struggle. I am appalled that our military veterans live with the scars – physical and emotional – that they received because they were of the few, the proud, and the brave, that stepped up to defend my right to be offended and appalled, and my right to voice that offense. I am appalled that our nation’s elderly – the ones that helped to build this country from the ground up through their blood, sweat, and tears – are having to make monthly decisions as to whether or not to pay their electric bill, buy their medicines, or buy groceries. I am offended and appalled by those who sit on their ever widening behinds and expect me to work my butt off every day so they can sit home and do nothing but hold their hand out for a check – when there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with them. I am offended by a nation that has forsaken itself and its people and it cares more for things than for beings. I am offended that someone could get life in prison for abusing an animal but yet only get a slap on the wrist or nothing at all for molesting or killing a child. I am offended that our nation has lost its values, its morals, its common decency, its beliefs in good and evil, right and wrong. I am offended that someone, anyone, would even hint that I am a lesser person because of my sex, my religion, my race, my education, or any other thing that is mine. I am offended by people who wear their pants down so low that I have to look at their underwear and they’re too busy holding on to those drooping pants to do anything of purpose. I am offended that I cannot mention God in my school classroom for fear of losing my job. Oh…, these are just a start of all the things that I’m offended by. I’m going to stop here for sake of time.

I suppose the difference in my first “offense” paragraph and the paragraph above, if you look closely, is that the first “offense” paragraph is that I’m outraged over actual “things”. I don’t see how we can allow our service men and women to be treated badly or to not be taken care of properly after they have given all for me. I don’t see how we can allow our elderly to suffer and struggle because if it was not for them, NONE of us would be here. I don’t see why valuable parts of my paycheck have to go to supporting someone that will not work to support themselves. Yes – before you get all up in arms about that – I do know that there are people who cannot work – there is a HUGE difference in those that cannot work and need the help, as opposed to those who will not work. I also think if you’re sick enough to purposely abuse an animal or worse than sick enough to molest a child, that there is no place for you in society among the living. And would someone please, tell me, how in the world it could be comfortable having the waistband of your pants hanging down around your knees? Nobody wants to see your underwear – Pull ‘em up! How hard is it to be good, to have love and RESPECT for one another? Where has all of the kindness gone in this world? 

If I actually listed all the things, fictional or real, that offend me or that I could possibly find offense in, this blog post would be hundreds of thousands of pages long, or more. There are many injustices in life. If you read any history books or research any lives before our own, injustices have always happened. That’s life. Things are going to happen that I don’t like. I’m going to see things that bug me. And you know what – tough crap! It happens, it’s always happened, and as long as any human being has anything to do with it, it’s going to continue to happen. Get over it! As someone once told me, “Put on your big girl panties; suck it up, and GO ON!” Get the darkness and the yuck out of your heart and embrace the differences in everyone for their own uniqueness. Stop spending valuable time and energy focused on what you can do to destroy someone else. Stop whining because the world isn’t laid on a golden platter at your precious feet. Stop filling up the news with all that is offensive in this world and live your own life. Until we all – worldwide, not just in this country; until we all get over ourselves and truly love one another for who and what we are, we’re going to continue to be in the mess that we’re in right now. We’re going to continue to have mountains made out of molehills. We’re going to focus on things that really need not be focused on. Focus on the important things, the human things. We don’t have to always like one another, but we do have to love each other. And with all the heart problems floating around in today’s day and age, we’ve really got our work cut out for us. 

I will not apologize for my views. I will not apologize for anything that is written here. They are my views and I have the right to see them that way. As I said in the beginning, if you were worried about being offended, you should have stopped reading this long before you got here. The blame for your offense lies squarely on your own shoulders. Love each other, People – it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do, but in the end, it’ll be the most rewarding and others around us will be far better than we will be.

Until next time…

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Direction



Direction

May 28, 2015

As I sit here this evening, with thousands of things floating through my mind all at once, there is one song that keeps floating to the top; “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” by Gary Allan. It starts out by saying, “Life ain’t always beautiful. Sometimes it’s just plain hard. Life can knock you down; it can break your heart.” From where I sit right now, that is the honest truth.

