in with the new: separate fact from opinion

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Wrote this for my inspirational site.

some rain, some shine

It seems I’ve reached “that age” where I question choices I’ve made and look critically at where I am in many areas of my life.

Wait, that sounds a lot like my previous ages, too. Anyway!

To fight against these negative tendencies, I read articles about cultivating a positive attitude, and one tip recently stood out to me as particularly helpful: separate fact from opinion. They gave an example of not separating the two: “Of course I didn’t get the job. I acted so dumb in the interview!” That fact is that I didn’t get the job. The other is opinion, nothing more than me making assumptions.

Hearing it explained that way, I realized that confusing fact with opinion is something that often stresses me out, particularly when I consider one of my minor health issues; I start to focus on a recurring ache, and in my mind the situation…

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a year in review – 2015

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1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
tried hot tea with cream, got caught in a termite cloud, had a tooth “crowned,” developed stopped-up ears during a cold

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2015, I said that I didn’t “want my focus – my world – to be my problems.” Sadly, I let them be my world way too often. Also, I wanted to dwell on the truth that “God’s plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day;” I made it ’til maybe March then moved on to other truths as the year progressed.
For 2016, in light of my lesson learned (see #39) I will try to bloom where planted. Hopefully in ways that don’t feel like settling and giving up my dreams.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No – thankfully!

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2016, that would be awesome.

7. What date or event from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
learning that my personal data was stolen in one of the umpteen recent computer/network security breaches

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
getting some medical checks that I’ve been putting off

9. What was your biggest failure?
continuing to take setbacks too hard

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I did indeed, and at the same time! In mid-November, I told my dentist about my slight pain in chewing, and he found a crack in a molar. Two weeks later I went to get a temporary crown, and the following week I developed the worst cold/sinus/crud (plague?) that I’ve had in years. Four weeks since it started as I write this, and it’s much improved but it still lingers.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A shopping basket. I frequent Aldi grocery store, where they don’t give bags, plus the Walmarts in this area never have baskets available.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mother’s and my sister’s. We have our rough moments, but we always hang in there. I’m ashamed to say it took someone else giving me a glimpse of the way it could be to make me appreciate what I’ve got.
Runner-up: The electrical contractor at work who told me, “You look nice today.” No one ever tells me that, certainly not attractive, buff guys: Mister, you made my year!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My boss’s. To say the least, he often shows a lack of respect.

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
my time away from work (see #13)

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
“Colder Weather” by the Zac Brown Band. When it looked as if getting a house was going to happen, the “can’t wait” lines in the song made me positively giddy. When that dream crashed, I was back in the “winter season” where I’ve been for quite a while… “stuck in colder weather” as the song says.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? sadder
Older or wiser? older
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
laughed

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
had to fight the same battles, namely having to repeatedly call contractors, repairmen, and others – for both work and home – to ask when they will do what they’ve repeatedly said they will

20. Did your heart break?
Yes, when I tried to achieve my dream of owning a home only to find it painfully out of reach.

21. How did you spend Christmas?
My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our low-frills video camera. I took pictures of our unwrapped gifts, and we cleaned up. We had a light, early lunch and headed over to spend the afternoon with my cousin and his family. I drove back – and there, for that matter – in the pouring rain. (Hello, tropically wet and warm Christmas!) Mom and I finished the day watching Sleepless in Seattle.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I’ll be holding down the fort at work along with the 2 or 3 other people who are not on vacation. Later at home, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any current programs, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include three “classics” that I’d never seen:
The Rockford Files, Hart to Hart, and Felicity.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
cornbread salad

25. What was the best book you read?
IIRC, this year I only read Christian periodicals; most of my reading time was spent on the computer, usually working out an inspiration I’m having for a certain website project.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The local jazz radio station, Clint Black’s greatest hits CD (5 bucks at Big Lots!), and several great songs from the free offerings at Amazon.com, including “Not Coming By” by Emma Lee

27. What did you want and get?
I’m closing in on a decent way to wear my hair. The mileage varies at this point, but there is a thread of consistency, so I’m encouraged.

