Test, Loose, Paint, Deadline

Dude took the ACT test for the first time Saturday.

He’s known about this test for a month. So of course, Friday night he panicked.

Him: “I’m totally going to bomb the math portion.”

Me: “Did you study any of the problems in the book I bought you?” (I bought him a book specifically for the math and science sections of the ACT).

Him: “No.”

Me: “I seem to recall suggesting to you that you might look over the material in the book and on the ACT website so you would be prepared, so you could avoid this panic the night before business.”

He shrugged.

“Well. It’s too late now. Just do your best and we’ll see what happens.”

We looked at this test as a practice test. We (and by “we” I really mean “me” because he really doesn’t give a rip at this point) have every intention of taking it again his senior year. In fact, he’ll probably end up taking it again shortly after, or during the semester of, the math class he’s scheduled for next year. That way, the math / science sections will be fresh and he’ll probably do better.

But at any rate, I didn’t push him. I reminded him, at times, that “the ACT test is coming up in such-and-such weeks, are you ready?” But other than that, I didn’t MAKE him sit down and study or anything, I left it up to him.

And he blew it off, apparently.

I dropped him off at the school at 7:45 Saturday morning. He had his ID (driver’s license!) and his admission ticket, two #2 pencils, an approved calculator, his cell phone (which was off. The ACT website was very explicit – if the phone vibrated or went off, the student was disqualified) and some money for snacks at break.

He was physically prepared – I’m not so sure of his mental preparation.

He finished a little earlier than I expected, so I wasn’t up there to meet him when he finished. Kevin and I went to pick him up. Though he wasn’t exactly chatty (Dude has never been the chatty sort), he did voluntarily give us some information about how the test went. He’s pretty sure he aced the English / Reading portions (which I knew he probably would), but didn’t feel overly confident about the math / science sections. He was surprised by the science section. He was expecting questions about … well, science. Instead, he said the entire section consisted of four graphs and all of the questions were based around those graphs. He didn’t feel like he bombed it, but he wasn’t overly confident about it, either.

He said he saw a few of his buddies there. When he named the kids I had never heard of them before. I’ve always wondered how Dude got along with other kids, did he have a lot of friends, etc. (Jazz always talks about his friends so I knew he had a lot of friends, but I wasn’t sure about Dude since he doesn’t talk about stuff like that), but now I’m pretty certain that there is a side of Dude I’m not privy to, a more confident and friendly side that he doesn’t show me. And I’m getting that feeling from just some little tidbits I pick up here and there.

Anyway, it was nice to hear him talking about his friends and that he had some people to hang with at break. It also served to show Dude that taking the ACT test was just another brick in the maturity wall – that it was a necessary process to an independent goal. I don’t know that he thought we were mean for making him take the test, but I do think he thought it was not necessary. After running into some of his friends, I think it reinforced, in his mind, that it is necessary and he’s involved somehow. I think it made him feel good.

So, now we wait to see what his score is. He has very adamantly told me that I’m not allowed to tell anyone his score. And we set it up so that not even his high school will receive the score. For now, he just wants to wait and see how he did and we’ll take it from there.

I’m totally okay with whatever happens. He can always take the test over again (and he will), I’m more concerned with the fact that he DID it. He now knows what to expect and he now knows that all of this talk about college and getting a job thing is REAL.

Welcome to life, son.


Unbeknownst to me, Jazz bit into some corn on the cob at Easter dinner.

You don’t bite into ANYTHING when you have braces.

As a result, a bracket broke off as we were on our way to school Friday morning.

His orthodontist doesn’t work on Fridays. (That’s so annoying). So, Jazz went the whole weekend with wax stuffed in his mouth to keep the bracket from flopping around and making him cranky. It’s not hurting him, it’s just annoying. And it’s affecting how he plays the saxophone.

I just called the dentist’s office. Apparently, they can’t simply glue the sucker back on, they have to make wire adjustments, blahblahblah (I sort of zoned out of the process, quite frankly, I was more concerned with the when can you fix it sort of thing) and it takes time, time they don’t have in their schedule right now. But, since he has a regular appointment coming up, they said they would fix it at that time – killing two birds with one stone.

Which I’m normally okay with, but this thing is sliding around and is really quite annoying, so I’m taking him after school today so they can remove it. At least it won’t bug him until he can get in for his regular appointment.