I started this blog as a way of writing, sharing my thoughts, and really getting the experience of telling a story to someone other than my poor husband that gets stuck listening to all of my tales. My original goal, and I believe it was actually in the very first “Welcome” post that I put up, was that I wanted this blog to be light and funny. There have been times over the last year and a half that I have veered off into the more serious and sometimes even “preachy” posts. There have been some funny ones too, but as the song I mentioned earlier stated, “Life ain’t always beautiful.” There are not always sunny days. There are not always peaks. Sometimes we have rain and even storms roll through our lives. And sometimes, we find ourselves in the lowest valley imaginable. For all light, there is the absence of that light, and for all good, there are those that have forever abandoned it. So all posts, no matter how much I’d like for them to be, cannot be funny and happy. For that, I’m sorry, as I whole-heartedly wish there was another way around that.

Sometimes changes in directions can come willingly. That happened to me when I decided to stop working in industry and venture in to teaching my trade to high schoolers. Boy, what a change in direction! Sometimes good changes come a little unexpectedly. Take this blog for instance; I never thought I’d be a writer, although I’ve written hundreds of pages of things in my life. My directional change when I met my husband was unexpected, but it was good unexpected and has led to the life that I’ve got now. The directional change to start “farming” was also unexpected, but even though it’s been and will be lots of hard work, it’s been so worth it. And sometimes, this life of ours seems to take wild turns and curves at unexpected intervals. We can truly believe that we’ve got our cruise control on and our autopilot set, but in actuality, it is NOT in our control. Life has a way of completely changing our direction with absolutely no advanced warning. One day all is ok, the next, WHAM, everything is completely upside down. Life has done that to me and my family at the moment. We are facing a health situation with my dad that none of us ever dreamed would hit. It’s one of those situations where you hear of others facing these problems, but not anyone that you know closely. Things that were once so important and “needed,” now seem to pale in comparison to what is actually required for that moment. Everyday routines that were maybe a little hum-drum and taken for granted have become wonderful and cherished when they’re possible. Good days, when things are right with Dad, have become few, but when they arrive, they’re absolutely precious and priceless. Extended family that you usually only see on holidays have become invaluable in helping with things that you really didn’t know you needed help with. Friends, acquaintances, and even strangers have offered loving kindness that will never be able to be repaid. Most importantly, you find many people of many beliefs, and all of them offering prayers and love at a much needed time. 

I’ve learned a lot about directional changes over the last few weeks. I’ve ridden emotional rollercoasters before, but man when they hit, they’re enough to make you puke up your toenails after all the humps, bumps, and loops go through. So like me, this blog will from time to time take a change in direction. I don’t know when I’ll be able to do so, but I would like to chronical some things that we experience with this illness. I would like for it to be out there for people that will be experiencing the same thing my family is currently going through. No cases will ever be the same, but knowing that you’re not alone in the turmoil, that someone else has experienced something similar, that can certainly help. That part may be long in the future, but I do want to share it, one day.

None of us know what tomorrow brings, so sometimes, you’ve got to be willing to ride the ride and see where it takes you. The good thing is, that the valleys don’t last forever, neither does the rain. Good comes out of all situations, even if we can’t see it when we’re in the midst of it. Everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t know what it is. And most importantly, we are NOT the ones controlling the ride. That’s all in God’s hands and His Will will happen and in His time. 

As a fitting end to this post, I think I’ll leave you with some more words of the song “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful,” “But the struggles make you stronger, and the changes make you wise. And happiness has its own way of taking its sweet time. No, life ain’t always beautiful. But I know I’ll be fine. Hey, life ain’t always beautiful, but it’s a beautiful ride.”


PS – Thanks for the Song Gary Allan!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The "ME" I Used to Be...



The “me” I used to be…

March 22, 2015

I guess the colder weather has had me a little reminiscent or something to that effect. It seems that my topics have become a little not-so-fun as I’d originally intended this blog to be. Sometimes certain things come into my mind and I feel like writing about them and sharing them, so, that is the reason for the more serious tones that I’ve taken lately. I hope that they’re still fun or at least thought provoking to you all as you’re reading them.

The thought for this one came as a result of some posts on Facebook from some people that I went to high school with. Different ones posting about the “remember when’s,” favorite classes and teachers, things we all did back in “the day.” You know the kind of posts I’m talking about. Well, the whole thing got me to thinking about how much of that part of my life I feel like I really don’t remember. I remember certain things; proms, specific teachers, close friends, firsts. I even remember my bus driver’s name. But it feels like so much that I probably should have paid attention to, so I would have better memories of it later, I seem to have lost. I know – getting older will do that to you, but I’m really not all that old yet.

