When I was much younger, I did not understand what older people meant when they would tell me, “If you have a handful of people in your life that you can count on one hand, you are lucky!” 

Like so many young people, I believed that the more people you knew and thought were friends, the better off you are.  These would always be there for you through thick and thin.  Of course, as we grow older we realize this is not the case.

To learn earlier in life that it is better to find just a few others with whom you can truly be yourself sets one up for better friendships.  There would be fewer worries about having to impress. No having to put makeup on, getting dressed up, acting a certain way because of your age, or any other arbitrary rules of friendship when you get together for social events.

August 21, 2017 was a Monday morning just like that.

The event was the solar eclipse of 2017. None of us had ever experienced one before, and we had the opportunity to see a 94% solar eclipse.

We were simply three friends, who have known one another for a very long time. With little sleep, no makeup, not giving a rat’s patootie what anyone else thinks of them, they made memories and had fun together.  If the younger crowd would have seen us, they would have thought we were all being dumb, annoying, and intent on embarrassing them.

What a joy it is to be at a point in life when you can take the simplest of moments and simply experience them with people who aren’t afraid to experience life with you… One moment at a time.

Oh! Sheer authenticity and joy!


Win or lose, it’s how you play the game


Life deals us cards to play throughout life.


Most of the time we fairly confident in our ability to play. The cards may not be the best, but we learn strategies to play confidently. We find ourselves having to bluff from time-to-time, but we get through it and win a hand or two.

Sometimes, we are dealt a handful of crummy cards.  We have no idea how we can win the game. And then, the next few hands are worse than the one dealt before it. We might even look at those cards and wonder why it seems that we have been dealt more than our fair share.

Have you ever noticed that some people can still win the game and continue to be happy and have fun, despite the overabundance of crummy cards that are dealt to them, often at no fault of their own?

Some people play poorly.

They may blame the deck, the dealer, or LIFE for not having been given better chances of winning. They may complain incessantly about without a willingness to take responsibility for how they play in those situations. They cannot see their way to turning the hand around through better play, or cutting their losses strategically.



 Bad cards happen to us all; but we have to play them.

If we want to have a more fulfilling life, then we have to choose to play, otherwise we automatically lose.  We have to choose to re-frame how we see what we have been dealt…what we live.  We must choose to see beyond the negativity that we feel and learn how to figure out how to see our cards from a different perspective. (Perhaps, we have a habit of talking about most things from a negative perspective?)

Taking ownership of our habits can be biggest struggle.

This is the one “card” that we can choose to play differently.

When we play the cards we have been dealt in life, we are playing the game with the others around us. Do we want to drag the others down so that we don’t have to be alone in the miserable game? Or can we choose to have some good fun with others who can move through life with us?

Again, we must play the cards dealt.

It’s not always easy. In fact, sometimes, it is all we can do to just get through the game without quitting.  But, the next hand we are dealt may very well be the winning hand.


LIFE is the Battlefield

It all begins a minor disagreement.

Then, one person gets so offended, they find it necessary go out on a limb to try to destroy the other.

This phenomenon is not new to any of us who went to junior high school. If you look at the history of the world, there is continual evidence of this.

These bullies relish finding people who will blindly follow them and do their dirty work for them. These “sheep” are sent out to be the annoyances.

Should there be a response or reaction from the intended receiver, the leader-aggressor will often give a surprised look, leaving the ambushed one to be the overly-reactive screaming banshee. The blame is always transferred to the vocal one.

Of course, the Bully and his or her clan will stand on the soapbox of sanctimony. They claim to have been picked on unduly, satisfied in their ability to have turned the tables on their intended, and often unsuspecting, victim.

Another set up. And yet again, someone else takes the fall.

People have not changed very much over the centuries. No matter where we are, or whatever situation it is that we may interact as human beings, there is likely to be someone who will always try to turn any situation into a battlefield, picking fights that are unnecessary.

Have you encountered this type of situation in your life? In your workplace? At school? On social media? With family or friends? Other situations?

Do you always walk away? Or do you try to defend yourself, your name, or your honor?