What is really weird about this whole situation is that Jazz LOATHES vegetables. I have to make him eat them, and by make him eat them, I mean I have to sit there and watch him chew and swallow the five that I make him eat.

He never voluntarily eats vegetables – ever.

So when he told me that he ate corn on the cob over at his grandmother’s on Easter, I was both shocked and ecstatic. Maybe NOW the kid will eat his veggies without me harping on him! Maybe he’s FINALLY outgrown this aversion to veggies!

Um, no. He only ate the corn on the cob because he knew that I would ask him if he ate any vegetables and nag him because he didn’t. So, to avoid the nagging session, he ate corn on the cob.

Only, he wasn’t supposed to, not with his braces.

So this means that the bracket coming off? Is indirectly MY fault. Naturally.

*sigh* I can’t win.


Kevin and I spent part of our Sunday painting.

We painted the soffits first.

Before paint, sink side:

Before paint, range side:

Kevin rolling on the eggplant color on our soffits:

After paint, sink side:

After paint, range side:

This paint is really funny. One angle, it looks dark purple. Another angle, it looks brown. Which is exactly what we wanted to happen. We’re really pleased with how it turned out. It really contrasts nicely with the cabinets and gives the whole room a splash of color.

Kevin and I painted the rest of the kitchen a medium khaki color. He trimmed, I followed with the roller. You can’t tell that much of a difference until you see it up against the white beam, but I think it gives the entire kitchen a “warm, welcoming” feel and I just love it.

We’re nearly done with this project. We still have to repaint our trim and put that back on, then look for some artwork to hang on the walls. But I’m going to go ahead and stamp this project DONE because I’m sick of talking/thinking about it.

As I’m sure you’re equally sick of hearing/reading about it.


I also spent some of Sunday traveling to two client locations and taking pictures of their structures so I can put them on their websites. I have a client waiting on templates now and another expecting templates very soon. This week will be very busy for me.

Now that we don’t have any income coming in, I’m really going to focus on trying to obtain more clients, that way, I’ll have income from both my home business and an outside source (when I get a job outside the home).

I think Kevin and I are both getting a tad nervous about this money situation. We’re not hurting, but we do need to cool it on the spending.

It’s time to tighten our belts.

We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again.

Abundant Life

Teaching: Magnifying God’s Love For You

Every Sunday I provide videos and valuable links to the Truth or Tradition teachings. We’ve been following the Truth or Tradition teachings for many years now and they have truly blessed our family. We have found peace and happiness through our beliefs and we walk confidently for God. My hope, by passing on this information to you, is that what you find here, or on the Truth or Tradition website, will guide you to a better, more blessed and abundant life.

If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.

Let’s get started:

[The following article was taken from The Contender, a bimonthly magazine that was published by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International.]

Hey, here we are again on the edge, so we had best read the theme verses for this column.

1 Peter 5:6-8
(6) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, [so] that he may lift you up in due time.
(7) Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you.
(8) Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

No doubt you alertly noticed the words in all bold, which I will be expounding upon as we go. Certainly our Lord Jesus Christ epitomized obedience to the above verses, and in this month of April when we celebrate his resurrection, I am moved to dwell upon his magnificent accomplishment on my behalf. I hope that my standing in greater awe of it will inspire me to follow in his steps in my own life. If there were ever anyone who had to believe that God cared for him, it was Jesus.

From the moment Jesus realized who he was — the “Last Adam” with a chance to do it right, he came to see his mission clearly set before him in the pages of Genesis through Malachi. He also saw his kingly destiny, pending his obedience to walk the path set before him—a steep path strewn with gut-wrenching temptations as it led up to the ultimate challenge — the Cross. He saw that unless he chose to humble himself by obeying the will of his Father and laying down his life via a horrible death, God could not lift him up to newness of life, a life he could then pass on to all who would believe in him and his “one righteous act.” What motivated him to get through Gethsemane and walk out his agonizing decision to submit to torture and death? I think it was because he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God, his father, cared for him with infinite, detailed and relentless love. Possibly the following verses contributed to his faith that God was not only able, but also passionately willing, to care for him:

Psalm 62:11 and 12a
(11) One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong,
(12) and that you, O Lord, are loving.

