Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Power of Words - My Legacy

After a long career in the administrative field, I have had an opportunity to sit back and watch people and how they interact with others around them. There is one thing that has been consistent throughout these last 20+ years. It never ceases to amaze me how many people I have encountered in my life that do not realize the damage the can cause just by opening their mouths and speaking words before they think.

The only reason I bring this up is the simple fact that when I was young, I had a problem with this; so much so in fact, that my mother made me a plaque that said something like “Engage your brain before putting your mouth in gear.” Loosely translated, it means, “Think before you speak.” This is why that, today, writing has become very important to me.

Words are the most powerful tool we have in our arsenal to combat this thing that we call “Life”.

Words bring comfort and healing. Words inspire and engage. Words emit pleasure and love. Unfortunately, sometimes words can hurt, destroy, demean and be insulting. Words can threaten and victimize. Words can cause confusion or embarrassment. Words can insight fear or sadness. Most of all, I have learned over the years that words are sometimes said out of fear, frustration or desperation.

Words, both positive and negative, are the ying and yang of our existence.

I may not have that plaque on the wall from when I was a child, but I know that when I speak, I choose my words very carefully. Through my words, I hope to leave a mark on the world and maybe, just maybe, touch someone’s life in a positive way.
I have been writing for a very long time. It’s only recently that I have decided to share my thoughts and words with the world. Since I don’t have a son or a daughter to pass on my wisdom, I have but only one way to leave my legacy…through words.

From Signature

***I have written this piece as a part of The Blog Hop for the group, The Writer's Post. Join the hop and have some fun!***

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Reviews

I am a bit behind on my book reviews for the book club, 52 Weeks, 52 Books. Have no fear, I will get to them soon! I just finished an old one tonight. I have one more old one to do and then it's on to the current ones. As time permits, I will be going back to insert some additional thoughts to the individual entries.

In the meantime, I am still reading. Sometimes as many as three different books at a time. That is where I am at right now. I suppose you're wondering how I can do this. The answer is really simple. All three books are completely different. So, I can keep the stories straight. It also keeps my mind from wandering because I have to remember where each story is at every time I pick up the book.

Check back to the Book Club often! I have more great books in the queue!

From Signature

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer - Adventures in Camping

When Summer arrives, my thoughts lead to one thing, camping!

I have so many fond memories of my childhood summer vacations. Before I met my husband, my idea of camping was staying in a well-equipped RV at a really nice campground.

My dad was, and still is, a very smart business man. As such, we were very fortunate to be able to take so many trips. Every year we went to Florida at least once. Sometimes it was during the summer, other times we went during Christmas vacation. Sometimes both! I wish I could share some of those pictures of those trips here, but alas, they are not digital and I have to scan them all. (Hmmm....I feel a winter project in the works!)

Some of my favorite memories were when we went to Disney World. I remember as a child how I hated going inside The Haunted Mansion. It terrified me and my brother would always do something to make me jump and scream!

I loved visiting Sea World...I think it was favorite place. Seeing the whales and dolphins fascinated me, but I could never convince my mom to sit down front. She didn't want to get wet during the show! Oh well... Looking back on it now, going here several times when I was young helped to shape my desire to live near the ocean. Not that I can swim or anything...I just need to be near the water as I find it very soothing.

Other family vacations throughout the years included Tennessee to visit the Great Smokey Mountains, Mackinac Island, MI, the Amana Colonies in Iowa, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Hershey Park in Hershey, PA, up north to The Wisconsin Dells, and even further up north to Hayward, WI to see the World Championship Lumberjack contests.

As you can see, most of my childhood was spent on the Eastern half of the U.S. After I married, I moved West, first to Arizona, and now, California. Since 1992, my husband and I have traveled all over the west on our vacations. But the difference this time is we a tent!

What a shock to my system! Here I was, used to the finer amenities of camping (my husband referred to that as my RVing years) and now I'm roughing it! Although, I must admit, I put my foot down and demanded there be a real toilet wherever we go. Or, at the very least, we take a toilet with us. Well actually, we take more than that. I always say, "We are not heathens! We camp in style!" We pack all the best things from home, just using camping gear!