28. What did you want and not get?
My own home. I attempted to go forward with this long-time dream by consulting with a builder and a bank; it seemed as if it was going to happen, but it didn’t. I was heartbroken for quite a while, but I’ve come to accept that this simply wasn’t the right time.

29. What was your favorite film?
Films Seen This Year and Really Liked: Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mission Impossible 5

30. What did you do on your birthday?
Took the day off of work – my gift to myself. (Seriously.) Checked Facebook and thanked the well-wishers. Watched a few videos on-line. Made lunch. Enjoyed the delicious chocolate cobbler that my mother made. Shopped a little and took some pictures for a project I was working on. Moved my comfy desk chair so that I can watch TV in it.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If certain people hadn’t seemed so determined to hone in on the worst in me. (News flash, “certain people,” if you look for the worst – in anything – you *will* find it… as will I. The challenge for us is to work past that and find common ground.)

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Inspired by my recent advances in styling my hair, I’ve been pairing my jeans with nicer tops for work. Maybe a slightly better outfit will boost my okay hair to slightly-better-than-okay…?

33. What kept you sane?
Faith. I admit, I continue to struggle to live it out. But as Peter said to Jesus, “Where else can we go?” So, I press on. And I continue to find that the struggle is worth it!

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
The closest would be, while watching The Rockford Files, I study Jim Rockford and drool, “Sakes alive, a MAN!”

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
As I heard it said a few weeks ago, “Football playoffs *and* an election year? It’s almost enough to make you quit Facebook.”

36. Who did you miss?
my former boss

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Sateria, the cleaning lady at work, who is so personable and a hard worker
My cousin’s neighbor also stands out because of her exceptional conversational skills. She contributed to the discussions without monopolizing them and – what really impressed me – recognized when others were being left out and tried to include them.

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
My previous boss retired in January, and we moved to a new office in February.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
“The comparison game is a losing proposition. God has something for you, but you’re never going to find it in someone else’s backyard.” (heard on the Carlos and Joy radio program, WAY-FM) It’s becoming clear to me that I also won’t find it in my fantasies, or in the way I think things should be.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Your world’s not fallin’ apart: it’s fallin’ into place.” “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns

those things I do, 2015 edition

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Has it really been four years since I’ve written one of these? Hmm, I seem to recall passing thoughts of such a post each of the past three years, but more pressing to do’s got in the way. Truth be known, I probably wouldn’t have done this one had I not been on vacation from work this past week. Anyway! Here are some of the things occupying my time.

* enduring changing conditions at work. In January, the boss I’ve had for the 2.5 years at my current company retired. His former second-in-command took the reigns, and for several months, it was the nightmare I had feared. To say the least, the new boss is a micromanager, and his default state of impatiently oozing with sarcasm was only made worse by his promotion. I was to the point where I was regularly checking the job listings, because to think of staying indefinitely with that man in that highly negative environment was too much to bear. But I found out in September that our contract was only renewed until March of next year. Although the higher-ups express confidence that we’ll get another renewal, I’m not counting on that. In any case, I decided that – as things have calmed down a bit – I’ll at least try to make it through the end of this year. Can’t quit before I get all of my vacation and holidays, right?😉

* mentally projecting myself elsewhere. From a recent letter to my friend Michele: “Thank you, thank you, thank! you! for the b-day graphic with Tom Hiddleston. If seeing the trailer for the movie you mentioned reminded me of him, the suggestion of running away to Bali with him has (happily!) planted him front and center in my thoughts. Plus it has been giving me much-needed mental escapes since I first saw the b-day graphic. Back at work on the second, I was so inspired that I did a Bali image search and changed my work computer background to support my daydreams. I imagine myself standing on that balcony, in that beautiful, exotic, romantic place. I’m looking out at the scenery; he’s standing behind me with his arms wrapped around me, and I feel so protected, and relieved that he’s taken me away from all the stress and bad mojo at work. :sighs dreamily:”

* chewing carefully. I’ve been having sporadic pain in one of my molars when I chew a certain way. During my dental cleaning earlier this month, I mentioned this pain, and in his inspection, the dentist spied a crack under the filling. Last week I went for a temporary crown, with plans to go back for the permanent in a couple of weeks.