One of the worst things about the lie first told by Satan in Genesis 3 that “you will not surely die,” that is, the lie that there is really no such thing as death (defined in virtually all dictionaries as “the end of life”), is that it gravely (get it?) dilutes the glorious truth of resurrection, as contrasted to the hideous reality of death. That lie, coupled with the lie that God became a man named Jesus, also greatly diminishes the magnitude of God’s love. How so? Because, as I think you will agree, especially if you are a parent, it took far more love for God to watch His only begotten Son suffer than it would have for Him to somehow violate all the laws He had set up and turn one-third of Himself into a baby so that He Himself could go through the torture and death. [For further study read Does the teaching that Jesus is the Son of God, not God himself, demean him?]

Of late in my life, I have been asking myself the question, “How big do I really see God’s love for me?” Since Scripture seems to indicate that our love for God (and thus our obedience, and thus His ability to bless us Ephesians 3:20-style as He so desires to do) is directly proportionate to our understanding of His love for us (“We love him because he first loved us”), it may be a relevant question for you also to ask. Perhaps, for each of us, the answer hinges on how big is our God, or, more accurately, how big do we see Him? The bigger God looks to me, the more faith I will have in Him. The more faith I have in Him, the more He can do for me. The more He can do for me, the bigger He will look to me. The bigger…ad infinitum blessum.

Here’s another question I’ve been asking myself: “What would I be like if I really, really, really believed that God (as in Creator, Big Daddy, nobody messes with) loves (as in fervently desires to do every good thing for me that He can) me (as in yes, the dirtball I know myself to be)? I’m sorry to say that I don’t think I know the answer experientially. But verses like 1 John 3:1 inspire me to continue to pursue the quest of knowing it up close and personal: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (NIV). What would I be like? I think I’d choose the road to Ephesians 3:20ville rather than the one to Margaritaville (I heard the song and I just wanted to say that — I’ve never even had a margarita). I think I’d be more fun to be around (even without a margarita). OK, so I’m running it into the ground, this is the end of the paragraph.

Recently, I heard it said that God is a “benevolent schemer,” meaning that He is constantly thinking and planning how He can thrill our hearts, blow our minds, knock our socks off, or however you would choose to say “show us His love.” When I heard that phrase —“benevolent schemer”— I thought of Santa Claus. Not because I still believe in the guy, or still send letters to “The North Pole” (When stamps went to 32 cents, I said, “That’s it!”), but because if you, like I, used to go to Wonder Mall and sit on Santa’s lap and rattle off your incredibly greedy list of 197 things you wanted for Christmas, you may have ended up by saying, “and some surprises,” just in case you forgot anything.

But I always did get some “surprises,” and I now realize that “Santa” was really my dad. Well, what kind of wonderful surprises do you think your father, God, wants to give you? And that brings up yet another question I’ve been asking myself (I sure hope I can answer some of these questions), given that God, my loving Father, just happens to be the Creator: “Am I excited about the no doubt many scintillating surprises God wants to give me today, and am I expectantly and faith-full-y anticipating them?” I think I’m supposed to live in perpetual wonder. And oh yeah, I remember, I’m supposed to live each day looking for the biggest surprise of all — Jesus Christ, in person, in the air!

So then, how can I see God bigger? Yes, Jesus did say that if we have seen him, we have seen the Father, so it is imperative to press into intimate fellowship with the Lord. But for now, let us think about the biblical exhortation to magnify God. Have you ever thought about what that means? Sometimes I think that my God is too small. Huh? Well, in terms of Him being able to do for me, and for others via me, all He longs to do, He is only as big as I “see,” i.e., understand Him, and I’ll trust Him only that much. I want to see God as big as I possibly can, so that I have as much F-A-I-T-H (Fabulous Adventures In Trusting Him) as possible.

Picture yourself scrutinizing the finer details of a local insect under a magnifying glass. Suddenly you find yourself back in a 1950s horror movie, before special effects were made really special through computer graphics, etc. In those days, movie “monsters” were actually grotesque-looking union insects hired to have their ugly faces filmed through magnifying lenses. To elicit fierce facial expressions, directors would threaten them by saying that if they did not comply, they’d see to it that the only parts they ever got after that would be in Raid commercials. Anyway…the point I am circuitously making is that when the bugs were magnified, they did not actually get bigger, but they did look bigger. Ditto for God, so how do we magnify Him?

You can read the rest of the article here.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about God’s wonderful message, please visit the Truth or Tradition website. You can also keep track of the ministry through their Facebook page, their YouTube Channel, or follow them on Twitter.

Thanks for reading.

(Comments have been turned off. The information is here to inform and bless you. God granted you the gift of free will – take it or leave it).

