Posts filed under ‘Advice For Life’

A Boy and His Dog . . . and His Cats and His Other Dog and His Chipmunk: Part I

black and tan australian terrier puppy

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

(Note: This is an excerpt from a letter written by my brother, Bob Williams, on December 22, 1997. Part I is dedicated to Rae and Patti. Part II will follow on Thursday.)

The other day I was walking in the woods with a small companion who is a very close friend, you might say family status. I became engrossed in other things, and when I turned around, he was nowhere in sight!

I called for him, but there was no response. I looked for him down in the ditches, through the trees—calling his name all the while. After five minutes, I felt the back of my neck start to heat up, and my calls took on a desperate tone: Panic had set in.

It was exactly like the time my daughter hid from me outside the house for fifteen minutes because she thought it would be fun. Three-year-olds think that way; they really haven’t studied worry or panic at that age.

I remembered the sensations and I didn’t like the memory or the feeling. Finally, at full hysteria pitch, I ran down a side trail which hooks up 1/8th of a mile west of the main path, crying out his name. When I came back out, I looked to the east, and there he was, walking nonchalantly toward me, a look of greeting in his eyes.

At this point the sweat I had worked up was burbling at my collar. I could feel the steam hiss in my ears. Now in tantrum gear, I threw down my mittens and hat in W.C. Fields fashion and cursed the very universe he was born in. Suddenly I was flooded with relief, and I picked him up and held him with gratitude. Then I put him back down, and we walked on—me and Benji, the wood-brained Yorky.

How can a man love a creature that much? A lot of it is in him, his good heart and sweetness, but it goes beyond that.

My friend the Professor is a small, balding man with a mad glitter in his eyes. He’s a furniture builder, a violin maker, an accomplished father, and as good or better a blues-harp player as I’ve heard anywhere, in any format. He’s also knowledgeable in many fields of science, including astronomy and quantum physics, but his field is paleontology.

The Professor is the world’s foremost authority on the North American prehistoric bison. He’s published more research on these creatures than anyone else, and has  reconstructed two of the three known complete skeletons in existence. He’s a fascinating and engaging person to be around, and I enjoy his company.

This is all beside the point, however, when it comes to loving the man. Love goes beyond or around liking or interest. There is quite simply something about him that tells me he is my brother, and this sense is not intellectual in any way, but a visceral sensation of affection. As you can see, it’s not possible to put into words.

This is how I feel about my housemates—six little creatures who, in their innocence and joy in living, bring me so much happiness and contentment. You can’t explain this to someone who hasn’t connected with animals; they just don’t get it. Strive as I might to be non-judgmental, I actually think those people are depriving themselves of something good. I know they are missing out, and I feel sorry for them.

**To Be Continued**

 

 

 

November 4, 2019 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

Finding Comfort in Consensus

10-12 blog

Spoiler Alert: This piece has nothing to do with politics and is rated I, as in Inoffensive for All Readers.

It happened again this morning. I awoke at 6:50 after seven-plus hours of sleep feeling not-so-rested and utterly lacking in ambition. Since this is a seasonal pattern for me, I took my concerns to that font of all wisdom, that oracle in the cloud, The Internet.

Type in Autumn Fatigue, and guess what? It’s a thing. Or at least it’s common enough to have a name. My search didn’t disappoint, and I’m hoping you’ll find the physiological explanations for this recurring complaint comforting.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one percent of Floridians and nine percent of Alaskans suffer from seasonal changes in mood and energy level. Clearly the Sunshine State has advantages over the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Well, duh, you say. But do you know why, smarty pants? With daylight hours shrinking as winter nears, receptors in the eye are the key. Exposure to natural light causes chemical changes that signal the brain to block the sleep hormone melatonin. Allowed to scurry around unfettered, melatonin convinces us that it’s nap time at 10:00 a.m. Not good.

So, if sunlight is such an important variable, we need to soak it up at every opportunity. And when those nimbusy snow clouds make this impossible, I guess fake it with ion therapy lamp exposure.

Advice to rehydrate seems less obvious, even though reliable sources have long advised that insufficient fluid intake slows the metabolism. In the summer heat, thirst nags at me. But as a chill creeps into the air, I’m more likely to sip hot tea than chug cold water. May have to set up some daily reminders for this one.

Some tidbits were more intuitive: listen to serotonin-boosting music; find a way to get those seven-to-nine recommended hours of sleep; make time for stress-clearing exercise, since it boosts endorphin production and helps immensely with that sleep thing; pay extra attention to your diet.