Walking away does not mean “ignore it and (maybe) it will go away.”

We must get to a point in our lives where we start to recognize the patterns in ourselves and in others.  Perhaps, you are like me that you find it necessary to prove your innocence, because you were made the scapegoat in many aspects throughout your life? You may find yourself continually in defensive mode.

Others know that they can “bait” you into the battle with comments such as:

  • There you go, always being defensive!”
  • “Why must you take it so personally?”
  • “If it weren’t true, you wouldn’t react as you do!”  

Sound (or feel) familiar?

  • The truth is…you take it personally, because the other meant it to be personal.
  • The truth is…yes, you are always on the defensive.
  • The lie is…what you are fed as their truth must also be your truth, accompanied by your reaction.

Walking away means that …

  • We know exactly who we are and own our choices and behavior.
  • We are no longer willing to live by the baited tactics of others, who may try to control our behavior by continually setting us up to fail.
  • We know the difference between competing to “be right” and behaving in a way to “do the right thing.”
  • We know how to love others, in spite of their faults, but recognize that we do not have to take part in, nor have an interest in, the matter or action.

We have to learn to let go.

There comes a time when we must know within ourselves what is right or wrong. Proving someone else wrong, no matter what you may know to be absolute truth because of the evidence you have, may not always be the best way to approach the situation.  Believe me, I know this one well.

Learning to let someone be (or think they are) right has been one of the best lessons I have learned.   Does it still irk me?   Of course, it does!

Yet, letting it go does not mean that I am wrong.  It does not mean that I am responsible for being life’s teacher to all of humanity in its ignorance.

The one truth that I have learned is that…

Life truly is the battlefield…

And I am the one that is allowed to pick the battles that are worth my time.


Photo credit:  Pixabay public domain

Invitations, behaviors, and habits

I find it curious to observe the behaviors and habits of people. Some I have known throughout my life and others I have never met face-to-face. They span all cultures, ages, genders, and more.

No matter what the groups to whom we belong, we really are all a reflection of society (human behavior), and life, as a whole.  If we can step back away from our emotions, we may find the people of the world around us (and beyond) fascinating, too.

We have those in life who are always there, always supportive, who will attend all of our functions, and be genuinely interested in what we pursue. Others will care less, and show up only if it has some benefit to them. Others invite you to all of their functions, expecting that you will attend. Some are offended if you do not not show up. Others expect that you will attend, but will never show up for your functions, and never intend to do so.

Some people are friendly to all; yet, others are friendly to no one. Some people go through motions, without much emotion. Others are so emotional that it makes it difficult to go through any motions, at all.

I think this is true, whether in face-to-face relationships with friends, acquaintances, family, but especially with those we count as family and friends on social media sites, such as Facebook, et. al.

Since the advent of these sites, have you found that others use them as their sole medium for event invitations?  Or do you get a phone call, email invitation, or a mailed invitation through the post office?

Do you find the habits of other humans curious, and how they have changed in your LIFE, in general? Or does it not matter anymore?


(Photo credit: Pixabay, Public domain)

Do you have time to waste?

It never ceases to amaze me that time moves so quickly. Yet, when it does, I cannot help but wish that I would have taken more time to take care of the “important things” in life.

So many of us waste so much time on things that really do not matter.

  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Vanity
  • False sense of pride

These things and so many more seem to consume so much of our time.

  • We have to be “right” by proving others “wrong.”
  • We put others in the middle of our “push-me-pull-you” arguments, as they become the unwitting pawns.
  • We find ourselves as the pawns in others’ futile games.

We have only so much time in our lives. It is so important that we use it in ways and for things that will make a difference in this world.

In the words of Steve Jobs:  “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown our your inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Let us use our time and energy in a way that will share our unique, powerful selves in a way that will make the most the good things we have to offer to others and the world.


Photo credit:  Pixabay, public domain


Reflecting on 2017 and looking forward to 2018

2017 has been a year of LIFE.