More from Write From Karen


Anger is My Shield

Anger is my primary emotion.

I use it when I’m sad.

I use it when I’m nervous.

I use it when I feel guilty, hurt or scared.

I pretty much tap my anger well all the time – unfortunately, I appear to have an endless supply of it.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not an angry person, I just use anger as my shield to other, less happy emotions.

I honestly don’t know why I’m like this. Even though I’ve had YEARS to self-analyze myself, I still do not have a concrete answer as to why my initial reaction to anything (even when I’ve been surprised, in a GOOD way) is anger. All I know is that is how I react.

It’s like my buffer zone to deeper issues and feelings. Once I get past the anger, only THEN do I really feel ready to face whatever it is I need to face.

Take this morning for instance.

Kevin had a gig last night. He didn’t get home until 2:00 in the morning.

Dude is taking his ACT test today. (Actually, he’s at the test center now).

I was sitting at my computer, catching up on some blogs, waiting to wake Dude up so he could start getting ready for his test when Kevin walked in.

The man got home at 2:00 this morning. When he walked in, it wasn’t quite 6:00 a.m.

My first reaction? Anger.

“What are you doing up?”

“Do you want me to take Dude to his test?”

What are you doing up? You need to go back to sleep. There is no way you got enough sleep.”

This, of course, doesn’t adequately relay the sarcasm that dripped with each syllable.

Kevin was hurt. I could see it in his eyes. He turned around and went back to bed.

And as soon as he disappeared, the GUILT and REMORSE set in.

*SIGH* Why do I react like that? WHY??

After sitting here and breaking down exactly why I reacted that way, here is what I’ve come up with:

I’m nervous for Dude. I want him to do well. I’m hoping that by being nervous FOR him, he won’t be as nervous.

I know. That doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

I’m worried. Kevin doesn’t sleep very well under ideal conditions let alone when something is going on. I worry that he’s not getting enough sleep, that he’s not taking care of himself. My life would crumble, evaporate, if anything were to happen to him.

And no, I’m not saying that to be all flowery and romantic, I honest to God mean that. I’ve allowed myself to REALLY love him – he is so much a part of me now that I can not imagine my life without him. I’m pretty sure I would end up being one of those widows who died of a broken heart if anything were to happen to him. The man’s not getting any younger. He needs to take care of himself.

I’m tired. I only got six hours of sleep (totally my fault – I didn’t have to stay up until midnight and watch Hannity) so my patience is thin to begin with. No excuse, but a reason.

I’m also tired of having to push-push-push Dude into doing anything. Once, just once, I wish the boy would act excited about SOMETHING other than video/computer games. This is his future, for crying out loud. I realize he’s only 17. He’s still only a kid. And I treat him like a kid so it’s partly my fault. But I wish he would surprise me. I wish he would take the initiative for once and wake ME up once in a while because he’s ready to do … whatever. I want him to be a grown up – yet I don’t.

Let’s add confused to my mix of emotions this morning.

I went in and apologized to Kevin. I gave him a kiss and softly told him to go back to sleep, that I had everything under control. I honestly want him to rest – the man doesn’t get enough rest because 1. he’s been programmed from an early age that sleeping in, resting, relaxing is a no-no, one must be productive at all times and 2. he doesn’t sleep well – ever. So he’s exhausted before he even starts his day. He can’t possibly maintain that pace forever.

It just occurred to me that maybe that’s why I’m so controlling. Because if I control my external world, that that helps me control my internal world. My emotions are in check because I have the control.

This control thing really is an issue.

I realize now, after taking a moment to step back and think about it, that Kevin got up and offered to take Dude not because he expected me to suddenly sag and say, “Okay. That would be great,” (as if), but because that was his way of trying to get involved with what was going on with Dude. He was trying to be a part of what was happening.

We have had a pretty traditional family setting all these years. I’ve taken complete control over caring for the boys and being an integral part of their lives. My life has pretty much been centered on me and the boys thereby giving Kevin time to focus all of his energies and thoughts on his work. He’s never had to worry about the boys, he’s never had to go get them in the middle of the day, he’s never had to directly deal with any problems that have come up with them over the years.

And that has worked for us. Given my personality there was honestly no other way. I had to be involved with the boys at every level because 1. I wanted to. I love them and can’t imagine NOT caring for them and 2. I simply couldn’t relinquish the control necessary for someone else to do the job.

