#SoCS – The Fall

image

Eliza had passed away three weeks before. She had suffered from pancreatitis for the almost 14 years of her life, off and on, but that wasn’t her cause of death. I suppose her cause of death was a combination of old age and canine dementia. You’re in danger of inducing canine dementia in your dogs every time you put them under anesthesia when they are old. Eliza had a tooth that was infected and it had to be extracted. There was no choice but to use anesthesia. When she came home from the veterinarian, I knew she wouldn’t live long when she collapsed into the middle of the living room floor for the next 14 hours.

When she finally got up, she was never the same again. She barked at closet doors to go out. She thought night was day and day was night. She forgot that she was hungry. But, I knew her. I could keep her safe and comfortable, at least for awhile. At least that’s what I told myself. That lasted a few months until one morning I saw the look on her face. Somewhere in her little confused mind, she knew things were very wrong. That day, I told my heart dog goodbye and had her gently put to sleep. It didn’t take much. She was mostly gone already.

I felt very alone. She had been with me through many trials and tribulations as well as through good times. She centered me. I had anticipated her death and had started to think about another dog, not being able to imagine being without a canine companion.   I started making some phone calls and heard about a breeder who had two puppies. One needed to find a home. Her sister was going on to be a show dog. The puppy who would come to be my Betsy didn’t have a purpose. Her purpose was to be my companion.

We drove five hours to see the puppy. To a house that was new construction. There was no question that Betsy would come home with me. We spoke at length with the breeder. Dark was coming and we were far from home so we got ready to leave and take Betsy with us. We stepped out onto the porch of this new home. It was dusk and the porch was high off the ground. I stepped forward as I had noticed the wide steps down to the ground. I stepped off the porch……into thin air. There was no railing around the porch and the steps were not the width of the porch. I hit the concrete flat on my face.

I thought at first I was fine. Then, I watched in horror as my vision drained away out of my right eye. The next day, I found out I had suffered a complete detachment of my retina.

Advertisements

National Dog Day Photos

Dogs are truly our best friends. Here is a gallery of the dogs who have owned me over about the last 12 years. Bear is the black dog on the top row. He was a Puli. Eliza, a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, is also on the top row. She was my heart dog and lived 14 years. Smart, wonderful, loyal. Betsy, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, is now 3 1/2 years of age, and is a wonderful companion, is on the second row. Arlo, a Treeing Walker Coonhound, is on the third row. Arlo was my foster dog. I will also put up a gallery of dogs who came before.

 

Making Mistakes

The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. – Theodore Roosevelt

What a wise quote by President Teddy Roosevelt. We can all make a mistake. If we don’t, we are sitting at home with our hands folded in our laps. Mistakes can be large or small. Irrelevant in the grand scheme of your life or life-changing. Usually, when we make a big, life-changing mistake, we surely don’t realize it at the time. We either think what we were doing was not all that important or we were convinced we were doing the right thing. It’s only when things start to go wrong and we look back do we realize we made a mistake.

Why does making a mistake bother us so much? I think the reasons are many but one is that it shows us our vulnerability. We have analyzed a situation incorrectly. On top of that, many of us may not realize it, but we have limited and fragile support systems. Those support systems may collapse if we make a mistake as there may be judgment and criticism involved. Some societies even cast out those who have made a mistake. In the United States, people who make a mistake are usually not cast out explicitly, but they may be implicitly. They certainly may be shunned. For all these reasons, along with the fear of being hurt, we have a deep-seated fear of making mistakes which makes us less creative in our lives.

We cannot avoid making mistakes due to changes in the world around us. Most change in the world we cannot see. It happens slowly and subtly and our actions often cannot keep up with it. So when we take an action, it is a mistake because change has happened that we are not aware of. The older we get, the more we usually fight change. The more we allow ourselves to be flexible and bend with change, the fewer mistakes we will make.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it when we make a mistake, there are benefits to be had. Some of them are: Mistakes deepen our knowledge. They help us see what matters and what does not. They allow us to see if someone in our life has changed or has not. They can teach us to value forgiveness. They can serve as a warning. They can give us a new insight.

There are many more lessons we can learn from mistakes. But we have to get beyond the pain we feel at making the mistake in order to learn the lessons.

When we realize that mistakes are part of the inevitable flow of life, we can relax and handle them better. It won’t take away the pain of making the mistake, but it will help us understand why we made the mistake and learn the lessons we should from it. #amwriting #blogging #writing

 

Recipes for my Appalachian Readers: A Dilemma

I want to post a good recipe for all my Appalachian readers today. But, I have a dilemma and I guess I’m going to have to write a heartfelt blog post and make a confession before I can do anything. It’s hard for me to post the recipes handed down from my family from Appalachia right now..and probably in the future. Why? Twenty years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes. I know many of you feel my pain as you are also diabetic. The prevalence of this disease is high, particularly in Appalachia. Don’t let anyone tell you it is just a function of your weight. I weighed 110 pounds. It is also a function of heredity. The Appalachia side of my family was riddled with it.