I also wonder about the “me” that I was back then. I have always been terribly goofy and awkward. There are times, even now, in a new or unfamiliar situation; I couldn’t say “crap” with a mouthful of the stuff. I’m still just as clumsy now as I was when I was younger, possibly even more so – if that’s possible. I run my mouth about as much now as I did back then, probably even more so now that I get paid to talk to kids all day long. So there are some things that are the same as they’ve always been. I still like to argue (about certain things) and I still like to meet and talk to new people, so I’m still the “politician” my Pap-Paw always told me I was. And I’m still as big of a nerd now (maybe more so) as I was back then. What I don’t really remember was “who” I was back then.

I went to a small high school. Everybody pretty much knew everything about everyone. There were only sixty-eight in my graduating class, so we were a pretty close-knit group – all in all. There were small clicks; that happens with any group of teenagers, but nothing huge. We had ones that were what we called “preppy.” That mostly consisted of the cheerleaders and football players or the kids that were really, really smart – not all of them, mind you, fell into the category, but that was the general gist. The other click was what we called the “rednecks.” That mostly consisted of anybody that wore jeans and boots, or leather to school every day. I guess these were more of the ones that just didn’t conform to the rules or that didn’t really care what others thought of them. Then, there was everybody else in between. I was never a cheerleader nor was I among the very smart. I did wear boots to school a lot (still do as a matter of fact) but, I wasn’t rebellious. I was too scared of doing something wrong or getting in trouble to do anything rebellious. I supposed that means I fell into the in between category. I remember having friends of all sorts of “clicks,” so I don’t really know where I fell as far as social convention are concerned. I hope I was never mean to anyone, and I can honestly say that no one was really what one would call mean to me. There were times of disagreements with this one or that, but nothing terrible and nothing that left scars – physically or mentally.

I remember being very dependent on what people thought.  That is different now because I don’t have to have validation or approval to do something or think a certain way. I remember being very na├»ve, and I guess to an extent I still am this. I always think that everyone’s motives and intentions are genuine and wind up getting hurt in the process. I’ve always been strong willed and opinionated, but I remember being somewhat weak when I was younger. Life and some of the things that have happened to me over the years have hardened that. I can still have my weak moments, but nothing that I’m afraid to fight now. I remember feeling like a relationship validated who I was, like I was nothing without that guy with me. That has definitely changed. I have a wonderful relationship and marriage with my husband, but who I am is not validated by the relationship; it is encouraged and nurtured by the relationship, but it’s not what defines me as a person. That lesson took a while for me to learn. There was a time that I felt like I was lowly and didn’t deserve love or happiness, but that has definitely changed. My marriage has taught me of love and of happiness and that all people, no matter who they are deserve to be loved and to be happy.

I’m sure there are many other “for instances” that I could call up here, but I think I’ve touched on the important ones. I don’t really know who I was 20+/- years ago, but I do know who I am now. I am a strong, independent (probably too much so sometimes), opinionated, nerdy, goofy, awkward, clumsy, genuine woman who is now strong enough to think for herself and lucky enough to have love and be loved by my very best friend in the whole world.  So while I’m still the same Laura as I’ve always been, many traits, thoughts, needs, etc. of me are very different from the Laura I was many years ago.

The last thing that I wonder about, am I the only one who sits and ponders this stuff, or are there any others out there that have or do wonder the same things? Lol. Maybe not, but I’m probably the only one that takes the time to write about them! 

Tune in next time…

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Footprints on our hearts...



February 24, 2015

Footprints on our hearts…

Earlier this week, a couple that is very near and dear to me, had to lay their sweet Fur Baby to rest. Those of you that know me know that I have an extremely soft spot in my heart for any kind of critter, whether furry, fuzzy, or feathered. Those little varmints have a way of completely worming their way into my heart and there’s no way of getting them out. So the thought for this post is about our extended family members and the impact that they have on our lives.

As I have said before, I didn’t have any pets growing up, unless you count the two goldfish that my brother and I had for a small amount of time. They were affectionately known as General Lee and Dixie. Poor Dixie lept out of the fish bowl into the living room floor one night and General Lee didn’t agree with one of the bowl cleanings. I was very little when we had those fish, so I don’t really remember forming any kind of bond to them, if one can even form a bond to goldfish. But, since I have been living on my own I’ve had critters in my life in one form or fashion. 