2017 was the year that marked five years since my diagnosis of stage 4 Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid Cancer. As there is no cure in my case, there is no remission.  Yet, here I am looking forward to the sixth year, many believing that August 2012 would be my last birthday.  I celebrated my 62nd this past year, and I look forward to the next!

2017 has been a year of EDUCATION.

I studied Spanish in 2017. I also enjoyed lectures and discussions in Philosophy, Ethics and World War II History from professors who are brilliant and love their subjects.  I am taking all these classes as a “senior audit student,” so my tuition is waived.  I do not receive a grade or credit for taking them, though they will show up on my transcript that I have taken the classes. I received my Bachelors degree nearly 16 years ago, but I love to learn, and I like the challenge. I will continue doing the same in 2018.

2017 has been a year of CREATIVITY.

It was only three years ago that I picked up a paintbrush for the first time to put something on canvas. If you talked to my friend and creative arts “coach,” she would tell you that it has been difficult for me to break through certain emotions to get in touch with my child-like creative self.  Yet, this year, I painted 10 canvases, nearly all of them with faces. Though they may never become famous works of art, they are MY works of art, as childish as they may seem to others.

2017 has been a year of FRIENDSHIP.

This year I have come to realize the truer meanings of “friendship” or “relationship” to others, and what it means with friends, family and acquaintances, and in business and pleasure.  Learning to recognize those relationships, which are uplifting to all parties involved, as well as when there is little reciprocity, has been of the utmost of valuable lessons. I have continued to learn that, by accepting others for who they are, it is simply about love.  It does not necessarily mean that relationship will continue. Sometimes, we must learn to let go of others.  It is equally as important to accept and love oneself, and make choices that are best for us and our well-being.

2017 has been a year of GRATITUDE.

There are so many things this year for which to be grateful. Having had the opportunity to learn about myself and others, I am grateful for the chance at all the experiences and lessons that have been presented, even when it is necessary to deal with the painful realizations that all things and people are not as they seem.   However, though we encounter those few people in life who choose to stand in extreme judgment, spewing ugliness, and doing their personal best to drag others down into the mud with them, there are many more people in life that we encounter…

…there are so many more who are accepting and beautiful, uplifting and encouraging, supportive and loving, and who will be there without judgment.  

These are the people in life who are truly the most genuine, and will share themselves freely…vulnerable and without expectation.

If nothing more was learned in 2017, I have learned about genuine love from and for others and I am so grateful for these people in my life.

* * * * * * * * *


Of course, none of know the answer to that question!  We set goals, make resolutions, and have the best of intentions, before something happens to put a glitch in our plans, derailing all those lofty dreams.

All we can do is keep moving forward, approaching life with gusto and working toward being a better version of ourselves.

2018 will be a year of LIFE.

I know that I must continue to live every day that I am given. I will wake up and look forward to whatever adventures each day presents to me.

2018 will be a year of EDUCATION.

I will continue to audit classes in 2018. I am looking forward to what more I can learn. I love keeping my brain engaged.  I look toward taking more classes that encourage more of the creative side of my soul, not just the academic.

2018 will be a year of CREATIVITY.

The first class at the college for which I am signed up is a Jazz Musicianship class. I have known the professor for nearly 20 years. I have never taken a class from him, but I know that he is a brilliant bassist, having seen him perform with various bands over these two decades. I look forward to putting in practice more improvisation and taking more risks as a singer. I look to resurrect the music in me in a way that gives me joy, getting back to what I consider my “jazz roots.” As well, I’m in collaboration right now with another bassist to start to work together in 2018, possibly with a bass and vocal duo.

I have several more canvases that I have to paint. I want to continue to explore acrylic painting, and to approach my style of painting with as much freedom as I have begun to embrace,without worrying about what others think of it. I am also planning to enter a couple of them in a juried art show designed for veterans to share their art.

2018 will be a year of FRIENDSHIP.

