Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lessons about Worrying!

When I was growing up, hanging in our house, was a small wooden plaque called The Irishman's Philosophy. I read it so many times that I knew it by heart. It made a lot of sense to me at the time. At the time, when I had nothing to worry about, anyway.

And then along came the adult years. You all know the ones I mean. When we have things to worry about. Like will there be enough money for all the bills and for the food we need? Will the kids stay healthy? What if they don't? What if one of them dies? What happens if I lose my job? Or my husband loses his job? Or if he cheats on me? Or gambles and loses all of our money? Or if I divorce him?  What happens if my baby dies? How will we afford to bury her? Will I want to have another baby? What happens if there just isn't enough money? What happens if I can't find another job that will allow me to raise my kids? What if I go to school? What if I flunk out? Or what happens if I don't get accepted into nursing school? What will people think? What happens if my kids fail? What happens when they get mixed up in drugs? Or have to go to jail? Or have messed up marriages of their own? What happens if they pick dangerous careers? Ones where criminals are always trying to beat them at their game? What happens if my son can't take care of his kids? Will I be able to? What happens when my husband gets sick? Why does he cough like that? Why has his color changed? Is he dying? Will I be able to make it on my own after he is gone? How will I be able to afford to live? What is going on with the grandson? Does he make good choices? What about the granddaughter? Does she have good friends? Will they be okay? What if they don't have enough to eat? What happens if the genetics of addiction wins out? Can you see how my mind goes on and on and on? Why do I worry? How do I stop?

From Pinterest
Do you see what I mean? It's about worrying. We all do it. I can't tell you how many times, late at night, when my teenage boys were late coming home, I planned their funerals. I know it sounds bad. But I did. I worried about them. I worry about them still and they are fully gown adults. I worry about the decisions they make. I worry about the chosen careers and the safety on the streets. I worry if they are happy. I worry if they are doing okay. I worry if they are worrying. I worry about EVERYTHING. And I am not good at giving advice about not worrying. So I won't. Because it is not a lesson that I have yet learned. I know how to worry. I just don't know how to stop.

How about you? Are you a worrier? Do you know how to stop? Is it just a part of life?

Come back later for a chance to win a nice prize when I give my very first, ever product review. I promise you it will be worth paying me a second visit!! Stay tuned

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Eureka Street A Novel of Ireland Like No Other

Overview from Barnes and Noble

When your street address can either save your life or send it up the creek, there’s no telling what kind of daily challenges you’ll face in the era of the Northern Irish Troubles.
“All stories are love stories,” begins Eureka Street, Robert McLiam Wilson’s big-hearted and achingly funny novel. Set in Belfast during the Troubles, Eureka Street takes us into the lives and families of Chuckie Lurgan and Jake Jackson, a Protestant and a Catholic—unlikely pals and staunch allies in an uneasy time. When a new work of graffiti begins to show up throughout the city—“OTG”—the locals are stumped. The harder they try to decipher it, the more it reflects the passions and paranoias that govern and divide them.
Chuckie and Jake are as mystified as everyone else. In the meantime, they try to carve out lives for themselves in the battlefield they call home. Chuckie falls in love with an American who is living in Belfast to escape the violence in her own land; the best Jake can do is to get into a hilarious and remorseless war of insults with a beautiful but spitfire Republican whose Irish name, properly pronounced, sounds to him like someone choking.
The real love story in Eureka Street involves Belfast—the city’s soul and spirit, and its will to survive the worst it can do to itself.

I was more than a few chapters into this novel before I decided that I was going to like it. One of the first things I have to get out of the way here is that authors who write with so many words that I have never heard (and I have to keep stopping to look them up) tend to leave me wanting to put the book down and not pick it up again.

I'm glad I didn't do that with Eureka Streets. But I was tempted. I don't know if that is just 'his style' or if I just don't know that many words. But I persevered and in the end I liked the book.

Eureka Street takes place in Northern Ireland. Belfast, in fact. During the time they called 'The Troubles'. It is a time of political and sectarian feuding among paramilitary thugs. It takes place shortly before and shortly after the ceasefires by the IRA.

The book is centered around the lives of two friends: Jake and Chuckie who are Catholic and Protestant but seem to be united because neither of them are unable to form grown-up relationships.

Eureka Street is the name of the street Chuckie lives on. Poetry Street is where Jake lives. The first half of the book is spent reading about the lives of these two and their friends. The author uses humor well in the developing of his characters. Chuckie is a fat, thirty year old who has mostly wasted his life and still lives with his mother. He concocts a pretty ridiculous 'get rich' scheme that makes him wealthy. He falls in love with a beautiful American girl who leaves him and returns to America. He is heartbroken and goes after her.