I am an insulin-dependent diabetic and have fought this disease one way or another for 20 years but until recently, I never fought it the right way. After my diagnosis and after beginning to take insulin, I gradually started to gain weight. I never gained an excessive amount of weight but it was excessive to me and it certainly did not help diabetes. The more weight I gained, the higher my blood sugar went and the higher my insulin requirements climbed. The higher my insulin requirements climbed, the hungrier I got.

In February of this year, I decided the madness had to stop. I had studied food and nutrition for diabetics. I essentially designed my own diet because the diets given to me by dietitians associated with my diabetes doctor were not working. On March 1, I started the diet I designed. I’m not going to discuss the details of the diet because each person is different and it might not work for you.

The diet did, however, work for me. I’ve lost almost 30 pounds and that is almost as much as I needed to lose. I no longer have to take any daytime insulin and my nighttime insulin has been cut by more than half. I don’t even crave the foods I used to eat.

Why am I telling you all this? Because most of the recipes from the old folks that I would post for you are terribly unhealthy. Delicious but not so healthy. I would like to help the people of Appalachia, not hurt them. So, I want to make a deal with you. Around the holidays, I will post the old recipes. Otherwise, I’m going to post a “lightened up” version of some of the old recipes that you may like just as well. If you are diabetic yourself, they are a lot more diabetes friendly. Deal?

My first “lightened up” recipe will be for cole slaw. #amwriting #blogging #diabetes #Appalachia

 

Recipe for Cole Slaw

image

Here is a lightened up version of a old-fashioned recipe for cole slaw. It’s very easy and can be used just for supper at night or for big family dinners:

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded green cabbage (easy way is to shred in food processor)

1/2 cup both thinly sliced red bell pepper and red onion

2 tbsp both seasoned rice vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsps salt

1/8 tsps freshly ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together, cover, and refrigerator for at least an hour. You can double or triple this recipe for bigger gatherings. #amwriting #blogging #diabetes #healthyeating

 

Looking Back, Part 3

Looking Back, Part 1

Looking Back, Part 2

Now, Looking Back, Part 3

Serena gets up, wearily, from her table and dries her tears. She rinses out her cup and looks out on the landscape she has held so dear for these past years. She came here to find peace and she did but only for awhile. She knows it’s time to leave her home. She doesn’t have much of importance to leave behind. In some ways, she has always traveled light. She has one child, Kenneth, but he and his family live away and she can contact him later. She has some cousins left. She doesn’t think any but a few will miss her and she will let them know. She has some good friends who she will call. They will keep her confidence. Serena has made her decision. Now to act on it before the man comes back.

What do you take with you when you are never coming back? Serena will, of course, take Maggie, her small dog. She goes about making room in her car for Maggie, first and foremost. What she takes now depends on the room she has left. She will need some of her clothes so she quickly sorts some summer and some winter clothes into two small suitcases. Her good jewelry is precious to her and she might have to sell it so it also goes into her car. She pulls several of her grandmother’s old quilts out of the closet along with one set of good sheets. Either she or Maggie or both can use those. That’s it for the bedrooms.

Her computers go with her. She will have to depend on establishments with free WiFi. A few canvases and her paints and there is only one more thing to take out of her storage. Her family pictures. She struggles with the boxes and dumps them all into one box. Out of her bathroom, she stuffs the bare necessities into one of her suitcases. Her makeup, some hair products, and all of her medicines.

In the living room, she stops in front of the fireplace and looks around her as she tries to calm her dog. Maggie is sensing change and is getting agitated. Almost everything in Serena’s house has meaning to her. Her legs start to shake and for a brief moment, she doesn’t think she can do this. Doesn’t think she can leave it all behind. What is the alternative? In order to continue on in this life, she would have to sell her soul. That would be the price of peace. She knows that price is too high. She knows that superficial “things” cannot buy her happiness. She knows she cannot live with herself if she makes that bargain with the devil.

Serena walks into her kitchen, grabs Maggie’s dog food, bowl, and medicine, and a few bottles of water for herself. She carries everything, except Maggie, to the car and begins to pack it.

Within a few minutes, the car is packed and Serena picks up Maggie and settles her in the car. She lays her cell phone on the seat beside her so she will have use of the GPS.

Serena has been thinking of this plan of action for days now. She went to the bank earlier in the day and cleaned out the accounts. She is leaving the man the house and everything else. At least the money will help keep gas in her car for awhile and food in Maggie’s belly. She will arrange for the income she gets to make its way to her when she decides where to stop. She hurriedly gets in her car, tears streaming down her face, and pulls out of the drive. She stops briefly, looking back, remembering the peace she once found here.