One of the most memorable experiences was at Yellowstone National Park. I think the picture below says it all:

Nothing like having a buffalo next to your tent!

Oh and before I forget, we create a huge traffic jam, when my husband took this picture:

He was less than 10 feet away from these bad boys! That probably wasn't a good idea since it was the "rutting" season!

My favorite Camping photo is when we went to Pismo Beach. It's my favorite place in the whole world. The photo below captures it all for me:

I will say that my husband taught me the true meaning of camping. We have had so many adventures than I can count. I know that there are so many more to come. I hope to share more photos with you soon as we are off for another adventure in August. I am so excited, I think I am going to burst! I am going back to my favorite place in the whole world!

Until then,

Happy Summer Memories Everyone!

From Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I recently joined, GBE 2: Blog On. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

1st Adult Book Read Blogfest - "Flowers In The Attic" by V.C. Andrew

I had a difficult time remembering which book was my "first adult" book. Originally, I thought it was something by Danielle Steel. However, after searching my memories, I have to say it was "Flowers In The Attic" by V.C. Andrew. I was introduced to this author by my best friend at the time. We lived out in the country on one of the few roads that actually had houses built fairly close to one another, but still had some land. I think we had about an acre and a half all told. My friend lived two doors away. She knew that I liked to read and since I didn't go anywhere very much, she suggested that I try reading this book. It was something different than the usual Harlequin romance novels I was reading, and I thought, why not?

The book was published in 1979 and I was 15 years old. I had no idea what I was getting into...

From the very beginning, I was capitivated. The story is about the four Dollanganger children who had the perfect life, until their father was tragically killed in an automobile accident. When their mother could no longer support the family, she had to write home o convince her own mother to let her and the children to come home to the family homestead. The mother, Corrine, knows that her rich parents are the answer to the financial woes and promises the children that everything will be alright. The grandfather knows nothing of the children so the four of them, Cathy, Chris, Cory and Carrie, must hide in house away from the heartless man. In the meantime, Corrine must win back her father's love before he dies as he disowned her when she was young. She knows this is the only way to inherit the family fortune.

Under the cloak of darkness, they arrive at the family mansion and the children are placed in a room upstairs near the attic. This is where they stayed...for years.

As the story moves on, the children get older and they find out that their father was actually their grandfather's half-brother. Their grandmother is mean and abuses them both physically and emotionally. Their once beloved mother loses interest in them and stops coming to visit altogether. The two older children become parents to the younger ones.

I won't give away anymore of the storyline in case someone wants to read the novel. I will say that at the time, this book and the entire series was popular.

I think about what I read now and am dumbfounded by the idea that anyone could treat their children this way. But I have to remember that it is just a story and at the time it was written, it spoke about things that were never, if ever, discussed. It was also a foreshadow of things to come...

My life forever changed after reading this book because it was my friend's way of telling me that something awful was happening to her. She finally confided in me and told me everything. I was no longer an innocent teenager. I never told anyone what I knew although years later, I did hint to my own mother some of what happened. My husband knows everything. Despite the fact that I grew up and got past the knowledge of what I was told, I moved on to make something of myself. My friend tried to do the same, but she never had the life that I had wanted or hoped for her.

After I got married, we spoke to each other via the phone as often as possible. But I knew something was wrong. She was broken inside. No matter how much I tried to help her, she suffered in more ways than I could count. There's only so much a person can do to help someone else, especially when that person can't help themself first. I can't tell you how many times I cried after I got off the phone with her. As such, I haven't spoken with her in a really long time. The pain I feel for her is too great.

I don't live near my friend anymore. In fact, I am 2000+ miles away. Today, it is not the distance that keeps us apart despite the fact that phones and the advent of social networking could reconnect us. It's simply because she is no longer the person I once knew and there is nothing more that I can do to help her. It is one of the biggest and saddest disappointments of my life.

From Signature

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Sweet Memory - Musical Notes From Long Ago...

For as long as I can remember, music and books have been my whole life. My entire world has been defined by them. Here's why...