Jake is a reformed thug who lives alone with his cat and seeks to find love. He is the narrator of the story that begins with:

All Stories are Love Stories!
Half-way through the book is a chapter that changes the story. There is a very graphic bomb scene and the lives of all the character changes.
The novel wraps up in ways that are to be expected. I found it a nice look into Ireland and some of their people's ways. I was forced to go to the Internet and learn a bit more about Ireland and their "Troubles".
Thank you to my friend Kwizgiver, not only for the recommendation, but for the Lend Me with our Nooks. 

Learning that Vacations are Necessary

Life Lessons: A to Z Challenge

It is not only fun to take vacations, they are necessary to our physical and mental health. It really is true "that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Your brain needs to take a rest to reduce stress and  carelessness. It helps keep you from making poor decisions. It gives you time to think. And to ponder. Don't you love it when you have time to ponder? Sometimes only a few hours vacation can bring you some increase in your brains ability to function better. So take a small vacation when needed.

Big vacations, to me, are the best. And my Richard was great at planning big vacations. Sometimes he would forget to allow time in the plans for just relaxing. But that is why I was around. To remind him. To drag him out by the pool, to sit in a chair, with his feet up and a cold beer in hand and watch us swim.
He wasn't much for getting into the pool. But I loved having him at poolside. I could hang on the side and chat with him. While I basked in the sun he stayed under the umbrella. The sun and Richard never got along. His ginger-coloring prevented that!

When the boys were young we went to the family cabin in Colorado in the summers. This cabin did not have indoor plumbing. No running water. The cook stove was operated by wood. The water came from the streams. And the toilet was out back. Yuck. Not my idea of a vacation. But Richard and the boys loved these trips. So, every other year, we went to Colorado. And the next year we went where mama wanted to go. Now these were the good times. We traveled all over the United States. There were trips to Yellowstone, the Smokey Mountains, Florida, the Grand Canyon. All the touristy places! Those were some of Richard's favorites.

My favorite vacations included the beach
In our later years, after the boys had left home, we became cruisers. At first Richard didn't want to cruise. But once I convinced him then that was the only way to take a vacation. And we went on several. Some were just for 7 days and some were much longer. I could live on a cruise ship. And so could have Richard. Lots of good memories of cruises. When we cruised we usually went with other couples. That is why it was so much fun! We loved the cruises that required dressing for dinner. Tuxes, white dinner jackets, long gowns and jewels. Such an elegant way to dine.

Vacations are important. You have to rest the mind and the body. They can be cheap or they can be expensive. They can be far from home or they can be in the backyard. I am glad that I learned this lesson. And I had the best of teachers....thank you Richard!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Learning that Into Each Life the Rain Must Fall/Umbrellas are Urgent

Life's Lessons: A to Z Blogging Challenge

The Rainy Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The day is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; The vine still clings to the mouldering wall, But at every gust the dead leaves fall, And the day is dark and dreary.

 My life is cold, and dark, and dreary; It rains, and the wind is never weary; My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past, But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast, And the days are dark and dreary.

 Be still, sad heart! and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining; Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
My favorite line in this poem is: "into each life some rain must fall." Isn't that the darn truth. Without rain the grass wouldn't be green, the flowers wouldn't bloom, the rivers and lakes and oceans would all dry up. So we have to have rain. As much as I don't like it..."into each life some rain must fall."

Artist Charles Twelvetrees
a great American Painter

Since we know that the rain must fall then we know that we must be prepared. I don't like getting wet. Do you? Not wet from rain. So I have to be prepared with an umbrella. I have umbrellas everywhere. In my car. In my purse. In the entryway. In the hall closet. One is always in my suitcase so when I pack to go away it is always there. I used to insist the kids have one in their backpacks but I don't anymore. They don't mind getting wet. So let them. But I am always prepared with an umbrella. One of those life's lessons I have learned and it is a habit. Don't leave home without your umbrella!!

And we always need to remember we have to put up with the rain if we want to see the rainbows. Dolly is such a wise, wise woman.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Lesson of Tobacco is Addictive!!

Life's Lessons: A to Z Blogging Challenge

Way back in 1999 I decided that I was going to quit smoking. Actually, if I am telling the honest truth here, I didn't want to quit smoking. But Richard and I were going on a 32-day vacation with other people and I was the only one in the crowd who still smoked. I didn't want to be the only one leaving to go out in  the open-air to smoke! So, along with my best friend, we decided to quit.

First I chose my "quit" date. November 1, 1999. That is the day that we decided we would no longer smoke. Then I made a plan. I followed the plan no matter how hard it was. And it was hard!!

We had just bought a brand new car in July 1999 so the first step in my plan was not to smoke in this car. And I didn't allow anyone else to smoke in it!