The first Fur Buddy I had was a 145# Rottweiler named Hooch. He was a huge, gentle, lap dog, that loved Friday night Pizza and Movie nights, loved my Mom, loved playing with pop bottles, loved kids, and truly saved me from losing my ever-loving mind during a rough period in my life. He was my best friend. He was always happy to see me, listened to me and snuggled with me when I was sad, and the only man that he ever liked (other than the fellow that raised him) was my husband, Wayne. Hooch left me on April 4, 1999 and there’s not hardly a day that goes by that I don’t think of him, or something that I used to share with him. We laid him to rest on the hill behind our house, underneath a little patch of dogwood trees that I always figured he’d have loved to have romped in if he’d been able to. 

The next Fur Buddy that came into my life happened as a result of him, finding my husband at work on the morning of April 1, 2001. I got a phone call telling me that he was bringing something home for me that evening, and that it wasn’t an April fool’s joke. When he got home, this fuzzy, speckled Australian Shepherd dog, hopped out of the back of his truck and into our hearts. That big, rotten, fuzzy (and I do mean terribly fuzzy, that poor guy had a heck of a coat of fur), goofy critter, completely won us over and he moved into his fur-ever home. Thanks to the one big, black spot on his side, he was affectionately named Spek. Spek loved to go for rides, whether in the truck or on the boat, he loved all of the grandkids, and he loved falling over on you to get attention and petting – and trust me; all 70 pounds would literally fall over on you. That sweet soul left us during the morning of June 14, 2013 and is laid to rest beside Hooch under the dogwood trees that he did get to lay and romp under.

There are currently twenty-four furry or feathery little (some not so little) souls that depend on us for their food and well-being. Each one of them has a special place in my heart. Some I have bonded with more than others, but each one of them are uniquely special and are completely a part of my life. All three dogs, the cat that just appeared out of nowhere, seven horses, one donkey, and one mule were basically all rescue animals in one form or fashion. One horse and ten chickens were purchased and brought here. But all of them, each furry and feathery one is special and makes my day better just by being around them. I wouldn’t know what to do in a day without Sonny pinning his ears back when I go to put his food in his bucket. Or without PJoe grunting and nickering for his food or for his evening treats. Or without Jasper’s pacing and funny faces before his food pan is put down. Or without Apple Jack meeting me at the water trough begging for treats by sounding like an old model T car trying to start. I wouldn’t know what to do without Abby bouncing around and stopping right in front of me while carrying food out to the horses or even better, when she decides to bounce off of me when I’m pouring food out for the horses. I wouldn’t know what to do without the chickens singing and squawking when I go to feed them and collect their presents every evening, nor would I know what to do if I didn’t have to catch my little Nell chicken and put her in the house every evening. I wouldn’t know what to do without my Molly hugs that I get when I take treats up there, or my Sassy hand-shakes and tail wags. I also don’t know what I’d do without Hanz running everywhere he goes, Ghost being a grumpy old curmudgeon, Harry being, well, Harry, Spirit being a terribly PMS’y female, Maggie being slow and easy, and Mr. Bentley being the kindest, sweetest horse in that field. There are days when doing everything for this brood can be cumbersome and just plain hard, but there are many more days when this brood can completely wipe away all of the bad stuff from the day and make everything smiling and better. 

In this world of way too much crazy, it is very nice to have these furry and feathery babies to share my day with and them letting me share theirs. My life is better by having had all of them in it. While Hooch and Spek are no longer with me in physical form, their personalities and silliness will always be there and the love that I gave them and they gave me will always be in my heart. That will never change no matter how long they’ve been gone. I know that eventually, all of the ones that are with me now will most likely leave me before I leave them, but still, my life has been changed, much for the better, by having them, loving them, and getting to know them. 

For those of you that love animals as much as I do, you know what I’m talking about. These beasties come into your life and eventually leave foot prints (paw, hoof, or claw) all over your heart, but in the end, I know, that I’m better for having loved them. 

This is dedicated to the memories of Hooch, Spek, and sweet Jodi, may you all be romping and running, playing and bouncing. Thank you for loving us and for letting us love you.

Soon after I shared this post, my brother's Fur Baby, Lilly, passed away. So this is also dedicated to Miss Lilly and all the love she shared.