He’s Awkward and Cute…and Breaks my Heart

Bob stares at me. I stare at him. No words need to be exchanged. I know what he wants. Every day he does this. If he wasn’t so adorable, these awkward stares might be annoying. But he can wait. He has no choice. I am eating a plate of pancakes covered in syrup. I mean, not an entire stack of six huge pancakes, the kind of pile you might see at some dinner. No. Just three normal-sized ones. I am a girl after all, not a lumber jack.

I sit savoring my breakfast, looking out over the lawn that needs mowed and the mailbox that is leaning to the right a bit too much. Bob never cares though. Nor is he much help. He is still staring at me. I smile back, “Oh you poor deprived thing. Do you think we should call the animal abuse hotline for you?” He doesn’t think my joke is funny. He just sits, and stares with his big, sad eyes that remind me of Sam. I sigh.

As I sip my coffee, a bluejay lands on the deck railing. It just stares at me too. Odd. Very odd. But in an strange way, it brings me comfort. Bluejays were Sam’s favorite bird. The bird moves around the railing, and gets Bob’s attention. Bob turns to stare at it. He quickly realizes the bird has no food and loses interest. He stares at me again. I giggle and throw him a treat, which he practically inhales. “OK. OK. We can go in a second. Clearly, you don’t care about our little company here. I am sorry Mr. Bluejay, Bob has a one track mind. And right now, it’s time for our walk to the barn.” The bird stops walking around and stares at me, tilting its head back and forth – kind of like it’s actually listening to me. Weird.

I look down at the tattoo on the inside of my wrist. Two hearts connected by an weaving vine. Intertwined forever. Over the hearts, flies a bird. Sam said the bird was symbolic for protection, like a guardian of our love. He drew the beautiful design and came up with the story. So when he died last year, I took his drawing into the best tattoo artist and he put it to ink. I run my fingers along it. Tracing it. A tear runs down my check. “Damn it Sam! I can’t do this without you!” As I look at the ink bird, I realize, it’s a bluejay. Instantly I look up at the real bluejay that is still standing on the deck, chirping now, looking at me. Bob is looking at the bird too. “No. It can’t be,” I whisper. But as I go to stand, the bluejay takes flight. He circles around the deck. Bob and I stare at it circle. Suddenly, it lands right in front of Bob and stares at him. It chirps and chirps. Bob stares back and barks gently to the bird. Then he flies away.

With tears running down my face I cry out, “Sam? Is that you? Sam!” Bob nudges my leg and looks up at me with those sad eyes. I bend down and climbs up my legs to lick my tears from my cheek. “Awe-thank you buddy. Thank you. It looks like we have our own little guardian bird. He will be back…Oh please let him come back.”



Cee’s B&W Challenge on Animals.

BW Cee

which was to write a post that included the words
mailbox, bluejay, plate, syrup and ink.
And one more detail…the story must include a dog named Bob.

List of Adventure for the Weekend

This weekend, I am hosting a fun-filled girls’ party, and I could not be more excited. The only problem with the plan…I may not have time to complete my list of adventures!

It started with the idea that my older sister would visit for a few days. This of course meant that my younger sister who lives closer would need to come too. So while making plans for the sister weekend, one of my Army “sisters” reached out stating she had a free weekend. Of course, I told her to join in on the plans.

If you have followed some of my posts, you already know that I can be full of ideas, energy and lists. Naturally, I have put together some ideas for my sister weekend. We have all had some life stressors recently and really could use the girl time and the stress relief. Adventure, activity and laughs are definitely in need. So here is my list of ideas to make my sisters unwind a bit:

  • Kayak on the river.
  • Take a paddle board yoga class on the river.
  • Go to my daughter’s sorority family day: scavenger hunt and lunch.
  • Hike (and take pictures) at a canyon/state park.
  • Go to a classy symphony.
  • Walk around the farmers’ market.
  • Listen to some free live music at the downtown parks.
  • Go to a painting and sip place.
  • See some girly movies while wearing facemasks and eating chocolate. (Netflix-not theater, lol.)
  • Bake some cookies…and devour them!
  • Make some homemade soup…and then eat it.
  • Chat about life, which may include tears, laughs, screams or all of those.
  • Go eat sushi with girly cocktails.

This is not a mandatory list of course. We can deviate from the plans due to rain, lack of interest, or some other idea. I may be full of ideas but I am not the inflexible cruise director who demands we stay on schedule. No, we will go with the flow. I merely thought I would offer some ideas since I am the host and it is my hometown after all.

In my opinion, lists have to be fluid for them to be good. You can’t make a list so restrictive or complicated that it is hard to complete or it falls apart if one step is missed. That would only set the plan up for failure and disappointment. And in the case of my adventure-unwind weekend, that would be counterproductive.