* reading carefully and carefully considering my diet. I’m still dealing with the eye symptoms that started back in November of 2013. It (eye strain?) tends to flare up after long sessions of reading/computer time, and so I’ve continued pacing myself, taking breaks and cutting out “extra” reading. My side (gall bladder?) issues have also continued, but have also been pretty mild, and I like to think it’s because I’ve made a concerted effort to eat as nutritiously as possible… well, as is possible without spending a fortune of $$ or an excessive amount of time researching and planning exactly what “nutritious” means.

* making sure Aldi gives me the sale price. I’ve been going to the Aldi grocery store near work almost every week for well over a year. I’ve been loving their low prices, but recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in which the additional markdowns noted on the shelf don’t make it into the cash register. My response is to hold such items to the end of my order, and as the cashier reaches for it, I quiz, “Are these the ones that are (insert sale price here)??”

* desperately seeking new music. This time last year, the 80’s and 90’s music radio station that I’ve enjoyed for several years started to play Christmas music full time. Alas, when that ended, they changed their format to country music. My sister defaulted the living room radio back to the repeat-o-songs station we had previously, but their non-variety has irked me more than it did before. I guess, having heard some actual variety, I’m not ready to give it up. So I’ve been exploring other options. I’ve downloaded quite a bit of the free music Amazon has to offer, plus I discovered that we have a local jazz station. (Jazz is SO calming on my way into work. :big smile: )

* possibly closing in on a decent way to wear my hair. Years ago, I worked with a lady who shared that she would be going the next day to a hair appointment. With delight, she declared that she would then be “lookin’ decent.” That phrasing struck a chord with me: it sounded humble and yet attainable, although for me, the quest remains. But I refused to accept that the only styling option for my latest lackluster ‘do was a helmet-y mom bob, and I ventured to try some techniques that were brand new to me. And at least twice I have *loved* the results. Unfortunately, the aforementioned techniques involve a lot of dumb luck, and now the challenge has become replicating a love-able (read “decent”) look. Fortunately, I have a picture! I will call in professional help if I need to. And if my attempts in the mean time look a bit weird, I shrug happily that I like it better than my previous Bowl Head, and I put my hand on my hip, hold my head up, and carry on as if I meant for it to look this way. (For you Buffy fans, as a confidence-booster, I tell myself, “I wear the hair: it does not wear me.”😄 )

* tried in vain to build a dream. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly on this blog, my long-time dream is to build my own home. Earlier this year, I took the first steps by talking to a builder and a bank, but I ran into a brick wall, and I’m sad to report that it wasn’t the one that I envision as a focal wall in the sitting area by the new kitchen. I was bummed out… devastated, actually … about it for quite a while, until I accepted that this simply wasn’t the right time. In retrospect, I realized that to continue the way it had been going would have meant settling. I definitely need to think more about what I want, and now I can do so more intelligently, with what I learned in this initial effort.

* waiting on people to do what they say they will. (Grr!) Before Memorial Day, we noticed that our roof was leaking by the chimney. A lot. (No doubt due to the fact that, while in the attic, you could look up next to the chimney and see daylight.) I contacted the roofer. Six to eight weeks later, a guy shows up and works on it. Still leaking! I texted the roofer again – as this seems to be the only way to get through to him – and he immediately responded with apologies… and then weeks went by with no word. I finally texted again. In early November, the guy finally came out again, and his patch job seemed to have worked… until my Mom just reported that she sees another leak. :pulls hair out:

* finally(!) getting back to website work. Much of my free time has been spent working on the new layout for my so-called personal site. I didn’t realize how much I had missed my website hobby, but I’m so glad to be back at it, even if I must do so gradually to avoid aggravating the eye issues mentioned earlier in this post. Actually, having to take my time on it has turned out to be a blessing, too, because it’s giving me a chance to consider my options for each step. Hopefully, if this continues, whenever I do finish it, I know it won’t be perfect, but I can feel as if the final project is complete, the result of a good effort.

unfortunately, that *is* my hair

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I wrote this a few haircuts ago.