As Serena drives away, amid the devastation she feels is a tiny glimmer of hope. She doesn’t know if she is going north, south, east, or west. But, she thinks maybe something good awaits her at the end of her long road away from what was once home.

 

 

 

The Millennial Generation: Overtaking the Baby Boomers?

The millennial generation is generally defined as that group of individuals in the U.S.  born between 1980 and 2000. We are hearing a lot about the millennials currently, particularly with regard to how they may affect the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and how they are affecting the workplace. My series of articles on the Baby Boom generation, born between 1946 and 1964, would not be complete without drawing some obvious comparisons between that generation and the millennial generation.

  1.  The millennial generation is now the largest generation, in sheer numbers of people. They actually outnumber the huge baby boom generation by about 10 million people, even though their population is increased by immigrants. The Brookings Institute says that by 2020, 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. will be a millennial.
  2. Baby boomers married, in 1970, when the men were about 23.5 yrs of age and women were a little over 20. Millennials marry when men are, on average, 29 and women are 27. Up to 25% of millennials will never marry at all.
  3. Millennials are a more diverse group than baby boomers. Only 57% of millennials are white and 72% of baby boomers are white. Both Hispanic and Asian immigrants have increased the diversity in the U.S.
  4. About 2/3 of millennials ages 25-32 do not have a college degree. Those that do earn almost $20,000 per year more than those with only a high school diploma. It is an impossible comparison in this category with baby boomers since a high school diploma bought much more for them than it does for millennials. You will hear that millennials are over-educated and underemployed. You can see from this statistic that is not necessarily true, though millennials may think it is true. One truth is that, those who sought a higher education, are paying dearly for it in student loan debt.
  5. We often hear about the unemployment rate of the millennials. If the millennials went to college, their unemployment rate is only 3.8%. Without the college degree, it is over 12%. So, if millennials further their education, their unemployment rate is much lower than that of the general population. They are pickier about their jobs than the baby boomers. They will take less money and have a job they enjoy more, unlike the boomers. The baby boomers would work at just about anything in order to survive. Many millennials have had a safety cushion in the form of parents and family to fall back on. That was not necessarily true for the baby boomers.

There is quite a disparity in the characteristics of the baby boomer generation and the millennial generation. The U.S. now has a service economy and we surely need workers for that type of economy. However, with two-thirds of the millennials not having college degrees, this writer wonders who is going to teach our children, do our research and development, be our medical doctors, innovate products, and so many other jobs that need those credentials. Does this mean that we will have to import foreign labor that place a higher value on higher education to do these skilled tasks, such as the Asians? I understand that higher education is expensive and that student loan debt is high. Our politicians must address this if we want our young people to take over our country as the older generations retire. #dailyprompt #writing #blogging #amwriting #millennials #babyboomers

I Write Because……..

People often ask me why I write. Writer friends tell me that is a common question they also get. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I can tell you why I write. Perhaps not all the reasons but some that may make sense to at least a few of my readers.

I write because I’m always writing in my head. All that writing has to go somewhere so it comes out through my fingers on these blog pages, on pages of short stories, on pages of potential novels, onto articles I plan to sell. Why do I write in my head? That I can’t answer. I just know I’ve done that since I was a small child. I would look at an object and write about it in my head. I would watch a scenario play out and do the same. I would dream up short stories and longer stories. Sometimes, as a young person, I would write these musings down. Sometimes not.

I write because it is a creative outlet. I chose an analytical profession. Since my profession involved largely a “left-brain” approach to my work, I suppose my right brain now needs to exercised. I wrote as a college professor but because my field was analytical, so was my writing. It was also the academic style of writing which is very terse and controlled. It doesn’t really qualify, in my opinion, as creative writing. Now that I have retired from my college professorship, I have the freedom and time to do some things I enjoy with the creative side of what’s left of my brain. I’m not a painter, a sculptor, or any other kind of artist. I am a musician — a classical pianist. Beyond this, I am a writer and trying to develop my creative writing abilities as opposed to my academic writing abilities.

I write because it is both an emotional and mental release. Most of what I write never sees the light of day. Some of it does. Some of my writing is a mental exercise involving non-fiction topics I find interesting and that I think my readers will enjoy. I also am enjoying writing some fiction, though that is a new exercise for me. Other writing I do is an emotional exercise. Often to exorcise demons.

Last, but certainly not least, I write to supplement my income. I have been a professional writer since 2000. I write articles, largely in my field of finance and business, for a number of business publications, both offline and online. I am currently expanding my reach and writing about other topics. I market and sell many of the articles I write. This blog serves as a wonderful practice forum.