The food aspect grabbed my attention. After all, we have more control over our diets than over gray skies and the earth’s rotation patterns. Thinking of it that way makes it easier to give up the Cheetos in favor of some of Autumn’s colorful, vitamin-rich offerings. (There are multiple lists of “good mood foods” available online.)

On Wednesday, as I started this, I opted for canned pumpkin stirred into my morning oatmeal, poached a salmon filet to add to my spinach and fresh mushroom salad lunch, then enjoyed a slab of roasted pork loin and a huge pile of roasted root vegetables for dinner. Dessert was apple slices poached in cider and topped with vitamin-D enriched vanilla Greek yogurt and toasted pine nuts. No sacrifices there.

Also on Wednesday, I ditched my treadmill workout for a fifty-minute power walk under sunny skies. Alas, the photos above document the radical detour today’s weather took.

Having done battle with fall fatigue, I’ll be rephrasing my next search. Meanwhile, let’s pray that today’s white stuff was a fluke and we won’t have to deal with winter weariness any time soon.

 

 

October 12, 2019 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

Don’t Be a Dumb Bee

 

bee-pexels-photo-395241

I’m about to date myself. Just clacking that phrase onto the empty page is weird. Sounds like I’m getting ready to take myself out to dinner and a movie. And truth be told, a lot of my expressions probably reveal my age anyway. I mean, who says and truth be told these days?

But back to the subject, which is Romper Room. This classic children’s television program first hit the airwaves in 1953 and was aimed at teaching preschoolers to be good little citizens—all part of a lost culture not to be found in mainstream children’s programming today. It must have been effective, because certain elements of the program remain engraved in my memory.

There was the changing roster of former teachers—Miss Nancy, Miss Francis, Miss Bonnie—who, surrounded by a gaggle of in-studio tots, peered through a Magic Mirror to “see” and name specific children in the viewing audience. Other daily staples included The Pledge of Allegiance, stories imbued with moral messages, games, exercises, background music from Mr. Music, and milk and cookie time, always preceded by a short table prayer. (Sigh.)

Hovering over these activities was Mr. Do-Bee, a freakishly oversized striped insect who delivered messages with such scintillating lyrics as:

Do be a sidewalk player, Don’t be a street player; Do be a car sitter, Don’t be a car               stander; Do be a plate cleaner, Don’t be a food fussy; Do be a play safe, Don’t be a match toucher.               

Simple but sensible. I know I took this stuff pretty seriously at age four.

Jump ahead to 2019, when a little simple but sensible would be refreshing. I’ll cite two recent examples.

January 12, Layton, Utah. A 17-year-old pulls her beanie cap over her eyes in blind obedience (forgive the pun) to the internet-promoted Bird Box challenge based on the apocalyptic Sandra Bullock thriller about a mysterious force that must not be looked upon at risk of death.

Well, talk about risking death. The girl crashed her pickup truck into another vehicle. Who’d of thunk? Obviously not this teen. Nor the dozens of others who joined the same craze after 22-year-old YouTube celebrity Jake Paul walked across a busy Los Angeles street while blindfolded, because, hey, what could go wrong?

But it’s not only generation z-types modeling insane behavior.

March 10, 2019. A 30-something woman climbs over a safety fence at Arizona’s Wildlife World to take a selfie with the zoo’s resident jaguar. She survived, but this stunt cost her claw gashes to one arm, an ambulance trip to the hospital, and some public disdain.

“When people do not respect the barriers, there’s always a chance there might be a problem,” said a zoo spokesperson. Uh, duh?

Society has always produced daredevils, of course. In the computer age, our ability to interconnect can quickly become either an international stupidity virus or a global object lesson: Don’t be a Dumb Bee. Let’s all hope for less of the former and more of the latter.

April 13, 2019 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

Hope Endures

       Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. Corrie Ten Boom

The anguish of watching a loved one stumble into the snare of addiction can test even a parent’s love. I encountered such a mom recently and was amazed at her fortitude as she described leading her daughter out of that entanglement by letting her face the consequences of incarceration.

Inspired, I wrote to a young acquaintance serving a three-year sentence for drug crimes to assure him that there is hope in all circumstances.

Dear Robert,
I think often of how far away you are from your parents and how difficult it must be when they aren’t able to visit. My heart aches for each of you, but I am reminded that God can weave purpose through 
every tribulation.

A few years ago, a dear friend called me in tears. Her husband had been arrested on a charge of first-degree murder. I was stunned. How could this happen to such fine Christian people? My friend’s disabled husband went on to spend a year in jail awaiting the court date because they couldn’t afford both bail and a lawyer.