I went for a haircut earlier this week. The stylist asks if I want the usual, and I said yes. However, as I left, I checked out my reflection and was chagrined to discover that my so-called usual is a bowl-ish Gidget ‘do.😦

As I turned on the car, I’d left the radio on a country station, and “That Ain’t My Truck” by Rhett Akins was playing… at the part where he sings, “This don’t look good at all.” Good thing I don’t believe in omens!

movie review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

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I finally saw “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” and – as is often the case with the superhero flicks – I felt compelled to jot down my thoughts…

TV Toaster

* I miss Loki. I guess the guy can’t be in every movie… then again, why not? (As Paul McCartney would say, “What’s wrong with that, I’d like to know.”) I think his absence is what made seeing this film more of an “I’ll get to it sometime” rather than “I’m SO there on opening weekend!”

* While I liked this movie, others have raised the bar pretty high for me, so I’d place A2 way down on the list when ranking my favorite Marvel offerings. After the first Avengers, the early 2000s Spiderman 2 and 1, the year 2000 X-men, the two Thors, Iron Man 1 and 2, the two Captain Americas… So far, A2 ranks somewhere above Iron Man 3 and the two original X-men sequels.

* I intensely disliked the preachy Ultron. An article I read after the first Avengers expressed the theory that, while Loki is…

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a year in review – 2014

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1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
ate poached fish, attended an ash scattering, battled an infestation of pantry moths, been dining at a restaurant where our waitress quit, bought coffee beans and had them ground, had cake for breakfast, put audio books on my mp3 player, saw a movie at Carmike Valley Bend Theatre, touched a meteorite, tried computer glasses, was rear-ended in traffic

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2014, I wanted to continue to make nutritious food choices and read the Old Testament.
For 2015, I plan to work on #19 and #39 below, and to dwell on the truth: “God’s plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day.”

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. My aunt passed away in May.

5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I’ve visited before

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2015, that would be awesome.

7. What date or event from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
One of my co-workers was retiring, and I collected money to compile a “retirement survival kit.” He was planning to travel, so I selected items such as a road atlas, car care kit, travel pillow, etc. Anyway, in my head I added up the cost of each item, loosely allowing for tax. When I got to the register to pay, I had $62 to spend – and the total was $61.99!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
In June, I began an almost weekly effort to de-clutter both in real life and in my computer files, and I’d say it has been a success, although there’s still work to be done.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Twice I had what I’ll call “a catastrophic failure of imagination.”

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes! I suffered from eye strain most of the year. My mysterious right side pain had several flare-ups, including the worst one yet that started last month and branched out into a host of other aches and weirdness that lingers still; as ever, the doctor couldn’t find anything. I also had an extreme case of vertigo – and several minor ones – back in March.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
the Bible on CD
Runner-up: a large bubba (brand) mug on clearance, to hold my coffee

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Three different neighbors who went above and beyond in being good neighbors

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A certain co-worker’s. Sometimes this guy is really nice… but more often he seems argumentative in what should be a casual exchange. Plus, he’ll be right next to my desk and invite others to lunch, and yet he doesn’t invite me, even to the Happy Retirement lunch for my favorite ex-employee – and I know Appalling Co-worker knew I wanted to go.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Probably to #15.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Taking the first “real” steps toward getting my own home – and planning to take even more next year!

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles, because I finally worked up the courage to tell Jeff how I (don’t) feel.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? this year has been a roller-coaster of emotion
Older or wiser? definitely older, thanks to my “ailments”
Thinner or fatter? About the same
Richer or poorer? About the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
felt better!