Oprah Winfrey said, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”

These words from Ms. Winfrey are representative of my biggest goal for 2018, as I too often waste too much energy and time with people, situations and things which I let “eat at me” and rob me of my inner peace, and halt my joy. Sometimes these are things that are beyond my control.  At other times, some will purposefully do whatever they can to “pick” and get a reaction.  HOWEVER…

Let me point out AND repeat the operative words:

I waste…I waste…

No matter what others may do to us, or try to do in order to cause us grief, even though it certainly does affect us, it is ALWAYS MY OWN RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that I care for my own well-being.  Like so many others before me, I must take care not to be sucked into the old patterns that some will try to heap upon me.

2018 will be a year of GRATITUDE.

Let us all be aware of (and own) the choices that we make, as these will be the ones that make the biggest differences in LIFE and views of success in 2018. Let us all be GRATEFUL for those lessons we learn by what life deals out. Let us all be joyous in the genuine relationships that we are given that truly lift us up to happier hearts and a desire to be better to one another.










Vulnerability and Telling More of a Story


Coming to understand myself and the “whys” behind my beliefs about the world and the people in it has always been of interest to me.  I am also just as interested in others and their stories. As I tend to be rather curious and analytical, I have often been told that I “would make a good counselor.” I am not sure that it is truth, but I do see that I am willing to look in the mirror and find the connections with others and the correlations of experiences. It requires us all to be more vulnerable.

Recently, I have begun to “look” beyond some of the issues that have presented in my life. They seem to be inter-connected in so many ways.

It has been more than two decades since I have truly done anything to “celebrate” the Christmas holidays in my home. There have been some moments where one may have seen a glimmer; however (for the most part), it has been non-existent. I have cooked or helped to cook the holiday meals elsewhere, but it was never the same. Much of the time, I went to a restaurant for a meal…sometimes with a friend, sometimes alone.

“Hoarding,” or just Scared?

This past summer I began to open up and admit to “shutting others out.” The easiest way for me to do this was to not deal with clutter in my home.  This way, I did not allow others into my space.

I could have let others into my home, but there would have been some who would have been judgmental and then  would have told others how awful it was…I was.  Some would have accused me of being “a hoarder,” likening me to the extreme hoarders featured on the television show.

Truth be told, I bought into those visions of myself. I did not see reality, but saw myself through the judging eyes of others. So, I shut down not only from others, but myself.

One of the things that I would never have been able to tolerate is the filth of rotting foods, the scampering of rodents, and the other horrors that are sensationalized with the show.

Yet, the piled-up, unpacked boxes from previous moves kept me from “LIVING” in my home and accepting others into my home to celebrate life, friends and family, and the holidays we share throughout the year.

Preparing to Die

I moved into my current townhouse in September 2013, preparing to die. It was a year-and-a-half earlier that I was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid cancer, and told by an Army Lt. Col. and surgeon that I “…(had) six months to a year, two…if lucky.”

So, when I moved, I truly believed that I had less than a year to live. That being the case, why unpack?

Looking back, I understand the ideas or thoughts and how they manifested in the way that they did. But I also recognized that how I choose to look at my life and what I think, believe or do is MINE to choose, despite what others will tell me, think of me, or treat me.

Starting to Live Again

This summer, I have started to “let go” of the accumulation. I am unpacking and donating items that I no longer need to friends, family, and organizations.  I am beginning to see a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  It has much less to do with the condition of my home, but the condition of me and my view of life and the people in it.

I call this my “Clutter Project.”  I am facing my inner turmoil around letting others see who I am on the inside, which is difficult. It is not easy to be vulnerable. It is not easy to be open, knowing that there will be some who will act in judgement, and then reject and abandon. It is downright painful, and then very tempting to pull back and shut down even more deeply.  It is not easy, and their is so much more to do, but I have started.

This is where the choice to keep moving forward is so important. Trusting when it is scary to do so.

I have allowed two trusted friends to see the chaos on the inside of me and in my home. Each has been invited to dine with me, including Thanksgiving Dinner. Two other friends have come over (separately.)

There was an online friend from Australia who stayed with me for a week this month.  We had only spoken by phone for an hour total (two calls) in the 18 years that we had “met” online.

Last week, I committed to hosting Christmas Day dinner here in my home. It will not be formal, but rather informal. There will be seven of us for certain, and maybe a total of three more.  I must admit that I am a bit anxious about it.