This is no way means that Kevin has ignored the boys over the years – quite the opposite. He’s been (and is) a phenomenal dad. Hands on, always there if they need him. He tells them he loves them every night and he teaches them … man things – things that I am not equipped, nor capable of, teaching them myself.

It’s just that I’ve always been the one to make sure they get to school every day and on time. That any extra curricular stuff is taken care of – like this ACT test today. I helped him prepare last night. I made sure he had everything he needed this morning. I made sure he was up and had breakfast before I dropped him off. (He could have drove, but he didn’t want to. I think he wanted the moral support).

So I “get” why Kevin rolled out of bed after only five hours to ask me if I wanted him to take him to his test today – he wanted to feel like he was part of Dude’s life.

I get that NOW. Unfortunately, my anger shield shot up before I could stop it and I handled the situation badly.


Anger is my go-to emotion, I guess. It’s always the first thing I feel and react to under any given situation. I wish I wasn’t like this. I wish I was more loving and patient. But I’m not. I’m working on it, but it’s not who I am, but what I want to be.

The only time anger is beneficial for me, I think, is when there is an emergency: I’m great in emergency situations. That anger helps me stay focused on what needs to be done and done quickly. I can react to what happened later.

But on the whole, I wish anger wasn’t my initial reaction to things. More often than not, it makes the situation worse and then I feel worse after the anger wears off.

I should just have “I’m Sorry” tattooed to my forehead – it would make life a whole lot easier.


Ultimate Blog Party ’10 – Game ON

Are you ready to par-tay?!

Skip to giveaway.

Welcome friends! My name is Karen and I’m the hostess with the mostess behind this little blog. Cheese ball? Fudge square? Chips? Dip? Please, eat something. I always feel better when people eat food at my parties. 🙂

A little about me: I’ve been blogging for a little over five years now. This is actually my fourth blog – I started over multiple times because I simply couldn’t decide on what I wanted to blog about and what my voice was. But I think I have it ironed out now, at least, I won’t be changing homes again any time soon. In addition to this blog, I maintain a collaborative fiction writing blog called Write Anything, I also have a fiction blog (but I don’t post to that one very often).

I’m a professional writer, but my day job is a web designer. (Yeah, it doesn’t make sense – long story). I currently maintain eight local school websites, along with a few small business websites, so I keep pretty busy and am always on the computer. In fact, if I’m not here, you’ll most likely find me at my Twitter account. (In addition to twittering about my stupid human tricks, I also share interesting links that is sure to provide blog fodder at the most or a little extra thought at the least).

This is my fourth Ultimate Blog Party (UBP) and I can’t WAIT to discover fresh meat, er, fresh blogs, to add to my Google Reader. *grin*

A little about my family:

These guys? Are my sons and are responsible for most of my blog fodder. The oldest is Dude, he’s a hard-core gamer, is 17 going on 30. Jazz is my youngest son. He is nuts for Mario and loves to play his saxophone. He’s 15. Having teenage boys is a lot easier than having teenage girls (I guess), but it definitely comes with a different set of challenges.

Me and my husband, Kevin. We’ve been married for almost 20 years and he’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. He’s my best friend, my lover, my confidante, and my sugar daddy (don’t worry, he thinks that label is sexy). Kevin is a CPA during the day and a super sexy guitar player at night. We love hanging out together and we’re one of those annoying couples who finish each other’s sentences … I know. Sorry. *grin*

My blog is pretty straight forward – what you see is what you get. I blog about my family, mostly, though I do occasionally post my fiction along with fun videos, helpful parenting information, and opinions about current events. I’m an optimistic realist (how’s that for confusing) and though I have firm beliefs, I’m also fair with those beliefs. You can watch an “about me” video, if you’re so inclined.

I also participate in giveaways and contests because I love to give things away!

Speaking of which …


I’d like to give away one book from my Amazon book store. There are currently 374 books in my inventory so there’s a lot to choose from! 🙂

1. Each comment you leave in the comment section counts as one ticket. (One comment per day, please).

2. Subscribe to my feed, receive another ticket. (Please leave separate comment if subscribed).

3. Follow me on Twitter, receive another ticket. (Please leave separate comment if following).


I’d be honored if you would consider putting my blog in your RSS reader (or email!) and/or followed me on Twitter.

Click to put in RSS reader
Click to put in RSS reader

Click to follow me on Twitter!
Click to follow me on Twitter!

Thank you for clicking over! Have fun at the party and I’ll see you around the punch bowl!