During his trial it all became clear: In order to access grant money and gain professional recognition, an overzealous prosecutor had re-opened a cold case that had been declared an accident twenty-five-years earlier.

The case crumbled when the “eye witness” broke down. He’d made up his testimony, he said, because he was terrified by the prosecutor’s relentless badgering. Meanwhile, my friends endured twelve months of crushing worry that the truth might never come to light. Yet through it all this couple remained steadfast in prayer, holding onto the belief that God resurrects good from bad.

Your situation is difficult. But I believe that, through it, God can mold you into the person He meant for you to be. It takes courage to endure, but with the Lord’s help, the impossible becomes possible.

Before God led me home to faith in my late-thirties, I sinned in ways that still bring me pain. But He uses my past mistakes to guide me today. There is great comfort in that side of salvation. I can’t explain it, but I can celebrate it. And when difficulties arise, I’ve learned that I can bear all things when I open myself to His offer of strength.

Please know that your church family supports your efforts to make things right in your life. We look forward to the day when we will welcome you back with open arms. Until then, we hold you in our hearts and prayers and entrust you to the Lord’s open arms for comfort when things get tough.

My friend who was falsely accused of murder witnessed to many during his year of imprisonment, planting the seeds for restoration through faith. That’s God making lemonade out of lemons, and He can sweeten your bitter cup as well.

Yours in Christ

 

,           pexels-photo-267559.jpeg

February 20, 2018 at 6:05 pm 2 comments

I Know It’s Fiction, But Puh-leeze!

8-18-17 fiction books blog pic

It disturbs me that so many contemporary fiction writers—who apparently don’t actually know any Christians, personally—consistently reach into their drawer of hackneyed stereotypes in order to round out their character lists. (This happens with screenplays, too, of course. But today I’m talking about a failure of imagination in the literary arts.)

What they invariably end up with is the standard, tiresome, pursed-lipped hypocrite who “tsks” and lectures her way through the dialogue and is universally despised by the other reasonable, open-minded types who populate the novel’s pages. This is especially apparent when two other ubiquitous characters, the token gay guy and the unmarried young mother, are introduced, only to be shamed by the Christian fusspot and affectionately accepted by those of nobler disposition.

Sure, there are plenty of obnoxious individuals out there—some of them claiming to be believers, some not. But a lot of the people I hang around with nowadays are Christians, and not one of them fits the unflattering typecasting I encounter in my bedtime reading adventures.

The fact is that we all do bad stuff. Some of us have accepted that fact and some of us haven’t; some of us feel remorse and a desire to overcome our baser inclinations, some have no grasp of those concepts. The Christians I know struggle mightily to reconcile their fondness for—and fear of offending—the particular, unrepentant sinner with their grave concern for his or her spiritual welfare.

This concern is an expression of love, not a judgment. After all, mere mortals didn’t write the rule book. The code for moral living comes from a much higher source. And it certainly wasn’t invented by the annoying, small-minded, holier-than-thou, pleasure-thwarting goody-goodies I come across far too often in the realm of cozy mysteries and mainstream story-telling.

This pigeon-holing trend makes me sad. Yet, like Christo-phobic Saul/Paul who was brought into the Light by a God who sought to turn his evil deeds to good, I was once among the stereotypers. I scoffed at anyone, especially people of faith, who dared to define shalts and shalt-nots in black-and-white terms. Ironically, I also condemned them.

Then I fell in love with an earnest Christian man. Met his delightful, fun-loving family. Saw true faith put into action as selflessness and generosity. Developed friendships with devout people who lived by conviction but were nothing like the disapproving Pharisees I had let myself be convinced they would be. These were kind, forgiving souls who accepted me right where I was—on the cusp of unbelief—and gave me plenty of elbow room to find my way home.

That’s my reality-based experience with Christians. Now, I urge the disseminators of the musty old cliché described above to step into the real world to research their next projects. Could be a revelation!

Meanwhile, back to gritting my teeth through the last few chapters of Murder at the Book Group. Is that Karma I feel nibbling at my derriere?

August 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm 2 comments

Thundershirts for All!

pexels-photo

Pulled up from the archives, a revised version of a post from a few years back, with my best wishes for a happy Independence Day.

Some days, it doesn’t pay to tune in to the evening news. Between rogue doctors shooting up hospitals, raging wildfires in Central California, escalating murder statistics in Chicago, and urban gang violence closer to home, the fear and trembling can be tough to shake off.

Turn to the internet and you learn that common-sense efforts to protect our citizenry from preventable terrorism threats are being fought at every level of the judiciary system. So now I’m afire with indignation. That’s hard to shake off, too.