I grew up in the country, living just far enough away from everything. We had neighbors with kids my age; my best friend at the time lived two doors away. I wasn't allowed to do very much though as my parents were really over-protective. I spent most of my time in my room reading books, watching tv and listening to music. When I wanted to see my friend two doors down, it took a lot of persuasion on my part to make that happen. Looking back, I understand why it was this way. I was the only daughter and the youngest child.

So my real friends were books, music and television. I had my own room, my own TV, any book I wanted to read and a stereo. Actually, it was a record player (does anyone know what that is anymore?!!) and a radio. The stereo came later.

Through the years, my taste in music changed from popular to rock to country to dance to jazz to classical to instrumental and back through all of them again and again. Today, I love it all. In fact, there are tunes that I am trying to remember from my childhood, and when I do remember that one song that has played over and over in my head, I've been known to search online for hours until I find it. Don't you just hate it when that happens?!!

The first song I want to share with you is this one: "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul. Now you are probably wondering why someone of such young years was listening to this song. (It was released in 1972 and I was eight years old!) Well, the honest truth is that I liked the music. I don't think I really comprehended what the lyrics were all about as I was such an innocent. My mom would have probably been horrified if she knew I liked this song at the time! But I did...the music was hypnotizing. Every time I hear it today, it reminds me of that time when I was oh so young...

Growing up, I never thought my mom and I had much in common, except for our love of shopping. Nevertheless, my parents were really good about not restricting us creatively. My brother loved rock and roll, but the weird stuff like Pink Floyd and Queen. As for me, well I was big into Stevie Nicks and Gloria Estefan. My mom and I actually bonded over a song sung by Stevie Nicks...but a "very special" one. In fact, it was on the album, "A Very Special Christmas". A catchy little tune really called "Silent Night".

My mom still loves this song to this day. I bought the album for her. Whenever I hear it now, I remember the night my mom told me how much she loved this song. It is something I will always treasure.

There is one more song I want to's very important to me because it was playing on the stereo one very special evening. It was the night my husband proposed to me. He actually made a whole tape of songs to play on the stereo that night. I still have that tape. Here it is..."Three Times a Lady", by Lionel Richie.

These are three songs that are very important to me, as is the rest of my musical library. They are a part of my identity and have shaped me into the person that I have become. Tonight as I sit and write this, I have finally figured out why. These songs and many, many more opened up the door to my creative side. Without them, I would not be doing what I am doing, learning and writing.

From Signature

***I have written this piece as a part of The Blog Hop for the group, The Writer's Post. Join the hop and have some fun!***

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Midnight Beckons Me...

Midnight...the quietest time of the day, the most peaceful time of the day. All in my house are slumbering while I am up greeting my old friend. Midnight…half way between the dark and the light.

Most of us should be asleep for hours, but sometimes for me...not so. The dark should frighten me, but sometimes for me...not so. The light should beckon me, but sometimes for me...not so.

I long for the quiet. I long for the peace. I long for the dark. I long for the light, but not just yet...tonight.

Standing outside, the silence and the darkness provides comfort like my favorite blanket wrapped around me, keeping me safe from all that hovers above. Most evenings, I rarely see the stars in the sky as the fog drifts in off the Pacific Coast adding to the allure of Midnight.

Midnight oh Midnight, why do you beckon me so? I need to rest yet your call keeps me awake, reminding me of those nights long ago when sleep for me was so elusive. How can I not answer? You were such a true friend back then as you are now; always there for me, consistently and without fail. Maybe you know something I do not. Maybe somewhere deep down, I need you more than sleep this night.

Midnight…halfway between the dark and the light. Surround me with quiet, bring your peace and share your comfort with me...again...tonight.

From Signature

***I have written this piece for a group on Facebook that I recently joined, GBE 2: Blog On. Interested in on the picture below to take you there.

What's The Buzz?

After a bit of break yesterday to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt. 2 and a little me time for shopping, I worked on some major updates to the site. I hope everyone likes the new look.

For the last several months I've experimented with different backgrounds and decided that most everything looked too busy. I decided on this cleaner and simpler style. The colors are soothing on the eye and the contrast works.

I look forward to your comments and am excited to get back to writing. Design work is fun, but it definitely takes a long time to accomplish.