Thursday Stuff

If I Thunk it, Then it Must be Thursday

We pick a subject, and your job is to interpret it anyway you want. Write about it on your blog… simple as that. Maybe you can interpret it as a picture – we don’t care!

1. Why do they ask you to get on the plane? Shouldn’t you get in it? When was your last flight?

Last summer. We flew to Miami to catch our boat to the Western Caribbean.

2. Why do they call two planes getting too close a near miss? Shouldn’t it be a near hit? Have you ever been on a plane that was in trouble?

Yes. It was one of my very first flights (naturally). Kevin and I were coming home from a cruise (we really don’t cruise that often – in fact, we’ve only been twice) from our tenth-year anniversary trip and we were on a little plane flying from St. Louis to Springfield.

We reached Springfield and had to circle around several times because the landing gear wouldn’t come down. One of the flight attendants had to open a trap door, in the floor and right next to where I was sitting and HAND CRANK the sucker down.

Yeah. That was one wild ride.

3. If a mute swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap? What have you done when your child sweared?

Um. Blushed? I’m about 99% certain that my kids learned curse words from none other than ME. Um. I sort of curse, a lot. Well, actually, before you go and think badly of me, I go in spurts. I can go for MONTHS without one curse word and then *POW*, it’s like I’m channeling a sailor or something. It gets pretty bad.

So bad, in fact, that my boys actually have to ask me to stop cursing.

I know.

So when they curse? I just give them a dirty look and say something along the lines of, “Hey now. Watch the language.” Other than that? What can I do? It’s like calling the kettle black.

4. How about a restaurant for anorexics? What would you call it? The Empty Plate? When was the last time you went out to a fancy restaurant?

Uh ………………. I honestly don’t remember. I hate spending money on food, especially “fancy” food, so we avoid fancy restaurants at all costs.

HOWEVER, our 20th anniversary is coming up next month so I’m betting we bite the bullet and actually go to one.

5. Where do forest rangers go to ‘get away from it all’? What do you do to get away from it all?

I grab a book. It’s cheap and effective. 🙂

6. Why do people who know the least know it the loudest? What do you do to get a know-it-all to shut up?

Prove him/her wrong. Know-it-alls are usually blow hards, meaning, they bluff their way through life and most times have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s pretty easy to trip them up, it’s even more entertaining to see them try and recover.

(Yes I know – I’m mean).

7. If a man speaks in the forest and there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong? Men: does your woman (or most recent) think that you are always wrong? Women: Do you believe that men are always wrong?

Always wrong? No. Usually wrong? Yes. 😀

8. If a turtle loses his shell, is it naked or homeless? Tell us about a time when you were caught naked.

Uh … never? I have been known to walk by a window or two in just my underwear though.

That can’t be proven of course *cough*, but I believe it’s been rumored a time or two.

9. Would a fly that loses it wings be called a walk? How badly do flies annoy you?

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the worst? A 17.

NOTHING annoys me more than trying to go to sleep and having a disoriented fly buzz by me a gazillon times getting so close that I can feel the tickle of it’s wings against my cheeks.

Flies must die.

10. Why do they report power outages on TV? When was the last time that you went without power?

Voluntarily? Because I’ll be honest. I’m not a green-sort of person – I like my modern conveniences, the least of them being electricity.

The last time I remember losing electricity was during an ice storm in 2007. We were without electricity for ELEVEN days.

I was Laura-freakin’-Ingalls.

It was not a fun experience, let me tell you.

11. If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat? Have you ever been or considered to be a vegetarian?

Actually, I could probably easily become a vegetarian. I’m not a big meat lover, though I do enjoy chicken and fish.

I could probably adopt the lifestyle – but I live with three guys who REQUIRE meat and potatoes at every meal, so I don’t see that happening any time soon.

12. If the cops arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent? Tell us about a time when either you were arrested or came close.

Well………………… there was that time I was nearly arrested for shop lifting. Luckily, I was able to sweet talk my way out of it (and forced to promise to go out with the officer’s brother).

What did I try and shop lift?

Nothing. I’m totally scamming you. *grin*

13. Why isn’t there mouse-flavored cat food? Have you ever owned a cat?

We did. When Kevin and I lived in our apartment, we had a kitten. Her name was Roxy. And things were good, until Kevin got a wild hair up his butt and thought it would be funny to spin her round and round really fast on the kitchen floor and it was if her sweet personality was jarred loose releasing a feline from hell in it’s place.