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
freaked out over not feeling better

20. Did your heart break?
Yes. I cried for a week when one of our cats was crippled by a car.

21. How did you spend Christmas?
My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine, after I set up our low-frills video camera. (It seems that the sound worked (for a change), so no “silent night” this year!) I fixed lunch and, later, supper, and took pictures of our gifts. I checked out Facebook and worked on a few small computer projects, including these Year End Questions. I had two cups of hot tea and an OJ/yogurt “smoothie,” plus one piece of dark Ghirardelli chocolate with caramel. I also used a pretty notebook I received last year to start a “prayer journal” for collecting musings from devotionals, sermons, Bible verses, etc.

22. How will you spend New Year’s Eve?
I’ll be holding down the fort at work along with the 2 or 3 other people who are not on vacation. Later at home, the fam and I will probably watch some DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping.

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any current programs, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include two “classics” that I’d never seen: Joan of Arcadia and thirtysomething.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Key Lime flavored frozen Greek yogurt, homemade dark chocolate ice cream, roasted red pepper tapenade, roasted okra, baked pears, corn chex cereal with almond slivers

25. What was the best book you read?
I cut way back on reading because of recurring eye strain. But I purchased the entire Bible on CDs, and I’ve been listening my way through the Old Testament. (Currently, I’m in Judges.)

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
LOTS of happy musical discoveries this year, because of frequenting new-to-me radio stations. Three songs that immediately come to mind are “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and “Smile” by Kirk Franklin.

27. What did you want and get?
My sister got a better job.

28. What did you want and not get?
For my doctor to do more than a cursory check when I went last month with a new ailment cluster that I find disturbing.

29. What was your favorite film?
Films Seen This Year and Really Liked: Captain America: Winter Soldier and Home Fries

30. What did you do on your birthday?
I took the day off of work. I purchased some mp3s and checked Facebook. I made lunch including a new recipe: Pineapple Pudding Cake. (LOVE IT!) My sister was off from work, too, so we went with my mother to a nearby city where we revisited the mall where we used to back-to-school shop and a small museum that we hadn’t been to since the 1980s. I took some pictures to commemorate the day. Later, I walked around in the yard, enjoying the beautiful sunny day and unseasonable warmness. Plus, I had earlier decided that my birthday was a good day to launch a “serious” inquiry into building a home, and so I called a bank to ask some questions.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If the people I’m around the most would join in my effort – at times, yes, struggle – to be positive. Failing that, if they could just silence the rampant NEGativity…!

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Largely unchanged: casual, with many days of wearing jeans… and continuing in my perpetual quest to style my hair in a way that doesn’t make me want to cry

33. What kept you sane?
This year has been a challenge. I’m learning what it means to “wait (trust, hope) in the Lord and find new strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
No one, really. I was too distracted by real life.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Again this year, the fiasco that is Obamacare. My sister attempted to sign up back in January, only to discover that her “affordable” coverage would cost one-third(!) of her meager income. Needless to say, that price made insurance out of the question, and she joined the increasing number of people opting to pay the penalty, aka “the tax on being alive.”

36. Who did you miss?
The two ladies from my previous job. There’s no one at my current job that I can relate to.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
No one stands out.

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Jeff and I decided to take a break.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
The saying goes that “if you hold a flower in your hand and really look at it, for that moment it is your world.” Well, I don’t want my focus – my world – to be my problems.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“I see the world through my jaded eyes. I get frustrated when there is no why… I press on when I still don’t get it.” “Wrecking Ball (Press On)” ~ Building 429 with Blanca Callahan of Group 1 Crew

decide it!

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I wrote this today for my inspirational site.

some rain, some shine

I recently heard this quote:

“In life, you’re going to be left out, talked about, lied to and used. But you have to decide who is worth your tears.” – Unknown

I considered other ways Unknown could’ve phrased it.

“… But you have to decide who will bring you down.”

Or,

“… But you have to decide who is worth losing sleep over.”

Or even,

“But you have to decide who is worth sacrificing one more moment of your precious life allowing their thoughtlessness to negatively impact your health and peace of mind.”

Although more could’ve been said, the anonymous writer opted to leave the thought fairly open-ended, perhaps because the outcome *is* open-ended. People will let us down – as will other things in life – and then we have to decide where we take it from there.

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