Since I have opened up about my struggles to one of my sisters, and to my best friend (BK), each has shown me so much love and support.  The relationship between my sister and I has strengthened in ways I never imagined, and it is much more authentic than
any other relationship that I have had with a family member.

If not for BK’s help in going through things here in my place these past five months, I would feel paralyzed. She has been here to help me as I push through the process in my own way. She and I (together) are learning our own lessons of telling our stories, and listening with more love. Of course, it requires us to be truthful with one another, but more importantly…truthful with the person in the mirror.

So, Christmas get-together at my place!

I will likely invite others over during the season between now and the New Year holiday. It is getting easier to allow people that I know care and who are not going to walk in judgement of me into my home…into my heart. I am also confident that if I felt there were others who would walk in and look down their noses, I would be gracious enough to offer a coffee, but cut the time short.

Keep telling your story

I know my story. I know the characters in the story, up to this point in my life. I understand how the story has been written, but I also know that there are twists and turns in every story, and that we never know how any story will end.

Is it not wonderful that we get to write more chapters and change the direction of the plot of our stories? We find other characters along the way. When the story is all-told, as we come to the end, it is a far different story than we expected.

I am grateful to all who have become part of my life. I thank each for taking time to read and “listen” to more of my story.  I appreciate all who have shared their stories with me.

And I look forward to continuing the journey.

(Note:  Edited from original post by the author, “There is always MORE to the story, if one is willing to listen to the storyteller” written and published on 13 December 2017 at

Rites of passage

As the day comes to a close and I prepare for bed, I remember the first night I spent on my own, property of the U.S. Government, in a bottom bunk in an old, wooden barracks at Lackland AFB, San Antonio.

I had no idea what the next day or month or year would hold, but I had made the decision. No one made it for me.

As I reflect on that first night, I recognize now that I knew very little about what it was to be in relationship to other people. I did not know what it was like to have very many friends. Nor did I realize that most of the women that were my “flight mates,” who were in the same basic training squadron that I was in,  had their own stories.  Perhaps, some of them were running away from the lives they had before the Air Force, just as I was doing.

Maybe they, like me, were just as clueless about who they really were outside of a family that did not really know them, as we tried to live up to (and break out of, simultaneously) the expectations of what we were supposed to be as women.

Forty-four years ago, I had a difficult time falling asleep in the old barracks with no air conditioning on a muggy Thursday night in San Antonio.  Two all-cotton flat sheets, a wool blanket, and a feather pillow with a cotton pillow case were all that separated me from the lumpy mattress on the bottom bunk of a metal bunk bed. The newness of being solely responsible now for my own decisions had my mind racing, and I thought back to earlier  that morning…

I had turned 18 just thirteen days earlier. I was now considered an adult. I remember not wanting her to go in with me. I told her that I did not. It was my way of letting her know I was a big girl and to cut the ties.
I wanted my mother to drop me off in front of the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) in Los Angeles, California. We got there before 7:30 a.m. and all I wanted to do is get out of the car, say a quick “Goodbye,” and pass through the doors…by myself.
All of the rest of the memories of the morning are foggy now, 44 years later. what I might say could very well hold some inaccuracies. I do remember that it felt awkward.
Today was the day that I pushed my mother away, declaring through my actions, that I was an adult now and did not need her…nor want her. Of course, I never said those words. Yet, is that not what we all do at some point in our lives when we “grow up”?
I was her firstborn, but now I was leaving. Abandoning the family…abandoning her, a 39-year-old single mother of four more children, ranging in ages of 14 down to 4. My father had left her only a year-and-a-half earlier for a younger woman who was only nine years my senior.
Today was also the day that I felt my mother gave her final push to get me out of her hair. I was an adult now and did not need her. She did not need me either…nor want me. Of course, she never said those words either.
In some ways, it felt like an emotional stand-down. Two generations of women, who had not yet learned how to say, “I need you. I want you. I love you. I am going to miss you.” It seemed so much easier to simply push away or push back.
Forty-four years ago today, I left home–my mother and my four siblings–to join the United States Air Force to serve my country. I loved my country.
I would not do things much differently than I did, except….I would have told my Mom that I was and always would be her little girl who needed and wanted her, and would always love her.
(Original story–“My rite of passage into adulthood”–as written by me and posted at MyLot, 23 August 2017 10:23 a.m. PDT )
As I prepare for bed tonight, many years later, it is still my racing mind that keeps me separated from the sleep that has always proved to elude me.