She was MEAN after that. She would claw our furniture and hiss at us. We finally had to give her up.

Kevin is really not mean and I bring the Roxy story up to him ALL the time, so trust me when I say, he is sorry and he’s been punished a lot over the years.

Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen – The Secret’s Out #3

Some of my favorite Post Secrets. I’m posting these because they resonate with me on some level. What’s your favorite secret?

And it’s a sobering day. (That day has come for me).

Though the man is certainly not blameless in this scenario, I sort of wonder if the woman chose to focus on her revenge instead of the role SHE played in the break up.

This is my secret. (Well. I didn’t send this secret in, but I very well could have). I often feel guilty for having such a good life.

It sounds to me the woman doing the spying has more issues than the person she’s is spying on.

Bitterness much? This makes me wonder what sort of relationship this is and I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. (Though he may be a jerk to her, does he really deserve food poisoning? What a vindictive thing to do).

I understand this secret. Some things just aren’t meant to be shared – with anyone.

Actually. I think this person has a lot of courage – for staying.

I’m betting they don’t care. Instead of focusing on the poor part, how about teaching the kids the value of managing money wisely?

There is only one person I’ve ever felt like this with and as fate would have it, I ended up working with her. I found out she was actually quite nice.

If you don’t trust him enough to NOT read his emails, then why are you with him? Trust has to start somewhere.

I sense a story in this one.

You did. Stop snooping or suffer the consequences.

How can any mother be ashamed of her son going into the Marines? I’m sure there is more to the story but on the surface? This secret makes me angry.

Visit the new Thursday 13 hub for more TT participants.

More from Write From Karen

Getting into Shape

Body Expectations – Get Real – Part Two

I’ve already written a post about body expectations, but it was geared more toward giving my testimony as far as my struggle to FINALLY become comfortable in my own skin. And even though it was cathartic for me to write about, I don’t really feel like I HELPED anyone out there looking to come to terms with his/her own body.

So … I did a little research about achieving that healthy body image level and thought I would share a few tidbits with you.

All of us are bombarded with images and messages all day that lead many to unhealthful obsessions with the shape of their bodies. At best, these body-image issues can be unpleasant and distracting from the goal of being healthy and happy. At worst they can lead to serious mental health problems like body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa.

And there are a ton of self-help books that deal with body image, but when all of the well-intentioned dust settles, it’s really up to US to actually make that change and change our personal expectations.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I had an eating disorder, but I have certainly struggled with depression when it came to my own body changes. A woman completely changes after she has children. That tight little body is gone and in it’s place is something softer, fuller and definitely more maternal in nature. This is not necessarily a good, or bad thing, I suppose it’s all how you look at it and what your personal goals are as far as your body, but please don’t think I’m using having children as an excuse for NOT getting back into shape and getting back on that healthy wagon – you owe it to your kids, your partner and especially you to treat your body with the respect it deserves.

And then, your body changes again after you turn 40. I’ve experienced it, first hand. (I’m 44). There are aches and pains that you never even knew were there before. Certain foods suddenly disagree with you, your eyes start playing tricks on you and it’s suddenly a whole lot easier to gain weight around your middle. Your metabolism slows down, which means eating habits have to change. There are hot flashes, night sweats, and a whole slew of other age-related issues that take you by surprise. Your body is more mature, slower, and any endurance you might have had before that point has either slowed down or disappeared completely. It’s quite an adjustment.

But not impossible.

Let’s get real – it’s highly unlikely you’re going to look anything like those Victoria Secret models, or runway models, or actresses or … anyone BUT who you are.

The trick is FINDING you. The challenge is finding that point where you feel good about how you look and your body is healthy enough to sustain you for many, many years.

It took me YEARS to reach a point where I feel comfortable with my size. There are moments, (okay, a lot of moments) where I wish I could lose just a bit more weight, or look more like some women I admire, but then I jerk myself back and face reality – I am me. I can improve, and I will continue to take care of myself, but ultimately, I can’t make myself to be any other person than who I am. And the sooner I accept that fact, the happier I will be.