So my advice to you wonderful followers is to seize your days, each and everyone. Make a list of what you want to do, accomplish and see. Your list can be big or small. Or better yet, it includes both big and small plans. It fuels your need for adventure AND quiet. Make it flexible and fluid. Try new things. Go new places. Through this, you will find out what you are passionate about and what you are not. And when you find your passion, you find your talents, energy and true self.


P.S. So if I don’t post anything until Monday…you will know I am working on the above list:)

Washing Away Sin

I was baptized in an unholy place—one of Saddam Hussein’s palace pools in Baghdad to be specific. At first, I thought this was a horrible place to get baptized, but actually it wound up being perfect.

When the chaplain mentioned where the baptism was going to take place, I started imagining the horrible things that must have happened around these grounds. It was pretty common knowledge that Saddam was not the nicest and holiest of men. With that in mind, I started to think that I should not go through with it. I wanted my baptism to mean something, to be special. I didn’t want it to be tainted with a history of evil.

Then it dawned on me, having my baptism in a place known for sin and violence and who knows what else, was actually very symbolic. I mean the entire point of being baptized is to cleanse you from the sin, from the past. To make what was tainted and dirty fresh…and start anew.

It was a moving experience to say the least. And the host of the service, Cannon White, spoke so eloquently, making it even more meaningful. It’s funny, because over the years, I had forgotten his name and it bother me. One day, I was listening to a National Public Radio broadcast and heard this religious speaker. I recognized his distinctive voice immediately. Without a doubt, he was the one who baptized me in May of 2005.

Now, ten years later, I think about that day and what it meant. I can’t say I was completely changed and that I am now the perfect Christian. No. I still stumble. I still sin. I am not perfect by any means. And I am not completely changed since I was a practicing Christian prior to my baptism. I just had not be baptized before and wanted to take that step.

I remember being a small child and watching someone get baptized. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be close to God. So right in the middle of a service, I started begging my mom. She told me I had to wait. I had to be older. And well, I couldn’t just go up there and jump into someone else’s moment. So of course, I threw a fit like the child I was. I lay under the pew crying that she was keeping me from God. LOL…my poor mother.

It was the right choice of course. Being baptized as an adult meant more. I had to really evaluate what I wanted and why. I got to choose for the right reasons. Every day is still a struggle though. It is hard to have faith in times of stress. It is hard to hold unto hope when things look bleak. It is hard to feel loved when you feel alone. And boy is it hard to turn the other cheek when people are cruel. But I try. I really do try. I think that is all we can do as people. Regardless of your faith, I think most of us try to live our lives well, have a purpose and make a difference. We try to be good, loving, and caring people. We won’t succeed every day. What is important though, is that we know, each new day is a chance to start anew. It doesn’t matter if we are coming from a bad past or have not always been the best person. We can all start fresh and wipe our slate clean, even if we do it with some questionable pool water.

For the Daily Post ~All It’s Cracked Up to Be.


The Factors of Love

Love. It is a universal language and desire. No, I have not met every person on the face of the earth, so this may not be a scientific fact. It is merely my opinion, and a good one if I say so myself.

Think about it. Who does not want to feel important? Listened to? Cared for? Desired? Protected? If there is one person on this earth who does not want that, there is something serious wrong with them. One, they are either alien or robot among us. Or two, they were hurt so badly by love once (or never received it) that they fear it and push it away from their highly guarded walls. I get that. I mean deep down, I really get the wall building reasoning. When someone’s “love” destroys you to your core, you go into a defensive mood. You protect yourself with distance and walls. It makes sense, but…I don’t think it stops the need for love.

But you may ask, what is love really? I mean some people LOVE pizza. Others LOVE their country. While others would just assume sacrifice their life or dreams for someone else happiness because of LOVE.

To me, love means many things since there are many types and levels. I won’t get into the love of pretty ponies or those soft frosted sugar cookies that melt ever so wonderfully in your mouth. So sweet that you can hear them calling to you to have another… No, no body has time for that. And frankly, if I talk about it much longer, I will have to drive to the store to swoop my cookie love off the shelf and into my eager mouth.

The love I mean, is love for people. We love our parents, siblings, friends, and relatives. To me, this is a bonding love. Then, there is romantic love. Romantic love is different of course as there is the physical attraction added to the mix. But if you take out the physical part (which I don’t really recommend as that is a fun part, but for the sake of this article ending at one point – remove that factor for now) both types of love have similar qualities. Let me point out a few:

Respect: Love builds respect. Or maybe respect builds love. Either way, I think true love requires it. Of course respecting them doesn’t mean you agree with every decision of theirs. No, it was not your choice to paint the bathroom Pepto-Bismol pink or to hang the meanest, ugliest deer head in your living room, but you respect their wishes/wants and you compromise because it make makes them happy.