I write because I love to write. #writing #everydayinspiration

Looking Back, Part 2

Here is a recap of Looking Back, Part 1

Now, Looking Back, Part 2

As Serena sat at her table and cried, she realized she had been through this before. This man had been her husband for 20 years and they had divorced. Then, she had remarried him after 16 years without him and this had caused her to jeopardize everything she had and would have. Once she had looked up marriage statistics and found that with individuals who marry the same partner twice, only two percent have successful marriages. Serena suddenly feels like a statistic after she remembers reading that. She had spent 20 years learning how incompatible they were.

Serena and her husband have now been married five years, second time around. The first year was nice. The man kept the promises he had made to her before they married. Beginning in the second year, all those promises fell to the wayside and the marriage had gotten increasing bad. Now they weren’t even sleeping together and the house was quiet. They didn’t talk. They didn’t communicate at all, which was one of the promises.

She finds herself thinking back five years ago when she talked to the man again after being apart from him for 16 years. He was down on his luck. He was working a fairly blue color job but only part time. He told her that he didn’t want to work full-time ever again. He didn’t make any money to save any money, but that wasn’t the biggest problem he had. He was a heavy drinker and a gambler. He had gambled away most of his retirement portfolio, second-mortgaged the house several times to get cash, and a variety of other issues. He started coming to Serena’s house and she could not turn him away. He was trying to quit drinking and gambling.

Oh, she feels so angry when she thinks of all this! Promising her that he would quit his bad behavior, playing on her sympathies, is what got her into this mess. She remarried him to help him and, to be truthful, because she was lonely and didn’t trust anyone. It was the worst mistake she had ever made. He promised her things would be different than in their first marriage. Things aren’t different at all. In fact, they are worse.

Serena is a gifted painter. She has found her muse again and wants to capture her thoughts and feelings on canvas. The constant uproar in her household and in her head and heart is killing her creativity. She goes to her studio to paint and even though the knows exactly what she wants to do, it isn’t happening at the end of her brush. Anything she painted would be angry. As angry at herself for making such a stupid mistake as angry at him.

He doesn’t want her to paint again. He doesn’t want her to do anything but tend to him. He’s jealous. Jealous of even her painting. Certainly jealous of her friends and family. How can someone be jealous of even inanimate objects like a canvas that stands before her? Maybe she should just let those angry feelings pour our onto that canvas, but she hates for her cherished painting to be dark and angry.

Serena calls the man her soon-to-be ex-husband because that is what he should be. In reality, no divorce action has yet been filed. He was so vicious when they divorced the first time. It frightens her that the same thing will happen this time. The first divorce almost destroyed her. She isn’t as strong now. What will a second divorce do to her? How can she have let herself get to this place? Where does she go from here?

She knows she has to go somewhere from here. Somewhere different. She has to take some action to save herself. But what? That’s what she has to figure out. She doesn’t feel she has much time left. #amwriting #blogging #writing #shortfiction #fiction #dailyprompt

Looking Back

Serena was shaking all over. She had just had another encounter with her soon-to-be ex-husband and it wasn’t pleasant. Of course, it never was. She sat at her kitchen table, trying to calm herself. It wasn’t working very well. He had burst into her home, his intent to take her jewelry. Serena had inherited the jewelry from a family member. It was not his. But, in a divorce, everything was up for grabs. She managed to keep him from taking it.

She made herself a cup of tea and went back to the table, hoping the effects of the calming tea would help her. As she sipped her tea, her thoughts slipped back to her youth. They married when they were both 19 years old. She had thought she was so wise and he was just what she wanted. He was kind and she was not used to kind. She had a steady boyfriend in high school and a couple of other brief relationships but those men did not fit the description of “kind.” When he was kind to her, she fell hard for him, even though there were so many other factors she should have considered. She considered none. She was too young and too inexperienced. No one had ever taught her what to look for in a potential husband.

Much too late, Serena’s parents tried to talk her out of the marriage but all she could think of was that he was kind. Things were peaceful between them and Serena was not used to a peaceful environment. She had grown up in a chaotic home. Kind and peaceful drew her in like a moth to a flame.

Of course, Serena could not know that he would become less than kind as they grew older because of other characteristics he had. Nor could she know that their environment would become as chaotic as the one she grew up in because of those same characteristics. We tend to seek youth all of our lives. But when we are young, we don’t have enough wisdom to always make good decisions.

Perhaps Serena could have seen the future if she had listened to her parents. They tried to tell her that their backgrounds were too different, their education differences too wide, their attitudes toward work too diverse. But, Serena, being a young, romantic girl, thought of nothing but what she defined as love. So they married.

As Serena sits at her kitchen table, musing about the state of her relationship with this man, it is 41 years later. Her parents are, of course, gone now. If they were still here, she can hear them saying, “I told you so.” As soft tears run down her face, she wonders what to do next. #fiction #shortfiction #dailyprompt