The second step in my plan was to quit buying my cigarettes by the carton. Well, actually it was to get Richard to quit buying me my cigarettes by the carton. He had quit smoking
15 years prior to me but he still was the one who stopped at the Smoke Shack, on his way home from work, to buy my cigarettes. I never bought my own cigarettes. 

Next, I went to see my doctor. I told him my plan and I asked if he would prescribe Zyban and Nicotine patches for me. Of course he was more than happy to do that. Zyban is a drug especially formulated to help people quit smoking. It also comes with a full "Quit Smoking" plan and support group. Many people use Wellbutrin, which is the same drug but without the support. Zyban works by reducing the cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

Continuing on with my preparations for the final date: I walked our backyard and picked up and 'field-stripped' every cigarette butt that I found. And believe me when I tell you that during some of those first days I wouldn't have had a problem going outside in search of an old cigarette butt. So I am glad I did this. I also started to make myself walk around the block every time I wanted to smoke a cigarette. I was determined to not gain the notorious 40 pounds after one quits smoking. This was one of the smartest things I could have done. Because (in the beginning) I did not gain any weight.

Finally, November 1, 1999 arrived. I had to work the night of October 31. After I arrived at the hospital and before I headed in for my last shift I smoked my 'last' cigarette.

Now the real hard work started. I am not going to tell you that I didn't backslide. Because I did! More than once. One night, on a night off work, while at home, I wanted a cigarette so bad that I literally thought I would die if I didn't get one. So, I grabbed a couple of dollars and headed down to our local Kwick Shop. It was the middle of the night. I asked the clerk for a pack of Salem Slim Lights and I slid my couple of bucks across the counter. The guy looked at me and said, "It's been awhile since you bought cigarettes, hasn't it?" I needed two more dollars. What????? When the heck did smoking get so expensive???? If you think that stopped me you would be wrong. I went home for more money and returned for the cigarettes. Sad, I know! But I really liked smoking. 

 One early morning, at work, when I had not smoked a single puff for almost a month , one of the day-shift nurses came on duty. The first thing I noticed about her was how she smelled like a dirty ashtray. It was that realization (and probably that alone)that has kept me from ever smoking again. I cannot believe that I used to smell like that. It's funny that when you are the one who is smoking you don't smell it!

It was a horrible, tortuous, long road to becoming a non-smoker. My oldest son once told me that quitting his drug habit was easier than quitting smoking. It is so sad that it is that addictive. I think those who have never smoked just don't have any idea.

I used my Zyban and Nicotine patches religiously. I can remember beginning to panic when I would get low on either of those. It was like smoking. But with both there is a step-down process that will wean you off the drugs.

During those months of quitting the thing that I missed the most was the 'hand to mouth' habit of smoking. So I 'smoked' tootsie rolls. The skinny ones that are shaped like a cigarette! And I cut straws into cigarette length and 'smoked' those. They became my crutch for the cigarette that I missed so much. I'm sure I looked stupid as heck. But I didn't care.

I have been free of cigarettes for more than 15 years now. I gained around 30 pounds from that. (I Gained more during my recent caregiving stint)! I haven't noticed that I have more money, but I know that I do. Especially with cigarettes now more than $6.00 a pack here. People told me that I would be able to breathe better. I don't!( But that might be because of all the fat I now have around my lungs) People told me I would be able to taste food better. I don't! But I do know that I SMELL BETTER. My house smells better. My clothes smell better. My grandkids smell better. For that alone I am thankful!. I'm still just as crazy! I just don't smoke.

Tell me....did you ever smoke? How hard was it for you to quit? Share with us, please.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lessons on Shoes and Showers

Lessons on Life: A to Z Blogging Challenge

I have learned a lot of lessons in my lifetime. Some of them stick and some have not. Some I have learned the hard way. And some come much easier. But there has not been a lesson more important than the one I have learned about shoes!

I have horrible feet. I developed bunions early in my life. And I was born with an extra ankle bone. Weird, huh? (I had surgery on both the bunions and removal of the extra ankle bones about 25 years go). I wore lots of hand-me-down shoes in my lifetime. And when mom bought me a brand new pair of shoes, ones of my very own,I was expected to wear them for a year. Money was tight. We only got new shoes just before school started each year. So I often wore shoes that were too small for my feet. Hence, the development of bunions. And, in later years a hammertoe. Unsightly and very uncomfortable.

When I graduated from business school, after high school, I worked in a business office downtown. This was back in the early 1970's. Women wore dresses. Almost always. Never pants. So I wore dresses and heels to work everyday. Heels! I hated them. I am 5'10" tall and even the smallest heel made me taller than almost everyone. I hated it. But I hated more shoving my foot into those horrible pointed toe high heels. Some women wear them so well. Not me. I felt like I was clomping around like a horse.