Yes, sometimes the world seems like an upside down and backward place, where staying sane and tranquil plays out as Mission Impossible. The ads between news segments—or yahoo headlines—offer plenty of pharmaceutical solutions for the disquiet caused by too much exposure to the raw facts of modern life. But I don’t fly that way.

Enter the pet care industry. I’m serious. Semi, anyhow.

A few years ago at about this time, I was complaining about the dreadful effects of booming fireworks on my eight-pound chihuahua-papillon pup. (Quaking like partially-set Jello in a 6.3 earth tremor and panting with anxiety—highly contagious responses, I might add—the clock had blinked 3:00 a.m. before I finally convinced her that the evil noise gods had retired for the night.)

That’s why my ears pricked up when, shortly afterward, I saw a promotion for the ThunderShirt®–a swaddling garment designed to calm and comfort your furry companion through storms and other loud events. Since I’m not big on drugs for my pets either, I made a point to look into the merits of this product.

Bottom line: My vet’s office offered it for a lower price than online outlets or pet warehouse chains, and the goofy looking little spandex kimono proved to be quite effective. We survived both the following year’s July 4th celebrations and seasonal thunderstorms with very little trauma for Muñeca or her owner, and sailed into the next day better rested and much less angry at the pyrotechnics industry.

Lessened anger is a good thing. It clears some emotional space for the angst that goes along with those nightly news reports.

But wouldn’t it be great if we could come up a human equivalent of the Thundershirt®? Maybe a stretchy, velcroed version of that ultimate in fad Christmas gifts, the Snuggie®? Please contact me if you are interested in a little joint-entrepreneurial effort in this area. I have plenty of ideas, but I’m a bit challenged in the action department.

 

July 5, 2017 at 12:38 am 1 comment

Hero Dads

jaknsak_reunion

Ah, Father’s Day. A large dose of joy for those with children who venerate Dad with sincere tributes and meaningful gifts, and maybe even a kid-catered outdoor barbecue.

A little sliver of sadness for those of us whose fathers have long been absent from our third-Sunday-in-June celebrations; we who must settle for reminiscences and family photographs to satisfy sentimental yearnings.

A goodly slab of a heartache for those of us who have lost beloved fathers or husbands in recent months or years.

I don’t have any children, but my Sweetie had three. And from Day One of our courtship, he impressed me with his loving and forgiving fatherly ways. On June 20, 2010, I told him this in a one page letter.

Dearest Hank,

The approach of Father’s day inspires me to tell you that you are my hero. How so, you ask? Let me count the ways:

-Back in high school, when I learned that you had diabetes—a rare and exotic condition in 1965—I saw you handle that challenge with dignity and grace. Even then, I admired and respected you. Even then, while I was still a doofy adolescent and you seemed light years ahead of me in wisdom and maturity, you were a hero to me.

– Your gentle ways, your decency and kindness, these also shone through back then. I carried that image of you with me through the years following graduation.

Then we re-met in ’86, and I slowly came to understand your immutable values; to witness first-hand the way you lived your faith with integrity and consistency. And I knew even before I knew that I loved you madly that you were a hero to me.

-After we married, and I came to know the full story of your adult experiences, I marveled at your thoughtful approach to difficult situations and your sincere efforts to always put the best interests of your children first.

The patience you showed to those children through their most challenging years left me in awe. And oh, how that solidified the certainty that you were a hero to me.

-Over our years together—through failures and successes and medical challenges, through grief and joy and all points in between—I could always depend on you to help me put the rudders of reason and rational analysis to this ship built of raw emotion on which I navigate my way through life. For this I will always be grateful, and for this you are a hero to me.

This is only a partial list. I wanted to be brief . . . for a change; to leave the focus on the Man of the Hour: one of the most honorable fathers I have ever had the privilege to know—my Love, my Hank, my Hero.

Forever yours,

Hanes
—————————————————————————————-
Note to readers: If your father—or your husband—is your hero, please do tell him that today. Some things just shouldn’t be postponed. Besides, it will make a lovely dessert to go with those char-grilled hot dogs and burgers.
Blessings on your Father’s Day festivities.

 

 

June 18, 2017 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

Older Posts


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 285 other followers

About

Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

And what is the "something" we are aiming for here? Simply a life of robust good health in every important area - spiritual, physical, cognitive, and emotional.

To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

Have a taste and see what you think. If you like what we are serving up, please tell your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to stop by for a visit, too.

For automatic reminders of new posts, sign up for an Email Subscription, above.

Past and current posts.

June 2020
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930  
© Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com 2009-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.