From Signature

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Fork in the Road - My Own Turning Point In The Storm

It really wasn't that long ago, actually, when I realize that I was at my own turning point. The fork in the road was there but was I going to keep going straight or was I going to go in another direction?

The road that I was on had been comfortable and safe, but was growing bumpy due to some rather large hail from the unexpected storms as of late. I didn't realize it at the time, but these storms were the forewarnings of greater things to come and I needed to pay attention. But I was just so comfortable where I was...

I had just come back from my first ever two-week holiday, when the first storm hit. I had never taken a break that long before. Always being afraid that I wouldn't have anything to come back to, meaning, a job. But I had been assured that all was okay and was told to go and enjoy my rest. I should have listened to my inner voice...the first storm hit upon my return.

The wind howled and ripped through me. Combine with the rain and hail, I could barely stand up. Lighting struck and the power inside of me was knocked out. I managed to recover and surveyed the damage. Repairs needed to be made and fast. Fortunately, I found what I needed to fix the situation and moved forward. Until the next storm...

This time I was more prepared. I had a plan. I opened my gifts and began to use them. The road was getting bumpier, the potholes bigger, and the rain and wind almost blinding. The lighting returned, but this time I absorbed the energy instead of having it drain my power. I yelled into the wind, "You will not defeat me!" I could almost hear the laughter, but then I laughed back. The storm started to subside and I moved forward again.

As I continued down the road, each new storm I encountered was more intense than the one previous. With every lightening bolt, I felt more energy that I seemed to need in order to fulfill some deeper quest. The winds howled and swirled around me, whispering into my ear. At times all I wanted to do was escape to my room and hide under the covers.

But I forged on and it continued to rain as I traveled along the road, until finally the fork appeared. I had to make a decision...the safe and comfortable road was becoming no more. But the road of the unknown was here. What was I going to do? I knew it was now or never. I had finally reached my own turning point. Was I going to be brave?

It was turning point was now. I took the fork in the road. The rain is starting to stop and the sun is just starting to peek out behind the clouds...

From Signature

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

To Thine Own Self Be True

Thoughts keep coming back to me over the last several days; remembrances of another time and place, when I thought that life was going oh so well. Now that I look back on it all, I see the signs. I should have done something sooner. I should have been better prepared. Could have, should have, would have…that’s all in the past now.

I used to rely on the good will of others. But I have learned that may be unwise. I’ve asked myself why and discovered the “Rule of Intentions”. You see, not everyone’s are straightforward. Intentions are the purposes or goals that we have in life. The “rule” is whether those intentions are gained with truth and honesty versus misleading someone for personal gain. The rule affects our choices in life.

Making choices is a difficult task as it requires us to be daring. Dare to make friends, dare to find love, dare to choose our own path and live life on our own terms, not someone else’s. Dare to use the gifts that we are given.

We are all born with gifts. Cultivating them is our own responsibility. There is an old expression, “Practice makes perfect”, which I believe sums it up well. Using often the gifts we are given helps to refine them. To use them is to be brave. To use them is to listen, with your heart, your mind and your soul.

I have listened. I have chosen to be brave. I have chosen to dare. I have chosen to be true, to my own self.

From Signature

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The True Meaning of July 4th

For many of us, the 4th of July Holiday Weekend means an extra day off from work. But what are we really celebrating anyway? Most would probably say they are celebrating the opportunity to get together with family and friends (not for me...most of my family and friends live over 3000 miles away.) Others might say it's an opportunity to take a vacation (not for me either...still fairly new in my job and don't have any vacation time built up, plus...well, I can't talk about that just yet.)

Truthfully, the 4th of July should be about celebrating our nation's independence from Great Britain. Independence Day, or Fourth of July, is a holiday where Americans remember the very important day when we adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. 235 years ago, this piece of paper was signed to give us our freedom.

Freedom...something to think about during these turbulent times around the world. So while we are sitting around this weekend with our family and friends, watching the parades and fireworks, eating BBQ and enjoying an extra day off from work, let us all remember the real reason why we celebrate this day.

We celebrate our freedom.

From Signature