Six months is too long…

Six months is too long to go without keeping up on a blog of any kind.  If this were a blog which was monetized and I were relying on its income, instead of simply as a way to share my silly thoughts, I would be in dire straits.

Since I last posted, I audited more Spanish classes at my local community college.  It has not done much for my ability to speak, but I can certainly understand more.  Admittedly, the tenses beyond the present and simple past kicked my butt.  I plan on re-auditing the both Spanish II and III again in the winter and spring quarters.  I am also bound and determined to find a place where I can volunteer that will keep me (at least) speaking occasionally.  The more I hear it, and attempt the communication in Spanish, the more I will retain.

In the late spring (May and June), I came up on an anniversary of my diagnosis of stage 4 Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)/Carcinoid Cancer.  It has been five years since the fiasco of 2012, when I was told that I “have six months to a year; two, if lucky.” Each year, I have a little “fight” with myself surrounding those memories.  I keep reminding myself that I am LIVING with stage 4 cancer, NOT dying of it!

I am grateful for this life, and am also grateful for the decades of other challenges throughout my life–family, military, my choices, failed relationships (romantic, friends, family, career)–that have prepared me to handle all that has been dropped in my lap.  Of course, I am ever-so-thankful for the good things that have also come from life. Sometimes, the challenge is staying focused on the good that comes from each and every situation, even though it is not always easy.

I truly believe it is a mindset that comes from releasing ourselves from the shame and guilt that has been heaped upon us by systems (family, school, religion, military, clubs, cliques, etc. ) that feel the need to control us…to make us “behave.”  I have become more and more aware this year of just how much I chose those paths over the years, because I somehow felt so damaged and in need of being fixed.

I have held onto a lot of “clutter” in my life, literally and figuratively.  I have used this to keep people “out”…to isolate myself. Honestly, I have done this much of my life, whether things, people, or thoughts.  I am working on the de-cluttering process in many facets. Whether things, thoughts or people, all can insidiously take over our lives, leaving us no room for taking care of ourselves first.  I am continuing to do some hard work surrounding some of those issues and, I am happy to say, with much less guilt.

Just 12 days ago, I had a birthday–my 62nd.  It has been a challenge to wrap my head around this number.  But it is just a number. Since I never believed that I would see 58, I am always surprised.  I do not dwell much on it, but try to wake up each day and simply say, “Thank you.”

There is always much more that I could say, but I will call it “a wrap,” for this evening.

I will simply end with one of my favorite quotes from Ann Landers.

Nobody gets to live life backward. Look ahead. That is where your future lies.

Remember, dear readers, we are all living with something.  Please do not allow it to keep you from enjoying life.

Love, joy and peace to you…


It’s the middle of February and Life seems to be moving at mach speed

Life seems to pass along so quickly any more.  There never seems to be enough time.  At least, that’s what I hear others say.

Earlier this month, I wrote a piece called “Out of sight, out of mind” ( click on the link to read) and noted that we do not pay much attention to those around us. I have to wonder just how much can be attributed to the fast pace by which we make our choices.

I also wonder why we want to include others in our lives, yet do not seem to have the time to do so.

The question remains:  Do we REALLY want them or do we simply feel obligated to say so?

Life continues to move day-by-day.  One day, it will come to an end for each of us.  But time will continue to move on for those who remain.  Are we ready to deal with the consequences of having so little time for those we say we care about?

Time is ticking away at record speed. Quality time spent is so important, that we must make some decisions to forego the things that rob us of joy, and seek out those moments where we do not settle. Time will not wait for us.