Here are a few tips to help you with your own body image:

  • Don’t compare yourself. I know, easier said than done, right? Especially when we’re bombarded with magazines, television, movies, and other images on a daily / hourly basis. But it’s self-destructive. When we compare ourselves to others we always lose. But remember, you’re special because you’re you. No one can take that away from you. And let’s not forget that these “fantasy” women that are portrayed in our society as “beautiful”, are actually fake. Pictures are photoshopped. They’ve most likely had plastic surgery, and the week of recovering afterward. And then the stress of maintaining the plastic throughout their lives. And the deprivation – think of everything they CAN’T eat. Who wants to live life like that?

    Not me.

  • Focus on Your Accomplishments. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on your positive traits. Do you volunteer? Are you an excellent wife/mother/sister/daughter? Are you articulate? Do you have a lot of common sense? Do you have a knack for making people laugh? Do people gravitate toward you because of your kindness?
  • Learn to Take a Compliment. Ugh. I have such a hard time with this one. It’s like I work so hard NOT to draw attention to myself that when it happens, I feel embarrassed and guilty. I then cope with those feelings by downplaying the compliment and though I’m secretly thrilled to receive it, I’m equally appalled that the person might sense it and think I’m conceited. It’s a vicious circle.

    The very thing we are looking for — recognition — we brush off. Practice saying “thank you” when someone gives you a compliment. Don’t over analyze it, or judge the giver, or make light of it; instead let it soak in and allow yourself to feel really good.

  • Focus on the positive. Don’t say you can’t do something, because then you probably can’t. Don’t call yourself stupid, because you’ll start believing it. Don’t call yourself dumb, you’re not. Stop framing everything you do or say in the negative. Instead, think positively.

    “What a good idea; that was a good way of handling the situation”; or “That was a real accomplishment; I’m so proud!” By shifting from words of criticism to words of praise, you begin to change your life.

    I am constantly berating the boys for focusing on negative things like that. Keep telling yourself that you’re smart, that you ARE good enough and then watch what happens. 🙂

  • Affirmations. Find a part of your body that you like and accept, even if it’s your eyes, hair or smile. Write an affirmation about it. For instance, “I love the way my hair shines,” or “I love the way my eyes sparkle.” Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and repeat your affirmations to yourself. Say them with enthusiasm. Believe it! Even if you have to “fake it till you make it.” After a few weeks of doing this, you will come to believe and know that what you are saying is true. Then move on to another body part. Even though giving yourself compliments may become progressively more difficult, continue through until you LOVE YOUR BODY!
  • Learn to Compliment Others. In learning to compliment others, you learn the law of reciprocity. As you give, you do receive. By learning to acknowledge the good in others, you can learn to notice the good in yourself. Remember, to be loved, give love. To be accepting of your body, be accepting of others’ bodies.
  • Stop Fantasy Thinking. Do you ever hear yourself saying, “If I’d just lose 10 pounds I’d be happy,” or “If I had thinner thighs I’d be asked out more.” Stop those thoughts now! That is fantasy thinking. The truth is that there is room for all shapes and sizes in this world. People are attracted to others for a variety of reasons. Yes, sometimes attraction has to do with body, but that might be a smile or overall appearance. Others are attracted to another based on the energy they give off or their laugh or because they are funny. Your body is not the reason you are miserable. You were miserable first and took it out on your body. Get on with your life. Be loving, and you will attract loving people.
  • Heal Your Relationship with Food. If you are afraid of food, you will always be afraid of what it might do to your body. (More on food later).
  • Body Movement. The body was designed to move. To walk or run or jump or dance are normal activities. By reconnecting yourself to your body, you might be amazed at how incredible it really is. (More on exercising later).
  • Support. The struggle to heal your negative body-image is an ongoing battle. It is often wise to seek the professional help of a therapist and a dietitian. There are self-help groups available at no charge as well. Many books and articles have been written on the subjects of food and body. There are seminars available as well as church and temple groups. Talk to a trusted friend or relative. All of us need support. We are constantly barraged with messages about the fantasy body. We are given negative messages about food and weight. It is extremely hard in our culture to have a healthy, positive body-image. You need support. You deserve it!

(These tips were found in the Love Your Body : Change the Way You Feel About the Body You Have book).

It really is essential to get your mind on track BEFORE you attempt to tackle your eating and exercising issues. If your overall outlook about yourself is not in the right place, then getting other areas of your life back on a healthy track will be that much harder.

No. It’s not easy to undo years of damage. It’s hard to ignore society’s definition of beauty. And no amount of wishful thinking is going to get you where you want to be. It all starts with a hard, honest look at how you perceive your body image and finding a place to begin where you’re comfortable and ready to move forward to becoming a better you.