Then I went to nursing school and nurses wear much more sensible shoes. I bought my first pair of Birkenstocks. Expensive but oh my the comfort of these shoes. Later on I started to wear Crocs. They were a lot like the Birkenstocks in style and comfort. But they were so much cheaper. And they washed up with soap and water and I never bought white polish again. But, sadly, the nursing home where I worked put them on the 'NO-NO' list and I had to stop wearing them.

Now, I live in my crocs. If I have to dress up and wear a different kind of shoe it is usually a loafer. I don't wear dresses anymore, so a loafer goes with slacks. And I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER  wear another pair of heels. Never! Get it?

Now about the shower. I love to sing. I don't really have a singing voice. But I sing in the shower. So do both of my grandkids. I have music loaded on my phone. Connected to my PopRock speaker, via Bluetooth, the music blares, loudly, everyday in the bathroom at this house. I bought mine at QVC (click the link). They are simple to use and they are waterproof. Check them out. Maybe you need a PopRock!

What is your thought on shoes and singing in the shower. Are you a crooner? Do you wear heels or opt for comfort?

Lessons on Having a Room of my Own

Lessons from Life: A to Z Blogging Challenge

Almost all of the years Richard and I spent together I worked either the evening shift or the night shift. 25 years on what is known as the 'graveyard shift' (although nurses don't like to call it that) and 5 years working 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. After my sons left home I began to entertain the idea of having a room of my own. We had transformed one of the boy's bedrooms into an office for Richard. Very masculine with a golf motif. He spent many hours in that room after he retired. It was his room. We had a big bedroom that we 'shared'. Well, sharing it would mean he slept there at night and I slept there in the daytime. And when we slept together we both admitted it wasn't very comfortable.

If you have spent anytime with a person who works the 'graveyard' shift you would know that even when we are not working we are generally not sleeping. We developed many different sleeping styles over our years together. He liked a quiet, dimly lit, room with the drapes open and the moon shining in. He liked the electric blanket turned on. He read for minutes before he fell asleep. He liked to set his alarm for 15 minutes before he needed to get up and then hit the snooze alarm 3 times. He turned the lights on when he got up and made a bit of noise in the attached bathroom. He liked to turn the radio on and listen to the news as he showered and shaved and took care of his ADL's.

If I was home from work and sleeping with him I liked the drapes closed. The windows cracked open. The fan on. Only a sheet. The TV on. Or a radio. I read. Often late into the night. I liked to eat and drink in bed. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to take that darn alarm clock and hit him up beside the head with it. I silently screamed at him to keep the lights off and shut the door. Probably I was just getting to sleep as he was getting up. He always told me that my reading, with the lamp on, didn't bother him. But I know it did. I could tell by the way he tossed and turned. We just didn't sleep well together.

So I began to dream about turning the other boy's bedroom into my bedroom. But first I had to convince Richard. I didn't want him to think it had anything to do with me loving him less. He wanted me next to him on my nights off. And I didn't mind that. Finally I convinced him that it had NOTHING to do with sex!! It had to do with us both having our own space. Sorry if this is too much info. It is what it is.

I turned the bedroom into the girly bedroom I had never had. I painted the walls in cool light green with deep, dark green trim. I bought a beautiful wrought iron day bed. I covered it with a flowery quilt, a ruffley bed skirt, and piles and piles of pillows. Most men, if being honest, hate all those pillows. I loved them. The room was full of pictures of my kids and my grandkids and pictures of Richard and me. I laid out all my mementos from our travels. Delicate vases and dishes. Richard made a desk for me that fit perfectly into the little nook in front of the window. I hung flowery sheers and pale green drapes. I had a beautiful delicate wicker chair. I bought myself a TV. And I OWNED the remote. I placed some of my prized dolls throughout the room. Above my bed hung my favorite picture of the beach.
look really close and see Harley's reflection

When the grandkids would stay over, we slid out the trundle bed and they got to sleep with granny. Often we would make up stories about granny's chair on the beach. And we dreamed of the day I could take them there. Darian was always so worried about me leaving my scarf. He was sure it wouldn't be there when we went there to get it. Oh, the memories.

Sadly, I gave my room up to Harley when the kids came to live with us. I packed away the dolls, the pictures, the mementos of vacations past and turned the room into hers. And Richard gave up his office to Darain.

But I had many, many enjoyable hours reading, watching TV, sleeping, napping. Listening to music. Writing in my journals. In My OWN Room. I think every woman, everywhere, should have a room of her own.

I will that Richard is gone. I just have not yet made our room into my room. That day will come.

Do you have a room of your own? Maybe not a bedroom, but a craft room. Or a reading nook. Or a place that is just for you. Do you think that is important?