Tolerance: When you love someone, I mean truly love them, you can tolerate their bad habits. This doesn’t mean you enjoy their moody teenage comments or their messy habits in the house, but because of love, you don’t kill them. And, you may even refrain from commenting about these things until a better time when they will be more receptive. Or…maybe never.

Sacrifice: Loving someone means sacrificing your time and plans sometimes. Maybe they need help with a project but you had other plans, really good plans too. So instead of going out to watch the one time showing of your favorite game/show/etc, you decide to stay home and help them research the history of musical effects on hamsters’ eating habits or to give them a hand at painting the garage. Neither of these would have ever made your list of “to dos” but here you are doing them…because of love.

Trust: Love requires us to trust people. There is not much choice in the matter really. When you really love them to your core, you open up to them. You tell them your dreams, disappointments, and fears. They KNOW you. And you KNOW them. There is a trust that comes with that. You don’t just divulge your life’s issues to anyone (unless you are a blogger, writer, singer, poet, or bitter angry person trying to vent about your ex’s atrocities). No, normal people (this is a big assumption here as I may not be officially normal and can’t claim to actually know normal people) open up to people they trust, which is a factor of love.

Communication: When you love someone, you communicate with them. Whether that is daily, weekly or only a few times a year, it is real communication. You actually listen to them. You hear what they are saying. You can empathize with them. And you expect them to do the same. You talk when they need you, even if you are not in the mood. You let them cry on your shoulder when you had planned to do something else. You let them know what your thinking, instead of letting them wonder in silence.

Attendance: Love requires time. It takes time to really get to know someone, all their issues, all their habits and all their dreams. While you are getting to know them, you are either learning to love them or figuring out how you can discreetly run away. But if you decide to love them, you give them your time. And most times, you are happy to do so. The time you spend with them is memorable, comfortable or exciting. Or, maybe all of them at once. The point is, you choose to be with them.

Happiness: Ultimately, happiness is the key factor of love. When you have all the other factors, you tend to be happy when you are with this person. They make you smile, laugh, cry, and think. Regardless of whatever happens in life, this person brings joy to your heart and soul. And you go out of your way to do the same for them.

I am sure there are several other factors for love and maybe they are different for different people. But for me, true love would have all of those components. People are complex. Therefore, our relationships could not be any less. I suppose that is what makes LOVE so dang rewarding. That through our ups and downs, our annoying habits, our endless imperfections, there is someone still there for us. Someone who loves us for who we are, regardless of ourselves. Now, tell me again, who would not want that?


Lost in Darkness

Sometimes my mind takes me to dark places. I don’t know why exactly, but I sink into it like warm bath water, slowly and deeply. It is not always scary or lonely, but most times, it is. When I am there, I look around and find that I feel terribly lost. Lost to my life, my dreams and my loved ones.

Most times, people don’t realize I am even there though for I cover it with smiles and activities. I stay busy a lot as I know this helps me avoid this dark path that I don’t like to travel. Yet, I can’t avoid it at times no matter how hard I try.

It is like slowly falling into cold darkness and being surrounded by nothing. Nothing but your thoughts. Thoughts that you cannot stop. They bombard your head like bullets. Each piercing some belief or hope. Each reminding you why you should not do something, be happy, or expect more from life. It tells you why you are worthless. It tells you that you are unlovable. It tells you that you are a failure. It tells you that the bad things were all your fault. It tells you that you deserve to be sad. You try to rationalize these bullets, but there are too many to fight. They are flying around you, through you.

This is a great time for dark writing, forlorn poetry and heart-wrenching tears of release. It can be useful to stand on the edge of madness and see what lurks deep inside your soul. The key is to not step over that edge…because if you do, it gets worse.

After that, the barrage of mental bullets stop, which you would think is a good thing. But it only leaves you in emptiness. Utter emptiness devoid of thought. You just sit there. You can’t cry. You can’t talk. You can’t think. You are just there and alone and numb. This is what I see/feel when I hear Great Big World’s (with Christina Aguilera) video Say Something, which nearly brings me to tears every time.

It is such a beautiful song and yet rips my soul out. It reminds me of lost love and being lost in my own darkness. It makes me think of times when I tried so hard to reach out to someone I loved to only be ignored or pushed away. It makes me relive times when I myself am unreachable. It makes me think of my veteran friends who can’t escape some terror in their mind (or my civilian friends who are just fighting depression). It makes me feel like no matter how much you love someone, sometimes you can’t help them, pull them out of themselves.

I like to think there is a path out of the darkness though. I find my way out all the time. Unfortunately though, I find my way back just as easily. But I am probably lucky; many don’t leave the darkness and can’t find the path. That’s when it gets dangerous. That’s when people give up on you, like the song says. Sadly, when we are lost in that darkness is when we need people the most. If only we could say something to them, they might be able to understand and pull us out into the light.